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Hokies head to East Carolina without CB Adonis Alexander

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Virginia Tech hits the road this week to take on East Carolina, and they are doing so without starting right corner back Adonis Alexander. Hokies head coach Justin Fuente announced Alexander is not traveling with the team this weekend. Without spilling the details for why Alexander is not traveling with the team, Fuente strongly suggested Alexander was in violation of team rules.

“We will continue to uphold the exemplary standards of Virgina Tech football,” Fuente said in a brief statement. “Integrity, trust, and teamwork remain the foundation of this program and that will not change. Adonis has not lived up to our expectations at Virginia Tech.”

Alexander has started each of Virginia Tech’s first two games of the season and has accumulated 14 tackles and three pass breakups. With Adonis not making the trip to East Carolina this weekend, Virginia Tech will likely slide his backup, Brandon Facyson into the starting role. The redshirt senior has one tackle in the first two games of the year.

No team ever wants to go into a game without a starting cornerback, but the Hokies should be OK in this road contest. The Pirates have the nation’s 20th-ranked passing offense with 310.0 passing yards per game through the first two weeks, but Thomas Sirk has just one touchdown and four interceptions and Gardner Minshew has also been picked off once with one touchdown. Given the early season struggles for the Pirates, East Carolina has both quarterback options listed as potential starters as they continue to figure out how to move the football with any consistency.

Virginia Tech and East Carolina will meet at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday on CBS Sports Network.

Big weekend for the AAC and Mountain West Conference

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For a conference trying to sell itself as the nation’s sixth power conference, Week 3 looks to be a pretty big one to do its best to prove it. The American Athletic Conference, which is going all in on its belief it is the sixth power conference and not one of the Group of Five conferences, will play games against the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, and Pac-12 this weekend. And that includes games against four ranked opponents, two of which will be played in an AAC stadium.

It all gets started tonight with preseason favorite South Florida hosting Illinois from the Big Ten. The Bulls are a prohibitive favorite, which comes as no surprise. Quarterback Quinton Flowers could go off against the Illini, who have a record of 2-0 thanks to wins against Ball State and Western Kentucky. With Charlie Strong as head coach, the Bulls have not looked quite as automatic through the first two weeks as many predicted, but this could be their opportunity to put it all together on a national stage.

On Saturday, Memphis will look to score a significant upset at home against No. 25 UCLA. The Bruins are off to a 2-0 start but cross-country trip for a noon eastern kickoff has been known to give a west coast team trouble in the past. If the Tigers can catch the Bruins off to a slumbering start, Memphis may have to hope Josh Rosen and company don’t wake up in the fourth quarter the way they did against Texas A&M. A Memphis win would be key to the AAC as a whole too, as a win against a ranked opponent from a power conference gives the AAC a strength of schedule argument to boost itself up in the long run.

The AAC will have a few other cracks at ranked opponents. The team with the best chance, most likely, to score a win against a ranked team may be SMU. The Mustangs visit rival TCU, ranked 20th in the AP poll and coming off a win on the road against Arkansas. East Carolina hosts No. 16 Virginia Tech, and Tulane visits No. 2 Oklahoma. Either AAC team picking up a win in those games would be a shocker.

One other game against an ACC school was scratched due to Hurricane Irma recovery efforts. UCF, who looked really good in their opener, was to host Georgia Tech. Instead, the Knights will get a week off before returning to action next week on the road against Maryland.

The one game that should probably be the most interesting to watch, however, may take place in Ohio. MAC favorite Toledo is hosting Tulsa in a key Group of 5 vs. Group of 5 matchup. The Rockets have looked good and are a solid favorite, but Tulsa is a team to keep an eye on in the AAC. A year after an undefeated MAC champion grabbed the New Years Six spot in the bowl lineup, the AAC delivering a blow to the preseason MAC favorites could knock the MAC out of contention entirely before even getting to October.

AAC vs. Power 5 In Week 3

  • No. 22 USF vs. Illinois (FRI)
  • Memphis vs. No. 25 UCLA
  • Virginia vs. UConn
  • East Carolina vs. No. 16 Virginia Tech
  • No. 20 TCU vs. SMU
  • No. 2 Oklahoma vs. Tulane

Not to be outdone, the Mountain West Conference has a healthy diet of games against power conference competition this weekend as well. Air Force travels to No. 7 Michigan, Utah State visits Wake Forest, Colorado State is in Tuscaloosa to face No. 1 Alabama, Wyoming is hosting Oregon, Fresno State visits No. 6 Washington, San Jose State visits Utah, and San Diego State hosts No. 19 Stanford. That is seven games against power conference teams, including games against three top 10 teams. Most of those matchups do not appear to give the MWC many favors, although San Diego State hosting Stanford could be interesting.

Before conference play begins in these conferences, this will be the last major opportunities for the AAC and MWC to showcase their stuff in non-conference play. These games could make or break the conference’s chances of getting in the lucrative New Years Six lineup at the end of the year, so neither conference will want to squander their opportunities this weekend.

AAC announced hurricane-related adjustment to league slate

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Several FBS games were affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma the first two weeks of the college football season.  Wednesday, one conference took significant steps to get their games in, although there’s still one left to take.

South Florida’s Week 2 game against UConn was postponed as the Bulls prepared for Irma to hit the Tampa area.  The AAC has now announced that game will be played on Nov. 4, which triggered the adjustment of a handful of other games in the conference involving not only those two schools but Cincinnati, East Carolina and Houston as well.

Below are all of the scheduling changes made by the league in an effort to get all AAC games played this season.

UCONN
UConn will host ECU Sunday, Sept. 24 (replacing an open date) and will host USF Saturday, Nov. 4 (replacing the original date of the ECU game). The game will be played on a Sunday due to the unavailability of Pratt & Whitney Stadium on Saturday.

USF
USF will host Cincinnati Saturday, Oct. 14 (replacing a previously scheduled game against Massachusetts), will host Houston Saturday, Oct. 28 (replacing the original game against Cincinnati), and will play at UConn Saturday, Nov. 4 (replacing the original game against Houston).

CINCINNATI
Cincinnati will play at USF Saturday, Oct. 14 and will have its open date Oct. 28 (replacing an Oct. 14 open date and the game at USF Oct. 28).

ECU
ECU will visit UConn Sunday, Sept. 24 (replacing an open date), will have an open date Saturday, Oct. 28 (replacing a game against Houston), and will play at Houston Saturday, Nov. 4 (replacing the previously scheduled game against UConn).

HOUSTON
Houston will play at USF Saturday, Oct. 28 (instead of Nov. 4) and will host ECU Saturday, Nov. 4 (instead of Oct. 28).

Still left to be rescheduled is the Memphis-UCF game, which was postponed last weekend as well because of Irma.

“I would like to thank our presidents, athletic directors and our head football coaches for their outstanding collaboration and cooperation to resolve this unprecedented situation in as fair a manner as possible,” said commissioner Mike Aresco in a statement. “I would also like to acknowledge and thank Ryan Bamford of UMass for his cooperation and understanding. This was not an easy process, but we feel that this revised schedule is a significant step toward giving us the best opportunity to decide our champion on the field.”

 

East Carolina demotes defensive coordinator Kenwick Thompson

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East Carolina announced Sunday that defensive coordinator Kenwick Thompson has been “reassigned” to a new position within that program. The Pirates did not reveal what exactly that new position will be, but did specify it will not be on the full-time coaching staff.

In the meantime, associate head coach/defensive line coach Robert Prunty will take over defensive play-calling duties.

“While these decisions are difficult to make, both from a timing and personal standpoint, my responsibility is to sustain the best interest for our program,” head coach Scottie Montgomery said in a statement. ” We appreciate Coach Thompson’s efforts, but I feel a change in direction is needed at this time.”

Thompson had been on Montgomery’s staff since Montgomery was hired away from Duke in December of 2015. Prunty is in his first season on staff after serving as co-defensive coordinator at Cincinnati for the past three seasons.

East Carolina is off to an 0-2 start to the season, falling 34-14 to defending FCS champion James Madison in the opener and 56-20 to West Virginia on Saturday. The Pirates rank 129th nationally in total defense (616.5 yards per game) and yards per play (8.39) and 126th in scoring (45 points per game).

ECU hosts No. 16 Virginia Tech this week.

Week 1 overreactions and hot takes: The Big Ten is awesome and USC is overrated

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There is still some college football to be played, but the bulk of college football’s first weekend is in the books. Now it’s time to take a look at some of the hot takes and overreactions you may come across in the coming days. Which ones are fair, and which ones should you avoid? Here is a look at five that will get some attention.

The Big Ten is the best conference in college football

The Big Ten just turned in an impressive 10-2 mark for the opening weekend, not including Ohio State’s victory over Indiana in conference play Thursday night. Highlighting that win total was Michigan’s defensive performance against Florida in Arlington, but top 10 teams Wisconsin and Penn State also turned in decisive blowout victories against inferior opponents as well. Maryland spoiled Tom Herman‘s coaching debut against a low Top 25 Texas squad, and even Purdue and Rutgers managed to hang with Louisville and Washington, respectively, before turning in the only two blemishes on the Big Ten schedule in Week 1. All things considered, it was a very good week for the Big Ten.

But now let’s see what happens in Week 2 with some notable games against the Big 12 (Ohio State vs. Oklahoma, Iowa State vs. Iowa), Pac-12 (Oregon vs. Nebraska, Oregon State vs. Minnesota), and the ACC (Penn State vs. Pitt, Duke vs. Northwestern). An equally successful Week 2 would go a long way to support the Big Ten’s strength of schedule argument. A rough week would negate the production of Week 1.

It’s still Alabama and everybody else in the SEC

This may still be true. Alabama’s win over Florida State certainly made it seem like that on the same day that saw Florida dismantled by Michigan. But LSU turned in a good showing against BYU in New Orleans, as did Auburn at home against Georgia Southern. And Georgia put to rest any idea about an Appalachian State upset bid rather solidly with Jake Fromm stepping in at quarterback. The SEC still has two more games to play with Texas A&M visiting UCLA tonight and Tennessee taking on Georgia Tech in Atlanta tomorrow. With a handful of victories over the FCS, one of which needed Missouri to put up over 50 points to win, it is still a tad early to suggest the SEC overall had a great weekend despite an 11-1 mark so far. Alabama, yes. The rest of the SEC? We’ll see how the next 48 hours go.

The U is back!

No, not yet, although Miami starting the year with a 41-13 victory over an FCS foe in Bethune-Cookman did nothing to suggest we should dismiss the idea already. Miami heads to Arkansas State, who just pushed Nebraska to the limit last night. I’ll be careful about placing the Hurricanes on upset alert after doing so a year ago against Appalachian State blew up in my face. Florida State in two weeks remains the litmus test.

USC is overrated

Despite turning it on in the fourth quarter like the Trojans were back in the Rose Bowl against Penn State, USC had a difficult time with Western Michigan in the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday. We’ll see how the pollsters weigh in on the Trojans, who started the year No. 4 in the preseason AP Top 25. With Sam Darnold being picked off twice and the Trojans having trouble getting going, perhaps USC is not quite as mighty as anticipated. Stanford comes to town next week. Let’s see if the Trojans iron out a few things with the Cardinal coming in rested from their trip to Australia a week ago.

The American Athletic Conference is far from a power conference

This much we already knew despite the conference’s PR push to be considered a power conference. TEams are even taking the field with a Power 6 flag and the conference’s P6 logo is on the goal posts this season. But the conference just went 8-3 this weekend. Wait, that actually sounds pretty good. Take away the wins against FCS opponents (one of which needed a fourth quarter rally by UConn against lowly Holy Cross) and the conference went just 3-3, with one of those losses coming at home against the top-ranked FCS program in the nation (James Madison beating East Carolina) by a 20-point margin.

Defending champ Temple was soundly defeated by Notre Dame by 33 points. Preseason favorite South Florida needed a second half burst to get by Stony Brook. At least Navy, Memphis, and UCF looked good this weekend though.

At least the Mountain West Conference had an equally shaky Week 1, if not worse. Colorado State and Wyoming combined for six points. Utah State was blasted by Wisconsin. Boise State held off Troy. UNLV surrendered the biggest upset in college football history.