Articles By All

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
Path: /nascar/vickers-earns-first-nascar-win-2009-new-hampshire
Body:

There was a time Brian Vickers was left for dead. I’m not just talking NASCAR here, I’m talking life.  Brian Vickers

It was the summer of 2010, and a healthy 26-year-old male had gone from a ride he handpicked at Team Red Bull to a hospital in critical condition. Diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism, a series of blood clots threatened to tear it all to shreds. Vickers had been through some harrowing moments before, losing best friend Ricky Hendrick to a plane crash at age 21. But when you’re faced with this kind of test, one where a bad outcome could lead to no second chances, it’s the kind of moment that changes one’s outlook on life.

“You wake up one morning and you're just not sure,” he said in Victory Lane Sunday. “You're just hoping to be around the next, to are you ever going to race again?”

He would. The recovery happened, but the comeback … that was several years in the making. Returning to Red Bull Racing after months of rehab, his results were never the same and by the tail end of 2011, he was unemployed; damaged goods in a world where just one knock on your talent was enough to take you down forever. It actually was a stroke of luck that earned him a chance at Michael Waltrip Racing. That February, Elliott Sadler was contracted to drive the No. 55 car but Chevrolet stepped in and kept the deal from getting done. A conflict of interest gave Vickers a second, and likely final, chance after a decade racing in the sport.

Ever since that moment, where he was allowed to strap inside that Toyota, he’s made the most of it – no looking back. In a sport in need of “feel good” stories, there was a reason everyone lined up to shake Vickers’ hand after Sunday’s triumph. It wasn’t so much a win on the racetrack as a victory in the great game we called life, a long time coming for one of the sport’s good guys who truly earned it.

What other long-term rewards might come next? Let’s go “Through the Gears” before this off weekend to discover what else popped up during a weekend of racing in New Hampshire …



FIRST GEAR: Brian Vickers earned himself a ride.Some might call it track position warfare, a fuel strategy call that put Vickers towards the front at the right time. Since stepping behind the wheel at MWR, he’s actually had more dominant cars at Bristol and Martinsville the past two years. But the bottom line is when the checkered flag flew, the No. 55 car finished first and that counts on the stat sheet. If anyone has any sense at Aaron’s, they’ll be signing on the dotted line to give this guy a full 2014 season to run for the Cup championship.

“When your back is against the wall and everything is down and things are not looking so good,” Vickers explained, crediting this team for believing in his ability, “You find out quickly who is willing to vouch for you. I learned a lot through that experience personally and I grew a lot as a person.”

That paid off on-track too, with newfound patience that allowed him to conserve equipment, then expertly run down and pass heavyweights Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch down the stretch. The question now is whether he’ll be allowed to fight again over the long-term. Crew chief Rodney Childers, whom Vickers has known for two decades, is being highly courted by rival Stewart-Haas Racing to chief the and No. 4 car and Kevin Harvick for a 2014 campaign. Sponsor Aaron’s is under new ownership, rethinking their presence in the sport during a time when the financial bottom lines for so many companies no longer involve NASCAR. Challenges still remain here for a team that, for all intents and purposes, could come out of the box a title contender next season. When you earn top-5 finishes with each man you put in the car: Michael Waltrip, Mark Martin and Vickers, and in the process, put the team in contention for the season-long owners’ championship I’d say that’s a Herculean effort.

The question now is, after the perfect pass on Stewart and then defense of his track position late, whether New Hampshire’s 11th winner in 11 races did enough to convince the powers that be. Common sense would have you saying yes; but then again, isn’t Dale Earnhardt Jr. still waiting on a primary sponsor? How this business side unfolds tells you a lot about where NASCAR stands in the 2013 economy.



SECOND GEAR: Busch’s bad breaks are adding up.You know Kurt Busch’s maturity has reached a new stage when it’s his younger brother getting mad for him after a wreck. That’s exactly what happened on Sunday afternoon once Kurt’s promising day got wiped out in a three-car incident on Lap 226.

Stuck in traffic through a pit shuffle after leading 102 circuits, Kurt’s No. 78 Chevy was simply trying to work its way back through traffic. But while battling side-by-side with Ryan Newman for position the cars lost momentum, Matt Kenseth’s front bumper came into play and the rest is history. While I chalked it up as “one of those racing deals,” younger Kyle didn’t see it that way – pointing the finger squarely at an overaggressive Newman for causing the contact.

"Man, just stupidity,” Kyle Busch said bluntly. “I mean, Ryan Newman is the biggest stupid idiot out here. And he's a big ogre and he can do whatever he wants because he can probably kick anybody's butt, so no sense in getting into a fight with him."

That confrontation is one Kurt still would have gone after in recent years … but not Sunday. Instead, he took a moment to cool down, then spoke to reporters calmly while the crew put the Furniture Row car back together again. Their hard work, resulting in a 31st-place result, earned the team 5-7 more points that could come in handy down the stretch.

It’s possible Newman’s future relationship with Kurt – he could be headed towards ally Richard Childress Racing next season – kept paybacks and soundbites to a minimum. Or perhaps Busch is more focused on keeping up his own momentum, following the fifth or sixth time this season a possible win slipped away. Like a cat with nine lives, he’s given up well over 100 points through wrecks, mechanical failures and self-induced pit road mistakes. You can only withstand so much adversity before the team itself starts losing confidence. A strong bounceback after the off week is critical to keep the elder Busch in contention.

As for Kyle? He better hope the No. 39 driver, if there’s nothing to lose at Richmond, doesn’t approach the rear bumper of the No. 18. Little Busch is right about one thing: this is one guy who doesn’t back down from a battle.



THIRD GEAR: Big-time performances when needed.Vickers wasn’t the only driver who came out of nowhere at Loudon. Jeff Burton, whose last appearance up front seemed like it was back in the 20th century, was the fastest car in the field as laps wound down. With the right track position and a few more laps, the No. 31 car could have just as easily won the race. It’s been a quiet, steady improvement over in the Caterpillar camp, running outside the top 20 just once since Memorial Day Weekend – and that was courtesy of a Tony Stewart bump in Sonoma.

“I don't think everybody understands this,” Burton explained. “This is Luke (Lambert’)s first year as a Cup crew chief; this is one of my engineer's second year as a Cup crew chief; the other engineer, it's his first year as a Cup crew engineer. It's our first time all working together. We are starting to learn each other.”

It couldn’t have come at a better time. Now just 25 points outside a Chase position with seven races left, Burton has strong tracks like Bristol and Richmond dead ahead. With all of RCR on the upswing, including Kevin Harvick’s run of consistency, it’s not inconceivable this veteran could make a run.

It’s one that Brad Keselowski is already doing, after a Friday pole position turned into a fourth-place performance on Sunday, his best since Bristol in March. After a week outside the top 10 in points, he’s back up to ninth and can head into the off week breathing easy. Indy lies up ahead, the site of owner Roger Penske’s greatest achievements and a place where they feel both he and Joey Logano will be contenders. No one battling for those final few spots in the Chase needed this type of weekend more.



FOURTH GEAR: Passing came at a premium.  Kyle BuschKyle Busch was a quote machine Sunday, explaining succinctly why so much of New Hampshire turned ‘round into a single-file parade.

“Even Superman didn't pass today,” he said. “Or even if he did, he didn't make it up to the lead. Once you get within five car lengths of the wake of the car in front of you, you can't do anything anymore.”

What Busch refers to is the dreaded “aero push,” a tight condition that’s even made its way to one-mile tracks like New Hampshire. It’s the worst nightmare for NASCAR’s Gen-6 chassis, a vehicle that looks much flashier but whose handling all too often had fallen flat like its CoT predecessor.

How do you fix it? That answer’s unclear. But NASCAR seems to be suffering from a case of too much parity. When all the cars run the same speed, combined with tires that don’t fall off and air that makes handling even more irritable, what you get is a case of 43 drivers forced to effectively run in place. The off week is a time of reflection, as NASCAR makes several changes in its Research and Development field (several of which were announced Monday afternoon). The real challenge for however it all shakes out is to find a way to break these cars up, causing aggression and greater passing without opening the gap even further between rich and poor.

That’s not an easy fix.


OVERDRIVE  
Jimmie Johnson
had a brilliant drive Sunday, jumping from 43rd to sixth after being forced to start at the rear for failing post-qualifying inspection. Some say that’s penalty enough — but how many points were really taken away, in the end? You wonder if even those types of failings, even if discovered on Friday, should get a six-point deduction attached. … Call it a mistake, bad driving or Lady Luck shining in the wrong direction. But there’s no question Danica Patrick wrecked her boyfriend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., on Sunday. With the off week ahead, leaving lots of time to stew (and talk) it’s undoubtedly a major test for them – whether you want it to be news or not. … The struggles with passing caused an uncharacteristic number of cautions at New Hampshire. The 12 yellows, most for pushing and shoving incidents on track, were the most in nine years.


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

Teaser:
Reaction from New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where Brian Vickers won his first NASCR Sprint Cup race since 2009.
Post date: Monday, July 15, 2013 - 18:30
Path: /2013-mlb-power-rankings-july-15
Body:
Each week during the baseball season Athlon Sports looks at the best (St. Louis Cardinals) and worst (Houston Astros) baseball teams and players in the league. Here are our MLB Power Rankings and Players of the Week.
 
Athlon Sports MLB Power Ranking 
 1. Cardinals Maintain the best record in baseball through the first half.
 2. Red Sox Finished 5-5 on recent 10-game West Coast trip.
3. A’s Have allowed the fewest runs in the American League.
 4. Pirates Given up more than four runs just once in last 17 games.
 5. Rays Most home wins in the majors, below .500 on the road.
 6. Rangers First team to beat Max Scherzer this season.
 7. Braves Justin Upton back on a hot streak.
 8. Orioles MVP3: Chris Davis, Manny Machado, Adam Jones.
 9. Reds Getting little production from bottom of the order.
10. Tigers Pitching has been shaky of late.
11. Indians Jason Kipnis is Cleveland’s newest young star.
12. Diamondbacks Paul Goldschmidt continues to carry the Arizona offense.
13. Yankees Only nine extra-base hits in seven games last week.
14. Dodgers Could be extremely active once again at trade deadline.
15. Nationals Lost 12 of 19 games vs. NL East.
16. Phillies At 24-14, Phils have best record vs. NL East.
17. Rockies Troy Tulowitzki back in lineup is welcome sight.
18. Blue Jays Haven’t won two in a row since June 23.
19. Mariners Topped the majors with 51 runs and .505 slugging last week.
20. Giants Tim Lincecum went 74 starts between shutouts.
21. Cubs Won a respectable 17 of their last 30.
22. Angels Disappointing sweep by Seattle.
23. Royals Open second half with Detroit and Baltimore.
24. Padres Still saveless in July.
25. Mets Won six of last nine, all on the road.
26. Twins Two six-game losing streaks since June 30.
27. Brewers One of the teams anxiously awaiting possible PED suspensions. 
28. White Sox Played 34 innings in two days at Philadelphia.
29. Marlins Logan Morrison lone recent bright spot in lineup.
30. Astros Chris Carter, leading team in HRs and RBIs, may be traded soon.
 
AL Player of the Week
Adam Jones, Baltimore
The All-Star center fielder hit .400 last week with four multi-hit games. He scored eight runs with a 1.323 OPS and homered in each of the three weekend games against Toronto with six RBIs.
 
AL Pitcher of the Week
Chris Archer, Tampa Bay
The Rays’ young righthander produced two outstanding outings last week. Through six innings against Minnesota, he allowed just one unearned run, then followed that with a five-hit shutout of Houston, with no walks in either contest.
 
NL Player of the Week
Buster Posey, San Francisco
The Giants’ backstop began the week with a 5-for-8 performance in San Francisco’s 16-inning marathon with the Mets. He ended the week with nine hits over five games for a .483 average and 1.191 OPS. He drove in five in one game, then scored three in the next.
 
NL Pitcher of the Week
Zack Greinke, Los Angeles
San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum was certainly masterful in his no-hitter against San Diego, but Greinke had two superb starts last week against division rivals. He logged seven shutout innings at Arizona and tossed a complete game shutout vs. Colorado.
 
 
Teaser:
MLB Power Rankings are a look at the best and worst baseball teams in the league.
Post date: Monday, July 15, 2013 - 18:21
Path: /mlb/5-reasons-yasiel-puig-should-play-mlb-all-star-game
Body:

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig has taken Major League Baseball by storm since defecting from Cuba, fleeing to Mexico and signing a seven-year, $42 million deal last season.

Yet despite the fact that the 22-year-old wunderkind has dominated the nightly highlights and is undeniably the top storyline of the season’s first-half, Puig will not participate in the All-Star Game at New York’s Citi Field on Tuesday. These are five reasons why Puig should play in the Midsummer Classic:

1. Star power
Forget range factor, Puig has got off-the-charts “it” factor. The toolsy 6’3”, 245-pounder has a flair for the dramatic, whether he’s gunning down runners, mashing two homers in his second big league game or partying with Jay-Z at the 40/40 Club in New York.

2. Awesome numbers
The manchild has had a monsterous season thus far — hitting .391 with a 1.038 OPS, eight HRs, 19 RBIs, five stolen bases and 28 runs scored in 151 at-bats over 38 games since making his debut on June 3. It’s a small sample size, but Puig has done more damage than just about anyone not named Miguel Cabrera or Chris Davis thus far.

3. Chance for breathtaking plays
Remember when Bo Jackson took over the 1989 All-Star Game? Puig is a “Bo Jackson-type package,” according to Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. Whether or not that comp is all hype or simply hyperbole, there’s no denying Puig’s penchant for spectacular plays reminiscent of Bo.

4. Freddie Freeman is injured
Puig was runner-up to Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman in the fan vote for the final National League roster spot. Freeman is unable to play due to a thumb injury. Rather than let Giants manager Bruce Bochy select a replacement, the fans should be heard — that’s the whole concept of a fan vote, right?

5. Vin Scully Loves Yasiel Puig
Even if Commissioner Bud Selig doesn’t care about star power, TV ratings, big plays or the fans, he should at least care about iconic Dodgers voice Vin Scully. The 85-year-old loves Puig, thinking his accomplishments are “not to be believed, because this game is not that easy. … His talent is absolutely breathtaking.” No one knows better than Uncle Vin, who remains the best in the business.
 

Teaser:
Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig will not play in the MLB All-Star Game at Citi Field, but he should.
Post date: Monday, July 15, 2013 - 16:40
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, Roto, MLB, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-july-15
Body:

It's All-Star week, so even though the fantasy action won't resume until Friday, Athlon Sports is here to catch you up on what took place over the last seven days. In addition to breaking down last week's top hitters and the hottest starting pitchers, our fantasy junkies have indentified some batters that could be worth picking up to help your team make a second-half charge.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (July 8-14):

 NamePos.TeamRHRRBISBBAOPS
1.Alfonso SorianoOFCHC84520.2961.182
2.Kendrys Morales*1BSEA93600.3671.120
3.Adam JonesOFBAL83600.4001.323
4.Shin-Soo ChooOFCIN91220.4481.136
5.Chris Davis1B/OFBAL74800.2501.149
6.Adrian Beltre3BTEX43800.4071.245
7.Buster PoseyC/1BSF41800.4831.191
8.David Ortiz1BBOS72410.3601.153
9.Alejandro De Aza*OFCWS72400.4141.262
10.Raul Ibanez*OFSEA43700.3571.186
11.Marlon Byrd*OFNYM62800.3211.010
12.Matt Carpenter1/2/3/OFSTL61800.3911.100
13.Kyle Seager2B/3BSEA82300.3851.099
14.Robinson Cano2BNYY31710.4351.161
15.Luke Scott*OFTB43600.3461.183
16.Pedro Florimon*SSMIN42610.3331.010
17.Justin Smoak*1BSEA61700.3851.121
18.Justin UptonOFATL61600.4501.305
19.Wil Myers*OFTB50230.4090.935
20.Victor MartinezC/1BDET51600.4441.187
21.Jonathan LucroyCMIL33600.3891.394
22.Michael SaundersOFSEA61700.3571.043
23.Logan SchaferOFMIL52410.3201.050
24.Lyle Overbay1BNYY42700.3501.150
25.Eric YoungOFNYM70030.3330.882

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

As MLB takes a break for the All-Star game festivities, we thought we would use our Weekly Waiver Wire section to indentify some hitters that are less than 70 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues that could benefit your lineup as we enter the dog days of summer and the competition in your fantasy league heats up.

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Jason Castro, C, HOU (47% owned in Yahoo! Leagues)
The Astros' lone All-Star representative, Castro is currently the No. 8 fantasy catcher. The 26-year-old appears to be fully recovered from the devastating knee injury that wiped out his entire 2011 season. He is thriving in his first full season as the starter, showing plenty of power (12 HR in 297 AB) and offering solid production in other categories (40 R, 31 RBI, .269/.806), especially considering the lineup support around him.
Others worth considering: J.P. Arencibia C, TOR (50% owned), Jonathan Lucroy, C, MIL (68%); Jarrod Saltalamacchia (34%)

Kendrys Morales, 1B, SEA (60%)
Morales is back to his slugging ways, as he gets farther and farther away from the horrendous broken ankle he suffered back in May 2010. The switch-hitting slugger has helped solidify the middle of the Mariners' lineup, as he's already hit five home runs and driven in 12 runs through the first 12 games of July. Hitting at Safeco Field hasn't been a problem either, as Morales has made himself right at home and taken full advantage of the smaller dimensions to the tune of a .310-6-30 clip in 184 at-bats.
Others worth considering: Chris Carter, 1B/OF, HOU (26% owned); James Loney, 1B, TB (55%); Daniel Nava, 1B/OF, BOS (66%)

Jedd Gyorko, 2B/3B, SD (45%)
The rookie spent more than a month on the DL with a groin strain, but he returned for the Padres' final three games before the All-Star break. He went 0-for-11 from the plate in those games, but this is somewhat understandable considering his lengthy absence. Still, any second baseman that has 20-home run potential like Gyorko is worth keeping an eye on. Prior to suffering the injury, Gyorko had produced a .284-8-25 line with 36 runs and 17 doubles in 232 at-bats.
Others worth considering: Omar Infante, 2B, DET (38% owned, currently on DL); Daniel Murphy, 1B/2B, NYM (63%); Dan Uggla, 2B, ATL (62%)

Chris Johnson, 1B/3B, ATL (39%)
It's easy for Johnson to get lost in an Atlanta lineup stacked with big bats like Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and others, but one could argue that the third baseman has been the Braves' most consistent hitter not named Freeman to this point. Johnson won't hit for a tremendous amount of power, but he does have six home runs already and is batting .358 in July. Johnson's early success is one of the reasons the Braves traded Juan Francisco to Milwaukee, as he's been able to hit both lefties (.360) and righties (.318) this season.
Others worth considering: Brett Lawrie, 3B, TOR (64% owned); Trevor Plouffe, 3B/OF, MIN (18%); Mark Reynolds, 1B/3B, CLE (57%)

Erick Aybar, SS, LAA (55%)
Like many of his teammates, Aybar's bat has started to come around. After batting just .252 with six runs scored in May, the switch-hitter raised that to .306 with 19 RBIs in June and is hitting .325 in July so far. Aybar's primary value is tied to average and runs scored, two categories he should be able to contribute solidly in if the rest of the lineup keeps mashing like it has been. Anything else Aybar can give you in RBIs, stolen bases and home runs as a middle infielder is icing on the cake.
Others worth considering: Alcides Escobar, SS, KC (54%), Alexei Ramirez, SS, CWS (54%); (Andrelton Simmons, SS, ATL (41%)

Michael Brantley, OF, CLE (41%)
He doesn't hit for a lot of power (7 HR in 333 AB) and he's not a speed demon on the bases (10 SB), but what Brantley can do is provide respectable contributions across the board. The Indians' outfielder has driven in 48 runs already, compared to 60 all of last season, and has scored 46. He's currently batting .279 and his ability to make contact (42 K in 91 G) should help keep his average around that range. Put it all together and you have a guy who is knocking on the door of being a top-30 fantasy OF.

Raul Ibanez, OF, SEA (63%)
As hard as it may be to believe, Ibanez has a chance to homer his age this season. The 41-year-old is fourth in the AL in home runs with 24 and is on pace to finish the season with 41 on the nose. Regardless of whether he gets there or not, his overall production (.267, 36 R, 56 RBIs) cannot be ignored. Sixteen of his home runs have come at Safeco Field and the left-handed slugger has held his own against southpaws (.263-8-17) when he's gotten the chance to face them this season.

Gerardo Parra, OF, ARI (50%)
While it's clear that Parra has cooled off considerably from his hot start (.308-4-13, 34 R in April and May combined) and the Arizona outfield is somewhat crowded, I still believe he should be owned in more than just half of Yahoo! leagues. With seven home runs already, he needs just two more to set a new career high and he's well on his way to doing the same for runs scored and hits. Given his success against right-handers (.301-7-24), there's no reason to think he won't get a fair amount of at-bats near the top of the Diamondbacks' lineup in the second half.
Others worth considering: Marlon Byrd, OF, NYM (21%); Chris Carter, 1B/OF, HOU (26%); Matt Joyce, OF, TB (25%), Daniel Nava, 1B/OF, BOS (66%); Colby Rasmus, OF, TOR (33%); Jayson Werth, OF, WAS (65%)

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

 NameTeamIPWKERAWHIP
1.Matt MooreTB20.23251.310.82
2.Clayton KershawLAD17.02151.060.53
3.Chris Archer*TB21.02150.860.62
4.David PriceTB25.02181.080.76
5.Jeremy Hefner*NYM21.02171.710.57
6.Wily Peralta*MIL21.12190.420.98
7.Ivan Nova*NYY17.02171.590.65
8.Cole HamelsPHI23.02191.570.87
9.Zack GreinkeLAD21.03202.140.95
10.Dan Straily*OAK13.12130.680.68
11.Tim LincecumSF21.11322.530.89
12.Francisco LirianoPIT16.02131.130.81
13.John Lackey*BOS22.02202.050.91
14.Joe Saunders*SEA20.23120.871.16
15.Madison BumgarnerSF21.02192.140.76
16.Matt GarzaCHC21.23152.570.57
17.Edwin Jackson*CHC12.2280.710.71
18.Bronson Arroyo*CIN19.02122.370.68
19.Jose Quintana*CWS21.01232.570.81
20.Felix HernandezSEA22.02171.641.09

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Keep up to date all season long with Athlon Sports' Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid

Teaser:
Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: July 15
Post date: Monday, July 15, 2013 - 16:00
Path: /college-football/butch-jones-ready-start-tennessee-video
Body:

New Tennessee coach Butch Jones is ready for the start of 2013. Need proof? Check out this advertisement he filmed for Tennessee's ticket office.

Teaser:
Butch Jones is Ready to Start at Tennessee (Video)
Post date: Monday, July 15, 2013 - 15:36
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-july-15
Body:

Catching up from a busy weekend in the college football world. Getting closer to kickoff with the start of media days this week. 

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 Monday, July 15th

It's official: Penn State and UCF will play in Ireland in 2014. Very cool.

What did South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney run in the 40-yard dash? Here's a scoop: It's ridiculous.

What exactly happened to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel this weekend? Sports Illustrated's Peter King has a good take in his Monday Morning Quarterback. And Manziel pleaded guilty on Monday to a misdemeanor from 2012.

Kentucky running back Josh Clemons was injured in a workout late last week. He is expected to miss all of the 2013 season.

The Big Ten is taking a tough stance on hits above the shoulders in 2013.

Can Penn State reduce its recent NCAA sanctions

An interesting read from NunesMagician.com on some of the differences from the Doug Marrone and Scott Shafer eras at Syracuse.

Should Arkansas take a chance on former Auburn running back Michael Dyer? But could Dyer end up at South Florida?

Former Notre Dame receiver Justin Ferguson has transferred to Western Michigan.

Jon Solomon has an interesting look at SEC schedules and a historical perspective for this season.

Saturday Down South ranks the SEC offensive linemen for 2013. Lots of potential NFL first-round talent in this group.

How is the committee for college football's new playoff coming along?

NFL cornerback Darrelle Revis had some words of advice for Virginia Tech cornerback Antone Exum, who is recovering from a torn ACL.

Auburn has lost an incoming recruit due to academic issues.

A preview of Texas Tech's outside linebackers for 2013.

Former Tulane linebacker Trent Mackey was acquitted on armed robbery and conspiracy charges. The former Green Wave player could be granted a waiver to play his final year of eligibility for 2013.

Here's a good preview of UCLA's offensive line for 2013.

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 15, 2013 - 14:51
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/angry-race-car-driver-gets-drug-other-driver
Body:

This is exactly why I don't race cars. That, and I don't have a race car. During a race this past Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C., driver Mike Robertson was angry at race winner Derek Stolz for bumping him. In retaliation, Robertson did the only logical thing: he hopped out of his car and went to confront Stolz during his victory lap. The result is that Robertson went for a ride on the side of Stolz's car until he was flung into a wall. Reports are that Robertson was uninjured.

Teaser:
Angry race car driver gets drug by other driver. Ouch.
Post date: Monday, July 15, 2013 - 14:25
Path: /college-football/byu-football-game-game-predictions-2013
Body:

BYU’s third season of independence features its most difficult schedule.

The Cougars play seven bowl teams from last season, including BCS bowl teams in Wisconsin and Notre Dame. BYU also takes on rival Utah in early September and an improving Virginia team in Week 1.

BYU returns 11 starters, including All-America linebacker Kyle Van Noy and rising star Taysom Hill at quarterback. The Cougars have a new offensive staff, which features the return of Robert Anae as coordinator.

If the Cougars improve on offense, the defense is strong enough to push for nine victories in 2013. 

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


BYU's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

 

Game Steven
 Lassan
 Braden
 Gall
 Mark
 Ross
Jeremy
Mauss
David
Fox
8/31 at Virginia
9/7 Texas
9/21 Utah
9/27 MTSU
10/4 at Utah State
10/12 Georgia Tech
10/19 at Houston
10/25 Boise State
11/9 at Wisconsin
11/16 Idaho State
11/23 at Notre Dame
11/30 at Nevada
Final Projection  7-5   7-5   8-4   7-58-4


Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
The Cougars have a challenging, yet manageable slate. The first three games of the year will be a tough way for an offense with a new coordinator and quarterback to begin the season. However, BYU’s defense should still be solid despite the return of only four starters - especially with All-American linebacker Kyle Van Noy back in Provo - and will keep this team in every game until the offense has a chance to find its footing. The schedule lightens just a bit in the second half of the season, as games against Houston, Idaho State and Nevada are more manageable than matchups against BCS foes.

If the offense improves, I can see BYU finishing with an 8-4 or even a 9-3 mark. The road opener against Virginia, the Holy War showdown against Utah and the Oct. 12 date against Georgia Tech are the biggest swing games on the schedule. The matchup against the Utes was a tossup, but I gave a slight edge to Utah since it has won four out of the last five in that series.  


Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Bronco Mendenhall has posted an 18-8 record over the last two seasons and has five 10-win campaigns in his last seven years. Quietly one of the better coached teams in the nation, BYU has survived independence. Can that continue this year, however, with massive college football blue bloods (Texas, Notre Dame, Wisconsin), solid tier two programs (Georgia Tech, Virginia, Utah) and elite mid-majors (Boise State, Houston, Nevada) dotting nearly every week of the schedule? There are maybe two or three sure-fire wins on this impossible slate but only two or three sure-fire losses. It will be a year of swing games for the disciplined Cougars and new star quarterback Taysom Hill.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Always tough picking games in July for a team hoping its rising star quarterback (Taysom Hill) will take the next step. I feel like we just did this with Jake Heaps. Anyhow, Hill and the new offensive approach are going to be the keys for BYU because the defense is going to be OK. If Robert Anae’s return to the coaching staff isn’t the answer, BYU may have more games like the 6-3 win over Utah State and 7-6 loss to Boise State last year. On top of the questions for BYU, two of the biggest swing games -- Utah State and Nevada -- feature new coaches. Those are big questions. For BYU, eight wins seems pretty safe for a program that rarely falls below that mark.


Jeremy Mauss, (@JeremyMauss), Mountain West Connection

BYU is in their third year of independence, and the schedule is much improved over the first two years. The Cougars have ridded themselves of WAC teams from the schedule, and in 2013 have one of their toughest schedules in school history.

While the first half of the Cougars schedule is difficult, it does set up nice for them to have a good start, as their first seven are winnable, even the home opener against Texas. 2013 will also be the last time that BYU will be playing Utah before the Holy War takes a brief hiatus, and the Cougars will be looking to stop their three-game losing streak to the Utes.

There are so many toss up games this season for BYU that it is possible that they could win as few as four games or could reach the double-digit mark. BYU's ultimate success will be determined by the uptempo offense brought in by new offensive coordinator Robert Anae.


Mark Ross 
As an Independent, BYU has one of the most intriguing schedules in the nation. Games with Boise State, Georgia Tech, Texas and of course, Utah, highlight the home slate, while road games at Notre Dame and Virginia are intriguing for different reasons. Even with a fairly difficult schedule like this, I like the talent the Cougars have on offense and defense and believe they have a legitimate shot at eight wins before bowl season. The key games related to this goal will be against the Utes and Yellow Jackets at home and the Cavaliers, Aggies and Wolf Pack on the road.

Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 10 Independent Heisman Contenders
College Football's 2013 All-America Team
College Football's Top 15 Winners From Conference Realignment
The Heisman's Top 25 Defensive Candidates for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Impact Transfers for 2013
College Football 2013: Comparing Preseason Rankings and Picks

Teaser:
BYU Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Monday, July 15, 2013 - 12:16
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Maryland Terrapins, News
Path: /college-football/maryland-adds-houston-transfer-zeke-riser
Body:

With the departure of A.J. Francis and first-team All-ACC selection Joe Vellano, Maryland’s defensive line has some holes to fill for 2013. The Terrapins are regaining the services of Andre Monroe, who missed all of 2012 due to a knee injury, but the line is still a concern for coordinator Brian Stewart.

However, it appears the Terrapins have some help on the way in the form of Houston transfer Zeke Riser. Stewart coached Riser in Houston in 2011, and his familiarity with Maryland’s 3-4 defense will be an advantage to easing the transition to College Park for 2013. Riser is eligible to play in 2013 after graduating from Houston in December.

In three seasons with the Cougars, Riser recorded 91 tackles and eight sacks. The senior isn’t expected to start, but he should provide valuable depth to a line that will miss Vellano and Francis in 2013. With the losses on the defensive line, this is a good move for Maryland. Riser may not be a star, but he can certainly help a defensive line that played a key role in finishing second in the ACC in rushing yards allowed last year.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 15, 2013 - 11:54
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /2012-pga-championship-recap
Body:

It may have turned into the Snore by the Shore, but it was a weekend of milestones for Rory McIlroy, who's out-Tigering Tiger Woods at the same point in their respective careers. In 27 holes of rain-delayed Sunday golf at the formidable Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, McIlroy put on a breathtaking display: 9-under par, no bogeys, a not-so-subtle signal that he's now the face of global golf.

Rory's litany of achievements at the Ocean Course:

• He became the youngest PGA Champion (23 years, three months) since the tournament moved to stroke play in 1958, beating Jack Nicklaus' record.

• His 8-shot margin of victory broke Nicklaus' record 7-shot margin at the 1980 PGA.

• McIlroy is the second-youngest player to win two majors. Nicklaus was one month younger when he won his second; Tiger was four months older.

• His 8-shot win reprised his 8-shot demolition of the U.S. Open field in 2011. He's the first player to earn his first two major victories in such dominant fashion.

• He's halfway to a career Grand Slam, and had he avoided a Sunday back-nine meltdown at the 2011 Masters, we'd be talking about him in the reverent tones once reserved for Tiger at his apex.

One of the refreshing things about Rory is his relative humility given his youth and level of accomplishment; he hasn't burst into the champions' locker room and started throwing elbows. Yes, he wore Sunday red in an obvious nod to the guy who made such attire famous, but he said afterwards that he would have left the red shirt in the closet under certain conditions. "I thought if I was playing with him (Woods), I wouldn’t wear it,” he said. “Obviously him, you know who 'him' is."

 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 15, 2013 - 11:48

Pages