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AAC releases 2016 conference schedule

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The American Athletic Conference released its 2016 conference schedule highlighted by, oddly enough, non-conference games that pit league gem Houston against Oklahoma (on opening day at Houston’s NRG Stadium) and Louisville (in Houston on Nov. 19).

Those two games, more than any others, will sink or swim the conference’s chances of not only grabbing the Group of Five spot in the New Year’s Six, but a spot in the College Football Playoff itself.

The 2016 conference slate kicks off with Navy meeting Connecticut on Sept. 10 and concludes with the second annual AAC title game on Dec. 3 at a to-be-determined campus site.

The AAC led the way in scheduling Power 5 opponents — highlighted by a Week 3 schedule that will see the entire East Division punching up a weight class — and includes the likes of Florida State, Maryland, N.C. State, Virginia, Syracuse, Kansas, TCU and Oklahoma (for all intents and purposes) visiting AAC campuses.

View the full AAC slate here:

 

Chad Morris building SMU with Texas recruits

SMU head coach Chad Morris, center, takes field with his team for warm ups before an NCAA college football game against Baylor, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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The rebuilding of SMU is a project that is no easy task. As Chad Morris gets ready for his second season on the job, he continues to do what he can to build a foundation based on Texas recruits. For the second straight season, SMU assembled a recruiting class consisting of only Texas recruits.

I’m extremely proud of that,” Morris said last week, per The Dallas Morning News. “You’ll hear a lot of talk about us being Texas tough.

“The toughest thing was trying to create the momentum that we had a year ago, especially coming off a season that wasn’t up to our standards. The majority of our kids were committed to us before the season ever started.

SMU is the only FBS program to land a recruiting class consisting of just players from the state of Texas over the past two recruiting classes. The state of Texas has always been a large and competitive recruiting state, and SMU is certainly facing some stiff competition left and right between traditional heavyweights like Texas and Texas A&M, emerging powers in Baylor and TCU and rising conference rival Houston in addition to other programs from the Big 12 and SEC and beyond making visits into the Lone Star state.

If restoring pride in the SMU program is going to succeed, installing a strong Texas connection is a smart way to go for Morris and the Mustangs.

“It was important for us to do that, to build that continuity, build that relationship with these guys,” Morris said. “The majority of them had big-time offers, so we were battling all the way up to the final hour.”

UTEP adds veteran assistant Tom Mason as DC

EAST HARTFORD, CT - DECEMBER 06: Interim head coach Tom Mason of the SMU Mustangs looks on in the second half against the Connecticut Huskies during the game at Rentschler Field on December 6, 2014 in East Hartford, Connecticut.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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In a press release Thursday announcing Brent Pease as the new offensive coordinator, UTEP also announced Ken Flajole as defensive coordinator.  However, the school sent out a “corrected” release a short time later that excluded Flajole.

Three days later, Flajole’s “replacement” has been found.

In another release, Sean Kugler revealed that veteran college assistant Tom Mason will coordinate the defensive side of the ball.  Mason brings a wealth of experience to Kugler’s staff, having served as a coach in one capacity or another for almost 40 years.

“Tom is an outstanding coach, who comes highly recommended and brings a lot of experience to UTEP, “ said head coach Sean Kugler. “He has 38 years of experience in coaching many of those as a defensive coordinator. …

“We feel his defensive scheme fits our personnel and I am looking forward to him working with our players.”

Mason spent 2015 as the coordinator and defensive line coach at Hawaii. Prior to that, Mason was SMU’s defensive coordinator for seven seasons. After June Jones resigned two games into the 2014 season, Mason spent the rest of the year as the Mustangs’ interim head coach.

Other collegiate stops during Mason’s four-decade career that included Fresno State, Nevada, Northern Iowa, Boise State, Portland State, and Eastern Washington.

As for Flajole? After he accepted Kugler’s offer, he received another offer for a position with the Philadelphia Eagles and accepted it.

SMU head coach Chad Morris busts out his best club moves

SMU head coach Chad Morris signals to his special teams unit after a extra point against TCU in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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If you are a college football coach, you must know how to break out some smooth dance moves in order to show just how much you can relate to college football players of today. Few coaches shined in that department over the course of the past year as well as Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, who led the Tigers to an undefeated regular season and to an appearance in the College Football Playoff national championship game. Along the way, Swinney would entertain the masses and his players by showing off his dance skills in postgame celebrations.

It would seem Swinney has had quite the impression on a former assistant, Chad Morris. The former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Clemson became the head coach of the SMU Mustangs last year, but not before taking a few dance lessons from his former boss on the way out.

In all honesty, those may be some of the best moves we have seen from a college football coach since the dawn of the age of dancing coaches. Although, we should remember that Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy has shown some smooth agility as well…

Week 11, Statistically Speaking

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A statistical snapshot of the week that was in college football…

.886 — Percentage of plays that have been rushing attempts for Navy (537 of 606) in 2015, the highest in the FBS.

.9 — Yards per carry South Carolina averaged on 23 carries in a 24-14 loss to Florida.

2 — Number of players who caught passes for Northern Illinois in its Thursday night win over Buffalo.  Aregeros Turner hauled in a career-high nine passes for 49 yards, while Kenny Golladay totaled six receptions for 141 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

6 — School-record passing touchdowns for Jake Rudock in Michigan’s double-overtime win over Indiana.  Four of those went to Jehu Chesson, which tied a school record as well.

Miami v North Carolina7 — Career punt returns for touchdowns by North Carolina’s Ryan Switzer, one off the FBS record of eight held by Oklahoma’s Antonio Perkins and Texas Tech’s Wes Welker.

13 — Players who were credited with at least one carry in Navy’s 55-14 win over SMU.

15 — Consecutive 100-yard rushing games for Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott, the top such streak in the country.

21 — Teams that have multiple national championships and produced at least one Heisman winner: Alabama, Army, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Pittsburgh, SMU, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M and USC.

23 — Consecutive games in which TCU has scored a first-quarter touchdown.  It’s the second-longest streak the last 20 years, behind only Stanford’s 25 straight from 2009-11.

28 — Consecutive regular season conference games in which Ohio State has scored at least 20 points, the longest active streak among Power Five schools.  Georgia Tech and TCU are next at 20 straight.

Maryland v Michigan State28 — Interceptions Maryland has thrown this season.  The next closest is Charlotte with 21.

31 — Including the Week 11 matchup with Virginia Tech, the number of Thursday night ESPN games Georgia Tech has appeared in, the most of any FBS team.  23 of those games were played at Bobby Dodd Stadium, also the most at this level.  Tech’s opponent this past Thursday, Virginia Tech, is next at 30 total appearances.

32 — Wins for Stanford’s Kevin Hogan and Michigan State’s Connor Cook, the most of any active FBS quarterbacks.  Wisconsin’s Joel Stave and Navy’s Keenan Reynolds are next with 29 each.

55 — Different mascot headgears Lee Corso has donned making his selections on ESPN‘s College GameDay show after picking Baylor to beat Oklahoma.

78— MAC head-coaching wins for Ohio’s Frank Solich, moving him past Bowling Green’s Doyt Perry‘s 77 from 1955-64 and into fourth place on the conference’s all-time list.  Next up is the 79 by Marshall’s Bob Pruett (1997-03).

Wake Forest v Notre Dame98 — Yards on a touchdown run by Josh Adams against Wake Forest, the longest play from scrimmage in Notre Dame history

134 — Touchdowns allowed by the Alabama defense since 2009, the fewest in the FBS. Florida is next with 174, followed by LSU’s 179.

227 — Games Memphis has gone without returning a kickoff for a touchdown.  The last one came in November of 1996 against Tennessee.

230 — Rushing yards for Marlon Mack in USF’s upset of Temple that made the Bulls bowl-eligible.  Mack averaged 11 yards on his 21 carries.

238 — Rushing yards for Jordan Howard in Indiana’s loss to Michigan.

244 — Career-high rushing yards for Appalachian State’s Jalin Moore.  The freshman came into the win over Idaho with 203 career yards to his credit.

248 — Career-high rushing yards for Texas Tech’s DeAndre Washington in a 15-point win over Kansas State.  Washington’s previous best was 188 in a Week 4 loss to TCU.

271 — Career-high passing yards for Karson Roberts in a win over Utah State, the most by an Air Force quarterback since 1989 (Dee Dowis, 306 vs. Notre Dame).  This was the first time Roberts had passed for 200 or more yards; his previous career-high was 156, set just last weekend.

New Mexico v Boise State281 — Career-high receiving yards for Boise State’s Thomas Sperbeck in the loss to New Mexico.

292 — Combined rushing yards for Chase Price (152) and Donnel Pumphrey (140) in San Diego State’s 38-3 win over Wyoming.

402 — Career points for UCLA kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn, breaking the Pac-12 record of 390 set by fellow Bruin kicker John Lee from 1982-85.

405 — Career-high passing yards for Jake Browning in Washington’s come-from-ahead loss to Arizona State.  The true freshman also tossed a career-high three interceptions.

453 — Season-high passing yards for Cal’s Jared Goff.  The junior also tossed a career-high six touchdowns in the 54-24 win over Oregon State.

461 — Career-high yards of total offense (361 passing, 105 rushing) for Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson in the win over Syracuse.

471 — Career-high passing yards for Nick Arbuckle in Georgia State’s 41-19 win over Texas State.  It’s the second time this season and fifth in his career he’s gone over 400 yards in a single game.

493 — Points through nine games for Baylor, the third-best nine-game stretch to a start a season behind only 2013 Baylor (551) and 1944 Army (504).

490147750501 — Passing yards by three Southern Miss players  (Nick Mullens, 386; Tyler Matthews, 109; Tyler Sarrazin, 6) in a 65-10 win over Rice.  The three also combined for seven touchdowns, with Mullens tossing five of them.

503 — Career-high passing yards for Brett Rypien in Boise State’s loss to New Mexico.  The true freshman had set his career-high the previous week with 469.

761 — Combined passing yards for Cincinnati’s Gunner Kiel (386) and Tulsa’s Dane Evans (375) in the Bearcats’ 49-38 win.

1,311 — Games played by Rutgers in its history, the most of any FBS program.

1916 — The last season Arkansas scored 50-plus points in back-to-back-to-back games, a streak that was ended by LSU Saturday.

1980 — The last time North Carolina started 6-0 in ACC play prior to this season.