UCF clinched a share of the American Athletic Conference championship by once again pulling out some dramatic offensive clutch play. Blake Bortles completed a 52-yard pass to Breshad Perriman with just under five minutes to play, giving No. 19 UCF (10-1, 7-0 AAC) a 23-20 lead on rival USF (2-9, 2-5 AAC).
UCF overcame a sloppy performance to put away the Bulls. UCF had five turnovers and completed just one of eight third-down conversions in the game. The defense did not have a great performance against USF, but they came through late in the game with a stop to force a long, 51-yard field goal attempt by the Bulls. That missed field goal set up UCF for their game-winning touchdown drive. On USF’s final offensive possession UCF came up with an interception of USF quarterback Mike White to pretty much seal the game.
UCF is now one win away from winning the outright conference championship, which would guarantee the Knights an automatic BCS berth without the need to worry about any tie breakers. UCF travels to SMU next week. By then they will know what the situation is for the conference. On Thursday night Cincinnati and Louisville will play with a chance to share for the conference championship still a possibility if UCF loses at SMU a few days later.
Here is how the latest AAC championship scenarios look…
UCF wins automatic bid with:
- Win vs. SMU
- Lose at SMU and Louisville defeats Cincinnati
Cincinnati wins automatic BCS bid with:
- Win vs. Louisville AND SMU defeats UCF
So for UCF it is as simple as winning their final game against a struggling SMU team. SMU (5-6, 4-3 AAC) will need to win that game in order to become eligible for a postseason game.. These two programs have a little history as former Conference USA member. UCF leads the all-time series between the two, 4-1.
USF will wrap up their 2013 season on the road next week at Rutgers. Rutgers could need the game to become bowl eligible if they lose this weekend to Connecticut.
One team paying close attention to UCF is Northern Illinois. The Huskies are ranked ahead of UCF in the BCS standings, and need to stay there in order to receive an automatic BCS Bowl invite for a second straight season. If Northern Illinois defeats Bowling Green in next week’s MAC Championship Game, the Huskies should be heading back to a BCS bowl game under the rules detailing the BCS selection process.
In an odd way, here’s the best way to show just how far Art Briles took Baylor’s football program: his interim replacement will make more money for eight months of work than the full-time head coaches at Iowa State and Kansas.
Jim Grobe will earn $1.25 million for his work from late May through the end of the upcoming football season, according to a report from Brett McMurphy of ESPN on Monday. Iowa State’s Matt Campbell will earn $1.2 million in an incentive-laden contract this year, while KU’s David Beaty will net $800,000.
Grobe’s $1.25 million deal is also the richest for any interim head coach on record. Arkansas paid John L. Smith $850,000 for 10 months of work back in 2012.
Baylor opens its season Friday, Sept. 2 against Northwestern State.
Six Washington State football players have been named persons of interest in a brawl that left two students hospitalized and even more injured over the weekend.
According to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, a group of students that included Cougars players started threw fireworks at attendees of a Pullman, Wash., party early Saturday morning. That led to a verbal altercation that soon became physical, where one suffered a bloody wound on the back of his neck and another was forced to undergo facial reconstruction surgery after suffering a broken jaw.
“We’re looking at this as a very serious felony assault level based on the injuries to two victims,” Pullman police commander Chris Tennant told the paper. “I would like to make arrests later in the week. I don’t know if that’s a realistic timeline. I expect this to be a lengthy investigation. A lot of people have to be interviewed.”
Wazzu AD Bill Moos released the following statement Monday afternoon:
“In regards to the events that took place over the past weekend, the university was made aware of the situation shortly after the incident occurred. It is our understanding there is a thorough investigation underway by local law enforcement and we will cooperate fully as we take these matters seriously. In addition, facts are being gathered within the athletic department in order to provide assistance. We have high expectations for the conduct of WSU student-athletes, and treat any alleged allegations with the utmost transparency. The WSU athletic staff is in constant communication with the Office of the President and the Office of Student Life to ensure that university leadership is aware of the continuing investigation by local law enforcement. We will refrain from further comment until the findings of the investigation are complete.”
Last week Florida head coach Jim McElwain confirmed Treon Harris will move from quarterback to wide receiver.
“Everybody has freedom, he doesn’t have to stay there,” McElwain said, via SEC Country. “But at the end of the day, look, we’re in this not here to hurt anybody’s feelings. But at the same time, it is what it is and we’ve got four guys who I’m really proud of. The room is really good and I’m excited about it.”
McElwain may not have wanted to hurt Harris’s feelings, but he may not have minded Harris taking a hint.
As first reported by Ryan Bartow of Gator Bait and later confirmed by the program, Harris has picked up what McElwain put down.
Harris, rated the No. 9 athlete nationally coming out of powerhouse Booker T. Washington High School in Miami, would have a myriad of options should he be open to playing a position other than quarterback. But, then again, if he wanted to play somewhere other than under center, one assumes he’d have stayed at Florida in the first place.
Florida’s leading returning passer — he completed 119-of-235 throws for 1,676 yards and nine touchdowns with six interceptions, good for a quarterback rating that placed 92nd nationally — Harris would have two years of eligibility remaining should he opt to remain at the FBS level.
Big Ten media days begin today — nominally a time of celebration, optimism and free food in the conference.
This year’s gathering will take on the direct opposite feel, at least at the start, as the conference continues to reel from the tragic passing of Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler.
Ahead of the event’s official opening, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany released this statement:
“We join the Nebraska and Michigan State communities in sending our thoughts and prayers to the families, teammates, coaches, administrators and friends who have been impacted by the tragic loss of Sam Foltz and Mike Sadler. While we are deeply saddened by their untimely loss, we also recognize the impact they had and the success they achieved as students, athletes, citizens and representatives of their respective communities and institutions. On behalf of the Big Ten, we greatly appreciate the enduring contributions made by these two young men, and our hearts go out to their families during this difficult time.”
Sadler concluded his Big Ten career in 2014 and was set to begin at Stanford Law School this fall. Foltz was still an active Husker.
Nebraska will skip this week’s festivities as it recovers from the beloved Foltz’s passing.