Articles By All

Path: /college-football/texas-am-provides-offseason-motivation-alabama
Body:

The only blemish on Alabama’s resume last season came in a Nov. 10 29-24 loss to Texas A&M.

And Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban hasn’t let his team forget, especially with a rematch set for Sept. 14 in College Station.

As this photo from the (@TexAgs) forum shows, Alabama has last year’s game with the Aggies on the televisions in the weight room, along with the A&M logo on the stations.

Alabama really doesn’t need any motivation to be ready for Texas A&M, but this is just a subtle reminder about last year’s loss in Tuscaloosa and what’s ahead for the Crimson Tide in 2013.


Teaser:
Texas A&M Provides Offseason Motivation for Alabama
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Funny, videos, Overtime
Path: /overtime/pro-golfers-attempt-happy-gilmore-swings-video
Body:
What happens when pro golfers, including Phil Mickelson and Paul Lawrie, try to recreate Happy Gilmore's swing? See for yourself.
 

Teaser:
What happens when a group of pro golfers, including Phil Mickelson and Paul Lawrie, try to recreate Happy Gilmore's? See for yourself.
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 08:48
All taxonomy terms: Funny, videos, Overtime
Path: /overtime/compilation-horrible-first-pitches-video
Body:
It's a compilation of horrible first pitches at baseball games. What more do you want?
 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 08:35
All taxonomy terms: GIF, MLB, Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/prince-fielder-gets-triple-runs-gazelle%E2%80%A6a-fat-one-gif
Body:

During last night's MLB All-Star Game, Prince Fielder managed to reach third base. No, we're serious. He chugged his way around the bases like a fat gazelle, punctuating his effort with a head-first slide into third. No word on whether he required oxygen afterward. 

Prince Fielder Gets a Triple GIF

 

Prince Fielder Gets a Triple in All-Star Game

 

The reaction from players?

Teaser:
During last night's MLB All-Star Game, Prince Fielder managed to reach third base.
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 08:23
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-players-returning-injury-2013
Body:

Injuries are a big part of any college football season. Just ask the coaching staffs at Maryland, Missouri or USC.The Terrapins lost four quarterbacks to season-ending injuries last year, while the Tigers played 2012 without the services of standout running back Henry Josey. USC lost defensive end Devon Kennard in the preseason, which played a role in the Trojans’ defense finishing seventh in the Pac-12 in yards allowed.

With the 2013 season approaching, it’s time to take a look at how the return of injured players from 2012 will impact their team. Kennard, Josey and Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown are all expected to start in 2013, but there's no guarantee all three will be at full strength by the opening snap.

This list only includes players who missed all of last year – with one exception. So while players like Georgia’s Michael Bennett, Texas’ Jordan Hicks and Jackson Jeffcoat and TCU’s Waymon James missed significant snaps last year, each played in 2012, which made them ineligible for this article.

10 Key College Football Players Returning From Missing 2012 With Injury

Chris Black, WR, Alabama
After Amari Cooper had a breakout season last year, it’s not out of the question Alabama’s offense has another standout freshman receiver in 2013. Black was expected to play major snaps in 2012 but a shoulder injury in August sidelined him for 2013. The Jacksonville native ranked as the No. 2 receiver prospect by ESPN and was a top-100 recruit by Rivals. Black’s return will only add another weapon to Alabama’s deep (and improving) group of receivers for quarterback AJ McCarron.

C.J. Brown, QB, Maryland
Maryland was the victim of a handful of quarterback injuries last year, starting with Brown’s torn ACL in August. The Terrapins also lost Perry Hills, Caleb Rowe and Devin Burns to injuries, forcing converted linebacker Shawn Petty to step in at quarterback late in the season. Brown did not play in the spring game, and his last snap came in the 2011 season finale against NC State. The senior threw for 842 yards and seven touchdowns, while rushing for 574 yards and five scores in 2011. His best performance that season came against Clemson, recording 339 total yards and four scores. Junior college recruit (and former New Mexico signal-caller) Ricardo Young will push Brown for time this year, but the senior is the favorite to start, especially since his mobility will be an asset under coordinator Mike Locksley.

Dominique Brown, RB, Louisville
With quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and a deep cast of receivers returning, Louisville should have one of the nation’s top offenses in 2013. And the Cardinals will be even more dangerous and balanced on that side of the ball this year, as Brown is returning from a knee injury that forced him to redshirt in 2012. The Ohio native rushed for 533 yards and four touchdowns in 2011 and is expected to split time with Senorise Perry in the Louisville backfield. Brown doesn’t need to be a 1,000-yard rusher for the Cardinals’ offense to thrive, but his return will help ease Perry back into the lineup while he also recovers from a knee injury, giving Louisville a solid one-two punch in the backfield.

Travis Carrie, CB, Ohio
The Bobcats saw their MAC East title hopes derailed by injuries last year, as several key players missed time due to various ailments. Carrie missed all of 2012 due to a shoulder injury but is poised to return as one of the MAC’s top defenders in 2013. In 2011, Carrie recorded 42 tackles and 13 passes defended, earning MAC second-team all-conference honors. Carrie is one of the Bobcats’ top defenders and will be expected to provide leadership as one of the team’s leaders in his final year in Athens.

Blake Countess, CB, Michigan
We are going to cheat a little on listing Countess in this article. Although he played in the opener, Countess suffered a torn ACL in the first quarter, so he was almost robbed of a full season. That counts right? Countess was one of the Big Ten’s top freshmen in 2011, recording 44 tackles and one forced fumble in 12 games. He also defended six passes and had a career-high eight stops in the bowl win over Virginia Tech. It may take a few games for Countess to knock off the rust, but the sophomore should be one of Michigan’s top defenders in 2013.

Henry Josey, RB, Missouri
Josey was one of the nation’s top running backs in 2011, but a knee injury against Texas in mid-November ended his season prematurely. Josey had 1,168 yards and nine scores, along with four consecutive 100-yard performances before his injury against the Longhorns. The Texas native’s knee injury was devastating, which included a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus, along with a patellar tendon rupture. Josey sat out all of 2012 to recuperate but returned to play in the 2013 spring game, rushing for 13 yards and one touchdown on eight carries. There’s no guarantee Josey returns at full strength, but his return should help Missouri’s ground attack. The Tigers ranked 12th in the SEC in rush offense and must replace Kendial Lawrence after he led the team with 1,025 yards last year. Josey is expected to open the season as Missouri’s No. 1 back.

Devon Kennard, DE, USC
Kennard has moved from defensive end and linebacker throughout his USC career, so new coordinator Clancy Pendergast’s 5-2 scheme should fit his talents. The Arizona native missed all of last year with a chest injury but all signs point to return to full health for 2013. Kennard recorded two sacks in 12 games in 2011 and has 135 tackles in his career. The senior has the size and athleticism to be a perfect fit as a hybrid rush end in USC’s new-look defense.

Stefan McClure, CB, California
After leading the Pac-12 in pass defense in 2011, California took a step back last year, finishing 11th in the conference and 104th nationally. McClure was expected to be one of the top contributors in the secondary for the Golden Bears last season, but he did not recover in time from a knee injury suffered late in 2011. As a freshman, McClure recorded 24 tackles, three passes defended and picked off one pass. With more than a year to recover, California’s defensive staff hopes to have the sophomore at full strength for 2013. And his health is important for a secondary that must replace safety Josh Hill and cornerbacks Steve Williams and Marc Anthony. If he’s healthy, McClure has the potential to be an all-conference performer.

Ronald Powell, DE/LB, Florida
Powell was ready to emerge as one of the SEC’s top defenders, but he suffered a torn ACL in spring practice before the 2012 season. The California native suffered a setback early in the fall, which forced him to end any shot at a comeback for 2012. Powell may not be the same player he was in 2011 early in 2013, but the junior will be a key cog in Florida’s defense. Powell recorded 32 tackles and six sacks as a sophomore and if he’s healthy, he could easily surpass those numbers in 2013. Even if Powell isn’t at 100 percent, his return will help to bolster one of the SEC’s best front sevens.

Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
Very few things went Colorado’s way on offense last year. The Buffaloes struggled to find consistent quarterback play, and the offense finished 117th in points scored and 116th in yards per game (302.8). However, Colorado should be better on offense this year, as new coach Mike MacIntyre and coordinator Brian Lindgren did an outstanding job of developing San Jose State’s offense in 2012. Richardson’s return should also provide a boost for the Buffaloes, as the junior has the talent to be one of the Pac-12’s top receivers. In two seasons in Boulder, Richardson has caught 73 passes for 1,069 yards and 11 scores. He is also averaging 14.6 yards per reception for his career. Assuming Colorado can find some stability at quarterback, Richardson should push for All-Pac-12 honors after missing 2012 with a torn ACL.

 

Other Key Players Returning After Missing All of 2013 With Injury
 

Kelby Brown, LB, Duke
Jordan Canzeri, RB, Iowa
Khairi Fortt, LB, California
Hau’oli Jamora, DE, Washington
Tre Madden, RB, USC
Jacobbi McDaniel, DT, Florida State
Michaelee Harris, WR, Louisville
Barkley Hill, RB, Iowa
Andre Monroe, DL, Maryland
Mario Pender, RB, Florida State
D.T. Shackelford, LB, Ole Miss
Brandon Wilds, RB, South Carolina
Jarrick Williams, DB, Alabama
Lo Wood, CB, Notre Dame

Related College Football Content

Which College Football Program is Closest to its First Title?
12 Steps to Fix ACC Football
College Football's Top 25 Impact Transfers for 2013
Getting to Know the SEC's New Coaches for 2013
College Football's Best Coaching Trees
College Football's Top 15 Winners From Conference Realignment

 

Teaser:
College Football's Top 10 Players Returning From Injury for 2013
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /college-football/ohio-state-and-michigan-new-ten-year-war
Body:

Don’t wear anything red into the Michigan football building. Just don’t do it. Somebody will ask you to take it off. It doesn’t matter who you are, be it celebrity or head of state, or who they are, whether freshman or Brady Hoke himself, you will not be welcome.

They’re not too fond of blue in Columbus. In fact, in the days leading up to the game with Michigan, Ohio State hosts an event that allows people to turn in any clothing of that color in return for a free T-shirt and a discount on Buckeye apparel. They give the blue stuff to charities — as quickly as they can.

“It’s called ‘Lose the Blue,’” OSU athletic director Gene Smith says.

No one should be surprised about either of those revelations. The rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State is one of the most intense in college football — in all of American sports, for that matter. For decades, the schools have thirsted to defeat the other and have met on the last Saturday of every regular season except three since 1935. The games have decided the Big Ten championship dozens of times and from 1969-78 were dominated by the outsized personalities of OSU coach Woody Hayes and U-M boss Bo Schembechler. During that stretch — actually from 1969-81 — either the Buckeyes or Wolverines represented the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl every season.

Fans may be witnessing the beginning of a reprise of Bo and Woody’s “10-Year War,” thanks to Hoke and Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer. The schools may not be ushering in another decade of dominance, a la the “Big Two and Little Eight,” but it’s clear Michigan and Ohio State are setting the tone for the conference, even as it expands in today’s unpredictable climate. Their recruiting stands above that of the league’s other schools, and their performance on the field appears to be moving toward a different level. In a 12-team (soon to be 14-team) conference, it’s nearly impossible for two to dominate, ’70s style, but the Buckeyes and Wolverines could come close.

“We could be very easily at the start of another ‘10-Year War,’” says Michigan athletic director David Brandon, who played for the Wolverines from 1971-73. “There are some similarities with where we are today versus when I was part of (the rivalry).”

Yes, there are. Like Schembechler, Hoke is an Ohio native who spent some time coaching a school in the state (Toledo, 1987-89). Meyer was born in Ohio, as was Hayes. The two men went to college at schools in the state — Meyer at Cincinnati; Hayes at Denison — and both coached colleges in Ohio. Although the gregarious Hoke isn’t the same firebrand Schembechler was, he understands the high expectations at his school and realizes the importance of the rivalry. Being an Ohioan makes it easier for Meyer to appreciate the intensity of the teams’ enmity.

Related: Ranking the Big Ten Uniforms for 2013
 

“Obviously, (you see it) when you walk through the (Ohio State football) facility, and there’s all kinds of tributes to this game, but this is all I knew growing up,” Meyer said last November before the Buckeyes’ win over Michigan. “It’s all anybody knew. In the era when I grew up, there really wasn’t much other than three channels on your television, and this game.”

Hayes left Ohio State after the ’78 season, and Schembechler lasted until 1989. The ensuing two-plus decades have featured some great games, upset victories and outstanding performances, but the teams weren’t always on the same footing. When one would thrive, the other might sag a little. Now, the two schools seem to be ascending concurrently.

The primary reason is their approach to recruiting, which is more aggressive and persistent than much of the Big Ten. When Meyer took over in 2012, he did not apologize for contacting committed — but unsigned — prospects at other conference schools and hired assistants who were dedicated to pursuing recruits almost constantly. Hoke and his staff had already been recruiting with an extremely aggressive approach, but they are quite aware of the OSU style and have become even more earnest.

“On most staffs you see four good recruiters and five average ones,” says Tom Lemming, of CBS Sports Network. “At Ohio State, there are nine great recruiters. It’s the same with (Alabama’s) Nick Saban and (LSU’s) Les Miles. If you’re an assistant, your hobby has to be recruiting, not golf.

“Brady Hoke is a blue-collar, aggressive, non-stop recruiter. He realizes that if he ­doesn’t do it that way, he’s going to get steamrolled by Ohio State.”

It helps that both head coaches have personalities that can draw the attention of top recruits and convince them to attend their schools. Meyer’s track record — two national championships at Florida — and year spent as an analyst at ESPN have established him as a star in the coaching ranks. But it’s not just Meyer’s Q score. His assistants are relentless, and he is, too. Within a few hours of his taking the OSU job in late 2011, he was on the phone to Rich Hansen of St. Peter’s (N.J.) Prep to tell him he was back in business. Whereas former OSU coach Jim Tressel was able to lock down Ohio, Meyer is willing to sacrifice a few prospects in-state to attract better, faster players from all over.

Related: Best and Worst Times to be a Michigan Fan
 

“I’ll bet (Meyer) called 100 coaches the day he was hired,” Lemming says. “He goes the extra mile. Other coaches may have been partying if they got that job. He went to work immediately.”

Hoke was a member of Lloyd Carr’s staff in the late ’90s, when Michigan began to extend its recruiting reach, so he understands the need to be more than just the king of the Rust Belt. He has made strong inroads into Ohio, but he has the Wolverines looking nationally, too. And where Meyer is perpetually intense and unfailingly direct, Hoke has a more laid-back approach that works well with 18-year-olds.

“Brady really connects with people,” Brandon says. “He’s a very genuine guy, and what you see is what you get. There’s no phoniness, no fake polish and no P.R. spinning. He’s not trying to be someone he isn’t.

“He’s honest and straightforward, and he’s a likeable guy with very little ego. Michigan football isn’t about him. The players like that.”

A lot of coaches work hard on the recruiting trails, but few have the ability to sell what Michigan and Ohio State do. Each program has decades of tradition, multiple national titles, gigantic, jam-packed stadiums and facilities that are unsurpassed in the Big Ten — and surpassed by few, if any, other programs in the nation. The schools are committed to athletic success and have the ability to reach out beyond the conference’s Midwestern (and soon to be Eastern) footprint in search of elite players capable of competing against the nation’s best.

This past February, in addition to mining Michigan (eight signees) and Ohio (nine), the Wolverines brought in players from Virginia, Colorado, North Carolina and Maryland. OSU culled 11 from within the Buckeye State but also attracted talent from Texas (three players), Georgia (two), Florida, California, Missouri and North and South Carolina.

Michigan has already received commitments from players hailing from Utah, Virginia and Florida for 2014. While OSU’s class includes players from Ohio and Michigan, don’t expect Meyer and his staff to spend all of their time in the two states.

Related: Will Michigan Play in a BCS Bowl in 2013?
 

And look out for the head-to-head battle that is surely coming for Grand Rapids Christian (Mich.) High School standout Drake Harris. The 6'4", 185-pound 4-star wideout committed to Michigan in April, the day after he visited Ohio State. Don’t expect Meyer to give up on Harris until the young man signs a letter-of-intent next February. It would be great for Meyer to steal one from Michigan; more important, it would add another speedy player to the OSU roster.

“There aren’t enough fast athletes to go around in the Midwest,” says Bobby Burton, co-CEO of 247Sports.com. “You can’t exist solely on Midwest players, not at an elite level.

Urban Meyer“Meyer was a coach at Florida and an assistant at Notre Dame, so he’s been part of that. When Brady Hoke was an assistant at Michigan (from 1995-2002), they went national. These guys understand.”

The Wolverines and Buckeyes received some unexpected assistance in their move to the top of the league when the NCAA slammed Penn State with four years of probation in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Although Bill O’Brien did a fine job last year, leading the Nittany Lions to an 8–4 record, the severe recruiting restrictions placed on PSU and its four-year bowl ban won’t allow it to be an influential player on the national recruiting scene. If O’Brien takes an NFL head coaching job, as it was rumored over the winter he might, that would hurt Penn State further.

Nebraska, which was expected to be a strong counterbalance to the traditional Big Ten bullies, has yet to reach that level, although it has quite a tradition of winning. When we last saw the Cornhuskers, they were surrendering 115 points in their final two games of the 2012 season.

The arrivals of Hoke and Meyer signal a new chapter in the Michigan-Ohio State hostilities, at least on the field. As for the other parts of the rivalry, the continued reconfiguring of conferences could lead to some interesting decisions. Right now, the schools are committed to playing the game on the regular season’s last week, and in the afternoon.

“There will be a time when someone will ask about playing it in primetime, which I won’t do,” OSU athletic director Gene Smith says. “We will do everything we can to protect it.”

Smith’s stance is admirable, but schools don’t control their scheduling destinies, even those with annual nine-figure athletic revenues, like Ohio State. If the networks demand a primetime kickoff, it will be hard to refuse, especially when all of this realignment business has been fueled by TV money.

Then there is the divisional situation. Right now, the teams are separated, leading some to wonder what the response would be if the Buckeyes and Wolverines met one week on the regular-season slate and seven days later in the Big Ten title tilt.

“I’m okay with that,” Brandon says.

But when Rutgers and Maryland join up in 2014, the league will go with a more conventional, East and West configuration, rather than the current — and absurd — Legends and Leaders setup. This will put Michigan and Ohio State in the same division and end any talk of a doubleheader. Under the league’s new alignment, the contest could become a de facto conference semifinal, with the winners advancing to the Big Ten Championship Game.

The rivalry seems set for another period of high-profile, high-level play. Urban and Brady might not top Woody and Bo, but it sure looks like fun is on the horizon. And everybody seems ready for it.

“There’s a different feeling when you walk into (Ohio Stadium), especially when you’re wearing a Michigan jersey,” Michigan senior offensive tackle Taylor Lewan says. “Our coaches are big on the Navy SEALS idea of a small group going in against big numbers and getting the job done and leaving. I love it. I love feeling the hate.

“Every single game, I want the guy who lines up across from me to be hurting at the end of the game. When it comes to Michigan-Ohio State, it’s different. I want to hit the guy a little harder.”

That’s what you get for wearing red around a Wolverine.

 

Written by Michael Bradley for Athlon Sports. This article appeared in Athlon Sports' 2013 Big Ten Preview Edition. Visit our online store to order your copy to get more in-depth analysis on the 2013 Big 12 season.

Related Big Ten Content

Big Ten 2013 Football Predictions
Big Ten 2013 All-Conference Team
College Football's 2013 All-America Team
Big Ten's Top Heisman Contenders for 2013
College Football's All-Freshman Team for 2013
Does Nebraska Still Believe in Bo Pelini?
The Big Ten's Top Traditions
Unit Rankings: 2013 Big Ten Receivers

5 First-Year Starting QBs Who Could Win College Football's National Title

Teaser:
Ohio State and Michigan: The New Ten-Year War
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /nascar/nascar-numbers-game-taking-stock-2013-sprint-cup-season
Body:

The off week prior to the race at Indianapolis serves as a welcome respite to everyone in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series except crew chiefs who might be on the hot seat. One casualty of “chopping block week” occurred Tuesday morning when BK Racing relieved Pat Tryson of his duties as the head wrench for David Reutimann’s No. 83 entry.

Tryson, formerly of Roush Fenway Racing and Penske Racing, was brought into BK’s burgeoning campus at the end of the 2012 season, bringing 50 races worth of Chase experience to an organization just under a year old. His expertise could be one to enhance an operation that fancied itself on the come; however, instead of a young Landon Cassill, 43-year-old David Reutimann was named the driver of the Tryson-led No. 83. Reutimann is currently carving out his second consecutive season of replacement-level production. Suffice to say, the No. 83 team hasn’t resembled a sharp outfit at any point in 2013.


6.6  The good news about Reutimann and Tryson is that they were actually the most consistent team in the Cup Series among full-time driver-crew chief combinations, per their 6.6 finish deviation.

The bad news is that consistent deviation supports a 29.4-place average finish. So, yes, consistently awful is how one could describe the floundering Burger King-backed team. Just call them the “Sacramento Burger Kings.”

Most drivers and teams aren’t on the chopping block. With an off week on the horizon, a look at some oft-ignored aspects of the sport seems timely.


88.89%  The teams of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Greg Biffle lead full-time Cup entries in base retainment percentage at the end of races, each with an 88.89 percent mark.  Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

What is base retainment percentage? It is how often a driver holds or gains his/her position with 10 percent of a race to go until the drop of the checkered flag. Essentially, it’s NASCAR’s version of playing defense. The Roush Fenway Racing duo of Stenhouse and Biffle happen to be adept at it.

That isn’t to say they don’t also play offense too. Stenhouse is the Cup Series’ biggest position gainer at the end of races, currently sporting a plus-14 percent position retainment difference. Biffle ranks third with a plus-10.8 percent take. These numbers change much of the perception of both drivers’ seasons. Stenhouse, a rookie, has struggled to produce results but at least has stout position retainment to show for what will be considered a learning year. Biffle, who will likely earn a Chase berth after a yucky start to 2013 has regressed in results getting (his 1.132 PEER is a far cry from his 2.639 in 2012), has this element of his racing repertoire to thank. He is currently turning a 17.5-place average running position with 10 percent to go into a 15.6-place average finish.


84.21%  Aric Almirola, crew chief Todd Parrott and the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team have finished in the top half of fields 84.21 percent of the time.

Obtaining those top-half finishes is terrific for one’s Chase chances; as a matter of fact, teams that hit a mark of 80-plus have made NASCAR’s playoffs 93.1 percent of the time. While Almirola and company would be best served gunning for a victory and a host of other high finishes in the next seven races, the driver demonstrated a knack for solidly finishing races in this manner while in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Driving for JR Motorsports, Almirola led full-time Nationwide Series drivers with a percentage of 91.18 in 2011.


55.68%  Kyle Busch is the current Cup Series leader in pass efficiency, overtaking on 55.68 percent of his encounters.

His aggressive nature has always made him the Kyle Busch we know and appreciate (for the most part). The penchant for passing is a byproduct of that and a race car carrying a lot of speed. Busch’s No. 18 ranks fifth in average green-flag speed per NASCAR, which means he hasn’t had the fastest car in the series through 19 races, but he is still been able to wreak havoc with it. As Busch alluded to in his post-race interview at New Hampshire, in 11 clean races — events without some sort of equipment, crash or penalty-related malady — he has finished no lower than sixth. His ability to pass has been a big reason for his top-heavy success so far this year.


0.11  David Ragan and J.J. Yeley have the cleanest crash frequency, 0.11, among full-time Cup Series drivers.

The 0.11 signifies two crashes across 19 races. Their lack of equipment damage has been a coup for their respective teams — Front Row Motorsports for Ragan and Tommy Baldwin Racing for Yeley — that operate with a low budget. For both organizations, money and time saved on repair, fabrication or new-car building can be used for making the current crop of cars in their stable much faster.


0.75  The most recent race winner, Brian Vickers, has the worst crash frequency in the Cup Series, a 0.75 mark.  Brian Vickers

So if any reservations remain with Michael Waltrip Racing on whether they should sign Vickers to a full slate of 2014 races, you now understand why. Vickers also led the series in crash frequency in 2011 (0.58) and had the fifth-worst frequency of 2010 (0.45). The 2012 season proved to be something of an anomaly; he didn’t crash once in eight races.


For PEER and other metrics with which you may be unfamiliar, I refer you to my glossary of terms on MotorsportsAnalytics.com.

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

 

Photos by Action Sports, Inc.
 

 

Teaser:
David Smith crunches the numbers for the Sprint Cup Series in his weekly "NASCAR Numbers Game" column.
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 18:10
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-july-16
Body:

With SEC Media Days kicking off on Tuesday, the offseason has officially ended. Fall camps are just around the corner.

Feel free to contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Tuesday, July 16th

If you are watching or listening to the press conferences in Hoover, Ala. the next few days, check out SBNation's SEC Media Days Bingo

Adam Jude of The Seattle Times takes a look at the decision facing Washington coach Steve Sarkisian on tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. In case you missed it yesterday, Seferian-Jenkins pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge.

Why did Athlon Sports pick Syracuse to finish 4-8? What about the future of Scott Shafer and transfer quarterback Drew Allen? I discussed all of these topics and more with NunesMagician.com this week.

Nebraska's field has some new lettering on the sidelines this year, as showcased in this photo from the Big Ten Network.

Receiver (and Miami, Ohio transfer) Nick Harwell is still trying to get eligible to play at Kansas in 2013.

Mr. SEC takes a look at who is most likely to cause a stir at SEC Media Days.

Colorado quarterback Shane Dillon has decided to transfer to play basketball at another college. Dillon's transfer leaves former Texas quarterback Connor Wood as the Buffaloes' likely starter for 2013.

Here's a good look at Missouri's pre-fall camp depth chart.

Who will start at quarterback for Southern Miss this year?

Want to be a NCAA official? Check out this test from the Big Ten Network.

Clemson heads into fall practice with uncertainty at tight end

One of Oklahoma's incoming freshmen is headed to junior college instead of Norman.

Two Pittsburgh players won't return to the team for 2013.

Crystal Ball Run previews the top-10 non-conference games in the SEC for 2013.

Some details have emerged about the dismissal of FIU running back Kedrick Rhodes.

A preview of California's young (but talented) receiving corps for 2013.

Teaser:
College Football's Link Roundup: July 16
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 16:39
All taxonomy terms: Funny, GIF, Overtime
Path: /overtime/chris-farley-sec-media-days-video
Body:
We're not sure, but we think Chris Farley may have shown up at SEC Media Days. And apparently he's a big Will Muschamp fan. 
 

Teaser:
We don't see too well, is that Chris Farley at SEC Media Days?
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 16:15
Path: /2013-british-open-what-theyre-saying
Body:

Here's what some possible contenders are saying leading up to this week's Open Championship at Muirfield Golf Course:

 

• Tiger Woods: "I feel very good about my game. I felt very, very good going into major championships. I've had a pretty good year this year so far; won four times. Even though I haven't won a major championship in five years, I've been there in a bunch of them where I've had chances. I just need to keep putting myself there and eventually I'll get some."

 

• Phil Mickelson: "You need an element of luck, but you also need to play some great golf. These last few months I've played well enough to get in contention and play well, but I do need some luck. I am really optimistic about this week and going forward because I'm starting to putt as well as I ever have."

 

• Graeme McDowell, who's paired with Tiger Woods and Louis Oosthuizen on Thursday and Friday: "I've played with Tiger enough now over the years to be more than comfortable with it and you want to be playing with the best in the world. You don't need to create any intensity on the Thursday of a major but playing with him increases the focus. It gets you fired up and ready to go. He's the kind of guy you want to be measuring yourself against on a course set up like this. Finish one ahead of Tiger on Sunday and you're not going to be far away."

 

• Masters champ Adam Scott: "I think it’s the greatest tournament in the world. It’s really the one you want to win. Well, except for an Aussie. Because an Aussie always wanted to win the Masters."

 

• U.S. Open champ Justin Rose: "I have faced questions for years about who the next English guy to break through will be. I feel fortunate it was me who broke through first but I am sure it will give the others a little extra burst of enthusiasm. It probably gives them that added bit of belief. I wouldn't be surprised if one of the other guys follow in the not too distant future."

 

• Brandt Snedeker, last year's 36-hole leader at the Open: "I just made typical American mistakes. The first two days I had no wind really whatsoever, and played great golf. The last 36 holes I drove the ball horribly. I tried to ride the wind too many times. I tried to not play against the odds; you've got to try to hold the ball up against the wind. Little stuff like that."

 

• Rory McIlroy: "I like Muirfield and feel I can play well. It’s fast, firm and this is going to be a great test. If you hit it in the rough here, you’re chipping out."

 

• Defending champion Ernie Els: "I feel quite good about my game. I feel like I'm striking it nicely. There are a lot of good things happening in my game. … I really can't wait for Thursday. I really have a good feel about it."

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 15:59
Path: /mlb/13-amazing-mlb-stats-week-july-8-14
Body:

The Rays’ pitching is stingy, the Mariners’ bats get lively, a Brew Crew starter finally completes a game, the Pirates finally answer the A’s and Tim Lincecum finds his groove with a no-no. These notable numbers and more from the week of July 8-14.

3    Complete games by the Tampa Bay Rays’ pitching staff last week

The Rays' starters completed more games last week than starters of 18 teams have all season.

8:1    Strikeout:Walk ratio of the Rays’ pitching staff last week
The Rays are challenging the Red Sox in the AL East having won 17 of their last 21 and 14 of 16. The pitching dominated the Twins and Astros last week with 64 strikeouts and just eight walks. Rookie Chris Archer made two starts and logged 15 innings without issuing a free pass.

418    Games played by the Milwaukee Brewers between complete games

Milwaukee starting pitchers have taken the hill in 418 games — including 11 in the postseason — without throwing a complete game. Wily Peralta notched the first complete game of his career and the first for the Brewers since Yovani Gallardo tossed a two-hit shutout of the Braves on April 5, 2011. The game was also the first that Peralta’s mom, Miledy Peralta, saw her son pitch in person as a professional.

16-3    Pirates record when scoring two or more runs since June 16
Pittsburgh’s pitching has been dynamite over the past month. It doesn’t take much from the offense for the Bucs to pull out a win. Since the middle of June, whenever the lineup has mustered as much as two runs, the Pirates’ pitching makes it stand up — at least 16 of the past 19 times.

34    Home wins for Tampa Bay
That total is the most in baseball, but the Rays’ 21-22 road record leaves them with the third-best record in the American League, and fifth-best overall. If the Rays don’t win the AL East, it could be important that they host the wild card game rather than go on the road.

.524    Seattle Mariners’ slugging percentage last week
The mark led the majors as the Mariners put up 48 runs over seven games. The team batted .310 with 19 doubles and 11 home runs. The pitching staff wasn’t quite up to the task, which led to a 4-3 record. The Mariners have now homered in 22 consecutive games, raising their slugging percentage from .378 to .401 over that stretch.

74    Starts between complete games for Tim Lincecum
For more than two seasons, the former Cy Young winner has struggled with velocity and command. But last Saturday, The Freak finally put it all together and no-hit the San Diego Padres. Lincecum broke a string of 74 starts without finishing what he started.

24-14    Philadelphia’s record within the NL East
The Phillies own the best record in games within their division. They have just three NL East games (Mets) prior to the trade deadline. All but four of the Phillies’ September games are within their division, which may give them confidence they can win the division this season.

+127    St. Louis Cardinals’ run differential
The Redbirds ended the first half with a +127 run differential, easily the best in the majors. Only three other teams in the majors have a run differential more than half that of St. Louis (Boston +91, Detroit +89 and Atlanta +78).

2    Players in history with 30 home runs and 90 RBIs prior to the All-Star break

Both Chris Davis of Baltimore and the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera accomplished that this season.

11-1    Oakland’s all-time record vs. Pittsburgh
Since Interleague play began in 1997, no team has dominated another across league lines like the Oakland A’s have owned the Pittsburgh Pirates. The teams have rarely met, but when they got together prior to this season, it was all Oakland. The A’s swept three-game series in 2002, ’04 and ’10 before taking the first two of the three-game set this year. But lefthander Francisco Liriano helped the Pirates break the string by leading Pittsburgh to a 5-0 win on July 10, giving the Pirates a 1-11 record against the A’s.

.488    Allen Craig’s batting average with runners in scoring position and two outs
The highest average in any one season in the 2000s with a minimum of 60 plate appearances is .472 by Ichiro Suzuki with Seattle in 2004. At .475, Miguel Cabrera of Detroit also has a chance to top Ichiro’s mark this season.

9    Extra-base hits in last nine games for the Yankees
The Yankees have been anything but the Bronx bombers of late. Over the past nine games, they’ve managed just five doubles and four home runs. All nine games were played at Yankees Stadium, typically a hitter-friendly park for the home team.

Teaser:
The Rays’ pitching is stingy, the Mariners’ bats get lively, a Brew Crew starter finally completes a game, the Pirates finally answer the A’s and Tim Lincecum finds his groove with a no-no. These notable numbers and more from the week of July 8-14.
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 15:48
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Florida Gators, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/will-muschamp-takes-shot-ohio-state
Body:

Remember the stories about Ohio State turning in Florida for recruiting violations?

Well, Gators’ coach Will Muschamp had a few words for the Buckeyes (who were banned from a bowl game in 2012 due to NCAA violations) during his media day session on Tuesday. 

 

Teaser:
Will Muschamp Takes a Shot at Ohio State
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 14:26
Path: /college-football/renovated-husky-stadium-looks-awesome
Body:

Washington’s Husky Stadium was demolished after the 2011 season, forcing the Huskies to spend a year at the Seahawks’ CenturyLink Field for 2012.

However, Husky Stadium is rebuilt and ready to go for kickoff on Aug. 31 against Boise State. Don’t believe me? Check out the photo below.

Husky Stadium’s official twitter account (@HuskyStadium) posted this photo recently, showcasing the rebuilt and improved stadium for 2013.

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 11:14
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-idp-rankings
Body:

NFL training camps open up this week, meaning we are that much closer to the start of the regular season and fantasy football. While kickoff may still be nearly a month away, it's never too early to start preparing for your draft.

While fantasy football is more associated with offensive skill players, quite a few leagues out there also use the ones on the other side of the ball in their lineups. Individual Defensive Players (IDPs) can be just as valuable to your team, especially if you are fortunate enough to draft someone like J.J. Watt.

The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year was a fantasy monster last year, as he outscored the No. 2 defensive lineman (Cameron Wake) by more than 60 points and was the No. 1 IDP in all of fantasy football. Watt will be hard-pressed to repeat some of his numbers from 2012, such as his 16 passes defended, but as long as he stays healthy, he should be more than capable of justifying using a high draft pick on.

Fellow DLs Jason Pierre-Paul, DeMarcus Ware and Wake are next on our rankings, as they, like Watt, have a knack for getting to the quarterback and making the big play.

Typically the best bang for your buck when it comes to IDPs is at linebacker, as this is the position that usually racks up the tackles. Options like Luke Kuechly, San Francisco's All-Pro tandem of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, and James Laurinaitis, Lavonte David and Von Miller headline this group. Not to be left out are the defensive backs, who are capable of racking up quite a few fantasy points themselves, especially when they are able to convert an interception or a fumble recovery into a touchdown.

Chicago's Chris Tillman put on a clinic in this respect last season, turning three interceptions and two fumble recoveries into three scores while forcing a total of 10 fumbles by himself. The veteran Tillman will be another popular draft pick this year, along with younger options like Morgan Burnett, Mark Barron, Eric Berry, Harrison Smith and Richard Sherman.

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Individual Defensive Players (IDP) Rankings

RkPlayerTeamPosBye
1J.J. WattHOUDL8
2Jason Pierre-PaulNYGDL9
3DeMarcus WareDALDL11
4Cameron WakeMIADL6
5Luke KuechlyCARLB4
6Jared AllenMINDL5
7Patrick WillisSFLB9
8Mario WilliamsBUFDL12
9Elvis DumervilBALDL8
10James LaurinaitisSTLLB11
11Derrick JohnsonKCLB10
12Calais CampbellARIDL9
13Morgan BurnettGBDB4
14Mark BarronTBDB5
15Charles JohnsonCARDL4
16Geno AtkinsCINDL12
17NaVorro BowmanSFLB9
18Lavonte DavidTBLB5
19Osi UmenyioraATLDL6
20Von MillerDENLB9
21Julius PeppersCHIDL8
22Eric BerryKCDB10
23Paul PoslusznyJACLB9
24Eric WeddleSDDB8
25Jerod MayoNELB10
26Robert QuinnSTLDL11
27Corey LiugetSDDL8
28Harrison SmithMINDB5
29Richard ShermanSEADB12
30Cliff AvrilSEADL12
31Chandler JonesNEDL10
32Derrick MorganTENDL8
33Carlos DunlapCINDL12
34Sean WeatherspoonATLLB6
35D’Qwell JacksonCLELB10
36Cameron JordanNODL7
37Greg HardyCARDL4
38Bobby WagnerSEALB12
39Chad GreenwayMINLB5
40Charles TillmanCHIDB8
41Tyvon BranchOAKDB7
42Cortland FinneganSTLDB11
43Daryl WashingtonARILB9
44London FletcherWASLB5
45Aldon SmithSFLB9
46Haloti NgataBALDL8
47Anthony SpencerDALDL11
48Wesley WoodyardDENLB9
49Rob NinkovichNEDL10
50Arthur BrownBALLB8
51LaRon LandryINDDB8
52Antoine BetheaINDDB8
53Lawrence TimmonsPITLB5
54Bernard PollardTENDB8
55Janoris JenkinsSTLDB11
56Brian RobisonMINDL5
57Chris LongSTLDL11
58Patrick PetersonARIDB9
59Zach BrownTENLB8
60Brian CushingHOULB8
61Curtis LoftonNOLB7
62Lamarr HoustonOAKDL7
63Sean LeeDALLB11
64Terrell SuggsBALLB8
65Ziggy AnsahDETDL9
66Bruce IrvinSEADL12
67Reshad JonesMIADB6
68Eric ReidSFDB9
69Justin TuckNYGDL9
70Dawan LandryNYJDB10
71Devin McCourtyNEDB10
72Donald ButlerSDLB8
73Manti Te'oSDLB8
74Lance BriggsCHILB8
75Vontaze BurfictCINLB12

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

INDIVIDUAL DEFENSIVE PLAYER (IDP) SCORING
Solo tackle = 1 pt
Tackle assist = 0.5 pts
Sack = 3.5 pts
Interception = 3.5 pts
Forced fumble/recovery = 2 pts
Defensive TD = 8 pts
Safety = 2 pts
Pass Defended = 0.5 pts
Blocked Kick = 4 pts

Additional Fantasy Football Rankings:

2013 Big Board (Top 250)
Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams
Kickers
Defensive Linemen
Linebackers
Defensive Backs

 

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013: IDP Rankings
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-linebacker-rankings
Body:

NFL training camps open up this week, meaning we are that much closer to the start of the regular season and fantasy football. While kickoff may still be nearly a month away, it's never too early to start preparing for your draft.

With apologies to defensive linemen along the lines of a J.J. Watt and the occasional breakout season by a defensive back, a la Charles Tillman last season, linebackers are typically the most productive fantasy IDPs. Of the top 20 fantasy IDPs in 2012, the only non-LBs on the list were the aforementioned Watt and Tillman.

Since there are so many LBs out there capable of being a valuable fantasy contributor, who you need to target in your draft is somewhat dependent on personal preference. For example, if you are looking for someone who racks up a lot of tackles, Luke Kuechly, James Laurinaitis, Lavonte David and Paul Posluszny are some of the top options to consider. Kuechly, the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012, is a tackling machine whose value could reach another level should he find a way to increase his production in a few other categories.

There also are LBs who make a good living by piling up the sacks, such as Von Miller, Aldon Smith and Clay Matthews. Miller in particular is appealing because of his big-play ability (six forced fumbles in 2012). And then there are the solid, all-around LBs, those may not shine in any one category, but are no less valuable and can serve as the anchor of your IDP unit.

Teammates Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman highlight this list, along with Derrick Johnson, Jerod Mayo, Sean Weatherspoon and D'Qwell Jackson. Daryl Washington would be near the top as well, but he is scheduled to serve a four-game suspension to open the season, which hurts his overall value.

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Linebacker (LB) Rankings

RkPlayerTeamBye
1Luke KuechlyCAR4
2Patrick WillisSF9
3James LaurinaitisSTL11
4Derrick JohnsonKC10
5NaVorro BowmanSF9
6Lavonte DavidTB5
7Von MillerDEN9
8Paul PoslusznyJAC9
9Jerod MayoNE10
10Sean WeatherspoonATL6
11D’Qwell JacksonCLE10
12Bobby WagnerSEA12
13Chad GreenwayMIN5
14Daryl WashingtonARI9
15London FletcherWAS5
16Aldon SmithSF9
17Wesley WoodyardDEN9
18Arthur BrownBAL8
19Lawrence TimmonsPIT5
20Zach BrownTEN8
21Brian CushingHOU8
22Curtis LoftonNO7
23Sean LeeDAL11
24Terrell SuggsBAL8
25Clay MatthewsGB4
26Donald ButlerSD8
27Manti Te'oSD8
28Lance BriggsCHI8
29Vontaze BurfictCIN12
30Desmond BishopMIN5
31David HarrisNYJ10
32DeMeco RyansPHI12
33Dannell EllerbeMIA6
34Jarvis JonesPIT5
35Brandon GrahamPHI12
36Jerrell FreemanIND8
37Kevin MinterARI9
38Akeem AyersTEN8
39Mason FosterTB5
40Pat AngererIND8
41Alec OgletreeSTL11
42Perry RileyWAS5
43Rey MaualugaCIN12
44Justin HoustonKC10
45Jabaal SheardCLE10
46Brandon SpikesNE10
47Larry FootePIT5
48Mychal KendricksPHI12
49Russell AllenJAC9
50Karlos DansbyARI9

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

INDIVIDUAL DEFENSIVE PLAYER (IDP) SCORING
Solo tackle = 1 pt
Tackle assist = 0.5 pts
Sack = 3.5 pts
Interception = 3.5 pts
Forced fumble/recovery = 2 pts
Defensive TD = 8 pts
Safety = 2 pts
Pass Defended = 0.5 pts
Blocked Kick = 4 pts

Additional Fantasy Football Rankings:

2013 Big Board (Top 250)
Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams
Kickers
Top 75 IDP

Defensive Linemen
Defensive Backs

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013: Linebacker Rankings
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-defensive-lineman-rankings
Body:

NFL training camps open up this week, meaning we are that much closer to the start of the regular season and fantasy football. While kickoff may still be nearly a month away, it's never too early to start preparing for your draft.

Last season when it came to fantasy defensive linemen (DL), there was J.J. Watt and then everyone else. The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year not only outscored the No. 2 DL (Cameron Wake) by more than 60 points, he was the No. 1 IDP in all of fantasy football.

Besides collecting a league-high 20.5 sacks, one of the reasons Watt was so valuable was his all-around production, including 16 passes defended. It seems unlikely that Watt will be able to match that total this season, but that doesn't mean he can't come close to repeating his overall fantasy production. As remarkable a season as Watt had in 2012, keep one thing in mind — he didn't score a single touchdown.

Watt is not the only DL out there capable of being a difference-maker from a fantasy standpoint either. Jason Pierre-Paul, DeMarcus Ware, Wake, Jared Allen and Mario Williams also are capable of racking up the sack totals and making their fair share of big plays. Pierre-Paul and Ware in particular are two worth keeping an eye on during training camp and the preseason.

Pierre-Paul had back surgery on June 5 and the expected recovery time of 12 weeks puts his return right around the time of the Giants' season opener on Sept. 8. Pierre-Paul said he expects to be ready to go in Week 1, but this is a situation worth monitoring. Pierre-Paul's division rival, Ware, will have to adjust to a new position, as the Cowboys' transition to a 4-3 scheme means Ware will move from linebacker to defensive end. While he may not have been a top-tier LB, Ware's track record in the sack category alone should make him one of the top DLs in fantasy, provided he's able to maintain that production as his new position.

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Defensive Lineman (DL) Rankings

RkPlayerTeamBye
1J.J. WattHOU8
2Jason Pierre-PaulNYG9
3DeMarcus WareDAL11
4Cameron WakeMIA6
5Jared AllenMIN5
6Mario WilliamsBUF12
7Elvis DumervilBAL8
8Calais CampbellARI9
9Charles JohnsonCAR4
10Geno AtkinsCIN12
11Osi UmenyioraATL6
12Julius PeppersCHI8
13Robert QuinnSTL11
14Corey LiugetSD8
15Cliff AvrilSEA12
16Chandler JonesNE10
17Derrick MorganTEN8
18Carlos DunlapCIN12
19Cameron JordanNO7
20Greg HardyCAR4
21Haloti NgataBAL8
22Anthony SpencerDAL11
23Rob NinkovichNE10
24Brian RobisonMIN5
25Chris LongSTL11
26Muhammad WilkersonNYJ10
27Lamarr HoustonOAK7
28Ezekiel AnsahDET9
29Bruce IrvinSEA12
30Justin TuckNYG9
31Vince WilforkNE10
32Ndamukong SuhDET9
33Michael JohnsonCIN12
34Trent ColePHI12
35Everson GriffenMIN5
36Kroy BiermannATL6
37Marcell DareusBUF12
38Fletcher CoxPHI12
39Mathias KiwanukaNYG9
40Michael BennettSEA12
41Will SmithNO7
42Dwight FreeneySD8
43Jason BabinJAC9
44Robert MathisIND8
45Henry MeltonCHI8
46Star LotuleleiCAR4
47Dion JordanMIA6
48Sharrif FloydMIN5
49Damontre MooreNYG9
50Adrian ClaybornTB5

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

INDIVIDUAL DEFENSIVE PLAYER (IDP) SCORING
Solo tackle = 1 pt
Tackle assist = 0.5 pts
Sack = 3.5 pts
Interception = 3.5 pts
Forced fumble/recovery = 2 pts
Defensive TD = 8 pts
Safety = 2 pts
Pass Defended = 0.5 pts
Blocked Kick = 4 pts

Additional Fantasy Football Rankings:

2013 Big Board (Top 250)
Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams
Kickers
Top 75 IDP

Linebackers
Defensive Backs

 

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013: Defensive Lineman Rankings
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-defensive-back-rankings
Body:

NFL training camps open up this week, meaning we are that much closer to the start of the regular season and fantasy football. While kickoff may still be nearly a month away, it's never too early to start preparing for your draft.

Chris Tillman put together one of the finest IDP seasons by a defensive back in 2012. The veteran cornerback not only produced solid tackle totals (85), he recorded 16 passes defended, forced an impressive 10 fumbles, collected five takeaways and scored three touchdowns. Tillman was the No. 1 fantasy DB for the second straight year, one of the reasons why he's in our top 10 for 2013.

Also in our top 10 is Morgan Burnett, another NFC North DB, who is our pick for No. 1 because of his all-around production. A safety who plays more like a linebacker, Burnett is not afraid of doing the dirty work (123 total tackles in '12) and is just as capable of getting the job done in coverage (11 passes defended in 2011) as well. Others in the Tillman-Burnett mold who make our top 10 include second-year players Mark Barron and Harrison Smith, as well as more seasoned options like Eric Berry, Eric Weddle, Richard Sherman, Tyvon Branch and Cortland Finnegan.

Several fantasy stalwarts changed teams during the offseason, but should remain productive options in their new surroundings. The old faces in new places include LaRon Landry (Indianapolis), Bernard Pollard (Tennessee), Dawan Landry (New York Jets) and future Hall of Famer Ed Reed (Houston).

Lastly, some of the rookies to watch this season include Eric Reid in San Francisco, Matt Elam with Baltimore and Jacksonville's Johnathan Cyprien. As the aforementioned Smith and fellow 2012 draft pick Janoris Jenkins showed last season when they both ended up as top-five DBs, offensive rookies aren't the only ones who can have a fantasy impact.

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Defensive Back (DB) Rankings

RkPlayerTeamBye
1Morgan BurnettGB4
2Mark BarronTB5
3Eric BerryKC10
4Eric WeddleSD8
5Harrison SmithMIN5
6Richard ShermanSEA12
7Charles TillmanCHI8
8Tyvon BranchOAK7
9Cortland FinneganSTL11
10LaRon LandryIND8
11Antoine BetheaIND8
12Bernard PollardTEN8
13Janoris JenkinsSTL11
14Patrick PetersonARI9
15Reshad JonesMIA6
16Eric ReidSF9
17Dawan LandryNYJ10
18Devin McCourtyNE10
19William MooreATL6
20Matt ElamBAL8
21Ryan ClarkPIT5
22Jarius BrydBUF12
23Brandon FlowersKC10
24Jason McCourtyTEN8
25Tim JenningsCHI8
26Major WrightCHI8
27Da'Norris SearcyBUF12
28Roman HarperNO7
29Jonathan CyprienJAC9
30Ed ReedHOU8
31George WilsonTEN8
32Troy PolamaluPIT5
33Keenan LewisNO7
34Kam ChancellorSEA12
35Dee MillinerNYJ10
36Thomas DeCoudATL6
37Aqib TalibNE10
38Dashon GoldsonTB5
39Alterraun VernerTEN8
40Cary WilliamsPHI12
41Patrick ChungPHI12
42DeAngelo HallWAS5
43Reggie NelsonCIN12
44Madieu WilliamsWAS5
45T.J. McDonaldSTL11
46Kenny VaccaroNO7
47Brent GrimesMIA6
48Antoine CasonARI9
49Antrel RolleNYG9
50Desmond TrufantATL6

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

INDIVIDUAL DEFENSIVE PLAYER (IDP) SCORING
Solo tackle = 1 pt
Tackle assist = 0.5 pts
Sack = 3.5 pts
Interception = 3.5 pts
Forced fumble/recovery = 2 pts
Defensive TD = 8 pts
Safety = 2 pts
Pass Defended = 0.5 pts
Blocked Kick = 4 pts

Additional Fantasy Football Rankings:

2013 Big Board (Top 250)
Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams
Kickers

Top 75 IDP
Defensive Linemen
Linebackers

 

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013: Defensive Back Rankings
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: Baylor Bears, College Football, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/baylor-intentionally-posts-wrong-score-bowl-ring
Body:

It’s not too often we see a misprint on a championship ring on purpose. But that’s exactly the case with Baylor, as the Bears recorded their victory over UCLA as 49-19 on a bowl ring  – not 49-26 as evidenced by the final scoreboard in San Diego in late December.

So why the misprint?

UCLA scored a touchdown in the game’s final seconds, and despite replay clearly showing the receiver did not score, the review was not overturned, which made the final score 49-26.

Considering the touchdown shouldn’t have been allowed in the first place, it seems only fair Baylor got the correct score on its bowl ring. 

Photo from (@BUFootball)


Teaser:
Baylor Intentionally Posts Wrong Score on Bowl Ring
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 10:54
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /athlons-essential-11-links-day-july-16-2013
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for July 16.

 

• Tennis star Agnieszka Radwanska was a representative for a Catholic Youth Movement called Youth Crusade. Then she posed nude for ESPN and promptly lost the gig. That's one of the offending photos to the right.

 

• The most interesting moment of last night's Home Run Derby came when a fight broke out in the stands behind Mike Piazza's massive talking dome. In case you care about the actual competition, Yoenis Cespedes won impressively.

 

Bartolo Colon accidentally slapped Robinson Cano's kid, resulting in a hilarious GIF. (Hilarious if you like to watch a little kid get accidentally slapped.)

 

Jimmy Fallon sent Matt Harvey onto the streets of New York to ask random people their opinions of Matt Harvey. The results were amusing.

 

• This is kinda fun: A blogger eviscerates Mark May for criticizing Johnny Manziel. Note to armchair critics like May: The Internet has a long memory.

 

• So who's most likely to stir things up at SEC Media Days? Here are 12 candidates.

 

This photo of Charlie Weis must be seen. A mere description can't do it justice.

 

• This link has nothing to do with sports, but Florida Man, the world's worst superhero, has really outdone himself this time.

 

• Today's useless bit of knowledge: Rick Pitino is a fan of rapper Pitbull.

 

As someone who has always thought that Family Guy was a shamless Simpsons ripoff, I found this link particularly enjoyable.

 

• This awesome little Rockets fan is adorably excited about Dwight Howard's arrival and wants Shaq to know about it.

 

 

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 10:35
All taxonomy terms: College Football, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/sec-updates-championship-trophy-2013
Body:

Just in time for SEC Media Days, the conference has released its updated championship trophy for 2013.

There’s not too much of a difference between the old and the new version, which appeared in this photo last year after Alabama's victory over Georgia.

A simple trophy isn’t always bad thing. And the SEC got it right by not changing anything noticeable on the postseason hardware.


Teaser:
SEC Updates Championship Trophy for 2013
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 10:34
Path: /college-football/best-and-worst-times-be-michigan-football-fan
Body:

The first college football program to 900 wins is bound to have its share of high moments. Or an entire decade on top.

A Michigan Man, therefore, knows good football when he sees it. Any Michigan Man — or Michigan Woman — in Ann Arbor through the 1970s would have seen the best of modern Michigan. If Ohio State weren’t there to spoil otherwise undefeated seasons, Michigan would have been unstoppable.

The first generation of Michigan fans, though, knows a few things about unstoppable. As in, beating a team 128-0 unstoppable. Those were the kinds of results Michigan saw from coach Fielding Yost at the start of his 55-1-1 run at the turn of the century.

But Michigan fans, after being able to buy bowl tickets every year from 1975-2007, finally learned what it’s like to be on the other spectrum of college football when Rich Rodriguez led the Wolverines to an unthinkable 3-9 season in 2008. It got better, but not by much until recent seasons.

Picking the best times to be a Michigan fan, despite all their success, was actually pretty easy. Nearly the entire Bo Schembechler era fits, bookended by Yost’s “Point a Minute” teams and Lloyd Carr’s title-winning team in 1997.

The worst times, unfortunately for Michigan fans, are just as easy to identify.

Here are the best and worst time to root for the Maize and Blue.

BEST TIMES TO BE A MICHIGAN FAN

1969-80
Record: 114-21-3
National championships: 0
Coach: Bo Schembechler
Notable players: Dan Dierdorf, Jim Mandich, Dave Brown, Rick Leach, Reggie McKenzie, Tom Curtis, Anthony Carter, Mark Donahue
The Wolverines had been treading water before hiring the coach who would become the quintessential Michigan Man in Bo Schembechler. In 1969, Schembechler led Michigan to the Rose Bowl in his first season, setting up a string of 10 consecutive top-10 finishes in the AP poll. With a physical brand of football built up front thanks to linemen like Dierdorf, Michigan won at least a share of the Big Ten title eight times in Schembechler’s first 10 seasons, including a 41-3-1 run from 1971-74. Unfortunately for Michigan, that 0-3-1 came at the the hands of Ohio State. Despite the heartbreakers against Ohio State, By the end of the decade, Michigan finished with the fourth-most wins during the ‘70s.

1997-99
Record:
32-5
National championships: 1
Coach: Lloyd Carr
Notable players: Jon Jansen, Charles Woodson, Jarrett Irons, Brian Griese, Tom Brady, Anthony Thomas
Michigan fans soured on Carr by the end of his tenure, but Carr revived the Wolverines after the lackluster late years of Gary Moeller. The high point was the 1997 season when Michigan won its first national title since 1948. Woodson won the Heisman in ’97, but he wouldn’t become the best pro out of this group — that would be two-year starter Tom Brady in ’98-99.

1901-05
Record: 55-1-1
National championships: 4
Coach: Fielding Yost
Notable players: Willie Heston, Neil Snow
Before the turn of the century, the Ivy League ruled college football. That changed with Fielding Yost’s five-year run starting in 1901. Michigan won four consecutive pre-AP national championships from ’01-04. The “Point a Minute” Michigan teams outscored opponents 2,821-42, but no team was more impressive than the 1901 squad that defeated opponents by a combined score of 550-0.

WORST TIMES TO BE A MICHIGAN FAN

2007-10
Record: 24-26
Coach: Lloyd Carr, Rich Rodriguez
On paper, Lloyd Carr’s final season in 2007 wasn’t bad — 9-4 and a win over Heisman winner Tim Tebow in the Capital One Bowl for a top-20 finish. But the season started with one of the most embarrassing losses in school history against Appalachian State. After Carr, Michigan attempted to shake up its approach by hiring a non-Michigan Man in Rodriguez from West Virginia. The experiment was a disaster. Rodriguez led Michigan to a 3-9 year in his first season for Michigan’s first losing season since 1967. Rodriguez modernized the offense to the spread with Denard Robinson, but by then, the defense was a sieve. Rodriguez was fired with a 15-22 mark to become the only Michigan coach with a career losing record.

1934-37
Record: 10-22
Coach: Harry Kipke
Michigan went 15-0-1 in 1932-33, but the wheels fell off in spectacular fashion. Credit Kipke with consistency, though: He went 1-7, 4-4, 1-7 and 4-4 in his final four seasons. The Ohio State rivalry was in its pre-Woody and Bo stages, but the Buckeyes defeated Michigan by a combined score of 114-0 during these four years.

1958-67
Record:
45-46-3
Coach: Bennie Oosterbaan, Bump Elliott
Michigan went 9-1 with a Rose Bowl win in 1964, but that was the outlier in this lost decade for Wolverines football. Otherwise, Michigan finished fifth or lower in the Big Ten every other season during this span, including a last-place finish in 1962.

Related College Football Content
2013 Big Ten Predictions
2013 Big Ten All-Conference Team
Big Ten's Top 2013 Heisman Contenders
Big Ten's Best Football Traditions
College Football's Top 50 Defensive Linemen of the BCS Era
College Football's Top 15 Winners From Conference Realignment
College Football's 2013 All-Freshman Team
2013 All-America Team 

Teaser:
Which era would a true Michigan Man pick?
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Funny, GIF, Overtime
Path: /overtime/meanwhile-tour-de-france-gif
Body:

So...uh...maybe I should be watching the Tour de France.

Teaser:
Meanwhile at the Tour de France (GIF)
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 08:36
Path: /college-football/florida-state-football-game-game-predictions-2013
Body:

Jameis WinstonClemson is the heavy favorite to win the ACC Atlantic title, but Florida State isn’t too far behind in the division pecking order. The Seminoles return 10 starters, including one of the best offensive lines in the ACC, and a plethora of talented skill players at running back and receiver. The defense returns only four starters, but there’s no shortage of talented options stepping into the lineup.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston is expected to be one of college football’s top breakout players for 2013, and the first-year starter could be an All-ACC quarterback by the end of the season. If Winston quickly settles into the starting role, and the coaching staff meshes with six new assistants, Florida State could be in position for a BCS bowl at the end of the year. 

What will Florida State's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates: 


Florida State's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
 

GameSteven
Lassan
Braden
Gall
John
Cassillo
David
Fox
Matt
McClusky
Mark
Ross
9/2 at Pittsburgh
9/14 Nevada
9/21 Bethune-Cookman
9/28 at Boston College
10/5 Maryland
10/19 at Clemson
10/26 NC State
11/2 Miami
11/9 Wake Forest
11/16 Syracuse
11/23 Idaho
11/30 at Florida
Final Projection10-210-210-210-210-210-2

 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
For a team that will start a redshirt freshman quarterback, has six new assistant coaches and must replace a handful of key players on defense, the Seminoles drew the perfect schedule for 2013. Sure, there’s potential for road upset losses at Wake Forest or Pittsburgh, but it’s hard to see Florida State losing three games this year. Road dates at Clemson and Florida will be the toughest on the schedule, and the home Nov. 2 matchup against Miami will be a challenge. The Seminoles should get better as the year progresses and having five games before playing Clemson is a huge advantage for their ACC Atlantic title hopes. However, the Tigers have won five consecutive matchups against Florida State in Death Valley and should hold the edge in this contest for 2013. With a favorable schedule and a potential superstar in Jameis Winston taking over at quarterback, the Seminoles could use 2013 as a stepping stone to an even bigger 2014.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
The question is for Florida State is, as always, if the Seminoles are going to get tripped up against an opponent they should defeat soundly. It’s really tough to pinpoint one for 2013. NC State has won two of the last three, but both of those victories were in Raleigh. The opener against Pittsburgh seems like a good upset-bait kind of game, but the Panthers might not be good enough to pull that off early in the season. If Florida State is going to stumble, my guess is that it comes around the Miami or Wake Forest games. Miami has lost three in a row in the series, but the Hurricanes usually play well in Tallahassee. As for the Florida game — unless Jameis Winston turns out to be a game-breaking quarterback by the regular season finale. That’s going to be a defensive slugfest.


Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
This is a really, really talented Florida State team that can absolutely win the league. That said, two factors may keep this team from winning back-to-back ACC championships. Starting quarterback Jameis Winston will be a superstar eventually, but he will be making his first 12 appearances on a college gridiron this season. And the Clemson game will be in Death Valley. Otherwise, there is little standing in the way of another 10-win season for Jimbo Fisher. The annual bout with Miami comes in Doak Campbell and may be the only other ACC game the Seminoles aren't heavily favored in.

John Cassillo, (@JohnCassillo), Atlantic Coast Convos
Florida State's defense will be fine once again, so don't expect a drop-off on that side of the ball at all. Where there may be some concern, however, is with the quarterback situation. I believe redshirt freshman Jameis Winston is the real deal, but his ability to jump right into the starting passer role is imperative to the Seminoles' success this year. The schedule, of course, lays out nicely for a nine-win season at the very least. But whether Winston's ready for the spotlight will be the deciding factor in tough matchups with Clemson, Miami and Florida, respectively.


Matt McClusky, (@MatthewMcClusky), NunesMagician.com
It's been an interesting few months since last we saw Florida State beat down Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl. Gone is most of the defense, starting quarterback, and six assistant coaches. But Jimbo Fisher's squad still has more than enough young talent to hang around the top of the ACC this season. Freshmen Jameis Winston, likely heir to EJ Manuel's QB throne, shined in the spring, and new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, a Nick Saban disciple, should have an immediate impact. Game one at Pittsburgh could be a season-definer, if only because of its meaning for the Panthers, playing their first ever ACC game against a top-tier team. Lose here and it's a season wasted for Florida State. I say Seminoles survive and then fatten up on cupcakes before a mid-October showdown with Clemson. Personally, I think the Tigers are a sleeper for the BCS title game, meaning Florida State isn't leaving Death Valley on good terms. The only other L out there for the Seminoles should be at Florida to close the year, but you have to wonder if there is another boneheaded loss out there, a la N.C. State in 2012? If not it will be another respectable 10 wins in Tallahassee and a bowl sponsored by a product you've actually heard of. Not exactly the national championship, but there's always next year, 'Noles fans! Actually, 2014 could be the year you've been waiting for.

Mark Ross
EJ Manuel is in the NFL, but redshirt freshman Jameis Winston should become the next great Seminole signal-caller. Winston will have the weapons to do some damage on offense and also benefits from not having to face the FSU defense. That said, he is still young and inexperienced, and I think the growing pains will be on full display in the 'Noles' two toughest games of the season - at Clemson and at Florida. Outside of these two, I think Jimbo Fisher's team has a great shot at 10 wins in the regular season, although even that may not be enough for the Noles to get a chance to defend their ACC crown.


Related College Football Content

12 Steps to Fix ACC Football
Clemson Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013

ACC Predictions for 2013
ACC All-Conference Team for 2013
ACC's Top Heisman Contenders for 2013
College Football's Top 15 Winners From Conference Realignment
College Football's 2013 All-America Team
College Football's All-Freshman Team for 2013
College Football's Top 50 Offensive Linemen of the BCS Era
College Football's Top 10 Most-Improved Teams for 2013
Virginia Tech's Struggling Offense Gets a Makeover

Teaser:
Florida State Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 07:16
Path: /college-football/american-athletic-football-breakout-players-2013
Body:

Every year, college football fans are introduced to a handful of players that become household names by the end of the season. Predicting which players will breakout any year is never an easy task.

The American Athletic Conference is a league in transition for 2013, as Pittsburgh and Syracuse left for the ACC, and UCF, Houston, SMU and Memphis have joined from Conference USA. With all of the change coming to the conference, there's no question it will take some time for all of the new players and teams to get acclimated to one another in 2013.

Defining what is a breakout player is nearly impossible. Everyone has a different perspective on how players are viewed around the conference and nationally. Athlon's list of breakout players for 2013 tries to take into account which names will be known nationally (not just within the conference) by the end of season. 
 

American Athletic Conference Breakout Players for 2013

Ralph David Abernathy IV, RB, Cincinnati
Cincinnati fans are aware of how dangerous Abernathy IV can be with the ball in his hands. Now it’s time for the rest of college football to take notice. The Georgia native rushed for 366 yards and three touchdowns last year, while catching 28 passes for 341 yards and four scores. Abernathy IV also has one kickoff return for a touchdown in his career. With George Winn expiring his eligibility, the Bearcats will likely turn to Abernathy IV to carry more of the workload in the backfield. At 5-foot-7, 161 pounds, the junior isn’t likely to record 250 carries. However, he should see an increased role on offense this year.

Gerald Christian, TE, Louisville
Another weapon for Teddy Bridgewater? That’s what Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson hopes to see out of Christian in 2013. In two years with the Gators, he only caught four passes for 72 yards and one score. However, the Florida native ranked as a four-star prospect by Rivals and played in the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Look for the 6-foot-3 junior to be another valuable receiving threat for the Cardinals in 2013.

Jalen Fitzpatrick, WR, Temple
With the switch to a pro-style attack in 2013, Temple will be looking to throw more than it did over the last two years. Fitzpatrick was the Owls’ leading receiver, catching 30 passes for 363 yards and two scores last year, including six for 55 yards against Pittsburgh in late October. At 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, Fitzpatrick isn’t the biggest receiver, but he is the team’s top playmaker and should utilize his speed to make big plays in Temple’s new offense.

Deion Green, DE, UCF
Green made a strong debut last year, recording 18 tackles and four sacks in 12 contests. The Orlando native made only one start but was named to Conference USA’s All-Freshman Team. UCF is counting on Green to be a major contributor at defensive end, especially with first-team All-Conference USA performer Troy Davis expiring his eligibility at the end of 2012.

Deontay Greenberry, WR, Houston
Even with the departure of running back Charles Sims, Houston should have one of the American Athletic Conference’s top offenses in 2013. The Cougars averaged 32.4 points a game last year despite inconsistent quarterback play, and coach Tony Levine’s decision to hire Doug Meacham as co-offensive coordinator should pay dividends. Greenberry was a huge catch on the recruiting trail for Levine, and he didn’t disappoint as a true freshman, grabbing 47 receptions for 569 yards and three scores. The sophomore should approach 60-70 catches in 2013 and is an Athlon Sports second-team American Athletic Conference selection for this season.

Savon Huggins, RB, Rutgers
Huggins ranked as the No. 28 overall player in the 2011 Athlon Consensus 100, but the junior is still looking for his breakout season. Jawan Jamison shouldered the load for Rutgers over the last two years, and he decided to move onto the NFL at the end of 2012. With Jamison gone, 2013 should be Huggins’ time to shine. He rushed for 179 yards on 41 attempts against Cincinnati last year and recorded 48 yards on 18 attempts in the bowl loss against Virginia Tech. Huggins could be the American Athletic Conference’s top running back in 2013.

Steve Longa, LB, Rutgers
With the departure of Steve Beauharnais and Khaseem Greene, Rutgers’ linebacking corps must be rebuilt. But new coordinator Dave Cohen has plenty to work with, including senior Jamal Merrell who should be in the mix for all-conference honors this year. Longa will fill Beauharnais’ shoes on the interior, and he is one of the defense’s most promising players for 2013, ranking as one of New Jersey’s top 10 high school prospects in 2012. 

Jeff Luc, LB, Cincinnati
With Greg Blair and Nick Temple returning, Cincinnati’s linebacking corps was already set to be the best in the American Athletic Conference this year. And this group could be among the top groups in the nation, provided Luc lives up to the hype in 2013. Luc played in 19 games with Florida State, recording 23 tackles and three tackles for a loss. The Florida native was regarded as a top-100 recruit coming out of high school.

Keiwone Malone, WR, Memphis
The Tigers return six starters from an offense that averaged 318.3 yards per game last season, so this unit has room to improve in the first year of play in the American Athletic Conference. Quarterback Jacob Karam settled into the starting role last year, but he will be pushed by Paxton Lynch and Eric Mathews for snaps. With more expected from the quarterbacks, Malone should have an opportunity to build off a solid sophomore campaign. He caught 44 passes for 476 yards and three scores, including 10 catches for 102 yards against MTSU. If Memphis continues to improve its quarterback play, Malone could make a push for all-conference honors.

Lorenzo Mauldin/Marcus Smith, DE, Louisville
With few glaring holes and the return of nine starters, much of the focus this offseason for Louisville’s defense was on upgrading the rush defense and pass rush. The Cardinals ranked 78th nationally in sacks per game (1.7) last year and allowed 148 rush yards per contest. Mauldin and Smith will play a key role in both areas this season, as both players combined for 8.5 sacks and 51 stops in 2012. If Smith and Mauldin raise their game up a notch, the Cardinals should show improvement on the stat sheet and rank as one of the top defensive lines in the American Athletic Conference.

Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF
The last name Perriman is no stranger to the wide receiver position, as Breshad’s father Brett played 10 years in the NFL. And Breshad is set to emerge as a household name in the American Athletic Conference in 2013. As a freshman last season, Perriman caught 26 passes for 388 yards and three scores, with his best performance coming in the bowl victory over Ball State (five receptions for 90 yards). With a full offseason to work with quarterback Blake Bortles, Perriman could be UCF’s leading receiver and top big-play threat in 2013. 

Shakim Phillips, WR, Connecticut
After struggling mightily on offense under George DeLeone, coach Paul Pasqualoni hired T.J. Weist to spice things up in Storrs this year. Weist plans on implementing a spread attack, but the Huskies have to play better on the line for the offense to improve. With the switch in play-callers and scheme, Phillips is expected to be involved more in the offense. The Boston College transfer caught 32 passes for 399 yards and one score in his debut with Connecticut last year.

Sean Price, TE, South Florida
As a true freshman last year, Price tied for third on the team with 21 catches and ranked fourth with 209 receiving yards. Price’s 2013 season is even more impressive when you consider he didn’t catch a pass through the first six weeks of the year, and South Florida lost quarterback B.J. Daniels to an injury late in the season. Price’s best performance came against Cincinnati, grabbing five receptions for 29 yards. At Western Kentucky, new USF coach Willie Taggart’s top two tight ends combined for 66 receptions last year. Expect Price to be heavily involved in the Bulls’ passing attack in 2013.

Stephon Sanders, LB, SMU
The Mustangs’ defense will miss the playmaking ability of Ja’Gared Davis and Taylor Reed, but the return of Sanders and Randall Joyner should keep this defense performing at a high level. Sanders made 12 starts last year and recorded 48 tackles in 13 games. The Texas native also recorded one interception and broke up five passes in 2012. Sanders will anchor the outside of the linebacking corps, and he will be counted on to help replace some of the pass rush departing from Davis and Reed.

Traylon Shead, RB, SMU
SMU’s Zach Line was one of the most productive running backs in college football over the last four years, rushing for 4,185 yards and 47 touchdowns in his Mustang career. Line expired his eligibility after the Hawaii Bowl, which opens the door for Shead to become SMU’s new starting running back. The junior college recruit began his career at Texas but transferred in search of more playing time. Shead was a four-star recruit by Rivals and rushed for 10,291 yards in his high school career. At 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, Shead has the size to be a three-down back and a goal-line presence for the Mustangs in 2013. 

Related College Football Content

American Athletic Predictions for 2013
American Athletic All-Conference Team for 2013
College Football's Top 15 Winners From Conference Realignment
Which Schools are Most Likely to Win their First Heisman?
College Football's Top 25 Impact Transfers for 2013
College Football's 2013 All-America Team
College Football's Top 10 Most-Improved Teams for 2013
College Football's 2013 All-Freshman Team
College Football's Best Coaching Trees

 

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/what-college-football-program-closest-it-first-title
Body:

Alabama’s trophy case is getting full. Come to think of it, most of the teams that have won national championships in recent years are doubling and tripling up on title trophies and then some.

The last time a team won a national championship for the first time in program history was 1996 when Florida defeated Florida State in the Sugar Bowl.

Oregon came close to its first national championship in 2010. Stanford is right there, too. Boise State has gone undefeated. And that Ol’ Ball Coach from Florida has good reason to think national title again, this time at South Carolina.

Alabama is a unanimous preseason pick to win the national championship, its third in four seasons. But what if a new face usurps the Crimson Tide? Which program could it be?

We’ve ranked 10 schools in the likelihood of the program’s ability to win a national title in the next five to 10 seasons, based on recruiting, coaching, resources and program trajectory.

For sake of consistency, we looked only at programs that have not won an Associated Press, coaches’ poll or BCS title since the AP poll began in 1936.

WHICH PROGRAM IS CLOSEST TO ITS FIRST NATIONAL TITLE?

1. Oregon
Record since 1936: 425-278-18 (.529)
Closest call: Lost to Auburn in the 2010 BCS Championship Game
A dormant program before Rich Brooks took Oregon to the Rose Bowl in 1994, Oregon has been knocking on the door for its first national title, losing 22-19 to Auburn in the BCS Championship Game in 2010. Auburn’s fortunate call on a run by Michael Dyer in the fourth quarter wasn’t the only time luck went against the Ducks. Oregon was ranked second in the AP and coaches’ polls after the 2001 regular season, but the BCS' computer average and strength of schedule components put No. 2 Nebraska into the Rose Bowl for the title against Miami. The 2007 team was ranked as high No. 2 in the BCS standings until quarterback Dennis Dixon suffered a torn ACL. Each coach since Brooks has kept Oregon in the national title conversation. That bodes well first year-coach Mark Helfrich, who has a title contender in 2013. Especially with minimal sanctions from the NCAA in the Willie Lyles case, the infrastructure is strong for Oregon to win its first title.

2. Stanford
Record since 1936:
401-380-22 (.513)
Closest call: No. 4 in the final BCS standings in 2010 and 2011
The thought of Stanford competing for a national championship would have been far-fetched before 2010. Even Ty Willingham’s Rose Bowl team in 1999 finished the regular season 8-3. Few programs have changed their spot in the college football world as dramatically as Stanford in the last five years. David Shaw signed a top-10 recruiting class in 2012 and followed that with a quality-not-quantity 12-man class in 2013. Jim Harbaugh and Shaw proved Stanford can compete for titles despite stringent academic standards.

3. South Carolina
Record since 1936:
406-399-26 (.504)
Closest call: Started 9-0 and ranked as high as No. 2 in 1984, finished 10-2
Under Steve Spurrier, South Carolina has shaken itself out of mediocrity to become a power in the SEC East. The fan support and commitment has been there, but not the football results. Now that both are lockstep, South Carolina can enter the national picture. On top of keeping prospects like Jadeveon Clowney and Marcus Lattimore in state, South Carolina has been able to recruit into Georgia (to the detriment of Tennessee). Now, all South Carolina needs to do is defeat Alabama, LSU or Texas A&M in the SEC Championship Game.

4. Oklahoma State
Record since 1936:
412-404-22 (.505)
Closest call: Reached No. 2 in the BCS standings in 2011 before a mid-November lost to Iowa State
Before 2011, Oklahoma State hadn’t even won an outright conference title since 1926, so a national conference championship has been out of the question for decades. Thanks to an influx of money from T. Boone Pickens plus stadium and facility upgrades, Oklahoma State looks like a power program. Thanks to recruiting inroads in Texas, Oklahoma State has the talent of a Big 12 power. And thanks to Mike Gundy’s magic touch with hiring offensive coordinators, Oklahoma State has a clear identity. Gundy’s flirtations with Tennessee this offseason, plus any signs of Texas reasserting itself, have to make Oklahoma State fans nervous, however.

5. Louisville
Record since 1936:
411-353-12 (.537)
Closest call: A 12-1 season in 2006, the only loss by a field goal to Rutgers
With a men’s basketball team winning the national title, the women’s basketball team playing in the championship game and the baseball team reaching the College World Series, Louisville is having the multi-sport success programs like Ohio State, Florida and Texas usually have. The football program is no exception, entering the 2013 season in the top 10 following a Sugar Bowl rout of Florida. A stadium expansion and robust infrastructure built by athletic director Tom Jurich will keep Louisville an attractive destination for coaches and recruits. And if Charlie Strong stays through his contract extension into 2020, the Cardinals will have one of the nation’s top coaches for years to come. Thanks to a move to the ACC next season, conference alignment shouldn’t be as significant a barrier.

6. Wisconsin
Record since 1936:
419-375-27 (.527)
Closest call: Finished the 1962 season ranked No. 2 before a Rose Bowl loss
Under normal circumstances, we might be tempted to say Wisconsin’s national title window has closed. Bret Bielema, the coach who led the Badgers to three consecutive Rose Bowls, left for a middle-tier SEC job at Arkansas. Meanwhile, Michigan and Ohio State are poised to be the Big Ten’s one-two punch once again. Gary Andersen, though, could be a slam-dunk hire after he turned Utah State into a back-to-back bowl team and conference champion. Regardless of what’s going on in Columbus or Ann Arbor, Wisconsin should be able to corner the market on offensive line talent, which is always a good championship foundation.

7. Boise State
Record since 1936:
254-72-2 (.777)
Closest call: Started 10-0 in 2010 before losing 34-31 in overtime to Nevada, finished 11-1
Boise State has finished undefeated twice since 2006 but has never finished a season ranked higher than fourth in the AP poll. In 2013, the Broncos are gearing up for potentially a third BCS appearance. Still, perhaps no program will be more happy to see the College Football Playoff arrive than Boise State, assuming the four playoff spots don’t exclusively go to major-conference programs. Regardless, Boise State will need to continue to unearth prospects and focus on superior player development in recruiting to be able to compete with other national powers. The biggest detriment to Boise State’s title hopes may not be the BCS or the Playoff, but the potential departure of Chris Petersen.

8. Virginia Tech
Record since 1936:
473-335-21
Closest call: Lost to Florida State in the national title game following the 1999 season
Virginia Tech won at least 10 games each season from 2004-11, but the Hokies never got closer than when Michael Vick was on campus in 1999 and 2000. Now, there are questions about Virginia Tech's momentum. This will be a telling season for Virginia Tech’s hopes in the next few years as the Hokies recover from a 7-6 season. The next big test will be the retirement of Frank Beamer, the only coach who has won consistently in Blacksburg.

9. Ole Miss
Record since 1936:
479-338-20
Closest call: Ranked No. 2 in the AP poll and finished 10-0-1 in 1960
Ole Miss finished in the top three of the AP poll three times from 1959-62 and was picked No. 1 by the Football Writers Association of America in 1960. The departure of John Vaught brought mediocrity. The Rebels have ample in-state talent to lay the foundation of a title-winning team, but they need to recruit on par with teams like Alabama and LSU just to get out of the SEC West. That’s starting to happen under Hugh Freeze, but consistency has not been Ole Miss’ strong suit.

10. North Carolina
Record since 1936:
436-376-18
Closest call: Ranked as high as No. 4 in 1997, finished 10-1 with 20-3 loss to Florida State
North Carolina deserves sleeping giant mention, especially if the ongoing academic scandal doesn’t cut too deep into the football program. Larry Fedora appears to be the answer after three counterproductive coaching hires following the Mack Brown era. If North Carolina (or NC State, for that matter) can corral in-state recruiting, the Tar Heels could build a good foundation to become a national player.

Others of note:
Arkansas: The Razorbacks have the most wins of any team since 1936 without winning an AP or coaches’ poll title (509). Bobby Petrino left the Razorbacks little to work with, though.


Baylor: Art Briles is one of the nation’s best coaches, and the new stadium will be a palace. But still a big step from nine wins with Robert Griffin III to title contender.

Cal: If Stanford can become a national power, there’s little reason Cal can’t follow. The Bears need to find their footing post-Jeff Tedford first.

Kansas State: The Wildcats were in contention last season, plus other seasons in the late 90s, but we wonder what happens when Bill Snyder retires a second time.

West Virginia: Missed a window with the shocking loss to Pittsburgh in 2007. Now in the Big 12, the Mountaineers need time to consistently challenge programs like Oklahoma and Texas.

Teaser:
The last first-time national champion came in 1996. Is that about to change?
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 06:32

Pages