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Zach Bigalke

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Zach is a historian and author who has been covering sports near and far for various publications since 2006. Formerly the managing editor of Informative Sports and Global Turnstile, he has also been featured at Helium, FanSided, the Portland State Vanguard and other online publications and is the author of three books, including "Dispatches from Vancouver: A Non-Traditional Sports Fan in America's View of the XXI Winter Olympiad". He currently lives in Eugene, Oregon. Follow him at Twitter @zbigalke; for more info on his books, visit Amazon.

Author's Articles:

Only eight teams remain in Europe's premier club competition. Who is in the best position to advance to the semifinals? The UEFA Champions League is down to its final eight in the knockout stage, and there are a couple surprises in the quarterfinal pairings. Two pairs of perennial contenders are matched against one another far earlier than usual. There are also several surprise clubs that slipped into the quarterfinals. What we find looking at each team's record throughout the competition is a clear break into three categories. This table offers a visual representation of those divides: Highlighted in red are the two defensive...

Five months after the tragic plane crash that took 71 lives, Chapecoense made the most of its second chance to face Atlético Nacional. On November 28, 2016, the Brazilian club Chapecoense boarded LaMia flight 2933 to head to Medellín. They were set to face Atlético Nacional in the two-leg final of the Copa Sudamericana, the South American equivalent of the UEFA Europa League. But a series of oversights by both the pilots and the airline resulted in a plane without enough fuel to reach its destination and without any emergency options. Of the 77 people on the plane, 71 lost their lives. 19 of the 22 Chapecoense players traveling to...

The Southeastern Conference can seemingly do no wrong, raking in more money than any other league and continuing to hold onto the trust of the majority of the college football world. After two years of falling short, the SEC is once again sitting at the pinnacle of the game after Alabama prevailed against Clemson in last January's national championship game. Since the rise of the BCS era, the SEC has vaulted to prominence as the top conference in the sport, and that is unlikely to change in 2016 -- at least in terms of one division. That's the ugly reality that the SEC is less likely to tout in public. The SEC West has become a...

And so we come to the portion of the Power Five previews where we cover the conference that was looking in from the outside at the College Football Playoff last year. In 2015, three-quarters of the teams ended the year with winning records, but none ended them with fewer than two losses after conference champion Stanford fell at Northwestern and home to Oregon during the season. This year the league will be even more balanced, and as a result the west coast could once again shut itself out of the playoff process. For the past three years, the Pac-12 has ranked in the top two in terms of conference strength from top to bottom,...

The smallest of the Power Five conferences, and the only one that does not currently hold a championship game, managed to crown a solo champ in 2015 and earned a spot in the College Football Playoff quartet as a result. There the Sooners were steamrolled 37-17 by Clemson, and the Big 12 is just 1-3 in New Year's Six games since the shift to the CFP system. As a whole, the conference is just 5-9 in bowl games over the past two years, and while the top end of the league is healthy it continually fails to stack up against both fellow Power Five opponents and against top mid-major squads. Over the summer talk turned again toward...

Even though Florida State technically won the last BCS national championship, the College Football Playoff has been far kinder so far to the Atlantic Coast Conference than the previous system. The season before, the Seminoles knocked off Northern Illinois in a BCS Buster game that went bust, drawing the short end of the stick for the power conferences. It was almost as if the impending end of the BCS allowed the ACC to let go and play looser in the contests, resulting in a 3-0 record over the 2013 and 2014 seasons after the conference went just 2-13 between 1999 and 2012. It isn't as though the ACC has done appreciably better in terms...

In 2015, the Big Ten distributed $27.6 million to each of its 14 member schools, second only to the SEC in terms of money generated by a college conference from football. Over the past two seasons the conference has begun to turn things around in the postseason, winning the national championship with Ohio State in 2014-2015 and then getting Michigan State in the College Football Playoff last year. More importantly than just the resurgence of the top tier of teams, the Big Ten as a whole went 11-10 over the past two bowl schedules after going 8-16 the previous three years. But the Big Ten, now bloated to 14 teams, remains on aggregate the...

Independents are that random relic of a bygone period of college football history that continues to linger on. Three decades ago independents dominated the college football world, with teams like Miami and Penn State and Notre Dame all putting together championship seasons in the 1980s without affiliating with a conference. Then conferences became the primary negotiating entity for television contracts, and the era of the independent became an anachronism. Only those teams on the margins -- either with the exclusive ability to negotiate their own lucrative TV contracts or those too unappealing to any league -- would cling to independence as...

Born from the ashes of the Big East and fortified by a raid on Conference USA (and failed bids to go bicoastal with the Mountain West's Boise State and San Diego State), the American Athletic Conference first rose up in 2013 in the final year that it retained automatic-qualifying status under the old BCS system. UCF claimed the final auto-bid to a major bowl game and a win over Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl in its first year in the league, bridging the gap between the BCS and College Football Playoff eras. Though they failed to claim the Access Bowl bid in the first year of the CFP system, the AAC rebounded to separate itself from the rest of...
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