WHO: 9-3 Cincinnati (AAC) vs. 6-6 North Carolina (ACC)
WHAT: Belk Bowl (12th Year)
WHERE: Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina
WHEN: Dec. 28 at 3:20 p.m. ET
WHY: Cincinnati is back in the Belk Bowl a year after pulling away from Duke in a wild finish. This year the Bearcats face one of the hottest teams in the ACC, North Carolina. That’s right, the Tar Heels enter the postseason having lost to Duke but still are a dangerous team after turning their season around by winning five of their final six games just to become bowl eligible. With some dangerous offensive players, Cincinnati could have their hands full on defense.
The biggest player to keep an eye on for the Tar Heels may be tight end Eric Ebron. Few players can match Ebron’s size, hands and speed at the position, and he is going to be a constant presence all over the field, especially over the middle for Cincinnati. The Tar Heels also have a quarterback in Marquise Williams who will give the offense some options between run and pass. Williams has filled in nicely for the injured Bryn Renner.
Tommy Tuberville‘s team battled through a quarterback injury that was once thought to be the first nail in the coffin of the season. the loss of Munchie Legeaux was a setback but Brendon Kay entered in relief in admirable fashion. Kay passed for 3,121 yards and 22 touchdowns to keep Cincinnati’s offense on pace to make a run for a conference title.
This will likely become a battle between North Carolina’s up-tempo offense and the Cincinnati defense that will have to keep up. If Larry Fedora‘s system can wear down players like Cincinnati’s Greg Blair, the Tar Heels may be able to come up with a few more big plays to pull out a winning season nobody may have seen coming back in the middle of October.
PREDICTION: North Carolina 29, Cincinnati 23
BYU’s future as an independent appears to be on solid ground through at least the next couple of seasons.
That’s the biggest takeaway from Friday’s announcement at the Cougars’ annual football media day in Provo as the school confirmed ESPN had exercised their contractual option to extend broadcast rights for BYU home games through 2019.
“We’ve enjoyed a great relationship with ESPN for decades and that relationship seems to get stronger every year,” athletic director Tom Holmoe said in a release. “There is great collaboration, and I feel really good about what we are doing together. We’ve had good dialogue about extending the contract and felt this option would give us some time for additional conversations.”
ESPN agreed to an eight-year deal with the school when they originally opted to become a football independent back in 2011. The network holds the rights to all BYU home games aside from at least one game a year that will be aired on the school’s own network, BYUtv.
In addition to extending the broadcast deal another season, BYU also secured a slot in a bowl game thanks to ESPN’s backing. The Cougars, if eligible, didn’t have a set bowl game to go to in 2017 and their slot in the Poinsettia Bowl for 2018 went away when the bowl folded earlier this year. The end result is that if BYU hits the necessary six wins in the next few seasons, they’ll wind up playing in one of the many postseason games that ESPN owns, operates or televises.
The schedule-makers in Oxford were pretty busy on Friday.
Not content to just add a non-conference game against Texas Tech in Houston to the Rebels’ slate of future games, Ole Miss has also added Sun Belt foe Troy to the schedule in 2022. According to a release from the Trojans, the two teams will open the season that year on September 3rd in Oxford.
The game will be just the second ever between the two programs despite being in neighboring states and about a five hour drive away from each other. The Rebels won the previous meeting back in 2013 by a score of 51-21.
The one-off game will complete the Ole Miss non-conference schedule for 2022 and leave just one opening between the upcoming season and 2023 left for the school to fill. In addition to hosting Troy for the opener, the Rebels will also play Central Arkansas and Tulsa in Oxford, plus Georgia Tech up in Atlanta.
Troy has played their fair share of SEC programs over the years and also has a future date with Missouri on the docket as well.
2017 will mark the return of UAB football after a brief absence on the scene following a controversial disbanding of the program. As part of that return to college football, the school is in the market to schedule several future games down the road and it appears one of the Blazers non-conference games could include a trip up the highway to play in-state power Auburn.
“We’ve had conversations with them,” Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs confirmed to AL.com this week. “We’d love to play them again if we can work it out on the schedule, but finding a common date is often difficult to do some times.”
As Jacobs alludes to, finding a match in terms of dates could prove to be tricky. The Tigers have filled all their non-conference slots through 2019 and already have already agreed to home games against two fellow CUSA programs in 2020 and 2022.
On the flip side, UAB also has signed up their fair share of top-flight SEC competition as well. The school will play at Florida this season and will travel to Texas A&M in 2018 and Tennessee in 2019. Meetings with the state’s two SEC programs are rare (Auburn and UAB last played in 1996) but it could be fun to see the recently revived Blazers find a way to schedule their neighbors up the road at some point in the future.
Based on comments from both schools, the only question left now might be what the date actually is.
Another day, another resetting of ye olde arrest ticker.
According to multiple media outlets, South Florida’s Adrian Palmore was arrested this past Monday on one count of fraudulent use of a credit card and count of petit theft. The tight end’s arrest came at a Tampa-area IHOP.
In the arrest report obtained by News Channel 8, officers say Palmore tried to pay for a meal with a credit card that the victim, Rigoberto Torres Meza, claimed was stolen.
Before the meal was served, police say the victim contacted the restaurant, telling them the card had been stolen after his bank told him that someone tried to use the card.
The report went on to say that Palmore had initially said a friend gave him the card. Palmore then admitted he took the card after finding it at school and decided to use it “due to being hungry.
“We are aware of the situation and are in the process of collecting information,” the school said in a statement. “The student-athlete has been removed from participation in team activities at this time.”
Palmore is a walk-on who played in one game last season. He’s also the third Bull to be arrested this offseason, Charlie Strong’s first as USF head coach.
Defensive end LaDarrius Jackson was arrested in May on charges of sexual battery and false imprisonment. Not long after, he was arrested again on the same charges and dismissed by Strong.
Bulls defensive back Hassan Childs was hospitalized in stable condition after being shot in late March. A day later, Childs was arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated assault and one count of misdemeanor marijuana possession in connection to a road-rage incident the night he was shot. Childs allegedly pointed a gun at least twice at a man, Jovanni Jimenez, and his family and was ultimately shot three times by Jimenez.
Childs too was dismissed from the football program.