Articles By David Fox

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Week 8 was another typical week in an atypical year for the Big 12.

Baylor scored 70. Texas Tech kept winning. Oklahoma couldn’t stop the run. TCU couldn’t find an offense. Oklahoma State couldn’t find a quarterback. And Kansas took an early lead before losing decisively.

That about sums up the Big 12 in 2013, especially in a week when unpredictable Texas and scrappy Kansas State stayed at home.

Big 12 Week 8 Recap and Awards

Offensive Player of the Week: Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State
With a quarterback change in Stillwater, Josh Stewart remained the constant. The Cowboys struggled with passers again this season, but no matter who is taking snaps, the goal should be to get the ball to Stewart. The junior caught 10 passes for 141 yards, including a 27-yard pass from receiver Charlie Moore that set up a touchdown. Stewart flourished in his matchup with Jason Verrett and the standout TCU secondary, but he found the end zone on a 95-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter.

Defensive Player of the Week: Charles Tapper, Oklahoma
With starters Jordan Phillips and Corey Nelson out, Oklahoma has struggled at times to stop the run. Thanks to defensive end Charles Tapper, OU clamped down on Kansas after falling behind 13-0. Tapper finished with six tackles, two sacks and three tackles for a loss in a 34-19 win. With 15 yards passing and three sacks, Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps accounted for minus-3 yards of total offense.

Freshman of the Week: Davis Webb, Texas Tech
At this point, the Big 12 freshman of the week should be renamed the Baker Mayfield/Davis Webb freshman of the week award. Red Raiders quarterbacks have owned this spot this season. Webb completed 35 of 50 passes for 462 yards with two touchdowns in a 37-27 road win over West Virginia. Webb had a potentially game-turning fumble at the 1-yard line in the second quarter, but he rebounded to lead three unanswered scoring drives in the final 17:26.

Team of the Week: Texas Tech
The meat of Texas Tech’s schedule begins next week with a road trip to Norman, but the Red Raiders continue to answer the call. West Virginia led by 11 at home, but Tech scored the final 21 points to preserve a 7-0 start. In his first season, coach Kliff Kingsbury has matched Tommy Tuberville’s best regular season and has brought Texas Tech into the top 10 for the first time since the magical 2008 season.

Coordinator of the Week: Phil Bennett, Baylor
The Baylor offense had its fourth 70-point day of the season, a milestone that is quickly becoming routine in Waco. What wasn’t routine was Baylor’s defense. The Bears had their best defensive game of the season, holding Iowa State to 174 total yards and 2.9 yards per play. Both were season-bests for the Baylor defense. Iowa State didn’t find the end zone until the final 47 seconds.

Fifth Down

• Baylor’s 64-point win over Iowa State was the largest margin of victory for the Bears in a conference game, Big 12 or Southwest Conference.

• If Baylor defeats Kansas next week, it will have the longest win streak in school history at 11 games.

• Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty picked up his first red zone touchdown of the season with a four-yard score to Antwan Goodley in the first quarter.

• Texas Tech’s 7-0 start overall and 4-0 start in the Big 12 are both the best for the Red Raiders since 2008. Kliff Kingsbury is the first Big 12 coach to start his career 7-0.

• Texas Tech was ranked ninth in the coaches’ poll and 10th in the AP poll Sunday, the first time the Red Raiders have been in the top 10 since the 2008 season.

• TCU forced four turnovers and lost. The Horned Frogs are 35-2 in the last 37 when forcing at least three turnovers.

• Oklahoma allowed Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps to complete only 5 of 13 passes. The Sooners hadn’t allowed five or fewer passes since Chattanooga went 3 of 17 on Aug. 30, 2008. OU has allowed single-digit pass completions twice this season, giving up nine to Notre Dame.

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There’s nothing like the first reveal of the BCS standings to remind us that half a dozen teams are worthy of playing for two spots in the national title game.

Saturday evening ended with Florida State demolishing Clemson 51-14 on the road in a matchup of top five teams, putting FSU in a similar class as Alabama and Oregon. The Seminoles’ win was as complete as anything a national title contender has done to another top team this seasons, but FSU may have trouble getting into the coveted 1-2 scenario when the BCS is revealed Sunday night.

Alabama and Oregon have done nothing to be left out of the top two, but they were ranked higher earlier, so FSU may have to wait its turn.

If the eighth week of the season is any indication, though, the pecking order of top teams is anything but settled. Besides Clemson, top 10 teams Louisville and UCLA lost their first games of the season.

And that doesn’t touch on the carnage in the SEC. LSU, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Georgia all lost unranked teams, showcasing either the weakness of top teams or the depth of the conference, depending on your perspective.

College Football Week 8 Recap: Three and Out

Three Things We Learned from Florida State 51, Clemson 14

This Florida State team is different. Feel free to file that statement away for when the Seminoles lose to NC State, Syracuse or Wake Forest. But Florida State looked like it’s finally ready to carry the weight of a team to bring the Seminoles back to glory. A good portion of the credit falls on Jameis Winston, who leads the team with a charisma rare in college football and even rarer for a redshirt freshman. It doesn’t hurt that Winston finished 22 of 34 for 444 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Florida State won every quarter and never showed a lapse that could have sparked an explosive offense like Clemson’s playing at home.

Florida State’s defense is nasty. Winston is a Heisman contender, for sure, but Florida State’s defense held Clemson down all night. First-year defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt with two first-year defensive assistants held Clemson and hotshot offensive coordinator Chad Morris to 326 yards of total offense and 3.8 yards per play. Clemson didn’t have a play of 20 yards, and Tajh Boyd wasn’t much of a factor with 164 yards of total offense with a touchdown and two interceptions. FSU defensive back Lamarcus Joyner finished with eight tackles, two forced fumbles, an interception and a sack.

Clemson still has hope. The Tigers don’t have much to salvage here. Clemson needed a touchdown in the final 30 seconds to avoid the first 40-point loss in the history of Death Valley to say nothing of a top-three team losing by 37 at home. This is a demoralizing loss that could wreck an entire season, especially with road trips against Maryland and Virginia in the next two weeks. But if Clemson returns to form through the remainder of the year, the Tigers can still be a strong candidate for at-large consideration in the BCS with a game at South Carolina to end the regular season. A top-10 finish for the first time since 1990 is still possible even if an ACC title and more are slim.

Three Signature SEC Moments

Butch’s big win. The Volunteers missed out on their big breakthrough under Butch Jones against Georgia when Pig Howard’s fumble at the goal line went out of the end zone for a critical touchback. When the second chance came, Tennessee pounced. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier burned his final two timeouts prior to a punt in the final three minutes, and Tennessee drove the ball 63 yards for the game-winning 19-yard field goal for a 23-21 win. Marquez North, a star in the making, had a one-handed 39-yard catch through tight coverage to set up the winning field goal. The victory was both Tennessee’s first win over a ranked team and first SEC win in October since a 31-13 defeat of South Carolina on Oct. 31, 2009 under Lane Kiffin.

SEC West offenses. The idea of Auburn going back and forth with the Texas A&M offense would have been unthinkable a year ago. Then, the Tigers lost 63-21 to the Aggies in 2012 and then went scoreless in final next two SEC games. On Saturday, the Aggies’ defense did its part in helping Auburn to a 45-41 win, but the turnaround is staggering. Auburn’s 251 points this season is 27 more than the Tigers scored all of 2012. Not a bad seven games for first-year coach Gus Malzahn. Auburn wasn't alone. Malzahn's pal Hugh Freeze led Ole Miss to 525 yards in a 27-24 upset of LSU. The Tigers hadn't allowed 500 yards in a game since giving up 533 in a win over a Geno Smith-led West Virginia in 2011. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace had his best game of the season, completing 30 of 39 passes for 346 yards. LSU's Zach Mettenberger reverted to his 2012 form, completing 19 of 33 passes with three interceptions.

Vanderbilt’s win over a ranked team. James Franklin has done many things to make Vanderbilt relevant in football from reaching bowl games and recruiting at an SEC level. But until Saturday, he’d never earned a win over a ranked team. The Commodores. Vanderbilt used a 17-point fourth quarter to upset No. 15 Georgia 31-17. The win ended the Commodores’ 17-game losing streak to ranked teams, going back to a win over No. 13 Auburn on Oct. 4, 2008. Georgia’s offense has been riddled with injuries, but so was Vanderbilt on Saturday. Quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels left the game on crutches in the second quarter, but backup Patton Robinette led three scoring drives, going 9 of 15 for 107 yards with an interception and a rushing touchdown. Georgia helped Vanderbilt as two fumbles and a snap over the head of punter Colin Barber gave the Commodores the ball in Georgia territory three times in the fourth quarter.

Three Seasons Gone Awry

Florida. By Saturday afternoon, it was tough to believe Florida was an AP top 10 team in the preseason and a legitimate SEC East contender two weeks ago. The Gators had their worst all-around games in decades in the 36-17 loss to Missouri. The 151 yards on offense was the fewest in a game for the Gators since 1999, and the 500 yards was the most since the 2007 season against Michigan in the Capital One Bowl. For the second consecutive week, Florida's injury-riddled offensive line was mauled, contributing to 92 passing yards and six sacks. Making matters worse, Florida’s secondary, considered one of the best in the SEC, gave up long pass plays all day. Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk, who ascended to the starter’s job after an injury to James Franklin, averaged 8.2 yards per pass. With games remaining against Georgia, Vanderbilt, at South Carolina, Georgia Southern and Florida State, the Gators may have trouble getting the two wins they need to be bowl eligible.

Northwestern. On Oct. 5, Northwestern was 4-0 and preparing for the biggest game in Evanston in years. Now, the Wildcats are wondering when they might find their first Big Ten win of the season. With Venric Mark and Kain Colter out, Northwestern lost to Minnesota 20-17, its third loss in a row. Northwestern’s offense was lost without its two starts, averaging 4.6 per play and turning the ball over three times. The Wildcats, once considered a Big Ten Legends contender, has no easy picks for a Big Ten win. The remaining schedule is at Iowa, at Nebraska, Michigan, Michigan State and at Illinois.

Maryland. The Terrapins spent one week at No. 25 in the AP poll after starting 4-0. The good feelings were dashed in a 63-0 wake-up call to Florida State that including a thundering hit on C.J. Brown that kept the quarterback out for a week. The Terrapins escaped Virginia 27-26 a week later, but Maryland’s prospects for the remainder of the season are considerably dimmer. Brown has returned, but his standout receiving duo of Stefon Diggs and Deon Long were lost to season-ending injuries in a shocking 34-10 loss to Wake Forest. Diggs and Long had combined for 66 receptions for 1,078 yards. No one else for Maryland has more than 14 catches. Maryland (5-2) faces Clemson next week, but should be able to get a bowl game with home games against Syracuse and Boston College.

Moving the Chains

Stanford’s defense. The Cardinal may have a tough time getting back into the national championship race with a loss to Utah on the resume, but Stanford still has a defense good enough to win a title. The Cardinal held UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley to a career-low 219 yards of total offense, and the Bruins averaged 4.5 yards per play, down from 6.7 entering the game. Safety Jordan Richards had 10 tackles, two interceptions and a pass breakup while linebacker Shayne Skov corralled the UCLA run game.

South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney. The soap opera surrounding Clowney’s injuries and Steve Spurrier’s postgame frustration with the defensive end’s decision not to play against Kentucky has been a hot topic for talking heads. It should be put to rest after Saturday. Despite the loss to Tennessee, Clowney had his finest game of the season. In a matchup with one of the best tackles in the country in Antonio Richardson, Clowney finished with 2.5 tackles for a loss and two quarterback hurries.

Ohio State’s backfield. The Buckeyes got a complete game from its starting backfield duo of Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde just when they needed it. Miller missed three games with injury and struggled two weeks ago against Northwestern, a game in which Hyde lifted Ohio State with 168 rushing yards and three touchdowns. On Saturday, Hyde again displayed the physical run game and balance by running for 149 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries in a 34-24 win over Iowa. Miller also had his best game of the season, completing 22 of 27 passes for 222 yards with two touchdowns to go with 102 rushing yards. Ohio State needed every bit of it as Iowa flourished early in the passing game. The Buckeyes had already lost safety Christian Bryant to a season-ending injury, and cornerback Bradley Roby was ejected early due to a targeting penalty.

False Starts

Texas A&M’s defense. The defense finally put the Aggies into a position where Johnny Manziel couldn’t come to the rescue. The Aggies offense kept giving A&M leads, including as much as 10 points in the fourth quarter, but the defense continuously opened the door for Auburn to answer. Even when field position was good, Auburn was able to drive down the field for four touchdown drives of 75 yards or more. Texas A&M gave up 379 rushing yards and 6.3 yards per carry in the 45-41 home loss. The Aggies gave up a total of 615 yards and have allowed at least 434 yards against each FBS opponent this season.

Washington. Is the top of the Pac-12 this good or is Washington drifting back into 7-6 territory? The Huskies will find out in the second half of the season, but after a 53-24 loss to Arizona State, it looks more like the latter. Washington played respectably in a loss to Stanford two weeks ago, but the Huskies have lost three in a row, the last two decisively. Arizona State outrushed Washington 314 to minus-5, thanks in part to six sacks of Huskies quarterback Keith Price and seven sacks overall. The Huskies already lost a chance at the Pac-12 North, but they’ll probably need to beat Colorado and Cal in the next two games to reach the elusive eight-win mark in the regular season.

SEC East injuries. The SEC East injury bug struck again. South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw left the loss to Tennessee with what was described as a strained left knee, and Vanderbilt quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels jogged to to the locker room in the second quarter but returned on crutches. Kentucky’s Jalen Withlow joined the injured list with an ankle injury earlier this week, and Missouri’s James Franklin missed his first start of the season. Georgia, already having lost No. 2 running back Keith Marshall and top two receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley, didn’t have Todd Gurley for the third consecutive week. And Florida has lost five starters to injury this season. The West wasn’t total immune either as Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri may be out for a significant amount of time with a knee injury.

Heisman Movers

Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M.
Manziel’s place in the Heisman race may be unmoved despite a 45-41 loss to Auburn. Manziel completed 28 of 38 pass for 454 yards with four touchdowns, and for the second consecutive week, he returned from an injury scare to lead a touchdown drive. With 48 rushing yards, Manziel had the fifth game of at least 500 yards in his career. If there is any knock on Manziel, it’s his two interceptions against Auburn.

Bryce Petty, Baylor. Brett Hundley, Tajh Boyd and Teddy Bridgewater all slipped in the Heisman race after this week’s action. Expect Petty to take their place. Petty had another ridiculous stat line in a 71-7 win over Iowa State: He completed 23 of 31 passes for 343 yards and two touchdowns, giving him 14 yards per pass attempt this season.

Marcus Mariota, Oregon. Mariota probably remains the frontrunner, but it's worth noting Mariota had his first turnovers of the season with two fumbles against Washington State. Mariota hadn’t had a turnover since throwing an interception in a loss to Stanford on Nov. 17, 2012. Mariota still finished 23-of-32 for 327 yards with two touchdowns in a 62-38 win over the Cougars.

Stat Watch

Three Teams Who Had to Sweat
Michigan State against Purdue
Oklahoma against Kansas
Pittsburgh against Old Dominion

Three More Ridiculously Good Receivers
Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Marquez North, Tennessee

Three Scary Good Tight Ends
Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
Eric Ebron, North Carolina
Nick O’Leary, Florida State

Interim coach records
Mike Bath, Miami (Ohio) (0-2)
Ed Orgeron, USC (1-1)
T.J. Weist, Connecticut (0-2)

Dang, They’re Good
Alabama
Baylor
Wisconsin

Dang, They’re Bad
Army
Syracuse
Virginia

Best Games Next Week
Texas Tech at Oklahoma
South Carolina at Missouri
Stanford at Oregon State
316. Rushing yards for Jordan Lynch. The Northern Illinois quarterback broke a 23-year-old record with 316 rushing yards in a 38-17 win over Central Michigan. The previous FBS record for rushing yards for a quarterback was held by Northern Illinois’ Stacey Robinson, who rushed for 308 yards against Fresno State in 1990. Somehow, this game was tied at halftime, and NIU led only by a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

115. Plays run by BYU in a 47-46 win over Houston. It was easy to overlook as the ranked SEC teams self-destructed Saturday afternoon, but BYU defeated previously unbeaten Houston in a wild 47-46 game. The Cougars ran 113 plays in a game decided in regulation. Bronco Mendenhall installed an up-tempo offense this season, running at least 90 plays against Virginia, Texas and Utah. BYU quarterback Taysom Hill accounted for 564 yards of total offense himself (421 passing, 143 rushing). Hill, who failed complete 40 percent of his passes in each of the first three games, is 79 of 121 (65.2 percent) in his last four.

751. Total yards for Michigan, a school record. The Wolverines needed every school record they set in a 63-47 win over Indiana. Jeremy Gallon set a Big Ten record with 369 receiving yards, the second-highest total in FBS history. Devin Gardner also set school records with 503 passing yards and 584 yards of total offense.

Buried on the Depth Chart

Connor Halliday’s record. Washington State’s quarterback set a dubious record with 89 pass attempts against Oregon, breaking Drew Brees’ record of 83 passes for Purdue in 1998. In a game settled early the third quarter, Halliday finished 58 of 89 for 557 yards with four touchdowns and four picks.

Joe Southwick’s broken ankle. Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick suffered a broken ankle on his first snap against Nevada. Once backup Grant Hendrick settled in, Boise State was just fine. The junior completed 18 of 21 passes for 150 yards with an interception and gave the Broncos a different dimension at the quarterback position with 115 rushing yards and two touchdowns on eight carries. Boise State will need more of that as Southwick probably won’t return anytime soon.

Kent State’s 2-6 start. The Golden Flashes were on the verge of an automatic BCS bid last year before losing to Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship Game last season. Now Kent State is on the verge of missing a bowl game. Kent State lost 38-21 to South Alabama to start 2-6 in Paul Haynes’ first season. South Alabama, though, is having a nice season for a second-year FBS program. The Panthers, who gave Tennessee fits three weeks ago, are 3-3 with the bulk of the Sun Belt schedule remaining. South Alabama went 2-11 in its first FBS season last year.

Three Surprise Undefeated Teams

Missouri (7-0). Texas A&M proved it would be a factor in the SEC last season, and now it’s Missouri’s turn. The Tigers moved to 3-0 in the SEC East after defeating Florida and Georgia in back-to-back weeks. Granted, the Bulldogs and Gators are beset by injuries, but Missouri knows as well as any team how injuries can derail a season. The Tigers had their own issues in a 5-7 season in 2012, including quarterback James Franklin’s shoulder injury. Franklin is hurt again, but that didn’t stop Missouri from starting 7-0 for the first time since 2010 when the Tigers upset a top-ranked Oklahoma team in Columbia. The reason for the start this season has been defense led by end Michael Sam, who’s had nine sacks the last four games.

Texas Tech (7-0). For a moment, Texas Tech looked like it would finally fall back to earth. About to go up by 17, the Red Raiders fumbled at West Virginia’s 1-yard line. The Mountaineers scored off the turnover and rallied to a 27-16 lead in the third quarter. But freshman Davis Webb, Texas Tech’s second rookie starting quarterback this season, led the way back for a 37-27 win. Webb was 36 of 50 for 462 yards with two touchdowns, and Jace Amaro, a matchup nightmare at 6-5 and 260 pounds, caught nine passes for 136 yards with three touchdowns. Texas Tech faces Oklahoma next week.

Miami (6-0). The moment the ACC has been seeking since expansion has finally happened. Miami and Florida State are both unbeaten and in the top 10 deep in to October. To say Miami deserves more skepticism than Florida State would be an understatement. The Hurricanes endured injuries to Duke Johnson and Phillip Dorsett and four interceptions from Stephen Morris to defeat North Carolina 27-23 on Thursday. The UM defense surrendered 500 yards to a 1-5 North Carolina team, but the bigger issue is turnovers. The Hurricanes have coughed the ball up 12 times in the last three games and have been minus-four in turnover margin during that span.

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Winston leads title-contending FSU team, the SEC flips the script on wild Saturday
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The Heisman is but one award, and one award isn’t enough to contain the best of college football.

While we love prognosticating who will win college football’s most coveted individual trophy, we also love the glut of postseason awards that go to each position, each with a nod to the game’s history from Davey O’Brien and Doak Walker to Bronko Nagurski and Jim Thorpe to Ray Guy and Lou Groza.



Everyone tracks the progress in the Heisman race, but Athlon Sports will try to keep an eye on who will take home college football’s positional awards.



Here’s our look at the “other” trophies through the sixth week of the season.


Davey O’Brien (Top quarterback)
Our leader: Oregon’s Marcus Mariota

Mariota had his Heisman moment in a demolition of the Washington defense last week. Mariota completed a season-high 77.4 percent of his passes and threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns against the Huskies. He has 25 total touchdowns and no turnovers this season
Others: Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Oregon State’s Sean Mannion, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Georgi’a Aaron Murray, Baylor’s Bryce Petty

Doak Walker (Top running back)

Our leader: Washington’s Bishop Sankey
Sankey rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort against Oregon. He leads the nation in 149.8 rushing yards per game.
Others: Western Kentucky’s Antonio Andrews, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk

Biletnikoff (Top wide receiver)

Our leader: Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks
The other end of Sean Mannion’s bid for a Pac-12 passing record, Cooks is tied for the national lead in receptions (63) and leads in receiving yards (944) and touchdown catches (11).

Others: Texas A&M’s Mike Evans, Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews, Colorado’s Paul Richardson, Penn State’s Allen Robinson

Mackey (Top tight end)

Our leader: Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro

Amaro is tied for seventh nationally with 47 receptions this season for 606 yards. He’s a big target, but he only has one touchdown catch this season. Still, no other tight end has more than 28 catches.
Others: North Carolina’s Eric Ebron

Outland (Top interior lineman)

Our leader: Baylor’s Cyril Richardson
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said he’d never seen a team establish the line of scrimmage like Baylor did on the way to scoring 73 points two weeks ago. Richardson is a mauler who could be another high draft pick off the Baylor offensive line.
Others: Oregon’s Hroniss Grasu, Oklahoma’s Gabe Ikard, Michigan’s Taylor Lewan, Georgia Tech’s Shaq Mason, Stanford’s David Yankey

Nagurski/Bednarik (Defensive player of the year)

Our leader: Clemson’s Vic Beasley

Beasley has saved Clemson in a pair of close games this season against Boston College and NC State. With 12 tackles for a loss and nine sacks, Beasley is having the kind of season many envisioned for the defensive end at the other South Carolina school.
Others: UCLA’s Anthony Barr, Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier, Stanford’s Shayne Skov, BYU’s Kyle Van Noy


Lombardi Award (Top lineman or linebacker)

Our leader: Beasley

Others: UCLA’s Vic Beasley, Michigan State’s Shilique Calhoun, Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald, Missouri’s Michael Sam, Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier, BYU’s Kyle Van Noy, USC’s Leonard Williams


Butkus (Top linebacker)

Our leader: UCLA’s Anthony Barr
Barr has recorded 10 tackles for a loss, four sacks and four forced fumbles in four games this season. Up next: A two-game road stretch against Stanford and Oregon.
Others: Wisconsin’s Chris Borland, Stanford’s Trent Murphy, Boston College’s Kevin Pierre-Louis, Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier, Stanford’s Shayne Skov


Thorpe (Top defensive back)

Our leader: Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller

Fuller picked up his second interception of the season against North Carolina two weeks ago and continued to be a lockdown corner in the back end of the Hokies’ defense. Fuller helped hold Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage to 44.8 percent passing and 187 yards last week.
Others: Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard, Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner, TCU’s Jason Verrett



Lou Groza (Top kicker)

Our leader: Oklahoma’s Michael Hunnicutt
The Sooners’ offense hasn’t been overwhelming, but Hunnicutt has been there to pick up field goals, converting 14 of 15 this season. Hunnicutt has made all nine attempts in the last three games.
Others: Texas Tech’s Ryan Bustin, Maryland’s Brad Craddock, NC State’s Niklas Sade



Ray Guy (Top punter)

Our leader: Miami (Ohio)’s Zac Murphy
Murphy leads the nation at 47.7 yards per kick on 7.3 punts per game.

Others: Ole Miss’ Tyler Campbell, Memphis’ Tom Hornsey, Alabama’s Cody Mandell



Freshman of the year

Our leader: Florida State’s Jameis Winston

Winston is making a legitimate bid for the Heisman after leading a 63-0 rout of Maryland two weeks ago. The redshirt freshman set season highs in yards (393) and touchdown passes (five) on 23-of-32 passing against the Terrapins. The season-defining moment may be this week’s matchup with Clemson.
Others: Pittsburgh’s Tyler Boyd, Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III

Coach of the year
Our leader: Missouri’s Gary Pinkel

No one gave Missouri much of a chance this season in the SEC East, but the Tigers upset an injury-ravaged Georgia team to move to 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the league. The Tigers will attempt to navigate the loaded back end of the schedule without quarterback James Franklin for a few weeks.
Others: Baylor’s Art Briles, Northern Illinois’ Rod Carey, Fresno State’s Tim DeRuyter, Tulane’s Curtis Johnson, Washington’s Steve Sarkisian, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, Utah’s Kyle Whittingham



Broyles Award (Top assistant)

Our leader: LSU’s Cam Cameron
Zach Mettenberger didn’t have his best game of the season against Florida, but the LSU quarterback still leads the SEC in pass efficiency and yards per attempt.
Others: Baylor’s Phil Bennett, Utah’s Dennis Erickson, Maryland’s Mike Locksley, Clemson’s Chad Morris, Michigan State’s Pat Narduzzi, Texas’ Greg Robinson, Oklahoma’s Mike Stoops
 

Teaser:
College Football Post-Week 7 Award Watch 2013
Post date: Friday, October 18, 2013 - 07:14
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The Heisman is but one award, and one award isn’t enough to contain the best of college football.

While we love prognosticating who will win college football’s most coveted individual trophy, we also love the glut of postseason awards that go to each position, each with a nod to the game’s history from Davey O’Brien and Doak Walker to Bronko Nagurski and Jim Thorpe to Ray Guy and Lou Groza.



Everyone tracks the progress in the Heisman race, but Athlon Sports will try to keep an eye on who will take home college football’s positional awards.



Here’s our look at the “other” trophies through the sixth week of the season.


Davey O’Brien (Top quarterback)
Our leader: Oregon’s Marcus Mariota

Mariota had his Heisman moment in a demolition of the Washington defense last week. Mariota completed a season-high 77.4 percent of his passes and threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns against the Huskies. He has 25 total touchdowns and no turnovers this season
Others: Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Oregon State’s Sean Mannion, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Georgi’a Aaron Murray, Baylor’s Bryce Petty

Doak Walker (Top running back)

Our leader: Washington’s Bishop Sankey
Sankey rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort against Oregon. He leads the nation in 149.8 rushing yards per game.
Others: Western Kentucky’s Antonio Andrews, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk

Biletnikoff (Top wide receiver)

Our leader: Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks
The other end of Sean Mannion’s bid for a Pac-12 passing record, Cooks is tied for the national lead in receptions (63) and leads in receiving yards (944) and touchdown catches (11).

Others: Texas A&M’s Mike Evans, Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews, Colorado’s Paul Richardson, Penn State’s Allen Robinson

Mackey (Top tight end)

Our leader: Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro

Amaro is tied for seventh nationally with 47 receptions this season for 606 yards. He’s a big target, but he only has one touchdown catch this season. Still, no other tight end has more than 28 catches.
Others: North Carolina’s Eric Ebron

Outland (Top interior lineman)

Our leader: Baylor’s Cyril Richardson
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said he’d never seen a team establish the line of scrimmage like Baylor did on the way to scoring 73 points two weeks ago. Richardson is a mauler who could be another high draft pick off the Baylor offensive line.
Others: Oregon’s Hroniss Grasu, Oklahoma’s Gabe Ikard, Michigan’s Taylor Lewan, Georgia Tech’s Shaq Mason, Stanford’s David Yankey

Nagurski/Bednarik (Defensive player of the year)

Our leader: Clemson’s Vic Beasley

Beasley has saved Clemson in a pair of close games this season against Boston College and NC State. With 12 tackles for a loss and nine sacks, Beasley is having the kind of season many envisioned for the defensive end at the other South Carolina school
Others: UCLA’s Anthony Barr, Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier, Stanford’s Shayne Skov, BYU’s Kyle Van Noy


Lombardi Award (Top lineman or linebacker)

Our leader: Beasley

Others: UCLA’s Vic Beasley, Michigan State’s Shilique Calhoun, Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald, Missouri’s Michael Sam, Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier, BYU’s Kyle Van Noy, USC’s Leonard Williams


Butkus (Top linebacker)

Our leader: UCLA’s Anthony Barr

Barr has recorded 10 tackles for a loss, four sacks and four forced fumbles in four games this season. Up next: A two-game road stretch against Stanford and Oregon.
Others: Wisconsin’s Chris Borland, Stanford’s Trent Murphy, Boston College’s Kevin Pierre-Louis, Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier, Stanford’s Shayne Skov


Thorpe (Top defensive back)

Our leader: Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller

Fuller picked up his second interception of the season against North Carolina two weeks ago and continued to be a lockdown corner in the back end of the Hokies’ defense. Fuller helped hold Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage to 44.8 percent passing and 187 yards last week.
Others: Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard, Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner, TCU’s Jason Verrett



Lou Groza (Top kicker)

Our leader: Oklahoma’s Michael Hunnicutt
The Sooners’ offense hasn’t been overwhelming, but Hunnicutt has been there to pick up field goals, converting 14 of 15 this season. Hunnicutt has made all nine attempts in the last three games.
Others: Texas Tech’s Ryan Bustin, Maryland’s Brad Craddock, NC State’s Niklas Sade



Ray Guy (Top punter)

Our leader: Miami (Ohio)’s Zac Murphy
Murphy leads the nation at 47.7 yards per kick on 7.3 punts per game.

Others: Ole Miss’ Tyler Campbell, Memphis’ Tom Hornsey, Alabama’s Cody Mandell



Freshman of the year

Our leader: Florida State’s Jameis Winston

Winston is making a legitimate bid for the Heisman after leading a 63-0 rout of Maryland two weeks ago. The redshirt freshman set season highs in yards (393) and touchdown passes (five) on 23-of-32 passing against the Terrapins. The season-defining moment may be this week’s matchup with Clemson.
Others: Pittsburgh’s Tyler Boyd, Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III

Coach of the year
Our leader: Missouri’s Gary Pinkel

No one gave Missouri much of a chance this season in the SEC East, but the Tigers upset an injury-ravaged Georgia team to move to 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the league. The Tigers will attempt to navigate the loaded back end of the schedule without quarterback James Franklin for a few weeks.
Others: Baylor’s Art Briles, Northern Illinois’ Rod Carey, Fresno State’s Tim DeRuyter, Tulane’s Curtis Johnson, Washington’s Steve Sarkisian, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, Utah’s Kyle Whittingham



Broyles Award (Top assistant)

Our leader: LSU’s Cam Cameron
Zach Mettenberger didn’t have his best game of the season against Florida, but the LSU quarterback still leads the SEC in pass efficiency and yards per attempt.
Others: Baylor’s Phil Bennett, Utah’s Dennis Erickson, Maryland’s Mike Locksley, Clemson’s Chad Morris, Michigan State’s Pat Narduzzi, Texas’ Greg Robinson, Oklahoma’s Mike Stoops
 

Teaser:
College Football Post-Week 7 Award Watch
Post date: Friday, October 18, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-pac-12-preview
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The two new Los Angeles coaches may be the most interesting offseason storyline for the Pac-12, but don't be surprised if schools outside the Golden State make the most news in the Pac-12.

Thanks a core of juniors and sophomores and the league’s best signing class, Arizona may be the Pac-12’s best Final Four threat since the last time time the Wildcats reached the Elite Eight three years ago.

Elsewhere, a major storyline is the rise of Oregon and Colorado as Pac-12 title contenders. Dana Altman’s hire in Eugene was met with shrugs, but he’s led the Ducks to steady improvement, ending last season with a hard-fought loss to national champion Louisville in the Sweet 16. Tad Boyle, meanwhile, has taken the Buffaloes to an unprecedented three consecutive postseasons.

That’s not to say the Los Angeles schools can be overlooked. Steve Alford takes over at one of basketball’s most storied programs at UCLA. He has a roster that can contend for the league crown.

USC is a bigger challenge for new coach Andy Enfield, who knows a thing or two about doing the impossible by taking Florida Gulf Coast to the Sweet 16.

Pac-12 Predicted Order of Finish

ALL-PAC-12 FIRST TEAM
G Jahii Carson, Arizona State
G Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado
G Jordan Adams, UCLA
G C.J. Wilcox, Washington
F Dwight Powell, Stanford

ALL-PAC-12 SECOND TEAM
G Justin Cobbs, California
G/F Kyle Anderson, UCLA
F Aaron Gordon, Arizona
F Josh Huestis, Stanford
F Mike Moser, Oregon

ALL-PAC-12 THIRD TEAM
G Jabari Bird, California
G Damyeon Dotson, Oregon
G Nick Johnson, Arizona
F Josh Scott, Colorado
F Travis Wear, UCLA
1. ARIZONA (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Elite Eight
Sean Miller lost some key pieces, but the Wildcats always have plenty of firepower. Freshman Aaron Gordon is a stud.

2. UCLA (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 32
Steve Alford has championship talent to work with, a rarity for an incoming coach.

3. COLORADO (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 64
The Buffaloes will try to go 3-for-3 in NCAA Tournament appearances since joining the Pac-12.

4. OREGON (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 64
Dana Altman has once again pieced together a roster that will compete in the Pac-12.

5. ARIZONA STATE (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 64
Jahii Carson and the Sun Devils have the talent to give Herb Sendek a much-needed NCAA bid.

6. CAL
Postseason projection:
NIT
The roster isn’t overflowing with talent, but Mike Montgomery rarely misses the NCAA Tournament.

7. STANFORD
Postseason projection:
NIT
Johnny Dawkins has a veteran lineup that needs to produce. The Cardinal haven’t played in the NCAAs since the Trent Johnson era.

8. OREGON STATE
Postseason projection:
NIT
The Beavers have size, scorers and experience, so why aren’t they more feared?

9. WASHINGTON
Postseason projection:
NIT
Long-range bomber C.J.Wilcox can’t do it alone, but he might have to on a roster that lacks elite talent.

10. USC
New coach Andy Enfield and his model wife were meant for Los Angeles. The Trojans’ talent is far more questionable.

11. WASHINGTON STATE
Ken Bone will be coaching his last season in Pullman unless the Cougars exceed expectations.

12. UTAH
The other Coach K, now in Year 3, will be given lots of latitude to rebuild an undermanned program.

Pac-12 Awards

Player of the Year: Jahii Carson, Arizona State
Carson ranked second in the league at 18.5 points per game last season, adding 5.9 assists per game to the mix. He’s a lightning quick guard who could carry the Sun Devils to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009.

Defensive Player of the Year: Josh Huestis, Stanford
The 6-7 senior may be undersized, but he’s a relentlessly aggressive defender. Huestes averaged 10.5 points and 9.0 rebounds last season.

Most Underrated: Askia Booker, Colorado
Andre Roberson was a draft pick, and Spencer Dinwiddie may follow him this season. But let’s give some credit to Booker, who can heat up as a scorer in a hurry. He averaged 12.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists.

Newcomer of the Year: Aaron Gordon, Arizona (full list of key newcomers in the Pac-12)
The jewel of Arizona’s incoming class and the top recruit Sean Miller has landed with the Wildcats, Gordon could be the piece that helps Arizona reach the Final Four. He’s a versatile forward who could play wing or closer to the basket.

Top coach: Sean Miller, Arizona (top 50 coaches for 2013-14)

Coach on the hot seat: Ken Bone, Washington State (full list of hot seat coaches)

Teaser:
College Basketball: 2013-14 Pac-12 Preview
Post date: Friday, October 18, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/big-12-week-8-preview-and-predictions-2013
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A few questions in the Big 12 were answered last week as Baylor answered the call in its first road test and Texas reentered the conversation for top team in the conference.

This week, Texas Tech is up in the spotlight.

The Red Raiders are 6-0 and 3-0 in the league, but they haven’t garnered the same attention as Baylor, Oklahoma or Texas. There's good reason. The schedule has been light, for certain, and Texas Tech hasn’t left the state other than to face Kansas.

This week, Kliff Kingsbury’s team will take the longest road trip in the Big 12 when Tech visits West Virginia, where the Mountaineers defeated preseason favorite Oklahoma State 30-21 in September. The last time we saw West Virginia, the Mountaineers were drilled by Baylor, but after an off week and at home, West Virginia promises to be a different team.

In other action around the league, Oklahoma State will seek any sign it can remain a league contender against TCU. Meanwhile, the Pokes’ Bedlam rival will try to correct their issues from the Texas game by facing Kansas.

Week 8 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12SEC

Big 12 Week 8 Game Power Rankings
All times Saturday. All times Eastern.


1. Texas Tech at West Virginia (noon, Fox Sports 1)
Among the 3-0 teams in Big 12 play, Texas Tech is the X-factor. The Red Raiders have played the two worst teams in the league (Kansas and Iowa State) and had questionable officiating in its win over a mid-level team (TCU). The Mountaineers aren’t contending for the Big 12 title, but Texas Tech making the long road trip to Morgantown, where West Virginia defeated Oklahoma State, could be telling. West Virginia is averaging 467 yards per game at home compared to 318.7 yards away from Morgantown. Texas Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield returned to practice this week, but it’s not clear if he will be able to start against West Virginia. In his place, freshman Davis Webb passed for 415 yards with three touchdowns and an interception against Iowa State.

2. TCU at Oklahoma State (noon, Fox)
Oklahoma State was off last week as Texas turned around the Big 12 race by defeating Oklahoma. This will be a chance for the Cowboys, the preseason favorite, to show they’re still a contender. The loss to West Virginia on Sept. 28 ago, though, means there’s little margin for error in Stillwater. At fewer than six yards per play, Oklahoma State’s offense hasn’t been as productive as Mike Gundy is used to seeing as the Pokes prepare for a team that leads the Big 12 in interceptions (10) and tackles for a loss (52). TCU needs any sign its luck is turning. TCU is averaging 5.4 points in the first half against FBS teams, a number that needs to turn if the Frogs are going to win a major conference road game.

3. Iowa State at Baylor (7 p.m., ESPNU)
Even in a loss, Kansas State had a typical Kansas State performance against Baylor, controlling the ball and capitalizing on two Baylor mistakes with a turnover and blocked punt. Iowa State must follow that script to have any chance in Waco. The Cyclones offense, however, went dormant last week at Texas Tech, rushing for 143 yards and completing 15 of 39 passes. If there’s any consolation for the Iowa State defense, the Cyclones have allowed five passing plays of 30 yards or more, the fewest in the Big 12.

4. Oklahoma at Kansas (3:30 p.m., ESPN)
Oklahoma played its worst all-around game of the season last week, but the Sooners get the most welcome sight in the Big 12 in these situations — a game against Kansas. Bob Stoops says there aren’t any plans to make a chance at quarterback after Blake Bell’s struggles against the Longhorns, but if another QB makes an appearance against Kansas, it wouldn’t be the first time Stoops this season has been coy about his offense. Any improvement from Bell will be key in Lawrence as Bell struggled with decision-making against the Longhorns and holding onto the ball too long, contributing to four sacks.

Off: Kansas State, Texas

Big 12 Week 8 Pivotal Players


Listen to Athlon Sports writers Braden Gall and David Fox break down the big questions for each conference for the second half of the season in this week's Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast.
Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State
Stewart has one game under his belt after sustaining a concussion against West Virginia, but he had only two receptions against Kansas State. The Cowboys’ top receiver will need to be at his best in his matchup against Thorpe Award contender Jason Verrett, one of the top cover corners in the country. Stewart caught six passes for 120 yards against TCU a year ago.

Brandon Carter, TCU
After Carter caught six touchdown passes and averaged 16.4 yards per catch in 2012, he appeared to be heading for a breakout season as a junior. Instead, he’s regressed. Carter has muffed punts, picked up personal foul penalties and landed in Gary Patterson’s doghouse. If the Horned Frogs are going to compete in the Big 12, Carter must return to form to help a lackluster offense.

Nick Kwiatkoski, West Virginia
The Mountaineers could get one of their top linebackers back in time to face Texas Tech. Kwiatkoski had 29 tackles in the first four games, including 2.5 tackles for a loss. The Mountaineers’ defense looked like one of the most improved units in the conference before facing Baylor two weeks ago. Texas Tech’s foundation on offense in the passing game, but the Red Raiders have proven they can run the ball, especially around the goal line. A healthy inside linebacker Kwiatkoski could put more pressure on a freshman quarterback to make plays on the road.

Jeremiah George, Iowa State
The Cyclones’ top defensive player will be tasked with stopping Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk, who has his eye on starting a new streak of 100-yard rushing games. Seastrunk rushed for 54 yards on 12 carries against Kansas State, and Glasco Martin was marginally more effective (14 carries, 70 yards). Even if Bryce Petty still got his long touchdown passes, the Baylor offense stalled more than it has all season with the run game having its worst day of the year at less than three yards per carry.

Dominique Alexander, Oklahoma
Alexander had 19 tackles against Texas, 10 more than he had in the previous five games combined. The Sooners are looking for a spark among the line and linebackers after defensive tackle Jordan Phillips and linebacker Corey Nelson were lost for the season. The freshman has had the lapses coaches would expect from a rookie, but with the injury situation, he’ll have to grow up quickly.

Big 12 Week 8 Predictions

GamesDavid FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
TCU (+7) at Oklahoma StOSU 35-14OSU 27-21OSU 31-20OSU 27-24
Texas Tech (-6) at West Va.WVU 28-24Tech 31-20WVU 30-27WVU 31-30
Oklahoma (-23) at KansasOU 42-14OU 45-17OU 48-10OU 41-10
Iowa State (+34) at BaylorBaylor 56-17Baylor 45-21Baylor 51-20Baylor 51-23
Last Week2-23-13-13-1
This Season35-736-636-636-6

 

Teaser:
Big 12 Week 8 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
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Russ Smith has a perception problem.

The Louisville guard has the reputation of a player who takes risks, plays recklessly and takes shots without conscience. All of those statements are true. He’s also awfully good. He led the national championship Cardinals in scoring, and his pressure spearheaded one of the best defensive teams in the country.

The “Russdiculous” label coach Rick Pitino gave him two seasons ago was out of love, but also frustration. Last season, the tag came more out of admiration. Still, Louisville’s most dynamic player on both sides of the court garnered only third-team All-America honors.

He’s also the kind of player you’d expect to be hammered by the statheads.

 
This story appears in the 2013-14 Athlon Sports College basketball annual. This year’s edition previews every team in the country and includes everything you need to now to prepare for the upcoming season. The annual is available online and on newsstands near you.

College basketball’s most prominent stathead, though, will have no part of the traditional evaluations. Ken Pomeroy and his numbers saw what the national discussion missed.

Pomeroy, whose tempo-free statistics and advanced analytics have become indispensable to coaching staffs across the country, named Smith his National Player of the Year when most other services picked Michigan’s Trey Burke.

The reason Pomeroy diverged from popular opinion had to do with a word not often thrown around with Russ Smith: Efficiency.

The basics of Pomeroy’s metrics are not complicated: Every possession in a basketball game can either end well (a made shot or free throw) or poorly (a missed shot or a turnover). But the number of possessions in a game is not fixed, based on the tempo of the teams involved. His statistics attempt to evaluate, simply put, the rate of possessions that end up with a positive result.

Smith ranked 22nd nationally in Pomeroy’s offensive rating metric, and just as important, Smith had a usage rate of 32 percent. So what does that mean? Let’s start with usage: Smith was responsible for the way 32 percent of Louisville offensive possessions ended, either in a shot from the field, a free throw or turnover. Only 10 players nationally ranked higher. The offensive rating determined Smith accounted for 109 points for every 100 possessions he ended.

For detractors, Smith can say the statistics know what kind of player he is even if they don’t.

“The numbers say you don’t know what you’re talking about if you’re saying I’m inefficient,” Smith says.

And as for Smith’s reputation, Pomeroy writes on his blog, making rational decisions is perhaps an overrated character trait.

More kindly, the traditional metrics of points per game, rebounds per game and field goal percentage are a nice snapshot, but they’re not entirely accurate.

In the last 5-10 years, college coaching staffs have adapted to this way of thinking. Tempo-free statistics have become one piece in the scouting puzzle for assistants across the country. And outside the film room, increased media exposure has made the tempo-free approach and other advanced metrics mainstream among hardcore basketball fans.

Following the lead of Major League Baseball and the NBA, college basketball has immersed itself in advanced statistics and tempo-free analytics.

“(Tempo) can have a profound effect on the stats that are out there,” says Pomeroy, who began publishing his statistics on the internet in 2004. “Scoring stats per game is profoundly effected by how many possessions you have in a game. The tempo-free approach takes out that factor and compares teams on an even playing field.”

Pomeroy owns some debt to Dean Oliver and his Four Factors, which have become one of the foundations of modern statistical analysis on the basketball court. Oliver, ESPN’s director of production analytics and former director of quantitative analysis for the Denver Nuggets, named four distinct statistics which are now essential to determining efficiency:

1. Effective field goal percentage (which puts added weight on 3-point baskets)
2. Turnover percentage (turnovers per possession)
3. Offensive rebounding percentage (percentage of rebounds claimed by the offense)
4. Free-throw rate

Related: The Keys to Becoming a Smarter Fan

Oliver, a former Division III basketball player at Caltech, began charting statistics for his team in 1989 before venturing into graduate school at North Carolina and conducting advance scouting for the Lakers. Oliver wrote for a handful of analytical publications before landing on they payroll of NBA teams as a consultant and then a full-time employee.

“I don’t think it’s underground anymore,” Oliver said. “Some of the stats are part of coaching lingo, where they weren’t 25 years ago.”

The NBA has been several years ahead of the college game in statistical analysis beyond tempo-free, but the most high-profile coaching hire in the pro ranks had an analytical angle to it when the Boston Celtics hired Butler’s Brad Stevens.

Stevens already was considered one of the top minds in college basketball after leading Butler to back-to-back national championship games, but he also was a full-fledged devotee of advanced analytics from an early stage. Last season, Stevens took things further than Pomeroy’s kenpom.com rankings. The Bulldogs coach hired Drew Cannon, a Duke graduate in statistics and Butler MBA student, to conduct statistical research and scouting. When the Celtics hired Stevens, he brought the 23-year-old Cannon with him.

While Cannon was a high-profile statistics expert on a basketball staff, he wasn’t the first to bring advanced analytics to the bench.

In 2010, Mike Lepore was a singular sight in college basketball. Sitting between players and assistants on the Wake Forest bench, Lepore kept his eyes on his laptop. Then the assistant director of basketball operations under Dino Gaudio, Lepore tracked many of the same things Cannon eventually would as well: plus-minus ratings on specific lineups, success rates on offensive sets, key stats on defense. Lepore brought a printer with him on the road to give Gaudio all the data he needed at halftime. However, Lepore eventually gave up the laptop when he learned having it on the bench could result in a technical foul (Cannon kept notes with pen and paper on Butler’s bench).

“I was probably the only person in the country with a computer on the bench,” says Lepore, who is now the director of basketball operations at Saint Louis. “It was really good, detailed information. That’s great information.”

With live, in-game analysis limited, these statistics are most valuable in scouting and evaluation.

On the way to winning the ACC regular-season and tournament titles, Miami, like most schools, made checking kenpom.com a critical part of its preparation. It was one of the first things assistant Chris Caputo read as he evaluated an opponent.

“We try to get a little bit of their DNA statistically,” Caputo says.

“I don’t think it’s underground anymore. Some of the stats are part of coaching lingo, where they weren’t 25 years ago.”
-Dean Oliver
As in any league, the ACC featured an array of styles of play last season. North Carolina was one of the fastest teams in the country at 71.8 possessions per game. Virginia was one of the slowest at 61.5. Nationally, the amount of possessions per game ranged from 58.7 (Western Illinois) to 75 (Central Arkansas).

With that kind of variance, it’s easy to see why points per possession is a more valuable number to a coach than points per game.

Consider this: Team A likes to get up and down the court and score in transition. Team B prefers a more methodical approach, walking the ball up the court and milking the shot clock.

Points per game says Team A has a better offense, but tempo-free statistics tell us Team B is far more effective at running its offense. (And in fairness, the numbers will tend to say Team B, with fewer possessions in its games and thus fewer points, has the more effective defense. Team B might not.)

And then consider two teams from last season: North Carolina ranked 16th nationally in scoring at 76.7 points per game, and they ranked in the top five in shot attempts and made field goals per game.

But were the Tar Heels any good offensively? Not especially. North Carolina averaged 107 points per 100 possessions, ranking 56th in the country. North Carolina was Team A, a team that ran more plays but wasn’t necessarily efficient. The Tar Heels made only 46.3 percent of their two-point baskets, a figure that ranked 224th nationally, according to teamrankings.com.

On the other hand, Florida averaged 71.4 points per game, a figure that ranked 75th nationally. The Gators, though, ranked seventh in Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive efficiency rating and eighth in points per possession. The reason for the discrepancy: Florida took its time. The Gators averaged 62.9 offensive possessions per game, ranking 311th nationally. But Florida was more efficient, ranking in the top 30 in shooting percentage from both 2-point and 3-point range.

Virginia assistant Ritchie McKay, who became enamored with tempo-free stats while the head coach at New Mexico from 2002-07, now uses the numbers to dispel inaccuracies about the Cavaliers’ offense. Under head coach Tony Bennett, Virginia is one of the most deliberate teams in the country.

The Cavs ranked 11th in the ACC in points per game at 64.2, but take tempo out of the mix, and the Cavaliers don’t look so inept. Virginia ranked sixth in the league at 1.04 points per possession.

“If I told you we average 66 points per game or 63 you’d think, ugh,” McKay says. “But if you look at our numbers and the product we’re putting out on the floor offensively, our percentages, we’re decent in terms of national rank.”

None of this is new. Legendary North Carolina coach Frank McGuire noted points per possession in the 1950s. Dean Smith was also a per-possession analysis adopter.

While tempo-free concepts have been around for decades, what has changed is access.

Pomeroy was a meteorologist (the kind that works for the National Weather Service, not the kind that works on television) when he started running basketball box scores and play-by-play data through computer code, first for sports-ratings.com then his personal site.

By 2005, media mentions in Sports Illustrated and elsewhere brought new eyes to his efficiency numbers. In the subscription-based portion of his site, Pomeroy presents further in-depth game-by-game statistics to the coaches who pay. And pay they do.

“When I first start getting ready for a team, I’m using that to give me a road map or a broad picture of strengths and weaknesses relative to all the other teams in the country,” says Kevin Kuwik, an assistant at Dayton and former video coordinator at Ohio State. “That’s one piece of it. I’m using that to pick out some tendencies on how that team might play.”

Kuwik will watch film on opponents’ recent games like any scout. But through kenpom.com, he’s looking at statistics for tempo, indicating how much of a factor transition defense might be. Or he’ll look at assist-to-field goal rate, which may indicate whether a team likes to go one-on-one or prefers to pass. Pomeroy’s statistics also may indicate games in which the opponent struggle in offensive or defensive efficiency earlier in the season.

Then it’s on to the video where Kuwik, like many scouts, turns to Synergy Sports. A video service with archives of college and NBA games, Synergy allows scouts to break down film by player or by situation to isolate habits or tendencies.

Over the course of the season and into the NCAA Tournament, those little edges can make a big difference.

Related: How to use Advanced Stats like an expert

Iowa State has been one of college basketball’s best overachievers in the last two seasons, which have included two NCAA Tournament appearances and two top-four finishes in the Big 12 standings. A major reason is fourth-year coach Fred Hoiberg, who is well-versed in advanced analytics due to his time as Vice President of Basketball Operations with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Hoiberg’s main focus has been shot selection on both sides of the floor. Naturally, it makes sense to attempt high-percentage shots while forcing an opponent to take low-percentage shots, but Hoiberg and his staff throw some statistical weight behind it. The most valuable shots in basketball are around the rim and 3-point shots. The least valuable is a mid-range 2-pointer — it’s a tough 2-pointer to make and it lacks the reward of a 3-pointer to make it worthwhile.

While NBA teams are installing cameras in arenas in order to analyze the data of how efficient individual players are from certain areas from the court, Hoiberg is adapting the same concepts, albeit at a lower budget.

“We chart what the highest true percentage shot is,” Hoiberg says. “In the NBA it’s the corner three. You want to create as many corner threes as possible because that’s the shortest 3-point shot on the floor. In college it’s not the corner three, but if you can get an uncontested catch-and-shoot three or a shot at the rim, you know you’re accomplishing what your offense is supposed to get you.”

Still, there’s a human element. Hoiberg is reluctant to declare certain areas of the floor off-limits, but charting shots helps him tailor practices and workouts.

“Some guys go strictly by the stats,” Hoiberg says. “If you shoot a low-percentage in the mid-range, they just flat out say you can’t shoot that shot. I don’t go that far with it because I don’t want to take a player’s confidence away.”

Coaches also use advanced stats to play on another human trait: Motivation.

Once Caputo assembles his own data and scouting report for Miami coach Jim Larranaga, he’ll condense a few key points for the players.

“There’s nothing stronger than showing them not only that number, but where that number ranks in the country,” Caputo says. “That’s key. When you can say they’re No. 3 in offensive rebounding percentage, you’re not just telling them they’re a great offensive rebounding team, you’re telling them that they’re one of the best in the country, which means hopefully your guys will be more aware that the emphasis needs to be on blocking out or whatever your game plan is.”

The integrated approach has been perhaps one of the reasons basketball — both pro and college — hasn’t had the protracted battle between stats and scouts as Major League Baseball did during the Moneyball era.

Not only has advanced analysis been in use in MLB and the NBA for several years, in college there’s not a rift between the people doing the scouting and the people emphasizing statistics. It’s more a product of function than culture.

“First and foremost, the assistants are the ones who have to do the deep dive and call out every significant little nugget,” Kuwik says. ”As it’s become more prevalent, the assistants were the ones who used it the most. You have some younger head coaches who are a little more aligned to when that started happening in the last couple of years. You’re going to see more and more head coaches be attuned to it.”

That’s the certainly the case for Kuwik and other Ohio State colleagues. Thad Matta’s staffs are an example: Stevens worked under Matta at Butler. Kuwik’s boss at Dayton, Archie Miller, coached under Matta at Ohio State. Illinois’ John Groce, another former Ohio State assistant, is a believer. So is the new Butler coach, Brandon Miller, who worked for both Stevens and Matta over the years.

The use of statistics has spread so much that Pomeroy left his day job to concentrate on analysis full-time.

One the one hand he has his subscription-based site, but he’s also consulted for a handful of college teams including Iowa State and Baylor, plus the Houston Rockets.

“Three or four years ago, it became mainstream enough to see it on graphics in an ESPN broadcast where they don’t have to explain those numbers and exactly what they mean,” Pomeroy says. “That’s when the corner got turned.”

The emphasis is there and it’s spreading. But the prospect of Drew Cannons at every school is a long way off.

“In college you don’t have a front office,” Hoiberg says. “It’s the coaching staff. That’s a pretty big difference.”

The budget to hire a statistical expert on the staff may be the least of the barriers to advanced stats in college basketball. Data collection and play-by-play and shot-tracking data, especially for mid- to low-major programs is not as consistent as that in the NBA. The sample size of 82 games each year in the NBA versus 30 or so games in college gives the pro ranks a reliable sample size.

Another Drew Cannon may be the most accessible part of the equation.

“You’re going to see more and more schools doing it — I’m positive you are,” Oliver says. “Frankly, students are not very expensive. You have colleges with computer science departments, stat departments, math departments, kids who love basketball and they want to contribute.”

For now, knowledge of the numbers and analytics is a skill for a coach, not all that different from drawing up a play or recruiting.

“You can find that one advantage that’s going to help you to win close games you wouldn’t win otherwise,” Hoiberg says. “Is it the ultimate factor? No. But it certainly is a piece of the puzzle when you’re putting everything together.”

Teaser:
Advanced stats become integral part of basketball scouting, evaluation
Post date: Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
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Body:
 
This story appears in the 2013-14 Athlon Sports College basketball annual. This year’s edition previews every team in the country and includes everything you need to now to prepare for the upcoming season. The annual is available online and on newsstands near you.

Some stats lie. Just as on-base percentage, OPS and WAR have become chic among baseball fans, basketball fans have a chance to impress their friends with statistics. Here’s a quick guide:

Replace points per game with...
Points per possession (a.k.a. offensive and defensive efficiency).
Different teams have different styles of play. A faster offense will yield more possessions on both sides of the court, a more deliberate offense will yield fewer possessions. Points per game does not accurately reflect how effectively a team plays offense or defense. A possession ends on a made field goal attempt, a missed shot rebounded by the defense, free throws or a turnover, thus points per possession more accurately measures how often a team gets a favorable result when it runs its offense. The median college team scored 1.01 points per possession last season (or 101 points per 100 possession, as it is sometimes noted).

Related: Tempo-free stats make their way out of the underground

Replace rebound margin with...
Offensive and defensive rebounds and rebound percentages.
“One of the interesting things we found when we people started doing analytics on basketball is that on a team level, offensive rebounding and defensive rebounding are really a separate skills and they’re not really related,” Ken Pomeroy says. Minnesota, for example, led the Big Ten in offensive rebounds, but was 10th in defensive rebounds last season. Team rebound margin combines the two, creating a misleading stat. The more accurate stat separates the two and determines the rates at which the defense or offense claims a missed shot. Team A’s offensive rebound percentage equals Team A’s offensive rebounds divided by (Team A offensive rebounds plus Team B defensive rebounds). The same principle applies to defensive rebounding percentages, or the rate of available missed shots rebounded by the defense.

Replace field goal percentage with...
Two-point percentage and three-point percentage or effective field goal percentage.
A similar concept to the rebounding rule above. Three-point shooting rate is often used as a stand-alone statistic in college basketball, but the poor 2-pointer doesn’t get the same luxury. Shooting at a lower percentage, but making more threes isn’t necessarily inefficient. “If you’re a guy or a team that takes a lot 3-pointers, your field goal percentage is not going to look as good as it should,” Pomeroy says. “But if you’re making those shots, you’re making three points, obviously.” Effective field goal percentage gives the added weight to a 3-pointer, as it is worth 50 percent more. The formula is: (0.5 x made 3-pointers + total made field goals) divided by total field goals attempted.

Teaser:
Tempo-Free and Advanced College Basketball Stats: A Guide
Post date: Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-football/who-votes-college-football-harris-poll
Body:

Only in college football does an NFL general manager, a Heisman winner, a handful of retired sportswriters, disgraced athletic directors and United States Olympic Committee and PGA staffers have a voice in the postseason pairings.

With all the handwringing about the new College Football Playoff selection committee, fans may forget there’s one more year of the BCS picking the teams that will play for the national championship and eligible for major bowl games.

The first Harris Interactive top 25 was released Sunday, bringing the sport one step closer to the first BCS standings of the season. The voting results from the 105-member Harris panel have the same weight as the coaches’ poll or the average of the six computers, but few are familiar with the voters.

Part of the BCS since 2005 when the Associated Press pulled its rankings out of the formula, the Harris poll is comprised of 105 current and former media members and former college players, coaches and administrators. Originally, each of the then-11 FBS conference submitted a pool of potential voters to Harris Interactive, who then randomly selected 10 voters from each. The independents received three voters from their submitted candidates.

The number has fluctuated over the years, and with the disintegration of the WAC, the 2013 panel is the smallest at 105 voters. Since last season, 22 voters left the poll, replaced by 13 new voters for 2013.

Harris Interactive releases the names of each voter on the panel a week before the first top 25, and the organization will release all 105 final ballots after the BCS standings are released in December. However, Harris has never released any biographical information about panelists, their connection to college football or which conference “nominated” the voters in the first place.

We have collected and confirmed the biographical information here.

Among the new voters are two former athletic directors who lost their jobs under less than ideal circumstances. Keith Tribble resigned from UCF in 2011 amid an NCAA investigation into recruiting practices in the schools football and men’s basketball programs. He is under an NCAA show cause penalty.

Damon Evans resigned from Georgia after he was arrested on charges of driving under the influence. His situation worsened when it was revealed he was in the car with a woman who was not his wife and he attempted to use his position to garner favor with authorities. Evans now works with IMG College assisting schools with fundraising.

Also among the new voters is recently retired Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips. Phillips’ inclusion gives the Tigers a visible presence among the 105 ballots with former Clemson coach Tommy Bowden also voting in the poll.

Perhaps the most intriguing voter in the panel is not a new addition, but his new job description is worth a mention. John Dorsey was hired this season as the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs. Dorsey, a former player at Connecticut, joined the panel when he was the director of college scouting for the Green Bay Packers.

The breakdown of voters includes:

32 former players. This includes 1958 Heisman Trophy winner Pete Dawkins.

30 former administrators. Among them is former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer, who is considered one of the founders of the BCS.

28 current and former media members, not including the former players and coaches who entered broadcasting careers after retirement. Some of the media members include members of school’s official broadcasting teams, such as Rutgers’ Chris Carlin, Baylor’s J.J. Joe, Navy’s Pete Medhurst and Notre Dame’s Allen Pinkett.

11 former coaches. Notable former coaches include Tommy Bowden (Clemson), Rich Brooks (Oregon, Kentucky), Lloyd Carr (Michigan), Joe Novak (Northern Illinois) and Jackie Sherrill (Pittsburgh, Texas A&M and Mississippi State).

4 in the “other category.” This includes Bob Condron (a former director of media services for the United States Olympic Committee for 28 years), Tim Millis (the former executive director of the NFL Referees Association and former Big 12 supervisor of officials) and Jack White (a former player for Bear Bryant at Alabama who works with the PGA).

Here is every voter in the 2013 Harris poll and their desciption:

VoterDescription
*Denny AldridgeTexas player 1966-68
Bob AndersonArmy player 1956-60
James BatesFlorida player 1993-96, Fox Sports South broadcaster
Sammy BattenReporter, The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer
*Joe BiddleFormer columnist, The Nashville Tennessean
*Blaine BishopBall State player 1990-92, Radio host, WGFX in Nashville
Tommy BowdenTulane coach 1997-98, Clemson coach 1999-2008
Dave BraineGeorgia Tech AD 1997-2006, Virginia Tech AD 1988-97, Marshall AD 1985-87
Gil BrandtNFL.com analyst, Former Cowboys director of player personnel
Rich BrooksOregon coach 1977-94, Kentucky coach 2003-09
Chip BrownReporter, Orangebloods.com
Grant BurgetOklahoma player 1970-74
Chris CarlinOklahoma player 1970-74
Lloyd CarrMichigan coach 1995-2007
*Charlie CavagnaroUNLV AD 1995-2001, Memphis AD 1982-95
Pete CavenderBoise State player 2003-07, radio analyst BSU Sports Radio Network
Angelique ChengelisReporter, The Detroit News
Tony CollinsEast Carolina player 1977-80
Bob CondronUSOC dir. of media services 1984-2012, former SID at Texas Tech and SMU
Gene CorriganNotre Dame AD 1981-87, Virginia AD 1971-80, ACC commissioner 1987-97
Dick CrumNorth Carolina coach 1978-87, Kent State coach 1988-90
Fran CurciMiami coach 1971-72, Kentucky coach 1973-81
*Pete Dawkins1958 Heisman winner at Army
Gene DeFilippoVillanova AD 1997-97, Boston College AD 1998-2010
Mark DienhartMinnesota AD 1995-2000
John DorseyKansas City Chiefs general manager, Connecticut player 1980-83
Herb DromediCentral Michigan coach 1978-93
Bob DunlevyWest Virginia player 1963-65
Chuck EaleyToledo player 1969-71
Jack EblingRadio host WVFN in Lansing, Mich.
Damon EvansGeorgia AD 2003-10
Rondo FehlbergBYU AD 1995-99
Robert GagliardiReporter, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
Richard GianniniSouthern Miss AD 1999-2011
Bob GoinCincinnati AD 1997-2005, Florida State AD 1990-94
Joe GottfriedSouth Alabama AD 1984-2009
Doug GraberRutgers coach 1990-95
*Bob GrimOregon State player 1964-66
Lee GrosscupUtah player 1957-58
Mark HermannPurdue player 1977-80
*Tommy HicksColumnist, Mobile (Ala.) Press-Register
Ron HigginsColumnist, New Orleans Times-Picayune
Mike HogewoodBroadcaster, ACC Digital Network
David HorningN.C. State administrator 1984-2010
*David HouselAuburn AD 1990-2004
Todd HusakStanford player 1996-99
J.J. JoeBaylor player 1990-93; Radio analyst, Baylor
Scott JohnsonFresno State AD 2001-05
Adam JudeReporter, Seattle Times
*Blair KerkhoffReporter, The Kansas City Star
*Mike KernReporter, The Philadelphia Daily News
Shaun KingTulane player 1995-98
*Roy KramerSEC Commissioner 1990-2002
Nate KreckmanRadio host, KXDP in Denver
*Bobby LeachSMU player 1981-84
Jeff LoganOhio State player 1974-77
*Mike LudeAuburn AD 1992-93, Washington AD 1975-91
*Tom LuicciReporter, Newark (N.J.) Star Ledger
Kelly LyellReporter, Fort Collins (Colo.) Coloradoan
John MalloryWest Virginia player 1965-67
Bob MarcumKansas AD 1978-82, South Carolina AD 1982-88, Marshall AD 2002-09
Derrick MayesNotre Dame player 1992-95
*Mike McGeeDuke coach 1971-78, Cincinnati AD 1979-84, USC AD 1984-93
Pete MedhurstRadio reporter and host, Navy Radio Network
Tim MillisFormer NFL Referees Association exec. director, former Big 12 supervisor of officials
Eric MizellTroy player 1990-91
*Craig MortonCal player 1962-64
Joe NovakNorthern Illinois coach 1996-2007
Jim OakesLouisiana Tech AD 1994-2008
Denny O'BrienReporter on East Carolina for Bonesville.net
Steve OrsiniUCF AD 2002-06, SMU AD 2006-12
David PaschallReporter, Chattanooga (Tenn.) Free-Press
Terry Don PhillipsClemson AD, 2003-13, Oklahoma State AD 1995-2002
Allen PinkettNotre Dame player 1982-85; Radio analyst, Notre Dame
Doug PlankOhio State player 1972-74
*Steve PreeceOregon State player 1966-68
Michael ReghiFormer host, WKNR in Cleveland, Ohio
*Pat RichterWisconsin AD 1989-2004
*Kenny RodaFormer host WKNR 850 in Cleveland, Ohio
Gary SandersFormer radio broadcaster, UAB
*Terry R. SchmidtBall State player 1971-73
Jackie SherrillPitt coach 1977-81, Texas A&M coach 1982-88, Mississippi St coach 1991-2003
Corky SimpsonFormer columnist, The Tucson (Ariz.) Citizen
Riley SkinnerWake Forest player 2006-09
Joe SmigielArizona player 1992-94
Adam SparksReporter, The Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Daily News Journal
Fred StableyFormer Central Michigan sports information director
Don StrockFlorida International coach 2002-06
David TeelReporter, Newport News (Va.) Daily Press
Mel ThomasFormer TCU administrator and assistant coach
Darrell ThompsonMinnesota player 1986-89
Keith TribbleUCF AD 2006-11
Charlie TrotmanAuburn player 1977-79
*Max UrickIowa State AD 1983-93, Kansas State AD 1993-2001
*Roger ValdiserriFormer Notre Dame sports information director
Jeff Van NoteKentucky player 1966-68
Tommy VardellStanford player 1988-91
Jim VrugginkFormer Purdue sports information director
Jim WaldenIowa State coach 1987-94, Washington State coach 1978-86
Jay WalkerRadio host, KPEL in Lafayette, La.
John WaltersWriter, MediumHappy.com
Jack WhiteAlabama player 1971, former director for PGA Tour's Shotlink
Dwayne WoodruffLouisville player 1976-78
Rick WrightReporter, Albuquerque (N.M.) Journal
*Hugh YoshidaHawaii AD 1992-2002
 Bold indicates new voters for 2013
 * indicates voters who have participated in every Harris poll since 2005

 

Teaser:
Ex-Michigan coach Lloyd Carr is one of the 105 Harris voters
Post date: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-big-ten-preview
Body:

Derided for its low-scoring games and slow pace of play, Big Ten basketball enjoyed a long-awaited return to must-see college basketball TV last season.

While the sport as a whole fell into a scoring slump, two of the best offensive teams in the nation resided in the Big Ten in conference champion Indiana and national runner-up Michigan. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers, Ohio State and Michigan State all ended up in the top 10 of the RPI.

The follow-up to 2012-13 might not be as exciting as last season when every week brought a game of national importance, but there’s still a lot to like about the Big Ten. Indiana lost its top two players to the NBA Draft, but Michigan and Michigan State bring back key players who could have declared to the NBA Draft. Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III are back for the Wolverines after starring during the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State loses another star player (Deshaun Thomas) and hopes another scorer (Laquinton Ross) will take his place.

Will the Big Ten have the depth it did last season? Well, that’s up to teams like Iowa, Purdue and Illinois.

Big Ten predicted order of finish

All-Big Ten First Team
G Aaron Craft, Ohio State
G Gary Harris, Michigan State
F LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State
F Mitch McGary, Michigan
C Adreian Payne, Michigan State

All-Big Ten Second Team
G Yogi Ferrell, Indiana
G Tim Frazier, Penn State
F Sam Dekker, Wisconsin
F Glenn Robinson III, Michigan
F Aaron White, Iowa

All-Big Ten Third Team
G Andre Hollins, Minnesota
G Noah Vonleh, Indiana
G Branden Dawson, Michigan State
G/F Drew Crawford, Northwestern
C A.J. Hammons, Purdue
1. MICHIGAN STATE (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Final Four
Gary Harris and Adreian Payne bypassed the NBA Draft to win the Big Ten title — and perhaps another title in April.

2. OHIO STATE (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Sweet 16
The Buckeyes will replace Deshaun Thomas with a deeper bench and a more balanced attack. They always defend.

3. MICHIGAN (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Sweet 16
The Wolverines made a great NCAA run, but they lost two great guards — Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.

4. WISCONSIN (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 32
The Badgers have finished no worse than tied for fourth for 12 straight seasons. Sam Dekker and Ben Brust will keep the streak alive.

5. INDIANA (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 32
Replacing four 1,000-point scorers won’t be easy, but Tom Crean has a veteran point guard (Yogi Ferrell) and a dazzling group of freshmen.

6. IOWA (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 64
This is the year the Hawkeyes return to the NCAA Tournament — and with five starters back they’re a threat to make a nice run.

7. PURDUE (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA round of 64
If A.J. Hammons reaches his potential as the league’s best big man, the Boilermakers will be much improved.

8. ILLINOIS
Postseason projection: NIT

John Groce is upgrading the talent and competing for better recruits, but the Illini are a year away from returning to the first division.

9. MINNESOTA
Postseason projection:
NIT
The Big Ten can be an unforgiving place for a rookie coach (Richard Pitino) at a program that lost its only two rebounders.

10. PENN STATE
Looking for a sleeper? Here is your team. With a healthy Tim Frazier and solid D.J. Newbill, the Nittany Lions have a top backcourt.

11. NORTHWESTERN  
A healthy Drew Crawford will help Chris Collins establish his system, but the Wildcats lost 11 of their last 12 games.

12. NEBRASKA (bonus team preview)
The new Pinnacle Bank Arena should help Tim Miles build momentum but he still needs more talent.

Big Ten Awards

Player of the Year: Gary Harris, Michigan State
Harris could be an NBA lottery pick when he elects to leave for the Draft, but for now he’ll try to lead Michigan State back to the Final Four. The Big Ten freshman of the year will aim to be a more formidable threat around the basket after shooting 41.1 percent from 3-point range last season.

Best Defensive Player: Aaron Craft, Ohio State
Craft has been one of the nation’s best on-ball defenders since his freshman year. He’s already the nation’s top floor general. Now, his offensive game is gaining more consistency.

Most Underrated Player: Aaron White, Iowa
White’s numbers in Big Ten play went up as the junior forward averaged 13.6 points and 5.9 rebounds in conference games. He’ll look to average a double-double per game in a breakout season for the Hawkeyes.

Newcomer of the Year: Noah Vonleh, Indiana (full list of key newcomers around the Big Ten)
Vonleh steps into the shoes of big man Cody Zeller, and he may be up to the task sometime down the line. Unlike Zeller, Vonleh is only 6-foot-9, but he is an athlete forward 7-4 wingspan.

Top coach: Tom Izzo (full rankings of Big Ten coaches)

Teaser:
Payne, Spartans aim to make the Big Ten appointment viewing again
Post date: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-week-8
Body:

It's Midseason Madness on this week's podcast. Our hosts tackle big second-half questions for the SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC before offering up picks for the midseason coach of the year. Here are the key storylines Braden Gall and David Fox tackled for each conference:

• ACC: Who blinks first, Florida State and Clemson? The Seminoles have the freshman quarterback, but the Tigers have needed to be bailed out by the defense recently. And why should or shouldn’t Miami have a bandwagon for the Coastal.

• Big 12: Yep, we’re arguing who has a better chance to go undefeated in the Big 12. One team is Texas. One is Baylor.

• Big Ten: The Legends Division round robin is a madhouse between wildly flawed teams. Is it fascinating or just ugly?

• Pac-12: Can UCLA do what Washington failed to do? The Bruins schedule is brutal down the stretch.

• SEC: Where to start in the East? South Carolina has emerged more and more as the injury bug has decimated the division. And does anyone stand to challenge Alabama in the West?

• And finally, Braden and David go through their coach of the year picks for Art Briles, Gary Pinkel and Curtis Johnson.

The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com, iTunes and our podcast RSS feed.

Please send any comments, questions and podcast topics to @AthlonSports, @BradenGall and @DavidFox615 on Twitter.

Teaser:
Rounding up questions for the second half of the season
Post date: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 14:15
Path: /college-football/big-12-2013-second-half-predictions-and-midseason-review
Body:

The Big 12 entered the midpoint for 2013 the same way it ended 2012 — without a top 10 team. The last time a Big 12 team was in the top 10 was Dec. 2 when Kansas State was seventh in the Big 12 poll.

Oklahoma had its chance to move into the top 10, starting last week at No. 12 before a surprising loss to Texas.

In many ways, the Big 12 season is playing out the way Athlon Sports envisioned the race in the preseason — four or five imperfect teams bunched up near the top. Two conference losses may be enough to win a bid to the Fiesta Bowl.

But there’s also the unexpected: Baylor so far has the Big 12’s most complete team. Yes, the offense is on record-breaking pace, but the defense has been among the league’s best. A light schedule with only one road game, though, is enough reason to keep the Baylor national championship bandwagon empty at this point.

Beyond Baylor, Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury has delivered on the optimism surrounding his homecoming to Lubbock by leading the Red Raiders to a 6-0 start. And even mighty Texas can be a success story as a 3-0 start in the league looked unattainable in the first three weeks of the season.

Midseason Awards and Second-Half Predictions: ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 SEC

2013 Big 12 Midseason Review and Second Half Predictions

Coach of the Year: Art Briles, Baylor
The Bears won’t keep up the 70 points per game pace they had earlier this season, but Briles has Baylor in position for its first conference title since 1980. Hard to believe that Baylor has just become more productive after losing Robert Griffin III and then the school’s single-season passing leader in the last two seasons. Briles is the nation’s top offensive coach, but the Bears have a strong team in the trenches and the 12th-ranked defense in yards per play.

Newcomer of the Year: Texas Tech quarterbacks
Kliff Kingsbury has a knack for coaching freshman quarterbacks. After working with Johnny Manziel last season, Kingsbury needed to rookie quarterbacks to step in for an injured Michael Brewer. As a duo, redshirt freshman walk on Baker Mayfield and true freshman Davis Webb are second in the nation in passing at 2,453 yards.

Offensive Player of the Year: Bryce Petty, Baylor
With Baylor’s run game bottled up in the Bears’ toughest game of the season, Petty rose to the occasion by leading Baylor to two fourth quarter scoring drives against Kansas State. Petty has attempted only four passes in the red zone this season (4 for 4), but the entire field is Petty’s red zone. He has seven touchdown passes from inside his own 40 yard line.

Defensive Player of the Year: Jason Verrett, TCU
Verrett doesn’t have a ton of eye-popping statistics, but he’s the top lockdown cornerback in the Big 12. In the loss to Texas Tech, Verrett kept Red Raiders receiver Eric Ward from catching a pass. Verrett has 2.5 tackles for a loss and 10 pass break ups this season.

Midseason Disappointment: Oklahoma State’s run game
The Cowboys caught Mississippi State off guard in the opener by replacing starting quarterback Clint Chelf with J.W. Walsh and running out of the diamond formation. Otherwise, the Cowboys have been unimpressive in the run game, averaging 3.2 yards per carry since then. Oklahoma State’s 144.8 rushing yards per game would be its lowest average since 2001.

Midseason Surprise: Greg Robinson
Robinson wasn’t on anyone’s radar back in early September. The former Syracuse coach and Michigan defensive coordinator was breaking down film for Mack Brown. But then BYU rushed for 550 yards against the Longhorns. Texas replaced one-time defensive hotshot Manny Diaz with a retread who had struggled everywhere he’d been since he left Texas the first time. Robinson’s defense though held Oklahoma to 263 yards last week. The Longhorns have held Big 12 opponents to 3.7 yards per carry in the 3-0 start in the league.

Three things to watch in the second half:

Baylor’s championship bid
Baylor is 33 years removed from its last conference championship in the Southwest Conference. With Texas’ defensive woes and Oklahoma’s lackluster offense, this would seem to be the perfect season to take advantage. That, and Baylor’s offense is really, really good. The meat of Baylor’s schedule isn’t until November when the Bears face Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas in succession in November.

Is Texas for real?
The Longhorns sure looked the part of a Big 12 title contender in dismantling Oklahoma on Saturday, but Texas fans have to wonder if the Mr. Hyde from the BYU and Ole Miss games will return down the stretch. Daje Johnson hasn’t lost a step since returning from injury, and Case McCoy is growing into his role as starting quarterback. The next question is if this is indeed Mack Brown’s final question if he’ll leave Texas with a Big 12 championship trophy. The Longhorns have already ended futility against the Sooners and Kansas State.

Oklahoma’s quarterback situation
Blake Bell was dreadful against Texas, completing 12 of 26 passes for 133 yards with two interceptions. Bell lost the starting quarterback job in the preseason, and it’s a legitimate question if he could lose it again. Texas proved that by ganging up on the run game Bell couldn’t win with the passing game.

Top five games in the second half

Oct. 26 Texas Tech at Oklahoma
The Red Raiders have built their undefeated start against opponents that have gone a combined 6-11, including the bottom two teams in the Big 12 (Iowa State and Kansas). Even against a wounded OU team, Texas Tech could prove its legitimacy in the Big 12 race in Norman.

Nov. 7 Oklahoma at Baylor
The shine on this Thursday night game has dulled a bit after Oklahoma lost to Texas. The Sooners may need to win this game to get back into the Big 12 race.

Nov. 23 Baylor at Oklahoma State
In Baylor’s first road trip, the Bears played a tight game for the first time this season. This game against the preseason Big 12 favorites will be the toughest road test this year.

Dec. 7 Texas at Baylor
What will the Bears have left for their final game after going through the gauntlet in November? This could be a de facto Big 12 championship game...

Dec. 7 Oklahoma at Oklahoma State
...Or the Bedlam Game could decide the conference. The Cowboys were the preseason favorite and OU looked the part of a Big 12 frontrunner just a week ago. There’s plenty of time for this to become the key game again in the Big 12 race.

Big 12 2013 Second-Half Predictions

(Logos are of projected winner for each game)

1. Baylor

ISU at KansasOUTTUat OK Stateat TCUTexasFinal Record
 11-1


2. Texas

at TCUKansasat WVUOK StateTTUat BaylorFinal Record
8-4


3. Oklahoma State

TCUat ISUat TTUKansasat TXBaylorOUFinal Record
9-3


4. Oklahoma

at KansasTTUat BaylorISUat K-Stateat OK StateFinal Record
9-3


5. Texas Tech

at WVUat OUOK StateK-StateBaylorat TXFinal Record
8-4


6. Kansas State

WVUISUat TTUTCUOUat KansasFinal Record
6-6


7. TCU

at OK StateTXWVUat ISUat K-StateBaylorFinal Record
6-6


8. West Virginia

TTUat K-Stateat TCUTexasat KansasIowa StateFinal Record
6-6


9. Iowa State

at BaylorOSUat K-StateTCUat OUKansasat WVUFinal Record
2-10

 

10. Kansas

OklahomaBaylorat Texasat OSUWVUat ISUK-StateFinal Record
2-10

 

Teaser:
Big 12 2013 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Post date: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-sec-preview
Body:

As the SEC rules college football, the question remains: What happened to this league as a basketball conference?

The SEC produced at least five NCAA Tournament teams every season from 1997-2008, but the league matched that only once since then. The expanded SEC produced only three NCAA Tournament teams last season, and Ole Miss needed to win the league tournament to erase any doubt.

Just about anywhere besides Lexington and Gainesville has a basketball program that’s seen better days. Florida, a two-time national champion when the SEC was in a position of strength, has reached the NCAA regional final the last three seasons.

And despite a loss in the NIT, Kentucky fans have been optimistic for 2013-14 since it became clear last season just wasn’t working out.

Kentucky landed the top recruiting class in history with six of the top 15 players who are already being loaded up with national championship expectations.

For the sake of SEC perception, it couldn’t hurt if Kentucky delivers on those projections.

SEC Predicted order of finish

All-SEC First Team
G Andrew Harrison, Kentucky
G Jordan McRae, Tennessee
F Johnny O’Bryant, LSU
F Julius Randle, Kentucky
C Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky

All-SEC Second Team
G Scottie Wilbekin, Florida
G Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss
G Trevor Releford, Alabama
F Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee
C Patric Young, Florida

All-SEC Third Team
G Jordan Clarkson, Missouri
G Michael Frazier, Florida
G Aaron Harrison, Kentucky
F Dorian Finney-Smith, Florida
F Jeronne Maymon, Tennessee
1. KENTUCKY (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA champion
Arguably the best recruiting class in history will have the Cats in the national title hunt.

2. FLORIDA (team preview)
Postseason projection: NCAA Elite Eight
Transfers Dorian Finney-Smith (Virginia Tech) and Damontre Harris (South Carolina) bolster the Gators’ roster.

3. TENNESSEE (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA round of 32
Vols will need a big contribution from transfer Antonio Barton and a healthy season from Jeronne Maymon.

4. LSU (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA round of 64
An influx of high-level talent will join Johnny O’Bryant on what should be one of the league’s most-improved teams.

5. MISSOURI (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA round of 64
Tulsa transfer Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown will key the Tigers’ perimeter attack.

6. ALABAMA
Postseason projection:
NIT
With one NCAA invite in four years, pressure is starting to mount on Anthony Grant.

7. ARKANSAS
Postseason projection:
NIT
Hogs lost their two best players (B.J. Young and Marshawn Powell) but the roster still stocked with talent.

8. OLE MISS
Postseason projection:
NIT
Key losses in the frontcourt will be tough to overcome — even if Marshall Henderson behaves.

9. TEXAS A&M
Postseason projection:
NIT
Aggies will be balanced, but replacing Elston Turner’s scoring will be a huge issue.

10. SOUTH CAROLINA
Frank Martin continues his slow rebuild in Columbia. The Gamecocks will be painfully young in ’13-14.

11. GEORGIA
Losing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was a crushing blow to the Georgia program.

12. VANDERBILT
Brutal offseason saw the Dores lose two starters (Kedren Johnson and Kevin Bright) and a key reserve (Sheldon Jeter).

13. MISSISSIPPI STATE
Rick Ray is recruiting the Bulldogs out of the abyss, but it will take some time.

14. AUBURN
Tony Barbee’s tenure at Auburn has not gone well. Too much roster turnover and not enough talent.

SEC Awards

Player of the Year: Julius Randle, Kentucky
It may be tough for one player to stand above the fray in Kentucky’s unprecedented recruiting class, but Randle has the ability to do so. He’s a 6-9 power forward who’s impressive as an athlete and has drawn comparisons to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for his competitiveness.

Best Defensive Player: Scottie Wilbekin, Florida
Marshall Henderson isn’t the only SEC guard in his coach’s doghouse. Wilbekin remains “partially suspended” for a violation of team rules, but when he plays, he’s the top perimeter defender on the best defensive team in the league.

Most Underrated Player: Shavon Coleman, LSU
Coleman will round out an top-notch frontcourt for LSU. The 6-5 wing averaged 5.9 rebounds last season for the Tigers. He’s a key glue guy for a team looking to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009.

Newcomer of the Year: Julius Randle, Kentucky (complete look at key newcomers in the SEC)
Andrew Wiggins was the No. 1 prospect in the country and only added to his legend by holding out until the spring to make his college on decision. Randle, though, was right there as one of the top prospects in the country.

Top coach: John Calipari, Kentucky (full SEC coach rankings)

Hot seat: Tony Barbee, Auburn (full list of hot seat coaches)

Teaser:
Who can keep up with Kentucky in SEC?
Post date: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 07:00
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The seventh week of the season shook up the Big 12 race, making Baylor’s offense and Oklahoma’s defense look vulnerable for the first time all season.

Texas’ dominant win over Oklahoma shows the Longhorns can be a realistic contender for the league crown. Kansas State’s performance against Baylor in a 35-25 loss makes the Longhorns’ 3-0 start in Big 12 look a little stronger.

Oklahoma, meanwhile, looked nothing like a team ready to compete for a conference title Saturday. Texas moved the ball with ease on the Sooners’ 3-3-5 and could have have won by a more significant margin if not for overthrown passes on deep routes.

In Manhattan, Baylor’s fate was up in the air deep into the fourth quarter, a time when the Bears’ starters haven’t even played this season. Kansas State may have given a blueprint to upsetting Baylor, controlling the clock with the run game led by a mobile quarterback and stifling Lache Seastrunk in the run game.

The Big 12 race appeared to be a hotly contested competition among flawed teams in the preseason, and Week 7 only further proved that perception.

More Post-Week 7 Power Rankings: ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Big 12 Post-Week 7 Power Rankings

RankTeamLWAnalysis
12Baylor (5-0, 2-0): The Bears learned there’s a big difference between facing overmatched teams in Waco and facing a quality team on the road. Baylor needed two fourth quarter touchdowns to defeat a Kansas State team that wouldn’t go away in the second half. The Wildcats were able to limit Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin in the run game, and Antwan Goodley dropped a couple of passes. Still, Baylor was able to win by 10 points on the road thanks to its explosive passing game. Bryce Petty averaged 15.5 yards per pass attempt, raising his season average to 14.8. One major concern: Kansas State’s run game was able to keep the Baylor offense off the field. Baylor ran only 59 plays against the Wildcats after entering the game averaging 81 plays per game. This week: Iowa State
25Texas (4-2, 3-0): The Longhorns finally played like a Big 12 contender for the first time all season. The Longhorns were physical up front on both sides of the ball and flummoxed quarterback Blake Bell. Reaction to Greg Robinson’s elevation to defensive coordinator was lukewarm at best, but it’s tough to argue the switch didn’t help. Texas has allowed only 3.7 yards per carry in the last three games after allowing 6.0 in the first three. And keep in mind: This is without standout linebacker Jordan Hicks in the last two games. This week: Off
33Texas Tech (6-0, 3-0): It seems Kliff Kingsbury can plug and play any freshman quarterback with Davis Webb becoming the second rookie to hit the 400-yard mark this season for the Red Raiders. One thing not to overlook: Texas Tech has a quality run game, rushing for 251 yards against Iowa State and a total of seven rushing TDs in the last two games. Why isn’t Texas Tech higher in the power rankings? The Red Raiders’ opponents are a combined 6-11. No team in one of the five major conferences has faced a weaker schedule in terms of raw wins and losses. This week: at West Virginia
41Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1): The Sooners felt the absence of defensive tackle Jordan Thomas and linebacker Corey Nelson. And in the 3-3-5 alignment, Oklahoma can afford few letdowns in the front six. Just as disconcerting was the play of Blake Bell, who had his worst game of the season. With the run game ineffective, Bell completed only 12 of 26 passes for 133 yards with two interceptions and four sacks. The Sooners have had only four offensive touchdowns in Big 12 play this season. If Bell’s struggles continue, will Bob Stoops go back to Trevor Knight or give Kendal Thompson a shot? This week: at Kansas
54Oklahoma State (4-1, 1-1): The Cowboys are in the mix for the Big 12 title as much as any team, but the Pokes have little margin for error after losing to West Virginia. Oklahoma State’s run game is averaging 3.2 yards per carry since the season-opening win against Mississippi State. This week: TCU
66Kansas State (2-4, 0-3): That record isn’t pretty, but does any really want to face Kansas State in the Big 12? Despite the loss, Kansas State still proved to be an opportunistic team, converting a blocked punt and a fumble for touchdowns.  Daniel Sams is becoming more comfortable at quarterback, especially as a runner. He rushed for 199 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries. He completed 4 of 7 passes for 41 yards with an interception, sharing the passing duties with Jake Waters. This week: Off
77West Virginia (3-3, 1-2): The Mountaineers needed the off week in the worst way after a 73-42 loss to Baylor. Coach/quarterback/receiver communication has been major hurdle for Clint Trickett, who transferred from Florida State during the summer. Meanwhile, the defense has been beset by injuries all season. This week: Texas Tech
8 TCU (3-3, 1-2): The Horned Frogs beat Kansas 27-17, but their slow starts on offense persisted. TCU ended the first half tied 10-10 thanks to three turnovers (two Trevone Boykin interceptions and a Waymon James fumble). The Horned Frogs finished with five total turnovers. During the same week TCU learned Devonte Fields would be lost for the season, the Horned Frogs may have found a new defensive stud in linebacker Paul Dawson. The junior college transfer amassed 17 tackles and three tackles for a loss. This week: at Oklahoma State
99Iowa State (1-4, 0-2): Give Iowa State credit: The Cyclones wouldn’t go away against Texas Tech. The offense struggled mightily, but Jarvis West kept Iowa State in the game with standout play in the return game. Still, Aaron Wimberly managed only 65 yards on 19 carries and quarterback Sam Richardson missed 11 consecutive passes at one point. This week: at Baylor
1010Kansas (2-3, 0-2): Yet another game for Kansas where the Jayhawks are competitive in the first half but watch things fall apart in the second. Kansas had one sustained drive all day against TCU, but it ended in an interception. At least basketball practice has started. This week: Oklahoma

Big 12 Week 7 Recap and Awards

Offensive player of the week: Tevin Reese, Baylor
With Baylor’s run game struggling, Tevin Reese made sure the Bears still had big-play potential in the 35-25 win over Kansas State. Reese finished with five receptions for 184 yards and two touchdown catches. Reese had an 83-yard touchdown catch early, but snuck behind the Kansas State secondary for a 54-yard go-ahead touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.

Defensive player of the week: Ryan Mueller, Kansas State
Despite the loss, Kansas State’s Mueller was the best defensive player on the field. Mueller turned in one of the best plays of the game with a sack, strip and fumble recovery on Bryce Petty in the third quarter. Mueller finished with seven tackles and two tackles for a loss.

Freshman of the week: Davis Webb, Texas Tech
Another week and another freshman quarterback thriving for Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury. Webb replaced an injured Baker Mayfield and didn’t miss a beat, completing 35 of 56 passes for 415 yards with three touchdowns and an interception in a 42-35 win over Iowa State.

Team of the week: Texas
Tough to argue with a Longhorns team that changed the fortunes of its entire season with a 36-20 win over Oklahoma. Texas is 3-0 in the Big 12 and finally played to its talent level, particularly on defense. Texas held Oklahoma to 276 total yards. Oklahoma managed to convert only 2 of 13 third downs. The Longhorns, in bad shape after losses to BYU and Ole Miss, could build quite the Big 12 resume against TCU, Kansas and West Virginia in the next three games.

Coordinator of the week: Major Applewhite, Texas
The defense was off to a bad start for Texas, but the offense has been nearly as disjointed this season for Texas. Not against Oklahoma. Quarterback Case McCoy missed some open deep throws, but he still finished 13 of 22 for 190 yards. They key for Applewhite’s offense though was third down conversions (13 of 20) and a two-headed rushing attack from Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray that combined for 253 yards on the ground.

Fifth Down


• Not only did Texas pick up its first win over Oklahoma since 2009, the Longhorns got their first lead over OU in four years. The Longhorns took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter and led for the final 48:25.

• Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray became the first duo in Texas history to rush for 100 yards apiece against Oklahoma.

• Oklahoma’s 147 yards in penalties against Texas was the sixth-highest total in school history.

• Oklahoma gave up a punt return for a touchdown for the first time since 2002 when Colorado’s Jeremy Bloom ran one back for 80 yards against the Sooners. Texas’ Daje Johnson returned a punt 85 yards for a score against OU.

• Kansas State held Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk to 56 rushing yards on 12 carries, the first time Seastrunk failed to rush for 100 yards in 10 games.

• Baylor didn’t have a three-and-out in its first four games, but K-State held Baylor to two of them Saturday.

• Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro caught nine passes for 143 yards, giving him five consecutive games with eight receptions.

• Texas Tech rushed for 251 yards, the most for the Red Raiders since the pre-Mike Leach days with a 257-yard performance against Iowa State in 1999.

• TCU’s 27-17 win over Kansas was the Horned Frogs first Big 12 win at home.

 

Teaser:
Big 12 Post-Week 7 Power Rankings 2013
Post date: Monday, October 14, 2013 - 07:18
All taxonomy terms: Mountain West, College Basketball, News
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The Mountain West enjoyed the best season in its history in 2012-13. The fun, though, stopped when New Mexico was crowed MWC tournament champion.

The Lobos were on the wrong end of an NCAA Tournament upset to 13th-seeded Harvard. If that wasn’t enough, San Diego State became the first team to lose to a No. 15 seed in the round of 32, sending Florida Gulf Coast to the Sweet 16.

With Boise State, Colorado State and UNLV, the Mountain West had a league-record five teams in the field, but none of them reached the second weekend of the Tournament. Then, the lone coaching change in the conference was an unexpected once as UCLA plucked Steve Alford from New Mexico.

The Mountain West moves on with longtime assistant Craig Neal taking over the league’s most consistent program plus two new teams that have had success in the WAC (Utah State and San Jose State).

New Mexico has enough pieces left to win the league title, and San Diego State and UNLV have the talent on the roster to absorb the losses of Jamaal Franklin and No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Bennett, respectively.

Mountain West Predicted Order of Finish

All-Mountain West First Team
G Kendall Williams, New Mexico
G Deonte Burton, Nevada
G Derrick Marks, Boise State
C Jarred Shaw, Utah State
C Alex Kirk, New Mexico

All-Mountain West second team
G Preston Medlin, Utah State
G/F Anthony Drmic, Boise State
F Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico
F Khem Birch, UNLV
F Josh Davis, San Diego State

All-Mountain West third team
G Tyler Johnson, Fresno State
G Bryce Dejean-Jones, UNLV
F Winston Shepard, San Diego State
F Larry Nance Jr., Wyoming
F Chris Cunningham, San Jose State
1. NEW MEXICO (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Sweet 16
Lobos hope turning up the tempo under new coach Craig Neal will lead to more postseason success. Neal has two great building blocks in Alex Kirk and Kendall Williams.

2. UNLV (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 32
Rebels lost a ton of experience and talent from a team that underachieved last season. Dave Rice will hope a changing of the guard is beneficial.

3. BOISE STATE (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 32
The Broncos return all five starters from a team that surprised the league to reach the First Four. The high-scoring duo of Derrick Marks and Anthony Drmic won’t catch anyone off guard.

4. SAN DIEGO STATE (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 32
Jamaal Franklin did everything for the Aztecs last year. Steve Fisher needs Tulane transfer Josh Davis and sophomore Winston Shepard to pick up the slack if the Aztecs are to reach a fifth consecutive Tournament.

5. UTAH STATE
Postseason projection:
NIT
The Aggies had an uneven season in their final year in the WAC, a league that rarely challenged Stew Morrill’s crew. Utah State brings three key returners to a tougher Mountain West slate.

6. FRESNO STATE
The Bulldogs will look to Oklahoma State transfer Cezar Guerrero to improve their woeful point guard play. Look for the Bulldogs to approach the .500 mark in Rodney Terry’s third season.

7. COLORADO STATE
Larry Eustachy had it made as a first-year coach with a veteran-laden roster that ended up as the best rebounding team in the country. His second season will be a rebuilding year around guard Daniel Bejarano, the MWC’s Sixth Man of the Year.

8. NEVADA
The WAC champions were Mountain West also-rans last season. Deonte Burton is a Mountain West star, but he’ll need help from a rebuilt frontcourt.

9. WYOMING
The Cowboys may have missed a window last season, finishing the season in an 8-14 stretch. Three players who averaged double figures are gone, leaving coach Larry Shyatt to rebuild around Larry Nance Jr.

10. AIR FORCE
The Falcons had enough firepower last season to put a scare into the best Mountain West teams. With five seniors gone and one returning starter, Air Force will slip back to the bottom of the standings.

11. SAN JOSE STATE
The Spartans have a new coach (Dave Wojcik), a new conference and a new floor. Expect the same meager results for now.

Mountain West Awards

Player of the Year: Kendall Williams, New Mexico
Williams returns after earning Mountain West Player of the Year honors. He averaged 13.3 points on a balanced team, but his breakout performance (46 points, 10 3-pointers) against Colorado State was impossible to ignore.

Best Defensive Player: Khem Birch, UNLV
The reigning MWC Defensive Player of the Year averaged three blocks per game after his transfer from Pittsburgh.

Most Underrated Player: Jeff Elorriaga, Boise State
The Broncos’ duo of Drmic and Marks get more attention, but Elorriaga is the Boise State’s best 3-point threat. He averaged 10.2 points per game while shooting 44.7 percent from long range (84 of 188).

Top Newcomer: Josh Davis, San Diego State
The Tulane transfer will be an immediate impact player for the Aztecs after averaging 17.6 points and 10.7 rebounds last season. He’ll be expected to be in double-double territory for San Diego State, too.

Top coach: Steve Fisher, San Diego State (full rankings of MWC coaches)

Coach on the hot seat: David Carter, Nevada (full list of coaches on the hot seat)

*photo courtesy of Karsen King Welch/UNM

Teaser:
College Basketball: 2013-14 Mountain West Preview
Post date: Monday, October 14, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Baylor Bears, College Football, Big 12, News
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Baylor did not have its finest offensive day in Manhattan, nearly doubling its punt total on the season and picking up its first two three and outs.

The run game was held in check for the most part, which put the onus on the Bears’ big-play receivers to preserve the undefeated start.

Tevin Reese delivered, first with an 83-yard touchdown catch in the first half, but his biggest play came in the fourth quarter when he beat Kansas State’s secondary for a 54-yard TD catch to give Baylor the lead for good.

Kansas State’s defense, though, can’t be ignored. Linebacker Ryan Mueller had two key plays as the Wildcats made Baylor’s offense look mortal for the first time this season.

Big 12 Week 7 Recap and Awards

Offensive player of the week: Tevin Reese, Baylor
With Baylor’s run game struggling, Tevin Reese made sure the Bears still had big-play potential in the 35-25 win over Kansas State. Reese finished with five receptions for 184 yards and two touchdown catches. Reese had an 83-yard touchdown catch early, but snuck behind the Kansas State secondary for a 54-yard go-ahead touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.

Defensive player of the week: Ryan Mueller, Kansas State
Despite the loss, Kansas State’s Mueller was the best defensive player on the field. Mueller turned in one of the best plays of the game with a sack, strip and fumble recovery on Bryce Petty in the third quarter. Mueller finished with seven tackles and two tackles for a loss.

Freshman of the week: Davis Webb, Texas Tech
Another week and another freshman quarterback thriving for Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury. Webb replaced an injured Baker Mayfield and didn’t miss a beat, completing 35 of 56 passes for 415 yards with three touchdowns and an interception in a 42-35 win over Iowa State.

Team of the week: Texas
Tough to argue with a Longhorns team that changed the fortunes of its entire season with a 36-20 win over Oklahoma. Texas is 3-0 in the Big 12 and finally played to its talent level, particularly on defense. Texas held Oklahoma to 276 total yards. Oklahoma managed to convert only 2 of 13 third downs. The Longhorns, in bad shape after losses to BYU and Ole Miss, could build quite the Big 12 resume against TCU, Kansas and West Virginia in the next three games.

Coordinator of the week: Major Applewhite, Texas
The defense was off to a bad start for Texas, but the offense has been nearly as disjointed this season for Texas. Not against Oklahoma. Quarterback Case McCoy missed some open deep throws, but he still finished 13 of 22 for 190 yards. They key for Applewhite’s offense though was third down conversions (13 of 20) and a two-headed rushing attack from Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray that combined for 253 yards on the ground.

Fifth Down


• Not only did Texas pick up its first win over Oklahoma since 2009, the Longhorns got their first lead over OU in four years. The Longhorns took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter and led for the final 48:25.

• Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray became the first duo in Texas history to rush for 100 yards apiece against Oklahoma.

• Oklahoma’s 147 yards in penalties against Texas was the sixth-highest total in school history.

• Oklahoma gave up a punt return for a touchdown for the first time since 2002 when Colorado’s Jeremy Bloom ran one back for 80 yards against the Sooners. Texas’ Daje Johnson returned a punt 85 yards for a score against OU.

• Kansas State held Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk to 56 rushing yards on 12 carries, the first time Seastrunk failed to rush for 100 yards in 10 games.

• Baylor didn’t have a three-and-out in its first four games, but K-State held Baylor to two of them Saturday.

• Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro caught nine passes for 143 yards, giving him five consecutive games with eight receptions.

• Texas Tech rushed for 251 yards, the most for the Red Raiders since the pre-Mike Leach days with a 257-yard performance against Iowa State in 1999.

• TCU’s 27-17 win over Kansas was the Horned Frogs first Big 12 win at home.

Teaser:
Big 12 Week 7 Recap and Awards
Post date: Sunday, October 13, 2013 - 13:20
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One of the hallmarks of the 2013 season as it reached its halfway point was its stability.

Only three top-10 teams lost through the first six weeks of the season. Two of those losses were inevitable (No. 8 Clemson over No. 5 Georgia, No. 1 Alabama over No. 7 Texas A&M) and the third wasn’t much of an upset at all as No. 11 Georgia defeated No. 6 South Carolina in Athens.

Finally, we had a chaotic weekend.

It started Thursday when No. 8 Louisville defeated Rutgers in a game where both teams were allergic to the end zone.

On Saturday, an unranked opponent knocked out a national championship contender when Utah took a lead on Stanford and never let go. Before that, Georgia found a wild SEC game it couldn’t win when Missouri upset the Bulldogs in Athens despite an injury to its starting quarterback.

Oklahoma wasn’t among the top-10 teams to lose, but the Sooners’ loss to Texas was nonetheless the surprise of the day.

The upheaval was enough for teams like Baylor, Clemson and Texas A&M to feel fortunate escaping close games with wins.

THREE AND OUT: COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 7 RECAP

Three Big Lessons

Oregon gave us the most impressive win of the season. The season has seen its share of shootouts (Clemson over Georgia, Georgia over LSU) and tense road wins (Ohio State over Northwestern, Alabama over Texas A&M). But Oregon gave us the most impressive win by a top team this season. The Ducks’ 45-24 win over Washington on the road was as complete as any win this season. Marcus Mariota carved up a defense that hadn’t allowed a 200-yard passer all season by passing for 366 yards. Oregon rolled up 631 yards despite missing injured De’Anthony Thomas and departed tight end Colt Lyerla. Many other title contenders have been stout on one side of the ball in big games this season, but Oregon separated itself with a standout defensive performance. Bishop Sankey got his yards on the ground (167 on 28 carries), but Keith Price was held in check. Washington also turned the ball over twice.

Texas can be really, really good when it wants to be. The Longhorns are well on the way to salvaging their season by defeating rival Oklahoma 36-20 to move to 3-0 in the Big 12. The difference between the team that defeated the Sooners for the first time since 2009 and the one that lost to BYU and Ole Miss was stark. Texas’ maligned defense stifled Oklahoma to 4.5 yards per play and had two interceptions, one returned for at touchdown. The Sooners, for some reason, limited Blake Bell in the running game, helping Texas to hold OU to 130 rushing yards. And even though quarterback Case McCoy missed two deep potential touchdown passes and an easy fourth down conversion early in the game, he completed 13 of 21 passes for 190 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Against a stout Oklahoma defense, Texas went 13 of 20 on third down, converting eight of their first 10. Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray controlled the clock with 120 rushing yards apiece, and Daje Johnson proved why he’s Texas’ most important playmaker with a punt return for a touchdown. Mack Brown’s future remains unclear with a new athletic director on the way to Austin, but Texas’ most complete game of the season means the Longhorns still have conference championship goals ahead of them.

Baylor’s offense is mortal on the road. The Bears scored 35 points, won by 10 and picked up their first Big 12 road win since Nov. 12, 2011. But the Bears look awfully vulnerable away from Waco. Baylor had its first two three-and-outs of the season and punted six times (compared to seven in the previous four games). Kansas State showed the key to limiting the Baylor offense was to bottle up Lache Seastrunk. The Baylor running back rushed for 56 yards, the first time he’s been held to double digits in 10 games. Meanwhile, Bryce Petty completed 10 of 19 passes but did so for 318 yards, 219 of which came on three long touchdown passes. Perhaps it says something about Baylor’s wild start to the season that facing adversity on the road and winning by 10 is a red flag of sorts, but the Bears looked more vulnerable than it has all season. The question is if anyone on Baylor’s road schedule — Kansas, Oklahoma State or TCU — can capitalize.

Three Re-evaluated Conference Races

SEC East. Injuries have decimated the contenders in the SEC East, both old and new. Missouri moved to 6-0 by defeating Georgia but lost quarterback James Franklin for at least six weeks with a separated shoulder in the process. Backup Maty Mauk was 3 for 3 against Georgia and battled Franklin in the preseason for the starting job, but Franklin was en route to a breakout year. If there’s any silver lining for Missouri, every other SEC East contender has significant injury concerns. The healthiest team in the division might be South Carolina, who got Jadeveon Clowney back from sore ribs Saturday. Clowney, however, has bone spurs in his foot that will require surgery at the end of the season.

Big 12. The Big 12 was the toughest conference for Athlon Sports to pick during the preseason, but as recently as last week, the league looked like a two-team race between Oklahoma and Baylor. The Sooners and Bears may still be the most complete teams in the league, but it’s more and more evident a two-loss team could represent the Big 12 in the Fiesta Bowl. Oklahoma and Baylor can't be considered the only contenders for the league title. Texas is finally playing up to its talent level, and Texas Tech is still sitting at 5-0 and 3-0 in the league. Oklahoma flopped on both sides of the ball against the Longhorns, and Baylor’s not invincible.

ACC Atlantic. Clemson needed four quarters to put away Boston College, but it’s probably a safe bet the Tigers hit the reset button entering next week’s game against Florida State. Still, it’s worth noting Florida State had the week off while Clemson needed two fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat the Eagles at home. Beyond the two division favorites, the rest of the Atlantic showed little depth. After losing 63-0 to Florida State, Maryland showed little signs the rout was an aberration in a 27-26 win at home over lowly Virginia. NC State also dropped its second consecutive game, losing to Wake Forest and Syracuse back-to-back. Just a reminder: NC State also gave Clemson fits back on Sept. 19.

Moving the Chains

Wisconsin. A Wisconsin rout of Northwestern was predictable, with the Wildcats losing an emotional game to Ohio State while the Badgers sat on a bye week. Wisconsin wasted little time delivering. The Badgers won 35-6 in Wisconsin-like fashion with 284 rushing yards. Wisconsin might not win the Big Ten leaders division, but they made it awfully tough for Northwestern (0-2 in the Big Ten) to win the Legends.

Travis Wilson, Utah. The Utes’ quarterback has had quite the roller coaster season. He threw three interceptions in a shootout with Oregon State, passed for 273 yards in Utah’s win over rival BYU and then six interceptions against UCLA last week. It’s going to be tough to match Saturday, though, when Wilson  completed 22 of 33 passes for 230 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in an upset of No. 5 Stanford. Utah has struggled to win consistently in the Pac-12, but the sophomore Wilson is clearly the future.

Sean Mannion, Oregon State. The Mannion record watch continues. Mannion completed 34 of 51 yards for 493 yards with four touchdowns and an interception in a 52-24 win over Washington State to continue his march toward the Pac-12 passing record. Mannion topped 400 yards for the fourth time this season. After a loss to Eastern Washington in the opener, Oregon State has won five in a row, including a 3-0 start in the Pac-12. The Beavers face Cal next week before a brutal final stretch in Pac-12 play.

False Starts

Stanford’s national title hopes. A one-loss Pac-12 team could be a viable national championship contender, but Stanford probably didn’t want to put that to the test. After a 27-21 loss to Utah, Stanford likely needs to defeat Oregon on Nov. 7 to have a shot at the Pac-12 North division, not just a BCS title. Ty Montgomery tried to save the day with two touchdowns and 295 all-purpose yards (131 receiving), but the Stanford defense didn’t have its best day. A week after a close call with Washington, Stanford allowed touchdown drives of 75, 79 and 99 yards in the first half.

Michigan’s execution. The Wolverines did everything they could to give Penn State a key 43-40 win in triple overtime. Quarterback Devin Gardner passed for 240 yards and rushed for 127, but he returned to his early season form by throwing two interceptions and fumbling once before halftime. In the second half and overtime, kicker Brandon Gibbons failed to convert his last three field goal attempts, with two misses and one block. Though Michigan found an explosive weapon in Devin Funchess, Gardner accounted for all but 28 yards of total offense against the Nittany Lions.

Oklahoma’s offense. The Sooners’ offense has been a work in progress for most of the season, but Oklahoma had no answers against a maligned Texas defense. Blake Bell had his worst game of the season, completing 12 of 26 passes for 134 yards with two interceptions. Despite Texas’ inability to stop read option quarterbacks, Oklahoma rarely called for Bell to run the ball. “If they wanna pass the ball, they can pass it,” Bell told reporters after the game. “If they wanna run it, they can run it. I really don't know what they're thinking most of the time.”

Heisman Movers

Marcus Mariota, Oregon. It’s tough to argue against Mariota as the Heisman frontrunner through seven weeks. Against a team that had allowed two touchdown passes all season, Mariota threw three. Against a team that allowed an average of 146.4 yards per game and 4.3 yards per attempt, Mariota threw for 366 and 11.8 per pass. Mariota continued to be turnover-free and show impressive poise on the move in the passing game.

Aaron Murray, Georgia. Murray had been a Heisman contender thanks to late-game heroics through the season, but that took a hit against Missouri. After one of his fumbles was returned for a touchdown, Murray threw two fourth quarter interceptions to end a Georgia comeback bid.

Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M. The defending Heisman winner is in the mix, especially after coming up in big spots in the only major late-night game Saturday. Manziel came back from an injury scare to his knee to complete 31 of 39 passes for 346 yards while rushing for 122 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-38 win over Ole Miss. He made a bad decision on an interception in the end zone and lost a fumble that the Rebels converted to a touchdown, but most people may remember his game-tying touchdown run in a tight game on the road.

Stat Watch

Sorry We Doubted You
Logan Thomas
Texas
Oregon State

Though This Would Be Close. It Wasn’t
BYU 38, Georgia Tech 20
Michigan State 42, Indiana 28
South Carolina 52, Arkansas 7

Three Close Calls
Clemson 24, Boston College 14
Maryland 27, Virginia 26
Mississippi State 21, Bowling Green 20

Dang, They’re Good
Alabama
Oregon
UCLA

Dang, They’re Bad
NC State
Purdue
Western Michigan

Best Games Next Week
Florida at Missouri
UCLA at Stanford
Florida State at Clemson
304. Rushing yards for Army running back Terry Baggett. Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis never rushed for 300 yards at Army. No one did until Baggett rushed for 304 yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries in a 50-25 win over Eastern Michigan.

474. Yards for Michigan State against Indiana. The Spartans had their best offensive game against a Big Ten opponent since the Kirk Cousins era in the 42-28 win over Indiana. The Spartans’ 473 yards was the most for Michigan State in a Big Ten game since 536 on Oct. 9, 2010 in a 34-17 win over Michigan. Among other milestones: Michigan State scored 40 points in a Big Ten game for the first time since a 55-3 win over Indiana on Nov. 12, 2011.

26. Points Alabama has allowed to teams other than Texas A&M. Alabama’s 49-42 win over Texas A&M at the time seemed to be a sign of offensive supremacy in the SEC this season. At least for the Crimson Tide, the 42-point day on defense was an aberration. After a 48-7 win over Kentucky, Alabama has allowed only two touchdowns outside of the Texas A&M game.

Buried on the Depth Chart

Houston. Thirteen undefeated teams remain and none is more unlikely than 5-0 Houston. The Cougars needed to come from behind to beat Memphis 25-15, but the Cougars already matched last season’s win total despite changing starters at quarterback.

USF. In September, the Bulls appeared to be one of the worst teams in the country in an 0-4 start, including losses to McNeese State and FAU. But USF won an ugly 13-10 game against winless Connecticut to improve to 2-0 in the American Athletic Conference. Don’t count on USF to challenge Louisville in the league, though. Quarterbacks in this game combined to go 23 of 71.

UNLV. It’s not the most impressive 4-2 start, but four wins by midseason is a huge deal for UNLV. The Rebels defeated Hawaii 39-37 on Saturday to move the UNLV to 2-0 in the Mountain West. UNLV has defeated Central Michigan, Western Illinois, New Mexico and the Rainbow Warriors to get here, making in the most successful season under Bobby Hauck. UNLV hasn’t won more than five games since 2003.

Three Defensive Statements

LSU. The Tigers’ 17-6 win over Florida was a return to normalcy in Baton Rouge as the LSU defense finally carried the offense again. LSU’s front seven led by Lamin Barrow, Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson held Florida to 2.8 yards per carry and gave Tyler Murphy little time to pass. Murphy finished 15 of 27 for 115 yards with four sacks as Florida had to settle for two field goals.

Vic Beasley, Clemson. The nation’s most productive defensive end plays in South Carolina, but it’s not Jadeveon Clowney. Beasley helped save Clemson from an upset with a 13-yard scoop-and-score fumble recovery for a touchdown and added two tackles for a loss in the 24-14 win. Beasley has 12 tackles for a loss and 9.5 sacks this season.

Missouri. The Tigers entered the game against Georgia ranked fifth in the SEC in fewest yards allowed per play (5.4) and second in the league in takeaways (11), but Missouri didn’t get much attention for its defense. Even against a depleted Georgia offense, the Tigers made a defensive statement in the 41-26 upset. The defensive line had lost first-round draft pick Sheldon Richardson before the season but controlled the line of scrimmage against the Bulldogs. Missouri gave up 454 yards but dominated the big-play department with two interceptions and a fumble returned for a touchdown.

Three Fun Things from Coaches

Bill Snyder, Kansas State. Only the most discerning college football viewer would have noticed a conspicuous absence Saturday. Kansas State coach Bill Snyder coached the loss to Baylor without his windbreaker from the 2012 Cotton Bowl, a piece of attire that gained notoriety as Snyder wore it for nearly every game since the loss to Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl following the 2011 season.

Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern: Give the Wildcats coach credit for being optimistic after falling behind 21-6 at halftime to Wisconsin. “I'm looking forward to the next 30 minutes because the first 30 minutes sucked," Fitzgerald told a sideline reporter. The second half wasn’t much better. Northwestern lost 35-6.

Steve Spurrier, South Carolina. Speaking of Arkansas, Steve Spurrier piled onto a 52-7 win over Arkansas a bit, saying: “I do feel badly for Arkansas. That’s no fun getting your butt beat at home, homecoming and all that.”

Teaser:
Conference races get shuffled in tumultuous Saturday for the top 10
Post date: Sunday, October 13, 2013 - 10:49
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Mack Brown, Big 12
Path: /college-football/big-12-week-7-preview-and-predictions-2013
Body:

The Red River Rivalry is a rite of passage of sorts in the college football season.

The weather is beginning to turn. The championship races are starting to take shape. And traditionally, this is when the Big 12 finds its frontrunner.

Although both teams are 2-0 in the league, this is the third time in the last  10 seasons either Texas or Oklahoma has entered the game unranked. The Longhorns have been the bigger offender, arriving to the State Fair of Texas unranked in two of the last three years.

After the last two seasons, a checkered start to 2013 and a leadership change at Texas, Longhorns coach Mack Brown will be under the microscope. If there’s an opportunity for Brown to remain the Texas coach, this would be the time to seize it.

Oklahoma fans, though, couldn’t be blamed for looking forward to the other major Big 12 contender in Baylor as the Bears make their first road trip of the season to Kansas State. The Bears have struggled on the road, so this week will be a key test for the nation's top offense.

Week 7 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big Ten Pac-12 | SEC

Big 12 Week 7 Game Power Rankings
All games Saturday, All times Eastern


1. Baylor at Kansas State (3:30 p.m, Fox Sports 1)
The Baylor offense is the talk of college football, but there are a few questions for the Bears before they get into the toughest portion of the schedule in November. Baylor built its 70-point offense against Wofford, Buffalo, ULM and West Virginia. All fringe bowl candidates at best (or, in Wofford’s case, an FCS team). All were also in Waco. Baylor has lost seven of its last eight Big 12 road games. Kansas State, meanwhile, is looking for any kind of answers. Daniel Sams earned his first start at quarterback last week, but Jake Waters will remain in the rotation. Making matters worse, top receivers Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson remain questionable after missing last week’s game with injuries.

2. Oklahoma vs. Texas (noon, ABC, in Dallas)
The Red River Rivalry will be another referendum on Mack Brown, though it’s tough to see anything but an easy win helping to turn the tide back in Brown’s favor. The Sooners have won the last two meetings by a combined score of 118-38. Both teams are 2-0 in the Big 12, but OU has looked much more like a conference contender than the Longhorns, who eked out a sloppy win over Iowa State last week. With quarterback David Ash out again, Texas will turn to Case McCoy, who has thrown 36 and 45 passes in his two starts this season (he’s averaging a Big 12-worst 5.6 yards per attempt). Led by corner Aaron Colvin, safety Gabe Lynn and surprising redshirt freshman Zach Sanchez, Oklahoma leads the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense (with nine interceptions) and has the best third-down defense in the league (19 of 70). Unless something has changed in the last week, Texas has shown a good deal of confidence in the passing game.

3. Iowa State at Texas Tech (noon, Fox Sports 1)
Both teams need to answer to some adversity this week. Iowa State must respond to the heartbreaking loss to Texas on Thursday while Texas Tech has questions at quarterback after an injury to knee starting quarterback Baker Mayfield. Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury did not rule out starting Mayfield against the Cyclones. In the last two weeks, Iowa State has found a clear bread and butter in its offense with Aaron Wimberly taking hold of the run game. Texas Tech leads the Big 12 in fewest rushing yards per game (107.6), but the Red Raiders have not faced a stout running team yet this season.

4. Kansas at TCU (noon, Fox Sports Network local)
TCU’s first-half offense has been dismal and never worse than it was against Oklahoma last week. The Horned Frogs have scored three points total in the first quarter against FBS teams this season. TCU’s has also been outscored 49-17 in the first half against FBS teams. If Kansas pounces on an early lead against TCU like it did against Texas Tech, the Jayhawks must respond better than they did last week when a 10-0 lead turned into a 54-16 defeat. Quarterback Jake Heaps had perhaps his best half of the season, completing 13 of 20 passes for 139 yards with a touchdown to start against Texas Tech.

Off: Oklahoma State, West Virginia

Big 12 Week 7 Pivotal Players

Johnathan Gray, Texas
Texas’ offense has been most effective this season when the Longhorns have been running the ball, particularly when Gray is the one getting carries. Gray rushed for 141 yards on 28 carries against Kansas State, but carried only 16 times in the following game against Iowa State. Oklahoma’s run defense is tough to crack, but both West Virginia and Notre Dame had success on the ground against the Sooners.

Dominique Alexander and Aaron Franklin, Oklahoma
Outside linebacker Corey Nelson was one of the few name players on the Oklahoma defense entering the season, and now he’s out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. The Sooners have found plenty of difference-makers on a defense that’s the best in the Big 12, but they’ll have to find a new starter to replace Nelson. Alexander is a freshman who has logged 10 tackles this season, including four against Notre Dame. Franklin has been a reserve linebacker for the last three years. Nelson was also in charge of calling defensive signals. That task will fall to leading tackler Frank Shannon and others.

Daniel Sams, Kansas State
Sams’ first task in his second start will be to cut turnovers after giving the ball away four times against Oklahoma State last week (three interceptions, one fumble). The Wildcats are minus-nine in turnovers this season. Kansas State hasn’t been in the red in turnover margin for a season since 2008, Ron Prince’s final year as head coach. Sams is a dangerous runner, who rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries last week, but he’ll encounter a Baylor defense that is allowing only 2.5 carry.

Jacques Washington, Iowa State
A number of players will probably draw the assignment to defend 6-5, 260-pound tight end Jace Amaro, a mismatch for linebackers and safeties. At 6-1, 220 pounds, Washington is the bigger of Iowa State’s two starting safeties, but Amaro still has him beat by four inches and 40 pounds. Amaro has caught at least eight passes in each of the last four games (he was suspended for the first half of the opener against SMU).

Ben Heeney, Kansas
The Jayhawks’ senior linebacker is one of the nation’s most underrated players, recording 41 tackles, six tackles for a loss and two interceptions this season. TCU would probably prefer to set the tone with the run game, but that’s been tough the last two weeks. Heeney will be one of the key players try to force Trevone Boykin to win the game with his arm.

Big 12 Week 7 Predictions

 David FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
Oklahoma (-14) vs. TexasOU 42-21OU 42-20OU 38-17OU 34-17
Iowa St (+14) at Texas TechISU 28-21Tech 41-20Tech 34-20Tech 37-21
Kansas (+25) at TCUTCU 24-10TCU 31-10TCU 38-13TCU 48-10
Baylor (-17) at K-StateBaylor 56-14Baylor 42-28Baylor 48-24Baylor 51-27
Last week4-04-04-04-0
This season33-532-632-632-6

 

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, October 10, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-big-east-preview
Body:

The new Big East has many of the same teams as the old Big East, but the dynamic of the league will be quite different.

First, there’s the sheer size. The Big East has slimmed down from 16 teams at its height to a more manageable 10. The former Big East was marked by as many as three or four realistic Final Four contenders in atop the league and star power and veterans running a dozen teams deep.

The new Big East might not appear to have a obvious national championship contender, but it will have depth. Perhaps only DePaul enters the season with slim hopes of reaching the postseason.

While the new Big East lacks powerhouses like Syracuse, Louisville and Connecticut, there will be plenty of intrigue as teams like Xavier and Butler face Marquette, Georgetown and Villanova. And then there’s Doug McDermott, who will have plenty of prime-time games against the Big East schedule.

Big East predicted order of finish

All-Big East First Team
G Semaj Christon, Xavier
G Bryce Cotton, Providence
G Markel Starks, Georgetown
F Doug McDermott, Creighton
F JaKarr Sampson, St. John's

All-Big East Second Team
G D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown
G/F Fuquan Edwin, Seton Hall
F Kadeem Batts, Providence
F Davante Gardner, Marquette
F JayVaughn Pinkston, Villanova

All-Big East Third Team
G Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova
G D'Angelo Harrison, St. John's
F LaDontae Henton, Providence
F Roosevelt Jones, Butler
F Cleveland Melvin, DePaul
1. MARQUETTE (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Sweet 16
Buzz Williams consistently gets the most out of his players, and he has a loaded recruiting class entering school.

2. CREIGHTON (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 32
The return of Doug McDermott and Grant Gibbs puts the Bluejays squarely in the mix for a league title.

3. GEORGETOWN (team preview)
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 64
Greg Whittington's injury sets this team back, especially without Otto Porter. The Hoyas won't fall too far.

4. VILLANOVA (team preview)
Postseason prediction:
NCAA Round of 64
With the return of four starters and the addition of key newcomers, Jay Wright has this team ready.

5. ST. JOHN’S (team preview)
Postseason prediction:
NCAA Round of 64
The Red Storm might have the most overall talent in the league, and they'll be dangerous if everything comes together.

6. XAVIER (team preview)
Postseason prediction:
NCAA First Four
The Musketeers surprised many people in the A-10 last year, and they return plenty of production. Semaj Christon is a stud.

7. PROVIDENCE
Postseason prediction:
NIT
Ed Cooley has turned things around quickly, and this could be the year the Friars take the next step.

8. SETON HALL
Postseason prediction:
NIT
With four starters returning, including Fuquan Edwin, the Pirates should be a postseason team.

9. BUTLER
This might have been a difficult year either way, but Brad Stevens leaving for the NBA means the Bulldogs have question marks.

10. DePAUL
Oliver Purnell has two high-scoring options in Brandon Young and Cleveland Melvin, but it will be a struggle this year.

Big East Awards

Player of the Year: Doug McDermott, Creighton

McDermott returned to school to accomplish two lofty goals: A Big East title for Creighton and the Bluejays’ first trip to the regional semifinal since 1974.

Best Defensive Player: Chris Obekpa, St. John's

The 6-9 center led the nation in blocks as a freshman, averaging four blocks per game.

Most Underrated Player: Grant Gibbs, Creighton
Gibbs got a sixth year of eligibility and will continue to feed McDermott from the wing. Gibbs averaged 8.5 points per game and 5.8 assists.

Newcomer of the Year: JaJuan Johnson, Marquette (full list of key newcomers around the Big East)
One of Marquette’s four freshmen this season, Johnson will give Buzz Williams options at guard. He’ll be a standout scorer with his ability as a shooter and finisher around the basket.

Top coach: Buzz Williams, Marquette (full Big East coach rankings)

Coach on the hot seat: Oliver Purnell, DePaul (full hot seat list)

Teaser:
College Basketball: 2013-14 Big East Preview
Post date: Thursday, October 10, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-big-12-preview
Body:

Two key announcements turned the fortunes for the Big 12. First, sophomore Marcus Smart elected to return to Oklahoma State even though he could have been a top pick. And just as the Cowboys prepared to be the unquestioned Big 12 favorite, Kansas landed the most dynamic freshman since at least Kevin Durant.

If only the news was as good around the rest of the league.

Outside of Kansas, Oklahoma State and probably Baylor, the Big 12 may have trouble putting teams into the NCAA Tournament.

Defending regular season co-champion Kansas State is rebuilding in Year 2 under Bruce Weber. Meanwhile, onetime NCAA Tournament regulars Texas and West Virginia are coming off their worst seasons in quite some time. Neither has quick answers.

A two-team race — and a two-player race between Wiggins and Smart — looks like it will be the storyline in the Big 12.

Big 12 Predicted Order of Finish

ALL-BIG 12 FIRST TEAM
G Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
G Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
G/F Markel Brown, Oklahoma State
F Melvin Ejim, Iowa State
F Cory Jefferson, Baylor

ALL-BIG 12 SECOND TEAM
G Wayne Selden, Kansas
G/F Le’Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State
F Perry Ellis, Kansas
F Georges Niang, Iowa State
C Isaiah Austin, Baylor

ALL-BIG 12 THIRD TEAM
G Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
G Shane Southwell, Kansas State
G DeAndre Kane, Iowa State
F Michael Cobbins, Oklahoma State
F Jordan Tolbert, Texas Tech

1. KANSAS (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Elite Eight
Can fantastic freshman Andrew Wiggins lead Jayhawks to a 10th straight Big 12 title — and more?

2. OKLAHOMA STATE (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Elite Eight
Marcus Smart is the real deal, but don’t sleep on his supporting cast. The Pokes have a complete roster.

3. BAYLOR (team preview)
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32
Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson form one of the country’s toughest frontcourts. The Bears need solid point guard play.

4. IOWA STATE (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 64
Roster turnover never seems to affect the Cyclones under Fred Hoiberg. DeAndre Kane is the latest impact transfer.

5. KANSAS STATE
Postseason projection:
NIT
The Cats have lots of nice pieces, but no true star. The loss of Angel Rodriguez hurts.

6. OKLAHOMA
Postseason projection:
NIT
The Sooners lost a lot, but Lon Kruger is too good to let them fall far. This team will find a way to win games.

7. TEXAS
The Longhorns bottomed out last year, but the prospects for ’13-14 aren’t much better. Welcome to the hot seat, Mr. Barnes.

8. TEXAS TECH
Tubby will make the Red Raiders relevant again — but not this year. There’s simply not enough talent.

9. WEST VIRGINIA
As bad as last season was, this one could be worse for Bob Huggins, who is used to winning a lot of games.

10. TCU
The Horned Frogs are getting better, but they may be a year away from making a move in the Big 12.

Big 12 Awards

Player of the Year: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
Excitement for Wiggins is at a fever pitch. Consider this: Sports Illustrated put Wiggins on the cover amid NFL and college football seasons and baseball playoffs.

Best Defensive Player: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
He’s the nation’s top point guard and turned the Cowboys’ season with his intangibles. But he’s also a rugged defender who averaged three steals per game. No one else in the Big 12 averaged more than two.

Most Underrated: Phil Forte, Oklahoma State
Smart’s high school teammate is a secret weapon of sports on a team that includes Smart, Le’Bryan Nash and Markel Brown. Forte averaged 91.3 percent shooting from the free throw line.

Newcomer of the Year: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas (full list of key newcomers in the Big 12)
Wiggins’ decision to go to Kansas turned the Jayhawks into a Final Four contender over night. But he’s not the only new face who will make a major impact at KU. Joining Wiggins is Memphis transfer Tarik Black and the rest of the best freshman class outside of Kentucky.

Top coach: Bill Self, Kansas (full ranking of Big 12 coaches)

Coach on the hot seat: Rick Barnes, Texas (full list of hot seat coaches)
 

Teaser:
College Basketball: 2013-14 Big 12 Preview
Post date: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 07:55
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-american-preview
Body:

As the 2013-14 season begins, Louisville will hope for the same results despite a new look.

Of course, one new look will be the surroundings of Memphis, Temple and a pair of Texas schools replacing the old Big East. The other new look will be at key positions at point guard and center where Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng depart the Cardinals.

Those are major losses for Louisville, but Rick Pitino has plenty of returning pieces to make another run at the national title. The Cardinals are the runaway favorite for the new American Athletic Conference, but they’ll have more speed bumps than the football program.

Memphis had its best season under Josh Pastner last season, and the Tigers have been waiting for years to show they can compete with teams like Louisville and Connecticut on a regular basis. After a postseason ban, UConn has the backcourt talent to return to the NCAA Tournament under Kevin Ollie.

But the true depth of the league will be determined by the dormant ex-Conference USA/ex-Southwest Conference programs from Texas. Houston and SMU have been building for this moment for several years, stocking up on key transfers and freshmen.

American Predicted Order of Finish

ALL-AAC FIRST TEAM
G Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
G Joe Jackson, Memphis
G Russ Smith, Louisville
G/F Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati
F Montrezl Harrell, Louisville

ALL-AAC SECOND TEAM
G Ryan Boatright, Connecticut
G Geron Johnson, Memphis
G Isaiah Sykes, UCF
F Chane Behanan, Louisville
F TaShawn Thomas, Houston

ALL-AAC THIRD TEAM
G Chris Jones, Louisville
G Danuel House , Houston
G Jalen Jones, SMU
G Myles Mack, Rutgers
F DeAndre Daniels, Connecticut
1. LOUISVILLE (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA runner up
The defending national champions are just as talented and deep as last season. A third straight Final Four is in the offing.

2. MEMPHIS (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 32
With three veteran guards returning and a loaded recruiting class, Josh Pastner could finally make noise in March.

3. CONNECTICUT(team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 32
The Huskies surprised last season despite their postseason ban, and Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright are both back.

4. CINCINNATI (team preview)
Postseason prediction:
NCAA Round of 64
Sean Kilpatrick will have to carry the Bearcats offensively at times, but frosh Jermaine Lawrence will make an impact.

5. SMU
Postseason prediction:
NIT
All five starters are back, and they’ll be joined by an outstanding crop of newcomers.

6. TEMPLE
Postseason prediction:
NIT
Khalif Wyatt is going to be difficult to replace, but Fran Dunphy-coached teams always find ways to win.

7. UCF
Remember the name Isiah Sykes. He's one of the best in the league, and one of four starters back for the Knights.

8. RUTGERS
It was a tumultuous offseason for the Scarlet Knights, but that doesn't mean the roster is devoid of talent.

9. HOUSTON
Raise your hand if you knew the Cougars won 20 games last season. A tougher league means that won't happen again.

10. USF
The Bulls were a massive disappointment last season, but Anthony Collins is back to run the show.

AMERICAN AWARDS
Player of the Year: Russ Smith, Louisville
Smith struggled in the Final Four, but he returns after making a major improvement last season. As he was used in the offense more, Smith’s field goal percentage went form 35.6 percent to 41.4 percent.

Best Defensive Player: Geron Johnson, Memphis
The junior college transfer instantly upgraded Memphis in the defensive end with his work on the perimeter.

Most Underrated Player: Anthony Lee, Temple
Lee will need to be underrated no more as the Owls lose a ton from last year’s team. Lee averaged 9.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in 23.8 minutes.

Newcomer of the Year: Chris Jones, Louisville (full list of key newcomers around the AAC)
A dogged defender, Jones steps into an unenviable spot replacing veteran Peyton Siva. He’ll be one of the key cogs in Louisville’s bid to repeat.

Top coach: Rick Pitino, Louisville (full AAC coach rankings)

Coach on the hot seat: Stan Heath, USF (full hot seat list)

Teaser:
College Basketball: 2013-14 American Preview
Post date: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 07:06
All taxonomy terms: Baylor Bears, College Football
Path: /college-football/inside-numbers-baylor-offense-record-setting-pace
Body:

Kansas State’s Bill Snyder isn’t the first coach to be quick with a joke. Maybe that’s why when he says the key to beating Baylor this week is to “keep them from scoring 100 points,” he’s kind of being serious.

Baylor hasn’t hit the 80-point mark yet, but the only team that could stop Baylor from scoring 100 this year would seem to be Baylor.

The Bears are averaging 70.5 points per game this season, 11.3 more per game than Oregon, another team that knows a bit about explosive offense. Indeed, most of Baylor’s damage has come in the first three quarters. Starting quarterback Bryce Petty has attempted nine second-half passes this season. Running back Lache Seastrunk has two carries after halftime, yet he’s still second nationally in rushing yards per game.

When Snyder and his staff look at the film from Baylor’s 73-point, 864-yard throttling of West Virginia, they’ll see a versatile offense that pushes the tempo in ways that would make a handful of basketball teams blush.

“The system is well-defined and the players being in it for a time, whether starters or not, they have a feel for it,” Snyder said. “They spread you out like so many teams do. If you’re putting to many people inside, they throw it outside, if you put people outside they run it inside. The system is not complex, but they execute it very, very well.”

But Kansas State will also find a dominant team in the trenches as West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen saw last week.

“I’ve never seen a team establish the line of scrimmage like they did,” Holgorsen told reporters after the game. “We’ve been pretty proud of how we’ve been playing defense around here for the last five games, and you can’t play defense when the line of scrimmage is pushed back five yards every time they run the ball.”

Under coach Art Briles, Baylor has had a Heisman Trophy winner in Robert Griffin III, an NFL first-round receiver (Kendall Wright, 2012) and two first-round linemen (Jason Smith in 2009 and Danny Watkins in 2011).

But the Baylor offense is running an unprecedented pace through the first four games of 2013. Conventional wisdom says Baylor will cool off as the schedule gets tougher into Big 12 play and especially against top league contenders in November.

Yet Baylor won’t need to keep up this pace to break records. The Bears can cool off in conference play and still break major college football records set by Heisman winners and national championship contenders.

Here’s a look at a few:

TOTAL OFFENSE

The 2011 Houston team, led by quarterback Case Keenum and coach Kevin Sumlin, needed 14 games to get to its total yards record. Baylor could get to that mark, but the much more attainable record would be yards per game. Houston and Heisman winner Andre Ware averaged 642.9 yards per game in 1989. Baylor would need to average 574.6 yards per game in the final eight Big 12 games and the bowl to match. That’s possible as Baylor averaged 582 yards in Big 12 play last season. Baylor is more than 40 percent of the way to Oklahoma’s Big 12 record of 7,670 yards, set in 2008 by a Sooners team led by Heisman winner Sam Bradford.

Also worth watching are the numbers for a balanced offense: Only two teams (1968 Houston and 1973 Arizona State) averaged 300 yards passing and 200 yards rushing. Baylor is averaging better than 400 yards passing and 300 yards rushing.

 RecordBaylor
Yards per game642.9 (1989 Houston)779.5
Total yards8,387 (2011 Houston)10,134*
Yards per play8.6 (2006 Hawaii)9.6
  *current pace

SCORING

Army’s Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside, Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis, are a major part of college football lore, but Baylor is on pace top them by more than two touchdowns per game. And they’re not the only ones Baylor could catch. The 1983 Nebraska offense that averaged seven touchdowns per game was led by quarterback Turner Gill, Heisman winner Mike Rozier and No. 1 overall draft pick Irving Fryar. Baylor is ahead of that trio by nearly two TDs per game.

Again, the Big 12 record watch will focus on Oklahoma, who scored 96 offensive touchdowns in 2008 on the way to the national title game. Baylor already has 35.

 RecordBaylor
Points per game56 (1944 Army)70.5
Offensive TDs per game  7.0 (’83 Nebraska, ’12 La. Tech)8.75
Most offensive TDs96 (2008 Oklahoma)114*
  *current pace

PASSING

With the lopsided scores Baylor has put up, Petty is getting lifted in early in the second half. Unless Big 12 teams play well enough to keep the starting quarterback in the game, he’ll have to settle for records based on efficiency rather than sheer numbers. Petty will threaten Russell Wilson’s passing efficiency rating of 191.8 for Wisconsin in 2011. The Baylor quarterback sits at 229.6.

Backup quarterback Seth Russell hasn’t been so bad, either. Petty and Russell could match passing marks set by 1989 BYU (led by Ty Detmer), 1996 Florida (led by Danny Wuerffel) and 2011 Baylor (led by Griffin). The good news for Petty: All three quarterbacks who helped set team passing records won the Heisman trophy. Only Detmer didn’t win the Heisman in his record season (Detmer won in 1990).

 RecordBaylor
Yards per pass10.9 (1989 BYU)14.2
Yards per completion17.1 (1996 Florida)19.9
Passing efficiency   191.2 (2011 Baylor)218.95

SPEED

There’s not a record kept for the quickest average touchdown drive, but Baylor would have to be pretty close. The average Baylor TD drive takes 82.3 seconds, and many of these aren’t cheap, either. The Bears have started on their own 25 or deeper in their own territory on 20 of 35 touchdown drives this season. The Bears are helped by 11 plays for 50 or more yards in four games, most for any team in the country. Making the feat more impressive is that the next 11 in that category have played five or six games.

The average Baylor touchdown drive covers 65.2 yards on 5.3 plays in 1:21.3. Baylor has had more touchdown drives take less than a minute (14) than have taken more than two (six).

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-superlatives-top-post-players
Body:

 The SEC won’t be the nation’s best basketball league, but one thing’s for sure: It’s going to be tough to bang around in the paint.

The SEC is home to four of Athlon Sports’ top 10 post players for 2013-14 in our ongoing list of college basketball superlatives. Kentucky alone has two in freshman Julius Randle and sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein. Our top 10 does not include Florida’s Patric Young, who enters his final season with much to prove, but he’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so against Kentucky’s duo plus LSU’s Johnny O’Bryant III and Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes.

Meanwhile, the two teams that played for last year’s national title will hope two key players will take their postseason momentum into this season. Mitch McGary carried Michigan to the championship game, and Montrezl Harrell emerged late last season for the title-winning Cardinals.

Randle, though, is the second freshman to top one of our superlatives list with Kansas' Andrew Wiggins topping our countdown of the top 10 slashers.
Our list of the nation’s best post players players is the one in a series of superlatives to prepare you for the 2013-14 season. Each list and more can be found in the the Athlon Sports College Basketball 2013-14 Preseason Annual . The magazine hits newsstands this week with previews for every team in every conference, plus exclusive Q&As with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Louisville’s Russ Smith and UCLA’s Kyle Anderson.

Previous: Inside-Out

  2013-14 Superlatives: Top Post Players
1.Julius Randle, Kentucky
6-9/225, Fr.
Randle could give Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins a run for top freshman honors, though Randle may have a more complete supporting cast around him. John Calipari has described him as a “beast” who reminds him of the gritty Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
2.Mitch McGary, Michigan
6-10/255, So.
McGary was a revelation during the Wolverines’ run to the national championship game. Now, Michigan will see if those numbers can hold up through the course of a full season. With national player of the year Trey Burke gone, McGary will need to maintain his postseason form.
3.Johnny O’Bryant III, LSU
6-9/256, Jr.
O’Bryant will be one of the key cogs in what LSU hopes is its first NCAA Tournament team since 2009. O’Bryant was one of the SEC’s most dominant players in the paint on both ends of the court, averaging 13.6 points and 8.7 rebounds.
4.James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina
6-9/230, Jr.
McAdoo appeared destined for superstardom last season, but like North Carolina’s ACC aspirations, those hopes didn’t materialize. McAdoo put up respectable numbers (14.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg), but he shot only 44.5 percent from the floor. He’ll aim to improve his efficiency as a junior.
5.Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee
6-8/260, Jr.
Stokes battled through double teams last season to average 12.4 points and 9.6 rebounds, but the Volunteers forward improved down the stretch as he adjusted. He’s been one of the SEC’s elite players in the post, but the return of Jeronne Maymon may help him reach another level.
6.Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky
7-0/244, So.
Cauley-Stein flourished late in the season, even before the season-ending injury to Nerlens Noel. Cauley-Stein returned from a midseason injury to average 10.1 points and 7.1 rebounds in the final 12 games. He’ll be a defensive force for the Wildcats as a full-timer.
7.Isaiah Austin, Baylor
7-1/225, So.
Austin may have been disappointed that a shoulder injury prevented him from entering the NBA Draft after one season. If Austin plays with an edge, Baylor cold have one of the top frontcourts in the country.
8.Montrezl Harrell, Louisville
6-8/235, Jr.
Harrell was one of a handful of Cardinals who broke out during Louisville’s title run, starting with 20 points and seven rebound against Syracuse in the Big East tournament championship game. Louisville is moving him to center to replace Gorgui Dieng. Will it hold for the full season?
9.Alex Kirk, New Mexico
7-0/245, Jr.
Kirk returned from back surgery to be one of the keys of New Mexico’s Mountain West championship. The seven-footer averaged 12.1 points and 8.1 rebounds, but he was also a defensive force with 63 blocked shots.
10.Davante Gardner, Marquette
6-8/290, Sr.
Gardner slimmed down as a junior to become an imposing presence down low. Coming off the bench, he averaged 11.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in 21.5 minutes. His physical play pays off as he averaged 83.5 percent on five free throws per game.

Other Post Superlatives
Freshman to watch: Joel Embiid, Kansas
Most to prove: Patric Young, Florida
Returning from injury: Jeronne Maymon, Tennessee
Transfer to watch: Josh Smith, Georgetown (from UCLA)
Breakout to watch: Kaleb Tarczewski, Arizona
Mid-major star: Augustine Rubit, South Alabama

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The shortest season in major sports moves into its second month, and there’s still a ton to learn.

The ACC has two frontrunners in Florida State and Clemson, but neither have been able to get out of their own way in the past. The best of the two could be decided later this month, but a big win for either team will mean little if the Boston Colleges, NC States and Wake Forests of the world continue to be stumbling blocks.

The consensus is that Oregon and Stanford are the one-two punch in the Pac-12. Washington and UCLA will learn if there is room for any other teams among the league’s elite. Either that, or the Huskies and Bruins will find they’re not ready for the national spotlight.

And then there’s the offense-centric SEC, where Ole Miss’ daunting schedule continues into October and Florida tries to move on without two key players.

September was great, but October is when the weather cools and the first BCS standings are released. Here’s a guide to your appointment viewing for the next four weeks.

October’s Top 10 College Football Games

1. Oct. 19 Florida State at Clemson

The ACC Atlantic race and likely the ACC’s only hope of producing a national championship contender hinges on two things: This game in Death Valley and the ability of both teams to avoid their traditional stumble against a league also-ran. Florida State fell behind Boston College by two touchdowns in the second quarter before surging to a 14-point win, and Clemson won ugly in a Thursday night game against NC State two weeks ago. With the way quarterbacks Tajh Boyd and Jameis Winston are playing, this also could be a game to determine postseason hardware. One thing to watch: Maryland could be a spoiler this month, facing Florida State this week and Clemson in College Park on Oct. 26.

2. Oct. 5 Washington at Stanford
The Huskies handed Stanford one of its two losses last season by defeating the Cardinal 17-13. That was before Kevin Hogan took over as starting quarterback for Stanford and before Washington found solid ground offense. The Huskies’ offense is much improved from last season, particularly along the line. Keith Price has been sacked only three times in four games (Washington allowed 38 sacks last season). And Bishop Sankey leads the Pac-12 in rushing. The Stanford defense, though, is just as physical and punishing as ever.

3. Oct. 12 Oregon at Washington
Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox will earn his pay this month. In the second leg in critical two weeks for Washington, The Huskies go from facing a methodical Stanford team to the track meet that is the Oregon offense. As for Oregon, this will be their stiffest test to date this season.

4. Oct. 19 UCLA at Stanford
After Washington, Pac-12 South contender UCLA will take its turn facing the Pac-12 North tandem. Stanford took both meetings last season, defeating the Bruins 35-17 in Pasadena and then 27-24 the following week in the Pac-12 title game. UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley had two of his three worst games in terms of passing efficiency last season against the Cardinal, so he may need to be the difference.

5. Oct. 26 UCLA at Oregon
This is Round Two in UCLA’s road swing from Mordor. Like Washington, UCLA faces Stanford then Oregon. The Bruins have lost four in a row to Oregon as the series returns to Eugene for the fourth time in five meetings (the last was a 49-31 loss in the Pac-12 Championship Game at Autzen Stadium). If the Heisman is going to come from the Pac-12, this could be the key game as Hundley faces Marcus Mariota for the matchup of the best dual-threat quarterbacks West of College Station.

6. Oct. 5 Ohio State at Northwestern
The biggest game in Evanston since at least when Pat Fitzgerald was on the field as a player instead of a coach. The Wildcats will hope Venric Mark is healthy, adding him to an offense that’s been dynamic without him for the first month of the season. With Mark, the Wildcats have the versatile playmakers and dual-threat quarterbacks who have given the Buckeyes trouble during their 17-game win streak.

7. Oct. 18 UCF at Louisville (Friday)
Louisville is cruising and the American Athletic Conference has given the Cardinals little reason to be intimidated by their upcoming schedule — three AAC teams are 0-4, and one has fired its coach. UCF, though, is the exception, The Golden Knights went toe-to-toe with South Carolina last week as the Gamecocks’ needed 28 consecutive points in the second half to put the Knights away. After Blake Bortles passed for 358 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions against the Gamecocks, he showed he might be ready to take on the Cards.

8. Oct. 12 Texas A&M at Ole Miss
The Rebels perhaps showed they weren’t ready to take on the SEC’s elite after losing 25-0 to Alabama, but the brutal schedule continues into October. This will be the first game in Oxford since the Rebels faced Southeast Missouri State on Sept. 7. Will the Grove be preparing for a triumphant 4-1 team or an Ole Miss team riding a two-game losing streak after the road trip to Auburn?

9. Oct. 12 Florida at LSU
Even in this new-look SEC where offense reigns, Florida remains built on tough, physical defense and an offense that prefers to control the clock. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger and his impressive group of receivers were able to pick up points against Georgia, but Florida may have the best pass defense in the league. For the Gators, they’ll find out quickly if injuries to Jeff Driskel and Dominique Easley have eliminated them from SEC contention.

10. Oct. 5 Georgia Tech at Miami
The ACC Coastal has had a quietly eventful two weeks with Georgia Tech defeating North Carolina and Virginia Tech taking out the Yellow Jackets less than a week later. Miami will try to notch its first major win in the division race when it hosts Georgia Tech — which could go from division frontrunner to 2-2 in a span of two weeks.

Other games to watch
Oct. 5 Maryland at Florida State
Oct. 5 Arizona State vs. Notre Dame (in Dallas)
Oct. 12 Oklahoma vs. Texas (in Dallas)
Oct. 12 Michigan at Penn State
Oct. 19 LSU at Ole Miss
Oct. 26 Texas Tech at Oklahoma
Oct. 26 Clemson at Maryland

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 08:00
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 The top three names in our list of inside-out players for 2013-14 each have something to prove.

Creighton’s Doug McDermott returned for his senior season with an opportunity to lead his father’s team in its first season in the Big East. Instead of facing Drake, Bradley and Southern Illinois, he’ll face Georgetown, Villanova and Marquette on a regular basis.

Adreian Payne could have made the leap to the NBA, but Michigan State hasn’t been to the Final Four in the last three seasons in what constitutes a drought for the Spartans.

And Jabari Parker is the superstar freshman who’s gone toe-to-toe with Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins in the AAU circuit. Wiggins may is the No. 1 freshman and the presumptive top pick in the NBA Draft, but Parker will get a crack at him on Nov. 12.

Our list of the nation’s best inside-out players is the one in a series of superlatives to prepare you for the 2013-14 season. Each list and more can be found in the the Athlon Sports College Basketball 2013-14 Preseason Annual . The magazine hits newsstands this week with previews for every team in every conference, plus exclusive Q&As with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Louisville’s Russ Smith and UCLA’s Kyle Anderson.

Previous: Slashers  | Next: Post Players

  2013-14 Superlatives: Top Inside-Out Threats
1.Doug McDermott, Creighton
6-8/225, Sr.
The return of McDermott turns Creighton into an instant contender for the Big East title. If you’re wondering if McDermott was the product of the Missouri Valley, consider that he averaged 26 points in nine games against top-50 RPI teams, including 41 against Final Four-bound Wichita State.
2.Adreian Payne, Michigan State
6-10/240, Sr.
Like Gary Harris, Payne returned to Michigan State to compete for a national championship. A year ago, he was one of the most improved players in the country thanks to his pick-and-pop shooting. He averaged 10.5 points and 7.6 rebounds while making 38.1 percent of his 42 3-point shots.
3.Jabari Parker, Duke
6-8/235, Fr.
Andrew Wiggins and Kentucky’s haul of freshmen are getting more attention, but Parker is in a similar category. Described as a Swiss Army knife kind of a player, Parker will be a matchup nightmare with his versatility, athleticism and scoring ability. He could flourish from any spot on the floor.
4.Rodney Hood, Duke
6-8/215, So.
Mike Krzyzewski hasn’t taken many transfers at Duke, but all three before Hood have been major contributors. Expect the Mississippi State import to follow suit.  He and Parker will be an interchangeable and dangerous twosome for the ACC favorites.
5.Dwight Powell, Stanford
6-10/235, Sr.
Powell averaged 14.9 points and 8.4 rebounds last season, but Stanford may need more from him to escape the NIT. Cardinal coach Johnny Dawkins would like to see him play more aggressively in his final season.
6.Aaron Gordon, Arizona
6-8/219, Fr.
The top newcomer in the Pac-12 turns the Wildcats into a legitimate Final Four contender. Gordon is in a class with Parker, Wiggins and Kentucky’s freshmen with his ability to play any spot on the floor. He’ll play small forward for Arizona but could easily play closer to the basket.
7.C.J. Fair, Syracuse
6-8/215, Sr.
The outlook for Syracuse improved dramatically when Fair elected to return to school. The steady senior led the Orange in scoring (14.5 ppg) and rebounding (seven) while making 46.9 percent of his 3-pointers. One star among a handful last season, he’ll need to take on a lead role for a team that can win the ACC title.
8.Ryan Anderson, Boston College
6-9/216, Jr.
One of the core members of Steve Donahue’s rebuilding effort at Boston College, Anderson anchors the frontcourt in a perimeter-oriented lineup. The 6-9 junior has been to the free throw line 287 times the last two seasons, converting 64.1 percent of the time.
9.LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State
6-8/220, Jr.
Ross took off in the NCAA Tournament, becoming the second scorer Ohio State sorely needed to complement Deshaun Thomas. Now, he’ll need to be the No. 1 option. Ross averaged 15 points per game in four NCAA Tournament games while playing just over 20 minutes per game.
10.JaKarr Sampson, St. John’s
6-9/214, So.
Sampson stepped in as a freshman and led a talent frontcourt by averaging 14.9 points and 6.6 rebounds. Expect him to lead the way again as St. John’s makes a bid to return to the NCAA Tournament.

Other Inside-Out Superlatives:
Freshman to watch: Preston “Chicken” Knowles, Houston
Junior college transfer to watch: Jonathan Holton, West Virginia
On the spot: T.J. Warren, NC State
Breakout candidate: Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh
Underrated: Jamil Wilson, Marquette

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 07:00

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