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Path: /nfl/nfl-picks-every-game-week-1

A quick look at every game on the NFL schedule for Week 1, along with the consensus pick of Athlon Sports’ editors.

Ravens (0-0) at Broncos (0-0)
Peyton Manning threw two INTs and lost one of his two fumbles in a 38–35 overtime playoff loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Ravens last year. Manning’s ready for Mile High redemption in the Thursday night season-opener. Broncos by 5

Patriots (0-0) at Bills (0-0)
The Pats are 4–4 in openers vs. the Bills — with a defeat in 2009, the last time they met Week 1. Patriots by 16

Titans (0-0) at Steelers (0-0)
Tennessee has not made the playoffs since stomping on the Terrible Towels in 2008. Steelers by 4

Falcons (0-0) at Saints (0-0)
Coach Sean Payton returns from his year-long “BountyGate” suspension to play New Orleans’ chief rivals for NFC South supremacy. Saints by 1

Buccaneers (0-0) at Jets (0-0)
Darrelle Revis makes his Bucs debut by bringing “Revis Island” back to New Jersey. Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith will be making his first career start. Get ready to hear booing. Buccaneers by 6

Chiefs (0-0) at Jaguars (0-0)
The two worst teams from last season square off for a guaranteed 1–0 start for one team. Chiefs by 6

Seahawks (0-0) at Panthers (0-0)
This marks the first of four Eastern Time Zone contests for the Pacific Northwest Seahawks. Seahawks by 7

Bengals (0-0) at Bears (0-0)
Former CFL coach Marc Trestman makes his NFL debut. Remember, there are four downs. Bears by 1

Dolphins (0-0) at Browns (0-0)
Cleveland has lost 13 of its 14 season-openers since returning to the NFL in 1999. Dolphins by 1

Vikings (0-0) at Lions (0-0)
Adrian Peterson “only” rushed for a combined 273 yards and one TD vs. Detroit last season. Lions by 1

Raiders (0-0) at Colts (0-0)
Silver-and-Bleak to start Terrelle Pryor at QB, while lucky horseshoes still have Andrew Luck. Colts by 11

Packers (0-0) at 49ers (0-0)
The last time Colin Kaepernick played against Green Bay, he passed for 263 yards, rushed for 181 yards and accounted for four TDs in a 45–31 win over the Packers in the NFC playoffs. 49ers by 4

Cardinals (0-0) at Rams (0-0)
The Cards return to St. Louis, where the team played 1960-87 before flying the coop to Zona. Rams by 6

Giants (0-0) at Cowboys (0-0)
Big Blue has a 7–3 record against Big D over the past five seasons, but did lose last year’s opener. Giants by 1

Eagles (0-0) at Redskins (0-0)
The start of the Chip Kelly era and the return of RG3 collide on Monday Night Football. These NFC East division rivals could combine for a high-scoring shootout in prime time. Redskins by 5

Texans (0-0) at Chargers (0-0)
The Week 1 nightcap pits volatile Philip Rivers against sleep-inducing Matt Schaub. Texans by 8


Predictions for every game on the NFL schedule for Week 1 of the 2013 season.
Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 15:44
All taxonomy terms: Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods, Golf
Path: /golf/jordan-spieth-best-rookie-season-tiger-woods

Comparing anyone to Tiger Woods is typically a fool's errand and will do nothing but humiliate the individual being compared. Woods' numbers — 14 majors, 79 wins, a career winning percentage of .257 — dwarf anything any other active player (or two or three) can muster. Aside from Jack Nicklaus, there's no other real contender for the title of History's Greatest Golfer.

But a certain rookie, who just turned 20 years old, is doing things that a 20-year-old Tiger once did. Earlier this year, Texan Jordan Spieth became the first teenager to win on Tour since 1931 and the fourth-youngest winner in PGA Tour history. He became the first player since Tiger to start a season with no Tour status whatsoever and still qualify for the Tour Championship. There hasn't been a rise this meteoric since erstwhile grocery stocker Kurt Warner won the MVP and the Super Bowl.

Here's some of what Spieth has accomplished:

• He began the year at No. 810 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He currently stands at No. 28.

• He parlayed early sponsor's exemptions into Special Temporary Member status, then full status, then FedExCup contention.

• His win at the John Deere Classic in July, which gave him full Tour status, improved his World ranking by 61 spots.

• He had one of the shots of the year at the John Deere, holing out from a greenside bunker on the 72nd hole to earn a spot in a playoff with defending champion Zach Johnson and David Hearn.

• Spieth was an obvious Captain's Pick for U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples — after starting the season outside the top 800 golfers in the world.

In other words, Spieth has earned has earned his Tiger comparison. So we're happy to oblige.

Here's a look at Spieth's rookie year (with two tournaments yet to play) compared with Woods' explosion onto the scene as a 20-year-old rookie in 1996.

                                     Spieth               Woods

Tournaments entered     21                    11*

Tournaments won           1                      2

Runner-ups                     2                      0

Top 5s                             4                      5

Top 10s                           8                      5

Top 10 pct.                  .380                   .455

Top 25s                         11                      8

Low round                     62                     63

Scoring average          69.79               69.44

*Woods played The Masters, U.S. Open and British Open as an amateur in 1996.

We give a slight edge here to Tiger, but keep in mind: He turned professional in September, after the tournaments on the toughest courses with the toughest fields had already been played. Spieth has amassed his accomplishments in the teeth of the Tour schedule. Also, keep in mind that Spieth shot his 62 at the Deutsche Bank, a pressure-charged FedExCup playoff event, while Tiger's rookie low round of 63 came in Las Vegas, notorious for a relaxed atmosphere and low scores.

No pressure, Jordan, but the title of "Next Tiger" is out there for the taking. All you need to do is win the 2014 Masters by 12 or more shots.

Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 12:52
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-2-2013-upset-predictions

The Week 2 college football slate is relatively light with elite matchups. Florida-Miami, Notre Dame-Michigan and Georgia-South Carolina are the must-see games, but there’s not much else to get excited about. Of course, college football is on television, so at least there’s something to watch. 

With a chunk of FBS teams playing opponents from FCS or BCS versus non-BCS conference matchups, the pool for upsets appears to be small this week. BYU hosts Texas in an intriguing non-conference game, and receiver Cody Hoffman is expected to return after missing last week due to a hamstring injury. Hoffman's return is huge for an offense that struggled to move the ball through the air last week.

The favorites can't win every game each week, so it's no surprise one of the most popular discussion points every Saturday is upset picks. Each week on, the editors will give an upset pick for the upcoming week of action.

Other Week 2 Previews and Predictions
ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

College Football Week 2 Upset Predictions

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): Wake Forest (+3) over Boston College
I realize this isn’t much of an upset in terms of point spread, but just as I mentioned in Week 1, there’s not much to like with the odds early in the year. Western Kentucky over Tennessee is very tempting, but I’m giving the Volunteers a slight edge in that one. Wake Forest and Boston College both played FCS opponents in Week 1, so this will be a better test of where both teams stack up in the ACC. Both squads have plenty of kinks to work out over the next few weeks. The Demon Deacons have a shaky offensive line, and the Eagles are adjusting to new schemes on both sides of the ball. Boston College also needs to find another receiver or two to pair with potential All-ACC target Alex Amidon. This game is a tossup, but I like Wake Forest to leave Chestnut Hill with a three-point win. 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): Notre Dame (+4.5) over Michigan
These two have split the last two meetings since both Brady Hoke and Brian Kelly entered the series with the home team taking each of the last two meetings. Last season was the lowest scoring meeting between the two since 1909 and the Irish defense will once again take center stage. If Tommy Rees is even half of the player he was in Week 1, he should be able to move the ball effectively against a Michigan defense that is still a recruiting class or two away from being championship caliber. Look for the ND defensive line to pressure Devin Gardner into a few mistakes and that will lead to an upset in one of the most "historic, traditional" rivalry games in college football.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): BYU (+7) over Texas
A home underdog raises eyebrows, for sure. I also wonder if we’ve overcompensated for Week 1. After stalling early, Texas throttled New Mexico State as it should, but BYU had a bizarre game against Virginia, delay for more than two and a half hours by lightning. A Western team going East, a rain delay and two Virginia drives starting in the red zone due to a turnover and a blocked punt leads me to believe we might see the real BYU team this week. I like the Cougars pass rush against David Ash, who threw two first-half picks against New Mexico State.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): Arkansas State (+11.5) over Auburn
It’s possible that Auburn’s Week 2 opponent (Arkansas State) has more talent than its Week 1 opponent (Washington State). The Red Wolves are solid at quarterback with Adam Kennedy, a transfer from Utah State, and outstanding at tailback with David Oku, a former Tennessee Vol. The wild card on offense could be Fredi Knighten, who ran for 101 yards (one of four Red Wolves to top the 100-yard mark) and two touchdowns on three carries against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. I smell upset.

Mark Ross: James Madison (+3) over Akron
As this season has already shown us, FCS teams are more than capable of not only hanging with big brother, but also beating them on occasion. While the mighty Zips of Akron, who got manhandled 38-7 by UCF in their opener, aren't exactly on the same level as Oregon State or Kansas State, they are still an FBS team. Akron struggled in all facets of the game last week, but was particularly bad against the pass, giving up nearly 17 yards per completion to the Knights.

JMU isn't known for throwing the ball all over the field, but what the Dukes do have is a dangerous dual-threat quarterback in Michael Birdsong and the confidence that comes with the success the program has enjoyed under coach Mickey Matthews. JMU also has experience as a giant-killer, as the Dukes defeated in-state powerhouse Virginia Tech in Blacksburg in 2010. Three years later, lightning strikes again for JMU, but this time in Ohio, as the Dukes produce just enough offense and make a key play on defense late to add another W to the FCS' win total against FBS teams this season.

Stephen Schindler (@SteveSchindler): Washington State (-15.5) over USC
Lane Kiffin is a mess. The USC quarterback situation is a mess. And the Trojans looked spotty in their victory over a very mediocre Hawaii squad last week. Washington State almost stole a game at Auburn with quarterback Connor Halliday throwing for over 300 yards. Mike Leach is still one of the best offensive minds in the game. Expect the Cougars to spread USC out and pass upwards of 60 times. While Marqise Lee is an unquestionable talent, the Trojans still don’t know who will be throwing him the ball. If Washington State can protect Halliday and he can protect the football, Washington State will get its first win in LA since 2000.

College Football Week 2 2013 Upset Predictions
Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 11:22
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/biggest-nfl-injuries-will-affect-2013-season

The preseason was littered with bodies throughout the NFL. In a string of meaningless games to get players ready for the ones that matter, the scene left behind was mostly carnage. Every week, it seemed, another player was hurt. Often the injury was significant, if not season ending.

It’s a casualty of war in the NFL that everyone accepts, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Teams enter the summer optimistic, dreaming Super Bowl dreams, and then – just when they think they’re ready – a key player is stolen by an act of fate. It’s not fair, but it happens every preseason. And this summer it seemed to happen a lot.

In fact, several key players for teams with postseason aspirations didn’t even make it to training camp healthy. So what are the biggest injuries that have already happened before the regular season even kicks off? Here’s a look at six that could have catastrophic effects on the injured player’s team:

Seattle Seahawks WR Percy Harvin (hip)
He is the prime example of a key, if not catastrophic, injury that happened before training camp even started. Yes, the Seahawks were outstanding without him last season and still have the same powerful defense and dominant rushing attack. But the addition of Harvin was going to not only help the development of second-year quarterback Russell Wilson, it was going to give them another dimension that would make them impossible to stop.

Now, maybe they get him back midseason for a stretch run that could include a Super Bowl chase. That’s a heck of a midseason acquisition. But with Harvin the Seahawks could’ve threatened to be a powerhouse, 14-win type of team. Now they’re back to where they were – neck and neck with the 49ers in what promises to be a tight NFC West race.

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip)
The loss of Pitta may not be devastating on the surface, and it’s likely the Ravens will find a way to replace his 61 catches, 669 yards and seven touchdowns. This one is more about piling on to a Super Bowl championship team that has seemed to be hemorrhaging players since the end of their parade. Ray Lewis retired. Ed Reed wasn’t re-signed. Neither were Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger, and Anquan Boldin was traded away.

Then came the injury to Pitta who seemed to be a nice security blanket for Joe Flacco. Now it’s up to Ed Dickson, assuming he can stay healthy.

Philadelphia Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin (torn ACL)
Welcome to the NFL, Chip Kelly, and good luck installing your revolutionary, hyper-speed, spread-option offense without your team’s No. 1 receiver. Considering all that goes into Kelly’s high-octane offense, about the only bigger blow would’ve been the loss of his quarterback. Yes, they still have DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper could be a sleeper as Maclin’s replacement. But Cooper doesn’t have the speed or resume of Maclin, so there’s no guarantee he can pick up the slack.

Green Bay Packers T Bryan Bulaga (torn ACL)
The Green Bay Packers are all about Aaron Rodgers, so protecting him has to be one of the most important jobs in the organization. Bulaga, a former first-round pick, was being installed as the left tackle before he tore his ACL. So now the blind side of one of the leading candidates for NFL MVP is being protected by David Bakhtiari, a rookie fourth-round pick from Colorado. The Packers like him, but that sure isn’t the way they drew it up for what was already a shaky offensive line.

New Orleans Saints LB Will Smith (knee)
Rob Ryan had his hands full already switching the Saints – the NFL’s worst defensive team last season – from the 4-3 to a 3-4, but his task may be impossible without one of his best defensive players. Smith, who was switching from a 4-3 end to a 3-4 linebacker, was probably the Saints’ best bet to provide a consistent pass rush. He certainly would’ve provided more pressure on the pocket than Martez Wilson will provide. It’s particularly devastating for a Saints team that has already lost linebacker Victor Butler to a torn ACL in the spring and may be without Jonathan Vilma for quite a while, too. It leaves the Saints looking like an all-offense, no-defense team once again.

San Diego Chargers LB Melvin Ingram (torn ACL)
The Chargers had high hopes for their 2012 first-round pick, who was going to be a key part of their attack along with newly signed Dwight Freeney. There hasn’t been a lot of optimism in San Diego, where they’ve suffered free-agent losses and a string of injuries, but they seemed to really believe Ingram was ready for a step forward after a lackluster rookie season. Now with him gone – at least for half the season – the Chargers are extremely thin at his position and Freeney, at age 33, might have to play a lot more than the Chargers expected him to play.

— By Ralph Vacchiano, @RVacchianoNYDN

Biggest NFL Injuries That Will Affect the 2013 Season
Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-5-2013

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for Sept. 5.


• Kate Upton is on the cover of Vanity Fair. Katherine Webb congratulated her by suggesting they have a pajama party. I happen to think that's an excellent idea. Just tell me when and where.


This headline asserts that the five best months of the year start tonight. I don't disagree. Welcome back, football.


This idiot chowdah-head Red Sox fan should no longer be taken out in public after nearly ruining the evening for two different women.


This Las Vegas billboard is under the impression that Lon Kruger is the UNLV basketball coach. Kruger's been at Oklahoma since 2011.


• We may have reached the Johnny Football saturation point: He's on the cover of this week's Time Magazine under the provocative headline: It's Time to Pay College Athletes.


This ESPN profile of Floyd Mayweather reveals that he has $123 million in one bank account. I prefer to spread my money around.


Check in with SDS' Bo Jackson Award tracker (best SEC player regardless of position) after Week 1.


• "You're my boy, Blue." 20 classic comedy quotes you probably say in your sleep.


• Not to be Mr. Wet Blanket while we all gorge on football, but actually going to a game can kinda suck. Here are 20 reasons why.


The Indians let a live chicken run around during warm-ups. Hope they didn't tell Pedro Cerrano. (Sorry for the dated "Major League" reference.)


One PGA Tour player thinks that Ian Poulter's logo looks like a part of the male anatomy. Don't really see it, but I guess if you're looking for it...


• In today's video, Alex Galchenyuk of the Canadiens shows us that the hockey swing doesn't translate to the golf course.




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

Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 10:44
Path: /nfl/baltimore-ravens-vs-denver-broncos-preview-and-prediction

The defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens kick off defense of their title and the 2013 NFL regular season by renewing acquaintances with the Denver Broncos at 8:30 p.m. ET tonight on NBC. A scheduling conflict with the Orioles forced the Ravens to open their season on the road, but it’s only fitting that their first game takes place at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

After all, Baltimore’s improbable 38-35 double overtime victory over Denver in the AFC Divisional Round was the game that simultaneously sparked the Ravens’ magical playoff run and shockingly ended the Broncos’ promising season. Baltimore may be the current holder of the Lombardi Trophy, but this Ravens team looks a lot different than the one that won Super Bowl XLVII in February. Denver has made some personnel changes as well, but it’s the Bronco who won’t be on the field tonight that could have the biggest impact on the outcome.

Five Things to Watch

Baltimore debuts “new” defense
Ray Lewis. Ed Reed. Bernard Pollard. Cary Williams. Dannell Ellerbe. Ma’ake Kemoeatu. They are the answers to the question – “How many defensive starters from the Ravens’ Super Bowl win are no longer with the team?” Baltimore will field six new starters on defense and while the likes of linebacker and former Bronco Elvis Dumervil, free safety Michael Huff and defensive end Chris Canty aren’t exactly no-names, the fact remains this unit lost a lot of talent and, perhaps more importantly, experience. Drawing Peyton Manning and company for an opening assignment certainly doesn’t help the transition either.

The Von Miller effect
Denver’s defense will have to make do without the services of Miller, the Broncos’ All-Pro linebacker who was second in Defensive Player of the Year voting to J.J. Watt last season. Miller is suspended for the first six games and his presence on the field will be sorely missed. This is especially the case for Denver’s pass rush, as Miller finished third in the NFL with 18.5 sacks last season. The Broncos upgraded their defensive line and secondary through free agency and the draft, and these two units will both need to step up right out of the gate to help offset Miller’s absence.

The Broncos’ Three Horsemen
At first glance this might refer to Peyton Manning’s new three-headed monster at wide receiver — Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and new Bronco Wes Welker. But in this case, the reference is for the Broncos’ trio at running back. First-round pick Montee Ball has generated most of the headlines and attention during training camp, but veterans Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno certainly can’t be ignored. Whether one of these guys takes the lead or new offensive coordinator Adam Gase goes with the committee approach, the Broncos need to establish some sort of running game. Denver averaged a meager three yards per carry on 41 attempts in the playoff loss to Baltimore, which makes it harder for Manning to utilize the play-action game. This also was one of the reasons why the Broncos were just 7-for-16 in third-down conversions in that heart-breaking defeat.

Ravens take flight?
Besides the changes on defense, Joe Flacco will be without two familiar targets to throw to in 2013. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin was traded to San Francisco in March and tight end Dennis Pitta dislocated his hip during training camp and most likely won’t play this season. These two combined for 126 receptions for 1,590 yards and 11 touchdowns last season or 38 percent of the Ravens’ receptions, 40 percent of their passing yards and half of Flacco’s touchdown passes in 2012. Not only do wide receiver Jacoby Jones and tight end Ed Dickson have some big shoes to fill, but fellow wideout Torrey Smith also needs to step up and establish himself as more than just a deep threat. Smith averaged an impressive 17.4 yards per reception last season, but he was fourth on the team with only 49 catches.

Championship hangover vs. revenge factor
It’s a shame that some sort of compromise couldn’t be worked out between the Orioles and Ravens so the defending Super Bowl champions could open their season at home. Now Baltimore not only has to hit the road, it has to break in all of its new pieces in one of the NFL’s loudest home environments. Then there are the Broncos, who would like nothing more than to hang an L on the champs, especially given what took place in January.

Baltimore Key Player: Elvis Dumervil, LB
If there’s any Raven who has been chomping at the bit for this game it is Dumervil. The former Bronco was released by the team in March following a bizarre set of occurrences and ended up signing with the Ravens as a free agent. The plan is for Dumervil to team with Terrell Suggs to provide consistent pressure from both edges. One way to slow down Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ passing attack is to make him uncomfortable in the pocket. You know Dumervil would love to get Manning down on the turf a time or two.

Denver Key Player: Manny Ramirez, C
An offensive lineman may not be considered a critical piece by many, but it is when it’s the guy tasked with getting the ball into the hands of Peyton Manning. Ramirez isn’t a rookie as he has already played in 35 games in five seasons including 11 starts at right guard for Denver last season. However, he will be making his NFL debut at center tonight because the Broncos have already lost two centers to injuries. Projected starter Dan Koppen tore his ACL and is out for the season and backup J.D. Walton was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list after undergoing multiple ankle surgeries in the offseason. The Broncos have turned the job over to Ramirez and it will be up to him to get the offense off on the right foot by not only making sure Manning gets the football in his hands, but when No. 18 wants it too.

Final Analysis

Give the NFL credit for this much: it sure knows how to kick off a season. The rematch between Baltimore and Denver is a fitting season opener as the defending world champs return to the scene of last season’s signature playoff victory. Much has changed for both teams since that Jan. 12 AFC Divisional Round matchup, however, as the Ravens have rebuilt their defense and the Broncos gave Peyton Manning more offensive weapons.

The Ravens are still good enough to compete with pretty much any other team, but the Broncos have too much firepower for John Harbaugh’s new-look defense to contain. While Denver’s defense will miss Von Miller’s pass-rushing presence, the unit makes enough stops to allow Manning and company to take care of the rest. Don’t worry Rahim Moore, this game won’t come down to a last-minute, “Hail Mary” pass.

Denver 31, Baltimore 20

Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-quarterback-rankings-week-1

Week 1 of the 2013 fantasy football season is here and it's only fitting that the quarterback who finished 2012 with the most fantasy points comes in at No. 1 in the first installment of Athlon Sports' weekly Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings. Drew Brees tallied the most fantasy points of any signal-caller last season and the Saints' field general should get off to another strong start with his head coach (Sean Payton) back on the sidelines and a home game against NFC South division rival Atlanta on tap.

Likewise, Falcons' quarterback Matt Ryan is a strong play for Week 1 considering the Saints set an NFL record for most yards allowed last season. Tom Brady has a brand-new receiving corps in 2013, but expect little drop-off, especially with Buffalo the opponent in Week 1. The Bills will send our first-round pick EJ Manuel to make his NFL debut. For now, Manuel and fellow rookie Geno Smith of the New York Jets (who is not ranked) are probably wait-and-see options at best.

That is not the case, however, for Aaron Rodgers, who is a must-start every week. Those who are fortunate enough to own Rodgers, however, may want to temper expectations a little bit since the Packers have the tough opening assignment of facing the 49ers on their own turf. Cam Newton is another top fantasy option who could get out of the gate slowly as the Panthers host Seattle. And of course, all eyes will be on the games that will open and close the first week of the regular season as Peyton Manning and Joe Flacco will square off in Denver tonight for the second time in eight months, while Robert Griffin III will mark his return from a serious knee injury suffered in January and Michael Vick will help usher in the Chip Kelly era in Philadelphia when they share the stage on "Monday Night Football."

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.

2013 NFL Week 1 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks

1Drew BreesNOvs. ATLNo. 1 fantasy QB last season.
2Tom BradyNEat BUFBrady set to break in new weapons.
3Matt RyanATLat NOSaints awful on D last season.
4Peyton ManningDENvs. BAL (Thurs.)Manning gets chance at some payback.
5Aaron RodgersGBat SFTough opening draw for A-Rodg.
6Colin KaepernickSFvs. GBCK feasted on Pack last time.
7Andrew LuckINDvs. OAKLuck should get off to strong start.
8Matthew StaffordDETvs. MIN 
9Tony RomoDALvs. NYGGiants' D already banged up.
10Cam NewtonCARvs. SEASeahawks figure to be tough on Cam.
11Robert Griffin IIIWASvs. PHI (Mon.)Everyone will be watching RG3's knee.
12Russell WilsonSEAat CAR 
13Michael VickPHIat WAS (Mon.)Can he make Kelly's offense hum?
14Eli ManningNYGat DAL 
15Ben RoethlisbergerPITvs. TEN 
16Sam BradfordSTLvs. ARIReady to break out?
17Joe FlaccoBALat DEN (Thurs.)Needs to find new targets.
18Jay CutlerCHIvs. CINCan he and Trestman thrive?
19Matt SchaubHOUat SD (Mon.) 
20Carson PalmerARIat STLIs he the QB Cards have been missing?
21Andy DaltonCINat CHI 
22Alex SmithKCat JACJaguars should ease transition.
23Josh FreemanTBat NYJ 
24Ryan TannehillMIAat CLEIs he ready to take the next step?
25Brandon WeedenCLEvs. MIA 
26Philip RiversSDvs. HOU (Mon.)Can he find his old form?
27EJ ManuelBUFvs. NERookie's time to shine.
28Terrelle PryorOAKat INDRaiders' offense has yet to impress.

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

Additional Week 1 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams


Fantasy Football 2013 Quarterback Rankings: Week 1
Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-running-back-rankings-week-1

The 2013 fantasy football season is upon us and Athlon Sports' Week 1 running back rankings starts with the league's reigning MVP. Adrian Peterson came nine yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season record in 2012, and he's already stated that 2,500 yards is the goal in '13. Peterson's quest begins on the road as Minnesota will be in Detroit to face the Lions.

Jamaal Charles could post some big Week 1 numbers as the Andy Reid era in Kansas City will commence in Jacksonville. The Jaguars were 30th in the NFL against the run last season. Other head coaches who will be making their pro debuts include Cleveland's Rob Chudzinski and Philadelphia's Chip Kelly. These two have reputations as offensive masterminds and each has the luxury of a top-flight running back at their disposal in Trent Richardson and LeSean McCoy, respectively.

Steven Jackson will play his first game in a Falcons' uniform against a Saints' defense that was the worst in the league in stopping the run in 2012. Maurice Jones-Drew will try to flash his old form after being limited to just six games last season, while Arian Foster will more than likely be brought along slowly by the Texans following his injury-shortened training camp.

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.

2013 NFL Week 1 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs

1Adrian PetersonMINat DETQuest for 2,500 begins in Detroit.
2Jamaal CharlesKCat JACExpect plenty of touches in Reid's system.
3Doug MartinTBat NYJ 
4Marshawn LynchSEAat CARPanthers may be tougher test than many expect.
5C.J. SpillerBUFvs. NEPats pretty good against run last season.
6Ray RiceBALat DEN (Thurs.) 
7Alfred MorrisWASvs. PHI (Mon.)Eagles' D did not look good in preseason.
8LeSean McCoyPHIat WAS (Mon.)What will Kelly do with him?
9Trent RichardsonCLEvs. MIAPoised for big sophomore season?
10Stevan RidleyNEat BUF 
11Steven JacksonATLat NOSJax makes his Falcons' debut.
12Maurice Jones-DrewJACvs. KCIs MJD back?
13Arian FosterHOUat SD (Mon.)Texans have said they will limit him early.
14Matt ForteCHIvs. CINShould be active in new offense.
15David WilsonNYGat DALClear-cut No. 1 following Brown injury.
16Chris JohnsonTENat PITCan he break down Steel Curtain?
17Frank GoreSFvs. GB 
18Reggie BushDETvs. MINBack on turf, should catch plenty passes.
19Lamar MillerMIAat CLECan he produce like a No. 1 back?
20Darren SprolesNOvs. ATL 
21DeMarco MurrayDALvs. NYG 
22Darren McFaddenOAKat INDA strong start would help silence the critics.
23Daryl RichardsonSTLvs. ARI 
24Eddie LacyGBat SFRookie has tough opening draw.
25Ahmad BradshawINDvs. OAK 
26Ben TateHOUat SD (Mon.)Could see plenty of carries on Monday night.
27Montee BallDENvs. BAL (Thurs.)Will he get No. 1 reps?
28Chris IvoryNYJvs. TB 
29Ryan MathewsSDvs. HOU (Mon.) 
30DeAngelo WilliamsCARvs. SEA 
31Rashard MendenhallARIat STLCan his legs/knee hold up?
32BenJarvus Green-EllisCINat CHI 
33Isaac RedmanPITvs. TENStarter in PIT, but won't get all the carries.
34Giovani BernardCINat CHIRookie brings explosiveness to Bengals' O.
35Shane VereenNEat BUFCould be busy against Bills.
36Mark IngramNOvs. ATLFalcons struggled against run last season.
37Vick BallardINDvs. OAK 
38Ronnie HillmanDENvs. BAL (Thurs.)More than 1 DEN RB will see touches.
39Knowshon MorenoDENvs. BAL (Thurs.) 
40Danny WoodheadSDvs. HOU (Mon.)Ready to pounce if Mathews falters.
41Bryce BrownPHIat WAS (Mon.) 
42Bernard PierceBALat DEN (Thurs.) 
43Michael BushCHIvs. CIN 
44Jacquizz RodgersATLat NO 
45Roy HeluWASvs. PHI (Mon.)Looked pretty good in preseason.
46Shonn GreeneTENat PIT 
47Fred JacksonBUFvs. NE 
48Christine MichaelSEAat CARRookie opened many an eye during preseason.

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

Additional Week 1 Positional Rankings

Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams


Fantasy Football 2013 Running Back Rankings: Week 1
Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-wide-receiver-rankings-week-1

To the surprise of no one, Calvin Johnson tops Athlon Sports' Week 1 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings. What perhaps is most impressive about Johnson's record-setting 2012 season is that he caught just five touchdown passes, yet still led his position in fantasy scoring. Johnson owners would no doubt love see him reach the end zone a few more times in 2013, starting with his opening game against Minnesota.

One wide receiver that found paydirt quite a bit last season was Dez Bryant. In the last eight games alone, Bryant scored 10 touchdowns. He will look to carry over that strong finish to Sunday night's marquee matchup against the Giants. The Atlanta vs. New Orleans pairing should be good news for any one who has Julio Jones, Roddy White, Marques Colston or Lance Moore on their roster. Also, Denver's trio of Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker will put Baltimore's remade secondary to the test right out of the gate as the NFL regular season kicks off with a rematch of January's AFC Divisional Round double-overtime thriller.

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.

2013 NFL Week 1 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers

1Calvin JohnsonDETvs. MINNo. 1 fantasy WR had just 5 TDs in '12.
2Dez BryantDALvs. NYGCaught fire late last season.
3Julio JonesATLat NOSaints' D was league's worst in '12.
4A.J. GreenCINat CHIBears' DBs will be good test.
5Demaryius ThomasDENvs. BAL (Thurs.)No Reed or Pollard in Ravens' secondary.
6Brandon MarshallCHIvs. CINWill the hip be an issue?
7Roddy WhiteATLat NOAnkle injury shortened preseason reps.
8Larry FitzgeraldARIat STLCan he and Palmer click?
9Vincent JacksonTBat NYJ 
10Andre JohnsonHOUat SD (Mon.) 
11Reggie WayneINDvs. OAK 
12Marques ColstonNOvs. ATL 
13Victor CruzNYGat DALHeel could limit him against Cowboys.
14Pierre GarconWASvs. PHI (Mon.)Healthy entering season for a change.
15Randall CobbGBat SF 
16Danny AmendolaNEat BUFCan he fill Welker's shoes?
17Wes WelkerDENvs. BAL (Thurs.)From Brady to Peyton = WR's dream.
18Dwayne BoweKCat JACCan he breakout in Reid's system?
19Antonio BrownPITvs.TENBig Ben's new No. 1 target.
20Hakeem NicksNYGat DAL 
21Torrey SmithBALat DEN (Thurs.)Needs to do more than catch deep ball.
22Mike WallaceMIAat CLEDolphins need him to go long.
23Steve SmithCARvs. SEA 
24Cecil ShortsJACvs. KC 
25DeSean JacksonPHIat WAS (Mon.)Can he thrive in Kelly's system?
26Jordy NelsonGBat SFHad knee surgery early in training camp.
27Eric DeckerDENvs. BAL (Thurs.)Enough passes for 3 WRs in DEN?
28Anquan BoldinSFvs. GBNo Crabtree for CK to find.
29T.Y. HiltonINDvs. OAK 
30Stevie JohnsonBUFvs. NE 
31James JonesGBat SF 
32Mike WilliamsTBat NYJ 
33Chris GivensSTLvs. ARIOozes big-play ability.
34Lance MooreNOvs. ATL 
35Greg JenningsMINat DETHow soon until he misses Rodgers?
36Tavon AustinSTLvs. ARIRams aren't saying how they will use rookie.
37Kenbrel ThompkinsNEat BUFEmerged during preseason.
38Sidney RiceSEAat CAR 
39Miles AustinDALvs. NYGSomewhat forgotten man in Big D.
40Golden TateSEAat CARNo Percy Harvin means opportunity.
41Emmanuel SandersPITvs. TEN 
42Vincent BrownSDvs. HOU (Mon.)Someone needs to emerge in SD.
43Kenny BrittTENat PITIn final year of rookie contract.
44Michael FloydARIat STLFitzgerald could use a legit sidekick.
45Greg LittleCLEvs. MIAJosh Gordon will miss first 2 games.
46Alshon JefferyCHIvs. CINMarshall and Cutler could use help.
47Denarius MooreOAKat INDMay be only relevant Raider pass-catcher.
48Rueben RandleNYGat DALAn injury away from starting.
49Brian HartlineMIAat CLEWallace can't do it all by himself.
50Kendall WrightTENat PITKnee issue limited preseason reps.
51Malcom FloydSDvs. HOU (Mon.) 
52Darrius Heyward-BeyINDvs. OAKLuck has the arm, can DHB hold on?
53Jeremy KerleyNYJvs. TBWill he and Geno develop chemistry?
54Ryan BroylesDETvs. MINCJ draws a lot of attention from the D.
55DeAndre HopkinsHOUat SD (Mon.)Texans drafted Hopkins to contribute early.
56Mohamed SanuCINat CHI 
57Andre RobertsARIat STL 
58Jacoby JonesBALat DEN (Thurs.)Ravens' No. 2 with Boldin now in SF.
59Santonio HolmesNYJvs. TB 
60Nate BurlesonDETvs. MINComing back from broken leg.
61Josh MorganWASvs. PHI (Mon.) 
62Riley CooperPHIat WAS (Mon.)No Maclin means Eagles need a No. 2.
63Jason AvantPHIat WAS (Mon.) 
64Robert WoodsBUFvs. NEManuel-to-Woods = rookie magic?

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

Additional Week 1 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams


Fantasy Football 2013 Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 1
Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-tight-end-rankings-week-1

With Week 1 of the NFL regular and fantasy season set to kick off tonight, the only tight ends that will soon be making news are the ones that will be on the field. Leading the way in Athlon Sports' Week 1 tight end fantasy rankings is New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham. With Rob Gronkowski still making his way back from offsesaon back surgery, Graham is the clear-cut No. 1 fantasy option at the position and should be targeted early and often by Drew Brees against Atlanta on Sunday.

The Falcons' tight end is no slouch in his own right, as Tony Gonzalez looks to turn back the clock for yet another season. The Dallas' Jason Witten rightfully belongs in the top tier of fantasy tight ends, as he can help Tony Romo and the Cowboys get off to a strong start by doing some damage against the Giants.

Outside of the top five, some younger tight ends will attempt to make a name for themselves, including Zach Sudfeld, the man who will fill Gronkowski's spot for New England. If Sudfeld can make a strong impression during Gronk's absence, there's a chance he could remain fantasy relevant all season long. Remember what Aaron Hernandez did as Gronk's sidekick the past few seasons.

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.

2013 NFL Week 1 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends

1Jimmy GrahamNOvs. ATLThe clear-cut No. 1 w/ no Gronk.
2Tony GonzalezATLat NOCan the old man do it again?
3Jason WittenDALvs. NYGRomo's trust in Witten obvious.
4Vernon DavisSFvs. GBPotential is there, is the effort?
5Owen DanielsHOUat SD (Mon.) 
6Jared CookSTLvs. ARIAppears ready to break out.
7Zach SudfeldNEat BUFTalk about your fast risers.
8Kyle RudolphMINat DET 
9Antonio GatesSDvs. HOU (Mon.)Rivers' most trusted target.
10Greg OlsenCARvs. SEACam likes throwing to his TE.
11Jermichael FinleyGBat SFTeam pleased with early signs.
12Brandon MyersNYGat DALEli should like throwing to him.
13Jordan CameronCLEvs. MIA 
14Martellus BennettCHIvs. CINFirst TE Cutler has had since Olsen.
15Fred DavisWASvs. PHI (Mon.)RG3 to Davis could be special.
16Brandon PettigrewDETvs. MIN 
17Coby FleenerINDvs. OAKReady to cash in on Stanford ties.
18Brent CelekPHIat WAS (Mon.)The top TE in Philly, for now.
19Julius ThomasDENvs. BAL (Thurs.)If Peyton trusts him, watch out.
20Jermaine GreshamCINat CHI 
21Tyler EifertCINat CHICan he overtake Gresham?
22Dwayne AllenINDvs. OAKEnough work for 2 TEs in IND?
23Ed DicksonBALat DEN (Thurs.)Flacco loved throwing to Pitta.
24Zach ErtzPHIat WAS (Mon.)Kelly has high hopes for rookie.
25Zach MillerSEAat CAR 
26Dallas ClarkBALat DEN (Thurs.)Veteran ready if Dickson stumbles.

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

Additional Week 1 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Defense/Special Teams


Fantasy Football 2013 Tight End Rankings: Week 1
Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-1

In Week 1 of the 2013 fantasy football season, opportunity knocks for the New England Patriots' and Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defenses. Both of these teams will be facing rookie quarterbacks making their NFL debuts, which is why both DSTs are top-five fantasy options to open the season. Seattle, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago and Cincinnati all should remain solid weekly starts, but it's the Patriots who appear to have the best matchup in Week 1, which is why they come in at No. 1 in Athlon Sports' defense/special teams rankings.

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.

2013 NFL Week 1 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

1New England Patriotsat BUFPats' opportunistic D vs. rookie QB.
2Seattle Seahawksat CARHawks D vs. Cam will be fun.
3Houston Texansat SD (Mon.)Texans' D gets Cushing back, maybe Reed?
4Tampa Bay Buccaneersat NYJBucs' new secondary could torment Geno.
5Cincinnati Bengalsat CHIBengals 2nd in sacks last season.
6Chicago Bearsvs. CINBears ready to show their not old just yet.
7Pittsburgh Steelersvs. TENIs the Steel Curtain fraying?
8San Francisco 49ersvs. GB49ers will have hands full w/ Rodgers and co.
9Indianapolis Coltsvs. OAKOakland's offense does not scare anyone.
10St. Louis Ramsvs. ARIRams looking to abuse Cards' O-line.
11Cleveland Brownsvs. MIABrowns' D could be sneaky solid.
12Denver Broncosvs. BAL (Thurs.)Broncos will miss Von Miller.
13Green Bay Packersat SFPack couldn't stop CK last time out.
14Kansas City Chiefsat JACCan the Chiefs' D bounce back?
15Arizona Cardinalsat STLCards' D has new coordinator.
16Baltimore Ravensat DEN (Thurs.)Will the Ravens' "new" D hold up in Denver?

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 1 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends


Fantasy Football 2013 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 1
Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-kicker-rankings-week-1

New England's Stephen Gostkowski and Atlanta's Matt Bryant are two of the top options on Athlon Sports' Fantasy Football 2013 Kicker Rankings for Week 1. Both the Patriots and Falcons figure to score a fair number of points against their respective opponents, which generally means plenty of chances for the kicker to score as well. The thin air in Denver makes Sports Authority Field at Mile High a welcoming environment for kickers, which is why both the Broncos' Matt Prater and the Ravens' Justin Tucker are among the top five to open the season.

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.

2013 NFL Week 1 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

1Stephen GostkowskiNEat BUF
2Matt BryantATLat NO
3Blair WalshMINat DET
4Justin TuckerBALat DEN (Thurs.)
5Matt PraterDENvs. BAL (Thurs.)
6Phil DawsonSFvs. GB
7Randy BullockHOUat SD (Mon.)
8Dan BaileyDALvs. NYG
9Greg ZuerleinSTLvs. ARI
10David AkersDETvs. MIN
11Garrett HartleyNOvs. ATL
12Kai ForbathWASvs. PHI (Mon.)
13Josh BrownNYGat DAL
14Sebastian JanikowskiOAKat IND
15Steven HauschkaSEAat CAR
16Robbie GouldCHIvs. CIN

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 1 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Fantasy Football 2013 Kicker Rankings: Week 1
Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-2013-week-2-start-or-sit-report

Still second-guessing your plans for Week 2?  Are you still trying to decide whether or not to start the guys you grabbed off the waiver wire this week?  Hopefully, this week’s Start/Bench will give some additional insight to make a few of those decisions a little easier for you.

College Fantasy Football: Start/Bench—Week 2

JW Walsh, QB-Oklahoma State at UTSA
Walsh has been named the starter and his dual-threat ability makes him a solid play this week against an overmatched Roadrunners defense.

Angel Santiago, QB-Army at Ball State
Santiago was a fantasy stud last week against Morgan State and may have similar success this weekend against a Ball State defense that gave up 28 points and over 350 yards to Illinois State in Week 1.

Jared Goff, QB-California vs Portland State
Goff put the ball in the air 63 times in a 44-30 loss to Northwestern in Week 1.  We are pretty certain that he will not get close to that many attempts against Portland state, but he should be more efficient and productive enough to warrant a start this week.

Baker Mayfield, QB-Texas Tech vs Stephen F Austin
The walk-on freshman proved himself in Week 1 by accounting for five touchdowns against SMU.  This week, Mayfield will solidify himself as the unquestionable starter with another solid showing against Stephen F. Austin.

Zach Zwinak, RB-Penn State vs Eastern Michigan
Zwinak carried the ball 24 times last week against Syracuse for a modest 61 yards.  He will do a lot more with 20-plus carries this week against MAC opponent Eastern Michigan.

David Fluellen, RB-Toledo at Missouri
Some fantasy owners were wise to sit Fluellen in Week 1 when the Rockets opened up against the Gators in The Swamp.  The workhorse back will have a lot more success against a Missouri defense that gave up over 120 yards on the ground to Murray State last week.

Tevin Coleman, RB-Indiana vs Navy
Coleman made everyone forget about fellow Hoosiers tailback Stephen Houston.  The sophomore back should have similar success this week against a Navy defense that ranked 94th nationally against the run in 2012.

Jeff Scott, RB-Ole Miss vs SE Missouri State
The Rebels figure to be playing out in front this week against SE Missouri State and Scott should see enough carries to top the century mark and add a score or two.

Daniel Spencer, WR-Houston at Temple
Spencer caught nine passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns in the Cougars’ opener and should have another productive game going against a Temple defense that gave up over 350 yards in the air last week against Notre Dame.

Charone Peake, WR-Clemson vs South Carolina State
We were waiting to see who would step up as the second receiving option behind Sammy Watkins and Peake responded by catching five passes for 58 yards last week against Georgia.  This week, the junior receiver should have his moments when the Tigers host South Carolina State.

Corey Davis, WR-Western Michigan vs Nicholls State
The freshman receiver was impressive in his debut, catching eight passes for 96 yards and a touchdown against Michigan State.  We are expecting bigger and better things this week when the Broncos host Nicholls State.

Antwan Goodley, WR-Baylor vs Buffalo
We were high on Goodley coming out of spring ball, but suddenly tempered our enthusiasm with the emergence of freshman Robbie Rhodes.  After one week, we are back on the Goodley bandwagon.

Deon Long, WR-Maryland vs Old Dominion
After watching East Carolina torch the Old Dominion defense last week, we are confident that Long and teammate Stefon Diggs will reward fantasy owners handsomely by making a mockery of the Monarchs’ secondary this weekend.

Paul Millard, QB-West Virginia at Oklahoma
Millard looked comfortable and decisive last week against William and Mary, but he certainly did not set the world on fire.  After what the Sooners’ defense did against Kolton Browning last week, we are not going to roll the dice with Millard in Week 2.

David Fales, QB-San Jose State at Stanford
Fales was solid in the opener last week against Sacramento State, not great.  This week he faces the top defensive unit on the west coast and it would be wise to have a plan B if Fales is your fantasy quarterback.

David Ash, QB-Texas at BYU
Ash was exceptional last week against New Mexico State……but, it was New Mexico State.  We want to see how he performs on the road against a much tougher defense before giving him the nod.

Marcus Shaw, RB-South Florida at Michigan State
Shaw was the lone bright spot in the Bulls’ offense last week when they were thrashed 53-21 by McNeese State.  The competition gets much stiffer this week when USF travels to Michigan State.

Darrin Reaves, RB-UAB at LSU
Reaves got off to a solid start last week when the Blazers opened the season against Troy.  This week, fantasy owners should have an alternative option at running back when UAB travels to Baton Rouge to take on the Tigers.

Jason Simpson, RB-San Jose State at Stanford
Simpson was one of the breakout running backs in Week 1, but fantasy owners are better off waiting until the September 21 matchup against Minnesota before inserting him into the lineup.

Adam Muema, RB-San Diego State at Ohio State
Muema did not play in the second half last week against Eastern Illinois due to an ankle injury.  Reportedly, the junior running back is expected to play at Ohio State this weekend, but we’re not taking a chance of starting a player that may not be 100% against the Buckeyes’ defense.

Trayion Durham, RB-Kent State vs Bowling Green
We are believers in the Bowling Green defense.  Expect yards, and especially touchdowns, to be hard to come by for the junior running back this week.

Mike Davis, RB-South Carolina at Georgia
Davis only carried the ball twelve times last week against North Carolina, with a majority of his 115 yards coming on one long touchdown run.  We just aren’t confident that Davis will get enough carries on the road in Athens to make a fantasy splash.

Alonzo Harris, RB-Louisiana at Kansas State
Harris punched one in the end zone last week at Arkansas, but you can bet that the Kansas State defense will be playing with a chip on their shoulder after last week’s loss to North Dakota State.

Venric Mark, RB-Northwestern vs Syracuse
We did not pick up on any signals last week that the all-purpose back was nursing an injury.  Well, we have not heard anything this week to indicate that Mark is 100%.

For Start/Bench advice from Joe DiSalvo, send an email
Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite) -

College Fantasy Football 2013: Week 2 Start or Sit Report
Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 07:35
Path: /college-football/acc-2013-week-2-preview-and-predictions

Week 1 was a good debut for most of the teams in the ACC. North Carolina was handled by South Carolina on the road, but Virginia knocked off BYU, and Clemson scored a huge non-conference victory over Georgia.

Although non-conference wins aren’t necessarily a good indicator of depth for any league, it certainly helps the national perception of the ACC.

This week, Miami, Syracuse and Virginia will have opportunities for non-conference wins. The Hurricanes host Florida, the Cavaliers welcome Oregon to Charlottesville, and the Orange travel to Northwestern.

There’s only one conference matchup this Saturday, as Wake Forest plays at Boston College.

The rest of the schedule is full of one-sided affairs, including Virginia Tech against Western Carolina and Clemson versus South Carolina State.

Other Week 2 Previews and Predictions
Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

ACC Week 2 Game Power Rankings

1. Florida (-3) at Miami (noon ET, ESPN) 
Week 2 doesn’t feature many marquee matchups, but this meeting between Sunshine State rivals should be one of the must-see games this Saturday. The Hurricanes are making progress under coach Al Golden, and a win over Florida certainly wouldn’t hurt the rebuilding efforts for this coaching staff. The battle in the trenches will be worth watching, as the Gators’ defensive line is one of the best in the nation, and Miami’s offensive line ranked in the top 10 of Athlon’s preseason rankings. Quarterback Stephen Morris and a solid group of receivers will test a Florida secondary that ranked 17th nationally against the pass last season and is led by future NFL cornerbacks in Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson. Running back Duke Johnson is explosive and is due for a heavy workload after recording 19 carries in the opener. Miami’s defense was one of the worst in the ACC last year but showed improvement - albeit against FAU - in Week 1. Stopping Florida's offense will be a bigger challenge for the 'Canes, especially with quarterback Jeff Driskel improving, and a solid duo of running backs in Matt Jones and Mack Brown. If the Hurricanes can slow down the Gators’ rushing attack, it’s a good sign for a defense that was shredded for 217.9 yards per game on the ground last year.

2. Oregon (-22) at Virginia (3:30 ET, ABC/ESPN2)
After a last-minute win against BYU last Saturday, the schedule doesn’t get any easier for Virginia in Week 2. Even without Chip Kelly calling the plays, the Ducks didn’t miss a beat on offense against Nicholls State. Oregon recorded 66 points and 772 yards on less than 20 minutes on time of possession last week. Virginia struggled to generate much offense against the Cougars last Saturday (223 yards), but its defense limited BYU to only 175 passing yards. The Ducks are more explosive and deeper on offense than the Cougars, which presents an even bigger challenge for the Cavaliers. Although the Cavaliers need to get stops on defense, they need to play keep away on offense. The running back trio of Kevin Parks, Khalek Shepherd and freshman Tiquan Mizzell has to have success on early downs, as Virginia hopes to wear down Oregon’s defense. Even if the Cavaliers defense manages to limit quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Ducks have other weapons, including running back De’Anthony Thomas and receiver Josh Huff.

3. Syracuse (+12) at Northwestern (6 ET, Big Ten Network)
Even though the Orange suffered a loss to Penn State in the opener, all is not lost in Syracuse. A new coaching staff and quarterback is a lot to overcome in the first week of the season, so Syracuse has plenty of room to grow over the next few contests. But the Orange will have their hands full on Saturday night. Northwestern’s offense recorded 508 yards in last week’s win over California – and that was with top quarterback Kain Colter and running back Venric Mark sidelined due to injuries. Both players are expected to be back in the lineup on Saturday. The Wildcats should have no trouble scoring, so it’s up to Syracuse’s offense to improve after recording only 260 yards against Penn State. Quarterback Drew Allen was 16 of 37 for 189 yards in his first start, but he will have an opportunity to throw against a Wildcats’ secondary that allowed 455 passing yards to California.

4. Wake Forest (+3) at Boston College (Friday, 8 ET, ESPN2)
Although both Wake Forest and Boston College were victorious in Week 1, it’s hard to glean too much from playing FCS opponents. However, both teams had to be pleased with some of the individual performances in their early tune-up. Take out Presbyterian’s 66-yard run in the first half, and the Blue Hose managed only 85 yards on 42 plays against Wake Forest’s defense. The Eagles trailed 14-7 in the first half but rallied behind the steady play of quarterback Chase Rettig, and a defense that held Villanova without a point in the final two quarters. Boston College’s defense was aggressive against the Wildcats (four sacks), which will test a Demon Deacon offensive line that struggled mightily last year. After a good showing against Presbyterian, this matchup against a balanced Boston College offense should give the rest of the ACC a better idea of where Wake Forest’s defense stacks up in 2013.

5. Old Dominion (+18) at Maryland (4 ET, ESPNEWS)
Outside of Clemson and Florida State, the ACC’s most impressive team of Week 1 had to be Maryland. Even though FIU is one of the worst teams in the nation, the Terrapins seem to have the right pieces in place on both sides of the ball. Quarterback C.J. Brown was sharp in his return from a torn ACL, recording 386 total yards and five touchdowns. And a defense with only four returning starters allowed just 171 yards to the Panthers. Old Dominion is transitioning to the FBS level and features a high-scoring offense, led by quarterback Taylor Heinicke (338 yards last week against East Carolina). While the Monarchs can move the ball on offense, the defense gave up 6.3 yards per play against the Pirates last week and ranked 94th nationally in total defense among FCS teams in 2012. Old Dominion will make Maryland sweat more than it did against FIU, but the Terrapins should be 2-0 heading into Week 3.

6. Duke (-6) at Memphis (4:30 ET, ESPN3)
Although it’s only Week 2 of the college football season, it’s never too early to start thinking about bowl eligibility. If Duke wants to make a return trip to the postseason, it has to win this game. Memphis is a team headed in the right direction under coach Justin Fuente, and the Tigers closed out 2012 by winning three consecutive games. Duke easily handled North Carolina Central in its opener, recording its first shutout since 1989 in a 45-0 win. Memphis is a mystery team after a bye in Week 1, and redshirt freshman Paxton Lynch unseated Jacob Karam in the quarterback battle this fall. Memphis’ defense returns eight starters, so this should be a good test for Duke quarterback Anthony Boone in his third career start.

7.  MTSU (+17.5) at North Carolina (12:30 ET, ESPN3)
The Tar Heels lost to South Carolina 27-10 last Thursday night, but there were a few positives for coach Larry Fedora to build on this week. A rebuilt offensive line held its own, and after struggling early, the defense held the Gamecocks to just seven points in the second half. The Blue Raiders defeated Western Carolina 45-24 last Thursday, but the win came at a price. Quarterback Logan Kilgore suffered a shoulder injury against the Catamounts and may be at less than full strength against the Tar Heels. With Kilgore at less than 100 percent, North Carolina should expect a heavy dose of sophomore running back Jordan Parker (156 yards last week), especially after struggling to stop South Carolina’s ground attack. Even if MTSU can move the ball, the Tar Heels simply have too much firepower and should take advantage of a Blue Raider defense that allowed 440 yards per game last year. With Georgia Tech up next, it’s important for North Carolina’s defense to have a good outing to build confidence for the ACC opener.

8. Richmond (+23) at NC State (6 ET, ESPN3)
New NC State coach Dave Doeren had an impressive debut last week, and the first-year coach should start off with a 2-0 mark with Richmond coming to down on Saturday. The Wolfpack handled Louisiana Tech 40-14 in Week 1, but the win was costly. Quarterback Brandon Mitchell suffered a foot injury and will miss at least four weeks. With Mitchell sidelined, Pete Thomas is expected to be the No. 1 quarterback, and the coaching staff can use this game to get him acclimated to the new offense, especially with a date against Clemson on Sept. 19. The Spiders won’t be a pushover, as they rank No. 15 in the FCS poll and are led by former Virginia quarterback Michael Strauss.

9. South Carolina State (+52.5) at Clemson (12:30 ET, ESPN3)
After a huge victory over a ranked opponent, it’s always a good idea to put for the winning team to be on letdown alert the next week. But there should be little concern for Clemson this Saturday. The Tigers take on South Carolina State in Week 2, a team that went 5-6 in 2012 and ranked 101st nationally in scoring offense last year. Don’t expect quarterback Tajh Boyd to play more than a half for the Tigers, but this matchup is a good opportunity to pad his stats for Heisman voters. Expect Clemson to get plenty of young players a handful of snaps in this game.

10. Western Carolina (+42) at Virginia Tech (1:30 ET, ESPN3)
As expected, Virginia Tech was handled by Alabama in Atlanta last Saturday. The Hokies managed only 212 yards of total offense – with 77 coming on Trey Edmunds’ touchdown run. The defense held the Crimson Tide to just 206 yards, and Bud Foster’s unit will have to carry this team until the offense gets on track. With a struggling Western Carolina team (2-20 from 2011-12), this should provide the perfect opportunity for Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas to gain some confidence. Thomas was just 5 of 26 against Alabama but should have no trouble against the Catamounts. The Hokies should regain the services of running back Joel Caleb (suspended for the opener), while J.C. Coleman is still on the mend from a preseason ankle injury.

ACC Week 2 Pivotal Players

Drew Allen, QB, Syracuse
It’s easy to list the quarterbacks in this section, but Syracuse’s offense managed just 17 points in last week’s loss to Penn State. With a matchup against Northwestern’s high-scoring offense ahead this Saturday, the Orange need a better effort from their passing attack. In his first start, quarterback Drew Allen threw for 189 yards on 16 completions and tossed two picks. Northwestern’s secondary struggled to stop California last week, and with Allen having another week to jell with the rest of the offense, expect a better performance on Saturday.

Trey Edmunds, RB, Virginia Tech
The Hokies are searching for answers on offense after last week’s 35-10 loss to Alabama. With Western Carolina up this week, Virginia Tech shouldn’t have to sweat much to break into the win column. However, we are listing Edmunds here with eye to the rest of the season. In the opener, Edmunds rushed for 132 yards – 77 on one carry – on 20 attempts. The Hokies struggled to find a No. 1 back last year and desperately need to find someone to take the pressure off of quarterback Logan Thomas. While this game will be a one-sided affair, Edmunds can solidify his place on the depth chart with a big performance.

Ereck Flowers/Seantrel Henderson/Jon Feliciano, OT, Miami
Florida’s front seven is among the best in the nation. The Gators held an explosive Toledo offense to just six points and 205 yards, while recording two sacks against quarterback Terrance Owens. If Miami’s offense is going to get on track, it has to give quarterback Stephen Morris and running back Duke Johnson room to operate. All three tackles will be under the spotlight, especially as they try to slow down the pass rush from Ronald Powell, Dante Fowler and Jonathan Bullard.

Wake Forest’s offensive line
The Demon Deacons had one of the ACC’s worst offensive lines last year. This unit allowed 2.3 sacks per game, while rushers averaged just three yards per carry. Although Presbyterian isn’t the toughest of opponents, there were encouraging signs in Week 1. Wake Forest’s offensive line allowed just one sack and rushers averaged 3.5 yards per carry. After recording four sacks against Villanova, Boston College’s front seven should provide a good litmus test for this unit.

David Watford, QB, Virginia
With one of the nation’s most prolific offenses coming to Charlottesville this weekend, the Cavaliers need to score more than 19 points they recorded against BYU to have a chance at an upset against the Ducks. Watford was just 18 of 32 for 114 yards and one touchdown against BYU, and he won’t get any breaks against an Oregon defense that has one of the best cornerback tandems in college football. The sophomore doesn’t need to throw for 300 yards but avoiding turnovers, while making plays with his legs will be crucial to Virginia’s upset hopes.


ACC Week 2 Predictions

GameDavid FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
Wake Forest (+3) at Boston CollegeBC 24-14Wake Forest 24-21Wake Forest 27-24BC 20-17
Florida (-3) at MiamiFlorida 28-24Florida 27-21Florida 24-20Florida 24-20
SC State (+52.5) at ClemsonClemson 52-7Clemson 38-10Clemson 62-3Clemson 48-0
MTSU (+17.5) at North CarolinaUNC 38-14UNC 45-24UNC 45-20UNC 38-20
Western Carolina (+42) at Va. TechVa. Tech 21-10Va. Tech 38-3Va. Tech 48-7Va. Tech 37-10
Oregon (-22) at VirginiaOregon 49-14Oregon 45-17Oregon 41-20Oregon 28-6
Old Dominion (+18) at MarylandMaryland 31-17Maryland 40-17Maryland 45-24Maryland 41-24
Duke (-6) at MemphisMemphis 21-17Duke 31-20Duke 31-17Memphis 21-20
Syracuse (+12) at NorthwesternNW 35-14NW 34-24NW 34-20NW 33-24
Richmond (+23) at NC StateNC State 28-14NC State 41-13NC State 38-20NC State 30-13
Season Record12-111-211-211-2


ACC 2013 Week 2 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/2013-pac-12-week-2-preview-and-predictions

The first weekend of action was mostly positive for Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. Mostly.

Washington might have been the most impressive team in the nation after a huge performance against regional rival Boise State. Utah, behind developing quarterback Travis Wilson, clinched an important in-state rivalry win over Utah State. Mark Helfrich and Mike MacIntyre debuted with solid wins. And even in losses, Washington State and Cal appeared to be improved teams from a year ago.

However, Oregon State completely dropped the ball in a head-scratching loss to Eastern Washington at home. The good news for the Beavers and the Pac-12 is that the only game it will lose in Week 2 is a conference game with itself (Wazzu at USC).

UCLA and Washington will get to rest this weekend while fans at Stanford and Arizona State finally get their season started.

Week 2 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC

Pac-12 Week 2 Game Power Rankings

1. Washington State (+15) at USC (10:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1)
In a not-so-marquee weekend out West, the first Pac-12 conference game of the 2013 season takes center stage. As usual, quarterback play will be key as Connor Halliday must be given time to throw for Washington State while someone in a USC uniform needs to complete forward passes. USC’s defense looks much improved and will keep the score down so Lane Kiffin should only need the smallest amount of offense to win the Trojans’ ninth in a row over Wazzu.

2. Oregon (-23.5) at Virginia (3:30 p.m., ABC)
Virginia used some inclement weather to pull an unexpected upset over BYU last week at home. Facing Marcus Mariota and the Ducks' offense is battling literally a bird of a different feather and the Cavs might need more than a monsoon to hang with Oregon. Helfrich and company rolled-up 772 yards of offense and is leading the nation at 10.9 yards per play after one week. And despite winning the game, the Wahoos mustered just 223 yards of offense on a pathetic 3.0 yards per play (116th nationally). Keep an eye on star freshman Thomas Tyner, who will make his NCAA debut after missing last week with an injury.

3. San Jose State (+26.5) at Stanford (10 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
The Cardinal begin their Pac-12 title defense by hosting David Fales and the Spartans after sitting on the sidelines last weekend. Fales is a highly touted passing prospect and was solid but uninspiring in his season debut last weekend (16-of-32, 225 yards, 2 TD). He should be handled by what could be the best non-SEC defense in the nation while Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan could make the statement that he is actually the best signal-caller in this game.

4. Hawaii (+26.5) at Oregon State (8 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
No team in this league needs a win more in Week 2 than Mike Riley’s Beavers. The defensive performance from Oregon State last week against an FCS foe was utterly bizarre as OSU ranked last among BCS conference teams with 625 yards allowed in Week 1. That unit has to improve against a struggling Hawaii offense that mustered just 3.2 yards per play against USC. Quarterback Sean Mannion was a bright spot for a Beavers offense that has plenty of playmakers (See Brandin Cooks). Oregon State should be able to quickly turn its season around in Corvallis this Saturday.

5. Arizona (-10) at UNLV (10:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network)
One team won 35-0 and the other allowed 51 points to Minnesota in Week 1, so why does Vegas think this game will be so close? Well, UNLV actually out-gained the Gophers 419 yards to 320 last week and Arizona’s complete team effort came against Northern Arizona. Look for Rich Rodriguez to welcome back star tailback Ka’Deem Carey in a big way by feeding him (and backup Daniel Jenkins) the ball in an effort to take pressure of his quarterbacks. The Wildcats should win easily but should be on upset alert.

6. Sacramento State (+37) at Arizona State (Thurs., 10 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
Taylor Kelly and Chaz Sutton make their 2013 premiere against a vastly overmatched opponent. Arizona State has a difficult schedule with marquee non-conference games looming large on the horizon, so an easy win should come as a welcome treat for the team picked by Athlon Sports to win the Pac-12 South. Look for complete and utter domination from the Sun Devils.

7. Central Arkansas (+14.5) at Colorado (8 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
Central Arkansas won last week 58-7 over… the University of the Incarnate Word? (It’s in San Antonio, in case you were wondering.) But that strong showing has the Sugar Bears as just a two-touchdown underdog to the Buffaloes. MacIntrye became just the second Colorado coach since the 1930s to win his first game and should be poised for a 2-0 start — which would already top CU’s 2012 win total.

8. Weber State (+23) at Utah (2 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
New co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson had an immediate impact on Travis Wilson and the Utah offense. This unit scored on two long drives in the waning moments of a huge win over Utah State and Wilson appears to be poised for a big season in Salt Lake City. Kyle Whittingham needs to get his team back to the postseason and any win is a good one for the Utes — even a gimme over the Wildcats of Weber State.

9. Portland State (+27.5) at Cal (5 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
Sure, the Bears allowed 508 yards of offense and 44 points in the Week 1 loss to Northwestern. But there was plenty to like about Sonny Dykes' debut in Berkeley, namely quarterback Jared Goff. This team has plenty of playmakers but needed a quarterback to make the offense move and Goff delivered in a big way. Portland State should pose little threat and Dykes should get his first win at Cal.

Pac-12 Week 2 Pivotal Players:

1. Washington State’s offensive line
It’s just one week but the USC Trojans are leading the nation in sacks after registering 7.0 against Hawaii last week. So the spotlight is on the Wazzu offensive line this weekend. The Cougars played well on the road against a very talented Auburn defensive line last week by rushing for 120 yards on 5.2 yards per carry. Protecting Connor Halliday and moving the chains on the ground might be Mike Leach’s only chance at a victory in the Cougars' ’13 Pac-12 debut.

2. Cody Kessler and Max Wittek, QB, USC
On the flip side, USC has to get better quarterback play to be considered a contender in the Pac-12. Neither Kessler (10-of-19) nor Wittek (5-of-10) were very efficient last week against Hawaii and neither topped 100 yards passing. Until one of these two highly touted signal-callers separates himself on the field, the Trojans won’t be anything but a fringe Top 25 team.

3. Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford
The Stanford safety is one of the nation’s best players and he will get an interesting test in the Cardinal’s season debut. David Fales is one of the more talented signal-callers in the nation after a monster 2012 campaign and solid ’13 opener (225 yards, 2 TD). The chess match between Reynolds and Fales should be fun to watch this weekend.

4. Oregon’s backfield
Yes, Marcus Mariota is important. Duh. So is De’Anthony Thomas. But after Virginia played much better than anticipated in an upset win over BYU, there is more of a spotlight on this unit than expected. Byron Marshall topped 100 yards last week and uber-recruit Thomas Tyner will make his Oregon debut. The Cavaliers allowed 144 yards to Cougars tailback Jamaal Williams and 42 yards and a score to quarterback Taysom Hill. The Ducks' backfield will likely show the nation that the Cavs' win last week was a bit of a fluke.

5. Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
The star running back was suspended last week for the easy win over Northern Arizona. Daniel Jenkins filled the void adequately with 139 yards on 12 carries but should take a backseat this weekend to Carey. On the road, the powers that be in Las Vegas seem to think the Arizona-UNLV game will be closer than the experts are predicting. This, and a fluid quarterback situation, puts pressure on Carey to perform at the highest level in his first game of the season. 

Pac-12 Week 2 Predictions:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
Washington St (+15) at USCUSC, 31-21USC, 27-13USC, 34-17USC, 35-28
Oregon (-23.5) at VirginiaOregon, 45-17Oregon, 28-6Oregon, 41-20Oregon, 49-14
San Jose St (+26.5) at StanfordStanford, 51-13Stanford, 31-14Stanford, 38-17Stanford, 35-17
Hawaii (+26.5) at Oregon StOregon St, 45-20Oregon St, 33-14Oregon St, 38-13Oregon St, 35-10
Arizona (-10) at UNLVArizona, 38-17Arizona, 41-17Arizona, 41-20Arizona, 35-21
Sacramento St (+37) at Arizona StArizona St, 52-3Arizona St, 44-6Arizona St, 48-14Arizona St, 42-10
Central Ark. (+14.5) at ColoradoColorado, 31-10Colorado, 41-20Colorado, 45-20Colorado, 28-14
Weber St (+23) at UtahUtah, 34-10Utah, 31-13Utah, 48-13Utah, 31-14
Portland St (+27.5) at CalCal, 44-17Cal, 41-20Cal, 50-17Cal, 49-17
Last Week: 9-17-38-26-4


2013 Pac-12 Week 2 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/big-12-2013-week-2-preview-and-predictions

The first week of the season revealed that the bottom of the Big 12 has more work ahead of it that perhaps we thought. Kansas State and Iowa State lost to FCS teams. West Virginia looked pedestrian against William & Mary.

And even if the final scores for the top teams in the Big 12 looked impressive Saturday, teams like Texas and Oklahoma aren’t without their questions.

Texas’ offense stalled early against New Mexico State before being unstoppable in the second half. The Longhorns’ second-week opponent may not allow Mack Brown’s team to find its footing.

Oklahoma’s defense was stifling against Louisiana-Monroe, and Trevor Knight showed he’d bring a new element of athleticism to the Sooners quarterback position. Now, OU faces West Virginia in an early conference game.

Those are the marquee games in Week 2 for the Big 12, but there are a handful of storylines worth watching elsewhere.

Other Week 2 Previews and Predictions
ACCBig Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Week 2 Big 12 Game Power Rankings
*All times Eastern, All games Saturday

1. Texas (-7) at BYU (7 p.m., ESPN2/Longhorn Network)
Which Texas offense will we see in Provo? The Longhorns fell behind New Mexico State 7-0, turing the ball over three times in the first five possessions. The Longhorns then went on a hot streak with touchdown passes of 54, 66 and 74 yards and touchdown runs of 24 and 55 yards. The game that started as an offensive disaster ended with a school-record 715 yards. The breakout player was running back Daje Johnson, who could be a big-play threat after averaging 14.3 yards on nine touches from scrimmage. The focus this week, though, will be on David Ash. The quarterback threw two picks against New Mexico State and will face a tough BYU pass rush.

2. West Virginia (+27) at Oklahoma (7 p.m., Fox)
Trevor Knight will be worth watching after few outside of the OU coverage area saw the redshirt freshman dual-threat quarterback against ULM last week. The redshirt freshman wasn’t crisp in the passing game (11 of 28, 86 yards, 3 TD, INT), but he showed a running ability (103 yards, 7.9 yards per carry) the OU quarterback position hasn’t had since a pre-knee surgery Jason White. A key question is how much OU can believe in its defense a dominant performance in the opener. ULM didn’t have a run longer than six yards. West Virginia's offense may be more formidable with Charles Sims, who rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries against William & Mary. West Virginia racked up 778 yards on Oklahoma last season, albeit with drastically different personnel for the Mountaineers.

3. UL-Lafayette (+10) at Kansas State (6:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1)
The Wildcats will be looking for any answers in the run game after rushing for 41 yards on 23 carries against North Dakota State in the opener. North Dakota State is a stout defensive team on the FCS level, but the Wildcats need better production. Kansas State faced five third downs of 10 yards or more in the loss to the Bison. The UL-Lafayette defense, which returned only three starters, looked vulnerable against the run after allowing 292 rushing yards to Arkansas in the opener.

4. Buffalo (+27) at Baylor (3:30 p.m., Fox Sports regional)
Perhaps not much intrigue here, but it may be interesting to see what Baylor does to the same team that just faced Ohio State. The Buckeyes last week defeated Buffalo 40-20, aided by a defensive touchdown. Bulls linebacker Khalil Mack’s reputation will precede him after recording 2.5 sacks and a pick six against the Buckeyes. “If I had to compare him to somebody, if I watched two or three plays, I would say Von Miller,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “That's who he reminds me of. He's explosive, he's dynamic, he's quick, he's long, he's vicious, and he's a multi-position guy.”

5. Stephen F. Austin (+38) at Texas Tech (7 p.m., Fox Sports regional)
Texas Tech faces another offense that can throw the ball around in Stephen F. Austin. Despite finishing 5-6 last season, the Lumberjacks were among the leaders in the division in passing. The Red Raiders allowed SMU to complete 41-of-62 passes for 388 yards Friday in the opener. A question we may have to wait another game to learn the answer to: Was walk-on freshman Baker Mayfield’s 413 passing yards and four touchdowns against SMU a fluke, or will he give Kliff Kingsbury a decision to make when Michael Brewer returns?

6. Oklahoma State (-26.5) at UTSA (noon, Fox Sports 1)
Mike Gundy may have a quarterback dilemma on his hands after handing the reins to J.W. Walsh against Mississippi State. Gundy benched Clint Chelf after two possessions against the Bulldogs, going with Walsh and his running ability. Not that Gundy needs any advice, but he could ask the coach on the opposing sideline: Larry Coker was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State when Gundy was the Cowboys’ quarterback.

7. South Dakota (-23.5) at Kansas (7 p.m., local TV only)
In theory, this should be Kansas’ best bet to end an 11-game losing streak with a 1-10 FCS team coming to town. The Jayhawks have an influx of junior college transfers Charlie Weis hopes revives the program. Kansas starts with South Dakota and then faces Rice and rebuilding Louisiana Tech. If KU can't compete in those games...

8. Southeastern Louisiana (+44) at TCU (noon, Fox Sports regional)
TCU will regroup after its loss to LSU with one of the keys being improved play at the receiver position, no matter who is at quarterback. The Horned Frogs dropped a handful of passes in the loss as the passing game combined to complete 15-of-28 passes. Casey Pachall will remain the starter, but Trevone Boykin will be a change-of-pace QB.

Off: Iowa State

Big 12 Week 2 Pivotal Players

Jordan Hicks, LB, Texas
The return of Jordan Hicks was supposed to be the big boost the Texas run defense needed this season. The BYU matchup will be a chance to prove that. Running back Jamaal Williams and quarterback Taysom Hill combined for 186 yards on 44 carries in the opener against Virginia. They’re both 200 pounds or heavier and tough to bring down, perhaps a problem for a Texas D that struggled with missed tackles last season.

Texas’ pass protection
BYU had seven tackles for a loss in the Virginia defeat to open the season, but the Cougars didn’t have a sack. The Longhorns’ line struggled in big games last season, and this game will put the five up front in the spotlight. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy is one of the nation’s top pass rushers after recording 13 sacks last season, and sophomore end Bronson Kaufusi is a load at 6-7, 282 pounds.

Isaiah Bruce and Brandon Golson, OLBs, West Virginia
The linebackers will be key in containing Oklahoma’s new mobile quarterback Trevor Knight, who topped 100 rushing yards in the opener last week against ULM. Bruce was the star of last season’s lackluster defense, and West Virginia is looking for him to be the face of the D. Golson is a junior college transfer the Mountaineers signed to improve their problematic outside linebacker position.

Jake Heaps, QB, Kansas
Charlie Weis hopes the second of his two high-profile quarterback transfers pans out. Notre Dame transfer Dayne Crist didn't even finish his lone season at KU as the starter, and now here comes Heaps from BYU. Heaps lost his starting job with the Cougars and is looking to reinvent himself in Lawrence. Heaps is also one of the last quarterbacks standing in a 2010 QB class filled with busts.

Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
With 11 carries for 111 yards and two touchdowns against Wofford, Seastrunk has topped the 100-yard mark in five consecutive games, all Baylor wins. A remarkable part of this streak: Seastrunk has not hit 20 carries in any game during this streak. Another 100-yard game is possible against Buffalo, but the matchup against Mack will be an interesting one to watch.

Big 12 Week 2 Predictions

GameDavid FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
Oklahoma St (-26.5) at UTSAOSU 35-3OSU 38-10OSU 48-17OSU 51-14
SE Louisiana (+44) at TCUTCU 38-10TCU 38-7TCU 50-13TCU 40-13
Buffalo (+27) at BaylorBaylor 42-10Baylor 41-17Baylor 48-20Baylor 41-20
ULL (+10) at Kansas StKState 21-14KState 24-10KState 31-24KState 28-14
West Va. (+27) at OklahomaOU 41-17OU 37-17OU 41-27OU 33-10
Texas (-7) at BYUBYU 24-14 Texas 31-10Texas 31-20Texas 24-7
SFA (+38) at Texas TechTech 35-14Tech 45-14Tech 55-10Tech 51-17
S. Dakota (-23.5) at KansasKU 28-10KU 31-17KU 45-7KU 17-10
Last week:7-27-27-27-2


Texas, Oklahoma looking to solidify top dog status
Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/sec-week-2-sec-preview-and-predictions-2013

South Carolina’s trip to Georgia highlights the Week 2 slate in the SEC.  Also, Florida heads to South Florida to play at Miami, and Tennessee hosts Western Kentucky in an intriguing battle of first-year head coaches. In addition, two SEC coaches will be facing their former schools — Auburn’s Gus Malzahn plays host to Arkansas State, and Missouri’s Gary Pinkel takes on Toledo.

Other Week 2 Previews and Predictions

ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12

SEC Week 2 Game Power Rankings

1. South Carolina (+3) at Georgia (4:30 ET, ESPN)
Georgia received some bad (though not unexpected) news on Sunday when standout wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell was diagnosed with a torn ACL. Mitchell, who played both ways last season, was expected to be a difference-maker on a great Georgia offense. The Bulldogs, however, still have plenty of talent — they averaged 7.8 yards per play in the loss to Clemson, which was higher than their 7.1 yards that led the nation in 2012. Don’t worry: This team will still score plenty of points. South Carolina was efficient in its weather-delayed 27–10 win over North Carolina. The Gamecocks showed some big-play ability — Connor Shaw hit Shaq Roland for 65 yards on USC’s first possession — and were productive on the ground. They will need to be balanced on offense against a Georgia defense that played relatively well in Week 1 against an elite Clemson offense. 

2. Florida (-3) at Miami (12 ET, ESPN)
Miami plays host to the Gators for the first time since 2003, when Larry Coker and Ron Zook were roaming the sidelines for their respective schools. Florida was terrific on defense in its 24–6 win over Toledo in Week 1. The Gators limited a very good (and very experienced) offense to 205 total yards and allowed the Rockets to convert only 1-of-13 on third down. Florida was underwhelming on offense, but it was clear the staff chose to keep things pretty basic. Jeff Driskel completed 17-of-22 passes but only threw for 153 yards and did not have a completion longer than 26 yards. Miami had no trouble with Florida Atlantic in its opener, rolling to a 34–6 win over the Owls. Duke Johnson rushed for 186 yards on 19 carries to lead a balanced attack.

3. Western Kentucky (+13.5) at Tennessee  (12:21 ET, SEC Network)

There was nothing fluky about Western Kentucky’s 35–26 win against Kentucky. The Hilltoppers, who rolled up 216 yards rushing and 271 yards passing, were the better team. Now, however, the challenge becomes greater for Bobby Petrino’s club. Tennessee is rebuilding but is still far more talented than Kentucky — on both sides of the ball. The Vols feature an NFL-caliber offensive line and have some nice parts on what should be an improved defense. Expect to see heavy doses of tailbacks Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane, who combined for 179 yards on 22 carries against an overmatched Austin Peay team. Western Kentucky struggled to slow Kentucky’s rushing attack, especially in the first half (174 yards on 18 attempts). Tennessee will take advantage of this mismatch and run for 250-plus yards.

4. Arkansas State (+13) at Auburn (7:30 ET, Fox Sports Net)
It’s possible that Auburn’s Week 2 opponent (Arkansas State) has more talent than its Week 1 opponent (Washington State). The Red Wolves are solid at quarterback with Adam Kennedy, a transfer from Utah State, and outstanding at tailback with David Oku, a former Tennessee Vol. The wild card on offense could be Fredi Knighten, who ran for 101 yards (one of four Red Wolves to top the 100-yard mark) and two touchdowns on three carries against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Knighten is listed as a quarterback but has been used primarily as a tailback. He could see some Wildcat looks this week. Auburn opened the Gus Malzahn era with a 31–24 win over Washington State. Nick Marshall did some good things in his debut at quarterback, but he only averaged 3.0 yards per carry and 5.2 yards per passing attempt. Those numbers will have to improve.

5. Toledo (+17) at Missouri (3:30 ET, ESPNU)
Missouri struggled in the first quarter but dominated Murray State the rest of the way en route to a 58–14 win. It’s dangerous to read too much into a game against an FCS opponent, but Gary Pinkel had to be pleased that his offense had over 300 yards rushing and passing. Despite struggling last week at Florida (against an elite defense), the Toledo offense figures to put some pressure on the Missouri defense. The Tigers ranked near the bottom of the SEC in most defensive categories last season, and it will not be a good sign if they give up a bunch of points to Toledo — a team that failed to score a touchdown against Florida.

6. Miami (Ohio) (+17) at Kentucky (12, Fox Sports Net)
The Mark Stoops era was going about as well as possible — until the games started. Kentucky was humbled by in-state rival Western Kentucky in Nashville on Saturday afternoon. The Cats’ defense had no answer for Western Kentucky’s balanced attack, allowing 215 yards rushing and 271 yards passing. UK went with Jalen Whitlow at quarterback, but he was pulled after throwing for only 78 yards on 15 attempts. Maxwell Smith, his replacement, was named the starter for Week 2. There was one bright spot: UK rushed for 216 yards on 32 carries, led by 98 yards on 14 attempts from tailback Raymond Sanders.

7. UAB (+34.5) at LSU (7 ET, ESPNU)
LSU was one of the most impressive teams, both in the SEC and nationally, in Week 1. The Tigers looked more dynamic on offense, and the new-look defense limited TCU to 259 total yards. Picked by many (including Athlon Sports) to finish third in the SEC West, LSU has the look of a team that can compete for the national title. UAB, on the other hand, lost in overtime to Troy in Week 1. This will not go well for the Blazers. 

8. Sam Houston State (+48) at Texas A&M (7 ET, PPV)
Ordinarily this game would have been indistinguishable from the other SEC vs. FCS showdowns (see below), but the fact that Johnny Manziel is involved adds some intrigue to this game. Also, Sam Houston State is a pretty good team. The Bearkats played for the 2012 FCS national title and opened the ’13 season with a 74–0 win over Houston Baptist.

Note: Due to the poor quality of the opponents, it was impossible to rank the final four games on the SEC schedule, so they all tied as the ninth-most compelling game in the league this week.

T-9. Samford  (+32) at Arkansas (7 ET, PPV)
It didn’t get much attention nationally, but Arkansas was quite impressive in its 34–14 win over Louisiana-Lafayette. Brandon Allen was efficient throwing the ball (15-of-22 for 230 yards with three TDs and no picks) and two running backs (Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins) rushed for at least 130 yards. This was a very good win over a solid team. The test in Week 2 will not be as great — though Samford did beat Georgia State in Week 1.

T-9. Alcorn State (+43) at Mississippi State (3:30 ET, CSS)
Mississippi State needs to build some confidence after struggling through a 21–3 loss to Oklahoma State in Houston. The Bulldogs managed only 333 yards of offense and failed to score a touchdown for the first time since losing to LSU 19–6 in September 2011. Alcorn State beat Edward Waters 63–12 last week.

T-9. Austin Peay (+46.5) at Vanderbilt (7:30 ET, CSS)
Vanderbilt needs a get-well game after the agonizing last-minute loss to Ole Miss last Thursday night. Austin Peay, which trailed Tennessee 42–0 at the half last week, should provide plenty of comfort. The Governors will be at a huge talent disadvantage at every spot on the field.

T-9. SE Missouri State (+49) at Ole Miss (7 ET, PPV)
Hugh Freeze will remind his team that eight FCS teams beat FBS teams in Week 1. What he probably won’t tell the Rebels is that SE Missouri State lost to SE Louisiana 45–7 last week. This will not be difficult for Ole Miss.

Week 2 SEC Pivotal Players

Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Not much hasn’t gone well for Aaron Murray in his time at Georgia. He’s been a four-year starter, won a bunch of games and played in the SEC Championship Game twice. But Murray — fair or not — has a label as a quarterback who can’t win the big game. And despite playing well last week at Clemson (20-of-29 for 323 yards, 1 INT), Murray failed to lead his team to victory. With South Carolina coming to town this weekend, the fifth-year senior will be under considerable pressure to play well — and, of course, win the game.

South Carolina’s linebackers
Georgia puts pressure on every part of a defense, but South Carolina’s inexperienced linebacker corps will be under intense scrutiny this week. This group will have to deal with Georgia’s elite tailback tandem of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall and handle the play-action game that can be so difficult to slow down. Also, the Bulldogs feature two outstanding pass-catching tight ends, Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome.

Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
Easley was a key figure on a Florida defensive line that consistently had its way with the Toledo offensive front. The Rockets managed only 205 yards of offense and did not score a touchdown. The challenge will be greater this week for Easley and the Florida defense. Miami boasts an outstanding offensive line and one of the top running backs in the nation, Duke Johnson. If Easley plays well, the Gators’ defense will be productive. 

Tennessee’s secondary
The Vols’ struggles in the secondary last season are well-documented. This week, this unit will be tested for the first time this season. Western Kentucky isn’t loaded with top-flight talent, but the Hilltoppers are good enough to move the ball up and down the field — just ask Kentucky — and are as well-coached on offense as any team in the nation. Two true freshman cornerbacks — Cameron Sutton and Malik Foreman — will see significant time.

Maxwell Smith, QB, Kentucky
Smith, who threw for 280 yards in the opener against Louisville last season, seems to be a better fit for Neal Brown’s “Air Raid” offense, but the UK staff went with Jalen Whitlow in Week 1 because of his ability to make plays with his feet. Smith gets the start this week and will have an opportunity to secure the top job with a solid performance. Miami gave up 591 yards of offense, including 287 through the air, in a 52–14 loss to Marshall last week.

SEC Week 2 Predictions


David FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
Florida at Miami 

Florida 28-24

Florida 27-21Florida 24-20Florida 24-20
Miami (OH) at Kentucky 

Kentucky 21-17

Kentucky 31-13Kentucky 38-17Kentucky 33-17

WKU at Tennessee 

UT 28-24UT 30-27UT 30-27UT 31-21

Toledo at Missouri 

Mizzou 35-28

Mizzou 31-20Mizzou 38-31Mizzou 28-20

Alcorn at Miss St.

Miss. St. 35-7Miss. St. 44-10Miss. St. 38-0Miss. State 41-10

South Carolina at Georgia 

Carolina 27-21

Carolina 27-21Georgia 27-24Georgia 31-21


LSU 42-10

LSU 41-10LSU 45-13LSU 41-0

Sam Houston at Texas A&M 

A&M 49-21

A&M 51-21A&M 58-27A&M 55-10

Samford at Arkansas 

Arkansas 41-14

Arkansas 41-20Arkansas 41-7Arkansas 31-0

SEMO at Ole Miss 

Ole Miss 49-7Ole Miss 42-13Ole Miss 52-7Ole Miss 44-7

Austin Peay at Vanderbilt 

Vanderbilt 52-7

Vanderbilt 51-10Vanderbilt 45-3Vanderbilt 51-7

Arkansas St. at Auburn 

Auburn 28-17

Auburn 31-14Auburn 34-27Arkansas St. 27-21
Last Week12-110-310-310-3


Georgia hosts South Carolina in key SEC East showdown
Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/2013-big-ten-week-2-preview-and-predictions

Northwestern and Indiana have interesting tests this weekend. Illinois is facing an uphill battle against Cincinnati. But, for the most part, the Big Ten should be business as usual in Week 2.

That is, of course, except in Ann Arbor. Notre Dame and Michigan are two of the most historic and tradition-rich programs in the nation and a minor verbal sparring match between the two blue-collar, rough-around-the-edges coaches has only added to the hype of this game.

With College Gameday in town, all eyes nationally should fall upon The Big House Saturday night.

Week 2 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12Pac-12 | SEC

Big Ten Week 2 Game Power Rankings:

1. Notre Dame (+3.5) at Michigan (8 p.m., ESPN)
Whether Brian Kelly believes this is a “historic, traditional” rivalry game or not, fans of both should settle in for one of weekend’s best matchups. Michigan has won three of the last four and five of the last seven but Notre Dame won 13-6 a year ago in the lowest scoring meeting since 1909. Kelly and Brady Hoke have split their two meetings with the home team taking both while the Wolverines are currently riding a 15-game home winning streak overall. Both quarterbacks will take center stage as Tommy Rees is coming off the best showing of his career and Devin Gardner dropped a 59-spot on Central Michigan last week. Look for the Irish’s defensive line to be a potential game-changer. If Louis Nix and company can keep Gardner in the pocket, the Irish have a chance to pull the road upset in what could be the final meeting in years between two of the three winningest programs in NCAA history.

2. Syracuse (+12) at Northwestern (6 p.m., BTN)
Kain Colter is still being listed as “day-to-day” and it has forced Syracuse to prepare as such. Don’t be shocked, however, if Pat Fitzgerald plays it safe with his dynamic playmaker because he has an excellent “backup” plan in Trevor Siemian. Siemian didn’t play his best game last week — 276 yards, TD, 2 INT — but led his team to a victory on the road against an improved Cal squad. Some help from star tailback Venric Mark (11 att., 29 yards) would be nice because the Wildcats can’t count on two defensive touchdowns every Saturday to win games.

3. Navy (+12.5) at Indiana (6 p.m., BTN)
The Hoosiers should have revenge on the mind when the Midshipmen come to town this weekend. This was an epic 31-30 road loss for Kevin Wilson’s squad last season in a game that featured a combined 430 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on the ground. The two combined for just 340 yards, one TD and two INTs through the air. Expect the Big Ten’s top passing offense to be more effective now with Tre Roberson and Nate Sudfeld back on the field. Coming off a record-setting performance in Week 1, Wilson is looking for his second consecutive 2-0 start at Indiana.

4. Cincinnati (-8) at Illinois (Noon, ESPN2)
The Bearcats are looking to go 2-0 against the Big Ten Leaders Division after thoroughly dismantling Purdue last week. The Illini, on the other hand, needed a last-minute, goal-line stand to sneak past FCS foe Southern Illinois. Cincinnati brings tremendous balance into the game on offense after topping 200 yards on the ground and through the air last week while Illinois was anything but balanced. Nathan Scheelhaase threw for 416 yards but the ground game added just 49 yards on 30 attempts. If Tim Beckman wants to pull the upset at home, his offense will need to be more balanced.

5. San Diego State (+28) at Ohio State (3:30 p.m., ABC)
Buffalo hung around longer than expected against the Buckeyes last week and, although OSU was shorthanded due to suspensions, Urban Meyer likely had a field day with the game tape. The struggles for Ohio State, however, pale in comparison to the way the Aztecs got their season started last week. Eastern Illinois crushed San Diego State 40-19 behind 533 yards of offense on the road. The four-touchdown spread says it all.

6. South Florida (+23.5) at Michigan State (Noon, ESPNU)
The Spartans were bad on offense last week, be it Andrew Maxwell or Connor Cook running the offense, as it scored just one touchdown and mustered just 297 yards. That said, South Florida was worse. McNeese State set NCAA records for points scored and margin of victory by an FCS team over an FBS opponent (53-21). Sparty wins big — and take the under.

7. Southern Miss (+28.5) at Nebraska (6 p.m., BTN)
After allowing 602 yards and 35 first downs to Wyoming last weekend, the Black Shirts desperately need to get back on track. And despite a shocking loss to Texas State in Week 1, Southern Miss could provide an interesting test. The Cornhuskers offense is a proven commodity but USM quarterback Allan Bridgeford, who threw for 377 yards last week, could push Big Red’s defense. Was Brett Smith simply that good? Or are there much bigger issues in Lincoln than originally expected?

8. Minnesota (-16) at New Mexico State (8 p.m.)
The only team in the league playing on the road this weekend will be the Golden Gophers. New Mexico State gave Texas a first-half scare last weekend before allowing a billion yards to David Ash and the Longhorns over the final 32 minutes. Jerry Kill can’t expect three non-offensive touchdowns each week and his backfield is depleted, so all eyes turn once again to sophomore quarterback Philip Nelson.

9. Eastern Michigan (+23.5) at Penn State (Noon, BTN)
Christian Hackenberg is always worth the price of admission, so this one is worth checking out. Otherwise, Ron English and the Eagles are vastly over-matched and should pose little threat to the Nittany Lions beginning the year 2-0. Especially since Allen Robinson should play from the opening kickoff this week.

10. Missouri State (+24.5) at Iowa (Noon, BTN)
Kirk Ferentz has to be happy to see a Missouri Valley team on the schedule in Week 2. His tenuous coaching tenure took a major blow last week against Northern Illinois and fans can expect the Hawkeyes to roll up a big number in their second game. Jake Rudock will look to build on his adequate Week 1 performance.

11. Indiana State (+17) at Purdue (Noon, BTN)
Darrell Hazell could not have debuted in any uglier fashion than the 42-7 drubbing he took at the hands of Cincinnati last week. The Sycamores allowed Indiana to break all types of records on offense last week. Hazell’s team needs to eliminate mistakes and play efficient football in what could be their only win in the first two months of the season.

12. Tennessee Tech (+44.5) at Wisconsin (Noon, BTN)
Three different Badgers topped 100 yards rushing and Joel Stave returned to the starting lineup last week in the 45-point win over UMass. And the point spread was 44.5 last weekend too. A second-straight 45-0 win for Gary Andersen sounds about right.

Big Ten Week 2 Pivotal Players:

1. Taylor Lewan, OL, Michigan
Lewan and his cohorts along the Michigan offensive line must protect The Big House to win Saturday night. And that means protecting star quarterback Devin Gardner and his running backs from one of the saltiest defensive lines in the nation. Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt are future NFL Draft picks and should play better this weekend than they did in their season debut against Temple. Who wins the line of scrimmage battle when the Wolverines have the ball will likely determine who wins this monumental showdown.

2. Trevor Siemian, QB, Northwestern
Northwestern wasn’t at its best — or healthiest — last week against Cal but still managed an impressive road win. Should Kain Colter not play against Syracuse, the offensive onus will fall to Siemian to lead the Wildcats in their home debut. He is a different player than Colter and shouldn’t try to make the same type of plays, so there is added pressure on his supporting cast as well. A litany of talented skill players, especially Venric Mark, need to step up and allow Siemian the opportunity to distribute the football efficiently.

3. Indiana’s front seven
The Middies from the Naval Academy are an absolute nightmare to prepare for and scheme against. Stopping a triple option offense begins and ends with assignment football, gap control and discipline. This is what the Indiana front seven will have to deal with this weekend. Navy ran for 257 yards and two scores on 57 attempts last year in the 31-30 home win over the Hoosiers.

4. Nebraska's secondary
Wyoming’s Brett Smith torched this unit last weekend to the tune of 383 yards and four touchdowns on 29 completions. Southern Miss' Allan Bridgeford, albeit in a loss, posted similar numbers a week ago. The Huskers have to improve in the secondary against the pass if they expect to compete with teams like UCLA, Michigan, Northwestern and potentially Ohio State this fall.

5. Josh Ferguson and Donovonn Young, RB, Illinois
The Illini were completely one-sided in their win over Southern Illinois last weekend and it falls to these two ball-carriers to fix that problem. Illinois ran the ball 30 times for 49 yards with Ferguson (nine att.) and Young (eight att.) getting the majority of the work. If these two (and the O-line) aren’t more productive, it will be a long day against Cincy.

Big Ten Week 2 Prediction Grid:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
Notre Dame (+3.5) at MichiganMichigan, 20-17 Michigan, 24-20Michigan, 24-20Michigan, 28-17
Syracuse (+12) at NorthwesternN'Western, 34-20N'Western, 33-24N'Western, 34-20N'Western, 35-14
Navy (+12.5) at IndianaIndiana, 38-20Indiana, 38-24Indiana, 38-31Indiana, 42-24
Cincinnati (-8) at IllinoisCincy, 38-20Cincy, 20-10Cincy, 34-20Cincy, 35-17
San Diego St (+28) at Ohio StOhio St, 49-14Ohio St, 41-10Ohio St, 40-17Ohio St, 38-14
USF (+23.5) at Michigan StMich. St, 21-13Mich. St, 31-14Mich. St, 31-13Mich. St, 17-10
So. Miss (+28.5) at NebraskaNebraska, 42-21Nebraska, 38-8Nebraska, 45-14Nebraska, 49-14
Minnesota (-16) at NMSUMinn., 41-21Minn., 33-17Minn., 38-17Minn., 24-14
E. Michigan (+23.5) at Penn StPenn St, 31-3Penn St, 28-6Penn St, 45-14Penn St, 28-7
Missouri St (+24.5) at IowaIowa, 30-10Iowa, 27-10Iowa, 41-7Iowa, 21-7
Indiana St (+17) at PurduePurdue, 24-7Purdue, 34-10Purdue, 38-13Purdue, 28-17
Tenn. Tech (+44.5) at WisconsinWisc., 51-7Wisc., 47-0Wisc., 55-3Wisc., 52-3
Last Week:11-111-111-112-0


2013 Big Ten Week 2 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 07:14
All taxonomy terms: Pittsburgh Pirates, MLB
Path: /mlb/year-year-pirates-finally-end-historic-losing-streak

The Primanti Bros. sandwiches may taste a little better this morning in the Steel City.

The long wait to see a winning team in Pittsburgh is over after the Pirates ended  a record-long streak of 20 consecutive losing seasons by XXXXXX. That’s 82 wins for the first time since ’93, the first season after the Pirates were dismantled.

The two decades of rebuilding have been chronicled in the pages of Athlon Sports, and believe it or not, we’re may be as tired of writing about the perpetually rebuilding Pirates as the Pittsburgh fans are of watching them.

“Two or three more years” always seemed to be the mantra for the Pirates through mangers, general managers and players from Al Martin, Jeff King, Kevin Young, Jason Kendall, Bran Giles, Jack Wilson and on and on.

Here’s a look back at each season during the losing streak from the pages of Athlon’s preview annuals. All the unfulfilled optimism. All the predictions that, yes, in the end this season in Pittsburgh will be just like the last.

Some predictions were right on. Some where unintentionally humorous. Some were way off.

But, hey, now Pirates fans can take a minute to laugh at the last 20 years.

Or not.

What Athlon said: How can a franchise that has lost Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla and Doug Drabek to free agency, and traded John Smiley and Jose Lind within a calendar year expect to win any time in the near future? “You can’t win every year,” manager Jim Leyland admits.
Projection: Sixth in NL East
Finished: 75-87 (fifth in NL East)

What Athlon said: Through three team presidents and four general managers, Jim Leyland has endured, becoming the fourth-winningest manager in the franchise’s 107-year history. If he has his way he’ll pad those numbers before he’s through. Then he’ll leave the business the way he came in — as a Pirate.
Projection: Last in the NL Central
Finished: 53-61 (third in NL Central)

What Athlon said: On one hand, the Pirates are moving forward. Under guise of new ownership, they are restocking their farm system. On the other hand, the Pirates don’t have any real meat to their organization.
Projection: None, due to the strike
Finished: 58-86 (last in NL Central)

What Athlon said: Jeff King will be an important player for the Pirates, probably through the rest of this decade. Then he’ll move full-time to a 2,200-acre cattle ranch he’s leasing in rugged southwestern Montana, not far from his boyhood home in Colorado Springs. Perhaps then, Jeff King will be truly happy.
Projection: Last in NL Central
Finished: 73-89 (last)

What Athlon said: Al Martin will probably be a Pirate into the next century if the team’s goal of becoming competitive again in 1999 proves achievable. He’s willing to endure the probable woes of the next two seasons and provide vocal support for management’s rebuilding plan.
Projection: Last in NL Central
Finished: 79-83 (second)

What Athlon said: The Pirates will enter spring training thinking they can contend again. however, an overachieving team usually slips a bit the next season. Pirate management will continue to focus on 1999 and 2000 as the years the team will become a solid contender.
Projection: Third in NL Central
Finished: 69-93 (last)

What Athlon said: This is the third year of the Pirates’ self-proclaimed five-year plan to build a championship-caliber team, and they need to start showing progress.
Projection: Last in NL Central
Finished: 78-83 (third)

What Athlon said: The pitching staff is high on potential, if not results, and the club has built a stable of young talent. The move to a new park could usher in a successful era in Pittsburgh. Whether or not manager Gene Lamont’s around to see it or not.
Projection: Fourth in NL Central
Finished: 69-93 (fifth)

What Athlon said: The Pirates may have to finish above .500 in their first season at PNC Park or GM Cam Bonifay could be gone.
Projection: Fourth in NL Central
Finished: 62-100 (last)

What Athlon said: There’s too much for new GM Dave Littlefield to do, and too little money to make much of a dent this year.
Projection: Last in NL Central
Finished: 72-89 (fourth)

What Athlon said: After his team on in Chicago to ensure a 10-win improvement over ’01, manager Lloyd McClendon shared some champagne with the troops, telling them he appreciated their hard work. McClendon vows there won’t be any champagne until it’s for real. That bubbly likely will be chilling for at least two more summers.
Projection: Fifth in NL Central
Finished: 75-87 (fourth)

What Athlon said: The left field job is Jason Bay’s for years to come — until the Pirates can’t afford to pay him.
Projection: Last in NL Central
Finished: 72-89 (fifth)

What Athlon said: During the winter, the Pirates completed a two-year project — they traded Jason Kendall and his (for them) onerous contract. During this season, they’ll try to finish a 12-year project — having a winning season. That doesn’t appear likely, again, but the Pirates just might be about to turn the corner.
Projection: Fifth in NL Central
Finished: 67-95 (last)

What Athlon said:  With a solid rotation and performance turnarounds by Kip Wells and Oliver Perez, a smooth transition to closer by Mike Gonzalez and more offense, the Pirates could make a run at 81 wins this season.
Projection: Fifth in NL Central
Finished: 67-95 (fifth)

What Athlon said: Zach Duke, Ian Snell, Paul Maholm and Tom Gorzelanny have made a combined 134 major league starts. However, because they’re all homegrown products, they formed a strong bond last season and seem determined to be part of what they feel is an uptick in the team’s fortunes.
Projection: Last in NL Central
Finished: 68-64 (last)

What Athlon said: The Pirates still have that big old elephant in their clubhouse — 15 consecutive losing seasons, one season short of the major league record for futility established by the woeful Philadelphia Phillies from 1933-48. Despite all the newness, the 2008 Pirates probably will match their cross-commonwealth brethren’s unwanted record.
Projection: Last in NL Central
Finished: 67-95 (last)

What Athlon said: The starters bore much of the blame for the team’s 95-loss season. ... Ian Snell, Zach Duke, Tom Gorzelanny, Matt Morris and and assorted others had much to do with that.
Projection: Last in NL Central
Finished: 62-99 (last)

What Athlon said: Andrew McCutchen has already established himself as one of the Pirates’ cornerstones with his outstanding speed, developing power, tremendous range in center field and leadership qualities. He quickly made fans forget about the popular Nate McLouth.
Projection: Last in the NL Central
Finished: 57-105 (last)

What Athlon said: While the team should be better this season, an kind of real turnaround won’t begin to take place until 2012 at the earliest.
Projection: Last in the NL Central
Finished: 72-90 (fourth)

What Athlon said:  There is no denying that the Pirates are moving int eh right direction, as their major league roster are much more talented than when GM Neal Huntington took over in 2007. Manager Clint Hurdle also seems to be the man to take the franchise places. However, it would be premature to think the Pirates can contend this season. They still have too many holes and not enough depth. Yet if things break right, the first winning season since 1992 is a possibility.
Projection: Fourth in the NL Central
Finished: 79-83 (fourth)

What Athlon said: Making a run at the postseason might be a stretch — even in the era of the second wild card — but a winning record appears to be a realistic goal in Pittsburgh.
Projection: Third in the NL Central
Finished: XXXXX

Through the pages of Athlon: A look at the sad days in Pittsburgh before McCutchen and Co.
Post date: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 19:55
Path: /mlb/you-wont-believe-everything-thats-happened-pirates-had-winning-season

It’s been a long time since the Pittsburgh Pirates had a winning season. A well-documented long time. My daughter is a junior in college, and the Pirates have not had a season with a winning record in her lifetime.

But, last night, the Pirates won their 82nd game of the season, ensuring themselves of a winning year in 2013.

A few notable events have happened in baseball since the Bucs were winners back in 1992. Here are a few:

The Florida Marlins, now the Miami Marlins, and the Colorado Rockies came into being. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks came into being.

The Marlins won two World Series. The Diamondbacks won a World Series. The Boston Red Sox won two World Series. Even the White Sox won a World Series. In fact, 11 different franchises have won the World Series.

Joe Torre was hired by George Steinbrenner to manage the New York Yankees. Tony La Russa was hired as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Montreal Expos abandoned Canada and moved to Washington to become the Nationals. Postseason baseball was played in our nation’s capital, but not in Pittsburgh.

American League and National League teams began playing each other in the regular season — and the games actually count. Central Divisions were created in both leagues. Wild card teams were introduced.

A new generation of superstars has been introduced to fans since the Pirates were last winners. Chipper Jones made his major league debut. Mariano Rivera made his major league debut. Derek Jeter made his major league debut. Alex Rodriguez made his major league debut.

Cal Ripken was still 396 games away from breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games streak of 2,130 the last time the Bucs were winners.


And 10 players — Jeter, Rodriguez, Johnny Damon, Ichiro Suzuki, Jones, Ivan Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, Garret Anderson and Todd Helton — all amassed at least 2,500 hits during that time. Ichiro collected 3,983 in Japan and the U.S. during that time.

Former Pirate Barry Bonds hit 586 home runs and has been retired long enough to be on the Hall of Fame ballot. Alex Rodriguez topped that with 651 clouts. A third player, Jim Thome, also hit more than 600 homers. And another three players — Sammy Sosa, Ramirez and Ken Griffey — hit more than 500 home runs.

The single-season 70-home run barrier was broken twice. The single-season 60-home run barrier was broken six times.

There have been 45 no-hitters in the big leagues, including gems by Chris Bosio, Jose Jimenez and Bud Smith, since the Pirates celebrated a winning season, none by Pittsburgh pitchers. The Bucs have been no-hit once during that time.

Greg Maddux, Andy Pettitte and Randy Johnson each won 250 or more games since the Pirates were a .500 team. Mike Mussina missed by two. The only two pitchers with more than 600 saves — Rivera and Trevor Hoffman — did all their closing work since then.

And Sabermetrics were introduced to baseball fans.

There have been more World Series cancellations than Pirates’ winning seasons in the last 20 years. Heck, there has been more cancelled hockey seasons.

A few things have happened in other sports as well.

In the NFL, the Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans came into existence. The Houston Oilers became the Tennessee Titans. The Rams moved to St. Louis from Los Angeles, but not before winning nine games over two seasons as the Los Angeles Rams.

A total of 12 franchises won a Super Bowl. Peyton Manning made his debut — for the University of Tennessee.

Michael Jordan won four NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls. Yep, it’s been a while since the Pirates won as many as 82 games.

LeBron James made his debut — for Saint Vincent-Saint Mary High School in Akron. Chris Webber was drafted No. 1 overall by Orlando and immediately traded to Golden State. Isaiah Rider made his NBA debut. Jason Kidd and Grant Hill were drafted.

Boston has celebrated seven championships among the four major North American sports. And in Pittsburgh, the Steelers won two Super Bowls and the Penguins captured a Stanley Cup.

In college athletics, Chris Webber called timeout. Tommie Frazier led Nebraska to back-to-back national titles. And let’s not forget that Corliss Williamson, Tony Delk and Miles Simon each won the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player Award.

Rick Pitino won national championships at both Kentucky and Louisville and dismantled the Boston Celtics in between. Both Tubby Smith and Lon Kruger took four different schools to the NCAA Tournament.

The BCS was invented. The BCS was disposed. And two college football national championships were shared.

Nine non-SEC teams have won undisputed national championships in college football during the Pirates’ Losing Era.

Mack Brown was hired at Texas. Nick Saban was introduced at Michigan State, and the University of Pittsburgh has hired eight head football coaches. Pete Carroll coached the New York Jets.

Penn State gave up its long-standing independent status and joined the Big Ten. Texas A&M won two Southwest Conference championships. Nebraska won three Big Eight Conference championships.

And, oh, by the way, was launched as and ESPN2 hit the airwaves.

And here’s a little perspective outside the world of sports:

The United Kingdom handed over Hong Kong to China. Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa. And Monica Lewinsky became a White House intern. O.J. Simpson became a criminal.

The Dow Jones topped 5000. GM launched its Saturn Division (“A New Kind of Car Company”). And MP3 players were introduced.

Y2K freaked many people out, needlessly. And the Euro was adopted by the European Union.

“Schindler’s List,” “Forrest Gump” and “Braveheart” debuted on the big screen while “Beavis and Butthead” debuted on MTV.

Bill Clinton was elected President. The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was adopted by the military. Sony’s PlayStation was developed. Taylor Swift celebrated her fourth birthday.

And Bryce Harper was born.

All these memories were created since Atlanta’s Sid Bream scored on a base hit by Francisco Cabrera to end the Pirates’ 1992 season, their last with a winning record.

It’s been a long time since the Pittsburgh Pirates had a winning season. A well-documented long time. But, last night, the Pirates won their 82nd game of the season, ensuring themselves of a winning season in 2013. A few notable events have happened in baseball since the Bucs were winners.
Post date: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 18:22
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/ranking-best-and-worst-nfl-logos-2013

Brand equity. Brand awareness. Brand image. These are all economic terms that overlap, exist in a nebulous world and don’t directly impact the bean-counters. But as the media world has grown over the last half century, so has the understanding and belief in things like advertising, marketing and, of course, branding. Business executives figured out early on that separating oneself, especially in a saturated marketplace, could be the difference between success and failure.

And so things like tag lines — “I’m loving it” or “We pick you up” — and brand logos are born. Volvo being known for having safe cars or Chick-Fil-A known for it’s Sunday beliefs have been interwoven into the fabric of those corporate cultures.

But a company’s logo is still the most recognizable, most direct way to separate yourself from your competitors. The NFL is no different. And since Athlon Sports has been producing the best looking magazine on newsstands for the better part of five decades, we feel qualified to analyze all 32 NFL team logos for 2013.

And I turned our graphic design guru and Art Director Matt Taliaferro loose on the current roster of NFL logos and here is what he came up with:

1.DallasWhat other franchise, company or corporate entity in general has gotten more mileage out of a simple star? If it ain't broke (and if it's immediately identifiable) ...
2.Green BayQuite frankly, I don't care whether the universities of Georgia or Grambling or the NFL's Titletown bunch was the first to it (so save me your history lesson), the classic oblong "G" is timeless regardless of team.
3.Kansas CityThe brilliance of this logo lies in how it combines the arrowhead with a rather unique, yet vinatage, font (as logos go, anyway). These "old school" logos fit well with the proud, "old school" fanbases.
4.IndianapolisThe most successful NFL brands are represented by a singular, unmistakably unambiguous logo. The horseshoe personifies that.
5.San FranciscoSan Fran's old "circle logo" needed some refreshing, and when that came to pass a few years ago it was handled with as much elegance as I can imagine. Yeah, I just used the word "elegance" in relation to a football team.
6.ChicagoEver notice the Cincinnati Reds have basically the same logo? The differing color schemes help mask that truth. Hey, go with what works.
7.New OrleansThe fleur-de-lis encapsulates what the city of New Orleans — and the franchise name "Saints" — is all about. An otherwise simple design that marries a team to a region is typically a winner.
8.NY GiantsBold, block lettering portrays the idea of "giant" without getting literal. I'm a sucker for their unis, too.
9.HoustonIs there another logo that incorporates the feel of a fanchise's locale better than Houston's? And with such direct simplicity? The steer, the star, just the right amount of "mod." Answer: I don't think so.
10.OaklandThe marriage of logo and fanbase is no stronger anywhere in the NFL as it is in Oakland ... and in the end that's the most important thing, right?
11.PittsburghAn historic logo whose significance lies as much in the industrial world as the sporting realm. That in itself makes up for the rather bland imagery.
12.DetroitDetroit's lion was redesigned by using just the right amount of contemporary touch. No overdoing things here. Well done.
13.NY JetsWhen the Jets '80s-fied" their logo the look lasted about as long as those of the parachute pants that the designer wore at the time. A case study in why not to jump on the trendy bandwagon when branding is involved.
14.AtlantaAn aggressive logo whose subtle use of angles and simple, aerodynamic curves fit well with the "Falcons" moniker. A sure favorite of the avant-garde amonst us.
15.DenverRemember prior to the '97 season when Denver changed uniforms and logos? Then it was radical, now it's common. This logo beats the hell out of the alternate "bucking bronco" mark. Don't bother Googling it; I gotcha.
16.San DiegoSubtle color changes aside, the Chargers have enjoyed a successful 50-plus year run with a lightning bolt. Ironically, there's nothing "flashy" about it, yet in the overall theme, it has worked quite well.
17.New England"Flying Elvis" quips aside, New England's logo design encapsulates the Minuteman/Revolutionary/Patriot theme in a smart, tidy way.
18.WashingtonLove the feathers. If (when?) this franchise makes a complete overhaul, keeping those around in some form would be wise.
19.SeattleSeattle sports are doing a nice job of unifying their themes. Its NFL franchise has done a solid job of going radical with a new look, while not indulging in some of the gaudiness that has come to define sports in the Great Northwest (looking at you, UO).
20.MiamiIt was time, Miami. This logo tweak has been handled with class ... the Marlins could take a lesson. As could a couple of the NFL franchises on this list.
21.BuffaloI mean, how are you gonna make a buffalo look cool? They've done a lot with a little. And it tramples the old "standing bison" look.
22.St. LouisWe're wading into "over-Illustrator'd" logo territory, now. I love the color scheme (St. Louis calls it "Millenium Blue" and "New Century Gold"); the mark could use ... something, but I can't put my pen tool on it.
23.ArizonaA more fearsome cardinal has helped Arizona's mark. Still, it's a bit underwhelming.
24.Tampa BayIt's a nice little package that the Bucs have put together here. And certainly more marketable than "Buccanneer Bruce."
25.CincinnatiA stylized "B" with tiger stripes. Could be better, could be worse. Much like the on-field product.
26.MinnesotaThe simple horns on Minnesota's helmet work better than He-Man over there. Braided hair in a football logo seldom works (that's why no one else does it).
27.Tennessee"The Flaming Thumbtack" has elements that work: the three stars that are reflected on the state flag and the Greek theme, tying in Nashville's billing as the "Athens of the South." A quirky logo that far outdistances the team's ghastly uniforms.
28.ClevelandTechnically, Cleveland's logo is the helmet, making placing a logo on the helmet impossible. Talk about minimalistic.
29.MiamiA somewhat cartoonish representation of a bald eagle, this works in a late-90s sort of way. That, however, was 15 years ago.
30.CarolinaCarolina is another relatively new franchise that seems to have struggled to find its identity. That is reflected in the logo, which just received a slight adjustment to solidify it's Arena League-esque quality.
31.JacksonvilleI'm not going anywhere near the atrocious gold-to-black helmet gradient, so as to the logo: Yes, it looks like a jaguar. With a blue tongue. Now please move along quickly.
32.BaltimoreBaltimore has seriously struggled in the logo department since stealing Cleveland's Browns adopting the Ravens. I mean, purple and black? Let's just call them the Baltimore Bruises and be done with it.


Ranking the Best and Worst NFL Logos in 2013
Post date: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 16:00
Path: /nascar/fantasy-nascar-picks-richmond-international-raceway

To help guide you through the 2013 Fantasy NASCAR season, Athlon Sports contributor Geoffrey Miller will be offering his best predictions for each race. And because Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing game is arguably the most popular, he’ll break down the picks according to its NASCAR driver classes — A-List, B-List, C-List. The main picks are designed to make optimal use of Yahoo!’s 9-start maximum rule over the course of the season. The “also consider” section ranks unmentioned drivers strictly by expected result without consideration of start limitations.

Next up: Federated Auto Parts 500 (Richmond International Raceway)
Race: 400 laps, 300 miles (.75-mile D-shaped oval)
Spring 2013 winner: Kevin Harvick

A-List (Pick two, start one)
Denny Hamlin  Denny Hamlin

Denny Hamlin's ridiculous slump continued at Atlanta, and may just feel interminable for the Virginia driver. But the seemingly endless bout of frustration for Hamlin likely has its best chance to end Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway. Hamlin's home track, Richmond's recent statistics show Hamlin as the most impressive driver on-track. He leads the series with a 5.9 average running position and has completed 93.1 percent of his laps in 14 starts at RIR inside the top 15. More, Hamlin has led nearly one in every four laps at Richmond since he started racing there eight seasons ago. Hamlin, due to his back injury, was absent from Richmond in the spring.

Kevin Harvick
Despite working toward the end of his final season under the Richard Childress Racing banner, Kevin Harvick's been plenty good enough to be a lock for the Chase. He also figures to be good enough to contend for a win Saturday night at Richmond. Harvick grabbed hold of April's race at Richmond late in the proceedings — he led just three laps — to score his third-career win at the short track. The win was his second in four races at Richmond and all told, Harvick is second only to Denny Hamlin in terms of average running position at the track in the last nine seasons.

Also consider: Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon

B-List (Pick four, start two)
Kyle Busch

If you like Denny Hamlin at Richmond, you darn well better like Kyle Busch. Looking for his second straight win, Busch would join Jimmie Johnson and teammate Matt Kenseth in the class of five wins during NASCAR's regular season. Things haven't gone to plan in Busch's last two RIR starts — he was 16th and 24th — but you can't expect that to last. Prior to, Busch had scored seven consecutive top-10 finishes at the track with four wins.

Ryan Newman
Ryan Newman is the kind of guy who loves to needle at folks who make decisions he's not necessarily pleased with. He's also that way on the racetrack — other drivers often grow weary of his racing style — and you can bet he's wanting to pull some of those same tricks both on the Stewart-Haas Racing team that's booting him to the curb at season's end and to those who paint him as an improbability to make the Chase. Newman has a best finish of eighth in the last eight Richmond races, but he could very well be a dark horse pick for Saturday among drivers you haven't yet fully used.

Kurt Busch
Richmond earlier this season was one of the tracks where the idea of Kurt Busch pulling together a Chase-worthy season started to take shape. On that April night, Busch led 36 laps and wound up ninth. He turned that performance, of course, in a manner that drove Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth plenty mad. Still, Busch's average running position in the last 17 races is 15.1 (ninth-best in the series) at RIR. With the Chase on the line, it's a race that could either go very well for Busch or very bad. It just depends how you want to bet. Two years ago, Busch finished fifth with Penske Racing in the Richmond fall race.

Juan Pablo Montoya  Juan Pablo Montoya
Another lame duck driver, Juan Pablo Montoya might not seem like a logical pick for
Richmond. Illogical, that is, until you stop to consider how he nearly ran away with the race win back in April. Montoya was the race leader when NASCAR tossed a debris caution with fewer than 10 laps left — effectively ruining Montoya's shot at a win after leading 67 laps because his pit crew was too slow during the final stop. At a point in the season where effective B-List starters are beginning to become scarce, consider that Montoya has shown improved results in recent races. And then consider that when Montoya did make NASCAR's Chase in 2010, he scored a pair of top-10 finishes at the track. April's fourth-place finish at RIR was his first since that season.

Also consider: Mark Martin, Jeff Burton

C-List (Pick two, start one)
AJ Allmendinger

The newly-crowned 2014 full-time driver of the JTG-Daugherty No. 47 entry gets another chance to dazzle at Richmond thanks to the injury suffered by former series champion Bobby Labonte on a bicycle last week. Undoubtedly, the team has to be confident from Allmendinger’s last two starts in the car that resulted in 10th- (Watkins Glen) and 14th- (Atlanta) place finishes. As for the driver himself, a short track may be a great place to shine with the underfunded bunch. With Labonte, the No. 47 has finished 20th or better in three of the last five Richmond races. Meanwhile, Allmendinger has been even better by finishing eighth, seventh, 11th, 16th and 14th in his last five RIR starts.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Raise your hand if you saw this stat coming 26 races into the 2013 season: Danica Patrick has more top-10 finishes than Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Of course, that's partially unfair because Patrick's only top 10 came at Daytona in February. Still, Stenhouse doesn't yet have one. That may all start to change as the two-time defending Nationwide Series champion finally gets in to the meat of the schedule of tracks racing dates for the second time. Stenhouse was 16th his last time out at Richmond; anything better would be icing on a dessert of good C-List news.

Also consider: David Ragan, Casey Mears

Follow Geoffrey Miller on Twitter: @GeoffreyMiller


Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch top the list of fantasy picks for NASCAR's trip to Richmond for the Federated Auto Parts 400.
Post date: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 15:57
All taxonomy terms: College Football, USC Trojans, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/usc-expected-start-cody-kessler-qb-week-2

USC opened the season with a 30-13 victory over Hawaii, but the Trojans struggled to get anything going through the air. And it appears the quarterback battle will continue into Week 2. All reports out of Los Angeles this week seem to signal Cody Kessler will get the start this Saturday, but Max Wittek is expected to play.

Kessler started at quarterback and completed 10 of 19 throws for 95 yards and one touchdown. However, he also tossed one pick.

Wittek played in relief, completing 5 of 10 throws for 77 yards. The sophomore also averaged more yards per attempt (7.7).

Although neither took a step forward in the quarterback battle, USC can win a lot of games this year without a dynamic passing attack. The defense was solid in the opener and will get better with more time to adjust to new coordinator Clancy Pendergast’s system. Also, the team can lean on a deep group of running backs to carry the offense until a quarterback emerges.

USC faces an improving Washington State team this Saturday, which should provide a good test for Kessler and Wittek as the quarterback battle continues to play out for the Trojans.

USC Expected to Start Cody Kessler at QB in Week 2
Post date: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 12:52
Path: /college-football/rutgers-changes-helmets-week-2

After a tough loss to Fresno State in Week 1, Rutgers returns home to play Norfolk State. The Scarlet Knights are a heavy favorite and should have no trouble erasing the bad memories from last week’s loss.

Rutgers will also break out a new helmet this week, changing from the gray chrome scheme to a white variation.

Pretty sharp look for the Scarlet Knights.


Rutgers Changes Helmets for Week 2
Post date: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 12:39
Path: /mlb/previewing-2013-mlb-pennant-races

At the end of the week the calendar will flip over into September. As the leaves begin to turn orange, yellow, and red, baseball prepares to head down the final stretch before the playoffs. Recently, September baseball has been high drama.

While it appears that the Braves and the Dodgers have their divisions well in hand, other division races are tight, with several playoffs spots to be had. The most interesting race is the three-team pileup happening in the NL Central between the Pirates, Reds, and Cardinals.

The American League also provides some intrigue, as both the AL West and AL East are close. With Tampa Bay (5.5 GB) and Baltimore (7.5 GB) nipping at Boston’s heels and Oakland and Texas deadlocked atop the West, the AL playoff picture still hasn’t come into focus.

NL Central Race:

This is the most top-heavy division in baseball and, outside of the AL East, is probably the toughest division. This race includes the Reds, winners of two of the last three NL Central titles; the Cardinals, the longtime class of the division; and the Pirates, who have finished sub .500 every year since 1993. It appears safe to assume that all three teams will make the playoffs; however, things could look very different depending on how this final month unfolds. The two teams that fall short of the division will be relegated to the Wild Card Game, a one game winner-take-all situation. With each team posting over .620 winning percentages at home, home field advantage is critical. This becomes even more interesting when we consider that there are still 5 series of 16 total games to be played between the three division rivals.

By far, St. Louis has the easier remaining schedule, facing teams with a combined .490 winning percentage. On the other hand, Cincinnati (.501) and Pittsburgh (.500) both have a challenging final month. The Cardinals will play two series against the Pirates and two against the Reds, all coming between August 30 and September 8. The Pirates and Reds will have plenty of chances to knock off the Cardinals, but if St. Louis comes out of that critical stretch still in first place, then expect them to coast to the finish line.

Pitching will be critical down the stretch and these three ball clubs have three of the top five team ERA’s in baseball. The Pirates are No. 2 (3.20) ahead of the No.4 Reds (3.40) and No.5 Cardinals (3.51). Each team has a legitimate ace. The Pirates have gotten an excellent season from once washout pitchers AJ Burnett and Francisco Liriano, while seeing the young Jeff Locke develop into a reliable starter. In Adam Wainwright and Shelby Miller the Cardinals have the best 1-2 punch in the National League, short of the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. All five starters in the Cincinnati rotation have an ERA under 4.00. The Cardinals and Reds are very comfortable with their 9th inning situations as Aroldis Chapman and Eward Mujica have been two of the National League’s best closers in 2013. The Pirates will be at a disadvantage at the end of games as their All-Star closer Jason Grilli has been on the DL since injuring his arm on July 22. While Grilli should be back for the last few weeks on the season, he will miss the rest of the games against St. Louis.

Over the past two years the Pirates late season struggles have been well documented. Their September record in 2011 and 2012 was a dismal 17-37. On the other hand, the Cardinals are an impressive 33-20 over that span in September, while the Reds are stuck in the middle with a 27-25 record. The Pirates look to turn this around with the aggressive acquisition of Justin Morneau to bolster the offense.

Due to their overall experience, strong play at the end of the season, and easy schedule the Cardinals are the pick to win the NL Central. The Reds and Pirates will be neck and neck to see who gets home field advantage for the Wild Card Game, but the Pirates are in the best position to take the top Wild Card spot as they have played the most consistently all year long.

Division Winner: St. Louis Cardinals
#1 Wildcard: Cincinnati Reds
#2 Wildcard: Pittsburgh Pirates

AL Races:

Once again, the scrappy Athletics look to steal the division from the Texas Rangers. Moneyball appears to be working once again as the A’s are on pace for another 90-plus win season. While the A’s roster is filled with virtual unknowns, the Rangers are full of superstars, led by the dominant moundwork of Yu Darvish. Texas has a deep and talented pitching rotation with Darvish, Martin Perez, Derek Holland, and Alexi Orando all posting sub-4.00 ERAs. Additionally, the Texas bullpen has been nearly unhittable as they stand second in the AL in ERA (2.93), with hitters batting .234 against them. They also will lean on midseason acquisition Matt Garza. Adrian Beltre (.327, 28 HR , 82 RBI) may be the most underrated player in all of baseball. While Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus have struggled with consistency this season, they are proven players that boast a bevy of big game experience.

Oakland has remained resilient all season despite a less star-powered roster. Their offense has been extremely efficient, averaging a run scored every 7.5 at-bats and having five regulars posting over .330 OBP. However, the key for Oakland has been stellar pitching. Currently, they are third in the AL in ERA at 3.63. Oakland has relied on a number of starters; however, their ace, Bartolo Colon was activated from the DL on Aug. 29. Like Texas, the A’s also have a strong bullpen that has posted 40 saves and has held opponents to a .236 batting average. The teams will have control over their own destiny as the play each other six times in August.

After missing out on October baseball last season, Boston has been extremely proactive in adding veteran starter Jake Peavy and premium defender John McDonald talent via trade. While the Yankees have had a tremendous August, they still find themselves eight games back. Last year’s division champion Orioles are 7.5 games back as they have struggled with consistency at the closer position, while the Rays have dropped eight of their last 10 contests. The Red Sox can’t have a repeat of the 2011 meltdown because they have a division-heavy September schedule. Boston has six games against Baltimore, seven against New York, and three against Tampa Bay. John Farrell’s club, the AL’s second-best run scoring offense and fifth-best team ERA, are a confident and well-rounded group primed to take the East. The Rays are trending downward and the Orioles should be able to catch them to grab the second wildcard spot.

AL East Winner: Boston
AL West Winner: Oakland
Wildcard #1: Rangers
Wildcard #2: Orioles

2013 MLB Pennant Races
Post date: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 12:02