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Path: /college-football/referees-make-horrible-call-buffalo-ohio-game

Midweek MAC games are one of the more entertaining parts of college football’s November schedule. However, the Buffalo-Ohio game from Tuesday night won’t be remembered for a quality game between two potential bowl teams. Instead, awful officiating will overshadow Buffalo’s 30-3 win.

Early in the second half, Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton was pressured out of the pocket and threw a pass to avoid a sack, which resulted in an intentional grounding call. However, the referees ruled Tettleton was in the endzone, and Buffalo was awarded a safety.

But there’s only one problem: Tettleton wasn’t in the endzone – he was on the four-yard line.


Post date: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Golf, Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/tiger-woods-just-hit-golf-ball-europe-asia-video
Tiger Woods was positioned on a platform on the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul on Tuesday and hit a drive from Europe to Asia. Why? We're guessing it was to promote the Turkish Airlines Open this week. The publicity stunt required shutting down three lanes of traffic on the bridge. We're sure motorists were thrilled. According to reports, Woods' appearance fee for the upcoming tournament is $3 million. 

Tiger Woods was positioned on a platform on the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul on Tuesday and hit a drive from Europe to Asia.
Post date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 18:50
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-picks-every-game-week-10

A quick look at every game on the NFL schedule for Week 10, along with the consensus picks of Athlon Sports' editors.

Redskins (3-5) at Vikings (1-7)
Washington is 1–3 on the road this season. But the losses have come at Green Bay (38–20), at Dallas (31–16) and at Denver (45–21). Redskins by 1

Eagles (4-5) at Packers (5-3)
Philly’s Nick Foles just threw seven TDs; Green Bay’s Seneca Wallace has six career wins. Packers by 3

Jaguars (0-8) at Titans (4-4)
Third-year Tennessee coach Mike Munchak has two black-eye losses — to then-winless Indy in Week 15 of 2011 and to then-one-win J-Ville in Week 12 last season. Titans by 12

Bills (3-6) at Steelers (2-6)
Blitz-burgh’s defense has allowed 34-plus points in three games for the first time since 1989. Steelers by 3

Raiders (3-5) at Giants (2-6)
Terrelle Pryor (knee), Darren McFadden (hamstring) limp from Black Hole to play Big Blue. Giants by 5

Rams (3-6) at Colts (6-2)
Andrew Luck carries a 10–2 record at home in Lucas Oil Stadium against a Rams team that is 4–7–1 on the road under coach Jeff Fisher. Colts by 8

Seahawks (8-1) at Falcons (2-6)
This is a rematch of a 30–28 Atlanta win over Seattle in last year’s NFC Divisional Playoffs. Seahawks by 8

Bengals (6-3) at Ravens (3-5)
Andy Dalton is 1–3 against Baltimore, with his only win coming in a meaningless Week 17 game last season, after the Ravens had already clinched the AFC North division crown. Bengals by 2

Lions (5-3) at Bears (5-3)
Detroit knocked off Chicago, 40–32, in Week 4. The Lions scored 27 second-quarter points — including three TDs in under four minutes — in their first win over the Bears since Oct. 2011. Lions by 4

Panthers (5-3) at 49ers (6-2)
This dual-threat showdown of Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick just might be the most athletic QB matchup in NFL history. There should be a dunk contest as a tiebreaker, not overtime. 49ers by 4

Texans (2-6) at Cardinals (4-4)
After two tough losses at K.C. and to Indy, the legend of Case Keenum continues to grow. Cardinals by 2

Broncos (7-1) at Chargers (4-4)
Peyton Manning had no trouble with the Bolts last season, tossing six TDs and two INTs over the course of two victories. Historically, Manning has had his issues with San Diego — throwing a career-worst six INTs in a 2007 loss and going 0–2 against the Chargers in the playoffs. Broncos by 7

Cowboys (5-4) at Saints (6-2)
Sean Payton was Tony Romo’s QB coach from 2003-05. Will student become teacher in NOLA? Saints by 6

Dolphins (4-4) at Buccaneers (0-8)
There is a dark cloud over the Sunshine State’s NFL franchises. The trio — Fins, Bucs and Jags — are a combined 4–20, with two winless squads and an ongoing bullying investigation. Dolphins by 4

A preview and prediction of every game on the NFL schedule in Week 10.
Post date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 18:17
Path: /nfl/aaron-rodgers-injured-collarbone-hurts-packers-playoff-chances

In the wake of Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone injury suffered during a 27–20 Green Bay Packers loss to the NFC North rival Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, there are several Vince Lombardi quotes that come to mind and could be used as inspiration for Title Town.

“The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall,” the Packers’ iconic coach famously said. That advice certainly fits. Although, since Rodgers took over for Brett Favre as Green Bay’s starter in 2008, Cheesehead fans have not had to double-check Rodgers’ status. The 2011 league MVP and Super Bowl XLV MVP has missed only two games. After suffering a concussion the game before, Rodgers missed a Week 15 contest at New England in 2010. And in 2011, Rodgers sat out the Week 17 season-finale against Detroit, watching backup Matt Flynn set franchise records with 480 yards and six TDs.

“The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have,” Lombardi reminded his players more than once during his Hall of Fame career, which included two Super Bowl wins and six NFL titles with the Packers.

What Green Bay has at quarterback currently is Seneca Wallace, a 5'11", 205-pound, 33-year-old with 31 TDs and 19 INTs over 10 years out of Iowa State. Wallace completed 11-of-19 passes for 114 yards and one INT subbing for Rodgers against the Bears.

The Packers have several other options who are familiar with coach Mike McCarthy’s offense. Flynn, who backed up Rodgers for four seasons from 2008-11, was released by the Buffalo Bills on Monday. Meanwhile, Vince Young, Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman all spent time with Green Bay during the preseason.

“I’m focused on Seneca Wallace right now,” said McCarthy, during a postgame press conference following the loss to Chicago.

Regardless of who lines up under center, he won’t be as good as Rodgers — who completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 2,218 yards, 15 TDs and only four INTs for a 108.0 passer rating prior to landing on his non-throwing left shoulder while being taken to the ground by Bears defensive end Shea McClellin.

“Aaron is a huge part of our offense,” said McCarthy. “This is something that was built over time. Aaron is the centerpiece.”

With a 5–3 record, including a 2–1 mark within the NFC North division, the Packers are still alive in the playoff picture. But with seven games left against NFC opponents, including three divisional contests, the window of opportunity could slam shut unless Green Bay follows its greatest coach’s mantra: “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

Will Green Bay remain a contender without Aaron Rodgers?
Post date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 17:35
Path: /nascar/nascar-numbers-game-6-amazing-stats-phoenix

Phoenix International Raceway means a lot of things to Denny Hamlin. The facility was the site of the beginning of the end to his ill-fated 2010 Chase run. Following its 2011 repave, Hamlin became the track’s most dominant driver and a winner in 2012. The track also served as an ancillary character in one the most puzzling penalties in recent NASCAR history, which involved Hamlin.

In Hamlin’s season filled with backache (injury) and heartbreak (missing the Chase), Phoenix might again be home to another eventful day in the life of the No. 11’s driver. If there is any place that might ensure a continuation of Hamlin’s one win-per-year streak (going on eight seasons now), it’s the track that pops up in the background of his career’s main plot lines.

7.313  Hamlin ranks first among all Cup drivers in Production in Equal Equipment Ratings (PEER) in the four races on Phoenix’s reinvigorated surface.

Hamlin’s 4.5-place average finish — he is the only driver to score three top-5 finishes — over the four-race span is over three positions better, on average, the next-most productive racer (Carl Edwards, 7.8-place average finish). In a twist of irony, the place that derailed a promising run to the title is now one of his best tracks. Unfortunately, that isn’t the only bit of irony surrounding the Hamlin-Phoenix dynamic.

58.62%  In March’s race at Phoenix, Hamlin accumulated a 58.62 percent passing efficiency — his best single-race passing performance of the season — en route to a third-place finish.

How ironic that Hamlin got fined by NASCAR for criticizing the Gen-6, namely its inability to pass, following his most prolific passing day of 2013.

“Right now, you just run single-file and you cannot get around the guy in front of you,” said Hamlin in the post-race interview. “You would’ve placed me in 20th place with 30 (laps) to go, I would have stayed there — I wouldn’t have moved up. It’s just one of those things where track position is everything.”

Whether a driver feels that passing is more difficult is a subjective measure, but it should be noted that Hamlin (44.47 percent) ranks 47th out of 51 PEER-eligible drivers in season-long pass efficiency. His opinion might not be universal.

+5  Greg Biffle’s five positions gained from the non-preferred groove was the March race’s most spellbinding number.

At Phoenix, the outside groove is no-man’s land, which made Biffle’s perfect position retention across five restart attempts in that groove pretty spectacular. He led 39 laps in that race before finishing 17th, but overall, he is a top-six producer at Phoenix with an apparent affinity for conquering positions from the track’s nether region. This knack of his didn’t coalesce with his output at other tracks this year; he ranked 18th in restart position retention during the 26-race regular season, defending his spot just 41.3 percent of the time.

85.29% and +9.8%  The No. 17 team of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. retains its position at a race’s 90-percent mark 85.29 percent of the time. It gains positions on top of that 9.8 percent of the time.  Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick

Stenhouse, a rookie driver, and Scott Graves, a rookie crew chief, have combined this season to be the best two-way closing team in the Cup Series. Who knew? Their penchant for exemplary defense and offense at the end of races is a foundation on which the No. 17 team can build in the post-Matt Kenseth era. They return to a track this weekend that helped start the reputation; in the March race at Phoenix, Stenhouse moved from 20th to 16th in the final 31 laps.

9th  Jeff Burton and the No. 31 team, with its revolving door of crew chiefs, has a clean average finish of ninth in the three Phoenix races it’s finished dating back to the fall 2011 race.

Deep into the winter of his career, Burton’s overall production is far removed from the halcyon seasons of the late 1990s; however, the mile-long whatsitsshape at Phoenix seems to bring out the best in this current iteration of Burton. He ranks ninth in PEER there over the last four races and his success despite the pit box changes — NASCAR Nationwide Series wrench Ernie Cope filled in for an absent Luke Lambert in March — tells us that he carves out results based on old-fashioned driver know-how. For fans pining for a few more good Burton outings, Sunday’s race might provide one last great opportunity.

11.5  Jamie McMurray’s average finish in this year’s Chase races, prior to last Sunday’s race, was 11.5, the best mark among non-Chase drivers.  Jamie McMurray

His No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team finished 31st at Texas, breaking up an otherwise stout string of races, which included a win at Talladega. Phoenix provides a challenge for him. Going by his 24.8-place average finish there (he is tied for last in track-specific PEER rankings), it’s safe to say he is flummoxed by the place. His best finish on the new version of Phoenix is 17th, which means the job for crew chief Bono Manion, who is reportedly being relieved of his duties after this season, won’t be easy. To continue a swell close to the 2013 season, McMurray and team will need to have a breakthrough race at a place that has provided them massive migraines across the last three seasons.

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

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

Photos by Action Sports, Inc.

David Smith crunches the numbers for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Post date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 17:22
Path: /nfl/prime-time-players-week-9

Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
Just when it seemed as if Tom Terrific had hit rock bottom — with Halloween photos of him dressed as the Wizard of Oz’s Cowardly Lion circulating the internet — Brady rediscovered the heart he’s had all along. The three-time Super Bowl champion completed 23-of-33 passes (69.7 percent) for 432 yards, four TDs and zero INTs for a 151.8 passer rating during a 55–31 statement victory over the Steelers. New England’s 55 points were the most scored by a team this season as well as the most ever scored against Pittsburgh’s defense.

Nick Foles, QB, Eagles
Philadelphia’s second-year phenom joined gridiron immortals Sid Luckman, Adrian Burk, George Blanda, Y.A. Tittle, Joe Kapp and Peyton Manning, as only the seventh player in league history to throw seven TD passes in a single game. Foles completed 22-of-28 passes (78.6 percent) for 406 yards, seven scoring strikes and zero picks for a 158.3 passer rating during a 49–20 win at Oakland. Wide receivers Riley Cooper (three TDs) and DeSean Jackson, tight ends Brent Celek and Zach Ertz, and running back LeSean McCoy all found paydirt in the record-tying blowout victory. Foles, who was a third-round pick out of Arizona, has now thrown for 1,028 yards, 13 TDs and zero INTs for a 127.4 passer rating in limited action.

Dustin Colquitt, P, Chiefs
With Kansas City’s offense struggling to gain just 210 total yards, the Chiefs’ defense and special teams stepped up to help K.C. improve to an unbeaten 9–0 following a 23–13 win on the road at Buffalo. Colquitt kept field position in Kansas City’s favor, with six punts for 317 yards, including a 59-yard boot and four punts downed inside the 20-yard-line. Colquitt’s contribution was less obvious than the Chiefs D, which scored on a 100-yard pick-six by corner Sean Smith and an 11-yard fumble recovery by linebacker Tamba Hali.

Cameron Wake, DE, Dolphins
Days before Miami was rocked with verbal abuse allegations made by Jonathan Martin against fellow O-lineman Richie Incognito, the Dolphins’ D-lineman was physically abusing the Bengals during a 22–20 thrilling Thursday night overtime victory. Wake notched a season-high three sacks for 23 lost yards, along with one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Wake’s final sack of Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton sealed the Miami win with a safety with just 6:38 remaining in overtime. The walk-off sack was just the third overtime-ending safety in NFL history.

The best performances in the NFL from Week 9.
Post date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 17:12
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-college-football-podcast-week-11

The Thursday we’ve all be waiting for is here as Oregon visits Stanford and Oklahoma visits Baylor. On this week’s edition of the Cover 2, hosts Braden Gall and David Fox prepare you for Thursday plus action for Saturday.

On this week’s podcast:

• In a a quick review of last week, Braden was impressed with exciting finishes in the Big Ten, but David is still fuming at a decision to put by Iowa.

• We take one quick look at the “Jameis Winston is human” storyline, focusing on Florida State’s outstanding offensive line. FSU’s biggest concerns remains the lack of help the Seminoles will get from Florida, Miami and Virginia Tech and others.

• On to Thursday: David is worried Oregon will run away with this meeting while Braden has more faith in the Stanford defense.

• In Waco, Oklahoma will try to keep Baylor off the field, but both hosts agree it may not matter against Bryce Petty.

• Moving on to LSU-Alabama, will this be the hotly contested matchup we’ve come to expect or is LSU not ready to go to toe-to-toe with the Tide?

• Lastly, Gall and Fox take a quick look off the field at the new athletic hire at Texas and why the job is more than just making decisions around the football coach.

The podcast can be found on, iTunes and our podcast RSS feed.

Please send any comments, questions and podcast topics to @AthlonSports, @BradenGall and @DavidFox615 on Twitter.


Athlon Sports Cover 2 College Football Podcast: Week 11
Post date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 15:51
Path: /college-football/north-carolina-qb-bryn-renner-out-remainder-2013

North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner suffered a shoulder injury against NC State and will miss the rest of the 2013 season.

Renner threw for 1,765 yards and 10 touchdowns this season and completed 65.8 percent of his throws.

Losing Renner is a setback to North Carolina’s bowl hopes, but the cupboard isn’t bare for coach Larry Fedora. Backup Marquise Williams started against Virginia Tech earlier this year and completed 23 of 35 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns.

Williams may not be as polished of a passer as Renner, but the sophomore is a better runner and is a good fit in Fedora’s spread offense.

With Renner out for the year, it’s up to Williams to get North Carolina to a bowl, which isn’t out of the question with games against Virginia, Pittsburgh, Old Dominion and Duke remaining. 

North Carolina QB Bryn Renner Out for Remainder of 2013
Post date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 13:09
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas Longhorns, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/texas-hires-steve-patterson-its-new-athletic-director

According to several media reports, Texas is set to hire Arizona State’s Steve Patterson as its next athletic director. Patterson graduated from Texas’ Law School in 1984 and edged West Virginia’s Oliver Luck for the job.

Patterson will replace DeLoss Dodds, who is set to retire in August 2014. At Arizona State, Patterson has helped to start a project for renovating Sun Devil Stadium and signed coach Todd Graham to an extension in early September.

Patterson was hired as Arizona State’s athletic director on March 28, 2012. 

Patterson has experience in several different areas, including stints with the Texans (1997-2003) and in the NBA with the Rockets (1989-93) and in Portland (2003-07).

Although he has been successful at each stop, Patterson did not hire Graham at Arizona State and this will be his first experience hiring a collegiate coach. Considering Texas is the top job in the nation, Patterson should not have a shortage of interested candidates - provided Mack Brown does not return in 2013.

Texas Hires Steve Patterson as its New Athletic Director
Post date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 12:56
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/5-waiver-wire-pickups-replace-injured-aaron-rodgers

For many a fantasy owner, time probably stood still on Monday night when Aaron Rodgers hit the Lambeau Field turf hard after being sacked by Chicago’s Shea McCllelin. No doubt many a game was lost or won, depending on which side you were on, because of that one play.

Unfortunately, the news hasn’t gotten better. Rodgers didn’t return to the game and the early prognosis is that he will miss at least three weeks because of a small break in his collarbone. Green Bay has already had its bye week, so any time Rodgers misses will mean games.

So what is a Rodgers owner to do? There’s always the trade route, but here are some names that could be available on your league’s waiver wire that could help you survive the next three weeks. Besides, you’re really not going to start Seneca Wallace or whomever else the Packers bring in (Matt Flynn? Vince Young?) are you?

Eli Manning, New York Giants
Very few things have gone right for Manning and the Giants this season, but now may be the ideal time to get back on the bandwagon, at least fantasy-wise. After throwing at least one interception in his first six games, all losses, Manning has not tossed a pick in the past two, both wins. The Giants come off of the bye, hopefully rested and healthy, and are expected to get running back Andre Brown back. Then there’s the schedule. The rest of the way, the Giants face one team (Seattle) whose pass defense is not ranked in the bottom half of the league. Of those remaining seven games, six are against teams that are 24th or lower in the NFL when it comes to defending the pass, starting with a Oakland defense that just gave up 406 yards and seven touchdown passes to Nick Foles. If there ever was a time to buy low on a guy whose thrown for more than 3,900 yards and at least 26 touchdowns in each of the past four seasons, this could be it.

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Big Ben is sixth in the NFL in passing yards at 291 per game, so you know he is going to get to throw it. He is coming off of a 400-yard effort against the Patriots and if anything the Steelers’ struggling defense could actually help increase Roethlisberger’s value. He has thrown 45 or more passes in three of the past five games. The one constant in those games – his team has been trailing. The biggest downside to Roethlisberger’s numbers so far has been a lack of touchdowns. He has just 12 passing and none on the ground. If he could find a way to pick up the pace in that category, he could be in line for a strong second half. Pittsburgh’s next four games are against Buffalo, Detroit, at Cleveland and at Baltimore. The Browns are the only team ranked in the top 10 in the league in passing defense and all four are among the top 18 in terms of fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks.

Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Cutler and Rodgers are similar in that both have been injured this season. Cutler sustained a groin injury in the Bears’ Week 7 loss to Washington. The initial prognosis is that he would be out anywhere between three to four weeks, but Cutler is planning on practicing this week in hopes of returning to the lineup this Sunday against Detroit. Cutler definitely comes with a degree of risk and uncertainty, but he has been fairly productive in new head coach Marc Trestman’s offense, throwing for 12 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. He may not sling it all over the field as in years past, but he has deadly weapons to throw to and the potential for big numbers clearly exists. The Bears’ upcoming schedule doesn’t look all that imposing either, as St. Louis is the only top-10 passing defense Cutler would face from now until Week 15 (Cleveland).

Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Foles is not a new discovery by any stretch, but any time someone ties the NFL single-game record for touchdown passes, it’s worth taking notice. After missing a game due to a concussion, Foles was one gigantic headache for Oakland on Sunday, passing for 406 yards and seven touchdowns, which tied the single-game record. Foles had more touchdowns than incompletions (six) and did all of this damage in three quarters. While I’m not saying that Foles is the second coming of Peyton Manning, he does have two things going in his favor. First, with Michael Vick nursing a hamstring injury, it appears Foles’ hold on the starting job is secure for the time being. Secondly, the Eagles’ next two games are against Green Bay and Washington, two teams that rank among the top 11 in terms of fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks.

Case Keenum, Houston Texans
The Texans didn’t win on Sunday night, but Keenum certainly did his part. Making his second career NFL start, the former University of Houston gunslinger took center stage on NBC by throwing for 350 yards and three touchdowns and energizing the Texans offense and home crowd in the process. In two games, Keenum has yet to throw an interception, which is one of the main reasons why Matt Schaub lost the starting job, and has re-introduced the vertical passing game into the Texans’ offense. Keenum averaged 10.4 yards per completion against the Colts and leaned heavily on his All-Pro target, Andre Johnson (9-229-3). With the Texans sitting at 2-6 and Schaub’s future with the team up in the air, Keenum figures to get more chances to show the team if he’s the potential long-term solution at quarterback or not.

5 Waiver Wire Pickups to Replace Injured Aaron Rodgers
Post date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 12:33
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-november-5-2013

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


Kate Upton went to Melbourne for a horse racing event and looked like this. Y'all let me know if you get tired of Kate Upton. Otherwise, I'll keep the Kate links coming.


Enjoy this "Sorry Your Team Lost" Week 9 NFL roundup. Unless your team lost. Then we're sorry.


If looks could kill, Chris Paul would be pushing up daisies courtesy of Francisco Garcia.


Terrell Davis rode in a fighter jet and passed out, much to the amusement of John Elway. Note to Elway: TD got you your two rings. Cut the guy a break, why don't you.


• Just when the Red Sox couldn't get any more annoying, they do this.


• Does it seem to you that kickers are getting insanely good? You're not wrong.


Kentucky's James Young scored an amazing own goal in the Cats' exhibition win over Montevallo. No look. Behind the back. Two points. For Montevallo.


• So, in the wake of this Richie Incognito mess, is it time for the NFL to join the U.S. military in implementing an anti-hazing policy? Some think so. Especially when it gets into outright theft.


• This is kind of brilliant. Enjoy this video of 2010 Stanford-Oregon highlights with Alex Trebek clips providing the narration.


So what were the weekend takeaways from the action in the SEC? One takeaway: Georgia needs Todd Gurley.


World Series highlights using toys (OYOs, not Legos, if you're wondering).


• Enjoy this epic hockey coach meltdown. Spoiler alert: He rips sticks out of his players' hands and hurls them onto the ice.




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

Post date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 10:37
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Florida Gators, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/should-floridas-will-muschamp-be-hot-seat

Life in the SEC is a challenge for any coach, and that's especially true when it comes to Florida's Will Muschamp. The SEC is the No. 1 college football conference, and there’s more pressure to perform at a higher level than anywhere in the nation.

Muschamp is an interesting case study. The third-year coach entered 2013 with an 18-8 record.

In Muschamp’s first season, the Gators went 7-6 and failed to beat a team with a winning mark. However, Florida rebounded back into the national title picture last season, recording 11 victories, including seven in SEC play.

Injuries have ravaged the Florida lineup in 2013, with quarterback Jeff Driskel, running back Matt Jones and defensive tackle Dominique Easley all suffering season-ending injuries.

Even though Muschamp is one year removed from an 11-2 record, should already be on the hot seat?

Should Florida's Will Muschamp be on the Hot Seat?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Is Will Muschamp in any danger of losing his job this offseason? No. But if Florida finishes 2013 at 6-7 or 7-6, he will head into next season on shaky ground. Injuries have played a large role in the Gators’ struggles this season, which is why Muschamp gets somewhat of a pass for this year. Perhaps what’s most puzzling about Florida is the talent on offense. According to 247Sports, the Gators had top-five recruiting classes in 2012 and 2013 and ranked No. 11 overall in 2011. This team has struggled mightily on offense since leading the SEC in yards per game (457.9) in 2009. Florida has ranked 10th or worse in the SEC in total offense in each of the last four years, including last in the conference in 2013. Why hasn’t the talent on offense developed? Even though Muschamp wants to build a team on defense and running the ball, the Gators aren’t getting it done, and the blame has to fall on the coaching staff. Offensive assistants Brent Pease (coordinator) and Tim Davis (line coach) have received the most criticism, and both could be coaching for their job in the final month of the season. The lack of talent development on offense is baffling for a program that recruits at such a high level, and Muschamp’s tenure in Gainesville could hinge on fixing that unit this offseason.

Mark Ross
From a share of the SEC East division title to the hot seat in less than a year? Such is life in the nation's toughest football conference, especially if you are the head coach at a school used to competing not only for conference tiles, but national ones too. Gator fans no doubt are not enjoying watching their team struggle while former head coach Urban Meyer is in the midst of a 21-game winning streak at Ohio State. In Muschamp's defense, he doesn't have Braxton Miller as his quarterback (or even Kenny Guiton for that matter), as Jeff Driskel was lost for the season after just three games. The defense also has suffered some key injuries and the end result is a Florida team that is at .500 entering November. Bowl eligibility shouldn't be a problem, not with games against Georgia Southern and Vanderbilt remaining, but Muschamp really could use a win against South Carolina or in-state rival Florida State to take some of the pressure off of him. I don't think Muschamp should be on the hot seat, not with all of the injuries he's had to deal with this season, but it's never a good thing when Gator fans start referring to you as "Ron Zook 2.0" either.

Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
Right now, no. Will Muschamp is only a year removed from winning 11 games at Florida and coming close to winning the SEC East. Muschamp’s SEC record (13-9) doesn’t look good, especially when it’s compared to Ron Zook’s (16-8) record during his three seasons in Gainesville. Overall, Muschamp hasn’t had enough success. But the results in 2012 show he can win at a high level at Florida. The Gators have been tormented by injuries this season, which have kept Florida from being able to compete with the best teams in the conference. The roster just isn’t good enough right now with so many players missing. But there won’t be any excuses next season. Muschamp will go through the offseason on every hot seat list in the country. He will be expected to have it all turned around by next year. If he doesn’t, the hot seat talk will be more than fair.

Should Florida's Will Muschamp be on the Hot Seat?
Post date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 07:45
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football waiver wire, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-waiver-wire-week-10

The bulk of the byes are over with as we enter Week 10, but they will remain a factor for a little longer. This week Cleveland, Kansas City, New England and the New York Jets are on bye, which means just as soon as the Patriots finally get their offense going, they take a week off. Have no fear though, as the NFL’s record-holder for touchdown passes in a game, a two-time Super Bowl MVP, and a few Texans are among those who may be available if you’re looking for some help this week.

The players listed in Athlon Sports’ weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding onto all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may want to keep an eye on. So without further ado, here are some players you may want to consider.

Teams on bye in Week 10: Cleveland, Kansas City, New England, New York Jets

Week 9 Recap: Alex Smith certainly didn’t fill up the box score (124 yards passing, 7 yards rushing), but his Chiefs are the NFL’s lone undefeated team at 9-0 and get a well-deserved break this week.

Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Foles is not a new discovery by any stretch, but any time someone ties the NFL single-game record for touchdown passes, it’s worth taking notice. After missing a game due to a concussion, Foles was one gigantic headache for Oakland on Sunday, passing for 406 yards and seven touchdowns, which tied the single-game record. Foles had more touchdowns than incompletions (six) and did all of this damage in three quarters. While I’m not saying that Foles is the second coming of Peyton Manning, he does have two things going in his favor. First, with Michael Vick nursing a hamstring injury, it appears Foles’ hold on the starting job is secure for the time being. Secondly, the Eagles’ next two games are against Green Bay and Washington, two teams that rank among the top 11 in terms of fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks.

Case Keenum, Houston Texans
The Texans didn’t win on Sunday night, but Keenum certainly did his part. Making his second career NFL start, the former University of Houston gunslinger took center stage on NBC by throwing for 350 yards and three touchdowns and energizing the Texans offense and home crowd in the process. In two games, Keenum has yet to throw an interception, which is one of the main reasons why Matt Schaub lost the starting job, and has re-introduced the vertical passing game into the Texans’ offense. Keenum averaged 10.4 yards per completion against the Colts and leaned heavily on his All-Pro target, Andre Johnson (9-229-3). With the Texans sitting at 2-6 and Schaub’s future with the team up in the air, Keenum figures to get more chances to show the team if he’s the potential long-term solution at quarterback or not.

Eli Manning, New York Giants
Very few things have gone right for Manning and the Giants this season, but now may be the ideal time to get back on the bandwagon, at least fantasy-wise. After throwing at least one interception in his first six games, all losses, Manning has not tossed a pick in the past two, both wins. The Giants come off of the bye, hopefully rested and healthy, and are expected to get running back Andre Brown back. Then there’s the schedule. The rest of the way, the Giants face one team (Seattle) whose pass defense is not ranked in the bottom half of the league. Of those remaining seven games, six are against teams that are 24th or lower in the NFL when it comes to defending the pass, starting with a Oakland defense that just gave up 406 yards and seven touchdown passes to Nick Foles. If there ever was a time to buy low on a guy whose thrown for more than 3,900 yards and at least 26 touchdowns in each of the past four seasons, this could be it.

Running Backs
Week 9 Recap: Chris Johnson was the man for the Titans (150 yards rushing, 2 TDs), against the Rams, but Shonn Greene also got nine carries and was busy around the goal line (5-yard TD). Jonathan Stewart made his season debut and led the Panthers in rushing (43 yards) despite getting fewer carries than DeAngeio Williams (9 to 13). Stewart also caught three passes on three targets, making him a viable flex option from here out. The Giants’ Andre Brown is expected to play in his first game since breaking his leg in the preseason and should get plenty of opportunities against the Raiders. Arizona rookie Andre Ellington was on bye last week, but the memory of his 154-yard rushing effort in Week 8 against Atlanta certainly still lingers and should mean a similar number of touches this week even if Rashard Mendenhall returns (toe).

Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
This may be a stretch since Ingram has a grand total of 50 yards rushing this season, but some of this can be attributed to injury. Ingram picked up 19 yards on four carries on Sunday against the Jets in his first action since Week 2. The Saints ran the ball a total of 13 times against the Jets, so game plan played a role in Ingram’s workload as well. Ingram could be in line for more touches this week against Dallas because Darren Sproles sustained a concussion in the first quarter on Sunday. If Sproles isn’t cleared in time to play this week, Ingram and Pierre Thomas figure to be the most active running backs for the Saints. Dallas is allowing 114 yards rushing per game, so this may be just the opportunity Ingram’s been waiting for to get himself back on the fantasy radar.

Rashad Jennings, Oakland Raiders
Darren McFadden is hurt, again, and Jennings took full advantage of the extra touches on Sunday. Even though the Raiders were blown out by the Eagles, Jennings finished the game with 102 yards rushing and a touchdown on 15 carries (6.8 ypc) and added 74 yards receiving on seven catches. McFadden re-aggravated an earlier hamstring injury, so there’s a good chance he could miss several games. Jennings would replace McFadden as the starter, which immediately makes him one of the most popular potential free agents this week.

Ben Tate, Houston Texans
Despite playing with four broken ribs, Tate rushed for 81 yards on 22 carries against Indianapolis on Sunday night. He got so many carries because Arian Foster, who was questionable entering this game with a hamstring injury, left after suffering a back injury in the Texans’ first offensive series and did not return. With Foster’s availability for this week clearly in question, Tate figures to get the bulk of the carries, as long as his ribs don’t get worse. Dennis Johnson is also someone to keep an eye on, as the undrafted rookie who was among the Texans’ final preseason cuts before re-signing with them last week, picked up 36 yards on eight carries. If Foster’s injuries result him in missing a game or two, Johnson could become Tate’s handcuff, just as Tate is to a healthy Foster.

Wide Receivers
Week 9 Recap: Emmanuel Sanders led the Steelers in both targets (11) and receiving yards (98) in the shootout loss in New England. Kenny Stills was held in check by the Jets, as he posted three receptions for a modest 35 yards. In that same game, David Nelson, who is dealing with a quad injury, hauled in one pass for 19 yards, as the Jets relied heavily on the run in their win over the Saints. The Chiefs’ passing offense was a non-factor in Sunday’s win in Buffalo, as Dexter McCluster caught two passes for a total of nine yards and went for negative four yards on one carry.

Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks
Sidney Rice is out for the rest of the season, so someone needs to step up to help Golden Tate in the passing game. The Seahawks should get Percy Harvin back at some point, but he recently suffered a setback in his return from hip surgery, which only further muddies his timetable. That leaves Baldwin, who on Sunday led the team with six catches for 75 yards and a touchdown in the Seahawks’ comeback win over Tampa Bay. Tate may be the de facto No. 1 wide receiver for Russell Wilson, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t enough passes to go around for Baldwin to provide some solid numbers of his own.

Mike Brown, Jacksonville Jaguars
Justin Blackmon has been suspended indefinitely for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, so someone else will need to line up opposite Cecil Shorts in the Jaguars’ offense. Brown has come on in recent weeks, as the second-year pro has posted 12 catches for 212 yards and a touchdown in the past three games. While Shorts will remain the Jags’ top target, the offense most likely will be throwing the ball quite a lot, as dictated by the likelihood they will be trailing many a game. The Jags are about to find out what (Mike) Brown can do for their team, will you do the same?

Riley Cooper, Philadelphia Eagles
Cooper had quite a game on Sunday, catching five passes for 139 yards and three touchdowns against Oakland. While that accounts for a majority of his season’s worth of production (25 rec., 453 yds., 5 TDs), one important detail should not be overlooked. In two games with Nick Foles as the starter, Cooper has recorded nine catches on 12 targets for 259 yards and four touchdowns. Granted it’s an extremely small sample size, but that type of production plays in fantasy so it may be worth giving Cooper a longer look if you are in need of rounding out your receiving corps. Especially if Foles remains the starter and can play like he did against the Raiders (406 yds., 7 TDs).

Mario Manningham, San Francisco 49ers
Manningham was activated from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list on Monday and should be see his first action this season against Carolina on Sunday. Manningham has been recovering from a torn ACL and PCL and could be just the boost the 49ers’ passing attack needs, especially with Michael Crabtree (torn Achilles) believed to still be a few weeks away from returning. Colin Kaepernick really needs another wide receiver other than Anquan Boldin to emerge, as the next most-targeted wideout on the 49ers is Kyle Williams with 25 (11 receptions). Manningham posted 42 receptions in 12 games last season with the 49ers, so it shouldn’t take him and Kaepernick too long to get reacquainted. You may want to do the same if you are looking for a proven wide receiver.

Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints
After missing three games because of a hand injury, Moore has returned and had an immediate impact in the Saints’ passing game. Moore has nine catches for 104 yards and a touchdown in the past two games and could be in line for more targets if Marques Colston’s knee injury lingers. Moore got off to a slow start this season with just four catches for 44 yards in the first three games, but he did have the hand injury and also has a track record of success with Drew Brees. He posted more than 1,000 yards receiving last season and has recorded six or more touchdown catches in four of the past five. Someone other than Jimmy Graham has to catch passes from Brees, right?

Tight Ends
Week 9 Recap: Garrett Graham caught four passes for 46 yards from Case Keenum in the Texans’ disheartening loss to the Colts on Sunday night.

Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams
Entering this season, expectations were that this could finally be the year that Cook breaks out and makes good on all his athletic ability and potential. Unfortunately, that has not transpired so far and to make matters worse, quarterback Sam Bradford is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. While Cook has been a major disappointment, he has shown some signs of progress recently. He has at least six targets in each of the past three games and his touchdown catch on Sunday against the Titans was his first since Week 1. Kellen Clemens, Bradford’s replacement at quarterback, isn’t likely to try and beat many teams deep, which should mean more opportunities for Cook in the middle of the field and on intermediate routes. With no Rob Gronkowski and Jordan Cameron in Week 10, Cook is at least worth a look if you need a fill-in tight end.

Defense/Special Teams
Week 9 Recap: Indianapolis had its hands full on Sunday night with Houston. Case Keenum threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns while the Colts’ defense managed just one sack in a hard-fought 27-24 win on the road. The Colts are back at home against St. Louis and backup quarterback Kellen Clemens this Sunday.

Miami Dolphins
Cameron Wake’s return to the starting lineup has seemingly re-energized the Dolphins’ defense. Wake had 3.5 sacks, forced and recovered a fumble and most important of all, was responsible for the walk-off safety that beat Cincinnati in overtime on Thursday night. Besides the five total sacks, the ‘Fins also picked Andy Dalton off three times, one of which was returned 94 yards for a touchdown. The Dolphins gave up a bunch of yards (465 total), but the defense still managed to put together a 24-point effort (Athlon scoring). Next up is a road trip to Tampa Bay to face a 0-8 Buccaneers team that is employing a second-string quarterback (Mike Glennon) and running back (Mike James) and has committed seven turnovers in four home games.

Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point PER 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.

Fantasy Football 2013 Waiver Wire: Week 10
Post date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 07:30
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-10-bowl-projections

With 10 weeks in the books, college football’s bowl picture is starting to clear.

The third release of the BCS standings saw another change at the top. Florida State passed Oregon for the No. 2 spot behind Alabama. However, if both teams win out, the Ducks should pass the Seminoles and play in the national championship.

For now, we project Oregon to edge Florida State for the No. 2 spot. However, there’s a month to play and upsets and changes at the top of the BCS standings will happen.

Even though teams like Texas A&M, LSU and Wisconsin are out of the national title picture, the next month of the season will be important for their hopes of earning an appearance as an at-large team in the BCS. The Badgers rank No. 24 in the latest BCS standings and should be favored to win their final four games. However, coach Gary Andersen’s team needs some help, especially with Clemson having an opportunity for a marquee win (and BCS positioning) against South Carolina in the season finale. Big Ten foe Michigan State is also in the mix for an at-large spot, with the Spartans improving to No. 17 in the BCS standings.

West Virginia worked its way back into the bowl projections after beating TCU on Saturday. With games against Kansas and Iowa State remaining, the Mountaineers should be able to get to six victories.

The bowl season doesn’t start until December, but with one month to go in the season, it's never too early to take a look at what the matchups might look like.

The post-Week 10 bowl projections are a mixture between projections for the next few weeks, how things would look if the season ended today, and the results from the first 10 weeks of action. Expect more changes over the next few weeks. With several teams projected to be right around the six-win mark, more at-large spots in bowls should open in the next month. 

A few teams barely missed the projections this week, including Maryland and Syracuse from BCS conferences. And Texas State, UTSA, Buffalo, Bowling Green, ULM, Arkansas State and Troy from the non-BCS ranks.

College Football's Post-Week 10 Bowl Projections for 2013

New MexicoDec. 21Pac-12 vs. MWCColo. State vs. Oregon State
Famous Idaho PotatoDec. 21MAC vs. MWCUNLV vs. Ball State
Las VegasDec. 21Pac-12 vs. MWCBoise State vs. USC
New OrleansDec. 21Sun Belt vs. CUSAUL Lafayette vs. Tulane
Beef 'O' Brady'sDec. 23American vs. CUSAOhio* vs. MTSU
HawaiiDec. 24MWC vs. CUSASJSU vs. Rice
Little Caesars PizzaDec. 26MAC vs. Big TenNo. Illinois vs. North Carolina*
PoinsettiaDec. 26Army vs. MWCSDSU vs. Utah*
MilitaryDec. 27CUSA vs. ACCE. Carolina vs. Boston College
TexasDec. 27Big 12 vs. Big TenK-State vs. Iowa
Fight HungerDec. 27BYU vs. Pac-12BYU vs. Arizona
PinstripeDec. 28American vs. Big 12Rutgers vs. West Virginia
BelkDec. 28American vs. ACCHouston vs. Duke
Russell AthleticDec. 28American vs. ACCLouisville vs. Miami
Buffalo Wild WingsDec. 28Big 12 vs. Big TenTexas vs. Nebraska
Armed ForcesDec. 30MWC vs. NavyNavy vs. Utah State
Music CityDec. 30ACC vs. SECGa. Tech vs. Ole Miss
AlamoDec. 30Big 12 vs. Pac-12Oklahoma State vs. UCLA
HolidayDec. 30Pac-12 vs. Big 12Arizona State vs. Texas Tech
AdvoCare V100Dec. 31ACC vs. SECPittsburgh vs. Vanderbilt
SunDec. 31Pac-12 vs. ACCVa. Tech vs. Washington
LibertyDec. 31SEC vs. CUSATennessee vs. Marshall
Chick-fil-ADec. 31SEC vs. ACCClemson vs. Auburn
GatorJan. 1SEC vs. Big TenGeorgia vs. Minnesota
Heart of DallasJan. 1Big Ten vs. CUSANorth Texas vs. Notre Dame*
OutbackJan. 1SEC vs. Big TenMichigan vs. Missouri
Capital OneJan. 1SEC vs. Big TenMich. State vs. S. Carolina
RoseJan. 1BCS vs. BCSOhio State vs. Stanford
FiestaJan. 1BCS vs. BCSFresno State vs. Baylor
SugarJan. 2BCS vs. BCSTexas A&M vs. UCF
CottonJan. 3SEC vs. Big 12LSU vs. Oklahoma
OrangeJan. 3BCS vs. BCSFlorida State vs. Wisconsin
BBVA CompassJan. 4SEC vs. AmericanFlorida vs. Cincinnati
GoDaddyJan. 5MAC vs. Sun BeltToledo vs. Western Kentucky
National TitleJan. 6BCS vs. BCSAlabama vs. Oregon

* Indicates conference is not expected to fill its alloted bowl slots, leaving an at-large spot available.

Bold indicates team has accepted bid to bowl.

Related College Football Content

ACC Post-Week 10 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 10 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 10 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 10 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 10 Power Rankings
College Football Week 10 Recap
Stats to Know from Week 10

College Football's Post-Week 10 Bowl Projections
Post date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 07:20
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/amazing-stats-nfls-week-9

Winning games and breaking records becomes secondary in short order when our loved one's health become a concern. So the most important stat from Week 9 in the NFL is that two NFL families — Denver and Houston — are focused on the health of their head coaches. The Broncos' John Fox will undergo heart valve replacement surgery and is expected to miss the rest of the regular season, at minimum. The Texans' Gary Kubiak had a scary episode at halftime of Sunday night's game with the Colts and was taken to the hospital. Both men are doing fine and should recover safely.

So no matter how important, interesting, historic and bizarre thet stats are from Week 9, two is the biggest number of the weekend. However, here are some others to consider:

7: Nick Foles' NFL single-game record TD passes
Seven also is the number of quarterbacks in NFL history who have ever thrown seven touchdown passes in a game. Foles was electric against the Raiders, throwing for 406 yards, those seven scoring strikes and only six incompletions in the 49-20 win over Oakland. And he played in just one series in the fourth quarter. Foles joins Sid Luckman (1943), Adrian Burk (1954), George Blanda (1961), Y.A. Tittle (1962), Joe Kapp (1969) and Peyton Manning (2013) as the only players in history to accomplish the 7-TD trick. So after 43 seasons without a single seven-touchdown game, the 2013 season has featured two such performances. Seven also is the same number of passing touchdowns the Raiders have through eight games this season.

3: Overtime NFL safeties
The Dolphins, who had lost four straight since a 3-0 start, were leading 17-3 late in the third quarter on Thursday night. Andy Dalton and the Bengals rallied to send the game into overtime tied at 20. With 6:38 left in the extra frame, star end Cameron Wake made the play of the season for the Fish when he sacked Dalton in the end zone to end the game with a walk-off safety. Wake finished with 5.0 tackles, 2.0 TFL and 3.0 sacks. It was just the third such overtime safety in NFL history. The Bears beat the Titans 19-17 in 2004 and the Vikings topped the Rams 23-21 in 1989. Dalton finished with 338 yards passing, his fourth consecutive and eighth career 300-yard effort.

55 and 610: Steelers franchise-record points and yards allowed
The depleted Patriots offense has struggled for most of the 2013 season. New England hadn’t scored more than 30 points in any game and had failed to reach 300 yards of offense in three of its last four. Yet, against a historically stingy Steelers defense, the Pats exploded for 55 points and 610 yards of offense. It was the most points and yards a Pittsburgh team had allowed in franchise history. The Steelers (2-6) haven’t been ranked outside of the Top 20 in points allowed in a season since 1991 when they gave up 21.5 per game. It is currently 23rd in scoring defense at 26.0 ppg. Since Dick LeBeau took over as defensive coordinator in 2004, the Steelers have finished outside of the top six in points allowed just twice — 11th in 2006 and 12th in '09.

22-4: Tony Romo's career record in November
The Cowboys got the ball with 2:44 left in the game, trailing Minnesota by three. Romo led a nine-play, 90-yard touchdown drive to defeat the Vikings. It was his 22nd career win in 26 career starts in the month of November — the best record for a quarterback in the Super Bowl era (min. 20 starts). He finished with 337 yards passing and two touchdowns in the critical, come-from-behind win. Romo is fifth in the NFL in passing with 2,553 yards and third in touchdown passes with 20, while no one has attempted more passes than his 346.

8-33: Record of teams the Panthers have defeated
Cam Newton and the Panthers are 5-3 and poised to compete for a playoff spot this fall. Yet, the Panthers have yet to beat a team with a winning record, as the five teams Carolina has defeated are a collective 8-33. Tampa Bay (0-8), Minnesota (1-7), Atlanta (2-6) and the Giants (2-6) have combined to win four games in 27 tries. Only the Rams have more than two wins this fall (3-6). The record of teams the Panthers have lost to is a much more impressive 15-11, but even then the Panthers have played only one team with a winning record all season (Seattle).

21: Largest point deficit Seattle has ever overcome
With just over two minutes left in the first half, the winless Buccaneers had a 21-0 lead on the road against Seattle — due in large part to one of the plays of the year. Russell Wilson wasn’t fazed, however, as he led five scoring drives over the final 32 minutes of play to give the Seahawks their largest comeback victory in franchise history. The win gave Seattle its first-ever 8-1 start to a season and was Wilson’s 12th win in 12 home games. He is one of four players since the 1970 merger to start a career with 12 consecutive home wins.

$13.2 million: Josh Freeman and Matt Flynn combined 2013 salaries
According to, Josh Freeman will count for $8.43 million towards Tampa Bay’s salary cap this season and $2.83 million towards Minnesota’s. Matt Flynn is hitting Oakland’s cap for $1.2 million and Buffalo’s for $715,000. Both were healthy and able to play for the Vikings and Bills this weekend but neither took a snap. Instead, Jeff Tuel started for the Bills and Christian Ponder started for the Vikings. Tuel was 18-of-39 for 229 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for a QBR of 16.8. Ponder was 25-of-37 for 236 yards, one touchdown, one interception, one fumble and was sacked twice. That’s over $13 million worth of healthy quarterbacks sitting on the bench. There is a reason the Bills and Vikings are a combined 4-13 this season. To make matters worse, the Bills released Flynn on Monday, which means the team's investment in him was for naught.

0-5: Rob Ryan’s record against twin brother Rex
Rob Ryan has been coaching in the NFL since 1994. His twin brother, Rex, started coaching in the NFL the same year. After two decades, one is the head coach of the Jets and the other is the defensive coordinator for the Saints. They met for the fifth time this weekend where the Jets used a 17-point second quarter and motivated ex-Saint Chris Ivory (18 att., 139 yards, TD) to upset the Saints on Sunday in the New Meadowlands. With the win, Rex Ryan remained unbeaten in five games against his twin brother and has his Jets squarely in the AFC wild-card hunt. New York has alternated wins and losses in each of the first nine games, and with a loss next week, would become the first team in NFL history to alternate wins and losses in the first 10 games of a season.

10: Career game-winning drives led by Andrew Luck
In just his 24th career game, Luck performed yet another second-half miracle. The Colts' signal-caller threw three touchdown passes to T.Y. Hilton over the final 15:05 of game time to erase an 18-point Texans lead to earn the divisional road victory and give Luck his 10th career game-winning drive. That is one game-winning drive every 2.4 games played and puts Luck on pace to shatter the NFL record in less than eight seasons. Let’s put his fourth-quarter heroics into perspective by looking at the NFL's all-time leaders in game-winning drives. These are literally the greatest to ever play the game — and Luck's pace is obliterating all of them:

1t.Peyton Manning232514.5
1t.Dan Marino240514.7
3.John Elway231465.0
4.Brett Favre298456.6
5.Tom Brady170394.4
6.Warren Moon203375.5
7.Fran Tarkenton239347.0
8t.Vinny Testaverde214336.5
8t.Joe Montana164334.9
10.Drew Brees177325.5
 Andrew Luck24102.4


Amazing Stats from the NFL's Week 9
Post date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-coach-hot-seat-rankings-post-week-10-edition

College football’s coach on the hot seat carousel took an odd turn last week, as FAU’s Carl Pelini resigned over illegal drug use. Pelini’s resignation was the fourth coaching change of 2013, and the first since Miami (Ohio) parted ways with Don Treadwell.

Pelini’s dismissal certainly won’t be the last opening of 2013, but the carousel has been surprisingly quiet. But with several high-profile jobs hanging in the balance, December could see several changes among BCS jobs.

Eastern Michigan’s Ron English ranks as the No. 1 coach in Athlon’s hot seat rankings after Week 10. English has perhaps the toughest job in college football, but the Eagles have failed to make much progress under his watch.

Virginia’s Mike London ranks as the top coach from a BCS conference in this week’s hot seat watch. London has received the vote of confidence from his athletic director, but can he survive a 2-10 record? The Cavaliers made a bowl and finished 8-5 in London’s second season (2011). However, Virginia is just 6-15 over the last two years and is likely headed for a 2-10 finish.

After a last-second Hail Mary touchdown pass to beat Northwestern, Nebraska’s Bo Pelini slides down the hot seat rankings this week. Was the win over the Wildcats enough to save Pelini’s job? It’s possible, but let’s consider the Cornhuskers’ remaining schedule: at Michigan, Michigan State, at Penn State and Iowa. Getting to 8-4 or 9-3 should be enough for Pelini to save his job. However, a 7-5 or 6-6 finish would spell trouble.

Each week, we will take a look at the hot seat/pressure on a program for all 125 coaches. Some new coaches will rank high due to poor performances but aren't in any danger of losing their job.

And another important note when reading our coach on the hot seat rankings: Outside of the top 10-15 coaches, it’s all about the pressure on a program. While some coaches – like Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen and Indiana's Kevin Wilson – aren’t in any danger of being fired. However, both coaches need to continue to show the program is headed in the right direction.

Ranking All 125 CFB Coaches on Hot Seat/Pressure on Program to Win in 2013

RkCoachTeam2013 RecordAnalysis
1Ron English1-8Only two wins over FBS teams in last two years.
2Mike London2-72-10 finish appears likely for Cavaliers.
3Charlie Weis2-6Jayhawks likely headed for winless Big 12 season.
4Norm Chow0-8Warriors have allowed at least 30 points in every game.
5Charley Molnar1-8Minutemen had no answer for Jordan Lynch.
6Ron Turner1-7 
7Tim Beckman3-5Fighting Illini's struggles in Big Ten play continue.
8Dan Enos3-5CMU has been off since Oct. 19.
9Bo Pelini6-2Hail Mary TD a job saver for Pelini?
10Todd Monken0-8 
11Garrick McGee2-6Blazers play Marshall and ECU in back-to-back games.
12Dana Holgorsen4-5Win over TCU was huge for bowl hopes.
13Kevin Wilson3-5Hoosiers need upset to play in a bowl.
14Bobby Hauck5-4 
15Doc Holliday5-3 
16Dave Christensen4-4Will defensive coordinator change help?
17Mack Brown6-2
18Skip Holtz3-5
19P.J. Fleck1-8
20Sean Kugler1-7
21Doug Martin1-8
22June Jones3-5 
23Dan Mullen4-4Five turnovers too much to overcome.
24Rich Ellerson3-6
25Bill Blankenship2-6 
26Randy Edsall5-3
27Will Muschamp4-4Will the Gators make a bowl game?
28Bob Davie2-6Davie needs time to rebuild at New Mexico.
29Paul Petrino1-8
30Paul Haynes2-8Disappointing year for Golden Flashes.
31Joey Jones3-5All five losses have been by a touchdown or less.
32Brian Polian3-6
33Troy Calhoun2-7
34Jim Grobe4-5WR Michael Campanaro a big loss for Wake.
35Kirk Ferentz5-4
36Bobby Petrino5-4 
37Rick Stockstill5-4 
38Jeff Quinn6-2
39Kyle Flood5-3Good rebound game by QB Gary Nova.
40Matt Rhule1-8Temple playing better in recent weeks.
41Rocky Long4-4
42Terry Bowden3-7Zips making slow progress under Bowden.
43Darrell Hazell1-7
44Tony Levine7-1
45Bret Bielema3-6
46Dave Doeren3-5
47Mike Leach4-5
48Trent Miles0-9GSU making progress in Miles' first season.
49Sonny Dykes1-8 
50Paul Chryst4-4Panthers have to protect QB Tom Savage better.
51Willie Taggart2-6Bulls have found a QB in Mike White.
52Bryan Harsin4-4Red Wolves still in mix for bowl.
53Jim McElwain4-5 
54Ron Caragher5-3
55Scott Shafer4-4Bowl hopes still alive with win over Wake Forest.
56David Bailiff6-3
57Brady Hoke6-2Wolverines simply dominated by Michigan State.
58Mark Stoops2-6 
59Dennis Franchoine6-3
60Justin Fuente1-6
61Larry Fedora3-5Tar Heels in good position to make bowl game.
62Matt Wells5-4 
63Paul Rhoads1-7
64Larry Blakeney5-4
65Paul Johnson6-3
66Steve Sarkisian5-3
67Frank Beamer6-3Hokies need win over Miami to stay in Coastal mix.
68Kyle Whittingham4-4
69Mark Richt5-3
70Butch Jones4-5
71Ruffin McNeill6-2
72George O'Leary6-1
73Frank Solich6-2
74Jerry Kill7-2Kill and Claeys have Golden Gophers on a roll.
75Ken Niumatalolo4-4
76Dabo Swinney8-1
77Mike MacIntyre3-5Buffaloes more competitive under MacIntyre.
78Tommy Tuberville6-2
79Dave Clawson5-3
80Dan McCarney6-3
81Curtis Johnson6-3
82Larry Coker4-5Coker doing a great job of building UTSA.
83Bob Stoops7-1
84Matt Campbell5-3
85Todd Berry5-4 
86Brian Kelly7-2
87Rod Carey9-0
88Mark Helfrich8-0
89Al Golden7-1
90Rich Rodriguez6-2
91Todd Graham6-2
92Jim Mora6-2
93Mike Riley6-3
94Bronco Mendenhall6-2
95Steve Addazio4-4
96Gary Pinkel8-1
97Les Miles7-2
98James Franklin4-4
99Mark Dantonio8-1
100Hugh Freeze5-3
101Tim DeRuyter8-0
102Gary Andersen6-2
103Gus Malzahn8-1
104Pat Fitzgerald4-5Injuries taking a toll on the Wildcats.
105Gary Patterson3-6
106David Cutcliffe6-2
107Mike Gundy7-1
108Pete Lembo8-1
109Mark Hudspeth6-2
110Bill O'Brien5-3
111Jimbo Fisher8-0
112Kevin Sumlin7-2
113Bill Snyder4-4Wildcats seem to be putting the pieces together.
114Charlie Strong7-1
115Steve Spurrier7-2
116Chris Petersen6-3
117David Shaw7-1
118Kliff Kingsbury7-2
119Art Briles7-0
120Urban Meyer9-0
121Nick Saban8-0
NREd Orgeron3-1
NRT.J. Weist0-3
NRMike Bath0-3
NRBrian Wright1-0FAU could finish 6-6 this year.

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College Football Week 10 Recap
Stats to Know from Week 10

College Football's Coach on the Hot Seat Rankings: Post-Week 10 Edition
Post date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/amazing-pac-12-college-football-stats-week-10

True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether it's a quarterback's completion percentage or a team's winning record on the road. We, however, love stats. With that in mind, we scoured the Pac-12 to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in Week 10.

10 Pac-12 Stats to Know

9: Stanford has handed Oregon its first loss of the season nine times
The big one is finally here: Oregon (8-0, 5-0) at Stanford (7-1, 5-1) Thursday night. Nine times since 1964 Stanford has given Oregon its first loss of the season. On two occasions, it was the Ducks’ only loss of the season — 2012 and 2001. Last year’s 17-14 overtime loss to the Cardinal ended a 13-game winning streak for the Ducks. The 2001 loss ended a 23-home game winning streak — the longest in the nation at that time.

293: Oregon’s Mariota has not thrown an interception since last Stanford meeting
Oregon quarterback and Heisman frontrunner Marcus Mariota has protected the ball better than any starting QB through the air this season. On the way to 2,281 yards passing with 20 touchdowns on 225 attempts, the junior has no interceptions this season. His last interception — a Pac-12 record 293 attempts ago — came 13 seconds before halftime of the last Stanford meeting. Mariota does arrive at Thursday’s game with two lost fumbles suffered Oct. 19 against Washington State — his first fumble in 79 attempts since losing one against USC last season. Stanford is tied for 95th in the nation with 11 turnovers gained.

1 and 0: Stanford downed Oregon three times in the 2000s with QBs making their first appearance against the Ducks; then lost the next year
The Cardinal has defeated Oregon three times this century, all with quarterbacks playing against the Ducks for the first time. In 2001 it was Chris Lewis, stepping in after Randy Fasani sprained his knee in the second quarter. Lewis threw for two touchdowns and 189 yards on 12 completions with no interceptions in a 49-42 win. In 2009, it was freshman Andrew Luck also throwing two touchdowns on 12 completions with no interceptions and 251 yards in a 51-42 victory. Last season, it was Kevin Hogan, making his second career start, throwing for 211 yards with a fourth-quarter, game-tying touchdown, an interception and he added a rushing TD in Stanford’s 17-14 OT win. In each of the following seasons the Ducks bounced back. They did not face an injured Lewis the following year, instead surrendering just 92 yards and a touchdown on 12 completions with an interception against Kyle Matter and Ryan Eklun in a 41-14 win. Luck lost to Oregon his sophomore and junior seasons (52-31 and 53-30), combining for 597 yards passing six total TDs, four interceptions and a lost fumble. Hogan, 7-0 against ranked teams, has a chance to stop the trend Thursday and become the first Stanford QB to defeat Oregon in back-to-back seasons since Chad Hutchinson (1996 and ’97).

28.9: Stanford and Oregon combined for 28.9 percent on third and fourth downs in last year’s meeting
In last season’s meeting, Stanford was 6-of-17 on third down and 1-of-2 on fourth, while Oregon was 4-of-17 on third and failed on both fourth-down tries — one at the Cardinal 7, which led to a 93-yard scoring drive by Stanford for the game’s first points. This season, Stanford is third in the Pac-12 in third-down conversions at 53-of-109 (48.6), while Oregon is fifth at 46-of-100 (46.0). On the defensive side, the Ducks rank second in the conference at forcing fourth down, having faced the most third-down attempts this season and allowing 33.1 percent to be converted (47-of-142). Stanford is fourth at 34.4 (42-of-122). Both teams rank ninth in the conference on fourth-down conversions at 40 percent. Oregon has attempted to move the chains four times as much as Stanford — 8-of-20 to the Cardinal’s 2-of-5. Defensively, Oregon is second best in the conference in stopping fourth-down attempts at 42.1 percent (8-of-19), while opponents have converted 52.4 percent against Stanford (11-of-21).

29.44-21.63 Stanford puts its top-ranked kick return game against Oregon’s 73rd-ranked return defense
If Stanford is looking for a spark against Oregon Thursday it could come in the return game. The Cardinal is No. 1 in FBS in kick return average (29.44), and go up against a Ducks special teams unit allowing 21.63 yards per return — good for 73rd in FBS. On the other side, Oregon is ranked 48th in kick returns (22.25), while Stanford is 10th best (17.78) at defending the kickoff. Stanford’s Ty Montgomery is tied for first in the FBS with two of his 21 kickoff returns taken back for scores. The junior averages 32.5 yards per return — .2 yards off No. 1 in the nation.

7: John Elway to have No. 7 jersey retired Thursday night
At halftime of the Stanford-Oregon game, the Cardinal will retire former quarterback John Elway’s No. 7. Stanford’s quarterback from 1979-82, Elway was a Heisman Trophy runner-up to Herschel Walker in 1982. The two-time Pac-10 Player of the Year (1980 and ’82) threw for 9,349 yards and 77 touchdowns at Stanford. Junior receiver Ty Montgomery and sophomore defensive Aziz Shittu both currently wear the No. 7 jersey. They will be the last players to do so. This will be the third Stanford football number to be retired — Ernie Nevers (1) and Jim Plunkett (16).

3: Cal’s Lawler scores his first career TD, then his second and third
California receiver Kenny Lawler collected the first touchdown of his career in the second quarter (17 yards) in Saturday’s 33-28 loss to Arizona. The freshman then followed with a 3-yard TD in the third quarter and a third score on a 29-yard catch in the fourth quarter. He finished with six catches for 72 yards. He is the first Bears receiver to catch three TDs in a game since DeSean Jackson vs. Minnesota in 2006.

60: Denker to Miller for 60 yards a season long for both
Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker connected with Terrence Miller for 60 yards on a third-and-10 in the third quarter of the Wildcats’ 33-28 victory against Cal Saturday. The senior-to-senior, 60-yard hookup is the longest completion of Denker’s two-year career at Arizona and the longest reception of Miller’s five-year career. Miller went on to finish with five catches for 88 yards — the highest yardage total of any UA receiver this season.

0: Oregon State offense shutout in the second half for the first time
The Beavers were shutout in the second half for the first time this season after averaging 23.9 points per second half in their eight games leading into Friday’s game with USC. It was the first time OSU was shutout in the second half since a 23-6 loss to Cal on Nov. 12, 2011. After averaging 44.1 points over this season’s first seven games — good for ninth in the nation — Oregon State has dropped to 37.2 and 26th in the nation after scoring just 14 against USC and 12 against Stanford.

2: USC won back-to-back games in single season by at least two touchdowns for the first time since 2011
With its 31-14 and 19-3 wins over Oregon State and Utah the last two outings, USC has put together back-to-back, two-touchdown wins in the same season for the first time since November 2011. The Trojans were 40-17 and 42-17 winners against Washington and Colorado in 2011.

Amazing Pac-12 College Football Stats from Week 10
Post date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-kansas-preview

This preview and more on Kansas and the Big 12 are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 5 Kansas Facts & Figures
Last season: 31-6 (14-4 Big 12)
Postseason: NCAA Sweet 16
Coach: Bill Self (300-59 at Kansas)
Big 12 projection: First
Postseason projection: NCAA Elite Eight
Kansas is the favorite to win the Big 12 title for the 10th consecutive year — but back in March and April, that wasn’t the case.

Four senior starters from last season’s Sweet 16 squad were gone, and leading scorer Ben McLemore had bolted early for the NBA. When analysts predicted Oklahoma State would knock the Jayhawks from their perch atop the conference standings in 2013-14, no one argued.

At least not until Andrew Wiggins picked up a pen.

On May 14 — in the few shorts seconds it took him to scribble his name on a National Letter of Intent — Wiggins turned a fringe-top 25 team into a Big 12 and NCAA title contender. Kansas has always been able to lure high-profile recruits to its storied program, but never have the Jayhawks inked a player with as much hype as Wiggins, the nation’s No. 1-ranked prospect.

“We were going to have a good team no matter what,” coach Bill Self says. “But Andrew gives us a chance to be special.”


Wiggins wasn’t the only late addition that caused a buzz among Jayhawks fans last spring. After playing his first three seasons at Memphis, power forward Tarik Black decided to spend his final year of eligibility elsewhere. The 6-9, 262-pound Black averaged 8.1 points last season and 10.7 points as a sophomore, but Self doesn’t believe he’s come anywhere close to reaching his potential. Black is the physical, rugged type of player that Self loves, and his age and experience will be huge for a Kansas team that will be among the youngest in the country.

While Black will provide the muscle in the paint, look for sophomore Perry Ellis to account for a bulk of the scoring. Ellis was a role player for most of his freshman year before making huge strides near the end of the season. Ellis’ confidence has grown even more during the offseason. And it certainly helps that he’s been able to compete in practice with newcomers such as Black, Joel Embiid and Landen Lucas and returning backup Jamari Traylor.

Embiid may have the highest upside of any player on Kansas’ roster. The 7-0 Cameroonian has been playing the game for only a few years, but his eagerness to learn and his natural athletic ability lead many to believe he could be a top NBA prospect after just one college season. Self is also extremely high on Lucas, who has been one of Kansas’ top players in offseason workouts after redshirting last season.

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


No player will be under as big a spotlight this season as Wiggins, a swingman who may be the best player the college game has seen since Kevin Durant. There simply isn’t much the 6-8 Wiggins can’t do. He’s skilled enough, big enough and long enough to play the 2, 3 and 4 positions. And athletically, he’s as elite as they come. One minute he’s swishing a heavily guarded 3-pointer or pull-up jumper, and the next he’s exploding past a defender and dunking while absorbing contact.

Joining Wiggins in the backcourt will be freshman Wayne Selden, a McDonald’s All-American who has been referred to as a “power guard.” Self loves the 6-5 Selden for his toughness, his knack for getting to the basket and ability to make shots.

Perhaps the only question mark for the Jayhawks comes at the most important position on the court: point guard. Naadir Tharpe averaged 19 minutes per game as a backup last season and has been praised for his leadership. Tharpe, though, is far from an all-conference-caliber guard, and Self is high on incoming freshman Frank Mason, who spent last season at a prep school after failing to qualify out of high school.


Andrew Wiggins, the likely No. 1 pick in next summer’s NBA Draft, is arguably the highest-profile recruit in school history. Wayne Selden will be virtually impossible to keep off the court because of his toughness and ability to play multiple positions. Brannen Greene and Conner Frankamp are deadly from beyond the arc. Joel Embiid is a tremendous shot-blocker and rebounder who could blossom into one of the country’s top big men. Tarik Black is a bruiser who adds a manly presence to an otherwise youthful squad.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 1. Kansas has been a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament five out of the last seven years. The Jayhawks have also finished No. 1 in the Big 12 nine straight seasons.

As is the case every season, expect the Jayhawks to be in the hunt for the NCAA title. Granted, things may be a bit rocky at times for a squad that will likely have five freshmen in its eight-man rotation. With games against Duke, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Georgetown, Kansas’ non-conference slate is as difficult as its ever been under Self, who is cautioning folks to be patient. That’s a lot to ask of Kansas fans, who know good and well that with Wiggins, anything is possible.

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
5. Kansas
6. Arizona
7. Florida
8. Oklahoma State

9. Syracuse
10. North Carolina
11. Ohio State
12. Michigan

13. Marquette
14. New Mexico
15. Notre Dame
16. Creighton
17. Tennessee
18. VCU
19. UNLV
20. Memphis
21. Connecticut
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State


College Basketball: 2013-14 Kansas Preview
Post date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Florida Gators, SEC, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-florida-preview

This preview and more on Florida and the SEC are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 7 Florida Facts & Figures
Last season: 29-8 (14-4 SEC)
Postseason: NCAA Elite Eight
Coach: Billy Donovan (415-166)
SEC projection: Second
Postseason projection: NCAA Elite Eight
Florida coach Billy Donovan has had to reinvent his team during the middle of the past two seasons because of injuries. Because of a lack of depth, guys played out of position, rotations changed, and minutes increased significantly. Despite that, the Gators still managed to come within one game of reaching the Final Four in 2013.

Donovan hopes he won’t have to improvise as much in 2013-14, but the season is off to an inauspicious start. Will Yeguete, whose injuries necessitated Donovan changing lineups on the fly, missed the start of practice while recovering from knee surgery. Eli Carter, a heralded Rutgers transfer, was declared eligible to play this season, but he’s still rehabbing from a broken leg. And point guard Scottie Wilbekin only recently returned from a suspension.

That said, with the addition of two transfers and the return of senior Patric Young, the Gators’ frontcourt is stocked more than it has been in years. That’s a big reason why Florida is among a handful of contenders for the national championship.

Dorian Finney-Smith, a 6-8 redshirt sophomore forward, and Damontre Harris, a 6-10 redshirt junior forward/center, sat out last season after transferring from Virginia Tech and South Carolina, respectively. Along with Young, senior forward Casey Prather and Yeguete, the Gators now have a frontcourt full of big, athletic and physical players.

Finney-Smith, who some inside the program say would have been the Gators’ best overall player last season, started 30 games for Virginia Tech in 2011-12 and earned ACC All-Freshman honors after averaging 6.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. He’s a slasher in the mold of former UF standout Corey Brewer, but with better size.

Harris spent two years at South Carolina and was named to the league’s All-Defensive Team after the 2011-12 season. He also averaged 6.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game and had 71 blocks.

Though those two are big additions, Donovan hopes people temper their expectations about how dominant UF’s frontcourt could be.

“When guys transfer and people are sitting out, the legend of those guys grows to an enormity and size that is probably not really reality,” Donovan says. “(But) those guys are good players. There’s no question they can help us.”


Harris and Finney-Smith join a solid group that is a little offensively challenged. The 6-9, 240-pound Young has averaged 10.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in his two seasons as a starter. He has been inconsistent around the basket and hasn’t developed a jump shot to complement his post moves.

The 6-8 Yeguete is UF’s best interior defender and the key man at the top of the full-court press, but has averaged just 3.7 points per game in his career. He has missed a combined 17 games the last two seasons because of knee and foot injuries. The 6-6 Prather is coming off a career year (6.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg) despite having to play in the post because of Yeguete’s knee injury, but he’s a slasher without a jump shot.

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


There’s a big question mark at point guard as Wilbekin is just leaving Donovan’s dog house. Aside from Wilbekin, freshman Kasey Hill is the only point guard on the roster. Hill is a smooth playmaker who changes speed well and gives the Gators more offense at the position than Wilbekin. However, Wilbekin was the Gators’ top perimeter defender.

Not having Wilbekin leaves sophomore Michael Frazier as the only guard with significant SEC experience. The 6-4 Frazier, who helped the United States win the gold medal in the under-19 age group at the FIBA World Championships this summer, played in 36 games last season and was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team after shooting 46.8 percent from 3-point range.

Sophomores Dillon Graham and DeVon Walker averaged 3.5 and 4.0 minutes per game, respectively, last season and will continue to be role players in 2013-14.


Kasey Hill is going to play a lot even if he doesn’t have to start because of Scottie Wilbekin’s suspension. Dorian Finney-Smith should start and has the ability to average a double-double. Damontre Harris is a defensive whiz who will eat into Patric Young’s minutes, which will help with Young’s fatigue issues.

Final analysis
Factoid: 3. Florida is the only school in the country that has made the Elite Eight the last three seasons. UF has made six trips to the Elite Eight since 2000.

This is one of Donovan’s deepest and most athletic teams. The Gators will be able to run with anyone in the country and can create havoc with their press because of their length. The wild card is when, or if, Wilbekin returns. If he does, UF is even better defensively and the offense is in the hands of a player with three years of experience in the SEC. If not, the Gators’ offense will depend on how quickly Hill adjusts to the college game.

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
5. Kansas
6. Arizona
7. Florida
8. Oklahoma State

9. Syracuse
10. North Carolina
11. Ohio State
12. Michigan

13. Marquette
14. New Mexico
15. Notre Dame
16. Creighton
17. Tennessee
18. VCU
19. UNLV
20. Memphis
21. Connecticut
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State


College Basketball: 2013-14 Florida Preview
Post date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-arizona-preview

This preview and more on Arizona and the Pac-12 are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 6 Arizona Facts & Figures
Last season: 27-8 (12-6 Pac-12)
Postseason: NCAA Sweet 16
Coach: Sean Miller (96-43 at Arizona)
Pac-12 projection: First
Postseason projection: NCAA Elite Eight
A month after Sean Miller paid a $25,000 fine for confronting officials during the Pac-12 Tournament, league commissioner Larry Scott offered to repay the money if Miller apologized and displayed proper contrition.

Miller told them to keep the money.

“We’re moving on,” says Arizona’s coach. “We’ve got better things ahead of us.”

That’s the working description of Arizona basketball. Somehow, after losing All-Pac-12 seniors Solomon Hill and Mark Lyons, after watching in dismay as coveted prospects Grant Jerrett and Angelo Chol left school, Miller believes the Wildcats can improve on a 27-win, Sweet 16 finish.

Even though Arizona has gone to 26 NCAA Tournaments over the last 28 years, the Wildcats have rarely had more talent, top to bottom, on their roster. “Losing what we did would cripple a lot of programs,” Miller says. “But I believe we’ve established ourselves now to the point that we can handle it and move forward.”

The most identifiable player on Miller’s fifth Arizona team is apt to be freshman forward Aaron Gordon, MVP of the McDonald’s All-American Game and, two months later, MVP of USA Basketball’s U19 gold medal championship club.

“One of the reasons I chose Arizona was because I believe we can win the national championship,” says Gordon, a slashing, up-tempo transition player. “It’s all set up to be a great year.”


Center Kaleb Tarczewski started all 35 games as a freshman, shooting .538 from the field and becoming a physical force near the basket. He is likely to become more of a scoring threat as a sophomore; he averaged 6.6 in his rookie year.

He’ll be joined by sophomore Brandon Ashley, an athletic and versatile 6-8 combo forward with shooting range to 20 feet. Ashley shot .525 as a freshman, starting 22 games, and no longer will have to share time with Jerrett, who opted for the NBA Draft after one season.

Gordon will start at small forward, although he has the size and inside scoring instincts to play closer to the basket. Miller will have another strong option at small forward: Freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, a McDonald’s All-American, projects as a defensive stopper with the versatility to guard opposing players at shooting guard, wing forward and power forward. His shooting touch will need some work, however.

Miller made the frontcourt more formidable when he added junior college big man Matt Korcheck, a spirited rebounder and defensive specialist who sat out the 2012-13 season. He replaces Chol, who transferred to San Diego State in an attempt to get more playing time.

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


Miller’s new point guard is Duquesne transfer T. J. McConnell, who was the 2011 Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year and a year later finished third in the NCAA in steals. He also shot .417 from 3-point range and enters the year as the acknowledged team leader.

“He’ll be their heart and soul,” says Hill, who was the UA’s leading player a year ago. “He’ll establish a toughness we haven’t always had.”

Nick Johnson, a two-year starter at shooting guard who averaged 11.5 points as a sophomore, must improve his perimeter shooting to help open the inside for Tarczewski and Ashley. Johnson was tied for third on the club in 3-point baskets last year, with 42. He has been more proficient as a penetrating, drive-to-the-basket player. They need him to do less of that with Gordon around.

The Wildcats have exceptional depth in the backcourt. Senior Jordin Mayes, who can play both positions, has played 102 college games, starting 16 times. Sophomore Gabe York will get an audition as the team’s off-the-bench distance shooting specialist.


As a package, Aaron Gordon, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Elliott Pitts were often ranked at or near the top of the nation’s recruiting classes. Some view Gordon as the leading freshman ever to arrive at Arizona. Hollis-Jefferson has the size, length and defensive mindset that Miller covets.  In a normal recruiting class, Pitts would be a headliner. This year at Arizona he’s No. 3.

Final analysis
Factoid: 96. Arizona has won 96 games in Sean Miller’s four seasons, the most of any Pac-12 team in that period. Miller’s 48–24 Pac-12 record is also the best in the conference.

Arizona is unusually young, expecting to start a freshman, two sophomores and two juniors. Only one senior, Mayes, figures to make the eight- or nine-man rotation.

Nevertheless, Miller and UA fans see this as Arizona’s best chance to get to the Final Four since 2001 — it was agonizingly close in 2003, 2005 and 2011 — because Tarczewski and Gordon are viewed as likely entrees to the NBA Draft in June 2014.

Miller has established himself as a recruiter of impact. This shouldn’t be a now-or-never season for the Wildcats, but anything short of a league title and deep run into the NCAA Tournament would be disappointing.

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
5. Kansas
6. Arizona
7. Florida
8. Oklahoma State

9. Syracuse
10. North Carolina
11. Ohio State
12. Michigan

13. Marquette
14. New Mexico
15. Notre Dame
16. Creighton
17. Tennessee
18. VCU
19. UNLV
20. Memphis
21. Connecticut
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State



College Basketball: 2013-14 Arizona Basketball Preview
Post date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-oklahoma-state-preview

This preview and more on Oklahoma State and the Big 12 are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 8 Oklahoma State Facts & Figures
Last season: 24-9 (13-5 Big 12)
Postseason: NCAA Round of 64
Coach: Travis Ford (104-64 at Oklahoma State)
Big 12 projection: Second
Postseason projection: NCAA Elite Eight
Marcus Smart, Markel Brown and Le’Bryan Nash stood together before a packed and energized Oklahoma State Student Union in April, pledging another year to the program.

And in turn, propping up the Cowboys for a run at a potential special season.

In Smart, Brown and Nash, the Cowboys boast the top three returning scorers in the Big 12 and a trio of likely NBA Draft picks.

And there’s more — much more — with Mike Cobbins, Brian Williams and Kamari Murphy all owning significant starting experience and Phil Forte back as the team’s top 3-point shooter and a sniper off the bench.

At this level, OSU projects as one of the Big 12 favorites and a squad capable of a long NCAA Tournament run.

“I think the ceiling on this team is really high,” Smart said. “We’ve got a lot of talent. A lot of experience. And we’re hungry.”

Related: Q&A with Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart


The Cowboys lack bulk inside, yet can create problems with an athletic array of forwards, led by Cobbins and Murphy, and also Nash, who splits his time playing inside and out depending on the matchup. Since they want to push the pace and run — and so few teams boast legitimate true big men anyway — the Pokes’ collection of forwards is a better fit.

Cobbins led OSU in rebounding and blocked shots a year ago, taking over as the starter down the stretch in the Big 12. A high-percentage shooter who has worked at adding a reliable baby hook to his arsenal, Cobbins’ continued development has elevated his status as a scoring threat.

Murphy was forced into duty as a true freshman early last season due to injuries, and he responded well. Following a mid-season slump, he bounced back to provide quality depth, and he gives OSU its most physical inside presence.

Nash is most effective in the frontcourt on the offensive end, where his ability to slash and score at the rim gives defenders fits. After envisioning himself as a perimeter player early in his career, Nash now embraces his work in the post.

There’s hope that junior college transfer Gary Gaskins, another athletic big man at 6-10, can provide help off the bench. Marek Soucek, a 7-footer who is the Cowboys’ thickest post player, is finally adapting to the American game in his junior year, after arriving from the Czech Republic.

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


Smart’s return, after he was projected near the top of the NBA Draft, stunned those outside and inside the program alike. The Big 12 Player of the Year as a freshman, he changed the culture of the program with his unselfishness and competitiveness. He ranked among the conference’s top five in scoring and assists and led the league in steals, leading OSU’s charge back to the NCAA Tournament after a two-year absence.

And he’s back to do it all, and more, again.

“You only get to be a college player for so long,” Smart says. “I love these guys, and I love this program and I’m excited about what we can do together.”

Brown took a major step in his third year, becoming a consistent and versatile scorer after previously being known strictly as a dunker.

Forte surpassed expectations, getting major minutes and giving the Cowboys a fourth double-digit scorer, as well as an outside threat capable of extending defenses. Williams, a lockdown defender, missed the first half of the season after shattering his wrist, then returned to play a limited role. Healthy again, he should be a major addition on the defensive end, but also as an explosive scorer.

Stevie Clark, a 4-star recruit, will spell Smart at the point and give the Cowboys another major offensive threat. Jeffrey Carroll, another freshman scorer, is trying to fight through the logjam at guard and find a role.


Stevie Clark ranks fifth in Oklahoma career high school scoring with 3,312 career points. Offsetting a slight build, 6-10 junior college addition Gary Gaskins is an explosive leaper who could help on the defensive end. Jeffrey Carroll and Leyton Hammonds are Texas prep stars who could find minutes hard to come by, with redshirt seasons possible.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 94. The Cowboys return 94 percent of their point production from a year ago, including their top six scorers and four players who averaged double figures.

Smart sparked an OSU resurgence last season, putting the program back on the map. His return to lead a veteran and talented squad warrants national attention.

The Cowboys will have to manage rising expectations, deal with a challenging schedule and find minutes for a potentially deep rotation. But there’s motivation, too, after underrated Oregon sent OSU packing with a quick exit from last year’s postseason.

“We have unfinished business,” Brown says.

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
5. Kansas
6. Arizona
7. Florida
8. Oklahoma State

9. Syracuse
10. North Carolina
11. Ohio State
12. Michigan

13. Marquette
14. New Mexico
15. Notre Dame
16. Creighton
17. Tennessee
18. VCU
19. UNLV
20. Memphis
21. Connecticut
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State


College Basketball: 2013-14 Oklahoma State Preview
Post date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-qa-oklahoma-states-marcus-smart

This Q&A and more on Oklahoma State and the Big 12 are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.
Marcus Smart stunned the basketball world when he announced he would return for another season with Oklahoma State, delaying a jump to the NBA even as he was projected as a top-five pick. For the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year, there was unfinished business on the court, after last season ended in disappointment. And there was unfinished business off the court, where following a tumultuous first 17 years of his life, he enjoyed just being a college kid. Now Smart is focused on one more year as a Cowboy — and all that it could bring.

His Oklahoma State team checked in at No. 8 in our countdown.

You decided to forego the NBA Draft. Did you ever expect so many people to weigh in with opinions on your decision?

The society we live in, people are always worried about what other people are doing. Why they did it. What made them do it. That’s just the world we live in, especially with social media and everything. I wasn’t really surprised. But at the same time, it is my business, my decision — not their’s — so it doesn’t matter what they think. Not trying to disrespect anyone, everyone has a right to their opinion. At the same time, it’s my life.

Any regrets?

None at all.

After some people weighed in, criticizing your decision and saying you’d be picked lower in a better draft class, you took offense to it. Talk about your response to those doubts of you and your game.

The morning I announced I was coming back, we actually watched ESPN and Skip (Bayless) and Stephen A. (Smith) were going at it. Skip made some comments that pretty much said he didn’t think I could play with this year’s draft class. My whole life I’ve been told I couldn’t do this or I couldn’t do that. It’s a motivator. For him to say that, I felt a little disrespected. All respect to him, but I didn’t agree with what he said. I know coming in here, nobody thought I’d accomplish all that I did my first year. Like I said, it all comes down to how bad you want it and how hard you work. I bet on myself. I know what I can do. I believe in my ability. And I’m a competitor. I’ll do whatever I can to help this team win.

Talking about this team, what do you like about this team’s collection of players?

The chemistry of this team. We were a tight team last year, but this year, more than ever, we’re tighter. And that’s going to go a long way. We’re just as experienced. We have depth, a lot of veteran guys on this team who knows what it takes. That’s always good. I just like the way we connect with each other.

What is the ceiling on this team?

There is none, none at all. It all comes down to us. No excuses. We have everyone back. It all comes down to how the dice rolls and how we make the dice roll. It’s up to us. We control our own destiny.

What is your favorite enemy arena in the Big 12?

Kansas, Allen Fieldhouse. Being good friends with Phil (Forte) and his dad being an alum who played football at KU, that’s all we used to hear –— stories about KU. Basketball. Football. We grew up watching Kansas and hearing the stories about how historic it is and about the major tradition there and how intense it is, and how hard it is to win there. And everybody knows that, it’s one of the hardest places in the country to go win. And it’s one of the great atmospheres.

What’s your least favorite arena?

Texas Tech, just because of the atmosphere. It’s a nice coliseum to play in. It’s huge. It looks beautiful, but the atmosphere just isn’t there.

Who is the toughest guy in the Big 12 to defend?

I’d probably say Andrew Wiggins at Kansas. I’m sure I’ll end up on him some. That’s going to be a tough matchup for anybody to guard him. He’s a great player. He’s a big-time player.

Who’s the toughest guy in the Big 12 to score on?

Isaiah Austin. His length. He’s a great shot blocker. I know he blocked like six or seven shots a game. And that’s a big. He changes shots for his team. And it’s tough to score on him.

What other coach in the Big 12 could you see yourself playing for?

Bill Self. He’s a great coach. Everybody knows his track record, all that he’s instilled into that program. He knows what he’s doing and he does it well.

Your rise from a dangerous upbringing has become a national story, with details of how you survived in a rugged south Dallas neighborhood, eventually moving across town to blossom and become a big-time recruit. What kind of stuff did you see?

I saw my friends doing all kinds of drugs. Snorting. Smoking. I didn’t even know what it was. Psycho-type stuff. I’ve seen people get jumped and beaten … shot. I’ve seen police chases every day. I’ve seen gang members drive through apartments, while little kids are in the street, don’t give a care; little kids getting hit by cars. I saw my brother sell (drugs) to one of my friends.

How influential was your mother, Camellia, who moved the family out of those surroundings, in not only allowing you to have a basketball future, but in possibly saving your life?

I thank God every day for giving my mom the strength and the confidence to move us. To just drop everything — that’s where all my family was – to go to this place where we had no idea who anybody was or what to expect …  she took a chance. That was a great chance she took.

And still, you believe that those early life lessons were good for you?

God does everything for a reason. He doesn’t bring us this far to leave us. For me to go through that, it was what he planned, in order to get me somewhere better and to do something better with my life. That’s exactly the way he planned it. And it worked out the way he wanted it. I definitely think that was a blessing.

Clearly, it’s working out the way you wanted it, too?

Now, I’m a D-I college basketball player at Oklahoma State. I’m living the life that most kids would chop off their right arm for, a paid scholarship to go to college for free. Kids’ parents are out here struggling to get them to college, my mom doesn’t pay anything. It’s a blessing. I thank God every day. I’m doing something productive with my life. My mom, she’s great. She’s really one of my heroes.

What did you learn from your latest international experience, playing on the gold medal Team USA U19 squad in the Czech Republic?

I learned how to be a little more elusive and tricky coming off ball screens and getting in the paint; making better decisions.

What was your reaction when you learned you were one of two college players invited to the Team USA Mini-Camp in Las Vegas, alongside a bunch of NBA pros?

I was ecstatic. It’s a prestigious event to be a part of. And to be one of two college players to go, and not any of the college players drafted this year, it’s an honor indeed to have on my track record as an individual, and for Oklahoma State. I got to go out there and represent my school and my family. I’m blessed. I thank God for giving me the opportunity for being there.

Having experienced a year of college basketball, how much better can you be as a sophomore?

There are no limitations. I’ve just got to work at it and want it. That’s with anybody though; anybody in college basketball. It’s all about how hard you work. I think I can become a pretty good player if I just stay focused, keep my eyes on the right things work hard. I don’t have to wonder what I’m in for any more, like a lot of incoming freshmen. I’ve been through it a year. I’ve been put in the fire in tough games. So I’m used to it and I know what to expect. So nothing will come as a surprise for me.

College Basketball: Q&A with Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart
Post date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /nascar/johnson-kenseth-remain-locked-nascar-title-toss

Someday, fans will look back and recognize the magnitude of what Jimmie Johnson has accomplished. Already a five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, two races away from (potentially) number six, he’s done it in an era where parity amongst the top teams reigns supreme. At an organization built around Jeff Gordon, his co-car owner who also hired him, Johnson stole the spotlight along with the lofty goals Gordon once seemed capable of reaching.

But most race fans now read that first paragraph and immediately think of throwing up. To them, Johnson is the anti-Christ, a prime example of everything gone wrong with their beloved sport. A dominant win is treated as boring; his personality, no matter the scenario, is labeled generic and emotionless. While the sport’s other champions, like Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Sr., evoked passion in the fan base, Johnson — apart from his own group of loyalists — doesn’t move the needle. He’s the most polished, professional champion the sport has ever seen, yet it’s that same presentation which proves part of the problem.

Combine those feelings with Sunday’s Texas trouncing and you have a recipe for fan unrest. No wonder this race, in several circles, was labeled one of the worst within a Chase that’s actually seen TV ratings rise. What a weird problem for NASCAR to have, right? Build a showdown around Peyton Manning in the NFL or LeBron James in the NBA and your most successful star on paper draws record ratings. Put Johnson at his best, front and center?

Too much of NASCAR’s loyal fan base still wants to run.

“Through the Gears” we go, post-Texas …

FIRST GEAR: The title is a toss-up  Jimmie Johnson
Johnson, in leading 255 laps Sunday, took the upper hand in this seesaw title race. Just one week ago it seemed Matt Kenseth, fresh off out-pointing his rival at Martinsville, was poised to pull away at this intermediate track. Instead? It was Johnson’s first 1.5-mile victory of the season, as these men keep besting each other in ways that leave the pundits looking foolish.

Now we head to Phoenix with Johnson armed with the same seven-point lead he had last season over Brad Keselowski. But as we saw then, that margin is far from a guarantee come Homestead. Last year, the No. 48 team pulled up a rare stinker in this same situation; a blown tire in Phoenix and a mechanical mess in Homestead led to a third-place points finish. Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus say they’ve learned their lesson, leaning on years of experience to make that a one-time aberration.

As for Kenseth, his mission at Phoenix is to keep himself afloat and Johnson in sight. With one career win at Homestead — one of the few places his rival hasn’t won — you’d think the No. 20 team would have the upper hand. But it’s a true toss-up going forward, folks.

SECOND GEAR: Will Dale Jr. always be second best?  Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Sunday marked Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s fifth second-place run of the season. Yes, the No. 88 team has failed to reach Victory Lane, but that runner-up total is still his best with Hendrick Motorsports. In no previous season has Junior had more than three top-two runs with HMS; in six years with the organization, he’s only had a grand total of 10. Bottom line, this “close but no cigar” routine is actually a strong step in the right direction.

“We want to put forward a good account of ourselves in the Chase because you're in there for a reason and you don't want to be an also ran,” said Earnhardt, up to a Chase-high fifth in points. “So we feel like we're doing a lot of good work and getting really close to probably breaking through and getting a win.”

It’s an impressive rebound, considering an engine failure at Chicagoland left this team out of the title Chase before it began. Should these results hold through the final two races, Earnhardt will have his best points season since 2006, when he was driving for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Two more top-10 finishes in the final two races would also give him a new career high in the category (22). It’s clear the move into the No. 48 shop has paid dividends for Earnhardt and crew chief Steve Letarte. Their chemistry has never been stronger.

At the same time, just like with everyone else at Hendrick, these days you get the feeling this run may be as good as Earnhardt could ever do there. Since Johnson entered the scene full-time in 2002, no other driver at HMS has won a Cup championship. Could Earnhardt, in the same shop as a possible six-time champion, suddenly rise up and steal a few? The way history has played out, you have to wonder. Turning 40 next year, the marketability of even an Earnhardt remains in question; it’s now been 12 years since his father’s death, where a whole generation of teenagers don’t “get” the name in quite the same way. Is this season a slow build towards a multi-win 2014 or are we seeing the peak of this partnership right now?

With two wins in Earnhardt’s now seven seasons with the team that remains an open question.

THIRD GEAR: The importance of pit roadIn looking at the final two races this championship, it more than likely could be won or lost in the pits. It almost happened Sunday, when a pit road speeding penalty doomed Kenseth to the tail of the lead lap in 16th. It took him 100 circuits or so and with the help of some cautions to work back inside the top 5.

Even Johnson, whose car was unstoppable, suffered from a 17.0-second stop that dropped the No. 48 from the lead to fourth. Texas, with its multiple grooves, offered an opportunity for him to quickly find his way back to the point. But Phoenix, with its newly-paved asphalt? That track position-race will offer no such freebie. In the spring, pole-sitter Mark Martin seemed unstoppable until a tire failure left him last on the lead lap. The No. 55 car was still fast; it was just simply impossible to pass. He wound up a mediocre 21st.

Considering that layout, this Sunday will be a head-to-head battle between crew chiefs Jason Ratcliff and Chad Knaus. Who will play poker with two-tire stops late in the race to keep track position? Can each mechanic develop a setup that will allow their driver to pass on restarts? Their minds, along with the speed of their crews, could make all the difference in this title race. 

FOURTH GEAR: Fords forging ahead  Carl Edwards
Ever so quietly, teams are working on 2014 — and we’ve seen some steps forward by the Fords. Carl Edwards, after winning the pole, was competitive at Texas until blowing his engine. Penske Racing’s Joey Logano finished a strong third while teammate Brad Keselowski was fourth. The reigning champion is actually best of the non-Chasers, 14th in points, and has one win this postseason.

It’s been a slow, steady rebuild for the Fusions after starting out a step behind on NASCAR’s Gen-6. With Greg Biffle in a contract year, Penske showing signs of life and Edwards, now two years removed from championship heartbreak, I expect Ford to come out of the gate strong in Daytona.

It was a slow, steady drive you didn’t get to see on TV, but Parker Kligerman’s 18th-place finish in his Cup debut for Swan Racing was one of the better runs for an underdog we’ve seen this year. That car, once driven by David Stremme, had just four top-20 finishes in 2013 — none of which came on intermediates — and is woefully underfunded compared to the “big guns.” The Nationwide Series regular might have earned himself a Cup ride for 2014. … Jeff Burton, in published interviews, suddenly doesn’t seem so sure he’ll have an opportunity next year. That leaves Burton, 2000 Cup champ Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin (subbing for Tony Stewart) as three big-name drivers who all could potentially hang it up after Homestead. … It’s unclear whether NAPA Auto Parts will follow Martin Truex Jr. to his new ride at Furniture Row Racing. But if it does, that may mean good things for other drivers facing the unemployment line. Owner Barney Visser has always had his own money to sponsor the program and has always wanted to start a second team, even on a limited basis.

Follow Tom Bowles on Twitter: @NASCARBowles
Photos by Action Sports, Inc.


Four things we learned following Jimmie Johnson's win in NASCAR's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Post date: Monday, November 4, 2013 - 17:16
Path: /nfl/chicago-bears-vs-green-bay-packers-preview-and-prediction

The NFL’s longest running rivalry resumes tonight when the Chicago Bears take on the Green Bay Packers at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. The Packers (5-2) are in first place in the NFC North and have won five in a row overall, while the Bears (4-3) have dropped three of their last four games after opening the season 3-0. With the Bears dealing with so many injuries on both sides of the ball, it will be up to All-Pro cornerback Charles Tillman and a patchwork defense to try and slow down Aaron Rodgers and a well-balanced Packers offensive attack.

This represents the 187th meeting, including playoffs, between these historic, long-time divisional rivals. This is the NFL’s longest running rivalry and although Chicago holds a slim lead (92-88-6) in these head-to-head matchups, the Packers have won six in a row overall and the last five played at Lambeau Field. Green Bay also has won 11 straight against NFC North opponents, a big reason why the Packers have won the last two division titles.

3 Things to Watch

Will Chicago’s Offense Click Without Cutler?
Jay Cutler will miss tonight’s game because of the groin injury he sustained in the Bears’ last game, a Week 7 loss to the Redskins. With Cutler sidelined, Josh McCown will make his first start since the end of the 2011 season. An 11-year veteran with more than 30 career starts under his belt, McCown filled in quite nicely after Cutler got hurt, completing 14 of 20 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown in the 45-41 loss to Washington. McCown is a veteran who has not only faced the Packers before, he also has played at Lambeau Field. McCown’s first start in 2011 was on the road against Green Bay on Christmas Day. He threw for 242 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions that day, a 35-21 loss. McCown won’t be asked to do it all by himself, as running back Matt Forté will be heavily involved in the game plan, and he also has wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery and tight end Martellus Bennett at his disposal. Still, the Bears need McCown to execute the offense and take care of the football, because Chicago’s defense is too banged up and not playing well enough right now to expect it to be able to shut out the Packers entirely. Following Cutler’s injury, the initial time frame for his return was about four weeks. Cutler is making progress and has stated that his goal is to return sooner than expected. How well McCown fares on the road in a big divisional game could go a long ways in determining how the Bears approach Cutler’s recovery timeline.

Bear-ing Down on Defense
Chicago’s defense was one of the NFL’s best last season, ranking fifth in yards allowed and third in points allowed. This year’s unit has struggled under new coordinator Mel Tucker, ranking 27th in yards allowed (391) and 29th in points (29.4) entering Week 9. While there have been several key personnel changes, the biggest problem this season has been staying healthy. The Bears have lost both starting defensive tackles and a linebacker to season-ending injuries with Lance Briggs, the unit’s veteran leader, expected to be out more than a month. There is still talent left, but key parts like All-Pro cornerback Charles Tillman are playing hurt and the Bears are relying on two rookie linebackers as starters. Chicago knows full well the task ahead of them, as Aaron Rodgers is 8-2 in his career against the Bears. One way or another, this Bears defense has to find a way to force Rodgers and company to earn their yards and points. Whether that be someone unheralded stepping up along the defensive line, the rookie linebackers flashing their talent and potential in select spots, or Tillman and fellow All-Pro corner Tim Jennings shutting down the Packers’ passing game, the 2013 version of the Monsters of the Midway need to make an appearance tonight if the Bears have any hope of winning.

Will the Packers Stick to the Script?
Green Bay has won four games in a row, although not in the fashion you may think. Aaron Rodgers is averaging less than 284 yards passing during this span with just seven touchdown passes. The Packers have been hit hard by injuries to its offensive skill players, as wide receiver Randall Cobb is out until the middle of December with a broken leg, tight end Jermichael Finley is out indefinitely with a spinal contusion and wideout James Jones has missed the last two games because of a sprained knee. Jones could possibly return tonight, but what the Packers have done during their winning streak is lean heavily on the running game. Green Bay is averaging more than 150 yards rushing per game during this streak and for the season is third in the NFL in rushing offense (141.4 ypg). The main engine has been rookie Eddie Lacy, who has 395 yards rushing over his last four games. He has gotten 22 or more carries in each of these contests and is averaging four yards per attempt. Lacy even got a helping hand from James Starks last week, who returned against Minnesota after missing the previous three games with a knee injury. Starks had seven carries for 57 yards and a touchdown, while Lacy went for 94 and a score in the 44-31 victory. The Packers have found something that works and there’s no reason to expect them to go away from that against a Bears defense that is giving up more than 117 yards rushing per game. Unlike past meetings, Rodgers doesn’t have to do it all against the Bears, which makes him and the Packers offense that much more dangerous.

Chicago Key Player: Matt Forté, RB
The Bears will miss having Jay Cutler under center tonight, but the real key to this offense is Forté. New head coach Marc Trestman keeps his No. 1 running back busy, as Forté is eight in the NFL in rushing yards (533) and entered Week 9 third at his position in receptions (35). Green Bay’s defense has done a very good job against the run thus far, ranking fourth in the league at 83.6 yards per game. However, Forté is much more than just a rusher and he needs to find a way to make plays tonight to not only help the offense move the ball down the field, but to make things easier on backup quarterback Josh McCown, who is making his first start since late in the 2011 season. Forté figures to be one busy Bear tonight, he also needs to be a productive one.

Green Bay Key Player: A.J. Hawk, LB
The Packers’ defense entered this game 11th in the NFL in yards allowed and 16th in points allowed. The unit has been very good against the run (4th, 83.6 ypg) and has been at its best during this current four-game winning streak. One of the reasons for their success has been the play of Hawk, who has stepped up his production in his eighth season in Green Bay. Hawk leads the team in tackles (59) by a wide margin and is tied for second with three sacks. He has posted double-digit stops in two of his last three games, which also is the amount of time his teammate, All-Pro Clay Matthews has missed with a broken thumb. Even though Hawk and company are facing Chicago backup quarterback Josh McCown tonight, they know that it won’t be easy, especially with the weapons the Bears have. It will be up to Hawk to take charge in stopping Matt Forté, both as a runner and a receiver, as well as protecting the middle of the field where McCown may look for one of his wide receivers or tight end Martellus Bennett. The Packers defense hasn’t missed a beat since Matthews went down and Hawk will try to maintain the status quo tonight.

Final Analysis

Even with Jay Cutler at quarterback, Chicago would have had its work cut out against a Green Bay team that is playing exceptionally well right now. Josh McCown will get some things done, but the Bears don’t have enough firepower to keep up with a balanced Packers offense that has rediscovered its running game.

In the end, the Packers hammer the Bears on the ground, which allows Aaron Rodgers to pick and choose his shots through the air. The Bears hang in there, but fall too far behind and can’t make enough stops on defense as the Packers extend their winning streak to five with a seventh straight victory over the Bears.

Green Bay 34, Chicago 23

Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Monday, November 4, 2013 - 15:30
Path: /johnson-firing-all-cylinders-texas-win

Something is beginning to look familiar about this NASCAR championship chase.

One season ago, Jimmie Johnson was engaged in a dogfight atop the Sprint Cup Series point standings and emerged from Texas with a seven-point lead over rival Brad Keselowski after a commanding 168 laps-led performance. The Hendrick Motorsports driver has a different adversary this year, but the results from a Sunday shootout in Texas were the same. In fact, they were even more impressive.

Johnson pulverized the field in the AAA Texas 500, leading 255 of 334 laps to snag his sixth win of the season and second of the Chase. In the process, the five-time champion leaves with an all-to-familiar seven-point advantage over his closest competitor, Matt Kenseth, who finished fourth.

Of course, last season Johnson lost his points lead the following week in Phoenix when a tire failed and he hit the wall. The ensuing 32nd-place finish found him 20 points behind Keselowski, a deficit he was not able to overcome.

“I hope history doesn’t repeat itself,” Johnson said.

Honestly, it’s hard to imagine that happening twice to a team as prepared — and successful — as the No. 48.

“We really focus on what it is we need to do,” crew chief Chad Knaus explained. “We can all say that Phoenix was the culprit last year why we didn’t win the championship. The fact of the matter is we had a mechanical problem at Homestead that took us out of it. If we had won Phoenix and went to Homestead and still had a mechanical problem, we’d have lost the championship.”

Regardless of whether history does or does not repeat itself, Johnson’s performance put the sport on high alert. Even a slow pit stop on lap 238 that dropped Johnson from the lead to fourth couldn’t derail his efforts. Within 20 laps he had driven back to the point.

Concurrently, a pit road mistake by Kenseth seriously hindered his cause. Penalized for speed entering the pits on lap 173, Kenseth dropped from second to 16th and spent the remainder of the race making up ground.

“I sped trying to be aggressive, which was all on me,” Kenseth said. “Still came back and got a top 5. The day could have been a lot worse. It was a good day for us, really.

“If I hadn’t messed up, maybe we could have finished second.”

Second; not first. That’s how clear it was that Johnson was in another zip code.

Runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr. and third-place Joey Logano said as much afterward.

“We had a fast enough car to keep track position, but the 48 was in another class and nobody had anything for him,” Earnhardt said.

“We can’t be disappointed with a third-place finish,” Logano said. “Just the 48 car was ridiculously fast.”

However, oftentimes in racing, the fastest car does not win. And that fact was not lost on Johnson:

“When you have a dominant car, it is so stressful because you’re just waiting for that thing that can get you, whatever it is. Chad said it once on the radio, ‘Just keep a positive mindset here, and things are going to work out.’ We did that. We stayed focused and got the job done.”

Even with last season’s championship defeat still fresh, don’t expect Johnson to consider this a knockout blow to a veteran such as Kenseth.

“At this point of the season if you’re in contention, you’ve got more pressure than you ever wanted — it’s just there,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if this puts any more (on Kenseth). They were able to get some points on us last week. We got some on them this week.”

And Kenseth, for his part, left with an optimistic outlook at the season’s final two events:

“The math works out if you win the last two races, so it’s still in our hands. It’s not like we have to have somebody have trouble. If we can go out there and outrun everybody for two weeks, we’ll just go with that mindset.

“We’re still in this thing after eight weeks and we’re going to try to get it.”

One more Texas-like performance out of Johnson and that math changes.

Follow Matt Taliaferro on Twitter: @MattTaliaferro
Photos by Action Sports, Inc.

Jimmie Johnson wins the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway and increases his lead in NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup to seven points over Matt Kenseth.
Post date: Monday, November 4, 2013 - 13:18