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All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, Roto, MLB, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-july-29

Baseball is back in full swing as the pennant races heat up and the non-waiver trade deadline comes Wednesday afternoon. Athlon Sports has everything you need to catch up on what took place on the fantasy diamond during the past seven days. Our fantasy junkies bring you last week's top hitters, some starting pitchers who are on a roll, and also identify the waiver wire pick ups and spot starters you need to keep an eye on.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (July 22-28):

1Carlos GomezOFMIL62550.5221.433
2Jay BruceOFCIN93710.3331.082
3Jayson WerthOFWAS73710.3851.198
4Giancarlo StantonOFMIA73600.4781.687
5Wil MyersOFTB53810.4291.407
6Daniel Murphy1B/2BNYM62800.4381.205
7Edwin Encarnacion1B/3BTOR52800.5201.461
8Norichika AokiOFMIL72340.3210.938
9Yasiel PuigOFLAD72420.3931.143
10Torii HunterOFDET73500.4091.281
11Troy TulowitzkiSSCOL63510.3601.120
12Nate Schierholtz*OFCHC43800.4091.480
13Nick Franklin*2B/SSSEA43800.3331.104
14Jose ReyesSSTOR62510.3331.105
15Michael BournOFCLE421000.2920.997
16Devin Mesoraco*CCIN42700.3571.000
17Asdrubal CabreraSSCLE51520.3200.890
18Hanley Ramirez3B/SSLAD61320.3230.880
19Russell Martin*CPIT50230.4711.079
20Bryce HarperOFWAS42600.3601.047
21Victor MartinezC/1BDET41800.3570.936
22Jhonny PeraltaSSDET42700.3100.896
23Adrian Gonzalez1B/OFLAD71600.2860.787
24Pedro Alvarez3BPIT72300.2960.886
25Stephen Drew*SSBOS42610.2350.866

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Nick Franklin, 2B/SS, SEA (42% owned in Yahoo! Leagues)
Since getting called up in late May, Franklin has hit 10 home runs. While that may not seem like a lot, consider that among all MI-eligible players, only 16 players have hit more this season, and of that group only two (Ryan Raburn and Hanley Ramirez) have done so in fewer at-bats than Franklin's 195. Franklin, a switch-hitter, connected for three bombs last week alone and if there's one thing that's highly coveted when it comes to a middle infielder, it's power.

Junior Lake, 3B/OF, CHC (32%)
With Alfonso Soriano back in Yankee pinstripes, it appears that the left field job belongs to Lake. The rookie exploded onto the scene with 15 hits in his first seven career games (.484 average). He has gone hitless in his last three, but the tools he has already shown (2 HRs, 1 SB), are tantalizing, especially given the fact he should get plenty of playing time moving forward as the Cubs focus on next season, and he carries 3B eligibility too.

David Lough, OF, KC (3%)
Similar to Lake, Lough is probably an option for deeper and in his case AL-only leagues, but one of the reasons the Royals finally cut ties with Jeff Francoeur is the emergence of Lough. The 27 year-old rookie has made the most of the playing time he has received, hitting .297 with four home runs and 22 RBIs in 202 at-bats. As a lefty, he will probably sit against the majority of southpaws, but he's gotten consistent at-bats over the last several weeks and teammate Lorenzo Cain is dealing with a groin issue right now. Depending on your league, Lough could be a decent short-term option to take a look at.

Nate Schierholtz, OF, CHC (23%)
Soriano and Scott Hairston were the first Cub outfielders to go, and Schierholtz (or David DeJesus) may be the next one traded before Wednesday's deadline. The veteran is quietly putting together a solid season, as he ranks among the top 50 fantasy outfielders despite having less than 300 at-bats (281). A left-handed swinger, Schierholtz has primarily sat against fellow southpaws, but he has done plenty of damage (.289-14-42) against righties. While he may only be a situational player, Schierholtz' production this season is worth roster consideration, whether he gets traded or stays with the Cubs.

Christian Yelich, OF, MIA (22%)
To the surprise of no one, the Marlins have decided to call up some of their top prospects and give them a chance to play in the big leagues. Yelich, the organization's top hitting prospect, was one of the first to be promoted, and through six games the 21-year-old has acquitted himself quite nicely. The 23rd overall pick of the 2010 draft, the left-handed swinger had nearly as many hits (seven) as strikeouts (eight) in his first week of facing major-league pitching. While it's certainly safe to assume his fantasy impact for the rest of this season could be limited, especially considering the lineup support around him, Yelich is definitely a guy to keep on the radar in keeper and dynasty leagues.

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

1Justin MastersonCLE14.22160.610.48
2Jered WeaverLAA14.22170.000.75
3Matt HarveyNYM15.01170.000.60
4Max ScherzerDET14.02121.290.36
5Tyson Ross*SD14.02130.640.57
6Clayton KershawLAD15.02171.800.53
7Felix HernandezSEA15.01180.600.67
8Jose FernandezMIA15.02212.400.80
9Scott Kazmir*CLE14.01100.000.57
10Doug FisterDET14.02110.640.79
11Chris Archer*TB16.0270.560.69
12Kyle Lohse*MIL13.02110.690.77
13Chris Tillman*BAL15.02151.200.93
14Randall Delgado*ARI14.2250.000.75
15Jon LesterBOS13.12161.350.98
16C.J. WilsonLAA15.12141.760.85
17Hisashi IwakumaSEA13.02161.381.08
18Juan Nicasio*COL12.01120.750.67
19Yu DarvishTEX12.11150.730.89
20Tony CingraniCIN13.21131.320.73

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Top 5 Spot Starts for the Week (Mon. - Sun.):

1. Chris Archer, TB (Fri.) vs. San Francisco (60% owned)
I am not sure what else the young right-hander needs to do to get his ownership up to the 70-percent level. He has won his last four decisions, tossing two shutouts and allowing just one earned run over 31 innings. He may have only 17 strikeouts during this span, but he's surrendered even fewer hits (15) and walked only four. Even with Madison Bumgarner scheduled to oppose him, it's not like the Giants' offense is putting up a ton of runs lately. They managed a grand total of three in getting swept by the Cubs at home this past weekend.

2. Ricky Nolasco, LAD (Thurs.) at Chicago (39%)
Nolasco is just 1-1 in his first four starts with the Dodgers, but he's given up just eight earned runs in those 23 innings (3.13 ERA). The Dodgers are one of the hottest teams in all of baseball right now as the offense has come alive, and should be able to continue its production in Wrigley Field against young left-hander Chris Rusin. It may not be the prettiest or cleanest victory, but Nolasco should have a good chance of getting the W, as the Cubs may have a makeshift lineup in place by that point following Wednesday's non-waiver trade deadline.

3. Wei-Yin Chen, BAL (Tues.) vs. Houston (38%)
Since spending two months on the DL with an oblique strain, Chen has posted three straight quality starts. The left-hander has allowed just five earned runs over these starts, and was a tough-luck loser against Kansas City last Wednesday despite allowing just three earned runs (two home runs) in 7 1/3 innings. In three home starts this season, Chen is 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. Chen also is scheduled to start at Camden Yards on Sunday against Seattle.

4. Edwin Jackson, CHC (Wed.) vs. Milwaukee (28%)
After getting off to a rough start (6-10, 5.11 ERA before the All-Star break) with his new team, Jackson has pitched much better lately. The veteran right-hander has put together three straight quality outings in which he has posted a 2.18 ERA and 0.77 WHIP. Next up for him is a Brewers' lineup that is without Ryan Braun (suspended) and Aramis Ramirez (DL) and one that is tied for 26th in the majors in runs scored (187 in 49 G) on the road.

5. Brandon Beachy, ATL (Mon.) vs. Colorado (46%)
Beachy will make his first start in more than a year when he takes the next, and hopefully final, step in his return from Tommy John surgery. The right-hander last pitched for the Braves on June 16, 2012 when he lasted just 3 2/3 innings against Baltimore. Before suffering the elbow injury, Beachy was 5-5 with a sparkling 2.00 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 81 innings. While it may be risky to start someone in their first game back after missing so much time, consider that only two teams (Washington and Miami) have scored fewer runs than Colorado on the road and slugger Carlos Gonzalez has missed the last three games with a finger issue. If all goes well on Monday night, Beachy should get the ball again on Saturday in Philadelphia.

Closing Morsels
The non-waiver trade deadline on Wednesday afternoon could cause several teams' bullpens to take on different shapes. The first two chips to fall were Houston closer Jose Veras and Los Angels Angels' setup man Scott Downs ... Veras was traded by the Astros to the Tigers on Monday for two minor-league players. Veras has been steady this season, posting a 2.93 ERA and saving 19 games for the lowly Astros, and Detroit manager Jim Leyland is hoping the veteran can help stabilize the back end of his bullpen. For now, there's no reason to think that current Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit will lose his job, but it does give Leyland another experienced option to turn to if need be. While Veras' save opportunities figure to diminish, if not disappear altogether, he is now an appealing option for leagues which use holds in their pitching categories ... Downs was traded to Atlanta for minor-league pitcher Cory Rasmus, as the Braves look to shore up their bullpen for the stretch run. Downs (2-3, 1.84 ERA, 18 holds) should team with former Angels teammate Jordan Walden in serving as the bridge between the starter and closer Craig Kimbrel. Downs also gives Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez another closing option should Kimbrel need a break. If anything, Downs' value actually increases slightly with this deal based on the switch in leagues and the fact the Braves have been a better team this year compared to the Angels ... Other relievers that could be changing uniforms this week that bear watching include closer Kevin Gregg and setup man Jeff Russell of the Cubs, the Padres' Luke Gregerson and Joe Thatcher, and depending on what takes place, possibly the likes of closers Joe Nathan, Glen Perkins and Jonathan Papelbon. If any of these three end up getting traded, that will definitely shake a bullpen or two up.
Keep up to date all season long with Athlon Sports' Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid

Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: July 29
Post date: Monday, July 29, 2013 - 12:30
Path: /5-amazing-stats-rbc-canadian-open

The next round of Molsons is on Sneds.

An intriguing weekend at Ontario's Glen Abbey Golf Club concluded with the World's No. 7 player, Brandt Snedeker, outlasting Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar, among others, to win the RBC Canadian Open, earning his sixth career PGA Tour title and moving to third in the 2013 FedExCup points chase. The win was especially gratifying for Snedeker, whose caddie, Scott Vail, is a native Canadian. "Just ecstatic right now," Snedeker said. "This is a tournament I said early on in my career I wanted to win just because my caddie (Scott Vail) is actually from Canada and it's his national open. It meant a lot to him, meant a lot to me. Third-oldest tournament on Tour and it's got some great history to it, and now to put my name on that trophy it means a lot."

Snedeker tipped his Bridgestone cap to 36-hole leader Hunter Mahan, who withdrew to be present for the birth of his daughter Zoe. "Zoe will be getting a very nice baby gift from me," Snedeker said. "I can't thank Kandi (Mahan) enough for going into labor early. I don't know if I'd be sitting here if she hadn't. But that is a way more important thing than a golf tournament. I missed a golf tournament when my first was born, and it was the best decision I ever made. I'm sure Hunter would say the same thing."

Here are some numbers to ponder from the weekend's action:

1 After moving to third in the latest FedExCup points standings, Snedeker is in prime position to become the first FedExCup champ to defend his Cup title successfully.


7 Having surged into a tie for the lead with two holes to play, Johnson sailed his tee shot on 17 out of bounds, hit his second drive into a bunker, hit the lip to leave it in the bunker, then had to drain a tough five-footer for a triple-bogey 7. A par would have put him in a playoff.


7 The Canadian Open represents the only real gap in Jack Nicklaus' legendary resume. The Golden Bear finished second in the event an astounding seven times.


8 The win marked Snedeker's eighth top-10 finish of the season in 16 appearances. That's tied for the most on Tour with Bill Haas (eight top 10s in 18 appearances).


-12 Dustin Johnson's dominance of the par-5s on the PGA Tour is breathtaking. For the week, Johnson was 12-under on Glen Abbey's par-5s, and that includes a couple of bogeys, which were offset by eagles. Johnson is tied for the Tour lead with 11 eagles in only 49 rounds.


Post date: Monday, July 29, 2013 - 12:04
Path: /college-football/ul-lafayette-unveils-new-uniforms-2013

With games against Arkansas and Kansas State to open the 2013 season (and an excellent coach on the sidelines in Mark Hudspeth), UL Lafayette has a chance at a couple of high-profile upsets. And it certainly won’t hurt the Ragin’ Cajuns cause that the team unveiled some impressive uniforms for this year.

These photo tweeted by Eric Narcisse (@TDANarcisse) showcase UL Lafayette’s new uniforms, which feature white, black and red fleur-de-lis helmets, along with the traditional stacked Ragin’ Cajuns look.

Overall, this is a strong group of uniforms for UL Lafayette. Maybe the best-dressed team in the Sun Belt?


Post date: Monday, July 29, 2013 - 11:15
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/david-ortiz-really-good-smashing-phones
Red Sox DH David Ortiz lost his mind after being ejected in a game against Baltimore this weekend. Ortiz tirade began in the seventh inning when umpire Tim Timmons called a third strike on Big Papi, who began yelling at the ump. Ortiz got even angrier after the ump tossed him from the game. How mad was he? Just ask the phone in the dugout.


David Ortiz Is Really Good At Smashing Phones
Post date: Monday, July 29, 2013 - 11:07
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /athlons-essential-11-links-day-july-29-2013

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for July 29.


• Brandt Snedeker won the RBC Canadian Open this weekend, but he was careful to share credit with Kandi Mahan, who went into labor and prompted hubby Hunter to withdraw with the 36-hole lead. Here are some pictures of Kandi in her pre-pregnancy, Dallas Cowboy cheerleader days.


• The Offseason of Johnny Football continues. He showed up at a Texas frat party, where he was not welcome. He then had a classic drop-the-mic-like-Kanye moment on Twitter where he basically scoreboarded a hater.


Terrelle Pryor says he "never really knew how to throw a football before" working with his coaches in Oakland. Good work, Jim Tressel.


Coach Cal has launched his own clothing line. I have no doubts that it will succeed; the guy could sell sand in the Sahara.


• Deadspin has been documenting the activities of bored baseball fans at big-league parks this season — knitting, solitaire, reading. But this chick wins.


This is a hilarious genre: Horrendous TV dubs and edits. Yipee ki yay, Mr. Falcon.


Superstar athletes and their rock-star equivalents. I like the Ryan Lochte-Jessica Simpson comparison.


• Anthony Weiner's sexting partner did a bikini shoot. The results were … underwhelming. Hope it was worth it, Weiner.


Rex Ryan probably shares the sentiment of this fan's T-shirt.


Jonathan Papelbon didn't sign up for this. At least he has his $50 million to console him.


• Move over, Reggie: This six-year-old kid saw five pitches in a game and launched all five into the parking lot.




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

Post date: Monday, July 29, 2013 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: Arkansas Razorbacks, College Football, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/video-tour-arkansas-new-football-facility

It’s a never-ending arms race in the SEC and for the rest of college football. With the television dollars flowing into each program, athletic facilities are getting facelifts, especially as teams try to keep up on the recruiting trail.

Arkansas recently opened the Fred W. Smith Football Center, and the new photos and video coming out of Fayetteville are impressive.

Here’s a short video tour of the new facility, which should be one of the best in the SEC this season:

Post date: Monday, July 29, 2013 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/usain-bolt-makes-race-entrance-friggin-rocket

Sprinter Usain Bolt returned to Olympic Stadium for the Anniversary Games on Friday, making his entrance on a rocket. Fortunately for him, he won the 100 meters in 9.85 seconds. Otherwise, it might have been really, really awkward.

Post date: Monday, July 29, 2013 - 08:31
All taxonomy terms: Auburn Tigers, College Football, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/auburn-wear-chrome-helmets-2013

South Carolina, Ole Miss and now Auburn. Chrome helmet concepts have made the internet rounds over the last couple of weeks for the Gamecocks and Rebels, and one for the Tigers popped up over the weekend.

It’s uncertain if this helmet will ever see the field for Auburn, but you have to admit, it’s a pretty cool concept. Chrome schemes seem to be one of the newest and hottest trends when it comes to helmets, so expect to see more of these designs over the next few years.

Should Auburn wear this helmet in 2013?

Post date: Monday, July 29, 2013 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas A&M Aggies, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/johnny-manziel-thrown-out-texas-frat-party-video

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has been in and out of the spotlight most of the offseason, and the sophomore quarterback was back in college football's TMZ news edition over the weekend.

As this video below shows, Manziel was tossed from a Texas frat party - I mean, it’s no surprise the Longhorns don’t want an Aggie on campus, right?

Before the Heisman Trophy winner was escorted from the party, he has beer cans tossed in his direction, as well as a few choice words. (Wouldn't it be awesome if we could settle the Longhorns-Aggies rivalry on the field again?)

Much has been made of Manziel’s offseason, but what happens in July means nothing for the upcoming college football season. The sophomore should still be one of the top players in college football this year, and all of his offseason travels and tweets will be forgotten once the season starts in August.

Note: Video contains some graphic language.

Post date: Monday, July 29, 2013 - 08:15
Path: /college-football/ohio-state-football-game-game-predictions-2013

Urban MeyerWith the one-year bowl ban completed, Ohio State is loaded for a run at the national championship in 2013.

Despite having nothing to play for except pride last year, the Buckeyes went 12-0 in coach Urban Meyer’s first season, which included a win over Michigan and a 63-38 thrashing of Nebraska.

Ohio State is considered the biggest threat to the SEC’s national title streak in 2013, with the Buckeyes ranking No. 2 in Athlon’s projected final 125. Quarterback Braxton Miller is one of the top Heisman contenders, and his supporting cast should be better than it was last year.

If there’s a concern for Ohio State, it’s a defense that returns only four starters. The line was hit hard by departures, and cornerback Bradley Roby’s status is uncertain after an off-the-field incident in July.

The schedule is very manageable, but can the Buckeyes finish two straight seasons without a loss?

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

Ohio State's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

8/31 Buffalo
9/7 San Diego State
9/14 at California
9/21 Florida A&M
9/28 Wisconsin
10/5 at Northwestern
10/19 Iowa
10/26 Penn State
11/2 at Purdue
11/16 at Illinois
11/23 Indiana
11/30 at Michigan
Final Projection12-012-011-111-112-012-012-0

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Finishing another regular season with an unbeaten record is going to be a tough assignment for Ohio State. However, I think the pieces are in place for the Buckeyes to run the table, especially with a favorable schedule. Keeping quarterback Braxton Miller is the top priority for coach Urban Meyer, but the junior signal-caller should have more help this year. The offensive line should be the best in the Big Ten, the receivers are deeper and improved and with or without Carlos Hyde, there's a solid stable of running backs. The defense still needs some work, as the line is littered with inexperience. There’s no question Ohio State has talent on defense, but it may take a few games for this unit to perform at a high level. If there’s a positive about the rebuilding effort on defense, it’s a favorable schedule that should give this unit plenty of time to get everything sorted out. Road games at Northwestern and Michigan, and the home Sept. 28 date against Wisconsin will be the toughest challenges for Ohio State. However, I think Meyer and his staff find a way to navigate the regular season with an unbeaten record once again, giving the Buckeyes a shot at Alabama in the national championship.

Brent Yarina, Big Ten Network, (@BTNBrentYarina)
Ohio State is a popular preseason pick to make the BCS title game, and for good reason. There are three overwhelming reasons, to be exact: 1.) Urban Meyer; 2.) Braxton Miller; and 3.) a favorable schedule. And all three are equally important to Ohio State’s 2013 fate. Pretty much, all the elements seem to be in place for a very special season in Columbus, Ohio. Now, it’s all about the Buckeyes staying healthy and winning 13 games – including the Big Ten title game – all of which they’ll likely be favored to win. Not the easiest task, of course, but, remember, Ohio State has a two-time national championship coach and a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback to help it navigate its manageable slate. 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
I don't know for certain if it will be Northwestern, but I don't think Ohio State will run the table this fall. I think they lose one game along the way as the defensive line isn't going to be undefeated season-good just yet. This is an elite team that is the clearcut frontrunner — and my pick — to win the Big Ten, but to reach the BCS National Championship game as a non-SEC team, a perfect record is a must. With the margin for error virtually paper thin, I don't see Ohio State going 13-0. This team is the most talented in the league, has a Heisman Trophy candidate under center and a two-time national title winning head coach roaming the sidelines - but it will slip-up one time in 2013.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
On paper, Ohio State may have the best odds to go undefeated of any team in the country other than Louisville. Its toughest nonconference trip is to rebuilding Cal, and the Big Ten schedule, for the most part, is manageable. The toughest spot may be Wisconsin and Northwestern. The Badgers will be the first real test, and Northwestern will give Ohio State’s defense fits in Evanston. Don’t forget: Ohio State’s defense did not have a great October last season against Nebraska, Indiana, Purdue and Penn State. Ohio State won all four, of course, and I’ve picked the Buckeyes to do the same here with its first two Big Ten games. When it comes down to it, I’ve picked Michigan with homefield advantage and Heisman darkhorse Devin Gardner to spoil Ohio State’s title hopes.

Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB), and
You don't have to over-think it when it comes to Ohio State this season. The Buckeyes went undefeated by finding every way needed to win last season, using defense one week and offense another. Whatever the situation was for Ohio State in 2012, they responded in spite of not being eligible for any postseason scenarios. You can credit a terrific coaching staff for much of that, but having a quarterback worthy of Heisman consideration in 2013 surely helps. Braxton Miller enters a junior season already with basically two years of starting experience behind him, and he could be better in 2013. One look at the schedule and it is easy for me to call Ohio State the favorite in every game in front of them, including the season finale at Michigan. There are two road games I think will test Ohio State, at California and Northwestern, but ultimately I think Ohio State has enough talent and drive to return home with victories to help them make a run for another undefeated regular season.

Kevin Noon (@Kevin_Noon),
Even with the recent offseason turmoil the Buckeyes still have a schedule that is more than manageable and the right pieces to get through the season unscathed. With apologies to Northwestern, Wisconsin and Michigan the biggest foe the Buckeyes will have to face this year will be themselves. Will a combination of being told that "you are expected to win" along with the threat of any further off-the-field issues submarine Ohio State's plans to Pasadena? I don't believe that will be the case with Urban Meyer as the master motivator and a 3rd-year Braxton Miller at the helm of the ship. Ohio State needs to find some leadership however on-the-field, and in a hurry. This season won't be the cakewalk that some in scarlet and gray glasses are calling for but the Buckeyes will be left standing with zero losses at the end of November.

Mark Ross
I am very leery when it comes to predicting a team will go undefeated, but in Ohio State's case I'll make an exception. Recent turmoil aside, the Buckeyes are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, starting with quarterback Braxton Miller, and have had a year to get acclimated to Urban Meyer's spread offense. And don't forget this team went undefeated last season when they really had nothing to play for. This season won't be a cakewalk by any means, but when the toughest road game on the slate is in Ann Arbor to finish the regular season, it's hard for me to say where, if at all, these Buckeyes will slip up. Michigan will certainly be a tough test, especially in the Big House, but I'll take Meyer and company to find a way to come out with the win, especially if they are undefeated (and completely healthy) leading up to this one.

Related College Football Content

Big Ten 2013 Predictions
Big Ten's 2013 All-Conference Team
Michigan 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
Nebraska 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
Christian Hackenberg Could be a Program-Changer at Penn State
Ohio State and Michigan: The New Ten-Year War
The Big Ten's Best Traditions
Does Nebraska Still Believe in Bo Pelini?
5 First-Year Starting QBs Who Could Win College Football's National Title
College Football's Top 10 Most-Improved Teams for 2013
College Football's 2013 All-America Team

Ohio State Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Monday, July 29, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-bowl-projections-2013

Whether you hate or love the BCS, the bowl season is exciting time for college football fans. Although some believe there are too many bowl games, it's one last chance to see teams before the long offseason sets in. And considering how long the offseason is, maybe 35 bowl games isn't too many after all. 

With college football's new playoff format coming with the 2014 season, this will be the final year for many of the tie-ins with current bowls. And of course, the BCS format will morph into a four-team playoff, with a national championship site awarded to the highest bidder. With more bowl games expected in 2014 and beyond, we may see at least 40 postseason matchups starting next season.

Athlon has released its 2013 rankings but it's time to unveil where teams will be spending the postseason. 

Alabama and Ohio State are Athlon's prediction to play in the national title game, but who will play in college football's remaining 35 bowls?

College Football's 2013-2014 Bowl Projections

New MexicoDec. 21Pac-12 vs. MWC Washington vs. Air Force
Famous Idaho PotatoDec. 21MAC vs. MWCNevada vs. Bowling Green
Las VegasDec. 21Pac-12 vs. MWCOregon State vs. Fresno State
New Orleans BowlDec. 21Sun Belt vs. CUSALouisiana-Lafayette vs. MTSU
Beef 'O' Brady'sDec. 23American vs. CUSAPittsburgh* vs. Louisiana Tech
HawaiiDec. 24MWC vs. CUSASan Jose State vs. East Carolina
Little Caesars PizzaDec. 26MAC vs. Big TenNorthern Illinois vs. Minnesota
Poinsettia Dec. 26Army vs. MWCArizona* vs. San Diego State
Military Dec. 27CUSA vs. ACCMarshall vs. Maryland
TexasDec. 27Big 12 vs. Big Ten TCU vs. Indiana
Kraft Fight HungerDec. 27BYU vs. Pac-12 BYU vs. USC
PinstripeDec. 28American vs. ACCRutgers vs. West Virginia
BelkDec. 28American vs. ACCNorth Carolina vs. USF
Russell AthleticDec. 28American vs. ACCCincinnati vs. Miami
Buffalo Wild WingsDec. 28Big 12 vs. Big TenBaylor vs. Northwestern
Armed ForcesDec. 30MWC vs. Navy Navy vs. Utah State
Music CityDec. 30ACC vs. SECOle Miss vs. Georgia Tech
AlamoDec. 30Big 12 vs. Pac-12Stanford vs. Oklahoma
HolidayDec. 30Pac-12 vs. Big 12Arizona State vs. Kansas State
AdvoCare V100Dec. 31ACC vs. SECNC State vs. Auburn
SunDec. 31Pac-12 vs. ACCVirginia Tech vs. UCLA
LibertyDec. 31SEC vs. CUSATulsa vs. Tennessee
Chick-fil-ADec. 31ACC vs. SECSouth Carolina vs. Florida State
GatorJan. 1SEC vs. Big TenVanderbilt vs. Michigan State
Heart of DallasJan. 1Big Ten vs. CUSARice vs. Texas Tech*
Capital OneJan. 1SEC vs. Big TenTexas A&M vs. Wisconsin
OutbackJan. 1SEC vs. Big Ten Florida vs. Nebraska
RoseJan. 1BCS vs. BCS Oregon vs. Michigan
FiestaJan. 1BCS vs. BCSOklahoma State vs. Boise State
SugarJan. 2BCS vs. BCS Georgia vs. Louisville
CottonJan. 3SEC vs. Big 12 Texas vs. LSU
OrangeJan. 3BCS vs. BCSClemson vs. Notre Dame
BBVA CompassJan. 4SEC vs. AmericanMississippi State vs. UCF
GoDaddyJan. 5MAC vs. Sun BeltULM vs. Ball State
National TitleJan. 6BCS vs. BCSAlabama vs. Ohio State

* According to our 2013 conference predictions, Army, the Big Ten and American will fail to fill their allotted slots.

Related College Football Content

ACC Predictions for 2013MAC Predictions for 2013
American Athletic Predictions for 2013Mountain West Predictions for 2013
Big Ten Predictions for 2013Pac-12 Predictions for 2013
Big 12 Predictions for 2013SEC Predictions for 2013
Conference USA Predictions for 2013Sun Belt Predictions for 2013


College Football Bowl Projections for 2013
Post date: Monday, July 29, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/which-college-football-conference-has-best-quarterbacks

Braxton MillerQuarterback play is the most scrutinized position in college football each season. The difference between winning a conference championship or just getting bowl eligible could all depend on the player under center. Last season, Texas A&M’s offense thrived under the direction of Johnny Manziel. However, on the other side of the coin, Michigan State regressed after the departure of Kirk Cousins. Had the Spartans received better quarterback play from Andrew Maxwell, they could have won the Big Ten Legends Division.

Considering how much of an impact quarterbacks play in determining the outlook of a team, it’s no surprise to see this position discussed prominently when it comes to preseason predictions.

Debating which league has the best quarterbacks isn’t as prevalent as which conference ranks second to the SEC in terms of overall strength, but the overall depth of leagues in terms of quarterback talent is an interesting preseason discussion.

The SEC ranks as Athlon’s No. 1 quarterback league, but the Pac-12 and Mountain West are also a strong overall group. The ACC and Big Ten have solid options at the top, but plenty of question marks remain in the middle. The Big 12 is usually one of college football's top quarterback leagues, but the conference has an inexperienced group of signal-callers returning for 2013.

Power Ranking the Conferences in Terms of Quarterback Strength

1. SEC

With three potential All-American signal-callers returning for 2013, the SEC gets the nod as the top quarterback conference. Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel may have trouble repeating last year’s numbers, but the sophomore is still in line for another monster season. Alabama’s AJ McCarron isn’t going to match Manziel’s passing totals, but the senior has won back-to-back national titles and tossed just three picks on 314 attempts last year. Georgia’s Aaron Murray ranked second nationally in pass efficiency in 2012 and passed for a career-best 36 scores. There’s a drop off after the top three passers, but the next group – Connor Shaw, Tyler Russell and Bo Wallace – are all coming off solid seasons. Florida’s Jeff Driskel should be improved in his second year as the starter, while Missouri’s James Franklin is expected to be at full strength after playing at less than 100 percent from shoulder surgery in 2012. The bottom of the league has room to improve, but new coaches at Arkansas, Tennessee, Auburn and Kentucky should breathe some much-needed life into their offenses.

Ranking the SEC Starters: (SEC predictions for 2013)

1. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
2. AJ McCarron, Alabama
3. Aaron Murray, Georgia
4. Connor Shaw, South Carolina
5. Tyler Russell, Mississippi State
6. Bo Wallace, Ole Miss
7. Jeff Driskel, Florida
8. Zach Mettenberger, LSU
9. James Franklin, Missouri
10. Austyn Carta-Samuels, Vanderbilt
11. Jalen Whitlow, Kentucky
12. Justin Worley, Tennessee
13. Brandon Allen, Arkansas
14. Kiehl Frazier, Auburn

2. Pac-12

Even though Chip Kelly left for the NFL, Oregon’s offense should remain one of the best in the nation, largely due to the return of quarterback Marcus Mariota. The sophomore is poised to take another step in his development in 2013, and if the Ducks are in the national title hunt again, look for Mariota to jump into Heisman discussion. UCLA’s Brett Hundley totaled 4,095 yards and 38 scores in his freshman campaign last year, and Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly returns after finishing ninth in the nation in pass efficiency in 2012. Ranking the Pac-12 as the No. 2 quarterback conference will largely hinge on if Washington’s Keith Price can regain his form from 2011, along with the development of Stanford’s Kevin Hogan. This group could get even deeper if USC settles on a quarterback, and Sean Mannion or Cody Vaz seizes the job at Oregon State. Keep an eye on Utah’s Travis Wilson and California’s Zach Kline. Both quarterbacks could be in for a breakout season in 2013.

Ranking the Pac-12 Starters: (Pac-12 predictions for 2013)

1. Marcus Mariota, Oregon
2. Brett Hundley, UCLA
3. Taylor Kelly, Arizona State
4. Keith Price, Washington
5. Kevin Hogan, Stanford
6. Sean Mannion, Oregon State
7. Max Wittek, USC
8. Connor Halliday, Washington State
9. Zach Kline, California
10. Travis Wilson, Utah
11. B.J. Denker, Arizona
12. Connor Wood, Colorado

3. Mountain West

The Mountain West has quietly assembled one of the nation’s top quarterback groups for 2013. Fresno State’s Derek Carr and San Jose State’s David Fales are on the radar for NFL scouts, and Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton shared first-team All-WAC honors last year. Nevada’s Cody Fajardo nearly had 4,000 yards of total offense in 2012, while Wyoming’s Brett Smith has 6,417 yards and 47 passing scores in two years in Laramie. Boise State’s Joe Southwick and UNLV’s Nick Sherry are set to improve in their second year as the No. 1 quarterback, with the bottom of the conference having potential with Ohio State transfer Taylor Graham (Hawaii) and Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson.

Ranking the Mountain West Starters:
(Mountain West predictions for 2013)

1. Derek Carr, Fresno State
2. David Fales, San Jose State
3. Chuckie Keeton, Utah State
4. Cody Fajardo, Nevada
5. Brett Smith, Wyoming
6. Joe Southwick, Boise State
7. Nick Sherry, UNLV
8. Adam Dingwell, San Diego State
9. Garrett Grayson, Colorado State
10. Cole Gautsche, New Mexico
11. Kale Pearson, Air Force
12. Taylor Graham, Hawaii

4. ACC

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd is one of the top-10 signal-callers in the nation, and North Carolina’s Bryn Renner is due for an increase in in passing yards and touchdowns in the second year under coach Larry Fedora’s offense. Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas was one of the ACC’s top quarterbacks in 2011, but he struggled in 2012 and will have a new coordinator (Scot Loeffler) this year. Miami’s Stephen Morris should build off a solid junior year (3,345), while Florida State’s Jameis Winston is poised for a breakout season. Wake Forest’s Tanner Price and Boston College’s Chase Rettig are solid, and Georgia Tech’s Vad Lee was impressive in limited action in 2012. For the ACC to climb higher on this list, the bottom of the conference has to improve. NC State’s Brandon Mitchell, Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage and Syracuse’s Drew Allen are three intriguing transfers to watch this year.

Ranking the ACC Starters: (ACC predictions for 2013)

1. Tajh Boyd, Clemson
2. Bryn Renner, North Carolina
3. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
4. Stephen Morris, Miami
5. Jameis Winston, Florida State
6. Tanner Price, Wake Forest
7. Vad Lee, Georgia Tech
8. Chase Rettig, Boston College
9. Tom Savage, Pittsburgh
10. Anthony Boone, Duke
11. Brandon Mitchell, NC State
12. C.J. Brown, Maryland
13. David Watford, Virginia
14. Drew Allen, Syracuse

5. Big Ten

The Big Ten boasts one of the nation’s top Heisman candidates (Braxton Miller), an improving senior (Taylor Martinez), and one of the year’s breakout candidates in Michigan’s Devin Gardner. While the top of the conference is strong, the rest of the Big Ten has much to prove. Northwestern’s Kain Colter is one of the nation’s top all-purpose players, but he splits time under center with Trevor Siemian. Indiana’s Tre Roberson missed most of last season with a leg injury, and Michigan State’s Andrew Maxwell was a disappointment in his first year as the starter. Two names to watch: Penn State true freshman Christian Hackenberg and Minnesota sophomore Philip Nelson. If Hackenberg lives up to his recruiting hype, and Nelson continues to improve, it will strengthen the Big Ten’s overall quarterback outlook.

Ranking the Big Ten Starters: (Big Ten predictions for 2013)

1. Braxton Miller, Ohio State
2. Taylor Martinez, Nebraska
3. Devin Gardner, Michigan
4. Kain Colter, Northwestern
5. Tre Roberson, Indiana
6. Joel Stave, Wisconsin
7. Andrew Maxwell, Michigan State
8. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State
9. Philip Nelson, Minnesota
10. Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois
11. Rob Henry, Purdue
12. Jake Rudock, Iowa

6. Big 12

Transition is the key word when it comes to Big 12 quarterbacks this year. There’s no clear No. 1 signal-caller for first-team all-conference honors. Oklahoma State’s Clint Chelf played well over the final weeks of 2012, throwing for 14 touchdowns in the last six games. TCU’s Casey Pachall is back after missing most of last year due to a suspension. Oklahoma’s Blake Bell has played well in limited action but still has plenty to prove with his arm. Baylor’s Bryce Petty, Kansas State’s Daniel Sams and Texas Tech’s Michael Brewer are in for breakout years, while Kansas hopes Jake Heaps lives up to his recruiting hype. Texas’ David Ash improved from 2011 to 2012 and has the most career starts by a quarterback in the Big 12. Overall, this group is a weakness heading into the preseason. But by the end of 2012, the Big 12 could have a strong group of signal-callers.

Ranking the Big 12 Starters: (Big 12 predictions for 2013)

1. Clint Chelf, Oklahoma State
2. Casey Pachall, TCU
3. Blake Bell, Oklahoma
4. Bryce Petty, Baylor
5. David Ash, Texas
6. Michael Brewer, Texas Tech
7. Daniel Sams, Kansas State
8. Clint Trickett, West Virginia
9. Jake Heaps, Kansas
10. Sam Richardson, Iowa State

7. MAC

The MAC is in good shape at the top of the conference. Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch finished seventh in Heisman voting last season and is one of the nation’s top dual-threat quarterbacks. Ohio’s Tyler Tettleton and Ball State’s Keith Wenning both ranked in the top 50 nationally in total offense last year, while Toledo’s Terrance Owens returns after throwing for 2,707 yards and 14 scores last season. Western Michigan’s Tyler Van Tubbergen takes over for Alex Carder and has played well in limited action. The bottom of the conference has a lot of unknowns, especially with Central Michigan, Akron and UMass.

Ranking the MAC Starters: (MAC predictions for 2013)

1. Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
2. Tyler Tettleton, Ohio
3. Keith Wenning, Ball State
4. Terrance Owens, Toledo
5. Matt Schilz, Bowling Green
6. Tyler Van Tubbergen, Western Michigan
7. Austin Boucher, Miami (Ohio)
8. Joe Licata, Buffalo
9. David Fisher, Kent State
10. Cody Kater, Central Michigan
11. Kyle Pohl, Akron
12. Tyler Benz, Eastern Michigan
13. Mike Wegzyn, UMass

8. American

Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater is one of the nation’s best quarterbacks, but the rest of the American Athletic Conference has room to improve. UCF’s Blake Bortles was solid in his first season as a starter last year, throwing for 3,059 yards and 25 touchdowns. However, after Bortles, that’s where the question marks begin. Brendon Kay stabilized the quarterback play for Cincinnati in the second half of 2012, but he will transition to a new offense under new coach Tommy Tuberville. After a solid start, Rutgers’ Gary Nova tossed 14 picks over the final seven games. SMU’s Garrett Gilbert has yet to live up to his five-star billing out of high school, and Connecticut’s Chandler Whitmer struggled (although he didn’t have much help around him) in his first season with the Huskies. The rest of the conference has quarterback question marks, but picking up Steven Bench as a transfer from Penn State should help stabilize USF’s play under center.

Ranking the American Starters: (American predictions for 2013)

1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
2. Blake Bortles, UCF
3. Brendon Kay, Cincinnati
4. Gary Nova, Rutgers
5. Garrett Gilbert, SMU
6. Chandler Whitmer, Connecticut
7. Steven Bench, USF
8. David Piland, Houston
9. Jacob Karam, Memphis
10. Connor Reilly, Temple

9. Conference USA

Marshall’s Rakeem Cato is one of the top non-BCS quarterbacks in the nation, and East Carolina’s Shane Carden is back after throwing for 3,116 yards and 23 scores last year. Tulsa’s Cody Green was solid in his first season with the Golden Hurricane, and Rice’s Taylor McHargue has been effective when he can stay healthy. The middle of Conference USA’s quarterback depth chart should get stronger this year, as Jameill Showers and Scotty Young are two of the top transfer signal-callers in the nation. UTSA’s Eric Soza impressed in the Roadrunners’ first season on the FBS level, and Tulane’s Nick Montana – yes, the son of the NFL Hall of Famer – should help keep the Green Wave’s offense averaging over 250 passing yards per game.

Ranking the Conference USA Starters: (C-USA predictions for 2013)

1. Rakeem Cato, Marshall
2. Shane Carden, East Carolina
3. Cody Green, Tulsa
4. Taylor McHargue, Rice
5. Jameill Showers, UTEP
6. Logan Kilgore, MTSU
7. Jake Medlock, FIU
8. Eric Soza, UTSA
9. Austin Brown, UAB
10. Scotty Young, Louisiana Tech
11. Nick Montana, Tulane
12. Derek Thompson, North Texas
13. Cole Weeks, Southern Miss
14. Melvin German III, FAU

10. Sun Belt

The Sun Belt’s quarterback play is top-heavy in 2013. ULM’s Kolton Browning and Louisiana’s Terrance Broadway are standout performers, and Troy’s Corey Robinson returns after throwing for 3,121 yards last year. Utah State transfer Adam Kennedy was a solid pickup for Arkansas State. However, the rest of the conference is filled with question marks under center this season.

Ranking the Sun Belt Starters:
(Sun Belt predictions for 2013)

1. Kolton Browning, ULM
2. Terrance Broadway, Louisiana-Lafayette
3. Corey Robinson, Troy
4. Adam Kennedy, Arkansas State
5. Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky
6. Ross Metheny, South Alabama
7. Tyler Arndt, Texas State
8. Ben McLane, Georgia State

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Which College Football Conference Has the Best Quarterbacks?
Post date: Monday, July 29, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-pivotal-players-acc

Despite what coaches have said at media days in the last two weeks, not all position battles and breakout players are equal. Some will be more pressing than others.

That’s why Athlon Sports is taking a look at what we’re calling “pivotal players.” We took a look at teams that are a piece or two away from a conference or division title and the players those teams need to perform in order to win big.

Last season in the ACC we tabbed Florida State offensive tackle Cameron Erving as a pivotal player to the Seminoles’ ACC title hopes. Erving didn’t earn All-ACC honors, but he started all season for the conference championship-winning Seminoles.

We also picked Clemson cornerback Bashaud Breeland as a pivotal player for the Tigers, who needed to improve play on the back end of the defense. Breeland struggled with injuries, and Clemson shows up here again looking for someone to step up in a leaky secondary.

In other words, a pivotal player can go either way and be the difference in a title-winning season.

Our criteria for pivotal players:
1. He plays for a conference or division contender.
2. He is an unproven commodity in some way.
3. He plays at a position his team needs to perform in order to win a division or conference title.

We begin our look at pivotal players with the ACC with other conferences to follow:

Anthony Chickillo, DE, Miami
Chickillo’s sophomore slump wasn’t the only reason the Hurricanes slipped in sacks (from 2 per game to 1.1) and tackles for a loss (from 6.2 to 4.4). His fellow starting end didn’t have a sack all season. Still, Miami needs Chickillo to return to his form from his freshman season to contend for an ACC title. The 6-4, 269-pound defensive end led Miami with four sacks last season, which is a  pretty clear indictment of the Hurricanes’ pass rush. As the the ACC’s Defensive Rookie of the Year, Chickillo had eight tackles for a loss and five sacks in 2011.

Trey Edmunds, RB, Virginia Tech
Logan Thomas didn’t play like the first-round draft pick he was projected to be, but the Hokies’ running game didn’t produce last season, either. The 3.7 yards per carry was their worst since 2007. With Michael Holmes dismissed, Virginia Tech’s numbers at a position of weakness are already down. The redshirt freshman Edmunds could solidify the position if he can improve ball security. He’s shown nice potential, and he has the frame at 6-1, 215 pounds to take a pounding. That’s good news since projected starter J.C. Coleman stands at 5-8, 177 pounds.

Caleb Peterson, OG, North Carolina
Left guard Jonathan Cooper, the seventh overall pick in the NFL draft, was the Tar Heels’ top offensive player last season. He’ll be replaced by a redshirt freshman in Peterson on a team that has aspirations of reaching the ACC title game. A strength last season, the Heels’ offensive line returns only two starters (left tackle James Hurst and center Russell Bodine). North Carolina has ample skill position talent, so Peterson’s development on the offensive line could be a key to the Heels’ success in the ACC.

Darius Robinson, CB, Clemson
Clemson’s pass defense was pressing issue before the 2012 season and never really got fixed, even though the Tigers went 11-2. Clemson allowed 7.3 yards per pass attempt (ninth in the ACC) and 23 touchdowns through the air (tied for eighth). Robinson missed the final six games last season, but he’ll be one of the Tigers’ DBs front and center in the opener against Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. If Robinson can’t solidify the Clemson secondary, the Tigers have promising freshman Mackensie Alexander waiting in the wings.

Darren Waller, WR, Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets would like to be able to take advantage of Vad Lee’s ability as a passer, but Georgia Tech needs a receiver to emerge. Waller has only eight career catches, but the 6-5, 228-pound receiver has a size and speed mix reminiscent of Damaryius Thomas and Stephen Hill.

Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Expectations for the redshirt freshman Winston are already high for Winston, who is slated to be Florida State’s first rookie starting quarterback since Drew Weatherford in 2005. FSU’s skill talent on offense hasn’t been bad — the last two Seminoles starting quarterbacks were first-round draft picks — but the Noles haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since Warrick Dunn, a first-team All-ACC receiver since Craphonso Thorpe or a first-team All-ACC quarterback since Chris Weinke. That's a crazy drought for a Florida State team used to swimming in top talent. Winston, the freshman at quarterback from Hueytown (Ala.), is the key to Florida State’s long-term plans, but he’ll be put on the spot early when he tries to keep up with Clemson’s high-powered offense on the road on Oct. 19.

Who does each ACC contender need to step up in 2013?
Post date: Monday, July 29, 2013 - 07:10
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-best-july-22-26

It's been a busy week in the college football world.

In addition to the latest news, Friday's links will try to highlight some of the best posts of week - just in case you didn't catch our posts from earlier in the week.

Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)

College Football's Must-Read Stories From the Week of July 22-26

Can Kliff Kingsbury replicate Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald's path?

The Big Ten Network's Brent Yarina conducted a player poll at media days. Some interesting answers here.

Bruce Feldman goes one-on-one with Boise State coach Chris Petersen.

The NCAA has finally reinstated Georgia offensive lineman Kolton Houston.

Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville is slated to go on trial in August in a civil securities fraud case.

Penn State and West Virginia are close to finalizing a home-and-home series.

BYU and Utah State have adjusted their future series, which adds one more matchup between these two teams.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops received a contract extension. What does Stoops' extension mean for the Sooners?

Saturday Down South ranks the cornerbacks in the SEC for 2013.

Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr played all of 2012 with an abdominal tear.

Texas receiver Cayleb Jones has decided to transfer.

Crystal Ball Run breaks down the latest in the Carlos Hyde saga at Ohio State.

Here's an excellent Q and A with Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury.

outhern Miss coach Todd Monken had some interesting thoughts on an NCAA split.

Mike Leach blasts the new targeting rule.

A timeline has been set for the renovation of Kentucky's Commonwealth Stadium.

How will Casey Pachall and Trevone Boykin split the quarterback duties for TCU in 2013?

An Arizona safety was dismissed from the team after being charged with four felonies.

Texas linebacker Jordan Hicks had his request for a medical redshirt approved. 

Rob Moseley previews Oregon's depth chart at running back for 2013.

Kansas could be without one of its top linebacker recruits this season, and the status of receiver Nick Harwell is still unsettled.

UCLA safety Dietrich Riley will retire from football.

Syracuse and Maryland will likely play in a non-conference series once the Terrapins depart for the Big Ten.

Is Michael Dyer close to joining Louisville for the 2013 season?

Wake Forest could be without running back Josh Harris this year.

Wisconsin's incoming JUCO quarterback Tanner McEvoy was the victim of a robbery in Madison.

In case you missed it, no press release will top the one FIU had to send out on Friday.

A great feature from Lost Lettermen: Can Brady Hoke Match Urban Meyer?

What changes should be expected from LSU’s offense with Cam Cameron calling the plays?

West Virginia defensive lineman Korey Harris is no longer with the team. The defensive tackle was arrested on first-degree armed robbery charges earlier this month. (You have to read how he was identified by the victims).

Wake Forest has picked up a safety transfer from Air Force.

Could two redshirt freshmen start on Michigan’s offensive line this year?

College Football's Link Roundup: Best of July 22-26
Post date: Friday, July 26, 2013 - 17:08
Path: /college-football/rushel-shell-transfers-west-virginia

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen is known for his passing attacks, but the Mountaineers picked up a key transfer to help the offense on the ground for 2014. Former Pittsburgh running back Rushel Shell has selected West Virginia as his next home. The Pennsylvania native will have to sit out 2013 due to NCAA transfer rules.

In his only season at Pittsburgh, Shell rushed for 641 yards and four scores, while catching nine passes for 103 yards. He originally selected UCLA as his transfer destination but decided against going to Los Angeles earlier this summer. Shell ranked as the No. 33 recruit in the 2012 Athlon Consensus 100.

Although West Virginia will lean on its passing attack, Shell should see plenty of carries in 2014. The Pennsylvania native could be one of the top running backs in the Big 12 next season and will add to a backfield that features Dreamius Smith, Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison.

Shell's addition is especially crucial with West Virginia facing an uncertain future at quarterback. The Mountaineers reeled in Clint Trickett from Florida State this spring, but Ford Childress and Paul Millard are also in the mix to start. If West Virginia struggles to get consistency from its quarterbacks - which would be a major surprise considering Holgorsen's track record - the Mountaineers may have to focus on the ground game more over the next two years. 

And it's never too early to look ahead, as West Virginia will face Alabama in Atlanta in its season opener in 2014.


Rushel Shell Transfers to West Virginia
Post date: Friday, July 26, 2013 - 14:39
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/officiating-college-football-under-microscope-2013

College football has a blown officiating call to thank for South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney blowing up a ball-carrier in the hit seen around the Internet.

Before Clowney’s devastatingly legal Outback Bowl hit last season, Big East referee Jeff Maconaghy allowed Michigan to retain possession by awarding a first down. One problem: The nose of the football clearly didn’t reach the first-down marker.

“It’s just a mistake, and I know that’s tough for people to deal with given social media and technology,” says Terry McAulay, the officiating coordinator of the American Athletic Conference (former Big East). “They say, ‘How can I get it right on the couch and they can’t?’ They don’t understand the pressure these guys are under and the fact they’re very, very good with 99 percent accuracy. But one percent can sometimes hurt us.”

College football officials have never been under so much scrutiny. On the flip side, their bosses have never communicated and leaned on each other as much as they do now.

Officiating needs all the help it can get this season. With player safety now a heavy focus, consistency will be called into question in a new way by a rule that automatically ejects a player who delivers a hit to the head of a defenseless player.

The state of college football officiating is evolving. To understand where it’s at, Athlon Sports talked individually with the six officiating coordinators at BCS conferences — Steve Shaw of the SEC, Doug Rhoads of the ACC, Bill Carollo of the Big Ten, Walt Anderson of the Big 12, Tony Corrente of the Pac-12 and McAulay of the American — plus former NFL officiating supervisor and current Fox NFL rules analyst Mike Pereira. Here are excerpts from those candid conversations about the men fans love to hate.

What do you think of the ejection rule for targeting a defenseless player?

Carollo, Big Ten: “We want officials to know if they get a little too anxious and they’re wrong and throw the starting linebacker out of the game, we’ll support them and we have replay to confirm. If we really do care about these players 10 to 15 years from now, we have to change the rule. That’s a big price to pay, but we’re willing to take that risk.”
Corrente, Pac-12: “What happens when it’s a deliberate action vs. an accidental action? That’s what we want clarity on. … I’ve heard some coaches say, ‘You guys are changing the game and this isn’t football.’ I say, ‘You’re right. This isn’t football.’ The player safety issues we’re seeing today were not part of the game 20 years ago. I tell coaches five percent of their players will be pro players, meaning 90 to 95 percent will need to be functioning adults down the road. Don’t you want them to be functioning adults and not vegetables? I think it’s going to take a while for the culture to change, and we’ll start to see high hits diminish.”

Shaw, SEC: “I think making the ejection immediate in a game will change the mindset of the players. I can show you video last year of a player making a high hit on a receiver, he sees three flags thrown, and he’s back there chest-bumping his fellow players. That mindset now has to go to, ‘Oh no, I’m out of the game.’ We’re going to be very vigilant to make those calls.”

McAulay, American: “I think our struggle is going to be 13 minutes to go in the first quarter, this situation pops up, and you lose your free safety for the rest of the game because he did lower his target, but there’s still helmet-to-helmet contact that has to be called. There’s no leeway for the official. I’m struggling with that aspect of it. I understand the argument that there’s such a serious consequence and we can live with an ejection here and there that may not be warranted. They may be right. I don’t dismiss that argument. I’m not there yet.”

Pereira, ex-NFL: “When the penalty is so severe that it includes automatic ejection, boy, you better have a consistent philosophy. Although they’re backing it up with replay to make sure the ejection is warranted, I still think consistency is going to be an issue. Replay is going to have to prove without a shadow of a doubt that he shouldn’t be ejected.”

How challenging will it be for replay officials to decide whether to uphold the ejection?

Corrente, Pac-12: “I’m advocating we bring replay down on the field like the NFL does. The referee is the ultimate rules decision-maker on the field.”

McAulay, American: “We take the biggest plays out of the referee’s hands. I think the referees’ eyes give us a better chance of reaching near 100 percent accuracy. This is going to be a very, very tough process to get through for officials, replay and coordinators.”

Last year, College Football Officiating, LLC, used a committee of officiating coordinators to review hits to the head and recommend player disciplinary action to conferences. How often did conferences go along with those non-binding recommendations?

Corrente, Pac-12: “We read the committee’s recommendations but we kept everything in house. We believed we had a due process program in place that was understood. … Like any committee, you always have a degree of skepticism of whether anybody who is associated with a conference could have underlying reasons for removing someone else’s players. But I believe everybody in that room was above that approach.”

Carollo, Big Ten: “I brought the Aaron Murray hit (by Alabama defensive lineman Quinton Dial in the SEC Championship Game) and a dozen other plays to the rules committee about hitting a defenseless player and launching. The Murray play would be an automatic ejection and suspension now because we will define a defenseless player more in line with NFL rules. The CFO committee recommended a suspension (which didn’t happen). I know the SEC handles some things internally and there were a couple other plays in that game. I don’t second-guess these guys. If you really want consistency, that’s why we created that panel. We’re not very consistent in calling it and disciplining it around the country. Everyone kind of interpreted it their own way. Some sent letters of reprimand and didn’t start the game. Some had a half-game suspension. Some had an entire game suspension.” (Shaw, whose conference handed out three one-game suspensions in 2012, declined to discuss the Murray hit.)

The Pac-12 threw more flags by far than any conference last season. Why was that?

Corrente, Pac-12: “We had a tremendous increase last year of false starts. I had coaches tell me, ‘Tony, I don’t have the players to run our offense yet.’ If that happens, you’re making a lot of basic mistakes. So we saw an awful lot of penalties that I think this year will diminish dramatically. We also took a very aggressive stance with regard to player safety fouls, and in doing so, those numbers went up.”

Pereira, ex-NFL: “Of the games I saw, the Pac-12 probably had a little overemphasis on some of the post-play fouls, the pushing and shoving that they might be better getting in between of without resulting in a flag. I think it happens when you get a new coordinator like Corrente, who made a multitude of training tapes and put out a lot of information to officials.”

Could you envision College Football Officiating, headed by national coordinator Rogers Redding, ever receiving more authority to make binding decisions so there is greater uniformity between conferences?

McAulay, American: “Basketball got way ahead of us on uniformity. Conferences have their own little world that they get to do what they want to do without some absolute controlling authority to get everybody on the same page. We’re doing the best we can in that culture. But without that one commissioner overseeing everything like the NFL, it makes it more difficult to herd the cats. … You see what’s going on with (conference) realignment. If you can’t control that aspect for the good of the game, how can you control the lower parts of it? We’re all working together better than we ever have. Rogers does a good job of managing the strong-willed personalities of the coordinators.”

Anderson, Big 12: “I don’t think you’ll ever see one person trying to oversee (10 FBS) conferences. But what we are experimenting with is doing it on more of a regional basis, such as our partnership with the Mountain West and Southland Conference.”

Carollo, Big Ten: “One of our goals is you should turn the game on and don’t know which conference is officiating. We should have one set of mechanics and one rulebook and one philosophy on how we interpret calls. Is that aspirational? Maybe slightly today. Can we get everybody in the country doing it the same way? It’s pretty hard, but doable. I have seen in my four years in college where individual conferences have said this is how we do it, and those walls have been knocked down.”

Rhoads, ACC: “We need to continue to keep the pressure on us to make sure the uniformity/consistency piece is there. The NFL has 32 teams and they own the rules. College football is much broader with more than 120 teams alone in the FBS level. To get consistency in the application of a rule is a Herculean task for anybody. … Here’s the truth: The percentage of mistakes is very, very low. When you look at calls under the microscope with the media and social media, you’re going to find about a third of the time the official was wrong, a third of the time the official was right, and a third of it is judgment and you can talk about judgment until you die. The equal cry should be these guys are right a bunch of the time.”

What needs to be changed in officiating?

Carollo, Big Ten: “The coaches and players improve at a 45-degree angle. We (as officials) sometimes don’t stay in that 45-degree angle that keeps improving, and I see the gap widening a little more. … In college, we’ll make 5.5 to 6 mistakes every game. Our goal is maybe average four mistakes. The NFL target is 3.5 mistakes per game. We’re trying, but we’re kind of chasing the game. If you look at video 10 years ago of the SEC Championship Game, you go, ‘Whoa.’ You can see the change in the type of athletes out there. We need to be able to change.”

McAulay, American: “We started looking at team tendencies a couple years ago. There was always a sense if you look at the teams, you’ll make prejudgments and make an error, so we started slowly by looking at formations and pre-snap movements. We found, ‘Oh, this team runs the bubble screen a lot, so what does that mean in terms of how we look?’ We found it doesn’t make us prejudge on what fouls they might commit. We were able to judge it without surprise.”

Shaw, SEC: “We have to continue to modify our mechanics. If you’re in the proper place at the right time and trained where you should be, you’ll be a better official. We have some really good new mechanics we’re going to look at.”

What’s your philosophy on whether more experienced and qualified officials should work the highest-profile games?

Anderson, Big 12: “Just like players, officials are rookies at some point in their career. Even though you have confidence in them or they wouldn’t be there, it’s not like a guy who’s a veteran official and everybody knows him and is comfortable with him. I’m a very big proponent there will be some assignments you’ll put your very best officials in those environments because of the environments they’re working.”

Shaw, SEC: “Every game is important. But there are certain games that it’s easier to work a young official in, so that’s what we try to do.”

Rhoads, ACC: “I don’t look at it as that’s my No. 1 crew and that’s my No. 6 crew and this is a big game so we should put No. 1 there. There may be a fan perspective or a coach perspective to that. But if you have that much disparity from one crew to another, then you’re not training them correctly.”
The Big 12 plans to experiment with eight officials instead of seven, putting an extra one in the offensive backfield with the referee. What’s the thinking behind that concept?

Anderson, Big 12: “We have to keep pace with the game because it’s constantly evolving. With offenses going much more spread, (officiating) coverages that were for decades defined by seven officials are really appearing to be inadequate. There are a lot of passing plays that create blanket areas that aren’t covered by anybody, such as the tackle area opposite the referee. It also gives another set of eyes for hits on a quarterback.”

Pereira, ex-NFL: “I don’t like it. To me, the perfect number is seven. All you get is another opinion and it doesn’t mean it’s another good one.”

Given the scrutiny on officiating these days, how hard is it to find new officials?

Shaw, SEC: “At the entry level, we’re not getting the former players or people like we have before. That’s where the risk is now. It’s not in the next four to five years for the SEC because we’ve got great talent out there to choose from.”

McAulay, American: “You’re not getting 18-, 19- or 20-year-olds anymore hardly ever getting into officiating. If they do it, it’s later after college at 28, 32, 35, which is really too late. I started at 16 and that experience was invaluable. You lose a lot of snaps getting into it later.”

Pereira, ex-NFL: “There’s so much emphasis on officiating, including myself on TV, that if you’re trying to get into high school football and get yelled at by coaches and parents, maybe you say, ‘Is it worth it?’ The rate of retention of new officials at the high school level and even the Pop Warner level is not very good. You have to be a different person to put up with the abuse that goes along with this job.”
Technology continues to evolve. The SEC uses wireless headsets for officials to talk. The Big Ten has studied goal line cameras. There are even companies proposing chips in footballs to determine first downs and touchdowns. Where is this headed?

Anderson, Big 12: “There’s a strong lobby that if we had the technology to determine where that football is, would it not be worth having it? Those are the decisions as the game evolves that will have to be made. Then the question is which parts of the game just by tradition do you want to preserve? There’s not ever going to be a perfect solution.”

McAulay, American: “If we ever get to the point where we have almost a sterile, perfect environment, I think people are going to turn away from the game. We’re humans in a game played by humans. I think that’s one of the great things about our game. People the next day can talk about the bad pass, the poor call on defense or the missed call by an official.”

Written by Jon Solomon for Athlon Sports. This article appeared in Athlon Sports' 2013 Regional Preview Editions. Visit our online store to order your copy to get more in-depth analysis on the 2013 college football season.

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Officiating in College Football is Under a Microscope in 2013
Post date: Friday, July 26, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /college-football/south-carolina-wearing-chrome-helmets-2013

Is South Carolina the latest team to have a chrome helmet in the uniform rotation? It’s possible.

The team’s equipment staff tweeted out a photo of this chrome helmet, but also mentioned later on that South Carolina will be wearing its traditional white helmet in 2013.

So will this helmet see the field? Who knows. But it’s a pretty cool (and shiny) look for the Gamecocks.

South Carolina Wearing Chrome Helmets in 2013?
Post date: Friday, July 26, 2013 - 11:30
Path: /nascar/johnson-gordon-look-fifth-nascar-win-brickyard

1. Expect Brickyard speeds to be up considerably
NASCAR’s new car and the ever-looming fear of a repeat of 2008’s tire issues at Indianapolis sent several teams to the 2.5-mile speedway over the spring and summer for testing sessions. The tires, at least during those sessions, lasted.

But there was still a big surprise: The Gen-6 was impressively quicker than recent years in laps around the track that turns 104-years-old in August.

“With everything they’ve worked on with the Gen-6 car, I feel like it’s really relaying over to this racetrack,” Trevor Bayne said after a test in April. “Some tracks we go to you can’t tell a big difference, but with this place, with as much speed as you’re carrying into the corner, the aero packages are really amplified here. I think it’s a great package, and we’ve had a lot of grip.”

That grip has translated into speed. Jeff Gordon reported during the same test that his engineers reported a reading of 214 miles per hour on an on-board speedometer at the end of the straightaway.

Temperatures for that April test were decidedly cool and unlike the typical July weekend in Indianapolis. But an odd weather pattern has settled over the Hoosier state this weekend, leaving forecasted temperatures nearly 20 degrees under the average. The lower temperatures should keep the corner grip level higher than normal, thus increasing speed.

How the added speed will affect the racing won’t be known until Sunday, but it can often be a detractor thanks to the increased need for drivers to race in clean, non-turbulent air.

2. Jimmie, Jeff Go For Five at Indy  Jimmie JohnsonFive has long been a hallowed number at Indianapolis.

In the other big oval race there — you may have heard of the Indianapolis 500 — no driver has ever crossed the plateau of four wins shared by A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears. Michael Schumacher scored five Indianapolis wins during the brief stint of Formula 1 on the IMS road course, but that’s a fact often brushed aside faster than Bernie Ecclestone's ability to endorse a check.

Heading to its 20th running this weekend, the Brickyard 400 already has two drivers looking to cross into the five-win tier: Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson, of course, got win No. 4 last year — just seven years after his first Indianapolis victory. Gordon won the inaugural trip to Indianapolis in 1994 and recorded Brickyard win No. 4 in 2004.

Gordon has 15 career top 10s in his 19 Brickyard starts — the most in the series — but Johnson heads to Indianapolis sounding extra confident. He claims there’s a specific way to drive the car at Indianapolis that once discovered and mastered will lead to plenty of success.

“I found it through a lot of frustrating test sessions, races, a few crashed cars, and then it finally clicked,” Johnson said. “I don’t remember the exact moment. I do at Martinsville, but I don’t at Indy. It was just one weekend we came back and the light went off in my mind and I’m like, ‘That’s how!’ And then we won.”

3. Greg Biffle seeks redemption from 2012 near-miss  Greg BiffleAnother confident Sprint Cup driver heading to Indy is Greg Biffle.

Easily lost in the shuffle of Johnson’s fourth Indianapolis win last season was that Biffle had a car plenty capable of winning until a risky pit strategy play didn’t work out. The No. 16 averaged a running position of fourth during the race (only Johnson was better) and took two tires during the final pit stop to grab the lead and advantage of clean air.

But it wasn’t enough, and Biffle led just four laps (two under green) before Johnson passed him and cruised to victory over the final 29 laps.

Beyond last year’s near-miss, Biffle has the sixth-best average finish at the Brickyard among Sprint Cup active drivers with six top 10s in 10 starts.

“I love racing at Indy, we always seem to run well there. I can’t wait to kiss the bricks,” Biffle said. “I feel like we have a good car, we’ve gained a lot on downforce and a lot on drag. I’m looking forward to having a good engine and qualifying up front. This thing is going to be ours.”

4. Eldora puts Brickyard in a shadow
Somehow, someway, a small half-mile Ohio dirt track that sells $2 beers and a white t-shirt with a screen-printed mud stain under the slogan “Got dirt?” has managed to zap nearly all of the buzz from NASCAR’s biggest racing series racing at the most well-known speedway in the country.

That’s pretty crazy, right? It’s also true.

The excitement for Wednesday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway was, as many would say, palpable. It was NASCAR’s first return of a national touring series to a non-pavement track in over four decades. And the show? Well, even though the trucks looked disappointingly slow, they produced a race worth watching again and again.

It was without a doubt a rousing success for NASCAR — if only because it re-energized a segment of the fan base put off by the slot car racing seen too often on the sport’s larger, paved tracks.

But what was the cost of that great event to this weekend’s show at the Brickyard?

The visuals are going to be jarring with the stands looking barren and the racing spread out. Unless something from the Gen-6 has changed things wildly and unpredictably at Indianapolis — I’m not holding my breath — most of the passing will come on restarts and pit road.

I’m glad NASCAR tried the dirt race. I hope they do it again. But when the powers that be are trying so hard to re-invent NASCAR at Indianapolis in order to draw back 200,000-person crowds, it seems a bit silly to let the lead up to the race be overshadowed by an event everyone knew would be the main attention grab coming off the Sprint Cup off-weekend.

5. Nationwide “Dashing for Cash” at the BrickyardIt’s still going to be plenty odd for a NASCAR weekend in Indianapolis to not feature the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series at the rough-and-tumble .526-mile short track on the west edge of the city, Lucas Oil Raceway Park. It’s also plenty odd to see how empty Indianapolis’ behemoth grandstands will look for Saturday’s Nationwide race in the late afternoon.

But that doesn’t mean Saturday’s race won’t have a bit of intrigue.

In the last year’s inaugural running, controversy ruled the day when Elliott Sadler was penalized for apparently jumping a late restart. The penalty ultimately cost Sadler the race — he pitted to serve the penalty from the lead — and left him incensed over both the lost win and the championship implications.

You can bet NASCAR will be asked to clarify those restart rules this weekend.

Saturday also marks the end of the Nationwide Series’ four-race “Dash 4 Cash” program that makes a $100,000 bonus to the highest-finishing series regulars who were in the top 4 of that list at Chicagoland Speedway last week. Eligible this week are Sadler, Sam Hornish Jr., Austin Dillon and Brian Vickers.

Sadler took the first of the four bonuses at Daytona with Dillon scoring the second and third.

Follow Geoffrey Miller on Twitter: @GeoffreyMiller

Geoffrey Miller highlights the five NASCR storylines to watch in this weekend's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Post date: Friday, July 26, 2013 - 11:11
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /athlons-essential-11-links-day-july-26-2013

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for July 26.


• Geno Smith, Eric Fisher, Ziggy Ansah, et al aren't the only rookies we'll be watching this year. Here's a slideshow of 50 rookie cheerleaders you'll be seeing on NFL sidelines, including Houston's Caitlyn (pictured).


A Brewers fan wanted to make a statement via her jersey. Security did not comply with her wishes. 


Atlanta's Matt Ryan just signed a $103.75 million deal. For the math impaired, that equates to $103.75 million per career playoff win for Ryan thus far.


I'm all for any video that ends with a bro-splat.


Here's a list of things every man should have in his place. I lack many of these things. Now questioning my manhood.


• Touching story of the day: a Memphis quarterback, a piano and an 11-year-old cancer patient. There's hope for humanity.


The 49ers' Tarell Brown learned via Twitter that by missing offseason workouts, he had cost himself $2 million. So he fired his agent. Sounds like he wanted to kill the messenger, but you can't kill Twitter, I guess.


Lindsey Vonn is apparently worried about an ex-wife backslide from Tiger on his upcoming trip to Sweden. Can you blame her?


Darnell Dockett has a pet tiger, because of course he does.


Angels reliever Dane De La Rosa rescued a wounded pigeon during last night's game.


Todd Herremans of the Eagles decided he wanted to look like a Viking (not the Adrian Peterson kind).


• Enjoy this video of a U.S. airman throwing down a windmill in fatigues and boots.




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

Post date: Friday, July 26, 2013 - 10:19
All taxonomy terms: College Football, USC Trojans, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/pat-haden-lane-kiffin-not-hot-seat

Most of college football’s preseason hot seat coach rankings list USC coach Lane Kiffin at the top or in the top five. But if you believe athletic director Pat Haden, there’s no reason for Kiffin to worry about his job security.

In a video posted by USC, Haden details the state of USC football, which is especially important timing with Pac-12 Media Days coming up on Friday.

During Haden’s remarks, he specifically addresses Kiffin’s status:

“I anticipate the media will ask me if our football coach is on the hot seat this year. Here is my answer, and will be my answer whenever I’m asked. He is not.”

Haden also comments he is “behind Lane Kiffin 100 percent.”

Of course, if USC’s season completely goes awry, it’s hard to believe Haden would keep Kiffin around.

However, the Trojans have the talent to win the Pac-12 South and won’t play Oregon or Washington in crossover play with the North.

While Kiffin has been a lightning rod for criticism, it’s also important to remember USC is still dealing with NCAA sanctions and is expected to have just 70 scholarship players on the roster this year. While the 7-6 record was a disappointment last season, the Trojans did go 10-2 in 2011. There's no question Kiffin deserves blame for what happened last year. But let's also remember he's not working with a full roster, and depth during the season has become a huge issue.

Kiffin has the potential to be a good coach, and credit to Haden for letting him grow into the job, as well as getting out front of the potential barrage of hot seat questions.

If USC goes 8-4 or 9-3, then some of the talk about Kiffin being on the hot seat will subside. However, a 6-6 regular season certainly wouldn’t sit well with many in Los Angeles, regardless of what Haden says in July.

Here’s the full video of Haden’s comments:

Pat Haden: Lane Kiffin is NOT on the Hot Seat
Post date: Friday, July 26, 2013 - 10:02
All taxonomy terms: Washington Redskins, Overtime
Path: /overtime/redskins-fan-doesnt-get-autograph-sadness-ensues

Apparently Washington Redskins fan Kimberly Lewis didn't get an autograph after hanging out all day at the team's training camp, along with thousands of other fans. She was not happy. We, however, laughed a lot.

Redskins Fan Doesn't Get Autograph, Sadness Ensues
Post date: Friday, July 26, 2013 - 09:22
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/angels-player-takes-care-injured-bird

It's like something out of Lifetime movie. Reliever Dane De La Rosa discovered an injured bird near the Angels' bullpen and brought his new feathered friend to the clubhouse. All that's missing is Sarah McLachlan's "Ams of an Angel" playing in the background.

Reliever Dane De La Rosa discovered an injured bird near the Angels' bullpen and brought his new feathered friend to the clubhouse.
Post date: Friday, July 26, 2013 - 09:05
Path: /college-football/western-michigan-unveils-new-uniforms-2013

New Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck has brought some much-needed energy into the program, and the Broncos are already off to a good start on the recruiting trail for the 2014 signing class. And Fleck's task is to get Western Michigan back into the MAC West title picture, which won't be easy in 2013 with Northern Illinois, Toledo and Ball State all coming off bowl appearances last year. 

When trying to build some positive momentum for a program, it certainly doesn’t hurt for the Broncos to unveil a new jersey and helmet combination for 2013. This new look for Western Michigan isn’t quite as drastic at Miami (Ohio), but these are a pretty solid overall design for the Broncos.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the design is the “Ghost Bronco” logo on the helmets, along with the crossing oars as helmet stickers, which fits Fleck’s motto of “Row the Boat.”

Western Michigan Unveils New Uniforms for 2013
Post date: Friday, July 26, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/michigan-football-game-game-predictions-2013

Brady HokeMichigan’s last share of the Big Ten title occurred in 2004, but the Wolverines appear to be inching closer to a return to the top of the conference.

Coach Brady Hoke is assembling some of the nation’s top talent on the recruiting trail, while the offense should thrive under the leadership of junior quarterback Devin Gardner. The offensive line has a few holes to fill, but the return of tackle Taylor Lewan should allow the Wolverines to maintain a solid foundation in the trenches.

Hoke and coordinator Greg Mattison have some work to do on defense, especially on the line. Linebacker Jake Ryan’s status for 2013 is uncertain with a torn ACL, but sophomore James Ross is a future star and is due for a bigger role in the linebacking corps this year.

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

Michigan's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

8/31 Central Michigan
9/7 Notre Dame
9/14 Akron
9/21 at Connecticut
10/5 Minnesota
10/12 at Penn State
10/19 Indiana
11/2 at Michigan State
11/9 Nebraska
11/16 at Northwestern
11/23 at Iowa
11/30 Ohio State
Final Projection10-29-310-210-210-210-2


Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
With Nebraska, Michigan State, Northwestern and Michigan all capable of winning the division crown, the Legends Division will be one of the toughest leagues in the nation this year. I’m picking the Wolverines to win the division and play in a BCS bowl with a 10-2 record. However, there’s no question this will be a difficult road for Brady Hoke’s team. Even though the offensive line is a concern, promising redshirt freshman Ben Braden and Kyle Kalis could turn the interior into a strength with some seasoning early in the year. And true freshman running back Derrick Green could end up as one of the team’s top playmakers by midseason. With Hoke and Greg Mattison calling the shots, Michigan should finish in the top four of total and scoring defense in the Big Ten – even with six new starters stepping into the lineup. If the Wolverines can get by Notre Dame on Sept. 7, the Wolverines should be 7-0 going into November. However, the real test for Michigan comes in the final month, as road tests at Michigan State and Northwestern won’t be easy, along with home affairs against Nebraska and Ohio State. Assuming the Wolverines win the Legends Division, it could set up an interesting Big Ten Championship with the rival Buckeyes.

Brent Yarina, Big Ten Network, (@BTNBrentYarina)
When it comes to Michigan this season, 9-3 sounds right. Brady Hoke has the Wolverines trending in the right direction (take a look at his recruiting success), but it looks like he’ll have to wait at least one more season to play for his first Big Ten title. While Michigan figures to be in the race for the Legends Division crown, along with Nebraska and Northwestern, its schedule is more daunting than the Huskers, arguably its top competition. That said, there’s plenty of talent in Ann Arbor, so if highly touted freshman RB Derrick Green makes an immediate impact, the revamped defensive line provides some kind of pass rush and stud linebacker Jake Ryan returns from a torn ACL sooner than later, Michigan could be much better than this prediction.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)

It’s tough to find one of these game-by-game picks pieces that I’ve flip-flopped on more than Michigan. First, I changed my mind on Ohio State. I'd bet Carlos Hyde and Bradley Roby are playing in that game, but I'm not as bullish on Ohio State as I once was. I’m a bit worried about overrating a team walked the tightrope for most of 2012. But back to Michigan: The Wolverines are good enough to defeat each team on the schedule, but not every game on the schedule. I like Michigan to defeat Notre Dame early in the season even though that defense is going to be a major test for Devin Gardner. Notre Dame’s still putting the offense on Tommy Rees shoulders, at least at this stage of the year. I picked the two losses — Michigan State and Northwestern — simply because someone has to defeat Michigan this season. Michigan State lost 12-10 in Ann Arbor and will be a tough out on defense. We all know what Northwestern can do on offense with Venric Mark and Kain Colter. The Michigan game last year was one of many Northwestern had right in its grasp.

Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB), and
Michigan returning to a more traditional offensive style this season should serve the Wolverines well, but don't be totally fooled by a good start to the season. Devin Gardner as the full time quarterback from the start of the season will keep things balanced but the Wolverines will have to find a rhythm on offense. The defense was ranked second in the Big Ten last season but there is still room to improve before the Wolverines become a lock-down defense that suffocates the opposing offense. In 2013 they should have enough to pull together a nice first half, highlighted by a home victory over Notre Dame and a road win at Penn State. The question will be what kind of state are they in for the second half, which I predict will be somewhat painful down the stretch. If they are not careful, the Northwestern game could easily slip away from them. The same goes for Nebraska.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)

The Legends Division crown will most likely be decided on November 9 in Ann Arbor when Nebraska comes to town. However, the rest of Nebraska's schedule is nothing like Michigan's. So even if Michigan defeats the Big Red, it still likely needs to be at 10 or even 11 wins heading into the season finale with Ohio State to win a trip to Indianapolis. The offense under Devin Gardner won't be an issue at all but the defense needs to prove it has the depth and toughness to beat teams like Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and Nebraska. There are too many tricky road upset alerts on this schedule — at Michigan State, Penn State and Nothwestern — to pick this team to be in the top 10.

Mark Ross
If Michigan takes care of business at home against Notre Dame, the Wolverines should then be sitting pretty entering November. A trip to Happy Valley won't be easy, but this is not the same Penn State team that opened many eyes last fall. Michigan's Big Ten season likely comes down to the Nov. 9 showdown with Nebraska in the Big House. I'll give the Maize and Blue the edge because of home field, although I do think they will be a little flat the following Saturday in Evanston. Regardless, the win over the Cornhuskers should be enough to help Brady Hoke's team claim the Legends Division title, which will take some of the sting out of a season-ending loss at home to Ohio State. Fret not Wolverine fans, if everything goes according to plan, your beloved team will get another shot at the hated Buckeyes the very next week. Only this time the game will be Indianapolis and the stakes could be even higher.


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Michigan Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Friday, July 26, 2013 - 07:21
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oklahoma Sooners, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/oklahoma-football-game-game-predictions-2013

2013 is shaping up to be an interesting year in the Big 12. Six or seven teams have a case to be picked No. 1, so this could be one of the more entertaining (and wide-open) conference title races in the nation.

Oklahoma has won at least 10 games in six out of the last seven years, but the Sooners won’t start out as the favorite to win the Big 12 title. For most, that distinction belongs to their in-state rival Oklahoma State or a Texas team that finally seems to be pointed in the right direction.

Although the Sooners weren’t picked at media days as the preseason conference favorite, Bob Stoops’ team will be in the thick of the Big 12 title discussion this year. New quarterback Blake Bell will have his growing pains, but the junior should be solid once he gets more experience under his belt. The defense has to be concerned about the lack of depth in the trenches, but there’s still plenty of talent to help keep Oklahoma in the mix for 10 or more wins in 2013.

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

Oklahoma's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

8/31 ULM
9/7 West Virginia
9/14 Tulsa
9/28 at Notre Dame
10/5 TCU
10/12 Texas (Dallas)
10/19 at Kansas
10/26 Texas Tech
11/7 at Baylor
11/16 Iowa State
11/23 at Kansas State
12/7 at Oklahoma State
Final Projection9-39-39-310-210-210-2

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Anything from 8-4 to 11-1 is possible with Oklahoma this year. With the rest of the Big 12 also in transition, the Sooners shouldn’t slide too much in the win column after finishing 10-3 last season. Oklahoma’s Big 12 title hopes will rest on the development of quarterback Blake Bell, along with a defense that ranked ninth in the Big 12 in rush yards allowed and 50th nationally in points allowed in 2012. The defense isn’t short on talent, but the Sooners have to be concerned with the depth in the trenches, along with how three new starters in the secondary blend together. Until the defense finds its footing, Oklahoma will need to lean on an offense that has one of the nation’s top lines, along with a deep group of receivers and running backs. Bell has to prove he can be more than just a specialty package quarterback, but games against ULM, Tulsa and West Virginia will give him an opportunity to get comfortable as the starter, especially before key contests against Notre Dame, TCU and Texas. And it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Big 12 title is decided on Dec. 7 in the Bedlam series with Oklahoma State.

Chris Williams, (@ChrisMWilliams),

This is a team that will go as far as its quarterback allows it to go in 2013. While I’m assuming that Blake Bell (assuming he wins the job) isn’t Landry Jones, I also don’t see him as a bust either. Due to the fact that Norman has, is and always will be one of the toughest places to play in all of college football, that sure helps mask the fact that Bob Stoops has to replace one of the best signal-callers in program history along with a load of defensive players. I see the Sooners getting through its first five games unscathed with a loss to Texas in the Red River Shootout. But should OU pull that rivalry game off then watch out. All in all, I see this a very Bob Stoops-like season in 2013 for the Sooners in route to a solid 9-3 finish.

Allen Kenney,
Oklahoma appears to have hit a plateau as of late, and I don't think that changes this year. The Sooners will be breaking in a new quarterback - most likely Blake Bell - and have some serious work to do in getting their defense back up to par. On top of that, they have one of the most difficult schedules in the country, catching almost all of their best opponents away from Norman.

Six games look like coin flips to me: at Notre Dame, TCU, Texas, at Baylor, at Kansas St. and at Oklahoma St. I'd peg the Sooners to go 3-3 in that stretch; the harder part is figuring out which of those are Ws and which are Ls. No matter where the losses come from, I don't see this team winning the conference.

Bob Stoops might get a bounce in the public opinion polls with a bowl win. Still, you can bet that the debate about his ability to get the Sooners back to the top of the college football world will only intensify with that kind of season.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)

Bob Stoops is playing it coy about his starting quarterback, but there is no reason the uber-talented Blake Bell won't be a star this year in Norman. The offensive line is strong and the playmakers are a-plenty so the offense should be in great shape. However, it is the defense that is trending in the wrong direction and returns only four starters. But when in doubt, go with Stoops over most any other coach in the Big 12. The key to a league title for Oklahoma will be what happens in the Big 12 and whether or not an 8-1 record be good enough to win the league. The Sooners could easily win the league even with a loss to Oklahoma State. This will be one of the most wide-open conferences in the nation and it means the Crimson and Cream could lose to Texas, Baylor, Kansas State and the Pokes — or run the table and finish unbeaten in the league.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)

The most important game on Oklahoma’s schedule may be the TCU game. The early part of the schedule isn’t easy. ULM, West Virginia and Tulsa will all test the Oklahoma defense, though I’d expect the Sooners to handle all three. A trip to South Bend will be tough and the first major test for the new Oklahoma QB. TCU, though, will set the tone for the rest of the Big 12 season. The Horned Frogs are legitimate conference contenders. Like Notre Dame, TCU has a defensive front that matches up with Oklahoma’s strength on the offensive line. With that game back in Norman, I’m taking the Sooners. After that, I’m picking Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout until Texas proves me wrong. For the final month of the season, Oklahoma will have to avoid a Big 12 road loss, something that’s been tough for the Sooners in recent years. Baylor may be the tougher matchup for Oklahoma than Kansas State in 2013, but I’ve picked OU to win both. That may set up a de facto Big 12 title game against Oklahoma State. Why did I pick the Cowboys? This season, I think we can consider the rivals on equal footing, and I’ll go with the home team if we’re going to make these picks in July.

Mark Ross

Oklahoma is somewhat hard to figure out since they have an unproven starting quarterback in Blake Bell and only four starters returning on defense. That said, there is no lack of talent in Norman on either side of the ball, which is why I think Bob Stoops will find a way to get 10 wins in the regular season.

This victory total includes beating Notre Dame in South Bend, although I do have the Sooners falling at home to TCU the next week. OU will rebound nicely against Texas in the Red River Shootout and finish out strong, losing only to Oklahoma State to close the regular season out.

As optimistic as I am on this seemingly mysterious team, I will say that the Sooners' margin of error is probably as small as it has been since Stoops has been in charge. By that I mean, 10-2 could easily end up being 8-4 or worse, especially if Bell doesn't pan out as a passer and the defense experiences sustained stretches of growing pains.

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Post date: Friday, July 26, 2013 - 07:15