Articles By Braden Gall

Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-week-2-picks
Body:

Like it or not, Las Vegas rarely gets it wrong, so tracking betting lines should always be a big part of each football weekend — even if there are no bets on the line. Whether you condone gambling or not, think of it as becoming a more informed fan.

My big underdogs to watch — Ohio, UL Monroe, UL Lafayette and Toledo — went 1-3 against the spread last week. But my Top Picks of the Weeks delivered in a big way, winning on four of the five. Week 2 of the college football season will always offer some over-corrections as some opening weekend performances were flukes. The key is knowing which ones, like say, Virginia, were flukes and which ones were legitimate.

2013 Record Against the Spread: 4-1 (4-1 last week)

Week 2 Picks of the Week:

Western Kentucky (+14) at Tennessee
The Hilltoppers were up 35-20 on Kentucky with less than 10 minutes to go last weekend. A couple of late scores made the score look closer than the game actually was because Western Kentucky was simply the better team by a wide margin. Tennessee crushed a bad OVC team in Austin Peay but played its starters barely more than a quarter. The Vols will likely win a close one by leaning on the ground game but Bobby Petrino is simply THAT good on game day. If Big Orange nation isn’t careful, the Toppers could win this game outright. Pick: Western Kentucky +14 

Arizona (-10) at UNLV
Arizona won 35-0 without star tailback Ka’Deem Carey last weekend while UNLV allowed 51 points to Minnesota. Carey returns to the lineup this weekend and forms a nasty tailback duo with Daniel Jenkins, who rushed for 139 yards on a 11.6-yard clip. Rich Rodriguez is still ironing out his quarterback situation but this offensive scheme is too strong for the Rebels to stop. UNLV allowed 5.8 yards per carry to the Gophers last weekend, whose backfield has been hit hard with injuries. Something seems off with this line. Pick: Arizona -10

Oregon (-21.5) at Virginia
This might be a classic Week 1 over-correction. Virginia unexpectedly beat BYU in Week 1 and that seems to have skewed this point-spread in a big way. The Cavaliers totaled 223 yards of offense, ranking dead last among BCS teams with 3.0 yards per play. The game was played in a monsoon, delayed for two hours and Virginia needed a blocked punt and turnover to even possess the ball in BYU's red zone. Conversely, Oregon scored 66 points (covering the 59-point spread) on 772 yards of offense despite having the ball on offense for less than 20 minutes. This is going to be ugly. Pick: Oregon -21.5

Florida (-3) at Miami
There are a lot of reasons to jump on the Miami bandwagon in 2013. Stephen Morris is a great quarterback, Al Golden is a rising coaching star and the defense showed improvement in Week 1 against FAU. Yet, Florida is still the big dog on the Sunshine State block after a dominating defensive performance last week. Toledo is a solid offense that averaged over 6.0 yards per play last year. The Gators totally shutdown the Rockets in the opener: Six points, 50 plays, 205 yards of offense and 3.8 yards per play. The Gators will control the line of scrimmage and impose their physical will upon Miami’s defense — that was ranked 120th nationally at 486.4 yards allowed per game last season. Pick: Florida -3

Texas (-7) at BYU
With two minutes to go in the second quarter, New Mexico State was up 7-0 on Texas last weekend. Over the next 8:37 of game time, the Longhorns scored five touchdowns to take a 35-7 lead. The new-look Horns offense finished with a school-record 715 yards and covered the 42-point spread. BYU lost in a bit of an aforementioned fluky performance against Virginia, deflating this game’s balloon to some degree. The Cougars are much better on defense than New Mexico State but the slow start last week should have the Horns on edge this weekend. Pick: Texas -7

Cincinnati (-7.5) at Illinois
The Bearcats are a far superior team in all aspects and they proved that by drubbing Purdue 42-7 last week. Illinois needed a goal-line stand in the waning moments of their opener with Southern Illinois. Cincy brings a balanced attack while Illinois struggled to move the ball whatsoever on the ground last week. Look for Cincinnati to go 2-0 against the Big Ten Leaders division out of the gate. Pick: Cincinnati -7.5

Week 2 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Top 25 Picks Against the Spread:

Note: games with FCS opponents won't be included each week

Top 25 GamesMitch LightBraden GallSteven LassanDavid Fox
No. 2 Oregon (-21.5) at Virginia
San Diego State (+27.5) at No. 3 Ohio State
San Jose State (+26.5) at No. 5 Stanford
No. 6 South Carolina (+3) at No. 11 Georgia
UAB (+35) at No. 9 LSU
No. 10 Florida (-3) at Miami
No. 13 Oklahoma St (-26.5) at UTSA
No. 14 Notre Dame (+4.5) at No. 17 Michigan
No. 15 Texas (-7) at BYU
West Virginia (+20.5) at No. 16 Oklahoma
Syracuse (+12) at No. 19 Northwestern
Southern Miss (+28.5) at No. 22 Nebraska
Buffalo (+27) at No. 23 Baylor
Washington St (+15) at No. 25 USC
Last Week:11-77-1110-811-7
Year-To-Date:11-77-1110-811-7

 

Teaser:
Betting Against the Spread: College Football Week 2 Picks
Post date: Friday, September 6, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/2013-pac-12-week-2-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The first weekend of action was mostly positive for Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. Mostly.

Washington might have been the most impressive team in the nation after a huge performance against regional rival Boise State. Utah, behind developing quarterback Travis Wilson, clinched an important in-state rivalry win over Utah State. Mark Helfrich and Mike MacIntyre debuted with solid wins. And even in losses, Washington State and Cal appeared to be improved teams from a year ago.

However, Oregon State completely dropped the ball in a head-scratching loss to Eastern Washington at home. The good news for the Beavers and the Pac-12 is that the only game it will lose in Week 2 is a conference game with itself (Wazzu at USC).

UCLA and Washington will get to rest this weekend while fans at Stanford and Arizona State finally get their season started.

Week 2 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC

Pac-12 Week 2 Game Power Rankings

1. Washington State (+15) at USC (10:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1)
In a not-so-marquee weekend out West, the first Pac-12 conference game of the 2013 season takes center stage. As usual, quarterback play will be key as Connor Halliday must be given time to throw for Washington State while someone in a USC uniform needs to complete forward passes. USC’s defense looks much improved and will keep the score down so Lane Kiffin should only need the smallest amount of offense to win the Trojans’ ninth in a row over Wazzu.

2. Oregon (-23.5) at Virginia (3:30 p.m., ABC)
Virginia used some inclement weather to pull an unexpected upset over BYU last week at home. Facing Marcus Mariota and the Ducks' offense is battling literally a bird of a different feather and the Cavs might need more than a monsoon to hang with Oregon. Helfrich and company rolled-up 772 yards of offense and is leading the nation at 10.9 yards per play after one week. And despite winning the game, the Wahoos mustered just 223 yards of offense on a pathetic 3.0 yards per play (116th nationally). Keep an eye on star freshman Thomas Tyner, who will make his NCAA debut after missing last week with an injury.

3. San Jose State (+26.5) at Stanford (10 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
The Cardinal begin their Pac-12 title defense by hosting David Fales and the Spartans after sitting on the sidelines last weekend. Fales is a highly touted passing prospect and was solid but uninspiring in his season debut last weekend (16-of-32, 225 yards, 2 TD). He should be handled by what could be the best non-SEC defense in the nation while Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan could make the statement that he is actually the best signal-caller in this game.

4. Hawaii (+26.5) at Oregon State (8 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
No team in this league needs a win more in Week 2 than Mike Riley’s Beavers. The defensive performance from Oregon State last week against an FCS foe was utterly bizarre as OSU ranked last among BCS conference teams with 625 yards allowed in Week 1. That unit has to improve against a struggling Hawaii offense that mustered just 3.2 yards per play against USC. Quarterback Sean Mannion was a bright spot for a Beavers offense that has plenty of playmakers (See Brandin Cooks). Oregon State should be able to quickly turn its season around in Corvallis this Saturday.

5. Arizona (-10) at UNLV (10:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network)
One team won 35-0 and the other allowed 51 points to Minnesota in Week 1, so why does Vegas think this game will be so close? Well, UNLV actually out-gained the Gophers 419 yards to 320 last week and Arizona’s complete team effort came against Northern Arizona. Look for Rich Rodriguez to welcome back star tailback Ka’Deem Carey in a big way by feeding him (and backup Daniel Jenkins) the ball in an effort to take pressure of his quarterbacks. The Wildcats should win easily but should be on upset alert.

6. Sacramento State (+37) at Arizona State (Thurs., 10 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
Taylor Kelly and Chaz Sutton make their 2013 premiere against a vastly overmatched opponent. Arizona State has a difficult schedule with marquee non-conference games looming large on the horizon, so an easy win should come as a welcome treat for the team picked by Athlon Sports to win the Pac-12 South. Look for complete and utter domination from the Sun Devils.

7. Central Arkansas (+14.5) at Colorado (8 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
Central Arkansas won last week 58-7 over… the University of the Incarnate Word? (It’s in San Antonio, in case you were wondering.) But that strong showing has the Sugar Bears as just a two-touchdown underdog to the Buffaloes. MacIntrye became just the second Colorado coach since the 1930s to win his first game and should be poised for a 2-0 start — which would already top CU’s 2012 win total.

8. Weber State (+23) at Utah (2 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
New co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson had an immediate impact on Travis Wilson and the Utah offense. This unit scored on two long drives in the waning moments of a huge win over Utah State and Wilson appears to be poised for a big season in Salt Lake City. Kyle Whittingham needs to get his team back to the postseason and any win is a good one for the Utes — even a gimme over the Wildcats of Weber State.

9. Portland State (+27.5) at Cal (5 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
Sure, the Bears allowed 508 yards of offense and 44 points in the Week 1 loss to Northwestern. But there was plenty to like about Sonny Dykes' debut in Berkeley, namely quarterback Jared Goff. This team has plenty of playmakers but needed a quarterback to make the offense move and Goff delivered in a big way. Portland State should pose little threat and Dykes should get his first win at Cal.

Pac-12 Week 2 Pivotal Players:

1. Washington State’s offensive line
It’s just one week but the USC Trojans are leading the nation in sacks after registering 7.0 against Hawaii last week. So the spotlight is on the Wazzu offensive line this weekend. The Cougars played well on the road against a very talented Auburn defensive line last week by rushing for 120 yards on 5.2 yards per carry. Protecting Connor Halliday and moving the chains on the ground might be Mike Leach’s only chance at a victory in the Cougars' ’13 Pac-12 debut.

2. Cody Kessler and Max Wittek, QB, USC
On the flip side, USC has to get better quarterback play to be considered a contender in the Pac-12. Neither Kessler (10-of-19) nor Wittek (5-of-10) were very efficient last week against Hawaii and neither topped 100 yards passing. Until one of these two highly touted signal-callers separates himself on the field, the Trojans won’t be anything but a fringe Top 25 team.

3. Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford
The Stanford safety is one of the nation’s best players and he will get an interesting test in the Cardinal’s season debut. David Fales is one of the more talented signal-callers in the nation after a monster 2012 campaign and solid ’13 opener (225 yards, 2 TD). The chess match between Reynolds and Fales should be fun to watch this weekend.

4. Oregon’s backfield
Yes, Marcus Mariota is important. Duh. So is De’Anthony Thomas. But after Virginia played much better than anticipated in an upset win over BYU, there is more of a spotlight on this unit than expected. Byron Marshall topped 100 yards last week and uber-recruit Thomas Tyner will make his Oregon debut. The Cavaliers allowed 144 yards to Cougars tailback Jamaal Williams and 42 yards and a score to quarterback Taysom Hill. The Ducks' backfield will likely show the nation that the Cavs' win last week was a bit of a fluke.

5. Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
The star running back was suspended last week for the easy win over Northern Arizona. Daniel Jenkins filled the void adequately with 139 yards on 12 carries but should take a backseat this weekend to Carey. On the road, the powers that be in Las Vegas seem to think the Arizona-UNLV game will be closer than the experts are predicting. This, and a fluid quarterback situation, puts pressure on Carey to perform at the highest level in his first game of the season. 

Pac-12 Week 2 Predictions:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
Washington St (+15) at USCUSC, 31-21USC, 27-13USC, 34-17USC, 35-28
Oregon (-23.5) at VirginiaOregon, 45-17Oregon, 28-6Oregon, 41-20Oregon, 49-14
San Jose St (+26.5) at StanfordStanford, 51-13Stanford, 31-14Stanford, 38-17Stanford, 35-17
Hawaii (+26.5) at Oregon StOregon St, 45-20Oregon St, 33-14Oregon St, 38-13Oregon St, 35-10
Arizona (-10) at UNLVArizona, 38-17Arizona, 41-17Arizona, 41-20Arizona, 35-21
Sacramento St (+37) at Arizona StArizona St, 52-3Arizona St, 44-6Arizona St, 48-14Arizona St, 42-10
Central Ark. (+14.5) at ColoradoColorado, 31-10Colorado, 41-20Colorado, 45-20Colorado, 28-14
Weber St (+23) at UtahUtah, 34-10Utah, 31-13Utah, 48-13Utah, 31-14
Portland St (+27.5) at CalCal, 44-17Cal, 41-20Cal, 50-17Cal, 49-17
Last Week: 9-17-38-26-4
Year-to-date:9-17-38-26-4

 

Teaser:
2013 Pac-12 Week 2 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/2013-big-ten-week-2-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Northwestern and Indiana have interesting tests this weekend. Illinois is facing an uphill battle against Cincinnati. But, for the most part, the Big Ten should be business as usual in Week 2.

That is, of course, except in Ann Arbor. Notre Dame and Michigan are two of the most historic and tradition-rich programs in the nation and a minor verbal sparring match between the two blue-collar, rough-around-the-edges coaches has only added to the hype of this game.

With College Gameday in town, all eyes nationally should fall upon The Big House Saturday night.

Week 2 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12Pac-12 | SEC

Big Ten Week 2 Game Power Rankings:

1. Notre Dame (+3.5) at Michigan (8 p.m., ESPN)
Whether Brian Kelly believes this is a “historic, traditional” rivalry game or not, fans of both should settle in for one of weekend’s best matchups. Michigan has won three of the last four and five of the last seven but Notre Dame won 13-6 a year ago in the lowest scoring meeting since 1909. Kelly and Brady Hoke have split their two meetings with the home team taking both while the Wolverines are currently riding a 15-game home winning streak overall. Both quarterbacks will take center stage as Tommy Rees is coming off the best showing of his career and Devin Gardner dropped a 59-spot on Central Michigan last week. Look for the Irish’s defensive line to be a potential game-changer. If Louis Nix and company can keep Gardner in the pocket, the Irish have a chance to pull the road upset in what could be the final meeting in years between two of the three winningest programs in NCAA history.

2. Syracuse (+12) at Northwestern (6 p.m., BTN)
Kain Colter is still being listed as “day-to-day” and it has forced Syracuse to prepare as such. Don’t be shocked, however, if Pat Fitzgerald plays it safe with his dynamic playmaker because he has an excellent “backup” plan in Trevor Siemian. Siemian didn’t play his best game last week — 276 yards, TD, 2 INT — but led his team to a victory on the road against an improved Cal squad. Some help from star tailback Venric Mark (11 att., 29 yards) would be nice because the Wildcats can’t count on two defensive touchdowns every Saturday to win games.

3. Navy (+12.5) at Indiana (6 p.m., BTN)
The Hoosiers should have revenge on the mind when the Midshipmen come to town this weekend. This was an epic 31-30 road loss for Kevin Wilson’s squad last season in a game that featured a combined 430 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on the ground. The two combined for just 340 yards, one TD and two INTs through the air. Expect the Big Ten’s top passing offense to be more effective now with Tre Roberson and Nate Sudfeld back on the field. Coming off a record-setting performance in Week 1, Wilson is looking for his second consecutive 2-0 start at Indiana.

4. Cincinnati (-8) at Illinois (Noon, ESPN2)
The Bearcats are looking to go 2-0 against the Big Ten Leaders Division after thoroughly dismantling Purdue last week. The Illini, on the other hand, needed a last-minute, goal-line stand to sneak past FCS foe Southern Illinois. Cincinnati brings tremendous balance into the game on offense after topping 200 yards on the ground and through the air last week while Illinois was anything but balanced. Nathan Scheelhaase threw for 416 yards but the ground game added just 49 yards on 30 attempts. If Tim Beckman wants to pull the upset at home, his offense will need to be more balanced.

5. San Diego State (+28) at Ohio State (3:30 p.m., ABC)
Buffalo hung around longer than expected against the Buckeyes last week and, although OSU was shorthanded due to suspensions, Urban Meyer likely had a field day with the game tape. The struggles for Ohio State, however, pale in comparison to the way the Aztecs got their season started last week. Eastern Illinois crushed San Diego State 40-19 behind 533 yards of offense on the road. The four-touchdown spread says it all.

6. South Florida (+23.5) at Michigan State (Noon, ESPNU)
The Spartans were bad on offense last week, be it Andrew Maxwell or Connor Cook running the offense, as it scored just one touchdown and mustered just 297 yards. That said, South Florida was worse. McNeese State set NCAA records for points scored and margin of victory by an FCS team over an FBS opponent (53-21). Sparty wins big — and take the under.

7. Southern Miss (+28.5) at Nebraska (6 p.m., BTN)
After allowing 602 yards and 35 first downs to Wyoming last weekend, the Black Shirts desperately need to get back on track. And despite a shocking loss to Texas State in Week 1, Southern Miss could provide an interesting test. The Cornhuskers offense is a proven commodity but USM quarterback Allan Bridgeford, who threw for 377 yards last week, could push Big Red’s defense. Was Brett Smith simply that good? Or are there much bigger issues in Lincoln than originally expected?

8. Minnesota (-16) at New Mexico State (8 p.m.)
The only team in the league playing on the road this weekend will be the Golden Gophers. New Mexico State gave Texas a first-half scare last weekend before allowing a billion yards to David Ash and the Longhorns over the final 32 minutes. Jerry Kill can’t expect three non-offensive touchdowns each week and his backfield is depleted, so all eyes turn once again to sophomore quarterback Philip Nelson.

9. Eastern Michigan (+23.5) at Penn State (Noon, BTN)
Christian Hackenberg is always worth the price of admission, so this one is worth checking out. Otherwise, Ron English and the Eagles are vastly over-matched and should pose little threat to the Nittany Lions beginning the year 2-0. Especially since Allen Robinson should play from the opening kickoff this week.

10. Missouri State (+24.5) at Iowa (Noon, BTN)
Kirk Ferentz has to be happy to see a Missouri Valley team on the schedule in Week 2. His tenuous coaching tenure took a major blow last week against Northern Illinois and fans can expect the Hawkeyes to roll up a big number in their second game. Jake Rudock will look to build on his adequate Week 1 performance.

11. Indiana State (+17) at Purdue (Noon, BTN)
Darrell Hazell could not have debuted in any uglier fashion than the 42-7 drubbing he took at the hands of Cincinnati last week. The Sycamores allowed Indiana to break all types of records on offense last week. Hazell’s team needs to eliminate mistakes and play efficient football in what could be their only win in the first two months of the season.

12. Tennessee Tech (+44.5) at Wisconsin (Noon, BTN)
Three different Badgers topped 100 yards rushing and Joel Stave returned to the starting lineup last week in the 45-point win over UMass. And the point spread was 44.5 last weekend too. A second-straight 45-0 win for Gary Andersen sounds about right.

Big Ten Week 2 Pivotal Players:

1. Taylor Lewan, OL, Michigan
Lewan and his cohorts along the Michigan offensive line must protect The Big House to win Saturday night. And that means protecting star quarterback Devin Gardner and his running backs from one of the saltiest defensive lines in the nation. Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt are future NFL Draft picks and should play better this weekend than they did in their season debut against Temple. Who wins the line of scrimmage battle when the Wolverines have the ball will likely determine who wins this monumental showdown.

2. Trevor Siemian, QB, Northwestern
Northwestern wasn’t at its best — or healthiest — last week against Cal but still managed an impressive road win. Should Kain Colter not play against Syracuse, the offensive onus will fall to Siemian to lead the Wildcats in their home debut. He is a different player than Colter and shouldn’t try to make the same type of plays, so there is added pressure on his supporting cast as well. A litany of talented skill players, especially Venric Mark, need to step up and allow Siemian the opportunity to distribute the football efficiently.

3. Indiana’s front seven
The Middies from the Naval Academy are an absolute nightmare to prepare for and scheme against. Stopping a triple option offense begins and ends with assignment football, gap control and discipline. This is what the Indiana front seven will have to deal with this weekend. Navy ran for 257 yards and two scores on 57 attempts last year in the 31-30 home win over the Hoosiers.

4. Nebraska's secondary
Wyoming’s Brett Smith torched this unit last weekend to the tune of 383 yards and four touchdowns on 29 completions. Southern Miss' Allan Bridgeford, albeit in a loss, posted similar numbers a week ago. The Huskers have to improve in the secondary against the pass if they expect to compete with teams like UCLA, Michigan, Northwestern and potentially Ohio State this fall.

5. Josh Ferguson and Donovonn Young, RB, Illinois
The Illini were completely one-sided in their win over Southern Illinois last weekend and it falls to these two ball-carriers to fix that problem. Illinois ran the ball 30 times for 49 yards with Ferguson (nine att.) and Young (eight att.) getting the majority of the work. If these two (and the O-line) aren’t more productive, it will be a long day against Cincy.

Big Ten Week 2 Prediction Grid:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
Notre Dame (+3.5) at MichiganMichigan, 20-17 Michigan, 24-20Michigan, 24-20Michigan, 28-17
Syracuse (+12) at NorthwesternN'Western, 34-20N'Western, 33-24N'Western, 34-20N'Western, 35-14
Navy (+12.5) at IndianaIndiana, 38-20Indiana, 38-24Indiana, 38-31Indiana, 42-24
Cincinnati (-8) at IllinoisCincy, 38-20Cincy, 20-10Cincy, 34-20Cincy, 35-17
San Diego St (+28) at Ohio StOhio St, 49-14Ohio St, 41-10Ohio St, 40-17Ohio St, 38-14
USF (+23.5) at Michigan StMich. St, 21-13Mich. St, 31-14Mich. St, 31-13Mich. St, 17-10
So. Miss (+28.5) at NebraskaNebraska, 42-21Nebraska, 38-8Nebraska, 45-14Nebraska, 49-14
Minnesota (-16) at NMSUMinn., 41-21Minn., 33-17Minn., 38-17Minn., 24-14
E. Michigan (+23.5) at Penn StPenn St, 31-3Penn St, 28-6Penn St, 45-14Penn St, 28-7
Missouri St (+24.5) at IowaIowa, 30-10Iowa, 27-10Iowa, 41-7Iowa, 21-7
Indiana St (+17) at PurduePurdue, 24-7Purdue, 34-10Purdue, 38-13Purdue, 28-17
Tenn. Tech (+44.5) at WisconsinWisc., 51-7Wisc., 47-0Wisc., 55-3Wisc., 52-3
Last Week:11-111-111-112-0
Year-to-date:11-111-111-112-0

 

Teaser:
2013 Big Ten Week 2 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 07:14
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/ranking-best-and-worst-nfl-logos-2013
Body:

Brand equity. Brand awareness. Brand image. These are all economic terms that overlap, exist in a nebulous world and don’t directly impact the bean-counters. But as the media world has grown over the last half century, so has the understanding and belief in things like advertising, marketing and, of course, branding. Business executives figured out early on that separating oneself, especially in a saturated marketplace, could be the difference between success and failure.

And so things like tag lines — “I’m loving it” or “We pick you up” — and brand logos are born. Volvo being known for having safe cars or Chick-Fil-A known for it’s Sunday beliefs have been interwoven into the fabric of those corporate cultures.

But a company’s logo is still the most recognizable, most direct way to separate yourself from your competitors. The NFL is no different. And since Athlon Sports has been producing the best looking magazine on newsstands for the better part of five decades, we feel qualified to analyze all 32 NFL team logos for 2013.

And I turned our graphic design guru and Art Director Matt Taliaferro loose on the current roster of NFL logos and here is what he came up with:
 

 TeamLogoAnalysis
1.DallasWhat other franchise, company or corporate entity in general has gotten more mileage out of a simple star? If it ain't broke (and if it's immediately identifiable) ...
2.Green BayQuite frankly, I don't care whether the universities of Georgia or Grambling or the NFL's Titletown bunch was the first to it (so save me your history lesson), the classic oblong "G" is timeless regardless of team.
3.Kansas CityThe brilliance of this logo lies in how it combines the arrowhead with a rather unique, yet vinatage, font (as logos go, anyway). These "old school" logos fit well with the proud, "old school" fanbases.
4.IndianapolisThe most successful NFL brands are represented by a singular, unmistakably unambiguous logo. The horseshoe personifies that.
5.San FranciscoSan Fran's old "circle logo" needed some refreshing, and when that came to pass a few years ago it was handled with as much elegance as I can imagine. Yeah, I just used the word "elegance" in relation to a football team.
6.ChicagoEver notice the Cincinnati Reds have basically the same logo? The differing color schemes help mask that truth. Hey, go with what works.
7.New OrleansThe fleur-de-lis encapsulates what the city of New Orleans — and the franchise name "Saints" — is all about. An otherwise simple design that marries a team to a region is typically a winner.
8.NY GiantsBold, block lettering portrays the idea of "giant" without getting literal. I'm a sucker for their unis, too.
9.HoustonIs there another logo that incorporates the feel of a fanchise's locale better than Houston's? And with such direct simplicity? The steer, the star, just the right amount of "mod." Answer: I don't think so.
10.OaklandThe marriage of logo and fanbase is no stronger anywhere in the NFL as it is in Oakland ... and in the end that's the most important thing, right?
11.PittsburghAn historic logo whose significance lies as much in the industrial world as the sporting realm. That in itself makes up for the rather bland imagery.
12.DetroitDetroit's lion was redesigned by using just the right amount of contemporary touch. No overdoing things here. Well done.
13.NY JetsWhen the Jets '80s-fied" their logo the look lasted about as long as those of the parachute pants that the designer wore at the time. A case study in why not to jump on the trendy bandwagon when branding is involved.
14.AtlantaAn aggressive logo whose subtle use of angles and simple, aerodynamic curves fit well with the "Falcons" moniker. A sure favorite of the avant-garde amonst us.
15.DenverRemember prior to the '97 season when Denver changed uniforms and logos? Then it was radical, now it's common. This logo beats the hell out of the alternate "bucking bronco" mark. Don't bother Googling it; I gotcha.
16.San DiegoSubtle color changes aside, the Chargers have enjoyed a successful 50-plus year run with a lightning bolt. Ironically, there's nothing "flashy" about it, yet in the overall theme, it has worked quite well.
17.New England"Flying Elvis" quips aside, New England's logo design encapsulates the Minuteman/Revolutionary/Patriot theme in a smart, tidy way.
18.WashingtonLove the feathers. If (when?) this franchise makes a complete overhaul, keeping those around in some form would be wise.
19.SeattleSeattle sports are doing a nice job of unifying their themes. Its NFL franchise has done a solid job of going radical with a new look, while not indulging in some of the gaudiness that has come to define sports in the Great Northwest (looking at you, UO).
20.MiamiIt was time, Miami. This logo tweak has been handled with class ... the Marlins could take a lesson. As could a couple of the NFL franchises on this list.
21.BuffaloI mean, how are you gonna make a buffalo look cool? They've done a lot with a little. And it tramples the old "standing bison" look.
22.St. LouisWe're wading into "over-Illustrator'd" logo territory, now. I love the color scheme (St. Louis calls it "Millenium Blue" and "New Century Gold"); the mark could use ... something, but I can't put my pen tool on it.
23.ArizonaA more fearsome cardinal has helped Arizona's mark. Still, it's a bit underwhelming.
24.Tampa BayIt's a nice little package that the Bucs have put together here. And certainly more marketable than "Buccanneer Bruce."
25.CincinnatiA stylized "B" with tiger stripes. Could be better, could be worse. Much like the on-field product.
26.MinnesotaThe simple horns on Minnesota's helmet work better than He-Man over there. Braided hair in a football logo seldom works (that's why no one else does it).
27.Tennessee"The Flaming Thumbtack" has elements that work: the three stars that are reflected on the state flag and the Greek theme, tying in Nashville's billing as the "Athens of the South." A quirky logo that far outdistances the team's ghastly uniforms.
28.ClevelandTechnically, Cleveland's logo is the helmet, making placing a logo on the helmet impossible. Talk about minimalistic.
29.MiamiA somewhat cartoonish representation of a bald eagle, this works in a late-90s sort of way. That, however, was 15 years ago.
30.CarolinaCarolina is another relatively new franchise that seems to have struggled to find its identity. That is reflected in the logo, which just received a slight adjustment to solidify it's Arena League-esque quality.
31.JacksonvilleI'm not going anywhere near the atrocious gold-to-black helmet gradient, so as to the logo: Yes, it looks like a jaguar. With a blue tongue. Now please move along quickly.
32.BaltimoreBaltimore has seriously struggled in the logo department since stealing Cleveland's Browns adopting the Ravens. I mean, purple and black? Let's just call them the Baltimore Bruises and be done with it.

 

Teaser:
Ranking the Best and Worst NFL Logos in 2013
Post date: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 16:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-1-heisman-trophy-voting
Body:

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.

College football watched a whole new batch of superstars debut this weekend. Freshman all over the nation joined the party, in particular, at Florida State with Jameis Winston, Penn State with Christian Hackenberg, Oklahoma with Trevor Knight and Texas Tech with Baker Mayfield. This foursome of first-year quarterbacks combined for 1,133 yards passing and 13 touchdowns through the air while adding 132 combined yards on the ground and two more scores. And Winston has quickly found his way into the hearts and minds of Heisman voters.

That said, Week 1's biggest Heisman winner came from the week's biggest team in the week's biggest win. Clemson's Tajh Boyd is now your Athlon Sports Heisman Trophy front-runner.

Post-Week 1 Voting Results:

 LWPlayerPos.TeamPts1st2nd3rd4th5th
1.(6)Tajh BoydQBClemson52/658121-
2t.(1)Braxton MillerQBOhio St351343-
2t.(3)Marcus MariotaQBOregon35332-2
4.(7)Teddy BridgewaterQBLouisville23-314-
5.(2)Johnny ManzielQBTexas A&M1711113
6.(ur)Jameis WinstonQBFlorida St12-1113
7t.(4)Jadeveon ClowneyDESouth Carolina7-1-11
7t.(ur)Todd GurleyRBGeorgia7--2-1
9.(ur)Brett HundleyQBUCLA3---11
10.(5)AJ McCarronQBAlabama2---1-
11t.(ur)Duke JohnsonRBMiami1----1
11t.(ur)Keith PriceQBWashington1----1

Heisman Headlines:

Clowney disrespected: After being fourth in the Athlon preseason voting last week and following a workman-like 27-10 win over North Carolina, Clowney has been dropped completely off Heisman ballots by all but three voters. Clowney was visibly tired and claimed a stomach virus slowed him down last week but the Cocks still won a key game with relative ease due to the play of the defense. He was on nine of the 13 ballots last week, but after just three total tackles, is on just three ballots this week (one was mine, for the record). So one middling game has completely changed the perception of the nation’s best player?

Famous Jameis: After just one game, Florida State’s Jameis Winston has catapulted into the middle of the Heisman race by landing on six of Athlon’s 13 ballots. He was remarkable against Pitt — 25-of-27, 356 yards, 5 total TDs — and has an extremely bright future at Florida State. But, should a guy with 60 minutes of career playing time be ahead of the clear-cut best player in the nation, Jadeveon Clowney? Only time will tell.

Love him or hate him: For better or worse, Johnny Manziel crammed a whole lot of stuff into just 30 minutes of football. He had some typical “JFF” scrambles and scored three touchdowns but also was penalized for taunting and offered a signature hand gesture for one special Rice Owl. He was No. 2 in the voting last week with five first-place votes but got just one first-place vote this time around and was left off six ballots. He will post some big numbers this season but most of his candidacy will hinge on his play against Alabama and LSU. 

Murray, Lee, Martinez Disappear: Aaron Murray didn’t play poorly at all but watched Clemson claim the first marquee win of the season. He moved to 1-10 against Top 15-ranked teams and was dropped completely off all 13 Heisman ballots. Marqise Lee, Kevin Hogan and Taylor Martinez all failed to get a single vote as well after being among the 11 vote-getters last week.

East Coast Bias: Marcus Mariota got three first-place votes this week after a stellar showing against lowly Nicholls State. But is there an East Coast bias? While Lee and Hogan disappeared from ballots, Bishop Sankey and De’Anthony Thomas also didn't get a single vote despite huge performances in Week 1. Ka'Deem Carey, who was suspended in Week 1, hasn't received a single vote in two weeks either. That said, Pac-12 quarterbacks Keith Price and Brett Hundley showed up. Price looked more like his 2011 former self in a huge win over Boise State while Hundley's stellar showing against Nevada continues to prove why he might be one of the nation’s most underrated players.

The Voting Panel (click name for twitter accounts):

NameOrganizationWebsiteNo. 1
Tom DienhartBig Ten NetworkBigTenNetwork.comTajh Boyd
Bryan FischerPac-12 NetworkPac-12.comMarcus Mariota
David FoxAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comTajh Boyd
Braden GallAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comMarcus Mariota
Steven GodfreySB NationSBNation.comTajh Boyd
Chris HustonHeisman PunditHeismanPundit.comMarcus Mariota
Steven LassanAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comTajh Boyd
Chris LevelRed Raider SportsRedRaiderSports.comTajh Boyd
Mitch LightAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comTajh Boyd
Billy LiucciTexAgsTexAgs.comTajh Boyd
Dan RubensteinSB Nation/Solid VerbalSolidVerbal.comJohnny Manziel
Josh WardMr. SEC/WNMLMrSEC.comBraxton Miller
Jim YoungACC Sports JournalACCSports.comTajh Boyd

 

Teaser:
College Football: Post-Week 1 Heisman Trophy Voting
Post date: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /college-football/big-ten-post-week-1-power-rankings-2013
Body:

It began with blowouts in Minneapolis and Bloomington on Thursday night. Saturday got started with more one-sided affairs in Madison, Columbus and Ann Arbor. It all ended with an thoroughly entertaining Week 1 finale in Berkeley. And in between, there was heart-break in Iowa City and West Lafayette.

The Big Ten went 10-2 with wins over the Pac-12, ACC and Mountain West (twice). However, Darrell Hazell debuted at Purdue in atrocious fashion against the American Athletic Conference (Cincinnati) while the embattled Kirk Ferentz watched his team choke away an important win against the MAC (Northern Illinois).

More Post-Week 1 Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC

 

Big Ten Post-Week 1 Power Rankings:

 TeamLWAnalysis 
1.-Ohio State (1-0, 0-0): Urban Meyer should be ecstatic after Week 1. His team won fairly easily by nearly three touchdowns but also struggled just enough to offer his staff plenty of coaching points. Ohio State allowed Buffalo to hang around for most of the game, had nine penalties and lost the turnover battle. That said, the Buckeyes extended the nation's longest winning streak to 13 games. Next Week: San Diego State 
2.
 
-Michigan (1-0, 0-0): The Wolverines posted its highest-scoring opener since 1905 by crushing Central Michigan. Devin Gardner made a few mistakes but was solid, and Brady Hoke was able to get plenty of key freshmen plenty of experience in the blowout. Michigan will need it when Notre Dame comes to town this weekend. Next Week: Notre Dame 
3.
 
-Nebraska (1-0, 0-0): Fans in Lincoln better hope that the scare Wyoming gave them wasn't a sign of things to come but rather a wake-up call. This team neeeds to develop toughness and killer instinct on defense after allowing more than 600 yards of offense to the Cowboys. Taylor Martinez is excellent, and his supporting cast on offense is outstanding. However, this team has to improve quickly on defense. Next Week: Southern Miss 
4.
 
-Northwestern (1-0, 0-0): Kain Colter may have to sit out a game or two due to a concussion, but the good news is Trevor Siemian is completely capable. Pat Fitzgerald has some work to do on defense but his squad delivered in an important status win for the program on the road. Next Week: Syracuse 
5.
 
-Wisconsin (1-0, 0-0): The Gary Andersen Era got underway in impressive fashion and the Badgers looked a lot like what fans in Madison have watched for the last few decades. The Badgers pounded the football on the ground and played stingy defense in the easy win over UMass. More importantly, quarterback Joel Stave returned to action by accounting for three touchdowns. Next Week: Tennessee Tech 
6.
 
-Penn State (1-0, 0-0): Christian Hackenberg is officially a Big Ten quarterback. And he is 1-0 as a starter. The true freshman phenom was more than adequate as the Lions outlasted a physical Syracuse team. Allen Robinson sat out the first half on a coach's decision and exploded for 133 yards and a TD in the second half. Next Week: Eastern Michigan 
7.
 
-Michigan State (1-0, 0-0): Michigan State looks a lot like Michigan State after one week. The defense is nasty — it scored twice against Western Michigan — and the offense looks mediocre at best — it scored one offensive touchdown. Andrew Maxwell (21 att.) and Connor Cook (16 att.) split time so the QB battle in East Lansing is far from over. Next Week: USF 
8.
 
-Minnesota (1-0, 0-0): The all-important third year of the Jerry Kill era began slowly but ended in impressive fashion. Thanks to three combined defensive and special teams touchdowns, the Gophers pulled away in the second half against UNLV. Quarterback Philip Nelson began his first full season as the starter by scoring three times. Next Week: at New Mexico State 
9.
 
-Indiana (1-0, 0-0): Eventually, Kevin Wilson will have to pick a quarterback, but for now, his offense is just fine. Tre Roberson got the start but both Nate Sudfeld and Cam Coffman saw snaps as the trio combined for six touchdown passes. The Hoosiers set a Memorial Stadium record with 73 points, which was just three shy of the all-time school record of 76. Next Week: Navy 
10.
 
-Iowa (0-1, 0-0): The Hawkeyes had never lost to Northern Illinois in eight tries but the heartbreaking last-second loss to the Huskies is a horrible omen for embattled head coach Kirk Ferentz. Jake Rudock played well in his first start but threw a costly interception that cost Iowa the game. Next Week: Missouri State 
11.
 
-Purdue (0-1, 0-0): This was as bad a coaching debut as could have been expected for Darrell Hazell. The Boilermakers were sloppy, unproductive, inefficient and didn't belong on the same field as the Bearcats. And their schedule includes three BCS bowl teams in the next four weeks. Next Week: Indiana State 
12.
 
-Illinois (1-0, 0-0): It wasn't pretty and it was much closer than Tim Beckman would have liked but Illinois got an important win over Southern Illinois. The Illini needed a goal line stand in the final minute to beat the Missouri Valley foe, due in large part to an offense that lack any semblance of balance (415 yards passing, 49 yards rushing). The Orange Crush has to be better on the ground if it expects to improve in 2013 Next Week: Cincinnati 

Big Ten Week 1 Awards and Superlatives:

Offensive Player of the Week: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
The Wisconsin running backs were outstanding, Braxton was Braxton, so was Taylor Martinez and, I can't believe I'm saying this, but Nathan Scheelhaase led his team to victory. But it's about time the nation looked at Allen Robinson as one of the game's best. Bill O'Brien suspended the star wideout for the first half of the neutral field bout with Syracuse without so much as a peep out of the locker room as to why. His absence was felt in a big way as PSU managed only 89 passing yards and a slim 6-3 edge at the half. Robinson caught the first pass of the second half for a first down and the second for a 51-yard touchdown. He was all over the field and turned a true freshman quarterback into a veteran signal caller by catching seven passes for 133 yards entirely in the second half of the 23-17 win. Penn State finished with 296 yards of passing offense, which would've ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten a year ago.

Defensive Player of the Week: Collin Ellis, LB, Northwestern
They may have been on tipped passes but when you score two defensive touchdowns, you are the P.O.W. The first came at a critical time late in the third quarter with Northwestern down by four, when Ellis took a Jared Goff pass 59 yards to paydirt to give the Wildcats the lead. Then again, this time up by three with eight minutes to go in the game, Ellis plucked another Cal throw out of the air and went 40 yards for six points to essentially end the game. This was the best win of the weekend for the league — and for more on that...

Team of the Week: Northwestern
Most of the Big Ten either won easily against over-matched opponents or was disappointed by poor play — and, in Iowa and Purdue cases, lost. But Northwestern lost Kain Colter to an "upper body" injury (it looked like a shoulder to us) on the game's first series and managed to defeat Cal in Berkeley 44-30. Yes, the Cats allowed more than 500 yards of offense but this game was supposed to be much tougher than the 2012 records indicated. Credit Pat Fitzgerald, and possibly one questionable targeting penalty, for the way Northwestern battled adversity in a home opener for a Golden Bears team flush with energy behind head coach Sonny Dykes' debut. This was an important win and likely the best in the conference this weekend.

Coordinator of the Week: Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State
The Spartans defensive coordinator is one of the nation's best and few assistants nationally mean as much to their team's success as Narduzzi. Michigan State has what appears to be an anemic offense once again this fall and wins will have to come by way of the defense. Against Western Michigan in Week 1, Narduzzi's bunch pitched a gem. His unit allowed 204 total yards, 4-of-20 third down conversions, forced four turnovers and, oh by the way, scored more touchdowns (2) than the Spartans offense (1). This defense will be nasty once again, but one has to wonder if Sparty can contend in the Legends Division against offensively minded teams like Michigan, Nebraska and Northwestern with little to no support from the offense?

Freshman of the Week: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
By the time it is all said and done, this award might be renamed The Hackenberg. In his first career start in his first career game as a true freshman, Hackenberg led his team to a win over a BCS team in Syracuse (in a pseudo-road environment). He looked, at times, like a freshman, but his overall ability is way too impressive to ignore. He finished 22-of-31 for 278 yards, two key second-half touchdowns and two interceptions. The touted freshman has special upside and has already justified his lofty recruiting status.

5th Down
The Indiana Hoosiers are looking to make it to the postseason for just the second time since 1993 and it was obvious in Week 1 that it's a distinct possibility. Indiana set a school record with 45 first-half points, a Memorial Stadium record with 73 points — just three shy of an all-time school record — and did so with three different quarterbacks. Tre Roberson started the game, threw six passes, carried the ball five times and scored twice. Nate Sudfeld then stepped in to attempt 17 passes, four of which went for touchdowns. And Cam Coffman got seven attempts. Kevin Wilson has a wealth of options under center and a host of talented skill players surrounding them. It appears the quarterback race in Bloomington will be fascinating to watch all season long.

Teaser:
Big Ten Post-Week 1 Power Rankings 2013
Post date: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/amazing-college-football-stats-week-1
Body:

Numbers and statistics are unquestionably a huge part of the game. Any game, for that matter.

Some fall on the sabermetric side of things, while others like to keep it simple and use the ol' eyeball test. In the football world, that means total offense, total defense and points scored versus points per play and defensive efficiency ratings. Rational and logical arguments can be made for the legitimacy and relevance of both sides of the stats spectrum.

With that in mind, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of college football action:

40:14: Nicholls State time of possession
Nicholls State more than doubled the time of possession battle with the mighty Oregon Ducks (19:46). Yet, somehow the Ducks managed to not only defeat the Colonels but cover the absurd 59-point spread in the 66-3 debut of Mark Helfrich. The Ducks posted 772 yards of offense and averaged over 11 yards per carry on 45 attempts (500 yards) while never possessing the ball for more than 2:34 seconds.

1-10: Aaron Murray against Top 15 ranked teams
Big game Aaron Murray has been anything but in big games against elite competition. He lost to Arkansas (No. 12) and Auburn (No. 2) in 2010 as a freshman. Murray lost to Boise State (No. 5), South Carolina (No. 12), LSU (No. 1) and Michigan State (No. 12) as a sophomore in 2011. And he lost to South Carolina (No. 6) and Alabama (No. 1) a year ago. His lone win against a top 15 team came last year against No. 3 Florida in the Cocktail Party. And even in that win, Murray wasn't very good: 12-of-24 for 150 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in that game.

93.8%: NCAA record completion percentage for Corey Robinson
Troy's quarterback Corey Robinson set the new NCAA benchmark (min. 30 att.) for efficient passing this weekend. In a key 34-31 overtime win over UAB, Robinson completed 30 of his 32 passes for 319 yards and a touchdown. That's a tidy 93.8-percent clip, besting the previous NCAA record held by current Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian. Coach Sark set the record by completing 91.2-percent of his passes for Fresno State in 1995. He was 31-of-34.

15-15: New head coach's records in Week 1
There were 31 new FBS college coaches in college football this fall. All but one, UTEP's Sean Kugler, was in action this weekend. That said, the BCS coaches fared much better, going 10-5, including Temple's loss to Notre Dame. The SEC went 3-1, the ACC 2-1, the Big Ten 1-1 while the Pac-12 and Big 12 combined to go 3-0. The AAC went 0-2.

2: Players who scored on a punt return, kick return and on offense in the same game
Derek Abney, a do-everything dynamo for the Kentucky Wildcats, is believed (according to Kentucky's official bio) to be the only player in NCAA history to have scored a touchdown on a punt return, kick return and pass reception (2002). That is, until Christian Jones did it for Alabama this weekend against Virginia Tech. A 72-yard punt return began the scoring in the game, continued it with a 94-yard kick return touchdown and put the game out of reach with a beautiful 38-yard touchdown strike from A.J. McCarron late in the third.

833: Combined passing yards for Vernon Adams and Sean Mannion
Eastern Washington and its famous Red Inferno football field pulled one of the biggest upsets of the weekend over Oregon State on the road. Quarterback Vernon Adams was the star of the show as he threw for 411 yards through the air while adding 107 yards rushing and two more scores on the ground. On the other sideline, not to be outdone, Sean Mannion threw for 422 yards and three touchdowns in the losing effort. There were six lead changes in the final 20 minutes of play, 61 first downs, 1,157 yards of total offense and 97 combined points.

5: FCS teams defeating major conference teams
To put it in perspective: No more than four FCS teams have defeated major conference teams in a season since 1985, according to footballgeography.com, much less one weekend. The action started Thursday when Towson defeated Connecticut 33-18 for the most lopsided FCS-over-FBS win since 2000. That mark was crushed Saturday when McNeese State defeated USF 53-21. The margin of victory and total points scored were an NCAA record for an FCS opponent over an FBS team. Two-time FCS champion North Dakota State defeated Kansas State 24-21 on Friday, Eastern Washington defeated Oregon State 49-46, and Northern Iowa defeated Iowa State 28-20.

14: NCAA record for career forced fumbles
Wisconsin's Chris Borland jarred the ball loose from a UMass Minuteman early in the game this Saturday. It was his 14th career forced fumble, tying an NCAA record. Borland has been a big-play machine, blocking kicks and punts, creating turnovers and disrupting the offense behind the line of scrimmage his entire career. He now shares the NCAA record with five other players: Cincinnati's Antwan Peek, Arizona State's Terrell Suggs, USC's Kenechi Udeze, Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan and Southern Miss' Cordarro Law.

2,080: Cornelius Greene's school rushing record by a QB
Cornelius Greene was the first African-American starting quarterback for Ohio State in the early 1970s. He also is the all-time leading rusher for the Ohio State Buckeyes as a quarterback. After 77 yards rushing in the season opener against Buffalo, Braxton Miller pushed his career rushing total to 2,063 yards just one game into his junior season. By the end of the first quarter in Week 2, MIller should be become the all-time leading rusher by a quarterback for one of the most historic and prestigious programs in NCAA history.

 

Teaser:
Amazing Week 1 College Football Stats
Post date: Monday, September 2, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-1-recap-and-awards
Body:

It began with blowouts in Minneapolis and Bloomington on Thursday night. Saturday got started with more one-sided affairs in Madison, Columbus and Ann Arbor. It all ended with an thoroughly entertaining Week 1 finale in Berkeley. And in between, there was heartbreak in Iowa City and West Lafayette.

The Big Ten went 10-2 with wins over the Pac-12, ACC and Mountain West (twice). However, Darrell Hazell debuted at Purdue in atrocious fashion against the American Athletic Conference (Cincinnati) while the embattled Kirk Ferentz watched his team choke away an important win against the MAC (Northern Illinois).

Here are the Big Ten's Week 1 Superlatives:

Offensive Player of the Week: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

The Wisconsin running backs were outstanding, Braxton was Braxton, so was Taylor Martinez and, I can't believe I'm saying this, but Nathan Scheelhaase led his team to victory. But it's about time the nation looked at Allen Robinson as one of the game's best. Bill O'Brien suspended the star wideout for the first half of the neutral field bout with Syracuse without so much as a peep out of the locker room as to why. His absence was felt in a big way as PSU managed just 89 passing yards and a slim 6-3 edge at the half. Robinson caught the first pass of the second half for a first down and the second for a 51-yard touchdown. He was all over the field and turned a true freshman quarterback into a veteran signal caller by catching seven passes for 133 yards entirely in the second half of the 23-17 win. Penn State finished with 296 yards of passing offense, which would've ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten a year ago.

Defensive Player of the Week: Collin Ellis, LB, Northwestern

They may have been on tipped passes but when you score two defensive touchdowns, you are the P.O.W. The first came at a critical time late in the third quarter with Northwestern down by four, when Ellis took a Jared Goff pass 59 yards to paydirt to give the Wildcats the lead. Then again, this time up by three with eight minutes to go in the game, Ellis plucked another Cal throw out of the air and went 40 yards for six points to essentially end the game. This was the best win of the weekend for the league — and for more on that...

Team of the Week: Northwestern

Most of the Big Ten either won easily against over-matched opponents or was disappointed by poor play — and, in Iowa and Purdue cases, lost. But Northwestern lost Kain Colter to a concussion on the game's first series and managed to defeat Cal in Berkeley 44-30. Yes, the Cats allowed more than 500 yards of offense, but this game was supposed to be much tougher than the 2012 records indicated. Credit Pat Fitzgerald, and possibly one questionable targeting penalty, for the way Northwestern battled adversity in a home opener for a Golden Bears team flush with energy behind head coach Sonny Dykes' debut. This was an important win and likely the best in the conference this weekend.

Coordinator of the Week: Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State

The Spartans defensive coordinator is one of the nation's best and few assistants nationally mean as much to their team's success as Narduzzi. Michigan State has what appears to be an anemic offense once again this fall and wins will have to come by way of the defense. Against Western Michigan in Week 1, Narduzzi's bunch pitched a gem. His unit allowed 204 total yards, 4-of-20 third down conversions, forced four turnovers and, oh by the way, scored more touchdowns (2) than the Spartans offense (1). This defense will be nasty once again, but one has to wonder if Sparty can contend in the Legends Division against offensively minded teams like Michigan, Nebraska and Northwestern with little to no support from the offense?

Freshman of the Week: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State

By the time it is all said and done, this award might be renamed The Hackenberg. In his first career start in his first career game as a true freshman, Hackenberg led his team to a win over a BCS team in Syracuse (in a pseudo-road environment). He looked, at times, like a freshman, but his overall ability is way too impressive to ignore. He finished 22-of-31 for 278 yards, two key second-half touchdowns and two interceptions. The touted freshman has special upside and has already justified his lofty recruiting status.

5th Down

The Indiana Hoosiers are looking to make it to the postseason for just the second time since 1993 and it was obvious in Week 1 that it's a distinct possibility. Indiana set a school record with 45 first-half points, a Memorial Stadium record with 73 points — just three shy of an all-time school record — and did so with three different quarterbacks. Tre Roberson started the game, threw six passes, carried the ball five times and scored twice. Nate Sudfeld then stepped in to attempt 17 passes, four of which went for touchdowns. And Cam Coffman got seven attempts. Kevin Wilson has a wealth of options under center and a host of talented skill players surrounding them. It appears the quarterback race in Bloomington will be fascinating to watch all season long.

Teaser:
Big Ten Week 1 Recap and Awards
Post date: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 13:29
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-1-recap-and-awards
Body:

Fans need to prepare for a wild season out west if the first weekend was any indication. Sure, division contenders Stanford and Arizona State were on bye while Oregon, UCLA and Arizona rolled to typically one-sided wins against over-matched opponents. But the rest of the league was in a dog fight.

Cal lost a tough one to Northwestern. Oregon State got upset at home against regional FCS opponent Eastern Washington. Utah barely scraped by an in-state rival. Washington State showed marked improvement on the road against an SEC blueblood. And the Washington Huskies made a bold statement that the rest of the Pac-12 better take notice of. Welcome back, college football.

Here are your Pac-12 Week 1 Awards and Superlatives: 

Offensive Player of the Week: Marcus Mariota, Oregon

The Oregon quarterback might be the most enjoyable player to watch in the entire nation. He is simply effortless in all that he does. Yes, Keith Price and Travis Wilson posted equally impressive numbers against tougher competition but Mariota is the leader of the Pac-12 front-runner and he was brilliant on Saturday. He completed 12-of-21 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown while rushing five times for 113 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. That's a 22.6 yards per carry average. His offense totaled 772 yards and scored 66 points for Mark Helfrich in his head coaching debut.

 

Defensive Player of the Week: Dion Bailey, USC

 

Dion Bailey moved from undersized linebacker to head-hunting safety this off-season and the move paid off in a big way in week one. New coordinator Clancy Pendergast watched his unit stifle former coordinator Norm Chow's offense all night led in large part by Bailey. He led the Trojans in tackles with seven and added both a sack and an interception to his stat sheet. The Trojans allowed just 231 yards of offense and only 32 yards rushing in the 30-13 win over Hawaii.

 

Team of the Week: Washington

 

Many thought Washington could pull the slight upset over the ranked Broncos but few saw this type of domination coming for the Huskies. As new Husky Stadium was christened in style by handing Boise State their worst loss since 2005 (48-13, Georgia). Both side of the ball looked excellent as Keith Price threw for over 300 yards while Bishop Sankey rushed for 161, each scoring two touchdowns along the way. The defense held Boise State to three points in each half and kept the Broncos out of the endzone all night long. This might have been the most impressive win nationally (other than maybe Clemson) and it could not have come at a more critical time for Steve Sarkisian.

 

Coordinator of the Week: Justin Wilcox, Washington

 

Chris Petersen doesn't know what the Woodshed looks like but he found out in a large way against one of his own. Wilcox coached under Petersen as the defensive coordinator of the Broncos from 2006-09 before moving to Seattle by way of Tennessee. Well, the pupil taught the master a few things late on Saturday night as the Huskies defense dominated the game. The six points were the fewest scored by Boise State since being shutout in 1997 by Washington State and it was just the third time since that blanking that Boise State failed to reach at least 10 points in a game. Needless to say, what Wilcox accomplished Saturday night doesn't happen very often.

 

Freshman of the Week: Andy Phillips, K, Utah

 

Kickers won't get this award often but Utah's redshirt placekicker deserves a nod for his work against rival Utah State. The former apline skier had never played football before taking the field in a crucial Thursday night game with the Aggies and he was basically perfect. He nailed all three field-goal attempts, including two clutch fourth-quarter kicks, made all three extra points and flipped the momentum of the game with a elegantly placed successful onside kick. Welcome to the world of football Mr. Phillips.

 

5th Down

 

How times does any team on any level produce over 500 yards of offense, convert on 50-percent of third downs, not turn the ball over a single time and get beat? That is what happened to Oregon State this weekend when it lost in heart-breaking fashion to lower-tier power Eastern Washington. To fans outside of Corvallis, it was a game to remember featuring six lead changes in the final 20 minutes of game time. A big tip of the cap to EWU starting quarterback Vernon Adams who had the game of his life time. He threw for 411 yards and four touchdowns while running for 107 yards and two more touchdowns. Those numbers would be sick against lower level competition but in Reser Stadium against a Top 25 opponent? Oregon State has some flaws it needs to work through and after one weekend, it appears Washington might be the top challenger to Oregon/Stanford Pac-12 North supremacy, not the Beavers.

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 Week 1 Recap and Awards
Post date: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-week-1-picks
Body:

Like it or not, Las Vegas rarely gets it wrong, so tracking betting lines should always be a big part of each football weekend — even if there are no bets on the line.

Whether you condone gambling or not, think of it as becoming a more informed fan.

Week 1 of the college football season offers some unique opportunities, however, as the lines will be further “off” this weekend than at any other point of the season. This is the weekend to make moves — if done correctly.

Here are my top picks of the week as well as our editorial staff’s picks for every single Top 25 game of the weekend.

More Week 1 Previews: ACCBig 12 Big Ten Pac-12 SEC

2013 Record Against the Spread: 0-0

Week 1 Picks of the Week:

Florida State (-10) at Pitt
The Noles are breaking in a new quarterback in redshirt freshman Jameis Winston in primetime on Labor Day night. He will make mistakes, but this defense is BCS national title good and the skill around Winston on offense is elite. Pitt is headed in the right direction but Florida State is not just a cut above the Panthers, but maybe two or three tiers better. Take the Noles and end your weekend with victory. Pick: Florida State -10

Alabama (-19.5) vs. Virginia Tech
If your favorite team has a quarterback who is desperately lacking in confidence, an offensive line that is totally reworked, it lacks a true running game and has reworked the offensive coaching staff, what is the last thing you’d want to do on opening night? Yup, play the Alabama defense as the Crimson Tide begin to defend both of their BCS National Championships. Good luck, Hokies. Pick: Alabama -19.5

LSU (-4) vs. TCU
TCU might be the best-coached team in the Big 12. It might have the best quarterback in the Big 12. And it has the best defense in the Big 12. But that doesn’t mean it can compete with one of the SEC’s most physical and talented squads. And without the best player in its league, defensive end Davonte Fields, TCU will be hard-pressed to compete in the trenches for four quarters. This one is close for 45 minutes with LSU’s physicality extending the score in the final frame. Pick: LSU -4

Washington State (+14.5) at Auburn
Auburn was dead last in plays per game on offense last year nationally and fans can expect a huge increase with Gus Malzahn running the show now. Washington State struggles to run the ball and, while they should be improved across the board, will be badly outmatched in always-hostile Jordan-Hare Stadium. Look for Nick Marshall to have a coming out party against one of the Pac-12’s worst defenses. Pick: Auburn -14.5

FIU (+21) at Maryland
The Terps showed marked improvement last year in Randy Edsall's second season — and that was with their fifth-string QB starting. This team should be healthier and dramatically improved on both sides of the ball this year. FIU is missing some key playmakers and is picked to finish last in the C-USA East. Take the Terps to roll big. Pick: Maryland -21

Underdogs I like this weekend:

Ohio (+21) at Louisville
UL Monroe (+21) at Oklahoma

Toledo (+23) at Florida
UL Lafayette (+10.5) at Arkansas

Top 25 Picks Against the Spread:

Note: games with FCS opponents won't be included each week

Top 25 GamesMitch LightBraden GallSteven LassanDavid Fox
No. 1 Alabama (-18.5) vs. Virginia Tech*
Buffalo (+34.5) at No. 2 Ohio State
No. 5 Georgia (-1.5) at (8) Clemson
Rice (+26.5) at No. 7 Texas A&M
Ohio (+21) at No. 9 Louisville
Toledo (+23.5) at No. 10 Florida
No. 11 Florida State (-10) at Pitt
No. 12 LSU (-4) vs. No. 20 TCU*
Mississippi St (+13) vs. No. 13 Oklahoma St*
Temple (+29.5) at No. 14 Notre Dame
New Mexico St (+42) at No. 15 Texas
UL Monroe (+21) at No. 16 Oklahoma
Central Michigan (+31) at No. 17 Michigan
Wyoming (+29) at No. 18 Nebraska
No. 19 Boise St (+3.5) at Washington
Nevada (+21) at No. 21 UCLA
No. 22 Northwestern (-5.5) at Cal
UMass (+44.5) at No. 23 Wisconsin
Last Week:0-00-00-00-0
Year-To-Date:0-00-00-00-0

* - neutral field

Teaser:
Betting Against the Spread: College Football Week 1 Picks
Post date: Friday, August 30, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/2013-big-ten-week-1-preview-and-predictions
Body:

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
Body:

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
Body:

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


Related College Football Content

SEC Predictions for 2013
SEC 2013 All-Conference Team
SEC Breakout Players for 2013
Pivotal Players to a SEC Championship

SEC Coaches Anonymously Talk About Conference Foes for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Running Back Units for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Receiving Corps for 2013
SEC's Impact Freshmen to Watch for 2013
Getting to Know the SEC's New Coaches for 2013
SEC's Top Heisman Contenders for 2013

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.)

Related College Football Content
College Football Bowl Projections for 2013
College Football's All-Name Team for 2013
Top 10 Darkhorse Title Contenders for 2013

Big Ten's 2013 All-Conference Team
Michigan 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
Ohio State 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
Nebraska 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
Penn State 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
Wisconsin 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
College Football's 2013 All-America Team

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

Related College Football Content

Big 12 Predictions for 2013
Bowl Projections for 2013
Big 12 2013 All-Conference Team
Oklahoma Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Oklahoma State Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
West Virginia Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Kliff Kingsbury Returns Home to Texas Tech
Big 12's Top Heisman Contenders for 2013
Five Ways to Fix Texas Football

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
Body:

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

Related College Football Content

College Football Bowl Projections for 2013
Top 10 Darkhorses to Win the National Title
College Football's All-Name Team for 2013
SEC Breakout Players for 2013
College Football's Top 10 Underrated Quarterbacks

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, August 16, 2013 - 07:20

Pages