Articles By Braden Gall

All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-cover-2-podcast-week-3-preview
Body:

Hosts Mitch Light and Braden Gall are joined by ESPN's to break down a huge weekend of action in Week 3.

 

The ACC's big three go on the road while the rest of the league battles with the Big Ten. The SEC West has two massive showdowns while the East has some sneaky good action as well. What will happen with Texas hosting Cal after firing the A.D? Can USC and UCLA hold serve at home against Stanford and BYU respectively?

 

The guys also pick every Top 25 game, offer locks of the week against the spread and cover THE LEAST IMPORTANT GAME OF THE WEEK!

 

 

 

 

Send any ideas, questions or comments to  or @AthlonMitch or email . The podcast can be found on  and our .

Teaser:
College Football Cover 2 Podcast: Week 3 Preview
Post date: Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - 11:34
Path: /college-football/week-2-college-football-picks-against-spread
Body:

If not for a 100-yard kickoff return from Western Michigan and two garbage time touchdowns from Louisville, I would have gone a nice 4-0 last week. But almost doesn't count with your bookie.

 

This week, the advice is to stay away from the big games. Oklahoma-Tennessee could go over, under, blowout or overtime. Michigan State is the slight favorite and the pick against Oregon, but nothing would surprise in East Lansing. And LSU is capable of doing pretty much anything in Starkville.

 

Stay away and dig deeper this weekend. I'm taking some road dogs, some big home favorites and an interesting coaching matchup.

 

Last Week: 2-2

Year-to-date: 2-2

 

 
Tulane (+27.5) at Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets are really, really good and run an offense that rarely takes a game off. The defense is improved and Tulane was awful last week at home against Duke — who covered the 7.5-point spread by more than three touchdowns (37-7). Take the Jackets to roll big. Prediction: Georgia Tech -27.5

 

College Football Podcast: Week 2 Preview



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Bowling Green (+8) at Maryland

The Falcons are loaded with veteran players and are coming off a 557-yard, 6.6-yards per play performance against Tennessee. They can score with anyone and should be able to move the ball with the Terps. Many are calling for the outright upset, so eight points seems generous. Prediction: Bowling Green +8

 

Minnesota (-5) at Colorado State

Mike Bobo's debut at CSU was impressive as the Rams posted 8.7 yards per play and 598 yards in an easy win against lowly Savannah State. This is a totally different defense that the Gophers bring to town. This group is extremely talented on the back end and extremely well coached as it held TCU to just 5.2 yards per play and 23 points in the season opener. Prediction: Minnesota -5

 

Washington State (-3) at Rutgers

The Knights are dealing with issues off the field but that didn't effect them in the season opener. Washington State already lost to Portland State as a 31-point underdog. Rutgers went out to Seattle and beat a better Wazzu team last year on the road, a win at home could be easy. Prediction: Rutgers -3

 

East Carolina (-20) at Florida

The Gators topped 60 points and 600 yards in Jim McElwain's debut last weekend. Even if it was against New Mexico State, it was a great sign. This isn't a vintage Pirates team as East Carolina is replacing a ton and struggled to beat Towson 28-20 last weekend. Prediction: Florida -20

 

North Texas (+5) at SMU

Matt Davis and the Mustangs gave the Baylor Bears a scare in the first half last weekend. Chad Morris will turn the SMU ship around. The native Texan knows how much meetings with in-state foes matter in recruiting. This offense will be clicking against a team that has yet to play a game. Prediction: SMU -5

 

Kentucky (+8.5) at South Carolina

This is a critical game for Mark Stoops and Kentucky's bowl hopes this fall. The Cats beat the Gamecocks in Lexington last year and, like Bowling Green, many are calling for the upset outright. The South Carolina defense is improved enough to win but the Wildcats should be extremely motivated and capable in this SEC East bout. Prediction: Kentucky +8.5

Teaser:
Week 2 College Football Picks Against the Spread
Post date: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 10:55
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-cover-2-podcast-2015-week-2-preview
Body:

Week 2 isn't a heavy week of action for College Football but the big games that dot the schedule are... HUGE!

 

Hosts Mitch Light and Braden Gall go in-depth, breaking down and predicting the Oregon-Michigan State, Oklahoma-Tennessee and LSU-Mississippi State matchups.

 

The guys also pick every Top 25 game, offer locks of the week against the spread and cover THE LEAST IMPORTANT GAME OF THE WEEK!

 

 

Send any ideas, questions or comments to  or @AthlonMitch or email . The podcast can be found on  and our .

Teaser:
College Football Cover 2 Podcast: 2015 Week 2 Preview
Post date: Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-2015-week-1-recap
Body:

What did we learn in Week 1?  

 

Braden Gall and David Fox recap all of the action from Week 1 and try to tell us what it all means? Should fans in the Big Ten or Pac-12 react to mediocre first weekends? How about Texas? 

 

Which of the big injuries will hurt the most? How awesome really is Ohio State? What did we get dead wrong in Week 1 and who is in our very early Playoff Top 4.

 

 

Send any ideas, questions or comments to  or @DavidFox615 or email . The podcast can be found on  and our .

Teaser:
College Football Cover 2 Podcast: 2015 Week 1 Recap
Post date: Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - 13:56
Path: /college-football/week-1-college-football-against-spread-predictions-2015
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College Football is back and so are my weekly picks against the spread. I will do my best to give sage and timely advice every Friday morning… for entertainment purposes only, of course.

 

Week 1 is the best week of the year as so much is unknown about most teams and spreads are generally off kilter.

 

Look for programs you think are underrated in the preseason and are facing young teams with lots of new starters. Public perception is further askew this week than any other week of the year.

 

You’ll notice — like every year — I like the favorites in the opening week.

 

Last Week: N/A

Year-to-date: 0-0

 

Kent State (+14.5) at Illinois (Fri.)

Most will be automatically down on the Illini because, well, they’ve already fired their head coach. However, Bill Cubit takes over with lots of head coaching experience and they return a quarterback in Wes Lunt who may be the Big Ten West’s best signal caller. This offense can score and this team could reach a bowl. Prediction: Illinois -14.5

 

Podcast: Week 1 Preview w/ Rece Davis



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Michigan State (-17.5) at Western Michigan (Fri.)

I love rowing my boat and the job P.J. Fleck has done at WMU, both on the field and recruiting. But this Spartans team is another beast and the crowd will be mostly green and white despite the locale. Take Sparty to make a statement in a warm-up for Oregon. Prediction: Michigan State -17.5

 

Louisville (+10.5) vs. Auburn

The Cardinals have some nice pieces on defense and Bobby Petrino on offense. But this team is replacing a ton from last year and is trying to mesh a lot of new faces into key roles. Doing that against the SEC front-runner and elite Playoff contender is extremely dangerous. Jeremy Johnson, Will Muschamp and Carl Lawson will debut in style. Louisville can’t score with War Eagle. Prediction: Auburn -10.5

 

Wisconsin (+12) at Alabama

The Badgers defense is legit behind coordinator Dave Aranda, but the UW offense will have to find balance if it wants to move the ball on arguably the best defensive front in the nation (which it won’t be able to do). The talent, experience and coaching differential is vast despite the national stature of Wisconsin. Prediction: Alabama -12

Teaser:
Week 1 College Football Against the Spread Predictions
Post date: Friday, September 4, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-2015-week-1-preview
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College Football is finally here! 

 

So Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast is kicking off the season in style. Hosts Braden Gall and Mitch Light preview the entire first weekend of action and visit with new ESPN College Gameday host .

 

The guys pick every Top 25 game, offer locks of the week against the spread and cover THE LEAST IMPORTANT GAME OF THE WEEK! before visiting with Davis about his new roll at ESPN and getting his official College Football Playoff picks for the upcoming season.

 

 

Send any ideas, questions or comments to  or @AthlonMitch or email . The podcast can be found on  and our .

Teaser:
Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: Official Conference and Playoff Predictions
Post date: Wednesday, September 2, 2015 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/acc-will-be-league-left-out-college-football-playoff
Body:

Everyone doesn’t deserve a trophy.

 

isn’t little league baseball and not everyone should be invited to the College Football Playoff party. The Big 12 found out the hard way last year what that feels like and has been crowing about it and attempting to fix it all offseason.

 

With all due respect to former colleague Mike Leach, exclusivity is a good thing. It makes for a far more entertaining regular season when it’s incredibly difficult to make it into the Playoff.

 

The with the toughest path to the postseason tournament in 2015.

 

Florida State and Clemson are the class of this conference (again). Georgia Tech, Louisville and Virginia Tech make up the next tier, however, none of those three appear suited for a national championship run. Sure, they could win the ACC title but the national title?

 

Highly unlikely.

 

No, if the ACC is going to make a run at the Playoff it will come from Tallahassee or Death Valley.

 

The media spoke very clearly in Pinehurst, N.C., at ACC Media Days: Clemson is the team to beat in the ACC. The contingent here at Athlon Sports disagrees, picking Florida State in our preseason magazine and .

 

Either way, those are the two best picks in the ACC. But to win a national title, a team has to be perfect (or near-perfect) and the difference between being ranked in the top four and getting left out may be half-a-dozen plays.

 

Clemson is a really good team. , have the best player in the conference in quarterback Deshaun Watson and get a lot of big games at home.

 

Podcast: Complete 2015 ACC Preview and Predictions



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But for Dabo Swinney’s team to be playing in the College Football Playoff, four huge questions marks have to all be answered for Clemson.

 

First, Watson must stay healthy. He’s an incredible athlete and may be a Heisman Trophy winner before his time in college is finished. But he’s also been hurt before, during and after his first season at Clemson. It’s certainly possibly he remains healthy, but there’s a good chance he will miss a game or two — which could end any hope of a national title.

 

Second, Swinney must fill the Shaq-sized shoes of one of the top offensive minds in college football. Chad Morris left campus for SMU and Swinney promoted Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott. The system is in place and should be productive, but the odds of those two being capable of the same things as Morris is downright impossible.

 

Third, Clemson must prove it can reload rapidly because the Tigers return fewer starters (5) than any other Power 5 team in the nation. There are massive holes to be filled, and, while there is loads of talent, the odds of Clemson boasting the No. 1 defense in the nation a second year in a row also is extremely doubtful.

 

Lastly, the Tigers have to win nearly every game against a schedule that is one of the ACC’s toughest in recent memory. Notre Dame, Florida State and Georgia Tech all come to Death Valley and trips to Louisville, Miami, NC State and South Carolina will be very tricky. When’s the last time Clemson rolled through a slate like that without a slip-up?

 

It’s called “Clemson-ing” for a reason.

 

Could all of these things fall the Tigers’ way? Maybe. Would you bet on all of those things taking place? Not a chance.

 

So what about a Florida State team that has proven it’s the best program in the ACC and capable of winning virtually every game it plays?

 

This team has arguably behind only Alabama, so the players are there. But gone is Jameis Winston, all five offensive linemen, the most productive wide receiver in school history, possibly Dalvin Cook and the Mackey Award winner in Nick O’Leary.

 

The defense does return seven starters and the schedule is easier than what Clemson will face. However, critical games against Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida and Boston College come on the road. There are other interesting tests with Louisville, NC State and Miami at home.

 

But does this roster have the experienced pieces in the right places to win every game? The Noles needed the No. 1 overall pick and 10 other NFL Draft picks to barely get that job done last year and still got smoked in the Rose Bowl.

 

Clemson and Florida State are the class of the ACC and picking either to win the league title is a sound decision.

 

But it doesn’t look like this league has a team capable of going unbeaten — or finishing with one loss — and that is what it takes to reach the College Football Playoff.

 

Then it will be commissioner John Swofford’s turn to complain all offseason.

Teaser:
ACC Will Be the League Left Out of College Football Playoff
Post date: Thursday, August 6, 2015 - 09:00
Path: /nfl/answering-nfc-wests-biggest-questions-2015
Body:

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

 

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

 

AFC's Biggest Questions:  |
NFC's Biggest Questions: | | |

 

NFC West

 

Arizona: Can Carson Palmer stay healthy?

This team has  but was bounced early in the this year's playoffs because its quarterback was missing due to another significant knee injury. This team is talented enough at almost every position to win a Super Bowl and has a rising star of a head coach leading the way. But it plays in a nasty division and has a 35-year-old signal-caller that has missed at least six games in three of the last seven years. Palmer has to stay healthy for Arizona to win big this year.

 

St. Louis: Is the offensive overhaul going to work?

The . But this offense will look completely different in 2015. New coordinator Frank Cignetti has a new quarterback (Nick Foles), new running back (Todd Gurley), a reworked offensive line and even a new quarterbacks coach (Chris Weinke). Yet this unit still lacks in proven playmakers despite using numerous recent draft picks on skill position players. Should the offense come together quickly, this team will once again be one of the more underrated in the NFL. If not, Jeff Fisher is staring at a fourth straight losing season.

 

San Francisco: What is the personality of this team without Jim Harbaugh?

Say what you want about his quirky and bizarre personality, Jim Harbaugh is a winner. He won at the University of San Diego, he won at Stanford and he won big at San Francisco (and will win big at Michigan). Questions are swirling through the Bay Area after a mass exodus of coaches and players. Can Colin Kaepernick develop into a leader and not an off-the-field headline maker? Can an aging collection of veterans and unproven youngsters maintain the level of success that the 49ers' brass seemed to under appreciate? Say what you want about Harbaugh, but his teams have always had an identity. What is the new identity going to look like in the Bay Area?

 

Seattle: How will the offensive line look?

Let’s be honest, there . The defense is still nasty, Marshawn Lynch is happy, Russell Wilson is signed and has a new toy in Jimmy Graham. Pete Carroll and the 12th Man are still ready to rock. The offensive line may be the only area of concern in fall camp after Max Unger and James Carpenter departed this offseason. Look for Patrick Lewis and Alvin Bailey to step in and try to maintain stability up front. Otherwise, if this team can shake off the bad taste from the Super Bowl’s final possession, it will once again be one of the best teams in the NFL.

 
Teaser:
Answering the NFC West's Biggest Questions in 2015
Post date: Wednesday, August 5, 2015 - 13:00
Path: /nfl/answering-afc-wests-biggest-questions-2015
Body:

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

 

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

 

AFC's Biggest Questions:  | West
NFC's Biggest Questions: | | | West

 

AFC West

 

Denver: How do Gary Kubiak and Peyton Manning mesh?

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

 

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

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

 

Oakland: How fast can this young team grow up?

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

 

San Diego: Where is Philip Rivers head?

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

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

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

 

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

 

AFC's Biggest Questions:  | West
NFC's Biggest Questions: | | | West

 

NFC South

 

Atlanta: Can Dan Quinn build Seattle East?

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

 

Carolina: Have the Panthers fixed their aerial issues?

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

 

New Orleans: Can Rob Ryan fix the front seven?

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

 

Tampa Bay: Is Jameis Winston a star?

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

AFC South

 

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

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

 

Indianapolis: Can the Colts stop the run in January?

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

 

Jacksonville: Are the issues along the line fixed?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

NFC North

 

Chicago: Is Jay Cutler your starting quarterback?

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

 

Detroit: Can the defensive line be rebuilt?

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

 

Green Bay: Organize the new faces on defense?

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

 

Minnesota: Can the young talent develop quickly?

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

AFC North

 
Baltimore: Who makes plays on offense?

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

 

Cincinnati: Can Andy Dalton take the next step?

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

 

Cleveland: What role does Johnny Manziel play?

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

 

Pittsburgh: What will life after Dick LeBeau be like?

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

NFC East

 

Dallas: Can the misfit toys come together on defense?

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

 

NY Giants: Can Steve Spagnuolo be the savior?

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

 

Philadelphia: Will Sam Bradford stay healthy?

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

AFC East

 

Buffalo: Can the QB distribute the ball effectively?

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

 

Miami: Are the right leaders in place?

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

 

New England: What does the secondary look like?

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

New York Jets: Can the passing game create balance?

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

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

You probably hate Roger Goodell.

 

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

 

And it’s taking longer to than it took to work out an Iranian nuclear deal.

 

But you know who loves the NFL’s commissioner?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Recently the reported a record last season. Sure, a really good football team and elite-level fan support will lead to record-setting profit margins.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And who wants to do that?

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 AwayHomeDate
1.Sept. 12

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

2.Oct. 17

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

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

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

7.Nov. 28

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

8.Sept. 5

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

9.Nov. 28

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

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

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

Related:

* - neutral field

 

Best of the Rest:

 

Maryland at West Virginia, Sept. 26

Louisville at Kentucky, Nov. 28

Ole Miss at Memphis, Oct. 17

Texas Tech at Arkansas, Sept. 19

Miami at Cincinnati, Oct. 1

Iowa at Iowa State, Sept. 12

Boston College vs. Notre Dame, Nov. 21*

Pitt at Iowa, Sept. 19

Stanford at Northwestern, Sept. 5

LSU at Syracuse, Sept. 26

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 AwayHomeDate
1.Sept. 5*

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

2.Sept. 12

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

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

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

7.Nov. 28

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

8.Nov. 14*

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

9.Sept. 3*

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

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

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

* - neutral field

 

Best of the Rest:

 

Toledo vs. Arkansas, Sept. 12*

UL Lafayette at Kentucky, Sept. 5

Missouri at Arkansas State, Sept. 12

Western Kentucky at Vanderbilt, Sept. 5

Georgia Southern at Georgia, Nov. 21

Vanderbilt at Middle Tennessee, Oct. 3

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 AwayHomeDate
1.Sept. 5

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

2.Sept. 12

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

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

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

7.Sept. 12

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

8.Sept. 19

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

9.Sept. 19

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

10.Sept. 5

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

 

Best of the Rest:

 

Iowa State at Toledo, Sept. 19

Memphis at Kansas, Sept. 12

Kansas at Rutgers, Sept. 26

Akron at Oklahoma, Sept. 5

Baylor at SMU, Sept 4

Rice at Texas, Sept. 12

Kansas State at UTSA, Sept. 12

Rice at Baylor, Sept. 26

Northern Iowa at Iowa State, Sept. 5

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 AwayHomeDate
1.Sept. 12

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

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

* - neutral site

 

Best of the Rest:

 

Iowa at Iowa State, Sept. 12

Stanford at Northwestern, Sept. 5

Northwestern at Duke, Sept. 19

Oregon State at Michigan, Sept. 12

Illinois at North Carolina, Sept. 19

Minnesota at Colorado State, Sept. 12

Washington State at Rutgers, Sept. 12

USF at Maryland, Sept. 19

Purdue at Virginia Tech, Sept. 19

Western Kentucky at Indiana, Sept. 5

Kansas at Rutgers, Sept. 26

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

* - neutral site

 

Best of the Rest:

 

UCF at Stanford, Sept. 12

UCLA at Virginia, Sept. 5

Utah State at Washington, Sept. 19

Oregon State at Michigan, Sept. 12

Colorado vs. Colorado State, Sept. 19*

Washington State at Rutgers, Sept. 12

Utah at Fresno State, Sept. 19

Arizona at Nevada, Sept. 12

Eastern Washington at Oregon, Sept. 5

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

* - neutral site

 

Best of the Rest:

 

Louisville at Kentucky, Nov. 28

Miami at Cincinnati, Oct. 1

LSU at Syracuse, Sept. 26

Boston College vs. Notre Dame, Nov. 21*

Pitt at Iowa, Sept. 19

Notre Dame at Virginia, Sept. 12

Virginia Tech at East Carolina, Sept. 26

Northwestern at Duke, Sept. 19

Virginia at UCLA, Sept. 5

Boise State at Virginia, Sept. 25

Indiana at Wake Forest, Sept. 26

Wake Forest at Notre Dame, Nov. 14

Illinois at North Carolina, Sept. 19

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

Attendance is a function of many things.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Ranking the Stadiums: | | | |

 

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

 

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

Last summer, Athlon Sports asked 12 Big Ten experts , , ,  and more to rank their favorite stadiums in the Big Ten.

 

Based on general atmosphere, fan support, home-field advantage, amenities, tailgating, surrounding campus and even scoreboards, .

 

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


 

1. Ohio Stadium, Ohio State

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

 

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

108,362 ('14)


2. Memorial Stadium, Nebraska

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

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

 

3. Camp Randall Stadium, Wisconsin

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

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

 

 

4. Beaver Stadium, Penn State

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

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

 

5. Michigan Stadium, Michigan

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

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



 

6. Kinnick Stadium, Iowa

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

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

 

7. Spartans Stadium, Michigan State

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

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

 

8. TCF Bank Stadium, Minnesota

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

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

 

 

9. Memorial Stadium, Illinois

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

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

 

10. Byrd Stadium, Maryland

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

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

 

 

11. Ryan Field, Northwestern

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

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

 

12. High Point Solutions Stadium, Rutgers

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

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

 

 

13. Memorial Stadium, Indiana

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

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

 

14. Ross Ade Stadium, Purdue

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Week 1: Ohio State at Virginia Tech

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

 

Back-up plan: Texas at Notre Dame

 

Week 2: Oregon at Michigan State

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

 

Back-up plan: Oklahoma at Tennessee

 

Week 3: Ole Miss at Alabama

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

 

Back-up plan: Auburn at LSU

 

Week 4: Tennessee at Florida

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

 

Back-up plan: USC at Arizona State

 

Week 5: Alabama at Georgia

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

 

Back-up plan: Notre Dame at Clemson

 

Week 6: Oklahoma vs. Texas

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

 

Back-up plan: Wisconsin at Nebraska

 

Week 7: USC at Notre Dame

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

 

Back-up plan: Penn State at Ohio State

 

Podcast: Preseason College Football Playoff Preview



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Week 8: Auburn at Arkansas

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

 

Back-up plan: Florida State at Georgia Tech

 

Week 9: Oregon at Arizona State

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

 

Back-up plan: Ole Miss at Auburn

 

Week 10: Florida State at Clemson

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

 

Back-up plan: LSU at Alabama

 

Week 11: Oregon at Stanford

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


Back-up plan: Georgia at Auburn

 

Week 12: Michigan State at Ohio State

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

 

Back-up plan: USC at Oregon

 

Week 13: Alabama at Auburn

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

 

Back-up plan: Baylor at TCU

 

Week 14: Pac-12 title game

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

 

Back-up plan: SEC Championship Game

 

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

Teaser:
A College Football Fan's Dream Road Trip for 2015
Post date: Thursday, July 9, 2015 - 10:30

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