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Seven — seven!!! — turnovers leave Boise dazed, G5 hopes on the ropes

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No. 21 Boise State came into Friday night’s game in Logan riding a 12-game winning streak against Utah State.  If they’re going to make it a baker’s dozen against their Mountain West foes — and remain in the Group of Five picture — they’re gonna have to do it coming from behind.  From way, way, waaayyy behind.

Through two quarters of play, a stunned Broncos squad finds itself down 45-10 to the home-standing Aggies.  In the Broncos’ last four games, all wins, they’d allowed a combined 24 points.  The only game in which the defense had allowed more than 14 points this season came in a Week 2, a 35-24 loss at BYU.

To say that the Broncos’ offense has been off its game — and the Aggies’ defense on its — would be an understatement.  Boise came into the game 10th nationally in scoring offense (40.7 ppg) and 19th in total offense (482.3 ppg); the Aggies held the Broncos to negative first-quarter yardage and didn’t allow a first down until a couple of minutes were gone in the second quarter.

The key sequence of the half, and perhaps the game as well as the Broncos’ postseason, came late in the first and on into the second quarter, with Boise trailing 7-3 at the time.

USU’s Jake Thompson hit on a 51-yard field goal that seemingly would’ve been good from 71 yards out with 3:17 left in the opening quarter.  On the ensuing possession, true freshman Brett Rypien was sacked on a third-and-seven and fumbled, with the recovery giving the Aggies the ball at the Broncos’ 11-yard line.  Three plays later, Kent Meyers hit Hunter Sharp from 10 yards out for a touchdown.  On Boise’s next play from scrimmage, another Rypien fumble on a strip-sack was again recovered by USU at the opponent’s 15; three plays after that, LaJuan Hunt scored on a four-yard run.

So, in a span of 3:48, the Broncos saw a four-point deficit balloon to 21 at 24-3 thanks to two costly turnovers.  A third turnover, Rypien’s first interception of the game, on the drive after Hunt’s touchdown didn’t hurt the Broncos on the scoreboard as the Aggies were forced to punt for the first time since very early in the first quarter.

The Broncos actually turned it over on four straight possessions, but the Aggies fumbled a second Rypien pick back to Boise.  The visitors then turned that turnover flip-flop into a positive — a Kelsey Young one-yard run — to seemingly give the Broncos some much-needed momentum heading into the locker room.

Unbelievably, and after forcing a three-and-out with 2:30 minutes left that gave them the ball just shy of the 50 with a chance to add to the momentum, the Broncos handed the ball back to the Aggies on a Devan Demas fumble with 2:09 left in the quarter.  A 39-yard touchdown run by Meyers a minute later stripped the Broncos of any momentum they may have gotten from the Young score.

But wait, there’s more.  Seriously.

On the very next possession, with just 1:12 left in the half, a Rypien pass completion to Chaz Anderson was in turn fumbled, with USU recovering at the 20-yard line.  For those keeping score at home, that’s six turnovers for the Broncos — four lost fumbles, two interceptions.

One play later, USU put what could have been the final nail in Boise’s coffin as Meyers hit Sharp on a 21-yard touchdown catch.

But wait, there’s more.  Seriously.

With :11 seconds to play, Rypien threw his third pick of the game, which Marwin Evans returned 90 yards for a touchdown as the final seconds ticked off the clock.  And that pick came on the play right after another Rypien fumble recovered by the Aggies was instead ruled as an incomplete pass.

So, if you’re keeping a final score at home, that’s seven turnovers, five for which Rypien was directly responsible.  In the Broncos’ first six games, they had turned the ball over six times combined.

They do get the ball first to start the second half, so that have that going for them, which is nice.

One final note: The FBS record for turnovers in a game is 13 (five fumbles, eight interceptions) by Georgia vs. Georgia Tech back on Dec. 1, 1951.  Hey, it’s something to shoot for at least.

One final non-turnover note: in other Group of Five action, undefeated and 24th-ranked Houston has taken a comfortable 28-7 lead on the road into the half against 2-3 Tulane.  UH quarterback Greg Ward Jr., who came into the game as the only FBS player averaging 200 yards passing and 100 yards rushing, has totaled 263 yards of offense — 213 passing, 50 rushing.

 

Conference USA releases 2018 schedule

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Conference USA released its 2018 schedule on Tuesday, confirming that once again the league will play football this fall.

The league slate kicks off Sept. 8 with FIU’s visit to Old Dominion, while the first game involving a C-USA team is set for Aug. 25, when Rice hosts Prairie View A&M. Conference games are scattered throughout the month of September, with the first full Saturday slate coming on Oct. 6 with Old Dominion at Florida Atlantic, UAB at Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee at Marshall, North Texas at UTEP and UTSA at Rice.

While the MAC has opted for a full embrace of midweek football, Conference USA has gone in the exact opposite direction. Not one C-USA game is scheduled as of today for a weeknight — Thursday or Friday included — and only one game will be played on a day other than Saturday, a Friday, Aug. 31 visit to Wisconsin by Western Kentucky.

The most-anticipated non-conference games involving C-USA teams are Florida Atlantic’s opener at Oklahoma and on Sept. 1 and the Owls’ Sept. 22 visit to reigning American and Peach Bowl champion UCF. North Texas also has two shots to win nationwide respect for the league in its opener against SMU on Sept. 1 in Denton and a Sept. 15 visit to retooling Arkansas.

The highlight of the league schedule comes on Nov. 17 with a rematch of the 2017 title game when Florida Atlantic visits North Texas. The Owls won both meetings last season by a combined score of 110-48.

The 14th C-USA Championship will be held on Dec. 1 at the home of the division winner with the best conference record. FAU will look to become the second straight back-to-back C-USA champion, joining Western Kentucky in 2015-16.

Former LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada reportedly lands at Maryland

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It’s good to be Matt Canada.

He parachuted into Baton Rouge for a year, got paid a bunch of money, then got paid even more money to leave. And now he’s set to get paid from another school.

According to ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Canada is set to join the Maryland staff as offensive coordinator. Rittenberg notes that Canada signed a multi-year agreement with the Terps, though salary terms were not revealed. Walt Bell, who left to become the offensive coordinator at Florida State, made $500,000 in 2017, according to USA Today.

Maryland will be Canada’s seventh school to call plays for in this decade alone. He spent 2010 (and three years before that) at Indiana, then moved to Northern Illinois in 2011. He parlayed that into one season at Wisconsin, three at NC State, and then one season stints at Pittsburgh, LSU and now Maryland.

Report: Oklahoma State signs 27-year-old Australian punter

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Australian punters are the hot new commodity in college football, and word has made it back to the Land Down Under: punt the ball far and high enough and you, too, can receive a full scholarship to an American university.

According to the Latrobe Valley Express — which you now is legit, because its header as of press time already reads Wednesday, January 24 — 27-year-old Australian punter Tom Hutton has signed with Oklahoma State. Hutton hails from Newborough, Australia, about a two hour ride from Melbourne, and in December attended a training session at Prokick Australia.

“I was told about [American football] a few years ago so I thought ‘I’ll probably be too old for it now’, thinking that it was like Aussie Rules and that if you were over 21 then you had no chance,” Hutton told the paper. “But then I saw a few older blokes getting scholarships so I thought I may as well give it a go.”

Prokick Australia claims the last five Ray Guy Award winners as alums, including 2017 victor Michael Dickson of Texas. Oklahoma State saw his ability up close, as Dickson punted 11 times for a 50.9-yard average in October, nearly booting his way to victory in a 13-10 Cowboys overtime victory. “Their punter is — did he win the Ray Guy Award last year?” Mike Gundy said after that game. “He should have won it. He changed the field on us. I don’t know what the yardage is, I just know that every time we go a little bit of field position, he changed the field … he was fantastic for them.”

The story of how Hutton was approved for an Oklahoma State offer doesn’t go into details, but Hutton’s recollection of how Hutton, who works overnights at a paper mill in addition to playing Aussie rules football in the Mid Gippsland Football League, received the offer is perfect.

“I woke up after night shift on two hours sleep and this person said ‘we know where you’re going, you’re going to Oklahoma State and we’ve got the coach on the phone,'” he said. “I thought ‘Jesus Christ, can you give me half an hour? I need to have a shower and actually wake up and make sure this is not a dream.'”

According to the Oklahoma State blog Pistols Firing, Hutton will arrive in Stillwater in July and have four years of eligibility.

Arkansas adds TCU signee who signed with New York Yankees

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Austin Aune‘s circuitous sports journey, one which Chris Weinke and Brandon Weeden would approve, has taken its next stop in Fayetteville.

According to 247Sports.com, Aune has joined the Arkansas football program and is enrolled in classes at the university.  At least initially, the quarterback will be a part of the Razorbacks as a walk-on; it’s expected he’ll take the field with the rest of his new teammates when spring practice kicks off month after next.

According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Aune had also considered TCU and North Texas before the SEC’s mystique proved to be too much.

“The allure of the SEC and the SEC West and Chad [Morris] and Coach [Joe] Craddock, and everybody being on the same page up there as far as the opportunity goes,” the player’s father, Greg Aune, told the Democrat-Gazette. “He likes their system. It’s a fast-paced system, wide-open system. That’s what he played in high school. It’s a pass-oriented offense. He’s a read-run oriented guy, so that’s a lot of what those guys do.”

The fact that Aune considered TCU as a potential landing spot before settling on Morris and UA shouldn’t come as a surprise as he actually signed with the Horned Frogs back in 2012.  However, he was drafted by the New York Yankees that same year and, after signing a contract that included a $1 million signing bonus, embarked on what turned out to be a six-year career in the minor leagues.  Despite that financial commitment, Aune never made it past Single-A ball.