Articles By All

Path: /overtime/kendrick-perkins-drops-32-pounds-new-biggest-loser-winner
Body:

The Biggest Loser winner was revealed last night, but I think we may have a new loser who might be vying for second place.

Kendrick Perkins put on a few pounds last year. He's not the type of player known for lack of effort. The Oklahoma City Thunder player apparently packed on all his 2010 pounds after suffering a knee injury.

But instead of loafing on his couch all summer cramming Twinkies in his mouth and praying for a year-long NBA lockout like a kid hoping for a snow day, Kendrick hit the gym twice a day and dropped all his excess weight.

Perkins told the Associated Press about his workout:

Perkins said he spent about three hours many mornings during the offseason lifting weights and doing conditioning work to help get him out of his knee braces, then he'd get up shots and play pickup games whenever he could. He also hired a nutritionist to help get him slimmed back down to 275 pounds, where the Celtics had him listed at the start of last season.

"I was just eating whatever I wanted. You have to change up your diet a little bit. But there was a lot of things that was healthy on the menu that I actually liked," Perkins said. "I feel a ton better. … It's just a sacrifice you've got to put in. You've really just got to be honest and look yourself and look yourself in the mirror and go from there. [...]

"Obviously, when you get lighter, you move quicker and you jump higher. I've never been a real leaper but I've got some kind of hops now," Perkins said. "It's all good."

OK, so the Biggest Loser winner lost like 250 pounds, nowhere near what Perkins worked off. But still. He should be commended.

So what does this mean for the Oklahoma City Thunder? Maybe they'll play him during crunch time of playoff games now that he's a leaner (and still pretty mean.)

Teaser:
<p> The OKC forward dropped a lot of offseason weight</p>
Post date: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 14:16
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/college-students-guide-boozing
Body:

College Students’ Guide to Boozing
Via: Best Online Colleges blog

Remember the Periodic Table? It's colorful display of all the universe's elements draped every college and high school science class. But were you ever really interested in the symbol for magnesium? No. So here's a much better version of that table.

The College Student's Guide to Boozing takes all the elements of sweet, sweet, alcohol and puts them in delicious Periodic Table form. Starting at the weakest (cider) and going all the way to something called "shit on grass." Which actually sounds more like what you do after you've drank most of this periodic table.

Click on the image to make it bigger.

Teaser:
<p> If you thought the Periodic Table taught you important stuff, you were right.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 08:22
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-15
Body:

We rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Website can give you. Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.

These rankings are our suggestions, but of course as always: You are responsible for setting your own lineup.

2011 NFL Week 15 — Defense/Special Teams Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Athlon Sports Week 15 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

DEFENSIVE SCORING
0 points allowed = 12 points
1-6 points allowed = 10 points
7-13 points allowed = 8 pts
14-20 points allowed = 6 points
21-27 points allowed = 2 pts
28+ points allowed = 0 points
Safeties = 2 points
Fumbles recovered = 2 points
Interceptions = 2 points
Sacks = 1 point
Defensive/Special Teams TDs = 6 points

Rk Player OPPONENT
1 Chicago Bears vs. SEA
2 Green Bay Packers at KC
3 Pittsburgh Steelers at SF
4 Baltimore Ravens at SD
5 Cincinnati Bengals at STL
6 San Francisco 49ers vs. PIT
7 Houston Texans vs. CAR
8 Detroit Lions at OAK
9 New York Jets at PHI
10 Dallas Cowboys at TB (Saturday)
11 Atlanta Falcons vs. JAC (Thursday)
12 Tennessee Titans at IND
13 Seattle Seahawks at CHI
14 Arizona Cardinals vs. CLE
15 Philadelphia Eagles vs. NYJ
16 Miami Dolphins at BUF

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 07:50
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-kicker-rankings-week-15
Body:

We rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Website can give you. Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.

These rankings are our suggestions, but of course as always: You are responsible for setting your own lineup.

2011 NFL Week 15 — Kicker Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Athlon Sports Week 15 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

KICKER SCORING
PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 John Kasay NO at MIN
2 Dan Bailey DAL at TB (Saturday)
3 Stephen Gostkowski NE at DEN
4 David Akers SF vs. PIT
5 Mason Crosby GB at KC
6 Billy Cundiff BAL at SD
7 Sebastian Janikowski OAK vs. DET
8 Neil Rackers HOU vs. CAR
9 Jason Hanson DET at OAK
10 Robbie Gould CHI vs. SEA
11 Nick Novak SD vs. BAL
12 Mike Nugent CIN at STL
13 Rob Bironas TEN at IND
14 Matt Prater DEN vs. NE
15 Alex Henery PHI vs. NYJ
16 Lawrence Tynes NYG vs. WAS

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 07:41
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-wide-receiver-rankings-week-15
Body:

We rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Website can give you. Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.

These rankings are our suggestions, but of course as always: You are responsible for setting your own lineup.

2011 NFL Week 15 — Wide Receiver Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Athlon Sports Week 15 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Wes Welker NE at DEN
2 Calvin Johnson DET at OAK
3 Hakeem Nicks NYG vs. WAS
4 Jordy Nelson GB at KC
5 Roddy White ATL vs. JAC (Thursday)
6 Larry Fitzgerald ARI vs. CLE
7 Marques Colston NO at MIN
8 Steve Smith CAR at HOU
9 Percy Harvin MIN vs. NO
10 Mike Wallace PIT at SF
11 A.J. Green CIN at STL
12 Brandon Marshall MIA at BUF
13 Vincent Jackson SD vs. BAL
14 Miles Austin DAL at TB (Saturday)
15 Dwayne Bowe KC vs. GB
16 Victor Cruz NYG vs. WAS
17 Dez Bryant DAL at TB (Saturday)
18 Steve Johnson BUF vs. MIA
19 Brandon Lloyd STL vs. CLE
20 Julio Jones ATL vs. JAC (Thursday)
21 Santana Moss WAS at NYG
22 Anquan Boldin BAL at SD
23 Antonio Brown PIT at SF
24 DeSean Jackson PHI vs. NYJ
25 Laurent Robinson DAL at TB (Saturday)
26 Santonio Holmes NYJ at PHI
27 Michael Crabtree SF vs. PIT
28 Mike Williams TB vs. DAL (Saturday)
29 James Jones GB at KC
30 Nate Washington TEN at IND
31 Demaryius Thomas DEN vs. NE
32 Pierre Garcon IND vs. TEN
33 Doug Baldwin SEA at CHI
34 Eric Decker DEN vs. NE
35 Mario Manningham NYG vs. WAS
36 Lance Moore NO at MIN
37 Jabar Gaffney WAS at NYG
38 Plaxico Burress NYJ at PHI
39 Damian Williams TEN at IND
40 Torrey Smith BAL at SD
41 Jeremy Maclin PHI vs. NYJ
42 Malcom Floyd SD vs. BAL
43 Darrius Heyward-Bey OAK vs. DET
44 Titus Young DET at OAK
45 Reggie Wayne IND vs. TEN
46 Deion Branch NE at NE
47 Riley Cooper PHI vs. NYJ
48 Nate Burleson DET at OAK
49 Johnny Knox CHI vs. SEA
50 Greg Little CLE at ARI
51 David Nelson BUF vs. MIA
52 Early Doucet ARI vs. CLE
53 Kevin Walter HOU vs. CAR
54 Davone Bess MIA at BUF
55 Jerome Simpson CIN at STL
56 Arrelious Benn TB vs. DAL (Saturday)
57 Vincent Brown SD vs. BAL
58 Golden Tate SEA at CHI
59 Earl Bennett CHI vs. SEA
60 Steve Breaston KC vs. GB
61 Robert Meachem NO at MIN
62 Harry Douglas ATL vs. JAC (Thursday)
63 Legedu Naane CAR at HOU
64 Jacoby Jones HOU vs. CAR

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 07:35
Path: /college-football/best-big-12-teams-bcs-era
Body:

The BCS is wrapping up its 14th season of action and Athlon has dissected the numbers and reviewed the tapes of all six BCS conferences in order to rank the best each league has had to offer. Which Oklahoma team was the best of the decade? Which Florida team was the toughest to stop? How do you rank the Florida State teams of the late 90s? Which Miami team was the best? How about those loaded USC teams? Alabama vs. Auburn?

The debates will most assuredly rage on for decades, but here is Athlon's two cents. Here are the Top 10 Big 12 teams of the BCS Era (1998-present, not including this season’s teams):

"First Day" indicates 1st and 2nd round NFL Draft picks
* - team played in the Big 12 Championship game

10. Nebraska Cornhuskers, 2001 (11-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Frank Solich
Championships: Big 12 North (shared)
Key Stats: No. 1 in nation in rushing offense (314.7 ypg), no. 7 in scoring offense (37.4 ppg), no. 6 in scoring defense (15.8 ppg), no. 8 in total defense (287.2 ypg) and no. 9 in pass defense (170.3 ypg), Eric Crouch no. 10 in nation in scoring (19 TDs, 9.7 ppg)
Award Winners: Eric Crouch (Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, Davey O’Brien Award, Heisman Trophy, Walter Camp Award), Frank Solich (Big 12 oach of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks (3): Toniu Fonoti (2nd, 2002), Chris Kelsay (2nd, 2003), Barrett Ruud (2nd, 2005)

Quarterback Eric Crouch, who would be awarded the Heisman Trophy at season’s end, had Nebraska’s option-oriented offense humming from the start as this Cornhuskers team breezed through its first 11 games. Following Nebraska’s 20-10 victory over No. 2 Oklahoma in Lincoln on Oct. 27, Nebraska found itself ranked No. 2 in the country and on the verge of a spot in the Big 12 Championship game. Then on Nov. 23 the Cornhuskers got blindsided by Colorado 62-36 in Boulder, which put the Buffaloes in the Big 12 title game instead of Nebraska. Colorado would go on to defeat Texas 39-37 for the Big 12 title, but it was Nebraska who was selected for the Rose Bowl and national championship game, and not Colorado, because of the Cornhuskers’ strength of schedule. Who the opponent was would matter little to No. 1 Miami, as the Hurricanes jumped out a 34-0 lead in the first half and cruised to a 37-14 victory over Nebraska.

9. Nebraska Cornhuskers, 1999 (12-1, 7-1*)
Head Coach: Frank Solich
Championships: Big 12 North, Big 12, Fiesta Bowl
Key Stats: No. 3 in nation in scoring defense (12.5 ppg), no. 4 in total defense (252.3 ypg), no. 2 in passing defense (175.2 ypg), no. 6 in rushing defense (77.1 ypg), no. 4 in rushing offense (265.9 ypg),
Award Winners: Eric Crouch (Big 12 Co-Offensive Player of the Year, Fiesta Bowl MVP), Frank Solich (Big 12 Coach of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks (4): Mike Brown (2nd, 2000), Toniu Fonoti (2nd, 2002), Dominic Raiola (2nd, 2001), Kyle Vanden Bosch (2nd, 2001)

Nebraska’s Blackshirts were in fine form to start the 1999 season as the Cornhuskers’ defense gave up 14 or fewer points the first six games. Texas put 24 on the board against them in Austin as the No. 18 Longhorns upset the third-ranked Cornhuskers on Oct. 23. Nebraska would rebound from that loss to win its next four by a combined score of 135-62, setting up a rematch against No. 12 Texas in the Big 12 Championship. This time the Cornhuskers won 22-6 and then ended the season with a 31-21 victory over No. 6 Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl.

8. Texas Longhorns, 2008 (12-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Mack Brown
Championships: Fiesta Bowl
Key Stats: No. 5 in nation in scoring offense (42.4 ppg), no. 2 in passing efficiency, no. 3 in rushing defense (83.5 ypg), no. 1 in sacks (3.6 pg), Colt McCoy no. 5 in total offense (340 ypg), no. 3 in passing efficiency, Brian Orakpo no. 6 in sacks
Award Winners: Colt McCoy (Archie Griffin Award, Big 12 Offensive MVP, Fiesta Bowl Offensive MVP, Walter Camp Award), Roy Miller (Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP), Brian Orakpo (Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks (5): Earl Thomas (1st, 2010), Lamarr Houston (2nd, 2010), Brian Orakpo (1st, 2009), Sergio Kindle (2nd, 2010), Aaron Williams (2nd, 2011)

This Texas team was firing on all cylinders out of the gate. Led by quarterback Colt McCoy, who would end up finishing second in the Heisman Trophy voting to Sam Bradford, his counterpart from Oklahoma, the Longhorns scored 38 or more points in their first seven games. Included in this streak was a 45-35 win over No. 1 Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry that not only put Texas atop the polls, but also in the driver’s seat for a spot in the Big 12 Championship and potentially, the national championship. However, Texas Tech would have something to say about that as the Red Raiders knocked off the Longhorns 39-33 in Lubbock just three weeks after the Oklahoma game. That resulted in a three-way tie atop the Big 12 South. Oklahoma got to play in the Big 12 Championship by virtue of a higher BCS ranking, while Texas was left out and had to settle for a spot in the Fiesta Bowl. While the Fiesta Bowl may not have been the postseason spot it had initially hoped for, Texas didn’t let that get in the way of its performance on the field, defeating No. 10 Ohio State 24-21 and setting the stage for its national title run the following season.

7. Texas Longhorns, 2004 (11-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Mack Brown
Championships: Rose Bowl
Key Stats: No. 2 in nation in rushing offense (299.2 ypg), no. 7 in total offense (464.4 ypg), Cedric Benson no. 4 in nation in rushing (152.8 ypg), no. 7 in all-purpose yards (167.8 ypg) and scoring (20 TDs, 10.0 ppg)
Award Winners: Cedric Benson (Doak Walker Award), Derrick Johnson (Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Butkus Award, Nagurski Trophy), Vince Young (Rose Bowl Offensive MVP)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks (9): Cedric Benson (1st, 2005), Michael Griffin (1st, 2007), Michael Huff (1st, 2006), Derrick Johnson (1st, 2005), Aaron Ross (1st, 2007), Vince Young (1st, 2006), Justin Blalock (2nd, 2007), Tim Crowder (2nd, 2007), Cedric Griffin (2nd, 2006),

Led by All-American running back Cedric Benson and young quarterback Vince Young, this Texas team dominated the ground game, rushing for almost 300 yards per game. Texas’ lone loss of the season was a big one, as the Longhorns fell to No. 2 Oklahoma 12-0 in the Red River Rivalry, which kept Texas out of the Big 12 title game. Texas still received a spot in a BCS bowl as they were sent to the Rose Bowl to face No. 12 Michigan. Down by 10 at the start of the fourth quarter, Young scored twice and then led his team down the field to set up the game-winning field goal as time expired in the Longhorns’ 38-37 victory over the Wolverines. For the game, Young rushed for 192 yards and was responsible for all five (four rushing, one passing) of Texas’ touchdowns, earning what would be the first of his consecutive Rose Bowl Offensive MVP awards.

6. Oklahoma Sooners, 2003 (12-2, 8-0*)
Head Coach: Bob Stoops
Championships: Big 12 South
Key Stats: No. 3 in the nation in scoring offense (42.9 ppg), no. 5 in scoring defense (15.3 ppg), no. 3 in total defense (259.6 ypg), no. 2 in pass defense (146.4 ypg)
Award Winners: Tommie Harris (Lombardi Award), Teddy Lehman (Bednarik Award, Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Butkus Award), Derrick Strait (Thorpe Award), Bob Stoops (Big 12 Coach of the Year, Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year, Walter Camp National Coach of the Year, Woody Hayes National Coach of the Year), Jason White (AP Player of the Year, Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, Davey O’Brien Award, Heisman Trophy)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks (8): Jammal Brown (1st, 2005), Mark Clayton (1st, 2005), Tommie Harris (1st, 2004), Davin Joseph (1st, 2006), Mark Bradley (2nd, 2005), Dan Cody (2nd, 2005), Teddy Lehman (2nd, 2004), Brodney Pool (2nd, 2005)

Outside of a seven-point win against Alabama on the road, this Oklahoma team, which featured seven All-Americans and 11 first team All Big 12 members, was not challenged in its first 12 games of the season, winning by an average of more than 35 points per game. The offense, led by Heisman Trophy winner Jason White, scored 34 or more points in all but two games, including seven games with 52 or more points. The defense headlined by defensive lineman Tommie Harris, linebacker Teddy Lehman and defensive back Derrick Strait held every opponent to 28 points or less and gave up three or less three times. The Sooners’ train almost completely went off of the tracks after getting pummeled by No. 10 Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship 35-7. Even though the Sooners dropped to No. 3 in both of the human polls, they kept their No. 1 BCS ranking putting them in the Sugar Bowl against No. 2 LSU. For the second straight game, however, Oklahoma’s offense could not get on track as White had one of the worst games of his career. LSU’s defense held White to just 102 yards passing and picked him off twice, returning one of them for a touchdown as the Tigers defeated the Sooners 21-14 and won the national title, or at least according to the coaches’ poll.

5. Texas Longhorns, 2009 (13-1, 8-0*)
Head Coach: Mack Brown
Championships: Big 12 South, Big 12
Key Stats: No. 3 in the nation in scoring offense (39.3 ppg), no. 3 in total defense (251.9 ypg) and rushing defense (72.4 ypg), tied for second in sacks (3.1 pg),
Award Winners: Mack Brown (Big 12 Coach of the Year), Colt McCoy (Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, Davey O’Brien Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Manning Award, Maxwell Award, Sporting News College Athlete of the Year, Walter Camp Award)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks (4): Earl Thomas (1st, 2010), Lamarr Houston (2nd, 2010), Sergio Kindle (2nd, 2010), Aaron Williams (2nd, 2011)

This Texas team started the season ranked No. 2 and finished it there as the Longhorns rolled through the regular season and Big 12 undefeated. The offense, led by quarterback Colt McCoy and wide receiver Jordan Shipley, put plenty of points on the board, while the defense, led by defensive lineman Lamarr Houston, linebacker Sergio Kindle and defensive back Earl Thomas, kept the opposing team out of the end zone. Texas’ championship dreams were almost dashed by Ndamukong Suh and Nebraska as the Cornhuskers put up a fight in the Big 12 Championship game. The Longhorns escaped, 13-12, thanks to a last-second field goal and went on to face No.1 Alabama in the BCS title game. Unfortunately, for the Longhorns, McCoy went down early with an injury, forcing them to play with an inexperienced quarterback. That and the Crimson Tide’s punishing running game were too much to overcome as Texas fell to Alabama 37-21.

2009 Schedule:

Sept. 5: Texas 59, Louisiana-Monroe 20 (Austin, TX)
Sept. 12: Texas 41, Wyoming 10 (Laramie, WY)
Sept. 19: Texas 34, Texas Tech 24 (Austin, TX)
Sept. 26: Texas 64, UTEP 7 (Austin, TX)
Oct. 10: Texas 38, Colorado 14 (Austin, TX)
Oct. 17: Texas 16, (#20) Oklahoma 13 (Dallas, TX)
Oct. 24: Texas 41, Missouri 7 (Columbia, MO)
Oct. 31: Texas 41, (#14) Oklahoma State 14 (Stillwater, OK)
Nov. 7: Texas 35, UCF 3 (Austin, TX)
Nov. 14: Texas 47, Baylor 14 (Waco, TX)
Nov. 21: Texas 51, Kansas 20 (Austin, TX)
Nov. 26: Texas 49, Texas A&M 39 (College Station, TX)
Dec. 5: Texas 13, (#22) Nebraska 12 (Big 12 Championship – Arlington, TX)
Jan. 7: (#1) Alabama 37, Texas 21 (BCS National Championship)

4. Oklahoma Sooners, 2008 (12-2, 7-1*)
Head Coach: Bob Stoops
Championships: Big 12 South (shared), Big 12
Key Stats: NCAA record 716 points scored, no. 3 in nation in both total offense (349.4 ypg) and passing offense (349.4 ypg), no. 1 in passing efficiency, no. 1 in turnover margin (+1.64), Sam Bradford no. 1 in passing efficiency and no. 4 in total offense (340.5 ypg), Bradford also set school single-season records for yards (4,720), touchdown passes (50) and passing efficiency, DeMarco Murray no. 8 in all-purpose yards (167 ypg)
Award Winners: Sam Bradford (AP Player of the Year, Sammy Baugh Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Heisman Trophy), Bob Stoops (Big 12 Coach of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks (5): Sam Bradford (1st, 2010), Jermaine Gresham (1st, 2010), Phil Loadholt (1st, 2009), Gerald McCoy (1st, 2010), Trent Williams (1st, 2010)

The highest-scoring team in NCAA history, this Oklahoma team scored no less than 35 points prior to the BCS National Championship game against Florida. Quarterback Sam Bradford rewrote the Oklahoma record books on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy. Oklahoma fell to No. 5 Texas, 45-35, in the Red River Rivalry, and ended up tied for first in the Big 12 South with the Longhorns and Texas Tech at 7-1. The Sooners ended up representing the Big 12 South in the Big 12 Championship thanks to a higher BCS ranking over the Longhorns and Red Raiders. After destroying Missouri in the Big 12 Championship, the No. 1 Sooners faced off against No. 2 Florida in the BCS title game. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, who finished third to Bradford in the Heisman voting, threw two touchdown passes and the Gators’ defense held the potent Sooners offense to just two touchdowns to deny Oklahoma its eighth national title, defeating the Sooners 24-14.

2008 Schedule:

Aug. 30: Oklahoma 57, Chattanooga 2 (Norman, OK)
Sept. 6: Oklahoma 52, Cincinnati 26 (Norman, OK)
Sept. 13: Oklahoma 55, Washington 14 (Seattle, WA)
Sept. 27: Oklahoma 35, (#24) TCU 14 (Norman, OK)
Oct. 4: Oklahoma 49, Baylor 17 (Waco, TX)
Oct. 11: (#5) Texas 45, Oklahoma 35 (Dallas, TX)
Oct. 18: Oklahoma 45, (#16) Kansas 31 (Norman, OK)
Oct. 25: Oklahoma 58, Kansas State 35 (Manhattan, KS)
Nov. 1: Oklahoma 62, Nebraska 28 (Norman, OK)
Nov. 8: Oklahoma 66, Texas A&M 28 (College Station, TX)
Nov. 22: Oklahoma 65, (#2) Texas Tech 21 (Norman, OK)
Nov. 29: Oklahoma 61, (#12) Oklahoma State 41 (Stillwater, OK)
Dec. 6: Oklahoma 62, (#20) Missouri 21 (Big 12 Championship – Kansas City, MO)
Jan. 8: (#2) Florida 24, Oklahoma 14 (BCS National Championship)

3. Oklahoma Sooners, 2004 (12-1, 8-0*)
Head Coach: Bob Stoops
Championships: Big 12 South, Big 12
Key Stats: No. 8 in nation in total offense (462.1 ypg), no. 6 in rushing defense (94.6 ypg), Adrian Peterson no. 6 in nation in rushing (148.1 ypg) and no. 15 in all-purpose yards (149 ypg) as a freshman
Award Winners: Jammal Brown (Outland Trophy), Jason White (Davey O’Brien Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Maxwell Award)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks (7): Jammal Brown (1st, 2005), Mark Clayton (1st, 2005), Davin Joseph (1st, 2006), Adrian Peterson (1st, 2007), Mark Bradley (2nd, 2005), Dan Cody (2nd, 2005), Brodney Pool (2nd, 2005)

This Oklahoma team lived up to its preseason ranking of No. 2, rolling through the regular season undefeated. The Sooners were led on offense by reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jason White, freshman running back Adrian Peterson and an offensive line headlined by Outland winner Jammal Brown. All told, the Sooners’ roster featured five All-Americans and 10 All Big 12 selections. Oklahoma matched up with No. 1 USC in the Orange Bowl in a game that featured two Heisman Trophy winners in White and Trojans quarterback Matt Leinart, and two of the best running backs in the nation in Peterson and USC’s Reggie Bush. Unfortunately for the Sooners, the match up on paper didn’t play out on the field, as the Trojans dominated from start to finish, easily beating Oklahoma 55-19. Six years after the game, in June 2010, USC was forced to vacate two wins from its 2004 season, including the Orange Bowl game, after the NCAA ruled that it had used an ineligible player (Bush) among other violations.

2004 Schedule:

Sept. 4: Oklahoma 40, Bowling Green 24 (Norman, OK)
Sept. 11: Oklahoma 63, Houston 13 (Norman, OK)
Sept. 18: Oklahoma 31, Oregon 7 (Norman, OK)
Oct. 2: Oklahoma 28, Texas Tech 13 (Norman, OK)
Oct. 9: Oklahoma 12, (#5) Texas 0 (Dallas, TX)
Oct. 16: Oklahoma 31, Kansas State 21 (Manhattan, KS)
Oct. 23: Oklahoma 41, Kansas 10 (Norman, OK)
Oct. 30: Oklahoma 38, (#20) Oklahoma State 35 (Stillwater, OK)
Nov. 6: Oklahoma 42, (#22) Texas A&M 35 (College Station, TX)
Nov. 13: Oklahoma 30, Nebraska 3 (Norman, OK)
Nov. 20: Oklahoma 35, Baylor 0 (Waco, TX)
Dec. 4: Oklahoma 42, Colorado 3 (Big 12 Championship – Kansas City, MO)
Jan. 4: (#1) USC 55, Oklahoma 19 (Orange Bowl, National Championship)

2. Oklahoma Sooners, 2000 (13-0, 8-0*)
Head Coach: Bob Stoops
Championships: Big 12 South, Big 12, Orange Bowl, National
Key Stats: No. 7 in nation in both scoring offense (39 ppg) and scoring defense (16 ppg), no. 8 in total defense (278.9 ypg), no. 9 in pass defense (170.5 ypg) and no. 2 in pass efficiency defense, Josh Heupel no. 6 in nation in total offense (294.7 ypg)
Award Winners: Josh Heupel (AP Player of the Year, Big 12 Player of the Year, Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, Walter Camp Award), Bob Stoops (AP National Coach of the Year, Big 12 Coach of the Year, Eddie Robinson/FWAA Coach of the Year, Paul “Bear” Bryant Award, Walter Camp National Coach of the Year, Woody Hayes National Coach of the Year), J.T. Thatcher (Mosi Tatupu Award — national Special Teams Player of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks (3): Roy Williams (1st, 2002), Andre Woolfolk (1st, 2003), Teddy Lehman (2nd, 2004)

This Sooners team entered the season ranked No. 19 in the country, but fueled by an impressive three-game stretch in October, it ended the season ranked considerably higher. Behind quarterback and Heisman Trophy runner-up Josh Heupel and a stingy defense, the Sooners started October by destroying No. 11 Texas in the Red River Rivalry and then out-scored No. 2 Kansas State on the road and two weeks later dominated No. 3 Nebraska at home to vault to the top of the rankings. The Sooners would defeat Kansas State a second time in the Big 12 Championship to set up a showdown with No. 3 Florida State (No. 2 in the BCS standings) in the Orange Bowl. Even though they were playing in their home state, the Seminoles’ potent offense, led by quarterback and Heisman winner Chris Weinke, was held in check and scoreless by the Sooners defense in the lowest scoring Orange Bowl in 30 years. Fittingly enough, linebacker Torrance Marshall, who had six tackles and an interception (which ranks as the no. 4 Greatest BCS National Championship Performance), took home MVP honors as Oklahoma defeated Florida State 13-2 to capture its seventh national championship and first since 1985.

2000 Schedule:

Sept. 2: Oklahoma 55, UTEP 14 (Norman, OK)
Sept. 9: Oklahoma 45, Arkansas State 7 (Norman, OK)
Sept. 23: Oklahoma 42, Rice 17 (Norman, OK)
Sept. 30: Oklahoma 34, Kansas 16 (Norman, OK)
Oct. 7: Oklahoma 63, (#11) Texas 14 (Dallas, TX)
Oct. 14: Oklahoma 41, (#2) Kansas State 31 (Manhattan, KS)
Oct. 28: Oklahoma 31, (#3) Nebraska 14 (Norman, OK)
Nov. 4: Oklahoma 56, Baylor 7 (Waco, TX)
Nov. 11: Oklahoma 35, (#23) Texas A&M 31 (College Station, TX)
Nov. 18: Oklahoma 27, Texas Tech 13 (Norman, OK)
Nov. 25: Oklahoma 12, Oklahoma State 7 (Stillwater, OK)
Dec. 2: Oklahoma 27, (#8) Kansas State 24 (Big 12 Championship – Kansas City, MO)
Jan. 3: Oklahoma 13, (#3) Florida State 2 (Orange Bowl, National Championship)

1. Texas Longhorns, 2005 (13-0, 8-0*)
Head Coach: Mack Brown
Championships: Big 12 South, Big 12, Rose Bowl, National
Key Stats: School record 50.2 points per game, school single-season record for total yards (6,657), touchdowns (55), total yards per game (512.1) and yards per rushing attempt (5.9), Vince Young no. 6 in total offense (314.3 ypg) and no. 3 in passing efficiency
Award Winners: Mack Brown (Paul “Bear” Bryant Award, Big 12 Coach of the Year), Michael Huff (Jim Thorpe Award, Rose Bowl Defensive MVP), Vince Young (Big 12 Male Athlete of the Year, Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, Davey O’Brien Award, Manning Award, Maxwell Award, Rose Bowl Offensive MVP)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks (9): Michael Griffin (1st, 2007), Michael Huff (1st, 2006), Brian Orakpo (1st, 2009), Aaron Ross (1st, 2007), Vince Young (1st, 2006), Justin Blalock (2nd, 2007), Tim Crowder (2nd, 2007), Cedric Griffin (2nd, 2006), Limas Sweed (2nd, 2008)

Texas entered the season ranked No. 2 behind defending national champion USC, and that’s where the two found themselves when they met in the Rose Bowl in January 2006. To get to Pasadena, Texas steamrolled the competition, averaging more than 50 points a game and scoring 60 or more four times. In the second week of the season, Texas became the first non-conference opponent in 15 years to defeat Ohio State at home, and followed that win up about a month later by dominating Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry. The Longhorns destroyed Colorado 70-3 in the Big 12 Championship to set up the showdown with No. 1 USC. The Rose Bowl title tilt lived up to every bit of its billing as Vince Young put on the most impressive performance in BCS National Championship history, accounting for 84 percent of Texas’ total offense (467 out of 556) yards, and scored the game-winning touchdown with 19 seconds left to capture the Longhorns’ fourth national championship in thrilling fashion. Young was one of four consensus All-Americans on this Longhorns team, which also produced a total of 24 NFL Draft picks.

2005 Schedule:

Sept. 3: Texas 60, Louisiana-Lafayette 3 (Austin, TX)
Sept. 10: Texas 25, (#4) Ohio State 22 (Columbus, OH)
Sept. 17: Texas 51, Rice 10 (Austin, TX)
Oct. 1: Texas 51, Missouri 20 (Columbia, MO)
Oct. 8: Texas 45, Oklahoma 12 (Dallas, TX)
Oct. 15: Texas 42, (#24) Colorado 17 (Austin, TX)
Oct. 22: Texas 52, (#10) Texas Tech 17 (Austin, TX)
Oct. 29: Texas 47, Oklahoma State 28 (Stillwater, OK)
Nov. 5: Texas 62, Baylor 0 (Waco, TX)
Nov. 12: Texas 66, Kansas 14 (Austin, TX)
Nov. 25: Texas 40, Texas A&M 29 (College Station, TX)
Dec. 3: Texas 70, Colorado 3 (Big 12 Championship — Houston, TX)
Jan. 4: Texas 41, (#1) USC 38 (Rose Bowl, National Championship)

Athlon Sports Ranks the Best Teams in Every BCS League:

The Top 10 Big East Teams of the BCS Era

The Top 10 ACC Teams of the BCS Era

The Top 10 Big Ten Teams of the BCS Era
The Top 10 Pac-12 Teams of the BSC Era
The Top 10 Big 12 Teams of the BCS Era
The Top 10 SEC Teams of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Sports ranked the best Big 12 teams of the BCS era.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/new-mexico-bowl-preview-temple-vs-wyoming
Body:

By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

New Mexico Bowl
Temple (8-4) vs. Wyoming (8-4)

Date: Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. ET
Location: University Stadium, Albuquerque, N.M
.

The 2011-2012 bowl season kicks off in Albuquerque, N.M. with a matchup of two 8-4 teams. Wyoming is making its second bowl appearance under coach Dave Christensen, while Temple is led by first-year coach Steve Addazio.

Christensen has engineered quite a turnaround after a 3-9 record last year. The Cowboys closed the regular season with wins in three out of their last four games and nearly knocked off TCU in early November.

Temple has been on the rise over the last few seasons. Before departing to Miami, former coach Al Golden went 27-34 in five seasons with the Owls and successfully resurrected the program into a contender in the MAC. Addazio has picked up where he left off, leading Temple to a season of at least eight victories for only the second time since 1979.

This is the Cowboys’ second trip to the New Mexico Bowl, as they defeated Fresno State 35-28 in 2009. Wyoming is also riding a two-game winning streak in bowls after beating UCLA 24-21 in the Las Vegas Bowl in 2004.

Temple is making just its fourth bowl game in school history. The Owls’ last postseason appearance came in 2009, losing 30-21 to UCLA in the EagleBank Bowl.

WHEN TEMPLE HAS THE BALL:

Don’t expect to see the ball in the air much when the Owls are on offense. Junior running backs Bernard Pierce and Matt Brown led the way for Temple to rank seventh nationally in rushing at 256.7 yards per game. Pierce earned first-team All-MAC honors this year, finishing sixth nationally with 125.6 rushing yards per game. He also posted 25 rushing scores.

Chris Coyer assumed the starting quarterback job for Temple’s final three regular season games, but suffered a shoulder injury against Kent State and his status for the New Mexico Bowl is uncertain. Coyer threw only 23 passes in his three starts, but proved to be an effective runner, finishing the regular season with 491 yards and three scores. If Coyer doesn't start, expect to see Chester Stewart or Mike Gerardi under center.

When Temple decides to throw, tight end Evan Rodriguez is the No. 1 target. The senior leads the team with 33 receptions and 427 receiving yards. Rod Streater adds big-play ability to the receiving corps, averaging 18.9 yards per reception this season.

Wyoming’s defense will be tested early and often in this game, particularly on the ground. The Cowboys allowed 230.1 rushing yards per game (115th nationally) and gave up 26 touchdowns on the ground. Temple’s offensive line has a significant size advantage in the trenches, as the Owls average 318.8 pounds per offensive lineman, while Wyoming checks in at 270.3 per defensive lineman.

Although the Cowboys have struggled to stop opposing rushing attacks, the secondary finished 34th nationally against the pass. And safeties Luke Ruff and Tashaun Gipson earned second-team All-Mountain West honors.

Even though Wyoming may give up some yards, it has done a good job of winning the turnover battle this year. The Cowboys have forced 31 turnovers and will need to create a few to win on Saturday afternoon.  

The Owls finished seventh in the MAC in total offense, but ranked 10th nationally in time of possession. If Temple wants to win its first bowl since 1979, controlling the clock and getting Pierce on track is essential.

Considering Wyoming’s issues against the run, it has to find a way to get Temple in obvious passing situations. Also, the defense could get some help from the offense, especially if it can get up by two scores and force the Owls to throw.

WHEN WYOMING HAS THE BALL:

The Cowboys are averaging 27 points a game, but that will be put to the test against a solid Temple defense. The Owls rank third nationally in scoring defense (13.8 ppg) and 15th nationally in yards allowed per game (315.5). Only two opponents (Ohio and Toledo) have managed to score more than 21 points against the Owls this year.

Freshman quarterback Brett Smith is the focal point of the Wyoming offense. He has thrown for 2,495 yards and 18 touchdowns, while adding 645 yards and 10 scores on the ground. Smith has been careful with the football, throwing only eight interceptions this season.

While Smith has been a major contributor on the ground, he’s not the team’s only option. Alvester Alexander leads Wyoming with 678 yards, while Brandon Miller and Kody Sutton combined for 446.

The Cowboys have a solid group of receivers, but No. 1 target Chris McNeill is out for the remainder of the season with an arm injury. With McNeill sidelined, Smith will rely more on Mazi Ogbonna, Dominic Rufran, Josh Doctson and Robert Herron even more and each has at least 32 receptions this season.

Some of the credit for Wyoming’s success on offense goes to the offensive line. Led by senior left tackle Clayton Kirven, the front five has allowed only 11 sacks this year. This group will be tested by an active Temple defensive line, which is registering 2.7 sacks a game. Ends Adrian Robinson and Morkeith Brown earned All-MAC honors this season.

Considering the Temple defense has been a strength all year, this won't be an easy matchup for Wyoming. The Owls will focus on stopping Smith – especially on the ground – and getting pressure on him when he throws. Also, Temple’s offense and ball-control attack will help keep the ball away from the Cowboys.

Special Teams

A slight edge goes to the Owls in this department. 

Temple punter Brandon McManus earned second-team All-MAC honors after averaging 45.9 yards per punt this season. McManus placed 15 punts inside of the 20. He also connected on 13 of 19 field goal attempts.

Junior running back Matt Brown is a dangerous option on special teams for Temple, averaging 26.7 yards per kick return and 10.1 on punt returns.

Wyoming punter Austin McCoy had a solid regular season, averaging 40.3 yards per punt on 72 attempts. Kicker Daniel Sullivan nailed 7 of 10 attempts, but only one from beyond 40 yards.

The Cowboys will likely use freshman Blair Burns on punt returns, while Dominic Rufran will lead the way on kickoffs.

Prediction

Three of the five previous matchups of the New Mexico Bowl were decided by eight points or less. And another close one can be expected this season.

These two teams had one common opponent: Bowling Green. Temple lost to the Falcons 13-10, while Wyoming won 28-27.

There’s really no secret to how this game will be decided. If the Cowboys find a way to stuff the Owls’ rushing attack, they will win the game. If Wyoming’s rush defense struggles, expect Temple to come away with the victory. 

Temple 27, Wyoming 24

Teaser:
<p> Athlon previews the 2011 New Mexico Bowl: Wyoming vs. Temple.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 06:07
All taxonomy terms: Funny, viral videos, Overtime
Path: /overtime/10-greatest-sports-related-viral-videos-2011
Body:

Viral videos are usually what your spend the majority of your workday watching (don't worry, your boss is doing the same thing.) So here are the 10 best viral videos from the sports world in 2011. These aren't the best plays or craziest athletic moments, but the most entertaining viral videos that fall into the sports or sports culture category. Enjoy.

10. Police Officers Trick Deadbeat Parents with Fake Alabama/Auburn Tix

This ruse is genius in its simplicity. And the simplicity of it's victims. The Alabama County police sent out letters to parents suspected of not paying child support telling them they won tickets to the Auburn-Alabama game. All they had to do was show up with ID to collect. Instead of winning free tickets, they won an arrest. They called it "Operation Iron Snare."

9. LeSean McCoy Jabs Andy Reid in the Stomach

This video is why slow motion was invented.

8. Troy Polamalu Scares the Crap out of People at a Wax Museum

Sure this was basically a commercial for Head and Shoulders, but seeing people get the bejesus scared out of them makes it all OK.

7. Water Skiier Smashes Face

Meet Kyle Dammeyer. He's a water skiier for THE Ohio State university. And now his face is getting smashed up against THE water skiing ramp. This video gets bonus points for the announcer who takes a little too much glee in the replay of this crash after he learnst hat Kyle's OK.

6. We Don't Need No Cats...We Need More Dogs

I think I understand what Coastal Carolina's Dave Bennett is trying to say in this really weird and bizarre press conference. But it takes this analogy a while to pay off and when it does, it's totally worth it.

5.  Holy Crap! It's Carp!

Some people think fishing is a sport, but to me it looks a lot like riding around in a boat and trying not to get hit in the face with a giant fish. This doesn't seem very hard to me.

4. The Honey Badger

This one falls in the sports realm because LSU Tigers' cornerback and Heisman Award nominee Tyrann Mathieu has taken on the nickname "Honey Badger" this season. Is it because Tyrann "don't care, he just takes what he wants." The language in this is very NSFW.

3. Tampa Rays Cameraman Falls Down

There's three absolutes in life: 1. Death, 2. Taxes, and 3. Falling Down is always funny. It's also enjoyable that Adrian Beltre just points at the guy as he's going down and keeps trotting to home plate.

2. Antelope Destroys Biker

This is exactly what you think should happen to someone stupid enough to try and bike across Africa. You don't just get your bike and start riding it around Africa. This isn't Central Park. This is the wild, where antelopes and wildebeasts and whatnot will take you out just for bringing your mountain bike out for a stroll. 

1. Kenny Powers Takes Over K-Swiss

Remember when I said that "Honey Badger" video was NSFW? Well, take that and add a few more F's to this instant classic where "Eastbound and Down" star Kenny Powers becomes the CEO of K-Swiss. There would be no Occupying of Wall Street if real life CEO's conducted themselves like Mr. Powers. (Sidenote: This is the greatest commercial of all time.)

Teaser:
<p> Here are the 10 best viral videos from around the world of sports</p>
Post date: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - 15:36
All taxonomy terms: bikes vs cars, biking, infographic, News
Path: /news/how-bikes-can-save-america-and-world
Body:

Biking And Health
Created by: Healthcare Management Degree

Here's a news flash: Biking is better for you than driving in your car. OK, OK, so you already knew that, but here's a handy little infographic that breaks down how much better pumping your little legs on a two-wheeler is better than pushing the pedal on your gas guzzler.

For example, Portland, OR is investing in biking and giving their residents incentives to skip their cars and it's going to save that town $400 million in health care by 2040. The average cyclist will lose 13 pounds in their first year of riding to work. Plus, you'll save a ton in gas money.

What more do you need to know? 

Teaser:
<p> Ditch your car for your bike and everyone will be better for it</p>
Post date: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - 14:42
Path: /mlb/ryan-brauns-positive-drug-test-more-bad-news
Body:

by Charlie Miller

Steroids, Steroids, Steroids.

Will talk of steroids in baseball ever go away? When will this loathsome subject that dirtied the past two decades of baseball become a distant memory?

Unfortunately, the subject of steroids and other PEDs in baseball will never go away. Never ever, ever.

NL MVP Ryan Braun is the latest player to test positive for something on the restricted list. With his camp adamantly denying wrongdoing, the appeal process will drag through much of the offseason. And what should be made of the award Braun has yet to actually receive? If it is determined that he in fact cheated, can the award be rescinded?

The bad news for Braun is that one of two things will happen after his appeal is heard with MLB: He’ll be found guilty of using illegal substances and shelved for 50 games, costing him about $1.85 million and forever tarnishing his otherwise pristine image; or he will be exonerated and show up for spring training in February with a clean record, yet forever placed on the “suspicious list” by most fans and members of the media.

And the news gets worse. As long as there is more money in cheating than in testing, the sinister laboratory minds and illicit athletes will always be one step (or more) ahead of the chemists developing tests.

So we are stuck with the curse of these insidious drugs. I believe that MLB testing is working, but it’s not absolute — and never will be. But baseball will always have this problem as long as substances can allow players to run faster, throw harder, hit with more power and prolong careers. With every 10-year, $254 million contract signed, players will try to cut corners. And every spring when clean players are cut, many will face unimaginable temptations.

And so it goes. Until the long list of players from the “Steroid Era” are no longer on the Hall of Fame ballot, we will continue to hear arguments about Hall of Fame voting as many writers will allow their suspicions, or proven allegations, about PED use to determine their Hall voting.

This subject is not going away.

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie.

Teaser:
<p> Will talk of steroids in baseball ever go away? NL MVP Ryan Braun is the latest player to test positive for something on the restricted list, keeping the subject of PEDs front and center in baseball news.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - 10:19
Path: /nfl/fantasy-football-waiver-wire-week-15
Body:

So you made it to Week 15. Congratulations. That either means you won a quarterfinal game or your league’s playoffs begin this week.

This time of the year there is not usually that much to find on the waiver wire that will be of that much benefit to you — you would like to play with who got you here. But injuries, bad matchups and other unfortunate circumstances might have to scouring the wire to see what’s out there to help you advance.

Easily, the No. 1 waiver wire pick of the week will be Dallas running back Felix Jones. It is very rare that a player who was the team’s starter when the season began, loses the job and comes back to be the starter for you in the fantasy playoffs. So consider it a gift if you have No. 1 priority this week. He was never a back you could consistently count on, but with Dallas having to win, perhaps Jones hoping to prove he’s the top back and two easy matchups against Tampa Bay and Philadelphia the next two weeks this is about as good a scenario a fantasy player could have.

After that, the wire is full of matchup quarterbacks and a few receivers that are favorite targets that could pay some dividends in Week 15. So enjoy 3,200 words that will hopefully keep you moving along in the fantasy postseason.

QUARTERBACKS
Rex Grossman, Washington
Did you see how wide open Miles Austin, Laurent Robinson and Dez Bryant (at least on his 50-yard catch) were against the Giants on Sunday night? Now Grossman gets to try and duplicate Tony Romo’s 321-yard, four-TD 36.84-point game with Santana Moss, Jabar Gaffney, Anthony Armstrong and Brandon Banks. Not necessarily the same trio, but he also has Roy Helu as a shifty pass-catcher out of the backfield. Grossman racked up 19.08 fantasy points on just 19 completions and one interception against New England’s terrible pass defense in Week 13 and now he gets the 29th-ranked Giants pass defense that has allowed more TDs and less interceptions than the Patriots (24-15 to 21-18).

John Skelton, Arizona
He stepped in for an injured Kevin Kolb (head) against San Francisco last week and threw for 282 yards, three scores and two interceptions. Monitor Kolb’s status for this week, but Skelton gets the ball down field better and could remain the starter. Up next for the Cardinals are the visiting Cleveland Browns and their No. 2 ranked pass defense that kept the Pittsburgh passing game in check until Ben Roethlisberger’s late 79-yard touchdown hook up with Antonio Brown pushed Big Ben to 280 yards on the night. Skelton has Larry Fitzgerald and Early Doucet to get the ball to for big plays the 46- and 60-yard scores he connected on with those two receivers against the 49ers.

Jake Locker, Tennessee
If Matt Hasselbeck (calf) is out or the Titans feel it’s time to turn to the rookie, then Locker could be a decent play at Indianapolis. Locker can certainly get it done with his legs, but also has shown the ability to stay in the pocket in the limited time he has played this season. Hasselbeck scored 14.86 fantasy points the last time the Titans played the Colts, and Locker should be good for at least that against an 0-13 Colts team that has allowed 23 touchdown passes to just six interceptions.

T.J. Yates, Houston
The Panthers’ run defense is ranked 23rd in the NFL, so this could be an Arian Foster-Ben Tate kind of day in Houston. However, Yates can push the ball down field and could have Andre Johnson (hamstring) returning. Yates led the game-winning drive Sunday against Cincinnati, connecting with Kevin Walter in the end zone to get the Texans into the postseason for the first time in franchise history. He finished 26-of-44 for 300 yards and two scores for a 24.6-point fantasy day. The Panthers are ranked 19th in pass defense, giving up 236.5 yards a game with 22 touchdowns allowed to 10 interceptions.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati
Only because it is St. Louis would I recommend Dalton outside of a two-QB league setup. He continues to be the 12-point quarterback — only dipping below it in Weeks 1 and 3. Problem with St. Louis, much like Cleveland, the reason the pass defense numbers look so good is because teams can run all day on them as well. The Rams are ranked 8th against the pass at 208.4 yards per game with 18 touchdowns allowed against 10 interceptions. Against the run, they are ranked last in the league. But Dalton does still have A.J. Green, and he could be worth two long balls and two TDs alone to give Dalton a quick 15 points.

Christian Ponder, Minnesota
This would be the type of play you know you’re hoping for garbage-time production. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier says Ponder will return to the starting role after being pulled for Joe Webb last week against Detroit, and the Saints do have the 30th-ranked pass defense in the league at 268 yards per game with 20 touchdowns allowed to seven interceptions.

Charlie Batch, Pittsburgh
If Ben Roethlisberger (ankle) is out then it’s Charlie Batch time against a 49ers defense that is average against the pass and No. 1 against the run with no rushing touchdowns allowed all season. Rashard Mendenhall’s chances of success are nil, so it could go to the arm of Batch. It’s not the arm you want to be relying on in Week 15 of a fantasy football season, but he does still have Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Hines Ward, maybe a healthy Emmanuel Sanders as his receiving corps and TE Heath Miller as a safety valve. Again, it’s not who you want to trot out there in your semifinals, but if you are desperate you can look to John Skelton having a 26.78-point day off the bench against San Francisco and see some glimmer of hope.

RUNNING BACKS
Felix Jones, Dallas
Easily the No. 1 waiver wire pickup of the week after DeMarco Murray fractured his ankle early in the Sunday night game against the Giants. Jones was out four games himself this season with a high-ankle injury, ineffective in five others and had no shot at grabbing the starting role back from the rookie. However, he is back as the starter and there is pretty much no one behind him. He finished with 106 yards on 16 carries and six catches for 31 yards Sunday against New York.

What a fun season to have Cowboy backs. We thought this would be the year Jones would emerge, then Tashard Choice is kept on, Murray is drafted and Phillip Tanner showed some flashes. We had a three or four-headed backfield for a bit. But it all washed out and Murray was the clear-cut starter. Now here comes Jones to save us in the playoffs. He gets the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their 28th-ranked rush defense to start off with, followed by Philadelphia’s 18th-ranked rush defense. Jones was never great when he was the clear-cut starter, but we look at him differently now that so many backs have either gone down with injuries our been busts themselves. Now he’s here to be our playoff savior, and the two matchups he has make that a likely scenario.

Ryan Grant, Green Bay
I was completely wrong about Grant in Week 14. He hadn’t done anything all season, the Packers’ backs haven’t done anything all season and Grant busts off a 47-yard TD run in the first three minutes and then scores on a 6-yarder in the middle of the second quarter. Grant finished with 85 yards on 10 carries. James Starks’ one TD in Week 1 was the only other TD a Green Bay feature back had scored this season, and the Packers, despite beating teams by an average of 13.2 points per game coming into the Oakland beatdown, were 22nd in rushing attempts per game at 25.7 and 29th in rushing yards per game (96.5). Guess that philosophy changed against the 28th-ranked Raiders.

Now after beating down the Raiders in a rematch of Super Bowl II, the Packers get the Chiefs in a rematch of Super Bowl I. The Chiefs just allowed Super Bowl III winners, the New York Jets, to rush for 159 yards on 42 attempts. Grant got his shot and saw his carries increase because second-year man James Starks (ankle) was out and rookie Brandon Saine (concussion) went out with an injury during the game. If Starks and Saine return, and John Kuhn (10-46) gets carries like he did Sunday, one would have to think Grant’s value goes right back to where it was before Sunday’s kickoff — back on the bench.

Toby Gerhart, Minnesota
If Adrian Peterson is back this week from his ankle injury then Gerhart is of no value. But if he isn’t then he gets a Saints team that had been terrible against the run until the Titans made them look like world beaters to the tune of 59 yards on 17 carries, including 11-for-23 from Chris Johnson. Gerhart has put up fantasy days of 13.3, 17.3 and 19.4 points in his three fill-ins for Peterson. I wouldn’t expect this one to stay close, but it is in Minnesota and the Vikings have shown a commitment to the run with Gerhart as he has games of 17, 21 and 19 — all losses.

Marion Barber, Chicago
You can’t hold grudges that he fumbled on the last offensive play for the Bears or that he went out of bounds when he wasn’t supposed to; the only affect it had on you was minus two points or one for the fumble. Other than that, he had 27 carries for 108 yards and scored the only TD for Chicago en route to a 20-point fantasy day. He does have two things going against him in Week 15: he could be in the doghouse with the coaches for the bonehead plays and the Bears play host to the No. 11-ranked rushing defense of the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle allows just over 100 yards per game and have surrendered eight rushing TDs. But there is not much left on the waiver wire, and the Bears can’t just step away from a back they gave the ball to 27 times a week earlier with a QB like Caleb Hanie at the helm.

LaDainian Tomlinson, New York Jets
He played through a knee injury in Week 14 and put up 13.4 fantasy points against the Chiefs. Now the Jets travel to play the 18th-ranked rush defense of the Philadelphia Eagles. Monitor his health and that of Joe McKnight’s, who missed the Chiefs game with an elbow injury. But LT could be a viable flex play as a change of pace for Shonn Greene. One big problem that has emerged is QB Mark Sanchez stealing goal line TDs. There’s nothing you can do about that, but LT’s going to get 10-15 touches (12 against Kansas City) and that’s what you’re looking for from a flex.

Kendall Hunter, San Francisco
Frank Gore isn’t 100-percent and the 49ers have already clinched the NFC West. He had just 10 carries against the Arizona Cardinals. He gets until Monday night to rest for the Pittsburgh Steelers and their No. 6 rush defense that allows 97 yards per game and just six TDs this season. Hunter is a wait-and-see play, and his matchup is terrible, but he is quick and can help in the passing game.

Ricky Williams, Baltimore
I’d like to say he’d be a decent play against the 25th-ranked rush defense of the Buffalo Bills, who give up 130.7 yards per game and 15 scores. But a week after Willams got 76 yards in a win over the Browns, he did nothing in a blowout over the Colts. If you are really desperate then roll the dice.

WIDE RECEIVERS
Demaryius Thomas, Denver
So instead of wondering whether Tim Tebow can complete enough meaningful passes to Eric Decker, we now have Thomas to contend with. And it has been Thomas as the favorite the last two weeks. He had 13 targets for seven catches, 78 yards and a TD against Chicago; six catches came in the fourth quarter. A week earlier, he had 144 yards and two scores on four catches and seven targets. If there is a favorite receiver, it seems to be Thomas. And now the Broncos travel to New England, where everyone not named Tyler Palko has had success in the air. Thomas is probably the No. 2 waiver wire pickup behind Felix Jones. And with his good back-to-back weeks and the terrible Patriot pass defense, if you get him you might as well play him.

Titus Young, Detroit
The rookie has been on this waiver wire report a few times this season, alternating with Nate Burleson. It would be great if it was set in stone who was going to benefit the most playing opposite Calvin Johnson, but it’s rarely the right week; we miss it either a week before or a week after. Young made a big splash early against the terrible Vikings pass defense with a 57-yard score — the majority of his, seven-target, 4-for-87 day. But Oakland is coming off an Aaron Rodgers torching and Matthew Stafford was looking good on Sunday. The Lions keep getting running backs injured, so it might have to be just the air attack that they go with to try and dispose of the Raiders.

Kevin Walter, Houston
Well of course it wasn’t Jacoby Jones who had a decent day against the Bengals, playing the No. 1 role with Andre Johnson out. Instead it was Walter, who received 10 targets from rookie QB T.J. Yates and caught six of them for 76 yards and the game-winning score in the closing seconds. The Texans play host to Carolina this week and they might not need the passing game as Arian Foster and Ben Tate get their chance to tee off on the 23rd-ranked rush defense. But if Yates has built a rapport with Walter and the Texans released Derrick Mason on Monday, then he could be the pass-catcher not named Owen Daniels or Joel Dresseen to see some action in Week 15.

Pierre Garcon, Indianapolis
He continues to be Dan Orlovsky’s favorite target, leading the team the last three games, and he’s had success against the Titans during his career. The question will be: Does he draw Titans CB Cortland Finnegan in coverage or does Finnegan go to Reggie Wayne? If Finnegan goes Wayne’s way, then there could be some success in a game the Colts should likely be behind in. Garcon had 12 targets for seven catches and 63 yards in a loss to Baltimore. This comes a week after he had 12 targets, nine catches, 150 yards and two scores against New England.

Damian Williams, Tennessee
If Matt Hasselbeck is out and Jake Locker is in then it might be hard to know what kind of rapport Williams has with the rookie QB until we see it on Sunday in Indianapolis. We know Williams can get open all over the field and we know he can score. It’s a good matchup against the pass, but a better matchup against the run. The Colts are ranked 30th against the run, so Chris Johnson should conceivably have a good day. But he just laid a 23-yard egg against the Saints’ 15th-ranked rushing defense in Week 14, so it’s hard to say what you’re going to get. Williams would be the best passing option for Tennessee. He had 10 targets to lead the team against New Orleans — his seventh week to tie for or lead the team in targets since Kenny Britt’s Week 3 injury.

Jabar Gaffney, Washington
Gaffney was targeted eight times, catching six of them for 92 yards and a score against the pitiful New England pass defense. Santana Moss was also targeted nine times, catching three for 81 yards and a score on a pass from fellow receiver Brandon Banks. This week, the Redskins get another pitiful pass defense in the New York Giants. Gaffney and QB Rex Grossman surely are familiar enough with each other from their Florida Gator days and Gaffney can be a good flex play against New York this week.

Donald Driver and James Jones, Green Bay
So the Green Bay Packers’ receiving corps situation loses its leader right as the fantasy playoffs are in full gear. Greg Jennings is out for the rest of the fantasy season and we have to figure out will it be James Jones or grizzled veteran Donald Driver to pick up the slack. Driver had six targets for four catches and 75 yards, while Jones had two catches for 29 yards on three targets. Jones, after three double-digit days in Weeks 4-6, has had just one since then and four games under four points — three under 1.4 — in the last five games. Driver has not been much better. He had 17.4 against the Giants two weeks ago and 9.5 against the Raiders. It was Driver’s fourth game of at least 9.5 points since Week 6, but there were three games under three points in there as well. The Packers spread the ball around so much that Jordy Nelson might be the only dependable play at receiver this week against the Chiefs’ solid corners, while tight end Jermichael Finley, a fter a ZERO against Oakland, might have success against a team susceptible to the tight end position.

Oakland’s receivers
Darrius Heyward-Bey was targeted 11 times, catching five for 78 yards in Sunday’s loss at Green Bay. He injured his heel in the game, and his participation is dependent upon the health of Jacoby Ford (foot) and Denarius Moore (ankle), who both went through workouts on Monday. The same can be said for Louis Murphy, who was targeted nine times, catching four of them for 70 yards against the Packers. If Moore and Ford are out once again, then both Heyward-Bey and Murphy could be decent plays against a Detroit team the Raiders should probably be trailing early. If Moore and Ford are healthy, Heyward-Bey and Murphy are not playable and probably only Moore becomes a decent play.

TIGHT ENDS
Joel Dreessen, Houston
Young QBs love the tight end and Houston has two of them in Owen Daniels and Dreessen. Daniels is certainly the one that he goes to more often — 10 targets for 7 catches and 100 yards on Sunday — but in the red zone all bets are off. The Texans have become synonymous with the backdoor play where the QB rolls one way, the TE releases the other and boom, he’s wide open in the end zone. Dreessen caught a TD like that on Sunday, his sixth TD of the season. Consider this a type of play like a goal line vulture, or how tight ends used to be — three catches, 22 yards and a score: Dresseen’s line from Sunday.

Anthony Fasano, Miami
He had a season-high eight targets Sunday against Philadelphia, pulling down three of them for 56 yards. It was his second straight game with at least 56 yards and third since Week 10. Now the Dolphins get a Bills team that is the worst in the league against tight ends and allowed a TD to Fasano in Week 11.

Kevin Boss, Oakland
The Lions have allowed at least 10.8 points the last two games against tight ends — Jimmy Graham and Visanthe Shiancoe. This would be a giant reach for the former Giants TE, but the Raiders are out of receivers with Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore still not back in the lineup (at least as of Week 14) and Darrius Heyward-Bey injuring his heel in Sunday’s debacle at Green Bay. Boss had a season-high seven targets against the Packers, catching five of them for 43 yards and a score. The Lions could come in and beat the Raiders up just as easily as the Packers did, and Boss could be a good source of GTP — garbage-time production.

Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati
He had seven targets on Sunday against the Texans, catching three of them for 45 yards. The Bengals travel to St. Louis in Week 15 and the Rams have only allowed one TD to a tight end this season — Jason Witten in Week 7. The Rams have allowed 18 passing TDs this season, so obviously TE is not getting the love against them in the red zone. But Gresham continues to be a target all over the field for rookie QB Andy Dalton, and has not dipped below seven targets in the last three weeks and has only done so four times all season.
 

Teaser:
<p> Felix Jones is the must pick-up as you hit the playoffs</p>
Post date: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - 08:37
Path: /college-football/best-big-ten-teams-bcs-era
Body:

-by Braden Gall (follow at @AthlonBraden)

The BCS is wrapping up its 14th season of action and Athlon has dissected the numbers and reviewed the tapes of all six BCS conferences in order to rank the best each league has had to offer. Which Oklahoma team was the best of the decade? Which Florida team was the toughest to stop? How do you rank the Florida State teams of the late 90s? Which Miami team was the best? How about those loaded USC teams? Alabama vs. Auburn?

The debates will most assuredly rage on for decades, but here is Athlon's two cents. Here are the Top 10 Big Ten teams of the BCS Era (1998-present):

"First Day" indicates 1st and 2nd round NFL Draft picks

10. Ohio State Buckeyes, 2010 (12-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Jime Tressel
Championships: Big Ten Co-Champs, Sugar Bowl
Key Stats: The highest scoring team in OSU history (504 pts), Led the Big Ten in rushing (96.7 ypg), passing (165.5), total (262.2) and scoring (14.3 ppg) defense while leading the conference in turnover margin (+1.15).
Award Winners: Terrelle Pryor (Sugar Bowl MVP)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Cameron Heyward (1st, 2011)

The only loss the Buckeyes experienced in 2010 was a 31-18 defeat in Camp Randall to the 11-1 co-Big Ten champion Wisconsin Badgers. This team was loaded with NFL talent all over the offense and topped a ranked Miami and Iowa teams along with crushing rival Michigan. Ohio State also defeated an SEC team for the first time in school history with a Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas. Obviously, this season carries with it a large asterisk, as the entire season was later vacated. (The 2009 Buckeyes just missed making the list).

9. Wisconsin Badgers, 1999 (10-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Barry Alvarez
Championships: Big Ten, Rose Bowl
Key Stats: Ron Dayne became the NCAA's all-time leading rusher at 6,397 yards (7,125 counting bowls), finsihed No. 3 in the nation in rushing as a team (279.5 ypg), led the league in scoring at 35.6 ppg.
Award Winners: Ron Dayne (Heisman Trophy, Doak Walker, Maxwell, Walter Camp, Rose Bowl MVP), Brooks Bollinger (Big Ten Freshman of the Year), Chris McIntosh (Big Ten Off. Lineman of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Aaron Gibson (1st, 1999), Ron Dayne (1st, 2000), Chris McIntosh (1st, 2000), Jamar Fletcher (1st, 2001), Michael Bennett (1st, 2001), Chris Chambers (2nd, 2001), Wendell Bryant (1st, 2002)

Following its Rose Bowl championship the previous season, the Badgers started 2-2 with a shocking upset on the road against Cincinnati and five-point home loss to Michigan. Wisconsin never lost again, beating five ranked teams to finish as Rose Bowl champs, including a road destruction of No. 12 Ohio State and home beatdown of No. 11 Michigan State. Ron Dayne became the NCAA's all-time leading rusher against Iowa and claimed the Badgers' second Heisman Trophy. Dayne set the current BCS bowl record for rushing attempts with 34 (for 200 yards) in the win over Stanford.

8. Iowa Hawkeyes, 2002 (11-2, 8-0)
Head Coach: Kirk Ferentz
Championships: Big Ten Co-Champs
Key Stats: Marked first time in school history Iowa won 11 games. Highest scoring team in Iowa history (484 points). Brad Banks led the nation in passing efficiency (157.12).
Award Winners: Kirk Ferentz (Walter Camp Coach of the Year), Brad Banks (Davey O'Brien), Nate Kaeding (Lou Groza), Dallas Clark (John Mackey)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Dallas Clark (1st, 2003), Eric Steinbach (2nd, 2003), Bruce Nelson (2nd, 2003), Robert Gallery (1st, 2004), Bob Sanders (2nd, 2004)

Stacked with NFL talent, the Hawkeyes posted the best record in school history — including tying eventual national champ Ohio State at 8-0 for the Big Ten co-championship (they didn't play that year). An offense led by Heisman Trophy runner-up Brad Banks (and Fred Russell) scored more points than any team in Iowa history. Two road wins at Penn State and Michigan highlighted a season that ended in defeat at the hands of Heisman winner Carson Palmer and USC in the program's first ever BCS bowl (Orange).

7. Michigan Wolverines, 2006 (11-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Lloyd Carr
Championships: None
Key Stats: Led the nation in rushing defense at an astonishing 43.4 ypg, LaMarr Woodley (0.92 spg) and team (3.23 spg) led the Big Ten in sacks.
Award Winners: LaMarr Woodley (Ted Hendricks, Lombardi, Big Ten Def. Player of the Year/Lineman of the Year), Jake Long (Big Ten Off. Lineman of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Leon Hall (1st, 2007), David Harris (2nd, 2007), LaMarr Woodley (2nd, 2007), Alan Branch (2nd, 2007), Jake Long (1st, 2008), Chad Henne (2nd, 2008)

This Maize and Blue team started 11-0, including a 41-17 thumping of No. 2 Notre Dame, before losing by three on the road against the nation's No. 1 team Ohio State on the final weekend of play. With three consensus first-team All-Americans (Hall, Long, Woodley), this team went as high as No. 2 in the polls before losing out on a title chance to Florida. Thirteen players from this team were selected in the 2007 and 2008 NFL Drafts including the No. 1 overall pick Jake Long.

6. Ohio State Buckeyes, 2007 (11-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Jim Tressel
Championships: Big Ten
Key Stats: Led the nation in scoring defense at 12.8 ppg. Led the nation in pass defense at 150.2 ypg. Led the Big Ten in seven of 17 tracked NCAA team stats.
Award Winners: James Laurinaitis (Butkus, Big Ten Def. Player of the Year), Vernon Gholston (Big Ten Def. Lineman of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Vernon Gholston (1st, 2008), Beanie Wells (1st, 2009), Malcolm Jenkins (1st, 2009), James Laurinaitis (2nd, 2009), Brian Robiskie (2nd, 2009)

With road wins over ranked opponents Michigan, Penn State and Purdue to go with a home win over ranked Wisconsin, Ohio State found itself in its second straight BCS national title game. A late home loss to eventual Rose Bowl rep Illinois and to LSU in the championship game were the only blemishes on a season that started 10-0.

5. Wisconsin Badgers, 1998 (11-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Barry Alvarez
Championships: Big Ten Co-Champs, Rose Bowl
Key Stats: Dayne rushed for a current BCS bowl record 246 yards and four touchdowns against UCLA.
Award Winners: Ron Dayne (Rose Bowl MVP), Barry Alvarez (Big Ten Coach of the Year), Tom Burke (Big Ten Def. Player of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Ron Dayne (1st, 2000), Chris McIntosh (1st, 2000), Jamar Fletcher (1st, 2001), Michael Bennett (1st, 2001), Chris Chambers (2nd, 2001), Wendell Bryant (1st, 2002)

Craig James began bowl season by claiming this was "the worst team to ever play in the Rose Bowl." With five first round picks, an extraordinary offensive line, the conference's top defensive player, an eventual Thorpe Award winner and the NCAA's all-time leading rusher/Heisman Trophy winner, it is safe to say he was sorely mistaken. Ron Dayne set BCS bowl records for yards (246) and touchdowns (4) and carries (27 - which he broke himself the next year) in the 38-31 Rose Bowl win over the favored UCLA Bruins. Wisconsin's only loss came in Ann Arbor to the 10-3 (7-1) Wolverines.

1998 Schedule:

Sept. 5: Wisconsin 26, San Diego State 14 (San Diego, CA)
Sept. 12: Wisconsin 45, Ohio 0 (Madison, WI)
Sept. 19: Wisconsin 52, UNLV 7 (Madison, WI)
Sept. 26: Wisconsin 38, Northwestern 7 (Madison, WI)
Oct. 3: Wisconsin 24, Indiana 20 (Bloomington, IN)
Oct. 10: Wisconsin 31, Purdue 24 (Madison, WI)
Oct. 17: Wisconsin 37, Illinois 3 (Champaign, IL)
Oct. 24: Wisconsin 31, Iowa 0 (Iowa City, IA)
Nov. 7: Wisconsin 26, Minnesota 7 (Madison, WI)
Nov. 14: (#15) Michigan 27, Wisconsin 10 (Ann Arbor, MI)
Nov. 21: Wisconsin 24, (#14) Penn State 3 (Madison, WI)
Jan. 1: Wisconsin 38, (#6) UCLA 31 (Rose Bowl)

4. Ohio State Buckeyes, 1998 (11-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: John Cooper
Championships: Big Ten Co-Champs, Sugar Bowl
Key Stats: The Buckeyes lost five total turnovers (four fumbles) and surrendered 19 unanswered points in home loss to Michigan State.
Award Winners: David Boston (Sugar Bowl MVP), Joe Germaine (Big Ten Co-Off. Player of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: David Boston (1st, 1999), Antoine Winfield (1st, 1999), Andy Katzenmoyer (1st, 1999), Joe Montgomery (2nd, 1999), Ahmad Plummer (2nd, 2000), Nate Clements (1st, 2001), Ryan Pickett (1st, 2001),

The most talented team to play under John Cooper had the National Championship rings already sized in the preseason. Ohio State began the year atop the polls and rolled to an 8-0 start before giving away a late 15-point lead to Michigan State — and a chance at the national title. Despite crushing Iowa and Michigan to finisht the year with one loss, Ohio State just missed a chance to face Tennessee in the BCS National Championship game. After handling Texas A&M in the Sugar Bowl, the Buckeyes finished No. 2 in the polls.

1998 Schedule:

Sept. 5: Ohio State 34, (#11) West Virginia 17 (Morgantown, WV)
Sept. 12: Ohio State 49, Toledo 0 (Columbus, OH)
Sept. 19: Ohio State 35, (#21) Missouri 14 (Columbus, OH)
Oct. 3: Ohio State 28, (#7) Penn State 9 (Columbus, OH)
Oct. 10: Ohio State 41, Illinois 0 (Champaign, IL)
Oct. 17: Ohio State 45, Minnesota 15 (Columbus, OH)
Oct. 24: Ohio State 36, Northwestern 10 (Evanston, IL)
Oct. 31: Ohio State 38, Indiana 7 (Bloomington, IN)
Nov. 7: Michigan State 28, Ohio State 24 (Columbus, OH)
Nov. 14: Ohio State 46, Iowa 14 (Iowa City, IA)
Nov. 21: Ohio State 31, (#11) Michigan 16 (Columbus, OH)
Jan. 1: Ohio State 24, (#8) Texas A&M 14 (Sugar Bowl)

3. Penn State Nittany Lions, 2005 (11-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Joe Paterno
Championships: Big Ten, Orange Bowl
Key Stats: Tamba Hali led the Big Ten in sacks (0.92 pg), PSU finished seventh nationally against the run (93.0 ypg) and never allowed a team to reach 30 points all season.
Award Winners: Michael Robinson (Big Ten Off. Player of the Year), Paul Posluszny (Bednarik Award, Butkus Award), Tamba Hali (Big Ten Def. Lineman of the Year), Joe Paterno (AP, Home Depot, Walter Camp, AFCA National Coach of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Tamba Hali (1st, 2006), Levi Brown (1st, 2007), Paul Posluszny (2nd, 2007)

Led by star quarterback Michael Robinson and stellar defensive tandem Tamba Hali and Paul Posluszny, the Penn State Nittany Lions were one play from making quite a ruckus in the BCS standings with an undefeated season. After starting 6-0 with convincing wins over ranked Minnsota and Ohio State, the Lions allowed Chad Henne to connect with Mario Manningham on the final play of the game in Ann Arbor - costing PSU a chance to challenge USC and Texas for title game rights. Penn State then rolled through the rest of its schedule including an impressive 35-14 win over top-15 Wisconsin. The Orange Bowl win over Florida State was the school's first BCS bowl win.

2005 Schedule:

Sept. 3: Penn State 23, South Florida 13 (State College, PA)
Sept. 10: Penn State 42, Cincinnati 24 (State College, PA)
Sept. 17: Penn State 40, Central Michigan 3 (State College, PA)
Sept. 24: Penn State 34, Northwestern 29 (Evanston, IL)
Oct. 1: Penn State 44, (#19) Minnesota 14 (State College, PA)
Oct. 8: Penn State 17, (#6) Ohio State 10 (State College, PA)
Oct. 15: Michigan 27, Penn State 25 (Ann Arbor, MI)
Oct. 22: Penn State 63, Illinois 10 (Champaign, IL)
Oct. 29: Penn State 33, Purdue 15 (State College, PA)
Nov. 5: Penn State 35, (#14) Wisconsin 14 (State College, PA)
Nov. 19: Penn State 31, Michigan State 22 (East Lansing, MI)
Jan. 3: Penn State 31, (#22) Florida State 23 (Orange Bowl)

2. Ohio State Buckeyes, 2006 (12-1, 8-0)
Head Coach: Jim Tressel
Championships: Big Ten
Key Stats: The fourth highest scoring team in program history (450 pts), Troy Smith led the Big Ten in passer efficiency (161.91). Finished in top three in the league in 15 of 17 tracked NCAA team stats.
Award Winners: Troy Smith (Heisman Trophy, Davey O'Brien, Big Ten Off. Player of the Year), James Laurinaitis (Nagurski Trophy)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Ted Ginn Jr. (1st, 2007), Anthony Gonzalez (1st, 2007), Vernon Gholston (1st, 2008), Beanie Wells (1st, 2009), Malcolm Jenkins (1st, 2009), James Laurinaitis (2nd, 2009), Brian Robiskie (2nd, 2009)

The Ohio State Buckeyes began the 2006 season as the team to beat — and proved it by going wire-to-wire as the nation's No. 1 ranked team. Troy Smith became only the third quarterback in league history to throw for at least 30 touchdowns (Drew Brees, Kyle Orton) and claimed the Heisman Trophy as he led his to an undefeated regular season that was capped by a thrilling 42-39 win over No. 2 Michigan. In its third game against the No. 2-ranked team, the Buckeyes offense never knew what hit them as the Florida Gators pressured Smith all game long. Poor coaching, poor preperation and poor exectution in one game cost the Buckeyes the national championship.

2006 Schedule:

Sept. 2: Ohio State 35, Northern Illinois 12 (Columbus, OH)
Sept. 9: Ohio State 24, (#2) Texas 7 (Austin, TX)
Sept. 16: Ohio State 37, Cincinnati 7 (Columbus, OH)
Sept. 23: Ohio State 28, Penn State 6 (Columbus, OH)
Sept. 30: Ohio State 38, (#13) Iowa 17 (Iowa City, IA)
Oct. 7: Ohio State 35, Bowling Green 7 (Columbus, OH)
Oct. 14: Ohio State 38, Michigan State 7 (East Lansing, MI)
Oct. 21: Ohio State 44, Indiana 3 (Columbus, OH)
Oct. 28: Ohio State 44, Minnesota 0 (Columbus, OH)
Nov. 4: Ohio State 17, Illinois 10 (Champaign, IL)
Nov. 11: Ohio State 54, Northwestern 10 (Evanston, IL)
Nov. 18: Ohio State 42, (#2) Michigan 39 (Columbus, OH)
Jan. 8: (#2) Florida 41, Ohio State 14 (BCS NCG)

1. Ohio State Buckeyes, 2002 (14-0, 8-0)
Head Coach: Jim Tressel
Championships: Big Ten Co-Champs, Fiesta Bowl, National Championship
Key Stats: Ranked No. 2 in the nation in scoring defense (13.1 ppg) and No. 3 nationally in rushing defense (77.7 ypg), this was the first team in NCAA history to finish 14-0
Award Winners: Maurice Clarett (Big Ten Freshman of the Year), Mike Doss (Big Ten Co-Def. Player of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Mike Doss (2nd, 2003), Will Smith (1st, 2004), Chris Gamble (1st, 2004), Michael Jenkins (1st, 2004), Mike Nugent (2nd, 2005)

The team that never gave up began the season ranked No. 13 in the nation and slowing grinded their way to the No. 1 spot in the final standings. The Buckeyes beat five ranked teams, including the Big East's No. 2 team of the BCS era, en route to the 2002 National Championship. Behind gritty play from quarterback Craig Krenzel and a freshman school rushing record from Maurice Clarett (1,237 yards), the Bucks found themselves as heavy underdogs to defending national champs Miami in the Fiesta Bowl. Yet, the staunch Buckeye defense and two key touchdowns (and one great forced fumble/recovery) from Clarett gave Ohio State its sixth consensus national championship. The much-debated pass inference penalty also will go down in history as one of the more controversial plays — even if it was the right call. This Ohio State team sent an NFL record 14 players to the league in the 2004 draft (five were selected in 2003 and three in 2005). This is the only Big Ten team to have claimed a BCS National Championship making them the top Big Ten team of the BCS Era.

2002 Schedule:

Aug. 24: Ohio State 45, Texas Tech 21 (Columbus, OH)
Sept. 7: Ohio State 51, Kent State 17 (Columbus, OH)
Sept. 14: Ohio State 25, (#10) Washington State 7 (Columbus, OH)
Sept. 21: Ohio State 23, Cincinnati 19 (Cincinnati, OH)
Sept. 28: Ohio State 45, Indiana 17 (Columbus, OH)
Oct. 5: Ohio State 27, Northwestern 16 (Evanston, IL)
Oct. 12: Ohio State 50, San Jose State 7 (Columbus, OH)
Oct. 19: Ohio State 19, Wisconsin 14 (Madison, WI)
Oct. 26: Ohio State 13, (#17) Penn State 7 (Columbus, OH)
Nov. 2: Ohio State 34, (#19) Minnesota 3 (Columbus, OH)
Nov. 9: Ohio State 10, Purdue 6 (West Lafayette, IN)
Nov. 16: Ohio State 23, Illinois 16 (Champaign, IL)
Nov. 23: Ohio State 14, (#12) Michigan 9 (Columbus, OH)
Jan. 3: Ohio State 31, (#1) Miami 24 (Fiesta Bowl, BCS NCG)

"First Day" indicates 1st and 2nd round NFL Draft picks

Athlon Sports Ranks the Best Teams in Every BCS League:

The Top 10 Big East Teams of the BCS Era

The Top 10 ACC Teams of the BCS Era

The Top 10 Big Ten Teams of the BCS Era
The Top 10 Pac-12 Teams of the BSC Era
The Top 10 Big 12 Teams of the BCS Era
The Top 10 SEC Teams of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Sports ranked the best Big Ten teams of the BCS era.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - 07:20
Path: /college-football/kevin-sumlin-grading-texas-am-hire-1
Body:

-by CoachesByTheNumbers.com

It appears that Texas A&M has found itself a new head coach with the announcement that Houston's Kevin Sumlin will be taking the reigns of the Aggies next season. Sumlin replaces Mike Sherman, who served as the Texas A&M head coach for last four years, compiling a 25-25 record.

Under Sherman, Texas A&M's identity was one in which a lot of points were scored, little defense was played, and very few close games were won. In Sherman's four years, the Aggies averaged 32.2 points per game offensively, but A&M also gave up 30.4 points per game on the defensive side of the ball. To make matters worse, Sherman was 2-7 in games decided by four points or less.

With the firing of Sherman, the Aggie brass indicated that the numbers above simply weren't good enough. The powers that be decided they needed to hire a coach who could reverse some of Coach Sherman's trends. So what did they do? They went and hired a guy whose teams averaged 42.82 points per game offensively and gave up a whopping 29.06 points per game over the past four years. Sound familiar (for what it's worth, Sumlin was 4-4 in games decided by four points or less at Houston)?

According to our proprietary CBTN Best Head Coaching Job Ranking, Texas A&M is the 23rd best job in the nation (out of 120). The fact that Texas A&M is located in the talent rich state of Texas combined Texas A&M's great fan base, resources, and facilities makes it one of the better jobs in all of college football. Below is our By The Numbers analysis of the hiring:

#d8ceb6; padding: 4px; border-collapse: separate; border-radius: 10px; border: 1px solid white;" valign="top">

Kevin Sumlin - Hiring Summary


#6b5e50; background-color: #6b5e50; height: 2px; width: 99%; border: 0; margin: 3px;" />
Positives
  • As an offensive coordinator at Texas A&M in 2002 and Oklahoma in 2006 and 2007, Sumlin's offenses scored 30 or more points 57.50% of the time and 40 or more points 32.50% of the time. As a head coach, Sumlin's offensive numbers have only improved. In his four years at Houston, Sumlin's offenses have averaged 30 or more points 80.77% of the time, 40 or more points 59.62% of the time, and 50 or or points 28.85% of the time.
     
  • During his tenure at Houston, Sumlin won 68.48% of his overall games, 70.59% of his conference games, and won 10 or more games in two of his four seasons as head coach. In 2011, Sumlin led Houston to its first 12-win season in history.
     
  • Sumlin spent five years of his coaching career at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops, one of the best coaches in all of college football.
Negatives
  • Of the 16 games Sumlin coached at Houston with equal or inferior talent, he only won eight times (50.00%).
     
  • Sumlin's defenses at Houston gave up 30 or more points 48.08% of the time and 40 or points more 21.15% of the time. Additionally, Sumlin's defense ranked 90th or lower in scoring defense in three of his four years as a head coach.
     
  • Coach Sumlin is 11-13 against teams finishing the season with an over .500 record.
     
  • 68.57% of Coach Sumlin's wins have come against teams finishing the season with more losses than wins.
Unknowns
  • In Sumlin's first two years at Houston, he had the deadly combination of Dana Holgorsen calling with plays and Case Keenum executing those plays. In 2010, Dana Holgorsen was calling plays for Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State and Case Keenum was having surgery on his knee. Houston finished the 2010 season with a 5-7 record. To be fair, Sumlin did play the season with his first and second string quarterbacks sidelined with injuries, so we can't be too hard on him. In 2011, Keenum, who began college in 2006, was back in the huddle at quarterback. We are not trying to take anything away from Kevin Sumlin's offenses, but it would have been nice to see him coach another season without Case Keenum.
     
  • Who will Sumlin hire as his defensive coordinator and will Kliff Kingsbury and/or Jason Phillips make the move to College Station?
     
  • At Houston, Coach Sumlin entered the playing field with superior talent (an average recruiting class rank 10+ spots greater than his opponent) in two out of every three games. This number is going to drastically drop at Texas A&M given the school's move to the most talented conference in college football. How will Coach Sumlin handle playing a much larger percent of his games with equal or inferior talent?
     
  • The average CBTN Star rating for active defensive coordinators in Conference USA is one star. The average CBTN Star rating for active defensive coordinators in the SEC is four. Sumlin had the best talent in Conference USA and was going up against some of the lower rated defensive coordinators in all of college football. How is he going to adjust to having mid-level talent and going up against some of the best defensive minds in the nation?
CBTN Conclusion

In 2012, Texas A&M will join the Southeastern Conference, the CBTN number one rated conference in college football. Specifically, the Aggies will be joining the SEC West, which includes Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State. To say the very least, football life is about to get much harder for A&M (three of these teams have won National Championships since 2001). It is this move to the SEC that makes this a curious hire by the numbers.

There are certainly exceptions to the rule (see Bobby Petrino), but the SEC has traditionally been a conference where running the ball and stopping the run has been the key to success. In his four years at Houston, Sumlin's defenses got torched for an average of 195.6 yards per game on the ground. This fact makes it very, very important for Sumlin to go out and hire a top-notch defensive coordinator. Names like Mike Stoops and Jon Tenuta immediately come to mind. We can't overstate the importance of who he hires for defensive coordinator given his teams' defensive history against the run. Couple this with the fact that over the last two seasons Houston's offense only averaged 154.24 yards per game rushing could make for some uncomfortable Saturdays for Sumlin vs. SEC West opponents.

When we look at Kevin Sumlin, we like a lot of what we see. He has a nice resume and has shown a serious propensity to score points. However, as was stated in the introduction to this analysis, Texas A&M is one of the better jobs in college football and is about to enter the best side of the best conference in college football. At Houston, Sumlin coached a large percentage (66.67%) of his games with superior talent and faced some of the lower rated defensive coordinators in all of college football. Both of these things are about to drastically change.

Have you ever bought a company's stock based on a positive news story? What about after a company posts a nice set of quarterly earnings? If so, you have fallen prey to the What You See Is All There Is fallacy of the mind. Kevin Sumlin may be a rising star in college football, but the key word in that phrase is "rising". When we put together our list of recommended coaches for the Aggies, we did so with the thought process of recommending proven head coaches (we recommended six of these) and extremely accomplished defensive coordinators (we recommended two of these).

In our estimation, the Aggies have taken a risk that they simply didn't need to take with Coach Sumlin.


#6b5e50; background-color: #6b5e50; height: 2px; width: 99%; border: 0; margin: 3px;" />

Hire Grade

#444444;">C+

Teaser:
<p> A statistical look at Texas A&amp;M's hiring of Kevin Sumlin.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/jim-mora-jr-grading-ucla-hire
Body:

-by CoachesByTheNumbers.com

Instead of listing the names rumored to have been contacted by UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero, it might be easier to list the names not rumored to have been contacted by Guerrero. After much ado and some very wild speculation, UCLA has named former NFL defensive coordinator and head coach Jim Mora, Jr. as the Bruins next head football coach.

Mora will replace outgoing UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel. For our take on Neuheisel, please click here.

Jim Mora, Jr. is known mostly for being the son of Jim Mora, Sr. Even if you think you don't know who Jim Mora, Sr. is, we can bet that you do. "Playoffs!? Playoffs!? Don't talk about playoffs.....I just hope we can win another game." As was discussed in our firing analysis of Rick Neuheisel, we believe UCLA is a very solid job that should be attractive to some of the best and brightest in college football. 

Based on our proprietary CBTN Best Head Coaching Jobs Ranking, UCLA is the 38th best job in college football. The school is located in one of the most attractive cities in the world and in one of the most talented football states in the country. Additionally, UCLA plays in a major conference and has a brand name that reaches coast-to-coast. In interviews after he was fired, Coach Neuheisel complained about UCLA's facilities and lack of commitment to football. He would certainly be in a position to know much better than us the state of UCLA's facilities and depth of the administration's commitment to winning.

However, when we consider that Rick Neuheisel played 92% of his games with superior or equal talent** at UCLA and won just 42% of his overall games, it's difficult for us to have much sympathy for Coach Neuheisel and his complaints about facilities. The last time we checked, facilities didn't cause coaches to come up with poor game plans. So, the Bruins have turned to Jim Mora, Jr. to save their seemingly sinking ship. Is he the right man for the job? Below is our By The Numbers analysis of the hiring:

#d8ceb6; padding: 4px; border-collapse: separate; border-radius: 10px; border: 1px solid white;" valign="top">

Jim Mora, Jr. - Hiring Summary


#6b5e50; background-color: #6b5e50; height: 2px; width: 99%; border: 0; margin: 3px;" />
Positives
  • Jim Mora, Jr. is not Rick Neuheisel.
     
  • See bullet point number one.
     
  • We would want to point to Mora's 25 years of NFL experience, five of which he spent as a defensive coordinator and four he spent as a head coach, but after re-reading a piece we did on "NFL-Guys" and success at the college level, we simply cannot.
     
  • If Pete Carroll did it, why can't Jim Mora, Jr.?
Negatives
  • See article on "NFL-Guys" above.
     
  • Mora only has one year of experience in college football and that was as a Graduate Assistant in 1984 for the Washington Huskies.
     
  • Mora was 32-34 in his four years as a head coach in the NFL.
     
  • Mora has been fired from head coaching jobs the same number of times he has had winning seasons as a head coach.
Unknowns
  • Everything.
CBTN Conclusion

Someone really needs to make a copy of Chapter 3 of Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink and send it to Mr. Guerrero. The chapter is titled The Warren Harding Error and it details how when making decisions, especially when it comes to hiring, firing, or electing people, we often focus on everything but what really matters.

Here is how a journalist described Warren Harding, who was elected with over 60% of the popular vote and is now considered to be one of the worst presidents in U.S. history: "Harding was worth looking at. He was at the time about 35 years old. His head, features, shoulders and torso had a size that attracted attention… an effect which in any male at any place would justify more than the term handsome – in later years, when he came to be known beyond his local world, the word “Roman” was occasionally used in descriptions of him… His suppleness, combined with his bigness of frame, and his large, wide-set rather glowing eyes, heavy black hair, and markedly bronze complexion gave him some of the handsomeness of an Indian. His courtesy… suggested genuine friendliness toward all mankind. His voice was noticeably resonant, masculine, warm… His manner as he bestowed a tip suggested generous good-nature, a wish to give pleasure, based on physical well-being and sincere kindliness of heart."

What do you notice about the above description? You should notice that it has nothing to do with being in any way qualified to be President of the United States of America. Here is what UCLA Dan Guerrero had to say when introducing Jim Mora, Jr. as the Bruins' next head coach: "He has been a head coach at the game's highest level and has clearly demonstrated to me that he is hungry and eager to return to the sidelines."

What do you notice about the above? You should notice that Dan Guerrero doesn't read coachesbythenumbers.com. If he did, he would have read our article on NFL Guys and noticed that coaches reared as NFL coaches have extremely limited success at the college level. Of the top 50 active head coaches in our system since 2001 with a minimum of three years experience as a head coach, only three could be said to have significant NFL experience (Bo Pelini, Pat Hill, and Dennis Erickson), and two of these coaches were just recently fired.

Also, how in the world does being "hungry and eager to return to the sidelines" qualify anyone to be a head coach? Here's a good rule of thumb for AD's to live by: if a coach is more eager for your job than you are to hire him for it, move on to the next candidate. When we give out hiring grades, we are not trying to guarantee a new head coach's future success or failure; we are trying to grade the thought process behind the hire and see if the coach makes sense for the job By The Numbers.

We are sure we are going to hear Pete Carroll's name mentioned a whole lot between now and next season as the "blueprint" for Mora to be successful at UCLA. First and foremost, when you hear this please don't forget that Pete Carroll was reared in the college football world, spending eleven seasons (1973-1983) as a college assistant, including stints at Iowa State, Ohio State, and Arkansas. Secondly, hope and luck aren't ingredients for making consistently successful decisions. As we have talked about a lot on this site, when you are playing Blackjack and you hit on 18 and happen to draw a three, you didn't make a good decision (unless you can count cards like Rain Man); you were simply lucky.

Eventually, making bad decisions (like hitting on 18) will cost you. UCLA committed the Warren Harding Error when they hired Rick Neuheisel, and now they have gone and done it again. Maybe Einstein was right when he said "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results." In the end, the hiring of Jim Mora Jr. is by no means a complete failure. NFL coaches have a proven track record of excelling in mediocrity at the college level. However, we believe that UCLA has the capability to be a lot more.


#6b5e50; background-color: #6b5e50; height: 2px; width: 99%; border: 0; margin: 3px;" />

Hire Grade

#444444;">D

** Talent level is determined by the program’s average recruiting rank (per Scout.com) over the 4 year span leading up to the year the game was played. Equivalent talent is defined as having an average recruiting rank difference within 10 ranking spots of an opponent. Superior talent is the situation where the average recruiting rank is great than 10 ranking spots of an opponent. Inferior talent is the situation where the average recruiting rank is less than 10 rankings spots of an opponent.


Teaser:
<p> A statistical breakdown of UCLA's decision to hire Jim Mora, Jr.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - 06:00
Path: /nfl/jason-pierre-paul-dominates-dallas-cowboys
Body:

Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Giants
The 6'5", 278-pound second-year end out of South Florida has drawn comparisons to the original “Freak,” Jevon Kearse; and JPP showed just what an unbelievable athlete he is during New York’s 37–34 win over Dallas on Sunday night at Jerry’s House. Pierre-Paul’s wingspan seemingly stretched from sideline-to-sideline, as the one-man Big Blue Wrecking Crew recorded eight tackles, two sacks — including one safety — one forced fumble and a blocked kick on the potential game-tying field goal. After notching 4.5 sacks as a rookie, JPP has 12.5 through 13 games during what is likely the first of many Pro Bowl seasons for the 22-year-old.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
Another incredible physical specimen in his second season, the “Gronk” had six catches for a career-high 160 yards and two record-breaking TD grabs during a 34–27 win at Washington. In the process, the 6'6", 265-pounder out of Arizona set the all-time single-season record for TD catches by a tight end. Gronkowski’s 14th and 15th TDs — an 11-yard strike and 37-yard highlight run — moved Tom Brady’s go-to guy past Antonio Gates (2004) and Vernon Davis (2009), who each hauled in 13 TDs.

Terrell Suggs, LB, Ravens
The Colts’ return to Baltimore — where they played from 1953-83 — was not quite the homecoming the horseshoes were hoping for. The Ravens sent the league’s lone remaining winless team back to Indianapolis in impressive fashion during the 24–10 contest. Suggs led the way with three sacks and three forced fumbles, as the Ravens defense forced six Colts punts, while holding Indy to just three points through three quarters. Over the past three weeks, Suggs has recorded seven sacks and four forced fumbles, giving him 13.0 sacks and six forced fumbles this season.

Matt Prater, K, Broncos
Say whatever you want about Tim Tebow or the Denver defense, but the latest Broncos miracle was a result of the golden right foot of Prater — who bombed a career-long and game-tying 59-yard field goal with three seconds remaining in regulation before splitting the uprights on a 51-yard field goal in overtime to seal a 13–10 win over the Bears. After entering their Week 6 bye with a 1–4 record, the Broncos have won seven of their last eight, including six straight, and are currently sitting alone in first place of the AFC West division standings.
 

Teaser:
<p> New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul terrorized the Dallas Cowboys, with two sacks, one safety, one forced fumble and one blocked potential game-tying FG on Sunday night.</p>
Post date: Monday, December 12, 2011 - 23:49
Path: /nfl/indianapolis-colts-will-regret-not-drafting-andrew-luck
Body:

The biggest race of the 2011 season – the one that could have the biggest impact on 2012 and beyond – is all-but decided. The Indianapolis Colts are the worst team in the NFL. They are going to own the rights to super-quarterback Andrew Luck.

And if they don’t exercise those rights next April and draft their future franchise quarterback – no matter how healthy their current quarterback is – they’ll be making a mistake that they’ll end up regretting for the next decade at least.

That’s the price of the biggest decision the Colts’ franchise will have to make since 1998 when they made the decision – which wasn’t a slam dunk at the time, by the way – to take Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf.

Now, 13 years later, Manning is 35 years old. He’s three months removed from spinal fusion surgery, which was his third neck surgery in the last 19 months. The Colts and the Mannings have been guarded about what they’ve revealed publicly about the future Hall of Famer’s condition. He was never placed on injured reserve though even owner Jim Irsay recently conceded he’s not likely to play this season.

The more vague they are, the more we are all left to wonder: Will Peyton Manning ever play again?

“He loves to play, he wants to play and I think if he gets his health back, he still capable of playing at a high level,” Peyton’s dad, Archie Manning, said recently on ESPN Radio. “That’s his DNA.”

And that’s great. But he’s still 35 – 36 by the time the 2012 season starts. He’s still coming off a lost season and three surgeries on his neck in the last 19 months. He may be one of the five greatest quarterbacks who ever lived, but age and surgeries – particularly neck surgeries – can even cause super-human athletes to deteriorate.

If he returns, will he be the same? How many Hall of Fame years does he have left? How many good years? What happens to his neck (and arm, and shoulder) the next time he takes a hit?

And with no clear answers to those questions, how in the world could the Colts pass up the chance to draft the next Peyton Manning – or if you listen to some star-struck scouts, maybe next Joe Montana and John Elway rolled into one?

The problem with doing so, of course, means they have to figure out what to do with Manning, who has a $28 million option on his contract that the Colts can either exercise or let him become a free agent. Archie dropped a big hint a few days ago in a Fox radio interview that if the Colts draft Luck they’ll have to let Peyton be free.

“I don't think it'd necessarily be great for either one,” Archie said. “I think Andrew's the type of mature player (where) he can walk right in. I mean, these other three or four guys that are playing this year, (if) they can walk in and contribute, Andrew can, too.”

Archie later walked that remark back, saying “I’m sure they could” co-exist. He said his only point was that Luck is “too good to sit.”

Whether a rookie quarterback should sit or not is a long-standing argument in the NFL with no right answer. Peyton Manning started as a rookie and went 3-13 and threw 28 interceptions. His little brother Eli started the last seven games for the Giants in his rookie season in 2004, threw nine interceptions and lost his first six starts.

Both of them, though, swear the experience of playing right from the start helped them immensely. Then again, how much was Aaron Rodgers helped by spending three years sitting and watching Brett Favre in Green Bay. When Rodgers took over in 2008 he threw for 4,000 yards and immediately became one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Two years later he was a Super Bowl champion and Super Bowl MVP.

Favre never liked having his eventual replacement behind him and Rodgers never liked sitting. Eventually management was forced to make a choice that became messy, tarnished the legacy of one of the franchise’s greatest quarterbacks, and became a national soap opera for a while. But the sight of Rodgers bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Lambeau Field last February had to make all the pain worth it, because if the Packers hadn’t planned for the post-Favre era as well as they did they would still be searching for his replacement.

One of the toughest things in sports for a general manager or owner is to figure out when to turn the page from a legendary figure who has meant immeasurable amounts to a franchise and its fans. Do it too early and there’ll be fan backlash. Do it too late and it’ll set you back for years.

This is the pivotal moment for the Colts, who once boasted Johnny Unitas, once lost out on Elway, and for more than a decade have been at the top of the NFL’s class thanks to Manning’s right arm and sharp head.

But none of that matters because you can’t live in the past, and whether he likes it or not, Manning, at his age, is much more past than future. Yes, he should still be given the option to stick around if he wants, to teach Luck, and to see if his neck can withstand a few more seasons.

But the Colts can’t pass up Luck in deference to a man that will soon be a ghost. Otherwise they’ll find themselves chasing the next Luck for years.

By RALPH VACCHIANO
 

Teaser:
<p> The Colts have to take Andrew Luck in the 2012 NFL draft. And they probably know it</p>
Post date: Monday, December 12, 2011 - 09:28
Path: /news/nba-vetos-chris-paul-trade-stern-losing-his-mind
Body:

by Josh Kipnis

The owners of the NBA are cry-babies.  We saw them whine and tear during the lockout, and now they think that’s the only way they can get what they want.  They crawl up to Daddy (Commissioner David Stern), scrunch up their chubby little cheeks, and let him fix the problem in his little princess’ life.

Pappa Stern was protecting his kin this past Thursday when he vetoed a three-team trade that would send Chris Paul to the Lakers; Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, and Lamar Odom to the Hornets, and Pau Gasol to the Rockets. 

“Wha wha wha. It’s just not fair!”

So David Stern did the only thing he felt he could do, veto the trade.  Is this guy ever going to think outside the box?  It’s starting to get ridiculous. 

Stern claimed that the Hornets were “better served with Chris [Paul] in a Hornets uniform than by the outcome of the terms of that trade.”  Maybe.  But still, he would undoubtedly hang up that uniform at seasons end.  Paul’s contract expires this summer, and last time I checked the definition of a current asset, it had the word CURRENT in it.  The NBA officials ruling on this trade are completely blind of the future.  Do they not understand?  If Paul is not traded this year the Hornets will be left with nothing next season.

During the lockout, we saw this exact same mindset.  The lockout was lifted, but in the least effective way possible.  Both the players and the owners were dissatisfied with the deal reached, and are definitely going to opt out of the current bargaining agreement six years from now (If you take $300 million out of my pocket each year for the next six years, I’m going to be back for you).  Neither side got what they wanted, and soon the boomerang is going to start flying back this way.

Stern has no sense of what is going on in his league anymore.  He’s lost it.  Does he understand what a bargaining chip is?  By vetoing this trade, he is essentially destroying any future success the Hornets can have.

When this deal took place I was pumped.  Paul’s career was finally going to mean something, the Hornets weren’t going to be treated like Cleveland, the Knicks weren’t going to get him, and LeBron was going to go another year without a ring.  It was perfect.  But nooooooo, the spoiled little owners threw a tantrum and Daddy wasn’t going to let that happen.  Gimme a break.

To this day, I have never seen a trade vetoed-not even in Fantasy Sports.  It’s time for Stern to get off his high horse and stop ruining this league.

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, December 12, 2011 - 08:11
Path: /college-football/best-acc-teams-bcs-era
Body:

-by Braden Gall (follow at @AthlonBraden)

The BCS is wrapping up its 14th season of action and Athlon has dissected the numbers and reviewed the tapes of all six BCS conferences in order to rank the best each league has had to offer. Which Oklahoma team was the best of the decade? Which Florida team was the toughest to stop? How do you rank the Florida State teams of the late 90s? Which Miami team was the best? How about those loaded USC teams? Alabama vs. Auburn?

The debates will most assuredly rage on for decades, but here is Athlon's two cents. Here are the Top 10 ACC teams of the BCS Era (1998-present):

"First Day" indicates 1st and 2nd round NFL Draft picks
* - team played in the ACC Championship game

10. Wake Forest Demon Deacons, 2006 (11-3, 7-2*)
Head Coach: Jim Grobe
Championships: ACC
Key Stats: Won a school record 11 games. Wake Forest beat Georgia Tech 9-6 in the ACC title game — the lowest winning total in any college championship game ever.
Award Winners: Jim Grobe (ACC Coach of the Year), Riley Skinner (ACC Rookie of the Year)
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Aaron Curry (1st, 2009), Alphonso Smith (2nd, 2009)

9. 2001 Maryland Terrapins, 2001 (10-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Ralph Freidgen
Championships: ACC
Key Stats: Led the ACC in scoring offense (35.5 ppg) and scoring defense (19.1 ppg). Led ACC in total offense (439.7 ypg) and rushing defense (90.6 ypg). Was the first ACC team to win outright conference title other than Florida State since 1991.
Award Winners: Ralph Friedgen (Home Depot National Coach of the Year, ACC COY), EJ Henderson (ACC Player of the Year, Def. POY), Bruce Perry (ACC Off. Player of the Year)
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: EJ Henderson (2nd, 2003), Madieu Williams (2nd, 2004)

8. Virginia Tech Hokies, 2007 (11-3, 8-1*)
Head Coach: Frank Beamer
Championships: ACC
Key Stats: Finished No. 3 nationally in scoring defense (16.1 ppg) and No. 4 in total defense (296.9). Both led the ACC.
Award Winners: N/A
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Duane Brown (1st, 2008), Eddie Royal (2nd, 2008), Brandon Flowers (2nd, 2008), Jason Worilds (2nd, 2010)

7. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 2009 (11-3, 8-1*)
Head Coach: Paul Johnson
Championships: ACC
Key Stats: Led the ACC in rushing, total offense and scoring. No. 2 nationally in rushing at 295.4 yards per game. Went 2-0 against Clemson.
Award Winners: Derrick Morgan (ACC Def. Player of the Year), Paul Johnson (ACC Coach of the Year)
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Derrick Morgan (1st, 2010), Demaryius Thomas (1st, 2010)

6. Florida State Seminoles, 2003 (10-3, 7-1)
Head Coach: Bobby Bowden
Championships: ACC Co-Champs
Key Stats: No. 10 nationally in scoring defense (16.7 ppg), Went 0-2 against Miami.
Award Winners: Darnell Dockett (ACC Def. Player of the Year)
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Michael Boulware (2nd, 2004), Greg Jones (2nd, 2004), Alex Barron (1st, 2005), Travis Johnson (1st, 2005), Braynt McFadden (2nd, 2005), Ernie Sims (1st, 2006), Antonio Cromartie (1st, 2006), Kamerion Wimbley (1st, 2006), Brodrick Bunkley (1st, 2006)

5. Virginia Tech Hokies, 2010 (11-3, 9-0*)
Head Coach: Frank Beamer
Championships: ACC
Key Stats: Taylor set single-season school passing TD record (24) and all-time career passing yards school record (7,017 yards), Jayron Hosley led the nation in INT (0.69 pg), Tech led the nation in turnover margin (+1.36).
Award Winners: Tyrod Taylor (ACC Player of the Year, Off. POY, ACCCG MVP)
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Ryan Williams (2nd, 2011)

Virginia Tech lost in heartbreaking fashion to Boise State on a final minute touchdown in Week 1, and clearly the hangover effect was out in full force the next weekend against James Madison. However, the Hokies never lost again in the regular season and became the first undefeated ACC team since 2000 Florida State. This team featured the program's all-time leading passer and receiver (Jarrett Boykin, 180 rec.) with a three-headed backfield of Ryan Williams, David Wilson and Darren Evans. Taylor led the ACC in passing efficiency as the Hokies led the league in scoring (35.5 ppg).

2010 Schedule:

Sept. 6: (#5) Boise State 33, Virginia Tech 30 (Landover, MD)
Sept. 11: James Madison 21, Virginia Tech 16 (Blacksburg, VA)
Sept. 18: Virginia Tech 49, East Carolina 27 (Blacksburg, VA)
Sept. 25: Virginia Tech 19, Boston College 0 (Chestnutt Hill, MA)
Oct. 2: Virginia Tech 41, (#23) NC State 30 (Raleigh, NC)
Oct. 9: Virginia Tech 45, Central Michigan 21 (Blacksburg, VA)
Oct. 16: Virginia Tech 52, Wake Forest 21 (Blacksburg, VA)
Oct. 23: Virginia Tech 44, Duke 7 (Blacksburg, VA)
Nov. 4: Virginia Tech 28, Georgia Tech 21 (Blacksburg, VA)
Nov. 13: Virginia Tech 26, North Carolina 10 (Chapel Hill, NC)
Nov. 20: Virginia Tech 31, (#21) Miami 17 (Miami Gardens, FL)
Nov. 27: Virginia Tech 37, Virginia 7 (Blacksburg, VA)
Dec. 4: Virginia Tech 44,  (#20) Florida State 33 (ACCCG, Charlotte, NC)
Jan. 3: (#5) Stanford 40, Virginia Tech 12 (Orange Bowl)

4. Florida State Seminoles, 1998 (11-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Bobby Bowden
Championships: ACC Co-Champs
Key Stats: Beat five ranked teams
Award Winners: N/A
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Tony Bryant (2nd, 1999), Larry Smith (2nd, 1999), Peter Warrick (1st, 2000), Corey Simon (1st, 2000), Sebastian Janikowski (1st, 2000), Jamal Reynolds (1st, 2001), Derrick Gibson (1st, 2001), Tommy Polley (2nd, 2001)

The first year of the BCS began with a Florida State win over a ranked Texas A&M team before the Noles got shocked by NC State 24-7 in Week 2. The Noles then rattled off 10 straight wins, including victories over ranked USC, Georgia Tech, Virginia and Florida teams, to clinch a trip to the first-ever BCS title game. The Noles actually were co-champs with Georgia Tech, but won the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Tennessee Vols claimed the first BCS National Championship by way of a 23-16 Fiesta Bowl win over Florida State.

1998 Schedule:

Aug. 31: Florida State 23, (#14) Texas A&M 14 (East Rutherford, NJ)
Sept. 12: NC State 24, Florida State 7 (Raleigh, NC)
Sept. 19: Florida State 62, Duke 13 (Tallahassee, FL)
Sept. 26: Florida State 30, (#18) Southern California 10 (Tallahassee, FL)
Oct. 3: Florida State 24, Maryland 10 (College Park, MD)
Oct. 10: Florida State 26, Miami 14 (Miami, FL)
Oct. 17: Florida State 48, Clemson 0 (Tallahassee, FL)
Oct. 24: Florida State 34, (#23) Georgia Tech 7 (Atlanta, GA)
Oct. 31: Florida State 39, North Carolina 13 (Tallahassee, FL)
Nov. 7: Florida State 45, (#12) Virginia 14 (Tallahassee, FL)
Nov. 14: Florida State 24, Wake Forest 7 (Winston-Salem, NC)
Nov. 21: Florida State 23, (#4) Florida 12 (Tallahassee, FL)
Jan. 4: (#1) Tennessee 23, Florida State 16 (Fiesta Bowl)

3. Virginia Tech Hokies, 2004 (10-3, 7-1)
Head Coach: Frank Beamer
Championships: ACC
Key Stats: No. 2 in the nation in scoring defense (12.8 ppg) and No. 4 in total defense (268 ypg)
Award Winners: Bryan Randall (ACC Player of the Year), Frank Beamer (ACC Coach of the Year)
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Jimmy Williams (2nd, 2006), Darryl Tapp (2nd, 2006)

The Hokies played four top ten teams and won twice. Those two losses came against the two best teams in the nation — USC and Auburn — by a total of 14 points. Quarterback Bryan Randall took over full-time for Marcus Vick and threw for 2,264 yards while rushing for 511 with 24 total touchdowns en route to his ACC POY Award. This team sent 15 players over three years into the NFL Draft, despite none being selected in the first round.

Aug. 28: (#1) Southern California 24, Virginia Tech 13 (Landover, MD)
Sept. 11: Virginia Tech 63, Western Michigan 0 (Blacksburg, VA)
Sept. 18: Virginia Tech 41, Duke 17 (Blacksburg, VA)
Sept. 25: NC State 17, Virginia Tech 16 (Blacksburg, VA)
Oct. 2: Virginia Tech 19, (#7) West Virginia 13 (Blacksburg, VA)
Oct. 9: Virginia Tech 17, Wake Forest 10 (Winston-Salem, NC)
Oct. 16: Virginia Tech 62, Florida A&M 0 (Blacksburg, VA)
Oct. 28: Virginia Tech 34, Georgia Tech 20 (Atlanta, GA)
Nov. 6: Virginia Tech 27, North Carolina 24 (Chapel Hill, NC)
Nov. 18: Virginia Tech 55, Maryland 6 (Blacksburg, VA)
Nov. 27: Virginia Tech 24, (#16) Virginia 10 (Blacksburg, VA)
Dec. 4: Virginia Tech 16, (#9) Miami 10 (Miami, FL)
Jan. 1: (#3) Auburn 16, Virginia Tech 13 (Sugar Bowl)

2. Florida State Seminoles, 2000 (11-2, 8-0)
Head Coach: Bobby Bowden
Championships: ACC
Key Stats: Led the nation in passing (384 ypg) and total offense (549 ypg). Finished No. 2 in the nation in rushing defense (73.9 ypg) and scoring defense (10.3 ppg).
Award Winners: Chris Weinke (Heisman, Davey O'Brien, Johnny Unitas, ACC Player of the Year), Jamal Reynolds (Lombardi)
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Jamal Reynolds (1st, 2001), Derrick Gibson (1st, 2001), Tommy Polley (2nd, 2001), Javon Walker (1st, 2002), Anquan Boldin (2nd, 2003), Alonzo Jackson (2nd, 2003)

After starting 5-0 — for their 17th straight win — the Noles fell to rival Miami by three points in Week 6. Florida State won six straight to land in their third straight BCS national title game. Chris Weinke won the Heisman Trophy by leading the nation in passing with 4,167 yards and finished his career as the school's all-time leading passer. This team featured three first-team All-Americans with Weinke, wideout Snoop Minnis (63 rec., 1,340 yards, 11 TD) and Lombardi winner Jamal Reynolds. Unfortunately, the third-highest scoring team in school history (511 points) was held to zero points in the BCS title game loss to Oklahoma — scoring their only two points on a safety. This defense held the opponent to less than 10 points in seven games of 13 games.

2000 Schedule:

Aug. 26: Florida State 29, BYU 3 (Jacksonville, FL)
Sept. 9: Florida State 26, Georiga Tech 21 (Atlanta, GA)
Sept. 16: Florida State 63, North Carolina 14 (Tallahassee, FL)
Sept. 23: Florida State 31, Louisville 0 (Tallahassee, FL)
Sept. 28: Florida State 59, Maryland 7 (College Park, MD)
Oct. 7: (#7) Miami 27, Florida State 24 (Miami, FL)
Oct. 14: Florida State 63, Duke 14 (Tallahassee, FL)
Oct. 21: Florida State 37, Virginia 3 (Tallahassee, FL)
Oct. 28: Florida State 58, (#20) NC State 14 (Raleigh, NC)
Nov. 4: Florida State 54, Clemson 7 (Tallahassee, FL)
Nov. 11: Florida State 35, Wake Forest 6 (Winston-Salem, NC)
Nov. 18: Florida State 30, (#4) Florida 7 (Tallahassee, FL)
Jan. 3: (#1) Oklahoma 13, Florida State 2 (Orange Bowl)

1. Florida State Seminoles, 1999 (12-0, 8-0)
Head Coach: Bobby Bowden
Championships: ACC, Sugar Bowl, National
Key Stats: Janikowski led NCAA in FGM/Game (23 FGM), Led the ACC in passing 302.9 ypg and fourth in the nation in scoring at 37.5 ppg. Led the ACC in total defense (302.6 ypg).
Award Winners: Sebastian Janikowski (Lou Groza), Peter Warrick (Sugar Bowl MVP)
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Peter Warrick (1st, 2000), Corey Simon (1st, 2000), Sebastian Janikowski (1st, 2000), Jamal Reynolds (1st, 2001), Derrick Gibson (1st, 2001), Tommy Polley (2nd, 2001), Anquan Boldin (2nd, 2003)

The best team of the BCS era in the ACC claimed nine first-team All-ACC performers (AP) and six second-team selections. Florida State became the first team in history to go wire-to-wire as No. 1 team in all three polls after beating five ranked opponents. It was the second-highest scoring Noles team of the BCS era and No. 7 highest-scoring team in FSU history. Chris Weinke and Peter Warrick outlasted Michael Vick and the Hokies in the memorable 1999 championship game. Warrick, after surviving some off-the-field incidents, claimed MVP honors after catching six passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns and returning a punt for a score. His 220 all-purpose yards are fourth all-time in a title game and his 20 points (3 TDs, 2-pt) are a BCS title game record. (It was the No. 11 BCS title game performance.) The win gave Bobby Bowden his second national championship.

1999 Schedule:

Aug. 28: Florida State 41, Louisiana Tech 7 (Tallahassee, FL)
Sept. 11: Florida State 41, (#10) Georiga Tech 35 (Tallahassee, FL)
Sept. 18: Florida State 42, (#20) NC State 11 (Tallahassee, FL)
Sept. 25: Florida State 42, North Carolina 10 (Chapel Hill, NC)
Oct. 2: Florida State 51, Duke 23 (Jacksonville, FL)
Oct. 9: Florida State 31, (#19) Miami 21 (Tallahasse, FL)
Oct. 16: Florida State 33, Wake Forest 10 (Tallahassee, FL)
Oct. 23: Florida State 17, Clemson 10 (Clemson, SC)
Oct. 30: Florida State 35, Virginia 10 (Charlottesville, VA)
Nov. 13: Florida State 49, Maryland 10 (Tallahassee, FL)
Nov. 20: Florida State 30, (#4) Florida 20 (Gainesville, FL)
Jan. 4: Florida State 46, (#2) Virginia Tech 29 (Sugar Bowl)

"First Day" indicates 1st and 2nd round NFL Draft picks
* - team played in the ACC Championship game


Athlon Sports Ranks the Best Teams in Every BCS League:

The Top 10 Big East Teams of the BCS Era

The Top 10 ACC Teams of the BCS Era

The Top 10 Big Ten Teams of the BCS Era
The Top 10 Pac-12 Teams of the BSC Era
The Top 10 Big 12 Teams of the BCS Era
The Top 10 SEC Teams of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<p> Who are the best ACC teams of the BCS era?</p>
Post date: Monday, December 12, 2011 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/best-big-east-teams-bcs-era
Body:

— by Mark Ross

The BCS is wrapping up its 14th season of action and Athlon has dissected the numbers and reviewed the tapes of all six BCS conferences in order to rank the best each league has had to offer. Which Oklahoma team was the best of the decade? Which Florida team was the toughest to stop? How do you rank the Florida State teams of the late 90s? Which Miami team was the best? How about those loaded USC teams? Alabama vs. Auburn?

The debates will most assuredly rage on for decades, but here is Athlon's two cents. Here are the Top 10 Big East teams of the BCS Era (1998-present):

"First Day" indicates 1st and 2nd round NFL Draft picks
* - team played in the ACC Championship game

10. West Virginia Mountaineers, 2006 (11-2, 5-2)
Head Coach: Rich Rodriguez
Championships: Gator Bowl
Key Stats: No. 2 in nation in rushing offense (303.0 ypg), no. 3 in scoring offense (38.9 ppg), no. 5 in total offense (461.4 ypg), Steve Slaton no. 4 in nation in rushing (134.2 ypg) and no. 2 in all-purpose yards (161.9 ypg)
Award Winners: Dan Mozes (Rimington Trophy), Pat White (Big East Offensive Player of the Year, Gator Bowl co-MVP)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks (1): Pat White (2nd, 2009)

These Mountaineers began the season ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll and rose as high as No. 3 as they won their first seven games handily. The stage was set for a Nov. 2 nationally televised showdown with No. 5 Louisville on the road. The Mountaineers would lose to the eventual Big East champion Cardinals 44-34 and later fall at home to South Florida 24-19. West Virginia would rebound to win its final two games, first defeating No. 13 Rutgers 41-39 in triple overtime and then beating No. 25 Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl. The Mountaineers were powered by a high-octane offense that scored 34 or more points in 11 of 13 games and was led by dual-threat quarterback Pat White and consensus All-American running back Steve Slaton.

9. Cincinnati Bearcats, 2008 (11-3, 6-1)
Head Coach: Brian Kelly
Championships: Big East
Key Stats: Led the nation in net punting (41.5 yards per punt), no. 9 in the nation in sacks (2.9 per game), Mardy Gilyard no. 11 in the nation in kickoff returns (27.6 ypr) and all-purpose yards (162.9 ypg)
Award Winners: Mardy Gilyard (Big East Special Teams Player of the Year), Brian Kelly (Big East Coach of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks (1): Connor Barwin (2nd, 2009)

Cincinnati would rebound from an early-season beat down at No. 4 Oklahoma, 52-26, to win the Big East and earn a berth in the Orange Bowl against the ACC Champion Virginia Tech Hokies. The Hokies would hold the Bearcats to just one touchdown as Cincinnati’s season ended with a 20-7 loss on New Year’s Day.

8. Louisville Cardinals, 2006 (12-1, 6-1)
Head Coach: Bobby Petrino
Championships: Big East, Orange Bowl
Key Stats: School record 12 wins, no. 2 in the nation in total offense (475.3 ypg), no. 4 in scoring offense (37.8 ppg), no. 2 in sacks (45 total, 3.5 per game), Art Carmody no. 4 in scoring (9.5 ppg), made all 60 PATs and 21 out of 25 field goal attempts
Award Winners: Brian Brohm (Orange Bowl MVP), Art Carmody (Lou Groza Award)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks (3): Amobi Okoye (1st, 2007), Brian Brohm (2nd, 2008), Eric Wood (1st, 2009)

These high-flying Cardinals’ lone blemish on the season was a three-point loss to No. 14 Rutgers on the road in November. Louisville placed seven on the first-team All Big East team including three offensive linemen and two future NFL draft picks in defensive lineman Amobi Okoye and cornerback William Gay. The offense was led by quarterback Brian Brohm, running back Kolby Smith and wide receiver Harry Douglas. The Cardinals would bounce back from the Rutgers loss and win their final four games, capped off with a 24-13 Orange Bowl victory over No. 15 Wake Forest. A week after the program’s first BCS Bowl win, head coach Bobby Petrino left to become the head coach of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.

7. West Virginia Mountaineers, 2007 (11-2, 5-2)
Head Coach: Rich Rodriguez
Championships: Big East co-champions, Fiesta Bowl
Key Stats: No. 3 in rushing offense (297.2 ypg), no. 7 in total defense (301.7 ypg)
Award Winners: Pat White (Big East Offensive Player of the Year, Fiesta Bowl Offensive MVP), Reed Williams (Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks (1): Pat White (2nd, 2009)

Ranked No. 3 in the preseason, the Mountaineers went into the final game of the regular season, the 100th Backyard Brawl against Pittsburgh, as the top-ranked team in the Coaches Poll. The unranked Panthers got the best of their bitter rival, 13-9, dashing the Mountaineers’ title hopes in the process. To make matters worse, head coach Rick Rodriguez left to become Michigan’s head coach as the team prepared for its Fiesta Bowl showdown with No. 3 Oklahoma. The team would rally behind interim head coach Bill Stewart as the Mountaineers stunned the nation by dominating the Sooners 48-28. Pat White led the way with 326 total yards of offense and the Mountaineers ran roughshod over the Sooners, gaining 349 yards on the ground alone.

6. West Virginia Mountaineers, 2005 (11-1, 7-0)
Head Coach: Rich Rodriguez
Championships: Big East, Sugar Bowl
Key Stats: No. 4 in nation in rushing offense (272.4 ypg), Steve Slaton no. 14 in nation in rushing (112.8 ypg), no. 3 in scoring (19 TDs) as freshman
Award Winners: Rich Rodriguez (Big East Coach of the Year), Steve Slaton (Big East Rookie of the Year, Sugar Bowl MVP)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks (1): Pat White (2nd, 2009)

In what would be the first of three straight 11-win seasons, the Mountaineers ran over and through the Big East, with their lone blemish being a 34-17 defeat to the No. 3-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies in Morgantown. A 46-44 triple overtime victory over Louisville helped West Virginia finds its stride offensively, as the Mountaineers would score 38 or more points in five of their last six games, including their season-ending 38-35 upset of No. 8 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Steve Slaton capped off a sensational freshman season by rushing for 204 yards and three touchdowns against the Bulldogs to earn Sugar Bowl MVP honors.

5. Cincinnati Bearcats, 2009 (12-1, 7-0)
Head Coach: Brian Kelly
Championships: Big East
Key Stats: School record 12 wins, finished regular season undefeated and ranked No. 3 in BCS standings, no. 2 in nation in passing efficiency, no. 4 in scording offense (38.6 ppg)
Award Winners: Mardy Gilyard (Big East Special Teams Player of the Year), Brian Kelly (Big East Coach of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: None as of 2011 NFL Draft

The Bearcats unleashed their high-scoring offense on the Big East and their other opponents in 2009, scoring 41 points or more six times. They captured the Big East title and ended the regular season undefeated by coming back from 21 points down in the first half and then scoring the game-winning touchdown with just 33 second left to defeat Pittsburgh 45-44 on the road. Despite being undefeated, the Bearcats were left out of the BCS National Championship game and instead were sent to the Sugar Bowl to face the Florida Gators. They would do so without head coach Brian Kelly, however, as he left to become Notre Dame’s head coach prior to the bowl game, which Cincinnati would lose 51-24 to the Gators.

2009 Schedule:

Sept. 7: Cincinnati 47, Rutgers 15 (Piscataway, NJ)
Sept. 12: Cincinnati 70, Southeast Missouri State 3 (Cincinnati, OH)
Sept. 19: Cincinnati 28, Oregon State 18 (Corvallis, OR)
Sept. 26: Cincinnati 28, Fresno State 20 (Cincinnati, OH)
Oct. 3: Cincinnati 37, Miami (Ohio) 13 (Oxford, OH)
Oct. 15: Cincinnati 34, (#21) South Florida 17 (Tampa, FL)
Oct. 24: Cincinnati 41, Louisville 10 (Cincinnati, OH)
Oct. 31: Cincinnati 28, Syracuse 7 (Syracuse, NY)
Nov. 7: Cincinnati 47, Connecticut 45 (Cincinnati, OH)
Nov. 13: Cincinnati 24, (#25) West Virginia 21 (Cincinnati, OH)
Nov. 27: Cincinnati 49, Illinois 36 (Cincinnati, OH)
Dec. 5: Cincinnati 45, (#15) Pittsburgh 44 (Pittsburgh, PA)
Jan. 1: (#5) Florida 51, Cincinnati 24 (Sugar Bowl)

4. Virginia Tech Hokies, 1999 (11-1, 7-0)
Head Coach: Frank Beamer
Championships: Big East
Key Stats: No. 1 in nation in scoring offense (41.4 ppg) and scoring defense (10.5 ppg) in regular season; Michael Vick led the nation in passing efficiency as a freshman
Award Winners: Frank Beamer (Paul “Bear” Bryant Award, Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year), Corey Moore (Big East Defensive Player of the Year, Lombardi Award, Nagurski Award), Michael Vick (Big East Offensive Player of the Year, Big East Rookie of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks (4): Michael Vick (1st, 2001), Ike Charlton (2nd, 2000), Andre Davis (2nd, 2002), John Engleberger (2nd, 2000)

Led by freshman quarterback Michael Vick and a stingy defense headlined by unanimous All-American defensive end Corey Moore, the Virginia Tech Hokies went through the regular season unblemished and pretty much unchallenged as their closest margin of victory was two points on the road against West Virginia. Pitted against the top-ranked Florida State Seminoles in the Sugar Bowl, the Hokies held onto a one-point lead at the end of the third quarter. The Seminoles would outscore the Hokies 18-0 in the final quarter, putting an end to their national championship dreams.

1999 Schedule:

Sept. 4: Virginia Tech 47, James Madison 0 (Blacksburg, VA)
Sept. 11: Virginia Tech 31, UAB 10 (Blacksburg, VA)
Sept. 23: Virginia Tech 31, Clemson 11 (Blacksburg, VA)
Oct. 2: Virginia Tech 31, (#24) Virginia 7 (Charlottesville, VA)
Oct. 9: Virginia Tech 58, Rutgers 20 (Piscataway, NJ)
Oct. 16: Virginia Tech 62, (#16) Syracuse 0 (Blacksburg, VA)
Oct. 30: Virginia Tech 30, Pittsburgh 17 (Pittsburgh, PA)
Nov. 6: Virginia Tech 22, West Virginia 20 (Morgantown, WV)
Nov. 13: Virginia Tech 43, (#19) Miami (Fla.) 10 (Blacksburg, VA)
Nov. 20: Virginia Tech 62, Temple 7 (Philadelphia, PA)
Nov. 26: Virginia Tech 38, Boston College 14 (Blacksburgh, VA)
Jan. 4: (#1) Florida State 46, Virginia Tech 29 (Sugar Bowl)

3. Miami Hurricanes, 2000 (11-1, 7-0)
Head Coach: Butch Davis
Championships: Big East, Sugar Bowl
Key Stats: No. 2 in nation in scoring offense (42.6 ppg) and no. 5 in scoring defense (15.5 ppg) through regular season
Award Winners: Ken Dorsey (Sugar Bowl MVP), Dan Morgan (Big East Defensive Player of the Year, Bednarik Award, Butkus Award, Nagurski Award), Santana Moss (co-Big East Offensive Player of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks (20): Phillip Buchanon (1st, 2002), Vernon Carey (1st, 2004), Andre Johnson (1st, 2003), Damione Lewis (1st, 2001), Jerome McDougle (1st, 2003), Willis McGahee (1st, 2003), Bryant McKinnie (1st, 2002), Dan Morgan (1st, 2001), Santana Moss (1st, 2001), Ed Reed (1st, 2002), Antrel Rolle (1st, 2005), Mike Rumph (1st, 2002), Jeremy Shockey (1st, 2002), Sean Taylor (1st, 2004), Jonathan Vilma (1st, 2004), Reggie Wayne (1st, 2001), Vince Wilfork (1st, 2004), D.J. Williams (1st, 2004), Kellen Winslow (1st, 2004), Clinton Portis (2nd, 2002)

This is the team that laid the groundwork for the 2001 national championship as the roster featured five All-Americans, 12 first-team All Big East selections and 20 future first- or second-round NFL draft picks. Despite beating then No. 1-ranked Florida State earlier in the season and being ranked higher in the polls, the Hurricanes were prevented a chance to vie for the national championship. Instead, they went to the Sugar Bowl and took their frustrations out on another in-state rival, defeating Florida 37-20 and finishing the season ranked No. 2. That victory also was the last for Butch Davis as a collegiate coach, as he left Miami to become the head coach of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.

2000 Schedule:

Aug. 31: Miami (Fla.) 61, McNeese State 14 (Miami, FL)
Sept. 9: (#15) Washington 34, Miami (Fla.) 29 (Seattle, WA)
Sept. 23: Miami (Fla.) 47, West Virginia 10 (Morgantown, WV)
Sept. 30: Miami (Fla.) 64, Rutgers 6 (Piscataway, NJ)
Oct. 7: Miami (Fla.) 27, (#1) Florida State 24 (Miami, FL)
Oct. 21: Miami (Fla.) 45, Temple 17 (Philadelphia, PA)
Oct. 28: Miami (Fla.) 42, Louisiana Tech 31 (Miami, FL)
Nov. 4: Miami (Fla.) 41, (#2) Virginia Tech 21 (Miami, FL)
Nov. 11: Miami (Fla.) 35, Pittsburgh 7 (Miami, FL)
Nov. 18: Miami (Fla.) 26, Syracuse 0 (Syracuse, NY)
Nov. 25: Miami (Fla.) 52, Boston College 6 (Miami, FL)
Jan. 2: Miami (Fla.) 37, (#7) Florida 20 (Sugar Bowl)

2. Miami Hurricanes, 2002 (12-1, 7-0)
Head Coach: Larry Coker
Championships: Big East
Key Stats: No. 1 pass defense (119.7 pg) in nation; Willis McGahee no. 4 rusher (134.9 ypg), no. 2 scorer (28 TDs) in nation
Award Winners: Ken Dorsey (co-Big East Offensive Player of the Year), Willis McGahee (co-Big East Offensive Player of the Year), Brett Romberg (Rimington Trophy)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks (15): Vernon Carey (1st, 2004), Kelly Jennings (1st, 2006), Andre Johnson (1st, 2003), William Joseph (1st, 2003), Jerome McDougle (1st, 2003), Willis McGahee (1st, 2003), Antrel Rolle (1st, 2005), Sean Taylor (1st, 2004), Jonathan Vilma (1st, 2004), Vince Wilfork (1st, 2004), D.J. Williams (1st, 2004), Kellen Winslow (1st, 2004), Rocky McIntosh (2nd, 2006), Sinorice Moss (2nd, 2006), Roscoe Parrish (2nd, 2005)

This team lived up to its billing as defending national champions as it started the season ranked No. 1 and maintained that ranking until the final game. Thirteen Hurricanes were named first-team All Big-East with running back Willis McGahee and center Brett Romberg earning consensus All-American honors. The lone blemish on their record came in the BCS National Championship Game as the ‘Canes fell in two overtimes to Ohio State, ending their reign as national champions and 34-game winning streak.

2002 Schedule:

Aug. 31: Miami (Fla.) 63, Florida A&M 17 (Miami, FL)
Sept. 7: Miami (Fla.) 41, (#6) Florida 16 (Gainesville, FL)
Sept. 14: Miami (Fla.) 44, Temple 21 (Philadelphia, PA)
Sept. 21: Miami (Fla.) 38, Boston College 6 (Miami, FL)
Oct. 5: Miami (Fla.) 48, Connecticut 14 (Miami, FL)
Oct. 12: Miami (Fla.) 28, (#9) Florida State (Miami, FL)
Oct. 26: Miami (Fla.) 40, West Virginia 23 (Morgantown, WV)
Nov. 2: Miami (Fla.) 42, Rutgers 17 (Piscataway, NJ)
Nov. 9: Miami (Fla.) 26, Tennessee 3 (Knoxville, TN)
Nov. 21: Miami (Fla.) 28, Pittsburgh 21 (Miami FL)
Nov. 30: Miami (Fla.) 49, Syracuse 7 (Syracuse, NY)
Dec. 7: Miami (Fla.) 56, Virginia Tech 45 (Miami, FL)
Jan. 3: (#2) Ohio State 31, Miami (Fla.) 24 (2OT) (BCS National Championship)

1. Miami Hurricanes, 2001 (12-0, 7-0)
Head Coach: Larry Coker
Championships: Big East, Rose Bowl, National
Key Stats: No. 3 in nation in scoring offense (42.7 ppg), no. 1 in scoring defense (9.8 ppg); average margin of victory 33.2 points per game
Award Winners: Larry Coker (Paul “Bear” Bryant Award), Ken Dorsey (co-Big East Offensive Player of the Year, Maxwell Award, Rose Bowl co-MVP), Andre Johnson (Rose Bowl co-MVP), Bryant McKinnie (Outland Trophy), Ed Reed (co-Big East Defensive Player of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks (17): Phillip Buchanon (1st, 2002), Vernon Carey (1st, 2004), Andre Johnson (1st, 2003), William Joseph (1st, 2003), Jerome McDougle (1st, 2003), Willis McGahee (1st, 2003), Bryant McKinnie (1st, 2002), Ed Reed (1st, 2002), Antrel Rolle (1st, 2005), Mike Rumph (1st, 2002), Jeremy Shockey (1st, 2002), Sean Taylor (1st, 2004), Jonathan Vilma (1st, 2004), Vince Wilfork (1st, 2004), D.J. Williams (1st, 2004), Kellen Winslow (1st, 2004), Clinton Portis (2nd, 2002)

Simply put, this team was loaded and is viewed by many as one of the best ever in college football history. With a roster featuring six first-team All-Americans and 13 first-team All-Big East selections, not to mention 32 future NFL draft picks, these Hurricanes dominated on both sides of the ball and steamrolled their competition from start to finish. They started things off by going to Happy Valley and dominating Penn State 33-7, which tied the record for the Nittany Lions’ worst home loss under Joe Paterno. Later on, the ‘Canes defeated No. 14 Syracuse and No. 12 Washington in consecutive weeks at the Orange Bowl with a combined score of 124-7, which set the NCAA record for largest margin of victory over consecutive ranked opponents. They capped things off by dismantling the No. 4 Nebraska Cornhuskers 37-14 in the Rose Bowl, in a game where they held a 34-0 lead in the first half.

2001 Schedule:

Sept. 1: Miami (Fla.) 33, Penn State 7 (State College, PA)
Sept. 8: Miami (Fla.) 61, Rutgers 0 (Miami, FL)
Sept. 27: Miami (Fla.) 43, Pittsburgh 21 (Pittsburgh, PA)
Oct. 6: Miami (Fla.) 38, Troy 7 (Miami, FL)
Oct. 13: Miami (Fla.) 49, (#14) Florida State 27 (Tallahassee, FL)
Oct. 25: Miami (Fla.) 45, West Virginia 3 (Miami, FL)
Nov. 3: Miami (Fla.) 38, Temple 0 (Miami, FL)
Nov. 10: Miami (Fla.) 18, Boston College 7 (Chestnut Hill, MA)
Nov. 17: Miami (Fla.) 59, (#14) Syracuse 0 (Miami, FL)
Nov. 24: Miami (Fla.) 65, (#12) Washington 7 (Miami, FL)
Dec. 1: Miami (Fla.) 26, (#14) Virginia Tech 24 (Blacksburg, VA)
Jan. 3: Miami (Fla.) 37, (#4) Nebraska 14 (Rose Bowl)


Athlon Sports Ranks the Best Teams in Every BCS League:

The Top 10 Big East Teams of the BCS Era

The Top 10 ACC Teams of the BCS Era

The Top 10 Big Ten Teams of the BCS Era
The Top 10 Pac-12 Teams of the BSC Era
The Top 10 Big 12 Teams of the BCS Era
The Top 10 SEC Teams of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Monday, December 12, 2011 - 08:00
Path: /nfl/giants-win-caps-epic-day
Body:

This morning, it's the story in the NFL: A quarterback who's building an unlikely legend around clutch fourth-quarter performances, a guy who saves his best for when the pressure's at its greatest, who creates belief among his teammates that he'll find a way to win. His latest heroics gave his team control of its own destiny in a division race that looked lost.

Well done, Eli. Your Giants are still alive — by a fingernail. We'll touch on Tebowmania in a moment, but I'd rather start with an MVP-caliber performance from Eli Manning in a do-or-die 37–34 win in Dallas. In the climactic game of one of the more gut-wrenching days in recent NFL history, the G-men's Jason Pierre-Paul deflected a potentially game-tying field goal from the toe of ice-able Dallas kicker Dan Bailey to cap an epic fourth quarter of ebbs and flows that ultimately featured Manning's sixth game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime this season. That's the most in the NFL, one more than the guy in Denver.

Down by 12 in the fourth quarter, their season hanging in the balance, the Giants put the game in the hands of their suddenly unflappable leader. Manning responded with an eight-play, 80-yard drive to cut the score to 34–29, and after a Dallas three-and-out, he led a brisk 58-yard march to glory, culminating with Brandon Jacobs' 1-yard TD with 51 seconds left.

The Cowboys didn't roll over, as quarterback Tony Romo led the Boys into field goal range with six seconds left. Bailey split the uprights with the apparent game-tying boot, only to suffer from an icing attempt from Giants coach Tom Coughlin. Hey, at least it was the opposing coach doing the icing this time. Amirite?

On Bailey's second attempt, the one that counted, Pierre-Paul capped a performance for the ages by getting a fingertip on the ball and sending it spinning harmlessly to the turf, becoming the first player this season to block a kick, record a sack and force a fumble in the same game.

Just like that, the G-men had recaptured control of their playoff fate. New York and Dallas are tied at 7–6, and the Cowboys visit the Meadowlands on New Year's Day to end the season.

After a 400-yard performance, Manning now has 4,105 passing yards, setting a Giants record and putting him in position to threaten Dan Marino's longstanding single-season record (5,084), although guys named Brees, Rodgers and Brady may get there first.

"Guys stepped up and made some big plays," Manning said. "It won't mean anything unless we finish the season strong. That's the mindset. We can't relax now or feel great about ourselves."

Hey, Eli, you can feel great for a day or two. You've earned that much.

Elsewhere…

• Okay, Tebow addicts, here's your fix: Tim Tebow added to his ever-expanding legend with his most unlikely comeback yet. Trailing 10–0, the Broncos erased the deficit in the final 2:10 of regulation — with an assist from Bears running back Marion Barber, who inexplicably went out of bounds with the Bears trying to kill the clock — and then won it in overtime after a Barber fumble killed a Bears scoring chance. Credit Matt Prater, who hit bombs of 59 and 51 yards. Credit the Denver defense, which held Chicago to 245 total yards and 10 points. Heck, credit Barber, who's wearing the goat horns this morning. But Tebow's the captain of this playoff-bound ship. There's no denying that Tebow's been clutch: In the fourth quarter and overtime this season, he's completing 60.9 percent of his passes for 770 yards, six touchdowns and one interception, and a passer rating of 107.9. The guy creates belief. There's not much more he can do.

• Speaking of improbable QB heroics, the Texans clinched the AFC South behind rookie T.J. Yates, who led the biggest drive in franchise history, an 80-yard march that ended with aa six-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Walter with two seconds left that gave Houston a 20–19 win over the reeling Bengals. "The young quarterback bailed us out," said relieved Texans coach Gary Kubiak, who probably needed a playoff berth to save his job. Well, he got it.

• The other part of the AFC South equation: a Titans loss to New Orleans, which wasn't secure until Jake Locker, who led an electric fourth-quarter comeback, was sacked inside the Saints 10-yard line of the game's final play. The 22–17 loss probably eliminated the Titans from playoff contention, but it gave them and their fans a glimpse of the future. And it looks bright.

• Detroit stayed alive with an assist from the zebras. The Vikings were a yard away from the game-winning touchdown on the game's final play, but Joe Webb fumbled as DeAndre Levy gave Webb's facemask an obvious yank. No call. Lions win. They're 8–5 and very much alive in the Wild Card race.

— by Rob Doster

Teaser:
<p> Eli Manning and the New York Giants make a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback to take down the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night and take a share of first place in the NFC East.</p>
Post date: Monday, December 12, 2011 - 04:39
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/sit-jets-receivers-santonio-holmes-and-plaxico-burress-vs-chiefs
Body:

It might be a tough play to make with the depth you have on your roster and injuries to the position, but if you are looking for New York Jets receivers Santonio Holmes or Plaxico Burress to be productive for your fantasy rosters in Week 14 against the Kansas City Chiefs, you might want to look the other way.

Kansas City is the eighth-best team against fantasy receivers this season, the second-best the last five weeks and the best the last three weeks. And it is thanks to the play of cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr.

Meanwhile, the Jets are the seventh-worst in the league the last three weeks with their fantasy receivers, are 16th the last five weeks and 12th worst all season. Over the last five games, Holmes has 241 and three scores and Burress has 269 yards and two scores.

After getting burned for seven touchdowns on 19 catches in the first five games of the season, Flowers has allowed just 17 catches and one touchdown in the last six games. A receiver has not caught more than three balls or gone over 56 yards against the second-round pick from Virginia Tech since Week 9.

Carr has given up just three scores this season, but none since a Week 9 game against Miami and the other two came in a Week 4 game against Minnesota.  After allowing 54 or more yards in three of the first six games, Carr’s had that happen just once the rest of the season (Week 11 vs. New England).

Neither Holmes nor Burress are averaging over the 56 yards that has been the best Kansas City’s Flowers and Carr have allowed over the last five weeks. Jets QB Mark Sanchez hasn’t thrown for over 180 yards the last two weeks, and the TDs are going to be hard to come against Carr and Flowers.

Again, you might have no other option, and at least Burress gives you size in the red zone — to which Kansas City is third-best against in the last three weeks allowing opponents to score on just 30 percent of their trips to the red zone ­— but I would seek help at receiver elsewhere than the Jets.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Sunday, December 11, 2011 - 11:13
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/it%E2%80%99s-reach-dolphins-receiver-davone-bess-decent-flex-vs-eagles
Body:

OK, this is a MASSIVE reach, but Miami Dolphins receiver Davone Bess, in PPR leagues, could come through big for you today against the visiting Philadelphia Eagles.

The Eagles have allowed at least one passing touchdown to a receiver in every game since Week 8 and have allowed at least one receiver to get 95 or more yards in all but last week’s game against Seattle in that same time frame.

One place in particular Philadelphia is getting eaten up is against opposing teams’ slot receivers — Bess’s position. Since Week 9, the Eagles have allowed Earl Bennett (5-95-1 on five targets), Victor Cruz (6-128-1 on 10 targets) and Wes Welker (8-115-2 on 12 targets) to go off from the slot.

Assuming Nnamdi Asomugha is on Miami’s No. 1 WR Brandon Marshall, and Brian Hartline’s outside on the other side, Bess should have room to roam. Asomugha has been is usual stingy self, allowing just 18 catches for 266 yards and to scores this season. And outside of New England’s Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez (10-for-121 and a score combined), the Eagles have allowed just 10 catches for 104 and a score over the last five weeks. So Dolphins TE Anthony Fasano’s chances for success may be limited, too.

According to Pro Football Focus, Bess has caught 30 of his 53 targets while in the slot this season. His 30 catches tie him for 10th most out of the slot, while his 331 yards are also 10th best.

Bess’s two touchdowns have both come inside the red zone — a 12-yarder last week vs. the Raiders and a 4-yarder against the Bills in Week 11. The Eagles are the worst in the league in red-zone defense, allowing teams to score 70.59 percent of the time they are inside the 20. Miami is 10th in red-zone scoring the last three weeks, crossing the goal line 58.33 percent of the time its inside the 20.

In a game that could actually see a decent amount of points scored, and despite a resurgence at QB with Matt Moore, Miami may see it’s No. 1 receiver shut down, Bess is a viable flex play, particularly in PPR leagues.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Sunday, December 11, 2011 - 11:02
All taxonomy terms: David Nelson, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/start-buffalo-bills-receiver-david-nelson-vs-chargers
Body:

All signs are pointing to Buffalo Bills receiver David Nelson being a quality start against the host San Diego Chargers in Week 14.

Buffalo RB Fred Jackson’s gone. Receiver Donald Jones is gone. Tight end Scott Chandler is out this week. Even kicker Rian Lindell was placed on IR. And the Bills’ defense is bad.

Now Nelson gets the Chargers in a game that expects to see plenty of points and Nelson is almost last-man standing opposite No. 1 WR Steve Johnson.

The Chargers should have their way offensively with a Bills team that’s lost five straight and defensively, San Diego is ranked 10th worst the last five weeks against fantasy receivers — and it hasn’t seen a solid passing game since Week 11.

Nelson has had eight targets each of the last two weeks, second to Johnson’s 23. Where Nelson can pay off is in the red zone. He was already a red zone target, as was Chandler, but only Nelson is playing in this one.

Buffalo is the seventh-best touchdown-scoring team in the red zone (57.89 percent), while San Diego is 26th in the percentage of red-zone TDs allowed (60.53). And as an aside, Buffalo’s defense is ranked 30th in red-zone TDs allowed (65.91 percent).

Nelson, when the team was at full capacity early on, had fair to moderate success. He opened the season with games of 8.6, 19.3 and 11.4 fantasy points before falling off with a 2.8. He started his rise again in Week 5 with 7.1 followed by 8.2, 6.7 12.6 and 11.1. But the up and down has been too much to deal with — 1.5 in Week 11, 13.2 in Week 12 and 5.9 last week.

The Chargers had Jacksonville rookie Blaine Gabbert and Denver’s running QB Tim Tebow to deal with the last two weeks. Obviously, the passing numbers were low. Prior to that, the Chargers allowed three Chicago receivers to gain at least 62 yards; allowed Oakland’s Denarius Moore to go 5-123-2 in Week 10; allowed three passing TDs to three Green Bay receivers and 105 yards to Jordy Nelson and allowed Kansas City to have two receivers gain at least 62 yards.

Nelson has been inconsistent, but the Bills passing game is still ranked ninth this season in points scored from fantasy receivers and are 13th the last five weeks, which included games against the pass defenses of the Titans, Jets, Dolphins and Cowboys — all but the Cowboys (22nd) are ranked in the top half of the league against fantasy receivers the last five weeks. Remember San Diego is 23rd in that time with Jacksonville and Denver in there.

It might be a reach, but the numbers say Nelson should come through in Week 14.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Sunday, December 11, 2011 - 10:57
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/start-santana-moss-confidence-against-patriots-0
Body:

Washington Redskins receiver Santana Moss has been back from his hand injury for two weeks now and been relatively quiet. That should change against the New England Patriots in Week 14.

Moss has games of 5.9 and 7.7 against the Seahawks and Jets in his first two games back — both top-11 defenses against fantasy receivers. Now the Redskins play host to the worst team against fantasy receivers in the league when the Patriots come to town.

Moss has been targeted 19 times in his two games back — six more than Jabar Gaffney. He started off the season strong against bad pass defenses like the Giants, Cardinals and Rams in the first four weeks of the season with three double-digit games. He has not had a game above last week’s 7.7 since Week 4’s 12.4 against the Rams.

The Patriots have been terrible all season against receivers, and particularly bad six of the last seven games. At least two receivers in the last four games have collected a minimum of 67 yards.

Week 13 — Colts: Pierre Garcon (9-150-2), Austin Collie (7-70) and Reggie Wayne (5-55)
Week 12 — Eagles: Jason Avant (8-110-1), DeSean Jackson (4-73) and Riley Cooper (3-71)
Week 11 — Chiefs: Dwayne Bowe (7-87) and Steve Breaston (6-73)
Week 10 — Jets: Santonio Holmes (6-93) and Jeremy Kerley (4-79)
Week 8 — Steelers: Antonio Brown (9-67-1), Mike Wallace (7-70) and Emmanuel Sanders (5-70)
Week 6 — Cowboys: Dez Bryant (4-78) and Miles Austin (7-74)

Only the Giants in Week 9 have not had two receivers gain at least 67 yards receiving since Week 5 (Victor Cruz, 6-91).

The 4-8 Redskins will be trailing just like the Colts, Eagles, Chiefs and Jets have the last four weeks, giving Moss and Grossman plenty of time to toss the ball around for garbage-time production. Plus, no Fred Davis at TE due to his four-game suspension and the threat of Roy Helu out of the backfield should mean for more opportunities for the Moss.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Sunday, December 11, 2011 - 04:23
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/green-bay%E2%80%99s-ryan-grant-sits-vs-raiders
Body:

It’s Week 14, we’re into the fantasy playoff season and you have an opportunity to sneak in a starting running back on the highest scoring team in the NFL. What a gift. Problem is: It’s Green Bay’s Ryan Grant and he will continue to be a non-factor against the Oakland Raiders in Week 14.

James Starks is out with an ankle injury and it how often could you slide an experienced starting running back that is owned in just 40 percent of Yahoo leagues into his place? Not very often, and it’s still not worth it with Grant.

The Packers have the fourth-ranked total offense (405.2 YPG) in the league and the top-ranked scoring offense (35.0 PPG), but their running game is non-existent.

Green Bay ranks 22nd in rushing attempts per game at 25.7, 29th in rushing yards per game at 96.5 and 16th in rushing touchdowns with 9 — eight of which have come from either goal line vulture John Kuhn (4), QB Aaron Rodgers (2), WR Randall Cobb (1) or defensive tackle B.J. Raji (1). James Starks is the only “feature” back to have scored this season and that came in Week 1.

Grant has 92 carries for 316 yards (3.4 YPC) and just 12 catches for 106 yards. He has no TDs either as a rusher or receiver. He got the chance to carry the load last week against a Giants team ranked 23rd against the run (127.0 YPG) but still could only manage 29 yards on 13 carries and one catch for 17 yards against the team that once traded him to Green Bay in 2007 for a future sixth-round pick.

Now the Packers get another shot at a team that’s bad against the run and below average against the pass.

Oakland is ranked 28th against the run this season, giving up 141.1 yards per game at 5.2 yards per carry and 12 touchdowns. The Raiders have the 17th-best pass defense at 231.9 yards per game with 21 TDs allowed to 14 interceptions.

So you would have to bank on a passing team to get up on Oakland and then drain the clock with the run game. But the Packers are outscoring opponents by 13.2 points per game already this season and not running the ball to grind out the game. Why start now?

Add in that rookie RB Brandon Saine is getting touches on top of Grant playing terrible this season and this is nothing more than a wasted opportunity to get a starting fantasy RB this late in the season who just won’t perform up to the standards to get you into the next round of the playoffs.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Sunday, December 11, 2011 - 04:08

Pages