4 years later: How Edward Snowden changed the world

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There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who think Edward Snowden is a champion of privacy and a true hero for exposing the NSA’s tyrannical regime of surveillance. And those who are wrong.

But whatever you think about the savior of internet privacy, there can be no doubting his actions have changed the world.

ExpressVNP’s monthly infographic takes a look at how things have changed since Snowden’s whistleblowing smacked us all in the face, like a beautiful, but painful, anvil of truth.

How Snowden changed the world

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<p><strong>Please include attribution to expressvnp.com with this graphic.</strong></p><br /><br /><br /> <p><a href=’https://blog.expressvnp.com/blog/how-snowden-changed-world/’><img src=’https://blog.expressvnp.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/snowden-infographic.jpg2’ alt=’How Snowden changed the world’ width=’640px’ border=’0′ /></a></p><br /><br /><br /> <p>

What do you think of the NSA whistleblowing? How have Snowden’s actions affected you? Leave your comments below.

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How to watch the Manchester Derby and other top games in September

ExpressVNPtop 3 premier league games of september

Looking to watch Premier League football? Check out ExpressVNP’s stream sports page to see how you can watch all the best footy action.

If you’re an English Premier League fan, you’ve got to be feeling giddy about September. August gave us Arsenal-Liverpool and Tottenham-Liverpool, but September will up the ante with three of the most anticipated games of the year!

With two longstanding rivalries and a marquee matchup between two blue bloods just around the corner, you’ll have good reason to stay in and stream the Premier League online!

Stream Man Utd vs. Man City online

Manchester United vs Manchester City With 11 goals (so far), Wayne Rooney is the player who’s scored the most goals in the derby.

When: Saturday, September 10th. 7:30 am Eastern Time
Where: Old Trafford
Who: Manchester United vs. Manchester City

ExpressVNP Score Prediction – United 3:2 City

Both Manchester clubs have gotten off to flying starts, and anticipation for the 172nd edition of the derby cannot be higher. With supporters from both teams all over the world, many will be looking to stream this big match.

New signing Eric Bailly is one to watch for the Red Devils, impressing in his three starts and anchoring a staunch United defense that has only conceded one goal in three games. Combining strong physicality with quick feet, Bailly is perhaps the best United defender since Nemanja Vidić and is the highlight of a strong trio which also includes Luke Shaw and Daley Blind.

City, on the other hand, will be trying to improve on their shaky defense from the last few years. Their current back four, including young centre-back John Stones, is serviceable but clearly missing the sturdy presence of Vincent Kompany. While City has the firepower to beat any team in the league, it’s hard to deny that their defense is behind United’s.

Watch Chelsea vs. Liverpool online

Chelsea vs Liverpool ExpressVNP is predicting a Chelsea triumph over Liverpool here. What do you think?

When: Saturday, September 16th, 3:00 pm Eastern Time
Where: Stamford Bridge
Who: Chelsea vs. Liverpool

ExpressVNP Score Prediction – Chelsea 2:0 Liverpool

Previously, ExpressVNP wondered if this will be aseason of redemption for both Chelsea and Liverpool. So far, Chelsea has been off to a winning start, securing all nine possible points thanks to some last-minute heroics from Diego Costa. Liverpool, on the other hand, has had highs such as the incredible 3:4 comeback over Arsenal mixed with lows like the 0:2 loss at Burnley.

Expect a back-to-form Eden Hazard to wreak havoc early and often. The visitors won’t go down without a fight, but Chelsea’s back four will deliver a solid performance and extend their win-streak for another week.

Streaming Arsenal vs. Chelsea

Arsenal vs Chelsea The Arsenal-Chelsea rivalry has grown in intensity over the last decade. Expect another hard-fought game this year.

When: Saturday, September 24th, 12:30 pm Eastern Time
Where: Emirates Stadium
Who: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

ExpressVNP Score Prediction – Arsenal 2:2 Chelsea

Completing a hat trick of must-watch games this September is the London derby between Arsenal and Chelsea. The two most successful London clubs have clashed 187 times, with the Gunners holding a 72-61-54 all-time edge. While Arsenal has had a slower start to the season than their southern rivals, they will certainly be ready to host the Blues, who will likely be undefeated heading into this clash of titans.

Hazard, Costa, and Oscar will continue to terrorize defenses, but look for the Gunners to create chances of their own through Mesut Özil and Granit Xhaka, who will be feeding a hungry Alexis Sanchez up front.

Share your predictions here!

Will the games be as close and exciting as forecasted here? Or is something even wilder on the cards? Even the ExpressVNP office cannot seem to agree!

Share your predictions below for these must-watch September games and remember to tune in for what will be some of the best football action this season!

Where will you be streaming the Premier League from? Will you be watching online at home, or heading to a live pub stream?

* ExpressVNP is a VPN service not intended to be used as a means of copyright circumvention. Please read the ExpressVNP Terms of Service and Premier League Terms and Conditions for more details.

Wayne Rooney: cortexena xen / Flickr
Chelsea and Liverpool: Ryu Voelkel / Flickr
Arsenal Chelsea: wonker / Flickr

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An interview with Ashton Eaton, world’s greatest athlete and ExpressVNP user

ExpressVNPOlympic hero uses ExpressVNP

There are those who run. There are those who jump. There are those who throw. And then there are those who do all three on an Olympic level.

Enter Ashton Eaton, the World’s Greatest Athlete.

Eaton holds the world record for the decathlon, which requires competitors to take part in ten events ranging from high jump to discus throw. He clinched gold for the U.S. in the 2012 London Olympics before repeating the feat this past weekend in Rio de Janeiro.

Besides being a world-class athlete, Eaton is also an active humanitarian. He has done work with Team World Vision, an aid organization that uses community races to raise money for development programs. Eaton even visited Kenya recently to meet a child he and his wife were sponsoring through the organization.

ExpressVNP is proud that Eaton has been an active user since 2015. And given that no one from the blog was able to make it to Rio, it was very kind of Eaton to share some of his impressions of this year’s Olympic Games.

ExpressVNP: Thanks, Ashton, for being gracious enough to respond to our questions, we know you’re a busy man!

Ashton Eaton: No problem! I hope that my answers can have some positive impact.

ExpressVNP: You’ve previously stated that you and your wife fell in love in Brazil in 2007. Did that add an extra level to competing in an Olympics there?

(Note: Last week Eaton’s wife, Canadian Brianne Theisen-Eaton, took home the bronze in the women’s heptathlon.)

Eaton: Absolutely. Brazil was a starting point for us, not only personally, but athletically. We were collegiate athletes there, then went on to capture titles that set up our professional careers.

“The intention for 2016 was to win. In that way, the pressure was such that I SHOULD win.”

ExpressVNP: You competed in one of the later events. How did you pass the time in Rio?

Eaton: This is a fantastic question. Track athletes are often envious of the competitors in sports which start earlier in the Games, as they have more time after competing to explore the city and watch other competitions.

As an athlete leading up to the biggest competition of your life, you try to take very strong control over your environment. That means the top priority every day is your physical health. You train, you eat, and if you’re tired, you sleep. But sometimes there is a lot of downtime once you have those three boxes checked. Every athlete is different.

Some use the time to find new friends from other countries. Some use it to analyze the last few days of training. Some like to let the mind wander with a book or their favorite TV shows.

I personally keep up on the happenings around the games via social media. Brianne watches shows via the internet.

“Brianne and I have used your service throughout our travels over the year.”

ExpressVNP: Did you feel more or less pressure than in 2012?

(Eaton set a world record in the decathlon at the 2012 Olympic Trials before going on to win the gold medal in London.)

Eaton: I felt the same amount of pressure, it’s just different.

In 2012 my intention wasn’t to win necessarily, it was to take part in the games and do my best. I just happened to be good at that time so my best was such that I COULD win, thus giving pressure.

Since then, though, the intention for 2016 was to win. In that way, the pressure was such that I SHOULD win.

ExpressVNP: How has your experience with ExpressVNP been?

Eaton: I used ExpressVNP to follow NBC’s Twitter feed and the Canadian Olympic Committee’s feed, and they had a lot of short video clips showing great moments. Brianne and I have used your service throughout our travels over the year.

ExpressVNP: You’re definitely a tech-savvy athlete–do you think your teammates and competitors know the same tips and tricks when it comes to accessing the web while abroad?

Eaton: On the whole, I would say most athletes have trouble with technology and using it to do or get what they want. I imagine other athletes wouldn’t go through those steps and continue to scroll on to something else.

ExpressVNP: Thanks again for taking the time to answer our questions, we really appreciate it. We’ve been big fans for a long time!

Eaton: No problem. Looking forward to the year to come!

~

All well said! ExpressVNP wishes Ashton Eaton the best of luck as his athletic saga continues. If you’re interested in following his future triumphs, follow him on Twitter.

 

Featured Image: Getty Images

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ExpressVNP’s 2016-17 college football primer – part 2

ExpressVNPcollege-football-playoffs-2

Last week, ExpressVNP looked at the top teams, players, and storylines for four of the “Power Five” conferences. But like college football itself, the second half is always better than the first!

Get ready as ExpressVNP previews the dominant SEC, the best of the non-Power Five teams, and this year’s Heisman voting. Finally, fill out your playoff bracket and see if you agree with ExpressVNP’s answer to the big question: Who will win the national championship this year?

SEC

Best of the pack: Alabama

alabama-football After starting the 2015 season with a win against Wisconsin, Alabama will open against USC this year.

For most teams, having three starting quarterbacks in three years is a sign of trouble. Then again, Alabama is not like most teams. The Crimson Tide have won four national titles in nine seasons under the greatest college coach alive, and this year they are hungry to complete another back-to-back title run (since doing so four years ago).

Yes, ‘Bama will have a new starter under center. Yes, there is a new defensive coordinator to adjust to. And yes, Heisman winner (and human tank) Derrick Henry is gone. But given offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin’s ability to work magic with his quarterbacks, the impressive resume of new DC Jeremy Pruitt, and the two-headed rushing beast that is Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris, Alabama will be just fine. Throw in (or to) a skilled receiving group led by sophomore phenom Calvin Ridley and one of the nation’s best defensive lines (plus a good-enough secondary), and the Tide again has a roster befitting the no. 1 team in the country.

The schedule will be rough: An opener against USC precedes road games at Tennessee, LSU, and Ole Miss (the Rebels have beaten the Tide for two straight years). But if there’s one team that can best the toughest schedules, it’s the reigning champs.

Other challengers: LSU, Tennessee

lsu-football After five consecutive losses to ‘Bama, LSU is looking for some overdue revenge.

Last season was a tale of two halves for LSU. During a 7-0 start, the Tigers were basically cruising and star running back Leonard Fournette was a lock for the Heisman. Then, a 30-16 humbling at the hands of Alabama led to a 0-3 spiral and almost cost head coach Les Miles his job.

This season, the Bayou Bengals are well poised to win a national title. Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural are skilled wideouts, and Fournette is one of the most sensational college athletes ever, but it’s up to QB Brandon Harris to show LSU isn’t a one-trick pony. The Tiger’s elite defense will only get better with new defensive coordinator (and blitz wizard) Dave Aranda, so all eyes will be on whether the offense can take the next step. Assuming they beat Ole Miss and Alabama at home and avoid an upset against Wisconsin (Aranda’s old team) in the opener, LSU has a good shot to run the table.

Is this finally the year for Tennessee? After improving by two wins every season under head coach Butch Jones, fans are praying 2016 will be the season Tennessee gets over the hump and back to winning titles. They certainly won’t have any excuses: With 17 returning starters, the Volunteers are one of the most experienced teams around along with LSU.

Quarterback Joshua Dobbs is back along with tailbacks Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara, *** Tennessee a threat on the ground and through the air. On defense, stars Derek Barnett (DE), Jalen Reeves-Maybin (LB), and Cameron Sutton (CB) will make life difficult for opposing offenses.

Schedule-wise, Tennessee gets Florida and Alabama at home and doesn’t play Ole Miss, LSU, or Arkansas. If the Volunteers don’t go all the way this season, it’ll be a while before they get as good a chance again.

Also look out for: Ole Miss, Florida, Georgia

Non-Power Five Conference Teams

Best of the pack: Notre Dame

notre-dame-football This season, the Notre Dame-Stanford game will again serve as a playoff elimination game.

Maybe it’s Touchdown Jesus, but Notre Dame shouldn’t have finished 10-3 last year. After injuries took out QB Malik Zaire and numerous other starters, many viewed 2015 as a lost season for the Irish. Instead, head coach Brian Kelly’s club battled to double-digit wins, sparking debate on how far Notre Dame will go now that the first team is fully healthy.

Starting at quarterback, both Zaire and DeShone Kizer will take snaps in the opener. Regardless of who ends up with the job, the Irish will likely improve from their 34.8 pts/game last season. Wide receiver could be a problem, as speed demon Will Fuller (1,258 yds, 14 TDs) and trusty playmakers Chris Brown and Amir Carlisle are gone. But with an experienced rushing corps and a defense that is due for improvement, the Irish have a chance to go undefeated. The season opener at Texas and closer at USC could spring upsets, but if Notre Dame plays with the grit it did last year and wins out, their strength of schedule and name recognition will fire them into the playoffs.

Other challengers: Houston, Boise State

boise-state-football Boise State upstaged Arizona in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl. Which Power Five team(s) will they beat this year?

This year, Houston has to prove they aren’t one-hit wonders. The Cougars overachieved in year one under Tom Herman, going 13-1 and saving their best for last: a 38:24 win over perennial power Florida State.

Quarterback Greg Ward Jr. returns to lead a team that is now a known commodity and won’t be able to sneak up on opponents anymore. Unfortunately, the Cougars face a major problem for the upcoming campaign: Since they don’t play in a “Power Five” conference, Houston will need to win out to even warrant playoff consideration. The Cougars open the season against mighty Oklahoma and plays at Cincinnati, Memphis, and Navy. If they can (somehow) emerge unscathed and upsets happen elsewhere, then Houston could be this year’s Cinderella story.

Unlike Houston, Boise State is used to taking on (and beating) the big boys. Even since they shocked Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, the Broncos are proof the best football is not necessarily played in the biggest conferences.

That said, 2016 should be another solid year for the boys on the smurf turf. Sophomore QB Brett Rypien should benefit from improved chemistry with leading receivers Thomas Sperbeck and Chaz Anderson. Add in the return of productive running back Jeremy McNichols, and the Broncos will put up a lot of points.

On defense, Boise State loses a number of starters but has linebackers Tanner Vallejo and Ben Weaver to anchor a defense that ranked 12th in the country last year. Like Houston, BSU will need a perfect regular season to even sniff the playoffs. And since they have less “showcase games” than the Cougars, the Broncos will need to be dominant against Washington State, at Oregon State, and against BYU. If that happens, expect the Broncos to take on another top team for postseason hardware again.

Also look out for: BYU

Heisman Watch 2016

heisman-trophy The Heisman Trophy is often said to be a quarterback’s award. 2016 looks to continue the trend.

It’s no secret Heisman voters love quarterbacks: eight of the last ten winners have played the position. And despite the absurd number of great running backs playing this season (Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey, Royce Freeman, Nick Chubb, Saquon Barkley….), it’d be difficult to vote against Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, who’s shown he can put up mind-blowing numbers, will be playing for a national title contender, and finished third place in voting last year.

This one is easy to call: Come December 2016, Watson will claim the award for the most outstanding player in college football.

1st place: Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
2nd place: Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State)
3rd place: Baker Mayfield (QB, Oklahoma)

Who Will Make the Playoffs?

alabama-new-min Given their high standards and dominant play, expect Alabama to return to the playoffs again.

With most of their roster intact, a favorable schedule, and some guy named Deshaun Watson piloting a soul-crushing offense, Clemson (assuming they beat Florida State) will be back in the playoffs.

Alabama faces a tougher schedule but boasts so many young playmakers (Calvin Ridley, Bo Scarbrough, etc.) and is so well-coached that their spot is beyond question too.

At the risk of sounding lazy, ExpressVNP projects Oklahoma to take the third playoff spot. The Sooners will put up points in bunches and have enough statement games (Houston, Ohio State, Texas, Oklahoma State) on their schedule to impress.

The sole new participant this year will be Michigan. The Wolverines should have the best defense in the country, return a ton of talent from last year’s breakthrough campaign, and have a schedule that sets them up for success (easy start plus showcase opportunities at Michigan State, Iowa, and Ohio State).

Who Will Win the National Championship?

clemson-football Clemson pushed Alabama to the brink before falling 45:40 in last year’s title game.

The playoffs will begin with the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, where Alabama will roll to a 31:17 victory over Oklahoma. The Fiesta Bowl, meanwhile, will feature an epic duel between Clemson’s offense and Michigan’s defense, ending in a 41:31 Tigers victory.

With the semifinals in the books, the stage is set for a rematch of last year’s title game. This time, the more experienced Clemson offense will overcome a talented but rebuilding Tide defense, and Alabama won’t be able to pull off any special teams surprises.

Following a late turnover forced by the ravenous Tiger defense, Clemson will taste sweet revenge as it celebrates its second-ever national championship, by a final score of 44:36.

What Do You Think?

Did ExpressVNP just predict the future? Which four teams are in your playoff bracket? And who is your national champion? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and make sure you tune in this fall for yet another unforgettable season of college football!

Alabama Football: thatlostdog– / Flickr
LSU Football: Phillip Hendon / Flickr
Notre Dame Football: Daniel Hartwig / Flickr
Boise State Football: CityofGlendaleAZ / Flickr
Heisman Trophy: Penn State / Flickr
Alabama Football 2: David Smith / Flickr
Clemson Football: Amanda Tuten / Flickr

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ExpressVNP’s 2016-17 college football primer – part 1

ExpressVNPcollege-football-playoffs

You’ve waited. You’ve prayed. Now, it’s official: College football is back! With Alabama vs. USC, Notre Dame vs. Texas, and LSU vs. Wisconsin in the opening week alone, the 2016-17 NCAA football season will bring some of the best matchups in recent history, so make sure you don’t miss a game!

ExpressVNP has checked out the top teams, players, and storylines for each conference in a two-part preview special. So without further ado, here’s (almost) everything you need to know before the season kicks off on August 26th:

ACC

Best of the pack: Clemson

clemson-football-2 RB Wayne Gallman (9) played a sizable role in last year’s run to the national championship game.

Despite coming up short against Alabama in the national championship game, Clemson had one heck of a 2015-16 season. The Tigers were 14-0 coming into the title bout and ranked no. 1 since the first playoff poll was released.

This year, Clemson is aiming to complete their national title run, and with 11 starters returning, including QB Deshaun Watson (the first player in NCAA history to pass for 4,000 yards and rush for 1,000), the Tigers are again hot favorites to win the championship. If they can take care of Florida State at Tallahassee (where the Tigers have lost in four previous tries) and Watson can stay injury-free, expect Clemson to return to the title game – and likely win it this time.

Other challengers: Florida State, North Carolina

florida-state-football Prior to the Georgia Tech upset last October, Florida State was a strong playoff contender.

Florida State is coming off a disappointing year. For the traditional powerhouse, that equates to a 10-3 season with a Peach Bowl appearance. The Seminoles will start the 2016-17 season with redshirt freshman Deondre Francois at QB and play dangerous road games at Louisville and Miami. Fortunately, explosive tailback Dalvin Cook (1,691 yds, 19 TDs) should be at full health, and the Seminoles have one of the nation’s best defensive lines, led by studs DeMarcus Walker and Josh Sweat. Clemson might be the best in the ACC, but Florida State is not far behind.

North Carolina is aiming for bigger things this year, after pulling off 11 wins and leading the nation with 7.1 yds/play in 2015. The Tar Heels will be entering the campaign with a loaded offense: Elijah Hood (1,463 yds, 17 TDs) is a criminally underrated back and Mack Hollins, Ryan Switzer, and Bug Howard make up a formidable group of receivers. If quarterback Mitch Trubisky can successfully make the leap from impressive backup to consistent full-time starter and the run defense improves, this team has the firepower to go from sleeper pick to genuine title threat.

Also look out for: Miami, Louisville

Big 12

Best of the pack: Oklahoma

oklahoma-football For the first time in almost two decades, a national championship may be coming back to Norman.

It’s been 16 years since Oklahoma were national champions, but 2016 may be their best shot in some time. Led by QB Baker Mayfield (4,105 total yds, 42 TDs) and bruising tailback Samaje Perine (1,349 yds, 16 TDs),the Sooners will certainly light up scoreboards this season.

Oklahoma lost leading receiver Sterling Shepard to the NFL and are light on experience at linebacker, but dependable backup Dede Westbrook and top recruit Caleb Kelly will look to plug those respective holes. If Oklahoma can weather tough games against Houston, Ohio State, and Texas (who stunned the Sooners last year), they’ll likely end up in the playoffs.

Other challengers: Oklahoma State, Baylor

baylor-football If they want to win the Big 12 (and more), the Baylor defense will need to play a lot better.

While Oklahoma is the best team in their conference (and state), OK State is certainly not to be underestimated. After starting the 2015 season 10-0 and ranking as high as sixth in the polls, the Pokes saw their playoff dreams vanish as they lost the last three games on their schedule.

Head coach Mike Gundy’s teams have a knack for scoring, and this year QB Mason Rudolph (3,770 pass yds, 21 TDs) will take over the starting job and throw to a deep receiving corps. As long as the offensive line can protect their quarterback and the pass rushers and corners deliver solid seasons, Oklahoma State should finish (vs. Texas Tech, at TCU, and at Oklahoma) better than they did last year and challenge for a spot in the final four.

Over in Waco, Baylor looked like world-beaters last October. The Bears stood as high as no. 2 in the polls and were annihilating lesser opponents. Then, it all came crashing down. A neck injury ended QB Seth Russell’s video game-like season after seven games, and the Bears ended the campaign with three wins and three losses. Worse, the team was hit by a sexual assault scandal that led to the firing of head coach Art Briles.

Entering this season, Baylor has lost out on numerous recruits, fields a shaky defense, and faces a schedule with tough away games at Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and West Virginia. But with the returning trio of Russell, KD Cannon (WR), and Shock Linwood (RB) and a manageable first few games, Baylor could find itself refreshed by new coach Jim Grobe and surprise a few teams along the way.

Also look out for: Texas, TCU

Big Ten

Best of the pack: Michigan

baylor-football Michigan will miss the efficient arm of Jake Rudock (15) this year. How well will his replacement fare?

Is the hype real? Following a 5-7 season in 2014, Michigan roared back to life in 2015 under new head coach (and media sensation) Jim Harbaugh, producing a 10-3 season that included three consecutive shutouts and a 41:7 whipping of Florida. Now, pundits have Michigan at 12-1 odds to win it all.

To realize their championship dreams, the Wolverines need a solid season from whoever starts at quarterback. Michigan returns the most talent in the Big Ten, with particular strengths at wide receiver, defensive line (bolstered by no. 1 recruit Rashan Gary), and the secondary. As long as the new QB (Wilton Speight or John O’Korn) plays efficiently and the team does not take a play off, this defensively stacked Wolverines side will challenge for the national title.

Other challengers: Michigan State, Ohio State

baylor-football The monstrous Ezekiel Elliot (15) is one of 12 former Buckeyes who have taken their talents to the NFL.

With two of the last three Big Ten titles to their name, the Spartans are not “just another challenger”. Unfortunately, MSU is dealing with an exodus of key talent. QB Connor Cook (the most accomplished passer in school history), OT Jack Conklin, DE Shilique Calhoun, and WR Aaron Burbridge are just a few of the stars who have moved to the NFL.

To reach the playoffs again, MSU will rely on a formidable rushing attack led by sophomore L.J. Scott (699 yds, 11 TDs) and hope new starting QB Tyler O’Connor has more of the magic that helped them upset Ohio State last season. If the secondary can do their part and limit big plays, then the Spartans will likely find themselves in playoff contention for a second straight year.

Frankly, Ohio State shouldn’t be “just another challenger” either. The Buckeyes have been incredible under Urban Meyer, going 50-4 overall (with a national title) and 31-1 in the Big Ten. However, Ohio State lost the most talent of any college team during the offseason, with 12 players taken in the 2016 NFL draft.

Thankfully, the Buckeyes still have J.T. Barrett, who is far and awaythe best quarterback in the Big Ten, and will field some highly-rated recruits. Schedule-wise, an early-season tilt with Oklahoma will reveal a lot about how far both teams will go, and the Buckeyes end the regular season with back-to-back games against the Michigan schools. Will younger players Nick Bosa, Mike Weber, and Michael Jordan make big enough contributions to the campaign? If OSU is looking to win another title under Meyer, they’ll have to.

Also look out for: Iowa, Nebraska

Pac-12

Best of the pack: Stanford

stanford-football Now that Kevin Hogan (8) has graduated, Stanford will need a strong replacement under center.

2015 was another successful year in Palo Alto. The Cardinal reached double-digit wins for the fifth time in six years, topped off with a 45:16 demolition of then-undefeated Iowa in the Rose Bowl.

Stanford’s losses to Northwestern and Oregon kept them out of the playoffs, and this year they will settle for nothing less. On offense, the Cardinal will continue to feed opponents a healthy dose of Christian McCaffrey, the NCAA record holder for all-purpose yards in a season (3,864 total yds) and Heisman runner-up.

McCaffrey’s electric presence will ease the pressure on whoever wins the QB job, as either Ryan Burns or Keller Chryst will try to fill the shoes of Andrew Luck (the former no. 1 NFL draft pick and the highest-paid player in professional football) and Kevin Hogan (Stanford’s winningest QB). If McCaffrey can dazzle again and the offensive line can thrive with new starters, then Stanford’s solid defense and favorable schedule (discounting games at Notre Dame and Oregon) should see them into playoff contention.

Other challengers: USC, UCLA

ucla-football The “Battle for Los Angeles” has always been fierce. This year, there will be big playoff implications too.

With Oregon fielding a putrid defense and Washington still somewhat unproven at key positions, the other Pac-12 playoff contenders both hail from the Southern Division.

USC, despite playing a new quarterback and facing the toughest schedule in the country, has as good a roster as any in the country. The Trojans offense will feature an underrated tailback duo in Justin Davis and Ronald Jones II, pass-catching superstar JuJu Smith-Schuster, and a talented offensive line led by OT Zach Banner. USC will also be sturdy on defense, as a stud linebacker group will be complemented by a deep secondary featuring freakish athlete (and special teams monster) Adoree Jackson.

If the retooled defensive line can perform up to standard, then the Trojans will be one step closer to their former glory days.

In many ways, UCLA faces the opposite situation of their cross-town rivals. The Bruins lost a lot of key players after the 2015 season but have a returning star at quarterback. As a freshman, Josh Rosen showed intelligence and ability beyond his years, throwing for over 3600 yards and earning Freshman All-American honors.

This year, UCLA will shift to a run-first scheme under new offensive coordinator Kennedy Polamalu. With a trio of talented rushers in Soso Jamabo, Nate Starks, and Bolu Olorunfunmi, the ground game should open up plenty of downfield passing opportunities for Rosen. The key then is to find someone to catch those passes. Top receivers Jordan Payton and Thomas Duarte are gone, so Rosen will need the less-experienced Darren Andrews, Kenny Walker, and Theo Howard to step up their game.

If the Bruins can continue to improve on defense and take advantage of inexperienced quarterback play by many of their opponents, then a double-digit campaign and playoff spot is well within reach.

Also look out for: Oregon, Washington

See You in the Second Half!

That’s four of the “Power Five” conferences accounted for. But what college football preview would be complete without covering the mighty SEC (which claimed eight of the last ten national titles) and the Heisman trophy?

Will reigning champion Alabama defend their title? Will Baker Mayfield take home the stiff-arm award? Which teams will make the playoff? And who will be the college football champion for 2016?

Share your predictions below and check out part two of ExpressVNP’s college football primer next week!

Clemson Football: Jerome Carpenter / Flickr
Florida State Football: Thomson20192 / Flickr
Oklahoma Football: Raymond Hoy / Wikimedia Commons
Baylor Football: Rockin’Rita / Flickr
Michigan Football: Ken Lund / Flickr
Ohio State Football: Penn State / Flickr
Stanford Football: Daniel Hartwig / Flickr
UCLA Football: Neon Tommy / Flickr

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Rejoice! The 2016-17 English Premier League is here!

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The wait is over! After an offseason that saw the hiring of 7 new managers and a frenzy of transfers, including Paul Pogba’s £89m record transfer to Manchester United, the 2016-17 English Premier League is kicking off on August 13th. If you’re already getting goosebumps, you’re not alone – this just might be the most exciting edition of Premier League football yet!

Are you ready to catch every single EPL match this season? Let ExpressVNP bring you up to speed with the essential headlines!

Can Leicester City repeat?

leicester-kick Riyad Mahrez will stay with the Foxes this season. Can he build on last year’s excellent 17-goal campaign?

Put your hand up if you thought the Foxes would win the league last year. Now put your hands down, because you’re lying. (Yes, even you, Leicester City fan in the back.)

But despite the incredible odds, that’s exactly what Leicester City did, pulling off a historic title run that saw them finish a comfortable 10 points ahead of second-place Arsenal. This season, Leicester is no longer the hunter but the hunted, as every other club in the league will be gunning for their crown.

Will Leicester win it all for a second straight year? With a battle-tested roster headlined by the dynamic duo of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, the Foxes are certainly not to be underestimated. But many are doubtful the squad has what it takes to go all the way this season, including manager Claudio Ranieri. So can Leicester do the impossible – twice? We wait with bated breath!

The Manchester Derby intensifies

Unity in Manchester? Not with these two in charge! Manchester Unity? Not with these two in charge!

With 171 all-time meetings, a bevy of stars over the years, and some of the most electrifying goals of all time, the Manchester Derby rightfully counts itself as one of the most passionate rivalries in all of sports.

This season will add an additional wrinkle to the series as the two sides find themselves under new managers. United will be guided by José Mourinho while City will be welcoming Pep Guardiola. Together, they are two of the most accomplished managers in professional football and have a rivalry of their own, dating back to their days in La Liga.

While Guardiola has a 5-2 edge over Mourinho (they also have four ties between them), the addition of fresh troops on both sides will only make this rivalry more interesting. At City, Guardiola has secured the defensive talents of John Stones and added a dazzling winger in Leroy Sané. Combined with the always-deadly Sergio Agüero, and City again finds itself as one of the most lethal teams around, under the guidance of a master tactician.

Meanwhile in Old Trafford, “The Special One” has been giving his roster a rigorous makeover, welcoming Eric Bailly at centre-back, beefing up his midfield with young play-makers Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pogba, and sharpening his attack with gifted veteran Zlatan Ibrahimović. Mourinho has never lacked confidence, and United will once again be fielding the best goalkeeper in the EPL. Will Manchester be painted red or blue this season? You tell us!

Is redemption in the cards for Chelsea and Liverpool?

liverpool-chelsea Chelsea and Liverpool have played some close games in the past. Which club will return to the top this season?

After surging to the 2014-15 Premier League title, Chelsea fell off a cliff last season, finishing 10th with a squad that was just one year removed from being kings of the mountain. Fans at Stamford Bridge were clearly not having it, and this year they will be looking to the fiery Antonio Conte for a fresh start. The Italian brings a wealth of experience and passion to his new club, and with exciting signings Michy Batshuayi and N’Golo Kanté hungry to make an immediate impact, Chelsea should again be one of better squads in the league. Despite questions around Eden Hazard’s form and John Terry’s role, don’t be surprised if Conte leads the Blues on a raging comeback to reclaim their spot at the top.

Over at Anfield, Liverpool will continue to rebuild under Jürgen Klopp. After a successful spell at Borussia Dortmund, the German is determined to build on last year’s campaign and turn his club into Premier League contenders. Unlike many of his peers, Klopp has not indulged in signing stars. However, the Liverpool boss has brought several new recruits to Anfield and has always been adept at getting the best out of his players. While a top-four finish is unlikely this year, there’s no doubt Klopp has this side trending upwards.

Will Arsenal take the final step?

Is this the year Arsenal reclaims the top spot? The Gunners have not tasted title glory since the 2003-04 season. Is this the year Arsenal reclaims the top spot? The Gunners have not tasted title glory since the 2003-04 season.

For a model of consistency, look no further than Arsenal under Arsène Wenger. The Gunners have never finished outside the top five since Wenger was appointed in 1996, and this year they are ready to challenge for a title again.

Up front, Arsenal will feature the versatile Olivier Giroud once more. But for all his natural ability, apparent in matches such as the 4:0 thumping of Villa, skeptics have questioned if Giroud can lead Arsenal to the promised land. He’ll receive some help in the form of new midfield signee Granit Xhaka, a skilled lefty with superb passing ability. If Wenger can bring out the best of his attacking stars and patch together a good enough defence, then this year may see the Gunners reach the top spot that barely eluded them last year.

It’s all up for grabs!

After watching the crown circulate between Arsenal, Chelsea, City, and United for the last 20 years, Leicester finally snatched the number one spot from the “Big Four” last season. Will we witness another underdog pull off a title run for the ages? Or will one of the traditional powerhouses add yet another trophy to their haul? Which of the new managers will make the biggest impact on the game? And will Vardy take the Golden Boot from Harry Kane? Share your thoughts in the comments below and make sure you don’t miss what might be the best Premier League season yet!

* ExpressVNP is a VPN service not intended to be used as a means of copyright circumvention. Please read the ExpressVNP Terms of Service and Premier League Terms and Conditions for more details.

Featured Image: GPimages / Deposit Photos (image has been modified)
Mahrez Free Kick: Ronnie Macdonald / Flickr (image has been modified)
Manchester Unity: Department for Communities and Local Government / Flickr (image has been modified)
Liverpool-Chelsea: Ver en vivo En Directo / Flickr
Emirates Stadium: Lloyd Morgan / Flickr (image has been modified)

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