Predicting the best fantasy drivers in California so you don't have to.
Twitter masters. And not bad in Cali, either. (ASP, Inc.)
The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit heads back out west for the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. To help guide you through the 2013 Fantasy NASCAR season, Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long will be offering his best predictions for each race. And because Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing game is arguably the most popular, he’ll break down the picks according to its NASCAR driver classes — A-List, B-List, C-List.
So, without further ado, Dustin's fantasy predictions for Auto Club — or California, if you prefer — ranked according to each driver's likelihood of taking the checkered flag — or at least finishing toward the front:
1. Jimmie Johnson
Why would you take anyone else this week? He has 10 consecutive top-10 finishes at Auto Club Speedway (average finish of 3.3 during that stretch) and has led laps in each of those races. He had an average finish of 3.0 in the first three races of the season and was headed for another top 10 before a blown tire sent him into the wall late at Bristol last week.
2. Matt Kenseth
He’s why you might want to pick someone else. Kenseth won at Las Vegas two weeks ago in the first test of the new car at a track where horsepower and aerodynamics matter (just like Auto Club Speedway). He had a teammate finish in the top five at Vegas, showing the strength of Joe Gibbs Racing on the big tracks. He’s also led more miles (323) than any other driver this season.
3. Brad Keselowski
Then again, there’s this guy. Keselowski has not finished worse than fourth in any of the first four races this season, collecting a bevy of points for those who put him on their team. He’s also led laps in each race this year.
4. Kasey Kahne
Finished second at Las Vegas and then won at Bristol. Has shown speed this season and that’s a good sign for Auto Club where he’s finished 14th, ninth and fourth in his last three starts.
5. Kevin Harvick
Has five consecutive top-10 finishes at this track, including a win in 2011 when he passed Johnson on the last lap.
6. Tony Stewart
Rallied late to finish 11th at Las Vegas after his car was awful in the first half of the race. Never had a chance at Bristol with a flat tire that sent him into the wall early. Needs a strong race this weekend and he’s coming to the right track. He’s won two of the last three at Auto Club.
7. Clint Bowyer
Both top-10 finishes this season have come at tracks one mile or less. Although he finished 27th at Las Vegas, his teammates placed eighth and 14th, showing that Michael Waltrip Racing could have some success at Auto Club.
8. Denny Hamlin
The center of controversy the past two weeks (NASCAR fine, Joey Logano dust-up), Auto Club has presented mixed results. He won the pole last year but has finished outside the top 10 in three of his last four races there.
9. Jeff Gordon
Was the only Hendrick driver who struggled at Las Vegas two weeks ago. Was never a factor, finishing 25th. Misfortune struck at Bristol, blowing a tire and crashing while leading. Needs a strong run or risks falling further behind the leaders in the points, but he’s finished 18th or worse in three of his last four starts in Fontana.
1. Kyle Busch
Finished fourth at Las Vegas and led 27 laps, showing the strength of a team with a new car in its first race at a big track. Also has been good at Auto Club Speedway, finishing in the top three the past two years there. Overall, he has six top-five finishes in 15 career starts.
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Has finished in the top 10 in each of the first four races of the season for the first time in his career, rewarding those who have put him on their team. Placed seventh at Las Vegas but knew they were a little off compared to the leaders. Will he close the gap this week? He finished third in Fontana last year.
3. Carl Edwards
Finished fifth at Las Vegas and now comes to a track where he’s placed in the top 5 in seven of his 15 career starts, one of the best marks among active drivers.
4. Martin Truex Jr.
Placed eighth at Las Vegas two weeks ago. Has finished in the top 10 in 10 of the last 11 races at non-restrictor-plate tracks of 1.5-miles and larger since last season.
5. Mark Martin
Back after taking Bristol off. Started third last year and finished 12th at Auto Club.
6. Ryan Newman
Has finished seventh or better in his last three starts in Fontana. When he’s made it to the finish he’s placed in the top 10 this season, but that’s happened only twice. In the other two races he was eliminated because of an accident or a blown engine.
7. Joey Logano
Certainly ran better than he finished at Bristol. He thought he was better than his 12th-place finish at Las Vegas but a pit road speeding penalty hurt him there. Can he avoid trouble and show where he can finish?
8. Kurt Busch
His fourth-place finish at Bristol last week was only the fourth top-five finish for Furniture Row Racing in 203 career starts. Busch has four top 10s in his last six starts at Auto Club Speedway, including a ninth-place finish in last year’s rain-shortened event with the underfunded Phoenix Racing team.
9. Greg Biffle
Auto Club Speedway has not been the best place for him. Although he finished sixth last year, he has placed outside the top 10 in eight of the last 12 races there.
10. Paul Menard
This marks the fourth consecutive year he’s been in the top 10 in points after four races — the only driver to accomplish that feat. Was 10th at Las Vegas, but Auto Club has not been as good to him. He’s never finished in the top 10 in 10 starts at the 2-mile oval.
11. Aric Almirola
Placed 16th at Las Vegas two weeks ago. He and Richard Petty Motorsports have shown greater success on the bigger tracks, going back to the end of last season.
12. Marcos Ambrose
Has finished between 18th and 22nd in each of his four starts this season.
13. Jeff Burton
Has one top-10 finish in his last seven starts at Auto Club Speedway. Has finished on the lead lap only once this year, placing 10th at Phoenix.
14. Jamie McMurray
His 10th-place finish at Bristol last week was his first top 10 in the last 26 races, dating back to last year. Has not finished in the top 10 in his last 11 starts at Auto Club Speedway.
15. Juan Pablo Montoya
Has not had a top-10 finish in his last 25 starts, dating back to an eighth-place finish at Michigan in June.
16. Bobby Labonte
Has finished better than 20th only twice in his last 15 starts at Auto Club Speedway.
Specifically for the "fantasy" aspect. (ASP, Inc.)
C-List 1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Never run in Cup at this track but finished second and fourth in his last two Nationwide races there. One of only five drivers to have completed every lap in the first four Cup races of this season.
2. AJ Allmendinger
Car finished 21st at Las Vegas with Austin Dillon driving. Team placed in the top 10 at Auto Club Speedway in rain-shortened race a year ago with Kurt Busch driving.
3. David Gilliland
Finished 28th at Las Vegas. Has never finished better than 17th in 11 starts at Auto Club.
4. Casey Mears
Finished 29th at Las Vegas, two laps behind leaders. Has best finish of 11th in his last seven races at Auto Club.
5. Dave Blaney
Placed 24th at Las Vegas, finishing one lap behind the leaders. Has not finished better than 29th in last 10 Auto Club starts.
6. Danica Patrick
After finishing eighth in Daytona 500, she’s placed 39th (Phoenix), 33rd (Las Vegas) and 28th (Bristol). She’s been at least five laps off the leaders in each of the last three races.
7. Travis Kvapil
Has one top-20 finish in 10 starts at Auto Club.
8. David Ragan
His 21st-place finish at Bristol was the first time he’s finished inside the top 30 this year Has finished 20th or better in only two of his last 30 starts with team, dating back to last year.
9. Landon Cassill
Has not finished better than 32nd in three starts this year (did not run at Daytona).
10. David Reutimann
Since placing 16th in Daytona 500, has not finished better than 25th in the three races since. Placed 34th at Las Vegas.
11. David Stremme
Finished 32nd at Las Vegas. Placed 39th at Auto Club last year.
12. Josh Wise
Finished 35th at Las Vegas. Placed 37th at Auto Club last year in only start there.
13. JJ Yeley
Has not finished better than 35th in his last three starts at Auto Club Speedway.
14. Michael McDowell
Has run a total of 47 laps in the last two races, finishing last at Las Vegas and 42nd at Bristol.
15. Scott Riggs
Seeking to make second start of the season after failing to qualify at Bristol.
16. Joe Nemechek
Has failed to finish seven of his last eight races at Auto Club Speedway, finishing no better than 34th.
17. Mike Bliss
Has completed 37 of 816 possible laps in two starts this year, finishing 42nd at Phoenix and 43rd at Bristol.
18. Timmy Hill
Seeking to make first start of the Cup season.
The Andrettis give us insight into Indianapolis Motor Speedway
There are few families whose names are more inextricably linked to the history, heritage and heartbreak of the Indianapolis 500 than the Andrettis. While the Unser Family has the record for most Indianapolis 500 victories with nine, the Andretti Family has encountered more adversity than success at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
HEAD COACH: Mark Helfrich, First Season |
OFF. COORDINATOR: Scott Frost |
DEF. COORDINATOR: Nick Aliotti
New head coach Mark Helfrich’s transition will be eased by the presence of two potential Heisman Trophy candidates in sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota and junior running back De’Anthony Thomas.
Mariota, who combines laid-back Hawaiian cool with textbook dual-threat abilities, set school records for completion percentage (68.5) and total touchdowns (38) in his first season as the starter.
Used as a complement to LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner the last two years, Thomas will get a shot as the primary back in 2013, though the Ducks will limit his carries to protect the 176-pound jitterbug. Sophomore Byron Marshall and 5-star recruit Thomas Tyner will also be involved in the running game.
There are enough veteran targets on hand in receivers Josh Huff, Keanon Lowe and Bralon Addison, plus tight end Colt Lyerla, that speculation around Eugene is that the Ducks will throw more often this fall, after being predominantly a running team under Chip Kelly.
The offensive line features a trio of all-conference candidates in center Hroniss Grasu, left tackle Tyler Johnstone and right tackle Jake Fisher, but the guards will be relatively new faces. Senior Mana Greig started two games last fall before a knee injury ended his season, and junior Hamani Stevens is a big body who could provide the physical presence the Ducks need to prove they’re not just a finesse offense.
The Ducks return six of their top seven defensive linemen and their entire two-deep in the defensive backfield, including All-America candidate Ifo Ekpre-Olomu at cornerback.
The question mark is at inside linebacker, where Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso have graduated, and juniors Derrick Malone and Rodney Hardrick sat out spring practices. Junior college transfer Joe Walker and converted outside linebacker Tyson Coleman could be factors there.
Oregon also needs to replace top NFL Draft pick Dion Jordan, but his shoulder injury late in 2012 provided a chance for backup Tony Washington to earn the confidence of his coaches and teammates. On the other side, the Ducks are waiting for senior Boseko Lokombo to blossom into a consistent impact player, after flashes of greatness the last three seasons.
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Marcus Mariota, QB – Had 11 TDs and four INTs in his first five games, then 21 TDs and two picks in the final eight.
De’Anthony Thomas, RB – Ducks need to limit his exposure, and hope his explosiveness makes for quick drives without a lot of carries.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB – Turnover machine in 2012 could face less work in 2013 now that opponents have seen what he can do.
The Ducks could have two new kickers, with heralded freshman Matt Wogan set to challenge inconsistent placekicker Alejandro Maldonado, and Dylan Ausherman replacing punter Jackson Rice. Ausherman is a junior college transfer who redshirted last fall. Thomas is a threat in the return game — he scored a touchdown on the opening kickoff of the Fiesta Bowl — but he struggled with his decision-making as a punt returner last fall. Addison is a more sure-handed option on punt returns.
The Ducks enter their most intriguing season since Kelly took over in 2009, with the Helfrich era kicking off and the Ducks looking to regain their throne after failing to win a fourth consecutive conference championship in 2012. They “settled” for their second straight BCS bowl victory, over Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl, but the departure of Kelly to the NFL a few weeks later made 2013 a potentially historic transition year for the program.
The promotion of Helfrich was intended to maintain momentum, and he managed to keep the bulk of the coaching staff and the recruiting class together. But in six years with the Ducks, Kelly grew to become one of the most respected football minds in the country, and a hiccup or two in his absence wouldn’t be surprising, particularly against Stanford, the only team to beat Kelly twice in his four years as head coach.
1917: Oregon showed the country just what Western football was about by whipping mighty Pennsylvania, 14-0, in the Rose Bowl. All-America Shy Huntington ran for a touchdown, passed for another and picked off three passes in a tremendous individual display. (There weren't a lot of cameras in 1917, so here's a video of Oregon's archivist discussing the importance of this game.)
Trailing 40-21, with under 5:00 to play, Oregon stages a remarkable comeback to overcome UCLA. QB Dan Fouts, who had been benched earlier in the game, leads the comeback and secures the 41-40 win by throwing a 15-yard TD pass to Greg Specht with 0:21 to play.
Oregon races to a 24-6 lead and holds off Michigan in a 31-27 thriller at Autzen Stadium. The Wolverines entered the game leading the nation in rushing (307.3 ypg) but were held to minus-three yards on the ground on 19 carries.
The second-ranked Ducks used 350 passing yards from Joey Harrington and three interceptions by Steve Smith to throttle number-three Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl, 38-16. Little over a month earlier, the Buffaloes had trampled Nebraska, 62-36, but were no match for Oregon.
#1. The Ducks Secure Their Run To The 1994 Rose Bowl
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With less than a minute left, Pac-10 bully Washington had the ball on the Oregon eight, down 24-20. Many expected the Huskies to extend their league primacy with a touchdown, but Kenny Wheaton picked off a Damon Huard pass and went 97 yards for TD that clinched a 31-20 win and keyed the Ducks’ run to the Rose Bowl.
Mario Djurovski, a midfielder for Muangthong United in the Thai Premier League, celebrated a goal recently in awesome fashion.
Mario Djurovski, a midfielder for Muangthong United in the Thai Premier League, celebrated a goal recently in awesome fashion (at the 25-second mark): he takes off his shorts, puts them on his head and taunts the crowd. Of course, his celebration is short-lived as the grippy-wearing player was handed a red card, and sent on his way. Still, I'll say this, he's got balls...which are fortunately covered by his shirt.
Zambiasi was a tackling machine at Georgia, leading the team in stops for three consecutive years from 1975-77. He finished with a UGA record 467 career tackles and posted the single-season record with 165 tackles in 1977 (since broken). The three-time All-SEC performer helped lead the Bulldogs to an SEC title in 1976. Zambiasi was drafted in the 10th round of the 1978 NFL Draft, but instead opted for the Canadian Football League. He earned CFL Defensive Player of the Year honors with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame in 2004.
One of the leaders of the 1967 Liberty Bowl team, Scott also helped the Dawgs to the 1968 SEC Championship with a 8-0-2 regular season and subsequent Sugar Bowl bid. Scott led the SEC in interceptions both years he lettered and also led the league in punt and kick return yardage in ’68. He is the UGA record holder for career INTs and INT return yards with 16 picks for 315 yards. Scott was drafted in the seventh round of the 1970 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. He went to five straight Pro Bowls and played in three Super Bowls, earning MVP honors in the VII edition of the big game.
This run-stuffer helped lead the Dawgs to a 25-6-2 record in his three years in Athens, including two SEC championships in ’66 and ’68. His time in college included trips to the Sugar, Cotton and Liberty Bowls. As a consensus All-American and team Captain in 1968, Stanfill earned the prestigious Outland Trophy – given to the best lineman in the nation each year. The three-time All-SEC tackle’s most memorable game might have been a 51-0 drubbing of the Gators in a driving rainstorm in which Vince Dooley allowed Stanfill to play quarterback. Many UGA fans believe that 1968 8-1-2 team should have won the National Championship instead of Ohio State. He was selected with the 11th overall pick in the 1969 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins.
Greene ended his college career as the winningest quarterback in college football history with 42 victories. A model of efficiency, Greene holds the SEC record for consecutive pass attempts without an interceptions with 214. Only one year after earning SEC Freshman of the Year honors, the burly passer broke a 20-year drought in Athens by leading his team to the 2002 SEC Championship – earning the SEC Championship Game MVP as well. His 11,528 passing yards not only set a Georgia school record but also still stand as the SEC’s all-time record. His 72 touchdowns passes are a UGA career record. Greene was drafted by the Seahawks in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft.
By the time Murray finishes his final season in Athens, he will own every major SEC passing record in history. He will have thrown for more yards and more touchdowns than anyone in SEC history by the halfway mark of 2013 barring any unforseen incidents. He already owns most single-school records for Georgia and has led the Dawgs to back-to-back SEC East championships — coming within five yards of what would have likely been a national championship. With a win in Atlanta at the end of the season, Murray could become arguably the greatest player in school history (yes, possibly including the great running back from Wrightsville).
Stinchcomb was a three-year starter at Georgia and a two-time All-American. At one point, the big ugly started 32 consecutive games, earning Lombardi Award finalist status in 1998. He was awarded the Draddy Trophy that year, given by the National Football Foundation to the player with the best combination of academics, community service and on-field performance. The talented hog molly was selected with the 19th overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders.
The versatile defensive back/rover was a two-time consensus All-American who finished fifth in the Heisman balloting in 1983 – the highest finish by a defensive back in history at the time. The two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year posted 14 career interceptions at UGA and was inducted into the NCAA Football Hall of Fame in 2000. Legendary head coach Vince Dooley called him “the best defensive player I’ve ever coached.” His run in Athens included the 1980 National Championship, three SEC crowns and a 43-4-1 overall record. He was selected in the third round of the 1984 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. Hoage played 13 seasons in the league for six different teams.
The most versatile player in Georgia history excelled in all three facets of the game – offense, defense and special teams. The consensus All-American’s astounding career culminated with the Bronko Nagurski Trophy in 1998 as the nation’s top defender. Bailey, who played in all 33 possible games, starting 24, played over 1,000 plays in ’98. He posted 52 tackles, three INTs, 10 passes broken up and four tackles for a loss on defense, while catching 47 passes for 744 yards and five scores as a receiver. For good measure, he added 84 yards rushing (16 att.), 261 kick return yards and 49 punt return yards. He finished his stellar career with 147 career tackles, eight career INTs, 59 career receptions, 978 career yards and five offensive TDs. The extraordinary coverman was selected with the seventh overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft by the Redskins. As one of the best cornerbacks of this generation, Bailey was a Pro Bowler in 10 of his 12 NFL seasons – an NFL record for anyone at his position.
Pollack is the most decorated defensive player to ever put on the Red and Black. His 14-sack 2002 season set a school record for sacks in a single-season; he is also No. 3 with his 12.5-sack 2004 campaign. His 36.0 career sacks are the career benchmark for any Bulldog. He is one of only two three-time All-Americans in school history. On his mantle sits two Ted Hendricks Awards for the nation’s top defensive end (2002, 2004), the Lombardi Award given to the nation’s top lineman (2004), the Bednarik Award given to the nation’s top defensive player (2004) and the Lott Trophy given to the nation’s top impact defensive player (2004). The 2004 SEC Player of the Year started 44 of his 50 career games, finishing with 283 tackles, 58 tackles for a loss, four INTs and 18 passes broken up. Pollack was drafted with the 17th overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.
The first ever three-time All-American in UGA history, Walker redefined the way running backs played the game. His physically abusive style of play made him arguably the most talented runner to ever carry the ball on a college gridiron. He is the only player to finish in the top three in the Heisman voting in every season he played football. During his freshman season, Walker set the NCAA freshman rushing record with 1,616 yards (and 15 TDs). He helped the Dawgs to the 1980 National Championship. As a sophomore, Walker topped his own marks with 1,891 yards and 18 TDs. In 1982, Walker earned the most coveted trophy in all of sports when his 1,752 yards and 16 scores earned him the Heisman Trophy (as well as the Maxwell Award). Georgia finished with a sterling 33-3-1 record, three SEC titles and three Sugar Bowl appearances during Walker’s time in Athens. When he left for the USFL/NFL, he owned 10 NCAA records, 15 SEC benchmarks and 30 UGA school records. His 5,259 yards are still an SEC rushing record. Walker was inducted into the NCAA Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
One of the most physically gifted players to ever play at South Carolina, Rice redshirted as a freshman and left after only two seasons in Columbia — which was plenty of time for Rice to make his mark. He, at the time, posted the No. 1 (1,143 yards) and No. 3 (1,090 yards) receiving seasons in school history (broken in 2010 by Alshon Jeffery’s 1,517 yads). His 72 (2006) and 70 (2005) catches were good for third- and fourth-best all-time (again, Jeffery set the current record with 88 last fall). Rice’s 13 TDs in 2005 still stands as the school’s all-time single-season record. Rice ranks fourth all-time with 2,233 yards, first with 23 TD catches and is the only Gamecock to ever score five TDs in a game (FAU, 2006). In two bowl games, Rice set every USC postseason receiving mark with 12 receptions for 191 yards against Mizzou in 2005 Independence Bowl. He followed that up with an eight-catch, 39-yard, TD performance the next year against Houston in the Liberty Bowl.
This talented All-Pro defensive end led the team in sacks four straight seasons, finishing with 23.5 total quarterback traps – good for third all-time in school history. The All-SEC performer was selected with the 13th overall pick in the first round of the 200 NFL Draft by the New York Jets.
This smooth, handsy receiver is No. 2 all-time in school history for TD catches with 19, No. 4 all-time in receptions with 156 and No. 6 all-time with yards at 2,211. He went on to win a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers as a consummate professional. His longest lasting legacy on the football field would have to be the advent of the “Lambeau Leap.”
Provence ranks No. 2 in school history in many of the most important defensive statistics. His 401 career total tackles, 26.0 career sacks and 35.0 career tackles for a loss each rank No. 2 in Gamecock history. He set the single-season sack record with 10 in 1982 (since broken). Provence was drafted by his home state Atlanta Falcons in the third round of the 1983 NFL Draft.
Ellis completely rewrote the passing record books at South Carolina. He claimed 20 different school records in his time as the starter in Columbia. His 425 yards against ECU in 1987 were a single-game school record. His 53 attempts against Virginia Tech in 1988 were a school record. His 241 completions in 1987 were a single-season school record. His 20 passing TDs in 1986 were a school record. His 46 career TDs were also a school record. All of these have since been broken by the guy on the next slide, but Ellis is still prominently featured in the “career” section of the record book. His 1,350 career attempts and 9,953 yards are still tops at South Carolina. His 3,206-yard 1987 season is still the best in school history as well. The three-time team MVP led the Cocks to back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history.
If it was up to Steve Spurrier, Lattimore might be the greatest Gamecock of all-time. The in-state five-star recruit immediately produced at an elite level, scoring a touchdown in each of his first six college games. He rushed for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns as a true freshman on the first SEC East championship team in Columbia. Unfortunately, his next two seasons were cut short by horrific knee injuries. For his career, Lattimore scored 41 total touchdowns in just 29 games while producing 118.8 yards from scrimmage for his career. He was unstoppable when on the field and was just as important to the Cocks off the field and in the locker room as he was in the backfield. There is a reason that 2010-12 is the most successful three-year run in school history.
After Todd Ellis totally reworked the passing record books, Taneyhill came through and rewrote many of the same records. Taneyhill has the best two games passing in school history with a 473- and 451-yard performances. He has the top four games in school history in terms of completions. He owns the single-season TD mark with 29, completion percentage record with 67.1% and total completions with 261. He obliterated the career TD mark of 49 with his 62 scoring throws. The SEC Offensive Freshman of the Year finished No. 2 on the all-time yards chart with 8,782 yards. Most importantly, however, the trademark longhaired gunslinger led South Carolina to its first-ever bowl win in the 1995 Carquest Bowl victory over West Virginia. Taneyhill was the MVP.
After just two seasons, Clowney has quickly established himself as one of the school’s greatest players. And after his junior season this fall, he could easily become the program’s single-best player. The freakish defensive end has 90 total tackles, 35.5 tackles for loss, 21.0 sacks and eight forced fumbles over two seasons in Columbia. The SEC Freshman of the Year (2011) also earned SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors (2012) and won the Hendricks Award as the nation’s best defensive end (2012). The unanimous All-American is all but assured to add some trophies to his case in 2013.
As high school standout in Georgia, Sharpe left an indeliable mark on South Carolina football. He set school records for receptions with 169, yards with 2,497 and touchdowns with 17 (all of which have since been broken). He also set the single-season catches record with 74, touchdowns with 10 and was the first receiver to ever top 1,000 yards in a season (1,106). He is still only one of three players to ever top the 1,000-yard mark. The two-time All-American also set a Carolina record with a 104-yard kick return – the longest play in school history. A perennial All-Pro with the Green Bay Packers, Sharpe saw his stellar career cut short with head and neck injuries. Is the brother of Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe.
There is little doubt who the best player in South Carolina history is as Rogers not only holds most every rushing record but also has the school’s only Heisman Trophy. The All-American led the nation in rushing in 1980 with 1,894 yards – which broke his own single-season school record when he was second nationally in 1979 with 1,681 yards. He is the Gamecocks’ all-time leading rusher with 5,204 yards, and only Marcus Lattimore player has scored more TDs than Rogers’ 33. Rogers topped the 100-yard mark in 27 of his 46 collegiate games, including an insane 22 straight 100-yard efforts to end his amateur career. As the first overall pick in the 1981 NFL Draft, Rogers went on to win NFL Rookie of the Year honors with the Saints after he led the league in rushing in his first season. He went on to win a Super Bowl with the Redskins in 1988.
Brad Edwards intercepted Clemson quarterback Rodney Williams and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown to clinch South Carolina's 20-7 win over the rival Tigers. The game was the highest rankings of both teams in the storied rivalry, with USC No. 12 and Clemson No. 8 heading into the matchup. South Carolina's 'Black Death' defense surrendered just 11.8 points per game and the team finished ranked No. 15 after a loss to LSU in the Gator Bowl.
George Rogers continued his outstanding season with 177 yards and two touchdowns -- his 20th straight 100-yard game -- and South Carolina edged Wake Forest 39-38 to improve to 8-2. Rogers would go on to win the school's only Heisman Trophy with 1,894 yards and the Gamecocks finished the season with a loss to Pittsburgh in the Gator Bowl.
Former Mr. Ohio Ryan Brewer scored three touchdowns as South Carolina upset Ohio State 24-7 in the Outback Bowl to cap an amazing turnaround season. The Gamecocks had lost 21 straight games entering the season, but second-year coach Lou Holtz directed the team to seven wins in its first eight games. In the bowl game, Brewer replaced 1,000-yard rusher Derek Watson, who was suspended by Holtz, and Brewer accounted for 219 total yards.
Second-year coach Joe Morrison capped a remarkable regular season with a 22-21 win at Clemson, which still stands as the only 10-win campaign in school history. The Gamecocks, who were 5-6 the year before, defeated Georgia, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Florida State before capping the year with a win over its archrival. The Gamecocks went on to lose the Gator Bowl to Oklahoma State and finished No. 11 in the AP poll.
South Carolina clinched its first SEC East title with its first win in Gainesville, as Marcus Lattimore ran for 212 yards and three touchdowns in a 36-14 beatdown of Florida. Coach Steve Spurrier enjoyed the milestone moment at the expense of his alma mater, where he won a Heisman Trophy and coached a national championship team. The Gamecocks finished the regular season 9-3 before losing to Auburn in the SEC title game and Florida State in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.