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All taxonomy terms: Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2015-waiver-wire-week-8
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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.

 

Teaser:
LSU Tigers 2015-16 Basketball Team Preview and Prediction
Post date: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/florida-gators-2015-16-basketball-team-preview-and-prediction
Body:

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.

 

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



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

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.

Teaser:
Florida Gators 2015-16 Basketball Team Preview and Prediction
Post date: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/texas-am-aggies-2015-16-basketball-team-preview-and-prediction
Body:

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.

 

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



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

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.

Teaser:
Texas A&M Aggies 2015-16 Basketball Team Preview and Prediction
Post date: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/sec-basketball-2015-16-preview-predictions-and-all-conference-team
Body:

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.

 

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



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

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.

Teaser:
SEC Basketball 2015-16 Preview, Predictions and All-Conference Team
Post date: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/vanderbilt-commodores-2015-16-basketball-team-preview-and-prediction
Body:

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.

 

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



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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.”

Teaser:
Vanderbilt Commodores 2015-16 Basketball Team Preview and Prediction
Post date: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/unc-basketball-stuart-scott-alpha-phi-alpha-fraternity-journalism-hall-fame-honor
Body:

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."

 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, October 26, 2015 - 16:13
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/week-9-college-football-picks-challenge-athlon-sports-experts
Body:

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:

 

College Football Podcast: Week 8 Recap



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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

Teaser:
Week 9 College Football Picks: Challenge Athlon Sports Experts
Post date: Monday, October 26, 2015 - 14:56
All taxonomy terms: Kansas City Royals, New York Mets, MLB
Path: /mlb/2015-world-series-preview-and-prediction-new-york-mets-vs-kansas-city-royals
Body:

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.

Teaser:
2015 World Series Preview and Prediction: New York Mets vs. Kansas City Royals
Post date: Monday, October 26, 2015 - 14:45
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/miami-coaching-search-rock-uncle-luke-trick-daddy-al-golden-hurricanes
Body:

Al Golden is done at Miami.

 

While Steven Lassan rattled off his top 10 replacements for the Hurricanes coach, that didn't stop the lovely people on the internet from giving their input.

 

 

 

 

None are as good as having the former Canes player and everyone's favorite person, The Rock. It just makes sense, players would flock to Miami and there's no half-stepping if you're playing for Coach Johnson. College Football Playoff, silver platter, hello?

 

 

My unorthodox pick for the coach would be Trick Daddy. He's in the area so you don't have to worry about relocating him, he loves Miami, and players who don't get drafted could make their musical dreams come true by rebuilding Slip-N-Slide Records.

 

 

I know Uncle Luke loves his Hurricanes but Mr. Trey-Oh-Five made "U Already Know" and the rest was history.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, October 26, 2015 - 11:41
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Clemson Tigers, College Football
Path: /college-football/five-thoughts-clemson-after-miami-win
Body:

After Clemson’s 58-0 destruction of Miami, coupled with a Utah loss to USC on Saturday night, Tiger fans have no need to scoreboard watch anymore. Clemson is now No. 3 in the AP Poll (what the coaches are thinking putting the Tigers at No. 6 is a total mystery) and their road to the College Football Playoff is completely in their control.

 

Related: Clemson Tigers 2015 Midseason Review and Second Half Preview

 

Miami was incredibly awful this past weekend, leading to the dismissal of their coach Al Golden on Sunday. But part of the Hurricanes' problem was that Clemson was good. Very, very good. In fact, a case could be made that they are the best team in America right now.

 

Here are five thoughts on the 7-0 Clemson Tigers.

 

1. They Have an Extremely Versatile Offense

If an opponent attempts to take away the run like Boston College did, Deshaun Watson throws for 420 yards. If the Tigers are facing an inept run defense, they will run for 416 yards like they did against Miami. Clemson has the ability to seize upon whatever opportunity the other team allows. Not only can they adjust from week to week, they show amazing offensive diversity in each game. Straight handoffs, option runs, wide receiver screens, and shots over the top. Clemson has the personnel to do it all and offensive coordinators Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott have outlined exceptional game plans.

 

2. The Domination of the Offensive Line

The versatility of the offense can only be achieved if the offensive line plays well. And this group has. Miami’s defensive front is not strong, but Clemson’s blockers did a great job in both pass protection and run blocking. Watson was hardly touched and several running backs, led by Wayne Gallman, had big chunk runs. The inexperience of the offensive line has been well documented, but the front five has not been a liability to this point and this unit should continue to improve.

 

3. The Domination of the Defensive Line

As well as the offensive line played, the defensive front may have been even better. The play that epitomized the entire afternoon was the one where Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd were the only rushers, but Lawson broke free and sacked Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya, knocking Kaaya out of the game. Miami couldn’t run and the Hurricanes couldn’t pass block either. It was a total team effort, but it all started up front.

 

4. Tackling

When Clemson hits you, you go down. And you go down right where you are. No breaking tackles, no leaning forward or dragging a defender for another five yards. This is an underrated component to defensive success. Part of Clemson’s tackling prowess comes from the fact that the defenders are so big, strong and athletic. But more importantly, their technique is spot on. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables has received well-deserved praise this year for his work with his unit and getting the Tigers to execute the fundamentals while remaining aggressive and disruptive may be his greatest accomplishment.

 

5. Putting Teams Away Early

With the exception of the Boston College game, Clemson has jumped on the opposition early and is now showing the killer instinct necessary to end games by halftime. This week, it was over by the end of the first quarter. Even against BC, at 27-10 midway through the third quarter, things were sewn up. Holding on against Notre Dame has given these Tigers the belief that they are better than the team on the other sideline each week. Going into the stretch run, with a Playoff spot and ACC title within their sights, this is a nice trait to have. 

 

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

Teaser:
Five Thoughts on Clemson After the Miami Win
Post date: Monday, October 26, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /five-things-we-learned-utahs-loss-usc
Body:

Utah's bid for a perfect season came crashing down amid a flurry of turnovers. Senior quarterback Travis Wilson was intercepted four times in the Utes' 42-24 loss to unranked USC on Saturday. For now, Utah retains a one-game lead in the Pac-12 South standings, but the loss does raise some questions about whether or not the Utes can ultimately win the division.

 

Related: Utah Utes 2015 Midseason Review and Second Half Preview

 

Things certainly do not get much easier for Utah heading down the stretch. Oregon State is not expected to offer much resistance to the Utes this week, but the rest of the schedule offers enough tough games to threaten Utah's push to reach the Pac-12 championship game.

 

College Football Podcast: Week 8 Recap



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

The loss to USC revealed five things about the Utes:

 

1. Jared Norris is the defensive heart and soul

Players like Gionni Paul and Marcus Williams might draw attention for making big plays, but Norris is the engine that drives Utah's defense. The senior linebacker did not play against the Trojans and the Utes clearly felt his absence. Utah struggled to get enough pressure up front to disrupt Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler's rhythm and slow down USC's running backs without Norris using his instincts to help everyone get in the right places to make plays.

 

2. Wilson needs to develop better offensive consistency

There's no question Wilson is a talented quarterback. You don't become a four-year starter by accident. The problem is that Wilson also is mistake-prone and a game can get out of hand quickly for him. He was on fire in the first quarter, completing all nine passes he attempted and throwing for 69 yards and a touchdown. Once Wilson threw his first interception in the second quarter, everything unraveled. He finished with 254 yards and two touchdowns on 24-of-35 passing, but his four interceptions led to 21 points for the Trojans.

 

3. Britain Covey will be tough to replace after 2015

Utah's offense isn't going to be the same the next two years once Covey departs for his LDS mission. The freshman slot receiver and punt returner is one of the most dynamic playmakers in the Pac-12 Conference. Covey kept the blowout loss in Los Angeles from getting even worse for the Utes. He had a season-high 129 receiving yards and two touchdowns on seven catches. Covey also set up Utah's other touchdown with a 40-yard punt return.

 

4. Utah's run game is stuck in neutral

For the second consecutive game, Utah struggled to generate yardage on the ground. The Utes totaled 99 net yards and one touchdown on 28 carries against USC. Two weeks ago, Utah accumulated just 72 net yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. This is not a good sign for a team with an offense geared toward Devontae Booker moving the chains. It must change quickly or Utah's 6-0 start could become a distant memory in a hurry.

 

5. Utah faces a steep road to securing a College Football Playoff spot

The Utes did not need to go undefeated to lock down one of the four College Football Playoff spots. But their margin for error is probably gone. Utah will likely need to run the table the rest of the way to get consideration from the selection committee. The Utes still have a strong Playoff resume, but can't afford a second loss with several undefeated and one-loss teams still in the mix.

 

— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.

Teaser:
Five Things We Learned From Utah's Loss To USC
Post date: Monday, October 26, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/nebraska-footballs-3-5-record-matter-trust
Body:

The Nebraska football team finds itself 3-5 following (get this) another heartbreaking loss, this time to Northwestern. At this point, that may very well mean no bowl eligibility, a sobering thought.

 

Regardless of whether or not the Huskers find themselves with extra practices come the holidays, something jumped out at me while analyzing the Big Red following its most recent defeat. I’m trying to figure out why the season is unfolding the way it is just like you, you see.

 

When I watch a team like Ohio State, for example, I see some fantastic athletes. Some of the best in the country in fact, but what I also see is a number of players that can trust each other to get their respective jobs done and perhaps more importantly, the Buckeyes’ coaching staff can, too.

 

College Football Podcast: Week 8 Recap



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If everything breaks down on offense for OSU and I ask myself who I’d get the ball to if I were head coach Urban Meyer, I don’t even have to think. Let Ezekiel Elliot win the day. He’s proven he can and will. He’s earned that trust from his teammates and the guys calling the plays.

 

As the Husker Twitterverse and radio waves were spitting hot fire on Saturday evening, I looked over the Nebraska roster and took a hard look at the starters. A 3-5 record with as much heartbreak as this season has provided deserves a hard look.

 

Related: Nebraska Cornhuskers 2015 Midseason Review and Second Half Preview

 

Tommy Armstrong, tough as he is, is still making poor throws, reads and final decisions. If he doesn’t throw a touchdown pass to the Wildcats, we’re talking about a Nebraska victory in The Battle for NU.

 

The running backs, the guys fans have been literally screaming for over the past few weeks, can you find one that you’d toss a playbook aside for a la Elliot?

 

Terrell Newby’s good, but he can’t consistently pick up tough yardage. Imani Cross can be the battering ram, but he’s too reliable for fumbling when it’s least opportune.

 

Devine Ozigbo falls into this category, but only because he doesn’t fully know the offense yet.

 

The offensive line has its own issues per man, but if it’s third and short do you honestly expect them to effectively run block for any of the backs I mentioned?

 

I truly thought Cethan Carter would have the opportunity of a lifetime in Riley’s offense as it favored the tight end. However, when he’s had his chances, most of them have fallen to the turf even when they touch his mitts.

 

The defense, well, let’s not pretend there are no worries beyond even the secondary.

 

From what I saw earlier this year, I was positive linebacker Josh Banderas would be a rock for the Blackshirts. He runs a step slower these days. The sure tackler I watched has faded from memory.

 

Where is the Nate Gerry that didn’t bobble interceptions and if he didn’t house them, he came darn close?

 

For the most part, Nebraska’s Blackshirt front four has been able to contain the run, but we saw against Northwestern that this is not an iron-clad promise.

 

As for the secondary well, you’ve been watching.

 

Nebraska fans and especially coaches want to trust these guys collectively. Naturally I can only assume they want to be in a position where they can be a band of brothers, not a collection of players.

 

The fact is that eight games into the season, the bonds aren't that strong and that, my friends, is a large part of how you lose five games by 13 points. There’s an absolutely obscene amount of bad bounces in there too somewhere, but along the way you have to make your own luck.

 

Like Ameer Abdullah did versus McNeese State last season or LaVonte David versus Ohio State during the biggest comeback in Nebraska football history. When 10 other players did their job, they knew those two were good for doing theirs on an exemplary level.

 

I’ll be extraordinarily impressed if it can be pulled off, but it’s highly unlikely that trust can be built between this team in four games’ time.

 

— 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:
Nebraska Football's 3-5 Record is a Matter of Trust
Post date: Monday, October 26, 2015 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, NFL
Path: /nfl/baltimore-ravens-vs-arizona-cardinals-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

The 4-2 Arizona Cardinals welcome the 1-5 Baltimore Ravens on "Monday Night Football," the home team looking to get back on track after losing two of its last three. The Cardinals stormed out of the gate to a 3-0 record but have fallen back to earth a bit in tough losses to their divisional rival St. Louis Rams and the always-tough-at-home Pittsburgh Steelers. Despite last week's loss, the Cardinals have climbed into the top overall spot in Football Outsiders' DVOA rankings and should be looking to make a bounce-back statement against the reeling Ravens.

 

The Ravens have been hit harder than anyone else in the NFL with injuries. Still, their five losses have come by a total of 22 points. The schedule certainly hasn't made anything easier on the Ravens, having already traveled cross-country to Denver, Oakland, San Francisco and now Arizona this season. Six of their last nine games will be at home, but they cannot afford another loss, and beating the Cardinals in Arizona might be their toughest challenge of the season.

 

Baltimore at Arizona

 

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Monday)

TV: ESPN

Line: Cardinals -7.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Can the Ravens' pass defense stop Carson and his weapons?

The Ravens' pass defense ranks 28th in yards per game and 22nd in DVOA. They looked even worse than those numbers against the 49ers, allowing Colin Kaepernick to throw for 340 yards on just 16 completions. Carson Palmer has to be licking his chops watching the film with the Cardinals' offense being seventh in passing yards per game and fourth in passing DVOA.  Larry Fitzgerald's resurgence has been one of the bigger surprises this season, and with all the weapons around him and Palmer, the Ravens have no easy choices.

 

2. Can the Cardinals make a statement?

There's a big difference between a top-five NFL team and a top-10 NFL team and we're not quite sure which trajectory the Cardinals are on. They've had their stumbles in recent weeks, but the stats all tell us they're a Super Bowl favorite. This is just the kind of game to give us a true barometer of who the Cardinals are. The Ravens are better than a 1-5 team and they will play desperate, but a true Super Bowl contender knows how to put teams like this down, especially at home. With a tough second half schedule, the Cardinals really need every win they can get at this point. This one is more vital than it might appear and will tell us a lot about how good the Cardinals really are.

 

3. Can Flacco find his finish?

Despite their record and injury losses, the Ravens have been in every single game they've played. Sometimes it's looked better than others, but the Ravens haven't been a consistent contender since 2009 by accident. They're still a well-coached and physical team that has talent on both sides of the ball. If this one stays close Joe Flacco must find a way to get his team over the hump no matter who he's throwing the ball or handing it off to. A big key? Not turning the ball over as the Ravens are 27th in the NFL in turnover margin at minus-five (-5). Flacco has eight touchdowns and seven interceptions on the season.

 

Final Analysis

 

The Ravens need to come out of the gate on fire in this one because if they fall into an early hole against this offense things could get ugly. With the Cardinals looking post-bye at two games vs. the Seahawks, a visit from the Packers and a trip to Philadelphia, their place in the NFC is far from set. Holding serve against a depleted team like the Ravens is critical if they want to avoid postseason trips to unfriendly stadiums that could feature less-than-perfect weather conditions in Green Bay or Seattle. The Ravens won't go quietly, but the Cardinals simply have too much talent in all the right places to not put them down.

 

Prediction: Cardinals 28, Ravens 17

 

— Written by Mike Dussault, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and writer/editor of PatsPropaganda.com (@PatsPropaganda), a comprehensive blog covering the New England Patriots.

Teaser:
Baltimore Ravens vs. Arizona Cardinals Preview and Prediction
Post date: Monday, October 26, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Miami Hurricanes, News
Path: /college-football/10-coaching-candidates-replace-al-golden-miami
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Miami coach Al Golden was fired on Sunday, one day after the Hurricanes suffered the worst loss in program history in a 58-0 defeat against Clemson. Golden worked for five years as Miami’s head coach, posting a 32-25 record in that span. Additionally, the Hurricanes were 17-18 under Golden’s watch in ACC play and only had one season of more than seven victories.

 

Tight end coach Larry Scott will serve as the program’s interim coach for the final five regular season games (and potentially a bowl game).

 

Who will replace Golden at Miami? Here are 10 names to watch.

 

10 Coaches to Watch in Miami's Search to Replace Al Golden

 

Rob Chudzinski, assistant coach, Indianapolis Colts

Chudzinski has ties to Miami but has never worked as a head coach on the collegiate level. The Ohio native played as a tight end with the Hurricanes from 1986-90 and started his coaching career in the program from 1994-95 as a graduate assistant. Chudzinski was later promoted to tight ends coach in 1996 and eventually called the plays for the Hurricanes from 2001-03. From 2004-15, Chudzinski worked in the NFL, including the 2013 season as Cleveland’s head coach.

 

Related: 10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 8

 

Mario Cristobal, offensive line coach, Alabama

Cristobal is a name many around the Miami program are familiar with, as the Alabama offensive line coach is a former Hurricane player and assistant. Cristobal played at Miami in the early 1990s and later worked as an assistant from 2004-06 in Coral Gables. Additionally, Cristobal was a head coach at FIU from 2007-12, recording a 27-47 record in that span. While the overall record at FIU wasn’t overly impressive, Cristobal inherited a mess and guided the Panthers to back-to-back bowl games in 2010-11.

 

Butch Davis, former Miami coach

Davis is a popular name among many in the Miami fanbase to replace Golden. However, just how realistic is Davis as a candidate considering his tenure at North Carolina ended with a NCAA scandal? Davis is one of the most qualified candidates on this list, as he worked as an assistant at Miami from 1984-88 and later served as the program’s head coach from 1995-00. Davis went 51-20 with the Hurricanes and 28-23 with North Carolina from 2007-10. He has not coached since his tenure ended in Chapel Hill in 2010.

 

Related: College Football Awards from Week 8

 

Justin Fuente, head coach, Memphis

Fuente will be one of the top names to watch in the coaching carousel this offseason. In four seasons with the Tigers, Fuente has guided Memphis to a 24-20 record, including a 17-3 mark over the program’s last 20 games. Fuente’s turnaround at Memphis is even more impressive when you consider the state of the program after two seasons (3-21) under Larry Porter from 2010-11. Does Miami have the necessary resources (money) to pursue Fuente?

 

Tom Herman, head coach, Houston

Similar to Justin Fuente, Herman is another coach expected to draw a lot of interest from Power 5 programs this offseason. Herman is 7-0 in his first season with the Cougars, which is led by one of the nation’s most explosive offenses (47.6 points per game). Prior to taking over at Houston, Herman worked under Urban Meyer as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator (2012-14) and was arguably the nation’s best assistant in 2014. The Buckeyes lost starting quarterbacks J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, yet the offense never missed a beat with Cardale Jones under center on the way to the national championship. Herman also has stops as an offensive coordinator at Iowa State, Rice and Texas State.

 

Related: Former Players and Fans Rip Al Golden After Miami's Loss to Clemson

 

Doc Holliday, head coach, Marshall

Holliday wouldn’t be a big-name hire, but there are plenty of reasons for Miami to be interested. The West Virginia native is regarded as an outstanding recruiter – the type of coach Miami would need to win battles for players in South Florida against Florida State and Florida. Holliday also has ties to the state of Florida after working on Urban Meyer’s staff in Gainesville from 2005-07. Marshall is 47-26 under Holliday’s watch, including a 30-6 mark over the last three seasons.

 

Rich Rodriguez, head coach, Arizona

Rodriguez already has a good job at Arizona, but his name is likely to pop up other coaching searches this offseason. He's 31-17 in four years with the Wildcats and won the South Division title last season. Additionally, Rodriguez went 60-26 at West Virginia and 15-22 before he was fired at Michigan. There's no question Rodriguez is one of the nation's top 25 coaches and is a proven winner. However, with other jobs (Virginia Tech?) likely to open, Miami will have to pay big to land Rodriguez. Do the Hurricanes have enough resources? 

 

Greg Schiano, former Rutgers/Tampa Bay head coach

Schiano is another Miami assistant who could surface as a candidate for this job. The former Rutgers and Tampa Bay head coach has been out of football since he was fired from the Buccaneers at the end of the 2013 season. Schiano went 68-67 with the Scarlet Knights and guided the program to five consecutive bowl appearances from 2005-09. Schiano worked as Miami’s defensive coordinator from 1999-00.

 

Mark Stoops, head coach, Kentucky

Stoops is another former Miami assistant who could be targeted in this coaching search. The Ohio native is 11-20 in three years with Kentucky, but the Wildcats have showed marked improvement under his watch. After a 2-10 record in Stoops’ debut, Kentucky won five games in 2014 and is on track to make the program’s first bowl trip since 2010. Stoops started his coaching career in 1990 as a graduate assistant at Iowa and later worked as an assistant at USF, Wyoming and Houston before coaching defensive backs with the Hurricanes from 2001-03. After the three-year stint at Miami, Stoops worked as the defensive coordinator at Arizona and Florida State.

 

Brent Venables, defensive coordinator, Clemson

If Miami is willing to consider assistants for this job, Venables has to be near the top of the list. He’s regarded as one of the top assistants in the nation and certainly knows his way round the ACC after spending the last four years at Clemson. Venables played at Kansas State under Bill Snyder from 1991-92 and joined the program as a graduate assistant in 1993. After working as an assistant with the Wildcats, Venables was hired on Bob Stoops’ first staff at Oklahoma in 1999 and stayed in Norman until 2011. Venables has been a key piece in Clemson’s recent success and coordinated a defense that was arguably the nation’s best last season.

 

Longshots

 

P.J. Fleck, head coach, Western Michigan

Fleck is the youngest coach on the FBS level, but it’s only a matter of time before he moves up the coaching ladder and has an opportunity at a Power 5 program. The former Northern Illinois receiver is regarded as an excellent recruiter and has brought steady improvement to Western Michigan since 2013. After a 1-11 record in his first season, Fleck guided the Broncos to an 8-5 mark last year and a 4-3 start in 2015. For a program needing energy and the ability to recruit against Florida State and Florida, Fleck is a potential fit in Coral Gables.

 

Lane Kiffin, offensive coordinator, Alabama

Kiffin will eventually get a chance to be a head coach once again. However, Miami seems like a longshot.

 

Chuck Pagano, head coach, Indianapolis Colts

Pagano has ties to the program as a former assistant, but he hasn’t coached on the collegiate level since 2007. He’s also on the hot seat with the Colts and would be more likely to stay in the NFL ranks.

Teaser:
10 Coaching Candidates to Replace Al Golden at Miami
Post date: Sunday, October 25, 2015 - 20:07
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/cover-2-college-football-podcast-week-8-review
Body:

Hosts Braden Gall and David Fox break down all the big action from Week 8, including two more teams falling from the ranks of the unbeaten.

 

Florida State and Utah both fell in Week 8 but did so in totally different fashion. What is the lesson to be learned from their losses? The Big 12 was rather boring this weekend but one huge development could change the way we view that conference race. Alabama, Ole Miss, Arkansas and Mississippi State got wins in the SEC. JT Barrett stepped into the starting lineup as quarterack play took over the headlines in the Big Ten. How did the other ranked ACC teams fair this weekend on the road?

 

The guys also break down the ugliness at both Texas A&M and Miami. What the problems and what are the solutions?

 

 

Send any ideas, questions or comments to @BradenGall or @DavidFox615 or email [email protected]. The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com/podcastiTunesStitcher and our podcast RSS feed.

Teaser:
Cover 2 College Football Podcast: Week 8 Review
Post date: Sunday, October 25, 2015 - 15:01
All taxonomy terms: 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, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-8-awards
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Week 8 of the college football season is in the books. The weekend slate provided plenty of highlights, big plays, standout performances and surprises. While the Week 8 schedule appeared to be light on intrigue, Saturday's action wasn't short on drama or key outcomes in shaping the playoff and national title picture.

 

With another weekend of action in the books, it’s time to hand out the hardware to honor the best of the best from Week 8. Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ picks for the offensive, defensive, coordinator, freshman and unsung hero from Week 8:

 

College Football Week 8 Awards

 

Offensive Player of the Week: Luke Falk, QB, Washington State

Falk guided Washington State to a 45-42 road upset over Arizona by throwing for 514 yards and five touchdowns on 47 completions. Falk has passed for 500 or more yards in two out of the last three games and tossed only two interceptions in that span. Additionally, Falk leads the nation with an average of 412.1 passing yards per game and a 72.9 completion percentage.

 

Defensive Player of the Week: Cam Smith, LB, USC

Smith led the way for a solid all-around defensive effort from USC in Saturday night’s 42-24 win over Utah. The true freshman led the team with nine tackles and recorded three interceptions. Smith returned one interception for a score and took another pick 41 yards to setup a touchdown by fullback Soma Vainuku. Through seven games, Smith leads the team with 62 tackles and is one of the rising stars in the Pac-12.

 

Freshman of the Week: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Rosen was sharp in UCLA’s 40-24 victory over California on Thursday night. Despite injuries to running back Paul Perkins and receiver Devin Fuller, the Bruins didn’t miss a beat on offense. Rosen completed 34 of 47 passes for 399 yards and three scores. Rosen’s 399 passing yards were a career high and the most by a freshman in UCLA history.

 

Related: 10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 8

 

Coordinator of the Week: Dave Wommack, Ole Miss

Even with stars Robert Nkemdiche and Tony Conner sidelined due to injuries, Ole Miss’ defense suffocated Texas A&M’s high-powered offense on Saturday night. The Rebels limited the Aggies to just 192 overall yards (2.7 yards per play) and three points in a 23-3 victory. Wommack’s defense also forced three turnovers, 10 drives of five or fewer plays and six tackles for a loss. The 2.7 yards per play mark by Texas A&M’s offense against Ole Miss was the lowest total by the Aggies under coach Kevin Sumlin. 

 

Unsung Hero of the Week: Lance Austin, Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech upset Florida State in stunning fashion on Saturday night. The Yellow Jackets blocked a game-winning field goal attempt by Roberto Aguayo, with sophomore defensive back Lance Austin returning the miss 78 yards for a touchdown as time expired. Austin’s huge return helped Georgia Tech end the Seminoles’ 28-game winning streak in conference play.   

Teaser:
College Football Week 8 Awards
Post date: Sunday, October 25, 2015 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: 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, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/10-amazing-college-football-stats-week-8-2015
Body:

Numbers and statistics are a huge part of college football. Every Sunday, reading updated box scores and stats is like Christmas for fans and media members. Some stats like total offense and total defense are overrated, but each help paint a picture for a team or particular game.

 

Whether the stats are historic, advanced or just an observation from a box score, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of college football action:

 

10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 8
 

58-0: Miami’s Worst Loss in Program History

Al Golden’s tenure at Miami hit rock bottom in Saturday’s 58-0 loss to Clemson. The Hurricanes were thoroughly dominated by the Tigers on the stat sheet on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Brad Kaaya suffered a concussion in the first half and did not return. As a result, the offense managed only 146 total yards, converted six first downs, went 4 of 18 on third downs and lost three turnovers. The defense gave up 6.4 yards per play, 416 rushing yards, 33 first downs and 58 points. It’s only a matter of time before Miami makes a coaching change. And after the worst lost in program history, the timetable for a change is speeding up.

 

Related: College Football's Best Cheerleaders from Week 8

 

12: Points Scored by Missouri in its Last Three Games

Missouri’s offense wasn’t overly prolific last year (22.7 points per game in SEC contests), but this unit is struggling mightily in 2015. The Tigers have scored only 12 points in their last three games and have not scored an offensive touchdown since the third quarter of the 24-10 win against South Carolina on Oct. 3. The problems for this offense starts up front with an offensive line that has allowed 20 sacks, a lackluster rushing attack, while true freshman quarterback Drew Lock is experiencing growing pains in his first year in the program.

 

108: Points Scored in Friday’s Memphis-Tulsa Game, Most of any FBS Game in 2015

Two of the American Athletic Conference’s best offenses were on display Friday night. Memphis and Tulsa combined for 108 points in the Tigers’ 66-42 victory, which was the highest-scoring FBS game in 2015. Behind a rising star at quarterback in Paxton Lynch and a deep group of skill players, Memphis ranks third nationally in scoring offense (48.9 points per game).

 

Related: College Football's Top 10 Breakout Players in 2015

 

12: Touchdowns by Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett in Last Three Games

Urban Meyer made the switch from Cardale Jones to J.T. Barrett as Ohio State’s starting quarterback prior to Saturday’s game against Rutgers. While the offense was productive behind Jones, Barrett seems to be the best fit for Meyer’s attack. The numbers back Meyer’s switch, as Barrett recorded 324 total yards against the Scarlet Knights and five overall touchdowns. In his last three games, Barrett has scored 12 touchdowns – more than Jones has all year – and Ohio State is 16 for 18 in its red-zone trips in that span.

 

1,433: Yards Needed by Christian McCaffrey to Break All-Purpose Record

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey continued his run at the Heisman Trophy in Saturday’s win over Washington. The sophomore recorded 300 all-purpose yards against the Huskies, which is the second consecutive game McCaffrey has posted at least 300 all-purpose yards. Through seven contests, McCaffrey has 1,818 all-purpose yards and is on pace to break the single-season record by former Oklahoma State running back Barry Sanders (3,250 in 1988).

 

28: Florida State’s Win Streak Over ACC Teams Ends at Georgia Tech

Florida State’s 28-game winning streak against ACC opponents ended on Georgia Tech’s blocked field goal return for a touchdown as time expired on Saturday night. The loss to the Yellow Jackets was Florida State’s first in an ACC game since Oct. 6, 2012 and prevented coach Jimbo Fisher’s team from tying the conference record (29 consecutive wins) set by the Seminoles from 1992-95.

 

Related: College Football Coaches and Their Celeb Lookalikes

 

28: Career Pass Attempts by Baylor QB Jarrett Stidham

With Seth Russell sidelined indefinitely due to a neck injury, Baylor will hand the keys to its high-powered offense to Jarrett Stidham. The freshman was a top 50 recruit in the 2015 signing class and has looked sharp in limited action. Stidham has completed 24 of 28 passes for 331 yards and six touchdowns in seven appearances this year. It’s a small sample size, but Stidham’s totals and overall talent are impressive. Baylor’s playoff hopes hinge on how quickly Stidham settles into the starting role.

 

5: Nebraska Losses by 5 Points or Less in 2015

Nebraska might have the worst luck in close games of any team in college football this season. The Cornhuskers lost their fifth game of the year on Saturday, dropping a 30-28 matchup to Northwestern. Nebraska needs to win three of its last four to get to a bowl, but this team is just a couple of plays away from having a 5-3 or 6-2 record. All five of the Cornhuskers’ losses were by five points or less in 2015, including three by two points or less.

 

288: Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott Throws First Interception in 288 Passes

Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott turned in one of Week 8’s top performances by recording 465 overall yards and six total scores in the 42-16 win over Kentucky. However, Prescott tossed an interception against the Wildcats, ending a streak of 288 passes without a turnover. The streak was the third-longest in SEC history and a school record. With Prescott and Florida State’s Everett Golson tossing their first picks of the year, only two starters – LSU’s Brandon Harris and Arizona’s Anu Solomon – have yet to throw an interception in 2015.

 

100: Wins in a Row by Division III Powerhouse Mount Union

The stats in this column usually focus on the FBS level, but Mount Union’s impressive win streak deserves a mention in this space. The Purple Raiders earned their 100th consecutive victory on Saturday by defeating Wilmington 69-0 and have a chance to break their previous 110-game winning streak that stretched from 1994-05. 

Teaser:
10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 8 2015
Post date: Sunday, October 25, 2015 - 12:15
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Week 8 of the college football season is officially in the books. Saturday's slate of games was underwhelming on paper, but the Week 8 schedule produced plenty of crazy finishes, overtime battles and outstanding plays.

 

Miss anything from Week 8? Here’s 20 must-see plays, moments or post-game celebrations from the weekend of action:

 

20 Must-See Moments from College Football's Week 8 Games

 

1. Georgia Tech stuns Florida State on blocked field goal returned for a touchdown:

 

 

2. Clemson hands Miami worst loss in program history:

 

3. Alabama holds off upset-minded Tennessee to remain in playoff mix:

 

4. Peyton Manning looked puzzled after Tennessee fell short against Alabama:

5. Ohio State wide receiver Braxton Miller makes an outstanding catch against Rutgers:

6. USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster delivers a monster stiff arm to a Utah defender:

7. LSU cheerleaders have fun on the soaked sidelines of Tiger Stadium:

8. Stanford guard Joshua Garnett destroys Washington defenders on a running play:

9. Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell destroys a Texas A&M defender while blocking:

10. Kansas State coach Bill Snyder takes a tumble on a kickoff return:

 

11. This nifty fake punt helped Pittsburgh defeat Syracuse:

 

12. Louisville defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins rumbles (and hurdles) a player for a touchdown:

 

13. Bowling Green receiver Roger Lewis makes a one-handed touchdown catch:

 

14. This random photo of Japan popped up in ESPNU's broadcast of WKU-LSU:

 

15. A member of the media fell asleep watching the Penn State-Maryland game:

 

16. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn's reaction to a late play against Arkansas:

 

17. This punt was a really bad idea by Kansas:

18. Utah receiver Britain Covey recorded one of the best punt returns from 2015 in Week 8:

 

19. Tulsa receiver Keyarris Garrett grabs the Hail Mary pass before halftime against Memphis:

 

20. UCF's mascot quietly rides scooter in background while Houston scores touchdown:

 

Bonus: UMass player leveled against Toledo:

Teaser:
20 Must-See Moments from College Football's Week 8 Games
Post date: Sunday, October 25, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Carolina Panthers, NFC, Philadelphia Eagles, NFL
Path: /nfl/philadelphia-eagles-vs-carolina-panthers-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

There aren’t too many people interested in looking back at Philadelphia’s 45-21 rout of the Panthers last season. It’s easy to imagine why Carolina doesn’t want any part of it, but the Eagles’ refusal to pay attention to the past has to do with Cam Newton’s physical condition. Last year, Newton was plagued by a variety of injuries. This time, he’s healthy, and any Eagle counting on him being as immobile as he was in 2014 will be extremely disappointed.

 

Newton’s good health has been a huge factor in the Panthers’ 5-0 start. Their bolt to the top of the NFC South has ended memories of last year’s rotten overall performance by the division and put the team in great position to bid for home-field advantage in the postseason. Philadelphia, meanwhile, has won two straight and hopes to take another big step toward correcting its 1-3 stumble from the gate. Now tied for first in the NFC East but holding a tiebreaker over the Giants due to Monday’s 27-7 victory, Philadelphia hopes to continue its momentum as it plays a final game before its bye week.

 

Philadelphia at Carolina

 

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV: NBC
Point Spread: Carolina -3

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Sam the Sham

By throwing three picks against New York, Eagles QB Sam Bradford upped his total giveaways this season to nine, hardly an ingredient in a winning recipe. Bradford’s trademark accuracy, a big reason the Eagles traded for him, has eluded him so far, as the nine picks would indicate.

 

“[Bradford’s accuracy is] one of the reasons we really liked him,” Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said. “I thought he was really good with the football before he got here.”

 

While the Eagles’ ground game has been showing life of late, Bradford’s gaffes — five picks in the last two games — have prevented the offense from building the kind of pace and effectiveness Kelly wants. If he continues to struggle, the Eagles won’t be able to beat any of the NFC’s top teams. With Carolina cornerback Josh Norman, who has returned two of his four picks for touchdowns, lurking, there could be some big trouble ahead.

 

2. Spy vs. Spy

One of the main reasons the Eagles were so dominant against the Panthers last year was that linebacker Connor Barwin spent the entire game spying Newton and had 3.5 sacks. The 6-5, 245-pounder is strong enough to corral the sizeable (6-5, 245) Newton and pretty quick. But the Panthers have three new starters on the line this year and have been quite good at giving Newton time. And since the QB is healthy, he’s able to move much better than he did last season.

 

“One thing about Cam is you can spy him and run with him, but then can you tackle him?” asked Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis.

 

3. Soft Underbelly

Last year this time, Carolina was 3-2 before embarking on an 0-6-1 slide that it corrected with a 4-0 finish. The undefeated Panthers hold a half-game lead over the surprising Falcons in the South and are a half-game behind Green Bay for the NFC’s top record. Things look pretty good. But should Carolina fans be concerned? The Panthers' five wins have come against teams with a combined 9-20 record. None of the team’s victims has a winning record, with Tampa Bay’s 2-3 mark the best of the lot. The Eagles, meanwhile, have faced a slate of teams that has an aggregate 18-16 mark. Does that mean Philadelphia is more battle-tested? It will be interesting to find out.

 

Final Analysis

 

The Panthers have won despite pedestrian passing (55.4 percent completion rate by Newton) and only one receiver (tight end Greg Olsen) who can be considered a threat. But Carolina has gotten the job done, albeit against an easy slate, and has the confidence of a team on the move, especially after last week’s dramatic comeback win in Seattle.

 

Being in first place in the NFC East is hardly reason for celebration, but the Birds have won two in a row and believe they have found some solutions to the problems that plagued them the first four weeks. The offense is moving the ball better, but Bradford has to cut back the interceptions. Meanwhile, the defense has been excellent and a big reason the team has won two in a row.

 

Prediction: Eagles 24, Panthers 20

 

— Written by Michael Bradley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bradley is a writer and broadcaster based in suburban Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter @DailyHombre.

Teaser:
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Carolina Panthers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, October 25, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, NFC, NFC East, NFL
Path: /nfl/dallas-cowboys-vs-new-york-giants-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

The New York Giants (3-3) have been in a foul mood since the opening game of the 2015 season. That was when they gave up a fourth quarter TD in the final 1:34 to open the season at 0-1 against division rival and hated foe the Dallas Cowboys (2-3). That loss was followed up by another in which the Giants led by 10 in the final quarter. They were able to turn things around after that winning their next three in a row, but then fell apart last week on the road against another division rival, the Philadelphia Eagles. Tom Coughlin's team is now poised to avenge their opening loss this Sunday afternoon in a pivotal NFC East game at home at MetLife Stadium. 

 

The Cowboys started the season in the way that everyone thought they would, winning their home opener in dramatic fashion. Since then, however, Jason Garrett's team has been spiraling down the NFC East rabbit hole. The Cowboys defeated the Eagles to take an early two-game lead in the division, but the victory was costly. After Dez Bryant left in the opening game against the Giants with a foot injury, Tony Romo broke his left clavicle in Week 2. Dallas has had a difficult time replacing its most important offensive weapons, as the poor performance of backup Brandon Weeden, coupled with spotty defensive play, has ultimately eliminated the Cowboys' early cushion. Now, coming out of their bye, the Cowboys are searching for answers on how to stop the bleeding and get back on track. They have made a change at QB, benching Weeden for veteran Matt Cassel. The Cowboys enter today's game three-game losing streak, 2-0 in the division, but a half game back for the NFC East lead. They NEED this win to keep pace with Philadelphia and New York. 

 

Dallas at New York

 

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET (Sunday)

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: New York -3 

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. How Will the Cowboys Score?

The Cowboys were able to come from behind in their opener because they had Tony Romo and his fourth-quarter heroics. Since losing Romo, the offense has been efficient, but far from explosive. And it is that missing explosiveness that has kept them from winning games. With no Romo, no Dez Bryant, and no Lance Dunbar (who was leading the team in yards per carry, and was third in receptions when he tore his ACL in Week 4), Dallas enters this game with huge question marks on offense. The hope is that a QB change to a capable veteran like Matt Cassel will be enough to spark some offensive production. However, a quarterback change will not be enough to bring a victory. Cassel will need someone to step up and make plays. Chances are, it won't be tight end Jason Witten, who is likely to find himself in double coverage all day long. So the real question is, who will step up and make plays for the Cowboys?

 

2. How Will the Giants Stop the Cowboys From Passing?

The Giants are giving up passing yards in massive chunks. Based on the numbers, It appears that their secondary, which is missing injured CB Prince Amukamara, is the reason for the big plays allowed. After a closer examination, it looks like it is the lack of defensive pressure that is the real culprit. The Giants are allowing QBs way too much time in the pocket scan the field and find an open target, and they are paying the cost. The Giants' secondary is having to cover for 4-5 seconds each play because the defensive line can't get to the quarterback, and the challenge is a bit more than this unit has been able to handle. It won't matter who it is at QB for the Cowboys if the Giants can't get to him and disrupt his timing.

 

3. Third Down

This entire game will come down to third down conversions. The team that can convert its third downs, while defensively getting off the field, will win the game. The Cowboys are at 32 percent on third down, while allowing their opponents to be successful 41 percent of the time. The Giants are converting their own third downs a 42 percent clip, but opponents have fared even better (44 percent). Both teams have had defensive mental lapses that have cost them, dearly. Both teams have struggled to get off the field on drives where they have put their opponents in third-and-long situations. The team that can correct those trends this afternoon will win.

 

Final Analysis

 

The Cowboys team that will play Sunday is far different from the one that opened the season. Although they are coming off a bye week, they are hoping for a lot to happen in a short amount of time. A QB change may not be enough to make the Cowboys' offensive woes go away. The Cowboys will need a strong defensive performance to keep this game close and to give their offense a chance to put something together. The Giants, coming off a bad loss to Philadelphia, need to get back to Giants football and correct a ton of defensive mistakes. The Giants had 12 penalties for 94 very costly yards. But the real problem was that the Giants could not get off the field on third and long because of those penalties, which allowed the Eagles sustain drives. The Giants are not likely to make those same mistakes this week against the Cowboys.

 

It seems as though it will be easier for the Giants to correct their small mistakes, then for the Cowboys to overcome so many changes in such a small amount of time. Look for the Giants, to capitalize on just enough opportunities to hold off their divisional rivals at home.

 

Prediction: Giants 24, Cowboys 20

 

— Written by Lloyd H. Spence, Jr., who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Spence also has written for the Dallas Morning News, Yahoo!'s Rivals.com, and ESPN Louisville. He can be heard on the radio of "Talkin NOIZ" and "The Football Show of Collin County." Follow him on Twitter @TalkinNOIZ.

Teaser:
Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, October 25, 2015 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-week-7-injury-updates-odell-beckham-jr-keenan-allen-rueben-randle-john-brown
Body:

There are just four late games in Week 7, including the Monday night contest and yet there are twice as many wide receivers on the injury report for the eight participating teams. Which names are the ones you really need to pay attention to fantasy-wise? There are even more ailing WRs in the early games, as well as some key QB/TE and RB injuries you should check out before setting your starting lineup.

 

Teams on bye: Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Green Bay

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex

 

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

Questionable – Hamstring

Last week, fantasy owners were nervous about Beckham's playing status heading into the game. He did end up playing and finished with a 7/61/1 stat line. He didn’t appear limited in any way. He rested this week, but will likely be active on Sunday. He's a clear-cut WR1 if he plays.

 

Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers vs. Oakland Raiders (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

Questionable – Hip

Going by comments made to the press on Friday, it seems that Allen is on the probable side of his questionable tag. He was able to practice and said he would play on Sunday. Assuming he is active, he's a clear WR1 against a terrible Raiders secondary. Allen is a PPR monster, but is still a WR1 even in standard leagues.

 

Rueben Randle, WR, New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

Probable – Hamstring

Randle was a question mark heading into Week 6, but ended up playing. He had five receptions for 44 yards, but didn't look 100 percent. He's had another day to rest, and should be better, however, he's still only a WR3. Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) will likely play, which means Randle will be fighting for targets behind ODB.

 

John Brown, WR, Arizona Cardinals vs. Baltimore Ravens (Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET)

Questionable – Hamstring

Brown told the media that he was going to be fine to play on Monday despite suffering a setback with his hamstring injury. He didn’t practice Friday, but he could still play on Monday. He's coming off a huge game (10 rec., 196 yds.), in which he also had been dealing with a hamstring issue. If he is active, he's a high WR2 in a great matchup.

 

Stevie Johnson, WR, San Diego Chargers vs. Oakland Raiders (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

Questionable – Hamstring

After practicing this week, Johnson should play on Sunday. This will take away a bit from Allen's targets, but not enough that Allen drops from a WR1. Johnson is a WR3 that has a much higher ceiling if Antonio Gates (Questionable – Knee) does not play.

 

Riley Cooper, WR, Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers (Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET)

Questionable – Knee

Cooper played through his knee injury last week and should be good to go in Week 7. With Agholor out, he will be an option in the passing game. However, the Panthers’ secondary is tough, and Cooper has not had more than three receptions in a game yet this year. He does have two touchdowns, but predicting who Sam Bradford will throw a touchdown to is next to impossible. He's a WR4 this week.

 

Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

Out – Foot

While fantasy owners got their hopes up when they heard Bryant was practicing, he is still not ready for game action. It is possible he returns in Week 8, but he needs to be able to do more in practice and not have any kind of setback.

 

Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers (Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET)

Out – Ankle

It has been revealed that Agholor has a high ankle sprain, which he sustained in Week 5. The Eagles have a bye next week, so he might be able to play in Week 9. He has eight receptions for 105 yards in five games. While it is possible he has a big game down the road, it is too hard to predict. Feel free to cut bait if you haven't already.

 

Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

Out – Calf

Surprising no one, Cruz has been ruled out for Week 7. He still has damage in his calf and has not been cleared to practice. At this point, if you are still hanging on to him, you can drop Cruz for a higher upside play.

 

— 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.

Teaser:
Fantasy Football Week 7 Injury Updates: Odell Beckham Jr., Keenan Allen, Rueben Randle, John Brown
Post date: Sunday, October 25, 2015 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/week-7-fantasy-football-injury-updates-brandon-marshall-jeremy-maclin-eric-decker-allen-robinson-allen-hurns
Body:

Wide receivers have littered the injury report in recent weeks and even with four teams on bye, Week 7 is no exception. The early games are full of fantasy-relevant names you need to know about, starting with the early kickoff across the pond in London featuring the Bills’ M*A*S*H wide receiver corps and the Jaguars’ Allen twins. Don’t forget to check the banged-up WRs in the late games, as well as the key QB/TE and RB injuries.

 

Note: All games are at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday unless otherwise noted.

 

Teams on bye: Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Green Bay

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex

 

Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Jets at New England Patriots

Probable – Calf

Marshall showed up on the injury report on Thursday with a calf injury, but the probable tag means he's likely good to go on Sunday. He's a high WR2 against the Patriots, who give up the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. They've let wide receivers score a touchdown in four of five games so far this year, and multiple wide receivers on the same team score touchdowns in two of those games.

 

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Questionable – Concussion

Maclin did officially pass through the league's concussion protocol and he should be good to go on Sunday. The Steelers’ secondary can be beaten through the air, but Alex Smith has looked lost since Jamaal Charles got injured. Maclin was averaging over seven receptions a game prior to exiting the Week 6 game early, and will have to be the focal point of the Chiefs’ offense moving forward if they are going to have any success. He's a high WR2 for Week 7.

 

Eric Decker, WR, New York Jets at New England Patriots

Probable – Knee

Decker practiced in full on Wednesday, but was limited on Thursday. Because he did get the probable tag, the assumption is he was just getting a little rest. He should be good to go on Sunday and is a high-end WR2 in a game where the Jets are going to be throwing the ball a lot. Decker has a touchdown in every game he's played this season (four) and that streak should continue in Week 7.

 

Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Buffalo Bills (London, Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET)

Probable – Shin

Robinson will likely be active, but he drops to a WR3 this week. He has three touchdowns in the past two weeks, but he has a tough matchup this week. Look for TE Julius Thomas and WR Allen Hurns to both finish with better numbers than Robinson in Week 7. If you have Robinson, start him as your third wide receiver, but don't look for him to repeat last week's numbers.

 

Allen Hurns, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Buffalo Bills (London, Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET)

Probable – Ankle

Both Allens of Jacksonville are on the injury report and both are probable, meaning that both will likely play. However, even though Robinson is the No. 1 wide receiver in Jacksonville, Hurns is the better play for Week 7 and is a high WR3. Buffalo has shut down the No. 1 receiver for opposing teams over the past four weeks:

Week 6: A.J. Green, 4/36/0

Week 5: Kendall Wright, 3/29/0,

Week 4: Odell Beckham Jr., 5/38/0

Week 3: Jarvis Landry, 8/67/0

 

Leonard Hankerson, WR, Atlanta Falcons at Tennessee Titans

Probable – Ribs

Hankerson was able to practice in full on Friday, so he should be good to go on Sunday. Since his massive Week 4 game, he's totaled five receptions for 50 yards. He's a WR3 against a Titans defense that has given up the fifth-fewest points to wide receivers. They have allowed five touchdowns over five games to wide receivers (through the air, six if you count Jarvis Landry's rushing touchdown in Week 6), so it is possible Hankerson finds the end zone.

 

Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis Rams vs. Cleveland Browns

Questionable – Thigh

While Cleveland’s top cornerback Joe Haden is out for this game, Tavon Austin's WR3 status doesn't change. The Rams struggle to move the ball through the air, and the Browns have the worst rush defense in the league. Look for this to be the Todd Gurley show with the rest of the team just adding yards where they can. Austin will likely play, but with an average of three receptions per game, he's a touchdown-dependent WR3.

 

Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (London, Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET)

Out – Ankle

After leaving the stadium on crutches in Week 6, it’s not surprising that Watkins was ruled out earlier this week. With Watkins and Percy Harvin both out, the top two wide receivers for Buffalo are now Robert Woods and Chris Hogan. In Week 6, Woods had four receptions for 47 yards on six targets. Hogan had two receptions for 31 yards on five receptions. EJ Manuel will likely target both, but each is still nothing more than a risky WR3.

 

DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington Redskins vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Out – Hamstring

Each week it appears that it may be getting close to DJax's return, but each week, he's been ruled out. The Redskins have a bye in Week 8, and it is possible he plays in Week 9, but it's hard to hold on to a player that hasn't recorded a catch in 2015.

 

Percy Harvin, WR, Buffalo Bills vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (London, Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET)

Out – Not Injury Related

Harvin is listed as out, but the reason given is “Not Injury Related," which is somewhat curious. This could be more related to his contract than the truth. Harvin his dealing with a hip injury and there have been reports that not only could he be out multiple weeks, but that he also has considered retirement. The latter has been shot down for the most part, but the fact remains there’s no reason to keep Harvin on your roster.

 

Cecil Shorts, WR, Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins

Out – Hamstring

Shorts has been ruled out, but Nate Washington is back. DeAndre Hopkins is the only Houston wide receiver you want to start in fantasy leagues, and owners looking to capitalize on Jaelen Strong's Week 5 performance need to wait a little longer.

 

Harry Douglas, WR, Tennessee Titans vs. Atlanta Falcons

Out – Ribs

Douglas is out, which means that Dorial Green-Beckham and Justin Hunter should have more opportunities to step up. DGB is capable of having a true breakout game, and while it may not come this week, he's an intriguing boom-or-bust WR in Week 7.

 

— 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.

Teaser:
Week 7 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Brandon Marshall, Jeremy Maclin, Eric Decker, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns
Post date: Sunday, October 25, 2015 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-week-7-injury-updates-adrian-peterson-melvin-gordon-tj-yeldon-dion-lewis
Body:

As we delve into the Week 7 injury report for fantasy-relevant running backs, the good news is that there seem to be more knowns than unknowns. Four teams on bye (Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver and Green Bay) also help keep the volume down. That said, be sure to read up the latest on the ailing RBs below before you setting your lineup. And don’t forget to check on any injured QBs/TEs and WRs (early games, later games) that may be on your roster too.

 

Note: All games are at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday unless otherwise noted.

 

Teams on bye: Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Green Bay

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex

 

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions

Probable – Finger

Yes, Peterson is on the injury report. Yes, he’s playing today. He’s probable and will be a top-5 running back in Week 7. Carry on.

 

Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego Chargers vs. Oakland Raiders (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

Questionable – Ankle

After Gordon's performances over the past three weeks, it's hard to want to start him, even if he is active. He hasn't had more than 50 yards rushing in the past three games and has lost a fumble in each of the past two. He put in limited practices on Thursday and Friday and should be active on Sunday. His matchup against the Raiders is a good one, but he's a RB3 at best.

 

T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Buffalo Bills (London, Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET)

Questionable – Abdomen

Yeldon was able to finally practice, and should be active Sunday morning. However, the matchup against the Bills is a tough one and if he's not at 100 percent, he's a low RB2. The Jags are likely going to be throwing the ball, and while Yeldon did catch a TD pass in the last game he played (Week 5), he's not usually a major player in the passing game. The most receptions he’s had in any one game is five and for the season he’s totaled just 15 in five games.

 

Dion Lewis, RB, New England Patriots vs. New York Jets

Questionable – Abdomen

Lewis had a questionable tag heading into Week 6, and he was active. Unfortunately for fantasy owners who started him, he only had four carries for 21 yards and three receptions for 18 yards. LeGarrette Blount had the big game, but that should switch this week. The Jets have allowed just one rushing touchdown all season, so the way to beat them is to throw the ball. Look for the Patriots to utilize Lewis in the passing game quite a bit, giving him RB2 value.

 

Joique Bell, RB, Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings

Probable – Ankle

Bell will join Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick (below) in a suddenly crowded Lions backfield. The presence of all three devalues each of them. They will take carries away from the others, as no one has taken charge and cemented their status as the lead horse. Bell is still listed above Abdullah on the depth chart, but that doesn't mean much. Bell will likely be involved in the passing game, but not enough to give him fantasy relevance. He's barely a RB3.

 

Theo Riddick, RB, Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings

Probable – Groin

Riddick had seven carries for 28 yards and three receptions for 50 yards in Week 6. He'll be active this week, but with Joique Bell back think long and hard before starting any Lions RB this week. Riddick is worth stashing in case of injury to Bell (again) or Ameer Abdullah, but there are better options at running back this week.

 

Tre Mason, RB, St. Louis Rams vs. Cleveland Browns

Questionable – Ankle

After getting two carries for eight yards in Week 5, Mason doesn’t appear to be a part of the Rams’ offense as long as Todd Gurley is healthy. Mason didn't practice all week and it doesn't look like he'll play on Sunday. Don't start him in any format.

 

Chris Thompson, RB, Washington Redskins vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Doubtful – Back

Thompson most likely won't play, and while fantasy owners aren't typically starting him in the first place, this bodes well for Matt Jones. Jones missed Week 6 with a toe injury, but he has put in full practices and is probable for Week 7. While Alfred Morris isn't used in passing downs, Jones and Thompson are. If Thompson is out, it opens the door for Jones to get more touches.

 

Karlos Williams, RB, Buffalo Bills vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (London, Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET)

Out – Concussion

Surprising no one, Williams is still out with the concussion that sidelined him in Week 4. He didn't travel with the team to London and is droppable in most leagues, even those that have LeSean McCoy. Barring injury to McCoy, Williams does not have fantasy value. However, if he can't even be active for a game, especially with the bye week next week, don't hang on to him if there are better options on the waiver wire.

 

Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets at New England Patriots

Out – Ankle

It's hard to imagine anyone was starting Powell, but knowing that he's out means a bigger day for Chris Ivory is possible. Powell can be dropped in all leagues.

 

— 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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Fantasy Football Week 7 Injury Updates: Adrian Peterson, Melvin Gordon, T.J. Yeldon, Dion Lewis
Post date: Sunday, October 25, 2015 - 06:00

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