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Path: /nfl/atlanta-falcons-first-7-0-start-franchise-history

Matt Ryan’s homecoming could not have gone much better. A product of Philadelphia’s William Penn Charter School, “Matty Ice” led the Atlanta Falcons to a 30–17 statement victory against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in the “City of Brotherly Love.”

The win was Ryan’s first in three attempts in his hometown, Atlanta’s first victory at Philly since Oct. 30, 1988, and the first loss Eagles coach Andy Reid has taken in a game after the bye week during his 14 years since taking over in 1999.

Ryan threw touchdown passes on the Falcons’ first three possessions, while leading the Dirty Birds on scoring drives in each of their first six possessions of the game.

“When you do that, it’s going to be a good day,” said Ryan, who completed 20-of-29 passes for 262 yards, three TDs and zero INTs for a season-high 137.4 passer rating.

The Falcons are now 15–0 when Ryan passes for three or more touchdowns. The fifth-year signal-caller out of Boston College, meanwhile, has thrown at least one scoring strike in 22 consecutive games — trailing only Super Bowl-winning future Hall of Famers Drew Brees (49) and Tom Brady (40) in that category.

The victory was also a milestone for coach Mike Smith, who passed Dan Reeves (49–59–1) to became the winningest coach in Falcons history, carrying a 50–21 career record. Smith needed the third-fewest games in history to reach the 50-win plateau — trailing George Seifert (62 games) and Chuck Knox (65 games).

“It’s not about a coach,” said Smith, who has led the Falcons to the playoffs in three of his first four seasons since taking over the top spot in 2008.

“There are a lot of people that contributed to the number of wins since (general manager) Thomas (Dimitroff) and I have gotten here. It’s about the players. It’s about the coaches. There are a lot of people that make contributions to that. We’re glad that we were able to get the win this week … We’ll enjoy this for a few minutes and then move on.”

The NFL’s lone remaining unbeaten team, Atlanta improved to 7–0 for the first time in franchise history by defeating Ryan’s predecessor, embattled Eagles quarterback Michael Vick — who was drafted No. 1 overall in 2001 and played for the Falcons until being convicted of felony charges in August 2007 for his involvement in a dog fighting ring.

How far Atlanta has come since Vick and coach Bobby Petrino were replaced by Ryan and Smith. The Falcons have gone from disgraced franchise to favorites in the NFC in five short years. But Ryan doesn’t want to hear about a potential undefeated season or trip to the Super Bowl.

“You can’t get caught up in all the ‘what ifs’ about what could happen,” said Ryan. “If you just keep your focus, you’re going to be fine.”

<p> The Atlanta Falcons are off to the first 7-0 start in franchise history after defeating the Philadelphia Eagles, 30-17, in a homecoming game for Matt Ryan.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 19:22
Path: /nfl/nfl-power-rankings-going-week-9

Athlon Sports' weekly rankings of NFL teams from the best, the lone remaining undefeated Atlanta Falcons, to the worst, the banged-up one-win Jacksonville Jaguars.

Here are our NFL Power Rankings following Week 8 of the season:

1. Falcons (7-0) Scored on first six possessions in victory at Philly.

2. Texans (6-1) Hoping to pick up where they left off before bye.

3. Giants (6-2) Up 23–0, down 24–23, but beat Cowboys 29–24.

4. 49ers (6-2) Defense holds Cardinals to seven rush yards.

5. Packers (5-3) Aaron Rodgers passes Bart Starr on team TD list.

6. Bears (6-1) Scored 16 fourth-quarter points to beat Panthers.

7. Ravens (5-2) Fined $20K for not listing Ed Reed on injury report.

8. Patriots (5-3) Tom Brady gives Rams royal treatment in London.

9. Vikings (5-3) Had no answer for Bucs rookie runner Doug Martin.

10. Broncos (4-3) Peyton Manning throws fifth straight 300-yarder.

11. Steelers (4-3) Improve to 14–1 against rookie QBs since 2004.

12. Seahawks (4-4) Lose back-to-back games for first time all season.

13. Dolphins (4-3) Matt Moore wins filling in for injured Ryan Tannehill.

14. Colts (4-3) Vick Ballard acrobatic TD leap one of year’s best.

15. Bengals (3-4) Andy Dalton ready for Peyton Manning showdown.

16. Cowboys (3-4) Dez Bryant fingertips away from epic comeback.

17. Saints (2-5) Joe Vitt’s debut as interim coach a losing effort.

18. Chargers (3-4) Robert Meachem dropped pass costly at Browns.

19. Eagles (3-4) Vick or Nick? That is the QB debate in Philadelphia.

20. Cardinals (4-4) Outscored 41–6 in prime time games this season.

21. Redskins (3-5) Ten dropped passes make RG3’s day a long one.

22. Jets (3-5) Smacked in mouth after talking big all week long.

23. Titans (3-5) Have lost seven of last eight to rival Indianapolis.

24. Lions (3-4) Matt Stafford leads ninth comeback win of career.

25. Buccaneers (3-4) Second road team to win on Thursday this season.

26. Bills (3-4) Mario Williams returns to Houston after bye week.

27. Raiders (3-4) Have not lost at Arrowhead Stadium since 2006.

28. Rams (3-5) Back out of deal to play in London in 2013 and ’14.

29. Browns (2-6) Barking after second straight win at Dawg Pound.

30. Panthers (1-6) Snatched defeat from jaws of victory at Chicago.

31. Chiefs (1-6) Jamaal Charles only given five carries in defeat.

32. Jaguars (1-6) Not good Mojo seeing MJD sidelined on crutches.

<p> NFL Power Rankings Going Into Week 9, including the Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 19:15
Path: /nba/nba-preview-will-heat-repeat

Last year, the only thing NBA fans knew was what they didn't know — like, would the season ever start? One convincing Miami Heat title and blockbuster trade later, and fans just know that it will be Miami and L.A. in the Finals. C’mon guys, it’s the NBA, no one knows everything. So...
 1) Who’s Next?
Turns out, teaming LeBron James and Chris Bosh with Dwyane Wade was a decent idea after all. But we all can’t have a Big Three. There aren’t enough All-Stars. Or max deals. Or money. So the Nuggets stole Andre Iguodala from Philly in the mega-deal that made Dwight Howard the centerpiece of a Big Four in L.A. (see No. 2), content to play as many bouncy wing players as the rules allow. The Rockets are making a Moneyball-style commitment to squeezing value from underappreciated tweeners and sleepers. The Timberwolves are essentially mimicking a strong Euroleague team. The Spurs will take one more shot with that mystical Spurs-ian thing. And the Clippers will go old-school again, betting on a great point guard and the two-handed dunk. As long as they all know they’re playing for runner-up, everyone should do just fine.
2) Will L.A.’s Ensemble Deliver?
The Lakers are not short of star power. “Just on paper, you’re obviously talking about defensive players of the years, MVPs, All-Stars,” Kobe told the Los Angeles Times. “You’re talking about a myriad of things where guys are on top of their position and have been at the top of their position.” But you’re also talking about one of the league’s oddest mixes. In Bryant and Howard, the Lakers lineup pairs two of the game’s premier scorers (and unapologetic ball-stoppers) with, arguably, the NBA’s best back- and frontcourt passers in Steve Nash and Pau Gasol. Now, add a coach whose authority is perpetually in doubt, a short bench, and the performance artist formerly known as Ron Artest. If it all goes just right, this could be the hardcourt version of “Ocean’s 11” — a bunch of talented stars having fun together as they abscond with the big prize. But if it goes wrong — if, say, someone gets hurt, old or grumpy — this could look much more like “The Expendables”: a bunch of big names joylessly going through the motions, waiting for someone to yell “cut.”
3) Is There a Dark Horse?
Yes, but he won’t be running for a while. Miami may have ended 2011-12 as champs, but it wrapped up the regular season like everyone else in the East: looking up at the 50–16 Chicago Bulls. And then Derrick Rose went down with a torn ACL. He’ll begin this season on the mend, and the rest of the league is breathing a sigh of relief. They may be fooling themselves. Coach Tom Thibodeau’s discipline and the team’s maniacal defense and talented frontcourt should keep them close until Rose’s expected return in the new year. Then, watch out. “I don’t know how I’m going to play,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I don’t know what’s going to be new about my game. I just know it’s going to be exciting.” As horses go, a team that will spend much of the season without its best player is a dark one indeed. But if Rose is galloping at full speed down the stretch, the race for the East could go down to the wire.


<p> NBA Preview: Will the Heat Repeat?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 15:09
Path: /nba/top-10-reasons-why-miami-heat-won%E2%80%99t-win-2013-nba-championship

The Miami Heat will raise their 2012 NBA championship banner before hosting the Boston Celtics on opening night of the 2012-13 NBA season. And they will do so as the league’s overwhelming favorites to win it all once again this year.

While it is clear that Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and the rest of the NBA are chasing LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Co., there is no guarantee that Heat will repeat. Here are the top 10 reasons why the Miami Heat won’t win the 2013 NBA championship:

1. LeBron Letdown
LeBron James hunted down his first NBA championship with a killer instinct previously unseen from the overanalyzed King. In one of the greatest individual efforts in history, LeBron averaged 30.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.9 steals, while shooting 50 percent from the field, over 23 playoff games last season. The postseason bar has been set ridiculously high for LeBron.

After playing into June last season and spending all summer at the London Olympics leading Team USA to the gold medal, James enters the 2012-13 season with almost no offseason rest to speak of. In a grueling marathon, the 27-year-old wunderkind will need to be fresh — physically, mentally and emotionally — come playoff time if the Heat are to successfully defend their title.

2. D-Wade’s Knee
As good as LeBron is, Miami is still Wade County. The two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP is the spark that ignites the Heat. But Wade often flies too close to the sun, sacrificing his body to make the spectacular seem routine. Entering his age 31 season, Wade was forced to withdraw from the Olympics due to surgery on his left knee. If Flash can’t go in the playoffs, the Heat’s title hopes could be dashed.

3. Third Wheel
Remember when Chris Bosh was the Toronto talent with the Predator hairstyle? What happened to that guy, whose talent was supposedly being wasted north of the border? Bosh shrunk in the spotlight of the Heat lamp. He doesn’t have to carry his own weight as a member of the “Big Three,” but Miami needs at least two and a half men to win it all.

4. Best in the West
Should the Heat advance to the NBA Finals, just showing up won’t be enough. The Oklahoma City Thunder are young and hungry. The Los Angeles Lakers are old and desperate. The San Antonio Spurs are geriatric but dangerously cagy. There will be no easy outs in June.

5. Size Matters
While Miami is playing small ball with no real center, the Lakers have two of the game’s best bigs in Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, the Thunder have two defensive menaces in Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, the Spurs have Tim Duncan down low, the Celtics have mad man Kevin Garnett, and the 76ers acquired Andrew Bynum to go along with Spencer Hawes. The Heat are relying on Chris Bosh, Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem, Dexter Pittman and Josh “Jorts” Harrellson to bang with the best in the business.

6. Spoel-strategy
Coach Erik Spoelstra is no Pat Riley. He may be underappreciated by the masses, but that is because he lacks the swagger of Riles, aura of Phil Jackson or grit of Gregg Popovich. To many, Coach Spo is just a guy in a suit (who happens to be friends with Riley) who looks confused while being outcoached by Doc Rivers or even Scott Brooks. Substitution patterns, play calls out of timeouts and clock management through the use of timeouts all fall on the shoulders of the head coach come playoff time.

7. Triple Threat
Even when LeBron and Wade are on top of their game, Miami’s small ball still relies on the 3-ball. But the Heat’s long range shooters are also long in the tooth. Newly acquired 37-year-old Ray Allen, 34-year-old Shane Battier, 33-year-old Rashard Lewis, 32-year-old Mike Miller and 32-year-old James Jones are the five oldest dudes on the roster. If those 10 legs are tired, long misses could turn into easy buckets — especially against the lightning fast Thunder — with the Larry O’Brien Trophy on the line.

8. Judas Curse
Speaking of the smooth as silk jump shot of Ray Allen… Jesus Shuttlesworth has become a symbolic Judas traitor to the rabid, superstitious fans of the Boston Celtics. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em may be a seemingly easy answer to Ray’s second-ring riddle. But the basketball gods seem to have a warped sense of karmic justice. And while Paul Pierce, KG and the C’s may seem as ancient as Red Auerbach’s old Boston Garden, they’ve given Miami trouble in the past. And no team wins the NBA title without first winning the conference crown.

9. Long Odds
History’s split stats say the Heat have a little less than a 1-in-3 shot of repeating as champs. Of the 65 previous NBA champions, 44 have failed to defend their title the following season. When D-Wade, Shaquille O’Neal and Riley won Miami’s first title in 2006, they didn’t even make it back to the NBA Finals the following season. If it were easy, the achievement wouldn’t be as sweet.

10. Mayan Apocalypse
Hey, Dec. 21, 2012 is just around the corner and super storm Sandy is beating down the East Coast. June is a long way off. If there are no NBA Finals, the Miami Heat certainly won’t repeat.

<p> Top 10 Reasons Why the Miami Heat Won’t Win the 2013 NBA Championship, including LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Erik Spoelstra and Ray Allen.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 12:26
Path: /nascar/nascar-news-notes-week-9

Brad Keselowski is not supposed to be challenging for a NASCAR Sprint Cup title. At least this year’s title. Many expect him to be a championship contender for years to come but the prevailing thought entering the Chase was that this wouldn’t be his year.

The reasons varied:

• Dodge, the team’s manufacturer, is leaving NASCAR after this season.

• Keselowski hadn’t truly been in a race for the Sprint Cup title to the final race.

• Others viewed Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin as having a better shot.

Yet, with three races to go, Keselowski trails Johnson by two points. No other driver is within 25 points of Johnson. Unless something unexpected happens, the championship race is between Johnson and Keselowski.

So, how has Keselowski gotten to this point?

Crew chief Paul Wolfe says that the team has “put blinders on all of that and not really focused on the things around us.

“I think we’ve shown growth in this team. We’ve shown improvement from the beginning of the season. I think we were lacking speed earlier the season. We were able to run well and get good finishes and win some races, but we didn’t have dominant race cars. We continued to work on our stuff and as we got closer to the Chase and, as we’ve been in the Chase, there have been tracks where I feel we’ve been dominant or as good as anybody here and that’s the improvement part I see of having the speed in the car.”

The team also has shown little impact in Dodge’s announcement that it won’t return to the sport next year and that Penske Racing will switch to Ford. Keselowski has been fast and also benefited from Wolfe’s pit strategy to win two Chase races (Chicagoland and Dover).

Another key is how the team benefited from last year’s Chase even though its title hopes ended before the season finale. The No. 2 bunch was third in the point standings with four races to go in 2011, heading to Martinsville. Keselowski was sixth in that race when he was collected in a chain-reaction incident in the final laps. NASCAR didn’t throw a caution and it cost him about 10 positions, dropping him further behind Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards and all but ending his title hopes. Although Keselowski didn’t challenge to the end, Jeff Gordon recently said he thought that was a valuable experience that has helped that team for this season.

Such experience has helped even when things have not gone as planned in the Chase.

Keselowski stayed out an extra lap at Charlotte but ran out of fuel in a race he was dominant but finished 11th. They struggled at Kansas but still managed an eighth-place finish. Qualifying has been an issue, as Keselowski has not started in the top 20 in the last four races. Each time the team didn’t panic.

It’s why Keselowski is so close to winning the Sprint Cup championship.

“It shows the potential we have together and that we’re still growing together,” Keselowski said after finishing sixth at Martinsville last weekend. “I believe that we can do this, I really do. We’ve got work ahead of us, and I know that, but we’re doing all the right things. If you do that long enough, good things will happen to you and good things are happening to us.”

HITTING THEIR STRIDE  Jimmie Johnson said his title run began months ago.

“I feel kind of mid-to-late summer we started hitting on all eight cylinders,” he says. “I guess the Indy weekend (in late July) would be a good landmark weekend for us.”

Since Indy, where he won, Johnson has scored nine top-10 finishes in 14 races. He’s led in all but two of those events.

“We were around it, hitting on things, but starting at Indy, everything started clicking really, really well for us,” Johnson says. “I feel as focused and prepared as I’ve ever been in my career. We have some very smart guys with experience. Everybody is managing their emotions well, working very hard on their individual positions and executing.”

BEST OF THE REST  Kyle Busch’s runner-up finish at Martinsville continued his strong run. Although he didn’t make the Chase, he’s had five top-10 finishes, including four top 5s, in the last seven races.

The 232 points he’s scored in the Chase is more than what seven title contenders have tallied in the same period. He’s outscored Denny Hamlin (230 points), Martin Truex Jr. (228), Matt Kenseth (223), Greg Biffle (216), Tony Stewart (211), Kevin Harvick (203) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (148), who missed two races because of a concussion suffered at Talladega.

Jimmie Johnson has scored the most points in the Chase at 282 with Brad Keselowski next at 280.

Non-Chase drivers who have scored the most points in the Chase are Busch (232 points), Joey Logano (207), Ryan Newman (202) and Carl Edwards and Paul Menard (190 each).

AT THE TOP  Michael Waltrip Racing has placed one of its drivers in the top 5 in eight of the last 10 races.

All four MWR drivers have scored at least one top-5 finish during that stretch. Clint Bowyer has four top 5s, Martin Truex Jr. has two, Mark Martin has two and Brian Vickers has one.

Only Hendrick Motorsports can top MWR’s streak of races with at least one driver in the top 5. Hendrick has had a top-5 finisher in 15 consecutive races.

CREW CHIEF SHUFFLE  Richard Petty Motorsports announced Tuesday that it has hired Drew Blickensderfer to be the crew chief for Marcos Ambrose, replacing Mike Ford.

Blickensderfer moved over from Richard Childress Racing where he had been Jeff Burton’s crew chief this season. Shane Wilson will replace Blickensderfer for the season’s final three races. Luke Lambert, who is serving as Elliott Sadler’s crew chief for RCR in the Nationwide Series, will be Burton’s crew chief next season.

<p> Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long takes a spin around the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit with Brad Keselowski's title fight with Jimmie Johnson, a crew chief shuffle, Michael Waltrip Racing's performance and Kyle Busch's hot streak.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 12:16
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-15-scariest-players-2012

Goblins, zombies, witches and skeletons. Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and Pinhead. Pick any combination of those and you have a recipe for nightmares and sleepless nights.

While those may bother some college football players and coaches, what about the actual on-field frights? Here’s a look at 15 players that have scared players and coaching staffs this season.

15 Scariest Players in College Football

Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Vitals: 6-foot-6, 256 pounds
2012 stats: 40 tackles, 15 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 4 QBH
No player defines the physical freak category more than Clowney. The South Carolina defensive end has all of the physical attributes to start right now in the NFL, but he will have to make do with terrorizing SEC quarterbacks instead. At 6-foot-6 and 256 pounds, Clowney has the size to be one of the nation’s elite run stuffers, while possessing the necessary speed to blow offensive tackles right off the line of scrimmage. The sophomore is a headache for offensive coordinators to gameplan around and gives opposing quarterbacks’ nightmares throughout the season. Another scary thought for quarterbacks? Clowney is just a sophomore and will be back for South Carolina in 2013.

Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Vitals: 6-foot-2, 255 pounds
2012 stats: 80 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 sack, 5 INT
There’s simply no defender playing at a higher level in college football this season. Te’o leads the Fighting Irish with 80 tackles and five interceptions and is a lock to earn first-team All-American honors at the end of the year. The senior is one of Notre Dame’s leaders and while he might be soft spoken, don’t let that fool you on the field. Te’o lets his play on the field do all of the talking and he is a player you have to account for at all times.

Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Vitals: 6-foot-5, 226 pounds
2012 stats: 1,630 pass yards, 12 TDs, 634 rush yards, 16 TDs
If Klein was planning on getting a Halloween costume, his decision was made easier when he gained the nickname “Optimus Klein” earlier this year. The senior is the frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy after eight weeks and is the heart and soul of Kansas State’s offense. He has 28 total touchdowns and improved passing skills have made him nearly impossible to stop. Do you load up and stop the run and allow Klein and receivers to have 1-on-1 matchups on the outside? Or do you take away the pass and allow Klein to grind away yards on the ground? Good luck defensive coordinators. Best wishes trying to get to sleep with visions of No. 7 haunting your dreams.

Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 320 pounds
2012 stats: 29 tackles, 8 TFL, 3 sacks, 3 FF
There are few 6-foot-4, 320-pound linemen who can move like Lotulelei. The Utah native keeps plenty of Pac-12 offensive linemen up at night, as they try to keep Lotulelei from destroying their quarterback. The senior moves well for someone for his size and his quick feet allow him to blow linemen right off the ball – just ask USC.

Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
Vitals: 6-foot-8, 280 pounds
2012 stats: 18 tackles, 6 TFL, 5 sacks, 6 QBH, 3 blocked kicks
Hailing from Estonia, Hunt is one of college football’s hidden gems. The senior ranked as the No. 1 athletic freak by’s Bruce Feldman and has been a monster on defense and special teams. Hunt won gold medals in the shot put and discus throw at the 2006 World Junior Championships. Additionally, he blocked seven kicks as a freshman, three as a sophomore and four as a junior. Whether he’s on special teams on lining up across offensive linemen, Hunt is a true terror on the field and a nightmare to match up against.

Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 255 pounds
2012 stats: 27 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 8 sacks, 5 QBH
The “Germanator” has lived in opposing backfields all year and has left ACC quarterbacks running for their lives this season. Werner has been the ACC’s top defensive player so far, recording 12.5 tackles for a loss and eight sacks. Whether it’s an offensive lineman or a quarterback, there’s no question Werner is not someone you want to see coming in your direction after the ball is snapped. And anytime a player has a nickname like the “Germanator,” you know he has to be a bad, bad man.

Jesse Williams, DL, Alabama
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 320 pounds
2012 stats: 14 tackles, 2 PBU
Just take a look at Williams – doesn’t he look like someone who is ready to inflict pain on opposing offensive linemen? The native Australian started his career at Arizona Western College and immediately made an impact in his first season in Tuscaloosa in 2011. Williams isn’t asked to generate much in the way of stats but the 6-foot-4 lineman is a beast for any opposing offensive lineman to handle, especially after recording a 600-pound bench press in the offseason.

T.J. McDonald, S, USC
6-foot-3, 205 pounds
2012 stats: 66 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 INT, 3 PD
Catching a pass over the middle is not necessarily high on a receiver's wish list, especially with a safety ready to deliver a blow lurking just a few yards behind. McDonald is the eptiome of this worst-case scenario for opposing wideouts, as he is one of college football’s biggest hitters and is a well-built safety at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds. With McDonald ready to lower the boom after a catch, it’s enough to make any receiver think twice about catching a slant or curl route over the middle.

John Simon, DE, Ohio State
Vitals: 6-foot-2, 263 pounds
2012 stats: 37 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 4 sacks
At 6-foot-2 and 263 pounds, Simon isn’t necessarily the biggest defensive end in college football. However, don’t let that size fool you. Simon has been a terror off the edge throughout his career and has 16 sacks in four seasons. He is also one of college football’s biggest workout warriors and is relentless when it comes to spending time in the weight room.                                                                                                                                                                                              

Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 200 pounds
2012 stats: 47 rec., 657 yds., 4 TDs
A torn ACL ended Hunter’s 2011 season after three games, but the Virginia native has shown no ill effects from the injury and remains one of the best receivers in the SEC. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Hunter has the size to be an elite red zone threat, while possessing the speed to outrun opposing defensive backs. The junior has 4.4 speed and posted a mark of 26 feet, 1.5 inches in the long jump during his freshman season.

Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Vitals: 5-foot-9, 171 pounds
2012 stats: 74 rec., 788 yards, 9 TDs; 90 rush yards, 1 kickoff return for a TD
Austin is one player you do not want to encounter in the open field. The Baltimore native has 248 career receptions for 2,912 yards and 26 scores, while also adding 478 rushing yards and three touchdowns. In addition to his production, Austin’s speed and quick-change ability is a defensive back’s worst nightmare, especially if they don’t want to be embarrassed on highlight reels for the entire college season.

Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
Vitals: 6-foot-0, 197 pounds
2012 stats: 1,319 passing yards, 9 TDs, 946 rush yards, 6 TDs
Just like Tavon Austin, “Shoelace” is a player that opposing defenders hate to see in the open field. Robinson reportedly runs a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash and even though he can be inconsistent at times, the senior can also beat defenses with his arm. Anytime a defense gets ready to take the field, there’s always that thought Robinson could be ready to run by them all for a long touchdown or connect with a receiver for a big play.

De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Vitals: 5-foot-9, 176 pounds
2012 stats: 499 rush yards, 7 TDs, 24 rec., 218 yards, 1 TD
Anytime a running back has a nickname like “Black Mamba,” he already has the full attention of defenses. And when defensive coordinators put on the tape to watch Oregon, Thomas is exactly the type of player they spend countless hours trying to gameplan around. The sophomore averaged 10.8 yards per carry in 2011 and scored 18 overall touchdowns. Here’s the real problem for defenders and coaches facing Oregon: Blink and Thomas will run right by you. Talk about a scary thought.

Daniel McCullers, DT, Tennessee
Vitals: 6-foot-8, 360 pounds
2012 Stats: 27 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 QBH
McCullers is in his first season at Tennessee but his sheer size and mere presecen on the filed is enough to cause  any offensive lineman or quarterback to panic. The junior checks in at a massive 6-foot-8 and 360 pounds. McCullers may not have Jadeveon Clowney’s speed, but he isn’t a statue around the line of scrimmage either. Can you imagine this beast running at you?

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Vitals: 6-foot-1, 205 pounds
2012 stats: 32 rec., 404 yards, 1 TD, 102 rush yards, 1 TD
Watkins got off to a slow start in 2012, but as evidenced in the win over Wake Forest, it appears he's coming alive. The sophomore caught eight passes for 202 yards and one touchdown against the Demon Deacons and is on his way to regaining the form that allowed him to catch 82 passes for 1,219 yards and 12 scores last season. Watkins isn’t just a weapon in the passing game, as he can hurt teams on the ground and on special teams. Try being a defensive coordinator attempting to stop Watkins, quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver DeAndre Hopkins. How do you slow down, let alone stop, this offense? Whether it’s athleticism or game-changing ability, Watkins is one of the nation’s most dangerous players with the ball in his hands and is constantly striking fear in opposing defensive backs.

by Steven Lassan

(published Oct. 30, 2012)

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College Football Week 9 Recap

<p> College Football's 15 Scariest Players for 2012</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 10:02
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-waiver-wire-week-9

Three more bye weeks remain with four teams getting a break each week up until Thanksgiving. As for Week 9, New England is the team owners will miss most, although San Francisco, St. Louis and the Jets have their respective useful players.

So whether it’s Tom Brady or Frank Gore or the 49ers DST you need to find a replacement for this week, here are some options for those positions and others worth considering as you look to fill out your Week 9 roster.

Week 9 Positional Rankings

Week 9 Start or Sit

Bye week teams: New England, New York Jets, St. Louis, San Francisco

Week 8 Recap: Josh Freeman posted his third-straight three-touchdown game against the Vikings, while Matt Hasselbeck, Chad Henne and Brandon Weeden combined to toss one TD pass. That came from Hasselbeck, as it was the only touchdown his Titans’ managed in their overtime loss to Indianapolis. Weeden’s Browns also scored a total of one touchdown, but that was enough to beat the Chargers. Henne didn’t even see the field as Blaine Gabbert played through a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder and helped the Jaguars put up a good fight before falling to Green Bay.

Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs
Just as he lost his job in part to a concussion, Cassel could have his starting job back after Brady Quinn sustained one this past Sunday against Oakland. Even though the Chiefs lost to the Raiders, Cassel didn’t play that poorly – 20-of-30 for 218 yards passing and a team-high 35 yards rushing. Turnovers, however, continue to be an issue as Cassel coughed up another fumble and threw a pick to increase his season total to 16 (10 INTs, 6 fumbles). Quinn will need to pass the mandatory concussion tests before he is cleared to practice, let alone play, so there’s a strong chance Cassel will be the starter this Thursday in San Diego.

Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill left the Dolphins’ 30-9 win over the Jets early after hyperextending his left knee and bruising his quad following a first-quarter sack. The rookie has said he is hopeful of playing this Sunday in Indianapolis, but if not the veteran Moore will get the nod. Moore wasn’t asked to do that much (11-of-19, 131 yards, TD) against the Jets, but he has plenty of starting experience under his belt. The Colts are allowing the 10th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, so if Moore gets the start, he could be a potential sleeper option if you are looking for one.

Running Backs
Week 8 Recap: Jonathan Dwyer reeled off his second straight 100-yard effort, as he rushed for 107 yards on 17 carries (6.3 ypc) in the Steelers’ win over the Redskins. Dwyer is making a strong case to keep the starting job even once Rashard Mendenhall and/or Isaac Redman return. Vick Ballard gained fewer yards rushing than Donald Brown (see below), but it was Ballard who scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime against the Titans after catching a pass and diving into the end zone. Rashad Jennings got 23 touches (17 carries, 6 receptions) and produced 115 total yards against Green Bay, while Danny Woodhead only saw seven for 59 total yards in the Patriots’ rout of the Rams. That was still more chances than Phillip Tanner (three for 13 yards) had in the Cowboys’ loss to the Giants.

Joique Bell, Detroit Lions
Bell got only three fewer carries (7 to 10) than Mikel Leshoure in the Lions’ win over Seattle and added four receptions to his afternoon’s work. For the season, Bell is averaging 3.9 yards per carry and is averaging better than five attempts over the past three games. He also has 20 receptions on the season and has caught three or more passes in five of the past six contests. Unless the Lions decide to give Leshoure the full workload, Bell could have some potential as a flex option, depending on how deep your league is, down the road.

Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts
Remember me? Brown was the Colts’ starting running back until knee surgery sidelined him after Week 5. He returned on Sunday against Tennessee and led the team with 80 yards rushing on 14 carries (5.7 ypc). Vick Ballard did a respectable job in Brown’s absence, but unless the coaching staff has had a change of heart, one would assume that Brown would resume his starting role, perhaps as early as this Sunday against Miami. Either way, Brown is definitely someone that should be added to your roster, if he’s still available in your league.

Justin Forsett, Houston Texans
After spending his first three seasons with Seattle, Forsett now finds himself in Houston. Forsett also could find himself with more to do now that Ben Tate will be out of action for some time due to a hamstring injury. Arian Foster is the undisputed top dog in the Texans’ backfield, but he’s already had a heavy workload (league-leading 168 carries), so there’s a chance the team may turn to someone else to help lighten the load. There’s also the matter that Houston comes off of its bye to play Buffalo this Sunday. The Bills are last in the league in rushing defense (176.9 ypg) and have given up 13 touchdowns on the ground. The opportunity at least appears to be there for Forsett to be a potential sneaky flex option this week.

Peyton Hillis, Kansas City Chiefs
Like Brown, Hillis also dropped off most people’s radars as he’s been out of action since Week 4 with an ankle injury. Hillis finally returned on Sunday and although he only had 23 yards rushing against Oakland, 17 of those came on one lone carry. He also finished with just one fewer carry (4 to 5) than Jamaal Charles, which no doubt frustrated Charles’ owners to no end. While I am not expecting Hillis to surpass Charles in the pecking order for any reason other than injury, it at least appears that Hillis will resume his backup role in the Chiefs’ running attack. If that’s the case, Hillis becomes a clear handcuff for Charles’ owners and a potential flex option/bench depth for others.

Wide Receivers
Week 8 Recap: Cecil Shorts caught eight balls for 116 yards against the Packers, while Santana Moss caught another touchdown pass in the Redskins’ loss in Pittsburgh. Jeremy Kerley and Nate Washington each hauled in five passes for their respective teams.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland Raiders
Heyward-Bey seems to be getting back into the flow of things with the Raiders after missing some time due to a concussion. He caught four passes for 85 yards (21.3 ypc) two weeks ago,  and this past Sunday he made his one catch count as he took it into the end zone from 32 yards out against Kansas City. Denarius Moore has established himself as Carson Palmer’s top target, but Heyward-Bey is more of a vertical threat. This Sunday, Oakland hosts Tampa Bay, who is ranked second-to-last in the league in passing defense (310 ypg).

T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
With four or more targets in each of the Colts’ past five games, Hilton is becoming a consistent part of his team’s passing attack. The rookie caught a season-best five passes against Tennessee and is averaging more than 14 yards per reception. With as well as Andrew Luck has thrown the ball, there will be opportunities behind No. 1 option Reggie Wayne, and Hilton should be in the mix for those along with Donnie Avery and the Colts’ tight ends.

Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs
In some leagues McCluster also qualifies as a running back, but in every sense of the word he’s a legitimate flex option. His performance was somewhat hindered by an earlier elbow injury, but he appears to be completely healthy once more. McCluster led the Chiefs with six receptions against Oakland, which went for 54 yards and their lone touchdown. He has six catches in each of the past two games, occasionally gets a carry or two out of the backfield, and can return kicks if need be. As much as the Chiefs’ offense has struggled this season, McCluster will more than likely continue to get some chances in hopes of providing some sort of spark.  

Titus Young, Detroit Lions
For a variety of reasons, Young couldn’t seem to get out of his own way to start the season and Nate Burleson took advantage of the opportunity and posted decent numbers. Burleson is out for the season after breaking his leg in Week 7 and this time, Young didn’t let another chance pass by. Young caught nine passes, on as many targets, for 100 yards and two touchdowns, all team highs, in helping the Lions defeat Seattle on Sunday. There’s no denying the talent that Young, the Lions’ second-round pick in 2011, has, it’s just been a matter of capitalizing on that untapped potential. With no one in front of him on the depth chart and All-Pro Calvin Johnson to attract plenty of attention on the field, there are no more excuses for Young to fall back on. Because this time, if he doesn’t, he may get bypassed by teammate Ryan Broyles, who caught his second touchdown pass in as many games against the Seahawks.

Tight Ends
Week 8 Recap: Logan Paulsen caught four passes for 43 yards in his first career NFL start, while David Thomas didn’t make the start, nor see much time on the field, as Jimmy Graham returned to the Saints’ starting lineup.

Zach Miller, Seattle Seahawks
After averaging nearly 57 receptions over a four-season span with Oakland, Miller caught a total of 25 passes last season, his first in Seattle. Miller already has 16 this season, including one that went for a touchdown this past Sunday against Detroit. Miller’s track record speaks for itself and it looks like Russell Wilson is realizing this and is starting to look the tight end’s way a little more frequently.

Brandon Myers, Oakland Raiders
Myers has averaged five receptions and 52 yards receiving over the past three games. Carson Palmer clearly trusts his tight end, as Myers leads the Raiders in receptions (31) and is second only to Denarius Moore in targets (37). If he could find his way into the end zone a few times, Myers could develop into a borderline starting option depending on the week and match up.

Defense/Special Teams
Week 8 Recap: Atlanta got to Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick three times in its win on Sunday, but the Falcons weren’t able to force the Eagles into any miscues, limiting their fantasy output.

San Diego Chargers
The Chargers’ defense has performed pretty well to this point, as the unit is 10th in total defense and second in rushing defense. The Chargers held the Browns to just one touchdown in a 7-6 loss on Sunday, and will host the Chiefs on Thursday. Kansas City has had its share of issues on offense, most notably with the quarterback position, and is tied for 29th in the league in scoring at 17.1 ppg.

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

— By Mark Ross, published on Oct. 30, 2012

<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 9</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: Halloween, NFL, MLB, Overtime
Path: /nfl/10-things-scare-athletes-field

Our favorite athletes play their respective games with reckless abandon, often making the very difficult look very easy. But we all know there has to be some internal fear during the highest level of competition. With Halloween upon us, Athlon Sports Monthly polled some sporting stars on "What scares you on the field?"

“I don't have any phobias. Probably too dumb. I've been in the scariest (setting) — played seven years for the Yankees. Played at Yankee Stadium. Been in the rivalry with Boston.”
—Jason Giambi, Colorado Rockies


“Nothing, can’t play with fear. You’re beat if you play with fear.”
—Shea Weber, Nashville Predators


“I would say what would scare me most on the field is not living up to the expectations of Cardinals fans. If that makes sense. Not living up to the great names who have pitched before here. The respect I have for them, for the organization, the town, that’s why. True story. I’m not trying to be sappy. That’s the driving force for me.”
—Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals


“I played in the USA All-America Game coming out of high school. I think we had like 20 players who now are in the NFL playing in that game. Reggie Bush, Steve Smith, Donte Whitner... It was intimidating to see some of those players from other states you had only heard about.”
—Tarell Brown, San Francisco 49ers


“Well, me. I'm scared of what I might do. That's an honest answer."
—Udonis Haslem, Miami Heat

“Pre-snap penalties. I’ve had a few. You just don’t want them to happen. You don’t want to be the only guy singled out, because when you mess up you’re the only guy out there.”
—Khalif Barnes, Oakland Raiders


“Messing up and getting somebody else hurt.”
—Owen Schmitt, Oakland Raiders


“I would say when you can’t see the puck. It’s just a bad feeling, you’re kind of lost in there a little bit and you can’t see the puck. That’s probably one of the worst feelings I have on the ice.”
—Chris Mason, Nashville Predators








<p> 10 Things that Scare Athletes On the Field</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 06:16
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, Overtime
Path: /overtime/20-halloween-related-names-sports

Whether it’s their given name or a nickname, these athletes and sports figures fit right in on Halloween.


Hal Mumme

College football coach (Iowa Wesleyan 1989-91, Valdosta State 1992-96, Kentucky 1997-2000, Southeastern Louisiana 2003-04, New Mexico State 2005-08, McMurry 2009-present)

Mumme (pronounced mummy) has been a college football head coach for more than 20 years and has more than 130 wins on his resume. For all his success, however, he is best known for his four seasons at Kentucky, where he went 20-26 overall and only 10-22 in SEC play. Mumme’s tenure with the Wildcats was (ahem) wrapped up at the end of the 2000 season with an eight-game losing streak and an investigation into NCAA rules violations related to illegally paying recruits. After taking a break from coaching, Mumme returned to the profession in 2003 and currently is the head coach at Division III McMurry in Abilene, Texas.


Boo Weekley
PGA golfer (2002-present)

Weekley’s given name is Thomas Brent, but everyone knows him by his nickname, Boo. This nickname came from Yogi Bear’s sidekick, Boo Boo, and not from trying to scare people, which is fitting given Weekley’s colorful personality on and off the golf course. It was on full display during the 2008 Ryder Cup when he rode his driver like it was a horse down the fairway during Singles play. Weekley and the rest of the U.S. team certainly put a fright into the European team at Valhalla in Louisville, Ky., as the underdog Americans won back the Ryder Cup with a convincing five-point victory.


Boomer Esiason
NFL (Cincinnati Bengals 1984-92, ’97; New York Jets 1993-95; Arizona Cardinals 1996)

A quarterback for 14 years in the NFL, Norman Julius, better known as Boomer, finished his career with 37,920 passing yards and 247 touchdown passes. His best season came in 1998, when he was the league’s MVP and led the Bengals to a spot in Super Bowl XXIII. He and his teammates came up short in that game against San Francisco, but Esiason will always be loved in Cincinnati, where he spent 10 seasons. The same cannot necessarily be said in New York, at least as it relates to his playing career. Esiason heard many a boo from the home crowd during his 15-27 run as the Jets’ starting quarterback from 1993-95. Esiason has remained in the game as a television and radio analyst and he also co-hosts a morning radio show on WFAN Radio in New York.


Red Grange, “The Galloping Ghost”
NFL (Chicago Bears 1925, ’29-’34; New York Yankees 1926-27)

Harold Edward, better known as “Red,” first made a name for himself and earned his spectral nickname when he starred as a halfback at Illinois. While noted sportswriter Grantland Rice was the first to record Grange’s collegiate exploits in prose, it was his colleague, Warren Brown, who then wrote for the Chicago American, who dubbed Grange “The Galloping Ghost.” Grange went on to play10 seasons in the NFL, most of them with the Chicago Bears, who later retired his number. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.


Spook Jacobs
MLB (Philadelphia Athletics 1954, Kansas City Athletics 1955-56, Pittsburgh Pirates 1956)

His given name was Forrest Vandergrift, but for some unknown reason  he went by Spook during his brief baseball career. A second baseman, Jacobs hit .247 in 188 career games and never hit a home run.


Jerry Adair, “Casper the Friendly Ghost”
MLB (Baltimore Orioles 1958-66, Chicago White Sox 1966-67, Boston Red Sox 1967-68, Kansas City Royals 1969-70)

Adair’s major league career lasted 13 seasons, in large part due to his glove and ability to deliver in the clutch. He played most of his career for the Orioles and was a .254 hitter with 57 career home runs. He finished with a career .981 fielding percentage as he played all four infield positions (primarily second base and shortstop) at some point during his time in the majors.


Michael Myers
NFL (Dallas Cowboys 1998-2003, Cleveland Browns 2003-04, Denver Broncos 2005-06, Cincinnati Bengals 2007)

Mike Myers
MLB (Florida Marlins 1995, Detroit Tigers 1995-97, Milwaukee Brewers 1998-99, Colorado Rockies 2000-01, Arizona Diamondbacks 2002-03, Seattle Mariners 2004, Boston Red Sox 2004-05, New York Yankees 2006-07, Chicago White Sox 2007)

Michael Dewayne Myers terrorized quarterbacks as a defensive end in the NFL for six seasons collecting 15.5 sacks, while Michael Stanley Myers lasted 13 seasons in baseball as a left-handed relief pitcher. Myers didn’t exactly slash his was through major league batters, as he played for nine different teams in his career. His major league totals include a 25-24 record, 4.29 ERA, 256 walks and 429 strikeouts in 541 2/3 career innings pitched.


John Candelaria, “Candy Man”
MLB (Pittsburgh Pirates 1975-85, ’93; California Angels 1985-87; New York Mets 1987; New York Yankees 1988-89; Montreal Expos 1989; Minnesota Twins 1990; Toronto Blue Jays 1990; Los Angeles Dodgers 1991-92)

Candelaria was a left-handed pitcher who won 177 games during his 19-year major league career. The “Candy Man” finished with a respectable 3.33 career ERA over his 2,525 2/3 innings pitched. He was at his sweetest in 1977 when he went 20-5 with a National League-leading 2.34 ERA. He made his only All-Star Game that season and finished fifth in the NL Cy Young voting.


Vladimir Guerrero, “Vlad the Impaler”
MLB (1996-2003 Montreal Expos, Anaheim Angels 2004, Los Angeles Angels 2005-09, Texas Rangers 2010, Baltimore Orioles 2011)

For 16 years Guerrero struck fear into the hearts and minds of major league pitchers because of his tendency to swing at whatever they threw at him, regardless of where it was located. A career .318 hitter who was named AL MVP in 2004, Guerrero finished many of his at-bats holding his wooden stake after driving it right through the pitcher’s heart with yet another monster home run or game-winning hit.


George Wolfman & Cedric Wolfman
Minor league catcher 1934-35; Minor league pitcher 1954-56

Neither of these guys got a chance to howl on the major-league level, although I bet they were a lot of fun on nights with a full moon.


Moonlight Graham
MLB (New York Giants 1905)

Best known for his inclusion in the iconic movie, “Field of Dreams,” Archibald Wright, better known as “Moonlight” was in fact a real major leaguer. The outfielder’s career in the big leagues lasted all of one game, actually one inning, with the New York Giants 1905 when he was 27. He spent seven seasons in the minors, including his last in professional baseball in 1908. After his baseball dreams came to an end, he worked as a doctor in Chisholm, Minn., for 50 years before passing away in 1965 at the age of 85.


Warren Moon
NFL (Houston Oilers 1984-93, Minnesota Vikings 1994-96, Seattle Seahawks 1997-98, Kansas City Chiefs 1999-2000)

After going undrafted out of college, Moon started his professional football career playing for the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos. Six seasons later, Moon migrated from north of the border to Houston where he started his NFL career with the Oilers. Moon played 10 seasons for the Oilers, setting numerous franchise records, before moving on to the Vikings, Seahawks and ending his career with the Chiefs in 2000. Moon’s No. 1 jersey was retired by the Oliers (now Tennessee Titans) and he finished his NFL career with 49,325 yards passing and 291 touchdown passes. In 2006, Moon became the first modern African-American quarterback inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He’s also a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (2001).


Jose Bautista, “Joey Bats”
MLB (Baltimore Orioles 2004, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 2004, Kansas City Royals 2004, Pittsburgh Pirates 2004-08, Toronto Blue Jays 2008-present)

Bautista bounced around with four different teams in his first season in the majors before finding a home in Pittsburgh. However, it’s been the past three seasons in Toronto that Bautista has made a name for himself and earned his nickname for the damage he’s done with his Louisville Slugger. In 2010-11, Bautista truly drove opposing pitchers batty as he hit a combined 97 home runs, drove in 227 runs, scored 214 and walked 232 times. He was named to the American League All-Star team and finished in the top four of the AL MVP voting each of these seasons. He was off to another strong start this season before a wrist injury caused him to miss more than a month and eventually led to season-ending surgery.


Torii Hunter, “Spider-Man”
MLB (Minnesota Twins, 1997-2007, Los Angeles Angels 2008-present)

The recipient of nine straight Gold Gloves from 2001-10, Hunter has an established reputation for his defense, most notably the art of robbing the home run. First with the Twins and now with the Angels, Hunter earned his nickname for his adept ability at climbing the outfield wall or timing his leap just perfectly to snag what seemed like a certain home run. Many a batter has experienced the agony of defeat as they watched the baseball that seemed ticketed to go over the fence get ensnared in the web of Hunter’s glove instead.


Spider Webb
Formula 1 driver 1950, ’52-‘54

Webb’s racing career lasted all of four races, in which he never finished higher than 19th. Tony Stewart may have made the move famous, but it would have been something to see Webb climb the fence after reaching Victory Lane, no?


Webb Simpson
PGA golfer (2008-present)

The professional golfer’s given name is James Frederick Webb, but whatever you choose to call him, you have to include major champion in that title. Simpson won this year’s U.S. Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco with a final score of one-over par. Simpson played in his first Ryder Cup this year as well, one of four rookies on the U.S. team. Simpson went 2-2 in his matches, but one of those losses was in Singles play as the European team roared back to defeat the Americans and retain the cup despite trailing by four points entering Sunday.


Brandon Webb
MLB (Arizona Diamondbacks 2003-09)

Shoulder injuries have short-circuited his pitching career, but Webb was at his best from 2005-08. He won 70 games during that four-year span, including 22 in 2008. He spun the best season of his career in 2006 as he went 16-8 with a 3.10 ERA and was awarded the NL Cy Young Award. He finished second in the voting the next two seasons, but hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2009.


Spud Webb
NBA (1985-91, ’95-‘96 Atlanta Hawks; Sacramento Kings 1991-95; Minnesota Timberwolves 1996; Orlando Magic 1998)

Anthony Jerome, better known as “Spud,” stands all of 5’7, but he never let his lack of size limit his impact on a basketball court. After playing at NC State for Jim Valvano, Webb was drafted in the fourth round of the 1985 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons. He never played for the Pistons and ended up spending the first six seasons of his NBA careeer with the Atlanta Hawks. Webb will forever be remembered for winning the 1986 NBA Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star weekend as he surprised everyone in defeating defending champion and Hawks teammate Dominique Wilkins for the title. Webb remains one of only two participants under six feet tall (Nate Robinson, who is 5’9 won it in 2006) to win the slam dunk competition. Webb’s NBA career lasted 12 seasons and he is documented as the third-shortest player in NBA history.


<p> 20 Halloween-Related Names in Sports</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 06:15
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-9-bowl-projections

College football's bowl season is inching closer, but it's never too early to take a look at what the matchups might look like. With nine weeks of results in the books, it's beginning to get easier to make long-term projections about teams. 

The post-Week 9 bowl projections are a mixture between how things would look if the season ended today, a look at future schedules, and a dose of the results so far this year. Expect more changes over the next few weeks. 

2012-2013 Post-Week 9 College Football Bowl Projections

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

* Indicates an at-large team due to a conference unable to fill bowl slots according to Athlon's projections.

** UCF is appealing a postseason ban and for now, is eligible to compete in the 2012 postseason.

by Steven Lassan

(published Oct. 30, 2012)

Related College Football Content

Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 9
Post-Week 9 ACC Power Rankings

Post-Week 9 Big East Power Rankings
Post-Week 9 Big 12 Power Rankings
Post-Week 9 Big Ten Power Rankings
Post-Week 9 Pac-12 Power Rankings
Post-Week 9 SEC Power Rankings
College Football Week 9 Recap

<p> College Football Post-Week 9 Bowl Projections</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 06:05
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-20-coaches-hot-seat-post-week-9-rankings

Week 9 of the 2012 college football season is in the books and plenty of coaches saw the temperature on their seat increase by a few degrees. Kentucky's Joker Phillips and Boston College's Frank Spaziani continue to hold down the top two spots in the rankings. SEC coaches own three of the top four spots, as Auburn's Gene Chizik and Tennessee's Derek Dooley both join Phillips in the top tier of this list for the third week in a row. California's Jeff Tedford jumps into the top five, while Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson makes his first appearance in the hot seat watch.

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 9 Rankings

1. Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Kentucky: 12-22 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-8
With Missouri struggling in its first season of SEC play, the Wildcats had a chance to pull off an upset in Columbia. Instead, Kentucky committed three costly turnovers and allowed the Tigers to win by throwing for just 87 yards. Although Phillips has a young team, it’s hard to find much improvement from game one to now. Unless Kentucky beats Vanderbilt and Tennessee in its final two SEC games, the Wildcats will have a new coach in 2013.

2. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Last Week’s Rank: 2
Record at Boston College: 22-25 (4th season)
2012 Record: 2-6
In an overall disappointing season, the Eagles finally had some good news to talk about on Sunday. Boston College knocked off Maryland 20-17 to score its first win over a FBS team in 2012. The victory also snapped a four-game losing streak in ACC play. Although the win was crucial to this team’s confidence heading into the last few weeks of the season, it’s unlikely to make any difference in Spaziani’s future. Boston College plays Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and NC State to close the year, which likely means the Eagles finish with a 2-10 mark.

3. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Auburn: 31-17 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-7
The adjectives to describe just how bad Auburn has performed this season are beginning to run short. The Tigers were demolished by Texas A&M 63-21 on Saturday night, dropping Auburn to 1-7 overall and 0-6 in SEC play. The Tigers should beat New Mexico State this Saturday and Alabama A&M on Nov. 17, but this team will be a heavy underdog against Georgia and Alabama. Chizik is only two years removed from a national title. But the rest of his tenure has been largely mediocre and a likely 3-9 season should be enough to force a coaching change.

4. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Tennessee: 14-19 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-5
Close, but not good enough. That’s been the motto for Dooley and Tennessee this year. The Volunteers have played a difficult schedule and lost to Georgia by seven points and South Carolina by three. With the toughest part of the schedule out of the way, Tennessee should be favored to win its final four games and will likely be 7-5 heading into a bowl. Will that be enough to save Derek Dooley’s job?

5. Jeff Tedford, California
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at California: 82-54 (11th season)
2012 Record: 3-6
If there were any doubts about Tedford’s future at California, they were sealed after Saturday’s 49-27 loss to Utah. The Golden Bears trailed 42-6 before tacking on a few late touchdowns to make the final more respectable. Since winning 17 games from 2008-09, California has been trending in the wrong direction. The Golden Bears are just 15-19 over the last three seasons and are unlikely to make a bowl game this year. It seems Tedford and California both would benefit from a fresh start.  

6. Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Southern Miss: 0-8
2012 Record: 0-8
Not many first-year coaches have jumped onto the hot seat watch over the past couple of seasons, but it’s clear Southern Miss made a bad decision when it hired Johnson. The schedule and roster turnover is to blame for part of the struggles, but the Golden Eagles haven’t been competitive in most of their games and were blown out 44-17 by Rice on Saturday. Considering the upcoming schedule – UAB, at SMU, UTEP and at Memphis – is it possible this team goes winless? UAB, UTEP and Memphis are winnable but with the way Southern Miss is playing, there’s no guaranteed win on the schedule.

7. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Last Week’s Rank: 6
Record at Buffalo: 6-26 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-7
The Bulls have had some chances to beat quality teams this year but just can’t seem to make enough plays to turn those into victories. Buffalo lost 25-20 to Toledo on Saturday, dropping its record to 1-7 and 0-4 in MAC games. The Bulls have lost by seven points or less to Connecticut, Ohio and Toledo. With a 6-26 mark, Quinn needs to win a couple of games over the final four weeks to save his job. The remaining schedule isn’t daunting but there’s not a guaranteed win.

8. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at New Mexico State: 10-36 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-6
After suffering a 41-7 defeat to Utah State in Week 8, the Aggies weren’t expected to put up much of a fight against Louisiana Tech. However, New Mexico State gave the Bulldogs all they could handle before losing 28-14. With the loss to Louisiana Tech, the Aggies were eliminated from bowl contention and could struggle to win another game the rest of the season with a difficult schedule ahead. With an uncertain conference future, it’s hard to envision many coaching candidates being interested in New Mexico State if Walker is fired. However, a new coach might help spark this struggling program get to a winning season.

9. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Central Michigan: 9-23 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-5
The Chippewas kept their slim bowl hopes alive with a 35-14 victory over Akron. The win over the Zips was Central Michigan’s first in MAC play this season and sets this team up for a favorable four-game stretch to close the year. The Chippewas host Western Michigan this Saturday, before taking on Eastern Michigan, Miami and UMass. All four of those games are winnable and a 6-6 mark is probably good enough for Enos to return in 2012. However, a 4-8 record or 5-7 should be enough for a coaching change.

10. David Bailiff, Rice
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Rice: 26-44 (6th season)
2012 Record: 3-6
After narrowly losing to Tulsa in Week 8, the Owls won their first Conference USA game of the season with a 44-17 victory over Southern Miss. And considering the upcoming schedule – at Tulane, SMU and at UTEP – Rice should have a chance to finish 5-7 or 6-6. It’s not easy winning at Rice, but Bailiff has shown very little progress in his tenure. If the Owls can get to .500, it would be a good sign that the program is headed in the right direction going into 2013.

11. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at UNLV: 5-29 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-8
The Rebels are showing signs of life under Hauck, but the win column hasn’t gotten much better this season. UNLV dropped its fifth consecutive game with a 24-13 defeat to San Diego State in Week 9. The Rebels have lost five games by 11 points or less and suffered a disappointing defeat to Northern Arizona in Week 2. The next four games – New Mexico, at Colorado State, Wyoming and at Hawaii – are very winnable for UNLV. And it’s not out of the question to suspect Hauck’s future could rest on the team’s performance in the next few games.

12. Skip Holtz, South Florida
Last Week’s Rank: 12
Record at South Florida: 15-18 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-6
The Bulls’ disappointing season continued with another close loss. Syracuse scored on the final offensive play of the game, dropping South Florida to 0-3 in games decided by four points or less this season. After the Bulls’ second-half collapse last season, Holtz and his staff need to show some progress in the final few games of 2012. South Florida hosts Connecticut this Saturday but take on Miami, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh to close out the year. Holtz signed a huge contract extension at the end of last year, but the Bulls are just 7-13 over the last two seasons.

13. Mike Price, UTEP
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at UTEP: 47-59 (8 years)
2012 Record: 2-7
The Miners were officially eliminated from bowl contention with a 45-35 loss to Houston in Week 9. With the loss to the Cougars, UTEP will have at least seven losses for the seventh consecutive season. Price did a good job of leading the Miners to back-to-back bowl games in 2004-05, but the program hasn’t made much progress. Considering the lack of improvement, Price is not expected to return to El Paso in 2013.

14. Paul Pasqualoni, Connecticut
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Connecticut: 8-12 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 3-5
The Huskies had a much-needed bye in Week 9 and return to action at South Florida this Saturday. The off date came at a good time for Pasqualoni and his team, especially after the offense has managed just 27 points over its last three games. Connecticut still has a chance to make a bowl game, but the bigger question to be decided over the final four matchups is what direction this program is headed. The Huskies have wins over UMass, Buffalo and Maryland this season and have yet to face Louisville and Cincinnati – two of the top three teams in the Big East.

15. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Western Michigan: 50-45 (8th season)
2012 Record: 3-6
The Broncos haven’t had much luck in the way of injuries this season, as leading receiver Jaime Wilson missed Saturday’s game against Northern Illinois, and quarterback Alex Carder is not expected back for the Week 10 matchup against Central Michigan. All of the injuries have taken a toll on Western Michigan’s offense and its record, as Cubit’s team is 3-6 and has a three-game losing streak. The last three contests are very winnable – at Central Michigan, Buffalo and Eastern Michigan – but 6-6 might not even be enough for Cubit to return for 2013.

16. Danny Hope, Purdue
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Purdue: 19-26 (4th season)
2012 Record: 3-5
Hope is on a steady climb in the hot seat watch and even though he received a contract extension at the end of last year, he is in jeopardy of being fired at the end of the year. Since starting 3-1, the Boilermakers have lost their last four games, including a 44-28 dismantling at Minnesota in Week 9. If Purdue can salvage a bowl game, Hope will probably be safe to return for 2013. However, the schedule isn’t particularly easy, as Purdue hosts Penn State and an improving Indiana team, along with a road trip to Iowa.

17. Jon Embree, Colorado
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Colorado: 4-17 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 1-7
Embree drops two spots in this week’s hot seat watch but that’s only due to other coaches moving higher on the list. Colorado’s miserable 2012 season continued with a 70-14 loss at Oregon, dropping the Buffaloes' record to 1-7. Embree has done little to suggest the program is headed in the right direction but all signs point to the second-year coach returning in 2013. Colorado wants to hire more support personnel for the football program, but coaching changes – especially on defense – might be the only way this team is more competitive in 2013.

18. Mack Brown, Texas
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Texas: 147-41 (15th season)
2012 Record: 6-2
There’s really only one word to describe Texas’ victory against Kansas on Saturday: Ugly. The Longhorns needed a touchdown with less than a minute to go to knock off a Jayhawks’ team that lost to Rice and has just one victory this year. Considering the grumblings from the Texas fan base after a win, the calls for Brown’s job would have been almost deafening had the Longhorns lost. Texas could surpass last season’s eight-win mark, but it’s also fair to question whether or not this team is headed in the right direction.

19. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Last Week’s Rank:
Not ranked
Record at Georgia Tech: 37-24 (5th season)
2012 Record: 3-5
Johnson started his Georgia Tech career with a bang. The Yellow Jackets went 20-7 through his first two years and played in the 2010 Orange Bowl. However, the program hasn’t made much progress since, recording a 17-17 mark over the last three years. The Yellow Jackets are also in danger of missing out on a bowl game this season and their only two wins over FBS teams came against Boston College and Virginia – a combined 4-12. Another reason Johnson could be in trouble? Athletic director Dan Radakovich left his post at Georgia Tech for Clemson.

20. June Jones, SMU
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at SMU: 28-32 (5th season)
2012 Record: 4-4
The Mustangs evened their 2012 record to 4-4 with a victory over Memphis in Week 9. With just one loss in conference play, SMU still has Conference USA title aspirations and hosts frontrunner Tulsa in the season finale. Although Jones has transformed the Mustangs into a bowl team, he hasn’t raised the program like many expected. And of course, there are still some hard feelings after he nearly landed the Arizona State job last year. Could Jones throw his name into the mix for more jobs this offseason? A fresh start might be a good idea for both parties.

by Steven Lassan

Related College Football Content

Post-Week 9 ACC Power Rankings
Post-Week 9 Big East Power Rankings

Post-Week 9 Big 12 Power Rankings

Post-Week 9 Big Ten Power Rankings

Post-Week 9 Pac-12 Power Rankings

Post-Week 9 SEC Power Rankings

College Football Week 9 Recap

<p> College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 9 Rankings</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 06:04
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-draft-rankings-middle-linebackers

It is never too early to begin looking ahead to next year's NFL Draft. Each year a unique set of prospects enters the professional ranks with a chance to make an immediate impact on the country's most powerful sport. The 2013 NFL Draft won’t be any different.

Today, we rank college football's best middle linebackers prospects:

1. Manti Te’o, Notre Dame (6-2, 245, Sr.)
This guy pretty much sells himself as the best player at his position in the 2013 Draft — even in a draft class that is extremely deep at the position. He was likely a first-round pick last year and has put together a Heisman-caliber season as a senior. He also dropped a few pounds for 2012, which has given him elite quickness and burst to go with tremendous strength, tackling skill, physicality, intangibles, leadership and size. He is a sure-fire NFL prospect who will likely start right away.

2. Alec Ogletree, Georgia (6-3, 235, Jr.)
Physical. Explosive. Can play in any system. Has faced the nation’s top programs. Ogletree has had some issues off the field but they have been relatively minor and shouldn’t keep him out of the first round. The raw upside on Ogletree makes him one of the most intriguing players in the upcoming draft at any position. If he stays clean off the field, his speed, instincts and overall productivity should make him a first rounder.

3. Kevin Minter, LSU (6-2, 240, Jr.)
On a team with little depth and talent around him at linebacker, Minter has played excellent football in 2012. He has good size, is the leader of the LSU defense, makes plays all over the field and has elite level toughness. He has played behind elite defensive lineman, so scouts will want to see him in traffic more often. The good news for Minter is he has saved his best season for his last and it will help him come Draft Day.

4. Shayne Skov, Stanford (6-3, 242, Sr.)
Off the field issues — injuries and a DUI — have slowed Skov’s career over the last few seasons. Yet, his impact was immediate when he stepped on campus. He leads one of the best front sevens in the game with elite size and physicality. He is an extremely tough player with tremendous instincts and tackling ability. If healthy and focused, he might be one of the most talented players in the nation at his position.

5. CJ Mosley, Alabama (6-2, 235, Jr.)
Mosley could easily end up as an outside linebacker, but for now, he is one of the nation’s elite interior tacklers. He plays well in space and on the inside and continually makes plays against both the run and the pass. He has one national title ring and is the leader of one of the nastiest defenses in the nation this fall. He has speed, power, toughness and fundamentals. Look for Mosley to grade out highly at either outside or inside linebacker.

6. Kevin Reddick, North Carolina (6-3, 240, Sr.)
A slow senior season has cost Reddick some money this fall. He still has excellent size, speed and strength for the interior of any defense. He possesses NFL speed and size,  but hasn’t made enough big plays to be considered an elite prospect. However, he has the skills needed to be a productive player at the next level.

7. Michael Mauti, Penn State (6-2, 235, Sr.)
The steady veteran has all but locked up Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2012 with stellar leadership this fall. Especially considering what Penn State has gone through this season. He isn’t overly talented at any one thing but is extremely consistent and physical. Think Sean Lee, Dan Connor or a slightly less talented version of Paul Posluszny.

8. Nico Johnson, Alabama (6-3, 245, Sr.)
There is a lot to like about this senior’s resume. He has two national championships already and has been a big part of one of the nation’s top defenses. He is excellent against the run and can play inside or out. Yet, he has had long stretches of relatively quiet play. Is that a sign of steady production no matter the situation or a sign of less than elite consistency?

9. Jon Bostic, Florida (6-1, 245, Sr.)
In the midst of a semi-disappointing senior year (from an NFL scouting standpoint), Bostic has become a focal point and leader for one of the nation’s elite defenses. He is a tough hitter and can make big plays from all over the field. He has the size and toughness to start inside on the NFL level, but will need to prove his overall talent before the draft.

10. Chris Borland, Wisconsin (5-11, 245, Jr.)
The original Honey Badger is an elite competitor. He has a motor that never quits and he can be used in a variety of ways. He has played inside, outside and exclusively as a pass rusher on third downs this fall. He consistently makes big plays (blocked kicks, forced fumbles, sacks, tackles for loss) and will remind many scouts of Cleveland's D'Qwell Jackson — short but stout.

11. Jonathan Brown, Illinois (6-1, 235, Jr.)
12. Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech (6-2, 245, Sr.)
13. A.J. Klein, Iowa State (6-2, 245, Sr.)
14. Kiko Alonso, Oregon (6-3, 245, Sr.)
15. Tom Wort, Oklahoma (6-0, 235, Jr.)
16. Kenny Demens, Michigan (6-1, 240, Sr.)
17. Steve Beauharnais, Rutgers (6-2, 230, Sr.)
18. Uona Kaveinga, BYU (5-11, 235, Sr.)
19. Andrew Jackson, Western Kentucky (6-1, 260, Jr.)
20. Will Compton, Nebraska (6-2, 230, Sr.)
21. James Morris, Iowa (6-2, 230, Jr.)
22. Christian Robinson, Georgia (6-2, 235, Sr.)
23. Steve Greer, Virginia (6-2, 235, Sr.)
24. Vince Williams, Florida State (6-0, 240, Sr.)
25. Shaq Wilson, South Carolina (5-11, 225, Sr.)

Other names to watch:

Doug Rippy, Colorado (6-3, 245, Sr.)
Jake Johnson, South Alabama (6-1, 240, Sr.)
Dwayne Beckford, Purdue (6-1, 235, Sr.)
Herman Lathers, Tennessee (6-0, 230, Sr.)
Kenny Cain, TCU (6-1, 225, Sr.)
Tenarius Wright, Arkansas (6-1, 250, Sr.)
Tanner Brock, TCU (6-3, 250, Sr.) 

- by Braden Gall

Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:

2013 NFL Draft: Running Backs

2013 NFL Draft: Tight Ends
2013 NFL Draft: Safeties

2013 NFL Draft: Defensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Wide Receivers

2013 NFL Draft: Offensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Inside Linebackers

<p> 2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Middle Linebackers</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-basketball/west-coast-conference-2012-13-college-basketball-preview

Athlon Sports continues its countdown to the start of the 2012-13 basketball season, which begins with the first games on Nov. 9, with a countdown of the nation’s top conferences. We will release one conference preview each day, counting down to the top conference. For profiles of every team in each conference, check out the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store.

The West Coast Conference had one of the most unorthodox seasons it’s seen in the last two decades, and not just because the league added BYU to the mix.

Certainly, adding BYU played a role in the WCC’s success last season, enabling the league to send three teams to the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in conference history.

But what was really strange in the WCC was not seeing Gonzaga at the top of the league. For the first time since 1996-97, Gonzaga capture neither a share of the regular season title nor the conference tournament title. Instead, Saint Mary’s became the first WCC team to win both an outright regular season title and the league tournament title since Pepperdine in 1991-92.

The addition of BYU’s consistency makes the WCC a deeper league, but Gonzaga may be poised to return to its familiar spot as the West Coast king.

G Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary's* 2011-12 regular season champion: Saint Mary's
G Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga 2011-12 NCAA Tournament teams: BYU, Gonzaga, Saint Mary's#
G Anthony Ireland, Loyola Marymount New coaches: None
F Elias Harris, Gonzaga Realignment: None
F Brandon Davies, BYU  
*preseason player of the year #conference tournament champion

1. Gonzaga (26-7, 13-3)

Mark Few and the Zags made it 13-for-13 last season, but the road to another NCAA Tournament berth wasn’t quite the same as it had been in the past. It was the first time in a dozen years that Gonzaga didn’t claim at least a share of the WCC regular-season crown. Despite the loss of Robert Sacre, the Bulldogs will have a potent and skilled frontline that will be an upgrade over last season. Elias Harris is back for his senior campaign. The skilled German worked on his body and conditioning over the offseason, and Few intends to play the 6-7, 240-pounder at small forward in an effort to get him on the floor as much as possible. The all-freshman backcourt of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. didn’t disappoint a year ago. Pangos wound up leading the team in scoring, but it may have been Bell who was the most consistent player. Bell didn’t score as much — he averaged 10.4 points in 28.9 minutes of action — but he was terrific on the defensive end. His offensive production should increase as a sophomore as he becomes more assertive. There’s not much missing in Spokane this year. Gonzaga has talent, balance and experience. After a one-year hiatus, the Bulldogs should return to supremacy in the increasingly competitive WCC.
Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament Two and Out

2. BYU (26-9, 12-4)
In their first season together, BYU and the other West Coast Conference schools coexisted nicely. Having lost the WCC’s leading scorer, forward Noah Hartsock, the Cougars will rely even more on all-conference center Brandon Davies while hoping that young guards keep developing in the Cougars’ second season in the league. BYU classifies its big men simply as “post” players, but it is fair to say that Davies functions as a traditional center. He thrived against some undersized opponents in the WCC, ranking fourth in the league in scoring and rebounding. Coach Dave Rose essentially uses a three-guard lineup. UCLA transfer Matt Carlino immediately took over as the starting point guard in mid-December after becoming eligible. He proved to be a dynamic, if inconsistent, scorer as a freshman. BYU is well stocked at the two wing positions. Tyler Haws returns from a church mission after averaging 11.3 points and 4.2 rebounds as a freshman in 2009-10. Brock Zylstra is an overachiever who emerged as a scoring threat in ’11-12. The Cougars’ biggest deficiencies in the post-Jimmer Fredette era were 3-point shooting and free throw shooting. Their 34.3 percent showing from beyond the arc was the worst in Rose’s seven seasons. The hope is that junior college transfer Raul Delgado will improve that figure.
Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament One and Done

3. Saint Mary’s (27–6, 14–2)
The Gaels are coming of an historic season, capturing both the West Coast Conference regular-season and tournament titles for the first time. Saint Mary’s has won the WCC Tournament in two of the last three seasons and has made three of the last five NCAA Tournaments while in the process eliminating the intimidation factor of league bully Gonzaga. With WCC Player of the Year Matthew Dellavedova and three other starters returning, the Gaels have a good chance to earn yet another bid and battle the Zags and BYU for the WCC crown. Dellavedova was one of two returning college players to participate in the Olympics, starting alongside Patty Mills for the Australian team in London. He averaged 15.5 points and 6.4 assists per game last season and is a preseason All-America candidate. Dellavedova will be joined in the backcourt by Stephen Holt, a defensive wizard who will be expected to up his 10.1 points per game this season. Brad Waldow had strong efficiency stats en route to earning WCC All-Freshman honors in 2011-12. Up front, Southern Utah transfer Matt Hodgson will be counted on to make up for some of the production lost by the graduation of double-double machine Rob Jones.
Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament One and Done

4. San Diego (13–18, 7–9)
After three straight sub-.500 seasons, Bill Grier seems poised to get the Toreros back on the plus side and further away from the point-shaving scandal that rocked the program. All five starters return, led by emerging star Johnny Dee. The 6-0 guard made the WCC All-Freshman team and exploded for 30 points in a win over Pepperdine in the WCC Tournament. Dee averaged 13.7 points for the season and will again be leaned on to pace the offense. Diminutive point guard Christopher Anderson also enjoyed a strong freshman year with 9.0 points and 5.0 assists, which was double the next closest freshman in the category. Up front, Dennis Kramer and Simi Fajemisin give San Diego very good size, though their rebounding must improve after USD was last in the WCC in rebound margin. A pair of seniors — Chris Manresa and Cameron Miles — give USD solid production off the bench.
Postseason prediction: NIT

5. Loyola Marymount (21–13, 11–5)
Max Good was rewarded with WCC Coach of the Year honors last season after winning 21 games. Good has his best player returning in guard Anthony Ireland, a dynamic point guard who averaged 16.1 points and 4.9 assists. Two other veteran starters are back in Ashley Hamilton (11.0 ppg) and Godwin Okonji (4.6 rpg). The Lions did lose All-WCC first-teamer Drew Viney as well as Jarred DuBois, who transferred to Utah after averaging 10.1 points off the bench. Incoming freshman Nick Stover has gotten some good press and will be able to find minutes if he is ready. The Lions knocked on the door of the Big Three in the league last year, but they will be in a dogfight with San Diego this year for fourth place behind Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and BYU.

6. Santa Clara (8–22, 0–16)
Santa Clara struggled through a puzzling 0–16 league record last season one year after winning 24 games and the postseason title. Kevin Foster, a first-team All-WCC guard in ’10-11, returned for Kerry Keating, but the team did suffer the loss of forward Marc Trasolini to a torn ACL in the preseason, which contributed to the Broncos’ downturn. Trasolini, who averaged 12.8 points as a junior and 13.7 as a sophomore, should return to the starting lineup as a fifth-year senior. In addition to Foster, Santa Clara returns the other four starters from last season, plus the top three bench players. Evan Roquemore averaged 13.8 points per game led the team in assists (5.3 apg) and will team with Foster to give the Broncos a solid backcourt. If Santa Clara wants to improve, it must up its defensive pressure after finishing 302nd nationally in steals and 303rd in field goal defense.

7. Pepperdine (10–19, 4–12)
Coach Marty Wilson enters his second season at his alma mater no closer to breaking into the top echelon of the league than when he took over last year. The Waves struggled offensively in 2011-12, finishing last in the WCC in points (59.3 ppg), field goal percentage (.396) and 3-pointers made per game (5.0). With the top two scorers departing plus another starter who averaged 8.7 points per game, Pepperdine figures to struggle once again putting points on the board. If there is a reason for optimism, it comes in the form of senior Lorne Jackson, a 6-2 guard who missed last season with a knee injury. Jackson averaged 13.2 points as a junior in 2010-11 and, along with returning starters Jordan Baker (9.0 ppg) and Caleb Willis (sixth in WCC in assists), will head a solid three-guard starting lineup. Up front, without Corbin Moore at center, it could be a challenge. UCLA transfer Brendan Lane and sophomore Jan Maehlen will see minutes, but neither has a track record of production.

8. San Francisco (20–14, 8–8)
Rex Walters appears headed for a tough rebuilding job after six players — including starters Perris Blackwell and Mikey Williams — transferred during the offseason. With two other starters graduating, Walters has little experience to lean on. Point guard Cody Doolin started all 34 games and averaged 9.3 points and 3.8 assists. Walters’ top two players off the bench are back in Dominique O’Connor and Cole Dickerson, plus transfer De’End Parker (UCLA) should find time right away. After winning 11, 12, 19 and 20 games in his first four years, Walters can expect to see a significant decline this season.

9. Portland (7–24, 3–13)
Portland took a big step backward in 2011-12, a step that would have been even bigger without Santa Clara, who the Pilots beat three times. Three starters return, including top player Ryan Nicholas. The 6-7 junior averaged 11.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game and will be counted on to carry an even larger load this season. Kevin Bailey, the team’s second-leading scorer (9.5 ppg) is also back, as is 6-11 sophomore Thomas van der Mars (7.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg). The point guard will be senior Derrick Rodgers, who is in his second year with Portland after transferring from junior college. Rodgers split starts last year with Tim Douglas, who transferred to Portland State. Douglas was the more productive of the two, averaging 8.5 points and 3.0 assists, so his loss will be felt. Rodgers made just one 3-pointer all season while averaging over 17 minutes per game.

More previews for the 2012-13 season can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store

Athlon Conference Previews and Power Rankings
10. Missouri Valley
11. Conference USA
12. Colonial
13. Sun Belt
14. MAC
15. Horizon

Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

3. Kentucky
4. Kansas
5. Syracuse
6. Michigan
7. Arizona
8. Ohio State
9. Duke
10. Michigan State
11. NC State
12. UCLA
13. UNLV
14. North Carolina
15. San Diego State
16. Missouri
17. Baylor
18. Memphis
19. Notre Dame

20. Florida

More from the 2012-13 College Basketball Preview:
Top 10 Freshmen for 2012-13

Impact Transfers for 2012-13
Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2012-13
10 Players Returning from Injury

Gonzaga leads International Dream Team

<p> West Coast Conference 2012-13 College Basketball Preview</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 05:46
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-25-college-football-week-9-0

With another lopsided victory against a ranked opponent, Kansas State received enough votes to edge Oregon for the No. 2 spot in the Legends Poll.

Heisman frontrunner Collin Klein continued his phenomenal play, leading Kansas State to a 55-24 win over Texas Tech.

“I think (coach and former Legends Poll voter) Bill Snyder is doing a great job,” Legends Poll voter John Cooper said. “Kansas State is a very, very well coached football team.  Those good teams, Alabama and Kansas State, teams like that, you’ve got to beat them.  They’re not going to beat themselves.”

Top-ranked Alabama continued to roll against Mississippi State and remained the unanimous No. 1 team.

Notre Dame proved its worth on Saturday, going on the road and stifling Oklahoma, 23-13. With the victory, the Irish moved up two spots to No. 4 in the Legends Poll.

Idle LSU remained the highest ranked one-loss team and rounded out the top five.

No. 7 Georgia moved up five spots in the rankings and back into the top 10 after knocking off Florida. The Gators dropped six spots to No. 8.

No. 9 Clemson moved up two spots, followed by unbeaten Louisville, which made its first top 10 appearance of the season.

No. 12 Oregon State suffered its first loss of the season at Washington and dropped three spots. However, no team fell more in the rankings than USC. The Trojans dropped eight spots to No. 18 in the Legends Poll after suffering an upset at Arizona.

No. 19 Nebraska, No. 23 Northwestern and No. 25 Louisiana Tech returned to the top 25 this week.

Michigan, TCU and Wisconsin dropped out of the rankings.

To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll.



1 AlabamaAlabama (17) 8-0 425 1
2 Kansas StateKansas State 8-0 398 4
3 OregonOregon 8-0 397 2
4 Notre DameNotre Dame 8-0 375 6
5 LSULSU 7-1 356 5
6 Florida StateFlorida State 8-1 336 8
7 GeorgiaGeorgia 7-1 327 12
8 FloridaFlorida 7-1 294 3
9 ClemsonClemson 7-1 284 11
10 LouisvilleLouisville 8-0 257 14
11 South CarolinaSouth Carolina 7-2 248 15
12 Oregon StateOregon State 6-1 225 9
13 StanfordStanford 6-2 209 18
14 Texas A&MTexas A&M 6-2 202 19
15 OklahomaOklahoma 5-2 185 7
16 Mississippi StateMississippi State 7-1 170 13
17 Boise StateBoise State 7-1 166 21
18 USCUSC 6-2 135 10
19 NebraskaNebraska 6-2 95 -
20 Texas TechTexas Tech 6-2 94 16
21 Oklahoma StateOklahoma State 5-2 84 25
22 West VirginiaWest Virginia 5-2 51 23
23 NorthwesternNorthwestern 7-2 46 -
24 RutgersRutgers 7-1 45 17
25 Louisiana TechLouisiana Tech 7-1 38 -

Others Receiving Votes

Texas 16, Kent State 13, Arizona 10, UCLA 8, Cincinnati 8, Utah State 7, North Carolina 5, Arizona State 5, TCU 4, Wisconsin 3, Iowa State 2, Toledo 1, Northern Illinois 1

Teams Dropped Out from Last Week's Poll

Michigan, TCU, Wisconsin


* The Legends Poll voting process is exactly what the BCS is trying to create and Athlon will bring it to you as the de facto Selection Committee for fans to follow over the next two seasons, allowing you to see how the Selection Committee will operate from 2014 onward.  You can see the entire Poll at

<p> The Legends Poll Top 25: College Football Week 9</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 20:27
All taxonomy terms: Halloween, NFL, MLB, Overtime
Path: /nfl/15-things-scare-athletes-field

Many professional stars seem fearless on their respective fields of play. But away from the game, many of them have the same fears that all of us share. With Halloween approaching, Athlon Sports asked hundreds of athletes, "What scares you off the field?" Here are our favorite responses.


"Passing a police car.”
—Sam Hornish Jr., NASCAR


“Bats, I don’t like bats. I used to do siding and painting in high school and college. I was up on a ladder and a bat came and slapped my face. Fangs were flying. I’ve just never been comfortable with them. They don’t know where they’re going. They’re blind. They just come by and get in your hair. They’re nasty.”
—Hal Gill, Nashville Predators


“The only thing is when I was a kid I hated roller coasters and heights. That was the only thing I was intimidated by. The rest of my family would be like, 'Come on. Let's go.' I'd say, 'I'm cool. I'll just chill over here.' I think the biggest thing is just not being in control. I haven't been back to an amusement park in a long time.”
—Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals


“That would be my mom. Oh yeah. I was an only child, grew up with my mom. I don’t know if I can say this, but she beat me a few days when I was a bad little kid. I deserved it, obviously. Yeah, mine would be my mom.”
—Michael Huff, Oakland Raiders


As a kid, I was always scared of getting lost. Not knowing where your parents were was pretty scary. We didn't have a GPS when I was little.
—Craig Robertson, Cleveland Browns


“I’d say the potholes in New York City. I feel like they search my rims out just to do damage. I’ve got one I have to fix right now. Honestly, that’s what scares me. I have to remind myself not to swerve the car when my daughter’s in there because I’m so used to jerking the wheel at the last second.”
—Mathias Kiwanuka, New York Giants


“Elevators. I was terrified of being stuck in an elevator. Actually, it happened after I had the fear. My older sister got stuck in an elevator and then I was always scared of it and then one time at the dentist I got stuck. It was only like five minutes, but it felt like forever. Yeah, the elevator is horrible.”
—Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers


“Probably sleeping, and it's dark and you hear stuff at night and you don't know where it's coming from. You just keep your eyes closed and wake up in the morning.”
—Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs



“Scary movies. Still to this day, I don’t really watch many of them. That’s probably the only thing I’d own up to. I don’t care for those too much. The last one I saw was Friday the 13th maybe. It left me scarred.”
—Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys


“I've been afraid of heights as long as I can remember. I'm the guy who always puts the shade down as the plane taking off. I jumped off the balcony from the second floor when I was small, and broke my leg. But that's not really why I'm afraid of heights. My cousin told me if I jumped first, he'd do it after me. But then he didn't jump.”
—Udonis Haslem, Miami Heat

—Khalif Barnes, Oakland Raiders


“I don't like roller coasters. I don't ride anything that's not on the ground, except airplanes.”
—Tarell Brown, San Francisco 49ers

<p> 15 Things That Scare Athletes Off the Field</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 17:54
Path: /college-football/sec-post-week-9-power-rankings

There was a big shakeup in the SEC East with Georgia seizing control of the division race after beating rival Florida in Jacksonville. The Dawgs have jumped up to No. 3 in the weekly power rankings. Ole Miss made a big move, as well, from No. 11 to No. 8 after beating Arkansas in Fayetteville on a last-second field goal.

Post-Week 9 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. AJ McCarron, Alabama — McCarron continues to lead the nation in passing efficiency after completing 16-of-23 for 208 yards with two touchdowns and no picks in the Crimson Tide’s 38–7 win over Mississippi State.

2. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M — Manziel was back to his old play-making self in the Aggies’ 63–21 win at Auburn. Johnny Football threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 90 yards and three scores to lead an offense that rolled up over 300 yards rushing and passing.

3. T.J. Yeldon, Alabama — The true freshman is emerging as Alabama’s top rushing threat. Yeldon ran for 84 yards on only 10 carries in the win over Mississippi State and now has 357 yards and five touchdowns in the last three games. He is averaging 7.0 yards per carry, the most by an SEC back with more than 40 carries.

Post-Week 9 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina — Clowney delivered the play of the game in South Carolina’s 38–35 win over Tennessee. The Vols drove to the South Carolina 19-yard line trailing by only three points, but Clowney forced a fumble at the 1:08 mark that basically ended the game. In nine games, Clowney has 50 tackles (15.0 for a loss) and 8.5 sacks.

2. Jarvis Jones, Georgia — Jones made plays all over the field in the Bulldogs’ upset over Florida. The junior linebacker recorded 13 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles. He helped secure the win by knocking the ball out of Jordan Reed’s hands at the 5-yard line with 2:05 remaining and Georgia holding an eight-point lead. Sanders Cummings recovered the ball in the end zone to secure the win.

3. Kevin Minter, LSU — The junior middle linebacker has 75 tackles and three sacks for the season. LSU was off last season.

Post-Week 9 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Nick Saban, Alabama — Alabama is 8–0 overall and 5–0 in the SEC after its 38–7 win over Mississippi State. The Crimson Tide have won every game by at least 19 points and have not led by less than 13 points at any point in the second half.

2. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss — After going winless in the SEC last season, Ole Miss is now 2–2 in the league after winning at Arkansas 30–27 on Saturday. The Rebels are one of the most improved teams in the nation.

3. Will Muschamp, Florida — The Gators suffered their first loss of the season last weekend, but this is still a much-improved team. The Gators have been outstanding on defense and efficient (until Saturday) on offense. Muschamp has quieted the critics who questioned whether he was the right man for the job.

Post-Week 9 SEC Power Rankings

1. Alabama (8–0, 5–0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 1
Week 8 result: Beat Mississippi State 38–7
Alabama handed Mississippi State its first loss of the season — and did so in convincing fashion. The Tide relied on a balanced attack (as usual) and won the turnover battle (as usual) en route to its 12th straight win. AJ McCarron completed 16-of-23 passes for 208 yards with two touchdowns, and has now thrown 177 passes this season without an interception. T.J. Yeldon was the leading rusher for Bama, averaging 8.4 yards on his 10 attempts. Alabama still has not given up more than 14 points in any game this season.
Next week: at LSU

2. LSU (7–1, 3–1 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 3
Week 8 result: Bye
LSU has a chance to play its way back into the national title race with No. 1 Alabama coming to town on Saturday night. The Tigers, who have won their three SEC games by a total of nine points, will need to make plays in the passing game to beat Alabama. You can’t beat the Tide simply by running the ball.
Next week: Alabama

3. Georgia (7–1, 5–1 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 8 result: Beat Florida 17–9
Georgia seized control of the SEC East with a surprising 17–9 win over Florida in Jacksonville. It wasn’t always aesthetically pleasing — the two teams combined for nine turnovers and 24 penalties — but it was a huge win for a Georgia team that has failed to play up to its potential for most of the 2012 season. Freshman Todd Gurley was the only offensive standout for either team, rushing for 118 yards on 27 carries. Quarterback Aaron Murray, who was so sharp in the win at Kentucky, completed only 50 percent of his passes and was intercepted three times. It was his first game with more than one pick this season.
Next week: Ole Miss

4. Florida (7–1, 6–1 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 8 result: Lost to Georgia 17–9
The Gators’ SEC East title hopes took a huge hit with a 17-9 loss to Georgia. Florida needs to beat Missouri next week and hope Georgia loses to either Ole Miss or Auburn. The Gators had committed a total of four turnovers in their first seven games but lost four fumbles and threw two interceptions on Saturday. Florida entered the game averaging 212.7 yards rushing but netted only 81 on 41 attempts. Jeff Driskel threw for more than 100 yards for the first time in four games, but he completed only 53.8 percent of his passes and was picked off twice. More important, he was not much a threat running the ball — something that has been a huge part of the Florida attack.
Next week: Missouri

5. South Carolina (7–2, 5–2 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 8 result: Beat Tennessee 38–35
South Carolina has its first-ever three-game winning streak against Tennessee, but the story in Columbia was the horrific injury to tailback Marcus Lattimore. The junior, who tore his ACL last season, suffered a devastating knee injury while planting his right leg in the second quarter. Both teams were visibly shaken by the injury, but play resumed and South Carolina held on for the three-point win in what turned out to be a highly entertaining second half. The Gamecock defense gave up a season-high 472 yards but made the key plays down the stretch to preserve the victory. Connor Shaw threw for a career-high 356 yards and a season-high three touchdowns to lead the Carolina offense.
Next week: Bye

6. Mississippi State (7–1, 3–1 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 8 result: Lost to Alabama 38–7
Mississippi State hoped to be the first team to make Alabama sweat in the second half. Didn’t happen. The Bulldogs fell behind 14–0 after one quarter and 24–0 at the half on their way to their first loss of the season. MSU netted only 47 yards rushing against the ferocious Alabama defense. LaDarius Perkins, who had three straight 100-yard games prior to Saturday, netted only 38 yards on 15 carries. The highly touted State secondary had trouble slowing down the Alabama passing attack. Tide quarterback AJ McCarron threw for 208 yards (and averaged 9.0 yards per attempt) with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Next week: Texas A&M

7. Texas A&M (6–2, 3–2 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 8 result: Beat Auburn 63–21
The Aggies’ offense got back on track against the struggling Auburn Tigers. Texas A&M rolled up 671 yards of offense — including over 300 on the ground and through the air — while picking up its fourth road win of the season. Johnny Manziel, as usual, led the way with 260 yards passing and two touchdowns and added 90 yards rushing and three scores on the ground. Texas A&M is now averaging 522.4 yards in its five SEC games, the most in the league vs. conference opponents.
Next week: at Mississippi State

8. Ole Miss (5–3, 2–2 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 8 result: Beat Arkansas 30–27
We knew Ole Miss was vastly improved. Now the Rebels have a quality win to prove it. Bryson Rose drilled a 31-yard field goal as time expired to give the Rebels their first SEC road win since 2009. Ole Miss is now one win away from bowl-eligibility under first-year coach Hugh Freeze, who now has to be in the discussion for SEC Coach of the Year honors. Bo Wallace completed 29-of-37 for 278 yards and one touchdown. Wallace, a junior college transfer, led Ole Miss on an eight-play, 61-yard drive in two minutes to set up the game-winning field goal.
Next week: at Georgia

9. Tennessee (3–5, 0–5 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 8 result: Lost to South Carolina 38–35
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley summed it up best after his team dropped 0–5 in the SEC for the third straight season. “It’s the same old song and dance at the SEC level,” said Dooley, who has yet to beat a ranked team in his two-plus years at Tennessee. There were plenty of positives for the Vols — Tyler Bray threw for 368 yards and four touchdowns, and Zach Rogers had 107 yards receiving and three scores — but in the end they simply couldn’t make the big play when it mattered most. Trailing by three points, UT drove deep into South Carolina territory in the final minutes, but Bray lost a fumble after being hit by Jadeveon Clowney. “We had a chance to win, and they made a great play,” Dooley said.
Next week: Troy

10. Vanderbilt (4–4, 2–3 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 8 result: Beat UMass 49–7
The Commodores overcame a slow start — they led only 7–0 late in the second quarter — but dominated winless UMass in the second half to even their record at 4–4. Vanderbilt broke the game open with four touchdowns in a six-minute span in the third quarter. Quarterback Jordan Rodgers was sharp, completing 17-of-21 for 217 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. The Dores were forced to go most of the game without Zac Stacy, who went down with an ankle injury in the first quarter. Stacy is expected to return next week vs. Kentucky.
Next week: at Kentucky

11. Arkansas (3–5, 2–3 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 8 result: Lost to Ole Miss 30–27
Was Arkansas turning the corner after winning two straight? Or did the Hogs just take advantage of a soft spot in the schedule with wins over Auburn and Kentucky? I think it’s safe to say it was the latter. The Hogs’ modest winning streak was snapped with a 30–27 loss at home to surging Ole Miss. Arkansas outgained the Rebs 464 to 355 but was unable to get key stops late in the game. After the Razorbacks tied the game on a Dennis Johnson 5-yard run with 2:44 remaining, Ole Miss drove 61 yards for the game-winning field goal. Arkansas, now 3–5, must win three of its final four games to become bowl-eligible.
Next week: Tulsa

12. Missouri (4–4, 1–4 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 8 result: Beat Kentucky 33–10
It took longer than most Missouri fans would have liked, but the Tigers picked up their first SEC win on Saturday. Mizzou scored 33 points despite gaining only 273 yard thanks in part to an opportunistic offense that converted all three of Kentucky’s lost fumbles into touchdowns. James Franklin, who missed most of the Vanderbilt game and all of the Alabama game with a knee injury, was forced into action in the second half after redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser was intercepted on consecutive possessions. Franklin threw for only 16 yards and did not have a rushing attempt in his five possessions. Kendial Lawrence had his first 100-yard game vs. an SEC foe, gaining 108 yards on 23 carries.
Next week: at Florida

13. Auburn (1–7, 0–6 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 8 result: Lost to Texas A&M 63–21
The Tigers hit a new low on Saturday night, losing by 42 points at home to SEC newcomer Texas A&M. The Aggies rolled up 671 yards of offense — the most ever given up any Auburn team — and scored seven touchdowns on the eight possessions played by starting quarterback Johnny Manziel. Clint Moseley got the start at quarterback for the third straight week but only attempted one pass. Kiehl Frazier and Jonthan Wallace both saw significant action in relief. Wallace, a true freshman who has been used almost exclusively as a Wildcat quarterback, completed 6-of-9 for 122 yards and two touchdowns and added 71 yards rushing.
Next week: New Mexico State

14. Kentucky (1–8, 0–6 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 8 result: Lost to Missouri 33–10
Kentucky’s offense took a step back on Saturday after a relatively strong showing in a 29–24 loss to Georgia two weeks ago. The Wildcats gained only 179 total yards — their fifth SEC game with under 250 — and were shut out in the second half in a 33–10 loss at Missouri. Kentucky had three drives in the first quarter that went for 50 yards or more but were completely shut down in the second half. The Cats’ longest drive in the final two quarters went for 20 yards; their other six possessions either ended with a punt after three plays or a turnover. True freshman quarterback Patrick Towles returned after missing two games with an ankle injury. He completed 1-of-4 for two yards.
Next week: Vanderbilt

<p>  </p> <p> There was a big shakeup in the SEC East with Georgia seizing control of the division race after beating rival Florida in Jacksonville. The Dawgs have jumped up to No. 3 in the weekly power rankings. Ole Miss made a big move, as well, from No. 11 to No. 8 after beating Arkansas in Fayetteville on a last-second field goal.</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 06:05
Path: /college-football/big-12-post-week-9-power-rankings

Kansas State continues to separate itself from the rest of the teams in the Big 12. The Wildcats cruised to a 55-24 victory over Texas Tech in Week 9, improving Bill Snyder's team to 8-0 this year. Oklahoma suffered its second loss of the season, dropping a 30-13 game to Notre Dame in Norman. The defeat to the Irish knocks the Sooners out of the national title picture once again, but Oklahoma still has a chance to win the Big 12 crown. Iowa State moved within one game of bowl eligibility with a victory over Baylor, while Oklahoma State defeated TCU to improve to 5-2 overall.

Post-Week 9 Big 12 Power Rankings

1. Kansas State (8-0, 5-0 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Beat Texas Tech 55-24
The Wildcats solidified their place atop the Big 12 power rankings with a 55-24 win over Texas Tech. Collin Klein led the way with 233 yards through the air and 83 on the ground, while recording four overall scores. Although the defense gave up some yards, it forced three turnovers, including one that was returned for a score in the fourth quarter. Kansas State is the clear favorite to win the Big 12 and is in the mix to play for the national title.
Next Game: Oklahoma State

2. Oklahoma (5-2, 3-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Lost to Notre Dame 30-13
With Texas Tech losing and West Virginia on bye, Oklahoma retains the No. 2 spot in the Big 12 power ranks by default. The Sooners lost 30-13 to Notre Dame on Saturday night, which was their second home loss of the season. Quarterback Landry Jones threw for 356 yards but never managed to hit any big plays. The Irish defense also kept running back Damien Williams in check and forced a key interception. Although the loss officially knocks Oklahoma out of the mix for the national title, the Sooners still have a chance to win the Big 12 – provided Kansas State loses twice.
Next Game: at Iowa State

3. Texas Tech (6-2, 3-2 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Lost to Kansas State 55-24
A week after scoring a key road win at TCU, the Red Raiders fell 55-24 to the Big 12’s No. 1 team – Kansas State. Texas Tech took an early 7-3 lead but three turnovers and an inability to stop the Wildcats’ offense didn’t allow any chance to stick around in the game. Quarterback Seth Doege had thrown 13 touchdowns in the two previous games, but Kansas State’s defense held him to two scores on 35 completions. Texas Tech plays its next two games at home, starting with a date with Texas this Saturday.
Next Game: Texas

4. West Virginia (5-2, 2-2 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
After back-to-back losses, West Virginia’s bye week came at the right time. The Mountaineers need to regain their rhythm on offense, along with finding some answers for a defense that is allowing 39.8 points per game. West Virginia has a difficult three-game stretch upcoming, starting with a home date against TCU this Saturday, followed by a road trip at Oklahoma State and then a home game against Oklahoma.
Next Game: TCU

5. Texas (6-2, 3-2 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Beat Kansas 21-17
Ugly. That’s about the only way to describe the Longhorns’ victory over Kansas on Saturday. Texas trailed 17-14 with just over two minutes to play but used a nine-play drive to score the game-winning touchdown. Quarterback David Ash was benched after a slow start, and Case McCoy rallied the team with 68 passing yards and one touchdown. The offense wasn’t the only issue, as Texas didn’t have an answer for Kansas’ ground game. The Longhorns’ struggling secondary will be under fire this week against Texas Tech's potent passing attack.
Next Game: at Texas Tech

6. Oklahoma State (5-2, 3-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Beat TCU 36-14
Wes Lunt started slow in his return to the lineup, but the true freshman quarterback found his rhythm in time to lead Oklahoma State to a 36-14 victory. Lunt finished with 324 passing yards, while running back Joseph Randle recorded 126 yards and one touchdown on 32 attempts. The Cowboys’ defense stepped up in the second half and held TCU without a point. Oklahoma State has won three consecutive games and has a chance to stamp its place in the Big 12 title picture with a matchup over Kansas State this Saturday.
Next Game: at Kansas State

7. Iowa State (5-3, 2-3 Big 12)
Last Week: 8
Week 9 Result: Beat Baylor 35-21
The Cyclones moved one game closer to bowl eligibility with a 35-21 win over Baylor. Iowa State’s offense gashed the Bears for 557 yards, while the defense forced four turnovers and made enough timely plays to limit Baylor to 21 points. A big reason for the success of Iowa State’s offense was the play of quarterback Steele Jantz, who threw for 381 yards and five touchdowns on 36 completions. The Cyclones host Oklahoma this Saturday, before playing at Texas on Nov. 10.
Next Game: Oklahoma

8. TCU (5-3, 2-3 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Lost to Oklahoma State 36-14
The Horned Frogs dropped their second consecutive Big 12 game with a 36-14 loss at Oklahoma State. And an even bigger storyline from the game is quarterback Trevone Boykin, who suffered a knee injury against the Cowboys. If Boykin has to miss any snaps, Matt Brown will become TCU’s third starting quarterback of 2012. The Horned Frogs don’t catch any breaks on the upcoming schedule, hosting Kansas State and Oklahoma, while taking on West Virginia and Texas on the road. Considering the final four opponents, TCU will have trouble just getting to .500.
Next Game: at West Virginia

9. Baylor (3-4, 0-4 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Lost to Iowa State 35-21
The Bears dropped their fourth consecutive game with a 35-21 defeat to Iowa State. With an offense averaging 395.7 yards per game, Baylor’s defense needs to step up and make a few stops if this team wants to make a bowl game in 2012. The Bears allowed Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz to throw for a season-high of 381 yards and five touchdowns, while giving up 176 yards on the ground. The only good news for Baylor? The Bears should get a win over Kansas this Saturday. However, the schedule is very difficult over the final four weeks, as Baylor takes on Oklahoma, Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
Next Game: Kansas

10. Kansas (1-7, 0-5 Big 12)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Lost to Texas 21-17
For the most part, Charlie Weis’ first season in Lawrence has been miserable. The Jayhawks are 1-7 and lost to Rice in Week 2. However, let’s give Kansas a little credit this week. The Jayhawks gave Texas all it could handle and just fell short of a victory. Weis and his staff did a good job of exploiting the Longhorns’ defensive weaknesses, while the defense forced two turnovers and held Texas to just 131 yards through the air. The Jayhawks may not win a game the rest of the year, but Saturday’s loss should give this team some much-needed confidence for the final four contests.
Next Game: at Texas Tech

by Steven Lassan

Related College Football Content

Big East Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings

<p> Big 12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 06:04
Path: /college-football/big-east-post-week-9-power-rankings

Just two weeks ago, the Big East was basking in the glow of three teams undefeated in October.

That number is down to one. Barely.

Louisville edged Cincinnati 34-31 in overtime Friday to keep its record unblemished. Rutgers wasn’t so lucky against the Big East’s 2012 nemesis, the MAC. The Big East is 4-4 against the MAC this season, but two of the losses handed Rutgers and Cincinnati their first defeats of the season in a two-week span.

Ryan Nassib

Offensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville --
If the debate needed to be settled, Bridgewater sealed his spot as the Big East’s top quarterback over Cincinnati’s Munchie Legaux. Bridgewater was 24 of 41 for 416 yards with two touchdowns and an interception against the Bearcats on Friday. Bridgewater is completing 67.4 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and a pick in three conference wins this season.

2. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse -- Nassib completed the eighth fourth-quarter comeback of his career thanks to four second-half touchdown passes against USF. In the second half and overtime this season, Nassib is completing 70.7 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions.

3. Jawan Jamison, Rutgers -- The game was all but taken out of Jamison’s capable hands when the Scarlet Knights turned to the pass to catch up against Kent State. Jamison rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown and caught eight passes for a career-high 88 yards.

Defensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers --
The collapse against Kent State notwithstanding, Greene remains the top defensive player in the Big East. He finished seven tackles and a forced fumble against the Golden Flashes.

2. Jason Hendricks, Pittsburgh -- Pitt’s opponent last week, Temple, isn’t built to test many secondaries, but Hendricks finished with six tackles against the Owls.

3. Calvin Pryor, Louisville -- This spot was held last week by Pryor’s teammate, defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin, who left the Cincinnati win with an injury. While the Cardinals await word on their newfound pass rusher, let’s take a look at Pryor, who has four forced fumbles and two interceptions this season, including one in the win over the Bearcats.

Coach of the Year Standings
1. Charlie Strong, Louisville --
Louisville doesn’t always make it look easy, but the Cardinals remain the class of the Big East. Five of Louisville’s last six wins were by a touchdown or less. Despite the close calls, Louisville is finding ways to close out games, which is something Strong couldn’t say a year ago.

2. Kyle Flood, Rutgers -- Rutgers surprise story came crashing down as the Scarlet Knights lost 35-23 to Kent State (7-1). Rutgers still has a chance to win the Big East, but they’ll have to find more consistency on offense before resume conference play on Nov. 17 against Cincinnati.

3. Butch Jones, Cincinnati -- Sure, it’s odd to have the coach of a team that lost back-to-back games on this list, but who else should be considered? The Bearcats bounced back from the loss to Toledo to take Louisville to overtime on the road. A major test will be this week against a Syracuse team that suddenly has momentum.

Big East Post-Week 9 Power Rankings

1. Louisville (8-0, 3-0)
Last week’s rank:
Week 9 result: Beat Cincinnati 34-31 in overtime
Cincinnati tested Louisville on both sides of the ball, but the Cardinals eventually adjusted, even if it took overtime to do so. Louisville caught the final break of the game when John Wallace got a second chance at a game-winning a field goal after the first attempt -- and a bad snap -- was erased on a Cincinnati time out. Teddy Bridgewater struggled early in the game but bounced back to to lead the Cardinals to their fourth fourth-quarter comeback of the season. If there’s any concern, it’s the Louisville defense giving up 197 rushing yards to USF and 196 rushing yards and three touchdowns to Cincinnati in the last two weeks. That trend will be worth watching as the Cardinals face run-heavy Temple this week.
This week: Temple

2. Rutgers (7-1, 4-0)
Last week’s rank:
Week 9 result: Lost to Kent State 35-25
Rutgers’ slow starts and good fortune caught up to them in a spectacular way against Kent State. Trailing 21-10 to Kent State, the Scarlet Knights struggled in the first half against the Golden Flashes the same as they had against Syracuse and Temple. Unlike the other two games, turnovers sabotaged the comeback bid against Kent State as quarterback Gary Nova threw six interceptions when the Scarlet Knights had to put the game on his shoulders to pull out of a two-score deficit. Nova will remain the starting quarterback as Rutgers has two weeks (an off week and a non-conference game against Army) to find out what went wrong before returning to Big East play.
This week: Off

3. Cincinnati (5-2, 1-1)
Last week’s rank:
Week 9 result: Lost to Louisville 34-31 in overtime
Cincinnati emerged from its two-game road swing with two losses by a combined nine points and may have trouble getting back into the Big East race, barring a collapse by Louisville. Even without defensive end Walter Stewart, the Bearcats were able to get pressure on Teddy Bridgewater at times (three sacks), but they were burned for three pass plays of 50 yards or more, including a 64-yard touchdown catch by DeVante Parker. Munchie Legaux threw three interceptions, giving him five interceptions in the last two games. He also failed to complete half of his passes for the second consecutive week.
This week: Syracuse

4. Syracuse (4-4, 3-1)
Last week’s rank: 4
Week 9 result: Beat USF 37-36
Syracuse won consecutive Big East games for the first time since Oct. 23-30, 2010 with a back-and-forth game against USF. Syracuse spotted the Bulls a 20-point halftime lead before crawling back in the second half, culminating with a 1-yard touchdown pass to win the game in the final six seconds. With back-to-back games coming up against Cincinnati and Louisville, Syracuse has a chance to stay in the Big East title hunt. Although the Orange completed the comeback, coach Doug Marrone has to be concerned with a run defense that allowed 369 yards to USF, the highest total of the season by 111 yards. Syracuse had been holding Big East opponents to 1.2 yards per carry. USF averaged 8.2 yards.
This week: at Cincinnati

5. Pittsburgh (4-4, 1-3)
Last week’s rank:
Week 9 result: Beat Temple 47-17
The good version of Pittsburgh showed up for the second consecutive week, something that’s been a rarity for the Panthers over the last few years. Wins over Buffalo and Temple marked the first time Pitt had defeated consecutive FBS teams since defeating Cincinnati and Kentucky to end the 2010 season. The Panthers’ running back tandem of Ray Graham and Rushel Shell was once again productive (259 yards from scrimmage, four touchdowns), but the play of quarterback Tino Sunseri has been excellent. Sunseri has completed 70 percent of his passes in four of the last five games and hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 3 against Virginia Tech. More of this will be needed in South Bend this week.
This week: at Notre Dame

6. Temple (3-4, 2-2)
Last week’s rank:
Week 9 result: Lost 47-17 to Pittsburgh
After starting 2-0 in the Big East, Temple has fallen back to Earth over the last six quarters of conference play. Since leading Rutgers 10-0 at halftime two weeks ago, Temple has been outscored 82-17 in the last game and half. Along the way, Pittsburgh gashed Temple for 528 yards. The lack of a passing game (ranked 118th nationally) has cut into the production of the run game as the Owls averaged 2.8 yards per carry against Rutgers and 3.2 yards per carry against Pitt, two of their three lowest averages of the season.
This week: at Louisville

7. USF (2-6, 0-4)
Last week’s rank:
Week 9 result: Lost to Syracuse 37-36
USF looked as good as it has all season when it took a 23-3 lead on Syracuse. Alas, there was still the second half to play. Syracuse answered with three consecutive scoring drives to open the third quarter, but USF answered, too. Still, the final seconds of the fourth quarter brought the same ending as Ryan Nassib completed the game-winning 1-yard touchdown pass with six seconds remaining. Since October last season, the Bulls have lost eight games in which they led in the fourth quarter, plus two others when they started the fourth quarter tied. USF’s best chance to pick up its second Big East win since the start of 2011 will be this week against Connecticut in Tampa.
This week: Connecticut

8. Connecticut (3-5, 0-3)
Last week’s rank:
Week 9 result: Off
Connecticut will hope the off week helped the Huskies fix their ailing run game, which has become the worst in the Big East by a wide margin. UConn is averaging a conference-low 1.55 yards per carry in league games. The next worst (Pitt, 3.11 yards per carry) is averaging twice that. The Huskies have not rushed for a touchdown in three Big East games, the next worst is Rutgers (two). If there’s a cure to the UConn run game, it might be USF, which is last in the league in run defense.
This week: at USF

By David Fox

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Three and Out: Week 9 Recap

ACC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings

<p> Big East Post-Week 9 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 06:02
Path: /college-football/acc-post-week-9-power-rankings

Week 9 of ACC action was highlighted by North Carolina’s 43-35 win over NC State and Florida State’s 48-7 blowout victory over Duke. Clemson defeated Wake Forest 42-13, while Boston College earned its first win over a FBS team by knocking off Maryland 20-17.

Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina – Bernard recorded his fourth consecutive game of at least 100 rushing yards on Saturday, while taking a punt back with less than a minute to go to give North Carolina the victory over NC State.

2. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson – Boyd was sharp in Clemson’s easy 42-13 win over Wake Forest on Thursday night. He completed 27 of 38 passes for 428 yards and five touchdowns.

3. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State – Manuel had an off game against Duke but leads the ACC in passing efficiency (174) and is completing 70 percent of his throws.

Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State – Werner recorded only three tackles and one tackle for a loss against Duke but still claims the No. 1 spot in the defensive player of the year rankings.

2. Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland – Vellano dominated the line of scrimmage in Saturday’s game against Boston College, recording five tackles, 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble.

3. Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke – Cockrell and Duke’s defense struggled against Florida State, but he ranked third on the team with seven tackles and forced one fumble.

Coach of the Year Standings

1. David Cutcliffe, Duke – Even though the Blue Devils lost to Florida State, this team still has a chance to win the Coastal Division title. Cutcliffe is a heavy favorite to take home ACC Coach of the Year honors.

2. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State – The Seminoles continue to rank as the ACC’s No. 1 team in the power rankings. Florida State crushed Duke 48-7 in Week 9.

3. Larry Fedora, North Carolina – With no postseason possibilities, Fedora has done a good job of keeping the Tar Heels motivated to play. North Carolina improved its record to 6-3 with a huge win over rival NC State in Week 9.

Post-Week 9 ACC Power Rankings

1. Florida State (8-1, 5-1 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Beat Duke 48-7
Thanks to NC State’s loss to North Carolina and a convincing 48-7 win over Duke, Florida State moved back into the driver’s seat for the ACC Atlantic title. The Seminoles lost four turnovers but held Duke to just 232 yards of total offense. Quarterback EJ Manuel was off for most of the game but connected with Rashad Greene on a 71-yard bomb to opening the scoring and a 35-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin in the third quarter. The Seminoles have an off date in Week 10 and are back in action on Nov. 8 at Virginia Tech.
Next Game: at Virginia Tech (Nov. 8)

2. Clemson (7-1, 4-1 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Beat Wake Forest 42-13
The Tigers’ offense led the way for this team throughout the first half of the season, but the defense has come on strong over the last two weeks. After holding Virginia Tech to 17 points last week, Clemson limited Wake Forest to 13 points and under 300 yards of total offense. Quarterback Tajh Boyd found Sammy Watkins eight times for 202 yards and one touchdown, while DeAndre Hopkins caught six balls for 64 yards and one score. If the Tigers can win their final four games, they should have a good shot at making a BCS bowl.
Next Game: at Duke

3. North Carolina (6-3, 3-2 ACC)
Last Week: 6
Week 9 Result: Beat NC State 43-35
With North Carolina ineligible to play in the postseason, Saturday’s game against NC State was essentially this team’s Super Bowl. The Tar Heels jumped out to a 25-14 lead, but the Wolfpack led 35-25 going into the fourth quarter. However, North Carolina roared back and tied the game at 35 deep in the fourth quarter. After NC State failed to run out the clock with just over a minute to go, running back Giovani Bernard returned a punt 74 yards for the game winning score. The win snapped a five-game losing streak to NC State and gives the Tar Heels some in-state bragging rights until next season.
Next Game: Georgia Tech (Nov. 10)

4. NC State (5-3, 2-2 ACC)
Last Week: 3
Week 9 Result: Lost to North Carolina 43-35
The Wolfpack’s recent run of domination against North Carolina ended with a 43-35 loss. NC State rallied from a 25-14 deficit at the end of the first to hold a 35-25 lead going into the fourth quarter. However, the Wolfpack allowed the Tar Heels to score 10 unanswered to tie the game with just over two minutes to go. After NC State tried to run out the clock, Giovani Bernard returned a punt 74 yards for the game winning score. Not only was this a huge loss for bragging rights in the state, but the Wolfpack no longer control their destiny in the ACC Atlantic title race.
Next Game: Virginia

5. Virginia Tech (4-4, 2-2 ACC)
Last Week: 5
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
The Hokies had a bye in Week 9 and return to action against Miami this Thursday. The off date came at a good time for Frank Beamer’s team, especially after losing to Clemson 38-17 on Oct. 20. Virginia Tech still has a good chance to win the Coastal title but can’t afford to have two more losses. The Hokies play at Miami and Boston College, while hosting Florida State and Virginia. Virginia Tech will be an underdog against the Seminoles, which makes Thursday night’s game against Miami even more important for Coastal positioning.
Next Game: at Miami (Thursday)

6. Duke (6-3, 3-2 ACC)
Last Week: 4
Week 9 Result: Lost to Florida State 48-7
Although the Blue Devils are an improved team, they are still a long ways away from winning at Florida State. Duke was easily handled 48-7 by the Seminoles, managing only 232 offensive yards in the process. Quarterback Sean Renfree left early due to a head injury, and his status for this Saturday’s game against Clemson is uncertain. Despite the loss, the Blue Devils are still in the mix for the ACC Coastal title.
Next Game: Clemson

7. Miami (4-4, 3-2 ACC)
Last Week: 7
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
With a Thursday night showdown against Virginia Tech up next, Miami had an off date in Week 9. The bye week came at a good time for the Hurricanes, especially with quarterback Stephen Morris looking to recover from an ankle injury suffered in the 18-14 loss to North Carolina. And after playing eight consecutive weeks, there’s plenty of bumps and bruises that a bye can help to heal. Miami can still win the Coastal Division but Thursday night’s game will be critical to those title hopes.
Next Game: Virginia Tech (Thursday)

8. Georgia Tech (3-5, 2-3 ACC)
Last Week: 8
Week 9 Result: Lost to BYU 41-17
After showing some improvement on defense in the win over Boston College last Saturday, the Yellow Jackets reverted back to their porous ways. Georgia Tech gave up over 400 yards to BYU and allowed over 40 points for the fourth time this season. The defense wasn’t the only culprit, as the offense never got on track and was held without a touchdown. The loss to the Cougars dropped the Yellow Jackets to 3-5 and in serious jeopardy of missing out on a bowl game. Maryland and Duke would seem to be the most winnable matchups, but Georgia Tech would need to beat North Carolina or Georgia to get to six wins. Needless to say, the Yellow Jackets have to quickly find some answers on both sides of the ball to reach the postseason.
Next Game: at Maryland

9. Maryland (4-4, 2-2 ACC)
Last Week: 9
Week 9 Result: Lost to Boston College 20-17
After beginning ACC play 2-0, the Terrapins have lost back-to-back games and received even more bad news about their quarterback position on Sunday night. Maryland fell 20-17 to Boston College on Saturday, which dropped Randy Edsall’s squad to 4-4 overall. True freshman Caleb Rowe made his first start on Saturday and threw for 241 yards but also tossed three picks. Although Rowe performed admirably in his first start, he suffered a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season. With Rowe out, Maryland has lost its top four quarterbacks to injuries. True freshman (and converted linebacker) Shawn Petty will start against Georgia Tech.
Next Game: Georgia Tech

10. Wake Forest (4-4, 2-4 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Lost to Clemson 42-13
Even though receiver Michael Campanaro returned to the lineup, it wasn’t enough for the Demon Deacons to knock off Clemson. Wake Forest trailed only 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, but the Tigers opened up a 35-7 lead by halftime. Quarterback Tanner Price threw for 232 yards and two touchdowns but was under duress from the Clemson defense for most of the night. The Demon Deacons’ defense struggled to keep up with the Tigers’ speedy receivers, allowing Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd to set a school record with 428 passing yards.
Next Game: Boston College

11. Boston College (2-6, 1-4 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Beat Maryland 20-17
The 2012 season has been a disappointment for Boston College, but Saturday provided at least one bright spot. The Eagles defeated Maryland 20-17 to claim their first victory against a FBS team this year. Trailing by four points with just over five minutes to go, Boston College drove from its own 15-yard line to score the game-winning touchdown with less than two minutes to go. Quarterback Chase Rettig completed only 55 percent of his throws but tossed two touchdowns and zero interceptions. The win over Maryland keeps Boston College’s slim bowl hopes alive.
Next Game: at Wake Forest

12. Virginia (2-6, 0-4 ACC)
Last Week:
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
The Cavaliers had a bye in Week 9 and return to action against NC State this Saturday. Virginia is riding a six-game losing streak and has yet to win in ACC play this season. Considering how much this team improved last year, the Cavaliers are one of the ACC’s biggest disappointments so far. Mike London’s team has struggled to find a spark on the ground, while the defense has yet to find its pass rush. Getting back to a bowl won’t be easy, but Virginia needs to find something to build on for 2013.
Next Game: at NC State

by Steven Lassan

Related College Football Content

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<p> ACC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/big-ten-post-week-9-power-rankings

Michigan and Wisconsin entered the weekend as the odd-on favorites to play in the Big Ten title game at season's end. After two huge injuries to both programs' starting quarterbacks, each left Week 9 with a loss. The Badgers would have to lose out (including to Indiana) in order to miss the trip to Indianapolis from the Leaders Division. However, the Wolverines' loss to Nebraska has thrown the Legends Division into complete upheaval. It should make for a fun final month in the Midwest.

Post-Week 9 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State - Just seven days after visiting the hospital for a scary head and neck injury against Purdue, Miller was up to his old tricks in Happy Valley. He threw for 143 yards and one touchdown while rushing for 134 yards and two more scores while keeping Ohio State unbeaten. He is now leading the Big Ten in rushing and total offense.

2. Matt McGloin, QB, Penn State - The Nittany Lions were outmatched against unbeaten Ohio State, but McGloin posted some big numbers. He threw for a personal best 327 yards and two touchdowns in PSU's first Big Ten loss of the year.  

3. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska - He wasn't elite — 166 yards, TD, INT passing and 58 yards rushing on 14 attempts — but he was good enough to beat the Wolverines on a bad wheel. This might have gone from a two-horse race to a one-horse race. It's Miller's award to lose at this point.

Post-Week 9 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Mike Mauti, LB, Penn State - Mauti posted 13 total tackles against the most dynamic player in the league. Even though Penn State lost and couldn't really keep up with the Buckeyes, Mauti will be tough to beat here. He is No. 3 in the league in tackling to go with three interceptions and 2.5 sacks.

2. Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin - Taylor led a defense that kept Michigan State to three points for nearly 60 minutes. He had eight tackles (1 TFL) and is No. 2 in the Big Ten in tackling and tackles for a loss.

3. John Simon, DL, Ohio State - Simon got one of the Buckeyes' four sacks this weekend, he also posted a tackle for loss and defelected a pass. Ryan Shazier might make bigger plays, but Simon is the leader of the defense. Most importantly, his team hasn't lost yet.

Post-Week 9 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State - There is only one team in the nation with a 9-0 record and it's Meyer's Buckeyes. His squad played arguably their best game of the year in the whitewashing of Penn State on the road. An unbeaten season gives Meyer the Big Ten Coach of the Year award.

2. Bill O'Brien, Penn State - The relatively easy win for Ohio State doesn't eliminate BoB from Coach of the Year consideration by any means. It doesn't diminish his overall accomplishments in Happy Valley. A 3-1 mark to finish at 6-2 in league play might give O'Brien the COY award.

3. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern - His Wildcats blitzed the over-matched Hawkeyes in impressive fashion this weekend. He has his best rushing attack since arriving in Evanston and has an outside shot at nine wins.

Post-Week 9 Power Rankings

1. Ohio State (9-0, 5-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 9 result: Beat Penn State 35-23

The talk around Columbus this week was the health of Heisman candidate Braxton Miller. Well, it turns out he is just fine. The Buckeyes' star quarterback got his Heisman candidacy back on track with another big day on the ground. Ohio State out-gained Penn State 234 yards to 32 on the ground, led by Miller's two touchdowns. Two late touchdowns made this game look closer than it really was as the Buckeyes defense played arguably its best game of the year, sacking Matt McGloin four times and forcing two turnovers on the road. The Bucknuts are the only 9-0 team in the nation.
This week: Illinois (2-6)

2. Nebraska (6-2, 3-1)
Previous rank: 5
Week 9 result: Beat Michigan 25-9
Obviously, there is a rather large asterisk next to Nebraska's win over Michigan. The Huskers easily handled the Maize and Blue once Denard Robinson left the game. The Huskers defense hasn't looked like the Black Shirts much this fall, but once Shoelace left the game, Nebraska dominated on that side of the ball. They held Michigan to a season low 188 yards of offense for the game and only three points once Robinson departed (and those came with lots of help from NU penalties). The Huskers now control their own destiny in the Legends Division after back-to-back wins over Northwestern and Michigan. However, Nebraska could face four "bowl-eligible" teams to finish the year: Michigan State, Penn State, Minnesota and Iowa.
This week: at Michigan State (5-4)

3. Michigan (5-3, 3-1)
Previous rank: 2
Week 9 result: Lost to Nebraska 25-9
Big Ten fans got robbed of what could have been a truly great match-up in Lincoln. Michigan fans likely feel worse. Denard Robinson left the game in the second quarter when Bake Steinkuhler awkwardly hit his throwing arm as Michigan was going in to score. Dealing with re-aggravated nerve damage in his throwing arm, Shoelace was unable to return and replacement Russell Bellomy was left to deal with the Black Shirts. He was like a deer in headlights, starting 0-for-10 passing and leading the offense to only three points in the final 33 minutes of play. Michigan was held to a season low 188 total yards, 38 of which came from Bellomy (on 16 passes and five rushes). Brady Hoke has stated he isn't concerned with his star quarterback's availability for next Saturday's Battle for the Little Brown Jug.
This week: at Minnesota (5-3)

4. Penn State (5-3, 3-1)
Previous rank: 4
Week 9 result: Lost to Ohio State 35-23
Matt McGloin threw for a career-best 327 yards and a couple of late scores to make the outcome much closer than it should have been. The Penn State ground game had averaged 180.5 yards per game with no fewer than 161 yards in each of the previous four games. Against Ohio State, it mustered only 32 yards on 28 carries as the Nits trailed 28-10 with 10 minutes to go in the game. The schedule isn't that difficult — Purdue, Nebraska, Indiana and Wisconsin — and a 3-1 finish would give Penn State an eight-win season. In Happy Valley this fall, eight wins has to be considered a modern miracle.

This week: at Purdue (3-5)

5. Wisconsin (6-3, 3-2)
Previous rank: 3
Week 9 result: Lost to Michigan State 16-13 (OT)
Much like Michigan, Badgers fans have to feel robbed this fall. Both league losses have come without starting quarterback Joel Stave and now Bret Bielema will be without his signal caller for the rest of the year. The redshirt freshman walk-on was 9-of-11 for 127 yards and a touchdown when he left the game with a broken collarbone. Former Maryland transfer Danny O'Brien led the offense to 43 total yards in the second half and overtime. The defense played excellent football, but finally broke down in the final minutes of play when the Spartans drove the length of the field to tie the game with 1:25 left to play. This team is still very much in the driver's seat for the Leaders Division default crown, but without Stave, an upset win in Indy is highly unlikely. 
This week: Off

6. Northwestern (7-2, 3-2)
Previous rank: 6
Week 9 result: Beat Iowa 28-17
This was a huge game for a team that believes it is ready to compete for a Big Ten title. While finishing 6-2 in the league is highly unlikely (at Michigan, at Michigan State and Illinois after the bye), a shot at nine wins was realized with the win this weekend. A game Northwestern dominated. Opening up a 28-3 lead behind the best rushing attack Pat Fitzgerald has ever had in Evanston (237.6 ypg, 15th nationally), the Wildcats held on for the easy home win over reeling Iowa. Kain Colter and Venric Mark both topped 160 yards on the ground as Northwestern finished with 349 yards on the ground.  
This week: Off

7. Michigan State (5-4, 2-3)
Previous rank: 7
Week 9 result: Beat Wisconsin 16-13 (OT)
The Spartans were teetering after a brutal last-second loss to rival Michigan last weekend. But the most maligned member of the Spartans' football program answered the bell when he had to this weekend and Sparty got off the schneid. Andrew Maxwell completed 8-of-9 passes and even rushed for a first down on MSU's final drive of the game that ended in the game-tying touchdown pass to Le'Veon Bell. He then tossed the game-winner in overtime on third-and-eight from the Wisconsin 12-yard line. It was easily Maxwell's best clutch performance of his brief and challenged career. The Spartans now return home for two tough games against Nebraska and Northwestern.
This week: Nebraska (6-2)

8. Iowa (4-4, 2-2)
Previous rank: 9
Week 9 result: Lost to Northwestern 28-17
It was too little too late for Kirk Ferentz. For the second straight week, the Hawkeyes appeared to be completely unprepared to play a football game. After falling behind 38-0 to Penn State last weekend, Iowa fell behind Northwestern 28-3 before scoring a couple of second half touchdowns. This type of overall erosion is unacceptable in Iowa City. Certainly, Northwestern is as talented as it has been in over a decade, but there is no excuse for Iowa to fall behind 66-3. It is up to the head coach to have his team better prepared to compete.
This week: at Indiana (3-5)

9. Minnesota (5-3, 1-3)
Previous rank: 10
Week 9 result: Beat Purdue 44-28
This was a huge statement win for Jerry Kill and the Gophers. No, a win over Purdue isn't something you normally put in your trophy case, but it keeps Minnesota on pace for a potential bowl bid and gives an extremely young offense loads of confidence. Freshman Philip Nelson played flawless football in leading his team to a 44-7 lead halfway through the third quarter. He finished with 246 yards and three touchdowns on 15-of-22 passing and no interceptions. He also added 37 yards rushing as Gophers fans have to be excited about the future of the quarterback position in Minneapolis. Kill's bunch has three brutal games left (Michigan, at Nebraska and Michigan State) and one game that should give them a trip to a bowl game (Illinois). Any upsets along the way would guarantee a winning season for the first time since 2008.
This week: Michigan (5-3)

10. Purdue (3-5, 0-4)
Previous rank: 8
Week 9 result: Lost to Minnesota 44-28
After a strong non-conference showing, Danny Hope's bunch was poised to compete in the depleted Leaders Division. That is, until Big Ten play started.
With just over eight minutes to go in the third quarter, Purdue had scored seven points and was trailing by 37 to Minnesota. Purdue has lost four straight games and has allowed nearly 40 points per game since Big Ten play started. The offense hasn't helped much either, averaging less than 300 yards per game during the four-game losing streak. Hope needs to win down the stretch to keep his job — probably three times, which isn't all that far-fetched with one of the easiest final months in the league: Penn State, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana.
This week: Penn State (5-3)

11. Indiana (3-5, 1-3)
Previous rank: 12
Week 9 result: Beat Illinois 31-17
A win over a 2-6 team that has looked completely inept wouldn't normally be a signature victory, but for Kevin Wilson and the Hoosiers, that is exactly what this weekend's win was for the fans in Bloomington. The two-touchdown road win was the first Big Ten win for the Wilson regime, and frankly, they made it look easy. After falling behind 14-7 early in the second quarter, Indiana out-scored Illinois 24-3 the rest of the way. Wilson's bunch is just a couple plays away from being 5-3 after heart-breaking losses to Ball State and Navy. It was the first league victory for IU since Nov. 2010.
This week: Iowa (4-4)

12. Illinois (2-6, 0-4)
Previous rank: 11
Week 9 result: Beat Lost to Indiana 31-17
The Illini finally won something this weekend. However, of course, no one wants to be called the "Worst Team in the League." But that is what Tim Beckman's bunch has earned in his first season at Illinois after losing at home by two touchdowns to a team that hasn't won a Big Ten game since November 2010. This team is horrendous in all three phases. It's ranked last in the Big Ten in total offense, scoring offense and sacks allowed. It is last in the Big Ten in scoring defense and pass efficiency defense. And it's even last in punt returns and 11th in kick returns. 

This week: Ohio State (9-0)

by Braden Gall

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<p> Big Ten Post-Week 9 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-post-week-9-power-rankings

And then there was one. Most didn't believe Oregon State or USC could make it to the BCS National Championship game, however, they both just kept winning. No more. After tough road losses this weekend, the Oregon Ducks are flying above the rest of the Pac-12 as the lone remaining national title contender. The depth of the league was once again on full display as programs like Arizona, UCLA and Washington prove that the middle of this league is as strong as any league in the nation.

Post-Week 9 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon - As the unquestioned leader of the best team in the league and arguably the best offense in America, Mariota is my vote. After three more touchdowns and another 70 points on offense, Mariota is now leading the league in completion rate (68.8 percent), is leading the league in rushing yards by a QB and has thrown the fewest interceptions of any of the regular starters in the league. Many will vote for Kenjon Barner or De'Anthony Thomas, but Mariota has been the most important piece to the Chip Kelly offensive puzzle.

2. Matt Barkley, QB, USC - USC could still win the league and so Barkley could still easily win POY. He threw for 493 yards and three touchdowns — giving him a Pac-12 best 25 total touchdowns — and is No. 2 in passing efficiency out West. A win next week and he is back at No. 1.

3. Matt Scott, QB, Arizona 
- Maybe now Scott will finally get some national consideration for his efforts in the desert. He nearly posted more yards against USC than any player in the long and storied history of the Trojan program. He piled up 469 yards and four scores in the big win over the Men of Troy.

Post-Week 9 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State - The Beavers lost for the first time but it wasn't the defense's fault. Keith Price failed to throw a touchdown and finished with 194 yards. Poyer had five tackles and returned one punt.

2. Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford - Fellow LB Shayne Skov deserves some love as well as the team's middle backer and leading tackler. However, Thomas has been a complete player with 50 total tackles, 10.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks and an interception.

3. Scott Crichton, DL, Oregon State - He didn't do that much in the loss to Washington (3 total tackles) but it wasn't his side of the ball that cost Oregon State its unblemished season. He is No. 2 in the league in sacks and tackles for a loss. 

Post-Week 9 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Chip Kelly, Oregon - His team had the 46-point spread covered with eight minutes left to go in the second quarter. This team is clearly the best team out West — despite replacing its starting quarterback, Heisman trophy finalist running back and losing its defensive captain in John Boyett. 

2. Mike Riley, Oregon State - He drops from 1b. to 2. with the first loss of the season. He is still having a remarkable year despite the tough road loss to Washington. 

3. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona  - Thanks to the Wildcats for making me look good after placing both Scott and RichRod in the top three for Coach and Offensive Player of the Year standings. His Cats have lost three games to three teams that are a combined 20-3. 

Post-Week 9 Power Rankings

1. Oregon (8-0, 5-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 9 result: Beat Colorado 70-14
Oregon continued its first half dominance again this weekend as it won its 26th Pac-12 game in 27 tries. The Ducks had scored two touchdowns before the Buffs even had one offensive snap and eventually held a 56-0 halftime lead. Oregon's starters — on either side of the ball — have rarely played a single down in the second half of the year. Backup quarterback Bryan Bennett has scored eight touchdowns in eight games thus far. After taking care of business — and watching five unbeatens go down from around the nation — the Ducks are set up for a huge showdown in Los Angeles next weekend. 
This week: at USC (6-2)

2. Oregon State (6-1, 4-1)
Previous rank: 3
Week 9 result: Lost to Washington 20-17
Oregon State spotted Washington a 10-0 halftime lead, but worked itself back into play with a great third quarter. The well-known script of owning the second half and suffocating opposing offenses appeared to be right on schedule until Sean Mannion threw two of his four interceptions on consecutive drives early in the fourth quarter and Washington won the day. The quarterback has tossed seven interceptions in his last two games and fans have to wonder if he was rushed back from knee surgery. With Stanford and Cal remaining before The Civil War, Oregon State still controls its own destiny but has loads of heavy lifting still to go.
This week: Arizona State (5-3)

3. Stanford (6-2, 4-1)
Previous rank: 

Week 9 result:
 Beat Washington State 24-17
Another week, another hard-fought, physical Pac-12 win for David Shaw and the Cardinal. However, this one wasn't supposed to be close or hard-fought. Josh Nunes and his receivers continued to struggle mightily, but were once again bailed out by a dominant defensive performance. The Cardinal posted 10 sacks, allowed minus-16 yards rushing and returned one key interception for a touchdown to hold off the Cougars at home. As a three-touchdown favorite, this was clearly an imperfect performance by the offense. Stanford totaled 256 yards of offense against Wazzu and averaged only 3.2 yards per carry. Nunes' unit will have to be better with Oregon State, Oregon and UCLA still left on the schedule.

This week: at Colorado (1-7)

4. USC (6-2, 4-2)
Previous rank: 2
Week 9 result: Lost to Arizona 39-36
Matt Barkley put up huge numbers and Marqise Lee was on a different planet on Saturday. But it wasn't enough to overcome a tremendous game from Arizona quarterback Matt Scott. The Trojans defense allowed four straight touchdowns on four straight possessions late in the third and early in the fourth quarter. It was enough for the Wildcats to hold on for the huge upset in the desert. USC can still win the league as games against Oregon, UCLA and Arizona State loom over the next three weeks. But a chance at a national title or Heisman trophy likely fell by the wayside this weekend.
This week: Oregon (8-0)

5. UCLA (6-2, 3-2)
Previous rank: 5
Week 9 result: Beat Arizona State 45-43
Ka'imi Fairbairn kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired to give UCLA a second straight key South Division win. Quarterback Brett Hundley played well in his return home, he is from nearby Chandler, Ariz., totaling 301 yards of offense and four total touchdowns in the huge road win. Johnathan Franklin chipped in 164 yards rushing and two scores as the senior tailback is now just 20 yards away from becoming UCLA's all-time leading rusher. Jim Mora's team is still very much in the thick of the South Division race with huge games against Arizona and USC coming up over the next three weeks. The defense needs to play better but Noel Mazzone's dynamic offense continues to impress (I bet they would like that Cal game back, eh?).
This week: Arizona (5-3) 

6. Arizona (5-3, 2-3)
Previous rank: 6
Week 9 result: Beat USC 39-36
Strange things happen out in the desert late in the season and Week 9 was a perfect example. Trailing by 15 points halfway through the third quarter, RichRod and Matt Scott rallied the troops by scoring touchdowns on four straight possessions. The redshirt senior quarterback was incredible, rushing for 100 yards on 15 carries and throwing for 369 yards on 50 attempts. He totaled four touchdowns as the Wildcats finally held on to win a close game. With close losses to Stanford and Oregon State (and a blowout loss to Oregon), Arizona's three losses have come to teams with a combined record 20-3. Is this the best three-loss team in the nation? Zona has to feel good about its chances in the South as games with UCLA, Utah, Colorado and Arizona State are all still ahead of them.
This week: at UCLA (6-2)

7. Washington (4-4, 2-3)
Previous rank: 8
Week 9 result: 
Lost Beat Oregon State 20-17

The Huskies finished one of the nastiest month-long stretches of action any team in America will face this fall with a 2-3 record. And Steve Sarkisian's bunch should feel proud of their performance. Losses to Oregon, USC and Arizona don't feel nearly as bad now that the Huskies have wins over Stanford and Oregon State. It was the second win over a top 10 team at home as this Washington defense continues to show marked improvement from a year ago. The offense still has major issues on third down, but it took advantage of four OSU turnovers to score 10 fourth quarter points. Things get much easier for U of W from here on out: Cal, Colorado, Utah, Washington State 
This week: at Cal (3-6)

8. Arizona State (5-3, 3-2)
Previous rank: 7
Week 9 result: Lost to UCLA 45-43
The Sun Devils were unbeaten in conference play just two weeks ago. After allowing 43 and 45 points respectively to Oregon and UCLA, the Devils' Will Sutton-less defense is back on its heels. Arizona State now finishes the year with three of four on the road, with trips to Oregon State, USC and Arizona sandwiched around a home game with Washington State. Anything better than 6-6 would have to be considered a successful season, despite the early optimism in Tempe.
This week: at Oregon State (6-1)

9. Utah (3-5, 1-4)
Previous rank: 
Week 9 result: Beat Cal 49-27
The Utes ended a four-game Pac-12 losing streak by scoring three touchdowns on defense and special teams, including two Reggie Dunn 100-yard kickoff returns. The defense forced three turnovers as Utah raced to a 42-6 lead midway through the third quarter. It keeps hope alive that a 10th straight season of postseason play in Salt Lake City is still possible. Could Kyle Whittingham's bunch win three of its final four and make a bowl game? With Washington, Washington State, Arizona and Colorado left on the schedule, it is entirely possible.

This week: Washington State (2-5)

10. California (3-6, 2-4)
Previous rank: 9
Week 9 result: Lost to Utah 49-27 
Losing to Stanford or USC is one thing. Losing to a winless-in-the-Pac-12 Utah team by 22 points is something else entirely. And it might have cost Jeff Tedford his job in Berkeley. Cal's special teams were terrible and the offense turned the ball over. It was a microcosm of Cal's last few seasons. Score nearly 30 points with over 400 yards of offense and watch a skill player set school records (Keenan Allen became Cal's all-time leading receiver with 205 receptions) but inefficient quarterback play and sloppy special teams cost the Bears again. This time it was an ugly showing against a 2-5 Utah squad. 
This week: Washington (4-4)

11. Colorado (1-7, 1-4)
Previous rank: 11
Week 9 result: Lost to Oregon 70-14
For the second straight week, Colorado was given more than 40 points by the wise guys in Las Vegas and for the second straight week, it wasn't enough help. Jon Embree's team trailed by 56 points at halftime and allowed 425 yards rushing to Oregon. It was the third straight game this team has allowed at least 50 points. Offensively, this team mustered only 95 yards passing. Is enough enough in Boulder?
This week: Stanford (6-2)

12. Washington State (2-6, 0-5)
Previous rank: 12
Week 9 result: Lost to Stanford 24-17
This was Mike Leach's chance to make a statement. Leach watched his defense play its best game of the season by allowing lows in total yards (256) and passing yards (139). Yet, with the game tied at 17 with just more than six minutes to play, he watched his quarterback throw a costly interception that Stanford returned for the game-winning touchdown. The Cougars rushed for minus-16 yards, the third time Wazzu has rushed for a negative total. The rest of college football has five such games. There were some positives Leach can pull from his trip to Palo Alto, but his team is still the lone team winless in Pac-12 play.

This week: at Utah (3-5)

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 9 Recap

ACC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 9 Power
Big 12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings

Pac-12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings 

<p> Pac-12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /nfl/san-francisco-49ers-vs-arizona-cardinals-preview-and-prediction

Two divisional foes with excellent defenses will meet on Monday Night Football, when the Arizona Cardinals host the San Francisco 49ers tonight at 8:30pm EST on ESPN. Arizona got off to an excellent start at 4-0, but Ken Whisenhunt’s club has since dropped three in a row and needs a win at home. San Francisco stands at 5-2 and atop the NFC West, having won three of its last four games.

When the Arizona Cardinals have the ball:
The Arizona offense began the season with John Skelton at quarterback, but an early injury saw the Cardinals turn to Kevin Kolb. After a Kolb injury (ribs) two weeks ago, Skelton is back at signal caller. He has a pair of targets in Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Roberts who have been very productive this season, but the Arizona offensive line must protect is quarterback. The Cardinals have allowed a league-high 35 sacks, and that must change versus the 49ers tonight. The running game received a boost last week from LaRod Stephens-Howling (104 yards and a score), Arizona’s first 100-yard rushing effort since last season.

The San Francisco defense ranks No. 1 in the league, allowing only 272.3 yards per game. The 49ers have been solid against the run (10th in the NFL), but they have been especially stingy versus the pass (giving up a league-best 173.4 yards per contest). That says a lot for the Niners coverage ability, given the fact that they have totaled only 11 sacks on the season. San Francisco will be tested in that area tonight, as the Fitzgerald-Roberts combo has already produced 848 yards and eight touchdowns this year.

When the San Francisco 49ers have the ball:
The 49ers offense is known for its physical running attack, which ranks second in the league with 176.6 rushing yards per game. Top runner Frank Gore compiled a season-high 131 yards on the ground last week against Seattle, as well as totaling a season-best 51 receiving yards. Quarterback Alex Smith played very well in the first five games with eight touchdown passes and only one interception, but he has struggled in the last two contests with one scoring pass and four picks. San Francisco will need him to play better tonight while protecting the ball.

The Arizona defense has been solid as well this season, ranking seventh in the NFL with 312.1 yards allowed per game. The Cardinals have been excellent against the pass, keyed by 22 sacks and 15 takeaways on the year. That will need to continue tonight against the Niners, who do not tend to give the ball away. Arizona has been susceptible to giving up rushing yards, and the defense must play well in that area versus the powerful San Francisco offensive line and Gore.

Key Factor:
The Cardinals have lost eight of their last nine games on Monday Night Football, but they have won three of four contests at home this season. It will be critical for Arizona to keep it close early and not become one-dimensional on offense. The 49ers may not have high sack numbers this season, but their defense could change that fact against a Cards team that allows way too much pressure against its quarterbacks. Look for the Niners to play their usual brand of physical football and stay atop the NFC West.

49ers 23 Cardinals 16

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 05:59
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/8-amazing-stats-nfl-sunday-week-8

NFL football is the greatest reality TV program of all time. The Giants and Colts made sure of that back in 1958. Each NFL fall weekend is a completely new and original experience for every player, fan and coach alike. New stories, new personalities, new winners and new losers. And new statistics.

Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from Week 8 of NFL play:

12-of-16: Detroit's conversion rate on third down
The Seahawks (4-4) couldn't get off the field on third down when it had to and it allowed the Lions (3-4) to save its season. Matthew Stafford and company converted on 75% of its third down attempts, including three such conversions on the game-winning drive. To put into perspective the alarming rate of success on such a key down, only the Steelers are converting on third down more times than not (52%). Stafford finished 34-of-49 for 352 yards while accounting for four touchdowns in the big come-from-behind win. Sunday marked his ninth career fourth-quarter game-winning drive and the third such drive this season. Detroit has three wins this fall.

6: Consecutive drives Atlanta scored to open the game
Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons (7-0) scored on their first six possessions, giving the NFL's last unbeaten team a commanding 30-10 lead three seconds into the final quarter. With 5:24 left in the fourth, an Atlanta drive ended in something other than points when the Falcons had to punt for the first time. It was Ryan's 50th career win in 69 career starts — tying him with Ben Roethlisberger as the second fastest quarterback in history to win 50 games (Tom Brady, 65). The Falcons are unbeaten when Ryan throws at least three touchdowns (15-0) and the 7-0 mark is the best start in franchise history. Bonus Stat: The Eagles lost following a bye week for the first time in 14 years. The 13-year win-after-a-bye-week streak was the longest in NFL history since the advent of the off week.

6: Interceptions returned for TDs by the Chicago Bears defense
Trailing by five points with less than seven minutes to go in the game, Cam Newton floated one to the left sideline into the waiting arms of Tim Jennings. He ran the short 25 yards into the endzone and gave the Bears (6-1) the lead over the Panthers (1-6). In seven games, the Bears defense has allowed eight total offensive touchdowns, while scoring six of their own. And two of those eight were a fake field goal by Green Bay and an offensive fumble recovery by Carolina. Newton is now 7-16 as a starter in the NFL while the Bears have won five straight. 

14-3: Jets record when Mark Sanchez attempts 25 or fewer passes
The Jets' Mark Sanchez attempted the second-most passes of his career with 54 passes thrown on Sunday in the loss to the Dolphins (4-3). New York (3-5) is 7-11 when Sanchez throws at least 35 passes in a game. When he isn't needed to throw much, the Jets win at an startling rate. The J-E-T-S have never lost (6-0) when he throws fewer than 20 passes in a game and are 14-3 — including 3-0 in the playoffs — when throwing 25 or fewer attempts.

17: NFL record consecutive games the Patriots have topped 350 yards
With 473 yards of offense in the 45-7 win over the Rams (3-5) in London, the Patriots (5-3) passed the 1999-2000 St. Louis Rams for the all-time record for consecutive games of at least 350 total yards of offense. Tom Brady threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns in the easy win across the pond. It marked the 50th time Brady has thrown at least three touchdowns in a game, good for fourth all-time behind Brett Favre (72), Peyton Manning (67) and Dan Marino (62). Strangely enough, it was also his 50th career 300-yard passing game, good for seventh all-time. 

7.7: Points allowed per game during Pittsburgh's six-game home winning streak
The Steelers (4-3) have won two straight games, three out of four and six straight at home. During the six-game home winning streak the defense has been absolutely stifling for Mike Tomlin, allowing less than eight points per game. Dating back until Week 13 of last fall, Pittsburgh hasn't allowed more than 14 points to any opponent. After holding Robert Griffin III and the Redskins (3-5) to 12 points, one offensive touchdown and 255 yards of offense, Tomlin has his team one game back of the depleted Baltimore Ravens. 

1: Career games missed by Jason Witten
Despite the rough home loss to the division leading New York Giants (6-2), Jason Witten proved once again why he is one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game. The last time Witten missed a game was Week 14 of his rookie season back in 2003 with a broken jaw. The Cowboys (3-4) tight end has played in 150 of 151 possible career games, starting 140 of those. He caught a career-high 18 passes for a career-high 167 yards in the loss and moved to within three catches of Dallas' all-time record holder Michael Irvin (750). Witten has 747 career receptions. It was his 16th 100-yard receiving effort.

.571: Andrew Luck's record rookie winning percentage
Through eight weeks of the season, no rookie No. 1 overall quarterback has ever posted a higher winning percentage than Andrew Luck's .571 (4-3). My weekly Bro-mance with Mr. Luck isn't diminishing anytime soon. Quite the contrary, it's only getting more ridiculous. Luck led the Colts on an 80-yard, 14-play, seven-minute drive that culminated in the game-tying touchdown with just more than three minutes left on the clock. Then on the first drive of overtime, Luck led another 80-yard drive, this time on nine plays over five minutes, to win the game on a 16-yard touchdown pass to Vick Ballard. He finished with 325 yards of total offense and the game-winning touchdown. The Titans have lost seven out of eight overall and seven of the last 10 in Nashville against the Colts. 

- by Braden Gall

<p> Amazing Stats from NFL Sunday: Week 8</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 05:50
Path: /college-basketball/missouri-valley-conference-2012-13-college-basketball-preview

Athlon Sports continues its countdown to the start of the 2012-13 basketball season, which begins with the first games on Nov. 9, with a countdown of the nation’s top conferences. We will release one conference preview each day, counting down to the top conference. For profiles of every team in each conference, check out the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store.

The return of All-American Doug McDermott to Creighton will be the biggest story in the Missouri Valley in 2012-13. The other nine teams hope the Bluejays forward isn’t the only story.

McDermott became the league’s first All-America selection since Wichita State’s Xavier McDaniel in 1985, and he’s the first to return to make a run at national player of the year since Indiana State’s Larry Bird in 1979.

With nine of the top 10 scorers returning to Creighton, McDermott will have plenty of help in trying to get the Bluejays over the hump from a solid postseason team to a true NCAA Tournament threat.

Beyond the McDermott storyline, the question is if Creighton won’t be alone playing in March. With regular season champion Wichita State and MVC tournament champion Creighton both reaching the Tournament field last season, it marked the first time since 2007 multiple teams from the MVC made the field.

Wichita State lost five seniors from last year’s team but returns the league’s top newcomer from 2011-12 plus a key transfer. Illinois State has a solid nucleus, but a first-time head coach. Northern Iowa has been quiet since its Sweet 16 trip two years ago, but the Panthers have quietly rebuilt themselves into a postseason contender. And Evansville and Indiana State, with veterans Colt Ryan and Jake Odum, respectively, will be tough for any team to face.

G Jake Odum, Indiana State 2011-12 regular season champion: Wichita State
G/F Colt Ryan, Evansville 2012 NCAA Tournament teams: Creighton#, Wichita State
F Doug McDermott, Creighton* New coaches: Barry Hinson (Southern Illinois), Dan Muller (Illinois State)
F Jackie Carmichael, Illinois State Realignment: None
F Ben Simons, Drake  
*preseason player of the year #conference tournament champion






1. Creighton (28-5, 14-4)
Doug McDermott is a fabulously efficient scorer. As a sophomore, he averaged 22.9 points and made 60.1 percent from the field overall and 48.6 percent from 3. He also rebounds — he averaged 8.2 per game — and should win his second MVC Player of the Year award. He spent the offseason trying to round out his offensive game, specifically working on his ball-handling. The roster around McDermott returns mostly intact, but Creighton’s lone major loss is significant. Antoine Young ran the team for three seasons, played tough defense and rarely turned the ball over. He could create his own shot, a trait the Bluejays will miss. With nine of its top 10 players back, however, the Bluejays are worthy of national attention. They defeated Alabama in the NCAA Tournament game last season before falling to North Carolina. This season won’t be a success without playing into the second weekend. Creighton should navigate the MVC’s 18-game schedule with its depth and experience overwhelming most rivals. Their offense should set a pace that is tough to match. If defense grows into more of a priority, the Bluejays are capable of their best march through March.
Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament Two and Out

Related: Q and A with Creighton’s Doug McDermott

2. Wichita State (27-5, 16-2)
Wichita State is back where its passionate fans believe it belongs. The Shockers are the defending MVC champions and played in the NCAA Tournament in 2012 after winning the NIT in 2011. Gregg Marshall needed a few years to get going, but he has now won 20 or more games three straight seasons. The Shockers lost five seniors from the MVC champions, most notably All-MVC picks Garrett Stutz and Joe Ragland and All-Defensive team selection Touré Murry. Carl Hall, the ’11-12 MVC Newcomer of the Year after averaging 8.4 points and 5.0 rebounds, leads a frontcourt that should matchup favorably with most teams in the league. The backcourt should be in good hands with senior Demetric Williams, a combo guard who is WSU’s best one-on-one defender. Senior Malcolm Armstead, a transfer with one season of eligibility, started 52 games at Oregon in two seasons and averaged 8.6 points as a junior.
Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament One and Done

3. Illinois State (20-13, 9-9)
It will be interesting to see which party profits the most — in a basketball sense — from this summer’s upheaval. Coach Tim Jankovich walked out on a loaded team to become Larry Brown’s assistant (and coach-in-waiting) at SMU. He took point guard Nic Moore, one of the MVC’s top freshmen, with him to Dallas and a future in the Big East. The school recovered nicely by hiring former Redbirds star Dan Muller, a long-time assistant at Vanderbilt, although the transition could knock Illinois State down a spot or two in the standings. This is a good year to test the Redbirds, even without Moore. Senior forward Jackie Carmichael (13.9 ppg, 9.7 rpg) is one of the Valley’s best big men. Senior guard Tyler Brown (13.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg) earned a spot on the MVC’s All-Newcomer team.
Postseason prediction: NIT

4. Northern Iowa (19-13, 9-9)
After two seasons atop the MVC, Northern Iowa slipped toward the middle of the pack in 2011 and 2012. The Panthers aren’t interested in quick fixes. They build patiently, with four- and five-year players who are developed in their system. This season, UNI’s patience might pay off. The Panthers return six of their top seven scorers. With four seniors (three in their fifth year at UNI), it’s time for the Panthers to contend for a league title. To make that kind of a run, the Panthers need to diversify their offense. They are one of the Valley’s best 3-point shooting teams. Last season, they made 38.6 percent of their 3s and attempted 691, second-most in the conference. Too often, however, the offense didn’t do damage inside the arc. UNI lacks a low-post scorer, unless sophomore center Seth Tuttle, the 2011-12 MVC Freshman of the Year, grows into that role.
Postseason prediction: NIT

5. Evansville (16-15, 9-9)
Senior swingman Colt Ryan has never had enough help to make the Aces a true title contender in the MVC. Ryan, who averaged 20.5 points and 4.2 rebounds as a junior, is a talented scorer who adds something to his game each season. He passes effectively and is skilled at drawing fouls and making free throws (84.4 percent). He makes the Aces competitive, but he can’t make them an upper-level team without scoring and rebounding help. Evansville will play hard. Coach Marty Simmons excels at getting the most out of his players, and MVC teams hate to face the Aces’ physical defense and motion offense. It is never an easy night when Evansville is on the schedule, and Simmons deserves credit for building that reputation.

6. Drake (18–16, 9–9)
This was supposed to be the big season for the Bulldogs. Then sophomore guard Rayvonte Rice (16.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg) transferred to Illinois. Drake will miss his power and speed, and there is no replacement in sight. Almost everybody else is back, starting with senior forward Ben Simons (16.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg), who turned into one of the MVC’s stars. Center Seth VanDeest is back after missing last season with a shoulder injury, and he is a legit MVC big man who averaged 8.4 points and 4.4 rebounds in 2010-11. Sophomore Karl Madison started 29 games at point guard. Forward Jordan Clarke is a tough interior defender. Sophomore guard Jeremy Jeffers made 43.2 percent (32-of-74) of his 3-point shots. Eight newcomers are on hand, including guard Chris Hines, a senior transfer from Utah who averaged 9.6 points per game as a junior. He is eligible immediately. With Rice, Drake likely would have contended for a top-three spot in the Valley. Without him, the Bulldogs are a middle-of-the-pack team. Fifth-year coach Mark Phelps is making progress and raising the level of talent. If Hines can improve his shooting, Rice’s absence might not be so problematic and the Bulldogs could make a move.

7. Indiana State (18–15, 8–10)
If point guard Jake Odum (10.8 ppg, 4.8 apg) is healthy, it might not matter who surrounds him. Odum led the Sycamores to the NCAA Tournament as a freshman, leading an unlikely group with his passing and swagger. As a sophomore, injuries slowed him down, and the Sycamores couldn’t recreate the 2011 magic. Odum, now a junior, is back, and coach Greg Lansing says his star guard is feeling good. “He looks like the old Jake,” Lansing says. Three of the top four scorers are gone, and Odum is the only returner who started more than six games. Lansing is counting on Gonzaga transfer Manny Arop to add athletic ability at forward. He started eight games as a sophomore at Gonzaga, scoring a high of 16 points at Notre Dame. He averaged 4.6 points and 2.6 rebounds in 2010-11. Guard Dawon Cummings averaged 13.8 points at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. The Sycamores need more contributions from junior forward R.J. Mahurin  and sophomore bigs Justin Gant and Jake Kitchell and to make up for the departure of center Myles Walker and forward Carl Richard. Transfer Mike Samuels didn’t put up big numbers in junior college, but the 6-11, 265 pound big man gives the Sycamores some needed size around the basket.
Freshman guard Khristian Smith committed to Cincinnati before attending prep school and eventually signing with the Sycamores.
8. Bradley (7–25, 2–16)
Last season will live on as the worst in Bradley’s proud history. The Braves finished alone in last place in the MVC for the first time, and the 25 losses were a school record. Improvement will be slow. Coach Geno Ford isn’t tearing up his roster. Guard Walt Lemon Jr. (12.6 ppg) needs to move off the ball to really shine. Senior guard Dyricus Simms-Edwards (11.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg) stagnated as a junior but has the talent to do more. Junior forward Tyshon Pickett, the lone transfer eligible this season, could join returners Jordan Prosser (7.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg), Shayok Shayok (3.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg) and Will Egolf, back after a knee injury, to form an adequate frontcourt. If redshirt freshman Nate Wells, a 7-footer, contributes, it’s a bonus. Ford is counting on Pickett, from Dodge City (Kan.) Community College, to rebound and add much-needed toughness. “I don’t know if we were the softest team in the league, but we weren’t the toughest,” Ford says. “We’re doing a lot of competitive stuff and trying to get our guys used to winning again. We need to hate losing a little bit more than we maybe have.”

9. Missouri State (16–16, 9–9)
Second-year coach Paul Lusk’s real work begins now, after the graduation of 2011 MVC Player of the Year Kyle Weems and two other seniors. The Bears may take a step back from a .500 season. The summer brought disaster when senior forward Jarmar Gullley (10.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg) suffered a season-ending knee injury. Senior guard Anthony Downing (11.5 ppg) is solid, but needs help. The Bears need a point guard and lack size, factors which should move them toward the bottom of the MVC. Tevin Bracey, who averaged 7.8 assists for Westchester (N.Y.) Community College last season,may be the answer at point guard. Guard Keith Pickens is a defensive stopper plagued by injuries. Forward Christian Kirk is athletic and should improve after starting 14 games as a freshman. Guard Nathan Scheer failed to grab a bigger role after a solid freshman season on an experienced team. An exhibition trip to Costa Rica was a needed step for this program.
10. Southern Illinois (8–23, 5–13)
The Salukis hired the right coach to get them through a bad time. Barry Hinson will stay upbeat and crack jokes all season, in part to deflect pressure from his team. “It’s been an eye-opening experience for about 11 guys,” Hinson said during the summer. “It was for 12 guys, one guy’s eyes were wide-open so much that he decided to quit.” SIU lost its best player (Mamadou Seck) and doesn’t return a player who averaged double-figures. It will take Hinson at least two seasons to restock. He knows how, after spending the past four seasons as the director of basketball operations at Kansas and nine as the head coach at Missouri State. Sophomore forward Dantiel Daniels (8.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg) decided to stay after announcing his departure. Junior guard Desmar Jackson, a transfer, should start. He averaged 14.6 points and 4.2 rebounds for Wyoming as a sophomore. Expect Hinson to play fast and try to get the Salukis to play a style similar to the one coached by Bill Self at Kansas. SIU will need to run up and down because it lacks size. Kendal Brown-Surles (8.0 ppg, 2.4 apg), T.J. Lindsay (7.1 ppg) and Jeff Early (8.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg) are senior guards who can smooth Hinson’s transition.

More previews for the 2012-13 season can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store

Athlon Conference Previews and Power Rankings
11. Conference USA
12. Colonial
13. Sun Belt
14. MAC
15. Horizon

Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

3. Kentucky
4. Kansas
5. Syracuse
6. Michigan
7. Arizona
8. Ohio State
9. Duke
10. Michigan State
11. NC State
12. UCLA
13. UNLV
14. North Carolina
15. San Diego State
16. Missouri
17. Baylor
18. Memphis
19. Notre Dame

20. Florida

More from the 2012-13 College Basketball Preview:
Top 10 Freshmen for 2012-13

Impact Transfers for 2012-13
Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2012-13
10 Players Returning from Injury

Gonzaga leads International Dream Team

<p> Missouri Valley Conference 2012-13 College Basketball Preview</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 05:15
Path: /college-basketball/2012-13-college-basketball-preview-1-1-creightons-doug-mcdermott

Greg McDermott wasn’t certain that his son, Doug, could handle it in the Big 12 back when he was handing out scholarships as the head coach at Iowa State. However, after jumping to Creighton and the Missouri Valley, the elder McDermott decided to take his kid — and it’s paid off. Doug McDermott quickly turned into a star, a 6-8 skilled forward who can score from just about everywhere on the court and is a legitimate candidate for National Player of the Year honors this season.

McDermott averaged 22.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and shot nearly 50 percent from beyond the arc last season. Here, he talks about a range of subjects, including his quick rise, whether he thought about leaving early and about playing for his dad.

McDermott's Creighton team is the preseason favorite in our MVC preview.

What is the toughest place you have played in your career?
Wichita State. It’s crazy. Everyone is on top of you. I was talking to UNLV’s Mike Moser about it, and he agreed. It gets so loud and it’s always sold out and the student section is on top of you. I love it, but it’s nuts.

Who is the guy you have had the most trouble scoring on?
John Henson and James Michael McAdoo. We played North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season, and Henson is just so long and athletic. McAdoo is real strong and also athletic, but Henson’s length just makes it so difficult to score.

Which coach, other than your dad of course, would you want to play for?
Bill Self. I’ve always respected what he’s done at Kansas. His teams always play well, no matter who they have. I watched him closely when my dad was coaching in the league at Iowa State, and he seems like a pretty good guy, also.

Your dad didn’t offer you a scholarship when he was coaching in the Big 12 at Iowa State and you were in high school. How often do you remind him of that?
I don’t really think about it anymore, and we really don’t talk about it much. A lot of old boosters joke with him about it, though. He always says that he thought I was good enough, but that he just didn’t want to waste a scholarship on me. We are where we are now, though, so why go back about it? I’ll probably have more fun with him about it after I’m done playing for him.

Is it crazy to think you may start this season as a first-team preseason All-American?
Crazy. I didn’t even start on my high school team in Iowa as a junior. My confidence was a little shaky, then all of the sudden I got a chance to play with Harrison (Barnes), I got to watch how hard he worked and it inspired me to where I am now. It’s nuts, though. I still can’t believe it.

When did the light really go on for you?
Probably my freshman year at Creighton. There were a couple injuries that happened on the team that put me in the mix, but the plan was for me to redshirt. I played fairly well and then my confidence really skyrocketed. Then after the season, I was on the U.S. team, and that helped me out as well. It showed me that I could play with just about anyone in the country.

You had a terrific freshman season at Creighton, but you didn’t always see eye-to-eye with your coach/dad. What was the deal?
We argued a lot that year. When I came in, I felt like I knew everything. We’d argue about what type of defense we were running. He’d say that I knew nothing about defense and that I was always guarding the other team’s worst offensive player. It was tough at times, but we’ve come a long way and we rarely argue now.

Were you surprised that Harrison Barnes fell all the way to Golden State at No. 7 in the NBA Draft?
Actually, I really wasn’t. I thought there was a chance he would go to Cleveland, but I thought Golden State was a great fit for him. I think he’ll be a better pro than a college player. He’s long, has range and will have more space to work with in the pros.

Admittedly, you deferred at times early last season. Leadership has been a difficult area for you, somewhat due to the fact that you were an underclassman and also because you play for your father. Where do you feel you are in the leadership department entering this season?
I think I came a long way from my freshman season to my sophomore season. It’s hard to be vocal sometimes, especially when your dad is the coach. Last season I became more comfortable. Sometimes it’s hard when he’s yelling at the team because he’s my dad and they are my teammates. Watching Grant Gibbs has been great for me. He’s a great leader and isn’t afraid to yell at guys. I know I have to continue to improve in this area next year.

More previews for the 2012-13 season can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store

A summer ago, you never stopped. You played for the U.S. team in Lithuania, then came back and went with the team to the Bahamas. Did your body wear down towards the end of the season because you never really had a rest in the offseason?
I felt a little tired but tried not to let it get to me mentally. I’m only 20 years old, so it’s not all that bad. But I felt a lot better this summer and was able to work on my game more. Last year I didn’t get a chance to do as much skill development because I was playing so much. This summer’s been more low-key. I went to Indianapolis and worked out with Ed Schilling and some pros — guys like Robbie Hummel and Marquis Teague — and also played with the Butler team.

What happened last year when you guys went through that rough stretch? Creighton was clicking on all cylinders and then the wheels appeared to fall off for a while.
We just got too comfortable. We weren’t doing the same things we were doing earlier in the year. We lost three or four straight, and I honestly believe it was good for us. It humbled us. We hadn’t really hit any adversity before that, and I think our entire team was tested. I know I was. I think that’s where I grew as a leader — with the help of Grant. We finished strong, winning the Missouri Valley Tournament.

You had such a strong season. Was there any thought of trying to leave early for the NBA?
Not really. There were no conversations between me and my family. I felt as though I wasn’t ready. I know I’ve still got a lot of work to do to get there. We have a really good team this season, and for me, it’s so much fun to be in college. I’m playing for my dad and having the best time of my life, so there’s no rush for me to try and leave.

What do you like to do when you aren’t in the gym?
Hang out with friends. I don’t love the class part of things too much, but I just hang out with my friends and do normal college kids stuff. We’ve got a small campus, and the city of Omaha really embraces us. It’s kind of being a pro team in town. We play ping-pong. We play a lot of NBA 2K. I golf. I feel like I’m pretty good at golf. I shoot in the mid or low 80s.

Your dad was a pretty good player back in the day at Northern Iowa and played overseas for a year. When’s the last time you played him one-on-one?
I think it was way back as a freshman or sophomore in high school. I think he’s too scared. I think he got me back then — in the driveway — but I was probably 6-5. He backed me down and I had no answer. But now?  I think I could get him on the wrong. We never talk about it, but our team jokes around whether he can still dunk. He does it once a year and last year he barely got it. He’s definitely getting older.

Your game doesn’t compare to guys that preceded you, because let’s face it, it’s unorthodox. What’s your reaction to that?
I hear it all the time and I take pride in having a different game than anyone else. Some people compare my game to Wally Szczerbiak, but I don’t really remember him and he’s more of a 2-guard and small forward. I can’t really think of anyone else I’ve heard. I can’t come up with anyone, either.

Who do you get excited to watch?
I love watching Dirk (Nowitzki). He’s a 7-footer, but I still try and take some things from his game — leaners and floaters off one foot. I love watching Paul Pierce. He’s not the most athletic guy, but he’s so effective.

What are your goals for this upcoming season?
To get further than we did and to advance further than any Creighton team has in its history. Last year we got to the second round and that’s how far they got in Kyle Korver’s last year. We want to get to the Sweet 16 — at least — and also win the Missouri Valley regular-season title. Wichita State got us last year. We had a good chance, but then we went on that three-game skid and it ruined our chances. We feel like we have the pieces to do it this year.

What area(s) of your game did you concentrate on this summer?
I’m definitely working on moving my feet better and also offensively on my face-up game.

You and your dad like to eat. That’s no secret. What’s your ideal meal?
I’m a huge meatloaf guy. I get it all the time. I’m not afraid to order it for lunch. My mom makes the best meatloaf hands-down.

OK, we need to talk about your vertical. You aren’t exactly a high-flyer, but have you ever had your vertical tested?
We did it right after the season and it wasn’t too good. Off two feet, I think it was a 31. Not horrible.

You changed your Twitter handle a few months back. Any particular reason?
My old handle was @DFresh03 and I just felt like I needed to mature a little so I changed it to @dougmcd3. All my teammates now give me crap and try and act like I’ve changed. They’re all saying that we miss the old "DFresh", but I just felt like it was a little immature sounding so I changed it.

You’ve had your moments with your dad, but overall what’s the experience been playing for him?
It’s as good as it gets. Sure, there are times when we don’t always see eye-to-eye, but it’s been so much fun, especially since we’ve had so much success in the two seasons I’ve played for him. It’s been great to do well, but it’s been even better to watch him and see how happy he is now after struggling at Iowa State.

Athlon Conference Previews and Power Rankings
10. Missouri Valley
11. Conference USA
12. Colonial
13. Sun Belt
14. MAC
15. Horizon

Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

3. Kentucky
4. Kansas
5. Syracuse
6. Michigan
7. Arizona
8. Ohio State
9. Duke
10. Michigan State
11. NC State
12. UCLA
13. UNLV
14. North Carolina
15. San Diego State
16. Missouri
17. Baylor
18. Memphis
19. Notre Dame

20. Florida

<p> 2012-13 College Basketball Preview: 1 on 1 with Creighton's Doug McDermott</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 05:15