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Great scorers find a way to get the job done.
These aren’t one-dimensional players who take 3-pointers or jump shots. These are the players you want to have the ball in their hands when the game is on the line.
They’ll create their own shot, they’ll take a jumper, they’ll drive to the basket or they’ll get to free throw line.
Leading the way in our superlatives in this category is Russ Smith. The Louisville guard still plays wild at times on both ends of the court, but those tendencies have been channeled to make him one of the most dynamic and entertaining players in the country for 2013-14. A player not normally linked with efficiency, he was named the kenpom.com Player of the Year for his offensive metrics and role in the Cardinals’ defense.
Our list of the nation’s best scorers is one in a series of superlatives to prepare you for the 2013-14 season. Each list and more can be found in the the Athlon Sports College Basketball 2013-14 Preseason Annual . The magazine hits newsstands this week with previews for every team in every conference, plus exclusive Q&As with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Louisville’s Russ Smith and UCLA’s Kyle Anderson.
Previous: Shooters | Next: Slashers
|2013-14 Superlatives: Top Scorers|
|1||Russ Smith, Louisville|
Smith could make the case as the nation’s most valuable players last season and one of the most improved. He became more involved in the offense yet his shooting efficiency numbers went up. He’s also adept at getting to the free throw line, shooting 80.4 percent.
|2||Tyler Haws, BYU|
Haws returned from an LDS mission to average 21.7 points per game. He may need to put up Jimmer-like numbers this season as BYU will have a depleted roster. A scary thought: This is the first time he’s gone through a full offseason program.
|3||Semaj Christon, Xavier|
Christon is primed to break out on the national scene after playing through an elbow injury for a subpar Xavier team last season. He still averaged 15.2 points and 4.6 assists. You’ll get to know him thanks to a year of experience and Big East exposure.
|4||Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati|
Kilpatrick is a rarity in college basketball: The fifth-year senior. His experience will be an asset for the Bearcats, as will his scoring touch. He averaged 17 points per game, but they weren’t terribly efficient (14.4 field goal attempts per game).
|5||Jordan Adams, UCLA|
His injury late in the season was considered devastating to the Bruins’ postseason hopes. Despite Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson on the roster, Adams may have been the most valuable freshman, averaging 15.3 points per game.
|6||Markel Brown, Oklahoma State|
Brown started out as a dunker, but he made major strides last season to become a more complete scorer. The senior averaged 15.3 points, raising his efficiency numbers across the board.
|7||Bryce Cotton, Providence|
A good enough scorer to give a dogged defender like Russ Smith fits, Cotton led the Big East at 19.7 points per game. He started his season as the point guard but was too valuable a scorer to be a distributor.
|8||C.J. Wilcox, Washington|
Wilcox may be the best pure shooter in the Pac-12 and will be the key player on a team looking to return to the NCAA Tournament after a two-year absence. More consistent point guard play will help.
|9||Shabazz Napier, Connecticut|
Napier is the most valuable member of one of the nation’s best backcourts. A bit player on UConn’s 2011 national championship team, Napier showed plenty of clutch play as a junior when he averaged 17.1 points per game.
|10||Tim Frazier, Penn State|
Winning basketball games isn’t easy for Penn State, particularly when the Nittany Lions’ best player goes down with a Achilles’ injury in November. Frazier returns this season after averaging 18.8 points and 6.2 assists in his last healthy season.
OTHER SCORER SUPERLATIVES
Key veteran: Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
Super sophomore: Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova
Breakout to watch: D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown
NIT to the big time: Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa
The great start to the 2013 season continues for the Miami Hurricanes. During Miami's 77-7 win against Savannah State, the Hurricane faithful showed they can be just off their creative side by parodying Ylvis's "The Fox", which has become the internet's newest viral music video. The song was tweaked to include references to each of the ACC teams' mascots, as well as, Miami's Sebastian the Ibis.
The Buckeyes will bring back their Nike Rivalry uniforms, which featured chrome helmets and green buckeye stickers. Ohio State first showcased the Rivalry jerseys last year against Michigan where the clinched a perfect 12-0 season with a 26-21 victory. It has been announced that the Buckeyes will go with the rivalry look at home once more this season. Thoughts are that it will be Penn State.
It was also revealed that the Rivalry uniforms will be worn once again versus the Michigan Wolverines, athough Nike has made the Buckeyes a white road version of the Rivalry jersey for their trek up north.
Can confirm that Ohio State will be wearing Nike Rivalry uniforms against Wisconsin and Michigan.— Andrew Lind (@LindLGHL) September 25, 2013
One more day until Week 5 starts.
Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)
College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Wednesday, September 25th
Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion is off to a fast start this year - and there was no guarantee he would be the starter after fall practice.
Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage gets highlighted for his Week 4 performance against Duke.
This story isn't college football related, but check out Lost Lettermen's story of an Auburn lacrosse player who reenacted Grand Theft Auto.
Ole Miss linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche could return to the lineup against Alabama.
Alabama's secondary remains a work in progress.
Florida State safety Tyler Hunter suffered a neck injury against Bethune-Cookman.
Here are five tough questions and five answers for Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio.
Ole Miss is expected to pickup a transfer from UCLA.
Is Zach Mettenberger or Aaron Murray a better pro prospect?
Minnesota is not expected to have quarterback Philip Nelson back from injury this Saturday.
Virginia Tech cornerback Antone Exum is close to returning.
USC coach Lane Kiffin expects quarterback Cody Kessler and receiver Marqise Lee to play on Saturday, after both players suffered injuries in Week 4.
TCU coach Gary Patterson has made a few moves to spark the offense.
Even though FIU coach Ron Turner is struggling, it doesn't appear the first-year coach is in any danger.
Kent State running back Dri Archer is expected to return to action against Western Michigan.
UCLA is ready to begin fundraising for a new football facility.
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 Sprint Cup Series driver classes — A-List, B-List, C-List. The main picks are designed to make optimal use of Yahoo!’s 9-start maximum rule over the course of the season. The “also consider” section ranks unmentioned drivers strictly by expected result without consideration of start limitations.
Next: AAA 400 (Dover International Speedway)
Race: 400 laps, 400 miles (1-mile oval)
June 2013 Winner: Tony Stewart
Jimmie Johnson Look at that No. 48 Chevrolet, with driver Jimmie Johnson, silently waiting in the wings of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. After two races, he's third behind Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch and ready to pounce, just 18 points back after the front two have stolen all of the playoff headlines. Don't be surprised when it's Johnson up front late in the going Sunday afternoon at Dover International Speedway. Remember, it was Johnson in June who looked destined to notch another win at Dover before NASCAR ruled he jumped a late restart. The cost? Johnson finished 17th after leading 143 laps and missed out on his eighth career Dover win.
Why fight it? Matt Kenseth is two-for-two in the Chase. Heck, he's Jimmie Johnson-ing this thing. You have to expect that to continue at Dover — a track where Kenseth's statistics far outrank those at Chicagoland Speedway or New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Kenseth is a two-time Dover winner and has 13 top-5 finishes in 29 starts. Kenseth's average running position at Dover in the last 17 races ranks as the second-best in the series (we've already listed the top performer) and he's returning to a track where he led 29 laps in June before his engine expired.
Also consider: Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick
Kyle Busch blew an engine at Dover in the spring 2012 race, and that was significant for more than just being another in a long list of Toyota-built issues. That 29th-place finish in 2012 marked the first time since the fall of 2009 that Busch had finished worse than sixth at Dover. In the two Dover races since, Busch has gotten back on track. He was seventh last fall (and would have won without a finish determined by fuel mileage) and ran fourth in June. Oh, and Busch has led 452 of the last 800 laps at Dover. He's a no-brainer start for Sunday.
Greg BiffleThe most unheralded finish in Sunday's race in Loudon was Greg Biffle's third-place run. Biffle had the second fewest top-5 finishes among Chase-eligible drivers before the playoffs began, and used the run to jump to fifth in the standings. He may be able to pair the solid finish with another at Dover where he's been a consistent performer. By career average finish, the Monster Mile is Biffle's fourth-best track — a measure he's proven with two wins and six top-5s. Biffle hasn't been as solid at Dover of late, finishing 15th in June. But he was also 15th in the first NHMS race of the season before his third-place run in the return.
Carl Edwards, like most Roush-Fenway Racing drivers, likes Dover. Like his teammate Biffle, the one-mile track counts as Edwards' fourth best in terms of career average finish. Edwards is also a former winner at Dover, and during his near-miss season in 2011 he led 233 laps in the two Dover races. Edwards was an average 14th at Dover back in June, but he's hard to pass up for Sunday's race among B-list drivers thanks to a career average running position at the track of 10.3. That's good enough for third-best among all active drivers.
Juan Pablo MontoyaUndoubtedly, Juan Pablo Montoya doesn't seem like much of a favorite at Dover. His average running position at the track is quite low among the B-list types (19.7). He's finished worse than 22nd at Dover in five of the last seven races at the track. But Montoya, destined for a return to IndyCar next season after his contract with Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing wasn't renewed, was just a couple of laps from winning at Dover earlier this season. A lot went right to get him a second-place finish in July, but it didn't happen with a poor handling car. Combine that result with his third-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway just five weeks ago, and Montoya may be the lucky pick for a team scrapping the barrel for results from drivers with plenty of fantasy starts left.
Also consider: Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Stenhouse quietly ended his two-race burst of top-10 finishes last week with a 24th-place run at NHMS, but that shouldn't leave you wondering if he's back to the often-struggling Stenhouse of early 2013. If you've got starts left for the rookie at this point, he's still the best bet available among C-list competitors. Consider, too, that Stenhouse is making his third-career Dover start this weekend after successful outings of 12th and 13th in his first two. If Stenhouse can work out a similar finish on Sunday, that'll be plenty good for the toughest list to pick in 2013.
The June Dover race brought an unusual number of C-list drivers into the race's top 25 (five in all) and the second-best among them was Casey Mears. Mears was 16th that day, and was actually statistically better throughout the race than Stenhouse who finished just ahead of him. Mears' average running position was 17th, one spot ahead of Stenhouse. That average position number was also Mears' second best of the season (he averaged 16th at the July Daytona race) to date.
Also consider: David Ragan, Ryan Truex
Follow Geoffrey Miller on Twitter: @GeoffreyMiller
No. 6 LSU visits No. 9 Georgia on Saturday in what is the biggest game of college football's Week 5 slate. Each team has national championship aspirations, and this is a critical game for both teams moving towards Atlanta. Les Miles and Mark Richt are two of the winningest active SEC coaches, and this weekend their paths will cross in a big way.
Here are the 10 stats you need to know about the matchup:
2-2: Les Miles and Mark Richt head-to-head record
Miles and Richt have faced each other just four times in their esteemed careers, all four of which coming in the SEC. The two have met twice in the regular season with Richt winning a shootout 52-38 in Baton Rouge in 2008 and LSU returning the favor 20-13 in Athens in '09. The other two meetings took place in Atlanta in the SEC Championship game. Richt and the Dawgs won the 2005 SEC title with ease 34-14 while Miles’ Tigers dominated 42-10 to win the conference title in '11. This is clearly a rubber match of sorts for these two quality coaches.
9-7: Les Miles' record against the SEC East
Miles is 48-17 all-time in SEC play, including the win over Auburn last weekend. Seven of those 17 losses have come against the SEC East. Under Miles, LSU is 4-4 against the Florida Gators, split with Kentucky and Georgia (1-1), beat South Carolina once and is 2-1 against the Tennessee Volunteers. On top of his 9-7 record with the East in the regular season, Miles is 2-1 in SEC Championship Games against the East (2005, '07, '11).
16-12-1: LSU’s all-time series lead over Georgia
LSU leads the all-time series with Georgia, winning 16 times to the Bulldogs 12 with one 13-13 tie in 1950. These two have played just six times in the regular season since the divisional split in 1992 with UGA winning four of those six. Strangely, these two played just twice (1978-79) between 1953 and 1986 — a void that will never happen again between two conference foes.
55th: Highest-rated offense LSU has faced this year
The LSU defense has always been salty under Miles and John Chavis’ leadership. The Tigers are ranked 24th nationally with 310.0 yards allowed per game at a tidy 4.6 yards per play. That said, Auburn’s 55th-ranked offense is the best unit the Bayou Bengals have faced in 2013. UAB currently ranks 69th in total offense, TCU is 94th and Kent State is 120th. It is safe to say that Aaron Murray and Georgia will easily be the toughest offense LSU has faced all season. More on that in a second…
7.8: Offensive yards per play by Georgia
The Dawgs are sixth in the nation — trailing only Texas A&M in the SEC — with 574 yards of offense per game. They rank seventh nationally at 7.8 yards per play this season after leading the nation in yards per play in 2012 (7.1 ypp). Georgia averaged 7.8 yards per play against Clemson (70 plays, 545 yards) and 7.1 yards per play against South Carolina (76 plays, 536 yards). Both of those would have led the nation a year ago.
7.5: Offensive yards per play by LSU
Georgia’s offense is outstanding but LSU’s unit has been nearly as effective through the first month of the season. LSU ranks just 33rd in total offense (480.3 ypg) but is nearly as efficient as the Bulldogs per play, averaging 7.5 yards per snap this fall. That is ninth nationally and well ahead of offensive teams like UCLA, Ohio State, and Oklahoma State.
116.6: Zach Mettenberger's passer rating in conference play in 2012
The biggest turn around for LSU this season will be the development of quarterback Zach Mettenberger. He was 84th nationally among all quarterbacks in conference play with a 116.6 rating last season. He was ahead of only Missouri’s James Franklin in SEC play with a 54.9-percent completion rate, 205.3 yards passing per game and just five touchdowns in eight SEC games. After four games (one SEC) under the tutelage of Cam Cameron, Mettenberger is sixth nationally in passing efficiency (193.6) with a 64.8 completion percentage and 256.5 yards per game. That said, his only interception of the season came last week against Auburn and he posted his lowest yardage total (229) of the year.
197.5: All-purpose yards per game by Odell Beckham Jr.
A big reason why Mettenberger and Cameron have been successful through the air has been the play of LSU’s wide receivers. Odell Beckham Jr., in particular, has been dynamic for the Tigers by leading the SEC in all-purpose yards with nearly 200 yards per game. He has 389 receiving yards, 33 rushing yards, 78 punt return yards and 190 kick return yards with five total touchdowns in four games. Packaged with Jarvis Landry, who has 24 catches for 364 yards and six touchdowns, the Bayou Bengals may boast the best WR tandem in the SEC. No one else on the team has more than three catches.
242.7: Rushing yards per game for Todd Gurley and Jeremy Hill
Todd Gurley ranks first in the SEC and 11th nationally with 125.7 yards rushing per game. Jeremy Hill ranks third in the SEC and 18th nationally with 117.0 yards rushing per game. Even more impressive, Gurley is averaging a healthy 6.0 yards per carry while Hill is posting an astounding 8.4-yard clip. The duo might be the two of the most physically gifted runners in the nation and have combined for 11 total touchdowns in 2013.
39.2%: Georgia’s third-down conversion rate
For all of their offensive prowess and one big play to Justin Scott-Wesley, the Bulldogs have not been very good on third downs this fall. Georgia has converted just 16-of-41 attempts, ranking 76th nationally and 11th in the SEC — the 16 third-down conversions rank 96th nationally. LSU has been much better on the critical down, ranking 10th nationally with a 56.6-percent rate on third downs (26-of-46).
The beauty of sports, in particular college football, lies in their complete unpredictability and reality TV-like drama.
With a horrid week of action behind us, college football fans can look forward to a Week 5 that features a dozen great matchups. Huge divisional games in the Pac-12 South, Big Ten Leaders, SEC West and ACC Coastal highlight what could be the best weekend of the year. And then there's that exciting (maybe, too exciting) game going down in Athens, Ga. Kick back and enjoy, folks.
Note: The point of this column is to have some fun and make some outlandish predictions. Please react accordingly.
Ole Miss will lose by more than three touchdowns
The Rebels have beaten Alabama only twice since 1988 and are 16.5-point underdogs to the Crimson Tide. Suggesting that the No. 1 team in the nation will win at home over a team barely ranked in the top 25 isn’t close to outrageous. However, Ole Miss is much improved and appears better suited to battle with Nick Saban than ever before. That said, the Rebels have lost the last four meetings — since Saban won his first BCS title at Bama — by an average of 24 points per game (130-34).
Arkansas will rush for 300 yards and lose
Under Bret Bielema, the Razorbacks have quickly become one of the nation’s best running teams. The Hogs rank third in the SEC and 24th nationally at 246.0 yards per game,and feature the SEC’s No. 2 rusher in freshman Alex Collins. Meanwhile, Texas A&M is dead last in the league in total defense after allowing 475.3 yards per game over the first four contests. Arkansas will run the ball effectively this weekend but it won’t matter because it won’t be able to stop Johnny Manziel. He torched the Hogs defense for 453 yards passing and 104 yards rushing in last year’s 58-10 loss.
Cal and Oregon will run 200 offensive plays
Sonny Dykes’ Golden Bears are No. 2 in the nation in offensive plays per game with 94.6 snaps per game. The Ducks have been in the top 11 nationally in total plays run in each of the last three seasons. In 2013, Oregon has run 72.0 plays per game without being tested in three games. This game features two of the nation's most productive quarterbacks in Jared Goff (428.0 ypg, No. 1) and Marcus Mariota (383.7 ypg, No. 5). Needless to say, both defenses better be in shape.
Zach Mettenberger will be more efficient than Aaron Murray
The former teammates in Athens will face each other for the first time since standing on the same Georgia practice field in 2009. Murray, as expected, has been excellent this season, ranking first in the SEC in passer rating (201.78). But the LSU signal-caller has been a huge surprise as the SEC’s No. 2 (193.61) passer. Mettenberger, who transferred to LSU from UGA by way of junior college, has fewer interceptions and more touchdowns in roughly the same amount of pass attempts (91 to Murray’s 82). And it’s the Bulldogs defense that has some question marks, not LSU’s.
Jameis Winston will not throw an incompletion
Through three career games, Winston has tossed just 14 incompletions and accounted for 10 total touchdowns. On the road against a Boston College defense that made USC's Cody Kessler look like Joe Montana, Winston may not see any of his passes hit the ground. The Seminoles' signal-caller is second nationally in passing efficiency (210.49) while the Eagles sit at 91st in pass efficiency defense.
Washington State will rush for negative yards
If you are a Cougars fan, you have heard those words entirely too much. Sixteen times an FBS team rushed for negative yardage last year and Wazzu was responsible for four of them (and one other game in which it gained one yard). Meanwhile, the two best defensive performances against the run last year came from Stanford — minus-21 yards against Colorado and minus-18 yards against, you guessed it, Washington State. Mike Leach’s team has improved only mildly from last year, ranking 121st nationally in rushing offense thus far in 2013 (63.0 yards per game). Three weeks ago, Washington State rushed for seven yards on 22 carries against USC.
Paul Richardson and Brandin Cooks will catch 30 passes
Four players in the nation are averaging more than 10 receptions per game, and two will be on the same field in Corvallis on Saturday. Oregon State’s Cooks is leading the nation by a wide margin with 43 receptions (10.8/game) while Colorado’s Richardson is No. 2 with 10.5 receptions per game. Only Fresno State’s Devante Adams (10.3) and SMU’s Darius Joseph (10.3) top the double-digit reception mark each game. To top it all off, Richardson and Cooks are No. 1 (208.5 ypg) and No. 2 (159.8 ypg) in receiving yards per game as well. Both quarterbacks should have a field day in this one, so take the over (60.5).
Even though Virginia Tech has been one of the ACC’s most consistent programs over the last 10 years, there’s some uneasiness surrounding Frank Beamer’s team in 2013.
The Hokies finished 7-6 last season, which was the program’s first year under eight wins since 1997. Under Beamer, Virginia Tech has recorded a winning record in every season since 1993. Prior to 1993, the Hokies were just 24-40-2 under Beamer’s watch.
Virginia Tech has played in 26 bowl games during its program history, with 20 coming during Beamer’s tenure. Of course, there are more bowl games in 2013 than there were in 1993, but that statistic shows how much of an impact Beamer has had for Virginia Tech.
Is this program in decline or was 2012 just a one-year blip? Let’s take a look at the numbers.
Analyzing Frank Beamer's Tenure at Virginia Tech
Win/Loss Record over the last 11 seasons
|2002||10-4||3-4||4th Big East|
|2003||8-5||4-3||4th Big East|
Virginia Tech’s win-loss record over the last 10 years has been solid. The Hokies have just two seasons under 10 wins during that span and played in five BCS bowls.
Virginia Tech also has finished in the top 25 of the Associated Press poll eight out of the last nine years, including a 10th place finish in 2009.
Something else to consider during Virginia Tech’s run in the Coastal: Miami. The Hurricanes have yet to win the Coastal Division and have not won more than nine games since 2003. Miami has significantly underachieved based on its program potential, which has helped the Hokies dominate the Coastal in recent years.
There’s room for both programs at the top of the Coastal, but Miami’s recent improvement under third-year coach Al Golden will have an impact on the rest of the teams in the division.
The win total history shows the program is trending down slightly, as the 7-6 mark featured three victories in overtime.
* Ranks using 247sports.com
|Year||National Rank||Conference Rank||5* Signed||4* Signed|
|2014||21st (as of Sept. 24)||5th||0||3|
So far, Virginia Tech’s 7-6 record isn’t having a huge impact on recruiting. Of course, it’s only September, so it’s hard to judge where the Hokies will finish by signing day. However, the program’s recruiting classes ranked 21st in 2012 and '13, which was the second-highest ranking in the last seven years.
The amount of five-star and four-star prospects signed by Beamer and his staff has stayed about the same, as Virginia Tech has reeled in two five-star prospects in 2012-13, compared to one from 2009-11.
Has Virginia and fourth-year coach Mike London had any impact on Virginia Tech’s recruiting? In terms of top-10 prospects in the state of Virginia, the Hokies signed three in the 2010, '12 and '13 class. In that span, the Cavaliers signed five in 2011, four in '12 and two in '13. Virginia has a slight edge within the state’s top-10 prospects, but the bigger issue for Virginia Tech is the 2011 class, which included zero of the state’s top-10 prospects.
What to make of the recruiting data? Virginia Tech hasn’t slipped in the national ranks and has finished in the top four or five of the ACC in five out of the last six years. The Hokies aren’t bringing in elite talent, but Beamer and his staff continue to maintain a solid pace on the recruiting trail.
Performance on Offense
|Year||Rush||Pass||Total||Scoring||Yards Per Play|
The offensive numbers for Virginia Tech are not particularly impressive. The Hokies finished 35th nationally in total offense in 2011 but have regressed to 82nd in '12 and 102nd so far in '13. The offense has also watched its yards per play decline for three straight years, including a 4.7 mark thus far in 2013.
The rushing attack has been up and down, but nowhere near as bad as the passing offense. Virginia Tech has not finished higher than 64th nationally in passing offense since 2001, and the Hokies have five finishes of 90th or worse.
Offensive style is a big part of Virginia Tech’s statistics, but it’s clear this offense needs to be more aggressive and can use more help from its passing attack.
Beamer has tried to jumpstart the offense by changing coordinators, but Bryan Stinespring and Mike O’Cain had similar success. And new play-caller Scot Loeffler? Needless to say, that hire didn’t inspire much confidence the offense can turn things around in 2013.
Virginia Tech isn’t the best job in the ACC, but it’s among the top 25-30 in the nation. The Hokies have experienced a tremendous amount of success under Beamer, and the program is only one season removed from a BCS bowl.
As long as Beamer is on the sidelines at Virginia Tech, the formula for success will rely heavily on a strong defense, while the offense does just enough to win games. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster is one of the best in the nation, and the Hokies have one of the best defenses in the ACC in 2013.
However, a struggling offense isn’t getting much better, and the Coastal Division is improving. Miami is back in the top 25, and North Carolina seems to be trending in the right direction under Larry Fedora. The addition of Pittsburgh only adds to the competition in the Coastal.
While the stats don’t clearly show a decline, it’s clear Virginia Tech is not the same program that went 22-6 from 2010-11.
Beamer isn’t in any danger of being on the hot seat, but the 2013 and '14 seasons will be critical. Can Virginia Tech return to being an ACC power? Or are the Hokies in danger of slipping like Florida State did in the 2000s or what Texas is going through now?
Perhaps traveling a long way is an asset toward becoming a top shooter in college basketball.
That’s the trend for the year, it seems.
Senior Joe Harris arrived at Virginia from Chelan, Wash., to become a 41-percent shooter in his career with the Cavaliers. And Marshall Henderson, provided he plays this season, remains a well-traveled 3-point threat after moving from a Texas high school to Utah to Ole Miss.
Others have a Canadian flair. Four of the top 10 shooters on our list come from our neighbors from the North. Nik Stauskas (Michigan), Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga) and Brady Heslip (Baylor) all come from Ontario while Olivier Hanlan (Boston College) is from Quebec.
Our list of the nation’s best shooters is the first in a series of superlatives to prepare you for the 2013-14 season. Each list and more can be found in the the Athlon Sports College Basketball 2013-14 Preseason Annual . The magazine hits newsstands this week with previews for every team in every conference, plus exclusive Q&As with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Louisville’s Russ Smith and UCLA’s Kyle Anderson.
Previous: Floor Leaders | Next: Scorers
|2013-14 Superlatives: Top Shooters|
|1||Joe Harris, Virginia|
Before tailing off at the end of the season, Harris was shooting 50.3 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from 3-point range. With extra help this season, that Cavaliers won’t need him to take a dozen shots a game.
|2||Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss|
The combustable Henderson attempted more 3-pointers than five teams and 34 more than any other player. Henderson wasn’t particularly efficient (35 percent), but his shooting helped transform the Rebels’ season. Can he do it again?
|3||Nik Stauskas, Michigan|
Like many 3-point shooters, Stauskas heated up and cooled down through the season, but when he was on, he was dangerous. In the Elite Eight against Florida, Stauskas went 6-of-6 from beyond the arc. The Canadian shot 44 percent from 3 during his freshman season.
|4||Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga|
Pangos (and fellow backcourt mate Gary Bell Jr.) will need to adjust to playing on a team where the offense doesn’t flow through big man Kelly Olynyk. Pangos has been remarkably consistent from 3-point range, averaging 40.8 percent from long range in two seasons.
|5||Gary Harris, Michigan State|
A projected NBA lottery pick, Harris surprised many when he elected to return to school. He shot 41.1 percent from long range, but he should become a more complete guard as sophomore after shoulder troubles limited last season.
|6||Olivier Hanlan, Boston College|
The ACC Freshman of the Year is a perfect fit in what Steve Donahue wants to accomplish at Boston College. He’ll have plenty of momentum heading into the season by going 14 of 18 from the field and 8 of 10 from 3-point range in the ACC Tournament.
|7||Luke Hancock, Louisville|
The hero of the Cardinals’ national championship run, Hancock made 15 of 26 3-pointers in the final eight games. If not for a slow start last season, he easily would have been a 40-percent 3-point shooter for the season.
|8||Jabari Brown, Missouri|
Brown became eligible in December after his transfer from Oregon last season to contribute 13.7 points per game a 36.6-percent shooting from 3-point range.
|9||Anthony Drmic, Boise State|
Drmic helped to lead the Broncos’ prolific backcourt along with Derrick Marks. Drmic can penetrate, but he also made 80 of 204 3-pointers on the way to a team-leading 17.7 points per game.
|10||Brady Heslip, Baylor|
Heslip transferred from Boston College but will be one of the best 3-point shooters in Baylor history. Heslip is a 42.1-percent career shooter on more than 200 attempts each season at Baylor.
OTHER SHOOTER SUPERLATIVES
Breakout to watch: Kellen Dunham, Butler
Mid-major star: Travis Bader, Oakland
Transfer to watch: Coron Williams, Wake Forest (from Robert Morris)
NCAA Tourney hero: Ron Baker, Wichita State
Seventh-year senior: Ben Brust, Wisconsin
The news coming out of Coral Gables is that starting QB Stephen Morris, who left Saturday's game against Savannah State in the first quarter with an ankle injury, will be ready to play this week. Morris described his ankle as feeling good and seemed confident that he would be suiting up for the team's trip to Tampa. Although an ankle sprain was feared, head coach Al Golden called the injury a bone bruise.
UM quarterback Stephen Morris should play Saturday vs. USF http://t.co/Ykb8Nuwm6I— Miami Herald Sports (@HeraldSports) September 23, 2013
For a Miami team that is off to a 3-0 start and in the middle of a program resurgence, the handling of this injury will be crucial. It is unlikely Al Golden will keep Morris in for the entire game against the 0-3 Bulls. Ryan Williams has proved a capable backup and the Hurricanes will want to make sure Morris is completely healthy before they enter conference play for the rest of the season.
At this point, head coach Butch Jones would take volunteers for his starting quarterback position.
Unfortunately, he will have to settle for Volunteers as the Tennessee quarterback carousel continues to spin with Jones' announcement that Nathan Peterman will be out at least a month after he underwent hand surgery.
Peterman's reign at the top of the depth chart was short-lived after he had been promoted to replace the struggling Justin Worley. Peterman injured his hand in his first career start against Florida, a 31-17 game in which he completed four of 11 passes for five yards and two interceptions. Worley came in for Peterman following the injury and didn't fare much better, completing 10 of 23 passes for 149 yards. If the junior Worley struggles, Jones could hand the baton to either one of his two true freshman, Joshua Dobbs or Riley Ferguson. The two will share the backup position will Peterman remains sidelined.
Tennessee should have things easier this week welcoming in South Alabama, but it's quite clear that the uncertainty at quarterback position is far from over in Knoxville.
Mark Martin has competed in 875 races at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series level. He won 40 of those. He turns 55 years old in 2014 and while his seemingly endless production has provided multiple teams — the now-defunct Ginn Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Michael Waltrip Racing and, now, Stewart-Haas Racing — with value, his Production in Equal Equipment Rating (PEER) this season stands at a replacement-level 0.643, the worst season-long mark of his 30-year career.
Is it over? Has the value diminished?
The longevity we’ve seen from him is practically unparalleled in sports, but eventually we will see the day when he can no longer produce admirable results. The good news for Martin fans is that this Sunday’s race at Dover shouldn’t be that day.
3.865 In PEER specific to Dover, Martin ranks fourth (3.865 PEER) among all Cup Series drivers on the concrete speedway.
Though he hasn’t won at the track since 2004 (the Gen-4 era), he has earned eight top-10 finishes in the 13 races since the CoT’s inception. He also happens to be stepping into a No. 14 car for Stewart-Haas that won at Dover with the fast-closing Tony Stewart in the spring. Martin won’t have the win expectancy of, say, Jimmie Johnson or Matt Kenseth, but his past numbers suggest he could be a king among the non-Chasers.
For a driver who is unsure of his 2014 job prospects, it could be a day that extends his stay in the sport. Like Martin, there are other drivers looking at Dover as a potential audition site for a new job next season.
227 Martin Truex’s 227 laps led at Dover ranks as the sixth-most among all drivers dating back to 2007.
A native of nearby Mayetta, N.J., Truex has enjoyed his share of success on the Monster Mile, compiling a 1.923 PEER (ranks 10th out of 52 drivers) and a win, his first in the Cup Series, which came in 2007. It’s a handy track for him to come to, considering his sponsor announced last week it wouldn’t return to Michael Waltrip Racing following the post-Richmond penalties. He has been on something of a tear in the last four races this season, with three top-10 finishes — he led 98 laps last weekend at New Hampshire — and the best PEER (3.875) among non-Chasers in that time frame. With no sponsorship for 2014 and permission to seek other rides, Truex is driving his price up as a potential free agent. His pay grade could rise with another swell run at Dover.
23.9 David Ragan, with two wildly different race teams, has averaged a disappointing 23.9-place finish in 14 Cup Series starts at Dover.
That includes 11 races under the Roush Fenway Racing banner in which the best Monster Mile finish he could muster was a 14th-place effort in 2007. Currently in Year 2 at underfunded Front Row Motorsports, Ragan would undoubtedly like to leap back into a ride with a more relevant race team. His -0.346 PEER at Dover doesn’t exactly bode well for an audition; however, he did finish 22nd in the spring race, about four positions better than his average finish this season (25.8).
14.3% The No. 30 Swan Racing team, with former driver David Stremme and current crew chief Steve Lane, finished in the top half of the field 14.3 percent of the time in 21 races together this season.
This, or their 29.8 average finish, is believed to be the bar in which one of the young whippersnappers — Kevin Swindell was in the car last weekend, while Cole Whitt takes the reins at Dover — are expected to clear in this 10-race tryout period team owner Brandon Davis is giving. Whitt has a good shot of out-producing Stremme at Dover, considering his predecessor’s PEER in nine races on the high-banked mile (-0.583) ranks 51st out of 52 drivers with three or more starts in the Gen-5/Gen-6 era. Only Kyle Petty (-0.667) is a less productive Dover driver than Stremme.
6 of 3+ Dating back to the first NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway this season, Sam Hornish Jr. has amassed six finishes of third or better in the last 10 races.
The Penske Racing driver is both on the hunt for his first Stock Car title and, potentially, a job next season. It seems as if the Penske inn is about to be without vacancies, leaving Hornish to fend for himself in the world of fenders. His recent march to the Nationwide title has been quite impressive; omitting an DNF due to overheating at Indianapolis, his clean average finish in nine of the last 10 races is 4.1. The good fortune could continue this weekend. He qualified on the front row and finished seventh in the Dover Nationwide race in the spring.
David Smith is the founder of Motorsports Analytics LLC and the creator of NASCAR statistics for projections, analysis and scouting. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidSmithMA.
Photos by Actions Sports, Inc.
The NCAA’s Executive Committee has decided to reduce the scholarship sanctions on Penn State, giving the football program five more scholarships for the 2014-15 academic year. The announcement was made after George Mitchell, former U.S. Senator and independent Athletics Integrity Montior for Penn State, indicated Penn State was making progress in implementing the Athletics Integrity Agreement.
And in another bit of good news for Penn State, there’s a possibility these sanctions can be reduced even more in the future.
The postseason ban will remain in place for now, and coach Bill O’Brien is still dealing with a limited roster for the next few years.
However, Penn State can now offer 20 scholarships for the 2014-15 year, with that number set to increase to 25 by 2015-16. The Nittany Lions will also have a full allotment of scholarship players (85) by 2016-17.
Check out the full release from the NCAA.
In the Week 5 episode of the Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast, co-hosts Braden Gall and David Fox take a quick jog around the developments of a deceptively interesting Week 4 while taking a look at key games for Week 5.
In this week’s podcast:
• We quickly run down a few headlines from Week 4: Why Georgia Tech could wrap up its division in the ACC in short order, why or why not Tyler Murphy might be the answer at QB for Florida and how leigitimate is Derek Carr's Heisman candidacy.
• After some disagreement on how good Arizona State is, we look at the upcoming game between the Sun Devils and USC. Todd Graham and Co. need to win this one or we'll lose confidence.
• We don't know what to make of either Oklahoma or Notre Dame. OU's defense has impressed, but the Sooners haven't played a marquee game. Meanwhile, Notre Dame has not fully rebounded from a Michigan loss two weeks ago.
• This week's marquee matchup in the SEC will be in Athens when Georgia hosts LSU. The Tigers have been impressive on both sides of the ball, but this will be a "show-me" moment on the road for Zach Mettenberger and the defense.
• In this week's rapid fire, we ask who is the top quarterback in the state of Utah (yes, that's a thing), surprise 4-0 teams and who is a better Heisman dark horse between Derek Carr and Melvin Gordon.
The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com, iTunes and our podcast RSS feed.
Thanks to Moon Taxi for sharing their tunes for bumper music. Their new album Mountains Beaches Cities is now available.
Michigan is one of the toughest teams to gauge after four weeks of the college football season. The Wolverines have a good win over Notre Dame but barely beat Akron and Connecticut. Turnovers have been an issue for quarterback Devin Gardner, but the defense is allowing just 311 yards per game. Although Michigan hasn’t looked like a Big Ten title contender the last two weeks, the Wolverines still make the BCS projections after Week 4. Michigan’s schedule is manageable until November, and coach Brady Hoke’s team is still Athlon’s pick to win the Big Ten Legends Division. So while things aren’t particularly well in Ann Arbor, finishing 10-2 or even 11-1 in the regular season isn’t out of the question.
The rest of our BCS projections after Week 4 are similar to the first few weeks, as there have been few changes at the top of the rankings. Alabama-Ohio State is remains Athlon’s pick to play for the national title, while Clemson, Louisville, Oklahoma State and Oregon are projected to win their conferences.
College football's bowl season is still a few months away, but it's never too early to take a look at what the matchups might look like. With only four weeks of results in the books, it's hard to make long-term projections about teams, especially with several teams still playing overmatched non-conference games. But with conference play right around the corner, we should be able to get a better grasp on what teams will be able to reach the six-win mark.
With little data to work with, the post-Week 4 bowl projections are a mixture between preseason projections, how things would look if the season ended today, and a small dose of the results so far this year. Expect more changes over the next few weeks, especially as we see how teams perform in conference games.
A few teams barely missed the projections this week, including Boston College, Virginia, Mississippi State, Arkansas and Illinois from BCS conferences. And Ohio, Arkansas State and Toledo from the non-BCS ranks.
As the season progresses, it will be easier to project which teams will get to the six-win mark or finish below.
College Football's Post-Week 4 Bowl Projections for 2013
|New Mexico||Dec. 21||Pac-12 vs. MWC||Oregon State vs. Wyoming|
|Famous Idaho Potato||Dec. 21||MAC vs. MWC||Ball State vs. Nevada|
|Las Vegas||Dec. 21||Pac-12 vs. MWC||Arizona vs. Fresno State|
|New Orleans||Dec. 21||Sun Belt vs. CUSA||UL Lafayette vs. Rice|
|Beef 'O' Brady's||Dec. 23||American vs. CUSA||Cincinnati vs. MTSU|
|Hawaii||Dec. 24||MWC vs. CUSA||San Jose State vs. Utah*|
|Little Caesars Pizza||Dec. 26||MAC vs. Big Ten||Northern Illinois vs. Indiana|
|Poinsettia||Dec. 26||Army vs. MWC||Wash. State* vs. Boise State|
|Military||Dec. 27||CUSA vs. ACC||East Carolina vs. Pittsburgh|
|Texas||Dec. 27||Big 12 vs. Big Ten||Kansas State vs. Iowa|
|Kraft Fight Hunger||Dec. 27||BYU vs. Pac-12||BYU vs. USC|
|Pinstripe||Dec. 28||American vs. Big 12||Notre Dame* vs. TCU|
|Belk||Dec. 28||American vs. ACC||Rutgers vs. North Carolina|
|Russell Athletic||Dec. 28||American vs. ACC||UCF vs. Georgia Tech|
|Buffalo Wild Wings||Dec. 28||Big 12 vs. Big Ten||Texas vs. Nebraska|
|Armed Forces||Dec. 30||MWC vs. Navy||Utah State vs. Navy|
|Music City||Dec. 30||ACC vs. SEC||Maryland vs. Auburn|
|Alamo||Dec. 30||Big 12 vs. Pac-12||Oklahoma vs. UCLA|
|Holiday||Dec. 30||Pac-12 vs. Big 12||Washington vs. Texas Tech|
|AdvoCare V100||Dec. 31||ACC vs. SEC||NC State vs. Tennessee|
|Sun||Dec. 31||Pac-12 vs. ACC||Arizona State vs. Va. Tech|
|Liberty||Dec. 31||SEC vs. CUSA||Missouri vs. Marshall|
|Chick-fil-A||Dec. 31||SEC vs. ACC||Texas A&M vs. Miami|
|Gator||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Ole Miss vs. Michigan State|
|Heart of Dallas||Jan. 1||Big Ten vs. CUSA||Minnesota vs. Tulsa|
|Outback||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Florida vs. Northwestern|
|Capital One||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||South Carolina vs. Wisconsin|
|Rose||Jan. 1||BCS vs. BCS||Oregon vs. Michigan|
|Fiesta||Jan. 1||BCS vs. BCS||Stanford vs. Oklahoma State|
|Sugar||Jan. 2||BCS vs. BCS||Georgia vs. Florida State|
|Cotton||Jan. 3||SEC vs. Big 12||LSU vs. Baylor|
|Orange||Jan. 3||BCS vs. BCS||Clemson vs. Louisville|
|BBVA Compass||Jan. 4||SEC vs. American||Vanderbilt vs. Houston|
|GoDaddy||Jan. 5||MAC vs. Sun Belt||Bowling Green vs. W. Kentucky|
|National Title||Jan. 6||BCS vs. BCS||Alabama vs. Ohio State|
* Indicates we do not expect a conference to fill its tie-ins. An at-large team will be selected for conferences that do not meet their required teams for bowl eligibility.
Related College Football Content
Week 4 College Football Recap
Stats to Know From Week 4
Week 4 National Awards
Post-Week 4 ACC Power Rankings
Post-Week 4 Big 12 Power Rankings
Post-Week 4 Big Ten Power Rankings
Post-Week 4 Pac-12 Power Rankings
Post-Week 4 SEC Power Rankings
Texas’ coach Mack Brown is still on the hot seat, but the Longhorns snapped a two-game losing streak with a 31-21 victory over Kansas State on Saturday. The win over the Wildcats won’t do much to quiet the cries for change in Austin. However, Texas still has a chance to win the Big 12 title and should be 2-0 in conference play before the huge Oct. 12 showdown against Oklahoma.
Connecticut nearly upset Michigan, but Paul Pasqualoni climbs back to the No. 1 spot in the hot seat rankings. The Huskies’ offense continues to struggle, managing only 3.6 yards per play against the Wolverines on Saturday. Connecticut’s schedule won’t get any easier this week, as a road date at Buffalo will be a challenge, and the Huskies must play Cincinnati and UCF in October.
USC’s Lane Kiffin has led his team to back-to-back wins after a loss to Washington State, but the Trojans remain a work in progress on offense. Kiffin could help cool his seat with a win at Arizona State this Saturday.
Outside of the top 10, the biggest riser in this week’s rankings is West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen. The Mountaineers were handled by Maryland in a 37-0 loss, dropping West Virginia to 2-2 overall. The schedule will only get tougher from here, and the Mountaineers could miss out on a bowl in 2013.
An important note when reading our coach on the hot seat rankings: Outside of the top 20-30 coaches, it’s all about the pressure on a program. While some coaches – like Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen and Indiana’s Kevin Wilson – aren’t in any danger of being fired. However, both coaches need to continue to show the program is headed in the right direction.
Ranking All 125 CFB Coaches on Hot Seat/Pressure on Program to Win in 2013
|1||Paul Pasqualoni||0-3||UConn gave Michigan all it could handle.|
|2||Mack Brown||2-2||Texas still has a chance to turn season around.|
|3||Dan Enos||1-3||CMU allowing 37.2 points a game.|
|4||Lane Kiffin||3-1||USC's offense still a work in progress.|
|5||Don Treadwell||0-3||RedHawks hung around against Cincinnati.|
|6||Ron English||1-3||EMU one of the toughest jobs in the nation.|
|7||Ron Turner||0-4||Performance against Louisville was embarrassing|
|8||Bobby Hauck||2-2||Back-to-back wins for UNLV first time since '08.|
|9||Norm Chow||0-3||Hawaii could be headed for a winless year.|
|10||Bo Pelini||3-1||Huskers should be 6-1 going into November.|
|11||Doc Holliday||2-2||Nearly upset Va. Tech in Blacksburg.|
|13||Jim Grobe||2-2||Win over Army snapped two-game losing streak.|
|14||Charley Molnar||0-4||Minutemen played Vanderbilt tough.|
|15||Dana Holgorsen||2-2||Mountaineers could miss out on bowl this year.|
|16||Skip Holtz||1-3||La. Tech fumbled away win on Saturday.|
|19||Charlie Weis||2-1||Win on Saturday was first vs. FBS since Sept. 10, 2011|
|21||Tony Levine||3-0||Changes on staff paying off for Levine.|
|22||Kirk Ferentz||3-1||Iowa's offense has run the most plays in Big Ten.|
|23||Dan Mullen||2-2||Dak Prescott has impressed as starter.|
|24||Gary Pinkel||3-0||Pinkel tied for 2nd most wins in school history.|
|28||P.J. Fleck||0-4||Rough first year for Fleck.|
|29||June Jones||1-2||Four-year bowl streak could be in jeopardy.|
|32||Randy Edsall||4-0||Terrapins 4-0 for the first time since 2001.|
|33||Rocky Long||0-3||Aztecs lost heartbreaker against Oregon State.|
|36||Sean Kugler||1-2||Miners 1-2 in Kugler's debut season.|
|37||Frank Beamer||3-1||Offense not looking much better.|
|38||Dan McCarney||2-2||UNT on the right track.|
|39||Dave Christensen||3-1||QB Brett Smith leading MWC in total offense.|
|42||Scott Shafer||2-2||Syracuse has won two in a row.|
|45||Jim McElwain||1-3||Rams gave Alabama a good battle.|
|49||Kyle Whittingham||3-1||Utah has won four in a row over BYU.|
|51||Rod Carey||3-0||NIU avoided loss to FCS team in Week 4.|
|55||Bill Blankenship||1-2||Can Tulsa still win C-USA?|
|56||Willie Taggart||0-3||USF needs to find some offense.|
|58||Brian Polian||2-2||Nevada won with 3rd string QB in Week 4.|
|68||Troy Calhoun||1-3||AFA's defense struggling.|
|76||Trent Miles||0-4||Georgia State a difficult job.|
|89||Paul Johnson||3-0||GT off to 2-0 start in ACC play.|
|100||Tim DeRuyter||3-0||DeRuyter will be in mix for big jobs this December.|
|105||Larry Coker||2-2||UTSA quietly off to good start.|
|109||James Franklin||2-2||Sluggish performance against UMass.|
|111||Mark Hudspeth||2-2||Ragin' Cajuns have won two in a row.|
|114||Mike Gundy||3-0||OSU still the favorite in Big 12?|
|115||Gary Patterson||1-2||Can TCU find a spark on offense?|
|117||Chris Petersen||2-2||Boise not out of MWC title picture.|
|119||Charlie Strong||4-0||Cardinals cruising to unbeaten season.|
Related College Football Content
Week 4 College Football Recap
Stats to Know From Week 4
Week 4 National Awards
Post-Week 4 ACC Power Rankings
Post-Week 4 Big 12 Power Rankings
Post-Week 4 Big Ten Power Rankings
Post-Week 4 Pac-12 Power Rankings
Post-Week 4 SEC Power Rankings
Kenny Guiton has been nearly flawless in relief of Braxton Miller, throwing for 10 touchdowns and 491 yards in Ohio State’s last two games.
Although Guiton has been excellent, there’s no quarterback controversy at Ohio State. Miller suffered a MCL injury against San Diego State and has missed the last two games. However, the junior is expected to play this Saturday against Wisconsin and will reclaim the No. 1 spot on the depth chart. Prior to his injury, Miller was one of the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy.
Although Miller will return to the starting role, Guiton’s performance should give Ohio State plenty of confidence should its starting quarterback suffer another injury the rest of the year. And who knows, maybe coach Urban Meyer can find a way to get them both on the field at the same time.
Meyer said if Braxton Miller has a good week of practice he will start Saturday night vs. Wisconsin.— Kyle Rowland (@KyleRowland) September 23, 2013
Alternate helmets and jerseys are popping up everywhere in college football, but Virginia Tech takes the award for one of the most interesting looks over the last few years.
On Thursday night against Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech will unveil these “Hokie Stone” helmets.
So what exactly is this helmet symbolizing?
Here’s what coach Frank Beamer had to say in a release from the school:
“When you look at this helmet, it’s not flashy, but it means a tremendous amount to this University. The outside world may have to do a double-take, but the Hokie Nation will know exactly what it is: Hokie Stone! And it’s something we’re proud of. The reason I like it, is because it represents what this program and this University are built on. Each piece, in its place, serving its purpose, doing its job, and when it’s all working together, it’s rock solid and it’s something special. That Hokie Stone … represents what we’re all about, a foundation that we’re proud of, built on brotherhood, loyalty, leadership, Ut Prosim, sacrifice, service, honor, and duty. And I hope you saw all of that on display this past Saturday in our game with a very talented and determined Marshall team. Not just from the players, but from the fans as well, who withstood a driving rain and stuck in there with us through it all!
"So, on Thursday night, some may see it as stone on our helmets. We know it’s SO much more!"
Catching up on everything that happened in Week 4 and an early look at Week 5.
Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)
College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Monday, September 23rd
LSU has joined the SEC's offensive show.
Saturday Down South takes a look at some of the key developments in the SEC in Week 4.
Sad news out of Cincinnati: One player was killed and two others were injured in a car accident on Saturday night.
Bruce Feldman rounds out the weekend with some insight on Week 4, as well as a look at why Baylor's offense is so difficult to defend.
Another Week 4 recap: SB Nation's Matt Hinton takes a look at some stats to know.
Washington running back Bishop Sankey is fine after suffering a shoulder injury against Idaho State.
Two players on Syracuse's defense suffered injuries against Tulane.
Hawaii won't replace the canceled Fresno State game on Colorado's schedule.
Is James Conner set to be Pittsburgh's No. 1 running back the rest of the year?
Even when Taylor Martinez expires his eligibility, it appears Nebraska is in good shape at the quarterback position.
Injuries will play a role in Mack Brown's future at Texas.
Arian Foster tells Sports Illustrated he took money on the side at Tennessee.
BYU linebacker Spencer Hadley has been suspended five games for violating the school's honor code. But there's an interesting twist to how Hadley was suspended.
Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is dealing with a disgruntled running back.
* The Legends Poll voting process is exactly what the BCS is trying to create and Athlon will bring it to you as the de facto Selection Committee for fans to follow over the next two seasons, allowing you to see how the Selection Committee will operate from 2014 onward. You can see the entire Poll at www.legendschannel.com.
LSU and Florida both recorded solid wins in league play, but neither team made a move in the post-week 4 SEC Power Poll. Missouri, which looked good in its win at Indiana, jumped from No. 12 to No. 9.
SEC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
|1||1||Alabama (3-0, 1-0): It might not have been the thorough beating that most Alabama fans expected, but the Crimson Tide topped Colorado State 31-6 in their 2013 home opener. Bama pulled away in the fourth quarter, scoring first on a 30-yard pass from AJ McCarron to DeAndrew White and then, with 2:05 remaining, on a 14-yard toss from back-up Blake Sims to Chris Black. Alabama’s offensive numbers — 341 total yards — don’t look good at first glance, but keep in mind the Tide only had 48 offensive snaps. They averaged 7.1 yards per play. Next Week: Ole Miss|
|2||2||Georgia (2-1, 1-0): Georgia found itself in an unexpected battle with North Texas midway through the third quarter. But a 21-21 game became a 45-21 victory thanks to a dominating second half by the Bulldogs. Georgia outgained the Mean Green 641-to-245 due in large part to a big day from quarterback Aaron Murray. The fifth-year senior completed 22-of-30 passes for 408 yards and three touchdowns — including a school-record 98-yarder to Reggie Davis in the second quarter. Todd Gurley rushed for a game-high 91 yards but was held to a rather ordinary 4.3-yard average. Next Week: LSU|
|3||3||LSU (4-0, 1-0): The Tigers continue to look like a legitimate SEC title contender. They ran their record to 4-0 with a solid 35-21 win over Auburn at a rainy Tiger Stadium. With tailback Jeremy Hill leading the way, LSU jumped out to a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter. The game never got out of hand, but LSU was never seriously threatened either. Hill finished with 184 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries, while quarterback Zach Mettenberger completed 14-of-22 passes for 229 yards with one touchdowns and one interception (his first of the season). Next Week: at Georgia|
|4||4||Texas A&M (3-1, 0-1): The Aggies bounced back from their emotional loss to Alabama last week by disposing of former Southwest Conference rival SMU with ease. Johnny Manziel threw for 244 yards and added a game-high 102 yards on the ground en route to the 42-13 win. Aggie wideout Mike Evans only caught two passes, but they went for 57 yards, giving him 575 on the season (good for second in the nation). The A&M defense gave up 434 total yards, but SMU only scored one touchdown — early in the fourth quarter with the outcome already decided. Next Week: at Arkansas|
|5||5||South Carolina (2-1, 1-1): The Gamecocks enjoyed a week off before their trip to Orlando to play UCF, a team that beat Penn State in Week 2. South Carolina has won four straight non-conference road (or neutral site) regular-season games. Next Week: at UCF|
|6||6||Florida (2-1, 1-0): Florida overcame a series of injuries (and an ejection) to beat Tennessee for the ninth straight time. Starting quarterback Jeff Driskel went out with a season-ending ankle injury in the first quarter, forcing the Gators to turn to untested junior Tyler Murphy. The Connecticut native responded with an outstanding performance, throwing for 134 yards and rushing for 84 to lead the surprisingly potent Florida attack. The Gator defense forced five turnovers and limited Tennessee to 220 total yards. Next Week: At Kentucky|
|7||7||Ole Miss (3-0, 1-0): The Rebels, off to their first 3-0 start since 1989, had the week off to prepare for their big trip to Tuscaloosa next week. Ole Miss has lost nine straight to Alabama and has not won at Bryant-Denny Stadium since 2004. Next Week: at Alabama.|
|8||8||Auburn (3-1, 1-1): The Tigers have made tremendous strides under first-year coach Gus Malzahn, but winning in Baton Rouge was too tall of an order. After falling behind 21-0 in the second quarter, Auburn kept things interesting but was never able to cut the lead to one score. Nick Marshall had some trouble in the passing game (17-of-33 with two INTs), but the Tigers ran the ball well. Tre Mason led the way with 132 yards and two scores on 26 carries, while Marshall added 46 yards and Cameron Artis-Payne chipped in with 41 yards. Next Week: Bye|
|9||12||Missouri (3-0, 0-0): Missouri played on the road for the first time this season, and the result was quite impressive. The Tigers feasted on a porous Indiana defense, rolling up 623 yards of offense in a 45-28 win in Bloomington. James Franklin threw for 343 yards, with two MU receivers topping the 100-yard mark — Dorial Green-Beckham (8 for 105) and Marcus Lucas (10 for 101). Russell Hansbrough led the Tigers’ rushing attack with 104 yards on 13 carries. Next Week: Arkansas State|
|10||9||Vanderbilt (2-2, 0-2): The Commodores were a bit sluggish on both sides of the ball but still picked up a non-conference road win by beating UMass 24-7 at Gillette Stadium. UMass had allowed an average of 331.3 rushing yards in its first three games, but Vanderbilt managed only 166 on 39 attempts. The Commodores were relatively productive threw the air — Austyn Carta-Samuels completed 18-of-27 passes for 219 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Senior Jonathan Krause caught six passes for 105 yards and one touchdown — the first receiving score of his career. Next Week: UAB|
|11||13||Mississippi State (2-2, 0-1): The opponent was far from elite, but Mississippi State was one of the more impressive SEC teams of the week. The Bulldogs pounded Troy 62-7, outgaining the Trojans 574 to 177. Dak Prescott, making his third career start, threw for 233 yards and rushed for 53 to lead the MSU attack. In State’s 35-point second quarter, Prescott threw three TD passes and also caught a 36-yard TD from Jameon Lewis. The Bulldogs’ defense limited Troy quarterback Corey Robinson, the NCAA’s active leader in passing yards, to 105 yards on 25 attempts. Next Week: Bye|
|12||10||Tennessee (2-2, 0-1): Butch Jones made a switch at quarterback, benching Justin Worley in favor of redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman. It didn’t work. Peterman, a native of Fruit Cove, Fla., committed three turnovers in the first half and was benched. Worley wasn’t much better in relief, completing only 10-of-23 passes and throwing two interceptions. The Vols had 220 yards of total offense en route their its ninth straight loss to Florida. Next Week: South Alabama|
|13||11||Arkansas (3-1, 0-0): Arkansas surged to a 24-7 lead at Rutgers on a Hunter Henry touchdown midway through the third quarter. That’s the good news. The bad news? The Razorbacks didn’t score again. Rutgers did, three more times — taking the lead for good with 6:01 remaining on a 4-yard toss from Gary Nova to Leonte Caroo. The Hogs’ tailback duo of Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins combined to rush for 85 yards, 185 below their previous season average. Quarterback A.J. Derby, a former Iowa Hawkeye making his first start at Arkansas, completed 14-of-26 for 138 yards. Next Week: Texas A&M|
|14||14||Kentucky (1-2, 0-0): Kentucky had the week off to prepare for a grueling three-game stretch that includes home games against Florida and Alabama sandwiched around a trip to South Carolina. Next Week: Florida|
SEC Week 4 Recap and Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Jeremy Hill, LSU
The Tigers prefer to rotate through a stable of talented running backs, but there was no need for that against Auburn. Hill rushed for 183 yards on 25 carries in a rain-soaked 35–21 win over Auburn. Hill’s output was the most for an LSU running back since Alley Broussard rushed for a school-record 250 yards against Ole Miss in 2004. For the season, the Baton Rouge native has rushed for 350 yards on an 8.3-yard average. He missed the opener against TCU due to a suspension.
Defensive Player of the Week: Dante Fowler Jr., Florida
Fowler was a key cog on a Florida defense that limited Tennessee to 220 yards in a 31-7 Gator win in Gainesville. A sophomore “Buck” — a hybrid defense end/linebacker — Fowler recorded three tackles for a loss (including one sack) and forced two fumbles (recovering one). The Florida defense forced six turnovers and allowed only once touchdown.
Team of the Week: Florida
In a light week in the SEC, Florida made the biggest statement by proving it can win without its starting quarterback. Junior Jeff Driskel went down with a broken leg in the first quarter, forcing the Gators to turn to untested Tyler Murphy, a Connecticut native who had not thrown a pass in his three-plus years in Gainesville. Murphy, to everyone’s surprise, came off the bench and sparked what had been a stagnant Gator attack, throwing for 134 yards and rushing for 84 to lead Florida to a 31-17 win over Tennessee. With Driskel out for the season, Murphy must now prove he is not a one-hit wonder.
Coordinator of the Week: Josh Henson, Missouri
Missouri will not be the only team to post gaudy stats against Indiana this season, but Henson and the Tigers’ offense deserve credit for an outstanding performance in a 45-28 win in Bloomington. Mizzou rolled 623 yards of offense on 97 plays on its way to its third win of the season. The Tigers had a 300-yard passer (James Franklin), a 100-yard rusher (Russell Hansbrough) and two 100-yard receivers (Dorial Green-Beckham and Marcus Lucas).
Freshman of the Week: Reggie Davis, Georgia
Davis only caught two passes, but he is now in the Georgia record book for having the longest reception in school history. Aaron Murray connected with the true freshman on a 98-yard scoring strike on the first play of the second quarter in the Bulldogs’ 45-21 win over North Texas. Davis also caught a 36-yard pass, giving him 134 yards on two receptions in only the second game of his career.
• Mississippi State scored five offensive touchdowns in the second quarter of a dominating 62-7 win over Troy. Four of the Bulldogs’ five second-quarter scoring drives went for at least 61 yards. Mississippi State did not punt in the game.
• Vanderbilt allowed UMass to complete 20-of-28 passes, but none of the Minutemen’s completions went for more than 10 yards. Vanderbilt beat UMass 24-7.
• Auburn lost for the first time of the Gus Malzahn era, but the Tigers’ offense enjoyed some success against LSU in Baton Rouge. Auburn had 437 yards of offense, with standout performances from running back Tre Mason (26 carries, 132 yards, 2 TDs) and wide receiver Sammie Coates (4 catches, 139 yards). The Tigers are averaging 439.5 yards of offense but have scored no more than 24 points in their two SEC games.
• T.J. Yeldon averaged 7.0 yards on his seven carries on Saturday, but Alabama’s four other tailbacks struggled in the Tide’s 31-6 win over Colorado State. Jalston Fowler, Altee Tenpenny, Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake combined for only 24 yards on 11 carries. For the game, Alabama averaged 3.1 yards per carry (including two sacks). Colorado State had been allowing 4.3 yards per carry.
• Arkansas had only 283 yards in its xx loss at Rutgers. It was the first time the Razorbacks had less than 300 yards in a non-conference game since the 2010 Liberty Bowl, when they had 283 in a 20-17 overtime win over East Carolina.
Numbers and statistics are unquestionably a huge part of the game. Any game, for that matter.
Some fall on the sabermetric side of things, while others like to keep it simple and use the ol' eyeball test. In the football world, that means total offense, total defense and points scored versus points per play and defensive efficiency ratings. Rational and logical arguments can be made for the legitimacy and relevance of both sides of the stats spectrum.
With that in mind, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of college football action:
297-14: Combined scores from Miami, Louisville, Baylor and Ohio State
The Buckeyes (76), Hurricanes (77), Bears (70) and Cardinals (72) each scored at least 70 points while both Ohio State and Louisville had shutouts on defense. Baylor was the only team, however, to do all of this against semi-legitimate competition. With all due respect to Savannah State, FIU and Florida A&M aren't in the same category as Louisiana-Monroe and Kolton Browning.
1930: Last time a team scored at least 60 points in its first 3 games
Baylor is leading the nation in total offense at 751.3 yards per game — nearly 80 yards more than No. 2 Oregon. Baylor leads the nation in yards per play at nearly 10 yards per snap (9.8) — just ahead of Oregon. And it tops all FBS schools with an absurd 69.7 point per game scoring average — 8.4 more point per game than second-place Oregon. Art Briles' team became the first team since LSU in 1930 to score at least 60 points in each of its first three games. Oregon is great but Baylor might be the best offense in the nation. Lache Seastrunk's nation-leading seventh consecutive 100-yard effort is almost an afterthought for the Bears.
18.9%: Florida's nation-leading third down defense
The Gators might have the best defense in the nation when all players are healthy. While other schools like Michigan State, USC or Stanford might argue who's the best, no one can argue which team is best at getting off the field. Florida leads the nation in third-down defense, having allowed just seven conversions in 37 attempts (18.9-percent). They forced six turnovers against Tennessee and now rank No. 2 in the nation in total defense (212.3 ypg) after the win.
239-58: Georgia Tech's second-half yardage advantage over North Carolina
North Carolina, behind a fast start from Bryn Renner, took an early 20-7 lead over Georgia Tech in Atlanta early on Saturday. But Paul Johnson made adjustments at half-time and watched his team completely dominate the second half against the Tar Heels. North Carolina ran 18 plays on four possessions for 58 total yards with three punts and an interception. Tech, on the other hand, ran 43 plays for 239 yards on five possessions, scoring twice to win the pivotal Coastal Division swing game in come from behind fashion.
0-1: SEC record at High Point Solutions Stadium
The SEC has never won a football game in Piscataway, N.J. Rutgers opened High Point Solutions Statdium in 1994 and were No. 2 in Big East attendance last season, despite being the sixth-biggest venue in the league this fall. And no SEC had ever stepped foot on its field, much less won a game there until Arkansas visited the Scarlet Knights this weekend. Bret Bielema's Hogs controlled the game without starting quarterback Brandon Allen for the first 43 minutes. But Gary Nova, aided by a few big special teams plays by Janarion Grant, led a furious 21-point comeback over the final 17 minutes to give Rutgers the improbable win. It may be another 19 years before another SEC team returns to High Point.
0:00: Time Duke led despite scoring 55 points
Duke scored more point on Saturday than ever before in school history by hanging 55 on the Pitt Panthers defense. The only problem was the Blue Devils, despite scoring eight touchdowns and churning out 532 yards of offense, never actually had a lead against Pittsburgh. Paul Chryst's Pitt offense scored early and often, totaling 58 points and 598 yards of its own. Quarterback Tom Savage connected with emerging star freshman wide receiver Tyler Boyd for three touchdowns and 154 yards. Savage tied an ACC record with six passing touchdowns on the day.
35.1: Taysom Hill's completion percentage in 2013
The talented and athletic Hill has started three games for the BYU Cougars and has yet to complete more than 37.5 percent of his passes in any game. That was his rate this weekend in an upset loss at home to rival Utah (18-of-18). He has thrown 74 incomplete passes and just 40 completions for the season with one passing touchdown and three interceptions in two losses and one win.
18: Combined penalties in the Notre Dame-Michigan State game
The referees had a rough day in East Lansing on Saturday, calling 18 penalties for a combined 201 yards. The Spartans were charged 10 times for 115 yards, including multiple pass interference calls that kept Irish drives alive time and time again. Notre Dame was called for eight penalties and 86 yards. The Irish got a key victory despite mustering just 220 yards of total offense against the nation's No. 1 defense.
The top of the ACC power rankings hasn’t changed much this season. The top four teams in the conference seem to be Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Miami. However, Maryland has been impressive in its 4-0 start, and Virginia Tech has one of the conference’s best defenses.
The Terrapins and Yellow Jackets scored the ACC’s most-impressive wins of Week 4, as Maryland shutout West Virginia 37-0, while Georgia Tech beat North Carolina 28-20.
North Carolina is 1-2, but the Tar Heels have dropped games against South Carolina and Georgia Tech. Although coach Larry Fedora’s team is off to a slow start, North Carolina shouldn’t be counted out of the Coastal Division title picture.
Pittsburgh’s offense has been impressive in three games, but the Panthers rank last in the ACC in total defense.
Syracuse and Wake Forest picked up much-needed victories in Week 4.
ACC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
|1||1||Clemson (3-0, 1-0): The Tigers started slow but eventually overpowered NC State for a solid 26-14 victory. Clemson’s trailed 7-6 late into the second quarter, but quarterback Tajh Boyd made some key plays, while the defense stepped up in the second half to limit the Wolfpack to just seven points in the final two quarters. Boyd didn’t have a huge performance but finished with 244 yards and three scores. Defensive end Vic Beasley wrecked havoc on NC State’s offensive line, recording five tackles, three sacks and one forced fumble. Clemson has a favorable schedule the next few weeks, with all eyes focused on the upcoming Oct. 19 showdown against Florida State. Next Week: Wake Forest|
|2||2||Florida State (3-0, 1-0): As expected, the Seminoles had little trouble with Bethune-Cookman, cruising to a 54-6 victory. Florida State’s offense was efficient, averaging 8.1 yards per play and punted only three times. Running back Devonta Freeman topped 100 yards for the second consecutive game, but converted defensive back Karlos Williams continued to turn heads, rushing for 83 yards and two scores on nine attempts. Even with linebacker Christian Jones suspended, Florida State’s defense held Bethune-Cookman to 242 yards and recorded three sacks and seven tackles for a loss. The Seminoles have a few areas to patch during practice this week, but coach Jimbo Fisher should be feeling confident about his team. Next Week: at Boston College|
|3||3||Miami (3-0, 0-0): Considering Savannah State is one of the worst FCS teams, it’s hard to learn too much about Miami. The Hurricanes thoroughly dominated the Tigers, recording 77 points, 637 yards and 27 first downs – and those numbers were largely done without quarterback Stephen Morris. The senior suffered an ankle injury but is expected to play next Saturday. Miami’s defense also feasted on an overmatched opponent, registering four sacks and six tackles for a loss. The Hurricanes have one more opportunity to fine-tune both sides of the ball before playing two huge ACC contests in early October. Next Week: at South Florida|
|4||4||Georgia Tech (3-0, 2-0): The Yellow Jackets passed the first test in a difficult stretch of games, rallying to defeat North Carolina 28-20. The Tar Heels jumped out to a 20-7 lead, but Georgia Tech’s defense and rushing attack controlled the game in the second half. Coach Paul Johnson’s decision to hire Ted Roof as the defensive coordinator has already paid dividends, as the Yellow Jackets rank fourth in the ACC in yards allowed and are holding opponents to 11.3 points per game. Georgia Tech is the only 2-0 team in ACC play, but key Coastal games against Virginia Tech and Miami are up next. Next Week: Virginia Tech|
|5||7||Maryland (4-0, 0-0): West Virginia is in rebuild mode, but Maryland’s 37-0 victory over the Mountaineers was one of the most-impressive wins by an ACC team in Week 4. A rainy day in Baltimore prevented the Terrapins from reaching 500 total yards for a fourth consecutive game, but quarterback C.J. Brown finished with 243 overall yards and two scores. The defense held West Virginia to 175 total yards and recorded eight tackles for a loss. Maryland’s win over the Mountaineers on Saturday was its first in this series since the 2004 Gator Bowl. Next Week: Bye|
|6||5||Virginia Tech (3-1, 0-0): Another week, another close call for the Hokies against a Conference USA team. A touchdown toss from quarterback Logan Thomas to receiver Willie Byrn tied the game at 21 with just over three minutes to play to send the game into overtime. Special teams had an up-and-down performance for coach Frank Beamer, as Virginia Tech blocked a field goal and punt. However, with kicker Cody Journell suspended, field goals were an issue, as Ethan Keyserling missed all three of his attempts. There’s no question the Hokies have a defense capable of winning the Coastal Division, but the offense is still a question mark. Virginia Tech went 2 of 16 on third-down attempts, and Thomas finished 18 of 34 for 181 yards and two picks. Next Week: at Georgia Tech (Thursday)|
|7||6||North Carolina (1-2, 0-1): The Tar Heels did a better job defending Georgia Tech’s offense after giving up 68 points last season, but it wasn’t enough for North Carolina to earn the victory. The Tar Heels jumped out to a 20-7 lead before halftime, however, the offense had only one drive of longer than 10 yards in the second half. North Carolina’s defense was on the field for 40:38 and allowed 324 rushing yards to the Yellow Jackets. With a tight division race expected in the Coastal, losing to Georgia Tech is an early setback for North Carolina. However, upcoming games against Virginia Tech and Miami will give Larry Fedora’s team a chance to make a statement. Next Week: East Carolina|
|8||10||Pittsburgh (2-1, 1-1): The Panthers earned their first victory in the ACC, outscoring Duke in a 58-55 shootout. Pittsburgh’s defense has struggled this year, but the offense ranks fourth in the conference in yards per game, averaging 7.7 yards per play. Quarterback Tom Savage tossed six touchdown passes against the Blue Devils, while true freshmen James Conner and Tyler Boyd combined for 327 yards and four scores. An oddity about Pittsburgh’s upcoming schedule: The next three opponents are all from Virginia. Next Week: Virginia|
|9||9||Virginia (2-1, 0-0): The Cavaliers easily handled VMI on Saturday, recording a 49-0 win over the Keydets. The shutout was the first for Virginia since 2008. The Cavaliers recorded 357 rushing yards, including 136 from walk-on freshman Daniel Hamm. Quarterback David Watford threw for two touchdowns, but the sophomore tossed two picks, giving him six interceptions in 2013. The victory over VMI was a good rebound for Virginia, especially after losing to Oregon in Week 2. The Cavaliers are on the road in two out of the next three weeks. Next Week: at Pittsburgh|
|10||8||NC State (2-1, 0-1): The Wolfpack gave Clemson a battle, but coach Dave Doeren simply doesn’t have the offensive firepower with quarterback Brandon Mitchell sidelined. Pete Thomas threw for 213 yards against the Tigers, but NC State’s offense misses Mitchell’s dual-threat ability. One bright spot in the Thursday night loss was the play of the defensive line. The Wolfpack recorded 12 tackles for a loss and two sacks. NC State has a favorable schedule the next three weeks and could be 5-1 going into a road test against Florida State on Oct. 26. Next Week: Central Michigan|
|11||11||Boston College (2-1, 1-0): The Eagles were the only ACC team out of action in Week 4. But an early bye week for a team with a new coaching staff and schemes on both sides of the ball isn’t necessarily a bad thing with the heart of ACC play upcoming. How much has Boston College improved since last year? With matchups against Florida State and Clemson in two of the next three games, the Eagles should have a good idea if they have been able to close the gap with the best of the Atlantic. Next Week: Florida State|
|12||13||Syracuse (2-2, 0-0): The Orange had a rough start to the season, but Scott Shafer’s team has rebounded with back-to-back wins. The competition hasn’t been outstanding, but the offense has scored 106 points in the last two games. Quarterback Terrel Hunt has led the turnaround, throwing for seven touchdowns and zero picks during that span. The sophomore is clearly the No. 1 quarterback over Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen. Syracuse’s defense has work to do during the bye week, especially the secondary with a matchup against Clemson coming on Oct. 5. Next Week: Bye Week|
|13||12||Duke (2-2, 0-2): After starting 2-0, the Blue Devils have dropped back-to-back games. Duke scored 55 points against Pittsburgh, but the defense simply had no answer for Pittsburgh. The Panthers recorded 598 yards, averaging 7.6 yards per play, and quarterback Tom Savage torched the Blue Devils for 424 yards and six scores through the air. Duke’s offense recorded 532 overall yards, but four interceptions from quarterback Brandon Connette proved to be costly in a three-point game. Although it’s only Week 4, the Blue Devils’ bowl hopes took a hit with the loss to Pittsburgh, and there’s not much margin for error the rest of the way. Next Week: Troy|
|14||14||Wake Forest (2-2, 0-1): After back-to-back losses, the Demon Deacons desperately needed a win against Army. Thanks to 96 yards from running back Josh Harris, Wake Forest showed a few signs of breaking out of an offensive funk, while earning a hard-fought 25-11 victory over the Black Knights. The Demon Deacons averaged a season-best 5.8 yards per play in Saturday’s win, and a struggling offensive line allowed only one sack. Coach Jim Grobe can’t be pleased with his offense, but Saturday’s performance was a step in the right direction. Next Week: at Clemson|
ACC Week 4 Awards and Recap
Offensive Player of the Week: Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh
Through three games, Savage doesn’t look like a player who didn’t throw a pass on the FBS level from 2011-12. The senior turned in his best passing effort of 2013 against Duke on Saturday, completing 23 of 33 passes for 424 yards and six touchdowns. Savage’s six touchdown passes were the most by a Pittsburgh quarterback since Pete Gonzalez tossed seven against Rutgers in 1997, while also tying an ACC single-game record. After three games, Savage has thrown nine touchdown tosses to four interceptions and has topped 200 passing yards in each start.
Defensive Player of the Week: Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson
We need to give a tip of the cap to Maryland safety A.J. Hendy after he recorded one interception and recovered two fumbles against West Virginia, but Beasley earns our ACC Defensive Player of the Week honor. Beasley dominated NC State’s offensive line on Thursday night, recording five tackles (with three going for a loss) and three sacks. The junior also forced a fumble and broke up two passes. Clemson’s held NC State to 378 overall yards, with one of its two touchdowns coming when the game was out of reach.
Coordinator of the Week: Ted Roof, Georgia Tech
The defense hasn’t been always strength for coach Paul Johnson during his tenure at Georgia Tech, but that could be changing in 2013. After giving up 20 points to North Carolina in the first 22 minutes, the Yellow Jackets held the Tar Heels without a score the rest of the way. North Carolina’s offense also went 0-4 on third-down attempts in the second half and only one Tar Heel drive in the final two quarters went longer than 10 yards. Georgia Tech’s defense allowed North Carolina to average six yards per play and registered only one sack, but the Yellow Jackets stepped up in the second half with the game on the line.
Team of the Week: Georgia Tech
After a 68-50 shootout between Georgia Tech and North Carolina last season, another high-scoring affair was expected on Saturday. However, weather and defense won out this year, as the Tar Heels and Yellow Jackets combined for 48 points. Georgia Tech fell behind 13-0 but rallied behind a solid defensive effort and quarterback Vad Lee. The Yellow Jackets did not allow a point in the second half, and Lee was responsible for two touchdowns and 159 overall yards. Georgia Tech is 2-0 in ACC play, but the schedule won’t get any easier the next two weeks, as a Thursday home date against Virginia Tech is up next, followed by a road game at Miami on Oct. 5.
Freshmen of the Week: James Conner, RB/Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh
We usually give this award to just one freshman each week, but it’s impossible to leave off Boyd or Conner after their performances against Duke. Conner gashed the Blue Devils’ defense for 173 yards and one touchdown, averaging 6.7 per attempt on 26 carries. Boyd continued his hot start to the season, catching eight passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns. Boyd’s total could have been even higher, but he suffered a thigh injury in the fourth quarter and was forced to miss some action. With Boyd and Conner playing at a high level just three games into their career, the future looks bright for Pittsburgh in the ACC.
• In his last two games, Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt has completed 31 of 39 passes for 446 yards and seven touchdowns.
• Duke receiver Jamison Crowder recorded 279 all-purpose yards in Saturday’s 58-55 loss to Pittsburgh.
• After recording back-to-back games of 100 receiving yards, Maryland receiver Stefon Diggs caught only two passes for 13 yards against West Virginia.
• Miami freshman running back Gus Edwards rushed for 113 yards and three touchdowns on 12 attempts.
• Miami quarterback Stephen Morris left Saturday’s game against Savannah State with an ankle injury, but X-rays revealed only a sprain.
• Linebacker Stephone Anthony led all Clemson defenders with 14 stops on Thursday night against NC State.
For years, Joe Gibbs Racing and NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship mixed like oil and water. Since its last title with Tony Stewart in 2005, JGR’s postseason has resembled an Atlanta Braves playoff run. There have been spectacular engine failures. Emotional meltdowns. On-track retaliations. A title-draining spin at Homestead. You name it, and the organization has probably experienced it.
How ironic, then, that during NASCAR’s public perception crisis in the wake of “Spingate,” this team has become the poster child for leadership and stability. Matt Kenseth, whose lone championship many claim spurred the Chase format in 2003, is acting like he’s going to waltz away with one in 2013. In capturing a career-best seven victories — the last two coming in the Chase’s first pair of events — he’s brought the quiet confidence combined with a something-to-prove attitude that JGR has needed to remind itself that it can, in fact, get over the hump.
“It's just been an amazing blessing to be part of this group, and I’m happy to have the success we're having,” Kenseth said Sunday, after expressing some rare emotion in Victory Lane. “But even without that, honestly I've just made a lot of friendships I really feel at home there. I just really enjoy being part of it; when you can have success, on top of it obviously that makes it even more fun.”
On paper, Kenseth is only one person. But a man whose knock at Roush Fenway Racing was he couldn’t take more of a leadership role has transformed JGR’s culture in the matter of just nine months. Suddenly, Kyle Busch looks like a man capable of winning a title instead of finding every which way to lose it. Denny Hamlin? The jury’s still out. But a healthy driver in 2014 could very well experience the same type of success.
With JGR a step ahead, let’s see who’s shifting a step behind in “Through the Gears,” post-Loudon:
FIRST GEAR: The Chase is down to three drivers
That’s right. After the hubbub over Richmond’s race manipulation and drivers being added to the playoffs, none of the drama may actually matter. Barring a Talladega disaster, the three drivers in contention are the three who’ve been the most successful this year, armed with Chase spots in-hand long before the RIR crisis. Kenseth, the top playoff seed going in, now has seven wins after a flawless final 100 miles at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Winning at what has historically been one of his worst tracks, Kenseth has now led 34 percent of the two postseason events and opened a 14-point lead on second-place Busch.
Jimmie Johnson, your perennial title contender, sits third, 18 points back even after two top-5 finishes. Everyone else? They’re on another planet. Carl Edwards, sitting fourth, is 36 points behind and would need a miracle to assume the point lead after Dover this Sunday. Already, three drivers – Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne – sit over 60 points behind the leader.
That’s just going to be too much to make up. In past years you might say, “Hey, maybe a late-season surge could see someone rise through the pack.” But this year, the trio on top has been too consistent, too overpowering, to crack. Combined, they’ve led a total of nearly 2,700 laps. They’ve got 15 wins in 28 races. And, with the exception of Busch, they’re title-proven.
Everyone else should start hoping for a big wreck at ‘Dega … or start thinking about next year.
SECOND GEAR: Hendrick’s rough road
Typically, Hendrick Motorsports is at the pinnacle of the Sprint Cup Series come Chase time. After Jeff Gordon’s late entrance into the field combined with some strong runs at Chicagoland, it appeared the four-car juggernaut had additional momentum. Instead? It’s been making some crucial mistakes. Dale Earnhardt Jr. — fastest in final practice at Loudon — had to make a costly track-position stop for loose lugnuts. He recovered, making it back up front, but ultimately settled for sixth.
Teammate Jeff Gordon was not so lucky. After leading 36 laps and taking charge in the race’s midsection, he slid through his pits during a caution-flag stop. With limited time, he recovered to just 15th and saw a longshot title bid all but evaporate. Kasey Kahne, though, had the worst luck of all, losing control off Turn 4 late and slapping the inside wall in an accident that left him 37th. Now last in the Chase, 71 points behind Kenseth, the best this intermediate expert can hope for is a few “cookie-cutter” track trophies down the stretch.
“I really don’t know what happened,” Kahne said. “Just racing and I’m not sure if there was contact or if I just spun. I seriously don’t really remember how it happened.”
HMS is looking at the standings and wondering the same thing. Only Johnson, whose consistency is a Chase hallmark, remains in position to contend for the title; the rest of the four-car crew is eighth or lower in points.
THIRD GEAR: Championship? What championship?
For some drivers, Loudon was simply a race to work on building blocks for 2014 — be it with their current team or someone else’s. For Jamie McMurray, it was his third top-5 finish of the season; his highest total in three years. Recovering from a spin involving teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, he’s working on developing Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing while Montoya works on an exit to Penske Racing in the open wheel ranks. That’ll make for an interesting last eight weeks, especially since owner Chip Ganassi was angered by the on-track contact.
Further back, Brian Vickers provided the most stablizing run for controversial Michael Waltrip Racing with a seventh-place finish. His is the only MWR team with sponsorship secure for 2014, as Aaron’s has publicly offered its support while NAPA has announced its exit and 5-Hour Energy remains (publically) on the fence. Finally, for Jeff Burton, an eighth place was more like an audition to a limited number of teams with seats available. For the 46-year-old veteran, his future is unknown beyond this season. Could we be seeing the last of Burton, Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin in just one offseason?
FOURTH GEAR: Stewart-Haas Racing’s slump
While most expected Ryan Newman to run strong, riding the momentum of a bid to the Chase, he’s instead been underwhelming, posting an average finish of 13.0. Mark Martin, subbing for an injured Tony Stewart, has been far worse; he’s got just one top-10 finish in five races in the seat. And Danica Patrick? We know how her rookie season’s gone.
Clearly, this team is expected to be a powerhouse in 2014 with the additions of Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. But it’s going to be a big jump if the team ends the season with a whimper like this one.
Greg Biffle, third at Loudon, has had a weird year. Under the right circumstances he could finish top 5 in points, but he’s led just four races all season. … Martin Truex Jr. remains in limbo this week after sponsor NAPA announced they’d leave his No. 56 car after the season. An early contender before circumstances left him 10th, the driver has put forth a valiant effort in the face of national controversy. And he’s driving with a broken wrist on top of it. … How bad has this season been for Denny Hamlin? His 12th-place finish at New Hampshire was the best for the No. 11 team since an eighth at Pocono in June.
Follow Tom Bowles on Twitter: @NASCARBowles