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All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-june-19-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for June 19:

Today's hot World Cup reporter: Alejandra Buitrago of Colombia.

• Longform read of the day: The growing legend of Clayton Kershaw, who tossed a no-no last night — although most people in LA couldn't watch due to a cable kerfuffle.

Cory and Topanga were at Kershaw's no-no, although they left early.

• You could make the case that Kershaw's gem was the most dominant no-hitter in history — no walks, 15 Ks.

Enjoy Kershaw's postgame PowerAde bath in extreme slo-mo.

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus made a wife-beating joke. It went over about as well as you'd expect.

Jayson Werth had an amazing slide yesterday, complete with a safe sign.

There's an 11-year-old playing at the U.S. Women's Open. When I was 11, I was shooting in the 60s. For nine holes. Maybe eight.

• This is fun: Baby pictures of 21 famous websites.

World Cup ref memes, courtesy of our friend Photoshop.

• Kimmel and Amare pranked Metta World Peace. Good stuff.

 

--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 10:38
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Miami Hurricanes, News
Path: /college-football/miami-football-2014-schedule-analysis
Body:

Al Golden is entering a critical fourth season at The U.

 

In the face of nasty NCAA allegations, Miami’s head coach has done solid work to rebuild his program through recruiting and roster turnover. But the Hurricanes are still lagging well behind consistent ACC powers Florida State, Clemson and Virginia Tech.

 

The defense improved ever so slightly a year ago but still has a long way to go to return to the Miami glory years of the early 2000s. The offense has plenty of dynamic skill weapons but is sorely lacking at the quarterback position. And the schedule isn’t jam-packed with wins like maybe Golden wishes in private moments.

 

Golden is widely respected as a head coach but his 22-15 record in three years isn’t what most Miami fans expect from their once powerhouse program. So while the 2014 schedule is going to be plenty difficult, it also means there are plenty of chances for more marquee wins — a la the Florida Gators a year ago. 
 

2014 Miami Schedule Analysis

 

2014 Miami Schedule

WkDateOpp.
1.Sept. 1at 
2.Sept. 6Florida A&M
3.Sept. 13
4.Sept. 20at 
5.Sept. 27
6.Oct. 4at 
7.Oct. 11
8.Oct. 18Bye
9.Oct. 25at 
10.Nov. 1
11.Nov. 8Bye
12.Nov. 15
13.Nov. 22at 
14.Nov. 29
Season-opening revenge

Miami is accustomed to playing on Labor Day night and Golden will have to lead his team into a hostile environment to kick off the 2014 regular season. Louisville pounded Miami 36-9 in the Russell Athletic Bowl to end last season and no doubt it left an extremely sour taste in the mouths of Canes fans and players. Now, as the Cardinals begin their first season in the ACC, it’s not only a revenge game in the season opener on national television, but is a conference game. No pressure, Al.

 

Non-conference build up

The U will face Florida A&M and Arkansas State at home in Weeks 2 and 3 and both should be convincing wins for Miami. But a road trip to Lincoln to face Nebraska in Week 4 provides a second brutal away test in the first month. The Huskers and Hurricanes have played for three national titles since 1983, and while much less is on the line in ’14, this game cannot be overvalued for either coaching staff. Miami wraps up September with a home game against Duke — who beat the Canes 48-30 a year ago. A 3-2 mark to start the year might be considered a successful first month.

 

October road trips

The schedule doesn’t exactly lighten up in the month of October with two road trips to historically tough locales in Atlanta (Oct. 4) and Blacksburg (Oct. 23). Miami’s trips to take on the ACC’s Tech schools will be packaged around a testy, home, non-conference game with American Athletic Conference favorite Cincinnati. Miami will face one of the toughest first two months of the season of any team in the ACC. The only respite comes on Oct. 18 when The U will get two weeks to prepare for the potential Coastal Division-deciding showdown with the Hokies. Additionally, Miami will play seven straight games to begin the season before the off weekend on Oct. 18.

 

November is at home (at least)

Golden and the Canes will have to get work done in the first two months of the season because the final four weeks will feature three extremely tough games. Miami will host North Carolina, Florida State and Pittsburgh — all of whom could be improved in 2014 over a year ago (yes, even FSU). The only breather comes in Charlottesville on Nov. 22.
 

Related: 2014 Miami Hurricanes Team Preview

 

Final Verdict

Frankly, this is one of the hardest ACC schedules in recent memory. Not only does Miami have to play two tough non-conference games and the normally impossible to predict divisional round-robin, but gets to face arguably the top two teams from the Atlantic Division as well. This team could easily contend for a berth in the ACC title game and has the talent to show big improvement, but this schedule doesn’t afford Golden many slip-ups. Miami could be a better team in 2014 than it was last fall and yet post a worse record. 

Teaser:
Miami Football 2014 Schedule Analysis
Post date: Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/everything-you-need-know-about-college-football-analytics
Body:

Analytics have become commonplace in sports. Casual baseball fans know about Moneyball and the value of on-base percentage over batting average and have at least heard of WAR (Wins Above Replacement), even if they don’t really know what it’s good for. Casual basketball fans were probably exposed to John Hollinger’s PER (Player Efficiency Rating) system at some point, know about Houston general manager Daryl Morey’s background, and may have even picked up on stylistic shifts that were impacted by analytics — more corner 3s, a shunning of long 2-pointers, et cetera.
 

The analytics revolution has not quite reached mainstream status with the country’s most popular sport, however. Football is a more random, complicated sport, with a pointy ball and 22 players who all carry out unique tasks at one time or another. There is more luck and specialization involved in football than in most team sports, and it makes it more difficult to draw obvious conclusions about players, teams or front offices.
 

Still, at the NFL level, there has been progress. A lot of teams have analytics departments, and sites like Football Outsiders, Advanced NFL Stats and others have been gaining a foothold. Any breakthroughs for football analytics, however, have taken place at the professional level. In college football, where the head coach is the general manager and some graduate assistant is the analytics department, things are a little trickier. Some teams and coaches have a much better feel for when to go for it on fourth down, but that’s only one aspect of stats in football.
 

But the college football statistics community does exist and has been putting out some interesting work for a while. We are on an everlasting quest for more hands on deck, but we get a little further, a little more detailed and a little more engrained with each passing season.
 

At this stage in the game, what you need to know about college football analytics can be more properly explained by certain truisms instead of specific measures. Here are five points that you need to know about college football and its stats.

 

Visit Football Study Hall to get in-depth team previews, advanced stats and features for the 2014 season .

1. There are Five Factors to Winning a Football Game
 

So much of football boils down to where you start, how you move the ball, how you finish, and whether or not the pointy ball bounces in your direction. Or to put it another way: The five stats that matter most in football are efficiency, explosiveness, field position, finishing drives and turnovers.
 

• If you win the field position battle, you win the game 72 percent of the time.
 

• If you win the turnover battle, you win the game 73 percent of the time.
 

• If you finish drives better than your opponent, you win 75 percent of the time.
 

• If you are more efficient than your opponent, you win 83 percent of the time.
 

• If you are more explosive than your opponent, you win 86 percent of the time.


The college football box score hasn’t changed much since the 1920s, and if we were to rebuild it from scratch, we would be well served to build it around these five factors. These concepts are in no way advanced stats, but they are and could be the basis for such.

 

2. The Difference Between Standard Downs and Passing Downs is the Difference Between Winning and Losing
 

You can define standard downs as first down, second-and-7 or fewer, or third- or fourth-and-4 or fewer. Passing downs are the other plays: second-and-8 or more, third- or fourth-and-5 or more.
 

We’ve all heard coaches preach the importance of staying on schedule. It is a cliché, but sometimes clichés exist for a reason. A team’s Success Rate on standard downs was, on average, 48 percent in 2013; on passing downs, it was 32 percent. Once you fall behind schedule, it is rather difficult to catch up.

 

Interested in learning more about advanced stats? Check out Bill Connelly's book for an in-depth look at all things college football, the issues facing the sport in future seasons and a detailed breakdown of advanced statistics and what they mean.
3. In Advanced Stats, Adjusting for Opponents is Everything

 

One of the biggest problems with college football stats is that you cannot simply look at them and come to immediate conclusions. Fresno State averaged more yards per game than Texas A&M in 2013, and Northern Illinois averaged more than Ohio State. Marshall and Rice won 10 games while Washington won only nine. We know to pause and ask, “Yeah, but who have they played?”
 

Statistically speaking, there are countless ways to adjust for the quality of the opponent at hand (some better than others), but no matter how you do it, you have to do it. In essence, it is what makes “advanced stats” advanced, and while we account for this in every sport, it is never more vital than in college sports. The talent gap from team to team is just too wide.

 

4. Garbage-Time Stats are Mostly Garbage
 

One of the least productive moments of the BCS era (1998-2013) came when decision-makers decided margin of victory should play no role in the BCS formulas. They didn’t want to encourage teams to run up the score against overwhelmed opponents. (This ignores that human pollsters are still very much swayed by big margins.) If Team A beat Team B by one point, it was the same as beating that team by 38. It intentionally removed the most telling piece of data for systems that use only points scored and allowed.
 

There’s a better way, anyway. Play-by-play and full-drive college football data can be found publicly now, either at the NCAA’s official site, on school sites or at CFBstats.com. And when you use data beyond simple points scored or total yards gained, you can filter out what happens in garbage time, when the game is out of reach. You can look only at what transpired when a game was considered competitive, which retains the important piece that we gleaned from point differential (level of dominance) while removing the part nobody likes (running up the score).

 

5. Pace Adjustments are Almost as Essential
 

If Florida State’s 2013 offense had run at Baylor’s pace, the Seminoles would have projected to average 633 yards and 63 points per game. If Georgia’s 2012 offense had played at Oregon’s pace, the Bulldogs might have averaged 575 yards and 47 points per game.
 

We get distracted by big, shiny point and yardage totals, and we sometimes fail to recognize the offenses or defenses that are truly the strongest (or weakest). If you play in the Big 12 or Pac-12, your defense is going to face a ton of high-paced, high-quality offenses and will by default give up more points and yards. That doesn’t mean the defenses in those conferences stink any more than it means that ACC or Big Ten defenses are better because they face fewer plays. If advanced stats aren’t your thing, you could still do yourself a huge service by looking at yards per play in the box score instead of total yards.

 

Measuring The Five Factors:

 

In this article and in the 2014 Athlon Sports’ College Football Preview, you’ll find a series of references to what we call the Five Factors. They are interrelated and are more descriptive than prescriptive — you can’t simply say, “We need to improve on turnovers” and make it so — but they are wonderfully useful in examining what went right or wrong for a team in the previous season.
 

So what’s the best way to look at these factors? Some are more simple and direct than others.
 

Field Position: Simply looking at a team’s (and its opponent’s) average starting field position is a clean way of determining how a team leveraged the field in its favor. A team can create an advantage (or disadvantage) through numerous means — good kicking or punting, good returns, turnovers, avoiding three-and-outs (and creating plenty for the opponent) — but average starting field position is the easiest way to measure the result.
 

Finishing Drives: In the 2014 Athlon Sports’ College Football Preview, we took a look at one simple measure to judge the ability to finish drives: points per trip inside the opponent’s 40. There is more separation between good and bad teams if you stretch the “scoring opportunity” definition to the 40, but you can get a good feel for drive-finishing ability by looking at the typical red-zone definition, too. WARNING: Avoid “red zone scoring percentage” averages. Over time, there is an enormous difference between scoring a touchdown and settling for a field goal, and “scoring percentage” treats them the same. Aim more toward touchdown percentages or the superior “points per trip.”
 

Visit Football Study Hall to get in-depth team previews, advanced stats and features for the 2014 season .

Turnovers: You can certainly look at turnover margin to roughly gauge the impact of turnovers. You can also look into the field position and points immediately created by those turnovers if you want to get a little bit more accurate.
 

To aim at both the effect and randomness of turnovers, you will find in the 2014 Athlon Sports’ College Football Preview a comparison of actual numbers and “projected” turnovers based on what a team’s turnover margin would have been with an average number of fumble recoveries (50 percent on average, obviously) and interceptions (a team normally averages one interception for every four pass break-ups). That will give you an idea for both who committed and forced the most and who was particularly lucky or unlucky regarding the bouncing of the pointy ball.
 

But what about efficiency and explosiveness? They are dominant when it comes to winning football games, but how do we most easily and effectively measure those terms?
 

Efficiency: Success Rate is an on-base percentage for football; it creates a definition of success for every play — 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, 100 percent on third or fourth down — and, over time, gives you a clean, easy look at how well a team stays on schedule and ahead of the chains. Explosiveness, your ability to create big plays and easy scores, is often seen as the most important factor in football, but you still have only three to four plays to gain 10 yards, and Success Rate tells you almost everything you need to know about how teams perform in that regard.
 

Explosiveness: In a pinch, Yards Per Play will suffice just fine when it comes to gauging explosiveness. From an advanced level, there are other options. PPP measures the equivalent point value of every play by assigning a point value to every yard line (based on the net points an offense is expected to generate from yard to yard). Isolated PPP looks at the point value of a team’s successful plays (as determined by the Success Rate equation above). With IsoPPP, you can boil offense down to two questions: How often were you successful? And when you were successful, how successful were you?
 

How do efficiency and explosiveness interact? Here are a couple of examples.
 

Miami’s offense was quite explosive in 2013. The Hurricanes ranked 11th in yards per play (6.8) and third in IsoPPP (1.38), but they were just 51st in Success Rate (44.5 percent). This paints the picture of an offense that could eat up wide swaths of yardage in a short amount of time but made too many mistakes to score consistently.
 

Alternately, Arizona State’s defense ranked a healthy 13th in allowing only a 36.5 percent Success Rate; the Sun Devils were able to create plenty of passing downs and three-and-outs, but they also ranked 67th in yards per play allowed (5.5) and 118th in IsoPPP allowed (1.33). The big plays they allowed were far too big.

Written by Bill Connelly (@SBN_BillC) of Football Study Hall for Athlon Sports. This article appeared in Athlon Sports' 2014 College Football Preview Editions. Visit our online store to order your copy to get more in-depth analysis on the 2014 season.

Teaser:
Everything You Need to Know About College Football Analytics
Post date: Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/mac-football-2014-all-conference-team
Body:

The 2014 college football season kicks off on Aug. 27 and concludes in Dallas with the first four-team playoff in the FBS ranks on January 12, 2015. Since it’s never too early to start thinking about the upcoming college football season, Athlon Sports has already released its projected rankings for 2014, as well as conference predictions.

 

With the predictions released, it’s time to take a look at the best players by conference.

 

Athlon Sports continues its release of preseason all-conference teams with a look at our first, second and third All-MAC teams for 2014.

 

Related Content: MAC 2014 Conference Predictions

 

An important note on the all-conference teams: These are based on how players will perform in 2014. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2014 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year.
 

2014 MAC Team Previews
 


Athlon's 2014 All-MAC Team

 First-Team OffenseSecond-Team OffenseThird-Team Offense
QBMatt Johnson
Bowling Green 
Kyle Pohl
Akron 
Joe Licata
Buffalo 
RBTravis Greene
Bowling Green 
Jahwan Edwards
Ball State 
Akeem Daniels
Northern Illinois 
RBKareem Hunt
Toledo 
Jawon Chisholm
Akron 
Bronson Hill
Eastern Michigan 
WRTitus Davis
Central Michigan 
Corey Davis
Western Michigan 
Zach D'Orazio
Akron 
WRAlonzo Russell
Toledo 
Tommylee Lewis
Northern Illinois 
Tajae Sharpe
UMass 
TETyreese Russell
Eastern Michigan 
Jordan Williams (WR)
Ball State 
Alex Welch
Miami (Ohio) 
CJacob Richard
Ball State 
Alex Huettel
Bowling Green 
Andrew Ness
Northern Illinois 
GGreg Mancz
Toledo 
Andre Davis
Buffalo 
Aidan Conlon
Northern Illinois 
GAndy Phillips
Central Michigan 
Jeff Myers
Toledo 
Jake Hurcombe
Eastern Michigan 
TTyler Loos
Northern Illinois 
Willie Beavers
Western Michigan 
Steven Bell
Ball State 
TLincoln Hansen
Eastern Michigan 
Josh Hendershot
Toledo 
Jacob Bennett
Bowling Green 
 First-Team DefenseSecond-Team DefenseThird-Team Defense
DETarell Basham
Ohio 
Bryson Albright
Miami (Ohio) 
Nordly Capi
Akron 
DEJason Meehan
Northern Illinois 
Nick Miles 
Ball State 
Bryan Thomas
Bowling Green 
DTAntwan Crutcher
Ohio 
Nate Terhune
Kent State 
Pat O'Connor
Eastern Michigan 
DTTreyvon Hester
Toledo 
Leterrius Walton
Central Michigan 
Kristjan Sokoli
Buffalo 
LBJamaal Bass
Northern Illinois 
Ben Ingle
Ball State 
Justin Cherocci
Central Michigan 
LBJunior Sylvestre
Toledo 
Kent Kern
Miami (Ohio) 
D.J. Lynch
Bowling Green 
LBJatavis Brown
Akron 
Gabe Martin
Bowling Green 
Adam Redden
Buffalo 
CBDevin Bass
Ohio 
Heath Harding
Miami (Ohio) 
Cortney Lester
Buffalo  
CBDonald Celiscar
Western Michigan 
Cheatham Norrils
Toledo 
Marlon Moore
Northern Illinois 
SRyland Ward
Bowling Green 
Jordan Italiano
Kent State 
Brian Jones
Ball State 
SDechane Durante
Northern Illinois 
Justin Currie
Western Michigan 
Josh Kristoff
Ohio 
 First-Team SpecialistsSecond-Team SpecialistsThird-Team Specialists
KJeremiah Detmer
Toledo 
Scott Secor
Ball State 
Tyler Tate
Bowling Green 
PZach Paul
Akron 
Anthony Melchiori
Kent State 
Tyler Grassman
Buffalo 
KRDevin Campbell
Buffalo 
Trey Dudley-Giles
UMass 
Paris Logan
Northern Illinois 
PRRyan Burbrink
Bowling Green 
Trey Dudley-Giles
UMass 
Titus Davis
Central Michigan 
 FirstSecondThird
Akron
Offense: 0
Defense: 1 
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Ball State
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Bowling Green
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 1
Buffalo
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 3
​Sp. Teams: 1
Central Michigan
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1
Eastern Michigan
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Kent State
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Miami (Ohio)
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 0
Defense: 3
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Northern Illinois
Offense: 1
Defense: 3
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 3
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1
Ohio
Offense: 0
Defense: 3
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Toledo
Offense: 3
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
UMass
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 2 
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Western Michigan
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0

 

Teaser:
MAC Football 2014 All-Conference Team
Post date: Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/ranking-pac-12-stadiums-2014-experts-poll
Body:

Ranking anything in sports is subjective. We may all agree on certain things — like Michael Jordan is better than Kobe Bryant or that Lambeau Field is better than the Edward Jones Dome — but for the most part, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

 

Ranking college football stadiums is not only subjective but also extremely intricate. General atmosphere, fan support, home-field advantage, amenities, tailgating, the surrounding campus and the college town should all be considered when trying to rank college football stadiums.

 

Basically, there is no right or wrong answer. Athlon Sports polled Pac-12 experts and asked them to rank their favorite Pac-12 stadiums based on all of the above factors. Here is how things shook out:

 

The Voters:

 

Rick Neuheisel, Pac-12 Network/SiriusXM (@CoachNeuheisel)

Bryan Fischer, NFL.com (@BryanDFischer)

Chris Huston, HeismanPundit.com (@HeismanPundit)

Kyle Ringo, The Daily Camera (@KyleRingo)

Dan Hawkins, SiriusXM (@CoachHawk)
Greg Hansen, Arizona Daily Star (@GHansen711)
Ryan Nece, UCLA Bruins (@RyanNece)
Ryan Thorburn, Register-Guard (@RyanThorburn

Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports (@AthlonSteven)

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports/SiriusXM (@BradenGall)
 

The Results:

 

 RNBFCHKRDHGHRNRTSLBG
1. Oregon2112111111
2. Washington1226232222
3. UCLA3441395433
4. Colorado510534711354
5. USC12338683546
6. Cal656491110675
7. Utah787510478109
8. Arizona State899771041167
9. Arizona471112115610911
10t. Stanford9612951297118
10t. Oregon State111210118289810
12. Washington State101181012612121212

 

The Stadiums:



 

1. Autzen Stadium, Oregon

Opened: 1967 Capacity: 54,000

There is a long list of players who have claimed they’ve never heard a louder atmosphere than the Ducks' home building. Tales of the tunnel shaking in the pre-game ceremonies only add to the already amazing Saturday experience despite a smaller capacity. Smooth design lines, a beautiful setting, signature, two-tone green field turf and loads of backing from Nike money make Oregon’s home stadium one of the nation’s top venues.
 

Listen to the Athlon Sports Cover 2 college football podcast:

 

2. Husky Stadium, Washington

Opened: 1920 Capacity: 70,138

Technically, the rebuild was a renovation but it might as well be considered a new stadium. With a breath-taking view of Lake Washington, new Husky Stadium is one of the finest facilities in the nation. The $250 million “facelift” actually dropped the capacity ever so slightly, but the building kept its trademark cantilever roofs that trap sound and make the venue one of the Pac-12’s loudest. Seattle has excellent fan support for its football teams (including its MLS Sounders) and U of W faithful will flock to this luxurious and picturesque football cathedral for years to come.

 

 

3. Rose Bowl, UCLA

Opened: 1921 Capacity: 92,542

There may not be more hallowed ground in college football than the Rose Bowl. Historically, some of sports' greatest moments have happened within these walls — five Super Bowls, multiple World Cup matches, BCS national title games and, of course, the Granddaddy of Them All. So Bruins home games, at times, fail to live up to the epic reputation of the venue — there were roughly 20,000 empty seats per game in 2012 for a team that won the Pac-12 South championship. The building also deserves to get knocked for being 30 minutes from campus. That said, visiting the Arroyo Seco Park Area for a game, with mountains on the horizon and the Brookside Golf Course next door, is a one-of-a-kind experience. Massive renovations have been underway for months and are updated monthly here.

 

4. Folsom Field, Colorado

Opened: 1924 Capacity: 53,750

When the Buffs are good, this is one of the greatest places to watch a game in the nation. It certainly needs a facelift and the accommodations need upgrading across the board, but few places can match the beauty of Boulder, Colo., on Saturdays. Named after former coach Fred Folsom, rowdy fans have poured into this building for nearly a century.

 

 

5. Los Angeles Coliseum, USC

Opened: 1923 Capacity: 93,607

The biggest venue in the Pac-12 is home to the Men of Troy. The massive, intimidating Coliseum has all the quirks and character of the best venues in the nation, which is why this building has hosted the Summer Olympics, the Super Bowl and the World Series. And when the Trojans are rolling, it is an impossible place for the visiting team to win in. That said, USC doesn’t feature one of the louder 90,000-seat atmospheres in the nation, and, in certain sections, the sheer size of the building can distance the fans from the action. Otherwise, the weather is amazing and the scenery (in all senses of the word) gorgeous and new luxury on-field suites in the end zone could offer a unique viewing perspective.

 

6. Memorial Stadium, Cal

Opened: 1923 Capacity: 62,717

This venue was in dire need of an upgrade and the administration has done a great job refurbishing one of the more unique stadiums in the Pac-12. The $321 million renovation took two years but, Memorial Stadium re-opened in 2012 and the project was hailed as a rousing success. The entire West Side was demolished and rebuilt, the field was lowered to improve sightlines and the East Side amenities were totally overhauled. Earthquake engineering and Tight Wad Hill, where students climb trees to watch the game, give this building some extremely unique character.
 


7. Rice-Eccles Stadium, Utah

Opened: 1998 Capacity: 45,017

The building was completely torn down and rebuilt in 1998 after being deemed unworthy of hosting events for the Salt Lake Winter Olympics. Since then, the building and its fans have watched the school outgrow the Mountain West and leap into the deep and powerful Pac-12 waters. Named after donors Robert L. Rice and George and Dolores Eccles, the building is regularly at capacity and the offers the Wasatch Mountains as a fantastic backdrop. The longer this team plays in the Pac-12, the better Saturdays will get in Rice-Eccles.

 

8. Sun Devil Stadium, Arizona State

Opened: 1958 Capacity: 66,000

This building is a bit older than some of the others and has plenty of empty seats, but Sun Devil Stadium has provided many excellent Saturday evenings. The crowd is one of the most beautiful in the nation and climbing nearby Tempe Butte is a right of passage for many. It also is one of the league’s largest venues and consistently led the conference in attendance in the '80s. Future renovations are underway and have begun with removing roughly 6,000 seats in the north end zone to create flexibility for future additions/upgrades.

 
9. Arizona Stadium, Arizona

Opened:1928 Capacity: 51,811

When the team is playing well, this place can get loud. The recent $378 million renovation project added a new video board, upgraded team facilities and football offices while expanding seating in the north end zone. The Wildcats' home sits 2,430 feet above sea level in the beautiful Santa Catalina Mountains. The three-tiered stadium has a long-standing reputation for bizarre late-season upsets and crazy endings.
 


10t. Stanford Stadium, Stanford

Opened: 1921 Capacity: 50,000

The Farm isn’t the biggest or loudest place to watch a game but there is much to like about Stanford Stadium. The amenities are second-to-none and the state-of-the-art building is located among groves of eucalyptus and oak trees on one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation. If the building were bigger, and the fans louder, Stanford Stadium would be ranked higher among its peers.

 

10t. Reser Stadium, Oregon State

Opened: 1953 Capacity: 45,674

Quaint Reser Stadium has very few empty seats on Saturdays. Recent renovations gave Oregon State faithful one of the biggest video boards in the nation, expanded seating in the end zones, hip upgrades to the East Grandstand and improved amenities. Future plans also call for more growth, targeting a 55,000-seat capacity by 2015. After all, the Beavers need to keep pace with the in-state Ducks.

 

12. Martin Stadium, Washington State

Opened: 1972 Capacity: 32,248

During a big game, Martin Stadium will pop to life and make fans forget the building is the smallest in the league. Or that it’s located in the Pac-12’s most distant outpost. The building has a metallic feel and getting to campus is virtually impossible, but the Cougars' faithful hold their own during critical moments (see Washington game last year)

Teaser:
Ranking the Pac-12 Stadiums for 2014 (Experts Poll)
Post date: Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: Baylor Bears, College Football, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/baylor-football-2014-schedule-analysis
Body:

Art Briles and Baylor are about to find out what it’s like to be the hunted rather than the hunter. After winning their first-ever Big 12 championship and landing in their first BCS Bowl, the Bears in Waco now have a massive bull's-eye on their backs.

 

Bryce Petty is back after a remarkable first season under center, so the offense (as usual) should be in great shape. But the defense must replace a host of veteran starters who are responsible for the greatest three-year run in school history.

 

The overall talent on this roster has been elevated but replacing leadership and toughness along the line of scrimmage will be a tall order while facing an improved Big 12 conference. 

 

2014 Baylor Schedule Analysis

 

2014 Baylor Schedule

WkDateOpp.
1.Aug. 31
2.Sept. 6Northwestern St
3.Sept. 13at 
4.Sept. 20Bye
5.Sept. 27at 
6.Oct. 4at 
7.Oct. 11
8.Oct. 18at 
9.Oct. 25Bye
10.Nov. 1
11.Nov. 8at 
12.Nov. 15Bye
13.Nov. 22
14.Nov. 29 (Arlington)
15.Dec. 6

Non-conference beatdown

Baylor scored 69 points in a win over Wofford, 70 points in a win over Buffalo and 70 more against UL Monroe in three non-conference games last year. While the Bears aren’t likely to score 209 points against SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo, the odds any of Baylor’s non-conference games are close in 2014 are slim and none. Bryce Petty may not even have to play in the second half of a game until a road trip to Iowa State in Week 5 — against whom Baylor put up 71 points last season.

 

Big 12 outposts

Ames, Iowa, isn’t the only obscure Big 12 outpost Baylor must visit in 2014. The Bears must make the long and circuitous trek to Morgantown as well. Both places shouldn’t be that scary after Iowa State and West Virginia combined for 17 losses a year ago, but strange things happen to good teams in both Jack Trice and Milan Puskar Stadiums. With two other road showdowns dotting the schedule (more on that in a second), Baylor must hold serve in both Ames and Morgantown.

 

Austin and Norman

The Big 12 championship will likely be decided on Oct. 4 in Austin and Nov. 8 in Norman. Baylor has to face both Big 12 powers on the road this fall and a loss in either trip could cost the Bears any chance of defending their league championship. Baylor has never won in Norman in 11 tries dating back to 1974 and is just 2-21 all-time against Oklahoma. The Bears are 9-48-2 all-time in Austin and lost 56-50 in the last trip to the 40 Acres. That said, Baylor is the defending champ and has won three of four against Texas overall and two of the last three against the Sooners. In those seven games (5-2), Baylor has scored 39.7 points per game.

 

Down the stretch they come

The final four games of the season are going to be brutal for the Bears. The home-and-home with the state of Oklahoma — at Oklahoma in Week 11 and hosting Oklahoma State in Week 13 — at least comes with an off weekend between the two showdowns. The season then ends with a neutral site battle with high-powered Texas Tech and a home visit from Bill Snyder and Kansas State. Baylor will face the 2010, '11 and '12 Big 12 champs during the final four games of the season. 

 

Related: 2014 Baylor Bears Team Preview

 

Final Verdict

The Bears will get three bye weekends this year but the schedule looks to be much more difficult in 2014. Repeating as Big 12 champs will likely mean Baylor will have to accomplish things it has never done before — namely, win in Norman, Okla. The non-conference slate is extremely easy and is a nice tune-up for a team breaking in a lot of new faces, but the road schedule in the league is very difficult and the final month of the season looks to be as dangerous as any team in the nation. The Bears should be competitive in every game and could push for a playoff spot but repeating as Big 12 champs looks like a very tall order.

Teaser:
Baylor Football 2014 Schedule Analysis
Post date: Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: Utah Utes, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/13-college-basketball-coaches-rise-2014-15
Body:

This season’s coaching carousel was a strange one. Names like Bruce Pearl, Kelvin Sampson, Buzz Williams and Ernie Kent took jobs at Auburn, Houston, Virginia Tech and Washington State.

Jobs like that are usually reserved for coaches making their first moves into major conference. This year, though, they were for two coaches able to return to college coaching after NCAA issues, one looking for a change of scenery and the last one looking to get back into the game.

Still, coaches from the mid-major ranks moved up to major jobs, including Donnie Tyndall (Southern Miss to Tennessee) and Danny Manning (Tulsa to Wake Forest).

Not all of our contenders for coaches on the rise are at mid-major programs and not all the names here are unknowns. Yet for all of the coaches on the list, the best may be yet to come.

Larry Krystkowiak, Utah
Granted, Utah is no mid-major like many of the other schools on this list, but Krystkowiak is about to become a well-known name. Utah is poised for a breakout season after the Utes have undergone a remarkable turnaround in the first three seasons under Krystkowiak. The Utes were ill-prepared to move up from the Mountain West to the Pac-12 as a number of transfers left Krystkowiak short-handed for a 6-25 season in 2011-12. The Utes went 9-9 in the Pac-12 last season, though, to reach the NIT. With Delon Wright and Jordan Loveridge returning, an NCAA bid is a legitimate possibility. If that occurs, Krystkowiak will have NCAA appearances at Montana and Utah plus two stints as an NBA assistant on his resume.
Wild speculation for his eventual landing spot: NBA

Archie Miller, Dayton
A high-major program will come calling eventually. Miller has the bloodlines as Sean Miller’s brother and the son of one of Pennsylvania’s most successful basketball coaches. Archie also has worked for some big names in Thad Matta, Herb Sendek and, of course, Sean Miller. An Elite Eight run that included wins over Ohio State and Syracuse showed Archie’s potential. If he improves that 26-22 record in the Atlantic 10, he’ll be a can’t-miss coaching prospect.
Wild speculation for his eventual landing spot: NC State

Michael White, Louisiana Tech
White had his chance at a major conference job before opting to stay at Louisiana Tech rather than taking the Tennessee job. Was that a wise decision for the 37-year-old. It might be. His stock is already high after leading Louisiana Tech to a 56-15 overall mark and two regular season conference titles in the last two seasons (in two conferences, no less). The son of the Duke athletic director, White has enough returning at Louisiana Tech to lead the Bulldogs to their first NCAA Tournament since 1991.
Wild speculation for his eventual landing spot: Ole Miss

Danny Manning, Wake Forest
Manning already earned his first big-time job after landing at Wake Forest, a Tournament regular from 1991-2005. In only his second seasons as a head coach, he improved Tulsa from 8-8 in Conference USA in his first season to 13-3 with an NCAA Tournament in his second. The former Kansas star player and assistant will be watched closely as he moves into a loaded ACC.
Wild speculation for his eventual landing spot: Kansas

Richard Pitino, Minnesota
The 32-year-old led Minnesota to an 8-10 record in the Big Ten, the same mark Tubby Smith had in his final season with the Gophers. Still, Minnesota has plenty of momentum going into Pitino’s second season. He also had an impressive first season as a head coach before landing at Minnesota, improving FIU from 5-11 in the Sun Belt to 11-9 in his only season there. In addition, working for Rick Pitino and Billy Donovan has been a fast track for assistants. The younger Pitino has done both.
Wild speculation for his eventual landing spot: Louisville

Andy Toole, Robert Morris
Toole was the youngest coach in the country when he was promoted from Mike Rice’s staff in 2010. Even now, he’s still a baby-faced 33-year-old. Toole has yet to reach the NCAA Tournament due to the Northeast Conference tournament, but the Colonials are 53-17 in the NEC with two league titles under his watch. Robert Morris also upset defeated Kentucky in the 2013 NIT. He’s never coached or played at a major program, but he’ll get looks soon enough.
Wild speculation for his eventual landing spot: Penn State

Steve Masiello, Manhattan
A 25-8 season and a hard-fought loss to Louisville and mentor Rick Pitino in the NCAA Tournament put Masiello on the fast track to a major-conference job. That is, until USF didn’t complete his hire when the Bulls learned the coach didn’t complete his degree at Kentucky. Masiello finished his coursework and headed back to Manhattan for a fourth season. After 2014 was certainly a good time to jump — the Jaspers lose the top three scorers from last season.
Wild speculation for his eventual landing spot: St. John's

Pat Skerry, Towson
Every coach on this list has led a turnaround of some kind. None of them did what Skerry did in 2012-13. Towson went 1-31 in his first season and had its best in school history the next. The Tigers have gone 43-24 overall and 26-8 in the Colonial since that dismal first year (Towson also went 4-26 the year before Skerry arrived). Before Towson, Skerry climbed the assistant ranks at William & Mary, Charleston, Rhode Island, Providence and Pittsburgh.
Wild speculation for his eventual landing spot: Rhode Island

Monte Ross, Delaware
The Blue Hens won the Colonial regular season title and reached the NCAA Tournament since 1999 when Mike Brey led Delaware to back-to-back bids. The CAA has been decimated by conference realignment, but Ross deserves credit for a turn around from five wins in his first season in 2006-07 to 25 last year. Ross, a Philadelphia native, spent a decade as an assistant to Phil Martelli at Saint Joseph’s.
Wild speculation for his eventual landing spot: Saint Joseph’s

Tim Cluess, Iona
Cluess is 55 years old, not an age where coaches start taking their first major conference gig. It’s tough to argue with his record, though. In four seasons at Iona, Cluess has gone 92-55 overall and 55-18 in the MAAC with two NCAA Tournament appearances. His New York connections — he coached high school, junior college and Division II in the region — will be intriguing for someone.
Wild speculation for his eventual landing spot: Seton Hall

Greg Lansing, Indiana State
The former Steve Alford assistant has turned Indiana State into a reliable Missouri Valley program — though winning a league title will be tough as long as Gregg Marshall has Wichita State rolling. Indiana State won 22 games last season, the Sycamores’ best total since 2000-01. Another NCAA Tournament bid — Indiana State won the MVC tourney in 2011 — would help Lansing’s resume.
Wild speculation for his eventual landing spot: Iowa State

Mike Brennan, American
A John Thompson III assistant at Princeton and Georgetown, Brennan led American to a Patriot League tournament title and its first NCAA appearance in five seasons. After taking over for Jeff Jones, who took the Old Dominion job, Brennan took American from 10-20 to 20-13.
Wild speculation for his eventual landing spot: George Washington

LeVelle Moton, North Carolina Central
Moton guided his alma mater to a seamless transition into Division I, including a 41-7 record in his first three seasons in the MEAC. Coaches from this conference don’t often move up, but Moton seems poised to follow the same track as Anthony Evans, who moved from Norfolk State to FIU before last season.
Wild speculation for his eventual landing spot: Charlotte

Teaser:
13 College Basketball Coaches on the Rise for 2014-15
Post date: Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-june-18-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for June 18:

• Best World Cup discovery so far: Mexican reporter Vanessa Huppenkothen (pictured).

Yasiel Puig got friendly with Lord Stanley's Cup.

• This is interesting: The U.S. Patent Office cancels the Redskins' trademark registration, citing the name's disparaging nature.

• Is this real life? The Bitcoin Bowl is now a thing. As someone asked, will there be an online coin flip before the game?

The best goal of the World Cup so far. Beautiful.

Some kids worked some cool sleight of hand with a Vine.

Brady Quinn is the latest to clutch his pearls over Johnny Manziel's off-field behavior.

Stories continue to emerge about what a great guy Tony Gwynn was.

• Jimmy Graham is arguing that he's a wide receiver. His own Twitter bio says otherwise.

Watch the Royals' Mike Moustakas take a ground ball off the melon.

• Hey, United Airlines: If you're going to lose someone's baggage, make sure it's not Rory McIlroy's.

• Brock Holt saved Jonny Gomes' bacon with a spectacular catch.

 

Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - 10:50
Path: /college-football/ranking-acc-stadiums-2014-experts-poll
Body:

Ranking anything in sports is subjective. We may all agree on certain things — like Michael Jordan is better than Kobe Bryant or that Lambeau Field is better than the Edward Jones Dome — but for the most part, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

 

Ranking college football stadiums is not only subjective but also extremely intricate. General atmosphere, fan support, home-field advantage, amenities, tailgating, the surrounding campus and the college town should all be considered when trying to rank college football stadiums.

 

Basically, there is no right or wrong answer. Athlon Sports polled 12 ACC experts and asked them to rank their favorite ACC stadiums based on all of the above factors. Here is how things shook out:
 

The Voters:


Wes Durham, ACC/Fox Sports Net (@WesDurham)

David Hood, TigerNet.com (@MDavidHood)

Mark Ennis, ESPN 680 Louisville (@MarkEnnis)

David Glenn, ACC Sports Journal (@DavidGlennShow)

Greg Barnes, InsideCarolina (@InsideCarolina)

Jerry DiPaola, Pitt Tribune-Review (@JDiPaola_Trib)

Gary Ferman, CaneSport.com (@CaneSport)

Bob Ferrante, BleacherReport (@BobFerrante)

Adam Powell, TarHeelIllustrated.com (@HeelIllustrated)

Nate Mink, Syracuse.com (@MinkNate)

Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports (@AthlonSteven)

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports/SiriusXM (@BradenGall)

 

The Results:

 

SchoolWDDHMEDGGBJDGFBFAPNMSLBG
1. Clemson111112321111
2. Florida State222221213223
3. Virginia Tech333345132332
4. Louisville644933654545
5. NC State456477845954
6. Georgia Tech57105844610777
7. North Carolina7677569117666
8. Virginia101256681278488
9. Syracuse121014899596121010
10. Miami881110121010814101211
11. Pitt91191110111110131399
12. Boston College11912121314712981112
13. Wake Forest13148131113131311141313
14. Duke141313141412141412111414

The Stadiums:



1. Memorial Stadium, Clemson

Opened: 1942 Capacity: 81,500

Dubbed “Death Valley” by the late Presbyterian coach Lonnie McMillan after watching his teams get thumped by the Tigers for years, CMS has been home to historic moments and raucous crowds for more than 70 years. The fifth-oldest venue in the ACC, this college football cathedral witnessed the first meeting between father and son head coaches (Bowden Bowl I) and is filled with timeless traditions. One of the most well known, of course, is the rubbing of “Howard’s Rock.” One legend has it that Memorial Stadium set the record for the loudest college football stadium at 133 decibels in 2007. Current Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney certainly likes the comforts of home. He is 31-5 at Memorial Stadium during his five years as Clemson's head coach.


Listen to the Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast:

 


2. Doak Campbell Stadium, Florida State

Opened: 1950 Capacity: 82,300

Named after former Florida State president Doak S. Campbell, The Doak is known for its vicious football teams and gorgeous student section. It was renamed in 2004 as Bobby Bowden Field, and a nine-foot statue and three-story stained-glass window of the legendary coach were added to the facilities. The Noles are 267-86-4 all-time in the largest stadium in the ACC and, interestingly enough, the gorgeous brick façade makes DCS the largest continuous brick building in the United States. The cowgirls go crazy when Chief Osceola rides in on his steed and plants his flaming spear into the 50-yard line before each home game.
 


3. Lane Stadium, Virginia Tech

Opened: 1965 Capacity: 65,632

The beautiful venue is the largest stadium in the Commonwealth of Virginia and Frank Beamer is 55-10 at home during his career in the ACC and 32-9 in Lane Stadium while a member of the Big East. The Highty Tighties, Marching Virginians and “Enter Sandman” get the crowd riled up before every home game as players rush out from the tunnel slapping a slab of Hokie Stone en route to the field. Aside from the boisterous crowd (and excellent football team), part of what makes this venue so intimidating is its altitude of 2,057 feet above sea level — making it the highest stadium in the Eastern United States.

 

4. Papa John’s Stadium, Louisville

Opened: 1998 Capacity: 55,000

The “Pizza Box” was opened in 1998 with just one level and roughly 42,000 seats. The very serious $63 million expansion in 2006 added over 13,000 seats, an upper deck and various suites and luxury boxes. The stellar row of cabooses behind the stadium is ideal for tailgating in style and is extremely convenient. As support for the team grows — moving to the ACC will help immeasurably — the need for more seats is likely to generate another round of expansion. Some plans are calling for 80,000 seats, which would make PJS one of the largest and loudest in the ACC.

 

 

5. Carter-Finley Stadium, NC State

Opened: 1966 Capacity: 60,000

Two unique aspects to Carter-Finley Stadium that add to its value are that fans are allowed to leave and re-enter the stadium — I wonder what they do in the parking lot? — and that it has the smallest clearance between the stands and the field in the ACC. The crowds are right on top of the field and it makes it difficult on opposing teams. This venue has some of the better fan support and one of the better atmospheres in the league.

 

6. Bobby Dodd Stadium, Georgia Tech

Opened: 1913 Capacity: 55,000

The ACC’s oldest venue is located right in the heart of downtown Atlanta and was built for just $15,000 a century ago. Originally named Grant Field, Georgia Tech renamed the venue in 1988 Bobby Dodd Stadium after the legendary Tech head coach. Many changes over time — Astroturf and the demolition of the South Stands and the 2003 expansion, for example — have made this stadium an ever-changing home for the Ramblin’ Wreck. And when the 1930 Ford Model A Sport coupe and Buzz the Yellow Jacket come flying across the field, the Bobby Dodd faithful erupt.

 

7. Kenan Memorial Stadium, North Carolina

Opened: 1927 Capacity: 62,980

One of the most picturesque places to watch a football game, Kenan Stadium was named after dairy farmer and 1894 UNC graduate William Kenan. It is the second-oldest football venue in the ACC, and could be, in the very near future, the ACC’s nicest as major renovations are underway. The “Blue Zone” turned the horseshoe into a complete bowl with premium seating and innovative features while upgrades to the overall stadium facilities across the board made the fan’s experience one of the best in the conference (as long as fans are at the game).

 

 

8. Scott Stadium, Virginia

Opened: 1931 Capacity: 61,500

Located on one of the most historic and culturally rich campuses in the nation, the Cavaliers' home is named after former university rector Frederic Scott. The signature white columns and grassy hill in the Northwest end zone are flanked by Monticello Mountain and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Scott Stadium has been witness to many historic ACC contests — namely, the Warrick Dunn goal-line stand. The Wahoos’ stadium is the seventh biggest and fourth oldest in the ACC.

 

9. Carrier Dome, Syracuse

Opened: 1980 Capacity: 49,262

If one can get past the fact that a dome named after a HVAC corporation doesn’t have air conditioning, the Orange’s home has plenty of character to offer. Nicknamed “The Loud House,” the Cuse’s home has a Teflon-coated, fiberglass inflatable roof that is one of the loudest in the nation. However, while it has been home to many historic showdowns and is the nation’s largest basketball arena, the Carrier Dome has seen better days and is failing to reach capacity on a regular basis.

 

10. Sun Life Stadium, Miami

Opened: 1987 Capacity: 80,120

The building is 25 minutes from campus and the fans don't exactly pack the bleachers to watch the 'Canes. While the building has the amenities of a stadium capable of hosting an NFL franchise and college football's title game, it lacks the connectedness most campus locations produce. It's a nice place to play a football game but it's distant, half-filled and devoid of character.

 

 

11. Heinz Field, Pitt

Opened: 2001 Capacity: 65,050

From an amenities standpoint, few college stadiums can match the posh NFL home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Panthers' swanky digs, of course, come with the stigma of being the “other” team that plays at Heinz Field. While the venue has a great view of the Ohio River and features state-of-the-art technology, it isn’t located on campus, features roughly 20,000 empty seats each game and the home locker room doesn’t have Pitt Panthers logos plastered all over it.

 

12. Alumni Stadium, Boston College

Opened: 1957 Capacity: 44,500

The Eagles had been one of college football's most overachieving programs until recently. Not surprisingly, the team's struggles on the field have likewise resulted in a dip in attendance in the stands. Alumni Stadium can be a difficult place to play when it comes to big-time games (see College Gameday in 2009). However, it's tough to draw crowds to Chestnut Hill and when the team struggles, so does the stadium.
 

13. BB&T Field, Wake Forest

Opened: 1968 Capacity: 31,500

To Wake's fans' credit, there are typically never a ton of empty seats in BB&T and the recent round of upgrades have improved the fan's experience. However, failing to draw more than 30,000 fans per game in a major conference makes this venue inferior to the massive coliseums of the SEC, Big Ten or Big 12. The tailgating is picturesque and offers the quaintness of a homely, small-town college campus. But Wake Forest home games will never be confused with those in Columbus, Norman or Tuscaloosa.

 

14. Wallace Wade Stadium, Duke

Opened: 1929 Capacity: 33,941

Attendance has gotten better under the David Cutcliffe regime due in large part to winning more games. However, the stadium has seen its fair share of blowouts — and sparse crowds. The Duke faithful will pack Cameron Indoor long before filling Wallace Wade.

Teaser:
Ranking the ACC Stadiums for 2014 (Experts Poll)
Post date: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/american-athletic-2014-all-conference-team
Body:

The 2014 college football season kicks off on Aug. 27 and concludes in Dallas with the first four-team playoff in the FBS ranks on January 12, 2015. Since it’s never too early to start thinking about the upcoming college football season, Athlon Sports has already released its projected rankings for 2014, as well as conference predictions.

 

With the predictions released, it’s time to take a look at the best players by conference.

 

Athlon Sports continues its release of preseason all-conference teams with a look at our first, second and third American Athletic All-Conference teams for 2014.

 

Related Content: American Athletic 2014 Conference Predictions

 

An important note on the all-conference teams: These are based on how players will perform in 2014. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2014 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year.
 

2014 American Athletic Team Previews
 

 

2014 American Athletic All-Conference Team
 First-Team OffenseSecond-Team OffenseThird-Team Offense
QBShane Carden
East Carolina 
________________
John O'Korn
Houston 
________________
P.J. Walker
Temple 
________________
RBWilliam Stanback
UCF 
Ralph David Abernathy IV
Cincinnati 
Kenneth Farrow
Houston 
RBHosey Williams
Cincinnati 
________________
Breon Allen
East Carolina 
________________
Kenneth Harper
Temple 
________________
WRDeontay Greenberry
Houston
Geremy Davis
UConn 
Andre Davis
USF 
WRJustin Hardy
East Carolina 
J.J. Worton
UCF 
Chris Moore
Cincinnati 
TESean McQuillan
UConn 
________________
Mike McFarland
USF 
________________
Darius Joseph
SMU 
________________
CAustin Reiter
USF 
Taylor Lasecki
SMU 
Bryce Redman
Houston
GParker Ehinger
Cincinnati 
Quinterrius Eatmon
USF 
Thor Jozwiak
USF 
GTorrian Wilson
UCF 
Rowdy Harper
Houston

Deyshawn Bond (C)
Cincinnati 

TIke Harris
East Carolina 
Garrett Stafford
Tulsa 
Sean Donnelly
Tulane 
TEric Lefeld
Cincinnati 
Darrell Williams
USF 
Kris Weeks
SMU 
 First-Team DefenseSecond-Team DefenseThird-Team Defense
DEMartin Ifedi
Memphis 
Derrick Alexander
Tulsa 
Beau Barnes
SMU 
DE

Silverberry Mouhon
Cincinnati 

Royce LaFrance
Tulane 
Thomas Niles
UCF 
DTJoey Mbu
Houston 
Julian Campenni
UConn 
Derrick Calloway
USF 
DTTerry Williams
East Carolina 
________________
Derrick Luetjen
Tulsa 
________________
Matt Ioannidis
Temple 
________________
LBTyler Matakevich
Temple 
Zeek Bigger
East Carolina 
Jeff Luc
Cincinnati 
LBDerrick Mathews
Houston 
Efrem Oliphant
Houston 
Nico Marley
Tulane 
LBTerrance Plummer
UCF 
________________
Nick Temple
Cincinnati 
________________
Stephon Sanders
SMU 
________________
CBLorenzo Doss
Tulane 
Byron Jones
UConn 
Bobby McCain
Memphis 
CBJacoby Glenn
UCF 
Darion Monroe
Tulane 
Obi Melifonwu (S)
UConn 
SClayton Geathers
UCF 
Demarco Nelson
Tulsa 
Adrian McDonald
Houston 
STrevon Stewart
Houston 
Sam Scofield
Tulane 
Michael Mudoh
Tulsa 
 First-Team SpecialistsSecond-Team SpecialistsThird-Team Specialists
KMarvin Kloss
USF 
Shawn Moffitt
UCF 
Jake Elliott
Memphis 
PMattias Ciabatti
USF 
Peter Picerelli
Tulane 
Caleb Houston
UCF 
KRDemarcus Ayers
Houston 
Joe Craig
Memphis 
Chris Dunkley
USF 
PRJustin Hardy
East Carolina 
Chris Dunkley
USF 
Keiwone Malone
Memphis 

 

Team-by-Team Breakdown of Athlon's 2014 American All-Conference Team
 FirstSecondThird
Cincinnati
Offense: 3
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Connecticut
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
East Carolina
Offense: 3
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Houston
Offense: 1
Defense: 3
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 2 
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Memphis
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 2
SMU
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 0
South Florida
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 2
Offense: 3
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1
Temple
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Tulane
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 3
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Tulsa
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 3
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
UCF
Offense: 2
Defense: 3
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1

 

Teaser:
American Athletic 2014 All-Conference Team
Post date: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-quarterback-spectacular
Body:

The Athlon Sports team returns to action with a look at all the quarterbacks around college football.

Braden Gall, David Fox and Steven Lassan make their picks for the top quarterbacks for each league, the top battles and the sleepers for major conferences.

They also take a quick look at the non-major conferences, and soccer player/Athlon intern Andie grills one of our hosts about his true feelings on the World Cup.

You can reach the podcast team at podcast@athlonsports.com or on Twitter at @AthlonSports @BradenGall @DavidFox615 and @AthlonSteven.

Teaser:
The Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast Quarterback Spectacular
Post date: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 16:40
Path: /nascar/nascar-rookie-report-when-horsepower-matters-most
Body:

Welcome to the Athlon Rookie Report, where each week David Smith will evaluate the deepest crop of new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series talent since 2006. The Report will include twice-monthly rankings, in-depth analysis, Q&A sessions with the drivers and more.

 

Today, David attempts to isolate each rookie from his team and equipment and properly rank the driving chops of each member of this year’s rookie class.

 

 

The mid-season malaise that hits NASCAR every calendar year can cause fans to drift away. Sure, the TNT broadcasts sound as if the commentators are in a soundproof chamber, where engine noise is diluted and the accent-neutral voices might as well be white noise, but there are also distractions. Outside of other TV-friendly sports — the World Cup has been a lightning rod of drama in its first week — there are reasons to wander off, away from the television. The outdoors beckon as summertime prepares to go full swing and it’s easy to sleep on the goings-on in NASCAR.

 

For NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers and teams, this time of year is anything but a snooze fest. It’s the point in the season in which all is revealed. Three tracks — Pocono, Michigan and Indianapolis — comprise five events on the summer schedule. All of them are over two miles long with seemingly endless straightaways that cater to high-horsepower motors that roar while distancing themselves from lesser competitors.

 

The middle of the season is when horsepower matters most. It’s when equipment strength is on full display and for some drivers it provides a harsh realization that all may not be well.

 

“The Hendrick cars are probably the best where it takes power to run,” said Brad Keselowski, whose Team Penske cars appear just a smidge off the pace of the Hendrick-powered contingent. 

 

“We all have got a little bit of work to do because it’s pretty obvious that the Hendrick engines are way ahead of everyone else. Usually that’s not something you catch up with in one season. As far ahead as they are right now, they’re probably a full season ahead of everyone.”

 

This is the first time this year’s rookie class is experiencing the power-needy mid-season gauntlet. Two drivers — Kyle Larson and Justin Allgaier — have access to Hendrick motors, but don’t have Hendrick motor tuners putting their final touches on the power plants during race weekend. Some rookies are piloting cars with malnourished motors.

 

This week’s rankings focused on how well the rookies navigated Pocono and Michigan and reacted to their given supply of horsepower.

 

 

1. Kyle Larson, No. 42 (previous ranking: 1)  Kyle Larson

Hendrick engines with Chip Ganassi Racing personnel to oversee them at tracks with multiple wide grooves? Being Kyle Larson is a pretty sweet gig. Larson has utilized his power plant — the best any rookie currently possesses — to explore various lines at Pocono, where he won the ARCA Series race prior to finishing fifth in the Cup race, and Michigan, where he finished eighth after securing the day’s highest adjusted pass efficiency, a 58.71 percent mark. He ranks third in the series this year in adjusted pass efficiency (53.22 percent).

 

2. Austin Dillon, No. 3 (previous: 2)

Speed wasn’t an issue for Dillon at Michigan — his average running position for the day (13.15) was better than Larson’s — but his naiveté showed on restarts, losing eight positions across four attempts inside the first seven rows. To boot, driver and team miscalculated a possible flat tire during the final pit cycle, pitting three times and dropping a total of 18 spots. The 30th-place finish was Dillon’s worst of the season and one that put a dent in their previously pristine closing record.

 

3. Justin Allgaier, No. 51 (previous: 3)

Hendrick horsepower? Yes. Hendrick personnel? Far from it. The upstart HScott Motorsports team overachieved Sunday in Michigan as Allgaier averaged a 13.6-place run spot while passing above that spot’s expected efficiency (51.32 percent for a surplus of plus-0.43 percent). That Allgaier could run, with success, against more established drivers was a promising sign, but there is still much for this team to learn about position maintenance while high in the running order. The final pit cycle dropped him from 15th to 16th, where he finished, one of three spots crew chief Steve Addington lost for him during the race.

 

4. Michael Annett, No. 7 (previous: 4)

Finishes of 20th and 21st proved to be quality outings for Annett and the ragtag Tommy Baldwin team. They’re utilizing Earnhardt-Childress racing motors without the know-how of a brand-name organization. Steady progress by the driver (he averaged a surplus passing value of plus-0.56 percent over the last two races) helped balance the team’s polarizing pit reputation (they lost seven positions during green-flag cycles at Pocono, but gained four at Michigan) to overcome poor qualifying efforts (30th and 37th at Pocono and Michigan, respectively).

 

 

MICHIGAN | Couch Potato Tuesday: Inclusivity is needed

 

 

5. Alex Bowman, No. 23 (previous: 6)

With a crash frequency of 0.47, Bowman has become one of the sport’s most typical crashers but in between the spinning and hitting, he has flashed his high upside. Despite an utter lack of speed — cracking the top 40 (out of 43 cars) in average green-flag speed has proven to be a tall task; his BK Racing car ranked 42nd in speed in traffic at Michigan — he has passed up a storm the last two weeks (plus-0.38 percent and plus-5.84 in surplus passing value) and in four of the last five races (he registered a positive SPV four times for an average of plus-0.4 percent).

 

6. Cole Whitt, No. 26 (previous: 5)

Since the 18th-place finish in Fontana, Whitt has been quiet, though that might not be too bad of a thing. His crashing (0.33 crash frequency) has been kept under control. Like Bowman, he is struggling with the lack of horsepower, but overcoming it via passing (plus-1.17 percent and plus-1.47 at Pocono and Michigan, respectively). Head-to-head with Bowman, Whitt’s car is faster on average and crew chief Randy Cox has provided ample position retention; they’re retaining spots 80.77 percent of the time and have gained 13 positions from short-pitting compared to Bowman’s minus-6.

 

7. Ryan Truex, No. 83 (previous: 7)

A lack of horsepower at Michigan can’t be more glaring than when a driver fails to qualify as Truex did. The third DNQ of the season was the first under the watch of crew chief Joe Williams, who acted as Truex’s third crew chief in 15 races.

 

 

David Smith is the founder of Motorsports Analytics LLC and the creator of NASCAR statistics for projection, analysis and scouting. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidSmithMA. 

 

Photos by Action Sports, Inc.

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Teaser:
Ranking the Sprint Cup Series' Rookie of the Year contenders
Post date: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 15:37
Path: /overtime/athlons-11-essential-links-day-june-17-2014
Body:

This is you daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for June 17:

 

• Didn't catch the USA's 2-1 win over Ghana yesterday? Here's what you should know going forward.

 

Fan reactions were almost as exciting as the game itself.

 

• Clint Dempsey's 1st-minute goal gave Americans a reason to cheer.

 

• But the Germans performed even better than the U, with Thomas Muller registering a hat trick.

 

• Portugal was frustrated which naturally led to a headbutt.

 

• In other news, Johnny Manziel is still the most ridiculous personality in football.

 

Kanye West rants again, this time at Bonnaroo Music Festival.

 

• Speaking of Kanye: Kim Kardashian is extending her sphere of influence into the realm of videogames.

 

• Both the NBA Playoffs and Game of Thrones Season 4 have ended, but their spirit lives on in this hilarious mash-up.

 

• Rob Ford is getting out of rehab and... getting a musical?

 

• Croatia has more problems than not being very good at football: This nude photo fiasco isn't helping.

 

Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
Athlon's 11 Essential Links of the Day: June 17, 2014
Post date: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 13:45
Path: /nascar/johnsons-intermediate-acumen-will-pay-nascars-chase
Body:

It’s said that racetracks don’t owe anyone anything. Rarely, if ever, will you hear a driver, following a victory, proclaim that “this old place owed us one” after a string of disappointments finally results in paydirt.

 

In racing it’s taboo to suggest that the reason one loses is because of the track. Instead, a driver and team take the onus upon themselves; they should have prepared harder, executed better or employed a different strategy. Take credit when you win, take the blame when you lose. There are no excuses.

 

And surely no one is “owed” anything.

 

Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus know this all too well. The most successful and feared driver-crew chief duo in NASCAR have won nearly everything there is to win in the sport over a dominant 12-plus-year reign. 

 

Six championships. Four wins each in the Brickyard 400 and the All-Star Race. Two apiece at fickle Darlington and treacherous Talladega. And, of course, a pair of Harley J. Earl trophies courtesy of Daytona 500 triumphs. If it’s prestigious and pays big money, their No. 48 team has conquered it.

 

That’s what made their unfortunate luck at Michigan International Speedway over the years so peculiar. On a number of occasions the team has seen defeat clutched from its seemingly victorious hands. Flat tires, blown engines, empty fuel cells — the one team that’s consistently made its own luck elsewhere has had it thrown back in their face in 24 previous visits to the Irish Hills.

 

As fate would have it, Johnson, Knaus and crew slayed their white whale on a day when they didn’t have the fastest car. For once, the hills smiled down on them. The Quicken Loans 400 is no “crown jewel” NASCAR event, but it is one of the last few new triumphs the group that has won most everything can enjoy.  

 

“I heard 10 (laps) to go, and I’ve been there before with the lead,” Johnson said of his poor Michigan luck. “I heard 5 to go — I’ve been there before and didn’t win;  (I’ve) taken the white (flag) with the lead and didn’t make it back. So I wasn’t taking anything for granted on that final trip around, and about 200 yards before the finish line I knew if the car exploded I’d still slide across the finish line and it didn’t matter.

 

“That’s finally when I relaxed and let it go.”

 

Perhaps Johnson should “relax and let it go” at the four other tracks where he has yet to cash in. His record at Chicagoland Speedway, with seven top 5s in 12 starts, is impressive yet there are no W’s. Also, it’s now NASCAR’s first stop in the 10-race Chase for the Championship — and the 48 team’s ability to turn it on when it counts is legendary.

 

An absence of wins at Kentucky Speedway is excusable in that the sample size is a mere three events. Watkins Glen, the tricky-fast road course in upstate New York, has played host to a pair of Johnson pole wins, yet no Sunday victories.

 

And then there’s Homestead-Miami Speedway. His lack of a trophy here is explained away in the fact that Johnson has never had to win on the 1.5-mile track. In six of his 13 starts he’s simply had to finish seventh, ninth, 13th ... whatever ... to wrap up a title. There were bigger matters on the agenda.

 

Johnson’s 2010 season was a “bucket list” year of sorts. Nine years into his undeniable Hall of Fame career, Johnson tamed the bullring of Bristol and the Sonoma roadie (if there is one flaw in this driver’s arsenal, it’s his road course acumen) en route to a record-extending fifth consecutive title.

 

With three wins at aero-sensitive venues already in the bag this year, might the 48 team — a team suddenly hitting on all cylinders — score an additional win on a similar intermediate-size oval?

 

NASCAR’s new game show of a championship format is expected to reward winning (as opposed to consistency) above all else — at least that’s the narrative. A victory in the opening round at Chicagoland is an automatic transfer to the next round. And the ultimate triumph — in a winner-take-all showdown in Homestead, Fla. — would most likely deliver a record-tying seventh championship to the team.

 

Obtaining those bucket list wins would have meaning far beyond simply checking a heretofore accomplishment off the to-do list.

 

 

Follow Matt Taliaferro on Twitter: @MattTaliaferro

Photos by Action Sports, Inc.

 

 

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Teaser:
Jimmie Johnson finally scored a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at Michigan International Speedway. Can he parlay that into a record seventh Chase for the Cup championship?
Post date: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 12:53
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas A&M Aggies, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/texas-am-football-2014-schedule-analysis
Body:

Year One after Johnny Manziel begins in College Station in a few months. How will Texas A&M, the fans and Kevin Sumlin survive without their beloved superstar under center this fall?

 

While this team is expected to take a small step back in 2014, the positive vibes and overall trajectory of this program is something Aggies fans should be excited about. Sumlin has stacked two solid recruiting classes atop one another and a third appears to be in the works. But those young four- and five-star athletes need time to develop and learn how tough life in the SEC can be.

 

The offensive line and skill weapons should be solid once again but the defense could again be one of the league’s worst and the quarterback position is certainly a question mark (at least, until Kyle Allen starts to develop).

 

This is a team that was just 4-4 in SEC play a year ago with the great Johnny Manziel under center, with Jake Matthews protecting the blindside and with Mike Evans stretching defenses. So with a brutal conference slate on the docket for 2014, it’s hard to see Texas A&M repeating or improving upon that .500 benchmark without those three first-round draft picks on offense.
 

2014 Texas A&M Schedule Analysis

 

2014 Texas A&M Schedule

WkDateOpp.
1.Aug. 28at 
2.Sept. 6Lamar
3.Sept. 13
4.Sept. 20at 
5.Sept. 27 (Arlington)
6.Oct. 4at 
7.Oct. 11
8.Oct. 18at 
9.Oct. 25Bye
10.Nov. 1
11.Nov. 8at 
12.Nov. 15
13.Nov. 22Bye
14.Nov. 27
Unlucky opener

The SEC Network wanted Texas A&M and South Carolina to start the season and that is really bad news for the Aggies. The season will start on the road in one of the toughest places to play in the league against a team that’s won 11 games in three straight years and returns its entire offensive line and star running back. Take the Gamecocks and lay the points.

 

No worries in the non-conference

Despite the nasty first weekend trip to Columbia, S.C., the non-conference slate for TAMU will provide four wins. Lamar, Rice and UL Monroe all have to visit College Station and the Aggies have to visit SMU in Dallas. Texas A&M should be a heavy favorite in all four and there is no reason for Sumlin and company to lose any of their non-conference games this fall.

 

October in the West

Four of the first five SEC games will be played away from Kyle Field. After a trip to South Carolina, TAMU won’t play another SEC game until taking on rival Arkansas in Arlington, Texas, in the final week of September. Then road games with key West Division opponents Mississippi State and Alabama take place in Weeks  6 and 8 respectively. The lone home game is a critical one, as Ole Miss comes to town in Week 7. After all of that, Texas A&M gets an open date (Week 9) and UL Monroe (Week 10) before a nasty and important final three weeks of the season.

 

Home cooking

The game with Ole Miss cannot be overvalued and a road trip to Auburn looks daunting, but the final two weeks will feature two massive upset opportunities as Missouri and LSU come to town in the final two weeks of the year. The development of the quarterback and defense should allow for at least one home upset (possibly two) and a win over either Mizzou and LSU could push Texas A&M over .500 on the season. An off weekend between the two home dates helps and the LSU game will take place on Thanksgiving as a new tradition gets started in College Station.

 

Related: 2014 Texas A&M Aggies Team Preview

 

Final Verdict

The key for Texas A&M’s ’14 season is likely the trio of key home swing games with Ole Miss, Missouri and LSU. If the Aggies can win all four non-conference games, handle Arkansas in Dallas and pull an upset or two at home late in the year, the momentum for this program heading into 2015 could be sky high. The road schedule in the SEC is as tough as any team in the nation will face within their league (Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina, Mississippi State) and just one win on the road could make this season look a lot different (8-4, let’s say).

Teaser:
Texas A&M Football 2014 Schedule Analysis
Post date: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/experts-poll-ranking-sec-stadiums-2014
Body:

Ranking anything in sports is subjective. We may all agree on certain things — like Michael Jordan is better than Kobe Bryant or that Lambeau Field is better than SunLife Stadium — but for the most part, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

 

Ranking college football stadiums is not only subjective but also extremely intricate. General atmosphere, fan support, home-field advantage, amenities, tailgating, the surrounding campus and the college town should all be considered when trying to rank college football stadiums.

 

Basically, there is no right or wrong answer. Athlon Sports polled 12 SEC experts and asked them to rank their favorite SEC stadiums based on all of the above factors. Here is how things shook out:

 

The Voters:


Tim Brando, SiriusXM (@TimBrando)
Dan Wolken, USAToday (@DanWolken)

Steven Godfrey, SBNation (@38Godfrey)

Billy Liucci, TexAgs.com (@BillyLiucci)

Josh Ward, MrSEC.com/The Sports Animal (@Josh_Ward)

Jon Cooper, SaturdayDownSouth (@JonSDS)

Seth Emerson, Macon Telegraph (@SethEmerson)

Barrett Sallee, BleacherReport (@BarrettSallee)

Reed Carringer, FootballTimeInTennessee (@FootballTimeMag)

Mitch Light, Athlon Sports (@AthlonMitch)

David Fox, Athlon Sports (@DavidFox615)

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports/SiriusXM (@BradenGall)

 

The Results:

 

StadiumsTBDWSGBLJWJCSEBSTNMLDFBG
1. LSU312211111411
2. Texas A&M255363382232
3. Georgia421445496144
4. Tennessee144758245363
5. Alabama667122653559
6. Florida898636534825
7. Auburn936574729786
8. South Carolina5714897867978
9t. Arkansas10810989910116107
9t. Ole Miss7103111011117810910
11. Missouri111311121110101210131111
12. Miss. State12129101212121112111312
13. Kentucky131113131413131314121213
14. Vanderbilt141412141314141413141414

The Stadiums:
 


1. Tiger Stadium, LSU

Opened: 1924 Capacity: 100,000

Be it the vast and unique tailgating menu or Richter Scale-registering fans, few places in the nation can send chills down your spine like Tiger Stadium. As one of the loudest and most rabid atmospheres in the nation, LSU boasts one of the most daunting home-field advantages in college football — especially at night. A $70 million renovation is underway to push Tiger Stadium’s capacity to 100,000, only furthering a hallowed reputation as one of the nation’s top venues. There is a reason Tiger Stadium got eight first-place votes in our poll.
 

Listen to Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast:

 

 

2. Kyle Field, Texas A&M

Opened: 1904 Capacity: 102,500*

If things progress the way Texas A&M faithful believe, Kyle Field is poised to become arguably the best football stadium in the SEC. Once the $450 million renovation is completed prior to the 2015 season, the Aggies' home stadium will be the largest in the SEC (102,500). That said, the home of the 12th Man is no joke today as it stands. Three towering decks of screaming fans urge their team on through choreographed cheering and rich traditions. Despite having hosted only a dozen SEC games, Kyle Field is currently the oldest venue in the conference.
 


3. Sanford Stadium, Georgia

Opened: 1929 Capacity: 92,746

It may not be the SEC’s biggest or loudest stadium, but it is the most beautiful. The Bulldogs' home stadium is located in the heart of the plush greenery of the gorgeous Athens campus. The famed privet hedges line the field and separate the Georgia fans from the action on the field with style that matches the dolled-up student section. Mark Richt is 68-14 “Between the Hedges” and has his team poised for another perfect home slate in 2014.

 

4. Neyland Stadium, Tennessee

Opened: 1921 Capacity: 102,455

Named for former head coach General Robert Reese Neyland, the biggest venue in the SEC has, at one time or another, been the biggest college football stadium in the nation. Recent renovations have transformed the once dilapidated exterior into a brick Big Orange cathedral. Towering over the winding Tennessee River and attendant Vol Navy, Neyland’s double-deck, totally enclosed seating makes it one of the loudest places to watch a game in the nation.
 

 
5. Bryant-Denny Stadium, Alabama

Opened: 1929 Capacity: 101,821

Legendary head coach Bear Bryant and former university president George Denny lent their names to one of college football’s most intimidating home venues. Alabama is 231-52-3 since opening the building in 1929, and Nick Saban is 36-6 at home during his tenure. In front of the most dedicated fans in the nation, the Crimson Tide routinely bring opponents to their knees with ear-shattering support (just as long as the opponent is a good one).

 

6. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Florida

Opened: 1930 Capacity: 88,548

Dubbed "The Swamp" by Steve Spurrier in the early 1990s, no stadium in the nation has a better nickname. And when the Gators are rolling, few places in the nation are as intimidating as a hot and humid Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Unique sightlines and design subtleties give BHGS plenty of character and gives the team a huge home-field advantage. From 1990 to 2009, the Gators had the best home field record in the nation at 113-13. When it comes to noise and success, The Swamp is among the game’s preeminent locations to watch a game.
 


7. Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn

Opened: 1939 Capacity: 87,451

The Tigers' football stadium is named after Shug Jordan, the winningest coach in school history, and Cliff Hare, a member of Auburn’s first-ever football team and former president of the Southern Conference. Beautiful and historic murals on the east-side exterior as well as freshly planted “War Eagle” flowers in the end zone give this venue plenty of character. And when “Nova” (War Eagle VII), the team’s live golden eagle mascot, flies into the friendly confines, the Auburn faithful explode into a pre-game frenzy.

 

8. Williams-Brice Stadium, South Carolina

Opened: 1934 Capacity: 80,250

Recent upgrades to the tailgating areas and stadium itself have elevated Williams-Brice into the upper echelon of SEC venues. “The Cock Pit” has signature lighting high above the upper deck on either side of the field and each home game begins with the playing of the theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey," giving South Carolina one of the best pre-game reputations in the nation. Steve Spurrier has built WBS into one of the impossible places for visitors to win, posting a 32-3 mark at home over the last four seasons.
 


9t. Donald W. Reynolds Razorbacks Stadium, Arkansas

Opened: 1938 Capacity: 72,000

One of the most underrated home atmospheres lies just a few miles north of the Ozarks in Northwest Arkansas. After massive renovations in 2001, “DWRRS” grew to accommodate some of the most dedicated fans in the nation. The nation’s second-largest video board (167 feet wide) was added just last year to the North end zone, and additional planned renovations will push this stadium to 80,000 seats in the very near future. Arkansas’ all-time record at their home stadium is a solid but uninspiring 166-81-2. The trademark “Woo Pig Sooie” chant can be heard echoing across campus during each home game in the fall.

 

9t. Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Ole Miss

Opened: 1915 Capacity: 60,580

Can Ole Miss figure out a way to move The Grove inside Vaught-Hemingway? The world’s greatest pre-game tailgate takes place just a few yards away from the comparably small, but no less enjoyable, stadium. So while the third-oldest venue in the SEC hasn’t been all that daunting to opposing teams over the years, it does house what may be the most beautiful fan base in the nation. Everyone should attend at least one tailgate in Oxford, Miss.
 


11. Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium, Missouri

Opened: 1927 Capacity: 77,000

Missouri is doing everything it can to make its atmosphere and gameday experience match its big-time SEC rivals. In 2013, Mizzou faithful were greeted with a brand new luxury suite tower to the West and tweaks to the historic north hill beyond the end zone. The famous rock “M” emblazoned hill was moved closer to the field to get fans closer to the action and create more concourse space. In 2014, fans will be met with a completed upper bowl on the East side of the stadium adding nearly 6,000 new seats.

 

12. Davis Wade Stadium, Mississippi State

Opened: 1914 Capacity: 61,337*

The Bulldogs averaged more than 100-percent attendance the last two years and this is one of the reasons why Mississippi State has planned yet another expansion to Davis Wade Stadium. The $75 million work has taken two years and will be completed before the 2014 season and should add roughly 6,000 new seats*. The North end zone will be sealed off and a high-definition video board will be installed. Opposing fans and teams have grown to despise playing in front of the piercing collection of cowbells.
 


13. Commonwealth Stadium, Kentucky

Opened: 1973 Capacity: 67,692

When this team is good, Big Blue Nation is as loud and passionate as any stadium with less than 70,000 seats in the nation. Despite winning just two games last year, this team drew 59,472 fans per game. This venue has witnessed some historic moments — i.e., the Bluegrass Miracle — and Mark Stoops hopes he can build on his first season. It also has one of the cooler names of any stadium in the nation. 

 

14. Vanderbilt Stadium, Vanderbilt

Opened: 1922 Capacity: 40,350

The new brick façade and back-to-back-to-back winning seasons have helped build up the Dores' home atmosphere. However, the tiny alumni base and single-tiered stadium lacks the pageantry and passion of every other SEC venue. Vandy will always have a tough time selling out and competing in attendance numbers compared to the SEC's bluebloods. However, being located on beautiful West End with plenty to do within walking distance, there is still plenty to enjoy on gameday in Nashville.

 

Teaser:
Expert's Poll: Ranking the SEC Stadiums in 2014
Post date: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/mountain-west-football-2014-all-conference-team
Body:

The 2014 college football season kicks off on Aug. 27 and concludes in Dallas with the first four-team playoff in the FBS ranks on January 12, 2015. Since it’s never too early to start thinking about the upcoming college football season, Athlon Sports has already released its projected rankings for 2014, as well as conference predictions.

 

With the predictions released, it’s time to take a look at the best players by conference.

 

Athlon Sports continues its release of preseason all-conference teams with a look at our first, second and third All-Mountain West teams for 2014.

 

Related Content: Mountain West 2014 Conference Predictions

 

An important note on the all-conference teams: These are based on how players will perform in 2014. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2014 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year.
 

2014 Mountain West Team Previews
 
National
Rank:
10546746211882106831031014994


Athlon's 2014 All-Mountain West Team

 First-Team OffenseSecond-Team OffenseThird-Team Offense
QBChuckie Keeton
Utah State 
Cody Fajardo
Nevada 
Garrett Grayson
Colorado State 
RBJay Ajayi
Boise State 
Jarrod Lawson
San Jose State 
Joe Hill
Utah State 
RBDonnel Pumphrey
San Diego State 
Shaun Wick
Wyoming 
Joey Iosefa
Hawaii 
WRDevante Davis
UNLV 
Josh Harper
Fresno State 
Ezell Ruffin
San Diego State 
WRMatt Miller
Boise State 
Rashard Higgins
Colorado State 
Dominic Rufran
Wyoming 
TEKivon Cartwright
Colorado State 
Billy Freeman
San Jose State 
Richy Turner (WR)
Nevada 
CRobert Waterman
UNLV 
Matt Galas
Nevada 
Michael Husar
Air Force 
GLaMar Bratton
New Mexico 
Jake Jones
Wyoming 
Ben Clarke (OT)
Hawaii 
GCody Wichmann
Fresno State 
Rees Odhiambo (OT)
Boise State 
Jamal Price (OT)
New Mexico
TBrett Boyko
UNLV 
Terry Poole
San Diego State 
Justin Northern
Fresno State 
TTy Sambrailo
Colorado State 
Kevin Whimpey
Utah State 
Kyle Roberts
Nevada 
 First-Team DefenseSecond-Team DefenseThird-Team Defense
DETyeler Davison
Fresno State 
B.J. Larsen
Utah State 
Joe Kawulok
Colorado State 
DEBrock Hekking
Nevada 
Brett Bowers
New Mexico 
Gabe Perez
Boise State 
DTEddie Yarbrough (DE)
Wyoming 
Beau Yap (DE)
Hawaii 
Patrick Mertens
Wyoming 
DTTravis Raciti
San Jose State 
Sam Meredith
San Diego State 
Armand Nance
Boise State 
LBEjiro Ederaine
Fresno State 
Jake Fely
San Diego State 
Max Morgan
Colorado State 
LBKyler Fackrell
Utah State 
Cory James
Colorado State 
Christian Tago
San Jose State 
LBZach Vigil
Utah State 
Ben Weaver
Boise State 
Kyrie Wilson
Fresno State 
CBDonte Deayon
Boise State 
Charles Garrett
Nevada 
Blair Burns
Wyoming 
CBJ.J. Whittaker
San Diego State 
Tajh Hasson
UNLV 
Ne'Quan Phillips
Hawaii 
SJeremy Ioane
Boise State 
Brian Suite
Utah State 
Christian Spears
Air Force 
SDerron Smith
Fresno State 
Peni Vea
UNLV 
Darian Thompson
Boise State 
 First-Team SpecialistsSecond-Team SpecialistsThird-Team Specialists
KJared Roberts
Colorado State 
Austin Lopez
San Jose State 
Will Conant
Air Force 
PGarrett Swanson
Fresno State 
Ethan Wood
Wyoming 
Hayden Hunt
Colorado State 
KRCarlos Wiggins
New Mexico 
Marcus Sullivan
UNLV 
Bryan Douglas
Boise State 
PRShane Williams-Rhodes
Boise State 
JoJo Natson
Utah State 
Tyree Simmons
Colorado State 
Related Content: 2014 Mountain West Predictions

Team-by-Team Breakdown of Athlon's 2014 All-MW Team
 FirstSecondThird
Air Force
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense:  1
​Sp. Teams: 1
Boise State
Offense: 2
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 3
​Sp. Teams: 1
Colorado State
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 2
Fresno State
Offense: 1
Defense: 3
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Hawaii
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Nevada
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
New Mexico
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
San Diego State
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
San Jose State
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
UNLV
Offense: 3
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Utah State
Offense: 1
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Wyoming
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 0
Teaser:
Mountain West Football 2014 All-Conference Team
Post date: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/pac-12-football-2014-all-conference-team
Body:

The 2014 college football season kicks off on Aug. 27 and concludes in Dallas with the first four-team playoff in the FBS ranks on January 12, 2015. Since it’s never too early to start thinking about the upcoming college football season, Athlon Sports has already released its projected rankings for 2014, as well as conference predictions.

 

With the predictions released, it’s time to take a look at the best players by conference.

 

Athlon Sports continues its release of preseason all-conference teams with a look at our first, second, third and fourth All-Pac-12 teams for 2014.

 

Related Content: Pac-12 2014 Conference Predictions

 

An important note on the all-conference teams: These are based on how players will perform in 2014. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2014 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year.
 

2014 Pac-12 Team Previews
 
National
Rank:
4516767165312714542456


Athlon's 2014 All-Pac-12 Team

 First-Team OffenseSecond-Team OffenseThird-Team OffenseFourth-Team Offense
QBMarcus Mariota
Oregon 
________________
Brett Hundley
UCLA 
________________
Taylor Kelly
Arizona State 
________________
Sean Mannion
Oregon State 
________________
RBJavorius Allen
USC 
D.J. Foster
Arizona State 
Jordon James
UCLA 
Barry Sanders
Stanford 
RBByron Marshall
Oregon 
________________
Thomas Tyner
Oregon 
________________
Tre Madden
USC 

________________
Storm Woods
Oregon State 
________________
WRNelson Agholor
USC 
Austin Hill
Arizona 
Dres Anderson
Utah 
Vince Mayle
Washington State 
WRJaelen Strong
Arizona State 
Ty Montgomery
Stanford 
Chris Harper
California 
Kasen Williams
Washington 
TEConnor Hamlett
Oregon State 
________________
Thomas Duarte
UCLA 
________________
Pharaoh Brown
Oregon 
________________
Randall Telfer
USC 
________________
CHroniss Grasu
Oregon 
Isaac Seumalo
Oregon State 

Max Tuerk
USC 

Jake Brendel
UCLA 
GJosh Garnett
Stanford 
Dexter Charles
Washington 

Malcolm Bunche
UCLA 

Cayman Bundage
Arizona 
GAlex Redmond
UCLA 
Daniel Munyer
Colorado 
Vi Teofilo
Arizona State 
Christian Westerman
Arizona State 
TMickey Baucus
Arizona 
Jamil Douglas
Arizona State 
Micah Hatchie
Washington 
Fabbians Ebbele
Arizona 
TAndrus Peat
Stanford 
Tyler Johnstone
Oregon 
Kyle Murphy
Stanford 
Jake Fisher
Oregon 
 First-Team DefenseSecond-Team DefenseThird-Team DefenseFourth-Team Defense
DEHenry Anderson
Stanford 

Kenneth Clark (DT)
UCLA 

DeForest Buckner
Oregon 
Arik Armstead
Oregon 
DELeonard Williams
USC 
Eddie Vanderdoes
UCLA 
Owa Odighizuwa
UCLA 
Nate Orchard
Utah 
DTHau'oli Kikaha (DE)
Washington 
David Parry
Stanford 
________________
Xavier Cooper
Washington State 
Alex Balducci
Oregon 
DTDanny Shelton
Washington 
________________
Addison Gillam (LB)
Colorado 
 
Josh Tupou
Colorado 
________________
Antwaun Woods
USC 
________________
LBMyles Jack
UCLA 
Hayes Pullard
USC 
Michael Doctor
Oregon State 
Salamo Fiso
Arizona State 
LBEric Kendricks
UCLA 
A.J. Tarpley
Stanford 
Derrick Malone
Oregon 
Jalen Jefferson
California 
LBShaq Thompson
Washington 
________________
Tony Washington
Oregon 
________________
Darryl Monroe
Washington State 
________________
Scooby Wright
Arizona 
________________
CBIfo Ekpre-Olomu
Oregon 
Alex Carter
Stanford 
Fabian Moreau
UCLA 
Greg Henderson
Colorado 
CBMarcus Peters
Washington 
Josh Shaw
USC 
Steven Nelson
Oregon State 
Jonathan McKnight
Arizona 
SSu'a Cravens
USC 
Randall Goforth
UCLA 
Ryan Murphy
Oregon State 
Brian Blechen
Utah 
SJordan Richards
Stanford 
Eric Rowe
Utah 
Damarious Randall
Arizona State 
Jared Tevis
Arizona 
 First-Team SpecialistsSecond-Team SpecialistsThird-Team SpecialistsFourth-Team Specialists
KAndy Phillips
Utah 
Zane Gonzalez
Arizona State 
Jordan Williamson
Stanford 
Will Oliver
Colorado 
PTom Hackett
Utah 
Darragh O'Neill
Colorado 
Sean Covington
UCLA 
Ben Rhyne
Stanford 
KRTy Montgomery
Stanford 
John Ross
Washington 
Ishmael Adams
UCLA 
Khalfani Muhammad
California 
PRNelson Agholor
USC 
Barry Sanders
Stanford 
Geoffrey Norwood
Utah 
Marvin Hall
Washington 
Related Content: 2014 Pac-12 Predictions

Team-by-Team Breakdown of Athlon's 2014 All-Pac-12 Team
 FirstSecondThirdFourth
Arizona
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 3
Sp. Teams: 0
Arizona State
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
California
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 1
Colorado
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 1
Oregon
Offense: 3
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 0
Oregon State
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 3
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Stanford
Offense: 2
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 3
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1
UCLA
 
Offense: 1
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 3
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 2
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
USC
Offense: 2
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 0
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Utah
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 2
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 0
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 0
Washington
Offense: 0
Defense: 4
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1
Washington State
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense:  2
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 Football 2014 All-Conference Team
Post date: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /nascar/johnson-slays-michigan-cements-standing-nascar-title-favorite
Body:

With all that Jimmie Johnson has accomplished in NASCAR, it’s amazing there are still tracks on the circuit where the No. 48 team hasn’t won. Michigan was the latest checked off the list, as strategy worked in their favor at a place where Lady Luck has typically bit them instead. In the course of a month, the 48 team has won three of the past four events and been reestablished as the team to beat.  Jimmie Johnson

 

So where does that leave us in terms of Johnson’s Hall of Fame career? There are four Sprint Cup tracks remaining where he hasn’t visited Victory Lane: Kentucky, Chicagoland, Watkins Glen and Homestead. All of those are once-a-year visits, tracks Johnson has come close at only to fall short … with one glaring exception. In 13 career starts at Homestead, Johnson has finished second only twice — 2004 and ’10 — while leading just 99 career laps. That’s the fewest laps led for him on any oval currently raced on the Cup circuit, throughout the course of his career, paired with a ho-hum average finish of 14.8.

 

Will it matter this November, considering Johnson typically ends the season finale playing defense? Perhaps not, as NASCAR’s “Final Four, Winner Take All” Chase format changes the game for everyone. But if others want to find hope, even the smallest sliver that this one’s not in the bag for the No. 48 already, they simply need to look at those numbers. We’ve got a long way to go, ladies and gentlemen, with a final round wiped clean no matter how dominant the early rounds have been. At some point for all athletes, the course of successful history gets changed, and Johnson gets thrown a curveball he just won’t handle as well as the competitors around him. Right?

 

We’ll leave you to stew on that while working our way up “Through the Gears,” post-Michigan …

 

 

FIRST GEAR: Wait and see until September. Or not.

The Michigan race, like so many others the past two months, brought some familiar faces to the front. Kevin Harvick led the most laps (63) only to fall short to Johnson down the stretch. Jeff Gordon, the current points leader, led 36 laps in his own right, but played the wrong strategy cards and found himself stuck in dirty air. But at a horsepower track — and an intermediate one at that (think: five of the 10 tracks this postseason) — Michigan saw the cream of the title crowd rise to the top.

 

Will the top candidates change much over the next few months? At least one potential Final Four driver seems to think not.

 

“I don’t really think there is anybody in the wings,” Brad Keselowski said. “I think the way this year’s package has kind of come together, where we’re at now is where we’re gonna be for the remainder of the year.

 

“You might see some small gains from some teams, but I don’t see anything significant coming. I think right now the Penske cars are probably the best when it comes to balance track-to-track. The Hendrick cars are probably the best anywhere it takes power to run — and these tracks are certainly one of those — and Kevin Harvick, his team is probably the fastest week-in and week-out, so I don’t really see that changing for the duration of the season. I think what you’re going to find in the development cycle has been kind of found by this time in the year.”

 

Keselowski, like other drivers, went on to mention the dominance of Hendrick Motorsports, whose teams have won the last five races in a row. That’s the first time HMS has done so since 2007, when the title Chase was made into a personal playground for Gordon and Johnson while everyone else stood around and watched. Can anyone shrink the gap at these places, where pure horsepower can often make the difference? A streak of that kind has left many borderline Chase competitors this year rather discouraged.

 

“Our car was really good all weekend long,” said Clint Bowyer. “It’s just tough to compete with that horsepower they’ve (Hendrick Motorsports) got right now. That’s a pretty distinct advantage when you look at the results on that. Just incredible. That deal cycles, but it sure seems like it’s pretty unfair right now.”

 

Like anytime in the course of history, the losers in racing are throwing out some bargaining chips to try and get NASCAR to even out the horsepower. Over the last few decades, when there’s been a glimmer of one team gaining an advantage the sanctioning body seems to step in and fix it. But I don’t see that happening here. Hendrick, which took four of the top seven spots Sunday (not counting its alliance with Harvick’s Stewart-Haas program, another four cars, and two-car Chip Ganassi Racing) controls too much of the grid to really be touched. Internally, there’s a grip on the rules package that seems further ahead than what any other team has produced. An information network bigger than anyone else on the grid ensures an ability to stay ahead of the pack, and it looks like that foresight will be respected.

 

Are we headed towards an all-Hendrick Final Four? Not necessarily. Kasey Kahne, still winless, may struggle to even make the Chase. But a Hendrick-aligned Final Four, involving Harvick or someone else with Hendrick support? That’s a possibility, along with a near-certainty they’ll remain at or near the top of these races between now and September. Parity has taken a back seat to progress under the new rules and the teams with the most money and information have taken that extra step forward.

 

 

SECOND GEAR: A rookie takes a step forward.  Kyle Larson

Speaking of steps, you have to give a call to rookie Kyle Larson. Having lost his rear bumper after spinning out off Turn 2 early in the race on Sunday, it looked like curtains for the No. 42 team and its streak of solid performances. A spin on pit road later in the day could have easily ended the afternoon altogether.

 

Instead, it turned into motivation. While the lack of a bumper actually served as an aero advantage, it also changed the handling of the car and gave Larson a new set of circumstances he managed flawlessly. An eighth-place finish lifted the rookie to eighth in points, second-best among the season’s winless drivers, and he remains in a class of his own for Rookie of the Year. More importantly, Larson even slid out front for two laps during a cycle of green-flag stops to give him experience on the point for the second time in two weeks. To learn to win races, you must first lead laps and Larson is making slow, steady progress in that direction. 

 

“I didn’t think you could pass this many cars at Michigan,” the rookie said. “We just fought hard all day long. All-in-all, a good day. Another top 10 for us. Go on to Sonoma next week. Home state, so I will hang out with some friends, and see what we can do there.”

 

More than ever, it looks like those “feel good” quotes will soon be coming from Victory Lane. Larson is poised to become the first freshman to make the Chase if this streak holds since Denny Hamlin in 2006.

 

 

THIRD GEAR: Kevin Harvick’s “tough” stretch.

On the stat sheet, nothing appears wrong with Harvick and the Budweiser Chevy team. The team has run second in three of the last five races and led well over 300 laps. The problem is, those runner-up showings could have been wins if not for pit road or strategy mistakes. Harvick, who came to Stewart-Haas Racing to have the type of dominant run Johnson enjoys on a yearly basis, has seen a lot of missed opportunities.

 

As a veteran, you would think the driver would take the lead here; it’s a new team, essentially building through its near-misses. But Harvick, at age 38, has been continually frustrated in front of the press, calling out the crew while being snarky at times during media availability sessions. It’s a weird attitude to have while every other competitor (see above) is labeling you the fastest car on the track.

 

Right now under NASCAR’s new system, what happens has little impact on September through November. Harvick has made the Chase and has months to work out the kinks. But you wonder if this motivational tactic, designed to toughen up his team, will tear it apart between now and then. A five- or six-win season is still possible … as long as everyone keeps from going mental. 

 

 

MICHIGAN | The Dynasty NASCAR Built … Or Is It Hendrick? 

 

 

FOURTH GEAR: A look at Michael Waltrip Racing now.  Brian Vickers

Perhaps the most memorable Michigan accident came when Brian Vickers, a top-10 qualifier, lost it on the first lap of the race. The No. 55, which slid down the track and was t-boned by Travis Kvapil, finished dead last, his second run of 42nd or worse in three races to drop the team from eighth to 18th in points.

 

“It’s frustrating. I wish I knew,” Vickers said of what went wrong. “The car just came around going into (turn) three. I was trying to back the corner up and was taking it easy and just got loose and it just came around from me. I saved it all the way up to the wall and I thought I had it saved and ultimately it just came around and I lost it.”

 

Breezing by Vickers up the standings is Clint Bowyer, 10th at Michigan and now hanging onto a Chase bid by the skin of his teeth heading to Sonoma where the No. 15 team won two years ago. But it’s becoming increasingly clear both cars need wins in order to feel safe down the stretch. What a clear shift from two years ago, when Bowyer was second in the standings and MWR was a team on the rise. Its former driver, Martin Truex Jr., was a part of that steady build, but was released in the wake of last fall’s cheating scandal. Now, he’s also struggling to gain footing with his new team, Furniture Row Racing; they were wrecked after a streak of top-10 finishes in early June seemed to set a rhythm.  

 

Could MWR, in an expanded Chase, get shut out altogether? Bowyer’s momentum tells me no, but it’s also still possible — which is shocking considering how much work they put into earning respect on the circuit. Instead, nine months after one of the sport’s biggest scandals, it’s clear everyone at the heart of starting it still hasn’t fully recovered as one wonders how long — or if — the healing can ever be completed.

 

 

OVERDRIVE

Certainly, rookie Austin Dillon has been running better, but who would have thought the best Richard Childress Racing driver this season would be Paul Menard? Snagging a second top-5 finish Sunday (fourth), he’s the only RCR driver to earn one and is on track for a first ever Chase bid. With eight top-10 finishes in the first 15 races, he’s already one short of a career high in that category in mid-June. … Darrell Wallace Jr. became the first African-American driver ever to win two career races in one of NASCAR’s top three series, taking the checkered flag at Gateway Motorsports Park on Saturday night. Will he continue to gain support from Kyle Busch Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing going forward? With Carl Edwards rumored to a fourth JGR team for 2015 there would be no more room at the inn at that program and thus, no real reason to keep “development drivers” in the fold with no one retiring anytime soon. It’ll be interesting to see what happens as Wallace’s stock, and NASCAR’s internal preference for him as a diversity candidate, both continue to rise. … For all its high speeds, Michigan’s many wrecks knocked just two cars out of the race: Alex Bowman and Kvapil. It’s a testament to the safety of these cars that they can go over 210 mph down the straightaways, take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’. With that said, isn’t it a bit hypocritical when NASCAR says, “Hey, you can go 200-plus at Michigan but anything close to that at Daytona and Talladega and we’re reining you in with restrictor plates.”

 

 

Follow Tom Bowles on Twitter: @NASCARBowles

Photos by Action Sports, Inc.

Teaser:
Post-race reaction from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Post date: Monday, June 16, 2014 - 15:49
All taxonomy terms: MLB, News
Path: /mlb/fans-remember-baseball-legend-tony-gwynns-ridiculous-numbers
Body:

San Diego Padres legend and Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died after a battle with salivary gland cancer. The Padres announced his death Monday. He was 54.

Gwynn was one of the greatest hitters in the modern era and the last to seriously challenge a .400 batting average when he hit .394 in a strike-shortened season in 1994.

Known for his welcoming personality as much as his prowess at the plate, Gwynn accumulated 3,141 hits, won eight National League batting titles, earned 15 All-Star nods and won four Gold Gloves from 1982-2001.

He was arguably the best pure hitter since Ted Williams, the last batter to hit .400. Fans and sports reporters shared some of the more ridiculous and wild numbers to put Gwynn’s achievements in perspective.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teaser:
Fans Remember Baseball Legend Tony Gwynn's Ridiculous Numbers
Post date: Monday, June 16, 2014 - 14:20
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-june-16-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for June 16:

• Got World Cup fever? No? This will help: An Instagram rundown of sexy Team USA fans.

Tim Duncan's kids made an appearance with Dad at the postgame press conference. Of course, the Big Fundamental's kids are fundamentally adorable.

Here are the numbers to know coming out of the Spurs' fifth NBA title. One key stat: highest average winning margin in NBA Finals history.

Michelle Beadle was particularly happy about the Spurs' win.

A dad, holding his kid, caught Troy Tulowitzki's home run ball one-handed. On Father's Day.

• Weekend's best GIF: The Orioles' Adam Jones took out the first-base umpire on his way to second.

Donald Trump trashed Pinehurst's look over the weekend. Apparently thought the "native areas" were ugly on TV. Well, I'm not a fan of that native area on top of Trump's head.

This dog enjoys watching the World Cup more than I do.

• Tragic news this morning: Tony Gwynn dead at 54.

NBA players read mean tweets about themselves on Kimmel.

• Days after Charles Barkley went after the fat women of San Antonio, there's a Barkley fat girl cutout for sale in the Alamo City.

• ESPN analyst and friend of Athlon Buster Olney made a sweet barehanded grab of a Jason Heyward foul ball.

 

Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 16, 2014 - 11:32
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/5-key-stats-us-open
Body:

Martin Kaymer dismantled the storied Pinehurst No. 2 layout with a 65-65 start, then put it on cruise control for an eight-shot U.S. Open win that was never, ever in doubt. The weekend's utter lack of drama, despite the best efforts of the NBC crew in its U.S. Open swan song, shouldn't detract from what Kaymer accomplished in winning his second career major and adding the Open to last month's Players Championship win in what is becoming an impressive resume for the 29-year-old. Had Tiger Woods done what Kaymer did this weekend, there would have been hosannas from the rooftops. He was that dominant.

 

Kaymer had ascended to the top spot in the World Golf Ranking early in 2011, when he was the reigning PGA Championship winner. But he was ill-prepared for his stint at the top, and a round of swing changes saw Kaymer plummet in the rankings and disappear from leaderboards. Kaymer's clinching putt at the 2012 Ryder Cup — where he had been a non-factor — provided a faint echo of former greatness and seemed to spark a resurgence. Flash forward to today, and Kaymer possesses two of golf's most prestigious trophies, winning the Players and U.S. Open in back-to-back months.

 

"I think this year he had been trending in the right direction, and then broke through at the Players again, which I think was huge for him, huge for his confidence," said Rory McIlroy, who finished tied for 23rd, 15 shots back. "Because he's a hard worker and it's always great to see your work paying off. He saw that and then he sort of continued it since. ... So good to see him back where he belongs. He's a really talented guy and a really good guy and obviously a great player."

 

Here are some key numbers from Kaymer's weekend cruise.

 

8

International players have now won eight of the last 11 U.S. Opens. Kaymer joins Retief Goosen (2004), Michael Campbell (2005), Geoff Ogilvy (2006), Angel Cabrera (2007), Graeme McDowell (2010), Rory McIlroy (2011) and Justin Rose (2013).

 

1

Kaymer becomes the first player to win the Players Championship and the U.S. Open in the same season. Only seven others — Lee Trevino, Jerry Pate, Jack Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd, Tom Kite, Lee Janzen and Tiger Woods — have won both in their careers. Kaymer won the Players on Mother's Day and completed his wire-to-wire U.S. Open win on Father's Day. Wonder what he has in store for Grandparents Day.

 

4

Only four players — Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott and Kaymer — have won a major, a Players Championship and a World Golf Championship in their careers. Can you say Big Four?

 

3

Anyone searching for compelling storylines during a drama-free weekend didn't have to look far down the leaderboard. Erik Compton, who finished tied for second with Rickie Fowler, is perhaps the Tour's pre-eminent profile in courage. Compton is on his third heart, having survived two heart transplants, and he played spectacularly well in only his second major championship appearance. "I finally had that feeling of putting myself on the map,” Compton said. “I don't have anything to really prove to anybody anymore. If I never played golf again for the rest of my life, I think that I have made my mark in this game."

 

T29

Phil Mickelson was the story entering this tournament, as he was attempting to complete the career Grand Slam at the site of his first of a record six U.S. Open runner-up finishes. But he was never a factor, finishing tied for 29th. He leaves Pinehurst undaunted. "I believe in the next five years I'm going to have three or four really good chances, and I do believe I will get it," Mickelson said. "I'm not upset or disappointed, I will have more chances. And right now, given the way I have been playing heading into this tournament, it was really a long shot."

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 16, 2014 - 10:44
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Miami Hurricanes, News
Path: /college-football/kansas-qb-jake-heaps-transfers-miami
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Miami’s quarterback situation is one of the biggest mysteries in the ACC for 2014, and coach Al Golden has added another option to start in Kansas transfer Jake Heaps. The addition of Heaps was announced through Miami’s official site.

Heaps was regarded as one of the top quarterbacks in the 2010 signing class and played two seasons at BYU. In 2010, Heaps started 10 games with the Cougars and finished with 2,316 yards and 15 touchdowns. After a solid freshman season, Heaps failed to build on that momentum as a sophomore and did not finish 2011 as the starter.

Heaps transferred to Kansas and sat out the 2012 season due to NCAA rules. And after a year to learn under Charlie Weis and the Jayhawks’ coaching staff, Heaps was expected to showcase some of the talent that earned him a spot among the nation’s top quarterback recruits. However, Heaps struggled in 2013 and finished with just 1,414 passing yards and a 49 percent completion percentage.

Once Montell Cozart was named Kansas’ starter in the spring, the writing was on the wall for Heaps’ future in Lawrence.

Since Heaps will have his degree from Kansas in June, he is eligible to participate at Miami in 2014. Although Heaps has struggled in recent years, this is a key pickup for Golden and his staff in terms of overall quarterback depth.

Ryan Williams was expected to start, but he suffered a torn ACL in spring practice and is out indefinitely. Williams is expected to return during the 2014 season. However, an official timetable or target date has not been set for his return.

If Williams doesn’t return until late in the season and Olsen struggles, Heaps would provide another option if true freshman Brad Kaaya isn’t ready.

Heaps certainly hasn’t played up to his recruiting hype, and it’s unlikely he will make a huge impact with Miami in 2014.

Considering the Hurricanes’ top quarterbacks (Olsen and Kaaya) are freshmen, adding an experienced arm like Heaps doesn’t hurt. However, does the decision to bring in Heaps signal anything about how the coaching staff feels about their quarterback options going into fall practice?

Although quarterback play is a huge concern for Miami, the offense has one of the top running backs in the nation in Duke Johnson, along with a solid offensive line. Expect to see Johnson and incoming freshman Joseph Yearby have a heavy workload early in the 2014 season.

When you combine a tough crossover with the Atlantic Division (Louisville and Florida State) and the uncertainty at quarterback, it’s just a small showcase of why Miami's spot in the Coastal Division is tough to pick. The Hurricanes have talent at the skill positions and on the offensive line, but this team still has major concerns at quarterback and on offense. 

2014 is shaping up to be a critical year for Al Golden. By no means is Golden on the hot seat, but Miami is still looking for its first appearance in the ACC Championship. With the rest of the Coastal also saddled with personnel concerns, the Hurricanes should be in the mix to win the division.

Of course, that all depends on quarterback play. And that brings us back to the addition of Heaps. Is this a move for depth? Or a reason to be concerned about Olsen or Kaaya?

Only time will tell.

Teaser:
Miami's Uncertainty at QB Continues with Addition of Jake Heaps
Post date: Monday, June 16, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Pittsburgh Panthers, News
Path: /college-football/pitt-football-2014-schedule-analysis
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Paul Chryst has been to the postseason in each of his first two seasons at the helm in Pittsburgh. He won six games in his first tour and upped the total to seven a year ago — even if the statistical data was actually worse, especially on defense.

 

But with four starters back along the offensive line and some elite skill weapons on the outside (See: Tyler Boyd), Pitt’s offense has a chance to be the best it has been since at least 2009. This is Chryst’s bread and butter, of course, as the quarterback guru and offensive mastermind has more tools to work with than in either of his first two seasons.

 

This is why fans and media critics are bullish on the direction of the Panthers' program. This team has a chance to be the big surprise in the ACC Coastal Division, but talent and coaching are just two of the reasons energy is surging through The Steel City.

 

The schedule also plays a prominent role in projecting Pitt for a big breakthrough this fall.


2014 Pitt Schedule Analysis

 

2014 Pitt Schedule

WkDateOpp.
1.Aug. 30Delaware
2.Sept. 6at 
3.Sept. 13
4.Sept. 20
5.Sept. 27
6.Oct. 4at 
7.Oct. 11Bye
8.Oct. 16
9.Oct. 25
10.Nov. 1
11.Nov. 8Bye
12.Nov. 15at 
13.Nov. 22
14.Nov. 29at 
Non-conference opportunity

Pitt should be able to roll through Delaware (Week 1), FIU on the road (Week 3) and Akron (Week 5) in non-conference play. But a win over Iowa at home, a Big Ten West Division contender, would not only give Pitt a perfect 4-0 record outside of the ACC but would give the Panthers loads of momentum heading into October.

 

Starting unblemished

There is a good chance Pitt could start the year 6-0. The first two ACC games of the year will be at Boston College (Week 2) and at Virginia (Week 6). Not only are those both very winnable games — BC will be taking a small step back this year — but Pitt will then finish the season with four of its last six at home. Iowa, along with the Eagles and Cavaliers, won’t be easy games but Pitt could be favored in all three. This means Pitt will be a favorite to win the first six games of the season. A 5-1 start is more likely but 6-0 isn’t out of the question, in which case, all bets are off in the Coastal Division race.

 

Crossover play

One of the reasons there is a lot to like about Pitt this year is the crossover play with the Atlantic Division. Florida State, Clemson and Louisville are all absent from the schedule, while Boston College and Syracuse show up. It’s not NC State (predicted sixth) or Wake Forest (predicted seventh), and both Cuse and BC are pegged to get to a bowl game, but as far as crossover play goes, this is a pretty manageable twosome.

 

Coastal round-robin

Pitt will get three key divisional games at home this year. Duke, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech all have to visit Heinz Field this year in consecutive games (there is a bye week between Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech), giving Chryst a shot at making a run at the divisional crown. The Panthers scored 58 on Duke in a bizarre three-point win while both Tech schools handled Pitt with relative ease. Chryst’s offense scored just 19 points total against the Jackets and Hokies. If Pitt can win two out of the three, Panthers fans could be eyeing nine or 10 wins.

 

November road trips

Pitt lost to both Miami (41-31) and North Carolina (34-27) at home last year and if the Panthers want to compete in the division, it will have to likely win at least one of these two November games. Both will take place on the road in the final three weeks of the season. These two games may be the toughest two tests of the entire season for Pitt and a win in either one of them could make for a special season.

 

Related: 2014 Pitt Panthers Team Preview

 

Final Verdict

There is a lot to like about the Panthers' schedule. There are enough challenges to prove Pitt is a quality team without having to face any superpowers. The schedule is easily compartmentalized with an intriguing and favorable six-game start to the year before three straight home games within the division. The final three weeks of the season feature the toughest two road trips against two division contenders. Is nine or 10 wins within reach for Pitt? Yes, but an 8-4 season is more likely and would have to be considered a step in the right direction.

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Pitt Football 2014 Schedule Analysis
Post date: Monday, June 16, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /overtime/world-cup-2014-us-game-no-1-preview-v-ghana
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The first obstacle in the United States' path to World Cup glory is Ghana, Africa's premier soccer nation. Here's our preview and prediction the upcoming game.

 

When and Where to Watch

The match starts Monday, June 16, at 6:00 pm (ET), live on ESPN. The game is being played in Lagoa Nova, Natal, Brazil at Estadio das Dunas. Before the Americans get a shot at Portugal and Germany, they'll have to go through Ghana. If you can’t make it out to Brazil and you don’t have cable, every sports bar in America should have at least one of their televisions devoted to this game.

 

Why You Should Watch

It’s the World Cup! But seriously, Ghana has eliminated the Americans from the past two tournaments, so this is becoming a bit of a rivalry. Playing well in this game would do a great deal for the U.S. chances of breaking through the Group Stage. Ghana is, on paper, the worst team that we’ll have to face in the opening round of the 2014 World Cup. This means our offense will have its best chance at scoring goals and a level of intensity will be present that may be missing from the next two matches.

 

Essentially this is an elimination match. The loser of this game will not have enough talent or gas in the tank to earn enough points against both Germany and Portugal to sneak into 2nd place. If the two teams draw, barring any miracles in later matches, they will likely fall into 3rd and 4th place. This harsh reality means the squads will be coached aggressively so you won’t want to take your eyes off the screen for this one. Historically, it’s almost a death sentence if a team doesn’t emerge with at least 1-point from its first match. For the USA, every year that the team has lost its first match, they have failed to advance to the next round. When the team has gotten a win or a draw in its first match, it has always advanced. This is the game to watch, you don’t want to miss it.

 

Who to Watch for the United States

US SoccerMichael Bradley does not always put the ball in the net for the Yanks, but he’s the centerpiece of the action for the majority of games. Josy Altidore returned to top form against Nigeria, and hopefully this physical specimen will carry his high level of play into the World Cup Finals. Clint Dempsey, as always, is the man to watch for goals: he is the leading goal scorer internationally for this team, but as he is getting toward the end of his prime. Our striking capability is world class. It will be interesting to see how things fare on the opposite side of the ball. Tim Howard is dominant, but if the defense can’t keep Asamoah Gyan or the Ayew brothers at bay during regular time, the Americans will likely give up some scores. Keep your eyes on Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez, two younger defenders, to see if they can contain the Black Stars’ attack.

 

Why the U.S. Will Walk Away Victorious

Ghana is a strong squad. They made it to the quarterfinals during the 2010 World Cup and are coming off a 4-0 win against South Korea on June 9. In 2009, the Ghanaian Under-20 Team won the World Cup, so the country has high expectations for its “Golden Generation”. Ghana is favored against the U.S. and in general they are a more athletic team. On Goal.com, 63.9% of fans predict a Ghana victory. As the Black Stars’ Captain, Gyan will try to bring these predictions to fruition. Having said all that, the team finished just 2nd in the African Nations Cup after losing in penalties earlier this year. With this in mind, the Americans have their own ideas about what should happen in Estadio das Dunas and their firepower is not to be overlooked.

 

Currently, FIFA ranks the USA as 13th in the world with Ghana much farther behind at No. 37. Most of the time, you’d pick No. 13 to beat No. 37, especially at a neutral site. Still, critics doubt the U.S. because most of the American roster is untested in international competition (only 5 players have played in a World Cup before). The Yanks have reason to believe in themselves though, as Klinsmann has built a strong yet admittedly young roster of Americans and dual-nationals alike. After an impressive winning streak in the tune-up games, the USMNT looks ready to go. The overwhelming opinion is that the United States is the underdog. But our boys like a challenge and as midfielder Kyle Beckerman puts it, “…it’s going to take unbelievable effort from us and it’s going to take our best, but we’re looking forward to that”. Tune in on June 16 at 6:00 pm (ET) to see the best of both America and Ghana in each team’s opening game of the 2014 World Cup.

 

Prediction

Clint Dempsey scores in the 23rd minute and Aron Johannsson scores at the 71-minute mark. Asamoah Gyan scores in the 64th minute and the USA holds on for the 2-1 win.

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 16, 2014 - 09:00

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