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Monday, October 13, 2008

Armstrong to race in 2009 Giro d'Italia

File photo shows cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, September 12, 2008. (REUTERS/Christopher Pike)

By Mark Meadows

MILAN (Reuters) - Lance Armstrong will race in next year's Giro d'Italia for the first time as part of his cycling comeback, the seven-times Tour de France winner said on Monday.

The 37-year-old, who retired in 2005, will compete in the May 9-31 race before bidding for an eighth Tour title in July.

"I will give my utmost, and not only to prepare for the Tour," Armstrong said in a statement.

"Not having taken part in the Giro was one of my biggest regrets as a rider. Finally I will be able to do it. For five years I lived in Como and I am very excited to return to Italy."

The American will start his comeback in January's Tour Down Under in Australia after being allowed to compete by the International Cycling Union (UCI) despite breaching the rules.

Riders making comebacks have to be in the UCI's anti-doping program for six months prior to racing but the governing body has made an exception for Armstrong, who announced he was returning to the sport only last month.

Armstrong, who fought off cancer and unproven doping allegations during his career, is partly making a comeback with the Astana team to promote his global cancer awareness campaign, LiveStrong.

The Giro, the second biggest stage-race after the Tour, will be celebrating its centenary next year. The route has yet to be announced.

"Lance knows very well the affection Italians have for him after the years he spent living on the banks of Lake Como," said Angelo Zomegnan, the cycling director of Giro organizers RCS Sport.

"It is an affection that is not equaled in any other European country."

Many riders opt out of racing both the Giro and the Tour because of the physical exertion required. Francesco Moser, who won the Giro in 1984, was skeptical that Armstrong could properly race in both.

"At 37 years of age, to return to racing after three years is a decision I don't understand and it seems dangerous to me. To race the Tour as well in the same year is not a simple thing," he was quoted as saying in Italian media.

(Editing by Miles Evans)

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Six Sweaty Moments of Geeky Triumph


If you watch enough high school movies, you'll begin to think that jocks and geeks are always at war. Not so, however: Science fiction is full of triumphant sports moments, and not just the ones that end in death. From Battlestar Galactica's pyramid ball to Futurama's Blernsball to Arthur C. Clarke's outer space sailing, this genre has a lot to offer your gym-minded friends. Whether the stakes are high or low, these six displays of futuristic athleticism are the most energetic bits of nerdery since Alan Shepard hit a golf ball on the moon.

1. Mystery Ball - Firefly:

It gets boring in the dead of space, and if you had a giant cargo bay, you'd probably be playing some weird version of basketball in it too.

2. Boxing - Battlestar Galactica:

Okay, so by the end of the clip, it's unclear whether this is more about boxing or sex, but I'm happy either way.

3. Salute of the Jugger - The Blood of Heroes:

I would probably have been a much scarier field hockey opponent if my coach was Rutger Hauer.

4. Good old-fashioned dueling - Star Trek: The Original Series:

Yes, T'Pring was clearly not eager to marry either of these men, but can you blame her when Spock is so quick to slash open his captain's shirt to reveal the rippling flesh underneath?

5. Kung fu - The Matrix:

Even a computer nerd like Neo would download kung fu knowledge before, say, quantum mechanics or gas turbine propulsion. I guess that's fair.

6. Swimming - Gattaca:

We may have advanced far enough in society to genetically engineer people for specific tasks, but there's no point in moving beyond the vindictive deliciousness of sibling rivalry.

In literary sf, there's always the heart-pounding wargame of Ender's Game — Orson Scott Card gleefully turned sedentary videogame tropes into a festival of zero-g adrenaline. Larry Niven's The Hunting Park, part of his Man-Kzin Wars collection, explores the nature of human hunting. And editors Jack Dann and Gardner Dozios have made it easy for sci-fi sports fans with their anthology Future Sports, which features a sailing story from Arthur C. Clarke and a look at no-contact sumo wrestling by Howard Waldrop.

What's next for sci-fi sports? Well, I'm hoping for cheerleading to make an appearance; maybe we could see what Bring It On is like when you adapt it for an alien planet. And you should find a sport to play — in case, for example, we ever have to battle aliens for world domination with baseball.

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Madden’s Lowest Rated Player Defies All Odds Again

The Madden Gods are always right . . . that’s the motto my freshman year roommate instilled during his practice of Maddenism. According to Geerock, Madden was the type of game that you could control your life and indeed, it did. Most freshman guys would leave notes or a tie on the handle to forewarn and abrupt entrance in the presence of the opposite sex. With him, I would receive a text message with a hot route to signal the time period requested. Hook route for 30 minutes, fly for an all nighters, with an abundance of mix and match routes in between. It was sad, but I admired his passion for the game. His team was always better than mine, anyways.

That’s why when Madden 2007 was released, we both found common ground in the feeling of shock and disappointment when an UNC alum was ranked the worst player in the entire game. In a pseudo letter of outrage, some one posing as Ethan Albright responded to Madden’s insulting rating. The letter read:

To: John Madden
CC: Electronic Arts Sports
From: Ethan Albright
Re: Being the worst rated player on Madden ‘07

Hi, John, my name is Ethan Albright. I play line for the Washington Redskins. You probably already knew that, so I’ll continue. I am writing in regards to the overall player rating of 53 that I have received in Madden NFL Football 2007. I feel that this is ****ing bullshit and you should kiss my mother-****ing ass. Ahmed Carroll was rated a 78 and the Packers just cut his ass on a Tuesday morning after his performance in a Monday night game. That is pretty terrible. The worst part is that his overall rating was sniffing 80.

You know what, John? Two can play this game. I rate you a ****ing 12. I rate you a ****ing 12 in Ethan Albright Football 2000-ever… except for in the category of ball-licking. That is where I will spot you a 98 rating. You will receive this score because I will never give your blubbery ass a 99 in any category. Take that, pencil-dick. Go do Al Micheals or something. Boom. Score one for Red Beard.

It’s also pretty wonderful that my awareness rating was 59. You make it sound like I wake up in the morning, helplessly shit and piss myself, then lose three of my teeth before I discover that I am trying to eat a rock for breakfast. ****, John, I understand you saying that I am slow and lacking athleticism, but a rating like this pretty much labels me as retarded. Rod “He Hate Me” Smart has a 52 in this category. Electronic Arts is saying that seven rating points separate me and the breathing embodiment of the perfect oxymoron. Rod Smart struggled to arrange words in sentence form. Cave men had better hold of the English language. The only actions that separate point values of ignorance at this embarrassing level are things like using your own toothbrush to wipe your ass. I basically edged out Rod by my lack of shit teeth. If I take a night school class, could you bump me up to a 60?

I guess I just can’t fathom the fact that I am the absolute worst player rated out of the entire NFL. ****, man, there are some shitty guys out there. Amongst everyone, I was rated the absolute worst.

I have received the impression that you feel that I am lacking in the agility category. I should consider a walk through my living room where I don’t crash trough a wall or kick over furniture a resounding success. My agility rating on your game is 33. It makes it sound like I just topple over if I start walking too fast. Ted Washington is rated a 40 in agility. He is listed at 365 ponds. If Ted Washington tied a white lady up and made her wear a metal bikini, he’d look just like Jabba the Hut.

John, you are such a ****ing dick. I also noticed that my kick return rating was a 0. I was rated a ****ing zero? So you feel that I shouldn’t even receive a 10, or even a 5? You are pretty much saying that I couldn’t even fall forward on a ball kicked in my direction. I would just stand there and let the ball bounce off of my ****ing face. **** that, John, I returned an onside kick 6 yards in 2002. You should have just slapped a - 4 on me and had the EA staff ambush me with paintball guns.

Finally, I would like to comment on an unlikely topic, my pass coverage ratings. I see that I am a better at man-to-man coverage (31) than zone (21). **** me sideways with a lunchbox. Where did these scores even come from? How much time is spent coming up with the pass coverage ratings of offensive lineman? Can I have that job? Let’s see here, I think that Orlando Pace would be slightly better at jumping intermediate routes than Larry Allen. While I’m at it, I can assign the passing ratings for offensive lineman as well. I can use mine as a guide.

I was rated with a throwing power of 17 and accuracy of 16. Orlando Pace is has a 22 power and 17 accuracy rating. Did someone at EA really put time into figuring out that Orlando Pace edges out Ethan Albright in both throwing power and accuracy? I will challenge him any day. My horrible passer ratings are of greatest misfortune to my son, Red Beard Jr. The poor boy is not only hideously ugly and covered by freakishly large freckles. He also has to suffer through playing catch with me and my senile-elderly-woman-type passer ratings. A session of tossing the pigskin usually consists of me missing my son by thirty yards in sporadic directions. I led him in front of a fire truck once and my wife kicked my ass. This is because of my 76 toughness rating. Yes, a 76 is far better than the other ratings, but I’m a ****ing lineman, damn it. NFL Linemen are considered to be synonymous with toughness. According to your game, I am a retarded, uncoordinated, pussy-ass ****wad that can’t fall on a kickoff, throw, or spell. I am, however, slightly better at manning up on a receiver than dropping into zone coverage. You lose your mind more and more each year, old man.

**** you, John. Please expect to find red pubes in various meals you consume for the rest of your life. If you **** with Ethan Albright, you call down the thunder.

Rot in Hell,

Ethan Albright

Being the perceived as the worst person at their job is a hard thing to grasp, but it could be a blessing as well. You see, being the worst ranked player has to evoke tremendous will and drive to become the best in the league. And for the case of Ethan Albright, that means becoming the best damn long snapper out there. There’s not much to being a long snapper, other than delivering a pin point spiral to a holder or a punter several yards back. In high school they even receive a halo rule to prevent them from being injured.

But Ethan Albright put blandness of his position aside and proved to the world and Madden lovers everywhere that he was not a 53 rating. He is now sitting pretty on the 2008 pro bowl roster for the 2nd year in a row. America’s favorite ginger long snapper has done it again, proving John Madden truly is full of shit.

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League to lay off about 80 amid economic slowdown, Stern says

LONDON -- The NBA is eliminating about 80 jobs in the United States, the first major American sports league to announce layoffs because of the worldwide economic turmoil.

Commissioner David Stern told The Associated Press last month the league would cut staff in anticipation of the downturn. He said Sunday the figure would be about 9 percent of the American work force, and the league confirmed the number of jobs the next day.

"We made the decision some months ago that the economy was going to be a bit wobbly so we began a belt-tightening," Stern said in London, where the New Jersey Nets beat the Miami Heat in a preseason game.

The NBA continues to hire in other countries, he said, as it seeks to grow internationally.

Stern emphasized that the league is still hitting its business targets.

"My guess is that by the time we tip off in a week or so, we will be down modestly in season tickets. ... We think we'll be up in revenue, but I just can't say for sure whether we'll be up or down in attendance because it's just so touch-and-go, because sports tickets are very much disposable income," he said. "So, we're not going to see a huge impact, but I dare say we will see some impact."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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Coach: 2 Cuban soccer players missing in DC

WASHINGTON (AP)—Two members of Cuba’s national soccer team have gone missing during the team’s trip to Washington for a World Cup qualifying match, the team’s coach told reporters on Friday.

“It is always a problem for the Cuba team,” coach Reinhold Fanz told the Washington Post. “We have security, but you can’t handcuff them to their rooms.”

The Post identified the players as midfielder Pedro Faife, 24, and forward Reynier Alcantara, 26.

Cuba is scheduled to play the U.S. team at RFK Stadium on Saturday.

Defections have been a concern for Cuba when its sports teams travel abroad. In March, five soccer players went missing after the under-23 team played the U.S. in Tampa, Fla.

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Zero-X Electric Off-Road Motorcycle: Whisper-Quiet, Off-Road Power


Posted on October 11th, 2008 by Sebastian Schepis

Zero-X Electric Motorcycle

Check out the Zero-X off-road electric motorcycle, made by Zero Motorcycles, Inc. of Santa Cruz, California. The Zero-X is a 100% electric off-road motorcycle powered by a 17kW motor capable of 23 peak horsepower. That’s about equivalent to a 250cc gas motorcycle, and it’s not bad at all for an electric vehicle that weighs a meager 140 pounds. The light weight of the motorcycle itself is due to an innovative mix of motorcycle and modified bicycle parts and to an aircraft aluminum frame that weighs 18 pounds.

Zero-X Electric Motorcycle
Zero-X Electric Motorcycle
The Zero-X battery pack weighs 40 pounds - almost a third of it’s total weight.

Zero-X controls include a front a rear brake and a twist throttle.

The Zero-X is quick - it can accelerate from 0-30 mph in under 2 seconds, with a top speed of about 60 mph. The ZERO X Speed controller features the ability to customize both the speed and acceleration of the motorcycle. With a flip of the switch you can limit the top speed to a “motorized bicycle” legal 30mph. Another switch sets the acceleration from the beginner-friendly “easy” mode to an unrestricted “sport” mode that gives you full power and full acceleration. With the electric motor giving you full torque at 0 rpm, popping wheelies is not a problem. And, since it’s totally quiet, you can ride this dirt bike in places you would not normally be able to due to noise restrictions.

Zero-X Electric Motorcycle
Zero-X Electric Motorcycle
Here’s the rear hydraulic disc brake assembly.

The drive chain uses an unusual 3/8-inch pitch.

The motor of the Zero-X is powered by a lithium-ion array capable of giving you between 1.5 to 2 hours of riding per charge. The batteries can be recharged in about 2 hours by using a provided fast battery charger that plugs into a standard wall outlet. The batteries weigh about 40 pounds, and their lifetime is expected to be between five and six years with average use. Although the batteries are expensive to replace - $2,950 - they only cost about $0.25 per recharge.

The Zero-X electric motorcycle retails for about $7,500 plus $300 shipping and provides an interesting electric option for those looking for a green alternative off-road vehicle. Take a look at this excellent Zero-X Motorcycle First Look, or visit ZeroMotorcycles.com.

Check out these short videos of the Zero-X electric motorcycle in action.

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NHL Season Begins, And A Dream Is Delayed

by Chris Nelson and Gemma Hooley

Defensive prospect Karl Alzner on the Washington Capitals bench during a rookie scrimmage.

Defensive prospect Karl Alzner sits on the Washington Capitals bench during a rookie scrimmage against the Philadelphia Flyers last month. Chris Nelson/NPR

As the pro-hockey season begins, many rookies face a moment of truth: Have they made the cut for the National Hockey League, or will they be sent down to the development league? For one rookie, the answer comes after months of work.

At 11:11 each morning and 11:11 each night, Karl Alzner makes a good-luck wish. He also carries a fake mustache that once belonged to the rapper Snoop Dogg as a good-luck charm.

But for all the superstitions he brings to training camp, Alzner's luck is the kind that only comes with hard work.

A New Training Regimen

A prodigy at 15 in the Canadian junior league, Alzner was drafted by the Washington Capitals last season. Now 20, he's looking to compete at the NHL level.

"Lots of guys, not only they're strong in the gym, but they've got what I like to call 'man strength,' because their full body is strong," Alzner said.

"They can just anchor themselves into the ice, and if you aren't strong enough to push them over, then you just have to wait for them to turn around."

To get himself strong enough, Alzner set some ambitious training goals this summer.

"I tried sprinting for the first time in a year — I don't usually sprint all that often, I just jog. But I tried sprinting with parachutes and bungee cords and weighted vests on all at once," said Alzner, who is listed at 6'2" and 210 pounds.

The work came with a price, he said: "I tweaked my hip flexor, both my groins, my hamstrings."

These tweaks, as Alzner calls them, were soon lost in the general pain of training camp. Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau drilled his rookies until some of them lay spread-eagle on the ice at the end of practice. Alzner vowed to stay upright.

"If I'm tired, I like to hide it," he said.

"I don't like to bend over. I don't like to, if I don't have to, go down on one knee. I never usually like to show any sort of weakness."

The Stakes At Training Camp

Brooks Laich, a four-year veteran with the Caps, said, Alzner "is very smooth. In young guys, one of the big things they look for is poise. It's called poise.

"It means they have ice running through their veins. That kind of thing. And Karl, out on the ice, is very calm. And I think he'll get a long look this year, as far as making the team — and hopefully he does well for us in the future."

Laich said that training camp is not just a proving ground for rookies like Alzner; veterans must also prove their worth.

"I was just signed this summer to a new three-year contract," Laich said. "So I want to come in and prove that management hasn't made a mistake. Now I'm battling to try and improve my position on the team, whereas before I was just battling to get on the team. So there's a lot of things going on in camp."

Training camp always ends with tough decisions for coaches. On Monday, the last day of camp, Alzner played pingpong as he waited for news of his status. It was disappointing. He learned that he won't be starting in the NHL this week.

But he was told to expect to be called up for Caps games during the season.

Going To Pennsylvania

For now, Azner will develop his skills with the AHL Hershey Bears. Alzner, who is from British Columbia, had 24 hours to get himself to Pennsylvania and find a place to live.

The move means that everything's changing for Alzner — everything, he said, except the goal he wrote down as a kid and tacked to his bedroom wall.

"It's just a regular 8-by-11 piece of paper," he said. "Blue paper, black Sharpie."

The sign reads, "I will make the NHL."

And, Alzner noted, "'Will' is underlined two or three times — that's my favorite."

Wednesday night, he made his Hershey Bears debut in the team's season opener in Wilkes-Barre. Laich and the Caps start their season Friday.

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Raider Nation Joins the Meltdown

By WILLIAM C. RHODEN

Paul Sakuma/Associated Press

The Raiders’ owner, Al Davis, has endured five consecutive losing seasons. He recently fired coach Lane Kiffin after a public dressing down.

ALAMEDA, Calif.

Before his team left for New Orleans for a crucial game on Sunday against the Saints, Al Davis stood on a bad leg with the assistance of a walker and shouted encouragement to his players as they walked off the practice field. Some waved, others nodded. No one ignored.

Davis, at age 79, eats, drinks and sleeps — but not so comfortably these days — Oakland Raiders football. But after five consecutive losing seasons — five last-place finishes — there has been the inevitable speculation that the game has passed Davis by, that the Raiders’ legendary owner has lost touch and lost control.

Maybe the game has passed Davis, but he has not lost control. He proved that two weeks ago in extraordinary fashion.

After weeks of public conjecture, Davis fired Coach Lane Kiffin — figuratively giving the young Kiffin a public spanking. He then addressed the news media to explain what he called “the propaganda and lying” from Kiffin that led to the dismissal.

That was old-school, glory-days Raiders football replete with mud in the face, elbows to the throat. If Kiffin used the news media to fight his battle, wanted to play rough and tumble, Davis would remind him that he invented rough and tumble.

“I realized I didn’t hire the person I thought I was hiring,” Davis said. And that was the nice stuff.

Among other things, the feud accentuated N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell’s lack of authority — or an unwillingness to use his authority to publicly officiate a bloody squabble involving an owner. Goodell’s responsibility is to enforce league rules and policies, but he should have stepped in before this fight reached the news-conference stage, where it has become must-see YouTube.

Goodell watched the news conference and told reporters last week: “No one likes to see a dispute like that happen. I think Mr. Davis made it very clear that he didn’t like it. I think it’s something that’s unfortunate. You don’t want to see it happen, but it is a reality of our business and they’ve moved on now.”

On Friday, I made the one-hour drive south to San Jose, where the New England Patriots — Oakland’s hated rival — spent the week preparing for Sunday’s game with San Diego. Several Patriots are from California. Most have watched the developing Raiders drama through the prism of Californians who had boyhood rooting interests in the Chargers, the Rams — when there was football in Los Angeles — the Raiders and the 49ers.

Logan Mankins played at Fresno State and grew up a 49ers fan in Catheys Valley. When he thinks of San Francisco, he thinks of Jerry Rice, Joe Montana and Steve Young.

Oakland Raiders? “You think of Al Davis,” Mankins said. “He’s always been above the team, he was always in the spotlight, whether it was moving them form city to city, or just his persona. He was always above the team.”

Mankins has been with the Patriots for all four seasons of his pro career.

He is biased, obviously. There has been no love lost between these two team since 2002, when Oakland lost the infamous tuck-rule playoff game at New England. Still, he offers a perspective on the Raiders that may be shared by more players than not.

“I don’t think anyone thinks Oakland is in the spot where they need to be,” he said. “I know I wouldn’t want to be on that team with all the chaos that’s going on there all the time. I don’t really know what’s going on there, but from an outsider’s view, I know I wouldn’t want to be around there. I don’t know what really is going on, but it doesn’t look good.”

Walking cold into Raiders wonderland is like beginning a great novel in the middle. You will digest great lines and wonderful concepts, but the complexity of the larger narrative is bound to escape you. The Al Davis portion of the Raiders’ narrative began in 1963, when Davis, at age 33, was named head coach and general manager.

In April 1966, Davis became commissioner of the American Football League, at the end of its blood-and-guts war with the rival National Football League. Three months later he resigned and rejoined the Raiders as managing general partner, beginning an incredible 42-year ownership reign.

The Raiders’ coaching carousel began in 1988 with the resignation of Tom Flores and the hiring of Mike Shanahan. He was fired in October 1989. A day later Art Shell was named head coach.

Shell was fired in 1995 and Mike White was hired. White was fired in 1997 and Joe Bugel became the coach; Bugel was fired in 1998 and Jon Gruden became the coach. In March 2002, Bill Callahan replaced Gruden and led Oakland to the Super Bowl, im which the Raiders lost to Gruden’s Buccaneers.

In January 2004, Norv Turner was named the coach. In 2006, Shell, in for a second tour of duty, replaced Turner. In January 2007, Davis named Kiffin to succeed Shell.

On Sept. 30 Kiffin was fired and the offensive line coach Tom Cable became the Raiders’ coach. The thread running through all of this is Davis.

Under Davis, the Raiders have been one of the most successful N.F.L. franchises ever. They have appeared in Super Bowls in four decades, winning in the 1976, 1980 and 1983 seasons, and losing in the 1967 and 2002 seasons. And they have always been ahead of the curve: they made Eldridge Dickey, an African-American quarterback, a first-round pick in 1968; and they made Flores the first Latino head coach, in 1979.

Davis is the cause, he is the cure, he is the Raiders’ dilemma and, ultimately, must be the franchise’s solution. The problem is that owners never see themselves as the problem. Never.

Kiffin wasn’t the answer, but after 40 years, the Raiders need a new vision and a new voice. And Davis’s son, Mark, is waiting in the wings.

Perhaps Davis will initiate yet another innovation and become the first owner in the history of sports to remove himself.

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Can't live without you: The 20 most indispensable college football players

Most of these guys aren't on Heisman voters' radars, but what do they need with a trophy, anyway? You say valuable, Sporting News college football expert Matt Hayes says indispensable. The players most essential to their teams, ranked in order of importance in relation to national title and conference championship races:

1. Max Hall, QB, BYU. Another strange season like 2007 (did you watch USC-Oregon State and Ole Miss-Florida?) and unbeaten BYU -- with a stout resume and hot quarterback -- could play for it all.

Click here to find out more!
2. Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma. He's physically stronger than he was in '07 and more poised and accurate. The concussion he suffered last season in a loss to Texas Tech kept the Sooners from playing for it all.

3. Terrence Cody, NT, Alabama. Mount Cody, all 365 pounds of him, demands double-teams in the middle. He's the best junior college transfer in more than a decade.

4. Chase Daniel, QB, Missouri. No one is more comfortable and efficient running an offense, and the Tigers will have to put up a lot of points to keep winning.

5. Charles Scott, RB, LSU. The Tigers still have quarterback problems, and that means the offense will lean on Scott's powerful, dependable running.

6. Daryll Clark, QB, Penn State. Never underestimate an accurate, confident thrower or the power of limiting turnovers (see: Anthony Morelli, 2007).

7. Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State. Six games into his college career, Pryor -- not tailback Chris Wells -- clearly is the player who makes the Buckeyes' offense go.

8. Paul Kruger, DE, Utah. He's a quick pass rusher and a microcosm (undersized and aggressive) of the best non-BCS defensive line in the country. Utah's unbeaten season rests on an underrated defense.

9. Joe McKnight, RB, USC. The Trojans' implosion at Oregon State included their best player touching the ball a measly 12 times. More uninvolved games for McKnight will mean more USC losses.

10. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas. Sophomore slump no more: McCoy is throwing with confidence and running the zone read play with efficiency. But can he do it all against Oklahoma?

11. Rennie Curran, LB, Georgia. The most dominant defensive player in the game, he fills holes in the running game and is too quick and strong to block in pass-rush situations.

12. Brandon James, KR/PR, Florida. His ability to change momentum forces opponents into a dilemma: kick away and lose field position or take chances on returns.

13. Matt Grothe, QB, South Florida. Don't be confused by his ordinary statistics; he makes more plays and has more impact in the Big East than any player this side of Pat White.

14. Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech. Isn't it obvious? Week 1, he's redshirting and Tech loses. Week 2, he's back, and Tech hasn't lost since.

15. Javon Ringer, RB, Michigan State. At some point, he has to wear down, right? Who can handle 40 carries a game?

16. Jahvid Best, RB, California. He was the fastest player in the nation as a true freshman last season, but now he has developed into a complete tailback and gives the Bears the oomph on offense to scare USC.

17. Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut. He's a deceptively fast, dependable bruiser who moves the pile ... blah, blah, blah. Bottom line: You can't bring him down with one player.

18. Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame. Check out the schedule: If Clausen can steer clear of turnovers, the Irish could go from three wins in '07 to -- horror of horrors! -- BCS bowl in '08.

19. Armanti Edwards, QB, Appalachian State. We've seen what I-AA's version of Tim Tebow can do; don't let those two early losses deceive you.

20. Rodney Landers, QB, James Madison. A terrific dual-threat talent, Landers has elevated his team to I-AA favorite with Edwards-like ability -- and a win over Appalachian State.

Matt Hayes is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at mhayes@sportingnews.com.

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Roof Surfing Fail (PIC)