Articles By Braden Gall

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NFL training camps are in full swing across the nation, signaling the official return of pro football.

 

Athlon Sports is going division by division, asking and (trying to) answering the biggest question for every team in the league entering the 2015 season.

 

AFC's Biggest Questions: EastNorthSouth | West
NFC's Biggest Questions: East | North | South | West

 

AFC West

 

Denver: How do Gary Kubiak and Peyton Manning mesh?

The former Houston Texans head coach brings a run-first offense to Denver after John Elway fired John Fox and many wonder how his system meshes with the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer. Two things that will help, Manning will be significantly healthier than last year and the offensive line should be better than it finished. Manning will be much stronger, more durable and ready for one last run. Losing Ryan Clady in the summer hurts the O-line but this team addressed the issues by using two of their first four picks in the draft and signing two interior blockers in free agency. If the line is better and Manning is healthy, he will work just fine in the system and Denver should be celebrating its fifth straight AFC West title.

 

Kansas City: How healthy is the star power on defense?

Alex Smith and the passing game needs to improve but Jeremy Maclin and an improved O-line figure to help that. Justin Houston posted the quietest 22-sack season in history but there remain question marks on what could be a good defensive unit. Up-the-middle stalwart Dontari Poe recently had back surgery, Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Johnson and steady defensive end Mike DeVito both suffered torn Achilles last year in Week 1, superstar safety Eric Berry is battling back from lymphoma and rising corner Sean Smith will miss three games with a DUI-related suspension. Even first-round pick Marcus Peters was kicked off his team during his final season at Washington. Should all these pieces return to full health and stay focused; the defense could be one of the NFL’s best.

 

Oakland: How fast can this young team grow up?

Last year, the Raiders lacked any running game and were very old on defense. But in just two quick years, this team has added a lot of intriguing young talent. Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and Gabe Jackson were all rookie standouts last year so general manager Reggie McKenzie and new head coach Jack Del Rio are hoping that trend continues with more rookies — Amari Cooper, Mario Edwards, Clive Walford — and some young free agents. This team appears to be at least a year away from competing in the AFC West but the front office has done a remarkable job stockpiling quality young players. How quickly they grow up will be key for the Bay Area in 2015.

 

San Diego: Where is Philip Rivers head?

The fiery and emotional San Diego quarterback is entering the final year of his contract and was at the center of two major offseason stories for the Chargers — a potential trade for Marcus Mariota and his desire NOT to play in Los Angeles. The 10-year vet is coming off two big seasons under coach Mike McCoy and both the O-line and running game have been upgraded. How balky is Rivers' back? Do the relocation rumors hurt the Bolts' contract negotiations? Does the longtime franchise quarterback want a change? This team has been on the verge for years, winning either eight or nine games in four of the last five years, so one has to wonder if this is the Chargers' last shot with their star quarterback.

 
Teaser:
Answering the AFC West's Biggest Questions in 2015
Post date: Tuesday, August 4, 2015 - 12:00
Path: /nfl/answering-nfc-souths-biggest-questions-2015
Body:

NFL training camps are opening up all across the nation, signaling the official return of pro football.

 

Athlon Sports is going division by division, asking and (trying to) answering the biggest question for every team in the league entering the 2015 season.

 

AFC's Biggest Questions: EastNorthSouth | West
NFC's Biggest Questions: East | North | South | West

 

NFC South

 

Atlanta: Can Dan Quinn build Seattle East?

The window for the Falcons is closing rapidly after 10 wins in two years led to a regime change from Mike Smith to Dan Quinn. The new staff used its first two picks and four of the seven total in the draft on the defensive line and in the secondary. Quinn has immediately tried to recreate in Atlanta what he had in Seattle with Vic Beasley playing the critical LEO position and Jalen Collins bringing size and strength to the cornerback position. Additionally, he brought in two defensive ends, two linebackers and a corner (actually from Seattle) in free agency. With a star quarterback in place, Atlanta can still win but Quinn’s defensive blueprint has to take hold quickly. There’s nowhere to go but up.

 

Carolina: Have the Panthers fixed their aerial issues?

The defensive front seven is nearly perfect and the offense’s ground game was among the NFL’s best last year. But the secondary and the passing game are issues. Cam Newton has some new weaponry to work with in the form of Jarrett Boykin, Ted Ginn Jr., and rookie Devin Funchess. The offense has some serious trees catching passes outside but needs to find someone who can stretch the defense. On defense, there is no star power and lots of aging legs on the back end. Someone needs to step up besides cornerback Josh Norman. Should both areas improve, a third straight division title is well within reach.

 

New Orleans: Can Rob Ryan fix the front seven?

Much like Atlanta, there are lots of question marks on the defensive side of the ball for New Orleans. The best pass rusher, Junior Galette, was released just a week before camp opened after multiple off-the-field issues. Cameron Jordan and Akiem Hicks both need to rebound in a big way. At linebacker, the Saints drafted three rookies and signed two free agents in an effort to retool the unit. Look for second-rounder Stephone Anthony to step inside and play right away while veteran Anthony Spencer and fellow rookie Hau’oli Kikaha will be asked to pressure the quarterback off the edge. This unit ranked 31st last year in total defense after ranking fourth in 2013, so the only hope NOLA has of reaching the playoffs this fall is a rebound year from Rob Ryan’s group.

 

Tampa Bay: Is Jameis Winston a star?

The Bucs' roster has lots of high-level young talent all over its roster but the main linchpin is the No. 1 overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft. The biggest difference between teams that have won in the NFC South and Tampa Bay is a franchise quarterback. For Tampa Bay to compete, Jameis Winston must be capable of going toe-to-toe with Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Cam Newton. Winston has maturity issues but is extraordinarily talented and basically won every college start he made (26-1). Look for the Buccaneers to immediately compete in a division with defensive question marks with Winston now under center.

 

Teaser:
Answering the NFC South's Biggest Questions in 2015
Post date: Monday, August 3, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /nfl/answering-afc-souths-biggest-questions-2015
Body:

NFL training camps are opening up all across the nation, signaling the official return of pro football.

 

Athlon Sports is going division by division, asking and (trying to) answering the biggest question for every team in the league entering the 2015 season.

 

AFC's Biggest Questions: EastNorthSouth | West
NFC's Biggest Questions: East | North | South | West

 

AFC South

 

Houston: Can Bill O’Brien find stability under center?

This team jumped from two wins in 2013 to nine a year ago with three different players taking snaps under center. Imagine how good the Texans could be with some stability under center? Ryan Mallet was one of those starters and appears to have the perfect skill set for what O’Brien wants from his quarterback. But, he is recovering from a torn pectoral muscle. Brian Hoyer is more mobile, has more experience and is more familiar with O'Brien since both were in New England together. This team is built to succeed quickly on defense and has plenty of talent around the signal-caller but to reach the postseason, O’Brien must get consistent play from his quarterback. Look for a healthy Mallett to win the job because of his big arm and down-the-field ability.

 

Indianapolis: Can the Colts stop the run in January?

The Colts have dominated their division and are loaded on offense for a Super Bowl run. But that run likely goes through New England, a team that has scored 47.3 points per game in the last four meetings against the Colts. Enter Trent Cole, Nate Irving, Kendall Langford and three rookie front seven prospects to help the Colts stop the run. The Patriots rushed for 177 yards and 234 yards in two playoff wins over Indy and improving this part of the team is imperative if the Colts want to go further than the AFC title game. Look for the new 3-4 scheme to show improvement and help this team go further in the postseason.

 

Jacksonville: Are the issues along the line fixed?

Both the offensive and defensive lines in Jacksonville have undergone complete overhauls in the last two seasons. The offense allowed a league-worst 71 sacks, scored a league-low 15.6 points per game and couldn’t run the ball whatsoever. The Jags also finished 27th in the NFL in rushing defense and allowed the fourth-worst QB rating (99.1) to opposing signal-callers. This unit did create pressure but needs to show marked improvement across the board. New offensive line coach Doug Marrone should fix a young but very talented unit, while losing first-round pick Dante Fowler (torn ACL) was a crushing blow to the reworked D-line. Either way, both units should be better in 2015 and that could be the first sign of growth under Gus Bradley.

 

Tennessee: Will the Titans' O-line play up to potential?

There are simply too many questions with this team to answer them all in one paragraph. But the crux of the offensive issues start up front. This team must protect first-round investment Marcus Mariota and must run the football better. This group has two first-round picks in Taylor Lewan and Chance Warmack and another in Andy Levitre, who is paid like a top draft pick. Who plays center and right tackle is still up in the air and should this group play up to its potential, Tennessee should be dramatically more entertaining and competitive right away. If not, Mariota could be flat on his back most of ’15.

 

Teaser:
Answering the AFC South's Biggest Questions in 2015
Post date: Friday, July 31, 2015 - 09:30
Path: /nfl/answering-nfc-norths-biggest-questions-2015
Body:

NFL training camps are opening up all across the nation, signaling the official return of pro football.

 

Athlon Sports is going division by division, asking and (trying to) answering the biggest question for every team in the league entering the 2015 season.

 

AFC's Biggest Questions: EastNorth | South | West
NFC's Biggest Questions: East | North | South | West

 

NFC North

 

Chicago: Is Jay Cutler your starting quarterback?

There are a lot of unknowns about the Bears with John Fox now running things in the Windy City. But it's hard to address any of the other issues while ignoring the flashing neon sign under center. Chicago can't rid itself of Jay Cutler (not for lack of trying), and, despite his much-deserved criticisms, the veteran is still a better option than a dozen other NFL starters. Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase certainly won't be married to the incumbent so the leash will be short. How a run-first, disciplinarian head coach meshes with a lackadaisical and frustrating quarterback will be fascinating. If Cutler and Gase can get on the same page, the Bears have a lot of weaponry to utilize.

 

Detroit: Can the defensive line be rebuilt?

The Lions' offense underachieved last fall but is loaded for bear in 2015. It's the NFL's No. 2-ranked defense that has major holes to fill. Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and C.J. Mosley are gone off the defensive line. Haloti Ngata fills one role immediately but is turning 31 and posted the second fewest tackles in his career last season. Ziggy Ansah is a special talent but is still very young while free agents and rookies will be asked to step in and fill other voids. The linebackers are among the NFL's best and the secondary is finally rounding into form. But to stay elite, the Lions' defensive line has to prove it can reload after some major departures.

 

Green Bay: Organize the new faces on defense?

The Packers are loaded and picked by many to win the division, but there are holes on the defense. Longtime veteran starters A.J. Hawk and Tramon Williams are gone along with role players Davon House and Jamari Lattimore. B.J. Raji returns but the Packers need strides from first-round picks Datone Jones, Nick Perry, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Damarious Randall. The Packers used their first two picks this year on corners and selected Jake Ryan in the fourth round. Clay Matthews has excelled inside and out but his supporting cast — which is loaded with early draft picks — needs to step into more prominent roles.

 

Minnesota: Can the young talent develop quickly?

There is a lot of young talent on this team. In fact, the Vikings have made eight first=round picks in the last four drafts and all eight have Pro Bowl potential. This group doesn't include rookie starting middle linebacker Eric Kendricks or other young starters like Everson Griffen, Kyle Rudolph or Antone Exum. This team is poised for big things in the near future, but the question is can the future be 2015? Despite the new contract, Adrian Peterson may not be long for the Twin Cities but he has an extremely experienced offensive line and fresh legs. If Teddy Bridgewater and the other young talent develops quickly, this is a sneaky good playoff team. If not, All-Day could be in Dallas this time next year.

Teaser:
Answering the NFC North's Biggest Questions in 2015
Post date: Thursday, July 30, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /nfl/answering-afc-norths-biggest-questions-2015
Body:

NFL training camps are opening up all across the nation, signaling the official return of pro football.

 

Athlon Sports is going division by division, asking and (trying to) answering the biggest question for every team in the league entering the 2015 season.

 

AFC's Biggest Questions: EastNorth | South | West
NFC's Biggest Questions: East | North | South | West

 

AFC North

 
Baltimore: Who makes plays on offense?

Baltimore’s offensive line is one of the best in the NFL and Joe Flacco is a Super Bowl champion. But what will his supporting cast look like in 2015? Justin Forsett broke out last fall but is still undersized and one year removed from journeyman status while Lorenzo Taliaferro acts as the primary backup with just 68 career NFL carries. The receiver corps is led by a 36-year-old Steve Smith and two rookies in first-rounder Breshad Perriman and second-round tight end Maxx Williams. There are major questions about Perriman’s ability to play right away but both have loads of upside. It will be interesting to see who steps up into a primary playmaker role around Flacco.

 

Cincinnati: Can Andy Dalton take the next step?

This Bengals team has all of the pieces to win a Super Bowl. The offensive line, skill players, defensive line and secondary are among the best in the NFL. But Andy Dalton, despite four playoff appearances in four years, is under the microscope. He’s 0-4 in the postseason and posted career lows in yards (3,398) and touchdowns (19) last year. If A.J. Green is fully healthy, those numbers should be better but Dalton needs to prove he’s a championship-caliber quarterback sooner rather than later before the Bengals' title window begins to close.

 

Cleveland: What role does Johnny Manziel play?

The Browns began the year 7-4 last year behind the play of Brian Hoyer before the offense fell flat on its face and lost five straight to end the year. Johnny Manziel entered the NFL with huge fanfare and bright spotlights and it eventually landed him in rehab. Cleaned up and focused, Manziel is set to push free-agent signee Josh McCown for the starting job in Cleveland. Manziel, when good, is a sight to behold, making plays all over the field and he could resurrect the Browns offense. But with so many ifs surrounding his second season, fans are left wondering what role Manziel will play in 2015.

 

Pittsburgh: What will life after Dick LeBeau be like?

The Steelers were aging quickly on defense but will enter 2015 with lots of new faces and young blood. Dick LeBeau is now coaching the Titans defense, Troy Polamalu has retired and the average age of the Steelers' starting 11 on defense is just 26.5 years old. The core 3-4 philosophy won’t change much under new coordinator Keith Butler and the starting linebacker corps could feature four first-round picks. The Steelers' defense has tons of talent but this group is young and inexperienced. If this unit gels quickly and plays up to the same level as the Pittsburgh offense, the Steel City could easily win the division and push for a deep playoff run. Otherwise, this could be a one-sided franchise once again.

Teaser:
Answering the AFC North's Biggest Questions in 2015
Post date: Wednesday, July 29, 2015 - 09:30
Path: /nfl/answering-nfc-easts-biggest-questions-2015
Body:

NFL training camps are opening up all across the nation, signaling the official return of pro football.

 

Athlon Sports is going division by division, asking and (trying to) answering the biggest question for every team in the league entering the 2015 season.

 

AFC's Biggest Questions: East | North | South | West
NFC's Biggest Questions: East | North | South | West

 

NFC East

 

Dallas: Can the misfit toys come together on defense?

The only questions on offense are Tony Romo’s back and can the stable of backs collectively replace DeMarco Murray. Basically, there shouldn’t really be any concerns about this high-octane offense. But the defense is stacked with talented, but enigmatic players. Sean Lee is a rock in the middle but is recovering from ACL surgery (and moving to the weak side) while Rolando McClain has had his fair share of off-field issues and is suspended for the first four games. Morris Claiborne missed 12 games with an injury and rookie first-rounder Byron Jones is expected to play right away in the secondary. And the defensive line is a total unknown. Free-agent acquisition Greg Hardy also will sit for the first four games, second-year end Demarcus Lawrence played just seven games last year and rookie Randy Gregory dropped to the second round because of dedication issues. If all of these pieces fit well, it’s a Super Bowl team. If not, it might not even win the division.

 

NY Giants: Can Steve Spagnuolo be the savior?

With one of the best offenses in the league, New York’s biggest questions loom on defense. Tom Coughlin tabbed former partner in crime Steve Spagnuolo to run his defense in 2015 — the same guy who led the 2007 Giants past the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl. The schemes will be different (look for defensive backs to be blitzing), the players will be different and hopefully the results will be as well. This team ranked 30th in the NFL in rushing defense, 29th in total defense and gave up 25.0 points per game in 2014. With Jason Pierre-Paul’s future an unknown at this point and an influx of free agent additions and draft picks (Landon Collins, Owamagbe Odighizuwa), this unit should look (and play) totally differently this time around.

 

Philadelphia: Will Sam Bradford stay healthy?

Okay, Tim Tebow moves the headline needle and Chip Kelly is a rock star but the real reason the Eagles will win (or lose) an NFC East title is Sam Bradford. If he stays healthy, he’s got more than enough ability to lead this elite-level offense to a deep playoff run. Kelly’s system is all about getting the football out of the quarterback’s hands quickly and with the right read into space so playmakers can make things happen. This is stuff Bradford has excelled at when healthy. The running game and defense will be improved as well so as long as Bradford can stay healthy, these Eagles might be the team to beat in the division.

 

Washington: Is this Robert Griffin III’s last stand?

Jay Gruden was supposed to be an offensive wizard and his first year in Washington was marred by having to start three different quarterbacks and total dysfunction on that side of the ball. Certainly, a team that won four games has loads of questions but Gruden needs to find out if Robert Griffin III is the long-term answer at quarterback. He’s already been named the starter (which is good) but has yet to prove he can adjust and adapt his playing style for consistent success in the NFL. If he does not show improvement and stay healthy, this will be his last chance at being the Redskins' starting quarterback. Signs of growth and improvement would be a huge step in the right direction for a franchise embroiled in bizarre headlines.

 

 

Teaser:
Answering the NFC East's Biggest Questions in 2015
Post date: Tuesday, July 28, 2015 - 08:30
Path: /nfl/answering-afc-easts-biggest-questions-2015
Body:

NFL training camps are opening up all across the nation, signaling the official return of pro football.

 

Athlon Sports is going division by division, asking and (trying to) answering the biggest question for every team in the league entering the 2015 season.

 

AFC East

 

Buffalo: Can the QB distribute the ball effectively?

The Bills' coaching staff has been stabilized with the hiring of Rex Ryan. The defense should continue to be one of the league’s best. And with playmaking additions to the offense (LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin, Charles Clay and Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton), the lone remaining question about a Buffalo playoff run is who plays quarterback? Matt Cassell was brought in to compete with EJ Manuel and Tyrod Taylor for the starting job. Cassell fits the system the best and clearly has the most experience, however, Manuel still has the most upside. If the signal-caller in Buffalo can simply distribute the football quickly, decisively and without turnovers, the Bills could easily end the NFL’s longest playoff drought.

 

Miami: Are the right leaders in place?

Last year, the defense featured players questioning coordinator Kevin Coyle. The offense never reached the tempo and efficiency talked about by coordinator Bill Lazor. Calls for Joe Philbin’s scalp were ignored by a totally new front office structure. All three were kept, free agent Ndamukong Suh was added to lead the defense and Ryan Tannehill was inked to a monstrous new long-term contract. The time is now for a team that has been middling for years and key leadership positions are filled by coaches and players with major question marks. If Miami isn’t careful, the Dolphins could fall to the bottom of the AFC East.

 

New England: What does the secondary look like?

Tom Brady’s suspension has dominated headlines but the Patriots' offense will be just fine the second he steps back into the lineup (if he leaves it at all). The real question about a Super Bowl repeat is holes left on the defense. Losing veteran Vince Wilfork from the line hurts but replacing both Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner at cornerback could completely change the way this defense plays. The Pats invested heavily in safeties Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung, which helps, but look for a heavy dose of zone defense to make up for the lack of star power at cornerback.
 

New York Jets: Can the passing game create balance?

Much like Buffalo, the Jets feel more stable under a new head coach in Todd Bowles. The already salty defense should be downright nasty after a very active offseason. But can all that defensive firepower mask the one glaring question about the Jets: Can they produce offense through the air? New York has ranked 32nd, 31st and 30th in passing offense the last three years and the quarterback battle will feature Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick and fourth-round pick Bryce Petty. There is a lot to like about this team on defense and on the ground, but it won’t make a playoff run without some support from a highly questionable aerial attack. 

Teaser:
Answering the AFC East's Biggest Questions in 2015
Post date: Monday, July 27, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, NFL, News
Path: /college-football/roger-goodell-you-hate-him-nfl-loves-him
Body:

You probably hate Roger Goodell.

 

He botched BountyGate. He bungled the Ray Rice scandal. His handling of Adrian Peterson was anything but perfect. Who knows what really happened in the Greg Hardy situation?

 

And it’s taking longer to sort out over-inflated footballs than it took to work out an Iranian nuclear deal.

 

But you know who loves the NFL’s commissioner?

 

The owners. Or, as they are more affectionately known, “The 32.”

 

The NFL handed out $187.7 million per team in 2013 in league-wide national revenue sharing — which equates to about $6 billion in revenue.

 

That number jumped 21 percent to $7.3 billion in 2014. That’s $226.4 million per team doled out by the NFL to its 32 franchises.

 

Recently the Green Bay Packers reported a record $376 million in total revenue last season. Sure, a really good football team and elite-level fan support will lead to record-setting profit margins.

 

However, the overall power and strength of the NFL brand is also a huge part of that revenue spike.

 

Exponentially increasing television revenue, national sponsorships, licensing agreements, merchandise sales and an expanding international brand campaign have been wildly successful under Goodell’s watch. This is a business and the Commish has made The 32 incredibly happy by filling their pockets with gold.

 

Goodell has taken slings and arrows for handling the league’s disciplinary issues. Rightly so, he’s been inconsistent at best and negligent at worst. All the while, making over $40 million per year in salary.

 

But he’s paid that money to take the PR punches from social media and the court of public opinion so that The 32 are protected.

 

Much like the NCAA, where the individual schools hold all of the power while the NCAA takes all of the heat, the NFL allows its figurehead to take all of the flack while the real power brokers sit back and count stacks of cash.

 

Fans pay exorbitant amounts of time and money to support their favorite players and teams. We love the NFL and we love to hate Roger Goodell.

 

But that’s exactly what the owners want. As long as the commissioner continues to increase revenue, his job isn’t in any danger. And the only way revenue stops increasing is if we collectively stop watching.

 

And who wants to do that?

Teaser:
Roger Goodell: You Hate Him, NFL Loves Him
Post date: Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/college-football-top-25-non-conference-games-watch-2015
Body:

There is a lot that is still unknown about the College Football Playoff Committee.

 

One thing that was learned about the new postseason format in year number one is that the voters value strength of schedule. Teams have ramped-up non-conference scheduling almost instantly (See: No. 4 below) and the results are a healthy list of top-level games.

 

It may take a few full seasons for the new trends to take hold across the nation (like, say, in the Big 12) but that doesn't mean 2015 isn't loaded with great non-conference matchups.

 

 AwayHomeDate
1.Sept. 12

Two national title contenders finishing the back half of a home-and-home? Yes, please. The Spartans will be fired up at home and have revenge on their minds after the 46-27 loss in Eugene last fall. The winner will get a huge Playoff notch in its belt in what should be one of the best games of the year regardless of conference.

2.Oct. 17

The 87th meeting between USC and ND could carry a lot of Playoff weight if all goes according to plan for both. USC smoked the Irish in L.A. last season and is 5-1 in its last six trips to South Bend. However, that lone loss came in the Trojans' last visit two seasons ago.

3.Oct. 3
These two historic programs have only met twice. Clemson won the last meeting 16-10 in 1979 in South Bend. Two years earlier, Joe Montana led the Irish to a 21-17 victory in Death Valley in the battle of two top-15 teams. Both teams could be ranked in the top 10 when they meet Oct. 3 for the rubber match.
4.Sept. 5*
The modern Big Ten power and traditional SEC power have only met once in history, a 15-0 Badgers win at home in 1928. The fast track in Arlington, Texas, should help an already superior Alabama team. The Crimson Tide is a 10-point favorite over the Big Red. A win by Wisconsin would rock the college football world right out of the gate.
5.Sept. 12
Tennessee and Oklahoma have played three times. The Vols won in 1939 while OU took a 1968 meeting and a 34-10 outcome last season. The game last fall was closer than the 24-point margin and this year’s battle means a lot for both teams. Both have conference title aspirations and an early win over a ranked foe could catapult one into national conversations.
Related: SEC Football Teams as Rock and Roll
6.Sept. 5*

The Aggies and Sun Devils have never met before and fans on both sides should be thoroughly entertained throughout the pseudo-neutral site season opener. Two great offenses should light up the Houston skyline en route to a feather-in-the-cap non-con win.

7.Nov. 28

This should be a physical, hard-hitting affair once again. And both are Playoff sleeper teams. Stanford has won three straight in the series at home and four of the last six overall. Notre Dame needed an epic fourth quarter to beat the Cardinal 14-10 last fall in South Bend.

8.Sept. 5

Two of the top three winningest programs in college football history will do battle in the best true home game of Week 1. Notre Dame has won four straight and eight of the 10 total meetings all-time and is a touchdown favorite for the season opener. Both quarterback situations should be interesting to track.

9.Nov. 28

The Gators lead the Sunshine State rivalry 34-23-2 all-time, but the Noles have been the better team since Jimbo Fisher arrived. Florida State has won four of the last five, including his last two trips inside The Swamp.

10.Nov. 28
Paul Johnson's squad broke through with a huge 30-24 win over the Dawgs in Athens last season. It was just Johnson's second win in seven tries against the Dawgs and his first since beating Mark Richt in his first year in Atlanta in 2008. There is an outside chance both teams are poised to play in a championship game a week after the meeting. 
Related: ACC Football Teams as Rock and Roll
11.Sept. 19
The Jackets and Irish will be playing for the 35th time — 27 of which have resulted in Notre Dame wins. The last time these two met, however, Georgia Tech crushed the Golden Domers 33-3 in South Bend. There is a good chance both of these teams could reach 10 wins in 2015.
12.Sept. 7
National television on Labor Day Night to begin a national title defense sounds like fun to me. Bud Foster and one of the nastiest defenses in the nation will test whichever Buckeyes quarterback Urban Meyer decides to run out there. One coach desperately needs a national statement win and the other coach has major revenge on the mind after the Hokies' upset win last fall.
13.Sept. 5*
Bobby Petrino has won all 10 season openers but will have a tough time against the heavily favored Tigers. Louisville won the only previous meeting between the two programs, a 16-3 decision over Auburn in Birmingham back in 1974.
14.Nov. 28
The Tigers own a 66-42-4 all-time series lead but are coming off their first win in the rivalry since 2008. Clemson could be eyeing a Playoff bid in the season finale and will be looking for its first win in Williams-Brice Stadium since 2007. Dabo Swinney is 2-5 against Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks.
15.Sept. 3
There are few chances in the non-con this fall for the Big Ten to make a statement than on Thursday night to open the season in the Twin Cities. TCU will be a top-ranked team and is an 18-point favorite heading to TCF Bank Stadium. The Frogs stomped the Gophers 30-7 in Fort Worth last fall but Minnesota has won the only other meeting between the two — a 1974 victory in Minneapolis.
Related: Big 12 Football Teams as Rock and Roll Bands
16.Nov. 14*
A bizarre but interesting matchup of underrated coaches takes place at an odd time, halfway through November. The Tigers and Cougars have only played once before, a 21-17 BYU win in the 1983 Holiday Bowl. Taysom Hill vs. Maty Mauk late in the year sounds fun to me (if both can stay healthy).
17.Sept. 4
Chris Petersen returns to Boise in charge of a Pac-12 name brand that is in clear rebuilding mode. The blue turf won't be nearly as welcoming as the Broncos have eyes on another Mountain West title and New Year's Day bowl berth. The Huskies' major questions under center and on the D-line will have to be answered to leave Idaho with a win.
18.Sept. 19
Nebraska's 41-31 win in Lincoln last year broke the all-time series tie (6-5). Both teams should be good enough to make a run in their respective leagues but both head coaches need a marquee win (for different reasons). However, there is no national title on the line like in many previous Miami-Nebraska bouts.
19.Sept. 3
These two have only met three times with all three games taking place in Ann Arbor. Utah has won two of those meetings, including a 26-10 thumping of the Wolverines last season. On a Thursday night with Jim Harbaugh leading the way, this game should be much more intriguing. 
20.Sept. 26
Older fans of both sides will likely remember the first and only meeting between BYU and Michigan. The Cougars won the 1984 Holiday Bowl 24-17 en route to a national championship. The Maize and Blue will be finishing a brutal first month of the Jim Harbaugh era that features two Pac-12 foes and the Taysom Hill-led Cougars.
Related: Big Ten Football Teams as Rock and Roll Bands
21.Sept. 19
The Cougars and Bruins have played 10 times with UCLA claiming seven wins. However, BYU has won the last two meetings, including a 58-0 embarrassment in 2008. Jim Mora's defense will need to be on its toes early against an athlete like Taysom Hill.
22.Sept. 19
This could be a program-defining win for Sonny Dykes and Cal in Austin in Week 3. The Horns are at home and more talented (and can actually play defense) but quarterback Jared Goff is a superstar in the making and could set himself up for a nationally acclaimed season with a win in Texas. The Bears are 0-5 all-time against the Longhorns.
23.Sept. 3*
The Carolina Bowl has only taken place twice since 1991 with the South side winning both times (2007, 2013). The season opener features two defenses that are in desperate need of improvement if either team has any prayer of competing in their respective divisions.
24.Sept. 5
The color schemes alone will look amazing on the floor of towering Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. BYU and Nebraska get their seasons started in style in the first-ever meeting of the two national brands. Fans who are unfamiliar with Cougars dual-threat quarterback Taysom Hill will learn all about him (if healthy) and Big Red Nation will get their first look at the Mike Riley-led Huskers.
25.Nov. 7

The Panthers and Irish have played each other pretty even, with Notre Dame winning seven of the 12 meetings dating back to 1999. The last six played in Pittsburgh have been split, including a memorable 28-21 Panthers upset win in the last tangle. 

Related: Pac-12 Football Teams as Rock and Roll Bands

* - neutral field

 

Best of the Rest:

 

Maryland at West Virginia, Sept. 26

Louisville at Kentucky, Nov. 28

Ole Miss at Memphis, Oct. 17

Texas Tech at Arkansas, Sept. 19

Miami at Cincinnati, Oct. 1

Iowa at Iowa State, Sept. 12

Boston College vs. Notre Dame, Nov. 21*

Pitt at Iowa, Sept. 19

Stanford at Northwestern, Sept. 5

LSU at Syracuse, Sept. 26

Teaser:
Top 25 Non-Conference Games to watch in 2015
Post date: Monday, July 20, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/top-15-sec-non-conference-games-2015
Body:

The College Football Playoff Committee proved the general trend of tougher scheduling last fall. 

 

The SEC doesn't have nearly as much problem with scheduling, as its league schedules are the toughest in college football (along with the Pac-12). But to top it off, the SEC has more high-level non-conference games than any other league in the nation. 

 

Which is why the SEC might be the only league that could get a two-loss team into the College Football Playoff.

 

 AwayHomeDate
1.Sept. 5*

The modern Big Ten power and traditional SEC power have only met once in history, a 15-0 Badgers win at home in 1928. The fast track in Arlington, Texas, should help an already superior Alabama team. The Crimson Tide is a 10-point favorite over the Big Red. A win by Wisconsin would rock the college football world right out of the gate.

2.Sept. 12

Tennessee and Oklahoma have played three times. The Vols won in 1939 while OU took a '68 meeting and a 34-10 outcome last season. The game last fall was closer than the 24-point margin and this year’s battle means a lot for both teams. Both have conference title aspirations and an early win over a ranked foe could catapult one into national conversations.

3.Sept. 5*
The Aggies and Sun Devils have never met before and fans on both sides should be thoroughly entertained throughout the pseudo-neutral site season opener. Two great offenses should light up the Houston skyline en route to a feather-in-the-cap non-con win.
4.Nov. 28
The Gators lead the all-time series lead in the Sunshine State rivalry 34-23-2, but the Noles have been the better team since Jimbo Fisher arrived. Florida State has won four of the last five, including its last two trips inside The Swamp.
5.Nov. 28
Paul Johnson's squad broke through with a huge 30-24 win over the Dawgs in Athens last season. It was just Johnson's second win in seven tries against Georgia and his first since beating Mark Richt in his first year at Georgia Tech (2008). There is an outside chance both teams are poised to play in a championship game a week after this meeting. 
Related: SEC Football Teams as Rock and Roll
6.Sept. 5*

Bobby Petrino has won all 10 season openers but will have a tough time against the heavily favored Tigers. Louisville won the only previous meeting between the two programs, a 16-3 win in Birmingham back in 1974.

7.Nov. 28

The Tigers own a 66-42-4 all-time series lead but are coming off their first win in the rivalry since 2008. Clemson could be eyeing a Playoff bid in the season finale and will be looking for its first win in Williams-Brice Stadium since 2007. Dabo Swinney is 2-5 against Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks.

8.Nov. 14*

A bizarre but interesting matchup of underrated coaches takes place at an odd time, halfway through November. The Tigers and Cougars have only played once before, a 21-17 BYU win in the 1983 Holiday Bowl. Taysom Hill vs. Maty Mauk late in the year sounds fun to me (if both can stay healthy).

9.Sept. 3*

The Carolina Bowl has only taken place twice since 1991 with the South side winning both times (2007, '13). This season opener features two defenses that are in desperate need of improvement if either team has any prayer of competing in their respective divisions. 

10.Nov. 28
The Governor's Cup and in-state bragging rights hang in the balance for the 28th time and the 22nd straight season. Kentucky leads the all-time series 14-13 but has lost four straight to Louisville, including last season's 44-40 thriller in Papa John's Stadium.
11.Oct. 17
A regional rivalry could be a huge mid-season game for both teams. Memphis is coming off a 10-win season and played much better in Oxford last fall than the 24-3 score indicated. Ole Miss has won six straight in the series and is 48-10-2 all-time against the Tigers. Seven of Memphis' 10 wins in the series have come at home.
12.Sept. 19
Old conference foes reunited last season for the first time since 1991. Arkansas owns a commanding 29-7 all-time lead and added to it last year with an impressive 49-28 showing in Lubbock. The Hogs are better this year and at home. Good luck, Kliff.
13.Sept. 12
Florida beat East Carolina 28-20 in the Birmingham Bowl last season, adding intrigue and familiarity to an interesting early-season test for Jim McElwain. The new Gators coach has an elite defense but major questions on offense and ECU is a good enough program to scare a team as imperfect as Florida. The Gators won the only other meeting in 1983.
14.Sept. 26
Twenty years ago, the Orange would have been a huge favorite in this game. With LSU boasting as good a roster as anyone in the nation and Syracuse reeling under Scott Shafer, it's the Tigers who are the huge favorite. That said, it's a road game a long way from home against a Power 5 team. The all-time series is tied 1-1 and hasn't taken place since 1989 and never in the Carrier Dome.
15.Oct. 17

There are plenty of interesting Group of 5 games within the SEC but Mississippi State's might be the most intriguing. This is a team that needs impressive wins and a mid-October bout with a well-coached program picked to win its league could be testy.

* - neutral field

 

Best of the Rest:

 

Toledo vs. Arkansas, Sept. 12*

UL Lafayette at Kentucky, Sept. 5

Missouri at Arkansas State, Sept. 12

Western Kentucky at Vanderbilt, Sept. 5

Georgia Southern at Georgia, Nov. 21

Vanderbilt at Middle Tennessee, Oct. 3

Teaser:
Top 15 SEC Non-Conference Games of 2015
Post date: Friday, July 17, 2015 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/top-10-big-12-non-conference-games-2015
Body:

The College Football Playoff Committee proved the general trend of tougher scheduling last fall. 

 

The Big 12 may have two major playoff contenders but scheduling could once again be a problem for this league. Whether the Big 12 wants to admit it or not, Baylor's non-conference schedule was a huge factor in why the league was left out of the postseason tournament.

 

Unfortunately, there aren't many chances for marquee wins in the non-conference in 2015 for the Big 12. Sure, there are some juicy matchups but the most important non-conference game for either Baylor or TCU features an 18-point spread.

 

 AwayHomeDate
1.Sept. 5

Two of the top three winningest programs in college football history will do battle in the best true home game of Week 1. Notre Dame has won four straight and eight of the 10 total meetings all-time and is a touchdown favorite for the season opener. Both quarterback situations should be interesting to track.

2.Sept. 12

Tennessee and Oklahoma have played three times. The Vols won in 1939 while OU took a 1968 meeting and a 34-10 outcome last season. The game last fall was closer than the 24-point margin and this year’s battle means a lot for both teams. Both have conference title aspirations and an early win over a ranked foe could catapult one into the national conversations.

3.Sept. 3*
There are few chances in the non-con this fall for the Big Ten to make a statement than on Thursday night to open the season in the Twin Cities. TCU will be a top-ranked team and is an 18-point favorite heading to TCF Bank Stadium. The Frogs stomped the Gophers 30-7 in Fort Worth last fall but Minnesota has won the only other meeting between the two — a 1974 win in Minneapolis.
4.Sept. 19
This could be a program-defining win for Sonny Dykes and Cal in Austin in Week 3. Or a terrifying second loss in three games to start the year for Texas. The Horns are at home and more talented (and can actually play defense), but quarterback Jared Goff is a superstar in the making and could set himself up for a nationally acclaimed season with a win in Texas. The Bears are 0-5 all-time against the Longhorns. This is a must-win for Charlie Strong.
5.Sept. 26
This is sort of an underrated rivalry that has seen 51 different editions. West Virginia has won 27 total and eight of the last nine meetings, including an epic 40-37 victory in College Park last fall. These are two very interesting coaches who know each other very well.
6.Sept. 19

The old conference foes reunited last season for the first time since 1991. Arkansas owns a commanding 29-7 all-time lead and added to it last year with an impressive 49-28 showing in Lubbock. The Hogs are better this year and at home. Good luck, Kliff.

7.Sept. 12

The heated in-state rivalry has been a lone bright spot for Cyclones head coach Paul Rhoads. He’s 3-3 against the Hawkeyes in six years as the head coach in Ames but has won three out of the last four against Kirk Ferentz' team. This has been high-scoring (44-41) and really ugly (9-6) but has routinely been extremely close.

8.Sept. 19

The Bulldogs and Wildcats have met three times before and this is where the drop off in non-conference games takes place. Louisiana Tech is picked to win the West Division in C-USA and offers up the toughest test for KSU outside of the league. Kansas State has won the last two meetings by a combined score of 94-17.

9.Sept. 19

The Battle for the Iron Skillet in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex will be played for the 95th time this fall. TCU leads the series 47-40-7 all-time and has won 13 of the last 15 meetings. The Frogs will be a massive favorite but it’s a rivalry, so it makes the list.

10.Sept. 5

This is where the Big 12 non-con scheduling is at these days. A quality, option-oriented Sun Belt team against a pass-happy, middle-of-the-pack Big 12 team is a top-10 game. The Eagles-Mountaineers matchup is intriguing for football nerds.

 

Best of the Rest:

 

Iowa State at Toledo, Sept. 19

Memphis at Kansas, Sept. 12

Kansas at Rutgers, Sept. 26

Akron at Oklahoma, Sept. 5

Baylor at SMU, Sept 4

Rice at Texas, Sept. 12

Kansas State at UTSA, Sept. 12

Rice at Baylor, Sept. 26

Northern Iowa at Iowa State, Sept. 5

Teaser:
Top 10 Big 12 Non-Conference Games of 2015
Post date: Thursday, July 16, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/top-10-big-ten-non-conference-games-2015
Body:

The College Football Playoff Committee proved the general trend of tougher scheduling last fall. 

 

The Big Ten may not get one team in the Playoff — it could actually end up with two in college football's version of the Final Four. A big reason why that's even possible is Michigan State's non-conference showdown with Oregon.

 

In fact, with five of the best teams in the league facing quality opponents in Week 1, the Big Ten could be a big story just one weekend into the season.

 

There are more than a dozen great non-conference games in the Big Ten in 2015.

 

 AwayHomeDate
1.Sept. 12

Two national title contenders finishing the back half of a home-and-home? Yes, please. The Spartans will be fired up at home and have revenge on their minds after the 46-27 loss in Eugene last fall. The winner will get a huge Playoff notch in its belt in what should be one of the best games of the year regardless of conference.

2.Sept. 5*
The modern Big Ten power and traditional SEC power have only met once in history, a 15-0 Badgers win at home in 1928. The fast track in Arlington, Texas, should help an already superior Alabama team. The Crimson Tide is a 10-point favorite over the Big Red. A win by Wisconsin would rock the college football world right out of the gate.
3.Sept. 7
With revenge on the mind, fans on both sides can bet that Ohio State will be fired up. But Tech boasts one of the best defenses in the nation and they will be at home at night in one of the loudest buildings in college football. Additionally, everyone will probably have to wait until Labor Day night to find out who is starting at QB for Ohio State.
4.Sept. 19
Nebraska's 41-31 win in Lincoln last year broke the all-time series tie (6-5). Both teams should be good enough to make a run in their respective leagues but both head coaches still need a marquee win (for different reasons). Mike Riley needs a statement win in his first month on the job while Al Golden needs to show progress in a big way this fall. However, there is no national title on the line like in many previous Miami-Nebraska bouts.
5.Sept. 3
These two have only met three times with all three games taking place in Ann Arbor. Utah has won two of those meetings, including a 26-10 thumping of the Wolverines last season. On a Thursday night with Jim Harbaugh leading the way, this game should be much more intriguing and could be one of the best matchups of the first weekend.
Related: Big Ten Football Teams as Rock and Roll Bands
6.Sept. 26
Older fans of both sides will likely remember the first and only meeting between BYU and Michigan. The Cougars won the 1984 Holiday Bowl 24-17 en route to a national championship. The Maize and Blue will be finishing a brutal first month of the Jim Harbaugh era that features two Pac-12 foes and the Taysom Hill-led Cougars.
7.Sept. 3
There are few chances in the non-con this fall for the Big Ten to make a statement, which adds to the intrigue of this season-opening Thursday night tilt in the Twin Cities. TCU will be a top-ranked team and is an 18-point favorite heading to TCF Bank Stadium. The Frogs stomped the Gophers 30-7 in Fort Worth last fall but Minnesota is 1-0 against TCU in its home state — thanks to a win in 1974 in Minneapolis.
8.Sept. 5
The color schemes alone will look amazing on the floor of towering Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. BYU and Nebraska get their seasons started in style in the first-ever meeting of the two national brands. Fans who are unfamiliar with Cougars dual-threat quarterback Taysom Hill will learn all about him (if healthy) and Big Red Nation will get their first look at the Mike Riley-led Huskers.
9.Sept. 26
This is sort of an underrated rivalry that has seen 51 different editions. West Virginia has won 27 total and eight of the last nine meetings, including an epic 40-37 victory in College Park last fall. These are two very interesting coaches who know each other very well.
10.Sept. 19
The Panthers and Hawkeyes have played six total times in history and the series is tied 3-3. This includes a 24-20 Iowa win in Pittsburgh last year, spurred by backup quarterback C.J. Beathard's effective passing (7-of-8). He is now the starter and will have to face both rival Iowa State and Pitt in his first three starts of the season.

* - neutral site

 

Best of the Rest:

 

Iowa at Iowa State, Sept. 12

Stanford at Northwestern, Sept. 5

Northwestern at Duke, Sept. 19

Oregon State at Michigan, Sept. 12

Illinois at North Carolina, Sept. 19

Minnesota at Colorado State, Sept. 12

Washington State at Rutgers, Sept. 12

USF at Maryland, Sept. 19

Purdue at Virginia Tech, Sept. 19

Western Kentucky at Indiana, Sept. 5

Kansas at Rutgers, Sept. 26

Teaser:
Top 10 Big Ten Non-Conference Games of 2015
Post date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/top-10-pac-12-non-conference-games-2015
Body:

The College Football Playoff Committee proved the general trend of tougher scheduling last fall. 

 

The Pac-12 may not get a team in the Playoff because this league might be too good and too deep to provide a one-loss champion. To top it off, the Committee can't blame the Pac-12 for taking it easy in the non-conference either.

 

Here are top 10 non-conference games in the Pac-12 in 2015.

 

 AwayHomeDate
1.Sept. 12
Two national title contenders finishing the back half of a home-and-home? Yes, please. The Spartans will be fired up at home and have revenge on their minds after the 46-27 loss in Eugene last fall. The winner will get a huge Playoff notch in its belt in what should be one of the best games of the year regardless of conference.
2.Oct. 17
The 87th meeting between USC and ND could carry a lot of Playoff weight if all goes according to plan for both. USC smoked the Irish in L.A. last season and is 5-1 in its last six trips to South Bend. However, that lone loss came in the Trojans' last visit two seasons ago.
3.Sept. 5*
The Aggies and Sun Devils have never met before and fans on both sides should be thoroughly entertained throughout the pseudo-neutral site season opener. Two great offenses should light up the Houston skyline en route to a feather-in-the-cap non-con win.
4.Nov. 28
This should be a physical, hard-hitting affair once again. And both are Playoff sleeper teams. Stanford has won three straight in the series at home and four of the last six overall. Notre Dame needed an epic fourth quarter to beat the Cardinal 14-10 last fall in South Bend.
5.Sept. 4
Chris Petersen returns to Boise in charge of a Pac-12 name brand that is in clear rebuilding mode. The blue turf won't be nearly as welcoming as the Broncos have eyes on another Mountain West title and New Year's Day bowl berth. The Huskies' major questions under center and on the D-line will have to be answered to leave Idaho with a win.
Related: Pac-12 Football Teams as Rock and Roll Bands
6.Sept. 3
These two have only met three times with all three games taking place in Ann Arbor. Utah has won two of those meetings, including a 26-10 thumping of the Wolverines last season. On a Thursday night with Jim Harbaugh leading the way, this game should be much more intriguing. 
7.Sept. 19
The Cougars and Bruins have played 10 times with UCLA claiming seven wins. However, BYU has won the last two meetings, including a 58-0 embarrassment in 2008. Jim Mora's defense will need to be on its toes early against an athlete like Taysom Hill.
8.Sept. 19
This could be a program-defining win for Sonny Dykes and Cal in Austin in Week 3. The Horns are at home and more talented (and can actually play defense) but quarterback Jared Goff is a superstar in the making and could set himself up for a nationally acclaimed season with a win in Texas. The Bears are 0-5 all-time against the Longhorns.
9.Sept. 5
Throw the SAT scores out the window in the season opener for both. The Cardinal will have to kick off the season at 9 a.m. PT in Evanston against a Wildcats team that is looking to get back into the postseason. Stanford holds a 3-1-2 series lead but hasn't faced NW since 1994.
10.Sept. 12
These in-state rivals have played 111 times with Utah holding a substantial 78-29-4 lead in the series. Only once since 1997 has Utah State pulled the upset but that was with Chuckie Keeton running the offense in 2012. Keeton posted 302 total yards in that win and has returned for his final season in Logan after missing 11 games last fall.

* - neutral site

 

Best of the Rest:

 

UCF at Stanford, Sept. 12

UCLA at Virginia, Sept. 5

Utah State at Washington, Sept. 19

Oregon State at Michigan, Sept. 12

Colorado vs. Colorado State, Sept. 19*

Washington State at Rutgers, Sept. 12

Utah at Fresno State, Sept. 19

Arizona at Nevada, Sept. 12

Eastern Washington at Oregon, Sept. 5

Teaser:
Top 10 Pac-12 Non-Conference Games of 2015
Post date: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/top-10-acc-non-conference-games-2015
Body:

The College Football Playoff Committee proved the general trend of tougher scheduling last fall. 

 

The ACC may not get a team in the playoff and may not be one of the better Power 5 conferences. However, no one can blame the ACC for taking it easy in the non-conference. 

 

There are nearly two dozen great non-conference games in the ACC in 2015.

 

 AwayHomeDate
1.Oct. 3
These two historic programs have only met twice. Clemson won the last meeting 16-10 in 1979 in South Bend. Two years earlier, Joe Montana led the Irish to a 21-17 victory in Death Valley in the battle of two top 15 teams. Both teams could be ranked in the top 10 when they meet Oct. 3 for the rubber match.
2.Nov. 28
The Gators lead the all-time series lead in the Sunshine State rivalry 34-23-2, but the Noles have been the better team since Jimbo Fisher arrived. Florida State has won four of the last five, including his last two trips inside The Swamp.
3.Sept. 19
The Jackets and Irish will be playing for the 35th time — 27 of which resulted in Notre Dame wins. The last time they met, however, Georgia Tech crushed the Golden Domers 33-3 in South Bend. There is a good chance both of these teams could reach 10 wins in 2015.
4.Sept. 7
National television on Labor Day Night to begin a national title defense sounds like fun to me. Bud Foster and one of the nastiest defenses in the nation will test whichever Buckeyes quarterback Urban Meyer decides to run out there. One coach desperately needs a national statement win and the other coach has major revenge on the mind after the Hokies upset win last fall.
5.Nov. 28
Paul Johnson's squad broke through with a huge 30-24 win over the Dawgs in Athens last season. It was just Johnson's second win in seven tries against the Dawgs and his first since beating Mark Richt in his first year in Atlanta in 2008. There is an outside chance both teams are poised to play in a championship game a week after the meeting. 
Related: ACC Teams as Rock and Roll Bands
6.Sept. 5*
Bobby Petrino has won all 10 season openers but will have a tough time against the heavily-favored Tigers. Louisville won the only previous meeting between the two programs with a 16-3 win over Auburn in Birmingham back in 1974.
7.Nov. 28
The Tigers own a 66-42-4 all-time series lead but are coming off their first win in the rivalry since 2008. Clemson could be eyeing a playoff bid in the season finale and will be looking for their first win in Williams-Brice Stadium since 2007. Dabo Swinney is 2-5 against Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks.
8.Sept. 19
Nebraska's 41-31 win in Lincoln last year broke the all-time series tie (6-5). Both teams should be good enough to make a run in their respective leagues but both head coaches need a marquee win (for different reasons). However, there is no national title on the line like in many previous Miami-Nebraska bouts.
9.Sept. 3*
The Carolina Bowl has only taken place twice since 1991 with the South side winning both times (2007, 2013). The season opener features two defenses that are in desperate need of improvement if either team has any prayer of competing in their respective divisions. 
10.Nov. 7
The Panthers and Irish have played a pretty even series almost every year since 1999 with Notre Dame winning seven of the 12 meetings during that span. The last six meetings in Pittsburgh are split 3-3, including a memorable 28-21 Panthers upset win in the last tangle, 

* - neutral site

 

Best of the Rest:

 

Louisville at Kentucky, Nov. 28

Miami at Cincinnati, Oct. 1

LSU at Syracuse, Sept. 26

Boston College vs. Notre Dame, Nov. 21*

Pitt at Iowa, Sept. 19

Notre Dame at Virginia, Sept. 12

Virginia Tech at East Carolina, Sept. 26

Northwestern at Duke, Sept. 19

Virginia at UCLA, Sept. 5

Boise State at Virginia, Sept. 25

Indiana at Wake Forest, Sept. 26

Wake Forest at Notre Dame, Nov. 14

Illinois at North Carolina, Sept. 19

Teaser:
Top 10 ACC Non-Conference Games of 2015
Post date: Monday, July 13, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-25-most-crowded-stadiums
Body:

Attendance is a function of many things.

 

Renovations, scheduling, prices, realignment and weather can impact attendance numbers. Even how a school reports its given numbers can vary from program to program (unfortunately).

 

Most notably, however, is the quality of the team. The easiest solution to "fixing" dropping attendance numbers is to win more games.

 

In 2014, Texas A&M (+21 percent), Maryland (+14), LSU (+11), Mississippi State (+10), Rutgers (+9), UCLA (+9) and Florida State (+9) led the Power 5 teams in attendance growth for different reasons.

 

The SEC schools saw boosts from renovations while the two Big Ten teams each saw a spike from joining a new league. The Bruins' attendance grew simply because the team was expected to be and was really good.

 

Ranking the Stadiums: ACC | Big Ten | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC

 

So Athlon Sports looked back at all 65 Power 5 teams and ranked them by average capacity based on the reported numbers. How packed was your favorite team’s stadium?

 

 VenueTeam% FullAtt.Rk
1Autzen Stadium106.354,42231st
2Bill Snyder Family Stadium106.253,08138th
3Memorial Stadium104.991,24910th
4McLane Stadium103.846,71049th
5Memorial Stadium103.785,16213th
6Kyle Field102.5105,1232nd
7Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium101.661,54726th
8Williams-Brice Stadium101.481,38116th
9Rice-Eccles Stadiums101.346,43750th
10Ohio Stadium101.2106,2961st
11Memorial Stadium100.381,75215th
12Sanford Stadium100.092,7469th
13Jordan-Hare Stadium100.087,45111th
14Notre Dame Stadium100.080,79516th
15Doak Campbell Stadium99.982,21114th
16Bryant-Denny Stadium99.7101,5346th
17Davis Wade Stadium99.661,12728th
18Spartan Stadium99.574,68120th
19Tiger Stadium99.4101,7234th
20Amon Carter Stadium99.344,71952nd
21Camp Randall Stadium99.079,52018th
22Neyland Stadium97.499,7547th
23Ben Hill Griffin Stadium96.985,83412th
24Jones AT&T Stadium96.858,93429th
25High Point Solutions Stadium96.550,63243rd
26Papa John's Stadium96.352,97239th
27Kinnick Stadium95.667,51222nd
28Michigan Stadium95.5104,9093rd
29Beaver Stadium95.4101,6235th
30Jack Trice Stadium95.352,19741st
31Stanford Stadium94.947,86246th
32Milan Puskar Stadium94.556,68634th
33Carter-Finley Stadium94.454,39836th
34Darrell K. Royal Stadium93.994,1038th
35Martin Stadium93.530,79472nd
36Lane Stadium93.261,15727th
37Razorback Stadium92.466,52123rd
38Reser Stadium92.342,17653rd
39Husky Stadium91.964,50825th
40Faurot Field91.765,28524th
41TFC Bank Stadium91.147,86545th
42Byrd Stadium90.746,98148th
43Arizona Stadium90.550,71042nd
44Boone Pickens Stadium90.354,38737th
45Bobby Dodd Stadium88.248,51944th
46Sun Devil Stadium86.857,17932nd
47Kenan Memorial Stadium86.754,66735th
48BB&T Field86.427,21083rd
49Commonwealth Stadium85.257,57230th
50Vanderbilt Stadium84.534,25866th
51Rose Bowl82.876,65019th
52Carrier Dome82.140,44757th
53Ryan Field81.938,61359th
54Wallace Wade Stadium80.427,29182nd
55Sun Life Stadium80.352,51840th
56Memorial Stadium78.741,65754th
57L.A. Coliseum78.373,27221st
58Alumni Stadium77.034,27064th
59Memorial Stadium76.347,67547th
60Folsom Field70.537,77861st
61Memorial Stadium68.541,54955th
62Memorial Stadium68.134,07767th
63Scott Stadium63.939,32058th
64Heinz Field63.141,31556th
65Ross-Ade Stadium61.635,26962nd
Teaser:
College Football's Top 25 Most Crowded Stadiums
Post date: Monday, July 13, 2015 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-ten-stadiums-2015
Body:

Last summer, Athlon Sports asked 12 Big Ten experts Gerry DiNardo, Eddie George, Tom Dienhart, David Jones and more to rank their favorite stadiums in the Big Ten.

 

Based on general atmosphere, fan support, home-field advantage, amenities, tailgating, surrounding campus and even scoreboards, here is how the voting shook out.

 

However, attendance is an increasing concern for all athletic directors and tweaks are made to college football stadiums every year. Using our expert rankings, here is a statistical breakdown and update of Big Ten stadiums and how they stack up against each other entering the 2015 season.


 

1. Ohio Stadium, Ohio State

There is little doubt that the Horseshoe is the Big Ten’s best place to watch a game. The Buckeyes led the nation at 106,296 fans per game in 2014 and finished second in the Big Ten at 101.3 percent capacity. This while being the third-largest building in the conference behind Michigan and Penn State. Urban Meyer is 21-1 in three years at home with that one loss coming to Virginia Tech last fall.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
1922104,944 (3rd)106,296 (1st)101.3% (2nd)

108,362 ('14)


2. Memorial Stadium, Nebraska

This venue has been sold out since 1962. Seriously, 1962! The amazing streak allowed Nebraska to lead the Big Ten in capacity at 104.9 percent full every game. The Big Red finished 10th in the nation in attendance last fall with the fourth-biggest venue in the conference.
 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192387,000 (4th)91,249 (10th)104.9% (1st)91,471 ('13)

 

3. Camp Randall Stadium, Wisconsin

With the fifth-biggest building in the Big Ten, Wisconsin finished 18th nationally in attendance. Virtually every seat was filled a year ago with the fourth-largest average capacity at 99.0 percent. Only Ohio State, Nebraska and Michigan State could claim a more packed house than UW. 
 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
191780,321 (5th)79,520 (18th)99.0% (4th)83,184 ('05)

 

 

4. Beaver Stadium, Penn State

Normally, 5,000 empty seats would be a big problem but not at Penn State. Despite those empty seats, Penn State still finished fifth in the nation in attendance at 101,623, which actually represented a five percent increase over 2013. So while the 95.4 percent average capacity (8th in the Big Ten) doesn't look great when comparing it to the rest of the conference, the numbers are trending in the right direction for one of the best buildings in the country.
 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
1960106,572 (2nd)101,623 (5th)95.4% (8th)110,753 ('02)

 

5. Michigan Stadium, Michigan

Much like Penn State, the Wolverines had 5,000 empty seats at every game but still managed to draw over 100,000 fans per home date. The Maize and Blue finished third in the nation in attendance at nearly 105,000 per game. However, with Jim Harbaugh now in town, expect the six percent attendance drop from 2013-14 to be totally reversed this fall. Season tickets and suite sales are soaring for the Big Blue right now.
 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
1927109,901 (1st)104,909 (3rd)95.5% (7th)115,109 ('13)



 

6. Kinnick Stadium, Iowa

How many stadiums seat more than 70,000 people and are just the seventh-biggest building in its own conference? But that is what Iowa is dealing with in the Big Ten. The 67,512 average attendance was 22nd in the nation and up one percent from 2013. Kirk Ferentz is 10-11 at home over the last three years and has lost at least three times in Kinnick in three straight seasons.
 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192970,585 (7th)67,512 (22nd)95.6% (6th)70,585

 

7. Spartans Stadium, Michigan State

Michigan State finished in the top 20 nationally in attendance and was third in the Big Ten at 99.6 percent capacity. The Spartans also saw a three percent growth in sales from 2013l. Mark Dantonio and company are 13-1 at home over the last two seasons.
 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192575,005 (6th)74,681 (20th)99.6% (3rd)80,401 ('90)

 

8. TCF Bank Stadium, Minnesota

The newest building in the Big Ten also serves beer — making it a must-see stop. Until it expands, however, it will still be one of the smallest in the league (11th). Minnesota ranked 45th nationally in attendance last fall and ninth in the Big Ten in average capacity. Jerry Kill is starting to make it work for his team, however, going 11-3 at home over the last two seasons.
 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
200952,525 (11th)47,865 (45th)91.1% (9th)50,805

 

 

9. Memorial Stadium, Illinois

The Illini's home stadium keeps getting nicer but continues to shrink in size. At one time holding nearly 80,000 fans, Memorial Stadium averaged just 41,549 last fall (55th) and is now the eighth-biggest venue in the Big Ten. The five percent dip in attendance last season ranked Illinois ahead of only Purdue in terms of average capacity (68.5 percent). Tim Beckman is 10-13 at home in three years at Illinois (but did post his best season at 5-2 last year).
 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192360,670 (8th)41,549 (55th)68.5% (13th)78,297 ('84)

 

10. Byrd Stadium, Maryland

Surprisingly, Maryland's Byrd Stadium is only bigger than Northwestern's Ryan Field when it comes to capacity in the Big Ten. However, the move to the Big Ten created a 14 percent jump in attendance from 2013, a number only bested by Texas A&M (21 percent) nationally. The Terps finished 48th in total attendance and renovations could be coming soon.
 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
195051,108 (13th)46,981 (48th)90.7% (10th)58,973 ('75)

 

 

11. Ryan Field, Northwestern

The smallest building in the Big Ten finished just 59th in the nation in attendance last fall. Unfortunately, the Wildcats also had one of the worst average capacities as well, filling up just 81.9 percent of their venue on average — better than only Purdue, Illinois and Indiana. Northwestern has won just two of its last 11 home games.
 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192647,130 (14th)38,613 (59th)81.9% (11th)55,752 ('62)

 

12. High Point Solutions Stadium, Rutgers

Rutgers finished 43rd nationally in attendance last fall with the third-smallest building in the Big Ten. However, it was second in the Big Ten with a nine percent jump in attendance and was fifth in the Big Ten at 96.5 percent capacity.
 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
199452,454 (12th)50,632 (43rd)96.5 (5th)53,737 ('09)

 

 

13. Memorial Stadium, Indiana

It's tough to draw fans to Indiana football games, plain and simple. That said, nearly 42,000 fans on average saw the Hoosiers play in person last season. That number only ranks 54th nationally but is only a few thousand behind major winners like TCU (44,719) and Baylor (46,710). Maybe there is hope as Kevin Wilson continues to improve this team.
 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
196052,929 (10th)41,657 (54th)78.7% (12th)56,223 ('69)

 

14. Ross Ade Stadium, Purdue

There doesn't seem to be much hope at all in West Lafayette. The Boilermakers have the ninth-biggest stadium in the Big Ten but finished last in attendance and just 62nd nationally. Only Duke, Wake Forest, Washington State, Kansas, Vanderbilt and Boston College drew worse crowds last fall among Power 5 teams and the 61.6 percent average capacity was the lowest in the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC combined.
 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192457,236 (9th)35,269 (62nd)61.6% (14th)71,629 ('80)

 

Teaser:
Ranking the Big Ten Stadiums for 2015
Post date: Friday, July 10, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-fans-dream-road-trip-2015
Body:

You can go to one college football game each weekend. You can't go to the same place twice and the travel budget is endless.

 

Where are you going? That's 14 straight weekends on 14 different campuses, so ask the spouse for forgiveness, not permission.

 

The possibilities are almost endless. And it would make for a dream come true for most college football fans.

 

So I dove into the 2015 schedule and plotted out my dream vacation travel itinerary. Here is where I would go this fall:

 

Week 1: Ohio State at Virginia Tech

One of the greatest football settings in the entire nation will host a Labor Day celebration. Ohio State begins its national title defense to the sound of "Enter Sandman" in Blacksburg, Va. The Buckeyes will have revenge on their mind in Week 1, but a very stout and prideful Virginia Tech defense awaits them for this national TV showcase in Lane Stadium at night. (For the record, I'd lay the 16 points).

 

Back-up plan: Texas at Notre Dame

 

Week 2: Oregon at Michigan State

Mark Dantonio and Connor Cook can not only exact revenge on Oregon in Spartan Stadium but can give themselves a serious Playoff feather in their cap in just Week 2. A win over the Ducks puts the Spartans in a position to snag a Playoff spot with what amounts to essentially a tie-breaker over a potential Pac-12 title team.

 

Back-up plan: Oklahoma at Tennessee

 

Week 3: Ole Miss at Alabama

Speaking of revenge, Ole Miss makes a short drive east to Tuscaloosa to play preseason SEC favorite Alabama. A win for Hugh Freeze would immediately upset the SEC West pecking order just three weeks into the season. However, the Tide have won 12 straight over the Rebels at home, dating back to 1988.

 

Back-up plan: Auburn at LSU

 

Week 4: Tennessee at Florida

With a late-season trip to Tempe pending, I’ll settle for my second choice. Florida has won 10 straight over Tennessee and a loss for the Vols would all but take them out of SEC East contention. A win for Florida gives Jim McElwain instant credibility. This once great rivalry could be making a comeback very soon.

 

Back-up plan: USC at Arizona State

 

Week 5: Alabama at Georgia

For the third straight week, I will tailgate in the SEC. The first two were just appetizers for this one. These two haven’t met in Athens since 2008 when Bama rolled 41-30. This is a massive, likely top-10 matchup and SEC title game preview all rolled into one that is must-see TV.

 

Back-up plan: Notre Dame at Clemson

 

Week 6: Oklahoma vs. Texas

With much respect to Florida and Georgia, there is no better neutral-site game in college football than The Red River Riv… Shootout. It’s one of the top rivalries in the nation, is always a close game and the Texas State Fair is a sight to behold for fans of all ages.

 

Back-up plan: Wisconsin at Nebraska

 

Week 7: USC at Notre Dame

Let’s head north to the hallowed ground of Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish and Trojans renew an 87-year-old battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh. USC has won five of the last six in South Bend but Brian Kelly’s bunch won the last meeting at home in 2013. This game could be a Playoff elimination game.

 

Back-up plan: Penn State at Ohio State

 

Podcast: Preseason College Football Playoff Preview



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Week 8: Auburn at Arkansas

Gus Malzahn and Bret Bielema can down play it all they want but these two programs don’t like each other. And Arkansas could be the top challenger to the state of Alabama. Auburn has a brutal schedule but this could be the Tigers' toughest road test of the year. One team will try to run a billion plays while the other will attempt the opposite.

 

Back-up plan: Florida State at Georgia Tech

 

Week 9: Oregon at Arizona State

A Pac-12 title game preview takes place in the desert when the Ducks fly south to take on Arizona State. The Sun Devils will be a sneaky good defensive team and Vernon Adams will be settled in as Oregon's starting quarterback by this point. Look for a late-night Thursday shootout.

 

Back-up plan: Ole Miss at Auburn

 

Week 10: Florida State at Clemson

Nov. 7 will be a huge day in the SEC West, as LSU takes on Alabama, Arkansas visits Ole Miss and Auburn heads to College Station. But I’m passing on all three to head to Death Valley, S.C. The Atlantic Division, ACC Championship and College Football Playoff spot could hang in the balance when the Noles and Tigers battle.

 

Back-up plan: LSU at Alabama

 

Week 11: Oregon at Stanford

The Pac-12 North will likely hang in the balance when Oregon visits Stanford in what has become one of the West Coast’s top rivalries. Offense vs. defense. Flash vs. toughness. Old school vs. new. The winner of this game has gone on to win the Pac-12 title five years in a row.


Back-up plan: Georgia at Auburn

 

Week 12: Michigan State at Ohio State

My decision on where to go in Week 12 likely hinges on what happens in Week 2. Should Michigan State beat Oregon, then both the Spartans and Buckeyes likely enter this game unbeaten and eyeing a Playoff spot. If Oregon wins, then I’m likely heading to Eugene to watch USC visit Autzen Stadium.

 

Back-up plan: USC at Oregon

 

Week 13: Alabama at Auburn

I wish there was three of me. Ohio State visits Michigan and Baylor visits TCU on the same day. But there is only one place I’d rather be than Fort Worth or Ann Arbor in Week 13 and that’s the Plains of Alabama for the Iron Bowl. Division, conference and national championships could be on the line in the 80th meeting between the two in-state rivals.

 

Back-up plan: Baylor at TCU

 

Week 14: Pac-12 title game

The Big Ten title game is going to be one-sided. The ACC champion could already have two losses. The SEC Championship Game has been lopsided two straight years and will likely once again see a heavy West Division favorite. The Pac-12 title game is the likeliest to have two one-loss teams vying for a trip to the College Football Playoff.

 

Back-up plan: SEC Championship Game

 

We want your feedback and it’s a fun exercise. Try it out on your own and let us know what your schedule would look like @BradenGall or @AthlonSports.

Teaser:
A College Football Fan's Dream Road Trip for 2015
Post date: Thursday, July 9, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-12-stadiums-2015
Body:

Last summer, Athlon Sports asked 10 Big 12 experts Chip Brown, Blair Kerkhoff, Bill Connelly, Allen Kenney and more to rank their favorite stadiums in the Big 12.

 

Based on general atmosphere, fan support, home-field advantage, amenities, tailgating, surrounding campus and even scoreboards, here is how the voting shook out.

 

However, attendance is an increasing concern for all athletic directors and tweaks are made to college football stadiums every year. Using our expert rankings, here is a statistical breakdown and update of Big 12 stadiums and how they stack up against each other entering the 2015 season.

 

 
1. Memorial Stadium, Oklahoma

The top spot in the Big 12 to catch a game is regularly over capacity. Despite the worst home record of Bob Stoops' tenure (3-3), the Sooners still posted an impressive 103.7 percent capacity average while finishing 13th nationally and second in the league in attendance. Oklahoma is 373-84-15 all-time at Memorial Stadium and Stoops is still an impressive 90-8.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192582,112 (2nd)85,162 (13th)103.7% (3rd)86,031 ('12)

 

2. Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium, Texas

Plans to expand into the 115,000-125,000 range have been put on hold but Texas still boasts the biggest (100,119) stadium in the Big 12 and still leads the league in attendance (94,103). And the gaps between the Longhorns and Oklahoma in both of these categories are pretty wide. That said, Texas' building was only 93.3 percent full — ranking seventh in the league — and was one of only four schools in the Big 12 to see a drop from 2013 (down five percent).

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
1924100,119 (1st)94,103 (8th)93.9% (7th)101,851 ('12)

 

 

3. Boone Pickens Stadium, Oklahoma State

The drop off in size after the top two buildings is noticeable. The Cowboys ranked 37th in attendance nationally and ninth in the Big 12 in average capacity (90.3 percent). Additionally, only Kansas' 10 percent drop in attendance was worse than the Pokes' eight percent decline from '13. It's still a brutal place to play for teams, however, as Mike Gundy is 21-4 at home over the last four years.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192060,218 (4th)54,387 (37th)90.3% (9th)60,218 ('13)

 

4. Jones AT&T Stadium, Texas Tech

Texas Tech boasts the third-largest building in the Big 12 and was third in attendance last year, ranking 29th nationally. The Red Raiders actually saw a growth of two percent over 2013 and were fifth in the league in average capacity (96.8 percent). Kliff Kingsbury is 6-6 at home in two years.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
194760,862 (3rd)58,934 (29th)96.8% (5th)61,836 ('13)

 

5. Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Kansas State

It’s small on three sides and has some quirky lines, but Bill Snyder Family Stadium will rock when the Wildcats are rolling. At 106.2 percent capacity every Saturday, this building was the most packed of any stadium in the Big 12 last fall despite a one percent drop in overall attendance. Kansas State was 38th in attendance in 2014, even though it ranks ahead of only TCU and Baylor as the third-smallest venue in the  league. 

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
196850,000 (8th)53,081 (38th)106.2% (1st)53,811 ('00)

 

 

6. Milan Puskar Stadium, West Virginia

It's a heckuva party in Morgantown on Saturdays and 2014 proved that. West Virginia led the Big 12 last season with a seven percent hike in attendance compared to 2013. Milan Puskar finished 34th nationally in attendance despite finishing just seventh in the league at 94.5 percent full. Dana Holgorsen is just 15-11 at home in four years but has a win over a top-11 foe in each of the last two seasons.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
198060,000 (5th)56,686 (34th)94.5% (7th)70,222 ('93)

 

7. McLane Stadium, Baylor

McLane Stadium is Baylor's state-of-the-art building that ushered in a new era of Bears football with a Big 12 title last season. Baylor saw attendance go up by two percent and was one of three schools in the Big 12 to average over capacity (103.8 percent). The smallest building in the league finished just 49th nationally in attendance at 46,710 per game. For the time being, the Bears have never lost in McLane (6-0) and keep an eye on future expansion to host 55,000.
 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
201445,000 (9th)46,710 (49th)103.8% (2nd)

45,733 ('14)

 

 

8. Jack Trice Stadium, Iowa State

Iowa State is home to one of the most underrated home atmospheres in the nation. Despite a horrible record and a six percent drop in attendance, Jack Trice Stadium still ranked 41st nationally in attendance — ahead of championship or division-winning programs like TCU, Baylor, Arizona and Georgia Tech. Paul Rhoads is 2-11 in the last two seasons at home.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
197554,800 (6th)52,197 (41st)95.3% (6th)56,800 ('12)

 

9. Amon Carter Stadium, TCU

TCU was fourth in the Big 12 in average capacity at 99.4 percent full last season. The Horned Frogs finished 52nd nationally in the league's smallest building despite a three percent growth in attendance. Like Baylor, TCU needs to sustain high-level success in the Big 12 to continue to grow its quaint home atmosphere.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192945,000 (9th)44,719 (52nd)99.4% (4th)50,307 ('09)

 

 

10. Memorial Stadium, Kansas

A poor home win-loss record (256-231-16) has caused major trouble for Kansas. The 10 percent drop in attendance last fall was the worst in the Big 12. So were the 34,077 fans that showed up per game and the horrid 68.1 percent capacity. The Jayhawks have much to overcome both on the field and with their home venue.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192150,071 (7th)34,077 (67th)68.1% (10th)52,530 ('09)
Teaser:
Ranking the Big 12 Stadiums for 2015
Post date: Thursday, July 9, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-sec-stadiums-2015
Body:

Last summer, Athlon Sports asked 12 SEC experts like Tim Brando, Dan Wolken, Steven Godfrey and more to rank their favorite stadiums in the SEC.

 

Based on general atmosphere, fan support, home-field advantage, amenities, tailgating, surrounding campus and even scoreboards, here is how the voting shook out.

 

However, attendance is an increasing concern for all athletic directors and tweaks are made to college football stadiums every year. Using our expert rankings, here is a statistical breakdown and update of SEC stadiums and how they stack up against each other entering the 2015 season.
 


1. Tiger Stadium, LSU

Baton Rouge at night is an experience. After renovations, Tiger Stadium became the third biggest in the SEC, and finished fourth nationally at 101,723 per game last fall. While the 99.4 percent capacity rate was only eighth in the SEC, the 11 percent jump in attendance in 2014 was second only to Texas A&M.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
1924102,321 (3rd)101,723 (4th)99.4% (8th)102,321 ('14)

 

2. Kyle Field, Texas A&M

The move to the SEC and the massive $450 million renovations are essentially complete and it gives Texas A&M the biggest stadium in the SEC. The 102.5 percent capacity led the SEC in 2014, as did the 21 percent jump in attendance from 2013. At 105,123 per game, the Aggies trailed only Ohio State nationally in attendance. Kevin Sumlin is just 13-7 at home, but his new building should only get more difficult to play in for opposing teams.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
1927102,512 (1st)105,123 (2nd)102.5% (1st)110,633 ('14)

 


3. Sanford Stadium, Georgia

The Bulldogs sold every ticket in 2014, finishing with an average attendance (92,746) that matched its capacity. The fifth-biggest stadium in the SEC finished ninth nationally in attendance and only four other schools in the conference matched or surpassed Georgia's 100 percent capacity mark. Mark Richt is 74-15 “Between the Hedges” in his time at Georgia.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192992,746 (5th)92,746 (9th)100% (4th)92,746 ('14)

 

4. Neyland Stadium, Tennessee

The Big Orange brick cathedral is one of the loudest places to watch football in the nation and the crowds finally started coming back in 2014. The second-biggest venue in the SEC finished seventh nationally in attendance at 99,754 per game — a four percent jump from 2013 — as Neyland was 97.4 percent full. Butch Jones is 12-13 in two years at Tennessee, but 8-6 at home, including the biggest win of his tenure over No. 11 South Carolina two years ago.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
1921102,455 (2nd)99,754 (7th)97.4% (9th)109,061 ('04)

 

 
5. Bryant-Denny Stadium, Alabama

Alabama is 238-52-3 since opening the building in 1929, and Nick Saban is 43-6 at home during his tenure. The Crimson Tide finished sixth nationally in attendance last fall in the fourth-largest building in the SEC. The 99.7 percent capacity ranked sixth in the SEC as well.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
1929101,821 (4th)101,534 (6th)99.7% (6th)101,821 ('14)

 

6. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Florida

"The Swamp" was one of just four SEC stadiums to see a small dip in attendance last fall. The two percent drop still netted Florida 85,834 fans per game, good for 12th nationally. The 96.9 percent capacity average was just 10th in the SEC and one reason why Will Muschamp is now coaching Auburn's defense. Muschamp was 18-8 overall at home but just 3-6 in his last nine games at The Swamp.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (RK)% (Rk)Record
193088,548 (6th)85,834 (12th)96.9% (10th)90,907 ('09)

 


7. Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn

Just like Georgia, Auburn finished with exactly 100 percent attendance in 2014 — just one of five in the league to do so. At 87,451 per game, Auburn ranked 11th in the nation in total attendance in the seventh-largest building in the SEC. Gus Malzahn is 14-1 at home in two years as the head Tiger.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
193987,451 (7th)87,451 (11th)100% (4th)87,451 ('14)

 

8. Williams-Brice Stadium, South Carolina

For a team that lost six times last year, South Carolina fans still packed their home venue. The Gamecocks finished third in the SEC in average attendance and was one of five schools in the conference that drew above capacity. The 101.4 percent average ranked behind only Texas A&M and Ole Miss in '14. The Cocks ranked 16th nationally in attendance, even though their stadium is among the bottom half (eighth) in the SEC when it comes to size.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
193480,250 (8th)81,381 (16th)101.4% (3rd)85,199 ('12)

 


9. Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Arkansas

Arkansas’ all-time record at its home stadium is a solid but uninspiring 171-82-2 but the Razorbacks were 5-1 last year with the only loss coming to SEC champ Alabama. In fact, the eight percent growth in attendance from '13 finished behind only Texas A&M, LSU and Mississippi State in the SEC — all three of which saw major renovations increase capacity last season. The 92.4 percent capacity average was just 11th in the SEC, but the 66,521 average was 23rd nationally.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
193872,000 (9th)66,521 (23rd)92.4% (11th)76,808 ('10)

 

10. Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Ole Miss

The second-oldest venue in the SEC isn't very big — ranking 13th in the league in size — but was packed to the gills last season. The 101.6 percent average capacity was second only to Texas A&M and one of just five in the league above 100. The Rebels were 11th in attendance in the SEC last fall but still ranked 26th nationally, well ahead of programs like Oregon, Miami and Baylor. Capacity will actually drop to 58,580 this fall before moving to 64,038 in 2016.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
191560,580 (13th)61,547 (26th)101.6 (2nd)62,657 ('09)

 


11. Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium, Missouri

Mizzou finished in the top 25 in attendance in college football last fall at 65,285 per game. Unfortunately, the 10th-biggest building in the SEC produced the conference's 10th-largest crowd on average. Such is life in the SEC. The 91.7 percent capacity was ahead of only Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Missouri is 14-7 at home since joining the SEC, but 11-3 the last two seasons.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192771,168 (10th)65,285 (24th)91.7% (12th)75,298 ('80)

 

12. Davis Wade Stadium, Mississippi State

Expansion gave Mississippi State its largest home crowd in history last season when 62,945 poured into Davis Wade Stadium to watch the Auburn game. The Bulldogs finished 12th in the SEC in attendance (28th nationally) but it still was the most successful year in school history. Despite finishing below 100 percent capacity on average (99.6), Mississippi State ranked third in the SEC with a 10 percent jump in average attendance, trailing only Texas A&M and LSU.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
191461,337 (12th)61,127 (28th)99.6% (7th)62,945 ('14)

 


13. Commonwealth Stadium, Kentucky

Despite winning just two games in 2013, this team drew 59,472 fans per game. With a slightly improved team, Kentucky finished 30th in the nation (57,572) last season. At 85.2 percent full each weekend, Kentucky was one of two SEC teams (Vanderbilt) to post a sub-90 percent average capacity. All seven of Mark Stoops' wins at Kentucky have come at home.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
197367,606 (11th)57,572 (30th)85.2% (13th)71,024 ('07)

 

14. Vanderbilt Stadium, Vanderbilt

It's the smallest building in the league and generally the quietest as well. The Dores ranked last in the SEC in attendance, average capacity and were last in the league with a four percent drop from 2013.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192240,550 (14th)34,258 (66th)84.5% (14th)41,448 ('98)
Teaser:
Ranking the SEC Stadiums for 2015
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/ranking-acc-stadiums-2015
Body:

Last summer, Athlon Sports asked 12 ACC experts like Wes Durham, Mark EnnisDavid Glenn and more to rank their favorite stadiums in the ACC.

 

Based on general atmosphere, fan support, home-field advantage, amenities, tailgating, surrounding campus and even scoreboards, here is how the voting shook out.

 

However, attendance is an increasing concern for all athletic directors and tweaks are made to college football stadiums every year. Using our expert rankings, here is a statistical breakdown and update of ACC stadiums and how they stack up against each other entering the 2015 season.



1. Memorial Stadium, Clemson

The fifth-oldest venue in the ACC, this college football cathedral — dubbed Death Valley — is rumored to have had the loudest crowd in college football history at 133 decibels. Dabo Swinney's stadium led the ACC in capacity percentage (100.3 percent) and finished in the top 15 nationally in attendance last fall. Swinney loves his home cooking, going 38-5 at Memorial Stadium during his six years as Clemson's head coach.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
194281,500 (2nd)81,752 (15th)100.3% (1st)86,092 ('99)

2. Doak Campbell Stadium, Florida State

The Noles are 274-86-4 all-time in the largest stadium in the ACC and, interestingly enough, the gorgeous brick façade makes DCS the largest continuous brick building in the United States. Florida State led the ACC in attendance and finished 14th nationally with an ACC-best increase of nine percent. Jimbo Fisher's squad has won 14 straight at The Doak and are 31-4 in his five years in Tallahassee. The 99.9 percent capacity last fall was second only to Clemson.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
195082,300 (1st)82,211 (14th)99.9% (2nd)84,409 ('13)

 


3. Lane Stadium, Virginia Tech

The beautiful venue is the largest stadium in the Commonwealth of Virginia and Frank Beamer is 58-14 at home during his career in the ACC and 32-9 in Lane Stadium while a member of the Big East. Lane Stadium is one of just three ACC buildings to average more than 60,000 last year despite a 3-4 home record. Tech finished 27th nationally in attendance and fifth in the league in capacity percentage.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
196565,632 (3rd)61,157 (27th)93.2% (5th)66,233

 

4. Papa John’s Stadium, Louisville

The “Pizza Box” continues to grow seemingly every year after opening at just 42,000 seats with eyes on expansion to 80,000 in the near future. In just one season in the ACC, Louisville was third in the league in capacity percentage (96.3) and is just a few thousand fans per game away from being the third-largest average crowd in the ACC (was sixth in '14). This program, like its building, is soaring into Power 5 competition. 

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
199855,000 (9th)52,972 (39th)96.3% (3rd)55,428 ('14)

 

 

5. Carter-Finley Stadium, NC State

The crowds are right on top of the field with the closest seats in the ACC to the field. It led to the fifth-largest crowds in the league last fall despite coming off a winless ACC campaign in 2013. Carter-Finley also finished fourth in the league in percentage (94.5) each Saturday — one of just five programs in the league to average more than 90 percent.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
196657,583 (8th)54,398 (36th)94.5% (4th)57,583

 

6. Bobby Dodd Stadium, Georgia Tech

The ACC’s oldest venue was built for just $15,000 over a century ago and is the oldest in major college football (FBS). Tech finished 44th nationally in attendance, which ranked eighth in the ACC. Paul Johnson is 34-12 in his career at Georgia Tech.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
191355,000 (9th)48,519 (44th)88.2% (6th)60,316 ('73)

Related: ACC Football Teams as Rock and Roll Bands
 

7. Kenan Memorial Stadium, North Carolina

One of the most picturesque places to watch a football game, Kenan Stadium is the second-oldest football venue in the ACC. In 2014, North Carolina finished fourth in the ACC in attendance behind only Florida State, Clemson and Virginia Tech. In fact, Kenan saw a six percent spike in attendance last fall, which ranked second in the league behind only the Seminoles (9 percent). Larry Fedora is 14-6 at home and 7-11 away from Kenan.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192763,000 (6th)54,667 (35th)86.8% (7th)62,000 ('97)

 

 

8. Scott Stadium, Virginia

It's one of the most historic and culturally rich campuses in the nation and has witnessed many memorable ACC moments. But despite showing major improvements as a team, the Cavs' home building produced poor numbers in 2014. Virginia's attendance finished 58th nationally and 11th in the ACC after a 15 percent drop from '13. It also ranked 13th in the ACC ahead of only Pitt in terms of capacity percentage at just 63.9 percent full each Saturday. Mike London is 18-18 at home.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
193161,500 (7th)39,320 (58th)63.9% (13th)64,947 ('08)

 

9. Carrier Dome, Syracuse

Nicknamed “The Loud House,” the Cuse’s home has a Teflon-coated, fiberglass inflatable roof that is one of the loudest in the nation. However, it's been a while since the Orange's home building was feared. The Carrier Dome ranked 10th in the ACC in attendance despite a nice six percent bump over 2013 and ranked ninth in the league in capacity percentage. Syracuse was 1-5 at home last season.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
198049,262 (11th)40,447 (57th)82.1% (9th)50,564 ('80)

 

10. Sun Life Stadium, Miami

The building is 25 minutes from campus and saw nearly 10,000 seats subtracted from its capacity this offseason — so the 80.3 percent capacity is more of a projection. That said, the 52,518 average attendance ranked Miami 40th in the nation and seventh in the ACC. Al Golden is 19-8 in four years at home but 11-3 over the last two years. This program needs a smaller, on-campus venue badly.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
198765,326 (5th)52,518 (40th)80.3% (11th)80,120 ('13)

 

 

11. Heinz Field, Pitt

From an amenities standpoint, few college stadiums can match the posh NFL home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, sharing a building with an NFL team has drawbacks as well. Pitt ranked dead last in the ACC at just 63.1 percent average capacity and saw a league-worst decline of 17 percent in attendance from 2013. The Panthers ranked 56th nationally in attendance last fall.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
200165,500 (4th)41,315 (56th)63.1% (14th)66,731 ('02)

 

12. Alumni Stadium, Boston College

It's tough to draw large crowds to Chestnut Hill, as the Eagles have largely overachieved for the better part of the last two decades but routinely rank outside of the top 60 in attendance. Boston College is 12th in the ACC capacity, 12th in average capacity (77.0 percent) and 12th in average attendance — which ranks 64th nationally. Steve Addazio, like many before him, has done good work at BC but is just 8-5 at Alumni Stadium.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
195744,500 (12th)34,270 (64th)77.0% (12th)44,500

 

13. BB&T Field, Wake Forest

To Wake's fans' credit, there are typically never a ton of empty seats in BB&T and the recent round of upgrades have improved the gameday experience. However, the Deacs ranked last in the ACC in attendance last fall — 83rd nationally — and were only slightly better in average capacity (8th at 86.4 percent). All three of Wake Forest's wins last season came at home.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
196831,500 (14th)27,210 (83rd)86.4% (8th)37,623 ('04)

 

14. Wallace Wade Stadium, Duke

Attendance has gotten better under the David Cutcliffe regime due in large part to winning more games. However, the stadium still ranks at the bottom of the ACC in most attendance categories. Wallace Wade is 13th in capacity in the ACC, 10th in average capacity (80.4 percent) and was 13th in attendance last season — ranking just 82nd nationally. It makes Cutcliffe's 15-6 home record over the last three years incredibly impressive.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192933,941 (13th)27,291 (82nd)80.4% (10th)57,500 ('49)

 

Teaser:
Ranking the ACC Stadiums for 2015
Post date: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/ranking-pac-12-stadiums-2015
Body:

Last summer, Athlon Sports asked 10 Pac-12 experts like Rick Neuheisel, Dan Hawkins, Chris HustonRyan Nece and more to rank their favorite stadiums in the Pac-12.

 

Based on general atmosphere, fan support, home-field advantage, amenities, tailgating, surrounding campus and even scoreboards, here is how the voting shook out.

 

However, attendance is an increasing concern for all athletic directors and tweaks are made to college football stadiums every year. Using our expert rankings, here is a statistical breakdown and update of Pac-12 stadiums and how they stack up against each other entering the 2015 season.



 

1. Autzen Stadium, Oregon

Oregon isn't the biggest stadium in the land, ranked 31st nationally in attendance and seventh in the Pac-12 in capacity, but it's the fullest. The Ducks led the league at 106.3 percent average capacity in 2014. Smooth design lines, a beautiful setting, signature, two-tone green field turf, a brand new digital scoreboard and outrageously loud fans make Autzen Stadium one of the nation’s top venues.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
196754,000 (7th)57,422 (31st)106.3% (1st)

60,055 ('11)


2. Husky Stadium, Washington

With a breath-taking view of Lake Washington, new Husky Stadium is one of the finest facilities in the nation. The trademark cantilever roofs trap sound and make the venue one of the Pac-12’s loudest. The Huskies finished behind only UCLA and USC in attendance last fall, ranking 25th nationally.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192070,138 (3rd)64,508 (25th)91.9% (6th)76,125 ('95)

 

 

3. Rose Bowl, UCLA

There may not be more hallowed ground in college football than the Rose Bowl. The building is 30 minutes from campus, but that didn't keep the Bruins from leading the Pac-12 in attendance last year at 76,650 per game (19th nationally) — up a Pac-12-leading nine percent from 2013. Strangely enough, Jim Mora has lost four of his last seven at home and his home record (13-6) is worse than his road mark (16-5) while at UCLA. The Rose Bowl also holds the current Pac-12 single-game attendance record — even if it was USC and Ohio State.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192192,542 (2nd)76,650 (19th)82.8% (9th)106,869 ('73)

 

4. Folsom Field, Colorado

When the Buffs are good, this is one of the greatest places to watch a game in the nation. Unfortunately, the Buffs weren't good last year, finishing 61st in attendance nationally and last in the league at just 70.5 percent full. This building, like the team, is all potential right now and needs lots of work.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192453,613 (8th)37,778 (61st)70.5% (12th)54,972 ('05)

 

 

5. Los Angeles Coliseum, USC

The biggest venue in the Pac-12 is home to the Men of Troy and can almost be too massive at times. USC finished behind only UCLA in attendance last year (21st nationally) but was just 10th in the league at 78.3 percent full. Much-needed, newer end zone seating has brought fans closer to the action.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192393,607 (1st)73,272 (21st)78.3% (10th)105,236 ('47)

Related: Pac-12 Football Teams as Rock and Roll Bands


6. Memorial Stadium, Cal

This venue was in dire need of an upgrade and the administration has done a great job refurbishing one of the more unique stadiums in the Pac-12. The $321 million renovation took two years but was hailed as a rousing success. The fifth-biggest building in the league has been home to bad teams but it still managed to draw nearly 50,000 per game. As this team improves, look for Cal to move up in attendance rankings.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192362,467 (5th)47,675 (47th)76.3% (11th)83,000 ('47/'52)

 


7. Rice-Eccles Stadium, Utah

There is work to be done to make this place competitive in the league from a facilities standpoint despite being the newest venue in the league, but that hasn't kept the fans away. Utah was one of only two teams in the league to average over capacity (101.4 percent full) last fall.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
199845,807 (10th)46,437 (50th)101.4% (2nd)46,768 ('03)

 

8. Sun Devil Stadium, Arizona State

The crowd is one of the most beautiful in the nation and climbing nearby Tempe Butte is a rite of passage for many. Arizona State claims the fourth-largest venue in the league and routinely led the Pac-12 in attendance during the 1980s. In 2014, ASU was fourth in the league in attendance and 32nd nationally. Renovations are underway. Its league-leading nine percent drop in attendance in 2014 was due in part to a drop in capacity.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
195865,870 (4th)57,179 (32nd)86.8% (8th)74,963 ('96)
 
9. Arizona Stadium, Arizona

The recent $378 million renovation project added a new video board, upgraded team facilities and football offices while expanding seating in the north end zone. In fact, Arizona Stadium might be a bit underrated, ranking seventh or better in the league in capacity, attendance and percentage. It trailed only UCLA (+9 percent) with a growth of six percent from '13.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192856,029 (6th)50,710 (42nd)90.5% (7th)59,920 ('96)

 


10. Stanford Stadium, Stanford

The Farm's amenities are second-to-none and the state-of-the-art building is located on one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation. It's not the loudest of places but the quality football team has kept the venue full, placing Stanford third in the league at 94.9 percent of capacity last fall. The second-oldest building in the league is ninth in capacity but sixth in attendance. Its six percent drop in attendance was second-worst in the league last year (Arizona State).

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
192150,424 (9th)47,862 (46th)94.9% (3rd)51,607 ('10)

 

11. Reser Stadium, Oregon State

Quaint Reser Stadium ranked fifth in the Pac-12 at 92.3 percent full last season despite an average team while also being the second-smallest venue in the league. Recent renovations gave Oregon State faithful one of the biggest video boards in the nation, expanded seating in the end zones, hip upgrades to the East Grandstand and improved amenities. Future plans also call for more growth, targeting a 55,000 seat capacity by 2016.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
195345,674 (11th)42,176 (53rd)92.3% (5th)46,469 ('10)

 

12. Martin Stadium, Washington State

During a big game, Martin Stadium will pop to life and make fans forget the building is the smallest in the league. Or that it’s located in the Pac-12’s most distant outpost. Wazzu did finish fourth in the league last fall at 93.5 percent full on average, despite finishing last in total attendance.

 

OpenedCapacity (Rk)'14 Avg. (Rk)% (Rk)Record (Yr)
197232,952 (12th)30,794 (72nd)93.5% (4th)40,306 ('97)
Teaser:
Ranking the Pac-12 Stadiums for 2015
Post date: Monday, July 6, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/cover-2-college-football-podcast-preseason-playoff-preview
Body:

 

The Athlon Sports Cover 2 College Football podcast is back!

 

Hosts Braden Gall and David Fox take listeners inside the preseason College Football preview magazine.

 

The guys break down the top four teams in the preseason top 25 and how the Athlon team settled on our College Football Playoff Projections. Why did we put two SEC teams into the Playoff? Why did we pick Baylor over TCU? Is there any reason at all NOT to pick Ohio State to win it all?

 

Will the Playoff Committee put two teams from the same league into the playoff or will it stick with conference champions and who are the best options? Michigan State? TCU?

 

The Ohio State starting quarterback debate rages on and the guys break down new Big 12 expansion rumors as well.

 

All of that and much more on this edition of the Cover 2 Podcast.


Send any ideas, questions or comments to @BradenGall or @DavidFox615 or email [email protected]. The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com, iTunes, Stitcher and our podcast RSS feed.

Teaser:
Cover 2 College Football Podcast: Preseason Playoff Preview
Post date: Monday, June 29, 2015 - 18:12
Path: /college-football/pac-12-will-not-be-best-conference-2015
Body:

The Pac-12 is stacked with quality football teams and elite coaches.

 

The rise of the Pac-12 began with the hiring of Larry Scott as conference commissioner. It continued by bringing in great coaches like Rich Rodriguez, Todd Graham, Chris Petersen, Mike Leach, Sonny Dykes and Jim Mora. Facilities upgrades, television networks and elite quarterback play followed close behind.

 

The rise of the Pac-12 is legitimate and has made this league the top challenger to the SEC. It's separated itself from the ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten in a significant way.

 

But it's still not the best league in college football. 

 

The SEC will be the best conference in college football once again in 2015. This is due in part because the Southeastern Conference appears to be getting even better this fall while the Pac-12 is simply trying to maintain the level of play it accomplished in 2014.

 

Related: Pac-12 Football Teams as Rock and Roll Bands

 

Which will be much tougher than most realize — in both divisions.

 

Oregon has lost Chip Kelly, Nick Aliotti and Marcus Mariota in three straight years. It's now fully Mark Helfrich's program and the Ducks can't possibly be as good as they were last season. Washington is replacing three first-round NFL Draft picks and another taken midway through the second on one side of the ball without any stability whatsoever at the quarterback position. Oregon State is losing its entire front seven and Washington State is still incredibly one-sided.

 

Stanford, which lost more games (5) last year than it had since 2009, should be better and Cal is showing major signs of life under Dykes and star quarterback Jared Goff. But a case could be made that four of the six teams in the North will be slightly worse in 2015 than they were in '14 and Cal still has one of the worst defenses in the entire nation.

 

In the South Division, only USC can feel confident that it will be better this fall than it was last year. Arizona State could possibly be in that mix as well, but it's hard to improve on 10 wins. Otherwise, it's difficult to see anyone else in the South showing significant improvement.

 

In fact, it will be hard for UCLA, Arizona and Utah not to regress in '15 and Colorado is arguably the worst Power 5 team in the country.

 

Related: 2015 Preseason Pac-12 All-Conference Teams

 

UCLA loses Brett Hundley, the winningest and most productive quarterback in school history, and a true freshman could be under center in the season opener. So despite a bunch of talented returning starters, it seems hard to find more than 10 wins for the Bruins this season.

 

Arizona loses most of its offensive line and, even with superbacker Scooby Wright leading the way, the defense still ranked as one of the worst in the nation — giving up 28.2 points per game and ranking 103rd nationally in total defense. This is a team that won 10 games but lost four times and improvement on that record also seems impossible.

 

There is a lot to like about the Utes but there also isn't anything special about this team other than Devontae Booker. Utah won a bunch of games with elite special teams but both Kaelin Clay and Dres Anderson are gone. So is Nate Orchard and five other defensive starters. Special teams and a good ground game can win plenty of games but can it improve on nine wins with one of the toughest schedules in the land?

 

The Pac-12 is a great football league with lots of quality teams, excellent coaches and fantastic quarterbacks. It's clearly better than the ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 in the national hierarchy.

 

But it's hard to find many teams that can take major strides forward in 2015 and that means that the SEC is still the best college football league in America.

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 WILL NOT be the best conference in 2015
Post date: Monday, June 29, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/ohio-state-michigan-state-could-both-make-playoff-2015
Body:

There is a lot of moving and shaking happening in the Big Ten these days.

 

On the field, this league has taken a lot of flack over the years (particularly from the South) about how slow the game is played in the Midwest.

 

Off the field, Jim Delany has been a brilliant puppeteer of conference expansion and television revenue, making his league the most profitable and stable of any of the Power 5 leagues with quick and decisive action. Penn State and Michigan have made huge, splashy coaching hires that should allow the former college football giants to regain their past stature.

 

However, the play of the Big Ten on the field is beginning to match its performance off of it.

 

Ohio State and Urban Meyer got the maligned Big Ten back to the top of the college football mountain by first knocking off hated SEC king Alabama and then crushing Heisman Trophy-led, Pac-12 champion Oregon. 

 

The Buckeyes enter the season ranked No. 1 in the nation with arguably the best roster and path back to the College Football Playoff. 

 

Related: Complete 2015 Big Ten Football Preview and Predictions

 

But the rest of this league is what will make 2015 so interesting. In fact, the Big Ten could be in as good a position as any league to get a second team into the Playoff.

 

Michigan State is that team.

 

Mark Dantonio has some holes to plug at Michigan State, particularly with right-hand man Pat Narduzzi taking the head coaching job at Pitt. But this team comes in at No. 7 in the preseason rankings for a reason and could easily slip into the Playoff despite a potential road loss to Ohio State.

 

Connor Cook is an All-American candidate at quarterback who will be playing behind one of the best offensive lines in the nation. Shilique Calhoun and Lawrence Thomas set the edge for what is always one of the most imposing defensive fronts in the nation. Dantonio's squad is loaded again and will be the top challenger to Ohio State in the East Division.

 

Related: Big Ten Football Teams as Rock and Roll Bands

 

The schedule, though, is what really allows Michigan State to sneak into the Playoff conversation — even with a loss and no division title.

 

Beating Oregon at home in Week 2 changes the entire complexion of finishing second in the Big Ten East. The Ducks are picked by most to win the Pac-12 North and play in the Pac-12 championship game. Winning the second-best league in America puts Oregon squarely in the Playoff conversation.

 

Would a one-loss Ducks team get the nod over a one-loss Michigan State team that beat them head-to-head? That's really hard to fathom. Certainly, a two-loss Oregon team wouldn't, right?

 

The rest of the Spartans' schedule features enough quality games to bolster their Playoff resume as well. Road trips to Nebraska and Michigan will be tough challenges and two quality wins away from East Lansing – something the Committee will have to respect. Home wins over Penn State and Maryland will look solid as well.

 

With one of the tougher schedules in the Big Ten and a marquee non-conference showdown against a fellow Playoff contender, Michigan State could easily find itself in the postseason conversation even with a loss to Ohio State.

 

If Michigan State beats the Buckeyes in Columbus on Nov. 21, this entire concept is thrown out the window and the Spartans become not only a lock to make the Playoff but a serious threat to win the national championship.

 

Of course, Michigan State may have to beat Ohio State again during the four-team tournament to clinch their first national title in over 50 years.

Teaser:
Buckeyes, Spartans Give Big Ten Shot at Two Playoff Teams
Post date: Friday, June 26, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/acc-coastal-put-or-shut-time-2015
Body:

It's put up or shut up time in the ACC Coastal.

 

In 10 years with two divisions, Miami has never played in the ACC title game. Neither has North Carolina or Virginia. In just two seasons, Pitt has yet to make a splash in their new home as well.

 

Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech have won every Coastal Division championship since the league split into divisions except one (2013) and both lead the preseason rankings in the Coastal again in 2015. 

 

Duke, to its credit, unexpectedly broke through before the Hurricanes, Tar Heels or Cavaliers. Needless to say, David Cutcliffe is in great shape in Durham, N.C.

 

So is Paul Johnson. The Georgia Tech coach has had his ups and downs with the fans and administration in Atlanta, but the Yellow Jackets have gone to seven bowls games in seven seasons under Johnson — which includes three trips to the ACC title game.

 

After 25 losses in four seasons, his 11-win campaign last year put Johnson right back atop the division's coaching hierarchy.

 

But the rest of the division should be under serious pressure to perform in 2015.

 

Related: Complete 2015 ACC Preview and Predictions

 

Al Golden has a rising superstar at quarterback in Brad Kaaya and the No. 4-rated recruiting class in the nation according to 247Sports. He did a fantastic job at Temple but has reached a tipping point in South Florida this fall.

 

After a nine-win season two years ago, Miami posted a losing record in the ACC (3-5) and overall (6-7) in 2014. He's 16-16 in four seasons at the helm for the Hurricanes, and, while signs of growth and improvement can be found — the defense has gone from 97th to 80th to 15th in yards per play allowed over the last three years — this team is still mired in the middle of the pack in the Coastal.

 

Golden is probably a much better coach than his Miami resume indicates due to extenuating circumstances surrounding his program but he needs a splashy '15 campaign in the worst way.

 

Larry Fedora is in the same exact situation in Chapel Hill. Yes, there is a cloud hanging over North Carolina that makes winning difficult, but his atrocious defense hasn't helped either. He is turning to former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik to save one half of his team this fall.

 

Fedora's offenses have been excellent and he has yet to post a losing ACC record in three seasons, but he's running a program that hasn't lost fewer than three ACC games in a season since 1997. He, too, needs a big splash in '15.

 

Both teams have a lot of upside but both teams also have their share of question marks too.

 

Related: ACC Football Teams as Rock and Roll Bands

 

Virginia's Mike London is one of the most interesting people in the business and his story is fascinating and inspiring. And while his team showed improvement last fall, his tenure in Charlottesville could come to an end quickly this fall if that improvement isn't continued in a big way.

 

Even veteran Hall of Fame coach Frank Beamer is entering murky waters at Virginia Tech. He's not on the hot seat in Blacksburg but after eight consecutive seasons with double-digit wins, Beamer is 12-12 in the ACC and 22-17 overall in his last three campaigns. 

 

His offenses are impossible to watch and fifth-place division finishes aren't acceptable to Hokie faithful. 

 

Related: Clemson, Florida State will dominate improving ACC, but won't make the Playoff

 

Johnson and Cutcliffe are in great shape and Pat Narduzzi is entering the fray at Pitt as a rookie head coach. But the rest of this division is clearly entering a critical season on the field.

 

Part of what makes the Coastal Division so entertaining is its unpredictability. Six teams enter 2015 with legitimate eyes toward an ACC title game berth.

 

However, only one team can make it to Charlotte at season's end and that could lead to new faces on the sidelines in 2016.

Teaser:
ACC Coastal: Put up or Shut up in 2015
Post date: Thursday, June 25, 2015 - 10:00

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