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Path: /college-football/college-footballs-most-improved-quarterbacks-2013

The 2013 college football season is only five weeks old, but there is plenty to learn from the first month of action.

Quarterback play is always under the microscope in any season. But performance under center is at an all-time high, especially as more teams continue to implement spread offenses.

Improved quarterback play is an easy solution for a struggling team, and after five weeks, there are a handful of programs poised to surpass their win total from last year, largely due to the performance under center.

Missouri’s James Franklin struggled with injuries last season but has rebounded with a strong start to 2013. Although the Tigers have yet to play in an SEC game in 2013, Franklin’s improvement should allow Missouri to return to the postseason.

Utah’s Travis Wilson, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Illinois’ Nathan Scheelhaase are all benefactors of coordinator changes. And Washington’s Keith Price has benefited from more consistency from his offensive line, while Oregon State’s Sean Mannion has settled into the starting role after sharing time with Cody Vaz last year.

To help illustrate the improvement by these quarterbacks, we examined their stats through the first four or five starts (however many that team has played this year) and compared it to their 2012 start.

College Football's Most-Improved Quarterbacks from 2012 to 2013

James Franklin, Missouri 

YearGamesCompletionsAttemptsYardsComp %TDINTAvg/GYards Per Comp 

Due to offseason shoulder surgery, Franklin was never 100 percent last year. In nine games, he threw for 1,562 yards and 20 scores and the dual-threat ability that made him one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the Big 12 in 2011 was gone (122 rush yards). The senior is off to a better start in 2013 and already has 14 passing plays of 20 yards or more after recording only 18 last year. Missouri has yet to play a SEC game in 2013, but Franklin looks like a different quarterback and as the numbers above indicate, he’s a big reason why this team is averaging 45.5 points a game. 

Zach Mettenberger, LSU

YearGamesCompletionsAttemptsYardsComp %TDINTAvg/GYards Per Comp

High expectations surrounded Mettenberger in his first season as LSU’s starting quarterback in 2012. However, the former Georgia passer struggled, finishing 2012 with 2,609 yards and 12 scores and just over 200 passing yards per game (200.7). So far, the hire of Cam Cameron has paid huge dividends for the Tigers. Through five games, Mettenberger leads all SEC quarterbacks with 28 completions of 20 yards or more and ranks sixth nationally in pass efficiency. Although the senior’s completion percentage is down slightly, he is averaging almost four more yards per attempt. 

Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois

YearGamesCompletionsAttemptsYardsComp %TDINTAvg/GYards Per Comp

Much like LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, Scheelhaase’s improvement can be directly tied to a change at coordinator. Bill Cubit was hired to coordinate Illinois’ offense after he was fired as Western Michigan’s head coach, and the veteran assistant has made a huge impact in just four games. Scheelhaase has raised his completion percentage by nearly five points and is averaging nearly 300 passing yards per game. The competition will get tougher, but Scheelhaase needs just one touchdown to surpass his total from last year.

Sean Mannion, Oregon State

YearGamesCompletionsAttemptsYardsComp %TDINTAvg/GYards Per Comp

Considering Mannion’s performance through five games, it’s hard to believe Oregon State had a quarterback battle in the spring. Injuries derailed Mannion’s 2012 campaign, but he has been one of college football’s top quarterbacks in September. The junior leads the nation with 2,018 passing yards and is completing 67.2 percent of his throws. Mannion also has 13 passing plays of 30 yards or more. With a struggling defense, Mannion and Oregon State’s offense may need to win a lot of shootouts in Pac-12 play. 

Keith Price, Washington

YearGamesCompletionsAttemptsYardsComp %TDINTAvg/GYards Per Comp

Price had an outstanding sophomore season, throwing for 3,063 yards and 33 touchdowns, while completing 66.9 percent of his passes. However, due largely to a struggling offensive line, Price wasn’t the same quarterback in 2012. In 13 games, he threw for 2,726 yards, 19 scores and tossed 13 picks. Price’s passing efficiency was nearly 40 points lower in 2012 after recording a 161.9 mark in 2011. Thanks to some tweaks on offense and better play by the line, Price has found his 2011 form. He ranks first in the Pac-12 and seventh nationally in 2013 with a 72.3 completion percentage. Price is more comfortable this season and as a result, Washington is poised to have its best season under coach Steve Sarkisian. 

Travis Wilson, Utah

YearGamesCompletionsAttemptsYardsComp %TDINTAvg/GYards per Comp

Note: For Wilson's 2012 stats, we used his first four starts.

The addition of Dennis Erickson as Utah’s offensive coordinator has made a huge difference for Wilson. In his first four starts last season, Wilson had a solid completion percentage (66.9%) but threw five picks and was averaging just 10.1 yards per completion. Wilson has been a different quarterback this year and ranks third in the Pac-12 in total offense per game (342.3). The sophomore also has five rushing scores and averages eight yards per carry. Utah missed out on a bowl last year but should return to the postseason, largely due to the emergence of Wilson in 2013.

Related College Football Content

College Football Post-Week 5 Bowl Projections
College Football's Post-Week 5 Coaches on the Hot Seat
10 Coaches to Replace Lane Kiffin at USC
10 Coaches to Replace Paul Pasqualoni at Connecticut
College Football's Post-Week 5 Heisman Voting
Stats to Know from Week 5

Post date: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-games-october

The shortest season in major sports moves into its second month, and there’s still a ton to learn.

The ACC has two frontrunners in Florida State and Clemson, but neither have been able to get out of their own way in the past. The best of the two could be decided later this month, but a big win for either team will mean little if the Boston Colleges, NC States and Wake Forests of the world continue to be stumbling blocks.

The consensus is that Oregon and Stanford are the one-two punch in the Pac-12. Washington and UCLA will learn if there is room for any other teams among the league’s elite. Either that, or the Huskies and Bruins will find they’re not ready for the national spotlight.

And then there’s the offense-centric SEC, where Ole Miss’ daunting schedule continues into October and Florida tries to move on without two key players.

September was great, but October is when the weather cools and the first BCS standings are released. Here’s a guide to your appointment viewing for the next four weeks.

October’s Top 10 College Football Games

1. Oct. 19 Florida State at Clemson

The ACC Atlantic race and likely the ACC’s only hope of producing a national championship contender hinges on two things: This game in Death Valley and the ability of both teams to avoid their traditional stumble against a league also-ran. Florida State fell behind Boston College by two touchdowns in the second quarter before surging to a 14-point win, and Clemson won ugly in a Thursday night game against NC State two weeks ago. With the way quarterbacks Tajh Boyd and Jameis Winston are playing, this also could be a game to determine postseason hardware. One thing to watch: Maryland could be a spoiler this month, facing Florida State this week and Clemson in College Park on Oct. 26.

2. Oct. 5 Washington at Stanford
The Huskies handed Stanford one of its two losses last season by defeating the Cardinal 17-13. That was before Kevin Hogan took over as starting quarterback for Stanford and before Washington found solid ground offense. The Huskies’ offense is much improved from last season, particularly along the line. Keith Price has been sacked only three times in four games (Washington allowed 38 sacks last season). And Bishop Sankey leads the Pac-12 in rushing. The Stanford defense, though, is just as physical and punishing as ever.

3. Oct. 12 Oregon at Washington
Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox will earn his pay this month. In the second leg in critical two weeks for Washington, The Huskies go from facing a methodical Stanford team to the track meet that is the Oregon offense. As for Oregon, this will be their stiffest test to date this season.

4. Oct. 19 UCLA at Stanford
After Washington, Pac-12 South contender UCLA will take its turn facing the Pac-12 North tandem. Stanford took both meetings last season, defeating the Bruins 35-17 in Pasadena and then 27-24 the following week in the Pac-12 title game. UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley had two of his three worst games in terms of passing efficiency last season against the Cardinal, so he may need to be the difference.

5. Oct. 26 UCLA at Oregon
This is Round Two in UCLA’s road swing from Mordor. Like Washington, UCLA faces Stanford then Oregon. The Bruins have lost four in a row to Oregon as the series returns to Eugene for the fourth time in five meetings (the last was a 49-31 loss in the Pac-12 Championship Game at Autzen Stadium). If the Heisman is going to come from the Pac-12, this could be the key game as Hundley faces Marcus Mariota for the matchup of the best dual-threat quarterbacks West of College Station.

6. Oct. 5 Ohio State at Northwestern
The biggest game in Evanston since at least when Pat Fitzgerald was on the field as a player instead of a coach. The Wildcats will hope Venric Mark is healthy, adding him to an offense that’s been dynamic without him for the first month of the season. With Mark, the Wildcats have the versatile playmakers and dual-threat quarterbacks who have given the Buckeyes trouble during their 17-game win streak.

7. Oct. 18 UCF at Louisville (Friday)
Louisville is cruising and the American Athletic Conference has given the Cardinals little reason to be intimidated by their upcoming schedule — three AAC teams are 0-4, and one has fired its coach. UCF, though, is the exception, The Golden Knights went toe-to-toe with South Carolina last week as the Gamecocks’ needed 28 consecutive points in the second half to put the Knights away. After Blake Bortles passed for 358 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions against the Gamecocks, he showed he might be ready to take on the Cards.

8. Oct. 12 Texas A&M at Ole Miss
The Rebels perhaps showed they weren’t ready to take on the SEC’s elite after losing 25-0 to Alabama, but the brutal schedule continues into October. This will be the first game in Oxford since the Rebels faced Southeast Missouri State on Sept. 7. Will the Grove be preparing for a triumphant 4-1 team or an Ole Miss team riding a two-game losing streak after the road trip to Auburn?

9. Oct. 12 Florida at LSU
Even in this new-look SEC where offense reigns, Florida remains built on tough, physical defense and an offense that prefers to control the clock. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger and his impressive group of receivers were able to pick up points against Georgia, but Florida may have the best pass defense in the league. For the Gators, they’ll find out quickly if injuries to Jeff Driskel and Dominique Easley have eliminated them from SEC contention.

10. Oct. 5 Georgia Tech at Miami
The ACC Coastal has had a quietly eventful two weeks with Georgia Tech defeating North Carolina and Virginia Tech taking out the Yellow Jackets less than a week later. Miami will try to notch its first major win in the division race when it hosts Georgia Tech — which could go from division frontrunner to 2-2 in a span of two weeks.

Other games to watch
Oct. 5 Maryland at Florida State
Oct. 5 Arizona State vs. Notre Dame (in Dallas)
Oct. 12 Oklahoma vs. Texas (in Dallas)
Oct. 12 Michigan at Penn State
Oct. 19 LSU at Ole Miss
Oct. 26 Texas Tech at Oklahoma
Oct. 26 Clemson at Maryland

Post date: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/8-outrageous-college-football-predictions-week-6

The beauty of sports, in particular college football, lies in their complete unpredictability and reality TV-like drama. Week 5 was a huge weekend of action across the nation. Lessons were learned in Athens, Tuscaloosa, Tempe, Columbus and South Bend to name a few. Ole Miss did lose by more than three touchdowns and Zach Mettenberger did out-pass Aaron Murray as I predicted last week. Arkansas topped 200 yards rushing and lost and Brandin Cooks had a monster game for Oregon State. In a week without a marquee showdown and lots of quality conference matchups, Week 6 could be equally as entertaining.

Note: The point of this column is to have some fun and make some outlandish predictions. Please react accordingly.

Either Texas or UCLA will lose on Thursday
Strange things happen in Ames, Iowa and Salt Lake City, Utah. Especially, in October. Just ask Oklahoma State about traveling to Ames. The Cyclones and Utes will host NCAA blue bloods Texas and UCLA on Thursday evening and one of them will pull an upset. Texas is clearly a questionable team at best despite a win over Kansas State at home two weeks ago. Utah is a far superior opponent than Iowa State with Travis Wilson running Dennis Erickson’s offense to near perfection. After an off weekend, Utah is just a 4.5-point underdog and could easily pull the home upset.

Every SEC favorite will win
Alabama and South Carolina are big favorites over Georgia State and Kentucky but LSU, Florida and Georgia are all picked by Vegas to win by roughly 10 points each over Mississippi State, Arkansas and Tennessee respectively. LSU and Georgia, fresh off an emotional showdown last weekend, have to go on the road. The two real swing games are Ole Miss (-2.5) at Auburn and Missouri at Vanderbilt (-1.5). There won’t be a single upset in the nation’s best conference this weekend. And as a side outrageous prediction, Ole Miss will do something it hasn’t done since 1952 — beat Auburn in two straight seasons.

Wake Forest will finish the week as the only 0-3 BCS team in conference
Heading into Week 6, there are four teams in one of the “BCS” conferences that sit at 0-2. Vanderbilt, Duke, Southern Cal and Wake Forest are the only teams with two conference losses already. Both Duke and USC are off this weekend, and since I’m picking Vanderbilt to win at home over Missouri, that leaves the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest is a 10-point underdog at home against NC State this weekend. With a loss and a Vandy win, Wake would become the nation’s first automatic qualifier to start the year 0-3 in league play. 

The first team to 14 points will win the Stanford-Washington game
Yards, first downs and points will be tough to come by in this key Pac-12 North game in Palo Alto between the Cardinal and Huskies. Washington is leading the league in yards allowed per game (288.8 ypg), yards per play allowed (3.8 ypp), passing defense (156.8 ypg) and, most importantly, scoring defense (10.8 ppg). The Huskies are fourth nationally in points allowed per game and Stanford isn’t too far behind at 19.5 per game (34th nationally). Stanford’s defense is fresh off of a crushing performance against Washington State on the road and appears to have finally settled into form. The first team (if any) to score a second touchdown should win this one.

Baylor and West Virginia won’t score 19 touchdowns
The Bears and Mountaineers combined for 1,237 passing yards, 270 rushing yards and 19 total touchdowns in the 70-63 West Virginia win last season in Morgantown. While Art Briles has inserted Bryce Petty at quarterback and not missed a beat at Baylor, Dana Holgorsen has had much less success under center. In fact, his team has fewer passing yards (1,196) in five games this season than the Baylor-WVU game featured last year. (Okay, picking two teams to score less than 19 TDs in a game isn’t that outrageous, after all).

Bonus Prediction: Lache Seatrunk will register his nation's-best eighth straight 100-yard rushing effort.

Arizona State will become the first team to beat USC and Notre Dame in consecutive weeks
Only 12 times has a team ever played USC and Notre Dame in consecutive weeks and Arizona State in 2013 is one of them. Of those 12 only three, including the Sun Devils, have won the first leg of the historic double-dip. South Carolina in 1983 and Michigan State in 1987 are the only other teams to win the front end of the two-game stretch over USC before both getting crushed by Notre Dame. ASU demolished USC last weekend and is a 5.5-point favorite over the Irish in Arlington, Texas, this weekend.

Northwestern will beat Ohio State for the second time ever
Ohio State is 28-1 all-time against Northwestern with the only win coming in Evanston in 2004 under the late Randy Walker. This is the most talented Northwestern team ever assembled, Ohio State is coming off of an emotionally draining effort against Wisconsin and College Gameday is going to be in Evanston for the first time since 1995 (just its second such appearance on campus). Venric Mark could return to the field for Pat Fitzgerald, giving him his full complement of weapons for the first time all season. The Cats have been extremely competitive against upper level Big Ten teams of late and now is the time for them to break through on the national stage.

Neither Jameis Winston or C.J. Brown will throw a TD pass
Winston and Brown are nipping at Tajh Boyd’s heels for ACC Player of the Year but both will be slowed this weekend by excellent defenses. Winston has been a star for FSU but is facing a Terps defense that is leading the nation with just one passing TD allowed. Florida State is fourth in the nation in passing defense by allowing a measly 136.0 yards per game. Look for both defenses to shine in this ACC Atlantic showdown. For the record, Maryland has never won in Tallahassee and it likely won’t this weekend either.

Post date: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/texas-or-usc-which-better-college-football-job

Texas and USC are two of college football’s premier jobs, and by December, both programs are expected to be looking for a head coach. USC already fired coach Lane Kiffin, and Mack Brown’s future at Texas is iffy, which means there will be plenty of coaches lining up to interview at both schools.

When it comes to building a list of best jobs in college football, the list usually starts with Texas, and USC, Florida, Ohio State and Alabama aren’t far behind.

However, is USC a better job than Texas? It’s hard to complain about weather in Los Angeles, but some coaches wouldn’t want to put up with the extra media attention. Texas also has a similar situation with the Longhorn Network, but being able to have your pick of the elite recruits in Texas is never a bad thing.

Both schools have plenty of built-in advantages when it comes to recruiting and location. And oddly enough, both programs have struggled to establish consistent success.

Assuming both Texas and USC will be hiring a new coach in December, which job is more desirable?

USC or Texas: Which is a Better Job for College Football Coaches?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Texas and USC have stumbled in recent years, but let’s not forget these two programs won BCS championships and competed for the 2005 title in Pasadena, Calif. Even with a 5-4 combined record this season, there’s no doubt Texas and USC are two of the best jobs in college football, with Florida, Ohio State and Alabama rounding out the top five. I’d give Texas an edge over USC in this debate, as its prime location allows its pick of the elite recruits each year, and there’s no shortage of tradition and money flowing through the athletic department. With the Big 12 sticking with 10 teams for now, one could argue it’s easier to play for a national title in the Big 12 over the Pac-12. And in the current climate of the Pac-12 South, UCLA is on the upswing, and Arizona State and Arizona are improving. The Longhorn Network may scare a coach or two away from Austin, but Texas is clearly the best job in college football and will have its pick of elite coaches whenever Mack Brown decides to step aside.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
First, these are two of the top 5-8 jobs in the nation based on natural built-in advantages, financial power and championship upside. But Texas is the answer. The differences are subtle but extremely important aside from one being a public institution and one private. The development of high school football players in the state of Texas dwarfs all other states in the nation — including both Florida and California. The commitment and passion of the fans and administration is greater by a wide margin for the Longhorns and it's what makes Texas the most powerful athletic department in the nation. In Los Angeles, the Trojans must compete for attention with everything from Kobe Bryant to sushi restaurants to the beach in the most saturated college market in the country. The bottom line is that football is king in Texas and it's an afterthought in Hollywood. Would anyone actually CHOOSE to live in L.A. over Austin?

Mark Ross
Although everything is bigger in Texas, including expectations, I'll lean towards the Longhorns' job on this one. Both schools have won national championships during the BCS era and have seen sustained periods of substantial success. Resources and recruiting aren't really issues either, as each is one of the main national brands when it comes to the college football landscape. Texas still comes out as the winner of this two-horse race for me because while the pressure to win and win big in Austin is both prevalent and evident, the potential rewards when you do outweigh those at USC. By that I mean national championship-winning head coaches at Texas are beloved, even if they go through rough patches, and I just don't get that vibe from the Trojans' fan base. To put it another way: football is king in Austin, while there's a lot more competition for fame and notoriety in Los Angeles. Why would I want to compete with the movie stars and professional athletes when I could potentially be THE star in a state that eats, drinks and sleeps football?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Perhaps a few years ago, I may have said USC is the better job as the Trojans still basked in glitz of their run of Heisman winners and top-five finishes. I’m not convinced anymore. Pete Carroll remains the only USC coach to lead the Trojans to a top-five finish since 1976. The talent base is there, the tradition is there, the facilities and support are there, but for whatever reason Carroll is the only one since the 70s to fully capitalize on all those advantages. Perhaps we could say the same of Texas, with Mack Brown elevating the Longhorns out of the John Mackovic/David McWilliams era. But Texas has perhaps more talent in state and has had the better run of quarterbacks of late, not to mention all the resources that come with being the Longhorns coach. The Longhorn Network and other glad-handing obligations that come with being the UT coach may be a hassle, but it ensures constant support and interest. A wine-and-cheese crowd is still a crowd. I’d pick Texas, but is parsing between two luxury sports cars.

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College Football's Post-Week 5 Coaches on the Hot Seat
10 Coaches to Replace Lane Kiffin at USC
10 Coaches to Replace Paul Pasqualoni at Connecticut
College Football's Post-Week 5 Heisman Voting
Stats to Know from Week 5

Post date: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-superlatives-top-inside-out-threats

 The top three names in our list of inside-out players for 2013-14 each have something to prove.

Creighton’s Doug McDermott returned for his senior season with an opportunity to lead his father’s team in its first season in the Big East. Instead of facing Drake, Bradley and Southern Illinois, he’ll face Georgetown, Villanova and Marquette on a regular basis.

Adreian Payne could have made the leap to the NBA, but Michigan State hasn’t been to the Final Four in the last three seasons in what constitutes a drought for the Spartans.

And Jabari Parker is the superstar freshman who’s gone toe-to-toe with Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins in the AAU circuit. Wiggins may is the No. 1 freshman and the presumptive top pick in the NBA Draft, but Parker will get a crack at him on Nov. 12.

Our list of the nation’s best inside-out players is the one in a series of superlatives to prepare you for the 2013-14 season. Each list and more can be found in the the Athlon Sports College Basketball 2013-14 Preseason Annual . The magazine hits newsstands this week with previews for every team in every conference, plus exclusive Q&As with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Louisville’s Russ Smith and UCLA’s Kyle Anderson.

Previous: Slashers  | Next: Post Players

  2013-14 Superlatives: Top Inside-Out Threats
1.Doug McDermott, Creighton
6-8/225, Sr.
The return of McDermott turns Creighton into an instant contender for the Big East title. If you’re wondering if McDermott was the product of the Missouri Valley, consider that he averaged 26 points in nine games against top-50 RPI teams, including 41 against Final Four-bound Wichita State.
2.Adreian Payne, Michigan State
6-10/240, Sr.
Like Gary Harris, Payne returned to Michigan State to compete for a national championship. A year ago, he was one of the most improved players in the country thanks to his pick-and-pop shooting. He averaged 10.5 points and 7.6 rebounds while making 38.1 percent of his 42 3-point shots.
3.Jabari Parker, Duke
6-8/235, Fr.
Andrew Wiggins and Kentucky’s haul of freshmen are getting more attention, but Parker is in a similar category. Described as a Swiss Army knife kind of a player, Parker will be a matchup nightmare with his versatility, athleticism and scoring ability. He could flourish from any spot on the floor.
4.Rodney Hood, Duke
6-8/215, So.
Mike Krzyzewski hasn’t taken many transfers at Duke, but all three before Hood have been major contributors. Expect the Mississippi State import to follow suit.  He and Parker will be an interchangeable and dangerous twosome for the ACC favorites.
5.Dwight Powell, Stanford
6-10/235, Sr.
Powell averaged 14.9 points and 8.4 rebounds last season, but Stanford may need more from him to escape the NIT. Cardinal coach Johnny Dawkins would like to see him play more aggressively in his final season.
6.Aaron Gordon, Arizona
6-8/219, Fr.
The top newcomer in the Pac-12 turns the Wildcats into a legitimate Final Four contender. Gordon is in a class with Parker, Wiggins and Kentucky’s freshmen with his ability to play any spot on the floor. He’ll play small forward for Arizona but could easily play closer to the basket.
7.C.J. Fair, Syracuse
6-8/215, Sr.
The outlook for Syracuse improved dramatically when Fair elected to return to school. The steady senior led the Orange in scoring (14.5 ppg) and rebounding (seven) while making 46.9 percent of his 3-pointers. One star among a handful last season, he’ll need to take on a lead role for a team that can win the ACC title.
8.Ryan Anderson, Boston College
6-9/216, Jr.
One of the core members of Steve Donahue’s rebuilding effort at Boston College, Anderson anchors the frontcourt in a perimeter-oriented lineup. The 6-9 junior has been to the free throw line 287 times the last two seasons, converting 64.1 percent of the time.
9.LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State
6-8/220, Jr.
Ross took off in the NCAA Tournament, becoming the second scorer Ohio State sorely needed to complement Deshaun Thomas. Now, he’ll need to be the No. 1 option. Ross averaged 15 points per game in four NCAA Tournament games while playing just over 20 minutes per game.
10.JaKarr Sampson, St. John’s
6-9/214, So.
Sampson stepped in as a freshman and led a talent frontcourt by averaging 14.9 points and 6.6 rebounds. Expect him to lead the way again as St. John’s makes a bid to return to the NCAA Tournament.

Other Inside-Out Superlatives:
Freshman to watch: Preston “Chicken” Knowles, Houston
Junior college transfer to watch: Jonathan Holton, West Virginia
On the spot: T.J. Warren, NC State
Breakout candidate: Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh
Underrated: Jamil Wilson, Marquette

Post date: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Kansas Speedway, Matt Kenseth, NASCAR
Path: /nascar/nascar-numbers-game-5-amazing-stats-kansas

Don’t call it humdrum. The new Kansas Speedway, repaved following the 2012 spring race, went from milquetoast rom-com to grind-house flick with the addition of fresh asphalt.

In last year’s Chase stop at Kansas, a whopping 24.7 percent of the race was run under caution (the highest percentage of the 2012 Chase), thanks to 14 caution flags for a slew of chippy, ill-advised moves on a tire compound that manufactured such slam-bang action. In this year’s race, Goodyear brings a multi-compound tire similar to the one that drivers used Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, which allowed drivers to lane-hop with more ease.

Crazy track, plus a tire that allows a driver to move from groove to groove untethered? Expect the unexpected.

In a two-race sample size at Kansas, there isn’t much on which anyone can reliably bank. One driver, who fancies this particular 1.5-mile track type, stands a head above the rest. He happens to be leading the standings with seven races remaining in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

3 for 3  Matt Kenseth is undefeated in races at soft intermediate tracks — Kansas, Kentucky and Chicagoland — this season, going three-for-three.  Matt Kenseth

Dating back to this race last year, he has won the last four out of five races (Homestead 2012 is the outlier) on soft intermediates, which are 1.5-mile tracks slower than the Bruton Smith-signature quad-ovals at Charlotte, Atlanta, Texas and Las Vegas. In other words, he’s a titan on this specific track type.

So how well does his team hold up?

In three soft intermediate races driving the No. 20 entry for Joe Gibbs Racing, Kenseth’s car ranked first, second and second in single-race average green-flag speed. He’s had the outright fastest car just once (Kansas), but was aided in a Jason Ratcliff call to forego pitting in the final laps of the Kentucky race. There isn’t any reason to think that the team won’t supply Kenseth with a competitive race car and smart strategy on Sunday.

+8  Kenseth retained position 100 percent of the time in nine restarts in the Kansas spring race, gaining a total of eight positions in the first two laps after the green flag.

The amazing thing about Kenseth’s plus-8 is that those positions were all gained from the treacherous non-preferred groove, where it is about 30 percent more difficult for a driver to merely retain the position. He didn’t gain in the running order from the preferred groove, but that’s only because he started P1 on all five of those restarts. There is plenty to love about Kenseth’s driving ability, but his prowess on restart position retainment might be his best attribute. To other drivers, he is a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a fire suit.

0.750  Kevin Harvick is a replacement-level driver in the two races on Kansas’s new surface, with a 0.750 Production in Equal Equipment Rating (PEER).  Kevin Harvick

Don’t toss aside his chances at a point-padding finish, though; two races is an awfully small sample size and he could have scored a top-10 finish in the spring race at Kansas had he not lost two positions from the non-preferred groove on the race’s final restart (he ultimately finished 12th). He finished 10th at Kentucky and a sprightly third at Chicagoland.

-15  Since the repaving of Kansas Speedway, Greg Biffle’s average finish there is 15 positions worse.

Prior to Kansas becoming a 1.5-mile version of Darlington, Biffle was a reliable racer, averaging an eighth-place finish and scoring two wins. In the CoT era, he never finished worse than 10th. In the two races on the current surface, he averaged a 23rd-place finish (scores of 27th and 19th), suggesting he and crew chief Matt Puccia haven’t yet cracked the code of how to navigate around the new pavement. Because of his past accolades at the facility, he’ll pop up as a favorite for this weekend, but the reality is that in the two-race sample size we have for “New Kansas” suggests he’s more likely to be stymied on Sunday.

8 out of 10  Out of Kyle Busch’s 10 NASCAR Nationwide Series victories this season, eight of them rank among the 10 most dominant victories in the series.

The No. 54 team, with Busch as its driver, holds the top four percentage-of-laps led totals this season. While the Penske Racing No. 22 has scored more victories — 11, with four different drivers — the No. 54 has been the most dominant in its victorious showings. The most dominant outing? A romp at Chicagoland — a track shaped similarly to Kansas — where Busch led 97.5 percent of the laps. Busch finished sixth in the Cup Series companion event at Kansas last season, driving for his own race team. Now with JGR firepower and a penchant for passing out woodshed whippings, he returns as the driver to beat on Saturday.

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 1, 2013 - 18:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-october-1

The midpoint of the 2013 season is getting closer...

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 1st

South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw is out 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury.

In case you missed it: Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds is stepping down.

Lost Lettermen has a look at college football's top-10 most ridiculous mascot costumes.

Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon was arrested late last week on assault charges.

Northwestern will have running back Venric Mark back in the lineup against Ohio State.

Virginia Tech cornerback Antone Exum has been cleared to return to action.

Ohio State safety Christian Bryant will miss the rest of the season due to injury.

Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage left last week's game due to injury but is expected to start next Saturday.

Why is Florida State's defense struggling to stop the run? 

NC State quarterback Brandon Mitchell is getting closer to a return.

Ole Miss has a few notable players injured - but all are expected to play against Auburn.

A good read on the expectations and the downfall of Lane Kiffin at USC.

BYU will have running back Jamaal Williams and receiver Cody Hoffman back in the lineup on Friday night against Utah State.

ULM QB Kolton Browning is expected to miss the rest of the year with a torn quad muscle.

Post date: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 17:00
Path: /college-football/deanthony-thomas-out-against-colorado-ankle-injury

Oregon will be without its biggest offensive threat on Saturday as they travel to Boulder to take on Pac-12 foe Colorado. The Ducks will be very careful with Thomas and see no need to rush him back against a Colorado team that got blown out 44-17 against Oregon State last week. Head coach Mark Helfrich would like to get Thomas healthy for their trip to Washington in two weeks. Thomas will be replaced in the lineup by sophomore Byron Marshall, who ran for a career-high 130 yards and two touchdowns last week.

Post date: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 16:00
Path: /college-football/nebraska-qb-taylor-martinez-questionable-illinois

Before sitting out last Saturday's game against South Dakota State, Taylor Martinez made 32 consecutive starts. The streak, dating back to his freshman season, was ended due to a nagging turf toe injury. Martinez was replaced by the combination of redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong and senior Ron Kellogg III. The two led the Cornhuskers to more than 300 yards rushing and 300 passing for the first time in school history. Armstrong started the game and completed 12 of his 15 throws for 169 yards, while Kellogg connected on eight of nine passes for 136 yards. The Cornhuskers will certainly miss the FBS' second-leading active rusher; however, word is that Nebraska will bring Martinez along slowly. In fact, it appears Nebraska won't even let him practice until he is 100 percent healthy.

Post date: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 16:00
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-week-6

In the Week 6 episode of the Athlon Sports Cover 2 podcast, co-hosts Braden Gall and David Fox give a few quick reactions on what happened in an eventful Week 5 and then take a look at this week’s action.

In this week’s podcast:

• Braden runs down the headlines of the week (non-Lane Kiffin division): Aaron Murray came out on top for Georgia, but Zach Mettenberger rose to the occasion, Alabama’s quietly convincing win over Ole Miss, Ohio State’s championship-caliber defense and why Oklahoma is now the Big 12 frontrunner.

• In Kiffin news, we rate where USC stands as an elite college football job. Is it still an A-plus job, and who would our amateur ADs look at for the Trojans’ job?

• A quick look around the ACC, previewing Maryland-Florida State. Do the Seminoles have reason to worry against the Terps and where does the Coastal stand?

• Beyond USC’s loss, the Pac-12 made news as Washington, Stanford and Oregon flexed their muscles. Where do the Huskies stand going into their game against Stanford?

The podcast can be found on, iTunes and our podcast RSS feed.

Please send any comments, questions and podcast topics to @AthlonSports, @BradenGall and @DavidFox615 on Twitter.


Thanks to Moon Taxi for sharing their tunes for bumper music. Their new album Mountains Beaches Cities is now available.

Post date: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/texas-ad-deloss-dodds-retiring-mack-brown-next

College football’s coaching carousel is already spinning at warp speed, as USC fired Lane Kiffin on Sunday after losing to Arizona State, and UConn canned Paul Pasqualoni on Monday.

Needless to say, the dominoes in what could be a very busy coaching cycle are beginning to fall.

According to, Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds is expected to retire on Tuesday.

Dodds retirement could be the start of a busy couple of months at Texas. Coach Mack Brown is on the hot seat, and Dodds is one of his biggest supporters.

However, with Dodds stepping aside and a new athletic director coming in, Brown may be coaching his final season in Austin.

Of course, the next eight games will have a large role in determining Brown’s future. However, a 2-2 start certainly hasn’t helped his job status and finishing 8-4 would be a disappointment for a team that has arguably the most talent in the Big 12.

Is Brown the next domino to fall? Keep an eye on the Oct. 12 date against Oklahoma. The Sooners have dominated the Longhorns in back-to-back years and another blowout loss would not sit well in Austin.

Post date: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, SEC
Path: /college-football/sec-post-week-5-power-rankings-2013

Alabama silenced any doubters — and there were some despite the team’s No. 1 ranking — with an emphatic 25-0 win over upstart Ole Miss in Oxford. Elsewhere, Georgia held on to the No. 2 spot in our power rankings with a huge win at home vs. LSU. The Tigers, despite the loss, remain No. 3. 

More Post-Week 5 Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten Pac-12 |

SEC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

11Alabama (4-0, 2-0): Alabama was dominant on defense in an impressive 25-0 win over Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide limited Ole Miss to an average of 3.6 yards on 57 offensive plays en route to its first shoutout against Ole Miss since 1996. AJ McCarron was solid at quarterback, but Alabama did most of its work on the ground. T.J. Yeldon led the way with 121 yards on 17 carries, and Kenyan Drake chipped in with 99 yards on 12 attempts. Next Week: Georgia State
22Georgia (3-1, 2-0): Georgia protected its home field with a thrilling 44-41 win over LSU in Athens. Led by senior quarterback Aaron Murray (298 yards and four TDs),2 the Bulldogs rolled up 494 yards of offense and scored on all but three possessions. Trailing 41-37 late in the game, Murray led the Dawgs on a six-play, 75-yard game-winning drive that ended with a 25-yard scoring toss to Justin Scott-Wesley. Georgia completed its grueling early season schedule with a 2-1 record against top-10 opponents. Next Week: at Tennessee
33LSU (4-1, 1-1): There is no shame in losing by three points in Athens, but the Tigers have to feel they let one get away on Saturday afternoon. LSU grabbed its first lead of the game with 4:52 in the fourth quarter on a Jeremy Hill 8-yard run, but the Tigers’ defense allowed Georgia to march down for the decisive score on a six-play, 75-drive that lasted 2:27. Zach Mettenberger was once again outstanding for the LSU offense, throwing for 372 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions. Next Week: at Mississippi State
44Texas A&M (4-1, 1-1): As expected, Texas A&M had trouble slowing down Arkansas’ rushing attack. And as expected, the Texas A&M offense overwhelmed the Razorbacks’ defense. The result was a 45-33 Texas A&M win in Fayetteville, the Aggies’ ninth straight away from home. Johnny Manziel completed 23-of-30 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns, and five A&M ball-carries combined to rush for 262 yards on 44 attempts. It was the Aggies’ first trip to Fayetteville since 1990 when both schools were members of the now-defunct Southwest Conference. Next Week: Bye 
55South Carolina (3-1, 1-1): It was a struggle, but South Carolina picked up a solid road win, edging UCF 28-25 in Orlando. The Gamecocks, who trailed 10-0 at the half, seized control of the game with 28 unanswered points in the first 20 minutes of the second half. With quarterback Connor Shaw sidelined with a should injury, South Carolina turned to the running game, and Mike Davis delivered. The sophomore tailback picked up 150 of his 167 yards in the final two quarters and scored on runs of 53, 13 and 13 yards. Dylan Thompson completed 15-of-32 passes for 261 yards with no touchdowns and one interception in relief of Shaw. Both teams committed four turnovers. Next Week: Kentucky 
66Florida (3-1, 2-0): The Gators were solid on offense and dominant on defense in a 24-7 win at Kentucky. Making his first career start, junior quarterback Tyler Murphy completed 15-of-18 passes for 156 yards with one touchdown and one pick. The ground game was led by sophomore Matt Jones, who rushed for 176 yards on 28 carries. The Florida defense, as expected, shut down a suspect Kentucky offense. The Wildcats managed only 173 yards of offense, did not have a play longer than 25 yards and converted only 1-of-8 on third down. Next Week: Arkansas
77Ole Miss (3-1, 1-1): The red-hot Ole Miss offense ran into the nation’s No. 1 team. The results were not pretty. The Rebels were held to 205 yards of offense (3.6 per play) and were shut out for the first time since 1998 in a humbling 25-0 defeat at Alabama. Quarterback Bo Wallace completed 17-of-31 passes, but those 31 attempts netted just 159 yards. Alabama took away the Rebels’ zone-read game; Wallace rushed five yards on 12 carries with a long of 11 yards, and tailback Jeff Scott was held to 28 yards on eight carries. Next Week: at Auburn
88Auburn (3-1, 1-1): The Tigers had the week off to prepare for a visit from Ole Miss in key SEC West game that features two of the league’s top offensive coaches — Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze. Next Week: Ole Miss.
99Missouri (4-0, 0-0): Missouri completed its non-conference schedule with a 4-0 record after surging past Arkansas State 41-19. The Tigers fell behind 16-14 early in the third quarter but outscored the Red Wolves 27-3 the rest of the way. James Franklin continues to play well at quarterback for Gary Pinkel’s team. He completed 20-of-29 for 255 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. The Missouri defense gave up 425 yards and allowed 10-of-20 third-down conversions, but Arkansas State scored only one touchdown. Next Week: at Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt (3-2, 0-2): The Commodores played their most complete game of the season, dominating UAB from wire-to-wire in a 52-28 victory in Nashville. Vanderbilt had a 300-yard passer (Austyn Carta-Samuels), a 100-yard rusher (Jerron Seymour) and two 100-yard receivers (Jordan Matthews and Jonathan Kraus). Matthews, who had 115 yards and one touchdown on eight receptions, is now tied with Dan Stricker for first place on Vanderbilt all-time TD receptions list with 21. Matthews is also third in school history with 190 catches. Next Week: Missouri  

1111Mississippi State (2-2, 0-1): The Bulldogs had the week off after their impressive 62-7 win over Troy in Starkville on Sept. 21. Last week, coach Dan Mullen said the plan is for Tyler Russell to get the start next week against LSU. Russell has missed three games with a concussion suffered in the Bulldogs’ Week 1 loss to Oklahoma State. Next Week: LSU
1212Tennessee (3-2, 0-1): Tennessee appeared to be in complete control after taking a 31-7 lead on South Alabama early in the third quarter. But rarely do things come easy for the Volunteers these days. The Jaguars, in only their fifth year of football, trimmed the lead to 31-24 on a 3-yard run from Cris Dinham with 9:38 remaining in the fourth quarter. South Alabama had an opportunity to tie the game in the final minutes but was unable to punch it into the end zone despite having the ball 1st-and-goal from the 7-yard line. Safety Brian Randolph preserved the win for the Vols, intercepting a fourth-down pass in the end zone. Justin Worley played the entire game at quarterback, throwing for 204 yards with two TDs and three INTs. Rajion Neal was the offensive star for Tennessee, rushing for 169 yards on 25 carries. Next Week: Georgia. 
1313Arkansas (3-2, 0-1): The Razorbacks scored 33 points and had 483 yards of offense — numbers that in year’s past would have almost guaranteed a win at home in the SEC. But times are changing, and on most days four touchdowns will not be enough to beat Texas A&M. The Razorbacks made things interesting, twice trimming double-digit leads to one score in the second half but in the end Arkansas was unable to stop Johnny Manziel & Co. when it mattered most. The Aggies had 523 total yards, with 262 through the air and 251 on the ground. Next Week: at Florida
1414Kentucky (1-3, 0-1): The Wildcats marched 75 yards on 10 plays for a touchdown on their first drive of the game. Not much else went well for Kentucky on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium. UK had only 98 yards the rest of the way in a 24-7 loss to Florida. Maxwell Smith went most of the way at quarterback for the Cats but threw for only 90 yards on 20 attempts and was sacked four times. The Kentucky defense had trouble stopping the run, allowing Florida sophomore Matt Jones to gain for 176 yards on 28 carries. Next Week: at South Carolina

Offensive Player of the Week: Aaron Murray, Georgia
The spotlight could not have been brighter on Aaron Murray on Saturday afternoon. The game against LSU was a shootout from the start with LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, a Georgia transfer and former roommate of Murray’s, matching the Bulldogs quarterback pass for pass. Murray, though, came out on top by leading the game-winning drive in the final minutes of a 44-41 win over the Tigers. Murray finished 20 of 34 for 298 yards with four touchdowns and an interception in his second brilliant game in SEC play.

Defensive Player of the Week: C.J. Mosley, Alabama
It was hard to find an Alabama defensive player who did not shine on Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium, but we’ll give the nod to Mosley. The senior linebacker played a pivotal role in the Tide’s surprising shutout against Ole Miss. Mosley recorded seven tackles and made several key plays: He batted down a fourth-down attempt in the third quarter to thwart an Ole Miss scoring opportunity and tackled Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace for a safety early in the fourth quarter to increase the Tide’s lead to 18-0.

Team of the Week: Georgia
The Bulldogs took another step toward a third straight trip to the SEC Championship Game with a thrilling 44-41 win over LSU in a game that lived up to lofty expectations. Since losing at Clemson in Week 1, the Bulldogs have knocked off South Carolina and LSU at home to seize control of the SEC East race. Georgia rolled up 494 yards of offense, led by another terrific performance from quarterback Aaron Murray. The senior threw for 298 yards and four touchdowns for an offense that was forced to play without star tailback Todd Gurley in the second half. Georgia’s defense gave up 449 yards and 41 points but came up with a key stop late to preserve the win. 

Coordinator of the Week: Kirby Smart, Alabama
When you factor in the quality of the opponent, Alabama might have had the finest defensive performance of the season by an team in the nation this season. The Crimson Tide, torched for 628 yards two weeks at Texas A&M, allowed only 205 yards in a 25-0 win over high-powered Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa. The Rebels, who came into the game averaging 490.0 yards and 38.0 points, had no answer for the Alabama defense. Ole Miss averaged 3.6 yards on 57 offensive plays — 22 below its season average — and only had two drives that went for more than 30 yards.

Freshman of the Week: Alex Collins, Arkansas 
Collins bounced back from a subpar performance at Rutgers last week to rush for 116 yards on 14 carries (8.3-yard average) and one touchdown in the Razorbacks’ loss to Texas A&M. Collins has rushed for at least 100 yards in four of his five games and is averaging 6.0 yards per carry.

Fifth Down

• Texas A&M, which beat Arkansas in Fayetteville, has won nine straight games away from home. The Aggies have true road wins over Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi State, Auburn, Ole Miss and LSU, a win over Louisiana Tech in Shreveport, La., and bowl wins over Oklahoma (Cotton Bowl) and Northwestern (Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas).

• Mike Davis continues to shine for South Carolina. The sophomore tailback rushed for 167 yards on 26 carries in the Gamecocks’ 28-25 win at UCF. Davis is averaging 7.2 yards on his 71 attempts this season.

• Vanderbilt senior tackle Wesley Johnson was flagged for a holding penalty for the first time in his career in the Commodores’ 52-24 win over UAB. Johnson made his 43rd career start on Saturday night.

• Kentucky only had 47 offensive plays in its 24-7 loss at home to Florida. The Wildcats only had one possession in the first quarter and one possession in the fourth quarter.

• Matt Jones, Florida’s highly touted sophomore running back, enjoyed the finest day of his young career. Jones rushed for 176 yards and a touchdown and added three catches for 20 yards in the Gators’ win at Kentucky.

Post date: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/amazing-college-football-stats-week-5

Numbers and statistics are unquestionably a huge part of the game. Any game, for that matter.

Some fall on the sabermetric side of things, while others like to keep it simple and use the ol' eyeball test. In the football world, that means total offense, total defense and points scored versus points per play and defensive efficiency ratings. Rational and logical arguments can be made for the legitimacy and relevance of both sides of the stats spectrum.

With that in mind, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of college football action:

40-35: Lane Kiffin's career head coaching record
Lane Kiffin was the youngest head coach in NFL history when he was hired in 2007 by the Oakland Raiders. He lasted 20 games and went 5-15 before being ousted just four games into his second year. He worked a minor miracle in his first season at Tennessee, going 7-6 and nearly toppling eventual champion Alabama, before abruptly leaving for USC. Hampered by severe NCAA sanctions, Kiffin managed one quality year (10-2 in 2011) in three-plus seasons in Los Angeles. However, his teams are 10-8 (5-6 Pac-12) since the start of last season — when he was ranked preseason No. 1. He tied his own school record in his final game by allowing 62 points to Arizona State.

1: Time Ole Miss has won in Tuscaloosa
Alabama's defense came to play in a big way by continuing home dominance over the Rebels. Ole Miss is 1-32-1 all-time on the road against the Crimson Tide with the only win coming in 1988. Alabama has won the last 10 meetings overall and has outscored the Rebels 155-34 since 2009. The 25-0 beatdown was as impressive as Bama has been all season, holding an Ole Miss offense averaging nearly 500 yards, 38 points and 27 first downs per games to just 205 total yards, 11 first downs and zero points.

1,086: Miles from Stillwater to Morgantown
Oklahoma State made its first trip to Morgantown, W.Va., since 1928 and for just the second time in series history. The Cowboys were penalized 10 times and turned the ball over four times — more than the entire season combined until that point. There are few direct flights into Morgantown, so the long trip home for MIke Gundy after losing to his former offensive coordinator will be a bumpy one (even if he is riding in a private plane).

21-2: Sean Mannion's TD-to-INT ratio
The Oregon State quarterback is leading the nation in attempts (238), completions (160), yards (2,018) and touchdowns (21). In fact, only two players in the nation have thrown more than 14 touchdown passes — Mannion and Utah State's Chuckie Keeton (17). It makes the two interceptions that much more impressive. Mannion is efficient as well, completing 67.2 percent of his passes (23rd nationally) for a 165.9 passer rating (17th nationally). He has had to carry his team to wins all season but the Beavers sit at 2-0 in Pac-12 to start the year. He threw a school-record six touchdown passes in the easy win over Colorado on Saturday.

41.2: Average points per team in the SEC's three biggest games
It is safe to say the three biggest SEC games to this point of the season have been Georgia over South Carolina (41-30), Alabama over Texas A&M (49-42) and Georgia over LSU (44-41). These six teams combined to score 247 points or 41.2 points per game in these three games. On Saturday, the Bulldogs outlasted the Tigers with two defensive coordinators — John Chavis and Todd Grantham — making just under $1 million salary per year each. The offenses are great, in particular, the quarterbacks have been excellent. But this is starting to look a lot more like the Big 12 than the SEC.

13: Tyler Murphy consecutive completions to start the game
There will still be growing pains but the Gators appear to have found their quarterback. Murphy got his first career start on the road in Commonwealth Stadium and all he did was connect on 13 straight passes. He finished the game 15-of-18 for 156 yards passing, 36 yards rushing and two total touchdowns (one rushing). Should he be able to play consistent and efficient football like he has through two games, the Gators dominant defense will win most games. The nation's best third-down defense held Kentucky to 1 of 8 and gave up just 173 total yards. It was the 27th straight win over the Cats for the Gators, the longest such streak in the nation.

221:02: Game time that passed before UCF trailed in 2013
South Carolina's Dylan Thompson rolled right and scored from two yards out with 3:58 left on the clock in the third quarter of Saturday's 28-25 win over UCF. It marked the first time in four games that the Knights had trailed during 2013. Central Florida never fell behind Akron, FIU or Penn State and led South Carolina for the first 41:02 before allowing four straight touchdowns to the Gamecocks.

0: Passing TDs allowed by Washington State, Oklahoma and Wisconsin entering Week 5
Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Wazzu entered the weekend as the only three teams that had yet to allow a touchdown pass and they combined to allow nine in one weekend. The Badgers allowed four touchdown passes to Braxton Miller and Ohio State in their critical road loss. Washington State gave up three scoring strikes to Kevin Hogan in a blowout "neutral" field loss with Stanford in Seattle. And Oklahoma allowed Tommy Rees to connect on two touchdown throws. The Sooners, however, won their game in impressive fashion on the road in South Bend. For the record, only Iowa and Michigan have yet to allow a rushing touchdown on the season.

497: Rushing yards by New Mexico… in a loss
New Mexico had three players gain 100 yards rushing in the same game for the first time in school history. The Lobos rushed for 497 yards and five touchdowns on 59 attempts for an 8.4-yard per carry average and somehow managed to lose to UNLV. The Rebels outlasted New Mexico 56-42 with two late touchdowns, snapping UNLV's 23-game consecutive road losing streak. The Lobos rushed for more yards at halftime (400) than Washington State did in all of 2012 (349). 

Post date: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-25-college-football-week-5-2013
Aaron MurrayGeorgia made a statement with a signature win over LSU in Athens this weekend and jumped four spots to No. 6 in the Legends Poll.
Quarterback Aaron Murray led Georgia on a game-winning drive with just under two minutes remaining and the Bulldog defense held on for the 44-41 victory.
"I think (Murray) has been overlooked a little bit this year," former Georgia coach Vince Dooley said. "But I think he'll get more attention if he continues the pace he's on. He's had four outstanding games."
Alabama held on to the top spot for a third straight week, once again receiving 14 first-place votes. Oregon, Clemson and Ohio State followed, and Stanford made its first top five appearance of the season. With the loss, LSU dropped five spots to No. 10 in the rankings.
No. 12 Oklahoma moved up three spots with a commanding win at Notre Dame, and unbeaten Miami continued to climb the rankings at No. 13.
No. 20 Oklahoma State took the biggest tumble in the top 25, falling nine spots after dropping its first game 30-21 at West Virginia.
No. 22 Fresno State, No. 23 Arizona State and No. 25 Northern Illinois were newcomers to the poll this week.
Notre Dame, Ole Miss and Georgia Tech dropped out of the rankings.
To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll
1AlabamaAlabama (14)4-03981
2OregonOregon (2)4-03862
4Ohio StateOhio State5-03464
7Florida StateFlorida State4-03067
9Texas A&MTexas A&M4-12759
13Miami (FL)Miami (FL)4-020914
14South CarolinaSouth Carolina3-119113
20Oklahoma StateOklahoma State3-18711
21Texas TechTexas Tech4-05624
22Fresno StateFresno State4-041-
23Arizona StateArizona State3-140-
25Northern IllinoisNorthern Illinois4-026-

* The Legends Poll voting process is exactly what the BCS is trying to create and Athlon will bring it to you as the de facto Selection Committee for fans to follow over the next two seasons, allowing you to see how the Selection Committee will operate from 2014 onward.  You can see the entire Poll at


Post date: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Paul Pasqualoni
Path: /college-football/uconn-fires-paul-pasqualoni

After losing to Buffalo 41-12 on Saturday, UConn has fired coach Paul Pasqualoni. In three years with the Huskies, Pasqualoni was 10-18 and never reached a bowl.

Pasqualoni was an odd hire from the start and was never popular with fans.

Offensive line coach George DeLeone was also fired on Monday.

The Huskies had one of the best defenses in the Big East in 2011 and 2012, but the offense never managed to get on track.

UConn is 0-4 and still has to play Cincinnati, Louisville, UCF and Rutgers this year.

Post date: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-coach-hot-seat-rankings-post-week-5-edition

Who’s next? Even though the first month of the season just ended, college football’s coaching carousel is already in full effect.

USC pulled the plug on Lane Kiffin after Saturday’s loss to Arizona State, and UConn fired Paul Pasqualoni on Monday.

And USC and UConn could be the tip of the iceberg in terms of coaching changes, as Mack Brown is on the hot seat at Texas, which could create a domino effect when it comes to other coaches and job openings this offseason.

Outside of the BCS, Central Michigan’s Dan Enos, Miami (Ohio)’s Don Treadwell and Eastern Michigan’s Ron English are three coaches who could be out of a job by season’s end.
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 20-30 coaches, it’s all about the pressure on a program. While some coaches – like Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen and Indiana’s Kevin Wilson – 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 Brown2-2DeLoss Dodds steps down - is Brown next?
2Dan Enos1-4CMU not competitive against BCS teams this year.
3Don Treadwell0-4RedHawks averaging only 174.5 ypg on offense.
4Ron English1-3 
5Ron Turner0-4 
6Norm Chow0-4Warriors showed signs of life against Fresno State.
7Bo Pelini3-1Schedule very favorable until November.
8Jim Grobe2-3Demon Deacons struggling mightily on offense.
9Bobby Hauck3-2UNLV snapped 23-game road losing streak.
10Doc Holliday2-2 
11Skip Holtz1-4Bulldogs struggling in Holtz's first year.
12Charley Molnar0-4 
13Charlie Weis2-1 
14Jeff Quinn2-2Added job security with win over UConn.
15Carl Pelini1-4 
16Matt Rhule0-4Will Temple win a game?
17Rich Ellerson2-3 
18Dana Holgorsen3-2Big win for WVU on Saturday.
19Tim Beckman3-1Fighting Illini already surpassed last year's win total.
20P.J. Fleck0-5Still searching for first win.
21Dan Mullen2-2 
22Tony Levine4-0Cougars making progress in Levine's second year.
23Kirk Ferentz4-1Hawkeyes have won four in a row.
24Gary Pinkel4-0Good start - but SEC play begins on Saturday.
25June Jones1-3Schedule will get easier.
26Mike London2-2 
27Kevin Wilson2-2 
28Rick Stockstill3-2 
29Rocky Long1-3 
30Randy Edsall4-0 
31Sean Kugler1-3 
32David Bailiff2-2 
33Joey Jones2-2USA gave Tennessee a battle.
34Larry Blakeney2-3 
35Dan McCarney2-2 
36Dave Christensen3-2 
37George O'Leary3-1 
38Garrick McGee1-3 
39Frank Beamer4-1Don't count out Hokies in Coastal Division.
40Scott Shafer2-2 
41Bobby Petrino3-2 
42Tommy Tuberville3-1 
43Bill Blankenship1-3Is Tulsa trending in the wrong direction?
44Jim McElwain2-3Already halfway to 2012 win total.
45Bob Davie1-3 
46Ron Caragher1-3Lost 3 games by 19 points or more.
47Kyle Flood3-1 
48Steve Sarkisian4-0 
49Kyle Whittingham3-1 
50Rod Carey4-0NIU 2-0 against Big Ten teams this year.
51Paul Chryst3-1 
52Curtis Johnson3-2Green Wave on the right track.
53Todd Monken0-4 
54Terry Bowden1-4 
55Willie Taggart0-4Taggart inherited a mess.
56Brian Polian3-2 
57Larry Fedora1-3UNC off to disappointing start.
58Darrell Hazell1-4 
59Paul Haynes2-3 
60Ruffin McNeill3-1Huge win against UNC in Week 5.
61Bryan Harsin2-3 
62Troy Calhoun1-4AFA down to third QB.
63Doug Martin0-5NMSU not an easy job.
64Mike Leach3-2 
65Mike Riley4-1OSU has rebounded since loss to EWU.
66Dave Clawson4-1 
67Mark Helfrich4-0 
68Dennis Franchoine3-1Texas State quietly 3-1.
69Matt Wells3-2 
70Mark Dantonio3-1 
71Brady Hoke4-0 
72Bronco Mendenhall2-2 
73Butch Jones3-2 
74Trent Miles0-4 
75Frank Solich3-1 
76Mark Richt3-1 
77Paul Petrino1-4Got first win on Saturday.
78Paul Johnson3-1 
79Jerry Kill4-1 
80Dabo Swinney4-0
81Jimbo Fisher4-0
82Bob Stoops4-0
83Mark Stoops1-3
84Ken Niumatalolo2-1
85Al Golden4-0
86Matt Campbell2-3
87Bret Bielema3-2
88Gus Malzahn3-1
89Justin Fuente1-2 
90Brian Kelly2-2
91Dave Doeren3-1
92Steve Addazio2-2
93Sonny Dykes1-3
94Rich Rodriguez3-1
95Todd Graham3-1
96Jim Mora3-0
97Will Muschamp4-1
98Todd Berry2-3
99Mike MacIntyre2-1
100Paul Rhoads1-2
101Tim DeRuyter4-0 
102David Cutcliffe3-2
103Larry Coker2-3
104Les Miles4-1
105Pete Lembo4-1
106Gary Andersen3-2
107James Franklin3-2
108Mike Gundy3-1
109Hugh Freeze3-1
110Mark Hudspeth2-2
111Kevin Sumlin4-1
112Kliff Kingsbury4-0
113Gary Patterson2-2
114Bill Snyder2-2
115Chris Petersen3-2
116Bill O'Brien3-1
117Charlie Strong4-0
118Steve Spurrier3-1
119Art Briles3-0
120David Shaw3-0
121Pat Fitzgerald4-0
122Urban Meyer5-0
123Nick Saban4-0
NREd Orgeron0-0
NRT.J. Weist0-0

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Pac-12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

Post date: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-5-bowl-projections

West Virginia’s upset win over Oklahoma State on Saturday shook up the Big 12 power rankings, and also gave the Mountaineers a good chance to get bowl eligible. West Virginia doesn’t have a favorable schedule the rest of the way but still has to play Kansas and Iowa State – two games it should be favored in.

As West Virginia’s win over Oklahoma State illustrates, there’s a small margin of error when it comes to reaching six victories for some programs.

Another result from Week 5 that could have significant bowl implications was Notre Dame’s loss to Oklahoma. The Fighting Irish do not have a bowl tie-in for this season and were projected by most to reach a BCS game in 2013. However, with two losses, Notre Dame is unlikely to reach a BCS bowl. The Fighting Irish will find a spot as an at-large team, but they need some help from other conferences not filling all of their tie-ins.

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 only five weeks of results in the books, it's 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 5 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, Virginia, Mississippi State, Washington State, Arkansas and Illinois from BCS conferences. And Texas State, Arkansas State 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 5 Bowl Projections for 2013

New MexicoDec. 21Pac-12 vs. MWCUtah vs. Wyoming
Famous Idaho PotatoDec. 21MAC vs. MWCBall State vs. Nevada
Las VegasDec. 21Pac-12 vs. MWCOregon State vs. Fresno St
New OrleansDec. 21Sun Belt vs. CUSAUL Lafayette vs. Tulane
Beef 'O' Brady'sDec. 23American vs. CUSAOhio* vs. MTSU
HawaiiDec. 24MWC vs. CUSASan Jose State vs. Rice
Little Caesars PizzaDec. 26MAC vs. Big TenN Illinois vs. Minnesota
PoinsettiaDec. 26Army vs. MWCNotre Dame* vs. Boise St
MilitaryDec. 27CUSA vs. ACCMarshall vs. N Carolina
TexasDec. 27Big 12 vs. Big TenTCU vs. Iowa
Kraft Fight HungerDec. 27BYU vs. Pac-12BYU vs. Arizona
PinstripeDec. 28American vs. Big 12Cincy vs. West Va.
BelkDec. 28American vs. ACCRutgers vs. Ga Tech
Russell AthleticDec. 28American vs. ACCUCF vs. Va 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. Auburn
AlamoDec. 30Big 12 vs. Pac-12Okla. State vs. UCLA
HolidayDec. 30Pac-12 vs. Big 12Wash vs. Texas Tech
AdvoCare V100Dec. 31ACC vs. SECNC State vs. Tennessee
SunDec. 31Pac-12 vs. ACCArizona St vs. Maryland
LibertyDec. 31SEC vs. CUSAMissouri vs. E Carolina
Chick-fil-ADec. 31SEC vs. ACCMiami vs. Ole Miss
GatorJan. 1SEC vs. Big TenFlorida vs. Michigan St
Heart of DallasJan. 1Big Ten vs. CUSAKansas State vs. Tulsa
OutbackJan. 1SEC vs. Big TenS Carolina vs. Wisconsin
Capital OneJan. 1SEC vs. Big TenN'western vs. 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 BeltBGSU vs. Western Ky
National TitleJan. 6BCS vs. BCSAlabama vs. Ohio State

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10 Coaches to Replace Paul Pasqualoni at Connecticut
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Post date: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Pac 12
Path: /college-football/amazing-pac-12-college-football-stats-week-5

True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether its 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 5.

1: Arizona State looking to become first team to defeat USC and Notre Dame in consecutive weeks

In the history of USC and Notre Dame football, a team has played both programs in consecutive weeks on 12 separate occasions. No team has ever won both of those contests, giving Arizona State a chance to make history when it takes on the Fighting Irish in Arlington, Texas, this week. Only two teams gave themselves a shot to complete the double (Michigan State in 1987 and South Carolina in 1983) by winning the first game of the series but both went on to fall to Notre Dame by scores of 31-8 and 30-6, respectively. Arizona State was actually one of those 12 separate occasions. In 1998, the Sun Devils dropped both contests.

4: Sun Devils make it four straight with a pick-6 against Trojans
Alden Darby’s interception of USC quarterback Cody Kessler and subsequent 46-yard return for a score made it four straight meetings Arizona State has returned a pick for a score against the Trojans. Darby had a 70-yard INT return last season. Shelly Lyons collected a pick-6 in 2011 and Omar Bolden did so in 2010. Darby finished Saturday’s 62-41 win with two interceptions, a forced fumble and fumble recovery.

2 for 12: Cardinal defense collects two picks-6s in rout of Cougars
Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday is second in the nation in pass attempts (223) and tied with four others for the most interceptions thrown (9) this season. It had been 16 interceptions and a year since the junior had one returned for a score. Stanford’s Jordan Richards 30-yard touchdown interception return in the third quarter was the first such score against WSU since Oregon’s Avery Patterson picked off Halliday for a 34-yard TD return in their Sept. 29, 2012 meeting. Halliday was knocked out of the game with an ankle injury on Saturday. Eight plays later, Trent Murphy intercepted Austin Apodaca and collected the Cardinal’s second 30-yard TD return.

36: Stanford’s red zone-scoring streak halted at 36
The Cardinal had its string of 36 straight trips to the red zone with a score stopped in the second quarter of a 55-17 win against Washington State. The streak, which was the second longest in the nation, was snapped when Deone Bucannon intercepted Kevin Hogan in the end zone. The junior does remain the only active FBS quarterback to lead his team to nine straight wins in as many consecutive starts. 

5: Oregon State offense eclipses 30 for fifth straight game
Oregon State’s 44-17 win over Colorado made it five straight games for the Beaver offense scoring 30-plus points, a record for the program. The old mark of four was set in 2009. OSU (4-1) is averaging 41.6 points per game — 20th in the nation and fifth in the Pac-12. The 542 yards of offense the Beavers posted against the Buffaloes is a season high, and quarterback Sean Mannion threw for a school-record six touchdowns, along with 414 yards.

20: Colorado’s defense has forced 20 three-and-outs this year after 29 all of last season
It’s the little things that count for Colorado. In suffering their first loss of the season — a 44-17 defeat against Oregon State — the Buffaloes did manage to force the Beavers into six three-and-out drives. That makes 20 such stops for CU in three games after having accomplished the feat 29 times in all of 2012. Colorado ranks 12th in the nation and No. 1 in the Pac-12 in third down conversion defense (13-of-50 for .258).

40: Sankey’s school-record 40 rushing attempts paces Huskies in Pac-12 opener
Bishop Sankey, the nation’s leading rusher in yards per game, toted the rock a school-record 40 times in Washington’s 31-13 win over Arizona in a Seattle downpour. Sankey, averaging 151.8 yards per game, bested Corey Dillon’s old mark of 38 set in 1996. Sankey had 35 of his 40 carries in the first three quarters for 156 of his 161 yards. The national record for rushing attempts in a game is 58, set by Kansas’ Tony Sands in 1991. 

29 bests 31: Arizona’s first eight drives take 31 plays, net no points; next 29 plays produce 13
Arizona’s offense did itself no favors on their first eight drives at Washington. The 31 plays run produced 75 yards, no points, an interception, a safety and helped the Huskies score the first 11 points. The Wildcats finally put together successful drives to close out the first half and begin the second half — scoring touchdowns on both. They ended the first half with a 14-play, 84-yard TD drive, missed the PAT, and opened the second with a 15-play, 72-yard scoring drive.

32: Oregon backup running backs step in for injured Thomas, carry 32 times for 224 yards, 3 TDs
If there was ever a time for Oregon running De’Anthony Thomas to miss a game, it was against California and the Pac-12’s worst run defense (262.5 YPG). Thomas injured his ankle after returning the opening kickoff 27 yards, and gave way to sophomore Byron Marshall and freshman Thomas Tyner. Marshall, who had 29 carries for 196 yards over the first three games, finished 19-for-130 with two scores. Tyner, who had 12 carries for 80 yards and three scores in two games, added 13 carries for 94 yards and scored again.

90-plus: Cal offense racks up at least 90 plays for the fourth straight game
The Sonny Dykes’ era (1-3) at Cal has not brought a lot of wins yet, but it is bringing a lot more plays than Bears fans are used to. Cal ran 95 plays in its 55-16 loss to Oregon Saturday, marking the fourth time in as many games the Bears have run at least 90 plays. The Golden Bears average 94.8 plays per game. The Dykes offense is a far cry from the Jeff Tedford offense. Only three times in the last five years have the Bears run 80 plays — 88 against Stanford in 2009, 87 against Presbyterian in 2011 and 87 two games later against Oregon. Only 13 times in the last 50 games before Dykes arrived had Cal even run 70 plays a game.

Post date: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/arizona-state-unveils-new-flame-helmets-game-against-notre-dame

Arizona State takes on Notre Dame in a huge non-conference showdown this Saturday, and the Sun Devils unveiled a new helmet for their Week 6 contest.

Whether you love or hate this look, you have to say this is one of the more interesting designs released in recent years.

The pitchfork is still there, but Arizona State has added a few flames to go with its helmet this weekend.

Check out the Sun Devils’ new helmet:


Post date: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-superlatives-top-slashers

 The Big 12 may be the best league for slashers in college basketball. It’s at least going to be the home of the best slasher for a season.

Andrew Wiggins turned the Big 12 projections on their head when he announced for Kansas. The team without a returning starter may be the preseason favorite.

But you only need to look at some of the names on this list to consider why the Big 12 would be an exciting league without him. Baylor’s Cory Jefferson and Oklahoma State’s Le’Bryan Nash are among our top five slashers for 2013-14, and neither may be the best players on their own team.

Our list of the nation’s best shooters is the first in a series of superlatives to prepare you for the 2013-14 season. Each list and more can be found in the the Athlon Sports College Basketball 2013-14 Preseason Annual . The magazine hits newsstands this week with previews for every team in every conference, plus exclusive Q&As with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Louisville’s Russ Smith and UCLA’s Kyle Anderson.

Previous: Scorers | Next: Inside-Out

  2013-14 Superlatives: Top Slashers
1Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
6-8/200, Fr.
Wiggins single-handedly turned Kansas from a fringe top-25 team with no returning starters to a team knocking on the top five. In what’s probably his only year on campus, he could be the best freshman since Kevin Durant.
2Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke
6-4/190, So.
Sulaimon was a secondary option last season with Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry, but he showed plenty of ability to take over with 27 points against Boston College and 25 against Maryland. He’ll be a more versatile scoring threat on a team full of them this season.
3Jordan McRae, Tennessee
6-6/185, Sr.
One of the most valuable players in the SEC, McRae tried to will Tennessee to the NCAA Tournament, averaging 28 points per game during a five-game stretch late in the season. He averaged 37.7 minutes per game during the SEC season.
4Cory Jefferson, Baylor
6-9/220, Sr.
Jefferson is a big-time athletic forward who emerged as a senior, averaging 13.3 points and eight rebounds. If he carries his NIT performance (21.2 ppg in five games) to this season, Baylor shouldn’t be in the NIT again.
5Le’Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State
6-7/235, Jr.
The McDonald’s All-American needed two years to deliver on his promise (playing with Marcus Smart didn’t hurt, either). Nash started his career trying to play on the perimeter but adjusted to playing closer to the basket, averaging 14 points and 4.1 rebounds.
6Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
6-8/215, Sr.
One of the heroes of Wichita State’s Final Four run, Early averaged 16.2 points and 7.6 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament. He had little expectations as a junior college transfer last season. Now, he’s a major name.
7Alex Poythress, Kentucky
6-7/239, So.
Poythress could have left school to be a first-round NBA Draft pick but returned to school. He had an uneven year at 11.2 points and six rebounds per game, but he’ll be a key veteran for a team with national championship aspirations.
8Treveon Graham, VCU
6-5/215, Jr.
VCU ran a four-guard offense, putting Graham at the de facto power forward spot as he averaged 15.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. He may not need to do that as much with Florida State transfer Terrance Shannon in the frontcourt.
9Sam Dekker, Wisconsin
6-7/220, So.
The rare five-star freshman to sign with Wisconsin, Dekker helped the Badgers overcome the season-long injury to Josh Gasser. He’ll graduate from part-time status averaging 9.6 points and 3.4 rebounds to a potential Big Ten Player of the Year.
10Geron Johnson, Memphis
6-3/197, Sr.
The junior college transfer was a sparkplug for a team filled with high-profile four-year recruits. Johnson averaged 10.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists last season, and he’ll be a key player in a loaded backcourt.

Breakout to watch: LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State
Off-court concerns: P.J. Hairston, North Carolina
Mid-major star: Dwayne Evans, Saint Louis

Post date: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /nascar/dover-dominance-johnson-wins-tightens-nascar-chase-battle

“I think Jimmie is probably the most underrated champion we have in this industry. He is by far the most powerful driver over the course of the last 25, 35 years in this sport.”

Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Chad Knaus is not known for his use of hyperbole. Knaus is thoughtful, measured and well-spoken when interacting with the media. And the man’s a genius at his trade: making cars go fast.

So when the champion crew chief heaps that sort of praise on a driver — even if it’s his own — people have a tendency to stop, look and listen.

“He’s able to dig deeper, pull out his cape, make things happen in winning moments of these races that other people cannot do. It’s pretty spectacular,” Knaus continued.

His statements, of course, were directed at Jimmie Johnson, with whom Knaus has won 65 races and five NASCAR Sprint Cup titles. They said following another masterful performance by both driver and crew chief, this at Dover International Speedway, where the No. 48 team laid waste to the field, leading 243-of-400 laps in the AAA 400 en route to its first victory of the 2013 Chase. It was also Johnson’s record eighth career win on Dover’s high banks.  Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus

Despite the praise and the accomplishment — Johnson surpassed Richard Petty’s and Bobby Allison’s seven Dover wins on Sunday — it was his smooth, workman-like effort that has come to define a driver that will go down as this generation’s best in NASCAR.

“You’ve got to win when you’re at your best track,” Johnson said matter-of-factly. “That being said, we had to win here today. I think any points (gained) on the 18 (Kyle Busch) or the 20 (Matt Kenseth) would have been a very good day, (but) max points? It’s an awesome day.”

In order to score the win, Johnson had to outrun teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the event’s closing laps.

A caution flag 29 laps from the race’s conclusion brought the field to pit road. There, Knaus made the call to change two tires while many of the leaders — including Earnhardt — bolted on four. The quick work in the pits found Johnson lined up first, with the preferred outside groove, alongside Earnhardt. When the race resumed with 25 laps to go, Johnson eased out into the lead and never faltered, leading the rest of the way to score a .446-second victory.

“I felt like as we got (into) traffic, Jimmie was starting to struggle a little bit in the last couple of laps,” Earnhardt said. “My car actually got better the longer I ran and drove better. It wasn’t quite clicking just yet, (but) our car was starting to come around.

“I think the difference in the tires between our two cars was about to show. But the race is 400 laps.”

Johnson’s quest for a sixth title was bolstered by the win, as he leapt over Kyle Busch for second in the championship standings and gained six points on leader Matt Kenseth. Johnson sits eight points behind Kenseth; Busch is 12 back.

Kenseth, who has found success at Dover in the past, finished seventh after winning the first two Chase races. Busch was fifth, his third top-5 showing in NASCAR’s playoff.

“Overall, for how bad I felt like we struggled with the car, that was a decent finish,” Kenseth said. “(But) when you look up, it’s everybody that finished in front of you. (They are) all the cars that you’re racing for points.

“I feel like this is one of our best racetracks and you want to do better than seventh at one of your best tracks. Overall, it was a solid day, but we wished for a little more.”

While Busch gained two points on his teammate, Kenseth, the  fifth-place run still left him with a hollow feeling.

“It’s certainly appealing and you could be happy with it, but we’re a little disappointed at the same time,” he said. “We felt like we wanted to come in here, we wanted to run better — we could run better here. We have before, and we just could never really get the feel that I was looking for the whole weekend.”

With Kenseth, Johnson and Busch having separated themselves from the Chase pack, Dover’s race winner is narrowing his focus.

“My whole thought process was just how tough this championship’s going to be,” Johnson said. “They’re bringing their best and doing their best. You’ve got to deliver. That was my mindset when I was racing with both of those guys for three-quarters of the race.

“We need to win at our best tracks, and we did that.”

Follow Matt Taliaferro on Twitter: @MattTaliaferro

Photos by Action Sports, Inc.

Post date: Monday, September 30, 2013 - 14:00
Path: /college-football/10-coaches-replace-paul-pasqualoni-uconn

UConn became the second BCS school with a job opening this year, as coach Paul Pasqualoni was fired after an 0-4 start to the 2013 season.

The Huskies are off to an 0-4 start and was soundly defeated 41-12 by Buffalo in Week 5.

Despite his successful record at Syracuse (1991-2004, 107-59-1) Pasqualoni wasn’t a popular hire at UConn, especially since he was out of the college game for six years.

UConn is a solid job that should attract plenty of attention from candidates.

The Huskies were left behind in realignment but have the resources necessary to consistently compete for the American Athletic title.

Who will replace Pasqualoni at UConn? Here are 10 candidates, along with a few longshots to watch over the next few months.

10 Coaches to Replace Paul Pasqualoni at UConn

Rob Ambrose, head coach, Towson
Ambrose is a familiar name to UConn, as he served as the Huskies’ offensive coordinator from 2002-08 under Randy Edsall. Prior to his stint at UConn, Ambrose worked at Catholic for one season and served as Towson’s wide receiver coach from 1993-00. Ambrose took over as Towson’s head coach in 2009 and went 3-19 in his first two years. However, the Tigers are 21-7 in the last three seasons and won at UConn earlier this year. Towson is also ranked No. 3 in the FCS Top 25 after Week 5.

Don Brown, defensive coordinator, Boston College
Whether he’s been a coordinator or head coach, Brown has had plenty of success in his coaching career. The Massachusetts native began his career at Dartmouth in 1982 and spent one season with the Big Green, before working as a defensive coordinator at Mansfield (1983), then Dartmouth again from 1984-86, followed by a stop at Yale from 1987-92. Brown’s first head coaching gig was with Plymouth State, and he recorded a 25-6 mark from 1993-95. After serving as an assistant with Brown and UMass, Brown was hired as Northeastern’s head coach in 2000, recording a 27-20 mark in four seasons. In 2004, Brown was hired at UMass and went 43-19 and led the Minutemen to a FCS title appearance in 2006. The 57-year-old coach worked under Paul Pasqualoni from 2011-12 as UConn’s defensive coordinator.

Dave Clawson, head coach, Bowling Green
Clawson gets a bad rap for his one season as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator, but the New York native has been a successful head coach at three different stops. After starting 3-19 at Fordham, Clawson recorded three consecutive winning seasons and led the Rams to a playoff berth in 2002. Clawson was 29-20 in four seasons at Richmond and is 26-29 with two bowl appearances at Bowling Green. Clawson also has a background on offense, which should be attractive for UConn considering its recent struggles on that side of the ball.

Mario Cristobal, offensive line coach, Alabama
Cristobal was surprisingly fired at FIU after last season, but the Miami native should be a head coach again in the near future. In six years with the Panthers, Cristobal inherited an academic disaster and turned FIU into a Sun Belt contender, which included two bowl appearances. Even though Cristobal has spent most of his career in Miami, he worked at Rutgers from 2001-03 as an assistant under Greg Schiano. Despite his record at FIU, Cristobal is a good coach and is regarded as a strong recruiter.

Bob Diaco, defensive coordinator, Notre Dame
Diaco was one of the key masterminds behind Notre Dame’s run to the national championship game last season, as the Fighting Irish’s defense allowed only 12.8 points a game. For his work with the Notre Dame defense in 2012, Diaco earned the Broyles Award for the nation’s top assistant coach. The New Jersey native played at Iowa from 1992-95 and in addition to his tenure in South Bend, has stops as an assistant at Western Illinois, Iowa, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Virginia and Cincinnati. Diaco has no head coaching experience.

Turner Gill, head coach, Liberty
Gill didn’t work out at Kansas (5-19 from 2010-11), but he was regarded for his tenure at Buffalo, which included a MAC title in 2008. Gill’s final record with the Bulls was just 20-30 in four seasons, but the 8-6 mark in 2008 was Buffalo’s only winning year since 1997. Gill is 9-7 in two years with Liberty and the Flames nearly beat Kent State in the opener this season. The former Nebraska quarterback has ties to UConn, as athletic director Warde Manuel hired Gill at Buffalo.

Pete Lembo, head coach, Ball State
Lembo has been a successful head coach at three different stops and is due for a promotion to a BCS job. In five years at Lehigh, Lembo went 44-14 and had two playoff appearances. Lembo left for Elon in 2006 and guided the Phoenix to a 35-22 mark, with one playoff appearance in 2009. In three years with Ball State, Lembo is 19-11 and led the Cardinals to a bowl game last season. Is UConn a big enough jump for Lembo? Or will he hold out for a spot in the Big Ten?

Pat Narduzzi, defensive coordinator, Michigan State
Narduzzi is one of the early favorites to succeed Pasqualoni. The 47-year-old coach is a Connecticut native and is ready for a chance to run his own program. Narduzzi spent part of his playing career at Rhode Island and coached as an assistant with the Rams from 1993-99. Narduzzi has worked as a defensive coordinator since 2003, making stops with Miami (Ohio), Cincinnati and Michigan State. Under his watch, the Spartans have been one of the best defenses in the Big Ten. Narduzzi has no prior head coaching experience, but his ties to the area and resume make him a strong candidate.

Bob Shoop, defensive coordinator, Vanderbilt
Shoop wouldn’t be a big-name hire, but the Pennsylvania native is a name to watch in UConn’s coaching search. Shoop has spent most of his career in the Northeast, starting at Yale in 1989 and continuing with stops as an assistant at Virginia, Northeastern, Villanova, Army, Boston College, UMass and William & Mary. Shoop was Columbia’s head coach – a program without a winning record since 1996 – from 2003-05 and went 7-23 in three seasons. Under Shoop, Vanderbilt’s defenses have been among the best in the SEC, finishing fifth in the conference in yards allowed in 2012 and sixth in 2011.

Bobby Wilder, head coach, Old Dominion
Wilder hasn’t gotten enough credit for his work at Old Dominion, but he could be a name that pops up for job openings this offseason. The Monarchs restarted football after a 69-year absence in 2009, and Wilder was picked as the program’s coach. Under his watch, Old Dominion is 40-12 and made back-to-back playoff appearances from 2011-12. The Monarchs are transitioning to the FBS level and will join Conference USA in 2014. Prior to his tenure at Old Dominion, Wilder worked as an assistant at Maine from 1990-2006. Considering UConn’s recent offensive struggles, Wilder has to be an intriguing candidate if he’s interested. The Monarchs have averaged over 30 points a game in each of Wilder’s four seasons and led the FCS with an average of 45.2 points a contest last year.

Four Longshots

Joe Moorhead, head coach, Fordham
Moorhead is unlikely to get a call from UConn, but he has done a good job in two years at Fordham. The Rams were 6-16 in the two years prior to his arrival and are 10-5 under Moorhead’s watch. Fordham won at Temple earlier this season.

Tim Murphy, head coach, Harvard
Murphy’s name came up in connection with the Penn State job two years ago, and more FBS programs should take notice of the job he’s done at Harvard. The Crimson is 130-61 under Murphy’s watch and finished in the final FCS Top 25 poll five times. Before taking over at Harvard, Murphy was a head coach at Maine and Cincinnati.

Danny Rocco, head coach, Richmond
Rocco is an under-the-radar name to watch. From 2006-11, he guided Liberty to a 47-20 record and is 10-6 in two years with Richmond. The Spiders finished 18th in last year’s FCS poll and nearly upset NC State earlier this season. Rocco also has experience from stops as an assistant at Colorado, Tulsa, Boston College, Texas, Maryland and Virginia.

Greg Schiano, head coach, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Schiano is on the hot seat in Tampa Bay and may not return for a third season in 2014. If he doesn’t return to the Buccaneers, Schiano should get a look for college openings. From 2001-2011, Rutgers went 68-67 and recorded six bowl appearances under Schiano’s watch.

10 Coaches to Replace Paul Pasqualoni at UConn
Post date: Monday, September 30, 2013 - 13:45
Path: /college-football/arkansas-coach-bret-bielema-slips-and-falls-during-pregame-walk

The weather wrecked havoc in a couple of college football games on Saturday, and rain was prominent throughout the Arkansas-Texas A&M matchup.

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema found out the hard way about the wet conditions on Saturday, as the first-year coach slipped and fell during the pregame walk.

However, Bielema rallied and quickly regained his stride as he headed to the stadium.


Post date: Monday, September 30, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Boise State Broncos, College Football
Path: /college-football/boise-state-pulls-fumblerooski-against-southern-miss

Boise State has pulled off some impressive trick plays in recent years, and Saturday’s fumblerooski against Southern Miss was another highlight.

The Broncos were tied with the Golden Eagles in the first quarter but scored on this 10-yard touchdown run by receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes.

Quarterback Joe Southwick calmly handed the ball to Williams-Rhodes while the rest of the offense gave the appearance of still trying to get its alignment set for the play.

Post date: Monday, September 30, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/big-12-post-week-5-power-rankings-2013

The state of Oklahoma’s 1-1 record in Week 5 prompted a change at the top of the Big 12 Power Rankings.

But it also signaled we have no clue how the league race is going to shake out. Preseason conference favorite Oklahoma State lost 30-21 to West Virginia in a sloppy game in what appeared to be one of the Big 12’s weaker teams.

Oklahoma scored the biggest win for the Big 12 by defeating Notre Dame 35-21, but it’s not clear how much stock we should put in a win over a team that lost to Michigan and slogged its way through wins over Michigan State and Purdue.

For now, though, it’s enough to put OU at the top of the Big 12 for at least a week or at least until Baylor picks up a win against a quality opponent.

Big 12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

13Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0): Oklahoma made its statement in the 35-21 win at Notre Dame, ending a seven-game losing streak to the Irish. The run defense was not itself, allowing 220 yards. But the Sooners intercepted three passes and kept the pressure on Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees. The offense is in good hands under Blake Bell, who has completed 49 of 67 passes for 645 yards with six interceptions in his two starts. Why was he second-string in the first two games again? This week: TCU
22Baylor (3-0, 0-0): The Bears had their second off week in September, but West Virginia gave Baylor something to think about after shutting down Oklahoma State. Baylor still leads the nation in yards (751.3) and points (69.7) per game by a comfortable margin. This week: West Virginia
31Oklahoma State (3-1, 0-1): Is it time to be concerned for the Oklahoma State offense. In games against West Virginia and Mississippi State, the Cowboys scored only 21 points each. Neither team is a defensive juggernaut. The Mountaineers were the second team this season to hold Oklahoma State to fewer than 3 yards per carry. It had happened only twice in 35 games before this season. Quarterback J.W. Walsh also struggled, completing 20 of 47 passes with two interceptions, but Mike Gundy never went to Clint Chelf on his bench. This week: Kansas State
44Texas Tech (4-0, 1-0): Despite being undefeated, Texas Tech still needs to prove it belongs among the realistic conference contenders. Taking care of business against Kansas will help. Michael Brewer, the Red Raiders’ projected starting quarterback in the preseason, is nearing a return from injury, so that could make the next week interesting in Lubbock. This week: at Kansas
55TCU (2-2, 0-1): The Horned Frogs’ offense has looked lost for most of the season, but it came alive in a 41-point second half against SMU. After recording five plays of 10 or more yards in the first half (one resulting in a fumble), the Horned Frogs had 10 plays of 10 yards or more in the second, not including a 51-yard punt return and a 45-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on an onside kick. With defensive end Devonte Fields hurt, TCU still managed to force five turnovers and sack SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert seven times. This week: at Oklahoma
66Texas (2-2, 1-0): A win, an off week and a trip to Iowa State. That’s how things calm down around Austin. But don’t look now, the Cyclones just discovered a run game. This week: at Iowa State (Thursday)
78West Virginia (3-2, 1-1): The Mountaineers found something that worked with 21 changes on the depth chart against Oklahoma State. The defense has been one of the most improved units in the Big 12, and it appears the Mountaineers finally have their quarterback in Clint Trickett. Special teams, though, remain a major liability. Some answers, though, are better than none going into a game against the most explosive offense in the country. This week: at Baylor
87Kansas State (2-2, 0-1): Kansas State spent an off week recovering from the loss to Texas and looking for leadership. This week’s opponent may be just as wounded. This week: at Oklahoma State
910Iowa State (1-2, 0-0): The Cyclones had their best game of the season in a win over Tulsa on Friday as Iowa State’s run game was not a major liability for the first time all season. The 434 yards of total offense was a season high and was 166 more than the last time Iowa State faced Tulsa on Dec. 31 in the Liberty Bowl. This week: Texas (Thursday)
109Kansas (2-1, 0-0): Two bad signs for Kansas: The only FBS team the Jayhawks beat this season, Louisiana Tech, lost 35-16 at home to Army. And the team that beat Kansas this season, Rice, needed a fourth-quarter rally to beat FAU at home. This week: Texas Tech


Big 12 Week 5 Recap and Awards

Offensive player of the week: Blake Bell, Oklahoma
The Sooners defense set the tone with two early interceptions against Notre Dame, but Bell was key in preserving the 35-21 win. Bell was stuffed on a couple of “Belldozer” short yardage situations, but he still finished 22-of-30 for 232 yards and two touchdowns in his first career road start. He also rushed for 59 yards on 12 carries.

Defensive player of the week: Sam Carter, TCU
The safety Carter was all over the field in an impressive defensive effort against SMU despite the absence of star defensive end Devonte Fields. Carter finished with five tackles, two interceptions and forced fumble and a sack in a 48-17 win.

Team of the week: Oklahoma
Who knows how a win at Notre Dame will look at the end of the season, but for now, it’s the best the Big 12 has. Oklahoma’s win in South Bend was the Big 12’s first over a ranked opponent, though the Irish won’t be ranked after the loss. The Sooners picked up the best non-conference win for the league in a game that was rarely in doubt. OU had three first-half interceptions and then protected the lead with 212 rushing yards

Freshman of the week: Ty Slanina, TCU
In a quiet week for Big 12 rookies, Slanina stands out. The freshman from East Bernard, Texas, caught three passes for 63 yards against SMU, including the 20-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to take a lead.

Coordinator of the week: Keith Patterson, West Virginia
The West Virginia offense is a work in progress to put it kindly, but the defense is vastly improved since last season. Oklahoma State amassed 433 yards against the Mountaineers, but West Virginia forced three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble), returning one pick for a touchdown in the 30-21 win. West Virginia held Oklahoma State to 6 of 20 on third down and turned in a successful goal-line stand in the fourth quarter against a team that converted all 15 of its red zone opportunities to touchdowns.

Fifth Down

• Oklahoma beat Notre Dame for the first time in eight tries. The Sooners last beat Notre Dame in 1956.

• West Virginia started its third quarterback of the season in Clint Trickett. The Florida State transfer completed 24 of 49 passes for 310 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions but still looked like the best Mountaineers quarterback this year.

• In a special teams disaster, kickers in the West Virginia-Oklahoma State game went a combined 3 of 7, including misses for 23 and 34 yards and a blocked attempt. West Virginia’s special teams were particularly bad, losing five yards on three punt returns and amassing an average of 9.7 yards on three kickoff returns.

• TCU had four interceptions against SMU, giving the Horned Frogs nine interceptions in two seasons against the Mustangs and nine picks in the last three games of 2013.

• TCU’s 31 points in the fourth quarter against SMU was the most in a fourth quarter by any FBS team this season.

• In Friday’s 38-21 win over Tulsa, Iowa State finally found a threat in the run game in back Aaron Wimberly. The junior college transfer carried 19 times for 137 yards, the most for a Cyclones tailback since Sept. 1, 2012.

• Iowa State was in the right place at the right time by recovering three fumbles, including two by sophomore defensive end Nick Kron.


Post date: Monday, September 30, 2013 - 07:00