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Alabama a potential landing spot for Rice grad transfer Preston Gordon

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Yet another Rice graduate transfer lineman is drawing interest from an SEC school.

Preston Gordon confirmed to al.com this week that he has had “some preliminary contact” with Alabama as a potential landing spot. Last month, the defensive tackle decided to take the graduate transfer route out of Rice.

As the Crimson Tide, which is also in play for a grad transfer quarterback, lost three linemen to the NFL and signed just two in the Class of 2018, a move to Tuscaloosa could make sense for both parties.

“If Alabama were interested, that’s a top-tier program and I would definitely be interested,” Gordon told the website. “As a D-lineman, that’s where it’s at, so it would definitely be high, high interest.”

Gordon has already received an offer from Texas Tech after visiting Lubbock, and has taken a trip to Kansas as well. The lineman also told the site that he has spoken with Syracuse, TCU, Tulane and UConn.

The last three seasons, Gordon started 28 games for the Owls, including all 12 in 2017. In 2016, Gordon tied for the team lead in sacks with 3.5, while his 6.5 tackles for loss led all interior linemen on the squad. This past season, he was third on the team in tackles for loss with 4.5.

Gordon’s former teammate and the Owls’ starting left tackle the past three seasons, Calvin Anderson, has drawn interest from Auburn as a graduate transfer and has already visited the Tigers. It’s believed that Michigan and Texas are the frontrunners, although Texas A&M has entered the mix for Anderson as well.

AAC 2018 season kicks off with Civil ConFLiCT

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Defending American Athletic Conference champion UCF will kick off their conference title defense on August 30 when they visit UConn in the conference and season opener for both teams. The Civil ConFLiCT is the first game on the 2018 conference schedule released by the AAC on Tuesday. The conference will play a series of Thursday night games on national TV and will hold the conference championship game on Saturday, December 1. Kickoff times and television schedules will be decided at a later time, for the most part.

The AAC will continue to play an eight-game conference schedule with each team playing five games against division opponents and three games against teams from the opposing division. The conference championship game will be played at the top division champion’s campus at the end of the season just as it has the previous three seasons. The annual Army-Navy Game, which of course involves AAC member Navy, will continue to be played the week following the AAC championship game (Dec. 8).

The AAC’s Thursday night schedule will begin on September 20 with Temple hosting Tulsa and will feature Houston vs. Tulsa on Oct. 4, UCF vs. Temple on Nov. 1, and Houston vs. Tulane on Nov. 15. The Thursday night games could be altered depending on the NFL’s pending Thursday night schedule (Temple can’t play at home if the Philadelphia Eagles are scheduled for a home game). The Thursday night games will be scheduled to air on ESPN, and the conference championship game will be aired on either ABC or ESPN (it has aired on ABC each of the past three seasons).

The AAC will also play games on Friday nights this season, including three on the day after Thanksgiving for the regular season finale; USF hosting UCF, Memphis hosting Houston, and Cincinnati hosting ECU. That could be a big day for the AAC with potential division championships on the line.

The AAC will have 19 nonconference games against power conference opponents, including eight against ACC teams, four against the Big Ten, and three against the Big 12.

You can check out the full AAC football schedule HERE.

Tulane national championship t-shirts for 1998 season now for sale

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Well, UCF has started a new trend, it seems.

In the same week UCF has created a stir by declaring a national championship for the 2017 season after completing a 13-0 season with a victory over Auburn in the Peach Bowl, another program from the American Athletic Conference is going back in the archives to declare their own national championship. An officially licensed bookstore is now selling t-shirts honoring Tulane’s 1998 undefeated season. The presale is making it clear these shirts are declaring the Tulane Green Wave the national champions of 1998.

In 1998, Tulane was coached by Tommy Bowden and Rich Rodriguez was the offensive coordinator and Shaun King was the quarterback. The Green Wave climbed to as high as No. 7 in the AP and coaches poll at the end of the season after ending the year with a Liberty Bowl victory over BYU. The 538 points scored by the program was a school record. The only other team to finish the season without a loss that season was Tennessee, the first BCS national champions. Tulane was left out of the BCS bowl lineup despite their perfect record.

Now the attention will shift to Boise State, who should be next in line in trying to claim some national titles for their undefeated seasons. Or maybe Utah? It’s open season on claiming national titles now, so go get them!

Helmet sticker to the college football Reddit community.

QB Tanner Lee leaving Nebraska early for NFL draft

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You can officially add another quarterback to the 2018 NFL draft pool.

On his personal Twitter account Thursday afternoon, Tanner Lee announced that he will be leaving Nebraska in order to make himself available for the April draft.  Lee wrote that his decision came “[a]fter weeks of prayer and consideration with my family.”

A transfer from Tulane, Lee completed his first and what turned out to be only season as NU’s starting quarterback in 2017 after sitting out 2016.  This season, the 6-4, 220-pound Lee threw for 3,143 yards, 23 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

Lee’s decision, which will surprise some, came a month after Mike Riley was fired and ultimately replaced by Scott Frost.  The system Frost will bring to Lincoln requires a quarterback to have the ability to both pass and run; including his time at Tulane, Lee ran for minus-384 yards in three seasons.  He ran for minus-97 yards this past season for the ‘Huskers.

Alabama and Penn State land two Jim Thorpe Award semifinalists

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Th semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award were unveiled on Monday, and it goes to show how good the defensive secondaries are for Alabama and Penn State. The Crimson Tide and Nittany Lions were the only schools with two semifinalists out of the 13 total players to be announced as semifinalists for the award for the nation’s top defensive back.

Alabama is represented by Minkah Fitzpatrick and Levi Wallace. Alabama has one Jim Thorpe Award winner in the history of the award (first awarded in 1986), with Antonio Langham winning the award in 1993. Penn State is looking for the first Jim Thorpe Award winner in school history. Marcus Allen and Grant Haley have been named semifinalists for the award this year, giving Penn State a chance to have a player win the award.

Other notable players named as a semifinalist include Florida State’s Derwin James and Duke’s Jeremy McDuffie and Ohio State’s Denzel Ward. The Big Ten, SEC, and ACC all have three semifinalists. The winner of the award will be announced during the annual Home Depot College Football Awards Show on December 7 on ESPN.

2017 Jim Thorpe Award Semifinalists

Marcus Allen, Penn State
Quin Blanding, Virginia
Jalen Davis, Utah State
DeShon Elliott, Texas
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Grant Haley, Penn State
Derwin James, Florida State
Jeremy McDuffie, Duke
Parry Nickerson, Tulane
Justin Reid, Stanford
Dominick Sanders, Georgia
Levi Wallace, Alabama
Denzel Ward, Ohio State