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Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-wide-receiver-rankings-week-8
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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

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
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 

Teaser:
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
Body:

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

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
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 

Teaser:
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
Body:

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

 

RankPlayerOpp
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:

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

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit 

Teaser:
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
Body:

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

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
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:

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

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

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.

 

Shankapotamus
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

 

 

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

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.

Teaser:
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
Body:

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.

Turnovers
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.

 

Miami

 

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.

Teaser:
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
Body:

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

@johnwilmesNBA

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

New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - 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.

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

St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - 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 FoxSports.com, 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.

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

Irving, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - 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.

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

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.”
 

Teaser:
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
Body:

Orchard Park, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - 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.

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

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]

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

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

@johnwilmesNBA

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

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:
3-3
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:
3-4
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:
1-6
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:
3-4
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:
3-5
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:
2-5
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.

Teaser:
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
Body:

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

, NFL.com

, Big Ten Network

, Bleacher Report, B/R Radio

, MrSEC.com

, Athlon Sports

Athlon Sports

, Athlon Sports

, Athlon Sports, SiriusXM

 

The Results:

 

 PlayerTeamPts1st2nd3rd4th5th
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 

Teaser:
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
Body:

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).

Teaser:
Outrageous College Football Predictions: 2014 Week 9
Post date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 08:45
All taxonomy terms: ACC, NC State Wolfpack, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2014-15-nc-state-wolfpack-team-preview
Body:

NC State can’t replace T.J. Warren — the ACC Player of the Year and the school’s first NBA Lottery pick since 1996 — with just one player. So the Wolfpack, coming off of a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance, won’t try to. Instead, fourth-year coach Mark Gottfried will attempt to build another NCAA team from of a mix of solid veterans and exciting newcomers.

 

“I like our team,” Gottfried says. “I like the talent level that we have.”

 

The Wolfpack, who went 22–14 last season, will have more balance, Gottfried says. Warren (at 24.9 ppg) accounted for 34 percent of State’s scoring last season. Gottfried expects this team to be more like his first two in Raleigh, with four or five players sharing the scoring load.

 

Senior Ralston Turner, the team’s top returning scorer, understands the challenge in replacing Warren. “We’re going to have to do it as a group,” Turner says. “As a team, collectively we can get that done.”

 

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

 

Frontcourt

 

The Wolfpack had to break in several new parts in the frontcourt last season and did so with varying degrees of success. Gottfried believes a trio of sophomore forwards — Kyle Washington, BeeJay Anya and Lennard Freeman — will show improvement and more consistency with a year of experience. Washington, in particular, flashed a scoring touch (he had a season-best 14 points against a formidable Syracuse frontcourt on the road), and he could flourish with more touches.

 

Anya is already ahead of the curve from last season when he started the season at 348 pounds. He was down to 300 pounds over the summer, and his improved mobility and stamina should make a noticeable difference. 

 

Freeman developed ahead of schedule and was one of the big surprises on the roster. He played 30 minutes or more in all three of the Pack’s postseason games.

 

Newcomer Abdul-Malik Abu, a 6-8, 230-pound freshman, is the most talented of the big men. His defensive ability will be a major plus; it will just be a question of how quickly he can make the adjustment to the college game. 

 

“Malik has a chance to be a great player,” Gottfried says. “He’s like all young players, physically very gifted, unbelievably coachable … (but) he looks a little bit lost at times.”

 


NC State Wolfpack Facts & Figures

Last season: 22-14, 9-9 ACC

Postseason: NCAA round of 64

Consecutive NCAAs: 3

Coach: Mark Gottfried (70-38 at NC State, 29-23 ACC)

ACC Projection: Eighth

Postseason Projection: NCAA Round of 64

 


Backcourt

 

After sharing the point guard job with Tyler Lewis last season, Cat Barber will have all the minutes and responsibilities to himself with Lewis’ transfer to Butler.

 

At his best, Barber (who averaged 8.5 points per game) was a complementary scorer to Warren last season. At his worst, his decision-making was a huge detriment in ACC play. He finished the season strong, though, and is expected to take another step with a bigger role this season.

Turner gives the Wolfpack a reliable scoring option on the wing. The LSU transfer led the team with 77 3-pointers and averaged 12.1 points over the last 18 games. He scored 17 points in State’s NCAA win over Xavier.

 

Gottfried is counting on junior Trevor Lacey, who sat out last season after transferring from Alabama, to have an impact similar to Turner’s. Lacey, who averaged 11.3 points in his final season at Alabama, can support Barber in running the offense but can also help Turner from behind the 3-point line.
 

“Trevor is an off guard who has a point guard mentality,” Gottfried says. “He’s a big, strong guard that can get into the paint and make contact and doesn’t get knocked off balance.”
 

Freshmen twins Cody and Caleb Martin begin the season behind Turner and Lacey for playing time but both could carve out roles, as could senior Desmond Lee.

 

Final Analysis

 

Gottfried didn’t get enough credit for cajoling an NCAA Tournament win out of last year’s group. Juggling personalities and creating a hierarchy were Gottfried’s two biggest problems in a disappointing 2012-13 season. He adroitly managed both tasks last season in his best work at NC State.

 

There are parts in place for another NCAA run this season, especially if Lacey can be as good as expected. It will require more consistency from Barber and Washington, but the ingredients are there for the program to continue its forward momentum under Gottfried.

 

Newcomers

 

Junior Trevor Lacey, a transfer from Alabama, will be counted on to step into the lineup and help fill the scoring void left by T.J. Warren. All three freshmen signees finished the year ranked in ESPN’s top 100. Forward Abdul-Malik Abu has the highest ceiling and is expected to help immediately, especially with his post defense. Twins Caleb and Cody Martin will have to work to find playing time, but the coaching staff believes in their long-term potential.

Teaser:
College Basketball 2014-15: NC State Wolfpack Team Preview
Post date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 07:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2014-15-florida-state-seminoles-team-preview
Body:

Two straight trips to the NIT have certainly dampened some of the momentum Florida State had built by rattling off four straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 2009-12. However, expectations surrounding Leonard Hamilton’s club remain high, and for good reason. 

 

Seven players with significant ACC minutes on their resumes are back, and six of them are either juniors or seniors. That group includes athletic guard Aaron Thomas, who emerged as the Seminoles’ best player in the later half of 2013-14. Add in highly touted recruit Xavier Rathan-Mayes and 7-footer Kiel Turpin, who each missed all of last season, and Hamilton’s roster suddenly boasts experience and depth.  

 

“Last year we were closer than it looked,” Hamilton says. “We lost to Florida by one point and to Michigan in overtime, but we didn’t have a complete team. There’s not as much drop-off in the rotation now. We have the talent. I think we can get back to where we were.” 

 

That’s not to say FSU doesn’t have some substantial voids to fill. Losing veterans Ian Miller and Okaro White takes away a pair of double-digit scorers. White was also the best rebounder for a team that struggled mightily on the glass. 

 

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

 

Frontcourt

 

Thanks to the NCAA granting the 7-0 Turpin a sixth year of eligibility (he missed all of last season with a leg injury), FSU will once again boast three 7-footers — Boris Bojanovsky stands 7-3 and Michael Ojo is 7-1. 

 

While that trio will undoubtedly make for some intimidating shot-blockers, whether they can be inside scoring threats remains the major concern. None has averaged more than six points per game, but Bojanovsky and Ojo both arrived as particularly raw recruits and appear ready to contribute more after two years in Hamilton’s system. 

 

“Getting Turpin back is huge,” Hamilton says. “I don’t know many more big men who are as skilled as Boris either. He is a smart player, and the key is that he has gained weight and gotten much stronger.”

 

Hamilton also has faith that sophomore power forward Jarquez Smith will make big strides. The 6-9 Smith will compete for White’s vacant starting spot after raising his weight to 230 pounds in the offseason. 

 

“I’m extremely confident in Smith,” Hamilton says. “He played behind two seniors last year. He’s also extremely skilled.” 

 

Junior college transfer Kedar Edwards, a small forward, will also battle for playing time. 

 


Florida State Seminoles Facts & Figures

Last season: 22-14, 9-9 ACC

Postseason: NIT

Last NCAA Tournament: 2012

Coach: Leonard Hamilton (241-157 at Florida State, 98-98 ACC)

ACC Projection: Sixth

Postseason Projection: NCAA Round of 64

 


Backcourt

 

After a breakout year, Thomas gives FSU a two-way player to build its team around. The 6-5 wing averaged 18 points in four NIT games and had 57 steals on the season — and Hamilton believes he be more productive at both ends of the court. 

 

“Aaron loves to play defense. He enjoys the best part of the game,” Hamilton says. “I expect him to have an All-ACC type of year. He has All-American type of potential.”

 

Fellow junior Devon Bookert gives FSU a veteran point guard to lean on. A dependable ball-handler and a remarkably accurate 3-point shooter — he shot 43.1 percent from 3 last year — Bookert enters his second year as a full-time starter. 

 

The versatile 6-7 Montay Brandon, who can play point or on the wing, started all 36 games last season. Rathan-Mayes, a prototypical shooting guard who played alongside No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins in high school, should bolster the offense instantly after sitting out 2013-14 due to academic issues. 

 

Junior college transfer Dayshawn Watkins and freshman Robbie Berwick will add depth at point guard. 

 

Final Analysis

 

Losing Miller and White won’t hurt as much as it might appear on paper. Thomas has all the makings of a go-to scorer and will be one of the best players in the ACC. More important, the Seminoles are now much deeper (Hamilton’s rotation could include as many as 10 players), making it possible to withstand the injuries and losses it couldn’t last year. 

 

Provided the big men progress as well as expected, Florida State should be back in the NCAA Tournament. Rebounding is the biggest key — the Seminoles were particularly bad on the defensive glass, grabbing only 64.2 percent of their opponents’ missed shots. In order to make any kind of postseason run, that will have to change dramatically. 

 

Newcomers

 

Phil Cofer may be the biggest find of the bunch. The powerful big man’s father (Michael) played in the NFL for 10 seasons. Kedar Edwards and Dayshawn Watkins were both brought in from junior colleges to add some immediate depth. Norbertas Giga, who is from Lithuania, continues Leonard Hamilton’s tradition of going overseas to find recruits.

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College Basketball 2014-15: Florida State Seminoles Team Preview
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After compiling a 38–16 record in its last three seasons in the Big East, Notre Dame had a rocky initial foray into the ACC. A conference-opening victory over Duke quickly spiraled into a 6–12 league record, due in large part to an inconsistent defensive effort, the inability to control the backboards without the graduated Jack Cooley and the loss of Jerian Grant to “an academic issue” in December.

 

Head coach Mike Brey, who likes to rely on older players to carry the load, was forced to play young, which should benefit the Irish in 2014-15.

 

“The young guys played too much for how this program is built,” says Brey, who begins his 15th season with the Irish. “We racked our brains with changing personnel to changing style of play. We simplified our offense, and that made us more efficient the second half of the ACC season. We bled while they were playing, but it will help them be better prepared this season.”

 

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

 

Frontcourt

 

The Irish will miss Garrick Sherman’s 13.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, but the bulk of the talent returns up front. Pat Connaughton, a 6-5 leaper, was a fourth-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles in the June amateur baseball draft, but he will return to Notre Dame for his final season of basketball. Connaughton averaged 13.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game last season, and Brey calls him the team’s “only real, true captain.” 

 

Notre Dame needs 6-10 junior Zach Auguste to emerge as a consistent presence. And 6-9 junior Austin Burgett must become the “stretch-4” player who has thrived in Brey’s free-flowing offensive system in the past. Burgett was just beginning to emerge last season when heart issues, which were corrected by a surgical procedure, derailed his progress.

 

Auguste and Burgett will be aided by sophomore V.J. Beachem, a willowy swingman who showed flashes of shooting prowess as a freshman. Bruising 6-9 freshman Martin Geben, originally from Lithuania, will push Auguste. Geben draws favorable comparisons to Cooley, a former first-team All-Big East selection. Bonzie Colson, also a freshman, is a physical 6-5 forward with shooting range and a 7-footer’s wingspan.

 


Notre Dame Fighting Irish Facts & Figures

Last season: 15-17, 6-12 ACC

Postseason: None

Last NCAA Tournament: 2013

Coach: Mike Brey (300-159 at Notre Dame, 141-88 Big East/ACC)

ACC Projection: Ninth

Postseason Projection: NCAA Round of 64

 


Backcourt

 

The loss of the stabilizing presence of point guard Eric Atkins is significant, but athleticism abounds with the return of Grant and additional playing time for sophomore point Demetrius Jackson, a former McDonald’s All-American.

 

The 6-5 Grant was playing outstanding basketball through 12 games last season, leading the Irish in scoring (19.0 ppg) and assists (6.2 apg) while shooting over 50 percent from the field and over 40 percent from three.

 

“(Grant’s) stats when he left us were the best of his career, and he was a focused defender for the first time,” Brey says. “I fully expect him to pick up there and have an added chip on his shoulder to show people he’s back.”

 

Jackson started 15 games but never found the consistency he’ll need to show as a full-time player. Brey would like to see Jackson take on a more assertive approach. Sophomore Steve Vasturia could get the starting nod over Jackson following his strong rookie season. 

 

“In the midst of a year that was disappointing as a team, (Vasturia) had a great year,” Brey says. “He’s reliable. He may be our best perimeter defender.”

 

Final Analysis

 

Expectations for the Irish in Year 2 of the ACC will be low, which is a starting point from which Notre Dame thrived at times in the Big East.

 

Brey believes he has two of the top 15 players in the league in Grant and Connaughton, but they’ll need unproven, inconsistent players from 2013-14 such as Auguste, Burgett, Beachem and Jackson to patch the holes from a year ago, plus contributions from freshmen Geben and Colson.

 

If that happens, Notre Dame could push for an upper division finish. At the very least, a .500 mark in conference play is a reasonable goal.

 

“It’s very similar to when I got the job (at Notre Dame) in 2000,” Brey says. “At the time, Notre Dame was 30 games under .500 in the Big East, and the question was, ‘Can you develop an identity in the Big East?’ That’s where we are now. We’re fighting and scratching to create an identity in this league, and it ain’t going to be easy.”

 

Newcomers

 

Martin Geben, a 6-9, 230-pounder from Hagerstown, Md., via Lithuania, is expected to push for heavy minutes as a true freshman. “He will be needed and he will be ready,” Brey says. “He’s a great position defender and rebounder.” Bonzie Colson is a small forward who also had offers form UConn and Pittsburgh.

 

 

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Last spring, Brad Brownell surely felt some vindication. Entering the 2013-14 season, little to nothing was expected of Clemson. A Tiger team with no seniors on its roster coming off a miserable 13–18 season was picked to finish 14th in the ACC, and Brownell landed on several national “hot seat” lists.

 

Brownell responded with perhaps his best coaching job yet: The Tigers won 23 games, narrowly missed the NCAA Tournament and made the NIT Final Four. Clemson officials rewarded him with a new six-year contract that averages $1.55 million per year. 

 

Now comes the hard part: repeating and building on that success without his best player. Athletic forward K.J. McDaniels declared for the NBA Draft after a first-team All-ACC season in which he led the Tigers in scoring, rebounds, blocked shots and steals. McDaniels is the only major loss from a 23–13 team, but in an ever-improving ACC that welcomes national power Louisville, breaking through to the NCAA Tournament won’t be easy.

 

“We’re in a monster league. We have got IBM and Coca-Cola and all those people in our league and they are not going away,” Brownell says. “They reload with McDonald’s All Americans every year, and we have got to continue to take the guys that we recruit and build them up and get them to play hard and get stronger.”

 

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

 

Frontcourt

 

Even with McDaniels and 6-10 forward Ibrahim Djambo (transfer) gone, Clemson’s frontcourt is far from bare. Junior center Landry Nnoko was one of the ACC’s most improved players last season, averaging 6.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Sophomore forward Jaron Blossomgame showed flashes while continuing to recover from a compound leg fracture that forced him to miss the 2013-14 season, averaging nearly five points and five rebounds per game while showing athleticism and versatility. 

 

Djambo’s transfer clears room for 6’8” freshman forward Donte Grantham — a versatile top-100 recruit — to see significant time this winter. Junior Josh Smith and sophomore Sidy Djitte are big bodies who’ll have reserve roles.

 


Clemson Tigers Facts & Figures

Last season: 23-10, 10-8 ACC

Postseason: NIT

Last NCAA Tournament: 2011

Coach: Brad Brownell (74-58 at Clemson, 32-36 ACC)

ACC Projection: 11th

Postseason Projection: NIT

 


Backcourt

 

Last winter, Clemson won games with defense; the Tigers held opponents to 58.4 points per game. Such stinginess was crucial, because even with McDaniels’ presence, Brownell’s bunch struggled to score. Clemson ranked 13th in the league in scoring (63.5 ppg), 13th in field goal shooting (.424) and 14th in 3-point shooting (.310).

 

“We have to improve our shooting,” Brownell says. “At the end of the day, we can’t continue to be one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the ACC and expect to finish in the top six or seven in the league.”

 

That said, the Tigers return plenty of experience in the backcourt while also adding firepower from several sources. Senior point guard Rod Hall has proven himself as a capable, gritty leader trusted with running the team in key situations. He averaged 9.7 points and 4.0 assists per game as a junior. Senior swingman Damarcus Harrison originally planned on leaving for a Mormon mission before last season, but Clemson is glad he stuck around. He emerged during the ACC season as a talented shooter, averaging 7.8 points while sinking 35 percent of his 3-pointers. Junior guard Jordan Roper was up-and-down but is also capable of burning teams from 3-point range. 

 

Sophomore Austin Ajukwa averaged just 2.3 points per game as a freshman but showed flashes of becoming an athletic shooter during the Tigers’ postseason push. Coaches are very excited about redshirt freshman guard Patrick Rooks, a talented shooter who was forced to miss last season following a hip injury. And expect a significant contribution from freshman Gabe DeVoe, a Parade All-American who averaged 34.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game as a Shelby (N.C.) senior.

 

Final Analysis

 

Basketball will never be the marquee sport at football-crazy Clemson. This is one of the toughest jobs in the ACC, and the additions of Louisville, Notre Dame, Pitt and Syracuse have only made it harder. Brownell took a team full of Oliver Purnell recruits to the NCAA Tournament in his first season, but last season’s NIT run, keyed by McDaniels and gritty defense, won back some supporters who had strayed from the program.

 

The Tigers likely won’t sink all the way to the bottom of the ACC, but minus the electric McDaniels, Brownell will have to wring even more out of his players to get back to remain in the hunt for an NCAA bid.

 

Newcomers

 

Clemson has only two eligible newcomers, but both should contribute. Freshman forward Donte Grantham is a top-100 recruit who chose Clemson over a number of high-major schools and will play major minutes with versatility. Guard Gabe DeVoe, a big-time scorer from North Carolina, adds much-needed shooting to the backcourt. 

 

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The ACC is bigger than ever and arguably better than ever.

 

At the same time, the conference rarely has been so unpredictable.

 

The arrival of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame was one of the top storylines in the conference last season, especially as Syracuse started the season with 25 consecutive wins, 12 in the league.

 

The Orange, though, couldn’t claim the ultimate prizes. Instead, Virginia became the leader of the league in every sense of the word. The Cavaliers won an outright regular season title, claimed the ACC tournament title and advanced the furthest of any league team in the NCAA Tournament when they reached the Sweet 16.

 

Virginia’s emergence last season was just more evidence that Duke and North Carolina don’t have quite the stranglehold on the ACC they once did. Duke hasn’t won the ACC tourney since 2011. North Carolina hasn’t won it since 2008.

 

Could the pendulum swing back to Tobacco Road in 2014-15? Athlon has projected Duke and Carolina to finish Nos. 1-2 in the ACC thanks to the arrival of potential All-America center Jahlil Okafor in Durham and an experienced roster in Chapel Hill.

 

But the battle for in a 15-team ACC is a gauntlet. Maryland is out and Louisville is in for 2014-15 with the Cardinals joining Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame from the Big East.

 

If Duke and North Carolina are going to reassert their dominance in the league this season, rarely has the path been so difficult.

 

Previews of every ACC team and more are available in the .

 

ACC 2014-15 Preseason Picks

 

1. Duke ()

Postseason projection: NCAA Final Four

The nation’s top recruiting class brings four freshmen who can make big impacts right away. Add in a solid mix of veterans and the Blue Devils are the clear favorite.

 

2. North Carolina ()

Postseason projection: NCAA Elite Eight

Rising star Marcus Paige and a strong nucleus will combine with another talented freshman class to give Roy Williams a deep rotation.

 

3. Louisville ()

Postseason projection: NCAA Sweet 16

Montrezl Harrell is a proven big man and Rick Pitino reloads with yet another strong recruiting crop.

 

4. Virginia ()

Postseason projection: NCAA Sweet 16

The bulk of the rotation from a 30-win team is back, including leading scorer Malcolm Brogdon. 

 

5. Syracuse ()

NCAA projection: NCAA round of 32

No team in the conference may have lost more talent, but the Orange will still be a factor.

 

6. Pittsburgh ()

Postseason projection: NCAA round of 64

Jamie Dixon must replace his leading scorer and rebounder, but don’t expect Pitt slide much. 

 

7. Florida State ()

Postseason projection: NCAA round of 64

Two double-digit scorers must be replaced, but Leonard Hamilton will have more depth and experience, and plenty of size to work with.

 

8. NC State ()

Postseason projection: NCAA round of 64

The Wolfpack will be young, but transfer Trevor Lacey (Alabama) will help make up for the loss of T.J. Warren. 

 

9. Notre Dame ()

Postseason projection: NCAA round of 64

The return of Jerian Grant gives the Irish one of the ACC’s top guards, but there are still glaring holes in the frontcourt.

 

10. Miami

Postseason projection: NIT

Transfer Angel Rodriguez (Kansas State) will be a nice addition, but the lack of a supporting cast may leave the Canes in rebuilding mode.

 

11. Clemson ()

Postseason projection: NIT

Tigers were one or two wins away from NCAA Tournament in 2013-14, but losing K.J. McDaniels to the NBA will make everything tougher. 

 

12. Wake Forest

After taking Tulsa to the NCAA Tournament, Danny Manning takes on the hefty task of rebuilding the Deacs.

 

13. Georgia Tech

This is likely make-or-break season for coach Brian Gregory, who has yet to have a winning ACC season in his three years in Atlanta.

 

14. Virginia Tech

The Hokies may have pulled off the best hire of the offseason by convincing Buzz Williams to leave Marquette.

 

15. Boston College

New coach Jim Christian takes over a program that won just eight games last season. 

 

2014 ACC Superlatives

 

Player of the Year: Marcus Paige, North Carolina

Early in the season, North Carolina would go as Marcus Paige did. By the end of the season, Paige went form a streaky player to one of the most consistent in the league. With a stabilized cast around him, Paige could have an All-America kind of season.

 

Best Defensive Player: Aaron Thomas, Florida State

Florida State generally has solid defensive teams under Leonard Hamilton, and the guard Thomas will spearhead that effort again. Thomas finished last season with 14.5 points per game and 57 total steals.

 

Most Underrated Player: Trevor Lacey, NC State

NC State has lost its share of transfers in recent years. The Wolfpack gets one back in Lacey from Alabama. He’ll make up half of a solid scoring tandem with point guard Cat Barber.

 

Newcomer of the Year: Jahlil Okafor, Duke

Okafor’s reputation as a rare talent precedes him at Duke. The Blue Devils haven’t had a dominant big man for several seasons, and now they’ll have one of the top post prospects to come along in years. He'll be a Player of the Year contender and possible No. 1 overall draft pick.

 

Top Coach: Mike Krzyzewski, Duke ()

 

First-Team All-ACC

G Marcus Paige, North Carolina

G Olivier Hanlan, Boston College

G Jerian Grant, Notre Dame

F Montrezl Harrell, Louisville

C Jahlil Okafor, Duke

 

Second-Team All-ACC

G Angel Rodriguez, Miami

G Aaron Thomas, Florida State

G Trevor Lacey, NC State

G Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia

G/F Justin Jackson, North Carolina 

 

Third-Team All-ACC

G Quinn Cook, Duke

G Tyus Jones, Duke

G Terry Rozier, Louisville

G Chris Jones, Louisville

G/F Pat Connaughton, Notre Dame 

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It took Pittsburgh little time to make a resounding impression in its ACC debut. The Panthers opened with a 16–1 record, including 4–0 in the league, and raised eyebrows from Tobacco Road to Tallahassee.

 

Then, they dropped six of their next 10 and eventually lost in the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament to top-seeded Florida. This is not to suggest that the season was a failure. Far from it. Pittsburgh went 26–10, placed fifth in the ACC and won two games in the conference tournament. 

 

The goal moving forward, though, is to replicate last season’s brisk beginning, then to maintain the standard. The good news is that three starters and six of the top eight scorers return from a team for which young players emerged during a late-season 5–1 stretch. Pittsburgh will feature only two scholarship seniors this season.

 

“We started to grow up, to figure it out,” junior guard James Robinson says.

 

There will be challenges with the departures of leading scorer Lamar Patterson and leading rebounder Talib Zanna, but it is nothing veteran coach Jamie Dixon hasn’t seen before. Dixon is masterful at making the sum better than the parts, which explains why he’s been to 10 NCAA tournaments in 11 years.

 

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

 

Frontcourt

 

Pittsburgh’s big men have promise and potential. The question is: Can they maximize it? Sophomore Mike Young, who moves from power forward to center, is the key. He displayed a refined interior skill set last season but wasn’t at full capacity due to a stress fracture in his lower back. An offseason weight-loss regimen and a mini growth spurt to 6-9-plus must pay dividends to soften the loss of Zanna. He’ll get help from senior Derrick Randall and junior Joseph Uchebo, but Young, a tireless defender, needs to emerge. 

 

One of Pittsburgh’s more intriguing players is sophomore power forward Jamel Artis. His inside-outside talents emerged in the later stages of the season, with 11 points and seven rebounds vs. Virginia and 13 and seven against North Carolina. A potential matchup problem with an ability to step away from the basket, Artis could flourish as the season progresses. 

 

At small forward, sophomore Sheldon Jeter is an enticing mystery. Jeter, who began his career at Vanderbilt, is a highly regarded talent who offers the versatility to play multiple positions.

 


Pittsburgh Panthers Facts & Figures

Last season: 26-10, 11-7 ACC

Postseason: NCAA round of 32

Consecutive NCAAs: 2

Coach: Jamie Dixon (288-96 at Pittsburgh, 126-64 Big East/ACC)

ACC Projection: Seventh

Postseason Projection: NCAA Round of 64

 


Backcourt

 

Robinson is the consummate delivery man. He ranked sixth nationally in assist-turnover ratio and possesses unquestioned command in setting the tempo. But here’s the rub: Pittsburgh needs more from the Bob Cousy Award finalist. He averaged just 7.6 points and rarely created his own shot. He must be a difference-maker in all facets if Pittsburgh is to evolve into an ACC contender. 

 

Shooting guard Cameron Wright is raw at times but provides explosiveness and aggressiveness. He hit double figures 20 times and can stuff the stat sheet with his rebounding and passing. If Wright continues to ascend, the backcourt could be formidable. 

 

A potential X-factor is change-of-pace speedster Josh Newkirk, a sophomore who was strong late in the season. He will give Dixon the option of using three-guard sets with his versatility. The purest scorer among the group is 6-6 junior Durand Johnson, a sharpshooter with unlimited range. He was averaging 8.8 points off the bench before a season-ending ACL/meniscus injury Jan. 11. 

 

Final Analysis

 

Despite Dixon’s success — he has a .750 winning percentage — he hasn’t been to the Sweet 16 in five years and missed the tourney altogether in ‘12. Because of this, the veteran coach finds himself in the midst of a conflicted fan base. Some are ecstatic that he’s put Pittsburgh basketball on the map over the past decade, while others believe he needs to raise the bar higher.

 

Dixon accepts all points of view. “We understand what the fans want. We expect the same for ourselves,” says Dixon, who’s been to three Sweet 16s and one Elite Eight. “It’s what we keep working for, reaching for.”

 

With the lack of a dominant star and uncertainty in the frontcourt, Dixon’s team will need time to jell. As always, he’ll coax maximum effort and results from his youthful group.

 

Will it be enough to land the Panthers back in the Sweet 16? The Elite Eight? Perhaps not, but another trip to the NCAA Tournament is more than realistic.

 

Newcomers

 

Of Pittsburgh’s four newcomers, Vanderbilt transfer Sheldon Jeter is expected to provide the most immediate impact. The sophomore averaged 5.5 points and 3.4 rebounds in his lone season in Nashville.  Junior-college transfer Tyrone Haughton needs seasoning, but offers solid defensive skills around the rim. Combo-forward Ryan Luther offers versatility, as he can score from outside or in the paint. Late signee Cameron Johnson, a swingman, is a redshirt candidate.

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Just one week after knocking off TCU, Baylor became the latest casualty in the Big 12, leaving the conference with no unbeaten teams and no teams in the Legends Poll Top 8.

 

The Bears fell 41-27 in Morgantown and dropped from No. 4 in the rankings, receiving zero Top 8 votes this week.

 

No. 2 Florida State survived in a heavyweight bout against Notre Dame Saturday night, knocking off the Irish 31-27 to keep its 23-game win streak alive. Notre Dame impressed the Legends Poll voters and remained at No. 7, despite the loss.

 

No. 4 Alabama moved up a spot and remains the highest ranked 1-loss team after dismantling Texas A&M 59-0 at home. Top-ranked Mississippi State was idle.

 

Ole Miss maintained its No. 3 ranking with another impressive defensive performance against Tennessee. Idle Auburn rounded out the top 5.

 

No. 6 Oregon moved back into the Legends Poll rankings, followed by Notre Dame and Michigan State.

 

RKTEAMRECORDPOINTSPV RK
1Mississippi StateMississippi State (11)6-01091
2Florida StateFlorida State (3)7-0962
3Ole MissOle Miss7-0873
4AlabamaAlabama6-1675
5AuburnAuburn5-1506
6OregonOregon6-125-
7Notre DameNotre Dame6-1247
8Michigan StateMichigan State6-1238

 

 

 

To see the individual votes by coach, visit .

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