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Path: /college-football/jerry-kill-may-have-been-college-footballs-last-pure-coach
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I was sad to hear the news of Jerry Kill's retirement today. I've long considered him the best developer of talent in all of college football as well as one of the best X's and O's guys in the game.

 

Kill did what many of us should strive to do every day: improve everything you touch. Throughout his coaching career, every college football program lucky enough to have Kill be a part of it was in better shape when he left than when he arrived. He knew how to recruit the right players — not just the best ones. He valued continuity. He valued coaching the individual. He won games.

 

In a world where we dedicate so much time covering recruiting and focusing on its impact, Kill made a living coaching up the players he could get and getting the most out of them. Despite a down season this year, Kill resurrected the Minnesota football program and made it matter again. He established a culture of winning the old-fashioned way: run the ball well and play stingy defense.

 

All too often in college football, we see coaches using their current job as a stepping stone to get their next gig. It's not the fact that they do it that bothers me, but the fact that they are often so obvious about it. You never felt that way with Kill. I always saw him as totally invested in the player and program wherever he was.

 

His name came up for a lot of jobs over the past couple of seasons, but I always felt like Minnesota was going to be his last stop. Coaching at Minnesota is an underrated job. It's the only FBS school in the state and calls a sizeable metro "home." You can win there, and Kill did just that. Unfortunately for those who follow in his footsteps, he proved that it's possible to build a winning football program in Minnesota — or anywhere else for that matter — without any excuses.

 

Kill may very well have been college football's last pure coach. He didn't recruit like a car salesman. He and his staff weren't flashy. He focused on teaching and player development. If we had more people doing what Kill did, I truly believe you'd see a cleaner college football landscape when it came to recruiting, oversigning and transfers. He was good for Minnesota, the Big Ten and all of college football.

 

He leaves his Minnesota Golden Gophers in capable hands, complete with a new stadium and newfound fan support. Like every other stop along the way, Minnesota is now better for having had Jerry Kill be part of its program. He will be missed.

 

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Scott is the editor-in-chief of KnowItAllFootball.com, a Big Ten site for Big Ten fans. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.

Teaser:
Jerry Kill May Have Been College Football's Last Pure Coach
Post date: Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 12:30
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-week-9-2015
Body:

Week 9 of the 2015 college football season presents plenty of opportunities for both tricks and treats depending on who you are rooting for. It would appear as though the road to the College Football Playoff has already been paved, but as we all know, this last weekend in October seems to almost always give us some scary results that flip the script on the entire season.

 

Here are my outrageous predictions for Week 9.

 

Miami upsets Duke

Did you ever think you'd see those words in that order? That's the college football world we live in. A week after losing their coach, look for the Hurricanes to come out swinging and hang a couple of quick touchdowns. That'll put Duke in a position where the Blue Devils need to come from behind and possibly get into a shootout, which their offense is not equipped to do.


Rutgers takes down Wisconsin

Wisconsin has a banged-up quarterback and offensive line in front of a group of running backs not named Corey Clement. Rutgers has Leonte Carroo — the Big Ten's best receiver — and a stable of running backs as tough as any in the conference. Look for Rutgers to suffocate Alex Erickson and force Joel Stave to look elsewhere for a playmaker, only to find he has none. Rutgers controls the clock, ball and game from wire-to-wire.


Vanderbilt ends Houston's dream season

The Commodores are improving by the minute. Houston has dreams of crashing the College Football Playoff. The only thing crashing will be Tom Herman's Cougars back to earth, as Vanderbilt flexes its SEC muscles and turns Houston's dream season into a Halloween nightmare.


Auburn eliminates Ole Miss

Many forget that only one of Ole Miss' losses is in conference. As a result, the Rebels are still very much alive in the SEC West. Look for Auburn to change that. An early kickoff time in this one will lead to Ole Miss sleepwalking through the first quarter before the visitors realize what has hit them. By then it will be too late, as the Auburn defense will be pinning its ears back and teeing off on Chad Kelly.


Notre Dame blanks Temple

No, I'm not saying it'll be a surprise when Notre Dame beats Temple. I'm saying Temple isn't going to score a single point. The Owls are getting an awful lot of credit for beating an average Penn State team and navigating a fairly easy schedule thus far. Look for Brian Kelly's Irish to make a statement to the nation in this one. Notre Dame is a contender. Temple is a pretender. Kelly won't call off the dogs.

 

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Scott is the editor-in-chief of KnowItAllFootball.com, a Big Ten site for Big Ten fans. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.

Teaser:
Outrageous College Football Predictions for Week 9
Post date: Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 12:00
Path: /college-football/top-ten-cocktails-you-will-see-worlds-largest-outdoor-cocktail-party
Body:

This weekend’s game in Jacksonville, Fla., might be the deciding factor in the SEC East division as Georgia or Florida can take full control of their destiny in what I will forever call the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.” I have no ambition to be politically correct. Deal with it. This article isn’t intended to break down the game. Instead, I'm going to tackle the real story in Jacksonville, and examine the 10 cocktails you'll see this weekend. Yes, there will be different variations, but I guarantee these will be available at any tailgate you visit. And if you can’t find at least one of these, you need to promptly leave and find better friends.

 

Also, these are in no particular order and if you see one I've forgotten, let me know on Twitter @justinnails

 

So with that, let’s look at the 10 cocktails you'll see in Jacksonville this weekend.

 

1. The Bloody Mary

When you start drinking on Thursday and don’t stop until some time Sunday afternoon, at the earliest, you must have a powerful morning cocktail that not only stops the alcohol shakes, but also gives you key nutrients, such as vegetables a la tomato juice.

 

2. The Mimosa

Yet another classic breakfast cocktail. Mimosa’s are the go-to drink for brunch, but don’t put this cocktail in some sort of corner. Spruce it up a bit. Add some cranberry juice and make it a “ Mad Mosa” or if you’re really from the South, ditch the champagne all together and kick it up to a “Southern Mosa” with some Miller Genuine Draft. Any time you can add beer to a cocktail, I’m all for it. 

 

3. Red Bull & Vodka

Bro out, bro. The Red Bull and vodka will be there to lift you up right when you're feeling like you may want to sit out a round or two. Don’t let yourself and your entire family down. Keep drinking. You’ll thank me later. This cocktail provides energy while completely covering up any sign that you are downing vodka at an alarming rate. Be careful with this one. It will make you feel like you can run a marathon. You have a belly full of vodka, I assure you, you cannot. 

 

4. Jack & Coke

There are many variations to this cocktail. Jack and Coke, Jack and Diet Coke, Makers Mark and Dr. Pepper, Southern Comfort and Coke. I could go on for days. It’s simple yet classy enough for an event like this. If I were you, I would just buy a cup, a 2-liter and walk around offering a buck or two to anyone who would pour me a shot of whatever to mix with your choice of cola. That way, you can stay mobile and be at all the great tailgating spots. 

 

5. The Four Horseman

Warning: This drink is not for the amateur drinker. There is a reason this drink is what legends are made of. This drink brings together the Four Horseman of the Society of Alcoholic Gentlemen. Jim, Jack, Johnny and Jose. All together in one glass. This drink in human form would be those four guys that come to every party, win 16 games of beer pong in a row, then challenge you to 10 games of flip cup, beat you at that and then finish the night/early morning either playing corn hole, pool or sling the ring. They are just cooler than everyone else, better at life and you can’t hang with them if you tried. 

 

6. Tequila & (insert flavor) Margarita Mix

I didn’t want to call this a margarita because I know some hotty toddy out there will get their panties in a bunch because I called this concoction a margarita. Once again, college students can make the best of everything and we could all learn a lesson or two especially when it comes to cheap booze. 

 

This cocktail is easy, cheap and goes down just the same. Grab a large bowl or cooler, mix whatever cheap tequila that you can stomach without instantly throwing up, add your favorite margarita mix, some ice and boom, instant margaritas. Just be careful. Those large plastic bottles of tequila are deceptively cunning and will have you calling dinosaurs before you know it. 

 

7. Cinnamon Whiskey & Coke

Yep, cinnamon whiskey is here to stay and paired with a cold Coca-Cola is a treat that you deserve. Now I will admit, I always say I’m not a huge fan of the cinnamon whiskey, until someone brings out a bottle of Fireball and I find myself taking shots against my will. Why? Because it’s really hard to say no to cinnamon whiskey. 

 

7b. Fireball & RumChata

Do yourself a favor and buy these two before you start your tailgate. This match made in heaven is one drink that I will endorse forever. The only way I can describe this drink is that it tastes exactly like the leftover milk after you have eaten a big bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. You’re welcome. 

 

8. The Vodka Tonic

Throw in a splash of lime and this is a timeless classic. You just can’t beat the taste, the simplicity and the price. I prefer Barrett’s Lime Vodka. Yes, I’m classy. Also, try mixing in a little Margaritaville Strawberry Mix in with the Vodka Tonic. It kicks it up another notch and adds a ton of alcohol to the mix as well. 

 

9. The John Daly

I’ve heard this mix of sweet tea, lemonade and vodka called a lot of things but having John Daly as the face of a drink is really a dream come true. He is, after all, living the American Dream. Playing golf, drinking as much as possible and doing it in fancy clothes. 

 

Do you, John. Do you. 

 

This cocktail brings two staples of Southern living with sweet tea and lemonade. But remember that it is within that mix that the drink is perfected. If you screw up the balance of sweet tea and lemonade, you will be fighting it all day. Do yourself a favor and master that mix before you try to add vodka. Because you can never have too much vodka. 

 

10. The Old Fashioned

Somewhere, somehow, someone is going to have a full bar set up on the back of his Dad’s Chevy Silverado and it will have all the ingredients you need for what is the go-to cocktail for any self respected Southern gentleman. The Old Fashioned is just that, it’s old fashioned and is made to feel like you are a part of something great. Add whatever bourbon or whiskey you prefer but don’t go cheap on this one. Use a good bottle and make it last. This is one cocktail you want to savor. Plus, you’re going to look better, smell better and seem better than everyone else around you when you’re holding an Old Fashioned.

 

Honorable Mention: Beer

 

No list about this weekend would ever leave out the one thing that everyone will be drinking that is not a cocktail: beer. So grab a case of Natty Lights, Bud Light or PBR and have them firmly planted in the cooler. Because let's face it, no party is a real party without cheap beer.

 

— Written by Justin Nails, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @justinnails.

Teaser:
10 Cocktails You'll See at the Georgia-Florida Game (aka "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party")
Post date: Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/five-biggest-beatdowns-florida-vs-georgia-rivalry-history
Body:

Florida and Georgia fans will congregate in Jacksonville this weekend as they have every year since 1933 (with the exception of 1994 and ‘95) for tailgating and merriment. It is ironic that the game was once called the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” since parties generally do not involve such intense hatred.

 

First place in the SEC East is one of the things on the line this Saturday. Will the game be close? Who knows? One thing is for certain: if either team is able to humiliate the other, it will. Here are five times that they did. (Note: I did not include Georgia’s 75-0 victory in 1942 since many of Florida’s upperclassmen were already serving in World War II. The Gators did not even field a team in 1943.)

 

All games played in Jacksonville, Fla., unless otherwise noted.

 

5. Georgia 24, Florida 3 – Nov. 9, 1985

This is the closet game on this list, but is notable for its level of devastation. The Gators were undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the nation for the first time in the program’s history. Georgia sent them crashing back to Earth with this methodical beating. The Bulldogs gained 344 yards on the ground and held Florida to 28 thanks to five sacks of quarterback Kerwin Bell. At the end of the game, Georgia head coach Vince Dooley said, “I don’t know how you play any better. Everybody was superb.”

 

4. Georgia 51, Florida 0 – Nov. 9, 1968

The Bulldogs were in the midst of an undefeated regular season when they met the Gators in heavy rain. Florida, unable to hang on to the ball in the monsoon-like weather, suffered five turnovers. The Gators did not even make it across midfield until the third quarter when Georgia was up 41-0.  

 

3. Florida 52, Georgia 17 – Oct. 28, 1995 (Athens, Ga.)

The Gator Bowl had to be refurbished to house the incoming Jacksonville Jaguars so the game was moved to Gainesville in 1994 and Athens in ‘95. Georgia was 5-3 and limping through head coach Ray Goff’s final year. Florida was undefeated and coach Steve Spurrier – at the height of his cockiness – decided he wanted the Gators to be the first team to “hang half a hundred between the hedges.” The Gators scored seven touchdowns and accomplished that goal with 1:21 left in the game.

 

2. Georgia 44, Florida 0 – Nov. 6, 1982

Herschel Walker’s last game in this rivalry produced one of the best performances of his Georgia career. Walker rushed for 219 yards and three touchdowns and did all of this in less than three quarters. The Bulldogs’ defense wreaked havoc as well, recovering five turnovers and limiting the Gators to less than 200 yards of offense.

 

1. Florida 49, Georgia 10 – Nov. 1, 2008

Georgia had won the year before in a game where the entire team ran into the end zone to celebrate the first touchdown. Although the Gators did not discuss their anger, they were seething and a picture of the celebration hung in every player’s locker. Each team had one loss when they met in 2008 and the winner would be in the driver’s seat to win the SEC East and have a possible shot at the national title. The Gators jumped out to 14-3 halftime lead and then Georgia imploded in the second half, turning the ball over four times. Florida capitalized and scored 35 unanswered points. The vindicated Gators then went on to win the SEC title and national championship.

 

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.

Teaser:
The Five Biggest Beatdowns in Florida vs. Georgia Rivalry History
Post date: Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: Baylor Bears, College Football, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/5-reasons-baylor-will-make-college-football-playoff-jarrett-stidham
Body:

Baylor’s College Football Playoff hopes took a hit this week, as quarterback Seth Russell was lost for the year due to a neck injury suffered in the win against Iowa State. Russell was one of the nation’s top quarterbacks so far this season, throwing for 2,104 yards and 29 scores and rushing for 402 yards and six touchdowns.

 

There’s no doubt Russell is going to be missed. After all, Baylor’s upcoming slate is the toughest portion of its 2015 schedule. However, while Russell is a big loss, the Bears have a talented option at quarterback in true freshman Jarrett Stidham.

 

Related: Bowl Projections After Week 8

 

Stidham has completed 24 of 28 passes for 331 yards and six touchdowns in limited action this season. How can Stidham keep Baylor in the mix for a shot at a national championship? Here are five reasons to believe the Bears can still reach the Playoff this season:

 

5 Reasons Baylor Can Make the CFB Playoff With Jarrett Stidham

 

1. Jarrett Stidham... Baylor’s Most Talented QB Since Robert Griffin III

Even though Russell was one of the nation’s top quarterbacks this season, Stidham may have more overall talent. The recruiting rankings back this line of thinking, as the true freshman was No. 38 in the 2015 247Sports Composite and was regarded as a four-star recruit. By comparison, Russell ranked No. 723 overall and was a three-star recruit. Recruiting rankings aren’t everything, but Stidham has more raw talent. How quickly can he harness that talent as the starter?

 

2. The Supporting Cast is the Best in the Big 12

Stidham now has the keys to a high-powered offense and plenty of help in the form of the Big 12’s best supporting cast. Baylor’s offensive line was considered the best in the conference going into 2015, and so far, this group has lived up to the preseason hype. The Bears have allowed only six sacks and average 6.9 yards per carry. This unit also grades high in Football Outsiders’ offensive line metrics. Running back Shock Linwood leads the Big 12 with 974 rushing yards and nine touchdowns and averages a healthy 8.1 yards per carry. Additionally, the receiving corps is the best in college football, led by junior Corey Coleman (18 TDs, 20.5 yards per catch). There’s more than enough talent here to help insulate a new starter at quarterback from having to do it all in his first few starts.

 

3. History of Art Briles’ Quarterbacks at Baylor

Briles is one of the top offensive coaches in the nation. Since 2011, Baylor has not finished below second in the Big 12 in scoring offense. The Bears lead the nation with an average of 8.4 yards per play this season and have 21 plays of 40 yards or more. Strong quarterback play is at the heart of Baylor’s offensive fireworks under Briles, developing a reputation as a “plug-and-play” system under center. Will that hold true with Stidham at the controls? Here’s the strong track record of Baylor quarterbacks under Briles:

 

YearQuarterbackCompletionsAttemptsYardsPass TDsINTCompletion PercentagePasses 40+
2010Robert Griffin III3044543,5012286714
2011Robert Griffin III2914024,2933767521
2012Nick Florence2864644,309331361.626
2013Bryce Petty2504034,2003236225
2014Bryce Petty2704283,85529763.121

 

4. Time to Prepare

While 28 passes isn’t enough of a sample size, Stidham’s limited statistics are impressive. He’s completed 24 of 28 attempts for 331 yards and six touchdowns. Additionally, Stidham’s 11.8 yards-per-attempt average is slightly more than Russell’s (10.5). Again, limited sample size, but the numbers are noteworthy. While Baylor would like Stidham to have more experience, he does have a week to prepare for Kansas State (Nov. 5) and has a few extra days (Nov. 14) to get ready for Oklahoma. With extra time to prepare for his first two starts, that’s a huge advantage for Stidham and a good way for Baylor to get him acclimiated into the starting lineup before a road date at Oklahoma State on Nov. 21 – and of course the Nov. 27 trip to TCU.

 

5. Lack of Experience Worked for Ohio State Last Year

Every team, season and case study is different, but there’s an interesting trend among teams in the national championship or playoff and experience at quarterback. From 1998-2013, 12 first-year quarterbacks played for the national title. And last year, Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones had just two starts under his belt prior to the national championship versus Oregon. Additionally, Alabama made the playoff with a first-year starter (Blake Sims). Trends and track records won’t necessarily hold up every season. However, with the skill talent Baylor has in place, along with a defense that is capable of making timely plays, creating havoc around the line of scrimmage and getting stops in the red zone, Stidham doesn’t have to be an All-American quarterback. With the talent at receiver, the Bears need Stidham to be a point guard and distribute the ball effectively, limit mistakes and produce a few big plays each game. That seems reasonable for a quarterback most recruiting sites considered one of the best in the 2015 signing class. 

Teaser:
5 Reasons Baylor Will Still Make the College Football Playoff With Jarrett Stidham at Quarterback
Post date: Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 10:30
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Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-8-bowl-projections-2015
Body:

The start of college football’s 2015-16 bowl season is just under two months away, but it’s never too early to take a peek at the potential matchups this postseason.

 

The bowl season is bigger and better than ever with 41 matchups, starting on Dec. 19 with five games. The postseason concludes on Jan. 11 with the national championship, while the playoff semifinals are on Dec. 31 this year.

 

The post-Week 8 bowl projections are a mixture between picks for the next few weeks, how things would look if the season ended today, and the results from the first six weeks of action. Expect several changes over the next two months.

 

College Football's Post-Week 8 Bowl Projections
BowlDateTie-InProjection
AutoNation CureDec. 19Sun Belt vs.
American

 Georgia Southern vs. 

Tulsa 

Gildan New MexicoDec. 19C-USA vs.
MW

Colorado State vs.

Rice 

Royal Purple
Las Vegas
Dec. 19MW/BYU vs.
Pac-12

Washington State vs.

Boise State 

Raycom Media
Camellia
Dec. 19MAC vs.
Sun Belt

 Arkansas State vs.

Ohio 

R+L Carriers
New Orleans
Dec. 19C-USA vs.
Sun Belt

 UL Lafayette vs.

MTSU 

Miami BeachDec. 21American vs.
C-USA

 Houston vs.

WKU 

Famous Idaho PotatoDec. 22MAC vs.
MW

Nevada vs. 

Northern Illinois 

Boca RatonDec. 22American vs.
MAC

 East Carolina vs.

Western Michigan  

SDCCU PoinsettiaDec. 23Mountain West vs.
Army

San Diego State vs.

California* 

GoDaddyDec. 23

MAC vs.

Sun Belt

 Appalachian State vs.

Toledo 

Popeyes BahamasDec. 24

C-USA vs.

MAC

Bowling Green vs.

Marshall 

HawaiiDec. 24American vs.
BYU/MW

 Temple vs. 

BYU 

St. PetersburgDec. 26C-USA vs. 
American

USF vs.

FIU 

Hyundai SunDec. 26ACC/ND vs.
Pac-12

 North Carolina vs.

Oregon 

Zaxby's Heart of
Dallas
Dec. 26Big 12 vs.
C-USA

 Southern Miss vs.

Kansas State 

New Era PinstripeDec. 26ACC/ND vs.
Big Ten

 Pittsburgh vs.

Nebraska 

IndependenceDec. 26ACC/ND vs.
SEC

Georgia Tech vs.

Missouri 

Foster FarmsDec. 26Big Ten vs.
Pac-12

Arizona State vs.

Northwestern 

MilitaryDec. 28ACC/ND vs.
American

 NC State vs.

Navy 

Quick LaneDec. 28ACC/ND vs.
Big Ten

 Miami vs.

Illinois 

Lockheed Martin
Armed Forces
Dec. 29MW vs.
Big Ten

Indiana vs.

Air Force 

Russell AthleticDec. 29ACC/ND vs.
Big 12

 Florida State vs.

Oklahoma State 

NOVA Home 

Loans Arizona

Dec. 29

C-USA vs. 

Mountain West

 Utah State vs.

Louisiana Tech 

AdvoCare V100
Texas
Dec. 29Big 12 vs.
SEC

Texas Tech vs.

Mississippi State 

BirminghamDec. 30American vs.
SEC

 Auburn vs.

Cincinnati 

BelkDec. 30ACC/ND vs.
SEC

 Duke vs.

Tennessee 

Franklin American
Music City
Dec. 30ACC/ND/Big Ten vs.
SEC

 Arkansas vs.

Penn State 

National University
Holiday
Dec. 30Big Ten vs.
Pac-12

 UCLA vs.

Wisconsin 

OutbackJan. 1Big Ten vs. 
SEC

 Georgia vs.

Michigan 

Buffalo Wild Wings
Citrus
Jan. 1Big Ten vs.
SEC

 Ole Miss vs.

Iowa 

TaxSlayerJan. 2ACC/ND/Big Ten vs.
SEC

 Louisville vs.

Texas A&M  

AutoZone LibertyJan. 2Big 12 vs. 
SEC

Texas vs.

Kentucky 

Valero AlamoJan. 2Big 12 vs.
Pac-12

Oklahoma vs.

USC 

CactusJan. 2Big 12 vs. 
Pac-12

 West Virginia vs.

Arizona 

    
Chick-fil-A PeachDec. 31At-large vs.
At-large

Memphis vs. 

Florida 

FiestaJan. 1At-large vs.
At-large

 Notre Dame vs.

Utah 

RoseJan. 1Big Ten vs.
Pac-12

Stanford vs. 

Michigan State 

SugarJan. 1SEC vs.
Big 12

 TCU vs.

LSU 

    
CottonDec. 31Playoff
Semifinal

 Ohio State vs.

Baylor 

OrangeDec. 31Playoff
Semifinal

 Alabama vs.

Clemson 

National ChampionshipJan. 11Cotton Bowl Winner vs.
Orange Bowl Winner

 Ohio State vs.

Alabama 

Teaser:
College Football's Post-Week 8 Bowl Projections 2015
Post date: Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/gonzaga-bulldogs-2015-16-basketball-team-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Gonzaga this season could look very much like the 2015 and ’13 versions of the Bulldogs. Those two squads went a combined 67–6 and are considered at or near the top of the list of all-time GU teams, meaning that this year’s Zags remain clear favorites in the WCC and a fixture on the national landscape.

 

The similarities to last year’s 35–3 squad, which reached the Elite Eight for the second time in program history, are obvious. The Zags relied on one of the nation’s best frontcourts in center Przemek Karnowski and forwards Domantas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer. Those three return to anchor the current squad.

 

The Kelly Olynyk-led 2013 team, which finished 32–3 after being upset by Wichita State in the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 32, enjoyed a relatively injury-free year, other than Gary Bell Jr.’s late-season foot/ankle issues. The Zags could use another healthy campaign with just nine scholarship players on their roster.

 

Gonzaga may be short on depth but not on talent.

 

All West Coast Conference predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2015-16 Preview Magazine, available online and on newsstands everywhere.

 

Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

Frontcourt

 

The trio of Karnowski, Sabonis and Wiltjer combined to shoot 59.4 percent from the field last season. They averaged 37.4 points and 19.0 rebounds per game. Those numbers should improve following an offseason of skill development and conditioning. Karnowski and Wiltjer considered leaving early for the NBA Draft before electing to return for their senior seasons. Sabonis, projected by some as a first-round pick, decided early to come back for his sophomore season.

 

The three bring different specialties, adding to their collective effectiveness. Wiltjer, who dropped 45 points on Pacific, can score from the rim out to 25 feet. He continues to make strides physically, which has helped his post-up game. His ability to stretch the floor makes it tough for foes to double Karnowski or Sabonis.

 

Karnowski is a low-post force who burned paint-conscious opponents with his passing ability. He’s a quality rim protector on defense. Sabonis is a relentless rebounder and an emotional spark, often shouting to punctuate dunks in traffic. He is working to expand his offensive game with a mid-range jumper and the ability to create via the dribble.

 

The three will probably see some court time together, depending on the matchups at both ends of the floor.

 

Ryan Edwards, who has the size (7'1") to compete with Karnowski in practice, figures to play in the 8-12 minute range.

 


No. 11 Gonzaga Bulldogs Facts & Figures

Last season: 35–3, 17–1 WCC

Postseason: Elite Eight

Consecutive NCAAs: 17

West Coast Projection: 1

Postseason Projection: Sweet 16

 


Backcourt

 

The biggest questions concern the backcourt. The exit of rock-solid four-year starters Bell Jr., Kevin Pangos and Byron Wesley (first three years with USC) leaves three starting jobs open. Pangos and Bell were deadeye shooters and remarkably consistent. Wesley was a perfect fit slashing from the wing.

 

Five players are essentially competing for the three spots, but all will be counted on to contribute. Point guard Josh Perkins was off to a promising start before suffering a season-ending broken jaw against Georgia in the fifth game. He’s a gifted passer and appears to have the tools to be a capable scorer.

 

Silas Melson, pressed into duty after Perkins’ injury, could step into Bell’s role. With opponents concentrating on GU’s interior, the athletic Melson and the other guards should have spot-up shooting opportunities.

 

The 3, manned by Wesley last year, is up for grabs, though senior Kyle Dranginis has seen extended time at the position. Bryan Alberts, who redshirted last season, is another option.

 

Eric McClellan, a quality defender, can play any of the guard positions. Mark Few has never been shy about using three-guard lineups in the past, and that could be a possibility at times this season.

 


Key Losses: G Kevin Pangos, G Gary Bell Jr., G Byron Wesley

Top Players: G Josh Perkins, G Kyle Dranginis, F Kyle Wiltjer, F Domantas Sabonis, C Przemek Karnowski

 


Newcomers

 

Wing Bryan Alberts should crack the rotation after redshirting last season. He has the size and shooting ability to help at the 3. Under NCAA rules, transfers Nigel Williams-Goss (Washington) and Johnathan Williams (Missouri) can practice with the team but must sit out this season.

 

Final Analysis

 

For the last four years, Few rarely had to worry about his starting backcourt. Pangos, the 2015 WCC Player of the Year, and Bell, the WCC Defensive Player of the Year, were unselfish, knock-down shooters who made few mental mistakes. Gonzaga’s new backcourt will probably be bigger and more athletic, no matter what combination Few puts on the floor; but they have huge shoes to fill.

 

Gonzaga’s talented frontline will draw most of the attention, which should allow for an easier transition for the guards. If they show that they can share the ball, hit open shots and defend, and primary players stay healthy, the Zags have the makings of another 30-win team capable of an extended run in the NCAA Tournament.

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Gonzaga Bulldogs 2015-16 Basketball Team Preview and Prediction
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San Diego State is always itching to be taken seriously on the national stage, and an opportunity was missed that might have solved that issue once and for all.

 

The Aztecs were exposed by eventual national champion Duke in the Round of the 32 of the 2015 NCAA Tournament, as a season-long inability to score finally caught up with a team that went 27–9. And that is what must change this season for San Diego State to shed that perception of being scrappy and tenacious but not ready for big-time status.

 

The Aztecs need to figure out how to score after averaging just 61.8 points in 2014-15. Improving on shooting percentages of 41.8 overall, 32.0 percent from 3-point range and 63.0 percent from the free throw line is a must if San Diego State wants to reach the Sweet 16 for the third time in school history.

 

The defense should be as unyielding as ever, and the program has a solid chance at winning 25 games for the seventh time in eight seasons. Shot-blocking center Skylar Spencer and forward Winston Shepard are returning starters, but Matt Shrigley, the team’s top 3-point threat and a 17-game starter in 2014-15, was sidelined with a torn ACL during the summer.

 

The Aztecs remain the most talented team in the MW, but the squad once again enters the season without a go-to scorer and will be counting on forward Malik Pope to improve on an inconsistent first season and incoming freshman guard Jeremy Hemsley to be a difference-maker.

 

All Mountain West Conference predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2015-16 Preview Magazine, available online and on newsstands everywhere.

 

Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?



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Frontcourt

 

Shepard has been an enigma over the past three seasons, as his production often falls short of his talent. He led the Aztecs in scoring last season at a modest 11.1 per game. He fancied himself as a one-and-done player when he arrived at San Diego State and never intended to be around for his senior season. Shepard checked out his NBA Draft options in the spring, but a 9.6-point career scoring average and other deficiencies didn’t impress evaluators, so he’s back with one more chance to evolve into one of the better players in the Mountain West.

 

Another player who surprisingly considered applying for the NBA Draft was the 6'10" Pope, who didn’t start a game while averaging 5.1 points and 2.7 rebounds as a freshman. Despite his lack of productivity, Pope’s length and projections about his shooting ability led to scuttlebutt that he would be a first-round selection. The Aztecs would like to see his skills flourish while he’s still in college, and the opportunity is there for Pope to become that needed go-to player. However, he scored in double digits only four times last season.

 

Spencer is already the top shot blocker (231) in San Diego State history, and the 6'10" senior will be asked to improve his rebounding average of 5.1. He’s an offensive liability, but the Aztecs are willing to live with that due to his ability to dominate on defense.

Senior Angelo Chol, a former top recruit who began his career at Arizona, figures to be the top inside reserve unless highly regarded redshirt freshman Zylan Cheatham emerges. Cheatham, a former top-100 national recruit, missed last season due to a foot injury but is fully recovered.

 

Shrigley, who averaged 5.1 points and made 41 3-pointers as a junior is hoping to return to the lineup during February.

 


San Diego State Aztecs Facts & Figures

Last season: 27–9, 14–4 Mountain West

Postseason: Second Round

Consecutive NCAAs: 6

Mountain West Projection: 1

Postseason Projection: Second Round

 


Backcourt

 

San Diego State is thin in the backcourt and will once again use an abundance of three-forward alignments to make up for the shortages.

 

Sophomore shooting guard Trey Kell started the first 15 games a year ago before getting demoted to reserve status. He shot just 33.3 percent from the field, including a woeful 22.1 percent from 3. The Aztecs are hoping the experience he gained last season will lead to an improved all-around game.

 

Hemsley will open the season at the point unless he proves to be overwhelmed or overmatched in the weeks leading up to the first game. The much-ballyhooed prospect seems primed to make an immediate impact.

 

Junior Dakarai Allen is a stellar defender and will again be a key player off the bench. Junior D’Erryl Williams provides added depth.

 


Key Losses: F JJ O’Brien, F Dwayne Polee, G Aqeel Quinn

Top Players: G Jeremy Hemsley, G Trey Kell, F Winston Shepard, F Malik Pope, F/C Skylar Spencer

 


Newcomers

 

Jeremy Hemsley was a consensus top-100 recruit who shouldn’t need much time to get comfortable at the collegiate level. Zylan Cheatham received valuable practice time last season after his foot injury healed, and that should reduce the learning curve. Nolan Norain, originally part of the class of 2016, reclassified over the summer. He was a great late addition for the Azetcs.

 

Final Analysis

 

Coach Steve Fisher is 70 years old and wants to take the Aztecs to the Final Four before he retires. But that doesn’t seem like a realistic possibility with the current squad, which is too similar to last season’s offensively challenged group.

 

A seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament is a near certainty, and so is an 11th straight 20-win campaign, but reaching the Sweet 16 appears to be the ceiling for this team.

Teaser:
San Diego State Aztecs 2015-16 Basketball Team Preview and Prediction
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Wichita State handled Indiana and knocked off Kansas in the NCAA Tournament. After a loss to Notre Dame, its winning streak resumed.

 

Alabama came hard after coach Gregg Marshall, waving big dollars and the lure of the SEC. The university and community rallied to push Marshall’s salary to $3 million and keep him in Wichita. Junior guards Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet looked at their professional options before deciding to spend one more season thrilling fans.

 

Disaster loomed for a few days in the spring. Then things took a dramatic turn in favor of the Shockers. With those three architects of WSU’s run to national prominence on board, the status quo looks great at Koch Arena.

 

Baker and VanVleet form one of the nation’s top backcourts. The rest of the Shockers will work with them to form an efficient offense and a fearsome defense. With a Final Four and a Sweet 16 on their résumés, Baker and VanVleet get one more shot at something bigger.

 

“It’s hard to fathom it’s my last year,” Baker says. “Every year I’ve been here and been to the NCAA Tournament, good things have happened. That’s the motto we have — improve on the year before.”

 

All Missouri Valley Conference predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2015-16 Preview Magazine, available online and on newsstands everywhere.

 

Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

Frontcourt

 

Senior center Anton Grady filled the team’s biggest need when he announced in May that he would play his final season at Wichita State. Grady averaged 14.3 points and 7.9 rebounds as a junior at Cleveland State, earning All-Horizon League honors and a spot on the All-Defensive Team. Grady played three seasons without coming close to the NCAA Tournament. He chose WSU to end his career with a big winner. He made an immediate impression by coming to the gym early to work on his shooting and taking a lead in the weight room during the summer. “He’s been wonderful to coach,” Marshall says. “He’s very strong. He’s a grown man.”

 

Senior Evan Wessel returns as an undersized power forward. He made 36 percent of his threes, and coaches love his hustle and ability to set screens. He plays tough defense, putting that skill on display against former high school teammate Perry Ellis in WSU’s win over Kansas.

 

With Grady a proven commodity and Wessel a smart and solid player, Marshall can see which of his returners grow into larger roles. Sophomore Shaq Morris earned MVC All-Freshman honors. Rashard Kelly is rebounder, and Rauno Nurger can score. Senior Bush Wamukota earned more minutes in March because of his defense.

 

On the wing, sophomore Zach Brown made his case in March to replace Tekele Cotton as WSU’s stopper. He made 11-of-26 3-pointers and could begin the season in the starting lineup.

 


No. 14 Wichita State Shockers Facts & Figures

Last season: 30–5, 17–1 Missouri Valley

Postseason: Sweet 16

Consecutive NCAAs: 4

Missouri Valley Projection: 1

Postseason Projection: Sweet 16

 


Backcourt

 

VanVleet is eager to run an offense with Baker, Wessel and sophomore transfer Conner Frankamp spreading the defense with their shooting ability. Those threats will give VanVleet and the big men room to operate in the lane and around the basket.

 

Baker improved his scoring from 13.1 points per game as a sophomore to 14.7 as a junior, but his shooting dipped from .456 to .433. Look for his efficiency to improve in ’15-16. Frankamp, from Wichita, played little at Kansas before transferring just prior to the ’14-15 season. He practiced with the Shockers last season and is eligible on Dec. 12, the day they play Utah. “He is unbelievably skilled,” Marshall says. “He shoots it as well as anyone I’ve coached. He’ll make us very difficult to guard.”

 

Freshman guard Landry Shamet should give WSU the depth in the backcourt it lacked last season.

 


Key Losses: F Darius Carter, G Tekele Cotton

Top Players: G Fred VanVleet, G Ron Baker, G Conner Frankamp, G Evan Wessel, C Anton Grady

 


Newcomers

 

Senior forward Anton Grady is eligible immediately. Sophomore guard Conner Frankamp is a Wichitan with considerable offensive skills. He transferred from Kansas and is eligible on Dec. 12. Guard Landry Shamet and forward Markis McDuffie are ranked in the top 150 from the class of 2015 by national recruiting analysts. A year at a prep school helped Eric Hamilton improve physically and with his work ethic.

 

Final Analysis

 

WSU’s unprecedented run of success will continue with Baker and VanVleet back. The Shockers should win the MVC for a third straight season and cruise into the NCAA Tournament with a favorable seed.

 

Grady’s presence alone won’t make WSU a Final Four contender. It needs Morris to continue his development and give the Shockers a powerful two-man punch in the lane. If Kelly can improve his offensive game and Nurger his rebounding, WSU’s rotation of bigs will be satisfactory.

 

WSU should be deeper and more physically imposing than last season. If Frankamp fits in smoothly, the Shockers should be considered a legitimate threat to reach the Final Four.

Teaser:
Wichita State Shockers 2015-16 Basketball Team Preview and Prediction
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Because of a high volume of players serving two-year church missions, BYU is continually a program in transition. But even by the Cougars’ standards, 2015-16 is a season of change. A combination of graduation, missions and transfers took away 10 letterwinners from last year’s team, undoubtedly one of the biggest numbers in Division I basketball.

 

BYU coach Dave Rose is intrigued by the players who are scheduled to join or rejoin the Cougars at various points, with some of them currently on missions. “If you look at our depth chart for the next two or three years, I think we’ve got good, young talent,” Rose says.

 

Rose’s immediate challenge is maximizing the skills of senior guard Kyle Collinsworth, one of the country’s most versatile players, while trying to replace guard Tyler Haws, the school’s all-time leading scorer.

 

All West Coast Conference predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2015-16 Preview Magazine, available online and on newsstands everywhere.

 

Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

Frontcourt

 

Rose has found success with small lineups recently, partly out of necessity and partly because the WCC is a perimeter-oriented league. The Cougars adjusted well last season when center Nate Austin was sidelined by a hamstring injury after 10 games and UNLV transfer Jamal Aytes was unable to play following ankle surgery.

 

Austin received a medical waiver from the NCAA, so he’ll return as a senior. If he can get healthy, Aytes will increase BYU’s athleticism. Corbin Kaufusi, originally recruited to BYU as a lineman in football, continues to develop as a basketball player. He’s not much of a scorer, but he gives BYU an inside presence that many WCC teams lack.

 

Kyle Davis, a transfer from Utah State, is eligible this season and should provide scoring and rebounding after starting 27 games for the Aggies in 2013-14. Davis posted 16 points and nine rebounds in USU’s loss to BYU at a neutral site in Salt Lake City that season.

 

Jakob Hartsock could fit into the rotation as a freshman.

 


BYU Cougars Facts & Figures

Last season: 25–10, 15–5 West Coast

Postseason: First Four

Consecutive NCAAs: 2

West Coast Projection: 2

Postseason Projection: NIT

 


Backcourt

 

The 6'6" Collinsworth is a multidimensional player. He made a remarkable recovery from the knee injury that ended his 2013-14 season, averaging 13.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.8 steals last year and posting six triple-doubles.

 

Wake Forest transfer Chase Fischer functioned well in BYU’s three-guard offense amid the defensive attention given to Collinsworth and Haws. With Haws having graduated after scoring 2,720 career points to break Jimmer Fredette’s school record, opponents will focus more on Fischer. He averaged 13.2 points and shot 41.5 percent from 3-point range, hitting 10 3s vs. Chaminade.

 

Several candidates will compete for the role of third guard in Rose’s scheme. Jale Toolson is among the Cougars’ few holdovers from last season, while Cory Calvert has returned from a mission. Nick Emery, Jordan Chatman and Zac Seljaas are freshmen.

 

“We’ve got not only really talented players, but talented players that fit together,” Rose says. “The core of the group is really diverse.”

 


Key Losses: G Tyler Haws, G Anson Winder, G Skyler Halford

Top Players: G Kyle Collinsworth, G Chase Fischer, G Jake Toolson, F Jamal Aytes, C Corbin Kaufusi

 


Newcomers

 

BYU’s list of newly arrived players is usually long and complicated because so many players serve two-year church missions before or during their college careers. That’s the case again in 2015-16, with the added element of transfer Kyle Davis (Utah State). A group of freshmen and returned missionaries (some fit both categories) figure to be in the mix at guard, including Zac Seljaas, Nick Emery, Jordan Chatman and Cooper Ainge.

 

Final Analysis

 

BYU has played in the NCAA Tournament in eight of Rose’s 10 seasons, but the Cougars have advanced to the Sweet 16 only once. They’re scarred by a First Four loss to Ole Miss last March, which Rose hopes will motivate the returning players.

 

Even with the loss of Haws, who averaged 22.2 points, BYU will find ways to score after averaging 81.1 points in conference games last season. The biggest issue is defensive improvement. The Cougars weren’t bad on that end of the floor, but they will need to be better — they ranked fifth in the 10-team WCC in defensive efficiency in league games — to contend for a conference title.

 

Like every school in the WCC, the Cougars are chasing Gonzaga. BYU has not won a tournament title in the WCC, with its most recent postseason championship coming in 2001 in the Mountain West.

 

The program remains popular, with its average attendance of 16,125 ranking No. 9 nationally. Construction of a new practice facility, renovation of the Marriott Center and a five-year contract extension for Rose have BYU well positioned for the future.

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The NFL is in full swing, and the competition off the field among fans is nearly as heated as the competition on the field on game day.

 

The Athlon Sports Pro Football Experts Club presented by New Era gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.

 

Think you’re up for taking on our experts every week? Think you can beat the writers and editors each week? Join our weekly pick ‘em game and compete for tons of cool prizes.

 

Here are this week’s picks from Athlon Sports senior editor John Gworek:

 

Thursday’s Game

 

Miami at New England

The Dolphins have been a different team since Dan Campbell took over as coach, but this is the first proven quarterback they have faced all season.

Gworek's Pick: New England, 30–17.

 

Sunday’s Games

 

Detroit vs. Kansas City (London)

The Lions fired their offensive coordinator and line coach before heading to London. Now, about that defense that ranks 27th overall …

Gworek's Pick: Kansas City, 23–16.

 

Tampa Bay at Atlanta

The Falcons return home after an unimpressive 1–1 road trip. The Bucs somehow rank sixth in yards allowed but 31st in scoring defense.

Gworek's Pick: Atlanta, 33-28.

 

Arizona at Cleveland

Arizona has 15 takeaways in its five wins. Cleveland has turned it over 15 times in its five losses. Browns must hold on to the ball.

Gworek's Pick: Arizona, 31–21.

 

San Francisco at St. Louis

Don’t expect many points. The Rams rank 31st in yards and scoring, and the 49ers are the only team worse in both categories.

Gworek's Pick: St. Louis, 16–9.

 

Minnesota at Chicago

The Vikings played their best game of the season in Detroit for their first road win, but they haven’t won in Chicago since 2007.

Gworek's Pick: Vikings, 21–17.

 

N.Y. Giants at New Orleans

The Saints have fought back into the NFC Wild Card race. The Giants have given up yards (29th overall) but rank fourth in takeaways.

Gworek's Pick: N.Y. Giants, 30–27.

 

San Diego at Baltimore

The Chargers have the league’s top offense, but turnovers have been a problem. Baltimore hasn’t forced a turnover since Week 3.

Gworek's Pick: San Diego, 28-23.

 

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh

The Bengals were rolling at 6–0 but had last week off. The Steelers are 8–2 in their last 10 vs. Cincinnati and should get Ben Roethlisberger back.

Gworek's Pick: Pittsburgh, 27–26.

 

Tennessee at Houston

Tennessee may be happy to be back on the road after losing four in a row at home. The Texans gave up 503 yards last week to Miami.

Gworek's Pick: Houston, 20–16.

 

N.Y. Jets at Oakland

This one is strength vs. strength: The Jets are unbeaten when they rush for at least 100 yards; Oakland has the NFL’s No. 3 run defense.

Gworek's Pick: N.Y. Jets, 23–17.

 

Seattle at Dallas

Two teams that like to run the ball, but also two top-10 run defenses. So if comes down to Russell Wilson vs. Matt Cassel …

Gworek's Pick: Seattle, 24–16.

 

Green Bay at Denver

Green Bay has feasted on a favorable schedule (4–0 at home already). Denver’s offense has to get going eventually, right?

Gworek's Pick: Denver, 24–23.

 

Monday’s Game

 

Indianapolis at Carolina

The Colts are still looking for their first win outside of the AFC South and rank last in total defense. Carolina leads the NFL in rushing.

Gworek's Pick: Carolina, 28–20.

 

Week 7 Record: 9–5

Overall Record: 65–40

 

Teaser:
Week 8 NFL Picks: Challenge Athlon Sports Experts!
Post date: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 - 17:24
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Week 7 was a tough one fantasy-wise. With four teams on bye, plus injuries and surprise inactives (Dion Lewis, Jeremy Maclin, Antonio Gates…), just getting through the week was key. As always, the week raised some questions and answered some others.

 

Related: Week 7 NFL Fantasy All-Stud and All-Dud Teams

 

What do you make of the Dolphins' offense?

On Sunday, Miami led Houston 44-0, at halftime. This is the same Dolphins team that scored 65 points in the first FOUR games of the season. Since the bye, they've scored 82 in two games and look like an entirely different team. The defense has stepped up, and so has the offense. Ryan Tannehill and Lamar Miller put on a clinic on Sunday. Tannehill was 18-for-19 with 282 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Miller had 14 carries for 175 yards and a rushing touchdown, three receptions for 61 yards and a receiving touchdown… all in the first half.

 

Tannehill spread the ball around, targeting eight different pass catchers (although Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker did not make the box score). Jarvis Landry was the leading receiver, catching all five of his targets for 83 yards and a touchdown.

 

The Dolphins play the Patriots on Thursday night, and Chris Ivory did have a tough time running on the Patriots, so Miller should have a tougher time in Week 8, but he's on the RB1 radar now that the Dolphins are utilizing him as they should. Tannehill returns to the QB1 conversation for Thursday's matchup. This is the Dolphins team that fantasy experts predicted would happen this season. Buy into the Dolphins. It just took four weeks, a bye and some coaching changes to get there.

 

What do Arian Foster's fantasy owners do now?

While it is up for debate why Foster was still in the game when he got injured, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. Foster tore his Achilles tendon, ending his short-lived 2015 season. For fantasy owners, it's now back to the Houston running back drawing board.

 

Alfred Blue (18 percent owned), Chris Polk (one percent owned) and Jonathan Grimes (less than one percent owned) are going to take over the Houston backfield and unfortunately for fantasy owners, none are great options.

 

Blue is the best option of the bunch, but in the four games he played when Foster didn't play (or was limited), he only rushed for 204 yards and one touchdown. Those numbers are largely inflated by his Week 3, 31-carry, 139-yard performance. In those same four games, Polk had 92 yards and a touchdown. Grimes was more involved in the receiving game, but his 11 receptions for 61 yards over three games aren't worth running to the waiver wire for.

 

At this point, fantasy owners in redraft leagues can drop Foster and pick up Blue, or any other promising lottery ticket on the waiver wire. Blue isn't worth spending a large percentage of FAAB dollars on, however.

 

Are we going to see Ben Roethlisberger back in Week 8?

While fantasy owners of Antonio Brown did finally get some points in Week 7 (6/124/0), they are still eagerly awaiting the return of Roethlisberger. He was given a questionable status heading into Week 7, and while it was very doubtful that he would play, it does leave the door open for a Week 8 return.

 

Roethlisberger's plan is to practice this week, and see if he can get through the week without setbacks. Odds are that he is on the field on Sunday when the Steelers take on the Bengals. He immediately steps back in as a QB1, and Brown regains solid WR1 status.

 

If Big Ben does return it will be interesting to see how the targets are divided between Brown and Martavis Bryant. In (less than) two games with Landry Jones, Bryant has three touchdowns. Will Roethlisberger look to Bryant the same way and will this take away from Brown's value? It's hard to say. However, the Steelers need their No. 1 QB back (and so do Brown's fantasy owners).

 

More Burning Questions

 

Is Colin Kaepernick going to be benched?

 

Will Tyrod Taylor be back after Buffalo's bye?

 

Did we just see T.J. Yeldon's best game of the year (on most fantasy benches)?

 

Can you trust any Redskins running back?

 

How about any Lions running back?

 

Has Jameis Winston finally connected with Mike Evans?

 

What happened to the Atlanta offense?

 

Why won't the Titans get Dorial Green-Beckham involved?

 

Is Charcandrick West going to be the lead back in Kansas City?

 

How did Gary Barnidge get to be fantasy relevant?

 

Will Todd Gurley end the year as a top-5 fantasy running back?

 

What happened to the Chargers?

 

Has Darren McFadden been rejuvenated?

 

Why isn't Sam Bradford better?

 

Why don't the Eagles give Ryan Mathews the ball more?

 

— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.

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Lamar Miller, Ryan Tannehill Have Big Performances and More Week 7 Fantasy Observations
Post date: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: AAC, ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC
Path: /college-football/25-remaining-games-will-shape-college-football-playoff
Body:

I know what you are thinking: "Every game matters." Not in this case.

 

As the 2015 college football season charges down the home stretch, there is a clear path to a championship forming right before our eyes. The football gods have given us 25 games between now and bowl season that will undoubtedly decide which four teams will qualify for the College Football Playoff.

 

Get out your calendars and set your DVRs.

 

Oct. 31

 

Georgia vs. Florida

The Gators must get to the SEC title game with only one loss on their resume in order to stay in the conversation.

 

Notre Dame at Temple

The Irish need to win out to stay alive. A win for Temple catapults them up the polls and into the conversation.

 

Nov. 7

 

Michigan State at Nebraska

The Huskers have nothing left to lose. The Spartans can't afford to lose.

 

Texas Christian at Oklahoma State

This is the first game of a four-team round-robin in the Big 12.

 

Florida State at Clemson

Florida State stays alive with a win and is eliminated with a loss. This is likely for a spot in the ACC Championship Game.

 

LSU at Alabama

A second loss eliminates the Tide. An LSU loss creates a three-way tie with Alabama and Ole Miss.

 

Nov. 14

 

Oklahoma at Baylor

Game 2 of the Big 12 four-way round-robin.

 

Pitt at Duke

The winner likely heads to the ACC Championship Game with one loss.

 

Memphis at Houston

An unbeaten dream season is on the line.

 

Nov. 21

 

Michigan State at Ohio State

The loser likely misses out on the Big Ten Championship Game and drops out of the College Football Playoff conversation.

 

Texas Christian at Oklahoma

TCU's final road game of the season before hosting Baylor.

 

Baylor at Oklahoma State

Each team has a signature contest the following week.

 

Memphis at Temple

If both are still unbeaten at this point, the winner should find itself comfortably inside the College Football Playoff committee's top 10.

 

UCLA at Utah

Utah needs to hold off Josh Rosen and the Bruins to stay in the conversation.

 

LSU at Ole Miss

The Rebels could clinch the SEC west with a win.

 

Nov. 27

 

Iowa at Nebraska

This is far and away Iowa's toughest remaining game. The Hawkeyes will be in the College Football Playoff conversation until they lose. Nebraska could be playing for bowl eligibility.

 

Baylor at Texas Christian

Odds are the winner takes the Big 12 title and likely clinches a spot in the College Football Playoff.

 

Nov. 28

 

Ohio State at Michigan

This is possibly Ohio State's last major hurdle. Michigan has an outside shot at a division title with a win.

 

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State

There's a chance that the winner of this one comes out on top of the Big 12, giving a whole new meaning to "Bedlam."

 

Stanford at Notre Dame

If neither team loses another game between now and then, this will be a College Football Playoff elimination game.

 

Dec. 5

 

AAC Championship

This game could yield the only unbeaten conference champion in FBS.

 

 

B1G Championship

Likely Iowa against either Ohio State, Michigan or Michigan State. Three of the four possible matchups could mean an automatic Playoff bid to the winner.

 

 

Pac-12 Championship

If Stanford plays Utah and each team has only one loss, it'll be tough to keep the winner out of the final four.

 

 

SEC Championship

Both participants could enter the game with at least one loss. If both teams have two losses when it's over, we're likely looking at an SEC-free College Football Playoff.

 

 

ACC Championship

The odds say this will be Duke and Clemson. If neither team adds a loss between now and then, the winner, like the Pac-12, will be tough to turn away.

 

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Scott is the editor-in-chief of KnowItAllFootball.com, a Big Ten site for Big Ten fans. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.

 

(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Teaser:
The 25 Remaining Games That Will Shape the College Football Playoff
Post date: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: A.J. Green, Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, AFC East, AFC NFC, AFC North, AFC South, AFC West, Alex Smith, Alfred Morris, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Antonio Brown, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Ben Roethlisberger, Bishop Sankey, Buffalo Bills, C.J. Anderson, Calvin Johnson, Cam Newton, Carlos Hyde, Carolina Panthers, Carson Palmer, Chicago Bears, Chris Ivory, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Colin Kaepernick, Dallas Cowboys, DeMarco Murray, Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos, Derek Carr, Detroit Lions, Devante Adams, Dez Bryant, Dion Lewis, Doug Martin, Drew Brees, Eddie Lacy, Eli Manning, Giovani Bernard, Green Bay Packers, Heath Miller, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jamal Charles, Jameis Winston, Jason Witten, Jeremy Hill, Jimmy Graham, Johnny Manziel, Jonathan Stewart, Jordan Matthews, Jordan Reed, Jordy Nelson, Joseph Randle, Julien Edelman, Julio Jones, Kansas City Chiefs, Keenan Allen, Kendall Wright, Lamar Miller, LeSean McCoy, Lev’eon Bell, Louis Rams, Marcus Mariota, Mark Ingram, Marshawn Lynch, Matt Forte, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, NFC East, NFC North, NFC South, NFC West, Nick Foles, Oakland Raiders, Peyton Manning, Philadelphia Eagles, Philip Rivers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Randall Cobb, Rashad Jennings, Rob Gronkowski, Russel Wilson, Ryan Mallet, Ryan Tannehill, Sam Bradford, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, St, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Teddy Bridgewater, Tennessee Titans, Tevin Coleman, Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Travis Kelce, Tyler Eifert, Tyrod Taylor, Washington Redskins, Zac Ertz, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/week-7-nfl-fantasy-all-stud-all-dud-teams
Body:

As we look to close the book on Week 7 of the fantasy football season, let’s stop and take a moment of refection first. Let’s look back and see who had an outstanding fantasy game that helped propel your team to victory. And of course let’s look back in anger at those players you were depending on that simply let you down.

 

Here are Week 7’s fantasy studs and duds.

 

Studs

 

QUARTERBACK

 

Tom Brady, NE (vs. NYJ) – 29.7 fantasy points

Technically this should go to Kirk Cousins, who scored 30.18 fantasy points, but Cousins' is ineligible to be a stud since he’s only owned in 7 percent of Yahoo! leagues. So this week’s stud is a guy who has been doing this all season.

 

So much for that vaunted New York Jets defense and all those pundits out there suggesting that Todd Bowles’ unit would stymie Brady and completely shut down Rob Gronkowski leading to the Patriots' first loss of the season. Instead Brady threw for 315 yards, two touchdowns and he even had an ultra-rare rushing touchdown.

 

RUNNING BACKS

 

Lamar Miller, MIA (vs. HOU) – 35.6 FP

It’s amazing what a new coach and a new offensive philosophy can do to a player. Miller was averaging about nine carries per game when Joe Philbin was his head coach and now in the last two weeks he’s seen his touches double and he’s responded with 17.8 fantasy points last week and an outstanding 35.6 this week thanks to 175 rushing yards and one touchdown and 61 receiving yards with another touchdown. Miller has firmly established himself as a RB1 moving forward.

 

Todd Gurley, STL (vs. CLE) – 28.3 FP

Everyone one and their grandma knew that Gurley was going to have a huge game against the Cleveland Browns and their rush defense that had given up the third-most fantasy points heading into Week 7. Gurley sure didn’t disappoint, rushing for 128 yards and scoring two touchdowns. Is Gurley now the best running back in football? He’s definitely in the discussion.

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

 

T.Y. Hilton, IND (vs. NO) – 27 FP

Do you hear that sound? That huge exhale? That’s all the Hilton owners taking a huge sigh of relief as he finally had the game that his fantasy owners have been waiting for. What’s amazing is that he only caught four passes out of 15 targets for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Imagine the numbers that Hilton could have put up if he and Andrew Luck were able to connect just a few more times?

 

Mike Evans, TB (vs. WAS) – 22.4 FP

That other huge exhale is from all of the Evans owners who also were waiting for Evans to break out in a big way. Evans finally looks like he’s 100 percent healthy and now has the full confidence of Jameis Winston. On Sunday, Evans had eight catches for 164 yards and one touchdown and moving forward you can expect more of the same.

 

TIGHT END

 

Jordan Reed, WAS (vs. TB) – 19.2 FP

If you didn’t give up on Reed because of his latest concussion, kept him on your bench until he was healthy enough to play and actually started him this week, well played. Reed was good to go against the Buccaneers and instantly re-established himself as Kirk Cousins’ favorite target. Reed caught 11 passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns and is now an elite TE1 moving forward, even though he is as risky as they come because of his injury history.

 

Duds

 

QUARTERBACK

 

Eli Manning, NYG (vs. DAL) – 6.4 FP

This distinction also could have gone to Colin Kaepernick, who put up a pathetic 4.96 fantasy points on Thursday night against Seattle, but Kaepernick is only 50 percent owned, while Manning is 94 percent owned. It’s not as if Manning had a tough matchup on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, but he just couldn’t get anything going and couldn’t get into rhythm with his receivers. Manning threw for only 170 yards, with zero touchdowns and miraculously enough, zero interceptions. He was just a waste of space out there, fantasy-wise.

 

RUNNING BACKS

 

Alfred Morris, WAS (vs. TB) – 0.7 FP

You were smart and had Morris on the bench right? Right? It’s true that the Redskins found themselves in a huge hole early in their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and had to rely on Kirk Cousins to get them back into the game. But when Morris got his opportunities, he did nothing with them, finishing with six yards on five carries. That’s pathetic for someone who you probably drafted in the third round of your and now might consider dropping.

 

Rashad Jennings, NYG (vs. DAL) – 0.9 FP

It looks like the Giants' backfield is another one that you probably want to avoid moving forward. Jennings hasn’t had a great season to being with, but he had just 19 yards rushing on five carries in the Giants' win over the Cowboys on Sunday. What makes things worse is that Jennings was out-touched by Orleans Darkwa and Shane Vereen. You might want to consider permanently moving Jennings to your bench for the time being.

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

 

Jordan Matthews, PHI (vs. CAR) – 1.4 FP

What an awful game by Matthews. One of those sure-fire breakout candidates heading into the season, Matthews has seen his production plummet since Week 1 and against the Panthers, he hit an all-time low. Somehow he stills gets his targets, drawing seven on Sunday night. He caught three of those for 14 yards, but with his two brutal first-half drops, he played himself out of the game plan for that game and may have done so to some degree moving forward as well.

 

Golden Tate, DET (vs. MIN) – 1.4 FP

By the way Tate is playing this year you might forget that he had 99 catches for 1,331 yards and four touchdowns last season (most of which was thanks to Calvin Johnson not playing). This season Tate has yet to score more than 10 fantasy points in a game and caught a measly two passes for 14 yards on Sunday against the Vikings. That’s with Matthew Stafford playing a lot better. Take extreme caution moving forward if you are going to put Tate in your starting lineup.

 

TIGHT END

 

Jimmy Graham, SEA (vs. SF) – 3.1 FP

You just can’t trust Graham week to week. He doesn’t have a real place in the Seahawks' offense and is more likely to be a dud than a stud in any game. Want proof? In Week 6 Graham scored 14 fantasy points thanks to 140 yards receiving. Even though he didn’t score a touchdown it was by far his most productive game as a Seahawk. Fast-forward to this week and what does Graham do for an encore? He scores 3.1 fantasy points thanks to two catches for 31 yards. Time to jump off the Graham bandwagon... again.

 

— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.

Teaser:
Week 7 NFL Fantasy All-Stud and All-Dud Teams
Post date: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/most-absurd-tweet-about-mike-riley-thus-far
Body:

The Nebraska football program is an amazing thing for so many reasons. It has so much power that it can bring an entire state together or turn family members against each other. The fossil fuel energy crisis could be nixed if only the passion for Nebraska football could be harnessed to power the world.

 

Take that passion, that raw emotion and combine it with a controversial firing, largely confusing hiring and poor record to start a new regime. What you get in today’s world as a result are the hottest of takes from the men and women in the finest suits on ESPN to the Twitterati and Facebook Philosophers.

 

I’ve seen some bad tweets about head coach Mike Riley and his first batch of Nebraska Cornhuskers. I mean, I have seen some doozies. However, following the Huskers’ 30-28 loss to the Northwestern Wildcats, I can honestly say I read the most absurd tweet about Riley so far.

 

Shortly after the loss, I (perhaps foolheartedly) threw myself into the lion’s den of conversation. One person I found myself involved with was a follower of mine.

 

They asked (and I’m paraphrasing) who would be silly enough to come play for a coach that drops so many games such as Riley?

 

Well, considering I follow the whole recruiting bit, I showed them. Their response floored me.

 

 

So let me get this straight. Riley’s going to go out and bring in these guys that are part of a class currently ranked No. 27 overall by the 247Sports Composite Index as of this writing... and they’re going to bolt as sophomores?

 

Quarterback Patrick O’Brien, arguably one of the best prospects in the country, who will enroll early and be a part of spring practice will leave? The guy has bought into Riley’s culture so much he practically trades his stock on the NASDAQ. He peer recruits for Nebraska.

 

Three of the best offensive line prospects in the country in No. 2 offensive guard John Raridon, No. 37 offensive tackle Brian Brokop and No. 38 offensive guard Boe Wilson are being bamboozled? What voodoo is at work that has the No. 26 offensive tackle in the nation (Matt Farniok) so heavily engaged in apparently such a horrific head coach’s regime?

 

One of the best safeties in the country, Marquel Dismuke, is going to up and walk after likely being given every opportunity in the world to become a Blackshirt and wreak havoc?

 

Let’s take this a step further. Keyshawn Johnson’s essentially escorting kids (including his own son) to Nebraska to see what Riley is setting up because he believes in the man, loves him as a mentor, but Riley’s a “clown”?

 

Recruits are some of the luckiest people in this situation because they don’t look at simple numbers like a record eight games into a season. That’s lazy.

 

Related: Nebraska Football's 3-5 Record is a Matter of Trust

 

They and the people closest to them get the opportunity to talk to every coach including Riley. From all instances I’m aware of (a fair number), not only do families love him, but the kids do, too.

 

Perhaps the most important point of this dissertation is underscoring the fact that he’s going nowhere. Barring seasons like this for another two or three years, he’s safe. He’s likely at Nebraska for at least five years unless he wants to leave.

 

That’s the thing, though. The culture he’s working to instill doesn’t take hold over the course of one season and I’m not going to lie, it might not over two.

 

What I can tell you about Riley is that he is no fool. He knows that Nebraska fans want to win big. He does, too despite what might be said or at worst believed.

 

In fact, considering the work ethic of not only him but also his staff, I’m willing to bet not only will his recruits not suddenly transfer, but also will work their butts off to get him his wins.

 

Time for someone to top this tweet. I know you’re out there.

 

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow Brandon on Twitter @eightlaces and like his Facebook page.

Teaser:
The Most Absurd Tweet About Nebraska Head Coach Mike Riley Thus Far
Post date: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2015-waiver-wire-week-8
Body:

Another week ends and we lose another fantasy superstar who it feels we just got back in Arian Foster. Owners will certainly be scrambling to the wire for his backups, but in all likelihood his handcuff(s) may not be available. Or if you are an unfortunate Foster owner you may already have a serviceable backup. After all it was only inevitable Foster would get hurt again, right?

 

In any case the waiver wire continues to thin, and even with injuries or underperformers there aren’t many more hidden gems to rush out and claim.

 

This week I am only seeing a few names on waiver wire that I am willing to make a move for. With bye weeks continuing, your hand may be forced to make a move, but unfortunately the wire is thinning quickly this season.

 

Good luck this week everyone. If you are having issues with who to drop, or hold from your fantasy teams, be sure to check out my latest series called Patience or Panic where I analyze players who are under-performing and whether you need to cut bait or hold.


I will be here to guide you each and every week with some players who are owned less than 40 percent in ESPN.com leagues and could have an impact on your squad for this particular week or the rest of the season.

 

1. Darren McFadden, RB, Dallas Cowboys (42.6 percent owned in ESPN.com leagues)

McFadden is owned over 40 percent so he shouldn’t count. However he looked explosive and shouldered the Cowboys’ workload this past week with 29 carries for 152 yards and a touchdown.

 

We have to be honest though. Joseph Randle left the game with a back injury, which led to McFadden getting the added carries. He looked great, but there is no reason to trust him to continue to perform as well, and most importantly continue to get the touches. And what about Chrstine Michael? The Cowboys get the Seahawks in Week 8, so beware if you are expecting a repeat of Week 7. I am willing to bid on McFadden, but not too much of my FAAB to get him.

 

2. Brandon LaFell, WR, New England Patriots (37.6 percent owned)

LaFell returned from injured reserve and did nothing in Week 7. He caught two passes for 25 yards. This is a good thing for those looking to add a high-upside receiver this week. LaFell may be getting overlooked this week, but he is worth picking up if he is floating out on the wires.

 

He also had six drops. SIX! That is unbelievable, and shouldn’t continue. He catches most of those drops and we are looking at a dramatically different outcome. LaFell is clearly not the top weapon in the Patriots’ offense but he could be a nice bench player or bye week fill-in.

 

3. Alfred Blue, RB, Houston Texans (18.8 percent owned)

Here we go again talking about Blue with the tragic news on Arian Foster. Foster dominated and looked fantastic until he tore his Achilles late in the game.

 

Once again, Blue’s name will be mentioned as the next man up in the Texans’ backfield. Blue can’t do nearly as much as Foster can but if he gets carries he can grind out some decent numbers each week.

 

4. Chris Polk, RB, Houston Texans (1.2 percent owned)

Polk should be a popular add this week with news of Foster’s season-ending injury. In PPR formats Polk should be even more valuable. Foster’s catches will need to go somewhere and Polk is the likely recipient. Again he shouldn’t be considered an RB1 or RB2, but he will make a decent flex play for owners in a pinch or without their star running back.

 

DST Streamer(s) of the Week

 

I am a part of the streaming DST movement. I don’t typically waste a draft pick, unless I need to, in my drafts and instead cut someone and add a DST. Clearly the top defenses will be owned and not available, but streaming is always an option when it comes to DSTs. So each week I will be providing a DST that is owned in less than 30 percent of ESPN.com leagues and can be useful.

 

New York Giants at New Orleans Saints (19.4 percent owned in ESPN.com leagues)

The Giants have a fantastic kick returner and although the Saints don’t have a turnover-prone offense this defense has the potential to make big mistakes turn in to fantasy points. Drew Brees may not make many mistakes, but if he does the Giants will certainly capitalize.

 

— Written by Chris Meyers, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the FSWA. Meyers' work appears on many other sites, including socalledfantasyexperts.com. Follow him on Twitter @FantsyChillpony.

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2015 Waiver Wire: Week 8
Post date: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/college-fantasy-football-top-five-waiver-wire-pickups-week-9
Body:

Week 8 is now in the books, and the college fantasy football season is entering the home stretch for regular season leagues. Does your roster need an upgrade? Bye week messing with your best lineup?

 

Athlon has teamed up with college fantasy veterans CollegeFootballGeek.com to help you dominate in 2015! Over the course of the season, CFG will be providing insight into their weekly value plays, as well as helping you identify the top waiver wire candidates to bolster your lineups.

 

Whether you play daily or season-long college fantasy football, CollegeFootballGeek.com (@CFFGeek) prepares you to win with the best advice, tools and customer service in the industry — they've been doing it since 2008. Click here to learn how you can subscribe to CFG for FREE.

 

Below, you will find AthlonSports.com contributor and CFG writer Mike Bainbridge's five best waiver wire pickups for Week 6. To see the full in-depth article of over 50+ players, make sure to check out CollegeFootballGeek.com.

 

Jarrett Stidham (QB, Baylor)

On Monday it was announced that Baylor starting quarterback Seth Russell will undergo season-ending neck surgery after suffering a broken vertebra in the win over Iowa State on Saturday. Luckily for Baylor, the team has a bye this upcoming week, and will likely use that time to prepare prized freshman Stidham to start next Thursday on the road against Kansas State. In limited action this season, Stidham has looked every bit his 5-star rating, completing 80 percent of his passes and throwing six touchdowns in mop-up duty. Don’t expect Stidham to put up Russell-like numbers, but the drop off will not be significant. Any quarterback in the Baylor offense is a top-10 option in college fantasy football.

 

Jalen Nixon (QB, UL Lafayette)

With the offense sputtering under quarterback Brooks Haack, UL Lafayette made a change at quarterback to dual-threat option Nixon. While the results in the win-loss column have not changed much, Nixon has provided a much-needed spark to the offense, as the Ragin’ Cajuns are averaging nine more points per game with Nixon at the controls. The junior quarterback certainly has work to do as a passer, but he is a dynamic athlete as proven this past week against Arkansas State when Nixon rushed for 201 yards and two touchdowns. The remaining schedule for Nixon is favorable, as ULL plays four teams ranked 100th or lower in scoring defense.

 

Soso Jamabo (RB, UCLA)

UCLA got a scare on Thursday night in the win over Cal when starting running back Paul Perkins went down with what appeared to be a pretty significant knee injury. Even after the game, head coach Jim Mora described the injury as “not good,” leading many to believe Perkins would be out for an extended period of time. According to BruinsReportOnline, it does not appear to be as bad as expected with Perkins suffering a reported bone bruise. No further updates have been provided by the team, but this looks to be trending in the direction of a quick return for Perkins. To be on the safe side in case Perkins misses a week or two, go ahead and grab touted freshman Jamabo, who is the team’s second-leading rusher.

 

Ryan Nall (TE/RB, Oregon State)

Oregon State’s season is in the dumpster at this point, so why not play some of the younger players on the roster? That started this weekend with redshirt freshman H-Back/tight end Ryan Nall getting 20 carries for 122 yards and a touchdown in the Beavers’ loss to Colorado. With starter Storm Barrs-Woods on the shelf dealing with an undisclosed injury, and the passing game in flux, Nall should see a healthy diet of carries next week when Oregon State travels to Utah. Currently on Fantrax, Nall is listed as a RB/TE so he offers flexibility to your roster and would be a top play at the tight end spot in this week’s lineup.

 

Andrew Allen (WR/QB, New Mexico State)

Similar to Nall, that positional versatility is key for a guy like Allen. As a quarterback, he has very little value. Allen made just his second career start this week against Troy and threw for just 161 yards and a touchdown in the 52-7 blowout loss. That won’t cut it on anyone’s roster at the quarterback spot. The fact that you can start him at the wide receiver spot, though, makes him all the more valuable. Even if he puts up similar numbers to this past week, that is guaranteed double-digit fantasy points each week for the remainder of the season. Any roster will take that kind of production at the wide receiver position.

 

— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and current writer for CollegeFootballGeek.com. Make sure to follow him on Twitter @MikeBainbridge2.

Teaser:
College Fantasy Football Top Five Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 9
Post date: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/lsu-tigers-2015-16-basketball-team-preview-and-prediction
Body:

The subject line of a May email to LSU students and supporters was two words: “He’s coming.”

 

Now, he’s here.

 

The email’s message featured two hands holding a basketball. Below was a graphic advertising ticket prices — six months before the games would be played — with a promise that “No. 25 is coming.”

 

The arrival of Ben Simmons, the consensus No. 1 recruit in the nation, has ignited an excitement around LSU basketball not seen since current coach Johnny Jones was an assistant in the days of Chris Jackson and Shaquille O’Neal.

 

Simmons’ close friend Antonio Blakeney and Louisiana’s Mr. Basketball Brandon Sampson — who’ve adopted the moniker “The Killer B’s” — round out Jones’ consensus top-five class that had fans drooling before the 2014 season ended.

 

Simmons and crew are projected, if not expected, to improve upon last season’s showing — which ended with an agonizing loss to NC State in Round of 64 — and take LSU back to prominence.

 

All SEC predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2015-16 Preview Magazine, available online and on newsstands everywhere.

 

Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

Frontcourt

 

LSU lost two All-SEC big men who patrolled the Tigers’ frontline with little help. Jordan Mickey, the No. 33 overall pick in the NBA Draft, played 34.9 minutes per game last season, while Jarell Martin (No. 25 pick) logged 35.1. Mickey’s 3.6 blocks per game led the SEC by a full block, and his 9.8 rebounds also topped the conference.

 

Now who’s to replace this production? Newcomers, of course.

 

Simmons is labeled “positionless” by analysts and coaches, but if they had to slot his 6'10" frame somewhere, it’d be on the block. Jones, however, maintains that he won’t handcuff Simmons and will allow him to bring the ball up the floor and handle the point.

 

Craig Victor, a New Orleans native who transferred to LSU after only one semester at Arizona, appears destined for a more permanent role inside when he becomes eligible in December. Victor’s 235-pound frame will be vital to keeping opponents off the glass.

 

While Victor sits out, LSU will need to rely on the improvement of two rising sophomores. Elbert Robinson III arrived with high acclaim and found himself starting the first four games, though he finished with more fouls (13) than defensive rebounds (11) and more turnovers (nine) than offensive boards (six). His playing time diminished late in the season.

 

Picking up Robinson’s time was Aaron Epps, who battled through an injury-filled freshman season to become a serviceable post man off the bench. Jones believes a clean bill of health and the freshman-to-sophomore transition will help Epps earn more playing time.

 


LSU Tigers Facts & Figures

Last season: 22-11 (11-7 SEC)

Postseason: NCAA first round

Consecutive NCAAs: 1

SEC projection: 4

Postseason projection: NCAA second round

 


Backcourt

 

What experience LSU lacks on the frontline, it compensates for in the backcourt, returning four guards who played more than 24 minutes per game, including the team’s only two seniors — Keith Hornsby and Josh Gray.

 

Hornsby showed himself as a natural leader on the floor last season and will reprise that role. Gray, a high-volume scorer in junior college, tended to force the action too much early in the season — which led to a reduction in his playing time — but he adjusted to a new role later in the year and found his niche as a distributor and occasional shooter. Hornsby should be firmly entrenched in the starting lineup with Blakeney, a smooth shooter on the wing who can score in bunches. Blakeney’s challenge will be to adjust to the collegiate game on the defensive end.

 

It could once again be point guard by committee, with Tim Quarterman leading the charge. Quarterman was the Tigers’ most improved player last season, transitioning from sixth man to starting point guard by the end of the season and leading the team with 3.8 assists per game.

 

When Quarterman isn’t on the floor, the Tigers can go with a conventional point guard, sophomore Jalyn Patterson, or allow Simmons to bring the ball up the court. Simmons possesses superior court vision and can create scoring opportunities from any spot on the floor.

 


Key Losses: F Jarell Martin, F Jordan Mickey

Top Players: G Tim Quarterman, G Keith Hornsby, G Antonio Blakeney, F Ben Simmons, F Craig Victor

 


Newcomers

 

Ben Simmons spearheads perhaps the most heralded group of newcomers in LSU basketball history, and all four are primed to see premium playing time. When he’s eligible, Craig Victor could be crucial inside, a place where LSU lacks the depth it has in the backcourt. He’ll team with Simmons at times down low, while Antonio Blakeney and Brandon Sampson will see significant time on the wing.

 

Final Analysis

 

Blakeney told reporters over the summer that he believed LSU would win the national championship this season. While his prediction seems lofty, the Tigers have a once-in-a-generation player in Simmons and a seasoned backcourt that now has NCAA Tournament experience. This team has the talent to make a deep run in March.

 

Now the Tigers must prove they can live up to the lofty expectations.

 

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Billy Donovan is gone to the NBA, and with him the face of Florida basketball. Many wonder whether the Gators’ winning tradition will follow.

 

New coach Mike White steps into Donovan’s shadow after four seasons at Louisiana Tech. White also walks into a rare rebuilding situation in Gainesville. A year after reaching their fourth Final Four under Donovan, the Gators finished 16–17 — the program’s first losing season since 1998.

 

“There’s probably a lot of doubters out there like, ‘Oh, Florida is not the same. They are not going to be the same program. They are not going to compete like they used to because they don’t have Coach D,’” sophomore forward Devin Robinson says. “We don’t listen to that. We’re playing with a chip on our shoulder. We have a lot to prove.”

 

White, 38, has more to prove than anyone. His teams were 101–40 at Louisiana Tech, playing an exciting, up-tempo style on both ends. He also never coached his team to the NCAA Tournament, something Donovan did 14 times during 19 seasons in Gainesville.

 

All SEC predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2015-16 Preview Magazine, available online and on newsstands everywhere.

 

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Frontcourt

 

Senior forward Dorian Finney-Smith led the Gators in scoring (13.1 ppg), rebounding (6.2 rpg) and 3-point shooting (.426) last season. But he needs help.

 

The Gators hope center John Egbunu, a transfer from South Florida, will provide the physical inside presence Florida lacked last season. Listed at 6'11", 266 pounds, Egbunu averaged 7.4 points and 6.2 rebounds as a freshman at USF in 2013-14. He also shot just 54.5 percent from the foul line and looks to become a more efficient low-post scorer.

 

Robinson is dynamic off the wing, but he is rail thin and prone to poor shot selection. He had more airballs (nine) than field goals (eight) nine games into his freshman season. Small forward Alex Murphy, a Duke transfer who sat out the first semester, was increasingly effective in the open court, but his 3-point shooting (6-of-33) was abysmal.

 


Florida Gators Facts & Figures

Last season: 16-17 (8-10 SEC)

Postseason: None

Last NCAA Tournament: 2014

SEC projection: 5

Postseason projection: NCAA First Round

 


Backcourt

 

White was a point guard, two of his assistant coaches (Jordan Mincy and Darris Nichols) were point guards, and his best player at Louisiana Tech (Speedy White) was a point guard. Good thing, because shaky point guard play was a big reason for the 2014-15 Gators’ struggles. White, a four-year starter at Ole Miss, will push junior Kasey Hill and sophomore Chris Chiozza to improve.

 

“I’m a little harder on point guards than the other four spots on the floor, little bit more demanding,” White says.

 

Hill’s ability to respond could be the key to the season. A 2013 McDonald’s All-American, Hill has mixed flashes of brilliance with poor decision-making and shooting. He enjoyed a three-game stretch early last season with 25 assists and four turnovers. He then had four turnovers or more in six SEC games. During a stunning loss at Missouri, Hill hit 2-of-7 from the field and 1-of-8 from the foul line. For the season, he shot 52.6 from the line and 27.6 percent (8 of 29) from 3-point range.

 

Chiozza similarly struggled with his shot, finishing at 32.3 percent from 3-point range and 47.7 percent from the foul line. But as a first-year player, he showed the court sense Hill too often lacks.

 

Redshirt freshman Brandone Francis and first-year player KeVaughn Allen should provide scoring punch. Junior DeVon Walker, who returns from an ACL tear, also can shoot but is more valuable as a perimeter defender.

 


Key Losses: G Eli Carter, G Michael Frazier II, C Jon Horford, F Jacob Kurtz

Top Players: G Kasey Hill, G Chris Chiozza, F Devin Robinson, F Dorian Finney-Smith, C John Egbunu

 


Newcomers

 

John Egbunu should step into a starting role, while KeVaughn Allen should be an immediate factor, too. He averaged 25.2 points to lead North Little Rock (Ark.) High School to its third straight state title. Kevarrius Hayes is a long, athletic shot blocker and rebounder, while Keith Stone is a combo-forward who can score anywhere inside the arc. Schuyler Rimmer provides another big body.

 

Final Analysis

 

White turned down previous job offers at Missouri and Tennessee but believed Florida was too good an opportunity to pass up. He was born near Tampa and has strong recruiting ties in the Sunshine State.

 

White embraces the challenge of following a legend and has quickly won over his players with his high-energy personality and aggressive playing style. Louisiana Tech averaged 21 3-point attempts last season and forced 8.4 steals per game.

 

Yet outside of Finney-Smith, the Gators have a roster of unproven players. The schedule features trips to Michigan State and Miami, visits from Florida State and West Virginia, and two games with Kentucky. White could be hard-pressed to get the Gators to the NCAA Tournament in Year 1.

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Why not climb out on a limb if you’re already on a hot seat? That’s what Texas A&M basketball coach Billy Kennedy did. He’s guaranteed the Aggies will be in the NCAA Tournament field this season.

 

Had Rick Pitino, John Calipari or Mike Krzyzewski made that promise there would be no doubters. But that’s a bold statement considering A&M hasn’t made the NCAA in any of Kennedy’s four seasons at the school. Last year, the Aggies looked like a safe bet to make the field in mid-February but lost four of their last five games and had to settle for a spot in the NIT.

 

Kennedy has some very good reasons to be so brazenly optimistic. The Aggies return two players with All-SEC credentials — one who led the league in assists — and have an influx of talent from a consensus top-10 recruiting class that will provide desperately needed size and depth.

 

The combination of proven veterans and heralded newcomers will give Kennedy more options than he’s had before. Perhaps that will give him more success, too.

 

All SEC predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2015-16 Preview Magazine, available online and on newsstands everywhere.

 

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Frontcourt

 

Jalen Jones, who began his career at SMU, averaged 13.7 points and 6.6 rebounds to earn second-team All-SEC honors from the conference coaches last season. Jones, however, desperately needs help inside. That aid may come from several sources.

 

Fingers are crossed that freshman Tyler Davis, a 6'10", 270-pound center from Plano, Texas, will make an immediate impact. Rated among the nation’s top 30 prospects by all recruiting services, Davis averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds in leading his high school team to a state championship. Davis and 6'9", 240-pound Elijah Thomas, another highly rated freshman prospect, could potentially form an intimidating inside presence.

 

If the freshmen struggle to transition to the collegiate game, the Aggies can give more minutes to 6'7" junior Tavario Miller, who injected a measure of toughness as a sophomore. Miller averaged 3.0 rebounds in only 11.3 minutes last season. He’s limited offensively, though, and converted just 40.7 percent of his free throws.

 

There are also high hopes 6'10" Colombian Tonny Trocha-Morelos will blossom in his second season. Trocha-Morelos did not make a significant contribution as a freshman, but Kennedy likes his athleticism, jump shot and work ethic.

 


No. 25 Texas A&M Aggies Facts & Figures

Last season: 21-12 (11-7 SEC)

Postseason: NIT

Last NCAA Tournament: 2011

SEC projection: 3

Postseason projection: NCAA second round

 


Backcourt

 

Guard play has been the Aggies’ greatest asset, and that should be the case again if senior Danuel House stays healthy and Alex Caruso gets some help. A transfer from Houston, House led the team in scoring with a 14.8-point average and increased his production in league play (16.2 ppg). He shot nearly as well from 3-point range (.400) as he did overall (.417). House broke his foot late in the season, and the Aggies dropped back-to-back games (vs. Alabama at home and vs. Auburn in the SEC Tournament) that knocked them out of NCAA Tournament consideration.

 

Touted freshmen D.J. Hogg and Admon Gilder could provide needed depth behind House. The 6'7" Hogg averaged 17.6 points as a high school senior and hit a buzzer-beating jumper for a victory in the state championship game. Gilder averaged 30.7 points as a senior at Madison High School in Dallas.

 

Meanwhile, the versatile Caruso, who led the SEC in assists and shared the lead in steals, faded at the end of the season. He shot just 22.2 percent and committed 19 turnovers in the Aggies’ final four games. He figures to get more help this season. Sophomore Alex Robinson was inconsistent in his debut season but showed flashes of his immense potential. At the very least, Robinson should ease some of the point guard demands on Caruso. If Robinson doesn’t progress, Kennedy can turn to Anthony Collins, a senior transfer from South Florida who will be eligible immediately. Collins isn’t much of an offensive threat, but he averaged 5.2 assists in his final season with the Bulls.

 


Key Losses: G Jordan Green, F Kourtney Roberson

Top Players: G Alex Caruso, G Alex Robinson, G Danuel House, G/F Jalen Jones, C Tyler Davis

 


Newcomers

 

Tyler Davis figures to start immediately and will team with Elijah Thomas to provide a physical inside presence A&M hasn’t had in years. Admon Gilder and D.J. Hogg are sharpshooters who can ease the reliance on Danuel House. Raquan Mitchell was a late addition after reclassifying. Anthony Collins was a three-year starter at South Florida and is the only player on A&M’s roster with NCAA Tournament experience.

 

Final Analysis

 

There is great optimism that Texas A&M will return to the NCAA Tournament after a four-year drought. A nice mix of returning starters — House, Jones, Caruso — and a heralded recruiting class suggest the Aggies will be better than last season’s team that finished 21–12 and tied for third in the SEC with an 11–7 record. When March rolls around, A&M either will be playing in the NCAA Tournament or searching for Kennedy’s successor.

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Say this for an interesting SEC offseason: The league lost one of its two best coaches to the NBA and the coaching lineup as a whole improved.

 

Florida coach Billy Donovan is now coaching the Oklahoma City Thunder, leaving the Gators in a rebuilding situation under new coach Mike White. Facing White will not only be a Kentucky team ready to contend for a national title and resurgent teams at Vanderbilt and Texas A&M, but also two first-year coaches who have Final Fours on their résumés.

 

A handful of SEC schools have been tasked with improving their basketball product in recent years, and they’ve responded with key coaching hires. Mississippi State jettisoned Rick Ray and replaced him with former UCLA coach Ben Howland. Tennessee hired a new coach out of necessity stemming from NCAA issues but brought in longtime Texas coach Rick Barnes. Alabama hired a former NBA coach of the year in Avery Johnson. And two years ago, Bruce Pearl made his return to the league at Auburn.

 

Oh, and LSU adds the consensus No. 1 freshman to the mix.

 

In 2014 and 2013, the SEC produced only three NCAA Tournament teams in each field. After producing five NCAA teams and a team in the Final Four for the second consecutive season, the SEC promises to be a deeper league in the coming years.

 

All SEC predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2015-16 Preview Magazine, available online and on newsstands everywhere.

 

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2015-16 SEC Predictions
1.

The Wildcats won’t be as deep in 2015-16, but there is still more than enough talent to win a national title. Postseason: National Champion

Team Preview
2.

Kevin Stallings has a roster built for success, with a dominant big man (Damian Jones) surrounded by a host of shooters. Postseason: Sweet 16

Team Preview
3.

The Aggies are poised for their first NCAA Tournament invite of the Billy Kennedy era. Postseason: Second round

Team Preview
4.

The Tigers have reloaded with a superb freshman class led by do-everything big man Ben Simmons. Postseason: Second round

Team Preview
5.Michael White’s first Florida team lacks elite talent but will still be a factor in the SEC. Postseason: First roundTeam Preview
6.Veteran guards will have to lead the way while young big guys adjust to more prominent roles. Postseason: First FirstTeam Preview
7.The arrival of Ben Howland and top recruit Malik Newman will make the Bulldogs relevant in 2015-16. Postseason: NIT 
8.Stefan Moody is one of the premier players in the league. Others must step up to make this an NCAA Tournament team. Postseason: NIT 
9.

This will be Frank Martin’s best team at South Carolina. Is that good enough? Postseason: NIT

 
10.No SEC team outside of Kentucky lost more firepower than the Razorbacks. Postseason: NIT 
11.Bruce Pearl’s rebuild at Auburn is far more challenging than the one he faced at Tennessee. Postseason: NIT 
12.

Rick Barnes inherited a roster lacking talent. It could be a long winter in Knoxville.

 
13.There are some intriguing pieces for new coach Avery Johnson, but not enough to be much of a factor in Year 1. 
14.

Two of the top three scorers transferred from a team that went 3–15 in the SEC.

 

 

SEC Superlatives

 

Player of the Year: Ben Simmons, LSU

Best Defensive Player: Damian Jones, Vanderbilt

Most Underrated Player: Craig Sword, Mississippi State

Newcomer of the Year: Ben Simmons, LSU

Top Coach: John Calipari, Kentucky (full list)

Teams in the National Top 25: No. 1 Kentucky, No. 15 Vanderbilt, No. 25 Texas A&M

 

All-SEC First Team

G Tyler Ulis, Kentucky

G Stefan Moody, Ole Miss

F Ben Simmons, LSU

C Skal Labissiere, Kentucky

C Damian Jones, Vanderbilt

 

All-SEC Second Team

G Malik Newman, Mississippi State

G Danuel House, Texas A&M

G Kenny Gaines, Georgia

F Alex Poythress, Kentucky

F Cinmeon Bowers, Auburn

 

All-SEC Third Team

G Riley LaChance, Vanderbilt

G Charles Mann, Georgia

G Tim Quarterman, LSU

F Dorian Finney-Smith, Florida

F Alex Caruso, Texas A&M

 

Recruiting Roundup

 

1. Kentucky: The Wildcats are back in the top spot nationally with a five-man class that includes elite big man Skal Labissiere.

 

2. LSU: No. 1-ranked prospect Ben Simmons and fellow five-star Antonio Blakeney lead the nation’s No. 3-ranked class.

 

3. Texas A&M: A quartet of top-100 ranked prospects give the Aggies a top-10 class.

 

4. Auburn: Bruce Pearl landed a top-20 class led by athletic forwards Horace Spencer and Danjel Purifoy.

 

5. Mississippi State: New coach Ben Howland has a top-20 class, including top-10 prospect Malik Newman.

 

6. Florida: The Gators have a top-25 class that includes four four-star prospects.

 

7. South Carolina: Five-star guard Perry Dozier headlines Gamecocks’ class.

 

8. Alabama: New coach Avery Johnson has a five-man class that is led by four-star wing scorer Kobie Eubanks.

 

9. Missouri: Kim Anderson has six recruits in the fold. Four-star point guard K.J. Walton is the highest ranked of the bunch.

 

10. Vanderbilt: Athletic center Djery Baptiste leads a diverse four-man class.

 

11. Georgia: Mark Fox convinced William Jackson to stay in Athens as the top recruit in a four-man class.

 

12. Ole Miss: Guard Donte Fitzpatrick out of Memphis leads a four-man class.

 

13. Tennessee: New coach Rick Barnes has every position covered in the Volunteers’ five-man recruiting class.

 

14. Arkansas: Four-star combo guard Jimmy Whitt is the Hogs’ only recruit.

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The SEC welcomes two new coaches with Final Fours on their résumés — Ben Howland (Mississippi State) and Rick Barnes (Tennessee) — but it is the league’s longest-tenured coach, Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings, who has the team with the best chance to challenge Kentucky for the top spot in the conference. The Commodores, who won 10 of their final 14 games last season while starting three freshmen and one sophomore, will surround one of the nation’s top big men — junior Damian Jones — with arguably the finest collection of shooters in college basketball.

 

All SEC predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2015-16 Preview Magazine, available online and on newsstands everywhere.

 

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Frontcourt

 

The Commodores’ lineup often will feature four dangerous 3-point shooters, but the 7’0” Jones will remain the focal point of the offense. Jones is an elite athlete who can dominate a game on both ends. He averaged 14.5 points and 6.5 rebounds as a sophomore and ranked third in the league with 2.0 blocks per game. Improving from the foul line — he shot 59.9 percent on a league-high 222 attempts — and playing with more “emotional maturity,” according to his coach, are the next steps in his development.

 

Luke Kornet is a rapidly improving stretch-4 who has a skill set that compares favorably to former Wisconsin All-American Frank Kaminsky. The son of former NBA second-round pick Frank Kornet, he averaged 8.7 points in only 21.6 minutes per game as a sophomore while shooting 40.0 percent from 3-point range. “Luke showed flashes last year of brilliant play. He does things you don’t think a 7-foot guy can do,” Stallings says. Don’t be surprised if Kornet contends for All-SEC honors.

 

If healthy, sixth-year senior Josh Henderson will serve as the primary backup center, though Kornet has logged significant time at the 5. Another option is freshman Djery Baptiste, a 6’10”, 235-pound physical specimen who can provide some rebounding and shot blocking. When Stallings wants to go small, 6’6” sophomore Jeff Roberson, who started 24 games at small forward last season, can slide down and play the 4. “Jeff is a physical guy,” Stallings says. “I certainly wouldn’t be concerned about him matching up defensively against a 4.”

 

Freshman power forward Samir Sehic is skilled offensively and adds a physical presence.

 


No. 15 Vanderbilt Commodores Facts & Figures

Last season: 21-14 (9-9 SEC)

Postseason: NIT

Last NCAA Tournament: 2012

SEC projection: 2

Postseason projection: NCAA Sweet 16

 


Backcourt

 

Riley LaChance was the best known of Vanderbilt’s all-freshman backcourt last season, but you can make a strong case that Wade Baldwin IV — who seized the starting point guard spot in January — was the Commodores’ top perimeter player in the final two months of the season. Baldwin averaged 9.3 points, had a 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio and — most surprising — shot 43.9 percent from 3-point range. His finest quality, according to his coach, is his competitiveness. “Wade is fearless,” Stallings says. “And it’s real. There is no fake bravado about his game.”

 

LaChance emerged as Vanderbilt’s top offensive option on the perimeter and was the league’s top scoring freshman (12.3 ppg). He is known for his 3-point shooting, but only 66 of his 147 field goals came from beyond the arc. LaChance will start at the 2 and also serve as the backup at the point. Matthew Fisher-Davis arrived with the reputation as a prolific shooter and did not disappoint. Slowed early in the season by a foot injury, he hit at least three 3-pointers in 14 games, including six in a season-ending loss to Stanford in the NIT quarterfinals.

 

Vanderbilt will add three quality wing players to the mix, including two big-time shooters in freshman Camron Justice and junior Nolan Cressler, a transfer from Cornell. “Nolan will be a factor for this team,” Stallings says. “He is a tremendous shot maker and plays with a great degree of toughness.” Freshman Joe Toye is a prototypical, athletic small forward.

 


Key Losses: G Shelton Mitchell, F James Siakam

Top Players: G Wade Baldwin IV, G Riley LaChance, G/F Matthew Fisher-Davis, F Luke Kornet, C Damian Jones

 


Newcomers

 

Nolan Cressler is a shooting guard who averaged 16.8 points and shot 36.4 percent from 3-point range two years ago at Cornell. He will play significant minutes. Camron Justice, Mr. Basketball in Kentucky, will carve out playing time due to his ability to shoot from long range. Joe Toye is a small forward who will add some athleticism to the roster. Big men Djery Baptiste and Samir Sehic won’t be thrust into prominent roles as freshmen. Baptiste is a redshirt candidate.

 

Final Analysis

 

Vanderbilt advanced to the NCAA Tournament five times from 2007-12 but has missed out the last three seasons. That drought figures to end this season.

 

“We have a chance to have a very good team,” says Stallings, who is entering his 17th year at Vanderbilt. “It’s a talented team — a team with depth and with experience and a team that will really be able to shoot the ball.”

 

To emerge as a legitimate threat to win the SEC, Vanderbilt needs to improve its rebounding, especially on the defensive end. “Our first-shot defense was good enough last season,” Stallings says, “but our rebounding wasn’t as good as it’s going to have to be.”

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Stuart Scott loved his Tar Heels.

 

The fallen ESPN personality made sure everyone knew just how much he loved his alma mater. Over the weekend, Scott was inducted in the UNC Journalism Hall of Fame. His friends and family, including his two daughters, were in attendance. The basketball team along with members of his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, honored him with a special step.

 

"He loved Carolina athletics, he loved Carolina basketball of course, but there was another aspect of his Carolina experience that was truly special to him. That was his membership in the Mighty Mu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity."

 

 

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The College Football Playoff picture is starting to get some clarity, and the competition off the field among fans is nearly as heated as the competition on the field on game day.

 

The Athlon Sports College Football Experts Club presented by Nexium & Advil gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.

 

Think you’re up for taking on our experts every week? Think you can beat the writers and editors each week? Join our weekly pick ‘em game and compete for tons of cool prizes.

 

Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior writer David Fox:

 

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Vanderbilt at Houston

The Commodores are coming off the first SEC win of Derek Mason’s tenure with a 10–3 win over Missouri. A modest win streak, though, seems unlikely. Vanderbilt has a solid defense, allowing only five rushing touchdowns all season, but Houston has been a juggernaut in the American Athletic Conference. Under first-year coach Tom Herman, the Cougars are seventh in the country in rushing at 291.6 yards per game.

Fox’s prediction: Houston 28–10

 

Syracuse at Florida State

Florida State’s 28-game ACC win streak ended on a blocked field goal for a touchdown against Georgia Tech, but a new win streak should start anew. The Seminoles haven’t lost back-to-back games since a three-game losing streak early in 2011. Syracuse has been competitive against LSU and Pitt, but the Orange are riding a four-game losing streak that includes defeats to Virginia and USF.

Fox’s prediction: Florida State 42–14

 

Oregon State at Utah

Utah is coming off its first loss, a humble 42–24 defeat at USC, but truthfully, the Utes perhaps were never as good as their No. 3 ranking indicated. That said, Utah was undone by four interceptions in a road game against more talented if streaky team. After 17–13 home loss to Colorado, Oregon State has clinched a spot as the worst team in the Pac-12.

Fox’s prediction: Utah 35–10

 

South Carolina at Texas A&M

Texas A&M is a team in turmoil after managing just a field goal in a loss to Ole Miss. Aggies quarterback Kyle Allen has thrown four interceptions and completed just 43.2 percent of his passes in the last two weeks. The benching of backup Kyler Murray, though, has been puzzling and has hinted at dysfunction in College Station. Facing South Carolina won’t cure everything, but the Aggies should be able to end their losing streak.

Fox’s prediction: Texas A&M 31–13

 

Clemson at NC State

NC State’s four FBS wins are over Troy (2–5), Old Dominion (3–4), South Alabama (3–4) and Wake Forest (3–5). Clemson has shown no signs of a team aching for a let down, and the Wolfpack have shown no signs of being able to challenge an above-average team.

Fox’s prediction: Clemson 41–14

 

Texas at Iowa State

The Longhorns have found the answer for their beleaguered offense, and that’s run, run and run some more. Texas has thrown only 28 passes the last two weeks while rushing for 587 yards against Oklahoma and Kansas State. Meanwhile, throw out Northern Iowa and Kansas, and Iowa State is 228 rushing yards per game and 5.7 yards per carry.

Fox’s prediction: Texas 35–10

 

Notre Dame at Temple

This is the biggest game for Temple football … ever? The Owls are 7–0 and ranked facing a one-loss Notre Dame team that still fashions itself a playoff contender. Unlike the other American Athletic Conference undefeateds Memphis and Houston, Temple is doing it with defense, leading the AAC in rush defense and pass efficiency defense. This will be strength-on-strength against the Notre Dame offense. Receiver Will Fuller and running back C.J. Prosise may be the best Temple has faced this season at either position.

Fox’s prediction: Notre Dame 28–14

 

Oklahoma at Kansas

The Sooners have scored 44, 55 and 63 points in its last three Big 12 wins. The only reason Oklahoma won’t hit 70 against Kansas is if the Sooners don’t want to.

Fox’s prediction: Oklahoma 63–10

 

Colorado at UCLA

The Buffaloes have an above-average pass defense (10 interceptions) to go with the worst rush defense in the Pac-12. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen was brilliant last week against Cal, but, as with all freshmen, his consistency is always in question.

Fox’s prediction: UCLA 31–17

 

Maryland at Iowa

An off week gave Iowa a chance to heal, but not completely. Defensive end Drew Ott is still out for the season, and running back Jordan Canzeri is not expected back. Maryland put up a spirited performance against Penn State, but the matchup of the Terrapins passing game (a national-high 20 interceptions) against Desmond King (second nationally with six interceptions) is a nightmare for Maryland.

Fox’s prediction: Iowa 35–10

 

Georgia Tech at Virginia

The Yellow Jackets should be thrilled to be facing an opponent with more than one loss. Georgia Tech’s last six opponents are a combined 37–5 this season, and only a wild finish against Florida State prevented the Jackets from a six-game losing streak. Virginia is 2–5 and may soon join team like Miami, USC, South Carolina and Maryland in the coaching carousel. The Yellow Jackets’ run game got back on track against Florida State and now face a team that’s giving up 4.6 yards per carry.

Fox’s prediction: Georgia Tech 38–17

 

Tennessee at Kentucky

Tennessee played well against Alabama, containing the Crimson Tide’s run game enough that the Vols had a chance to win. In a vacuum, a near-miss against Alabama on the road would be signs of progress for the Volunteers, but Tennessee fans are getting tired of near-misses. Kentucky can get big plays in the run game, but the Wildcats need more from the passing game if they hope to match up with a more talented Tennessee squad.

Fox’s prediction: Tennessee 27–21

 

Miami at Duke

David Cutcliffe rightfully has the reputation of an offensive guru, but Duke is winning with defense this season. The Blue Devils are one of three teams in the country holding opponents to fewer than four yards per play. Miami is wounded with an interim coach and a potential concussion for quarterback Brad Kaaya.

Fox’s prediction: Duke 31–21

 

USC at Cal

USC showed Utah what can happen when the Trojans are playing to their potential in a 42–24 rout. The defense had four interceptions and three sacks while the passing game was efficient once again. Plus, USC is two weeks removed from a 590-yard effort at Notre Dame. Cal’s hot start cooled in two matchups with Pac-12 South contenders on the road. Most concerning is the play of Jared Goff and the offense. Goff threw five interceptions against Utah, and the offense averaged a season-low 4.8 yards per play against UCLA.

Fox’s prediction: USC 38–28

 

Stanford at Washington State

Washington State has quietly become a contender in the Pac-12 North at 3–1. It’s not a surprise how: The Cougars are throwing the ball all over the place and playing limited defense. Stanford’s defense is shorthanded with injuries and not very deep, but the Cardinal’s physicality might be too much for a team that already has trouble stopping the run.

Fox’s prediction: Stanford 42–21

 

Arizona at Washington

Washington expects freshman quarterback Jake Browning to return from injury against Arizona. That should be as much of a lift to the Huskies’ offense as facing Arizona’s lackluster pass defense. Throw out a game against Oregon State, and Arizona is allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 73 percent of their passes for 8.9 yards per attempt with 12 touchdowns and no interceptions.

Fox’s prediction: Washington 28–21

 

Oklahoma State at Texas Tech

The Cowboys are getting it done with defense, holding opponents to 53.6 percent passing with six touchdowns and eight interceptions and a Big 12-best four sacks per game. Texas Tech can move the ball, as usual, and Patrick Mahomes mobility cuts down on sacks. With the Pokes facing Texas Tech’s defense, this game could be the Big 12 shootout of the week.

Fox’s prediction: Texas Tech 45–41

 

Ole Miss at Auburn

The Rebels defense had its best game of the season, holding Texas A&M to a field goal. Perhaps that’s as much a reflection of the Aggies dysfunction as anything else. Auburn’s Sean White continues to play safe football, but he’s not getting a ton of help from his receivers. The Tigers are still desperate for an SEC win while the Rebels’ SEC title hopes have been rejuvenated. Auburn’s defense is just as bad as it was a year ago.

Fox’s prediction: Ole Miss 38–24

 

Georgia vs. Florida (Jacksonville, Fla.)

The Cocktail Party has a way giving us the unexpected, usually with Florida spoiling Georgia’s hopes for a championship of some kind. This time, Florida is the team with hopes winning the East. The Gators proved at LSU that they can still be competitive with the best despite the shocking suspension of quarterback Will Grier. Georgia is trying to find its way on offense without Nick Chubb.

Fox’s prediction: Florida 28–21

 

Michigan at Minnesota

The Gophers have the Little Brown Jug and the Floyd of Rosedale in their trophy case right now, but both might be finding new homes with the way Minnesota has played of late. Michigan has had an extra week to get over its loss to Michigan State. On paper, this could get ugly with the worst scoring offense in the Big Ten (Minnesota at 20.4 points per game) against the best scoring defense (Michigan at 9.3 points per game).

Fox’s prediction: Michigan 28–3

 

Last week: 15–5

Season to date: 119–41

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Earlier this summer, the Mets were being written off. They were too banged up, and lacked any tangible run support that could balance out their fantastic pitching rotation. After July, the Mets sat at an uninspiring 53-50 in the underwhelming NL East. With the addition of Yoenis Cespedes in a trade from Detroit, the call up of Michael Conforto, and the return of lineup staples Travis d’Arnaud and captain David Wright, things started to click for manager Terry Collins’ team. The Mets went on to win 36 games in August and September and stole the NL East crown from the heavily favored Washington Nationals. With the offense finally clicking with the pitching, the Mets defeated the Dodgers in the NLDS in five games, and absolutely dominated the Chicago Cubs in a four-game sweep in the NLCS. 

 

The Mets have not won a World Series title since the infamous 1986 Fall Classic that featured the “Buckner Game” against the Boston Red Sox. Since then, the Mets have been up and down for the most part, winning just two division titles, and appearing in one World Series, a four-game sweep at the hands of their crosstown rival, the New York Yankees, in 2000. 

 

The Royals were the darlings of baseball last season, making their first postseason appearance since they won the World Series in 1985. After over a generation of futility, the Royals have proven that they are a baseball powerhouse, earning their second consecutive World Series trip after last year’s crushing seven-game defeat to the San Francisco Giants thanks to a historic performance from Madison Bumgarner.  

 

In an era of “new school” baseball, the Royals’ playing style resembles that of their “old school” manager, Ned Yost. Kansas City is arguably the best defensive team in baseball with guys like Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Ben Zobrist, who are all Gold Glove-caliber. For all their defensive prowess, those same Royals get the job done at the plate as well, stringing together hits to go along with a disciplined hitting approach from the top of the order to the No. 9 spot.

 

New York Mets vs. Kansas City Royals

GameDayTime (ET)TVPitching Matchup
1Tuesday, Oct. 278 p.m.FOXMatt Harvey vs. Edinson Volquez
2Wednesday, Oct. 288 p.m.FOXJacob deGrom vs. Johnny Cueto
3Friday, Oct. 308 p.m.FOXYordano Ventura vs. Noah Syndergaard
4Saturday, Oct. 318 p.m.FOXChris Young vs. Steven Matz
5*Sunday, Nov. 18 p.m.FOXEdinson Volquez vs. Undecided
6*Tuesday, Nov. 38 p.m.FOXUndecided vs. Undecided
7*Wednesday, Nov. 48 p.m.FOXUndecided vs. Undecided

*If necessary

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Can Murphy’s and Escobar’s Bats Stay Hot?

To say that Daniel Murphy’s historic postseason hot streak is surprising is the understatement of the decade. Even the man himself can’t explain it. How does a career .288 batter rake .421/.436/1.026 with 16 hits, seven home runs, a 1.462 OPS and 11 RBIs when the games count the most? Most of those home runs came against three of the NL Cy Young Award front-runners in Jake Arrieta, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, and another against perennial All-Star lefty Jon Lester. After essentially single-handedly beating the Dodgers in the NLDS, Murphy kept his unprecedented hot stretch going, hitting .529/.556/1.294 with an 1.850 OPS against the baseball darling Cubs while running away with NLCS MVP honors. Murphy’s six straight games with a postseason home run is now a major league record. It is safe to say that someone is going to extremely over pay for Murphy, a pending free agent, after the season.

 

The Royals have their own catalyst at the top of their lineup in shortstop Alcides Escobar. The ALCS MVP, Escobar got the job done in the field and at the plate. He set a postseason record by getting a leadoff hit in the first four games of the ALCS, hitting .478/.481/.652 with a 1.134 OPS with 11 hits and six runs scored against the Blue Jays. Escobar’s postseason rampage was almost as surprising as Murphy’s, as Escobar only hit .257/.293/.320 this season. If the Royals are going to raise the Commissioner’s Trophy they will need their leadoff man to do some more damage in the World Series, especially against a Mets rotation that shut down the Cubs' leadoff hitters in the NLCS.

 

2. Mets’ Power Pitching vs. Royals' Deep Lineup

The Mets may have the best collection of young arms in the vast history of baseball. That is a heavy statement, but could very well ring true with a World Series championship being built on such young and talented arms. The rotation featuring young superstars Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom held the high-powered Cubs offense that blasted the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS to no more than three runs in a game in the NLCS. Mets pitchers dominated the young, free-swinging Cubs with 39 strikeouts in their four-game sweep, a task that will be next to impossible to replicate against the Royals, who struck out less than any other team in baseball in 2015. 

 

The Royals' offense has been the best of the postseason teams, leading the way with 63 runs, 99 hits, 164 total bases, 58 RBIs, and a team average of .271/.328/.449 with an OPS of .779, all while striking out 14 times fewer than any other team that made it to a league championship series. The 15 home runs that the Royals have hit thus far in the postseason have been somewhat surprising, but not shocking as Kansas City used the long ball last October to its benefit too. But the Royals' power numbers could take a hit when the series moves to Citi Field starting in Game 3, and DH Kendrys Morales moves to the bench. Morales has hit four home runs and knocked in 10 this postseason. 

 

3. Royal Rotation Concerns

If the Mets are going to do any damage against the Royals, it has to be done offensively in the first seven innings before Ned Yost can go to his bullpen and essentially end the game six outs early. Murphy's surprising offensive run has carried the Mets’ offense through two series, but if the Mets want to bring home their first World Series title since 1986, the rest of the lineup must deliver. Without Murphy’s gaudy numbers the Mets are hitting just .207 in the playoffs.  But the Mets' lineup has a chance to come alive against a Royals rotation that has given up 48 hits and 29 walks with an ERA of 5.56 to the Astros and Blue Jays. 

 

Final Analysis 

 

After last season’s World Series Game 7 loss, the Royals have proven they are no one-hit wonder. Kansas City dominated the AL Central from start to finish and ended the season with 95 wins thanks to a disciplined starting lineup, great defense, and a lights-out bullpen. While the Mets' story has been a fun ride to watch, especially since the trade deadline, it seems the Royals matchup favorably against the NL champs. If the Mets’ pitching staff can shut down the Royals’ deep lineup, they’ll more than likely take the series in a slew of low-scoring games. But New York has yet to face such a well-rounded, versatile and deep lineup like the Royals this postseason. 

 

Prediction: Royals in 6 Games

 

— Written by Jake Rose, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. An avid baseball fan, Rose also takes time to do some play-by-play work for the radio broadcasts of Middle Tennessee State Blue Raider baseball games. Follow him on Twitter @JakeRose24.

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