Articles By Braden Gall

All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Miami Hurricanes, News
Path: /college-football/miami-hurricanes-2015-schedule-and-analysis
Body:

Miami hasn't been the big dog on the block in the ACC for more than a decade. 

 

But it doesn't mean that Al Golden doesn't have one of the most talented rosters in the ACC, as well as a rising star under center in Brad Kaaya.

 

The Coastal Division has been a wide-open free-for-all for the last few years and that doesn't appear to be any different heading into 2015. This means that there are plenty of speed bumps, but also plenty of opportunities for Miami this fall. And should things fall right, a division crown is well within reach.

 

Related: Cover 2 College Football Podcast: Early 2015 ACC Preview

 

2015 Florida State Schedule

 

Bye: Week 4, * - Thurs., ** - Fri.

 

WkOpp.DateLocation
1.Sept. 5Miami, FL
Miami has faced Bethune-Cookman twice before and handled the Wildcats with ease both times. The Canes won by a combined score of 83-24 at home in 2011-12. Expect a smooth opener for Golden's squad.
2.Sept. 11*Boca Raton, FL
The only meeting between two rosters full of players who likely know each other very well was a 34-6 Miami blowout over the Owls in 2013.
3.Sept. 18Miami, FL
Historic Rivalry Aside from Nebraska's 41-31 win last season in Lincoln, this matchup has historically carried with it national title implications. The five previous meetings came in a national title situation beginning with the infamous two-point try to cap the 1983 season. Nebraska leads the all-time series 6-5. Both teams have eyes on a division crown in their respective leagues and a win in this game could catapult one into conference play.
5.Oct. 1**Cincinnati, OH
These two programs have met 12 times. Cincinnati won the first meeting 20-7 in Cincinnati in 1947. The Hurricanes have dominated since, winning the next 11, including a 55-34 drubbing last season in their first meeting since 1998. Gunner Kiel versus Brad Kaaya should be fun to watch.
6.Oct. 10Tallahassee, FL
Rivalry Game I Florida State was won five straight in this series, but the Hurricanes hung tough last year before losing by four points. Miami has played well in Doak Campbell over the years. Since 2000, the Canes are 4-3 in Tallahassee, including a close, four-point loss in 2011.
7.Oct. 17Miami, FL
Division Title Game I Both Tech and Miami have their sights set on wresting the Coastal Division crown from Georgia Tech. The Canes crushed the Hokies in impressive fashion last year in Blacksburg, but this game is located in tough territory schedule-wise, coming between FSU and Clemson. Al Golden is 2-2 against Frank Beamer's bunch while at Miami and the Canes lead the all-time series 19-13.
8.Oct. 24Miami, FL
Watson vs. Kaaya Clemson has to go on the road in crossover play after facing two physical running games (Georgia Tech, Boston College). These two haven't met since 2010 and Miami holds a 6-3 edge in the series, but Canes fans should be ready to be inundated with Clemson supporters in a game that could feature the best two quarterbacks in the ACC.
9.Oct. 31Durham, NC
Miami is 10-2 all-time against Duke and Golden is 3-1 against the Blue Devils since arriving in South Florida. This was a tightly-played 22-10 win for Miami last year at home, but The U lost ugly (48-30) the last time it visited Durham. How beat up are the Canes after three straight with the Noles, Hokies and Tigers?
10.Nov. 7Miami, FL
Prior to joining the ACC, Miami and Virginia had faced one another just once, in the 1996 Carquest Bowl. Virginia actually owns the ACC all-time series record with a 6-5 mark since, including taking four of the last five. The Wahoos embarrassed the Hurricanes 30-13 in Charlottesville a year ago and a loss at home to Virginia could cost Golden more than just the division.
11.Nov. 14Chapel Hill, NC
Elimination Game This game constantly seems to deliver since the duo landed in the same division. The series is 6-5 Miami in 11 ACC meetings with six games decided by one score. The Hurricanes crushed the Heels 47-20 a year ago and North Carolina will look for revenge at home this fall. 
12.Nov. 21Miami, FL
Division Title Game II If Miami gets to this point of the season still in contention in the Coastal; it's likely that this game would decide which team goes to the ACC title game. The Yellow Jackets own the all-time series 11-9 but Golden has been solid against Tech, going 3-1 during his time in the ACC. However, the Jackets took care of business last year 28-17 in Atlanta. Miami has won three straight over Tech in Miami.
13.Nov. 27**Pittsburgh, PA
Fans will look at this game on the schedule and perceive it as possibly the sixth- or seventh-most important game. The Hurricanes better not fall into that trap, however, as Pitt could be one of the more improved teams in the division. Don't be surprised if the Panthers are still in Coastal contention come Thanksgiving weekend. Pitt won 35-23 last year in Miami, snapping the Canes' eight-game winning streak over the Panthers.

 

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Teaser:
Miami Hurricanes 2015 Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Friday, April 24, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Arkansas Razorbacks, College Football, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/arkansas-razorbacks-2015-football-schedule-and-analysis
Body:

The first offseason for Bret Bielema was dramatically different than his second in Fayetteville.

 

Arkansas got back to a bowl game after a winless SEC campaign and fans and prognosticators alike are excited about the Hogs' potential in 2015. The roster is in great shape and the Razorbacks' identity makes them tough to face every weekend.

 

There are still question marks at key positions but the schedule in the SEC West might be the biggest obstacle to Bielema leading Arkansas back to the SEC Championship Game for the first time in nearly a decade.

 

Related: Cover 2 College Football Podcast: Early SEC 2015 Preview

 

2015 Arkansas Schedule

 

Bye: Week 7

 

WkOpp.DateLocation
1.Sept. 5Fayetteville, AR
Two previous meetings between UTEP and Arkansas led to two very lop-sided wins (by 32 points in 1989, 39 in 2010) for the Hogs. Expect a similar outcome in the season opener.
2.Sept. 12Little Rock, AR
Toledo is a feisty MAC program but won't be able to compete in the trenches with a team as big and physical as Arkansas. Look for a second-straight blowout for the Hogs to start the season in the first-ever meeting between the Rockets and Razorbacks.
3.Sept. 19Fayetteville, AR
These old-school rivals got things renewed a year ago and it was all Hogs. Arkansas' 49-28 win in Lubbock featured 68 rushing attempts, 438 yards and seven scores in the first meeting between the two programs since 1991. The Hogs have owned the all-time series 29-7.
4.Sept. 26Arlington, TX
Rivalry Restored One of the great aspects to TAMU landing in the SEC West is the renewed rivalry with Arkansas. This was a thriller last season, as Kenny Hill led a wild comeback in overtime. The Hogs lead all-time 41-27-3, but have lost three straight to the Ags. This is a huge early-season pecking order game in the West.
5.Oct. 3Knoxville, TN
A sneaky awesome early October matchup could feature two surging unbeaten programs. It will be the third physical matchup for Tennessee's defense in the first five weeks. The Vols are 13-4 all-time against the Hogs and haven't lost at home in the series since 1992 (the 1998 matchup needs no explanation). Arkansas won 49-7 in Fayetteville in 2011 in the last meeting.
6.Oct. 10Tuscaloosa, AL
Alabama has won eight straight in this series but last year's 14-13 win in Fayetteville is one neither side will ever forget. In fact, before the streak started, Arkansas owned an 8-7 series edge in SEC games. The last time these two met in Tuscaloosa, however, was a 52-0 beatdown. The Hogs should be able to keep it much closer this time around.
8.Oct. 24Fayetteville, AR
Upset Alert Regardless of how the coaches diffuse the rivalry, Gus Malzahn vs. Bret Bielema is a great coaching dynamic. And travelling to Fayetteville is always hard — especially, when it will be easy for Auburn to look ahead to Ole Miss. How Arkansas fares against both Alabama schools in back-to-back games (with an off-weekend between) will likely determine if it is a contender or not. Strangely enough, Hogs fans have to wait until Week 8 for the home SEC opener.
8.Oct. 31Fayetteville, AR
A Halloween tilt with lowly UT-Martin could be gruesome for the Skyhawks. Look for the backups to get plenty of reps as Arkansas prepares for one of the toughest Novembers in college football. 
9.Nov. 7Oxford, MS
Houston Nutt Bowl This time the revenge factor plays in Ole Miss' favor after getting crushed by Arkansas a year ago. This has been an extremely even series over the years despite the 30-0 score from last fall. The Hogs lead the series 32-28-1 and the two have split the last six meetings in Oxford.
10.Nov. 14Baton Rouge, LA
The Golden Boot One of the more underrated and always heated rivalries in the SEC West could be a big revenge spot for LSU. The Hogs thrashed the Tigers 17-0 in Fayetteville last season. LSU leads the series 37-21-2 all-time.
12.Nov. 21Fayetteville, AR
Arkansas owns a 15-9-1 series lead over the Bulldogs but Dan Mullen has reversed that trend of late. Mississippi State has won the past three matchups. The last two meetings have been physical, low-scoring brawls that were decided by one score each. Look for another huge late-season showdown between these two on Nov. 21.
13.Nov. 28Fayetteville, AR
This was a fantastic late-season showdown a year ago, no matter which rooting side you were on. The 21-14 win sent Mizzou to Atlanta with an East championship. These two have met only six times and the Tigers have won four of them. The last win for the Hogs over Mizzou came in the 2003 Independence Bowl.

 

Listen to the Cover 2 Podcast: Early 2015 SEC Preview



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Teaser:
Arkansas Razorbacks 2015 Football Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Thursday, April 23, 2015 - 12:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-12-college-towns-expert-poll
Body:

The old saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” couldn’t be more true when it comes to ranking college towns.

 

Do you prefer larger metropolitan areas? Do you enjoy the isolated peace and quiet of a quaint small town? Cost of living, nightlife, food, culture, weather, surrounding geography and more go into evaluating a city.

 

Every college campus is unique and each one brings something different to the table.

 

When evaluating a bigger city like Fort Worth or Austin against small towns like Lubbock or Stillwater, personal opinions will vary greatly. So we had some fun asking 12 Big 12 experts to rank their favorite Big 12 locations and here is what we learned:

 

The Voting Panel:

David Ubben, Fox Sports

Chip Brown, HornsDigest.com

Pat Forde, Yahoo!

Dennis Dodd, CBSSports

Stewart Mandel, Fox Sports

Blair Kerkhoff, KC Star

George Schroeder, USA Today

Chris Level, RedRaiderSports.com

Bryan Fischer, NFL.com

Allen Kenney, BlatantHomerism.com

Tim Fitzgerald, GoPowerCat.com

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports/SiriusXM

 

The Results:

 

Voting: A first-place vote was worth one point and a last-place vote was worth 10 points.

 

RkJobVotes (1st)
1.14 (10)
Austin, Texas There are few places in the world as cool as Austin — and they will tell you about it too. Great food, crazy awesome music and the only part of Texas that isn't table-top flat. The rolling hill country, boating and golf only add to the long list of stuff to do in the Lone Star State capital. There is a reason Austin got all but two first-place votes. Sixth Street is a must for a first-time visitor.
2.35 (1)
Fort Worth, Texas The massive metroplex in North Texas got one first-place vote and if big cities are your thing, there aren't too many options in the Big 12. The attractions in DFW are endless and well known — professional sports, Texas State Fair, bars, beers and honky tonks. If small town living is your thing, then Fort Worth won't suit you. TCU's hometown got six second-place votes and two third-place votes along with that one first-place selection.
3.43 (1)
Lawrence, Kan. It won't be confused with any of the other towns on fall Saturdays, but this town is extremely underrated nationally and got one vote as the Big 12's best town. The gorgeous campus is soaked in rich sports tradition (mostly basketball) and is just down the road from Kansas City. The personality is a bit eclectic and that makes hanging out in Lawrence a fun experience. The music scene here is excellent and the BBQ ain't bad either.
4.56
Norman, Okla. Sort of a mini-Oklahoma City, Norman got three third-place votes, but also was picked as low as ninth. The downtown area has plenty of charm and the small town streets are welcoming. Certainly, game days take this town to a different level unlike places like Lawrence. Campus Corner comes highly recommended.
5.69
Morgantown, W.V. The mountains are gorgeous. The campus is awesome on game day. The parties and nightlife are fantastic (insane is perhaps a more fitting descriptor). But it's not easy to get to for any long-distance travelers, which also is the case with many Big 12 outposts. However, outside of the university and the mountains, there isn't a whole lot else going on — which is why Morgantown was voted as high as second and as low as tenth.
6.78
Manhattan, Kan. The true outposts in the Big 12 will fill the bottom half of this league, beginning with The Little Apple. Some love the small town (it got a second-place vote) and others do not (two last-place votes). There are some killer breweries (at plenty of bars in Aggieville) and plenty of food spots but that's about it.
7.84
Lubbock, Texas It's 350 miles to Fort Worth or Waco, 340 miles to Norman and 370 miles to Austin or Stillwater — Lubbock's nearest Big 12 counterparts. It redefines middle of nowhere. It's got country music, dust and Texas Tech football. And it's much larger than outsiders would probably guess at nearly 250,000 residents. 
8.87
Stillwater, Okla. One of the smallest college towns in big-time college football at less than 50,000 people, Stillwater is a great party town but has little else to offer. To quote one expert on this panel, "Eskimo Joe's has been a Big 12 landmark" for more than two decades. So there's that.
9.92
Ames, Iowa A true college town, this might be the most bizarre ranking on this list. Ames is routinely ranked as one of the better places to live in the Midwest, complete with great small town living and some decent nightlife. It got two 10th-place votes and five ninth-place votes. For the record, I voted Ames fifth.
10.102
Waco, Texas The new facilities have changed the look and feel of this town but not enough to get it out of the Big 12 basement. Waco got four 10th-place votes and three ninth-place votes. Unless you are Chip or Joanna Gaines (or maybe John McClain), I'd suggest continuing up or down I-35 to Austin or DWF.

Listen to the Cover 2 Podcast: Early 2015 Big 12 Preview



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Teaser:
Ranking the Big 12 College Towns (Expert Poll)
Post date: Thursday, April 23, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, USC Trojans, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/usc-trojans-2015-schedule-and-analysis
Body:

USC comes into a season in a familiar situation — the frontrunner to win its division.

 

Fans will add to that Pac-12 championship and College Football Playoff aspirations as well.

 

And with good reason. The Trojans have by far the best collection of players in the Pac-12.

 

But depth may still be an issue and navigating a schedule that could feature upwards of eight ranked opponents makes winning a league title incredibly difficult.

 

2015 USC Trojans Schedule

 

Bye: Week 4, * - Thurs., ** - Fri.

 

WkOpp.DateLocation
1.Sept. 5Los Angeles, CA
USC will begin its season as easily as any team in the nation with two cupcakes. Arkansas State isn't a terrible mid-major program, but shouldn't challenge the Trojans in any way. It's the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
2.Sept. 12Los Angeles, CA
Idaho will be even less competitive than the Red Wolves in Week 2. USC has won all eight meetings with ease over the Vandals. Considering what USC will face over the next two weeks, the Men of Troy deserve to ease their way into the season.
3.Sept. 19Los Angeles, CA
Pac-12 Title Preview I This hard-hitting physical contest has been one of the best rivalries in the Pac-12 for years. USC won the last two meetings on game-ending plays in the final minutes but Stanford had won four straight in the series prior. The last five meetings have been one-score games and it could easily be a preview of the Pac-12 title game.
4.Sept. 26Tempe, AZ
Instant Drama Wild things have happened lately when these two get together. Arizona State won on a historic Hail Mary on the game's final play last year and Lane Kiffin lost his job after losing to ASU the year before. The Sun Devils have won three of the last four but USC had won 11 straight prior. This game could decide the Pac-12 South Division race.
6.Oct. 8*Los Angeles, CA
Primetime Showdown The Huskies and Trojans get the national spotlight to themselves on a Thursday night. USC owns a 51-28-4 all-time record against UW and has won nine of the last 11 meetings. These teams haven't met since 2012. 
7.Oct. 17South Bend, IN
Historic Rivalry As good a rivalry as there is in college football, Notre Dame leads the all-time series 45-35-5. USC smoked the Irish 49-14 in Coach Sark's first shot at the Irish but the Trojans had lost three of the previous four meetings with Brian Kelly. The 2015 meeting could feature two top-10 teams vying for a Playoff spot. Sounds good to me.
8.Oct. 24Los Angeles, CA
USC is 9-4 all-time against Utah and had won the first three meetings since the Utes entered the Pac-12. However, late-game heroics from Utah in last year's 24-21 victory resulted in just the second win in the series for the Utes since 1916. Only once has Utah won in L.A. — also in 1916.
9.Oct. 31Berkeley, CA
Upset Alert The Men of Troy have owned their northern rivals, maintaining a 67-29-5 all-time advantage. USC has won 11 straight in the series with the last loss coming in 2003 in Berkeley (when some guy named Aaron Rodgers was the QB for Cal). The Bears are improving and proved that last year with just an eight-point loss to the Trojans. USC needs to be on upset alert.
10.Nov. 7Los Angeles, CA
One of the best games of 2014 out West was USC's 28-26 win, as Zona missed a game-winning field goal to end the game. USC has won two straight, four of the last five and 11 of the last 13. So while it sounds like USC has owned the series, these games have been incredibly competitive. Eight straight games have been decided by one score or less.
11.Nov. 13**Boulder, CO
In four Pac-12 meetings, Colorado has allowed 195 points to the Trojans in four losses. But CU's struggles against the Trojans extend beyond their brief history as divisional foes. In fact, the Trojans are 9-0 all-time against the Buffaloes and 2015 probably won't change this trend.
12.Nov. 21Eugene, OR
Pac-12 Title Preview II USC and Oregon could enter this game undefeated with both division titles, a Pac-12 title and potential Playoff berth hanging in the balance. Oregon should be playing its best football and will be looking for revenge for what took place the last time the Trojans paid a visit to Autzen Stadium - a thrilling 38-35 USC victory in 2011. Otherwise, Oregon has won three of four meetings with the most recent one occurring in 2012.
13.Nov. 28Los Angeles, CA
City of Lights Rivalry The longtime intra-city rivalry has been a game of streaks. UCLA won eight straight from 1991-98 before USC won seven straight from 1999-05 and then five straight from 2007-11. Yet, UCLA has won the last three by double-digits. The season finale could also be a South Division championship game.

 

Listen to the Cover 2 Podcast: Early 2015 Pac-12 Preview



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Teaser:
USC Trojans 2015 Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/ranking-acc-college-towns-expert-poll
Body:

The old saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” couldn’t be more true when it comes to ranking college towns.

 

Do you prefer larger metropolitan areas? Do you enjoy the isolated peace and quiet of a quaint, small town? Cost of living, night life, food, culture, weather, surrounding geography and more go into evaluating a city.

 

Every college campus is unique and each one brings something different to the table. And the ACC's collection of towns is extremely unique.

 

When evaluating big cities like Atlanta, Miami, Pittsburgh or Boston against a small town like Blacksburg, personal opinions will vary greatly. So we had some fun asking ACC experts to rank their favorite ACC locations. Here is what we learned:

 

The Voting Panel:

 

Wes Durham, FOX Sports/ACC Network

Mark Packer, SiriusXM College Sports Nation

Tony Barnhart, AJC/SEC Network

Julius Hodge, ACC Digital Net

Bud Elliott, TomahawkNation.com

Jon Meterparel, IMG Sports-Boston College

Mark Ennis, ESPN 680-Louisville

David Hood, Tigernet.com

Amanda Busick, College Sports Reporter

Jerry DiPaola, Pitt Trib Review

Lachlan McLean, Sports Talk 840-Louisville

Nate Mink, Syracuse.com

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports/SiriusXM

 

The Results:

 

Voting: A first-place vote was worth one point and a last-place vote was worth 14 points.

 

RkJobVotes (1st)
1.41 (6)
Charlottesville, Va. It's got historic tradition and beauty. It's got a great party scene. It's located in a beautiful part of the country. The campus is gorgeous, the downtown mall is a blast, the vineyards are excellent and the presidential tradition is everywhere. It's hard not to get caught up in the rich vibe when visiting Virginia's campus. Be sure to check out Edgar Allen Poe's Room. Charlottesville got six first-place votes, by far the most of any ACC locale.
2.42 (1)
Chapel Hill, N.C. There is just a lot going on in Chapel Hill. The architecture is awesome, the weather is great and the natural scenery and outdoor activities are fantastic. The food is among the nation's best for a small town and the bar/music/art night scene is as good as any in the Southeast (check out Franklin Street). Chapel Hill barely missed out being voted the No. 1 town in the ACC with eight votes in the top three. 
3.47 (3)
Clemson, S.C. How many towns are named after the university? Formerly known as Calhoun, the town voted to change its name to Clemson in 1943. This represents all that is a small college town. The passion is what gives Clemson the best stadium in the league, the best gameday atmosphere and the most interwoven city. It's got great food joints and Lake Hartwell is always a good time. It's also a quick drive to three different states. Clemson got more first-place votes than any town not named Charlottesville.
4.69 (1)
Tallahassee, Fla. Considered one of the better "college towns for grownups," Tallahassee tends to keep people around. It's much larger than the average college town at over 300,000 residents, but has that medium-sized charm. Geography allows for plenty of beach life to shine through and there are endless festivals, dining and night attractions for visitors. The Florida state capital is the top city in the second tier according to the voting.
5.87 (1)
Raleigh, N.C. The most underrated stadium and gameday experience in the ACC is probably in Raleigh. The town loves its Wolfpack and it loves to party — which is probably why it got one first-place vote (and why people keep telling me to try Cook Out). It also was voted 10th or worse in the ACC by four different panelists. Check out Glenwood Ave. and Fayetteville Street. A trip to Raleigh for a sporting event is surely a good time. It's also one of three ACC towns that can claim a Stanley Cup, if that counts for anything?
6.93
Louisville, Ky. Of all of the big cities in the ACC, Louisville has the most charm. Wrapped by the Ohio River, there is tons to do, no matter what your fancy. Churchill Downs is a must-see while a developing area south of town known as Bardstown Road is as vibrant as any city south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Breweries, boating, golf, a growing music scene (SEE: Forecastle) and more make Louisville the best big city in the ACC.
7.98
Blacksburg, Va. If you want a truly small town located in the middle of the mountains, Blacksburg is your place. Few towns embody the vibe and feel of the campus like the architecture of Virginia Tech. The stone buildings are gorgeous and the mountains offer plenty to do outdoors. If you prefer city life, this isn't your cup of tea, which is why the Hokies' hometown was ranked as high as second by one panelist while four others voted it outside of the top 10.
8.108
Atlanta, Ga. The capital of Georgia is a polarizing city for sure. The traffic is downright miserable, the city itself goes on forever in every direction and the fans generally haven't supported many sports teams. Yet, the urban lifestyle is a big draw for many and the food scene is among the best in the nation. Short trips to beaches and mountains offer plenty of easy access to outdoor activities. It's not for everyone but there is a reason the metro areas boasts over five million residents.
9.113 (1)
Miami, Fla. Coral Gables itself is small village located just south of the sprawling metroplex that is Miami. The night life and allure of beach living in Miami is a huge draw for some (it got one first-place vote) but there is very little that is unique about campus life at The U. Which is why it was ranked last by two voters. For the record, this is the only town in the Power 5 with a first-place AND last-place vote.
10.114
Durham, N.C. The third-ranked city within the triangle was voted as highly as fourth by two voters and was voted last by another — which seems to be a theme among all ACC towns. At 250,000 residents, Duke's hometown is right in the middle in terms of size in the ACC as well. It's not as big as Raleigh and it's not as cool as Chapel Hill.
11.132
Pittsburgh, Pa. It's a big city and it has all of the advantages of traditional big cities. Huge infrastructure, technology growth as well as professional sports teams can overwhelm the university and its role within the community. Let's face it, the Panthers will always be the second-most important football team in the Steel City.
12.134
Chestnut Hill, Mass. If this were strictly based on Boston, it would be hard to imagine it falling this far down the list. Boston is a fantastic city with vibrant energy and steeped in American history. However, eight miles down the road is Chestnut Hill. While gorgeous, the campus is sort of an after-thought within the city (sort of like the sports teams). Still, it's hard to believe living on the outskirts of such an extraordinary city could rank as the 12th-best place in the ACC. It got four last-place votes.
13.136
Winston-Salem, N.C. The fourth-most desirable location of the North Carolina ACC schools is Winston-Salem. While the other three form the triangle of education and basketball, W-S is located just west of Greensboro, far from both the Smoky Mountains and the Outer Banks. It got three last-place votes, but also was voted as high as fifth.
14.152
Syracuse, N.Y. There is a reason that Syracuse's population has been dropping every decade since the 1950s. The weather is brutal for most of the year and its located in the middle of upstate New York — which is sort of close to Lake Erie, right? To quote one Athlon employee from New York, "It's a poor man's Rochester."

 

Listen to the Cover 2 Podcast: Early 2015 ACC Preview



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Teaser:
Ranking the ACC College Towns (Expert Poll)
Post date: Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/do-pittsburgh-steelers-really-have-toughest-nfl-schedule-2015
Body:

Pittsburgh SteelersAccording to the numbers, the Pittsburgh Steelers will face the toughest schedule in the NFL in 2015.

 

Their opponents' winning percentage was .579 a year ago (147-107-2) — tops in the NFL entering this season.

 

The Bengals (.563), 49ers (.561), Seahawks (.559) and Cardinals (.559) round out the top five.

 

However, normally there is one major issue with using the previous year’s outcomes to determine the next year’s strength of schedule:

 

No one gets to play last year’s teams.

 

Typically, using last year’s opponent’s winning percentage is a surface-level way to address scheduling difficulties and it rarely paints an accurate picture. It’s short-sighted and lacks the depth needed to analyze roster churn, home-road splits, bye weeks and aging talent.

 

However, this one time it might be right.

 

The Steelers really do have the toughest path to the playoffs.

 

Notice anything special about those top five schedules listed above? The teams hail from two divisions, the NFC West and AFC North.

 

Both are considered the toughest divisions in their respective conferences and both divisions will have to face each other this fall.

 

It doesn’t end there for Pittsburgh, however.

 

If six games with the AFC North and four with the NFC West — including road trips to Seattle and St. Louis — weren’t tough enough, Pittsburgh also must face the projected champions of the AFC East (New England) and AFC South (Indianapolis), as well as the entire AFC West. That's as hard a schedule as any AFC team could possibly have.

 

Meanwhile, division rival Baltimore gets the Jaguars and the Dolphins in swing games, while the Bengals get the Texans and the Bills and Cleveland faces the Titans and Jets.

 

The list of quarterbacks the Steelers will face this season includes Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Joe Flacco (twice), Philip Rivers (perhaps), Andy Dalton (twice), Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith.

 

That doesn’t include games against rising second-year starter Derek Carr as well as the Arizona Cardinals and a Jeff Fisher team on the road.

 

Basically, this team gets no breaks. In the first five weeks, Mike Tomlin faces two of the last three defending Super Bowl champs, the 49ers and the Chargers and Rams on the road. Then to wrap things up from Week 12-16, Pittsburgh faces a ridiculous five-game stretch that goes as follows: at Seattle, Indianapolis, at Cincinnati, Denver and at Baltimore.

 

Using last year’s win totals is normally a foolish way to determine what lies ahead for a team. But this slate really does appear to be the toughest in the NFL.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 Schedule

Teaser:
Do the Pittsburgh Steelers Really Have the Toughest NFL Schedule in 2015?
Post date: Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oregon Ducks, News
Path: /college-football/dallas-cowboys-2015-football-schedule-and-analysis
Body:

Dallas Cowboys 2015 Football ScheduleDeMarco Murray isn't in Dallas any longer but Jerry Jones is clearly thinking Super Bowl still. He's assembled a roster that appears poised to make a deep postseason run and finish what it couldn't a year ago.

 

The Cowboys have franchised Dez Bryant, signed Greg Hardy, brought in Darren McFadden and resigned a bunch of quality role players from last year's team.

 

But can Tony Romo lead this team to a second consecutive NFC East title for the first time since 1995-96? Here is a game-by-game breakdown of the Cowboys' 2015 schedule:

 

2015 Dallas Schedule

 

WkOpp.DateLocation
1.Sept. 13Arlington, TX
Dallas has swept the Giants in each of the last two seasons but are just 2-4 in their last six at home against the G-Men. All four wins over the last two seasons have been by 10 points or less. Jason Garrett is 2-2 in season openers.
2.Sept. 20Philadelphia, PA
Back-to-back divisional games to start the year make the first two weeks extremely important for Dallas. Especially, considering who will be running the ball for the Eagles. The Boys have won three straight in Phily but have split with the Eagles in each of the last two years.
3.Sept. 27Arlington, TX
Atlanta is the third of four games in a row against NFC playoff contenders. Garrett has only faced the Falcons once, a 19-13 win in Atlanta in 2012.
4.Oct. 4New Orleans, LA
Sean Payton and Garrett are extremely familiar, having faced each other in three straight seasons. Dallas won easily last season 38-17 at home but lost the two previous meetings. In fact, the Saints have won eight of the last 10 against Dallas dating back to 1998.
5.Oct. 11Arlington, TX

The defending champs come to town capping a brutal first month for the Boys. Garrett has only faced the Patriots once, a 20-16 loss in Foxboro in 2011. This could be the highest-rated game of the regular season.

 

Related: 10 Must-See NFL Games in 2015 Season

6.BYEOct. 18 
The off weekend comes at a great time after five tough tests to start the year — and with three big NFC games coming up.
7.Oct. 25East Rutherford, NJ
Dallas better not look ahead to Seattle in Week 8 or a trip to New Jersey could be costly. Dallas has won three straight on the road against the Giants and Garrett is 3-1 in his career in East Rutherford.
8.Nov. 1Arlington, TX
The Cowboys shocked the NFL world by going into Seattle and winning 30-23 a year ago. Since 2008, Dallas has won four out of five against the Hawks and Garrett is 2-1 in those games. This is a potential NFC Championship Game preview.
9.Nov. 8Arlington, TX
DeMarco Murray's homecoming will be must-see TV regardless of what happens in the Week 2 meeting. Garrett is 1-3 against the Birds at home.
10.Nov. 15Tampa, FL
Dallas has dominated the all-time series with Tampa 13-3 and has won five straight over the Bucs dating back to 2006. Could this game feature Tony Romo vs. Jameis Winston?
11.Nov. 22Miami, FL
These two teams have only faced each other 13 times in history and haven't played since the last rotation in 2011. Dallas won 20-19 in Miami and this could be a major upset alert moment with huge NFC tilts coming up over the next three weeks.
12.Nov. 26Arlington, TX
Facing a physical Carolina team on just four days rest on a Thursday night could create some problems. Dallas is 9-3 all-time against Carolina and hasn't lost to the Panthers since 2004 (5-0). Garrett is 1-0 against the Panthers. 
13.Dec. 7Landover, MD
Garrett is 5-3 against the Redskins and 3-1 in Landover, including a 44-17 drubbing a year ago. This will be the first of two meetings with the Skins in the final five weeks.
14.Dec. 13Green Bay, WI
This game would be phenomenal even if it wasn't a rematch of a memorable NFC Divisional playoff game. Dallas has lost four straight to the Packers, three of which have come at Lambeau Field — like this one. Garrett is 0-2 against Green Bay.
15.Dec. 19Arlington, TX
Todd Bowles will be nearing the end of his first season as the Jets head coach after two seasons as the Cardinals defensive coordinator. Strangely enough, these two have met 10 times total but only three times in Dallas. The Boys won the last meeting in Big D 34-3 in 2007.
16.Dec. 27Orchard Park, NY
 Dallas has won three straight against the Bills, as Buffalo hasn't topped the Boys since 1996. Garrett crushed Buffalo 44-7 in his only meeting back in '11. 
17.Jan. 3Arlington, TX
The season finale could be the easiest division game of the year for the Boys. Garrett is just 2-2 against Washington at home. This will be the 112th meeting between the two historic rivals.
Teaser:
Dallas Cowboys 2015 Football Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oregon Ducks, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/oregon-ducks-2015-football-schedule-and-analysis
Body:

Oregon enters a season after losing in the national title game for the second time in six years.

 

This time, Mark Helfrich has to rebuild without the best player in school history. While finding a replacement for Marcus Mariota is critical, it's just one of many challenges the Ducks must overcome if they expect to repeat as Pac-12 champs in 2015.

 

Oregon has one of the best rosters in the league but must face a schedule befitting a defending national runner-up.

 

2015 Oregon Ducks Schedule

 

Bye: Week 8, * - Thurs., ** - Fri.

 

WkOpp.DateLocation
1.Sept. 5Eugene, OR
Adams Bowl Should former Eastern Washington star quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. win the starting QB job for Oregon (as expected), he will have to face his former team in Week 1. From a storyline standpoint, it doesn't get any better than this. That EWU is an extremely good FCS program only adds more intrigue.
2.Sept. 12East Lansing, MI
Playoff Primer These two national powers played a thrilling, high-scoring bout a year ago before the Ducks pulled away in the final few minutes (46-27). This will mark the sixth-ever meeting — Oregon leads 3-2 — but this time around Michigan State is the team at home and with the star quarterback (Connor Cook).
3.Sept. 19Eugene, OR
The first meeting between these two programs could be ugly. State has only been playing high-level college football for a few years and the Panthers their last 11 games in 2014. Helfrich will get to see a lot of his young players in this one.
4.Sept. 26Eugene, OR
Utah was sneaky good last year and will be sneaky good again this year. But the Ducks handled the Utes with ease, 51-27, giving Oregon its third straight win over Utah in three Pac-12 meetings. The only win for Utah in the series since 1994 came in 2003 in Salt Lake. 
5.Oct. 3Boulder, CO
The all-time series appears close (11-8, Oregon) but the Buffs haven't been competitive since the late 1990s. Oregon has won five straight in the series and has averaged 50.8 points per game in the process. Colorado has scored 11.6 points per game over that span. Any crossover schedule that includes the Buffaloes is a lucky break.
6.Oct. 10Eugene, OR
The Ducks have won eight straight games against the Cougars and have scored at least 43 points in seven of those games — and at least 50 in five. That said, last year's 38-31 decision was the closest the Cougs have played the Ducks since the '06 upset win in Pullman. 
7.Oct. 17Seattle, WA
Upset Alert Despite dominating the series with 11 straight victories, the rebuilt Ducks will need to be on high alert in Seattle midway through October. The Huskies will get extra time to prep for arguably the biggest game in the Pac-12 North while the Ducks could be looking ahead to their bye the following week and the daunting slate that awaits them.
9.Oct. 29*Tempe, AZ
Pac-12 Title Game Preview? Arizona State could be one of the top picks to win the South Division and the long trip to the desert could be the toughest road trip for the Ducks all season. Oregon has a narrow edge in the all-time series 17-16 but only because ASU has lost eight straight. These two haven't met since 2012 and the Ducks have won four straight in Tempe. The bye week comes at a great time, giving Oregon two weeks to prepare.
10.Nov. 7Eugene, OR
Cal leads the all-time series 40-35-2 and that includes six straight losses to the Ducks. Oregon has scored at least 55 points in each of the last three meetings and only once over the last six have the Bears even topped 17 points.
11.Nov. 14Palo Alto, CA
North Division Championship Many are buying major improvement from an already solid Stanford squad in '15. And this physical rivalry has gone the way of the Cardinal in both 2012 and '13, giving Stanford the division and eventual Pac-12 title. The winner of this game has won the last five Pac-12 championships.
12.Nov. 21Eugene, OR
Pac-12 Title Game Preview II USC and Oregon could enter this game undefeated with both division titles, a Pac-12 title and potential Playoff berth hanging in the balance. Oregon should be playing its best football and will be looking for revenge for what took place the last time the Trojans paid a visit to Autzen Stadium - a thrilling 38-35 USC victory in 2011. Otherwise, Oregon has won three of four meetings with the most recent one occurring in 2012.
13.Nov. 27**Eugene, OR
The Civil War The 119th meeting between the two in-state rivals has gone the way of the Ducks seven consecutive years. Only two of those, 2013's overtime classic and a six-point game in '09, have even been close. This could be a coronation for Oregon once again.

 

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Teaser:
Oregon Ducks 2015 Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Tuesday, April 21, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-sec-college-towns-expert-poll
Body:

The old saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” couldn’t be more true when it comes to ranking college towns.

 

Do you prefer larger metropolitan areas? Do you enjoy the isolated peace and quiet of a quaint small town? Cost of living, night life, food, culture, weather, surrounding geography and more go into evaluating a city.

 

Every college campus is unique and each one brings something different to the table.

 

When evaluating a bigger city like Nashville against a small town like Starkville or the culture of Gainesville with the Midwest tempo of Columbia, Mo., personal opinions will vary greatly. So we had some fun asking 12 SEC experts to rank their favorite SEC locations and here is what we learned:

 

The Voting Panel:

 

Tim Brando, FOX Sports

Dari Nowkhah, SEC Network

Tony Barnhart, AJC/SEC Net

Zac Ellis, Sports Illustrated

Chris Low, ESPN

Wes Rucker, 247Sports

Laura Rutledge, SEC Network

Chad Withrow, 104.5 The Zone-Nashville

Kayce Smith, ESPN/SEC Net

Seth Emerson, Macon Telegraph

Josh Ward, WNML-Knoxville

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports/SiriusXM

 

The Results:

 

Voting: A first-place vote was worth one point and a last-place vote was worth 14 points.

 

RkJobVotes (1st)
1.Vanderbilt Football31 (5)
Nashville, Tenn. There may not be a hotter city in the nation than the 615. An exploding food and rock music scene have only added to the historic charm and excitement of Music City, USA. Vandy is located just outside of downtown and doesn't add too much to the city but West End (where the campus is located), like every surrounding borough, has grown exponentially over the last decade. A cultural hub of the Southeast, there is literally something for everyone in this exploding it-city. Nashville was voted first or second in the SEC by eight of the 12 experts.
2.34 (5)
Athens, Ga. Great food, great bars, great music — try R.E.M., Widespread Panic, Danger Mouse and the B-52s — and the gorgeous natural beauty of the East Georgia mountains make Athens a contender for best college town in America every year. There are few places in the country where catching a college football game is more enjoyable than Athens, Ga. The Dawgs' home town got five first-place votes and two second-place votes.
3.49 (2)
Oxford, Miss. It's a very small town but is rich on tradition and culture. Some of America's greatest writers call it home (William Faulkner, John Grisham) and The Grove might be the best place to tailgate anywhere in the world. It's extremely charming and has an excellent night life on Courthouse Square. Square Books, Library, The Blind Pig and countless other shops, bars and eateries belong on your must-do list. Oxford got the other two first-place votes.
4.64
Knoxville, Tenn. Larger than most towns in the SEC, Knoxville offers some unique attributes others in the league cannot. First, the greatest whitewater rafting in the world and Smoky Mountain National Park are just south of town. But a developing food and night life scene downtown have made Knoxville a much more attractive place to be in recent years. Check out Market Square for shopping, drinking and eating. The same can be said for the Old City as well. 
5.77
Baton Rouge, La. If food is your thing, then few places in college football can match LSU's home town. The most creative, eclectic and delicious menu of any tailgate can be found in Baton Rouge. And it's all amazing. The weather can border on desert-like when it comes to heat, but being a capital city gives it a ton of modern growth and technology. And being just up the road from New Orleans has its perks.
6.86
Tuscaloosa, Ala. Houndstooth Sports Bar and Dreamland BBQ are famous for a reason. They are must-do stops if ever in T-Town. Most of the city revolves around the extremely passionate fandom of Alabama sports. But the town is bigger than outsiders traditionally think, giving it more things to do than one might assume. Tuscaloosa is probably the nicest of the true SEC small towns. Which is why Tuscaloosa was voted as high as fourth and as low as 13th in this poll.
7.99
Auburn, Ala. It's one of the smallest college towns in the nation and there is literally nothing else in the area but the university so it's not for everyone. However, the charm is unending and the food scene is getting better and better. The Hound is awesome for brunch and BBQ. Acre is incredible fine dining and Hamilton's is right off Toomer's Corner (also, a must-see locale). I've eaten at all three and I'd go back to all of them. The developments and upgrades to the gorgeous brick campus only continue to improve the area.
8.103
Columbia, Mo. Possibly the most underrated town in the SEC, Columbia is one of the most forward-thinking locations in the league. The arts, journalism and social conscious attitudes are fostered by the university. The night scene is extremely underrated (and filled with crazy good pizza). This town has the most Midwestern vibe of any SEC town. 
9.105
Lexington, Ky. The horse capital of the world is one of the bigger places to live in the SEC at over 300,000 residents. There is a distinct identity with this town that is undeniable. The surrounding horse land has been preserved and the world's largest basketball-specific arena is located in downtown. Bluegrass and hoops, that's what Lexington does! 
10.106
College Station, Texas If you think Auburn is small and in the middle of nowhere, then you won't like College Station much either. It's flat and non-descript with little else going on but the campus. The food is excellent (duh, it's Texas) and there are a few solid bars with good music. So if you love golf, BBQ and Texas A&M sports, you will enjoy this place.
11.113
Gainesville, Fla. Unless you are an undergrad at the university, there isn't a whole lot to the city of Gainesville. It's really, really hot and humid most of the year and isn't a beach city like many outside of the region believe. There is some good music and plenty of places to party. But from a standard of living perspective for adults, there isn't a whole lot to sell about this town.
12.114
Fayetteville, Ark. Not much separates Fayetteville from Tuscaloosa. Arkansas' home base is more charming than outsiders believe and the beautiful Ozark Mountains offer plenty to do outside of town. There is also much more development in the area due to massive corporate growth from Walmart and Tyson. However, Fayetteville is difficult to get to for most travelers. For what it's worth, I had Fayetteville at eighth on my ballot.
13.120
Columbia, S.C. Another capital city mixing with a college campus. There is a ton of promise in this town but it has yet to catch its stride and develop like a Nashville for example. The school and campus are the best part of being in Columbia. Four of the 12 voters placed this town as one of the worst two in the SEC.
14.159
Starkville, Miss. There isn't a whole lot to write about here. The atmosphere surrounding the various sporting events (namely, football and baseball) add plenty of charm but there is nothing to do here and it's smack dab in the middle of nowhere. It got nine of the 12 last-place votes.

 

Listen to the Cover 2 Podcast: Early 2015 SEC Preview



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Teaser:
Ranking the SEC College Towns (Expert Poll)
Post date: Tuesday, April 21, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas A&M Aggies, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/texas-am-aggies-2015-schedule-and-analysis
Body:

Kevin Sumlin enters his fourth season at Texas A&M with a rising collection of elite recruits and a brand-new defensive coordinator to go with his brand-new stadium.

 

The Aggies may be ready to compete for a SEC West Division crown with John Chavis manning the defense. But to reach Atlanta, this squad will have to navigate one of the more difficult schedules in the nation — even with two “easier” crossover opponents.

 

2015 Texas A&M Aggies Schedule

 

Bye: Week 6

 

WkOpp.DateLocation
1.Sept. 5Houston, TX*
Scoreboard Showdown It may be called a neutral-site game, but one has to believe that Aggie fans will out-number Sun Devil supporters in Houston. This marks the first-ever meeting between the two and it should be a high-scoring, back-and-forth affair. Both offenses are great and both teams could be ranked in the top 20 to start the season. What's not to love about a rare Pac-12 vs. SEC matchup?
2.Sept. 12College Station, TX
The home opener for the Aggies will come against Ball State. These two have also never faced one another and the Cardinals figure to be overmatched here. The defense needs to show signs of life in this warm-up test.
3.Sept. 19College Station, TX
Only once before have these two programs met — a 48-18 Texas A&M win in 1950 in San Antonio (what?). Nevada can score points, so this should be an interesting test for John Chavis' defense. Although, it won't help much with the following game...
4.Sept. 26Arlington, TX*
Rivalry Restored One of the great aspects to TAMU landing in the SEC West is the renewed rivalry with Arkansas. This was a thriller last season, as Kenny Hill led a wild comeback in overtime. The Hogs lead all-time 41-27-3, but have lost three straight to the Ags. This is a huge early-season pecking order game in the West.
5.Oct. 3College Station, TX
The all-time series is tied at four. These two met four times before World War II, have played three times in SEC play and met in the Independence Bowl in 2000. This has been a high-scoring affair over the last three seasons and the Aggies were embarrassed a year ago in Starkville. Texas A&M has never lost at home to MSU.
7.Oct. 17College Station, TX
Must-See TV This was an obliteration last season when Alabama stepped on Texas A&M's neck 59-0 in an eye-opening win for the Tide. The two previous SEC meetings between Kevin Sumlin and Saban, however, were fantastic battles totaling 144 combined points. Have the Aggies closed the gap enough to compete at home against the mighty Tide?
8.Oct. 24Oxford, MS
Last season was the only win for Ole Miss in the all-time series against Texas A&M (6-1), but it was a thorough performance by the Rebels at Kyle Field. Three times have these two programs met in the Magnolia State and all three times the Aggies prevailed. Facing Ole Miss on the road a week after hosting Alabama is a lot to ask of any team.
9.Oct. 31College Station, TX
My favorite part of the fabricated Alamo Rivalry so far has been Steve Spurrier's comments at last year's SEC Media Days. We can all hope that his Gamecocks don't go down to Texas and "get killed and so forth" this time around. Texas A&M shocked Carolina in the season opener last year in the only meeting between the two programs.
10.Nov. 7College Station, TX
Instant Classic This has been an instant classic ever since the Aggies joined the SEC. The combined score in the last two games is 83-82 and the road team is 3-0 in three SEC meetings. Expect nothing but the same in this late-season divisional showdown. Who could ever forget the fourth quarter when these two last met at Kyle Field two years ago? Texas A&M is 4-1 all-time vs. Auburn with the two pre-SEC meetings coming in 1911 and '86 in Dallas.
11.Nov. 14College Station, TX
Texas A&M's seemingly mandatory November cupcake will be Western Carolina this fall. These two programs have never played and it's a safe bet the Catamounts won't want anything to do with the Aggies after 60 minutes.
12.Nov. 21Nashville, TN
Vanderbilt and Texas A&M have faced each other only once before and it got ugly quickly. Johnny Manziel and the Aggies rolled to a 56-24 win over James Franklin's Dores two seasons ago in College Station. Looking ahead could be the only issue here for the Ags.
13.Nov. 28Baton Rouge, LA
Chavis Bowl There has been one name in the SEC who has managed to shut down Kevin Sumlin's offense and it's John Chavis. Now, Chavis will return to Tiger Stadium with an Aggies logo on his chest. This budding SEC rivalry has featured four straight wins by LSU (2011-14), who leads the all-time series 30-20-3.

 

Listen to the Cover 2 Podcast: Early 2015 SEC Preview



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Teaser:
Texas A&M Aggies 2015 Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Monday, April 20, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-ten-college-towns-expert-poll
Body:

The old saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” couldn’t be more true when it comes to ranking college towns.

 

Do you prefer larger metropolitan areas? Do you enjoy the isolated peace and quiet of a quaint small town? Cost of living, nightlife, food, culture, weather, surrounding geography and more go into evaluating a city.

 

Every college campus is unique and each one brings something different to the table.

 

When evaluating a big city like Chicago against a small town like State College or the culture of Piscataway with the tempo of Iowa City, personal opinions will vary greatly. So we had some fun asking 10 Big Ten experts to rank their favorite Big Ten locations:

 

The Voting Panel:

 

Gerry DiNardo, Big Ten Network

Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune

Adam Rittenberg, ESPN

Dave Revsine, Big Ten Network

Kevin McGuire, College Football Talk

Sean Callahan, HuskerOnline.com

Tom Dienhart, Big Ten Network

Brent Yarina, Big Ten Network

Kevin Noon, BuckeyeGrove.com

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports/SiriusXM

 

The Results:

 

Voting: A first-place vote was worth one point and a last-place vote was worth 14 points.

 

RkJobVotes (1st)
1.12 (8)
Madison, Wis. There is no place like it in the Big Ten during fall Saturdays and it's why Madtown is routinely voted one of the nation's best college towns. The capital city is located between two gorgeous lakes and is home to the famed State Street — and it's delicious brat haze. It's vibrant, fun, welcoming and an absolute blast. This is the case even during the cold winter months, which is why Madison got eight of 10 first-place votes.
2.35 (1)
Ann Arbor, Mich. It’s the quintessential campus locale just 45 minutes west of Lake Erie. There is no doubting you are in a college town as the growth of Ann Arbor has centered around technology and research stemming from the university. The downtown is charming and houses one of the best main streets in the Big Ten complete with fine dining, nightlife and more. There is a stateliness to Ann Arbor that is reflective of the great university located there.
3.37
State College, Pa. Dubbed Happy Valley, State College isn't easy to get to but is worth the trip — and not just for the 110,000 screaming Lions fans. Bordered by the Allegheny Mountains, it has a great downtown of roughly 100,000 people while also feeling remote and quaint at the same time. The outdoor activities are among the best in the conference and climbing Mount Nittany is a right of passage. Also be sure to visit Penn State Creamery in this idyllic college locale.
4.54
Columbus, Ohio Many outside of Ohio wouldn't guess that Columbus is the biggest city in the state. A revitalized downtown offers more to do than most typical college towns. It might be too big for some (voted 10th by one panelist and ninth by two others) but professional sports, nightlife and High Street give the massive fanbase plenty to do while in town. Columbus got three second-place votes.
5.60
Bloomington, Ind. About an hour off any major interstate southwest of Indianapolis, Bloomington has a time-capsule feel. The bar scene is great and the food is solid in this prototypical college atmosphere. Laid back might be the best way to describe the Midwest feel of the gorgeous Indiana campus.
6.64 (1)
Iowa City, Iowa A perfect blend of city and town is where the Hawkeyes call home. The fifth largest city in Iowa, located just west of the Illinois border, Iowa City has a little bit of everything to offer visitors, especially if you are into literature. Sure, there is plenty of nightlife, quality dining and the "Ped Mall" but also a storied literary scene complete with a book festival. It was one of just three places to get a first-place vote on this panel.
7.76
Evanston, Ill. If you like big cities, few places in the world compare to The Windy City. Evanston is located on the north side of Chicago, situated along Lake Michigan and is a short train ride to Wrigley Field. Northwestern offers the best of both worlds — campus life nestled inside a bustling, massive metroplex (and they'll tell you about it).
8.81
East Lansing, Mich. Located smack-dab in the middle of the state (between Detroit and Grand Rapids), East Lansing could be one of the quicker developing cities on this list. It's fairly non-descript but hosts a variety of festivals and events. It's, uh, east of the state capital of Lansing.
9.83
Minneapolis, Minn. A very underrated location to live — at least, for eight months of the year — The Twin Cities offer plenty for visitors and residents alike. Parks, biking and theaters are prevalent and the downtown experience is awesome. If you can handle the frigid winters, Minneapolis is one of the best places in the Big Ten.
10.84
Lincoln, Neb. There isn't a lot to do in Lincoln but support the Big Red. The campus is inviting and it should come as no surprise that Memorial Stadium is the focal point of the town, as the massive structure rises from the relatively mundane horizon line. Silicon Prairie is a great place to get a steak and be sure to check out the Haymarket District.
11.94
College Park, Md. The nation's capital is just down the road so the busy Beltway could function as a negative or a positive depending on your taste. The rolling-hilled campus is sort of an oasis within the built-up corridor. Check out M Circle or the Memorial Chapel, as there always seems like something to do on Baltimore Ave.
12.105
Champaign, Ill. At nearly 150,000 residents, Champaign-Urbana is larger than you'd expect but doesn't have any of the big city problems (like congested traffic). It's located in the middle of nowhere and there isn't much to do. It's really green, though, so it's got that going for it.
13.129
Piscataway, N.J. One tourism website designed to sell the Big Ten cities as destinations didn't mention a single thing about Piscataway in the description. I'm guessing that's for a reason. It's cold and in New Jersey. This town got three last-place votes.
14.135
West Lafayette, Ind. It's one of the smallest towns on this list at under 50,000 residents. There isn't a whole lot to do, both indoors or out other than the Lafayette Brewery and the Wabash River. If you like brick and Greek parties, then this is your place. Otherwise, continue down I-65 to Indy or Chi-town. Purdue's home city got seven last-place votes.

 

Listen to the Cover 2 Podcast: Early 2015 Big Ten Preview



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Teaser:
Expert Poll: Ranking the Big Ten's Football Jobs in 2015
Post date: Monday, April 20, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-pac-12s-football-coaching-jobs-2015-expert-poll
Body:

Is it easier to win at USC or UCLA? How about Oregon, Stanford or Washington?

 

Which program provides the most support? Which program has access to the best players? Which program has proven it can succeed at a high level over time? Which program has the most pressure to win?

 

These are all the questions head coaches must ask themselves when deciding to accept a job or not.

 

So Athlon Sports asked some respected Pac-12 minds one question: Where would you want to coach if the slates (rosters, sanctions, etc.) were wiped clean and all 12 jobs were available?

 

The Voting Panel:

Anthony Herron, ESPN/Pac-12 Network

Jon Solomon, CBSSports

Pat Forde, Yahoo!

Scott Wolf, LA Daily News

Dennis Dodd, CBSSports

Dan Rubenstein, SB Nation

Stewart Mandel, Fox Sports

George Schroeder, USA Today

Ryan Abraham, USCFootball.com

Bryan Fischer, NFL.com

Ralph Russo, AP

Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports/SiriusXM

 

The Results:

 

Voting: A first-place vote was worth one point and a last-place vote was worth 12 points. The points are a great indicator of what tier your program is in within the conference.

 

RkJobVotes (1st)
1.13 (13)
Like Ohio State in the Big Ten and Texas in the Big 12, USC dominated the voting by landing all 13 first-place votes. The money is huge, the location is nearly perfect, the rich recruiting base is unmatched, and the history of success is second to none in the league. With the exception of cost of living and the distracted nature of the L.A. market, this job has no weaknesses.
2.30
Two decades ago, the Ducks would have been ranked behind UCLA and Washington among others. Yet, the big business of sports and the flash of NIKE money have tangibly increased the Ducks' status not only in the Pac-12 but nationally. Eugene boasts the best stadium/fans in the conference and the facilities are some of the most impressive in the nation. In-state recruiting isn't all that fertile but few brands carry as much clout nationally as Oregon. The Ducks scored all but one second-place vote.
3.47
Like Texas A&M or Clemson, there are few excuses for UCLA not to be great. All of the same positives USC enjoys help the Bruins as well. The difference is lack of support and commitment from the administration over time (which is getting better). This has long been a basketball school first. Yet, UCLA has been a sleeping giant for years and Jim Mora may finally be waking the beast. UCLA got six third-place votes and one second-place vote.
4.58
The only home atmosphere out West that rivals Autzen Stadium is Husky Stadium. Some of the league's best fans and one of the nation's most picturesque venues/campuses makes UW an extremely desirable gig. Financial support doesn't seem to be a problem and in-state recruiting is adequate (although, not elite). This program has won a national title in the last 30 years and has all of the needed advantages to return to those heights. The Huskies got four third-place votes.
5.61
Arizona is a quality state for talent and dipping into California is par for the course at ASU. The stadium keeps getting better, the facilities are improving annually and the fans are, uh, gorgeously supportive. Does this program have the same national appeal and clout of those above it? No. But can Arizona State win at a high level consistently in the Pac-12? You bet.
6.76
There are major positives about working in Palo Alto but there are major hurdles as well. The prestige of the job is world renowned and the campus is an easy sell not only to the glut of in-state recruits but also nationally. The facilities are strong as well. However, the fan support won't ever match the bigger programs in the sport and sports aren't always a top priority among the powers that be at Stanford.
7.95
Arizona won't ever be confused as a Pac-12 power but it has done an excellent job of competing over time. The recruiting base is excellent but being able to lure outside prospects to the desert is important for any head coach in Tucson. There isn't any big-time tradition of gridiron success, but the stadium is slowly but surely becoming competitive with the bigger boys in the league. Zona isn't an easy job to peg, which is why it was voted as high as sixth and as low as 10th.
8.105
Cal is the premier public institution in America and is located in a great area to live and recruit. The facilities used to be an issue but have been renovated lately. There is a lot to like about this job but it has struggled to reach the upper tier of the league for the better part of a century. This program has just two Pac-12 titles since 1958 for a reason.
9.114
Going from the Mountain West to the Pac-12 is a tangible move that greatly impacts the national standing of the Utes' program in a positive way. Utah and the surrounding states are underrated for producing talent and the stadium is slowly but surely getting to a point where it can be mentioned as one of the better venues in the league. However, all of these aspects were tops in the Mountain West and are middle of the pack in the Pac-12. It's an uphill battle to get Utah on par with the elite jobs in the Pac-12 South.
10.122
The fall from national championship to 10th in the Pac-12 took less than 30 years for Colorado. Most of that stems from lack of support from the administration. The facilities are in desperate need of upgrading and support for the head coach has been questionable in recent years. That said, if new rounds of upgrades to all of the above were to happen, it could help the Buffs return to relevance. When good, the fans are excellent but tend to be a fickle bunch in a town with loads of other things to do. 
11.140
The stadium has been upgraded but still lags behind the Pac-12's best in terms of intimidation factor and size, while the facilities pale in comparison to their in-state big brother from Eugene. Getting recruits to Corvallis is extremely difficult as well. This job is better since Mike Riley rebuilt it but there is a reason OSU has won one conference title since 1954.
12.153
Everything that applies to Oregon State also applies to Washington State. Except, the Cougars have upgraded facilities but the fan support (when good) isn't as good. Pullman is an extremely difficult place to acquire talent despite some pockets of success over the years.

 

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Teaser:
Ranking the Pac-12's Football Coaching Jobs in 2015 (Expert Poll)
Post date: Friday, April 17, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/alabama-crimson-tide-2015-schedule-and-analysis
Body:

The last two seasons haven't ended the way Nick Saban would like. Two poor showings in the Superdome in New Orleans have left a bad taste in the Crimson Tide's mouth.

 

So as if Alabama needed any extra motivation, this group should be extra focused this fall. The Tide will have one of the best collections of players in the nation and Saban is still the best coach in the land. 

 

That doesn't mean Bama's work isn't cut out for it this fall. With a schedule loaded with ranked opponents, rivalry games and playoff contenders, Saban's bunch will have to earn their way into the postseason.

 

Related: Ranking the SEC's Best Football Jobs in 2015 (Expert Poll)

 

2015 Alabama Crimson Tide Schedule

 

Bye: Week 9

 

WkOpp.DateLocation
1.Sept. 5Arlington, TX*
Non-con Showdown These two powerhouse programs have met just once in history — a 15-0 Badgers victory in Madison way back in 1928. This isn't a vintage UW roster but will still present unique challenges. Look for the epic Big Ten-SEC showdown to go the way of the heavily favored Tide.
2.Sept. 12Tuscaloosa, AL
The home opener will be the third meeting all-time between Middle Tennessee and Alabama. Bama won easily in 2005 in Tuscaloosa and snuck past the Blue Raiders 39-34 back in 2002.
3.Sept. 19Tuscaloosa, AL
Revenge Game Ole Miss heads to Tuscaloosa fully aware of the revenge the Tide will have in mind. The Rebels have lost 12 straight in T-Town dating back to 1988 and had lost 10 straight overall until the 23-17 thriller in Oxford last fall. That said, both teams will be highly ranked (and likely unbeaten) in this early-season clash that will send shockwaves through the West Division by Week 3.
4.Sept. 26Tuscaloosa, AL
Quick, want to win a bar bet? Who owns the edge in the all-time series between Alabama and UL-Monroe? Technically, it's tied at 1-1 but Bama fans will never forget Saban's bizarre loss to the Warhawks at home in 2007 (21-14). The 2006 meeting has been vacated but was a 41-7 Tide victory. Think Saban has forgotten what happened? (My heart goes out to ULM in this one.)
5.Oct. 3Athens, GA
Atlanta Preview? For the first time since 2008, the Crimson Tide will visit Sanford Stadium. Mark Richt is 3-2 against Alabama, but the Tide has won two straight in the series, including one of the most unforgettable SEC title games in recent memory. This could be a preview of the SEC title game that could once again lead to a Playoff berth.
6.Oct. 10Tuscaloosa, AL
Alabama has won eight straight in this series but last year's 14-13 win in Fayetteville is one neither side will ever forget. In fact, before the streak started, Arkansas owned an 8-7 series edge in SEC games. The last time these two met in Tuscaloosa, however, was a 52-0 beatdown. The Hogs should be able to keep it much closer this time around.
7.Oct. 17College Station, TX
Must-See TV This was an obliteration last season when Alabama stepped on Texas A&M's neck 59-0 in an eye-opening win for the Tide. The two previous SEC meetings between Kevin Sumlin and Saban, however, were fantastic battles totaling 144 combined points. Have the Aggies closed the gap enough to compete at home against the mighty Tide?
8.Oct. 24Tuscaloosa, AL
This Saturday in October The historic SEC rivalry has been a series of streaks for decades. Alabama is currently on an eight-game winning streak over Tennessee, including five consecutive blowouts. Bama has won those five by an average of 28.4 points per game. However, this will be the best Vols team the Tide has faced since '09. 
10.Nov. 7Tuscaloosa, AL
Saban-Miles X One of the best rivalry games in college football every year could once again be an instant classic. Bama has won four straight over LSU and Saban is 6-3 in his career against Miles. Of those nine meetings, six were decided by one score or less. This could be an early November elimination game.
11.Nov. 14Starkville, MS
Last fall, No. 1 Mississippi State entered Tuscaloosa and narrowly lost 25-20, eventually launching the Tide into the Playoffs. The roles could easily be reversed this season should the Tide get to this point unbeaten. Saban has won the last three trips to Starkville by a combined score of 75-17 but has experienced defeat in Davis Wade Stadium. The last loss for the Tide in the series came in 2007 on Scott Field in Starkville. 
12.Nov. 21Tuscaloosa, AL
It's about time programs like Alabama (and the rest of the SEC) stop scheduling lower-tier teams in November. Cupcakes in September are perfectly acceptable but this is November 21. It will be ugly and actually could hurt Bama's standing with the selection committee. It's the first meeting between the two programs, if that means anything to anyone.
13.Nov. 28Auburn, AL
Iron Bowl The rivalry of all rivalries usually puts more than just state bragging rights on the line. No one will ever forget what took place on The Plains the last time these two met in Auburn. Bama leads the all-time series 43-35-1. The Tide has won two of the last three at Auburn, but the Tigers are 8-4 all-time against Bama in Jordan-Hare. There is a good chance the SEC West, SEC and a Playoff spot could hang in the balance in this one.

 

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Alabama Crimson Tide 2015 Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Friday, April 17, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/big-ten-2015-football-schedule-analysis
Body:

Never before has scheduling been a bigger issue than the 2014 College Football Playoff.

 

The committee clearly took a stance on Baylor’s weak non-conference matchups and it cost the Bears a chance at the national championship. A perceived lack of quality wins also has long been an issue for Big Ten champions. It hurt Michigan State two years ago and nearly cost Ohio State last fall. With a glut of intriguing non-conference games against top-level Power 5 teams, that shouldn't be an issue this fall — at least, not in the deep East Division.

 

Scheduling is a huge part of Athlon Sports’ process of making predictions as well. Here is what you need to know about the Big Ten’s football schedules in 2015.

 

East’s best game: Michigan State at Ohio State (Nov. 21)

Ohio State snapped Michigan State’s 14-game Big Ten winning streak with a 49-37 victory by hanging 568 yards on Mark Dantonio’s defense. It was revenge for the B1G title game defeat the year prior. An East Division and Big Ten title as well as Rose Bowl or Playoff berths could be hanging in the balance once again when these two meet late in November. This could easily be replaced by Ohio State's visit to Ann Arbor the following week.

 

West’s best game: Wisconsin at Nebraska (Oct. 10)

The dairy-fed Big Red from Madison have put up 129 points on the corn-fed Big Red from Lincoln in their last two meetings. The Badgers have won three of four Big Ten meetings, but the Huskers' lone win came in Lincoln. The Big Ten West will likely be determined in this Big Red battle.

 

Best crossover: Michigan State at Nebraska (Nov. 7)

Wisconsin avoids each of the top four from the East and Nebraska plays just one. Michigan State-Nebraska has been an intense battle in all four conference meetings since the Huskers joined the league, including a wild Taylor Martinez-led rally in East Lansing three years ago. These two are separated by 21 total points over the last three meetings.

 

Other crossovers to watch:

With the balance of power titled heavily towards the East and Ohio State avoiding both Wisconsin and Nebraska, there aren’t a lot of intriguing crossover games. Minnesota at Ohio State could be fun. Maryland at Iowa isn’t terrible. Wisconsin at Maryland is probably the second-most intriguing crossover in a league devoid of quality crossover matchups.

 

East's toughest schedule: Rutgers

Rutgers must face five (possibly six) potential bowl teams from the East Division and gets the top two teams from the West (Nebraska, Wisconsin). It also faces two Power 5 teams in non-conference play (albeit Washington State and Kansas). It seems highly unlikely the Knights will return to the postseason.

 

East’s easiest schedule: Penn State

Penn State has four easy, winnable, non-conference games and gets really lucky in crossover play with Northwestern and Illinois. Yes, PSU must face Michigan State and Ohio State on the road. But, otherwise, the rest of the schedule is manageable in a very difficult division.   

 

West’s toughest schedule: Minnesota

Minnesota could face two potential playoff teams with TCU in the non-conference and Ohio State in crossover. The Gophers also must face Michigan from the East. Add to that slate divisional dates with Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa and Jerry Kill is looking at an uphill battle in the West.

 

West’s easiest schedule: Iowa

Wisconsin and Nebraska have tougher non-conference and crossover schedules. This gives the nod to Iowa as the easiest slate in the division despite having to face both Big Red foes on the road. The Hawkeyes could be favorites to win all four of their non-conference games and all four home Big Ten games.

 

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Top 10 Non-conference games:

 

 AwayHomeDate
1.Sept. 12
2.Sept. 5*
3.Sept. 7
4.Sept. 3
5.Sept. 19
6.Sept. 7
7.Nov. 28
8.Sept. 19
9.Sept. 3*
10.Nov. 7

* - neutral site

Teaser:
2015 Big Ten Football Schedule Analysis
Post date: Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-12s-football-coaching-jobs-2015-expert-poll
Body:

Is it easier to win at Texas or Oklahoma? How about Big 12 newcomers West Virginia and TCU?

 

Which program provides the most support? Which program has access to the best players? Which program has proven it can succeed at a high level over time? Which program has the most pressure to win?

 

These are all the questions head coaches must ask themselves when deciding to accept a job or not.

 

So Athlon Sports asked some respected Big 12 minds one question: Where would you want to coach if the slates (rosters, sanctions, etc.) were wiped clean and all 10 jobs were available?

 

The Voting Panel:

David Ubben, Fox Sports

Ralph Russo, AP

Jon Solomon, CBSSports

Chip Brown, HornsDigest.com

Pat Forde, Yahoo!

Dennis Dodd, CBSSports

Stewart Mandel, Fox Sports

Blair Kerkhoff, KC Star

George Schroeder, USA Today

Chris Level, RedRaiderSports.com

Bryan Fischer, NFL.com

Allen Kenney, BlatantHomerism.com

Tim Fitzgerald, GoPowerCat.com

Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports/SiriusXM

 

The Results:

 

Voting: A first-place vote was worth one point and a last-place vote was worth 10 points. The points are a great indicator of what tier your program is within the conference.

 

RkJobVotes (1st)
1.15 (15)
Texas might be the best job in America as all 15 panelists voted UT as the best job in the Big 12. The resources are second to none in college football as is the in-state talent. Certainly, there is pressure to win but nowhere in the country are there more advantages to national success than Austin — which is also one of the best cities in the country as well.
2.30
Oklahoma got all 15 second-place votes and is largely considered on the same plane as the Longhorns. Being outside of the Lone Star State and in a less vibrant town are the only things that keep OU from the top spot. Facilities and fan support are among the nation's best and history suggests the Sooners rarely fail to compete at a high level. This program has no weaknesses.
3.56
The Pokes were voted the top second-tier program in the Big 12 behind Texas and Oklahoma. Oklahoma State has massive financial resources (one, at least) and recruits north Texas as if it's an in-state territory. The Cowboys got nine of the possible 15 third-place votes and was voted no lower than sixth. There is much to like about this program but it's clearly not on the same operating level as the two big boys in this league.
4.62
By going from the Mountain West to the Big 12 by way of the Big East, few programs in the nation have elevated their stock as much as TCU. There are countless reasons why being in the Big 12 is better (namely, money and clout) and being in the Big 12 has allowed for natural advantages — like in-state recruiting talent, for example — to flourish on a bigger stage. The stadium won't ever be elite or seat 100,000, but there is a lot of upward mobility for the Horned Frogs. TCU got four third-place votes.
5.68
Much like TCU, Baylor has elevated its stock by building a fantastic new stadium and state-of-the-art facilities. These are tangible ways to improve a coaching job long-term and few in the country have seen a bigger boost in the last half-decade than the Bears. And also like TCU, it's allowed Baylor to take advantage of a rich in-state recruiting base better than ever before. Baylor got two third-place votes and five fourth-place nods.
6.92
If Morgantown was located closer to the Big 12 fray, it would probably be the fourth-best job in the league. It has a much longer history of success and much better fan support historically than both Baylor and TCU. However, it's an extreme outpost even within a league full of outposts. The facilities also are in desperate need of upgrading, but the stadium is impossible to play in due in large part to great fans. This is an underrated job — if you can get there. 
7.106
Both Spike Dykes and Mike Leach proved that you can win consistently in Lubbock. But it takes a special breed to be successful out on the West Texas plains. Texas is loaded with athletes but it's tougher to get players to Lubbock than other Lone Star State Big 12 locales. The stadium and fan support continue to grow and have been solidly consistent over the last two decades. Yet, there's a reason Tech has won just two conference titles since 1955 — and one was a 6-6 campaign that featured a five-way tie.
8.114
The last of the "quality" jobs in the Big 12 can be very deceiving. Kansas State is an extremely difficult place to win but Bill Snyder has covered up a lot of warts. In-state recruiting is highly questionable unless you are targeting JUCOs. The campus isn't bad and the stadium isn't small but it hardly compares to the bigger venues in college football. The facilities are solid as well but not elite. No coach since Pappy Waldorf has posted a winning record at KSU — except Snyder. And many of those tenures were extremely ugly.
9t.141
Of course Iowa State and Kansas tied for the worst job in the Big 12. Iowa State has better fan support and a better home atmosphere and comparable facilities. However, Lawrence is easier to recruit to and might be slightly easier to win at — both Glen Mason and Mark Mangino were competitive. The Cyclones got six 10th-place votes while the Jayhawks got nine. However, Kansas got a seventh- and eighth-place vote (the best for either school), which made up the difference and led to a dead heat in voting.
9t.141
SEE: Iowa State.

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Teaser:
Ranking the Big 12's Football Coaching Jobs in 2015 (Expert Poll)
Post date: Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/ranking-accs-football-coaching-jobs-2015-expert-poll
Body:

Is it easier to win at Florida State or Clemson? How about North Carolina or Miami?

 

Which program provides the most support? Which program has access to the best players? Which program has proven it can succeed at a high level over time? Which program has the most pressure to win?

 

These are all the questions head coaches must ask themselves when deciding to accept a job or not.

 

So Athlon Sports asked some respected ACC minds one question: Where would you want to coach if the slates (rosters, sanctions, etc.) were wiped clean and all 14 jobs were available?

 

The Voting Panel:

 

Wes Durham, FOX Sports/ACC Network

Mark Packer, SiriusXM College Sports Nation

Tony Barnhart, AJC/SEC Network

Chris Low, ESPN.com

Bob Ferrante, TheOsceola.com

Ralph Russo, AP

Bud Elliott, TomahawkNation.com

Joe Lanza, TheKeyPlay.com

Paul Myerberg, USA Today

Mark Ennis, ESPN 680-Louisville

David Glenn, The David Glenn Show

David Hood, Tigernet.com

Jerry DiPaola, Pitt Trib Review

Nate Mink, Syracuse.com

Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports/SiriusXM

The Results:

 

Voting: A first-place vote was worth one point and a last-place vote was worth 14 points. The points are a great indicator of what tier your program is in within the conference.

 

RkJobVotes (1st)
1.17 (15)
Ever since joining the ACC, Florida State has been the league's most dominant program. The Noles have a great recruiting base, rich history of elite success, a powerful national brand and one of the better gameday atmospheres in the league. The facilities are getting better and the only drawback is slight financial instability in the athletic department. There are very few cons in Tallahassee and it's why FSU got 15 of the possible 16 first-place votes.
2.37
The more you study Clemson the more you wonder how it went 20 years without a conference crown. Death Valley is the best place to play (or live) in the ACC and the support from both administration and fans is second-to-none in the league. It's also centrally located between the fertile recruiting grounds of Florida, Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina. The Tigers got 14 of the possible 16 second-place votes.
3.66
Frank Beamer has slowly but surely elevated this program from regional afterthought to ACC powerhouse by way of the Big East. The facilities are great and Lane Stadium is a sight to behold on Saturdays. The campus is gorgeous but isolated and Virginia is stocked with talent but is over-recruited by both the ACC and SEC. The Hokies were ranked third, fourth or fifth by all but one voter. It's not an elite job but it's stable and safe.
4.70 (1)
Miami is an interesting case study in pros and cons. On the positive side, the Hurricanes offer as much upside as any program in the nation, winning national titles in three different decades and have the easiest access to elite prospects of any program in the nation. But fan and administrative support is inferior to any nationally elite programs and the home-field advantage is non-existent. This is why The U was the only other team to get a first-place vote — and was voted ninth twice.
5.78
One of the quicker risers in college football (due in large part to the accomplishments of Tom Jurich) checks in as a top-five ACC job after just one season. Facilities continue to surge upwards towards big-time college football but are not on an elite level quite yet. The same could be said about the recruiting base — it's solid, but Louisville must look outside the region to build a roster. There is a lot to like about the Cardinals' post but it still has some work to do to be a nationally revered gig.
6.94
Now that Clemson has reestablished itself as an ACC power, the mantle of underachiever falls to Chapel Hill. As far as location, recruiting base, stadium, facilities and brand power, UNC is on par with most conference foes. However, the fans can be fickle (and obsessed with the round ball) and there is little track record of high-level success. This is a program that should be winning 8-9 games every season with the many advantages it boasts. Yet, it hasn't won an ACC crown since 1980. This job has more to offer than, say, Louisville, but hasn't been able to prove it on the field.
7.115
There are certain obstacles one must clear to win at Tech. First, the city of Atlanta is a poor sports town and produces less talent than one might assume in a market dominated by its SEC brethren from Athens. Academic standards can also hinder success. But this program has consistently been competitive despite some more interesting hires. 
8.129
Boasting the most underrated gameday atmosphere in the ACC, NC State is one of the better second-tier programs in the league. The recruiting base is rich and the facilities are among the league's best. But this program seems mired in the middle of the league, last winning a title in 1979 and posting just six winning seasons in ACC play since 1990. The Wolfpack were voted as high as sixth (three times) and as low as 11th.
9.139
Since Florida State joined, no program has watched its stock slip more than Virginia. The once-proud program has a fertile recruiting base to cull, a gorgeous campus and stadium with passionate fans. But this program has struggled to deliver, as it's won just two ACC titles in its 57-year league history. The strict academic standards likely have kept this program from vaulting into regionally elite status.
10.153
The last of the quality jobs in the ACC, Pitt offers some unique points to this discussion. The Panthers play in a posh building in a football-crazy town but will always be second fiddle to the Black and Gold. The Keystone State was once extremely productive when it comes to football talent but has seen population trends shift South, West and East. It is the lone rust-belt program geographically, so while there are unique advantages there are also unique disadvantages as well. Moving up to the ACC is a big positive but the glory days of Dan Marino, Hugh Green and Tony Dorsett are long gone.
11.178
Don't let the job David Cutcliffe has done fool you, winning at Duke is nearly impossible. At best, it's the third-best job in the state in an area that is focused on hoops and has academic restraints. The fan support and overall interest just isn't there — from fans or boosters. How else could a team win a division title and only average 26,000 fans?
12.184
There are many hurdles to clear to win at BC. There isn't enough talent in the Northeast to keep BC competitive with the Florida State's of the world and luring players North from down South is easier said than done. Facilities and fan support aren't among the league's best either. However, there is something to be said about the consistency this program has experienced in the past — which is why three voters had the Eagles at ninth.
13.198
Just 15 years ago, this ranking would be absurd. This once-proud program was a national power with elite facilities, fan support and brand recognition. Yet, as population trends continue to move away from the Northeast and Cuse's once state-of-the-art stadium becomes more outdated, winning has gotten more difficult. And the fans aren't coming out like they used too. It's impossible to recruit to upstate New York and the move to the ACC hasn't opened up a Southern pipeline like anticipated. Finally, Syracuse administration clearly are more committed to basketball.
14.220
There just is nothing that sets Wake Forest apart from anyone else in the ACC. It's not the top program in the state — it's third at best. It's not the best academic school in the ACC. The facilities are solid but uninspiring. Fan support is extremely questionable on most Saturdays. Winston-Salem is a nice play to live, but otherwise there is little upside here. The Demon Deacons have posted three winning seasons in a row only once (2006-08) since the early 1950s and have won just one ACC title since 1970.

 

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Ranking the ACC's Football Coaching Jobs in 2015 (Expert Poll)
Post date: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - 10:00
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Body:

Is it easier to win at Alabama or LSU? Georgia or Florida?

 

Which program provides the most support? Which program has access to the best players? Which program has proven it can succeed at a high level over time? Which program has the most pressure to win?

 

These are all the questions head coaches must ask themselves when deciding to accept a job or not.

 

So Athlon Sports asked some respected SEC minds one question: Where would you want to coach if the slates (rosters, sanctions, etc.) were wiped clean and all 14 jobs were available?

 

The Voting Panel:

 

Tim Brando, FOX Sports

Dari Nowkhah, SEC Network

Tony Barnhart, AJC/SEC Net

Greg McElroy, SiriusXM/SEC Net

Zac Ellis, Sports Illustrated

Chris Low, ESPN

Steven Godfrey, SB Nation

Wes Rucker, 247Sports

Dan Wolken, USA Today

Laura Rutledge, SEC Network

Chad Withrow, 104.5 The Zone-Nashville

Kayce Smith, ESPN/SEC Net

Seth Emerson, Macon Telegraph

Barrett Sallee, Bleacher Report

Josh Ward, WNML-Knoxville

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports/SiriusXM

 

The Results:

 

Voting: A first-place vote was worth one point and a last-place vote was worth 14 points.

 

RkJobVotes (First-place)Avg.
1.48 (6)3.0
It's hard to argue with the success, support, stability and upside of Alabama. The Tide boasts arguably the most rabid fanbase in the nation (which also might be the only negative), massive financial advantages and sits in the heart of fertile recruiting territory. There is a reason Bama has won 24 SEC titles. With six first-place votes, Bama was voted the best job in the SEC. 
2.52 (6)3.25
Located in the richest recruiting lands in the nation, Florida has more built-in advantages than almost every other program in college football. The facilities might need some work but this program has a rich history of success, one of the best home venues in the land and a fanbase that is as intense as any in the country. There are no excuses not to be good at Florida and it's why the Gators tied Bama with six first-place votes in our poll. 
3.53 (1)3.31
The Peach State is clearly the No. 4 state in the nation for producing talent while Florida, Virginia, Alabama and the Carolinas aren't long trips from campus. Sanford Stadium is an elite home building, the facilities are fantastic and the fans are crazy about their Dawgs. Living in one of the best college towns in the nation doesn't hurt either. Georgia was voted no lower than sixth by anyone. 
4.54 (1)3.38
There is very little difference between Georgia and LSU and the voting proved that out. LSU is located in a rich recruiting landscape with Texas next door and Tiger Stadium provides what many believe is the best home atmosphere in the nation (in big games). If food is your thing, there are few better places in the US to live than Baton Rouge. Like UGA, LSU was voted no lower than sixth by anyone and both tied for the lead with four second-place votes. 
5.76 (1)4.8
The recruiting base is second to none. The facilities and stadium are among the nation's best because the Aggies' athletic department is as powerful (and rich) as any program in college football. This program has largely underachieved for long stretches as it hasn't competed for national titles like the other programs high on this list but that could all be changing now that it's in the SEC. College Station isn't exactly a destination location either. 
6.996.2
Despite being No. 2 in the state, Auburn has proven it can win at an elite level over a long period of time. The town is sleepy and extremely small but the fans are rabid and the support is enviable. The facilities have been upgraded and are on par with most of the nation's best while Jordan-Hare is downright intimidating on Saturdays. 
7.1036.4
The Vols have long battled an issue with in-state recruiting but that is beginning to improve slowly but surely. The facilities, stadium and fan support are as good as Florida's or Alabama's and the history of winning dates back for decades. Knoxville is a blossoming town just outside some of this country's most beautiful outdoor locations as well. You can win a national title at Tennessee. 
8.134 (1)8.4
South Carolina has little to no history of success but has shown it has the makings of a powerful program. The fan support has always been excellent despite traditionally bad football teams. The stadium is one of the best in the nation, the athletic department has proven it wants to provide the necessary support financially and the recruiting base is fertile. However, the complete lack of high-level winning keeps this job from being elite. The Gamecocks were the most polarizing program in this poll, getting one first-place vote, a third-place vote and five votes of 10th or worse. 
9.1428.88
Maybe underrated nationally, Arkansas has all the pieces of an elite program. It's got fantastic fan support (albeit divided geographically, at times) and an extremely underrated home stadium. It's got a history of national success — before arriving in the SEC. It's the biggest sports brand in the state. Arkansas lacks elite-level, in-state talent, but dipping into Texas has long been a tradition for Hogs coaches. However, ranking fifth in the division makes winning on a national scale a major challenge. 
10.1438.94
There are plenty of challenges to winning big at Ole Miss. The stadium, while solid, lacks the size and stature of the big dogs in the SEC. The state of Mississippi produces some elite-level recruits but still has a very small population base to pull from. Facilities have been upgraded of late but there is a reason Ole Miss hasn't been a real factor in the SEC since the 1960s. Hugh Freeze might be changing all of that, however. 
11.17010.6
Mizzou is a tough place to win big, which makes the job Gary Pinkel has done even more amazing. There is some solid in-state talent but not as good as most in the SEC. The stadium and fans are solid but not as good as most in the SEC. The history of success and winning is solid but not nearly as good as most in the SEC. There is a lot to like about this job but there is nothing elite about it — although, Columbia is a very underrated place to be. 
12.18611.6
It is the hardest job in the hardest division in football. Starkville isn't exactly a destination locale either. But the facilities have been upgraded and the stadium keeps getting bigger. The state produces its share of talent but is constantly being picked over by bigger programs (Bama, LSU, etc.). There is a reason no head coach has left Starkville with a winning SEC record since 1953. 
13.20012.5
Obviously, it is hard to win at Kentucky but there is a lot to appreciate about this gig. First, the pressure to win is lower here than almost everywhere else in the league. Second, Commonwealth Stadium can be a great place to coach when things are going well. Lastly, it can recruit homegrown prospects and the state of Ohio better than any other SEC program. If you don't mind battling up hill in the East and playing second fiddle to whoever is the basketball coach, Lexington can be a solid place to coach. 
14.22013.8
The only program of its kind in the SEC. Vanderbilt is the only academic-focused institution in the conference and it has the worst fan support because of it. There is no track record of success for a reason. That said, Vandy has proven it can pay coaches well and Nashville is one of the best cities in the country. And let's face it, the pressure to win isn't on par with any of the other SEC jobs. All but three of the 16 votes placed the Dores 14th. 

 

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Teaser:
Expert Poll: Ranking the SEC's Football Jobs in 2015
Post date: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/expert-poll-ranking-big-tens-football-jobs-2015
Body:

Is it easier to win at Ohio State or Michigan? Wisconsin or Nebraska?

 

Which program provides the most support? Which program has access to the best players? Which program has proven it can succeed at a high level over time? Which program has the most pressure to win?

 

These are all the questions head coaches must ask themselves when deciding to accept a job or not.

 

So Athlon Sports asked some respected Big Ten minds one question: Where would you want to coach if the slates (rosters, sanctions, etc.) were wiped clean and all 14 jobs were available?

 

The Voting Panel:

 

Gerry DiNardo, Big Ten Network

Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune

Adam Rittenberg, ESPN

Dave Revsine, Big Ten Network

Kevin McGuire, College Football Talk

Sean Callahan, HuskerOnline.com

Tom Dienhart, Big Ten Network

Herb Gould, Chicago Sun-Times

Brent Yarina, Big Ten Network

Kevin Noon, BuckeyeGrove.com

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports/SiriusXM

 

The Results:

 

Voting: A first place vote was worth one point and a last place vote was worth 14 points.

 

RkJobVotes
1.11 (11)
Ohio State landed all 11 first place votes. Huge money, huge fan support and a huge track record of winning. There is only one B1G team that's played in the national title game since 1997.
2.24
Michigan got nine of the 11 second-place votes as clearly the No. 2 job in the Big Ten. The stadium has been updated and history has proven you can win big. The Wolverines are the only other B1G team to win a national title since the 60s.
3.35
Despite the recent scandal, Penn State still offers huge upside and a chance to win a national championship and arguably the best stadium/fan support in the league. A drop in talent in the state has hurt the program slightly, but with two second-place votes, PSU is clearly a top tier job in the league.
4.53
The second tier in the Big Ten is Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan State. The Badgers have some issues with admissions and facilities but those things are being addressed. A gorgeous campus, stadium and elite fan support has elevated this job into national prominence. However, coaches have left for a reason and the instate talent isn't overwhelming.
5.55
The Huskers stock has dropped nationally but Lincoln is still a great place to coach. Unbelievable facilities and fan support make winning here easier than most places. However, the pressure to win no longer matches the current difficulties this program faces in recruiting.
6.56
This program has elevated it's stock in the last ten years by proving it can sustain high-level success. Nothing about this program is elite but there are no weaknesses — other than being located in an area that is producing less talent than ever before.
7t.86
The Terps tied with Iowa as the clear middle-tier jobs in the Big Ten. Maryland has a rich recruiting base and the support of an apparel company backing them up every step of the way. The stadium, fan support and history isn't as rich as Iowa's but is solid nevertheless.
7t.86
The fan support is there. The stadium is electric. And there is some history of success in Iowa City. However, there isn't a lot of talent in-state or in the region and expansion has dropped Iowa a few spots down the B1G hierarchy.
9.108
The Fighing Illini have seen better days. There is rich pockets of success and the state has some talent, however, the support from fans and administration is lacking compared to the Big Ten big boys. There is a reason Illinois has two outright league titles since the early 1960s.
10.111
The Gophers have a brand new stadium and a beautiful downtown setting. However, it's hard to get recruits to The Twin Cities and the program won't ever be confused with the bigger, more powerful jobs in the B1G. It's a tough sell.
11.120
The recruiting base is solid and it's the top progam in one of the country's biggest cities. However, the academic school won't ever provide the Saturday atmosphere like a Penn State or Ohio State. It takes a special coach with special ties to stick it out longterm in Evanston.
12.121
Possibly the most underrated program on this list, many have believed for a long time that Rutgers has plenty of upward mobility. Greg Schiano proved that by building through the rich instate recruiting base. There is zero tradition and the athletic department has seen better days.
13.140
Few programs in the nation appear to have as few advantages as Purdue. The facilities aren't special, the talent base is lacking, West Fafayette isn't exactly a destination and there are only one real pocket of success (Joe Tiller).
14.149
The Hoosiers have started to invest more in football of late but this will always be a basketball-first program. There isn't a large pool of talent to cull and Indiana is the third-best football program in the state. There is a reason winning here is so hard.

 

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Teaser:
Expert Poll: Ranking the Big Ten's Football Jobs in 2015
Post date: Monday, April 13, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Ole Miss Rebels, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/ole-miss-rebels-2015-football-schedule-and-analysis
Body:

There is some serious excitement in Oxford entering 2015. And for good reason.

 

Hugh Freeze has built this Rebels roster to a point where it can compete against the best in the country. It’s in better shape than it’s been in decades.

 

There are still question marks at key positions but the schedule in the SEC West might be the biggest obstacle for Freeze and Ole Miss’ first-ever SEC Championship Game appearance.

 

Related: Cover 2 College Football Podcast: Early SEC 2015 Preview

 

2015 Ole Miss Schedule

 

Bye: Week 11

 

WkOpp.DateLocation
1.Sept. 5Oxford, MS
This will be a prototypical, season-opening warm-up. Ole Miss has never faced UT-Martin and the Skyhawks should present little opposition.
2.Sept. 12Oxford, MS
These two will meet on the field for the third time in their respective histories, and all of these matchups occurring since 2010. Ole Miss won both previous meetings. The teams combined for 159 points in two games.
3.Sept. 19Tuscaloosa, AL
Revenge Game Ole Miss heads to Tuscaloosa fully aware of the revenge the Tide will have on mind. Ole Miss has lost 12 straight in T-Town dating back to 1988 and had lost 10 straight overall until the 23-17 thriller in Oxford last fall. 
4.Sept. 26Oxford, MS
After losing three straight to the Dores from 2010-12, Ole Miss has won two in a row. This included a 41-3 drubbing last fall in Nashville. Strangely enough, Vanderbilt has won three straight in Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium.
5.Oct. 3Gainesville, FL
Prove-It Swing Game Crossover play is always huge in SEC play and heading into The Swamp on Oct. 3 is a huge prove-it moment for Ole Miss. The Rebels own a 12-10-1 all-time record against Florida and fans will never forget the win over Tim Tebow and company in Gainesville in 2008 — which also was the last meeting between the two programs. In fact, Ole Miss has won two straight at Florida and three of the last four overall
6.Oct. 10Oxford, MS
This marks the first-ever meeting between the Aggies of New Mexico State and Ole Miss. That's all. Nothing else to see here, move on.
7.Oct. 17Memphis, TN
Until a late push in the fourth quarter, Memphis went toe-to-toe with Ole Miss in Oxford last season. This is a quality AAC program that sits just 85 miles from Ole Miss' campus. These two have met 60 times with the Rebels holding a 48-10-2 edge.
8.Oct. 24Oxford, MS
Must-Win Situation Ole Miss was extremely impressive in College Station last year in the 35-20 win. It was the Rebels' first victory over the Aggies in seven all-time meetings. Texas A&M has won both SEC matchups in Oxford. This game starts a streak of five huge SEC West games.
9.Oct. 31Auburn, AL
Elimination Game One of the most painful losses in the history of the program a year ago could be one of the most important games in the nation this season. Auburn leads the series all-time 29-10, and has won nine of the last 11. The last win for Ole Miss on The Plains came in 2003. 
10.Nov. 7Oxford, MS
Houston Nutt Bowl This time the revenge factor plays in Ole Miss' favor after getting crushed by Arkansas a year ago. This has been an extremely even series over the years despite the 30-0 score from last fall. The Hogs lead the series 32-28-1 and the two have split the last six meetings in Oxford.
12.Nov. 21Oxford, MS
Rivalry Game The bye week comes at a huge time for Ole Miss, as the Rebels head into back-to-back rivalry games to end the year. The Rebels should have beaten LSU in Baton Rouge a year ago and will be looking for revenge this time around in Oxford. These two have split the last six meetings.
13.Nov. 28Starkville, MS
Egg Bowl Dan Mullen has been solid against Ole Miss but the Rebels have won two of the last three. The last four have gone the way of the home team so Ole Miss is looking to buck that trend in '15. The fate of the SEC West could be hanging in the balance in Dak Prescott's final regular season game.

 

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Teaser:
Ole Miss Rebels 2015 Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Friday, April 10, 2015 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/georgia-bulldogs-2015-football-schedule-and-analysis
Body:

Georgia and Mark Richt will once again be the front-runner to win the SEC East.

 

He’s got an elite roster that fits his offensive style and a defense that finally appears poised to be one of the nation’s best.

 

However, part of why Georgia hasn’t won an SEC title since 2005 is because of how difficult the schedules are in the best league in America. For the Dawgs, with both Auburn and Alabama on the slate, 2015 won't be any different.

 

Related: 2015 Georgia Spring Football Preview

 

2015 Georgia Bulldogs Schedule

 

Bye: Week 8

 

WkOpp.DateLocation
1.Sept. 5Athens, GA
For the first time in a while, the Bulldogs will open with a traditionally easy opponent. Georgia has played ULM three times and all three were blowouts in Athens. The combined score? 156-16.
2.Sept. 12Nashville, TN
Georgia has won 18 of the last 20 meetings between these East Division foes, including a 44-17 blowout last fall. However, Richt will be looking for revenge after what took place in the UGA's last trip to Nashville — which ended painfully in a 31-27 loss to the Dores.
3.Sept. 19Athens, GA
Pure Entertainment From an entertainment factor, few SEC east rivals put on a show better than these two. With the exception of one-sided wins in 2012 and '03, this has been a close game every season since Richt took over. South Carolina has won four of the last five overall and is 2-2 in its last four trips to Athens.
4.Sept. 26Gainesville, FL
No, this isn't Georgia Southern, Southern Miss, Southern California or Southern Methodist. It's just Southern. The Jaguars have never faced Georgia and likely won't appreciate the final score.
5.Oct. 3Athens, GA
SEC Title Preview? For the first time since 2008, the Crimson Tide will visit Sanford Stadium. Richt is 3-2 against Alabama but Bama has won two straight in the series, including one of the most unforgettable SEC title games in recent memory (2012). This could be a preview of the SEC title game that could once again lead to a Playoff berth.
6.Oct. 10Knoxville, TN
East Rivalry As should be the case with a historic rivalry that dates back to the 1899, the Vols and Dawgs are tied all-time 21-21-2. This game has featured some serious dramatics, as both sides remember what happened at the end of the epic overtime thriller in Knoxville two years ago.
7.Oct. 17Athens, GA
What is quickly developing into a quality SEC East rivalry, Mizzou and Georgia have watched the road team win all three conference meetings. The Tigers won 41-26 en route to an SEC East title the last time they visited Athens, but Georgia repaid the favor in style 34-0 last season in Columbia.
9.Oct. 31Jacksonville, FL
Cocktail Party In what could be considered Will Muschamp's last stand, the Gators inexplicably dominated the Dawgs 38-20 last fall. These two rivals are 4-4 in their last eight, as UGA owns the all-time series record 49-41-2 — which, of course, is debated by both sides. This could be a de facto SEC East title game.
10.Nov. 7Athens, GA
Georgia has won 16 of the last 18 and has won five straight in the series. Kentucky is improving but hasn't been able to stop Georgia's offense in any capacity of late, allowing 42.8 points per contest during the five-game losing streak.
11.Nov. 14Auburn, AL
Deep South's Oldest Rivalry An epic and often entertaining rivalry that started way back in 1892 is tied at 55-55-8 all-time. Both teams are eyeing an SEC title and possible Playoff berth so this game should carry even more importance than usual — which is normally a lot.
12.Nov. 21Athens, GA
Georgia Southern isn't your average November cupcake. The Eagles proved they belonged in the FBS ranks by winning the Sun Belt in their first season last year, they run a brutal option offense to stop and feature a roster full of kids who likely grew up wanting to play for Georgia. This is trickier than fans imagine.
13.Nov. 28Atlanta, GA
Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate The only good thing about facing Georgia Southern's triple option is that it will help prepare the Dawgs for the Yellow Jackets. Tech snapped a five-game losing streak by topping Georgia 30-24 in Athens last year. Richt will be out for revenge in a game that could possibly hold Playoff implications for both teams. UGA leads the series 64-40-5.

 

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Teaser:
Georgia Bulldogs 2015 Football Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Friday, April 10, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/conference-championship-game-doesnt-solve-big-12s-problem
Body:

It appears that a rule forcing a college football conference to have at least 12 teams and two divisions to hold a championship game will be nullified by 2016.

 

Fans across the Big 12 are ecstatic.

 

But the Big 12 didn’t get left out of the College Football Playoff because it didn’t play a conference championship game.

 

Baylor got left out because the Playoff Committee thought — rightly so, as it turns out — that Ohio State was the better team. (A horrendous non-conference schedule didn’t help the Bears’ case.)

 

Fans want to believe that all it would’ve taken to get Baylor into the Playoff was a Big 12 title game.

 

But what if Baylor had lost?

 

Then a Big 12 Championship Game would have actually hurt the Big 12.

 

There is some preconceived notion that adding a championship game would automatically help the Big 12. History shows us that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

 

Related: 2015 Big 12 Schedule Analysis

 

In fact, SEC commissioner Roy Kramer came under heavy scrutiny in 1992 when he implemented college football’s first conference title game in the SEC. Had Alabama’s Antonio Langham not intercepted a Shane Matthews pass and returned it 27 yards for a game-winning touchdown, Kramer would have been destroyed by fans and media for costing his conference and the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide a chance at the national championship.

 

Big 12 fans should know all about this heartbreak.

 

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In 1996, Nebraska was poised to play for a national championship after an unbeaten Big 12 season. But a historic fourth-down conversion from Texas in the Big 12’s first-ever title game dropped the Huskers from national championship contention.

 

Again in 1998, Kansas State was going to play in the first-ever BCS Championship Game after No. 2 UCLA lost to Miami. Yet, the unbeaten Wildcats lost in double overtime to Texas A&M, relegating Bill Snyder’s bunch to the Alamo Bowl.

 

Texas was headed to the 2001 national championship game because No. 2 Tennessee lost to LSU in the SEC title game. But the Horns couldn’t finish the deal, losing 39-37 to Colorado in the Big 12 title game. The Longhorns lost a shot at the national title because of the Big 12 title game.

 

And the most painful example, the 2007 Missouri Tigers. Gary Pinkel’s bunch entered the Big 12 title game ranked No. 1 in the nation with a clear path to the BCS title game. But the Sooners smoked the Tigers 38-17 and the Big 12 watched a two-loss LSU team win the BCS title.

 

It isn’t just the Big 12 that has been hurt either. Had Ohio State beat Michigan State in the 2013 Big Ten title game, the undefeated Buckeyes would have played Florida State in the final BCS title game. But alas, Connor Cook happened.

 

Just like the Longhorns in 2001, the Tennessee Vols were a victim of the same crime that same year. As was Georgia in ‘12, Florida in ‘09 and Alabama in ’08 — all teams poised to play in the BCS title game had they not lost in a conference title game.

 

Does a championship game make boatloads of revenue? Does it create a fanatical season-finale atmosphere? Is it must-see TV? Can a title game give a team one extra huge win for its resume? Check, check, check and check.

 

Does a championship game give your favorite conference a better chance at making the College Football Playoff?

 

The answer is pretty clearly no... not every year.

Teaser:
Conference Championship Game Doesn't Solve Big 12's Problem
Post date: Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 13:30
Path: /college-football/north-carolina-tar-heels-2015-schedule-and-analysis
Body:

Larry Fedora is entering a critical season in Chapel Hill.

 

The Tar Heels are 13-11 in ACC play in three seasons with him at the helm and it’s a big reason why he made a big switch on defense. Gene Chizik is now running the unit in an effort to produce the same way the defense has under Fedora.

 

The bad news is the schedule isn’t easy and the defense needs fixing. The good news is nine of UNC’s 12 tilts will come inside the state and the Tar Heels have one of the more talented rosters in the ACC.

 

Related: Cover 2 College Football Podcast: 2015 ACC Preview

 

2015 North Carolina Schedule

 

Bye: Week 6; * - Thurs. 

 

WkOpp.DateLocation
1.Sept. 3*Charlotte, NC
SEC-ACC These two haven't played often since 1991 (twice) but there is plenty of history to keep this rivalry going. South Carolina has won both meetings since the Cocks joined the SEC but North Carolina holds a 34-18-4 advantage all-time.
2.Sept. 12Chapel Hill, NC
North Carolina A&T has never faced its big brother from Chapel Hill so energy levels should be running high for the Aggies in Week 2. Don't expect a close score, however.
3.Sept. 19Chapel Hill, NC
This marks just the third meeting ever between the Big Ten and ACC programs. The Heels won both previous get-togethers in 1971 and '87. Watch for Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt to test that reworked UNC defense.
4.Sept. 26Chapel Hill, NC
Joe Flacco isn't walking through that door anytime soon for Delaware. The quality FCS program would need a Flacco-esque performance to go into Chapel Hill to win.
5.Oct. 3Atlanta, GA
Elimination Game Tech won the division last year and might be the front-runner again this fall. But it's North Carolina that won the showdown last year (48-43), snapping a five-game losing streak to the Jackets. The winner takes control of the Coastal Division.
7.Oct. 17Chapel Hill, NC
This has been a back-and-forth affair in the ACC over the last decade. The Deacons pulled off the upset in 2012, winning 28-27 in Winston-Salem. In fact, Wake Forest has won three out of four and five out of eight against the fellow triangle program. Watch out for revenge from UNC this fall.
8.Oct. 24Chapel Hill, NC
One of the longest played series in the nation has gone the way of the Heels of late. North Carolina has won five straight (relatively easily) in a series that has featured 119 games. Virginia was closer last year (28-27) than it had been since its last win in 2009.
9.Oct. 31Pittsburgh, PA
The heart of the Tar Heels '15 schedule begins with a road trip to The Keystone State. This has been a wild series in the ACC befitting a Halloween date. The Heels have won both game by one score.
10.Nov. 7Chapel Hill, NC
Rivalry Game I Duke-Carolina is special no matter the sport. But with Duke's recent success on the football field, this gridiron battle has been elevated significantly. The Heels snapped a two-game losing streak to Duke with a convincing 45-20 win in Durham last season.
11.Nov. 14Chapel Hill, NC
Elimination Game II This game constantly seems to deliver since the duo landed in the same division. The series is 6-5 Miami in 11 ACC meetings with six games decided by one score. The Hurricanes crushed the Heels 47-20 a year ago and North Carolina will look for revenge at home this fall.
12.Nov. 21Blacksburg, VA
North Carolina has beaten Tech just twice in 11 tries since the Hokies joined the ACC — and one of those (2009) has been vacated. Frank Beamer has owned this series, including double-digit wins in each of the last two seasons.
13.Nov. 28Raleigh, NC
Rivalry Game II Dave Doeren made his presence felt last year by putting a whipping on rival North Carolina 35-7. Fedora had won his first two meetings in the rivalry. The Pack has won seven of the last nine meetings.

 

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Teaser:
North Carolina Tar Heels 2015 Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/florida-state-seminoles-2015-schedule-and-analysis
Body:

Florida State still might be the top dog in the ACC.

 

The Seminoles clearly boast the most talented roster in the conference and have a proven leader in head coach Jimbo Fisher. 

 

But this league is getting better around FSU and there are more concerns with the Noles’ depth chart than fans in Tallahassee have seen in years.

 

Needless to say, there are plenty of speed bumps this team will need to navigate if it wants to win a fourth consecutive ACC title.

 

Related: Cover 2 College Football Podcast: Early 2015 ACC Preview

 

2015 Florida State Schedule

 

Bye: Week 4, * - Fri.

 

WkOpp.DateLocation
1.Sept. 5Tallahassee, FL
The season opener features a quickly improving program under Dennis Franchione in the Sun Belt that has never faced Florida State. The Bobcats aren't ready to compete with FSU but this is way more interesting than, say, Savannah State.
2.Sept. 12Tallahassee, FL
These two in-state rivals have met only twice in history, splitting meetings in 2009 and '12. The Bulls sparked their eight-win season with a 17-7 win in Tallahassee in '09 while Fisher cruised to an easy win in Tampa four years later. Willie Taggart has improved USF in two seasons but the Bulls will be a heavy underdog in Doak Campbell.
3.Sept. 18*Chestnut Hill, MA
Florida State has won five straight in the series but the last time these two teams met in Massachusetts, BC nearly pulled the upset over the eventual national champ. Steve Addazio has done well with the Eagles but this Friday night tilt could be one-sided as Boston College enters the year in rebuilding mode.
5.Oct. 3Winston-Salem, NC
Long gone are the days when Wake Forest won three in a row over the Noles. While the Deacons topped FSU in 2011, the Noles have pulverized little Wake Forest ever since. Florida State has won by a combined score of 154-6 in the last three meetings. Expect more of the same.
6.Oct. 10Tallahassee, FL
Rivalry Game I Florida State was won five straight in this series as well, but this rivalry has been much closer than Wake Forest. This was a four-point game last year and Miami has played well in Doak Campbell over the years. Since 2000, Miami is 4-3 in Tallahassee, including a close, four-point loss in 2011.
7.Oct. 17Tallahassee, FL
Florida State is 13-2 all-time against Louisville and this year the rebuilding birds must come to the panhandle. However, they've only played once since Louisville topped the Noles in 2002 — an epic 42-31 road win for FSU last year.
8.Oct. 24Atlanta, GA
ACC Title Preview? A potential rematch of last year's title game could also be a preview of this year's title match. The triple option is always tough to stop and Tech returns most of its offense. This is the first regular season meeting between the two since Tech won in 2008-09. Those are the only two wins for Georgia Tech in the series in 16 tries since 1975.
9.Oct. 31Tallahassee, FL
Syracuse beat FSU 37-21 in 1966. Florida State has won every meeting since (7-0), including a 97-23 combined score in two ACC games. The Orange are potentially the worst team in the Atlantic Division and the Noles could use a breather before heading to Clemson the next week.
10.Nov. 7Clemson, SC
Atlantic Division Championship Clemson has been the top team in the Atlantic Division not named Florida State for quite some time now. The Tigers were one fumble away from winning in Doak Campbell last year and get the Noles at home in '15. That said, the last time these two met in Death Valley, Florida State rolled to a 51-14 win. These two have split the last 12 meetings.
11.Nov. 14Tallahassee, FL
This rivalry has been sneaky good... in Raleigh. This year's bout comes in Tallahassee, however, where FSU has been excellent against NC State. The Noles have won four straight over the Pack at home by a combined score of 155-69. NC State is getting better but isn't ready to knock off the big dog on the road.
12.Nov. 21Tallahassee, FL
Talk about an SEC-style warm-up. Chattanooga is nothing more than a tune-up and breather between a tough final month and a trip to The Swamp.
13.Nov. 28Gainesville, FL
Rivalry Game II Fisher has won four of his five meetings with Florida — which snapped a six-game losing streak under the previous regime. Interestingly enough, this game has been much closer in Tallahassee. Fisher is 2-0 in Gainesville with wins by 24 points ('10) and 30 points ('13).

 

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Teaser:
Florida State Seminoles 2015 Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/byu-cougars-2015-schedule-and-analysis
Body:

Bronco Mendenhall has never had a losing season at BYU.

 

He’s grown accustomed to winning, posting five seasons with at least 10 wins during his decade-long career in Provo.

 

But a move to independence has increased scheduling difficulty and has led to three straight 8-5 seasons.

 

The good news in 2015 is dual-threat quarterback Taysom Hill appears poised to return to form. The bad is one of the toughest schedules Mendenhall has faced since BYU left the Mountain West four years ago.

 

2015 BYU Cougars Schedule

 

Bye: Week 9, * - Fri.

 

WkOpp.DateLocation
1.Sept. 5Lincoln, NE
Sneaky Good Opener Generally, Week 1 is the best weekend of non-conference action nationally and this one in Lincoln is sneaky good. BYU and Nebraska have never played, but the blues and reds will look great on the turf of Memorial Stadium.
2.Sept. 12Provo, UT
These two western powers have played five times total, but will play for the fourth straight season this fall. BYU is just 1-4 in the series but the Cougars' lone win came the last time they met in Provo, 37-20 in 2013.
3.Sept. 19Los Angeles, CA
The Bruins and Cougs have met 10 times total with UCLA winning seven of these matchups. However, BYU has won the past two meetings (2007-08), including a 59-0 drubbing the last time they met. The Cougars are 1-3 all-time in Pasadena against the Bruins.
4.Sept. 26Ann Arbor, MI
Remember When? BYU fans shouldn't have any trouble remembering the only meeting between the Cougars and Wolverines. BYU topped Michigan 24-17 in the 1984 Holiday Bowl en route to a 13-0 record and the program's only national championship.
5.Oct. 2*Provo, UT
The Cougars topped the Huskies 35-10 in last season's opener in Connecticut in the first-ever meeting between the two programs. UConn will attempt to exact revenge in Provo this time around.
6.Oct. 10Provo, UT
East Carolina is replacing a lot of talent but has been a solid program for years and will be a tough out. This marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs, which are separated by 2,235 miles.
7.Oct. 17Provo, UT
QB Showcase Much like ECU, Tommy Tuberville and the Bearcats are always a tough out and should be once again in 2015. This game in particular could be must-see TV because of the potential Taysom Hill/Gunner Kiel quarterback duel.
8.Oct. 24Provo, UT
What can you really say about a historic first-ever meeting between BYU and... Wagner?
10.Nov. 7San Jose, CA
A team BYU is pretty familiar with, Mendenhall has split two career meetings with San Jose State. These teams have squared off 16 times with BYU winning 10. However, the Spartans won the last time they met — which also was in San Jose.
11.Nov. 14Kansas City, MO

Not-so Neutral Field BYU will face Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City in a "neutral field" tilt. The crowd figures to favor the black and gold in what should be a great late-season meeting. The only other time these two teams have met on the field was in the 1983 Holiday Bowl, which BYU won 21-17.

11.Nov. 21Provo, UT
BYU and Fresno have played each other nine times, but the last meeting was back in 1998. This has been a high-scoring affair with the loser posting at least 21 points in five straight matchups.
13.Nov. 28Logan, UT
Rivalry Game The heated in-state rivalry game will cap Mendenhall's 11th season in Provo. He's 6-2 all-time against the Aggies, but saw his team fall 35-20 last year in Provo. BYU leads the series 46-35-3.
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James Franklin enters his second season in Happy Valley with his work cut out for him.

 

The quarterback position is settled and the defense should be in good shape under star coordinator Bob Shoop, but his offensive line and running game are still major question marks.

 

There is a lot to like about this team considering it claims one of the best rosters in the league, but it won just twice in Big Ten play last year and is facing another brutal East Division schedule.

 

Related: 2015 Penn State Spring Football Preview

 

2015 Penn State Nittany Lions Schedule

 

Bye: Week 11

 

WkOpp.DateLocation
1.Sept. 5Philadelphia, PA
The in-state rivalry has been played 43 times and the Owls haven't won since 1941. Penn State owns a 39-3-1 record all-time, but this Matt Rhule-coached Temple team is much better than Phily has seen in years.
2.Sept. 12State College, PA
These two met in 1900 (Buffalo won) and 2007 (Penn State won) but that's it. Look for Penn State to try to get the ground game going against a team that ranked 78th against the run a year ago.
3.Sept. 19State College, PA
The sneaky good Northeast and now Big Ten East rivalry has been played 25 times with PSU winning 23 of the meetings. This was an instant classic a year ago after a Christian Hackenberg rally. Rutgers last defeated the Lions in 1988.
4.Sept. 26State College, PA
The Aztecs will be a long way from home — try 2,541 miles — when they travel to State College for the first time in school history. In fact, this will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
5.Oct. 3State College, PA
One team runs the ball like crazy and the other one can't run it at all. This long-time East Coast matchup has been played 25 times dating back to the 1800s. Penn State is 13-10-2 all-time against the Knights but has won every meeting (9-0) since 1966.
6.Oct. 10State College, PA
Penn State has dominated this series since moving to the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions are 17-1 all-time again the Hoosiers, with the only loss coming two years ago in Bloomington.
7.Oct. 17Columbus, OH
Eastern Heavyweights The Buckeyes' toughest challenge en route to their national title last season was an overtime win over PSU in Happy Valley. Ohio State holds the series lead 17-13, has won three straight and five of the last six. However, Penn State is actually 2-2 in its last four trips to Columbus.
8.Oct. 24Baltimore, MD
Budding Rivalry Much like Rutgers, this rivalry should continue to blossom as James Franklin looks to recruit the DC/Maryland corridor. Until last year's 20-19 win, the Terps hadn't beaten Penn State since 1961. The Lions brag a 35-2-1 all-time mark against Maryland.
9.Oct. 31State College, PA
Revenge Game I A shocking late-season loss (16-14) in Champaign helped get Illinois to a bowl. Penn State can't afford to lose this game again in 2015. The Lions are 17-5 vs. the Illini all-time, including 8-1 at home.
10.Nov. 7Evanston, IL
Revenge Game II Losing at home to a team that failed to make a bowl game was no way to start Big Ten play a year ago for Franklin. Look for Penn State to exact revenge in Evanston this year — a place where the Lions have won three straight.
12.Nov. 21State College, PA
Should Penn State win this rivalry game and survive most of the Big Ten schedule, they could be in a good spot heading into the final weekend. Michigan is one of only a few B1G programs with an all-time winning record against Penn State (11-7). Penn State won 18-13 in Ann Arbor a year ago.
13.Nov. 28East Lansing, MI
Land Grant Trophy One of the most bizarre rivalry trophies in college football is on the line when these two meet in the regular-season finale. Additionally, grasp of the all-time series record also hangs in the balance, as the two have split 29 previous meetings (14-14-1).

 

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