Articles By Braden Gall

Path: /nfl/top-25-best-nfl-stats-2012
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Another stellar NFL season is in the books. And unlike any year in the past, rookie quarterbacks, single-season records, franchise records and all-time greats produced at unprecedented levels. The NFL record books were completely rewritten this fall and Athlon Sports has compiled all the important numbers the fans need to know about 2012:

10: Combined wins in 2011 for Colts, Vikings and Redskins
Minnesota (3-13), Washington (5-11) and Indianapolis (2-14) won a total of 10 games a year ago and all three picked in the top four of the 2012 NFL Draft. Those picks netted Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Matt Kalil. This year, those three teams combined for 31 wins and all three made the playoffs. Additionally, Seattle was 7-9 last year before inserting a rookie QB of their own to win 11 games this year.

1: Times the top two teams in the draft made the playoffs
Certainly trades could skew this number if a great team acquires a high pick years in advance, however, never in NFL history have the top two teams selecting in the NFL Draft go on to make the playoffs that same season. That is, before the Colts and Redskins did so this fall with Luck and Griffin III. Seven times has a team made the playoffs after picking first overall and only the Colts have done so with a rookie starter under center.

2,097: Adrian Peterson's No. 2 all-time rushing total
All-Day Peterson became just the seventh player to rush for 2,000 yards as he fell just nine yards shy of the all-time NFL record set nearly 30 years ago by Eric Dickerson (2,105). He also tied Earl Campbell's NFL record with seven games of at least 150 yards rushing this season.

1,964 and 727: Single-season receiving and pass attempts records by Lions
Calvin Johnson broke Jerry Rice’s all-time single-season NFL receiving record by catching a league-leading 122 passes for 1,964 yards this fall. He also set the NFL record with eight straight 100-yard games and tied Michael Irvin’s all-time record with 11 100-yard games this season. Matthew Stafford became the first player in NFL history to attempt at least 700 passes in a season. breaking Drew Bledsoe’s (691) record with 727 attempts this year. However, Detroit lost its final eight games of the year to finish a disappointing 4-12 after what appeared to be a breakthrough 10-win season and playoff appearance last year.

4,374: Andrew Luck's rookie record for passing yards
Few players have played as well as Luck did in their first year in the league. After Cam Newton set the single-season rookie passing record with 4,051 yards last season, Luck set the bar even higher with 4,374 yards this fall. His 23 passing touchdowns trails only Peyton Manning (26) and Russell Wilson (26) for the top spot among rookies and he also rushed for five touchdowns and 255 yards as well. Luck is the first QB taken No. 1 overall in the NFL draft to start a postseason game in his rookie year. Wideout T.Y. Hilton (1 att.) was the only other player on the team to attempt a pass this season.

13: Carolina Panthers lost the first 13 coin tosses of the year
The Panthers started the season 3-9 on the field but 0-for-13 on coin tosses (including one overtime flip). The laws of probability makes this accomplishment possibly the most unlikely in this pretty impressive year of stats. The odds of losing 13 straight coin flips is 1-in-8,192. The Panthers won their first coin toss before the kickoff of their 13th game.

100.0: Russell Wilson's franchise-record single-season QB rating
Matt Hasselbeck posted the “best” or most-efficient season by a Seattle quarterback with a 98.2 QB rating in 2005. Russell Wilson broke that mark in just his first season in the NFL by posting an elite 100.0 QB rating this season, which was good for fourth in the league. He also tied Peyton Manning’s rookie record for passing touchdowns with 26. Manning, however, threw 28 interceptions in 1998 while Wilson threw just 10 picks. In fact, his 100.0 rating would have been an NFL rookie record as well if not for…

102.4: Robert Griffin III's NFL-record rookie QB rating
He didn’t set passing yards records like Luck or touchdown records like Wilson but Griffin III posted the most efficient rookie season in NFL history with a 102.4 QB rating. The mark was the 39th-best overall season by a quarterback in history and at 22 years old, RG3 is the youngest player to ever have a season rated 100.0 or better. Despite not playing one game, Griffin’s line is unreal: 3,200 yards, 20 TD, 5 INT, 65.6-precent completions, the NFL rookie record for rushing yards by a QB with 815 yards and seven rushing TDs.

4: Career playoff wins by six starting NFC playoff QBs
The six starting quarterbacks in the NFC have nine career starts and four total wins — all four by Aaron Rodgers. The Packers' signal caller has six of the nine career postseason starts with Atlanta’s Matt Ryan claiming the other three (0-3). By comparison, the starting six quarterbacks in the AFC have 52 combined postseason starts and 30 career playoff victories.

5: Teams to have made the playoffs after starting 3-6
The Washington Redskins became the just fifth team in history to start the year 3-6 and still make the playoffs. The Skins won seven straight after their slow start to capture the NFC East title. Jacksonville (1996), Detroit (1995), New England (1994) and Cincinnati (1970) are the only other teams in NFL history to have started the season with six losses in their first nine games and then gone on to make the playoffs.

0: Teams that have won a wild-card playoff rematch after the losing the year before
This one needs some explaining. Cincinnati and Houston will play for the second straight season in the wild-card round of the AFC playoffs. Three times have teams met in the wild-card round in consecutive seasons and all three times the loser of the first meeting went on to lose the second meeting. This is bad news for the Bengals, who lost 31-10 last year to the Texans.

6: First- or second-year QBs in the playoffs this year
Andy Dalton, Christian Ponder and Colin Kaepernick are in their second seasons in the NFL and all three have led their teams to the postseason. Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson are rookies and have led their teams to the postseason. A lot has been made of this rookie class as no postseason tournament has seen this many rookies, but the second-year guys need to be given just as much credit. The last two quarterback classes have been special — as Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Brandon Weeden, Nick Foles and Ryan Tannehill all look like starters next season as well.

8: Consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons by Steven Jackson
One of the most underrated players in the last decade reached 1,000 yards for the eighth consecutive year with 1,042 yards on 257 carries. Jackson has carried the ball at least 237 times in each of the last eight years and has done so on a team that hasn’t had one winning record over that span. The best team he ever played on was the 8-8 2006 squad. Jackson tied LaDanian Tomlinson and Thurman Thomas with eight straight seasons and only Emmitt Smith (11), Barry Sanders (10) and Curtis Martin (10) have longer such streaks.

0-11: Texans' record all-time in Indianapolis
Houston has now played 11 games in the Midwestern city and has lost every time. The latest one coming in the regular-season finale this fall, however, might be the most costly. The Texans dropped from the No. 1 seed in the AFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs to the No. 3 seed and a first-round rematch from last year with the Cincinnati Bengals. After starting the year 11-1, Houston enters the postseason having lost three of its last four games — all to playoff teams (New England, Minnesota, Indianapolis).

17-1: Atlanta’s record when Matt Ryan throws at least 3 TDs
When Matt Ryan throws at least three touchdowns the Falcons win. Seven of those games took place this season as Ryan set career highs in completions (422), attempts (615), yards (4,719, breaking his own franchise record), touchdowns (32) and QB rating (99.1). Ironically, his lone loss with at least three scoring strikes came this season in a loss to New Orleans in which he posted his only career 400-yard passing game (411).

12 and 72: Peyton Manning's NFL records for 4,000-yard seasons and 300-yard games
109 times has a quarterback passed for at least 4,000 yards in a single-season and Manning claims 12 of those. He posted his second-best yardage total this fall with 4,659 yards and was just 41 yards shy of his personal best. This after four neck surgeries and sitting out the entire 2011 season. Drew Brees is second all-time with seven seasons of at least 4,000 yards passing. Additionally, Manning moved into second place behind Brett Favre in touchdown passes (436), completions (5,082) and wins (154).

10: NFL-record division titles for Tom Brady
Brady and the Patriots won the AFC East with relative ease this season with a 12-4 mark and a first round bye in the playoffs. In his 13th NFL season, Brady became the first player in NFL history to win 10 division championships. He passed Joe Montana’s previous record of nine division titles. Peyton Manning also won his ninth, tying Montana for second all-time.

33.5: NFL-record sacks in Aldon Smith’s first two seasons
After an excellent 14.0 quarterback sacks in his rookie year, Smith made a run at the single-season NFL record (Michael Strahan, 22.5) with 19.5 QB takedowns this season. The former first-round pick has blossomed into one of the most dynamic pass-rushers in history and his 33.5 sacks are an NFL record for sacks in the first two seasons of a career. Reggie White posted 30.0 sacks in his first two seasons in 1985 and '86.

54: Drew Brees' streak of consecutive games with a TD pass
Brees passed Johnny Unitas’ half-a-century old record for consecutive games with a TD pass (47) and then some in 2012. Atlanta snapped his streak in Week 12 at 54 straight games with at least one TD. Tom Brady, who sits at 48 consecutive games, also passed Unitas and could pass Brees in the Patriots' seventh game of the 2013 season. 

110: Jason Witten's single-season NFL record for catches by a tight end
The Cowboys came up just short of making the playoffs this season but it wasn’t Witten’s fault. He surpassed Tony Gonzalez’ single-season record (102) set back in 2004 with 110 catches for Dallas.

18: NFL record for 10-catch games by Andre Johnson and Wes Welker
Both Wes Welker and Andre Johnson finished this season with 18 career games with at least 10 catches. Both players passed Jerry Rice’s all-time NFL record with 17 such performances. 

45-51: Ken Whisenhunt win-loss record as head coach at Arizona
The Cardinals began the year 4-0 and were one of the early season surprises in 2012. Then Arizona lost 11 of its last 12 games. Six games under .500 isn’t going to get Whisenhunt to Canton anytime soon, but his 45 wins are the most by any head coach in Cardinals history. He also led this team to its lone Super Bowl appearance and came up one Santonio Holmes big toe away from winning the Lombardi Trophy. So is he the best coach in Cardinals' franchise history?

7: Coaches fired on Black Monday 2012
Whisenhunt, Lovie Smith (81-63), Andy Reid (130-93-1), Norv Turner (56-40), Chan Gailey (16-32), Pat Shurmur (9-23) and Romeo Crennel (4-15) were all fired on the 2012 edition of Black Monday. Three of those seven took their respective teams to the Super Bowl (Whisenhunt, Smith, Reid) and two of the grouo (Turner and Reid) have more than 100 wins in their careers.

9-of-14: Years Andy Reid led the Eagles to the postseason
It was time for Reid and the Eagles to part ways. Both are likely going to be better off and the former Philadelphia coach shouldn’t have to wait long before he gets another shot on the sidelines again. He posted eight seasons of at least 10 wins and averaged 9.3 wins per season over a 14-year career in the City of (not-so) Brotherly Love. The most important number, however, are his nine postseason trips. He was 10-9 in the playoffs and led his team to the Super Bowl in 2004. The bad in Philly won’t outweigh the good, so Reid will be back coaching in short order.

135: Eli Manning's longest active consecutive starts streak
Since Week 10 of his rookie season in 2004, Eli Manning hasn’t missed a start in 135 chances. His older brother, Peyton, watched his streak of 208 end last year when he missed the entire 2011 season. Eli, who just finished his ninth NFL season, would need to play more than 10 additional seasons (10 seasons and 2 weeks) without missing a start to reach Brett Favre’s all-time record of 297 straight starts.

There were plenty of other milestones and records that were set this year, including:

- Frank Gore passed Joe Perry as the 49ers' all-time leading rusher (8,839).
- Gore also passed Joe Perry as the 49ers' all-time rushing TD leader (51).
- Eli Manning passed Phil Simms as the Giants' all-time passing TD leader (211).
- Alfred Morris passed Clinton Portis as Redskins' single-season rushing leader (1,613).
- Marques Colston passed Joe Horn on the Saints' all-time TD receptions list (58).
- Jason Witten passed Michael Irvin as the Cowboys' all-time leading receiver (806).
- Josh Freeman passed Vinny Testaverde as Bucs' all-time passing TD leader (78).
- Ed Reed passed Rod Woodson for the most INT return yards in NFL history (1,541).
- Randy Moss passed Tim Brown and Isaac Bruce for 3rd all-time in receiving yards (15,292).
- Blair Walsh set the NFL record for 50-plus-yard field goals made in a season (10).
- Chris Johnson added to his own NFL record for rushing TDs of at least 80 yards (6).

Teaser:
<p> Top 25 Best NFL Stats of 2012</p>
Post date: Thursday, January 3, 2013 - 06:01
Path: /college-football/how-notre-dames-2012-championship-team-rank-high-school-recruits
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The merits of recruiting rankings are debated in every sports bar and around every water cooler in the nation. Athlon continues its look back at recruiting rankings by comparing the starting line-ups in the BCS National Championship Game as recruits.

Related: College Football's 2012 All-American Team as Recruits

2012 Notre Dame's Starting Offenses as Recruits

Everett Golson, QB (2011)
This deep South prospect was no ordinary three-star recruit. The Myrtle Beach (S.C.) High prospect had offers to play at Florida, Georgia, Clemson, Ohio State, Michigan, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia Tech among many others. Rivals rated him as the No. 13 player in the state and the No. 16-rated dual-threat quarterback in the nation.

Theo Riddick, RB (2009) National Recruit
The runner-turned-receiver-turned-runner was highly coveted coming out of Manville (N.J.) Immaculata. Athlon Sports ranked him the No. 185-overall player in the nation and the No. 24-rated running back in America. Rivals gave him four stars as he picked the Irish over offers from Penn State, West Virginia, Rutgers, Pitt, Maryland and Virginia. Riddick took the place of former start Cierre Wood — who was ranked as the No. 2 running back recruit in the nation back in 2009.

T.J. Jones, WR (2010) National Recruit
The Gainesville (Ga.) High native just missed landing in the Athlon Consensus 100 in 2010. He was the No. 116-rated overall prospect in the nation and was the No. 19-rated wide receiver nationally. The Peach State prospect held scholarships from Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio State, Stanford, UCLA and Cal to go with Notre Dame. He was a four-star recruit according to Rivals.

DeVaris Daniels, WR (2011) National Recruit
Just like Jones, Daniels barely missed landing in the AC100 as he was rated the No. 105 overall player in the nation by Athlon Sports. The Vernon Hills (Ill.) High wide receiver was the No. 16-rated player at his position nationally and Rivals gave him a four-star ranking. Major college powers from all over the nation offered the talented Midwestern prospect: Oklahoma, Oregon, Arkansas, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Michigan State and Wisconsin to name a few.

John Goodman, WR (2008)
Both Goodman and receiver Robby Toma were three-star prospects coming out of high school. Goodman hails from Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Dwenger and was rated as the No. 3 player in the state and No. 51 player at his position by Rivals. He picked the Irish over Michigan, Iowa, Kentucky, Indiana and Purdue.

Tyler Eifert, TE (2009)
A high school teammate of Goodman’s at Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Dwenger, Eifert was also a three-star pass catcher by Rivals one year later. Eifert was the No. 24-rated tight end in the nation and was the No. 10-rated player in the state by the online scouting service. He picked Notre Dame over Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Minnesota, Purdue, Cincinnati, Indiana and Wake Forest.

Christian Lombard, OL (2010) National Recruit
A big-time recruit from Palatine (Ill.) Fremd, Lombard was ranked in the Top 150 nationally (No. 146). The four-star prospect was the No. 20-rated offensive lineman in the nation by Athlon Sports and he picked Notre Dame over other big-time offers from Michigan, Nebraska, Stanford, North Carolina and Wisconsin (among many others).

Zack Martin, OL (2009) National Recruit
Michigan, Stanford, UCLA, Illinois, Virginia and Northwestern also offered Martin a chance to play college football. The four-star recruit from Indianapolis (Ind.) Bishop Chatard was the No. 26-rated offensive lineman in the nation and the No. 214-rated overall player in the country by Athlon Sports. Rivals listed Martin as the No. 2-rated player in the state behind only Montez Robinson.

Chris Watt, OL (2009) AC100
This top-100 prospect was the No. 8-rated offensive lineman in the nation back in 2009, trailing names like DJ Fluker, Xavier Nixon, Mason Walters and Marcus Hall. Athlon Sports ranked him the No. 49 overall player in the country. He was a four-star prospect from Glen Ellyn (Ill.) Glenbard West who picked Notre Dame over Ohio State, Penn State, Iowa, Virginia, Northwestern, Illinois and Boston College.

Mike Golic Jr., OL (2008)
From West Hartford (Conn.) Northwest Catholic, Golic Jr., was headed to one campus and one campus only. The Notre Dame legacy — and son of famous ESPN personality Mike Golic Sr. — was a three-star recruit by Rivals who was ranked as the No. 8 center in the country. He was the No. 4-rated player in the state

Braxston Cave, OL (2008) National Recruit
Michigan, Notre Dame and Indiana offered the Mishawaka (Ind.) Penn prospect in 2008. He was the No. 4-rated center in the nation and the No. 2-rated player in the state by Rivals.com. He was given four-star status and ranked as the No. 192-rated overall recruit in the nation.  

Related: How Alabama's Starting Line-up Ranked as Recruits

Star ranking breakdown of Notre Dame's starting line-up (by Rivals.com):

Star Ranking No. of Players
3
1
15
6
0


2012 Notre Dame's Starting Defense as Recruits

Kapron Lewis-Moore, DL (2008) National Recruit
The star defensive end signed with the Irish from Weatherford (Texas) High and was ranked as a coveted four-star prospect by Rivals. He was the No. 13-rated strongside defensive end in the nation and was the No. 33-rated player in The Lone Star State. He held offers from Texas, Michigan, Louisville, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Colorado and Kansas.

Louis Nix, DL (2010) National Recruit
The big fella from Jacksonville (Fla.) Raines barely missed landing in the Athlon Consensus 100 as the No. 102-rated player in the nation regardless of position. He was the no. 9-rated defensive tackle in a loaded year for the position and was a four-star recruit by Rivals. He had offers from Florida, Florida State, Clemson, Miami, Ole Miss and both North and South Carolina.

Stephon Tuitt, DL (2011) AC100
Athlon Sports ranked the Monroe (Ga.) Area High School prospect as the No. 44 overall player in the nation. He was the No. 4-rated player in the state behind Isaiah Crowell, Ray Drew and Jay Rome and was the No. 8-rated defensive lineman. Every school in the nation wanted the massive D-Lineman as he held seven SEC offers (Florida, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina, Tennessee, Auburn, Vanderbilt) to go with Clemson, UCLA, North Carolina, Louisville and Notre Dame scholarships.

Prince Shembo, DL (2010) National Recruit
Hailing from Charlotte (N.C.) Ardrey Kell, Shembo signed with Notre Dame after Virginia Tech, Tennessee, North Carolina and West Virginia among others. He was a four-star prospect by Rivals and was the No. 7-rated inside linebacker in the nation. He was the No. 238-rated overall player in the nation and the No. 7-rated player in the state.

Manti Te’o, LB (2009) AC100
The Irish middle linebacker from Laie (Hawaii) Punahou is no stranger to the spotlight. He was the No. 1-rated linebacker in the nation and No. 3 overall player in the country, trailing only Matt Barkley (USC) and Russell Shepard (LSU) in Athlon Sports' 2009 recruiting rankings. Obviously, the No. 1 player in the state, Te’o held offers from every college program in the nation and was able to write his own ticket.

Dan Fox, LB (2009) National Recruit
The outside linebacker from Rocky River (Ohio) St. Ignatius was a four-star prospect by Rivals.com. He was the No. 13-rated outside backer in the nation and was the No. 15-rated player in the state of Ohio. He held offers from Stanford, Michigan State, Iowa, Pitt, Virginia and Boston College as well as Notre Dame.

Danny Spond, LB (2010) National Recruit
The Littleton (Colo.) Columbine prospect was listed as a four-star “athlete” by Rivals. He was the No. 2-rated player in the state and the No. 27-rated player at his position nationally. Colorado, Stanford, TCU, Duke, Colorado offered and Arkansas had interest as well.

Kei'Varae Russell, CB (2012) National Recruit
An early contributor, Russell signed with Notre Dame out of Everett (Wash.) Mariner last February. He had an offer from every school in the Pac-12 except USC as well as Vanderbilt, Purdue and Boise State. Athlon Sports ranked him as the No. 18-rated running back prospect in the nation and he was the No. 167-rated overall player in the nation. Rivals gave him four stars.

Bennett Jackson, CB (2010)
The Hazlet (N.J.) Raritan native was a three-star recruit with an impressive offer sheet. Michigan State, West Virginia, Iowa, Maryland, Pitt, Rutgers and others offered the Garden State prospect. Rivals rated him the No. 61-best wide receiver in the nation and the ninth-best recruit in the state.

Matthias Farley, S (2011)
Another Southeastern prospect, Farley hails from Charlotte (N.C.) Christian High School. He had offers from local programs (North Carolina, NC State, Duke) as well as teams from across the nation (UCLA, Wisconsin, Maryland, Notre Dame) and was given a three-star rating from Rivals.

Zeke Motta, S (2009) National Recruit
The undersized linebacker prospect was an elite talent coming out of Vero Beach (Fla.) High School. Athlon Sports ranked him as the No. 174-rated player in the nation and the No. 24-rated linebacker in America. Rivals thought higher of him and ranked him as the No. 54-overall player in the nation, nearly giving him a fifth star. The Irish safety could have accepted scholarships to play at Florida, Florida State, Clemson, Auburn, North Carolina, West Virginia, UCLA or Stanford. 

Related Content:

Athlon Consensus 100: The Top 100 Recruits in the Nation
The 2012 All-America Team as Recruits

The 2012 All-Big 12 Team as Recruits

The 2012 All-Pac-12 Team as Recruits
The 2012 All-ACC Team as Recruits
The 2012 All-Big Ten Team as Recruits
The 2012 All-SEC Team as Recruits
The 2012 All-Big East Team as Recruits

Teaser:
<p> How Notre Dame's Championship Team Rank as High School Recruits</p>
Post date: Thursday, January 3, 2013 - 05:30
All taxonomy terms: NFL, NBA, MLB, Overtime
Path: /overtime/20-worst-sports-teammates-all-time
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There are many different ways for a locker room to implode, splinter and almost assuredly fail to accomplish much of anything. Injuries, poor leadership and handsy owners are just a few ways the delicate pursuit of a championship can be derailed. But sometimes the locker room can be infested with teammates who clearly aren't committed to winning championships. It can rub off on others, can be a distraction in the media and is obviously a terrible way to represent yourself in your community to so many who admire them. Sometimes — most times — these athletes have so much talent that they continually are given chances to succeed. It generally leaves fans wondering what if?

Our worst teammates of all-time:

Ryan Leaf, Quarterback, NFL
The torrid and tawdry tale of the San Diego Chargers first-round pick in the 1998 NFL Draft is well documented. His off-the-field drug issues as a coach alone make him one of the most tragic members of any locker room in all of sports. Yet, simply as an NFL quarterback, Leaf failed to live up to his 6-foot-5 frame. He was in yelling matches that nearly developed into physical altercations with teammates, general managers, fans during practice and one famous reporter who should have "knock(ed) it off." The list of bizarre and ignorant decision-making is shocking. He skipped the final day of the rookie symposium. He complained to the front office about a standard rookie credit card prank. He constantly blamed teammates publicly for his poor play. He missed practice with an injury to play golf. He refused to have surgery when doctors told him he should. There is a reason he won only four of his 21 career starts.

Tonya Harding, Figure Skater
Aside from never being able to get to the arena or onto the ice on time, I'm not sure it gets any worse than physically assaulting your teammate with the direct intent of ending their career. On Jan. 6, 1994, Harding conspired with ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, and her bodyguard, Shawn Eckhardt, to break teammate and competitor Nancy Kerrigan's right leg. They hired a man named Shane Stant to assault Kerrigan at Cobo Arena in Detroit, causing Kerrigan to withdraw from the 1994 US Championships. The attack didn't keep Kerrigan from competing in the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer where she won the Silver Medal. Harding would end up pleading guilty to conspiracy.

Barry Bonds, Outfielder, MLB
Possibly the most talented and most high profile player on this list, it seems awfully appropriate that Bonds has never won anything. The stories from teammates, fans and reporters stretch out longer than one of his bombs into the Bay. Not showing up for team photos, blaming teammates for failed drug tests, berating journalists, distracting the team and constantly distancing himself from his team. There is a report from Rob Dibble that Pirates players would offer steak dinners and cash to opposing pitchers if they would hit Bonds. He was hit 106 times in his career and, for the most part, his home run record is sneered at for a reason.

Delonte West, Guard, NBA
This one isn't too hard. Over a three-year period of time West was traded three times and eventually waived by the Minnesota Timberwolves. His career began unceremoniously when officers found a concealed handgun in his pocket and, I can't make this up, a shotgun in a guitar case on his back during a speedy stop — while on a motorcycle. In 2010, he got into a locker room fight with Von Wafer, one that witnesses say West instigated. In 2012, he wasn't allowed to attend the Mavericks trip to the White House and he reacted with an intense Twitter rant. Finally, and even I will admit, the most far-fetched tale of Mr. West are his alleged indiscretions with The Chosen One's Mom. No, I am not kidding. He never averaged more than 12.2 points per game in any season and averaged in double figures only three times in eight years in the NBA.

Bill Romanowski, Linebacker, NFL
The burly and physical tackler was a menace on the field as one of the nastiest hitters in the game and off the field as one of the worst teammates. During his playing days, he was long-linked to potential steroid use that likely led somewhat to his insane practice habits. No less than six major violent incidents with teammates dot Romanowski's resume. He shattered Marcus Williams' eye-socket, ending his career, broke Kerry Collins' jaw and attacked Tony Gonzalez. He kicked another teammate in the head, spit in another's face and was known to aim for an extra-sensitive area of the body with the football from time to time. The linebacker has since toned down his antics dramatically and has been slowly working to rebuild his image off of the field.

Manny Ramirez, Outfielder, MLB
No one makes you shake your head quite like Man-Ram. Yes, he has had physical altercations with teammates and even apparently knocked over an elderly secretary. He was an extraordinary hitter and one of the most bizarre outfielders in the history of the game. Cutting off throws, disappearing into the Monster and landing on the baseball only scratch the surface. He was also suspended for using steroids while playing for the Dodgers late in his career. But Manny is also guilty of the worst crime in all of sports: intentionally not playing hard. Manny Being Manny was great for a laugh — if you didn't play with him.

Terrell Owens, Wide Receiver, NFL
Constantly throwing teammates under the bus, Owens' selfish attitude on and off the field cost his locker room any cohesion and, at times, cost his team yards on the field. Effort was never his issue like some other prima donna wideouts in the NFL, but to blame quarterbacks and coaches for his own failures is absurd. And to infer certain things about Jeff Garcia in a negative way is unacceptable, distasteful and classless. Especially, coming from a guy as vain as T.O.

Gilbert Arenas, Guard, NBA
He has long been known to berate and verbally abuse teammates. He has also been connected with some of the more vicious rookie hazings. However, being suspended for nearly an entire season because you brought a handgun into the locker room takes the cake. Which is unacceptable, especially if you are a career 42.1 percent shooter.

Steve Smith, Wide Receiver, NFL (Carolina Panthers)
Multiple fights with multiple teammates have made Smith a constant headline in training camp. He has been sued, fined, suspended and sent to anger management training for the better part of a decade. It’s not working. He has long been one of the most talkative — and generally not using pleasantries — players in all of the NFL.

Carlos Zambrano, Starting Pitcher, MLB
He was suspended for arguing with teammate Derrek Lee. He got in a fight between innings with catcher Michael Barrett. His temper and childish behaviors were caught on film numerous times on the North Side of Chicago. Why do you think new management was willing to pay millions for him NOT to be in their clubhouse?

John Terry, Centre Back, English Premier Soccer
One of the most decorated English soccer plays of all-time, Terry won "Dad of the Year" in 2009. The voters must not have known about his bar fights, airport altercations, handicap parking tendencies and general sleaziness. He has been investigated for racial abuse and was busted for having an extramarital affair with a teammate’s significant other. Well done, sire.

Jeff Kent, Second Base, MLB
Few players have ever been as abrasive as Mr. Kent. Stories of Barry Bonds — yes, Barry Bonds — having to play the role of peacekeeper in the Giants clubhouse should tell you all you need to know about Kent. Teammates, media, coaches and fans can't stand to be around him. Neither could the people on "Survivor" apparently.

Latrell Sprewell, Guard, NBA
Few players have wasted more talent on nonsense than Sprewell. Not many players can say they have literally choked their head coach. His excuse? "It's not like he was losing air or anything." Spree's laundry list of locker room dust-ups is too long to comb through. But choking your coach and publicly wondering how he was going to feed his family on a $21 million contract is enough to make this list.

The "Worst" of the Rest:

Albert Haynesworth, Defensive Lineman, NFL
A paycheck player who refused to play certain positions and never stayed in shape following his payday.

Keyshawn Johnson, Wide Receiver, NFL
Was always wondering why the Jets were throwing the ball "to that little white guy." Hmmm...

Stephon Marbury, Guard, NBA
Constantly battling with teammates and even his GM, he single-handedly derailed the Knicks.

Allen Iverson, Guard, NBA
Game effort was never the issue. His Diva persona and attitude towards practice was.

Joe Horn, Wide Receiver, NFL
On the field antics and sleeping with a teammate's wife qualifies Horn for this list.

JaMarcus Russell, Quarterback, NFL
Lazy, out of shape and unfocused on anything that had to do with winning games.

Milton Bradley, Outfielder, MLB
Eight teams in 12 years for the short-tempered maniac. Has had multiple domestic abuse issues.

Teaser:
<p> 20 Worst Sports Teammates of All-Time</p>
Post date: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/notre-dame-vs-alabama-historical-position
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There are few programs in the history of college football that have experienced as much success as Alabama and Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are fourth all-time with 865 wins and no team in the nation can claim more Heisman trophies than the Irish's seven. The Crimson Tide are ninth all-time with 826 wins and have won two of the last three BCS National Championships. Officially, the Tide lead all FBS programs with 14 national titles and Notre Dame is tied for second with 11. 'Bama claims 24 NCAA Hall of Famers while the Irish boast 50.

Arguably, the two most powerful brands in college football history will be on the field deciding a championship on Monday, Jan. 7. Dedicated fans, legendary coaches, historic moments and most importantly, transcendent players have made these two football Goliaths what they are today.

So which program has had the better history of great athletes? To be fair, the evolution of the athlete makes it extremely difficult to compare players who passed beneath Touchdown Jesus or through the Capstone 60 years apart. Players today are bigger, faster, stronger and more prepared for elite competition than ever before. How could you ever compare Barrett Jones to Aaron Taylor to John Hannah? What about Manti Te'o, Cornelius Bennett or Jim Lynch? How about George Gipp or Trent Richardson?

It's virtually impossible, but Athlon Sports has given it the ol' college try:

Quarterback:

Alabama's Best: Joe Namath, Ken Stabler, AJ McCarron
Notre Dame's Best: Johnny Lujack, Joe Montana, Paul Hornung

With AJ McCarron pushing for his second national championship ring, Alabama has a strong trio at the most important position on the field. The Tide also has title winners in Jay Barker, Greg McElroy and Pat Trammell. 'Bama also claims Green Bay Packers hero Bart Starr. However, Notre Dame gets the nod under center with a deep and talented history at the quarterback position. Lujack, Hornung, John Huarte and Angelo Bartelli all won Heisman trophies and many believe Montana is the best to ever play the position. Throw in Terry Hanratty, Joe Theismann, Rick Mirer, Brady Quinn and Tony Rice, and the Irish have the clear edge under center.

Edge: Notre Dame
 

Running Back:

Alabama's Best: Trent Richardson, Mark Ingram, Bobby Humphrey
Notre Dame's Best: George Gipp, Johnny Lattner, Jerome Bettis


If the game was being played 50 years ago, Notre Dame's best would likely trump 'Bama. However, the modern athlete gives the Crimson Tide the edge at running back. Richardson is one of the most physically gifted players to ever carry a football on any campus. Ingram won Alabama's lone Heisman Trophy, and old-school names like Humphrey, Johnny Musso, Shaun Alexander and Johnny Mack Brown give the Tide plenty of history of their own. The Gipper is the gold standard in South Bend for all players regardless of position, as Gipp excelled at much more than just running. Bettis is arguably the most gifted Irish runner, but is the only modern "all-time" tailback at Notre Dame. Lattner, Gipp, Elmer Layden and Emil Sitko played during a different era and even the best of the rest — Vagas Ferguson, Autry Denson, Reggie Brooks — are nearly 20 years removed from action. This position battle is extremely close but Alabama gets the slight edge based on raw athletic ability.

Edge: Alabama
 

Wide Receiver:

Alabama's Best: Don Hutson, Julio Jones, David Palmer
Notre Dame's Best: Tim Brown, Rocket Ismail, Michael Floyd

'Bama's best can hang with anyone's top three, especially considering what Hutson and Jones have gone on to do in the NFL. But the position isn't extremely deep with All-Americans. Notre Dame, however, has a deep history of elite pass catchers. Brown won the program's seventh Heisman Trophy, Ismail was virtually unstoppable in the open field, and Floyd was as productive as any wideout at any school. But Jim Seymour, Jeff Samardzija, Golden Tate, Wayne Milner and Derrick Mays, to name a few, give the Irish the nod over the Crimson Tide. Although, it would have been interesting to see what type of legacy Tyrone Prothro would have left at Alabama had he stayed healthy.

Edge: Notre Dame
 

Tight End:

Alabama's Best: Ozzie Newsome, Howard Cross, Rod Rutledge
Notre Dame's Best: Ken McAfee, Dave Casper, Kyle Rudolph


This one isn't even close despite Newsome being the best overall player at this position on either team. McAfee and Casper are two of the greatest college tight ends in history, while Rudolph's freakish athletic ability made him a special player. Toss in Jim Mutscheller, John Carlson, Tyler Eifert, Irv Smith and Mark Bavaro and the Irish can boast one of the best tight end traditions in the nation.

Edge: Notre Dame
 

Offensive Line:

Alabama's Best: John Hannah, Chris Samuels, Barrett Jones
Notre Dame's Best: George Connor, Bill Fischer, Aaron Taylor

Much like the tight end position, this battle isn't really close. This time, however, it's Alabama that has the distinct advantage. The fact that Dwight Stephenson, Andre Smith, Antoine Caldwell, Billy Neighbors and Chance Warmack aren't one of the best three linemen to play at a school indicates just how elite 'Bama's blocking heritage has been. Strangely enough — and relatively speaking, of course — the Irish have little history of elite offensive linemen. Mirko Jurkovic, Andy Heck and John Scully might not even stack up with even the Mike Johnsons and D.J. Flukers of the Crimson Tide world.

Edge: Alabama 
 

Defensive Line:

Alabama's Best: Leroy Cook, Marty Lyons, Terrance Cody
Notre Dame's Best: Ross Browner, Leon Hart, Justin Tuck

Surprisingly, Alabama's tradition and history along the defensive line is similar to that of Notre Dame's offensive line in that a small number of D-Liners are named amongst the program's all-time best. For example, it is likely that Jesse Williams is one of the top 10 defensive linemen in Capstone history. Lyons and Cook were truly great, and Cody was a monster. Beyond them it is hard to find comparable names. Eric Curry, John Copeland, Marcell Dareus and Mike Pitts were all great players but not Heisman Trophy-type talents. Browner was one of the game's greatest at his position, Hart is still one of just two linemen to win the Heisman Trophy, and Tuck is a physical freak. Toss in Bryant Young, Chris Zorich, Alan Page and Bob Dove, and the Irish get the nod along the defensive frontline. Walt Patulski, Frank Stams, Steve Niehaus and Louis Nix III could also be mentioned among the ND's best — and Stephon Tuitt may only need one more season to prove he belongs as well.

Edge: Notre Dame
 

Linebacker:

Alabama's Best: Derrick Thomas, Cornelius Bennett, Lee Roy Jordan
Notre Dame's Best: Manti Te'o, Jim Lynch, Bob Crable

Alabama's tradition of churning out elite linebackers is downright absurd. DeMeco Ryans, C.J. Mosley, Keith McCants and Dwayne Rudd aren't even in the top 10. Woodrow Lowe, Dont'a Hightower, Rolando McClain and Courtney Upshaw aren't in the top three. Along with offensive line, this position is the strongest historically of the Crimson Tide program. Considering the history at this position, it's no wonder Nick Saban has made a killing recruiting elite tackling prospects. Te'o speaks for himself as one of the better all-around college athletes to ever the play the game. Lynch and Crable are elite in their own right as well. And Bob Golic, Jerry Groom, Michael Stonebreaker and Nick Buoniconti are good players but Notre Dame can't match the rich heritage of Alabama's linebackers.

Edge: Alabama
 

Cornerback:

Alabama's Best: Antonio Langham, Javier Arenas, Jeremiah Castille
Notre Dame's Best: Todd Lyght, Bobby Taylor, Luther Bradley

Langham won the Thorpe Award and led his team to a national title, while Arenas impacted the game in so many different ways. That said, Dee Milliner might be the most complete and talented corner to ever play at Alabama. Dre Kirkpatrick, Kareem Jackson and Don McNeal add quality depth to the cover corner position as well. Notre Dame has had some quality players at cornerback over the years but none are considered amongst the school's all-time greatest players.

Edge: Alabama
 

Safety:

Alabama's Best: Mark Barron, Tommy Wilcox, George Teague
Notre Dame's Best: Mike Townsend, Tom Zbikowski, Dave Duerson

There was talk around the SEC that Barron was the best player in the conference last season — in a year that had nine first-round picks from the SEC. Wilcox is widely regarded as the only other truly great Alabama safety, while others like George Teague and Rashad Johnson were big winners. However, Notre Dame's recent run at safety — Zbikowski and Harrison Smith — give the Irish a very slight edge at the backend of the defense. Dick Lynch and Dave Duerson add quality depth to a position that has been comparatively thin for both programs. Although, both programs have produced some NFL stars in the last few seasons.

Edge: Notre Dame
 

Kickers:

Notre Dame's John Carney vs. Alabama's Leigh Tiffin

Both names dominate their respective record books. Alabama has had a slightly better run of kickers overall (Phillip Doyle, Michael Proctor) than Notre Dame, but Carney went on to become one of the NFL's best for more than two decades. 

Edge: Notre Dame

 

Head Coach:

Alabama's Best: Bear Bryant, Nick Saban, Frank Thomas
Notre Dame's Best: Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian

This is one of the more interesting debates in a historical perspective for both teams. It's tough to argue that Bryant isn't the game's greatest general, however, nearly one third of his 323 wins (91) came during his 13-year coaching tenure prior to getting to Tuscaloosa. And the Notre Dame coaching history has been slightly deeper and more balanced as seven different men won a national title at Notre Dame, while only five did so at Alabama. How do Lou Holtz, Dan Devine and Elmer Layden compare to Wallace Wade and Gene Stallings? Brian Kelly has won titles on every level of his coaching career and has a chance to defeat Saban head-to-head and make it eight coaches to win titles for the Irish. That said, The Bear is the trump card. But this is about as dead even a position battle for these two historic programs. One could also argue that these are the two best collections of head coaches in the nation — which should come as no shock considering these are two of college football's most prestigious programs.

Edge: Alabama

Teaser:
<p> Alabama and Notre Dame: A position-by-position historic comparison</p>
Post date: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/rose-bowl-preview-and-prediction-wisconsin-vs-stanford
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The Grand Daddy of Them All will feature two of the most powerful rushing attacks in the nation when Wisconsin and Stanford meet in the 99th annual Rose Bowl.

Wisconsin earned its third consecutive trip to the Pasadena after upsetting Nebraska in the Big Ten title game. The Badgers will be making their ninth (3-5) Rose Bowl appearance with a familiar face on the sidelines. After Bret Bielema left for Arkansas, athletic director Barry Alvarez announced he would coach the team in the bowl game. It will be his fourth Rose Bowl as head coach at Wisconsin.

Stanford, which is also in its third straight BCS bowl, is playing in its 14th Rose Bowl appearance — good for third all-time tying Washington and Ohio State. However, its last victory in the game came in back-to-back years in 1971 and 1972 over Ohio State and Michigan. The Cardinal are looking for just their second bowl win since 1996 and coach David Shaw is looking for his first as a head coach.

These two historic programs have played five times previously with the Badgers owning a commanding 4-0-1 record against the Cardinal. The last time these two met was the 17-9 Wisconsin win in the 2000 Rose Bowl game, in which Ron Dayne rushed for 200 yards on 34 carries.

Rose Bowl: Wisconsin (8-5) vs. Stanford  (11-2)

Date and Time: Tues., Jan. 1, 5:10 p.m. ET
Network: ESPN
Location: Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)

When Wisconsin has the ball

With or without Bielema or offensive coordinator Matt Canada on the sidelines, the Wisconsin offense will be predicated around the running game. Record-setting tailback Montee Ball has scored more touchdowns than anyone in the history of the sport and will have to be at his best against the mighty Cardinal front seven. He isn’t the only weapon in the backfield for the Badgers, as UW brings one of the deepest and most talented tailback corps in the nation. James White (802 yards, 12 TD) and Melvin Gordon (570 yards, 3 TD) give Ball plenty of time to catch his breath — which he will need.

Stanford led the Pac-12 in rushing defense, sacks, tackles for loss, total defense and scoring defense. In a three game stretch, it allowed three (Cal), minus-18 (Washington State and minus-21 (Colorado) total rushing yards. The veteran Wisconsin offensive line will try to pound the equally talented and experienced Cardinal defensive front. The Badgers O-line is likely the best Stanford has faced all season, and the lawfirm of Skov, Murphy, Thomas, Stephens and Gardner is the best UW will have faced all year. One thing is certain, both sides will need hours in the ice tubs after the game is long over.

The difference for UW will be the play of its quarterback. Redshirt freshman Joel Stave had stabilized the shaky position midway through the season but was lost for the year with a broken collarbone. He is reportedly ahead of schedule and there is an outside chance he could play against Stanford. He gives this offense a second dimension that backup Curt Phillips cannot. Although, Phillips did lead a last second overtime-forcing touchdown drives against both the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions to end the season.

When Stanford has the ball

Stanford’s game plan isn’t all that different from Wisconsin’s. David Shaw also switched quarterbacks this fall, moving his own redshirt freshman into the starting lineup just past the season’s halfway mark. Kevin Hogan flourished under center and proved to be much more effective than Josh Nunes, leading the Cardinal to wins over four consecutive ranked opponents to end the year.

Much like Stave or Phillips for Wisconsin, Hogan will lean heavily on his running game. Stepfan Taylor is one of the most complete backs in the nation, touching the ball 340 times for 1,712 yards from scrimmage this year. He scored in all but three games this fall and has carried the ball at least 17 times in 15 of his last 18 games. He has 10 100-yard efforts in his last 15 games.

Hogan will utilize All-America tight end Zach Ertz as his primary target in an effort to loosen-up an underrated Wisconsin defense. Led by Mike Taylor and Chris Borland at linebacker, this unit finished 13th nationally in total defense (320.9 ypg) and 19th in scoring defense at under just under 20 points per game. The Badgers defense is non-descript but plays fundamentally sound football every time out. 

Final Analysis

These two teams are near mirror images of each other. The Badgers simply lack the overall star power and talent of year’s past while Stanford has half-a-dozen quality NFL defenders. This will be a no-frills, physical slobber-knocker of a game that will be a test of wills. Whoever flinches first, which will be Wisconsin if it cannot find a second dimension in the passing game, will be the loser.

Prediction: Stanford 23, Wisconsin 14


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Teaser:
<p> Rose Bowl Preview and Prediction: Wisconsin vs. Stanford</p>
Post date: Monday, December 31, 2012 - 06:55
Path: /college-football/capital-one-bowl-preview-and-prediction-georgia-vs-nebraska
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The 67th annual Capital One Bowl — which has gone by many names — is one of the oldest running non-BCS bowls in the country. Both Georgia, which is making its sixth appearance in the game, and Nebraska, which is making its third showing in the bowl, are familiar with the Orlando, Fla., based contest.

The Cornhuskers will be making their second consecutive trip to the Citrus Bowl after losing to South Carolina 30-13 on New Year’s Day last season. The Big Red is 24-24 in 48 total bowl games and is looking for its first bowl win since 2009 (Holiday Bowl). Head coach Bo Pelini is 3-2 in bowl games.

Mark Richt at Georgia is 7-4 all-time in bowl games with his Bulldogs and is also looking for his first postseason win since 2009. The Dawgs were outlasted in a memorable Outback Bowl loss to Michigan State last winter.

Both of these teams won their division and then lost in their respective conference championship game. Both teams have double-digit wins and both teams should be disappointed (possibly, for different reasons) for not landing in a BCS bowl. The Dawgs were five yards away from a trip to the National Championship game.

These two historic programs have met just once before in history. Tom Osborne was in his first season as the offensive coordinator when his Huskers pounded Georgia 45-6 in the 1969 Sun Bowl.

Capital One Bowl: Nebraska (10-3) vs. Georgia (11-2)

Date and Time: Tues., Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET
Network: ABC
Location: Citrus Bowl (Orlando, Fla.)

When Nebraska has the ball

Taylor Martinez matured into one of the nation’s best quarterbacks this fall. He led the Big Ten in both passing efficiency (142.32) and total offense (280.0 ypg). He led high-profile comebacks with both his legs and arm in key situations all season long for the Big Red. Rex Burkhead is back healthy for the final game of his career and the speedy Ameer Abdullah give Pelini three outstanding options in the ground game.

All of Nebraska’s weapons will be needed if it expects to move the ball on the Dawgs' nasty defense. Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree lead a stacked linebacking corps that perfectly fits Todd Grantham’s 3-4 scheme. Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo are as hard-hitting and talented a safety duo as there is in the nation. Georgia's defensive line suffered a huge (literally) loss when nose tackle John Jenkins was ruled ineligible in late December. With Jenkins out, Georgia will need a big game from Kwame Geathers.

As usual with Nebraska, Martinez will have to make big play with his improvisation skills, as well as throw on time and in rhythm. This will be a huge test for the Big Ten’s top offense.

When Georgia has the ball

Just like the Big Red, Georgia has its own three-headed monster in the backfield. Aaron Murray is one of the top quarterbacks in the nation and is approaching career SEC passing records. He will turn to a pair of freshman tailbacks to loosen up the defense. Todd Gurley finished second in the SEC in rushing (96.9 ypg) and scored 16 times on the ground, while Keith Marshall posted 723 yards and eight touchdowns on his own this year. With the injuries at wide receiver Georgia has dealt with, fans can bet the running game will be the focal point of Richt’s offense. Especially, considering what Wisconsin did to the Blackshirts defense in the Big Ten championship game

Nebraska entered the regular season finale with the No. 15-rated total defense in the nation by allowing just 318.3 yards per game. It was giving up 22.9 points per game. But the defense was abused to the tune of 539 yards rushing and 70 points in the biggest game of the season. Safety Daimion Stafford, end Eric Martin and middle linebacker Will Compton give Pelini experience and talent on all three levels. But if this group doesn’t play its best, the Georgia running game will dominate the game.

Final Analysis

Nebraska was poised for its first conference championship since 1999 before the complete letdown in Indianapolis. A loss to Georgia would give every Pelini team in Lincoln exactly four losses. Richt lost in the SEC championship for the second straight season, but this one stung much worse with the clock running out inside the Alabama 10-yard line. The Dawgs are the more talented team, so if it can re-motivate itself after exerting so much energy in the loss to the Crimson Tide, it will win. If not, Nebraska has the offensive firepower to pull the upset.

Prediction: Georgia 35, Nebraska 21


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Teaser:
<p> Capital One Bowl Preview and Prediction: Georgia vs. Nebraska</p>
Post date: Monday, December 31, 2012 - 06:45
Path: /college-football/college-football-betting-against-spread-2012-bowl-games
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For entertainment purposes only, Athlon brings you the top college football picks against the spread. It does not condone, approve or encourage gambling on sports in any way. But if you are a fan of football — college or pro — and you don't think gambling has played a huge role in the growth and popularity of the sport, then you are simply being ignorant. And behind closed doors, the powers that be understand the impact betting has had on the game of football. So just for fun, here are some of the more intriguing lines of the 2012 bowl season.

2012 Record Against The Spread: 54-34

Note: All lines are as of date of publication

Louisville (+13.5) at Florida (Sugar Bowl) Jan. 2
Charlie Strong's personal goals against his former team can only carry this team so far before this showcase becomes an 11-1 SEC team and one that lost to UConn. As many as half of a dozen Gators could be auditioning for the pro scouts as well. The talent differential between these two is nearly as great as the Orange Bowl. Will Muschamp knows a great showing in this game springboards his offense into a critical offseason. Prediction: Florida -13.5

Alabama (-10) at Notre Dame (BCS National Championship) Jan. 7
The last three BCS National Championship games that featured point-spreads of at least seven were outright upsets. Ohio State defeated Miami as a 12.5-point underdog in 2002, Texas beat USC as a 7-point dog and Florida upset Ohio State after the Buckeyes opened as a 9.5-point favorite. I am not calling for the outright win, but Notre Dame matches-up perfectly with Alabama and has all the talent to play the Tide tight. Look for a close, low-scoring game in which AJ McCarron and Amari Cooper will have to make one big play late in the fourth to win. Prediction: Notre Dame +10

Wisconsin (+6.5) at Stanford (Rose Bowl) Jan. 1
These two teams are carbon copies of each other a few small yet significant differences. Both teams run the ball effectively with powerful offensive lines and a heavy dose of the tight end position. And both teams play solid defense against the run and force inefficient play from the quarterback. That said, the Cardinal have a huge advantage at the quarterback position (Kevin Hogan over Curt Phillips) and in the front seven. While the Badgers are fundamentally sound and have solid toughness, it has little star power and big-play potential. The Cardinal could have upwards of four or five NFL players near the line of scrimmage and it leads the nation in big plays (sacks and TFLs per game). Prediction: Stanford -6.5

Mississippi State (-2) at Northwestern (Gator Bowl) Jan. 1
Pat Fitzgerald has his best rushing attack of his seven-year tenure in Evanston. Kain Colter and Venric Mark were virtually unstoppable this season at churning out yards. He has led his alma mater to unprecedented levels of success, reaching the postseason for the fifth time — but has yet to break through with a win. Look for the Bulldogs defense that allowed 203.6 yards rushing per game over its final five. Prediction: Northwestern +2

NC State (+7) at Vanderbilt (Music City Bowl) Dec. 31
Bowl games are virtually impossible to gauge in terms of motivation and focus. But this moment seems bigger than just one game for James Franklin and the Vanderbilt Commodores. And everyone in Nashville knows it. This game in this town in Year 2 of an exciting new program on West End will be too much for a team going through a regime change and a quarterback looking to impress NFL scouts. Take the Dores to get a monumental win for its program in its home town. Prediction: Vanderbilt -7

Teaser:
<p> College Football Betting Against the Spread: 2012 Bowl Games</p>
Post date: Monday, December 31, 2012 - 06:05
Path: /college-football/heart-dallas-bowl-preview-and-prediction-oklahoma-state-vs-purdue
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Purdue won three straight Big Ten games to get bowl eligible for the second season in row. Despite accomplishing at least six wins in back-to-back years for the first time since 2006-2007, the Boilermakers sent their head coach, Danny Hope, packing in favor of former Kent State head man Darrell Hazell. Former wide receivers coach Patrick Higgins will act as the interim leader for the bowl trip.

While the Boilermakers are in a state of transition, Oklahoma State is extremely stable on the sidelines. Despite five losses this year, Mike Gundy has the Cowboys achieving at unprecedented levels. The Pokes are heading to their program record seventh straight bowl game (4-2) and haven’t missed the postseason since Gundy’s first season in Stillwater.

The only meeting in the history of two programs took place in the 1997 Alamo Bowl. Joe Tiller’s Purdue squad handled Bob Simmons’ Oklahoma State team 33-20 in San Antonio behind 325 yards passing from quarterback Billy Dicken.

Heart of Dallas Bowl: Oklahoma State (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6)

Date and Time: Jan. 1, at Noon ET
Network: ESPNU
Location: Cotton Bowl (Dallas, Texas)           

When the Oklahoma State Cowboys have the ball

Despite losing superstars at quarterback and wide receiver, the 2012 Cowboys featured their typical high-powered offense. Whether J.W. Walsh, Wes Lunt or Clint Chelf is under center, the Pokes are going to move the ball. At 44.7 points per game, Oklahoma State paced the offensive-minded Big 12 again this year. In fact, Gundy had three different players throw for at least 1,000 yards with Chelf getting the majority of the snaps in the final five games. 

Tailback Joseph Randle (1,351 yards, 14 TD) is the go-to talent on offense this year and will likely get his two-dozen touches (23.8) in this game. Josh Stewart is the top target in the passing game, catching nearly 100 passes for 1,154 yards and seven scores. The Boilermakers struggled to get stops all season, finishing 11th in the Big Ten in total defense and 10th in rushing defense, so look for Gundy to put the pedal down early and often.

When the Purdue Boilermakers have the ball

The revolving door at quarterback for Oklahoma State is nothing like what Purdue has dealt with the last few seasons. Caleb TerBush was lost for the year with three games to play and Robert Marve, who missed all of 2010 as well as three games early in both 2011 and 2012, took over the reins of the offense. He struggled in wins over Iowa and Illinois but had arguably the best game of his career in the season finale, throwing for 348 yards and four touchdowns.

Oklahoma State didn’t finish the year on a high note defensively, as it allowed 92 points in losses to Oklahoma and Baylor. But the Cowboys entered the final two weeks ranked fifth in the Big 12 in total defense at 388.2 yards per game and fifth in scoring defense at 26.1 points per game — which is more than acceptable with their offense. So the final numbers got skewed by two of the better offenses in the nation.

That said, this team led the nation in turnovers forced a year ago (44) but is 90th this year with just 17 takeaways. Against a revolving door at quarterback, Gundy has to view this bowl game as an opportunity for his sagging defense to make plays.

Final Analysis

Six different quarterbacks have played for these two programs this season. But one team has three quality options while the other may have none. One program has arguably the most successful coach in school history and a scheme that appears infallible on offense. Purdue has an interim head coach who handled the wide receivers this year. The Boilermakers will find it tough to keep pace with Gundy’s high-flying offense. Which is likely why the 16-point spread is one of the largest of the bowl season.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 42, Purdue 20
 

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Teaser:
<p> Heart of Dallas Bowl Preview and Prediction: Oklahoma State vs. Purdue</p>
Post date: Monday, December 31, 2012 - 06:01
Path: /college-basketball/5-amazing-college-basketball-stats-week-dec-24-dec-31
Body:

With 347 Division I teams, following college basketball can be overwhelming. Let Athlon Sports start your college hoops week each Monday with a look at some of the most intriguing, most important and most interesting stats from around the sport:

47.8: Kentucky's free throw percentage against Louisville
The Wildcats used a furious 28-14 run late in the second half to cut a Louisville lead to 65-62 in the waning moments of the Bluegrass showdown. But Russ Smith (21 points, 7 rebounds), Chane Behanan (20 pts, 7 rebs) and the Cardinals held on for a intrastate win over rival Kentucky. A big reason John Calapari's team couldn't pull off the win was its performance from the free throw line: The Cats went 11-of-23 (47.8 percent) from the  line and it likely cost Big Blue Nation the win. Louisville wasn't tremendous from the line either — 17-of-25 for 68 percent — but was good enough to get a bragging rights win over a ranked Kentucky team. Rick Pitino got a big piece of his national championship puzzle back as well, as center Gorgui Dieng returned from wrist surgery. He was 3-of-4 from the floor for six points to go with seven rebounds and a pair of blocks.

17: UNLV turnovers against North Carolina
Without second-leading scorer Reggie Bullock (13.1 ppg), who sat out after suffering a concussion in practice Thursday, the Tar Heels earned a signature non-conference win. And it came at just the right time as North Carolina enters ACC play against Virginia on Jan. 6. Roy Williams' team has played inefficient basketball of late, especially on the defensive end (see the second half of the East Carolina game). But against the ranked Rebels, the Tar Heels forced 17 turnovers and shot better than 50 percent from the floor to avoid their fourth loss in nine games. After poor showings against potential NCAA Tournament foes Indiana, Butler and Texas, Williams' squad will enter conference play with some much needed confidence — and its first signature win of the season.

42: Tyler Haws points scored against Virginia Tech
BYU entered the weekend with four losses, all against quality power conference teams (Florida State, Notre Dame, Iowa State and Baylor). BYU's final non-conference game against Virginia Tech gave the Cougars a chance at an NCAA resume-building win, and Haws, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, took full advantage of the situation. He scored a career-high 42 points on 14-of-25 shooting, including six of his eight 3-point attempts. Haws was also 8-of-9 from the free throw line and turned the ball over once. The 28-point rout of the Hokies (9-4) gives BYU (10-4) its best win of the season as it enters West Coast play. Hokies star Erick Green was held to 12 points on 4-of-17 shooting.

Plus-11: Turnover margin for UCLA over Missouri
Star point guard Phil Pressey set an SEC record with 19 assists in the Friday night overtime affair in Pauley Pavilion against UCLA. But in the final four minutes of regulation and overtime, Pressey was 0-of-3 from the floor and turned the ball over four times. After his 3-of-19 shooting performance in the win over Illinois last weekend, the Mizzou floor leader missed another 14 shots (8-of-22), this time in a loss. UCLA has struggled all season and coach Ben Howland desperately needed the win and it was likely the turnover margin that was the difference for his squad over the Tigers. Both teams scored 47 points in the first half and 41 in the second and both teams dished out 21 assists. Mizzou attempted 80 shots and committed 17 fouls while UCLA took 79 shots and committed 16 fouls. It was an evenly played game with one glaring exception: UCLA turned the ball over six times in 45 minutes while the Tigers gave the ball up 17 times, including Pressey's four giveaways in the final nine minutes.

20-20: Jerrelle Benimon became the first member of 20-20 club this season
Towson's 6-foot-8 junior became the first player this season to score at least 20 points and grab at least 20 rebounds in a single game. Benimon (20 points, 21 rebounds) was 8-of-16 from the floor and helped defeat Oregon State 67-66 in overtime in Corvallis. The Tigers, who were 1-31 last season, overcame a 19-point second-half deficit to give Oregon State coach Craig Robinson a crushing home defeat when junior Marcus Damas knocked down a game-winning 18-footer with eight-tenths of a second remaining on the clock. The Beavers are 27-45 in conference play overall and have lost at least 10 league games in each of Robinson's four seasons. At 9-3, another one of those Pac-12 season's would not only seal OSU's postseason fate but possibly the head coach's as well.

Teaser:
<p> 5 Amazing College Basketball Stats of the Week: Dec. 24-Dec. 31</p>
Post date: Monday, December 31, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /nfl/amazing-stats-nfl-sunday-week-17
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NFL football is the greatest reality TV program of all time. The Giants and Colts made sure of that back in 1958. Each NFL fall weekend is a completely new and original experience for every player, fan and coach alike. New stories, new personalities, new winners and new losers. And new statistics.

Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from Week 17 of NFL play:

0-11: Texans record all-time in Indianapolis
The Colts welcomed back head coach Chuck Pagano in style with a physical 28-16 win over the Texans. Houston has now played 11 games in the Midwestern city and has lost every time. This one, however, might be the most costly, as the Texans dropped from the No. 1 seed in the AFC and home field advantage throughout the playoffs to the No. 3 seed and a first round rematch from last year with the Cincinnati Bengals. After starting the year 11-1, Houston enters the postseason having lost three of its last four games — all to playoff teams (New England, Minnesota, Indianapolis). Andrew Luck threw for 191 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers in the win. He finished his rookie NFL season with a rookie record 4,374 yards, 23 passing touchdowns, 255 yards rushing (second in the AFC by a QB) and five more touchdowns on the ground. Most importantly, the Colts went from 2-14 to 11-5 in one season and will now face the Ravens in the first round of the AFC playoffs. Baltimore has lost four of its last five games and Luck is only beginning his legacy in Indy. 

2,097: Adrian Peterson's No. 2 all-time rushing total
Adrian Peterson simply ran out of time. And that is okay by him and the rest of the Purple People Eaters in the Twin Cities. All-Day Peterson became just the seventh player to rush for 2,000 yards as he fell just nine yards shy of the all-time NFL record set nearly 30 years ago by Eric Dickerson (2,105). But his 199-yard performance carried the Vikings into the postseason in thrilling fashion. In the final seconds, A.D. showed why he is the best running back of this generation as he rumbled 27 yards on his career-high 34th carry of the game one year to the day after his reconstructive knee surgery to set-up the game winning and postseason clinching field goal. I don't care what took place in Green Bay, Denver or New England this season, Adrian Peterson is the Most Valuable Player in the NFL.

6: First- or second-year QBs in the playoffs this year
Andy Dalton, Christian Ponder and Colin Kaepernick are in their second seasons in the NFL and all three have led their team to the postseason. Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson — who finished with a franchise single-season QB rating record of 100.0 — are rookies and have led their teams to the postseason. A lot has been made of this rookie class as no postseason tournament has seen this many rookies, but the second-year guys need to be given just as much credit. Certainly, Ponder had All-Day running the ball for him and Kaepernick didn't even start until midway through the year, but this is already Dalton's second trip to the playoffs, and the 2011 QB class gets overlooked. The last two quarterback classes have been special — and Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Brandon Weeden, Nick Foles and Ryan Tannehill all look like starters next season as well. 

1,613: Alfred Morris franchise single-season rushing record
The Redskins will make the playoffs on the back of its stellar rookie quarterbacks — yes, Kirk Cousins gets plenty of credit for helping Griffin III get Washington back to the postseason. But the star of the NFC East clinching victory over Dallas was the sixth round rookie from FAU Alfred Morris. The first-year back rushed 33 times for 200 yards and three touchdowns to not only clinch a playoff spot but also pass Clinton Portis' single-season Redskins' rushing record. Morris' 1,613 yards rank third all-time by a rookie (Dickerson owns that one too: 1,808 yards in 1983) and he continues Mike Shanahan's legacy of finding workhorse backs late in the draft. He was the 12th running back taken in the 2012 NFL Draft and was the 173rd overall pick.

5: Teams to have made the playoffs after starting 3-6
Speaking of Shanahan, the Skins lost to Carolina at home in ugly fashion in Week 9. Washington was heading into the bye week and the head coach let his feelings fly in the post-game press conference, verbally eliminating his team from postseason play. Since Shanahan's rant, Washington hasn't lost a game and improbably won the NFC East title. Jacksonville (1996), Detroit (1995), New England (1994) and Cincinnati (1970) are the only other teams in NFL history to have started the season with six losses in their first nine games and then gone on to make the playoffs. Griffin III is a transcendent talent whose leadership and maturity is quickly growing into legendary proportions in the greater D.C. area. But this was a team effort all the way and Shanahan — a two-time Super Bowl Champion — deserves a lot of credit for pulling the right strings.

12: Straight combined wins for Seattle and Washington
Two of the three hottest teams in the league will meet in Washington D.C. next weekend when the Seahawks visit the Redskins. Both have coaches who have won multiple championships (in college or the NFL). Both have rookie starting quarterbacks and big, physical running backs. And both are riding winning streaks of at least five games. Seattle has the third longest active streak at five wins in a row after its victory over the pesky Rams. The Redskins have the second-longest active streak with seven straight wins. So something has to give next weekend. And who has the longest active winning streak in the league? That would belong to the AFC's top seeded Denver Broncos as they quietly won their 11th straight game on Sunday. 

727: Matthew Stafford NFL record for passing attempts in a season
In the modern era of the NFL, it's almost shocking that Matthew Stafford became the first player in NFL history to attempt at least 700 passes in a season. He flew past the previous record set by Drew Bledsoe in 1994 of 691 early in the season-ending loss to the Bears. Stafford also sits at No. 4 in the record books with his 663 attempts last season. The huge difference between last year and this for the Lions signal caller? Detroit lost its last eight games to finish 4-12 after what appeared to be a breakthrough 10-win postseason appearance last year. Calvin Johnson, the lone bright spot, finished with five catches for 72 yards to come up just shy of becoming the first player to post 2,000-yards receiving in a single year. He finished his record setting season with an league-leading 122 catches and all-time single-season record 1,964 yards.

4: Titans NFL record return touchdowns against the Jaguars
Neither the Titans of Jaguars fans have had much to cheer about this season. In a bizarre season finale, these two teams combined for eight total touchdowns, only three of which came on offense. Tennessee tied an NFL record with four return touchdowns as Zach Brown returned two interceptions for scores (79 yards, 30 yards) and Darius Reynaud returned two punts for touchdowns (69 yards, 81 yards). No team in the history of the NFL scored four straight touchdowns via the return as the Titans did and only the Seattle Seahawks in 1984 against Kansas City had scored four return touchdowns in a single game. To top it all off, the Jags also scored on a blocked punt returned for a touchdown. The Titans scored 38 points with just 221 yards of total offense.

Teaser:
<p> Amazing Stats from NFL Sunday: Week 17</p>
Post date: Monday, December 31, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/kraft-fight-hunger-bowl-preview-and-prediction-arizona-state-vs-navy
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The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl will feature a service academy surging after winning seven of its last eight and a Pac-12 program with a first-year coach and new identity. The meeting between Navy and Arizona State in this bowl game will mark the first time these two programs have played.

The Midshipmen had been to eight straight bowls, four under head coach Ken Niumatalolo, before missing out on the postseason last fall. Niumatalolo is looking the second bowl win of his six-year Navy career.

The trip to the Bay Area marks just the second bowl trip for the Sun Devils since 2007 (2011 Las Vegas Bowl). First-year head coach Todd Graham will be looking to get ASU into the postseason win column for the first time since a 2005 win over Rutgers in the Insight Bowl.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Navy (8-4) vs. Arizona State (7-5)

Date and Time: Sat., Dec. 29, 4 p.m.
Network: ESPN2
Location: AT&T Park (San Francisco, Calif.)

When Navy has the ball

It is no secret what Navy will attempt to do on offense. The patented triple option offense has long been a staple in Annapolis. However, the entire season turned when Nashville native Keenan Reynolds took over the reins of the offense. Navy was 1-3 with 17 total points scored against FBS competition when the hard-working, savvy freshman got the call against Air Force. He stepped in late against the Falcons, led the Middies to an overtime win and then proceeded to go 6-1 as a starter down the stretch.

Trying to pinpoint who to stop on any given play is a crap shoot. Gee Gee Greene carried 108 times, Noah Copeland rushed 152 times and Reynolds ran the ball 140 times. The trio combined for 2,084 yards and 18 touchdowns this year. Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Will Sutton and the Sun Devils defense will have their hands (and head) full with the option.

The Sun Devils rushing defense allowed more than 200 yards gained (before sacks) on seven different occasions this fall, including 428 to Oregon and 335 to Arizona. Navy was sixth nationally at 275.6 yards on the ground per game but averaged a hearty 332 yards per game over its last five contests. The key for the Navy option attack, however, might be Reynolds ability to loosen the ASU front seven with his arm.

When Arizona State has the ball

Led by sophomore Taylor Kelly, the Devils offense topped the 37-point mark seven times this season, including the last two weekends of the regular season. Kelly, at times, was a revelation finishing third in a QB-heavy league in passing efficiency and fourth in total offense (2,772 passing, 435 rushing). Other times, he looked like a first-year starter (Oregon, USC).

With a host of dynamic and explosive skill players, Kelly should be able to find ways to distribute the ball. Four different players rushed between 435 and 524 yards. Cameron Marshall led the team in rushing (524 yards) while Marion Grice led the team in scoring (8 rushing TD, 9 receiving TD). But electric freshman D.J. Foster might be the most talented of the bunch. He had 492 yards rushing and 522 yards receiving to go with six touchdowns. All three will get touches and all three will be used all over the field.

Navy’s defensive numbers, having played two triple option attacks, are a bit off. The rushing defense ranks 78th nationally but that number is buoyed by 733 yards by Air Force and Army. They allowed just 140.3 yards per game on the ground. The passing defense was exposed a bit, however, as Troy, Penn State, San Jose State and Texas State took advantage through the air. It will need to be a complete effort from Matt Warrick, Tra’Ves Bush and Keegan Wetzel.

Final Analysis

Navy has struggled against quality opponents this season, losing to Notre Dame, Penn State, San Jose State and Troy. It defeated only one team with a winning record (East Carolina) and will struggle to match up with the speed and burst of Arizona State’s offensive skill players. Like with any triple option, if ASU plays fundamentally sound gap defense, it should be able to control the line of scrimmage — and the final outcome.

Prediction: Arizona State 34, Navy 20


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Teaser:
<p> Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Preview and Prediction: Arizona State vs. Navy</p>
Post date: Friday, December 28, 2012 - 06:57
Path: /college-football/meineke-car-care-bowl-texas-preview-and-prediction-texas-tech-vs-minnesota
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From 1999 to 2009, Minnesota played in nine bowl games. But after two coaching changes and no postseason berths since, Jerry Kill has his Golden Gophers back in the postseason. The Big Ten program hasn’t won a postseason game, however, since a 2004 Music City Bowl victory over Alabama.

Texas Tech went to 11 straight bowls, including four straight New Year’s Day games, before missing the postseason in 2011. Tommy Tuberville led the Red Raiders back to the postseason this fall in his third year in Lubbock. There’s only one issue, however, as Tuberville is now the head coach at Cincinnati.

Former Tech quarterback Kliff Kingsbury (1998-2002) takes over as the head coach after leading Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies offense this season. Offensive line coach Chris Thomsen will act as interim head coach for the bowl game.

These two programs have met only once before in history, but this won’t be the first time they have squared off in the postseason. In 2006, Graham Harrell threw for 445 yards in a 44-41 overtime victory by the Red Raiders in the Insight Bowl.

Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl: Minnesota (6-6) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)

Date and Time: Fri., Dec. 28, 9 p.m.
Network: ESPN
Location: Reliant Stadium (Houston, Texas)

When the Minnesota Golden Gophers have the ball:

Team MVP MarQueis Gray can do a little bit of everything and this will be his final game in a Gophers uniform. He began the season as the starting quarterback before an ankle injury sidelined him for nearly three full games. He returned under center for one contest before Kill made the official switch to Philip Nelson. Gray is a tremendous athlete who passed for 464 yards, rushed for 331 and caught 12 passes for 121 yards as a receiver. He accounted for 10 touchdowns and will undoubtedly be used in a variety of ways in his Minnesota finale.

Nelson battled with Max Shortell for snaps at quarterback late in the year but neither was very effective. Nelson threw five interceptions in his last two starts of the season, while Shortell completed 5-of-11 passes for 62 yards and one pick. Shortell decided to transfer after the regular season, which leaves Nelson and Gray likely to share the quarterback duties in this game. Look for Red Raiders defensive end Kerry Hyder (13.5 TFL, 5 sacks) to tee off against the Minnesota O-Line.

Tailback Donnell Kirkwood will be asked to lead the offense, but the running game has to improve from how it ended the season. Minnesota totaled four yards rushing in the loss to Michigan State and 87 against Nebraska the week before that. Tech is allowing over 30 points and over 170 yards rushing per game, so Kirkwood has to give Kill balance if they want to win their first bowl in nearly a decade.

When the Texas Tech Red Raiders have the ball

Texas Tech’s offense should be the most productive unit on the field for either team. Quarterback Seth Doege is just 66 yards away from his second consecutive 4,000-yard season and his 38 passing touchdowns are second nationally to only Geno Smith’s 40. He will look to a pair of talented pass-catchers — Eric Ward and Darrin Moore — to stretch the field on offense. The duo combined for 156 catches, 1,922 and 24 touchdowns. Kill’s Gophers rank 11th nationally in pass defense (178.5 yards per game) and 20th in pass efficiency defense, so this game should feature strength on strength.

A young and talented defensive line is what gives the Gophers a chance to compete. D.L. Wilhite (11.0 TFL, 8.5 sacks) and Ra’Shede Hageman (6.5 TFL, 5 sacks) form a dynamic duo up front for Minnesota that Texas Tech will have to account for it wants to keep Doege upright.

Final Analysis

Minnesota struggled mightily on offense all season but finished the season in even worse fashion. The Gophers scored no more than 17 points in any of its final four games and posted their two worst yardage outputs of the year in the last two games (177 yards and 96 yards). If Tech can neutralize the Minnesota front line, Doege should be able to find open receivers and the Red Raiders will approach its per game average of 37.8 points per game. This is why the Tech is a two-touchdown favorite.

Prediction: Texas Tech 31, Minnesota 14


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Teaser:
<p> Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas Preview and Prediction: Texas Tech vs. Minnesota</p>
Post date: Friday, December 28, 2012 - 06:47
Path: /college-football/alamo-bowl-preview-and-prediction-oregon-state-vs-texas
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For the sixth time in the 20-year history of the bowl, and for the first time since 2008, the Alamo Bowl will feature two ranked teams. Mike Riley led Oregon State back to the postseason after a two-year bowl hiatus. This will be the 14th bowl game in Beavers history and Riley is responsible for seven of them. He is a sterling 5-1 in postseason play. Oregon State lost to BYU in the 2009 Las Vegas Bowl the last time it earned a bowl berth.

Mack Brown is 9-4 in bowl games at Texas, including a victory over Cal in the Holiday Bowl last season. The 2012 Alamo Bowl will be the third meeting between the Beavers and Longhorns with Texas holding a 2-0 series record. Both meeting took place in Austin and during the 80s — and UT won by a combined 96-16.

The No. 13 Beavers and No. 23 Longhorns will do their best to build on the record-setting 2011 Alamo Bowl. Baylor topped Washington 67-56 in the record-setting performance last postseason, in which the two teams combined for a bowl game record 1,397 yards.

Alamo Bowl: Oregon State (9-3) vs. Texas (8-4)

Date and Time: Sat., Dec. 29, 6:45 p.m.
Network: ESPN
Location: Alamodome (San Antonio, Texas)

When Oregon State has the ball

Riley had a tough call to make midway through the season when starting quarterback Sean Mannion injured his knee and missed a couple of games. Cody Vaz filled in admirably but some believe that Mannion was rushed back into the starting lineup. He struggled against Washington and Oregon (8 total INTs) but rounded into form by finishing his regular season with a 20-of-23, 231-yard, 2-TD performance against Nicholls State. Riley picked Vaz to start the bowl game, but Mannion could see time if Vaz struggles. 

Look for Vaz to utilize a pair of electric pass catchers in Markus Wheaton (88 rec., 1,207 yards, 11 TD) and Brandin Cooks (64 rec., 1,120 yards, 5 TD). Texas has elite athletes in the secondary but its pass defense was exposed at times this year. Texas allowed over 300 yards passing four times in conference play this year.

One way Brown can help his secondary is to get pressure on Vaz with his front seven. End Alex Okafor, who led the team in sacks (8.0) and tackles for a loss (11.5), and rising superstar linebacker Steve Edmond will be asked to disrupt the talented but youthful Oregon State offensive line. The Beavers counter with running back Storm Woods, who scored five times and caught 12 passes in the final three games of the season.

An intriguing storyline to watch when OSU is on offense? Okafor and Woods were teammates at Austin area Pflugerville High School.

When Texas has the ball

David Ash will be the starter under center for Texas, and his play will go a long way to determining the Horns fate in this game. The Horns were 6-1 this year when he didn’t throw an interception and were 2-2 when he did. He didn’t play in the season finale against Kansas State due to injury. Case McCoy (314 yards, 2 TD against KSU) is suspended for the Alamo Bowl, so Ash will has a lot of pressure on his shoulders to produce on Saturday night.

The names to watch for Texas on offense, however, will be a pair of electric freshman. Running back Johnathan Gray led the team in rushing after finishing with 94.8 yards from scrimmage over his last five games. All-purpose dynamo Daje Johnson will get a few carries as a runner but will also be a pass-catching threat. He set career highs for catches and yards (5 rec., 85 yards) in the season finale and can score any time he touches the ball. Malcolm Brown (316 yards, 4 TD) and Joe Bergeron (565 yards, 16 TD) should also expect to see plenty of work as well.

The Beavers defense was one of the nation's most improved units from 2011. Oregon State finished last in the Pac-12 in rushing defense and turnover margin and allowed over 30 points per game a year ago. This fall, Riley’s defense was 28th nationally in stopping the run, was second in the league in turnover margin and held opponents to less than 20 points per game. A big part of the Beavers 19 interceptions, which ranked sixth nationally, was the play of All-America cornerback Jordan Poyer (7 INT). He and All-Pac-12 lineman Scott Crichton (17.0 TFL, 9.0 sacks) form one of the best defensive duos in the nation.

Final Analysis

One team has underachieved with a roster chalked full of five-star talent. The other has overachieved with excellent coaching and a fundamentally sound gameplan. The crowd should be tilted heavily towards the home-state Longhorns, but the Beavers are the much more disciplined team. They will take advantage of any mistakes Ash makes. It won’t be as high-scoring as last year’s Alamo Bowl, but it could be just as competitive.

Prediction: Oregon State 27, Texas 24


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Teaser:
<p> Alamo Bowl Preview and Prediction: Oregon State vs. Texas</p>
Post date: Friday, December 28, 2012 - 06:45
Path: /college-basketball/5-amazing-college-basketball-stats-week-dec-17-23
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With 347 Division I teams, following college basketball can be overwhelming. Let Athlon Sports start your college hoops week each Monday with a look at some of the most intriguing, most important and most interesting stats from around the sport:

15-for-15: Khalif Wyatt from the free throw line against Syracuse
The biggest win of the weekend came from  Temple over undefeated No. 3 Syracuse in the World's Most Famous Arena. The crowd at Madison Square Garden watched the Owls outlast the Orange down the stretch with clutch free throw shooting. Wyatt was the game's top scorer with 33 points, with 15 of those coming from the free-throw line. He didn't miss a freebie all game, including 6-for-6 in the final 56 seconds. The win marked the fifth consecutive season in which Temple has defeated a top-10 team.

25: Career-high points by Derrick Nix in the win over Texas
Michigan State's senior center was the star of the show in Saturday's win over feisty Texas. He scored career-high 25 points on 7-of-10 shooting. He also added 11 rebounds and providing four steals. How much was this game a departure from Nix's career production? This was his 13th game of the season, and he had scored in double figures just twice with a high of 11 against mighty Tuskegee. In 116 career games for Michigan State, he had scored in double figures 16 times before going off against the 'Horns. He averaged 7.5 points per game for the year before the offensive explosion. As a side note, the biggest news of the hoops weekend came when the NCAA announced a 23-game suspension for Texas guard Myck Kabongo. The suspension was reduced from a season-long ban only after the Longhorns appealed. He will return Feb. 13 against Iowa State, giving him eight regular season games of conference play and plenty of time to earn key wins for the Longhorns. In addition to the Cyclones, Texas will play NCAA Tournament contenders Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor after Kabongo's return.

5: Unbeaten teams remaining
Entering Saturday, eight undefeated teams remained in college basketball. Five are left standing. New Mexico lost at home to Nate Wolters-led South Dakota State. Syracuse lost to Temple at the Garden. And Illinois lost to rival Missouri before a raucous crowd in St. Louis. Some of the remaining undefeated teams are not total surprises: Athlon tabbed Duke and Arizona as favorites in their respective conferences, for example. But if you had Cincinnati (Big East), Wyoming (Mountain West) and Michigan (Big Ten) as the last unbeaten teams in their respective leagues at Christmas, then you would have won some serious money. (Note: Arizona tipped at 11:30 p.m. Eastern on Saturday against Miami in the Diamond Head Classic.)

1-for-17: Phil Pressey in the first 39:26 against Illinois
Part of the reason the Fighting Illini are no longer unbeaten is because of Missouri guard Phil Pressey, but not his scoring. Pressey did his best John Starks impersonation, starting 1-for-17 from the field against Illinois before making two layups in the final 34 seconds. Yet, in front of a raucous split crowd in St. Louis, the Mizzou floor leader stuffed the stat sheet with 11 assists (against four turnovers), seven rebounds and was 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. And he scored a key layup with 34 seconds left in a five-point game. Laurence Bowers (23 points, 11 rebounds) and Alex Oriakhi (13 points, 14 rebounds) give this team plenty of size — and national championship experience — so if Pressey develops into the nation's best point guard (which he might already be), this Tigers team will make a run at a Final Four. 

40: Points per game for UCLA freshmen Jordan Adams and Shabazz Muhammad
In the six power conferences, Muhammad leads freshmen in scoring at 18.8 points per game in nine games with the Bruins. Adams is No. 2 among all power conference freshmen with 18.2 per game. Ben Howland's team has no excuse for what happened against Cal Poly and is still working on developing team chemistry. But losses to Georgetown and San Diego State will be nothing to be ashamed of come Selection Sunday. That said, a huge home game with Missouri kicks off the tough part of the season on Dec. 28. Has the remarkable scoring by the freshmen been a preview of more to come or will conference play and the grind of big-time college hoops slow the dynamic duo down? Additionally, Jahii Carson (17.9 ppg) of Arizona State is third among all power conference freshmen, giving the Pac-12 the three highest-scoring major-conference freshmen in the nation. So they have that going for them.

Teaser:
<p> 5 Amazing College Basketball Stats of the Week: Dec. 17-23</p>
Post date: Monday, December 24, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /nfl/amazing-stats-nfl-sunday-week-16
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NFL football is the greatest reality TV program of all time. The Giants and Colts made sure of that back in 1958. Each NFL fall weekend is a completely new and original experience for every player, fan and coach alike. New stories, new personalities, new winners and new losers. And new statistics.

Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from Week 16 of NFL play:

81: Two words: Calvin. Johnson.
Megatron was unstoppable this season. The lone bright spot for the 4-11 Lions has shone brighter than any wide receiver in history. Johnson set the single-season receiving record after catching 10 passes for 204 yards in the loss to the Falcons on Saturday night. He broke Jerry Rice's single-season receiving record (1,848). And at 1,892 yards for the season, Johnson can be the first receiver to reach the 2K mark in the final game. The performance against Atlanta also set an NFL record with eight consecutive games with at least 100 yards and broke the record for most 100-yard games in a season with 11.

4,183: Andrew Luck's NFL rookie passing yards record
Cam Newton set the single-season NFL rookie passing record with 4,051 yards last season with the first 4,000-yard rookie season. The record stood for just one season as Andrew Luck passed for 205 yards and one game-winning touchdown over the Chiefs this Sunday. He has 4,182 yards passing and has accounted for 27 total touchdowns. Most important, Newton lost 10 games during his record-setting first season while Luck's Colts won their 10th game of the year and clinched a playoff spot. Indianapolis is only the second team in NFL history to win 10 or more games one year after losing 14 (Miami, 2008).

14: Seconds left in a tie game when Big Ben was intercepted from his own 29
The Steelers snapped the ball in a game tied at 10 from their own 29-yard line. Facing elimination, Pittsburgh inexplicably called a pass play, and then even more inexplicably, Ben Roethlisberger rolled right, threw across his body and into the waiting arms of Cincinnati safety Reggie Nelson. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton then completed one pass to A.J. Green for 19 yards to put the Bengals into a position to clinch a playoff spot. One Josh Brown 43-yard field goal later and the Steelers had been eliminated from the playoffs. It was some of the worst decision making of the year. Not making the postseason continues a bizarre 13-year trend for Pittsburgh of missing the playoffs every three seasons.

6: First- or second-year QBs in playoff spots today
Rookie Russell Wilson and second-year man Colin Kaepernick faced off Sunday night in the game of the week in Seattle. Wilson got the better of Kaepernick behind four passing touchdowns, a 71.4-percent completion rate, one of the best home crowds in football and a tenacious defense. Both young quarterbacks have led their teams into the postseason — with honorable mention going to former Niners starter Alex Smith. If the season ended today, second-year quarterback Christian Ponder and rookie Robert Griffin III also would be playing in postseason games. In the AFC, rookie Andrew Luck and 2011 draft pick Andy Dalton have already secured their spot in the tournament as well. Half of the best 12 teams in the league are being led by guys who haven't finished their second full season yet. Never have three rookie quarterbacks made the playoffs but the Class of 2012 will do it if RG3 wins next weekend against Dallas. The names of the veteran quarterbacks in the playoffs? Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and Matt Schaub — or otherwise, Matt Schaub and a bunch of scrubs. Seattle has won its last three games by a combined score of 150-30, and Wilson is two touchdowns away from Peyton Manning's rookie TD record of 26.

9-for-9: Blair Walsh's NFL single-season record for made field goals of 50 yards or more
The rookie for the Vikings has a been a big part of why the Minnesota is 9-6 and poised for a playoff appearance. He connected from 56 yards early in a close game against the Texans to set the NFL single-season record for most made field goals of 50 yards or more. He hasn't missed one yet, either. He made two other field goals (41 yards, 39 yards) to outscore the Texans by himself. He is 7-for-9 from 40 to 49 yards, 7-for-8 from 30 to 39 yards and 9-9 from less than 30 yards. That is 32-for-35 if you are counting at home in his first NFL season. He is 32-for-32 on extra points this year as well.

103: Jason Witten's NFL season record for catches for a tight end
The former Tennessee tight end caught six passes for 60 yards in the crushing overtime loss to the Saints at home. But those six receptions gave Witten 103 this year, breaking Tony Gonzalez's all-time single-season NFL tight end record of 102. As a leader, blocker and pass catcher, few players have ever been as good as the Cowboys' all-time leading receiver (799 catches).

1,456: Yards rushing for Jamaal Charles (has anyone noticed?)
Adrian Peterson is chasing history this season — he is 102 yards from 2,000 after 86 against Houston — but he isn't the only star running back doing amazing things following a torn ACL. Jamaal Charles also ripped apart his knee last season and has returned to electric form, rushing for 226 yards and one long touchdown in Week 16. He has a chance at finishing second in the NFL in rushing after jumping Alfred Morris, Doug Martin and Arian Foster in the standings this Sunday. He is third in the NFL, trailing only Marshawn Lynch's 1,490 yards for second. The Chiefs lost again — for the 13th time in 15 games — making Charles' performance all the more impressive (and quiet).

Teaser:
<p> Amazing Stats from NFL Sunday: Week 16</p>
Post date: Monday, December 24, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/how-2012-all-big-east-team-ranked-high-school-recruits
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The merits of recruiting rankings are debated in every sports bar and around every water cooler in the nation. Athlon continues its look at how each all-conference team ranked as high school recruits with the first-team All-Big East team.

Related: College Football's 2012 All-American Team as Recruits

2012 Offensive All-Big East Team as Recruits

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville (2011) AC100
The lone Athlon Consensus 100 prospect on the All-Big East team was the star quarterback from Louisville. He was the No. 96-rated overall prospect in the nation hailing from famed Miami (Fla.) Northwestern. He was the No. 6-rated quarterback in the nation and the No. 18-rated player in the state of Florida. He picked the Cards over Florida, LSU, Miami, Rutgers, Tennessee and USF and was given four stars by Rivals.com. Bridgewater goes to show what landing just one elite player can do for a program.

Ray Graham, RB, Pitt (2009) National Recruit
The state of New Jersey has had a great run of producing talented running backs and Graham is the latest. Hailing from Elizabeth (N.J.) High, he signed with the Panthers over offers from Michigan State, Rutgers, NC State, Maryland, UConn and South Carolina. He was a four-star recruit who was ranked by Rivals as the No. 11 running back, the No. 5 player in the state and the No. 243 player in the nation.

Montel Harris, RB, Temple (2008)
The Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian got only three scholarship offers coming out of the prep ranks. Despite playing at a famous high school, Harris was targeted by only Boston College, Duke and Ball State. He was a two-star recruit who nearly became the ACC’s all-time leading rusher at BC before transferring to Temple.

Alec Lemon, WR, Syracuse (2009)
The Cuse got a steal in the Gambrils (Md.) Arundel prospect. He had one FBS offer on his sheet and that was from the Orange and his only other option was Delaware. He was a two-star recruit by Rivals and was unrated in the state or positional rankings.

DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville (2011)
The play-making wide receiver knew all about the Louisville Cardinals as he played in the city at Ballard High School. Indiana, Kentucky and UCF were his other three offers besides the Cards. Rivals gave him three stars and rated him as the No. 77 wide receiver in the nation and the No. 6 player in the state.

Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati (2008)
The Cleveland Heights (Ohio) High “athlete” was a two-star recruit by Rivals.com. He was unranked in any way but received three BCS offers from Cincinnati, UConn and Pitt. He also had a few MAC offers as well — Akron, Eastern Michigan and Miami (Ohio).

Eric Lefeld, OT, Cincinnati (2010)
Lefeld signed with the Bearcats out of Coldwater (Ohio) High back in 2010. He held one offer to play college football. Rivals rated him as a two-star prospect and he didn’t land in the Ohio state rankings or the national position rankings. He had interest from Ball State, Miami (Ohio) and Toledo but never officially got scholarship offers from any of them.

Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse (2009)
The All-Big East blocker and potential NFL Draft pick slipped under the recruiting radar when he signed in 2009. The Holland (Pa.) Council Rock South prospect held only one offer (Syracuse) and wasn’t ranked in the Keystone State rankings or national positional rankings (Top 100 offensive tackles). Rivals gave him just two stars.

Antwan Lowery, OG, Rutgers (2009) National Recruit
Hailing from Miami (Fla.) Columbus High School, Lowery was only a three-star recruit by Rivals. Yet, he was highly touted by multiple other recruiting services and it nearly landed him in the AC100. He was the No. 170 prospect in the nation by Athlon Sports and was the No. 16 defensive tackle prospect. While Rivals clearly missed on the offensive guard, his offer sheet — and eventual All-Big East honors — matched his Athlon ranking. He picked Rutgers over Auburn, Clemson, Michigan, Miami, Oklahoma, USC, Florida, Florida State, North Carolina and many others.

Austen Bujnoch, OG, Cincinnati (2009)
From famed Cincinnati (Ohio) Elder High School, Bujnoch held quality offers from Louisville, NC State, Indiana, UConn and Cincinnati in the BCS leagues and East Carolina, Miami (Ohio) and Akron on the mid-major level. He was a three-star prospect by Rivals and was rated as the No. 55 offensive tackle and No. 39 player in Ohio.

Mario Benavides, OC, Louisville (2008)
The elder statesman of the Cardinals' offensive line inked with Louisville out of Los Fresnos (Texas) High back in 2008. He was a three-star recruit who was the No. 40-rated offensive guard in the nation by Rivals. His offer sheet was solid, however, as Texas Tech, Arizona, Baylor, Iowa State and Houston were all after the blocker.

Matt Brown, AP, Temple (2009)
The explosive all-purpose runner for Temple was a two-star prospect by Rivals. He was an unranked all-purpose back from New Berlin (N.Y.) Milford Academy who had no other offer to play college football. He clearly made the best of his situation.

Related: The Athlon Consensus 100

Star ranking breakdown of the first-team All-SEC (by Rivals.com):

Star Ranking No. of Players
0
5
7
12
Walk-On 0


2012 Defensive All-Big East Team as Recruits

Dan Giordano, DL, Cincinnati (2008)
The Bearcats' talented lineman hails from Frankfort (Ill.) Lincoln Way East. He was a two-star recruit as rated by Rivals.com and had only four chances to play college ball on scholarship. Giordano got two MAC offers from Miami (Ohio) and Eastern Michigan and one BCS offer from the Bearcats. Eastern Illinois also pursued the strongside defensive end prospect. He was unranked by Rivals in anyway.

Trevardo Williams, DL, UConn (2008)
The strongside defensive prospect was ranked as the No. 7 player in the state of Connecticut back in 2008. He had no other offers than UConn to play college ball so the two-star recruit from Bridgeport (Conn.) Central jumped at the chance to play in the Big East. Needless to say, he made the best of his lone opportunity.

Aaron Donald, DL, Pitt (2010)
The Pittsburgh (Pa.) Penn Hills prospect was the No. 14 player in the state by Rivals. He was the No. 37 defensive tackle prospect in the nation and was given three stars by the recruiting website. Rutgers and Pitt were his two best offers with Akron and Toledo also giving the undersized defensive lineman a scholarship.

Scott Vallone, DL, Rutgers (2008) National Recruit
Few players on the All-Big East team were as highly touted as this big defensive lineman from Central Islip (N.Y.) St. Anthony’s. He had an excellent offer sheet that included Rutgers, Maryland, NC State, Syracuse, Virginia, Minnesota, Duke, Boston College and UConn. He was the No. 3 player in the state and the No. 20 defensive tackle in the nation by Rivals — which gave him a four-star rating.

Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers (2008)
The all-everything tackler has vastly outperformed his recruiting stock. The Avon (Conn.) Old Farms product was a two-star recruit by Rivals with a rather uninspiring offer sheet. Akron, UMass and UConn were his only other FBS offers as well as the Scarlet Knights. He also had offers from Hofstra and Rhode Island as well.

Greg Blair, LB, Cincinnati (2011) JUCO
The Panthers' linebacker originally graduated from Schenley High School in Pittsburgh, Pa. He ended up at Scranton (Pa.) Lackawanna Community College before signing his only scholarship offer with the Bearcats.

Sio Moore, LB, UConn (2008)
Moore was just a two-star recruit by Rivals.com coming out of high school and had to go up North to play football. From Apex (N.C.) High, his only offer was from the UConn Huskies.

Yawin Smallwood, LB, UConn (2010)
UMass and UConn were the only two programs to offer Smallwood a scholarship to play college football. Yet, he was a three-star recruit according to Rivals. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound outside linebacker from Worcester, Mass., was the No. 4 player in the state.

Adrian Bushell, CB, Louisville (2008) National Recruit
The DeSoto (Texas) High product was an elite prospect back in 2008 when he signed with Florida. He had offers from major powers like Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma and numerous others. He was a four-star recruit by Rivals which ranked him as the No. 157 overall player in the nation. He was the No. 15 “athlete” and the No. 19 player in the state of Texas. He transferred to Louisville after getting playing time in his first two seasons in Gainesville — including a pair of tackles in 2009 SEC Championship game.

Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers (2009) National Recruit
From Voorhees (N.J.) Eastern High School, Ryan signed with Rutgers over some big-time offers. Michigan State, Iowa, West Virginia, Maryland, Purdue, Virginia and others pursued Ryan heavily. The four-star recruit was the No. 9 player in the Garden State and the No. 32 cornerback in the nation by Rivals.

Duron Harmon, S, Rutgers (2009)
The Rivals three-star safety signed with Rutgers out of Wyoming (Del.) Caesar Rodney. He had quality offers from Pitt, Stanford, Maryland, Virginia, Iowa and UConn as well as Rutgers. He was the No. 5 player in the state and the No. 69 overall “athlete” in the nation in the Class of 2009.

Shamarko Thomas, S, Syracuse (2009)
Thomas landed in up-state New York from Virginia Beach (Va.) Ocean Lakes High School. He held BCS offers from just Louisville and Syracuse as well as small offers from Richmond and Old Dominion. He was a two-star recruit by Rivals. 

Related Content:

Athlon Consensus 100: The Top 100 Recruits in the Nation
The 2012 All-America Team as Recruits

The 2012 All-Big 12 Team as Recruits

The 2012 All-Pac-12 Team as Recruits
The 2012 All-ACC Team as Recruits
The 2012 All-Big Ten Team as Recruits
The 2012 All-SEC Team as Recruits
The 2012 All-Big East Team as Recruits

Teaser:
<p> How the 2012 All-Big East Team Ranked as High School Recruits</p>
Post date: Friday, December 21, 2012 - 05:50
Path: /college-football/how-2012-all-sec-team-ranked-high-school-recruits
Body:

The merits of recruiting rankings are debated in every sports bar and around every water cooler in the nation. Athlon continues its look at how each all-conference team ranked as high school recruits with the first-team All-SEC team.

Related: College Football's 2012 All-American Team as Recruits

2012 Offensive All-SEC Team as Recruits

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M (2011)
The Aggies' superstar wasn’t considered a can’t-miss quarterback prospect back in 2011 when he signed with Texas A&M. Other than TAMU, only Oregon, Stanford, Baylor and Iowa State offered him BCS scholarships. The Kerrville (Texas) Tivy product was a three-star quarterback who was ranked as the No. 14-best dual-threat signal caller in the nation and was the No. 45-rated player in the state of Texas. After a year of learning the college game as a redshirt, Manziel proved most everyone in the recruiting business wrong by winning the Heisman Trophy.

Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia (2012) AC100
The star freshman tailback wasn’t even the highest-rated running back recruit from North Carolina to sign with Georgia. That honor belonged to Keith Marshall. Gurley, who was no slouch in the recruiting rankings himself, had the better first season in Athens. The Tarboro (N.C.) High four-star prospect was the No. 5-rated player in the state and the No. 11-rated running back in the nation by Athlon Sports. He was the No. 83-rated overall prospect in the Athlon Consensus 100. He sported offers from every major Southern power.

Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida (2009) National Recruit
The Deland (Fla.) High runner was a four-star prospect by Rivals.com. He ranked as the No. 33-best running back in the nation and the No. 257-best overall player in the nation by Athlon Sports. He was No. 236 overall by Rivals and was the No. 42-rated player in the Sunshine State. He held offers from Auburn, Clemson, Michigan, Ole Miss, Mississippi State as well as Florida.

Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt (2010)
The big-play wideout from Madison (Ala.) Academy held offers from just two BCS programs: Kansas and Vanderbilt. Arkansas State and Tulane were his only other FBS offers. Matthews was listed as a three-star receiver by Rivals and didn’t register on the Alabama state rankings or any national rankings.

Cobi Hamilton, WR, Arkansas (2009)
This talented wide receiver played his high school ball in Texas, but as close to Arkansas as possible at Texas High School in Texarkana. He was a three-star prospect whose offer sheet far exceeded his middle-of-the-pack ranking. Auburn, Texas, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Nebraska, TCU and Kansas State were all after the star wideout. He was the No. 63-rated wide receiver in the nation and the No. 64-rated player in the state of Texas.

Jordan Reed, TE, Florida (2009) National Recruit
How many four-star dual-threat quarterback prospects come out of Connecticut? The answer is one. Reed was the No. 25-rated quarterback prospect in the nation by Athlon Sports and was No. 276 overall regardless of position. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound passer picked the Gators over Oregon, Tennessee, Maryland, Iowa, Duke, UConn and Boston College. Rivals ranked him the No. 2 player in the state behind North Carolina wideout Josh Adams.

Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M (2010) National Recruit
The offensive tackle from Arlington (Texas) High barely missed landing in the AC100. He was the No. 106-rated overall prospect in the nation regardless of position. He was No. 13-rated offensive lineman in the nation and the No. 13-rated prospect in The Lone Star State. His offer sheet was incredible with names like Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, Nebraska, UCLA, Arkansas and Texas A&M atop his wish list. As a draft eligible potential first-round pick, he now becomes one of Kevin Sumlin’s top recruits once again.

Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M (2010) AC100
Matthews is the fourth member of the Aggies' 2010 offensive line class to land on an all-conference team (Andrew Norwell, James Hurst, Luke Joeckel). He was the No. 3-rated player in the nation at his position and was the No. 33-rated overall player in the country — ahead of all three of the aforementioned blockers. The O-line legacy from Missouri City (Texas) Elkins was the No. 5-rated player in the state of Texas by Athlon. Rivals gave him four stars.

Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama (2009)
This big blocker from Atlanta (Ga.) Westlake picked Alabama over Auburn, South Carolina and Rutgers. Warmack was ranked as the No. 29 player in the state of Georgia and the No. 20 offensive guard in the nation by Rivals.com. He was a three-star recruit.

Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State (2009)
The three-star recruit from Liberty (Miss.) Amite County held just two offers coming out of high school. Southern Miss was the only other FBS program to offer him a college football scholarship. Rivals ranked Jackson as the No. 91-rated offensive tackle in the nation and the No. 28-rated player in The Magnolia State.

Barrett Jones, C, Alabama (2008) National Recruit
This Memphis (Tenn.) Evangelical Christian stud was the No. 1 prospect in the state of Tennessee (which included Dont’a Hightower), the No. 17 offensive lineman in the nation and the No. 146-rated player nationally regardless of position. He possessed offers from nearly everyone in the southeast but visited only Alabama, Florida and North Carolina. Jones helped Nick Saban sign the nation’s No. 1 class in 2008.

Cordarrelle Patterson, AP, Tennessee (2012) JUCO
The electric athlete was the No. 4-rated junior college prospect in the nation in the Class of 2012. Originally from Rock Hill (S.C.) Northwestern, Patterson spent a year at North Carolina Tech without playing football. But he made a big name for himself as a two-time NJCAA All-American at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas the next two seasons. His exploits earned him offers from LSU, Georgia, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Miami and many others, but he ended up in Knoxville.

Related: The Athlon Consensus 100

Star ranking breakdown of the first-team All-SEC (by Rivals.com):

Star Ranking No. of Players
5
11
7
0
Walk-On 0


2012 Defensive All-SEC Team as Recruits

Sharrif Floyd, DL, Florida (2010) AC100
Few players on the SEC’s first team were ranked as highly as the Philadelphia (Pa.) George Washington product. Floyd was ranked the No. 1 defensive tackle prospect in the nation and was the No. 10 overall player in the nation by Athlon Sports. The AC100 recruit was the top player in the Keystone State. He signed with Florida over major powers like Michigan, Ohio State, USC, Miami, South Carolina and dozens of others. Rivals gave him the elusive fifth star.

Sheldon Richardson, DL, Missouri (2009) AC100
Until Dorial Green-Beckham announced his decision last February, Richardson might have been the most highly touted prospect to ever sign with Mizzou. Athlon Sports ranked the St. Louis (Mo.) Gateway prospect as the No. 8 defensive tackle in the nation and the No. 1 player in the Show Me State. He was the No. 66-rated player in the nation overall in the AC100. Rivals ranked him the highest of any recruiting service giving him five stars as the No. 4-rated player in the nation. Florida, Oklahoma, Miami and many others lost to the Tigers in his recruitment.

Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina (2011) AC100
The Rock Hill (S.C.) South Pointe defensive end was the unanimous No. 1-rated prospect in the nation in the Class of 2011. Obviously, this made him the top player in his state and the top player nationally at his position. He literally could have picked any of the 120 (at the time) programs in the FBS ranks to play his college ball. In two short seasons, he has established that he was ranked exactly where he should have been and appears poised for a Heisman Trophy run in 2013. He also has a good shot at being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Damontre Moore, DL, Texas A&M (2010)
Moore is the only defensive lineman on the 2012 All-SEC team who wasn’t an AC100 or five-star recruit. He was a three-star prospect coming out of Rowlett (Texas) High three years ago. He was the No. 32-rated weakside defensive end and the No. 72-rated player in The Lone Star State by Rivals. He held five offers from his five finalists: Texas A&M, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Nebraska and Kansas.

Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia (2009) AC100
The Columbus (Ga.) Carver product was the No. 6-rated linebacker in the nation and the No. 28 overall player in the nation by Athlon Sports. He was the No. 1 player in the Peach State and signed with USC out of Carver High School. He played the first half of his freshman year before hurting his neck. Complication with the injury eventually led to him transferring back home to Georgia.

C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama (2010) National Recruit
Much like Joeckel, Mosley just missed landing in the AC100 as a linebacker from Theodore (Ala.) High. He was the No. 113 overall prospect in the nation. Mosley finished as the No. 9 linebacker in the nation and the No. 3 player in the state of Alabama. Every program in the Southeast as well as a few from the Big 12 (Oklahoma) and the West Coast (Stanford) wanted to ink the star tackler.

Kevin Minter, LB, LSU (2009) National Recruit
The Suwanee (Ga.) Peachtree Ridge prospect just missed landing in the AC100 as he was ranked the No. 148 overall player in the nation regardless of position. He was the No. 17-rated linebacker in the country and was the No. 10-rated player in the state by Athlon Sports. Oklahoma State, USC, South Carolina, West Virginia, NC State, Kentucky and Virginia were his finalists. Rivals gave him four stars.

Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State (2009)
Banks committed so early to the Bulldogs — April of his junior year — that no other team was ever really in the mix. The Maben (Miss.) East Webster product knew exactly where he wanted to play and it paid off with an All-American career. He was a three-star prospect by Rivals who ranked him as the No. 63 “athlete” in the nation and the No. 23 player in the Magnolia State.

Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama (2010) AC100
Only two players were ranked ahead of Mosley in the state of Alabama in 2010 and Milliner was one of them. The Millbrook (Ala.) Stanhope Elmore cornerback was the No. 1-rated player in the state and the No. 3-rated defensive back in the nation. He finished as the No. 15-rated overall prospect in the nation by Athlon Sports. His offers sheet included every major program from the Southeast. He was a five-star recruit by Rivals.

Eric Reid, S, LSU (2010) AC100
The star safety was the No. 2-rated player in the state coming out of storied prep program Geismar (La.) Dutchtown. He was the No. 80-rated player in the nation as a member of the 2010 AC100 and was ranked as the ninth-best defensive back in the country by Athlon Sports. He got a four-star ranking from Rivals and picked LSU over Stanford, Tennessee, NC State and Tulane.

Matt Elam, S, Florida (2010) AC100
The hardest hitter in the nation hails from West Palm Beach (Fla.) Dwyer and was a star at an early age. Elam was the top-rated defensive back prospect in the nation and the No. 1 player in the uber-talented Sunshine State. He was ranked as the No. 8 overall player in the entire class. Like most elite talents, he had his pick of any school in the nation. Rivals gave him the rare five-star rating.

Related Content:

Athlon Consensus 100: The Top 100 Recruits in the Nation
The 2012 All-America Team as Recruits

The 2012 All-Big 12 Team as Recruits

The 2012 All-Pac-12 Team as Recruits
The 2012 All-ACC Team as Recruits
The 2012 All-Big Ten Team as Recruits
The 2012 All-SEC Team as Recruits

Teaser:
<p> How the 2012 All-SEC Team Ranked as High School Recruits</p>
Post date: Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 05:10
Path: /college-football/college-football-bcs-greatest-offenses
Body:

The BCS is wrapping up its 15th season of action and Athlon Sports is continuing its series of BCS rankings. We ranked the best performances of each BCS bowl game and we ranked the best teams of each BCS conference. Now, we break down the top offensive units of the BCS era (1998-present).

Statistics, awards, championships and NFL talent were all considered and evaluated in order to label the Top 10 offenses of the BCS era. Only teams from BCS conferences were considered and teams from 2012 were not eligible.

Related: College Football: The BCS' Best Defenses

1. USC Trojans, 2005 (12-1)
Head Coach: Pete Carroll
Rushing Offense: 260.0 ypg (6th)
Passing Offense: 319.8 ypg (5th)
Total Offense: 579.8 ypg (1st)
Scoring Offense: 49.1 ppg (2nd)
NFL Draft Picks: Matt Leinart (1st, 2006), Reggie Bush (1st, 2006), LenDale White (2nd, 2006), Winston Justice (2nd, 2006), Deuce Lutui (2nd, 2006), Dominique Bryd (4th, 2006), David Kirtman (5th, 2006), Fred Matua (7th, 2006), Dwayne Jarrett (2nd, 2007), Steve Smith (2nd, 2007), Ryan Kalil (2nd, 2007), Sam Baker (1st, 2008), Fred Davis (2nd, 2008), Chilo Rachal (2nd, 2008), John David Booty (5th, 2008), Chauncey Washington (7th, 2008), Mark Sanchez (1st, 2009), Patrick Turner (3rd, 2009), Charles Brown (2nd, 2010)

The defending BCS National Champs returned largely intact for 2005 and began the season ranked No. 1 in the nation. Do-everything tailback Reggie Bush led the nation in all-purpose yards at 222.3 yards per game and claimed the Heisman Trophy — the second straight for USC (Leinart, 2004). A 513-yard performance and this touchdown run in a shootout win over a ranked Fresno State team likely clinched the stiff-arm trophy for the dynamic running back. After crushing rival UCLA, the Trojans finished the 2005 season having never left the No. 1 line in the polls. They carried a 34-game winning streak into the BCS National Championship game against Texas in what became the first time two Heisman winners ever played in the same backfield. Leinart threw for a title game record 365 yards, but the Trojans defense could not stop Vince Young in what is the greatest game ever played according to this college football writer. This team had 19 players drafted — three QBs, seven OL, four RBs, three WRs and two TEs — off of the offense and was so deep that Mark Sanchez was the third-string quarterback. This team was 19 seconds away from likely becoming the best college football team ever assembled — no matter "how" they were assembled.

2. Texas Longhorns, 2005 (13-0)
Head Coach: Mack Brown
Rushing Offense: 274.9 ypg (2nd)
Passing Offense: 237.2 ypg (40th)
Total Offense: 512.1 ypg (3rd)
Scoring Offense: 50.2 ppg (1st)
NFL Draft Picks: Vince Young (1st, 2006), David Thomas (3rd, 2006), Jonathan Scott (5th, 2006), Justin Blalock (2nd, 2007), Kasey Studdard (6th, 2007), Limas Sweed (2nd, 2008), Jamaal Charles (3rd, 2008), Tony Hills (4th, 2008), Henry Melton (4th, 2009), Chris Ogbonnaya (7th, 2009)

This team may not be as talented as the 2005 USC team it beat in the Rose Bowl to claim the National Championship but it might have had the single most unstoppable force to ever step onto a football field. Vince Young is the most dynamic player I've ever seen on a college gridiron and the numbers prove it. To get to Pasadena, Texas steamrolled the competition, averaging more than 50 points a game and scoring 60 or more four times. In the second week of the season, Texas became the first non-conference opponent in 15 years to defeat Ohio State in Columbus, and followed that win up about a month later by dominating Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry. The Longhorns destroyed Colorado 70-3 in the Big 12 Championship to set up the showdown with No. 1 USC. The Rose Bowl title tilt lived up to every bit of its billing as Vince Young put on the most impressive performance in BCS National Championship history, accounting for 84 percent of Texas’ total offense (467 out of 556 yards), and scored the game-winning touchdown with 19 seconds left to capture the Longhorns’ fourth national championship in thrilling fashion. The Horns scored a school-record 50.2 points per game, set a school record for yards in a season (6,657), total yards per game and total touchdowns (55). This team had four players rush for at least 10 touchdowns and featured a backfield of Jamaal Charles, Romance Taylor, Henry Melton, Selvin Young and Chris Ogbonnaya.

3. Miami Hurricanes, 2001 (12-0)
Head Coach: Larry Coker
Rushing Offense: 204.6 ypg (21st)
Passing Offense: 250.2 ypg (35th)
Total Offense: 454.8 ypg (8th)
Scoring Offense: 43.2 ppg (3rd)
NFL Draft Picks: Bryant McKinnie (1st, 2002), Jeremy Shockey (1st, 2002), Clinton Portis (2nd, 2002), Najeh Davenport (4th, 2002), Martin Bibla (4th, 2002), Joaquin Gonzalez (7th, 2002), Daryl Jones (7th, 2002), Andre Johnson (1st, 2003), Willis McGahee (1st, 2003), Ken Dorsey (7th, 2003), Kellen Winslow (1st, 2004), Vernon Carey (1st, 2004), Carlos Joseph (7th, 2004)

Simply put, this team was loaded and is viewed by many as one of the best ever in college football history. The offensive numbers may not be as staggering as 2008 Oklahoma or 2010 Oregon, for example, but from a talent perspective, it is hard to argue this isn't the most gifted offense ever assembled. Quarterback Ken Dorsey claimed co-Big East Player of the Year honors playing behind five drafted NFL linemen, a backfield featuring Clinton Portis, Frank Gore, Willis McGahee and Najeh Davenport and a receiving corps with Andre Johnson and Jeremy Shockey leading the way. They started things off by going to Happy Valley and dominating Penn State 33-7, which tied the record for the Nittany Lions’ worst home loss under Joe Paterno. Later on, the Canes defeated No. 14 Syracuse and No. 12 Washington in consecutive weeks at the Orange Bowl with a combined score of 124-7, which set the NCAA record for largest margin of victory over consecutive ranked opponents. They capped things off by dismantling the No. 4 Nebraska Cornhuskers 37-14 in the Rose Bowl, in a game in which they held a 34-0 lead in the first half. Miami's average margin of victory in 2001 was 33.2 points per game.

4. Oklahoma Sooners, 2008 (12-2) 
Head Coach: Bob Stoops
Rushing Offense: 198.5 ypg (20th)
Passing Offense: 349.4 ypg (3rd)
Total Offense: 547.9 ypg (3rd)
Scoring Offense: 51.1 ppg (1st)
NFL Draft Picks: Phil Loadholt (1st, 2009), Juaquin Iglesias (3rd, 2009), Duke Robinson (5th, 2009), Manuel Johnson (7th, 2009), Sam Bradford (1st, 2010), Jermaine Gresham (1st, 2010),  Trent Williams (1st, 2010), Brody Eldridge (5th, 2010), DeMarco Murray (3rd, 2011)

The highest-scoring team in NCAA history (716 total points), this Oklahoma team scored no fewer than 35 points prior to the BCS National Championship game against Florida. Quarterback Sam Bradford rewrote the Oklahoma record books on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy. Bradford finished No. 1 in the nation in pass efficiency (180.84) and No. 4 in total offense (340.5 ypg). He set single-season school records for yards (4,270) and touchdown passes (50). This offense led the nation with only 11 turnovers all season and featured a pair of 1,000-yard backs in DeMarco Murray (1,397 yards from scrimmage, 18 total TDs) and Chris Brown (1,329 yards from scrimmage and 21 total TDs). Murray was eighth nationally in all-purpose yards (167.0 ypg), and tight end Jermaine Gresham was the best the country had to offer at tight end (66 rec., 950 yards, 14 TDs). Despite being arguably the most prolific offense of the modern era, the relatively pedestrian 14-point, 364-yard BCS title game performance knocks this Crimson and Cream frieght train off the top spot.

5. USC Trojans, 2004 (13-0)
Head Coach: Pete Carroll
Rushing Offense: 177.4 ypg (33rd)
Passing Offense: 271.7 ypg (13th)
Total Offense: 449.1 ypg (12th)
Scoring Offense: 38.2 ppg (6th)
NFL Draft Picks: Matt Cassel (7th, 2005), Matt Leinart (1st, 2006), Reggie Bush (1st, 2006), LenDale White (2nd, 2006), Winston Justice (2nd, 2006), Deuce Lutui (2nd, 2006), Dominique Bryd (4th, 2006), David Kirtman (5th, 2006), Fred Matua (7th, 2006), Dwayne Jarrett (2nd, 2007), Steve Smith (2nd, 2007), Ryan Kalil (2nd, 2007), Sam Baker (1st, 2008), Fred Davis (2nd, 2008), Chilo Rachal (2nd, 2008), John David Booty (5th, 2008), Chauncey Washington (7th, 2008)

While Pete Carroll's outright BCS Natianal Championship team was his most complete team, it was not his most dominant offense. Yet, this group returned largley intact and would be the foundation for what turned out to be his best offense one year later. Since the players were basically the same, this team marched through its schedule with ease, claimed the Heisman Trophy and eventually sent 10 players into the first or second round of the NFL Draft from the offense alone, it had to make the list. Quarterback Matt Leinart, in his second year under center and armed with an embarrasment of skill players, led the Pac-10 in passing efficiency (156.54) and finished with 3,322 yards and 36 total touchdowns (against only six interceptions). He capped his Heisman campaign with 332 yards and a BCS bowl record five touchdown passes in the destruction of unbeaten No. 2 Oklahoma. The two-headed rushing attack of LenDale White (1,108 yards, 15 TDs) and Reggie Bush (1,416 yards from scrimmage, 15 TDs) made it virtually impossible for anyone to stop the 2004 Trojans. Until 2005.

6. Florida Gators, 2008 (13-1)
Head Coach: Urban Meyer
Rushing Offense: 231.1 ypg (10th)
Passing Offense: 213.9 ypg (61st)
Total Offense: 445.1 ypg (15th)
Scoring Offense: 43.6 ppg (4th)
NFL Draft Picks: Percy Harvin (1st, 2009), Louis Murphy (4th, 2009), Cornelius Ingram (5th, 2009), Tim Tebow (1st, 2010), Aaron Hernandez (3rd, 2010), Riley Cooper (5th, 2010), Maurkice Pouncey (1st, 2010), Mike Pouncey (1st, 2011), Marcus Gilbert (2nd, 2011), Maurice Hurt (7th, 2011)

Tim Tebow had his Heisman Trophy (2007) and a national championship ring (2006), but the most talented, most successful Gator offense was his 2008 squad. The Gainesville idol gave one of the most famous speeches in college football history: “You will never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season.” The Gators then went on to crush quality opponents Arkansas, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida State and Alabama by an average of 31.8 points per game. Florida led the SEC in rushing, total offense and scoring while play-maker extradanaire Percy Harvin led the SEC in scoring (8.5 ppg). Tebow led the league in passing efficiency at 172.37. The Chosen One delivered on his promise (and halftime speech) by throwing for 231 yards and two scores while rushing for 109 yards on 22 carries to outlast Oklahoma 24-14 in the BCS Championship game. The 2008 Gators tied the 1996 national champs as the highest-scoring team in school history (611 points). This offense featured five active NFL pass catchers (including undrafted David Nelson), a pair of blocking twins and speed demons Brandon James, Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. This team redefined the term "SEC Speed."

7. Auburn Tigers, 2010 (14-0)
Head Coach: Gene Chizik
Rushing Offense: 284.8 ypg (5th)
Passing Offense: 214.4 ypg (66th)
Total Offense: 499.2 ypg (7th)
Scoring Offense: 41.2 ppg (7th)
NFL Draft Picks: Cam Newton (1st, 2011), Lee Ziemba (7th, 2011), Brandon Mosley (4th, 2012)

Cam Newton was a one-man wrecking crew for Auburn in 2010. His 4,327 yards of total offense (2,854 pass, 1,473 rush) set an SEC single-season record. Newton led this team to a new school record for scoring and finished second in the nation in passing efficiency (180.52). His 20 rushing touchdowns were second all-time only to Tim Tebow in SEC history and his 51 total touchdowns were No. 2 to Tebow as well. The backfield included 1,000-yard rusher Michael Dyer and 800-yard rusher Onterio McCalebb, and the SEC's top blocker, Lee Ziemba, anchored a stellar, veteran offensive line. A set of veteran receivers —Darvin Adams, Terrell Zachery — mixed with young talent — Emory Blake, Phlip Lutzenkirchen — gave Newton plenty of talented targets. When the Tigers needed a big play with the game on the line, few players on this list were ever more unstoppable than Cam Newton (maybe only the one near the top, actually). No Auburn team has ever won as many games (14) or scored as many points (577).

8. Oregon Ducks, 2010 (12-1)
Head Coach: Chip Kelly
Rushing Offense: 286.2 ypg (4th)
Passing Offense: 244.5 ypg (39th)
Total Offense: 530.9 ypg (1st)
Scoring Offense: 47.0 ppg (1st)
NFL Draft Picks: LaMichael James (2nd, 2012), Mark Asper (5th, 2012), David Paulson (7th, 2012)

One of the most powerful, explosive and fast-paced offenses in league history led the nation in scoring and total offense. It was the highest-scoring team (611 pts) in school history, and it played in its first-ever BCS National Championship game. The offense was led by first-year quarterback Darron Thomas (2,881 yards, 30 TDs, 486 rush yards, 5 TDs) and the nation's leading rusher and scorer in LaMichael James (144.3 ypg, 12.0 ppg). James earned the Doak Walker as the nation's top running back. The talented offensive duo was joined by leading receiver Jeff Maehl (77 rec., 1,076 yards, 12 TDs) and star back-up Kenjon Barner (1,040 all-purpose yards, 9 total TDs). The only blemish on the '10 Ducks resume was obviously the 75 yards rushing and 19 points scored in the BCS title game loss to Auburn. The 2012 version of the Ducks was likely a better overall unit but didn't finish the regular season unbeaten as Pac-12 champs (and isn't eligible for this exercise).

9. Florida State Seminoles, 1999 (12-0)
Head Coach: Bobby Bowden
Rushing Offense: 122.8 ypg (83rd)
Passing Offense: 302.9 ypg (12th)
Total Offense: 425.7 ypg (12th)
Scoring Offense: 37.5 ppg (4th)
NFL Draft Picks: Peter Warrick (1st, 2000), Sebastian Janikowski (1st, 2000), Ron Dugans (3rd, 2000), Laveranues Coles (3rd, 2000), Marvin Minnis (3rd, 2001), Travis Minor (3rd, 2001), Chris Weinke (4th, 2001), Char-ron Dorsey (7th, 2001), Anquan Boldin (2nd, 2003), Brett Williams (4th, 2003), Montae Holland (4th, 2003)

The best team of the BCS era in the ACC gets a slight nod over the 2000 Seminoles for a couple of reasons. While the stats were better in Chris Weinke's Heisman Trophy season, the offense scored zero points in the national title game loss to Oklahoma, and two first-round picks, Peter Warrick and Sebastian Janikowski, had already moved on (not to mention a few other receivers). The undefeated national championship team that topped the dynamic Michael Vick gets the nod after 220 all-purpose yards, three touchdowns and the MVP trophy for Warrick in the 2000 Sugar Bowl. Few teams will ever match the depth and talent of a receiving corps that included Warrick, Ron Dugans, Marvin Minnis, Laveranues Coles and Anquan Boldin. For good measure, toss in Travis Minor, the best kicker in the country and three linemen eventually drafted into the NFL, and you have the No. 9 offense of the BCS era.

10. Oklahoma State Cowboys, 2011 (12-1)
Head Coach: Mike Gundy
Rushing Offense: 158.6 ypg (58th)
Passing Offense: 387.2 ypg (2nd)
Total Offense: 545.8 ypg (3rd)
Scoring Offense: 48.7 ppg (2nd)
NFL Draft Picks: Brandon Weeden (1st, 2012), Justin Blackmon (1st, 2012)

This offense had it all. It beat five ranked opponents and won both the Big 12 championship and memorable Fiesta Bowl against Stanford. It had two first round picks leading the BCS' top passing attack. And it featured one of the best three-headed offensive attacks in history: Brandon Weeden, Joseph Randle and Justin Blackmon. Blackmon won his second consecutive Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top wide receiver. He finished with a school record 121 catches (breaking his own record of 111). His 1,522 yards were third all-time in school history and his 18 touchdowns were second in school history to his own mark of 20 set the year before. Brandon Weeben broke his own school records for passing yards (4,727), touchdowns (37), completions (408), attempts (564) and total offense (4,625). Randle's 24 rushing touchdowns and 150 points were second only to Barry Sanders. To this day, fans in Stillwater still believe their team belonged in the BCS National Championship Game.

Related: The Greatest Non-BCS Offenses of the BCS Era

Others receiving votes: 1998 Ohio State, 1998 Wisconsin, 1999 Georgia Tech, 2000 Florida State, 2001 Florida, 2002 Iowa, 2003 Texas Tech, 2004 Oklahoma, 2006 West Virginia, 2006 Ohio State, 2007 Florida, 2007 Texas Tech, 2008 Texas Tech, 2008 Missouri, 2010 Oklahoma State, 2011 Baylor

Teaser:
<p> College Football: The BCS' Greatest Offenses</p>
Post date: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - 05:40
Path: /college-football/college-football-2012-all-acc-team-recruits
Body:

The merits of recruiting rankings are debated in every sports bar and around every water cooler in the nation. Athlon continues its look at how each all-conference team ranked as high school recruits with the first-team All-ACC team.

Related: College Football's 2012 All-American Team as Recruits

2012 Offensive All-ACC Team as Recruits

Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson (2009) AC100
The ACC Offensive Player of the Year was a known commodity coming out of Hampton (Va.) Phoebus in 2009. Athlon ranked him as the No. 7-rated quarterback, the No. 5-rated player in the state and was the No. 77-rated overall prospect nationally in the Athlon Consensus 100. Boyd had offers from any school he wanted to and had been committed to Tennessee before Lane Kiffin left for USC. Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State, Virginia Tech and Kansas State, to name a few, also offered Boyd scholarships.

Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson (2008) National Recruit
The all-purpose back from Moncks Corner (S.C.) Berkeley was rated behind fellow Clemson running back signee Jamie Harper in 2008. Ellington, who was also a highly touted four-star prospect, finished with the better career. Rivals rated him as the No. 5 all-purpose back in the nation, the No. 4-rated player in the state and the No. 172-rated player nationally. South Carolina, Maryland and Kentucky were his other finalists.

Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina (2010) AC100
The star tailback from famed Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas barely made it into the 2010 AC100. He was the No. 100-rated prospect in the nation by Athlon Sports. Bernard was the No. 15-rated player in The Sunshine State and was the No. 12-rated running back in the nation. He had offers from all over the nation, including Florida, Florida State, Alabama, Notre Dame, Nebraska and Tennessee. Amazingly, he played in the same backfield as Wisconsin’s James White.

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson (2010) National Recruit
Much like Ellington, Hopkins wasn’t the highest-rated wideout in this Clemson class. Martavis Bryant was the AC100 prospect, but Hopkins turned in an All-American season this fall. He signed with the Tigers from Central (S.C.) D.W. Daniel over Michigan, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Rivals rated the four-star recruit as the No. 12 wide receiver in the nation, the No. 8-rated player in the state and the No. 148-rated overall player in the nation.

Conner Vernon, WR, Duke (2009)
Hailing from Miami (Fla.) Gulliver Prep, Vernon was an undersized recruit who wasn’t rated nationally or within the state of Florida. He was a three-star prospect by Rivals who had offers from Ole Miss, Troy, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest to go with the Duke Blue Devils. It’s a good thing he changed the prep hairstyle

Alex Amidon, WR, Boston College (2010)
The Lakeville (Conn.) Hotchkiss School prospect was just a two-star recruit by Rivals. He held only three FBS offers — Boston College, Syracuse and Tulane — to go with some smaller scholarships from New Hampshire and Villanova. Because the state generally produces very little top-flight talent, the two-star was the No. 8-rated player in Connecticut.

Brandon Ford, TE, Clemson (2008) National Recruit
The Hanahan (S.C.) High School product was a four-star wide receiver listed at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds. He is now a 6-foot-3, 240-pound All-ACC tight end. He had one offer coming out of high school, mostly because there was little doubt as to where he was going to sign. He was the No. 46-rated wideout in the nation and the No. 11-rated player in the Palmetto State.

Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina (2008)
The Tar Heels blocker was a three-star recruit from Wilmington (N.C.) Hoggard. Rivals gave him a three-star ranking and named him the No. 21 offensive guard in the nation and the No. 8-rated player in the state. He picked North Carolina over offers from Duke, East Carolina, NC State, South Carolina and Wake Forest. He was a three-star prospect.

Dalton Freeman, OL, Clemson (2008) National Recruit
The big blocker was listed as a four-star offensive guard coming out of Pelion (S.C.) High School. He had an elite offer sheet with Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Penn State, South Carolina and Tennessee joining Clemson in pursuit of the talented prospect. He was the No. 13-rated guard in the nation and the No. 9-rated player in the state.

Omoregie Uzzi, OL, Georgia Tech (2008) National Recruit
One of the highest-rated lineman to ever sign with the Yellow Jackets, most every Southern power wanted Uzzi. From Chamblee (Ga.) High, he held offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and Georgia. Rivals rated him a four-star recruit and as the No. 19 guard in the nation as well as the No. 19 player in the state.

James Hurst, OL, North Carolina (2010) AC100
The massive Indianapolis (Ind.) Plainfield blocker could have played anywhere he wanted to with offers from Florida, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Tennessee as well as North Carolina (just to name a few). He was an AC100 prospect and finished as the No. 2-rated player in the state and the No. 5-rated offensive lineman in the nation by Athlon Sports. He was the No. 36-rated player in the nation and was a four-star prospect by Rivals.

Oday Aboushi, OL, Virginia (2009) National Recruit
The offensive line tradition at Virginia continued with this big-time prospect from Brooklyn (N.Y.) Xaverian. He was a four-star recruit who was rated as the No. 3-best player in the state and the No. 23-best offensive tackle in the nation by Rivals. He picked the Wahoos over offers from Northeastern powers Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland, Boston College as well as Iowa.

Duke Johnson, AP, Miami (2012) AC100
Randy “Duke” Johnson was a big-time playmaker at Miami (Fla.) Norland. The ACC’s Freshman of the Year was an AC100 member who was rated as the No. 36-overall prospect in the nation. He was the No. 6-rated running back and the No. 6-rated player in the state of Florida. Miami landed the star tailback over Florida, Texas, Louisville and West Virginia. Rivals rated the five-star prospect as the No. 1 all-purpose back.

Related: The Athlon Consensus 100

Star ranking breakdown of the first-team All-ACC (by Rivals.com):

Star Ranking No. of Players
1
10
12
1
Walk-On 1


2012 Defensive All-ACC Team as Recruits

Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State (2010)
There are plenty of other star recruits on the Florida State defense, but the Salisbury (Conn.) High prospect was the best this year. The three-star recruit was the No. 65-rated defensive tackle and the No. 5-rated player in the state by Rivals. His offer sheet wasn’t long but had some intriguing names: Oregon, Rutgers, Missouri, Cal, UConn and Boston College to name a few. The Noles were lucky to get this underrated prospect.

Tank Carradine, DL, Florida State (2009)
Cornelius “Tank” Carradine was an undersized weakside defensive end prospect who was listed at 6-foot-5 and just 205 pounds. Hailing from the storied Cincinnati (Ohio) Taft program, Carradine, who is listed at 250 pounds now, was a three-star prospect by Rivals. He was the No. 18-rated weakside end and was the No. 18-rated player in the state. Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pitt, Illinois and Cincinnati also offered the smallish end.

Sylvester Williams, DL, North Carolina (2011)
Williams took an interesting path to Chapel Hill. He played one year of football before going to work for Modine Manufacturing Company before enrolling at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College shortly after high school. He is from Jefferson City, Mo., originally and took one more shot at making it on the football field. After excelling at Coffeyville, Williams became a three-star JUCO prospect who got offers from Georgia, USC, West Virginia, Baylor, Kansas State, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech among others. Rivals rated him the No. 23 JUCO prospect in the nation.

Kareem Martin, DL, North Carolina (2010)
The in-state defensive lineman from Roanoke Rapids (N.C.) High was a three-star recruit by Rivals. He was the No. 14-rated player in the state and the No. 28-rated weakside defensive end in the nation. He picked the Tar Heels over offers from nearly every other ACC school in the league.

Kevin Reddick, LB, North Carolina (2008)
Yet another three-star Tar Heel defensive prospect, Reddick hails from New Bern (N.C.) High. He was the No. 9-rated player in the state and the No. 33-rated outside linebacker in the nation. He had offers from Clemson, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and more before picking North Carolina.

Nick Clancy, LB, Boston College (2008)
Boston College has produced some elite linebackers in the last decade and Clancy is the latest. He was a three-star prospect from Joliet (Ill.) Catholic back in 2008 by Rivals and ranked as the No. 40 outside linebacker and the No. 8 player in the state. Clancy picked the Eagles over BCS offers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa State, Northwestern, Purdue and Vanderbilt.

Jack Tyler, LB, Virginia Tech (2009)
Rivals totally whiffed on the talented Hokies linebacker. He is not listed as a member of the signing class and had no star ranking of any kind. The website shows he had no offers despite winning State Defensive Player of the Year honors at Oakton (Va.) High. The walk-on tackler redshirted and became an All-ACC performer as a junior.

Demetrius Martsfield, LB, Maryland (2008)
From Raleigh (N.C.) Southeast, Hartsfield was a three-star inside linebacker prospect by Rivals. He was the No. 30-rated middle backer and the No. 18-rated player in the state. He got two BCS offers from Duke and Maryland to go with smaller offers from East Carolina and Buffalo.

Xavier Rhodes, DB, Florida State (2009)
Rhodes played his prep ball at Miami (Fla.) Norland — the same high school as Duke Johnson. He was actually evaluated as a wide receiver, ranking as the No. 75 player at his position nationally by Rivals. He was the No. 91-rated player in the state and earned three-stars from the website. He held four offers out of high school: Florida State, Auburn, West Virginia and FIU. 

Ross Cockrell, DB, Duke (2009)
Duke and Virginia were the only FBS programs to offer the cornerback prospect from Charlotte (N.C.) Latin. He was the No. 76-rated coverman in the nation by Rivals and was a three-star recruit.

David Amerson, DB, NC State (2010) National Recruit
The first-team All-ACC offense features 10 four- and five-star recruits. Amerson is the only defensive player on the ACC’s first-team to land at least four stars. The four-star from Greensboro (N.C.) Dudley was ranked as a safety — the No. 16-rated safety in the nation. He was the No. 206-rated player in the entire nation and the No. 6-rated player in the state. He had an elite offer sheet with LSU, Clemson, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, South Carolina to go with his NC State scholarship.

Antone Exum, DB, Virginia Tech (2009)
Exum was ranked as a three-star “athlete” by Rivals back in 2009. He was the No. 38-rated player nationally at his position and the No. 14-rated player in the state of Virginia. Hailing from Glen Allen (Va.) Deep Run, Exum also got offers from big-time programs like Louisville, Penn State, Oregon, South Carolina, West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia.

Related Content:

The 2012 All-America Team as Recruits
Athlon Consensus 100: The Top 100 Recruits in the Nation
The 2012 All-Big 12 Team as Recruits
The 2012 All-Pac-12 Team as Recruits
The 2012 All-ACC Team as Recruits
The 2012 All-Big Ten Team as Recruits

Teaser:
<p> College Football 2012 All-ACC Team As Recruits</p>
Post date: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - 05:20
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Body:

The merits of recruiting rankings are debated in every sports bar and around every water cooler in the nation. Athlon continues its look at how each all-conference team ranked as high school recruits with the first-team All-Big Ten team.

Related: College Football's 2012 All-American Team as Recruits

2012 Offensive All-Big Ten Team as Recruits

Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State (2011) AC100
Miller was a star in high school and it earned him a spot in the Athlon Consensus 100. He trailed only Florida’s Jeff Driskel as the No. 2-rated quarterback prospect in the nation by Athlon Sports. The Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne star was the No. 30-rated player in the nation and was the No. 1-rated player in the state of Ohio. His offer sheet was a who’s who of college powerhouses as Alabama, USC, Notre Dame, Michigan, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and many others tried to land the dual-threat. Miller, however, was all Buckeye committing to Ohio State well before his senior season. He was a four-star recruit by Rivals.com

Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin (2009) National Recruit
Ball came to Wisconsin as the 5A Missouri State Player of the Year after rushing for 8,222 yards and 107 touchdowns at Wentzville (Mo.) Timberland. He was rated by Rivals.com as the No. 33 running back in the nation and was a four-star recruit. Ball was the No. 4 player in the state of Missouri by Athlon Sports and the No. 3 player in the Badgers’ 2009 class, and he picked Wisconsin over offers from Missouri, Stanford, Kansas, Northwestern, Iowa State and Indiana.

Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State (2010)
Rivals missed the boat on the Reynoldsburg (Ohio) Groveport Madison running back. He was a two-star recruit who wasn’t ranked in the Ohio Top 60 or in the national running back rankings either. That said, most coaching staffs missed on the workhorse back as well. He had four offers to play college football and Michigan State was his only BCS scholarship. Marshall, Eastern Michigan and Bowling Green were Bell’s other options.

Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin (2009)
Abbrederis was an all-conference performer on the high school level as both a quarterback and cornerback for Wautoma (Wis.) High School. He does not even have a recruiting profile on any of the three major recruiting services (Scout, Rivals, 247). The former walk-on had no star ranking and didn’t have any other FBS offers.

Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State (2011)
The sophomore wideout hails from Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary’s High. He was the No. 24-rated player in the state of Michigan that year and was given three stars by Rivals. His only other offers besides Penn State were Buffalo, Minnesota and Toledo. Should he continue to develop, Robinson should vastly out-perform his recruiting stock.

Kyle Carter, TE, Penn State (2011)
The No. 3-rated player in the state of Delaware in 2011 was this Nittany Lion tight end. From New Castle (Del.) William Penn, Carter was a two-star prospect by Rivals. Bucknell and Delaware were the only other offers on his sheet.

Spencer Long, OL, Nebraska (2009)
A walk-on, Long redshirted during his first year in Lincoln. From Elkhorn (Neb.) High School, coaching staffs and recruiting services alike completely missed on the burly blocker. Long has developed into one of the more consistent performers in the league.

Travis Frederick, OL, Wisconsin (2009)
The massive blocker signed with the Badgers from the appropriately named Big Foot High School in Walworth, Wisc. He was a three-star prospect by Rivals and was ranked as the No. 5 player in the state and the No. 83 offensive tackle in the nation. He held only four offers total with Wisconsin as his only BCS scholarship. Frederick picked UW over Air Force, Navy and North Dakota State.

Ricky Wagner, OL, Wisconsin (2008)
The all-conference blocker was yet another walk-on as a recruit back in 2008. The big blocker came to Madison from West Allis (Wisc.) Nathan Hale and was passed over by coaches and scouts alike. Big Red fans are certainly thankful he showed up on campus five years ago.

Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan (2009) National Recruit
Hailing all the way from Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral, Lewan came to Michigan as a highly touted prospect with offers from all over the nation. He wasn’t a top 100 recruit, but was a four-star player who had his pick of schools. He was rated as the No. 194 overall player, the No. 16 offensive tackle and the No. 5 player in the state by Rivals.

Andrew Norwell, OL, Ohio State (2010) AC100
The Buckeyes' top blocker trailed only Texas signee Jordan Hicks in the Athlon Sports Ohio state recruiting rankings. The Cincinnati (Ohio) Anderson product was the No. 4-rated offensive lineman in the nation and the No. 34-rated overall player in the nation. He was a four-star prospect by Rivals and was considered by many as a can’t-miss recruit. Notre Dame, Stanford, Cincinnati, Illinois and others tried to land the blocker to no avail. Norwell committed to Ohio State in February of his junior year. 

Related: The Athlon Consensus 100

Star ranking breakdown of the first-team All-Big Ten (by Rivals.com):

Star Ranking No. of Players
0
9
5
5
Walk-On 3


2012 Defensive All-Big Ten Team as Recruits

Eric Martin, DL, Nebraska (2009)
The Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde prospect was a three-star recruit by Rivals. He got plenty of West Coast love with offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, Washington, Washington State and Nevada as well as Nebraska. Martin was listed as a 6-foot-2, 215-pound inside linebacker — the 26th best middle linebacker and the No. 38-rated player in the state.

John Simon, DL, Ohio State (2009) AC100
Much like Norwell, Simon was the No. 2-rated prospect in the state of Ohio for his class. The Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney product trailed only fellow OSU signees Marcus Hall in The Buckeye State rankings. Simon was actually the No. 7-rated defensive tackle prospect and was the No. 48-rated overall player in the AC100.

Jordan Hill, DL, Penn State (2009)
Penn State landed a gem in this Steelton (Pa.) Highspire defensive lineman. He was listed as a two-star strongside defensive end prospect by Rivals. His offer sheet wasn’t long but he had scholarship offers from Rutgers, Pitt and Temple as well as Penn State. He was the No. 39-rated player in The Keystone State.

Kawann Short, DL, Purdue (2008)
The star interior defensive lineman signed with Purdue from East Chicago (Ind.) Central High School. He had no other BCS offers and was a three-star recruit according to Rivals. He was the No. 6-rated player in the state and the No. 57-rated defensive tackle in the nation.

Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State (2011) National Recruit
The hard-hitting backer just missed making the AC100 as the No. 111-rated player in the nation in 2011. The Plantation (Fla.) High prospect was the No. 12-rated linebacker recruit in the nation and was given four stars by Rivals. He received offers from every major program in the nation and had his pick of scholarships.

Michael Mauti, LB, Penn State (2008) National Recruit
Not many Pelican State prospects end up signing with Penn State but that is exactly what the Mandeville (La.) High talent did in 2008. Mauti was the No. 8-rated player in the state of Louisiana and the No. 16-rated inside linebacker in the nation. The four-star recruit by Rivals had offers from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana Tech as well as Penn State. He just missed landing in the AC100.

Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin (2008)
The tackling machine for the Badgers was a 6-foot-2, 195-pound outside linebacker recruit back in 2008. The Ashwaubenon (Wisc.) High product was the No. 6-rated player in the state and was given two stars by Rivals. He picked UW over Air Force, Army, Iowa and Wyoming.

Micah Hyde, DB, Iowa (2009)
Hyde was originally a two-star dual-threat quarterback recruit as ranked by Rivals.com. He had offers from one BCS program (Iowa) and a host of solid MAC schools: Ball State, Bowling Green, Miami-OH, Ohio, Toledo and Eastern Michigan. Hyde signed with Iowa from Fostoria (Ohio) High School.

Daimion Stafford, DB, Nebraska (2011) JUCO
According to Huskers.com, Stafford had scholarship offers from USC and Florida coming out of Norco High School in California. He instead landed at Chaffey (Calif.) College. After two seasons at Chaffey, he became a four-star JUCO prospect with offers from Florida, USC, Iowa State, New Mexico and Nebraska. He was the No. 14-rated junior college recruit in the nation in 2011.

Travis Howard, DB, Ohio State (2008) National Recruit
From notable South Florida Dr. Krop High School in Miami, Howard earned four stars from Rivals in the 2008 class. He was the No. 19-rated cornerback in the nation and the No. 43-rated player in the Sunshine State. He picked the Buckeyes over offers from Florida, Miami, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia Tech and Wisconsin.

Bradley Roby, DB, Ohio State (2010)
Signing with the Buckeyes out of Suwanee (Ga.) Peachtree Ridge from deep in the South, Roby was a three-star wide receiver by Rivals. He was not ranked in the state or at his position in anyway, making his deep offer sheet that much more impressive. He picked Ohio State over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss, South Carolina, West Virginia and many others.  

Related Content:

Athlon Consensus 100: The Top 100 Recruits in the Nation
The 2012 All-America Team as Recruits

The 2012 All-Big 12 Team as Recruits

The 2012 All-Pac-12 Team as Recruits
The 2012 All-ACC Team as Recruits
The 2012 All-Big Ten Team as Recruits

Teaser:
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Post date: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - 05:20
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The merits of recruiting rankings are debated in every sports bar and around every water cooler in the nation. Athlon continues its look at how each All-Conference team ranked as high school recruits with the first-team All-Pac-12 team.

Related: College Football's 2012 All-American Team as Recruits

2012 Offensive All-Pac-12 Team as Recruits

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (2011)
The cool Hawaiian played at St. Louis High School in Honolulu before signing with Oregon. His only other scholarship offer was from Memphis. He was a three-star prospect by Rivals who was the No. 12-rated dual-threat quarterback in the nation and the No. 2-rated player in his state. He had interest in other big programs (Notre Dame, Arizona, Stanford, UCLA) but only got the two scholarship offers. Mariota defines the overused phrase "diamond in the rough."

Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona (2011) National Recruit
The Oro Valley (Ariz.) Canyon Del Oro sophomore was ranked by Athlon Sports as the No. 30 running back in the nation, the No. 5 player in the state of Arizona and the No. 212 overall recruit in the country. He held three Pac-12 offers to play college football from Arizona, Arizona State and Colorado. The coveted tailback was a four-star prospect by Rivals.

Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon (2008)
Hailing from Riverside (Calif.) Notre Dame, Barner was a middle of the pack recruit back in 2008. Rivals rated him as the No. 38 running back in the nation and the No. 86 player in the state. He was a three-star prospect whose only other offers came from Arizona State and UTEP.

Marqise Lee, WR, USC (2011) AC100
The superstar wide receiver hails from California prep powerhouse Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra. He was the No. 64-rated prospect in the nation, the No. 6-rated player in the state and the No. 10-rated wide receiver in the country. His offer sheet was a who’s who of college superpowers. Lee played on the same team as Athlon Consensus 100 wide receivers George Farmer (2011), Robert Woods (2010) and four-star Paul Richardson (2010). How did anyone stop that passing attack?

Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State (2009)
The Chandler (Ariz.) High prospect was just a three-star recruit back in 2009, but he was far from unknown. The smallish wideout had a huge offer sheet that included both Arizona schools, Cal, Nebraska, Oregon, UCLA, USC and Utah. The Beavers won a big battle for the underrated prospect. Rivals rated him the No. 41 “athlete” in the nation and the No. 7-rated player in the state.

Zack Ertz, TE, Stanford (2009)
The heady tight end was a three-star talent from Danville (Calif.) Monte Vista back in 2009. He was the No. 10-rated tight end in the nation and the No. 46-rated prospect in the state by Rivals. He held only three, albeit quality, offers from Stanford, Cal and UCLA.

Hroniss Grasu, OL, Oregon (2010)
The big blocker from Encino (Calif.) Crespi got three BCS offers out of high school. Oregon, Washington and Washington State gave him a shot as well as smaller schools Wyoming, Nevada and UNLV. He was a three-star recruit ranked as the No. 12 center and No. 58 player in the state of California.

Brian Schwenke, OL, Cal (2009)
From Oceanside (Calif.) High, Schwenke’s offer sheet had three major Pac-12 powers on it in Oregon, Cal and Colorado. Otherwise, New Mexico was his only other FBS offer. Rivals rated the blocker as the No. 44 offensive guard and the No. 60-rated player in the state. He was a three-star recruit.

Xavier Su’a-Filo, OL, UCLA (2009) AC100
Only John Martinez (USC) was rated as a better prospect in the state of Utah in 2009. Su’a-Filo was an AC100 member by Athlon Sports and offers from every major West Coast power as well as Notre Dame and Auburn. He was the No. 87-rated player in the nation and the No. 12-rated offensive lineman in the nation by Athlon Sports. He made a huge impact in his first year back from his two-year Mormon Mission.

Khaled Holmes, OL, USC (2008) National Recruit
From the same high school as Matt Barkley, Holmes signed with USC out of the famed Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei program. He was a four-star top 250 prospect by Rivals who ranked as the No. 3 guard in the nation, the No. 14 player in the state and the No. 103 overall player in the nation. Holmes picked USC over Stanford, Oregon State, Notre Dame, Nebraska and Cal.

David Yankey, OL, Stanford (2010)
Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw have done a remarkable job recruiting nationally for the Cardinal. Yankey played his prep ball at Roswell (Ga.) Centennial, and Stanford defeated the Clemsons, Floridas, Georgias and Tennessees in his home region to convince the eventual All-Pac-12 blocker to come to the West Coast. He was a three-star prospect who rated as the No. 47 offensive tackle and No. 53 player in The Peach State by Rivals.

Reggie Dunn, RS, Utah (2010) JUCO
The Los Angeles (Calif.) Verburn Dei athlete was an elite prospect back in 2007 when he signed with Oregon State. He was a four-star prospect by Rivals who had offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon and Washington as well. He ended up at Compton Community College for three seasons before signing with Utah in 2010.

Star ranking breakdown of the first-team All-Pac-12 (by Rivals.com):

Star Ranking No. of Players
0
8
14
1

 

2012 Defensive All-Pac-12 Team as Recruits

Scott Crichton, DL, Oregon State (2010)
The star defensive lineman was a middling prospect from Tacoma (Wash.) Henry Foss. His only two offers to play football came from Oregon State and Washington State. Crichton was a three-star recruit by Rivals who ranked as the No. 12 player in The Evergreen State and the No. 44-rated strongside defensive end in the nation.

Dion Jordan, DL, Oregon (2008) National Recruit
Oregon’s freakish outside linebacker/defensive end was a big-time recruit back in 2008. The Chandler (Ariz.) High prospect was a four-star recruit who held seven Pac-12 offers as well as a Nebraska scholarship. Rivals ranked him as the No. 15 tight end in the nation and he was the No. 7-rated player in the state.

Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State (2009)
From Corona (Calif.) Centennial, Sutton came to Arizona State sporting only four BCS offers. They included Arizona, Nebraska and Boise State in addition to the Sun Devils. He was the No. 42-rated defensive tackle and the No. 40-rated player in the state of California in the ’09 class. He was a three-star prospect by Rivals.

Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah (2007)
The big fella from Bingham (Utah) High originally signed with BYU out of high school. He was the No. 57-rated defensive end and the No. 3-rated player in the state of Utah. He held offers from Utah, UNLV and Weber State as well as the Cougars. He eventually landed at Snow College for two years before heading to Salt Lake City. Miraculously, Lotulelei didn’t even play football in 2009 before signing with Utah in January 2010.

Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA (2010) AC100
Barr was one of the freakiest athletes to ever play high school football in California. The Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola product was pegged as a linebacker, wide receiver, tight end, running back or defensive end. He was the No. 29-rated player in the nation in the AC100 and was the No. 7-rated player in the state by Athlon Sports. Barr had no true position (even once he got to UCLA) and was rated as the No. 3 “athlete” in the nation behind only college superstars Keenan Allen (No. 2) and Tony Jefferson (No. 1). He held major offers from power programs across the nation, including Oregon, USC, Notre Dame, Stanford, Tennessee, Michigan and Florida State.

Trent Murphy, LB, Stanford (2009)
The star pass rusher came to Palo Alto from Phoenix (Ariz.) Brophy Prep. He was a three-star recruit according to Rivals, was rated as the No. 41 strongside defensive end in the nation and the No. 19 player in the state. Despite his middling ranking, Murphy had a solid offer sheet with Pac-12 programs Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah also offering him a scholarship.

Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford (2008)
The Cardinal have made a living recently recruiting in the state of Georgia. Thomas picked Stanford over Auburn, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia Tech out of Marietta (Ga.) Walton. He was a three-star recruit who was ranked as the No. 27 outside linebacker in the nation and the No. 26-rated player in the state. Thomas makes two Peach State prospects on the All-Pac-12 team (Yankey).

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, DB, Oregon (2011) National Recruit
The Ducks' defensive back signed with Oregon from Chino Hills (Calif.) High just two seasons ago. The big-time recruit had offers from Arizona State, Cal, Stanford, Utah and Washington State, along with the Ducks. Ekpre-Olomu was a four-star prospect by Rivals who was the No. 173-rated overall player in the nation. He was the No. 17-rated cornerback in the country and the No. 18-rated player in the state.

Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State (2009)
The Beavers' defensive back and return man was one of the biggest steals of the ’09 class. The Astoria (Ore.) High prospect was a wildly underrated two-star recruit with two FBS offers. Portland State, Eastern Washington, Idaho and Oregon State were the only programs who showed any serious interest in the two-star prospect. Rivals rated him as the No. 8 player in the state of Oregon.

Ed Reynolds, DB, Stanford (2010)
Once again, an all-conference player for Stanford comes from the opposite end of the country. Reynolds played his prep ball at Woodberry Forest (Va.) High. He was a three-star recruit who wasn’t ranked in the state or at his position by Rivals despite a quality offer sheet featuring North Carolina, NC State and Duke to go with Stanford. The credit for growing the Stanford brand image on the East Coast goes directly to former head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Desmond Trufant, DB, Washington (2009)
The younger brother of former Washington State star Marcus Trufant, Desmond picked Washington over Wazzu, Oregon, Colorado and Arizona State. He was a three-star prospect from Tacoma (Wash.) Wilson and was the No. 6-rated player in the state. He was the No. 56-rated cornerback in the nation by Rivals.

Related Content:

Athlon Consensus 100: The Top 100 Recruits in the Nation
The 2012 All-America Team as Recruits

The 2012 All-Big 12 Team as Recruits

The 2012 All-Pac-12 Team as Recruits

Teaser:
<p> College Football 2012 All-Pac-12 Team As Recruits</p>
Post date: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 05:05
Path: /college-football/college-football-bcs-greatest-defenses
Body:

The BCS is wrapping up its 15th season of action and Athlon Sports is continuing its series of BCS rankings. We ranked the best performances of each BCS bowl game and we ranked the best teams of each BCS conference. Now, we break down the top defensive units of the BCS era (1998-present).

Statistics, awards, championships and NFL talent were all considered and evaluated in order to label the Top 12 defenses of the BCS era. Teams from 2012 were not eligible, otherwise both Notre Dame or Alabama could land on this list. But until the 2012 National Championship is decided, neither belongs on this list (yet).

Related: College Football: The BCS' Best Offenses

1. Miami Hurricanes, 2001 (12-0)
Head Coach: Larry Coker
Rushing Defense: 132.7 ypg (40th)
Passing Defense: 138.2 ypg (2nd)
Total Defense: 270.9 ypg (6th)
Scoring Defense: 9.4 ppg (1st)
Turnovers Forced: 45 (1st)
Sacks: N/A
NFL Draft Picks: Phillip Buchanon (1st, 2002), Ed Reed (1st, 2002), Mike Rumph (1st, 2002), James Lewis (6th, 2002), Jerome McDougle (1st, 2003), William Joseph (1st, 2003), Andrew Williams (3rd, 2003), Jamaal Green (4th, 2003), Matt Walters (5th, 2003), Sean Taylor (1st, 2004), Jonathan Vilma (1st, 2004), Vince Wilfork (1st, 2004), D.J. Williams (1st, 2004), Darrell McClover (7th, 2004), Alfonso Marshall (7th, 2004), Antrel Rolle (1st, 2005)

Imagine trying to design a passing attack to beat a secondary that featured Ed Reed, Sean Taylor, Phillip Buchanon, Mike Rumph, James Lewis, Alfonoso Marshall and Antrel Rolle. How about a rushing attack to penetrate a D-Line with Jerome McDougle, William Joseph, Vince Wilfork, Matt Walters, Jamaal Green and Andrew Williams? And to top it all off, the linebackering corps running around between the two boasted names like Vilma, Williams and McClover. Simply put, this team is one of the greatest groups ever assembled. They started things off by going to Happy Valley and dominating Penn State 33-7, which tied the record for the Nittany Lions’ worst home loss under Joe Paterno. Later on, the Canes defeated No. 14 Syracuse and No. 12 Washington in consecutive weeks at the Orange Bowl with a combined score of 124-7, which set the NCAA record for largest margin of victory over consecutive ranked opponents. They capped things off by dismantling the No. 4 Nebraska Cornhuskers 37-14 in the Rose Bowl, in a game where they held a 34-0 lead in the first half. Miami pitched three shutouts and held eight opponents to seven points or fewer. Later, the Canes claimed 10 first-round draft picks on defense.

2. Alabama Crimson Tide, 2011 (12-1)
Head Coach: Nick Saban
Rushing Defense: 72.2 ypg (1st)
Passing Defense: 111.5 ypg (1st)
Total Defense: 183.6 ypg (1st)
Scoring Defense: 8.2 ppg (1st)
Turnovers Forced: 20 (77th)
Sacks: 2.3 spg (29th)
NFL Draft Picks: Mark Barron (1st, 2012), Dre Kirkpatrick (1st, 2012), Dont'a Hightower (1st, 2012), Courtney Upshaw (2nd, 2012), Josh Chapman (5th, 2012), DeQuan Menzie (5th, 2012)

The 2011 Crimson Tide allowed fewer points (8.8) than any other team in the history of the BCS. It led the nation in every major statistical defensive category and completely shutdown the unbeaten LSU Tigers in the BCS title game. LSU totaled five first downs, two turnovers, zero points and an (un) remarkable 92 total yards of offense. This team featured eight NFL draft picks, six of which were starters on the defense. This unit could also feature another half-dozen defensive draft picks in 2013 (Dee Milliner, CJ Mosley, Jesse Williams, Robert Lester, etc). Eight times this team allowed less than 10 points — including its only loss of the year — and it allowed more than 14 points only once (21, Georgia Southern). One could argue this is the best college defense ever.

3. Alabama Crimson Tide, 2009 (13-0)
Head Coach: Nick Saban
Rushing Defense: 78.1 ypg (2nd)
Passing Defense: 166.0 ypg (10th)
Total Defense: 244.1 ypg (2nd)
Scoring Defense: 11.7 ppg (2nd)
Turnovers Forced: 31 (10th)
Sacks: 2.3 spg (40th)
NFL Draft Picks: Rolando McClain (1st, 2010), Kareem Jackson (1st, 2010), Javier Arenas (2nd, 2010), Terrence Cody (2nd, 2010), Marquis Johnson (7th, 2010), Brandon Deaderick (7th, 2010), Marcell Dareus (1st, 2011)

The undefeated national champions won big in 2009 because of a stacked NFL defense.  This outfit was led by Butkus Award winner Rolando McClain and a stellar defensive line headlined by Mount Cody and Marcell Dareus. Do-everything corner Javier Arenas not only covered the opponent's top receiver and snagged five interceptions, but he also was a dyanamic pass-rusher (five sacks) and game-changing return specialist. Despite knocking Colt McCoy out of the National Championship game and claiming the Crystal Ball, the signature performance by this unit came against an unbeaten Tim Tebow-led Florida Gators team in the SEC title game. The Tide held the Gators to only 88 yards rushing, 13 first downs and only 13 points in a title-clinching win. This defense has already seen seven players drafted, and that number will continue to rise this spring as Dre Kirkpatrick, Mark Barron (who led the SEC in INTs in 2009), Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw could all grade out as early round picks.

4. LSU Tigers, 2003 (13-1)
Head Coach: Nick Saban
Rushing Defense: 67.0 ypg (3rd)
Passing Defense: 185.0 ypg (18th)
Total Defense: 252.0 ypg (1st)
Scoring Defense: 11.0 ppg (1st)
Turnovers Forced: 33 (9th)
Sacks: N/A
NFL Draft Picks: Marquise Hill (2nd, 2004), Chad Lavalais (5th, 2004), Marcus Spears (1st, 2005), Corey Webster (2nd, 2005), Travis Daniels (4th, 2005), Kyle Williams (5th, 2006), Melvin Oliver (6th, 2006), LaRon Landry (1st, 2007)

One of the nastiest defensive lines ever assembled featured NFL draft picks Marquise Hill, Chad Lavalais, Marcus Spears, Kyle Williams and Melvin Oliver. At 11.0 points per game, LSU led the nation in scoring defense, allowing only one team (Arkansas, 24) to score more than 19 points in any game. Only Florida (19) scored more than 14 points against this defensive unit. In the biggest game for the Bayou Bengals in 40 years, this defense squared off against Heisman winner Jason White of Oklahoma and flat-out dominated. White averaged 292 yards per game in '03, but mustered only 102 yards on 13-of-37 passing with no touchdowns and a pair of interceptions — one of which Spears returned for a touchdown that eventually proved to be the game-winner.

5. Oklahoma Sooners, 2000 (13-0)
Head Coach: Bob Stoops
Rushing Defense: 108.2 ypg (23rd)
Passing Defense: 170.8 ypg (9th)
Total Defense: 278.9 ypg (8th)
Scoring Defense: 16.0 ppg (7th)
Turnovers Forced: 33 (5th)
Sacks: N/A
NFL Draft Picks: Torrance Marshall (3rd, 2001), Roy Williams (1st, 2002), Rocky Calmus (3rd, 2002), Andre Woolfolk (1st, 2003), Jimmy Wilkerson (6th, 2003), Teddy Lehman (2nd, 2004), Derrick Strait (3rd, 2004)

This team was not the most impressive statistically, but featured two Butkus Award winners (Rocky Calmus, Teddy Lehman), two Thorpe Award winners (Roy Williams, Derrick Strait), a Nagurski winner (Williams), and what was probably the best defensive championship performance of all time. The Sooners held the nation's No. 1 overall offense and Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke to zero points and only 301 yards of offense (nearly 250 yards below their season average). Linebacker Torrance Marshall led the way with No. 4-rated BCS NCG game performance with six tackles and an interception en route to the Orange Bowl MVP trophy. Safety J.T. Thatcher and linebacker Calmus were All-Americans, while Lehman was a freshman All-American. Williams was one of the most impactful and hardest-hitting college players this writer has ever seen.

6. USC Trojans, 2008 (12-1)
Head Coach: Pete Carroll
Rushing Defense: 87.4 ypg (5th)
Passing Defense: 134.4 ypg (1st)
Total Defense: 221.8 ypg (2nd)
Scoring Defense: 9.0 ppg (1st)
Turnovers Forced: 29 (20th)
Sacks: 2.2 spg (40th)
NFL Draft Picks: Clay Matthews (1st, 2009), Brian Cushing (1st, 2009), Rey Maualuga (2nd, 2009), Fili Moala (2nd, 2009), Kaluka Maiava (4th, 2009), Kyle Moore (4th, 2009), Cary Harris (6th, 2009), Kevin Ellison (6th, 2009), Taylor Mays (2nd, 2010), Kevin Thomas (3rd, 2010), Everson Griffin (4th, 2010), Jurrell Casey (3rd, 2011), Shareece Wright (3rd, 2011), Malcolm Smith (7th, 2011)

There were eight NFL draft picks who departed from this defense following the near national championship campaign of 2008. Fourteen total players have found their way to the NFL, and that number is only going to increase next spring. An early road upset at the hands of Oregon State kept the best linebacking corps of the BCS era from claiming a spot in the BCS NCG. This group pitched three shutouts and held the opposition to 10 points or less eight times; only three times did a team score more than 10 points. The 9.0 points per game are a current BCS era scoring record (Alabama could break that this season). Team leader Rey Maualuga claimed the Chuck Bednarik Award.

7. Tennessee Volunteers, 1998 (13-0)
Head Coach: Phil Fulmer
Rushing Defense: 93.9 ypg
Passing Defense: 209.1 ypg
Total Defense: 303.0 ypg
Scoring Defense: 15.3 ppg
Turnovers Forced: 16 INT
Sacks: N/A
NFL Draft Picks: Al Wilson (1st, 1999), Steve Johnson (6th, 1999), Corey Terry (7th, 1999), Shaun Ellis (1st, 2000), Raynoch Thompson (2nd, 2000), Dwayne Goodrich (2nd, 2000), Deon Grant (2nd, 2000), Darwin Walker (3rd, 2000), Eric Westmoreland (3rd, 2001), Will Overstreet (3rd, 2002)

Possibly the most talented Tennessee team in program history finished a dream season by winning the Fiesta Bowl 23-16 over Florida State in the first-ever BCS Championship Game. A front seven that featured eventual draft picks Shaun Ellis, Darwin Walker, Corey Terry, Billy Ratliff and Will Overstreet along the line and Al Wilson, Raynoch Thompson and Eric Westmoreland in the linebacking corps held 10 opponents to 18 points or less — including No. 2 Florida, No. 7 Georgia, No. 23 Mississippi State and No. 2 Florida State.

8. LSU Tigers, 2011 (13-1)
Head Coach: Les Miles
Rushing Defense: 90.1 ypg (5th)
Passing Defense: 171.4 ypg (8th)
Total Defense: 261.5 ypg (2nd)
Scoring Defense:  11.3 ppg (2nd)
Turnovers Forced: 30 (16th)
Sacks: 2.8 spg (14th)
Key Player: Morris Claiborne (1st, 2012), Michael Brockers (1st, 2012), Brandon Taylor (3rd, 2012), Ron Brooks (4th, 2012)

This defense was outstanding, finishing a distant second behind only Alabama in total defense and scoring defense. It ran the regular season table unbeaten but couldn't finish in the national championship game. It claimed the Thorpe Award winner (Morris Claiborne), a Heisman finalist (Tyrann Matheiu), four NFL draft picks and an SEC championship. With a host of future NFL stars — Sam Montgomery, Eric Reid, Barkevious Mingo, Kevin Minter, Anthony Johnson — the talent on this unit was one of the best in history. But 384 yards allowed to AJ McCarron and Trent Richardson in the biggest game of the season keeps it from being the in the mix with '01 Miami and '11 Bama.

9. Florida Gators, 2006 (13-1)
Head Coach: Urban Meyer
Rushing Defense: 72.5 ypg (5th)
Passing Defense: 116.3 ypg (33rd)
Total Defense: 466.9 ypg (6th)
Scoring Defense: 13.5 ppg (6th)
Turnovers Forced: 29 (17th)
Sacks: 2.4 spg (35th)
NFL Draft Picks: Reggie Nelson (1st, 2007), Jarvis Moss (1st, 2007), Ray McDonald (3rd, 2007), Marcus Thomas (4th, 2007), Joe Cohen (4th, 2007), Ryan Smith (6th, 2007), Brandon Siler (7th, 2007), Derrick Harvey (1st, 2008), Jermaine Cunningham (2nd, 2010), Brandon Spikes (2nd, 2010)

The 2006 Gators defense put together one of the greatest BCS Championship game performance against the favored Buckeyes and Heisman winner Troy Smith. Smith threw for 35 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and was sacked five times. An NFL-laden defense held the OSU rushing attack to 47 yards on 23 carries. Ohio State totaled 82 yards of offense in the 41-14 beatdown as the Gators claimed the Crystal Ball. Derrick Harvey led the way with the No. 12-rated BCS Championship Game performance with a BCS NCG record three sacks to go with his four solo stops and a forced fumble. This team featured seven defensive draft picks the following spring in 2007.

10. Ohio State Buckeyes, 2007 (11-2)
Head Coach: Jim Tressel
Rushing Defense: 82.9 ypg (3rd)
Passing Defense: 150.1 ypg (1st)
Total Defense: 233.0 ypg (1st)
Scoring Defense: 12.8 ppg (1st)
Turnovers Forced: 19 (93rd)
Sacks: 3.3 spg (6th)
NFL Draft Picks: Vernon Gholston (1st, 2008), Larry Grant (7th, 2008), Malcolm Jenkins (1st, 2009), James Laurinaitis (2nd, 2009), Donald Washington (4th, 2009), Marcus Freeman (5th, 2009), Thaddeus Gibson (4th, 2010), Doug Worthington (7th, 2010), Kurt Coleman (7th, 2010), Austin Spitler (7th, 2010), Cam Heyward (1st, 2011), Chimdi Chekwa (4th, 2011), Jermale Hines (5th, 2011), Brian Rolle (6th, 2011), Ross Homan (6th, 2011)

The nation's best defense was one great performance away from being immortalized in Ohio State lore. With a roster loaded with NFL talent, the Buckeyes held LSU to only 326 yards in the BCS National Championship game, but fell short 38-24. Nagurski Trophy (2006) and Butkus Award winner James Laurinaitis set a BCS bowl record with 18 tackles in the loss. Defensive coordinator Jim Heacock won the Broyles Award and corner Malcolm Jenkins went on to win the Thorpe Award the following year. This defense featured 15 draft picks, including three first-rounders.

The Next in Line

11. Nebraska Cornhuskers, 2009 (10-4)
Head Coach: Bo Pelini
Rushing Defense: 93. 1 ypg (9th)
Passing Defense: 178.9 ypg (18th)
Total Defense: 272.0 ypg (7th)
Scoring Defense: 10.4 ppg (1st)
Turnovers Forced: 28 (21st)
Sacks: 3.1 spg (2nd)
NFL Draft Picks: Ndamukong Suh (1st, 2010), Phillip Dillard (4th, 2010), Larry Asante (5th, 2010), Prince Amukamara (1st, 2011), Dejon Gomes (5th, 2011), Eric Hagg (7th, 2011)

You could make the case that the 1999 version of the Black Shirts could be on this list as well. But from a talent perspective, it is tough to argue with the way the 2009 group played, as they finished one second away from defeating National runner-up Texas in the Big 12 title game. The D-line included Heisman finalist Ndamukong Suh, Jared Crick, Barry Turner and Pierre Allen. The linebacking corps featured Phillip Dillard and Larry Asante, and the secondary featured Eric Hagg, Prince Amukamara and Alfonzo Dennard. This team allowed more than 20 points only one time and ten times did Nebraska hold the opposition to 13 or fewer points. Six players have already been drafted off of the 2009 defense. This team led the nation in scoring defense and finished second in sacks.

12. TCU Horned Frogs, 2010 (13-0)
Head Coach: Gary Patterson
Rushing Defense: 99.7 ypg (5th)
Passing Defense: 128.8 ypg (1st)
Total Defense: 228.5 ypg (1st)
Scoring Defense: 12.0 ppg (1st)
Turnovers Forced: 22 (59th)
Sacks: 2.1 spg (54th)
NFL Draft Picks: Colin Jones (6th, 2011), Malcolm Williams (7th, 2011)

You have to throw the "little guy" a bone after one of the best defensive seasons by any team ever. TCU held eight opponents to 10 points or less including four who failed to score a touchdown. Led by Rose Bowl MVP and All-America linebacker Tank Carder, the Frogs topped Big Ten champ Wisconsin in the 21-19 Granddaddy of Them All. By holding Johnny Unitas Award winner Scott Tolzien to 159 yards and no scores, TCU finished the best season in school history unbeaten and ranked first in the nation in scoring and total defense.

Related: The Greatest Non-BCS Offenses of the BCS Era

Others receiving votes: 1998 Ohio State, 1999 Nebraska, 2000 TCU, 2001 Texas, 2002 Kansas State, 2002 USC, 2004 USC, 2005 Virginia Tech, 2006 LSU, 2007 Virginia Tech, 2008 Florida, 2009 Texas

Teaser:
<p> College Football: The BCS' Greatest Defenses</p>
Post date: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 05:04
Path: /nfl/8-amazing-stats-nfl-sunday-week-15
Body:

NFL football is the greatest reality TV program of all time. The Giants and Colts made sure of that back in 1958. Each NFL fall weekend is a completely new and original experience for every player, fan and coach alike. New stories, new personalities, new winners and new losers. And new statistics.

Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from Week 15 of NFL play:

7-1: Aaron Rodgers career record against Jay Cutler
The Packers won their seventh consecutive game against the Bears as Rodgers' continued domination of Cutler gave Green Bay their second consecutive NFC North championship. Rodgers threw three touchdown passes in the road win and is second to only Drew Brees with 32 touchdown passes this year. The Packers are 10-4 and are eyeing the NFC's two-seed without the help of a kicker — Mason Crosby has missed at least one field goal in eight straight games and is nine for his last 18 — or a host of elite playmakers on both sides of the ball. Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews, Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, Desmond Bishop, Cedric Benson, D.J. Smith and Bryan Bulaga are either out for the year or have missed significant time this year. Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning are deserving MVP candidates, but has anyone done more with less than No. 12 in Green and Gold?

9: Consecutive wins for Peyton Manning over the Ravens
The future Hall of Fame quarterback led his Broncos to a key victory on the road over Baltimore in a game with AFC seeding implications. The 34-17 win over the Ravens gives Manning nine straight wins over the extremely successful AFC North franchise. The Ravens have been a playoff team in each of the last four years (soon to be five) and, after this year, will have made the postseason in six of the last seven seasons. In fact, two of those nine wins have come in the postseason, both in years that the Colts made it to the Super Bowl (2006, 2009). The last time No. 18 lost to Baltimore was December 2001. 

108: Points scored by Seattle in its last two games
The Seahawks set all kinds of franchise records in their 58-0 drubbing of the Cardinals last week. The offense, led by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, didn't miss a beat again this week in a 50-17 win over Buffalo in Toronto. It marked just the third time in NFL history a team scored 50 points in back-to-back games. Seattle forced 11 turnovers in the two wins while turning the ball over just once. Wilson, who set a franchise record with three rushing touchdowns (by a QB), is putting together one of the best rookie campaigns in history. All while Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck are doing the same. The Seahawks' signal caller has thrown 21 scoring strikes, which ties him with Cam Newton for the third highest total by a rookie (Peyton Manning 26 in 1998, Charlie Conerly 22 in 1948). After a four-touchdown performance in the win over the Bills, Wilson trails Luck (20 pass, 5 rush) by one total TD for the rookie lead. He finished 14-of-23 for 205 yards passing to go with 92 yards rushing on nine carries and has his team at 9-5 in his first year.

8,743: New San Francisco franchise rushing record by Frank Gore
In 156 games as a 49er, Joe Perry rushed for a franchise-record 8,689 yards. In 42 fewer games, Gore has supplanted Perry atop the Niners' all-time rushing standings. He rushed for 83 yards and scored a touchdown in the huge statement win over the Patriots on Sunday night in New England. The Niners endured a 28-point comeback and more than 300 yards passing from Tom Brady in the second half, but Colin Kaepernick answered with four touchdown passes of his own in the gut-check win over the defending AFC Champs. Gore, at 29 years old in his eighth NFL season, will become the first Niners player to rush for 10,000 yards with just one more solid season in the Bay Area. He is already the franchise's leader in rushing attempts (1,885) and his 50 rushing touchdowns trail only Perry's record 68.

294: Yards Adrian Peterson needs to set the NFL single-season rushing record
Eric Dickerson set the single-season NFL rushing record (2,105 yards) in 1984 as a 24-year old Los Angeles Ram. With 212 yards, including an 82-yard scoring run, Peterson has 1,812 yards rushing on the year. His quest for 2,000 almost seems secondary, as he needs 188 yards per game in his last two to reach Dickerson's benchmark. The Vikings tailback is less than a year removed from major knee surgery and has carried a 3-13 team to eight wins with two games left to play. Minnesota and its MVP running back will face the Texans and the Packers — who entered the weekend ranked second and 15th respectively against the run. It will be an extremely difficult task, but 146.5 yards per game is well within reach for the most gifted runner on the planet. Setting that record on that team after that injury, it's hard not to think this would be considered the best season by any running back in NFL history.

181: Yards Calvin Johnson needs to set the NFL single-season receiving record
Before 1995, only two receivers in history had ever topped 1,600 yards receiving in a season. Charley Hennigan's extraordinary 1,761 yards in only 14 games in 1961 and Lance Alworth's 1,602 in 1965 were the only such occurrences. Then the craziness of 1995 took place when four of the top 12 receiving seasons of all-time happened in the same year. Jerry Rice set the single-season mark with 1,848 yards, but the No. 2 (Isaac Bruce, 1,781), No. 6 (Herman Moore, 1,686) and No. 12 (Michael Irvin, 1,603) top receiving seasons also took place. At the time, they ranked No. 1, 2, 4 and 5 all-time. In total, only 15 times has a player topped 1,600 yards receiving in a single NFL campaign. With 121 yards on Sunday, Calvin Johnson (1,667) joined Marvin Harrison as the only two players to have accomplished the feat twice. He needs only 90.5 yards per game over the next two weeks against Atlanta and Chicago to knock Rice from one of the most prestigious pedestals in NFL history.

27: Number of 10,000-yard rushers in NFL history
Steven Jackson rushed for 73 yards in the loss to Minnesota this Sunday, but he became just the 27th player in NFL history to reach the 10,000-yard mark. Jackson is constantly underrated by most fans, particularly because the fantasy community doesn't appreciate his relatively low yearly touchdown totals. But with 91 more rushing yards over the final two weeks, Jackson will top the 1,000-yard mark for the eighth consecutive season. He also caught eight passes in the loss, giving him 399 catches for his career. He is one away from 400 and two away from passing Tom Fears for fifth all-time in Rams' history. Jackson is one of the most consistent producers in the NFL over the last nine seasons and has been doing it for bad football teams with little support from the quarterback position.

17: Number of times Drew Brees has passed at least 300 yards with 4 TDs in a game 
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees passed for 307 yards and four touchdowns in the Saints’ 41-0 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday. Brees has recorded at least 300 passing yards and four touchdowns in a game 17 times and passed Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (16) for the most such games in NFL history.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: While we all sit with our friends and families watching football this holiday season, there will be 26 gaping voids in 26 different living rooms in Newtown, Conn., following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. I went to an elementary school not 15 miles down the road and I can assure the small Northeastern town that an entire nation is mourning your loss. There is no explanation and there are no words. But celebrating the lives and heroics of the teachers and principle who lost their lives protecting children — and appreciating every moment you get with your loved ones — feels like a good place to start rebuilding.

Teaser:
<p> Amazing Stats from NFL Sunday: Week 15</p>
Post date: Monday, December 17, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-2012-all-big-12-team-recruits
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The merits of recruiting rankings are debated in every sports bar and around every water cooler in the nation. Athlon continues its look at how each All-Conference team ranked as high school recruits with the first-team All-Big 12 team.

Related: College Football's 2012 All-American Team as Recruits

2012 Offensive All-Big 12 Team as Recruits

Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State (2008)
Hailing from Loveland (Colo.) High School, Klein was incorrectly tabbed as a pro-style passer and only a three-star prospect. He was the No. 21 pro passer in the nation and the No. 8-rated player in the state by Rivals. He had one FBS offer and that was from the Wildcats.

Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State (2010) National Recruit
The Wichita (Kan.) Southeast product came out of the same city as Bryce Brown one year later. It turns out the four-star tailback had the much better college career. He was the No. 20-rated running back in the nation and the No. 195-rated prospect overall by the Athlon Consensus 100. Everyone on his list offered him a scholarship except for Oklahoma. In two games as the starter against OU, Randle rushed for 264 yards, caught six passes and scored six touchdowns. People don’t forget.

John Hubert, RB, Kansas State (2009)
The smallish running back played at Midway High School in Waco, Texas, before signing with KSU. He was unranked in the state, nationally or at his position and got three FBS offers. He picked the Wildcats over North Texas and Louisiana Tech and has played with a chip on his shoulder ever since.

Trey Millard, FB, Oklahoma (2010) National Recruit
The do-everything player for the Sooners could probably qualify as a tight end, H-back, running back, fullback and special teams tackler for Oklahoma. Coming out of Columbia (Mo.) Rock Bridge, however, he was ranked as a four-star tight end prospect. Rivals listed him as the No. 15 player at his position and the No. 5-rated player in the state. He picked OU over offers from Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, South Carolina, Stanford and Tennessee.

Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia (2009) National Recruit
The record-setting receiver played with quarterback Geno Smith at Miramar (Fla.) High School. He was a four-star prospect who was ranked as the No. 61 player in the state of Florida and the No. 48-rated wide receiver in the nation. South Carolina, Wisconsin, Rutgers, Iowa and Ole Miss are the biggest names on his offer sheet outside of the Mountaineers. Once Smith picked WVU, however, the battle for Bailey was likely over.

Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor (2008)
The electric playmaker hails from Dallas (Texas) W.T. White and held only one other offer to play college football aside from Baylor. Colorado State is the only other program to give Williams a chance out of high school. He was a two-star athlete prospect who was unranked by anyone in anyway. He has clearly proven the scouts wrong as one of the top wideout prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Tavon Austin, AP, West Virginia (2009) National Recruit
The dynamic athlete signed with West Virginia out of Baltimore (Md.) Dunbar and was ranked behind only Jelani Jenkins (Florida) and Darrell Givens (Penn State) in his state. He was the No. 19-rated running back prospect in the nation and the No. 164-overall player in the class. He held offers from Pitt and Rutgers from the Big East, Michigan and Illinois from the Big Ten as well as Maryland, North Carolina and Boston College in the ACC. He ended his career, ironically, in the Big 12.

Travis Tannahill, TE, Kansas State (2008)
The in-state tight end was a two-star recruit from Olathe (Kan.) East High School. He was the No. 11-rated prospect in the state by Rivals and had no other schools of interest on his list. He was headed to the Little Apple all along.

Cyril Richardson, OL, Baylor (2009)
The big blocker from Crowley (Texas) North was interested in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas Tech as well as Baylor. The Bears, however, were the only school smart enough to offer the three-star prospect. He was the No. 90-rated offensive tackle recruit in the nation by Rivals and every coaching staff in the region whiffed on this potential NFL Draft pick.

Cornelius Lucas, OL, Kansas State (2009)
Lucas got one BCS offer coming out of New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr and that was from KSU. His other FBS scholarships came from Louisiana Tech, UL Monroe and Tulane. The two-star prospect by Rivals was considered the No. 52 player in the state in 2009.

Gabe Ikard, OL, Oklahoma (2009)
The Oklahoma City (Okla.) Bishop McGuinness recruit was a three-star tight end prospect who was listed at 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds by Rivals. He was the No. 15-rated tight end in the nation and the No. 14-rated player in the state. Despite his middling ranking, Ikard had an impressive offer sheet that included Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Stanford, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.

Lane Taylor, OL, Oklahoma State (2008)
Taylor continues the trend of underrated Big 12 blocking recruits. He was a two-star guard prospect from Arlington (Texas) Martin and he held just one other BCS offer other than Oklahoma State (Kansas). He also got looks from SMU, Utah, UNLV, North Texas, New Mexico and Colorado State. He wasn’t ranked in the state rankings or any position lists either.

LaAdrian Waddle, OL, Texas Tech (2009)
Only two BCS programs offered the blocker from Columbus (Texas) High with Ole Miss the only other big program to give Waddle a chance. Houston, Rice, SMU, Tulane and TCU each offered as well. He was a three-star prospect and was considered the No. 74-rated offensive guard in the nation by Rivals.

Related: The Athlon Consensus 100

2012 Defensive All-Big 12 Team as Recruits

Jake McDonough, DL, Iowa State (2008)
The Iowa State blocker held two offers coming out of West Des Moines (Iowa) Valley High back in 2008. Iowa State and Kansas were the only schools interested in 6-foot-6, 238-pound prospect. Rivals ranked him as a three-star defensive end recruit — the 47th end in the nation and the No. 4-rated player in the state of Iowa.

Meshak Williams, DL, Kansas State (2011) JUCO
Originally from Sylvester (Ga.) Worth County, Williams landed at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. A few years later, he was a three-star prospect who picked Kansas State over UAB. He was the No. 37-rated junior college recruit in the nation.

Calvin Barnett, DL, Oklahoma State (2012) JUCO
Barnett was originally a four-star national recruit from Tulsa (Okla.) Booker T. Washington in 2010. He was the No. 20-rated defensive lineman and the No. 221-rated overall player by Athlon Sports. He signed with Arkansas over major powers like LSU, Oklahoma, UCLA and Oklahoma State. But he played two seasons at Navarro J.C. in Corsicana, Texas, before ending up in Stillwater, Okla. Barnett was then ranked as the No. 35-rated JUCO prospect in the nation (a three-star) and picked Okie State over Arkansas, Baylor, USF, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.

Devonte Fields, DL, TCU (2012) National Recruit
Fields is one of the highest-rated prospects to ever sign with TCU. He just missed landing in the AC100 as the No. 122-rated player in the nation. From Arlington (Texas) Martin, he was the No. 27-rated defensive lineman in the nation and had offers from major powers like Oklahoma, Michigan, Missouri and Texas A&M as well as Baylor, Kansas State and Arizona.

Stansly Maponga, DL, TCU (2009)
Widely overlooked by the BCS conferences, Maponga's best offers were from Boise State, Iowa State and TCU. The Lewisville (Texas) Hebron prospect was a three-star recruit who ranked as the 29th best strongside defensive end by Rivals. Needless to say, the scouts missed on the productive Horned Frogs defensive end,

Alex Okafor, DL, Texas (2009) AC100
Okafor is arguably the most touted prospect on the 2012 All-Big 12 team. He was the No. 40-rated player in the nation in 2009 and was considered the No. 3-rated defensive end in the nation. The Pflugerville (Texas) High prospect was No. 8-rated player in the state of Texas by Athlon Sports. Rivals gave him the coveted fifth star.

Jake Knott, LB, Iowa State (2009)
The tackling machine was interested in five schools as a recruit: Iowa State, Missouri, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin. But the Cyclones were the only school of the five to offer him a scholarship. Wyoming, Northern Illinois and Army were the only other FBS programs to offer the two-star linebacker a scholarship. Rivals ranked him as the No. 9 player in the state of Iowa out of Waukee High School.

Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State (2008) AC100
The star linebacker from Wichita (Kan.) East was the best prospect at his position in the nation back in 2008. He was obviously the top player in the state and was No. 7 in the AC100. Brown could have played anywhere he wanted, but signed with Miami out of high school. After transferring home to Kansas State, Brown blossomed into one of the nation’s top linebackers.

AJ Klein, LB, Iowa State (2009)
The Kimberly (Wisc.) High prospect was a three-star recruit by Rivals. He was ranked as the No. 86 linebacker in the nation and the No. 6-best player in the state of Wisconsin. He picked the Cyclones over Northern Illinois, Western Michigan and Wyoming.

Ty Zimmerman, DB, Kansas State (2009)
The star safety was unranked by Rivals at his position or within his state by all other recruiting services. He was a two-star prospect from Junction City (Kan.) High who held offers only from Northern Iowa and Northern Illinois as well as Kansas State.

Kenny Vaccaro, DB, Texas (2009)
The talented safety hails from Brownwood (Texas) Early and was a big-time prospect that nearly every school wanted. He was the No. 33-rated defensive back in the nation and the No. 215-rated overall prospect in the nation by Athlon Sports. He was a four-star recruit who had his pick of school: Florida, Oklahoma, Stanford, TCU, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor.

Tony Jefferson, DB, Oklahoma (2010) AC100
The Chula Vista (Calif.) Eastlake prospect was the No. 1-rated “athlete” in the nation by Athlon Sports. He was the No. 25-rated player in the entire nation and had his pick of scholarship offers. Every major power program in the nation wanted the No. 5-rated player in the state of California.

Jason Verrett, DB, TCU (2011) JUCO
Originally from Fairfield (Calif.) Rodriguez, the TCU safety played at Santa Rosa junior college before signing with TCU. He was a three-star prospect who ranked as the No. 6 junior college defensive back and was the No. 35-rated overall JUCO prospect by Rivals. Verrett was offered by Boise State, UTEP and San Jose State as well as TCU in 2011.

Aaron Colvin, DB, Oklahoma (2010)
The Owasso (Okla.) High cornerback was a three-star prospect by Rivals. He was rated as the No. 12 player in the state and the No. 31 defensive back in the nation. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Missouri were by far his best offers to play college football as North Texas, Tulsa and UNLV offered Colvin scholarships as well.

Teaser:
<p> College Football 2012 All-Big 12 Team As Recruits</p>
Post date: Monday, December 17, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /college-basketball/5-amazing-college-basketball-stats-week-dec-11-dec-16
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With 347 Division I teams, following college basketball can be overwhelming. Let Athlon Sports start your college hoops week each Monday with a look at some of the most intriguing, most important and most interesting stats from around the sport:

0: Second-half baskets by Cody Zeller against Butler
The big superstar center for the unbeaten No. 1 team in the nation was virtually invincible in the second half against Butler on Saturday. He went 0-of-2 from the floor in the second half and Indiana needed a 7-2 run the in final 32 seconds to simply force the game into overtime. Zeller knocked down two buckets and two free throws in overtime but it was too little too late for the candy stripers. Brad Stevens did a miraculous job juggling a frontcourt lineup that watched Roosevelt Jones (16 pts, 12 rebs), Andrew Smith (12 pts, 9 rebs) and Erik Fromm (10 pts, 5 rebs) foul out.

21: Combined NCAA appearances by 7 schools departing the Big East since 2005
Marquette (seven NCAA appearances since 2005-06), Georgetown (six), Villanova (six), Seton Hall (one), St. John's (one), Providence and DePaul voted to unanimously leave the Big East this weekend. Since the Big East expanded in 2005-06, these seven programs have been to the NCAA tournament 21 times and made two Final Four runs. The group will "create a new identity" on their own and could look to add other  basketball-focsued schools to their seven-team spin-off.

32.5: Average margin of victory for Kansas in its last two games
The Jayhawks played two tournament bound teams in a seven-day period of time last week. Colorado and Belmont aren't college hoops superpowers by any means, but both are quality teams this year with a good shot of landing in the Big Dance come March. The Buffaloes were 7-1 when Kansas pummeled them by 36 points (90-54). Belmont was 7-2 when they headed to Allen Fieldhouse this Saturday only to leave with a 29-point loss to Rock Chalk. Bill Self's team made a bold statement last week and will be a team to watch this week. Kansas will face Richmond (9-2) on Tuesday and then a top-10 Ohio State (8-1) team Saturday in what could be the best game of next weekend. Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey, the Jayhawks' top two scorers, have combined to shoot 52.5-percent from the floor thus far in 2012-2013. The duo was 11-of-17 in the win over the Bruins.

61: Points allowed in the second half by North Carolina to East Carolina
The Tar Heels led the Pirates 42-26 at halftime of their weekend contest. East Carolina then scored 61 second-half points turning what should have been an easy win into a six-point nail-bitter. The Heels won the game and moved to 8-2 overall, but that is a staggering lack of defense to a much less talented opponent. North Carolina allowed 83 points and lost by 24 to Indiana and allowed 82 points in an 11-point loss to Butler. Yahoo! RPI has North Carolina ranked No. 42 and Roy Williams team has yet to defeat an RPI top-50 program (0-2) and has one win over an RPI top-100 program.

2-of-20: Kenny Boyton's 3-point shooting in the last three games
After losing to the unbeaten Wildcats Saturday night, the Gators wrapped-up a nasty three-game set against Marquette, Florida State and Arizona with a 7-1 record. No thanks to Boynton's three-point prowess, however. He was 1-of-7 from behind the arc and 2-of-10 from the floor in the one-point road loss to the Wildcats. The senior shooting guard finished with five points, five rebounds, two assists and three turnovers. This performance comes on the heels of a 1-of-8 showing from three against the Seminoles and an 0-of-5 night from deep against the Golden Eagles. He is 8-of-33 (24.2 percent) overall in the last three games after shooting 44 percent from the field and 40.7 percent from 3-point range last season.

Teaser:
<p> 5 Amazing College Basketball Stats of the Week: Dec. 11-16</p>
Post date: Monday, December 17, 2012 - 04:50

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