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Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-assessing-notre-dames-move-acc

The ACC basketball tournament soon could feature games such as Syracuse-Pittsburgh, and now Notre Dame-Miami.

It will be a strange sight in Greensboro, N.C., but Notre Dame’s announcement it will join the ACC in all sports besides football (and hockey) is part of new normal.

With the news breaking today, there are a handful of questions out there, from when the move will actually occur as well as questions regarding the football schedule and bowl lineup.

For the time being, let’s try to assess what the move might mean for Notre Dame basketball, the ACC and the Big East.

What does this mean for ACC basketball?
The ACC arguably leapfrogged the Big East in basketball prominence by adding a nationally elite program (Syracuse) and a sometimes-elite program (Pittsburgh) a year ago. Notre Dame isn’t in this same category, but the Irish have reached the NCAA Tournament five times in the last six seasons and eight times in a dozen seasons under Mike Brey. Don’t expect many Tournament wins (only two Tournament wins since 2007), but Notre Dame should add to the depth in the middle part of the league.

What does this say for the stability of the Big East and ACC?
From a basketball standpoint, this doesn’t say much more than we already knew, except for deepening the gap between the Big East and the other five BCS automatic-qualifying leagues. Perhaps most notable is the new ACC exit fee of $50 million. Just a year ago, the exit fee was raised to $20 million with the addition of Pitt and Syracuse. The addition of Notre Dame at least as partial member and an increased exit fee makes it less likely teams like Florida State and Clemson would jump ship, as was rumored in recent months. Meanwhile, academics remain a priority for Notre Dame, and the Irish move into a conference with Duke, North Carolina, Virginia and Wake Forest. Including Notre Dame, the ACC has eight of the top 50 colleges, according to U.S. News and World Report
However, one program, North Carolina, is in the midst of an academic scandal. On the other hand, the Big East has one program (Georgetown) in the U.S. News top 50.

Addition of a 15th team begs question: Will there be a 16th?
Fifteen teams may be an awkward number for the ACC in basketball, though not nearly as awkward as it would be for football. The Big Ten, of course, had an odd number of members for nearly 20 years. The Big East had 13 members for five seasons in the late '90s. The ACC could look to another non-football member to round out the lineup, such as Georgetown. And last September, Rutgers and Connecticut were also in communication with the ACC, according to reports. Sources told ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, however, the ACC will stand pat at 15 teams in basketball. The next domino, then, would seem to involve football.

What’s next for the Big East?
The Big East will continue to take a beating from a public perception standpoint with the league losing its fourth big-name program in the last year (five, if you count TCU). However, once Notre Dame leaves and the conference adds Memphis, Temple, UCF, Houston and SMU in 2013-14, the Big East will remain a 17-team league. From a basketball standpoint, Notre Dame’s production shouldn’t be too difficult to replace should the league elect to expand back to 18 members. A team such as Xavier from the Atlantic 10, for example, could be an ideal fit.

By David Fox


<p> College basketball: Assessing Notre Dame's move to the ACC</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 13:30
Path: /nfl/how-5-rookie-quarterbacks-will-do-week-2

The book on rookie quarterbacks in the NFL was a pretty simple one. They were always expected to struggle, especially in the opening games of their careers. Great ones like John Elway and Troy Aikman have talked about how unprepared they were for their first start. Boomer Esiason has described seeing “ghosts” on the field – defenders he never saw who just suddenly appear.

And then last season Cam Newton exploded onto the scene starting as a rookie on opening day and completing 24 of 37 passes for 422 yards and two touchdowns while running for another touchdown. That figured to be the most impressive rookie quarterback debut we’d ever see.

Then on Sunday, Robert Griffin III had a debut that might have been even better – or at least just as good. In the Superdome in New Orleans, one of the toughest places in the league to play, against a good Saints team motivated by the fallout from the Bounty scandal, Griffin completed 19 of 26 passes for 320 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, out-dueling Drew Brees in a 40-32 win.

It was an amazing debut and the best of the record five rookie quarterbacks that started on opening day. It also could be a sign of greatness to come.

Or not. Because one game isn’t a good barometer for anything. There’s a long way to go in the 2012 season and a long way to go in these rookie quarterbacks’ careers. Some of them are off to a good start. But what matters is what lies ahead.

Here’s a look at the future expectations of the new Fab Five:

Robert Griffin III (Redskins): There weren’t many people that rated him ahead of Andrew Luck in the 2012 draft, but there were definitely a few personnel people that did. That’s how good Griffin’s skill is. Plus, he’s the prototypical “new” quarterback – although that prototype is getting old – a man who can make plays out of the pocket just as well as he can in them.

Griffin figures to be a long-term star as long as he can stay healthy and he just might turn the Washington Redskins around. In the short term, though, don’t expect the Redskins’ game in St. Louis to be the same shootout he had in New Orleans. Jeff Fisher’s Rams are going to run the ball to keep it out of Griffin’s hands. Also, now that they’ve seen Griffin in action, it’s a little easier to devise a plan.

Also, keep in mind that Griffin’s biggest play was a short pass to Pierre Garcon that ended up as an 88-yard touchdown. He can’t count on his average receivers making plays like that every game.


Andrew Luck (Colts): He’s been pretty universally called the most complete and NFL-ready prospect since John Elway and his opening day numbers (23 of 45, 309 yards, 1 touchdown, 3 interceptions) were eerily similar to those of Peyton Manning back in 1998. There is no doubt that Luck will end up as a great one and eventually have the Colts in the hunt every season, just like Manning once did.

For Week 2 against the Vikings – and for the rest of the season – what you saw out of Luck on Sunday is likely what you’ll get. He’s got a lot of young talent around him, but it’s hardly a polished team. They will be behind a lot and they will throw often, and that will lead to mistakes. The Vikings can also rush the passer as well as the Bears, which will keep Luck on the run and force him to make his decisions quickly.


Russell Wilson (Seahawks): Wilson was probably the biggest surprise starter out of this five, having beaten out Matt Flynn in training camp. But the Seahawks spent a lot of money on Flynn and they think they’ve built a decent team, so there’s only so long Pete Carroll figures to be patient with a rookie quarterback’s struggles.

On opening day, against a Cardinals team he should’ve beaten, Wilson didn’t struggles as much as he was very average – 18 of 34 for just 153 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Unfortunately for him, now comes the hard part. He gets two home games, but they’re against the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers. If he wants to keep up with either Tony Romo or Aaron Rodgers the next two weeks he’s going to have to start throwing more downfield, which it remains to be seen if he can do consistently and effectively.


Ryan Tannehill (Dolphins): It should be exactly the opposite for Tannehill, who had a very rough opening day assignment against the AFC power Texans in Houston. He wasn’t good, getting picked off three times and completing 20 of 36 passes for 219 yards. He threw almost exclusively short passes, which is a combination of him not quite being ready and the Dolphins barely having an adequate receiving corps. That won’t do against a high-scoring team like Houston.

This week, though, Tannehill goes home and gets a Raiders team that has to fly cross country and has some problems of their own. They do have Carson Palmer, though, so they can score, which means that Joe Philbin may have to take the reins off. That could make for a painful start for Tannehill, but the Dolphins need to know if he can handle more on his plate. Because after the Raiders, they get the Jets and one of the best secondaries in the league.


Brandon Weeden (Cleveland): Weeden was so bad in his debut, it’s unfathomable that he nearly beat the Philadelphia Eagles anyway. The 28-year-old rookie completed just 12 of 35 passes for 118 yards and was picked off four times. One scout, when asked about his performance said, “Colt McCoy would’ve won that game, easily.”

We all may find out if that’s true soon enough because it’s hard to see the Browns giving Weeden more than one more game, unless they’re already prepared to surrender and play for the No. 1 overall pick. Next up for the Browns are the Buffalo Bills at home – a team he should fare much better against given how good Mark Sanchez looked against the Bills last week.

If he doesn’t improve quickly, it’s hard to imagine him getting the start at Baltimore and at the New York Giants in the following two weeks. These aren’t the old days for rookie quarterbacks. Teams don’t have time to let them be disasters at the start of their careers anymore.


<p> Was Week 1 just a fluke?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 10:03
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-20-coaches-hot-seat-post-week-2-rankings

Week 2 of the 2012 college football season is in the books and plenty of coaches saw the temperature on their seat increase by a few degrees. Kentucky's Joker Phillips and Boston College's Frank Spaziani won last Saturday, but both coaches rank as the top two on the hot seat going into Week 3. Auburn's Gene Chizik and Iowa's Kirk Ferentz are ranked for the first time in 2012, while Arkansas' John L. Smith makes an appearance after the Hogs' stunning overtime home loss to Louisiana-Monroe.

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 2 Rankings

1. Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Last Week’s Rank: 1
Record at Kentucky: 12-15 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-1
Despite earning his first win of 2012, Phillips maintains the No. 1 ranking in Athlon’s coaches on the hot seat. The Wildcats fell behind 7-0 to Kent State but scored 17 unanswered in the first half to claim a 47-14 victory. Kentucky’s offense has shown some signs of life through two weeks, averaging 30.5 points and 456 yards per game. The next couple of games represent a crucial stretch in Phillips’ tenure, as the Wildcats host in-state foe Western Kentucky on Saturday and travel to Florida the following week. Kentucky can’t afford to lose to the Hilltoppers, while it’s also important for this team to show some progress against SEC competition.

2. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Last Week’s Rank: 2
Record at Boston College: 21-20 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-1
Just like Joker Phillips, Spaziani is coming off his first win of 2012 but holds steady in his ranking from last week. The Eagles easily defeated Maine 34-3 in Week 2, giving Spaziani a 21-20 record in his tenure as Boston College’s head coach. If the Eagles want to make a bowl game, beating Northwestern this Saturday is a necessity. With conference games coming up against Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech, Boston College could be looking at a 2-5 record before its final five games of 2012.

3. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last Week’s Rank: 5
Record at Central Michigan: 7-19 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-1
Enos and Central Michigan missed a prime upset opportunity on Saturday. The Chippewas hosted in-state foe Michigan State, but the outcome was never in doubt. The Spartans dominated from the opening snap and cruised to a 41-7 victory. Central Michigan’s offense never got on track, and the defense allowed Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell to throw for 275 yards and two touchdowns in his second start. The Chippewas have lost seven out of their last nine games, with the only wins coming against Akron (one of the worst FBS teams last year) and Southeast Missouri State (a FCS opponent).

4. Rick Stockstill, MTSU
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at MTSU: 36-41 (7th season)
2012 Record: 1-1
After a bad showing in the opener against McNeese State, the Blue Raiders bounced back with a 31-17 victory over FAU in Week 2. The victory was enough to move Stockstill down a spot in the rankings, however, MTSU’s road won’t get any easier over the next few weeks. The Blue Raiders have road games at Memphis and Georgia Tech, while Louisiana-Monroe visits Murfreesboro on Oct. 6. MTSU has enough talent in the program to push for a winning record, but the Blue Raiders are a disappointing 1-7 in its last eight games.

5. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last Week’s Rank: 11
Record at UNLV: 4-23 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 0-2
After showing signs of progress in the opener against Minnesota, the Rebels took a step back with a loss to FCS opponent Northern Arizona in Week 2. UNLV has not won a game since Oct. 29 of last season and has just four wins under Hauck’s watch. The third-year coach is starting to feel the heat from the fan base and needs to have a good showing against Washington State on Friday night. The cupboard was far from full when Hauck took over in Las Vegas. However, it’s time for the Rebels to show some progress.

6. Jon Embree, Colorado
Last Week’s Rank: 15
Record at Colorado: 3-12 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 0-2
Similar to UNLV coach Bobby Hauck, Embree did not inherit a great situation when he arrived at Colorado. The Buffaloes were coming off five losing seasons and the talent level was not where it needed to be to compete in the Pac-12. Although Embree can’t be blamed for all of the issues, Colorado is off to an 0-2 start, including a loss to in-state rival Colorado State and FCS opponent Sacramento State this year. The Buffaloes had to replace some key personnel from last season, but there hasn’t been much improvement from this team from 2011. Making matters worse is the remaining 2012 schedule, which features Fresno State, Washington State, UCLA, Arizona State and USC as its next five games. Unless Colorado pulls off an upset, it could be looking at an 0-12 record at the end of November.

7. Jeff Tedford, California
Last Week’s Rank: 6
Record at California: 80-49 (11th season)
2012 Record: 1-1
The Golden Bears broke into the win column with a 50-31 win over Southern Utah on Saturday. While it was a victory, there were a lot of anxious moments for California, especially when the Thunderbirds jumped out to a 3-0 lead and cut the Golden Bears’ lead to 20-17 early in the third quarter. While California had a good rebound from losing its season opener, the schedule only gets tougher from here, starting with Saturday’s game at Ohio State.

8. Robb Akey, Idaho
Last Week’s Rank: 7
Record at Idaho: 19-45 (6th season)
2012 Record: 0-2
A week after dropping a disappointing 20-3 opener to Eastern Washington, the Vandals showed some signs of life in a 21-13 loss to Bowling Green. Quarterback Dominique Blackman threw for 352 yards and one touchdown in his first start, while the defense held the Falcons to 90 rushing yards and forced two turnovers. Unfortunately for Idaho, it faces an uphill battle to earn its first win this season in Week 3. With a trip to Baton Rouge to take on LSU, the Vandals are huge underdogs and need to make it through this matchup without any injuries to attempt a run at a winning record in WAC play. Akey has a tough job, especially as Idaho faces an uncertain future on the FBS level. However, the Vandals need to show progress on the field, which would help make the program more attractive for future Mountain West expansion.

9. David Bailiff, Rice
Last Week’s Rank: 4
Record at Rice: 24-39 (6th season)
2012 Record: 1-1
In one of the most surprising games from Week 2, Bailiff led Rice to a 25-24 upset over Kansas. The win over the Jayhawks was the Owls’ second victory over a team from a BCS conference in the last two years and should give Rice momentum heading into its Conference USA slate. The win should help Bailiff’s prospects of sticking around for another year, but his fate will largely be determined from what happens in conference play. The West Division is wide open and considering the Owls have shown promise through the first two weeks, Rice could make some noise in C-USA.

10. Tony Levine, Houston
Last Week’s Rank: 10
Record at Houston: 1-2
2012 Record: 0-2
After a disastrous debut, Levine and the Cougars had a better showing in the Week 2 loss to Louisiana Tech. Houston’s offense recorded 693 yards and six touchdowns, but the defense allowed the Bulldogs to post 598 yards of total offense, while scoring 56 points. Firing Mike Nesbitt as offensive coordinator appears to have been the right move, but the defense has to be better if Houston wants to repeat as Conference USA West Division champs. The Cougars travel to Los Angeles to play UCLA this Saturday.  

11. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Last Week’s Rank: 8
Record at Maryland: 4-10 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 2-0
The first two games of the year haven’t been pretty, but Maryland has already matched last season’s win total (2). After a sluggish performance in the opener against William & Mary, the Terrapins’ offense played better against Temple, especially in the case of true freshman quarterback Perry Hills. The defense also played a large role in the win over the Owls, recording three turnovers and allowing only 52 rushing yards. Edsall’s seat has cooled thanks to the 2-0 record, but the Terrapins are far from a perfect team. Expect plenty of hot seat and dream job talk this week, especially as Edsall’s old team (Connecticut) visits College Park on Saturday.

12. Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech
Last Week’s Rank: 9
Record at Texas Tech: 15-12 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-0
Tuberville has dropped in the weekly hot seat watch over the last two weeks. A 2-0 start certainly helps, while Texas Tech has shown improvement on defense – yes, the competition wasn’t great – but the Red Raiders are allowing just 177 yards per game so far. Tuberville should cruise to a 3-0 record this Saturday, as Texas Tech hosts New Mexico in its final non-conference game of the season.

13. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Last Week’s Rank: Not ranked
Record at Auburn: 30-12 (4th season)
2012 Record: 0-2
A disappointing 0-2 start and an overall lack of improvement from 2011 to 2012 has placed Chizik squarely on the hot seat. Auburn is just 8-7 since winning the 2010 national championship, and Chizik’s overall record at Auburn without Cam Newton is a pedestrian 16-12. The Tigers face upset-minded Louisiana-Monroe this Saturday, and the schedule only gets more difficult the rest of the way, especially with games against LSU, Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia remaining.

14. Doug Marrone, Syracuse
Last Week’s Rank: 12
Record at Syracuse: 17-22 (4th season)
2012 Record: 0-2
A case could be made the Orange are the best 0-2 team in college football, but Marrone needs wins to show the program is headed in the right direction before joining the ACC in 2013. Syracuse lost 42-41 in the opener against Northwestern and gave USC all it could handle in a 42-29 defeat. The Orange should break into the win column against Stony Brook this Saturday and could be favored to beat Minnesota and Pittsburgh in the next two games.  

15. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Last Week’s Rank: Not ranked
Record at Iowa: 97-67 (14th season)
2012 Record: 1-1
Is Iowa on the decline? That’s the big question facing Ferentz after a 1-1 start, which saw the Hawkeyes lose to in-state rival Iowa State for the second time in two seasons. Since winning 11 games in 2009, the Hawkeyes are only 16-12 and the offense has been one of the worst in the Big Ten through the first two games. Iowa ranks 12th in the Big Ten in total and scoring offense, while quarterback James Vandenberg is only averaging 175 yards passing per game. The good news for Iowa is Northern Iowa and Central Michigan are the next two opponents, which should allow the Hawkeyes to be 3-1 before the Big Ten opener against Minnesota. Ferentz has led Iowa to 10 bowl games, but there’s plenty of grumbling around the program after losing to Iowa State for consecutive seasons.

16. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Last Week’s Rank: 13
Record at Buffalo: 6-20 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-1
Quinn’s record is 1-1, but the Bulls have to be pleased with their start to 2012. Buffalo hung tough in a 45-23 loss to Georgia and beat Morgan State 56-34 in Week 2. The Bulls have one of the nation’s most underrated running backs in Branden Oliver, who is averaging 174.5 rushing yards per game. It will be tough for Quinn to have a winning record at the end of 2012, but Buffalo should be more competitive in MAC play.

17. George O’Leary, UCF
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at UCF: 51-52 (9th season)
2012 Record: 1-1
UCF didn’t beat Ohio State, but there was really nothing shameful about losing 31-16 on the road in Columbus. The Knights have a tough two-game stretch upcoming, as they take on in-state rival FIU in Week 3 and Missouri in Week 5. UCF is still the favorite to win Conference USA’s East Division, but a collapse in the second half of the season would likely spell the end of O’Leary’s tenure.

18. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at New Mexico State: 10-30 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-1
New Mexico State is one of the toughest jobs in college football, so it has been no surprise that progress has been slow under Walker. The Aggies have won only 10 games under his watch, but are off to a 1-1 start in 2012. New Mexico State could push for a winning record this season, especially if quarterback Andrew Manley continues to develop into an All-WAC honors candidate. The upcoming schedule isn’t too difficult and considering New Mexico State’s uncertain future at the FBS level, it would be a surprise if Walker is fired at the end of 2012.

19. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Last Week’s Rank: 17
Record at Western Michigan: 48-40 (8th season)
2012 Record: 1-1
The Broncos have two more chances to knock off BCS competition this season, before opening up conference play against Toledo on Sept. 29. Western Michigan has defeated four BCS teams under Cubit’s watch during the regular season and could make it six with winnable games against Minnesota and Connecticut upcoming. Even if the Broncos lose both games, the biggest obstacle to another year for Cubit in Kalamazoo will be what happens in MAC play. Western Michigan is favored to win the MAC West but has struggled to reach expectations in previous years.

20. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Last Week’s Rank: 16
Record at Tennessee: 13-14 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-0
Dooley has dropped from No. 3 in Athlon’s post-fall practice rankings to No. 20 in just two weeks. Tennessee has started off 2012 on the right foot, beating NC State in the opener and easily handling Georgia State in Week 2. Despite his 2-0 start, this week’s game against Florida is no doubt a bigger challenge for Dooley. If the Volunteers struggle or lose, he will shoot back into the top 10 of the rankings. However, should Tennessee win, it might be time to consider Dooley’s team a contender in the SEC East.

Honorable Mention

John L. Smith, Arkansas
Last Week’s Rank: Not ranked
Record at Arkansas: 1-1 (1st season)
2012 Record: 1-1
Since Smith is on a one-year deal, there wasn’t much expectation for him to retain the job in 2013. However, losing to Louisiana-Monroe certainly isn’t what Arkansas envisioned when he returned to Fayetteville for 2012 following the unexpected dismissal of Bobby Petrino. Barring a complete implosion by the Razorbacks, Smith will stay on as Arkansas’ head coach for the remainder of this season.

by Steven Lassan


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College Football Week 2 Recap

<p> College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 2 Rankings</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 06:32
All taxonomy terms: MLB
Path: /rookieseason

The Angels’ Mike Trout continues to chase history as a 21-year-old rookie bidding to become just the third rookie to win AL MVP honors. How does his season stack up against the best rookie seasons by a positional player of all-time?

Here’s our ranking:

1. Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox, 1939
The Splendid Splinter burst onto the scene in Boston leading the American League with 145 RBIs and 344 total bases. His command of the strike zone was immediately evident by his 107 walks.

2. Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals, 2001
After a meteoric rise in the minor leagues, the 13th-round draft pick started more than 30 games at four different positions in 2001. On a team that included Mark McGwire and Jim Edmonds, the rookie led the Redbirds in runs, hits, doubles, home runs and RBIs.

3. Dale Alexander, Detroit Tigers, 1929
His career was brief — only five seasons — due to a knee injury, but his rookie season was stellar. The Tigers’ first baseman led the circuit with 215 hits and did not miss a game. He won a batting title in 1932.

4. Fred Lynn, Boston Red Sox, 1975
Some of his numbers pale when compared to other eras, but the 1970s were not kind to hitters. The Gold Glove outfielder is one of only six rookies with 100 runs and RBIs, and he led the AL in runs, doubles, slugging and OPS. He was the first rookie to win an MVP.

5. Richie Allen, Philadelphia Phillies, 1964
Later known as Dick Allen, the enigmatic slugger had some difficulty finding a home later in his career. But during his rookie season, the Phillies’ offense leaned on him as he led the NL in runs and triples. He started every game at third base.

6. Mark McGwire, Oakland A’s, 1987
Before his arms blew up like Popeye’s, McGwire was a feared slugger for Oakland. Part of the Bash Brothers with Jose Canseco, McGwire established a rookie record with 49 home runs, which led the AL that season.

7. Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners, 2001
Ichiro came to America as the owner of seven batting titles in Japan, not exactly inexperienced. But winning a batting title, a stolen base title and earning MVP honors in his first season in the U.S. is impressive.  

8. Tony Oliva, Minnesota Twins, 1964
Oliva won a batting title and led the American League in hits, runs and doubles. He joined Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmon Killebrew to form a formidable lineup for the Twins in the 1960s, leading the team to the World Series in 1965, and to two division titles in 1969-70.

9. Joe DiMaggio, New York Yankees, 1936
Joltin’ Joe certainly had a spectacular supporting cast, but DiMaggio began his assault on American League pitching right out of the box. He finished eighth in MVP voting and it marked the only time in his career that he led the league in triples.

10. Carlton Fisk, Boston Red Sox, 1972
Fans most vivid memory of Fisk is the stout catcher waving a home run fair to walkoff Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. But Pudge won a Gold Glove as a rookie and led the AL with nine triples. His OPS+ of 162 that season ranks among the best ever for a first-year player.

11. Johnny Mize, St. Louis Cardinals, 1936
The Hall of Famer had a .400 on-base percentage in each of his first six seasons in the majors. He also never dipped below 30 doubles during that time. He missed three full seasons due to military service during WWII, and wasn’t quite the same player when he returned.

12. Frank Robinson, Cincinnati Reds, 1956
Robinson, who would become the first player to win the MVP award in both leagues, got the attention of National League pitchers quickly in 1956. His OPS of .936 finished second in the NL to Duke Snider, and ahead of Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Stan Musial.

13. Nomar Garciaparra, Boston Red Sox, 1997
Nomar led the league in hits and triples during his rookie campaign. He earned a trip to the All-Star Game, finished eighth in MVP balloting and won a Silver Slugger award.

14. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers, 2007
His rookie season was briefer than most since he didn’t make his debut until May 25. But his 34 home runs tied for fifth in the league and his .634 slugging topped the NL.

15. Mike Piazza, Los Angeles Dodgers, 1993
The second of five consecutive Dodgers to win the NL Rookie of the Year, Piazza started 141 games behind the plate. He led the Dodgers in average, runs, homers and RBIs.

Honorable Mentions
Del Bissonette, Brooklyn Dodgers, 1928
Del Ennis, Philadelphia Phillies, 1946
Mitchell Page, Oakland A’s, 1977
Paul Waner, Pittsburgh Pirates, 1926


<p> Athlon Sports picks the best rookie seasons in baseball history.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 06:29
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-2-bowl-projections

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 two 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. 

With very little data to work with, the post-Week 2 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. 

2012-2013 Post-Week 2 College Football Bowl Projections

Bowl Date Tie-In Projected Matchup
New Mexico Dec. 15 MWC vs. Pac-12 Utah vs. Colorado State
Famous Idaho Potato Dec. 15 MAC vs. WAC Utah State vs. N. Illinois
Poinsettia Dec. 20 BYU vs. MWC BYU vs. Nevada
Beef 'O'Brady's Dec. 21 Big East vs. C-USA East Carolina vs. Connecticut
New Orleans Dec. 22 Sun Belt vs. C-USA UL Lafayette vs. Southern Miss
Las Vegas Dec. 22 MWC vs. Pac-12 Washington vs. Boise State
Hawaii Dec. 24 C-USA vs. MWC Fresno State vs. SMU
Little Caesars Dec. 26 Big Ten vs. MAC Purdue vs. Toledo
Military Dec. 27 ACC vs. Army Marshall* vs. Vanderbilt*
Belk Dec. 27 ACC vs. Big East Georgia Tech vs. Cincinnati
Holiday Dec. 27 Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Stanford vs. Baylor
Independence Dec. 28 ACC vs. SEC Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M
Russell Athletic Dec. 28 ACC vs. Big East South Florida vs. NC State
Meineke Car Care Dec. 28 Big Ten vs. Big 12 TCU vs. Iowa
Armed Forces Dec. 29 C-USA vs. MWC Houston vs. Wyoming
Kraft Fight Hunger Dec. 29 Pac-12 vs. Navy Navy vs. California
Pinstripe Dec. 29 Big East vs. Big 12 Rutgers vs. Notre Dame
Alamo Dec. 29 Big 12 vs. Pac-12 UCLA vs. Kansas State
Buffalo Wild Wings Dec. 29 Big Ten vs. Big 12 Oklahoma State vs. Illinois
Music City Dec. 31 SEC vs. ACC Miami (Fla.) vs. Arkansas
Sun Dec. 31 ACC vs. Pac-12 Arizona vs. Virginia
Liberty Dec. 31 SEC vs. C-USA Tulsa vs. Missouri
Chick-fil-A Dec. 31 ACC vs. SEC Virginia Tech vs. Florida
TicketCity Jan. 1 Big Ten vs. C-USA Texas Tech* vs. Northwestern Gator Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Tennessee vs. Nebraska
Capital One Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Georgia vs. Michigan
Outback Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten South Carolina vs. Wisconsin
Cotton Jan. 4 Big 12 vs. SEC West Virginia vs. Miss. State
BBVA Compass Jan. 5 SEC vs. Big East Auburn vs. Louisiana Tech* Jan. 6 MAC vs. Sun Belt Arkansas State vs. Ohio
BCS Bowls      
Rose Jan. 1 BCS vs. BCS Michigan State vs. Oregon
Orange Jan. 1 BCS vs. BCS Florida State vs. Louisville
Sugar Jan. 2 BCS vs. BCS LSU vs. Texas
Fiesta Jan. 3 BCS vs. BCS Oklahoma vs. Clemson
National Title Jan. 7 BCS vs. BCS USC vs. Alabama

by Steven Lassan


(published Sept. 12, 2012)

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<p> College Football Post-Week 2 Bowl Projections for 2012</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 06:21
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big Ten, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/which-new-college-football-coach-has-been-most-impressive-through-two-games

There were 28 college football teams with a new coach this year, and the results have been mixed so far. UCLA's Jim Mora, Arizona's Rich Rodriguez and Ohio State's Urban Meyer are each off to great starts, while Houston's Tony Levine and Pittsburgh's Paul Chryst are a disappointing 0-2. There's still a long way to go this season, but Athlon's editors (and former coach Don James) discussed which first-year coach has been the most impressive through the first two games. 

Which New College Football Coach Has Been The Most Impressive Through Two Games?


Coach Don James, former head coach of the Washington Huskies, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
Jimmy Mora at UCLA. I coached him and I followed him through his career. He’s off to a good start. There’s always been some question about him UCLA, but he’s off to a decent start. He spent most of his career in the NFL. In the NFL, it’s pure football. When you have 16-hour days in the NFL, you’re focused on football. When we had 16-hour days [in college] we were doing everything else: Recruiting and academics. Jim always had an excellent football knowledge. A lot of his early success has to do with his hires. He’s got a guy with two Super Bowl rings [former Steelers assistant Lou Spanos, UCLA’s defensive coordinator] and he’s got some guys who have recruited in college. This isn’t a secret, they had a deal where the seniors had a day off and [Mora] stopped that right away. I think that’s made a big difference. You set a set of rules and start living up to that. If you don’t want to be committed to these rules go do something else. It will impact more of the recruiting because they’ll pick your school because they believe in what you believe.


David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Based on what games I’ve picked already this season, I’d have to say Rich Rodriguez at Arizona has been the most surprising first-year coach. I picked the Wildcats to lose both to Toledo and Oklahoma State at home this season, and they’ve won both. Rodriguez is a notorious slow starter in his first season at a coaching job, but that doesn’t seem to be plaguing him at Arizona. The Wildcats rolled up 624 yards of offense (though accounted for only 24 points) against Toledo and 501 yards against the defending Big 12 champions. Most impressive in that Oklahoma State game was the lack of turnovers against a ballhawking Cowboys’ D and only a week after Arizona had three turnovers against the Rockets. Going into the season, I didn’t peg Arizona as bowl team, but it looks like that may be in the plans for Rodriguez’s debut season.


Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
There’s still a long way to go in the 2012 season, but it’s hard to pick against Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez or UCLA’s Jim Mora for the job they have done so far. The Bruins have given up some yards on defense, but the offense has been one of the best in the nation, and this team finally looks ready to realize its potential. UCLA has always had talent, but the results haven’t always been there. The Wildcats were picked to finish around .500 by most, however, this team could challenge for eight wins, especially after pulling off an upset over Oklahoma State on Saturday. Since Rodriguez and Mora are the two obvious choices, it’s worth highlighting a couple of other coaches that have been impressive early, including Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, Arizona State’s Todd Graham and despite the loss on Saturday, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin.


Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
There really are only two possible answers to this question, Rich Rodriguez at Arizona and Jim Mora at UCLA. I’ll give the slight edge to Mora because the Bruins have faced a more difficult schedule, winning at Rice (which won at Kansas) and beating a solid Nebraska team. UCLA has been terrific on offense, averaging a staggering 649.5 yards and 42.5 points. In the win over Nebraska, the Bruins topped 300 yards both passing and rushing, with quarterback Brett Hundley (305 yards passing) and tailback Johnathan Franklin (217 yards rushing) leading the way. UCLA has long been considered a sleeping giant in the Pac-12. Maybe the Bruins are waking up.


Mark Ross
How far has Arizona come under Rich Rodriguez? Look no further than last Saturday's upset of then-No. 18 ranked Oklahoma State. Last season, the Cowboys defeated the Wildcats 37-14 as they piled up nearly 600 yards of offense. This time around in Tuscon, Oklahoma State was certainly able to move the ball against Arizona's defense, to the tune of 636 total yards, but the Pokes also turned the ball over four times. OSU's defense also had just as much trouble stopping Arizona's offense, as the Wildcats amassed more than 500 yards and, more importantly, out-scored the Cowboys 59-38 to move to 2-0 on the season. The defense will be an issue, especially as 'Zona moves deeper into Pac-12 play, but Rodriguez' zone-read option offense should cause opponents enough headaches of its own, giving Arizona a chance to do something this season it wasn't able to do in 2011 — win more games than it lost.


Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
The answer is UCLA’s Jim Mora, and the margin is wide. The Bruins have struggled mightily to find a solution at quarterback over the last few seasons, and Mora’s hire of veteran offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone seems to be working wonders for new signal caller Brett Hundley. The redshirt freshman threw for 305 yards and four touchdown passes in the Nebraska victory on Saturday. Hundley also added 53 yards rushing and did not throw an interception in that fan-base reenergizing win. Of course a running game can be the best friend of any young quarterback, and tailback Johnathan Franklin leads the nation in rushing with 431 yards. While the Bruins still have plenty to fix on defense before a challenging Pac-12 slate, Mora already has a signature victory and has shown significant program improvement just two weeks into UCLA’s 2012 campaign.

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<p> Which New College Football Coach Has Been The Most Impressive Through Two Games?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 06:15
Path: /nfl/giants-packers-or-saints-which-0-1-team-most-trouble

Throughout the 2012 NFL season, Athlon Sports will tackle the hot issues on and off the gridiron with our our editors and other pigksin experts.

Q: New York Giants, Green Bay Packers or New Orleans Saints: Which 0-1 Team is in the Most Trouble?

Rob Doster (@AthlonDoster):
It's definitely the Saints. I don’t care how great Robert Griffin III is: When you surrender 40 points and 464 yards at home to a team with a rookie quarterback at the helm and a rookie feature back (sixth-round pick Alfred Morris, who rushed for 96 yards), you have defensive issues that extend far beyond a little bounty-induced personnel depletion. Throw in a punchless running game (32 yards), an alarming carelessness with the football (three turnovers) and an All-Pro quarterback who completed 46 percent of his passes, and you have Week 1’s most disappointing team. Time to panic, New Orleans fans.


Gene Higginbotham,
I feel that out of all three, the Saints could be the most in trouble. The Giants are the defending Super Bowl champs, but they have shown that they can come together at the end of the season and win when they need to. The Packers almost had my vote because of their loss at home in Lambeau Field, but the San Francisco 49ers are a high quality opponent especially on defense. The Saints however not only lost at home in one of the loudest "Dome-field advantage" venues, but to the Washington Redskins who have a brand new rookie quarterback in Robert Griffin III and aren't known over the past few seasons to be a huge threat. It seemed that the Saints came in with a slight bit of overconfidence with the "Us Against the World" mentality. Another issue facing them is the "Do Your Job" that suspended head coach Sean Payton left them with. It was stated by the coaching staff after Sunday's loss that too many players were focused on too many things other than "their job." Instead of trying to create the magic fueled from adversity, they just simply need to let it happen and let this season it be special on its own like the 2009-10 season. If not, they could be headed for bigger trouble down the road.


Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven):
Luckily for all three teams (Giants, Saints and Packers), there is plenty of time to turn things around and still make the postseason. However, even though it's only one game, each team has a reason to be concerned going into Week 2. I think the Saints are in the most trouble, especially after the defense was torched for 464 yards against the Redskins. Robert Griffin will be a great quarterback in the NFL, but it's troubling New Orleans' veteran defense couldn't generate much of a pass rush and struggled to get stops on Sunday afternoon. The Saints can score a lot of points, but the defense has to be better, especially in a division that features Matt Ryan and Cam Newton at quarterback. Without Sean Payton on the sidelines, the Saints figured to have a tough time making the playoffs. However, if Sunday's performance is repeated in Week 2, New Orleans could have trouble just reaching eight wins. 


Mark Ross, Athlon Sports:
Let's face it, the openers didn't go as planned for any of these teams as each one tasted defeat on their respective home turfs. The defending Super Bowl champion Giants started their title defense by losing a NFC East division game to the despised Cowboys. The Saints made Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III look like a Hall of Famer in his first career start, while the Packers got beat up and beat down by the 49ers. While there are certainly reasons to be alarmed if you root for one of these teams, I am keeping a close eye on the Packers as they head into this Thursday's home date with Chicago.

The Packers couldn't run the ball at all against the 49ers and I'm not expecting much different results against the Bears' defense. San Francisco also had little trouble going up and down the field against the Green Bay defense. This could be a problem on Thursday since in my estimation, the Bears have a more potent offense than the 49ers, especially when you take into consideration the additions of wide receiver Brandon Marshall and running back Michael Bush. The Packers' secondary was already a question mark going into the season and you know that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, Marshall and his fellow wideouts are more than willing to test it out again this Thursday. Reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers has had plenty of success in his career against the Monsters of the Midway, but this time around it appears the Bears have enough firepower of their own to not only keep up with Pack Attack, but possibly even out-score it. The NFC North already figured to be a dogfight with the Packers, Bears and Detroit Lions battling it out, so the last thiing the defending division champs want to do is put themselves in a 0-2 hole this early in the season.


Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports:
The Saints are in jeopardy of becoming the Aints this season. After one of the worst offseasons in NFL history, New Orleans opened the season by losing to the Redskins in the NFL debut of Robert Griffin III. Now, Drew Brees and Co. are 0–1 headed to Carolina to take on Cam Newton in an NFC South division showdown. With a skeleton crew coaching staff, ongoing off-field distractions and a legal battle with Commissioner Roger Goodell, the Saints can't afford to get off to a slow start.


Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
It has to be the Saints, who had very little go right in a 40-32 home loss to the Redskins in Week 1. The Packers lost to another elite team in the 49ers, while the Giants have shown a recent penchant for starting slow and turning it on late. I did not believe the New Orleans’ coaching changes were going to be such a huge factor, but the performance against Washington said otherwise. The Saints defense is still trying to become comfortable in new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme, while the offense made way too many mistakes and has no running game. Even All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees was 24-for-52 passing (46.2 percent) versus the Redskins, after a 2011 season where he was never below 59 percent in any game. The NFC South is a strong division, especially with an improved Buccaneers squad, so the schedule will be difficult all year. Brees has the ability to mask over some team deficiencies, but the Saints will need to show marked improvement to get back to the postseason.


Joe Tufaro,
While I don't think that any 0-1 team is in all that much trouble, the Saints probably have the biggest question marks. With all that has surrounded that team in the off-season, they needed to make the statement Sunday that they were prepared to put it all behind them and move on. The fact that they looked poor on both offense and defense for much of the game, at home, has to be a concern. Facing the Panthers now, who are also 0-1, will be a major test for this defense.

The Packers defense did not look like the improved product it was supposed to be, and of course they need to right the ship quickly due to their Thursday night affair against division rival Chicago. The Bears have a new big offense, and the Pack must find a way to either stop it or offset it in a hurry.

The Giants played an odd game last Wednesday, in that a lot of their mistakes were uncharacteristic for them, and they still had a chance to either win or at least tie the game in the last minutes. The Giants are not the dominant team at home that the Saints and Packers are, so losing a game at home is not as much of a concern. The Giants only become a team in trouble if they somehow lose to Tampa Bay and then have to face what could be an 0-2 Carolina team on short rest on the road.

So, while the 0-1 start didn't knock any of the 16 teams that started that way out of the playoffs, the match-ups in Week 2 are of major concern to some of those teams.

— Published on Sept. 12, 2012

<p> <span>New York Giants, Green Bay Packers or New Orleans Saints — Which 0-1 Team is in the Most Trouble?</span></p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 06:15
Path: /college-football/florida-tennessee-rivalry-becoming-nationally-relevant-again

With most teams still playing non-conference opponents, Week 3 of the 2012 college football season is another light slate of games. However, there are a few must-watch games, including the Florida-Tennessee matchup. This rivalry was one of the best in the SEC in the 1990s and early 2000s, however, both teams have slipped in performance and this game hasn't meant as much. Could 2012 be the start of this rivalry reclaiming its spot as one of the most important in college football?

Is the Florida-Tennessee Rivalry Nationally Relevant Once Again?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
The answer is no. The only reason this game has taken on additional prominence is because Arkansas couldn’t stop Kolton Browning and Louisiana-Monroe last week. There was a time when Florida-Tennessee determined the SEC East champion and a potential BCS team. Despite strides by both teams in the first two weeks of the season, I can’t imagine this matchup will do anything more than determine a participant in the Outback Bowl or Chick-fil-A Bowl. This won’t even be the most nationally relevant game in the SEC East this season (that belongs to South Carolina-Georgia), never mind the rest of the league or the rest of the country.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
This rivalry is starting to regain some of its intrigue that the SEC experienced in the 1990s, but I’m not ready to say it is nationally relevant. There’s not many marquee games this week, so it definitely helps the rivalry to be on a stage with little competition from the rest of the top 25. Both teams are off to a solid start, but neither appears to have what it takes (so far) to beat out Georgia or South Carolina for the East title. For this rivalry to reclaim its spot as one of the best in the SEC, both teams need to be ranked a little higher and come into the season with higher expectations. While Florida and Tennessee each have a solid win this season and this is a key game for SEC East positioning, this rivalry would become more nationally relevant if both teams can sustain its success, rather than struggling to crack the top 25 or seven wins each year. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
It’s definitely relevant this season, but it’s a bit premature to make the claim that this series will once again take on national significance on an annual basis. Both teams are off to a solid start, but there is no guarantee that Tennessee and/or Florida will return to elite status this season or any time soon. There is some positive momentum with each program, but it’s quite possible that these are still the third and fourth best teams in the East behind Georgia and South Carolina. 

Mark Ross
It's funny how quickly things change, isn't it? About a month ago if you had asked this question I am pretty sure you would have gotten different answers than now. That said, it certainly helps that both teams are 2-0 and each have already scored impressive victories of their own headed into Saturday's "showdown" in Knoxville, Tenn. However, this is the first time since 2007 both teams will be ranked when they play each other, and perhaps even more telling, it's still not CBS' national SEC Game of the Week on Saturday. That distinction belongs to Alabama at Arkansas. That alone speaks volumes to me about the current national perception of this rivalry. It will always be an important game to fans of each school and the SEC East division race, but it's just not where it used to be, not yet. Considering both teams' recent struggles and the uncertainty surrounding them headed into this season, I would go so far as to say both coaching staffs and fan bases are just happy we are even asking this question.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
The annual Vols-Gators game is becoming a big deal once again, although each program must get back in the top ten for this mid-September clash to have its former “Game of the Year” feel from the 1990s. Both teams have gone through a major transition over the last two seasons, with regime changes affecting their win-loss record significantly. Florida lost 11 games between Urban Meyer’s final season and Will Muschamp’s debut last year, while Tennessee dropped a school-record 14 contests in Derek Dooley’s first two years while he tried to repair a program severely depleted by the end of the Fulmer era and a mostly-wasted recruiting class with Lane Kiffin. By contrast, both the Vols and Gators lost only 23 times each in the decade from 1992-2001 when this game was must-see TV. However with both teams ranked and ESPN’s Gameday on the way to Rocky Top, this year’s battle is rekindling the classic SEC East rivalry.


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<p> Is the Florida-Tennessee Rivalry Becoming Nationally Relevant Again?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 06:04
Path: /college-football/college-football-bcs-crasher-stock-report-0

Last week’s BCS crashers probably won’t make a run at a major bowl game this season, but two of them crashed the expectations for power-conference teams.

Louisiana-Monroe scored a rare Sun Belt win over an SEC team, and not just a rebuilding SEC program, as happens every now and then. The Warhawks overwhelmed, at least on offense, an SEC team that fancied itself a West Division and BCS contender. Those hopes may be over for Arkansas.

Out West, Utah had an uphill battle to unseat USC in the Pac-12 North to begin with, but the Utes are now trying to avoid being the third-best team in their own state. Meanwhile, Utah State -- rather than preseason favorite Louisiana Tech -- may be the team to watch in the WAC.

Looking ahead, this could be a key week for teams outside of the six major conferences. ULM will try to upset another SEC team. Utah State faces a reeling Big Ten team. And independents BYU and Notre Dame will hit the road for key rivalry games.

Here’s whose stock is rising and falling for teams outside of the Big Six leagues:

As a conference, the Sun Belt has never had two wins over the SEC in the same season, never mind a single team doing it in back-to-back weeks. And remember, ULM wasn’t even one of the favorites in the Sun Belt -- Athlon picked the Warhawks fourth after Arkansas State, FIU and Louisiana-Lafayette. This week, the Warhawks face an Auburn team stinging from a turnover-filled loss to Mississippi State. Meanwhile, ULM quarterback Kolton Browning bounced back from a broken sternum last season to account for 481 yards of total offense against the Razorbacks’ lackluster defense.

Utah State. Aggies coach Gary Anderson has led once-hapless Utah State to close losses to Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Auburn in the last four seasons. Utah State put an end to the near-misses Friday with a 27-20 win over Utah, the Aggies’ first win over the Utes since 1997. A week after quarterback Chuckie Keeton and Kerwyn Williams averaged 5.3 yards per carry against Utah and All-American defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, the Aggies’ backfield duo will face a Wisconsin team that lost 10-7 to Oregon State last week. How much of a big-game player is Keeton? The sophomore is a combined 56 of 87 for 551 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions against Auburn, BYU and Utah the last two seasons.

Toledo. Anyone with an affinity for midweek college football knows to keep an eye on Toledo. That shouldn’t change this season despite a new Rockets coach. A week after taking Arizona to overtime in a 24-17 loss -- a loss that’s more impressive after the Wildcats’ dismantling of Oklahoma State on Saturday -- Toledo defeated bowl contender Wyoming 34-31 on the road. Toledo’s Terrance Owens passed for 300 yards and four touchdowns and the Rockets rushed for 204 yards as a team. Toledo also has allowed 1,150 yards in two games, so the potential for defense-optional MAC games is high again this season. Could that start this week with Toledo’s home opener against Bowling Green, a team that was competitive with Florida until the fourth quarter in Week 1?

ULM at Auburn. The Warhawks try to add the Tigers to Alabama and Arkansas in their SEC trophy case.
Utah State at Wisconsin. The Aggies seek a big-time road win to go with Utah victory.
BYU at Utah. BYU has lost three of four in the series, but Utah is stinging from the loss to Utah State.
Notre Dame at Michigan State. Manti Te’o vs. Le’Veon Bell is one of the week’s top matchups.

Notre Dame.
The 20-17 win over Purdue is tough to figure, and not because of the Irish quarterback rotation: Is Purdue better than projected? Is Notre Dame worse? Was this a case of jet lag since the trip to Ireland? In any event, Notre Dame escaped with a win. It turns out Notre Dame’s switch at quarterback from Everett Golson to Tommy Rees in the final two minutes was due to Golson’s inexperience rather than his sore thumb. Will Golson go the distance against Michigan State.

Ohio. No Penn State hangover here. The Bobcats defeated New Mexico State 51-24 behind four total touchdowns from Tyler Tettleton and Beau Blankenship. This week’s game against Marshall is Ohio’s only regular-season game against a team with a winning record last year.

Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs won their opener after their first game against Texas A&M was postponed. Louisiana Tech may be one of the top teams outside of the Big Six conferences, but the Bulldogs didn’t show it on defense in a 56-49 win over Houston. The Cougars passed for 580 yards, rushed for 113 and scored 35 second-half points to prevent the game from being a rout.

The Wolf Pack threatened to string together back-to-back wins against major conference teams before a late collapse led to a 32-31 loss to USF. In the fourth quarter, Nevada was stopped on a goal-line stand and the 1-yard line and allowed two 50-yard pass plays to blow an 11-point lead.

Arkansas State. Is it time to re-evaluate those Sun Belt expectations? Arkansas State’s 57-34 loss at Oregon wasn’t a huge surprise, but the Red Wolves let Memphis hang around a little too long Saturday. Arkansas State was the preseason Sun Belt favorite after winning 10 games last season while Memphis lost to UT Martin in the opener. Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin remains productive, though, passing for 300 yards in both games this season.

Eastern Michigan.
The Eagles have made progress under Ron English, going 6-6 last season for the program’s first non-losing season since 1995. Eastern Michigan’s hopes of reaching a bowl for the first time since 1987 decreased thanks to a 31-14 loss to Illinois State. The Eagles turned the ball over five times in the loss.

Colorado State. The Rams’ didn’t have the highest expectations this season, but the good feelings from a season-opening win over Colorado quickly eroded with 22-7 loss to North Dakota State. Colorado State lost to the top-ranked team in the FCS, but an FCS team, nonetheless.

Taylor McHargue, Rice. The Owls quarterback is a week removed from passing for 236 yards in a second-half comeback against Kansas. The junior who lost his job to Nick Fanuzzi also passed for 172 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 95 yards and a score to keep the heat on UCLA in the opener. This week, he’ll face a vulnerable Louisiana Tech defense that just allowed 580 passing yards and 77 pass attempts to Houston last week.

By David Fox


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<p> College Football: BCS Crasher Stock Report</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 05:46
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-using-vegas-odds-determine-best-week-3-plays

In the world of fantasy football, some team owners are relentless in their search for information that will give them a competitive edge over their competition.  Others just simply rely on projections from so-called experts, who try to convince everyone they have devised a computer program that accurately projects player stats by using a scientific formula so complicated that it makes the Drake equation seem elementary.  Eventually, those computer-driven computations prove no more accurate than an old-fashioned gut feeling.  However, in a quest to find a formula for fantasy success, one should just ask the question, “What are the odds?”

Quite simply, Vegas odds could give you all of the necessary insight to make smart roster decisions on a week-to-week basis.  In this weekly article, theCFFsite considers the point spreads and totals(over/under) in order to give our readers a unique perspective into some of the week’s most interesting fantasy matchups.

Week 3

Best Fantasy Matchups (Games with the most fantasy potential)

Houston at UCLA

Line:  UCLA -17(O/U-74)

Projected score based on point spread:  UCLA 46-28

Best plays:

Houston (QB-David Piland, RB-Charles Sims, WR-Daniel Spencer)

UCLA (QB-Brett Hundley, RB-Johnathan Franklin)

Also consider:

Houston (WR-Dewayne Peace, K-Matt Hogan)

UCLA (WR-Joseph Fauria, K-Ka’imi Fairbairn)

theCFFsite projects:  UCLA 41-31


Louisiana at Oklahoma State

Line:  Oklahoma St -22(O/U-73)

Projected score based on point spread:  Oklahoma St 42-28

Best plays:

Oklahoma St (QB-Wes Lunt, RB-Joseph Randle, WRs-Tracy Moore,  K-Quinn Sharp)

Louisiana (QB-Blaine Gautier, RB-Alonzo Harris, WR-Javone Lawson)

Also consider:

Oklahoma St (RB-Jeremy Smith, WRs-Isaiah Anderson, Josh Stewart)

Louisiana (TE-Jacob Maxwell, K-Brett Baer)

theCFFsite projects:  Oklahoma St 41-20


Ohio at Marshall

Line:  Ohio -6.5(O/U-67)

Projected score based on point spread:  Ohio 37-30

Best plays:

Ohio (QB-Tyler Tettleton, RB-Beau Blankenship, K-Matt Weller)

Marshall (QB-Rakeem Cato, WR-Aaron Dobson)

Also consider:

Ohio (WR-Donte Foster)

Marshall (RB-Travon Van, WR-Antavious Wilson)

theCFFsite projects:  Ohio 35-24

Arkansas State at Nebraska

Line:  Nebraska -24.5(O/U-67.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Nebraska 46-22

Best plays:

Arkansas St (QB-Ryan Aplin, RB-David Oku, WR-Josh Jarboe)

Nebraska (QB-Taylor Martinez, RB-Ameer Abdullah, K-Brett Maher)

Also consider:

Arkansas St (WR-JD McKissic)

Nebraska (WR-Kenny Bell, TE-Kyler Reed)

theCFFsite projects:  Nebraska 52-28


Rice at Louisiana Tech

Line:  Louisiana Tech -20.5(O/U-65.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  LA Tech 43-23

Best plays:

Rice (QB-Taylor McHargue, RB-Charles Ross, WR-Jordan Taylor, K-Chris Boswell)

Louisiana Tech (QB-Colby Cameron, WRs-Myles White, Quinton Patton, K-Matt Nelson)

Also consider:

Rice (WRs-Sam McGuffie, TE-Luke Willson)

Louisiana Tech (RBs-Tevin King, Kenneth Dixon)

theCFFsite projects:  LA Tech 45-28


One-Sided Matchups(Using the odds to find a dominating ‘D’)

Massachusetts at Michigan

Line:  Michigan -45.5(O/U-56)

Projected score based on point spread:  Michigan 51-5

Stay away from:

UMass (RB-Michael Cox)

theCFFsite projects:  Michigan 52-10


Florida Atlantic at Georgia

Line:  Georgia -43.5(O/U-53)

Projected score based on point spread:  Georgia 48-5

Stay away from:

FAU (WR-Byron Hankerson)

theCFFsite projects:  Georgia 56-6

Idaho at LSU

Line:  LSU -42.5(O/U-54.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  LSU 49-6

Stay away from:

Idaho (QB-Dominique Blackman)

theCFFsite projects:  LSU 45-3

South Alabama at North Carolina State

Line:  North Carolina St -31.5(O/U-50)

Projected score based on point spread:  NC St 40-9

Stay away from:

South Alabama (RB-Demetre Baker)

theCFFsite projects:  NC St 42-7


UAB at South Carolina

Line:  South Carolina -33.5(O/U-54.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  South Carolina 44-10

Stay away from:

UAB (QB-Jonathan Perry)

theCFFsite projects:  South Carolina 49-14

Must Watch Games(The games with the biggest headlines)

USC at Stanford

Line:  USC -9(O/U-56)

Projected score based on point spread:  USC 33-24

Outlook:  Stanford may keep it close for a half, but receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods will eventually make enough plays to put this one out of reach.

theCFFsite projects:  USC 38-21


Florida at Tennessee

Line:  Tennessee -3(O/U-47)

Projected score based on point spread:  Tennessee 25-22

Outlook:  Florida did enough last week to slow down the Aggies in College Station, but the big-play potential of receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson will prove too challenging for the Florida defense.

theCFFsite projects:  Tennessee 31-21


theCFFsite in Must Watch games:

2012 Season:  Straight Up (5-1)  ATS: (3-3)

2011 Season:  Straight Up (40-9) ATS: (35-14)



By:  Joe DiSalvo

The College Fantasy Football Site


Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

<p> College Fantasy Football: Using Vegas Odds to Determine Best Week 3 Plays</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 04:04
Path: /nascar/nascar-news-notes-week-4

The race shop was once a movie theatre. The team’s finances proved as stable as a house of cards. No surprise that one of NASCAR’s biggest dreamers was the owner.

Five years later, Michael Waltrip’s team is in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup for the first time. Michael Waltrip Racing brings an intriguing mix with drivers Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr., who both have shown the ability to string several strong races together this season.

Neither likely will be among the Chase favorites, though, because most people will be smitten with Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin or Dale Earnhardt Jr. All are worthy picks and make it easy to overlook Waltrip’s group.

While much will be made of Hendrick Motorsports putting all four cars in the Chase after Jeff Gordon’s determined drive at Richmond to secure the final wild card spot, just think what could have been for Waltrip’s team. Had Mark Martin run the entire schedule instead of a majority of races, he could have been in position to make the Chase and put all three MWR cars in it. Still, Waltrip’s team has more cars in the Chase than traditional powerhouses Joe Gibbs Racing, Richard Childress Racing and defending champions Stewart-Haas Racing.

That’s a credit to what Waltrip has built along with co-owner Rob Kauffman, who joined the organization in Oct. 2007 and saved it with his infusion of cash.

“They hired the right people,” Denny Hamlin says. “They hired the right drivers. That's how you become successful.

“(MWR) is going to be around for a long time. You look at the progression of the race team, they’re legit now. I mean, they are guys you're going to have to beat week in, week out.”

Bowyer, who joined the team this season, enters the Chase with two wins after his victory last weekend at Richmond. He’s finished in the top 10 in five of the last six races.

“With everything new, never would (I) have dreamed in a million years all this would have happened this quickly,” Bowyer said after his win last weekend.

Asked about the possibility of winning the title, Bowyer said: “Jimmie (Johnson) seems like he has a blast doing it. I promise you I could throw a better party than him. Might not survive it, but we would have a lot of fun.”

As for Truex, he seeks his first win since 2007, but has shown signs of contending for victories, especially during a stretch in the spring where he finished fifth at Martinsville, sixth at Texas and second at Kansas — all Chase tracks. He had finished no worse than 11th in seven races until placing 21st at Richmond. Still, he’s lead in four consecutive races entering the Chase, his longest streak of the season.

"I'm going to be honest with you, the way our cars are running and as fast as we've been the last six or seven weeks we're dangerous,” Truex says. “I know we're kind of an underdog and not a lot of people expect us to do much. It's a good position to be in. We just need to be smart, make good decisions and our Toyotas are strong enough to do this thing. (I’m) looking forward to going out and having some fun and hopefully we'll put together 10 good races and be in the hunt.

<p> Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long takes a spin around the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit with Michael Waltrip Racing's Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - 17:51
Path: /nfl/peyton-manning-throws-400th-td-pass-beats-steelers-broncos-debut

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Peyton Manning played his first meaningful game since Jan. 8, 2011. But even after missing an entire season, enduring four neck surgeries and switching teams during the offseason, the four-time MVP didn’t miss a beat — completing 19-of-26 passes (73.1 percent) for 253 yards, two TDs and zero INTs for a 129.2 passer rating during a 31–19 win over the Steelers.

“It definitely is a special win,” said Manning. “I know how hard I’ve worked and how many people have helped me in this process. I’m grateful, and I’m definitely appreciative of the moment and the opportunity.”

On the other side, Pittsburgh was playing in Denver for the second straight game, having ended last year with a 29–23 loss in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. And although the opposing starting quarterback has since changed, the results were eerily similar nine months later.

Last season, the Steelers lost on an 80-yard “Mile High Miracle” pass from Tim Tebow to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime. This time around, Manning found Thomas for a 71-yard catch-and-run the vaunted Steel Curtain defense was yet again unable to predict or stop.

“We weren’t thinking an 80-yard touchdown — maybe a nine-yard gain is kind of what I was thinking. So it sure was a nice surprise,” said Manning. “Of course, Demaryius did the majority of the work and really turned it on with great speed. Just a huge play.”

The dramatic scoring strike was Manning’s first TD pass as a Bronco and the 400th of his 15-year career. The third quarterback in history to throw 400-plus TD passes, Manning joins Brett Favre (508) and Dan Marino (420) in the record books — although he needed 18 fewer games and 473 fewer pass attempts to become a member of the elite fraternity.

“Dan Marino and Brett Favre are two of my favorite players of all time — two of the best quarterbacks of all time,” Manning said. “I don’t really feel comfortable being in that company, but to be mentioned amongst them is truly humbling and quite an honor. It’s not one I take lightly.”

The game also included a few blasts from the past. Denver’s sack master Von Miller celebrated the first of his two sacks by “Tebowing” to show a “little love” to Denver’s former QB. And cornerback Tracy Porter — the man responsible for the most memorable lowlight of Manning’s career — sealed the win for the Broncos with a pick-six of Ben Roethlisberger, just as Porter did against Manning as a member of the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV.

But in the end, all that mattered was Manning’s triumphant return. It was as if No. 18 never left at all.

“What can you say?” said Steelers safety Troy Polamalu. “I mean, he’s Peyton Manning.”

<p> Peyton Manning makes debut with Denver Broncos, throws 400th TD pass and beats the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - 16:54
Path: /golf/rory-mcilroy-greatest-23-year-old-golfer-history

After back-to-back wins at the Deutsche Bank and BMW Championships, 23-year-old Rory McIlroy is closing in on a FedExCup title. The accompanying $10 million would buy world-class WAG Caroline Wozniacki a lot of bling, but I'm more concerned about Rory's place in history should he close the deal at the Tour Championship next week.

The question before us: Is McIlroy the greatest 23-year-old golfer in history? There are only three clear candidates — Rory, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus — so let's take them one by one and let their numbers speak for themselves.


The Case for Rory McIlroy
Majors Won: 2
Combined Margin: 16
Major Top 5s: 5
Major Top 10s: 6
PGA Tour Wins: 6
Worldwide Wins: 9

• He's the youngest PGA Champion (23 years, three months) since the tournament moved to stroke play in 1958, beating Jack Nicklaus' record.
• His 8-shot margin of victory at the PGA broke Nicklaus' record 7-shot margin at the 1980 PGA.
• McIlroy is the second-youngest player to win two majors. Nicklaus was one month younger when he won his second; Tiger was four months older.
• His 8-shot win at the PGA reprised his 8-shot demolition of the U.S. Open field in 2011. He's the first player to earn his first two major victories in such dominant fashion.
• He's halfway to a career Grand Slam, and had he avoided a Sunday back-nine meltdown at the 2011 Masters, we'd be talking about him in the reverent tones once reserved for Tiger at his apex.


The Case for Tiger Woods (through age 23 season)
Majors Won: 2
Combined Margin: 13
Major Top 5s: 4
Major Top 10s: 6
PGA Tour Wins: 15
Worldwide Wins: 17

• Tiger also won an unprecedented three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles (1994-96), which at one time were considered majors.
• Tiger was the 1996 NCAA champion while at Stanford.
• As low amateur at the 1996 British Open, he tied a record with an amateur aggregate score of 281.
• He was PGA Tour Player of the Year in 1997 and 1999.


The Case for Jack Nicklaus (through age 23 season)
Majors Won: 3
Margin: 3 (plus playoff)
Major Top 5s: 7
Major Top 10s: 8
PGA Tour Wins: 8
Worldwide Wins: 11

• Nicklaus was a two-time U.S. Amateur Champion (1959, 1961).
• He won the NCAA title at Ohio State in 1961.
• Nicklaus won 27 events in the Ohio area from ages 10-17, many against professionals.
• His first professional win came in the 1962 U.S. Open, where he beat Arnold Palmer on Palmer's home turf at Oakmont with a partisan crowd rooting against him. At 22, he was the youngest U.S. Open winner since Bobby Jones in 1923.

The Verdict
Nicklaus was the only three-time major winner at age 23, and he took down the great Arnold Palmer when the King was at his peak. McIlroy set new standards of dominance in winning his first two majors by a combined 16 strokes, and he's established himself as the clear No. 1 player in the world. Plus, he doesn't turn 24 until next May, giving him time to add to his ledger. But for dramatic success combined with sheer impact, Woods is the choice. His 12-stroke breakthrough win at the 1997 Masters remains one of golf's greatest achievements, and his 17 worldwide wins at such a tender age remain unmatched. And that's without mentioning the broader significance of his status as the first major champion of color, a development that tapped a new market for the game.

Others Worth Mentioning

• I can't leave Seve Ballesteros out of this discussion. By the time he turned 24, Seve had two majors under his belt — the 1979 British Open and 1980 Masters — as well as 12 other wins in Europe and the 1978 Greensboro title on the PGA Tour. I only omit him from inclusion with Rory, Tiger and Jack because of the level of competition on the European Tour at the time; it wasn't what it is today. Plus, he had only one top 10 in a major aside from his two wins, leaving him well behind the top three.

• At age 23, Bobby Jones had won a U.S. Open and two U.S. Amateurs, when they were true majors. His level of competition excludes him from consideration, though.

• By the time he turned 24, Phil Mickelson was a four-time winner on Tour, including a rare win as an amateur (Tucson, 1991). He remains the last amateur to win on the PGA Tour. He's probably the greatest NCAA golfer in history, winning three individual NCAA championships and earning All-America honors all four years at Arizona State. He also won the U.S. Amateur in 1990, joining Woods and Nicklaus in winning the NCAA-U.S. Amateur double in the same season. But his success in majors would come later.

• At age 21, Ben Crenshaw became the second player in Tour history to win the first event he entered. He was a three-time NCAA champion at Texas.

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Post date: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - 12:10
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-waiver-wire-week-2

The first week of NFL action is in the books and many fantasy football owners are already looking to the waiver wire. We're here to help. The players listed in Athlon Sports’ weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding onto all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may want to keep an eye on. So without further ado, here are some players worth grabbing.


Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville
It’s only one week, but Gabbert looked pretty good against Minnesota, completing nearly 60 percent of his attempts for a career-high 260 yards, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion. However, it is still early and Houston’s defense figures to be a much tougher test than the Vikings’, but progress is progress, right?

Christian Ponder, Minnesota
Speaking of progress, fellow second-year signal caller Ponder completed nearly 75 percent of his pass attempts against the Jaguars. He threw for 270 yards, but had no touchdowns. Still, with Adrian Peterson back in the fold, Ponder could become a reliable spot-starter, especially if the Vikings’ offense continues to progress.

Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
Tim Tebow did get on the field, but it was Sanchez who did all the damage under center, as he passed for 266 yards and three touchdowns in the Jets’ demolition of Buffalo. A trip to Pittsburgh is next up for the Jets, but the Steelers had trouble stopping Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ aerial attack, so Sanchez could be worth a look in Week 2, if not beyond.

Alex Smith, San Francisco
Is San Francisco changing its style? The 49ers passed nearly as many times (26) as they ran the ball (32), and when they did go to the air, Smith made it count. He missed on just six of his 26 attempts for 211 yards and two touchdowns in the huge road win over Green Bay. He connected with six different receivers on the day, including a total of eight catches by new wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. If the 49ers continue to let Smith throw the ball, he could put up some decent numbers, starting this week as Detroit and its banged up secondary comes calling.

Running Backs

Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers
Isaac Redman started and had more carries (11 to 9), but Dwyer did more with his touches as he had 43 yards rushing and caught two passes in the Steelers’ loss to Denver. It remains to be seen if Dwyer will supplant Redman as the starter, and also what will happen once Rashard Mendenhall returns, but the former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket certainly bears watching.

Kendall Hunter, San Francisco 49ers
Frank Gore (112 yards rushing) did the bulk of the damage on the ground, but Hunter still got nine carries against Green Bay. Hunter finished with 41 yards (4.6 ypc) and with LaMichael James and Brandon Jacobs sidelined by injuries, he appears to be the clear-cut second option for a team that likes to run.

Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos
Willis McGahee is the No. 1 option in Denver right now, but if Week 1 showed us anything, it’s that Moreno and not third-round pick Ronnie Hillman, is No. 2. Moreno was productive in his return from last season’s torn ACL as he had five carries for 13 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown in the second quarter of the Broncos’ win over Pittsburgh. Even though Peyton Manning is now under center, it’s not like he’s going to throw the ball every play, so opportunity is there for Moreno, especially if McGahee goes down to injury.

Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
Morris got more than four times as many carries as any other Washington running back against New Orleans, and turned those 28 totes into 96 yards and two scores. The obvious caveat with him, however, is that he plays for Mike Shanahan, who has a well-earned reputation for driving fantasy owners crazy with how he handles his backfield. You’ve been warned.

Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons
Although Atlanta's 40-24 domination of Kansas City may not be the best gauge, it should be pointed out that Rodgers carried the ball just four times fewer than Michael Turner, who had 11 carries. Rodgers had a better average (3.1 to 2.9 ypc) and also had two receptions. If the coaching staff is serious about cutting down Turner’s workload, Rodgers will be the primary beneficiary.

C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
He leads the NFL in rushing and he’s probably the Bills’ starter moving forward as Fred Jackson is dealing with a knee injury that will reportedly keep him out at least a month. Spiller was the lone Bills highlight in the lopsided loss to the Jets, as he gashed them for 169 rushing yards on just 14 carries. Even if you took out his 56-yard touchdown run, Spiller would have finished with 113 yards on 13 carries (8.7 ypc).

Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals
He didn’t do a lot with them (9 yards rushing), but Williams finished Arizona’s win over Seattle with more carries (8 to 7) than Beanie Wells. He also caught two passes for 17 yards. The workload for the two backs is what bears watching moving forward, especially if Williams establishes himself as the lead horse.

Wide Receivers

Nate Burleson, Detroit Lions
Detroit surprisingly struggled to put away St. Louis, but Matthew Stafford still finished with more than 300 yards passing and Calvin Johnson led the way with 111 yards receiving. It was Burleson, however, who got more targets (8 to 7) than Johnson and tied Megatron with six catches (69 yards). As much as the Lions throw the ball, Burleson could develop into a valuable contributor, especially if he’s able to hold off Titus Young as the No. 2 receiver.

Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
Cobb tied Greg Jennings for most targets among Green Bay wide receivers in the loss to San Francisco with nine. More than that, however, was how the Packers lined the second-year pro up – in the backfield, on the outside, in the slot – in an attempt to get him the ball. If you have any doubts about his big-play ability, look no further than his 75-yard punt return for a touchdown that got the Packers back in the game early in the fourth quarter.

Stephen Hill, New York Jets
It was Hill and not Santonio Holmes, who was the Jets’ leading receiver against Buffalo. Hill put a disappointing preseason completely behind him with his five-catch, 89-yard effort that also included two touchdowns. Holmes was targeted more (8 to 6), but Hill is the other starting wideout for the Jets and it looks like Mark Sanchez will not be afraid to throw it his way.

Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
There’s no doubt that Brandon Marshall is and will be Jay Cutler’s favorite target, but there’s room for someone to emerge as his No. 2 option and Jeffery did nothing to hurt himself in that regard in Week 1. The rookie out of South Carolina was targeted five times, which was second only to Marshall’s 15 among Bears wideouts, and finished with three receptions for 80 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown strike in the fourth quarter.

Donald Jones, Buffalo Bills
Jones led the Bills in receptions with five in Week 1, and he should continue to see plenty of opportunities as David Nelson tore his ACL in the loss to the Jets. Stevie Johnson is the clear No. 1 option for Ryan Fitzpatrick, but Jones will line up opposite him as the other starter due to the loss of Nelson.

Brandon LaFell, Carolina Panthers
Barring injury, LaFell won’t supplant Steve Smith as Cam Newton’s favorite target anytime soon. Still, the former LSU Tiger came on late last season and continued that momentum in Week 1 as he caught three passes for 65 yards (21.7 ypc) and a score.

Randy Moss, San Francisco 49ers
Is he back? Perhaps, but one thing is for sure – Alex Smith did his part to involve him in San Francisco’s passing attack. Moss was targeted four times, which tied him for second among 49er wide receivers with Mario Manningham, but he caught all of them for 47 yards and a touchdown. More importantly, Smith looked his way multiple times in the red zone.

Kevin Ogletree, Dallas Cowboys
On the one hand there’s the eight receptions for 114 yards and two touchdowns, which is certainly the type of production anyone would want to have in their lineup. There are also the team-high 11 targets he got from Tony Romo. On the other hand, there’s the fact that Ogletree will remain the Cowboys’ No. 3 receiver, barring injury, and that opposing secondaries will probably offer more resistance than the Giants’ injury-depleted one did in Week 1. All of that said, Ogletree is still worth picking up if you have room for him. Remember what Laurent Robinson did last season?

Andre Roberts, Arizona Cardinals
Arizona’s quarterback situation and the presence of Larry Fitzgerald notwithstanding, Roberts staked his claim to the No. 2 receiver job in Week 1. Besides leading the team in catches (five for 54 yards and a touchdown), and receiving just two fewer targets (11 to 9) than Fitzgerald, Roberts also was the Cardinals’ leading rusher. He gained 15 yards on one lone carry.

Tight Ends

Martellus Bennett, New York Giants
Three different Giants tight ends were targeted a total of 86 times last season. Only one of them – Bear Pascoe – is on the active roster this reason. Eli Manning targeted his tight ends a total of seven times in the opener against the Cowboys. Pascoe got one, while Bennett got the other six and turned them into four catches and a touchdown.

Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts
Fleener was targeted by his former Stanford teammate Andrew Luck 10 times against Chicago, finishing with six catches for 82 yards. Overall Luck threw the ball 45 times, a trend that figures to continue considering the chances the Colts will be playing from behind a majority of the season.

Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars
A breakout star in 2010, Lewis all but disappeared in 2011. After posting five catches on five targets for 52 yards and a touchdown in Week 1, Lewis may be back on the fantasy map this season, especially if Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert can perform like he did against Minnesota on a weekly basis.

Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens
Pitta and not Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin or even Ray Rice was the most targeted Raven on Monday night with nine of them. He finished the evening with a team-high five receptions, 73 yards receiving, and scored a touchdown. He and Ed Dickson give quarterback Joe Flacco two dependable options at tight end, but the early returns seem to show that Pitta is first in the pecking order. Don't lose sight of the fact that even though the outcome against Cincinnati was a laugher, 44-13, the Ravens still threw the ball (32 attempts) more than they ran it (23 rushes).

Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
Rudolph got seven targets, just one fewer than wide receiver Percy Harvin, and caught five passes for 67 yards in the win over Jacksonville, He should continue to receive his fair share of opportunities as he and Harvin will more than likely be Christian Ponder’s primary reads in the Vikings’ passing game as the season progresses.

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

— By Mark Ross, published on Sept. 11, 2012

<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 2</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketballs-most-underrated-all-overlooked-team

With roughly 340 teams in Division I basketball, some players are bound to fall through the cracks.

We’d like to do our part to rectify that by highlighting some of the key players you may have missed last season. A handful of reasons led to these players going overlooked and underrated nationally: Chief among them is an absence from the NCAA Tournament. Some made all-conference teams. Some had impressive statistics, but for whatever reason, only hardcore fans knew their names.

We think these players anonymity will come to an end this season, and they’ll no longer be overlooked and underrated.

G Tim Frazier, Penn State
6-1/170, Sr.
Stats: 18.8 ppg, 6.2 apg, 4.7 rpg, 2.4 spg
Playing basketball at Penn State isn’t the best way to get noticed. Just ask Talor Battle. Frazier was just as productive in his second season. He improved from 6.3 points per game to become to the second-leading scorer in the Big Ten. Frazier is one of the quickest guards in the country, but he’s also one of Penn State’s only real offensive threats. His 497 shots from the field were 203 more than anyone else on the roster last season.

Related: Big Ten coach rankings

G B.J. Young, Arkansas
6-3/180, Soph.
Stats: 15.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.3 apg
Young was a second-team All-SEC selection, but the league’s other big-time freshmen (Kentucky’s roster, Florida’s Bradley Beal, Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes), seemed to be bigger names. Look for this to change. Young was sixth in the SEC in scoring (ahead of Beal and Anthony Davis) and shot better than 50 percent from the field. After going 6-10 in the league last season, Arkansas is a possible NCAA Tournament team thanks to an extra year under Young’s belt and the return of injured forward Marshawn Powell
Related: Arkansas among sleeper teams who could return to NCAA Tournament

F Murphy Holloway, Ole Miss
Particulars: 6-7/240, Sr.
Stats: 11.2 ppg, 9 rpg
Holloway and teammate Reginald Buckner will form one of the SEC’s top frontcourts after ranking third and fourth, respectively, in the conference in rebounding. Holloway is the rare player to transfer from one school only to transfer back later -- he left for the 2010-11 season to walk on at South Carolina to help take care of his infant daughter. He didn’t play that season at South Carolina and returned to Ole Miss last year.
Related: 17 questions for the South Region in 2012-13

F Andre Roberson, Colorado
Particulars: 6-7/210, Jr.
Stats: 11.6 pgg, 11.1 rpg
No one paid too much attention to Colorado until the Buffaloes marched through the Pac-12 Tournament and defeated No. 6 seed UNLV in the NCAA round of 64. Now, Colorado is gearing up for a third consecutive postseason berth thanks to the return of Roberson, who was third in the nation in rebounding. He finished the season with 20 double-doubles, just as many as Anthony Davis. That number included four double-doubles in six postseason games.
Related: Pac-12 coach rankings

F Brock Motum, Washington State
Particulars: 6-10/245, Sr.
Stats: 18 ppg, 6.4 rpg
Did any player do more last season and receive less notoriety? We believe so. We even considered naming this team the “Brock Motum All-Stars.” Blame Pullman, Wash., or blame the 7-11 season in a poor Pac-12. The Australian lefty improved from Washington’s fifth-leading scorer to lead the Pac-12 in points per game last year.

G Chaz Williams, UMass
Particulars: 5-9/175, Jr.
Stats: 16.9 ppg, 6.2 apg, 4.4 rpg, 2.2 spg
Upon his transfer from Hofstra, the diminutive Williams helped transfer UMass from an Atlantic 10 also-ran status to potential NCAA Tournament contender. Williams led the A-10 in assists and finished seventh in scoring. He was a perfect fit for the Minutemen’s up-tempo system, which led the A-10 in scoring. After a year with Williams running the point, UMass is hoping for bigger postseason goals.

Related: Can UMass, St. Joe's return to the NCAA Tournament?

G Langston Galloway, St. Joseph’s
Particulars: 6-2/200, Jr.
Stats: 15.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.2 apg
Galloway has played the last two seasons with high-scoring guard Carl Jones, but Galloway might be the best player at St. Joe’s. He certainly was the most improved last season. He shot 39.9 percent from the field as a freshman and then 48.8 percent as a sophomore. He also made 90 3-pointers, 22 more than anyone else in the A-10, leading the league by shooting at a 46.6 percent clip.
Related: Atlantic-10 coach rankings

G/F Colt Ryan, Evansville
Particulars: 6-5/210, Sr.
Stats: 20.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.9 spg
Ryan is a one-man show for the Purple Aces, leading the Missouri Valley in minutes played and finishing second in scoring behind Creighton’s All-America forward Doug McDermott. Though Evansville has yet to breakthrough as an NCAA Tournament team, Ryan has finished in the top three in the league in scoring all three seasons on campus.

F Rodney Williams, Minnesota
Particulars: 6-7/200, Sr.
Stats: 12.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg
Williams finished last season in a flourish as the Gophers recovered from a 5-12 season in the Big Ten to reach the NIT final. Williams scored 20 points in four of the last six games. Optimism runs high in Minneapolis as Trevor Mbakwe returns to the lineup, and the Gophers receive a season’s worth of standout point guard play from sophomore Andre Hollins. Williams could be a major beneficiary.
Related: Big Ten coach rankings

F Cameron Melvin, DePaul
Particulars: 6-8/208, Jr.
Stats: 17.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg
These are lean times for DePaul -- very lean times. If Melvin, the first signee under coach Oliver Purnell, the Blue Demons may escape the Big East cellar. For the last two seasons, though, DePaul hasn’t lacked a legitimate all-conference-type of player. Melvin finished the season sixth in the Big East in scoring and 12th in rebounding.
Related: 17 questions for the East Region in 2012-13

-David Fox 


<p> College Basketball's Most Underrated: The All-Overlooked Team</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - 05:56
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-surprises-after-two-weeks

Only two weeks of the 2012 college football season are in the books, but there has been plenty of action so far. After two weeks, Athlon runs down 10 surprises, including Pac-12 teams UCLA, Arizona and Oregon State. There's still plenty of time for our opinion to change on these teams/players/units over the next few weeks, but here are 10 things that caught our attention through two games.

College Football's Top 10 Surprises After Two Weeks

1. UCLA – Talent never seems to be an issue for the Bruins. However, the results haven’t always matched the players on the roster. That isn’t the case in 2012, as UCLA is off to a promising 2-0 start, largely due to the emergence of quarterback Brett Hundley. Behind Hundley and running back Johnathan Franklin, the Bruins are averaging 649.5 yards and 42.5 points per game. UCLA’s defense needs some work, but its offense should be able to outscore a lot of teams on the schedule in 2012. With Houston, Oregon State and Colorado up next, the Bruins could be 5-0 going into the first weekend in October.

2. Arizona – Rich Rodriguez was a bad fit at Michigan, but he’s clearly the right man for the job in Tucson. The Wildcats are off to a 2-0 start, which includes a solid win over Toledo in the opener and an upset victory over Oklahoma State in Week 2. Rodriguez has found the perfect triggerman for his spread attack, as senior Matt Scott is tied for second nationally in total offense after two games. The Wildcats still have concerns on defense but should be 3-0 after beating South Carolina State this Saturday. Even though Arizona won’t win the Pac-12 this year, it’s clear Rodriguez has this program on the right track.

3. De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon – Considering what he did as a freshman last season, Thomas’ numbers through the first two weeks shouldn’t be a shock. However, the sophomore’s statline is ridiculous. Thomas has scored on three of his 10 rushing attempts and is averaging 16.6 yards per carry. He has also scored on two of his eight receptions. It will be difficult to keep those numbers up the rest of the season, but Thomas is clearly one of the nation’s top playmakers and should make a run at the Heisman Trophy.

4. Iowa State – As long as Paul Rhoads is on the sideline in Ames, the Cyclones will be a threat to pull off a couple of upsets every year. Iowa State was listed as an underdog in the first two games of 2012 but won both contests. The Cyclones knocked off one of the favorites (Tulsa) for the Conference USA title in Week 1 and beat in-state rival in Iowa in Week 2. Considering Iowa State was an underdog in its first two games and seems to be improved off last season’s bowl team, the Cyclones are the Big 12’s top surprise team through the first two weeks. 

5. Oregon State – Due to a canceled game against Nicholls State in Week 1, there’s not much data on Oregon State. However, the limited sample size on the Beavers suggests this is an improved team. Oregon State upset Wisconsin last Saturday, and after struggling to stop the run in 2011, the Beavers allowed just 35 yards to the Badgers and forced three sacks. Oregon State has an uphill battle to get bowl eligible in the Pac-12 North, but don’t expect this team to be an easy out in conference play. 

6. Alabama’s defense – There was no doubt the Crimson Tide would reload on defense, but most expected it would take a couple of weeks before this unit was back to its usual shutdown ways. Two weeks into the season and it looks like Alabama is ready to match last year’s No. 1 ranking. The defense has allowed only 14 points through two weeks and ranks 14th in total defense (246.5 yards per game). Alabama’s defense won’t be as dominant with all of the new faces stepping in, however, this unit should still finish in the top five nationally in points and yards allowed.

7. Miami Hurricanes’ defense – Even with six new starters, no one could have predicted Miami’s defense would be this bad after two weeks. The Hurricanes have been abysmal so far, allowing an average of 42 points and 517.5 yards per game. This unit has barely generated a pass rush (1 sack) and ranks last in the ACC in total, scoring and pass defense. Miami suffered another setback in Saturday’s game against Kansas State, as linebacker Ramon Buchanan was lost for the season. The Hurricanes should have a much easier time stopping Bethune-Cookman this Saturday, but Georgia Tech, NC State and Notre Dame will test this defense once again.

8. FCS upsets over FBS teams – Games against FCS teams aren’t always guaranteed wins and that’s been showcased through the first two weeks. FCS teams have pulled eight upsets so far – McNeese State over MTSU, Northern Arizona over UNLV, Sacramento State over Colorado, North Dakota State over Colorado State, UT Martin over Memphis, Illinois State over Eastern Michigan, Youngstown State over Pittsburgh and Eastern Washington over Idaho. Although none of those teams were national title contenders, FBS teams – especially those outside of the BCS – can’t take FCS teams lightly.

9. Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse – Nassib was expected to be one of the top quarterbacks in the Big East, but he stepped up his play to another level in 2012. Through the first two weeks of this season, Nassib has 804 yards and six touchdowns, while adding 32 yards and a score on the ground. The senior ranks second nationally with an average of 418 total yards per game and is completing 67 percent of his throws. Nassib should easily surpass last season’s totals – 2,685 yards and 22 touchdowns if he continues to play at this level. Considering Syracuse is struggling to keep opposing offenses out of the endzone, the Orange could ask Nassib to win a lot of shootouts in 2012.

10. Boise State’s defense – While Miami’s defense made it on this list for the wrong reasons, the Broncos earn a spot due to their Week 1 performance against Michigan State. Yes, this unit allowed 461 yards, but it forced four turnovers and took one interception back for a score. Boise State has only one game under its belt, but considering its defense had to break in 10 new starters, the early results are positive that this unit will remain one of the best in the nation. 

by Steven Lassan


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<p> College Football's Top 10 Surprises After Two Weeks</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - 05:41
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-disappointments-after-two-weeks

The 2012 college football season is still young, but it's never too early to start looking at some of the biggest disappointments from the preseason. Arkansas' surprising loss to Louisiana-Monroe knocked it out of the national title picture, while the nation has yet to see Washington State's offense get on track. There's plenty of time for these teams, players and units to turn things around. However, after two weeks, these are our 10 biggest disappointments based on preseason expectations.

College Football’s Top 10 Disappointments After 2 Weeks

1. Arkansas – Yes, there was a drop off expected after Bobby Petrino was fired in the spring, but no one could have predicted Saturday night’s loss to Louisiana-Monroe. The Warhawks are a solid Sun Belt team, but this is a game Arkansas should not lose. Losing quarterback Tyler Wilson certainly hurt, but the defense had an awful performance. The Razorbacks held national title hopes coming into the year but could struggle just to finish in the top 15 of the polls at the end of the season.

2. Washington State’s offense – With Mike Leach’s arrival in Pullman, and the return of quarterback Jeff Tuel and receiver Marquess Wilson, big things were expected of Washington State’s offense. Through two weeks, the Cougars have failed to live up to the hype, ranking 104th in scoring and 111th in yards per game (289.5). It’s early in the year, but it was a surprise to see Washington State’s offense sputter against Eastern Washington and BYU. A key reason for the struggles has been the play of the offensive line, which is allowing three sacks per game. Expect the Cougars to find their rhythm on offense as the year progresses, but bigger things were expected out of this unit against BYU and Eastern Washington.

3. Wisconsin – With the departure of a handful of assistant coaches, and quarterback Russell Wilson finishing his eligibility, the Badgers weren’t expected to match last season’s offensive numbers. However, Wisconsin’s offense has been lackluster through the first two weeks, recording only 26 points against Northern Iowa and seven against Oregon State. Bret Bielema has already made one change, firing offensive line coach Mike Markuson and more moves could be coming at the end of the year if Wisconsin’s offense doesn’t improve. Heisman Trophy candidate Montee Ball has just 181 yards and one touchdown through two weeks, while the Badgers rank 105th nationally in total yards per game. The good news for Wisconsin? The Leaders Division is essentially a three-team race – Illinois, Purdue and Wisconsin – with Ohio State and Penn State ineligible to play for the Big Ten title. If the Badgers can find the right mix on the offensive line and get Ball going on the ground, this team can easily win the division title.

4. Auburn – The Tigers weren’t expected to be ranked in the top 10, but most thought this team would be improved. Through two weeks, Auburn clearly has a lot of work to do. The offense ranks last in the SEC in yards per game (295) and 13th in passing (159.5). Quarterback Kiehl Frazier’s performance hasn’t inspired much confidence so far, tossing four picks and completing less than 50 percent of his throws. Despite having some talent on the offensive line, Auburn is allowing two sacks per game and is averaging only 135.5 rushing yards per contest. With SEC games against LSU, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Georgia and Alabama remaining, the Tigers will have its hands full just getting bowl eligible.

5. Pittsburgh – The Panthers were pegged as a darkhorse candidate to compete for the Big East title in the preseason, but it’s been an awful start to Paul Chryst’s tenure. Pittsburgh was dominated by FCS foe Youngstown State 31-17 in the season opener and failed to show much improvement in the Week 2 loss to Cincinnati. The biggest problem for Chryst has been a defense that has allowed 422.5 yards per game and has just one sack through the first two games. As with all of the teams on this list, Pittsburgh has time to turn things around. However, having four head coaches in three years has probably caught up to the Panthers.

6. Big Ten – Two weeks into the season and the Big Ten is off to a bad start. Throw out Northwestern’s wins against Syracuse and Vanderbilt and the conference has no other non-conference victories against BCS competition and Notre Dame (0-7). Ouch. Some of the outcomes weren’t a surprise, but Illinois was expected to challenge Arizona State (not having quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase certainly hurt) and Wisconsin was a heavy favorite to beat Oregon State. Considering the conference doesn’t have many opportunities to earn big non-conference wins the rest of the way, the Big Ten will have to wait until bowl season to get marquee victories against BCS competition.  

7. NCAA’s new helmet rule – Yes, safety is important, but this rule is ridiculous. There have been instances through the first two weeks where players are having their helmets ripped off by defenses and are forced to sit out the next play. It’s important for players to keep their helmets buckled tight for safety, but sitting out a play for something the defense is doing just doesn’t make sense – especially since the referees can’t catch everything. And wouldn’t this rule promote more aggressive play if defenses know any player has to miss a play if his helmet comes off? The intent is correct, but this rule could end up costing a team a victory this year. 

8. Houston – A year after nearly earning a BCS bowl, the Cougars are off to an 0-2 start and no longer appear to be the favorites to win Conference USA’s West Division. Of course, there were some key personnel losses, but new quarterback David Piland had experience and was joined by 12 returning starters. There’s been some turmoil surrounding this team already, as offensive coordinator Mike Nesbitt was fired after the first game. New coach Tony Levine was a questionable hire and has done nothing to ease those concerns.

9. Utah – After finishing 2011 with wins in five out of their last six games, the Utes were picked to be USC’s biggest challenger in the Pac-12 South Division. Utah easily won the opener against Northern Colorado but dropped a 27-20 overtime game against in-state foe Utah State in Week 2. The Utes also lost quarterback Jordan Wynn for the year against the Aggies, only adding to the concern surrounding this team. Although Jon Hays and Travis Wilson could end up being a solid duo at quarterback, Utah does not look like the No. 2 team in the South.

10. FIU – The Golden Panthers haven’t been bad, but this team has a 20-point loss to Duke, who was thoroughly dismantled against Stanford in Week 2. FIU also needed overtime to beat an Akron team that was one of the worst in the nation in 2011. The Golden Panthers are still one of the favorites to win the Sun Belt title, but this team was a trendy upset pick against the Blue Devils in Week 1 and were expected to easily beat the Zips last Saturday.

by Steven Lassan



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<p> College Football's Top 10 Disappointments After Two Weeks</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - 05:39
Path: /college-football/2012-heisman-trophy-voting-post-week-2

Each week, the Athlon editors vote on the most prestigious award in all of college football. An eight-man conglomerate of college football gurus from Athlon Sports voted this week for their top Heisman Trophy candidates. The votes will be tallied and the result will be posted as the Athlon Sports Heisman Watch List every week of the regular season.

Voting: Each first-place vote receives 10 points. A second-place vote receives nine points. So on and so forth with a 10th-place vote receiving one point.

USC's Matt Barkley remains atop our poll, with all but one of our panel  listing Barkley at No. 1 as the Trojans begin conference play this week. The only other near-unanimous pick was Geno Smith even though the West Virginia quarterback did not play last week.

The biggest movers this week were in the next seven spots. The voters in our panel who liked Oregon’s explosive all-purpose player De'Anthony Thomas really liked De'Anthony Thomas. He appeared on six of eight ballots, at No. 3 on each of them. UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin, the nation’s leading rusher, jumped from No. 13 last week to No. 4 after a second 200-yard effort this season. After a game-turning performance against Missouri, Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones became everyone’s favorite defensive candidate, climbing from No. 19 to No. 6. And Kansas State’s Collin Klein, who was not among our top 20 in Week 1, made his season debut at No. 7.

Of the notable players who dropped out of the top 15: Wisconsin’s Montee Ball claimed only one vote at No. 10 after rushing for 61 yards against Oregon State. Injured Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson also dropped from No. 12 to out of the rankings completely.

1. Matt Barkley, QB, USC (seven first-place votes)
Season Stats: 46-68, 559 yds, 10 TD, 1 INT
Barkley’s performance Saturday against Syracuse wasn’t perfect (23 of 30, 187 yards), but the USC quarterback still tied his own school record of six touchdown passes. In a single game, Barkley had as many touchdown passes as Michigan and Miami have touchdowns all season. Only 20 teams have accounted for more offensive touchdowns than Barkley’s 10 touchdowns through the air. This week, Barkley will try to do something he’s never done in his career: Beat Stanford. Next Game: at Stanford

  Name Pos. Team Tot. Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. Matt Barkley QB USC 70/80 7 1 - - - 8/8
2. Geno Smith QB West Virginia 68/80 1 5 - 1 2 8/8
3. De'Anthony Thomas AP Oregon 48/80 - - 6 - - 6/8
4. Johnathan Franklin RB UCLA 42/80 - 1 1 2 1 7/8
5. Le'Veon Bell RB Michigan St. 38/80 - - - 3 1 7/8
6. Jarvis Jones LB Georgia 28/80 - 1 - - 1 7/8
7. Collin Klein QB Kansas State 23/80 - - - 1 1 5/8
8. Marqise Lee WR USC 22/80 - - - - 1 5/8
9. Braxton Miller QB Ohio State 19/80 - - - - 1 5/8
10. Marcus Lattimore RB South Carolina 17/80 - - - - 2 5/8
t11. Tajh Boyd QB Clemson 11/80 - - - - - 3/8
t11. Andre Ellington RB Clemson 11/80 - - - 1 - 2/8
13. A.J. McCarron QB Alabama 10/80 - - 1 - - 3/8
14. Denard Robinson QB Michigan 9/80 - - - - - 3/8
15. Taylor Martinez QB Nebraska 7/80 - - - - - 2/8

Also receiving votes: 16. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia (five votes), T-17. Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee; Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin; Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU (one vote each)

2. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia (one first-place vote)
Season Stats:
32-36, 323 yds, 4 TD, 0 INT, 8 att., 65 rush yds, TD
Smith and West Virginia didn’t play last week, but that did nothing to diminish his standing in the Athlon Heisman poll thanks to his near-perfect performance against Marshall in the opener. West Virginia will face James Madison, ranked sixth in this week’s FCS coaches’ poll, in a neutral site game at FedEx Field. Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said he’s anticipating a “bigger challenge” against James Madison than against Marshall. Whether that’s honesty or a not-so-subtle jab against rival Marshall, we’ll find out Saturday. Next game: James Madison (Landover, Md.)

Who is your Heisman frontrunner? free polls 

3. De’Anthony Thomas, AP, Oregon
Season Stats:
10 att., 166 yds, 3 TD, 8 rec., 81 yds, 2 TD
Oregon and Thomas have yet to play a major conference team, but the all-purpose dynamo continues to grab our Heisman attention. Thomas appeared at No. 3 on six of eight Athlon ballots. So far, the sophomore has touched the ball 18 times on offense, resulting in five touchdowns. With touchdown runs of 51, 39 and 33 yards this season, Thomas is averaging 13.7 yards each time he touches the ball on offense. Expect that to continue with a warm-up game this week before facing newly-ranked Arizona on Sept. 22. Next game: Tennessee Tech

4. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
Season Stats:
41 att., 431 yds, 3 TD, 4 rec., 63 yds, 1 TD
The Bruins senior may be the biggest beneficiary of Jim L. Mora’s arrival at UCLA. Was Franklin’s 214-yard performance in the opener a product of weak competition (Rice)? The answer is no. Franklin followed his second career 200-yard game with his third against Nebraska in Week 2. Against Nebraska, Franklin rushed for 217 yards on 26 carries in addition to catching a fourth-quarter touchdown pass that ended up being the difference in the game. Next game: Houston

5. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State
Season Stats:
62 att., 280 yds, 4 TD, 7 rec., 55 yds
A week after carrying 44 times against Boise State, Bell got a bit of rest against Central Michigan, relatively speaking. Bell carried only 18 times for 70 yards with two touchdowns against the Chippewas. The Spartans didn’t need a gladiator effort in the 41-7 rout, but they may put more on his shoulders this week. Next game: Notre Dame

6. Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
Season Stats:
17 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, INT, 2 forced fumbles, 2 pass breakups
Jones was a dominant presence for nearly the entire game against Missouri, but two key plays turned close game into a Georgia blowout. Jones returned an interception 21 yards to Missouri’s 1-yard line to set up a touchdown. He later sacked quarterback James Franklin, forcing a fumble that set up the Bulldogs’ final touchdown in the 41-20 win. Next game: FAU

7. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Season Stats:
28-39, 379 yds, 3 TD, INT, 25 att., 125 yds, 3 TD
Klein had one of the best passing days of his career, throwing for 210 yards and a touchdown on only 9 of 11 completions. Of course, the ground game remained Klein’s calling card with 71 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries. Klein has accounted for either a passing or rushing touchdown in 15 consecutive games and has 30 rushing TDs since the start of the 2011 season.  Next game: North Texas

8. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Season Stats:
21 rec., 263 yds, 4 TD, 1 att., 23 yds, 4 KOR, 140 yds, TD
Lee’s 66 receiving yards against Syracuse was his lowest total since picking up 36 yards against Notre Dame on Oct. 22. Yet Lee still managed to catch three touchdown passes, giving him 13 total touchdowns in his last seven games. Lee also caught 11 passes, giving him at least 10 receptions in his last three games. Next game: at Stanford

9. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Season Stats:
32-48, 362 yds, 3 TD, INT, 44 att., 302 yds, 4 TD
For a time last season, Ohio State didn’t trust Miller to throw the ball more than 10 times in a game. That’s hard to believe now as Miller has thrown at least 23 passes in his last four games dating back to the Michigan game last year. And that’s the second-most interesting part of his game right now: Miller is the fourth-leading rusher in the country, topping 140 yards in each game this season. Next game: Cal

10. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Season Stats:
36 att., 150 yds, 3 TD
South Carolina didn’t need an other-worldly effort out of Lattimore to defeat East Carolina. The junior rushed for 40 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Next game: UAB

T-11. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Season Stats:
43-57, 437 yds, 4 TD, INT, 22 att., 70 yds

T-11. Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson
Season Stats:
38 att., 269 yds, 2 TD

13. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Season Stats:
25-40, 418 yds, 6 TD, 0 INT

14. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
Season Stats:
25-51, 408 yds, 3 TD, 3 INT, 30 att., 245 yds, 3 TD

15. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska
Season Stats:
43-65, 533 yds, 5 TD, INT, 19 att., 122 yds, TD

by David Fox


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<p> 2012 Heisman Trophy Voting: Post-Week 2</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - 05:33
Path: /nascar/nascar-horsepower-rankings-13

1. Denny Hamlin   Hamlin slips ahead of Jimmie Johnson thanks to having the strongest car for a third consecutive week (despite the fact he didn’t win). He also gets a hat tip for those four regular season victories. Last week: 2

2. Jimmie Johnson  Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus are bringing the car that they dominated and won with at Dover and Indianapolis to Chicago. My thought is it goes three-for-three this season. You heard it here first. Last week: 1

3. Brad Keselowski  Drove to a quiet seventh at Richmond, his ninth top-10 showing in the last 10 races. This kid is for real, people, and his time is now. Last week: 3

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Give him props for the consistency throughout the regular season. Now the question becomes whether this team and its driver can deliver in crunch time or get passed by the heavy-hitters. Last week: 4

5. Jeff Gordon  Gets a huge bump up the rankings this week after being Mr. Clutch the last three weeks, with finishes of third, second and second. Now we’ll see if they have any gas left in the tank. Last week: 10

6. Clint Bowyer  One win per season is impressive and all, but multiple victories rachet a team and its driver up the “keep an eye on” list. Bowyer and the 15 bunch are there — and at just the right time. Last week: 8

7. Greg Biffle  Lest we forget about the “Regular Season Champion” — that is, if there were one. When is NASCAR going to at least acknowledge that achievement? At the least, an “Atta boy!” would do. Last week: 5

8. Matt Kenseth  Kenseth’s standing takes a hit based more on what others have done as opposed to the performance of his No. 17 team. That said, there are still questions how this team will do in the Chase. Last week: 7

9. Kasey Kahne  Many are looking at Kahne as a nice darkhorse Chase pick. It’s hard to argue with those types, especially when you consider that his two wins this year have come on Chase tracks (Charlotte, Loudon). Last week: 9

<p> As NASCAR's regular season comes to a close, Denny Hamlin edges by Jimmie Johnson to take the top spot in Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings.</p>
Post date: Monday, September 10, 2012 - 17:54
Path: /mlb/2012-major-league-baseball-power-rankings-sept-10

Each week during the season Athlon Sports looks at the best and worst baseball teams and players in the league. Here's our MLB Power Rankings and Players of the Week for September 10, 2012.

 1. Nationals — Pacing majors with 58 runs, 24 homers in Sept.

 2. Reds — Leadoff hitters batting just .207, by far worst in majors.

 3. Rangers — Lead down to 3.5 games with seven left with Oakland.

 4. Braves — Kris Medlen unbeatable for Atlanta.

 5. Giants — Starters have 2.02 ERA in 15 games vs. Dodgers.

 6. Yankees — Tough stretch leaves Yanks in battle for division title.

 7. A’s — Green and Gold just keeps winning; 36-17 in second half.

 8. Orioles — Will miss Nick Markakis, who has broken hand.

 9. Rays — Pitchers have a 0.99 WHIP since the break.

10. Angels — 10 blown saves in second half have impeded progress.

11. Cardinals — Jaime Garcia may be Redbirds’ new ace.

12. Dodgers — Mark and A.J. Ellis batting .345 in September.

13. White Sox — Good to have center fielder Alejandro de Aza back in lineup.

14. Tigers — Miguel Cabrera has outside shot at triple crown.

15. Pirates — 63-56 when Neil Walker starts, 9-11 when he doesn’t.

16. Diamondbacks — Winning mark vs. West, below .500 vs. East and Central.

17. Phillies — Haven’t been above .500 since June 1, but getting close.

18. Brewers — Ryan Braun making strong case for another MVP.

19. Mariners — Best last-place team in the majors.

20. Padres — Chase Headley has 58 RBIs in last 52 games.

21. Mets — Only NL team with worse record since the break is Houston.

22. Royals — Batting respectable .277 in 26 games vs. White Sox and Tigers.

23. Blue Jays — Just 14-26 against top three team in AL East.

24. Marlins — 15-13 vs. three NL division leaders.

25. Red Sox — Only 14 extra-base hits in eight September games.

26. Twins — Joe Mauer batting .385 with two outs and RISP.

27. Indians — Fewest homers in majors in second half.

28. Rockies — ERA has dropped from 5.26 in first half to 4.77 after break.

29. Cubs — Alfonso Soriano has 58 extra-base hits and 94 RBIs.

30. Astros — Fewest runs scored, most allowed in NL since the break.



AL Player of the Week

B.J. Upton, Tampa Bay—The streaky center fielder has finally given the Rays some pop this season. Last week he had five home runs and batted .400 against division leaders New York and Texas as Tampa Bay battles for the final wild card spot. Upton scored seven times and was successful on all three stolen base attempts.


AL Pitcher of the Week

James Shields, Tampa Bay—With every game for the Rays now essentially a must-win, Shields gave the club two dynamite starts last week in wins over the Yankees and Rangers. In 17 innings, Shields gave up just seven hits, allowed three walks and whiffed 13.


NL Player of the Week

Chase Headley, San Diego—The Padres’ third baseman has taken over the National League lead in RBIs. Last week he began with four consecutive two-hit games as the Padres took two of three from both the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. He batted .321 and led the majors with 13 RBIs. He also homered four times.


NL Pitcher of the Week

Kris Medlen, Atlanta—The Braves’ young righthander finally saw his 40.2-inning scoreless streak come to an end, but he defeated the Mets anyway, allowing just two earned runs over six innings. The Braves have won Medlen’s last nine starts. For the week he allowed nine hits, two walks and struck out 15 in 15 innings.

<p> A look at the best and worst baseball teams in the league.</p>
Post date: Monday, September 10, 2012 - 16:56
All taxonomy terms: TCU Horned Frogs, Big 12, News
Path: /news/tcu-has-game-ball-2012-opener-delivered-jetpack

TCU opened the 2012 season in dramatic fashion. The Horned Frogs opened a renovated Amon G. Carter Stadium with an easy 56-0 win over Grambling. There's a lot of momentum around the program this season, especially with a move to the Big 12. 

However, Saturday's win over Grambling might not have been the most exciting thing the fans got to watch. Before kickoff, the game ball was delivered via jetpack.

That's right - a jetpack.

Rocketman flies into the stadium and lands right around midfield to deliver the gameball for a historic 2012 season at TCU.

<p> TCU Has Game Ball for 2012 Opener Delivered by Jetpack</p>
Post date: Monday, September 10, 2012 - 15:09
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/arkansas-razorbacks-fan-makes-worst-video-ever

We're not sure which is worse: the Arkansas Razorbacks losing to Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday night or this video made by a very unique Hogs fan. Enjoy.

<p> Arkansas Razorbacks Fan Makes Worst Video Ever</p>
Post date: Monday, September 10, 2012 - 13:03
All taxonomy terms: AFC North, Cleveland Browns, News
Path: /news/trent-richardson-delivers-punishing-hit-philadelphias-kurt-coleman

Cleveland running back Trent Richardson wasn't expected to find much running room against Philadelphia in Week 1. The rookie rushed for 39 yards on 19 attempts and caught one pass for five years. 

Although Richardson had a lackluster statistical performance, he provided one of the weekend's top highlights by leveling Philadelphia safety Kurt Coleman. Richardson's punishing hit forces Coleman's helmet off, which isn't a bad way to announce your arrival in the NFL.

<p> Trent Richardson Delivers Punishing Hit to Philadelphia's Kurt Coleman</p>
Post date: Monday, September 10, 2012 - 10:33
All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /news/brandon-weeden-gets-trapped-under-american-flag-pregame-warmups

Brandon Weeden had a performance to forget in his first start. The rookie quarterback completed just 12 of 35 throws for 118 yards and four interceptions.

However, his bad day started in pregame warmups, as he was trapped under the American flag. Weeden eventually emerged from underneath the flag, but it was an embarrassing moment for the rookie quarterback from Oklahoma State.

<p> Brandon Weeden Gets Trapped Under American Flag In Pregame Warmups</p>
Post date: Monday, September 10, 2012 - 09:56
All taxonomy terms: NFL, MLB
Path: /nfl/greatest-two-sport-athletes-all-time

Some of the world's greatest athletes weren't just one-sport players; instead, they excelled in two (and sometimes in several). Of course, some athletes probably should have stuck with their main sport. Here's a look at the top 30 two-sport athletes of all time, ranked in order of their second best sport.

1. Jim Thorpe, track (Best sport: football)

One the all-time great athletes, Thorpe is a member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, and has been immortalized via the Jim Thorpe Award — given annually to the top defensive back in college football. But Thorpe was also a gold medalist in both the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics.

2. Jim Brown, lacrosse (Best sport: football)

Arguably the greatest running back in history, Brown is a member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame. The 6’2”, 230-pounder is a member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame and is considered by many to be the best athlete to ever play the sport.

3. Bob Hayes, football (Best sport: track)

“Bullet Bob” Hayes won the fastest man in the world, winning gold medals in the 100 meters and 4x100 meters at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Hayes then strapped on a helmet for the Dallas Cowboys, winning Super Bowl VI and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

4. Bo Jackson, baseball (Best sport: football)

Only Bo knows what might have been. The 1985 Heisman Trophy winner was a Pro Bowl running back for the L.A. Raiders and an All-Star outfielder for the Kansas City Royals — hitting 32 HRs and 105 RBIs in just 135 games in 1989 — before a hip injury derailed the out-of-this-world athlete.

5. Charlie Ward, football (Best sport: basketball)

Sure, Ward played 11 seasons in the NBA — starting at point guard for the New York Knicks’ Eastern Conference champs in 1999. But most know him as a Heisman Trophy winner and national champion quarterback at Florida State in 1993.

6. Babe Didrikson Zaharias, track (Best sport: golf)

A 10-time LPGA major champion and member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Mildred Ella — better known as “Babe” — won gold medals in the 80-meter hurdles and javelin throw as well as a silver medal in the high jump at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.

7. Duke Kahanamoku, surfing (Best sport: swimming)

The Big Kahuna won three Olympic medals in the 100-meter freestyle — taking gold at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics and 1920 Antwerp Olympics, and silver at the 1924 Paris Olympics — as well as a gold (1920) and silver (1912) in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay. But Mr. Hawaii was also the “Father of Surfing,” popularizing the longboard en route to becoming a member of the Surfing, Swimming and U.S. Olympic Halls of Fame.

8. Deion Sanders, baseball (Best sport: football)

A member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, Prime Time is considered the greatest cornerback in NFL history. A two-time Super Bowl champion, Sanders also played with the Atlanta Braves in the 1992 World Series and played parts of nine lightning-fast seasons in MLB.

9. Gene Conley, basketball (Best sport: baseball)

A four-time MLB All-Star and 1957 World Series champion with the Milwaukee Braves, the 6’8”, 225-pound Conley also won three NBA championships with the Boston Celtics — becoming the only athlete in history to win world titles in two of the big four pro leagues.

10. Danny Ainge, baseball (Best sport: basketball)

The Wooden Award winner at BYU, Ainge won two NBA championships with the Celtics and was an All-Star in 1988. He also had a cup of coffee with the Toronto Blue Jays, playing three seasons from 1979-81.

11. Brian Jordan, football (Best sport: baseball)

A one-time MLB All-Star who played in the bigs for 15 years, Jordan played three seasons (1989-91) as a safety in the NFL before making his debut in The Show in 1992.

12. Jackie Robinson, track (Best sport: baseball)

The 1949 NL MVP and 1955 World Series champ is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame and a civil rights pioneer. But he was also the 1940 NCAA Men’s Outdoor Long Jump champion at UCLA.

13. Jonathan Ogden, shot put (Best sport: football)

The 6’9”, 345-pound Ogden was the 1996 NCAA Men’s Indoor Shot Put champion at UCLA, before becoming an 11-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl XXXV champion left tackle with the Baltimore Ravens.

14. Jeff Samardzija, football (Best sport: baseball)

The Shark was an All-American and Biletnikoff Award finalist, finishing his Notre Dame football career as the Irish’s all-time leading receiver prior to becoming a right-handed pitcher for the Chicago Cubs.

15. Darin Erstad, football (Best sport: baseball)

The 1995 Golden Spikes Award winner was also the starting punter on Nebraska’s 1994 national championship football team before going on to play 14 seasons in MLB.

16. Joe Mauer, football (Best sport: baseball)

Before Mauer was the 2009 AL MVP and three-time batting champion for the Minnesota Twins, the 6’5” athlete with a cannon for a right arm was USA Today’s High School Player of the Year as a quarterback.

17. Dave Winfield, basketball (Best sport: baseball)

A 22-year MLB veteran and member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Winfield played college basketball at the University of Minnesota — where he helped lead the Golden Gophers to the 1972 Big Ten title.

18. Kenny Lofton, basketball (Best sport: baseball)

A six-time All-Star, five-time stolen base champ and four-time Gold Glove center fielder, Lofton’s first love was basketball. He played point guard for the University of Arizona, making the Final Four in 1988.

19. Tony Gwynn, basketball (Best sport: baseball)

A first-ballot member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Gwynn was a 15-time All-Star and eight-time batting champ with a career .338 batting average and 3,141 hits. But Gwynn was also a solid point guard, setting San Diego State records for assists in a season and career.

20. Marion Jones, basketball (Best sport: track)

Once a golden girl, Jones’ reputation has since been tarnished by PED use and jail time. Before the fall, Jones won three gold and two bronze medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics after a standout hoops career at the University of North Carolina — where she was a member of the 1994 NCAA champion Tar Heels.

21. Antonio Gates, basketball (Best sport: football)

Led Kent State to its first MAC championship and a trip to the Elite Eight in the 2002 NCAA Tournament before becoming an eight-time Pro Bowl tight end for the San Diego Chargers.

22. Jimmy Graham, basketball (Best sport: football)

Played four years of basketball at the University of Miami but just one season of football at The U. No big deal, the 6’6”, 260-pound power forward has evolved into one of the NFL’s best tight ends, with 1,310 yards and 11 TDs for the New Orleans Saints in 2011.

23. Tony Gonzalez, basketball (Best sport: football)

Gonzalez round-balled at Cal-Berkeley before becoming a 12-time Pro Bowl tight end with 1,149 catches, 13,338 yards and 95 TDs over 15 seasons (playing 238-of-240 games) for the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons.

24. Julius Peppers, basketball (Best sport: football)

The pass-rusher was a glass-crasher at University of North Carolina, where he came off the bench for the Tar Heels’ 2000 Final Four squad.

25. Walter Ray Williams Jr., horseshoes (Best sport: bowling)

The seven-time PBA Player of the Year also owns six Men’s World Horseshoe Pitching titles.

26. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, football (Best sport: wrestling)

The WWF wrestler was a member of the University of Miami’s 1991 national championship team, where he played with future NFL stars like Warren Sapp.

27. Ed “Too Tall” Jones, boxing (Best sport: football)

A three-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman and Super Bowl XII champion, the 6’9” Jones had a scary 88-inch reach as a boxer — going 6–0 with five KOs in 1979.

28. Herschel Walker, mixed martial arts / bobsled (Best sport: football)

Known for always being in peak condition, Walker started his MMA career as a 48-year-old. The fifth-degree Taekwondo black belt is 2–0 with two TKOs on punches. Years before that he participated in the two-man bobsled competition at the 1992 Winter Olympics, finishing seventh. Oh yeah, Walker, who played several years in the NFL, also won the 1982 Heisman Trophy at Georgia and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

29. Scott Burrell, baseball (Best sport: basketball)

The only athlete selected in the first round of two of the big four sports’ drafts — Burrell went No. 20 overall to the Charlotte Hornets in the 1993 NBA Draft and No. 26 overall to the Seattle Mariners in the 1989 MLB Draft.

30. Michael Jordan, baseball (Best sport: basketball)

His Airness is undeniably the greatest basketball player of all-time and arguably the greatest athlete ever. However, in 127 games playing for the Chicago White Sox’s Double-A affiliate Birmingham Barons, Air Jordan hit just .202 with three HRs, 51 RBIs and 30 stolen bases.

<p> The top 30 two-sport athletes in history — including Jim Thorpe, Jim Brown, Bob Hayes, Bo Jackson, Charlie Ward, Deion Sanders and Michael Jordan — ranked in order of their second-best sport.</p>
Post date: Monday, September 10, 2012 - 08:10