Virginia Cavaliers

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Baker Mayfield, Saquon Barkley among Sullivan Award semifinalists

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Four players from the FBS level of college football are in the running for one of the most prestigious awards in amateur athletics.

Wednesday, a total of 28 semifinalists for the 2016 Sullivan Award were announced.  The four with college football connections include 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) and 2017 Heisman Trophy finalist Bryce Love (Stanford), along with Penn State’s Saquon Barkley and Virginia’s Micah Kiser.

That quartet is looking to become the fourth college football player to win the award in the last five years, the most recent being Navy’s Keenan Reynolds in 2016.

Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott was the 2015 winner of the Sullivan, while Penn State offensive lineman John Urschel claimed the 2014 honor.  Six other college football players have earned an honor handed out annually since 1930: Felix “Doc” Blanchard (Army, 1945), Arnold Tucker (Army, 1946), Charlie Ward (Florida State, 1993), Peyton Manning (Tennessee, 1997), Tim Tebow (Florida, 2007) and Andrew Rodriguez (Army, 2011)


Clemson’s Deshaun Watson was a semifinalist for last year’s award, the only college football player up for the honor in 2017.

Former Ohio State DT Dylan Thompson transfers to Virginia

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Less than three weeks after leaving one Power Five football program, Dylan Thompson has landed at another.

On his personal Twitter account Feb. 5, Thompson announced that he would be transferring from Ohio State. Saturday evening, the defensive tackle took to the same social media website to announce that he has decided to continue his collegiate playing career at Virginia.

As Thompson will be coming to Charlottesville as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play in 2018 for the Cavaliers.

A three-star member of the Buckeyes’ 2014 recruiting class, Thompson was rated as the No. 22 strongside defensive end in the country and the No. 18 player at any position in the state of Illinois.  Injuries and academic issues helped to limit Thompson to just two games during his time in Columbus, with both appearances coming in 2017.

Starting Rutgers G Marcus Applefield transfers to Virginia

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Two months after leaving Rutgers, Marcus Applefield officially has a new college football home.

The offensive lineman took to his personal Twitter account Wednesday to reveal that he has “decided to play my last year at the University of Virginia in the ACC and work on a masters.” Applefield left the Scarlet Knights as a graduate transfer and can use his final season of eligibility this year with the Cavaliers.

This past season, Applefield started 10 of 12 games at right guard for the Scarlet Knights. All told, he played in 27 games the past three seasons after taking a redshirt as a true freshman in 2014.

Each of the last three years, Applefield, a three-star recruit coming out of high school in Florida, was an Academic All-Big Ten selection.

ACC releases complete 2018 football schedule

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The 2017 season was put to bed a little over a week ago, so the focus of the college football world has shifted to 2018.

In that vein, the ACC Wednesday released its football schedule for the upcoming season.  The first game featuring a team from the conference will have Wake Forest traveling to Tulane on Thursday, Aug. 30.  The first league game sees Virginia Tech traveling to Tallahassee on Labor Day to face Florida State in a primetime matchup.

Opening weekend will also see the ACC involved in a pair of neutral-site nonconference matchups: Louisville against defending national champion Alabama in Orlando Saturday, Sept. 1, and Miami facing LSU the next day in Arlington.

There are also five previously-announced games against scheduling partner Notre Dame, including road trips to South Bend for FSU (Nov. 10) and Pitt (Oct. 13).  Wake (Sept. 22) and Virginia Tech (Oct. 6) will play host to the Irish, while Syracuse and Notre Dame will square off at Yankee Stadium Nov. 17.

The release announcing the schedule notes that ACC teams will play more games (19) against Power 5 competition than any other P5, and their members will also play 27 games against non-conference opponents that participated in bowl games last season, the highest total among Power 5 conferences.

“The 2018 ACC Football schedule provides our schools and programs the opportunity to build upon the numerous football successes that have been achieved in recent years,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford in a statement. “Once again, our teams will be facing both a daunting conference schedule and what is collectively the most challenging non-conference schedule in the country. There will be no shortage of excitement for fans on a weekly basis.”

You can click HERE for the composite schedule, HERE for the team-by-team schedule and HERE for the ever-popular logo schedule.

Overmatched Virginia has no answers as Navy woodsheds Hoos in Military Bowl rout

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Navy began its 2017 season at a promising 5-0 before stumbling to a 1-6 finish to barely reach bowl eligibility.  The doom and gloom of the last half of the regular season, however, gave way to 2017 being put to bed on a positive note for the service academy.

After jumping out to a 28-7 halftime lead, Navy kept up that momentum throughout the second half in claiming an impressive 49-7 woodshedding of Virginia in the Military Bowl.  With the win, Ken Niumatalolo improved his record in bowl games to 5-4 as the Midshipmen claimed the Military Bowl, played on its home field, for the second time in three years.

Despite the win, Navy, at 7-6, did put the finishing touches on its worst season since going 5-7 in 2011.  That said, a punishing ground game — and their opponent’s benevolence — ensured the service academy would head into the offseason with a record north of the .500 mark.

Coming into the game second in the country averaging 343 yards per game, the Midshipmen passed that average in the third quarter en route to putting up 452 yards on the ground.  Starting quarterback Malcolm Perry led the way with 114 yards rushing while adding a pair of touchdowns on the ground.

Perry was injured early in the third quarter, however, and was replaced by the man he replaced as the starter, Zach Abey.  After rushing for a pair of first-half touchdowns, Abey added three more in the second half to give him a Military Bowl-record five and Player of the Game honors.  Abey ran for 88 yards, while Chris High chipped in with 101.  All told, a whopping 10 Navy players were credited with at least one carry.

Navy attempted just one pass in the contest, which fell incomplete.

Not that they needed the help, but the Midshipmen were greatly aided by three turnovers by the Cavaliers.  Those three turnovers, incidentally, were turned into 21 points by Navy.  While not counting as a turnover officially, the Hoos also handed the ball back to the Midshipmen inside UVa.’s 25-yard line when their punter touched his knee to the ground prior to getting off a punt late in the third quarter.  Navy, of course, turned that into more points on Abey’s fifth touchdown.

Even when they maintained possession of the ball, UVa. couldn’t do much with it.  Through three quarters of play, the Cavaliers managed just 138 yards of offense, including a woeful five yards on 14 carries; they would finish with a season-low 163 total yards and averaged 1.7 yards per rush attempt.  In fact, their only score of the game came when the opening kickoff of the first half was returned for a touchdown by Joe Reed.

Virginia finished the 2017 season at 6-7, the sixth straight seasons they’ve finished the year with a sub-.500 record.  Their last winning season came in 2011 when Mike London went 8-5 in his second season in Charlottesville.  London’s successor, Bronco Mendenhall, is now 8-17 as the Hoos head coach.