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Illinois adds UCF grad transfer QB Pete DiNovo

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Illinois has an immediate addition to its quarterback room.  Or its wide receivers room, depending on how things play out.

Pete DiNovo confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times Monday that he has decided to transfer to the Illini.  The acknowledgment comes a month after DiNovo decided to transfer from Central Florida.

As a graduate transfer, DiNovo would be eligible to play immediately this season.  Per the player, a former high school teammate and former high school coach currently at Illinois played a role in his decision.

“I couldn’t be happier with the way everything turned out,” DiNovo told the Times. “I can come up here and learn from Lovie (Smith) and everyone else on the coaching staff.”

DiNovo began his Knights career as a quarterback — he replaced Blake Bortles as UCF’s starter before being quickly replaced himself — before being moved to wide receiver before being moved back under center this offseason.  How the Illini will use DiNovo, who has an eye on a career in coaching after his playing days are over, remains to be seen.

Big Ten, Conference USA swapping bowl tie-in for 2017

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The middle of September isn’t typically the time that bowl arrangements are tweaked but that doesn’t mean they can’t happen.

Conference USA confirmed details of a bowl tie-in “swap” with the Big Ten on Wednesday, causing a bit of a Texas two-step in the postseason picture for both leagues in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. The move on the Big Ten’s end was originally announced back in May but it appears the CUSA end is just now being confirmed officially.

As a result:

  • A Conference USA team will now play in the Armed Forces Bowl. They’ll play against Army if the Black Knights are eligible,
  • The Big Ten will place a team in Heart of Dallas Bowl against vs. a Big 12 opponent

While the exact reason for the swap is unclear, it certainly makes a little more sense for a Big Ten team to be in Dallas against a fellow Power Five conference like the Big 12. In addition, the Big Ten has not had a team filled a slot in the Heart of Dallas Bowl since 2014 and have actually never scored a victory in the game either.

There was supposed to be a B1G squad in the bowl last season but, because of shortages elsewhere in terms of eligible teams, the game wound up being an Army win over an eventual 5-8 North Texas squad.  Conference USA apparently remains contractually tied to the Heart of Dallas Bowl until 2019, just not this year.

The Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 23 in Fort Worth while the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl is slated to be played on Tuesday, Dec. 26.

Big Ten releases 2020-21 conference schedules

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We don’t even know yet how the 2017 season will shake out, but we can already pencil in how we think the 2020-21 Big Ten seasons will play out.

The conference released its league schedule for both seasons, which can be found here and here. And while it’s useless to break down the relative strengths and weaknesses of a season three and four years in the future, these schedules are notable in one way:

The Big Ten is going all-in on the opening weekend.

Following the success of this year’s Ohio State at Indiana opener, the Big Ten has stacked more games to be played on Labor Day weekend. The 2020 season will feature Northwestern at Michigan State, Purdue at Nebraska and Indiana at Wisconsin on Sept. 5.

The 2021 season will open with Michigan State at Northwestern, Ohio State at Minnesota, Indiana at Iowa and Penn State at Wisconsin on Sept. 4.

All games are scheduled for Saturday for now; TV will make its Thursday and Friday designations (of which there will be a few) as the games actually approach. Three and four years from now.

Illinois game at USF to be played as scheduled

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For at least one Florida FBS team, there’s some semblance of post-Irma normalcy when it comes to football.

South Florida confirmed Tuesday morning that its game against Illinois scheduled for Friday night at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa will go off as planned.  USF, whose game at UConn in Week 2 was canceled because of travel concerns getting back home because of Hurricane Irma, will practice today for the first time in a week in preparations for the Illini game.

“We are grateful that our student-athletes, staff and their families are safe and accounted for,” said USF athletic director Mark Harlan in a statement. “After consulting with university leadership and the Tampa Sports Authority, we are confident that Friday’s game can proceed safely as scheduled without impacting the recovery efforts. Our thoughts remain with all of those impacted by the hurricane in Florida and elsewhere, and we express sincere gratitude to all first-responders for their efforts.”

The move to play this game comes not long after it was announced that Florida International had canceled its Week 3 game against Indiana in Bloomington.

Five of the seven recently-completed Week 2 games involving FBS teams from the state of Florida were canceled ahead of Irma making landfall.  FIU’s home game against Alcorn State, originally scheduled to be played in Miami, was moved to Birmingham, Ala.  Florida Atlantic’s game against Wisconsin in Madison over the weekend went off as originally planned, although the Owls will be holed up on that campus indefinitely.

In addition to the FIU-Indiana and Illinois-USF games, Georgia Tech’s Week 3 game against Central Florida has already been canceled.  The Miami-Florida State game scheduled for this weekend was moved to next month over the weekend.  Prior to today’s announcement, there had been talk that the Illinois-USF game could be moved to Champaign or outright canceled.

Still up in the air as well are FAU’s home game against Bethune-Cookman and Florida hosting Tennessee in Gainesville.

Hurricane Irma aftermath forces cancellation of Indiana-FIU game

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Not surprisingly, Hurricane Irma and her swath of destruction continues to have an impact on college football.

Indiana announced that, after discussions with officials from Florida International, the university supports FIU’s decision to cancel their Week 3 game in Bloomington.  Below is a portion of the school’s release on the latest Irma-related development:

[IU athletic director Fred] Glass and FIU Athletic Director Pete Garcia have been in regular communication since Sunday about the situation, and with FIU classes being canceled, several FIU players and coaches being from the South Florida area, along with the considerable logistical hurdles to overcome in traveling to Bloomington, the decision to cancel the game was made late on Monday evening. The two programs plan to schedule a game between the schools at Memorial Stadium at some point in the future.

The Hoosiers have a bye in Week 6 (weekend of Oct. 7), and the football program is hopeful they can cobble together a game for that weekend.  Given the timeframe, such a game would more than likely involve an FCS team.

Five of the seven recently-completed Week 2 games involving FBS teams from the state of Florida were canceled ahead of Irma making landfall.  FIU’s home game against Alcorn State, originally scheduled to be played in Miami, was moved to Birmingham, Ala.  Florida Atlantic’s game against Wisconsin in Madison over the weekend went off as originally planned, although the Owls will be holed up on that campus indefinitely.

In addition to the FIU-Indiana game, Georgia Tech’s Week 3 game against Central Florida has already been canceled.  The Miami-Florida State game scheduled for this weekend was moved to next month over the weekend.  There’s already talk that Illinois’ game Saturday on the road against South Florida could be moved to Champaign or outright canceled, although there’s been no official word either way.

Still up in the air as well are FAU’s home game against Bethune-Cookman and Florida hosting Tennessee in Gainesville. Monday afternoon, the SEC issued a statement on the status of that latter contest.

The Southeastern Conference is in communication with the athletics departments at the University of Florida and the University of Tennessee after Hurricane Irma passed through the Gainesville area overnight and early this morning.

“Now that the storm has passed through Gainesville, the University of Florida is working with local authorities to assess the effect of the storm on the campus and the Gainesville community, at the same time ensuring the appropriate security and local officials are available to host a game,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey.