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Path: /college-football/virginia-cavaliers-vs-miami-hurricanes-preview-and-prediction-2015

After their controversial 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that won the game in interim head coach Larry Scott's debut, the Miami Hurricanes (5-3, 2-2 ACC) will return home to Sun Life Stadium this weekend as they will take on the Virginia Cavaliers (3-5, 2-2). 


Despite being underdogs last weekend at home against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Virginia won the game 27-21. Matt Johns finished 17-of-28 for 175 yards and a touchdown. 


The all-time series between Miami and Virginia is tied at 6-6. In the last meeting between the two schools, the Cavaliers topped the Hurricanes 30-13 last year in Charlottesville.  A win on Saturday would make Miami bowl eligible for the eighth consecutive season. 


Virginia at Miami

Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET
Channel: ESPN 3/Fox Sports South
Spread: Miami -7.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Who will play quarterback for Miami?
Starting quarterback Brad Kaaya suffered a concussion during their 58-0 loss against Clemson a couple of weeks ago. He failed the concussion protocol before the Duke game and was ruled out of last week’s game.


Prior to being injured, Kaaya was playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC as he has thrown 1846 yards, 10 touchdowns against two interceptions. 


His replacement last week, backup quarterback Malik Rosier was superb in his first career start.


The freshman was 20-of-29 for 272 yards as he also chipped in two touchdowns. Rosier’s 272 yards was the second most yards for any Hurricane quarterback in their first start since 1999. 


Scott said after practice on Tuesday that Kaaya is listed as questionable for the Hurricanes' game against the Cavaliers. 


“He’s still questionable [for Saturday],” Scott said. “This is one of the final pieces to the protocol with that. He was out, did some things, looked good, but the doctors are evaluating that situation closely. We’ll follow their feedback from this afternoon when they have a chance to look at how he did and visit with him.”


2. Trent Corney
In Miami’s game against Clemson, the Tigers were able to get a lot of pressure on Kaaya and Rosier and that was the reason the Hurricanes turned the ball over three times. Virginia has the personnel to follow the same receipt to defeat Miami. 


Virginia defensive end Trent Corney had his best game of the season against Georgia Tech last week. The senior recorded four tackles, two sacks and forced a fumble that lead to a Virginia touchdown two scores later. 


With the youth on Miami’s offensive line, Scott and the Hurricanes will have to pay special attention to where Corney is lined up on the field. 


3. Takeaways 
Coming into their game on Saturday, Miami ranks near the top in turnover margin. The Hurricanes are sixth in the FBS in turnover margin as they have 17 takeaways against seven giveaways. 


While Miami is near the top in the turnover margin department, Virginia is not as the Cavaliers rank 120th in turnover margin. Virginia has eight takeaways to 18 giveaways this season. 


Any time a team goes on the road, turnovers are usually the ultimate determiner on if a team will come up victorious.


Virginia only turned the ball over once last week against Georgia Tech and they will likely have to play a similar clean game to defeat the Hurricanes on Saturday.  


Final Analysis 


It is hard to predict this game without knowing the status of Kaaya. If he is 100 percent and he does play, there’s no reason Miami can’t win this game with ease. If Rosier starts, Virginia will of course have a better shot to win this game.


Either way, Miami will likely lean on running back Joseph Yearby on Saturday. The true sophomore has rushed for 641 yards this season and five touchdowns on 5.1 yards per carry. Virginia will also have to worry about Yearby being a playmaker out of the backfield as he has caught 17 passes for two touchdowns. 


Johns has been the definition of inconsistency all season long. The senior has thrown 13 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. 


The Hurricanes should be able to force a couple of turnovers and that should be enough to carry them to a victory. 


Prediction: Miami 31, Virginia 24


— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.

Virginia Cavaliers vs. Miami Hurricanes Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 08:10
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-picks-week-10-2015

This has been an odd college football season so far for many reasons. First off, there are 10 job openings already and we still have four weeks or so left to go. Virginia Tech added its name to the list with the announcement that the legendary Frank Beamer is going to retire at the end of the season. Second, the AAC provided three of the 25 teams in the first College Football Playoff rankings. Memphis is the highest at No. 13, although the Tigers still have to go through Navy, Houston and potentially Temple twice. Finally, I still maintain there's truly not a dominant team left. There are several squads without a loss, but each has their faults. We'll see how this week plays out on the field.


Record: 43-39 (6-2 last week)


Temple (7-1) at SMU (1-7) (Friday)

Temple came thisclose to beating Notre Dame and sending Owl fans into a true frenzy. Instead the Owls fell short and left the game battered and bruised. The injury list is long with Kyle Friend, Jahad Thomas, Tavon Young and Nate Smith among the walking wounded. Friend is the leader of the offensive line while Thomas is Temple’s No. 1 running back. Yes, SMU's defense is next-level awful, but can Temple take advantage of it? P.J. Walker has been up and down as QB. SMU's offense has not been the problem, as the Mustangs have moved the ball well. The problem has been turnovers with nine of them occurring in the last three games. As a Temple fan, I'm still bummed over the Irish loss so you'd have to think the players will be too. This game's not as important with the Owls maintaining a two-game lead in the AAC East and a bigger contest looming at South Florida then at home vs. Memphis. SELECTION: SMU +14 (If you want to be real daring, throw a small wager on the SMU ML)


UL Lafayette (3-4) at Georgia State (2-5)

Georgia State's offense is clicking right now as the Panthers enter Saturday's matchup with ULL. The Panthers have scored 65 points in their last two games and are doing so behind a potent passing attack. Nick Arbuckle is finding things a little easier despite not getting much support from his run game. The Ragin’ Cajuns can be beaten through the air, although most teams have preferred beating them on the ground. ULL's played three straight overs as the Cajuns’ offense has been clicking a bit. Georgia State has allowed 30 points or more in five of its last six and should do so again on Saturday. ULL is 40-18 O-U since 1992, including 13-6 the last three seasons. SELECTION: Over 63.5


Vanderbilt (3-5) at Florida (7-1)

The SEC East is all but Florida's to win and will be a done deal if it can beat Vanderbilt. The Gators have been doing enough to win and are adjusting to Will Grier no longer being at quarterback. Treon Harris is getting things done as Florida is one step away from a trip to Atlanta and the SEC Championship Game. There could be a hangover after the 27-3 win over Georgia in the rivalry game. Vanderbilt has a road win at Middle Tennessee already and has the defense to hang around. The problem is the Commodores’ woeful offense that has scored just 53 points in the last four contests. The Commodores have covered in eight of their last 11 games in the Swamp. They have also covered in 13 of their last 20 SEC games. Anytime you see a big spread and a low total, the underdog is worth a look. SELECTION: Vanderbilt +21


Syracuse (3-5) at Louisville (4-4)

A pair of poor offenses play each other as Louisville hosts Syracuse. The Orange are putting up just 337.2 yards per game as they have dealt with multiple quarterback injuries this season. Eric Dungey has been very good, but he's facing a Louisville team that is giving up just 309.2 yards per game. The Cardinals have played in five unders in their last six games, as the offense just doesn't have a lot of bite. Lamar Jackson is very mediocre at quarterback. The numbers aren't great for the Orange's defense, but they really don't have to be against the anemic Louisville attack. The home team has gone under in 18 of its last 26 as a favorite and 22 of the last 34 overall. SELECTION: Under 51.5


Kansas (0-8) at Texas (3-5)

The Jayhawks have just four more chances to pick up a win. It probably won't come Saturday when they play at Texas. The Jayhawks have struggled terribly defensively, giving up 30 points or more in five straight games. The Longhorns’ offense is dying to break out after their recent struggles against Iowa State (204 total yards). Put a weak defense in front of Texas and the Horns score, as evidenced by the 86 points at home against Rice and California in September. Kansas' offense has perked up a little bit although it's not showing on the scoreboard. Texas has allowed 435.2 yards per game so the Jayhawks might be able to find the end zone more than once. SELECTION: Over 54


Utah State (5-3) at New Mexico (4-4)

The Aggies’ porous run defense will be tested once again on Saturday against New Mexico. Utah State has surrendered 606 rushing yards in its last two games. The Lobos run it well and have put up 66 points in their last two conference home games (New Mexico State, Hawaii). The problem comes on the defensive side where the Lobos allow 422.1 yards per game. These two have played in 10 overs in their 16 games combined. New Mexico has gone over in 11 of its last 16 home games. SELECTION: Over 55.5


Iowa State (3-5) at Oklahoma (7-1)

Oklahoma's loss to Texas seems like a distant memory, as the Sooners have outscored their past three opponents 180-34. The Sooners blasted Kansas State, Texas Tech and Kansas to force their way back into the Playoff discussion. Iowa State enters this on a high following its 24-0 shutout of Texas at home. The problem for the Cyclones is that the road has been unkind in Big 12 play, falling 66-31 to Texas Tech and 45-27 to Baylor. ISU has been beaten up on defense and should continue to struggle entering this one. The Cyclones have been able to put up some points of their own with Mike Warren running the ball well. Oklahoma has a road game at Baylor next so focus could be a bit of an issue. The Sooners have gone over in 22 of their last 34 games including 19 of their last 30 as a favorite. SELECTION: Over 61




— Two teams going in a different direction in the AAC play as East Carolina hosts South Florida. The Pirates have lost two straight and three of their last four as they try to get that necessary sixth win to gain bowl eligibility. ECU has a home win over Virginia Tech to go with a close loss to Florida, but those games came back in September. The Pirates are struggling on offense with turnovers while the defense has not been able to get crucial stops lately. The Bulls have won three of their last four and are doing so behind Marlon Mack and Quinton Flowers. South Florida has a huge game next week at home against Temple as it looks to move up in the AAC East standings. I don't trust either team, but based on recent results, the road team is worth a look.


— I came very close to making an official play in the game involving two one-win MAC teams. I have tried several times to fade Miami (Ohio) and was going to do so once again with Eastern Michigan. The Eagles have a semi-decent offense to go along with a horrendous defense. The same can't be said for the RedHawks, who just have an awful defense to go along with an awful offense. They have been a favorite in just four games the last three seasons, winning three of them straight up. EMU has been an underdog of 3.5 to 10 points just five times the last three seasons. I really would like to take the road team in this one, but how can I trust the Eagles to win a game on the road when they've won just one game away from home the last three seasons?


— To keep with the theme of awful teams, I came really close to taking the over in the New Mexico State-Texas State game. The Bobcats have allowed 49 points or more in five of their seven games and have allowed 553 yards per game. The Aggies actually are much worse, allowing 561 yards and 48 points or more in six of their eight contests. The two have combined for 10 overs in 15 games this season. The reason it's not an official play is because the total has actually gone down and movements like that in smaller games concern me. Only someone who knows the Sun Belt would make a wager large enough to move the line. I lean to the over especially if someone moves the line back to its original spot.


— Injuries have prevented me from potentially making Florida State an official play in its showdown at Clemson. Everett Golson and Sean Maguire are both in play to start at quarterback for the Seminoles and that makes a bit of a difference in handicapping this game. Dalvin Cook isn't 100 percent with the ankle injury either. FSU has been an underdog of 10.5 to 21 points just five times since 1992.


— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.

Betting Against the Spread: College Football Picks for Week 10
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 08:05
Path: /college-football/penn-state-nittany-lions-vs-northwestern-wildcats-preview-and-prediction-2015

The Northwestern Wildcats are on the prowl and feeling confident after making an appearance in the first batch of the College Football Playoff rankings of the 2015 season. They have earned it with wins against Stanford and Duke to go along with Big Ten victories at Nebraska and Minnesota. The losses have been bad ones though, losing by a combined score of 78-10 in back-to-back games against Michigan and Iowa. This week Northwestern looks to improve to 7-2 and 3-2 in Big Ten play with a home game against Penn State.


The Nittany Lions are still a work in progress, but you would not have known that watching them dismantle Illinois last weekend. Is this what teams should expect from Penn State the rest of the way? Playing on the road has not been too kind to Penn State this season, so picking up a hard-fought victory this weekend could help generate a little more momentum heading into a well-timed bye week with Michigan coming to State College in two weeks.


Penn State at Northwestern


Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)


Spread: Northwestern -2.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Can Penn State carry over momentum from big Illinois win?

Penn State put together the best performance on both sides of the football the program has seen in the first year and a half under James Franklin. A 39-0 victory over Illinois was a big statement for Penn State, in which the defense made up for an uncharacteristically shaky performance against Maryland and the offense opened things up a bit as Christian Hackenberg passed for 266 yards and two touchdowns and actually caught one just for fun. Penn State rolled up 400 yards of offense while holding the Illini to just 167 yards. Now the test is to take that kind of performance on the road, which has been tricky for the Nittany Lions. Penn State is 1-2 on the road this season, with losses to Temple and Ohio State and a win against Maryland.


2. Will Thor(son) be worthy of dropping a hammer on Penn State?

The key player for Northwestern is quarterback Clayton Thorson. While he can be a bit up and down as a passer, completing 52.7 percent of his passes with six touchdowns thrown against five interceptions, he gives Penn State's defense something extra to think about with his legs. Northwestern's running game has seen leading rusher Justin Jackson go three straight games without more than 40 rushing yards, but Thorson has been there to pick up the slack. Two weeks ago against Nebraska (the Wildcats were off last week), Thorson went wild with 126 rushing yards and a touchdown. He broke free for a 68-yard play against the Huskers and earlier this year rattled off a 42-yard run against Stanford. If Penn State's solid defense makes a mistake, Thorson could break another key run. Northwestern's rushing offense is ranked third in the Big Ten, while Penn State's rushing defense is ranked sixth. Penn State was gashed for 315 yards on the ground against Ohio State and 241 yards against Maryland.


3. Revenge game for Nittany Lions

This will be the fourth revenge game for Penn State this season. So far the Nittany Lions have gone 2-1 against teams that defeated them a season ago. Wins came against Maryland and Illinois the past two weeks, with the Buckeyes the only team to score a repeat victory so far. Northwestern shut down Penn State in Happy Valley last season, ruining the afternoon for the homecoming crowd. The Wildcats left town with a stunning 29-6 victory in which Penn State's offense never found any answers against the Wildcats' defense. It was a masterful performance by Pat Fitzgerald's group, but the head coach of Northwestern knows he got a couple breaks to go his team's way last year and things could easily be different this time around. If Penn State's defense can crack down on the running game, the momentum could shift in Penn State's favor.


Final Analysis


Penn State's defense has taken a couple of lumps this season on the road, and that should be a concern again this weekend with the Nittany Lions visiting Evanston, but last week showed Penn State has a defense that is capable of shutting things down when they are on top of their game. The problem for Penn State is this Northwestern team is not one to take lightly. The Wildcats already have a home win against a rising Stanford program, and they also scored a road win at Duke earlier this season. Northwestern is not going to be easy to score many points on, so Christian Hackenberg needs to be on target and Saquon Barkley needs to have room to make some things happen. Penn State can sneak out of there with a win, but it will not be easy for either team.


Prediction: Penn State 20, Northwestern 17


— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also writes for and hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Northwestern Wildcats Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/comparing-all-2015-16-preseason-college-basketball-rankings-and-picks

Preseason predictions are an inexact science, particularly in college basketball.


Stars leave. Coaches change. Players develop. That’s always been the case. Now, impact freshmen and transfers have proven to be gamechangers. Teams can turnover their rosters on a year-to-year basis and still compete with teams full of veterans.


This season appears to be especially tricky. For the first time in several years, there is no consensus at the top. As many as four teams have earned a No. 1 ranking from major publications.


As Athlon Sports releases its preseason college basketball annual, we still like to look at the landscape of picks around the country, and this season is shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable in recent years.


2015-16 College Basketball Preseason Top 25


2015-16 Conference Champion Predictions
America East
Atlantic 10
Atlantic Sun
Big 12
Big East
Big Sky
Big South
Big Ten
Big West
Conference USA
Missouri Valley
Mountain West
Ohio Valley
Sun Belt
West Coast


Comparing All 2015-16 Preseason College Basketball Rankings and Picks
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: videos, NFL, Overtime
Path: /overtime/jimmy-fallon-roasts-eagles-cowboys-ahead-nfl-superlatives-sunday-night-football

Jimmy Fallon is back at it, making fun of football players set to face off in the upcoming Sunday night game. 


The Eagles-Cowboys matchup is always one to watch, and on "The Tonight Show," it'll be hard to see these players and not think of these superlatives.


Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 15:27
All taxonomy terms: videos, Overtime
Path: /overtime/americas-worst-sports-fan-cowboys-lakers-duke-yankees-bulls-ohio-state-michigan

We all know that one sports fans who just so happens to always be on the winning side of things.


This person is a bandwagoner or fair-weather fan, whichever you would like to call it. They've been a fan ironically since the team started winning. It's hilarious, and mildly sad at the same time.


Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 14:12
Path: /college-football/byu-cougars-vs-san-jose-state-spartans-preview-and-prediction-2015

Both BYU (6-2) and San Jose State (4-4) had the chance to relax and enjoy Halloween last week, as the two schools each had a bye. This Friday night, the Cougars and Spartans will shelve their trick-or-treat candy for a late-night date in the Bay Area.


This is the first game in a home-and-home series that will see the Spartans make a return trip to Provo in 2017. The Spartans lead the all-time series 10-6 over the Cougars.


BYU at San Jose State


Kickoff: 11:30 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV: CBS Sports Network

Spread: BYU -13.5


Three Things to Watch


1. BYU’s run defense vs. SJSU RB Tyler Ervin

One of BYU’s main focuses during the bye week was stopping the run. The Cougars have been prone to giving up big runs this season, especially in their losses against UCLA and Michigan. This week’s test will be a good measuring stick to see how far the Cougar defense has come in this regard with the nation’s third-leading rusher, Tyler Ervin, lining up for the Spartans.


Ervin is the Spartans’ do-it-all back as he not only carries the rock out of the backfield, he hauls in catches, returns kickoffs and punts. Ervin has had the most touches of any player in college football this season with 214.


2. How much will the playbook expand for BYU QB Tanner Mangum?

A true freshman, Mangum has been nothing short of terrific for BYU after losing Taysom Hill in the first week of the season against Nebraska.


Mangum has thrown for 1,905 yards, 14 touchdowns and only six interceptions while completing 63.7 percent of his passes. Not bad for a guy who was serving an LDS mission in Chile five months ago.


As BYU enters the home stretch of its schedule, and with 10 wins within reach, how much of the offensive playbook grows for Mangum? Quarterbacks coach Jason Beck said this week that they are bringing back some plays that were shelved after Hill went down against the Huskers.


The more plays BYU’s offensive staff throws at Mangum this season the better. Not only will it help the Cougars’ young quarterback grow, but it also benefits the offense’s future development. An independent FBS program, BYU has some challenging schedules awaiting it down the road.


3. Will anyone be awake?

Unless you’re watching a Hawaii Rainbow Warriors game on Oceanic PPV, it’s not very often you see an 11:30 p.m. (ET) kickoff. In fact, this is the latest game BYU has ever played on the mainland in the program’s history.


San Jose State still has a game at Hawaii, but this Friday’s game is still a later kick time than the upcoming visit to Honolulu.


We saw earlier this year that an early start time greatly affected BYU against Michigan, as the Cougars looked and played sluggish on their way to a shutout loss against the fighting’ Harbaughs. Will a late kickoff have any bearing against San Jose State? BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said this week that he is usually in bed by 9:30 p.m.


Make sure to get your naps in coach before this one.


Final Analysis


The last time BYU made a trip to Spartan Stadium in San Jose was in 2012. It was not a pleasant memory for the Cougars, as they fell to the Spartans 20-14. San Jose State that season went on to finish 11-2 and Mike MacIntyre parlayed that success into the head coaching job at Colorado.


This time around, there’s no David Fales at quarterback to lead the Spartans’ attack. Tyler Ervin is a special talent, but this BYU defense will be the best D he has seen this season, and that includes the Auburn Tigers. BYU is the toughest test to this point for Ervin; and I’d expect Bronco Mendenhall’s defense to be well prepared for Ervin.


The Spartans will score their share of points, but they won’t have any answer to stop BYU’s high-octane offense. Cougars roll in a game that will never be in doubt.


Prediction: BYU 41, San Jose State 23


— Written by Mitch Harper, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Harper is the BYU reporter and insider for 1320 KFAN and co-host of "The Cougar Center" podcast. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch_Harper.

BYU Cougars vs. San Jose State Spartans Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 13:30
Path: /college-football/temple-owls-vs-smu-mustangs-preview-and-prediction-2015

Despite losing last week at home against Notre Dame, the Temple Owls are still out to prove they belong in the Top 25. Temple looks to get over its first loss of the season, and it probably could not have asked for a better opponent to rebound against. Temple flies south to take on SMU, a program that has shown some slight signs of improvement this season but clearly still has a long way to go.


Temple at SMU


Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Friday)


Spread: Temple -14


Three Things to Watch


1. Short week for Owls after physical game vs. Irish

Temple will be looking to rebound from a loss in the biggest game in program history. The Owls should have no shame in losing a tough game against Notre Dame last week, but head coach Matt Rhule appears to be cautious about the loss to the Irish creating a bit of a hangover. This week during a meeting with the media Rhule noted some of his players were still dragging their feet after losing to the Irish. Rhule and his staff, as well as the team captains, need to make sure the focus on a conference championship opportunity remains crystal clear. There is no time to worry about what could have been. There is still business to attend to that was unaffected by last week's result.


2. Tyler Matakevich here, Tyler Matakevich there, Tyler Matakevich everywhere!

If you still do not know who Tyler Matakevich is at this point in the season, that blame is on you. Matakevich is pretty much everywhere when he is stepping on to the field to play linebacker for the Owls, and that should be the case Friday night against SMU. Matakevich is the conference's third-leading tackler with 78 takedowns, including 41 solo tackles. He had eight tackles last week against Notre Dame and is one of many solid tacklers for Temple's defense. Matakevich and the rest of the defense showed last week against Notre Dame just how well they can tackle. It is refreshing to see a team use fundamentals of tackling to their advantage, rather than go for the big hit time after time.


3. Temple defense vs. SMU offensive line is a decided advantage for Owls

In the season opener against Penn State, Temple's defense sacked Christian Hackenberg 10 times. Since the opener Temple has recorded 13 sacks, including six against East Carolina two weeks ago (none last week vs. Notre Dame). This week the Owls take on an offense that has allowed the quarterback to be sacked 33 times this season. That right there could be the biggest key to the game. It just so happens protecting the quarterback is something Temple has excelled at this year, with an AAC-leading 10 sacks allowed (tied with Navy). SMU has just 12 sacks on defense this season, so Temple quarterback P.J. Walker should have a much more stress-free evening compared to his counterpart, Matt Davis.


Final Analysis


It was known from the start that Chad Morris was taking over quite the rebuilding project at SMU, and there have been some signs of progress despite a woeful 1-7 record this season. There is a small chance SMU can catch Temple by surprise early on, but if the Owls play their kind of game then they should have a relatively easy time getting out of Texas with a win.


Prediction: Temple 34, SMU 17


— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also writes for and hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.

Temple Owls vs. SMU Mustangs Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/utah-utes-2015-16-basketball-team-preview-and-prediction

Larry Krystkowiak will never say that the Utah Utes have arrived. They climbed from the depths of a six-win season in his first year as Utah’s coach to the Sweet 16 in his fourth year, but Krystkowiak wants more. Rather than viewing an NCAA Tournament loss to eventual champion Duke as a destination, he expects the feeling of that defeat to propel the Utes into the 2015-16 season.


“You hope it sets a little fire for the guys to work harder this offseason,” Krystkowiak says. “This is the time where individuals can look at what they bring and where they need to get better.”


The Utes must replace NBA first-round draft pick Delon Wright, one of the top all-around players in school history. They also need to get tougher inside and rebound better if they expect to compete for a Pac-12 championship. Otherwise, with the return of center Jakob Poeltl and several veteran players, the Utes are well positioned for another high finish in the conference.


Pac-12 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




Wright’s decision to return as a senior was a major breakthrough for the Utes last year, and Poeltl’s choice to stay in school as a sophomore could be just as meaningful to the program. Poeltl matched up well with Duke’s Jahlil Okafor in the NCAA Tournament and is a projected lottery pick in 2016.


Poeltl will anchor a defensive scheme that has transformed the program. The Utes led the Pac-12 in field goal defense, allowing conference opponents to shoot 39.0 percent.


Dallin Bachynski graduated, and Jeremy Olsen retired from basketball for medical reasons, taking away Utah’s depth at center. Poeltl will have to avoid the foul trouble that limited him to 23.3 minutes per game as a freshman. Krystkowiak will use smaller lineups when Poeltl is on the bench.


The Utes have plenty of options in the frontcourt. Jordan Loveridge endured some poor offensive games, yet he made 43.5 percent of his 3-pointers and averaged 10.0 points. Chris Reyes is a solid defender and rebounder, although he played only 15.7 minutes as a starter. Brekkott Chapman and Kyle Kuzma are athletic players who will be expected to do more scoring in Wright’s absence.


Utah Utes Facts & Figures

Record: 29-6, 13-5 Pac-12

Postseason: Sweet 16

Consecutive NCAAs: 1

Pac-12 Projection: 5

Postseason Projection: First Round




Wright did everything for Utah as a point guard and team leader. The Utes hope Isaiah Wright (not related) can fill in adequately for Delon, drafted No. 20 overall by Toronto. The younger Wright showed promise in a limited role as a freshman, but he must improve his 37 percent shooting.


Brandon Taylor has the height of a traditional point guard, but he functions better off the ball. He was Utah’s most improved player last season, shooting 43.9 percent from 3-point range. Brandon Miller may figure into the point guard rotation as a freshman, having returned from a two-year church mission.


The Utes are well stocked at the wing positions. Dakarai Tucker is a good shooter who can supply offense as a reserve. Junior college transfer Lorenzo Bonam has some of Delon Wright’s multidimensional ability, and Gabe Bealer is another capable transfer, although he’s coming off a knee injury. Kenneth Ogbe was bothered by injuries last season and hopes to provide some defense.


Key Losses: G Delon Wright, C Dallin Bachynski

Top Players; G Isaiah Wright, G Brandon Taylor, G/F Dakarai Tucker, F Jordan Loveridge, F/C Jakob Poeltl




Gabe Bealer’s 2014-15 junior college season ended with a knee injury in November, so he enrolled at Utah ahead of schedule and continued his rehabilitation. If he’s healthy, Bealer is expected to play a big role as a swingman. Lorenzo Bonam, another versatile junior college transfer, filled a scholarship vacancy created by center Jeremy Olsen’s retirement for medical reasons. Freshman guard Brandon Miller will provide depth, and freshman forwards Makol Mawien and Austin Montgomery could figure into Utah’s frontcourt plans — if they develop soon enough.


Final Analysis


When the Utes were good in 2014-15, they were really good. Most of their 13 conference victories came by big margins. That trend may have hurt them in some close games, as they were not attuned to making critical plays at the end. Utah still tied for second place in the Pac-12 and thrived in traditional statistical categories of shooting percentage and field goal defense. The Utes’ biggest deficiency was rebounding, particularly in their defeats. They should improve in that area as Poeltl manages to stay in games for longer stretches.


Krystkowiak’s increased strength of schedule helped Utah earn a No. 5 seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. This season’s schedule is similar, highlighted by a game vs. Duke at Madison Square Garden, a home date with San Diego State and a trip to Wichita State. Utah catches a break in the Pac-12 scheduling by not having to visit Arizona.


The Utes are trending well, having gone from three conference wins in 2011-12 to 13 in ‘14-15. Such a trajectory will be difficult to maintain, but with a new practice facility opening and Krystkowiak having signed a contract through 2023, Utah should have some staying power in the Pac-12.

Utah Utes 2015-16 Basketball Team Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 12:47
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/oregon-state-beavers-2015-16-basketball-team-preview-and-prediction

There’s a renewed optimism around Oregon State basketball, and for good reason. The Beavers, who were picked to finish a distant last in the 2014-15 Pac-12 preseason poll, became one of the game’s feel-good stories during Wayne Tinkle’s debut season in Corvallis. Oregon State finished 17–14 overall, captured a program-record 15 home victories and recorded a massive upset of Pac-12 power Arizona. A roster short on talent and experience utilized stifling defense — paced by Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Gary Payton II — to frustrate opponents and grind out victories, putting Oregon State in the conversation for an NIT berth down the stretch.


Still, Tinkle does not believe his squad overachieved in Year 1. He points to the way the Beavers’ thin roster sputtered down the stretch, resulting in losses in seven of their last eight games. Tinkle declined an invitation to the College Basketball Invitational, instead opting to rest and focus on the following season.


And with a top-25 recruiting class merging with Oregon State’s core of returning players, the Beavers are eyeing their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1990.


Pac-12 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




Oregon State’s long list of potential impact newcomers starts with Tres Tinkle, Wayne’s son and a four-star recruit. At 6'8" and 220 pounds, he boasts length and versatility to shoot from the perimeter or finish at the basket while playing the 3 or 4. Fellow incoming freshman Drew Eubanks, a four-star prospect from Oregon, packs impressive, raw athleticism into his 6'10", 240-pound frame.


Meanwhile, senior Daniel Gomis’ decision to return to the Beavers rather than step away from basketball to pursue other opportunities after graduating this spring provides a big lift. His 4.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season are far from eye-popping, but his physical presence as a rim protector made him Oregon State’s top post player. He’ll also be relied on as a veteran leader.


Additionally, senior Jarmal Reid has earned praise from Tinkle because of the way he’s transformed his body to become more athletic during the offseason. Fellow senior Olaf Schaftenaar was the Beavers’ best 3-point shooter a year ago (37.6 percent) but still has work to do to use his 6'10", 235-pound frame to score with his back to the basket. Cheikh N’diaye, a 7-foot junior from Senegal, was used in spurts last season but needs to improve his strength and conditioning to increase his playing time. Justin Stangel, a former walk-on who was awarded a scholarship before last season, could be the Beavers’ most improved player and a potential contributor in his final season.


Oregon State Beavers Facts & Figures

Record: 17-14, 8-10 Pac-12

Postseason: None

Last NCAA Tournament: 1990

Pac-12 Projection: 6

Postseason Projection: First Round




The unquestioned heartbeat of the 2014-15 Beavers was Payton II, the son of NBA legend Gary Payton, the best player in Oregon State history. Payton II led the Beavers in scoring (13.4 ppg) while dishing out 3.2 assists per game, playing relentless defense on the perimeter (3.1 spg) and bringing rare toughness inside. Payton II is only 6'3", but he led the team in rebounding (by a wide margin) at 7.5 per game and ranked second in blocks (1.2 bpg). He continues to work on his shot and ball handling, two qualities that will help him develop into a pro.


Upperclassmen Malcolm Duvivier, one of three double-figure scorers last year (10.7 ppg), and Langston Morris-Walker will be needed as veteran leaders and complementary options on offense. But the Beavers’ backcourt will also feature some fresh, highly touted contributors. Stephen Thompson Jr., the son of the Oregon State assistant coach, was a top-50 overall national recruit because of his deadly outside jumper and ability to finish in the paint. Freshman point guard Derrick Bruce, meanwhile, can push the tempo and play lockdown perimeter defense.


Key Loss: G/F Victor Robbins

Top Players: G Gary Payton II, G Malcolm Duvivier, G Langston Morris-Walker, F Tres Tinkle, F Olaf Schaftenaar




Tres Tinkle, Stephen Thompson, Drew Eubanks and Derrick Bruce are the obvious highlights of the Beavers’ highly touted class, but big man Gligorije Rakocevic and guard Kendal Manuel can also play. Rakocevic blends intense physicality with underrated skills around the basket. Manuel, a late addition to the class, is primarily a shooter who played on Tres Tinkle’s AAU team.


Final Analysis


Obviously, expectations are high for Oregon State, both inside and outside the program. The Beavers have already bought into a feisty defensive philosophy. Now, they’ve added natural scorers who should help alleviate the team’s extended offensive droughts.


Still, Tinkle has preached that, even with these talented newcomers, it could take some time for this team to develop chemistry. The coach is confident, though, that the Beavers are in a better position to finish strong because of the added depth. Tinkle hopes that it all leads to the Beavers’ snapping a 25-year March Madness drought.

Oregon State Beavers 2015-16 Basketball Team Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 12:41
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/ucla-bruins-2015-16-basketball-team-preview-and-prediction

This is UCLA, and as Steve Alford enters his third season at the helm of the program with 11 NCAA championships, the pressure is on to move past the Sweet 16 following consecutive regional semifinal appearances.


As the Bruins aim higher entering the 2015-16 season, they’re aided by the fact they return plenty of able bodies. The 11 scholarship players on the roster represent the most Alford has had since he arrived in 2013.


The hope in Westwood is that the Bruins can find the right blend of experience and incoming freshman talent. “I think we’re right there, knocking on the door of really making a special run,” junior guard Bryce Alford says.


Pac-12 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




When it comes to replacing first-round draft pick Kevon Looney, UCLA will need to do so in two primary ways.


It must replace Looney, the rebounder, whose 9.2 rebounds per game were second most in the Pac-12. The logical candidate is center Tony Parker, a 6'9", 260-pound senior who averaged 8.3 rebounds himself during the NCAA Tournament. Parker, once a top recruit out of Georgia, struggled early in his career, but he emerged as a quality big man a year ago, his first as a full-time starter.


Center Thomas Welsh averaged 15 minutes per game off the bench as a freshman and will help on the glass as well, likely seeing increased minutes after averaging 9.7 rebounds per 40 minutes. The 7-footer got additional experience in the summer playing for the U.S. U19 team at the FIBA World Championships.


As far as replacing Looney’s offensive production, part of that will fall to Jonah Bolden, a five-star prospect from Australia who was a part of UCLA’s decorated 2014 recruiting class. Bolden was ineligible to play last season, though he practiced with the team upon his arrival last January until he was sidelined due to knee surgery in May. The 6'10" Bolden is an inch taller than Looney, can score in a variety of ways and boasts a nice jump shot. If healthy, he’s the best bet to start at the 4, paired with Parker.


Forward György Golomán and junior college transfer Ikenna Okwarabizie add some depth to the frontline.


UCLA Bruins Facts & Figures

Record: 22-14, 11-7 Pac-12

Postseason: Sweet 16

Consecutive NCAAs: 3

Pac-12 Projection: 4

Postseason Projection: Second Round




The question of whether Bryce Alford should remain the Bruins’ starting point guard has been a divisive one through two seasons. He is a shooter first, and a streaky one. Alford shot 25 percent or worse in five Pac-12 games (four regular season, one tournament) as a sophomore, including an 0-of-10 performance at Utah. But he still finished second on the team in scoring, was its best 3-point threat and improved as a passer with better court awareness.


The arrival of freshman Aaron Holiday, the younger brother of Jrue Holiday, gives UCLA some options. Holiday is a skilled ball handler and distributor, and remains a logical candidate to start at point guard, thereby allowing Alford to slide over to the 2-guard spot, arguably his more natural position. Holiday could free up Isaac Hamilton — who split duties with Alford at point guard at the start of last season — to be more of a slasher, a role he found to his liking during the stretch run. The Bruins will need to replace the scoring of Norman Powell, whose 16.4 points per game led the team, and using Alford and Hamilton along the wings would give them more space to operate.


Incoming freshman Prince Ali, a “big, athletic guard who has tremendous versatility” according to the elder Alford, should provide additional scoring. The four-star prospect and McDonald’s All-American averaged 22.5 points per game as a high school senior. Ali is also a candidate to start, especially should Alford remain at point guard. Noah Allen, a 6'6" swingman, provides depth. He averaged just over 10 minutes per game as a sophomore last season.


Key Losses: F Kevon Looney, G Norman Powell

Top Players: G Aaron Holiday, G Bryce Alford, G Isaac Hamilton, F Jonah Bolden, F/C Tony Parker




The two freshman guards, both four-star prospects, figure to receive extended minutes right away. Aaron Holiday could end up as the starting point guard. Prince Ali, whose scoring and driving ability are reminiscent of Norman Powell, should be in the backcourt rotation as well and potentially start. Alex Olesinski is a versatile big man who can shoot, with a nice touch around the perimeter and the ability to guard multiple positions. Junior-college transfer Ikenna Okwarabizie adds depth and size.


Final Analysis


A deep roster gives UCLA hope that it might not only finish at the top of a wide-open Pac-12 but also make a deep tournament run in Year 3 under Steve Alford. The Bruins have not advanced past the Sweet 16 since 2008, when they made the last of three consecutive Final Four appearances. If Alford, who is 50–23 in his first two seasons, can successfully pair the veterans — three returning starters — with a top-25 recruiting class, UCLA might have a chance to meet those expectations.

UCLA Bruins 2015-16 Basketball Team Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 12:32
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/why-you-must-start-emmanuel-sanders-and-other-wr-and-te-startsit-advice-week-9

Some big-name and highly drafted fantasy wide receivers and tight ends came up with nice games in Week 8, while some others either floundered or continued to disappoint. How accurate was my advice along these lines?


Good Calls:


Start Alshon Jeffery (17.6 fantasy points) – Jeffery is back and instantly a top-5 WR once again.


Start Brandin Cooks (20.5 FP) – Everyone and their grandmother caught a touchdown pass from Drew Brees last week, thankfully Cooks caught two of them.


Sit Randall Cobb (3.7 FP) – Cobb really, really, really misses Jordy Nelson.


Sit Mike Evans (4.8 FP) – Trying to figure out the Jameis Winston-to-Evans connection is like trying to figure out girls or astrophysics.


Start Travis Kelce (10.9 FP) – Would you look at that? Kelce finally caught a touchdown pass, his first since Week 1.


Bad Calls:


Start Martellus Bennett (3.2 FP) – Is it just me or does Bennett seem disinterested on the football field?


Start Tyler Eifert (3.9 FP) – Eifert is all over the map when it comes to consistency, but he’s too good not to trust each week


Sit Jimmy Graham (7.5 FP) – In a game where Russell Wilson struggled all game, he was able to connect with Graham for 75 yards.


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


Teams on bye: Arizona, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Seattle


Wide Receivers




Mike Evans, TB (vs. NYG)

You never know what you are going to get from Evans on a week-to-week basis. He just hasn’t established a great rapport just yet with Jameis Winston. One week he’ll score 22.4 fantasy points like he did in Week 7, and then the next he’ll get you 4.8 fantasy points like he did last week against the Falcons. Things are looking good this week for the Winston-to-Evans combo, as the New York Giants come to town. Now the Giants are currently only giving up the 12th-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers, but last week they allowed Dree Brees to throw for more than 500 yards and seven TDs. Now don’t expect Winston to do that, but I’m sure the Bucs see something they can exploit and Evans will end up with 150 yards and maybe two scores.


Emmanuel Sanders, DEN (at IND)

Sanders watched last week as all Peyton Manning did was throw the ball over and over and over again to Demaryius Thomas. That led to Sanders scoring only 2.2 fantasy points. But before that clunker of a game, Sanders had back-to-back 100-yard games. This week the Broncos travel to Indianapolis so Manning can face his old team once again. This means that Thomas is going to see one-on-one coverage from one of the best cover corners in the game, Vontae Davis. That will allow Manning to exploit the Colts’ defense, which is allowing an average of 280 passing yards per game and the 10th-most fantasy points to WRs this season. Look for Sanders to once again go over 100 yards with a touchdown.


Amari Cooper, OAK (at PIT)

Cooper was a must-sit last week and hopefully you listened to my advice because he only scored 4.8 fantasy points on five catches for 46 yards. This week he’s back to being an absolute must-start as the Raiders face a weak Steelers secondary that has struggled against the pass. Last week A.J. Green burned the Steelers for 118 yards and a touchdown and with the way Derek Carr is playing right now, you should expect Cooper to post similar numbers to Green’s.




Stevie Johnson, SD (vs. CHI, Mon.)

Johnson could be a sneaky good play this week because he could be the de facto No. 1 wide receiver in San Diego with Keenan Allen out for the rest of the season because of a kidney injury. There’s no doubt that with Allen out, Antonio Gates will be Philip Rivers No. 1 target, but seeing that the Chargers are struggling to run the ball and Rivers is throwing it 40-plus times per game, there should be plenty of targets coming Johnson’s way. It also helps that the Chicago Bears’ defense, which has given up the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers, is coming to town for a Monday night clash. Look for Johnson to catch at least eight passes and go over 100 yards receiving in this one.




T.Y. Hilton, IND (vs. DEN)

As crazy as it sounds, some people are starting to wonder whether or not they should cut Hilton. While that might not be a great idea and a bit of an overreaction, who can blame them? Hilton has had only one good fantasy game this season and is coming off a Monday night showing against the Carolina Panthers where he scored just 1.5 fantasy points thanks to a single catch for 15 yards. That’s pathetic. Luckily in last week’s start/sit column I told you to sit Hilton and this week you should leave him on your bench too because the Denver Broncos are coming to town. The Broncos happen to have the best defense in football. They have allowed the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers on the year and just held Aaron Rodgers to 77 yards passing for the entire game.


Randall Cobb, GB (vs. CAR)

Another superstar wide receiver who was probably taken in the second round of many fantasy drafts that is having a terrible season. If you are a Cobb owner you might want to skip this next part. Cobb has scored 4.4, 2.3, 3.8 and 3.7 fantasy points in his last four games. That’s atrocious. The entire Green Bay offense has been stuck in the mud the last several weeks and even with Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback, things are not going to get any better for Cobb. This week Green Bay travels to Carolina to play a Panthers defense that is giving up the third-fewest fantasy points to WRs and Cobb will be matched up against elite cornerback Josh Norman. Cobb might not even score 3 fantasy points this week.


Allen Robinson, JAC (at NYJ)

Robinson has played his way into being a WR1 in fantasy football. Not bad for someone who was probably drafted in the mid-to-late rounds of your fantasy draft. Robinson is coming off his bye week but in his two previous games he’s scored 14.6 and 15.8 fantasy points respectively and he’s caught four touchdown passes in his last three games. But can he put up WR1-like numbers this week against Darrelle Revis when the Jaguars take on the Jets? Probably not. The Jets have allowed only 286 total yards to their opponents’ No. 1 WR all season. Oh, and these top-flight pass catchers have only scored one touchdown against this defense. Leave Robinson on the bench this week.




Brandin Cooks, NO (vs. TEN)

Cooks and Drew Brees look like they are finally getting on the same page. Cooks has 80-plus receiving yards in his last two games and he caught two of Drew Brees’ seven touchdown passes last week. But this week he faces a tough matchup against the Tennessee Titans. Yes, it’s true. The Titans’ defense is actually pretty good against the pass. As a unit they are only allowing the 17th-most fantasy points to wide receivers and No. 1s have only scored a single touchdown. It’s hard to bet against Cooks this week with the way Brees is playing, but don’t expect Cooks to find the end zone this week.


Tight Ends




Jordan Reed, WAS (at NE)
When Reed is on the field and 100 percent healthy, he’s an absolute must-start as long as Kirk Cousins is his quarterback. Just look at last week, which was Reed’s first game back after missing the previous two with a concussion. You might have thought that the Redskins would have eased Reed back in. Nope, Cousins and Reed hooked up 11 times for 72 yards and two touchdowns. Reed is one of the most talented tight ends in the NFL and even though this week’s matchup isn’t a good one on paper because the New England Patriots are allowing the sixth-fewest fantasy points to the position, Reed is basically matchup-proof.


Heath Miller, PIT (vs. OAK)

In the two games that Miller has played with Ben Roethlisberger this season, he has 18 catches for 189 yards, which is pretty darn good. Just last week against the Bengals, Miller and Big Ben hooked up for 10 catches and 105 yards. With both Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant on the outside, there is plenty of room of Miller to maneuver in the middle of the field and whenever Big Ben is in trouble, he always looks Miller’s way. You can expect more Roethlisberger-to-Miller magic this week because the Oakland Raiders are coming to town and are allowing a whopping 302.1 passing yards per game and have surrendered the most fantasy points to tight ends this season.


Benjamin Watson, NO (vs. TEN)

We all know that Watson is not Jimmy Graham but the Saints’ offense is at its best when it utilizes the tight end. Over the past few weeks Watson has moved from an afterthought to a major focal point in New Orleans’ attack. Just look at Week 6 when Watson scored 18.6 fantasy points or last week when he caught 9-of-10 targets for 147 yards and a touchdown. Those type of numbers can’t be expected every week, but with Drew Brees playing like the old Brees that we’ve all grown to love, you can bet that Watson is going to be a pretty reliable fantasy option week in and week out. This week the Saints play at home against the Tennessee Titans, who are giving up the 13th-most fantasy points to tight ends. Watson is an excellent choice this week if you stream tight ends.




Jacob Tamme, ATL (at SF)

Tamme is a must-start in every game that Leonard Hankerson doesn’t play. Why? Because when Hankerson is out, Tamme is clearly Matt Ryan’s No. 2 target after Julio Jones. In the first game that Hankerson missed, Tamme caught eight passes for 94 yards. Then last week with Hankerson on the sidelines, Tamme went off for 10 catches, 103 yards and a touchdown. Guess who’s not playing this week? That’s right, Hankerson. So you can expect Tamme to see another 10-plus targets and come close to 100 yards receiving with one touchdown.




Julius Thomas, JAC (at NYJ)

Thomas was limited to just 36 snaps two weeks ago against the Bills thanks to a groin injury. He should be good coming off of the bye, but be sure to check his status first and foremost if you are thinking of playing him this week. Then make sure to not play him. Why? Other than when Rob Gronkowski went off on them (that happens to pretty much every defense), the Jets’ D is currently allowing the ninth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends. In fact, tight ends are averaging less than seven fantasy points per game against the Jets this season and Thomas isn’t going to buck that trend.


Jason Witten, DAL (vs. PHI)

It doesn’t look like Matt Cassel likes to throw the ball to Witten. Just look at last week when Cassel only targeted Witten four times. Witten caught two of those passes for 16 yards. With Dez Bryant back and Darren McFadden playing really well, including as a receiver out of the backfield (Captain Checkdown!), don’t expect Witten to do much fantasy-wise until Tony Romo comes back. This week is actually a terrible matchup for Witten anyways as the Philadelphia Eagles are giving up the second-fewest fantasy points to tight ends.


Zach Ertz, PHI (at DAL)

With a whopping six teams on a bye this week, you might be looking over the waiver wire for a tight end and you may find Ertz just hanging around. If you do, keep scanning and see if Jacob Tamme or Benjamin Watson is available instead. Ertz has failed to score more than 6.3 fantasy points in any game this season. That includes the 1.7 he posted against the Cowboys in Week 2. Ertz also hasn’t scored a touchdown so far this season. Those are plenty of great reasons to leave Ertz on the waiver wire this week.




Vernon Davis, DEN (at IND)

Anyone who is looking to get ahead of the curve and get on the Davis-in-Denver-might-be-better-than-Julius-Thomas-was train might want to hold up a bit. First off, there is no guarantee that Davis plays this week. Secondly, while Davis is a significant upgrade over Owen Daniels and Virgil Green, we need to see what he has left in the tank. It’s not as if over the past two seasons Davis has fantasy relevant. Plus it’s going to take some time for him to learn the offense and gain the trust of Peyton Manning. Maybe by next week Davis might be worth starting, but this week he’s only worth stashing.


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

Why You Must Start Emmanuel Sanders and Other WR/TE Start/Sit Fantasy Advice for Week 9
Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 12:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/oregon-ducks-2015-16-basketball-team-preview-and-prediction

The Oregon basketball program has been identified by two things during the tenure of head coach Dana Altman — roster turnover and winning. The first trend has continued as the 2015-16 season approaches, but the Ducks are confident that the second one will as well.


Fueled by the scoring punch of Joseph Young, Oregon went 26–10 last season and set a program record by winning at least 20 games for the fifth straight year. With Young now putting up shots for the Indiana Pacers, the Ducks will look elsewhere for points, not to mention the ball-handling role he filled with increasing frequency in 2014-15.


There’s at least one trend the Ducks hope to end when next March rolls around. After reaching the Sweet Sixteen in 2012-13 — nobody on the current roster remains from that squad — Oregon hasn’t made it beyond the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32 in either of the last two years. “We still haven’t gotten past that first weekend,” senior Elgin Cook says. “We’re going to practice hard every day so we can be conditioned enough, and condition our minds, to play that long.”


Pac-12 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




With Young filling it up from outside, the Ducks were able to mask their lack of low-post scoring punch on most nights in 2014-15. They still don’t have a dominant scorer in the post, though sophomore Jordan Bell’s school-record 94 blocked shots as a freshman established him as an intimidating defensive presence.


What Oregon does boast is a trio of veteran wings who are threats both to go to the hole and pull up and shoot. Cook, Dwayne Benjamin and Dillon Brooks combined for an average of 32.9 points per game last season, and each has the ability to carry the scoring load at times. “We’re just going to go out there and play as a team,” Benjamin says. “One night it might be my night, next night might be Dillon’s night.”


Cook is the team’s top returning scorer after averaging 13.0 points per game as a junior. He may never be a scorer on the order of Young, but he’s worked hard over the last two years to clean up his jump shot and provide a complement for his ability to slash to the rim. “Just getting plenty of shots up — shooting off the dribble, catch-and-shoot,” Cook says. “Doing a lot of work.”


The Ducks did add some size in their recruiting class, with the Junior College Player of the Year — Chris Boucher — and four-star freshman Trevor Manuel. Like sophomore Roman Sorkin, they’re lanky big men who are as comfortable trying to score from outside as they are inside.


No. 21 Oregon Ducks Facts & Figures

Record: 26-10, 13-5 Pac-12

Postseason: Second Round

Consecutive NCAAs: 3

Pac-12 Projection: 3

Postseason Projection: Second Round




The loss of Young somewhat resembles having to replace two players since the natural shooting guard also handled the ball quite a bit during his senior season. Given the loss as well of starting 2-guard Jalil Abdul-Bassit, that’s a lot of minutes that Altman has to replace in the backcourt.


In keeping with his track record, Altman went out and nabbed a transfer who is expected to play a big role — in this case point guard Dylan Ennis, a fifth-year senior from Villanova. The Ducks also added one-time Arizona commit Tyler Dorsey, a top-25 recruit who can help replace Young’s scoring output. Sophomore Casey Benson and freshman Kendall Small provide depth.


To get all the newcomers on the same page, the Ducks went on a preseason trip to play five exhibition games in Spain in August.


“It’s all about the leadership of the fellows who have been here,” Benjamin says. “We‘re returning some important players from last year, so it’s just going to take us getting the new players involved.”


Key Losses: G Jalil Abdul-Bassit, G Joseph Young

Top Players: G Dylan Ennis, G Tyler Dorsey, F Elgin Cook, F Dillon Brooks, F Jordan Bell




As usual, Dana Altman combed the waiver wire and brought in transfers who are expected to have an immediate impact, including a couple who add size to the roster. Dylan Ennis is a projected starter at the point, and Chris Boucher provides badly needed size in the frontcourt. Tyler Dorsey should help fill the scoring void left by Joseph Young. Fellow freshmen Kendall Small and Trevor Manuel could round out the regular rotation.


Final Analysis


The Ducks may have been known for Young’s prolific scoring in 2014-15, but their defense — the bread-and-butter of a Dana Altman team — was as critical. Oregon went 17–0 when holding an opponent under 70 points, but 9–10 when the opponent hit for 70 or more.


The lack of size in the post forced Altman to employ more of a high-scoring, up-and-down pace than he preferred last season. He intends for the Ducks to be tougher on defense in 2015-16.


“That’s how we’re going to win most of our games,” Benjamin says. “Again, we won’t be the biggest team in the country. We’re going to win with our defense and our effort.”

Oregon Ducks 2015-16 Basketball Team Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 12:18
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/why-you-should-start-mark-ingram-and-other-rb-startsit-fantasy-advice-week-9

Week 8 was not a kind one injury wise to fantasy running backs. But how wise was start/sit advice you ask? Let’s take a look.


Good Calls:


Start Mark Ingram (11.9 fantasy points) – He’s even better in PPR and now he’s now the goal-line back for the Saints.


Sit Chris Ivory (4.1 FP) – The Raiders’ defensive line is pretty good and made sure Ivory knew it.


Bad Calls:


Sit Darren McFadden (11.3 FP) – The Cowboys’ offense is terrible without Tony Romo, so they will keep giving McFadden the ball all the time.


Sit Latavius Murray (11.9 FP) – Murray gashed the Jets’ formerly top-ranked rushing defense for big gains all game.


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


Teams on bye: Arizona, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Seattle




Doug Martin, TB (vs. NYG)

Martin’s streak of consecutive 100-yard rushing games ended at three last week, as he was only able to gain 71 yards on 23 carries against the Falcons. But on the year Martin is averaging 4.6 yards per carry, and believe it or not, he’s on pace for 1,400 yards on the ground. It looks like the Muscle Hamster, I mean Dougernaut, is back. This week the New York Giants come to town, the team that just allowed Drew Brees to throw for more than 500 yards and seven touchdowns. But Jameis Winston isn’t Brees and the Bucs won’t allow Winston to throw the ball more than 30 times a game. That means plenty of opportunities for Martin to start a new 100-yard game streak and this week he could score two touchdowns to boot.


Mark Ingram, NO (vs. TEN)

On paper this week’s matchup against the Tennessee Titans appears to be a tough one for Ingram. The Titans’ rushing defense isn’t half bad, as they are giving up the eighth-fewest fantasy points to running backs so far this season. However it’s the Titans’ pass defense that’s been letting them down and Drew Brees is at home coming off a monster game. So what does all this mean for Ingram? Well, first off, Khiry Robinson is out for the rest of the season, so Ingram is now going to get all the goal-line work and secondly the Saints might be leading by three scores at halftime, so the second half will be all about Ingram.


DeMarco Murray, PHI (at DAL)

Picking an Eagles running back is like picking which Bill Belichick running back to start, you never know who is going to have a good game until it’s over. The reason to go with Murray this week over Ryan Mathews is simple, the Eagles are 2-0 when Murray gets 20 or more carries. In those two games Murray has scored 18 and 18.6 fantasy points and a touchdown in each game. The Eagles are coming off their bye and the way that Sam Bradford has been playing, they would be smart to lean on Murray, who plays his first game in Dallas as a visitor. It also helps that the Cowboys are currently giving up the third-most fantasy points to running backs on the year, so Murray should be in for another 20-plus carries with well over 100 yards and at least one score.




Jeremy Hill, CIN (vs. CLE, Thurs.)

Hill ran hard downhill and just looked more like the 2014 version against the Steelers last week. More importantly, the Bengals showed a willingness to lean on him more than they had at any point this year. This was by the 16 carries Hill got while Giovani Bernard only had three. This week Hill gets a primetime Thursday matchup against a Cleveland Browns defense that is giving up a league-worst 147 rushing yards per game along with the most fantasy points to running backs on the year. This is the game that Hill breaks out of his prolonged slump with 150 yards and two touchdowns.




Latavius Murray, OAK (at PIT)

On the year Murray has only two 100-yard games and in his other five he’s looked so-so. He also was benched in back-to-back games earlier in the year before the Raiders’ Week 6 bye. But Murray is coming off a 113-yard game against the New York Jets’ vaunted defense. So would the real Murray please stand up? He won’t stand up this week, as the Raiders travel east to play the Steelers and their surprising defense that is currently giving up the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. This game has the makings of an all-out shootout where Murray might not have much involvement anyways.


T.J. Yeldon, JAC (at NYJ)

Most people probably forgot, but Yeldon had the best game of his career back in Week 7, when he ran for 115 yards and added a touchdown for a total of 18.4 fantasy points. Now coming off the bye Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley is saying that Yeldon could start seeing goal-line work starting this week, which would add even more value since the rookie really doesn’t have any competition for touches to begin with. The problem with Yeldon is his matchup this week. The Jaguars are traveling to the Big Apple to face the New York Jets and their vaunted run defense. Granted Latavius Murray went for 113 yards rushing last week, but the Jets are still allowing the fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. That trend will continue this week against Yeldon.


Melvin Gordon, SD (vs. CHI, Mon.)

It appears that Gordon is slowly playing his way out of the doghouse in San Diego, as he led the Chargers in backfield touches last week. Still, even though he’s playing against the Chicago Bears, it’s really hard to trust Gordon on a week-to-week basis. Even with Branden Oliver now on injured reserve, Gordon will still split carries in some fashion with Danny Woodhead. Plus, believe it or not the Bears are actually half decent against the run, it’s the pass where they struggle and Philip Rivers is on fire right now so look for the Chargers to air it out in this game, leaving Gordon as a risk-reward flex option at best.




DeAngelo Williams, PIT (vs. OAK)
You probably just blew your entire FAAB budget to get Williams so come hell or high water, you are going to start him, which is fair. Williams was the No. 1 fantasy running back for the first two weeks of the season with Le’Veon Bell suspended. But keep in mind that this week Williams is going up against a stout Raiders run defense that just last week held Chris Ivory to 17 yards on 15 carries. To make things worse, the game script looks more like a Big Ben to Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Heath Miller game than a hand the ball off to the 32-year-old running back. There’s no doubt that Williams will have some good games over the remainder of the season, just not this week.


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

Why You Should Start Mark Ingram and Other RB Start/Sit Fantasy Advice For Week 9
Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 12:15
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/cal-bears-2015-16-basketball-team-preview-and-prediction

A year after sitting home for college basketball’s postseason, the Golden Bears have other ideas about this season.


“I think we could be really good,” senior point guard Tyrone Wallace says. “I like the guys we have coming in, the recruiting class. We still have important parts here. I think we can make a real run at a Pac-12 championship.”


The arrival of five-star frontcourt recruits Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb to complement three returning double-digit scorers in the backcourt could transform Cal from a team that finished in a three-way tie for eighth in the Pac-12 into a legitimate contender.


Second-year coach Cuonzo Martin’s team has an infusion of offensive firepower and the depth and athleticism to play the pressure-style defense he wants. “I think we’ll fight for the top spot,” Martin says. “It’s exciting times.”


Pac-12 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




The difference in the Bears is up front, where Brown, a small forward, was rated as the nation’s No. 4 prospect by 247Sports and Rabb, a power forward, secured the No. 7 spot.


Brown’s unexpected spring signing elevates the Bears. “You’re talking about a guy that’s 6'7", almost 6'8", who is 220 pounds, who can play four different positions,” Martin says. “He can handle the ball. He can shoot the ball. He gets to the rim. He plays inside. He plays outside. He’s one of those guys who’s always in attack mode. He brings the game to you.”


The 6'10" Rabb, whose signing helped attract Brown to Berkeley, should make a smooth transition, Martin says. “He has a lot of skills. He won’t be pressing, because he has experienced guards around him.”


Martin likes a big lineup, so it’s likely that either Kingsley Okoroh or Kameron Rooks will be on the floor whenever possible.


Okoroh, a 7'1" native of England, played 30 games as a freshman last season and showed flashes of potential, especially on defense, where he blocked 28 shots. Rooks, the 7-foot son of one-time Arizona star Sean Rooks, is healthy after missing all of last season to rehab a 2014 ACL injury. He has shed weight and should be able to provide some interior scoring.


No. 13 Cal Bears Facts & Figures

Record: 18-15, 7-11 Pac-12

Postseason: None

Last NCAA Tournament: 2013

Pac-12 Projection: 2

Postseason Projection: Sweet 16




Wallace led the Bears in all major statistical categories while earning first-team all-conference honors. He had 11 games of 20-plus  points and five double-digit rebounding efforts, but what the Bears need from him could change with the arrival of Rabb and Brown as legitimate scoring options. “When the game is on the line down the stretch, making free throws, making plays, making decisions — that’s the biggest thing,” Martin says of what he expects from Wallace. “Run his team and direct traffic.”


Jordan Mathews, a 44.3-percent 3-point shooter last season, should be even more dangerous on the perimeter with Cal’s improved interior presence. Jabari Bird, a former McDonald’s All-American, was slowed his first two seasons by midseason injuries from which he struggled to regain his confidence and rhythm. But he has high-level talent.


Sam Singer is a capable backup point guard who had four double-digit scoring games in Pac-12 play. Georgetown transfer Stephen Domingo, back in his native Bay Area, adds length and athleticism on the perimeter.


Junior Roger Moute a Bidias and sophomore Brandon Chauca will have to show substantial improvement to find their way into the rotation.


Key Losses:  F Christian Behrens, F David Kravish

Top Players: G Tyrone Wallace, G Jordan Matthews, G Jabari Bird, F Jaylen Brown, F Ivan Rabb




Cal’s most heralded recruiting class ever features consensus top-10 prospects Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb. Mined from nearby Oakland, Rabb can play either frontcourt position. Brown gives Cal an explosive and versatile player on the wing who also is effective in the paint. Roman Davis was a late signee after four-star shooting guard Tyson Jolly failed to earn admission.


Final Analysis


Winning a Pac-12 title in 2016 will be tougher than it was for the Bears six years ago, when they won their first title in a half-century. The conference wasn’t as good then.


Martin, whose team toured Australia in August, has the flexibility to play big or small. His goal is to coax the Bears into playing the kind of defense they’ll need to reach the top of the Pac-12.


The Bears have high-end talent, even if two of the headliners are freshmen. Wallace is a versatile player who could become Cal’s third NBA first-round draft choice next spring, joining potential lottery picks Brown and Rabb. Bird could be ready to blossom. Mathews has put together 30-point games in each of his first two seasons.


Martin believes he has unselfish players, but they must mesh offensively. “The biggest key is them understanding every night it could be somebody different,” Martin says. “That’s a good problem to have.”

Cal Bears 2015-16 Basketball Team Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 12:08
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/why-you-should-sit-andrew-luck-and-other-qbdst-startsit-fantasy-advice-week-9

Welcome to Week 9’s start/sit fantasy advice for quarterbacks and defense/special teams (DSTs). But first I know you’re really interested to see how I did last week, so let’s take a look shall we.


Good Calls:


Start Philip Rivers (24.04 fantasy points) – Since the Chargers can’t run the ball Rivers had another big game, airing it out in a losing cause


Start Matt Ryan (21.08 FP) – In real life he doesn’t look really good right now, but thanks to Julio Jones he can still put up good fantasy numbers.


Sit Peyton Manning (12.6 FP) – Manning looked as good as he has all season throwing for 340 yards, but he still didn’t throw for a touchdown and was picked off once


Plus, I warned you about starting Aaron Rodgers. That might be the best call of the week. Rodgers scored just 6.18 fantasy points thanks to only 77 passing yards and zero touchdowns.


Bad Calls:


Start Teddy Bridgewater (12.58 FP) – In a great matchup against the Bears he couldn’t get anything going.


Sit Derek Carr (29.12 FP) – Is there a better young quarterback in the NFL?


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


Teams on bye: Arizona, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Seattle






Derek Carr, OAK (at PIT)

The way Carr has been playing this season and especially the past few weeks, he has easily established himself as a mid-level QB1 and has seen his name jump up the list of best young quarterbacks in the NFL. Carr has scored 20 or more fantasy points in four of seven games and is heading into Pittsburgh red hot, throwing for seven touchdowns over his last two outings. Pittsburgh’s pass defense is middle of the pack, as the Steelers are currently giving up the 14th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks on the season. But with Le’Veon Bell out, you know that the Steelers are going to let Ben Roethlisberger air it out, which will make this game a shootout – perfect for Carr owners.


Eli Manning, NYG (at TB)

This might seem like a no-brainer since Manning is coming of an epic game in New Orleans where he threw for 350 yards and six touchdowns in a losing effort. But you never really know what you are going to get from Manning. Last week he scored an incredible 38 fantasy points, but the week before it was a pathetic 6.4. So what gives? A healthy Odell Beckham Jr. makes a world of difference for Manning. This week Manning and the G-Men travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers and their defense that is currently allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. It’s probably crazy to expect Manning to throw another six touchdowns this week, but another 300-yard game and three scores is very likely.


Philip Rivers, SD (vs. CHI, Mon.)

Has there been a better fantasy quarterback this season than Rivers? He’s scored 20 or more fantasy points in five straight games and thrown 13 touchdown passes to only three interceptions over that span as well. Even though Rivers lost his favorite wide receiver in Keenan Allen for the season, Rivers is still as must-start as must-starts go. This week’s matchup is really juicy for Rivers. The Chicago Bears come to town giving up the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and throw in the fact that the Chargers are terrible on defense, we could have another old school shootout on Monday night. Look for Rivers to once again throw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns.




Jay Cutler, CHI (at SD, Mon.)

Believe it or not Cutler is playing some pretty good football lately. On the season he’s only thrown four interceptions (pretty darn good for him) and eight touchdowns. In his last four games he’s averaging close to 20 fantasy points per game and now he has his favorite target Alshon Jeffery back and healthy. It might hurt Cutler not to have his safety valve in Matt Forte out there, but this week’s game in San Diego has the makings of a good old-fashioned shootout between Cutler and Philip Rivers, so don’t be surprised if Cutler goes off for 300 passing yards and three touchdowns.




Andrew Luck, IND (vs. DEN)
Luck has looked like a shell of his old self so far this season. Whether it’s due to injury, the Colts’ terrible offensive line or poor coaching (or all of the above), Luck isn’t even worth starting most weeks. That seems crazy when entering the season many thought that Luck would be the highest-scoring fantasy player in the league. Luck has thrown at least two interceptions in every game but one he’s played in this season and he’s got a total of 12 on the season. That’s terrible. All that you really need to know is that he’s playing the Denver Broncos this week, who just held Aaron Rodgers to 77 passing yards. It might be hard, but leave Luck on your bench this week.


Teddy Bridgewater, MIN (vs. STL)

Bridgewater was a trendy sleeper pick coming into the 2015 season and he really hasn’t disappointed so far, but he’s far from being a fantasy QB1. But with six teams on bye this week, you might be looking for a quarterback to plug in. If you are, skip over Bridgewater. He has an absolute terrible matchup this week as the St. Louis Rams come to town. The Rams are giving up the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and if the Vikings are going to win this game, it’s going to be on the legs of Adrian Peterson, not the arm of Bridgewater.


Ryan Tannehill, MIA (at BUF)

You never know what you are going to get from Tannehill from a fantasy perspective or in real football. It's his real lack of consistency that makes him hard to trust on a week-to-week basis, so when considering whether or not to play Tannehill, you have to look at his matchup for that week. This week Tannehill and the Dolphins travel up the east coast to visit the Buffalo Bills. Tannehill has struggled at Ralph Wilson Stadium in his career. In fact, he has just 464 passing yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions in three games in Buffalo. That history is enough to leave Tannehill on your bench this week.




Aaron Rodgers, GB (at CAR)

Last week, I almost and probably should have told you to sit Rodgers instead of warning you against starting him, but no one in their right mind is going to sit the reigning MVP. Well it just so happens you should probably do the same this week against the Carolina Panthers. Rodgers and the entire Packers offense folded like a cheap napkin last week against the Denver Broncos and things don’t get any easier this week on the road. The Panthers and their vaunted defense thus far have given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. Rodgers just doesn’t have the weapons to put up any kind of fantasy numbers this week.


Defense/Special Teams (DSTs)




New York Jets (vs. JAC)

The Jets’ defense hasn’t looked like an elite defense over the past few weeks. That shouldn’t be possible when you consider who the head coach is (Todd Bowles) and with all the talent the Jets have on defense. But even with all that somehow they only scored 2 fantasy points in Week 7 (granted that was against New England) and they scored minus-one (-1) fantasy points last week in Oakland. This week, however, the Jets’ defense gets just what the doctor ordered to put them back on the fantasy map as the Jacksonville Jaguars come to town. The Jags are giving up the fourth-most fantasy points to DSTs this season and you can bet that the Jets are going to buzz Blake Bortles all game, pile up some sacks and snag a couple of interceptions.


Cincinnati Bengals (vs. CLE, Thurs.)

This is the Thursday night game so hopefully you are proactive and start the Bengals this week against the Browns. The Bengals’ defense is coming off a great game where they held the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers offense to 10 total points and they scored 13 fantasy points themselves. This week is a short one, but Cincinnati gets to match up against Johnny Manziel. The Bengals should get out to a decent lead, forcing the Browns to use Manziel to stay in the game. That’s a recipe for disaster for the Browns, but it’s awesome if you’re smart enough to start the Bengals’ DST this week.




Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. OAK)

The Steelers have been anything but a “steel curtain” in recent weeks, at least from a fantasy perspective. They’ve only scored a total of 10 fantasy points in their last two games. This week the red-hot Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders come to town, which means that you’re better off not starting the Steelers’ D this week. Defenses playing against the Raiders this season are only averaging 4.86 fantasy points per game, so find a DST with a better matchup this week.


Carolina Panthers (vs. GB)

I know it’s going to be hard to bench the Panthers’ defense because they are a top-10 fantasy unit, but keep in mind this week’s game is against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. You know that Rodgers is not pleased with his performance last week against the Denver Broncos where he threw for only 77 total yards. I’d bet that Rodgers has over 77 yards passing by the end of the first quarter this week against the Panthers. A pissed off Rodgers is not something you want to have to deal with. Look for a better fantasy DST option this week.


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

Why You Should Sit Andrew Luck and Other QB/DST Start/Sit Fantasy Advice for Week 9
Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: Alabama Crimson Tide, College Football, SEC
Path: /college-football/alabama-defense-getting-boost-season-improved-edge-rush

Tuscaloosa is no stranger to big, bad defenses. Especially during the Nick Saban era.

The one Saban has this season, though, is a little different. It features a helpful wrinkle a lot of those past defenses didn't have — some pass-rushing oomph off the edges. And it's an edge presence that comes courtesy of not just one or two players but several. This added weapon has proven useful for the Crimson Tide defense in 2015, and in its last outing against Tennessee, it just may have saved Alabama's season.


With just a couple of minutes remaining and one-loss Alabama clinging to a 19-14 lead, Tennessee had the ball with the opportunity to win it with a final TD drive. But Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson powered past Tennessee right tackle Chance Hall, unloaded on quarterback Joshua Dobbs, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Alabama's A'Shawn Robinson. 


Game over.


"I knew it was gonna be pass," Anderson said of the play afterwards. "The tackle's stance kind of gave it away. He was looking at me, and his eyes got a little big. The first thing I was thinking was just, 'Take off.'"


In addition to that win-preserving sack, Anderson also recorded a quarterback hurry against the Vols. And Anderson wasn't the only non-lineman harassing Dobbs on that Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Linebacker Reuben Foster sacked Dobbs once, and while fellow linebackers Rashaan Evans and Denzel Devall didn't take Dobbs to the ground, they did make their presence known. Evans had two quarterback hurries and Devall one.


And all this came against one of the more mobile, athletic quarterbacks in the SEC.


Fact is, what Alabama was able to do off the edges against Tennessee is what it's been doing all season. Regardless of who the quarterback is. And it hasn't been just one guy for Alabama either. Eight different linebackers have affected the quarterback for Alabama in 2015. Through eight games now, Tim Williams has 3.5 sacks and one quarterback hurry, Reggie Ragland two sacks and three hurries, Anderson two sacks and four hurries, Evans two sacks and two hurries, Devall one sack and five hurries, Foster one sack, Shaun Dion Hamilton one hurry and Dillon Lee one hurry.


Two freshmen defensive backs have also gotten in on the action in the opposing team's offensive backfield. Minkah Fitzpatrick, who plays the Star position in the Tide secondary, has two sacks on the season, while strong safety Ronnie Harrison has one sack and one hurry.


"We got a nice combination of guys there," Alabama coach Nick Saban said of his team's edge rushers. "We've got some guys that have experience. We have some guys that have ability that were young players that we can type into a role that they've been effective in — whether it's Tim Williams, Rashaan Evans, Ryan Anderson. It's helpful that we're able to play more guys and stay fresh and have fresh guys in there on third down. We've even had the luxury at times of taking Reggie out on third down if he's tired in the game."


Right now, eight of Alabama's top twelve sack leaders are either linebackers or defensive backs, and 54 percent of Alabama's sacks this season have come from non-defensive linemen. And, with the way youngsters like Evans, Fitzpatrick and Harrison are coming on, no one would be surprised if that percentage rises even higher.

Yeah, this 2015 Alabama defense can inflict some damage off the edges. And opposing offenses can key on stopping just one guy.


"We've had some good defensive teams around here before, and we haven't been able to do that," Saban said. "And I think that's important. And it's been very helpful this year in terms of the kind of pass rush that we get and how we've been able to affect the quarterback and have not had to pressure nearly as much as what we've done in the past."


Next up for this Alabama defense is another athletic, mobile quarterback in LSU's Brandon Harris. The 6-foot-3, 206-pound sophomore has been sacked eight times this season and has yet to throw an interception. Through seven games, he's thrown for 1,098 yards and nine touchdowns and has also rushed for 136 yards and three touchdowns.


Of course, he hasn't faced a defense quite like the one Alabama has this season either.


— Written by Erik Stinnett, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Stinnett is an experienced college football beat writer who has been covering Alabama since 2009.

Alabama Defense Getting Boost This Season From Improved Edge Rush
Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/three-keys-arkansas-razorbacks-upsetting-no-19-ole-miss

Preseason expectations were high for both Arkansas and Ole Miss entering the 2015 season. Every preseason poll had the SEC West foes in the Top 25 but the season has played out differently for both squads. Ole Miss is 7-2 on the season with a feather-in-the-cap 43-37 win over then-No. 2 Alabama in Week 3. The Razorbacks stumbled out of the gate, going 1-3 with losses to Toledo, Texas Tech and Texas A&M but have rebounded to go 3-1 over their last four.


Despite the differences in the win-loss column and national rankings, if Arkansas (2-2 SEC) can pull off the road upset against No. 19 Ole Miss (4-1) on Saturday, the two squads will draw even in conference play in the loss column.


For Arkansas to replicate its 2014 win over the Rebels, a similar approach is needed, along with a little bit of luck.


3 Keys to an Arkansas Victory at Ole Miss


1. Pressure Chad Kelly Into Mistakes

One of the big keys to Arkansas winning 30-0 in 2014 was coming up with six turnovers. Two of the six turnovers were committed by senior starting quarterback Bo Wallace. Chad Kelly, the Rebels' starter this season, leads the SEC in passing with 2,856 yards and 20 touchdowns, but he also is tops in the conference in interceptions with 12.


The Rebels have the No. 11-ranked passing offense in the nation, gaining an average of 347 yards a game. This could be trouble for the Hogs, as the Razorbacks’ are among the worst in nation against the pass at 273 yards per game allowed. Arkansas fans should not fret yet, Memphis’ pass defense is even worse, ranked No. 123 (316 ypg), but still found a way to win 37-24 even with Kelly throwing for 372 yards. The Tigers did pick off Kelly twice.


2. Turn Brandon Allen Loose

The 2015 Ole Miss defense is a far cry from the 2014 squad that led the nation in points allowed and that finished as the No 13 unit in FBS. This season the Rebels have had their issues against the pass, allowing 227 yards per game through the air. Their run defense might be overrated as well. The Rebels are limiting teams to just 122 yards per game on the ground, but that number might be deceiving. The Rebels have only played one true downhill rushing attack this season, and that was Alabama. The Crimson Tide gashed the Rebels defense for 503 total yards with 215 coming on the ground.


The Hogs have tinkered with their offensive line, moving guys around, and lost preseason All-SEC running back Jonathan Williams to a season-ending injury in fall camp, so this Arkansas squad is not the same power-running that it was in 2014, but it's still been productive. The Razorbacks are averaging 196 rushing yards per game led by junior running back Alex Collins.


If Arkansas can open up some running lanes, forcing Ole Miss to put eight defenders in the box, Allen should be able to exploit the Rebels through the air with tight end Hunter Henry and wide receivers Dominique Reed and Drew Morgan.


3. Arkansas Catches Ole Miss Looking Ahead to LSU

When Arkansas beat Ole Miss 30-0 in 2014, all the momentum on paper was swinging the Rebels’ way. Ole Miss wrapped up an easy, 48-0 win over Presbyterian and then had a bye week before facing the Hogs. Maybe Hugh Freeze’s team was looking ahead to the Egg Bowl against No. 4 Mississippi State and slept on Arkansas?


Something similar could be at play again in 2015 with No. 4 LSU coming to Oxford in Week 11. If LSU beats Alabama on Saturday, Ole Miss could win a share of the SEC West and jump into the College Football Playoff picture with a home defeat of the Tigers.


No matter how the game plays out, it should be an up-and-down affair with Ole Miss trying to exploit the Hogs’ secondary and the Razorbacks trying to take the air out of the ball by pounding the Rebels’ defensive front seven for four quarters. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET with CBS providing the coverage.


— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, Follow him on Twitter @HogManInLA.

Three Keys to the Arkansas Razorbacks Upsetting No. 19 Ole Miss
Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/arizona-wildcats-2015-16-basketball-team-preview-and-prediction

Arizona doesn’t expect to regress much, if any, from the Pac-12 championship team that went 34–4 and reached the Elite Eight for the third time in five years. Sean Miller’s roster management skills have been seriously tested with the loss of four starters, but he has seemed to flourish, adding three transfers and a four-man freshman class ranked among the nation’s best. Arizona’s most significant move was keeping 7-foot center Kaleb Tarczewski, a three-year starter around whom the Wildcats will build for a third consecutive league championship.


“You don’t ever want to use the word ‘rebuilding’ at Arizona, and that’s not the way we’re thinking,” says Miller. “I like what we’ve got, but the process of identifying a regular rotation will take a lot of work.”


Arizona’s identity is likely to change. It has been a defensive force for two seasons, but the loss of shutdown defensive ace Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and intense point guard T.J. McConnell suggests the Wildcats will have to put more emphasis on perimeter shooting and uptempo offense.


Pac-12 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




Tarczewski has started 107 games at center and is an imposing defensive presence. He also has a nice, if under-utilized, shooting touch. His numbers are likely to improve from 9.3 points and 5.2 rebounds, as he becomes more of a featured offensive presence. Boston College transfer Ryan Anderson, who averaged 14.3 points as a junior two year ago, is the presumptive starter at power forward. He’s more of a mix-it-up inside player and rebounder. Anderson will be spelled by 7-foot sophomore Dusan Ristic, who is expected to swing between center and power forward. Ristic might be Arizona’s top pure shooter, with 3-point ability. He averaged just 8.6 minutes last year and was not used in key postseason games. His development will be significant.


Mark Tollefsen, a graduate transfer who averaged 14.0 points at San Francisco last season, is projected as a stretch-4 shooter who can run the court and provide reliable scoring. He is versatile enough to play both forward spots, inside and out. Freshman center Chance Comanche is a redshirt possibility.


No. 8 Arizona Wildcats Facts & Figures

Record: 34-4, 16-2 Pac-12

Postseason: Elite Eight

Consecutive NCAAs: 3

Pac-12 Projection: 1

Postseason Projection: Elite Eight




Arizona is loaded — possibly overloaded — with seven players to deploy at point guard, shooting guard and small forward.


Most important is the development of sophomore point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, who will enter preseason practice as the starter. His confidence, shooting and playmaking are not in question, but his size could be a problem. Arizona lists him at 5'10", 160 pounds, but he’s probably closer to 5'8".


The backup point guard could be senior Gabe York, a combo guard who was effective as a shooter last season, averaging 9.2 points while hitting 40.0 percent from 3. He is expected to start at shooting guard, although competition is intense. Freshman Allonzo Trier, one of the nation’s most coveted recruits, is big (6'4") and physical, a combo guard whose style is to attack the rim. Junior Elliott Pitts, who has played extensively as a rotation shooting guard for two seasons, is a valuable piece.


Miller believes that junior Kadeem Allen, the 2014 National Junior College Player of the Year, has star power. Allen, who sat out last season as a redshirt, is likely to see time at three positions — point guard, shooting guard and wing forward — and could be the club’s top scorer.


Freshman combo guard Justin Simon projects as more of a defensive-oriented player than a scorer. Freshman Ray Smith, who missed most of his senior season in high school with a knee injury, is a wild card. Some recruiting analysts insist he could be Arizona’s top newcomer, a wing with shooting range to 20 feet.


Key Losses: F Brandon Ashley, F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, F Stanley Johnson, G T.J. McConnell

Top Players: G Parker Jackson-Cartwright, G Allonzo Trier, G Gabe York, F Ryan Anderson, C Kaleb Tarczewski




Combo guard Allonzo Trier has played for Sean Miller the last two summers (USA U18 in ’14 and U19 in ’15). Miller was able to land forward Mark Tollefsen, a transfer from San Francisco, in May for a final year of eligibility. He is the long-shooting presence Arizona lacked a year ago. Versatile wing guard Kadeem Allen, a redshirt, was periodically called Arizona’s “best player in practice” by UA coaches.


Final Analysis


With so many new faces, Arizona is difficult to project. But there is a wealth of talent, depth and maneuverability. With York, Tollefsen and Trier, Arizona looks to be a better shooting team than the 33–5 and 34–4 Pac-12 champions of the last two seasons. The progress of Jackson-Cartwright at the point should be the most telling variable. By January, this Arizona team could be as capable as any in Miller’s six Arizona seasons.

Arizona Wildcats 2015-16 Basketball Team Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 10:54
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/pac-12-basketball-2015-16-preview-predictions-and-all-conference-team

The Pac-12’s plan for growth took another step forward last season. Utah ran neck and neck with Arizona for most of the season, giving the league two teams with potential to advance deep into the NCAA Tournament.


Oregon continued to be one of the best offensive teams in the country, and UCLA — perhaps due to a fortunate draw — reached the Sweet 16.


As Utah and Oregon have risen to prominence in recent years, expect two more Pac-12 teams to become must-watch squads. Cal scored two recruiting victories to make the Bears a conference contender. And Oregon State expects to move from being a tough out to a realistic NCAA contender behind Gary Payton II.


All Pac-12 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 Pac-12 Predictions
1.No one rebuilds any better out West than Sean Miller. He has an enviable mix of size, transfers and recruits. Postseason: NCAA Elite EightTeam Preview

Two five-star recruits paired with a trio of proven veterans could make this the year of the Golden Bears. Postseason: NCAA Sweet 16

Team Preview

The Ducks weren’t supposed to be any good last year; people won’t make that mistake again. Postseason: NCAA Second Round

Team Preview
4.Steve Alford has brought stability to Westwood, and the Bruins have the talent to contend. Postseason: NCAA Second RoundTeam Preview

Four returning starters, among them 7-footer Jakob Poeltl, will keep the Utes in the upper division. Postseason: NCAA First Round

Team Preview

The second coming of Gary Payton in Corvallis has rekindled great interest in Beavers basketball. Postseason: NCAA First Round

Team Preview
7.New coach Bobby Hurley will have the Sun Devils running and attacking; winning big, however, could be a few years away. Postseason: NIT 

If big man Jake Scott can stay healthy, the Buffaloes easily could be three or four slots better. Postseason: NIT


The Huskies are dealing with the great unknown with so many new faces, but possibilities persist. Postseason: NIT


The Cardinal lost their top three scorers. There is still some talent on the Farm, but a drop-off is inevitable.

11.The talent level is improving at USC, but the Trojans are a year away from making a big move. 

Ever been to Pullman? Ernie Kent is trying his best to convince others to join him.


Pac-12 Superlatives


Player of the Year: Gary Payton II, Oregon State

Best Defensive Player: Gary Payton II, State

Most Underrated Player: Jordan Loveridge, Utah

Newcomer of the Year: Jaylen Brown, Cal

Top Coach: Sean Miller, Arizona (full list)

Coach on the Hot Seat: Lorenzo Romar, Washington (full list)

Teams in the national top 25No. 8 Arizona, No. 13 Cal, No. 21 Oregon


All-Pac-12 First Team

G Gary Payton II, Oregon State

G Jaylen Brown, Cal

G Tyrone Wallace, Cal

F Ryan Anderson, Arizona

F Josh Scott, Colorado


All-Pac-12 Second Team

G Bryce Alford, UCLA

G Allonzo Trier, Arizona

C Jakob Poeltl, Utah

C Ivan Rabb, Cal

C Kaleb Tarczewski, Arizona


All-Pac-12 Third Team

G Andrew Andrews, Washington

G Jabari Bird, Cal

F Elgin Cook, Oregon

F Josh Hawkins, Washington State

F Tony Parker, UCLA


Recruiting Roundup


1. Arizona: This top-five national class is led by athletic scoring wings Allonzo Trier and Ray Smith.


2. Washington: The Huskies reload with an eight-man recruiting class led by four-star guard Dejounte Murray and four-star big man Marquese Chriss.


3. California: The duo of top-10 prospects Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb is enough to give Cuonzo Martin a top-20 national class.


4. UCLA: Bruins bring in a couple of four-star guards in Aaron Holiday (brother of Jrue) and Prince Ali.


5. Oregon: Oregon’s top-25 class includes a five-star combo guard in Tyler Dorsey.


6. Oregon State The Beavers’ class includes coaches’ sons Stephen Thompson Jr. and Tres Tinkle.


7. USC:  The Trojans have only a two-man class, but Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu are four-star power forwards with upside.


8. Stanford: Johnny Dawkins has a trio of borderline top-100 prospects to bolster the forward positions.


9. Arizona State: A couple of four-star junior college prospects and the late addition of athletic big man Andre Adams comprise Bobby Hurley’s first class.


10. Washington State: Ernie Kent secured a five-man class led by 7-footer Conor Clifford.


11. Colorado Tad Boyle dipped into the junior college ranks and the overseas market for his 2015 class.


12. Utah: The Utes have high hopes for local standout Makol Mawien.

Pac-12 Basketball 2015-16 Preview, Predictions and All-Conference Team
Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 10:32
Path: /college-football/pushing-big-red-button-options-nebraska-football-fan

Let’s roll out a little hypothetical for you, Nebraska football fan. You’re at a beautiful oak desk. You sit in the highest of towers in Lincoln, Neb., when it comes to calling the Husker athletic shots.


There are a lot of unhappy people with the Big Red football team sitting at 3-6. Perhaps you’re one of them. Regardless, you have a major decision to make.


In front of you is a big red button. If you press it, the angry locals get their wish. First-year head coach Mike Riley is fired and athletic director Shawn Eichorst follows. If you don’t, everything stays as is.


If you’re tempted to immediately slam that button, I’m going to ask that you wait. If you’re going to press it anyway, you can wait a couple of minutes while I explain the consequences, right? You very well may not care...then again, you might.


Let’s say that you jump to the conclusion that the program needs to be cleansed. The Riley hire was a mistake and he’s attached at the hip to the guy who hired him, so naturally Eichorst must go as well. Button pressed.


What you’ve just done is told the entire coaching community that if you come to Nebraska, you’d better win immediately despite what’s left for you or you may be a dead man walking before season one ends. Do you know how many legitimate head coaches are going to want to be a part of that?




Think an offensive or defensive coordinator wants that kind of pressure? Maybe one or two would chance it, but not from a Power 5 conference.


Let’s look at the financial situation. As long as Bo Pelini’s in Youngstown, Ohio, he’s making $128,009 monthly through February 2019 by simply not coaching the Huskers. Nebraska will now also be on the hook for $170,000 payments every month (less taxes, of course) to Riley until 2020. That’s a fat stack of cash to have tied up in paying two guys to not be a part of your football program.


It doesn’t stop there. You’ve also shown recruits that they may not play for the coaches that recruit them if things go south immediately. That’s not going to go over well with prospects and their families. It will certainly help other programs negatively recruit against Nebraska, though.


Set aside that coaching hire. You’ve shown all prospective athletic directors that if their first choice doesn’t go well, guess what? They’re out, too. It’s going to be hard to sell the idea that there’s a margin for error at all.


I’m sure you can figure out all of the other people you’ll be affecting by this decision as well. The families that up and moved for maybe 365 days, bought new homes, changed their lives for what they figured would be at least two or three years.


Then there’s option two. Understand that there will always be yelling. Maybe not as loud as it is now, but there will always be yelling. When people compare Florida’s new head coach Jim McElwain to Riley, you can keep in mind that the former doesn’t have a walk-on as a part of his two-deep (all high-quality players) while Riley sports 10 on his.


Keyshawn Johnson’s bringing kids — very talented kids — to meet Riley on a regular basis. NFL wide receivers are coming to Lincoln to work with Keith Williams, the guy who coaches Riley’s wideouts. Nebraska currently has one of the best offensive line recruiting hauls in the nation and a quarterback in Patrick O’Brien who’s a stud and a half.


There are the folks that already sacrifice so much of their lives for the betterment of this football program.  There’s the big picture and it’s unlikely that three wins will be part of it again.


Athletes that know the coaches, that buy into the system, love the fans and can excel have to show up and be coached first. That takes time and I don’t think enough people appreciate the idea or want to entertain it because it takes time. Recruits back Riley as do coaches that were around for the Wonder Years of 60-3. Clearly they did something right and see that same something in Riley.


So, I ask you: Are you going to hit that button or slide it to the side?


— 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.

Pushing the Big Red Button: The Options for a Nebraska Football Fan
Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 10:30
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/15-potential-upsets-could-shake-college-football-playoff-2015

The College Football Playoff Committee released its first rankings of the 2015 season on Tuesday night, creating a firestorm of criticism on social media and around the internet this week. Clemson topped the rankings at No. 1, followed by LSU, Ohio State and Alabama to round out the top four. The Crimson Tide at No. 4 was easily one of the biggest points of contention by many fans and media members after Tuesday’s rankings release.


While the rankings are good for television and discussion, there’s one valuable tidbit to keep in mind – rankings generally sort out over time. In last year’s first rankings release, Mississippi State, Auburn and Ole Miss – three teams that missed the playoff at the end of 2015 – were in the top four. Additionally, Ohio State ranked No. 16.


While the outrage and debate over rankings is good for college football, there are plenty of remaining games that will have an impact on the playoff. Let’s forget about the upcoming clashes between Alabama-LSU, Michigan State-Ohio State and Baylor-TCU and focus on 15 potential upsets that could shake up the rankings the rest of 2015. These may not happen, but this should provide a good detail of why the season and playoff rankings are far from complete.


Week 10


Notre Dame at Pittsburgh

Notre Dame went 3-1 under Brian Kelly against Pat Narduzzi when he was the defensive coordinator at Michigan State. Narduzzi is off to a good start (6-2) in his first season with the Panthers and has a few extra days to prepare after playing last Thursday against North Carolina. Can Pittsburgh’s defense (22.1 points per game allowed) find a way to slow down the Fighting Irish’s offense? If Notre Dame knocks off Pittsburgh, it should be 10-1 headed into the Nov. 28 game at Stanford.


Related: Predictions for Every College Football Week 10 Game


Florida State at Clemson

It’s rare to see Florida State listed as a double-digit underdog. However, that’s the task facing coach Jimbo Fisher’s team on Saturday. Winning in Death Valley is going to be a challenge for the Seminoles, especially with a handful of injuries to key players on both sides of the ball. However, this is Clemson’s toughest remaining opponent, and Florida State has won four out of the last five in this series.


TCU at Oklahoma State

The Big 12’s schedule is back-loaded this season. TCU faces the top three teams in the Big 12 in November, starting with a trip to Stillwater on Nov. 7. Oklahoma State (8-0) hasn’t faced the toughest of schedules, but the Cowboys will present problems for the Horned Frogs on both sides of the ball. Oklahoma State is 2-1 against TCU since it joined the Big 12.


Week 11


Arkansas at LSU

Alabama-LSU is usually a black-and-blue, heavyweight matchup. If LSU beats Alabama, matching up against Arkansas’ massive offensive line and running back Alex Collins will be a challenge.


Related: Post-Week 9 Bowl Projections 


Alabama at Mississippi State

Same theory on Arkansas-LSU applies to Alabama-Mississippi State. Regardless of which team wins, both programs are going to have trouble matching the intensity and physical nature of the Week 10 matchup in Tuscaloosa. Last year’s meeting between Mississippi State and Alabama was decided by only five points. Starkville is a potential trap for the Crimson Tide.


Week 12


LSU at Ole Miss

Lost in the Alabama-LSU debate within the SEC West is Ole Miss. The Rebels control their own destiny within this division thanks to a victory over the Crimson Tide in September. Ole Miss won the last matchup in Oxford against the Tigers and lost by only three in Baton Rouge last season. With a defensive line led by Robert Nkemdiche and rising star Marquis Haynes off the edge, the Rebels have enough talent up front to slow LSU running back Leonard Fournette.


Related: 10 Candidates to Replace Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech


Baylor at Oklahoma State

The projected top three teams in the Big 12 – Oklahoma, TCU and Baylor – all visit Stillwater in November. The Bears’ last trip to Oklahoma State (2013) didn’t go so well in a 49-17 defeat. This matchup comes at bad time for Baylor too, as it's one week before the anticipated showdown at TCU.


California at Stanford

The Golden Bears have lost five consecutive matchups in this rivalry. But there’s plenty of hope for the Golden Bears. Stanford gave up 354 passing yards against Washington State, and its secondary will be tested by California quarterback Jared Goff. This matchup is also one week before the potential playoff elimination game against Notre Dame. The Cardinal can’t afford to look ahead.


Week 13


Ole Miss at Mississippi State

If Ole Miss beats Arkansas and LSU, it will likely need a victory over rival Mississippi State to clinch the SEC West. It’s the last home game for standout quarterback Dak Prescott. Don’t count out the Bulldogs from defeating their in-state rival in the Egg Bowl.


Related: 10 Candidates to Replace Al Golden at Miami


Ohio State at Michigan

Urban Meyer versus Jim Harbaugh. That’s more than enough in terms of must-see value for this matchup. But there’s plenty of other intrigue with this game. Ohio State takes on Michigan State the week prior, making this matchup in Ann Arbor one of the toughest two-game stretches for any team in the nation. Is Michigan the team that ends Ohio State's unbeaten season?


Iowa at Nebraska

Barring a few major injuries, Iowa should be favored to win each of its last four games. Nebraska is in the midst of a disappointing debut under new coach Mike Riley, but the Cornhuskers could salvage some pride by playing spoiler with a win over Iowa on Nov. 27.


Notre Dame at Stanford

Both teams have tough opponents to overcome before this game, but the odds suggest Stanford and Notre Dame will enter their matchup on Nov. 28 at 10-1. But here’s the worst-case scenario for both teams: What happens if Notre Dame loses to Pittsburgh and then knocks off Stanford? It’s hard to see either team making the playoff in that scenario. 


Week 14


ACC Championship: Clemson/Florida State vs. Coastal Champion

With a month of games remaining, it’s hard to project which teams will end up in the conference title game. However, it’s safe to assume either Clemson or Florida State will represent the Atlantic. The Coastal Division is a wide-open race, with North Carolina owning an edge over Pittsburgh and Duke. Let’s assume the winner of Florida State/Clemson wins out until this game. A loss to North Carolina/Duke/Pittsburgh would certainly knock that team out of the playoff picture.


SEC Championship: Florida vs. Ole Miss/Alabama/LSU

As mentioned above, it’s important to keep in mind Ole Miss controls its destiny in the SEC West. While the Rebels haven’t looked as strong as Alabama or LSU on a weekly basis, coach Hugh Freeze’s team has a shot to play in Atlanta. But here’s a nightmare scenario for the SEC. If Florida loses to Florida State and beats the SEC West champion in Atlanta, could the SEC get left out of the playoff picture? It sure seems that way.


Big Ten Championship: Iowa vs. Michigan State/Ohio State

The Hawkeyes could be 12-0 and out of the top four on the final Saturday of action. However, a win over Michigan State or Ohio State would be enough to vault coach Kirk Ferentz’s team into the top four. Iowa would be an underdog in this matchup. But anything can happen in a one-game scenario.

15 Potential Upsets That Could Shake Up the College Football Playoff in 2015
Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: NBA, Overtime
Path: /overtime/kareem-abdul-jabbar-criticizes-michael-jordan-over-sneakers

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, while known as a legendary basketball player, is a political activist of sorts.


He's never been one to shy away from world issues, and because of that says he took a hit to his celebrity status resulting in the lack of sales of his merchandise. In an interview with NPR, the former Lakers center says his outspoken nature took a toll at times, but he did what he thought was right.


"Sometimes you can't pick or choose," Abdul-Jabbar said. "When something happens, it doesn't matter if it's convenient or not - if it's time to speak up, you have to speak up. You can't be afraid."


The NBA great also went on to discusses Michael Jordan and his lack of public opinion. The former Chicago Bulls star was once asked to endorse Harvey Gantt in his Senate campaign against a republican candidate with regressive racial attitudes. Jordan's response was that "Republicans buy sneakers too."


As you can imagine, Abdul-Jabbar wasn't too fond of that answer.


"You can't be afraid of losing shoe sales if you're worried about your civil and human rights," Abdul-Jabbar said. "He took commerce or conscience. It's unfortunate for him, but he's gotta live with it."

Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 09:58
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/ranking-best-college-football-games-november-2015

Call us crazy, but something has been missing this season.


We can’t say it’s been a lackluster season — not even close. Wild finishes in Durham, Ann Arbor and Atlanta in the last three weeks have made this a season to remember.


It’s not a season that seems to be marching to an inevitable end, either. Every conference as at least two teams with hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff. Even the American Athletic Conference has given us three teams in the first top 25.


No, what the season has been lacking is definitive statements by the top 15 or so contenders.


That’s about to change, starting this week. LSU-Alabama and Florida State-Clemson are true statement games. That will be followed by a round robin among the top four teams in the Big 12.


If the big games follow the trend of the craziness of the first two months, buckle up.


1.Nov. 7Tuscaloosa, Ala.

In the eyes of the selection committee, this is a top-four matchup, and we might not argue. Leonard Fournette faces the Alabama run defense. Derrick Henry faces the LSU defense. This already hurts.

2.Nov. 27Fort Worth, Texas

For two seasons, this has been the Big 12’s best rivalry. Art Briles and Gary Patterson don’t particularly like each other, and if freshman Jarrett Stidham steps in like his predecessors at Baylor, this could be the highest-scoring game between Playoff contenders.

3.Nov. 21Columbus, Ohio

No series has been more important in the Big Ten during the last three seasons, and this one could be a matchup of undefeated teams to determine the Big Ten East title.

4.Nov. 7Clemson, S.C.

The Seminoles can still win the ACC, but Clemson is on a path to the College Football Playoff. The Tigers have no more than two ranked teams left, Florida State and a potential ACC Coastal foe in the title game. A loss here likely ends Clemson’s bid for the Playoff.

5.Nov. 28South Bend, Ind.

The Irish were ranked No. 5 in the first College Football Playoff ranking, but Stanford at No. 11 has just as legitimate a shot at reaching the semifinal. The Cardinal have been on a hot streak since a bizarre loss to Northwestern. Wins over Notre Dame and the Pac-12 South champion could seal the deal.

6.Nov. 21Norman, Okla.

Another key Big 12 game has been one of the more competitive series: Five of the last six matchups have been decided by one score.

7.Nov. 21Ann Arbor, Mich

Meyer vs. Harbaugh I: The Wolverines’ loss to Michigan State probably knocks Michigan out of the Playoff race. Michigan’s defense and home-field advantage give the Wolverines plenty of ability to spoil the Buckeyes’ season.

8.Nov. 21Oxford, Miss.

If LSU defeats Alabama, this could be the game that determines the SEC West title. If not, it’s still a game that plays into Fournette’s Heisman race and a spot for a major bowl game.

9.Nov. 7Stillwater, Okla.

How legitimate is Oklahoma State in the four-way crowd atop the Big 12? The two-quarterback system is unconventional, but it scored 70 on the road against Texas Tech.

10.Nov. 14Waco, Texas

Oklahoma already has a loss to a bad Texas team on the résumé and Baylor’s non-conference schedule is so poor that this might be an elimination game for the Playoff. Baylor has won the last two meetings by a combined 63 points.

11.Nov. 28Gainesville, Fla.

The Gators may be able to walk to Atlanta and a 10-win season with Vanderbilt, South Carolina and FAU remaining. If the Gators can beat Florida State for only the second time since 2009, they’ll go to the Georgia Dome with more on the line the SEC title.

12.Nov. 21Stillwater, Okla.

Even if Oklahoma State is out of the Big 12 race by the time Baylor visits Stillwater, this will be a key game for the Bears. Baylor’s offense sometimes stumbles on the road, and this will be first of the Bears’ two big road tests.

13.Nov. 28Stillwater, Okla.

The wild finish in the Bedlam Game last year relieved pressure on Mike Gundy and put it on Bob Stoops. This is always a heated rivalry, but it could have national title implications for the first time since 2011.

14.Nov. 14Houston

The Tigers could face two ranked AAC foes on the road in November. We’re expecting this one to be the more entertaining game when Paxton Lynch faces off against Greg Ward Jr.

15.Nov. 28Tuscaloosa, Ala.

This game won’t live up to the preseason hype when many thought it could be for the SEC West. Auburn is getting better by baby steps, enough to make weird things happen in a rivalry game? We can hope.

16.Nov. 21Philadelphia

The Tigers’ offense is one of the most productive in the country while Temple has a stifling defense. These two teams could meet against in the AAC title game for a trip to a major bowl game.

17.Nov. 28Starkville, Miss.

The Egg Bowl is more interesting than it has ever been — especially if Ole Miss is still in the SEC West hunt. Ole Miss knocked Mississippi State out of the top four last season. Dak Prescott is equipped to return the favor this season. 

18.Nov. 21Salt Lake City

Josh Rosen goes on the road against a stout Utah defense. The Utes remain the leaders in the Pac-12. Which UCLA and which Utah shows up?

19.Nov. 28Los Angeles

Interim coach Clay Helton has USC thinking about reaching the Pac-12 title game for the first time. The Trojans could be the spoiler of the conference with both Stanford and Utah seeking a CFP spot or a major bowl game.

20.Nov. 21Palo Alto, Calif.

Washington State’s Air Raid came to upsetting Stanford. Did the Cougars establish a blueprint for Jared Goff to beat the rival Cardinal?

Ranking the Best College Football Games in November 2015
Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, NFL
Path: /nfl/cleveland-browns-vs-cincinnati-bengals-preview-and-prediction-2015

The undefeated 7-0 Cincinnati Bengals host the 2-6 Cleveland Browns on "Thursday Night Football," with the Bengals looking to continue their best start in franchise history. Last week was one of their toughest tests to date, as they overcame a fourth-quarter deficit and multiple turnovers to pull out a 16-10 win over the rival Pittsburgh Steelers.


The Bengals are firmly in the driver's seat in the AFC North, having beaten both the Steelers and Ravens on the road. Now they have a chance to take another step toward the division crown by taking on the injury-plagued Browns.


The Browns have shown flashes of potential on offense this season, with a passing game ranked ninth in the NFL. But their defense has been ravaged with injuries, as starting defensive backs Joe Haden and Donte Whitner will miss this game because of concussions. That doesn't bode well for a defense that is facing one of the best passing offenses in the league. To make matters worse, starting quarterback Josh McCown also has been ruled out with a rib injury, which means Johnny Manziel will make just his fourth career start.


Still, nothing's given in the hard-nosed AFC North and this should be a hard-fought game, at least at the outset.


Cleveland at Cincinnati


Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET (Thursday)

TV: NFL Network

Spread: Bengals -10.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Bengals in the Spotlight

Yes, the Bengals are 7-0 and have some impressive victories against quality opponents, but any praise for them is always followed by the disclaimer that they struggle in the national spotlight and that none of their regular season wins really matter until they win a playoff game. Well here come the Browns, served up on a nice fat platter, ravaged by injuries and having to travel on a short week, while simultaneously putting most of their team publicly on the trade block. No one will give the Bengals much credit for anything less than a decisive win in this situation, but doing it in front of a national audience could certainly help prove that this team won't wither when the spotlight falls on them.


2. Bengal Offensive Rebound

The Bengals were far from dominant against the Steelers last week, and though that is to be somewhat expected on the road against a rival that knows them well, they'll need to improve their execution, especially on offense. A.J. Green still had 11 catches for 118 yards and a touchdown, but the rest of the offense was quiet. Against the better teams that can take away Green, the Bengals will need to prove they can win without him being the only offensive player producing. The Browns aren't the team to take away Green, but a re-dedication to balance will start getting this team ready for their bigger tests coming down the road.


3. Can Johnny Football Save Their Season?

Josh McCown had an excellent first half against the Cardinals last week, throwing three touchdowns and looking primed to pull off an upset, but sustained a rib injury and will not play against the Bengals. Once again all eyes turn to Johnny Manziel, who showed improvement the first two weeks of the season. At 2-6 the Browns' season is likely already over, but with back-to-back trips to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh before their late bye, there's still a chance to have an impact in the division, and perhaps Manziel can get things started against the Bengals. The Browns have shown flashes all season, but just haven't been able to put it all together and finish off any of the good teams that they've stuck with. This might be their last chance to prove 2015 isn't just another forgettable season and it will ride on their former first-round pick.


Final Analysis


The Bengals are undefeated and confident, but still looking for the national respect that the other undefeated teams in the AFC are getting. Barring a double-digit blowout, they're probably not going to get that respect in this game, but they still have many things to improve if they're to challenge the Patriots and Broncos to be the AFC Super Bowl representative, so no game can be taken lightly. Too much is stacked against the Browns, including injuries and the short week to prepare. All signs point to the Bengals rolling.


Prediction: Bengals 35, Browns 10


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

Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 09:00