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All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-american-preview

As the 2013-14 season begins, Louisville will hope for the same results despite a new look.

Of course, one new look will be the surroundings of Memphis, Temple and a pair of Texas schools replacing the old Big East. The other new look will be at key positions at point guard and center where Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng depart the Cardinals.

Those are major losses for Louisville, but Rick Pitino has plenty of returning pieces to make another run at the national title. The Cardinals are the runaway favorite for the new American Athletic Conference, but they’ll have more speed bumps than the football program.

Memphis had its best season under Josh Pastner last season, and the Tigers have been waiting for years to show they can compete with teams like Louisville and Connecticut on a regular basis. After a postseason ban, UConn has the backcourt talent to return to the NCAA Tournament under Kevin Ollie.

But the true depth of the league will be determined by the dormant ex-Conference USA/ex-Southwest Conference programs from Texas. Houston and SMU have been building for this moment for several years, stocking up on key transfers and freshmen.

American Predicted Order of Finish

G Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
G Joe Jackson, Memphis
G Russ Smith, Louisville
G/F Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati
F Montrezl Harrell, Louisville

G Ryan Boatright, Connecticut
G Geron Johnson, Memphis
G Isaiah Sykes, UCF
F Chane Behanan, Louisville
F TaShawn Thomas, Houston

G Chris Jones, Louisville
G Danuel House , Houston
G Jalen Jones, SMU
G Myles Mack, Rutgers
F DeAndre Daniels, Connecticut
1. LOUISVILLE (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA runner up
The defending national champions are just as talented and deep as last season. A third straight Final Four is in the offing.

2. MEMPHIS (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 32
With three veteran guards returning and a loaded recruiting class, Josh Pastner could finally make noise in March.

3. CONNECTICUT(team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 32
The Huskies surprised last season despite their postseason ban, and Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright are both back.

4. CINCINNATI (team preview)
Postseason prediction:
NCAA Round of 64
Sean Kilpatrick will have to carry the Bearcats offensively at times, but frosh Jermaine Lawrence will make an impact.

5. SMU
Postseason prediction:
All five starters are back, and they’ll be joined by an outstanding crop of newcomers.

Postseason prediction:
Khalif Wyatt is going to be difficult to replace, but Fran Dunphy-coached teams always find ways to win.

7. UCF
Remember the name Isiah Sykes. He's one of the best in the league, and one of four starters back for the Knights.

It was a tumultuous offseason for the Scarlet Knights, but that doesn't mean the roster is devoid of talent.

Raise your hand if you knew the Cougars won 20 games last season. A tougher league means that won't happen again.

10. USF
The Bulls were a massive disappointment last season, but Anthony Collins is back to run the show.

Player of the Year: Russ Smith, Louisville
Smith struggled in the Final Four, but he returns after making a major improvement last season. As he was used in the offense more, Smith’s field goal percentage went form 35.6 percent to 41.4 percent.

Best Defensive Player: Geron Johnson, Memphis
The junior college transfer instantly upgraded Memphis in the defensive end with his work on the perimeter.

Most Underrated Player: Anthony Lee, Temple
Lee will need to be underrated no more as the Owls lose a ton from last year’s team. Lee averaged 9.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in 23.8 minutes.

Newcomer of the Year: Chris Jones, Louisville (full list of key newcomers around the AAC)
A dogged defender, Jones steps into an unenviable spot replacing veteran Peyton Siva. He’ll be one of the key cogs in Louisville’s bid to repeat.

Top coach: Rick Pitino, Louisville (full AAC coach rankings)

Coach on the hot seat: Stan Heath, USF (full hot seat list)

College Basketball: 2013-14 American Preview
Post date: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 07:06
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-iowa-state-preview

This preview and more on Iowa State and the Big 12 are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

Iowa State Facts & Figures
Last season: 23-12 (11-7 Big 12)
Postseason: NCAA Round of 32
Coach: Fred Hoiberg (62-39 at Iowa State)
Big 12 projection: Fourth
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32

With three junior college transfers and a pair of high school signees all vying for playing time, Fred Hoiberg says it may be a while before he has a good feel for his Iowa State basketball team.

“Right now there are a lot of unknowns,” Hoiberg says.

The scenario isn’t all that new for the Cyclones, who continue to win at a high level despite a roster that features so many new faces each year that people jokingly refer to Iowa State as “Transfer U”. While transfers — many of whom arrive with baggage — often flounder at other schools, Hoiberg has proven to be as good as any coach in America at incorporating new parts and getting them to blend with those already in place.

It worked with transfers such as Royce White, Korie Lucious, Chris Babb, Chris Allen and Scott Christopherson, who led the Cyclones to 23 wins, a top-four finish in the Big 12 and the third round of the NCAA Tournament in each of the past two seasons. Cyclones fans are hoping former Marshall standout DeAndre Kane and the other new arrivals can help continue the trend in 2013-14.


While most of Iowa State’s rotation will be dotted with new faces, the Cyclones couldn’t feel better about what they have returning in the post, where starters Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang return after starting every conference game last season. “When they’re on the floor,” Hoiberg says, “I like our chances against anyone.”

Ejim, who will be a fourth-year starter, is a bit undersized at 6-6. But that didn’t stop him from averaging 11.3 points and a league-best 9.3 boards a year ago. The highly skilled Niang is fresh off one of the best freshman seasons in Iowa State history. The 6-7, 245-pounder averaged 12.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and shot a team-high 51.5 percent from the field. Niang has the versatility to score from anywhere on the court, including 3-point range.

The Cyclones are counting on junior Percy Gibson to step up after a disappointing sophomore campaign. Hoiberg describes junior college transfer Daniel Edozie as “a big, physical kid who will get in there and battle. He’s a good rebounder.”


As comfortable as Iowa State feels about its frontcourt, the Cyclones are in a state of flux on the perimeter, where Babb, Lucious, Clyburn and Tyrus McGee all graduated. That foursome combined to average 47.2 points last season. “It’s going to be a completely different look,” Hoiberg says. “There’s going to be a battle for minutes. I’m excited to see who emerges.”

The Cyclones received a huge boost in May when Kane announced he was leaving Marshall and transferring to Iowa State, where he will be eligible to play immediately. A combo guard, Kane is one of two active Division I players to average 15 or more points in each of his first three college seasons. He averaged 15.1 points and seven assists in 2012-13.

Senior Bubu Palo is a candidate to join Kane in the backcourt. Off-court issues limited Palo to 17 games last season, but the former walk-on is still one of the squad’s most experienced players and its top perimeter defender.

A pair of junior college transfers, K.J. Bluford and Dustin Hogue, could also factor prominently into the mix. Hoiberg likes the 6-6 Hogue because of his ability to play multiple positions. And he says Bluford is a “Tyrus McGee type” because of his ability to connect from long range.

Matt Thomas, who is considered one of the top shooters in the Class of 2013, could be a factor, too, along with freshman Monte Morris and redshirt freshman Sherron Dorsey-Walker.


Don’t be surprised if Marshall transfer DeAndre Kane, a combo guard, leads the team in scoring. Matt Thomas and Monte Morris are both top-100 prospects who could make significant impacts as freshmen. K.J. Bluford led the junior college ranks in 3-pointers per game last season. Dustin Houge in another juco who could play a big role on the perimeter.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 9.9. The Cyclones led the nation by averaging 9.9 made 3-point field goals per game in 2012-13. Iowa State ranked third nationally in scoring (79.4 ppg).
Iowa State has the talent to contend for an NCAA Tournament berth for the third straight year, but only if the newcomers jell in a hurry. Hoiberg has dealt with a plethora of fresh faces before, but in most of those scenarios, the players were transfers who had spent a year on campus practicing with the team before becoming eligible. “With the other guys, we knew what we were getting and who they were going to be,” Hoiberg says. “These guys are going to have to bond right from the start.”

College Basketball: 2013-14 Iowa State Preview
Post date: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 07:05
All taxonomy terms: Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning, NFL
Path: /nfl/the-10-greatest-quarterback-seasons-nfl-history

Peyton Manning might be the greatest regular season quarterback in NFL history. And what he is doing to the rest of the NFL this fall is downright unfair.

After five games, Manning has 1,884 yards, 20 touchdowns, one interception and has completed 75.8 percent of his passes at a 9.5 yard per attempt average. His per game averages are 376.8 yards, 4.0 touchdowns and 0.2 interceptions and his QB rating is 136.4.

This puts the Broncos signal-caller on pace for 6,029 yards, 64 touchdowns and three interceptions — which would shatter the single-season records for yards held by Drew Brees (5,476) and touchdowns held by Tom Brady (50). His 75.8 percent completion would also obliterate Brees’ present NFL record (71.2 percent) and his 136.4 QB rating would dwarf Aaron Rodgers’ single-season record (122.5).

Simply put, Manning is on pace to produce the best single regular season by a quarterback in NFL history. And it’s not even close.

However, for this season to be considered the greatest of all-time, Manning must deliver in the postseason. He is 9-11 all-time in the playoffs, has won only one Super Bowl and lost another. So for Manning’s 2013 to become the best start-to-finish NFL campaign — which are ranked below — he must finish the season with a second Lombardi Trophy.

1. Steve Young, San Francisco, 1994
There hasn't been a more complete NFL season than the year Young and offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan put together in 1994. The 49ers finished the regular season with the best record in the league at 13-3 while Young set an NFL single-season record for efficiency with a 112.8 QB rating, breaking the previous record set by former mentor Joe Montana. He also came 0.3 percentage points from breaking Ken Anderson's NFL mark for completion percent at 70.6 percent (Young's 70.3 percent still sits at No. 4 all-time). He started all 16 games, finished with 3,969 yards and an NFL-best 35 touchdowns against only 10 interceptions. Additionally, Young led the team in rushing touchdowns with seven as he compiled 293 yards on 58 carries. For all of this he earned the NFL MVP, but what made the '94 campaign special is what took place following the regular season. The Niners steam-rolled the Bears, Cowboys and Chargers en route to Young's first Super Bowl — a win commemorated by a record six touchdown passes, 325 yards passing, the MVP trophy and Gary Plummer's famous monkey exorcism. Oh, and No. 8 was the game's leading rusher as well. Young posted 623 yards passing, 128 yards rushing, 11 total touchdowns and nary an interception in San Francisco's three playoff games. It was the finest season a quarterback has ever seen.

2. Kurt Warner, St. Louis, 1999
Part of what makes Warner's '99 campaign so memorable is how the Northern Iowa signal-caller ended up a Super Bowl champion and NFL MVP. The undrafted rookie finally broke into the league four years after graduating from UNI and led the inept Rams to the best record in the NFC (13-3) as a first-year starter. The 28-year-old led the NFL in touchdown passes (41), completion rate (65.1 percent), yards per attempt (8.7) and QB rating (109.2) while finishing with a franchise-record 4,353 yards passing. He then proceeded to complete over 81 percent of his passes for 391 yards and five touchdowns in his first career playoff start — a 49-37 win over Minnesota. By the end of Super Bowl XXXIV, Warner had thrown for 414 yards and two touchdowns to earn his second MVP trophy of the season. The huge numbers, the sheer improbability and ultimate victory combined to produce what was nearly the greatest season in history.

3. Tom Brady, New England, 2007
Today's sports culture values championships and quarterbacks rarely disagree. So had Brady finished his magical romp through the NFL in 2007, he would be sitting at No. 1 on this list. He is only one of two QBs to ever finish a season 16-0 and eventually worked the record to 18-0 before the show-stopping loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII . Brady threw for a franchise-record 4,806 yards, good for third all-time in NFL history at the time. His QB rating of 117.2 was second all-time in NFL history and he became the first and only player to ever throw 50 touchdown passes in one season. He threw only eight interceptions and led the league in 11 passing categories. In the postseason, Brady and the Pats were dominant against Miami in the Divisional Round, but the Michigan grad struggled in the final two games of the year. He threw three interceptions and had his second-worst yardage day of the year (209 yards) in the AFC title game win over San Diego. He capped his MVP season with an underwhelming performance against the extraordinary Giants defensive line, costing him his fourth Super Bowl ring and the unbeaten immortality of 19-0.

4. Dan Marino, Miami, 1984
Marino was well ahead of his time back in only his second year in the league. He set an NFL record for passing yards (5,084) that would stand for nearly 30 years and an NFL record for touchdowns (48) that would stand for 20 years. He led the Dolphins to the best record in the AFC at 14-2, claimed the MVP trophy and returned Miami to the Super Bowl where they fell just short of defeating the 18-1 Joe Montana-led 49ers. The Pitt Panther threw for 1,001 yards and eight scores in three postseason games. The 23-year-old with a lightning quick release led the NFL in completions, attempts, QB rating and yards per attempt in a season that totally changed the way the game of football was played. He paved the way for what we see today on Sunday and came up 22 points short of a championship.

5. Joe Montana, San Francisco, 1989
The Golden Domer wasn't ever the most talented or fastest or strongest quarterback on the field, but his 13 regular-season games — and subsequent playoff run — during the 1989 season were as brilliant as most's 16-game seasons. Montana completed 70.2 percent of his passes, led the NFL at 270.8 yards per game and finished with a then-NFL record 112.4 QB rating. His completion rate was second all-time to only Ken Anderson and is still one of only five seasons better than 70 percent in history. The 49ers finished 11-2 in his 13 starts and 14-2 overall and Montana was the MVP of the league. Montana threw for 3,521 yards, 26 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. He also added 227 yards rushing and three more scores on the ground. However, what made No. 16's '89 campaign one of the greatest in history was his thorough destruction of the NFC and Denver Broncos in the postseason. He completed 65 of his 83 passes (78.3 percent) for 800 yards, 11 touchdowns and zero picks, finishing his historic season with arguably the most dominant Super Bowl performance to date by crushing John Elway and company 55-10. Three more games puts Montana over 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns and moves him ahead of Marino and Brady on this list.

6. Drew Brees, New Orleans, 2009
One could argue Brees' 2011 season was better, but I am guessing if you ask him which year was better, he would take '09 everyday and twice on Sunday. He led the NFL in completion rate (70.6 percent), breaking the aforementioned Anderson's NFL single-season record. He also topped the charts in touchdown passes (34) and QB rating (109.6) en route to a 13-3 final regular season record. He finished with 4,388 yards and only 11 interceptions. He then capped New Orleans' magical resurrection with 732 yards passing, eight touchdowns and no interceptions in three playoff wins. His performance in the Super Bowl XLIV win over the Colts and Peyton Manning gave the Saints franchise their first championship. Brees completed 82.1 percent of his passes and claimed the game's MVP honors.

7. Drew Brees, New Orleans, 2011
It is hard to argue that from a statistical perspective, no quarterback has ever had a better regular season than Brees in 2011. He set NFL records for completions (468), passing yards (5,476) and completion rate (71.2 percent) while leading the Saints to a 13-3 record. He then proceeded to throw for 928 yards and seven touchdowns in two playoff games. His defense let him down in the postseason and he contributed two of the team's costly five turnovers in the divisional round loss to the 49ers.

8. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis, 2006
Much like Brees, Manning has had many elite seasons, but two stand above the rest. One in which he broke an NFL record and played at unprecedented levels (see 2004 below) and the other ended with a Super Bowl championship. Much like Brees, the ring gives Manning's '06 campaign the slight edge. He threw for 4,397 yards on 65.0 percent passing and a league-leading 31 touchdown passes. It was also the only year in which No. 18 threw fewer than 10 interceptions (9). His 101.0 QB rating also led the NFL that season and he added four rushing scores for good measure. Manning led his Colts to four postseason wins that year (16-4 overall) and the 29-17 Super Bowl XLI win over Chicago in which he claimed the game's MVP trophy.

9. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay, 2011
In a season in which three passers topped 5,000 yards and numerous NFL records were broken, Rodgers' season can get lost in the shuffle. Yet, the Packers' passer set every major franchise passing record and led a team that finished 15-1 in the regular season. The year ended with a whimper with Rodgers sitting out the season finale and then losing to the Giants in the team's only playoff game. But his 4,643 yards, 10.5 yards per attempt and absurd 45:6 TD:INT ratio gave No. 12 the most efficient season in NFL history (122.5 QB rating) — and it earned him the league's MVP trophy. Had he posted Matt Flynn's (480 yards passing, 6 TDs) numbers in the final week of the regular season, he would have hit 50 TDs and topped 5,000 yards. That said, Packers fans will always look at '11 with "what-if" memories.

10. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis, 2004
Many believe this season was Manning's best. Statistically speaking it was as he finished the regular season with an NFL-record 49 touchdown passes and 121.1 QB rating to go with 4,557 yards and a 67.6 percent completion rate. The league's MVP was 12-4 and on a path to his first Super Bowl title until New England completely dominated the AFC Championship Game 20-3. Manning ended a remarkable season one game shy of his goal, as he managed only 238 yards passing, no touchdowns and one interception in the disheartening loss to the Patriots.

Others to consider:

Dan Fouts, San Diego, 1981 (10-6, Postseason: 1-1)
Stats: 4,802 yds (NFL record), 33 TD, 17 INT, 90.6 QB rating

Warren Moon, Houston, 1990 (8-7, Postseason: None)
Stats: 4,689 yds, 33 TD, 13 INT, 96.8 QB rating, 215 rush yds, 2 TD

Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia, 1990 (10-6, Postseason: 0-1)
Stats: 3,466 yds, 30 TD, 13 INT, 91.6 QB rating, 118 att., 942 yds, 5 TD

Brett Favre, Green Bay, 1996 (13-3, Postseason: 3-0) MVP, Super Bowl
Stats: 3,899 yds, 39 TD, 13 INT, 95.8 QB rating, 136 rush yds, 2 TD

Michael Vick, Atlanta, 2004 (11-4, Postseason: 1-1)
Stats: 2,313 yds, 14 TD, 12 INT, 78.1 QB rating, 120 att., 902 yds, 3 TD

Michael Vick, Atlanta, 2006 (7-9, Postseason: None)
Stats: 2,474 yds, 20 TD, 13 INT, 75.7 QB rating, 123 att., 1,039 yds, 2 TD

Brett Favre, Minnesota, 2009 (12-4, Postseason: 1-1)
Stats: 4,202 yds, 33 TD, 7 INT, 107.2 QB rating

Michael Vick, Philadelphia, 2010 (8-3, Postseason: 0-1)
Stats: 3,018 yds, 21 TD, 6 INT, 100.2 QB rating, 100 att., 675 yds, 9 TD

Eli Manning, NY Giants, 2011 (9-7, Postseason: 4-0) Super Bowl
Stats: 4,933 yds, 29 TD, 16 INT, 92.9 QB rating

Tom Brady, New England, 2011 (13-3, Postseason: 2-1)
Stats: 5,235 yds, 39 TD, 12 INT, 105.6 QB rating, 109 rush yds, 3 TD

Cam Newton, Carolina, 2011 (6-10, Postseason: None)
Stats: 4,051 yds, 21 TD, 17 INT, 84.5 QB rating, 126 att., 706 yds, 14 TD

Post date: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-virginia-preview

This preview and more on Virginia and the ACC are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

Virginia Facts & Figures
Last season: 23-12 (11-7 ACC)
Postseason: NIT quarterfinals
Coach: Tony Bennett (76-53 at Virginia)
ACC projection: Fifth
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32
Win games, lose players. That incongruous trend continued for Virginia in 2012-13. For the fourth straight year, the Cavaliers won more games than the season before. And for the fourth straight year, a couple of players bailed.

The departures of guards Paul Jesperson, who started 33 games and Taylor Barnette, who started two, bring to 10 the number of transfers under coach Tony Bennett, who is entering his fifth year. It’s a puzzling aspect of the affable Bennett’s tenure. Even to him.

“There are different reasons why guys leave, but it’s just more and more of a reality, it’s a different time. It’s not just here, it’s everywhere where you’re going to fight that,” he says.

If Virginia is not exactly winning the fight, it’s definitely surviving it. Quite nicely, in fact. Projected to tumble into the ACC’s second division after reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2012, Bennett’s Cavs instead maintained the program’s quiet momentum, finishing fourth in the conference and advancing to the quarterfinals of the NIT.

While it can’t be called a step forward, it certainly wasn’t much of a step back. Bennett showed that his program has developed staying power.

This year, the Cavaliers could find out how high their ceiling is. With every key contributor except Jesperson and point guard Jontel Evans back, and with guard Malcolm Brogdon returning from a foot injury and South Carolina transfer Anthony Gill bolstering the frontcourt, this is easily Bennett’s biggest, most athletic and versatile team.


With size, depth and athleticism to spare, Virginia could have one of the ACC’s best frontcourts.

Mike Tobey is the hub. The 6-11 sophomore spent part of the summer playing for the U.S. team at the U19 World Championship. Though he didn’t play a ton on a loaded squad, the experience was invaluable, he says. “Definitely, the experience helped me see more potential and see what I can do down the road,” he says.

Tobey flashed that potential last year, giving Virginia a true back-to-the basket presence. His development was slowed by a bout of mononucleosis that caused him to miss five games. But with added strength and stamina, Tobey could blossom.

Forward Akil Mitchell certainly blossomed last year, finishing with more double-doubles (12) than All-ACC pick Mike Scott did the previous year. The 6-8 Mitchell and the springy, 6-8 Darion Atkins give Virginia two of the ACC’s better frontcourt defenders.

Gill, who started 26 games at South Carolina as a freshman two years ago, is a former high school teammate of Mitchell. He’ll push Atkins for playing time.  

The addition of Gill should allow Evan Nolte, who hit the freshman wall after being forced to bang inside more than he was ready for, to move to a more natural spot on the wing. He hit 39 percent of his 3-point attempts last year.


Did we mention size and depth? That’s the story in the backcourt as well.

Amid all the roster churn of the last four years, senior Joe Harris has been a constant, an impact player from Day 1 who became an All-ACC selection last year. The sweet-shooting Harris was on a tear through the season’s first 28 games but wore down over the final seven. Playing more than 32 minutes per game and drawing so much defensive attention took a toll.

He’ll have more help this year. The versatile Brodgon, who played both guard positions before breaking his foot in February 2012, returns after missing all of last season. He’s likely to get first crack at the point guard position, where he’s got an edge in experience over incoming freshmen Devon Hall and London Perrantes.

The ultra-athletic and energetic Justin Anderson, spectacular at times as a freshman last year, could be poised for a breakout year.


In a departure from the usual, someone transferred in for a change. Anthony Gill was reportedly a load to handle in practice last year and will help right away. Devon Hall is a rangy, pass-first point who made some national top-100 recruit lists. London Perrantes, who also got some top-100 mentions, comes all the way from Los Angeles, where he had Pac-12 offers galore.

Final Analysis
Factoid: Virginia prefers a chilly pace, with scores in 50s whenever possible. The Cavs allowed just 55.6 points per game, fifth in the nation.

Maybe slow and steady does win the race. Bennett’s patient, deliberate approach — on and off the court — is gathering steam.

Bennett has recruited well, and although Virginia’s attrition rate has been high, the players who have bought in have developed, and the program has established an identity and style of play.

The influx of new members has made the ACC tougher than ever. Virginia is doing what it can to keep pace.

Win games, lose players. That incongruous trend continued for Virginia in 2012-13. For the fourth straight year, the Cavaliers won more games than the season before. And for the fourth straight year, a couple of players bailed.

The departures of guards Paul Jesperson, who started 33 games and Taylor Barnette, who started two, bring to 10 the number of transfers under coach Tony Bennett, who is entering his fifth year. It’s a puzzling aspect of the affable Bennett’s tenure. Even to him.

“There are different reasons why guys leave, but it’s just more and more of a reality, it’s a different time. It’s not just here, it’s everywhere where you’re going to fight that,” he says.

If Virginia is not exactly winning the fight, it’s definitely surviving it. Quite nicely, in fact. Projected to tumble into the ACC’s second division after reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2012, Bennett’s Cavs instead maintained the program’s quiet momentum, finishing fourth in the conference and advancing to the quarterfinals of the NIT.

While it can’t be called a step forward, it certainly wasn’t much of a step back. Bennett showed that his program has developed staying power.

This year, the Cavaliers could find out how high their ceiling is. With every key contributor except Jesperson and point guard Jontel Evans back, and with guard Malcolm Brogdon returning from a foot injury and South Carolina transfer Anthony Gill bolstering the frontcourt, this is easily Bennett’s biggest, most athletic and versatile team. - See more at:
College Basketball: 2013-14 Virginia Preview
Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 23:24
All taxonomy terms: Eli Manning, New York Giants, NFL
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-picks-every-game-week-6

A quick look at every game on the NFL schedule for Week 6, along with the consensus picks of Athlon Sports' editors.

Giants (0-5) at Bears (3-2)
The Big Blue Wrecking Crew and Monsters of the Midway defenses need to look alive against Eli Manning (12 INTs, two lost fumbles) and Jay Cutler (six INTs, three lost fumbles) on Thursday. Bears by 7

Packers (2-2) at Ravens (3-2)
Baltimore lost its beloved pregame-dancing linebacker who wore No. 52. Now Green Bay has to cope with the loss of its own post-sack-dancing No. 52, Clay Matthews (broken thumb). Packers by 4

Bengals (3-2) at Bills (2-3)
Thad Lewis, the most statistically accomplished QB in Duke football history, will make a quantum leap from the practice squad to NFL starter. Bengals by 6

Lions (3-2) at Browns (3-2)
Cleveland is 3–0 since the return of wideout Josh Gordon, who is now the center of swirling trade rumors with the receiver-starved 49ers. Lions by 5

Steelers (0-4) at Jets (3-2)
Uber-confident Ryan Clark will be quick to point out to his Blitz-burgh teammates that the Steelers are playing at the site of Super Bowl XLVIII. Steelers by 2

Rams (2-3) at Texans (2-3)
Matt Schaub has thrown a pick-six in a record four straight games. St. Louis’ Janoris Jenkins had three pick-sixes last year and Matt Giordano had an 82-yard pick-six just last week. Texans by 5

Panthers (1-3) at Vikings (1-3)
Carolina outscoring opponents 45–12 at home, but outscored 46–29 on the road this season. Vikings by 2

Raiders (2-3) at Chiefs (5-0)
Oakland swept K.C. last year, winning 26–16 at Arrowhead and 15–0 at the Black Hole. Chiefs by 8

Eagles (2-3) at Buccaneers (0-4)
Chip Kelly and Greg Schiano will give it the old college try once more unto the breach, er, Bay. Eagles by 3

Jaguars (0-5) at Broncos (5-0)
The worst vs. first matchup could feature the Broncos’ second-string in the second half. Broncos by 27

Titans (3-2) at Seahawks (4-1)
Former UW star Jake Locker will be on crutches for his Seattle homecoming. But the Hawks will likely be in “Beast Mode” after two road games. Seahawks by 11

Saints (5-0) at Patriots (4-1)
Last week, Tom Brady failed to throw a TD pass for the first time since Jan. 3, 2010. Patriots by 1

Cardinals (3-2) at 49ers (3-2)
Jim Harbaugh has a 3–1 record against Zona, with a 21–19 loss in 2011 and three victories by a combined score of 74–23. 49ers by 10

Redskins (1-3) at Cowboys (2-3)
Last season, RG3 went 2–0 against Dallas — passing for 404 yards, four TDs and one INT, while scrambling for 92 yards and another TD. Cowboys by 3

Colts (4-1) at Chargers (2-3)
Stanford alum Andrew Luck aims for the season sweep of California clubs, having already defeated Oakland, San Francisco and avocado. Colts by 4

Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 21:00
All taxonomy terms: Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars, NFL
Path: /nfl/worst-vs-first-jacksonville-28-point-underdogs-denver

The clawless 0–5 Jacksonville Jaguars take on the stampeding 5–0 Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday in what Vegas oddsmakers think is the most lopsided matchup in recorded history. The winless Jaguars opened as a 28-point — or four touchdown — underdog against the undefeated Broncos. That number is the largest since the NFL-AFL merger of 1970 and ties the unofficial record, which (citing The Gold Sheet) reports to be when the expansion Atlanta Falcons were 28-point underdogs against the Baltimore Colts in 1966.

Although the gambling line is set to entice bettors and is not necessarily a prediction of the outcome, it is an easy indicator of public opinion based on past on-field performance. And the numbers don’t lie. As the Broncos official Twitter feed (@DenverBroncos) pointed out, “The #Broncos’ 51 points in yesterday’s win are as many points as the Jaguars have scored all season.” And it’s true. Denver’s 51 points in its thrilling win at Dallas is the same total Jacksonville has tallied over five games.

The Broncos have looked like Super Bowl favorites en route to wins over the Ravens (49–27), Giants (41–23), Raiders (37–21), Eagles (52–20) and Cowboys (51–48). Meanwhile, the Jags appear to be aiming for the No. 1 overall pick after losses to the Chiefs (28–2), Raiders (19–9), Seahawks (45–17), Colts (37–3) and Rams (34–20).

A tale of the tape is even uglier, as Denver dominates Jacksonville:

Points per game:
46.0 – Denver Broncos
10.2 – Jacksonville Jaguars

Yards per game:
489.9 – Denver Broncos
251.8 – Jacksonville Jaguars

Total Touchdowns:
29 – Denver Broncos
 5 – Jacksonville Jaguars

Turnover Ratio:
+1 – Denver Broncos
–7 – Jacksonville Jaguars

It starts at the top, where Denver boasts Peyton Manning at quarterback and Jacksonville drags out Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne, while a percentage of the fanbase pines for local legend Tim Tebow.

Manning is off to an MVP start, passing for 1,884 yards, 20 TDs and one INT for a 136.4 passer rating. Gabbert, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2011 draft, and Henne have combined to pass for 1,082 yards, three TDs and nine INTs. In a surreal setting, Henne will start in place of the injured Gabbert, who has led only one TD drive this year.

Expectations couldn’t be lower. Just keep it within four TDs, Jags.

Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 20:00
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-power-rankings-week-5

Ranking all 32 NFL teams, from the undefeated Denver Broncos to the winless Jacksonville Jaguars.

1. Broncos (5-0) Peyton Manning’s statistics even bigger in Big D.

2. Saints (5-0) Drew Brees gets first win at Soldier Field in fourth try.

3. Chiefs (5-0) K.C. off to best start since 9–0 record in 2003.

4. Colts (4-1) Andrew Luck leads ninth fourth-quarter comeback.

5. Seahawks (4-1) Squander early 12–0 lead in loss at Indianapolis.

6. 49ers (3-2) Injury-riddled Niners solid gold in win over Texans.

7. Packers (2-2) Winners of 23 straight over Lions in Wisconsin.

8. Bengals (3-2) Hold Patriots without TD for first time since 2009.

9. Patriots (4-1) Tom Brady’s TD pass streak ends at 52 straight.

10. Ravens (3-2) Pass rush brings talents and heat to South Beach.

11. Lions (3-2) Calvin Johnson (knee) sits out loss at Green Bay.

12. Bears (3-2) Alshon Jeffery sets team receiving mark (218 yards).

13. Cowboys (2-3) Not the “same old Tony Romo,” but same outcome.

14. Texans (2-3) Gary Kubiak gives Matt Schaub vote of confidence.

15. Dolphins (3-2) Suffer second straight loss after promising 3–0 start.

16. Eagles (2-3) Nick Foles throws two TDs subbing for Mike Vick.

17. Titans (3-2) Five straight three-and-outs to open loss vs. Chiefs.

18. Jets (3-2) Geno Smith throws three TDs in upset over Atlanta.

19. Falcons (1-4) Back-to-back home losses for first time since 2009.

20. Redskins (1-3) RG3 hopes to bounce back strong after bye week.

21. Rams (2-3) End three-game losing streak with win over Jags.

22. Cardinals (3-2) Record seven sacks, first safety in nine seasons.

23. Browns (3-2) Brandon Weeden leads win after Brian Hoyer injury.

24. Raiders (2-3) Charles Woodson ties record with 13th defensive TD.

25. Chargers (2-3) Post past-prime-time loss at Oakland’s Black Hole.

26. Bills (2-3) EJ Manuel out 4-to-6 weeks, Thad Lewis to start.

27. Panthers (1-3) Ugly effort included nine penalties for 79 lost yards.

28. Vikings (1-3) Add Josh Freeman to Ponder, Cassel QB carrousel.

29. Steelers (0-4) Ryan Clark boasts team not “out of” playoff hunt.

30. Giants (0-5) Big Blue feeling blue, 0–5 for first time since 1987.

31. Buccaneers (0-4) Warren Sapp critical of embattled Greg Schiano.

32. Jaguars (0-5) Justin Blackmon shines in debut after suspension.

Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 20:00
All taxonomy terms: Baltimore Ravens, prime time, Terrell Suggs, NFL
Path: /nfl/prime-time-players-week-5

Terrell Suggs, LB, Ravens
“T-Sizzle” was on fire in Baltimore’s 26–23 win on the road at Miami. The self-proclaimed alum of “Ball So Hard University” recorded half of the Ravens’ six sacks, with all three of Suggs’ QB takedowns coming in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. “My wife told me to ‘bring momma three sacks,’” Suggs said after the game. “I said, ‘All right, momma said she wanted three, so go get it.’” The Ravens have a 14–1 record when the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year posts a multi-sack game.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles
Chip Kelly’s high-flying offense was back in business during a 36–21 win over the NFC East rival Giants. Although Philly failed to maximize its opportunities — kicking five field goals of 41 yards or less — Jackson was a big play waiting to happen. The electric wideout had seven catches for 132 yards (18.9 ypc) and a game-sealing TD grab, which was followed by a trolling mockery of the signature salsa dance made famous by New York’s Victor Cruz.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts
Reportedly motivated by trash talk from the Seahawks secondary, Hilton had the last laugh in a 34–28 win over Seattle. Andrew Luck’s other go-to guy — opposite Reggie Wayne — had five catches for 140 yards (28.0 ypc) and a pair of TDs, including a 73-yard scoring strike that marked the longest TD in the careers of both Luck and Hilton. The play proved to be the turning point in the game, as Indy had 13 yards on 12 plays prior to the game-breaking bomb.

Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos
Sure, the four-time MVP completed 33-of-42 passes (78.6 percent) for 414 yards, four TDs and one INT for a 129.6 passer rating in a 51–48 win on the road at Cowboys Stadium. But the 16th-year veteran has been doing that just about every week. It was Manning’s naked bootleg TD run — his first rushing TD since 2008 — that stole the show. “You want to do it about every five years or so,” joked Manning.

Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys
This space is usually reserved for winners, but Romo’s historic losing effort deserves mention. In a 51–48 disappointing defeat to Denver, Romo became just the fifth quarterback in NFL history to pass for 500 yards and five TDs in a single game. Romo completed 25-of-36 passes for 506 yards, five TDs and one INT, going toe-to-toe with Manning in a shootout for the ages. Dallas and Denver combined for the second-highest scoring game in regulation (99) since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970.

Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 19:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-october-8

Almost at the halfway point of the 2013 season.

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

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Tuesday, October 8th

Lost Lettermen takes a look at the top-10 coaching confrontations since 2000.

Tired of bowl games? Get ready, there are four new ones coming to college football in 2014.

Here's an odd story: Fake representatives of USC are reaching out to coaching candidates.

Auburn defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker will take a redshirt season.

UCLA lost tackle Torian White for the rest of the year with an ankle injury suffered against Utah.

Minnesota's president has renewed his support for coach Jerry Kill.

What has happened to Texas' athletic department?

Is Jadeveon Clowney tanking for the NFL Draft?

Virginia coach Mike London received the vote of confidence from his athletic director this week.

Why isn't Florida running back Kelvin Taylor playing this year?

Utah tight end Jake Murphy suffered a broken wrist against UCLA.

Should California fire defensive coordinator Andy Buh?

Texas A&M defensive tackle Kirby Ennis will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Oklahoma linebacker Corey Nelson will miss the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle.

Who replaces quarterback Chuckie Keeton at Utah State?


Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 16:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs
Path: /college-football/todd-gurley-doubtful-saturdays-game-against-missouri

Georgia running back Todd Gurley missed the Bulldogs' overtime win against Tennessee due an ankle injury suffered the week before against LSU. Mark Richt told reporters that the star running back will likely sit for a second straight week with the ankle injury. Reports indicated that Gurley is just 50/50 at this point in time. This is the latest in a rash of injuries that has plagued Mark Richt's squad. Earlier this week it was announced that RB Keith Marshall and WR Justin Scott-Wesley would miss the remainder of the season with ACL injuries. Georgia will turn to 5-9, 183 pound true freshman RB J.J. Green.

Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/texas-will-wear-special-nike-uniforms-red-river-rivalry

The 2013 Nike Pro Combat Red River Rivalry uniforms feature gold and chrome accents in reference to the Golden Hat trophy, a golden replica of a 10-gallon cowboy hat that has been kept in possession by the winning school's athletics department since 1929. The Texas jerseys feature a gold Red River Rivalry patch and will a gold outline around the numbers. The inside of the neckline features "Longhorns" and a custom tag reads "Texas Longhorns Red River Rivalry".

The Longhorns will wear a special gold edition of the Nike Vapor Jet II gloves. Texas' glove features a white team logo over the gold palm and embroidered "Longhorns" on the inside.

Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: Kevin Harvick, NASCAR
Path: /nascar/nascar-numbers-game-6-amazing-stats-charlotte-motor-speedway

Have yourself a day, Kevin Harvick.

The lame-duck, beer-and-sandwich-stealing vulture turned NASCAR’s Chase on its head when he tamed the unpredictable Kansas Speedway last weekend, something you were warned about, by leading over half of the race as his competition spent the weekend executing more triple axels than you’d see at a figure-skating event.

This weekend, he heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway as the track’s most recent winner. He ranks seventh in Charlotte PEER — a measure of a driver’s production in equal equipment — and is a two-time victor in the CoT/Gen-6 era, but has never won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the 1.5-mile facility outside the month of May. He’s not an outright favorite, but he’s favorite-ish. If he can enact his plodding ways in a more expedited process — Saturday night’s race is 100 miles shorter than the mammoth Coca-Cola 600 — he could be reckoned with in a late-race scenario.

5.2  The difference in Harvick’s clean average finish — his average result of races in which he did not suffer a race-altering accident or mechanical failure — in the CoT/Gen-6 era between May’s Coke 600 and October’s Bank of America 500 is 5.2.

His seventh-place clean average finish in the 600 is stout; his 12.2-place average in the 500 isn’t quite impeccable, but in five-race snapshots, Harvick is five positions worse in the fall. Does this mean fans of the 29 team should panic? Not necessarily, but it might mean that Harvick’s keen passing ability is a slow-burn process. With 100 extra miles, it makes sense that a good passer like him will obtain more spots.

53.7%  With a 53.7 percent mark, Harvick is the most efficient passer in the Sprint Cup Series.

The next-best passer is Kasey Kahne (52.63 percent), leaving Harvick in a percentile by himself. He’s a tremendously efficient passer and one fun to watch navigate through traffic, but with 100 less miles to pull off his game plan, he’ll have to speed up the position-earning. A fast car could aid in that effort. So could restarts, as was the case in this year’s 600.

90% and +11  Harvick retained his position 90 percent of the time on double-file restarts in the spring race at Charlotte, and used them to gain a total of 11 positions.  Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne

He cemented the win when he turned Kahne, a relatively poor restarter, to a disheveled mess on the race’s final restart, passing for the lead out of the non-preferred, low groove. Double-file restarts were created to artificially inflate the sport’s passing numbers, but for a driver like Harvick who is both an elite passer and a superb restarter, the statistically imbalanced concept fits firmly in his wheelhouse. He could take advantage on Saturday night, and likely will have to go through Kahne once again.

5.273  Kahne, with a PEER of 5.273, was the most productive driver in Charlotte races dating back to 2008.

Kahne, who has won a total of four points-paying races at Charlotte and finished eighth or better in each of the last four events, is the most reliable frontrunner at the track since Jimmie Johnson was neutralized following the most recent repave. Like Harvick, Kahne is a good passer (mentioned above). Also like Harvick, he’s been more victorious in the 600 (three wins) than the 500 (one win, 2006). In desperation mode four races into the Chase, there might not be a better place for Kahne and the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team to swing for the fences.

787  Kyle Busch has led a series-high 787 laps across the last 11 races at Charlotte, but has failed to win a Cup Series race there.  Kyle Busch

Amazing, right? He ranks second in Charlotte PEER, thanks mostly to seven top-5 finishes in the aforementioned span. With two DNFs omitted— a crash in the 2011 spring race and a blown motor earlier this year — he averaged a fourth-place finish in the nine remaining races. Why hasn’t he sealed the deal? The two Charlotte races are both heavy in length, 600 and 500 miles, and only six of Busch’s 28 Cup Series victories have come in 500-mile races. The better explanation might have to do with dumb luck. It’s difficult for any driver to win any race, but when a television camera falls from the sky and lands on Busch’s car, like it did during this year’s 600, it sure doesn’t make life easier. Charlotte Cup races are just an odd thorn in Busch’s side. Eventually, he’ll crack the code that unlocks the gate to victory lane.

0.100  Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a replacement-level producer at Charlotte with a PEER of 0.100, which ties him with Dave Blaney for 39th out of 50 drivers with three or more starts there since 2007.

Earnhardt claimed Charlotte victory in his first All-Star Race attempt in 2000, and that turned out to be his best day at the track. The presence of Steve Letarte has been a boost to his results-padding ways — he finished seventh in the 2011 600 and sixth in 2012’s fall race — but outside of two finishes, he scored results of 19th or worse in seven of his last nine races there. He isn’t a lost cause, though. His 39th-place effort this spring was the effect of being a blown-motor casualty, a rare hiccup from a Hendrick powerplant. With a smart setup and a capable motor, he could finish comfortably in the top 20. Still, those looking to place race-win bets on the most popular driver in the sport this weekend would be better suited to take their money elsewhere.

For PEER and other metrics with which you may be unfamiliar, check out David’s glossary of terms on

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

Photos by Action Sports, Inc.

Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: Baylor Bears, College Football
Path: /college-football/inside-numbers-baylor-offense-record-setting-pace

Kansas State’s Bill Snyder isn’t the first coach to be quick with a joke. Maybe that’s why when he says the key to beating Baylor this week is to “keep them from scoring 100 points,” he’s kind of being serious.

Baylor hasn’t hit the 80-point mark yet, but the only team that could stop Baylor from scoring 100 this year would seem to be Baylor.

The Bears are averaging 70.5 points per game this season, 11.3 more per game than Oregon, another team that knows a bit about explosive offense. Indeed, most of Baylor’s damage has come in the first three quarters. Starting quarterback Bryce Petty has attempted nine second-half passes this season. Running back Lache Seastrunk has two carries after halftime, yet he’s still second nationally in rushing yards per game.

When Snyder and his staff look at the film from Baylor’s 73-point, 864-yard throttling of West Virginia, they’ll see a versatile offense that pushes the tempo in ways that would make a handful of basketball teams blush.

“The system is well-defined and the players being in it for a time, whether starters or not, they have a feel for it,” Snyder said. “They spread you out like so many teams do. If you’re putting to many people inside, they throw it outside, if you put people outside they run it inside. The system is not complex, but they execute it very, very well.”

But Kansas State will also find a dominant team in the trenches as West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen saw last week.

“I’ve never seen a team establish the line of scrimmage like they did,” Holgorsen told reporters after the game. “We’ve been pretty proud of how we’ve been playing defense around here for the last five games, and you can’t play defense when the line of scrimmage is pushed back five yards every time they run the ball.”

Under coach Art Briles, Baylor has had a Heisman Trophy winner in Robert Griffin III, an NFL first-round receiver (Kendall Wright, 2012) and two first-round linemen (Jason Smith in 2009 and Danny Watkins in 2011).

But the Baylor offense is running an unprecedented pace through the first four games of 2013. Conventional wisdom says Baylor will cool off as the schedule gets tougher into Big 12 play and especially against top league contenders in November.

Yet Baylor won’t need to keep up this pace to break records. The Bears can cool off in conference play and still break major college football records set by Heisman winners and national championship contenders.

Here’s a look at a few:


The 2011 Houston team, led by quarterback Case Keenum and coach Kevin Sumlin, needed 14 games to get to its total yards record. Baylor could get to that mark, but the much more attainable record would be yards per game. Houston and Heisman winner Andre Ware averaged 642.9 yards per game in 1989. Baylor would need to average 574.6 yards per game in the final eight Big 12 games and the bowl to match. That’s possible as Baylor averaged 582 yards in Big 12 play last season. Baylor is more than 40 percent of the way to Oklahoma’s Big 12 record of 7,670 yards, set in 2008 by a Sooners team led by Heisman winner Sam Bradford.

Also worth watching are the numbers for a balanced offense: Only two teams (1968 Houston and 1973 Arizona State) averaged 300 yards passing and 200 yards rushing. Baylor is averaging better than 400 yards passing and 300 yards rushing.

Yards per game642.9 (1989 Houston)779.5
Total yards8,387 (2011 Houston)10,134*
Yards per play8.6 (2006 Hawaii)9.6
  *current pace


Army’s Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside, Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis, are a major part of college football lore, but Baylor is on pace top them by more than two touchdowns per game. And they’re not the only ones Baylor could catch. The 1983 Nebraska offense that averaged seven touchdowns per game was led by quarterback Turner Gill, Heisman winner Mike Rozier and No. 1 overall draft pick Irving Fryar. Baylor is ahead of that trio by nearly two TDs per game.

Again, the Big 12 record watch will focus on Oklahoma, who scored 96 offensive touchdowns in 2008 on the way to the national title game. Baylor already has 35.

Points per game56 (1944 Army)70.5
Offensive TDs per game  7.0 (’83 Nebraska, ’12 La. Tech)8.75
Most offensive TDs96 (2008 Oklahoma)114*
  *current pace


With the lopsided scores Baylor has put up, Petty is getting lifted in early in the second half. Unless Big 12 teams play well enough to keep the starting quarterback in the game, he’ll have to settle for records based on efficiency rather than sheer numbers. Petty will threaten Russell Wilson’s passing efficiency rating of 191.8 for Wisconsin in 2011. The Baylor quarterback sits at 229.6.

Backup quarterback Seth Russell hasn’t been so bad, either. Petty and Russell could match passing marks set by 1989 BYU (led by Ty Detmer), 1996 Florida (led by Danny Wuerffel) and 2011 Baylor (led by Griffin). The good news for Petty: All three quarterbacks who helped set team passing records won the Heisman trophy. Only Detmer didn’t win the Heisman in his record season (Detmer won in 1990).

Yards per pass10.9 (1989 BYU)14.2
Yards per completion17.1 (1996 Florida)19.9
Passing efficiency   191.2 (2011 Baylor)218.95


There’s not a record kept for the quickest average touchdown drive, but Baylor would have to be pretty close. The average Baylor TD drive takes 82.3 seconds, and many of these aren’t cheap, either. The Bears have started on their own 25 or deeper in their own territory on 20 of 35 touchdown drives this season. The Bears are helped by 11 plays for 50 or more yards in four games, most for any team in the country. Making the feat more impressive is that the next 11 in that category have played five or six games.

The average Baylor touchdown drive covers 65.2 yards on 5.3 plays in 1:21.3. Baylor has had more touchdown drives take less than a minute (14) than have taken more than two (six).

Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/after-1-4-start-can-north-carolina-make-bowl-2013

North Carolina entered 2013 with high expectations. The Tar Heels finished 8-4 with NCAA sanctions preventing this team from playing in a bowl game last season and was picked by some to win the Coastal Division.

However, North Carolina has been one of the biggest disappointments in the ACC so far, starting the season with a 1-4 record.

The Tar Heels lost on the road to South Carolina, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and at home to East Carolina.

Although none of those losses are particularly bad, a 1-4 start isn’t what most envisioned for this team.

Both sides of the ball share blame for North Carolina, but the schedule will get easier.

After a 1-4 Start, Will North Carolina Make a Bowl in 2013?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
The Tar Heels are off to a disappointing start, but let’s not forget this team has played three challenging road tests – South Carolina, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. With three new starters, the offensive line was a huge question mark going into the season, and so far, those concerns haven’t been answered. But all is not lost for North Carolina, as the schedule will lighten in the second half of the season. The Tar Heels have two weeks to prepare for Miami, which should allow quarterback Bryn Renner to get healthy after missing last Saturday’s game against Virginia Tech with an ankle injury. After playing the Hurricanes, coach Larry Fedora’s team has home games against Boston College, Virginia, Old Dominion and Duke, with road games against Pittsburgh and NC State. With four winnable home games, North Carolina just needs to win one out of the remaining trio, and NC State and Pittsburgh are winnable on the road. The Tar Heels may finish the regular season at 6-6, but I think Fedora gets this team to a bowl.

Mark Ross
As a North Carolina fan, it hurts me that we even have to have this discussion, but the proof is in the pudding and right now the Tar Heels have a lot of lumps to smooth out. The offense hasn't been anywhere near as explosive or productive as it was last season and the defense has been far too generous. While the loss to East Carolina two games ago was tough to watch, I think there's light at the end of the tunnel for Larry Fedora's team. Following next Thursday's game against Miami, Carolina's schedule becomes a lot more manageable. The Tar Heels have just two road games (NC State and Pitt) the rest of the way and still have a date with Old Dominion left. Boston College, Virginia and Duke have yet to win an ACC game of their own and, like North Carolina, are teams with obvious flaws. Outside of Miami, I believe that North Carolina can win its remaining home games. Bowl eligibility would then come down to beating either NC State or Pitt on the road, and the optimist in me says that the Heels find a way to get it done. In that case, a 5-2 finish to the season would be pretty impressive considering how poorly this team has looked in the early going.

Coach Fisher DeBerry, former head coach of Air Force and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
I think North Carolina will have a great chance to make a bowl game this year, even though they are only 1-4. North Carolina's head coach, Larry Fedora, was on my staff and he coaches with great passion.  They will be getting some players back from injuries, which has been a problem for them so far. Larry will have them competitive in every game left on their schedule. I would not count them out by any means. 

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
The silver lining for North Carolina at least is that after Miami on Oct. 17, the toughest portion of the schedule is over. Teams like Boston College, Virginia and Duke heaven’t played that much better than the Tar Heels, and Old Dominion is transitioning to the FBS level. Even if we’re generous and give North Carolina wins in all of those games, that still gets them to only five wins. Carolina would need to defeat Miami at home or Pittsburgh or NC State on the road. That’s not going to happen. Clearly, we underestimated how important first-round draft pick Jonathan Cooper was to the run game, not to mention Giovani Bernard. Carolina is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry this season compared to better than five yards per carry last season. Throw in a banged up Bryn Renner, and North Carolina doesn’t have enough offense to get to six wins.

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Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-coach-hot-seat-rankings-post-week-6-edition

The coaching carousel in college football continued to spin this week, as Miami (Ohio) coach Don Treadwell was fired after Saturday’s loss to Central Michigan. Mike Bath – a former Miami (Ohio) quarterback – will replace Treadwell for the rest of the season.

Treadwell is the third coach fired this season, joining USC’s Lane Kiffin and Connecticut’s Paul Pasqualoni.

Could we see more firings in the next few weeks? It’s possible.

Texas survived Iowa State’s upset bid on Thursday night, but the Longhorns now have to play Oklahoma. The Sooners have dominated the Longhorns in the last two matchups, and another blowout would be bad news for Mack Brown.

Eastern Michigan is one of the toughest jobs in the nation, but coach Ron English has struggled to improve the program. The Eagles are 1-4, with their only winning coming against FCS opponent Howard.

Other coaches moving up the hot seat watch include Kansas’ Charlie Weis, West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen and Virginia’s Mike London.

Each week, we will take a look at the hot seat/pressure on a program for all 125 coaches. Some new coaches will rank high due to poor performances but aren't in any danger of losing their job.

And another important note when reading our coach on the hot seat rankings: Outside of the top 10-15 coaches, it’s all about the pressure on a program. While some coaches – like Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz – aren’t in any danger of being fired. However, both coaches need to continue to show the program is headed in the right direction.

Ranking All 125 CFB Coaches on Hot Seat/Pressure on Program to Win in 2013

RkCoachTeam2013 RecordAnalysis
1Mack Brown3-2Huge game against OU this Saturday.
2Ron English1-4Tough job, but Eagles not making much progress.
3Dan Enos2-4Chippewas get much-needed victory in Week 6.
4Norm Chow0-5Warriors 0-5 for the first time since 1998.
5Charlie Weis2-2Jayhawks haven't won Big 12 game since 2010.
6Charley Molnar0-5Minutemen have scored only 35 points this year.
7Bo Pelini4-1Tommy Armstrong is a future star for Huskers.
8Bobby Hauck3-2Rebels could be 4-2 after this week.
9Doc Holliday3-2Herd's remaining schedule is very favorable.
10Ron Turner1-4FIU won C-USA debut at USM.
11Jim Grobe3-3Demon Deacons show signs of life on offense.
12Dana Holgorsen3-3WVU simply outmanned against Baylor.
13Skip Holtz2-4Bulldogs get first C-USA win against UTEP.
14Rich Ellerson2-4Army still has a shot to play in a bowl this year.
15Matt Rhule0-5Rough first year for Rhule continues.
16Jeff Quinn3-2Branden Oliver one of nation's most underrated RBs.
17Tim Beckman3-2Illini improved, but bowl seems unrealistic.
18Mike London2-3Got vote of confidence from AD.
19Todd Monken0-5USM could be staring at another 0-12 season.
20P.J. Fleck0-6Broncos still searching for Fleck's first win.
21Kirk Ferentz4-2Hawkeyes improved, but bowl could be out of reach.
22Carl Pelini2-4 
23June Jones1-4 
24Dan Mullen2-3Hung tough against LSU for a half.
25Sean Kugler1-4Miners off to disappointing 1-4 start.
26Garrick McGee1-4Blazers change defensive coordinators after FAU loss.
27Tony Levine4-0 
28Randy Edsall4-1 
29Rick Stockstill3-3 
30Joey Jones2-3 
31Terry Bowden1-5 
32Gary Pinkel5-0Remember when Pinkel was on the hot seat?
33Rocky Long2-3 
34Bill Blankenship1-4 
35Dan McCarney2-3 
36Dave Christensen3-2 
37George O'Leary4-1UCF survives Memphis' upset bid.
38David Bailiff3-2 
39Scott Shafer2-3Syracuse handled by Clemson in ACC opener.
40Bobby Petrino4-2 
41Tommy Tuberville3-2 
42Kevin Wilson3-2Hoosiers pickup first win over Penn State.
43Jim McElwain2-3 
44Larry Fedora1-4 
45Bob Davie2-3 
46Ron Caragher2-3 
47Kyle Flood4-1 
48Larry Blakeney3-3 
49Kyle Whittingham3-2 
50Brian Polian3-3 
51Darrell Hazell1-4 
52Troy Calhoun1-5 
53Paul Haynes2-4 
54Doug Martin0-6 
55Frank Beamer5-1Hokies back in Coastal Division contention.
56Paul Chryst3-1 
57Rod Carey5-0 
58Willie Taggart1-4Taggart's bus is starting to move again.
59Curtis Johnson4-2Green Wave quietly off to 4-2 start.
60Ruffin McNeill4-1ECU looking like the favorite in C-USA.
61Bryan Harsin2-3 
62Mike Leach4-2Cougars have surpassed 2012 win total.
63Mike Riley4-1 
64Dave Clawson5-1 
65Steve Sarkisian4-1Huskies closing the gap in Pac-12 North.
66Mark Helfrich5-0Ducks have scored 50 points in every game this year.
67Dennis Franchoine3-2 
68Matt Wells3-3Chuckie Keeton will be tough to replace.
69Paul Petrino1-5 
70Mark Dantonio4-1Maybe Connor Cook is the answer at QB?
71Brady Hoke5-0 
72Bronco Mendenhall3-2 
73Trent Miles0-5 
74Frank Solich4-1 
75Butch Jones3-3 
76Mark Richt4-1 
77Paul Johnson3-2 
78Jerry Kill4-2 
79Mark Stoops1-4 
80Dave Doeren3-2
81Dabo Swinney5-0
82Ken Niumatalolo3-1
83Jimbo Fisher5-0
84Bob Stoops5-0
85Matt Campbell3-3
86Bret Bielema3-3
87Al Golden5-0
88Justin Fuente1-3
89Brian Kelly3-2
90Gus Malzahn4-1
91Todd Berry2-4
92Steve Addazio3-2
93Sonny Dykes1-4
94Rich Rodriguez3-1
95Todd Graham3-2
96Jim Mora4-0 
97Will Muschamp5-1 
98Mike MacIntyre2-2 
99Paul Rhoads1-3 
100Larry Coker2-4 
101David Cutcliffe3-2 
102Tim DeRuyter5-0DeRuyter will be a popular name this offseason.
103Les Miles5-1 
104James Franklin3-3 
105Gary Andersen3-2 
106Mike Gundy4-1 
107Hugh Freeze4-1 
108Pete Lembo5-1 
109Mark Hudspeth3-2 
110Bill O'Brien3-2 
111Kevin Sumlin4-1 
112Gary Patterson2-3
113Bill Snyder2-3
114Kliff Kingsbury5-0
115Chris Petersen3-2
116Charlie Strong5-0
117Steve Spurrier4-1
118Art Briles4-0
119Pat Fitzgerald4-1
120David Shaw4-0
121Urban Meyer6-0
122Nick Saban5-0
NREd Orgeron0-0
NRT.J. Weist0-0
NRMike Bath0-0

Related College Football Content

ACC Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
Stats to Know from Week 6

Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Indiana Hoosiers
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-6-bowl-projections

Indiana hasn’t played in bowl since 2007, but thanks to Saturday’s win over Penn State, third-year coach Kevin Wilson should have the Hoosiers back in the postseason in 2013.

Indiana’s schedule is by no means easy in the second half of the season. However, games against Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue should allow the Hoosiers to get to the six-win mark.

Another team on the move in the bowl projections is Auburn. The Tigers knocked off Ole Miss in Week 6, improving to 4-1 in coach Gus Malzahn’s first year. Auburn still has to play Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama, but the Tigers have a chance to finish 8-4. In this week’s projections, Athlon has Auburn playing in the Gator Bowl against Michigan State. 

College football's bowl season is still a few months away, but it's never too early to take a look at what the matchups might look like. With six weeks of results in the books, it's still hard to make long-term projections about teams, especially with several teams still playing overmatched non-conference games. But with conference play right around the corner, we should be able to get a better grasp on what teams will be able to reach the six-win mark.

With little data to work with, the post-Week 6 bowl projections are a mixture between preseason projections, how things would look if the season ended today, and a small dose of the results so far this year. Expect more changes over the next few weeks, especially as we see how teams perform in conference games.

A few teams barely missed the projections this week, including Boston College, West Virginia, Mississippi State, Utah, Arkansas, Minnesota and Illinois from BCS conferences. And Texas State, Arkansas State, Buffalo and Toledo from the non-BCS ranks.

As the season progresses, it will be easier to project which teams will get to the six-win mark or finish below.

College Football's Post-Week 6 Bowl Projections for 2013

New MexicoDec. 21Pac-12 vs. MWCUSC vs. Wyoming
Famous Idaho PotatoDec. 21MAC vs. MWCBGSU vs. Nevada
Las VegasDec. 21Pac-12 vs. MWCArizona vs. Fresno State
New OrleansDec. 21Sun Belt vs. CUSAUL Lafayette vs. Tulane
Beef 'O' Brady'sDec. 23American vs. CUSAOhio* vs. Tulsa
HawaiiDec. 24MWC vs. CUSASJSU vs. MTSU
Little Caesars PizzaDec. 26MAC vs. Big TenNo. Illinois vs. Indiana
PoinsettiaDec. 26Army vs. MWCNotre Dame* vs. Boise State
MilitaryDec. 27CUSA vs. ACCMarshall vs. N. Carolina
TexasDec. 27Big 12 vs. Big TenTCU vs. Iowa
Kraft Fight HungerDec. 27BYU vs. Pac-12BYU vs. Oregon State
PinstripeDec. 28American vs. Big 12Cincinnati vs. K-State
BelkDec. 28American vs. ACCRutgers vs. NC State
Russell AthleticDec. 28American vs. ACCUCF vs. Virginia Tech
Buffalo Wild WingsDec. 28Big 12 vs. Big TenTexas vs. Nebraska
Armed ForcesDec. 30MWC vs. NavyUtah State vs. Navy
Music CityDec. 30ACC vs. SECPittsburgh vs. Missouri
AlamoDec. 30Big 12 vs. Pac-12Okla. State vs. UCLA
HolidayDec. 30Pac-12 vs. Big 12Washington vs. Texas Tech
AdvoCare V100Dec. 31ACC vs. SECGa. Tech vs. Tennessee
SunDec. 31Pac-12 vs. ACCArizona State vs. Maryland
LibertyDec. 31SEC vs. CUSAOle Miss vs. East Carolina
Chick-fil-ADec. 31SEC vs. ACCMiami vs. So. Carolina
GatorJan. 1SEC vs. Big TenAuburn vs. Mich. State
Heart of DallasJan. 1Big Ten vs. CUSARice vs. Wash. State*
OutbackJan. 1SEC vs. Big TenN'Western vs. Florida
Capital OneJan. 1SEC vs. Big TenWisconsin vs. Texas A&M
RoseJan. 1BCS vs. BCSOregon vs. Michigan
FiestaJan. 1BCS vs. BCSStanford vs. Oklahoma
SugarJan. 2BCS vs. BCSGeorgia vs. Florida State
CottonJan. 3SEC vs. Big 12LSU vs. Baylor
OrangeJan. 3BCS vs. BCSClemson vs. Louisville
BBVA CompassJan. 4SEC vs. AmericanVanderbilt vs. Houston
GoDaddyJan. 5MAC vs. Sun BeltBall State vs. WKU
National TitleJan. 6BCS vs. BCSAlabama vs. Ohio State

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ACC Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
Stats to Know from Week 6

Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/amazing-pac-12-college-football-stats-week-6

True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether it's a quarterback's completion percentage or a team's winning record on the road. We, however, love stats. With that in mind, we scoured the Pac-12 to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in week 6.

4,011: Mannion, Halliday’s 4,011 passing yards meet Saturday in Pullman

Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion, the nation’s leading passer at 2,018 yards, travels to take on the nation’s third-best passer in Washington State’s Connor Halliday (1,993) Saturday night. The two have combined to complete 66.1 percent of their passes (349-of-528) for 34 touchdowns. Halliday is coming off the nation’s best yardage performance of the season — 521 yards (on 41-of-67 passing) last week against Cal. He and Bears QB Jared Goff combined for a Pac-12 record 1,010 passing yards. And it might not just be a free-for-all Saturday as the Cougars and Beavers are tops in the Pac-12 in collecting interceptions — Washington State has nine, Oregon State eight.

3 for 300: Kelly, Mannion two of three FBS QBs to throw for 300-plus in every start this season
Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly and Oregon State’s Sean Mannion make up two of the three FBS quarterbacks to throw for over 300 yards in each of their starts this season. The Pac-12 duo has done so in the first five games. Ball State’s Keith Wenning is the other, having done so over the first six games. And there is no reason to think either Pac-12 QB won’t make it 6-for-6 to start the season. Kelly and the Sun Devils’ ninth-ranked passing offense (359.4 YPG) plays host to Colorado and its 121st-ranked pass defense (326.8 YPG). Mannion’s second-ranked passing offense (420.6 YPG) might have a bit tougher task against Washington State’s 54th-ranked passing defense (219.3 YPG), but the Cougars did just surrender 504 yards to Cal QB Jared Goff.

6 for 0: Washington’s six turnovers have not cost the Huskies
Washington has only coughed the ball up six times this season, but none of them have been converted into scores. Meanwhile, the Husky defense has turned six of the eight turnovers they have forced into points. UW will need to be productive with whatever it can get this week when Oregon comes to Seattle. The Ducks are third in the nation in turnover margin (1.6) — 13 gained to five lost — to go along with the nation’s best scoring offense (59.2 PPG) and second-best scoring defense (11.8 PPG).

0: Stanford has not allowed a first-quarter touchdown this season
Stanford travels to Salt Lake City for just the third-time in program history (1902 and 1995) looking for its third win there and looking to keep alive its streak of not allowing a first-quarter touchdown this season. The Cardinal has surrendered 12 points in the opening 15 minutes off of four field goals. Utah has outscored its opponents 45-20 in the first quarter this season. The two teams rank right next to each other in PPG in the nation at 24th and 25th with the Cardinal scoring 39.2 and the Utes 39.0. Utah did score a first-quarter TD in the last meeting in Salt Lake City in 1995.

9: Arizona, USC on opposite end of turnovers at nine gained, nine lost
When Arizona and USC meet in Los Angeles Thursday it will be two teams that are far apart in the turnover department. The Wildcats have gained nine turnovers and are plus-5 in turnover margin; the Trojans have lost nine turnovers and are minus-2 in turnover margin. Arizona has won 16 straight games when it wins the turnover battle. Its last loss when winning such a battle was against USC in 2008.

5: USC is facing Arizona, Arizona State in back-to-back games for the fifth time
When the Trojans take on the Wildcats Saturday it will be the fifth time USC has played Arizona and Arizona State in consecutive games. It also occurred in 1980, 2005, 2010 and 2011. The Trojans won the first six meetings before falling at ASU in 2011 (43-22). They came back to defeat Arizona 48-41 in Los Angeles the following week. Arizona arrives in LA to meet a USC squad, which is once again coming off a road loss at Arizona State (62-41).

65-0: UCLA at its best in the third quarter, outscoring opponents 65-0
The Bruins are 4-0 for the first time since 2005 thanks in part to the third quarter. UCLA has outscored its opponents 65-0 in the third — serving as its most productive offensive quarter and obviously its most stout defensive quarter. This week, the Bruins welcome a Cal team that has had most of its scoring output in the third quarter (45), but has also given up 66 points in the 15-minute frame.

202: Oregon’s Mariota sets new mark for consecutive passes without an interception
Marcus Mariota pushed his streak to 202 straight pass attempts without an interception with his 27 throws in the 57-16 win over Colorado. The 202 breaks the old mark of 178 set by Kellen Clemens in 2004. Mariota has now thrown for at least one touchdown in all 18 career games he has played. Mariota also accounted for a school-record 42 points in the Colorado victory, with five TD throws and two rushing scores.

24: Utah’s 24-year-old, redshirt freshman kicker is perfect
Andy Phillips, a former member of the U.S. Ski Team, is a perfect 9-for-9 on field goals and 24-of-24 on PATs for the Utes through five games. The 24-year-old, who had never played football at any level and only played soccer as a high school freshman, is tied for first in the nation in field goal percentage, and his nine field goals is the most of any kicker in the nation without miss.

755: The 755 yards Colorado allowed to Oregon last week is not a school record — by 120 yards
When the No. 2 Ducks hung 57 points and 755 yards of total offense on host Colorado last week it was not a school record for either team — gained or allowed. The yardage was 17 off of Oregon’s school-record 772 it set in this year’s season opener against Nicholls State. You have to go a little farther back to find yardage like that against the Buffs. The 755 are the most allowed since Oklahoma racked up 875 yards (758 on the ground) in an 82-42 victory on Oct. 4, 1980.

Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /nfl/fantasy-football-2013-waiver-wire-week-6

Denver and Dallas engaged in a shootout on Sunday, but outside of the quarterbacks, the top fantasy producer in that game was a rookie wide receiver. This is just another example of why you never know who will emerge from the shadows in a given week. What other under-the-radar options are out there entering Week 6? Athlon Sports has got the waiver wire covered.

The players listed in Athlon’s weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding onto all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may want to keep an eye on. So without further ado, here are some players worth grabbing.

Teams on bye in Week 6: Atlanta, Miami

Week 5 Recap: Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t win, but he was decent in his first start for Tennessee in place of an injured Jake Locker. Fitzpatrick finished with 297 total yards and two touchdowns (1 pass, 1 rush) against a pretty good Kansas City defense, although he did throw two interceptions. Remember, Locker is expected to miss more than a month, so Fitzpatrick will remain the starter and could be a bye-week fill-in, depending on the matchup. Brian Hoyer tore his ACL in Cleveland’s Thursday night win over Buffalo and is out for the season.

Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Michael Vick injured his hamstring in the second quarter of Sunday’s win over the Giants, which presented Foles with his first meaningful opportunity of running Chip Kelly’s offense. Foles led the Eagles on four scoring drives, throwing two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and he finished with 197 yards through the air. Kelly said Vick is the starter as long as he’s healthy, but I also don’t think he would hesitate to hand the reins over to Foles if need be. If you have Vick on your roster, now would be a good time to add Foles too. After all, Vick has played all 16 games in a season just once in his career.

Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars
Blaine Gabbert got hurt, again, but it’s not like he did much (181-1-2, INT returned for TD) when he was there against St. Louis. Enter Henne, who completed 7-of-13 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown in the loss to the Rams. It’s not known how bad Gabbert’s hamstring injury is, but I would be a little surprised if Henne didn’t get the start this week against Denver. Yes, the Broncos should roll over the Jaguars with little difficulty, but don’t forget that Tony Romo just hung 506 yards and five TDs on Denver’s defense. If Henne does start, he should get plenty of chances to throw, and the Jags have some weapons on the outside in Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon (see below).

Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns
Brian Hoyer’s surprising run as the Browns’ quarterback came to a sad end as he tore his ACL Thursday night against Buffalo. Hoyer is done for this season, meaning the team will go back to Weeden, at least for the time being. Weeden took over after Hoyer got hurt in the first quarter and actually led the Browns back from a 10-0 deficit to a 37-24 win. Weeden completed 13-of-24 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown, and didn’t turn the ball over once. One of the reasons Hoyer was successful, was that he had a habit of getting the ball to wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron. Weeden has those same weapons at his disposal, so it’s possible that he could produce similar numbers. If that happens, Weeden could enter the bye-week fill-in conversation.

Running Backs
Week 5 Recap: Ryan Mathews left Sunday night’s game against Oakland with a concussion, leaving Danny Woodhead as the Chargers’ primary back. Woodhead finished with just 13 rushing yards, but led the team with nine receptions, which went for 58 yards and a touchdown. In that same game, the Raiders’ Rashad Jennings picked up 41 yards rushing before halftime, but didn’t return for the last two quarters after injuring his hamstring. LeGarrette Blount carried the load for New England with Stevan Ridley out because of a thigh/knee injury, but he managed just 51 yards on 12 carries (4.3 ypc) in the Patriots’ loss to Cincinnati.

Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts
Trent Richardson continues to get the bulk of the carries, but he is averaging just three yards per carry for his new team. With Ahmad Bradshaw weighing his options regarding his neck injury, Brown should see most of the work as Richardson’s backup moving forward. If Brown can continue to do what he did on Sunday against Seattle (6.2 ypc, rushing TD), he could begin to force the coaching staff to cut back on Richardson’s workload.

Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
Rashard Mendenhall is the Cardinals’ leading rusher, but Ellington is making a strong case for turning the backfield into more of a timeshare. The rookie is averaging 6.7 yards per carry and also has been effective as a receiver (13 rec., 144 yds., TD). He led the Cardinals with 83 total yards in Sunday’s win, while Mendenhall is currently averaging 3.2 yards per carry. The offensive line can be blamed some for Mendenhall’s lack of production, but that’s another reason to give Ellington more opportunities, as he is faster and more explosive than the veteran back. With just a few more touches per game, Ellington could merit flex consideration, especially in deeper leagues.

Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams
The Rams’ offensive line is somewhat of a mess right now, which has carried over to the backfield. Daryl Richardson has been ineffective (2.9 ypc) and Isaiah Pead has been pretty much invisible this season. What the Rams’ plan is with their running backs is anyone’s guess, but it looks like Stacy will get his chance to state his case. The rookie rushed for 78 yards, a team-high this season, on just 14 carries (5.6 ypc) in the win over Jacksonville. It’s very hard to trust any Rams in fantasy right now, but if Stacy is getting the bulk of the carries, he’s one to keep on the radar.

Wide Receivers
Week 5 Recap: All Alshon Jeffery did was follow up his breakthrough 107-yard game last week with a Bears franchise-record 218 yards on 10 receptions and another touchdown on Sunday against New Orleans. Robert Woods led the Bills with 64 receiving yards, but he will have a new quarterback (Thad Lewis) throwing to him this week as EJ Manuel injured his knee in the loss to Cleveland. Nate Washington tied for the team lead with eight targets against Kansas City, but hauled in just three of them for 30 yards. Kenbrell Thompkins finished with just three receptions on 16 yards, as the return of Danny Amendola (team-high nine targets) and the Cincinnati defense negated his impact.

Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
Malcom Floyd is on injured reserve and Eddie Royal has cooled off considerably from his hot start, so Rivers has turned his sights to Allen. In the past two games, the Chargers’ third-round pick has caught 11 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown. Allen produced his first 100-yard game of his career against Oakland (6-115-1) on Sunday night and his 225 yards on the season are second only to Antonio Gates. Rivers has plenty of options in the passing game, but he and Allen have been successful on 14 of 19 targets (74 percent), so don’t be surprised if the rookie continues to see a steady amount of passes thrown his way.

Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars
Talk about making an instant impact. Fresh off of his four-game suspension, Blackmon’s first catch of the season was a 67-yard touchdown in the first quarter against St. Louis. He finished with five catches for 136 yards and teamed with Cecil Shorts, Blackmon gives the Jaguars two legitimate weapons on the outside. Quarterback play has been an issue for the Jaguars for a while, but Blaine Gabbert threw the TD to Blackmon on Sunday and Blackmon also had some success last season when Chad Henne was under center. The bottom line is that Blackmon’s talent and upside is obvious and with him back on the field, it’s only a matter of time before he is no longer available in your league.

Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders
Moore is the Raiders’ clear-cut No. 1 target, has three touchdown receptions and is a borderline top-25 fantasy wide receiver after five games. Other than a no-show Week 2 performance, Moore has caught at least four passes in every game and he has scored in three contests. Terrelle Pryor is entrenched as Oakland’s starting quarterback and he’s starting to show a little more consistency as a passer. Moore may not be WR1 material, but he is capable of producing double-digit fantasy points most weeks.

Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys
Miles Austin missed his second straight game because of a hamstring injury, but the Cowboys may have found their new complement to Dez Bryant. Williams exploded against Denver on Sunday, picking up 151 yards on just four receptions, the biggest being an 82-yard touchdown. Dallas’ third-round pick has 11 catches for 222 yards in his last two games and appears to have carved out a role for himself even after Austin is able to return. Granted, Tony Romo is not going to throw for 500 yards every game, but as Williams showed against the Broncos, he just needs one pass to make a fantasy impact.

Tight Ends
Week 5 Recap: Coby Fleener caught just two passes for 15 yards against Seattle, as Andrew Luck focused his attention on his wide receivers.

Sean McGrath, Kansas City
McGrath is about as unknown as it gets. After playing collegiately at both Eastern Illinois and Henderson State, McGrath signed as a undrafted free agent with Seattle in 2012. He worked his way from the practice squad to the active roster, but never saw any game action with the Seahakws. The Chiefs claimed him off waivers in September and all he’s done is emerge as the team’s top tight end. McGrath is fourth on the team with 15 catches and has seen his targets go up in each of the past three games. Alex Smith has already shown he’s not going to take many shots down field (sorry, Dwayne Bowe owners), which is why McGrath could develop into a possible fantasy option, especially in deeper leagues.

Defense/Special Teams
Week 5 Recap: Carolina lost to Arizona, but don’t blame the defense. The Panthers held the Cardinals to 20 points, picked off Carson Palmer three times and sacked him twice. Carolina’s next two games are against St. Louis (home) and Tampa Bay (away).

Indianapolis Colts
After limiting San Francisco to just one touchdown on the road in Week 3, the Colts’ DST manhandled the Jaguars and then made just enough plays (namely a blocked FG returned for a TD) to beat the Seahawks at home on Sunday. After five games, Indy is the No. 4 scoring DST and next up is a San Diego team that has six turnovers in its last two games and has given up a defensive score in each. Perhaps the horseshoe on the Colts’ helmets can bring you luck, and I don’t mean Andrew, this week?

Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point PER 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.

Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /nfl/9-amazing-stats-nfls-week-5

Everyone needs to take a deep breath after the fifth weekend of NFL action. Denver and Dallas posted one of the highest scoring games in NFL history. A couple of embattled quarterbacks tossed critical interceptions. An ageless wonder continued to amaze — even if no one saw it. A historic record came to an end. And the Lions' ineptitude in The Badger State knows no bounds.

With that in mind, here are the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the NFL through Week 5:

8-7: Quarterbacks' record when throwing for 500 yards
Tony Romo threw for a Cowboys franchise-record 506 yards and five touchdowns in the painful loss to the Broncos. He was the 15th player to ever top the 500-yard mark in NFL history and, strangely, was the seventh player to lose at the same time. He is only the fifth player in NFL history to throw for 500 yards and five touchdowns in the same game. Unfortunately, Romo threw another back-breaking interception late in the game, giving Peyton Manning and the Broncos a win in the fourth-highest scoring contest in NFL history. Here are the most yards passing in a loss in NFL history:

1.Dan MarinoMiami5211988NY Jets
2.Matthew StaffordDetroit5202012Green Bay
3.Phil SimmsNY Giants5131985Cincinnati
4.Drew BreesNew Orleans5102006Cincinnati
5.Vince FerragamoLA Rams5091982Chicago
6.Tony RomoDallas5062013Denver
7.Elvis GrbacKansas City5042000Oakland

90%: Teams that start 5-0 who make the playoffs
Since the expansion of the NFL playoffs in 1990 to the current 12-team format, 40 teams have started the season 5-0. Only four failed to wind up with a postseason berth, meaning 90 percent of those 5-0 teams played beyond the regular season. Denver, Kansas City and New Orleans are the lone unbeatens left in the league at 5-0.

1,341 and 933: Eagles' passing and rushing yards
One of the top headlines this summer heading into the season was Chip Kelly’s prolific college offense coming to the NFL. Despite the Eagles' struggles to win games through five weekends, the offense has done something no other NFL team has ever done. Kelly’s team became the first in history to throw for at least 1,300 yards and rush for at least 900 yards in the first five games of the year. Philadelphia is scoring 27.0 points per game, good for eighth in the league. The problem for the 2-3 Eagles, however, is they rank next to last in total defense (434.0 ypg) and 30th in scoring defense (31.8 ppg).

4: Matt Schaub's NFL record for consecutive games with a pick-6
Just 1:30 into the game against the 49ers, Houston’s Schaub set an NFL record by throwing an interception that was returned for a TD in a fourth consecutive game. Schaub threw three total interceptions in the beatdown against San Francisco, moving the Texans two games back of the Colts in the AFC South. His nine interceptions trail only Eli Manning’s 12 in the NFL this fall. The Texans are 3-6 over their last nine regular season games.

52: Tom Brady’s consecutive games with a TD
Drew Brees’ record is safe. Last Oct. 7, the Saints quarterback broke a 50-year-old record set by Johnny Unitas (47 games) by throwing a touchdown pass in 54 straight games. Brady was scheduled to tie Brees’ record this Sunday against, you guessed it, the Saints. However, the Bengals spoiled the party by holding Brady to 18-of-38 passing for 197 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. The next longest active streak is Peyton Manning’s 28 straight games with a touchdown pass, which is tied for sixth all-time.

28: NFL-record point spread between Denver and Jacksonville
Depending on where you look for point spreads, the Denver Broncos will be favored by roughly four touchdowns. According to RJ Bell, it is the largest point spread in NFL history. To date, the largest NFL point spread was the Steelers' 26-point spread over Tampa Bay on Dec. 5, 1976 — the year the Buccaneers went 0-14.

2:39 a.m.: Time (ET) the Chargers-Raiders game ended
The Raiders won their second game of the season on Sunday night/Monday morning in a nip-and-tuck victory over the Chargers. Terrelle Pryor led his team to a divisional win by completing 18-of-23 passes for 221 yards and two scores without an interception. The game ended when Philip Rivers, who threw for 411 yards, tossed a critical interception in the end zone trailing by seven points with less than a minute to play. It was an entertaining game, however, did anyone see it? The game kicked-off a 11:35 p.m. ET because of a scheduling conflict with the Oakland A's who are in the MLB playoffs and ended at 2:39 a.m. ET.

13: Charles Woodson's NFL record for defensive touchdowns
With a few minutes left in the third quarter — say, around 2 a.m. ET — Woodson scooped up a Danny Woodhead fumble and returned it 25 yards for his 13th career defensive touchdown (11 INT, 2 FR). He tied his namesake Rod Woodson (12 INT, 1 FR) and Darren Sharper (11 INT, 2 FR) for the all-time NFL record. In the win over San Diego, the 37-year-old posted four total tackles, a fumble recovery and yet another clutch interception. It was his 56th career pick, tying him with Lem Barney and Pat Fischer for 17th all-time. Aeneas Williams and Ronde Barber have 12 defensive touchdowns and DeAngelo Hall has 11.

22: Lions' consecutive losses in the state of Wisconsin
The Lions were without Calvin Johnson but two Megatrons might not have been enough to end Detroit’s road woes against the Packers. Green Bay played its best defensive game of the year, giving up just 286 yards to Matthew Stafford and company, and welcomed rookie Eddie Lacy back to the backfield (23 att., 99 yards). The Packers won their 22nd straight “home” game over their division rival. It is the longest road losing streak by any team against another in NFL history. The Lions last beat the Packers in Wisconsin on Dec. 15, 1991.

Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-pittsburgh-preview

This preview and more on Pittsburgh and the ACC are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

Pittsburgh Facts & Figures
Last season: 24-9 (12-6 Big East)
Postseason: NCAA Round of 64
Coach: Jamie Dixon (262-86 at Pittsburgh)
ACC projection: Seventh
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 64

Hard to figure out what the letters A-C-C stand for around Pittsburgh these days. Is it Atlantic Coast Conference — the Panthers’ new league? Or Abrupt Continuous Changes — the Panthers’ offseason plight?

Pittsburgh transitions from the Big East to the ACC with more moving parts than a Quentin Tarantino flick. Coach Jamie Dixon lost two players to graduation, two to transfers (two others departed last season) and one to the NBA. Add a firing and hiring on the coaching staff and you have a team that will face challenges in trying to improve on a 24–9 record that included a one-and-done experience in the NCAA Tournament.

The biggest void is the somewhat surprising loss of richly talented 7-foot center Steven Adams, a blossoming star who bolted to the NBA after his freshman year.

Dixon, who’s never met a challenge he doesn’t like, must rely on a coaching resume that’s enabled him to get to nine NCAA Tournaments in 10 years, in addition to posting the best all-time winning percentage (.669) in Big East games.


For the second consecutive season, Pittsburgh will look for immediate help from a freshman in the interior. Highly regarded Mike Young will fill that role at power forward. A strong and relentless force with a nice scoring touch, Young must help offset the loss of Adams. His ability to step outside and score could add needed offensive punch.

Young will benefit by playing alongside experienced senior starters in forward Lamar Patterson and center Talib Zanna, the team’s top returning scorers. Patterson is the most versatile of the Panthers with his ability to play inside or on the perimeter at shooting guard. He fits the mold of the prototypical Pittsburgh player — tenacious on defense and on the boards with offensive versatility. Zanna, who moves to center from forward, must develop consistency to complement his impressive athleticism. He had great moments last season, but too often faded in the background.

A trio of intriguing newcomers will push for playing time immediately, including versatile 6-7 freshman Jamel Artis, 6-10 junior college transfer Joseph Uchebo and 6-9 Rutgers transfer Derrick Randall. Uchebo could be a factor at center as the season progresses.


Make no mistake, Pittsburgh is point guard James Robinson’s team. Only a sophomore, he spent much of last season deferring to graduate Tray Woodall, yet still led the Big East in assist-to-turnover ratio. Robinson is smooth, self-assured and cerebral. His ability to set the tempo will be a necessity as Dixon plans to employ more of a run-and-gun style to tap into an athletic roster.

Robinson’s backcourt mate will be drawn from a committee of players, including junior Cameron Wright and sophomore Durand Johnson. Freshmen Chris Jones, Josh Newkirk and Detrick Mostella could also be in the mix. Johnson is the most intriguing of the bunch after leading Pittsburgh in 3-point shooting last season at 38 percent. He periodically provided a spark off the bench and showed unlimited range. The uber-quick Wright lacks Johnson’s scoring touch, but provides shut-down defense and relentless rebounding skills. Mostella, a late commitment who chose Pittsburgh over Georgetown, Miami (Fla.) and Oklahoma State, provides explosiveness (he’s a slam-dunk champ) with 3-point range. He could turn out to be a major recruiting.


The Pittsburgh roster will be dotted with seven new players, including redshirt freshman Chris Jones. Forward Michael Young should make the greatest impact as he moves into a starter’s role at power forward. Transfer Joseph Uchebo will provide needed size to the interior, while late commit Detrick Mostella, a natural scorer who originally planned to attend Oklahoma State, could take over at shooting guard. Mostella very well could end up being the gem of this voluminous incoming class.

Final Analysis

Factoid: Pittsburgh is one of only seven schools to advance to the NCAA Tournament in 11 of the past 12 seasons. The others are Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Michigan State, Texas and Wisconsin.
On paper, Pittsburgh appears to be no better than a middle-of-the-pack ACC team. Good thing Dixon puts little stock in such things. Despite rarely having all-world talent, the veteran coach annually has the Panthers competing for conference titles and high seeds in the NCAA Tournament, including top seeds in 2009 and ‘11.

This team, one Dixon likes a great deal, could follow suit. His formula for success is simple: Intense defense, aggressive rebounding and winning by attrition. Fresh off of signing a 10-year contract extension, Dixon will add a new wrinkle with the up-tempo style. This will appease a segment of Pittsburgh fans who believe Dixon’s perceived conservative approach inhibits players from flourishing offensively and fails to lure high-end recruits. His teams haven’t made it past the NCAA’s opening weekend since 2009.

Don’t expect this Pittsburgh squad to make a run to the Final Four, but a competitive season in the ACC and a 12th NCAA tourney berth in 13 years is realistic.

College Basketball: 2013-14 Pittsburgh Preview
Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 07:57
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-acc-preview

The ACC hasn’t been able to brag No. 1 conference status for a while. Last season it was the Big Ten. Before that, the Big East had its run.

Perhaps expansion diluted the ACC product a bit in past years. Until last season, Miami didn’t offer much. Boston College’s best days were largely in the Big East. And Virginia Tech can only dream of the days it was the first team in the NIT.

Finally, expansion will boost the ACC’s basketball product. Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame join the league this season all after reaching the NCAA Tournament last season. The Orange reached the Final Four. If not this season, the ACC will be the top basketball league in 2014-15 when Louisville replaces Maryland.

For this season, though, the ACC will have plenty of intriguing storylines, not least of which Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams and Jim Boeheim battling for the league crown. Duke is the favorite with freshman Jabari Parker and Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood joining a stout returning cast in Durham.

ACC Predicted Order of Finish

G Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
G Joe Harris, Virginia
G Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke
F C.J. Fair, Syracuse
F James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina

G Eric Atkins, Notre Dame
F Rodney Hood, Duke
F Jabari Parker, Duke
F T.J. Warren, NC State
F Okaro White, Florida State

G Olivier Hanlan, Boston College
G/F Dez Wells, Maryland
F Ryan Anderson, Boston College  
F Travis McKie, Wake Forest
F Akil Mitchell, Virginia

1. DUKE (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Final Four

Even with loss of his top three scorers, Coach K has enough firepower for another big year.

2. NORTH CAROLINA (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Sweet 16
Off-the-court issues create plenty of uncertainty, but the talent for another deep NCAA Tournament run is in place.

3. SYRACUSE (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Sweet 16
Forward C.J. Fair has star potential, but the loss of three double-digit scorers creates big voids, especially in the backcourt.

4. NOTRE DAME (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 32
Assist machines Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins give the Irish the best backcourt in the ACC.

5. VIRGINIA (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 32

Seniors Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell may be the best inside-outside duo in the conference.

6. FLORIDA STATE (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 64
Giving several young players playing time last year will now pay off and help offset losing clutch shooter Michael Snaer.

7. PITTSBURGH (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 64
With the return of three starters, Jamie Dixon has the nucleus needed to generate yet another NCAA run.

Postseason projection:
Losing lottery pick Alex Len won't stop the Terps from being a factor in their last year in the ACC.

Postseason projection:
The Hurricanes must replace their top six scorers and nearly 90 percent of their offense.

Postseason projection:
Every starter returns, and no team in the conference has a better group of outside shooters.

Postseason projection:
Landing a postseason bid is a realistic goal in Year 3 of the Brian Gregory era.

Postseason projection:
Promising sophomore T.J. Warren returns, but that's where the good news ends.

Despite an 11–39 record in league play over the last three seasons, the Deacs brought coach Jeff Bzdelik back.

14. CLEMSON (bonus team preview)
The Tigers desperately need a good start after losing 10 of their last 11 games in 2012-13.

With Erick Green (and his 25 points per game) gone, just staying competitive will be a struggle.

All ACC team previews are available in full in the 2013-14 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual, available online or on newsstands.


Player of the Year: Joe Harris, Virginia
Harris topped our list of the nation’s top shooters after averaging 16.3 points per game and shooting 46.9 percent from the field.

Best Defensive Player: Daniel Miller, Georgia Tech
Interior defender needs to polish his offensive game, but the senior has averaged better than two blocks per game for his entire career.

Most Underrated Player: Dez Wells, Maryland
Xavier transfer made good on his move to a new league by averaging 13.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and three assists. The do-everything player hope to lead the Terps to the Tourney.

Newcomer of the Year: Jabari Parker, Duke (full list of the ACC’s key new faces)
The key word for Parker is versatility with his ability to score and defend all over the floor. He and Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood will be matchup nightmares.

Top coach: Mike Krzyzewski, Duke (full ACC coach rankings)

Coach on the hot seat: Jeff Bzdelik, Wake Forest (full hot seat list)


The ACC hasn’t been able to brag No. 1 conference status for a while. Last season it was the Big Ten. Before that, the Big East had its run.

Perhaps expansion diluted the ACC product a bit in past years. Until last season, Miami didn’t offer much. Boston College’s best days were largely in the Big East. And Virginia Tech can only dream of the days it was the first team in the NIT.

Finally, expansion will boost the ACC’s basketball product. Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame join the league this season all after reaching the NCAA Tournament last season. The Orange reached the Final Four. If not this season, the ACC will be the top basketball league in 2014-15 when Louisville replaces Maryland.

For this season, though, the ACC will have plenty of intriguing storylines, not least of which Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams and Jim Boeheim battling for the league crown. Duke is the favorite with freshman Jabari Parker and Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood joining a stout returning cast in Durham.

ACC Predicted Order of Finish - See more at:
The ACC hasn’t been able to brag No. 1 conference status for a while. Last season it was the Big Ten. Before that, the Big East had its run.

Perhaps expansion diluted the ACC product a bit in past years. Until last season, Miami didn’t offer much. Boston College’s best days were largely in the Big East. And Virginia Tech can only dream of the days it was the first team in the NIT.

Finally, expansion will boost the ACC’s basketball product. Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame join the league this season all after reaching the NCAA Tournament last season. The Orange reached the Final Four. If not this season, the ACC will be the top basketball league in 2014-15 when Louisville replaces Maryland.

For this season, though, the ACC will have plenty of intriguing storylines, not least of which Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams and Jim Boeheim battling for the league crown. Duke is the favorite with freshman Jabari Parker and Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood joining a stout returning cast in Durham.

ACC Predicted Order of Finish - See more at:
The ACC hasn’t been able to brag No. 1 conference status for a while. Last season it was the Big Ten. Before that, the Big East had its run.

Perhaps expansion diluted the ACC product a bit in past years. Until last season, Miami didn’t offer much. Boston College’s best days were largely in the Big East. And Virginia Tech can only dream of the days it was the first team in the NIT.

Finally, expansion will boost the ACC’s basketball product. Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame join the league this season all after reaching the NCAA Tournament last season. The Orange reached the Final Four. If not this season, the ACC will be the top basketball league in 2014-15 when Louisville replaces Maryland.

For this season, though, the ACC will have plenty of intriguing storylines, not least of which Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams and Jim Boeheim battling for the league crown. Duke is the favorite with freshman Jabari Parker and Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood joining a stout returning cast in Durham.

ACC Predicted Order of Finish - See more at:
College Basketball: 2013-14 ACC Preview
Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 07:12
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Clemson Tigers, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-clemson-preview

This preview and more on Clemson and the ACC are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

Clemson Facts & Figures
Last season: 13-18 overall (5-13 ACC)
Coach: Brad Brownell (51-45 at Clemson)
ACC projection: 14th
Postseason projection: None
The task facing Clemson coach Brad Brownell and his staff this winter is, shall we say, unenviable. In Brownell’s fourth season, he’ll try reversing a slide which has seen the Tigers regress from 22–12 and an NCAA Tournament victory in 2010-11 to 16–15 in ‘11-12 to 13–18 (and 11th in the ACC) last season after losing 10 of their final 11 games.

The additions of former Big East powers Syracuse, Pitt and Notre Dame to an already-formidable ACC make that challenge even tougher — and Clemson must play all three on the road. Oh, and did we mention that Clemson will have no seniors on its roster?

Welcome to the new and improved ACC, Tigers.

Never discount Brownell’s ability to squeeze as much as possible from his teams, but improving on 2012-13’s mark and getting back to .500 will be a difficult challenge. Clemson lost two of its top three scorers from last season and will return only one player who averaged more than 7.9 points per game — junior wing K.J. McDaniels, who averaged 10.9 per game.

Brownell was allowed some extra time to mold his team: The Tigers took a 10-day visit to Italy in August, which included four games against Italian teams as well as 10 pre-trip practices.

But for real improvement, Clemson must polish its skills, toughness and perhaps, most important, its leadership.

“I think leadership has to come from the players, and I don’t think it did this year,” Brownell said after last season. “I think that was part of our problem. When you see a team do what we did, there’s an indication of no clear direction. When a team is coach-directed, it’s never as good as it is when a team is player-directed.”


Say this for the Tigers’ frontcourt: It does not lack for opportunity.

With the graduation of Devin Booker (third-team All-ACC pick last season) and Milton Jennings (10.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and the transfer of Bernard Sullivan (1.8 ppg, 1.3 rpg) to Charlotte, Clemson returns a combined of 2.1 points and 2.6 rebounds per game from post players Landry Nnoko and Josh Smith, both of whom appeared raw in limited action as freshmen.

Small forward Jaron Blossomgame is one of the most high-regarded players on the roster, but he was forced to redshirt last season following a slow recovery from a compound leg fracture suffered in May 2012. He underwent a second procedure on the leg in June but was expected to be ready for the beginning of preseason workouts in October.

Brownell bolstered the roster with a pair of spring signees in 6-10 junior college transfer Ibrahim Djambo and 6-10 Senegal prospect Sidy Djitte.

Djambo and Nnoko figure to have the inside track toward starting roles.


There are certainly reasons to be excited about the Tigers’ backcourt despite some youth and lingering injuries. McDaniels emerged as an athletic playmaker capable of highlight-reel dunks, but Brownell wants him to improve his outside shooting to diversify his offensive repertoire.

Jordan Roper became a solid member of the rotation as a freshman, shooting 41.4 percent from 3-point range while averaging 7.9 points per game. He, too, must take another step forward in his development.

Junior Rod Hall is a steady, if unspectacular point guard who plays solid defense; he averaged 5.7 points and 3.5 assists as a sophomore and, along with McDaniels, will serve as a team leader. Adonis Filer hopes to build on an up-and-down freshman campaign that was highlighted by his 21-point outburst against The Citadel. Sophomore Devin Coleman — who redshirted last winter after rupturing his Achilles tendon — and freshman Patrick Rooks will provide some solid shooting whenever needed.


Patrick Rooks, a 6-3 shooting guard, is expected to bring immediate shooting ability, while fellow 3-star swingman Austin Ajukwa is a more versatile player who could fit as a 2 guard or small forward. Ibrahim Djambo, a 6-10 junior college transfer, should see immediate playing time in the post. Another spring signee, 6-10 big man Sidy Djitte, chose Clemson over Cincinnati and Memphis.

Final analysis
Factoid: 5. Clemson took a total of five charges in 31 games last season. It says a lot about the Tigers’ overall toughness, something that must change to compete in the improved ACC.

Poor recruiting by Oliver Purnell in his final months at Clemson — as well as a roster exodus following the transition from Purnell’s up-tempo style to Brownell’s motion offense — has left the Tigers in a difficult spot in the ever-improving ACC.

Four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances are starting to look like a distant memory, and unless you’re Kentucky, winning with no seniors on the roster is not a recipe for success.

Brownell is an excellent coach, but this looks like a season to build, take some lumps and learn. A .500 record would be an excellent accomplishment.

College Basketball: 2013-14 Clemson Preview
Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 07:07
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-florida-state-preview

This preview and more on Florida State and the ACC are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

Florida State Facts & Figures
Last season: 18-16 (9-9 ACC)
Postseason: NIT first round
Coach: Leonard Hamilton (219-143 at Florida State)
ACC projection: Sixth
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 64
Even after a down year, it seems Leonard Hamilton can do no wrong. After missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five seasons, Florida State responded by giving its coach a hefty raise in July that pushes his annual salary past the $2 million mark and an extension through 2017.

There’s plenty of reason for all that faith — and for renewed expectations. Nine scholarship players return, seven of whom saw their first action in the ACC last season. That group also includes senior Okaro White, one of the top small forwards in the ACC.

Hamilton is counting on all that possible depth to make up for the loss of the only starter, guard Michael Snaer, a terrific defender with a remarkable knack for hitting big shots.

“I thought the learning experiences our players went through were valuable,” says Hamilton, who enters his 12th season in Tallahassee, making him the second-longest tenured coach in the ACC behind only Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski. “I can see the scenario setting up, and we’re preparing ourselves to keep our program moving in the direction we’ve been moving the last number of years.”


For the first time in his career, White will likely be the primary option on offense. But, it’s the veteran’s ability to help in virtually every area that makes him so valuable to this team. A good outside shooter who gets to the free throw line frequently, White is also the Noles’ best rebounder, and he can guard multiple positions.

“I don’t believe you can replace any one player, but with the players we have we are going to be a well-rounded team,” White says. “I still think it’s about defense for us though. It always is.”

What kind of production the Noles will get from their big men remains uncertain. The roster boasts three raw 7-footers — senior Kiel Turpin (7-0) and sophomores Boris Bojanovsky (7-3), who added a much-needed 15 pounds this offseason, and Michael Ojo (7-1) — along with 6-9 power forward Robert Gilchrist, a junior college transfer who has played sparingly.

“Boris is holding his ground better and Michael has really made big improvements too,” White says. “All our big guys are going to contribute this year. It’s early, but I really believe we will be better offensively.”


The emergence of sophomore Devon Bookert last season finally gives the program a true point guard — a rarity in the Hamilton era — to build around. An Alaska native, Bookert adds a new dimension with his decision-making and pass-first mentality. Bookert can’t be left open, either. He knocked down an impressive 53 percent of his 3-point attempts (32-of-61) last season.

“Devon was a steal for us,” White says. “You don’t see too many true point guards these days. He’s very smart with the ball. With all the playing time he got last year he’s coming into this season with a lot more confidence.”

On the wing, streak-shooting senior Ian Miller might be the key to replacing Snaer’s offense. Hampered by a foot injury last season, Miller is capable of being a major scoring threat. Sophomores Aaron Thomas and Montay Brandon, who can also play point, will add to the rotation again.


Florida State was dealt a major blow when prized recruit Xavier Rathan-Mayes was declared academically ineligible. He was expected to be an immediate contributor. Big man Jarquez Smith is a raw prospect with good size. Wing Brandon Allen is a wild card, having spent the last three years playing minor league baseball.

Final Analysis
Factoid: Departed senior Michael Snaer made six buzzer-beating, game-winning shots during his career, which is recognized as a NCAA record.

Playing so many young players last season should now pay off. This will be a deep team with lots of improved individuals and plenty of size. White gives the Noles a solid piece to lean on. Bookert will make the offense run smoother. A preseason trip to Greece — where they played against the Greek national team — built more chemistry, too.

Getting more offensive production out of their big men is a big question mark. So is replacing Snaer, whose leadership may be missed the most.

More than anything, getting back to the NCAA Tournament depends on the defense. Hamilton has built this program around stingy, physical defense, and that was missing last season. If the Noles prove to be one of the nation’s toughest teams to score on once again, they’ll grind out an NCAA bid. If not, they’ll have to settle for the NIT again.

College Basketball: 2013-14 Florida State Preview
Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Kevin Harvick, NASCAR
Path: /nascar/harvick-wins-wild-one-kansas-buschs-nascar-chase-hopes-take-hit

Kevin Harvick won from the pole at Kansas Speedway on Sunday. It was clear he and sixth-place finisher Jimmie Johnson had the fastest cars. But for half the race, they were battling mid-pack, stuck in traffic and on restart roller coasters while the rest of the field took delight in seeing them trapped.

It didn’t have to be that way. Correct that, it should never have been that way.

The troubles for Harvick and Johnson started when NASCAR threw a caution for debris in the middle of green-flag pit stops on lap 88. The timing of the yellow was such that it hit a few feet before Johnson was officially on pit road. It left the No. 48 team trapped between a rock and a hard place. Already committed, they couldn’t pit under the rules since the pits were closed under yellow. But they couldn’t accelerate, either, which caused a painful, 35 mph jaunt that let half the field go by them without a stop for tires and fuel. At least they were luckier than Harvick; he had already made his stop, which trapped the No. 29 car a lap down and forced the team to use a wave-around in order to restart the race within striking distance of the leaders.

Working through traffic, then, was the order of the day for both drivers — along with strategy that eventually got them back to the front (Harvick won on 110-lap old left-side tires). But what was the “terrifying safety reason” to cause the yellow? According to sources, a brake-type hose under the white line at the exit of Turn 2.

Really? NASCAR couldn’t wait until after green-flag stops were complete, when the field would be solidified in place to go throw a yellow and pick that one up? Better yet, why have a caution at all?

One could make the argument that this piece of equipment, if run over by a driver accelerating after a pit stop, could have blown a tire or even cut an oil line. At the same time, no one would hit it unless they were slowly coming up to speed. Don’t the best drivers in the world have some basic common sense? A piece that far out of the groove causing a yellow that changes the outcome of the race based on the timing in the middle of green-flag stops was simply overboard. NASCAR officials should have a rule about debris: there should be no caution flag for it, especially at such a crucial point in a race, unless there’s a 10-foot piece of metal with spikes sticking out at the start/finish line. To make such rulings from the tower stinks of the type of manipulation and “playing fair” antics pointed out at Richmond that led to “Spingate” and this Chase being run, in part, with a giant asterisk over four drivers.

NASCAR did a good job of preaching in the wake of that scandal about how everyone must stay above the line. Now, they’ve simply got to practice that.

Let’s head up “Through the Gears” to see what Kansas taught us …

FIRST GEAR: Kyle Busch beat himself  Kyle BuschFor three weeks, plenty of ink has been spilled about a three-man title Chase amongst Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. Heading to Kansas, a “cookie cutter” intermediate, it’s the last place you’d think of for one of those three to knock themselves out.

Unfortunately, Mr. Busch had other plans based on his own mental fears. The track has always been a nemesis of sorts for him; 12 career starts and zero top-5 finishes at this 1.5-miler was his resume heading into Sunday. You could tell throughout the weekend those demons were clearly in the driver’s head. Wrecking in practice, he was forced into a backup car and had to start from the rear of the field.

During Saturday’s Nationwide Series race, he tangled with Brad Keselowski, wrecking his rival and creating an angry post-race scene. If there’s a list of people you want to enrage, the reigning Cup champ – who has nothing to lose during these playoffs – shouldn’t be among them. Keselowski was so incensed, he even asked during Sunday’s driver’s meeting if the sport’s “100 percent” policy would be violated by intentional wrecking.

In the end, though, it wasn’t Keselowski but Busch himself who committed Chase suicide. Never comfortable with the handling of his race car, the No. 18 vacillated between mid-pack and top 5, depending on pit strategy, yet never had the feel of a front-running car all day. Eventually, contact with Juan Pablo Montoya — another aggressive driver Busch had no need to irritate — led to the No. 18 taking a spin through the frontstretch. That seemed to tip Busch’s mental state off balance again, leading to another terrible mistake. An awkward restart, where Busch came down directly onto Carl Edwards’ bumper, sent him into the wall – and sealed his fate.

“I have no idea what happened,” said Busch, transitioning into the immature driver of old when the microphone was thrown in his face. “All I know is we’re in Kansas, right? That’s what we do here. We just crash.”

It’s a mental block that, in the end, will have mashed this year’s title dreams to pieces. Now 35 points back of teammate Kenseth, and sitting fifth in the standings, Busch is out of it without some major help.

SECOND GEAR: Is Harvick back in the title Chase?A “lame duck” year by Harvick, leaving Richard Childress Racing for Stewart-Haas Racing come November, has been defying conventional wisdom. Picking up his third win Sunday while leading 138 laps (his highest total in two years), the “Closer” has better stats on paper than anyone on his team-to-be.

The quality performances, while surprising, have come from an unwavering dedication on both sides to not let impending divorce ruin their dreams. All along, Childress has been vocal that this team could challenge for a title. But the cold reality of what these splits typically do have left them virtually ignored. Both sides are known to have a temper; one bad run could be all it takes to derail them straight through November.

At the same time, it’s hard to count RCR out completely. The Cup Series heads to Charlotte next, where Harvick was victorious in May. Next comes Talladega, a “wild card” due to its big wrecks, but a place where Harvick has also been wildly successful. Next on the list? Martinsville: a short track, which also serves as this organization’s specialty.

I still think it’s unlikely Harvick climbs himself back up into the race. Then again, an entire group of media, fans and other teams have doubted this bunch since February, when a Daytona 500 wreck left them 42nd and seemingly ready to coast all year. So who knows …

THIRD GEAR: What championship drives are made of  Matt KensethFor Kenseth, driving the “evilest race car he ever drove” threatened to leave him 20th or worse Sunday. Sliding through the field in the race’s second half like he was running on seven cylinders, a pit road speeding penalty finally threw him at the back of the pack. That’s when crew chief Jason Ratcliff went radical, changing everything but the kitchen sink inside the No. 20 Toyota. Miss on those fixes, and the risk was great; with a record 15 caution flags, so many cars were on the lead lap Kenseth could have wound up outside the top 30.

Except he didn’t. A terrific final drive during the last 20 laps saw Kenseth rise to 11th place. And when rival Johnson had a minor hiccup with the engine that dropped him to sixth, it was Kenseth who somehow held the point lead despite an awful day.

“We struggled a little bit and still salvaged,” he explained. “Proud of this team — they didn’t give up on me. They worked really hard on it. We’ll go racing next week.”

And come Homestead, those extra positions they earned could make the difference between first and second in points.

FOURTH GEAR: Kansas’ rough roadRecord-setting cautions. Rock-hard tires. Weird spinouts. Sure, Kansas has become its own animal, especially since a recent repave at the 1.5-mile intermediate oval. But the end result was a type of odd roulette game, where pit strategy and positioning on restarts determined your finish. Yes, passing was possible, which is more than we can say at some of the other intermediate tracks. But being able to maneuver in the first few laps of the run ultimately determines where you finish; good cars are not completely able to work their way up through the pack without help. That’s a problem several drivers still want addressed.

“With the combination of the cold temperatures, the tires, it made it treacherous when you were around other cars,” said runner-up Kurt Busch. “We always hope we can have more grip, be able to race side-by-side and have a comfort level to reproduce a show where fans want to come out and we see sellouts. We need to put on a better show on the track. And for that to happen, we just have to have Goodyear, the drivers, the teams, the tracks on the same page. Right now we're close, but I think we swung and we missed on tire combo this weekend.”

The proof? How Harvick won on those old left-sides, while two-or-four tire stops late in the race made little difference. Instead, it was about track position and how quickly you could dispose of cars in front of you on those restarts … or be trapped four, five, six seconds back of the leader for failing to do so.

Kurt Busch
and Jeff Gordon had a rough conversation, post-race over how the two raced each other on a late restart. Gordon felt that Busch made contact, cutting him off unnecessarily. In the end, the two seemed to agree it was good, hard racing. Both were calmed down by their post-race press conference. … After a weekend of good practices, Danica Patrick didn’t even make it through one corner in the race at Kansas. Making a three-wide move on the start, she clipped David Reutimann, got loose and started a multi-car wreck. It’s the fifth DNF for her based on a crash this season, tied for the most among full-time Cup Series drivers. … Dale Earnhardt Jr., eighth Sunday, now has three top-10 finishes and 107 laps led the last three weeks. Think he might want that race back from Chicagoland? As it is, he sits 54 back of championship leader Kenseth and will likely spend the offseason wondering what might have been. … Brian Vickers had a scary wreck off Turn 2 in which the No. 55 Toyota went airborne. Reminiscent of another crash for the car, at Texas a few years ago with Michael McDowell, drivers were so worried they were actually calling on spotters to make sure the rescue crew got there as quickly as possible. Luckily, despite heavy impact, Vickers walked out of the car unscathed.

Follow Tom Bowles on Twitter: @NASCARBowles

Post date: Monday, October 7, 2013 - 17:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oklahoma Sooners
Path: /college-football/oklahoma-lb-corey-nelson-out-season-torn-pectoral-muscle

Sooners defensive co-captain Corey Nelson will miss the remainder of the 2013 season with a partially torn pectoral muscle. Nelson sustained the injury in the third quarter during the Sooners 20-17 home win over TCU.

Post date: Monday, October 7, 2013 - 14:03