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All taxonomy terms: Sergio Garcia, Tiger Woods, Golf
Path: /golf/10-amazing-stats-players-championship

Some Twitter comedian observed that Tiger Woods apparently retained ownership of Sergio Garcia in his pre-nup with Elin. That's harsh, but this much remains clear: Even after his perceived struggles of the last few major-less seasons, Tiger is far more prepared for the big moment than Garcia.

Fourteen years after their memorable duel at the 1999 PGA Championship, their respective careers have taken wildly divergent paths. After yesterday's win at The Players Championship, Woods now has 78 career PGA Tour wins. Sergio has had his moments — eight Tour wins, 10 Euro wins, various Ryder Cup heroics — but did anyone really think that Sergio would survive the 17-18 gauntlet yesterday? The golf gods simple weren't going to allow it, especially after Garcia's Saturday whining about Tiger distracting him.

The amazing numbers from the weekend's festivities:

4 With the win, Tiger Woods is only four wins behind all-time PGA Tour wins leader Sam Snead, who won his final Tour event at age 52. Tiger is 37. I think he has time to get there.

13 Garcia required 13 shots to navigate the final two holes at TPC Sawgrass, following up his quad at 17 with a double-bogey 6 at 18, where he rinsed another ball.

12 The win was Woods' fourth of the 2013 season, marking the 12th season of his career with four wins or more. Think about that: For most players, four wins denotes a career-making year. Tiger's had 12 of them.

53-4 Woods ran his career record to 53-4 when holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead. He's the Mariano Rivera of golfers; give him the lead, and it's Enter Sandman.

300 Woods won the 300th start of his career. He also won the 100th and 200th starts of his career. Tiger apparently likes round numbers.

26 Tiger has now won 26 percent of his career PGA Tour starts. More than a quarter of the time he's teed it up, he's won. For reference, after his 300th start, Jack Nicklaus had 54 wins, a winning percentage of .180.

+13 The day was not without drama, thanks largely to Woods' double bogey at 14. For his career, Woods is 13-over par on that hole.

10 TPC Sawgrass has historically not been terribly friendly to Tiger. This year marked the first time in 10 years that Woods completed four par-or-better rounds in one Players.

4 Woods has his fourth victory, and it's only May 13. It's the earliest in a season that Woods has ever earned his fourth win.

3.25 Yesterday, the infamous par-3 17th claimed its share of victims. Players navigated the 137-yard hole in an average of 3.25 strokes on Sunday, the highest of the week. On Thursday, the average was 3.08; on Friday, 2.97; and on Saturday, 3.03. Of course, Sergio's 7 at the hole skews the Sunday average slightly.

<p> Tiger Woods Wins, Sergio Gags, and All Is Well on Tour</p>
Post date: Monday, May 13, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/texas-am-or-lsu-which-team-finishes-higher-sec-west-2013

With Alabama expected to be the No. 1 team in most preseason polls in 2013, combined with potential top-10 teams in LSU and Texas A&M, the SEC West should be one of the deepest divisions in college football. That also doesn’t include an improving Ole Miss squad, and Arkansas and Auburn – two teams that should also get better under the direction of new head coaches.

Texas A&M took the SEC by storm last season, winning 11 games and upsetting Alabama 29-24 in Tuscaloosa. The Aggies return a good chunk of personnel from last year, but the defense is a question mark.

LSU was predicted by most to be a top-five team in 2012 and may have underachieved with a 10-3 record. The Tigers have some key personnel losses on defense and need more from quarterback Zach Mettenberger. 

The 2013 college football season is still over 100 days away, but it’s never too early to start talking predictions and expectations for each team going into 2013.

Athlon Sports’ college football top 25 countdown for 2013 is officially underway. To provide some insight into the selections and rankings for 2013, Athlon’s editors will be debating some of the hottest topics from the preseason throughout May.

Texas A&M or LSU: Which Team Finishes Higher in the SEC West in 2013?

Jon Cooper, lead writer and editor Saturday Down South, (@JonSDS)
Texas A&M and LSU open in 2013 with the same goal: dethrone the Crimson Tide. The Tigers are the prom queen who has been around for a few years and will always be a contender, while Texas A&M is the sexy new transfer who’s getting the most attention.

LSU just presents more questions. The offense is going through a transition in coordinators, the defense lost six starters and arguably the SEC’s best back in Jeremy Hill may not even play in 2013 because of legal issues. And we haven’t even started talking about LSU’s hellacious schedule, which features five preseason ranked teams and includes road trips to Alabama and Georgia.

Texas A&M should finish first or second in the West, depending largely on the outcome of the Alabama game. The Aggies should score 40 points or more per game, and the schedule sets up nearly perfect, with just two preseason ranked teams. Obviously losing five front seven starters on defense is a major concern, but anytime teams score the way Texas A&M does, they will always be in the game. The weak schedule alone screams more wins, and add in Johnny Manziel and an electrifying offense, and it makes it even tougher to bet against the Aggies.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Texas A&M has a much greater chance of matching last season’s 6-2 record in the SEC while I would be surprised to see LSU match last year’s performance in the conference. The Aggies are hoping for a national title run, a prospect that may be too optimistic without a playmaker on defense like Damontre Moore. But the Aggies still have Johnny Manziel, who again will be a great equalizer in the league. LSU just has too much rebuilding to do to expect six SEC wins against a schedule that includes road trips to Alabama and Georgia, plus Florida and Texas A&M at home. LSU reloads every year on defense, but have really seen the Tigers need to replace this much muscle on that side of the ball? Kevin Minter, Eric Reid, Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo, plus the ace special teams duo of Brad Wing and Drew Alleman, are all gone. Even Alabama would have trouble recruiting well enough to make a seamless transition with that many losses. 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
I don’t think this debate is even close. Texas A&M will finish ahead of LSU and could challenge for an SEC West title while the Bayou Bengals could lose as many as four games. Every team in the SEC could be as good or better in 2013 than it was in 2012 with the exception of LSU. A massive exodus of talent, a mediocre starting quarterback and improving SEC schedule leads me to believe that the Tigers will once again underachieve. The Aggies, too, must replace some big names — Joeckel, Swope, Moore, Porter — but have the core of their 10-win team back, including a superstar quarterback. Many around the league are concerned about the overall direction of the LSU program since the national title loss to Alabama and the rest of the SEC has gained significant ground on the Tigers. Games at Georgia, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama are nasty while home games with Florida, Texas A&M, Auburn and Arkansas provide plenty of challenges as well. And if TCU catches Les Miles’ bunch napping in Week 1, things could unravel quickly in Louisiana. Gig ‘Em.

Josh Ward,, (@Josh_Ward)
LSU will have home-field advantage when the two teams play in Baton Rouge on Nov. 23, but Texas A&M will face a more favorable schedule in league play. LSU has the misfortune of having to play Florida and Georgia, the top two teams in the Eastern Division in 2012. Texas A&M will play Missouri and Vanderbilt from the East, a pair of opponents much easier to handle. Texas A&M also gets Alabama at home while LSU has to travel to Tuscaloosa.

LSU and Texas A&M both have to replace several key starters on defense. The advantage for Texas A&M lies on offense, starting at quarterback. Johnny Manziel returns from his Heisman season with more offensive weapons around him. The addition of transfer running back Brandon Williams and wide receiver signee Ja’Quay Williams (no relation) will make Manziel’s job even easier. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger returns with a year of experience, but he doesn’t present the same kind of threat to opposing defenses as Manziel.

Texas A&M’s depth of talent on offense and less-challenging conference schedule should help the Aggies finish higher than LSU in the SEC West.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Despite question marks about the defense and the loss of left tackle Luke Joeckel to the NFL Draft, I like Texas A&M to finish ahead of LSU in the SEC West. Quarterback Johnny Manziel may not have the monster season that he had in 2012, but the sophomore is still the SEC’s No. 1 quarterback and will be a handful for opposing defenses. The backfield is one of the deepest in the nation, and the offensive line should be solid with the return of Jake Matthews, Jarvis Harrison and Cedric Ogbuehi.

The biggest concern for Texas A&M is a defense that ranked ninth in the SEC in yards allowed and loses end Damontre Moore and linebackers Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart. However, the Aggies have a favorable schedule, as they miss Georgia, Florida and South Carolina in crossover play, and Alabama visits College Station on Sept. 14.

While the Aggies have some fairly significant personnel issues on defense, the Tigers could be without running back Jeremy Hill for an extended period of time, quarterback Zach Mettenberger is a question mark, and the defense returns only three starters. LSU has a challenging schedule, including a non-conference game against TCU and crossover SEC matchups against Georgia and Florida.

LSU will reload and should end up with eight or nine wins by the end of 2013. However, the Tigers will finish behind Texas A&M and could be pushed by Ole Miss for third place in the SEC West. 

Mark Ross
Texas A&M will have to venture into Tiger Stadium for the first time since 1994 to play LSU, but the Bayou Bengals have both Georgia (road) and Florida (home) as their crossover games in conference play. The Aggies' East opponents this season are Vanderbilt (home) and Missouri (road). The Bulldogs and Gators went a combined 23-4 overall and 14-2 in the SEC last season and will enter this fall as preseason top 10 teams. The Commodores and Tigers from the SEC East went a combined 14-11 overall and 7-9 in conference play in 2012 and only Vandy will receive any top-25 preseason consideration. Who do you think has the advantage here when it comes to schedule?

If that's not enough, Texas A&M gets Alabama at home, while LSU will travel to Tuscaloosa to face the two-time defending national champions. Yes, the Tigers were victorious the last time they played in Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2011, but don't forget the Aggies won there last season too. Last I checked, the man largely responsible for that impressive victory is still playing quarterback for A&M. Johnny Football may not win the Heisman again, but I expect him to lead the charge as the Aggies show for a second straight season they belong in the SEC by finishing ahead of the Tigers.

Related College Football Content

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Ranking the SEC Running Backs for 2013

Ranking the SEC Quarterbacks for 2013

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Ranking All 125 College Football Coaches for 2013

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<p> Texas A&amp;M or LSU: Which Team Finishes Higher in the SEC West in 2013?</p>
Post date: Monday, May 13, 2013 - 08:15
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-25-greatest-dynasties-ap-era

Dynasty is a word that gets tossed around all too liberally by fans and media members alike. However, there are periods of time in sports where the term is not only applicable but completely accurate. The NFL had the Packers of the '60s, the Steelers of the '70s, the 49ers of the '80s, the Cowboys of the '90s and the Patriots of the '00s. The NBA has the Celtics, Lakers, Bulls and soon-to-be Heat dynasties. Baseball has the Yankees and… the Yankees. And John Wooden and the UCLA Bruins basketball program might be the greatest sports dynasty of all-time.

Defining a "dynasty" can be done many different ways and, for the most part, lies in the eye of the beholder. Generally speaking, elite level dominance over a period of time — ideally, the longer the better with championships to show for it — is how "dynasty" is defined. Awards, NFL talent, championships and statistical records are all considered as well. 

College football fans around the nation are just a few months away from the final season of the BCS era. When the season kicks off August 28 in Nashville, Tenn., the University of Alabama will be attempting the first-ever three-peat in BCS history and is looking for its unprecedented fourth national championship in five years.

The 2013 season aside, Nick Saban’s recent run with the Crimson Tide must be considered one college football’s greatest dynasties. But it is No. 1?

Athlon Sports ranks the Top 25 greatest college football dynasties since the AP Poll debuted in 1934:

1. Oklahoma Sooners (1948-58): 107-8
Legendary head coach Charles “Bud” Wilkinson began a miraculous run in his second season at Norman. Over this 11-year span, Oklahoma had four undefeated seasons, six with just one loss and only one year (1951, 8-2) in which it lost more than one game. The Sooners claimed three national championship (1950, '55, '56), all 11 conference championships and one Heisman Trophy winner (Billy Vessels, 1952). The most impressive aspect of this dynasty? Two of the top 10 longest winning streaks in NCAA history, including the the all-time mark of 47 straight victories from 1953-57. Oklahoma also won 31 straight from 1948-50, which ranks 10th all-time in the record books. Oklahoma's historic run in the 1950s was the most dominant dynasty in college football history.

2. Nebraska Cornhuskers (1993-97): 60-3
Is winning more than 95 percent of your games a good thing? That is what Tom Osborne did at Nebraska over his final five seasons. Led by arguably the greatest college quarterback of all-time in Tommie Frazier, the Big Red posted four unbeaten regular seasons, all of which culminated in a trip to the national championship game. One loss to Florida State in the ’93 Orange Bowl is the only thing that kept the Huskers from four national championships in five seasons. A huge upset in the inaugural Big 12 title game to Texas was one of just three losses during this stretch. This Nebraska run produced the 19th longest winning streak in NCAA history with 26 straight wins from 1994-96.

3. Miami Hurricanes (1986-92): 78-6
On the heels of Howard Schnellenberger’s 1983 championship, Miami returned to the promised land under Jimmy Johnson in 1987 and Dennis Erickson in 1989 and '91. Over this seven-year span, the Canes lost less than one game per season, moved into the Big East and won two Heisman Trophies with Vinny Testaverde (1986) and Gino Torretta (1992). The 29-game winning streak that was snapped by Alabama in what was Miami’s fifth national title game appearance in seven years is the 13th longest streak in NCAA history. From 1983-92, Miami posted a record of 107-14.

4. Alabama Crimson Tide (2008-present): 61-7
There is more than one dynasty in Crimson Tide history, but it’s tough to argue that Saban’s run isn’t the most impressive. After nearly 20 years without a title and against the most ruthless conference ever built, Alabama claimed the national championship and the school’s first-ever Heisman Trophy in 2009. The undefeated ’09 team is arguably the most talented Alabama team ever constructed. Then, after a 10-3 year in 2010, the defense and quarterback A.J. McCarron have dominated college football’s biggest stage with a combined 63-14 drubbing of LSU and Notre Dame in the past two BCS National Championship Games. A narrow loss in the 2008 SEC title game to Tim Tebow and Florida after a 12-0 regular season is the only thing keeping Alabama from going for its fifth title in six years. The most interesting tidbit about this five-year dynasty? Alabama has won more national championships (3) than SEC titles (2).

5. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1941-49): 75-7-6
Led by the great Frank Leahy — who took a two-year leave to serve in the U.S. military — Notre Dame won four national championships (1943, '46, '47, '49) and posted five unbeaten seasons during this remarkable nine-year window. From 1946-49, Notre Dame didn’t lose a game and only tied twice — costing the Irish a fifth national title in 1948. Leahy coached three Heisman Trophy winners in Angelo Bertelli, Johnny Lujack and Leon Hart during this dynasty.

6. USC Trojans (2002-08): 82-9
Led by Pete Carroll, the USC Trojans won seven straight Pac-10 conference championships, won two national championships (2003, '04), claimed three Heisman Trophy winners (Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush), put countless players into the NFL Draft and tied Miami for the longest modern winning streak. The 34-game run from 2003-05 is sixth all-time and ended when Vince Young scampered around the right end in the greatest game ever played. The Men of Troy never won fewer than 11 games for seven straight years. Was this team tainted by an NFL agent wannabe scandal well after the fact? To some degree, however, it wasn't a recruiting violation that impacted a competitive advantage. No matter how you view the Reggie Bush issues, this USC dynasty was one of the best in college football history. 

7. Miami Hurricanes (2000-03): 46-4
Butch Davis built it and Larry Coker finished it off. On what many believe to be the best team ever assembled — as its 17 first-round picks indicate — Miami won four straight Big East championships and one unbeaten national title in 2000. This team came up one pass interference call against Ohio State from back-to-back national crowns, and, at one point, rattled-off 34 straight wins. The winning streak was the longest since Wilkinson’s 47-gamer in the late '50s and is still tied for the sixth-best in NCAA history.

8. Alabama Crimson Tide (1961-66): 60-5-1
In Bear Bryant’s fourth season (1961), the historic coach returned Alabama to the top of college football’s hierarchy with an 11-0 national title. He went on to lose just five games over the next five seasons, including two more national championships (1964, '65) and another unbeaten season (1966). Hall of Famer Joe Namath, the “greatest player [Bear Bryant] ever coach,” spearheaded this team for three years (1962-64) to a 29-4 record as a starter. This remarkable six-year run — with three national and four SEC crowns — built the foundation for legend that is Bear Bryant.

9. Army Black Knights (1944-49): 49-2-4
Under historic head coach Earl “Red” Blaik, the U.S. Army dominated college football for the better part of the decade. While the nation was captivated by the ongoing World War in Europe, the Knights steamrolled college football. This team won three consecutive national titles (1944-46) led by an All-Heisman backfield of Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis. Blaik posted five unbeaten seasons in six years.

10. Florida State Seminoles (1992-2000): 99-11-1
Few teams have ever dominated a conference like the Seminoles did in the ACC during the 1990s. Bobby Bowden’s team never finished outside of the AP top four and won all nine ACC championships during this span. His team played in five national titles games, winning the whole thing in 1993 and '99 behind eventual Heisman winners Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke respectively.

11. Oklahoma Sooners (1973-80): 73-7
The Sooners' second dynasty took place just a decade later when Barry Switzer took over in 1973 as head coach. He began his tenure with eight consecutive conference titles, two national championships (1974, '75) and a Billy Sims Heisman Trophy (1978). During this span, OU never lost more than two games in a season and posted a 28-game winning streak, which ranks 15th all-time in NCAA history.

12. Alabama Crimson Tide (1971-79): 97-11
Bear Bryant’s second dynasty began seven years after his last one ended. Alabama won eight SEC titles in nine years and claimed the 1973, '78 and '79 national championships. Alabama’s school-record 28-game winning streak began in ’78 and ended three seasons later in 1980 — most of which took place during this dynasty. The 1979 championship featured the best record in school history (at that time) at 12-0 and gave Bryant his third and final unblemished campaign.

13. USC Trojans (1967-79): 122-23-7
One of the longer dynasties on this list, these Trojans were led first by John McKay (1967-75) and then John Robinson (1976-79). The tandem won four national championships (1967, '72, '74, '78), nine conference crowns and two Heisman Trophies (O.J. Simpson, Charles White) over the 13-year period of time.

14. Florida Gators (2006-09): 48-7
Urban Meyer posted three 13-1 records in a four-year span and the only time he didn’t win 13 games, Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy (2007). This dynasty featured two national titles in 2006 and '08 and came up one game shy in 2009 of what would assuredly have been a third championship.

15. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1964-73): 69-15-4
The Ara Parseghian era got started with a bang when the first-year coach won the 1964 national championship as John Huarte won the Heisman. The Irish would go on to win two more titles (1966, '73) before the legendary coach would step down following the 1974 season.

16. Texas Longhorns (1961-70): 89-17-2
The Longhorns won three national championships and six conference titles under Darrell K. Royal during the '60s. This team also won 30 straight games, good for 12th all-time in NCAA history. Royal had seven seasons of one loss or less during this span.

17. Minnesota Golden Gophers (1934-41): 54-9-1
Starting right when the AP Poll debuted, the Golden Gophers were one of the first true dynasties in college football. Hallowed coach Bernie Bierman won five national championships and lost just nine games during the eight-year span. Minnesota won all but one Big Ten crown from 1934-41.

18. Oklahoma Sooners (2000-08): 102-19
Head coach Bob Stoops led the Sooners back to the promised land in just his second season by claiming the 2000 BCS national title. During this nine-year run, Oklahoma played in four national title games, won five conference championships and claimed two Heisman Trophies.

19. Ohio State Buckeyes (2002-10): 99-17
Jim Tressell returned Ohio State to the pinnacle of college football with an unbeaten 2002 team. He then won six more Big Ten titles and a Heisman Trophy (Troy Smith) over the next seven years while playing in two more BCS title games.

20. Michigan Wolverines (1940-48): 68-13-2
Coached mostly by Herbert “Fritz” Crisler, Michigan won four Big Ten championships and two national titles during the 1940s. This team rattled off 25 straight wins from 1946-49 and posted two unbeaten seasons — coached by Crisler and Beenie Oosterbaan (1948).

21. Texas Longhorns (2004-09): 69-9
Over this six-year span, Texas averaged more than 11 wins per year and played in two national championship games — including winning the greatest game ever played in 2005. Mack Brown lost one bowl game during this span.

22. Ohio State Buckeyes (1954-70): 118-34-5
Woody Hayes had two five-loss seasons during this span but few coaches can claim five national championships in any amount of time much less 17 seasons.

23. Nebraska Cornhuskers (1969-72): 42-4-2
Head coach Bob Devaney won two national titles, posted a 23-game winning streak and lost just four games in his last four years in Lincoln.

24. Georgia Bulldogs (1980-83): 43-4-1
Vince Dooley had one of the best four-year runs in SEC history when he lost just four games, won three SEC championships and claimed the 1980 national title.

25. BYU Cougars (1979-85): 77-12
LaVell Edward’s high-flying, revolutionary offense rolled through opponents until the pollsters finally awarded BYU with the 1984 national championship.

Best of the Rest:

Clemson Tigers (1981-91): 100-24-5
Danny Ford and Ken Hatfield combined for a national title and six ACC crowns.

Tennessee Volunteers (1949-52): 36-4-2
General Robert Neyland led the Vols to two national titles and just four losses in four years.

LSU Tigers (2003-07): 56-10
Nick Saban and Les Miles combined for two national championships, returning LSU to prominence.

Michigan State Spartans (1950-53): 35-2
Head man Biggie Munn led the Spartans to two titles and just two losses in four seasons.

Boise State Broncos (2006-11): 73-6
Constantly beat the big boys — Okla., Oregon (twice), Georgia, Virginia Tech, Utah (twice), Oregon St (twice) and TCU. Won four WAC titles with two unbeaten seasons.

Virginia Tech Hokies (1999-2011): 132-39
Posted 11 10-win seasons, won five conference titles and played in the BCS title game in '99.

TCU Horned Frogs (2008-11): 47-5
Claimed three MWC championships while also beating Stanford, Wisconsin and Boise State (twice).



Ranking All 125 College Football Head Coaches for 2013

Ranking the Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

<p> College Football's Top 25 Greatest Dynasties of the AP Era</p>
Post date: Monday, May 13, 2013 - 07:45
Path: /college-football/oklahoma-states-clint-chelf-big-12s-best-quarterback-2013

The Big 12 should have one of the most wide-open battles at quarterback for first-team all-conference honors in 2013.

TCU’s Casey Pachall is back after a suspension, but he isn’t guaranteed the starting job. Oklahoma’s Blake Bell has a lot of talent and should thrive in his first year as the No. 1 quarterback. However, he has yet to prove he can consistently beat defenses with his arm.

Texas Tech’s Michael Brewer is another intriguing name to watch. But just like Bell, Brewer does not have a start under his belt.

With the uncertainty surrounding the other options, is Oklahoma State’s Clint Chelf poised to become the top quarterback in the Big 12? 

The 2013 college football season is still over 100 days away, but it’s never too early to start talking predictions and expectations for each team going into 2013.

Athlon Sports’ college football top 25 countdown for 2013 is officially underway. To provide some insight into the selections and rankings for 2013, Athlon’s editors will be debating some of the hottest topics from the preseason throughout May.

Oklahoma State ranks as the No. 16 team in Athlon's Top 25 Countdown for 2013.

Is Oklahoma State's Clint Chelf the Big 12's Best Quarterback for 2013?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Chelf is going to have to put more distance between himself and J.W. Walsh before becoming the Big 12’s top quarterback. Walsh, a more credible running threat, had better efficiency numbers in his stint as the starter, but Chelf drew the tougher starting assignments against Kansas State and Oklahoma. Chelf -- or Walsh, for that matter -- will play in a proven system, but another QB in the league could just as easily take first-team all-conference honors. TCU’s Casey Pachall has much to prove. First, he’ll have to prove he can quarterback his team after leaving midseason to deal with substance abuse. Second, he’ll have to prove he can beat Big 12 teams. He’s 16-2 as a starter with a 35-to-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio, but he hasn’t faced a Big 12 defense tougher than Kansas in 2012 or Baylor in 2011. Texas’ David Ash started last season on a hot streak. If he can carry the same over the course of a full season, he could be the top QB in this league. And I’m not ready to write off new quarterbacks at Oklahoma, Texas Tech or Baylor. Chelf may be the clubhouse leader in May, but there will be plenty of competition by November and December. I’m just not sure where it comes from.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Since he may not even be the best quarterback on his own team, I have to say no. Oklahoma State's system is the real star as it produces numbers no matter who is under center. For me, this battle comes down to Casey Pachall at TCU and Blake Bell at Oklahoma. Bell is a monster who will wow scouts with his size, mobility and arm. He has 24 career rushing touchdowns before even starting one game and has arguably the best supporting cast in the league. Two years ago, Pachall made fans in Ft. Worth nearly forget about Andy Dalton by taking over and producing from the word go. He was second in the Mountain West (Kellen Moore) in passing efficiency as just a sophomore. Pachall was off to an elite start last year — two 300-yard games in his first four — before getting suspended indefinitely for off-the-field issues. If he can stay the course off the field, he might be the Big 12's most talented quarterback — and could be a Big 12 champion by season's end. 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Projecting who will be the Big 12’s No. 1 quarterback at the end of 2013 is no easy task. With Collin Klein, Geno Smith, Landry Jones, Seth Doege and Nick Florence all departing, there’s no clear top signal-caller returning to the conference.

Although Clint Chelf has yet to start a full season, he is my pick to be the No. 1 quarterback in the Big 12. Outside of Chelf, TCU’s Casey Pachall, Oklahoma’s Blake Bell or Texas Tech’s Michael Brewer are in consideration for first-team honors. However, Pachall is locked into a tight battle with Trevone Boykin for the starting nod, while Brewer and Bell have yet to make a start. Bell is an intriguing option, but he has yet to prove he can be a consistent passer.

With Wes Lunt transferring, Chelf is clearly the No. 1 quarterback in Stillwater. After taking over the job late in the season, the senior averaged 256.1 yards per game and tossed 14 touchdowns over the final six contests. Chelf had a good performance against Baylor (333 yards) and threw for 253 yards and one score against Oklahoma.

There’s no sure-fire candidate to be the No. 1 quarterback in the Big 12 or the preseason favorite to be picked as first-team all-conference. However, with one of the nation’s top receiving corps returning and a solid offensive line, Chelf should post huge numbers in 2013, along with leading Oklahoma State to a Big 12 title.

Mark Ross
Even though Chelf should be able to put up big numbers leading a Cowboys offense that led the Big 12 in scoring and finished second in total yards last season, I am going to take TCU's Casey Pachall as the conference's top quarterback this season. Pachall is hoping to write a fairy-tale ending to what started out as a tragedy when he left school last October following some off-the-field issues related to substance abuse. Fortunately for Pachall, he got the treatment he needed and has worked hard to his earn second chance.

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<p> Is Oklahoma State's Clint Chelf the Best Quarterback in the Big 12 for 2013?</p>
Post date: Monday, May 13, 2013 - 07:30
Path: /nascar/denny-hamlin-makes-nascar-return-darlington-raceway

1. Darlington celebrates a pair of 10-year milestones, good and bad
Darlington Raceway is the first place NASCAR ever raced on pavement, all the way back on Sept. 4, 1950. That event, the first Labor Day Weekend Southern 500, saw Johnny Mantz win his only NASCAR race as he beat Fireball Roberts and 73 other competitors by at least nine laps.

Saturday night's race will also be known as the Southern 500, but it'll mark the 10th season of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing at Darlington without the race being held on the traditional end of summer weekend. NASCAR's shift of that race initially to a November date in 2004 and then completely off the schedule in favor of a second Auto Club Speedway race in 2005 remains one of its most controversial decisions of the past decade.

The race name returned to Darlington for the now-annual Mother's Day weekend race, but much of a the tradition hasn't. The Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend carried a certain swagger thanks to its holiday weekend placement and typically unforgiving daytime temperatures. It was a race every driver wanted to win thanks mostly to the cachet it awarded.

Saturday night's race also marks the 10th season since Darlington produced arguably the most riveting finish in the last decade, if not further. During the 400-mile 2003 spring race, Kurt Busch and Ricky Craven bounced off one another for much of the final three laps. Their tires worn and their cars growing ever more damaged, the pair came together for a final time exiting Turn 4 on the final lap.

Craven nipped Busch at the line by .002 seconds — a mark tied for the closest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finish in history.

2. Denny Hamlin’s big return
Denny Hamlin's return to the driver's seat of his No. 11 a week ago at Talladega Superspeedway was short-lived, a bit contrived and ultimately unsuccessful in helping him claw back toward Chase for the Sprint Cup competition. Friday at Darlington, however, should mark the return of a full-time Hamlin to the series following his back injury at Auto Club Speedway on March 24.

He couldn't return to a better track, personally. Hamlin has a sterling average finish of 5.9 on the egg-shaped oval, and has led more than 50 laps in three of his seven Darlington starts. To follow up his career-worst 13th-place Darlington finish in 2009, Hamlin responded with his only win there in 2010.

Last year, Hamlin led 56 laps before falling to Jimmie Johnson by .781 seconds.

Saturday night's start marks the beginning of a critical stretch for Hamlin if he wants to bounce back from missing four starts so far in 2013 and qualify for the season's title fight. He's now 31st in points, 76 points behind 20th place and a possible wild card birth.

Should Hamlin nab a couple of wins and get inside the top 20 by Richmond in September, he'd be in excellent position to continue his seven-year streak of Chase qualifications.

"There is a formula," Hamlin said. "When this happened and we started figuring things out of missing races, if we just did what we did last year we would make it. But nothing is a given."

<p> Five storylines to follow as the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit heads to Darlington Raceway for the Bojangles' Southern 500.</p>
Post date: Friday, May 10, 2013 - 10:50
All taxonomy terms: College Football, NFL, NBA
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-11-links-day-may-6

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for May 10.

• Leading off today's Essential 11: They're triplets, former South Alabama cheerleaders, now bikini models. You're welcome. 

Turns out the Heat fan who enthusiastically gave Joakim Noah the finger has an interesting back story.

• Maxim put out its Hot 100 list. It's kind of a strange ranking. No. 1 (Miley Cyrus) is highly debatable. No. 69 (Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend) doesn't even exist.

• They rule the SEC West. So how does Alabama's 2013 schedule compare to Texas A&M's? Bad news: They're both easy.

• Speaking of Alabama, Nick Saban doesn't have time for Bob Stoops' anti-SEC blathering. He's too busy dominating.

• Speaking of Texas A&M, they're planning to make Kyle Field pants-wettingly loud.

• I'm old, so a list of the greatest old athletes is a must-link.

• Earlier in the week, Steeler Ryan Clark said that Tom Brady "sees ghosts" under pressure. Apparently Clark woke up with a horse head in his bed, because now he says that Brady is "the greatest living American."

• Frivolous lawsuit of the day: Dr. Phil is suing Deadspin for spoiling part 2 of his interview with the Manti Te'o hoaxer. If spoilers are a sue-able offense, they'll have to shut down the internet.

That Thunder dancer accused by a blogger of being chunky could remain silent no longer.

• Is this Japanese kid the next Usain Bolt? That's kooky talk, but 10.01 is impressive for a 17-year-old.


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

May 9

Angels pitcher CJ Wilson has reportedly snagged himself some weapons-grade WAG, supermodel Lisalla Montenegro. Nothing eases the sting of a crappy start like getting engaged to a supermodel. I assume.

A Blues fan supports the team in a unique way. I would prefer face-painting.

This Miami Heat fan tells Joakim Noah that her team is No. 1.

• Don't know if they planned it, but this digital Tim Duncan photobomb is tremendous.

• Everything's coming up Pitino. Now he's reeled in a huge marlin.

• There's an art to flopping. These 20 floppers haven't mastered it.

• Who says Michael Bay is a lousy director? It was his idea to put Megan Fox on a trampoline. That's genius at work.

Vijay Singh vs. the PGA Tour: Who ya got?

• I make fun of women's basketball as much as the next jerk, but this is some pretty sick shooting.

The umps botched a home-run call in last night's Indians-A's game. All this needed was George Brett going nuts and threatening the ump with bodily harm.

Coming out of spring practice, the SEC's top two teams are in the West.

• Today's video features a Peyton Manning-directed pie in the face on live TV.

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

May 8

• They make those annoying stoppages in play a little more enjoyable: Coed presents the dancers of the NBA Conference semifinals.

• Lots of people love "Bull Durham." I'm not one of them, but if you are, you might be interested to learn 10 things you probably didn't know about the movie, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

So Tiger Woods got hammered at the Met Gala after-party at New York's Boom Boom Room and embarrassed his new girlfriend Lindsey Vonn. She's probably embarrassed that her new arm candy can't hold his liquor. The photos of a leering, bleary-eyed Tiger are priceless. 

A stupid NFL rule will prohibit the Bears' top pick, Kyle Long, from participating in OTAs. Apparently the NFL's been taking notes from the NCAA.

• The league that gave us Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson and Marcus Lattimore has more to offer this season at the running back position.

• Sports has its own version of one-hit wonders: athletes who are defined by one play. Hey, one is better than none. Just ask the Macarena guys.

• A waterskiing baby? A waterskiing baby.

• One of Jalen Rose's keys to playoff success: Make sure your wife and your girlfriends don't cross paths.

A fan blew off some steam at a snooker match.

• This is always a fun genre: First-pitch fails, this one courtesy of some international pop star I've never heard of.

• Marcell Ozuna lost a fly ball in the lights. Fortunately for him, it landed several rows into the outfield bleachers.

• Kevin Durant should be outlawed. No one should be able to do things like this.

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

May 7

• Looks like Carrie Underwood (pictured) is replacing Faith Hill as the voice of the Sunday Night Football intro. Makes sense.

Last night, basketball, hockey and baseball happened. Guess I shouldn't have watched Real Housewives with the wife.

• A couple weeks after asking everyone to honor their privacy, Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn hit the red carpet last night.

Five former SEC players are already impressing their new bosses in rookie camp.

One NFL scout calls Johnny Manziel a "marginal pro." He probably said the same thing about Russell Wilson.

A generous fan put on a show for the refs at the Red Wings game last night.

• Wow. Looks like TBS is horning in on future Final Four coverage.

20 game endings that made you say, WTF just happened?

One of Joel Hanrahan's offerings last night was juuust a bit outside.

Forbes released its list of Most Influential Athletes. No. 1 is currently unemployed. Good news, everybody — you don't need a job to be influential.

Today's lesson: Know your urine donor.

• It was 24 years ago today. The legend of Michael Jordan took a quantum leap with The Shot, when he proved that, unlike Craig Ehlo, the laws of gravity didn't apply to him.

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

May 6

FHM's list of the sexiest women in the world included several athletes, WAGs and sports announcers. Fortunately, Kate Upton once dated Justin Verlander, so she continually pops up on lists like this one.

• Here's something nice and depressing for a Monday morning: 20 athletes who made boatloads of cash while doing nothing.

• This is some sort of weird cannibalistic imagery: A dog dressed as a hot dog, eating a hot dog.

Jaguars fans have gone straight to the top in their efforts to get Tim Tebow on their team. In related news, if only Mike Ditka still coached a team, Tebow would have a job today.

• It's a Brave New World out there: The SEC Network has ushered in a new era of college sports.

• Talk about big shoes to fill: The top 20 SEC draft picks, and who has to replace them.

• This stuff has been around awhile, but it's still funny: Legendary outdoorsman Bill Dance's blooper reel.

A 39-year-old grandma tried out for the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. She made it to the final cuts.

• Gregg Popovich compared Steph Curry to Michael Jordan. Curry wondered about Pop's sobriety level.

• It wasn't quite Hendrix at Woodstock, but Metallica performed the national anthem before a Giants game.

• Today's video is for all you fans who watch NASCAR just for the wrecks. Kurt Busch got airborne this weekend.

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

<p> Rounding up the web's best sports links so you don't have to.</p>
Post date: Friday, May 10, 2013 - 10:42
Path: /college-football/georgia-south-carolina-or-florida-who-wins-sec-east-2013

With three likely top-10 teams in 2013, the battle to win the SEC East is going to be one of the most heated conference battles in college football.

Georgia is the defending East Division champ, but South Carolina and Florida each have a strong case to be picked as the division favorite.

The Gamecocks return the best player in college football in defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and manhandled Georgia 35-7 in Columbia last year.

Florida finished 11-2 last season, and Will Muschamp seems to have the Gators moving in the right direction. However, the defense lost a few key performers, and the offense still has no proven playmakers at receiver.

The 2013 college football season is still over 100 days away, but it’s never too early to start talking predictions and expectations for each team going into 2013.

Athlon Sports’ college football top 25 countdown for 2013 is officially underway. To provide some insight into the selections and rankings for 2013, Athlon’s editors will be debating some of the hottest topics from the preseason throughout May.

Georgia, South Carolina or Florida: Who Wins the SEC East in 2013?

Jon Cooper, lead writer and editor Saturday Down South, (@JonSDS)
What a loaded question to speculate on in May, but I’ll bite. The schedule screams South Carolina; the eye test yells Georgia, and Florida says don’t count me out, either.

But ever since Aaron Murray announced he was returning for his senior season, I’ve contested that Georgia should be the favorite. After all, they host South Carolina the second week, and the winner will immediately become the in-season favorite. The offense will be loaded again with the return of Murray, Todd Gurley and eight other starters, including all five offensive linemen.

I know what you’re thinking – how can Georgia be the favorite with losing so many NFL defensive stars? Well, they didn’t exactly play like NFL studs in 2012. In fact, they weren’t even a top-five overall defense, nor were they ranked even a top-ten rushing defense in the SEC. Egos, missed assignments and NFL dreams clouded the ‘12 Dawgs. A younger, inexperienced defense is an exciting new challenge, and overall, even though I’m in the minority, I think the defense will improve upon last season.

Georgia is my May favorite!

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Florida’s offense is still too one-dimensional, and the Gators flirted with disaster too many times during an 11-2 season for me to feel to comfortable picking Will Muschamp’s team. South Carolina finally got the edge from the schedule-makers in 2013, facing Mississippi State and Arkansas from the West while Georgia plays LSU on the road and Auburn. Still, I’m going with Georgia to win the East again. The offense should be the best in the SEC other than Texas A&M. Aaron Murray, Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall and five offensive line starters are back on a team that led the nation in yards per play at 7.09 (Texas A&M was No. 2 by a hundredth of a yard). The defense is young and underachieved last season despite plenty of high draft picks. That needs to change for Georgia to be a title-contending team, but Florida and South Carolina have more flaws to overcome. Besides, Georgia already has proven it can win the SEC East despite problems on defense.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
All three teams are excellent and will be within one or two games of each other, but I am taking the South Carolina Gamecocks to break through in 2013. The defensive line is the best in the nation, quarterback Connor Shaw is wildly underrated and, packaged with Dylan Thompson, will provide plenty of spark on offense. Finally, the schedule finally sets up for Steve Spurrier. There is no LSU, Alabama, Texas A&M or Ole Miss — the best four teams in the West. Meanwhile, games with Florida and Mississippi State come at home in Williams-Brice Stadium. It likely means that the division crown will be decided on the trip to Georgia in Week 2. However, Carolina has owned the Dawgs of late, winning three straight over UGA by a combined score of 97-55. The Cocks have scored 80 points in the last two against what was considered one of the best defenses in the nation. A win Between the Hedges and Carolina finally has an inside track on a legitimate shot at its first SEC Championship. 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
All three teams – Georgia, South Carolina and Florida – could be ranked in the top 10 of most preseason polls. And the winner of this race should be in the mix to play for the national title, provided it beats the champion of the SEC West in Atlanta.

Although a strong argument could be made for each team, I have to go with Georgia as my favorite to win the SEC East. The Bulldogs return one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in Aaron Murray, and the one-two punch of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall may be the best running back tandem in college football. There’s plenty of talent in the receiving corps, while the offensive line should be better with everyone coming back for 2013.

The biggest question mark for Georgia is a defense that must replace eight starters. Linebackers Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree were the biggest losses, but don’t overlook the absence of linemen John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers, as both were key cogs in the line last season. Despite having only three starters back, I think Georgia’s defense will be fine this year, especially if linebacker Jordan Jenkins, cornerback Damian Swann and safety Tray Matthews continue their development from spring practice.

Another reason to like Georgia: The Bulldogs host South Carolina in the SEC opener for both teams.

Mark Ross
Both divisional races in the SEC should be fairly entertaining, but the East may offer the most intrigue and potentially play the biggest role in determining the national title outcome. If things go according to plan, Alabama will hold off Texas A&M and other challengers in the West division to advance to the SEC championship game in Atlanta yet again. There it will be up to whichever team ends up representing the East to put an end to any three-peat talk as a loss by the Crimson Tide would, in all likelihood, keep them out of the BCS title game.

To that end, who will emerge from the East with a chance to potentially dethrone mighty Alabama? I'll go with Georgia and its experienced quarterback, Aaron Murray, who has an opportunity to make his last season in a Bulldog uniform special. The knock on Murray during his career has been his inability to win the "big one," despite the fact he will more than likely own the majority of the SEC's passing records when he's done. The defense lost a lot of NFL talent, but the cupboard is far from bare and maybe a perceived lack of star power, if you will, is just what this unit needs to perform on a consistent level throughout the season.

Florida and South Carolina have some pretty stout defenses of their own, but I'll take Murray, and the Bulldogs' running game for that matter, over what the Gators and Gamecocks have at their disposal on offense. One thing's clear, though, should Georgia make me look good and make it to the SEC title game, Mark Richt's crew will have earned it. The Bulldogs open the season at ACC favorite and possible national title contender Clemson followed by a visit from South Carolina, a game on the first Saturday of September that could very well end up determining who wins the East. LSU also is on the conference slate as well as the always-anticipated Cocktail Party showdown with Florida in Jacksonville on Nov. 2. The road won't be easy, but I like the Bulldogs' chances of making this season one for the memory and record books.

Related College Football Content

Will Missouri Make a Bowl Game in 2013?
Ranking the SEC Running Backs for 2013
Ranking the SEC Quarterbacks for 2013

Will Tennessee Make a Bowl in 2013?

Ole Miss or Mississippi State: Who Wins More SEC Games in 2013?

Ranking All 125 College Football Coaches for 2013

Ranking the SEC Head Coaches for 2013

College Football's Top 10 Assistant Coaches on the Rise for 2013

College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

College Football's Top 10 Defensive Players on the Rise for 2013

<p> Georgia, South Carolina or Florida: Who Wins the SEC East in 2013?</p>
Post date: Friday, May 10, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/oklahoma-or-texas-which-team-will-have-more-wins-2013

With uncertainty looming over the top of the Big 12 in 2013, should Texas and Oklahoma still be considered the favorites? Or is it Oklahoma State or TCU? What about Kansas State or Baylor?

All six teams should be in the middle of the Big 12 title picture, but Texas is the biggest wildcard. The Longhorns have the talent to win the league but underachieved last year.

The Sooners lost a handful of key players, including quarterback Landry Jones, receiver Kenny Stills, left tackle Lane Johnson and safety Tony Jefferson. Despite the personnel losses, Oklahoma still remains one of the top teams in the Big 12.

Is Texas ready to reclaim the top spot in the Big 12? Or is Oklahoma still a safer pick to have more wins in 2013?

The 2013 college football season is still over 100 days away, but it’s never too early to start talking predictions and expectations for each team going into 2013.

Athlon Sports’ college football top 25 countdown for 2013 is officially underway. To provide some insight into the selections and rankings for 2013, Athlon’s editors will be debating some of the hottest topics from the preseason throughout May.

Texas ranks No. 18 in Athlon's Top 25 poll for 2013. Oklahoma checks in at No. 17.

Oklahoma or Texas: Which Team Will Have More Wins in 2013?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
The 2013 season looks like the point where Texas and Oklahoma will trade fortunes. Texas’ defense can’t be as bad as it was a year ago, especially with Jordan Hicks, Dalton Santos and Peter Jinkens stabilizing the linebacker group. That’s going to improve the run defense, and the dearth of experienced quarterbacks in the Big 12 will make it a little bit easier than it was a year ago. No more Landry Jones, Geno Smith, Seth Doege or even Nick Florence. That makes David Ash a grizzled veteran by comparison. Now, he just needs to play with more consistency. Meanwhile, Oklahoma has a tough schedule with Notre Dame in South Bend early (Texas gets a more manageable matchup against BYU on the road). The Sooners also catch Baylor and Kansas State on the road in November, which will be tough matchups at that point in the year, to say nothing of a trip to Stillwater.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Give me the Horns. And, as usual, it will likely come down to the Red River Shootout — as well as one nasty non-conference game. Road trips to Notre Dame, Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma State are brutal for the Sooners and will likely provide two losses. Meanwhile, Texas visits BYU, TCU, Iowa State, West Virginia and Baylor. Both are difficult schedules, but I will give Texas a slight edge in this department. They will win their tough non-con road game (BYU) while Oklahoma will lose (Notre Dame). So the question becomes has the Burnt Orange closed the 63-21 gap on the Crimson and Cream from a year ago? With most of the key players returning to Austin and most of the key players departing Norman, I will take the Horns both to finish 9-3 as Texas wins the tie-breaker by winning Shootout at The Texas State fair.

Allen Kenney,
Let's set aside the actual Red River Shootout for a second and look at all the other games that these two rivals play.

Oklahoma will need to replace some key contributors from recent teams -- most notably quarterback Landry Jones and defensive stalwart Tony Jefferson -- and do so while facing a flat-out nasty schedule. OU's slate includes road trips to Notre Dame, Baylor, Kansas State and a season finale in Stillwater against Oklahoma State, which seems to be emerging as the consensus favorite to win the conference. The Sooners also catch what should be a dangerous TCU team the week after the game in South Bend. Even the supposed cupcakes on the schedule, Louisiana-Monroe and Tulsa, aren't exactly gimmes.

On the other hand, if Mack Brown can't get Texas back on track this year, he never will. The Longhorns return a ton of experience at all the key positions. More importantly, the schedule sets up awfully well for UT. A road game at BYU should provide a decent early test. There are also trips to TCU and Baylor on the docket. All in all, Texas has a pretty friendly road to travel, most of which will be paved through Darrell K. Royal Stadium.

Call the Red River Shootout a toss-up. I think that probably caps OU's possible win total at 10. Texas would actually have a decent shot at winning all 12 regular season games. As such, I'd bet the Longhorns end up with more wins this fall.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Can I say a tie? I wouldn’t be surprised to see both teams finish with the same amount of wins (9 or 10), but I have to give Oklahoma a slight edge over Texas.

The Longhorns have a slightly more favorable non-conference schedule, especially since Oklahoma has to play at Notre Dame, while Texas’ toughest game outside of the Big 12 is at BYU.

In conference play, the Longhorns might have a slight edge, as Texas has to play at TCU and Baylor, while Oklahoma has to play at Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma State.

While I’m giving Texas a slight edge in the conference and non-conference schedule portions, I still think the Sooners end up with more victories. Oklahoma should go 3-1 in non-conference play, with wins in Big 12 action against TCU, West Virginia, Texas, Kansas, Texas Tech, Iowa State and either Kansas State or Baylor. Although Texas has a favorable path in Big 12 contests, I think the Longhorns could lose at TCU, at Baylor, home against Oklahoma State and the Red River Rivalry matchup against Oklahoma.

Mark Ross
Texas' non-conference slate, which is highlighted by a road game at BYU and a visit from Ole Miss, appears to be a little tougher than Oklahoma's. The Sooners go to South Bend, Ind., to play Notre Dame in late September, but they can't afford to overlook Tulsa at home two weeks earlier either. Both teams play the same conference schedule, with OU having road games against Kansas State and in-state rival Oklahoma State to close out the regular season, while the Longhorns will have to go to Forth Worth to play TCU and Morgantown, W.Va., to take on the Mountaineers.

It wouldn't surprise me one bit if this two-team race ends up getting decided by the Red River Rivalry matchup, which will take place on Oct. 12, but don't lose sight that both the Sooners and Longhorns will have to go to Waco, Texas, to play Baylor this season. The Bears should be fairly dangerous once again on offense, and always seem to play at their best at home. In the end, I think Oklahoma finishes one or two wins ahead of Texas, thanks in large part to a fourth straight Red River Rivalry victory.

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<p> Oklahoma or Texas: Which Team Will Have More Wins in 2013?</p>
Post date: Friday, May 10, 2013 - 07:40
Path: /college-football/top-25-national-broadcasting-jobs-sports

If you could have any national sports broadcasting job in sports, what would it be? Do you want to be at the games and travel all over the country? Do you want to be a studio host with a more stable work schedule? Do you want to become extremely popular in one niche field or cover a wide range of all sports? Are ratings more important than content?

There are many different ways to value sports broadcasting jobs, but Athlon Sports has tried to rank the best national sports broadcasting jobs in the industry today.

1. Sunday Night Football (NBC)
Who: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya

Preceded by “Football Night in America” with Bob Costas and Dan Patrick, NBC is home to the best broadcast job in sports. The NFL is the biggest dog on the block and Sunday night is the biggest night in television viewing. Put them together and you get the best gig in sports broadcasting — both as a studio show and play-by-play booth.

2. PGA Tour on CBS
Who: Jim Nantz, Nick Faldo, David Feherty, Gary McCord, Peter Kostis

There are plenty more names who broadcast the PGA Tour for both CBS and others like ESPN. But CBS gets two of the four Majors — namely Sunday at The Masters — as well as more than a dozen other key tournaments. Doing play-by-play for one or two holes each year at Augusta alone makes this job one of the best in the business.

3. Monday Night Football (ESPN)
Who: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters

“MNF” used to be the top job in the business. However, Sunday Night viewing has taken over and the inability of flex scheduling has taken the edge off of the final broadcast of any NFL weekend. It is still clearly one of the most highly sought after jobs in the business — just look at Gruden’s contract with ESPN.

4. ESPN’s College Gameday
Who: Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit

The best college football show in the business began as a small studio show in 1987 and has blossomed into the weekly traveling circus that it is today. There is no preview show for any sport that comes close to the pageantry, fan interaction, entertainment value and insightful commentary that "College Gameday" can deliver. And its why Corso (1987), Fowler (1990) and Herbstreit (1996) have been together for more than 15 years.

5. SEC Game of the Week (CBS)
Who: Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Holly Rowe

The biggest sport in this country outside of the NFL is college football. And the best conference in college football is clearly the best in the nation. So when CBS plucks the best game each weekend for its 3:30 PM ET Saturday afternoon game, the entire nation tunes in. This is arguably the most high-profile non-NFL booth in sports.

6. NFL on FOX
Who: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver

Generally speaking, the best non-primetime game in the NFC is reserved for FOX’s top broadcast trio. This normally involved the Dallas Cowboys. That said, even the second, third and fourth NFL on FOX games are elite broadcasting positions. Other greats like Thom Brennaman, Dick Stockton, Chris Myers and Gus Johnson are assigned to call lower-tier games.

7. NFL on CBS
Who: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Steve Tasker

This is identical to the NFL on FOX across the board with one possible exception. The NFC is loaded and FOX gets most of those games while the AFC is much weaker and CBS gets most of their games. The NFL TV ratings dwarf all other sports and even lower-tiered games from the weaker conference still pull huge audiences. Greg Gumbel, Marv Albert, Ian Eagle and Kevin Harlan join Nantz and Simms on CBS.

8. Saturday Night Football (ABC)
Who: Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit, Lisa Salters

The second-biggest non-NFL booth would be the ABC Saturday Night Football team. This spot on the TV dial was largely ignored due to low ratings but ABC/ESPN jumped in with two feet as the college game continued to grow and has been home to one of the top college games each Saturday evening since 2006.

9. Fox Sports Radio
Who: Dan Patrick, Jay Mohr, JT The Brick, etc

The first non-TV entry on the list begins with the international sports radio network from FOX and Premiere Radio Network. With over 400 affiliates and simulcasts on satellite radio and DirecTV (owned by FOX), few radio teams put as many resources into their product. Founded in 2000, huge industry names like Dan Patrick, JT The Brick, Petros & Money as well as comedian Jay Mohr have built FSR into a media goliath with coveted broadcasting positions.

10. NCAA Tournament (CBS)
Who: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg, Steve Kerr

CBS purchased the NCAA Tournament in 1982 and has never relinquished control over the massive month-long ratings bonanza. And it’s why the great Jim Nantz has broadcast 23 straight Final Fours. The addition of extra channels from Turner Broadcasting System have only added to the viewership and profile of CBS’ March Madness.

11. ESPN Radio
Who: Mike Greenberg, Colin Cowherd, Scott Van Pelt

Launched back in 1992, ESPN realized the power of nationally syndicated sports talk radio quickly. Some of the industries biggest names have been discovered because of ESPN Radio — many of whom began on the TV screen. The list of powerhouse radio personalities that used the power of ESPN Radio to launch their careers is long and distinguished.

12. The Morning Drive (Golf Channel)
Who: Gary Williams, Damon Hack, Kelly Tilghman, Ahmad Rashad, Holly Sonders

Available in over 100 million households worldwide, anything on the Golf Channel has sneaky upside. Since launching in 1995, The NBC-owned Golf Channel has been home to a dedicated and extremely affluent audience. And the launch of the daily morning show has given this team of broadcasters an elite time slot. You've seen the women who work on this channel, right?

Who: Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds

Debuting at Daytona in 2001 — may he rest in peace — the Emmy-award winning NASCAR on FOX has been a staple for race fans. Roughly the first half of each season is on FOX and their deep and talented team of broadcasters has made it one of the best in programs in sports. The play-by-play booth, the Hollywood Hotel and the Pit Reporters offer a variety of great broadcasting jobs.

14. CBS Sports Radio
Who: Doug Gottleib, Jim Rome, John Feinstein

Along with ESPN Radio and FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio offers 24/7 nationally syndicated sports talk. Think the money isn’t good in this field? Jim Rome’s radio show alone nets him $30 million in earnings each year. Simply because it launched just a few months ago (Sept. 2012), CBS Sports radio checks in slightly behind ESPN and FSR among the radio entities.

15. Baseball on FOX
Who: Joe Buck, Tim McCarver, Ken Rosenthal

This team traditionally only has to work one game per week (Saturdays) before the postseason starts. For broadcasting purists, baseball calls are the some of the sports world’s best as historic names have filled the airwaves with ageless memories (Vin Scully, Jack Buck). When October rolls around, there are few places broadcasters would rather be than in the booth during the World Series.

16. WGN-TV Cubs
Who: Len Kasper, Jim Deshaies, Keith Moreland

There aren’t many local or regional teams who get national broadcasts but the Cubs are one of them. Do you think walking to Wrigley Field to broadcast baseball games from the friendly confines 81 times per year sounds like fun?

17. SportsCenter (ESPN)
Who: John Anderson, Lindsay Czarniak, John Buccigross, Steve Levy, et al

This program has lost most of its luster as over-produced, sponsor-heavy broadcasts have diminished the product since its heyday in the late '90s. Still, many a sports broadcasting career has begun on the primetime (6 PM ET, 11 PM ET) slot of nightly sports highlights.

18. YES Network Yankees
Who: Michael Kay, Bob Lorenz, Ken Singleton

Much like the Cubs on WGN or to a much lesser extent the Braves on TBS, the Yankees broadcast nationally on the YES Network. With supporting programming and the world’s biggest TV market part of the package, calling Yankee games 162 times a year has to be considered one of the industry’s best gigs.

19. Inside the NBA (TNT)
Who: Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal

Few studio shows outweigh the actual in-game broadcast but TNT’s Emmy Award-winning pre- and post-game show is just that. Airing since 1988, Inside the NBA is one of the longest running studio programs in all of sports. I would rather watch this show than the game itself any day.

20. Pardon The Interruption
Who: Michael Wilbon, Tony Kornheiser

The time slot isn’t elite and it lasts for just 30 minutes but the format is brilliant and the show has staying power. For any broadcaster who is opinionated, passionate and likes to argue, few jobs would be more fun and offer more breadth of subjects than PTI.

21. NFL Total Access
Who: Rich Eisen, Fran Charles, Andrew Siciliano

When the NFL Network launched in 2003, it hired the face of the brand by luring Rich Eisen from ESPN. He hasn’t given up the lead anchor job on the channel’s flagship program because it has extreme staying power and stability is valued in this business. Powered by huge NFL dollars, the NFL Network has little chance of ever being kicked off the air.

22. NHL on NBC
Who: Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, Pierre McGuire

If this was a ranking of the best broadcasters in sports, Mike “Doc” Emrick might be No. 1. Since partnering with NBC, the NHL has been making a slow and steady return to American living rooms. This is the top broadcasting position for anyone in the hockey realm and its why Emrick is the voice fans hear nearly every night of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

23. NFL Countdown (ESPN)
Who: Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, et al

A long standard in the industry, NFL Countdown has been a big part of Sunday morning since 1985. It has seen better days but still claims seven Sports Emmys and five CableACE Awards. It’s such a great gig, stalwart broadcast personality Chris Berman may never quit.

24. SiriusXM Radio
Who: Tim Brando, Pat Kirwen, Chris Russo, Pete Pistone, Casey Stern, et al

It’s a late bloomer and it has taken time to grow (and one massive merger) but national satellite radio is here to stay. Huge signings like Tim Brando prove the medium is viable and offers fans niche programming for every major sport. If you are an MLB expert there is no better place to work than MLB Radio. If you are a college sports expert, there is no better place to work in radio than College Sports Nation.

25. MLB Tonight
Who: Brian Kenny, Matt Vasgersian, et al

MLB Network’s nightly program is one of the more unique broadcasts in all of sports. It acts as a pre- and post-game studio show as well as a “Live Look-in” show that gives viewers the chance to listen in on local broadcasts they may not normally get to hear.

Best of the Rest:

26. FOX NFL Sunday: Curt Menefee
27. The NFL Today (CBS): James Brown
27. ProFootballTalk (NBC): Erik Kuselias, Mike Florio
28. NFL Redzone (DirecTV): Andew Siciliano
29. NFL/College Football Live (ESPN): Trey Wingo, Rece Davis
30. Sunday Night Baseball (ESPN): Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser, John Kruk, Buster Olney

<p> Top 25 National Broadcasting Jobs in Sports</p>
Post date: Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 14:00
Path: /mlb/blown-home-run-call-exposes-flaw-mlb-replay-system

Last night, Adam Rosales of Oakland launched an apparent game-tying home run in the ninth inning at Cleveland only to have it ruled a double by the umpiring crew. After reviewing the call via replay, the umpiring crew, led by Angel Hernandez, emerged and held Rosales at second base.

MLB, slow to enter the digital age and catch up to the wonders of instant replay with the ability to right wrongs called on the field, still has much work to do to with its replay system.

It’s pretty clear that the three umpires reviewing the play were the only people who believe the ball hit the outfield wall. I’ve watched replays of the Oakland broadcast, the Cleveland broadcast and heard replays of both teams’ radio calls, and every announcer involved felt it was clearly a home run. In every replay I saw it appeared the ball hit the dark railing beyond the wall, clearly above the yellow line marking the top of the outfield fence. I’ve yet to see or hear any reports of anyone saying, “Good call, that ball hit the wall.” And I’m sure we won’t.

So how did Hernandez and his crew miss that? Good question. If you want to give the umpires the benefit of a doubt, there have been complaints from the arbiters in the past that they don’t have access to all the angles that fans see at home. Why that might be the case is unclear, unacceptable and certainly something that should be rectified immediately. But in this case, I’m not sure what angles might be inconclusive. The ball hit the railing. It changed direction above the wall. Unless the umpires were viewing replays on a black and white, 14-inch, non-HD monitor, I don’t understand how they could reach their conclusion.

Now we don’t know that the outcome would have been different. Had the home run counted, the game would have been tied with the A’s batting in the ninth inning. At any rate, this was a pivotal call. And MLB must get these calls right.

MLB’s replay system failed. The system didn’t just fail the A’s, but all of baseball. If the system in place can’t guarantee the right call in this situation, then how do we expect any calls to be right?

-Charlie Miller (@AthlonCharlie)

<p> Adam Rosales launched an apparent game-tying home run...or did he?</p>
Post date: Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 11:14
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Clemson Tigers, College Football, News
Path: /college-football/top-10-clemson-tigers-football-teams-all-time

The Clemson Tigers are a proud program that has had some excellent decades — see the 1980s — as well as some times of struggle (1992-2010). But this is a program with loads of potential, committed fans, a great gameday atmosphere and has tasted the top of the mountain once upon a time. Unlike many programs the Tigers have one team that stands above the rest. However, Clemson has recruited elite athletes of late. So does the evolution of the modern athlete level the playing field? Or would the old guard still reign supreme?

Could Jeff Davis stop C.J. Spiller? Could Terry Kinard cover Sammy Watkins or DeAndre Hopkins? How would Danny Ford gameplan against Chad Morris and Tajh Boyd? Clemson has won 16 conference titles since the AP era began in 1934 but only one of those also produced a national championship. Trying to rank the best teams in Clemson history is virtually impossible, but the historic 1981 squad seems like the right place to begin.

1. 1981 (12-0, 6-0)
Head Coach: Danny Ford

There is little doubt which team is the greatest, most heralded group in Clemson history. The undefeated Tigers romped through the regular season, including three wins over top 10 opponents Georgia (4), at North Carolina (8) and Nebraska (4) in the Orange Bowl, for the school’s lone national championship. First-team All-ACC quarterback Homer Jordan and record-setting first-team All-American wideout Perry Tuttle led an offense that averaged nearly 30 points per game. ACC MVP and two-time All-American linebacker Jeff Davis and all-everything corner Terry Kinard spearheaded a defense that led the nation in scoring (8.8 ppg). Ford won National Coach of the Year honors and became the youngest coach (33) to ever win the national title. No other team in Tigers lore can compare to the ’81 champs.

2. 1978 (11-1, 6-0)
Head Coach: Charley Pell

Charley Pell didn’t coach very long at Clemson and his “influence” was felt for years following his departure, but his teams won a lot of games (18-4-1). His 1978 ACC championship team was the highest-scoring team in Clemson history until the 2001 squad came along. Dual-threat quarterback Steve Fuller and the running back tandem of Lester Brown and Marvin Sims spearheaded a dynamic rushing attack that helped the Tigers win the ACC. The only loss came in Week 2 against SEC power Georgia, and, after a Gator Bowl win over No. 20 Ohio State, Clemson posted its second-best final AP poll finish in school history with a No. 6 ranking. Pell left before the bowl game to take the Florida job and Clemson was eventually hit with NCAA sanctions stemming from his coaching tenure, but the ’78 squad was one of the program’s best.

3. 2012 (11-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Dabo Swinney

From a talent perspective, few teams in program history can compare to the 2012 squad led by Tajh Boyd, Andre Ellington, DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins and Dalton Freeman on offense. This is the only team in school history to top 500 points (533) and its No. 11 final AP ranking was the best since 1990 (No. 9). This team lost just one game on the road against No. 4 Florida State, who won the ACC crown. The Tigers were one of the few ACC teams to hold its own against the vaunted SEC, by defeating LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and Auburn in the Kickoff Classic. This team wasn’t decorated like other championship-winning teams, but this might be the most talented roster ever assembled in Death Valley and is why the Tigers are the 2013 frontrunner in the ACC.

4. 1950 (9-0-1, 3-0-1)
Head Coach: Frank Howard

One of just three Clemson teams of the AP era to go unbeaten, the Tigers played only four conference games and therefore didn’t win the Southern Conference title despite not losing a game and finishing as the highest rated SoCon team in the polls. This team outscored its opponents 344-76 and was the first team in history to top 300 points. The ’50 unbeaten team is one of just six Clemson groups to finish in the top 10 of the AP poll (No. 10).

5. 1948 (11-0, 5-0)
Head Coach: Frank Howard

Playing in the much weaker Southern Conference at the time, legendary coach Frank Howard posted one of just three perfect records during the AP era (1934). The defense allowed an astonishing 6.9 points per game, leading to a 274-76 scoring margin for the year. It topped just one ranked opponent (Wake Forest) as the schedule was dotted by Presbyterian, Duquesne, Alabama Polytechnic and conference foes Furman and The Citadel. This lack of competition is what led the unbeaten Tigers to just an 11th place finish in the polls. The Tigers did not play No. 3-ranked and unbeaten conference rival North Carolina that year.

6. 1982 (9-1-1, 6-0)
Head Coach: Danny Ford

Following Clemson’s first and only national championship, Clemson was not eligible to play in the postseason due to probation stemming from former head coach Charley Pell’s tenure. That didn’t keep the Tigers from defending their ACC championship with a perfect record in the league. The season began with a loss to No. 7 Georgia and a tie with Boston College but ended with nine straight wins and No. 8 postseason ranking — good for third-best in school history. Quarterback and national title winner Homer Jordan was flanked by Cliff Austin, Chuck McSwain and Jeff McCall in a loaded Tigers backfield.

7. 1988 (10-2, 6-1)
Head Coach: Danny Ford

No team in Clemson history started higher in the AP poll than the 1988 team beginning the year as the No. 4-ranked team in the nation. With a No. 9 final ranking following a Citrus Bowl win over Oklahoma, it is one of just six teams to finish in the top 10 as well. Rodney Williams paced the passing attack while Terry Allen rushed for 1,192 yards and 10 touchdowns for the ACC champions. This team played one of the school’s toughest schedules, beating three ranked opponents and losing to two others. In an age of offense, this team was fourth in the nation in scoring defense and is one of the best Clemson teams ever assembled. This was the second of four straight 10-2 Tigers teams.

8. 1959 (9-2, 6-1)
Head Coach: Frank Howard

In his 19th season, famed head coach Frank Howard won his fifth conference title and third in the ACC. He lost to a ranked SEC team in Georgia Tech as well as Maryland to give this team a final AP ranking of 11th. This team allowed just 9.4 points per game on defense while pitching five shutouts through the season. Wins over a ranked No. 12 North Carolina and No. 7 TCU in the Bluebonnet Bowl capped the ACC championship season. Six different players rushed at least 40 times while Harvey White led both the passing and rushing attack from under center.

9. 1987 (10-2, 6-1)
Head Coach: Danny Ford

Ford began a magical run of ACC championships in 1986 but started a four-year streak of 10-2 records in 1987. This team was ranked in the AP top 10 for all but three weeks of the season, as it capped the ACC championship season with a win over a ranked Joe Paterno Penn State team in the Citrus Bowl. Losses to NC State by two points and at No. 12 South Carolina kept the Tigers from competing for a second national title. The backfield tandem of Rodney Williams and Terry Allen gave fans a glimpse of what was to come the following year.

10. 2011 (10-4, 6-2)
Head Coach: Dabo Swinney

If the 2012 team is the most talented ever assembled in school history, the 2011 ACC championship team can’t be too far behind. Tajh Boyd and company were are all in the starting lineup except Sammy Watkins was the National Freshman of the Year instead of a No. 2 WR and Dwayne Allen starred at tight end. The defense wasn’t up to snuff, allowing nearly 30 points per game, but wins over four ranked opponents (Auburn, Florida State, Virginia Tech twice) and the school’s first ACC title in two decades make it one of the greatest Clemson Tigers teams.

Related: Top 10 Notre Dame Fighting Football Teams of All-Time
Related: Top 15 Alabama Crimson Tide Football Teams of All-Time

The best of the rest:

11. 1990 (10-2, 5-2) Ken Hatfield
12. 1989 (10-2, 5-2) Danny Ford
13. 1991 (9-2-1, 6-0-1) Ken Hatfield
14. 2009 (9-5, 6-2) Dabo Swinney
15. 1986 (8-2-2, 5-1-1) Danny Ford 

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<p> Top 10 Clemson Tigers Football Teams of All-Time</p>
Post date: Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 06:50
Path: /college-football/who-should-start-quarterback-wisconsin-2013

Wisconsin had three different quarterbacks make a start last season.

Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien was thought to be the answer, but he struggled early in the year, which prompted the coaching staff to turn to Joel Stave. The former walk-on was solid in his performances, until suffering a broken collarbone against Michigan State.

With Stave sidelined, Curt Phillips was pushed into the starting lineup. Phillips was steady in his stint as the No. 1 quarterback, but Stave or incoming junior college transfer Tanner McEvoy could win surpass him on the depth chart this fall.

The 2013 college football season is still over 100 days away, but it’s never too early to start talking predictions and expectations for each team going into 2013.

Athlon Sports’ college football top 25 countdown for 2013 is officially underway. Wisconsin checks in as the No. 19 team for 2013

Who Should Start at Quarterback for Wisconsin in 2013?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
This is going to be a tough decision, but Joel Stave seemed to be the quarterback coaches trusted the most last season. Granted, that’s a different coaching staff. Gary Andersen may see something he likes in Danny O’Brien, who struggled the most of Wisconsin’s three starters. Curt Phillips was the best of the three starters in terms of third down efficiency (45 percent in his five starts) and red zone efficiency (85 percent touchdowns in his starts), but that was when Montee Ball and the Wisconsin run game finally regained form. The Badgers rushed for 200 yards four times in Phillips’ starts including twice running for 500. Stave’s numbers tell a different story. Stave averaged 9.3 yards per pass attempt and 14.9 passes per game, both way ahead of the numbers for O’Brien and Phillips. Simply put, Wisconsin’s last staff thought Stave gave the Badgers a better chance to run a more effective balanced offense. While handing the offense to Ball and James White was enough to beat Penn State and Nebraska, I don’t think that’s going to be enough for Wisconsin to stay competitive over the course of the season, especially with Ball gone.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
I would be shocked if anyone other than Joel Stave was the starter in Madison. The walk-on redshirt sophomore was the only player on the roster last season who gave the Badgers offense any balance whatsoever. He was leading the Big Ten in efficiency before getting hurt against both Nebraska and Michigan State — the only two games UW lost when Stave started. Curt Phillips has some nice athletic ability and proved he could lead clutch drives but is one cut away from a fourth knee injury. And he was very Tebow-ish in that he struggled for the first 59 minutes of the game before leading game-tying drives (Penn State, Ohio State). Does Stave, and his lack of mobility, fit into Gary Andersen's offensive scheme perfectly? No, but he is the most polished passer and gives Wisconsin the ability to accurately go down the field more so than any other option on the roster. Look for Stave to take most of the snaps with Phillips' legs earning him a few snaps from time to time. There are worse problems to have than multiple quarterbacks with starting experience.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Although Curt Phillips was steady in his late-season stint as the starting quarterback, I think Joel Stave is the answer for Wisconsin. New coordinator Andy Ludwig and coach Gary Andersen want a little mobility from their passer, but Stave gives this team the best chance to win. In eight games last season, the former walk-on threw for 1,104 yards and six touchdowns, while completing 58.8 percent of his throws. The Wisconsin native had three consecutive games of 200 or more passing yards (UTEP, Nebraska and Illinois) and threw for 127 yards on 9 of 11 passes before suffering an injury that kept him out of game action until the Rose Bowl.

Junior college recruit Tanner McEvoy was recruited by Andersen to add to the competition right away, and he seems to be the best fit for the offense. However, McEvoy has no experience on the FBS level, and junior college recruits usually have an adjustment period to the increased competition.

Stave might not be perfect for what the coaching staff wants to do. But with one of the nation’s top backfields returning and a solid defense, having a quarterback that is capable of being efficient and steady in the pocket is a huge plus for new coach Gary Andersen. 

Kevin McGuire, and
It's that time of the year again when the Wisconsin quarterback question tends to yield no answers. I have joked about this topic with a few people already but it is really anybody's guess who will be leading the offense when the season kicks off in Madison. I think the competition between Joel Stave and Curt Phillips is a draw, with each having certain qualities the other doesn't that would lead to a potential dual-QB offense if nothing is figured out before the start of the year.

It sounds as though JUCO transfer Tanner McEvoy is going to get every opportunity to compete for the starting job, and with neither Phillips or Stave making it an obvious choice to go with them, that would lead me to consider McEvoy will be Gary Andersen's guy at some point. Part of me also wants to think Danny O'Brien somehow rebounds but until he does anything to prove he is worthy of the starting job I'll have to wait and see.

So we have a situation where Wisconsin is looking to pick a name out of a hat, and that's generally not a great sign. When push comes to shove, I'll go with the guy who got the most out of the offense last season and that is Stave.

Mark Ross (@AthlonSports)
So we're absolutely sure that Russell Wilson is out of eligibility? What about Scott Tolzien? In that case, I'll have to go with the guy who made the most starts under center for the Badgers last season - Joel Stave. The sophomore was doing just fine before breaking his clavicle against Michigan State, becoming the first freshman quarterback at Wisconsin since Jim Sorgi (2000) to start a game.

Not only did Stave win his first start against UTEP, he led the Badgers to a 4-1 record in the five games he completed (which included three conference victories) and was leading the Big Ten in passer efficiency rating (149.6) at the time of his injury. He also became the eighth QB in school history to throw for more than 200 yards in three consecutive games and the first to do so in his first three starts since Tyler Donovan (2006, '07).

Stave may not be as athletic as senior Curt Phillips or the ideal fit for new head coach Gary Andersen's system like redshirt freshman Bart Houston is reported to be, but he has shown that he's more than capable of leading the team to victory when he's on the field. He didn't do anything performance-wise to lose the job last season, so I see no reason to make a change on the depth chart to start off 2013 either.

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<p> Who Should Start at Quarterback for Wisconsin in 2013?</p>
Post date: Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 06:33
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/10-athletes-turned-musicians

Many superstar athletes have been bitten by the musical bug and have created successful second acts for themselves on stage. Others should have just ignored the urge to sing, or at least practiced in front of a mirror (we're looking at you, Carl Lewis).

We'll start with some of the best and throw in a few of the worst for giggles.

Mike Reid
Reid's two All-Pro seasons as a Bengals defensive tackle (1972-73) weren't enough to get him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but his songwriting prowess, primarily in the country genre, was enough to get him in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Here's his No. 1 hit from 1990, "Walk on Faith."


Wayman Tisdale
The late Wayman Tisdale had a solid 12-year NBA career during which he averaged 15 points and six rebounds per game. He was also an exceptionally accomplished musician. Tisdale, who got his musical start playing bass guitar at his dad's church, ultimately mastered the instrument and recorded eight jazz albums prior to his tragic death in 2009. One of those albums, "Face to Face," reached No. 1 on the Billboard contemporary jazz chart.


Bernie Williams
Williams was a key part of the Yankees dynasty of the late 1990s-early 2000s, but even then, he had one eye on Latin-flavored music. The smooth-swinging center fielder specializes in smooth jazz guitar in his post-baseball life.


Johnny Mathis
The legendary crooner was also an accomplished track athlete and was even asked to try out for the 1956 Olympic Team in the high jump, but instead went to New York to keep an appointment to pursue a recording contract. Chances are, we would have heard his smooth tenor eventually even if he had gone to Melbourne.


Justin McBride
McBride is a veteran professional bullrider and two-time PBR world champion (2005, 2007). He's turned his attention to music, and I'll give you one guess what genre he's pursuing.


Julio Iglesias
Not my taste, but there's no denying Iglesias' international superstardom. Not many people know that he was a budding soccer star when an auto accident laid him up for an extended period. Depressed, he turned to music to pass the time. The rest is easy-listening history.


Cassius Clay
Even before changing his name, Muhammad Ali was laying claim to the title of The Greatest. He even recorded a mostly spoken-word album in the early 1960s called "I Am the Greatest." That doesn't make him a musician, but hey — it's an album, and there's music playing, and he's Muhammad Ali. He makes the list. Here is his rendition of "Stand by Me."


Shaquille O'Neal
The Big Aristotle tried his hand at rap. I'm not a connoisseur of the genre, so I'll leave any quality judgments to others. He did sell a lot of albums. Here he is freestyling about his former friend and teammate Kobe Bryant. I think there were some hard feelings.


Oscar de la Hoya
The boxing champ put out an album that — astonishingly, if this clip is any indication — was nominated for a Grammy Award.


John McEnroe
Tennis' bad boy wielded a rock-and-roll axe for The Johnny Smyth Band back in the 1990s, and he's retained his chops through the years. And when you're John McEnroe, you get invited on stage to jam with The Pretenders.


Now, just for fun, a couple less successful forays into the music scene.

Deion Sanders
Prime Time recorded a poorly received eponymous funk album in the early 1990s. There's a reason it was poorly received; it was poorly recorded. Enjoy.


Carl Lewis
The granddaddy of all failed musical moments from athletes. Lewis butchers our National Anthem, giving us the version written by Francis Scott "Off" Key (to quote Charlie Steiner). Steiner's reaction might be the best part of this clip.

<p> Some famous jocks have tried music, with varying degrees of success</p>
Post date: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 14:10
All taxonomy terms: College Football, College Football
Path: /college-football/notable-names-who-will-be-snubbed-college-football-hall-fame

Tommie Frazier’s long wait for the College Football Hall of Fame ended Tuesday when the former Nebraska quarterback was inducted after his third year on the ballot.

That Frazier, who quarterbacked two national championship teams and finished second for the Heisman in 1995, waited three seasons was a mystery. But Frazier is in this year, along with Florida’s Danny Wuerffel, Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne, Ohio State’s Orlando Pace, Miami’s Vinny Testaverde and nine other players and coaches.

Other accomplished players and coaches will have a much more difficult time reaching Hall of Fame status, if at all.

The College Football Hall of Fame has criteria that will make it tough for a few notable names.


In most modern cases, this is first-team recognition by the Associated Press, the Football Writers Association of America, the American Football Coaches Association, the Walter Camp Football Foundation and the Sporting News. And this makes sense. To be in the Hall of Fame, at least one service should deem a player to be the best at his position in one season, right?

Maybe not, All-America teams feature only one quarterback. Play in a season with one or two quarterbacks who stand above all others and it’s awfully tough to get that one first-team All-America nod. Players from non-traditional powers will also have a tough time meeting that criteria.

(Arizona State's Pat Tillman, who was not a first-team All-American by the major services, has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. A worthy exception to the rules.)

Coaches have their own requirements — 10 years and 100 games as a head coach with a .600 win percentage. Sure, a Hall of Fame coach should probably win better than 60 percent of his games, but not if he cut his teeth — and eventually won — at tough jobs.

These rules are — putting it kindly — problematic.

Names who will be snubbed in the College Football Hall of Fame

Jason Babin
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not a first-team All-American
Why he should be in: The defensive end is the FBS career leader in tackles for a loss, and he’s second to Terrell Suggs in sacks. But he played at Western Michigan and topped out at second-team All-America honors from The Sporting News in 2003. Not that all mid-major stat sheet-stuffers are worthy of Hall of Fame inclusion, but Babin was a first-round pick who went on to be a two-time Pro Bowler.

Second-tier Big 12 quarterbacks
Why they don’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not first-team All-Americans
Why they should be in: Let’s name the names: Landry Jones, Chase Daniel and Collin Klein. Jones is the career-leading passer for the Big 12 and Oklahoma. Daniel was Heisman finalist who led his team to two Big 12 title games and the brink or the ’07 national championship game. Klein finished with 86 total touchdowns (56 rushing, 30 passing) and went 21-5 his last two seasons. The problem? Contemporaries like Robert Griffin, Andrew Luck, Johnny Manziel for Jones and Klein and Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford for Daniel relegated these quarterbacks to second-team status or lower.

Rich Brooks
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Win percentage
Why he should be in: Go ahead and be underwhelmed by Brooks’ career losing record (45.5 percent) in 290 games as a college coach, but go ask about him in Eugene and Lexington. Without Brooks, there’d be no Mike Bellotti or Chip Kelly at Oregon. In 1994, Brooks led Oregon to its first Rose Bowl since the 1919 season. And at Kentucky, he and Bear Bryant are the only coaches with four consecutive winning seasons.

Reggie Bush
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: “Citizenship”
Why he should be in: The Hall of Fame doesn’t forbid players who received NCAA sanctions to be enshrined, but it does say a player’s “post-football record as a citizen is also weighed.” On the field, Bush would be an easy pick for the Hall of Fame, but it may be tough for a player who had to return his Heisman to crack the College Football Hall of Fame.

Pete Carroll
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Too few seasons
Why he should be in: The criteria states a head coach must work for a minimum of 10 years. Carroll coached nine with seven consecutive top-five finishes, two national titles and five Rose Bowls.

Colin Kaepernick
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not a first-team All-American
Why he should be in: Chris Ault -- who was already in the College Football Hall of Fame as an active coach -- invented the Pistol offense years earlier, but Kaepernick brought it to the masses as a collegian and a pro. He led Nevada to its best season as an FBS program while becoming the only quarterback to pass for 10,000 yards and rush for 4,000 yards in his career.

Case Keenum
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not a first-team All-American
Why he should be in: Passing for 19,217 career yards at the Conference USA level wasn’t enough to make Keenum a first-team All-American among a loaded group of quarterbacks from 2007-11.

Jim Harbaugh and Chip Kelly
Why they don’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Too few games
Why they should be in: The two coaches defined the Pac-12 for the post-Pete Carroll era in divergent ways. Harbaugh’s physical, balanced teams produced two Heisman finalists (Andrew Luck and Toby Gerhart) and the best Stanford season since 1940. Kelly’s Oregon teams were the best at running the no-huddle spread on the way to three conference titles. The NFL came calling for both, meaning Kelly (53 career games) and Harbaugh (50 FBS games, plus 35 at FCS San Diego) don't meet the 10-year or 100-game requirement. Harbaugh, however, is eligible as a player.

Pat Hill and David Carr
Why they don’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Win percentage/not a first-team All-American
Why they should be in: Hill won 58.3 percent of his games at Fresno State, but it’s tough to imagine that program without him. The same could be said for Carr, a Heisman finalist who passed for 4,299 yards in 2001 when it wasn’t commonplace to have numbers like that.

June Jones and Colt Brennan
Why they don’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Win percentage/not a first-team All-American
Why they should be in: June Jones has been as successful as anyone running the Run and Shoot. Along the way, he’s revived two programs in trouble. Jones still holds the record for best single-season turning around, improving Hawaii from 0-12 to 9-4 in his first season there, eight years before taking Hawaii to the Sugar Bowl. Later, he became the first coach to take SMU to a bowl game since NCAA's death penalty. Hawaii's Brennan holds FBS records for touchdown passes in a season (58 in 2006), and career passing yards per game (387.9)

AJ McCarron
Why he might not meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not a first-team All-American
Why he should be in: It’s worth including this active player because it’s conceivable McCarron could be the starting quarterback for three national-title winning teams and never be a first-team All-America quarterback thanks to dynamic contemporaries like Griffin, Manziel and more.
Ed. note: McCarron was named Walter Camp first-team All-American following the 2013 season, making him eligible for the Hall of Fame.

Joe Montana and Tony Rice
Why they don’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not first-team All-Americans
Why he should be in: Yes, Notre Dame players can be snubbed for awards. Rice was a Heisman finalist and a national-championship quarterback who happened to play at the same time as Andre Ware, Troy Aikman and Major Harris. Montana’s pro career, of course, overshadowed the time he finished eighth in the nation in passing in 1978.

Ray Rice
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not a first-team All-American
Why he should be in: Rice’s best season coincided with consensus All-America mentions for Arkansas’s Darren McFadden and UCF’s Kevin Smith. Rice has two of the top four single-season rushing totals in Big East history and his the second-leading rusher in the history of the league with 4,926 yards. He was the top player on the best Rutgers team in program history.

Howard Schnellenberger
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Win percentage
Why he should be in: In his 277-game career, Schnellenberger gets penalized for taking over hopeless college jobs at Miami and Louisville, plus building Florida Atlantic from the ground up. That makes him the architect of three programs. He led Miami to its first national title in 1983 and Louisville to the Fiesta Bowl in 1990. All that time at tough jobs causes him to fall short of the win percentage requirement (51.4 percent). Even if Schnellenberger retired in 1994 before a 5-5-1 season at Oklahoma and a 41-56 run at fledgling FAU, he still would fall short of the 60-percent mark (56.2 percent at Miami and Louisville).

Joe Tiller
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Win percentage
Why he should be in: Tiller brought the spread to the Big Ten and made Purdue relevant along the way. The Boilermakers endured 12 consecutive losing seasons before he was hired and reached the Rose Bowl (albeit with an 8-4 record) by his fourth season). He went to bowl games in 10 of 12 seasons at Purdue, but finished his career with a 57.8 win percentage in Lafayette and at Wyoming. It’s worth noting Tiller’s best quarterback, Drew Brees, also doesn’t meet Hall of Fame criteria by never being a first-team All-America selection.

Michael Turner and Garrett Wolfe
Why they doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not first-team All-Americans
Why he should be in: Wolfe (5,164) and Turner (4,941) are the MAC’s No. 1 and 2 career rushers, but playing for Northern Illinois made it tough to crack All-America teams. Turner was a Sporting News second-team selection in 2003, and Wolfe was an AP third-teamer in 2006.

Pat White
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not a first-team All-American
Why he should be in: Noticing a trend with quarterbacks circa 2006-08? There were a lot of good ones, and White ends up getting squeezed out. He was the most successful West Virginia quarterback since Major Harris, he became the first quarterback to start and win four bowl games, and he holds the record for career rushing yards for a quarterback (4,480).

<p> Notable names who will be snubbed in the College Football Hall of Fame</p>
Post date: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /nascar/fantasy-nascar-picks-southern-500-darlington

The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit heads to venerable Darlington Raceway for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 on Saturday evening. To help guide you through the 2013 Fantasy NASCAR season, Athlon Sports contributor Geoffrey Miller will be offering his best predictions for each race. And because Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing game is arguably the most popular, he’ll break down the picks according to its NASCAR driver classes — A-List, B-List, C-List.

So, without further ado, Geoffrey’s fantasy predictions for Darlington ranked according to each driver's likelihood of taking the checkered flag — or at least surviving an evening of dancing with the Lady in Black.

1. Jeff Gordon

The four-time champ survived two wrecks at Talladega to squeak out an 11th-place finish. In Darlington, he hits a track where he leads all active drivers with seven wins and 18 top 5s. In the last eight Darlington races, Gordon has a series-high average position of 8.3.

2. Jimmie Johnson
How will Jimmie screw up Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s race this week? He could do it by replicating 2012 at Darlington when he led 134 laps and took the checkered flag. His two other Darlington wins came back-to-back in 2004.

3. Kasey Kahne
Kahne has yet to score a Darlington win, but he's done something nearly as impressive: Kahne has finished all 10 of his Darlington starts. We'll see if Kyle Busch has anything to say about that statistic Saturday night.

4. Matt Kenseth
All 19 of Matt Kenseth's Darlington starts have netted him a mediocre average finish of 17th, but those were also in Roush Fenway Racing cars. How will the Joe Gibbs Racing setups treat one of the strongest drivers on the circuit?

5. Denny Hamlin
He's been better than Gordon in the last seven Darlington races, but it's still not clear if Hamlin will finish Saturday night's race. That makes you wonder if he can grab top 10 No. 7 at Darlington — a feat he's accomplished in 85 percent of his starts there.

6. Kevin Harvick
NASCAR's self-proclaimed lame duck has averaged 223 laps per race in the top 15 in his last eight Darlington starts, but has just two top-5 finishes and zero wins.

7. Brad Keselowski
Keselowski's never led a lap in his four Sprint Cup starts at Darlington. That's probably legitimate because he hasn't taken to Twitter to blame another competitor for the lack of performance.

8. Clint Bowyer
Bowyer's average Darlington finish is worse than drivers like Ambrose, Bliss, Montoya, Ragan and Sadler. His 11th-place finish last season was his first lead lap Darlington result since 2008.

9. Tony Stewart
Smoke has 20 starts at Darlington since 1999, completing 6,567 laps. He's never won, though, and has led a total of only 20 laps in that period. Combine that with his No. 14's performance in 2013 and … well, you get the point.

<p> Geoffrey Miller ranks each driver on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit for this weekend's Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 10:20
Path: /nascar/nascar-numbers-game-6-key-stats-darlington-raceway

Denny Hamlin’s much-discussed return to the seat of his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry became an afterthought at Talladega once Brian Vickers climbed into the seat and provided Hamlin with a paltry 10 points thanks to a crash-caused 34th-place result. Ouch.

Hamlin’s actual return comes at a racetrack which he’s enjoyed a fair share of success. His go-to tracks are commonly considered Martinsville and Richmond — rightfully, so — but Darlington Raceway has been a fixture in Hamlin’s career, rooted in significance. The driver made his first NASCAR Nationwide Series start there in 2004 when, as an unknown aspiring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racer, he finished eighth. He’s had the attention of the stock car industry ever since.

This weekend, it will provide another key moment in the career of a potential champion. Just the return from serious injury in any sport is a monumental occurrence, but in Hamlin’s case, the track that he has chosen to make his full-race return might have bigger aspirations in store, so says this week’s numbers.

5.100  Welcome back, Denny Hamlin. The driver of the No. 11 is returning from injury at a track where he ranks first in driver production with a 5.100 PEER (Production in Equal Equipment Rating).

The storybook ending is entirely possible, and no, NASCAR doesn’t have to “rig the playing field” to make it happen. Hamlin is staggeringly adept at the 1.366-mile track. He is the only driver to score top-15 finishes in each Darlington race of the CoT era. This also gives him the highest average finish (5.8) in the series during that time frame.

27.58%  Think Denny Hamlin can’t make the Chase? Think again. He currently has a 27.58 percent probability of qualifying into the Chase via an automatic top-10 spot, which is the 16th-best percentage among 33 eligible drivers.

Yes, he’s six spots out of a desired top-10 position, but it’s unlikely, based on relevant past averages, that he’ll qualify for the Chase in this manner (he is currently 31st in the point standings). His entry into NASCAR’s playoff would be by way of a wild card spot. In order to land one of these two golden tickets, a driver must first be in the top 20 in points (which the probability suggests he will be by the conclusion of Race 26 at Richmond). Then, the driver has to have the most or second-most wins out of drivers that meet the prerequisite. Hamlin will have to compile wins and that realistically could start as soon as this weekend.

322  Kyle Busch has led 322 laps, the most in the series, in the last five Darlington races.

Leading just over 17.5 percent of the laps through a five-race span usually results in winning. It did for Busch, who put on a spectacular display of car control in the 2008 race. It’s normal for Busch, who ranks second in Darlington-specific PEER (4.800), to lead a large quantity of laps, but he is strong in the finish column as well. He is one of two winning drivers to have earned three top-10 finishes during the CoT era.

RELATED: Fantasy NASCAR Picks for the Southern 500 at Darlington

<p> David Smith crunches the numbers and finds the key NASCAR stats for the Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 20:38
Path: /nascar/5-young-nascar-drivers-who-could-be-hall-famers

To suggest that any player, athlete, coach or driver in any sport after just a few seasons is a lock to make the Hall of Fame is ridiculous. But it is always fun to look at guys who have had instant success and try to extrapolate long-term potential. Limiting the scope to the last three rookie classes, here are the most likely future NASCAR Hall of Famers.

Related: Top 15 Young Future NFL Hall of Famers

1. Brad Keselowski
Team: Penske Racing

At age 29, Keselowski isn't a spring chicken, however, his rookie season was just three years ago in 2010 and his instant success is impossible to ignore. The driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Penske Ford Fusion finished 25th in his first season, fifth in the points in his second year and became the defending Sprint Cup Champion after edging Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson for the title in just his third full season. Keselowski has nine wins and 28 top-five finishes in just 135 starts. His refreshing yet old-school attitude as a driver is magnetic to the fans, media and, at times, other cars on the track. However, his raw driving talent is painfully obvious and is the reason for such lofty expectations. He is one of just three drivers to win the points championship in the last eight years. This list of potential HOFers begins and ends with Brad-K, and should he continue to achieve at his current rate, an induction into the newly created NASCAR Hall of Fame is well within reach.

2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Team: Roush Fenway Racing

The 25-year-old is making his debut in the Sprint Cup series this year and already expectations are soaring for the driver of the historic No. 17 Roush Ford Fusion. The Olive Branch, Miss., native was a dominant force in the Nationwide Series, winning back-to-back championships the last two seasons before making the full-time jump to Cup racing. He posted eight wins and 35 top-five finishes in his last 67 races during his championship seasons and has proven in short order that he can compete on the next level. He finished no worse than 18th in his first four races of the 2013 season and currently sits 16th in the points, just outside of the Chase with only two finishes outside of the top 20. In fact, in 15 career Sprint Cup races, Stenhouse has finished worse than 20th only four times, including one engine failure. His high-profile relationship with Danica Patrick will only help raise his national awareness. He is the best young talent to enter the sport full-time since Keselowski.

3. Kyle Larson
Team: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing

The 20-year old phenom won the K&N Pro Series East in just his first full year racing stock cars in 2012 after growing up in the cockpit of all things open-wheel. The EGR developmental driver has quickly moved his way up the pro ranks, leap-frogging the Camping World Truck Series, and landing directly in the Nationwide Series in 2013 for Turner Scott Motorsports. In just eight races in the No. 32 Turner Chevrolet Camaro, Larson is 12th in the points — due mostly to two crashes — has posted three top 10s and finished runner-up at hallowed Bristol Motorspeedway. His meteoric rise through the sport could land him in a full-time ride at the highest level in a matter of months rather than years.

Related: Top 10 Young Future MLB Hall of Famers

4. Ty Dillon
Team: Richard Childress Racing

One of two star grandsons of famed NASCAR stallwart Richard Childress, the younger Dillon has all the talent to be an elite driver in the Sprint Cup Series. At 20 years of age, Dillon earned Rookie of the Year honors in the Camping World Truck Series in 2012 after finishing fourth in the points. He posted 17 top tens, seven top fives and got his first career win in a memorable battle with Kyle Busch at Atlanta. He made just three Nationwide starts a year ago and finished in the top 10 all three times. He will compete full-time in the No. 3 Childress Chevrolet Silverado while getting more than a few chances in a Nationwide ride. Expect Dillon to jump to the Nationwide series in 2014 with a Cup ride following close behind. Some believe that he might actually be more talented than his future-star older brother...

5. Austin Dillon
Team: Richard Childress Racing

The older grandson of Mr. Childress has flown through the NASCAR ranks much like his younger brother Ty. He earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2008 in the K&N Pro Series East before claiming a Camping World Truck Series championship in 2011. He moved up to the Nationwide series in 2012 and finished third in the points as a rookie. Dillon posted a ridiculous 27 top tens, 16 top fives and his first two victories during the 33-race schedule. The driver of the No. 3 Childress Chevrolet Camaro is one of the frontrunners for a championship this season. He has five Sprint Cup starts under his belt, including his Daytona 500 debut last month and is poised to drive in the Sprint Cup series full-time next season for his grandfather in the famed No. 3 Chevy Camaro. He is immensely talented and likely has the maturity and appreciation to revive the famous RCR car number.

Related: Top 10 Young Future NBA Hall of Famers

The Top Prospects to Watch:

Chase Elliott (Hendrick Motorsports)
Son of past champion Bill Elliott drives for the best team in the business.

Ryan Blaney (Penske Racing)
Son of Sprint Cup driver Dave Blaney is polished and mature beyond his 19 years.

<p> 5 Young NASCAR Drivers Who Could Be Hall of Famers</p>
Post date: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 13:30
Path: /mlb/16-amazing-mlb-stats-week-april-29-may-5

There's never a shortage for cool numbers in baseball. Cleanup hitters struggle, a former utilityman goes off and some dude who's never closed games before is perfect. Go figure (which is what we've been doing).

1.150    Bryce Harper’s OPS for April
At age 20, Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals led the National League with a 1.150 OPS in April, becoming the youngest player to lead the NL in OPS after April since 1965 when Ed Kranepool of the Mets batted .418 with a 1.161 OPS. In case you’re wondering, the New York first baseman ended the season at .253/.675. 

12    Saves in 12 attempts for closer Jason Grilli of the Pirates
The 36-year-old righthander had just five saves at the major league level and three in the minors — in his career — prior to closing games for Pittsburgh this season.

16    Home runs for Boston at Toronto this season
In six games at Toronto this season, the Red Sox have clubbed 16 homers. Boston bats have been much quieter in their other 25 games totaling just 17 clouts.

.591    Ryan Raburn’s batting average for the week
The former Detroit utilityman has found a home in right field in Cleveland. Last week, Raburn hit .591 with two four-hit games, a three-hit game and a two-hit game. He homered twice in back-to-back games for his only four long balls of the season. During the week, he raised his season batting average from .214 to .344.

.188    Batting average for Milwaukee cleanup hitters this season
After losing Prince Fielder to free agency prior to last season, the Brewers enlisted third baseman Aramis Ramirez to hit cleanup and protect Ryan Braun in the lineup. Ramirez responded well last season. But the third baseman has spent most of this season on the DL and the Brewers have found no suitable replacement behind Braun.

8    RBIs by the Mets’ Ike Davis this season
It’s not for the lack of opportunity, Davis has come to bat with 37 runners in scoring position this season. He’s 4-for-27 with 13 Ks with ducks on the pond.

12    Stolen base attempts for St. Louis in 2013
These are not your father’s St. Louis Cardinals. The running Redbirds of the 1980s made the stolen base fashionable as Whiteyball turned the Cardinals into one of the best clubs throughout the decade. With just 12 stolen base attempts this season, St. Louis ranks last in the majors. At least the 83 percent success rate is tied for sixth. Two players have more steals than the entire Cardinals team.

14    Strikeouts for Yu Darvish vs Boston
In his last start, Darvish whiffed 14 Boston batters over seven innings. It was the second time this season that the young righthander has struck out 14. He punched out 14 Astros during the first week of the season. Darvish is only the second Texas Rangers pitcher to strike out at least 14 batters in one game twice. The other? Nolan Ryan, of course, who did it seven times.

11    Come-from-behind wins for Kansas City this season
In those 11 comeback wins, 10 different players have driven home the winning run.

6    Pinch-hit home runs for Jordany Valdespin
Jordany Valdespin of the New York Mets has six home runs in 59 career pinch-hitting appearances. The extra outfielder has four homers in 212 non-pinch-hitting plate appearances.

6    Consecutive seasons St. Louis has ended April in first place
The Cardinals’ conversion rate over the past five years for completing the season in first place is just 20 percent.

37.2    Innings pitched by the Oakland bullpen last week
The busy bullpen logged more innings than the starters last week. Of course, it didn’t help that the A’s and Angels played 19 innings on Monday. The starters threw 35.1 innings.

4 and 1    Saves and Wins for Sergio Romo of San Francisco last week
San Francisco’s closer made five appearances last week and notched four saves and a win. He retired 15 of the 18 batters he faced, allowing just three singles. His durability and reliability permit Bruce Bochy to manage games cautiously to the Giants’ advantage.

11    Wins by the Yankees of less than three runs
The Yankees are not afraid to play close games. And why not with Mariano Rivera lurking in the bullpen. Of the Yankees’ first 18 wins, five of them have been one-run games and six of the wins were by two runs.

6    Catcher Interference calls this season
Of the six catcher interference calls in the majors this season, D-backs hitters have been the beneficiaries three times. Can you coach that?

.182    Phillies batting average last week
The Phils surprisingly managed to win two of six games last week with the worst batting average in the majors for the week. Philadelphia defeated Miami twice, but was shutout twice, once by the Marlins and once at Cleveland.

-Charlie Miller (@AthlonCharlie)

<p> Cleanup hitters struggle, a former utilityman goes off and some dude who's never closed games before is perfect.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 11:55
Path: /mlb/2013-mlb-power-rankings-may-7

Each week during the season Athlon Sports looks at the best (Texas Rangers) and worst (Houston Astros) baseball teams and players in the league. Here's our MLB Power Rankings and Players of the Week.

1. Rangers Yu Darvish has strikeout pitch working this season.
2. Red Sox Bats went silent in sweep at the hands of the Rangers.
3. Giants Buster Posey, Guillermo Quiroz hit walk-off HRs in sweep over L.A.
4. Cardinals A 13-6 road record boosts Redbirds to best overall mark in NL.
5. Tigers Miguel Cabrera three home runs shy of Triple Crown position.
6. Braves 10-game roadie on tap against three +.500 teams.
7. Yankees Just one of last eight wins by more than two runs. #CloseGames
8. A’s Busy bullpen logged more innings than starters last week.
9. Nationals Must get Adam LaRoche’s bat going.
10. Royals Five postponements already this season.
11. Rockies Haven’t won two in a row since April 20.
12. Reds Hit just two homers, but won four of six last week.
13. Pirates 16-9 since horrendous 1-5 start.
14. Orioles First team to play 20 road games already this season.
15. Diamondbacks Only team in NL West with winning road record.
16. Rays No Rays hitter has been intentionally walked this season.
17. Phillies Offense bottomed out at .182 over last seven days.
18. Mariners Batting just .223 on the road.
19. Twins Lead-off hitters have majors-worst .248 OBP.
20. Brewers Cleanup hitters batting .188 with no home runs. 
21. Padres Jedd Gyorko making Rookie of the Year push.
22. Indians Batted .338 last week, which led majors.
23. Dodgers 64 extra-base hits rank lowest in majors.
24. Mets Of 37 runners in scoring position, Ike Davis has driven in eight.
25. White Sox Only Miami has scored fewer runs this season.
26. Angels Too talented — and too expensive — to be this far down.
27. Cubs Anthony Rizzo beginning to heat up — .357 last week.
28. Blue Jays Quickly settling in at the bottom of this list.
29. Marlins Swapping places with Houston may happen a lot in 2013.
30. Astros With eight wins, only team stuck in single digits.
AL Pitcher of the Week
Justin Verlander, Detroit
The Tigers’ ace has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his last five starts. Last week, in two outings, he pitched 14 innings and gave up just seven hits and four walks with 17 strikeouts. He won both games with an ERA of 0.64 and a 0.79 WHIP.
AL Player of the Week
Ryan Raburn, Cleveland
The former Detroit utilityman has found a home in right field in Cleveland. Last week, Raburn hit .591 with two four-hit games, a three-hit game and a two-hit game. He homered twice in back-to-back games for his only four long balls of the season. During the week, he raised his season batting average from .214 to .344.
NL Player of the Week
Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee
It appears that the fleet center fielder known for his defensive prowess has turned the corner offensively. Last week he hit .462 with three home runs. His eight runs, six extra-base hits and five steals all tied for the best in the majors.
NL Pitcher of the Week
Sergio Romo, San Francisco
San Francisco’s closer made five appearances last week and notched four saves and a win. He retired 15 of the 18 batters he faced, allowing just three singles. His durability and reliability permit Bruce Bochy to manage games cautiously to the Giants’ advantage.
<p> A look at the best and worst baseball teams in the league.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/how-many-big-ten-games-will-northwestern-win-2013

With Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Northwestern each deserving of consideration for the No. 1 spot, the Big Ten Legends Division should be one of the most competitive conference title races in college football.

Nebraska won the Legends Division with a 7-1 mark last season, while Northwestern finished two games back at 5-3. Although the Wildcats were just over .500 in conference play, they were just a few plays away from going 8-0. Northwestern lost by 11 to Penn State, by seven to Michigan and by one point to Nebraska.

Pat Fitzgerald’s team returns 15 starters for 2013, including quarterback Kain Colter and running back Venric Mark. The defense showed improvement last season and ranked 29th nationally in points allowed.

With a challenging schedule ahead, can Northwestern beat last year’s five wins in conference play?

The 2013 college football season is still over 100 days away, but it’s never too early to start talking predictions and expectations for each team going into 2013.

Athlon Sports’ college football top 25 countdown for 2013 is officially underway. Northwestern checks in as the No. 24 team for 2013. 

How Many Big Ten Games Will Northwestern Win in 2013?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
I’d be surprised if Northwestern finishes with a losing Big Ten record. I see four conference wins on the schedule (Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan State and Illinois), but that’s due to my pessimism about Iowa and Michigan State as much as anything else. The Wildcats look pretty good for 4-4 in the Big Ten with an outside shot at 5-3, but I know I’m a little more optimistic about Northwestern than most of my Athlon colleagues. I should know better, but it’s tough to ignore the skill position talent on offense with Kain Colter and Venric Mark. And that's just the start. Northwestern returns 15 starters from a team that won 10 games, led the Big Ten in takeaways, beat Mississippi State by two touchdowns in a bowl game and lost two of their three games in overtime and by one point. Throw in Northwestern’s chance to score an upset in Big Ten play, and I’ll take the over on four wins for the Cats.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
The first thing to understand about the 2013 Northwestern team is that it might be the most talented squad ever assembled in Evanston. The coaching staff is excellent and the depth is better than it has ever been before. However, the schedule is nasty. Every team in the Legends Division with the exception of Iowa has gotten better around them while crossover play includes the best two teams in the Leaders Division — Ohio State and at Wisconsin. The good news is three crucial divisional showdowns with Minnesota, Michigan State and Michigan will take place at home. There is a lot to be excited about with this team and if the offensive line can come together quickly, the Wildcats could develop into a surprise contender. But until this team proves it can consistently defeat teams that are clearly more talented — aka Nebraska, Penn State and Michigan a year ago — I can't pick Pat Fitzgerald's group to win more than three or four Big Ten games. Games on the road against Nebraska and Wisconsin as well at home tilts against conference championship game favorites Ohio State and Michigan mean anything over .500 in Big Ten would be a big success for Northwestern in '13. Give this team Michigan State's schedule and it could push for a Rose Bowl berth.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Considering how close Northwestern was to finishing 12-1 or even 13-0 last season, the Wildcats have to be in the discussion to win the Big Ten Legends Division in 2013. The only problem? A challenging schedule that features crossover matchups against Ohio State and Wisconsin. The Wildcats also have to play Nebraska on the road but host Michigan and Michigan State in Evanston.  

With the challenging crossover slate, matching last season’s 5-3 mark in conference play seems like the most realistic scenario. I think Northwestern can beat Michigan and Michigan State in November, although it won’t be easy with the games in back-to-back weeks. Assuming the Wildcats win those two matchups in November, that leaves Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin as the losses. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pat Fitzgerald’s team pull off an upset over the Buckeyes or Badgers, but I have to go with 5-3 as the final record in Big Ten play.

Kevin McGuire, and
I have said for years that Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald gets more out of his available talent than anyone else in the Big Ten. My biggest question about the Wildcats though is just how high is the ceiling?

Last year Northwestern was the master of blowing second half leads, but I think Fitzgerald has a good shot at finding ways to finish the job with a somewhat experienced roster coming back with 15 starters from a year ago. The Wildcats have players that can cause some problems for opposing defenses (Kain Colter, Venric Mark) but I have concerns about their offensive line and their defensive backs. Those two units are going to cost Northwestern at some point.

A quick look at the schedule shows a somewhat challenging year ahead of Northwestern. I would pencil in losses to Ohio State and Michigan but Northwestern gets those games at home. Road trips to Wisconsin and Nebraska could be losses if I were to pick right now, and there is something about going on the road to Cal to open the season against Sonny Dykes and his new-look Bears that worries me. I may be a bit of a pessimist looking at Northwestern this season, but I think they would be fortunate to end the regular season with eight wins, but I think seven is more realistic.

Mark Ross (@AthlonSports)
The Wildcats will probably start the season as a top-25 team and I think they have a good shot of finishing as one too. I fully expect this team to make it six straight bowl games under coach Pat Fitzgerald and I also think they have a chance to match last year's win total of 10 when all is said and done. However, to accomplish the latter they will need to likewise match 2012's Big Ten record of 5-3, and based on this season's conference slate, this will be no easy task.

Northwestern can't avoid Michigan, Nebraska or Michigan State since they are all in the Legends Division. Those three games should be the toughest in their own division, although the Wildcats catch a slight break by getting the Wolverines and Spartans at home. That's pretty much where the breaks stop, however, with Fitzgerald's team drawing Ohio State and Wisconsin from the Leaders side, along with what should be a gimme at Illinois to close out the regular season. Northwestern needs to win at least two of the Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin matchups to have any shot at repeating last season's 5-3 Big Ten mark.

I am a big Fitzgerald fan and also think the Wildcat offense led by running back Venric Mark and the quarterback tandem of Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian has a chance to be pretty special. The optimist in me has Northwestern successfully navigating the aforementioned difficult games on its Big Ten schedule while taking care of business during the other weeks. In the end, these Wildcats find a way to do no worse than last season's third-place finish in the Legends division by going 5-3 in conference play.

Related College Football Content

No. 24 Northwestern Wildcats 2013 Team Preview
Ranking the Big Ten Quarterbacks for 2013

Ranking the Big Ten Running Backs for 2013

Ranking the Big Ten Head Coaches for 2013

College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era

<p> How Many Big Ten Games Will Northwestern Win in 2013?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 06:58
Path: /nascar/david-ragan-slays-nascars-goliaths-talladega

Since it opened in 1969, Talladega has been NASCAR’s racetrack of extremes. When right, the sport’s decision to slap restrictor plates on brings out maximum excitement, the best opportunity for 43 teams to compete on a level playing field. Feel-good stories emerge, like the case of Bob Jenkins, a restaurant owner who has filtered more money into his three-car team just to run 25th, than most will make in a lifetime. Since 2005, he has toiled — once suffering through a season with more than 30 DNQs — and posting only two top-5 finishes in 403 starts prior to Sunday. The dream was to pursue a Sprint Cup victory, but a look at the stat sheet would point one towards financial self-destruction … or a man in need of mental help.

Now, Jenkins can point right back at his critics and towards a trophy that is rightfully his. Jenkins’ Front Row Motorsports drivers Ragan and David Gilliland produced the first 1-2 finish in team history in the Aaron’s 499, outclassing the Goliaths they race against through smarts and speed. At no other track — even Daytona, with NASCAR’s handling package — would such a victory be remotely possible. (Previous best finish for this team in 2013: Ragan’s 20th at Richmond.) It’s the type of victory that brings attention to the sport, giving executives something to sell, potential new car owners justification to compete and the backside of the NASCAR garage a reason for hope. No one will change the way these men feel about plate racing now; heck, you could strap a parachute to the car at Daytona and they’d be happy based on the parity that gives them a chance.

On the other side of the fence sits Ryan Newman whose season, if not more, was mere feet from being cut tragically short on Sunday when an entire car landed on the windshield of his No. 39 Chevrolet. As chaos unfolded in front of him, Kurt Busch’s Chevy entry landed, then rolled over Newman’s car in the midst of a 12-car melee that’s become all too common at Talladega. It’s not the first time the driver has been in physical danger; four years ago, this nasty flip (LINK: left the roll cage bent mere inches from his head.

“We had a race here in the spring, complaining about cars getting airborne,” Newman said then. “I wish NASCAR would do something. That’s not what anyone wants to see.”

Four years later, he’s saying the same words again, this time more viciously after not feeling that NASCAR has lifted a finger on the rules. No one will change the way Newman feels about plate racing now, he just doesn’t want himself or a competitor to end up dead.

Talladega. The land of extremes, where guilt, grief, miracles, merriment, disaster, disgust, rage and redemption come together as one. It’s why everyone is pushing for change, but as they do human nature makes it impossible to look away – keeping us in the same cycle forevermore.

FIRST GEAR: Two Davids snookered the field
Make no mistake, Ragan’s slice ‘n’ dice to the front of the pack would not have been possible without two things. One: Teammate David Gilliland, sitting on his back bumper and not letting go until the two cars were sitting out front. Those feeling like the “push” of tandem drafting was completely dead need to take a second look on how these cars were stuck together like superglue down the stretch.

“I know he wishes that he was sitting in my shoes right now,” said Ragan of his teammate, now winless in 232 Cup Series starts. “I kind of wish that he would have had a chance to win the race, too.”

I’m not sure Gilliland cared much, though. His whole family was in attendance to watch Ragan’s post-race presser, a sign of the teamwork atmosphere this underdog organization has pushed since the beginning. Fact: Ragan now has as many wins with this team (one) in just 15 months as he did in five full seasons driving for Roush Fenway Racing. Turns out all the money in the world can’t buy that all-important chemistry needed for those moments when people need to bring out the best in each other.

“He was driving for a top-tier team, had UPS as a sponsor and when he left, he bought into what we were trying to do at Front Row,” said Jenkins. “His expectations of himself and his team never changed. He didn't look at it as if, ‘Hey, I'm taking a step down here, I realize I'm going to be a back marker.’ He continues to expect a lot out of himself and a lot out of his team, and I think what happened is people bought into that and they followed behind him and we've seen results.”

That belief system brings me to point No. 2: it wasn’t shared by his Sprint Cup competitors. Go ahead, you have my permission to review that final lap. Notice how Matt Kenseth drifts up on the backstretch to draft with Carl Edwards as if he needs to stick with the No. 99 to have a shot. Had he stayed in the middle, the FRM duo would have been blocked and we’d be talking about a different winner today. As for Edwards, he just didn’t see the freight train until it was too late, taking a prime opportunity to win a plate race away from a man who’s been victimized far too often there.

“David just got us,” Edwards said. “He did his job. As long as I’m not upside down, in the fence, it was pretty clean.”

For an organization who, just a few weeks ago stated they needed extra sponsorship for several races the outcome at Talladega was nothing short of incredible.

SECOND GEAR: Is it all getting to Brad Keselowski?
One driver, though, was crying foul over Ragan’s miracle moment. Brad Keselowski, in several tweets after the race, felt his rival lined up in the wrong lane for the final restart. Several photos showed the cars trying to pass each other for position on the backstretch under yellow before NASCAR made the final call as to where Keselowski, Scott Speed and Ragan would line up. The verdict was Speed eighth, Keselowski ninth and Ragan 10th based on where they were at the last scoring loop when the caution came out. Were they right? Judge for yourself at the 2:42 mark of this clip. My take is that’s it’s far too close to call.

Either way, Keselowski was presumptuous to predict one change in lane would have earned him a victory – or cost Ragan one. Plate races are so unpredictable that you’ll get 1,000 different endings per 1,000 green-white-checker finishes. I just wonder, after a disappointing 15th-place finish, whether pressure is starting to get to the reigning champ. The final appeal for his Penske team is Tuesday, where 25 points and suspensions of his top four crew members appear imminent. Winless this season, he’s also posted back-to-back finishes outside the top 10 for the first time since Michigan and Sonoma last June. Every superstar, no matter his or her mental strength, goes through adversity; now might be Keselowski’s time, sitting fifth in points with just a single lap led over the last six events.

He just didn’t have to drag David Ragan into his own psychological hell.

THIRD GEAR: The racing was … what it was
I know. It sounds like a copout. Well, if you ask Newman, who joined Busch in the ranks of “Big One” Demolition Derbys, NASCAR racing here needs to be thrown in the trash bin:

"I am doing this interview to let everybody know I'm alright,” said Newman, who if NASCAR has any consistency (Denny Hamlin, anyone?) will be fined for the comments that follow. “They can build safer race cars, they can build safer walls. But they can't get their heads out of their asses far enough to keep them on the race track, and that's pretty disappointing. I wanted to make sure I get that point across. Y'all can figure out who 'they' is. That's no way to end a race ... I mean, you got what you wanted, but poor judgment and running in the dark and running in the rain.”

To be fair, most didn’t share the driver’s sentiment about the conditions of the track itself down the stretch. Only sprinkles could be felt in the final minutes and, while dark, the race ended earlier than the Nationwide Series event the day before. It’s the other part of Newman’s diatribe — the plate package — that would be under greater scrutiny if not for Ragan’s headline-saving win. I felt like Dale Earnhardt Jr. put it best:

“I don’t really know,” he said. “I don’t know – I thought it was alright, I guess.”

A classic “C, C+” type of response, and clearly not what NASCAR wants out of one of its fan-favorite facilities, especially after Earnhardt raved about the racing in Daytona. But that’s the truth. 30 lead changes were the least since 2002, when Earnhardt laid waste to the field. The draft, while handling multiple grooves unlike its sister track, had a tendency to “stop ‘n’ start.” There would be times when drivers would get stir crazy, and others — like for 30 laps after the rain delay — where they fell in line and passed the time.

It still seemed like, apart from the final lap, the line that had the most cars could make a difference, with the outside groove still holding a substantial edge. There’s work to be done here, although different rules can only do so much. Drivers are smarter. They know nothing matters at these races until less than 20 laps to go. Trying to force them to stay aggressive in the wake of what happened to Newman and Busch is like throwing them in the lion’s den and asking them to play.

<p> Reaction from NASCAR's weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.</p>
Post date: Monday, May 6, 2013 - 12:10
Path: /mlb/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-may-6

Stay tuned each week to Athlon Sports for a 2013 Fantasy Baseball Weekend Waiver Wire report every Monday. Our fantasy junkies cover the hottest hitters, best waiver wire pick ups, top starting pitching spot starts and sift through bullpens from around the league each week.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (Apr. 29-May 5):

  Name Pos. Team R HR RBI SB BA OPS
1. Carlos Gomez OF MIL 8 3 5 5 .462 1.495
2. Starling Marte OF PIT 7 4 8 3 .333 1.260
3. Ryan Raburn* 2B/OF CLE 5 4 9 0 .591 1.773
4. Miguel Cabrera 3B DET 8 3 10 0 .423 1.391
5. Mike Trout OF LAA 7 3 10 1 .313 1.121
6. Mark Trumbo 1B/3B/OF LAA 5 5 8 0 .286 1.286
7. Michael Saunders* OF SEA 8 3 6 1 .280 1.037
8. Prince Fielder 1B MIL 5 3 10 0 .333 1.122
9. Jason Kipnis 2B CLE 6 2 7 2 .308 1.049
10. Manny Machado 3B BAL 7 3 5 1 .333 1.108
11. Justin Ruggiano* OF MIA 8 3 5 1 .296 1.091
12. Carlos Gonzalez OF COL 6 2 4 1 .458 1.385
13. Nolan Arenado* 3B COL 5 3 8 0 .357 1.129
14. Matt Holliday OF STL 8 3 7 0 .259 .926
15. Jean Segura SS MIL 5 3 7 1 .286 1.043
16. Andy Dirks* OF DET 7 2 3 1 .385 1.140
17. Juan Pierre* OF MIA 6 0 1 5 .320 .734
18. Alfonso Soriano* OF CHC 5 2 7 0 .391 1.200
19. Allen Craig 1B/OF STL 6 1 7 0 .379 1.021
20. Adrian Beltre 3B TEX 5 2 7 0 .360 1.025
21. Mark Reynolds 1B/3B CLE 5 2 7 0 .348 .994
22. Yonder Alonso* 1B SD 4 2 8 1 .280 .841
23. David Wright 3B NYM 6 3 4 0 .333 1.257
24. Lorenzo Cain OF KC 5 0 5 2 .400 1.029
25. Michael Cuddyer 1B/OF COL 5 2 7 0 .333 1.060

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Yonder Alonso, 1B, SD (20% owned in Yahoo! leagues)
Guys with big-time pedigrees generally find their way onto my roster and if you need first base or batting average help, Alonso is a good place to look. He won't hit 30 bombs but he should be the top RBI man in San Diego and is on pace to blow past his rookie numbers from a year ago.

Ryan Rayburn, 2B/OF, CLE (27%)
The versatile two-sacker has always had spurts of fantasy greatness — try 45 homers in just over 1,000 at-bats from 2009-11 — but has never gotten a full season of action. His 387 ABs in 2011 were a career high. While he is in the lineup he is worth owning, especially with second-base eligibility.

Nolen Arenado, 3B, COL (49%)
True fantasy baseball geeks have known about the star Rockies third base prospect for some time now. But after 10 hits and three home runs in his first seven games, the whole world should know about Arenado. He is a big-time talent and while he is likely to hit his slumps, he is worth adding blindly if you need help at the corner infield position.

A.J. Pollock, OF, ARI (32%)
Last week I suggested an Arizona outfielder and Gerrardo Parra has six hits, a triple, home run and three RBIs in his last five games. This week, I am going back to the Diamondbacks' well with Pollock, one of manager Kirk Gibson's fill-in options until Adam Eaton (elbow) is ready. Pollock is a viable play in standard mixed leagues until Eaton returns, which still appears to be about a month away. Pollock won't give you much help in power departments — roughly one minor league HR per 100 at-bats — but he has always hit (.303 MiLB career BA) and can run. Sitting atop the D-Backs batting order makes him one of the hottest waiver wire names.

Last Week:

Nate McLouth: 3/19, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB
Gerrardo Parra: 4/19, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB
Oswaldo Arcia: 6/16, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB
Yuniesky Betancourt: 6/24, 3 R, 3 HR, 5 RBI, BB


Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

  Name Team IP W K ERA WHIP
1. Felix Hernandez SEA 22.0 3 23 0.41 0.77
2. Jordan Zimmerman WAS 17.0 2 12 0.00 0.24
3. Justin Verlander DET 21.0 2 21 0.86 0.95
4. Kevin Slowey* MIA 21.0 1 21 1.71 0.62
5. Clayton Kershaw LAD 20.0 1 22 1.35 0.85
6. Clay Buchholz BOS 14.2 2 18 1.23 0.89
7. Tony Cingrani CIN 19.0 1 25 2.84 0.63
8. Jaime Garcia* STL 21.2 3 9 1.25 0.97
9. Jeremy Guthrie* KC 15.2 2 8 0.00 0.89
10. Jeff Locke* PIT 18.0 2 13 1.50 0.83
11. Lance Lynn STL 14.0 2 14 1.29 0.86
12. Kyle Kendrick* PHI 16.0 2 10 1.13 0.81
13. Yu Darvish TEX 19.0 2 34 3.32 1.11
14. Anibal Sanchez DET 14.0 1 26 1.93 0.93
15. Chris Tillman* BAL 20.2 2 13 1.31 1.02
16. Phil Hughes* NYY 21.0 1 24 1.71 1.05
17. Scott Feldman* TEX 15.2 2 14 2.30 0.83
18. Cole Hamels PHI 22.0 1 20 2.05 0.91
19. Hisashi Iwakuma SEA 18.0 1 24 1.50 1.11
20. Max Scherzer DET 20.1 3 24 3.98 1.03

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

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

1. Hyin-Jin Ryu, LAD: Sat., Miami (75% owned)
Ryu at home in three starts this year: 18.2 IP, 2-1, 16 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 23 K. Additionally, he has 20 strikeouts, three earned runs and just six hits allowed in his last two starts prior to Sunday's trip to the Bay. With at least eight punch-outs in each of his four starts prior to pitching against the World Champs on Sunday, the Marlins should pose no threat to the Korean import.

2. Patrick Corbin, ARI: Thur., Philadelphia (59%)
I went to the Corbin well last week and it netted me this: 7.0, W, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K. Thursday's opponent will certainly be tougher than San Diego but Corbin has been lights out all year: 4-0, 1.80 ERA, 1.08 WHIP.

3. Jose Fernandez, MIA: Fri., at LA Dodgers (33%)
Wins won't be easy for the young Cuban star, but he should still be able to help any rotation when he has his best stuff. He just got his first win at Philadelphia — no easy park to pitch in — by retiring 21 of the 23 batters he faced (7.0, H, B, 0 ER, 9 K). He has nasty stuff and is scheduled to face a HanRam-less Dodgers lineup the end of this week.

4. Kyle Kendrick, PHI: Tues., at San Francisco, Sun., at Arizona (43%)
Getting two starts against two solid teams isn't an elite option but Kendrick has been consistent for most of the year. In six starts since his first, he hasn't allowed more than two earned runs and has posted between four and six strikeouts in each game. He is also 3-0 in those trips to the mound. Two-start pitchers are always worth a look, especially in weekly leagues.

5. Jhoulys Chacin, COL: (Sat.) at St. Louis (47%)
His return from the DL was acceptable with five earned allowed over seven innings against Tampa Bay on Sunday. The year-to-date numbers (2.56/1.04), however, have been excellent and the Rockies have provided their pitching staff with the most run support in the majors.

Closing Morsels:

The Dodgers could be facing a developing situation in their pen. Brandon League has been the designated closer for the season and his eight saves are near the league leaders. Yet, he has allowed a run in four of his five outings and isn't striking people out. Paging Kenley Jansen (frankly, I never liked the League move anyway)... Arizona also has an issue brewing in its pen. Kirk Gibson gave J.J. Putz the dreaded vote of confidence this week after Putz blew his fourth save of the season. Putz has allowed six runs in 12.2 innings and has allowed a home run in three of his last seven outings. David Hernandez and Matt Reynolds appear to be the watch list names... Former set-up man turned closer turned set-up man Kyuji Fujikawa began his rehab assignment on Sunday and is close to returning. He will come back as Kevin Gregg's eighth inning guy for the time being. Gregg has yet to allow a run and is 4-for-4 in save chances through 7.0 innings this year.

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

<p> Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: May 6</p>
Post date: Monday, May 6, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/10-teams-may-end-secs-national-title-streak-2013

Spring practice has finished for all 125 Football Bowl Subdivision teams for 2013. And with spring workouts over, the picture for the national championship battle is starting to come into focus.

The SEC has won seven championships in a row, but will that streak end in 2013? Alabama is a heavy favorite, but as every year shows, anything can happen. The main threat to another national champion coming from the SEC is Ohio State, but Oregon isn’t too far behind. And of course, there’s always a threat from within the conference. What happens if the SEC teams beat up on one another too much, preventing a team from finishing unbeaten? That’s the reason Georgia, South Carolina and Texas A&M make this list.

Can the SEC take another national title? Or will another team knock the SEC off its perch? Athlon will unveil its top 25 teams for 2013 beginning on May 7, with our pick to win the national title coming later this month.

Top 10 Teams Ready to End the SEC’s Title Streak

1. Ohio State
With the postseason ban over, Ohio State is positioned to be Alabama’s biggest threat to another national title in 2013. The Buckeyes return 13 starters, including one of the front-runners to win the Heisman Trophy in quarterback Braxton Miller. Under coach Urban Meyer last season, Miller threw for 2,039 yards and 15 scores and rushed for 1,271 yards and 13 touchdowns. With the supporting cast improving, Miller won’t have as much pressure on his shoulders and should be a more polished passer in 2013. And the junior will be protected by a line that returns four starters and should rank among the best nationally. The biggest question mark for Ohio State is a defense that struggled at times last year. The Buckeyes ranked 76th nationally against the pass and sixth in the Big Ten in scoring and total defense. Only four starters are back on defense, and the defensive line is essentially starting over with the departure of four key players. Despite those concerns, linebacker Ryan Shazier is back, and the secondary should be much improved. Even though the line was decimated by departures, Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington are future stars in the Big Ten. Ohio State’s schedule isn’t too difficult, so another 12-0 season isn’t out of the question. If Miller stays healthy, the Buckeyes will be playing for a national title in January.

2. Oregon
Chip Kelly left for the NFL, but the cupboard in Eugene is far from bare. Quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back De’Anthony Thomas lead an offense that should once again rank among the best in the nation. The receiving corps is deep with options, which should allow Mariota to throw more in 2013. While losing end/linebacker Dion Jordan and linebackers Kiko Alonso and Michael Clay is a huge setback for the defense, seven starters are back, including cornerbacks Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Terrance Mitchell. The Ducks have to play at Stanford on Nov. 7 but catch UCLA at home and won’t play Arizona State or USC in crossover play. New coach Mark Helfrich is unproven, but his familiarity with the returning talent should keep Oregon among the top five teams in the nation next season.

3. Georgia and 4. South Carolina
It may seem strange to have an SEC team on this list, but there are scenarios in which a team from college football’s top conference misses the title game or a team from the East pulls an upset in the conference title game. Assuming Alabama finishes 12-0, Georgia (or South Carolina) could be its biggest threat. If the Bulldogs or Gamecocks have one loss and beat the Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship Game, it’s unlikely Alabama could get back into the national title picture. Although Georgia and South Carolina are solid teams, neither appear to be as strong as Alabama. The Bulldogs will have one of the SEC’s best offenses, but the defense has to be rebuilt. The Gamecocks return a Heisman candidate in defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, along with two potential starting quarterbacks in Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson. Georgia and South Carolina both miss Alabama during the regular season, so the only chance both teams will have to try and knock out the Crimson Tide will be in Atlanta in early December.

5. Clemson
2013 isn’t shaping up to be a banner year for the ACC, but Clemson is comfortably one of the top 10 teams in the nation. The Tigers lost only two games last year – Florida State and South Carolina – and return 13 starters from 2012. Tajh Boyd is one of college football’s top five quarterbacks and directs an offense that averaged 41 points a game last season. Boyd will have to find a new go-to target with DeAndre Hopkins leaving for the NFL, but Sammy Watkins is poised to regain his freshman form (82 catches) in 2013. The biggest question mark on offense is finding a new go-to running back, along with finding a dependable tight end after Sam Cooper was lost for the season with a torn ACL in the spring. The defense made strides late last year, and more should be expected in the second go-round under coordinator Brent Venables. The front seven is deep on experience, but the secondary needs to tighten up after ranking 71st nationally against the pass last year. Outside of Florida State, Clemson doesn’t have much to worry about in the ACC. With the Seminoles coming to Death Valley, the Tigers are an overwhelming favorite to win the conference. Of course, beating two SEC opponents – Georgia in the season opener and South Carolina on Nov. 30 – is the key to Clemson’s national title hopes.

6. Stanford
The defending Pac-12 champs are loaded for another run at the national title. But the Cardinal will have to fill a few key areas, after the departures of running back Stepfan Taylor (4,300 yards), two of the nation’s top tight ends (Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo) and standout linebacker Chase Thomas. While the personnel losses are significant, Stanford does return quarterback Kevin Hogan, along with one of the nation’s top offensive lines. Center Sam Schwartzstein must be replaced up front, but the Cardinal aren’t hurting for talent in the trenches. Stanford’s defense should remain strong despite the departure of Thomas, especially with Shayne Skov and Trent Murphy returning to anchor the linebacker unit. The secondary is also in great shape, especially with rising star Alex Carter at cornerback. The schedule is manageable, as Stanford hosts Oregon on Nov. 7 and catches two of the top three teams in the Pac-12 South at home (Arizona State and UCLA). If there’s a question mark on this team, it’s a passing attack that lost two key weapons at tight end and has no proven playmakers at receiver.

7. Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish finished the regular season 12-0 last year but were thoroughly dominated by Alabama in the national championship game. Notre Dame caught a few lucky bounces last season, winning five games by a touchdown or less – including two overtime thrillers against Stanford and Pittsburgh. Despite losing linebacker Manti Te’o, the Fighting Irish could be a better team in 2013. The offense played better in the second half of the season, but quarterback Everett Golson was suspended in May for the 2013 season. With Golson out, Notre Dame will turn to Tommy Rees as the starter. Running back is a concern with the departures of Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood, but USC transfer Amir Carlisle, George Atkinson III and incoming freshman Greg Bryant should be a capable trio. The defense is loaded in the trenches, as end Stephon Tuitt and tackle Louis Nix III are two of the best linemen in the nation. The schedule is challenging once again, but with a better offense, Notre Dame could make another run at the national championship.

8. Texas A&M
The Aggies could fire the first strike in knocking off the SEC from the top spot in 2013. Texas A&M hosts Alabama on Sept. 14 and hopes to repeat last year’s 29-24 upset win in Tuscaloosa. If the Aggies knock off the Crimson Tide, they would jump into the early driver’s seat for a spot in the national title game. And while Texas A&M could run the table and finish unbeaten, there’s also a good chance it loses at LSU. But are the Aggies a better team than last year? Probably not. Texas A&M must fill some voids on defense, as end Damontre Moore and linebackers Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart are gone. And now that the rest of the SEC has a full year of game tape and time to plan for quarterback Johnny Manziel, it may be tough to repeat last year’s success. However, the Aggies are still one of college football’s top 10 teams. If Texas A&M knocks off Alabama in early September, it could be the first chance for the rest of college football to keep the SEC out of the national championship, provided Ohio State and Oregon run the table and finish unbeaten.

9. Louisville
With an easy schedule and one of the nation’s top quarterbacks under center, Louisville could have the most favorable path to a 12-0 mark in 2013. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw for 3,718 yards and 27 scores last season and had a standout performance in the Sugar Bowl win over Florida (266 yards, two touchdowns). Bridgewater will be throwing to one of the nation’s top receiving corps, but the offensive line must replace two key starters, including center Mario Benavides. The Cardinals ranked 23rd nationally in total defense last season but need to get tougher against the run after allowing 148 yards on the ground per game in 2012. Most of the defense returns intact, but cornerback Adrian Bushell is a big loss. Louisville doesn’t have a strong nonconference schedule, so winning and looking impressive in Big East play is a must.

10. Oklahoma State
Let’s be honest: It’s a longshot the SEC doesn’t win or at least play for the national title. And it could be an even bigger mountain for a team from the Big 12 to play for the championship in 2013. We list Oklahoma State as the very early front-runner to win the conference crown, but it’s really anyone’s guess with Texas, TCU and Oklahoma all having legitimate Big 12 title hopes. The Cowboys return 12 starters and should have one of the conference’s top offenses with the return of receiver Josh Stewart and running back Jeremy Smith. The defense has room to improve against the pass, and there’s very little in the way of proven depth at defensive end. With a favorable schedule, however, Oklahoma State seems to have the most favorable path to a Big 12 title. Make no mistake: It’s certainly a longshot that Oklahoma State can get to the title game this year. However, if Clint Chelf settles into the quarterback spot, a champion of the Big 12 can never be counted out of the national title picture.

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<p> 10 Teams That May End the SEC's National Title Streak in 2013</p>
Post date: Monday, May 6, 2013 - 07:45
Path: /college-football/notre-dame-top-five-team-2013

Notre Dame is always one of the most polarizing teams when it comes to preseason rankings.

The Fighting Irish are coming off a 12-1 season but was handled by Alabama in the national championship game.

The offense should be better in 2013, especially with quarterback Everett Golson having another offseason under his belt. Notre Dame also returns a solid offensive line, and the defense will remain one of the nation’s best, despite losing linebacker Manti Te’o.

Notre Dame’s schedule isn’t easy, but the Fighting Irish navigated a tough slate to finish unbeaten last year. 

The 2013 college football season is still over 100 days away, but it’s never too early to start talking predictions and expectations for each team going into 2013.

Athlon Sports’ official college football top 25 countdown for 2013 will begin in early May. With the top 25 and predictions in mind, Athlon’s editors will be debating some of the hottest topics from the preseason throughout May. 

Is Notre Dame a Top-Five Team for 2013?

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
This is a great debate that has many different angles to consider. Traditionally, the Irish play one of, if not the, most difficult schedules in the nation. So if Notre Dame wins 10 or more games, they generally have earned a lofty ranking. However, two losses would likely knock Brian Kelly's squad out of the top five. Home games with Oklahoma, Michigan State, USC and BYU are brutal while road trips to Michigan, Stanford and Pittsburgh (and Purdue and Air Force) are tough. As is the neutral site test with the likely Pac-12 South favorite Arizona State in Cowboys Stadium.

Offensively, Notre Dame should be better as Everett Golson has become the clear leader of this team now that Manti Te'o is gone. Defensively, replacing Te'o won't be easy but the defensive line and secondary could actually be better in '13. Does this team run the table in the regular season again in '13? I say no. But one loss, say, to the Wolverines early in the year on the road, won't knock them out of the top five. The Irish will go 11-1, get a another BCS bowl bid and finish justifiably ranked in the top five.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Even though Notre Dame may lose a regular season game or two this year, I think there’s a chance the Fighting Irish are a better overall team in 2013. That may seem strange to say considering Notre Dame made the national championship game last season, but the Fighting Irish are deeper in terms of talent, and quarterback Everett Golson will be better in his second year as the starter.

Linebacker Manti Te’o will be tough to replace, but Notre Dame’s defensive line will be one of the best in the nation, and the secondary is in great shape after allowing only 199.8 passing yards per game in 2012.

Despite being a better team, I don’t think Notre Dame will be ranked in the top-five at the end of the season. Every break seemed to go the Fighting Irish’s way last season, and the schedule features tough road games against Michigan, Stanford and a neutral site affair against Arizona State. Notre Dame will play in a BCS bowl this season, but I think they finish just outside of the top five. 

Mark Ross (@AthlonSports)
My initial inclination would be to say no, but then again I don't think anyone really predicted the Fighting Irish would run the table in the regular season last fall either. Motivation shouldn't be an issue for this team, considering how poorly Notre Dame performed in the BCS title game, but there will be no lack for competition atop the rankings either.

Starting with defending national champion Alabama, the SEC could have as many as three teams in the top five when you also throw Georgia, South Carolina and Texas A&M into the mix. Then there's Ohio State and possibly Michigan from the Big 12, Oregon and Stanford from the Pac-12 and Clemson from the ACC. That's without including anyone from the Big 12 (Oklahoma State? Oklahoma?) or a potential dark horse like Louisville from the AAC (former Big East) or Boise State from the MWC that has added a championship game to help improve its BCS profile.

In other words, there are a lot of teams Notre Dame would have to, in essence, climb over to get into the top five in the first place and then stay there. As was the case last year, the Irish do have one thing going for them - their schedule. As an independent, the Irish can largely dictate their own schedule, which because of established rivalries and other factors, is usually pretty strong. This season is no different with the aforementioned Cardinal, Sooners and Wolverines on tap, as well as Pac-12 contender Arizona State, BYU, Michigan State and USC.

It's really quite simple for Brian Kelly and his Irish - win them all (again) and they'll be right back in the BCS mix. Will they accomplish this in 2013? I have my doubts even though starting quarterback Everett Golson should be even better in his second season, and one of the nation's best defenses in 2012 returns eight starters including All-America candidates in linemen Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt.

It's not easy to win every regular-season game once, let alone twice in a row, and let's face it, Notre Dame got several fortuitous bounces and breaks last season on it way to 12-0 by the end of November. I don't see the luck of the Irish in full effect this fall and the strength of the schedule will result in at least one slip up. That doesn't mean Kelly can't lead his team back to a BCS bowl, but I do think the Irish will end up outside of the top five when the regular season ends.


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<p> Is Notre Dame a Top-Five Team for 2013?</p>
Post date: Monday, May 6, 2013 - 07:40
Path: /nascar/wild-nationwide-finish-highlights-inconsistent-nascar-calls

A wild finish to Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Talladega Superspeedway once again led to confusion concerning how the sanctioning body scores finishes on the sport’s two restrictor plate tracks.

A quick glance at the final lap of the race — in an event that was shortened due to impending darkness and that battled precipitation throughout the day — shows the three cars of Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano and Regan Smith racing to the start-finish line with the checkered flag in the air. Meanwhile, chaos ensues when a multi-car accident breaks out behind the trio as yellow caution lights flash.

NASCAR obviously made the right call to display the caution — and I rarely use the word “obviously.” Cars were wrecking at nearly 200 mph. I mean, how do you not wave the yellow flag?

However, confusion over who was flagged the winner reigned when NASCAR took time to review the final dash. Television commentators and print media on Twitter initially, and tentatively, believed Kahne beat Logano and Smith to the line by a nose. One NASCAR scoring monitor in the media center even showed Logano’s No. 22 car at the top of the scoring list. In post-race interviews, the drivers themselves admitted to racing to the start-finish line, believing that mark would determine the winner.

That wasn’t the case, though. In actuality, NASCAR scored Smith the victor for being in the lead when the caution was displayed. In essence, the field was frozen at that moment.

So what’s the beef? Seems clear-cut, right?


And the reason it’s not is because the race directors in the scoring tower seem to waver in their judgment each and every time the series visits Daytona and Talladega.

In Saturday’s instance, a massive wreck in the tri-oval on the final lap constituted a caution flag that, in NASCAR’s judgment, froze the field. Thus, racing to the start-finish line was negated; Smith was declared the winner for being in front at the second the yellow was displayed. However, in countless other cases the sanctioning body has thrown (or not thrown) a caution in a last-lap mess while allowing the leaders that were beyond the fray — and in the clear — to drag race back to the line where the winner was flagged.

The most notable instance? Look no further than the sport’s most prestigious race, the Daytona 500. In 2007, Mark Martin and Kevin Harvick raced through the tri-oval and back to the line as cars wrecked, in one case upside down and on fire, behind them. Martin’s initial reaction, as captured in audio on his in-car radio, was that he led at the time the melee unfolded. So he was the winner, right? NASCAR, however, did not freeze the field, flagging Harvick the winner at the start-finish line, instead.

Was this decision made because it was the Daytona 500? Because the sport’s most attentive audience watched by the millions on network television in a prime-time slot? Because it needed a “true” finish?

Hard to say. Though that should not factor into the decision-making process.

Admittedly, each race (and final-lap wreck) is different, with its own unique set of circumstances and perils. But the fact that the drivers — not to mention fans and media — are unclear as to what the ruling will be is a problem that dogs the sport’s decision makers. Further, the fact that on Saturday, Kahne, Logano and Smith ignored the caution lights and continued to race back to the start-finish line implies that it was their belief that that line — not a scoring loop or a frozen-field judgment call — would determine who went to Victory Lane. After all, how can they be expected to let off if the ruling could be any one of three alternatives? Cover all your bases, boys.

Few would argue that driver and fan safety is paramount. So why is it that safety is sometimes ignored in favor of a thrilling finish, while other times it prompts a “stoppage in play” as the leaders scream to the finish?

Who won and who lost is inconsequential in this, or any, instance. Consistency from NASCAR is all that is asked by fans, media and competitors. Unfortunately, the only consistency the sport has ever displayed is in its habitual subjectivity of how to score the most important lap of the race — the final one.

And that’s where confusion still reigns.

<p> An inconsistent call by NASCAR finds Regan Smith the winner in the Aaron's 312 at Talladega after a wild, accident-marred final lap.</p>
Post date: Sunday, May 5, 2013 - 12:12