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Penn State is banned from postseason play in 2013, but optimism is still running high in Happy Valley.

Bill O’Brien wasn’t lured away from Penn State by the NFL, and the second-year coach is clearly proved he ranks among the Big Ten’s best coaches after going 8-4 in 2012.

The Nittany Lions suffered some key personnel losses, including the departure of linebacker Michael Mauti, quarterback Matt McGloin and defensive tackle Jordan Hill.

Despite the departure of a handful of key players, Penn State returns running back Zach Zwinak and receiver Allen Robinson, and incoming freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg could be a future star.

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

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

How Many Games Will Penn State Win in 2013?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Penn State can get to seven wins, but it won’t be easy. I was skeptical about Penn State even fielding a winning team last season, but Bill O’Brien earned his coach of the year nods thanks to his transformation of the passing game. Quarterback is still a question, but player development has come a long way. The defense will be the major concern, particularly from a leadership standpoint. Guys like Michael Mauti, Gerald Hodges and Jordan Hill held this group together, and now they’re gone. Then throw in dismal special teams play. Still, the schedule is manageable. We can probably count on games against Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin as losses and games against Eastern Michigan, Kent State and Illinois as wins, but the rest is up for grabs. The worst of the sanctions is yet to come, so this may be the most competitive Penn State team we see for a couple of years.
 

Kevin McGuire, No2MinuteWarning.com and NittanyLionsDen.com, (@KevinonCFB)
Despite some relative uncertainty surrounding the key position of quarterback to start the 2013 season, Penn State should be able to manage to get through their non-conference portion with a winning record. Games against Eastern Michigan and Kent State at home should be marked down as wins and a home game against Central Florida should also be a possible win. The Syracuse game to open the year in MetLife Stadium, to me, is a toss up for now but a 4-0 start to the year is certainly not out of the question.

When I look at the schedule now I see three games I feel are likely losses: Michigan, at Ohio State and Nebraska. The road game at Wisconsin to end the year I would mark as a loss but who knows how things will end up at the end of the year.

Right now I think eight wins is the likely ceiling for Penn State, but seven wins may be more likely unless Bill O'Brien finds a way to work some more magic with the offense.


Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
There are serious issues at quarterback and with leadership on defense — at linebacker, in particular — but this Penn State roster is in much better shape than most fans would think considering what the Nittany Lions have dealt with over the last 18 months. The skill positions on offense are stacked and both lines of scrimmage should be a strength of the team overall. And frankly, the schedule isn't all that daunting. A 4-0 record in the four non-conference games (three at home, one nuetral) is all but guaranteed — Syracuse, Eastern Michigan, UCF and Kent State — and the bye weeks set up nicely before tough stretches of the season. Lets assume that road trips to Ohio State and Wisconsin and home games against Michigan and Nebraska are losses, that leaves extremely winnable games with Indiana, Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota. A 4-4 conference record would give Penn State another eight-win season under miracle worker Bill O'Brien — which would have to be considered an extremely successful campaign. 
 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Even though Penn State has some significant personnel losses, I think eight wins is a reasonable goal for 2013. Finding a new quarterback is the top priority for Bill O’Brien, but considering his work with Matt McGloin, he should be able to turn Steven Bench, Tyler Ferguson or Christian Hackenberg into a reliable starter. Breaking in a new quarterback is never easy, but the Nittany Lions have good skill players, and the offensive line returns three starters. The defense has six starters returning, including rising star defensive end Deion Barnes. The biggest question mark on defense will be replacing the leadership and production from linebackers Michael Mauti, Gerald Hodges and defensive tackle Jordan Hill, especially since all three players held the team together after the sanctions were announced.

While Penn State is far from a perfect team, the schedule works in its favor. Syracuse, Eastern Michigan and Kent State should be three guaranteed wins in non-conference play. UCF is a dangerous opponent, but Penn State should win that game to start 4-0. In Big Ten games, the Nittany Lions don’t have to play Northwestern or Michigan State and host Michigan and Nebraska in crossover play. Bill O’Brien’s team travels at Ohio State and Wisconsin – two games it was likely to lose to this season regardless of where it was played. Considering Purdue, Illinois, Minnesota and Indiana are all winnable games, matching last season’s 8-4 record seems very likely for Penn State.
 

Mark Ross (@AthlonSports)
No one predicted that Bill O'Brien would lead Penn State to eight wins last season, let alone an impressive 6-2 showing in Big Ten play. Not only was O'Brien in his first season as a head coach on any level, he also was tasked with picking up the pieces in the wake of the worst scandal in NCAA history.

Even though the memory and the damage done by the scandal will never go away, one could argue that O'Brien has just as difficult a task facing him as it relates to the football field this season. O'Brien lost several key pieces from last season's senior-laden team and will have break in a new quarterback this fall. The offense could struggle to repeat last season's production, which puts more pressure on a defense that is replacing five starters, including two each on the line and among the linebackers.

That said, I am a firm believer in O'Brien and what he is building at Penn State, especially after what he accomplished last season. Thanks to a relatively soft non-conference schedule, I think the defense will be able to carry the team early which will allow the offense to develop and get better as the season progresses. In the end, call me optimistic, but I like the Nittany Lions to finish no worse than 7-5 overall and .500 in the conference.


Nathan Rush (@AthlonSports)
The over-under for Penn State this season is eight wins. On paper, losses to Michigan, at Ohio State, Nebraska and at Wisconsin are good bets. Make no mistake, these aren't Joe Paterno's national title-contending Nittany Lions of yesteryear. Even with players' names on the backs of the old school blue and white jerseys, it's hard to recognize the new Penn State of this post-Paterno era. But the Bill O'Brien brand appears to be growing in popularity following an overachieving 8–4 record (6–2 in Big Ten) in his debut season and a solid recruiting haul that includes early enrollee 5-star quarterback Christian Hackenberg. The "Grand Experiment Redux" has not become the Patriots of Pennsylvania juggernaut envisioned by O'Brien, who was Tom Brady's play-caller prior to PSU. But another eight-win season should help bring a little light to Happy Valley as it continues to recover from the dark days of the Jerry Sandusky scandal — which will prevent Penn State from playing in a bowl game this season.


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Ranking the Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

College Football's Top 25 Pre-Spring Heisman Contenders

Teaser:
<p> How Many Games Will Penn State Win in 2013?</p>
Post date: Friday, April 19, 2013 - 07:45
Path: /college-football/ranking-secs-quarterbacks-2013
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The SEC is one of college football’s top conferences for quarterback play in 2013.

Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel clearly ranks as the No. 1 quarterback for this season, as the sophomore hopes to repeat as a Heisman Trophy winner, while leading the Aggies to a SEC West title. Alabama’s AJ McCarron ranks as the No. 2 quarterback, with Georgia’s Aaron Murray not too far behind.

South Carolina’s Connor Shaw ranks as the No. 4 starting quarterback but is expected to share time with Dylan Thompson this fall.

Two quarterbacks that could rise significantly in this ranking in 2013 will be LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Florida’s Jeff Driskel. With both passers in their second year as a starter, improvement from 2012 should be expected.

College football’s 2013 season is still months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about some of the top players in the nation. With spring practice coming to a close around the nation, Athlon will rank the top quarterbacks in each conference. One important note: This is just a ranking of starters and backups weren’t included for this article. Also, some projection for how we think quarterbacks are going to play for 2013 factored into this ranking.

Ranking the SEC Starting Quarterbacks for 2013

1. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (SO)
Manziel’s 2012 season is one of the best years by a freshman in college football history. In 13 games, Manziel threw for 3,706 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushed for 1,410 yards and 21 scores. He tossed only nine picks and won the Heisman Trophy after leading Texas A&M to a 10-2 regular-season mark. Repeating his numbers from last season will be difficult, as the Aggies won’t have Kliff Kingsbury calling the plays and left tackle Luke Joeckel departed early for the NFL. Also, SEC defenses have a full offseason to study Manziel, so the road figures to be tougher for the sophomore in 2013. However, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner is still in for a big season and should be a preseason first-team All-American.
 

2. AJ McCarron, Alabama (SR)
McCarron isn’t going to post huge numbers like Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, but the senior is one of college football’s top quarterbacks and has a chance to finish his career as one of the most prolific of the BCS era. McCarron is coming off his best year under center, throwing for 2,933 yards and 30 scores in 2012. For his career, McCarron has tossed only eight interceptions in 690 attempts and has two national championships as Alabama’s No. 1 quarterback. Alabama has one of the SEC’s top receiving corps and despite the loss of three key offensive line starters, McCarron could improve on his 2012 totals.
 

3. Aaron Murray, Georgia (SR)
There is only one thing left unfinished on Murray’s pristine college resume: He needs to cap a season with a win in Atlanta to cement his legacy as one of the top SEC quarterbacks of all-time. He already holds the Georgia school record for passing efficiency after finishing second in the nation a year ago with a 174.82 rating, while his 3,893 yards and 36 touchdowns were UGA benchmarks as well. The 6-foot, 210-pound gunslinger needs less than 1,500 yards and just 19 passing scores, both of which are obviously well within reach, to set both SEC all-time records. The star from powerhouse Tampa (Fla.) Plant has started every one of his possible 41 career games, leading the Dawgs to a 22-6 record and two East Division titles over the last two seasons. A win in the SEC Championship game is all that Murray has left to accomplish.
 

4. Connor Shaw, South Carolina (SR)
Shaw won’t wow anyone with elite passing talent or overall accuracy, but he brings so much more to the offense than just throwing the football. The Flowery Branch (Ga.) High senior-to-be boasts a 17-3 record as a starter and brings an unquestioned level of toughness to the huddle. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder also has an uncanny ability to extend plays with his legs. However, this toughness and inclination to run the ball also has led to consistent injury trouble for the Gamecocks quarterback. He has missed five games over the last two seasons and was absent from spring football after offseason foot surgery. Backup Dylan Thompson is a more polished passer and Steve Spurrier has made it clear that both will play this fall, but Shaw’s leadership and toughness makes him the starter in Columbia. An underrated starter at that.


5. Tyler Russell, Mississippi State (SR)
In the first half of the season, Russell looked like an All-SEC quarterback. Through the first seven games, Russell threw 15 touchdowns and just one interception. However, in the next seven contests, he managed only nine scores and tossed nine interceptions. So where is Russell? Probably somewhere in the middle. The senior is clearly capable of playing better than he did at the end of last season. However, Russell is losing some of his best receivers and struggled to produce against the SEC West’s best teams. If Russell can regain his early 2012 form, he should be one of the SEC’s top-five quarterbacks this fall.

Related Content: Ole Miss or Mississippi State: Who Will Have More Wins in 2013?


6. Bo Wallace, Ole Miss (JR)
Wallace was one of the SEC’s top newcomers last year, throwing for 2,994 yards and 22 touchdowns, along with 390 rushing yards and eight scores. The Tennessee native tossed eight touchdowns over the final two games and threw for 310 yards in a narrow loss to LSU in mid-November. After a solid debut, the Ole Miss fan base is holding its breath about Wallace for 2013. The 6-foot-4 passer had shoulder surgery after the BBVA Compass Bowl but is expected to return by the season opener. However, shoulder surgeries – as evidenced by Missouri’s James Franklin – aren’t a guaranteed return to full health immediately. If Wallace does return to 100 percent, he should easily improve on last season’s numbers.
 

7. Zach Mettenberger, LSU (SR)
Big things were expected of Mettenberger in his first season as LSU’s No. 1 quarterback, but he fell short of those expectations. In 13 starts, he threw for 2,609 yards and 12 touchdowns and tossed seven picks. Mettenberger had a solid performance against Alabama, torching the Crimson Tide for 298 yards and one score. However, he had only two other contests of more than 250 passing yards and finished the year on a down note with just 120 yards against Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Mettenberger has a new coordinator in former NFL coach Cam Cameron and another offseason should help the Georgia native get more comfortable with his supporting cast. Mettenberger has room to improve and could rise in these rankings if he and Cameron can get on the same page.
 

8. Jeff Driskel, Florida (JR)
The Oviedo (Fla.) Hagerty prospect was the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the nation coming out of high school in 2011. He saw action in just five games as a freshman when John Brantley was injured and he was clearly out over his skis. But as a sophomore, the burly 6-foot-4, 240-pounder settled in as the starter and began to control the offense. Driskel is entering his third season on campus and his second full season as the unquestioned starter and it should be his best. He brings an elite level of athleticism — his 177 yards rushing against Vanderbilt is a school record for a quarterback — and is at his best on the run, out of the pocket and improvising. So if he can learn to play more consistent and efficient football within the confines of the designed offense, he could blossom into one of the SEC’s best quarterbacks.
 

9. James Franklin, Missouri (SR)
A highly-touted dual-threat prospect from Corinth (Texas) Lake Dallas, Franklin had a breakout 2011 campaign by throwing for 2,865 yards, rushing for 981 yards and accounting for 36 touchdowns. So expectations were sky high heading into 2012 before a serious shoulder injury last spring slowed his development. He also was limited by a balky knee last season. Transitioning into the physical and extremely competitive SEC is tough enough when fully healthy, so Franklin struggled mightily in his second season as the starter. He rushed for 859 fewer yards, threw for 1,303 fewer yards and produced 26 fewer touchdowns. He has the talent and the system to be productive but needs to stay healthy if he wants to get Mizzou back to the postseason as an SEC program. Franklin will be pushed by Maty Mauk for playing time in the fall.
 

10. Austyn Carta-Samuels, Vanderbilt (SR)
The senior-to-be from San Jose (Calif.) Bellarmine Prep was a star at Wyoming before transferring to Vandy. He earned Mountain West Freshman of the Year honors in 2009 after a dynamic first season in Laramie. He produced more than 2,000 yards of total offense as a sophomore before deciding he needed a change of scenery. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound athlete — he has 786 career rushing yards — lost the battle to start to Jordan Rodgers a year ago but is the guy for the Commodores in 2013. He has the ability to extend plays with his legs and will have elite talent around him at running back and wide receiver to lean on. Carta-Samuels should be capable of leading the Dores to an unprecedented third straight bowl game. If he struggles, redshirt freshman Patton Robinette will get a chance to lead the offense.
 

11. Jalen Whitlow, Kentucky (SO)
Four different Wildcats attempted at least 30 passes a year ago, but Whitlow (161) led the team. The wide spread of playing time portrays the struggles with productivity and injuries at the quarterback position for Kentucky a year ago. Enter new head coach Mark Stoops. The battle will rage deep into the summer but the 6-foot-2, 210-pound dual-threat option appears to be the early front-runner over fellow sophomores Maxwell Smith and Patrick Towles. Whitlow brings an athletic dimension to the spread offense that new playcaller Neal Brown is looking for — see his 206 yards rushing and three touchdowns in seven starts a year ago — and he showcased his skills by dominating the heavily attended spring game in Lexington. The Prattville (Ala.) High prospect has some sneaky upside if he can hold on to the starting job.
 

12. Justin Worley, Tennessee (JR)
Sitting behind the brittle Tyler Bray the last two seasons gave Worley a leg up in the 2013 race for Tennessee’s starting quarterback job. He got work in three games as a freshman, throwing for 604 yards on 87 attempts, and saw time in three more games as a sophomore. This small bit of experience gives the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Rock Hill (S.C.) Northwestern product the inside track on Nathan Peterman and incoming four-star freshman Joshua Dobbs. The pro-style passer has a solid arm and big frame but it remains to be seen exactly who new coach Butch Jones is leaning towards. This position battle might run well past the season opener unless Worley proves he has developed in an SEC starter.


13. Brandon Allen, Arkansas (SO)
With Tyler Wilson expiring his eligibility, the Razorbacks are expected to hand the keys to the offense to Allen. The sophomore made one start last season (Alabama), throwing for 60 yards on 10 completions. The Arkansas native finished 2012 with 186 passing yards and three interceptions on 21 completions. Considering all that transpired with the Razorbacks last season, Allen shouldn’t be judged too much on his numbers from 2012. The 6-foot-3 quarterback was a four-star prospect coming out of high school by Rivals.com and has the size and skill-set to be a good fit in new coordinator Jim Chaney’s offense. Allen held an edge over Brandon Mitchell in spring ball and should take the first snap for Arkansas in 2013.
 

14. Kiehl Frazier, Auburn (JR)
Auburn’s offense was simply a disaster last season. The Tigers averaged 18.7 points a game and ranked 112th nationally in passing offense. A big reason for the sluggish offense was the departure of Gus Malzahn to Arkansas State at the end of 2011, which prompted Gene Chizik to hire Scot Loeffler as the team’s new coordinator. Loeffler implemented a pro-style attack, which didn’t mesh with Auburn’s personnel. Frazier and backup Jonathan Wallace are the biggest beneficiaries of Malzahn’s return to The Plains, as both quarterbacks are a better fit for the spread. Frazier finished 2012 with 753 passing yards and two touchdowns, along with eight interceptions. The junior has the most experience of any quarterback on the roster, which should give him the edge to start in the season opener.

 

by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)


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

Teaser:
<p> Ranking the SEC's Quarterbacks for 2013</p>
Post date: Friday, April 19, 2013 - 07:35
Path: /nascar/nascars-most-memorable-driver-punishments
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Brad Keselowski and Paul Wolfe traveled to The White House recently, as part of the recognition for winning the 2012 Sprint Cup championship. As it is, it might be the last time Keselowski and Wolfe do much celebrating for a while. NASCAR found the rear end housings in both the No. 2 and No. 22 Penske Fords to be “not within the spirit of the rules” – whatever that means. Actually, what it really means is both Keselowski and Joey Logano are docked 25 points and will be without their crew chiefs (each fined $100,000), car chiefs and team manager for the next six weeks – pending their appeal. While crew chiefs bear the brunt of being put across NASCAR’s knee, drivers are not immune as well. Let’s take a look at the 10 most memorable NASCAR driver punishments.

10. Dale Earnhardt Sr. – Coca-Cola 600 1993 – Held 1 lap for rough driving
There was a time when even “The Intimidator” got a little too rowdy for NASCAR’s liking. As this clip shows, Earnhardt got a little close to Greg Sacks on the 1993 Coca-Cola 600, causing him to spin off Turn 4. Earnhardt was held one lap for rough driving, much to the chagrin of an animated Richard Childress. Check out the tint job on that No. 3 car. Just what does Lumina mean anyway? Loosely translated, it means 1993 Champion and eventual winner of the Coke 600 despite spotting the field a lap. For Earnhardt, this penalty wasn’t so much a punishment as it was a slap on wrist.
 

9. Kyle Busch – AAA 500 – Held 3 laps for speeding on pit road/unsportsmanlike conduct
Kyle Busch and the No. 18 team put a hurtin’ on ’em last Saturday night at Texas, but it was a different story during the 2010 Chase. Recovering from a spin in the AAA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, Busch was penalized a lap for speeding for what NASCAR took as him keeping from going to go a lap down. After initially refusing to come in, then going Walter Sobchak and invoking Constitutional rights, Kyle gave the official working his pit double No. 1’s — and earned himself an additional two laps in the Hole. Earmuffs …
 

8. Greg Biffle – 1999 Truck Series Championship – Intake manifold, 125-point fine  
The Biff has been with the Cat in the Hat ever since the late Benny Parsons told Jack Roush he needed to take a look. During the 1999 Truck Series season, Biffle was in a tight points battle with Jack Sprague and Dennis Setzer, with Biffle having just won his ninth race of the season at Las Vegas – the biggest payout race of the season. He came into the race with a 125-point lead and left with a 10-point deficit to Sprague. The reason? An issue with the intake manifold – one Biffle and crew chief Randy Goss maintained was an off the shelf part they had been using all season long. The fine proved costly, as Biffle lost the championship by a scant 8 points. Biffle would rebound to win the Truck Series title in 2000, and his nine-win ’99 season remains a record in the series to this day.

7. Robby Gordon – 2007 Pennsylvania 500 – Suspended one race for disregarding a black flag
I’ve always said that NASCAR would be a better place if it had more drivers like Robby Gordon. He’s a throwback if there ever was one, leaving the comfy confines of RCR to start his own team in 2005. You’d be hard pressed to find a better driver when right turns are permitted, and such was the case when NASCAR went north of the border in 2007. Gordon was running the Busch Series NAPA 200 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal when he got into it with Marcos Ambrose in the final laps, nerfing Ambrose and earning a black flag in the process. Instead of heeding a black flag, Robby kept his foot in it and assumed he had one the race. It was an awkward sight, seeing two cars perform victory burnouts – Kevin Harvick the official winner, and Robby Gordon who maintained that he won after the race. The next day, NASCAR suspended Gordon, not allowing him to drive in the Cup Series race at Pocono.
 

6. Kyle Busch – 2011 AAA 500 – Suspended one race for rough driving
What is it with Kyle Busch in Texas? It literally is checkers or wreckers with Kyle in the Lone Star State, and this incident with Ron Hornaday in 2011 is a perfect example. Truck regular Hornaday was in the midst of a title fight while Busch was running a truck for the team he owns with M&M’s sponsorship on the tailgate. On lap 15, Hornaday gets loose going around a lap truck, and forces Busch up into the wall. The caution comes out and Busch retaliates, driving Hornaday head-on into the wall, ending his night and title hopes. NASCAR parked Busch for the Cup race two days later in the middle of the Chase, was fined by his own team and received a final warning from sponsor M&M’s. Irony of ironies, Hornaday lost it and did the exact same thing this weekend at Rockingham to rookie Darrell Wallace Jr. who was driving the No. 54 Toyota that is normally Busch’s for Nationwide duty – but was a Joe Gibbs Racing truck. Oops.
 

5. Kurt Busch – 2012 Pocono 400 – Suspended one race for disrespecting media while on probation
What would a top 10 list of anything be without the best sound bite in NASCAR history? Kurt Busch had an up and down 2012 season. He was out at Penske and signed on with Phoenix Racing before the season started. They had decent equipment at Daytona, but wiped out four cars in the process. He had a top 10 going in the Southern 500 only to be felled by tire going down late — then engaged in a shouting match with Ryan Newman’s pit crew. That incident landed him on probation, which is when this incident with Bob Pockrass of The Sporting News occurred following a Nationwide race at Dover. Kurt was seated for the next race at Pocono. I know Kurt hates to dwell on the past, but this is top 10 material.
 

4. Carl Long – 2009 Winston Open – $200,000 fine/Banned from competition until paid 
They say you can’t fight City Hall – and Carl Long is living proof. In 2009, Long was fined 200 points and $200,000 for an engine that was .17 cubic inches over the 358 limit – and down over 50 horsepower to the contending teams. The engine lasted all of three laps before Long was out of the event. Long was initially suspended for 12 weeks but was then reduced to eight; however since he has been unable to pay the four-year-old fine, he is not allowed to compete in the Cup Series in any capacity. He currently is a crew member in the Nationwide Series, but is still locked out of the Sprint Cup garage until he can pay the fine for his long deceased engine.

3. Jeremy Mayfield and Aaron Fike – Suspended indefinitely for drug use  
Two of the sadder stories of the past decade involve two drivers who were once considered rising stars. Jeremy Mayfield was one of the up and coming drivers for Ford in the late 1990s before defecting to Dodge to help establish the groundwork for its 2001 return. After public criticism of team owner Ray Evernham’s personal affairs got him booted from the No. 19 Dodge midway through the 2006, he made a handful of starts for Bill Davis and tried to start his own team. In ’09, Mayfield was suspended for testing positive for methamphetamine. He has endured a host of legal and financial woes since, but maintains his innocence.

After Aaron Fike was working his way through the Truck and Busch series in the mid-2000s, and was sitting eighth in points in 2007 when he was arrested at an amusement park with his girlfriend, cooking up heroin in their car. He later admitted to having competed under the influence.

2. Curtis Turner – 1961 – Banned from competition for four years after supporting a driver’s union 
Curtis Tuner is one of the most legendary figures in NASCAR history – more for the way he lived then for gaudy records or highlight-reel finishes. He was a lumber baron who drove cars because he liked to, not out of necessity. His parties were the thing of legend, often taking a break just long enough to go run the race – and then return to the house to get back at it. In 1961 however, he was seeking to protect his fellow drivers by attempting to organize a driver’s union along with fellow 2013 Hall of Fame nominee Tim Flock. This did not sit well with Big Bill France, who essentially banned both for life. The ban was rescinded after four years, during which time Turner built the Charlotte Motor Speedway – with the help of some creative financing and a Smith & Wesson to get the bulldozers rolling again.

1. Mark Martin – 1990 Winston Cup Championship – 46-point fine, Richmond  
Under the new Chase points system, anything that happens in the first 26 races is often long forgotten by the time the final 10 events roll around. Under the system used from 1975-2003, it was a cumulative season-long fight with race No. 4 holding just as much value as race No. 30. In 1990, it would be the third race of the season that proved pivotal. A technical bulletin was issued that weekend with regards to welding and bolting a spacer plate to the intake manifold. Mark Martin’s No. 6 Ford passed inspection on three occasions that weekend without incident. It wasn’t until he won the race and Richard Childress phoned Bill France Jr., who was at home nursing a broken leg, protesting the win. As Jack Roush recounts, Childress made the claim to France, who was unaware of the bulletin and promised him that action would be taken. This was at a time when NASCAR was still leery of outsiders, and a Ford engineer who won championships in drag racing and SCCA road racing would meet that criteria — and Livonia, Mich., isn’t exactly North Wilkesboro, N.C. Martin and his Roush Racing team were fined 46 points and $30,000. He would ultimately fall short in the championship by 26 points to — who else? — the No. 3 Goodwrench team of Dale Earnhardt and Richard Childress.

by Vito Pugliese
Follow Vito on Twitter:
@VitoPugliese
 

RELATED: 11 Most Epic NASCAR Moments at Richmond

Teaser:
<p> The 10 most memorable driver punishments in NASCAR history.</p>
Post date: Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 20:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-pac-12-quarterbacks-2013
Body:

Even though coach Chip Kelly left for the NFL, Oregon’s offense is in good hands with quarterback Marcus Mariota. After earning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors last year, Mariota should be the Pac-12’s No. 1 quarterback in 2013 and could be in the mix for All-American honors.

The Pac-12 has plenty of talent returning in addition to Mariota, as UCLA’s Brett Hundley, Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly and Washington’s Keith Price rank as the top four options.

There’s also plenty of intrigue with the rest of the conference, as Utah’s Travis Wilson and California’s Zach Kline could be in for a breakout season.

College football’s 2013 season is still months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about some of the top players in the nation. With spring practice coming to a close around the nation, Athlon will rank the top quarterbacks in each conference. One important note: This is just a ranking of starters and backups weren’t included for this article. Also, some projection for how we think quarterbacks are going to play for 2013 factored into this ranking.

Ranking the Pac-12 Starting Quarterbacks for 2013

1. Marcus Mariota, Oregon (SO)
The redshirt sophomore-to-be with a calm demeanor has quickly become a fan and coach favorite in Eugene. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound signal caller is poised in the pocket and rarely gets flustered while operating one of the nation’s most explosive offenses. In his first season under center as a freshman, the Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis product accounted for 37 total touchdowns and 3,429 yards of offense (2,677 passing, 752 rushing) and nearly led the Ducks to a perfect record. Mariota paced the Pac-12 in passing efficiency and led the nation in road passer rating, proving his ability to stay cool under pressure. He is efficient, productive, leads by example and is only a sophomore. Watch out West Coast.
 

2. Brett Hundley, UCLA (SO)
Hundley had a record-setting debut for UCLA last season and was a key piece to the Bruins’ Pac-12 South title. As a redshirt freshman in 2012, he started all 14 games and set UCLA single-season records for passing yards (3,740), total offense (4,095 yards), and completions (318). Hundley tossed only 11 picks, with four coming in UCLA’s 43-17 loss to California. One of his best performances came against Nebraska, recording 358 yards and four passing scores in a 36-30 win for the Bruins. Despite the departure of running back Johnathan Franklin and tight end Joseph Fauria, UCLA’s offense shouldn't miss much of a beat in 2013. Hundley should be a lock for All-Pac-12 honors and will keep UCLA in the mix for the Pac-12 South title once again.
 

3. Taylor Kelly, Arizona State (JR)
Kelly was one of the Pac-12’s biggest surprises last season, as he went from third on the depth chart after spring practice to starter by the first game. The Idaho native quickly showed why he was the team’s No. 1 quarterback, throwing for 249 yards and one touchdown in the Sept. 8 matchup against Illinois, and he opened Pac-12 play with back-to-back three-touchdown games. Kelly finished the season with 3,039 passing yards and 29 touchdowns, along with 516 yards and one score on the ground. He also ranked ninth nationally in passing efficiency. Kelly tossed only nine picks and went without an interception in each of the final three games. With an offseason to work as the No. 1 starter, look for Kelly to improve and challenge for All-Pac-12 honors.
 

4. Keith Price, Washington (SR)
Price’s 2012 season has to be considered a disappointment, considering how he played in '11. The Compton (Calif.) St. John Bosco quarterback set all types of school records two years ago, including single-season records for touchdown passes (33), completion percentage (66.9) and passing efficiency (161.09). It was arguably the best single-season by a Huskies passer in school history. So his major regression in every statistical category last fall has the 6-foot-1, 200-pound gunslinger entering a pivotal senior season. Certainly, widespread offensive line injuries were a major cause of Price’s struggles a year ago, but Steve Sarkisian needs his offensive leader to be more effective in 2013 if U of W expects to compete in the North. All signs point to Price returning to 2011 form in his final season at Washington.
 

5. Kevin Hogan, Stanford (SO)
It took eight games but David Shaw found his replacement for Andrew Luck when he inserted the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder into the lineup a few plays into the Colorado game. Hogan proceeded to lead the Cardinal to a 6-0 record to end the season — including the school’s first Rose Bowl win since 1972 — with efficient and dynamic play under center. He passed for 1,096 yards on 71.7-percent passing with nine touchdowns and just three interceptions while providing a spark on the ground with 263 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns. The McLean (Va.) Gonzaga product is a sneaky good athlete and quickly proved to be a savvy leader on The Farm. Should some pass-catchers develop around him, Hogan could be in for a huge season in 2013.
 

6. Sean Mannion, Oregon State (JR)
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound quarterback posted one of the best freshman seasons in Pac-12 history two seasons ago (3,328 yards). Mannion was off to a hot start in 2012 before suffering a knee injury four games into his sophomore season. The Pleasanton (Calif.) Foothill recruit was rushed back into action just three weeks later — coach Mike Riley has admitted as much — and it led to four interceptions and the team’s first loss of the year against Washington. Mannion was benched to heal properly and eventually returned to the field in the regular season’s final three games. The Beavers passer averaged over 300 yards passing per game (305.8 ypg) in his eight showings last year and could be in for a big junior season in Corvallis if he can stay healthy.
 

7. Cody Kessler, USC (SO)
There’s a clear drop-off in Pac-12 quarterbacks after the first six options are ranked. While Kessler has only thrown two passes in his career, it’s hard to ignore the potential of the starting quarterback at USC. The sophomore is still locked into a tight battle for the No. 1 spot with Max Wittek, but Kessler seemed to edge ahead this spring. The California native isn’t the biggest quarterback at 6-foot-1, but he brings more mobility to the table and elevated his performance this spring. Even though Kessler is unproven, if he picks up where he left off in the spring game, combined with the weapons at receiver and running back, the sophomore could have a huge season as USC looks to replace Matt Barkley.
 

8. Connor Halliday, Washington State (JR)
The Spokane (Wash.) Ferris prospect broke onto the scene as a redshirt freshman in 2011 when he threw for 494 yards and four touchdowns in a rare Pac-12 win over Arizona State. And that was before Mike Leach was calling plays for the Cougars. Last season, in just five starts, the 6-foot-4, 185-pound gunslinger threw for 1,878 yards and 15 touchdowns. With Jeff Tuel out of the picture after what seemed like a decade-long career in Pullman, Halliday is poised for a huge statistical season in Leach’s second season on the job. It remains to be seen, however, if those numbers will translate in the win column.
 

9. Zach Kline, California (FR)
Kline was an elite prospect coming out of Danville (Calif.) San Ramon Valley last season. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder was one of the most college-ready quarterbacks in the nation, and, after one season of redshirting, appears ready to take over as the star of the Golden Bears offense. He has a lightning quick release, accurate arm and deceptive mobility. He is a perfect fit in Sonny Dykes' patented high-flying passing attack, and while he should experience some freshman growing pains in 2013, fans in Berkeley have to be excited to have the Kline era officially underway.
 

10. Travis Wilson, Utah (SO)
Due to an injury to Jordan Wynn, Wilson was pushed into the starting lineup as a true freshman last season. And as expected, Wilson had his share of ups and downs. The California native threw for 311 yards and two touchdowns against Arizona but completed only 8 of 23 throws against Washington. He finished the year with 1,311 yards and seven touchdowns and added 40 yards and four scores on the ground. At 6-foot-6, Wilson clearly has the size and skill set to eventually become one of the Pac-12’s top quarterbacks. However, the sophomore still has a ways to go, and in addition to the arrival of Dennis Erickson as co-offensive coordinator, the Utes must replace top running back John White. In time, Wilson will rise in the rankings. But for 2013, he’s still an unknown commodity.
 

11. B.J. Denker, Arizona (SR)
With Anu Solomon arriving on campus later this offseason, and Jesse Scroggins recovering from a foot injury, Denker holds on to the top spot for Arizona – at least for now. The junior college recruit made one start for the Wildcats last year, throwing for 136 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 44 yards and one score against Colorado. Denker finished 2012 with 259 yards passing and three scores. Although Denker finished spring atop the depth chart, the battle to replace Matt Scott will pickup once Solomon and Scroggins are able to compete. Denker played well in limited action last year, but don’t expect the senior to replicate Scott’s numbers if he is the No. 1 quarterback.
 

12. Connor Wood, Colorado (JR)
The Buffaloes opened spring practice with six quarterbacks vying for the starting spot. And the race appeared to be down to two candidates: Nick Hirschman and Connor Wood. However, Hirschman decided to transfer in mid-April, leaving Wood as the team's No. 1 quarterback. The wildcard to watch will be true freshman Sefo Liufau, as he will get a chance to steal the starting spot in the fall. Hirschman and Wood both played significant snaps last season, but neither played well enough to secure the No. 1 spot. Wood threw for 265 yards and one touchdown last year in his first chance at major action on the FBS level. New coach Mike MacIntyre should generate some improvement from Colorado’s offense in 2013, but the quarterback situation is still a major concern.


by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)


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Teaser:
<p> Ranking the Pac-12 Quarterbacks for 2013</p>
Post date: Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 07:31
Path: /college-football/will-west-virginia-mountaineers-make-bowl-2013
Body:

With the departure of quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, West Virginia is expected to be picked near the bottom of the Big 12 in 2013.

As expected under coach Dana Holgorsen, the Mountaineers should find a way to be solid on offense. However, the team doesn’t have much clarity in its quarterback race, and the defense was one of the worst in the nation last year.

The non-conference schedule is favorable for West Virginia, but there’s not a lot of guaranteed victories once Big 12 play arrives. 

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

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

Will West Virginia Make a Bowl Game in 2013?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Missing a bowl game is a legitimate concern for West Virginia after going 7-6 with Geno Smith and Tavon Austin. The Mountaineers may flirt with a losing record, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Despite inexperience at quarterback and wide receiver, Dana Holgorsen will find some way to score points, probably centered around his running backs Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison. Both are capable of big games, but neither has proven it consistently or against top defenses. The biggest advantage for West Virginia is a lackluster Big 12, especially at quarterback. No Big 12 team is a clear pick for the top-15  at this point. And the West Virginia pass defense, abysmal a year ago, won’t face many top-flight quarterbacks, as indicated by our Big 12 quarterback rankings earlier this week. West Virginia is not in great shape right now, but there’s enough to work with to help the Mountaineers to bowl.
 

Tony Dobies, Staff Writer, BlueGoldNews.com, (@DOBIEST)
Two years ago, I would’ve laughed if you asked me whether West Virginia would make a bowl or not. “Of course they will,” I’d say. But, that’s just the way things have gone for this program over the past seven months.

West Virginia has quickly gone from a top-5 team to one that might not even challenge for a bowl. Without stars like Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, it’s going to be a new era in Morgantown.

Head coach Dana Holgorsen, now in his third year, has by far his hardest job yet. He’s forced to rebuild his high-powered attack and has to try to fix the gaping holes from last year’s defense. After a few offseason changes, the Mountaineers are headed into 2013 with hope.

The team seems to have bought into the T.E.A.M. acronym Holgorsen and his staff developed. It spent time learning about the history and tradition of the program earlier this year and that seemed to build camaraderie, something the players said was missed at times a year ago.

West Virginia will have a quarterback few have heard of (likely Ford Childress or Paul Millard) and a group of young receivers with potential but little experience. The offense will most likely rely on the running game, which doesn’t really fit what Holgorsen has done in the past.

The defense will be better. It can’t be worse. It seems the players have bought into a new, simpler system. The talent seems to be there, specifically at safety, to see some progress. Special teams could get a boost, too, from some youth at kicker.

The Big 12 Conference is expected to be down compared to a year ago. Seven of the top 10 quarterbacks in a pass-heavy league including four 4,000-yard passers are gone.

In addition, the Mountaineers could be a bit more comfortable with the Big 12 after the experience of a year ago.

For that reason, West Virginia should challenge for bowl eligibility. It will win no more than seven games and likely no less than five. I’ll say WVU finishes 6-6 and heads to another mediocre bowl.

In what should be considered a rebuilding year, six wins would be a decent season.
 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Considering West Virginia won seven games last season and must replace its top three players from that team – quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey – getting to a bowl game will be quite a challenge in 2013.

Despite the personnel losses and defensive question marks, I think West Virginia will find a way to get to six victories. It’s not going to be easy, but the Mountaineers have a path to a bowl game. Winning the three non-conference games is a must, and West Virginia has to beat Kansas and Iowa State in Big 12 play. If the Mountaineers win those five games, they should be able to steal a victory against Texas Tech or Oklahoma State in Morgantown to get bowl eligible.

While the quarterback position is getting most of the spring buzz, the bigger question mark for West Virginia is a defense that was one of the worst in the nation last year. With seven starters back, the Mountaineers should be able to show some improvement on this side of the ball. However, there are a lot of new players stepping into key roles on offense, which makes West Virginia arguably the biggest wildcard in the Big 12 in 2013.

Even though the Mountaineers are a team in transition, I think they will find a way to get to six wins and play in a bowl game for the 12th consecutive season.


Mark Ross (@AthlonSports)
After starting out last season 5-0, West Virginia proceeded to lose five in a row and had to scramble with wins in its last two games to secure a bowl bid. The Mountaineers' trip to the Pinstripe Bowl to face Syracuse didn't go as planned, as the Orange dominated their former Big East foes 38-14. That put a disappointing ending to a season that held so much promise in early October. Unfortunately, I think the sledding in 2013 will be even tougher as Dana Holgorsen will have to try and reverse the trend of last season's 2-6 finish without record-setting quarterback Geno Smith and basically all of his wide receiver production from '12. The only reason the Mountaineers finished above .500 last season was because of their prolific offense, which is now pretty much starting over from scratch. Even with seven starters returning on defense, I think this team will be hard-pressed to manufacture six wins this fall, because I am pretty certain these Mountaineers won't be able to generate 500 yards and 40 points a game. Remember that's what last year's team produced and it managed just seven wins.


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Teaser:
<p> Will the West Virginia Mountaineers Make a Bowl in 2013?</p>
Post date: Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 07:30
Path: /college-football/top-10-notre-dame-football-teams-all-time
Body:

Notre Dame has experienced a sustained stretch of "lean" years since claiming its last national title in 1988, failing to compete on a national level for elite bowls or championships (at least until the 2012 season). That still doesn't take away from the one of the most storied histories in all of college football. National championships, high-profile traditions, decades of winning, hundreds of NFL players, elite coaches and a picturesque campus have made the Fighting Irish one of the most powerful brands in the nation.

Even the College Football Hall of Fame is located in South Bend, Ind.

But how would Manti Te'o match up against The Gipper? Could Tim Brown make Ara Parseghian's disciplined teams pull their hair out? The Irish claim 11 consensus national championships and eight of those took place during the AP era (1934-present), so which one is the best? The fact of the matter is no one will ever know for sure, so trying to rank the best teams in Notre Dame history is virtually impossible. But we're going to try anyway.

1. 1988 (12-0)
Head Coach: Lou Holtz
Holtz and a star-studded coaching staff led the last Notre Dame team to win the National Championship and he did it in style. The only 12-0 team in Irish history rolled through the regular season, defeating four top 10 opponents, including No. 1 Miami, No. 2 USC and No. 3 West Virginia (in the Fiesta Bowl). Holtz was aided by Wisconsin legend Barry Alvarez on the defense and Jim Strong on offense for a team that defeated 10 of 12 opponents by double figures. The '88 group featured 29 future NFL players and 11 first- or second-round draft picks. The offense was led by two Heisman finalists in quarterback Tony Rice and Raghib Ismail, Tony Brooks, Anthony Johnson and Ricky Waters in the backfield and Andy Heck and Tim Grunhard paving the way. Defensively, all three layers of the defense had star power. Todd Lyght led the secondary while Mike Stonebreaker and Chris Zorich starred in the front seven. This was one of the most complete and utterly talented teams ever assembled.

2. 1947 (9-0)
Head Coach: Frank Leahy
Johnny Lujack is considered by some to be the greatest player in Notre Dame history and he led his '47 Irish squad to an unbeaten National Championship. Lujack claimed the Heisman Trophy on a team that featured five All-Americans, seven NCAA Hall of Famers and an astonishing 41 future NFL players. The defense pitched three shutouts and allowed more than seven points only once all season (19 at Northwestern). The season was capped by a dominating 38-7 win over rival and No. 3-ranked USC. Strangely enough, ND only played four of its nine games at home in South Bend that year. Yes, an unbeaten Michigan claims the National Championship in 1947 as well, but that doesn't have any relevance on how great this team ranks in Irish lore.

3. 1949 (10-0)
Head Coach: Frank Leahy
Two years after Lujack won the national title and Heisman, Leon Hart followed suit by claiming the stiff-armed trophy when he led the Irish to an unbeaten National Championship. Unbelievably, Hart was one of three Heisman finalists on this team (Bob Williams, Emil Stiko). And rightly so, this team didn't just beat opponents, it crushed them. This group outscored its opposition 360-86, with wins over No. 4 Tulane, No. 10 Michigan State and No. 17 USC. Six players were selected in the following NFL Draft (1950) and five players off of this powerhouse went on to become NCAA Hall of Famers.

4. 1966 (9-0-1)
Head Coach: Ara Parseghian
Arguably the best team coached by Ara Parseghian, the '66 squad boasted a ridiculous 12 All-Americans including Heisman finalists Terry Hanratty and Nick Eddy as well as Maxwell Award winner Jim Lynch. Historic Irish great Alan Page led a defense that was simply impenetrable, pitching six shutouts and only twice allowing more than seven points. The controversial tie, a 10-10 decision against No. 2 Michigan State in East Lansing, was highlighted by an extremely conservative game plan due to injuries to the star backfield of Hanratty and Eddy. The team returned to full strength following the tie and proceeded to destroy No. 10 USC 51-0 in Los Angeles to clinch the National Championship. Eight seniors off of this title team got drafted the following spring by the NFL.

5. 1973 (11-0)
Head Coach: Ara Parseghian
A deep, talented and speedy backfield helped propel the Irish to an unbeaten 10-0 regular-season mark and meeting with No. 1 undefeated Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Tom Clements quarterbacked this historic group by finishing his season with a national title-clinching, game-winning drive trailing by two in the final minutes of the game. When Bob Thomas' field goal sailed through the uprights, ND took the 24-23 lead and claimed the AP National Title. Dave Casper and Mike Townshend led an eight-man draft class the following spring.

6. 1977 (11-1)
Head Coach: Dan Devine
The best team of the fairly short Dan Devine era was long on NFL talent. Joe Montana led the offense while Ross Browner, Willie Fry and Bob Golic spearheaded a salty defensive side of the ball. A Week 2 loss to Ole Miss in Jackson, Miss., didn't stop the Irish from eventually matching-up with No. 1 Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Despite entering the game No. 5 in the polls, a 38-10 beatdown of the Burnt Orange allowed the Irish to jump to No. 1 in the standings and gave Devine his only championship. Browner claimed the Lombardi and Maxwell Awards after his 1976 Outland Trophy while Ken MacAfee earned the Walter Camp Award. Both finished in the top five of the Heisman voting. The '77 team featured seven All-American and eight 1978 NFL Draft picks — none of which was the one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of football.

7. 1993 (11-1)
Head Coach: Lou Holtz
The best Notre Dame team not to win a national title came so close to capturing what would have been Holtz' second championship. After rolling through the first ten weeks of the regular season, No. 2 Notre Dame defeated No. 1 Florida State 31-24 to put the Irish squarely in the National Championship driver's seat. However, a painful 41-39 home loss to No. 12 Boston College derailed the Irish's title hopes. A Cotton Bowl win over No. 6 Texas A&M did little to ease the pain of the season finale loss to the Eagles. Lombardi winner and NFL All-Pro Aaron Taylor and Derrick Mayes starred on offense while stud nose tackle Bryant Young paced the defense. This is easily one of the most talented teams Notre Dame has ever assembled and it came two points shy of being ranked much higher on this list.

8. 1946 (8-0-1)
Head Coach: Frank Leahy
Not only did the 1946 squad go undefeated and claim a national title but it began a 37-0-2 dynasty that led to three championships for head coach Frank Leahy. The only non-victory on the season was a famous 0-0 tie with No. 1 Army in a game played in Yankee Stadium. This team posted five shutouts and didn't allow more than six points in any game. This team outscored its opponents 271 to 24, George Connor won the Outland Trophy, four players were All-Americans and seven players went on to the NCAA Hall of Fame.

9. 1989 (12-1)
Head Coach: Lou Holtz
The year after claiming an unbeaten title, Unitas Award winner Tony Rice returned to lead a loaded Irish backfield. With wins over nationally ranked Michigan (No. 2), USC (No. 9), Air Force (No. 17) and Penn State (No. 17), the Irish were cruising to a second straight national title before a trip to Miami ended any and all hope of a repeat. The No. 7 Hurricanes toppled ND 27-10 and dropped the Irish to No. 4 in the polls. Holtz' squad went on to manhandle No. 1 Colorado 21-6 in the Orange Bowl, leaving Irish fans to wonder what could have been.

10. 1943 (9-1)
Head Coach: Frank Leahy
Angelo Bertelli won the Irish's first Heisman Trophy by spearheading a national championship run in just Leahy's third season in South Bend. Bertelli was one of six All-Americans who defeated No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Navy, No. 3 Army, No. 8 Northwestern and No. 2 Iowa en route to an unblemished 9-0 record. The season finale loss against Great Lakes in Chicago, Ill., didn't stop the Associated Press from awarding Notre Dame with its first AP title.

The best of the rest:

11. 2012 (12-1)
Brian Kelly shocked the world by returning the Irish to the title game. It marked one of two 12-0 regular seasons in the history of Notre Dame football.

12. 1964 (9-1)
Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte earned a share of the national championship under first-year head coach Ara Parseghian.

13. 1992 (10-1-1)
A loaded backfield featuring Rick Mirer, Reggie Brooks and Jerome Bettis only lost to No. 18 Stanford.

14. 1948 (9-0-1)
A team in the heart of the Leahy Dynasty didn't get beat but a season-ending 14-14 tie with USC allowed Michigan to finish No. 1 in the polls.

15. 1941 (8-0-1)
Yet another 0-0 tie with No. 14 Army kept the Irish from topping Minnesota or Alabama for the title.

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Teaser:
<p> Top 10 Notre Dame Football Teams of All-Time</p>
Post date: Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 07:25
Path: /nfl/10-amazing-feats-shortened-sports-seasons
Body:

Labor disputes, strikes and lockouts happen in the billion-dollar business of pro sports. This year’s NHL season started in the second period. Last year’s NBA schedule didn’t tip off until midway through the second quarter. But sometimes, short seasons produce the craziest results. These are 10 of the best and worst historic moments from such seasons.

1. Mark Moseley, 1982 NFL strike
The only kicker in NFL history to win the Most Valuable Player award, Moseley was nearly automatic for the eventual Super Bowl XVII champion Washington Redskins — connecting on 20-of-21 field goals, yet just 16-of-19 extra points. Moseley hit his NFL-record 21st straight field goal on a game-winner against the Giants that clinched the Skins’ first playoff berth since 1976.

2. Chicago Blackhawks, 2012-13 NHL lockout
When the lockout ended and the puck finally dropped in January, the Blackhawks were ready to rock. Chicago got off to the best start in NHL history, earning at least one point in the first 24 games of the season. When the Hawks finally lost, 6–2 to the Avalanche, it was their first defeat since a 6–1 beatdown against the Predators on March 25, 2012.

3. Rollie Fingers, 1981 MLB strike
The only relief pitcher in history to be named Most Valuable Player, Fingers’ first season in the American League resulted in both an MVP and Cy Young Award. Rollie curled his mustache to the tune of a 6–3 record, 1.04 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 28 saves and 61 strikeouts in 78.0 innings for the Milwaukee Brewers. Fingers narrowly beat out Rickey Henderson — who hit .319 and had 56 stolen bases in 108 games — in what was essentially a two-man race for MVP honors.

4. Curt Flood, 1972 MLB strike
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Major League Baseball, 5–3, over Curt Flood, who has since become synonymous with free agency in MLB. After refusing a trade from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1969, Flood fought for players’ rights and — although he was unsuccessful in front of the Supreme Court — he ultimately ushered in the era of free agency (and inflated salaries) we know today.

5. Suge Knight, 1987 NFL strike
Before becoming one of the most feared men in the music industry during the 1990s, the Death Row Records CEO was a replacement player during the 1987 NFL strike — as a defensive end for the Los Angeles Rams, or “L.A. Shams” as they known. Fellow scabs included Sean Payton and Rick Neuheisel. But neither of those quarterbacks-turned-coaches has the street cred of the intimidating big man who was in the car when Tupac Shakur was shot and killed in Las Vegas after a Mike Tyson fight in 1996.



6. Fernando Valenzuela, 1981 MLB strike
“Fernandomania” jumped out to an 8–0 start with five shutouts and an ERA of 0.50 before finishing the season with a 13–7 record, 2.48 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and a NL-leading 180 strikeouts in 192.1 innings. Valenzuela’s leg kick windup and larger-than-life persona won over baseball fans everywhere during a dark strike-interrupted time. As a result, Fernando became the first rookie to win the Cy Young Award, while also claiming Rookie of the Year honors for the eventual World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

7. Tony Gwynn, 1994 MLB strike
Mr. Padre was attempting to become the first player to hit .400 since Ted Williams (.406) in 1941. Instead, Gwynn was forced to settle for a .394 average over 419 at-bats in 110 games. The 1994 season ended premature and a completely different type of history was made, as the World Series was canceled for the first time since 1904.

8. LeBron James, 2011-12 NBA lockout
The NBA regular season was shortened from 82 to 66 games the year that King James finally won his first ring. Does that add an asterisk to the Miami Heat star’s championship? Michael Jordan won his six rings after 82-game seasons, right? Well, James did average 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists in the 62 regular season games he played — before an eye-popping 30.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists over 23 playoff games.

9. Tim Duncan, 1998-99 NBA lockout
The first of Duncan’s four NBA Finals wins and three NBA Finals MVP Awards came following a lockout-shortened regular season that shrunk from 82 to 50 games. In just his second season, the “Big Fundamental” averaged 21.7 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots in 50 regular season games — before posting 23.2 points, 11.5 boards and 2.6 blocks in 17 playoff games alongside David Robinson.

10. Gary Bettman, 2004-05 NHL lockout
There was no Stanley Cup awarded for the first time since 1919, because there was no NHL season in 2004-05 — the first time in major pro sports that an entire season was canceled due to a labor dispute between players and owners. There were 1,230 games canceled over the 10 months and six days that the lockout lasted. No big deal for Commissioner Bettman, who has gone through three labor disputes since taking over the top spot in 1993.
 

Teaser:
<p> 10 Amazing Feats From Shortened Sports Seasons. Strikes and lockouts have resulted in some of the best, worst and strangest moments in sports history, including Mark Moseley, Rollie Fingers, Curt Flood, Suge Knight, Fernando Valenzuela, LeBron James, Tony Gwynn, Tim Duncan and the Chicago Blackhawks.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 15:30
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-winners-and-losers-draft-early-entry-deadline
Body:

The NCAA’s early entry draft deadline, moved up to April 16, functioned more like a suggestion rather than any sort of rule this season.

A handful of underclassmen announced their intentions on the NBA Draft before the NCAA’s April 16 deadline, but the real point of no return for many is the NBA’s deadline of April 28. The NCAA mark says an underclassman who has not signed with an agent must remove his name from consideration before April 16 if they want to return to school.

The April 28 date is established by the NBA, meaning an undecided underclassman in reality has an extra 12 days to make the call provided he doesn’t sign with an agent.

The rule was put into place to protect coaches who, in theory, wouldn’t have to save a scholarship for several weeks while a star player mulled the NBA Draft.

In practice, many coaches are doing just that. Here’s our look at the winners and losers for the NBA Draft deadline and everyone in between as the clock ticks down to April 28.

EARLY ENTRY WINNERS

Oklahoma State
Cowboys coach Travis Ford was perhaps the biggest winner in the early entry deadline. He returned not only a potential top-five pick but also the point guard who helped Oklahoma State to its best season under Ford. Marcus Smart, who was in a neck-and-neck battle with Ben McLemore for national freshman of the year, elected to return to school, according to a report Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. Oklahoma State also returns Le’Bryan Nash, making the Cowboys a possible favorite in the Big 12.

Florida
The Gators held onto freshman Patric Young, who will give Florida one of the best froncourts in the country with freshman center Chris Walker and Virginia Tech transfer Dorian Finney-Smith. After three consecutive Elite Eight appearances, the Gators should open next season as a top-10 team.

Kentucky
No matter what happened with the NBA Draft deadline, Kentucky would be a winner going into next season thanks to a signing class that includes six McDonald’s All-Americans. The return of Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress at least ensure there will be veterans -- relatively speaking -- in this group. ESPN’s Chad Ford ranked both as top-25 prospects.

UCLA
Shabazz Muhammad went to the NBA Draft as expected, but Kyle Anderson will return. The stat sheet stuffer who averaged 9.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.3 steals last season will give Steve Alford a leg up in his first season in Westwood. With the drama surrounding Ben Howland’s job status and Shabazz Muhammad’s eligibility and age gone, it will be interesting to see how Anderson and rising sophomore Jordan Adams fare in 2013-14.

Memphis
Perhaps it’s tough to call a team a winner that lost Adonis Thomas to the draft an Tarik Black and Antonio Barton to transfers, but Memphis did keep its scoring and assist leader, Joe Jackson, on campus. He’ll be a key veteran on a team bringing in a highly touted five-man signing class.

Cincinnati
Sean Kilpatrick may not have been in demand in the NBA Draft had he left, but that doesn’t mean anything for Cincinnati’s prospects. Instead, the Bearcats return the fifth-leading scorer in the Big East last season. Kilpatrick will be the key returnee to backcourt that loses Cashmere Wright and JaQuon Parker.

Arizona State
The Sun Devils have star power for the first time since James Harden left. Jahii Carson, the Pac-12 co-freshman of the year, submitted his name for evaluation, but didn’t see enough to leave Arizona State. He’ll make Arizona State an NCAA Tournament contender after the Sun Devils played in the NIT last season.

IN LIMBO

Michigan
Trey Burke surprised no one by declaring for the NBA Draft this week. Now John Beilein is waiting to see how much the rest of his roster will change. Tim Hardaway Jr., Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary are all considering a jump. Robinson and McGary have been projected near the end of the lottery or lower.

North Carolina
Reggie Bullock announced Tuesday he would head to the NBA Draft,leaving North Carolina to wait out a decision by James Michael McAdoo. P.J. Hairston told the Greensboro News & Record he plans to return to school. If McAdoo, a potential late first-round pick, returns, North Carolina will have three of its top four scorers back on the roster.

Creighton
Gregory Echinique and Grant Gibbs exhausted their eligibility, but Creighton will start from square one in the Big East if Doug McDermott leaves early. McDermott has been projected in the late first round or early second round.

Teams on Andrew Wiggins’ list
The 247Sports composite No. 1 prospect will wait out draft decisions before picking his school. The small forward could be a transformative player wherever he goes. If he picks Florida State, he’ll make the Seminoles a potential top-25 team. If he picks Kansas, he’ll ease the loss of all five starters. If he picks North Carolina, he’ll strengthen the Heels’ case as an ACC contender. If he picks Kentucky, he’ll add to the embarrassment of riches for the preseason No. 1 team.

Baylor
The Bears didn’t have the Big 12 title-contending season expected of them, but they did end up winning the NIT. Will Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson return to school to atone for Baylor’s struggles in 2012-13? Projections are divided for both.

Miami
The senior-laden Hurricanes are already in a rebuilding mode of sorts with seniors Kenny Kadji, Durand Scott, Reggie Johnson and Julian Gable gone, but it remains unclear if they’ll do so without their best player. Shane Larkin is still seeking feedback on whether to return for his junior season. DraftExpress projected him as a first-round pick while ESPN’s Chad Ford did not.

Michigan State
Few teams could change their preseason ranking as much as Michigan State could based on the decisions of Adreian Payne and Gary Harris. With Payne and Harris, Michigan State is a preseason top-three team. Without them, Michigan State could still be pretty good with Branden Dawson and Keith Appling, but perhaps not a national title contender.

Colorado
If Andre Roberson opts for the NBA Draft, he will be one of the only players leaving from the Buffaloes roster. Colorado could contend for a Pac-12 title if Roberson, who has led the Buffs to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, comes back to school.

Tennessee
Jordan McRae already announced he would return for his senior season. If Jarnell Stokes returns, the Volunteers could be virtually intact from last year. With Jeronne Maymon back from the knee injury that sidelined him all of last season, Tennessee could be a Tournament team in 2013-14 if Stokes returns.

EARLY ENTRY LOSERS

Indiana
Losing Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo was not a surprise, though Zeller could have returned for more seasoning after a lackluster NCAA Tournament. One of the other departures -- Remy Abell via transfer -- leaves Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey as the only regulars returning to the Hoosiers.

Marquette
Marquette looked like a potential top-10 team with Vander Blue, but the Golden Eagles’ leading scorer elected to leave even though he’s not projected as a first-round pick. Marquette absorbed the losses of Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom last season, can the Eagles take another big loss.

Louisville
Russ Smith’s father says his son will leave for the draft, though the Cardinals’ guard may not be a first-round draft pick. Louisville may be a top-five team without Smith thanks to new arrivals in the backcourt, but he was the Cards’ leading scorer on the way to the title.

Mountain West
The dismantling of the Mountain West began when none of its five teams in the NCAA Tournament reached the second weekend. Now, San Diego State loses Jamaal Franklin, UNLV loses Anthony Bennett and New Mexico loses Tony Snell early to the draft. Meanwhile, Colorado State loses six seniors.

Georgetown
Otto Porter waited until April 16 to announce his decision, but his leap to the NBA Draft erases the Hoyas’ hopes of being a top-15 team. Georgetown will look to rebuild around Markel Starks, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and a healthy Greg Whittington.

Texas
The Longhorns lost to the draft a player who gave them only 11 games last season, but Myck Kabongo still led Texas in scoring. The question is how bad could it get without him. Texas was 2-8 in the Big 12 before Kabongo was eligible this season, compared to 6-3 in the Big 12 with him. Texas has little in the way of top recruits joining the program.

SEC teams not named Kentucky, Florida or Tennessee
Georgia was a one-man show with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope last season, and he’s gone to the Draft. So is Arkansas point guard B.J. Young. But the most puzzling decision was that of Missouri point guard Phil Pressey, who inconsistent all of last season. Anyone hoping for an SEC rebound may have to wait a bit longer.

Teaser:
<p> The NCAA's draft deadline has passed, but the NBA deadline still has teams in limbo</p>
Post date: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-ten-quarterbacks-2013
Body:

The Big Ten is heavy at the top when it comes to quarterbacks this season, as Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez and Michigan’s Devin Gardner could all be top-20 passers in 2013.

Miller is one of college football’s leading contenders for the Heisman and should thrive in his second year with coach Urban Meyer. Martinez showed big improvement last season and will be throwing to one of the Big Ten’s best receiving corps in 2013. This will be Gardner’s first opportunity to start a full season but he clearly showed he was ready for the opportunity last year.

The rest of the conference has some uncertainty, as Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State, Purdue and Iowa all have a quarterback battle expected to extend into fall practice.

College football’s 2013 season is still months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about some of the top players in the nation. With spring practice coming to a close around the nation, Athlon will rank the top quarterbacks in each conference. One important note: This is just a ranking of starters and backups weren’t included for this article.

Ranking the Big Ten's Starting Quarterbacks for 2013

1. Braxton Miller, Ohio State (JR)
The electric dual-threat talent from Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne was the No. 2-rated quarterback prospect in the nation in 2011. He quickly stole the starting job as a true freshman before enjoying a breakout sophomore campaign under spread guru Urban Meyer. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound dynamo is the unquestioned leader of the Buckeyes and he consistently carried his team to an undefeated season with, at times, complete disregard for his own safety. He finished the year fourth in the Big Ten in rushing (1,271 yards) and was No. 2 in passing efficiency and total offense (Taylor Martinez). With speed, size and smarts, he is a perfect fit for Meyer’s offensive scheme and it means Miller could be the Heisman front-runner in 2013.
 

2. Taylor Martinez, Nebraska (SR)
Martinez was clearly one of college football’s most-improved quarterbacks last season. In 14 contests, he threw for 2,871 yards and 23 touchdowns and added 1,019 yards and 10 scores on the ground. Martinez topped 300 yards passing three times and had five contests of 100 or more rushing yards. After showing steady improvement in each of his first three years as a starter, Martinez is poised for his best year at Nebraska. The Cornhuskers are loaded at receiver and return three starters on the offensive line. Expect Martinez to be in the mix for All-Big Ten honors and be a top-15 quarterback nationally this season.
 

3. Devin Gardner, Michigan (JR)
After an injury sidelined Denard Robinson last season, Gardner finally got his chance to start at quarterback for Michigan. The former top recruit waited his turn behind Robinson and saw some snaps at receiver early in the year. However, Gardner showed no rust when he moved back under center on a full-time basis, throwing for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns over the final five games. In the Outback Bowl against South Carolina, Gardner completed 18 of 36 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns. His best performance came against Iowa, throwing for 314 yards and three scores, while adding 37 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Michigan needs to give Gardner more help at receiver and from its rushing attack, but the junior is poised to have an All-Big Ten year in his first as Michigan’s No. 1 quarterback.
 

4. Kain Colter, Northwestern (SR)
Even though Colter is ranked here, it’s essentially the duo of Colter/Trevor Siemian. In 13 games last season, Colter threw for 872 yards and eight touchdowns, rushed for 894 yards and 12 scores and caught 16 passes for 169 yards. Siemian passed for 1,312 yards and six touchdowns on 218 attempts last season. Most two-quarterback systems don’t work, but Northwestern seems to have found the right mix between Colter and Siemian. The Wildcats are coming off of a 10-3 season and the Colter-Siemian duo could lead this team to a spot in most preseason top 25 polls in 2013. 


5. Tre Roberson, Indiana (SO)
Roberson burst onto the scene as a true freshman midway through the 2011 season. The Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central product became the first true frosh to start in IU history when he took over the job against Illinois in Week 6. He tormented defenses the rest of the season with electric athletic ability (426 yards rushing) and had Hoosiers fans excited about 2012. However, after a huge game against Indiana State in the season opener, Roberson was lost for the season with a broken leg in Week 2. He redshirted and is poised to return to action this fall. Kevin Wilson has quickly created a potent passing attack in Bloomington and Roberson figures to be the star of the show in 2013.
 

6. Joel Stave, Wisconsin (SO)
Danny O’Brien was supposed to be the heir apparent to the great Russell Wilson. But the Maryland transfer looked lost from the start and Bret Bielema made the switch to Stave, a redshirt freshman walk-on from Greenfield (Wis.) Whitnall. Stave, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound pocket passer, totally rejuvenated the non-existent passing game the second he stepped into the lineup. He threw for 1,104 yards and six scores in less than six games, as he sustained a season-ending broken collarbone against Michigan State. The only two games the Badgers lost during the stretch were the two Stave couldn’t finish due to injury (Nebraska was the other), which only further indicates how important he was to creating balance on offense. Counting the loss to the Spartans, Wisconsin lost four of its last six games without Stave. Healthy and now in Gary Andersen’s prolific offensive scheme, look for Stave to flourish in his second season under center.
 

7. Andrew Maxwell, Michigan State (SR)
After struggling in his first season as Michigan State’s starting quarterback, Maxwell is under pressure to raise his performance in 2013. The Spartans have the talent and the schedule to win nine games this year, but quarterback play has to improve. In his first season as a starter, Maxwell threw for 2,606 yards and 13 touchdowns. However, he completed only 52.4 percent of his throws and tossed nine picks, including two in a key Legends Division loss to Northwestern. Maxwell was able to hold off Connor Cook and Tyler O’Connor this spring, but the battle will continue into the fall.
 

8. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State (FR)
With Steven Bench’s decision to transfer after spring practice, the battle to replace Matt McGloin in Happy Valley is down to two contenders: Christian Hackenberg and Tyler Ferguson. Hackenberg ranked as one of the top quarterbacks in the 2013 recruiting class but won’t arrive on campus until this summer. Ferguson joined Penn State from the junior college ranks this spring and heads into fall as a tentative No. 1. Hackenberg has the talent, but there’s no need for coach Bill O’Brien to rush him into the starting lineup.  
 

9. Philip Nelson, Minnesota (SO)
Minnesota coach Jerry Kill decided to remove Nelson’s redshirt midway through last season and inserted him into the starting lineup for the final seven contests. Nelson threw for six touchdowns in his first three games but went three contests without a score, before turning in a solid performance in the bowl game (7 of 16, 138 yards, two touchdowns). Nelson has dual-threat potential, which is the type of quarterback Kill used successfully at Northern Illinois. The sophomore has potential but needs more help from the receiving corps and rushing attack. Nelson should build off of last season’s showing with a solid 2013 campaign.
 

10. Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois (SR)
Few quarterbacks in the nation have taken as many snaps and have as many question marks as the senior-to-be from Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound dual-threat quarterback has been a team and bowl game MVP (Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl) but has also been benched on more than one occasion and has missed plenty of time due to injury. He is a career 60.9-percent passer who threw more interceptions (8) than touchdowns (4) a year ago. His touchdown totals have dropped three straight seasons from 23 as a freshman to 20 as a sophomore and just eight a year ago. And the Illini went from back-to-back seven-win seasons to an abysmal 2-10 mark last fall. Scheelhaase’s legacy will be decided this fall and he has to play more consistent football if he wants fans to remember him like he was as a freshman — when he posted 1,825 yards passing and 868 yards rushing.
 

11. Rob Henry, Purdue (SR)
A three-star prospect from Ocala (Fla.) Trinity Catholic, Henry has overcome plenty in his Boilermakers career. He redshirted in 2009 before making seven starts as a second-year freshman in '10. Then, after being named team co-captain, he tore up his knee a week before the 2011 season started. He came back again in 2012 and helped contribute behind Robert Marve and Caleb TerBush. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound dual-threat showed flashes of athletic ability with 547 yards rushing as a freshman and should still bring that type of dynamic to Darrell Hazell’s new offense. However, staying healthy will be a key if Henry wants to help Purdue get to the postseason for the third straight season.
 

12. Jake Rudock, Iowa (SO)
James Vandenberg’s career at Iowa ended on a down note, but he still threw for 5,786 yards and 35 touchdowns during his tenure in Iowa City. With Vandenberg out of eligibility, the Hawkeyes have a three-way battle for the No. 1 job this offseason. And considering none of the candidates have thrown a pass on the FBS level, it’s a wide-open battle that may not be decided until late in the fall. Rudock is believed to have the inside track, as he served as Vandenberg’s backup last year. The 6-foot-3 passer was the Broward (Fla.) County Player of the Year as a high school senior and redshirted in his first season on campus. If Rudock doesn’t win the job, Cody Sokol – a junior college recruit that redshirted last season – and redshirt freshman C.J. Beathard will get a chance to push for the top spot.
 

by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)


Related College Football Content

Ranking the Big Ten Coaches for 2013
Ranking All 125 College Football Head Coaches for 2013

College Football's Top Assistant Coach Hires for 2013

Ranking the Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

College Football's Top 25 Pre-Spring Heisman Contenders

Teaser:
<p> Ranking the Big Ten Quarterbacks for 2013</p>
Post date: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 07:30
Path: /college-football/syracuse-or-pittsburgh-who-will-have-more-acc-wins-2013
Body:

The ACC welcomes two new teams into the fold for 2013, as Syracuse and Pittsburgh join from the Big East.

Syracuse went 8-5 last season but has a new coach (Scott Shafer) and suffered some key personnel departures. Quarterback Ryan Nassib must be replaced, and the defensive has key holes to fill on the line and in the secondary with the departure of safety Shamarko Thomas.

Pittsburgh finally has coaching stability with Paul Chryst, but the Panthers are coming off a 6-7 record in 2012. If Chryst can find the right quarterback – perhaps Rutgers transfer Tom Savage – Pittsburgh could make some noise in the Coastal Division. However, the Panthers need to find a go-to running back, especially after Rushel Shell decided to transfer in the spring.

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

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

Syracuse or Pittsburgh: Who Will Have More ACC Wins in 2013?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
This may be a race to six wins for both teams, but if either team has a chance to get into the seven- or eight-win range, it’s Pittsburgh. Even though the Panthers start at a two-win disadvantage since last season, the Panthers have a more solid nucleus than Syracuse. Paul Chryst has had a year to install his system and style and mend wounds from all the coaching turmoil since Dave Wannstedt was fired. Scott Shafer has the foundation rebuilt by Doug Marrone, but not the personnel. Although Rushel Shell left Pitt, this offense could be OK. Tom Savage may finally have a home after bouncing from Rutgers to Arizona to Pitt. He had an up-and-down freshman season with Rutgers, but he still finished with 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Pittsburgh’s defense also has the potential to be pretty good. Aaron Donald and Jason Hendricks, the two best players , are among nine returning starters for a defense that was one three teams in the Big East to hold opponents to fewer than five yards per play.


Jim Young (@ACCSports)
Both Pitt and Syracuse come into the ACC with a lot of questions, particularly at quarterback. I tend to give the Panthers a slight edge over the Orange simply because they have better continuity on their coaching staff and that their expected starting QB, Rutgers transfer Tom Savage has actually, you know, started. But when in doubt, go to the schedule. The Panthers have to play at FSU, at Georgia Tech and at Virginia Tech. Ouch. Add in tough home games against Miami and UNC and that Pitt has to play Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, and I’ll predict that the Orange ends the 2013 season with more ACC wins. But I doubt either team managed to reach .500 in league play.
 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Both teams should be excited about entering the ACC but only one has legitimate shot at going bowling in 2013. Syracuse watched one of the most productive quarterbacks in school history, a potential first-round bookend left tackle and its overachieving head coach depart for the NFL. Meanwhile, Pitt welcomes back a head coach for the first time since 2009-10 (Dave Wannstedt). Paul Chryst is an offensive wizard and a developing star in the coaching ranks and he has more talent to work with in 2013 than newbie Scott Shafer. With winnable games in the ACC against Duke, Virginia and Syracuse — despite being in the Carrier Dome — Pitt has an outside shot at four conference victories. Florida State, North Carolina and Miami all come to Heinz Field and fans shouldn't be shocked if Pitt wins one of them. The Orange, on the other hand, have winnable home games with Wake Forest, Boston College and Pittsburgh (as well as an un-winnable one with Clemson) but likely won't register a road ACC win (Florida State, Georgia Tech, NC State, Maryland). I give Chryst and the Panthers an edge in their debut trip through the Atlantic Coast Conference.
 

Anson Whaley, Founder and Editor of Cardiac Hill, @PittPantherBlog
If you'd asked me this question a month ago, I'd have easily said Pitt. But that was before the departure of running back Rushel Shell, who is transferring out of the program. I'll still say the Panthers, but it's not as definitive. Pitt is breaking in a new quarterback with the loss of Tino Sunseri. That appears to be Arizona transfer senior Tom Savage, but redshirt freshman Chad Voytik had a huge spring game last week that could make the decision of head coach Paul Chryst a bit more difficult. There's also the loss of the team's leading running back and leading receiver, seniors Ray Graham and Mike Shanahan. That's a lot of production to replace and when you couple it with questionable offensive and defensive lines, there's plenty of reason to be concerned. On top of that, I also think the Panthers have the more difficult schedule. Still, the Orange will have their hands full trying to replace quarterback Ryan Nassib and the team's top two receivers from last season, seniors Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales. Pitt's secondary also has a chance to be special and I expect the defense to be solid with improved play from the linebackers. I'm not convinced either team has a very good year, but I'll say the Panthers have a slightly better inaugural ACC season than Syracuse.
 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Syracuse and Pittsburgh are solid additions for the ACC, but both teams are entering the conference in a state of transition. The Orange lost coach Doug Marrone to the NFL, and quarterback Ryan Nassib, safety Shamarko Thomas and tackle Justin Pugh have all departed. Pittsburgh finally had an offseason of coaching stability, but running back Rushel Shell decided to transfer, leaving the offense without one of its top playmakers.

Although both teams have some significant question marks entering the season, I think Pittsburgh will finish with more ACC wins. Even though the Orange landed Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen at quarterback, the Panthers should be better under center with Tom Savage getting the edge over Chad Voytik. Pittsburgh could also have one of the ACC’s best defenses in 2013, especially in the back seven where six starters from last year return. The Orange have one of the ACC’s top backfields with Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley, but the offensive line is a concern with Pugh and guard Zack Chibane departing. Syracuse also must rebuild its defensive line and find a new go-to receiver with the departure of Alec Lemon.

Coaching stability is a key aspect of this debate, as this is Scott Shafer’s first go-around as a head coach, while Chryst has one year under his belt. 
 

Mark Ross (@AthlonSports)
Even though Pittsburgh and Syracuse both enjoyed success in their final seasons in the Big East, it will be difficult for either team to build off of what took place in 2012 as they enter the ACC this fall. Both teams experienced heavy personnel losses at key positions, not to mention that Syracuse will be led by a first-year head coach. Even though Pittsburgh opens its season by hosting Florida State, I think the Panthers will navigate Year One in the ACC a little more successfully than Syracuse. The Orange don't play their first ACC game until Oct. 5, but it's against Clemson, a favorite to not only win the conference but also compete for the national title. However, before Syracuse hosts Clemson, the Orange have to get through the Big Ten double-header - home against Penn State, at Northwestern - that they open the season with. This is not exactly the ideal situation to break in a new quarterback and unproven wide receivers. Syracuse may have a slight edge over Pittsburgh when it comes to the depth of their respective divisions in the ACC, but the Panthers have more experience returning on both the field and sidelines and I think they will finish with a better conference record than the Orange this fall. Don't be surprised if this "race" isn't decided until the Nov. 23 meeting between these two in the Carrier Dome.


Related College Football Content

Ranking the ACC Quarterbacks for 2013
Ranking the ACC Coaches for 2013

Ranking All 125 College Football Head Coaches for 2013

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

College Football's Best Assistant Coach Hires for 2013

Teaser:
<p> Syracuse or Pittsburgh: Who Will Have More ACC Wins in 2013?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 07:25
Path: /nascar/nascar-numbers-game-seven-key-stats-kansas-speedway
Body:

Kansas Speedway was the site for one of the weirdest races of the year in 2012. On a newly paved surface with an unfamiliar tire compound, the race offered drama (Jimmie Johnson crashing), comedy (Danica Patrick attempting to wreck Landon Cassill, but wrecking herself instead) and action (Matt Kenseth stormed to the front late in the race – there is more on this below – to scoop up the surprise win).

Statistically, one race is really, really tough for information-gleaning purposes, but we can try. There are a few hot drivers leaving Texas, one under-the-radar performer last year at Kansas and a driver with a lot to lose, desperate for a sound Sunday run.

For PEER and other metrics with which you may be unfamiliar, I refer you to my glossary of terms on MotorsportsAnalytics.com.


56.29%  Kyle Busch is the most efficient passer in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with a 56.29 percent passing efficiency.

The winner in two of the last three Cup Series races is Busch, who also happens to be the most adept navigator through traffic in the new Gen-6 car. Ironically, Texas, the site of his most recent win, served as the only reliable race in which his pass efficiency was negative — 44.12 percent — but he started on the pole and averaged a 1.58-place running position en route to a fairly easy victory. Two of his three best single-race efficiencies, 56.25 percent at Fontana and 55.91 percent at Las Vegas this season came large intermediate tracks on which high horsepower matters, not totally unlike Kansas.


42.5%  Martin Truex Jr. led his first laps of 2013 at Texas, pacing the field for 42.5 percent of the race (142 laps).

He didn’t get the victory, but it was a strong showing for Truex, who has had a forgettable season thus far, finishing 24th or worse in three out of seven races. He heads to Kansas Speedway this weekend with two consecutive runner-up finishes, coming on both old and new pavement iterations of the track. There’s a caveat to that, though…


10.09  He finished second, but Truex only averaged a 10.09-place running position in last fall’s race at Kansas.

Truex is going to receive a lot of attention this week as a win favorite and a fantasy pick, but is the hype to be believed? He wasn’t nearly as polished on the freshly paved Kansas surface as he was on the old track. That 10.09 was the sixth-highest average running spot in a race that was caution-filled and as jumbled as your run-of-the-mill restrictor plate race. He might very well be a contender for the win on Sunday, but he isn’t nearly the lock as many will suggest.


128  Last fall’s Kansas race winner, Matt Kenseth, didn’t take the lead until lap 128. He led 78 laps on way to earning his only non-restrictor plate win of 2012.

I don’t think anyone expected Kansas to be a 1.5-mile version of Darlington. There were 14 cautions for 66 laps, meaning 24.7 percent of the race was run under caution. Patience was key and Kenseth’s approach to the race proved brilliant. None of the drivers that led in the first 100 laps of that race finished in the top 15. It’s not a guarantee that this kind of craziness will repeat itself, but understand that early leaders clearly aren’t impervious to adversity on this fast, frantic track.
 

Teaser:
<p> David Smith crunches the numbers and finds the key NASCAR stats for the STP 400 at Kansas Speedway.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 18:28
All taxonomy terms: MLB
Path: /mlb/10-amazing-mlb-stats-week-april-8-14
Body:

Just two weeks into the season, the sample size is small, but it’s fun to dissect a few notable numbers from the early going. Here are a few from the week of April 8-14.

20    Walks for Joey Votto
The former MVP of the Reds is on pace for 270 walks this season. He has drawn a walk in every game this season save one. In that lone game, he was 3-for-4. But we know that 12 games is a small sample size, and at some point NL pitchers will find a way to pitch to him. Perhaps even more remarkable than Votto’s 20 walks is that the entire White Sox team has but 16. I guess patience at the plate isn’t such a virtue on the South Side of Chicago.

1.82    ERA for the Atlanta Braves
At the end of two weeks, the Atlanta pitching staff has been downright filthy, clearly the main reason the Braves are off to such a hot start. With an ERA of 1.82, the Braves are so much better than the season’s standard. Only three other teams have an ERA below 3.00.

0    Home runs hit last week by teams from Florida
The Tampa Bay Rays have just five home runs on the season, and didn’t go yard last week as they went 1-4 with one rainout (thankfully). It wasn’t any better in South Florida. The Marlins scored just six runs in six games against the Braves and Phillies, winning one and losing five.

2.78    ERA for Miami starting pitchers
Just how bad is the run support in Miami? Bad enough that a few starters may need to be put on suicide watch. The rotation has a respectable combined ERA of 2.78. Their won-loss record is a combined 1-6.

20.1    Paul Maholm scoreless innings
Prior to this season, Paul Maholm owned a 66-84 record in 216 career starts and a 4.26 ERA, primarily with the Pirates. He has averaged 9.6 hits per nine innings and 5.7 strikeouts. This season he has yet to allow a run in 20.1 innings and has found a strikeout pitch. He’s whiffing batters at a rate of 8.9 per nine innings and allowing just 4.9 hits. The lefthander ended the week with 14.2 shutout innings over the Braves’ division rivals Miami and Washington, both games on the road.

39    Scoreless innings for St. Louis pitchers
The St. Louis Cardinals’ pitching staff recently put together a streak of 39 scoreless innings. A stretch that included a shutout over division favorite Cincinnati and two whitewashes of Milwaukee.

33    Scoreless innings for Milwaukee hitters
Ryan Braun broke the string with a two-run homer off of St. Louis reliever Trevor Rosenthal, a clout that also ended the Cardinals’ scoreless streak.

6.09    Bullpen ERA in St. Louis
Just how badly do the Cardinals miss closer Jason Motte? The reliever is out with an elbow injury that could require Tommy John surgery and the shakeup in the St. Louis bullpen hasn’t yielded great results. The starters are certainly carrying their load with a 1.82 ERA and a combined 7-2 record as of Sunday. The bullpen? Well, that’s been sketchy. Relievers have combined for a 6.09 ERA, three losses, no wins and four blown saves in six opportunities.

1.67    Home ERA for Colorado pitchers
It seems that it may not be too tough to pitch in the thin air of Denver after all. Or maybe it has to do with cold — dare we say, frigid — air. It’s a small sample, but in 27 innings at Coors Field, the Colorado staff has allowed just 24 hits and five earned runs. Jhoulys Chacin, Jeff Francis and Jon Garland all chipped in with a quality start and the bullpen allowed just one run in 8.1 innings. On the road, they seem to be more themselves with a 4.92 ERA.

.632    Prince Fielder’s batting average for the week
The hottest hitter in the majors over the past week collected 12 knocks in six games, leading the majors with 11 RBIs over that span. He batted .632 with nine walks and just two whiffs. He finished the week with a .527 OBP and .833 slugging percentage.

-Charlie Miller (@AthlonCharlie)

Teaser:
<p> Just two weeks into the season, the sample size is small, but it’s fun to dissect a few notable numbers from the early going. Here are a few from the week of April 8-14.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 11:15
Path: /college-football/big-12-quarterback-rankings-2013
Body:

With no clear No. 1 quarterback returning for 2013, the Big 12 has an intriguing blend of potential and uncertainty surrounding the most important position on the field.

Oklahoma State’s Clint Chelf ranks as Athlon’s No. 1 quarterback for 2013, but TCU’s Casey Pachall and Oklahoma’s Blake Bell could make a run at the top spot. Pachall missed most of last season due to a suspension, but if he picks up where he left off, the Horned Frogs will have one of the Big 12’s top passing attacks.

Texas Tech’s Michael Brewer, Baylor’s Bryce Petty and Kansas State’s Daniel Sams are three players looking to break out in 2013. Brewer should shine under the direction of coach Kliff Kingsbury, while Sams showed potential in limited work last year.

College football’s 2013 season is still months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about some of the top players in the nation. With spring practice coming to a close around the nation, Athlon will rank the top quarterbacks in each conference. One important note: This is just a ranking of starters and backups weren’t included for this article.

Ranking the Big 12 Starting Quarterbacks for 2013

1. Clint Chelf, Oklahoma State (SR)
With the departure of Seth Doege, Geno Smith, Landry Jones, Nick Florence and Collin Klein, picking the No. 1 quarterback in the Big 12 for 2013 is no easy task. Chelf gets the early edge over TCU’s Casey Pachall and Oklahoma’s Blake Bell as the No. 1 passer, as the senior has pulled ahead of Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh in Oklahoma State’s quarterback battle this spring. Chelf was a third-stringer until injuries forced Lunt and Walsh out of the lineup. In the final six games of last season, Chelf threw for 1,537 yards and 14 touchdowns and led the Cowboys to a 58-14 bowl victory over Purdue. He also finished the year with 162 rushing yards, including 63 in the 51-48 loss to Oklahoma. New coordinator Mike Yurcich was an excellent hire by coach Mike Gundy, and the Cowboys’ offense should remain among the best in the Big 12. If Chelf picks up where he left off in 2012, he should be the favorite to earn first-team All-Big 12 honors this fall.
 

2. Casey Pachall, TCU (SR)
Where to begin? The Brownwood, Texas, native was a highly touted dual-threat prospect coming out of high school in 2009. He took over for Andy Dalton in 2011 and showed fans in Fort Worth why he was such a coveted prospect by finishing second in the Mountain West (to Kellen Moore) in passing efficiency and leading the Frogs to a conference championship. Yet, one month into the 2012 season, Pachall was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and had failed a team-administered drug test. Gary Patterson was forced to suspend his signal caller indefinitely. But the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder’s difficult journey back into the starting lineup is nearly complete after successful substance abuse rehabilitation this offseason. He is a special athlete who will easily reclaim his starting job should he remain on the straight and narrow.
 

3. Blake Bell, Oklahoma (JR)
Not many quarterbacks check in at 6-foot-6 and more than 260 pounds, but that is exactly what the “Bell-dozer” brings to the Oklahoma offense. Certainly, the Wichita (Kan.) Bishop Carroll monstrosity has much to learn about being an effective passer — he has completed just 10 career passes — but he has a strong nose for the goal line. In his short two-year career backing up Landry Jones, Bell has scored more rushing touchdowns (24) than he has pass attempts (20). With an excellent offensive line and loads of typically talented Sooner skill talent, the stage is set for Bell to take Norman, and the nation, by storm in 2013.
 

4. David Ash, Texas (JR)
Many have pointed to issues under center as Texas’ biggest concern since Colt McCoy left town. Plain and simple, Ash, the former Belton (Texas) High star, wasn’t very good as a freshman in 2011. He ranked last among starters in the Big 12 in passing efficiency (108.00) while throwing for more interceptions (8) than touchdowns (4). Yet, Ash showed signs of growth last season as a sophomore, finishing fifth in the QB-rich Big 12 in passing efficiency (153.28). He threw eight more interceptions but, this time, accounted for 21 total touchdowns and more than 2,800 yards of offense. The critics have been hard on Ash for good reason, but he is just now entering his first season as an upperclassman and he should be able to take another step in his development this fall. The 6-foot-3, 223-pound quarterback has plenty of ability, he just needs to mature into a leader who holds his huddle accountable.
 

5. Michael Brewer, Texas Tech (SO)
If you are looking for one of college football’s top breakout players for 2013, look no further than Brewer. The sophomore signal caller takes over for Seth Doege, and high expectations surround the Lake Travis native. Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris tutored Brewer at Lake Travis High School, so stepping into a spread attack like the one new head coach Kliff Kingsbury is installing won’t be much of an adjustment. Brewer only played in mop-up duty last season, throwing for 375 yards and four touchdowns. With Kingsbury calling the plays, along with a solid group of receivers coming back in 2013, look for Brewer to have a monster year in his first as the starter for Texas Tech.
 

6. Daniel Sams, Kansas State (SO)
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder isn’t revealing much about the quarterback battle between sophomore Daniel Sams and junior college recruit Jake Waters. However, one thing is pretty clear: The Wildcats have two options that could start in 2013. Sams played sparingly as a backup to Collin Klein last season, throwing for 55 yards on six completions. He also added 235 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, averaging 7.3 yards per rush. Waters was the NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year in 2012, throwing for 3,501 yards and 39 touchdowns. Sams likely has an edge for the starting job, and his dual-threat ability makes him a dangerous weapon for Kansas State to unleash in 2013.
 

7. Bryce Petty, Baylor (JR)
The junior-to-be from Midlothian (Texas) High hasn’t gotten a lot of in-game experience as his 14 career pass attempts will attest. However, he is extremely familiar with Art Briles' system as he just completed his fourth spring practice with the Bears. Both Robert Griffin III and Nick Florence led the Big 12 in total offense each of the last two seasons, so expectations are high for Petty in his campaign as the starter. The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder isn’t the same type of athlete that his predecessors were, but he has a big arm and plays in an offensive system that is as QB-friendly as any in the nation. If he can efficiently distribute the football to a host of elite playmakers, Baylor can go bowling once again in 2013.
 

8. Ford Childress, West Virginia (FR)
Like many of the teams in the Big 12, West Virginia has a lot of uncertainty surrounding its quarterback situation. Geno Smith departs after a standout senior year, leaving Paul Millard and Ford Childress to battle for the No. 1 spot. Millard has the edge in experience, as he has thrown 34 passes over the last two years. However, the edge in talent is on Childress’ side, as the 6-foot-5 passer was one of the top 150 recruits in the nation in 2012 according to ESPN. The Houston native is the son of former NFL defensive lineman Ray Childress and has all of the physical tools to shine in Dana Holgorsen’s spread attack. There’s a good chance Millard starts 2013 as West Virginia’s No. 1 quarterback. However, Childress is the Mountaineers’ long-term answer and should take over at some point in 2013.
 

9. Jake Heaps, Kansas (JR)
The Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline product is far removed from his recruiting days when he was touted as the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the nation (2010). He originally signed with BYU, but after spotty play in two years, Heaps decided he needed a change of scenery and landed in Lawrence with Charlie Weis. There is plenty of ability in his 6-foot-1, 210-pound frame as he played in all 13 games as a true freshman, throwing for 2,316 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Cougars. But Heaps has to convince the Jayhawks — and Big 12 defenses — that he is capable of completing passes in big-time situations against big-time competition. Improving his career 57.1-percent completion rate will go a long way to ensuring KU is competitive on the field.
 

10. Sam Richardson, Iowa State (SO)
Three quarterbacks made starts for Iowa State last season, but the offense heads into the offseason with some clarity atop the depth chart. With Steele Jantz finishing his eligibility and Jared Barnett transferring, the No. 1 job clearly belongs to Richardson. He saw action in only four games last year and started the final two contests against West Virginia and Tulsa. Richardson’s best performance came against Kansas, throwing for 250 yards and four touchdowns. Against the Mountaineers, he threw for three touchdowns and rushed for 119 yards. Richardson is an intriguing prospect, but there’s still a lot of uncertainty surrounding him in 2013. Putting up numbers against Kansas and West Virginia wasn’t a problem for most quarterbacks last year, and Richardson struggled in the bowl game. With a full offseason to work as the starter, expect the sophomore to turn in a solid performance this fall.


by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)


Related College Football Content

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College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

Big 12 2013 Schedule Analysis

College Football's Pre-Spring Top Heisman Contenders

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

Teaser:
<p> Ranking the Big 12 Quarterbacks for 2013</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 07:29
Path: /college-football/washington-or-oregon-state-who-will-finish-higher-pac-12-north-2013
Body:

The pecking order in the Pac-12 North is pretty clear. Oregon and Stanford should be the top two teams in the division, while Washington and Oregon State are likely battling for third place.

Washington had a disappointing 2012 season, as the Huskies had hopes of being a top-25 team. However, despite a much-improved defense, the offensive line struggled, and quarterback Keith Price was never able to get on track.

Oregon State was one of the Pac-12’s biggest surprises last season, finishing with a 9-4 record and spending a good chunk of the season ranked in the top 25.

Both teams could be top-25 teams in 2013 but expect a close race for third place in the Pac-12 North.

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

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

Washington or Oregon State: Who Will Finish Higher in the Pac-12 North in 2013?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
This is tough, mainly because they both have their strengths and their obvious flaws. I’m going to go with Washington, but I don’t feel strongly one way or another. The Huskies’ defense improved dramatically under Justin Wilcox last season, and only one of his top nine tacklers from last season returning. One of those, Shaq Thompson, is a potential superstar. On offense, I’m willing to accept last season’s inconsistency as an outlier. Keith Price, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Kasen Williams and Bishop Sankey are too good for the Huskies to rank ninth in the Pac-12 in yards per play. A healthy offensive line will be key to putting Washington’s offense back on track. Meanwhile, I’m concerned about Oregon State’s quarterback situation. Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz can both win games, but the Beavers would be better off to have one clear answer at quarterback. I also think the departure of Jordan Poyer, a lock-down cornerback, could be overlooked. This should be the season the Huskies’ get out of their 7-6 funk.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Both coaching staffs deserve kudos for huge turn arounds on the defensive side of the ball a year ago. Both the Beavers and Huskies developed into two of the stingier defenses in the league and should both be able to continue that trend, each could contend in the North in 2013. Yet, Stanford and Oregon are still the cream of the crop in this division, so it seems more likely that these two will be left to battle for third place. With similar schedules likely resulting in at least three Pac-12 losses each — against Oregon, Stanford and at Arizona State — both Oregon State and Washington are left to win tricky swing games if they expect to finish .500 or better in the league. Mike Riley's bunch gets USC and Washington at home while road trips to Cal and Utah are intriguing. Steve Sarkisian's squad has to travel to UCLA and Oregon State while Arizona comes to town early in the year. U of W gets a slight schedule advantage overall that is negated by the fact it will have to face the Beavers in Corvallis. This debate will be settled on the penultimate Saturday of the regular season (Nov. 23) where Oregon State will win a close battle against Washington in the friendly confines of Reser Stadium.

Kyle Kensing, Editor at SaturdayBlitz.com, (@kensing45)
The 2012 season was a return to normalcy for Oregon State. Mike Riley may have been on the hot seat after consecutive losing campaigns in 2010 and 2011, but in winning nine games, last year's Beavers did what Riley-coached teams do best: defy expectations. Oregon State loses some difficultly replaced players, namely cornerback Jordan Poyer and wide receiver Markus Wheaton. However, Riley returns 15 starters. Only three Pac-12 teams return more -- among them is Washington.

Washington is in its own run of consistency, though three straight 7-6 finishes may not be the kind of consistency Steve Sarkisian is seeking. Most anyone following the Pac-12 recently has awaited Washington's breakout campaign. The pieces are there in 2013 for it to finally come to fruition.

On paper, UW is the more attractive pick. The defense improved by leaps and bounds under Justin Wilcox. Bishop Sankey established himself as one of the nation's premiere rushers. If Keith Price can regain the spark he showed in 2011, the UW offense should be among the conference's most exciting.

But precedent favors Oregon State. Riley's continued defying of expectations is tough to bet against. Both teams will factor into the Pac-12 North title race, but OSU finishes ahead of UW. 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
I think Washington and Oregon State both have a strong case to be ranked inside of the preseason top 25 and should have a tight battle for third place in the Pac-12 North. The Huskies return 16 starters from a team that won seven games and lost two contests by three points or less. The Beavers bounced back after a disappointing 2011 campaign, winning nine games and finishing 6-3 in Pac-12 play. Washington has a difficult schedule, catching Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA in crossover play, with road games against Oregon State and Stanford. Oregon State plays Utah, Colorado, USC and Arizona State from the South and hosts Washington and Stanford this year. Even though the schedule is slanted in favor of the Beavers, I think the Huskies will find a way to finish higher in the North Division. A big part of Washington’s struggles last season was its offensive line, which allowed 2.9 sacks per game. However, the offense has too much firepower to struggle in 2013, especially if quarterback Keith Price gets back on track after a subpar 2012 season. The Beavers return most of their core from 2012 but have to replace both starting defensive tackles, receiver Markus Wheaton and cornerback Jordan Poyer. These two teams could finish tied in conference wins next year, but I think Washington edges Oregon State for third place in the North.


Mark Ross (@AthlonSports)
I think these two teams are going to be neck-and-neck pretty much all season, so it wouldn't surprise me one bit if their head-to-head matchup on Nov. 23 decides who finishes above the other. And even though that game takes place on Oregon State's home turf, I am going to take Washington to finish ahead of the Beavers in the Pac-12 North standings this fall. Both teams have quite a bit of talent and experience returning, but in my opinion, the Huskies have a clear edge at the most important position of all - quarterback. Despite Keith Price's struggles last season, there's little denying the senior's talent and potential. His offensive line was decimated by injuries in 2012 and as long as that history doesn't repeat itself, Price should be able to put up some big numbers this season, especially with the weapons he has to work with. In fact, Washington has a chance to be a surprise team in the Pac-12, if not the nation, as its schedule includes the season opener against Boise State, crossover games in the Pac-12 on the road against Arizona State and UCLA - two of the expected South division contenders -  and a home game against Arizona. There also are the Huskies' back-to-back dates with Stanford (road) and Oregon (home) on Oct. 5 and 12, with the Cardinal and Ducks expected to be in the thick of the national title chase. If Price and the offense can do their part and the defense can continue to improve, Washington should not lack for chances to impress and shine in 2013, including finishing ahead of Oregon State in the Pac-12 standings.


Related College Football Content

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College Football's Top Assistant Coach Hires for 2013

Teaser:
<p> Washington or Oregon State: Who Will Finish Higher in the Pac-12 in 2013?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 07:25
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-easts-quarterbacks-2013
Body:

With all of the teams coming and going in the Big East, the conference is clearly one in transition for 2013.

Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater is clearly the No. 1 quarterback in the Big East for 2013 and should be one of college football’s top 10 Heisman contenders. After Bridgewater, there’s a drop-off to the No. 2 option.

UCF’s Blake Bortles and Cincinnati’s Brendon Kay are solid No. 2 and No. 3 options, respectively. And Rutgers’ Gary Nova looks to get back on track after a rough finish to 2012.

The rest of the conference is filled with uncertainty under center, as SMU’s Garrett Gilbert, UConn’s Chandler Whitmer, Memphis’ Jacob Karam, and Houston’s David Piland still have plenty to prove. South Florida’s Bobby Eveld and Temple’s Connor Reilly enter their first year as the full-time starter for their team.

Ranking the Big East's Starting Quarterbacks for 2013

1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville (JR)
After throwing for 3,718 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2012, Bridgewater has his sights set high for 2013. Louisville should be a top-10 team this season, and the Florida native is one of the top Heisman contenders. Despite injuries to his arm and ankle, Bridgewater came off of the bench against Rutgers to throw for 263 yards and two touchdowns, which clinched the Big East title for Louisville. In the Sugar Bowl victory over Florida, he threw for 266 yards and one touchdown. With one of the nation’s top receiving corps coming back for the Cardinals, Bridgewater could record 4,000 passing yards in 2013.
 

2. Blake Bortles, UCF (JR)
In his first full season as UCF’s quarterback, Bortles earned All-Conference USA second-team honors and won MVP honors in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl. He threw for 3,059 yards and 25 touchdowns last year, while rushing for 285 yards and eight scores. Bortles tossed only three picks in 2012 and completed 62.9 percent of his throws. Coming off of a strong sophomore campaign, Bortles can only get better in 2013. With a solid supporting cast around him, the junior could contend for American Athletic all-conference honors this fall.
 

3. Brendon Kay, Cincinnati (SR)
Before the 2012 season, the two-star recruit from Marine City (Mich.) High had attempted eight career passes. But two-thirds of the way through last season, the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder got the call to lead the 'Cats offense and he didn’t disappoint. He started the last five games of the season, winning four of them, including the Belk Bowl win over Duke. He finished the season with 1,298 yards passing, 10 touchdowns, just two interceptions, a sneaky good 306 yards rushing and two more scores on the ground. Switching head coaches from Butch Jones to Tommy Tuberville likely won’t help his dual-threat statistics, but Kay is still plenty capable of efficiently running the new pro-style system to put Cincinnati in Big East — or AAC — contention. Another factor potentially in Kay's favor: Tuberville showed the ability to adapt to his roster by allowing Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege to air it out last season.
 

4. Gary Nova, Rutgers (JR)
The heady pro-style passer from famed Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J., showed strong growth in 2012 in his first full season as the starter. After getting some starting experience under his belt in 2011, Nova threw for 2,651 yards and 22 touchdowns while leading Rutgers to a Big East co-championship last season. He also lit up an SEC team on the road when he threw for 397 yards and five scores in a win over Arkansas. However, Nova also struggled at times, tossing six interceptions against Kent State and losing the final two starts of the regular season — costing the Knights a BCS bowl berth. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound signal caller should take the next step in his development process in his second season under center in Piscataway.


5. Garrett Gilbert, SMU (SR)
The Austin (Texas) Lake Travis product was the No. 3-rated quarterback prospect and No. 9-rated overall recruit in the 2009 class for the Texas Longhorns. And he showed flashes of elite upside when he filled in as a true freshman for Colt McCoy in the BCS National Championship game. However, his career never materialized for the Burnt Orange and he eventually transferred to SMU. Playing right away after graduating in Austin, Gilbert was solid on the Hilltop in his first year. He threw for 2,932 yards, rushed for 346 yards and accounted for 23 touchdowns. He led the Mustangs to a winning record and a bowl game and should be in for bigger things under QB guru June Jones in 2013.
 

6. Chandler Whitmer, UConn (JR)
The redshirt senior-to-be came to Storrs from Downers Grove (Ill.) South via Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kan. He eventually signed with UConn in 2012 and won the starting job a year ago. He got out of the gate extremely slowly — try no touchdowns and five interceptions in his first three games — but showed positive signs down the stretch by leading his team to wins over Pitt and Louisville in November. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder isn’t overly talented and won’t have the same staunch defense at his disposal in 2013 so he will have to take on a bigger and more efficient role if the Huskies expect to return to the postseason.
 

7. David Piland, Houston (JR)
The Cougars quarterback from famed Southlake (Texas) Carroll has dealt with loads of turnover in his Houston career. After working with three different offensive coordinators in three years, Piland enters 2013 with some stability around him. The coaching staff is the same and the offense returns entirely intact (10 starters), so the 6-foot-3, 196-pounder should be able to improve on his 2012 stat line of 2,929 yards, 16 TD, 12 INT, a completion percentage of 57.1, along with 190 rush yards a 2 TD. The key for Piland in 2013, according to head coach Tony Levine, will be playing with more consistency.
 

8. Jacob Karam, Memphis (SR)
Karam was a key pickup for Memphis last season, as he was immediately eligible following a transfer from Texas Tech. In his first year as a starter on the college level, Karam threw for 1,895 yards and 14 touchdowns. He tossed just three picks and rushed for 221 yards and one score. Karam threw for more than 275 yards just once, but he didn’t make many mistakes and was an upgrade for Memphis’ passing attack. The senior faced competition from redshirt freshman Paxton Lynch and junior Eric Mathews in the spring, but managed to hold on to the job. If Karam can take the next step in his development this offseason, Memphis could make a run at six wins in 2013.
 

9. Bobby Eveld, South Florida (SR)
South Florida’s starting quarterback spot is up for grabs this offseason. Eveld and sophomore Matt Floyd were neck-and-neck in the spring, with Eveld finishing with a slight edge. The senior has played in 13 games in his career and has thrown for 837 yards and three touchdowns. However, Eveld has thrown seven picks and has completed just 54.7 percent of his throws. The Tampa native isn’t going to wow anyone with his physical ability, but he is a good fit under new coach Willie Taggart’s offense.
 

10. Connor Reilly, Temple (JR)
The Owls struggled to find the right mix at quarterback last season, as Chris Coyer and Juice Granger both received significant playing time. Reilly has yet to attempt a pass in his first two seasons on campus but enters the summer as Temple’s No. 1 quarterback. The 6-foot-3 passer is a good fit in new coach Matt Rhule’s offense but his lack of experience is concerning for a team that also lacks proven weapons at running back and receiver.


by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)


Related College Football Content

Ranking the Big East Head Coaches for 2013
Ranking All 125 College Football Head Coaches for 2013

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

Ranking the Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

 

Teaser:
<p> Ranking the Big East's Quarterbacks for 2013</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /mlb/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-april-15
Body:

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

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (Apr. 8-Apr. 14):

  Name Pos. Team R HR RBI SB BA OPS
1. Prince Fielder 1B DET 5 2 11 0 .632 1.891
2. Chris Carter* 1B/OF HOU 7 4 7 0 .440 1.420
3. Robinson Cano 2B NYY 6 3 8 0 .500 1.633
4. Starling Marte* OF PIT 7 1 6 2 .423 1.156
5. John Buck* C NYM 5 4 10 0 .238 1.048
6. Austin Jackson OF DET 10 1 5 0 .394 .909
7. Will Venable* OF SD 5 2 8 1 .368 1.297
8. Hunter Pence OF SF 6 2 6 2 .290 .797
9. Justin Upton OF ATL 5 2 4 2 .375 1.214
10. Coco Crisp OF OAK 5 1 2 4 .333 .929
11. Miguel Cabrera 3B DET 7 1 7 1 .333 .956
12. Brandon Phillips 2B CIN 4 3 9 0 .318 1.106
13. Evan Gattis* C ATL 4 3 9 0 .304 1.153
14. Torii Hunter OF DET 7 1 6 0 .423 1.175
15. Matt Adams* 1B STL 3 3 6 0 .625 2.542
16. Alejandro De Aza* OF CHW 6 2 4 1 .333 1.093
17. A.J. Pollock* OF ARI 5 2 5 1 .316 1.105
18. Bryce Harper OF WAS 4 2 5 1 .333 1.059
19. Andrew McCutchen OF PIT 6 1 6 1 .286 .884
20. Josh Donaldson* 3B OAK 5 2 4 0 .400 1.184
21. Chris Johnson* 1B/3B ATL 4 1 4 0 .481 1.074
22. Adrian Gonzalez 1B/OF LAD 3 2 5 0 .417 1.189
23. Nate Schierholtz* OF CHC 5 1 3 1 .400 1.129
24. Jayson Werth OF WAS 4 1 4 2 .304 .795
25. Brandon Moss* 1B/OF OAK 3 2 9 0 .280 .957

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Starling Marte, OF, PIT (54% owned in Yahoo! leagues)
If this kid is around in your league, stop reading and go pick him up this instant. He has a ton of speed and more pop than your average National League leadoff hitter. He should help you in all five categories and won't hurt you in the power numbers. He has some dangerous hitters around him — especially if Travis Snider and Pedro Alvarez can start hitting — and should be a useful fantasy play all season. He also is a solid keeper option.

Chris Carter (36%) or Brandon Moss (46%)?
These two AL West sluggers are similar talents with the potential to hit 25-30 homers. They both offer first base and outfield positional help and both play in tough situations. However, both will hurt your team's batting average. Carter is off to a hotter start, but is a career .222 hitter while Moss is only slightly better at .252. Not only is Moss a slightly better overall hitter but his team's offense figures to be much more dependable all season. If you have to, I'd go Moss over Carter.

Matt Adams, 1B, STL (12%)
If you can afford to stash this guy, do so now. He won't get regular at-bats unless the Cardinals are playing in an American League park or when someone needs a rest. But his 250 at-bats this year could be very helpful. He has raked at every level for both power and average, so if you can handle only using a player twice a week, then jump on this slugger.

Outfield Help
Now is the time to snag some surging outfielders. Seven of the top 10 and 16 of the top 25 hitters last week were outfielders and only nine were owned by more than 70-percent of Yahoo! leagues. That means there is plenty to pick through on the waiver wire. Marte is easily my top choice with Alejandro De Aza a close second. A.J. Pollock is an intruiging choice out in the desert while Adam Eaton is on the DL.

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

  Name Team IP W K ERA WHIP
1. Matt Harvey NYM 22.0 3 25 0.82 0.55
2. Paul Maholm ATL 20.1 3 20 0.00 0.79
3. Justin Masterson CLE 22.0 3 20 0.41 0.82
4. Clayton Kershaw LAD 23.1 2 25 1.16 0.69
5. Clay Buchholz BOS 22.0 3 23 0.41 0.95
6. Hisashi Iwakuma SEA 20.2 2 16 2.18 0.48
7. Cliff Lee PHI 16.2 2 14 1.08 0.60
8. Yu Darvish TEX 19.2 2 28 2.75 0.76
9. Anibal Sanchez DET 19.0 2 21 1.42 0.95
10. Madison Bumgarner SF 20.1 3 17 1.77 0.98
11. Jon Lester BOS 19.0 2 18 1.42 0.95
12. Adam Wainwright STL 22.0 2 24 2.05 1.00
13. Matt Moore TB 11.1 2 13 0.00 0.97
14. Alexi Ogando TEX 16.2 2 17 1.08 1.02
15. Mike Minor ATL 13.0 2 11 0.69 0.85
16. Barry Zito* SF 14.0 2 8 0.00 1.00
17. Jeff Samardzjia CHC 19.2 1 27 2.75 0.97
18. Jhoulys Chacin* COL 18.1 2 11 1.96 0.98
19. Justin Verlander DET 18.1 2 17 1.96 1.15
20. Zack Greinke (DL)* LAD 11.1 1 10 1.59 0.71

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

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

1. Derek Holland, TEX: at Chicago Cubs (Tues.) 72% owned
Holland is finally delivering on his big potential. At least, thus far in two 2013 starts. He has hasn't picked up a win yet, but has allowed just two earned runs in each of his two starts. Look for him to continue his roll against the Cubs.

2. Jamie Garcia, STL: at Philadelphia (Fri.) 65% owned
Garcia tossed a shutout over seven innings on Sunday but his bullpen (ahem, Mr. Boggs) let him down. He will always allow baserunners but has 19 strikeouts in 19 innings and should win plenty of games.

3. Barry Zito, SF: at Milwaukee and San Diego (Tues., Sun.) 63% owned
Zito has yet to allow a run and should continue his excellent start this week with two solid matchups. He won't offer big swing-and-miss totals but should provide plenty of wins and ratio help all season long.

4. Andy Pettitte, NYY: at Baltimore (Fri.) 66% owned
The aging star keeps seeing his starts pushed back and will now go on Friday against the Orioles instead of against Arizona. He may not be a dependable full-time rosterable player, but he can still help your ratios from time to time.

5. Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA: Detroit (Thur.) 73% owned
Iwakuma has been stellar to start the season (the numbers above prove that out) and he has done so against some solid competition — Texas, Oakland and Chicago (AL). He won't be phased by the vaunted Tigers' lineup and he may be much more than a spot starter for your rotation.

Closing Morsels:

Boston went with Andrew Bailey in the ninth inning on Monday instead of Joel Hanrahan. After entering the game with a one-run lead, Bailey promptly blew the save before Mike Napoli drove in the game-winner in the bottom of the frame. Bailey has loads of experience and is worth rostering if you are desperate, but he won't be closing unless Hanrahan's sore hamstring becomes a bigger issue... Edward Mujica looks like he might be the next option to get a shot at closing for the Cardinals after Mitchell Boggs blew Jamie Garcia's gem on Sunday. Mujica's line thus far in 2013: 5.0 IP, 5 K, 4 Holds, 1.80 ERA, 0.80. It's worth a shot at this point... Kevin Herrera is still ahead of Aaron Crow should Kansas City make a move in the ninth. Greg Holland has allowed four earned runs and 11 base runners in 3.0 innings... James Russell and Shawn Camp appear to be in the lead for the Cubs' ninth-inning duty with Kyuji Fujikawa on the 15-day disabled list. No, don't add Carlos Marmol (for the love of God).

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

Teaser:
<p> Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: April 15</p>
Post date: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 15:32
Path: /nascar/penske-racing-awaits-penalties-nascar
Body:

It’s hard to believe that last year Kyle Busch went a whole season and won just once in NASCAR’s top three series: Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Trucks. Why? Two months into 2013, he’s on pace to win 28 times across the board, lead over 2,000 laps in Cup and shatter any Nationwide Series record he hasn’t already.

But it’s the average start for Busch this season, on the Cup side, that’s making the biggest difference. Armed with a league-leading 5.4-place average start, his latest pole became the crucial difference in a tit-for-tat battle with Martin Truex Jr. at Texas. That first stall, a huge advantage on any stop, got him out first on the race’s final caution and made the last few minutes a coronation for a man who’s come full circle. It was at this 1.5-mile oval one and a half years ago when a wreck with Ron Hornaday Jr. in the Truck Series got Busch parked, left sponsor M&M’s questioning it’s commitment and left one of the sport’s most aggressive drivers at a crossroads with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Now? As we awaken this Monday morning, it’s Hornaday involved in the middle of a Truck Series mess, accused of deliberately wrecking another competitor while Busch is sitting on top of the NASCAR world. Funny how things come full circle, right?

Let’s go “Through the Gears” on what we learned from a weekend in Fort Worth …


FIRST GEAR: Texas + Gen-6 = Tough Sledding
You know when the biggest story of a race weekend is a sponsorship issue that is raised before the start of the event, you’ve got a problem. Texas, while giving us some decent racing back in the pack, was every bit the snoozer Fontana was not. The Gen-6 car, credited for improving racing at intermediates in 2013, seemed to take a time machine that morphed it back into the Car of Tomorrow. The second a driver claimed clean air, it was all she wrote, as Busch and Martin Truex Jr. combined to lead 313 of 334 laps. The aero advantage was so pronounced, Truex admitted afterwards that dropping back to second was too much to overcome.

“The race was over when we got beat out of the pits,” Truex said. “The bottom was so fast for a couple laps and I was really worried, honestly, that I was going to lose second because Carl (Edwards) was on the inside of me. I was just somehow able to run (turns) one and two wide open and get him cleared. Just the guy that gets clean air is hard to get. It’s hard to catch (them) in 10 laps.”

Others, like Greg Biffle, used dreaded race-killer terms like “track position” and “aero” Sunday night on SPEED’s Wind Tunnel when describing their struggles to move through the field. Even a flurry of cautions for what seemed like nothing — only three of the seven were caused by accidents — did nothing to tighten a field that, at the 450-mile mark, had only 15 cars on the lead lap. It’s the latest reminder that the Gen-6 is not an automatic miracle worker; week-to-week, there will be some tracks where improvement takes time.

Texas is certainly one of those, which is unfortunate, considering its grandstand capacity produces a six-figure crowd. Goodyear would be prudent to hold a test there before the fall event in the Chase, to come up with a tire that has more pronounced falloff, produces slower speeds and helps reduce aero dependency. Too many drivers were running the same speed, lap after lap, with little chance of being able to gain on anyone else. That produces the single-file parade witnessed Saturday night that hopefully, fans won’t be victim to much more.
 

Teaser:
<p> Reaction from NASCAR's weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.</p>
Post date: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 14:35
All taxonomy terms: Jackie Robinson, MLB
Path: /mlb/look-back-jackie-robinson-and-baseball%E2%80%99s-slow-integration
Body:

Today, MLB celebrates Jackie Robinson Day, honoring the man who broke baseball's color barrier amid tough circumstances in 1947. Perhaps no other man had such a far-reaching effect on the game, and especially future players. But Robinson’s influential life stretched far beyond the game of baseball.

And while Robinson was the first, there were others who came closely behind. Men who endured insults, humiliation and ridicule as well as Robinson, but persevered so that other players previously denied the opportunity to play in the major leagues could enjoy that privilege.

There were few signs in 1947 that this “experiment” by Dodgers owner Branch Rickey would not be a success. So why did it take other teams so long to catch on?

After Robinson had played three complete seasons, just four of the 16 major league teams were integrated. When Robinson was a seven-year veteran, only half of the major league teams had followed the Dodgers’ lead.

Robinson retired after a 10-year career at the end of 1956, and the Philadelphia Phillies, Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox had yet to enlist a player of color at the major league level. It wasn’t until midseason 1959—12 years after Robinson’s debut, and more than two years after his retirement—that Pumpsie Green took the field for the Boston Red Sox, the last team to hold out.

Every April 15, MLB reminds us of some dark times in our nation’s history. But after the heroic stances by Robinson and others, the game—and our country—are much better.

How Each Team Integrated

Jackie Robinson—Brooklyn Dodgers, NLApril 15, 1947

The multi-sport star out of UCLA played first base and hit second for the Dodgers. In his debut, he scored the go-ahead run in the Brooklyn’s 5-3 win over the Boston Braves.

Larry DobyCleveland Indians, ALJuly 5, 1947

The Hall of Famer struck out as a pinch-hitter at Chicago in his first appearance. Unlike, Robinson, Doby didn’t make a single start in the 29 games of his first season in 1947. 

Hank Thompson—St. Louis Browns, AL—July 17, 1947; New York Giants, NL—July 8, 1949

Was 0-4 with an error at second base in his debut with St. Louis. Two years later, he became the first African-American to play for the Giants leading off in the same game that Monte Irvin pinch-hit.

Monte Irvin—New York Giants, NL—July 8, 1949

Drew a walk as a pinch-hitter in his first game, struck out as a pinch-hitter in his second game.

Sam Jethroe—Boston Braves, NL—April 18, 1950

Whiffed in his first at-bat, but later drove in the go-ahead run and homered in his debut, a game in which Hank Thompson of the Giants also went deep.

Minnie Minoso—Chicago White Sox, AL—May 1, 1951

The Cuban Comet made his debut with Cleveland in 1949 and was traded to the White Sox after eight games in 1951. He was 2-4 in each of his first two games with the Sox.  

Bob Trice—Philadelphia Athletics, AL—September 13, 1953

Threw eight innings and didn’t walk anyone, but gave up five runs on eight hits including two homers in the loss to St. Louis. Don Larsen earned the win and took Trice deep in the eighth inning.

Ernie Banks—Chicago Cubs, NL—September 17, 1953

Mr. Cub went hitless and made an error in his debut, but drove in two runs in a win over the Cardinals in the next game. Soon became an all-time favorite in Chicago sports.

Curt Roberts—Pittsburgh Pirates, NL—April 13, 1954

The second baseman tripled off Robin Roberts in his first at-bat. Fluent in Spanish, he is credited with helping Roberto Clemente adjust to life in the majors.

Tom Alston—St. Louis Cardinals, NL—April 13, 1954

Thomas Edison Alston appeared in 66 games for St. Louis in 1954, but just 25 games total over the next three seasons. He was hitless in four trips in his debut.

Nino Escalera—Cincinnati Reds, NL—April 17, 1954

The Puerto Rican singled as a pinch-hitter one batter before Chuck Harmon was called on to bat for the pitcher.

Chuck Harmon—Cincinnati Reds, NL—April 17, 1954

Popped out to first in his debut, but played in 289 major league games, mostly at third base.

Carlos Paula—Washington Senators, AL—September 6, 1954

Struck out in his first at-bat, but doubled in a pair of runs his next time up.

Elston Howard—New York Yankees, AL—April 14, 1955

Howard entered the second game of the season in left field late in the game and singled home Mickey Mantle in his first at-bat. The 1963 AL MVP averaged .296-17-74 from 1958-64 and earned two Gold Gloves.

John Kennedy—Philadelphia Phillies, NL—April 22, 1957

Kennedy pinch-ran for Solly Hemus in his debut. The shortstop played in just five games in the majors, three of them as a pinch-runner.

Ozzie Virgil, Sr.—Detroit Tigers, AL—June 6, 1958

After debuting with the Giants in 1956, Virgil was traded to Detroit in January 1958. He was called up from the minors and was the regular third baseman for a couple of months. He hit safely in his first eight games with the Tigers.

Pumpsie Green—Boston Red Sox, AL—July 21, 1959

Pinch-ran for Vic Wertz in the eighth inning of his debut, finishing the game at shortstop. He had no chances in the field and was on deck when the game ended. He started at second the following day and essentially became the regular second baseman for the remainder of the season.

Teaser:
<p> Celebrating Jackie Robinson Day</p>
Post date: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 13:35
Path: /college-football/mississippi-state-or-ole-miss-who-will-finish-more-sec-wins-2013
Body:

The SEC West is arguably college football’s toughest division. With Alabama expected to be ranked No. 1 in most preseason polls, along with two other potential top-10 teams – LSU and Texas A&M – Ole Miss and Mississippi State will have an uphill battle pushing for a top-three finish in the division.

Ole Miss is riding a wave of momentum after signing a top-five recruiting class, while Mississippi State has made three consecutive bowl games. Both programs are moving in the right direction and won’t be an easy out for the rest of the SEC in 2013.

Considering the offseason movement with both teams, can Ole Miss finish with more SEC wins than Mississippi State this year? Or will the Bulldogs reclaim bragging rights in the state?

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

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

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

Jon Cooper, lead writer and editor Saturday Down South, (@JonSDS)
That’s a loaded Magnolia State question that will cause quite a few black eyes over Thanksgiving dinner, won’t it?

Interestingly enough, these two teams’ SEC schedules are opposite of one another. Ole Miss’ schedule is more front- or middle-loaded, while MSU’s is back-loaded, much like last season. So, for the Rebels, it’s all about how they start out of the gates, and it’s all about how MSU finishes, again.

Ole Miss will wind up with more SEC wins for several reasons. First, they draw Vanderbilt and Missouri in the East and host Texas A&M and LSU in Oxford, two teams they had on the ropes in the closing minutes last season. If the Rebels can survive the brutal four-game stretch of Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M and LSU and come out .500, they have a real shot to move into a dark-horse-type situation in the SEC West. Secondly, the Rebels return 17 starters from last year’s sexy turnaround team. The top passer, pass catcher, rusher and defensive players all return, making this more of a veteran and tested team. And let’s not forget the Rebels will upgrade the defensive line with another year of development on the current roster and the blue chip-prospects from the 2013 recruiting class in Lavon Hooks and Robert Nkemdiche. Thirdly, we’ve seen the mystique surrounding second-year SEC head coaches. Urban Meyer won a championship in his second year, as did Nick Saban at Alabama. Will Muschamp posted an 11-win season last year in just his second season. I’m certainly not saying Ole Miss is ready to make a championship run, but I love what Hugh Freeze is doing with this club. He has certainly breathed life into an exhausted fan base and program. What’s not to like?

Overall, the direction and lack of momentum in the Mississippi State camp is concerning. Starting 7-0 and losing five of the last six isn’t exactly finishing strong. MSU also lost the heart and soul of the defense in corners Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay and linebacker Cam Lawrence. The remorseless five-game stretch – South Carolina, Texas A&M, Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss – to finish the season would test the will of any team.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
This is a great debate that likely won't be decided until Thanksgiving Night when The Magnolia State will be held captive by the Egg Bowl. If all goes according to plan — which rarely happens — both teams are likely to be 3-4 in SEC play entering the 109th meeting between the historic rivals. The Bulldogs have won four straight at home over the Rebels and Dan Mullen is 3-1 overall against Ole Miss, giving Mississippi State a slight edge heading into this year's meeting. Both teams will be solid on offense and both will make a bowl game, but I'll take Hail State to top the Black Bears at home on Turkey Day — and, thus, in the conference standings. 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
The battle for bragging rights in the state of Mississippi is going to be an entertaining battle over the next few years. Dan Mullen has Mississippi State on the right track after three consecutive bowl games, and Hugh Freeze had an impressive debut at Ole Miss, followed by a top-five recruiting class. Both teams should be ranked among the top-40 this year, but I give an edge to Ole Miss in SEC wins. The Rebels have a tough early schedule, which features road games against Vanderbilt, Alabama and Auburn. However, I think Ole Miss will find a way to get to .500 in SEC play, as it can beat Missouri, Arkansas, Auburn, Mississippi State and potentially steal one against LSU or Texas A&M. I think Mississippi State will have a tougher time getting to .500, especially with swing games against Auburn and Arkansas on the road. Getting to 3-5 in SEC play is probably the most likely outcome for the Bulldogs in 2013. For now, it appears the momentum in the battle for Mississippi is clearly swinging in favor of Ole Miss’ direction. 

Mark Ross (@AthlonSports)
Ole Miss went 7-6 last year, Hugh Freeze's first season as head coach and the Rebels are well positioned to be a better team in SEC play than archrival Mississippi State this year. For one, the Rebels return 15 starters who have already spent one year playing for Freeze, meaning they should have an even better understanding of the offensive and defensive systems and what the coaching staff expects. Secondly, there's the matter of each school's conference slate, namely which teams from the SEC East they play. Ole Miss gets Vanderbilt, who continue to improve under James Franklin, and Missouri, who is still getting used to life in the SEC. Mississippi State gets Kentucky, who has a long way to go under new head coach Mark Stoops and South Carolina, a team that should be ranked in the preseason top 10 and figures to battle Georgia and Florida for supremacy in the East and potentially contend for a spot in the conference championship and national title games. Need I say any more? Oh and Ole Miss is bringing in a top-five recruiting class with players who have a great chance of not only playing, but making an impact in their first seasons. It's still early, but at this point things are looking up down in Oxford, Miss., for this fall.

Barrett Sallee, Lead SEC College Football Writer for Bleacher Report (@BarrettSallee)
Without a doubt, it's Ole Miss. The target is on head coach Hugh Freeze's back now after reclaiming state dominance last season and finishing with a top 10 recruiting class. The good news is that the Rebels return 18 starters from a year ago, many of whom will be pushed by the newcomers in the class of 2013. Freeze know how to get the most from his offense, and the addition of several newcomers including wide receiver Laquon Treadwell should pay immediate dividends.

For Mississippi State, it's almost a make or break year. The Bulldogs are 5-21 against FBS teams that finish with eight or more wins under head coach Dan Mullen, and desperately need a signature win. Mullen has done a lot to raise the floor of the program, but really hasn't done much to the ceiling. They need to win now, because Auburn and Arkansas aren't going to stay down forever. If they drop the opener to Oklahoma State in Houston, they'll finish the season dancing around .500.


Related College Football Content

Ranking All 125 College Football Coaches for 2013
Ranking the SEC Head Coaches for 2013

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

College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

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

Teaser:
<p> Mississippi State or Ole Miss: Who Will Finish With More SEC Wins in 2013?</p>
Post date: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 10:55
Path: /college-basketball/early-college-basketball-top-25-2013-14
Body:

The Bluegrass State could be on its way to becoming the basketball version of Alabama.

The football championship hasn’t left the state of Alabama four years, with the Crimson Tide winning the BCS in 2009, 2011 and 2012 and Auburn winning in 2010.

After Kentucky and Louisville won the last two basketball titles, the state could grab a third in a row, but which could keep the streak going? Despite a season that ended in the NIT, Kentucky grabs the top spot in our first look at 2013-14 thanks to one of the highest rated recruiting classes of all time. Louisville loses Peyton Siva, Russ Smith and Gorgui Dieng, but the backcourt could be restocked by newcomers to keep the Cardinals near the top.

Most decisions for the NBA Draft have been made, meaning rosters have taken shape for the most part. One key recruit remains on the table, though, with Andrew Wiggins deciding among Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina. The addition of the forward from Huntington Prep could strengthen title bids for Kentucky and North Carolina while keeping Florida State and Kansas in the mix for conference titles.

Note: College players can enter their names into draft consideration and retain eligibility until April 16. The NBA's early entry deadline is April 28.

Related: Tracking all conference changes for 2013-14

EARLY COLLEGE BASKETBALL TOP 25 FOR 2013-14

1. KENTUCKY
Key players gone: Archie Goodwin, Julius Mays, Nerlens Noel
Top returners: Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, Kyle Wiltjer
New faces: Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Julius Randle, James Young
Buzz: The loss to Robert Morris in the NIT is a distant memory for Kentucky, mainly because most of the key players for 2013-14 didn’t play in the game. The Wildcats will be back in national title contention thanks to a recruiting class that includes six of the top 15 prospects in the 247Sports Composite Rankings. If Kentucky lands top-ranked recruit Andrew Wiggins, Kentucky would have four of the top five prospects. Even if last season went awry, John Calipari has proven he can win a title with freshmen of this caliber.

2. MICHIGAN STATE
Key players gone: Derrick Nix
Top returners: Keith Appling, Branden Dawson, Gary Harris, Adreian Payne, Denzel Valentine, Travis Trice
Buzz: Michigan State is waiting for Payne and Harris to finalize decisions on the NBA Draft, but if they return, the Spartans will be a national title contender. Nix would be the only one of the top seven scorers gone from a team that went 27-9. Payne and Harris are NBA-type talents, the only question is when they choose to go.

3. LOUISVILLE
Key players gone: Gorgui Dieng, Peyton Siva, Russ Smith
Top returners: Chane Behanan, Wayne Blackshear, Luke Hancock, Montrezl Harrell, Kevin Ware
New faces: Anton Gill, Chris Jones, Terry Rozier
Buzz: Replacing the starting backcourt of Siva and Smith will be difficult, but Jones is a big-time junior college recruit who could step into the point guard spot. From Hagrave Military Academy, Gill and Rozier, who didn’t qualify academically for the 2012 class, boost the backcourt. The returning cast of Hancock and Harrell were at their best late in the season, and Behanan had one of his best games of the year in the title game.

4. DUKE
Key players gone: Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee
Top returners: Quinn Cook, Andre Dawkins, Amile Jefferson, Marshall Plumlee, Rasheed Sulaimon, Tyler Thornton
New faces: Matt Jones, Semi Ojeleye, Jabari Parker
Buzz: The losses of Curry, Kelly and Plumlee are huge, but this is Duke. Sulaimon is the top returner. He stood out on the defensive end last season and proved he could carry the scoring load. Cook was a pleasant surprise at point guard for a team that spent most of the season in the top three. Of the newcomers, Parker could fill Kelly’s versatility and Jones could fill Curry’s role as a shooter. Dawkins, who averaged better than eight points per game in each of his last two seasons, returns after he sat out in 2012-13.

5. ARIZONA
Key players gone: Solomon Hill, Mark Lyons, Keith Parrom
Top returners: Brandon Ashley, Nick Johnson, Kaleb Tarczewski
New faces: Aaron Gordon, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, T.J. McConnell
Buzz: Arizona will miss Hill’s leadership and Lyons’ scoring, but Sean Miller can restock a roster. The Wildcats got a major boost for the upcoming season when they landed McDonald’s All-American power forward Aaron Gordon. Hopes are high for Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell to become a floor general at point guard.

6. FLORIDA
Key players gone: Kenny Boynton, Erik Murphy, Mike Rosario
Top returners: Casey Prather, Scottie Wilbekin, Will Yeguette, Patric Young
New faces: Dorian Finney-Smith, Damontre Harris, Kasey Hill, Chris Walker
Buzz: The Gators’ season looks a bit better with Young electing to return to school, but he still needs to become a more dominant player befitting his size. Wilbekin and Yeguette, who anchored the Gators’ in the defensive end, also return. Much will depend on the newcomers. Hill is one of the top point guard recruits to come to Florida under Billy Donovan. Finney-Smith, a McDonald’s All-American in 2011, was one of the top freshmen in the ACC at Virginia Tech, averaging 6.3 points and seven rebounds. With Chris Walker, Florida will have one of the top front lines in the country.

7. MARQUETTE
Key players gone: Junior Cadougan, Trent Lockett
Top returners: Vander Blue, Davante Gardner, Chris Otule, Jamil Wilson
New faces: Deonte Burton, JaJuan Johnson, Jameel McKay, Duane Wilson
Buzz: Marquette returns the top three scorers on a team that reached the Elite Eight and captured a share of the Big East regular season title. Vander Blue played some of his best basketball of the season in the NCAA Tournament. In addition to the returners, Marquette may have a new point guard (Wilson) and two major freshmen in Johnson and Burton.

8. OHIO STATE
Key players gone: Deshaun Thomas, Evan Ravenel
Top returners: Aaron Craft, LaQuinton Ross, Shannon Scott, Lenzelle Smith Jr., Sam Thompson, Amir Williams
New faces: Marc Loving, Kameron Williams
Buzz: Much of Ohio State’s season will depend on how the Buckeyes’ replace Thomas’ prolific scoring. LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith Jr. started to show they were capable of carrying the load near the end of the season, but they need to be ready for bigger roles.

9. NORTH CAROLINA
Key players gone: Dexter Strickland
Top returners: Reggie Bullock, P.J. Hairston, James Michael McAdoo, Leslie McDonald, Marcus Paige
New faces: Nate Britt, Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks
Buzz: James Michael McAdoo, Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston have yet to announce their NBA Draft intentions, but if all three return, North Carolina should return to the top of the ACC. The Tar Heels didn’t find their groove until going to a four-guard lineup so it will be interesting to see how incoming freshman big men Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks impact the rotation.

10. MICHIGAN
Key players gone: Trey Burke
Top returners: Tim Hardaway Jr., Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas
New faces: Zak Irvin
Buzz: Michigan is going to have trouble getting back to the national championship game without Trey Burke. Most of the optimism around the Wolverines for 2013-14 revolves around Tim Hardaway Jr., Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III returning to school. If two or three of them opt for the NBA Draft, Michigan may be a fringe top-25 team.

11. SYRACUSE
Key players gone: Michael Carter-Williams, James Southerland, Brandon Triche
Top returners: Rakeem Christmas, Trevor Cooney, C.J. Fair, Jerami Grant, Baye Keita
New faces: Tyler Ennis, Ron Patterson, Tyler Roberson
Buzz: Replacing the starting backcourt of Carter-Williams and Triche will be challenging as the Orange move to the ACC. Syracuse is counting on incoming point guard Ennis and shooting guard Patterson, who signed with Indiana before going to prep school, to take those roles. Fair is the only returning player who averaged more than 5.1 points last season.

12. COLORADO
Key players gone: Sabatino Chen
Top returners: Askia Booker, Spencer Dinwiddie, Xavier Johnson, Josh Scott, Andre Roberson
Buzz: Led by Roberson and Dinwiddie, Colorado’s roster returns virtually intact after the program’s second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. The Buffaloes struggled down the stretch, but a handful of freshmen played key minutes. This should be Colorado’s breakout season under Tad Boyle.

13. WICHITA STATE
Key players gone: Malcolm Armstead, Carl Hall, Demetric Williams
Top returners: Ron Baker, Tekele Cotton, Cleanthony Early, Fred VanVleet, Jake White
New faces: Kadeem Coleby, Earl Watson, Evan Wessel
Buzz: The Shockers will miss Armstead and Hall from the Final Four run, but don’t forget Wichita State played most of the season without the redshirt freshman Baker. With Early, Baker and Cotton, there’s enough returning to win the Missouri Valley this season. The Shockers should fill their void with two players who redshirted last season -- 6-foot-9 Louisiana-Lafayette transfer Coleby and local 6-5 guard Wessel.

14. VCU
Key players gone: Darius Theus, Troy Daniels
Top returners: Rob Brandenburg, Treveon Graham, Juvonte Reddic, Melvin Thomas, Briante Weber
New faces: Jordan Burgess
Buzz: Five of the top seven players return to VCU, including three who averaged double-figure scoring. Theus’ 2.4 steals per game will be missed in the defensive end, but there’s a lot to like about a VCU team that went 12-5 in its first season in the Atlantic 10.

15. WISCONSIN
Key players gone: Jared Beggren, Mike Bruesewitz, Ryan Evans
Top returners: Ben Brust, Sam Dekker, Josh Gasser, Traevon Jackson
Buzz: Players come and go, but Wisconsin is pretty much automatic to contend in the Big Ten and reach the NCAA Tournament under Bo Ryan. In 2013-14, the Badgers return one of the Big Ten’s most underrated freshmen in Sam Dekker plus a healthy Josh Gasser.

16. TENNESSEE
Key players gone: Kenny Hall, Skyler McBee
Top returners: Trae Golden, Jeronne Maymon, Jordan McRae, Josh Richardson, Jarnell Stokes
New faces: Robert Hubbs
Buzz: The Volunteers came together late in the season, but it wasn’t enough to get in the NCAA Tournament. With the core of Golden, McRae and Stokes, plus a healthy Maymon, this should be the year for Cuonzo Martin.

17. MEMPHIS
Key players gone: Tarik Black, D.J. Stephens, Adonis Thomas
Top returners: Chris Crawford, Shaq Goodwin, Joe Jackson, Geron Johnson
New faces: Kuron Iverson, Nick King, Austin Nichols
Buzz: After winning a Tournament game, going 16-0 in Conference USA and adding another top recruiting class, Memphis has the most momentum it’s had under Josh Pastner. Now, the Tigers head to the American Athletic Conference.

18. CONNECTICUT
Key players gone: None
Top returners: Ryan Boatright, Omar Calhoun, DeAndre Daniels, Niels Giffey, Shabazz Napier, Tyler Olander
Buzz: At 20-10 overall and 10-8 in the Big East, Connecticut had the look of an NCAA Tournament team despite the postseason ban. With nearly everyone returning, the Huskies should be able to realize that goal.

19. NEW MEXICO
Key players gone: Tony Snell
Top returning players: Cameron Bairstow, Alex Kirk, Hugh Greenwood, Demetrius Walker, Kendall Williams
Buzz: Craig Neal was promoted to coach a 29-6 team that returns virtually intact. The Lobos may be the preseason pick to win the Mountain West, but that Tournament loss to Harvard will be tough to forget.

20. INDIANA
Key players gone: Remy Abell, Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford, Cody Zeller
Top returning players: Yogi Ferrell, Will Sheehey
New faces: Noah Vonleh, Troy Williams
Buzz: Indiana can’t help but take a step back with all those losses, but the Hoosiers have recruited well enough to stay in the mix in the Big Ten. The pressure will be on the point guard Ferrell.

21. GONZAGA
Key players gone: Elias Harris, Guy Landry-Edi, Kelly Olynyk
Top returning players: Gary Bell Jr, Sam Dower, Przemek Karnowski, Kevin Pangos, David Stockton
New faces: Gerald Coleman, Angel Nunez
Buzz: The front line takes a major hit without Olynyk and Harris, but Mark Few’s backcourt should be solid.

22. UCLA
Key players gone: Shabazz Muhammad, Larry Drew II
Top returners: Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson, David Wear, Travis Wear
New faces: Zach LaVine, Allerik Freeman
Buzz: Steve Alford is set up nicely in his first season at UCLA with Adams and Anderson returning.

23. KANSAS
Key players gone: Elijah Johnson, Ben McLemore, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey, Kevin Young
Top returning players: Perry Ellis, Naadir Tharpe
New faces: Conner Frankamp, Brannen Green, Wayne Selden
Buzz: Kansas loses its starting five, but it’s risky to bet against the Jayhawks in the Big 12. They’ll find a way.

24. SAINT LOUIS
Key players gone: Kwamain Mitchell, Cody Ellis
Top returners: Dwayne Evans, Jordair Jett, Rob Loe, Mike McCall
Buzz: Jim Crews has the job full-time and a chance to repeat in the Atlantic 10. Replacing Kwamain Mitchell’s 30 minutes per game will be tough.

25. NOTRE DAME
Key players gone: Jack Cooley, Scott Martin, Garrick Sherman
Top returners: Eric Atkins, Cameron Biedscheid, Pat Connaughton, Jerian Grant
New faces: Demetrius Jackson
Buzz: Notre Dame is one of the most consistent programs in the country. Even without Jack Cooley, the Irish have enough back to be a top-25 team.

Also considered:
Alabama, Cal, Georgetown, Harvard, Iowa, Maryland, Virginia, Villanova

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Post date: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/acc-quarterback-rankings-2013
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The ACC has an interesting mix of quarterbacks for 2013. Proven options like Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, North Carolina’s Bryn Renner, Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas should be the conference’s top-three passers for all-conference honors. Miami’s Stephen Morris will have to adjust to a new coordinator to, but he could easily surpass last year’s numbers. Wake Forest’s Tanner Price should benefit from another spring practice to work with a revamped offensive line, along with the return of receiver Michael Campanaro to full strength.

While Boyd, Renner and Thomas appear to be the conference’s top three quarterbacks, there’s a group of wildcards waiting to rise in the rankings.

Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Georgia Tech’s Vad Lee could be breakout performers in 2013, and Syracuse picked up Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen to lead the offense this fall.

College football’s 2013 season is still months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about some of the top players in the nation. With spring practice coming to a close around the nation, Athlon will rank the top quarterbacks in each conference. One important note: This is just a ranking of starters and backups weren’t included for this article.

Ranking the ACC's Starting Quarterbacks for 2013

1. Tajh Boyd, Clemson (SR)
Boyd turned down the NFL for one more season in Death Valley. The senior is one of college football’s leading contenders for the Heisman Trophy and is the overwhelming favorite to earn ACC Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2013. In his first season as a starter in 2011, Boyd threw for 3,828 yards and 33 touchdowns and rushed for 218 yards and five scores. Boyd only got better in his second season under coordinator Chad Morris, throwing for 3,896 yards and 36 touchdowns. He also became a bigger threat on the ground, rushing for 514 yards and 10 scores in 2012. One of Boyd’s best performances came against LSU in the bowl game last year, throwing for 346 yards and leading Clemson on the game-winning drive in the final minutes. Receiver DeAndre Hopkins will be missed, but the Tigers return Sammy Watkins and four starters on the offensive line. As long as Boyd stays healthy, the pieces are in place for Clemson to make a run at an unbeaten record in 2013.
 

2. Bryn Renner, North Carolina (SR)
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound quarterback was one of the top five pro-style recruits coming out of West Springfield (Va.) High School in 2009. He has lived up to the billing and has a chance to have a special senior season in Larry Fedora’s system. Renner already owns multiple school records, like the single-season (28) and single-game (5) school passing touchdown records. He capped his second year under center winning seven of his last nine games and throwing for at least 300 yards in each of his last four contests. The senior's supporting cast won’t be as talented in 2013, but he is efficient — he’s a career 66.7-percent passer and tossed just seven interceptions last year — and has a chance at rewriting the North Carolina record books before he leaves Chapel Hill.
 

3. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech (SR)
Initially a top-100 tight end prospect who didn’t want to play quarterback when he signed with Virginia Tech out of Lynchburg (Va.) Brookville, Thomas is on the verge of becoming the most productive Hokies quarterback in school history. The massive 6-foot-6, 260-pounder set the single-season school record for total offense as a sophomore (3,482 yards) and then broke his own mark as a junior (3,500). He has accounted for 57 touchdowns over the last two seasons and brings a big, powerful running ability that is virtually unstoppable in short yardage or goal line situations. However, he threw 16 interceptions last year after just 10 in 2011, and his efficiency needs to improve across the board. If he eliminates the mistakes, he could easily be the ACC Player of the Year.
 

4. Stephen Morris, Miami (SR)
A mid-level local recruit from Monsignor Pace High School, Morris blossomed as a junior in 2012. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound quarterback set a Miami single-season total offense record (3,415) as well as the ACC’s all-time single-game record with 566 yards against NC State. In fact, he threw for over 1,000 yards (1,002) over a two-game span to finish the month of September last year (436 vs. Georgia Tech). Morris proved to be dependable as well, tossing just seven interceptions in a school-record 421 attempts. With the youth developing around him and the running game improving, the Hurricanes gunslinger is poised for a big senior season this fall.


5. Tanner Price, Wake Forest (JR)
After throwing for 3,017 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2011, Price took a step back on the stat sheet in 2012. In 12 contests, he threw for 2,300 yards and 12 touchdowns and tossed seven picks. The regression in stats was largely due to a struggling offensive line, along with an injury to star receiver Michael Campanaro. Although the Demon Deacons are still trying to find the right pieces on the line, Price should bounce back in 2013. In his career, the Texas native has thrown for 6,666 yards and 39 touchdowns and is completing 57.6 percent of his throws. Price isn’t going to post huge numbers, but expect him to help lead Wake Forest back into bowl contention in 2013.
 

6. Jameis Winston, Florida State (FR)
Winston hasn’t played a snap in a regular season game, but there’s no denying his potential. The redshirt freshman was locked into a tight battle with Clint Trickett for the starting job in spring practice, but Trickett decided to transfer to West Virginia in early May. Winston shined in Florida State’s spring game, completing 12 of 15 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns. There’s a big difference between a performance in a spring game and actual game action in the fall. However, all signs point to Winston’s becoming a star, and the redshirt freshman should be one of the ACC’s breakout players in 2013.


7. Vad Lee, Georgia Tech (SO)
Lee is the next in line to pilot Paul Johnson’s triple option attack. Like Josh Nesbitt and Tevin Washington before him, Lee’s physicality and athletic ability are a perfect match for the Yellow Jackets’ offensive scheme. The Durham (N.C.) Hillside three-star prospect saw his playing time steadily increase last season, as Johnson got more comfortable going to the sophomore. He got 19 carries and threw nine passes in the first six games but carried 77 times for 358 yards and six touchdowns, while throwing 47 times over the final eight games of the year. His playing time last year should help the 6-foot-1, 215-pound junior-to-be immensely as he takes over as the leader of the Ramblin’ Wreck in ‘13.
 

8. Chase Rettig, Boston College (SR)
Rettig quietly had a solid 2012 campaign. In 12 starts, he threw for 3,060 yards and 17 touchdowns – all career highs. In three years with Boston College, the California native has thrown for 6,258 yards and 35 touchdowns. Rettig played well under coordinator Doug Martin’s tutelage last season, but Martin wasn’t retained by new coach Steve Addazio. With the change in coaching staffs, the Eagles will operate a different offensive scheme in 2013, which is expected to lean slightly with the run. Rettig is a better fit in a pro-style attack and isn’t much of a runner (-296 yards in three years). Considering he may not be a good fit in Addazio’s offense, Rettig may have trouble matching last season’s numbers. Although Rettig is coming off a solid season, the potential of Florida State's Jameis Winston and Georgia Tech's Vad Lee pushes him down the ACC quarterback rankings for 2013. 
 

9. Tom Savage, Pittsburgh (SR)
The burly passer from Springfield (Pa.) Cardinal O’Hara was an elite prospect when he signed with Rutgers in 2009. Not only did he start as a true freshman but he was the Scarlet Knights’ Most Valuable Player. However, it didn’t translate to success as a sophomore, and eventually, he transferred to Pitt. Offensive whiz Paul Chryst, however, might have found himself a steal with the large 6-foot-5, 230-pound passer. With a void under center, the strong-armed signal caller has all the tools to take advantage of the opportunity to run Chryst’s offense.
 

10. Anthony Boone, Duke (JR)
David Cutcliffe has built a sneaky good quarterback tradition in Duke with Sean Renfree and Thaddeus Lewis combining for nearly 20,000 yards between them (19,530). The 6-foot, 230-pound quarterback from Monroe (N.C.) Weddington is charged with continuing the Blue Devils aerial success. The redshirt junior-to-be has a big arm and flashed big-time ability in spot duty against Virginia a year ago by throwing for 212 yards and four touchdowns in the 42-17 win. There is no reason to think Boone won’t maintain Duke’s recent run of solid quarterback play.
 

11. Pete Thomas, NC State (JR)
The race to replace Mike Glennon is a tight battle between Thomas and sophomore Manny Stocker. Thomas started for two years at Colorado State before transferring to NC State. In two years with the Rams, he threw for 4,269 yards and 18 touchdowns and completed 64.7 percent of his throws as a freshman. Stocker played in five games last season and threw only two passes. New NC State coach Dave Doeren hired a solid offensive coordinator in Matt Canada, and the receiving corps has plenty of proven options. Thomas was a four-star recruit coming out of high school and if he beats out Stocker, the California native should have a solid season.


12. C.J. Brown, Maryland (JR)
Brown was a victim of bad luck last season. The Pennsylvania native was poised to be Maryland’s starting quarterback but suffered a torn ACL in fall practice. After a year of rehabbing his injured knee, Brown is slated to start 2013 as the Terrapins’ No. 1 quarterback. In 10 games in 2011, Brown threw for 842 yards and seven touchdowns and added 574 yards and five rushing scores. Considering he is coming off a knee injury, Brown may not be asked to run much early in the season. And if he struggles, New Mexico transfer Ricardo Young or sophomore Perry Hills could overtake him for the top spot.
 

13. David Watford, Virginia (SO)
The 6-foot-1, 200 pounder hails from Hampton (Va.) High School in one of the most talent-rich areas of the nation. From the same area as other elite ACC quarterbacks Michael Vick, Tyrod Taylor, Ronald Curry and E.J. Manuel, Watford is expected to rejuvenate the Cavaliers offense. He got playing time as a true freshman, throwing 74 passes in 2011, before redshirting in 2012. He will have to hold off former elite recruit Phillip Sims and redshirt freshman Greyson Lambert to keep the starting job in Charlottesville this year. But Watford has some intriguing upside for a team that finished 93rd in total offense a year ago.
 

14. Drew Allen, Syracuse (SR)
The Orange received a late boost this spring, as Allen chose to transfer to Syracuse and will join the quarterback competition this summer. The San Antonio native is eligible immediately since he graduated early and is expected to start over Charley Loeb and Terrel Hunt. Allen did not start a game with the Sooners during his three years in Norman but ranked as the No. 15 pro-style quarterback in the nation in the 2009 signing class. In three years with Oklahoma, Allen completed 18 of 30 passes for 160 yards and no touchdowns. At 6-foot-5 and 226 pounds, the senior has the size and intangibles to keep Syracuse’s passing attack performing at a high level. However, Allen does not have any starts under his belt and is a wildcard to watch in the ACC quarterback rankings.


by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)


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Post date: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 07:25
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For the first time ever, Athlon Sports is letting fans choose the Georgia Bulldogs cover of our 2013 SEC College Football Preview magazine. Fans can choose between quarterback Aaron Murray and running back Todd Gurley.

Fans can vote once a day through April 22, with the winning cover hitting newsstands at the end of May. 
 
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Post date: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 07:15
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For the first time ever, Athlon Sports is letting fans choose the Texas A&M cover of our 2013 SEC College Football Preview magazine. Two great shots of quarterback Johnny Manziel are available to choose from.

Fans can vote once a day through April 22, with the winning cover hitting newsstands at the end of May. 
 
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<p> Pick Athlon's 2013 Texas A&amp;M College Football Preview magazine cover</p>
Post date: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 07:15
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For the first time ever, Athlon Sports is letting fans choose the Ohio State Buckeyes cover of our 2013 Big Ten College Football Preview magazine. Two great shots of quarterback Braxton Miller are available to choose from.

Fans can vote once a day through April 22, with the winning cover hitting newsstands at the end of May. 

Start voting now!

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Post date: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /golf/adam-scott-wins-masters
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CBS broadcast Ian Baker-Finch summed it up for his elated countrymen: From Down Under to the top of the world.

Adam Scott has his long-awaited first major, and Australia has its long-awaited first Masters, all on the strength of an anchored putter that for much of Masters Sunday had been nothing but dead weight for Scott.

"To make a couple of putts to win The Masters is just an amazing feeling," Scott said in Butler Cabin.

Somewhere, Greg Norman, the star-crossed, tragic figure who let multiple Masters slip away, has to be smiling.

"Part of this belongs to him," Scott said of Norman.

After a weekend dominated by Tiger Woods' unlucky break and unluckier two-stroke penalty on Friday — a turn of events that unleashed a furious social media reaction and threatened to consume golf's greatest tournament in controversy — the Aussies and the Argentine took control on another dramatic Masters Sunday. And after some stumbling and bumbling in the driving rain, we were treated to an electric five-minute stretch at the 72nd hole and a tense, dramatic playoff that totally redeemed the final round, and player who hadn't made anything all day made two hero putts for the ages.

Scott, the author of one of golf's epic collapses at the 2012 British Open, had appeared to find sweet redemption with an electrifying birdie putt on the 72nd hole that unleashed another awkward celebration involving caddie Steve Williams (reminiscent of the Urkel-esque high-five that Williams and Woods shared at the 2005 Masters).

But Cabrera, trailing by one, answered with one of the greatest, clutchest shots in major championship history, a ripped iron approach to three feet that led to the tying birdie.

In Sudden Death, the players matched pars at 18, and after the trip back to No. 10, they matched perfect drives and clutch approach shots. But after Cabrera's putt narrowly missed dropping in the back door, Scott calmly drove home his winning putt, to the considerable relief of an entire nation — not to mention sportswriters who were facing deadlines and worried that darkness might extend this tournament to Monday.

Cabrera came into the 2013 Masters ranked No. 299 in the world — sandwiched between Arnond Vongvanij and Doug McGuigan. But the ungainly, unflappable Argentinian almost grabbed a third major championship, this one even more unlikely than the first two. He remains the only multiple winner whose only PGA Tour wins are major championships

Tiger's Travails
Woods' two-shot penalty following what was judged to be an illegal drop was the talk of much of the weekend. And even after the penalty, Woods entered the final round within four shots of the leaders and one dazzling round away from a fifth green jacket. But a front-nine 37 prevented any sort of momentum, and an inward 33 wasn't nearly enough. "I played well," said the 14-time major champion. "Unforunately I didn't make enough putts and I missed a few shots here and there. I thought if I shot 65 I would have won it outright and it turns out that might have been the number."

Woods' failure to get within two of the leaders prevented a lingering controversy — although some continue to maintain that Tiger should have withdrawn to honor the spirit of golf sportsmanship.

More Masters Heartbreak for Sneds
Third-round co-leader Brandt Snedeker never found his rhythm on Sunday, posting another disappointing Masters finish five years after his final-round meltdown cost him the 2008 green jacket. A crushing 3-putt at No. 10 and a wet ball at 13 ended Snedeker's chances and left lingering questions about his major mettle.

Cinderella Boy
A chubby-cheeked 14-year-old found his way into Butler Cabin as the low amateur and one of the great stories of this Masters. Guan Tianlang dazzled the galleries with his composure and talent and most notably his putter — he didn't three-putt a single green all week. And a slow play penalty on Friday didn't rattle him or detract from his magical performance. "It's not easy to play here, to make the cut and be low amateur," he said. "I think I did a pretty good job this week and can't believe it's over."

Divots
• Rory McIlroy came in feeling confident. He left feeling frustrated. "That's what this golf course is, it's frustrating," he said. "I know I've played good enough golf here to win it at times, it's just a matter of stringing it all together in one week."

• Another pre-tournament favorite, Phil Mickelson, played miserably — his word, not mine. "I just had an off year," Mickelson said. "I don't know what to tell you. I played poorly. ... This is my favorite place to be, my favorite tournament, and one I look forward to the day after it ends. And to perform like this is disappointing. I'm disappointed in myself because I expect a lot more of myself, out of my game and so forth this week."

• Cabrera was bidding to become the first grandfather to win a major, but he wasn't the only seasoned citizen to perform well. 50-somethings Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer both made spirited runs, only to be betrayed by aging bodies and faulty putters.

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Post date: Sunday, April 14, 2013 - 20:03

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