Articles By Steven Lassan

Path: /college-football/vanderbilt-commodores-vs-ole-miss-rebels-2013-preview-and-prediction

The only conference game in the SEC for Week 1 takes place in Nashville. Vanderbilt hosts Ole Miss in a key early season matchup on Thursday night. The Commodores opened SEC play on Thursday night last year but lost 17-13 to South Carolina.

Both teams – for different reasons – have been in the spotlight this offseason. Vanderbilt is dealing with the fallout from an off-the-field scandal involving four former players and suspended receiver Chris Boyd.

In Oxford, the Rebels reeled in one of the nation’s top recruiting classes and hope to make another jump in the SEC standings in 2013. Coach Hugh Freeze brought dramatic improvement to Ole Miss last year, and the addition of a top-10 recruiting class will immediately help address a lack of depth.

Vanderbilt has won five out of the last six meetings against Ole Miss, including a 27-26 thriller in Oxford last year. The Commodores also enter this game riding a four-game winning streak in SEC play.

Three Things to Watch

Quarterback play
Vanderbilt’s Austyn Carta-Samuels made one start last season, throwing for 195 yards and one touchdown in a win over Presbyterian. But the senior has attempted just three passes in SEC play, and won’t have the services of Boyd for this game. Carta-Samuels started two years at Wyoming before transferring to Vanderbilt, so he won’t be intimated by making a Thursday night debut in the SEC. With a solid defense and rushing attack, the Commodores won’t need Carta-Samuels to win the game. However, he has to avoid turnovers against an Ole Miss defense that generated 28 last year.

On the Ole Miss sideline, there’s plenty of anxiety about Bo Wallace. In his first season with the Rebels last year, Wallace threw for 2,994 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushed for 390 yards and eight scores. However, Wallace also tossed 17 picks and had shoulder surgery after the bowl win over Pittsburgh. Although all signs point to a full recovery by Wallace, Missouri’s James Franklin had shoulder surgery last year and was never 100 percent. Vanderbilt’s secondary is one of the best in the SEC, so this should be a good test for Wallace and his right shoulder.   

Stepping up at Receiver
Both teams will be without key pieces in the receiving corps. Boyd is suspended for Vanderbilt, while Ole Miss lost Vince Sanders to a collarbone injury in fall camp. Neither team has a standout option at tight end, but the Rebels have more depth at receiver. True freshman Laquon Treadwell was a huge catch on the recruiting trail and is expected to start on Thursday night. Ole Miss also has another proven option to fill Sanders’ role in senior Ja-Mes Logan.

But who steps up for Vanderbilt? Is it senior Jonathan Krause or freshman Jordan Cunningham? Senior Jordan Matthews is one of the nation’s best receivers, but he will see plenty of extra attention from Ole Miss’ secondary unless Krause, Cunningham or someone else emerges as a reliable target.

Ole Miss DE Robert Nkemdiche
The nation’s No. 1 recruit didn’t disappoint in fall practice, securing a starting spot for Thursday night’s game. Vanderbilt’s offensive line has made considerable progress over the last few seasons, with senior tackle Wesley Johnson one of the most underrated players in the SEC. And if Nkemdiche isn’t matched up against Johnson, he will likely face junior Andrew Bridges, who has 13 starts under his belt. It’s unrealistic to expect the true freshman to dominate the line of scrimmage in his first game. But Nkemdiche is a difference maker for Ole Miss and should play a key role in the outcome of Thursday night’s matchup.

Key Player: Wesley Tate, RB, Vanderbilt
Zac Stacy leaves behind big shoes to fill in the Vanderbilt backfield. Brian Kimbrow and Wesley Tate should be a solid one-two combination for coach James Franklin, but Tate is expected to be the workhorse this year. The senior has 542 yards and nine scores in his career and has 39 receptions for 328 yards. With Boyd suspended, Tate could play a key role in the passing attack. Even though Carta-Samuels has experience, Vanderbilt doesn’t want to ask too much of him in his first start in the SEC. Expect to see plenty of Tate on Thursday night. 

Final Analysis

These two teams are essentially a mirror image of each other. Thanks to home-run hires at head coach, both programs are on the rise in the SEC. Both coaching staffs have quarterback concerns heading into this game. And both offenses will be missing the No. 2 receiver from last year.

There’s not much separation between the Commodores and Rebels, but with the uncertainty over Wallace’s shoulder, and this game in Nashville, a slight edge goes to Vanderbilt. 

Prediction: Vanderbilt 24, Ole Miss 20

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Vanderbilt Commodores vs. Ole Miss Rebels 2013 Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/north-carolina-tar-heels-vs-south-carolina-gamecocks-preview-and-prediction

College football’s 2013 season kicks off with an ACC-SEC matchup between North Carolina and South Carolina. The Tar Heels were ineligible to play in the postseason last year but compiled an impressive 8-4 record in coach Larry Fedora’s first year. The Gamecocks went 11-2 in 2012, defeating Georgia and rival Clemson in impressive fashion.

Even though both teams are coming off a good season, the stakes are even higher in 2013. South Carolina’s schedule should allow it to be a factor in the national title conversation. North Carolina is one of the frontrunners to win the ACC’s Coastal Division and could improve on last year’s 8-4 mark.  

These two teams have played only once since 1992, with South Carolina winning 21-15 in 2007. The Tar Heels lost their last game against an SEC opponent, dropping a 30-24 contest to LSU in Atlanta in 2010.

Three Things to Watch

North Carolina’s offensive line
The Tar Heels had one of the ACC’s best offensive lines last season, allowing less than one sack per game and paving the way for running backs to average 5.1 yards per carry. However, three new starters will step into the lineup on Thursday night. Guard Jonathan Cooper was the biggest loss for North Carolina, but left tackle James Hurst is one of the ACC’s best linemen, and center Russell Bodine started all 12 games last year and was named to the Rimington watch list (nation’s best center) for 2013. Hurst and Bodine is a good place to start the rebuilding effort up front, but the rest of the line will be under pressure against South Carolina’s defensive line, which is arguably the best in college football with All-American Jadeveon Clowney leading the way off the edge. Guards Caleb Peterson (redshirt freshman) and Landon Turner (sophomore) have very little experience, and right tackle Jon Heck redshirted last year. North Carolina has good size in the trenches, but this is a huge test for a revamped line in the first game of the year.

Dylan Thompson or Connor Shaw?
South Carolina has two quarterbacks its feels comfortable with, and coach Steve Spurrier has hinted he plans on getting both on the field at the same time. Connor Shaw threw for 1,956 yards and 17 scores last season, while Dylan Thompson threw for 1,027 yards and 10 touchdowns. Shaw is the better runner, recording 435 yards and three scores on 131 attempts. Whether it’s Shaw or Thompson at quarterback, South Carolina has to find a couple of reliable receivers. Bruce Ellington is questionable to play with a hamstring injury, which means Damiere Byrd, Shaq Roland and Nick Jones needs to step up for the Gamecocks’ passing attack. There’s no question South Carolina can win with both quarterbacks. But it’s uncertain how this quarterback rotation or depth chart will play out in 2013. North Carolina’s defense struggled to stop the pass last year, and even if Ellington is sidelined, stopping Thompson and Shaw is a tough assignment.

Setting the tempo
One way for North Carolina to neutralize South Carolina’s advantage in the trenches is with tempo. The Tar Heels averaged 75 plays a game last season, which is 10 more than the Gamecocks averaged on offense in 2012. With another offseason to learn Fedora’s offense, North Carolina should pickup the tempo even more in 2013. And if the Tar Heels can keep South Carolina’s defense on the field, it should help to wear down some of the linemen, allowing Renner more time to throw in the pocket.

Key Player: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
South Carolina is deep and talented on the defensive line, but the linebacking corps will feature three new starters this year. Ebron’s ability to work the middle of the field to take advantage of the inexperienced defenders could be crucial in this matchup. The junior caught 40 passes for 625 yards and four scores last season, and the coaching staff wants him to be even more involved with the offense in 2013. Thursday night would be a good place for Ebron to deliver.

Final Analysis

If North Carolina can dictate the tempo and wear out South Carolina’s defense, then Fedora’s team will have a chance to win. However, the Gamecocks offense will present plenty of problems for the Tar Heels. Thompson and Shaw are capable of leading this offense on scoring drives, while running back Mike Davis is a rising star. Expect North Carolina to move the ball at times, but South Carolina’s defense will be too much in the end.

South Carolina 31, North Carolina 23

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North Carolina Tar Heels vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 09:32
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-2013-week-1-upset-predictions

Week 1 of the college football season officially kicks off on Thursday night, headlined by an intriguing non-conference matchup between North Carolina and South Carolina, along with a key SEC contest in Nashville with Vanderbilt hosting Ole Miss. But that’s not all of the action this weekend. Clemson-Georgia, LSU-TCU and Virginia Tech-Alabama are just a few of the other big matchups for Week 1. The favorites can't win every game each week, so it's no surprise one of the most popular discussion points every Saturday is upset picks. Each week on, the editors will give an upset pick for the upcoming week of action.

College Football's Week 1 Upset Predictions

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): Boise State (+3.5) over Washington
Considering the low spread, it’s hard to call this one an upset. But I’m short on other choices, so Boise State is the pick. The Broncos beat Washington in the Las Vegas Bowl, and Chris Petersen’s team returns a good chunk of its core from last year. The offense should be better in quarterback Joe Southwick’s second season, and the defense returns five starters from a unit that ranked 12th nationally in fewest yards allowed. This matchup is a huge game for both teams. A win by Boise State will put it in the driver’s seat to make another run at an at-large spot in a BCS bowl. For Washington, this will be the first game in the newly renovated Husky Stadium, and with a challenging schedule, the contest is a must-win if the Huskies want to win more than seven games. Boise State’s secondary is a concern, but Washington’s offensive line may not give quarterback Keith Price enough time to throw for the passing attack to exploit an inexperienced pass defense. 

David Fox (@DavidFox615): Louisiana-Lafayette over Arkansas (-10.5)
A disclaimer: When we do these upset picks each week, I’m going to be bold. We’re supposed to pick any upset, but where’s the risk (and fun) in picking two-point underdog to win? I’m going to try to focus on upsets with a point spread of at least a touchdown. Go big or go home, right? That’s why I’ve picked Louisiana-Lafayette over Arkansas. The Razorbacks won’t be the mess they were early last season under John L. Smith, but they won’t be that good either. Junior quarterback Terrence Broadway finished last season on a hot streak and could cause similar problems ULM’s Kolton Browning did for Arkansas last season. No one would say the Sun Belt is gaining on any major conference, but the good Sun Belt teams are beating the bad SEC teams at a rate we haven’t seen before. This is one the Sun Belt can win.

Mark Ross: North Carolina (+11.5) over South Carolina
Yes, this game is in Columbia, the home team hails from the SEC, has the one-man wrecking crew named Jadeveon Clowney and a pretty stout defense over all. However, I'm a little more skeptical of the Gamecocks' offense whereas North Carolina's attack is all about tempo. Unless SC just completely shuts down the Tar Heels, NC's pace and the number of plays the offense runs alone could be enough to wear down, or at least slow down, Clowney and the rest of the pass rush. Granted, the Tar Heels will need most, if not all, of the breaks and bounces to go their way, especially on defense, but what's not to say the Gamecocks aren't looking ahead to next Saturday's game? It's probably the fan in me more than anything, but I'll take Renner and the Heels to steal one away from the home team.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
I will go bold with the Fightin' Ragin' Hudspeths to go into Fayetteville and win over the Arkansas Razorbacks. UL Lafayette is the frontrunner to win the Sun Belt and has a nice nucleus returning for 2013. The Hogs have proven they can be beaten at home by a small school from Louisiana, as Monroe did just that last year. If Arkansas is too excited about the start of the Bret Bielema era — or too distracted by @JenBielema twitter pictures — and not focused entirely on beating a very good Ragin' Cajuns team, they could start the new regime's era in very disappointing fashion.

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College Football 2013 Week 1 Upset Predictions
Post date: Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 09:27
Path: /college-football/acc-2013-week-1-preview-and-predictions

Most of the ACC should have an easy Week 1 victory, but there are a few marquee matchups that will play a role in the national and conference title picture.

The showdown between Georgia and Clemson is easily one of the best games of the opening weekend. Both teams should have no trouble moving the ball on suspect defenses. The Bulldogs came up just a few yards short of playing for the national championship last year, and if the Tigers want to remain in the hunt for the 2013 BCS title, they need to beat Georgia. And this matchup, along with North Carolina-South Carolina is a chance for the ACC to gain conference bragging rights and respect.

The only conference game in the ACC takes place in Pittsburgh. Florida State travels to the Steel City to welcome the Panthers to the ACC on Labor Day. This game also features the much anticipated debut of quarterback Jameis Winston, while the Panthers will turn to former Rutgers’ passer Tom Savage to start under center.

More Week 1 Previews: Big 12 Big Ten Pac-12 SEC

ACC Week 1 Game Power Rankings

1. Georgia (-2) at Clemson (8 ET, ABC)
It’s only Week 1, but the Georgia-Clemson matchup should factor prominently into the national title picture. Georgia has one of the toughest two-game stretches of any FBS team to start the year, so the Bulldogs can’t afford to get off to a slow start. Clemson should be favored in all of its ACC games in 2013, with its two matchups against SEC opponents – Georgia and South Carolina – the toughest ones on the schedule. There should be plenty of fireworks on Saturday night in Death Valley, as both teams averaged over 35 points a game last year. Clemson will miss running back Andre Ellington and receiver DeAndre Hopkins, but quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins is still one of the best duos in the nation. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray needs five touchdown passes to reach 100 in his career, and the senior has the best backfield in the nation at his disposal with Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. There’s no question both teams should score plenty of points. But which can make stops on defense? Georgia is returns only three starters on defense and has been dealing with a few injuries in its secondary this fall. Clemson is in better shape in terms of returning personnel on defense, but the Tigers’ secondary is also an issue. And that's a big concern against Murray and the Bulldogs’ receiving corps.

2. Florida State (-10.5) at Pittsburgh (Monday, 8 ET, ESPN)
The Steel City is home to the only conference game between ACC opponents this week. Pittsburgh makes its ACC debut against Florida State – a team it has not played since 1983. While the Panthers’ introduction to the ACC is a huge storyline, this game features the debut of quarterback Jameis Winston for the Seminoles. Winston was the No. 1 quarterback in the 2012 signing class by Athlon Sports and was impressive throughout the offseason. Winston redshirted last year, so his first snap of college experience will come on the road. Although Winston has enormous upside, he is surrounded by a strong supporting cast, which should allow coach Jimbo Fisher to ease him into the game. The Seminoles have a new defensive coordinator (Jeremy Pruitt) and will shift to more 3-4 looks for this game. Even with a rebuilt defense and scheme, Pittsburgh could have trouble moving the ball on Florida State. Quarterback Tom Savage hasn’t played in a game since 2010, and running back Isaac Bennett has been dealing with injuries in fall camp. The Panthers return eight starters on defense, and this unit needs to force a few turnovers to help its offense on Monday night.

3. North Carolina (+12.5) at South Carolina (Thursday, 6 ET, ESPN)
In a bit of a surprise, these two schools have played only once since 1992. South Carolina won the last meeting 21-15 in Chapel Hill. This year, the stakes are much higher. The Gamecocks are considered one of the top threats to win the national title, while North Carolina is positioned to make a run at the ACC Championship. South Carolina’s strength is on defense, where end Jadeveon Clowney is a legitimate top-five Heisman candidate this year. Stopping Clowney is a tough obstacle for the Tar Heels, especially on an offensive line that loses guard Jonathan Cooper and two other starters. But left tackle James Hurst is one of the ACC’s best, and he will be tasked with protecting the blindside of quarterback Bryn Renner. North Carolina likes to go fast on offense, and its tempo could help slow down the South Carolina pass rush. Even if the Tar Heels move the ball on offense, their defense will have its hands full on Thursday night. The Gamecocks have two quarterbacks that could start, and running back Mike Davis is a rising star. North Carolina’s offense should have success, but its defense may not be able to stop South Carolina.

4. Alabama (-20) vs. Virginia Tech (Atlanta) (5:30 ET, ESPN)
In terms of name value, this game has plenty of appeal. However, this matchup is shaping up to be a huge mismatch. Alabama begins its national title defense with 14 returning starters, including quarterback AJ McCarron and linebacker C.J. Mosley. Virginia Tech stumbled to a 7-6 mark last year, and the Hokies have several question marks entering this contest. The offensive line struggled throughout fall camp, and a true freshman (Jonathan McLaughlin) is slated to start at left tackle. But the Hokies’ problems extend to the rushing attack and receivers, and quarterback Logan Thomas is still trying to get comfortable in new coordinator Scot Loeffler’s offense. Mobile quarterbacks have given Alabama trouble in recent years, so Thomas will have to take advantage of his legs when things break down in the pocket. Virginia Tech’s defense is its best chance at winning this game. The Hokies have one of the best defenses in the nation and will be going up against a Crimson Tide offensive line with three new starters. Expect McCarron and receivers Amari Cooper and Chris Black to test a secondary with two talented freshmen expected to see major snaps (Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson).

5. Penn State (-8) vs. Syracuse (East Rutherford, N.J.) (3:30 ET, ABC)
The Nittany Lions and Orange have recently rekindled a rivalry that was played nearly every season from 1922-90. After a hiatus from 1990-2007, Penn State claimed victories in 2008 and 2009 over Syracuse. Both teams enter this matchup in transition, as the Orange will be entering the ACC this season and are under the direction of a new coach (Scott Shafer). The Nittany Lions lose a few key leaders from last year’s team, and coach Bill O’Brien has yet to name a quarterback. Junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson or highly touted true freshman Christian Hackenberg will start on Saturday. And whichever quarterback wins the job will be surrounded by a solid supporting cast, including All-Big Ten receiver Allen Robinson and three starters on the line. Syracuse also has a quarterback question mark, with Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen and sophomore Terrel Hunt vying for time. The Orange’s rushing attack – led by junior Jerome Smith – will test a Penn State defensive line that is thin on depth and returns just three starters in its front seven. With two new starting quarterbacks, a low-scoring game wouldn’t be a surprise.

6. BYU (-1) at Virginia (3:30 ET, ESPNU)
One of the opening week’s most-intriguing non-conference affairs takes place in Charlottesville. The Cougars have a challenging schedule ahead in their third season of Independence, while Virginia has its sights set on a rebound after going 4-8 last year. The strength of both teams is clearly on defense. BYU returns All-American linebacker Kyle Van Noy and three other starters on defense from a unit that allowed only 14 points a game in 2012. The Cavaliers return seven starters on a defense that ranked fourth in the ACC in yards allowed. Points could be at a premium on Saturday, and both offenses can’t afford the ill-timed turnover. David Watford topped Greyson Lambert for the Cavaliers’ starting quarterback spot, and the sophomore’s mobility will present a challenge for BYU’s defense. New Cougars’ quarterback Taysom Hill played in six games last year before a knee injury sidelined him for the rest of 2012. Both teams have good skill players, so whichever quarterback plays the best game will be the difference in this too close to call matchup.

7. Louisiana Tech (+14) at NC State (12:30 ET, ACC Network)
The Bulldogs and Wolfpack share plenty of similarities going into this game. Both programs have a new coach (Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech and Dave Doeren, NC State). And both teams have a new starting quarterback that transferred from a BCS conference. Doeren has been coy with his quarterback choice, but Arkansas transfer Brandon Mitchell is expected to start this Saturday. The Bulldogs will turn to former Texas Tech passer Scotty Young. This is a dangerous spot for NC State, especially with a new quarterback and schemes on both sides of the ball. Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon (1,194 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2012) will test a Wolfpack run defense that allowed 154.8 yards per game last year. Louisiana Tech has only five returning starters, so this is a drastically different team than the one that went 9-3 last year.

8. Villanova (+16.5) at Boston College (12 ET, ESPN3)
The Eagles open the Steve Addazio era with a dangerous FCS opponent. The Wildcats ranked No. 9 in the first FCS poll for 2013 and return quarterback John Robertson (2,986 total yards and 28 scores last year). These two teams have not met since 1980, with Boston College holding a 29-15-1 series edge. The Eagles return plenty of experience with 16 returning starters, and quarterback Chase Rettig and receiver Alex Amidon should be one of the top pass-catch combinations in the ACC. Addazio wants the Eagles to establish the run more in 2013, and senior running back Andre Williams will test a Villanova defense that allowed 156.2 yards per game last year. Don Brown comes to Boston College after coordinating one of the nation’s top defenses at Connecticut. The Eagles should be more aggressive on defense in 2013 and will make for an intriguing matchup against Villanova’s offense. 

9. FAU (+32) at Miami (Friday 8 ET, ESPNU)
Less than 50 miles separate these two campuses, but this will be the first matchup between Miami and FAU. Although they have never played before, the Hurricanes and Owls have some history. Legendary coach Howard Schnellenberger played a key role in developing both programs, and this is the first meeting in a three-game series. The Hurricanes are still under a cloud of NCAA uncertainty, but the talent is in place to finally win the ACC Coastal. FAU has plenty of question marks surrounding its team entering the second year under coach Carl Pelini. The Owls won two out of their last five games and return 13 starters. However, replacing quarterback Graham Wilbert has been a chore for the coaching staff this offseason, and three quarterbacks could play on Friday night. Junior college transfer JaQuez Johnson is expected to start, but freshmen Greg Hankerson and D.J. Juste could play. The Hurricanes shouldn’t have to sweat too much in this one, and the Owls’ defense will be a good opportunity for quarterback Stephen Morris to get acclimated to new coordinator James Coley.

10. FIU (+22) at Maryland (12:30 ET, FSN)
After a season filled with quarterback injuries, the Terrapins are hoping for better luck in the injury department in 2013. C.J. Brown will assume the No. 1 role after missing all of last year with a torn ACL, and the senior will be throwing to one of the nation’s top receivers in Stefon Diggs. Maryland’s defense ranked third in the ACC in yards allowed  in 2012, but only four starters return this season. While the defense will be a work in progress in 2013, FIU’s offense shouldn’t provide much of a test for the Terrapins. New FIU coach Ron Turner does have a solid quarterback to work with (Jake Medlock), but running back Kedrick Rhodes was dismissed from the team this offseason. The Panthers also return only two starters on defense. Maryland had a close call against William & Mary in last year’s opener, but Randy Edsall’s team shouldn’t struggle to beat FIU.

11. Elon (+46) at Georgia Tech (12 ET, ESPN3)
The Yellow Jackets have a light start to the 2013 season. Paul Johnson’s team hosts an Elon team coming off a 3-8 record last year and then has a bye week next Saturday. The Phoenix are led by former NC State assistant Jason Swepson and are 0-5 in previous matchups against FBS opponents. Elon’s rush defense allowed 229.6 yards per game last season and will have a difficult assignment trying to slow down Georgia Tech’s option attack. Quarterback Vad Lee will make his first start for the Yellow Jackets, and the sophomore is in for a breakout year after rushing for 544 yards and nine scores in a backup role last year. With Elon breaking in a new starting quarterback and struggling to stop the run on defense, Georgia Tech should have no trouble putting away the Phoenix early on Saturday.

12. North Carolina Central (+33) at Duke (3 ET, ESPN3)
The Blue Devils enter 2013 with momentum on their side. Duke is coming off its first bowl appearance since 1994, and the program is positioned to close the gap on the rest of the ACC. The Blue Devils open with a FCS opponent for the fifth time in six seasons. Quarterback Anthony Boone performed well in limited action last year, throwing for 212 yards and four touchdowns in a win against Virginia. The junior will make his second career start against North Carolina Central on Saturday night, a team Duke defeated 54-17 in 2012. The Eagles are coming off their first winning season (6-5) since 2007 but return only eight starters. North Carolina Central is also dealing with some offseason controversy, as Henry Frazier was fired in late August after an arrest for violating a domestic violence protective order. Duke should be able to have this one in control by halftime.

13. Presbyterian (+38) at Wake Forest (Thursday, 6:30 ET, ESPN3)
Injuries and youth played a role in the Demon Deacons’ struggles last year, so there’s plenty of optimism in Winston-Salem about returning to a bowl game in 2013. Wake Forest has 15 returning starters, and the offense received good news in the offseason when running back Josh Harris won an appeal to play his senior year. Presbyterian is one of the nation’s smallest colleges with an enrollment of 1,200, and the Blue Hose are just 8-36 over their last four years. It’s tough for Wake Forest to glean much from this game, especially after Presbyterian allowed 502.5 yards per game last season. However, the Demon Deacons are hoping to see progress from their offensive line after allowing 2.3 sacks a game in 2012. With an ACC game next week against Boston College, this should be a good tune-up for Wake Forest.

ACC Week 1 Pivotal Players

Clemson’s secondary
The Tigers’ depth chart didn’t give much clarity to the cornerback situation for the opener against Georgia. Both cornerback spots had a designed or between two players. Juniors Garry Peters, Bashaud Breeland and Martin Jenkins, along with senior Darius Robinson will be under fire on Saturday night. Georgia’s offense is led by senior quarterback Aaron Murray, and receiver Malcolm Mitchell is one of the best in the SEC. The Tigers gave up 240.3 yards per game through the air last year, and the secondary is one of the team’s biggest concerns for the opener.

Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
In order for the Tar Heels to hang around on Thursday night, Ebron needs to have a big game. As a sophomore last year, he grabbed 40 receptions for 625 yards and four touchdowns. Ebron will be matched up against a South Carolina defense that has three new starters at linebacker. Considering quarterback Bryn Renner will be under pressure from the Gamecocks’ defensive line, Ebron is a nice safety valve to have in the middle of the field. 

Jonathan McLaughlin, OT, Virginia Tech
A true freshman starting at left tackle is never a good feeling for any head coach. But that task is an even bigger nightmare when Alabama is the Week 1 opponent. McLaughlin won the starting left tackle job this fall and is tasked with protecting the blindside of quarterback Logan Thomas. Expect the Crimson Tide to use plenty of different looks to confuse McLaughlin on Saturday night.

Jerome Smith, RB, Syracuse
Regardless of whether it’s Drew Allen or Terrel Hunt at quarterback on Saturday, Syracuse should plan on a heavy dose of Smith. The junior rushed for 1,171 yards and three scores last season and will test a Penn State defensive line that is thin on proven depth. If Smith can keep the chains moving, he will take some of the pressure off of Syracuse’s inexperienced quarterbacks.

David Watford, QB, Virginia
There’s not much separating Virginia and BYU this Saturday, but both teams have some uncertainty at quarterback. Watford redshirted after throwing for 346 yards and three touchdowns as a true freshman in 2011. BYU ranked third nationally in total defense last season and should be solid up front once again in 2013. However, the secondary has been hit hard by injuries and could be vulnerable to the Cavaliers’ passing attack.

ACC Week 1 Predictions

GameDavid FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
UNC (+12) at South CarolinaSo. Carolina 24-14So. Carolina 28-13So. Carolina 31-23So. Carolina 28-15
Presbyterian (+38) at Wake ForestWake Forest 42-7Wake Forest 34-7Wake Forest 45-7Wake Forest 40-10
FAU (+32.5) at MiamiMiami 49-10Miami 41-17Miami 45-13Miami 43-10
Villanova (+16.5) at Boston CollegeBC 34-10BC 20-7BC 27-13BC 31-10
Elon (+46) at Georgia TechGa. Tech 52-10Ga. Tech 51-10Ga. Tech 51-10Ga. Tech 53-12
La. Tech (+14) at NC StateNC State 28-10NC State 30-17NC State 34-20NC State 31-14
FIU (+22) at MarylandMaryland 31-13Maryland 31-7Maryland 38-13Maryland 31-7
Penn State (-8) vs. SyracusePenn State 17-7Penn State 24-17Penn State 24-17Penn State 20-10
BYU (-1) at VirginiaBYU 21-10BYU 17-14BYU 27-24BYU 23-20
N.C. Central (+33) at DukeDuke 35-17Duke 34-13Duke 45-7Duke 34-10
Alabama (-20) vs. Virginia TechAlabama 41-14Alabama 41-14Alabama 34-13Alabama 34-14
Georgia (-2) at ClemsonClemson 38-35Georgia 34-31Georgia 38-34Georgia 34-27
FSU (-10.5) at PittsburghFSU 38-10FSU 31-14FSU 27-13FSU 24-7


ACC Week 1 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas A&M Aggies, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/johnny-manziel-suspended-half-against-rice-autograph-scandal

The autograph scandal involving Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is over. After meeting with the defending Heisman winner and reviewing the facts in the case, Manziel will only be suspended for the first half of Saturday’s game against Rice.

In addition to missing the first half of Saturday’s contest, Manziel will have to address the team about the lessons learned from this situation, and Texas A&M will have to revise its education about student-athlete autographs. Seriously, we aren’t making that up.

Manziel is expected to play in the second half against the Owls, but most importantly, the sophomore’s status isn’t in question for the huge SEC West showdown against Alabama on Sept. 14.

Texas A&M and NCAA released a joint statement concerning Manziel and the investigation surrounding his status:

Statement from Texas A&M University System Chancellor, John Sharp:

“I am proud of the way both Coach Sumlin and Johnny handled this situation, with integrity and honesty. We all take the Aggie Code of Honor very seriously and there is no evidence that either the university or Johnny violated that code.”

Statement from Texas A&M Director of Athletics Eric Hyman:

“Texas A&M University would like to thank the NCAA staff, not only for its fairness and professionalism throughout this process, but also for the expediency of its actions.  Texas A&M is a proud member of the NCAA and the Southeastern Conference and, as such, we will continue to abide by the rules governing the association and the conference.  Texas A&M is committed to competing with integrity and sportsmanship, and we will continue to ensure strict compliance guidelines for our student-athletes, coaches and supporters.” 

Statement from NCAA Vice President of Academic and Membership Affairs Kevin Lennon:

“Student-athletes are often asked for autographs from fans, but unfortunately, some individuals’ sole motivation in seeking an autograph is for resale. It is important that schools are cognizant and educate student-athletes about situations in which there is a strong likelihood that the autograph seeker plans to resell the items.”

Texas A&M and the NCAA will have no further comment on this matter.


Johnny Manziel Suspended for a Half Against Rice for Autograph Scandal
Post date: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 17:40
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-august-28

One more day until kickoff.

Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Wednesday, August 28th

Oklahoma State's starting left tackle Devin Davis has been lost for the year due to a torn ACL. And here are some freshmen to watch from the Cowboys in 2013.

The Sporting News' Matt Hayes goes around the nation with his first-and-10 column. Also, some good insight in the Sporting News' weekly exit poll.

Lost Lettermen takes a look at five crazy Alabama fans.

The quarterback battle between Andrew Maxwell and Connor Cook is just beginning at Michigan State.

Louisville defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin was injured in a hit-and-run accident. 

USC athletic director Pat Haden thinks Lane Kiffin will pick a quarterback after the first or second game of 2013.

Georgia's secondary will be littered with inexperience against Clemson.

Boston College gained the services of a transfer this week.

Northern Illinois will be without its starting running back against Iowa.

West Virginia has decided to redshirt running back Andrew Buie in 2013.

Syracuse wants Terrel Hunt and Drew Allen to be ready to play against Penn State.

Two Georgia Tech receivers are suspended for the season opener.

Austyn Carta-Samuels took an interesting path to Vanderbilt.

Here are 10 coordinators to watch in 2013.

Pittsburgh may be without running back Isaac Bennett for its opener against Florida State.

Texas defensive tackle Ashton Dorsey has decided to transfer.

The Big Ten Network takes a look at some freshmen to watch in 2013.

College Football's Link Roundup: August 28
Post date: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 15:03
Path: /college-football/michigan-state-sticks-andrew-maxwell-qb

Michigan State’s offense ranked near the bottom of the Big Ten in scoring and total yards per game last season, so it was no surprise when coach Mark Dantonio opened up the quarterback battle this spring.

However, Andrew Maxwell held onto the starting job and will open the year as the No. 1 quarterback against Western Michigan.

Although Maxwell is the starter, Dantonio plans to play Connor Cook against the Broncos. Tyler O’Conner and true freshman Damion Terry may play this season, but both are behind Maxwell and Cook for now.

Andrew Maxwell started all 13 games last season but finished with just 2,606 passing yards and 13 touchdowns. He also tossed nine picks and did not play well in the bowl game against TCU.

Michigan State’s defense should be one of the best in the Big Ten this year. But if the Spartans are going to make another trip to Indianapolis, the offense has to show big improvement.

Michigan State Sticks With Andrew Maxwell at QB
Post date: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 10:49
Path: /college-football/college-football-2013-conference-and-national-title-predictions

With kickoff for the 2013 college football season just around the corner, there’s just enough time for one more set of predictions.

Athlon’s editors met before the preseason magazine was released to iron out the predictions after spring practice was completed. But there wasn’t a consensus on every conference title race or the top 25 rankings.

Louisville, Ohio State and Tulsa were the only unanimous conference title predictions, and there was plenty of disagreement in the Big 12, ACC, Big Ten and even the SEC.

Alabama is widely considered the favorite to claim the 2013 BCS title, but the Crimson Tide wasn’t selected by all four editors to play for the national championship. Ohio State, Oregon and Stanford also drew mentions in the BCS title predictions. 

Will the SEC's title run continue in 2013? Or will Ohio State, Oregon or Stanford end the SEC's dominance? 

College Football's 2013 Conference and National Title Predictions

 Steven LassanMark RossBraden GallDavid Fox
ACC Coastal:
ACC Atlantic:
ACC Champion:
American Athletic: 
Big 12: 
Big Ten Leaders:
Big Ten Legends:
Big Ten Champion:
C-USA East: 
C-USA West:
C-USA Champion:
MAC East:
MAC West:
MAC Champion:
MW Mountain:
MW West:
MW Champion:
Pac-12 North:
Pac-12 South:
Pac-12 Champion:
SEC East:
SEC West:
SEC Champion:
Sun Belt:
National Title: Alabama over Ohio StateOregon over Ohio StateAlabama over StanfordAlabama over Stanford

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College Football Bowl Projections for 2013
10 Players That Will Decide the National Title in 2013
College Football's Top 35 Breakout Players for 2013
Top 10 Darkhorses to Win the National Title
The Top 100 Players of the BCS Era
College Football's Top 25 Running Back Units for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Wide Receiver Corps for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Offensive Lines for 2013
College Football's All-Name Team for 2013

College Football 2013 Conference and National Title Predictions
Post date: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/ranking-all-125-college-football-coaches-hot-seat-2013

Coaches are always a hot topic during any college football season. And once the calendar turns to late October, replacements and potential firings will dominate the headlines even more.

There’s a difference between a coach on the hot seat and the overall pressure surrounding a coach. And it’s not always easy to tell the difference between the two categories. But Athlon Sports has tried to come up with a ranking of all 125 coaches with hot seat and overall pressure on the program in mind.

UNLV’s Bobby Hauck and USC’s Lane Kiffin are clearly on the hot seat entering 2013. Hauck has won just two games in each of his three seasons with the Rebels, while Kiffin – even though he received a vote of confidence from athletic director Pat Haden – can’t afford to have another 7-6 season. Connecticut’s Paul Pasqualoni and Eastern Michigan’s Ron English are also two coaches that need to show progress in order to stick around for 2013.

When it comes to pressure on a head coach from on a down year, look no further than Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer and Utah’s Kyle Whittingham. Both coaches rank inside of the top 50 of the preseason 125 hot seat rankings, but neither coach is in any danger of losing their job. The ranking for those two coaches is more about the pressure on surrounding the program after a down year.

Ranking all 125 coaches when it comes to hot seat/pressure surrounding the program is an impossible task. Keep in mind, just because a coach ranks high on the list doesn’t mean we think he will be fired at the end of the year. Also, there’s really no separation from No. 28-100 on this list. So don’t get too caught up in the No. 55 or No. 76 ranked coach.

Ranking All 125 CFB Coaches on Hot Seat/Pressure on Program to Win in 2013

1Bobby Hauck6-32 (3 years)Hauck has won just two games in each of UNLV's three seasons.
2Lane Kiffin25-13 (3 years)Kiffin got the vote of confidence from AD Pat Haden.
3Paul Pasqualoni10-14 (2 years)Defense has been good, but offense has struggled mightily.
4Ron English10-38 (4 years)EMU is one of the toughest jobs in college football.
5Mack Brown150-43 (15 years)Pieces are in place for Texas to make a Big 12 title run.
6Tim Beckman2-10 (1 year)Could he survive another 2-10 or 3-9 record?
7Dan Enos13-24 (3 years)Easy late season schedule helped CMU get bowl eligible last year.
8Don Treadwell8-16 (2 years)RedHawks haven't made much progress under Treadwell.
9Tony Levine6-7 (1+ year)With new stadium opening in 2014, Levine needs to show progress.
10Gary Pinkel90-61 (12 years)Good coach, but is Missouri falling too far behind rest of SEC?
11Jeff Quinn9-27 (3 years)Bulls won 3 out of last 4 games last year.
12Doc Holliday17-20 (3 years)Thundering Herd has talent to win C-USA in 2013.
13Steve Sarkisian26-25 (4 years)Huskies have three consecutive 7-6 seasons.
14Mike London16-21 (3 years)Recruiting well but has two losing seasons in three years.
15Kirk Ferentz100-74 (14 years)Huge buyout - in no danger of getting fired. 
16Randy Edsall6-18 (2 years)Terps need to show more progress for upcoming move to the Big Ten.
17Rich Ellerson17-32 (4 years)Went 12-13 in first two years. 5-19 in next two.
18Dave Christensen22-28 (4 years)Has two bowl appearances in four years.
19Norm Chow3-9 (1 year)Warriors have a ways to go under Chow.
20Charlie Weis1-11 (1 year)Talent improving thanks to addition of transfers.
21Charley Molnar1-11 (1 year)Tough job. Minutemen should show progress in 2013.
22Jim Grobe73-74 (12 years)No danger of getting fired but just 1 bowl game in last 4 years.
23Ron Turner1st yearQuestionable hire.
24Joey Jones25-15 (4 years)Will take some time for USA to compete for Sun Belt titles.
25Carl Pelini3-9 (1 year) 
26Skip Holtz1st yearWhich Holtz is Louisiana Tech getting? East Carolina or USF?
27Rick Stockstill43-44 (7 years)Rebounded last year after rough 2011.
28Kyle Whittingham71-32 (8 years)No danger of getting fired. But pressure to rebound after 5-7 record. 
29Bo Pelini49-20 (5 years)Nebraska is always a high pressure job. 
30Dan McCarney9-15 (2 years)McCarney should get UNT competitive in C-USA.
31Mike Leach3-9 (1 year)Cougars should be better in Leach's second year. 
32Dana Holgorsen17-9 (2 years) 
33David Bailiff30-44 (6 years)Rewarded with contract extension after 2012.
34Dan Mullen29-22 (4 years)Not an easy job. But needs to close gap with top teams in West.
35Kevin Wilson5-19 (2 years) 
36Larry Blakeney169-98-1 (22 years)Back-to-back losing records for first time at Troy.
37Mark Helfrich1st yearIs he the right choice to succeed Chip Kelly?
38June Jones31-34 (5 years)No danger of being fired. Four straight bowl games.
39George O'Leary60-55 (9 years) 
40Rod Carey0-1 (1st year)Can Carey build off what Dave Doeren leaves behind?
41Dave Clawson22-28 (4 years)Falcons will be in hunt for MAC East title this year.
42Kyle Flood9-4 (1 year) 
43Ruffin McNeill19-19 (3 years) 
44Garrick McGee3-9 (1 year) 
45Tommy Tuberville1st year 
46Paul Chryst6-7 (1 year)Up and down 2012. Should get better in next few years.
47Frank Beamer216-104-2 (26 years)Pressure to rebound after 7-6 mark in2 012.
48Bobby Petrino1st year 
49Terry Bowden1-11 (1 year)Struggled last year, but Zips should be improved in '13.
50Jim McElwain4-8 (1 year) 
51Dennis Franchoine23-24 (4 years)Has Texas State on the right track.
52Bryan Harsin1st yearA solid hire for the Red Wolves.
53Brian Polian1st yearReplacing a legend like Chris Ault won't be easy.
54Ron Caragher1st year 
55Matt Wells1st year 
56Paul Haynes1st year 
57Scott Shafer1st yearHas to guide Syracuse through ACC transition. 
58Sean Kugler1st year 
59Curtis Johnson2-10 (1 year)Green Wave on the right track.
60Bronco Mendenhall74-29 (8 years)Cougars play a challenging schedule this year. 
61Bob Davie4-9 (1 year) 
62Matt Rhule1st year 
63Rocky Long17-9 (2 years) 
64Al Golden13-11 (2 years)Will Miami finally win the Coastal this year?
65Todd Monken1st yearShould make USM fans forget Ellis Johnson. 
66Brady Hoke19-7 (2 years)Always pressure to win big at Michigan. 
67Ken Niumatalolo40-26 (5 years) 
68Mark Richt118-40 (12 years) 
69Dabo Swinney40-21 (4+ years) 
70Jimbo Fisher31-10 (3 years)Seminoles back on the rise under Fisher. 
71Bob Stoops149-37 (14 years)Has won at least 10 games in 6 out of last 7 years.
72Mark Dantonio51-28 (6 years) 
73Paul Johnson41-26 (5 years) 
74Frank Solich59-44 (8 years) 
75Jerry Kill9-16 (2 years) 
76Tim DeRuyter9-4 (1 year)Bulldogs should push Boise State for MW title. 
77P.J. Fleck1st yearMaking a splash on the recruiting trail. 
78Butch Jones1st yearCan Jones return Tennessee to SEC title contender status?
79Bret Bielema1st year 
80Mark Stoops1st yearStoops is doing a great job on the recruiting trail. 
81Gus Malzahn1st yearGreat fit at Auburn. 
82Mike MacIntyre1st yearNeeds time to rebuild roster.
83Matt Campbell10-4 (1+ year)One of the rising stars in the coaching ranks.
84Jim Mora9-5 (1 year) 
85Darrell Hazell1st yearCan he work a quick turnaround?
86Steve Addazio1st yearOff to a good start on the recruiting trail. 
87Larry Fedora8-4 (1 year) 
88Dave Doeren1st year 
89Sonny Dykes1st year 
90Rich Rodriguez8-5 (1 year) 
91Todd Graham8-5 (1 year) 
92Mike Riley81-67 (12 years) 
93Larry Coker12-10 (2 years) 
94Bill Blankenship19-8 (2 years) 
95Les Miles85-21 (8 years) 
96Pete Lembo15-10 (2 years)Another rising star to watch in 2013. 
97Todd Berry17-20 (3 years) 
98Justin Fuente4-8 (1 year)Tigers won three in a row to finish 2012.
99Brian Kelly28-11 (3 years) 
100Trent Miles1st yearGeorgia State made a great hire in Miles. 
101Gary Andersen1st year 
102David Cutcliffe21-40 (5 years)Will the Blue Devils become an annual bowl team?
103Will Muschamp18-8 (2 years) 
104Hugh Freeze7-6 (1 year) 
105Troy Calhoun47-31 (6 years) 
106Willie Taggart1st yearBest hire of the offseason. 
107Kliff Kingsbury1st yearFormer Texas Tech QB has returned to Lubbock.
108Paul Rhoads24-27 (4 years) 
109Doug Martin1st yearNo pressure as a FBS Independent this year. 
110Paul Petrino1st yearNo pressure as a FBS Independent this year. 
111Mark Hudspeth18-8 (2 years) 
112Kevin Sumlin11-2 (1 year) 
113James Franklin15-11 (2 years) 
114Charlie Strong25-14 (3 years) 
115Mike Gundy67-35 (8 years) 
116Gary Patterson116-36 (12 years) 
117Art Briles33-30 (5 years) 
118Bill O'Brien8-4 (1 year) 
119Steve Spurrier66-37 (8 years) 
120David Shaw23-4 (2 years) 
121Pat Fitzgerald50-39 (7 years) 
122Bill Snyder170-85-1 (21 years) 
123Chris Petersen84-8 (7 years) 
124Urban Meyer12-0 (1 year) 
125Nick Saban68-13 (6 years)Three championships (and counting) at Alabama

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College Football's Top 35 Breakout Players for 2013
Top 10 Darkhorses to Win the National Title
The Top 100 Players of the BCS Era
College Football's Top 25 Running Back Units for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Wide Receiver Corps for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Offensive Lines for 2013
College Football's All-Name Team for 2013

Ranking All 125 College Football Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2013
Post date: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/will-johnny-manziel-repeat-heisman-winner-2013

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has been in the spotlight this offseason for his various off-the-field activities. While the sophomore has garnered some bad publicity since the Cotton Bowl, the season opener is just a few days away, and he is one of the frontrunners to claim the Heisman Trophy.

Although it’s uncertain if Manziel will be forced to miss any games due to the recent autograph scandal, he will have his hands full repeating as the Heisman Trophy winner. This is one of the deepest groups of contenders for the award in recent memory, and Manziel will have a difficult task repeating last year’s numbers.

Athlon’s editors debate Manziel's Heisman chances, along with the frontrunner for the ward in 2013. 

Will Texas A&M Quarterback Johnny Manziel Repeat as the Heisman Winner in 2013?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Even before the ongoing investigation into the autograph scandal, I thought it was going to be very difficult for Johnny Manziel to repeat as the Heisman winner. Manziel simply set the bar too high as a true freshman, throwing for 3,706 yards and 26 touchdowns, while adding 1,410 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground. Repeating those numbers without receiver Ryan Swope and left tackle Luke Joeckel wasn’t going to be easy. And after entering 2012 with low expectations, Texas A&M was going into 2013 with a bullseye on its back. Also, plenty of SEC coaches spent the offseason trying to figure out a way to stop Manziel, and the rest of the SEC will be more prepared for the Aggies in 2013. Even if Manziel doesn’t repeat as the Heisman winner, he should still have an outstanding year and will be in the mix for first-team All-SEC honors once again.

As for my frontrunner, I have to go with Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller. In the first season under coach Urban Meyer last year, Miller threw for 2,039 yards and 15 touchdowns, while rushing for 1,271 yards and 13 scores. With a better supporting cast in place, look for the junior to see a significant increase in his passing yards. Miller should benefit from another offseason to grasp Meyer’s offense, and his Heisman campaign will certainly be helped by the Buckeyes’ run at a national title. But let’s not forget about South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The junior is college football’s best player, but will he get enough support as a defensive player to win the Heisman? 

Mark Ross
Even if Manziel had not been the subject of so many headlines, scrutiny and criticism during the spring and summer, I would not pick him to win the Heisman again. The not-so positive media coverage aside, the odds are pretty much stacked against Manziel to repeat. For starters, only one man has ever done so, and Archie Griffin accomplished this feat nearly 40 years ago. More recently, Tim Tebow had a shot at the rare repeat in 2008, and while he didn't have a horrible season by any means (42 total touchdowns), he still finished third in the Heisman voting.

Just like Tebow in 2008, this season Manziel not only has to, in essence, beat every other FBS player to win another Heisman, he also has to beat himself. Regardless of how gaudy the Texas A&M quarterback's statistics are this fall, if he doesn't top last year's record-breaking numbers (5,116 total yards of offense, responsible for 47 touchdowns), then it's hard for me to see him generating the same level of support from the Heisman voters. And unlike last year when be burst on the scene as a redshirt freshman, every one knows who Johnny Football is, which makes his job as a starting quarterback in the SEC — also known as the nation's toughest conference — that much harder.

Just because we won't see Manziel win back-to-back Heismans, that doesn't mean a dual-threat sophomore quarterback won't claim the famous stiff-armed trophy in 2013. Come December, I am picking Oregon's Marcus Mariota to finish ahead of Alabama's AJ McCarron and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if Manziel doesn't even finish in the top five.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
The odds are stacked heavily against Johnathan Manziel's favor. Sam Bradford, Matt Leinart, Tim Tebow and Mark Ingram couldn't repeat, leaving just one winner in nearly 80 years as a two-timer. There is a reason Archie Griffin is the only two-time winner and that is because it is virtually and literally impossible. Defenses have more film to study and are focused more on stopping No. 2 and his supporting cast isn't nearly as experienced and capable. Johnny Football is wired to handle distractions and will be a pleasure to watch once again in 2013, but his off-the-field issues have to impact the rest of team somehow. The bottom line is Manziel produced one of, if not the, greatest statistical season in college football history. By definition, he won't be able to replicate that this fall. He will have a big season and maybe get back to New York. Give me Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota to win the stiff-armed trophy in 2013.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
If Tim Tebow couldn’t become the first two-time Heisman winner since Archie Griffin, I doubt many players could. Reigning Heisman winners not only have to be better than the field in a give season, they have to be demonstrably better than they were a season earlier. Johnny Manziel’s season was historic in 2012, nearly 90 yards of total offense better than Cam Newton’s 2010 season. And even if Manziel approaches his 400 yards of total offense per game and 47 total touchdowns, his offseason behavior and so-what demeanor will cause some voters to look for plausible alternatives — I don’t agree with this, but it’s a sentiment that’s out there. And plausible alternatives will be out there, unlike they were last season. Imagine if the Heisman vote were taken after the bowl games last season: How many would be voting for Manti Te’o and Collin Klein then? So that brings me to this season’s Heisman pick. The field is simply too crowded to feel strongly about anyone, especially how the last few Heisman winners were far from the preseason favorites. Braxton Miller is an easy preseason pick, though. Like recent Heisman winners, Miller is the clear focal point of his offense in the air and on the ground. He’ll play for a title contender and a name team, and he’ll have a chance for a late-season push against Michigan and probably a Big Ten title game.

Related College Football Content

College Football Bowl Projections for 2013
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College Football's Top 35 Breakout Players for 2013
Top 10 Darkhorses to Win the National Title
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College Football's Top 25 Running Back Units for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Wide Receiver Corps for 2013
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Will Johnny Manziel Repeat as the Heisman Winner?
Post date: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 07:13
Path: /college-football/justin-worley-named-tennessees-starting-qb

The Butch Jones era at Tennessee will kickoff this Saturday against FCS opponent Austin Peay. And Jones ended the offseason speculation by picking junior Justin Worley as his starting quarterback against the Governors.

With the departure of quarterback Tyler Bray and receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter to the NFL, Tennessee’s offense is expected to lean heavily on its ground attack and offensive line to win games in 2013.

Worley started three games in 2011 and has thrown for 738 yards and one touchdown during his nine career appearances. The junior has good size at 6-foot-4 and 222 pounds, but Jones prefers to have some mobility from his quarterbacks, and Worley has -22 rushing yards in his career.

With a cast of new receivers stepping into playing time, it will take Tennessee’s offense some time to jell.

If Worley stumbles, redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman is expected to be the backup, while true freshmen Joshua Dobbs and Riley Ferguson are No. 3 and No. 4 on the depth chart.

Tennessee Picks Justin Worley as its Starting QB
Post date: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, USC Trojans, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/usc-rb-silas-redd-wont-play-against-hawaii

USC opens its 2013 season with a road trip to Hawaii on Thursday night. But it appears the Trojans won’t have one of their key offensive players in action.

According to the tweet below, USC running back Silas Redd won’t play in Thursday night’s game. Redd suffered a knee injury in the spring and isn’t quite 100 percent.

Although Redd is USC’s best running back, he won’t be missed against Hawaii. With Redd sidelined, sophomore Tre Madden and freshmen Justin Davis and Ty Isaac will pickup the slack on the ground.

USC RB Silas Redd Won't Play Against Hawaii
Post date: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 08:45
Path: /college-football/oregon-state-picks-sean-mannion-its-starting-qb

Oregon State coach Mike Riley let Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz compete for the starting job this offseason, and both players didn’t make it easy on their head coach. However, Riley has picked Mannion as the Beavers’ starting quarterback, with Vaz expected to serve in the backup role.

Mannion was Oregon State’s quarterback through the first four games of last season but was sidelined due to injury. In the first four games, Mannion had seven touchdowns and four interceptions and threw for 433 yards in a 38-35 win at Arizona.

Vaz started while Mannion was out, leading the Beavers to a road win at BYU and against Utah, but he also missed time later in the year due to injury.

The coaching staff let Mannion and Vaz compete for the starting job in the bowl game, with Vaz eventually getting the starting job. However, Vaz struggled against Texas’ defense, completing 15 of 28 passes for 194 yards and two interceptions.

Mannion needs to cut down on his mistakes, but the junior is the right answer for Oregon State’s offense. Mannion has more talent than Vaz was off to a good start prior to his injury last year.

But if Mannion struggles, the Beavers know Vaz is a capable option.

Oregon State Picks Sean Mannion as its Starting QB
Post date: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas A&M Aggies, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/texas-am-qb-johnny-manziel-questioned-ncaa

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel’s busy offseason continued with a visit from the NCAA on Sunday. is reporting Manziel interviewed for six hours with the NCAA, and it’s not clear if it will have any effect on his playing status for Saturday’s game against Rice.

Needless to say, this story isn’t going away anytime soon. Here's some more info from writer Travis Haney on the latest surrounding Manziel.


Johnny Manziel Questioned by the NCAA
Post date: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 07:55
Path: /college-football/10-players-who-will-decide-college-footballs-2013-national-title

Every college football team has personnel issues that will be a question mark going into the 2013 season. But some have national title implications.

Alabama has the nation’s best roster, but the Crimson Tide is replacing a couple of key starters on the offensive line. Ohio State’s defensive line lost all four starters from last season and will be relying on two sophomores to start at defensive end. Stanford won the Pac-12 title last year, but the Cardinal is picked behind Oregon in most preseason polls. If Stanford wants to win the national championship, it has to get more production from its passing attack.

What players could play a huge role in college football’s national championship picture? Athlon examined 10 key players to watch, along with a few extras to keep on the radar this year.

10 Players Who Will Decide College Football's 2013 National Title

1. Noah Spence/Adolphus Washington, DE, Ohio State
The Buckeyes are considered by most to be the top threat to Alabama this season. There are few questions about an offense that returns nine starters, but the defense will be a work in progress to start the year. The line was hit hardest by offseason departures, as the top four players from last season – John Simon, Nathan Willliams, Johnathan Hankins and Garrett Goebel – are gone. While it will be difficult for Ohio State to match last year’s production from the line, there’s no shortage of talent. Sophomore ends Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington were two of the top defensive linemen in the 2012 signing class and played sparingly last year. Spence recorded 12 stops in 11 games, while Washington had three sacks and nine tackles in 10 contests. The Buckeyes also need a big season from tackles Joel Hale and Michael Bennett, but Spence and Washington will be the key pieces in Ohio State’s chances of ranking in the top 15 of rush defense and averaging 2.5 sacks a game once again.

2. Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford
It’s no secret the Cardinal has one of the best defenses and offensive lines in college football. But the passing game is a concern, especially after the departure of tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo to the NFL. Quarterback Kevin Hogan should be better in his second year as a starter, but Stanford needs to find a few playmakers on the outside. Is Montgomery that player? After catching 24 passes (13 receptions over the final two games) in 2011, Montgomery appeared poised for a breakout year in 2012. However, injuries prevented the Texas native from getting on track, finishing with 26 catches for 213 yards. If Montgomery can stay healthy, he can be the threat Hogan needs on the outside to stretch opposing defenses. The Cardinal could also play a few young players at receiver, including Francis Owusu and sophomores Kodi Whitfield and Devon Cajuste.

3. Tommy Rees, QB, Notre Dame
After the summer departure of Everett Golson, Rees is set to be Notre Dame’s No. 1 quarterback once again. The senior has experienced plenty of ups and downs throughout his career in South Bend, throwing for 1,106 yards and 12 touchdowns as a true freshman and then 2,871 yards and 20 scores in 2011. Rees lost the starting job to Golson last year but played relatively well in relief, throwing for 436 yards and two scores. With one of the nation’s best defenses at his disposal, Rees doesn’t need to throw for 300 yards each week. However, the senior needs to limit his mistakes (24 interceptions on 634 career passes). If Rees is solid and cuts down on the turnovers, the Fighting Irish will be back in the hunt for the national title once again.

4. Julien Obioha, DE, Texas A&M
Entering the second offseason under coordinator Mark Snyder, the Aggies should have a better grasp of the defensive scheme for 2013. But the front seven is undergoing a little bit of renovation, as end Damontre Moore and interior players Jonathan Mathis and Spencer Nealy are gone. Texas A&M has recruited well, so there’s plenty of talent ready to step into the lineup. However, Snyder may have to rely on some true freshmen – Justin Manning, Isaiah Golden and Daeshon Hall – to contribute significant snaps. But all eyes will be on Obioha to star the year, especially with a year of experience under his belt. Last season, Obioha started 12 games and recorded 25 tackles and one sack. Replacing Damontre Moore’s 12.5 sacks is no easy task, but the Aggies hope Obioha spends a lot of time in opposing backfields this fall. 

5. LG Arie Kouandjio and RT Austin Shepherd, Alabama
The Crimson Tide coach staff should feel pretty good about three spots on their offensive line. Left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio is a future NFL first-round draft pick, guard Anthony Steen has 25 starts in his career, and center Ryan Kelly impressed in limited action last year. But the other two spots were a concern this fall. Arie Kouandjio eventually settled at left guard and Austin Shepherd won the job at right tackle. Matching the dominance of last year’s offensive line will be difficult, and there’s a ton of pressure on the two new starters to perform at a high level right away. If Kouandjio and Shepherd are up to the task, Alabama’s offensive line will clear plenty of holes for the running backs, along with keeping quarterback AJ McCarron upright in the pocket. But if it struggles, Alabama becomes more vulnerable in key games against Texas A&M and LSU.

6. Mike Thornton, DT, Georgia
We could list a few defensive players here for Georgia, but the success of any 3-4 defense starts in the trenches at nose tackle. The Bulldogs have a huge void with the departure of John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers on the interior, and Thornton is slated to start at nose tackle in the season opener at Clemson. The junior checks in at 6-foot-1 and 290 pounds, which is a stark difference to the 6-foot-3 and 358-pound frame of Jenkins last year. However, Thornton is capable of holding down the middle of the line, and his quickness will allow him to create problems off the snap for opposing quarterbacks. If Thornton struggles, Georgia has plenty of linemen ready to rotate into the game. However, the coaching staff would like to see the junior anchor the line this year and lead a rush defense that needs to improve after allowing 182.1 yards per game on the ground last season.  

7. Tony Washington, DE/LB, Oregon
The Ducks return a loaded roster, so it’s hard to pinpoint a weakness for 2013. The defense does have a few holes to fill in the front seven, especially at linebacker/rush end where Dion Jordan is off to the NFL. Washington is slated to fill Jordan’s role, and the junior recorded 20 tackles in 13 contests last year. The junior isn’t as dynamic or athletic as Jordan is, but he is more than capable of keeping Oregon’s defense among the best in the Pac-12. 

8. Bashaud Breeland/Darius Robinson, CB, Clemson
The Tigers’ first depth chart of 2013 didn’t reveal much about the cornerback position. Garry Peters and Bashaud Breeland are listed as co-starters at one spot, while Darius Robinson and Martin Jenkins share the other side. Clemson’s pass defense is a concern heading into 2013, especially after finishing sixth in the conference last year. Sophomore safety Travis Blanks is a rising star, but the Tigers are still searching for the right mix at cornerback. True freshman Mackensie Alexander was slowed in fall camp due to an injury, so it may be a few weeks before he makes a significant impact. Whether it’s Breeland, Robinson, Jenkins or Peters, Clemson has to find two players it feels comfortable with to start at cornerback, especially with a huge test against Georgia in Week 1.

9. Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina
The Gamecocks finished 2012 ranked 13th in the SEC in rushing offense, and their leading rusher – running back Marcus Lattimore – left for the NFL after a season-ending injury against Tennessee. Quarterback Connor Shaw ranked second on the team with 435 rushing yards, while Davis finished last season with 275 yards and two touchdowns. Although Shaw has good mobility, South Carolina would like to keep him healthy for a full season, which means one of the running backs needs to step up. Davis was a big-time recruit for the Gamecocks in the 2012 signing class, ranking as a four-star prospect and the No. 63 overall player in the nation according to Brandon Wilds will also see plenty of carries, but South Carolina needs Davis to be a go-to back that can handle 25 touches a game and take some of the pressure off of Shaw or Dylan Thompson at quarterback.

10. Big 12 Quarterbacks
Yes, we are cheating just a bit with this selection. However, most of the Big 12 is dealing with uncertainty at quarterback this year. Will Clint Chelf hold off J.W. Walsh for the starting job at Oklahoma State ? Is it Casey Pachall or Trevone Boykin at TCU? Is Trevor Knight ready for the spotlight at Oklahoma? What about David Ash at Texas? There are question marks abound at the quarterback position in this conference, which is a big reason why no Big 12 team was picked in the top 15 of Athlon’s projected 125 for the 2013 season. If Knight, Chelf or Pachall has a big season, the Big 12 could have a team in the national title hunt.

Others to Watch

Dan Hicks/Mario Edwards, DE, Florida State
Hicks and Edwards will be tasked with replacing Tank Carradine and Bjoern Werner.

Zach Mettenberger, QB LSU
Will Mettenberger thrive under new coordinator Cam Cameron?

Demarcus Robinson, WR, Florida
Can Florida find a go-to target for quarterback Jeff Driskel?

Jake Smith, C, Louisville
Smith has the tough task of replacing Mario Benavides at center this year.

Fitzgerald Toussaint, RB, Michigan
Toussaint held off freshman Derrick Green for the starting job, but the senior is coming off a significant leg injury suffered late in the 2012 season.

Related College Football Content

College Football Bowl Projections for 2013
College Football's Top 35 Breakout Players for 2013
Top 10 Darkhorses to Win the National Title
The Top 100 Players of the BCS Era
College Football's Top 25 Running Back Units for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Wide Receiver Corps for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Offensive Lines for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Defensive Lines for 2013
College Football's All-Name Team for 2013

10 Players Who Will Decide College Football's 2013 National Title
Post date: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/redrafting-sec-rosters-2013

Fantasy drafts are a popular part of any offseason, but Athlon Sports (with a little bit of help from a few friends) took it to the next level when it came to the SEC.

College football’s premier conference is loaded with talent, so we thought it would be interesting to erase the rosters and conduct a redraft with 14 managers serving as the coaches of SEC programs.

The rules for the draft were simple: 22 overall picks, with 11 coming on offense and 11 on defense. Teams were allowed flexibility for schemes, as some managers chose to draft four receivers over a second running back or starting tight end.

What do the results of the draft tell us for 2013? It’s hard to glean much from a fantasy draft, but as expected, Alabama had the most players selected (40), while Kentucky had the fewest (12). Interestingly enough, Vanderbilt checked in tied at fourth with 25 players drafted. The Commodores ranked ahead of Texas A&M and South Carolina in the amount of players selected. Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel was the No. 1 overall pick, with South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney picked at No. 2. 

Note: Some players have been dismissed or left the team since the draft was conducted. Number after player indicates round in which he was selected. 

Redrafting the SEC's Rosters for 2013

Jon CooperJesse JohnsonMark Ross
SaturdayDownSouth.comVandySports.comAthlon Sports
QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (1)QB Brandon Allen, Arkansas (20)QB Aaron Murray, Georgia (1)
RB Matt Jones, Florida (11)RB Mike Davis, So. Carolina (8)RB Jeremy Hill, LSU (13)
WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M (2)WR Malcome Kennedy, Texas A&M (13)RB Jeff Scott, Ole Miss (20)
WR Michael Bennett, Georgia (13)WR Demarcus Robinson, Florida (19)WR Ricky Seals-Jones, Texas A&M (16)
WR Jaylon Denson, Auburn (21)TE Malcolm Johnson, Miss. State (15)WR Quan Bray, Auburn (21)
WR Jonathan Rumph, Georgia (22)TE Brian Vogler, Alabama (21)TE Arthur Lynch, Georgia (4)
OL Ryan Kelly, Alabama (5)OL Chris Burnette, Georgia (3)OL Travis Swanson, Arkansas (3)
OL Brey Cook, Arkansas (12)OL Kenarious Gates, Georgia (4)OL Tyler Moore, Florida (7)
OL Arie Kouandjio, Alabama (6)OL Austin Shepherd, Alabama (11)OL Darrian Miller, Kentucky (8)
OL Corey Robinson, So. Carolina (16)OL Alex Kozan, Auburn (18)OL Mitch Smothers, Arkansas (17)
OL Patrick Miller, Auburn (20)OL Isaac Luatua, Alabama (22)OL Pierce Burton, Ole Miss (18)
DL Ronald Powell, Florida (7)DL Jadeveon Clowney, So. Carolina (1)DL Walker May, Vanderbilt (5)
DL Mike Thornton, Georgia (9)DL Brandon Ivory, Alabama (6)DL Mister Cobble, Kentucky (11)
DL Kaleb Eulls, Mississippi State (14)DL Jared Morse, Vanderbilt (10)DL Dee Ford, Auburn (14)
DL Julien Obioha, Texas A&M (17)DL Stephen Weatherly, Vanderbilt (14)DL Nosa Eguae, Auburn (15)
LB Benardrick McKinney, Miss. State (4)LB Adrian Hubbard, Alabama (2)LB Amarlo Herrera, Georgia (9)
LB/S Justin Garrett, Auburn (10)LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama (12)LB Andrew Wilson, MIssouri (12)
LB Dontavis Sapp, Tennessee (18)LB Darreon Herring, Vanderbilt (16)LB Tommy Sanders, Texas A&M (22)
DB Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida (3)DB Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M (5)DB Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama (2)
DB Brian Randolph, Tennessee (8)DB Nickoe Whitley, Miss. State (7)DB E.J. Gaines, Missouri (6)
DB Marcus Maye, Florida (15)DB Jalen Collins, LSU (9)DB Sheldon Dawson, Georgia (10)
DB Jamerson Love, Miss. State (19)DB Howard Matthews, Texas A&M (17)DB Jermaine Whitehead, Auburn (19)
Steven GodfreyNathan RushZac Ellis
SBNation.comAthlon SportsSports Illustrated
QB Bo Wallace, Ole Miss (2)QB AJ McCarron, Alabama (1)QB Zach Mettenberger, LSU (2)
RB T.J. Yeldon, Alabama (1)RB Kelvin Taylor, Florida (7)RB Todd Gurley, Georgia (1)
RB Brian Kimbrow, Vanderbilt (13)RB Wesley Tate, Vanderbilt (21)WR Bruce Ellington, South Carolina (6)
WR D. Green-Beckham, Missouri (4)WR Vince Sanders, Ole Miss (12)WR Javontee Herndon, Arkansas (12)
WR Chris Conley, Georgia (10)WR L'Damian Washington, Missouri (20)WR Demarco Robinson, Kentucky (20)
WR Robert Johnson, Miss. State (18)TE Jay Rome, Georgia (16)TE Rory Anderson, South Carolina (9)
OL John Theus, Georgia (5)OL Reese Dismukes, Auburn (6)OL Zach Fulton, Tennessee (5)
OL Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss (8)OL Brandon Shell, South Carolina (8)OL Mike Matthews, Texas A&M (8)
OL Joe Townsend, Vanderbilt (16)OL Greg Robinson, Auburn (14)OL Andrew Bridges, Vanderbilt (14)
OL Evan Swindall, Ole Miss (17)OL Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M (15)OL Patrick Junen, Ole Miss (17)
OL Clayton Stadnik, S. Carolina (21)OL Alex Bullard, Tennessee (18)OL Charles Siddoway, Miss. State (19)
DL Carl Lawson, Auburn (6)DL C.J. Johnson, Ole Miss (4)DL Chris Smith, Arkansas (3)
DL Ed Stinson, Alabama (7)DL Ego Ferguson, LSU (5)DL Gabe Wright, Auburn (10)
DL Quentin Thomas, LSU (14)DL Leon Orr, Florida (13)DL Za'Darius Smith, Kentucky (16)
LB Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss (3)DL Darren Lake, Alabama (22)DL DeMarcus Hodge, Arkansas (22)
LB Donnie Baggs, Texas A&M (11)DL Caleb Azubike, Vanderbilt (10)LB Lamin Barrow, LSU (3)
LB Kris Frost, Auburn (19)LB A.J. Johnson, Tennessee (2)LB Curt Maggitt, Tennessee (11)
LB D.T. Shackelford, Ole Miss (22)LB Daunte Carr, Arkansas (17)LB Jarrett Lake, Arkansas (18)
DB Brian Poole, Florida (9)DB Andre Hal, Vanderbilt (3)DB Jaylen Watkins, Florida (7)
DB Trae Elston, Ole Miss (12)DB Victor Hampton, South Carolina (9)DB Javon Marshall, Vanderbilt (13)
DB Chaz Elder, South Carolina (15)DB Vinnie Sunseri, Alabama (11)DB David Johnson, Missouri (15)
DB T.J. Gurley, South Carolina (20)DB Antonio Conner, Ole Miss (19)DB Chris Davis, Auburn (21)
Steven LassanJosh WardDavid Fox
Athlon SportsMrSEC.comAthlon Sports
QB Dylan Thompson, South Carolina (8)QB Tyler Russell, Miss. State (2)QB Jeff Driskel, Florida (2)
RB Brandon Williams, Texas A&M (20)RB Rajion Neal, Tennessee (12)RB Ben Malena, Texas A&M (11)
FB Jay Prosch, Auburn (19)WR Chris Boyd, Vanderbilt (8)RB Alfred Blue, LSU (21)
WR Chris Black, Alabama (13)WR Marcus Lucas, Missouri (13)WR Odell Beckham, LSU (5)
WR Trovon Reed, Auburn (21) WR Quinton Dunbar, Florida (18)WR Shaq Roland, South Carolina (17)
TE Trey Burton, Florida (15)WR Marquez North, Tennessee (22)WR Bud Sasser, Missouri (22)
OL Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama (1)OL Jake Matthews, Texas A&M (1)OL Ja'Wuan James, Tennessee (3)
OL Gabe Jackson, Miss. State (2)OL Aaron Morris, Ole Miss (6)OL Jon Halapio, Florida (7)
OL La'el Collins, LSU (5)OL Jonotthan Harrison, Florida (10)OL Emmanuel McCray, Ole Miss (13)
OL Dillon Day, Miss. State (16)OL David Hurd, Arkansas (16)OL Chad Slade, Auburn (16)
OL Ethan Pocic, LSU (17)OL Zach West, Kentucky (17)OL Cody Waldrop, So. Carolina (20)
DL Donte Rumph, Kentucky (4)DL Kelcy Quarles, So. Carolina (3)DL Bud Dupree, Kentucky (4)
DL Jonathan Bullard, Florida (6)DL Daniel McCullers, Tennessee (4)DL Denico Autry, Miss. State (6)
DL Jermauria Rasco, LSU (11)DL Kyle Woestmann, Vanderbilt (9)DL P.J. Jones, Miss. State (9)
DL Issac Gross, Ole Miss (14)DL Chaz Sutton, South Carolina (14)LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama (1)
LB Xzavier Dickson, Alabama (7)LB Avery Williamson, Kentucky (5)LB Karl Butler, Vanderbilt (12)
LB Kwon Alexander, LSU (12)LB Tahj Jones, LSU (15)LB Daniel McMillian, Florida (15)
LB Otha Peters, Arkansas (22)LB Deontae Skinner, Miss. State (20)LB Tim Kimbrough, Georgia (19)
DB Marcus Roberson, Florida (3)DB Jalen Mills, LSU (7)DB Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss (8)
DB Landon Collins, Alabama (9)DB Ronald Martin, LSU (11)DB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida (10)
DB De'Vante Harris, Texas A&M (10)DB Josh Holsey, Auburn (19)DB Jimmy Legree, South Carolina
DB Demetruce McNeal, Auburn (18)DB Justin Cox, Miss. State (21)DB Rohan Gaines, Arkansas (18)
SEC LogoMitch LightLouie Belina
SEC LogoAthlon
QB Connor Shaw, So. Carolina (2)QB James Franklin, Missouri (8)QB Jalen Whitlow, Kentucky (22)
RB LaDarius Perkins, Miss. State (5)RB Henry Josey, Missouri (12)RB Tre Mason, Auburn (10)
WR Kenny Bell, Alabama (8)RB Raymond Sanders, Kentucky (19)WR Amari Cooper, Alabama (1)
WR Kevin Norwood, Alabama (10)WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt (1)WR Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss (2)
WR Mekale McKay, Arkansas (15)WR LeKendrick Williams, Texas A&M (21)WR Laquvionte Gonzalez, Texas A&M (19)
TE C.J. Uzomah, Auburn (13)TE OJ Howard, Alabama (11)WR Jaquay Williams, Texas A&M (20)
OL David Andrews, Georgia (4)OL Anthony Steen, Alabama (2)OL D.J. Humphries, Florida (5)
OL A.J. Cann, South Carolina (7)OL Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M (4)OL Vadal Alexander, LSU (6)
OL Justin Britt, Missouri (16)OL Max Garcia, Florida (9)OL Evan Boehm, Missouri (11)
OL Jordan Swindle, Kentucky (20)OL Blaine Clausell, Miss. State (14)OL Josh Williford, LSU (13)
OL Alphonse Taylor, Alabama (22)OL Jake Bernstein, Vanderbilt (17)OL Max Copeland, Missouri (18)
DL Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss (1)DL Dante Fowler, Florida (6)DL Trey Flowers, Arkansas (3)
DL Montravius Adams, Auburn (18)DL Damien Jacobs, Florida (10)DL Kony Ealy, Missouri (8)
DL Jacques Smith, Tennessee (21)DL Vince Taylor, Vanderbilt (13)DL Robert Thomas, Arkansas (9)
LB Trey DePriest, Alabama (6)DL Sterling Bailey, Georgia (18)DL Lavon Hooks, Ole Miss (14)
LB Steven Jenkins, Texas A&M (11)LB Kendell Beckwith, LSU (15)LB Chase Garnham, Vanderbilt (4)
LB Reuben Foster, Alabama (12)LB Cassanova McKinzy, Auburn (22)LB Mike Marry, Ole Miss (12)
LB Michael Taylor, Florida (17)LB Josh Harvey-Clemons, Georgia (7)LB Jake Holland, Auburn (15)
DB Craig Loston, LSU (3)DB Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt (3)DB Byron Moore, Tennessee (7)
DB Charles Sawyer, Ole Miss (9)DB Deion Belue, Alabama (5)DB Jonathon Mincy, Auburn (16)
DB Justin Coleman, Tennessee (14)DB Micah Eugene, LSU (16)DB Cyrus Jones, Alabama (17)
DB Nick Perry, Alabama (19)DB Steven Clarke, Vanderbilt (20)DB Toney Hurd, Texas A&M (21)
Braden GallChris Childers 
QB Hutson Mason, Georgia (20)QB Austyn Carta-Samuels, Vanderbilt (9) 
RB Derrick Henry, Alabama (14)RB Keith Marshall, Georgia (5) 
RB Kenyan Drake, Alabama (22)RB Jerron Seymour, Vanderbilt (21) 
WR Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia (5)WR Jarvis Landry, LSU (6) 
WR Damiere Byrd, South Carolina (21)WR Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss (14) 
TE Cam Clear, Texas A&M (12)WR Christian Jones, Alabama (19) 
OL Antonio Richardson, Tennessee (2)OL Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt (2) 
OL James Stone, Tennessee (3)OL Chaz Green, Florida (10) 
OL Trai Turner, LSU (7)OL Dallas Lee, Georgia (11) 
OL Jarvis Harrison, Texas A&M (10)OL Elliott Porter, LSU (13) 
OL Andrew Jelks, Vanderbilt (17)OL Spencer Pulley, Vanderbilt (20) 
DL Anthony Johnson, LSU (1)DL Dominique Easley, Florida (1) 
DL Garrison Smith, Georgia (8)DL Byran Jones, Arkansas (3) 
DL Danielle Hunter, LSU (11)DL Jeoffrey Pagan, Alabama (7) 
LB Jordan Jenkins, Georgia (4)DL LaMichael Fanning, Alabama (17) 
LB Antonio Morrison, Florida (6)LB Darrin Kitchens, Florida (8) 
LB Denzel Devall, Alabama (16)LB Ryan Anderson, Alabama (12) 
LB Khalid Henderson, Kentucky (19)LB Ronnie Feist, LSU (18) 
DB Geno Smith, Alabama (9)DB Damian Swann, Georgia (4) 
DB Tray Matthews, Georgia (13)DB Jarrick Williams, Alabama (15) 
DB Eric Bennett, Arkansas (15)DB Tevin Mitchel, Arkansas (16) 
DB Bradley Sylve, Alabama (18)DB Tre'Davious White, LSU (22) 

How the first four rounds were selected:

Round 1Round 2
1. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M (Cooper)15. Wesley Johnson, OT, Vanderbilt (Childers)
2. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina (Johnson)16. Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee (Gall)
3. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia (Ross)17. Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss (Belina)
4. T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama (Godfrey)18. Anthony Steen, OG, Alabama (Light)
5. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama (Rush)19. Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina (Logo)
6. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia (Ellis)20. Jeff Driskel, QB, Florida (Fox)
7. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama (Lassan)21. Tyler Russell, QB, Mississippi State (Ward)
8. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M (Ward)22. Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State (Lassan)
9. C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama (Fox)23. Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU (Ellis)
10. Robert Nkemdiche, DE, Ole Miss (Logo)24. A.J. Johnson, LB, Tennessee (Rush)
11. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt (Light)25. Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss (Godfrey)
12. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama (Belina)26. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama (Ross)
13. Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU (Gall)27. Adrian Hubbard, LB, Alabama (Johnson)
14. Dominique Easley, DT, Florida (Childers)28. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M (Cooper)
Round 3Round 4
29. Louchiez Purifoy, CB, Florida (Cooper)43. Damian Swann, DB, Georgia (Childers)
30. Chris Burnette, OG, Georgia (Johnson)44. Jordan Jenkins, LB/DE, Georgia (Gall)
31. Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas (Ross)45. Chase Garnham, LB, Vanderbilt (Belina)
32. Denzel Nkemdiche, LB, Ole Miss (Godfrey)46. Cedric Ogbuehi, T, Texas A&M (Light)
33. Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt (Rush)47. David Andrews, C, Georgia (Logo)
34. Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas (Ellis)48. Bud Dupree, DE, Kentucky (Fox)
35. Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida (Lassan)49. Daniel McClullers, DT, Tennessee (Ward)
36. Kelcy Quarles, DT, South Carolina (Ward)50. Donte Rumph, DT, Kentucky (Lassan)
37. Ja'Wuan James, OT, Tennessee (Fox)51. Lamin Barrow, LB, LSU (Ellis)
38. Craig Loston, DB, LSU (Logo)52. C.J. Johnson, DE, Ole Miss (Rush)
39. Kenny Ladler, DB, Vanderbilt (Light)53. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri (Godfrey)
40. Trey Flowers, DE, Arkansas (Belina)54. Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia (Ross)
41. James Stone, C, Tennessee (Gall)55. Kenarious Gates, T, Georgia (Johnson)
42. Byran Jones, DT, Arkansas (Childers)56. Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State (Cooper)

Which team had the most players selected?

RankTeamPlayers Drafted
4TGeorgia 25
4TAuburn 25
Texas A&M23
8Ole Miss22
9South Carolina19
11Mississippi State16
14 Kentucky 12

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College Football Bowl Projections for 2013
Top 35 Breakout Players for 2013
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The Top 100 Players of the BCS Era
College Football's Top 25 Running Back Units for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Wide Receiver Corps for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Offensive Lines for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Defensive Lines for 2013
College Football's All-Name Team for 2013
College Football's Top 10 Underrated Quarterbacks

Redrafting the SEC Rosters for 2013
Post date: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 07:10
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-august-26

It's game week. 

Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Monday, August 26th

Is Mack Brown hurting is legacy at Texas by sticking around?

Depth chart news from Alabama. And Kansas. And Northwestern. And Arkansas.

LSU coach Les Miles isn't saying much about the status of running back Jeremy Hill for the season opener. And it looks like guard Josh Williford's playing career is done.

Saturday Down South takes a look at the schedule posters in the SEC.

The Sporting News takes a look at some early elimination games for the national title race. And can Texas play for the national title?

Will Temple build an on-campus stadium?

Seantrel Henderson is not listed as a starter on Miami's depth chart.

Could Alabama's offense - not its defense - key another run to a national title?

Michigan, Notre Dame or USC could play in a future kickoff game in Atlanta.

California and Stanford could play their 2014 matchup in the 49ers' new stadium.

A good story on Syracuse coach Scott Shafer and some of the experiences that helped to shape him as a coach.

Georgia could be without safety Tray Matthews in its season opener against Clemson. 

Colorado has picked Connor Wood as its starting quarterback.

Here are 10 keys to Penn State's season.

College Football's Link Roundup: August 26
Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 15:37
Path: /college-football/kansas-state-picks-jake-waters-start-quarterback

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder isn’t a fan of releasing a depth chart, but he did provide one crucial bit of information for Saturday’s opener against North Dakota State. Junior college transfer Jake Waters will start over Daniel Sams, but both quarterbacks are expected to play.

Sams was believed to be the frontrunner to start the opener, but the sophomore missed some practice time, which allowed Waters to pull ahead for the starting job.

Waters was a huge pickup on the recruiting trail for Kansas State. Last year at Iowa Western, he threw for 3,501 yards and 39 touchdowns, while tossing only three picks on 333 attempts. Waters also completed 73.7 percent of his throws.

Sams is the better athlete between the two quarterbacks, but Waters can move around in the pocket as well.

Could the starting spot change hands later in the year? It’s possible. However, for now, Waters will take the first snap. And Sams will play a handful of snaps in the opener in a backup role.


Kansas State Picks Jake Waters to Start at Quarterback
Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 13:22
Path: /college-football/no-surprise-jameis-winston-florida-states-starting-qb

As expected, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher named Jameis Winston the starting quarterback for the season opener against Pittsburgh.

Winston’s debut is one of the most intriguing storylines of Week 1, as the redshirt freshman ranked as the No. 15 overall recruit 2012 signing class and shined in Florida State’s spring game.

Winston is a dual-threat passer and is surrounded by a deep supporting cast. With four starters back, the offensive line is one of the best in the nation. James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman will be a solid one-two punch in the backfield, while the receiving corps is filled with talent and speed.

Opening up on the road is never an easy task for a redshirt freshman quarterback, but Winston has plenty of confidence and shouldn’t be rattled in the Steel City. After the opener against the Panthers, Florida State hosts Nevada and Bethune-Cookman, before ending the month of September at Boston College. 

If Winston lives up to the hype, Florida State has the schedule make a run at the national championship. And the biggest game of the ACC season – at Clemson on Oct. 19 – should give Winston plenty of time to get acclimated to being a starter on the FBS level.

Although Winston won the starting job, backup Jacob Coker had an impressive offseason and is a solid No. 2 quarterback. 

No Surprise: Jameis Winston is Florida State's Starting QB
Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, TCU Horned Frogs, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/tcu-unveils-new-jerseys-season-opener

TCU-LSU is one of Week 1’s most-anticipated matchups. The Horned Frogs get quarterback Casey Pachall back after a suspension ended his 2012 season in October, but defensive end Devonte Fields is out for the first two games.

Regardless of whether TCU wins the opener or not, its alternate uniforms should certainly steal the show.

These uniforms feature red accents, which are to highlight the blood that horned frogs can shoot from their eyes. Read here for more information on TCU’s alternate uniform. 

TCU Unveils New Jerseys for Season Opener
Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 07:55
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-35-breakout-players-2013

Every year, college football fans are introduced to a handful of players that become household names by the end of the season. Predicting which players will breakout any year is never an easy task.

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston ranks as Athlon’s No. 1 breakout player for 2013, and even though there’s some key personnel departing on defense, the redshirt freshman is poised to keep the Seminoles in the national title picture. Michigan’s Devin Gardner and Baylor’s Bryce Petty are the only other quarterbacks listed in the top 10. Receiver Nelson Agholor is already off to a good start in fall camp and will help take some of the pressure off of Marqise Lee on the other side. Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson was a key reason why the Huskies improved on defense last year, and the sophomore is due for even bigger and better things in 2013.

Defining what is a breakout player is nearly impossible. Everyone has a different perspective on how players are viewed around the conference and nationally. Athlon's list of breakout players for 2013 tries to take into account which names will be known nationally (not just within the conference) by the end of season. So while some of these players on this list are known to fans of a particular team, the rest of the conference or nation might not be as familiar. 

College Football's Top 35 Breakout Players for 2013

1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Considering Winston’s preseason buzz has reached meteoric levels, he might be a little too obvious to put on this list. However, the redshirt freshman has the talent to have a breakout year similar to what Texas A&M got from Johnny Manziel last season. Of course, a Heisman Trophy is simply too much to ask from Winston this year, but the Alabama native will be a difference maker for Florida State, especially with one of the ACC’s best supporting casts at his disposal. If Winston lives up to the hype, the Seminoles could match last year’s 12 wins.

2. Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan
Considering his performance to close 2012, it’s a bit of a stretch to put Gardner on this list. Filling in for an injured Denard Robinson in the final five games, Gardner recorded 18 touchdowns during that span and threw for 314 yards in a win over Iowa. With Gardner now entrenched as the full-time starter, and Robinson playing in the NFL, the Wolverines will transition to more of a pro-style approach on offense. Michigan’s offensive line and receiving corps needs work, but Gardner will be one of the Big Ten’s top quarterbacks by the end of 2013.

3. Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
There’s no question that USC will miss Robert Woods, but the Trojans still have one of the nation’s top receiving corps. Marqise Lee is an Athlon Sports first-team All-American for 2013, and Agholor is poised to push for all-conference honors this year as well. As a true freshman last season, Agholor caught 19 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 17.9 yards per catch. The Tampa native had his best performance against Oregon, recording six catches for 162 yards and one score. With defenses aiming to stop Lee, look for Agholor to see more passes in his direction this year.

4. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Coach Art Briles certainly knows a thing or two about quarterbacks. After all, Robert Griffin III won the Heisman in 2011, and Nick Florence ranked second nationally in total offense last year. No pressure, Bryce Petty. The junior steps into the starting role after serving as an understudy over the last two years and hopes to continue Baylor’s recent run of successful passers. Petty has thrown only 14 passes in his career but has been impressive as the No. 1 quarterback this spring. There’s still plenty for the junior to prove in 2013, but considering Briles’ history of developing quarterbacks, the Bears have to feel good about Petty’s chances of emerging as a standout player this year.

5. Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
After a freshman year that saw him garner honorable mention All-Pac-12 accolades, it’s time for the rest of the nation to take notice of No. 7 in Seattle. Thompson recorded 74 tackles, two sacks and three picks last season and ranked second on the team with 8.5 tackles for a loss. The 6-foot-2 linebacker’s speed and athleticism is crucial for Washington’s defense, especially when it comes to defending the spread offenses in the Pac-12. The Pac-12 already knows all about Thompson, but look for the sophomore to push for All-American honors this season.

6. Jordan Jenkins, LB, Georgia
Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree are gone, leaving a huge void in the Georgia linebacker corps for 2013. Talent certainly isn’t an issue for coordinator Todd Grantham, as Jenkins was impressive as a freshman in limited action last year and is poised to be one of the new leaders for Georgia’s defense. In 14 games last season, Jenkins recorded 31 tackles, five sacks and one forced fumble. Replacing Jones’ production on the outside won’t be easy, but Jenkins should easily push for 10 sacks this year.

7. Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington, DE, Ohio State
The Buckeyes have no shortage of talent on the roster, but the defensive line is a concern with four new starters stepping into the lineup. Spence and Washington are expected to be the new leaders for the line in 2013, as both players were top-30 recruits in the 2012 signing class and impressed in limited action last year. Spence recorded 12 tackles and one sack in 11 appearances, while Washington recorded nine tackles and three sacks in 10 games. The Big Ten is thin on proven talent at defensive end, but players like Spence and Washington could turn this position into a strength by October.

8. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Despite losing Montee Ball, the Badgers aren’t too worried about their rushing attack. With Gordon and James White returning, it’s easy to see why running back is near the bottom of concerns for new coach Gary Andersen. After rushing for 98 yards as a freshman in 2011, Gordon gashed opposing defenses for 621 yards on 62 attempts last fall, averaging 10 yards a carry. His best performance came against Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship, recording 216 yards on nine attempts. Gordon will split carries with White, but the junior should finish as the Badgers’ leading rusher this year.

9. La’el Collins, OT, LSU
LSU fans are certainly familiar with Collins’ ability, but the rest of the nation needs to take notice. The SEC is stocked with talent at tackle, as Jake Matthews, Antonio Richardson and Cyrus Kouandjio are considered the frontrunners for first-team All-American recognition. And Tennessee’s Ja’Wuan James and Vanderbilt’s Wesley Johnson are solid players who shouldn’t be overlooked in 2013. Collins earned honorable mention All-SEC accolades last season after starting 13 games at left guard. The Baton Rouge native plans to move to left tackle this year, and at 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, Collins certainly has the size to move defenders in the run game or counteract edge rushers on passing downs. 

10. Chris Black, WR, Alabama
Amari Cooper emerged as one of the SEC’s top receivers last season, and Alabama’s receiving corps is poised to get another boost in 2013 with the addition of Black. The Jacksonville native was regarded as one of the top receiver prospects in the 2012 signing class and was expected to be a factor in the Crimson Tide’s passing attack last year. However, Black suffered a shoulder injury in August, which forced him to redshirt. The redshirt freshman is now healthy, and his emergence will provide quarterback AJ McCarron with one of the nation’s deepest receiving corps.

11. Brendan Bigelow, RB, California
Injuries have hindered Bigelow throughout his career, but if can stay healthy, the junior is a threat to rush for 1,000 yards in coach Sonny Dykes’ wide-open offense. On 44 attempts last year, Bigelow recorded 431 yards and three scores. He also averaged 23 yards per kickoff return and caught seven passes for 92 yards and one touchdown. Bigelow is a dynamic playmaker when he has the ball in his hands, so expect Dykes and coordinator Tony Franklin to get him at least 20 touches a game – provided he can avoid the pesky injury bug.

12. Vad Lee, QB, Georgia Tech
Fans of the ACC are certainly familiar with Lee, but the rest of the college football world should take notice of the sophomore in 2013. The North Carolina native did not record a start under center but played in 12 of Georgia Tech’s 14 contests. Lee threw for 596 yards and four touchdowns and showcased his athleticism by averaging 5.7 yards per carry on 96 attempts. He scored nine times on 96 attempts and had a 79-yard run against Presbyterian. Lee doesn’t have to be a dynamic thrower in Georgia Tech’s option attack, but he should be an upgrade in the passing attack over Tevin Washington.

13. Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
With four starters returning, Stanford’s offensive line is expected to be one of the best in college football in 2013. But what’s even scarier for the opposition: This unit still has room to improve, especially at left tackle. There’s where Peat comes into play. As a freshman in 2012, the Arizona native didn’t make a start but played in 13 games. With David Yankey sliding back to guard, Peat is poised to step into the lineup and solidify Stanford’s left tackle position.

14. Jermauria Rasco, DE, LSU
Despite having to replace a handful of key players from last year’s defense, LSU’s defense is expected to remain near the top of the SEC once again. The line will miss Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery, but Rasco and Danielle Hunter aren’t short on talent and will be a handful for opposing linemen this season. Rasco was a five-star recruit in the 2011 signing class and has played in 22 games in his first two years at LSU. Although he doesn’t have a start under his belt, Rasco has 27 tackles and two sacks during that span. The junior is expected to anchor one of the end spots for coordinator John Chavis and could earn All-SEC honors at the conclusion of 2013.

15. Quinshad Davis, WR, North Carolina
The Tar Heels sped up the tempo in coach Larry Fedora’s first season in Chapel Hill, averaging 40.6 points per game and finishing 14th nationally in total offense (485.6 yards per game). Quarterback Bryn Renner is back in 2013, and the entire offense has a full offseason to learn under Fedora and his staff. Even though the Tar Heels have to replace running back Giovani Bernard and top offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper, this offense could improve upon its yards and points per game. Renner’s go-to target in the passing game should be Davis, who turned in an impressive freshman season with 61 catches for 776 yards and five scores. Davis played well late in the year, catching 32 passes over the final three games, including 16 in a win against Virginia. Expect the sophomore to be one of the ACC’s leading receivers in 2013.

16. Marion Grice, RB, Arizona State
Arizona State had three running backs record over 100 carries last season, but with Cameron Marshall expiring his eligibility, Grice is due for an increase in touches. In his first year after transferring in from a junior college, Grice rushed for 679 yards and 11 scores and caught 41 passes for 425 yards and eight touchdowns. The Texas native came on strong at the end of the year, gashing Arizona for 156 yards and three scores and Navy for 159 yards and two touchdowns. Although DJ Foster will see plenty of work, Grice should be Arizona State’s leading rusher and could push for All-Pac-12 recognition in 2013.

17. Alex Carter, CB, Stanford
In an offensive-minded league like the Pac-12, it’s not easy for any true freshman to step onto the field at cornerback. However, Carter did just that last year, earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors in the process. In 14 games (with eight starts), the Virginia native recorded 46 tackles and three forced fumbles. With another offseason under his belt, Carter should continue to develop into one of the Pac-12’s top cornerbacks this season.

18. Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
There’s no question the Crimson Tide will miss center Barrett Jones, guard Chance Warmack and tackle D.J. Fluker this year. However, with the return of left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and guard Anthony Steen, a solid foundation in place. Kelly is slated to replace Jones at center, and the Ohio native already has plenty of game action under his belt. With Jones hobbled by a foot injury last season, Kelly played in nine contests and impressed in limited action. Equaling the accolades and performance Jones had during his four years in Tuscaloosa is nearly impossible, but Kelly should ensure Alabama’s offensive line remains one of the nation’s best.

19. Daniel Sams/Jake Waters, QB, Kansas State
It’s a bit of a cop out to list Sams and Waters here, but both players are capable of keeping Kansas State in the Big 12 title race. Sams is a dynamic athlete, recording 235 yards and eight rushing touchdowns on 32 attempts in 2012. He only threw eight passes last year but completed six throws for 55 yards. Waters comes to Kansas State after two years at Iowa Western Community College. The Iowa native had a huge 2012 season, earning NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year honors after throwing for 3,501 yards and 39 scores. Although Waters isn’t as dynamic on the ground as Sams, the junior isn’t a statue in the pocket. There’s no question Collin Klein will be missed this year. However, the Wildcats’ offense shouldn't fall off much with Sams or Waters leading the way.

20. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri
The nation’s No. 1 recruit in the 2012 signing class had a relatively quiet debut. Green-Beckham was suspended for one game and finished the year with just 28 receptions for 395 yards and five scores. However, Green-Beckham’s performance picked up late in the season, catching 21 passes over the final five games, with a touchdown catch coming in each of the last three contests. With quarterback James Franklin closer to 100 percent after shoulder surgery last year, Missouri’s passing attack is poised to improve in 2013. All signs point to Green-Beckham having a good offseason, which should translate into more production.

21. Jeremy Smith, RB, Oklahoma State
It might be a little too obvious to list Smith in this article, but after playing behind Joseph Randle and Kendall Hunter, it’s his time to shine. In his first three years in Stillwater, Smith has rushed for 1,439 yards and 25 touchdowns. Smith’s best performance in his career came against Grambling in 2009, recording 160 yards and one score on 15 attempts. However, the Tulsa native has played well in Big 12 action, rushing for 140 yards and two touchdowns against Texas in 2011. With Randle playing in the NFL, this is Smith’s job to lose, and the senior should rank near the top of the Big 12 in rushing yards this year.

22. Bud Dupree, DE, Kentucky
New coach Mark Stoops played a key role in turning around Florida State’s defense, and Big Blue Nation hopes he can develop Dupree and junior college transfer Za’Darius Smith into All-SEC ends. Dupree played last season as the rush end in Kentucky’s 3-4 scheme, but he will slide exclusively into one of the end spots in 2013. The Georgia native recorded 91 tackles and 6.5 sacks last season and should continue to develop with a defined role coming off the edge. Double-digit sacks isn’t out of the question for Dupree this year.

23. Dontre Wilson, RB/WR, Ohio State
If Ohio State wants to play for a Big Ten title, keeping quarterback Braxton Miller healthy is priority No. 1. Miller took a pounding last season, and coach Urban Meyer would like to see the supporting cast take a bigger role in the offense. Thanks to top-notch recruiting, Meyer appears to have found a big-time playmaker for Miller. Wilson is a 5-foot-10, 174 pound running back/receiver that will be a dangerous option for Ohio State’s offense. The Texas native shined in fall practice and could fill the “Percy Harvin position” that Meyer wants to establish. With running back Carlos Hyde suspended for the first three games, Wilson should expect to see plenty of carries and passes in his direction in the early part of the year.    

24. Mario Edwards Jr., DE, Florida State
The Seminoles lose four key players from a defensive line that played a significant role in finishing first in the ACC in rush defense, along with ranking sixth nationally in points allowed. While ends Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine will be missed, there’s no shortage of talent returning to Tallahassee. The next star on Florida State’s line should be Edwards, who was pressed into action after an early-season injury to Brandon Jenkins. Although it was a small sample size, Edwards showcased why he was one of the top recruits in the 2012 signing class, recording 17 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for a loss. With a full offseason to work in the weight room and learn under new ends coach Sal Sunseri, Edwards is primed for a breakout year in Tallahassee.

25. Robbie Rhodes, WR, Baylor
The Bears know what they have in senior receiver Tevin Reese, and Antwan Goodley and Levi Norwood are back after combining for 57 receptions last year. But the receiving corps could use another gamebreaker to help ease the loss of Terrance Williams. Could Rhodes be that player? The true freshman has been one of the stars of fall camp, catching four passes for 112 yards and a touchdown in the team’s second scrimmage. Rhodes was rated as the No. 4 receiver in the 2013 recruiting class by Athlon Sports, and all signs point to a big season from the true freshman.

26. Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas
New coach Bret Bielema had one of the nation’s top rushing attacks under his direction at Wisconsin and is building a run-first mentality in Fayetteville. Sophomore Jonathan Williams is expected to open the year as the starter at running back, but Collins will see plenty of action. The Florida native ranked as the No. 13 running back in the nation by and earned Broward County Player of the Year honors after rushing for 1,786 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2012. As Bielema’s offenses showed at Wisconsin, there’s plenty of carries available for two running backs. And even though he may not open the year as the starter, Collins will make it difficult for the coaching staff to keep him on the sidelines for long.

27. Deontay Greenberry, WR, Houston
Even with the departure of running back Charles Sims, Houston should have one of the American Athletic Conference’s top offenses in 2013. The Cougars averaged 32.4 points a game last year despite inconsistent quarterback play, and coach Tony Levine’s decision to hire Doug Meacham as co-offensive coordinator should pay dividends. Greenberry was a huge catch on the recruiting trail for Levine, and he didn’t disappoint as a true freshman, grabbing 47 receptions for 569 yards and three scores. The sophomore should approach 60-70 catches in 2013 and is an Athlon Sports second-team American Athletic Conference selection for this season.

28. Byron Marshall, RB, Oregon
Replacing Kenjon Barner is likely to be a three-man task in Oregon’s backfield. Junior De’Anthony Thomas is a dynamic all-around threat but won’t handle 25-30 carries a week. True freshman Thomas Tyner will see plenty of time, but the Ducks’ workhorse could be Marshall. As a true freshman last season, he recorded 447 yards and four touchdowns. Marshall had one 100-yard effort in 2012, gashing Tennessee Tech for 125 yards on 13 attempts. Expect the California native to factor prominently into Oregon’s ground attack this year.

29. Deon Bush, S, Miami
Finding answers on defense is the top priority for Miami coach Al Golden this offseason. The Hurricanes ranked last in the ACC in rushing, pass and total defense, and coordinator Mark D’Onofrio will have seven new full-time starters stepping into the lineup. Bush was one of the few bright spots for Miami last year, as he recorded 34 stops, three forced fumbles and one tackle for a loss. Even though he’s only a sophomore, Bush should be a leader in Miami’s secondary in 2013 and is expected to push for All-ACC honors.

30. Taysom Hill, QB, BYU
With Riley Nelson battling a back injury last year, BYU was forced to hand the reins of the offense to Hill in his first season with the Cougars. The Idaho native responded by throwing for 235 yards and one touchdown and recording 80 yards on the ground in a 6-3 win over Utah State. Hill also recorded 255 yards and two touchdowns against Hawaii. A knee injury ended Hill’s season prematurely but is not expected to hinder his sophomore campaign. Robert Anae has returned to Provo to coordinate the offense, and BYU is hoping to speed up the tempo this year. Although Hill is still growing as a passer, his dual-threat ability should allow him to make plenty of plays in 2013.

31. Devin Funchess, TE, Michigan
With Devin Gardner set to assume the full-time quarterback job, the Wolverines will use more of a pro-style offense in 2013. Gardner proved he is ready to emerge as one of the Big Ten’s top quarterbacks after a strong finish to the year, and now Michigan needs to find a few dependable receivers this fall to complement Jeremy Gallon. Funchess could emerge as the team’s No. 2 target after catching 15 passes for 234 yards and five scores as a true freshman last year. The 6-foot-5 target should be a valuable weapon over the middle and in the red zone for Gardner and could easily double his 2012 numbers.

32. Akeem Hunt, RB, Purdue
New Purdue coach Darrell Hazell developed Kent State’s offense into one of the nation's most productive rushing attacks last year, finishing 18th at 225.8 yards per game. With an unsettled quarterback situation, the Boilermakers need a big season from their ground game, which is likely to be headlined by Hunt. The 5-foot-9 back resembles Kent State standout Dri Archer, and Purdue hopes he has a similar impact in 2013. Hunt rushed for 335 yards, caught 13 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns and averaged 22.2 yards on 39 kickoff returns last year. Expect Hunt to play a similar all-around role in 2013, but he also will see a significant increase in carries.

33. Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
Even though there's a new starting quarterback in Norman, the Sooners will continue to have one of the Big 12’s top offenses in 2013. And both passers have plenty of weapons at their disposal, including Jalen Saunders, Trey Metoyer and rising star Sterling Shepard. Saunders, Justin Brown and Kenny Stills overshadowed Shepard’s play last year. However, as a true freshman, he caught 45 passes for 621 yards and three scores. Shepard did not have a touchdown reception over the final five games, but he caught at least three passes in each of the last six contests. Saunders is clearly Oklahoma’s No. 1 target. However, expect Shepard to be an even bigger factor in the Sooners’ attack this year.

34. Eli Harold, DE, Virginia
It’s an overused cliché, but Virginia’s defense should be more aggressive in 2013. Jon Tenuta joins the Cavaliers’ staff from NC State, and the veteran coordinator has promised to turn up the pressure on opposing quarterbacks this year. Harold should benefit from the change in schemes and is expected to be the unit’s top pass-rusher. In 12 games last year as a true freshman, Harold recorded 36 stops, two sacks and one forced fumble. At 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, the Virginia native has the athleticism to be a standout pass-rusher and could easily triple his sack total from last season under Tenuta’s direction.

35. Jeff Luc, LB, Cincinnati
With Greg Blair and Nick Temple returning, Cincinnati’s linebacking corps was already set to be the best in the American Athletic Conference this year. And this group could be among the top groups in the nation, provided Luc lives up to the hype in 2013. Luc played in 19 games with Florida State, recording 23 tackles and three tackles for a loss. The Florida native was regarded as a top-100 recruit coming out of high school.


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Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/college-football-2013-win-total-projections

The 2013 college football season is officially here. With kickoff on Thursday night, it’s time to make those final preseason predictions and projections. 

Even if you don't place any wagers on sports, the lines/projections from the good folks in Vegas are always something to check out before each season and before each week of games. Not only is it interesting content, but Vegas has a good pulse on the teams and is often one of the most accurate sources of predictions.
To get ready for the upcoming college football season, Athlon took a look at how its predictions matched up against a couple of sports books.

Athlon and the sports books in Vegas largely agreed the win totals for teams, as there weren't many large variations in projections. However, below are a few props we like heading into 2013, as well as a few that should be avoided. 

College Football's Win Total Projections for 2013

Team5 DimesCantorLVHBovadaThe GreekSportsbookAthlon
Air Force6.5  6.5  6
Akron2.5     2
Arizona7.5  7.57.587
Arizona State9.5887.58 8
Arkansas5.5  5.5  5
Arkansas State7.5     6
Army4.5  4.5  3
Auburn6.5  6.57 6
Ball State9.5     9
Baylor7.5  88 8
Boise State10.59.59.510109.511
Boston College4.5  4.5  4
Bowling Green8.5     8
Buffalo5.5     5
BYU8.5 7.58 7.57
California4.5  4  4
Central Michigan4.5     3
Cincinnati9.5  9.5  9
Colorado3.5  3.5  3
Colorado State5.5     5
Connecticut5.5  5.5  5
Duke5.5  5.5  5
East Carolina7.5     7
Eastern Michigan2.5     1
FAU3.5  2.5  3
FIU2.5  3  2
Florida State10.5101010.5101010
Fresno State10.510 10  10
Georgia State2.5     1
Georgia Tech8.5  88.5 8
Hawaii3.5  3.5  1
Houston5.5  5.5  5
Idaho1.5  1.5  1
Illinois3.5  3.5  4
Indiana5.5  5.5  6
Iowa5.5  5.56 4
Iowa State5.5  5.5  5
Kansas3.5  3.5  3
Kansas State8.5 787.57.58
Kent State5.5     6
Kentucky3.5  4.5  4
Louisiana Tech5.5     7
Marshall9.5     8
Maryland6.5  6.5 77
Memphis4.5  4.5  4
Miami (Ohio)4.5     4
Michigan State8.58.58.5 8.58.57
Minnesota5.5  5.5  6
Mississippi State5.5  66 6
Missouri5.5  66 5
MTSU5.5     7
Navy6.5  6.5  7
NC State6.5  77 7
Nevada6.56.565.5 66
New Mexico4.5     4
New Mexico State2.5     2
North Carolina9.5  99 8
North Texas5.5     3
Northern Illinois9.5  9.5  9
Northwestern8.5 7.58.5 7.59
Notre Dame9.598.
Ohio9.5     9
Ohio State11.510.510.511111112
Oklahoma State10.
Ole Miss8.5 7.5887.57
Oregon State8.5 88.5888
Penn State8.5  88 8
Pittsburgh5.5  5.56 6
Purdue5.5  5.5  4
Rice7.5     8
Rutgers6.5  77 7
San Diego State7.5  7.5  7
San Jose State7.5     7
SMU5.5  5.5  4
South Alabama2.5     3
South Carolina9.
South Florida5.5  5.5  7
Southern Miss5.5     5
Syracuse4.5  4.5  4
Temple4.5  4.5  4
Tennessee5.5  66 6
Texas A&M9.  10
Texas State5.5     4
Texas Tech7.5  7.5  7
Toledo8.5     8
Troy5.5     6
Tulane5.5     4
Tulsa8.5     9
UAB5.5     5
UCF8.5  8  7
UL Lafayette8.5     9
ULM7.5     7
UMass1.5  1.5  1
UNLV4.533.5  3.53
USC10. 9
Utah5.5 5.55.5 5.55
Utah State7.5  5.5  7
UTEP4.5     5
UTSA2.5     1
Vanderbilt7.5  7.57 8
Virginia4.5  4.5  4
Virginia Tech9.58.5 8.58.5 8
Wake Forest5.5  5.5  6
Washington State4.5  4.5  4
West Virginia5.5  66 6
Western Kentucky6.5     7
Western Michigan5.5     6
Wyoming5.5     7

Over Totals We Like

With a win total of 11 or 11.5, you have to bank on the Crimson Tide not losing a game. Considering there’s no Georgia, Florida or South Carolina on the schedule, LSU visits Tuscaloosa and Virginia Tech doesn’t look like much of a threat in the opener, Alabama’s chances of going unbeaten in the regular season seem pretty likely. Of course, there’s a huge contest against Texas A&M on Sept. 14, but it’s pretty safe to assume we will see a motivated Crimson Tide squad out for revenge in that game.

Boise State
In a bit of a surprise, most of the win projections have the Broncos at 10 or 9.5 victories. In a “rebuilding year” last year, Boise State went 11-2 and both losses were by four points or less. The Broncos have some key personnel departures, but quarterback Joe Southwick is back and the front seven should be one of the best in the Mountain West. Games at Washington, Fresno State, Utah State and San Diego State won’t be easy, but Boise State should be hitting double-digit victories once again.

This is one projection that’s right on the line. The Tigers are projected by most to hit 9.5-10 wins, while Athlon has Clemson finishing with 11 in the regular season. Although the Tigers have a reputation of underachieving, this team has finished 21-6 over the last two years. The schedule is favorable in conference play, with the toughest games (Georgia Tech, Florida State) in Death Valley. Assuming Clemson sweeps ACC play, its win total essentially comes down to two games against SEC opponents – Georgia and at South Carolina. With the Bulldogs rebuilding their defense, Clemson has a good chance to knock off another opponent against the SEC.

Athlon has the Hoosiers at six victories, while two other projections have the over/under for Kevin Wilson’s team set at 5.5 We like the over for Indiana. The Hoosiers have a challenging non-conference slate, but while matchups against Navy, Bowling Green and Missouri aren’t guaranteed victories, Indiana should get at least two wins out of that trio. In conference play, the Hoosiers will be favored to beat Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue. If Wilson’s team gets through non-conference play with three victories, Indiana should hit six or seven wins in 2013.

Kansas State
It’s easy to find reasons not to pick the Wildcats to finish among the top four or five teams in the Big 12 this year. Quarterback Collin Klein must be replaced, and the defense only has two returning starters. However, bet against coach Bill Snyder at your own risk. Kansas State always finds a way to reload under Snyder, and the new quarterbacks (Jake Waters and Daniel Sams) will keep the offense performing at a high level. The schedule also sets up in the Wildcats’ favor, especially with swing games against Iowa State, TCU and Oklahoma coming later in the year, giving Snyder plenty of time to get the new faces acclimated to life in the Big 12.

With a loaded roster and favorable schedule, there’s a good chance the Cardinals finish with 11 or 12 wins this year. A couple of projections have Louisville at 10.5 on the over/under, but where are the two losses coming from? Maybe the Cardinals won’t go unbeaten. However, it’s hard to find two guaranteed defeats on this schedule.

The Wolverines finished 8-5 with a difficult schedule last season, but three losses came by a touchdown or less. Although quarterback Denard Robinson is gone, Michigan should be able to increase its win total in 2013. Quarterback Devin Gardner is a better fit for coach Brady Hoke’s pro-style offense, and the defense has more depth due to some good recruiting in recent years. The schedule features games against Notre Dame, Penn State and a difficult November stretch against the Legends Division frontrunners – Nebraska, Michigan State and Northwestern. We like Michigan to win at least nine games this year, so the 8.5 over/under seems a little low.

Coming off a 10-3 season, Northwestern has its sights set on contending for a Big Ten title. And with quarterback Kain Colter, running back Venric Mark and seven starters coming back on defense, the Wildcats are poised to push for 10 wins once again. Northwestern does have a challenging schedule, which features Ohio State and Wisconsin in crossover play with the Leaders Division. However, the non-conference slate should result in four wins, and the Wildcats host Michigan and Michigan State. Even if Northwestern loses to Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Nebraska, taking the over in 8.5 seems favorable.

South Florida
The Bulls were one of the Big East’s biggest disappointments last year, finishing 3-9 with only one victory in conference play. South Florida should be improved in 2013, largely due to the hire of new coach Willie Taggart. The Bulls need to find a new quarterback and a go-to running back, but the defense is strong enough to carry this team to a bowl. Non-conference games against Michigan State and Miami are likely losses, and beating Cincinnati, Louisville, Rutgers and UCF will be difficult. However, the rest of the schedule is manageable, and South Florida could pull off an upset if Matt Floyd stabilizes the quarterback position. Taggart is one of the offseason’s top hires, and he should make a big impact with the Bulls in 2013.

The Bruins have represented the Pac-12 South Division in the last two conference championship games, but Jim Mora’s team may have trouble making it three in a row. The schedule is challenging, which features crossover games against North Division foes Oregon, Stanford and Washington, along with a non-conference matchup against Nebraska. Even if UCLA loses against Oregon, Stanford and Nebraska and at USC in the regular season finale, the over at 6.5 or 7 is one we like.

Take the Under

Coming off a 4-8 season, it’s hard to see the Hawkeyes making a significant jump in wins for 2013. Quarterback James Vandenberg must be replaced, and Iowa needs to find a few more playmakers at receiver. Non-conference games against Northern Illinois and Iowa State aren’t guaranteed wins, and the Hawkeyes have to play Ohio State and Wisconsin in crossover play. Six wins on the over/under is too high.

North Carolina
Nine wins isn’t out of the question, but the Coastal Division is tough to sort out with Miami, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and the Tar Heels all having legitimate conference title hopes. The Tar Heels open at South Carolina and have tricky road dates at NC State and Pittsburgh. This is one projection that’s just too close to call.

Ole Miss
With road games against Texas, Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt, along with home dates versus Texas A&M and LSU, it’s easy to see why Ole Miss may have trouble matching last year’s win total. Even though the Rebels have a top-notch recruiting class coming, just getting to eight wins would be a good season.

The Trojans have one of the most talented rosters in the Pac-12, but Lane Kiffin’s team is coming off a disappointing 7-6 season. With a new quarterback and defensive scheme, can this team make a three or four game improvement in the win column? Although Athlon has USC at nine victories, taking the over at 10.5 or 9.5 is risky.

Virginia Tech
The Hokies were one of the ACC’s biggest disappointments last year. Three of Virginia Tech’s victories came in overtime and they needed a 17-14 win over Virginia just to get bowl eligible. Although the defense might be the best in the ACC, the offense will struggle once again. The line struggled in the preseason, and the rushing attack is still searching for a No. 1 back. Anything above eight victories is too much.


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College Football 2013 Win Total Projections: Athlon vs. Vegas
Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 07:14
Path: /college-football/mtsu-unveils-new-white-helmet

MTSU has worn a silver helmet since 1979, but the Blue Raiders introduced a black matte helmet last season and will break out a white alternate for 2013. These helmets could be worn in a few games this year and one variation will feature an American flag inside the team logo on Nov. 9. 

Photo tweeted by (@UniWatch)


MTSU Unveils New White Helmet
Post date: Friday, August 23, 2013 - 11:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oklahoma Sooners, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/trevor-knight-named-oklahomas-starting-quarterback

Surprise, surprise. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has picked his starting quarterback. And it isn’t the passer most expected to win the job after spring practice. Redshirt freshman Trevor Knight was selected as the Sooners’ No. 1 quarterback, edging junior Blake Bell this fall.

Bell was widely considered the frontrunner to replace Landry Jones, especially since he played in a specialty role in the offense over the last two years. Bell recorded 24 rushing scores from 2011-12 but threw only 20 passes during that span.

Although Bell showed he is a good runner, there were doubts about his passing ability.

Bell is expected to continue playing in a specialty role, which will give Oklahoma a dangerous threat around the goal-line once again.

What does Knight bring to the table? Since he hasn’t taken a snap, the redshirt freshman is largely a mystery. However, Knight was rated as a four-star recruit by and helped Oklahoma’s defense plan for Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel by imitating the Heisman winner on the scout team.

Knight has good mobility, but even though the media hasn’t had much of a chance to watch him in practice, the redshirt freshman is regarded for having a good arm and is capable of making all of the throws to thrive in this offense.

Oklahoma should be a factor in the Big 12 title picture. And if Knight ends up being a special player as some think he may turn out to be this year, the Sooners could finish the year as a top-10 team. However, as with every first-year starting quarterback, there will be bumps in the road.

Trevor Knight Named Oklahoma's Starting Quarterback
Post date: Friday, August 23, 2013 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-august-22

This time next week we can officially get into single digits for hours until kickoff.

Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Thursday, August 22nd

Oklahoma State has picked up a quarterback transfer from Connecticut

Can Marcus Mariota break the Oregon quarterback curse?

Did Johnny Manziel become college football's villain?

Will Texas Tech play two freshmen quarterbacks in its season opener?

Former four-star recruit Matt Davis has decided to transfer from Texas A&M.

Georgia Tech center Jay Finch is dealing with a shoulder injury.

NC State running back Shadrach Thornton was given deferred prosecution for his recent arrest. He is suspended for the season opener.

Iowa State has landed South Florida transfer receiver D'Vario Montgomery.

USA Today profiles Bobby Petrino's return to coaching at Western Kentucky.

Minnesota is dealing with injuries to running back Berkley Edwards and cornerback Derrick Wells.

Notre Dame and Everett Golson have a plan before he returns to the team after this year.

Alabama continues to shuffle its offensive line to find the right mix.

Baylor has good depth at defensive end.

Junior college recruit Kevin White continues to stand out at receiver for West Virginia.

San Jose State has added BYU, Oregon State and Auburn to its future schedules.

BC Interruption takes a look at which freshmen might play for first-year coach Steve Addazio in 2013.

Post date: Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 17:08