Oregon is a legit title contender if Tyler Shough lives up to the hype

The Oregon Ducks have a lot of pieces in place to potentially get back to the College Football Playoff in 2020, and Tyler Shough is a key part of that. The skinny: With quarterback Justin Herbert departing for the NFL, the biggest question mark surrounding the Oregon football program heading into the 2020 season is whether Tyler Shough can step into those big shoes and not miss a beat. Getting defensive: While the Ducks did lose some talent on the defensive side thanks to guys aiming to go pro, the returning players can help the defense become even more dominant in 2020. ESPN’s Bill Connelly projects the Ducks will feature a top-five defense. Star pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux could be this year’s Chase Young after logging nine sacks last season as a true freshman. Nose tackle Jordon Scott is a downright dominant run stuffer. He leads a strong run defense that could get even better this coming season with the arrival of five-star linebacker Noah Sewell, who appears destined to become an instant star. Oregon

Read more

Atlanta’s ‘Ice’ Trae, three others in East melt in this hot spotlight

With the All-Star break over, the final leg of the NBA season has begun. Last week, I examined four players from the Western Conference who must improve. This week, let’s look at four Eastern Conference players who must play better in the second half. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks Young averages 30 points and 9.2 assists, shoots a respectable 44.5 percent from the field and an impressive 37.4 percent from beyond the arc. Only 21 and in his second season in the NBA, he’s already an All-Star. So it’s silly for him to lead a “needs to improve” list, right? Wrong. Clearly elite on offense, Young is dreadful on defense. In fact, the Hawks (17-41) are one of the worst defensive teams in the league when Young plays, giving up 115.9 points per 100 possessions in the All-Star’s 1,840 minutes. If that mark were to hold up for a season, it would be even worse than pathetic defenses in Cleveland and Washington — teams on pace to be among the worst in NBA history on defense. Since the trade deadline, when the Hawks added ce

Read more

Week 4 XFL power rankings: Houston remains hot, Vipers can’t break through

The XFL wanted to deliver fans thrilling action and plenty of surprises, and that’s exactly what we saw this weekend. After two weeks of the favorites coming out on top, Week 3 provided plenty of surprises that created some exciting shakeups in this week’s power rankings. When the Houston Roughnecks traveled to Tampa, many thought the Vipers would get steamrolled in blowout fashion. Instead, the Vipers delivered some unexpected excitement and battled until the end before the Roughnecks came out on top. Meanwhile, the Dallas Renegades responded in Seattle’s hostile environment to pull out their second consecutive win. Sunday’s XFL action delivered even more entertainment for football fans. Between the St. Louis BattleHawks putting on a show in front of an incredible crowd to the Los Angeles Wildcats delivering the biggest upset of the season, this weekend had everything XFL fans could hope for. Now coming off a wild slate of games, let’s dive right in to our latest XFL Week 4 power rankings with plenty of mov

Read more

Five middle-class teams primed to take advantage if playoffs expand

With the baseball world focused on the Astros’ scandal, reports surfaced in early February that MLB is considering expanding its playoff field in 2022. If adopted, seven teams in each league would make the postseason; the team with the best record in each league would get a first-round bye. Perhaps this was just commissioner Rob Manfred’s effort to distract from sign-stealing purgatory.  If so, good job, commish. The leaked proposal, which generated much chatter, has merit. Most importantly, it would hugely benefit baseball’s middle class. In recent years, baseball’s best teams have grown more dominant, leaving the rest in the dust. In 2017, three teams won 100 games — the first time that has happened since 2003. In 2018, it happened again, and, in 2019, four teams hit triple-digit wins. Meanwhile, in 2018, three teams lost 100 games in the same season for the first time since 2002. Last season, four teams lost at least that many. The best teams are getting better, and the bottom-feeders are getting worse, m

Read more