Articles By Braden Gall

Path: /college-football/college-football-2012-all-big-12-team-recruits

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.


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 . 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.


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 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)
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)
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)
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.

<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

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.

<p> 5 Amazing College Basketball Stats of the Week: Dec. 11-16</p>
Post date: Monday, December 17, 2012 - 04:50
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/10-young-nba-players-who-will-be-hall-famers

From 1980 to 1989, the average NBA rookie class produced two Hall of Famers per year. In fact, 14 future Hall of Famers entered the NBA over a four-year period (1984-87) in the mid-80s.

To suggest that any player in any sport after just a few seasons is a lock to make the Hall of Fame is ridiculous. But it is always fun to look at athletes who have had instant success and try to extrapolate long-term potential. Limiting the scope to the last three rookie classes, here are the most likely future NBA Hall of Famers:

Class of 2012:

Anthony Davis, F/C, New Orleans
The 6-foot-10, 220-pounder entered the NBA as the consensus can’t-miss No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. After posting the , Davis and his trademarked unibrow debuted for the Hornets in style. He posted 21 points and seven rebounds in his rookie debut against Sacramento. Through eight career games, Davis is shooting 48.9-percent from the floor, 85.0-percent from the free throw line, averaging 15.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. He has missed seven games already and his wiry frame and potential for injury might be the only thing that prevent him from putting together a Hall of Fame career.

Damian Lillard, PG, Portland
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound floor leader from Oakland, Calif., was a proven commodity the second he stepped on a college court. He led Weber State to a conference title as a freshman before earning Big Sky Player of the Year honors twice in his career. It led to the Trail Blazers selecting him with the sixth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He promptly posted a double-double (23 pts, 11 asts) in his rookie debut and he has been excellent ever since. He is averaging 19.4 points, 6.4 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. Once he learns to limit his turnovers, he should become one of the league’s premiere point guards.

Other name to consider:

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Charlotte
He isn’t a great shooter and he isn’t a point guard or a center. But MKG can flat out hoop. He is a tough leader who stuffs the stat sheet across the board. He has been a winner at every stop and has elite athletic talents.

Class of 2011:

Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland
Coming out of St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, N.J., the 6-foot-3, 195-pounder was one of the nation’s top five prospects. He was electric in the first eight games of his Duke career, leading the team in scoring, before hurting his right foot. Irving returned for the NCAA Tournament, scoring 28 points in his final game against Arizona. He left Duke after 11 career games to be the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft on a LeBron-less Cavaliers team. After averaging 18.5 points on 46.8 percent shooting to go with 5.4 assists and 3.7 rebounds in 51 games, Irving claimed 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year honors. Irving appears to only be getting better, scoring over 20 points in seven of his first nine games this season while maintaining his efficient percentages and distributing the ball. His explosiveness, athletic ability and scoring touch have the Melbourne, Australia native poised for NBA greatness.

Ricky Rubio, PG, Minnesota
The 2011 season was the Barcelona, Spain native’s first season in the NBA, but it was far from his first professional tour. He played five years for DKV Joventut Badalona (Spain) before getting drafted fifth overall by the Timberwolves in the 2009 NBA Draft when he was only 18 years old. He then played two more seasons for FC Barcelona Basquet (Spain). His 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame and flashy passing skills have made Rubio the most heralded European prospect in the history of the game. So it should come as no surprise that he averaged 10.6 points, 8.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game in 41 games as a rookie last season. His year was cut short with an ACL tear in March but Minnesota is targeting a late December return for their star point guard.

Others names to Consider:

Kenneth Faried, PF, Denver
Few players are more difficult to box out on rebounds than the Morehead State product. He is averaging 12.4 points on 55 percent shooting and 10.0 rebounds per game in only his second year.

Kemba Walker, PG, Charlotte
This kid is a winner. He is a championship point guard on the college level who is using his quickness, basketball IQ and a killer jump shot to try and improve the Bobcats.

Class of 2010:

Blake Griffin, PF, LA Clippers
It took the Oklahoma Sooner an extra year to get to the NBA court after sitting out his first season with a knee injury, but he has quickly become one of the most dominant forces in the league. His athletic ability is second to none as massive dunks and demoralizing blocks are a part of his regular routine. He averaged a double-double in his first two seasons — 22.5 ppg, 12.1 rpg and 20.7 ppg, 10.9 rbg — and helped lead the Clippers to their first postseason berth since 2005 and only the franchise's second playoff run since 1996. As long as he stays healthy, there is little doubt Griffin will make a run at the Hall of Fame.

Greg Monroe, F/C, Detroit
The No. 1 recruit in the nation from New Orleans, La., signed with Georgetown and eventually was drafted with the seventh pick in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Pistons. Detroit has a rich history and tradition of producing elite players and the 6-foot-11, 250-pound center appears to be the next star. Though early in his third season, Monroe has increased his scoring, assists, steals and blocks per game averages every year of his professional career. He has averaged 8.6 rebounds per game and is a 51.8 percent shooter for his two-and-a-half season career.

Other name to consider:

DeMarcus Cousins, F/C, Sacramento
Elite upside and talents appear to be rounding into form. But will he stay focused and dedicated long enough to earn elite respect and credentials? Remains to be seen.

Just Missed the Cut:

John Wall, PG, Washington (2010)
Harrison Barnes, SF, Golden State (2012)
Chandler Parsons, SF, Houston (2011)
Klay Thompson, SG, Golden State (2011)
Dion Waiters, SG, Cleveland (2012)

<p> 10 Young NBA Players Who Will Be Hall of Famers</p>
Post date: Friday, December 14, 2012 - 04:50
Path: /college-football/2013-nfl-draft-rankings-defensive-ends

Each year a unique set of prospects enters the professional ranks with a chance to make an immediate impact on the country's most powerful sport. The 2013 NFL Draft, held April 25-27, won’t be any different.

Today, we rank college football's best defensive end prospects:

1. Damontre Moore, Texas A&M (6-4, 250, Jr.)
Versatility is the name of the game for Moore. He can play outside linebacker like a Jarvis Jones in a 3-4 scheme, can play either weakside or strongside end in a traditional 4-3 and could even slide inside on passing downs to get more pressure on the quarterback. He was moved from outside backer to true end for the 2012 season and his burst off of the edge helped him become a disruptive force. He finished with 80 total tackles, 12.5 sacks, 20.0 tackles for a loss, two blocked kicks and a forced fumble. And he did it against the SEC instead of the Big 12 this fall. Few players in this class are better pure pass rushers.

2. Sam Montgomery, LSU (6-5, 260, Jr.)
He hasn't been as flashy as some of the other names on this list but his upside is huge. He has a perfect frame and pedigree to be an elite NFL player. He has great size for a pure end and plays much tougher at the point of attack than some of his smaller counterparts at this position. He led the Tigers in sacks (7.0) in 2012 and finished with 12.0 tackles for a loss for one of the SEC's best defenses. A struggle against potential first-rounder Luke Joeckel might hurt his stock though.

3. Bjoern Werner, Florida State (6-4, 255, Jr.)
A small recruit from a small school in Connecticut, Werner developed into one of the best defensive players on a great defense. He posted 40 tackles, 18.0 tackles for a loss and led the ACC in sacks with 13.0 — three of which came against the Florida Gators. Once counterpart Brandon Jenkins was injured (Week 1), offenses began to focus on him more often, causing his production to slow a bit throughout the season (he had four sacks against Murray State in the season opener). However, his size, strength and work ethic gives him little downside when it comes to the next level.

4. Barkevious Mingo, LSU (6-5, 240, Jr.)
Comparing him to teammate Montgomery is extremely difficult. Mingo is rangier, lankier and a bit more explosive. But he isn't as fundamentally sound or as strong at the point of attack. He may be a better fit as a rush outside backer in a 3-4 whereas Montgomery could play in either scheme. His 2012 season was quieter than expected for LSU, as he finished with 33 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss and just 4.0 sacks. He did pressure the QB 12 times this season and his upside alone will make him an intriguing name to follow leading up to the draft in April.

5. Corey Lemonier, Auburn (6-4, 240, Jr.)
The talented edge rusher might be the only bright spot on an otherwise worthless 2012 Auburn squad. This is partly why he failed to build on a huge sophomore season in 2011 (47 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 9.5 sacks). He finished with just 34 tackles, 5.5 TFL and 5.5 sacks last fall. Yet, he has 25 quarterback hurries over the last two seasons and his raw potential is still elite. He has great size and athletic ability and scouts will love what they see from him in terms of upside. He should still grade out as a first-round pick.

6. William Gholston, Michigan State (6-6, 275, Jr.)
This is the definition of risk versus reward. Gholston has elite raw talent, potential and upside. He is big, long, powerful and productive against both the run and the pass. But he also has been suspended multiple times and has a demonstrated a lack of focus on occasion. This past season, he posted 50 tackles, 12.0 for a loss and just 3.5 sacks without the help of his 2011 running mate, current Green Bay Packer Jerel Worthy. He could play anywhere along the line and in any scheme — if scouts can figure out a way to keep him focused, out of trouble and how to maximize his potential.

7. Dion Jordan, Oregon (6-6, 245, Sr.)
Jordan is a very similar prospect to that of Gholston with a few small differences. Jordan offers more versatility, at times standing up in more of an outside linebacker position. But like Gholston, he never really utilized his talents to the fullest potential. That said, 2012 was his best season as he posted 44 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks for what many believe is Oregon's best defense since Haloti Ngata was a Duck. He forced three fumbles this fall and graded out very well at the Combine thanks to his freakish natural athletic ability and raw size.

8. Ezekiel Ansah, BYU (6-5, 270, Sr.)
The Cougars' big defensive lineman boasts a unique combination of size and speed that already have scouts and other draft analysts excited. He is a raw prospect with much to learn about the end, tackle or outside backer position. He could play in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme at a variety of positions. Kyle Van Noy got most of the offensive line attention for the Cougars, but Ansah showed loads of growth in 2012. He posted 57 tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. In a deep end class, Ansah could very well end up as a first-round selection.

9. Tank Carradine, Florida State (6-4, 255, Sr.)
Prior to a major knee injury late in the year, Cornellius "Tank" Carradine had first round written all over him. But his injury will hurt his stock and some team could get a steal should he fall too far past the first day. He posted 80 tackles, 13.0 tackles for a loss and 11.0 sacks in 11 games this past season before the injury. 

10. Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas (6-5, 245, Jr.)
His father, Jim, has had this prospect well-coached and well-prepared his entire young career. He is as fundamentally sound as someone of his age and experience can be. He knows the position and has very little downside on the NFL level. But a torn pectoral muscle ended his junior season after just five games. He had 21 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss and 4.0 sacks to start the season and his loss was a big part of Texas' struggles on defense in Big 12 play. If he can prove he's healthy, his stock should sky rocket.

11. Alex Okafor, Texas (6-5, 260, Sr.)
A slightly bigger version of Jeffcoat, Okafor is a prototypical end prospect. He posted 46 tackles, 11.5 for a loss, 8.0 sacks and three forced fumbles as a senior.

12. John Simon, Ohio State (6-2, 260, Sr.)
One of the strongest, hardest workers in this class will have to overcome his obvious lack of size and speed. He registered 44 tackles, 14.5 tackles for a loss and led the Big Ten in sacks with 9.0 last season.

13. Morgan Breslin, USC (6-2, 250, Jr.)
In one short season at USC, Breslin made a huge impact. He finished second in the league in sacks (12.0) and had 53 total tackles to go with 18.0 tackles for a loss.

14. Will Sutton, Arizona State (6-2, 270, Jr.)
The Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year is undersized and constantly banged up, but he is a disruptive force to be reckoned with. He finished with 58 tackles, a league-leading 20.0 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. Could play end or tackle.

15. Quanterus Smith, Western Kentucky (6-5, 250, Sr.)
He missed two games but still led the nation in sacks per game (1.25). He had 38 tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss and 12.5 sacks as well as a 75-yard INT returned for a TD. The level of competition he faced as a Hilltopper will be his big question mark moving forward.

Best of the Rest:

16. Malliciah Goodman, Clemson (6-4, 280, Sr.)
17. Michael Buchanan, Illinois (6-5, 240, Sr.)
18. Scott Crichton, Oregon State (6-3, 265, rSo.)
19. Datone Jones, UCLA (6-4, 275, Sr.)
20. Devin Taylor, South Carolina (6-7, 270, Sr.)
21. Dominique Easley, Florida (6-2, 280, Jr.)
22. Kareem Martin, North Carolina (6-6, 260, Jr.)
23. Kapron Lewis-Moore, Notre Dame (6-3, 300, Sr.)
24. Stansly Maponga, TCU (6-2, 265, Jr.)
25. Brandon Jenkins, Florida State (6-3, 260, Sr.)
26. James Gayle, Virginia Tech (6-4, 270, Jr.)
27. Margus Hunt, SMU (6-7, 280, Sr.)
28. Lavar Edwards, LSU (6-4, 260, Sr.)
29. Wes Horton, USC (6-5, 260, Sr.)
30. Cameron Meredith, Nebraska (6-4, 265, Sr.)

Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:

<p> 2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Defensive Ends</p>
Post date: Friday, December 14, 2012 - 04:50
Path: /college-football/college-football-2012-all-america-team-recruits

The merits of recruiting rankings are debated in every sports bar and around every water cooler in the nation. But one quick look at the 2012 Associated Press All-America team, and it is hard to argue. Six of the 23 members (kickers and punters not included) were ranked in the (Athlon's top 100) while seven others were four-star — or "national" recruits. So 13 of the 23 were considered elite prospects that were coveted by every school in the nation.

Additionally, 16 of the 23 were ranked as one the top 10 recruits in their respective state while 13 of those names were ranked as one of the top five players in the state. Eight of the 23 names below were ranked as one of the 10 best players at their position nationally as well. Only three players were two-star recruits.

Clearly, recruiting rankings matter.

2012 Offensive All-Americans 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 scholarships to major conference programs. 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.

Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin (2009) National Recruit
Ball came to Wisconsin as the Class 5A Missouri State Player of the Year after rushing for 8,222 yards and 107 touchdowns at Wentzville (Mo.) Timberland. He was rated by 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.

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.

Marqise Lee, WR, USC (2011)
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 AC100 wide receivers George Farmer (2011), Robert Woods (2010) and four-star Paul Richardson (2010). How did anyone stop that passing attack?

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 was the only other program to offer Williams an opportunity out of high school. He was a two-star athlete prospect who was unranked by any scouting service in any way, shape or form. He has clearly proven the scouts wrong as one of the top wideout prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Zach 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.

Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M (2010) National Recruit
The offensive tackle from Arlington (Texas) High barely missed landing in the . He was the No. 106-rated overall prospect in the nation regardless of position. He was the 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.

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 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 Arizona by Rivals.

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 He was a three-star prospect.

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.

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.

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.



2012 Defensive All-Americans as Recruits:

Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina (2011)
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.

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.

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.

Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame (2009)
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.

Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia (2009)
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 as a linebacker from Theodore (Ala.) High. He was the No. 113-rated overall prospect in the nation. Mosley finished as the No. 9-rated linebacker in the nation and the No. 3-rated 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.

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 four programs interested in the two-star prospect. Rivals rated him as the No. 8-best player in the state of Oregon.

Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama (2010)
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.

Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State (2007)
The star safety was a 6-foot-1, 180-pound two-star prospect from Bakersfield (Calif.) High School who signed with Fresno State. He has redshirted and missed an entire year with injury but has persevered to finish his career an All-American. He was unranked by any and all scouting services and held only one FBS offer (Fresno State) to play football.

Matt Elam, S, Florida (2010)
The hardest hitter in the nation hails from West Palm Beach (Fla.) Dwyer was a star at an early age. Elam was the No. 1-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.

<p> College Football 2012 All-America Team As Recruits</p>
Post date: Thursday, December 13, 2012 - 05:05
Path: /news/manziel-mariota-highlight-best-redshirt-freshmen-qb-class-ever

Technically, Johnny Manziel is a sophomore. So are Notre Dame’s Everett Golson and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.

Manziel, like Mariota and Golson, has been a student-athlete for two football seasons. He graduated high school in 2011. And he undoubtedly won the Heisman Trophy in part because he had one year of preparation in College Station. Would Manziel have won the trophy in 2011 as a true freshman with Ryan Tannehill still on the roster? With Mike Sherman as his head coach? Without the SEC spotlight?

The answer is no chance. A new coach, a new system, a new league, a vacancy at quarterback and one full season to adjust to college life helped Manziel get to New York.

The decision to redshirt turned out to be the best thing to ever happen to Johnny Heisman. Most elite athletes' biggest hurdle when moving from the high school to collegiate ranks isn’t the opposition on Saturdays. It’s adjusting to the college lifestyle and all of the stresses and trappings that go along with it. Learning how to go to class, study, adjust to practice routines and increased training regiments all while trying to play football against the nation’s best is an extremely difficult process. As we have just seen, being allowed to adjust off of the field while not having to produce on it can be the difference between a Heisman Trophy and riding the bench.

Like Texas A&M, Notre Dame and Oregon are just two of many programs that used successful redshirt freshman quarterbacks to have great seasons in 2012. Except, the Irish don’t recognize Golson as a freshman. Neither does Stanford with its starting quarterback Kevin Hogan. That is because they are sophomores in the eyes of the school.

But just like Manziel, that extra year has made all the difference for Notre Dame. Or Oregon. Or Stanford. In fact, Manziel headlines what might be considered the best redshirt freshman quarterback class in history.

Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
This story is already well-documented. With eye-popping joystick moves, elite speed and gutsy throws, Manziel led the Aggies to a 10-2 record and its first Heisman Trophy since John David Crow won the award in 1957. Few players had as big an impact on the game in one year as Johnny Heisman.

Marcus Mariota, Oregon
The Ducks came up just short of playing for the national championship with an overtime loss at home to Stanford costing them a trip to Miami Gardens and a Pac-12 championship. However, the laidback Hawaiian passer made fans forget about Darron Thomas in short order. He led what many believe is the nation’s top offense to an 11-1 record while leading the Pac-12 in passing efficiency and leading the nation in road passer rating. He scored 34 total touchdowns against only six interceptions and is poised for huge things in Eugene.

Brett Hundley, UCLA
The dynamic Bruins quarterback debuted in Pasadena in Week 2 with a 300-yard passing game and four touchdowns in a win over favored Nebraska. The Chandler, Ariz., native set single-season UCLA passing records and total offense numbers while leading UCLA to an improbable Pac-12 South Division title under new coach Jim Mora. Hundley was a god-send (3,776 total yards, 35 total TD) for a program that has been craving quality quarterback play for more than a decade.

Everett Golson, Notre Dame
It took him some time and he dealt with adversity, but Golson has blossomed into a national championship quarterback. Yes, his defense carried the team early, but this dual-threat ability could be the key to an Irish upset over Alabama. After missing the BYU game with a head injury, Golson flourished under center in the toughest of positions. He scored 10 of his 16 touchdowns in the final month of the season, beginning with a clutch performance against Oklahoma. He posted the best passing game of his career against Wake Forest (career high 346 yards, 3 TD) and will have to make some key second-half plays against the Crimson Tide if Notre Dame wants to win the BCS title.

Trevone Boykin, TCU
Gary Patterson had to turn over the reins to his Horned Frogs offense much earlier than anticipated when Casey Pachall left the team early in the season. Boykin took over against Iowa State in Week 6 and never looked back. He threw three interceptions in his first start, but he bounced back with five total touchdowns and more than 300 yards of offense in a road win over Baylor the next week. He averaged 222 yards passing and accounted for 17 touchdowns in eight Big 12 starts, including wins over Texas and West Virginia. The Mesquite, Texas, product wasn’t supposed to start until 2014, so Frogs fans should be excited about Boykins' potential growth.

Kevin Hogan, Stanford
It obviously took David Shaw too long to make the switch from Josh Nunes to Kevin Hogan. Nunes threw for 208.3 yards per game, 10 touchdowns and seven picks in the first eight games. Then, after five attempts against Colorado, Shaw pulled Nunes permanently for Hogan. The redshirt accounted for 1,157 total yards (193 rushing) and 10 touchdowns in five starts and led his team to consecutive wins over Oregon State, Oregon and UCLA twice to win the Pac-12 championship.

Joel Stave, Wisconsin
The Badgers' offense was totally one-dimensional under supposed savior Danny O’Brien. The lanky walk-on was inserted into the starting lineup and Wisconsin discovered the passing game once again. He was leading the Big Ten in passing efficiency with a 4-1 record as a starter until breaking his collarbone against Michigan State. In fact, Stave left both the Nebraska and Michigan State games with leads only to watch his team lose with him on the sideline. He has the frame (6-5, 225) and arm to be a four-year starter in Madison.

Each one of these names appears ready for a long and successful career on the college gridiron. All but Boykin played on a team that either won 10 games or its conference championship, or in Golson’s case, is playing for the ultimate prize. Boykin and Manziel had to endure conference changes while Hundley and Manziel dealt with coaching changes.

The Heisman Foundation finally jettisoned its bizarre age bias by giving the trophy to the first redshirt freshman in history. It also appears head coaches at major power programs have decided that these youngsters are ready to handle the pressures of big-time college football.

With potentially three more seasons left in the tank, it appears the fans will be the biggest winners in Eugene, College Station and Los Angeles. 

<p> Manziel, Mariota Highlight Best Redshirt Freshman QB Class Ever</p>
Post date: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - 05:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/15-young-nfl-players-who-will-be-hall-famers

Projecting the Hall of Fame is virtually impossible, especially for the youngest athletes in football. Yet, rookies are expected to contribute quicker than ever on the NFL gridiron and a few have made a big splash in short order.

The top story of the 2012 NFL season is the play of the rookie quarterbacks. These young players are already establishing themselves as irreplaceable pieces to the NFL puzzle. But Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III aren’t the only once-in-a-lifetime players to make their debut in the NFL recently.

Limiting the scope to the last three rookie classes, here are the most likely future Pro Football Hall of Famers:

Class of 2010: 

Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, NY Giants
In his first two seasons, he played in all 32 games and helped the Giants win a Super Bowl last fall. He posted 4.5 sacks as a rookie with 22 total tackles. He blossomed as a second-year player into one of the league’s top defensive ends with 93 tackles and 16.5 sacks. He recorded his first career interception in 2012 and has the Giants poised to win the NFC East with another great season. He may be the most physically gifted defensive end in the NFL.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England
The only thing that will keep The Gronk from Canton will be his injury history. He has missed a lot of time early in his career, but when he is on the field, he might be the best red zone target in the league. He has caught 37 touchdowns in 42 career games and has Tom Brady throwing him passes for at least a few more seasons. At 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds with more than a little crazy in his game, Gronkowski’s only speed bump to NFL immortality is staying healthy — which is tough considering his complete disregard for personal safety.

Mike Iupati, OL, San Francisco
The Niners have seen a remarkable turnaround under new head coach Jim Harbaugh. Much of that can be attributed to what might be the best offensive line in the league. Iupati, drafted in the first round, has started every single game of his NFL career and has watched the 49ers' rushing attack flourish. After averaging 103.6 yards per game in 2010, SanFran rushed for 127.8 yards per game in 2011 and is currently No. 2 in the NFL at 161.5 yards per game this fall. The 6-foot-5, 330-pound mauler should be a mainstay in the Bay Area for years to come.

NaVorro Bowman, LB, San Francisco
The 2010 draft was a great one for the Niners as not only was the offensive line rebuilt with Iupati and Anthony Davis, but so was the defense with this third-round steal. Bowman was an All-American at Penn State and proved in his first season as an NFL starter that he was going to be around for a while. He posted 150 tackles in 16 starts in 2011 and, after getting a long-term contract extension, is having another great season this fall. Along with Patrick Willis, Bowman is half of the best LB duo in the NFL.

Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans
Sometimes it can be all about timing and Graham couldn’t have landed in a better spot. The 6-foot-7, 260-pound basketball player from Miami fell into a perfect position to succeed for the Saints. He finished third in the NFL with 99 catches, seventh with 1,310 yards and was one of only five players with double-digit touchdowns (11) last season. His encore performance this fall hasn't been as quite as eye-popping, but the athletic Graham is on pace for nearly 80 catches, 900 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.

Others names from this class to consider:

Ndamakong Suh, DT, Detroit
Elite-level player with all the tools to be an all-time great, but needs to mature.

Geno Atkins, DT, Cincinnati
A fourth-round steal on draft day is already an All-Pro performer.

Maurkice Pouncey, C, Pittsburgh
Elite high school prospect, elite college prospect and now an All-Pro in the NFL.

Class of 2011:

AJ Green, WR, Cincinnati
Few players have ever started their career like Green. The superstar talent from Georgia was one of the most coveted pass-catchers in the nation as both a recruit and draft pick. All he has done is catch 144 passes for 2,208 yards and 17 touchdowns — including a league-leading 10 scores thus far in 2012 — and helped the Bengals reach the postseason last fall. He is an elite red zone target, can stretch the field and has tremendous open field ability as well. He is the complete package at wide receiver.

Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, San Francisco
The youngster out of Missouri was looked at as a project on the NFL level but his elite talents were obvious. Well, the project turned into a star quicker than expected as Smith posted 14.0 sacks as a rookie without technically starting a game. He has only gotten better in Year 2. Smith is downright unblockable and has already set the 49ers' single-season sack record (19.5). With three games left, he is eyeing Michael Strahan’s NFL single-season record (22.5).

JJ Watt, DE, Houston
From pizza boy tight end to Big Ten Rose Bowl star to NFL rookie of the year candidate. The former Wisconsin Badgers end has started every game of his short career and made history by returning an interception for a touchdown in his first postseason game (and Houston’s first postseason win). He trails only Smith in sacks (16.5) this season and is constantly wrecking havoc on the D-Line.

Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta
The weapons Matt Ryan has in Atlanta are unreal. Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez certainly make life easier for Jones in the passing game, but make no mistake; the former Alabama star is the real deal. He was the No. 1 wide receiver prospect in the nation coming out of high school and has only gotten better with age. He is an athletic freak at 6-4 and 220 pounds. He has already passed his rookie reception and yardage totals and is poised for a long career in the NFL.

Von Miller, OLB/DE, Denver
The dynamic pass-rusher from Texas A&M earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in his first season after posting 65 tackles, 11.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2011. He is poised to shatter all of those numbers this season with 57 tackles, 16.0 sacks and six forced fumbles with three games left to play in 2012. Denver cruised to the AFC West title this year and it wasn’t just because of Peyton Manning. Miller is the future of the Broncos franchise and could be an all-time great. 

Other names from this class to consider:

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina
If he always played like he did against Atlanta, he will be special. Needs to learn how to win.

Ryan Kerrigan, DE/OLB, Washington
Playmaker who posted a huge rookie year and has proven it was no fluke this season.

Class of 2012:

Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis
The Colts were 2-14 in 2011 and it landed them Mr. Luck. All the rookie QB has done is lead his team to a 9-4 record and has been smashing rookie passing records along the way. He is poised to post the best passing season for a rookie in the history of the sport and he is already one of the league’s most clutch performers. He was an elite Top 100 prospect in high school and has proven to be worthy of the top overall pick.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington
The biggest issue with RG3 won’t be his accuracy, ability to protect the football, win games or produce big numbers. It will be his ability to stay healthy long enough to earn Hall of Fame status. He, like Luck, is a great leader who sets an example for all of those around him. Yet, his style of play has already proven to be a concern as he takes entirely too many hits. He has already missed time due to a concussion as well as a twisted knee. He has the Skins above .500 and has already broken Newton's rookie QB rushing record.

Matt Kalil, OL, Minnesota
The top tackle taken in the draft has played from Game 1 for the much-improved Vikings. According to Football Outsiders, Kalil has played 721 snaps and has allowed two sacks thus far in his first season. He is also paving the way for Adrian Peterson’s record-setting run at 2,000 yards. He was a coveted prospect in high school, had a great college career and appears to be a lockdown bookend tackle for Minnesota. Having an All-Pro older brother (Ryan) has helped as well.

Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay
He wasn’t the first running back taken in the draft, but he has been the most productive. The do-everything tailback was used all over the field as arguably the most successful Boise State runner in program history. His talents have translated instantly. He has tied the NFL record for TDs in a half (4), has a 250-yard rushing performance and is poised for 2,000 yards from scrimmage in his first season, as his ability to catch passes makes him one of the most dynamic players in this class.

Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina
The Boston College linebacker led the nation in tackles each season in college and was the top player taken at his position in the draft. All he is doing right now is leading the NFL in total tackles with 130 stops in his first 13 career games. The tackling machine is rarely out of position, doesn’t miss tackles and is the center building block on defense for the future of Panthers football.

Other names from this class to consider:

Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland
Elite player with rare skills, but will balky knees and playing for the Browns hurt his long-term stock?

LaVonte David, LB, Tampa Bay
Incredibly productive player on all levels is making quick impact for Bucs.

Morris Claiborne, CB, Dallas
Elite lock-down coverman has lived up to his status as the best corner in the draft.

Bobby Wagner, LB, Seattle
Burly, physical player who has produced at an high level right out of the gate.

Mark Barron, S, Tampa Bay
Has already shown he is a big hitter who has stabilized the back end of the Bucs' secondary.

<p> 10 Young NFL Players Who WIll Be Hall of Famers</p>
Post date: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /college-basketball/5-amazing-college-basketball-stats-week-dec-4-dec-10

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 intriuging, most important and most interesting stats from around the sport:

37: Total assists from Michael Carter-Williams last week
Syracuse defeated Eastern Michigan (84-48), Long Beach State (84-53) and Monmouth (108-56) with ease last week to move to 8-0. The freshman point guard Carter-Williams scored 41 points, grabbed 13 boards and added 11 steals in the three wins. Admirable, sure. But he also chipped in 37 assists in the wins — all three of which were double-doubles. He leads the nation in assists (10.4) by nearly two per game over New Orelans' Rarlensee Nelson (8.6).

35: Brandon Paul’s points in a win over Gonzaga
The senior guard has been leading the way for the surprising 10-0 Illini. But against their best competition to date, No. 10 Gonzaga, Paul lit up the boxscore in a 85-74 win. He knocked down 10 of 16 field goals, including five threes, and 10-of-11 free throws to finish with 35 points in 34 minutes. He added four rebounds, three assists, two blocks and three steals while turning the ball over twice.

2,979: Registered attendance for Texas-UCLA in Reliant Stadium
Two of the most powerful programs in college sports faced each other in Houston's Reliant Stadium, but you wouldn't have known it from the turnstiles. In the first weekend without the distraction of a full slate of college football, even the hometown Texas fans failed to show up. The two teams have a combined seven losses this season, including to teams like Chaminade and Cal Poly. UCLA's been in turmoil for several seasons under Ben Howland, and Rick Barnes' results have been uninspiring. Making an NFL stadium look like a high school gym only underscored the problems facing both programs. UCLA won 65-63, if anyone cares.

19: Wyoming’s comeback against Illinois State to stay unbeaten
Fourteen teams remain undefeated, including Larry Shyatt’s Cowboys. One of the most unlikely unbeaens put together a 19-point comeback on the road Saturday against Illinois State to improve to 10-0. As an assistant, Shyatt was the defensive mastermind of Florida's back-to-back national championship teams. The former Clemson coach has done a similar job at Wyoming as the Cowboys have allowed more than 60 points twice this season (69 to Colorado and 67 to Illinois State). The hot start may signal Wyoming adding its name as a contender in a deep and talented Mountain West.

26.2: Average number of 20 points-per-game scorers in each season over the last decade
Through the weekend, 28 players averaged at least 20 points per game. This is about on par for the trend over the last 10 years. Roughly 26 players per year have averaged 20 points per game over the last decade. However, a few outliers are worth keeping an eye on. In 2002-03, 45 players who topped the 20-point mark, and in 2007-08 there were 39. No other year has featured more than 28, but last season provided the lowest total in more than a decade as only 17 players scored at least 20 points per game. Should conference play slow scoring, that total could drop closer to last year’s total. The question then becomes will the lower scoring trend continue?

<p> 5 Amazing College Basketball Stats of the Week: Dec. 4-Dec. 10</p>
Post date: Monday, December 10, 2012 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, Overtime, News
Path: /college-basketball/worst-free-throw-attempt-history-basketball

Western Carolina (4-6) and Appalacian State (1-7) got together this weekend to play some basketball. But junior center Brian Okam stole the show for all the wrong reasons. We've seen underhanders, left-handers and plenty of airballs on the free throw line, but never have we ever seen an attempt this bad. As the commentator says, "Good Lord."

<p> The Worst Free Throw Attempt in the history of basketball</p>
Post date: Monday, December 10, 2012 - 08:42
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Cowboys, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/10-amazing-stats-nfl-sunday-week-14

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 14 of NFL play:

15.8: Points per game after the third quarter in Dallas' last five games
The Cowboys rallied once again to thrust themselves directly into the heart of the NFC East race by outscoring Cincinnati 10-0 in the fourth quarter. It was the fourth win in five weeks for the 'Boys and a big reason has been the way Dallas has finished games. The Cowboys have outscored their opponent in the final frame (and overtime) in each of the last five games and by a total of 79-34. That is a per game average of 15.8 points — or nearly three scoring drives per fourth quarter — while the opposition is averaging less than seven points in the final frame.

70: Days since the Eagles won a game
On the final play of the game after a stellar drive from yet another rookie quarterback; Andy Reid got his team back in the win column for the first time since September (Week 4, Sept. 30). Nick Foles connected with Jeremy Maclin from one yard out to cap a 13-play, 64-yard drive that covered the final 2:44 of time remaining. It is the first career win for the rookie signal caller from Arizona. More importantly, Tampa Bay falls to 6-7 in heart-breaking fashion while fellow 6-6 Wild Card contenders Dallas, Washington and Minnesota all won to jump the Bucs in the standings. Foles finished 32-of-51 passing for 381 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the win.

133.4: Yards per game Adrian Peterson needs to average to reach 2,000
All-Day Adrian continues to amaze in his return from ACL surgery. He rushed 31 times for 154 yards and two early touchdowns to power the Vikings to an upset win over the Chicago Bears. The win keeps Minnesota right in the thick of the Wild Card hunt and Peterson is inching closer to making history. He needs 133.4 yards per game in his final three to become just the seventh player to ever rush for 2,000 yards in a single season. He is on pace to set personal bests in rushing yards and receptions and is on pace for his second-best season in touches (373), carries (326) and rushing touchdowns (13). All of this less than a year removed from a torn ACL. 

Dec. 20, 1986: Last time the Giants scored 50 points
The Giants dominated the Saints Sunday evening to the tune of 52 points. It was the first time the franchise reached the 50-point plateau since a 55-24 win over Green Bay on Dec. 20, 1986. The team set a record for kickoff return yards (287) and first year tailback David Wilson set a Giants franchise record for all-purpose yards (327). He scored three touchdowns in the win. New York ran 61 offensive plays, 47 of which came in New Orleans territory, and sits one game ahead of the Eagles and Redskins in the NFC East.

72: Cam Newton's career-long run...
which was a key touchdown gallop down the left sideline in the big upset win over the Falcons. In what was likely his best performance as a pro, Newton completed 23-of-35 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns through the air to go with 116 yards rushing on nine carries and another score on the ground. He didn't turn the ball over once and handed Matt Ryan and Atlanta just their second loss of the season. It was his first career 100-yard rushing effort.

34: Most points allowed at home by Pittsburgh in over two years
The Steelers suffered their second straight home loss after allowing 34 points to a depleted and lame duck Chargers team. It is the first time a team scored 30 points at Heinz Field since Week 10 of 2010 when the Patriots scored 39 in a win. In the last eight home games, the Steelers allowed a total of 72 points — or 9.0 points per game — with an 8-1 record. The loss was the fourth overall in five games and it drops Pittsburgh into a tie with the Bengals in both the AFC North and AFC Wild Card standings. Ben Roethlisberger returned to complete 22-of-42 passes for 285 yards, three touchdowns and two turnovers. Two of his three scores came after the game was already well in hand for San Diego.

4.0: Points per play for Kirk Cousins
Cousins, a rookie from Michigan State, played in the second game of his career for Washington this Sunday. He threw two passes and tied the game with an 11-yard touchdown with less than 30 seconds left in the game. He then did his best Robert Griffin III, who had to leave the game after getting his knee twisted up on the final drive, impersonation by scoring the two-point conversion on a QB draw to send the game to overtime. One big punt return and a couple of Alfred Morris runs set up the game-winning field goal from Kai Forbath. Cousins is now 7-of-11 for 137 yards and three touchdowns in two games of spot duty for an injured RG3. The Redskins are now over .500, in the thick of the NFC East race and will be anxiously awaiting the results of Griffin's MRI Sunday evening.

38-0: Seattle's lead at halftime over Arizona
The Cardinals played the worst half of football in the history of their franchise against Seattle in Week 14. The Seahawks forced six turnovers, scored 38 points and rolled up 238 yards of offense to put the game out of reach before halftime. The 38 points marks the most points allowed by Arizona in one half and the Cardinals have lost nine straight games after starting the year 4-0. The Seahawks eventually ran the final score to 58-0, a franchise record for points scored, and forced eight total turnovers while allowing just nine first downs on defense. Cornerback Richard Sherman intercepted two passes — one he returned for a touchdown — and recovered a fumble. His four-game suspension for Adderall use is currently going through the league's appeals process.

6: Fourth quarter comebacks for Andrew Luck
The No. 1 overall pick led his team on a 13-point second-half comeback over the Titans in Week 14 to move the Colts to 9-4 on the season. In 13 starts as a rookie, Luck has now led six fourth-quarter comebacks in his short career. Indianapolis leads the AFC Wild Card chase by two games now and Luck, after 196 yards in the win, has 3,792 yards on the season. He passed Peyton Manning's Colts rookie record (3,739) and trails only Cam Newton's 4,051-yard record on the all-time rookie passing charts. Don't forget, the Colts won two games last year. 

10,228: Drunk Driving fatalities in this country in 2010
I am saddened to have to add this statistic, but after the Jerry Brown-Josh Brent tragedy, I feel some perspective is necessary. Drunk driving fatalities in this country have decreased every year but three since 1991, but, according to the CDC, over 10,000 people died in 2010 due to drunk-driving accidents. Or 28 people per day. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $51 billion according to CDC. But our loved ones suffer the worst cost. Jerry Brown is just one of 10,000 and it appears Brent (hopefully) understands the level of guilt he will suffer through the rest of his life. Because they played NFL football, the spotlight has been cast on the horrific accident that ended Brown's life. Don't let it go unnoticed.

<p> 8 Amazing Stats from NFL Sunday: Week 14</p>
Post date: Monday, December 10, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /news/what-if-heisman-was-awarded-after-national-championship

The Heisman Trophy is an inherently flawed award. That’s the bad news.

The great news is we the fans have the power to change it. Just six years ago, underclassmen weren’t really considered viable options, but Tim Tebow ended that discussion and now another second-year player could win the trophy this year. Charles Woodson is the only true defensive player to ever win the award back in 1997, but a linebacker could walk away a winner this Saturday. In fact, Manti Te’o is the third defensive Heisman finalist in the last four years (Tyrann Mathieu, Ndamukong Suh).

The voting for the Heisman is utterly counterintuitive as well. Hell, even CBS analyst Gary Danielson gave up his vote years ago because he can’t stand the voting structure. With only three names on each ballot, regional and personal agendas become over-amplified. If you have a bias against Manziel or Te’o it would be easy to leave them off of your ballot to have more of an impact on the voting.

Most importantly, however, the timing of the vote makes no sense.

The NFL awards its MVP for regular season play, but a team could play four games in the postseason. College football features a maximum of one postseason game (for now) per team. It makes no sense for the Heisman Trophy voting to take place before the BCS National Championship Game.

In just 15 seasons under the BCS system, there are a handful of Heisman winners who might not be winners had voting taken place after the national title game. This theory might be no more obvious than this season with Manti Te’o and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Johnny Manziel, Collin Klein and the Irish linebacker are all extremely deserving Heisman finalists. And Te’o could easily win the award this Saturday. But let’s say Manziel or Klein takes home the stiff-armed trophy and then Te’o dominates Alabama to win Notre Dame’s first national title in 25 years? If he posts 10 tackles and a sack, for example, against Bama’s other-worldly offensive line in a win over the Crimson Tide in the national title game, there would be no legitimate argument against Te’o as college football’s most outstanding player. Sorry, Aggies (either one), you would have no legs to stand on. There would be no hole on Te’o's Heisman resume — not even statistically.

And if the Irish get beaten into submission by Alabama, either Manziel or Klein would be the more deserving candidate.


But Te’o wouldn’t be the first player who lost the award because voters didn’t get to see them in the brightest and only spotlight that matters.

2005: Vince Young, QB, Texas
Reggie Bush won the 2005 Heisman Trophy, end of story. I don’t care what has happened since; Bush will always be ’05’s “Most Outstanding Player.” So the investigation and stripped award has nothing to do with the fact Vince Young deserved the trophy. His performance in the Rose Bowl — a game many believe is the greatest ever played on a college gridiron — was the most dominant performance the college game has ever seen. Young in 2005 was the most unstoppable force I’ve ever seen in college football. He finished third in the nation in passing efficiency, rushed for over 1,000 yards and led an offense that was the highest scoring (652 points) in the history of the sport. Bush was magical that year, but Young was better and should have his name on the great bronze statue.

2000: Josh Heupel, QB, Oklahoma
Chris Weinke was coming off of a national championship and led the No. 1 team to an unbeaten record and a third-straight trip to the BCS title game. His performance earned him the Heisman in 2000. Heupel finished No. 2 in the voting on his own unbeaten Oklahoma team. These two squared off in the BCS championship game and Weinke was completely shutdown. He threw 26 incompletions, was 1-of-15 on third down, threw two interceptions and the 'Noles' offense scored zero points in the loss to the Sooners. Heupel wasn’t dominant, but he completed 25-of-39 passes for 214 yards and finished as an undefeated national champion.

2008: Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
A trio of quarterbacks finished 1-2-3 in the Heisman voting in 2008. Sam Bradford was the winner on an unbeaten Oklahoma team destined for the national title game. Colt McCoy actually finished second, but it was reigning Heisman winner Tim Tebow who got the most first-place votes (309 to 300). Bradford and Tebow squared off in Miami for the BCS national championship and the Gators passer was the better player. He finished with 231 yards passing, 109 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the 24-14 win. Bradford finished with 256 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

2001: Ken Dorsey, QB, Miami
Dorsey was a fairly non-descript player on a loaded roster, but he finished third in the Heisman voting to Eric Crouch and Rex Grossman. The voting was extremely tight and the BCS MVP performance from Dorsey in a crushing win over Crouch means he likely would have won the trophy had voting taken place after the game. Dorsey was 22-of-35 passing for 362 yards with three first-half touchdowns and improved to 26-1 as the starter. Meanwhile, Crouch rushed for 114 yards on 22 carries and completed just 5-of-15 passes for 62 yards with no touchdowns and three sacks in the 37-14 loss. In fact, a case could be made that Grossman, who threw for 248 yards and four touchdowns in the Orange Bowl win over Maryland, was also more deserving following the title game.

1999: Michael Vick, QB, Virginia Tech
Ron Dayne was a run-away Heisman winner with 2,042 points to Joe Hamilton’s 994 and Michael Vick’s 319. Dayne had just become the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher on a team that eventually won the Rose Bowl behind his record-setting MVP performance against Stanford. But when it came to electricity on the field, few players matched Vick’s talents. He led Virginia Tech to its lone title game appearance that year in a matchup with the powerful Florida State Seminoles. After trailing 28-7 late in the second quarter, his dynamic play-making ability led four consecutive scoring drives to take a 29-28 lead as the game headed to the fourth quarter. The Noles scored 18 unanswered points in the fourth to put the game away, but Vick’s greatness was cemented in the Superdome that night. He rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown while throwing for 225 yards, no interceptions and another score in the air. Dayne was extremely deserving and proved it in Pasadena as the Big Ten's only back-to-back Rose Bowl MVP, but a strong case could be made for the Hokies' quarterback after his showcase in New Orleans.

<p> What if the Heisman was awarded after the National Championship?</p>
Post date: Thursday, December 6, 2012 - 05:15
Path: /college-football/20-best-college-football-stats-2012

Single-game, single-season and career records. School, conference and national benchmarks. Remarkable performances and embarrassing moments. The good, bad and ugly makes college football the great sport that it is today. Here are the 20 most intriguing, most important and most interesting college football stats of the 2012 season: 

0: First quarter TD allowed by Notre Dame
The Irish led the nation in scoring defense at 10.3 points per game. Five separate times, Notre Dame allowed less than a touchdown in a game — against programs likes Michigan, Michigan State and Miami. The Irish defense allowed nine offensive touchdowns all season, (2 rush, 7 pass) and the rushing defense finished fourth nationally at 92.4 yards per game. Needless to say, there is a reason they finished the season unbeaten.

54.7: Yardage difference in Alabama’s nation’s leading defense from 2011 to 2012
Alabama led the nation once again in total defense, allowing a paltry 246.0 yards per game in 2012. However, it was 54.7 more yards per game than the Crimson Tide’s No. 1-rated defense allowed a year ago. Although the 2012 numbers aren't bad, it puts into perspective just how dominant the 2011 Alabama defense was when it allowed just 191.3 yards and 8.8 points per game.

300: Yards receiving in a single-game by four separate players
Before this year, only 15 times had a wide receiver caught at least 300 yards in a single game and never before had it happened more than twice in a season. In 2012, it happened four times — three times on the same day. West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey (303) and Baylor’s Terrance Williams (314) did it in the same game as Arkansas’ Cobi Hamilton (303) did it in a loss to Rutgers on the same day. USC’s Marqise Lee (345) did it a month later against Arizona.

4: Times Washington State rushed for negative yards in a game
A team rushed for negative yards in a game 14 separate times in 2012 and four of them came from Washington State. Colorado posted the single-game low for rushing yards in a game with minus-21 against Stanford on Nov. 3, but Washington State takes the rushing cake by finishing with less than zero yards rushing against Stanford (-18), Oregon (-8), BYU (-5) and Utah (-4). Needless to say, the Cougars finished last in the nation in rushing (120th) with 29.1 yards per game.

214.3: Yards per game Auburn was outgained in SEC play
The Auburn Tigers averaged only 235.1 yards per game in eight SEC games. They allowed 449.4 yards per game on defense in those eight contests. The winless conference record was the first 0-8 SEC record on the Plains in the history of the storied Southern powerhouse. Mississippi State (216), LSU (183), Vanderbilt (212) and Ole Miss (213) posted SEC lows in yards allowed against Auburn, while Arkansas (321) and Georgia (238) posted their second-best defensive efforts of the year against Auburn. Hence, the hiring of offensive guru Gus Malzahn.

2045: Ka'Deem Carey's nation-best yards from scrimmage 
No player gained more yards from scrimmage than the Arizona running back this season. He led the nation in rushing at 146.4 yards per game, while setting the single-season school record for rushing yards at 1,757. His 366 yards against Colorado were a single-game Pac-12 record as well. He caught 33 passes for 288 yards for a team that went from four wins to seven. His nine 100-yard rushing efforts were second only to…

12: Nation’s best 100-yard rushing games from Jordan Lynch
The Huskies of NIU are the first MAC team to ever land a BCS bowl bid. The play of quarterback Jordan Lynch is the primary reason DeKalb, Ill., was celebrating with Oranges this Christmas. He led the nation by topping the 100-yard mark 12 times and scored 19 rushing touchdowns en route to a nation’s best 1,771 rushing yards and MAC Championship. The dynamic junior also threw for 2,962 yards, 24 touchdowns and only five interceptions.

82 and 76: NCAA all-time record for total TDs and rushing TD by Montee Ball
Wisconsin tailback Montee Ball took over as the starter in Madison with five games left in his sophomore season. He scored eight total touchdowns in his first 21 games as a Badger. In his final 32 games, Ball scored 74 times for an average of 2.3 touchdowns per game. His 82 total touchdowns and 76 rushing touchdowns are both NCAA all-time records, as his team has played in the Rose Bowl three straight seasons. He is the NCAA’s active leading rusher with 5,040 yards and has one passing touchdown on his resume as well (which doesn’t count towards his totals). However, how long will his record stand? Because…

28: NCAA freshman TD record set by Kenneth Dixon
Louisiana Tech tailback Kenneth Dixon broke Marshall Faulk's (1991) freshman scoring record by reaching paydirt 28 times this fall. He led the nation in total touchdowns and is setting himself up for a run at Ball’s all-time records. But that wasn’t the only remarkable accomplishment in the Bulldogs loaded backfield this fall…

444: Colby Cameron’s NCAA record pass attempts without an interception
The Bulldogs quarterback went 444 attempts without throwing an interception, breaking Russell Wilson’s previous mark of 379. Utah State’s Will Davis intercepted a Cameron pass in what turned out to be a de facto WAC championship game win over Louisiana Tech in overtime (48-41). The 9-3 Bulldogs lost twice to end the year, ironically, on the back of five Cameron interceptions. He finished with 4,171 yards and 31 touchdowns to go with those five picks.

3: BCS conference teams to go unbeaten and not play in the BCS championship game
Before this season, Auburn (2004) and Cincinnati (2009) were the only two BCS conference teams to finish a regular season unbeaten and not earn a bid into the national title showdown. The Ohio State Buckeyes became the third this season, as it will sit at home due to NCAA postseason sanctions. However, the Bearcats got hammered by the Gators in the Sugar Bowl, while Auburn edged out Virginia Tech in the same game. That leaves the Tigers and Buckeyes as the only unbeaten BCS conference teams in the final polls, leaving fans in Columbus and on the Plains wondering what-if.

71: Landry Jones career-high pass attempts against Oklahoma State
Jones chucked the football around 71 times in the crazy 51-48 overtime Bedlam Series win over Oklahoma State. He attempted more passes in that one game than the Sooners entire 1976 (63), 1975 (69) and 1953 (61) offenses posted for the entire season. It was a career-high in attempts for the OU passer - topping the 62 he threw in 2010 - also against the Cowboys. In fact, Jones attempted 220 passes in four games against the Pokes during his career, more than any other team he faced. Jones ended his career with 16,368 yards passing, 122 touchdowns, 51 interceptions and minus-368 yards rushing. David Piland of Houston was the only player to attempt more passes in a game this season with 77 against Louisiana Tech.

4.3: Career rushes per touchdown for Blake Bell
The Bell-dozer will be a junior next year and is expected to take over for Jones in Norman under center. However, his resume doesn’t look like that of a traditional quarterback. He scored 11 rushing touchdowns on 58 carries this year and has 24 rushing touchdowns on 102 career attempts. He should become the starter next fall for Oklahoma without a touchdown pass on 19 career passes.

175.94: Marcus Mariota’s nation’s leading road passer rating
The Ducks were 5-0 on the road due in large part to Mariota’s stable play away from Eugene. He completed 75.2-percent of his passes for 1,036 yards, 13 touchdowns and only two interceptions in his five games away from Autzen Stadium this season. He also rushed for 414 of his 690 yards and three of his four touchdowns on the road as well. And he did all of this as a freshman against the likes of USC, Oregon State, Arizona State, Wazzu and Cal. Clemson’s Tajh Boyd (172.87) was the No. 2-rated road passer. Speaking of…

8: Tajh Boyd’s ACC single-game touchdown
Boyd completed 30-of-44 passes for 426 yards, rushing 18 times for 103 yards and scored an ACC record eight total touchdowns in the win over the Wolfpack. The Tigers' offense set a school-record with 102 offensive plays and finished two yards shy (754) of a school record for total offense.

38: Tennessee was first SEC team to allow at least 38 points in seven straight games
When Missouri scored 51 points in a win over Tennessee in Neyland Stadium on Nov. 10, it marked the first time in history an SEC team had allowed at least 38 points in six straight games. Then the Vols allowed 41 points to Vanderbilt in a loss that signaled the end of the Derek Dooley era in Knoxville. Tennessee allowed an SEC-worst 35.7 points and 471.3 yards per game in 2012.

572: Big 12 single-game all-purpose yards record set by Tavon Austin
Austin has done everything for the Mountaineers in his amazing career in Morgantown. He has scored 29 receiving touchdowns, five return touchdowns and six rushing scores. He owns the single-season and career return yards marks and numerous receiving records. But he also set the WVU single-game rushing record with 344 yards on just 21 carries against Oklahoma. His 572 all-purpose yards in the close loss to the Sooners were six shy of the NCAA single-game record set by Emmett White of Utah State (against New Mexico State). It might have been the most dominate single-game performance by any player at any position ever. Additionally, Antonio Andrews of Western Kentucky (2,977 yards) needs 274 all-purpose yards in the bowl game to break Barry Sanders’ single-season record set in 1988 (3,251).

80,000: 17 programs averaged at least 80K in attendance this fall
Thirteen of those 17 hail from either the Big Ten or the SEC. In fact, 10 of the top 12, 15 of the top 21 and 17 of the top 24 come from the two most powerful and lucrative leagues in America.

4: SEC wins by at least 23 points in the last two seasons by Vanderbilt
From 1957 to 2010, the Commodores won four SEC games by at least 23 points. In the last two seasons, Vandy has matched the total with four wins over Tennessee, Ole Miss and Kentucky (twice). Tailback Zac Stacy also became the school’s all-time leading rusher at 3,036 yards.

5,000 and 2,000: Career totals topped by Taylor Martinez before his senior year
Only three players have ever passed for at least 5,000 yards and rushed for 2,000 yards prior to entering their senior season. Missouri’s Brad Smith and Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick were the only two in the club before Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez crossed those benchmarks this season. T-Mart has 6,387 yards passing (44 TD, 25 INT) and 2,812 yards rushing (31 TD) in just three seasons. 

<p> The 20 Best College Football Stats of 2012</p>
Post date: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/2012-heisman-trophy-final-voting-winner

Each week, the Athlon editors and others who closely follow college football vote on the most prestigious award in the sport. A 13-man conglomerate of college football gurus from Athlon Sports and other publications cast their votes for their top Heisman Trophy candidates. The votes will be tallied and the results will be posted as the Athlon Sports Heisman Watch List every week of the regular season.

Voting: Each first-place vote receives 10 points. A second-place vote receives nine points. So on and so forth with a 10th-place vote receiving one point. Here are Athlon's guest voters:

Barrett Sallee:  Lead Writer ()
Jim Young:  ()
Blair Kerkhoff:  ()
Chris Level:  ()

And the winner is...

1. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame (six first-place votes, 121 points)
Stats: 103 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 7 INT, 1.5 sack, FR, 4 PBU
Te'o tied with Manziel for the most first-place votes and won a razor-thin Athlon Sports Heisman vote due to more second place votes (five to three). Judging by our own exercise, the second- and third-place votes may play as strong a role in the award than the first-place. Notre Dame is unbeaten and playing Alabama for the BCS title after playing one of the toughest schedules in the nation, and Te'o was arguably the most consistent performer through the season of the finalists. He has a golden reputation as a leader and in his off-field actions. On the field, he finished second in the nation in interceptions and put on marquee performances against Oklahoma and USC. His defense led the nation in fewest points allowed. Should the Irish defeat the Crimson Tide in Miami, Te'o could make the case he easily deserved the award.

2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M (six first-place votes, 119 points)
Stats: 273-400, 3,419 yards, 24 TD, 8 INT, 184 att., 1,181 yards, 19 TD
The arguement for Johnny Manziel is his competition (the best in the nation) and the "wow" factor. He made plays few in the nation can make. His statistical production was record-setting and his signature performance against No. 1 Alabama will go down in college football history as one of the greats. Yet, his team lost two games — including a home game to LSU in which his three interceptions cost Texas A&M an SEC West championship and a shot at a national title.

3. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State (one first-place vote, 110 points)
 180-272, 2,490 yards, 15 TD, 7 INT, 194 att., 890 yards, 22 TD
Klein finished his stellar K-State career with a convincing win over Texas to clinch a Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl bid. He was a higher-rated passer than Manziel, both in and out of conference play. He rushed for more touchdowns (especially, in conference) and his team won more games. His heart and toughness is unmatched by anyone (except maybe Te'o) and his off-the-field character is second to none.

Comparing the two quarterbacks in conference play:

  G Comp. Att. % Yards TD INT QB Rat Att. Yards TD Pts/Gm
Johnny Manziel 6-2 200 284 70.4 2,289 11 6 146.67 128 698 10 7.5
Collin Klein 8-1 137 213 64.3 1,886 10 5 149.49 148 685 18 12.0\

How the final voting turned out:
  Last Name Pos. Team Tot. Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. (2) Manti Te'o LB Notre Dame 121/130 6 5 2 - - 13/13
2. (1) Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M 119/130 6 3 4 - - 13/13
3. (3) Collin Klein QB Kansas St 110/130 1 5 6 1 - 13/13
4. (4) Braxton Miller QB Ohio St 89/130 - - 1 9 3 13/13
5. (6) Marqise Lee WR USC 59/130 - - - 1 3 13/13
6. (5) Marcus Mariota QB Oregon 51/130 - - - 1 1 11/13
7. (9) Kenjon Barner RB Oregon 32/130 - - - 1 1 8/13
8. (7) Ka'Deem Carey RB Arizona 30/130 - - - - 2 8/13
9. (10) Jordan Lynch QB N. Illinois 23/130 - - - - 3 7/13
10. (8) Tavon Austin WR W. Virginia 16/130 - - - - - 4/13
11. (8) Tajh Boyd QB Clemson 12/130 - - - - - 6/13
12. (14) Stepfan Taylor RB Stanford 11/130 - - - - - 3/13
13. (20) Jarvis Jones LB Georgia 9/130 - - - - - 3/13
14. (13) Jadeveon Clowney DE S. Carolina 8/130 - - - - - 3/13
15t. (ur) Montee Ball RB Wisconsin 5/130 - - - - - 2/13
15t. (14) AJ McCarron QB Alabama 5/130 - - - - - 2/13
17t. (14) Giovani Bernard RB N. Caroliona 3/130 - - - - - 2/13
17t. (17) Landry Jones QB Oklahoma 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
17t. (17) Damontre Moore DE Texas A&M 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
17t. (ur) Aaron Murray QB Georgia 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
21t. (19) Barrett Jones OL Alabama 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
21t. (ur) Johnathan Franklin RB UCLA 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
The best of the rest:
4. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State (12-0)
148-254, 2,039 yards, 15 TD, 6 INT, 227 att., 1,271 yards, 13 TD
5. Marqise Lee, WR, USC (7-5)
Stats: 112 rec., 1,680 yards, 14 TD, 28 KR, 802 yards, TD, 106 yards rushing 
6. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (11-1)
218-312, 2,511 yards, 30 TD, 6 INT, 98 att., 690 yards, 4 TD
7. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon (11-1)
Stats: 248 att., 1,624 yards, 21 TD, 19 rec., 232 yards, TD
8. Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona (7-5)
Stats: 275 att., 1,757 yards, 20 TD, 33 rec., 288 yards, TD
9. Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois (12-1)
Stats: 222-353, 2,962 yards, 24 TD, 5 INT, 271 att., 1,771 yards, 19 TD

10. Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Stats: 110 rec., 1,259 yards, 12 TD, 61 att., 598 yards, 3 TD, 28 KR, 738 yards, TD, 15 PR, 165 yards, TD
<p> 2012 Heisman Trophy Final Voting: And the winner is...</p>
Post date: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - 05:40
Path: /college-football/15-bcs-championship-match-ups-should-have-happened

Argument reigned supreme last season when one-loss Alabama got the nod to rematch with LSU over Oklahoma State in the BCS Championship game. Had the Cowboys simply beaten Iowa State two weeks earlier, there would have been no room for discussion. Since there is no playoff (yet) and a hodge-podge of very qualified one-loss teams — Oregon, Florida, Kansas State namely — are looking up at Alabama/Georgia in the BCS standings, it got me wondering, what if?

What national championship games could have, would have, should have, almost took place over the last 15 seasons? Some are justified, some are not. But all would have been intriguing and many would have completely rewritten the history books — like last season, for example. It goes to show that one bounce of the ball, one missed tackle, one injury can change the entire perception of a team, coach or player. Imagine how we would view at LSU and Les Miles historically if they had defeated Mike Gundy and the Pokes instead of losing to Alabama?

1. Auburn vs. USC, 2004
There has been no other team in the BCS era more worthy of playing for the national title without being invited to the big game than the 2004 Auburn Tigers. The Cincinnati Bearcats of 2009 are the only other BCS conference team to go undefeated and not play for the BCS National Championship. Jason Campbell, Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, Marcus McNeil and an athletic alphabet soup at wide receiver (Aromashodu and Obomanu) made this offense as talented as any in War Eagle history. Carlos Rogers and Jay Ratliff led a stacked defense that stifled ranked opponents LSU, Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia Tech to a total 38 points. This team would be a heavy underdog to the USC powerhouse that crushed Oklahoma in the BCS title game that year, however, it is clear in hindsight that Auburn at least deserved a shot at the mighty Trojans.

2. USC vs. LSU, 2003
USC ended the 2003 season at No. 1 in both the AP and Coach’s Poll, but was third in the final BCS poll due to an early season overtime road loss to an eight-win Cal team. Oklahoma and LSU both lost as well, the Sooners in embarrassing 35-7 fashion to Kansas State in the Big 12 title game. Yet, they still finished No. 1 in the BCS. The Trojans ended up handling Michigan in the Rose Bowl with relative ease and split the National Championship with LSU. There were 52 NFL players on the ’03 USC roster and it’s fairly obvious they deserved to play in the official BCS national title game. Other than Cal, only one other regular season game was played with 20 points (a 35-18 win over BYU).

3. Ohio State vs. Notre Dame, 2012
Certainly, I would pick Alabama, Georgia or Florida to beat Ohio State if they were to match-up in a National Championship this winter. That doesn’t mean they would win the game and fans seem to have totally forgotten there are actually two unbeaten teams in the nation this season. If it were eligible, Ohio State would deserve to play Notre Dame for the national championship this season. The Buckeyes have a Heisman caliber quarterback, a two-time National Champion (in the SEC, I might add) head coach and a solid defense. Until the playoff is put in place in 2014, the current system is built to award unbeaten teams from power conferences. This year’s title game should be a historic match-up between two of college football blue-blood programs (even if you think Bama or Georgia is the best team).

4. Ohio State vs. Tennessee, 1998
Speaking of Ohio State, the Buckeyes and Vols were the best two teams in the nation back in the inaugural BCS season. After starting the year No. 1 and crushing their first eight opponents, a turnover-filled upset against Michigan State on Nov. 7 cost the Buckeyes a trip to the title game. This was a loaded OSU team that beat five ranked opponents and likely would have been favored over a Florida State team that got beat by 17 points to NC State and didn’t have it’s starting quarterback. But because the Noles loss came in Week 2, they had time to work their way back into the title game. Tennessee-Ohio State would have been a battle for the ages as many Buckeyes fans believe this was the best OSU team of the last 20 years.

5. West Virginia vs. Ohio State, 2007
Major Harris and the 1988 Mountaineers finished the regular season unbeaten and No. 3 in the polls. Had it beaten unblemished No. 1 Notre Dame in the bowl game, it likely would have won the school’s first and only national championship. In eerily similar fashion, WVU lost starting quarterback Pat White to an injury at Pitt on the final weekend of the 2007 regular season. The Panthers won 13-7 and eliminated the No. 2-rated Mounties from the BCS championship game. Had they won that game, Rich Rodriguez, White and Steve Slaton would have faced Ohio State in the title game with as good a shot to upset the Buckeyes as the two-loss LSU Tigers. Those two seasons are the closest WVU has ever come to winning a national title.

6. Oklahoma State vs. LSU, 2011
The debate over Oklahoma State and Alabama getting the right to face LSU was ended in abrupt fashion when the Tide crushed LSU in New Orleans last winter. However, that doesn’t mean the Cowboys didn’t deserve the opportunity to prove itself in the championship setting. One of the most productive (and talented) offenses ever assembled against one of the most productive and talented defenses (either Alabama or LSU) ever assembled would have been a tremendous showdown. Brandon Weeden vs. Eric Reid. Joseph Randle against the lawfirm of Mingo, Montgomery and Logan. How about Justin Blackmon and Morris Claiborne? And finally, Jordan Jefferson against the defense that forced more turnover (44) than anyone in the nation. Sign me up. Of course, had the Pokes not lost in double ovetime to Iowa State on the road in the penultimate game of the season, this would have been the match-up and the nation would have a new 2011 champion.

7. USC/Texas vs. Florida, 2008
The Trojans lost on a Thursday night on the road to a nine-win Oregon State team 27-21 in Week 3. They were not challenged the rest of the season, pitching three shutouts and holding three other teams to seven points or fewer. USC, which finished 12-1, led the nation in scoring defense (9.0 ppg allowed), passing defense and finished No. 2 in total defense. Oklahoma lost to Texas by 10 in the Red River Shootout but stayed ahead of the Horns and Trojans for the right to play Florida. Texas lost to Texas Tech in the Blake Gideon-Michael Crabtree thriller in Lubbock and finished in a three-way tie atop the Big 12 South. The Sooners got the nod based on BCS ranking. In fact, Utah and Boise State were the only unbeatens left after the regular season as Texas, Alabama, Penn State and Texas Tech all finished the regular season with one loss. Since Penn State lost to USC and Bama lost to Florida, a USC (or Texas) and Florida match-up might have actually been the most compelling.

8. Florida vs. Alabama, 2009
“Rematch” is a taboo word these days, but the 2009 SEC championship game decided the national championship game. Both teams entered the final weekend unbeaten and No. 1 Florida lost convincingly in the Georgia Dome 32-13 (we all remember Tim Tebow on the sidelines). The Gators were the defending national champs and had been No. 1 all season, so the question is who was the better team: Texas or Florida? Obviously, we will never know, but watching a Colt McCoy-less Longhorns teams fail to compete with the Tide while Tebow torched the unbeaten Bearcats didn’t help. A best out of three between these two would be just fine with me.

9. Tennessee vs. Miami, 2001
The Vols lost in heart-breaking fashion to Georgia 26-24 (I know, I was there) in the hob-nailed boot game early in 2001. However, after a huge win at No. 2 Florida to win the East in a game that was postponed due to 9/11, Tennessee worked its way back to the No. 2 spot in the BCS. All it had to do was defeat No. 21 LSU in the SEC championship game. Well, the Tigers (with a back-up QB) won a game that signified Nick Saban’s arrival in the SEC while the Volunteers were relegated to the Citrus Bowl. The Big Orange would have been crushed by the Hurricanes — arguably the best college football team ever assembled — so the end result likely wouldn’t have been any different. But one has to think Tennessee would have given The U a better battle than a Cornhuskers team that allowed 99 points in its final two games of the year.

10. Michigan vs. Ohio State, 2006
It might have been the best Ohio State-Michigan game ever played. The Buckeyes were ranked No. 1 and the Wolverines were ranked No. 2 and the game ended in a 42-39 win for Ohio State. Both were unbeaten and the eye-ball test indicated they were the best two teams in the nation. Florida backed its way into the game and proved that theory wrong in hindsight. However, if a rematch is good for the SEC, it’s good for the Big Ten as well. Much like Florida-Alabama in 2009 or LSU-Alabama in 2011, a best out of three would have been extraordinary for all parties involved.

11. Georgia vs. Ohio State/LSU, 2007
LSU lost twice en route to its national title in 2007 but never had to face the 11-2 Bulldogs. One could make the case that the Dawgs were the best team in the SEC that year, but a road loss to the Vols sent Tennessee to Atlanta to face LSU. I guess we’ll never know.

12. Oregon vs. Florida, 2012
Oregon is the best team not playing in the national championship game this fall. A one-loss Florida team also deserves to be mentioned amongst the nation’s elite as well. Of course, a playoff would have solved this issue.

13. Boise State vs. Alabama, 2009
The 2006 Boise State team was more memorable but the 2009 version was likely the best. Five teams finished the regular season unbeaten but TCU, who lost to Boise, Cincinnati and Texas lost in bowl games. Boise State and Alabama were the lone unbeatens that year.

14. Boise State vs. Ohio State, 2006
One thing we can all agree on is that Boise State-Ohio State would have been a much more entertaining national title than the one we got. The only thing that would have made the memorable Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma better is if it had come against Ohio State in the national title game.

15. TCU vs. Auburn, 2010
Oregon and Auburn were clearly the best two teams in the nation, but after an excellent performance against Wisconsin in a Rose Bowl win, TCU finished 13-0. Gary Patterson’s defense against Cam Newton would be fun to watch.

There are plenty of others out there I have failed to mention but would have loved to have seen played out. Here a few others I would have enjoyed:

Stanford vs. Alabama, 2011
UCLA vs. Tennessee, 1998
Oregon vs. Notre Dame, 2012
Oregon vs. Kansas State, 2012
Utah vs. USC, 2004
Stanford vs. Auburn, 2010
Wisconsin vs. Ohio State, 1998
Oklahoma State vs. Alabama, 2011
Penn State vs. Ohio State, 2005

<p> 15 BCS Championship Match-ups that should have happened</p>
Post date: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 05:16
Path: /college-basketball/weekly-tip-dec-3-college-hoops-stats-matter

There are 347 division-I college basketball teams. Following college hoops these days can be overwhelming. Let Athlon Sports start your college basketball week each Monday with a look at some of the most intriuging, most important and most interesting stats from around the world of college basketball:

517: Career wins by the late Rick Majerus
The former coach at Marquette (1983-86), Ball State (1987-89), Utah (1989-2004) and Saint Louis (2007-12) died Saturday after a long battle with heart disease. Stories of the coach and broadcaster who impacted lives for more than four decades flooded the internet and airwaves, each encapsulating his gracious and gregarious personality. He won five Coach of the Year Awards in the WAC, seven regular season conference championships and led Utah to the Final Four in 1998.

23: Combined margin of defeat for Kentucky last week
Kentucky had lost back-to-back games only once under John Calipari — road games against Ole Miss and Florida back in 2010-11. The Wildcats’ worst loss under Cal was by 17 to UConn that same year. But after seven games, Kentucky (4-3) lost to Notre Dame and Baylor last week for two of the four worst losses under Calipari. The 14-point loss to the Irish was the second-worst loss of the Calipari era. The nine-point loss on Saturday to Baylor was tied for the third-worst defeat. Keep in mind: Kentucky rolled through Baylor in the Elite Eight last season en route to the national title. The loss to the Bears was the first home loss under Calipari at Kentucky, snapping the nation’s longest home winning streak at 55 games.

81: Mason Plumlee’s free throw percent against top-five teams
Entering his final season at Duke, big man Mason Plumlee was a 50.5 percent free throw shooter. But through the first eight games of his senior year, he is shooting 76.1 percent from the stripe. Against three top-five teams, Ohio State (9 of 12), Louisville (4 of 4) and Kentucky (4 of 5), he has missed only four freebies in 21 attempts. His play — 19.6 points, 1 rebounds — is a big reason Duke is still unbeaten.

18.8: UNLV freshman Anthony Bennett’s points per game
Marcus Thornton of William & Mary is the top scoring freshman in the country at 19 points per game in seven games, but UNLV’s Bennett is nipping at his heels after his first six games at 18.8 points per game. Bennett is shooting 55.4 percent from the floor and adding 7.8 rebounds per game for the 5-1 Rebels. UNLV’s postseason potential is built around veteran Mike Moser, an Athlon preseason first-team All-American, but Bennett’s development over the course of the season could be the difference between an early Tournament exit or deep postseason run.

219: SMU’s RPI in 2011-12
Larry Brown’s Mustangs are one of the top stories early in the season. SMU was 13-19 last season and hasn’t had a winning overall record since 2002-03 (17-13). After an 8-1 start with wins over Pac-12 (Utah) and Big 12 (TCU) programs, the nation is starting to take notice. SMU is No. 37 in Yahoo’s preliminary RPI, ahead of programs like North Carolina and Michigan State, and is poised for its best season in over a decade. Keep en eye on the cagey Brown and his intriguing ‘Stangs.

<p> Weekly Tip-off Dec. 3: College Hoops Stats that Matter</p>
Post date: Monday, December 3, 2012 - 13:53
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/amazing-stats-nfl-sunday-week-13

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 13 of NFL play:

299.7: Andrew Luck yards passing per game
Luck threw for 391 yards and scored two touchdowns in the final 2:39 seconds of the improbable come-from-behind win over Detroit on Sunday. It was his sixth 300-yard passing effort in 12 career games and he now has 3,596 yards in his first season. If he continues at his current pace, not only would he set the single-season NFL rookie passing record — set by Cam Newton last fall at 4,051 yards — he would shatter it by over 700 yards. Luck is on pace for 4,794 yards in his first season. And oh by the way, he also has 216 yards rushing and five touchdowns on the ground. His eight wins are the most by a quarterback drafted No. 1 overall in NFL history. There is nothing lucky about No. 12 in white and blue.

162: Russell Wilson's total offense on Seattle's final two drives
Wilson got the ball on his own three-yard line with 3:40 left to go in the game trailing the Bears by four points in Soldier Field. He completed 6-of-9 passes for 77 yards, rushed twice for 19 yards and finished the 12-play, 97-yard drive with a go-ahead touchdown pass to Golden Tate (who made a great play to get into the end zone). After a miraculous Jay Cutler-Brandon Marshall 56-yard completion that allowed Chicago to send the game into overtime, Wilson was asked to win the game again. He was masterful on yet another 12-play drive — this time 80 yards — to lead his team to a huge road victory. He was 3-of-3 for 38 yards, rushed for 28 yards on three carries and connected with Sidney Rice on the game-winning touchdown pass with 7:33 left in overtime. On his final two drives he accounted for 115 of his 293 passing yards and 47 of his 71 rushing yards and connected on his final seven passes. He didn't turn the ball over once. I mentioned this was against the Bears in Chicago, right?

3: NFL-worst rushing TDs by Green Bay
With 2:12 left in the third quarter and trailing the Vikings at home, James Starks ran off right tackle around the Minnesota defense and into the end zone for the go-ahead and eventual game-winning touchdown. It was the just the third rushing touchdown of the season for the Packers. The ability to run the football effectively will make this team more dangerous come playoff time and it was the difference in the crucial divisional win over the Vikes. The Packers rushed 36 times for 152 yards as Starks set the pace with 66 yards. Oakland and St. Louis are tied with Green Bay with only three rushing touchdowns on the season as well. Aaron Rodgers won his 49th career start on what was his 29th birthday.

149:34: Minutes the 49ers and Rams played this season
The most amount of time any two teams could possibly play in the regular season under the current NFL rule book is 150 minutes exactly. The first time the Rams and Niners met this season, the game ended in a tie. It was the first tie in the NFL since 2008. On Sunday, these two played a second overtime game and came 26 seconds shy of tying for the second time. The Rams' Greg Zuerlein kicked a 54-yard field goal with 26 seconds left in OT to give the Rams the home victory. After 149 minutes and 34 seconds of gameplay, these two had decided absolutely nothing until the kick sailed through the uprights with just seconds remaining.

45: Philip Rivers turnovers the last two seasons
The San Diego quarterback threw an interception and lost a fumble in a close home loss to Cincinnati on Sunday. He failed to throw a touchdown pass and the Chargers lost their eighth game of the season. Rivers has turned the ball over 20 times this season (15 INT, 5 FL) after turning it over 25 times last season (20 INT, 5 FL). He has thrown exactly 45 touchdown passes over that span (with one rushing score) to match his 45 giveaways. He is 12-16 as the starter the last two seasons and is only 8-15 in his last 23 games. This organization has folded and many believe changes in the front office and on the sideline are coming. But maybe it's time to look at a new name under center as well? Just as a frame of reference, Aaron Rodgers has thrown 74 touchdowns passes, only 13 interceptions, lost two fumbles, scored three rushing touchdowns and is 22-5 in one less game as a starter over that same time span.

119.0: Calvin Johnson's receiving yards per game
Megatron caught 13 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown in the brutal loss to the Colts this weekend. However, he now has 1,428 yards receiving through 12 games for an average of 119.0 yards per game. Jerry Rice's single-season receiving record set back in 1995 (1,848 yards) is in major danger of being surpassed by Johnson. If the Lions' wide receiver continues on his pace, he will finish as the only player in history to top 1,900 yards receiving in a single year (1,904). Only four players have ever topped 1,700 yards in a single season and Johnson's career high of 1,681 in 2011 currently ranks seventh all-time. Isaac Bruce is second all-time with 1,781 — also in 1995.

Game 6, 2013: When Tom Brady would set NFL record for consecutive games with a TD
Drew Brees threw five interceptions in the loss to Atlanta on Thursday night. He failed to throw a touchdown, snapping his NFL record for consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass at 53. After throwing one touchdown in the win over Miami on Sunday, Tom Brady owns the top active streak with 44 straight games with a TD toss. Brady would pass Johnny Unitas (47) for second all-time in Week 17 this year and would pass Brees in game six of the 2013 season. The win over the Dolphins clinched the AFC East Championship for the Patriots and gives Brady an NFL-record 10 division titles. 

798: Days since Charlie Batch threw a TD pass
It had been 798 days since Steelers starter Charlie Batch last threw a touchdown pass in the NFL. He tossed three touchdowns in a win over Tampa Bay on Sept. 26, 2010. In fact, those three scores were his only touchdowns since Dec. 30, 2007. That is, until he connected with Heath Miller on a game-tying seven-yard touchdown pass with 7:24 left in the game at M&T Bank Stadium. He finished 25-of-36 for 276 yards, that key touchdown and an interception in a massive road win over the AFC North-leading and rival Ravens.

<p> Amazing Stats from NFL Sunday: Week 13</p>
Post date: Monday, December 3, 2012 - 06:05
Path: /college-football/big-ten-championship-preview-and-prediction-nebraska-cornhuskers-vs-wisconsin-badge

The second annual Big Ten Championship game features two of the Midwest’s football powers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The corn-fed Big Red from Lincoln will battle with the dairy-fed Big Red from Madison, but only one team actually won their division.

These two met back in October in the Big Ten opener at Memorial Stadium — remember those polarizing adidas uniforms? — and Nebraska came away with its first big comeback win of the year. The 30-27 win propelled the Huskers to a 7-1 mark in league play and a Legends Division crown. Dating back to 2009, this is Bo Pelini’s third conference championship game in four seasons, but a win would be the Cornhuskers' first league title since 1999. It would also send Nebraska to Pasadena for the first time since 2002 when it lost to Miami in the BCS National Championship Game.

The Badgers, after losing six assistant coaches, started slowly on offense this fall before finding their stride in mid-season. However, Wisconsin’s schedule toughened up in the final month of play and it lost three of its last four. Bret Bielema’s squad finished 4-4 in the league with losses in the division to Ohio State and Penn State — the two teams that actually finished ahead of the Badgers in the Leaders Division standings. That said, all five of Wisconsin’s losses were by seven points or less this fall, including three overtime defeats. A win for the Badgers would give UW its third consecutive Big Ten championship and third straight trip to the Rose Bowl — the first Big Ten school to do so since Michigan from 1977-79.

Either way this one goes, a historic Big Red program will invade Pasadena. And the best broadcast team in the business, FOX’ Gus Johnson and Charles Davis, will bring fans the call at 8:17 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. 

Other Championship Game Previews | |

Conference Previews |

When Wisconsin has the ball

The Badgers' offense lost their renowned offensive coordinator, the best QB in the history of the program and three first-team All-Big Ten lineman from 2011. It showed early on with major struggles coming against Northern Iowa, Oregon State and Utah State. After an offensive line coaching move and quarterback switch, the UW offense flourished. Redshirt freshman quarterback Joel Stave and Heisman finalist Montee Ball finally gave the Badgers a two-dimensional offense. However, late in the Michigan State game, Stave was lost for the year to a broken collarbone and eventually fifth-year senior Curt Phillips got the nod under center.

Phillips has limitations throwing the football, but has proven to be clutch, throwing game-tying touchdown strikes with seconds left on the clock against both Ohio State and Penn State in his last two games. He is obviously at his best when Ball and the Badgers’ traditional power running game are effective. This team has averaged over 240 yards rushing per game three seasons in a row and Ball has scored seven times in two games against Nebraska. The star tailback is one rushing touchdown from setting the all-time NCAA record (73) and he’s already the all-time total touchdown leader in NCAA history (79).

The Huskers' defense has had its deficiencies over the past few seasons, but first-year coordinator John Papuchis — who is the youngest solo defensive coordinator in the nation — has fostered marked improvement this season. His team leads the nation in passing defense and has been able to pressure the quarterback with more regularity. Linebacker Will Compton and defensive end Eric Martin headline a defense that is much stronger at the point of attack than it was a year ago and coverman Ciante Evans is developing quickly into a star on the back end. Phillips will be tested mightily by the nation’s top passing defense, so the offense will once again run through its deep stable of running backs that features not only Ball but also James White (693 yards, 8 TD) and Melvin Gordon (354 yards, 2 TD).

When Nebraska has the ball

The Nebraska offense starts and ends with Taylor Martinez. The redshirt junior quarterback led the Big Ten in passing efficiency and total offense while steering the league’s No. 1 offense. He has been masterful in the second half, leading his team from behind against Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan State and Penn State with big plays on the ground and efficient passing. T-Mart completed 17-of-29 passes for 181 yards, rushed for 107 yards on 13 attempts and scored three times in the 17-point second-half comeback against Wisconsin in October.

The league’s top rushing attack isn’t just Martinez, however. Rex Burkhead returned to the lineup in the season finale after dealing with major knee issues all season to lead his team to victory over Iowa. His valiant performance in the second half pushed the Huskers into the title game and provides the offense with another ball carrier. Ameer Abdullah (1,071 yards, 8 TD) and Imani Cross (289 yards, 6 TD) have filled in admirably throughout the year and now Pelini finds himself with a glut of talent in the backfield.

He might need as many bodies as he can find against the Badgers' No. 12-rated rushing defense (111.3 ypg). Linebackers Mike Taylor, who is the nation’s leading tackler over the last two seasons, and Chris Borland, who missed the last two games with injury, are expected to be at full strength for this title bout. The rest of the non-descript Wisconsin defense is fundamentally sound and well coached but not overtly talented. Look for Martinez’ ability to break contain with his legs to be the deciding factor once again. 

Final Analysis

One team has better players, has a better record and won the first meeting of the year. The other is missing its starting quarterback and has lost three of its last four. Pelini has won 10 games and played in a conference championship game in three of the last four years. However, his team has also lost four games in each of his four seasons in Lincoln. This weekend’s showdown would end all of those streaks and send the Huskers to Pasadena for only the third time in school history and would give Pelini his first championship. There are no excuses for Nebraska this time around.


Athlon Editor Championship Prediction YTD Big Ten Record
Braden Gall Nebraska 30, Wisconsin 20 80-16
Mitch Light Nebraska 24, Wisconsin 14 76-20
Steven Lassan Nebraska 27, Wisconsin 24 79-17
David Fox Nebraska 28, Wisconsin 14 77-19

Related Championship Weekend Content:

SEC Championship Game Preview: Alabama vs. Georgia

<p> Big Ten Championship Preview and Prediction: Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Wisconsin Badgers</p>
Post date: Friday, November 30, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-championship-preview-and-prediction-ucla-bruins-vs-stanford-cardinal

The second annual Pac-12 Championship game isn't exactly what fans were expecting to see entering this season. Oregon and USC were overwhelming favorites to win their respective divisions and potentially battle on Nov. 30 for more than just West Coast supremacy. Best laid plans, right?

Jim Mora instantly instilled toughness at UCLA and his squad finished the regular season 9-3 overall and 6-3 in the league. Most importantly, the Bruins posted a perfect 5-0 mark in the South Division, including a revenge home win over USC to clinch the division crown. 

Stanford, meanwhile, keeps on chugging under Pac-12 Coach of the Year David Shaw. Even though Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin all departed for the NFL and had to be replaced on offense, he led the Cardinal to an identical 8-1 mark in league play this fall. This time with a division-clinching win over Oregon.

The old saying goes familiarity breeds contempt and these two might be the most familiar opponents in the history of the sport. For the second time in six days, the Cardinal and Bruins will battle, but this time, it's for a trip to the Rose Bowl. It marks the first time in college football history two teams have ever played in a season finale and then again in the conference title game.

And Gus Johnson and Charles Davis will be there to call the game at 8 p.m. ET on FOX on Friday night.

Other Championship Game Previews | |

Conference Previews |

When Stanford has the ball

Not too many championship teams make quarterback switches two-thirds of the way through the season. But that is exactly what David Shaw did when, five passes into the game against Colorado, he put Kevin Hogan under center in place of Josh Nunes. All Hogan did in his first three career starts was topple three consecutive ranked opponents to clinch the North Division championship. He completed 72.8 percent of his passes (80-110) for 809 yards and eight touchdowns in the four games in which he led the Cardinal offense. He also rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown on the ground as well. Hogan’s emergence has given this offense a second dimension.

Hogan will face a Bruins' pass rush that has improved infinitely from a year ago under their new head coach. This defensive front finished 110th in the nation in sacks and 81st in rushing defense a year ago, but behind improved play from Anthony Barr and Datone Jones, UCLA ranked 5th in the country in sacks (3.33 spg) and 53rd in rushing defense this fall. If the Bruins expect to close the 35-17 gap from last weekend, it will have to pressure Hogan (15-of-22 last week, 0 INT) and stop the running game (49 att., 221 yards, 3 TD).

While Hogan has stabilized one dimension of the offense, Shaw hasn’t had to worry about his other dimension. Stepfan Taylor is one of the most complete backs in the nation after his second straight 1,300-yard, 10-TD season (1,364 and 11). He ended the season with three consectuive 100-yard efforts against ranked teams, scoring four times in those contests. Taylor has touched the ball 828 times on offense the last three years (38 games, 21.8/game), so expect Shaw to wear out his workhorse tailback in the last regular season game of his career. Especially, considering Taylor needs just 35 yards to break Stanford’s all-time rushing record held by Darrin Nelson (4,169).

When UCLA has the ball

Seven sacks, 7-of-19 on third downs, two turnovers and 334 total yards of offense is what the Stanford defense held UCLA’s high-flying offense to a week ago. Much like the defense, the Bruins have shown marked improvement under the new coaching regime, totaling 475.7 yards per game of offense and 36.0 points per contest. Yet, redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley and star tailback Johnathan Franklin will have to play better this weekend if UCLA expects to win its first conference crown since 1998.

The dynamic backfield duo has been outstanding this fall but the offensive line will have to play its best game of the year if it expects to beat Stanford. The O-Line ranks 118th nationally in sacks allowed per game (3.6/game) and is facing the No. 1 pass rush (4.4/game), the No. 1 rushing defense (71.3 ypg) and the No. 11 scoring defense (16.9 ppg) in the nation. Stanford has four players with at least 5.5 sacks, so trying to stop the versatile front should prove difficult once again.

Hundley and Franklin are closing in on more than one UCLA record. Hundley (3,516 yards total offense, 3,234 yards passing) should easily break Cade McNown’s 1998 single-season record for total offense (3,652) and passing yards (3,470) even with just an average outing Friday night. Franklin needs just 18 all-purpose yards to take over as UCLA’s all-time leader (Maurice Jones-Drew) and just 66 yards rushing to top Karim Abdul-Jabbar’s single-season school record. Additionally, one more win for Mora would give him the most wins by a Bruins first-year coach in program history.

Final Analysis

Stanford’s senior class has won at least 10 games for the third consecutive season but have yet to claim a league championship or play in the Rose Bowl. With a 24-2 home record, this group has added motivation to close out this season with a resounding victory. Look for the Cardinal defensive front to dominate the Bruins up front and give Shaw’s Cardinal their first outright Pac-12 crown since 1999. 


Athlon Editor Championship Prediction YTD Pac-12 Record
Braden Gall Stanford 34, UCLA 17 64-20
Mitch Light Stanford 34, UCLA 27 64-20
Steven Lassan Stanford 24, UCLA 20 63-21
David Fox Stanford 35, UCLA 21 60-24

Related Championship Weekend Content:

<p> Pac-12 Championship Preview and Prediction: UCLA Bruins vs. Stanford Cardinal</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 05:10
Path: /college-football/heisman-comparison-johnny-manziel-vs-collin-klein

The 2012 Heisman winner will likely be debated and argued about for years to come. There are a half-a-dozen candidates any of whom would be extremely qualified to take home the stiff-armed trophy. The hodge-podge of contenders this year includes freshmen, defensive players, ineligible teams and a host of record-setting stars.

The most heated debate, however, appears to come between Kansas State’s Collin Klein and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel. Both have been truly transcendent talents who have led their teams to unexpected seasons of greatness. Heisman beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder. Do voters value stats, wins, championships, level of competition, wow factor or even age? Ideally, all factors are considered when making a decision on who is the “Most Outstanding College Football Player” in 2012.


So how do Manziel and Klein stack up against each other?

Note: Keep in mind Kansas State still has one game to play before the Heisman Trophy will be awarded.

Statistical Production:
Johnny Manziel leads the SEC in rushing as a quarterback at 98.4 yards per game. He leads the SEC in total offense at 383.3 yards per game. He also leads the SEC in scoring at 9.5 points per game. He owns the SEC’s total offense single-season (4,600 yards) and single-game (576 yards) records. Collin Klein was fifth in the Big 12 in rushing (71.5 ypg) and averaged more points per game (10.9 ppg) than Manziel.

  G Comp. Att. % Yards TD INT QB Rat Att. Yards TD Pts/Gm
Johnny Manziel 10-2 273 400 68.3 3,419 24 8 155.85 184 1,181 19 9.5
Collin Klein 10-1 172 258 66.7 2,306 14 6 155.00 171 787 20 10.9

Heisman Edge: Manziel

In-Conference Production:
Klein was masterful in Big 12 play for the second straight season. He has scored 16 of his 20 rushing touchdowns in league play, including huge road performances at West Virginia, Oklahoma, Iowa State and TCU. He avenged both losses to Oklahoma schools last fall with big showings against the Sooners and Cowboys. Manziel has been much more up and down in SEC play. He had a huge performance against Alabama and Mississippi State, struggled against Florida, LSU and somewhat against Ole Miss while torching bad teams like Arkansas, Auburn and Missouri. Manziel’s out-of-conference numbers are much more inflated than Klein’s. Of Manziel’s 43 total touchdowns, 22 came in four games against South Carolina State, Sam Houston State, SMU and Louisiana Tech. 

  G Comp. Att. % Yards TD INT QB Rat Att. Yards TD Pts/Gm
Johnny Manziel 6-2 200 284 70.4 2,289 11 6 146.67 128 698 10 7.5
Collin Klein 7-1 129 199 64.8 1,702 9 4 147.58 125 582 16 12.0

Heisman Edge: Tie

Level of Competition:
The SEC is better than the Big 12. At the top, in the middle and on defense, the SEC gets the nod over the Big 12. Manziel faced the No. 2, No. 4 and No. 7 teams in the nation as well as Mississippi State. But he went 2-2 in those games and gets plenty of credit for playing his first collegiate game against the Gators' defense despite his struggles and the loss. Klein has faced No. 11 and No. 23 and will face No. 18 Texas this weekend. His dominating performance over Miami (Fla.) deserves note, however, as the Canes won the ACC's Coastal Division this season.

Heisman Edge: Manziel

Offensive System:
Kevin Sumlin’s offense has been arguably the best passing attack to ever grace the college football gridiron. His Houston offense essentially owns every major passing NCAA record in the books. His Texas A&M offense ran 959 plays (11th nationally) for an average of 6.9 yards per play (5th nationally). Bill Snyder’s offense is totally different, ranking 120th nationally with only 712 plays. However, the Wildcats have been equally effective at 6.4 yards per play (19th nationally). Both offenses have produced at a similar rate all year, so that means Klein has produced his stats on 247 fewer offensive snaps. 

Heisman Edge: Klein

Supporting Cast:
This one is no contest. Manziel has an infinitely better supporting cast than Klein at Kansas State. Texas A&M has an average national team recruiting ranking of 20.3 over the last four classes and has finished no lower than 27th (2011) in the team rankings. Kansas State has an average national team ranking of 70.1 over the same span. The best class Manhattan has seen in four years was 2012’s 58th-rated class. With two potential first-round picks blocking for him, multiple five-star tailbacks, and a senior All-SEC wide receiver at his disposal, Manziel has by far the best supporting cast of the two. And it’s really not even close.

Heisman Edge: Klein

Highlight Moments:
Manziel is the more explosive player and had his Heisman moment by making clutch throws down the field in the road win over No. 1 Alabama. He finished with 253 yards passing and 92 yards rushing with two touchdowns and no interceptions. That said, it was a goal-line stand by the Aggies defense that ultimately won the game for Texas A&M. Manziel also struggled mightily against LSU at home, throwing three interceptions in a loss that actually cost Texas A&M a shot at a national championship. Klein has been equally clutch against big-time competition. He was dominant on the road against West Virginia and Oklahoma and at home against Oklahoma State and Miami. Much like Manziel, however, Klein also has one big wart on his resume with three interceptions in the loss to Baylor. Klein is more workmanlike where Manziel has had more eye-opening plays that make voters' jaws drop. 

Heisman Edge: Manziel

Team Success:
Kevin Sumlin could be the SEC Coach of the Year and the Aggies won 10 game in their first trip through the best league in America. Bill Snyder could be the national coach of the year and is one win away from winning the Big 12 championship. Should Kansas State defeat Texas this weekend, Klein will have led his team to the Big 12 championship and a BCS Bowl berth. And had there been a four-team playoff, his team would have a great case to be included in that mix. With two losses, A&M cannot make those claims. This, due in large part to Manziel’s three interceptions against LSU. If Kansas State loses to the Longhorns, this argument goes out the window for Klein. Think about this: Had Texas A&M beaten LSU, they would have won the West and would be facing Georgia in Atlanta for a trip to the National Championship. But Manziel had his worst game of the season: 29-of-56, 276 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT, 17 carries for 27 yards, 0 TD. Klein did the same against Baylor: 286 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT, 39 yards rushing, TD.

Heisman Edge: Klein

Off The Field Character:
This is a small factor but Klein is one of the most respected, most upstanding young people this game has ever seen. He is Tim Tebow off of the field as well as Tebow in the huddle and locker room. Manziel was arrested this summer for getting into a fight with a 47-year old man and carrying multiple false IDs. Is Manziel simply a young kid enjoying the trappings of young fame (SEE: Halloween pictures)? Of course, but Klein would never get into a fight with someone nearly 30 years older than himself.

Heisman Edge: Klein

“Johnny Football” versus “Optimus Klein.” I am sorry, but this one isn’t even close. Johnny Football is one of the lamest, most unimaginative nicknames I have ever heard. And as a kid who grew up loving the Transformers, my vote goes to Klein. This one is easy and heavily in favor of the Kansas State Wildcat. It's a good thing a nickname has absolutely nothing to do with the Heisman.

Heisman Edge: Klein

Not counting the nickname, the race to New York is as follows: Manziel gets the nod on statistical production, level of competition and wow factor in big moments. Klein gets the edge as a champion with much less talent around him with relatively equal production and a Golden Boy image off of the field. Even after analyzing every possible angle of the Klein vs. Manziel Heisman debate, there is no clear-cut winner. That is what makes this particular race for the most coveted trophy in sports the most intriguing in decades. 

And it's why Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o will win the 2012 Heisman Trophy.


<p> Johnny Manziel vs. Collin Klein: Comparing the Heisman Contenders</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - 05:40
Path: /college-football/2012-heisman-trophy-contenders-post-week-13

Each week, the Athlon editors and others who closely follow college football vote on the most prestigious award in the sport. A 13-man conglomerate of college football gurus from Athlon Sports and other publications cast their votes for their top Heisman Trophy candidates. The votes will be tallied and the results will be posted as the Athlon Sports Heisman Watch List every week of the regular season.

Voting: Each first-place vote receives 10 points. A second-place vote receives nine points. So on and so forth with a 10th-place vote receiving one point. Here are Athlon's guest voters:

Barrett Sallee:  Lead Writer ()
Jim Young:  ()
Blair Kerkhoff:  ()
Chris Level:  ()

1. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M (8 first-place votes)
Stats: 273-400, 3,419 yards, 24 TD, 8 INT, 184 att., 1,181 yards, 19 TD
The record-setting quarterback did his usual work against Mizzou in the season finale. He threw for 372 yards, rushed for 67 and scored five total touchdowns in the Aggies' 10th win of the season. He led the SEC in rushing and total offense, setting SEC benchmarks for total yards in a season and total offense in a game (twice). Right or wrong, he will be knocked for his age, but it is hard to argue with his electric play this fall. 
Next Week: None


  Last Name Pos. Team Tot. Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. (1) Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M 123/130 8 3 2 - - 13/13
2. (3) Manti Te'o LB Notre Dame 119/130 4 7 2 - - 13/13
3. (2) Collin Klein QB Kansas St 104/130 1 3 7 1 1 13/13
4. (4) Braxton Miller QB Ohio St 87/130 - - 1 8 3 13/13
5. (5) Marcus Mariota QB Oregon 54/130 - - - 2 4 10/13
6. (6) Marqise Lee WR USC 54/130 - - - 1 3 13/13
7. (9) Ka'Deem Carey QB Arizona 36/130 - - - - - 10/13
8. (7) Tajh Boyd QB Clemson 29/130 - - - - - 8/13
9. (8) Kenjon Barner RB Oregon 29/130 - - 1 - 1 8/13
10. (10) Jordan Lynch QB N. Illinois 20/130 - - - 1 1 6/13
11. (20) Tavon Austin WR W. Virginia 14/130 - - - - - 5/13
12. (11) Taylor Martinez QB Nebraska 12/130 - - - - - 4/13
13. (ur) Jadeveon Clowney DE S. Carolina 11/130 - - - - - 3/13
14t. (12) Giovani Bernard RB N. Carolina 4/130 - - - - - 2/13
14t. (14) AJ McCarron QB Alabama 4/130 - - - - - 3/13
14t. (16) Stepfan Taylor RB Stanford 4/130 - - - - - 1/13
17t. (ur) Landry Jones QB Oklahoma 3/130 - - - - - 2/13
17t. (19) Damontre Moore DL Texas A&M 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
19. (20) Barrett Jones OL Alabama 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
20. (15) Jarvis Jones LB Georgia 1/130 - - - - - 1/13

2. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame (4 first-place votes)
Stats: 103 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 7 INT, 1.5 sack, FR, 4 PBU
Te'o is the consummate leader who has elevated a once-dormant program to an unbeaten season and berth in the National Championship game. He is the best defensive player in the nation and if he can't win this award, then it needs to be officially labeled an Offensive Trophy. He posted five tackles and his seventh interception of the season in the road win over USC. Next Week: None

3. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State (1 first-place vote)
 172-258, 2,306 yards, 14 TD, 6 INT, 171 att., 787 yards, 20 TD
Klein was on bye last week and will face the Texas Longhorns this weekend with the Big 12 championship hanging in the balance. His only chance to win the Heisman will be to post big numbers in a big win over Texas to clinch a BCS bowl for a team predicted to finish sixth in the league. He is the only offensive player who has been as equally impressive as Manziel. A loss to Texas and he is out of the race. Next Week: Texas

4. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
148-254, 2,039 yards, 15 TD, 6 INT, 227 att., 1,271 yards, 13 TD
Miller finished with an unbeaten season by defeating the hated Wolverines in exciting fashion. He completed 14-of-18 passes for 189 yards and rushed 20 times for 57 yards and scored one big touchdown. He finished his sophomore season fifth in the Big Ten in rushing, second in total offense and third in passing efficiency. He is an electric talent who is overlooked because of Ohio State's sanctions and will be on the preseason Heisman frontrunner list next summer. Next Week: None
5. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
218-312, 2,511 yards, 30 TD, 6 INT, 98 att., 690 yards, 4 TD
The redshirt freshman capped his fantastic first year under center in a big way. He completed 17-of-24 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown with 85 yards rushing on eight carries and another score in the huge road win over rival Oregon State He finished as the league's most efficient passer and was fifth in total offense. Mariota is the best quarterback Oregon has had under Chip Kelly. Next Week: None

6. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Stats: 112 rec., 1,680 yards, 14 TD, 28 KR, 802 yards, TD, 106 yards rushing 
Next Week: None

7. Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Stats: 275 att., 1,757 yards, 20 TD, 33 rec., 288 yards, TD
Next Week: None
8. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Stats: 251-377, 3,550 yards, 34 TD, 13 INT, 157 att., 492 yards, 9 TD
Next Week: None

9. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
Stats: 248 att., 1,624 yards, 21 TD, 19 rec., 232 yards, TD
Next Week: None

10. Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois
Stats: 203-319, 2,750 yards, 23 TD, 4 INT, 235 att., 1,611 yards, 16 TD
Next Week: Kent State (MAC Championship)

<p> 2012 Heisman Trophy Contenders: Post-Week 13</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /college-football/2013-nfl-draft-rankings-quarterbacks

It is never too early to begin looking ahead to next year's NFL Draft. Each year a unique set of prospects enters the professional ranks with a chance to make an immediate impact on the country's most powerful sport. The 2013 NFL Draft won’t be any different.

Today, we rank college football's best quarterbacks prospects with the help of 2006 BCS National Championship Game MVP for the Florida Gators Chris Leak. You can follow or hear him on SiriusXM College Sports Nation's Coast-to-Coast nightly radio show from 7-10 PM ET with Chris Childers. 

1. Geno Smith, West Virginia (6-3, 220, Sr.)
Smith may have the biggest arm of any prospect in the class with the possible exception of Tyler Bray. He is poised, lightning quick in his release and decision-making and has posted some huge numbers. He topped 4,300 yards as a junior and could top 4,000 yards again this fall. He could easily reach 70 touchdown passes in his final two seasons and has a sterling 66.9 percent completion rate. He will be knocked for his bad second half of 2012 and that his numbers have been inflated by the shotgun, no-huddle spread attack at West Virginia. If he can prove he can play from under center and in a pro-style attack, Smith possesses all the elite tools to be an excellent quarterback on Sundays. Comparison: Matthew Stafford

Chris Leak's Scouting Report: Elite passer at CFB level. Student of the game with high football I.Q. Field general that can have immediate impact on an NFL franchise.

2. Matt Barkley, USC (6-2, 230, Sr.)
Barkley isn't nearly as big as his listed numbers indicate. He will be lucky to measure 6-foot-1 and will have to battle the "short" moniker. His numbers have been huge —12,327 yards and 116 TD passes — and he is an upstanding member of any locker room. He is a 64.0 percent career passer and has produced big numbers in the face of NCAA sanctions. He has a big arm and plays in a pro-style offense, but overcoming his late-season injury this fall will take some effort. There is little downside to Barkley as a professional as there are no questions about his work ethic, commitment, dedication to winning and being a leader. Comparison: Andy Dalton

Leak's Scouting Report: Intelligent QB who does so many of the little things well. Fundamentally sound and solid mechanics will allow immediate success at next level.

3. AJ McCarron, Alabama (6-4, 210, Jr.)
The Alabama Heisman candidate won't wow scouts with any one talent, but he has every piece of the puzzle to be a very successful NFL quarterback. He is a champion who has done anything his coaching staff has asked. He has an excellent frame and plenty of arm to make all the throws. He is an unquestioned leader who takes his work extremely seriously. He is wildly efficient as a career 66.5 percent passer and rarely turns the ball over. He will also set multiple career and single-season Alabama passing records. Look for his poise, intelligence and work ethic to move him slowly up draft boards come next spring — if he decides to leave early. Comparison: Matt Ryan

Leak's Scouting Report: Successful QB that shows poise and courage in the pocket against top SEC competition. Has ability to ignore oncoming defenders and still get off an accurate pass.

4. Tyler Bray, Tennessee (6-5, 215, Jr.)
Bray has a first-round arm, a first-round frame and has played against first-round competition. But he currently has a seventh-round head on his shoulders. He can make every throw in the book, but he hasn't proven he can protect the football, stay healthy, lead an offensive huddle or win football games. Scouts will love his raw skills but will have major doubts about his mental make-up, maturity and dedication. He is a 58.5 percent career passer in college and will post career highs with an SEC-best 3,612 yards and 34 touchdowns in 2012. Comparison: Philip Rivers

Leak's Scouting Report: Gunslinger with great height to scan entire field. Great feel on downfield throws. Needs to improve accuracy on intermediate throws.

5. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas (6-2, 218, Sr.)
Wilson was highly thought of by college and pro personnel alike until this fall. His offensive production was clearly not the same without Bobby Petrino and it will raise questions about Wilson's long-term upside. He has a solid arm, displays incredible toughness (just ask his OL) and has adequate size for an NFL pocket. His team went from 11 wins to four in one year and his numbers plummeted in his senior season (3,638 yards, 24 TD, 6 INT in 2011 and 3,387 yards, 21 TD, 13 INT in 2012). He is a career 62.7 percent passer and will need to prove his accuracy during the combine circuit this offseason. Comparison: Mark Sanchez

Leak's Scouting Report: Possesses a strong arm, and has ability to fit passes through tight windows. Didn't progress as a senior however.

6. Mike Glennon, NC State (6-6, 235, Sr.)
There isn't much left to learn about Glennon. He has a massive frame that is perfect for an NFL pocket passer. He is not an athlete who will run around, so his big frame and big arm are well-suited for the pass-happy NFL. He has played with little elite athletic ability around him on offense and the running game has been non-existent over the last two seasons. He has turned the ball over a bit too much (26 INTs in last two seasons) and has completed just under 60 percent of his passes for his career. But he also finished with 6,702 yards and 61 TDs in his final two seasons. Scouts will love his size and arm strength, however, and that could push him up draft boards. Comparison: Joe Flacco

Leak's Scouting Report: Has ideal size and arm strength for the next level, but needs to continue and improve his technique. Unpolished with his footwork and needs to refine the details of the position.

7. EJ Manuel, Florida State (6-4, 240, Sr.)
Manuel might be the most intriguing prospect on this entire list. He entered college as an elite prospect and took three full seasons to develop into the star he is today. He has a great frame and big arm to make all of the throws. He is an excellent member of the community who will take his work extremely seriously on the next level. He also has above average athletic ability to keep plays alive and move the chains with his legs. However, he is unrefined as a true pocket passer and will need work developing his motion and release. As a career 67.1 percent passer, he has been efficient in the college game and scouts will wonder if that translates. He also has dealt with some injury issues in his past, especially in big games like Oklahoma in 2011 and the second half of the Florida game this fall. The upside is massive with Manuel, who has his team poised to win the ACC for the first time in nearly a decade, but he has some major question marks. He finished with 7,311 yards passing, 752 yards rushing and 56 total touchdowns. Comparison: Carson Palmer

Leak's Scouting Report: Ideal height with the arm strength to push the ball downfield. Has ability to extend and make plays with his legs. Intriguing NFL prospect because of his raw physical tools and athletic ability.

8. Derek Carr, Fresno State (6-3, 210, Jr.)
Older brother flop of a draft pick (David) aside, Carr has put together two big seasons in a row in two different systems. He has thrown only 14 interceptions in 903 attempts in the last two seasons with 62 touchdown passes. He is a career 65 percent passer and has led his team from a 4-9 record in the WAC in 2011 to a potential 10-win season and a share of the Mountain West championship in 2012. He takes care of the football and posts big numbers — try 3,742 yards and 36 TD with only five picks as a senior — with big-time talent. He will fly under the draft radars until scouts get a better look at him. His stock could soar late in the process. Comparison: Matt Schaub

Leak's Scouting Report: Strong arm with great feel on sideline throws, possesses a great deal of natural arm talent and is confident in his ability to fit the ball between tight windows. Very quick release but doesn't fully take advantage of his height due to 3/4 release point.

9. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech (6-5, 260, Jr.)
Few players have the size and athleticism that Thomas can offer the scouts in the NFL. He also has been a walking turnover this season and the Hokies have produced their worst season in nearly a decade. He has an okay arm, but not elite. His major strengths are his massive frame, strength and athleticism. He lacks accuracy — he is a 56.3 percent passer and has nearly as many INT as he has had passing TD over his two-year stint as the starter. Someone will fall in love with his size and athletic ability but his inefficiency, turnovers and lack of arm strength make him a high-risk prospect. Comparison: Josh Freeman

Leak's Scouting Report: Has combination of size, mobility and arm strength for next level. Very gifted athlete with raw mechanics and will need to improve accuracy and mental part of his game.

10. Landry Jones, Oklahoma (6-4, 220, Sr.)
Few players have ever been as productive as Jones in college. He will finish with more than 16,000 passing yards and over 120 total touchdowns. Yet, he has struggled with turnovers (nearly 50 INTs) and has struggled to win big games — on the road or at home. He has good size and a great arm as a potential pocket-passer, but will have to overcome the dreaded "system" mantra as Oklahoma has elite wideouts, a big-time OL and faces mediocre defenses in the Big 12. Jones will be an intriguing prospect to watch as the offseason moves along. Comparison: Sam Bradford

Leak's Scouting Report: Very accurate passer in the pocket but not as much on the move. Can lead receivers down the field and on crossing routes, places throws where only his man can make a play. Ideal size and athletic ability for the next level.

11. Tajh Boyd, Clemson (6-1, 220, Jr.)
Undersized but very tough. Has a big arm and above-average athletic ability. Sneaky good potential. He finished his junior season with 3,550 yards passing, 490 yards rushing, 43 overall touchdowns and 10 wins. 

Leak's Scouting Report: Excellent dual-threat QB. Consistent accurate passer on the move. Ability to freeze safeties by looking one direction and passing the other.

12. Aaron Murray, Georgia (6-0, 215, Jr.)
A winner who plays with great toughness and moxie. Gunslinger who is very undersized and will be hurt in the draft by his lack of height. He will remind scouts of a less efficient version of Russell Wilson with a similar skillset to that of Drew Brees. 

Leak's Scouting Report: Successful SEC QB, possessing plenty of arm strength to handle the jump to the NFL despite his lack of preferred height. Decision making will be key for jump to elite status.

12. Bryn Renner, North Carolina (6-3, 215, Jr.)
Big arm and a pro-style passer who has dealt with loads of turmoil in the locker room. Has played with elite receivers, running backs and offensive lines, so he has much to prove on the next level.

Leak's Scouting Report: A traditional drop back passer and looks the part with a tall, filled out frame. Has above-average arm to make all the throws and does a nice job working through his progressions to find the open target.

14. Zac Dysert, Miami-Ohio (6-3, 230, Sr.)
Experienced leader who has thrown a ton of passes. Does he have NFL passing talent?

Leak's Scouting Report: Displays an obvious understanding of the game of football, with great size and height with the arm strength to stretch defenses from sideline to sideline. Can be a statue at times in the pocket but shows confidence in arm and throwing with accuracy.

15. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse (6-2, 230, Sr.)
Has posted big numbers on a bad team. Has shown significant growth over his time as the starter.

Leak's Scouting Report: Has good arm strength and is very accurate throwing on the run. Shows toughness and is a gamer with a lot of potential.

The Best of the Rest:

16. Brad Sorensen, Southern Utah (6-4, 235, Sr.)
17. Collin Klein, Kansas State (6-5, 225, Sr.)
18. Sean Renfree, Duke (6-4, 225, Sr.)
19. Keith Price, Washington (6-1, 200, Jr.)
20. Matt McGloin, Penn State (6-1, 220, Sr.)
21. Alex Carder, Western Michigan (6-2, 225, Sr.)
22. Seth Doege, Texas Tech (6-1, 200, Sr.)
23. Jeff Tuel, Washington State (6-3, 225, Sr.)
24. Jordan Rodgers, Vanderbilt (6-0, 205, Sr.)
25. Dayne Crist, Kansas (6-4, 230, Sr.)

Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:

<p> 2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Quarterbacks</p>
Post date: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - 05:40
Path: /nfl/8-amazing-stats-nfl-sunday-week-12

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 12 of NFL play:

15-0: Divisional record for four AFC division leaders
New England (8-3) is 4-0 in the AFC East after a dominating performance against the Jets on Thanksgiving night. The Patriots still have two games left with the pesky Miami Dolphins (5-6). The Denver Broncos (8-3) also moved to 4-0 in the AFC West with their win over lowly Kansas City. A road trip to Oakland and the Chiefs at home is what still awaits Peyton Manning, who already has a four-game lead in the West. Baltimore (9-2) is 4-0 in the AFC North, and after a Pittsburgh (6-5) loss to Cleveland (3-8), the Ravens have a three-game lead over both the Bengals and Steelers. They still have to face Pittsburgh at home and finish the season with a tricky road trip to Cincinnati (6-5). Finally, the Houston Texans (10-1) have a 3-0 mark in the South with two remaining against the Colts (7-4) and one with the Titans (4-7). The top four seeds are all but locked into place in the AFC.

10:0: Andy Dalton's TD:Turnover ratio in Bengals three-game winning streak
Through eight games, Andy Dalton had thrown at least one interception in every game, had turned the ball over a total of 13 times and the Bengals were 3-5 in the standings. Since then, the second-year quarterback out of TCU has led his team to three straight wins and has Cincinnati tied with Pittsburgh for the final Wild Card playoff spot currently. He has accounted for 10 total touchdowns without a single turnover of any kind during the winning streak, including nary an interception in 89 pass attempts. The red-headed quarterback has scored 25 total touchdowns already this season (23 pass, 2 rush) which is four more than his 21 as a rookie (20 pass, 1 rush).

7: Ryan Lindley became the seventh rookie QB to start a game in 2012
Eleven quarterbacks were taken in the 2012 NFL Draft. The four first-round picks — Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden — have been starting since Week 1. Luck and Griffin have lived up to their billing and then some. Russell Wilson was taken in the third round and has been more than impressive in Seattle. Nick Foles was taken in the third round as well and has replaced Michael Vick (concussion) as the starter in Philadelphia. And now Ryan Lindley got his first career start for Arizona this Sunday after being drafted in the sixth round out of San Diego State. He threw for 312 yards on 52 attempts in his debut, but also tossed four interceptions. Additionally, Kirk Cousins threw a go-ahead second-half 77-yard touchdown pass against the Falcons in spot duty for RG3 earlier this season. Brock Osweiler and BJ Coleman both play behind Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers whom rarely take a snap off. That leaves Mr. Irrelevant Chandler Harnish as the final QB taken in the 2012 class by the Colts.

4th and 29: Game-saving conversion with 1:59 left for the Ravens
With 1:59 left in the fourth quarter in San Diego, Joe Flacco and the Ravens faced a 4th and 29 trailing by three points. He checked down to Ray Rice to his right before the star tailback cut back all the way across the field and powered forward to pick up one more yard than was needed. The improbable conversion on the final drive of the game led to a game-tying field goal. Once in overtime, the Ravens got a stop and then put together a 12-play, 58-yard game-winning drive that ended in a Justin Tucker field goal. The win give the Ravens a commanding three-game AFC North lead and could have sealed Norv Turner's fate as the head coach in San Diego.

30.5: Aldon Smith's career sacks in first two seasons
Reggie White owns the NFL record for sacks in the first years of a player's career with 30 (13.0 and 18.0) back in 1985 and 1986. Aldon Smith posted 1.5 sacks in the big road win over New Orleans this Sunday, bringing his total to a league-leading 16.5 QB takedowns. After 14.0 as a rookie, Smith is poised to shatter White's all-time mark through two seasons. He has 12.0 sacks in his last five games and is on pace for 24.0 this fall — which would also break the NFL single-season record set by Michael Strahan (22.5) in 2001.

200: Eli Manning's Giants franchise record for passing TDs
The Giants stopped one of the hottest teams dead in its tracks with their Sunday night thumping of the Green Bay Packers. Eli Manning completed 16-of-30 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns in the big home win. With those three passing strikes, Manning has now thrown more touchdown passes than any New York Giant in history. Phil Simms held the previous record with 199.

56: Marques Colston's Saints franchise record for TDs scored
Running back Deuce McAllister scored 55 total touchdowns (49 rushing, 5 receiving, 1 fumble recovery) in his 97-game, eight-year New Orleans Saints career. Marques Colston, in not even seven full seasons but also his 97th career game as a Saint, scored his 56th touchdown to pass McAllister on the New Orleans all-time touchdowns list. Colston's 6,997 receiving yards are third all-time behind Eric Martin (7,854) and he is third all-time in receptions with 504 behind only Martin's 532. He should own both of these records in the very near future.

<p> 7 Amazing Stats from NFL Sunday: Week 12</p>
Post date: Monday, November 26, 2012 - 06:05
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2012-season-recap-and-awards

Please raise your hand if you had UCLA at Stanford in the 2012 Pac-12 championship game? I am still waiting. Oregon and USC were overwhelming favorites to win their respective divisions out west this fall and neither was able to reach the promised land. Oregon is still the highest-rated team in the league and should land in a BCS bowl game, while USC took a very different route to disappointment this fall. That said, a host of new coaches and freshmen quarterbacks have this league poised for a run at the mighty SEC over the next few seasons.

Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona – The Arizona sophomore led the nation in rushing at 146.4 yards per game and he scored 21 total touchdowns (second in the Pac-12). He set a Pac-12 single-game rushing record with 366 yards and set the Arizona single-season rushing record with 1,757.

2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon – Mariota might be the best quarterback Chip Kelly has ever coached and he is just a freshman. The Oregon quarterback led the best offense in the league to an 11-1 mark and was the Pac-12's top-rated passer (165.36). All of this while rushing for 690 yards and four scores on the ground as well. He is going to be a good one.

3. Marqise Lee, WR, USC – It might be weird to see Lee at No. 3, but a wide receiver on a five-loss team can't be as important as a guy who touched the ball 308 times (Carey) and the league's best quarterback on the top-rated team. That said, Lee was unreal in 2012, leading the league in receptions, receiving yards, kickoff returns and all-purpose yards. 

Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford – His defense led the league in total defense, rushing defense and scoring defense and is poised to win the Pac-12 championship behind his leadership. He posted 61 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, one interception and one forced fumble.

2. Will Sutton, DL, Arizona State – The versatile inside-outside talent posted 58 tackles, a league-leading 20.0 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks to go with three forced fumbles and five passes deflected.

3. Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State – He posted 44 total tackles, 4.0 tackles for a loss, a sack, six interceptions, returned eight punts and deflected six passes. He led a massive turnaround in defense production in Corvallis this fall.

Coach of the Year Standings

1. Mike Riley, Oregon State – One of the better guys in all of college football did a masterful job in a key season for the Oregon State Beavers. This team was 3-9 last year and finished dead last in the Pac-12 in rushing offense, rushing defense and turnover margin. The rushing defense was third to only Stanford and Utah this season as Oregon State stares at a potential 10-win season. 

3. David Shaw, Stanford – The Stanford coach has proven his success wasn't just Jim Harbaugh or Andrew Luck. His team led the nation in rushing defense and led the league in total defense and scoring defense. He will host the league title game — all with quarterback issues for most of the season. 

2. Jim Mora, UCLA – Clearly, the Bruins' roster has loads of elite talent. But Mora took a bunch of underachievers and got big-time results by winning the South. A win over Shaw in the title game moves him to No. 2 on my ballot.

10 Things We Learned From the Pac-12 in 2012

1. The Ducks' offseason could be anything but smooth
The Oregon Ducks are the top-rated team in this league in the polls but won't even win its division. It could be the best team in the nation not playing in the BCS National Championship game. So after what could be a great season trimmed with disappointment, fans in Eugene might need to brace for what could be a very anxious offseason. Chip Kelly has long been rumored to have lustful eyes for the NFL and could easily jump at the chance to coach well-stocked offensive cupboards in San Diego or Philadelphia. The NCAA will also be investigating the Willie Lyles scandal and could be ruling sometime this spring. Maybe the NCAA finds nothing (which seems highly unlikely) and maybe Kelly returns for another season. But after dominating the West Coast for the last half-decade, the Ducks could be dealing with NCAA sanctions and a coaching search in the same offseason.

2. David Shaw might not be in Palo Alto too much longer
Be it in the SEC where fans in Knoxville, Auburn and Fayetteville are pining for Shaw, or more likely in the NFL, Shaw proved this season that he belongs amongst football's coaching elite. Without Andrew Luck, an NFL tight end and two All-American blockers, Stanford still won 10 games and is hosting the conference championship game. More importantly, it is the toughness and physicality that Shaw has instilled in his program that has been the most impressive. His team led the nation in rushing defense and sacks while leading the league total defense and scoring defense. Their only two losses came against Notre Dame on a questionable goal-line stand and an early season road trip to Washington in which they led late. Certainly, Jim Harbaugh gets loads of credit for building the Cardinal brand nationally on the recruiting trail, but so does Shaw. Much like Harbaugh, his teams play great defense and pound the ball on offense. There is a chance that big dollars and commitment could keep Shaw at his alma mater, but much like Harbaugh, the call of the NFL could be too much for Shaw to resist.

3. No league has as much offensive talent
Marqise Lee could be a Heisman finalist and may not even be deserving of Offensive Player of the Year honors in the Pac-12. The quarterback position was deep with both seniors (Matt Barkley, Matt Scott) and a host of talented youngsters set to return (Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley, Taylor Kelly, Sean Mannion, Kevin Hogan, Travis Wilson). Carey led the nation in rushing while Kenjon Barner (4th), Johnathan Franklin (9th) and Stepfan Taylor (14th) all finished in the top 15 nationally as well. Then there is De'Anthony Thomas, Bishop Sankey, John White and a trio of talented Arizona State backs. Lee was the top wide receiver in the nation, but Brandin Crooks, Markus Wheaton and Austin Hill landed in the top 13 nationally in receiving yards too. Marquess Wilson (quit), Keenan Allen (injury), Robert Woods (nagging injuries) and Kasen Williams (QB play) are all elite wideouts as well. Add the nation's top two tight ends in Zach Ertz and Austin Seferian-Jenkins and no league in the country can match the level of athlete playing the skill positions in the Pac-12.

4. Monte Kiffin might not be cut-out for the college game
Lane Kiffin won't get the benefit of the doubt from fans across the country. He has used some sophomoric behaviors that have opened him up for criticism. Hiring his father to coach the defense, however, has never been viewed as anything but a great move. It worked in the SEC against NFL pro-style attacks where his deceiving blitz schemes are effective. In the wide open, spread-heavy Pac-12, Kiffin has failed to adjust. Yes, depth on this roster became a major issue and likely cost USC a couple of wins. While the NCAA sanctions have nothing to do with either Kiffin, they obviously played a major role in 2012. A change on the defensive side of the ball could be coming soon at Heritage Hall. Imagine having to call your father into your office to tell him that he is fired? I couldn't do it.

5. More people need to Be Like Mike...Riley, that is
Certainly, the old phrase about the greatest hoops star of all-time was more about his on the court play than his off-the-court lifestyle. And while Mike Riley doesn't have six championship rings on the field, he is one of the better people in college football off of it. Oregon State had 26 straight losing seasons before Riley's first stint in Corvallis in 1997, and after 12 years at the helm, he is the Beavers' all-time winningest coach. And he has done so with class, grace and respect. Few coaches are thought of as highly off of the field as Riley is amongst his coaching peers and student athletes. He has always been genuine, thoughtful and gracious with his time whenever I have interviewed him. I don't root for too many individual coaches in college football because, generally speaking, they are abrasive, distant and disingenuous (for obvious reasons). But it's easy to get behind a guy like Mike Riley, even if you are a fan in Eugene.

6. The previous regime at UCLA was entirely too laid back
Jim Mora instilled a level of toughness and work ethic that Bruins fans hadn't seen in years in just a few short months. Which certainly wasn't the case under former
laissez-faire head coach Rick Neuheisel. The previous regime recruited extremely well, so the cupboard wasn't bare, but Slick Rick obviously failed to develop talent in Westwood. Mora and his well-assembled coaching staff not only got the most out of their talent, they did so in style with one of the league's top offenses. UCLA far exceeded expectations by winning the South Division championship, and with star quarterback Brett Hundley returning next fall for only his sophomore (redshirt) season, the expectation level has now officially been raised in Los Angeles.

7. Rich Rodriguez got a bad rap at Michigan
The boosters, administration and fan base never really got behind Rich Rodriguez. His teams missed bowl games and had losing records — which isn't allowed in Ann Arbor. But much of the blame for those issues has to go to Lloyd Carr. No, RichRod's aggressive nature and spread offense didn't really fit at Michigan, but he is a quality football coach who was a bit of a scapegoat for the Maize and Blue-bloods. At Arizona, he took a 4-8 team that failed to compete against good teams to an 8-4 record that features the nation's leading rusher. Matt Scott won't be back next year, but Ka'Deem Carey, the country's most underrated running back, will be. And fans can bet he won't be underrated next fall.

8. Washington fixed its defensive problems
Justin Wilcox was hired as the defensive coordinator. Peter Sirmon and Tosh Lupoi were also brought on as defensive assistants and star recruiters. A fourth-quarter choke against Washington State notwithstanding, the changes made by Steve Sarkisian on the defensive side of the ball clearly worked. In 2011, Washington finished 11th in the Pac-12 and 106th nationally in total defense by allowing 453.3 yards per game. It also ranked 11th in the Pac-12 and 108th nationally in scoring defense at 35.9 points allowed per game. The Huskies allowed exactly 100 fewer yards per game (353.3) and nearly two touchdowns less per game (23.8 ppg). The offense took a step back without Chris Polk and Jermaine Kearse and a long list of major injuries to the offensive line, but the defense has been elevated to a championship level. The next step for Coach Sark is to put it all together — like in 2013 with a glut of talented defenders and a senior quarterback.

9. Cal is better suited to win under a new regime
Jeff Tedford is arguably the most successful coach in Golden Bears history. He led Cal to its first conference championship (2006) since 1975, has won more games (79) than any coach in program history and has the highest winning percentage (62 percent) since Pappy Waldorf in the late 40s. He also should be given direct credit for the massive upgrades in facilities in Berkeley. Yet, after losing star coaches and recruits this offseason, an extremely uncompetitive 3-9 mark forced the administration's hand. Whoever is hired at Cal is much better suited to win quickly, however, due to the decade-long growth of the program under Tedford. 

10. Mike Leach has a long way to go in Pullman
Year number one at Washington State didn't exactly go the way Leach planned. Locker room turmoil, a star defection, no ability whatsoever to run the football are just a few of the issues this team dealt with in 2012. Yet, the season finished on a high note with a huge fourth-quarter comeback in The Apple Cup — and it might have been just the boost Leach needed to kick start his offseason. The win not only came against a bitter rival, but it gave Leach his first career Pac-12 win. In a year marred with poor performances, Washington State understands it needs to improve across the board in every way if it expects to compete in the stacked North Division. 

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ACC 2012 Season Recap and Awards

<p> Pac-12 2012 Season Recap and Awards</p>
Post date: Monday, November 26, 2012 - 05:25
Path: /college-football/big-ten-2012-season-recap-and-awards

Bizarre might be the best word to describe the 2012 edition of Big Ten football. The best teams with the best player and the best coach won't be playing for a championship of any kind after finishing the season as one of only two undefeated teams in the nation. The non-conference performance by the league as a whole was fairly atrocious as a road win over Syracuse might be the best out-of-league win this season. What about the emotional roller coaster fans in Happy Valley have been on for over a year?

Yet, there is room for optimism. Nebraska appears to be back competing for league titles, Montee Ball broke a historic all-time NCAA record, the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry is officially back and, by the way, the league will be at 14 teams in a matter of months.

Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State – Much like Michigan's Denard Robinson, Miller spends a lot of time writhing in pain. But when he is upright, he is the most gifted, most electric player in the league. And his team never lost this fall. He finished No. 2 in total offense (275.8 ypg), No. 3 in passing efficiency (140.46) and No. 5 in rushing (105.9 ypg). He accounted for 28 touchdowns (15 pass, 13 rush) with only six interceptions while completing 58.3 percent of his passes.

2. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska – Martinez had a slightly better statistical year than Miller, but his team lost twice, including a blowout at the hands of Miller and the Buckeyes. If the voting for this award took place after the title game, Ohio State was eligible and T-Mart defeated Miller to win the Big Ten crown? Things would be different. But without that win, the league's leading passer (148.34 rating) and total producer (276.3 ypg) trails Miller.

3. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin – The Wisconsin Badgers' record-setting running back led the league in touchdowns (18) and finished second in rushing with 1,528 yards. He set the all-time NCAA record for total touchdowns scored with 79 and is currently tied for the NCAA mark of 73 rushing TD. He and the Badgers will attempt to avenge one of their close losses against Nebraska in Indianapolis this weekend. 

Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Mike Mauti, LB, Penn State – The numbers are good, but no player might have meant more to his team than Mauti. Even as an innocent bystander in the season finale he impacted the game. He posted 96 tackles, three interceptions, three forced fumbles, 4.0 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.

2. John Simon, DL, Ohio State – He lost the award by not being able to play against Michigan likely. But Simon was the star he was expected to be this season. He posted 44 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and 9.0 sacks for the best team in the league. He never quits and makes everyone around him better.

3. Will Compton, LB, Nebraska – One of the nation's best, Compton registered 98 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, one interceptions and seven passes deflected for the team that will likely earn the Big Ten crown.

Coach of the Year Standings

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State – To lead his team to a perfect record in the face of NCAA sanctions and bowl ineligibility in his first season is nothing short of amazing. This team lost seven games last year and the 12-0 mark was Meyer's first undefeated BCS team.

2. Bill O'Brien, Penn State – The job BoB did in Happy Valley was also remarkable. His sanctions were worse and his roster wasn't nearly as talented. But he totally revamped a stagnant PSU offense and won eight games in a city reeling from the worst scandal in NCAA history.

3. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern – This is a two-horse race but Coach Fitz deserves a nod. As does Bo Pelini. No one gets more out of less than Pat Fitzgerald, but more on that in a moment...

10 Things We Learned From the Big Ten in 2012

1. Brady Hoke vs. Urban Meyer could save the Big Ten
The Big Ten had a down year in 2012. There is no arguing that. But they also had an undefeated team, a potential Heisman trophy candidate, one of the most productive players in the history of the game (Denard Robinson) and two elite coaches on the same field this Saturday. Ohio State and Michigan have a chance to save the most lucrative league in college football. If Hoke and Meyer continue to set the Big Ten standard of excellence and success, the rest of the league will have no choice but to elevate themselves to the same level of commitment. After a back-and-forth affair in Columbus that was as enjoyable as any meeting in the long history of the rivalry, the nation once again must pay attention to the Buckeyes-Wolverines showdown. The spread offenses may not remind fans of Bo and Woody, but the throwback coaches and national importance certainly will. The Big Ten will return to national prominence at some point — e.g., competing for national championships — and it will happen because these two coaches have begun another 10-year war.

2. The Buckeyes are a national title contender in 2013
There will be plenty of holes to fill on defense, but this team has to be considered the frontrunner in the Big Ten next fall. And that should put them in the preseason Top 10 with relative ease. As long as Braxton Miller and Urban Meyer are together on offense, this team has a chance to win every game it plays. Miller is a transcendent talent who fits Meyer's system perfectly and will make another serious run at Ohio State's eighth Heisman Trophy. But after a year of great success with no payoff, expectations will soar down the banks of the Olentangy. Handling the constant offseason pressure to win — which Kansas State and Oregon couldn't handle for one week — will be Meyer's tallest order this spring.

3. Brady Hoke is going to be just fine in Ann Arbor
Michigan isn't "back" yet, but they are getting awfully close. Four losses indicate this program is still a couple of more Hoke recruiting classes away from being a national contender. But those four losses came to four teams with a combined record of 45-3 (Notre Dame, Alabama, Ohio State and Nebraska). Denard Robinson is an amazing player who has a long highlight reel loaded with eye-popping runs and won't soon be forgotten by Wolverine faithful. But he doesn't possess the skillset Hoke wants from his quarterback and fans saw a glimpse of the future with Devin Gardner late in the year. Hoke has pulled the Maize and Blue out of the Lloyd Carr-RichRod hole and is as old-school as old-school can get (SEE: short sleeves in snow). He is building towards a long run at Big Ten championships, Rose Bowls and possibly more.

4. The Big Ten is still an extremely attractive place to be
The oldest conference in America is easily the richest and most lucrative league in all of college football. That is why Maryland, against the wishes of many outspoken alumni, and Rutgers jumped at the chance to collect a Big Ten paycheck. Jim Delany may not be the nicest guy in the world, but he is one of the smartest and one of the shrewdest. The fact that the announcement of Maryland and Rutgers joining the league didn't leak until the day before the official vote and press conference indicates Delany's air-tight grasp on Big Ten operations. He has called Mike Slive's expansion raise and is staring directly at the biggest payday in college football history in the form of the conference's next (2017) TV contracts. Aside from a program like North Carolina (who would never leave) or Louisville (which lacks the TV and academic requirements), no teams were more attractive and have more potential than the Terps and Scarlet Knights. The onus of competition now falls to those two schools putting the right leaders in the right places.

5. Bill O'Brien is a pretty sharp dude
No one in the history of college football has taken over a program with more swirling turmoil than O'Brien at Penn State. The scandal that shook the college football world didn't shake the seniors on this football team, and Coach BoB deserves much of the credit for keeping this team together. He began his tenure watching as a dozen key contributors walked away from his program after unprecedented heavy-handed NCAA sanctions — all before playing a single game. But somehow, O'Brien turned an unimaginative, lethargic offense into an exciting, creative product that won eight games. He will have his hands full rebuilding the Nittany Lions brand name on the recruiting trail and depth will be a major issue for the next few years. But if the emotion and excitement in Beaver Stadium for Senior Day in the win over Wisconsin was any indication, the Nittany Lions won't be down for long.

6. Taylor Martinez quieted the doubters and is poised for a huge 2013
As a freshman, Martinez displayed a lack of mental toughness and maturity. He also was banged up down the stretch. As a sophomore, he developed as a leader within the huddle and the locker room. The question about his third season under center at Nebraska was going to be his ability to throw the football efficiently. As it turns out, he is pretty good. He led the league in passing efficiency while consistently leading his team back from second-half deficits. He has developed into one of the most complete quarterbacks in the nation and has a chance to win a Big Ten championship with one more win.

7. Michigan State doesn't reload, they rebuild
Kirk Cousins was just one of many key departures from the Spartans' back-to-back 11-win teams. The off-season question surrounding Mark Dantonio's team was if Michigan State had grown into a program that simply reloads instead of having to rebuild. There is a fine line between the two and fans in East Lansing were given a definitive and resounding "no." The offense was one-dimensional and predictable without Cousins and this team failed to finish close games all season. Dantonio is an excellent coach and the Spartans will be back soon enough, but many young players were forced into key roles this fall and it cost MSU in a big way.

8. Does anyone get more from less than Pat Fitzgerald?
His coaching ability and style may not work at a place like Ohio State or Michigan, but there is no better person to lead the Northwestern Wildcats than Pat Fitzgerald. He has never finished higher than 9th in the Big Ten in the recruiting rankings and consistently produces a winner on the field. He has averaged nearly eight wins per season over the last five seasons (7.8) and with a bowl win, the Wildcats would post their first 10-win season since Coach Fitz' 1995 Rose Bowl team. That said, his team could have had a special season this fall had they simply held onto a lead or two. Northwestern gave up second-half leads to Nebraska, Michigan State and Michigan, leaving Coach Fitz to wonder "what if?"

9. Iowa deserves better from a $39 million coach
Kirk Ferentz makes roughly $4 million per season and is the sixth highest paid coach in the nation. The math isn't difficult to follow for fans in Iowa City. One million per win isn't getting the job done. Ferentz isn't going anywhere this season, and more coaching staff changes might be expected. The hires he made last season — Greg Davis on offense and Phil Parker on defense — will be heavily scrutinized this off-season. Parker has the name and a long tenure on Ferentz staff, so a move on that side isn't likely. Davis, however, is in danger. His offense lacked creativity as quarterback James Vandenberg and the passing game took a major step back this season. It may not be justified to cut Davis loose after just one season, but he may not have a choice as the pressure will be on Ferentz to shake things up. Four wins at Iowa isn't acceptable.

10. This league might have the best coaches in the nation
Iowa's struggles this year aside, Ferentz has been one of the Hawkeyes' most successful coaches. Bret Bielema did an excellent job this fall with a very non-descript Badgers team and could earn a third straight trip to Pasadena. Bo Pelini is poised to win Nebraska's first conference title since 1999. Pat Fitzgerald's exploits in Evanston are well documented. New coaches hired in the last two years at Michigan, Ohio State, Indiana and Penn State all appear to be great hires. Jerry Kill has the Golden Gophers back in a bowl game. And Mark Dantonio is as respected a coach as there is in the nation. The jury is still out on Tim Beckman, but unlike most leagues, the Big Ten won't see any turnover on the sidelines this fall. This is why Purdue, after two bowl games in a row, might be the only coaching vacancy in the league this winter.

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ACC 2012 Season Recap and Awards

<p> Big Ten 2012 Season Recap and Awards</p>
Post date: Monday, November 26, 2012 - 05:20
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-betting-against-spread-week-13

Every Friday for entertainment purposes only, I will bring you my top college football picks against the spread. I do 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.

2012 Record Against The Spread: 52-31
Last Week: 3-2

Note: All lines are as of date of publication

Ball State (-7.5) at Miami, Ohio
The Cardinals have won five straight and are 9-2 against the spread. The Redhawks have lost three straight and are 2-8-1 against the number this fall. This seems like easy money. Prediction: Ball State -7.5

Arizona State (+2.5) at Arizona
The Wildcats offense is on cruise control and appears to be fully healthy. The Sun Devils defense has been on life support for over a month (despite a strong showing against lowly Washington State). Arizona is a far superior team and could roll big. Prediction: Arizona -2.5

Washington (-13.5) at Washington State
Normally, in potentially bad weather on the road in a rivalry, I would recommend betters stay away. But Washington State is horrible and the Huskies are surging. Take Coach Sark and his Woof Gang. Prediction: Washington -13.5

Northwestern (-19) at Illinois
Pat Fitzgerald's team has only lost once this year against the spread and Illinois has done nothing to prove it will hang around in this one. Why shouldn't this one get ugly? Prediction: Northwestern -19

Florida (+7) at Florida State
Call is SEC hubris, but the Gators getting seven points against anyone feels like a smart bet. Yes, Florida State has been strong against Florida over the last two, and I still like the Noles to win, but a blowout feels highly unlikely. Prediction: Florida +7

One to watch for fun:

Idaho (+38) at Utah State
The Aggies are the only unbeaten team in the nation against the spread this year. And Idaho has been terrible in Vegas, going 2-9 against the spread. So why not lay 38 points, right? Prediction: Utah State -38

2012 Trends Against the Spread:

  Best Teams Against the Spread   Worst Teams Against the Spread
1. Utah State (11-0) 1. Virginia (1-8-2)
2t. Fresno State (10-1) 2t. Arkansas (2-9)
2t. Northwestern (10-1) 2t. Colorado (2-9)
4t. Ball State (9-2) 2t. Idaho (2-9)
4t. Kent State (9-2) 2t. Iowa (2-9)
4t. San Jose State (9-2) 2t. Nevada (2-9)
7. Kansas State (8-2-1) 7. Miami, Ohio (2-8-1)
8. Penn State (8-2-1)    

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<p> College Football Betting Against the Spread: Week 13</p>
Post date: Friday, November 23, 2012 - 09:00