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FAU locks up first-ever division title in Lane Kiffin’s first season

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Off the field, Lane Kiffin has brought exponentially more attention and exposure to the Florida Atlantic football program. On it, the first-year coach has brought the only thing that matters — wins.

Coming into Week 12, FAU needed just one win in its last two games to claim it’s first-ever Conference USA East crown.  Fittingly, they did just that at the expense of their rival Florida International, with Butch Davis‘ Panthers offering little resistance as the Owls claimed a 52-34 win.  FIU, at 4-2, was nearest to FAU prior to the game but needed to win its last two games while FAU lost its last two in order to win the East.

Instead, it’ll be the Owls playing in their first-ever Conference USA championship game next weekend against West champion North Texas.  The Mean Green will also be playing in their first-ever title game.

By virtue of FAU’s perfect 7-0 league mark and Week 8 win over 6-1 UNT, that title game will be played in Boca Raton regardless of what happens in Week 13.

This milestone is the latest in a remarkable resurgence under Kiffin.

The former Alabama offensive coordinator took over a program that won three games in each of the last three seasons and turned it into one that’s won eight with three games remaining.  It’s already tied for the second-most wins in school history with the 2007 team; one more win would match the mark set by the 2004 Owls, Howard Schnellenberger‘s fourth season with team and first as an FBS program.

And, yep, Kiffin’s name will, once again, be prominently mentioned for Power Five jobs as the 2017-18 coaching carousel cranks into high gear.

Two weeks from Championship Saturday, here are all of the division-clinching scenarios

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Unbelievably, we’re down to the penultimate full weekend of the 2017 season. And, with that, races for divisional and conference championships are both heating up and winding down — or, in a handful of cases, already settled.

Below is how each of the 10 leagues stands with just two Saturdays remaining before championship weekend.

AAC EAST
The winner of the Nov. 24 USF (6-1) at UCF (6-0) game will win the division, regardless of what happens in UCF’s game against Temple at noon today.

AAC WEST
Memphis (5-1) beat Houston (4-2) in mid-October. Memphis clinches the division with a win in either today’s game against SMU or East Carolina in the regular-season finale, regardless of what Houston does. Houston needs for Memphis to lose both of those games, plus win their final two games Tulane and Navy.

ACC ATLANTIC
Clemson has already clinched the division.

ACC COASTAL
Miami has already clinched the division.

BIG 12
Unless Oklahoma (6-1), which beat both TCU (5-2) and Oklahoma State (5-2) earlier this season, loses its last two games — ROTFL one of them is against Kansas — the Sooners have essentially clinched one of the two spots in the conference title game. TCU needs to either win one of its last two games (at Tech, vs. Baylor) and have OSU lose at least one, or win out regardless of what OSU does in order to claim the other spot. OSU, meanwhile, needs to win out (vs. K-State, vs. Kansas) and have the Horned Frogs lose at least one. West Virginia (5-2), which lost to both TCU and OSU, needs to beat Texas and win at OU while TCU and OSU lose at least one game apiece.

There’s also the possibility that all four teams finish at 6-3, getting there by way of OSU, TCU and WVU winning out.  In such a scenario, Oklahoma and TCU would play for the Big 12 title by virtue of a 2-1 record against the foursome.  At 1-2, Oklahoma State and West Virginia would be eliminated.

BIG TEN EAST
If Ohio State beats Illinois AND Michigan loses to Wisconsin today, the Buckeyes will win the division. If that doesn’t happen, the B1G East race will play out in Week 13. Courtesy of the Big Ten Network, below are all of the scenarios heading into Week 12:

Ohio State (6-1): Win vs. Illinois AND Michigan loss at Wisconsin OR win final two games (vs. Illinois; at Michigan).
Michigan (5-2): Win final two games (at Wisconsin; vs. Ohio State) AND Michigan State and Penn State lose one game.
Michigan State (5-2): Win final two games (vs. Maryland; at Rutgers) AND Ohio State loses final two games.
Penn State (5-2): Win final two games (vs. Nebraska; at Maryland) AND Ohio State loses final two games AND Michigan State loses a game.

BIG TEN WEST
Wisconsin has already clinched the division.

CONFERENCE USA EAST
Florida Atlantic (6-0) clinches the division with a win over Florida International (4-2) later today OR with a win over Charlotte in Week 13 even with a loss to FIU. FIU needs to beat FAU AND Western Kentucky AND have FAU lose to Charlotte as well.

CONFERENCE USA WEST
North Texas has already clinched the division.

MAC EAST
Akron and Ohio are both 5-2, but the Zips beat the Bobcats this past Tuesday night. Thus, Akron wins the division with either a Week 13 win over Kent State OR an Ohio loss to Buffalo. Ohio, meanwhile, needs to win next week AND have Akron lose.

MAC WEST
Toledo (6-1) and Northern Illinois (6-1) are left standing, with Toledo beating NIU in the first week of November. So, Toledo wins the West with either a win over Western Michigan OR an NIU loss. Northern Illinois needs to beat Central Michigan AND have Toledo lose to WMU at home to win the division.

MWC MOUNTAIN
Boise State (6-0) beat Wyoming (5-1) Oct. 21. Thus, Boise State wins the Mountain division if it wins its last two games (vs. Air Force, at Fresno State) regardless of what Wyoming does; if it wins one game regardless of what Wyoming does; if it loses its last two games and Wyoming does the same. Conversely, Wyoming needs to win its last two games (vs. Fresno State, at San Jose State) while Boise State loses its last two.

MWC WEST
Fresno State (5-1) beat San Diego State (4-2) Oct. 21. Thus, Fresno State wins the West division if it wins its last two games (at Wyoming, vs. Boise State) regardless of what San Diego State does; if it wins one game regardless of what San Diego State does; if it loses its last two games and San Diego State does the same. Conversely, San Diego State needs to win its last two games (vs. Nevada, vs. New Mexico) while Fresno State loses its last two.

PAC-12 NORTH
And now we come to the somewhat convoluted portion of the program. Stanford and Washington State are both 6-2, while Washington is 5-2. Stanford has beaten Washington but lost to Wazzu, while the Apple Cup awaits next Saturday. So, off we go with how each team can win the division.

Stanford: win vs. Cal in Week 12 AND Washington State loss to Washington in Week 13.
Washington: win vs. Utah in Week 12 AND win vs. Washington State in Week 13 AND Stanford loss to Cal in Week 12.
Washington State: win vs. Washington in Week 13 OR losses by Washington AND Stanford in Week 12.

And, if all three teams finish 6-3? Washington, by virtue of its record in divisional games — 4-1, compared to 3-2 for the others — would get the nod.

PAC-12 SOUTH
USC has already clinched the division

SEC EAST
Georgia has already clinched the division

SEC WEST
This one is really simple: the winner of the Alabama-Auburn Iron Bowl next Saturday will clinch the division.

SUN BELT
There’s Pac-12 North convoluted, then there’s SBC convoluted. Entering Week 12, this conference has four teams with just one loss apiece — Troy, Georgia State and Appalachian State at 5-1, Arkansas State at 4-1. To make matters even worse, there has been just one game played between the four — Troy beat Georgia State — and just two in the remaining three weeks of the season — Troy vs. Arkansas State, Georgia State vs. Appalachian State. Things will become (a little) clearer after Week 12 play for the only FBS league that doesn’t have a league game to determine a champion.

Lane Kiffin copies Nick Saban again… by bringing in ex-Yankees manager Joe Girardi to talk to team

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If you’ve been following FAU head coach Lane Kiffin on Twitter recently, you know he’s really taken the term ‘rat poison’ and ran with it to an almost extreme comical effect. That phrase was originally used by Alabama’s Nick Saban to discuss players buying into the hype on the team they read or hear in the media.

It seems the most divisive college football coach in America isn’t just taking phrases from his old boss though, he’s extending the practice to guest speakers. Saban brought in former Yankees manager Joe Girardi to take in the Crimson Tide’s big rivalry game against LSU a few weeks ago and it seems Kiffin is doing the same with his Owls play local rival Florida International this Saturday for a berth in the Conference USA title game.

“It was cool because he’s a fan,” FAU linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair told the Sun-Sentinel after hearing Girardi speak. “That was cool to hear. He was talking to us about making sure that you’re prepared, making sure that you’re ready to play and do whatever it takes to make sure that you are ready so you don’t feel like you left anything on the table.”

Alabama beat LSU 24-10 in the game Girardi was supposedly in attendance for so it will be interesting if that luck carries over on Saturday for Kiffin and FAU with the team in a position they haven’t been in for long time.

If you’re going to steal an idea and somebody like Girardi to a game, might as well steal it from the best, right Lane?

Schools across the FBS honoring the military on Veteran’s Day

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The whole of college football is making sure its message of support for those who serve gets heard loud and clear.

This year, Veteran’s Day just happens to fall on a gameday, and arguably the biggest college football gameday of the 2017 season in fact. Whether it be helmets or uniforms or in-game presentations, schools throughout the week have unveiled their gameday plans for honoring our nation’s military.

Kevin mentioned a couple on Wednesday; below is but a sampling of others who will honor those brave men and women who have allowed, and continue to allow, all of us to continue to enjoy this great sport, and every other freedom we enjoy for that matter.

And, from CFT as a whole and myself personally, God bless every single member of every branch of the military, past and present. From the bottom of our collective hearts, thank you so much for your service.

56 college football assistants named nominees for 2017 Broyles Award

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College football’s award season is coming quickly with semifinalists and finalists for various awards coming in the next few weeks. Among the awards is the Broyles Award, which recognizes the top assistant coach in college football. Today, the Frank & Barbara Broyles Foundation released its list of nominees for this year’s award. All 56 of them, which is sure to keep more SIDs busy this time of year.

No school has more than one assistant nominated for the award and previous winners of the award from the past five seasons are not eligible. Clemson’s Brent Venables won the award last year, for example, so he is not eligible this season. This list of nominees will be trimmed to 15 semifinalists later this season, and that list will be cut down to five finalists for the award.

The Broyles Award was first awarded in 2010 to Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. Malzahn is currently the head coach of the Tigers. In total, five Broyles Award winners have gone on to be a head coach, with four of those currently holding head coaching positions. Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi (2013, Michigan State defensive coordinator), Texas head coach Tom Herman (2014, Ohio State offensive coordinator), and Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley (2015, Oklahoma offensive coordinator) currently hold head coaching jobs. Bob Diaco, who won the award in 2012 while at Notre Dame, went on to be named the head coach at UConn and currently is an assistant with Nebraska.

2017 Broyles Award Nominees

  • Alabama – Brian Daboll, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
  • Arizona – Rod Smith, Co–Offensive Coordinator
  • Arizona State – Phil Bennett, Defensive Coordinator
  • Arkansas State – Brian Early, Defensive Line Coach
  • Auburn – Kevin Steele, Defensive Coordinator
  • Boise State – Andy Avalos, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
  • Bowling Green State – Matt Brock, Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers Coach
  • California – Beau Baldwin, Offensive Coordinator
  • Central Florida – Troy Walters, Offensive Coordinator
  • Clemson – Tony Elliot, Co–Offensive Coordinator, Running Backs
  • Eastern Michigan – Neal Neathery, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach
  • FAU – Chris Kiffin, Defensive Coordinator
  • FIU – Brent Guy, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
  • Fresno State – Orlondo Steinauer, Defensive Coordinator
  • Georgia – Mel Tucker, Defensive Coordinator
  • Georgia State – Nate Fuqua, Defensive Coordinator/Outside Linebackers
  • Iowa State – Jon Heacock, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties
  • Kansas State – Sean Snyder, Special Teams Coordinator
  • LSU – Dave Aranda, Defensive Coordinator
  • Memphis – Joe Lorig, Special Teams Coordinator; – Outside Linebackers
  • Miami – Manny Diaz, Defensive Coordinator
  • Michigan – Don Brown, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
  • Michigan State – Harlon Barnett, Co–Defensive Coordinator/Secondary Coach
  • Mississippi State – Todd Grantham, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
  • Missouri – Josh Heupel, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
  • NC State – Dwayne Ledford, Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator
  • North Texas – Graham Harrell, Offensive Coordinator
  • Northwestern – Mike Hankwitz, Defensive Coordinator
  • Notre Dame – Mike Elko, Defensive Coordinator
  • Ohio State – Larry Johnson, Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach
  • Oklahoma – Bill Bedenbaugh, Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line
  • Oklahoma State – Mike Yurcich, Offensive Coordinator/QBs
  • Ole Miss – Derrick Nix, Running Backs Coach
  • Oregon – Jim Leavitt, Defensive Coordinator
  • Penn State – Brent Pry, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach
  • San José State – Bojay Filimoeatu, Linebackers Coach
  • SMU – Joe Craddock, Offensive Coordinator
  • South Carolina – Coleman Hutzler, Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers Coach
  • Southern Miss – Tony Pecoraro, Defensive Coordinator/Inside Linebackers
  • Stanford – Mike Bloomgren, Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line
  • Syracuse – Brian Ward, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach
  • TCU – Chad Glasgow, Defensive Coordinator
  • Temple – Jim Panagos, Defensive Line
  • Texas – Todd Orlando, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
  • Toledo – Brian Wright, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach
  • Troy – Vic Koenning, Defensive Coordinator
  • U.S. Military Academy – Brent Davis, Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line
  • USC – Tee Martin, Offensive Coordinator/WR Coach
  • Utah State – Mark Tommerdahl, Special Teams Coordinator/Running Backs
  • Virginia Tech – Bud Foster, Defensive Coordinator
  • Wake Forest – Warren Ruggiero, Offensive Coordinator
  • Washington – Pete Kwiatkowski, Defensive Coordinator
  • Washington State – Alex Grinch, Defensive Coordinator / Secondary
  • West Virginia – Tony Gibson, Associate Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
  • Western Kentucky – Clayton White, Defensive Coordinator
  • Wisconsin – Jim Leonhard, Defensive Coordinator