Rice (10-3, 8-1 CUSA) was already lined up to go to a bowl game for the second straight season, but now they will do so as Conference USA champions for the first time in program history. The Owls, playing at home in Houston, defended their home turf against Marshall (9-4, 7-2 CUSA) in dominating fashion, winning by a score of 41-24.
Rice out-gained Marshall y more than 100 yards, 487-371. Considering how successful Marshal has been this season on offense, that is no small feat. Marshall had recorded at least 500 yards in each of their previous five games and failed to record 400 yards of offense just twice this season (Virginia Tech, FAU). Marshall had struggled on the road at times, so the home field advantage for Rice was nothing to overlook.
Rice pulled some tricks to get on top early and running back Charles Ross had 109 rushing yards and two touchdowns to help pace the offense. The Owls jumped out of halftime with a 13-0 third quarter, which helped to keep Marshall at a distance. Rakeem Cato was 24 of 41 for 265 yards and two touchdowns but the big plays just were not there often enough for Marshall’s quarterback this week.
With the Conference USA championship, Rice should be heading to the Liberty Bowl, which hosts the Conference USA champion. This will be the first time Rice has played in the Liberty Bowl. The Liberty Bowl also has a tie in with the SEC, but seven their bowls get their pick of SEC teams before the Liberty Bowl gets to make a selection. Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Ole Miss could all be options for the Liberty Bowl to choose from.
UPDATE (4:26 PPM): Marshall has accepted an invite to the Military Bowl, which will be played in Annapolis, Maryland this season.
Not surprisingly, Ryan Finley‘s stay in Raleigh has been extended.
North Carolina State confirmed Tuesday that Finley has been granted an additional season of eligibility by the NCAA. Finley received a medical waiver from The Association that will give him a sixth year if he ultimately chooses to use it.
So, in summation, Finley has three years of eligibility remaining beginning this season and running through the 2018 season.
In April of this year, the quarterback announced that he had decided to transfer from Boise State. A month later, he moved on to NC State as a graduate transfer.
Finley started the first three games last season as a redshirt sophomore for the Broncos before suffering a broken ankle and losing the job he won in the summer to Freshman All-American Brett Rypien, with the latter further solidifying his hold on the position this spring and triggering the transfer decision.
On the depth chart the Wolfpack released earlier this week, Finley was listed as the co-starter along with redshirt sophomore Jalan McLendon.
There were a couple of developments on the quarterback front for Maryland Wednesday morning.
The one with the most immediate impact was the announcement that Perry Hills has been named the Terps’ starter at the position. Hills, a senior, had been involved in an offseason-long competition with fellow senior Caleb Rowe for the starting job.
Hills started eight games last season and ran for 535 yards, the fourth-most by a quarterback in the program’s history. He also tossed 13 interceptions; in fact, Hills and Rowe, who started the other four games, combined to toss a staggering 28 interceptions.
Of the 114 quarterbacks in passing efficiency listed on the NCAA’s stats website, Hills was 109th. The 114th? Rowe.
“After an open competition through the spring and the first two-plus weeks of training camp, we’re excited to move forward with Perry as our starting quarterback,” said first-year head coach DJ Durkin in a statement. “Perry has embraced this challenge from day one and has put in the work and shown improvement every day. He’s grasped our offense and the way we want to do things, and has shown tremendous leadership.”
In addition to the Hills news, the U of M also announced the addition of transfer Caleb Henderson. The quarterback had just confirmed via Twitter four days ago that he would be transferring from North Carolina.
A four-star member of UNC’s 2014 recruiting class, Henderson was rated as the No. 10 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 7 player at any position in the state of Virginia.
After redshirting as a true freshman, Henderson played in a pair of games last season. He attempted one pass, which fell incomplete.
Henderson will be forced to sit out the 2016 season. He’ll then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.
Expected to be Arkansas’ backup quarterback, Rafe Peavey is instead on the move.
Following up on speculation that began surfacing earlier in the day, Peavey confirmed Tuesday night that he will be transferring from the Razorbacks. Not only that, but the redshirt sophomore also revealed his destination: SMU.
Peavey, who will have to sit out the 2016 season with the Mustangs and will have two years of eligibility remaining thereafter, said he came to the decision “[a]fter much prayer and consideration,” although he didn’t give a specific reason for the move.
Peavey was hampered by a back injury that required surgery in the middle of last month. At the time the surgery was announced July 14, it was described as “minor” in nature, but its lingering nature caused him to fall behind redshirt freshman Ty Storey and true freshman Cole Kelley since the start of camp.
“We have a lot of guys in the program who do everything right, but that doesn’t automatically guarantee them a spot in the two-deep. We’ve got to earn it,” head coach Bret Bielema said following a scrimmage this past Saturday in which Peavey didn’t play a snap.
Peavey, a three-star prospect, took a redshirt as a true freshman in 2014, then didn’t see the field in 2015. After Austin Allen was named the Hogs’ starter exiting spring, Peavey was viewed as his backup entering summer.
This one might not go over too well with some/most segments of the North Carolina fan base.
According to a report overnight from the Champaign News-Gazette, former Illinois head coach Tim Beckman has been added to Larry Fedora‘s UNC football staff as a volunteer assistant coach. Beckman and Fedora have a previous working relationship, having been on the same Oklahoma State staff in 2007.
The Tar Heels have thus far declined to comment publicly on Beckman’s reported addition, and likely for good reason.
Nearly one year ago to the day, Beckman was fired as the head coach at Illinois amidst allegations of mistreatment of players, specifically those who were injured. Those allegations led to an independent investigation initiated by the university.
The firing came more than three months after a former player accused the coach of “misuse and abuse of power,” while another stated shortly thereafter that Beckman “takes the cake as the worst coach I ever met.” Athletic director Mike Thomas initially supported Beckman, but the preliminary results of an external review into the accusations forced Thomas into pulling the trigger.
Saying he was “shocked and disappointed,” Beckman labeled the allegations “totally false” in a post-dismissal statement. “I firmly deny the implications in Mike’s statements that I took any action that was not in the best interests of the health, safety and well-being of my players,” the coach stated, adding, “The health and well-being of our student-athletes is of paramount importance.”
To add another layer to this development? North Carolina and Illinois will face each other Sept. 10 this year in Champaign. It’s unknown if Beckman will be a part of UNC’s traveling party.