Articles By Braden Gall

Path: /college-football/2013-big-ten-week-1-preview-and-predictions
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The painfully long offseason is in the past and football is here.

The Big Ten will begin in familiar fashion as most of its conference contenders — Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska — should have little problem dispatching much-lesser opponents. However, Northwestern and Penn State expect to win more than they lose this fall and both will begin with difficult games away from home.

Elsewhere, Jerry Kill and Kevin Wilson look to continue developing their programs as Year No. 3 begins at Minnesota and Indiana respectively while a new head coach at Purdue is just beginning that very same process.

Finally, two embattled coaches at Iowa and Illinois start what could be make-or-break seasons with must-win games in Week 1. Let the madness begin.

Big Ten Week 1 Game Power Rankings:

1. Northwestern (-5.5) at Cal (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Pat Fitzgerald knows a Legends Division title and subsequent Big Ten title is next on his to-do list and a win on the road against a Pac-12 team would be a bold first statement. Both teams are stacked with explosive offensive playmakers and this game should be one of the more entertaining affairs nationally this weekend. But to suggest that this is anything but a coin flip would be overlooking what should be a much-improved Golden Bears squad.

2. Syracuse (+8.5) vs. Penn State (3:30 p.m., ABC, East Rutherford)
Bill O’Brien gets his second season underway with an intriguing BCS conference test at a neutral site. Neither team has announced who will start at quarterback publicly but odds are uber-recruit Christian Hackenberg won’t be on the Nittany Lions' bench very long. He is a special player who needs to gain experience quickly on a team with a veteran offensive supporting cast and consistently high aspirations.

3. Central Michigan (+31) at Michigan (3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network)
Devin Gardner has spent the entire offseason as the starter and now it is his time to shine. The Chips should provide little push-back against the Wolverines so look for Brady Hoke to establish a ground game in an effort to get an extended look at his running back stable. The youthful and emerging defensive front needs to take advantage of the rebuilt CMU offensive line.

4. Buffalo (+34.5) at Ohio State (Noon, ESPN2)
Much like Michigan, Urban Meyer expects to get a long look at his talented underclassmen in this one-sided opener. The defensive line is breaking in four new starters and Braxton Miller needs names to step up around him on offense. One highly touted true freshman to watch in what should be an easy win for OSU will be all-purpose dynamo Dontre Wilson.

5. Purdue (+10.5) at Cincinnati (Noon, ESPNU)
Not too many Big Ten teams begin the year as a double-digit underdog to an American Athletic Conference team with a new head coach. However, that is exactly what first-year head coach Darrell Hazell is facing in his B1G debut this weekend. Rob Henry will start at quarterback but it will have to be a complete team effort to upset the Bearcats on the road in just the second-ever meeting between the two programs.

6. Northern Illinois (+3) at Iowa (3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network)
Kirk Ferentz enters a critical year with his hands full in Week 1. The defending MAC champs and Orange Bowl participants will come to town unfazed by the bright lights of Kinnick Stadium led by superstar dual-threat quarterback Jordan Lynch. Iowa is 8-0 all-time against the Huskies but barely held off NIU last year 18-17 in Soldier Field.

7. UNLV (+14) at Minnesota (Thurs., 7 p.m., Big Ten Network)
The Gophers' opener marks the first time in the five-year history of TCF Bank Stadium that Minnesota will begin the year at home. UNLV won just two games last year and will be facing an uphill battle against a Minnesota team that is very young but more talented than perceived.

8. Indiana State (+24) at Indiana (Thurs., 7 p.m., Big Ten Network)
Kevin Wilson begins his third year at the helm in Bloomington with a bowl bid in his sights. Therefore, every win is critical, especially against an in-state rival in which his team is favored by more than three touchdowns. Indiana will welcome back potential star quarterback Tre Roberson, who will rotate with Cam Coffman and Nate Sudfeld in Week 1.

9. Wyoming (+29) at Nebraska (8 p.m., Big Ten Network)
The No. 1 offense in the Big Ten has its sights set on a return trip to the Big Ten championship game. However, it will likely be the defense that will determine if the Huskers have what it takes to win the Legends Division. Wyoming’s talented dual-threat quarterback Brett Smith led the Mountain West in passing efficiency last year and will be a sneaky good test for a developing Black Shirts defense.

10. Western Michigan (+27.5) at Michigan State (Fri., 8 p.m., Big Ten Network)
The Spartans will look extremely familiar on Friday night as the punishing, physical defense won’t be pressed by this middling MAC offense. However, all eyes will be on what could be tentative quarterback play and an inexperienced set of skill players. Mark Dantonio could use upwards of four different quarterbacks. Watch for talented true freshman Damion Terry.

11. UMass (+44.5) at Wisconsin (Noon, Big Ten Network)
The Gary Andersen Era in Madison should get underway with minimal fanfare. The students will be slow to enter Camp Randall as the Badgers should face little resistance from the Minutemen. Both Joel Stave, the tall statuesque passer, and Curt Phillips, the resilient and athletic, yet oft-injured, dual-threat, are listed as co-starters and both will see plenty of snaps.

12. Southern Illinois (+17) at Illinois (Noon, Big Ten Network)
In just one season Tim Beckman has found himself squarely on the hot seat. Illinois was 119th in total and scoring offense a year ago and won’t improve on its 2-10 record if that side of the ball doesn’t improve. Nathan Scheelhaase is still under center and is charged with reigniting the Illini attack. The Salukis may offer one of only a few chances for victory in 2013.

Big Ten Week 1 Pivotal Players:

1. Northwestern’s secondary
Nick VanHoose and company are extremely talented and have plenty of experience but these Wildcats will have their hands full with Cal’s offensive skill players. Running back Brandon Bigelow and wide receivers Bryce Treggs, Kenny Lawler and Chris Harper are difficult matchups and are impossible to tackle one-on-one. This group must be steady in the open field against the Bears' playmakers.

2. Deion Barnes, DE, Penn State
With Penn State losing leadership and production from the front seven in the form of Mike Mauti and Gerald Hodges, it will fall to the reigning Big Ten Defensive Freshman of the Year to pressure whoever is under center for Syracuse. The secondary should be able to contain the vertical passing game, so it is up to Barnes to control the line of scrimmage.

3. Iowa's linebackers
One of the best games-within-the-game to watch this weekend will be Iowa's Butkus candidates James Morris, Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey against Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch. He completed just 6-of-16 passes for 54 yards in last year’s one-point loss to Iowa but rushed for 119 yards and a TD on the ground. Lynch will put enormous pressure on the Hawkeyes' loaded linebacking corps — and it should be fun to watch.

4. Ryan Russell, DE, Purdue
The only way the Boilermakers can pull off the upset against Cincinnati is if the front line holds its own against a team that led the Big East in rushing last year. Russell and fellow D-liner Bruce Gaston must pick up where Kawann Short left off if Purdue expects to win this weekend.

5. Philip Nelson, QB, Minnesota
The Gophers should win their opener against the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV. But more importantly is how Nelson plays. He could be the difference between a second straight bowl game or yet another losing season in the Twin Cities. The local product needs to get off to a hot start.

Big Ten Week 1 Prediction Grid:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
Northwestern (-5.5) at CalN'western, 31-21 N'western, 27-24N'western, 34-24N'western, 28-17
Syracuse (+8.5) vs. Penn StPenn St, 24-17Penn St, 20-10Penn St, 24-17Penn St, 17-7
Purdue (+10.5) at CincinnatiCincinnati, 31-21Cincinnati, 21-14Cincinnati, 27-24Cincinnati, 27-17
C. Michigan (+31) at MichiganMichigan, 41-13Michigan, 42-14Michigan, 41-17Michigan, 42-10
Buffalo (+34.5) at Ohio StOhio St, 38-10Ohio St, 31-0Ohio St, 48-20Ohio St, 49-13
N. Illinois (+3) at IowaIowa, 20-17Iowa, 29-24Iowa, 27-24N. Illinois, 21-14
UNLV (+14) at MinnesotaMinnesota, 31-14Minnesota, 31-14Minnesota, 31-17Minnesota, 28-10
Indiana State (+24) at IndianaIndiana, 41-10Indiana, 31-7Indiana, 41-17Indiana, 35-21
Wyoming (+29) at NebraskaNebraska, 49-13Nebraska, 42-14Nebraska, 45-20Nebraska, 42-17
W. Michigan (+27.5) at Michigan StMich. St, 27-7Mich. St, 27-13Mich. St, 30-13Mich. St, 21-10
UMass (+44.5) at WisconsinWisconsin, 44-10Wisconsin, 47-0Wisconsin, 45-7Wisconsin, 35-7
Southern Illinois (+17) at IllinoisIllinois, 27-13Illinois, 23-10Illinois, 34-17Illinois, 27-14
Year-to-date:0-00-00-00-0

 

Teaser:
Big Ten Week 1 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/2013-pac-12-week-1-preview-and-predictions
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Week One of the season is generally reserved for warm-up tests with cream-puffs so that new coaches and new quarterbacks can ease their way into the schedule.

That won’t be the case in the Pac-12 in 2013. Cal, Washington State and Colorado are underdogs to start the season while Washington, Utah and those same Buffaloes will open things with important regional rivalry games. And the double whammy of new coach-new QB will be on display in both Berkeley (Cal) and Denver (Colorado).

Sure, there should be some routs in Eugene, Tucson, Corvallis and Los Angeles, but this is no ordinary Week 1 for the Pac-12. Seven or eight wins in the 10-game Pac-12 slate this weekend would be considered a huge success.

Pac-12 Week 1 Game Power Rankings:

1. Boise State (+3.5) at Washington (10:00 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1)
After an 18-month hiatus from Husky Stadium, the fans in the Pacific Northwest get to test out their new toy. The beautiful new building will be broken in with style when Chris Petersen and his Broncos come to town in Week 1. These two will be facing each other for the second consecutive game after Boise State slipped past U of W 28-26 in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas to end last year. Petersen has made a career of winning huge Week 1 BCS tests but Washington is 8-1 in its last nine home openers. Boise is targeting an unbeaten season and the Huskies want to compete in the stacked Pac-12 North, so both need the statement win right out of the gate.

2. Northwestern (-5.5) at Cal (10:30 p.m., ESPN2)
There will be no shortage of big plays and highlight-reel moments with these two offensive-minded BCS teams. The Wildcats are loaded with skill players while new Golden Bears coach Sonny Dykes brings some explosive weapons and a great offensive system to the table as well. One team won 10 games a year ago and the other lost nine, but these two will look much more even than those records indicate. The key will be the play of Cal's first-year starting quarterback Jared Goff, because talented redshirt freshman Zach Kline is waiting in the wings.

3. Utah State (+2.5) at Utah (Thurs., 8 p.m., Fox Sports 1)
The in-state round robin between Utah, BYU and Utah State is wildly underrated nationally and will be critical for both programs this fall. Utah State and star quarterback Chuckie Keeton are breaking in a new head coach in Matt Wells while Kyle Whittingham is trying to get Utah back to a bowl game after missing the postseason last year for the first time since 2002. This was a 27-20 overtime home win for the Aggies last year.

4. Washington State (+15.5) at Auburn (7 p.m., ESPNU)
Mike Leach begins his second tour with a key non-conference road game against the nation’s best conference. This team played 17 freshmen a year ago and need those younger players to develop quickly as Wazzu opens in one of the nastiest road environments in the nation. That, or the biggest storyline of opening weekend for the Cougars will be the 131st consecutive flag appearance on ESPN's "College Gameday."

5. USC (-23) at Hawaii (Thurs., 11 p.m., CBS Sports)
Lane Kiffin will play both Cody Kessler and Max Wittek at quarterback while Silas Redd stays back in California working on his surgically repaired knee. Both Kiffin and Hawaii’s Norm Chow, a former Trojans’ assistant, are entering critical seasons on the sidelines. USC’s primary goal should be to return to the mainland fully healthy and with an easy road win.

6. Nicholls State (+59) at Oregon (4 p.m., Fox Sports 1)
This one should get ugly very quickly in new coach Mark Helfrich’s debut. His job is to make sure the No. 2-ranked scoring offense (49.5 ppg) and No. 5-ranked total offense (537.4 ypg) maintains its Chip Kelly-level of production. The Colonels, who were 1-10 last year, won’t put up much of a fight.

7. Colorado (+3) vs. Colorado State (Sun., 6 p.m., CBS Sports, Denver)
The Rocky Mountain Showdown will feature the debut of Colorado’s new head coach Mike MacIntyre. Only one other Buffaloes coach since 1931 — Rick Neuheisel in 1995 — has won his first game and having to face the in-state rival Rams won’t make it easy on MacIntyre.

8. Nevada (+21) at UCLA (10 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
There are freshmen everywhere on the rebuilt UCLA defense and they will be tested by the signature pistol offense and Nevada’s explosive quarterback Cody Fajardo. That said, star quarterback Brett Hundley should have his way with the Wolf Pack defense. Look for a young offensive line and young defense to get its feet wet for the Bruins in what should be an easy win.

9. Eastern Washington (+27) at Oregon State (6 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
Sean Mannion (rightly so) was named the starting quarterback this week in what should be a workman-like ‘13 debut. The Beavers are breaking in a bunch of new defensive pieces in what should be a relatively easy win. In the world of bizarre stats, Oregon State’s best two seasons, 2000 and '04, began with wins over Eastern Washington.

10. Northern Arizona (+35) at Arizona (10 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
The lone Friday night affair should be a big learning experience for the Wildcats' quarterbacks. B.J. Denker should be the starter and has the most experience but there are a lot of talented and hungry players nipping at his heels. When, not if, the game gets out of hand, Rich Rodriguez should be freed up to play his backups in an effort to see what he’s got. 

Pac-12 Week 1 Pivotal Players:

1. Washington’s offensive line
The Huskies' offense was atrocious last year, stemming largely from an injury-riddled offensive line. Those guys are all back and need to give quarterback Keith Price and running back Bishop Sankey room to maneuver against a normally very strong Boise State front seven if Washington wants to win this weekend.

2. Jared Goff, QB, Cal
Goff unexpectedly beat out Zach Kline for the starting gig in Dykes' QB-friendly offense and he should have plenty of support around him. If he wants to pull the potential upset in Week 1, he needs to limit mistakes and get the ball to guys like Brandon Bigelow and Bryce Treggs.

3. Utah’s front seven
The Utes had to replace four of this unit’s seven starters in the offseason, including All-American nose tackle Star Lotulelei. It gave up 302 yards of total offense to Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton last year and will have to be better this time around to start ’13 with a win.

4. Cody Kessler and Max Wittek, QB, USC
Kiffin wants Wittek, but most acknowledge Kessler has been the better player. He lacks the big-time arm strength that Wittek has and that is why Kiffin has been so stubborn about naming a starter. Both will play this weekend and Kessler could end the discussion with a great game right out of the gate.

5. Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
He might be the most talented defensive player in the conference and he will be tested by a feisty Nevada offense led by star dual-threat quarterback Cody Fajardo. The Bruins' secondary could feature four freshmen, so it’s on the front seven to develop quickly and contain Fajardo.

Pac-12 Week 1 Prediction Grid:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
Boise St (+3.5) at WashingtonWashington, 24-21Boise St, 24-21Boise St, 27-24Boise St, 27-24
Northwestern (-5.5) at CalN'western, 31-21N'western, 27-24N'western, 34-24N'western, 28-17
Utah St (+2.5) at UtahUtah, 20-17Utah St, 21-20Utah, 27-24Utah St, 35-28
Washington St (+15.5) at AuburnAuburn, 35-20Auburn, 30-13Auburn, 38-20Auburn, 24-14
USC (-23) at HawaiiUSC, 38-14USC, 44-13USC, 45-10USC, 49-7
Nicholls St (+59) at OregonOregon, 59-13Oregon, 60-10Oregon, 62-7Oregon, 63-10
Colorado (+3) vs. Colorado StColorado, 23-20Colorado, 35-31Colorado, 24-20Colorado St, 17-14
Nevada (+21) at UCLAUCLA, 38-21UCLA, 27-10UCLA, 34-24UCLA, 35-21
E. Washington (+27) at Oregon StOregon St, 34-7Oregon St, 35-7Oregon St, 38-17Oregon St, 49-14
Northern Arizona (+35) at ArizonaArizona, 42-17Arizona, 44-14Arizona, 48-17Arizona, 38-10
Year-to-date:0-00-00-00-0

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 Week 1 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 07:11
Path: /college-football/college-football-pre-week-1-heisman-voting
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Each week of the college football season, Athlon Sports will poll some of the nation's best college football people from every region of the country. Each voter offers up a top five and each first-place vote is worth five points. A second-place vote is worth four points, so on and so forth. With 13 voters, a perfect ballot — i.e., 13 first-place votes — would give a player 65 total points.

Johnny Manziel is the defending Heisman winner but the odds are stacked against him. Tim Tebow, Matt Leinart, Sam Bradford and Mark Ingram all returned to try to defend their stiff-armed trophies and failed. Only 1-in-77 players has ever won the award a second time, that being, of course, the legendary Ohio State tailback Archie Griffin. Manziel will have to repeat arguably the greatest season in history in the toughest division in football with a giant bulls-eye on his back, from both opposing defenses and the NCAA. And while there appears to be a Heisman revolution developing, the majority of the initial vote-getters were, in fact, quarterbacks.

So without further ado, here is our 13-member Heisman Trophy panel and how the votes look heading into the first week of the regular season:

Pre-Week 1 Results:

 PlayerPos.TeamTot. Pts1st2nd3rd4th5th
1.Braxton MillerQBOhio St42/6552211
2.Johnny ManzielQBTexas A&M385211-
3.Marcus MariotaQBOregon3323221
4.Jadeveon ClowneyDESouth Carolina2812411
5.AJ McCarronQBAlabama22-2224
6.Tajh BoydQBClemson11--14-
7.Teddy BridgewaterQBLouisville7-1--3
8.Marqise LeeWRUSC6-1-1-
9.Aaron MurrayQBGeorgia5--1-2
10.Kevin HoganQBStanford2---1-
11.Taylor MartinezQBNebraska1----1

 

The Voting Panel (click name for twitter accounts):

NameOrganizationWebsite
Tom DienhartBig Ten NetworkBigTenNetwork.com
Bryan FischerPac-12 NetworkPac-12.com
David FoxAthlon SportsAthlonSports.com
Braden GallAthlon SportsAthlonSports.com
Steven GodfreySB NationSBNation.com
Chris HustonHeisman PunditHeismanPundit.com
Steven LassanAthlon SportsAthlonSports.com
Chris LevelRed Raider SportsRedRaiderSports.com
Mitch LightAthlon SportsAthlonSports.com
Billy LiucciTexAgsTexAgs.com
Dan RubensteinSB Nation/Solid VerbalSolidVerbal.com
Josh WardMr. SEC/WNMLMrSEC.com
Jim YoungACC Sports JournalACCSports.com

 

Teaser:
College Football: Pre-Week 1 Heisman Voting
Post date: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/ranking-all-32-nfl-head-coaches-2013
Body:

Ranking a coach isn’t just about the number of wins. It’s about consistency, longevity, level of competition, support, championships and how that all compares to history. Yes, a Super Bowl ring puts a coach into an elite fraternity and is the benchmark with which every coach is judged. But it’s not the only way to evaluate a coach, after all, only seven active NFL coaches have led their team to capturing the Lombardi Trophy.

For example, winning with the Saints has proven to be much more difficult than winning with the Giants. Winning under Jerry Jones, Bud Adams or Dan Snyder is much different than working for Green Bay Packers, Inc. Winning with the support of the Rooney family and Steeler Nation is likely easier than, say, the support and fans of Jacksonville.

All things must be considered when trying to rank the 32 NFL coaches in 2013. The new faces haven’t proven anything and, almost by default, find themselves near the bottom of the rankings. That said, it doesn’t take long to prove oneself in the cut-throat world of professional football. Will Marc Trestman or Chip Kelly be able to bring innovative offenses from the CFL and college and make them successful in the NFL? Only time will tell.

Here is how Athlon Sports ranks all 32 NFL coaches entering the 2013 season:

1. Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco
Record: 24-7-1 Playoffs: 3-2 Age: 49

Harbaugh went 22-2 in his last two seasons at San Diego University, winning back-to-back Pioneer League Championships in 2005-06. He built a perennial loser into a BCS bowl winner in just four seasons at Stanford. And the former NFL quarterback is 24-7-1 in his first two seasons with the 49ers, leading them to their first two playoff appearances since 2002. He was five yards away from winning the Super Bowl in February — the powerhouse franchise’s first such appearance in the game since 1994 — and is the leader of the team labeled by many as the front-runner to win the Lombardi Trophy this season.

2. Bill Belichick, New England
Record: 187-101 Playoffs: 18-8 Age: 61

Only Tom Landry (20) and Don Shula (19) have more career postseason wins than Belichick. He has three Super Bowl rings and two other appearances in the game to lead all active coaches in both categories. Yet, his last title came nine years ago and his franchise has become more of a punch line than Super Bowl champ. That said, the Pats have won at least 10 games in 10 straight seasons and there is no reason to think this team won’t run away with the AFC East for the 13th time in 14 seasons.

3. Mike McCarthy, Green Bay
Record: 74-38 Playoffs: 6-4 Age: 49

In seven years as a head coach, McCarthy has one losing season (2008, 6-10), three NFC North titles, one Super Bowl, helped his quarterback win a MVP trophy and he still hasn’t reached the age of 50. He’s made the playoffs four years in a row and five of the last six years, and only 24 coaches in NFL history have more than his six career postseason wins. A second Super Bowl is well within reach and his consistent performance in the NFL Draft makes him one of the best sideline generals in the league. His career winning percentage (66.1) trails only Mike Smith and the Harbaugh brothers among active NFL coaches.

4. Sean Payton, New Orleans
Record: 62-34 Playoffs: 5-3 Age: 49

The Saints' 7-9 record last season might be all the data we need to evaluate Payton. The Saints were 37-11 in the three seasons prior to Payton being suspended. The bottom line is New Orleans had one playoff win in five total postseason trips in four decades prior to his arrival in 2006. He has led this team to the playoffs four times in six seasons and last year’s 7-9 record was the team’s first losing record since 2007. He has a Super Bowl title, ranks sixth in the league among active coaches in winning percentage (64.6) and isn’t yet 50 years old.

5. Tom Coughlin, New York Giants
Record: 151-121 Playoffs: 12-7 Age: 66

The hard-nosed Coughlin has two Super Bowl championships and is seventh all-time with 12 career postseason wins. He is the oldest coach in the league, and after 17 seasons, won’t be around for too much longer. He has seven total division titles in his career but has won 10 or more games just once in the last four years. He may never be viewed as one of the league’s greatest but he is consistent and has overcome plenty of adversity.

6. John Harbaugh, Baltimore
Record: 54-26 Playoffs: 9-4 Age: 50

The Ravens coach supplemented himself as one of the league’s elite coaching talents with a Super Bowl championship in just his sixth season. He’s never missed the playoffs, never posted a losing record, won three AFC North titles and is one playoff win away from becoming just the 16th NFL coach in history with 10 postseason victories. He trails only Mike Smith and Jim Harbaugh in career winning percentage (67.5).

7. Mike Smith, Atlanta
Record: 56-24 Playoffs: 1-4 Age: 54

Other than Jim Harbaugh, who hasn’t coached enough games to technically qualify, no active coach wins at a higher rate than the Falcons leader. He is currently fifth all-time behind John Madden, Vince Lombardi, George Allen and Guy Chamberlin with a 70.0-percent winning clip. He finally got his first playoff win but still needs to prove himself amongst the league’s best by finishing a season by competing for the Lombardi Trophy. He’s never had a losing season and is 36-12 over the last three years.

8. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh
Record: 63-33 Playoffs: 5-3 Age: 41

One of the younger coaches in the league, Tomlin won a Super Bowl championship in just his second season as a 36-year old. He got back to the big game in his fourth season at the age of 38 but lost to the Packers. He has never had a losing season and has four AFC North titles in six years. He is coming off of his worst year as a coach last fall (8-8). So despite all his past success, Tomlin is facing pressure to return his team to the postseason this fall as the rest of the Steelers' divisional foes wins championships and improves.

9. Jeff Fisher, St. Louis
Record: 149-128-1 Playoffs: 5-6 Age: 55

His 149 wins rank 19th all-time and is fourth among active coaches. He has won four division titles and took the Oilers/Titans franchise to its one and only Super Bowl — which they fell one yard short of winning. He is a no-nonsense guy who was run out town by a meddling owner in Nashville before landing in St. Louis. He appears to be rebuilding a once dormant franchise by bringing his signature physicality to every aspect of the team. From 1996-2008, Fisher had just three losing seasons.

10. Mike Shanahan, Washington
Record: 167-125 Playoffs: 8-6 Age: 60

Shanny’s first two seasons in D.C. were rough as he went 11-21 before finally reaching the postseason last year due in large part to Robert Griffin III. He is the second winningest active coach with 167 wins, which is good for 12th all-time in NFL history, and is one of 13 coaches to claim two Super Bowl titles. Shanahan posted one losing season from 1996-2005 but has just one 10-win season since 2006 and has to prove last year was the rule rather than the exception.

11. Andy Reid, Kansas City
Record: 130-93-1 Playoffs: 10-9 Age: 55

From 1961 to 1998, when Reid was hired in Philadelphia, the Eagles made 10 postseason appearances. Under Reid, the Eagles went to the playoffs nine times in an 11-year span. The divorce between Reid and the Eagles, however, was an amicable one for both as the 55-year old coach quickly landed back in the league with the Chiefs. If he can turn a two-win team around in short order, it will only help validate his 130 regular season wins and 10 postseason victories.

12. Gary Kubiak, Houston
Record: 59-53 Playoffs: 2-2 Age: 52

How many franchises have just two head coaches in team history? After Dom Capers posted four straight losing seasons in the Texans' first four years, Kubiak was hired and in just his second year, set a franchise record for wins (8). He has continued to build this team and has a winning record in three of the last four years. He has led the Texans to back-to-back playoff appearances and back-to-back seasons with at least one playoff win. The next step is finishing in the postseason.

13. John Fox, Denver
Record: 94-82 Playoffs: 6-5 Age: 58

The proud and normally dominant AFC franchise had fallen on hard times, winning no more than nine games in any season from 2006-11. Enter Fox, who has returned the Broncos to the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. Originally, he took over the Panthers in 2002 and immediately built a winner by taking Carolina to its only Super Bowl in just his second year. He lacks the consistency of the game’s elite and has one glaring black-eye — his 2-14 2010 campaign. But he also has four seasons with at least 11 wins, five division titles and just four career losing seasons. He is a hard-nosed coach that we will learn more about once Peyton Manning retires.

14. Pete Carroll, Seattle
Record: 58-54 Playoffs: 3-4 Age: 61

As a college coach, he is a Hall of Famer who completely dominated the West Coast for the better part of a decade. As an NFL coach, his final legacy is still left to be decided. He had two winning seasons as the Patriots' head coach (1996-98) after one bad year in New York (Jets, 1994). It has taken three years but he has Seattle poised to be a Super Bowl contender this season. Will his laid-back, players-first attitude last in the grind-it-out NFL world?

15. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati
Record: 79-80-1 Playoffs: 0-4 Age: 54

Lewis is a bit of an enigma. He is one of the longest tenured coaches in the NFL as he enters his 11th season in Cincinnati. He has taken a franchise used to playing the role of whipping boy and turned them into a playoff contender. He has been in the postseason three of the last four years and has just three losing seasons as a head coach. His overall record is still under .500 and he has yet to win a playoff game. Should that all change in 2013, he could find himself as a top-10 NFL coach in short order.

16. Leslie Frazier, Minnesota
Record: 16-22 Playoffs: 0-1 Age: 54

After three seasons, Frazier is still a big unknown as an NFL coaching commodity. He has two full seasons under his belt with one utter 3-13 failure and one mild 10-6 playoff success. He did an excellent job last year and has done good work in the draft to rebuild his aging defense, but 2013 is a critical year for both Frazier and his starting quarterback Christian Ponder — who he hand-picked to run his team.

17. Greg Schiano, Tampa Bay
Record: 7-9 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 47

Many look at the Bucs as a downtrodden NFC doormat, however, the Bucs have had three winning seasons in the last six years and made the playoffs seven times since 1997. The flip side of this is that Tampa Bay hasn’t been to the postseason since 2007, something Schiano aims to rectify this fall. He is largely responsible for building Rutgers from an also-ran to a league contender in college and took a 4-12 Bucs team and improved them by three games (7-9). Will his tough-nosed style work for a team that is starting to stockpile a deep and talented roster?

18. Jason Garrett, Dallas
Record: 21-19 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 47

No coach will be under more scrutiny this fall than Garrett but that comes with the territory as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. He has produced back-to-back 8-8 seasons after his predecessor, Wade Phillips, posted three winning seasons in four years. And each of the past two seasons have ended with losses in games in which a win would have sent Dallas to the postseason. This franchise has a meddling owner and has won one playoff game since 1996, so Garrett is on an extremely short leash.

19. Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis
Record: 2-2 Playoffs: 0-1 Age: 52

Pagano isn’t the first former Ravens defensive coordinator to land a big-time NFL coaching job. He dealt with a cancer scare during his first season and only registered five total games on the sidelines in 2012. His two wins did come against playoff teams (Houston and Minnesota), but Pagano also lost his first postseason game. His coaching staff has been rebuilt but he is leading a great organization with a future Hall of Famer under center.

20. Joe Philbin, Miami
Record: 7-9 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 52

The Fish have made the playoffs just one time since 2001 and fans in South Florida are hoping Philbin is the answer. He helped the Packers win a Super Bowl, go 15-1 and coached an Aaron Rodgers-powered offense from 2007-12. The Dolphins had some impressive wins over Cincinnati and Seattle last year en route to a respectable 7-9 season. With a team lacking in upside talent, Philbin deserves credit for a solid first year. That means expectation levels might be higher in Year 2.

21. Rex Ryan, New York Jets
Record: 34-30 Playoffs: 4-2 Age: 50

There aren’t too many NFL coaches with Rex Ryan’s resume.  He has a winning record after four seasons with two trips to the AFC Championship game. But his locker room has more crazies than "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest," he is in the NFL’s biggest media market and has a quarterback situation that is a punch line for the second straight season. Many believe he is a lame duck in 2013.

22. Mike Munchak, Tennessee
Record: 15-17 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 53

Munchak is a lifer for the Oilers-Titans organization. He was a Hall of Fame offensive lineman and hasn’t coached for another organization since retiring in 1993. He took a slight step back in year two, going from nine wins in 2011 to six wins last year, and made changes on his coaching staff. Much of his potential will be tied to the health and productivity of Jake Locker. Is he simply a company man who was given the job almost by default or a legitimate long-term head coach? 

23. Bruce Arians, Arizona
Record: 9-3 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 60

He won AP Coach of the Year last fall after filling in for Pagano during his battle with leukemia, going 9-3. He has won two Super Bowls as an assistant with Pittsburgh and has had his hands on some great quarterbacks (Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck). He is a solid offensive mind but is one of the older new coaches in the league.

24. Marc Trestman, Chicago
Record: 0-0 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 57

Trestman comes to the NFL after winning two Grey Cup titles in the Canadian Football League. He hasn’t been in the NFL since 2004 and there is concern about his ability to unite a locker room. However, his offenses have been incredibly successful and early reports are that the players are enjoying his leadership thus far.

25. Chip Kelly, Philadelphia
Record: 0-0 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 49

In just seven years Kelly has gone from offensive coordinator at New Hampshire to OC at Oregon to head coach at Oregon to head coach of the Eagles. His innovative and unapologetic style is why he went 46-7 in four seasons as the head coach in Eugene. But it remains to be seen if his offense can be successful at the NFL level.

26. Doug Marrone, Buffalo
Record: 0-0 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 49

Opponents of Syracuse came away battered and bruised no matter the outcome. He built a physical brand of football at the Cuse and is bringing that — and an up-tempo offense — to Buffalo. He has a solid track record as an NFL assistant and is a native of New York. But there is a reason the Bills haven’t made the playoffs since 1999.

27. Mike McCoy, San Diego
Record: 0-0 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 41

McCoy makes the intradivisional jump from OC of the Broncos to head man in San Diego. He has shown adaptability with both Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning running his offenses in the postseason the last two seasons. He is the second-youngest coach in the league and should be able to improve on the previous regime.

28. Jim Schwartz, Detroit
Record: 22-42 Playoffs: 0-1 Age: 47

The 2011 season featured big numbers on offense, 10 wins and a trip to the postseason. The other three seasons, Schwartz is 12-36 as a head coach. This team has weapons and should show improvement or Schwartz will find himself a defensive coordinator once again.

29. Rob Chudzinski, Cleveland
Record: 0-0 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 45

The Browns have new ownership and plenty of new faces on the roster. That includes Coach Chud, a 45-year old making his head-coaching debut at any level. Pat Shurmur was fired after just two years (9-23) for an organization that has made the playoffs just once (2002) since returning to the NFL.

30. Dennis Allen, Oakland
Record: 4-12 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 40

It is virtually impossible to accurately rate Allen’s job in an organization in such disarray. This team has no quarterback, finished 26th on offense and 28th on defense last year. He won’t last long in Oakland but it’s impossible to see his tenure with the Raiders as a fair measuring stick.

31. Ron Rivera, Carolina
Record: 13-19 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 51

His long slow rise culminated when he got his first head coaching job for Carolina as a 49-year old two seasons ago. He drafted Cam Newton and has won six and seven games respectively. He needs to win in Year 3 to keep his job.

32. Gus Bradley, Jacksonville
Record: 0-0 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 47

The Minnesota native made his NFL coaching debut in 2006 as the Bucs linebackers coach. He has quickly moved through the ranks, by way of defensive coordinator in Seattle, to his first head-coaching job. Best of luck in Jacksonville.

Teaser:
Ranking All 32 NFL Head Coaches in 2013
Post date: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 07:45
Path: /college-football/patience-virtue-10-teams-need-lower-expectations-2013
Body:

College football is back, folks. Fans should be giddy with excitement from Coral Gables to Lake Washington.

Teams in Columbus, Eugene, Palo Alto, Austin, Louisville and basically every college town in the SEC are preparing for a run at the final BCS National Championship. Others in Madison, Berkeley and Lubbock are delirious with anticipation of exciting new head coaches.

“Hope springs eternal,” “everyone is undefeated,” and “anything can happen on any given Saturday” can be heard all over the place. And rightly so. There is no more anticipated time of the year than when the calendar flips from August to September.

That doesn’t mean that certain teams don’t need to take a deep breath and rethink reality. Everyone has a right to be excited about their team but only one can claim the national championship, only 10 will win a conference championship and only 12 will land in a BCS bowl.

That leaves a lot of disappointed fan bases come December. And since self-awareness is one of the most underrated aspects of being a sports fan, I thought I’d let a few teams down easy on the front end.

Here are 10 teams that are highly combustible and should lower expectations. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean the teams below will have “bad” seasons. It means, relative to expectations, fans might want to be prepared for some degree of disappointment.

UCLA
Jim Mora has one season of college coaching under his belt and a great quarterback in Brett Hundley. But he also has no offensive skill players returning, an extremely young offensive line and a completely rebuilt secondary. This team is talented but has to play four games on the road against preseason ranked AP teams — Nebraska, Stanford, Oregon and USC. UCLA also has to play Washington and Arizona State at home. The media picked the Bruins to win the Pac-12 South Division for the third straight season but this team will be lucky to win eight games this fall.

Louisville
Here is the deal with the Cardinals. They have elite, long-term leadership at key positions, namely athletic director Tom Jurich and head coach Charlie Strong, and will move into a much better league next year. Teddy Bridgewater is an elite quarterback, the defense returns largely intact and the schedule is extremely manageable. But there is a good chance that even with a perfect 12-0 season, that the Cardinals will be left out of the BCS title game. With a razor-thin margin of error, fans in Louisville should be prepared for a potential snub at year’s end.

Clemson
The Tigers are the clear-cut front-runner to win the ACC championship this fall. But this team has won a league title just once in the last 21 seasons despite consistently having one of the most talented rosters in the league. Clemson faces No. 5 Georgia, No. 6 South Carolina and No. 11 Florida State as well as typically tricky (for Clemson, at least) road games with NC State and Maryland. This team is stacked on offense and talented as usual everywhere else. But questions still loom large for a defense that ranked 63rd and 71st nationally in total defense the last two seasons. Would anyone really be that shocked if Clemson finished the year with at least three losses?

Vanderbilt
James Franklin has elevated the expectation levels at Vanderbilt in just two seasons. He has posted the two best seasons in school history and appears to have assembled the most talented roster in school history. But this program is still struggling to sell tickets and has had to deal with a community-shaking rape investigation that could cost the team as many as five scholarship players. Top it off with four games against top-10 preseason AP teams as well as games with Ole Miss, Tennessee and Missouri. An unprecedented third bowl game is certainly possible but another nine-win season is highly unlikely. Credit the coaching staff for growing expectations but the 2013 team could quickly become a victim of its own success.

TCU
The Frogs are probably the best-coached team in the Big 12, have easily the best defense and might boast the best quarterback. That said, the Frogs hadn’t lost a conference game since November 2008 (24-0) before it dropped five of nine Big 12 tests last year. Gary Patterson’s bunch will face four teams ranked in the preseason top 16 and have a daunting road slate: at Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Kansas State. And that doesn’t include the Frogs' sneaky good arch rival from Waco. There is a lot to like about this team but it's hard to see TCU winning the Big 12.

Texas A&M
This team is going to be really, really good if Kevin Sumlin can continue to recruit over the next half decade like he has in his first 18 months on the job. One great player can pull a historic upset on any given Saturday as the nation saw last year, but it takes an entire team stacked with elite players to win an SEC title. The schedule isn’t all that daunting but the defense has major holes and key road games with LSU and Ole Miss will be challenging. Johnny Manziel can handle the pressure of his off-the-field behavior and it won’t impact his play, but the same cannot be said for the other 84 guys on scholarship. The word championship shouldn’t be in the mix for a team that needs more time to develop into an SEC power.

LSU
Les Miles has consistently fielded a roster that can compete for the BCS National Championship and a fan base that expects excellence. But with one of the toughest schedules in the nation and mediocre quarterback play, this team clearly won’t be one of his best. There is tons of young talent on defense that should develop into one of the nation’s best units… in 2014. And while the O-line is outstanding and the wideouts are explosive, Zach Mettenberger threw an atrocious five touchdown passes in eight SEC games last year. There is no way the Tigers can beat Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia and Florida with that type of offensive production. This team might finish second in the West but won’t be near the BCS conversations like in years past.

Texas
This is the most talented roster in the Big 12. It has a veteran quarterback who is entering his third season as the starter. It has a head coach who has led his team to two BCS National Championship Games, including one win for the ages. But this team is soft and the 11-15 Big 12 record over the last three years proves it. Rivalry games are a great indicator of effort, coaching and commitment and the Longhorns have quit by the end of the first quarter in each of the last two losses to Oklahoma. The Sooners have embarrassed the Horns 118-38 the last two years.

USC
The starting 22 for USC is as talented as any in the nation, including the two-time defending BCS champs. But from 23-85, the Trojans have major issues. Depth will always be a concern for a team with reduced scholarships, but few saw the six-loss debacle of last year coming. This team is once again ranked in the preseason and Lane Kiffin is beginning to feel the heat beneath his rear end. A quarterback battle that could rage through the first half of the season only adds to the uncertainty. Missing Oregon helps and this team should be improved but 10 wins feels out of the question, despite playing 13 regular season games this fall.

Ole Miss
At Vanderbilt, Texas, Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State. Texas A&M, LSU, Arkansas and Missouri at home. That is what Hugh Freeze and his extremely young Rebels face in 2013. Even a veteran SEC team would struggle with that slate. If fans in The Grove are expecting to challenge the big boys in the West, they got another thing coming. If Freeze can repeat his recruiting performance from last cycle a few more times, however, that narrative will change in a hurry.

Related: College Football's Best New Rivalries

Other teams that need to pump the brakes this fall:

Arkansas
The roster is seriously depleted and the Hogs will finish right where they are predicted: Last in the SEC West.

UCF
The Knights are taking a major step up in competition and some are predicting big things in 2013. That’s a mistake.

Kentucky
Mark Stoops has things pointed in the right direction, but hold your horses Big Blue Nation. This one will take time.

The State of Oklahoma
How many starting quarterbacks are there exactly in this state? Questions on defense also should be concerning for Sooner and Cowboy fans.

The Mountain West
Fresno State and Boise State are awesome but an unbeaten champ will get snubbed. Mark it down.

Related College Football Content

College Football Bowl Projections for 2013
Top 10 Darkhorses to Win the National Title
The Top 100 Players of the BCS Era

College Football's All-Name Team for 2013
College Football's Top 10 Underrated Quarterbacks

Teaser:
10 College Football Teams That Need To Lower Expectations in 2013
Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 07:14
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-50-must-see-games-2013
Body:

Kansas State and Baylor was the most important game in the Big 12 last year. It was Texas A&M that upset Alabama last fall, not LSU. Stanford surprised the nation by knocking off Oregon in Eugene. And Florida State battled Clemson for the right to play (and win) the ACC championship. It goes to show that anything can happen on any weekend and it's why college football is the greatest sport on the planet.

Many of those games will once again be marquee, must-see showdowns in 2013. Division, conference and national championships hang in the balance each and every weekend of the college football season. But tracking 125 teams in 10 different conferences can be overwhelming, so Athlon Sports has ranked the top 50 games you don't want to miss this fall.

So plan accordingly.

College Football's Top 50 Games of 2013:

  Dates RoadHomeThoughts
1.Sept 14Alabama at Texas A&M: The game everyone has been talking about for over a year will happen within the first three weeks. This game has everything a fan could possibly want: the BCS defending champ, the defending Heisman winner, Nick Saban, College Station and SEC West championship implications. It will be the highest-rated college game of the year.
2.Nov 7Oregon at Stanford: The level of importance surrounding this game can not be overestimated. A division, league and potential national championship could be on the line in what should be the best non-SEC game of the year.
3.Nov 30Ohio State at Michigan: The best rivalry game in college football could have national title implications — maybe, for both teams. Brady Hoke got Big Blue off the schneid with a win in 2011 but is still facing a 1-8 stretch against that school from Ohio.
4.Sept 7South Carolina at Georgia: South Carolina has won three straight in the series, including a big win in Athens in 2011, and the winner has a clear path to Atlanta. However, the Dawgs have lost this game and still won the East in each of the last two years.
5.Nov 9LSU at Alabama: These two will meet for the fourth time in a 24-month period. LSU won the last time it visited T-Town (9-6 in OT) but has been undone by AJ McCarron in two games since. This will be as physical a game as there is in the nation again.
6.Oct 12Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas): Three of the last four winners of the Red River Shootout have gone on to win a share of the Big 12. The Horns have lost three straight and the last two by a combined score of 118-38.
7.Nov 23Texas A&M at LSU: These regional rivals have met 51 times and fans tend to forget that LSU stymied the Heisman winner last year. After losing five straight to the Aggies in the '90s, LSU has beaten TAMU in each of the last two calendar years.
8.Nov 2Georgia vs. Florida (Jacksonville, Fla.): After Florida owned this series from 1990-2003, Georgia has bounced back with four wins in eight years. The Dawgs have won the last two meetings but needed some late heroics to win 17-9 last fall.
9.Oct 19Florida State at Clemson: This game could easily decide not only the ACC Atlantic Division but also the ACC title and possibly even a spot in the final BCS title game. The home team has won this game six years in a row.
10.Dec 7Oklahoma at Oklahoma State: The winner of the Bedlam Series has won a share of the conference crown in three straight seasons. The Sooners have lost just once to the Pokes since 2002 (9-1). This will be the third time in four seasons that they will play in Stillwater.
11.Aug 31Georgia at Clemson: An old-school, deep-south rivalry is renewed when these two get together on the first Saturday of the year. Georgia has won five straight over the Tigers dating back to 1991.
12.Nov 16

Florida at South Carolina: The Gators crushed Carolina 44-11 last year in Gainesville and have historically dominated the series. However, the Gamecocks won the battle in 2010 and '11. This is a huge revenge game for Carolina, one with major SEC implications.

13.Sept 28LSU at Georgia: These two haven't met in the regular season since 2009 but have played three times in the SEC title game since '03. LSU has won the last two meetings by a combined score of 62-23 — both in the Peach State.
14.Nov 9Nebraska at Michigan: The winner of this game will likely win the Legends Division this fall and it has turned into a great new rivalry. The home team has won both times in Big Ten play after Michigan crushed the Huskers at home in 2011.
15.Nov 30Notre Dame at Stanford: The Irish won last year's meeting with a historic goal-line stand that ended a three-year winning streak for the Cardinal. This will be as physical a game as there is in the nation and could carry massive BCS implications by season's end.
16.Oct 12Florida at LSU: One of the most physical games each season will feature two highly ranked teams again. LSU is 3-2 in its last five at home against the Gators and lost last year in Gainesville. This is a potential SEC elimination game.
17.Sept 7Notre Dame at Michigan: Michigan has won three straight over the Irish at home and has had no issue scoring — 37.0 ppg in those games. That said, Notre Dame won 13-6 last year in the lowest scoring meeting of the two since 1909 (14 pts).
18.Nov 16Oklahoma State at Texas: The Horns own the all-time series record at 23-4 but Okie State has won the last two in Austin. Texas won 41-36 last year in Stillwater.
19.Nov 30Clemson at South Carolina: The Garnett and Black have dominated this series of late, winning four straight with relative ease. The Tigers haven't won in Columbia since 2007 and will likely be an underdog heading into this critical regular-season finale for both.
20.Sept 28Oklahoma at Notre Dame: The Sooners have won once in 10 tries against the Irish with that win coming in South Bend back in 1956 (40-0, at that). This game should carry some large BCS bowl implications. Notre Dame won 30-13 last year in Norman.
21.Nov 2Miami at Florida State: Finally, one of the nation's best rivalries will carry heavy ACC title implications. Florida State has won three straight in relatively easy fashion and six out of the last eight overall.
22.Nov 30Florida State at Florida: After getting crushed in 2010 and '11 by the Noles, Florida bounced back last year with an impressive 37-26 win in Doak Campbell. This one could also feature two 10-win teams as it did last year. The juice appears to be back in this famous rivalry.
23.Sept 28USC at Arizona State: This game should likely decide the South Division champion as the Sun Devils will look to reverse recent history. Arizona State won 43-22 in Tempe two years ago but has lost every other meeting since 1999 (1-12).
24.Nov 30UCLA at USC: One of the West Coast's top rivalries has some added intrigue as it too could decide the South Division on the season's final weekend. UCLA broke a five-game losing streak to USC last year at home and will look for a repeat performance on the road this fall.
25.Nov 30Alabama at Auburn: The SEC's best rivalry, The Iron Bowl, has provided the last four national champions. Bama has won four out of five in the series and will enter this meeting a heavy favorite.
26.Dec 5Louisville at Cincinnati: The Cardinals held on for a tight 34-31 win last year but the Bearcats had won four straight in the series prior. The regular-season finale could be the lone speed bump for Louisville and Tommy Tuberville would love to spoil the party.
27.Sept 28Wisconsin at Ohio State: Barry Alvarez was one of the few coaches with Jim Tressel's number but, of late, Ohio State has turned the tables. Wisconsin hasn't won in Columbus since 2004 and is 1-5 in its last six overall against the Buckeyes.
28.Oct 19LSU at Ole Miss: LSU has won nine of the last 11 meetings, including a 52-3 win in Oxford back in 2011. That said, Ole Miss has won two of the last five overall and could be in prime position for an upset.
29.Oct 12Michigan at Penn State: Penn State has vacated each of the last three meetings but that doesn't change the fact Michigan, on its own accord, hasn't beaten the Lions since 2007. These two haven't met since a 2010 contest in Happy Valley.
30.Nov 23Arizona State at UCLA: The Devils haven't won in Pasadena since '07 and have lost three of the last four in this series overall. The Bruins won a memorable showdown 45-43 last year in Tempe. There is just as much riding on this one in 2013. 
31.Oct 26Texas at TCU: Texas lost just once from 1967 to 2007 but TCU is 1-0 against the Horns in Big 12 competition after winning 20-13 last year in Austin.
32.Nov 16Stanford at USC: Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll are no longer around but this budding rivalry is no less important. The Cardinal have won five out of the last six in what has turned out to be a high-scoring affair. The winning team has averaged 41.4 points over the last eight games in this series.
33.Oct 19USC at Notre Dame: One of the game's most historic and prestigious rivalries is renewed in mid-October. USC played well without Matt Barkley last fall, losing 22-13 at home. A loss in South Bend could indicate a changing of the guard in this battle as it would be the Trojans third in four years to the Irish.
34.Aug 31LSU vs. TCU (Arlington, Texas): The Bayou Bengals are 5-2-1 all-time against TCU, including five straight wins dating back to 1943. However, these two haven't met since LSU won 10-7 back in 1968.
35.Oct 12Texas A&M at Ole Miss: These two have played just five times — twice in College Station, once in Jackson, Oxford and Beaumont, Texas. The Aggies will have to visit Oxford for the second year in a row, however, after a quality effort from the Rebels in 2012.
36.Nov 2Michigan at Michigan State: One of the more underrated rivalries has been a game of streaks. Michigan won six straight from 2002-07 before MSU won four straight over their in-state rival. The Wolverines hope to start another streak after winning 12-10 last year in Ann Arbor.
37.Sept 20Boise State at Fresno State: As good as both teams are, only one will even have a chance to finish the regular season undefeated thanks to this head-to-head matchup in September. A rematch in the inaugural MWC championship game also is a real possibility.
38.Nov 30Georgia at Georgia Tech: Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate might be the best named rivalry in the nation. However, Tech hasn't been able to hang with the SEC of late, losing four straight and 11 of the last 12 overall.
39.Nov 16Michigan at Northwestern: Michigan has won 10 of the last 12 meetings and hasn't lost in Evanston since 2000. However, the Wildcats fought hard last year in a 38-31 road loss and this game could mean a division title for both.
40.Nov 23Nebraska at Penn State: A gift from realignment has been this budding new rivalry. Nebraska has won both Big Ten meetings, but both games have been close contests. If Husker fans are looking for an upset alert, it may come in this game.
41.Sept 7Florida at Miami: Al Golden has ACC title hopes but, make no mistake, beating an in-state SEC team is as important as any game the 'Canes will play this year. Especially, at home in Week 2.
42.Nov 28Ole Miss at Mississippi State: Dan Mullen rattled off three straight wins in impressive fashion before Hugh Freeze got to Oxford last year. The Rebels won 41-24 last year at home and will have to go on the road on Thanksgiving this time around.
43.Aug 31Boise State at Washington: Washington will unveil its gorgeous new home digs when it welcomes a ranked Boise State to town in Week 1. These two have met only twice before, which includes a rematch of last year's Las Vegas Bowl, in which the Broncos won 28-26.
44.Nov 9Virginia Tech at Miami: Tech has to travel south to play Miami two years in a row after a 30-12 defeat last year. However, the Hokies had won five out of six against the Hurricanes prior to that. This could provide a career-defining moment for Logan Thomas.
45.Oct 5Ohio State at Northwestern: The Buckeyes are 28-1 in their last 29 meetings against the Wildcats with the one loss coming in Evanston 33-27 in 2004. Should the Bucks get upset somewhere along the line, this could be as good a chance as any.
46.Oct 17Miami at North Carolina: Interestingly, no team has ever NOT won at least two in a row in this 16-game series. That means North Carolina should win again following the 18-14 road win in South Florida a year ago.
47.Oct 19Georgia at Vanderbilt: The 'Dores don't have a huge home slate this fall but the Bulldogs will be a marquee upset chance. UGA has won six straight but Vandy has consistently played tough in this series at home.
48.Oct 5Georgia at Tennessee: Georgia has cost itself special seasons in Neyland before and this game was a tightly played game in Athens last year. Georgia has won three in a row and four out of five overall in this series.
49.Oct 19South Carolina at Tennessee: Tennessee owns the all-time record at 22-7-2 but has fallen on tough times of late, losing four of the last five. However, this was a close game last year and could be one of the tougher road tests for the Gamecocks this fall.
50.Oct 5TCU at Oklahoma: TCU has upset the Sooners in Norman before, winning there twice in its last three trips (1996, 2005). The Sooners outlasted the Frogs 24-17 in Fort Worth last year.

Related Football Content: 

The Top 25 Big Ten Games to Watch in 2013
The Top 30 SEC Games to Watch in 2013
The Top 25 ACC Games to Watch in 2013
The Top 25 Big 12 Games to Watch in 2013
The Top 25 Pac-12 Games to Watch in 2013
 

Teaser:
College Football's Top 50 Must-See Games of 2013
Post date: Friday, August 23, 2013 - 08:01
Path: /college-football/college-football-realignments-best-new-rivalries
Body:

Realignment has developed a negative connotation recently. The dollar amounts associated with college football have increased dramatically over the last two decades and that has sped up the realignment process to unprecedented rates. But realignment has, and always will, be a massive part of college football.

I just want to know why everyone thinks this is such a bad thing?

This season, the Houston Astros moved from the National League to the American League — and they don't even play the same sport — NASCAR has a "post-season" playoff now and the NFL continues to morph all the time. Every major American sport has gone through structural changes over time. These changes come in all different shapes and sizes and have been taking place for over a century. Have we all forgotten when Nebraska, Oklahoma and Grinnell College played conference games in the Big 8? Or when University of Chicago battled Michigan and Wisconsin in the Big Ten?

College football's recent game of dominoes was certainly something that got accelerated due to a heightened sense of profit, but that doesn't have to be a considered a step backwards for the fans.

The winner of the Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech game had won the Coastal Division championship every year of the modern ACC until last year (even though the Yellow Jackets still actually played in the ACC title game). Those two became divisional rivals in 2004 when the Hokies arrived from the Big East after having met one time in history (1990) before coming to the ACC. The bout has continuously pitted football's version of perfection, the triple option, with the most tenured defensive coaching staff in the nation. It's one of the more anticipated ACC games each season and the 2013 version could very easily decide one half of the conference title game once again.

And to stick up for Georgia Tech, how many SEC teams have a national championship and five SEC titles like the Ramblin' Wreck? Here's a hint: Seven. The ACC got a number of new rivalries in the big wave of early 2000s realignment when powerhouses like Miami and Virginia Tech joined. And the one that matters the most — Miami and Florida State — might finally be rounding into form and should be intensified by adding conference implications.

Nebraska and Penn State have played a total of 15 times in their championship-rich histories. But these two have played just four times since 1983, including the last two seasons as Big Ten conference foes. The Huskers are third all-time with 821 wins in 114 seasons of play. Penn State is fifth all-time with 813 wins in 120 years. Even the perfect red, white and blue color contrast jumps off the field when they meet in two of the most storied venues in college football.

How is this not a blessing of realignment?

While we are talking about the corn-fed Big Red, why not mentioned the dairy-fed Big Red, the Hawkeyes, Golden Gophers and winged helmets of Michigan. Penn State might be the best new rivalry with the Huskers, but Minnesota and Nebraska go back nearly 100 years and both Iowa and Wisconsin provide excellent regional rivalries as well. And the Michigan-Nebraska game will likely decide the Legends Division championship this fall and could be a future Big Ten championship game matchup. Sign me up.

Related: The Big Ten's Top 25 Games to Watch in 2013

TCU has a long-standing feud with now-fellow Big 12 underling Baylor and it has only been strengthened behind two emerging coaching heavyweights. Additionally, the Horned Frogs are beginning to build up some animosity with conference foes by playing a physical brand of football (it's called defense). Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia could learn a thing or two about getting stops from Gary Patterson's bunch. And despite it resulting in more purple than should ever be on one field, TCU-Kansas State should be a great game as long as Bill Snyder is on the Wildcats' sideline. Speaking of Morgantown, West Virginia'a addition might feel a bit odd from a geographic standpoint, but the team's track record of offensive prowess fits in perfectly with the Big 12. Over time, fans on both sides will be looking forward to bouts against NCAA blue bloods Oklahoma and Texas.

Related: The Big 12's Top 25 Games to Watch in 2013

Out west, Colorado will, at some point, become relevant again after proving it can win at a championship level in the '90s. But the more interesting rivalry developing out west is the entire BYU schedule. The recent move to independence drew some criticism as experts questioned whether or not the Cougars would be able to build a strong enough schedule to break into the national title picture. As it turns out, BYU will play a November non-conference game at Wisconsin this year — something that hasn't happened since 2009 in Madison. It also is hosting Texas, Georgia Tech, Utah and Boise State while visiting Notre Dame and Virginia in addition to the Badgers. The Cougars have won a lot of games under Bronco Mendenhall and are always playing high-profile matchups. And just watch, as Boise State, Fresno State and Utah continue to elevate their status in the college football hierarchy, their rivalries will continue to grow in intensity.

Related: The Pac-12's Top 25 Games to Watch in 2013

Lastly, there is the SEC West, that division responsible for the last four BCS national champions. The idea of Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Texas A&M beating the absolute snot out of each other for the next three decades should make even the most stoic fans giddy with joy. One could argue that three of those teams combine for three of the top four games in the SEC this fall. In fact, the most anticipated Game of the Century of the Year wouldn't take place this year if the Aggies hadn't left the Big 12. These are the most talent-rich, well-coached and physical battles in the nation each season and adding Texas A&M has actually improved on a product that was already sitting atop the throne of college football. Even the rise of former expansion team South Carolina — even if it was 20 years later — has made the future of the SEC East that much stronger as well.

Related: The SEC's Top 30 Games to Watch in 2013

Still to come in the very near future are intriguing new ACC rivalries with growing power Louisville and pseudo-member Notre Dame. Love them or hate them, playing Notre Dame is good for business and good for your strength of schedule. The Irish simply move the needle and that is great news for many, if not every, ACC program. Louisville, particularly in basketball, will provide some seriously historic coaching bouts over the next few seasons. There is little doubt that with great leaders in the right places, the ACC is finally beginning to close the gap with the rest of college football's big boys. And one of the most important reasons has been realignment.

To top it all off, the old rivalries that seem to be dying at the hands of evil realignment — Kansas-Missouri, Texas-Texas A&M, Pitt-West Virginia, BYU-Utah — could all be played if pride and money don't come in the way. Not only would those type of games sell tickets and attract viewers, they would help those teams build a more attractive strength of schedule when it comes to the new College Football Playoff. Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds could put the Lone Star State Rivalry back together again if he really wanted to.

And who doesn't want to see Snookie in a yearly recruiting war with McNulty and Stringer Bell when Rutgers and Maryland land in the same division in the newly aligned Big Ten next year?

Teaser:
College Football: Realignment's Best New Rivalries
Post date: Friday, August 23, 2013 - 07:10
Path: /college-football/secs-top-30-games-watch-2013
Body:

The most anticipated Game of the Century of the Year of the Universe the last two years in all of college football was Alabama vs. LSU. Well, as it turned out, last year’s Bama-LSU game might have been the most entertaining game in the series’ long history.

But it was the second-best game in the division last year.

Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel set the NCAA world on fire with a last-minute upset for the ages over the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. So in a league with the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, multiple ACC-SEC rivalries, historic cross-overs and nationally relevant SEC East bouts, it will be Nick Saban vs. Johnny Football that tops the must-see TV menu in the SEC this fall.

Related: The SEC Coaches Give Anonymous Scouting Reports on the SEC

  Dates RoadHomeThoughts
1.Sept 14Alabama at Texas A&M: The game everyone has been talking about for over a year will happen within the first three weeks. This game has everything a fan could possibly want: the BCS defending champ, the defending Heisman winner, Nick Saban, College Station and SEC West championship implications. It will be the highest-rated college game of the year.
2.Sept 7South Carolina at Georgia: South Carolina has won three straight in the series, including a big win in Athens in 2011, and the winner has a clear path to Atlanta. However, the Dawgs have lost this game and still won the East in each of the last two years.
3.Nov 9LSU at Alabama: These two will meet for the fourth time in a 24-month period. LSU won the last time it visited T-Town (9-6 in OT) but has been undone by AJ McCarron in two games since. This will be as physical a game as there is in the nation again.
4.Nov 23Texas A&M at LSU: These regional rivals have met 51 times and fans tend to forget that LSU stymied the Heisman winner last year. After losing five straight to the Aggies in the '90s, LSU has beaten TAMU in each of the last two calendar years.
5.Nov 2Georgia at Florida: After Florida owned this series from 1990-2003, Georgia has bounced back with four wins in eight years. The Dawgs have won the last two meetings but needed some late heroics to win 17-9 last fall.
6.Nov 16

Florida at South Carolina: The Gators crushed Carolina 44-11 last year in Gainesville and have historically dominated the series. However, the Gamecocks won the battle in 2010 and '11. This is a huge revenge game for Carolina, one with major SEC implications.

7.Sept 28LSU at Georgia: These two haven't met in the regular season since 2009 but have played three times in the SEC title game since '03. LSU has won the last two meetings by a combined score of 62-23 — both in the Peach State.
8.Aug 31Georgia at Clemson: An old-school, deep-south rivalry is renewed when these two get together on the first Saturday of the year. Georgia has won five straight over the Tigers dating back to 1991.
9.Oct 12Florida at LSU: One of the most physical games each season will feature two highly ranked teams again. LSU is 3-2 in its last five at home against the Gators and lost last year in Gainesville. This is a potential SEC elimination game.
10.Nov 30Alabama at Auburn: The SEC's best rivalry, The Iron Bowl, has provided the last four national champions. Bama has won four out of five in the series and will enter this meeting a heavy favorite.
11.Nov 30Clemson at South Carolina: The Garnett and Black have dominated this series of late, winning four straight with relative ease. The Tigers haven't won in Columbia since 2007 and will likely be an underdog heading into this critical regular-season finale for both.
12.Nov 30Florida State at Florida: After getting crushed in 2010 and '11 by the Noles, Florida bounced back last year with an impressive 37-26 win in Doak Campbell. This one could also feature two 10-win teams as it did last year. The juice appears to be back in this famous rivalry.
13.Oct 19LSU at Ole Miss: LSU has won nine of the last 11 meetings, including a 52-3 win in Oxford back in 2011. That said, Ole Miss has won two of the last five overall and could be in prime position for an upset.
14.Oct 12Texas A&M at Ole Miss: These two have played just five times — twice in College Station, once in Jackson, Oxford and Beaumont, Texas. The Aggies will have to visit Oxford for the second year in a row, however, after a quality effort from the Rebels in 2012.
15.Oct 19Georgia at Vanderbilt: The 'Dores don't have a huge home slate this fall but the Bulldogs will be a marquee upset chance. UGA has won six straight but Vandy has consistently played tough in this series at home. 
16.Nov 28Ole Miss at Mississippi State: Dan Mullen rattled off three straight wins in impressive fashion before Hugh Freeze got to Oxford last year. The Rebels won 41-24 last year at home and will have to go on the road on Thanksgiving this time around.
17.Oct 5Georgia at Tennessee: Georgia has cost itself special seasons in Neyland before and this game was a tightly played game in Athens last year. Georgia has won three in a row and four out of five overall in this series.
18.Oct 19South Carolina at Tennessee: Tennessee owns the all-time record at 22-7-2 but has fallen on tough times of late, losing four of the last five. However, this was a close game last year and could be one of the tougher road tests for the Gamecocks this fall.
19.Nov 30Georgia at Georgia Tech: Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate might be the best named rivalry in the nation. However, Tech hasn't been able to hang with the SEC of late, losing four straight and 11 of the last 12 overall.
20.Nov 16Georgia at Auburn: The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry is dead even at 54-54-8 all-time. Auburn has been slammed by UGA (combined score of 83-7) the last two years but the Tigers should be much improved, especially near the end of the season.
21.Aug 29Ole Miss at Vanderbilt: This is one of the biggest first-weekend games to watch nationally. SEC and bowl implications could very well be on the line for both teams. The Rebels choked away a key home win against Vanderbilt a year ago.
22.Sept 7Florida at Miami: Al Golden has ACC title hopes but, make no mistake, beating an in-state SEC team is as important as any game the 'Canes will play this year. Especially, at home in Week 2.
23.Nov 23Vanderbilt at Tennessee: The in-state rivalry has picked up some extra fuel of late. The 'Dores won last year for just the second time since 1982 and it will be a key late-season swing game for both this fall.
24.Oct 5LSU at Mississippi State: The Tigers have won 13 straight in this series and 20 of the last 21 meetings. The last win for the Bulldogs came at home in 1999. 
25.Sept 21Tennessee at Florida: The game that used to determine the SEC champion in the '90s has lost some luster as the Gators have dominated. Florida has won eight straight over the Vols.
26.Oct 26Tennessee at Alabama: The Third Saturday in October has been relegated way down the list of marquee SEC showdowns in recent years. Bama has won six straight, most by more than three scores.
27.Aug 31LSU vs. TCU (Arlington, Texas): The Bayou Bengals are 5-2-1 all-time against TCU, including five straight wins dating back to 1943. However, these two haven't met since LSU won 10-7 back in 1968.
28.Oct 5Ole Miss at Auburn: The Rebels have beaten the Tigers just five times since 1971 but last year's 41-20 drubbing was one of them. This time around these two old-school Southern programs will meet on The Plains.
29.Aug 29North Carolina at South Carolina: The Shrine Bowl, for lack of a better term, will come right out of the gate on the first Thursday of the season. South Carolina should be considered a heavy favorite.
30.Sept 14Ole Miss at Texas: The Horns are 6-1 all-time against the Ole Miss, including a 66-31 thumping in Oxford last season. The Rebs' only win came in the 1958 Sugar Bowl.

The Next 15:

Nov. 9: Auburn at Tennessee
Sept. 21: Auburn at LSU
Oct. 26: South Carolina at Missouri
Aug. 31: Mississippi State vs. Oklahoma State (Houston)
Aug. 31: Virginia Tech vs. Alabama (Atlanta)
Sept. 14: Mississippi State at Auburn
Oct. 19: Florida at Missouri
Oct. 19: Auburn at Texas A&M
Nov. 30: Arkansas at LSU
Nov. 2: Tennessee at Missouri
Nov. 2: Mississippi State at South Carolina

Nov. 23: Mississippi State vs. Arkansas (Little Rock)
Aug. 31: Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky (Nashville)
Nov. 2: Auburn at Arkansas
Sept. 14: Louisville at Kentucky


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Teaser:
The SEC's Top 25 Games to Watch in 2013
Post date: Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/big-tens-top-25-games-watch-2013
Body:

Many believe that a renewal of the 10-Year War between Ohio State and Michigan could be the only thing that saves the Big Ten. While there is no need to add pressure to an already elite, if not the nation’s best, rivalry game, the season finale this fall carries some extra weight.

The Buckeyes and Wolverines both have national title aspirations as each is predicted to win their respective division. This would mean that not only would the Scarlet and Gray face the Maize and Blue twice in one season, it would mean they would play on back-to-back weekends.

One can only hope.

Meanwhile, the three-time defending champion Badgers, as well as the Nittany Lions, Cornhuskers, Wildcats and Spartans, believe they belong in the title mix as well. It should create two great round-robins in both divisions.

Related: The Big Ten Coaches Give Anonymous Scouting Reports on the Big Ten

  Dates RoadHomeThoughts
1.Nov 30Ohio State at Michigan: The best rivalry game in college football could have national title implications — maybe, for both teams. Brady Hoke got Big Blue off the schneid with a win in 2011 but is still facing a 1-8 stretch against that school from Ohio.
2.Nov 9Nebraska at Michigan: The winner of this game will likely win the Legends Division this fall and it has turned into a great new rivalry. The home team has won both times in Big Ten play after Michigan crushed the Huskers at home in 2011.
3.Sept 7Notre Dame at Michigan: Michigan has won three straight over the Irish at home and has had no issue scoring — 37.0 ppg in those games. That said, Notre Dame won 13-6 last year in the lowest scoring meeting of the two since 1909 (14 pts).
4.Sept 28Wisconsin at Ohio State: Barry Alvarez was one of the few coaches with Jim Tressel's number but, of late, Ohio State has turned the tables. Wisconsin hasn't won in Columbus since 2004 and is 1-5 in its last six overall against the Buckeyes. 
5.Oct 12Michigan at Penn State: Penn State has vacated each of the last three meetings but that doesn't change the fact Michigan, on its own accord, hasn't beaten the Lions since 2007. These two haven't met since a 2010 contest in Happy Valley.
6.Nov 2

Michigan at Michigan State: One of the more underrated rivalries has been a game of streaks. Michigan won six straight from 2002-07 before MSU won four straight over their in-state rival. The Wolverines hope to start another streak after winning 12-10 last year in Ann Arbor.

7.Nov 16Michigan at Northwestern: Michigan has won 10 of the last 12 meetings and hasn't lost in Evanston since 2000. However, the Wildcats fought hard last year in a 38-31 road loss and this game could mean a division title for both.
8.Nov 23Nebraska at Penn State: A gift from realignment has been this budding new rivalry. Nebraska has won both Big Ten meetings, but both games have been close contests. If Husker fans are looking for an upset alert, it may come in this game.
9.Oct 5Ohio State at Northwestern: The Buckeyes are 28-1 in their last 29 meetings against the Wildcats with the one loss coming in Evanston 33-27 in 2004. Should the Bucks get upset somewhere along the line, this could be as good a chance as any.
10.Nov 16Michigan State at Nebraska: The Huskers have never lost to Michigan State. Ever. Nebraska is 7-0 all-time with a convincing 24-3 blowout the last time these two met in Lincoln (2011). And that was a Legends Division championship MSU team.
11.Nov 2Northwestern at Nebraska: This is slowly becoming one of the most entertaining games in the Big Ten after two electric showdowns the last two seasons. In fact, Northwestern won the last time they visited Lincoln, 28-25 in 2011.
12.Oct 26Penn State at Ohio State: Counting the vacated 2010 meeting, these two powerhouses are nearly tied at 15-13 all-time. Penn State has won two of the last three in the Horseshoe, however.
13.Nov 30Penn State at Wisconsin: The Badgers are 3-1 in the last four at home against the Nittany Lions. This game was a major blowout for years for both sides but was an OT classic last year in Happy Valley.
14.Nov 23Michigan State at Northwestern: This game will determine who challenges Michigan and Nebraska in the Legends Division. Sparty won four straight before Northwestern pulled the upset in East Lansing last fall.
15.Sept 21Michigan State at Notre Dame: This historic tandem will meet for the 77th time this fall. The Irish have won three out of four, including the last two at home following a bizarre road team trend from 2001-07.
16.Oct 12Northwestern at Wisconsin: The Wildcats have played spoiler for UW in years past and that role could be reversed in 2013. The home team has won six straight in the series.
17.Sept 14Wisconsin at Arizona State: The fourth-ever meeting between these two could feature plenty of revenge for Arizona State. J.J. Watt and the Badgers won 20-19 in a back-and-forth historic showdown in Madison in 2010.
18.Sept 14UCLA at Nebraska: These two have played just once since 1994, a 36-30 UCLA win in Pasadena last year. The Huskers will be looking for big-time revenge early in the year here. 
19.Nov 23Wisconsin at Minnesota: The most-played rivalry in college football will be renewed for the 123rd time. Bret Bielema never lost to the Gophers, as Wisconsin has won nine straight in the series.
20.Oct 5Penn State at Indiana: Indiana will pull off an upset this fall and a home game against Penn State early in the year is a prime location. And Indiana should be extremely hungry considering they are 0-16 all-time against Penn State.
21.Oct 12Indiana at Michigan State: Indiana is fighting for every win it can get in 2013, but also is capable of competing with anyone. If Sparty's not careful, the Hoosiers could pull off a surprise in East Lansing.
22.Nov 26Nebraska at Minnesota: An old rivalry was renewed once the Big Red joined the Big Ten two years ago. These two have met 53 times and the Gophers are 20-12-2 all-time at home against the Huskers. However, Nebraska has won 16 straight overall in the series dating back to 1963.
23.Nov 2Wisconsin at Iowa: This rivalry got put on hold briefly but is still one of the league's best. It also is a great home upset chance for an embattled Kirk Ferentz. This series is tied 42-42-2.
24.Sept 21Missouri at Indiana: Wait, what is a non-conference game between two 5-7 teams doing on this list? Well, a win over an SEC team could mean a bowl game for the improving Hoosiers.
25.Nov 9BYU at Wisconsin: These two programs have only played once before, a 1980 28-3 win by BYU in Madison. Both teams are used to winning and this should be an intriguing, rare, late-season non-conference game for the Badgers.

The Next 10:

Aug. 31: Northwestern at Cal
Sept. 14: Ohio State at Cal
Nov. 2: Ohio State at Purdue
Nov. 29: Iowa at Nebraska
Oct. 5: Minnesota at Michigan
Sept. 14: Notre Dame at Purdue
Sept. 14: Iowa at Iowa State
Nov. 30: Purdue at Indiana
Sept. 7: Syracuse at Northwestern
Aug. 31: Syracuse vs. Penn State (East Rutherford, N.J.)

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Teaser:
The Big Ten's Top 25 Games to Watch in 2013
Post date: Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/big-12s-top-25-games-watch-2013
Body:

The Baylor Bears cost the Big 12 a lot of money last year.

That’s because late on a November Saturday night, Art Briles’ group put an absolute beat down on the then-unbeaten Kansas State Wildcats 52-24. The loss knocked Bill Snyder’s squad and the Big 12 out of the BCS National Championship Game discussion. It was the most important game of the season in the Big 12 last fall and it didn’t involve Oklahoma or Texas. With the emergence of offensive wizards in Stillwater, Morgantown, Lubbock and Waco, the Big 12 is much more balanced in 2013 than possibly ever before. This is the most wide-open league in the nation and could be one of the more exciting ones to watch all season.

Having said all of that, the most important game this fall will likely take place in a familiar place with familiar faces.

Related: The Big 12 Coaches Give Anonymous Scouting Reports on the Big 12

  Dates RoadHomeThoughts
1.Oct 12Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas): Three of the last four winners of the Red River Shootout have gone on to win a share of the Big 12. The Horns have lost three straight and the last two by a combined score of 118-38.
2.Dec 7Oklahoma at Oklahoma State: The winner of the Bedlam Series has won a share of the conference crown in three straight seasons. The Sooners have lost just once to the Pokes since 2002 (9-1). This will be the third time in four seasons that they will play in Stillwater.
3.Nov 16Oklahoma State at Texas: The Horns own the all-time series record at 23-4 but Okie State has won the last two in Austin. Texas won 41-36 last year in Stillwater.
4.Oct 26Texas at TCU: Texas lost just once from 1967 to 2007 but TCU is 1-0 against the Horns in Big 12 competition after winning 20-13 last year in Austin.
5.Oct 5TCU at Oklahoma: TCU has upset the Sooners in Norman before, winning there twice in its last three trips (1996, 2005). The Sooners outlasted the Frogs 24-17 in Fort Worth last year.
6.Sept 28

Oklahoma at Notre Dame: The Sooners have won once in 10 tries against the Irish with that win coming in South Bend back in 1956 (40-0, at that). This game should carry some large BCS bowl implications. Notre Dame won 30-13 last year in Norman.

7.Oct 19TCU at Oklahoma State: When the Cowboys won 36-14 at home last year it marked the first meeting between the two since 1993. Okie State hasn't won in Fort Worth since 1947 so it's a good thing this one comes at home again this year.
8.Dec 7Texas at Baylor: A Big 12 title could be hanging in the balance as the Bears close Floyd Casey Stadium for the final time. Texas is 13-2 in its last 15 against Baylor, but the Longhorns are 1-2 in the last three, thanks to a 56-50 win in Austin last year.
9.Nov 23Oklahoma at Kansas State: The Sooners have won four straight over the Wildcats in Manhattan with the last home KSU win in the series coming back in 1996. The Sooners played well in a 24-19 home loss to Kansas State last year.
10.Nov 16TCU at Kansas State: Last year marked the first meeting between the two since 1986 as KSU won 23-10 in Fort Worth. It was the first win for KSU in the series in four tries and it tied the all-time record at 3-3 between the two.
11.Nov 7Oklahoma at Baylor: The Crimson and Cream are 21-1 all-time against Baylor with Robert Griffin III's memorable 45-38 win being the only blemish in the series for Oklahoma.
12.Oct 26Oklahoma State at Iowa State: No one in Stillwater has forgotten what took place the last time these two got together in Ames. The Pokes have won just twice in their last eight trips to Iowa State (2-5-1). 
13.Aug 31TCU vs. LSU (Arlington, Texas): The Bayou Bengals are 5-2-1 all-time against TCU, including five straight wins dating back to 1943. However, these two haven't met since LSU won 10-7 back in 1968.
14.Sept 21Kansas State at Texas: Bill Snyder has had Mack Brown's number, as KSU has won five straight against the Longhorns dating back to 2003. This stretch includes two wins in a row in Austin.
15.Sept 7Texas at BYU: These two have only met three times with BYU winning both ends of a home-and-home in 1987-88. Texas barely won the last meeting 17-16 in Austin in 2011.
16.Oct 5Kansas State at Oklahoma State: Kansas State didn't lose to the Pokes from 1990-2002 (9-0) but have lost four of the last six in the series. In fact, Oklahoma State has won three straight at home over the Wildcats.
17.Sept 14Ole Miss at Texas: The Horns are 6-1 all-time against the Ole Miss, including a 66-31 thumping in Oxford last season. The Rebs' only win came in the 1958 Sugar Bowl.
18.Nov 30Baylor at TCU: This underrated rivalry has been played 108 times with TCU holding a slight 51-50-7 all-time edge. TCU has won four out of the last five, including two straight at home.
19.Nov 23Baylor at Oklahoma State: The Cowboys are 15-2 in the last 17 meetings with Baylor but the Bears won 41-34 last year at home. The last time Baylor won in Stillwater, however, was way back in 1939.
20.Aug 31Oklahoma State vs. Mississippi State (Houston): These two have met just four times with the home team winning all three true home games. The Bulldogs won in Jackson, Miss., in 1970 and the last meeting in 1999 in Starkville.
21.Nov 2Oklahoma State at Texas Tech: Tech owns the all-time series record 16-21-3 but the Pokes have won four straight, including two in a row in Lubbock. Prior to that, however, the Red Raiders were 12-2-2 in Lubbock against Okie State.
22.Sept 12TCU at Texas Tech: Tech has been strong against TCU of late, winning 11 of the last 14 meetings, including a bizarre 56-53 showdown in Fort Worth last year. TCU hasn't won in Lubbock since 1991. 
23.Sept 28Oklahoma State at West Virginia: The Dana Holgorsen Bowl ended with a 55-34 Cowboys win last year in the first meeting between the two programs since 1987.
24.Nov 9Texas at West Virginia: These two have played only twice, scoring 13 total points in 1956 and 93 total points in 2012. West Virginia won both meetings, including the 48-45 showdown in Austin last year.
25.Oct 5West Virginia at Baylor: The one and only meeting came last year and it featured 133 points and 1,507 total yards of offense. There were 13 passing touchdowns and six rushing scores in that 70-63 WVU home win.

The Next 10:

Oct. 12: Baylor at Kansas State
Sept. 14: Iowa at Iowa State
Oct. 3: Texas at Iowa State
Nov. 9: TCU at Iowa State
Nov. 16: Baylor vs. Texas Tech (Arlington, Texas)
Sept. 21: Maryland vs. West Virginia (Baltimore)
Sept. 7: West Virginia at Oklahoma
Nov. 28: Texas Tech at Texas
Nov. 2: West Virginia at TCU
Oct. 26: West Virginia at Kansas State

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Teaser:
The Big 12's Top 25 Games to Watch in 2013
Post date: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/5-notre-dame-impact-freshmen-watch-2013
Body:

This should be where we insert the name Gunner Kiel and be done with it.

But the former No. 1 quarterback recruit in the nation isn’t playing football at Notre Dame any longer. He is at Cincinnati. But had he stuck around, and, redshirted like he was supposed to, Kiel would likely be the starting quarterback of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

That, of course, is because the Notre Dame's star freshman last fall, quarterback Everett Golson, is also no longer with the team after academic issues removed him from the 2013 equation.

So no Kiel and no Golson? What is Brian Kelly to do?

His improbable 2012 run to the BCS National Championship Game was premature. It was a magnificent season that will go down in Irish lore as one of the greats. But it was ahead of schedule as Kelly has yet to have a roster of nothing but his own players. Well, that day is coming soon and the rest of college football has been placed on notice.

Kelly has finished 11th, 17th and 3rd nationally in recruiting according to Athlon Sports' team rankings in each of his full years on the job in South Bend. His latest haul was his most impressive and it is loaded with names who will help contribute to the defending national runner-up.

And it could be headlined by yet another redshirt freshman quarterback.

Greg Bryant, RB
The No. 46-rated prospect in the nation was the No. 8-rated running back recruit in the nation and he should play plenty right out of the gate. He has rare playmaking ability to go with a solid 200-pound frame that can withstand the beating of a 200+ touch season. George Atkinson III can fly and score from anywhere but it remains to be seen if he can be a workhorse back and that is where Bryant could shine as a true freshman.

Jaylon Smith, LB (pictured)
The overall No. 2-rated freshman in the nation, behind only Robert Nkemdiche, is expected to see time in the Irish front seven this fall. He is a rangy 6-foot-3, 220-pound hybrid outside linebacker and defensive end. He should see plenty of spot duty on special teams and third downs where Kelly can utilize his excellent ability to get up the field off the edge. On a stacked Irish defensive front, Smith could easily work his way into the regular rotation.

Malik Zaire, QB
There are no guarantees with any true freshman quarterback but it appears Zaire will be on the big roster this fall. That is because he brings a skill set to the offense that Kelly craves from his quarterback. Tommy Rees has experience and should start the year under center and Andrew Hendrix is hanging around too, but neither can do the things Zaire can. Should the offense struggle to outscore quality opponents — like, Michigan, Oklahoma or Arizona State — Zaire’s ability to move around and make plays might be too intriguing to keep off the field. He has a similar type of game as Golson and Kelly has shown he will go with the youngster if it gives his team the best chance to win.

Max Redfield, S
The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder is a missile in the secondary and should see plenty of early playing time as a true freshman. The No. 6-rated defensive back prospect in the nation was one of Kelly’s prized gems of this class from Mission Viejo, Calif. The safety brings a physicality and intimidation to a defensive backfield that already has plenty of talent at every position. Additionally, don’t be shocked if Redfield’s rare athleticism is used on offense as well.

Corey Robinson, WR
This Irish receiving class is one of the best in the nation with names like Torii Hunter Jr., James Onwualu and William Fuller joining Robinson in the four-man haul. Robinson, at 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds, enrolled early and has loads of upside in the red zone and down the field. Look for him to see time this fall in order to prepare himself to take over as the No. 1 in 2014.

Related: Notre Dame Cheerleader Gallery

Jarron Jones, DE
Highly touted prospect just missed top-100 status and should contribute as a redshirt.

James Onwualu, WR
From famed Cretin-Derham Hall, Onwualu brings solid intangibles and an advanced football IQ.

Steve Elmer, OL
Top-100 prospect enrolled early this spring and could be a key reserve this fall.

Mark Harrell, OL
The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Charlotte native will be a key interior offensive line reserve this fall.

C.J. Prosise, WR
A big-bodied 6-foot-2, 220-pounder who could provide some help in the passing game.

Teaser:
5 Notre Dame Impact Freshmen to Watch in 2013
Post date: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/pac-12s-top-25-games-watch-2013
Body:

The Oregon Ducks were 33-3 in Pac-12 play under former head coach Chip Kelly. He won three conference championships in those four seasons and played in the school’s only BCS National Championship Game. Stanford was the cause of two of those three losses and it cost the Ducks not only a Pac-12 title last year but a possible national championship as well.

That is a trend new head coach Mark Helfrich is looking to change. He knows full well that road trips to Washington and Arizona will be tricky and extremely important as will home tests with Oregon State, UCLA and Cal. But Thursday night, Nov. 7, 2013 has been a date Ducks have had circled since falling 17-14 in overtime to the Cardinal last fall.

Stanford won the North, won the Pac-12 and won the Rose Bowl because it outlasted Oregon in Autzen Stadium that night.

So there should be no doubt as to what the biggest game in the Pac-12 will be in 2013:

Related: The Pac-12 Coaches Give Anonymous Scouting Reports on the Pac-12

  Dates RoadHomeThoughts
1.Nov 7Oregon at Stanford (Thurs.): The level of importance surrounding this game can not be overestimated. A division, league and potential national championship could be on the line in what should be the best non-SEC game of the year.
2.Sept 28USC at Arizona State: This game should likely decide the South Division champion as the Sun Devils will look to reverse recent history. Arizona State won 43-22 in Tempe two years ago but has lost every other meeting since 1999 (1-12).
3.Nov 30UCLA at USC: One of the West Coast's top rivalries has some added intrigue as it too could decide the South Division on the season's final weekend. UCLA broke a five-game losing streak to USC last year at home and will look for a repeat performance on the road this fall.
4.Nov 23Arizona State at UCLA: The Devils haven't won in Pasadena since '07 and have lost three of the last four in this series overall. The Bruins won a memorable showdown 45-43 last year in Tempe. There is just as much riding on this one in 2013. 
5.Nov 16Stanford at USC: Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll are no longer around but this budding rivalry is no less important. The Cardinal have won five out of the last six in what has turned out to be a high-scoring affair. The winning team has averaged 41.4 points over the last eight games in this series.
6.Nov 30

Notre Dame at Stanford: The Irish won last year's meeting with a historic goal-line stand that ended a three-year winning streak for the Cardinal. This will be as physical a game as there is in the nation and could carry massive BCS implications by season's end.

7.Oct 26Stanford at Oregon State: The Cardinal are just 2-4 in their last six trips to Corvallis but Stanford has owned the Beavers of late. Stanford has won three straight by a combined score of 103-36, but OSU closed the gap a year ago, losing 27-23 in Palo Alto.
8.Oct 19USC at Notre Dame: One of the game's most historic and prestigious rivalries is renewed in mid-October. USC played well without Matt Barkley last fall, losing 22-13 at home. A loss in South Bend could indicate a changing of the guard in this battle as it would be the Trojans third in four years to the Irish.
9.Sept 21Arizona State at Stanford: Arizona State has won just once (2007) in its last six trips to Palo Alto and this early-season game could be a Pac-12 title game preview. These two haven't met since a 17-13 Cardinal win in Tempe back in 2010.
10.Oct 26UCLA at Oregon: The Ducks have won four straight and nine of the last 11 against UCLA. And these games haven't been close. Oregon has outscored the Bruins 164-78 in the last four meetings and the final outcome hasn't been within one score since 2008.
11.Oct 12Oregon at Washington: The Huskies have lost nine straight to the Ducks and have allowed more than 40 points in six of the last eight. Steve Sarkisian needs to prove that his program has closed the wide gap between his Huskies and one of the Pac-12's perennial contenders and this is a prime spot for a home upset.
12.Oct 19UCLA at Stanford: Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw have owned UCLA, winning the last five meetings with the Bruins by a combined score of 166-76. Shaw's bunch pulled off the rare two-game sweep during the same season last year in Pasadena and then again in the Pac-12 title game. 
13.Nov 29Oregon State at Oregon (Fri.): The Civil War has been dominated by the Ducks of late, who have won five straight in the rivalry. In fact, only once since 2007 has this game been decided by one score or less (2009).
14.Nov 23Washington at Oregon State: These two will likely battle for third place in the North — but the winner could possibly get to 10 wins. The home team has won the last four meetings over the last four years.
15.Nov 1USC at Oregon State (Fri.): After winning every meeting from 1968-99 (25-0), the Beavers have become a thorn in the Trojans' side (see 2006, '08, '10). In fact, the last time these two met, the Beavers embarrassed USC 36-7 in Corvallis.
16.Aug 31Boise State at Washington: Washington will unveil its gorgeous new home digs when it welcomes a ranked Boise State to town in Week 1. These two have met only twice before, which includes a rematch of last year's Las Vegas Bowl, in which the Broncos won 28-26.
17.Oct 5Washington at Stanford: A budding North Division rivalry, Washington upset Stanford 17-13 on a buzzing Thursday night in Seattle last year. The hard-hitting battle left a bad taste in the mouth for Stanford and revenge will be on the minds of the Cardinal.
18.Oct 5Arizona State vs. Notre Dame (Arlington, Texas): These two have met just twice ever with the Irish winning both legs of the home-and-home in 1998-99. The fast track in Jerry's World could give ASU a great chance at a feather-in-the-cap upset in October.
19.Sept 21Utah at BYU: The best-named rivalry in college football will be interrupted following 2013 for the first time since 1945 and it only adds fuel to The Holy War fire. Neither team has a championship-caliber squad but the action should be great as they won't meet again until 2016. 
20.Nov 30Arizona at Arizona State: Strangely enough, the road team has won the last four Duels In the Desert, including a 41-34 shootout victory by ASU in Tucson last year. The home team should be the favorite this year but the Wildcats will be at their best at year's end. 
21.Nov 16Oregon State at Arizona State: Arizona State dominated this series in the 1980s and '90s but the Beavers have since bounced back with wins in four of the last five meetings. Oregon State scored 36 points in a home win over ASU and revenge will be a big factor.
22.Oct 19Washington at Arizona State: After winning seven straight against the Huskies dating back to 2001, the all-time series is now tied 15-15. These two haven't met since the Sun Devils won 24-14 in Seattle in 2010.
23.Sept 14Wisconsin at Arizona State: The fourth-ever meeting between these two could feature plenty of revenge for Arizona State. J.J. Watt and the Badgers won 20-19 in a back-and-forth historic showdown in Madison in 2010.
24.Nov 23Cal at Stanford: The Big Game, due to poor play from Cal, has been relegated to relative obscurity for Cardinal fans this fall. However, new coach Sonny Dykes will learn all about one of the game's best rivalries in 2013. Stanford has won three straight against the Golden Bears.
25.Nov 29Washington State at Washington (Fri.): The Apple Cup was all but won for the Huskies last year before a furious late comeback gave the Cougars a shocking 31-28 overtime win. The improbable victory snapped Wazzu's three-game losing streak against its in-state rivals.

The Next 10:

Nov. 9: UCLA at Arizona
Nov. 23: Oregon at Arizona
Nov. 9: Arizona State at Utah
Oct. 19: Oregon State at Cal
Sept. 28: Arizona at Washington
Oct. 10: Arizona at USC
Nov. 15: Washington at UCLA
Oct. 12: Stanford at Utah
Sept. 14: Tennessee at Oregon
Aug. 31: Northwestern at Cal

Related College Football Content
Pac-12 Football Predictions for 2013
Pac-12 2013 All-Conference Team
Bowl Projections for 2013
Pac-12's Pivotal Players to a Conference Championship

The Pac-12's Top Heisman Contenders for 2013
College Football's All-Freshman Team for 2013
College Football's 2013 All-America Team 

Teaser:
The Pac-12's Top 25 Games to Watch in 2013
Post date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 07:10
Path: /college-football/accs-top-25-games-watch-2013
Body:

Who would have thought that North Carolina State hosting Florida State would have been the most important game in the ACC in 2012?

That thrilling, nail-biting, fourth-down-converting loss to the Wolfpack in a crazed Carter-Finley Stadium hurt the Seminoles in the national championship picture. It was the biggest, most impactful game of the entire ’12 campaign for any team in the ACC.

With both Clemson and Florida State eyeing a spot in the final BCS National Championship Game and a completely wide open Coastal Division race on the other side of the league, fans should have plenty to watch this fall along the Atlantic seaboard. No, this league isn’t as powerful as the SEC or as successful as the Pac-12 or as lucrative as the Big Ten, but it is closing the gap quickly.

And with two new teams added to the mix in 2013, every weekend is sure to entertain. Here are the top 25 must-see games of the year in the ACC:

Related: ACC Coaches Give Anonymous Scouting Reports on the ACC

 

  Dates RoadHomeThoughts
1.Oct 19Florida State at Clemson: This game could easily decide not only the ACC Atlantic Division but also the ACC title and possibly even a spot in the final BCS title game. The home team has won this game six years in a row.
2.Aug 31Georgia at Clemson: One of the most anticipated moments in Death Valley history happens right out of the gate. An old-school rivalry will be renewed when two top 10 teams battle in Week 1.
3.Nov 2Miami at Florida State: Finally, one of the nation's best rivalries will carry heavy ACC title implications. Florida State has won three straight in relatively easy fashion and six out of the last eight overall.
4.Nov 30Clemson at South Carolina: Yet another chance for the ACC to prove itself against the mighty SEC. However, this one could have BCS title implications for both teams. Clemson needs to stop the bleeding after losing four straight to Carolina in ugly fashion.
5.Nov 30Florida State at Florida: The Noles and Gators played a hard-fought, grown-man's game a year ago in which the Gators put their foot on the throat of their ACC rival. This game could feature two top-10-15 teams.
6.Sept 21Florida at Miami: After six straight wins for The U, Florida crushed the Canes in 2006 — the last time these two met. Florida's corners going up against Stephen Morris is one of the more intriguing games within the games in any ACC game. A win could begin to change national perception.
7.Nov 9Virginia Tech at Miami: Tech has to travel south to play Miami two years in a row after a 30-12 defeat last year. However, the Hokies had won five out of six against the Hurricanes prior to that. This could provide a career-defining moment for Logan Thomas.
8.Oct 17Miami at North Carolina (Thurs.): Interestingly, no team has ever NOT won at least two in a row in this 16-game series. That means North Carolina should win again following the 18-14 road win in South Florida a year ago.
9.Nov 30Georgia at Georgia Tech: The third of three national perception games with the nation's best conference. The Dawgs, however, have won four straight 11 of the last 12 in one of the best named rivalries in the nation: "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate."
10.Oct 5Florida State at Pitt (Mon.): There is plenty to watch in this Labor Day showdown. The ACC gets a national showcase for the debut of Jameis Winston at quarterback for Florida State and for the Paul Chryst-led Panthers in their first ACC game in history.
11.Oct 5Georgia Tech at Miami: The Hurricanes' young, talented but questionable defense will be challenged by Paul Johnson's triple option. However, Miami can keep up, having won four straight by scoring an average of 33.5 points per game.
12.Sept 26Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech (Thurs.): This game has decided the Coastal Division crown in all but one season of ACC play — last year. It has gone the way of the Hokies seven of nine total ACC games.
13.Aug 31Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (Atlanta): Logan Thomas has a chance to send a shot heard 'round the college football world. He has the talent but does the rest of his team stand a chance against the two-time defending champs?
14.Sept 21North Carolina at Georgia Tech: Georgia Tech has dominated the series since 1998, winning 13 of the last 15 meetings (2004, '08). Last year's contest was an offensive explosion featuring 118 combined points in a Tech 68-50 road win.
15.Oct 5North Carolina at Virginia Tech: North Carolina has won just twice since these two became ACC foes and the 2009 win had to be vacated by the Tar Heels. This was an exciting 48-34 home win in Chapel Hill last fall for UNC.
16.Aug 29North Carolina at South Carolina (Thurs.): The SEC has won four of the last five in this SEC-ACC rival battle. However, three of the last four have been within one touchdown.
17.Nov 14Georgia Tech at Clemson (Thur.): Tech has the enviable task of visiting Death Valley twice in a row after a 47-31 loss last year. Clemson last lost at home to the Jackets in 2008.
18.Oct 26Clemson at Maryland: If you are looking for a time for Clemson to, well, Clemson itself this year, then keep an eye on its matchup against the Terps. The Tigers will host Florida State the week before and will have to find a way to avoid an upset on the road against a hard-nosed team.
19.Sept 19Clemson at NC State (Thurs.): Certainly, the Pack proved it could pull an upset at home last year and Clemson is always primed for one. However, an extra week of preparation following a home game with South Carolina State should mean a focused Tigers squad. 
20.Nov 2North Carolina at NC State: One of the better rivalries in the ACC has seen plenty of coaching turnover of late. 
21.Nov 9Notre Dame at Pitt: The Panthers played the Irish tougher than any one not named Alabama a year ago. A road rematch should be fun for both. And any time Notre Dame comes to town it is news.
22.Oct 26NC State at Florida State: A handful of four-down, fourth-quarter conversions gave NC State one of the biggest upset of the 2012 season. And the 'Noles will be looking to exact some revenge. 
23.Oct 12Georgia Tech at BYU: The Cougars are a solid team once again and playing in Provo is underratedly difficult. Tech will be seeking revenge after a 47-17 embarrassment in Atlanta last year at the hands of BYU.
24.Nov 30Virginia Tech at Virginia: The Commonwealth Cup is always a heated game in one of the league's top rivalries. The game meant a lot in 2011 and Mike London needs this to be the case once again this fall.
25.Nov 30Maryland at NC State: There isn't a whole lot of sex appeal in this one but there could be plenty on the line on the final weekend. Bowl pecking order, postseason berths or maybe even a divisional race.

Related College Football Content

Bowl Projections for 2013
12 Steps to Fix ACC Football
ACC Breakout Players for 2013
North Carolina Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Virginia Tech Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Miami Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Florida State Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Clemson Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013

ACC Predictions for 2013
ACC All-Conference Team for 2013
 

Teaser:
The ACC's Top 25 Games to Watch in 2013
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/ap-poll-where-bcs-champions-rank-preseason
Body:

When we sit down to iron out our Top 25 Poll each year at Athlon Sports, we are trying to project the final year-end standings not build a preseason power poll. It might be a small and subtle difference but an important one to acknowledge.

We don't necessarily think Louisville or Boise State is the 9th- or 11th-best team in the nation as they sit in our rankings, but rather, they will finish 9th and 11th in the final polls of the year. Frankly, I would take LSU in a best of anything series against either team but the Tigers' schedule is much more difficult and will likely result in more losses and therefore a lower postseason ranking.

Makes sense, right?

In 2013, Athlon has predicted the Alabama Crimson Tide will topple the Ohio State Buckeyes in the final BCS National Championship Game. Thus, 'Bama and OSU are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in our preseason magazine. But when trying to pick your national title winner — or pinpoint those capable of making a historic run — there are a few figures to consider.

The 2013 Preseason AP Poll is set to debut for the first time this weekend. Preseason rankings may seem arbitrary to some, in fact, many believe strongly that polls shouldn't exist until later in the year. But every one of the 15 BCS National Champions has been ranked in the preseason AP Top 25 and it has been 29 years since a team came from outside of the AP preseason Top 25 to win the AP National Championship (a controversial BYU title in 1984).

So here are some seriously intriguing factoids to consider:

Be Ranked In the Preseason Top 20
Only one team ranked outside of the AP Top 20 has ever won a BCS National Championship. The Auburn Tigers of 2010, behind junior college transfer and relative unknown commodity Cam Newton, began the year ranked No. 22 in the nation. The Tigers are the lowest ranked preseason team in the BCS era to win the title and are the first team outside of the top 20 since 1990 to even clinch a share of the title. Additionally, Oregon began 2010 outside of the top 10 at No. 11 — making that BCS National Championship game the only national title contest in the last 30+ years to feature two teams that began outside of the top 10 in the preseason polls. Notre Dame last year is the only team during the BCS era to even make it to the BCS title game without being ranked in the preseason AP Top 25.

Really Though, Be Ranked In The Top 10
Only four times in 15 years has the national champ come from outside the preseason Top 10. In addition to Auburn, Oklahoma in 2000 was ranked 19th, LSU in '03 was ranked 15th and Ohio State was ranked 13th. Only three additional teams since 1984 — Notre Dame in 1988 (13th), Michigan in '97 (14th) and Georgia Tech in '90 (UR) — have won the national title starting outside of the top 10. And Tech didn’t claim the AP title.

The Top 5 Is the Place To Be
Five of the last six national champions were ranked in the top five in the AP preseason poll. Alabama in 2009 and Florida in '08 each started the season at No. 5 — although, it should be noted that Athlon Sports had the Gators No. 1 in '08 — while LSU in '07 and both of Alabama's most recent crystal footballs were claimed by teams that were ranked second. In fact, 17 championship teams (including split titles) in the last 24 seasons began the year ranked in the top five. This means, according to Athlon Sports’ rankings, that there is a better than 70 percent chance that either Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon, Georgia or South Carolina will win the final BCS championship this year. It also means there is less than a 30 percent chance that the champion comes from the other 120 teams. Sorry, Texas A&M, Louisville, LSU and everyone else.

No. 1 Is Just... Okay
So where is No. 1 in all of this you ask? Nowhere to be found, at least, not in the last decade. The USC Trojans in 2004 were the last AP preseason No. 1 team to claim the national championship. On top of that, the preseason No. 1 team in the AP poll hasn't even played in the national title game since 2006 when Ohio State lost to Florida. In fact, since 1982, only three preseason No. 1 teams have gone on to win the title. Florida State in 1993 and '99 were the only other teams to match the ’04 Trojans' wire-to-wire dominance. Additionally, more teams have lost the national title game as preseason No. 1's than have won it during the BCS era. Yes, six trips (of 15) to the BCS title game is a respectable prediction rate — and obviously most fan bases would take a guaranteed trip to the title game — but more times than not that team loses. The AP preseason No. 1 team is 2-4 in the big game.

Related: Potential Darkhorse National Championship Sleepers

So where is the best spot to be?
No. 2 is where you want to be when the preseason AP Poll comes out. Five of the last 13 national champions began the season ranked No. 2 in the preseason, more than any other preseason ranking by a wide margin. Alabama in 2011-12, LSU in '07, Texas in '05 and Miami in '01 all won the crown beginning from the second starting spot. The preseason No. 2 team has played in the BCS National Championship Game nine times, more than any other slot. Of the 30 total BCS title game teams, 30 percent have started the season as the No. 2 team in the AP poll. The next highest spot is No. 1 with six appearances, and that position is tied with the AP preseason No. 5 team with just two BCS wins.

Where Not To Be?
The preseason number you don’t want your team to be? Third or fourth to start. No team in the BCS era has won a title beginning the year ranked No. 3 or No. 4 — despite No. 4 making three appearances in the BCS Championship Game (0-3). Florida in 1996 was the last preseason No. 4 team to claim the title and Miami in '91 was the last team ranked No. 3 in the preseason to win the big prize. So for Athlon's ranking, this presumably knocks out Oregon (No. 3) and Georgia (No. 4). During the BCS era, teams ranked preseason No. 3, No. 6, No. 8 and No. 9 have never even played in the BCS National Championship game much less won it — although, USC won the AP title in 2003 ranked No. 8 in the preseason. The No. 6-ranked team hasn't won a title since 1997 (Nebraska) and No. 9 hasn't clinched the championship since '92 (Alabama). For good measure, No. 11 hasn't won a title in the last 33 seasons.

What do all these numbers mean for college football in 2013? Maybe nothing, maybe everything. But the stats do indicate that preseason polls are extremely accurate measuring sticks when attempting to pinpoint the quest for the coveted crystal football. So buy your Athlon Sports College Football preview magazine here!

Here is a quick list of how each of the national champs have ranked in the preseason:

YearTeamAP RankBCS Runner-UpAP Rank
2012AlabamaNo. 2Notre DameUR (No. 26)
2011AlabamaNo. 2LSUNo. 4
2010AuburnNo. 22OregonNo. 11
2009AlabamaNo. 5TexasNo. 2
2008FloridaNo. 5OklahomaNo. 4
2007LSUNo. 2Ohio StateNo. 10
2006FloridaNo. 7Ohio StateNo. 1
2005TexasNo. 2USCNo. 1
2004USCNo. 1OklahomaNo. 2
2003*LSUNo. 15OklahomaNo. 1
2003*USC (AP)No. 8----
2002Ohio StateNo. 13MiamiNo. 1
2001MiamiNo. 2NebraskaNo. 4
2000OklahomaNo. 19Florida StateNo. 2
1999Florida StateNo. 1Virginia TechNo. 11
1998TennesseeNo. 10Florida StateNo. 2
1997*Michigan (AP)No. 14----
1997*NebraskaNo. 6----
1996FloridaNo. 4----
1995NebraskaNo. 2----
1994NebraskaNo. 4----
1993Florida StateNo. 1----
1992AlabamaNo. 9----
1991*Miami (AP)No. 3----
1991*WashingtonNo. 4----
1990*Colorado (AP)No. 5----
1990*Georgia TechUnranked----
1989MiamiNo. 3----
1988Notre DameNo. 13----
1987MiamiNo. 10----
1986Penn StateNo. 6----
1985OklahomaNo. 2----
1984BYUUnranked----
1983MiamiUnranked----
1982Penn StateNo. 8----

Teaser:
Where have the BCS National Champions been ranked in the preseason and what does it mean for 2013?
Post date: Friday, August 16, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/college-football-top-30-impact-freshmen-2013
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Players like LaMichael James, Marcus Lattimore, Braxton Miller and Johnny Manziel have set the bar for freshmen awfully high in recent years with elite first-year performances.

Manziel earned top frosh honors in the SEC a year ago while Oregon's Marcus Mariota, Miami's Duke Johnson, Penn State's Deion Barnes and TCU's Devonte Fields changed the landscape of their respective leagues in just one season on the field.

In the modern era of college football, the first-year player is so much more important than ever before. Key players are playing at key positions on championship-caliber teams in every conference. There are tons of freshmen not listed here that will play a big role this year but are either unknowns (ala Manziel last fall), blocked by All-Americans (looking at you Vernon Hargreaves III) or will need time to develop (looking at you Laremy Tunsil). 

So all things considered, here are the biggest impact, most important, most talented freshmen to watch in 2013:

1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Few first-year players will enter play with as much hype and expectations as the Seminoles' starting quarterback. He has been given the reins to Jimbo Fisher’s offense with eyes on a second straight ACC title. He has a huge arm, big-time intangibles, great size and has already played on a big postseason stage for the Florida State baseball team. The 'Noles will go as far as Winston can take them.

2. Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State (pictured)
There is no doubt he is the most gifted quarterback on the Penn State campus, but Hackenberg needs to prove he can handle a big-time NCAA program before he takes the reins. The delicate balance between gaining experience and ruining confidence must always be considered with true freshman quarterbacks. Hackenberg looks like a huge star in the making and he is in good hands under Bill O’Brien. The question is merely when, not if, Hackenberg takes over under center for the Lions.

3. Robert Nkemdiche, DE, Ole Miss
He was the No. 1 prospect in the nation and is drawing (unfairly) comparisons to Jadeveon Clowney. While Nkemdiche is a totally different type of defensive end than Clowney, he should have a similar impact in his first year. His work ethic and physical tools will allow him to make plays each week but he will also spend a good deal of time this year learning how to play one of the toughest positions on the field.

4. Dontre Wilson, AP, Ohio State
The Percy Harvin comparisons have run rampant during camp, but having filmed this kid last year, I can tell you the comparisons are warranted. Yes, he is 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds and will wear No. 1 in an Urban Meyer offense. But he also can score from anywhere on the field, is adept at catching the ball as well as running it and can be used in the return game. Yup, sounds like Harvin alright. Look for Meyer to get Wilson the ball early and often.

5. Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The last name should say it all. As the fourth Fuller brother to play at Virginia Tech, Kendall has five-star expectations to match his five-star talent. He is earning his way into the starting lineup in place of the injured Antone Exum. He has elite speed, quickness and football IQ and it could mean a huge first season in Blacksburg for what could be the best of the four Fuller brothers.

6. Thomas Tyner, RB, Oregon
The record-setting tailback has all of the tools to earn the starting job at Oregon as just a true freshman. Try a state-record 643 yards and 10 scores in one game on his 18th birthday last fall. He has power, speed and plenty of wiggle to fit into the Ducks' high-powered rushing attack. Expect plenty of mop-up duty early on before potentially earning workhorse status as the year goes along.

7. Kyle Kalis and Ben Braden, OL, Michigan
Kalis was the more high profile recruit and is extremely gifted in his own right, but Taylor Lewan says Braden is “the most physically gifted individual I’ve ever seen.” Kalis and Braden are slotted in as the starting guard tandem and this influx of talent along the line could push Michigan over the top as the Legends Division frontrunner.

8. Hatari Byrd, S, Oklahoma
The rumors about Byrd starting for the struggling Sooner defense have long run rampant in Norman. But as the season inches closer, those rumors are turning into facts as Byrd has seen time with the first-team defense at corner, safety and nickel back. He has great instincts and a big frame (6-1, 200) and will make a big impact in 2013.

9. Demarcus Robinson, WR, Florida
The Gators might have finally found an impact playmaker on the outside of the offense in Robinson. He is big, physical, explosive and has NFL written all over him. With injuries mounting, Robinson has a chance to play a huge role for an offense that desperately needs a go-to target in the passing game.

10. Su’a Cravens, S, USC
The No. 1 safety prospect in the nation is looking to crack the starting lineup right out of the gate. Worst-case scenario, Cravens is the top nickel back and gets plenty of chances on passing downs. He has great size and speed and, from what we learned talking with him last year, is prepared for success on the next level.

11. Tray Matthews, S, Georgia
The Bulldogs' defense is working through a major rebuild and getting Matthews onto campus in January was a huge blessing. The Athlon Consensus 100 safety is already slotted into the starting lineup for a unit that desperately needs leadership and stability after heavy turnover in the offseason. Matthews is a great athlete with excellent intangibles, so he should adjust quickly to the college speed.

12. Carl Lawson and Elijah Daniel, DE, Auburn
Physically, Lawson is ready to start opposite of Dee Ford at end for Auburn. He will battle with fellow top-100 prospect Daniel — and senior Nosa Eguae — to lock down that spot along the Tigers' front for Ellis Johnson. Short (6-2), quick and powerful (260 pounds), Lawson is developed well beyond his years and has a chance to be a special player on the Plains. Even if it is in spot duty behind Eguae.

13. Zach Kline, QB, Cal
With a few weeks to go before games kickoff, new coach Sonny Dykes hasn’t named a starting quarterback yet. Kline is battling with Jared Goff but is the more talented option and should earn the job at some point in the new future. He has big-time ability and plenty of talented playmakers around him to make an impact as a redshirt freshman.

14. Robbie Rhodes, WR, Baylor
Rhodes might be the most gifted athlete in a long line of elite Baylor wide receivers. Tevin Reese has one starting spot locked down but the big, physical Rhodes should sneak his way into the starting lineup almost immediately. He brings a bigger frame than Terrance Williams and as much athletic ability as Kendall Wright — a scary combination.

15. Jerald Hawkins and Ethan Pocic, OL, LSU
The big redshirt freshman Hawkins had a great offseason and has continued his excellent play in fall camp. After Josh Williford was hurt again, Les Miles has had to move pieces around on his front line. Hawkins could slide into a starting spot at right tackle while the 6-foot-7 Pocic, an early enrollee and top 100 recruit, could start at center.

16. Ishmael Adams, Priest Willis and Tahaan Goodman, DB, UCLA
The UCLA secondary is very, very talented but very, very young. Adams was an elite recruit in 2012 and should be the best of the group as a redshirt freshman. Willis and Goodman were both top-100 prospects nationally in this class as well. All three could be starting by season’s end — which is both good and bad news for the Bruins' pass defense.

17. Marquez North, WR, Tennessee
The Volunteers are in desperate need of playmakers at wide receiver to replace the lawfirm of Hunter, Patterson and Rogers. North has gotten rave reviews in camp thus far and has elite vertical ability and size. The top prospect in the Vols' class, North is 6-foot-4, 215 and should become the top target for whomever is playing quarterback.

18. Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE, Northwestern
As one of the highest-rated recruits to ever sign with Northwestern, Odenigbo is surrounded by a lot of hype. After a redshirt season brought on by a season-ending shoulder injury, fans in Evanston are ready to see what the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder can do fully healthy. He will bring elite athleticism to an outside pass rush that ranked 50th in the nation a year ago in sacks per game.

19. Alex Figueroa, LB, Miami
A Fork Union Military Academy product, Figueroa burst onto the scene in spring ball, earning himself a starting spot at outside linebacker. He has excellent athletic ability, toughness and rarely misreads a play. This defense was atrocious last year and Figueroa should be a big part of why it should be better in 2013.

20. Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas
There is a host of elite running backs entering the SEC this fall but Collins might have the best combination of upside, talent and opportunity. Bret Bielema’s system is run-heavy and there is little depth in the backfield blocking Collins' path to carries. Look for the 5-foot-11, 210-pound speed-power combo to play early and often for the Hogs.

Related: Biggest Impact Freshmen to Watch in the SEC in 2013

21. Derrick Green, RB, Michigan
Green’s role in Brady Hoke's pro-style offense is yet to be determined. He could easily play over 230 pounds and that would make him the go-to short-yardage and goal-line back to start. However, he wants to be much more than a complementary piece, and knowing the injury history of the Wolverines' backfield, he should be ready to shoulder the load at any point. Picking up the blitz will be the key for Green’s playing time, however.

22. LaQuan Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
The No. 1-rated wide receiver in the nation is landing in an offense that should throw the ball as much as anyone in the league. Treadwell is a monster physically and is as game-ready as any freshman at any position in the nation. He has some talent ahead of him on the depth chart but what he learns from Vince Sanders and Donte Moncrief will only help him develop into a playmaker quicker.

23. Montravius Adams, DL, Auburn
The massive 6-foot-4, 320-pound tackle likely won’t start but fans will known all about him in short order. He will wear an odd number (No. 1) for a guy weighing in at more than three spins. However, it is his play that will get him noticed on the field as he develops into one of the league’s top true nose tackles.

24. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Sure, he is listed as a running back and will get carries but he is so much more than that. He is talented enough to play H-Back, tight end, wide receiver, outside linebacker or even defensive end. But who wants to tackle 6-foot-3, 243 pounds of runner?

25. Eddie Vanderdoes, DL, UCLA
After a back and forth with Notre Dame, Vanderdoes has landed at UCLA and can play right away. And play he should as one of the most talented defensive linemen in this year's freshman class. Coming in as the No. 2-rated D-lineman in the nation, Vanderdoes should help replace the loss of Datone Jones.

26. Riley Bullough, Delton Williams and Gerald Holmes, RB, Michigan State
There are some more experienced options on the roster (e.g., Nick Hill) but it could be a freshman committee running the ball in East Lansing this year. Riley Bullough is currently the No. 1 with Gerald Holmes and Delton Williams making a strong push for time. Bullough is 230 pounds, Holmes is 215 and Williams checks in at 220. All three are in their first season on the field and all three bring a physical style that Mark Dantonio craves from his running game.

27. Taquan Mizzell, RB, Virginia
The speedy tailback should provide a much-needed spark to the Cavaliers' ground attack. Kevin Parks is an undersized, underrated running back but “Smoke” Mizzell should complement him perfectly. The freshman can score from anywhere on the field and makes defenders look silly in the open field. Look for 100-120 touches for the star first-year back.

28. Dan Voltz, C, Wisconsin
A big-time signing in the 2012 class, Voltz nearly got into the starting lineup a year ago before Bret Bielema decided to redshirt him. The talented guard-turned-pivot is now working under his third offensive line coach in 12 months and is looking to replace a star in Travis Frederick. Gary Andersen will run the ball at Wisconsin and Voltz will be an integral piece for the Badgers O-line.

29. Jonathan McLaughlin, OL, Virginia Tech
He wasn’t a five-star prospect like some other names on this list, but McLaughlin should have a similar impact. The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder should be the starter at left tackle protecting Logan Thomas in what is a critical year for all parties involved with Hokies football.

30. O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
The actual H-back position will likely be filled by Howard. The nation’s top tight end recruit needs to improve his in-line blocking but has all the tools to be a big-time player as a hybrid tight end/H-back.

Related: Biggest Impact Freshmen to Watch in the ACC in 2013

Best of the Rest:

Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson
Through graduation and injury, Leggett appears poised to snag the starting tight end role in one of the nation’s elite offenses. Dwayne Allen was a Mackey Award winner for this team two years ago, and while no one should compare Leggett to Allen just yet, the system has clearly proven to be TE-friendly. Look for big things from the 6-foot-6, 240-pound frosh.

Stacy Coley, WR, Miami
The second-fastest player on the team already, Coley has a chance to make a big impact in his first year. With a stable quarterback situation, the handsy wideout appears to be the most talented pass-catcher on the roster already. There will be growing pains, but the up-tempo offense could mean big numbers for the speedy freshman.

Shelton Gibson and Devonte Mathis, WR, West Virginia
Both youngsters appear to be slotted into, well, the slot. Tavon Austin made this position a marquee location in the West Virginia offense and these two have the potential to replace that production. Both are bigger and more physical than Austin but will have to fight their way into the starting lineup.

Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
He has dealt with a nagging groin issue this camp, but Alexander’s overall talent and a need in the secondary should force the freshman cornerback into action early. Any missed time will hurt the ever-important first month of practice for a first-year player but Mac’s raw upside and cover skills should get him on the field plenty this fall.

Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida
Starter Matt Jones has missed most of camp thus far with a "serious viral infection" and it is starting to concern Will Muschamp. The good news is an true freshman with elite NFL All-Pro pedigree has already stepped in a softened the blow. Jones should still be considered the starter but Fred Taylor's son won't be kept off the field in 2013.

Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
The No. 2 recruit in the Bears' class was this local product from Waco High School. At 6-foot and over 300 pounds, he is physically ready to compete with the Big 12’s O-line. Billings will need to adjust to the pace of play before he can start but that shouldn’t take long for this weight room warrior.

Damore’ea Stringfellow, WR, Washington
The Huskies signed a deep and talented receiving class. John Ross and Darrell Daniels should both play plenty but Stringfellow is the most gifted at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds. He will likely begin in a reserve role but should work his way into the starting lineup in short order.

Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
“Grown man” is the phrase that comes to most when watching Foster line up in the middle of the 'Bama defense. He is a physical monster and is trying to pry his way into the lineup as just a true freshman.

Robert Lewis, WR, Washington State
Mike Leach has been very open about his appreciation of Lewis’ ability. He is lightning quick and making progress every day in his quest to lock down a starting spot. He will get plenty of run in an offense known for producing big-time numbers.

Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State
There might not be a team in the nation with better starting safeties than Ohio State. And that should explain just how gifted the freshman safety could be. Bell will be used in nickel back situations and will get tons of time in mop-up duty. He flies all over the field and will be the next great Buckeyes safety.

Related: Biggest Impact Freshmen to Watch in the Big Ten in 2013

Big Name Quarterbacks To Watch:

Malik Zaire, Notre Dame
Tommy Rees is and should be the Irish starter, but Zaire has to be considered a serious threat to the steal the starting job away at some point during the year. This offense could struggle early and should it lose some tough games — say, at Michigan, Oklahoma and Arizona State — Brian Kelly could make a switch mid-year. Zaire is nearly a carbon copy of Everett Golson and brings an element of athleticism to the offense that Kelly so badly craves from the position. Keep an eye on the early enrollee in South Bend.

Anu Solomon, Arizona
B.J. Denker and Jesse Scroggins are in the Wildcats’ quarterback scrum as well but Solomon might be the most talented and best suited to run Rich Rodriguez’ system. He needs to gain experience and likely won’t start the season as the starter, but has electric upside. The talented dual-threat is arguably the top prospect in the history of Nevada high school football after leading famed Bishop Gorman to four straight state championships.

Jeremy Johnson, Auburn
He is the best long-term option but will need to prove he is ready. Kiehl Frazier's move to safety helps both junior college transfer and starting front-runner Nick Marshall and Johnson. While Johnson isn't a true dual-threat and may not fit Guz Malzahn scheme perfectly, his special blend of size (6-5), arm strength and poise make force Auburn to start a true freshman under center.

Tyrone Swoopes, Texas
No, Swoopes won’t relegate David Ash to the bench. But the talk out of camp about the raw physical ability of the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder has been hard to ignore. He could be used in Wildcat situations, short-yardage, trick plays and even as a slot, H-back-type pass-catcher. Look out for this kid.

Davis Webb, Texas Tech
The youngster has been in a battle for the starting gig with Michael Brewer for some time now. And with Brewer missing time due to a nagging back injury, Webb has been getting the reps. Playing in Kliff Kingsbury's offense is a nice play to be, even for a freshman.

Ford Childress, West Virginia
No, Childress likely won’t win the starting QB gig but the coaches haven’t been shy about how much they love the upside of the massive redshirt freshman. Clint Trickett and Paul Millard have much more experience but the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Childress is the long-term plan under center in Morgantown.

Related: Top 15 QB Battles Watch this Fall

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Teaser:
Post date: Friday, August 16, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /college-football/accs-impact-freshmen-watch-2013
Body:

The ACC gets knocked for its poor BCS bowl record (3-13) and for not being able to compete with the SEC on a regular basis. While this is true, John Swofford has this league heading in the right direction with team stability and plenty of room for growth.

One thing the ACC has done extremely well of late, however, is produce elite impact freshmen. Russell Wilson, Ryan Williams, Sammy Watkins and Duke Johnson are four of the last five ACC Offensive Rookies of the Year. Luke Kuechly, Xavier Rhodes, Merrill Noel and Ronald Darby are the last four ACC Defensive Rookies of the Year. Toss in other first-year stars like Stefon Diggs and Giovani Bernard from the last two seasons and the league has loads of elite young talent to lean on.

The 2013 season will be no different as a host of big-time playmakers enter the fray with sky-high expectations. And many of these youngsters will play pivotal rolls on championship-caliber teams.

Potential Stars:

Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The last name should say it all. As the fourth Fuller brother to play at Virginia Tech, Kendall has five-star expectations to match his five-star talent. He is earning his way into the starting lineup in place of the injured Antone Exum. He has elite speed, quickness and football IQ and it could mean a huge first season in Blacksburg for what could be the best of the four Fuller brothers.

Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Few first-year players will enter play with as much hype and expectations as the Seminoles' starting quarterback. He has been given the reins to Jimbo Fisher’s offense with eyes on a second straight ACC title. He has a huge arm, big-time intangibles, great size and has already played on a big postseason stage for the Florida State baseball team. The 'Noles will go as far as Winston can take them.

Taquan Mizzell, RB, Virginia
The speedy tailback should provide a much-needed spark to the Cavaliers' ground attack. Kevin Parks is an undersized, underrated running back but “Smoke” Mizzell should complement him perfectly. The freshman can score from anywhere on the field and makes defenders look silly in the open field. Look for 100-120 touches for the star first-year back.

Stacy Coley, WR, Miami
The second-fastest player on the team already, Coley has a chance to make a big impact in his first year. With a stable quarterback situation, the handsy wideout appears to be the most talented pass-catcher on the roster already. There will be growing pains, but the up-tempo offense could mean big numbers for the speedy freshman.

Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
He has dealt with a nagging groin issue this camp, but Alexander’s overall talent and a need in the secondary should force the freshman cornerback into action early. Any missed time will hurt the ever-important first month of practice for a first-year player but Mac’s raw upside and cover skills should get him on the field plenty this fall.

Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson
Through graduation and injury, Leggett appears poised to snag the starting tight end role in one of the nation’s elite offenses. Dwayne Allen was a Mackey Award winner for this team two years ago, and while no one should compare Leggett to Allen just yet, the system has clearly proven to be TE-friendly. Look for big things from the 6-foot-6, 240-pound frosh. Leggett was injured in practice on Wednesday and is expected to miss a couple of weeks.

Jonathan McLaughlin, OL, Virginia Tech
He wasn’t a five-star prospect like some other names on this list, but McLaughlin should have a similar impact. The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder should be the starter at left tackle protecting Logan Thomas in what is a critical year for all parties involved with Hokies football.

Alex Figueroa, LB, Miami
A Fork Union Military Academy product, Figueroa burst onto the scene in spring ball, earning himself a starting spot at outside linebacker. He has excellent athletic ability, toughness and rarely misreads a play. This defense was atrocious last year and Figueroa should be a big part of why it should be better in 2013.

Tyler Boyd, WR, Pitt
The big-play, in-state wide receiver prospect is being counted on by Pitt faithful to fill a major void opposite No. 1 wideout Devin Street. Boyd is competing for starting time but will undoubtedly see the field early and often for Paul Chryst’s high-powered scheme.

Caleb Peterson, OL, North Carolina
It is no easy job to replace an All-American and top-10 NFL Draft pick but that is what Peterson is going to try to do for the Tar Heels. A highly-touted prospect from Alabama, he is slotted into the starting lineup at guard. He will need to prove his understanding of Larry Fedora's complex system to stick.

Related: The Top 15 ACC Heisman Trophy Candidates

Early Contributors:

Johnell Barnes, WR, Duke
David Cutcliffe has praised his young wide receiver in fall camp.

Adam Bisnowaty, OL, Pitt
Not as highly-touted as Dorian Johnson but is no slouch in his own right.

Artie Burns, CB, Miami
Speedy coverman needs to step in and contribute immediately for a secondary that needs big improvements.

Joel Caleb, RB/WR, Virginia Tech
Do-everyting playmaker could bolster both the passing and running game in Blacksburg.

Chris Casher, DE, Florida State
Elite prospect is finally looking to crack the lineup on a team with ACC title hopes.

Bra’Lon Cherry, WR, NC State
Early enrollee has a leg up on fellow young pass-catchers in Dave Doeren's fast-paced offense.

Tyshon Dye, RB, Clemson
The Tigers need to find ball carriers for Chad Morris’ offense and Dye should get some looks.

Trey Edmunds, RB, Virginia Tech
Will battle with J.C. Coleman for starting carries in an offense that must improve in 2013.

Brandon Facyson, CB, Virginia Tech
Is competing with Fuller for starting time in Exum’s absence. Will play plenty either way.

Khris Francis, RB, North Carolina
Early enrollee made a quick name for himself this spring/summer in the race to replace Gio Bernard.

Mark Hall, LB, Virginia
Redshirt 250-pound linebacker could bring toughness to the middle of the Wahoos’ defense.

Dorian Johnson, OL, Pitt
Elite, five-star prospect comes to campus with sky-high expectations.

T.J. Logan, RB, North Carolina
Bernard is gone and finding a suitable replacement is atop Fedora’s to-do list.

Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE, Miami
Big-time prospect from the Northeast brings a great motor and toughness to terrible defense.

Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
Elite athlete could play all over the secondary for a team stacked with defensive talent.

Gabe Roberts, C, Pitt
Yet another first-year Panthers lineman who could see important snaps.

Matthew Thomas, LB, Florida State
A hesitant marriage between player and school could result in a huge freshman season for playmaking backer.

Related: Complete 2013 ACC Football Predictions

Key Reserves:
Ben Boulware, LB, Clemson
Everett Edwards, CB, Duke
Brisly Estime, HB, Syracuse
Holland Fisher, LB, Virginia Tech
Dominique Gibson, Joshua Wilhite, Dezmond Wortham, RB, Wake Forest
Jay Guillermo, OL, Clemson
Tim Harris, CB, Virginia
Jonathan Howard, WR, North Carolina
Abner Logan, LB, Maryland
Josh Manley, DE, Syracuse
C.J. Moore, CB, Virginia
Yannick Ngakoue, LB, Maryland
Josh Stanford, WR, Virginia Tech
Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
Demarcus Walker, DE, Florida State
Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Myles Willis and Tyler Brouse, RB, Boston College

Related: Athlon Sports' 2013 ACC All-Conference Teams

Special Teams:
Harrison Butker, K, Georgia Tech
Roberto Aguayo, K, Florida State
Chris Blewitt, K, Pitt

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Teaser:
ACC's Impact Freshmen To Watch in 2013
Post date: Thursday, August 15, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/secs-impact-freshmen-watch-2013
Body:

Darren McFadden, Percy Harvin, Knowshon Moreno, A.J. Green, Warren Norman, Marcus Lattimore, Jadeveon Clowney and Johnny Manziel are the last eight SEC Freshman of the Year winners.

That is four first-round NFL Draft picks and a Heisman Trophy winner with Harvin also being a part of two BCS national championship teams during his time at Florida. This is the bar that has been set in the nation’s toughest conference for first-year players. And with no end in sight to the SEC’s recruiting dominance — it signed 44 of the top 100 Athlon Consensus 100 prospects — this round of new faces should be just as exciting to watch. A host of big-time playmakers enter the fray with sky-high expectations. And many of these youngsters will play pivotal rolls on championship-caliber teams.

Potential Stars:

Robert Nkemdiche, DE, Ole Miss
He was the No. 1 prospect in the nation and is drawing (unfairly) comparisons to Jadeveon Clowney. While Nkemdiche is a totally different type of defensive end than Clowney, he should have a similar impact in his first year. His work ethic and physical tools will allow him to make plays each week but he will also spend a good deal of time this year learning how to play one of the toughest positions on the field.

Tray Matthews, S, Georgia
The Bulldogs' defense is working through a major rebuild and getting Matthews onto campus in January was a huge blessing. The Athlon Consensus 100 safety is already slotted into the starting lineup for a unit that desperately needs leadership and stability after heavy turnover in the offseason. Matthews is a great athlete with excellent intangibles, so he should adjust quickly to the college speed.

Demarcus Robinson, WR, Florida
The Gators might have finally found an impact playmaker on the outside of the offense in Robinson. He is big, physical, explosive and has NFL written all over him. With injuries mounting, Robinson has a chance to play a huge role for an offense that desperately needs a go-to target in the passing game.

Carl Lawson and Elijah Daniel, DE, Auburn
Physically, Lawson is ready to start opposite of Dee Ford at end for Auburn. He will battle with fellow top-100 prospect Daniel — and senior Nosa Eguae — to lock down that spot along the Tigers front for Ellis Johnson. Short (6-2), quick and powerful (260 pounds), Lawson is developed well beyond his years and has a chance to be a special player on the Plains. Even if it is in spot duty behind Eguae.

Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas
There is a host of elite running backs entering the SEC this fall but Collins might have the best combination of upside, talent and opportunity. Bret Bielema’s system is run-heavy and there is little depth in the backfield blocking Collins' path to carries. Look for the 5-foot-11, 210-pound speed-power combo to play early and often for the Hogs.

LaQuan Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
The No. 1-rated wide receiver in the nation is landing in an offense that should throw the ball as much as anyone in the league. Treadwell is a monster physically and is as game-ready as any freshman at any position in the nation. He has some talent ahead of him on the depth chart but what he learns from Vince Sanders and Donte Moncrief will only help him develop into a playmaker quicker.

Marquez North, WR, Tennessee
The Volunteers are in desperate need of playmakers at wide receiver to replace the lawfirm of Hunter, Patterson and Rogers. North has gotten rave reviews in camp thus far and has elite vertical ability and size. The top prospect in the Vols class, North is 6-foot-4, 215 and should become the top target for whomever is playing quarterback.

Montravius Adams, DL, Auburn
The massive 6-foot-4, 320-pound tackle likely won’t start but fans will known all about him in short order. He will wear an odd number (No. 1) for a guy weighing in at more than three spins. However, it is his play that will get him noticed on the field as he develops into one of the league’s top true nose tackles.

Jerald Hawkins and Ethan Pocic, OL, LSU
The big redshirt freshman Hawkins had a great offseason and has continued his excellent play in fall camp. After Josh Williford was hurt again, Les Miles has had to move pieces around on his front line. Hawkins could slide into a starting spot at right tackle while the 6-foot-7 Pocic, an early enrollee and top 100 recruit, could start at center.

Related: The Top SEC Heisman Trophy Candidates

But where are all the Crimson Tiders?
Relax, 'Bama Nation. Alabama is so loaded, the Tide gets their own section. Nick Saban set a record this year by signing 15 Athlon Consensus 100 recruits as he has redefined recruiting in recent years. This is why I have to give the Tide their own section:

Derrick Henry, RB
Sure, he is listed as a running back and will get carries but he is so much more than that. He is talented enough to play H-Back, tight end, wide receiver, outside linebacker or even defensive end. But who wants to tackle 6-foot-3, 243 pounds of runner?

Jonathan Allen, DE/OLB
At 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, Allen could be the perfect player for the Jack Back role in Saban’s 3-4 scheme. He can rush the passer, play the run and can drop into coverage.

O.J. Howard, TE
The actual H-back position will likely be filled by Howard. The nation’s top tight end recruit needs to improve his in-line blocking but has all the tools to be a big-time player as a hybrid tight end/H-back.

A'Shawn Robinson, DT
He isn’t likely to be a starter but his overly developed young frame and general passion for the game has drawn high praise from all parties. Look for Robinson to make a quick impact.

Reuben Foster, LB
“Grown man” is the phrase that comes to most when watching Foster line up in the middle of the 'Bama defense. He is a physical monster and is trying to pry his way into the lineup as just a true freshman.

Robert Foster, WR
He has drawn Julio Jones comparisons in very short order at The Capstone. He and fellow freshman Raheem Falkins have turned heads in camp — despite a crowded depth chart at wide receiver.

Others to Watch: Ryan Anderson, LB; Dee Liner, DL; Alvin Kamara, RB; Tyren Jones, RB; Altee Tenpenny, RB

Related: Getting to Know the New SEC Coaches

Early Contributors:

Kendell Beckwith, LB, LSU
Has a long way to go but any true freshman who could start at LSU must be talented.

Jeryl Brazil and Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
The “Jalens” have the starting jobs locked up, but these two speedsters could be special.

Tony Conner, S, Ole Miss
One of the nation’s top safety prospects will begin his career as an important nickel back.

Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
If not for No. 1 CB tandem in the nation, he’d likely be locked into a starting job.

Jaleel Hytchye, CB, Kentucky
Could start at corner for the young Wildcats secondary.

Andrew Jelks, OL, Vanderbilt
Will be the top reserve along a developing and improving 'Dores offensive line.

Jeremy Johnson, QB, Auburn
He is the best long-term option but will need to prove he is ready. Kiehl Frazier's move to safety helps.

Marcus Maye, S, Florida
Will be, at worst, the No. 3 safety for the Gators behind Cody Riggs and Jaylen Watkins.

Latevius Rayford and Jordan Cunningham, WR, Vanderbilt
A pair of true freshman wideouts have proven themselves quickly in fall camp.

Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida
Could easily be the starter as Matt Jones sits out recovering from serious viral infection.

Cody Waldrup, C, South Carolina
Struggled with snaps in spring but has tons of ability and the coaches are confident.

Ja’Quay Williams and Ricky Seals-Jones, WR, Texas A&M
Jumbo athletes (6-3, 215 and 6-5, 225 respectively) both could make a big impact right away.

Related: Complete 2013 SEC Football Predictions

Key Reserves:
Tashawn Bower, DE, LSU
Harold Brantley, DT, Missouri

Richie Brown, LB, Mississippi State
Jordan Diggs, LB, South Carolina
Joshua Dobbs, QB, Tennessee
Greg Gilmore, DT, LSU
Jason Hatcher, DE, Kentucky
Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
Frank Herron, DE, LSU
Grant Hill, OL, Alabama
T.J. Holloman, DB, South Carolina
Chris Jones, DE, Mississippi State
Denver Kirkland, OL, Arkansas
Alex Koran and Jordan Diamond, OL, AUB
Christian LaCouture, DT, LSU
Maty Mauk, QB, Missouri
Justin Manning, DL, Texas A&M
Daniel McMillan, LB, Florida
Zach Myers, C, Kentucky
Ryne Rankins, LB, Georgia
Brock and Clayton Stadnick, OL, South Carolina
Tony Stevens, WR, Auburn
Ryan Timmons, WR, Kentucky
Laremy Tunsil, OL, Ole Miss (pictured)
Shaq Wiggins, CB, Georgia
Tim Williams, LB, Alabama

Related: SEC Coaches Anonymously Scout the SEC

Teaser:
SEC's Impact Freshmen To Watch in 2013
Post date: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/big-12s-impact-freshmen-watch-2013
Body:

Of late, the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year hasn’t been nearly as impressive as the Defensive Freshman of the Year. Devonte Fields kept a line of elite defensive talents to win Frosh of the Year going in the Big 12. Quandre Diggs, Tony Jefferson, Shaun Lewis, Aldon Smith and Travis Lewis have all won the honor of late.

Meanwhile, J.W. Walsh, last year’s Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year, might not even start this fall for Oklahoma State.

And if Big 12 recruiting continues to struggle the way it did during the 2013 cycle, both awards will lack star power. The entire conference signed just four top-100 players this year — or 11 fewer Athlon Consensus 100 prospects than Alabama’s 15.

That said, there are still some bright new faces to watch in this league. And many of these youngsters will play pivotal rolls on championship-caliber teams.

Potential Stars:

Robbie Rhodes, WR, Baylor
Rhodes might be the most gifted athlete in a long line of elite Baylor wide receivers. Tevin Reese has one starting spot locked down but the big, physical Rhodes should sneak his way into the starting lineup almost immediately. He brings a bigger frame than Terrance Williams and as much athletic ability as Kendall Wright — a scary combination.

Hatari Byrd, S, Oklahoma
The rumors about Byrd starting for the struggling Sooners defense have long run rampant in Norman. But as the season inches closer, those rumors are turning into facts as Byrd has seen time with the first-team defense at corner, safety and nickel back. He has great instincts and a big frame (6-1, 200) and will make a big impact in 2013.

Tyrone Swoopes, QB, Texas (pictured)
No, Swoopes won’t relegate David Ash to the bench. But the talk out of camp about the raw physical ability of the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder has been hard to ignore. He could be used in Wildcat situations, short-yardage, trick plays and even as a slot, H-back-type pass-catcher. Look out for this kid.

Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
The No. 2 recruit in the Bears class was this local product from Waco High School. At 6-foot and over 300 pounds, he is physically ready to compete with the Big 12’s O-line. Billings will need to adjust to the pace of play before he can start but that shouldn’t take long for this weight room warrior.

Shelton Gibson and Devonte Mathis, WR, West Virginia
Both youngsters appear to be slotted into, well, the slot. Tavon Austin made this position a marquee location in the West Virginia offense and these two have the potential to replace that production. Both are bigger and more physical than Austin but will have to fight their way into the starting lineup.

Ford Childress, QB, West Virginia
No, Childress likely won’t win the starting QB gig but the coaches haven’t been shy about how much they love the upside of the massive redshirt freshman. Clint Trickett and Paul Millard have much more experience but the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Childress is the long-term plan under center in Morgantown.

Alex Ross and Keith Ford, RB, Oklahoma
The redshirted Ross and true frosh Ford won’t start for the Sooners but will see plenty of reps this fall. Ross (209 pounds) will be one of the top replacements for Damien Williams and Brennan Clay. Both have gotten rave reviews from the coaches and Bob Stoops tends to play a lot of backs.

Related: Top Big 12 Heisman Trophy Candidates

Early Contributors:

Adrian Colbert, S, Texas
A bunch of names will be in the mix to replace Kenny Vaccaro.

Dondre Daley and P.J. Harris, WR, Iowa State
Both redshirt freshmen should see chances to earn starting time.

Reginald Davis and D.J. Polite-Bray, WR, Texas Tech
Both could be asked to step up early and produce behind Eric Ward.

Will Davis, LB, Kansas State
Totally reworked front seven could see a boost from the talked-about Davis.

Kyle Hicks, RB, TCU
Talented star running back is down the depth chart but loaded with talent.

Demonte Hoods, DT, Kansas State
This 300-pounder from Texas has a chance to be a key early contributor on rebuilt line.

L.J. Moore and Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma
Byrd gets the headlines but both Moore and Sanchez will see early time on the outside.

Jerel Morrow, CB, Oklahoma State
Leads a deep and talented freshman corner class for the Pokes.

Curtis Riser, OL, Texas
Talented recruit redshirted last fall and will be a top backup along the line.

Ra’Shaad Samples, WR, Oklahoma State
Small (5-10, 170), speedy slot talent who could provide a quick boost.

Ahmad Thomas, S, Oklahoma
Will get plenty of looks like the rest of the young Sooner defensive backs.

D.J. Ward, DE, Oklahoma
Along with Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Matt Dimon, Ward will factor into the rotation.

Davis Webb, QB, Texas Tech
Michael Brewer has been banged up and Webb could be called upon earlier than expected.

Tanner Wood, DE, Kansas State
True frosh was one of the top players in the state and has size (6-5, 240) to play early.

Related: Complete 2013 Big 12 Football Predictions

Key Reserves:
Courtney Arnick, LB, Kansas
Greg Allen and Tevin Shaw, S, Kansas
Deante Burton, WR, Kansas State
Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor
Trevor Knight, QB, Oklahoma
Noble Nwachukwu, DE, West Virginia
Dee Paul, DB, Texas Tech
Ryan Reid and Orion Stewart, S, Baylor
Seth Russell, QB, Baylor
Jhajuan Seales, WR, Oklahoma State
Zac Veatch, OL, Oklahoma State
Keenon Ward, S, Texas Tech
Darius White, LB, Iowa State
Derrick Woods, WR, Oklahoma

Related: Big 12 Coaches Speak Anonymously About the Big 12

Teaser:
Big 12's Impact Freshmen To Watch in 2013
Post date: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 07:14
Path: /college-football/pac-12s-impact-freshmen-watch-2013
Body:

The Pac-12 might have the coolest awards in college football. The Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year might be the best-named trophy in sports. The Morris Trophy is given to the best offensive and defensive lineman in the league — as voted on BY THE PLAYERS (OL and DL).

But the Freshman of the Year award is the new guy on the Pac-12 awards block. The Defensive Rookie of the Year has only been given out since 2009 as Vontaze Burfict, Junior Onyeali, Dion Bailey and Leonard Williams are the only winners. The Freshman of the Year Award (1999-2009) became the Offensive Player of the Year honor that year when the split happened. LaMichael James, Robert Woods, Marqise Lee, De’Anthony Thomas and Marcus Mariota are the offensive winners since the separation.

The 2013 season will be no different as a host of big-time playmakers enter the fray with sky-high expectations. And many of these youngsters will play pivotal rolls on championship-caliber teams.

Potential Stars:

Thomas Tyner, RB, Oregon
The record-settting tailback has all of the tools to earn the starting job at Oregon as just a true freshman. Try a state-record 643 yards and 10 scores in one game on his 18th birthday last fall. He has power, speed and plenty of wiggle to fit into the Ducks' high-powered rushing attack. Expect plenty of mop-up duty early on before potentially earning workhorse status as the year goes along.

Zach Kline, QB, Cal
With a few weeks to go before games kickoff, new coach Sonny Dykes hasn’t named a starting quarterback yet. Kline is battling with Jared Goff but is the more talented option and should earn the job at some point in the new future. He has big-time ability and plenty of talented playmakers around him to make an impact as a redshirt freshman.

Ishmael Adams, Priest Willis, Tahaan Goodman, DB, UCLA
The UCLA secondary is very, very talented but very, very young. Adams was an elite recruit in 2012 and should be the best of the group as a redshirt freshman. Willis and Goodman were both top-100 prospects nationally in this class as well. All three could be starting by the season’s end — which is both good and bad news for the Bruins' pass defense.

Su’a Cravens, S, USC
The No. 1 safety prospect in the nation is looking to crack the starting lineup right out of the gate. Worst case scenario, Cravens is the top nickel back and gets plenty of chances on passing downs. He has great size and speed and, from what we learned talking with him last year, is prepared for success on the next level.

Anu Solomon, QB, Arizona
B.J. Denker and Jesse Scroggins are in the Wildcats’ quarterback scrum as well but Solomon might be the most talented and best suited to run Rich Rodriguez’ system. He needs to gain experience and likely won’t start the season as the starter, but has electric upside. The talented dual-threat is arguably the top prospect in the history of Nevada high school football after leading famed Bishop Gorman to four straight state championships.

Eddie Vanderdoes, DL, UCLA
After a back and forth with Notre Dame, Vanderdoes has landed at UCLA and can play right away. And play he should as one of the most talented defensive linemen in this year's freshman class. Coming in as the No. 2-rated D-lineman in the nation, Vanderdoes should help replace the loss of Datone Jones.

Damore’ea Stringfellow, WR, Washington
The Huskies signed a deep and talented receiving class. John Ross and Darrell Daniels should both play plenty but Stringfellow is the most gifted at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds. He will likely begin in a reserve role but should work his way into the starting lineup in short order.

Robert Lewis, WR, Washington State
Mike Leach has been very open about his appreciation of Lewis’ ability. He is lightning quick and making progress every day in his quest to lock down a starting spot. He will get plenty of run in an offense known for producing big-time numbers.

Carlos Mendoza, LB, Arizona State
His 2012 season lasted just two games before a shoulder injury forced a redshirt season. He has been moved from weakside to Spur linebacker and has the athleticism to fly around and make plays at the hybrid LB/DB “spur” position. 

Related: The Top Pac-12 Heisman Trophy Candidates

Early Contributors:

Devon and Chance Allen, WR, Oregon
A talented true and redshirt freshman (no relation) both could fight for starting time early on.

Caleb Benenoch, OL, UCLA
Is getting reps as first-team right guard. Should see plenty of snaps somewhere along the line.

Kenny Bigelow, DT, USC
Massive interior star along the defensive line will provide much needed depth up front.

Matt Cochran, OL, Cal
Could start at guard or center and appears to be first guy off the bench if he doesn’t start.

Chans Cox, LB, Arizona State
Early enrollee was one of the most highly-touted signees this year. Will play plenty.

Justin Davis and Ty Isaac, RB, USC
Someone needs to spell Silas Redd and both first-year guys could see plenty of time.

Addison Gillam, LB, Colorado
A spring surprise, Gillam should compete for playing time outside with Brady Daigh.

Trey Griffey, WR, Arizona
Injuries and defections have opened up playing time for Ken Griffey Jr.’s son.

Leon McQuay III, S, USC
Is pressing to get into the lineup and could end up a co-starter with Demetrius Wright.

Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA
Will battle with a large group to replace Johnathan Franklin.

Torrodney Prevot, LB, Oregon
Should be the most talented backup on a team known for playing its reserves.

Barry Sanders, RB, Stanford
Behind an elite offensive line, fans are eager to see what Barry Sanders Jr. can do.

Justin Thomas, CB, Utah
He will battle with fellow frosh Reggie Porter to start at cornerback right away.

Related: Complete 2013 Pac-12 Football Predictions

Key Reserves:
Max Browne, QB, USC
Tyler Bruggman, QB, Washington State
Pierre Cormier, RB, Arizona
Reggie Daniels, S, Oregon
Jimmie Gilbert, DE, Colorado
Cam Hunt, OL, Oregon
Kendall Hill, S, Oregon State
Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Alex Jackson, CB, Washington State
Peter Kalambayi, LB, Stanford
Kenny Lawler, WR, Cal
Sefo Liufau, QB, Colorado
Cyler Miles, QB, Washington
Cyril Noland-Lewis, S, Oregon State
Francis Owusu, WR, Stanford
Aaron Porter, LB, UCLA
Elijah Qualls, DT, Washington
Jabari Ruffin, LB, USC
Caleb Saulo, LB, Oregon State
Psalm Wooching, FB, Washington

Related: Athlon Sports' 2013 Pac-12 All-Conference Teams

Special Teams:
Sean Covington, P, UCLA
Matt Haack, P, Arizona State
Jamie Sutcliffe, K, Utah
Cameron Van Winkle, K, Washington
Matt Wogan, K, Oregon

Teaser:
Pac-12's Impact Freshmen To Watch in 2013
Post date: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - 07:10
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, Roto, MLB, Fantasy, News
Path: /mlb/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-aug-12
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There are just seven weeks left in the MLB regular season, which means the fantasy baseball playoffs are even closer. Athlon Sports has everything you need to catch up on what took place on the fantasy diamond during the past seven days. Our fantasy junkies bring you last week's top hitters, some starting pitchers who are on a roll, and also identify the waiver wire pick ups and spot starters you need to keep an eye on.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (Aug 5-11):

 NamePos.TeamRHRRBISBBAOPS
1Miguel Cabrera3BDET74110.4291.444
2Adam JonesOFBAL7281.5711.470
3Josh ReddickOFOAK6580.3161.486
4Elvis AndrusSSTEX7155.321.903
5Adrian Beltre3BTEX8270.4351.275
6Alexi Ramirez*SSCWS5272.3821.000
7Mike TroutOFLAA5263.3501.169
8Leonys Martin*OFTEX4057.269.656
9Jayson WerthOFWAS7260.5001.442
10Brandon Belt*1BSF8250.4401.300
11Matt HollidayOFSTL4261.4781.325
12Alex GordonOFKC4362.2861.002
13Justin UptonOFATL4351.3911.243
14Justin Morneau*1BMIN44100.226.895
15Aaron Hill2BARI4270.4741.471
16Austin JacksonOFDET9220.3711.192
17Brett Lawrie2B/3BTOR5043.4351.132
18Eric Hosmer1BKC5180.4141.073
19Brian Dozier*2B/SSMIN4271.3451.171
20Alex RiosOFTEX5062.4501.100
21Donnie Murphy*2B/3BCHC4370.3161.245
22Jacoby EllsburyOFBOS4370.3161.245
23Jose ReyesSSTOR3281.310.885
24Billy Butler1BKC6150.4291.163
25Jose BautistaOFTOR6230.4351.319

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Brandon Belt, 1B, SF (34% owned in Yahoo! Leagues)
This week will be heavy on corner infield help, in particular, first base. Belt has raised his season ratios to a useful .271/.815 and has had an excellent last month. He hit four homers with 12 runs scored and 11 RBIs to go with .328/.990 rates. He may finally be realizing his long-talked about potential.

Justin Morneau, 1B, MIN (64%)
This has been arguably the worst year of Morneau's career. I added him before the trade deadline assuming he would land somewhere better. That didn't happen, but the Twins slugger finally started slugging. He hit four bombs with 10 RBIs over the last week and obviously has the track record to help out on offense.

Brian Dozier, 2B/SS, MIN (28%)
In 372 at-bats this year, Dozier has helped across the board: 50 R, 11 HR, 47 RBI, 9 SB. His .245 batting average doesn't make him a must-add but he has proven he can sustain counting stat success. And the .738 OPS for a middle infielder is respectable. He is a great "MI" add late in the year.

Justin Maxwell, OF, KC (7%)
Maxwell is one of the smaller names to have made the most of a change in area code. He has a .450 BA with three big flies and six RBIs in nine games since moving from Houston to Kansas City. Lorezno Cain is on the DL for the foreseeable future and Maxwell should benefit from playing in the surging Royals lineup. 

Ike Davis, 1B, NYM (31%)
Seriously? No, I am not kidding, Davis could help your fantasy team. Davis is hitting .328 with a 1.031 OPS over the last month and has been one of the NL's best hitters since the break. He blasted a ton of home runs in the second half last year and could be in store for another solid final two months. Especially, since he is playing for his job in New York.

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

 NameTeamIPWKERAWHIP
1David PriceTB23.11170.770.64
2Martin Perez*TEX22.22191.590.88
3Alex Wood*ATL19.02171.890.74
4Anibal SanchezDET21.22202.080.83
5Dan Haren*WAS14.02131.290.71
6Tim LincecumSF15.01130.600.60
7Clayton KershawLAD22.01181.230.82
8Max ScherzerDET14.22111.230.75
9Chad Gaudin*SF18.11190.980.98
10Wade Miley*ARI13.12130.681.05
11Stephen StrasburgWAS23.01262.740.87
12Matt HarveyNYM14.21141.840.61
13Yu DarvishTEX14.02201.931.14
14Zack GreinkeLAD19.22181.831.07
15Bruce Chen*KC13.21100.660.73
16Jose FernandezMIA13.01191.381.00
17Matt CainSF22.01182.450.82
18Lance LynnSTL20.21232.610.92
19Julio TeheranATL11.02151.641.18
20Jered WeaverLAA21.22152.490.97

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Top 5 Spot Starts for the Week (Mon. - Sun.):

1. Sonny Gray, OAK (Thur.) vs. Houston (5% owned)
Who? The elite first-round talent from Vanderbilt has worked his way quickly through the A's system and has a shot at securing a permanent rotation spot the rest of the year should he pitch well. He has 10.0 MLB innings with a 1.80 ERA, 11 strikeouts and a 1.00 WHIP. He gets Houston on Thursday. Yes, please.

2. Tony Cingrani, CIN (Tues.) at Milwaukee (59%)
This kid knows how to strike people out — try 102 in 87.2 innings this year. And it looks like he has finally settled into the Reds rotation for good. He has allowed more than two earned runs just once (3 ER vs. STL) in his last seven starts. Look for good things from Cingrani against the lowly Brewers.

3. Jenrry Mejia, NYM (Sat.) at San Diego (9%)
Formerly one of the Mets' top prospects turned Tommy John patient is back on the bump for the Mets. He has three starts under his belt this year, all of which he went into the sixth inning and allowed 3 or fewer runs. In fact, he has allowed just four earned runs in 18.1 innings with 18 strikeouts and just three walks.

4. Jarrod Parker, OAK (Wed.) vs. Houston (62%)
Parker had a horrendous start to the year but bounced back during the summer in a big way. He walks too many folks (96 K, 50 BB, 138 IP) but has been solid for the A's. He has won his last six decisions and should see success against the Stros this week.

5. Zack Wheeler, NYM (Thurs.) at San Diego (39%)
He is still ironing out his command issues but Wheeler has big-time ability and has a respectable 5-2 record on a bad team. Five of his last seven starts have featured two earned runs or less and he has 45 Ks in 57.0 career innings. Look for a solid outing against the Fathers this weekend.

Closing Morsels
Is there trouble with No. 42? Mo Rivera has 35 saves with 41 strikeouts and a tidy 2.44 ERA in 44.1 innings this year. However, he has blown his last three chances with five earned runs allowed. He owns the longest leash in history but it may be worth adding Dave Robertson just in case... The Mets are in full-on committee mode with Bobby Parnell on the DL. LaTroy Hawkins, David Aardsma and Scott Rice could all get action down the stretch.... Josh Fields might be the closer frontrunner the rest of the way for the Astros but Joshua Zeid, Wesley Wright and Chia-Jen Lo are in the mix as well. You might want to stay away from this one... Ernesto Frieri hasn't converted a save chance since Aug. 2 and has been giving up way too many runs. Dane De La Rosa and Kevin Jepsen are the top choices as embattled Ryan Madson has been released. Something tells me the high-K Frieri will settle back down and regain the majority of the chances... Seattle's Tom Wilhelmsen and Arizona's David Hernandez aren't in the majors any longer.

Keep up to date all season long with Athlon Sports' Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid

Teaser:
Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: Aug 12
Post date: Monday, August 12, 2013 - 11:45
Path: /college-football/big-tens-impact-freshmen-watch-2013
Body:

Named after two transcendent freshmen — Minnesota’s Darrell Thompson and Indiana’s Antwaan Randle El — the Thompson-Randle El Big Ten Freshman of the Year award has been given to some seriously talented first-year athletes of late.

Both Wisconsin’s Chris Borland and James White took home back-to-back such awards in 2009-10 surrounded by Buckeye quarterbacks. Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor won the award in 2008 en route to a Big Ten championship and Braxton Miller took home the Thompson-Randle El Trophy two years ago — and is looking for his first (official) Big Ten title this year. Penn State’s Deion Barnes is the reigning Freshman of the Year.

The 2013 season will be no different as a host of big-time playmakers enter the fray with sky-high expectations. And many of these youngsters will play pivotal rolls on championship-caliber teams.

Potential Stars:

Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
There is no doubt he is the most gifted quarterback on the Penn State campus, but Hackenberg needs to prove he can handle a big-time NCAA program before he takes the reins. The delicate balance between gaining experience and ruining confidence must always be considered with true freshman quarterbacks. Hackenberg looks like a huge star in the making and he is in good hands under Bill O’Brien, but fans must expect plenty of growing pains in 2013.

Dontre Wilson, AP, Ohio State
The Percy Harvin comparisons have run rampant during camp, but having filmed this kid last year, I can tell you the comparisons are warranted. Yes, he is 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds and will wear No. 1 in an Urban Meyer offense. But he also can score from anywhere on the field, is adept at catching the ball as well as running it and can be used in the return game. Yup, sounds like Harvin alright. Look for Meyer to get Wilson the ball early and often.

Derrick Green, RB, Michigan
Green’s role in the Brady Hoke pro-style offense is yet to be determined. He could easily play over 230 pounds and that would make him the go-to short-yardage and goal-line back to start. However, he wants to be much more than a complementary piece, and knowing the injury history of the Wolverines backfield, he should be ready to shoulder the load at any point. Picking up the blitz will be the key for Green’s playing time, however.

Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE, Northwestern
As one of the highest rated recruits to ever sign with Northwestern, Odenigbo is surrounded by a lot of hype. After a redshirt season brought on by a season-ending shoulder injury, fans in Evanston are ready to see what the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder can do fully healthy. He will bring elite athleticism to an outside pass rush that ranked 50th in the nation a year ago in sacks per game.

Kyle Kalis and Ben Braden, OL, Michigan
Kalis was the more high profile recruit and is extremely gifted in his own right, but Taylor Lewan says Braden is “the most physically gifted individual I’ve ever seen.” Kalis and Braden are slotted in as the starting guard tandem and this influx of talent along the line could push Michigan over the top as the Legends Division front-runner.

Dan Voltz, C, Wisconsin
A big-time signing in the 2012 class, Voltz nearly got into the starting lineup a year ago before Bret Bielema decided to redshirt him. The talented guard-turned-pivot is now working under his third offensive line coach in 12 months and is looking to replace a star in Travis Frederick. Gary Andersen will run the ball at Wisconsin and Voltz will be an integral piece for the Badgers O-line.

Riley Bullough, et al, RB, Michigan State
There are some more experienced options on the roster (e.g., Nick Hill) but it could be a freshman committee running the ball in East Lansing this year. Riley Bullough is currently the No. 1 with Gerald Holmes and Delton Williams making a strong push for time. Bullough is 230 pounds, Holmes is 215 and Williams checks in at 220. All three are in their first season on the field and all three bring a physical style that Mark Dantonio craves from his running game.

Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State
There might not be a team in the nation with better starting safeties than Ohio State. And that should explain just how gifted the freshman safety could be. Bell will be used in nickel back situations and will get tons of time in mop-up duty. He flies all over the field and will be the next great Buckeyes safety.

Related: The Top Big Ten Heisman Trophy Candidates

Early Contributors:

Jared Afalava, LB, Nebraska
The redshirt from Utah is fighting his way into the starting lineup this fall.

Vince Biegel, LB, Wisconsin
Highly-touted in-state prospect who should continue the recent run of excellent linebackers in Madison.

Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Florida native will press for time behind already stacked D-Line.

Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
Talented basketball star who is only scratching the surface of his big-time pass-rushing upside.

Demetrious Cox, S, Michigan State
Has the inside track on the nickel back position whenever MSU goes to five defensive backs.

Robert Gregory, RB, Purdue
Redshirt Chicago native should be a nice complementary piece to Akeem Hunt in RB-friendly system.

Austin Johnson, DT, Penn State
Bill O'Brien says this big nose guard has "a great future" in Happy Valley. Look for him to work his way onto the field.

Darius Latham and David Kenney, DL, Indiana
A deep DL class is headlined by these two Indianapolis prospects at tackle and end respectively. Both will play.

Eugene Lewis, WR, Penn State
Scout team star turned some heads last year in practice and will be looked to for support on the outside.

Jalin Marshall, WR, Ohio State
Explosive do-everything talent will be used in a lot of ways on offense as a freshman.

Dymonte Thomas, DB, Michigan
Extremely gifted athlete who could play a variety of positions. Could see time as a nickel back.

Nyeem Wartman, LB, Penn State
Mike Hull and Glenn Carson lead the way allowing for Wartman to grow on the job as a potential starter.

Vontrell Williams, DT, Illinois
He is expected to start for a defense that needs big-time help up the middle against the run.

Chris Wormley, DE, Michigan
Massive (6-5, 290) end prospect could press for starting time as a redshirt freshman.

Related: Complete 2013 Big Ten Football Predictions

Key Reserves:
Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Adam Breneman, TE, Penn State
Jehu Chesson, WR, Michigan
Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin
Berkley Edwards, RB, Minnesota
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Maurice Fleming, CB, Iowa
Ralphael Green, DT, Indiana
Jordan Heiderman, DT, Indiana
Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa
Courtney Love, LB, Nebraska
Greg McMullen, DE, Nebraska
Mike Mitchell, LB, Ohio State
Shane Morris, QB, Michigan
Avery Moss, DE, Nebraska
Damion Terry, QB, Michigan State

Related: Athlon Sports' 2013 Big Ten All-Conference Teams

Special Teams:
Michael Geiger, K, Michigan State
Sam Foltz, P, Nebraska

Teaser:
Big Ten's Impact Freshmen To Watch in 2013
Post date: Monday, August 12, 2013 - 07:18
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-50-defensive-backs-bcs-era
Body:

Statistical production, individual awards, team success, longevity, supporting cast, level of competition, raw talent and overall athletic ability all factor heavily in determining overall greatness. Sometimes, you simply know greatness when you see it.

So all factors were considered when trying to determine who the greatest defensive backs of the BCS era have been. Here are the Top 50 cornerbacks and safeties since the BCS was implemented in 1998:

1. Ed Reed, S, Miami
The star safety is one of the greatest to ever put on the pads. He led the team as a freshman in interceptions and forced fumbles en route to back-to-back All-American seasons in 2000 and '01. He led the nation as a senior with nine interceptions for 209 yards and three touchdowns. His leadership helped a stacked Miami team go unbeaten and claim the BCS National Championship in 2001. He was named Big East Defensive Player of the Year. Reed holds the school record for career interceptions (21), return yards (389) and defensive touchdowns (5). He was a first-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 2002. Oh by the way, Reed was a Big East track and field champ in the javelin.

2. Roy Williams, S, Oklahoma
One of the biggest hitters in college football history, Williams dominated college football during his time in Norman. He led the Sooners to an unbeaten BCS National Championship in 2000 while setting the school record for tackles for loss by a defensive back (12.0). The following year, he claimed the Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back as well as the Nagurski and Jack Tatum Trophies and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors. He was a unanimous All-American, first-round pick of the Cowboys in 2002 and will go down in Red River Shootout lore for this spectacular play in the Cotton Bowl.

3. Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
It didn’t take long for Berry to make his name known as an SEC defender. He posted a school record with 222 INT return yards on five picks, led all SEC freshmen with 86 tackles and was named SEC Freshman of the Year. He then returned seven interceptions for 265 yards as a sophomore en route to his first of two unanimous All-American seasons. He was also the SEC Defensive Player of the Year that year. As a junior, Berry returned to win the Thorpe and Jack Tatum Awards and ended with an SEC record for interception return yards. Used on offense and special teams as well, Berry’s superior athletic ability made him the fifth overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft.

4. Sean Taylor, S, Miami
The 2001 Miami national title team might be the best college team ever assembled and Taylor was one of just four true freshman to see playing time that year. He earned All-Big East honors as a sophomore en route to another national title game in 2002. His 2003 campaign, however, is one of the best in school history. Taylor led the nation with 10 interceptions and his rare blend of size and speed made him Big East Defensive Player of the Year. Miami was 35-3 during Taylor’s time and he left school early to be the fifth overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.

5. Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
The supremely gifted Peterson played in every game as a true freshman for the defending BCS champs. One of the most versatile, impactful athletes in the nation, Peterson scored on both defense and special teams throughout his career. He was a dynamic return man who brought a rare explosiveness to the game. As a junior, Peterson won the Thorpe and Bednarik Awards and was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year while being recognized as an All-American for a second time. He was taken fifth overall in the 2011 NFL Draft.

6. Terence Newman, CB, Kansas State
Newman did a little bit of everything for Bill Snyder and Kansas State. He returned kicks and punts and even played some wide receiver. The lockdown cornerback was an two-time All-Big 12 pick, a unanimous All-American, the Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nation’s top DB and a first-round pick by the Cowboys in 2003 (weirdly, also 5th overall). Newman also was a two-time Big 12 outdoor track champion in the 100 meters and the league champ in the indoor 60 meters.

7. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
One of the best pure covermen in the history of the SEC, Claiborne was a lock-down corner for LSU in two full seasons as the starter. He developed a reputation as a sophomore with five picks and 37 tackles en route to All-SEC honors. After that, no one threw at him. Despite teams staying away from him and a teammate getting more Heisman hype, Claiborne was named the nation’s top defensive back with the Thorpe Award and was a unanimous All-American. He helped LSU to a perfect 13-0 regular-season mark and an SEC title and a berth in the BCS national title game. He was taken sixth overall in the 2012 NFL Draft.

8. Derrick Strait, CB, Oklahoma
As the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year, Strait helped lead the Sooners to a perfect BCS National Championship as a freshman. By his senior season, Strait had led Oklahoma back to the BCS national title game and was recognized nationally with the Thorpe and Nagurski Trophies as the nation’s top defensive player. Strait also was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2003 before getting selected in the third round of the '04 NFL Draft.

9. Antoine Winfield, CB, Ohio State
Winfield might be the most underrated defensive back in the history of all levels of football. The consensus All-American helped Ohio State win 43 games in four years and nearly (or should have) played in the first BCS National Championship game in 1998. He was given the Thorpe and Tatum honors as a senior as the nation’s top defensive back before being selected 23rd overall in the 1999 NFL Draft.

10. Mark Barron, S, Alabama
The superstar safety was a three-time All-SEC pick, two-time All-American and helped the Crimson Tide win two BCS National Championships. He finished his career with 237 tackles, 13.0 for loss, 5.0 sacks and 12 interceptions. Many coaches called him the best player in the SEC in 2011 and he was taken with the seventh overall pick in the '12 NFL Draft.

Related: The Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

11. Troy Polamalu, S, USC
The big-play machine was a three-year starter for the West Coast powerhouse. He was a two-time All-Pac-10 selection, a consensus All-American and stuffed the stat sheet his entire career. The big hitter finished with 278 tackles, 29.0 for loss, six interceptions and four blocked punts. Polamalu led USC back to prominence with a league title and trip to the Orange Bowl before being taken in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft.

12. Jamar Fletcher, CB, Wisconsin
The Badgers’ coverman has as complete a resume as any during the BCS era. He was a two-time, first-team All-American and three-time, first-team All-Big Ten selection. He helped Wisconsin to back-to-back Big Ten and Rose Bowl championships and was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He holds UW’s all-time record with 21 interceptions and was named the nation’s top defensive back with the Thorpe and Tatum Trophies as a senior in 2000. He was a first-round pick in 2001.

13. Champ Bailey, CB, Georgia
From a versatility standpoint, few have ever been as explosive and dynamic as Champ Bailey. He was a lockdown cornerback, an elite returnman and a dangerous wide receiver. His senior season — the only year he played during the BCS era — Bailey posted 52 tackles and three interceptions on defense and caught 47 passes for 744 yards and five scores on offense. He was a two-time, first-team All-SEC pick and won the Nagurski Trophy in 1998. He was the seventh overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft.

14. Carlos Rogers, CB, Auburn
The Tigers coverman started 10 games as a freshman, earning Freshman All-American honors. He was a mainstay on the outside of Auburn’s defense for four years and it culminated in a historic 2004 campaign. Rogers was named the Thorpe Award winner, an All-American and helped Auburn to a perfect 13-0 record. He was the ninth overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.

15. Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
The Ohio State Buckeyes have a long tradition of great defensive backs and Jenkins is one of the most decorated. He started and was an All-Big Ten first-teamer for two unbeaten regular season teams that made it to the BCS National Championship in 2006 and ’07. He was a two-time All-American, Jim Thorpe winner, three-time All-Big Ten pick and was the 14th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.

16. Eric Weddle, S, Utah
Few players have ever done more for their team than Mr. Weddle. He was a freshman All-American at cornerback before shifting to safety for his final three years. He won back-to-back Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Awards and was a consensus All-American. When his collegiate career was over, Weddle posted 277 tackles, 18 interceptions, 22.5 tackles for loss, nine forced fumbles, 10.0 sacks, returned 52 punts, rushed 52 times for 259 yards and six touchdowns. He also threw a touchdown, recovered onside kicks, was used as an emergency punter and held at times on the field goal team.

17. Mike Doss, S, Ohio State
The Buckeyes safety was a rare three-time All-American, three-time, first-team All-Big Ten pick and won the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2002 for the BCS National Champions. He finished his career with 331 career tackles, eight interceptions, eight fumbles recovered and 6.0 sacks. He was a second-round pick in the 2003 NFL Draft.

18. LaRon Landry, S, LSU
The LSU safety might be the most physically imposing defensive back of the BCS era. He started 10 games as a true freshman for Nick Saban and the 2003 BCS National Championship squad. He made 80, 92 and 70 total tackles respectively during his three-year career and was a two-time All-SEC pick and 2006 consensus All-American. The thumper was the sixth pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.

19. Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona
The California native was a four-year contributor for Arizona from 2004-07. And fans knew all about Cason after he won Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week after his first collegiate game. He scored four times (2 INT, 2 PR) as a senior and he capped his electric career with the Jim Thorpe Award. He was a two-time, first-team all-conference pick and was the 27th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.

20. Anthony Poindexter, S, Virginia
He was a leader and one of the hardest hitting players to ever play the game — and made one of the most famous tackles in NCAA history. He set a school record with 98 tackles as a sophomore and was an All-American as a junior in 1997. Despite getting injured late in the year, Poindexter earned ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors and became a two-time All-American.

Related: The Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era

21. Michael Huff, S, Texas
The superstar safety from Texas was a Freshman All-American in 2002 before earning back-to-back first-team All-Big 12 honors as a junior and senior. He was a unanimous All-American on the 2005 BCS National Championship team and was a first-round pick in the '06 NFL Draft.

22. Aaron Ross, CB, Texas
Ross was a bit of a late bloomer but played a key role on the 2005 BCS National Championship squad. He capped his career in Austin with a stellar 2006 campaign in which he won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors and the Thorpe Award. Ross played 51 games during his career but only started 15 times, posting 205 tackles, 10 interceptions and was a dynamic punt returner. He was a first-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.

23. Phillip Buchanon, S, Miami
He was an electric return man and helped lead Miami to the 2001 BCS National Championship. For a school stacked with defensive backs, the first-round pick of the Raiders in 2002 was the best pure cover corner.

24. Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
An excellent all-around football player, Banks was just as good a leader and tackler as he was pure coverman. He was a first-team All-American and Thorpe Award winner for the Bulldogs. He posted 158 tackles, 11 interceptions and was a second-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.

25. Daymeion Hughes, CB, Cal
The shutdown corner started games all four years of his career, capping his Cal tenure with the Lott Trophy and Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year honors. He was a consensus All-American with 72 tackles, eight interceptions and 19 passes broken up before getting drafted in the third round in 2007.

26. Tyrone Carter, S, Minnesota
The Florida native was a tackling machine for the Golden Gophers, finishing his career with an NCAA-record 584 tackles. He was a two-time All-American and won the 1999 Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back.

27. Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
Along with Todd Reesing and others, Talib is responsible for the “glory” years of Kansas football. The two-time all-conference pick won the Tatum Trophy and was a unanimous All-American in 2007. He helped lead the Jayhawks to their only BCS bowl berth and win before getting picked 20th overall in the 2008 NFL Draft.

28. Antrel Rolle, S, Miami
Along with Sean Taylor (No. 4), Rolle was one of just four true freshmen to play on the dominant 2001 BCS National Championship team. He was an All-Big East pick as a sophomore and a unanimous All-American in the ACC in 2004. He was the eighth overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.

29. Joe Haden, CB, Florida
Haden was the first true freshman cornerback to ever start opening day for the Gators. He helped lead Florida to the BCS National Championship in 2008 and was named National Defensive Player of the Year in '09. He also was a unanimous All-American that year and went seventh overall in the 2010 NFL Draft.

30. Deltha O’Neal, CB, Cal
The All-American was also the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, Mosi Tatupu and Pop Warner Award winner. O’Neal set an NCAA record by returning four interceptions for touchdowns as a senior. He was a first-round pick in the 2000 NFL Draft.

Related: The Top 50 Wide Receivers of the BCS Era

31. Taylor Mays, S, USC
Mays was a rare three-time All-American from 2007-09 and a second-team All-American in '06 as a freshman. He helped lead the Trojans to three consecutive Pac-10 championships with an overall 34-5 record from 2006-08.

32. Leon Hall, CB, Michigan
He never missed a game in his four-year, 50-game career and led Michigan to three Rose Bowl appearances. He is Michigan’s all-time leader with 43 passes broken up and intercepted 12 career passes. The All-American was a first-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.

33. Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Quarterbacks stayed away from this flamboyant coverman. He was the 2010 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and a unanimous All-American. The two-time All-Big 12 pick was a first-round selection by the New York Giants in the 2011 NFL Draft.

34. Quentin Jammer, CB, Texas
The consensus All-American was a two-time, first-team All-Big 12 selection while at Texas. He finished his career with 195 total tackles and seven picks before being selected, of course, fifth overall in the 2002 NFL Draft.

35. Reggie Nelson, S, Florida
The hard-hitting safety patrolled center field for the BCS National Champions in 2006 with six interceptions and 51 tackles. He was a consensus All-American and Tatum Trophy winner in 2006. Nelson was taken in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft.

36. Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU
The Honey Badger won the Bednarik Award, was an All-American, made impact plays and was a Heisman finalist. However, he was also suspended multiple times, eventually kicked off the team — costing himself two full seasons — and was abused in the 2011 BCS National Championship game. It makes him one of the most difficult players of the BCS era to evaluate.

37. Keiwan Ratliff, CB, Florida
The dynamic playmaker finished his All-American Gators career with school records for interceptions (9) and was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year by some outlets. The two-time All-SEC pick was a second-round selection in the 2004 NFL Draft.

38. Jimmy Williams, DB, Virginia Tech
Playing multiple positions all over the defense, Williams was an unanimous All-American, ACC champion and Jack Tatum Trophy winner in 2005. He was a second-round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.

39. Jamaal Brimmer, S, UNLV
One of the more underrated players of the BCS era, Brimmer won back-to-back Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Awards and was a first-team All-American. He also helped UNLV to one of its biggest upsets in school history over Wisconsin in Madison.

40. Marcus Trufant, CB, Washington State
He started all four seasons for the Cougars and helped lead Washington State back to the Rose Bowl in 2002. He is arguably the best defensive back in school history and was the 11th overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft.

Related: The Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era

41. Jim Leonhard, S, Wisconsin
42. Chris McAlister, CB, Arizona
43. Fred Smoot, CB, Mississippi State
44. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
45. Tay Cody, CB, Florida State
46. Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest
47. Deon Grant, S, Tennessee
48. Corey Webster, CB, LSU
49. Eric Reid, S, LSU
50. Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State

Related: The Top 50 Offensive Linemen of the BCS Era

The Next 25:

51. Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State
52. Adam Jones, CB, West Virginia
53. Antonio Cromartie, CB, Florida State
54. Lito Sheppard, CB, Florida
55. DeAngelo Hall, CB, Virginia Tech
56. Donte Whitner, S, Ohio State
57. Marlin Jackson, S, Michigan
58. Will Allen, S, Ohio State
59. Earl Thomas, S, Texas
60. Kyle Wilson, DB, Boise State
61. Tracy Porter, CB, Indiana
62. Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech
63. Jason Allen, S, Tennessee
64. Tom Zbikowski, S, Notre Dame
65. Craig Steltz, S, LSU
66. T.J. Ward, S, Oregon
67. Kenny Phillips, S, Miami
68. Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
69. Michael Griffin, S, Texas
70. Bernard Pollard, S, Purdue
71. Kerry Rhodes, S, Louisville
72. Johnathan Joseph, CB, South Carolina
73. D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt
74. Shane Walton, S, Notre Dame
75. Javier Arenas, CB, Alabama

Top 50s of the BCS Era:
The Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era
The Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era
The Top 50 Wide Receivers of the BCS Era
The Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era
The Top 50 Offensive Linemen of the BCS Era

The Top 50 Defensive Linemen of the BCS Era

The Top 50 Linebackers of the BCS Era

Teaser:
Who are the best defensive backs of the BCS Era?
Post date: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/johnny-manziel-timeline
Body:

Johnathan Manziel is an incredible football player and the only redshirt freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.

Where many of us would shrink under the pressure, he is most at home on the football field, between the lines, under center and in front of 100,000 screaming nut-jobs. This is where Johnathan Manziel can be himself.

But Johnny Football is a totally different person.

He parties with Mark Cuban, Justin Timberlake, Drake, Jessica Biel and the entire Duck Dynasty crew. He rubs elbows with hip-hop and NBA stars, vacations in Cabo and tees it up at Pebble Beach. But he also gets into meaningless twitter spats with people who buy the ink by the barrel (looking at you, Paul Finebaum and Matt Hayes). He trolls opposing fan bases, rips on his own college campus and gets kicked-out of prestigious summer camps.

Keeping up with Johnathan Manziel is easy for Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin. But keeping track of Johnny Football is a totally different task. And it all started well before Manziel played his first college football game against Florida last September.

June 2012: Manziel and best friend/handler/secretary Steven Brant are arrested in Northgate district of College Station after getting into a fight with 47-year-old Marvin McKinney. Brant reportedly used a racial slur and the fight ensued. Manziel was charged with disorderly conduct, possessing a false identification (two, actually) and failure to identify. This happened while Manziel was battling Jameill Showers for the starting job before he ever played a down of college football.

July 2012: Manziel was privately suspended indefinitely following the incident and, according to Sportsday, was going to transfer to another school had the suspension not been lifted. Manziel eventually won the appeal, was reinstated and became the official starting quarterback of the Texas A&M Aggies.

Nov. 9, 2012: According to ESPN, the day before the historic Alabama-Texas A&M game that basically won Manziel the Heisman, the quarterback was in the Aggies team hotel signing more than 50 items for a “prominent autograph broker on eBay.” The broker added that more than 200 more items were signed a few days after the game. Friend and personal assistant Nathan Finch later informed the broker that he would no longer being signing things for free.

Dec. 8, 2012: The first redshirt freshman in NCAA history is awarded the Heisman Trophy when Johnny Manziel tops Manti Te’o and Collin Klein for sports most prestigious award.

Jan. 6, 2013: The reported massive signing of autographs for a huge five-figure paycheck takes place in Miami at the BCS National Championship game. More on this later. A few days earlier, Manziel was openly brazen about his “casino ballin'” when he instagrams a photo of himself and his buddies in an Oklahoma casino with handfuls of cash. This was his twitter response to the internet uproar: “Nothing illegal about being 18+ in a casino and winning money...KEEP HATING!” Let the trolling begin.

January 2013: Manziel teams up with trick shot superstars Dude Perfect Crew:

March 2013: Manziel takes a spring break vacation to Cabo, Mexico. A picture of Manziel shirtless and with a Texas Longhorns tattoo surfaces on the web. Many called the tattoo photoshopped, however, Manziel himself admitted it was a fake “henna” tattoo. More trolling.

March 2013: In spring practice, Manziel throws three interceptions, the last of which causes a defensive graduate assistant to jump up and down in celebration. Manziel was furious and shoves the GA and the two have to be broken up by teammates and coaches. It’s not all that unusual to see pushing and shoving on a football practice field, so take it for what it's worth.

April 2013: Manziel throws out the first pitch at a Texas Rangers home game.

May 2013: Manziel shoots a 79 at Pebble Beach and gets to throw out another first pitch, this time at a San Diego Padres game. Additionally, he heads out west to work with notable quarterback guru George Whitfield. Many big-time college quarterbacks have done this of late and, reportedly, Manziel completed 25-of-27 passes... blindfolded.

June 2013: It really isn’t worth sitting through, but Manziel and teammate Ryan Swope starred in Granger Smith’s music video “Silverado Bench Seat”. This isn’t part of the story at all, but it is funny that Manziel is featured in the video, of course, signing autographs.

June 10, 2013: Manziel tweets about being at Game 2 of the NBA Finals in South Beach. He is a Dallas Mavericks fan and grew up outside of San Antonio. Troll much?

June 2013: Manziel is given a parking ticket for parking the wrong way in front of his house and for his car windows being tinted too dark. He was out of town on a fishing trip and had the bizarre luxury of having a phone conversation with the police officer who wrote the ticket. Afterward, Manziel learns his new black Mercedes-Benz has been keyed. Manziel sent out the tweet heard ‘round the state: “Bull--- like tonight is the reason I can’t wait to leave College Station…whenever it may be.” It was immediately deleted and he followed that up with “Don’t ever forget that I love A&M with all of my heart, but please please walk a day in my shoes.” Yes, our bleeding hearts go out to you, kid.

July 2013: Johnny Manziel is sent home from the Manning Passing Academy. He was serving as a college coach and advisor where hundreds of kids from around the nation get the chance to work out with some of their heroes — undoubtedly Manziel was the biggest name. However, “after missing and being late for practice assignments,” he was sent home, by what most believe, was Archie Manning. Some say he was ill and others say he was out partying the night before. Either way, he got kicked out of the Manning Passing Academy. A few days later, Manziel is in attendance at the ESPY’s in Los Angeles.

July 2013: Manziel is the star of the show at the annual SEC Media Days circus in Hoover, Ala.

July 26-27, 2013: Manziel is kicked out of a frat party at the University of Texas. Video shows some (idiot) frat bros throwing beer cans at their arch-rival quarterback as he walks out. That doesn’t phase the young star, however, as he returns to another frat party the next day wearing a Tim Tebow jersey. Trolling at its finest.

July 30, 2013: Wright Thompson’s story about Johnny, his father Paul and the entire off-season is published online and in ESPN The Magazine. The story paints a bizarre and blindingly accurate portrait of Manziel’s upbringing, internal struggle and change in personality after gaining fame from his Heisman Trophy exploits. It is a brilliant piece of work from Thompson, but the timing is strange and no good could have come from it being published just weeks before camp opened for Texas A&M.

Aug. 4, 2013: “Outside the Lines” reports that Manziel is under NCAA investigation for accepting a five-figure flat fee for signing hundreds of autographs with a well-known memorabilia broker Drew Tieman back in January. Tieman met with the star quarterback at his residence in South Florida where the potential transaction took place. Multiple sources have confirmed to ESPN that this meeting happened, however, no one was in the closed-door meeting where money could have changed hands.

Aug. 5, 2013: Texas A&M opens camp and Kevin Sumlin speaks with the media. Johnny Manziel and the Aggies decide it’s best he doesn’t speak publicly at this time.

And that is where we stand in this Manziel media world we live in today. Most of the incidents listed above, if you want to call them that, are much to do about nothing. It actually IS just a kid being a kid, albeit a cocky, immature one. But when the NCAA gets involved and there is talk of major violations, things get serious in a hurry.

College football starts in 24 days and Texas A&M begins playing football in 26 days when Rice comes to town August 31. The Aggies expect to compete for an SEC and National Championship in 2013. Hundreds of millions are pouring into the ever-growing Kyle Field and its surrounding facilities in anticipation of the very bright future of TAMU athletics. 

But who will be playing quarterback? Will it be the guy who led the nation in total offense, scored 47 total touchdowns and miraculously defeated Alabama? Or will it be the guy who cusses his aunt and demands his daddy buy him a Mercedes?

Or will it be Matt Joeckel?
 

 

Teaser:
A look at Johnny Manziel's off-the-field antics.
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 16:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, Roto, MLB, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-aug-5
Body:

August is here and that means fantasy playoffs are quickly approaching. Athlon Sports has everything you need to catch up on what took place on the fantasy diamond during the past seven days. Our fantasy junkies bring you last week's top hitters, some starting pitchers who are on a roll, and also identify the waiver wire pick ups and spot starters you need to keep an eye on.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (July 29-Aug 4):

 NamePos.TeamRHRRBISBBAOPS
1Justin UptonOFATL9390.3871.246
2Andrew McCutchenOFPIT8172.3791.027
3Freddie Freeman1BATL9280.3751.038
4Matt HollidayOFSTL9062.4060.957
5Jason HeywardOFATL12170.3460.969
6Shane VictorinoOFBOS7260.4001.141
7Cody Ross*OFARI3152.5001.227
8Brian McCannCATL3390.3001.141
9Robbie Grossman*OFHOU6131.5001.269
10Chris Johnson1B/3BATL4180.4331.085
11Kendrys Morales1BSEA3150.5771.287
12Michael Saunders*OFSEA3380.3041.153
13Mike TroutOFLAA8120.5001.552
14Kole Calhoun*OFLAA5231.333.943
15Daniel Descalso*2/3/SSSTL5241.296.943
16A.J. Pierzynski*CTEX2271.308.846
17Nelson CruzOFTEX4350.2921.037
18Mark Trumbo1/3/OFLAA6380.138.642
19David Freese3BSTL6170.3201.052
20Mike Moustakas*3BKC3360.2921.041
21Ryan Raburn*2B/OFCLE3260.4121.326
22Erick Aybar*SSLAA6023.321.724
23Jacoby EllsburyOFBOS5142.290.787
24Anthony Rizzo1BCHC4340.3101.067
25Dustin Pedroia2BBOS5280.233.791

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Mike Moustakas, 3B, KC (38% owned in Yahoo! Leagues)
Tabbed as a preseason sleeper, Moose has disappointed any and all owners who took a chance on him. He is showing signs of life, however, as he is coming off one of his best weeks (No. 20 in Y!) and has been surging post-All-Star Break. He is hitting .278/.900 since the break with four HRs and nine RBIs in 14 games. Those numbers will play at a fantasy thin position.

Cody Ross, OF, ARI (14%)
Ross is a career .264/.779 hitter in the majors and might be worth taking a risk on after a really hot week. Ross hit 22 HRs and drove in 81 last year and while he hasn't posted those type of numbers this year in the desert, it proves he is capable of it. Should he start every night the rest of the way, Ross could provide some support.

Jonathan Villar, SS, HOU (5%)
This would be simply a speed play with some help in the runs scored department as well. He was called up last week by the Astros and was given the shortstop job full-time. He won't help much in other categories but he will help with his legs. He had 31 SBs in 91 minor leagues this year, 39 swipes in 86 games a year ago and already has six steals in 13 games in the majors. He is a deep reach but could offer big help in a couple of categories.

Devin Mesoraco, C, CIN (7%)
A former big-time prospect for the Reds, Mesoraco is showing signs of life as the full-time backstop. Over the last 14 days, he has clubbed four home runs and driven in 11 while hitting .304/.913 in 46 at-bats. He has upside but hasn't proven it yet so this could be the time to jump on the youngster. 

Xander Bogaerts, SS, BOS (10%)
This isn't a new name for minor league and deep league fans as Bogaerts is one of MLB's top prospects. Why he is mentioned here, however, is that Boston is playing him at third base now on the farm instead of shortstop. This appears to be preparing him for a potential battle with Will Middlebrooks for the big league job. He has hit .282/855 with eight homers and 25 RBIs in 47 games in AAA-Pawtucket this year for Boston. Bogaerts would be my pick over Middlebrooks. Plus, in keeper leagues, he could be a gem.

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

 NameTeamIPWKERAWHIP
1Jose FernandezMIA23.03351.570.70
2Max ScherzerDET21.23180.830.51
3Francisco LirianoPIT21.23220.420.83
4David PriceTB25.12171.070.47
5Yu DarvishTEX19.12290.470.83
6Tyson Ross*SD20.02221.350.70
7Mike MinorATL14.02110.640.43
8Jered WeaverLAA21.02201.590.79
9Lance LynnSTL21.02241.710.95
10Julio TeheranATL18.01231.000.89
11Doug FisterDET16.0280.560.69
12Justin MastersonCLE14.12150.630.98
13Scott Kazmir*CLE19.02171.890.84
14Clayton KershawLAD16.01130.560.69
15Mark Buehrle*TOR22.02152.050.82
16Bruce Chen*KC18.01172.000.67
17A.J. BurnettPIT23.01231.171.09
18Wade Miley*ARI14.02120.641.07
19Dan Haren*WAS19.02182.840.84
20Madison BumgarnerSF15.01180.601.07

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Top 5 Spot Starts for the Week (Mon. - Sun.):

1. Gerrit Cole, PIT (Thur.) vs. Miami (56% owned)
The former No. 1 overall pick has 10 career starts in the majors and has never allowed more than three earned runs in any game. He has only won one of his last six starts but should be more than capable of dominating the lowly Marlins offense.

2. Chris Archer, TB (Wed.) at Arizona (68%)
Few players have been as dominant over the last month as Archer has been for the Rays. Since the start of July, he has allowed seven earned runs in six starts (4-1). His latest start was the worst (7.0, 4 ER, 4 K) of the group, but a trip to the desert to take on the Diamondbacks should get him back on track.

3. Randall Delgado, ARI (Fri.) vs. NY Mets (8%)
Over his last three starts, Delgado is 3-0 with 12 K, four earned runs and just 12 hits allowed for the Diamondbacks. He will face the Mets without David Wright in the lineup coming up this weekend. Green light.

4. Jhoulys Chacin, COL (Thur.) vs. NY Mets (37%)
Chacin's last five starts have been extremely useful (2-2). Three times he allowed just one earned run and over his last nine outings he's yielded more than three earned runs just once. He gets the Wright-less Mets on Thursday after 11 Ks and just one walk in his last three.

5. Tony Cingrani, CIN (Sat.) vs. San Diego (56%)
Strikeouts are the name of the game for the young lefty. He has 97 punch outs in 82.2 IP this year, 35 whiffs over his last five starts (2-1) and he will get the Padres this weekend. He will walk some people (12 BB in his last four starts) but if you can survive the hit to the WHIP, he should win games and strike plenty of people out.

Closing Morsels
After more than a few trades involving closers — Jose Veras to Detroit, K-Rod to Baltimore — that means opportunity could arise from where you least expect it... The Pirates Jason Grilli is "making quality progress" and he has vowed to play again in 2013. However, he isn't throwing yet and Mark Melancon is a quality option to close (who likely isn't on your waiver wire)... Boston's Koji Uehara hasn't allowed a run since June 30 and has converted on his last five save chances. However, he has just two saves in his nine appearances... The Angels might be forced to go with a committee approach. Ernesto Frieri has sick strikeout numbers (69 in 46.2 IP) but has been downright atrocious of late. He has allowed a run in four of his last six appearances with a total of 10 ER in 4.1 IP.... Seattle took the closer's job away from Tom Wilhelmsen for the time being. However, there aren't many quality options backing him up: Charlie Furbush, Yoervis Medina, Oliver Perez or Danny Farquhar. My guess is Willy is back in the ninth inning soon enough.... Jim Henderson has been solid since reclaiming the job for the Brewers after K-Rod was traded to the Orioles. He is 5-for-5 in save chances in five appearances without a run allowed and just four base runners in that stretch.

Keep up to date all season long with Athlon Sports' Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid

Teaser:
Athlon Sports takes a look at what took place this past weekend on the fantasy baseball diamond
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 13:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-best-and-worst-logos-2013
Body:

Brand image is a massive part of modern 21st century business and college football is big business.

Signature uniforms like Michigan’s winged helmet, picturesque monuments like Lake Washington in Seattle or historic personalities like Bear Bryant help separate one team from the next in the college football with clarity. Fans identify with these brand images and it helps build value — or brand equity — for every program in the nation.

However, official school logos have been and will always be the simplest and most important way for a college program to classify and separate itself from its peers. Some change dramatically over time while others are literally set in stone for decades. Some are edgy, exciting and extremely busy while others are clean, classic and simple. 

Every college football program in the nation has an official logo — and some are better than others — and the goal is to be the most recognizable brand in the nation.

And since Athlon Sports has been designing the best looking magazines on newstands for the better part of half a century, we'd thought we'd turn our graphic design guru loose on college football's logos. Here are Athlon Sports Art Director Matt Taliaferro favorite football logos — and a few he can't stand.

College Football's Best Official Logos

 SchoolLogoThoughts
1.TexasThe best logo in college football, the Longhorn is classic, simple, unchanging but also unique and creative. There is nothing else to say.
2.ClemsonThere are tons of Tigers, Wildcats and Bulldogs in college sports but none use their mascot quite like Clemson. The Tiger Paw print is synonymous with Clemson athletics and is utterly simple but still edgy and creative. 
3.GeorgiaFind me a more effective marriage of color and simplicity of design and I'll hand these writing duties over to you. Georgia's logo is so timeless that I can't remember there ever being another that represented the football team. You see this, there's no confusion as to what you're looking at. If that's not a successful logo, I don't know what it.
4.BYUIt is one of the most recognizable logos in college sports. There is some creativity in the "Y" font and the inverted color scheme works very well on helmets, merchandise and the like.
5.North CarolinaThe interlocked N-C are as famous as any brand logo in the nation. There are simple touches of style — the font and black trim — that make this logo completely unmistakable.
6.TennesseeAs a logo, Tennessee's is as direct and to-the-point as it gets. Think what you will of the orange (personally, I'm no fan), but the unique working of the "T" is as good as it gets. As an aside, UT's retro Davy Crockett logo is badass.
7.Michigan StIt's clean, classic, gets the point across and is recognizable. It has some fierce edginess to it, the color scheme is perfect and there is no doubt it represents a Spartan.
8.WashingtonSimple, tasteful, unchanging and very obvious. This emblem with its signature gold trim is one of the best in the nation and leaves little doubt as to what it represents.
9.MiamiIt's as simple as it gets but also brings loads of creativity and history. No other logo turns into a hand signal like "The U" and the two-tone color scheme and pattern is unique.
10.Penn StHistorically speaking, few logos are as traditional as the Nittany Lions oval. The smooth looking Lions head has great lines and appears to be hunting... Wolverines or Buckeyes? Few logos combine classy and aggresive like PSU.
11.NebraskaAgain, simple and straight forward gets the point across. The colors and subtle trim are great and it appears that the Huskers have a monopoly on this letter. There is no doubting what this logo refers to.
12.UCLAThe script "UCLA" is one of the most well-known logos in all of sports much less college football. And the way the word Bruins is incorporated makes it one of the most informative in the nation while still being fairly simple.
13.StanfordMichigan State and NC State know exactly what the smart kids from Palo Alto were thinking when this logo was created. It's classic and simple with a touch of style in the stroked white/red trim. Stanford boasts one of the best brand logos in the nation.
14.MichiganIt doesn't get any more simple that the block "M" of Michigan. The font is excellent but it could use some blue trim or accents.
15.ColoradoThe Buffs logo balances all of the key aspects to a company logo. It's simple and classic but with just enough style and flair while also being incredibly unique. 
16.AuburnHard to find fault in the interlocking A-U. Again, trimming away all the waste and boiling a logomark down to its most basic typically nets the best results.
17.Kansas StAll of Kansas State's design work, color scheme and uniforms are underrated and the logo is the same. Aggressive, stylish but yet still fairly simple and clean.
18.OklahomaThere is no doubting what the interlocking "O" and "U" stand for, right? The smooth lines and lack of extras in the font make this a fantastic logo.
19.Texas A&MSomeone from A&M needs to call Texas Tech and explain how effective beveling is done. Like Vandy, Texas A&M's logo is simple and therefore works as a potent branding mark.
20.Ohio StateNormally, a name in a logo doesn't work, but the "S" is perfectly designed into the "O" and it works. It makes it busier than the cleaner, more classic logos above. The colors and trim are second to none.

Others receiving votes: West Virginia, Oregon, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, UConn, Louisville, Iowa

College Football's Worst Official Logos*

 TeamLogoThoughts
1.Oregon StOSU’s logo resembles some sort of odd flying wedge more than it does a beaver — although the inadvertent shark fin on the beaver’s head adds a touch of menace.
2.NorthwesternWas that wildcats drawn in with a Paper Mate? Working with purple already presents challenges and the overall design here isn’t helping.
3.South CarolinaIt’s not the chicken, it’s the “C.” A tweak to the hard inner angles and this logo is no longer in the bottom 5.
4.KansasThere may be some tradition associated with the Looney Tunes magpie but the primary colors scheme and cartoon-ish nature date the logo.
5.Texas TechSlow your bevel roll and quit stacking letters. That's my advice for the Red Raiders. Take a cue from instate rival Texas A&M about how to effectively bevel a logo.

* - Big 6, or "BCS," conferences only

Teaser:
College Football's Best and Worst Logos for 2013
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 06:00

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