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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
Body:

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
Body:

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.

Teaser:
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
Body:

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
Path: /college-football/big-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-Big 12 teams for 2014.

 

Related Content: Big 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 Big 12 Team Previews

 
National
Rank:
1066782043739174167


Athlon's 2014 All-Big 12 Team

 First-Team OffenseSecond-Team OffenseThird-Team OffenseFourth-Team Offense
QBBryce Petty
Baylor 
________________
Trevor Knight
Oklahoma 
________________

Jake Waters
Kansas State 
________________

Davis Webb
Texas Tech 
________________
RBMalcolm Brown
Texas 
Desmond Roland
Oklahoma State 
Keith Ford
Oklahoma 
Johnathan Gray
Texas 
RBShock Linwood
Baylor 
________________
Aaron Wimberly
Iowa State 
________________
B.J. Catalon
TCU 
________________
Rushel Shell
West Virginia 
________________
WRAntwan Goodley
Baylor 
Quenton Bundrage
Iowa State 
Jakeem Grant
Texas Tech 
Nick Harwell
Kansas 
WRTyler Lockett
Kansas State 
Sterling Shepard
Oklahoma 
Bradley Marquez
Texas Tech 
Levi Norwood
Baylor 
TEE.J. Bibbs
Iowa State 
________________
Jaxon Shipley
Texas (WR) 
________________
Jhajuan Seales (WR)
Oklahoma State 
________________
Kevin White (WR)
West Virginia 
________________
CB.J. Finney
Kansas State 
Tom Farniok
Iowa State 
Dominic Espinosa
Texas 
Ty Darlington
Oklahoma 
GQuinton Spain
West Virginia 
Desmine Hilliard
Baylor 
Mark Glowinski
West Virginia 
Sedrick Flowers
Texas 
T/GLe'Raven Clark
Texas Tech (OT) 
Daniel Koenig
Oklahoma State (OG) 
Ngalu Fusimalohi
Kansas (OG)
Boston Stiverson
Kansas State (OG) 
TSpencer Drango
Baylor 

Troy Baker
Baylor 

Devin Davis
Oklahoma State 
Jacob Gannon
Iowa State 
TCody Whitehair
Kansas State 
Daryl Williams
Oklahoma 
Tyrus Thompson
Oklahoma 
Desmond Harrison
Texas 
 First-Team DefenseSecond-Team DefenseThird-Team DefenseFourth-Team Defense
DERyan Mueller
Kansas State 
Devonte Fields
TCU 
Shawn Oakman
Baylor 
Jimmy Bean
Oklahoma State 
DECedric Reed
Texas 
Charles Tapper
Oklahoma 
Jamal Palmer
Baylor 
Branden Jackson
Texas Tech 
DTMalcom Brown
Texas 
Andrew Billings
Baylor 
Jordan Phillips
Oklahoma 
Travis Britz
Kansas State 
DTChucky Hunter
TCU  
________________
James Castleman
Oklahoma State 
________________
Davion Pierson
TCU 
________________
Desmond Jackson
Texas 
________________
LBBryce Hager
Baylor 
Dominique Alexander
Oklahoma 
Jordan Hicks
Texas 
Sam Eguavoen
Texas Tech 
LBBen Heeney
Kansas 
Nick Kwiatkoski
West Virginia 
Pete Robertson
Texas Tech 
Brandon Golson
West Virginia 
LBEric Striker
Oklahoma 
________________
Jonathan Truman
Kansas State 
________________
Ryan Simmons
Oklahoma State 
________________
Michael Reynolds
Kansas 
________________
CBQuandre Diggs
Texas 
Kevin Peterson
Oklahoma State 
Randall Evans
Kansas State 
Dexter McDonald
Kansas 
CB

Zack Sanchez
Oklahoma 

Kevin White
TCU 
Daryl Worley
West Virginia 
Xavien Howard
Baylor 
SKarl Joseph
West Virginia 
Dante Barnett
Kansas State 
Quentin Hayes
Oklahoma 
Mykkele Thompson
Texas 
SSam Carter
TCU 
Chris Hackett
TCU 
Isaiah Johnson
Kansas 
Derrick Kindred
TCU 
 First-Team SpecialistsSecond-Team SpecialistsThird-Team SpecialistsFourth-Team Specialists
KMichael Hunnicutt
Oklahoma 
Jaden Oberkrom
TCU 
Ryan Bustin
Texas Tech 
Josh Lambert
West Virginia 
PSpencer Roth
Baylor 
Nick O'Toole
West Virginia 
Trevor Pardula
Kansas 
Ethan Perry
TCU 
KRTyler Lockett
Kansas State 
B.J. Catalon
TCU 
Tyreek Hill
Oklahoma State 
JaCorey Shepherd
Kansas 
PRDaje Johnson
Texas 
Cameron Echols-Luper
TCU 
Levi Norwood
Baylor 
Jarvis West
Iowa State 

Related Content: 2014 Big 12 Predictions

Team-by-Team Breakdown of Athlon's 2014 All-Big 12 Team
 FirstSecondThirdFourth
Baylor
Offense: 4
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Iowa State
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 3
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 1
Kansas
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 1
Kansas State
Offense: 3
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 0
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Oklahoma
Offense: 0
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 3
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Oklahoma State
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
TCU
Offense: 0
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 3
​Sp. Teams: 3
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1
Texas
Offense: 1
Defense: 3
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 3
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 0
Texas Tech
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 0
West Virginia
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1
Teaser:
Big 12 Football 2014 All-Conference Team
Post date: Monday, June 16, 2014 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/top-30-non-conference-games-watch-2014
Body:

Clemson outlasted Georgia in Death Valley late on a Saturday night on the first weekend of action to open the 2013 college football season. UCLA overcame a 21-point, first-half deficit to beat Nebraska in Lincoln. Miami upset Florida, signifying the beginning of the end for the 2013 Gators. Notre Dame played epic games with Stanford, USC, Michigan, Oklahoma, Michigan State and Arizona State. And speaking of the Sun Devils, no one will forget what happened at the end of the Wisconsin game (the clock may still be ticking).

 

Every year, college football delivers delicious non-conference appetizers before league play opens up across the nation. As the College Football Playoff era begins in 2014, the value and importance of non-conference games have escalated exponentially.

 

At season’s end, there will be a host of one- and two-loss teams who believe they have earned the right to compete in the postseason. Yet, not all one-loss teams are created equally and a huge way to compare teams from totally different regions could eventually come down to non-conference scheduling. Who did you play out of your league? How did you perform out of your league?

 

A marquee non-conference win could (and likely will) be the difference between playing for a national championship or getting relegated to a glorified exhibition game (people call these bowl games).

 

Here are the most important, most anticipated, must-see non-conference games of the 2014 season:

 

1. Michigan State at Oregon (Sept. 6)

It cannot be overstated what a win for Michigan State in this game would mean for the Big Ten. So Oregon cannot overlook the rebuilt Sparty defense early in the year or the Ducks could be knocked out of playoff contention by Week 2. The schematic chess match between Marcus Mariota and Mark Dantonio's defense should be fascinating to watch. It's a classic Big Ten-Pac-12, offense-defense showdown that should feature two top 10 teams. It should be the best non-conference game of the year regardless of conference.

 

2. Notre Dame at Florida State (Oct. 18)

Florida State’s toughest regular season test in 2014 may come from the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame has the talent, gets its signal-caller back under center and could be on a roll by mid-October. Few games in the nation will feature two more powerful brands with more at stake than when Brian Kelly brings his team south to Tallahassee. Very few teams have what it takes to challenge the defending champs but Notre Dame is definitely one of them. These two have met seven times with FSU taking five games, including the last two meetings in 2003 and '11.

 

3. Stanford at Notre Dame (Oct. 4)

This historic rivalry has been elevated in recent years after a memorable overtime goal-line stand for Notre Dame in 2012 and a physical 27-20 victory for Stanford a year ago. Only four times have both teams been ranked at the time of the meeting (28 total games) and three of those have come in the last three years. A fourth straight meeting of two ranked teams is likely to happen again this year and a playoff berth could be on the line this time around.

 

4. South Carolina at Clemson (Nov. 29)

As far as deeply entrenched rivalries and overall importance of the game to the national landscape go, it's hard to argue the Palmetto State season finale won't be one the biggest non-conference games in the league. Carolina and Steve Spurrier are eyeing an SEC East title and possible playoff berth, so a loss to the Tigers for the first time since 2008 would be crippling to those hopes. If the Tigers' offense develops quickly, this could be another top-15 matchup.

 

5. LSU vs. Wisconsin (Aug. 30, Houston)

From a pure entertainment standpoint, the Tigers-Badgers semi-neutral field battle in Houston might be the one to watch in '14. This game will feature what should be two equally matched opponents, both of whom are expecting to compete for division titles in their respective leagues. The winner is buoyed right out of the gate with a top 20 win, the loser may be out of the national title picture after just 60 minutes of football. LSU and Wisconsin feature two of the best power running games in the land and this game will be a throwback showcase for both.

 

6. Texas vs. UCLA (Sept. 13, Arlington)

UCLA has Pac-12 South Division title hopes and possibly more as Brett Hundley enters his third season under center. Texas will be three weeks into the Charlie Strong Era in Austin and will provide a nasty early-season test for the Bruins on a “neutral field” in Dallas. The Longhorns will be a much more disciplined and focused team under the new regime and both teams have outside chances at landing a spot the college football playoffs. An early-season slip up must be avoided for both programs.

 

7. Florida at Florida State (Nov. 29)

This was a blowout a year ago but Florida expects to be much improved and the historic Sunshine State rivalry could hold national championship implications for the Seminoles. Florida may have the best roster of any team Florida State will face in the 2014 regular season so fans should expect a much closer bout this time around — as long as the Gators' coaching staff is still intact by season's end.

 

8. Auburn at Kansas State (Sept. 18)

Gus Malzahn's offense led by Nick Marshall, four returning offensive line starters and a deep receiving corps faces Bill Snyder's defensive wizardry on the road on a Thursday night. Both teams will have extra time to prepare for the primetime mid-week meeting and both will be contenders for their respective conference championships. From a coaching standpoint, it doesn't get much better than Malzahn vs. Snyder.

 

9. Clemson at Georgia (Aug. 30)

Last year's meeting was an epic offensive showdown that featured elite playmakers and provided a memorable experience for everyone. This year, Clemson's defense is its strength while Georgia returns nine starters on D. With two new quarterbacks for both teams, expect a sloppier performance from both offenses in the first week of the season — which could be equally as entertaining. Each team has an outside shot at playoff contention so this season-opening meeting is monumental for both teams.

 

10. Notre Dame at USC (Nov. 29)

The battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh will take place for the 86th time in 2014 with both teams eyeing a trip to the postseason. The Irish lead the series 45-35-5 — including the vacated 2005 USC victory — and Notre Dame has won two straight and three out of four overall. Both teams enter the season ranked in the top 15 and by season’s end, each could be positioned to play for a national championship. Which means, only one is likely to get that chance once they meet on the final weekend of the regular season.

 

11. Army vs. Navy (Dec. 13, Baltimore)

It has no bearing on the national landscape and neither team plays a “conference” schedule, but the annual bout between Army and Navy has to be recognized. The two have met 114 times with Navy holding a 58-49-7 edge in the all-time series, including a 12-game winning streak. There is a reason this game stands alone on its own weekend (Week 16, technically) and attending this patriotic and emotional contest should be on every fan’s sports bucket list.

 

12. Notre Dame at Arizona State (Nov. 8)

It’s not a traditional rivalry like USC or Stanford but a visit from Notre Dame in early November is must-see TV for all college football fans. The Irish beat the Sun Devils 37-34 a year ago in Arlington, giving Notre Dame a perfect record in three total meetings with Arizona State. Todd Graham’s defense is going through a major overhaul this offseason but should be settling in by the time Brian Kelly’s offense gets to Tempe. Expect fireworks from both sides.

 

13. Michigan at Notre Dame (Sept. 6)

There is rich history and tradition between these two programs, and with the game going the way of the dodo bird, this meeting has more meaning. These two teams are breaking in three new coordinators, most importantly, Michigan offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. He will be pitted against new Irish defensive mind Brian VanGorder as both units have questions entering the season. A win for Brady Hoke entering Big Ten play can’t be overvalued, while a victory for Brian Kelly could place Notre Dame into playoff contention.

 

14. BYU at Texas (Sept. 6)

A revenge opportunity for the Burnt Orange players and a chance for Charlie Strong to land his first big win as the head coach. Especially, the way quarterback Taysom Hill and the Cougars abused the Longhorns' rushing defense a year ago. Hill is going to be even better this year so stopping that ground attack is still going to be a tall order. This Texas team will be more physical and more fundamentally sound this fall and the game is on the 40 Acres. No matter what happens, though, this is appointment viewing early in the year.

 

15. Boise State vs. Ole Miss (Aug. 28, Atlanta)

The sneaky good matchup in Atlanta features two rising stars on the sidelines in Hugh Freeze and Bryan Harsin. Both offenses should be electric on the fast track in the Georgia Dome and both teams think of themselves as conference contenders. The quarterback play for both teams will be fascinating to watch.

 

16. Miami at Nebraska (Sept. 20)

From an intrigue standpoint, few non-conference games in college football will feature two more powerful brands than this Week 4 meeting in Lincoln. These two have met in multiple national title situations, including four Orange Bowls and three national title games. The last two meetings were a Miami beatdown in the BCS title game in 2001 and a Nebraska national championship-clinching win in the 1995 Orange Bowl. And, of course, who could forget the 1984 Orange Bowl and the most infamous two-point conversion attempt in college football history.

 

17. Virginia Tech at Ohio State (Sept. 6)

The Hokies will once again have an elite defense led by well-respected coordinator Bud Foster. This is the reason Virginia Tech is the front-runner to win the Coastal Division and face Florida State in the ACC title game. Ohio State is a top playoff contender and is breaking in a new offensive line, so facing the Hokies' defensive line is a great early measuring stick for Urban Meyer. The Buckeyes will be a clear favorite in this game and a decisive win could give OSU a critical non-conference win over a quality opponent.

 

18. Louisville at Notre Dame (Nov. 22)

Bobby Petrino has a few marquee showdowns on his schedule this fall and the biggest one might be a trip to South Bend in late November. The meeting will mark the first time in history that these two programs have ever met despite being just four hours apart. The matching of offensive wits between Petrino and Brian Kelly will be a thing to behold and must-see TV.

 

19. Florida State vs. Oklahoma State (Aug. 30, Arlington)

Oklahoma State won the Big 12 title in 2011 and was one drive away from a second conference crown a year ago (they also smoked the Baylor Bears at home). However, with massive departures, the Pokes are in rebuilding mode and playing the defending national champs in Week 1 is a recipe for disaster. Still, any time two big programs get together in the season opener in Jerry’s World it’s something the nation needs to watch.

 

20. North Carolina at Notre Dame (Oct.11)

Much like Louisville and Florida State, North Carolina has a shot at a headline-making, non-conference win if it can go into South Bend and pull the upset. The Tar Heels may not have the same talent as the Seminoles or the coaching of the Cardinals, but North Carolina should be fairly competitive in mid-October. The Heels are 2-16 all-time against the Irish but won the last meeting 29-24 in Chapel Hill in 2008.

 

21. Georgia Tech at Georgia (Nov. 29)

Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate featured one of the most thrilling finishes of 2013 (unfortunately for Tech). The Jackets coughed up a 20-point lead and eventually lost in double overtime. Paul Johnson has one win in six tries against the Dawgs, as Tech has lost 12 of 13 against their in-state rival. A season-ending win over Georgia cannot be undervalued for Johnson and could knock UGA out of playoff contention.

 

22. Northwestern at Notre Dame (Nov. 15)

From a regional standpoint, this game has tremendous intrigue. The Irish have dominated the Wildcats, winning 37 of 47 total meetings. That said, the last time these two met was a historic 17-15 win for the Wildcats in 1995 — a win that propelled the traditional Big Ten doormat into a historic Rose Bowl season. Pat Fitzgerald’s squad should be much improved, especially by the middle of November.

 

23. BYU at Boise State (Oct. 24)

These two Western powers have only met four times in history, including a 37-20 Cougars win last year in Provo. It was the first loss for Boise State against BYU. This season's meeting in late October also serves as the third consecutive year these two programs have met. New Broncos head coach Bryan Harsin will be in the middle of his first Mountain West season and Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill will be looking to build a potential Heisman Trophy resume with a great road performance. This game will feature more shades of blue than any one football game should possess.

 

24. Kentucky at Louisville (Nov. 29)

Mark Stoops is making Kentucky more relevant every day and his team should be at its best by season's end. Bobby Petrino will be wrapping up his first season back in Louisville. With in-state recruiting battles growing more fierce by the day, the Wildcats-Cardinals matchup just gets that much more intriguing.

 

25. Iowa at Pitt (Sept. 20)

Pitt is going to be one of the most improved teams in the ACC this year and will give Iowa all it can handle at home in Week 4. The Hawkeyes are spying a run at a Big Ten West Division title and Paul Chryst is very familiar with Kirk Ferentz from his time at Wisconsin. This would be a huge win for a team on the rise against a quality foe at home.

 

26. Tennessee at Oklahoma (Sept. 13)

It may not be all that close of a game but any time two major power brands like the Vols and Sooners get together, it's must-see TV. Trevor Knight and Oklahoma enter the year thinking Big 12 championship and postseason bid. Butch Jones and Tennessee are slowly working their way out of the worst slump in program history. There is a lot on the line for both coaches and both teams.

 

27. Minnesota at TCU (Sept. 13)

Jerry Kill and Gary Patterson are two of the most well respected coaches in the game today. Minnesota is coming off an eight-win season and wants to prove it can sustain some level of success, while TCU is projected to be a much better team in 2014. This game may not look like a great matchup on paper but by season’s end, one of these two teams will have a really good non-conference win.

 

28. Iowa State at Iowa (Sept. 13)

This is a passionate in-state rivalry that has been played 61 times (Iowa leads 41-20). The Hawkeyes won easily in Ames a year ago but lost 9-6 the last time these two met in Iowa City (2012). This game has seen high-scoring overtime affairs (44-41 in 2011) and low-scoring defensive battles. Fans never really know what they are going to see when these two get together.

 

29. Arkansas at Texas Tech (Sept. 13)

Fans in Lubbock and Fayetteville may learn all they need to know about the both teams in Week 3. Should Bret Bielema's team play well in Lubbock or even pull the upset, then Arkansas could be a much bigger factor in the SEC than expected. If not and Kliff Kingsbury out tempos the Razorbacks, it could signal a long year for Pig Sooie and a sign of things to come for Tech. The old Southwest Conference ties make this one of the more intriguing matchups of the year.

 

30. Nebraska at Fresno State (Sept. 13)

The week before Nebraska welcomes Miami to Memorial Stadium, Bo Pelini will have to take his team on a long road trip to Southern California. Fresno State is breaking in a new quarterback but is still considered one of the best teams in the Mountain West. Pelini needs to be sure his squad doesn’t look ahead to the Hurricanes or the Bulldogs will jump up and bite him

Teaser:
Top 30 Non-Conference Games to Watch in 2014
Post date: Monday, June 16, 2014 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/comparing-all-2014-preseason-college-football-rankings-and-picks
Body:

For Athlon Sports, the offseason is one of our favorite times of the year.

Of course, we enjoy the season as much as any crazed college football fan, but the bread-and-butter for Athlon since 1967 has been helping readers prepare for the season, helping them get to know the teams and players they need to watch.

This is the time of year we get to share our preseason annuals, our national edition and regional previews for five conferences. Countless hours of study and work from dozens of individuals went into the 2014 editions, and we still have room for debate on the outlook for every team.

Of course, Athlon isn’t the only publication out there. And just like anyone we like to compare how everyone evaluates the season ahead. Here’s how the top 25 and conference champions shook out in the various publications.

We’ll continue to update the grid as more rankings are released through the offseason.

 

 2014 Preseason College Football Rankings
 
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
2014 Conference Champion Picks
 
ACC
Atlantic

(champion)

(champion)

(champion)

(champion)
ACC
Coastal
AAC
Big 12
Big Ten
East

(champion)

(champion)

(champion)

(champion)
Big Ten
West
C-USA
East

(champion)

(champion)

(champion)

(champion)
C-USA
West
MAC
East

(champion)

(champion)
MAC
West

(champion)
MW
Mountain

(champion)

(champion)

(champion)
MW
West
Pac-12
North

(champion)

(champion)

(champion)

(champion)
Pac-12
South
SEC
East
SEC
West

(champion)

(champion)

(champion)

(champion)
Sun Belt

 

Teaser:
Comparing All 2014 Preseason College Football Rankings and Picks
Post date: Monday, June 16, 2014 - 07:00
Path: /nascar/juan-montoya-and-gateway-motorsports-park-make-nascar-return-weekend
Body:

Each week, Geoffrey Miller’s “Five Things to Watch” will help you catch up on the biggest stories of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ upcoming race weekend. This week, Juan Montoya’s NASCAR return, Greg Biffle’s defense, Hendrick’s Michigan woes and Goodyear tires highlight the storylines leading up to the Quicken Loans 400.

 

 

Montoya confident in moonlighting NASCAR return  Juan Montoya

Juan Pablo Montoya is no longer a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup driver after his offseason return to IndyCar in Roger Penske’s operation. Sunday, however, he makes his first stock car start of 2014 in a limited schedule for Team Penske’s third car. The time away for Montoya won’t be an issue, he says.

 

In a Friday press conference, Montoya beamed confidence. He talked of a recent test for the team at Nashville Superspeedway that served as a warmup for his Sprint Cup return. After spending the first three laps readjusting — Montoya said he missed the corners pretty badly during the initial laps — he quickly found speed.

 

“Honestly? I was within a tenth-and-a-half of the best time they ran at Nashville within eight laps,” Montoya said.

 

Montoya will have to qualify on speed for Sunday’s race, but he said racing up front shouldn’t be a concern. He thinks a top 10 is a good possibility.

 

Does that sort of confidence leave Montoya wanting a full-time NASCAR return? Apparently not.

 

“I know the game here,” Montoya said. “It’s fun knowing that you’re not doing the whole season.”

 

 

One year later, Biffle still searching for upswing  Greg Biffle

Depending on your point of view, Greg Biffle was either lucky or good a year ago at Michigan. 

 

Biffle won the race — his lone win of 2013 — when a charging Jimmie Johnson blew a tire while leading Biffle and the checkered flag in sight. Biffle felt the pressure his team put on the No. 48 caused the blowout. Johnson attributed it to his traditionally bad luck at MIS.

 

Regardless, it was Biffle that went to Victory Lane in a moment of the 2013 season that he admitted felt a bit early in last season’s development of the Roush Fenway Racing cars.

 

“We've probably gotten a little more than we deserved the past two weeks with a second and a win,” Biffle said after the Michigan win a year ago followed a second-place run at Pocono. “But we certainly have gotten much, much better, and it looks like we're well on our way to getting some speed back in these cars.”

 

The prediction didn’t really hold. Biffle made the Chase but didn’t win another race. Currently 14th in points, Biffle and the rest of RFR have arguably regressed — or at the very least, failed to keep pace — since that Michigan bright spot. 

 

 

Reliability fleeting for Hendrick at Michigan in 2013

Hendrick Motorsports won 25 percent of the Sprint Cup points-paying races a year ago. Those wins, though, didn’t come at Michigan after a pretty absurd amount of issues beset the four-car team in the two races on the two-mile oval last season.

 

In total, Hendrick notched just a single top-10 finish among the team’s eight total MIS starts in 2013 when Kasey Kahne finished the August race seventh. Otherwise, HMS notched four total DNFs and six finishes of 28th or worse. The problems included two engine failures, two crashes and two blown tires.

 

All told, the Hendrick record at MIS hasn’t been great compared to the team’s traditional front-running ways. Since Jeff Gordon beat Ricky Rudd on the final lap of the June 2001 race, Hendrick has just two wins at the track — both from Dale Earnhardt Jr.

 

 

Goodyear makes slight adjustment to Michigan tires

Some of the issues for Hendrick last year came as a result of a tire combination that left many drivers feeling on edge — and may have contributed to a few blowouts. The issues really began when MIS was repaved before the 2012 season. Averaged speeds in qualifying at the track skyrocketed over 200 mph.

 

Trying to fix some of the concern, NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear hosted a test at Michigan in April to find a new combination. The left-side tires will remain the same whole the right sides will be changed to the same construction used at Kansas earlier in the year. Goodyear also boosted the minimum recommended tire pressure.

 

If you’re wondering who may have a leg up this weekend because of participating in that April test, drivers on hand were Clint Bowyer, Biffle, Trevor Bayne, Ryan Newman and Earnhardt Jr.

 

 

Trucks make return to St. Louis’ Gateway

About 450 miles southwest of this weekend’s proceedings at Michigan, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series makes a return to the reopened Gateway Motorsports Park for a Saturday night race. The 200 mile Drivin’ For Linemen 200 is the first NASCAR sanctioned event on the oblong oval since 2010.

 

GMP — originally Gateway International Raceway — opened in 1997 for a Nationwide Series race and hosted its first Truck Series event a year later. The track never received a Sprint Cup date and was closed by original owner Dover Motorsports, Inc.

 

Still, the unique 1.25-mile oval played host to some pretty wild events in its time — including an act of the Brad Keselowski vs. Carl Edwards feud in 2010. Saturday night’s race will be the second in-a-row for the Truck Series away from a Sprint Cup weekend. It also marks the fifth-straight race that the CWTS field will be less than full as only 30 trucks are entered.

 

 

Follow Geoffrey Miller on Twitter: @GeoffreyMiller

Photos by Action Sports, Inc. 

Teaser:
Geoffrey Miller’s “Five Things to Watch” will help you catch up on the biggest stories of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ upcoming race weekend. This week, Juan Montoya’s NASCAR return, Greg Biffle’s defense, Hendrick’s Michigan woes and Goodyear tires highlight the storylines leading up to the Quicken Loans 400.
Post date: Friday, June 13, 2014 - 13:21
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Iowa Hawkeyes, Big Ten, News
Path: /college-football/iowa-football-2014-schedule-analysis
Body:

Kirk Ferentz enters 2014 with a very different attitude than he did a year ago.

 

Iowa walked into 2013 having lost eight games the year before and talk about Ferentz' job security was bubbling over. But on the strength of three star linebackers and an improved offense, the Hawkeyes bounced back in a big way.

 

Iowa won more games than it had in four seasons and both sides of the ball showed mark improvement. The defense went from ninth in the Big Ten to second while the offense went from 310.4 yards per game (11th in the Big Ten) to 376.9 ypg.

 

The task at hand for Ferentz and company now is to maintain success and show his team can compete in a new division. The good news for Iowa fans is the schedule sets up very well for the Hawkeyes to do just that in 2014:

 

2014 Iowa Schedule Analysis

 
2014 Iowa Schedule
DateOpp.
Aug. 30Northern Iowa
Sept. 6
Sept. 13
Sept. 20at 
Sept. 27at 
Oct. 4Bye
Oct. 11
Oct. 18at 
Oct. 25Bye
Nov. 1
Nov. 8at 
Nov. 15at
Nov. 22
Nov. 28

No joke non-conference

There is no marquee showdown with, say, Oregon or Notre Dame like some other Big Ten teams, but Iowa plays a pretty interesting and tricky non-conference slate. Despite dominating the game last year, anything can happen against Iowa State when those two in-state rivals battle for the Cy-Hawk. And the road trip to Pitt will be extremely testy on Sept. 20. An unblemished record out of the conference would be a significant victory for both Iowa and the Big Ten and would give Ferentz and company a lot of momentum heading into the B1G slate.

 

Lucky crossover

There is no Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State or Michigan on the schedule for Iowa this year. Those are the best four teams in the East Division and Iowa will miss all four. The Hawks will host Indiana on Oct. 11 and visit Maryland on Oct. 18. In fact, the entire month of October should be a breeze for Iowa as those will be the only two games on the schedule during that month. A bye week to begin (Oct. 4) and to end (Oct. 25) October should allow for Iowa to regroup after the first five weeks and get refreshed for the toughest portion of the schedule — which is…

 

Beware of November

There is an outside shot that Iowa is perfect heading into the final month of the season. November is when things get interesting for the Hawkeyes with the hardest four Big Ten games of the season taking place in the final five weeks. The month begins with a visit from Northwestern before Iowa goes on the road for back-to-back games with Minnesota and Illinois. But after 12 weeks of play, the entire season for Iowa likely comes down to the final two games.

 

Season Finale(s)

A case could easily be made that Iowa will play a two-game schedule in 2014. The last two games of the year will feature home games with West Division front-runner Wisconsin and heartland rival Nebraska. These two games were decidedly different last year for Ferentz, as Iowa was trounced by the Badgers at home (28-9) and smoked the Huskers in Lincoln (38-17). The win last year over Nebraska was the first in the series for Iowa since 1981 and, actually, the Hawkeyes have lost three of the last four against both Big Reds in Iowa City.
 

Related: 2014 Iowa Hawkeyes Team Preview

 

Final Verdict

Iowa is picked to finish second in the division due in large part to the luck of their Big Ten schedule. With none of the best teams (other than Wisconsin) on the slate, the Hawkeyes should be able to pile up wins in ’14. If Iowa can reverse the recent trend against both Wisconsin and Nebraska at home, then it has a good shot of winning the West and playing in its first Big Ten title game. Even if the Hawkeyes don’t win the division, a nine-win season is well within reach for the once embattled coaching staff.

Teaser:
Iowa Football 2014 Schedule Analysis
Post date: Friday, June 13, 2014 - 13:00
Path: /nascar/junie-donlaveys-greatest-nascar-drivers
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Junie Donlavey enjoyed a 45-year run as a car owner in the sport of NASCAR. The Richmond, Va., native passed away on June 9 at the age of 90. His age was a fitting tribute to the man fellow car owner Glen Wood called “the most well-like person ever in the sport of NASCAR,” as Donlavey campaigned the No. 90 on his machines for all but 23 of the 863 races entered.  Junie Donlavey

 

Donlavey visited victory lane only once in his NASCAR tenure, but was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007 and the list of those who sat behind the wheel of his cars reads like a Who’s Who of the sport: Hall of Famers David Pearson, Buck Baker, Fred Lorenzen and Joe Weatherly, along with some of NASCAR’s most recognizable names in Ricky Rudd, Benny Parsons, Buddy Baker, Dick Trickle and Morgan Shepherd, among others. Donalvey also entered Christine Beckers in the July 1977 Daytona race, one of three females (Lella Lombardi, Janet Guthrie) in the field that day.

 

The following is a list of some of the more memorable drivers to man Donlavey’s No. 90 (predominately) Fords over a career that spanned NASCAR’s rise from regional curiosity to national phenomenon.

 

 

11. Hut Stricklin

An honorary member of “The Alabama Gang,” Hut Stricklin was the last driver to score a top 10 for Junie Donlavey, and it came in 2001 at Michigan International Speedway. With a movement towards teenage and twenty-something drivers that appealed to Fortune 500 companies, Stricklin was nearing the end of his career when he teamed with Donalvey. It was a sign of the times for both the journeyman driver and the independent team; both were about to be swallowed up by the growth and size of the sport — and Father Time. While the No. 90 had sponsorship from Hills Brothers, it wasn’t enough to overcome the multi-car conglomerates that began to dominate the sport.

 

 

10. Ken Schrader

Ken Schrader is best known in the Cup Series for his time spent as the driver of the No. 25 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports following the passing of Tim Richmond. However, he actually got his start in Donlavey’s No. 90 Ford Thunderbirds. Schrader won Rookie of the Year in 1985 and a Daytona 125-mile qualifying race in 1987 with Donlavey, collecting 10 top-10 finishes that season as well as a pole at Darlington.

 

 

9. Lee Roy Yarbrough

The driver that Junior Johnson said had the most talent of anybody he ever saw was one of Ford’s premier drivers in the late 1960s. After dominating the sport in ’69, withdraw of factory support left him with only a handful of starts for the 1970 season, most with Johnson. One, however, came with Donlavey, when he ran at Trenton, N.J., lasting just 22 laps and finishing 30th with a blown engine.

 

 

8. Ernie Irvan

Before he cheated death twice or began a practice of swervin’, Ernie Irvan started the 1990 season in Donlavey’s No. 90 car. After making the Daytona 500 via 125-mile qualifier, sponsorship from Bulls Eye Barbecue Sauce was obtained and the team ran to a respectable 13th-place showing. Irvan left the outfit after the season’s third race to drive the No. 4 Kodak car and, one year later, won the Daytona 500.

 

 

7. Bobby Hillin Jr.

Bobby Hillin Jr. has just a single NASCAR win to his credit, but he was a part of one of the more memorable moments in recent Daytona 500 history. In 1992, a crash triggered when Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Al Unser Jr. got together sent Hillin spinning towards the grass, collecting Kyle Petty — who had dominated the event. With no brakes there was little Hillin and Donlavey’s teal Hellig-Meyers No. 90 Ford could do, but Petty wasn’t having much of it. His visor-close move — mid-argument — has proven one of the more poignant ways to end a disagreement.

 

 

6. Joe Weatherly

Looking through the list of drivers that Junie Donlavey had on his roster reads like this year’s Hall of Fame class. In Joe Weatherly’s case it is so. Weatherly would make one of his first starts in 1952 with Donlavey in the Southern 500 at Darlington. He finished 16th and brought home a staggering $150. He went on to win two championships elsewhere.

 

 

5. Fred Lorenzen

Another member of the 2015 Hall of Fame class — the Golden Boy from Elmhurst, Ill. — Fred Lorenzen logged one race in a Donlavey Ford. The first driver to win $100,000 in a season took a decidedly different approach to the cars he drove when he made some limited appearances in 1972. Lorenzen’s one start that season with Donlavey came sandwiched in a seven-race stint with Hoss Ellington — who also recently passed. Lorenzen recorded a fourth-place effort at Trenton, finishing behind Bobby Allison, Bobby Isaac and Richard Petty. Not bad company.

 

 

4. Dick Trickle

In the late 1990s, Dan Patrick always noted where Dick Trickle finished in NASCAR’s brief SportsCenter rundown. In 1997, Patrick almost got to do the feature of a lifetime following the Bristol night race when Trickle placed Donlavey’s Ford third. The No. 90 was also up front in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in July, when it was involved in a massive crash before a final restart. An additional top 5 was garnered at Rockingham that fall, the final top-5 finish for both Trickle and the No. 90 car. The crew chief? Another independent car owner you may have heard of: Tommy Baldwin Jr.

 

 

3. Benny Parsons

As Benny Parsons’ driving career wound to a close in 1988, it did so behind the wheel of the No. 90 Bulls Eye Barbecue Sauce Thunderbirds owned by Donlavey. The future Hall of Famer notched one top-10 finish in his final season (eighth, Phoenix), as the 1973 Winston Cup champion made the move from driver to one of the most recognized and memorable broadcasters in motorsports history.

 

 

2. Dick Brooks

Without question, the most consistency and success Junie Donlavey enjoyed as a car owner came during the Dick Brooks years of 1975-79. In 175 races, the duo nabbed 22 top-5 and 78 top-10 results, finishing in the top 10 in points each year with the exclusion 1979. This was the bridge of the “Big Car” era, and at a time when many of NASCAR’s legends were active and competitive, winning races and championships. While they never managed to win a race together, the big blue No. 90 Truxamore Mercury’s and Fords were among the most recognizable cars of their era.

 

 

1. Jody Ridley

Who else? The one and only win for Donleavy came in 1991 in the Mason-Dixon 500 at Dover with Jody Ridley at the helm. Cale Yarborough blew an engine with 20 laps to go, handing the lead to Ridley, who held off Bobby Allison for the win. The No. 90 car survived all 500 miles at Dover (as opposed to 400 today), and lapped the entire field, save Allison. Ridley also won Rookie of the Year honors in 1980 while driving for Donlavey and drove the No. 90 Fords to some of their best years, finishing seventh in points in ’80 and fifth in ’81. The pair collecting 18 top 10s in each of those 31-race seasons. Even more impressive? They did it with just one race car in 1981. One.

 

 

Follow Vito Pugliese on Twitter: @VitoPugliese

Teaser:
The most memorable drivers to pilot Junie Donlavey's No. 90 cars on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit.
Post date: Friday, June 13, 2014 - 12:43
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-june-13-2014
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This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for June 13.

 

• How would the U.S. men's national team look with soccer great Alexi Lalas' hair? Find out. 

 

Petra Nemcova gets physical in GQ Portugal. Thank you, GQ. Just thank you.
 

• Things just keep getting better for Michael Jordan. According to sources, he's now a billionaire
 

• Apparently Bill Simmons was not happy with the amount of face time he got on ESPN following the Spurs win over the Heat in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

• In honor of Father's Day, Jimmy Fallon and Gov. Chris Christie performed the Evolution of Dad Dancing.
 

Watch Rory McIlroy hit a golf shot out of a bunker full of coleslaw. Go on, you know you want to. 
 

• Arkansas has suspended junior receiver D'Arthur Cowan…again.

 

• Minor leaguer Quinton Berry wasn't happy about his ejection from a recent game, so he did something absolutely crazy
 

• In case you were wondering what the most popular beer is from every 2014 World Cup country, wonder no more.
 

• Who are college football's most underrated players
 

• During last night’s Yankees-Mariners game in Seattle, Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Stoll surprised his family, who were on the field as part of a pre-game ceremony. This gets us every time. 

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, June 13, 2014 - 12:43
Path: /college-football/texas-tech-football-2014-schedule-analysis
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Scheduling played a huge role in Kliff Kingsbury’s first season as the head coach at Texas Tech.

 

He began his career with seven straight wins but didn’t win a single game over a team who went to a bowl game last season. Then Texas Tech faced Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Baylor and Texas over the final month of the regular season, and lost all five contests. The Red Raiders came up short in every game they played against a bowl team (until the actual bowl game).

 

The season-ending Holiday Bowl upset over Arizona State, a team that posted the best record in the Pac-12 last year, has buoyed expectations for Kingsbury and Texas Tech in 2014. The second-year coach has his quarterback situation settled with Davis Webb already named the starter and, with a more balanced schedule this year, could show improvement over the 4-5 Big 12 record from last year.

 

2014 Texas Tech Schedule Analysis

 

2014 Texas Tech Schedule

WkDateOpp.
1.Aug. 30Central Arkansas
2.Sept. 6at 
3.Sept. 13
4.Sept. 20Bye
5.Sept. 25at 
6.Oct. 4at 
7.Oct. 11
8.Oct. 18
9.Oct. 25at 
10.Nov. 1
11.Nov. 8Bye
12.Nov. 15
13.Nov. 22at 
14.Nov. 29 (Arlington)

S-E-C, S-E-C, S-E-C

The non-conference slate features Central Arkansas and a road trip to UTEP, both of which should be easy wins for Texas Tech. A visit from SEC program Arkansas in Week 3, however, provides some serious intrigue. The Razorbacks were winless (0-8) in the SEC last year but are still talented and physical. A convincing win over an SEC team is something to celebrate no matter how good or bad the opponent is. A 3-0 non-conference mark is likely and Texas Tech fans will know a lot more about this team by Week 3.

 

Road trips to start Big 12

Tech starts Big 12 play with back-to-back road trips to Stillwater and Manhattan. Oklahoma State won the Big 12 title in 2011 and was one play away from winning the league last year. Kansas State won the Big 12 title in 2012 and is eyeing another run at the crown this season. Tech lost to both teams last year and allowed a total of 101 points against the Pokes and Wildcats. An 0-2 start to the season would be a disappointing start to conference play this year but may be likely. Ok-State is rebuilding more than KSU and an upset in the Big 12 opener on the road with two weeks to prepare could launch Texas Tech into a great season because…

 

October provides wins

Should Tech figure out a way to split with Oklahoma State and Kansas State on the road, things set up nicely for the Red Raiders to make a strong run in October. West Virginia and Kansas at home are must wins and should pose little threat to Texas Tech in Lubbock. The month wraps up with a road trip to TCU — another shot at a key upset — following a bye weekend. On a side note, the Xs and Os battle between Gary Patterson’s defense and Kingsbury’s offense should be must-see TV every year.

 

Nasty November

Should the Red Raiders make it to November still in Big 12 contention, the final month of the season should provide plenty of fireworks. Texas Tech will host both Texas and league favorite Oklahoma in back-to-back games with an off weekend between the two. This gives two weeks for Kingsbury to prepare for the Sooners. A long road trip to a distant Big 12 outpost (Ames) is the only comfort in the final month as a neutral site game in Arlington with Baylor looms on the final weekend.

 

Related: 2014 Texas Tech Red Raiders Team Preview

 

Final Verdict

There is a good chance that 2014 has a similar path for Kingsbury as '13 did, although, it won’t be nearly as lopsided. There are a lot of wins to be had in the first three months of the season and with one upset (Oklahoma State, for example), Tech could be right in the thick of the Big 12 title race entering November. With three of the best teams in the league on the schedule in the final month, it’s this part of the schedule that will define the Red Raiders' season.

Teaser:
Texas Tech Football 2014 Schedule Analysis
Post date: Friday, June 13, 2014 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/vanderbilt-football-2014-schedule-analysis
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Vanderbilt has been to three consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history and is breaking in a new head coach. Derek Mason is possibly the only first-year head coach in school history who is faced with expectations and pressure to win right out the gate.

This, from a traditional bottom feeder in the nation’s toughest league. Yes, times have certainly changed in Nashville.

That said, the fans’ optimism about the Dores chances at reaching the postseason is justified. Mason returns arguably the most talented roster in school history with a great backfield and excellent front seven on defense. And those two strengths set up perfectly for what Mason wants his program to be. His identity at Stanford was about being physical up front on both sides of the ball, running the rock and playing sound defense. This roster sets up nicely to quickly develop a personality similar to that of the Cardinal.

It helps, of course, that there are a lot of wins to be had on the 2014 schedule as well.

2014 Vanderbilt Schedule Analysis

Cakewalk non-conference

2014 Vanderbilt Schedule

WkDateOpp.
1.Aug. 28
2.Sept. 6
3.Sept. 13
4.Sept. 20
5.Sept. 27at 
6.Oct. 4at 
7.Oct. 11Charleston So.
8.Oct. 18Bye
9.Oct. 25at 
10.Nov. 1
11.Nov. 8
12.Nov. 15Bye
13.Nov. 22at 
14.Nov. 29

The first thing about the Commodores schedule to point out is the non-conference schedule. Vanderbilt is a team and Mason is a coach who needs to pick up wins out of the SEC the ’14 slate provides that opportunity. Temple, UMass, Charleston Southern and Old Dominion are as easy a non-con slate as there is in the SEC and Vandy should easily be 4-0. Any loss in that group would be considered a tremendous disappointment.

Early swing games at home

Vandy won’t leave the friendly confines of Nashville until a trip to Kentucky in Week 5. Two of those four home tilts, however, will come against SEC title contenders in South Carolina (Week 4) and Ole Miss (Week 2 - at LP Field). The Dores have played very well against these two programs at home but have lost to both in Nashville the last two visits. Expect a lot of fans dressed in some shade of red to be at both games. An 0-2 start to the SEC schedule is very possible.

On the road in October

The trip to Lexington on Sept. 27 will be tough as the Wildcats are improving and may be the only SEC win Vandy can pencil in during the first two months of the season. The game against Kentucky marks a tough road stretch that will feature three road SEC games in a four-game span, including trips to East Division frontrunner Georgia (Week 6) and defending division champ Missouri (Week 9) during the month of October. The good news is what amounts to back-to-back off weekends in between. Vandy hosts Charleston Southern and gets an off weekend between games with the Dawgs and Tigers. 

Finishing strong is a must

Three of the last four games in 2014 will come at home and will feature a must-win (ODU), a rivalry swing game (Tennessee) and best chance for an upset (Florida). Vandy beat both Tennessee and Florida last year but both expect to be much improved, so wins are not locks this year. Mix in a very difficult trip to Starkville to face Mississippi State between the Gators (Week 11) and Vols (Week 14). Again, the good news is a bye week falls on Week 12, giving Mason and his staff two weeks to prepare for the important final two week stretch.

Related: 2014 Vanderbilt Commodores Team Preview

Final Verdict

The non-conference slate all but assures that Vandy will return to a bowl game. A 2-6 record is likely all Mason will need to get to the postseason. That said, the East Division continues to improve around Vanderbilt and the crossover slate is really tough with both Magnolia State schools showing marked improvement. Another nine wins seems like a long shot but there is no reason to think Vandy can’t have another winning season.

 

Teaser:
Vanderbilt Football 2014 Schedule Analysis
Post date: Friday, June 13, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /overtime/world-cup-2014-5-reasons-be-optimistic-about-team-usa
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The U.S. Team isn't expected to make much noise during the 2014 World Cup, as all eyes are on Brazil, Spain, and other big-time squads. Skybet.com currently only gives the U.S. a 17% chance of advancing out of the Group Stage. However, if Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and company stir up some magic this year, the USMNT could find success in Brazil. Below are 5 factors that the oddsmakers might not be considering.

5 Reasons to be Optimistic About Team USA in the 2014 World Cup
 

1) Tim Howard is still one of the world’s top goalkeepers.

 

Against Nigeria, Howard earned his 100th cap, a clear display of the experience and consistency that he brings to the USMNT. At 35 years old, Howard still starts for Everton of the English Premier League. He has served as a steady keeper for his club team and recently led the U.S. in the 2010 World Cup to the round of 16. He’s as athletic and as talented as goalkeepers come, and with the United States’ draw, he'll be tested quickly. Germany, Portugal, and Ghana will be bringing the heat offensively, but hopefully Howard will be able to muster up enough heroics to put the USMNT in position to win.

 

Fun fact: Howard and Lionel Messi are the only soccer players to ever be drafted by the Harlem Globetrotters. Howard’s got good company there. If he manages to channel his inner-Messi (not the World Cup version, though) this tournament, the U.S. will be in good hands.

 

2) Portugal’s 2014 squad closely mirrors the Portugal of 2002, who the U.S. defeated 3-2 to advance out of its grouping.

 

Portugal is a brilliantly constructed squad, boasting Cristiano Ronaldo, the most recent Player of the Year, as its first option. However, Ronaldo just finished a long season with Real Madrid, who won the Champions League less than a month ago. This begs the question, will he be at 100% at the start of the World Cup? There have also been rumors of an injured leg that threatens to hold back the sensational player during the 2014 World Cup. He hasn’t seen much action lately, so it’s possible that even the world’s best player could be rusty when Portugal plays the United States. The turnaround in play will be challenging, and the Portuguese national team, which lives and dies with Cristiano Ronaldo, will be impacted greatly if the star takes a while to shake off his hangover.

 

In 2002, Portugal’s “Golden Generation” failed to advance out of the group stage. The team found themselves trailing 3-0 in the first half against the United States. The U.S. ended up carrying that momentum with them, earning a 3-2 victory and finishing second in the group. Portugal, on the contrary, bowed out of the tournament early after losing to South Korea. After the loss against the United States, Coach Antonio Oliveria blamed the extended European club season for draining his players of energy. That may be a cause for concern in 2014 as well. Additionally, Portugal’s makeup this year is similar to that of the team in 2002, an intimidating attacking presence but a less reliable defense. As you can see, the Portuguese look damn good on paper, but if we can extract any lessons from Portugal’s 2002 performance, there’s reason to believe that their time in Brazil could be short-lived.

 

3) Jurgen Klinsmann flaunts an exceptional resume.

 

Earlier this year, Jurgen Klinsmann secured a contract extension through the 2018 World Cup. He’s given his superiors ample reason to believe in him. Since he’s started coaching the United States in 2011, the German native has led a youth movement while simultaneously convincing many talented dual-citizenship players to join the U.S. squad. The new style that he has imposed on the USMNT is a diamond-shaped midfield set that places Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey into their more natural roles. So far, it’s been a success. Leading up to the 2014 World Cup, the United States has defeated Mexico, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Nigeria by following Klinsmann’s system.

 

Jurgen Klinsmann won a FIFA World Cup in 1990, as a part of the West German Team. He was a finalist for the Player of the Year Award in 1995. Klinsmann has also coached for Germany, so that gives the team a slight boost in the last matchup of the first stage. In 2006, he took his squad to a 3rd place finish in the World Cup. With the United States, the coach led the team to a 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup victory. Yes, he left the legendary veteran Landon Donovan off this year’s World Cup roster, but Klinsmann’s credentials speak for themselves. He has found success before, albeit with a more talented group of players. But with some trust and time, Klinsmann should be able to turn the Americans into contenders sooner rather than later.

 

4) Josy Altidore is confident and on top of his game. So are the fans.

 

The striker just scored his first goal in 28 matches against Nigeria over the weekend. The goal came in the 31st minute and was a result of some beautiful passing and vision from teammates Fabian Johnson and Alejandro Bedoya. Altidore would add another score to his statline in the 68th minute, with a pretty goal he sent into the far right corner. Granted, his goals came against an overmatched team that can hardly compare to the likes of Ghana, Portugal, and Germany. Still, it’s comforting to know that Josy Altidore has returned to form in time for his sport’s biggest event.

 

Altidore isn’t the only person who’s feeling good heading into the 2014 World Cup. Nearly 200,000 Americans will be traveling to Brazil to madly support the USMNT. That makes the 2014 World Cup the second straight tournament in which U.S. citizens have bought more tickets than all other nations besides the host. Thus, even in Brazil, the U.S. will have some sort of home-field advantage in its first three games. That’s great news for the Americans because Team USA needs all the help it can get.  

 

5) The first-round schedule is favorable.

 

Ghana, the weakest of the United States’ opposition in the group stage, is the first opponent for the Americans. In most scenarios, this is a must-win game in order for the United States to advance. Luckily, the roster should be the freshest for this one, and if our team can start off the tournament on top of their game, a win here is certainly feasible. Ghana has eliminated the United States from the past two World Cups, so revenge is long overdue. Even with an opening loss here though, the Americans can advance. In 2006, the U.S. dropped their first game to the Czech Republic and reached a draw with Italy, the eventual champions, in the next match.

 

The final game of the group stage for the United States is against Germany, a team that many see as one of the world’s best. It would be a miracle for the U.S. to outright defeat a focused, attacking German team. However, if Germany plays well enough in its two earlier matches, they may choose to rest their starters for the next round in this one, effectively giving the Americans a much easier shot at earning some points.

 

Portugal is a better team than the United States. Cristiano Ronaldo is the world’s best striker, with one minor stipulation: he must be healthy. Ronaldo has been struggling with injuries for quite some time now and to deal with this, he’s been sitting out of Portugal’s recent friendly matches. If Ronaldo’s fitness isn’t up to par when the two teams face off on June 22nd, the United States could pull off the upset or at least a tie. Therefore, at first glance, Group G looks like a devastating draw. But who knows what will happen in these matches, I guess we’ll have to just wait and see.

Teaser:
World Cup 2014: 5 Reasons to be Optimistic About Team USA
Post date: Friday, June 13, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/big-12s-top-10-must-see-non-conference-games-2014
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There are some concerning trends in Big 12 football these days. Elite recruits aren’t signing with the league like they used to, they aren’t getting drafted into the NFL and this league took it right on the chin in the non-conference a year ago.

 

Texas lost to BYU, Ole Miss and Oregon in out-of-league play a year ago. TCU lost to LSU, West Virginia was crushed by Maryland, Kansas State was upset at home by North Dakota State, Iowa State lost the Cy-Hawk Trophy to rival Iowa and Kansas even lost to Rice.

 

The state of Oklahoma won the two best non-con games in the regular season last year when the Sooners won at Notre Dame and the Cowboys topped Mississippi State in Houston in the season opener. That’s it, folks. Otherwise, the Big 12 completely wet the bed in non-conference play.

 

Even the bowl season was a mixed bag. Oklahoma’s win over Alabama was huge, Texas Tech pulled a major upset over Arizona State and Kansas State topped Michigan. But the conference champion Baylor Bears gave up 53 points to UCF in a Fiesta Bowl loss, Texas was crushed in the Alamo Bowl by the Ducks and Oklahoma State allowed 41 points in a loss to Missouri in the Cotton Bowl.

 

There are marquee showdowns in the non-conference again this year but the Big 12 needs to win some of these big-time games to improve the overriding trajectory of the league.

 

1. Texas vs. UCLA (Sept. 13, Arlington)

UCLA has Pac-12 South Division title hopes and possibly more as Brett Hundley enters his third season under center. Texas will be three weeks into the Charlie Strong Era in Austin and will provide a nasty early-season test for the Bruins on a “neutral field” in Dallas. The Longhorns will be a much more disciplined and focused team under the new regime and both teams have outside chances at landing a spot the college football playoffs. An early-season slip up must be avoided for both programs.

 

2. Auburn at Kansas State (Sept. 18)

Gus Malzahn's offense led by Nick Marshall, four returning offensive line starters and a deep receiving corps faces Bill Snyder's defensive wizardry on the road on a Thursday night. Both teams will have extra time to prepare for the primetime mid-week meeting and both will be contenders for their respective conference championships. From a coaching standpoint, it doesn't get much better than Malzahn vs. Snyder.

 

3. BYU at Texas (Sept. 6)

A revenge opportunity for the Burnt Orange players and a chance for Charlie Strong to land his first big win as the head coach. Especially, the way quarterback Taysom Hill and the Cougars abused the Longhorns' rushing defense a year ago. Hill is going to be even better this year so stopping that ground attack is still going to be a tall order. This Texas team will be more physical and more fundamentally sound this fall and the game is on the 40 Acres. No matter what happens, though, this is must-see TV early in the year.

 

4. Florida State vs. Oklahoma State (Aug. 30, Arlington)

Oklahoma State won the Big 12 title in 2011 and was one drive away from a second conference crown a year ago (they also smoked the Baylor Bears at home as well). However, with massive departures, the Pokes are in rebuilding mode and playing the defending national champs in Week 1 is a recipe for disaster. Still, any time two big programs get together in the season opener in Jerry’s World it’s something the nation needs to watch.

 

5. Tennessee at Oklahoma (Sept. 13)

It may not be all that close of a game but any time two major power brands like the Vols and Sooners get together, it's must-see TV. Trevor Knight and Oklahoma enter the year thinking Big 12 championship and postseason bid. Butch Jones and Tennessee are slowly working their way out of the worst slump in program history. There is a lot on the line for both coaches and both teams.

 

6. Iowa State at Iowa (Sept. 13)

This is a passionate in-state rivalry that has been played 61 times (Iowa leads 41-20). The Hawkeyes won easily in Ames a year ago but lost 9-6 the last time these two met in Iowa City (2012). This game has seen high-scoring overtime affairs (44-41 in 2011) and low-scoring defensive battles. Fans never really know what they are going to see when these two get together.

 

7. Minnesota at TCU (Sept. 13)

Jerry Kill and Gary Patterson are two of the most well respected coaches in the game today. Minnesota is coming off an eight-win season and wants to prove it can sustain some level of success, while TCU is projected to be a much better team in 2014. This game may not look like a great matchup on paper but by season’s end, one of these two teams will have a really good non-conference win.

 

8. TCU at SMU (Sept. 27)

The Battle for the Iron Skillet may not seem like a big-time rivalry game nationally, but inside the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, there is a long history between these two programs. The Frogs and Mustangs have played 93 times with TCU leading the series 46-40-7. TCU has won two straight and 12 of the last 14, so SMU is looking to end the Horned Frogs' recent run of domination.

 
9. Arkansas at Texas Tech (Sept. 13)

Fans in Lubbock and Fayetteville may learn all they need to know about the both teams in Week 3. Should Bret Bielema's team play well in Lubbock or even pull the upset, then Arkansas could be a much bigger factor in the SEC than expected. If not and Kliff Kingsbury out tempos the Razorbacks, it could signal a long year for Pig Sooie and a sign of things to come for Tech. The old Southwest Conference ties make this one of the more intriguing matchups of the year.

 

10a. West Virginia vs. Alabama (Aug. 30, Atlanta)

This game is worth noting just because any time Alabama is on a football field it matters to the nation. Unfortunately, the Crimson Tide has dominated games in Atlanta to kick off the season and West Virginia might be its worst opponent yet. This one will be really, really, really ugly.

 

10b. Kansas at Duke (Sept. 13)

Charlie Weis is dealing with some major heat as the head coach at Kansas and David Cutcliffe is now dealing with expectations in Durham for the first time in program history. If the Jayhawks don’t at least look respectable in a non-conference tilt against the traditionally weakest ACC program, Weis' time in Lawrence could be kaput.

Teaser:
Big 12's Top 10 Must-See Non-Conference Games of 2014
Post date: Friday, June 13, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/sun-belt-football-2014-all-conference-team
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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-Sun Belt teams for 2014.

 

Related Content: Sun Belt 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 Sun Belt Team Previews

 
National
Rank:
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Athlon's 2014 All-Sun Belt Team

 First-Team OffenseSecond-Team OffenseThird-Team Offense
QBTerrance Broadway
UL Lafayette 
________________
Fredi Knighten
Arkansas State 
________________
Tyler Jones 
Texas State 
________________
RBMichael Gordon
Arkansas State 
Marcus Cox
Appalachian State 
Jay Jones
South Alabama 
RBAlonzo Harris
UL Lafayette 
________________
Elijah McGuire
UL Lafayette 
________________
Robert Lowe
Texas State 
________________
WRDezmon Epps*
Idaho 
Rashon Ceaser
ULM 
Bryan Holmes
Troy 
WRJamal Robinson
UL Lafayette 
J.D. McKissic
Arkansas State 
Shavarez Smith
South Alabama 
TEWes Saxton
South Alabama 
________________
Darion Griswold
Arkansas State 
________________
Keith Rucker
Georgia State 
________________
CMike Marboe
Idaho 
Bryce Giddens
Arkansas State 
Valerian Ume-Ezoke
New Mexico State 
GDrew Dearman
South Alabama 
Isaiah Folasa-Lutui
New Mexico State 
Tommy Stephens
Troy 
GDaniel Quave
UL Lafayette 
Ben Risenhoover
ULM 
Terry Johnson
UL Lafayette 
TTerrence Jones
Troy 
Joseph Treadwell
ULM 
Kendall Lamm
Appalachian State 
TChris May
South Alabama 
Ucambre Williams
South Alabama 
Mykhael Quave
UL Lafayette 
 First-Team DefenseSecond-Team DefenseThird-Team Defense
DETyler Roberts
Troy 
Maxx Forde
Idaho 
Ronald Blair
Appalachian State 
DEChris Stone
Arkansas State 
Joey Gautney
ULM 
Shawayne Lawrence
Georgia State 
DTQuayshawne Buckley
Idaho 
Gerrand Johnson
ULM 
Dexter Blackmon
Arkansas State 
DTJustin Hamilton
UL Lafayette 
________________
Jerome McClain
South Alabama 
________________
Lonnie Gosha
Troy 
________________
LBQushaun Lee
Arkansas State 
Maleki Harris
South Alabama 
Edwin Jackson
Georgia Southern 
LBDavid Mayo
Texas State 
Joseph Peterson
Georgia State 
Ray Stovall
ULM 
LBMichael Orakpo
Texas State 
________________
Dominique Tovell
UL Lafayette 
________________
Mark Wilson
Troy 
________________
CBRocky Hayes
Arkansas State 
Montell Garner
South Alabama 
Artez Brown
Arkansas State 
CBCraig Mager
Texas State 
Corey Trim
UL Lafayette 
Qudarius Ford
South Alabama 
SSean Thomas
UL Lafayette 
Terrell Brigham
South Alabama 
Cordero Smith
ULM 
SSterling Young
Arkansas State 
Mitch Lane
ULM 
Trevence Patt
South Alabama 
 First-Team SpecialistsSecond-Team SpecialistsThird-Team Specialists
KAleem Sunanon
South Alabama 
Jason Dann
Texas State 
Maxwell Johnson
New Mexico State 
P

Justin Manton
ULM 

Austin Rehkow
Idaho 
Matt Hubbard
Georgia State 
KRJ.D. McKissic
Arkansas State 
Brandon Smith
Texas State 
Adam Shapiro
New Mexico State 
PRBryan Holmes
Troy 
J.D. McKissic
Arkansas State 
Rashon Ceaser
ULM 
 * Epps was dismissed from Idaho in July.
Related Content: 2014 Sun Belt Conference Predictions

Team-by-Team Breakdown of Athlon's 2014 All-SBC Team
 FirstSecondThird
Appalachian State
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Arkansas State
Offense: 1
Defense: 4
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 4
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 0
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 0
Georgia Southern
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Georgia State
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1
Idaho
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
New Mexico State
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 2
South Alabama
Offense: 3 
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 4
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 0
Texas State
Offense: 0
Defense: 3
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 2
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Troy
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 0
UL Lafayette
Offense: 4
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0
ULM
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 3
Defense: 3
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 1

 

Teaser:
Sun Belt Football 2014 All-Conference Team
Post date: Friday, June 13, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/conference-usa-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-Conference USA teams for 2014.

 

Related Content: Conference USA 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 C-USA Team Previews

 
National
Rank:
91127112409086116871151091178992


Athlon's 2014 All-Conference USA Team

 First-Team OffenseSecond-Team OffenseThird-Team Offense
QBRakeem Cato
Marshall 
________________
Taylor Heinicke
Old Dominion 
________________
Jaquez Johnson
FAU 
________________
RBKenneth Dixon
Louisiana Tech 
Aaron Jones
UTEP 
Leon Allen
WKU 
RBJordan Howard
UAB 
________________
Jordan Parker
MTSU 
________________
Antoinne Jimmerson
North Texas 
________________
WRTommy Shuler
Marshall 
William Dukes
FAU 
Kam Jones
UTSA 
WRJordan Taylor
Rice 
Jamarcus Nelson
UAB 
Antonio Vaughan
Old Dominion 
TEJonnu Smith
FIU 
________________
Eric Tomlinson
UTEP 
________________
Mitchell Henry
WKU 
________________
CChris Jasperse
Marshall 
Nate Leonard
UTSA 
Josh Mann
Old Dominion 
GScott Inskeep
UTSA 
Nico Carlson
Rice 
Jordan Budwig
FIU 
GCyril Lemon
North Texas 
Mason Y'Barbo
North Texas 
Sebastian Johansson
Marshall 
TCameron Clemmons
WKU 
Darius Johnson
MTSU 
Antonio Johnson
North Texas 
TCody Harris
UTSA 
Caleb Williams
Rice 
Clint Van Horn
Marshall 
 First-Team DefenseSecond-Team DefenseThird-Team Defense
DEHouston Bates
Louisiana Tech 
Ra'Shawde Myers
Marshall 
Vontarrius Dora
Louisiana Tech 
DERobert Singletary
UTSA 
Diaheem Watkins
UAB 
Gavin Rocker
WKU 
DTChristian Covington
Rice 
Brandin Bryant
FAU 
Trevon Coley
FAU 
DTJames Rouse
Marshall 
________________
Ashaad Mabry
UTSA 
________________
Rakeem Nunez-Roches
Southern Miss 
________________
LBDerek Akunne
North Texas 
Alan Howze
Southern Miss 
Stefan Houston
Marshall 
LBT.T. Barber
MTSU 
Andrae Kirk
FAU 
Jake Ganus
UAB 
LBJermaine Holmes
Marshall 
________________
Evan McKelvey
Marshall 
________________
James Radcliffe
Rice 
________________
CBD'Joun Smith
FAU 
Bryce Callahan
Rice 
Le'Vander Liggins
Louisiana Tech 
CBCam Thomas
WKU 
Bennett Okotcha
UTSA 
Daryl Roberts
Marshall 
SKevin Byard
MTSU 
Lairamie Lee
North Texas 
A.J. Leggett
Marshall 
STriston Wade
UTSA 
Damian Parms
FAU 
Xavier Woods
Louisiana Tech 
 First-Team SpecialistsSecond-Team SpecialistsThird-Team Specialists
KTy Long
UAB 
Kyle Fischer
Louisiana Tech 
Garrett Schwettman
WKU 
PHunter Mullins
UAB 
Tyler Williams
Marshall 
James Farrimond
Rice 
KRAutrey Golden
UTEP 
Deandre Reaves
Marshall 
Reggie Whatley
MTSU 
PRDeandre Reaves
Marshall 
Bryce Callahan
Rice 
Jalen Richard
Southern Miss 
Related Content: 2014 Conference USA Predictions

Team-by-Team Breakdown of Athlon's 2014 All C-USA Team
 FirstSecondThird
FAU
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 3
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
FIU
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Louisiana Tech
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 0
Defense: 3
Sp. Teams: 0
Marshall
Offense: 3
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 0
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 2
Offense: 2
Defense: 3
Sp. Teams: 0
MTSU
Offense: 0
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1
North Texas
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Old Dominion
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Rice
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 1
Southern Miss
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 1
UAB
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 2
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
UTEP
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
UTSA
Offense: 2
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
WKU
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 1

 

Teaser:
Conference USA Football 2014 All-Conference Team
Post date: Friday, June 13, 2014 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-june-12-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for June 12:

 

• We're still celebrating Kate Upton's 22nd birthday here at Essential 11 Links. Join us, won't you?

 

• Big weekend in sports: World Cup, U.S. Open, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup. To celebrate, here's a picture of a giant Mt. Rushmore replica made of beef jerky.

 

• Old and busted: the Heat's Big Three. The new hotness: the Heat's Big Four.

 

• LeBron had a lot of defenders following cramp-gate. Mr. and Mrs. Torii Hunter were not among them.

 

A Hater's Guide to the World Cup. And, for something completely different, 10 reasons you should watch the World Cup. Still more World Cup goodness here.

 

Looks like Lefty is in the clear — for now.

 

• This is cool: Rickie Fowler honored the late Payne Stewart today with some vintage plus-fours.

 

• Last night's web gem: Kevin Kiermeier's ridiculous diving catch.

 

• In case you missed it: Jim Harbaugh's wife made a funny ad mocking his dad pants.

 

• Speaking of mocking, Coco Crisp shamed the premature fireworks after robbing the Angels of a home run.

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, June 12, 2014 - 10:55
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Overtime
Path: /college-football/every-fifa-world-cup-ball-one-gif
Body:

With the World Cup kicking off today, the interweb is abuzz with excitement. What better way to show our excitement than checking out the balls that have graced the soccer field over the decades.

 

For a detailed breakdown of each ball, click here.

Every FIFA World Cup Ball

Source: Reddit

 

 

Teaser:
With the World Cup kicking off today, the interweb is abuzz with excitement. What better way to show our excitement than checking out the balls that have graced the soccer field over the decades.
Post date: Thursday, June 12, 2014 - 10:04

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