Low APR to cost Okla. St. practice time

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While not nearly as severe as UNLV’s or Idaho’s punishment, another FBS program will be getting slapped by The Association for failing to meet minimum classroom expectations.

As first reported by Jon Helsley of The Oklahoman, Oklahoma State will be stripped of one practice day per week during the 2014 season for failing to reach the minimum 930 on the Academic Progress Report (APR) required by the NCAA over a four-year period.  The Cowboys avoided a postseason ban because its two-year average was half a point above the 940 threshold.

USA Today wrote that “the Cowboys probably will cease their customary Sunday evening practice, which was a brief on-field session used to correct mistakes from the previous day’s game.”

“We are taking steps to ensure that our APR numbers improve moving forward,” OSU azthletic director Mike Holder said in a statement released by the school. “We are accountable for what we do and ultimately, we are here to serve our student-athletes and do our best to keep them on track to be lifelong contributors to society.”

While OSU failed to make the grade academically, it did so by a razor-thin margin.  From the paper’s report:

OSU fell a fraction of a point shy of avoiding penalty, with its number at 929.41 for the last four years. Had the Cowboys been at 929.50, the number would have been rounded up, meaning they missed by nine-one-hundreds of a point. The Cowboys avoided a more damaging postseason ban.

That bowl ban will be felt in 2014 by UNLV and Idaho, as previously reported, while those two teams will also be hit with the practice time penalty.  Along with OSU, New Mexico State was the only other FBS program to lose only practice time because of low APR scores.

There were also total of seven FCS teams who are banned from the postseason playoffs.

On the positive side, the Top 10 in APR scores consisted of four schools from the ACC (Duke, 992, No. 1 to keep its historic streak alive; Georgia Tech, 983, T-No. 7; Clemson, 983, T-No. 7; Boston College, 981, No. 9), two from the Big Ten (Northwestern, 991, No. 2; Wisconsin, 989, No. 3), two from the Mountain West (Utah State, 988, T-No. 4; Boise State, 988, T-No. 4) and one from the Pac-12 (Stanford, 984, No. 6).

“Ten years ago, the membership designed the APR to encourage student-athletes to stay in school and earn good grades. We are pleased to see that more and more student-athletes are doing that every year,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. “The significant academic standards adopted by our membership help us support success in the classroom to the same degree that we support success on the playing fields.”

The four-year average for the programs at the FBS level is 956, the second-lowest of 20 college sports.  The lowest?  The FCS level of football with a 947.

Below are the highest and lowest APR scores for the top seven FBS conferences (membership as of July 1, 2014):

AAC: UCF, 978; Houston, 937
ACC: Duke, 992; North Carolina 938
Big 12: Kansas State, 968; Oklahoma State, 929
Big Ten: Northwestern, 991; Penn State, 954
Mountain West: Boise State and Utah State, 988; UNLV, 925
Pac-12: Stanford, 984; Cal, 938
SEC: Missouri and South Carolina, 980; Tennessee, 932

While the Vols may have the lowest four-year average of the programs in the SEC, UT has undergone a significant academic transformation under Butch Jones, whose focus on the classroom that was vowed last year likely helped his team avoid penalties that could very well have included a postseason ban.  The Vols’ 962 APR for the 2012-13 academic year was the highest one-year mark since the system was implemented nine years ago; last summer, that number was a lowly 924.

And, for those wondering, here’s a handy infographic provided by the NCAA that shows how the annual APR is calculated:

APR Formula

Oregon State reportedly finds new head coach in Beau Baldwin

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As coaching vacancies are opening up, one report Friday night says Oregon State has filled their vacancy in the football program. Cal offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin is reported to be slated as the next head coach of the Beavers, according to Football Scoop.

The hire is expected to happen quickly at the conclusion of this weekend’s Pac-12 action. Cal is playing UCLA Friday night in the season finale for the Bears, and Oregon State plays Oregon on Saturday.

Baldwin joined the Cal staff under new head coach Justin Wilcox after eight seasons as the head coach at Eastern Washington, one of the top FCS programs over that span. Baldwin will be no stranger to the Pac-12 North, having competed against a handful of Pac-12 opponents over the years and even winning. As a head coach at Eastern Washington, and before that at Division 2 Central Washington, Baldwin has a record of 95-35 with a national championship at Eastern Washington in 2010.

Oregon State’s head coaching position opened up on October 9 when Gary Andersen mutually agreed with the university to part ways, leaving behind a buyout as part of the agreement.

No. 25 Virginia Tech defeats Virginia for 14th straight year

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It’s been a long time since the last time Virginia handed their in-state rivals from Blacksburg a loss, and it will be at least another year more until they do so again. No. 25 Virginia Tech (9-3, 5-3 ACC) extended their winning streak against Virginia (6-6, 3-5 ACC) to 14 with a 10-0 win in Charlottesville on Friday night.

Josh Jackson‘s eight-yard touchdown pass to Chris Cunningham was the only touchdown scored in the game and padded a lead to 10-0 for Virginia Tech in the third quarter. A week after making big plays for a half against Miami, Virginia’s offense was finding little opportunity with the football. Virginia Tech held the hosts to fewer than 200 yards of offense.

The last time Virginia Tech lost to Virginia was in 2003. The Cavaliers upset the No. 21 Hokies 35-21 with a 28-7 advantage in the second half. Virgina Tech’s shutout of Virginia was the third shutout victory in the series for the Hokies since 2006, all with Bud Foster as defensive coordinator.

Both Virginia Tech and Virginia will be participating in the bowl season this year. What bowl games that are heading to remains to be determined.

Iowa clobbers Nebraska in what appears to be end of the road for Mike Riley

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The Iowa Hawkeyes have been one of the weirdest teams to figure out this season. On Friday, the Hawkeye faithful were thankful the good Iowa showed up in Lincoln. Iowa (7-5, 4-5 Big Ten) blasted Nebraska (4-8, 306 Big Ten) on the strength of a 28-point outburst in the third quarter of a 56-14 victory over the Huskers. For Nebraska, it was a fitting end to a disappointing season and perhaps the final nail in the coffin of the Mike Riley era in Lincoln.

Iowa became the third team to win three straight games played in Lincoln, Nebraska in the last 40 years. Oklahoma and Texas are the only two programs to pull off that once-unthinkable feat. But since Nebraska joined the Big Ten and paired up with Iowa for a regular season rivalry in the Big Ten schedule, the Hawkeyes have enjoyed their trips to Nebraska. This just happened to be the biggest blowout in the Big Ten series, and it came one year after Iowa blew out Nebraska by a 40-10 score the previous season. For those counting at home, Nebraska has now lost two straight games to Iowa by a combined score of 96-34.

Nebraska managed to show some fight late in their road game at Penn State last week, but Iowa was having none of that this week. The Hawkeyes out-gained Nebraska 505-267 in offensive yardage and Iowa forced three Nebraska turnovers while picking up 23 first downs and allowing just 12. Nebraska went the entire second half without scoring a point, while Iowa went on a roll. This game was tied 14-14 at halftime, believe it or not.

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley took over the game for the Hawkeyes. Wadley rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns, with two of those scores coming in the third quarter.

Iowa will now go to a bowl game, while Nebraska is tasked with figuring out what to do next. Unlike at Arkansas, where the plug was pulled on Bret Bielema minutes after losing a regular season finale at home, Mike Riley is still employed by Nebraska. But for how much longer? Rumors about where Nebraska is going next continue to swirl, with UCF head coach Scott Frost being a trendy name to attach to the Nebraska job (Frost just completed an undefeated 11-0 season at UCF), but there has been no official change just yet in Lincoln.

But with an AD change this year and the way this season devolved, Riley’s days are all but over in Lincoln.

No. 15 UCF remains perfect after wild win over USF clinches AAC East

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I’ll allow you to try catching your breath before we try to recap exactly what happened in the final minutes of the War on I-4 between two AAC championship contenders. No. 15 UCF (11-0, 8-0 AAC) came out on the positive end of a wild and crazy ending to keep the regular season spotless in the loss column. UCF scored a go-ahead touchdown, gave up a tying touchdown, scored the game-winning touchdown and recovered a late fumble to close the books on a 49-42 victory over rival USF (9-2, 6-2 AAC) in the span of just two minutes.

UCF and USF combined for over 1,100 yards of offense in the back-and-forth game, but UCF scored three touchdowns in the first and fourth quarters to get off to a fast start and find a way to grab the game by the horns and drive it home. McKinzie Milton passed for 373 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 56 yards and a score to help the Knights outlast a valiant effort from Quinton Flowers and a record-setting day for USF wide receiver Tyre McCants. Flowers passed for 503 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 102 yards and a score. McCants broke the USF record for most receiving yards in a game in the first half, but ended his day with 227 yards.

USF had their opportunities to win this game. The Bulls missed a field goal in the first half and Flowers threw his only interception late in the first half when it appeared the Bulls could have taken a lead into halftime. The fumble by Mitchell Wilcox came at the end of a play that was moving the ball across midfield in the final moments. USF, the preseason favorite in the AAC, will still be going to a bowl game and should be a threat to whomever they face, but two losses along the way prevented them from living up to the lofty expectations placed on them this season.

UCF will host Memphis in the AAC Championship Game next week. The winner of that game will be nearly guaranteed a spot in the New Years Six bowl line-up as both teams are currently the highest-ranked teams in the playoff selection committee’s weekly rankings. UCF defeated Memphis earlier in the season with a 40-13 victory in Orlando, but the Tigers have been playing much better since that game. The rematch should be much more competitive next week.

UCF wrapped up a perfect regular season on the same day No., 2 Miami suffered its first loss of the year. UCF is now the only undefeated team in the state of Florida this season.