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Path: /college-football/big-12-2014-week-9-preview-and-predictions

The Big 12 probably needs this type of weekend. Not to take anything away from West Virginia visiting Oklahoma State — which could be a battle for first place — but this entire league needed to catch its breath after last weekend.


Forty percent of the Big 12 is off this weekend including both Baylor and Oklahoma, who will sit at home and lick their wounds. That still leaves the Mountaineers, Cowboys, Wildcats and Horned Frogs to jockey for the top spots in the standings.

Week 9 Previews and Predictions:
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Big 12 Week 9 Game Power Rankings


1. West Virginia (+1) at Oklahoma St
3:30 p.m., ESPN

It’s conceivable that the winner of this coaching grudge match will be alone in first place in the Big 12. If Texas knocks off Kansas State in Manhattan (stop laughing), the 4-1 winner between the rising Mountaineers and stumbling Pokes would be atop the league. Dana Holgorsen’s defense was fantastic last weekend against Baylor, holding the Bears to 318 total yards and 4.0 yards per play. Against TCU, Oklahoma State’s was not. Glenn Spencer’s young and struggling group gave up 676 yards and 8.2 yards per play in the 31-point loss. West Virginia is much better at home (21.5 ppg allowed) than it is away from Morgantown (34.7 ppg), so Mike Gundy’s offense will have to match Clint Trickett and Kevin White’s production if Oklahoma State wants to get the win at home. White has posted seven consecutive 100-yard games.


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2. Texas (+10) at Kansas St
Noon, ESPN

This has been a fascinating rivalry in the Big 12 over the years and this edition features some role reversal, as the Wildcats enter as the heavy favorites. Texas is 1-5 all-time in Manhattan but the Longhorns toppled KSU in Austin last year, breaking a five-game losing streak to the Cats. If Charlie Strong wants to make it two in a row, the Big 12’s top defense will have to play near-perfect football. Texas leads the Big 12 with 4.75 yards per play and 364.5 yards per game allowed in conference games. Meanwhile, Tyrone Swoopes, who is coming off back-to-back 300-yard games, will have to be effective against a KSU team that doesn’t beat itself. The Wildcats lead the Big 12 in turnovers lost (6) and penalties (3.7 per game). If Texas isn’t mistake free and physical on both sides of the ball, Jake Waters will simply will his team to victory. Waters has been brilliant this fall and is largely overlooked in the league despite leading all Big 12 QBs in rushing yards (371) and TDs (7) while ranking No. 2 in completion percentage (65.1) and passing efficiency (151.75).


3. Texas Tech (+22.5) at TCU
3:30 p.m., FOX

The Frogs are the highest-ranked team (No. 10) from the Big 12 and are a three-TD favorite to move to 6-1. And they are doing it running an offense that Kliff Kingsbury wishes he had in Lubbock. The wide-open spread attack led by Trevone Boykin — one that is averaging 537.7 yards per game and 6.46 yards per play — makes TCU one of the most balanced teams in the nation. Texas Tech’s 109th-rated defense should be no match for the Horned Frogs' surging offense and will be hard-pressed to match last year’s performance in which the Raiders held TCU to 10 points. Unless Tech tightens up on defense and irons out its undisciplined play — it ranks 127th in penalties (10.1/game) and 122nd in turnover margin (-8) — it should be another banner day for Gary Patterson. Let’s just hope the fans in Fort Worth show up to appreciate what their coach has done.


Off: Baylor, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Kansas


Big 12 Predictions:

 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
WVU (+1) at OSUWVU, 34-30WVU, 37-30WVU, 28-24WVU, 34-31
Texas (+10) at KSUKSU, 27-17KSU, 24-7KSU, 21-14KSU 30-20
T. Tech (+22.5) at TCUTCU, 45-21TCU, 37-24TCU, 42-21TCU 45-24
Last Week:3-23-24-13-2
Big 12 2014 Week 9 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2014-week-9-preview-and-predictions

It might not look like a marquee weekend in the Pac-12, as only one game will feature two ranked teams, but Week 9 could be one of the biggest of the season out West.


Contenders Oregon, USC, Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA are all on the road against teams more than capable of pulling an upset. Stanford and Washington are looking for home cooking to rebound after bad losses while Utah is hoping to continue its surge into the postseason.


Buckle up, Pac-12, this weekend is going to be fun.

Week 9 Previews and Predictions
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Pac-12 Week 9 Game Power Rankings


1. USC (-1) at Utah
10 p.m., FS1

Not only is this one of the most important games of the year in the Pac-12 South, it should also be one of the most intriguing matchups. According to , USC’s offense is the 11th most efficient unit in the nation. One look at Cody Kessler’s numbers should help support that argument — he’s second nationally with an 18:1 TD:INT ratio. According to the same opponent-adjusted metric, Utah’s defense also is the 11th most efficient unit in the nation. One look at the Utes’ disruptive plays confirms this as well — Utah ranks No. 1 nationally in sacks (33.0) and No. 3 in tackles for a loss (61.0). But while strength-on-strength is always fun for observers, the outcome could hinge on the Trojans' ability to stop Devontae Booker. After giving up 452 yards rushing in a loss to Boston College, USC’s defense held Oregon State, Arizona State and Arizona to 166 total yards on the ground. Booker has been downright impossible to stop over the last few weeks and his success on the ground will be critical for Utah, a team still using two quarterbacks. Lastly, Utah’s near-perfect special teams could be a deciding factor in a game featuring two evenly matched opponents.


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2. Arizona St (pk) at Washington
10:45 p.m., ESPN

The offensive-minded Sun Devils are flying high after an unexpected upset over Stanford last weekend. The defensively oriented Huskies limp back home from Eugene after yet another lopsided defeat to Oregon. Chris Petersen’s bunch will face yet another high-powered offense, regardless of who is under center for Todd Graham. Taylor Kelly expects to return to the starting lineup to face one of the more disruptive front sevens in the nation. Part of the reason Washington has lost two of its last three has been the lack of balance on offense. Cyler Miles isn’t asked to post big numbers through the air but has been extremely efficient (66.2%, 10 TD, 1 INT). To beat ASU, however, Miles will need support from his ground game that has been largely non-existent in Pac-12 play, averaging 108.3 yards per game and 2.9 yards per carry in three league contests.


3. Oregon (-17.5) at Cal
Fri., 10 p.m., FS1

The Ducks have won five straight over the Bears, including three consecutive blowouts. But Cal is much improved and the last time Oregon visited Berkeley with a national title on the line, the Bears nearly ended the Ducks' BCS National Championship Game hopes (Oregon eked out a 15-13 win) in 2010. Marcus Mariota has been downright filthy all season and his offensive supporting cast appears to be getting healthy. Sonny Dykes' team is improved but his defense has major issues, giving up more than 600 yards per game in five Pac-12 games. Bears QB Jared Goff has done an excellent job taking care of the football but will need to play the best game of his career to keep his porous defense off the field.


4. Arizona (-3) at Washington St
5 p.m., P12 Net

Mike Leach’s hopes for making a bowl game are fading rapidly and his defense is flat out terrible. However, the Cougars can put up yards and points and three close losses indicate they can play with most anyone on their schedule. Arizona comes to town after two weeks of prep following the painful home loss to USC. Anu Solomon is fourth nationally in passing (356.0 ypg) and should have plenty of space to distribute the football to his talented collection of receivers and backs. If Rich Rodriguez’ 3-3-5 defense — which has been excellent against spread offenses — can get a few stops, Zona should return home with a key road win.


5. Oregon St (+13.5) at Stanford
3:30 p.m., ESPN2

Both teams are coming off losses in which both head coaches were probably stunned. Oregon State lost in double overtime at home and has allowed over 200 yards rushing in two of its last three games. Stanford’s offense has been woeful all year (11th in Pac-12 in yards per game), but the defense struggled for the first time in the road loss to Arizona State, giving up a season-high 26 points. These are the two slowest teams in the Pac-12 on offense (seconds of possession per play, via ESPN) and both teams have struggled to put points on the board. The Cardinal have won four straight in the series and haven’t lost at home to the Beavers since 2006.


6. UCLA (-16.5) at Colorado
2 p.m., P12 Net

The Buffaloes have lost six straight Pac-12 games and 20 of their last 21. UCLA barely avoided a third consecutive loss against Cal last weekend in Berkeley. Both teams can move the ball, can score and have struggled mightily on defense. CU quarterback Sefo Luifau has been solid (290.0 ypg, 21 TD, 9 INT) but likely doesn’t have the supporting cast to knock off the more talented Bruins. As long as Brett Hundley doesn’t turn the ball over, UCLA should win easily.


Pac-12 Predictions:

 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
USC (-1.5) at UtahUtah, 27-24Utah, 26-22Utah, 21-14USC, 27-24
ASU (pk) at Wash.Wash., 30-28ASU, 31-30ASU, 31-21ASU, 30-27
Oregon (-17.5) at CalOre., 40-21Ore., 41-13Ore., 42-28Ore., 48-27
Zona (-3) at WazzuZona, 40-28Zona, 41-33Zona, 41-28Zona, 40-34
Ore. St (+13.5) at Stan.Stan., 20-14Stan., 24-20Stan., 17-14Stan., 27-17
UCLA (-16.5) at Colo.UCLA, 41-28UCLA, 33-6UCLA, 38-28UCLA, 41-27
Last Week:3-24-13-24-1


Pac-12 2014 Week 9 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/big-ten-2014-week-9-preview-and-predictions

The ninth week of the college football season presents a pair of intriguing coaching matchups — one will be the first matchup in a new coaching rivalry, the other likely is the final meeting.


In State College, two of the most aggressive recruiters in the country will face off in the first meeting between Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Penn State’s James Franklin. The two never crossed paths at their former jobs in the SEC as Meyer left Florida a year before Franklin landed at Vanderbilt.


No doubt, the winning coach will use this game as bragging rights as both schools try to recruit Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland.


The other coach matchup to watch will be in East Lansing. Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio has tried to avoid overt references to the Spartans’ dominance in the series with Michigan, but it’s clear Dantonio’s program relishes the shedding of the little brother tag. That, of course, is why this may be the final Michigan-Michigan State game for Brady Hoke.

Week 9 Previews and Predictions
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Big Ten Week 9 Game Power Rankings

All times Eastern. All games Saturday.


1. Ohio State at Penn State

8 p.m., ABC

In the four games since the loss to Virginia Tech, Ohio State looks every bit the dominant team the Buckeyes were expected to be with Braxton Miller at quarterback. Credit J.T. Barrett and his development. The redshirt freshman has led four consecutive 50-point performances or better, completing 71.7 percent of his passes for 9.75 yards per attempt with 17 touchdowns and an interception during that span. Penn State may be be the toughest test of the season for Barrett so far with the game on the road against an imposing front seven. Penn State is allowing two yards per carry, the best average in the country, so it will be interesting to see how Barrett fares if running back Ezekiel Elliott is not productive. While Barrett vs. the Penn State defense will be a fascinating matchup, the Ohio State defensive line vs. overmatched Penn State’s offensive line may be as big a mismatch as any this week.


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2. Michigan at Michigan State

3:30 p.m., ABC

Michigan State now has the clear upper hand in this in-state rivalry, and that doesn’t look to change this season. Michigan State has won five of the last six, with four of those wins coming by two touchdowns or more. A year ago, Michigan State sacked Michigan seven times and held the Wolverines to minus-48 rushing yards in Ann Arbor. This game could make a run at being as lopsided as Sparty’s 29-6 win in 2013. Michigan State rolled over Indiana last week for 330 rushing yards and five touchdowns despite the absence of injured starting center Jack Allen, who is . For all of Michigan’s struggles this season, the Wolverines are fifth in the country in yards allowed per carry (2.73 per rush).


3. Maryland at Wisconsin

Noon, Big Ten Network

The game may feature the Big Ten’s offensive player of the year (Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon) and defensive player of the year (Maryland’s William Likely). The pair are putting up wild numbers and will have plenty of chances to flourish. Gordon has rushed for 868 yards and nine touchdowns in his last four games. This week, he’ll be matched up with the No. 13 rush defense in the Big Ten. Likely has four interceptions this season, including his second pick six of the year last week against Iowa. Likely also has three tackles for a loss and a punt return for a touchdown. Like Gordon, Likely has a fortunate matchup. Wisconsin is in Tanner McEvoy and Joel Stave, who have combined to complete 54.9 percent of their passes with six touchdowns and eight interceptions. Maryland’s quarterback situation also will be worth watching as C.J. Brown has been all week as his backup, Caleb Rowe, was lost for the season to a torn ACL.


4. Rutgers at Nebraska

Noon, ESPN2

Welcome to the Big Ten, Rutgers. A week after a 56-17 loss to Ohio State in Columbus, the Scarlet Knights visit Nebraska. After that, Wisconsin visits Piscataway next week. Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah re-asserted his Heisman credentials with 146 yards and four touchdowns last week against Northwestern, but as much as Abdullah’s season deserves attention, don’t overlook the Nebraska D. The Cornhuskers are allowing 4.83 yards per play and 338.6 yards per game, both their best averages since 2010. 


5. Minnesota at Illinois


Minnesota needed a 52-yard field goal in the final five minutes to complete a 39-38 comeback win against Purdue last week. The Gophers are a surprising 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten. They have to be taken seriously as Big Ten West contenders, but their schedule will get tougher into November. They may not be able to afford many slip ups against teams like Purdue and Illinois. Prolific running back David Cobb continues to be the centerpiece of the Gophers’ offense, but the passing game has at least proved to be capable in conference games. The Gophers average only 18.7 passes in Big Ten play, but they are second in the league in pass efficiency in conference games.


Big Ten Week 9 Staff Picks


 David FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light

Minnesota (-6 1/2) at Illinois

Minn 28-10Minn 34-27Minn 34-24Min 30-20

Maryland at Wisconsin (-11)

Wisc 31-21Wisc 37-24Wisc 31-27Md 28-24

Rutgers at Nebraska (-17 1/2)

Neb 49-14Neb 41-20Neb 38-20Neb 31-17

Michigan at Michigan State (-17 1/2)

MSU 42-10MSU 41-10MSU 38-10MSU 34-13

Ohio State (-13 1/2) at Penn State

OSU 35-10OSU 31-14OSU 34-14OSU 23-6
Last Week5-04-14-15-0
This Season57-1855-2056-1952-24


Big Ten 2014 Week 9 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/acc-2014-week-9-preview-and-predictions

The ACC owned the spotlight last Saturday night, as the Florida State-Notre Dame matchup was one of the best - and highest viewed - games of the 2014 college football season.

This week, there’s a different flavor of games in the conference. Instead of a national spotlight matchup, Week 9’s games are all about finding clarity in a wide-open Coastal Division.

Virginia Tech hosts Miami on Thursday night, and the Hokies look to rebound after losing to Pittsburgh last week. Is this an elimination game in the Coastal?

Elsewhere, Georgia Tech heads to Pittsburgh after losing at North Carolina last Saturday. The Yellow Jackets have dropped two in a row after opening the year 5-0. Virginia hopes to keep pace with Duke for the No. 1 spot in the Coastal with a home date against North Carolina.

Boston College (against Wake Forest) and Clemson (versus Syracuse) should score easy wins on the Atlantic side this Saturday.

Week 9 Previews and Predictions:



ACC Week 9 Game Power Rankings

1. Miami (-2.5) at Virginia Tech
7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN (Thursday)

At the beginning of the season, this game was tagged as a potential showdown for first place in the Coastal. Fast forward to Week 9, and it’s simply a battle of two teams trying to stay alive in the division. Virginia Tech and Miami are just a combined 8-6 overall and 2-4 in ACC play. The Hokies desperately need a spark on offense, averaging just 4.8 yards per play and 24.7 points per game in ACC contests. Quarterback Michael Brewer has been inconsistent this season, but he hasn’t had much help from a young receiving corps, injured running backs and a struggling offensive line. Miami’s defense could be the good remedy for the Hokies’ offense, as the Hurricanes have struggled on this side of the ball recently and allow 4.5 yards per play. Helping Virginia Tech’s cause on Thursday night will be the return of running back Marshawn Williams, who should help coordinator Scot Loeffler find more overall balance in the gameplan. When Miami has the ball, expect running back Duke Johnson to test the Hokies’ defense. Johnson did not play in last year’s game but recorded 100 yards in 2012. Virginia Tech won’t have standout linebacker Chase Williams for this game, which is a concern for a defense that has allowed 335 rushing yards in its last two contests. Miami freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya ranks second in the ACC with 258 passing yards per game but has tossed six picks in three road games. The Hurricanes should have the edge on offense. But can Miami’s offense (16 turnovers in seven games) limit its mistakes in a tough road environment?

2. Georgia Tech at Pittsburgh (-4)
3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU

It sounds like a broken record, but this is a critical game for Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh for positioning with the Coastal Division. The Panthers took a step forward with a win over Virginia Tech last week and a victory over the Yellow Jackets would setup a huge showdown with Duke on Nov. 1. Georgia Tech started 5-0 but has lost two straight games. With a matchup against Clemson remaining, it’s critical the Yellow Jackets get back on track this week. Georgia Tech’s option offense – 306.3 yards per game on the ground – is a difficult matchup on a short week, but Pittsburgh has some extra time to prepare after playing on Thursday last week. The Panthers rank fifth in the ACC against the run but allowed 225 yards to Virginia on Oct. 4. Keep an eye on the ground attack on the other sideline, as Georgia Tech should expect a heavy dose of running back James Conner. The sophomore has not rushed for 100 yards in three games, but he recorded 5.3 yards per carry against the Hokies. He could find plenty of rushing lanes against the Yellow Jackets front seven, which is allowing 187.9 yards per game. Even though both teams want to establish the run, quarterback play is critical. Will it be Georgia Tech’s Justin Thomas or Pittsburgh’s Chad Voytik delivering in the clutch? In a tight game such as this, keep an eye on the turnover battle.


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3. North Carolina at Virginia (-6.5)

Noon ET, ACC Network

North Carolina snapped a four-game losing streak by defeating Georgia Tech 48-43 in Chapel Hill last Saturday. The Tar Heels – even at 1-2 in the ACC – aren’t out of the Coastal Division title picture. However, every Saturday is essentially a must-win game for coach Larry Fedora’s team. Virginia was picked at the bottom of the Coastal Division by most this preseason, but the Cavaliers are 2-1 in conference play and need to pickup a win on Saturday before a tough upcoming stretch of games: at Georgia Tech, at Florida State, Miami and at Virginia Tech. This matchup could simply come down to offense versus defense. North Carolina leads the ACC by averaging 38.7 points per game, while Virginia has allowed just 20 points per game in conference play. The Cavaliers also rank fourth in the ACC in sacks (22) and lead the conference with 19 takeaways. The Tar Heels need quarterback Marquise Williams to pickup through the air where he left off the last two weeks (693 yards and six scores), while taking advantage of his scrambling ability (4.9 ypc, 4 TDs). When Virginia has the ball, expect the Cavaliers to test a North Carolina defense ranked last in the ACC against the run. Running back Kevin Parks has 244 rushing yards over his last two games and should find plenty of room against the Tar Heels. Matt Johns has started the last three games at quarterback for Virginia, but Greyson Lambert could return this week.

4. Syracuse at Clemson (-14.5)
7 p.m. ET, ESPNU


Saturday is only the third time Syracuse and Clemson have met on the gridiron. And much like last season’s result (49-14), everything suggests another one-sided game is likely. The Orange snapped a four-game losing streak last week, defeating Wake Forest 30-7. But beating Wake Forest and winning on the road at Clemson is a different challenge. Syracuse is expected to turn to true freshman quarterback A.J. Long once again, which is a tough scenario for the first-year player, as Clemson is allowing just 4.4 yards per play and has held four of its seven opponents under 20 points in 2014. The Tigers are averaging under 30 points (29.6) in ACC play for the first time since 2010. Cole Stoudt is back under center with Deshaun Watson nursing a hand injury, and the senior played well in last week’s win over Boston College (29 of 45, 285 yards). Clemson’s defense – led by an aggressive front seven and defensive end Vic Beasley – should be able to keep in check Syracuse’s offense (22.6 ppg), allowing Stoudt to turn in its second solid start and guide the Tigers to an easy win.

5. Boston College (-12) at Wake Forest
3:30 p.m. ET, RSN/ESPN3

Both teams enter Saturday’s matchup looking to rebound after losses in Week 8. Boston College nearly upset Clemson, falling 17-13 after its last drive fell short of the goal line. Wake Forest jumped out to a 7-0 lead against Syracuse, but the Demon Deacons lost quarterback John Wolford to injury and gave up 30 unanswered points in a 30-7 loss. Getting consistent production from the offense has been a challenge for Wake Forest’s first-year coach Dave Clawson. But the strength of this team is on defense, as the Demon Deacons are allowing 4.9 yards per play and has 53 tackles for a loss so far this year. Boston College’s rushing offense presents an interesting challenge for Wake Forest, as quarterback Tyler Murphy leads the team with 766 yards and is a dangerous runner on option reads. And Murphy has plenty of help, as three other players have recorded at least 225 yards this year. Statistically, the Demon Deacons are allowing 175.1 rushing yards per game. However, eliminate the game against Army (341), and the total allowed per game becomes more respectable (3.8 ypc, 147.5 ypg). Wake Forest’s defense can keep it in this game, but Boston College has an edge in the trenches and offensive playmakers. 


ACC Week 9 Predictions

Miami (+2.5) at VTVT 24-14VT 23-21VT 24-23VT 24-20
Ga. Tech (+4) at PittGT 28-21GT 34-33Pitt 34-31Pitt 31-24
UNC (+6.5) at VirginiaUVa 35-28UVa 30-24UVa 31-27UVa 33-27
Cuse (+14.5) at ClemsonCU 41-14CU 30-13CU 40-17CU 41-24
BC (-12) at Wake BC 35-14BC 30-13BC 31-13BC 30-10
Last Week:3-46-15-24-3
Season Record:56-1959-1661-1458-17


ACC Week 9 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /nascar/nascar-rookie-report-ranking-six-remaining-cup-series-roy-candidates

Welcome to the Athlon Rookie Report, where each week David Smith will evaluate the deepest crop of new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series talent since 2006. The Report will include twice-monthly rankings, in-depth analysis, Q&A sessions with the drivers and more.


Today, David attempts to isolate each rookie from his team and equipment and properly rank the driving chops of each member of this year’s rookie class.



With four races remaining in the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, our ongoing ranking of this year’s rookies becomes clearer:


1. Kyle Larson, No. 42 (previous ranking: 1)

Larson does a lot of things well, but his restarts have been polarizing this entire season, especially in specific spurts. In the six Chase races — and mind you, his 6.0-place average finish during that span is the second-best in the series, trailing only Joey Logano’s 4.2 — his veteran-like restarting ability from the preferred groove has been on full display. Across 19 restarts from the more desired of the two grooves within the first seven rows, he retained his position 18 times (a 94.7 percent retention clip) and gained 31 spots. Conversely, his results from the non-preferred groove couldn’t conceivably have been much worse. Across an equal 19 attempts, he kept his spot just seven times (a 36.8 percent retention rate) and lost a total of 27 positions. While it’s clear that Larson is a world-beater once he finds a drivable groove, this six-race snapshot indicates an area of improvement — situations in which he doesn’t get his lane of choice — for the driver most likely to be named this season’s Rookie of the Year.



2. Austin Dillon, No. 3 (previous: 2)

If Larson’s restart tendencies seem in line with what’s expected — drivers restart better in the preferred groove than they do in the non-preferred — then Dillon’s own restart habits are out of whack, at least across the last six races. This snapshot shows us a driver who has been more efficient from the non-preferred groove as of late, out-retaining his preferred-groove attempts by almost 17 percent. Across 14 restarts from the non-preferred groove, he held his position seven times (50 percent), while his preferred-groove efforts netted just three restarts out of nine in which positions were retained (33.3 percent). This doesn’t reflect his yearlong restart efforts, though. For the season, those numbers are somewhat flipped — he holds a 53.9 percent retention rate from the preferred groove, while maintaining his restart position 39.4 percent of the time from the non-preferred.



3. Cole Whitt, No. 26 (previous: 4)

At Talladega, Whitt led the first lap of his Cup Series career and scored a 15th-place finish, displaying the kind of closing kick that he and crew chief Randy Cox have become known for in 2014. Their nine-position gain in the final 10 percent of Sunday’s race was just a drop in the bucket of their season-long closing efforts. Their 93.1 percent position retention in the red zone — the laps spanning a race’s 10 percent-to-go mark until its conclusion — is the best among all series regulars. Whitt and Cox are, through 32 races, the most reliable closers in Cup.



4. Justin Allgaier, No. 51 (previous: 3)

Things were looking up for Allgaier and his HScott Motorsports team, fresh off of their best finish of the 2014 season — a 15th-place result at Charlotte — until qualifying at Talladega provided a hurdle not cleared for them and the team of 2013 Rookie of the Year Ricky Stenhouse. Both failed to qualify, and the blame for that has been incorrectly deflected.


Consider this an aside to the Rookie Report rankings this week: The unique, one-time-only qualifying format last weekend at Talladega was improperly blamed for two series regulars missing the show. One legendary driver and a notable team owner criticized NASCAR for the confusion of the format; however, they did themselves no favors by revealing their cheated feelings to be an effect of never understanding the rules correctly in the first place.


Jeff Gordon, who qualified into the race via a provisional starting spot and led the epically slow qualifying draft that included Stenhouse and Allgaier, admitted via Twitter that he’d “never been so … confused trying to qualify for a race,” while Jack Roush, Stenhouse’s owner, that he “didn’t consider the fact that our position in points would leave us in jeopardy. That was a blind side on my part … It’s just unbelievable that we didn’t get on the racetrack in time to get a lap there.”


It’s true: A number of teams failed to comprehend what the condensed timeframe for qualifying meant, even though the memo NASCAR sent to competitors stating the rule was sent in September, weeks in advance of the race (that’s when the media types like myself also received a copy). Teams, including Gordon’s and Stenhouse’s, bizarrely waited until the clock ticked down before making an initial run instead of getting in as many laps as possible (and note that in final practice, all but one of 21 cars that took time recorded their fastest lap of the session after their second lap; more time on the track would seemingly produce more chances at an optimum lap for an impound event).


As for Roush’s overall ambivalence toward his team’s position in the point standings, let’s just chalk that up to actions unbefitting of a would-be Hall-of-Fame team owner. The top six teams in points — and only those six — being guaranteed starting spots was a rule put into place before this season began. It’s the second mishandling of race entrance in as many weeks for Roush, who didn’t procure points from a fellow Ford team (i.e. It could have borrowed the car number and corresponding points from Wood Brothers Racing or FAS Lane Racing) and, instead, watched Trevor Bayne fail to make the Charlotte race behind the wheel of its No. 6 entry.


For several competitors, failure to fully understand a new rule dictating competition was an embarrassment. For Allgaier, it cost him a race he could have used for his own continued assimilation into NASCAR’s most cutthroat division.



5. Michael Annett, No. 7 (previous: 5)

Annett is a graduate of the ARCA Series, where he claimed victories at Talladega in 2007 and Daytona in 2008. Those wins were easy to remember after his showing on Sunday, which was arguably his best of the season, though the accident during the first green-white-checker attempt derailed his chance of a finish worthy of the effort. It was the first race of his young Cup Series career in which he spent the majority of his completed laps (51 percent) running inside the top 15. He also somehow tallied the third-highest green-flag pass total (635) in a car that lacked the lane-to-lane maneuverability of machines built by Hendrick, Penske or JGR.



6. Alex Bowman, No. 23 (previous: 6)

Bowman and BK Racing could’ve used a good run at Talladega; however, he was one of just 13 drivers to spend less than 10 percent of his laps inside the top 15, his best running position (ninth) was the third-worst among all 43 drivers and his collection in the 10-car accident on lap 104 ended his afternoon, saddling him with a 43rd-place (last place) finish. For all the randomness that restrictor plate races provide, the four point-paying races only sort of bounced Bowman’s way, his best outing being the attrition-filled July race at Daytona wherein he finished a season-best 13th. He averaged a 26.8-place finish on plate tracks this season, a 5.6-position improvement over his season-long 32.4-place average.



David Smith is the founder of and the creator of NASCAR statistics for projection, analysis and scouting. Follow him on Twitter at


Photo by Action Sports, Inc.

David Smith ranks the six-driver field in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' rookie of the year race.
Post date: Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 08:16
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-quarterback-rankings-week-8

Peyton Manning not only laid claim to another record, he also holds the No. 1 spot in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings for Week 8. With four touchdown passes in Denver’s convincing win over San Francisco, Manning passed Brett Favre’s 508 career touchdown pass total, a number he’s likely to put completely out of reach before he retires. Manning and the Broncos have a short turnaround this week with Philip Rivers and the Chargers on tap for Thursday night. Meanwhile, no quarterback has been hotter recently than Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay has won its past four games by an average of 19.3 points, as Rodgers has looked the part of an MVP candidate: 71 percent completion rate, 977 yards, 13 TDs and no interceptions. Rodgers will look to continue his hot streak when he goes head-to-head against Drew Brees and the Saints in the Superdome on Sunday night.


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


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks


Teams on bye: New York Giants, San Francisco


1Peyton ManningDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
2Aaron RodgersGBat NO
3Andrew LuckINDat PIT
4Drew BreesNOvs. GB
5Russell WilsonSEAat CAR
6Philip RiversSDat DEN (Thurs.)
7Tom BradyNEvs. CHI
8Tony RomoDALvs. WAS (Mon.)
9Jay CutlerCHIat NE
10Nick FolesPHIat ARI
11Carson PalmerARIvs. PHI
12Matthew StaffordDETvs. ATL (London)
13Cam NewtonCARvs. SEA
14Ryan TannehillMIAat JAC
15Matt RyanATLvs. DET (London)
16Alex SmithKCvs. STL
17Joe FlaccoBALat CIN
18Ben RoethlisbergerPITvs. IND
19Kyle OrtonBUFat NYJ
20Andy DaltonCINvs. BAL
21Mike GlennonTBvs. MIN
22Austin DavisSTLat KC
23Teddy BridgewaterMINat TB
24Brian HoyerCLEvs. OAK
25Geno SmithNYJvs. BUF
26Ryan FitzpatrickHOUat TEN

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


Need more fantasy help? Visit .

Fantasy Football 2014 Quarterback Rankings: Week 8
Post date: Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-running-back-rankings-week-8

No surprise that DeMarco Murray continues to lead the way in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings for Week 8. Not only is Murray leading the NFL in rushing by nearly 300 yards, he also is the first player in history to post seven straight 100-yard games to start the season. Murray faces an interesting test Monday night against a Washington defense that’s been pretty good against the run. Meanwhile, last year’s rushing champion, LeSean McCoy, finally broke through in a big way two weeks ago with 149 yards rushing against the Giants. McCoy should be fresh coming off of a bye, but he must head out West for a showdown against Arizona’s stingy defense. The Cardinals are No. 1 in the league in rushing defense and in terms of fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing RBs. McCoy’s a must-start player, but he barely made our top 10 because of this matchup.


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


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs


Teams on bye: New York Giants, San Francisco


1DeMarco MurrayDALvs. WAS (Mon.)
2Matt ForteCHIat NE
3Marshawn LynchSEAat CAR
4Arian FosterHOUat TEN
5Jamaal CharlesKCvs. STL
6Le'Veon BellPITvs. IND
7Andre EllingtonARIvs. PHI
8Lamar MillerMIAat JAC
9LeSean McCoyPHIat ARI
10Eddie LacyGBat NO
11Justin ForsettBALat CIN
12Ben TateCLEvs. OAK
13Giovani BernardCINvs. BAL
14Joique BellDETvs. ATL (London)
15Ahmad BradshawINDat PIT
16Branden OliverSDat DEN (Thurs.)
17Shane VereenNEvs. CHI
18Ronnie HillmanDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
19Alfred MorrisWASat DAL (Mon.)
20Jerick McKinnonMINat TB
21Chris IvoryNYJvs. BUF
22Mark IngramNOvs. GB
23Doug MartinTBvs. MIN
24Tre MasonSTLat KC
25Darren McFaddenOAKat CLE
26Reggie BushDETvs. ATL (London)
27Bishop SankeyTENvs. HOU
28Anthony DixonBUFat NYJ
29Denard RobinsonJACvs. MIA
30Trent RichardsonINDat PIT
31Steven JacksonATLvs. DET (London)
32Isaiah CrowellCLEvs. OAK
33Jonathan StewartCARvs. SEA
34Darren SprolesPHIat ARI
35Khiry RobinsonNOvs. GB
36Bernard PierceBALat CIN
37Bobby RaineyTBvs. MIN
38James StarksGBat NO
39Bryce BrownBUFat NYJ
40Benny CunninghamSTLat KC
41Jeremy HillCINvs. BAL
42Chris JohnsonNYJvs. BUF
43Knile DavisKCvs. STL
44Matt AsiataMINat TB
45Travaris CadetNOvs. GB
46Stepfan TaylorARIvs. PHI
47Zac StacySTLat KC
48Alfred BlueHOUat TEN

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


Need more fantasy help? Visit .

Fantasy Football 2014 Running Back Rankings: Week 8
Post date: Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-wide-receiver-rankings-week-8

Demaryius Thomas isn’t leading his position in fantasy points, but no one has been more productive recently, which is why he leads off Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings for Week 8. Besides helping teammate Peyton Manning make history on Sunday night, Thomas has caught five touchdown passes in the last three games alone while scoring a total of 95.1 fantasy points (Athlon scoring) during that span. In other WR news, the hope is that A.J. Green will be back after missing the past two games with a toe injury. Our No. 9 ranking shows that we share in this optimism, but this is definitely a situation to keep an eye on as the week progresses. The outlook isn’t as promising, however, as it relates to Calvin Johnson. Megatron did return to practice this week, which is a good sign, but with Detroit’s bye on the horizon there’s really no reason to rush him back for Sunday’s game in London against Atlanta. Especially considering how well Golden Tate has played in Johnson’s absence. In the last four games, Tate has put up Megatron-esque numbers (32 rec., 448 yds., 2 TDs), which is why he checks in at No. 7 this week.


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


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers


Teams on bye: New York Giants, San Francisco


1Demaryius ThomasDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
2Jordy NelsonGBat NO
3Dez BryantDALvs. WAS (Mon.)
4Antonio BrownPITvs. IND
5Randall CobbGBat NO
6Jeremy MaclinPHIat ARI
7Golden TateDETvs. ATL (London)
8Julio JonesATLvs. DET (London)
9A.J. GreenCINvs. BAL
10T.Y. HiltonINDat PIT
11Mike WallaceMIAat JAC
12Emmanuel SandersDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
13Brandon MarshallCHIat NE
14Julian EdelmanNEvs. CHI
15Alshon JefferyCHIat NE
16Steve SmithBALat CIN
17Andre JohnsonHOUat TEN
18Vincent JacksonTBvs. MIN
19Michael FloydARIvs. PHI
20Kelvin BenjaminCARvs. SEA
21Sammy WatkinsBUFat NYJ
22DeSean JacksonWASat DAL (Mon.)
23Pierre GarconWASat DAL (Mon.)
24Terrance WilliamsDALvs. WAS (Mon.)
25Doug BaldwinSEAat CAR
26Roddy WhiteATLvs. DET (London)
27Marques ColstonNOvs. GB
28DeAndre HopkinsHOUat TEN
29Keenan AllenSDat DEN (Thurs.)
30Larry FitzgeraldARIvs. PHI
31Percy HarvinNYJvs. BUF
32Torrey SmithBALat CIN
33Brandin CooksNOvs. GB
34Eric DeckerNYJvs. BUF
35Kendall WrightTENvs. HOU
36Brian QuickSTLat KC
37Mohamed SanuCINvs. BAL
38Wes WelkerDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
39James JonesOAKat CLE
40Andre HolmesOAKat CLE
41Dwayne BoweKCvs. STL
42Cecil ShortsJACvs. MIA
43Greg JenningsMINat TB
44Mike EvansTBvs. MIN
45Justin HunterTENvs. HOU
46Cordarrelle PattersonMINat TB
47Brandon LaFellNEvs. CHI
48Malcom FloydSDat DEN (Thurs.)

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:                                            

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


Need more fantasy help? Visit 

Fantasy Football 2014 Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 8
Post date: Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-tight-end-rankings-week-8

Julius Thomas didn’t catch a touchdown pass for the first game this season, but that’s not enough to knock him from his perch atop Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 8. As good as Thomas has been, however, Greg Olsen currently leads TEs in fantasy points. Thomas’ nine touchdown grabs are still pacing not only his position, but the entire NFL, while perennial fantasy stud Antonio Gates isn’t too far behind with seven. Injuries also continue to be a factor. Jimmy Graham’s sprained shoulder didn’t prevent him from playing last week, but he was nothing more than a decoy (2 targets, 0 catches) in the Saints’ loss to the Lions. Now Graham owners must decide whether to take their chances on starting him this week or look elsewhere.


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


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends


Teams on bye: New York Giants, San Francisco


1Julius ThomasDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
2Rob GronkowskiNEvs. CHI
3Greg OlsenCARvs. SEA
4Martellus BennettCHIat NE
5Antonio GatesSDat DEN (Thurs.)
6Jimmy GrahamNOvs. GB
7Delanie WalkerTENvs. HOU
8Jordan ReedWASat DAL (Mon.)
9Travis KelceKCvs. STL
10Dwayne AllenINDat PIT
11Zach ErtzPHIat ARI
12Jordan CameronCLEvs. OAK
13Owen DanielsBALat CIN
14Jason WittenDALvs. WAS (Mon.)
15Charles ClayMIAat JAC
16Heath MillerPITvs. IND
17Coby FleenerINDat PIT
18Jared CookSTLat KC
19Clay HarborJACvs. MIA
20Jace AmaroNYJvs. BUF
21Scott ChandlerBUFat NYJ
22Austin Seferian-JenkinsTBvs. MIN
23Niles PaulWASat DAL (Mon.)
24Jermaine GreshamCINvs. BAL

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


Need more fantasy help? Visit 

Fantasy Football 2014 Tight End Rankings: Week 8
Post date: Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-8

Sometimes it’s all about matchups and that’s definitely the case here as it relates to Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings for Week 8. For the season, Miami’s DST Is averaging 10.2 fantasy points (Athlon scoring), which places the Dolphins seventh. Jacksonville has allowed the most sacks in the NFL and is giving up 15.1 fantasy points per game to opposing DSTs. Sometimes it really is that simple. If Miami isn’t to your liking or is unavailable in your league perhaps Indianapolis’ DST would interest you? The Colts may have Andrew Luck, but this defense is coming off of a shutout of the Bengals and has posted double-digit fantasy points in each of their past five games. Indy also is one spot ahead of Miami in terms of fantasy points per game (10.9) on the season.


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


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams


Teams on bye: New York Giants, San Francisco


1Miami Dolphinsat JAC
2Detroit Lionsvs. ATL (London)
3Buffalo Billsat NYJ
4Houston Texansat TEN
5Dallas Cowboysvs. WAS (Mon.)
6New England Patriotsvs. CHI
7Kansas City Chiefsvs. STL
8Baltimore Ravensat CIN
9Denver Broncosvs. SD (Thurs.)
10Indianapolis Coltsat PIT
11Philadelphia Eaglesat ARI
12Seattle Seahawksat CAR
13Arizona Cardinalsvs. PHI
14Cleveland Brownsvs. OAK
15Cincinnati Bengalsvs. BAL
16Tampa Bay Buccaneersvs. MIN

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


Need more fantasy help? Visit 

Fantasy Football 2014 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 8
Post date: Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-kicker-rankings-week-8

Stephen Gostkowski continues to lead the way in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings for Week 8, but a rookie out West also has made an impact with his leg. Chandler Catanzaro has rewarded the faith Arizona showed in the undrafted rookie from Clemson. The Cardinals cut veteran Jay Feely late in training camp, handing the starting kicking job to Catanzaro and all he’s done is go 11-for-11 on extra points and 15-for-15 on field goals, including six-for-six from 40 yards and out. He’s a top 10 fantasy kicker right now and don’t forget that unlike some of the others ahead of him, Catanzaro has played one less game because of a bye.


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


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers


Teams on bye: New York Giants, San Francisco


1Stephen GostkowskiNEvs. CHI
2Dan BaileyDALvs. WAS (Mon.)
3Adam VinatieriINDat PIT
4Chandler CatanzaroARIvs. PHI
5Justin TuckerBALat CIN
6Brandon McManusDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
7Cody ParkeyPHIat ARI
8Steven HauschkaSEAat CAR
9Nick NovakSDat DEN (Thurs.)
10Blair WalshMINat TB
11Mason CrosbyGBat NO
12Dan CarpenterBUFat NYJ
13Shaun SuishamPITvs. IND
14Robbie GouldCHIat NE
15Caleb SturgisMIAat JAC
16Matt BryantATLvs. DET (London)

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Fantasy Football 2014 Kicker Rankings: Week 8
Post date: Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Golf, Overtime
Path: /golf/72-funny-fantasy-golf-team-names

It's time to dust off the dumb, dirty and/or tasteless puns and come up with a team name. Here’s our list for 2015, in no particular order of awesomeness.


Weapons of Grass Destruction
This reference worked a little better in 2002.


21 Graemes

Never saw the movie on which this is based, but it was supposed to be good.


Putt Pirates
Sure to induce a few giggles at the draft table.

Tiger’s Wood
This one’s almost too obvious.

Tiagra Woods
Now we’re talking. That’s pretty creative.


Jagged Little Phil

Nothing like an ironic Alanis Morrissette reference for your fantasy golf league.


The Fore Horsemen
The “fore” genre provides a deep well of name choices. Some of them are pretty crude. Use your imagination.

Dimpled Balls
The ball genre is fertile ground for your golf fantasy team name. And for cheap laughs.

No. 1 Balls in Golf
Maybe your team could get a Titleist sponsorship.

Dude, Where’s My Par?
Nice. Golf clap for that one.

Sultans of Swing
Nothing says golf like a late 1970s Dire Straits reference.

Fairway to Heaven
Going even further into the music archives. Can’t go wrong with classic Zep.


Sure, it’s stolen from that talking baby commercial. But it’s still solid.


Grip It and Sip It
Could be a good slogan for John Daly's new cocktail, which actually exists.


The Swinging Johnsons
What? We’re just talking about Dustin and Zach.


A Shingo Ate My Baby
Sure, Shingo Katayama's an obscure player, but his name's worth its weight in fantasy golf gold.

Cinderella Boys
Caddyshack references always work.

Shooter McGavin
Ditto for Happy Gilmore references.

Working on my Putz
No comment.


Brandt Awareness or The Grateful Sned
Brandt Snedeker's name brings fantasy possibilities. 


May the Schwartzel Be With You
A Spaceballs reference combined with a Masters champ equals fantasy gem.


Bring Me the Head of Sergio Garcia

Another obscure movie reference, but works for the Sergio haters out there.


Ground Control to Captain Tom

Consider this a sick burn of Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson.


Fists of Furyk


Keegan and Sara


on Toast

Billy Ho's Before Bros


The Bohn Identity

Terminator 2: Jason Day

Choi Story


John Daly's Pants

Everything but the Stewart Cink


Cink or Swim

Weir Science

From Jerry Kelly to Justin Rose

Matt Every Little Thing

Return to Senden

DeLaet Gratification

Back to the Kuchar

Breaking Baddeley

Tee Party

Angry Birdies

Multiple Fore-gasms

Don't Rory Be Happy

I Like Big Putts and I Cannot Lie

The Poulter-geists

Miss Daisy

Bring in Da Fred Funk

Party of Fore

Guest Vijays

Couples Therapy

Dr. Vijay's Antler Spray

Long Putters

Puff Caddie

Where's Faldo

Thorbjorn Free

Oh Henrik

Jonas Blixt Brothers

The Bogey Men

The DrawShank Redemptions

Who's Your Caddy

Droppin' A Deuce

The Ball Washers

The Long Balls

The Happy Hookers

The Strokers

The Wedgies


Brandel's Hair
Gretzky's Grandkid



Post date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 17:49
Path: /college-football/why-florida-and-michigan-might-have-trouble-making-big-hire

Rejection stings. When the time comes for Florida and Michigan to hire new football coaches, the two college football powers may find out how much.


The Gators’ Will Muschamp and the Wolverines’ Brady Hoke remain employed today, but both of their fates are all but sealed. The two fourth-year coaches who entered the season under pressure to win now, have not.


Florida lost 42-13 to Missouri on Saturday to fall to 7-11 overall and 5-8 in the SEC since last season. Michigan defeated Penn State two weeks ago, but Hoke remains the first coach in school history to lose three games before Oct. 1.


By December or earlier, both programs will be looking for new coaches, but finding the perfect answer will be tough.


Hiring the right coach for a power program is hard, and these two programs know as much as any. Since 2003, Florida and Michigan have made more questionable hires (Ron Zook, Rich Rodriguez, Hoke and Muschamp) than successful ones (Urban Meyer).


Finding an elite coach in 2014 may be tougher than ever, especially if Florida and Michigan are not able to land high-profile, popular candidates. The next tier beyond the dream candidates for fans — Dan Mullen and Jim Harbaugh — is a thin and somewhat unproven group.


Here’s why Florida and Michigan may be in trouble when trying to fill the most important pair of headsets:


The coaching talent pool has dried up


Arguably, coaching across the board is better than it’s been in a long time. Spread coaches have changed the dynamic from coast to coast. So how can the talent pool be dry? 


Coaching acumen across the board may be high, but so are coaching moves. In 2013, 25.2 percent of schools had head coaching turnover. In 2012, the rate was 22.5 percent. Generally, fewer than 20 percent of FBS programs hire new coaches in a given year. Back-to-back seasons of that kind of turnover hasn’t been seen in 40 years.


In other words, many head coaching upstarts have already moved into their new jobs. Meanwhile, the pool of second-tier or lower-tier coaches that would be candidates at programs like Florida or Michigan haven’t had an opportunity to build lengthy track records.


The most likely candidates to move up are staying put


Think about it: In general, Coach X who takes teams like Baylor, Utah, TCU or Boise State to major bowls would be on a fast track to a big-time job. That’s what Urban Meyer did when he left for Florida. Meyer’s successor, Kyle Whittingham, also took Utah to a BCS bowl but stayed put with the Utes (more on him later). 


Coaches like Art Briles at Baylor and Gary Patterson at TCU might not be contenders for the Florida or Michigan jobs to begin with, but for one reason or another, they didn’t take (Briles) or contend for (Patterson) the Texas job that opened a year ago.


Boise State’s Chris Petersen could have had any number of open jobs since leading Boise State to a pair of BCS games. He can only fill one of those, and he picked Washington this season.


...or typical candidates to move up have been there, done that


Again, Coach X who wins a Fiesta Bowl at UCF would generally generally a contender for a major job. Not so if that coach is a 68-year-old George O’Leary who previously was the coach at Georgia Tech and has plenty of baggage.


Even the Cincinnati job, which has been a stepping stone in the past, doesn’t have an intriguing young candidate. Mark Dantonio (Michigan State), Brian Kelly (Notre Dame) and Butch Jones (Tennessee) all turned the Cincinnati gig into major conference jobs. Cincinnati’s coach, Tommy Tuberville, already has been the head coach at Ole Miss, Auburn and Texas Tech.


Louisville has sent two of its last three coaches to the NFL (Bobby Petrino) and Texas (Charlie Strong). Now, Petrino is back, and his viability — and interest — for another job may be a matter of debate.


Good jobs are better


Why hasn’t Briles left Baylor? Two words: McLane Stadium. Surely, that’s not the only reason Briles isn’t the coach at Texas or anywhere other than Waco, but it doesn’t hurt. Facilities upgrades and other investments in football programs have turned good jobs or mediocre jobs into better ones.


Patterson rarely entertained jobs when TCU was in the Mountain West, though he did refute a report linking him to the Kansas State position in 2008. TCU also has a Big 12 affiliation that wasn’t on the radar six years ago.


For Mullen at Mississippi State, the Bulldogs are doing their part to keep up in the facilities arms race. They opened a $25 million football facility in January 2013. Ole Miss completed a renovation and expansion of its 10-year-old football facility in spring.


The College Football Playoff also opens up championship possibilities simply by doubling the field from two to four. The BCS standings aren’t a perfect indicator of what the selection committee might do, but it’s worth noting the following programs have been ranked in the top four of the BCS in just the last five seasons: Michigan State, South Carolina, Oklahoma State, Stanford (twice), Cincinnati and TCU (twice).


The notion that certain (Power 5) programs can’t play for a national championship doesn’t hold true as much as it once did. In other words, the coaches at Michigan State and Stanford don’t have to leave to be able to win a title.


Realignment casts doubt on would-be candidates


Utah’s Whittingham and West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen have seen their records take a hit due to realignment. Around 2010, Whittingham had the record of a coach who would follow in the footsteps of his old boss, Meyer, when he went 33-6 during a three-year span that included an undefeated season in 2008. Since then, his team is 11-19 in its first three seasons in the Pac-12 with one bowl appearance in four years.


Holgorsen was a hotshot offensive coordinator when he took over at West Virginia, winning the Big East and the Orange Bowl in 2011. The Mountaineers went 6-12 in their first two seasons in the Big 12.


Coordinators are playing the waiting game


How many times have Alabama’s Kirby Smart, Michigan State’s Pat Narduzzi and Clemson’s Chad Morris appeared on candidate lists for head coaching jobs in the last few seasons? Yet every time they stay put.


Thanks to rising salaries, the best assistants can make head coach money while remaining a coordinator. Smart and Morris both make in excess of $1.1 million. Narduzzi makes more than $900,000.


Top assistants can be choosy with head coaching jobs, but that also means they will be unproven if their first gigs end up at a power program. Bob Stoops, Mark Richt and Jimbo Fisher were first-time head coaches when they landed at their current jobs, but so were Will Muschamp, Ron Zook, Charlie Weis and Mike Shula.


When Florida and Michigan officially enter the market for a new coach, who knows? Perhaps they’ll make that clear, slam dunk hire and all of this will be moot. But at the same time, fans expecting the perfect candidate from Day One may end up disappointed.

Why Florida and Michigan Might Have Trouble Making the Big Hire
Post date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 15:44
Path: /college-football/miami-and-virginia-tech-face-potential-elimination-game-coastal-division-thursday

The ACC Coastal is the biggest mystery among the Power 5 conferences heading into Week 9. Sure, there is some uncertainty in the other conferences, but the Coastal features seven teams that still have a chance to win the division. No other league features that much uncertainty.

Considering the overall mysterious nature of the Coastal, Thursday night’s Virginia Tech-Miami game is just one of several key contests remaining this year. But is it fair to call this an elimination game?

Virginia Tech lost last week against Pittsburgh, dropping its record in ACC play to 1-2. The Hokies play their next two (Miami, Boston College) at home, before making road trips to Duke and Wake Forest and then returning for the finale in Blacksburg against in-state rival Virginia.

Frank Beamer’s team has won four out of the last five against Miami, with the Hurricanes' last victory in that span coming in 2012.

The recent trend in this series favors the Hokies, but this team has to find a spark on offense after managing only 291 yards and converting only 2 of 14 third-down attempts in last week’s loss to Pittsburgh.

Virginia Tech’s offense will have some much-needed help on the ground with the return of freshman running back Marshawn Williams, who missed last week’s game due to an ankle injury.

With two losses in conference play, every week has to be a must-win situation for the Hokies. And looking at the upcoming schedule, it’s easy to see why Beamer’s team needs this one to stay alive in the Coastal. A loss to Miami would put Virginia Tech at 1-3 in the conference, with a road trip against Duke (the likely favorite at this point) still ahead. A 4-4 champion of the Coastal Division isn’t out of the question, but if you assume the Hokies will be underdogs (and lose) against the Blue Devils, there’s no margin for error the rest of the way. Finishing 5-3 at least gives them a shot to win the division.

There’s a similar theme on the Miami sideline. The Hurricanes also stand at 1-2 in conference play but their schedule is more challenging than Virginia Tech’s.

Miami still has to play defending national champion Florida State, a team the Hurricanes have defeated only once since 2008.

Assuming the Hurricanes lose the matchup against the Seminoles, that’s three losses in conference play. And Al Golden’s team still has to play at Virginia and hosts Pittsburgh in the regular-season finale.

Freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya is off to a promising start, and running back Duke Johnson is one of the best players in the ACC. But despite the potential on offense, the defense has struggled once again in Miami's losses. The Hurricanes allowed over 300 rushing yards in games against Nebraska and Georgia Tech.

Considering a loss against Florida State is likely, with a tough road trip to Virginia, Miami also has zero margin for error the rest of the way.

As we mentioned earlier, the Coastal is up for grabs and a 4-4 or 5-3 champion is still very possible.

So while it’s tough to officially say Virginia Tech-Miami is an elimination game, once you take a peek at the upcoming schedules for both teams, it’s easy to see why this matchup is going to factor prominently into the hopes of either program winning the Coastal in 2014.

Here are a couple of storylines to watch on Thursday night:

Virginia Tech


Return of RB Marshawn Williams
In last week’s loss to Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech recorded 26 rushing yards on 22 attempts. Williams missed last week’s game due to an ankle injury, but he’s the Hokies’ leading rusher at 337 yards. With Shai McKenzie out for the year, Williams needs to carry the load and keep some of the pressure off of quarterback Michael Brewer.

Virginia Tech has lost at least two turnovers in five out of its seven games this season. The Hokies have been better in recent weeks, losing just one against North Carolina and Pittsburgh. Considering Virginia Tech’s struggles on offense, the Hokies cannot afford to give Miami any possessions on short fields. Of note: the Hurricanes are -2 in turnover margin this year.




Test the Virginia Tech Run Defense
With defensive tackle Luther Maddy (for the season) and linebacker Chase Williams out due to knee injuries, this is one area Miami can look to exploit on Thursday night. The Hokies rank sixth in the ACC against the run and allowed 210 yards to Pittsburgh last week. Miami running back Duke Johnson did not play in last year’s meeting between these two teams, but the junior rushed for 100 yards on 11 attempts against the Hokies in 2012.

Pressure on Virginia Tech QB Michael Brewer
Virginia Tech’s offensive line has allowed 13 sacks this year, including three in last week’s loss to Pittsburgh. Miami’s pass rush isn’t dominant, but the Hurricanes have 16 sacks through seven games, including four against Louisville in the opener and three against Cincinnati on Oct. 11. Brewer has at least one interception in six out of his seven games this year. Getting pressure on Brewer could force the junior to make even more mistakes.

Miami and Virginia Tech Face Potential Elimination Game in Coastal Division on Thursday Night
Post date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 15:30
All taxonomy terms: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder, NBA
Path: /nba/kevin-durant-riding-scooter-will-probably-take-his-sweet-time-recovering-injury-video

We’re used to watching Vines of Kevin Durant for doing something devastating on the basketball court; flying around like a terrible dream, dropping jumpers like mortar bombs in his steely “Slim Reaper” way. The latest Durant clip circulating, though, is quite different:



There’s something undeniably comic about seeing one of the world’s most majestic movers get around like I do on my wheely desk chair, across the apartment for more peanut butter toast. But Durant’s earned himself a little bit of leisure — he’s missed just 32 games over his five-season career, or less than five per season. And he’s carried the Oklahoma City Thunder for long stretches of each of those years.

"I'm not going to rush it all. That's the one thing I don't want to do," . "I'm sure I'll feel better in two or three weeks, but definitely don't want to rush it and wind up hurting it even more. I'm taking my time with it. I'm just blessed it happened early in the season where I can get past it, and hopefully by December I'll be ready to play.”

A lot is on the line for the Thunder this season. Any time a market as small as OKC has a player of Durant’s stature on contract for just two more seasons, every moment is precious — the window to convince the four-time scoring champion to stay is shrinking. And next season (the last on KD’s current deal) may see the squad weakened by the loss of impending free agent Reggie Jackson, an integral piece of the Thunder’s 2014 playoff run, who shoots his price further out of the Thunder's wallet every time he plays well.

A fully regenerated Durant is the only way OKC can compete for a title, though. Regardless of how quickly the clock’s ticking on the Thunder’s championship dreams, the best course for everyone involved is to let the man rest his invaluable bones good and long. Because when he returns, they'll need to be strong enough to hold a franchise’s hopes again.


— John Wilmes


Post date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 15:10
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/bucs-de-daquan-bowers-suspended-two-games

New York, NY ( - Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Da'Quan Bowers has been suspended two games for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances, the league announced Tuesday.


Bowers will be forced to miss upcoming games with Minnesota and Cleveland before being eligible to return for Tampa Bay's home tilt against Atlanta on Nov. 9.


The 2011 second-round pick started a pair of games earlier this season and has recorded six tackles and one sack over five overall contests in 2014.

Post date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 11:49
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/rams-release-wr-austin-pettis

St. Louis, MO ( - The St. Louis Rams have released wide receiver Austin Pettis.


Head coach Jeff Fisher confirmed the news on Monday, adding: "We appreciate Austin Pettis' contribution to us."


Multiple reports, including one from, indicate one of the reasons for the move was his lateness for a team meeting on Saturday. Pettis was inactive for the Rams' 28-26 win over Seattle on Sunday. In addition, the Post-Dispatch revealed that a glut of players at the position could have been a contributing factor.


The fourth-year pro out of Boise State totaled 12 receptions for 118 yards and one touchdown in five games. Since arriving in the Gateway City in 2011, Pettis has compiled 107 catches for 1,034 yards and nine scores.

Post date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 11:43
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/dallas-cowboys-waive-sam-practice-squad

Irving, TX ( - The Dallas Cowboys waived defensive end Michael Sam from the practice squad on Tuesday to make room for a linebacker who recently worked out for the team.


Sam, the first openly gay player in the NFL, was signed on Sept. 3 after being waived by the St. Louis Rams, who drafted him in the seventh round.


The former SEC Defensive Player of the Year at Missouri spent the first seven weeks of the season on the Cowboys' 10-man practice squad without making the 53-man roster.


"I want to thank the (family of team owner Jerry Jones) and the entire Cowboys organization for this opportunity, as well as my friends, family, teammates, and fans for their support," Sam wrote on Twitter.


"While this is disappointing, I will take the lessons I learned here in Dallas and continue to fight for an opportunity to prove that I can play every Sunday."


The move opened a spot for Troy Davis, who appeared in four games for the New York Jets as a rookie last season and who worked out for the Cowboys on Monday.


Before he was waived by St. Louis, Sam had 11 tackles and three sacks in four preseason games, including a team-high six stops in the finale against Miami.


Sam publicly declared his homosexuality prior to February's scouting combine.

Post date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 11:36
Path: /peyton-manning-breaks-all-time-touchdown-pass-record

Fine wine doesn’t age as well as Peyton Manning. Just ask the 49ers, who came all the way from Northern California wine country to take a 42–17 Mile High beating at the hands — or, more accurately, the record-breaking right arm — of Manning.

The 38-year-old five-time league MVP was in prime form in prime time on Sunday night, completing 22-of-26 passes for 318 yards and four TDs — Nos. 507, 508, 509 and 510 of his 17-year career. Manning’s 509th NFL scoring strike was an eight-yard completion to wideout Demaryius Thomas that broke Brett Favre’s record for all-time passing TDs.

“I want to say congratulations for breaking the touchdown record,” Favre said to Manning. “I’m not surprised. You’ve been a wonderful player and I’ve enjoyed watching you play. I’ve enjoyed competing against you. I wish you great success for the rest of the season and the rest of your career.”

Manning’s 510 TD passes have been thrown to 45 different players, 34 of whom are now retired from football. An astounding 111 of those scores have come in the two-and-a-half seasons that Manning has played for the Broncos. The other 399 TD tosses came in Manning’s 13 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, who selected Archie’s son out of Tennessee with the No. 1 overall pick in 1998.

Manning’s go-to Colts lead the way, with Marvin Harrison (112 TDs), Reggie Wayne (67) and Dallas Clark (44) headlining the list, while current Broncos like Demaryius Thomas (30) and Julius Thomas (21) continue to gain ground at a ridiculous rate.

Manning’s longevity and productivity have resulted in his excellence being taken for granted, in many ways. But following a series of neck surgeries that caused the future Hall of Famer to miss the 2011 season — and, subsequently, the Colts to cut Manning and draft Andrew Luck — nothing was guaranteed.

“I certainly didn’t think this would even be a possibility a couple of years ago,” said Manning. “I’m very grateful to the Broncos for welcoming me to their organization and for helping me during my career here. It has been a wonderful two-and-a-half years here.”

Manning’s time in Denver has exceeded even the wildest expectations of the Orange Crush faithful. He’s posted an MVP campaign in which he broke the NFL single-season TD pass record (55 in 2013), an MVP runner-up (2012) and a Super Bowl appearance. This year, he’s having one of his vintage years, completing 68.7 percent of his passes for 1,848 yards, 19 TDs and three INTs for a 118.2 passer rating while leading the Broncos to a 5–1 start.

The 6'5", 230-pounder with the “laser-rocket arm” is not only one of the most prolific passers in the game today, he’s arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play the position. His statistics are proof of the process — from pre-snap read to back-shoulder throw into the end zone.

“Throwing touchdowns is a part of playing football,” said Manning. “But I guess for me throwing touchdowns has helped teams I’ve been a part of win a lot of football games. I don’t think I’ve thrown a lot of touchdowns that didn’t mean something.”

Manning’s obsessive preparation is contagious. It has helped him post a 172–74 career regular-season record while rewriting the NFL record book.

“Everyone wanted 509. Everyone wanted that one,” said Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme. “Just the way Peyton carries himself, the way he raises everyone’s level of play. We all want to be a part of that.”

Peyton Manning has thrown 510 TD passes (and counting).
Post date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 11:35
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/buffalo-bills-put-cj-spiller-short-term-ir

Orchard Park, NY ( - The Buffalo Bills placed running back C.J. Spiller on injured reserve/designated for return Tuesday.


In a corresponding move, the team signed running back Phillip Tanner.


Spiller underwent surgery Monday to repair a broken clavicle.


He got hurt in the second quarter of Sunday's 17-16 win over Minnesota. Spiller came down hard on his left shoulder at the end of a 53-yard run, his lone carry of the game.


Fellow running back Fred Jackson could miss up to four weeks with a groin injury.


Tanner spent the past three seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, compiling just 56 carries for 149 yards and two touchdowns.

Post date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 11:29
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-22-2014

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for October 22:


• Meet , MaCall of UCLA.




. It didn't help that .


• A little lost amid Peyton's records is the fact that . How is that possible?






. But it's still worth a link.




• A top QB recruit picked UCLA. . That's gotta hurt.




• A T-Wolves fan made a 90210-themed introduction for his team.



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

Post date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 11:19
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/nba-changing-its-draft-system

A tanking epidemic has been the bogeyman of the NBA’s draft lottery system for the last year or so. The Philadelphia 76ers’ committment to losing worse than any team has ever lost before — a bottoming-out led by general manager Sam Hinkie, who has the backing of Sixers ownership — has turned heads, and upset many of the minds around the game. But it’s not representative of anything new, or particularly infectious to the league’s competitive spirit.

As a team-building strategy, tanking doesn’t generally work. Not even with the draft structure favoring the teams with the worst records every June. Hinkie is a gambler of sorts; There’s no telling whether his strategy will work or not. Most GMs find it safer and wiser to develop talent continuously, waiting for the luck of a big trade opportunity or having a diamond in the rough on hand. This campaign of intentional losing is not the plague it seems to be — Philly’s an outlier.

But that’s not stopping the league from voting on a system that will change the odds configuation which determines the draft order. The new draft — believed to be an almost sure thing to pass — will level out the probabilities of draft luck a bit. :


“Gone will be a weighted system where the worst team has 25 percent of the pingpong balls for the No. 1 overall pick and a guarantee it'll drop no lower than fourth in the draft order. Now, the worst four teams have a 12 percent chance at the first pick, No. 5 has an 11.5 percent chance, No. 6, 10 percent, and on down. What's more, the worst team can drop as far as seventh in the draft order, the second worst can drop to No. 8, and so on.

“Now, the bottom three teams have 64 percent, 56 percent and 47 percent chances of getting top-three picks, and that'll change to 35 percent, virtually the same as the fourth- (35 percent) and fifth-worst (34 percent) teams.”

Thus far, only Hinkie and Oklahoma City Thunder GM Sam Presti seem to be fighting, at the very least, for a plan that implements the new draft rules slowly — not all at once. Presti’s concern is that too much is made of the 76ers’ situation, and that large markets will benefit disproportionately from the new arrangement. The draft is the last refuge for a city as small as OKC, and when the micro-market hits its inevitable post-Kevin Durant nadir, they’ll need a sure path back to superstar acquisition. Geography’s never going to be in their favor.


— John Wilmes


Post date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-coaches-hot-seat-after-week-8-2014

College football’s coach carousel has been active this season, as four FBS programs have already announced their intentions to have a new coach in place for 2015.

And that list is expected to grow over the next few weeks, as a handful of coaches will be under pressure to win in November.

Florida coach Will Muschamp is on shaky ground after an awful showing against Missouri, while Michigan’s Brady Hoke needs a strong finish to the year to have any chance to return in 2015.

The pressure isn’t just limited to Michigan and Florida, as Illinois’ Tim Beckman and Tulsa’s Bill Blankenship are squarely on the hot seat.

College Football’s Top 10 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 8


1. Will Muschamp, Florida
2014 Record:
Career Record at Florida: 25-19 (4 years)

It seems almost certain Muschamp won’t be back at Florida next year. Athletic director Jeremy Foley’s statement after the Gators’ loss to Missouri did nothing to cool Muschamp’s seat. Florida is just 3-3 after six games and faces an uphill battle to bowl eligibility. The Gators should beat Vanderbilt and Eastern Kentucky, leaving Muschamp’s team one win short of the postseason. However, knocking off Florida State, Georgia or South Carolina does not appear likely this year. The biggest problem for Muschamp remains on offense. Florida is averaging just 4.3 yards per play and 21.4 points per game in SEC play. Muschamp’s defense – supposed to be a strength – allowed 30 points to Kentucky, 42 to Alabama and 30 to LSU.


2. Brady Hoke, Michigan
2014 Record:
Career Record at Michigan: 29-17 (4 years)

Much like Will Muschamp at Florida, the clock on Brady Hoke’s tenure at Michigan is ready to strike midnight. The Wolverines have regressed since an 11-2 mark in 2011, with the win total trending in the wrong direction (eight in 2012 and seven in 2013). Hoke changed offensive coordinators in the offseason, hoping to find a spark for a unit averaging 5.2 yards per play (eighth in Big Ten last year). Michigan also averaged only 3.3 yards per rush in 2013, but the changes haven’t worked so far. New coordinator Doug Nussmeier is dealing with many of the same problems as Al Borges (offensive line, rushing attack and quarterback play), and the Wolverines have not scored more than 20 points in four out of their five games against Power 5 opponents. Games against Indiana, Northwestern and Maryland should allow Michigan to make a run at the postseason. But in Ann Arbor, getting to 6-6 isn’t good enough. Of course, the ongoing debate regarding athletic director Dave Brandon’s status may cloud Hoke’s future – at least temporarily – at the conclusion of the Ohio State game on Nov. 29.


3. Bill Blankenship, Tulsa
2014 Record:
Career Record at Tulsa: 23-23 (4 years)

Blankenship began his tenure at Tulsa with a 19-8 overall mark and a solid 14-2 record in conference play. But since 2013, the Golden Hurricane is 4-15 and won just two games in Conference USA last season. Blankenship’s initial success were largely due to a solid core of players returning from the Todd Graham era, but Tulsa has slipped over the last two years and cannot afford to fall too far behind in its new conference home (American Athletic). Blankenship’s job prospects certainly weren’t helped in Week 8, as the Golden Hurricane blew a 27-7 halftime lead against USF to lose 38-30.

4. Tim Beckman, Illinois
2014 Record:
Career Record at Illinois: 9-22 (3 years)


After a 3-1 start, Illinois has lost its last three games and won’t have starting quarterback Wes Lunt for a couple of weeks due to a leg injury. Needless to say, that’s bad news for Beckman. The Fighting Illini has to play Minnesota and Ohio State over the next two weeks – a combined 11-2 this season – followed by games against Iowa, Penn State and Northwestern. It’s unlikely Illinois will be favored in any of its remaining games, especially with a defense allowing 7.6 yards per play in Big Ten contests. Getting to 6-6 likely saves Beckman’s job, but the Fighting Illini are likely to fall short of that mark.


5. Norm Chow, Hawaii

2014 Record: 2-5
Career Record at Hawaii: 6-25 (3 years)

Chow was a popular hire in Honolulu in 2012, but success has been hard to come by for the 68-year-old coach. Hawaii went 3-9 in Chow’s debut and won just one game in 2013. The Warriors are off to a 2-5 start and have already equaled their conference win total (one) from 2012-13. The upcoming schedule isn’t very forgiving, as Hawaii still has to play Nevada, Utah State, Colorado State and Fresno State this year. Chow is trying to transform the Warriors’ offense into more of a pro-style attack from a spread approach. However, while transitioning schemes takes time, Hawaii is only averaging 21 points this year and ranked near the bottom of the Mountain West in scoring offense from 2012-13.


6. Kevin Wilson, Indiana

2014 Record: 3-4
Career Record at Indiana: 13-30 (4 years)

Indiana is one of the toughest jobs in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers have only one winning season since 1995 and have lost seven games in six consecutive seasons. Wilson has the program on the right track, as Indiana increased its win total from one (2011) to four (2012) and five (2013). But the progress will be limited in 2014, as starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld is out for the rest of the year due to a shoulder injury. But even with Sudfeld out, the Hoosiers are still searching for answers for a suspect defense, and with a tough Big Ten East Division, this program cannot afford to fall behind Maryland and Rutgers in the overall landscape. Considering the injuries and youth on the team, Wilson should not be in any danger of being fired. However, 2015 could be a make-or-break year for his tenure in Bloomington.

7. Ron Turner, FIU
2014 Record:
Career Record at FIU: 4-16 (2 years)

Turner was a surprising hire at FIU after spending 2005-12 out of the college ranks. Additionally, Turner had no coaching experience in college in the state of Florida and went 35-57 from 1997-2004 at Illinois. In two seasons, this hire has panned out as expected. Turner is 4-16 and has two losses to FCS opponent Bethune-Cookman. The Panthers won only one game last year but have recorded three through eight weeks, largely due to an unsustainable +9 in turnover margin in games against FAU and UAB. FIU has some promising young players (quarterback Alex McGough, running back Alex Gardner and tight end Jonnu Smith) to build around for the future. How long will Turner have to develop that talent?

8. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
2014 Record:
Career Record at UNLV: 15-43 (5 years)

Hauck is one season removed from a breakthrough year, as the Rebels went 7-6 and played in their first bowl game since 2000. However, will that momentum be a short-lived boost? UNLV is 2-5 through seven games and are expected to be underdogs in upcoming games against Utah State, Air Force, BYU and Nevada. Prior to last year’s 7-6 record, the Rebels were 6-32 under Hauck’s watch. Was 2013 an aberration? Or does Hauck need more time to upgrade the talent and build the depth in the program?

9. Paul Haynes, Kent State
2014 Record: 1-6
Career Record at Kent State: 5-14 (2 years)

Haynes is a Kent State alum, so he’s familiar with the challenges of the job. The Golden Flashes won their last two games in 2013 but lost their first six in 2014. Kent State defeated Army 39-17 last Saturday to break into the win column and face a challenging slate the rest of the year. The Golden Flashes play at Miami (Ohio) this Saturday, followed by games against Toledo, Bowling Green, Buffalo and Akron. Haynes will get more than just two years (especially at his alma mater), but it’s important for this team to show progress, especially since Akron and Miami (Ohio) have shown improvement in 2014. The Golden Flashes simply can’t fall too far behind its East Division foes. 

10. Larry Fedora, North Carolina
2014 Record: 3-4
Career Record at North Carolina: 18-14 (3 years)

It’s tough to list Fedora here, but there aren’t many glaring candidates on the hot seat. And let’s make this clear: Fedora is in no danger of getting fired this season. But it’s important for Fedora and his staff to show this team is trending in the right direction over the next five games. North Carolina finished 8-4 in Fedora’s first year and needed five wins over its final six games last season to make a bowl. The Tar Heels are off to a slow start once again, sporting a 3-4 record after seven contests. Making a bowl will be a challenge for North Carolina, as road trips to Virginia, Miami and Duke remain. Scoring points hasn’t been a problem for Fedora’s teams, but the defense ranks last in the ACC by allowing 43.3 points per game in 2014. The Tar Heels are a young team, so there’s promise for 2015 in what could be a make-or-break year for Fedora in Chapel Hill.

College Football's Top 10 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 8 2014
Post date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/expert-poll-week-8-heisman-trophy-voting

Athlon Sports has formed a Heisman Trophy committee. Each week, we will ask 13 members of the national college football media to rank their top candidates for the Heisman Trophy.


Each voter will rank their top five candidates, with each first-place vote getting five points and each last-place vote getting one point.


The Panel:


, FOX Sports

, Big Ten Network 

, CBS Sports

, SBNation

, Sports Illustrated


, Big Ten Network

, Bleacher Report, B/R Radio


, Athlon Sports

Athlon Sports

, Athlon Sports

, Athlon Sports, SiriusXM


The Results:


1.Dak Prescott5976---
2.Marcus Mariota5867---
3.Melvin Gordon33--93-
4.Ameer Abdullah12--214
5t.Everett Golson8--113
5t.Jameis Winston8---32
7.Kevin White6---21
8.Amari Cooper4--1-1
9.Tevin Coleman3---11
10t.Bo Wallace2---1-
10t.Shaq Thompson2---1-

Dropped out: Todd Gurley, Bryce Petty


Listen to the Week 8 recap podcast:

Subscribe: |


The Top 3:

1. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi St

Prescott and the Bulldogs were off last weekend and will travel to Lexington to face an improved Kentucky squad. Last year, Prescott completed 23-of-34 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns without an interception as well as 33 yards rushing in a 28-22 win over the Cats in Starkville. Prescott got seven of the 13 first-place votes and six second-place votes.


Season Stats: 1,478 yards, 61.5%, 14 TDs, 4 INTs, 576 rush yards, 8 TDs


2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

The Ducks quarterback was fantastic once again in the face of the strong Washington defensive front. He was 24-of-33 passing (72.7 percent) for 336 yards and two touchdowns without a turnover in the blowout win over the Huskies. He hasn’t thrown an interception in 232 attempts — the second longest streak in Pac-12 history (353, also belonging to Mariota). Oregon and Mariota, who got the other six first-place votes, host Cal this weekend.


Season Stats: 1,957 yards, 70.2%, 19 TDs, 0 INTs, 289 rush yards, 5 TDs


3. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

Like Prescott, Gordon and the Badgers were off in Week 8. He is leading the nation in rushing at 174.3 yards per game and is third behind Ameer Abdullah (14) and Jarvion Franklin (16) in rushing touchdowns (13). Wisconsin hosts Maryland this weekend.


Season Stats: 132 att., 1,046 yards, 7.9 ypc, 13 TDs, 6 rec., 27 yards, TD 

Expert Poll: Week 8 Heisman Trophy Voting
Post date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-2014-week-9

The original reality TV show is sports. No contrived setting where seven strangers living in a house or one bachelor searching for love can match the excitement the Iron Bowl delivered last fall.


The beauty of college football lies in its complete unpredictability and drama. Here are some outrageous predictions for Week 9.


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


Jared Goff and Marcus Mariota will throw 80 passes without an INT


Marcus Mariota is leading the nation with a 19:0 touchdown-interception ratio in 188 attempts. Jared Goff isn’t too far behind with 24 touchdowns and just four interceptions in 273 attempts. When the two meet on Friday evening, neither defense will have much success stopping the opposing signal-caller. Look for two near-perfect days from both quarterbacks.


A game in the ACC will be relevant


It’s a bad, bad, bad weekend in the ACC. Florida State is off, Notre Dame isn’t on the slate and Clemson plays Syracuse at home. So my outrageous prediction for the ACC is that at least one of these games will matter (at some point) this year. Virginia Tech hosts Miami and Pitt hosts Georgia Tech. One of these could eventually provide a critical tiebreaker in the extremely average Coastal Division. And who knows, maybe even North Carolina-Virginia might matter (to someone... other than me).


Listen to the Week 8 recap podcast:

Subscribe: |


Nick Marshall will throw for more than 339 yards


In 19 career starts at Auburn, Nick Marshall has topped 300 yards passing just once. That came against Mississippi State back in September of 2013 (339). In 16 games since, Marshall has yet to top 250 yards passing. But that will all change this weekend against South Carolina’s inexperienced secondary. The Gamecocks have allowed 511 yards to Kenny Hill and 321 to Shane Carden so look for Marshall to set a career high in passing yards this weekend.


Tennessee and Michigan won’t reach the end zone


The Vols have scored 12 points in their last two SEC games all on field goals, both losses to Florida and Ole Miss. Now, Alabama comes to town after shutting out Texas A&M 59-0 last weekend. Meanwhile, Michigan hasn’t scored a TD against Michigan State since 2011 and is 104th nationally with just 18 total touchdowns scored all season. Both teams will be kept out of the end zone again this weekend.


The Buckeyes will register 10 sacks


Ohio State is fourth in the Big Ten and 35th nationally with 2.7 sacks per game on defense. Urban Meyer’s defensive line will feast on one of the worst O-lines in the game when it visits Penn State this weekend. The Nittany Lions are 119th nationally at 3.3 sacks allowed per game and 120th in rushing yards per game (93.2) and yards per carry (2.8).

Outrageous College Football Predictions: 2014 Week 9
Post date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 08:45