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.
This might be the most damnedest thing you’ll ever see in college football. Until next Saturday.
Trailing Mississippi State 57-14, Louisiana Tech had set itself up for a bit of feel-good with a second-and-goal from the MSU six-yard line at the start of the fourth quarter in Starkville. About 15 seconds of game time later, the Bulldogs were facing a third-and-goal… FROM THEIR OWN SEVEN-YARD LINE.
Yep, they lost 87 yards on a single play.
Yep, Tech faced what was essentially a third-and-93. Which they didn’t convert, obviously.
In one play, the Group of Five Bulldogs went from six yards to paydirt to 93 yards away from the end zone. In. One. Play.
Yep, college football remains the best. Still.
I think we can all agree with this: it’s about damn time.
Since the St. Petersburg Bowl was launched in 2008, it’s undergone several name changes, from the magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl (2008) to the St. Petersburg Bowl presented by Beef O’Brady’s (2009) to the Beef O’Grady’s Bowl (2010-13) to the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl (2014). Now, the game that’s been known as the St. Petersburg Bowl the past two seasons is set to undergo its most glorious name change yet as Brett McMurphy is reporting that it will now be known as the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.
See, absolutely and utterly glorious. In a similar vein, move over Poulan Weed-Eater Bowl as we have a new king wearing the “Greatest Bowl Game Name Ever” crown.
Bad Boy Mowers bills itself as “delivering the finest cut lawn care professionals and serious landowners demand;” the fact that the home of the bowl game, Tropicana Field, utilizes Shaw Sports Turf as its playing surface merely serves to add to the greatness of the name. And from where does Gasparilla come? McMurphy describes it as “an attempt to make the bowl seem more regional for the Tampa Bay area since the annual Gasparilla Parade is held each year in Tampa.”
The name change for the game, which pits teams from the AAC and Conference USA against each other, is expected to officially be announced Monday.
In the relatively brief history of the Conference USA championship game, there has never been a rematch of the previous season’s title game. If all goes according to plan as predicted by the media, that could change in 2017.
Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech were each the clear favorites to win their respective divisions in the Conference USA preseason media poll released today. Both programs received 20 first-place votes to easily be named the preseason favorites in the Conference USA divisions, setting the stage for a potential rematch in the Conference USA championship game at the end of the season. Western Kentucky is the two-time defending Conference USA champion, and Louisiana Tech has played in two of the last three title games, so it was hardly a shock to see both programs be named the preseason favorites by the media.
UAB returns to the football field this season, and the preseason poll suggests it will be a rocky return. The Blazers were picked to finish last in the West Division. After Louisiana Tech, UTSA picked up seven first-place votes to come in second in the preseason poll. Southern Miss, now a year removed from playing for the conference championship, received the last remaining first-place vote in the West Division.
Western Kentucky failed to gobble up all of the first-place votes in the East Division as well. Middle Tennessee received four votes, while Old Dominion picked up three. Marshall also received a first-place nod from the voters. New FBS program and conference member Charlotte was picked last in the East, as expected. Lane Kiffin‘s FAU Owls were picked to finish in fifth place.
Here’s how the preseason media poll in Conference USA looks. No picks for conference champion were made.
Conference USA East Division
- Western Kentucky (20 first-place votes)
- Middle Tennessee (4)
- Old Dominion (3)
- Marshall (1)
- Florida Atlantic
Conference USA West Division
- Louisiana Tech (20)
- UTSA (7)
- Southern Miss (1)
- North Texas
In yet another sign that the offseason is quickly coming to an end and another season is rapidly approaching, the Outland Trophy has become the latest college football award to release its preseason watch list.
Given annually to the nation’s top interior linemen on either side of the ball, the Outland’s watch list this year consists of 81 players from all 10 FBS conferences. Headlining that group are Washington State senior guard Cody O’Connell (pictured, No. 76) and Texas junior offensive tackle Connor Williams, two of the three finalists for the 2016 award won by Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson.
From the release, courtesy of the Football Writers Association of America:
The ACC (17) led all conferences with members on the Watch List, followed by the Big Ten and SEC (11 each), Pac-12 (10), American Athletic (9), Big 12 and Mid-American (6 each), Independents and Mountain West (4 each), Conference USA (2) and Sun Belt (1).
The list includes 24 offensive tackles, 21 defensive tackles, 20 centers and 16 offensive guards.