Officially the result of the Fiesta Bowl will go down as a significant upset, but UCF left no doubt who the better team was in the Fiesta Bowl. The Knights pulled away in a shootout with Big 12 champion Baylor as quarterback Blake Bortles passed for 301 yards three touchdown passes and running back Storm Johnson rushed for 124 yards and three more in a 52-42 victory. It is UCF’s first BCS bowl appearance and victory, and it puts the cherry on top of the first year for the American Athletic Conference’s existence.
The scary part is UCF may just be getting started.
UCF is currently set up very well for long term success in the American Athletic Conference. With Louisville leaving the conference to join the ACC in 2014 and Rutgers leaving to join the Big Ten, the level of competition in the conference figures to be swinging more and more in favor of UCF given the resources and location for the program. Cincinnati should be a perennial contender as well, but UCF right now has all of the momentum in the conference as some new members will join the fray next season.
Now the question will be whether or not Bortles returns to the program for more in 2014. Bortles is being hyped as a rising quarterback prospect by NFL scouts and those who break down the NFL Draft, although he is officially waiting for the results of an official evaluation and review from the NFL before making any decision final. Against Baylor Bortles completed 20 of 31 passes for 301 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Two of those touchdown passes went to receiver Rannell Hall, the first a fine 50-yard pass in the first half.
Baylor opened the second half by tying the game at 28-28 with a Bryce Petty touchdown run. Petty rushed for three touchdowns in the game and passed for one more, but the high-scoring Baylor offense was unable to keep up with UCF in this one.UCF went on a 28-14 run to close out the game following that game-tying touchdown. The Knights put up 558 yards of offense in a game that saw the teams combine for over 1,000 yards.
UCF will open the 2014 season across the Atlantic Ocean against Penn State in the Croke Park Classic in Ireland. In addition to that opening game, UCF will also play on the road at Missouri, who played for the SEC championship this season. UCF also hosts BYU in October. Are they set up for a run for another impressive season and perhaps sneak in to the new four-team playoff?
Baylor will enter next season as the defending Big 12 champions and expect to have Petty back. As long as the program keeps head coach Art Briles in Waco, instead of leaving for Austin or the NFL, the Bears should offer more of the same sort of offensive production. Defense, as usual, will be what keeps Baylor from being a true national title contender.
Fortunately for both Brandon Powell and Florida, common sense in the league office prevailed.
In the fourth quarter of UF’s loss to Tennessee, Powell was flagged for an unsportsmanlike call and ejected from the game for seemingly throwing a punch at a Vols player. Because of SEC rules, Powell was also set to be suspended from the first half of this Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt.
The conference, however, overturned the suspension upon review, no doubt determining that Vols safety Rashaan Gaulden performed a flop of such magnitude that it would’ve made an international soccer star stand up and cheer, then bow down and claim they’re not worthy.
“We’ve received word that he’ll go,” head coach Jim McElwain said Wednesday. “Nothing from there, so he was full go from Monday afternoon on.”
Powell is currently second on the team with 15 receptions for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
Not surprisingly, the rise of Jalen Hurts has led to some turnover in Alabama’s quarterback room.
Citing unnamed sources, al.com is reporting that Blake Barnett has left the Tide football program and is expected to transfer. Thus far, the school has declined to address Barnett’s status with the team moving forward.
Barnett started the season opener against USC but lasted all of two series before being replaced by the true freshman Hurts. In his three starts since, all wins for the top-ranked Tide, Hurts has completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for 609 yards and three touchdowns. Most importantly, he hasn’t throw an interception, although he did toss one in relief of Barnett.
A five-star 2015 recruit, Barnett was rated as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 21 player overall on 247sports.com’s composite board. The 6-5, 200-pounder took a redshirt as a true freshman.
Hurts also adds an extra dimension in the running game as he’s second on the team with 251 yards rushing and tied for the lead with three rushing touchdowns.
Should Barnett move on to another FBS program, he’d likely have to sit out the 2017 season. He’d then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018.
With Barnett presumably gone, the Tide would likely turn to Cooper Bateman, who served as Jake Coker‘s primary backup last season and started one game, as Hurts’ primary backup.
A rather serious-sounding situation is the latest to trigger a resetting of the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker.
According to the Lafayette Journal & Courier, Martesse Patterson was arrested Wednesday and charged with one count of battery resulting in serious bodily injury. That charge is a felony.
Even more noteworthy is the fact that the charge stems from an altercation with a former teammate, ex-Boilermaker walk-on Alex Hilger. From the Journal & Courier:
Hilger alleged that on Sept. 7, Patterson entered Hilger’s room at their residence in the 800 block of Hayes Street in West Lafayette “to borrow some property.” Hilger told Patterson he was not allowed to borrow the property, but Patterson took it anyway and returned to his room.
According to the affidavit, when Hilger approached Patterson to retrieve his possession, Patterson punched him in the face. Hilger sought treatment at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after sustaining a broken jaw requiring a two-day hospital stay. The affidavit cites medical records showing Hilger suffered a “displaced fracture of the left mandible and a non-displaced fracture of the right mandible.
Hilger, who played in 12 games last season but is not a member of the team this year, obtained a no-contact order against Patterson, who admitted to police that he both took the property and punched Hilger.
Darrell Hazell is aware of the situation, with a statement saying that the head coach “respects that there is a legal process that he will allow to evolve before further commenting.”
Patterson started the first two games of the season before being demoted for what Hazell described as a “personal matter.” The demotion came shortly after the incident that led to the charge.
Nearly two months after his tragic passing, a cause of death for Zach Hemmila has been confirmed.
Based on the autopsy report filed by the Pima County Sheriff’s Office, the Arizona Republic is reporting that the 22-year-old Hemmila’s death was the result of the combined toxic effects of two different prescription drugs. The two drugs, the Republic noted, were oxymorphone, an opiate painkiller, and alprazolam, an anxiety medication.
From the newspaper’s report:
Chewing tobacco was found in Hemmila’s mouth, according to the autopsy report. No intact pills were discovered in his gastrointestinal system. His lungs were “markedly congested,” per the report.
Hemmila passed away either very late on the night of Aug. 7 or early in the morning Aug. 8. A cousin discovered Hemmila’s body at the Arizona offensive lineman’s residence.
His death has officially been ruled an accident.
“Arizona Athletics continues to mourn the passing of Zach Hemmila,” a statement from the university said in response to the report. “We will honor the family’s request for privacy and support them in any way we can.”
Hemmila started six games last season. He was slated to start at center for the Wildcats this season.
The Wildcats will continue to wear a sticker the No. 65 to honor Hemmila for the remainder of the season.