Drew Cheripko, Lyle McCombs

UConn is first victim of FCS upset in loss to Towson, South Alabama loses too

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On an opening night that saw Kent State escape an upset bid by an FCS opponent, the UConn Huskies were not as fortunate. Towson upset the host Huskies 33-18. UConn was later joined by South Alabama, who lost on the final play of the game to Southern Utah.

UConn opened the scoring in the first half but Towson’s Sterlin Phifer caught one touchdown pass from 23 yards and rushed for a five-yard score to give the Tigers their first lead and they never looked back. Towson shut down the Huskies in the second half and held them to fewer than 100 rushing yards.

Towson is certainly a respectable program in the FCS ranks, ranked 11th in the nation by The Sports Network, and UConn certainly has some rebuilding to go so the upset should not be considered too shocking. But this was hardly the sort of debut the brand new American Athletic Conference (old Big East with some Conference USA mixed in) would have wanted to see. Paul Pasqualoni would have preferred a better outcome as well as the pressure on his job is already elevating before the first college football Saturday. Not too look too far ahead, but Louisville also  would have preferred to see a different outcome as well. You know, strength of schedule and conference respectability and all…

Connecticut will have some extra time to let this all sink in before returning to the field against another team from the state of Maryland. The Huskies host the Maryland Terrapins on September 14 after a bye week next week.

There were some other close calls for FBS teams taking on FCS opponents on college football’s opening night. As referenced earlier, Kent State managed to survive a scare from Liberty but had to do so largely without Dri Archer. Illinois State gave Ball State a battle in the first half but Ball State pulled away in the second half for a win.

Other FCS teams did not fare so well. Indiana State was blown out by Indiana, although one Sycamore player did manage to get ejected as a result of the new targeting rules.

UPDATE (11:56 p.m. ET): Southern Utah pulled off a second FCS victory against an FBS program. Colton Cook‘s 28-yard field goal gave the visiting Southern Utah a 29-28 victory at South Alabama as time expired.

NCAA Division 1 Council turns down proposed June signing period

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 05:  A detail of giant NCAA logo is seen outside of the stadium on the practice day prior to the NCAA Men's Final Four at the Georgia Dome on April 5, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The fight for an early signing period will continue, but a proposed rule to open up a signing period in the month of June has been rejected by the NCAA’s Division 1 Council.

According to the Associated Press, the council modified the proposal for flexibility of the recruiting calendar. The June signing day proposal was removed after a recommendation from the NCAA’s football oversight committee. The stripping of the June signing period proposal was not to be unexpected, and the overall push for an early signing day continues with the focus shifting more to a period after the regular season but still before the typical February signing period.

While the proposed summer signing day may have been eliminated, the council will continue to leave the option of a possible December signing period on the table. A final vote on the December signing period is scheduled for April. The Collegiate Commissioners Association must approve the change before it can go into action. If the April vote allows for an early signing period, it could potentially be put in place for the Class of 2018, meaning high school players could begin signing with their desired college programs this December.

As a reminder, national signing day is the first Wednesday of each February, with this year’s signing day falling on February 1.

Northern Michigan OL Anthony Herbert passes away

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Northern Michigan offensive lineman Anthony Herbert has passed away following a workout Tuesday, the school has confirmed. He was 20.

Herbert is the second college football player to pass away in less than a week. His passing comes as Oregon has come under fire with three players hospitalized after a grueling workout, for which the Ducks’ strength coach has been suspended without pay for one month.

“Anthony’s passing is felt deeply by many,” NMU athletic director Forrest Karr said in a statement. “He made a positive impact on our campus and was everything we hope for in a student-athlete. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and teammates, and we are focused on supporting them during this difficult time.”

Officials cited by ESPN state Herbert participated in a Tuesday workout, ate breakfast and returned to his dorm room, where he passed out. EMTs unsuccessfully attempted to revive him, and he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

“In my brief time with Anthony, I could tell that he was a great young man,” head coach Kyle Nystrom said. “He was well respected by his coaches and teammates and was a leader on the offensive line. We are devastated by this tragedy, and we are keeping his family in our prayers.”

A native of Lapeer, Mich., Herbert started every game at left guard as a redshirt sophomore in 2016. He was a member of the All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference All-Academic Team.

Pac-12 announces 2017 schedule

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Sam Darnold #14 of the USC Trojans scrambles prior to throwing a touchdown pass in the third quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the 2017 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 2, 2017 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Pac-12 announced its 2017 schedule on Wednesday, beginning with a New Mexico State-Arizona State/North Dakota-Utah double-header and ending with the conference title game, once again set for Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on the first weekend of December.

The headliner is USC, the league’s presumed champion and best shot at snapping its 12-year streak without a national title, playing 12 consecutive games without a bye week. The Trojans open with home games against Western Michigan, Stanford and Texas, and play straight through their Nov. 18 finale against UCLA at the LA Coliseum.

Speaking of UCLA road games, the Bruins have a lot of them — and they’re all tough. They’ll go on the road to face Memphis, Stanford, Arizona, Washington and Utah (over a 6-day stretch) before their finale at USC. The Bruins also host Texas A&M and Oregon.

Washington’s title defense will begin with a trip to Colorado (after another pillow-soft non-conference schedule of Rutgers, Montana and Fresno State) along with a key stretch that requires a home game with Oregon followed by a trip to Stanford six days later.

For the full schedule, click here.

Washington QB Jake Browning reportedly undergoes surgery on throwing shoulder

PULLMAN, WA - NOVEMBER 25:  Jake Browning #3 of the Washington Huskies looks to pass against the Washington State Cougars in the first half of the 109th Apple Cup at Martin Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Pullman, Washington.  (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
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Washington quarterback Jake Browning has undergone surgery on his throwing shoulder, according to a report from The Seattle Times.

The Times reports Browning injured his right shoulder during a 44-18 win over Arizona State on Nov. 18, though the exact nature of the injury is unknown. Washington kept the injury hidden during the season’s final stretch, as the Huskies claimed the Pac-12 championship and reached the College Football Playoff.

Browning played through the injury, hitting 21-of-29 passes for 292 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 45-17 drubbing of Washington State just six days later. Browning’s performance suffered from there, though. He hit only 9-of-24 passes for 118 yards (with two touchdowns and no picks) in a Pac-12 Championship win over Colorado, then completed 20-of-38 passes for 150 yards with a touchdown and two picks in a 24-7 loss to Alabama.

How much those subpar performances were caused by the injury or by the opponent — or, most likely, a combination of the two — will be left to mystery.

Browning was the nation’s second-most efficient passer in the month of September, No. 3 in October, No. 16 in November and No. 66 in December. He finished the year ranked seventh, hitting 62.1 percent of his tosses for 8.8 yards per attempt with 43 touchdowns against nine interceptions.

Huskies head coach Chris Petersen has a policy of not discussing injuries, but he let on to Brock Huard’s radio show earlier this month that Browning did not finish the season 100 percent.

“I do think he was fighting through some things as the season went on because he’s a tough guy,” Petersen told the show, via The Seattle Times. “We had to do some things. Let me say this: We’ve got some tough kids on our team. Those kids, they fight through some things, and we don’t talk about who’s hurt and all this stuff, but Jake’s a tough kid and I’ll just say that. He fought through some stuff.”

Browning’s recovery time is expected to be six weeks, the paper reports.