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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.

Rice football takes refuge at TCU after returning from Australia

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After spending time in Australia to play a football game against Stanford, the Rice Owls are currently displaced from their home as flood waters from Hurricane Harvey continue to pose problems in and around the Houston area. Unable to return home, Rice has instead opted to accept shelter from TCU after a handful of programs extended their helping hands to a program in need.

“I want to thank the staffs at TCU, SMU, Baylor and UTEP who all reached out to offer whatever help we needed,” Rice head coach David Bailiff said in a statement. “There is a strong brotherhood in the coaching world and it is never more evident than at times like these. While we would love to be coming home today, our first responsibility is the safety of these players. We learned some lessons in 2008 about coming home too soon.”

Bailiff was referring to 2008 when Hurricane Ike hit the Houston area while the Owls were on the road to play Vanderbilt. When Rice returned home from that game, Houston was already flooded and coaches were making arrangements to host players and families in need of a place to stay, and many players struggled to even make contact with their family right away. There is no real game plan you can roll out when something like this happens to a football program, but experience in the worst conditions comes in handy in a time like this.

As far as football is concerned, it can be on the back burners entirely this week as Houston recovers from the storm. Rice is off this week, allowing the focus to solely remain on the recovery efforts in the community. Rice’s next game will be on September 9 on the road at UTEP. Rice is scheduled to play at Houston on September 16 and host FIU on September 23.

Australia trip over, Rice unsure when it will return to Houston

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Rice’s season began Saturday night with a 62-7 loss to No. 14 Stanford in Australia.  But a more pressing matter faces the club than its 0-1 record.

Hurricane Harvey is still bearing down on the Owls’ native Houston, and the program is unsure when it will be able to return home.

Head coach David Bailiff indicated following the game that Rice would head back to Los Angeles as previously scheduled and… wait.

Houston has moved its preseason preparations to Austin, and the Houston Texans flew to Dallas following a preseason game Saturday in New Orleans. With images like that now the reality in Houston and more rain in the forecast, it’s impossible to say when it will be safe for the Owls, Cougars and Texans to return home.

Rice is off until a Sept. 9 game at UTEP, but for now a more pressing matter awaits.

No. 14 Stanford runs all over Rice to pick up big win in Australia

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Everybody wondered just how Stanford would be able to replace the production of superstar running back Christian McCaffrey on offense and starter Bryce Love decided to make sure nobody had to wait to find out.

Love busted open a 62 yard run on the first snap of the 2017 Sydney Cup in Australia and that was about all the Cardinal needed to showcase for Cardinal fans back in the states to ease their fears as the team steamrolled an overmatched Rice squad to the tune of 62-7 in Week 0 action from down under.

As impressive as the junior tailback’s day was (180 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries), the most surprising part of the offense was how sharp Keller Chryst was under center. The quarterback was a solid 14-of-24 for 253 yards and a pair of touchdowns, remarkable numbers for somebody who tore his ACL nine months ago in the team’s Sun Bowl victory over North Carolina. Backup running back Cameron Scarlett also shouldered the load offensively, scoring three times before halftime and finishing with 115 all-purpose yards.

Maybe the best news of the day for Stanford head coach David Shaw was the debut of freshman Colby Parkinson. The top recruit already looks like the next in line at the NFL tight end factory and may pose even more matchup issues for future opponents as he learns more of the offense.

The Cardinal’s defense also stepped up with a solid outing after losing one of the Pac-12’s best players to the draft as well in top five pick Solomon Thomas. The Owls were held to under four yards a play and failed to convert a third down until just before the start of the final quarter. New Rice starting QB Sam Glaesmann barely had any time to throw, completed just seven passes and was sacked twice.

All in all, just about what we expected for a College Football Playoff contender going up against a rebuilding Conference USA team on the other side of the globe. The real test awaits when both return stateside but, either way, it’s certainly nice to wrap up the first college football Saturday of the season even if things got a little out of hand in Sydney.

Vegas prop bets mix Mayweather-McGregor megafight, college football opening night

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What an absolutely huge sports night we’re getting set for. It just doesn’t get much bigger than this. What a spectacle it will be.

That’s right, it’s opening night of the 2017 college football season! Oh yeah, and there’s that other sporting event you may have heard about.

As the Stanford-Rice game Down Under in Australia is being played, the much-hyped megafight between one of the greatest pound-for-pound boxers of any generation, 40-year-old Floyd Mayweather, and 29-year-old UFC superstar Conor McGregor will be going down in a Las Vegas squared circle.

Earlier in the day, Colorado State will christen its brand-new on-campus stadium with its opener against Oregon State as well. All of that leads us to this, with Bovada.lv releasing earlier this week a pair of cross-sport prop bets involving the latest Fight of the Century and the two previously-mentioned college football games.

For the record, No. 14 Stanford is a 31-point favorite over a Rice team that won three games last season while the over-under for the entire OSU-CSU game is 60 points. If I were a gambling man — and I’ll bet you I’m not — I’d go with McGregor on both counts.  But that’s just me.

Back to football one final time, though, as there are three other games featuring at least one FBS team being played today on what’s officially the opening weekend of the college football season but is more like a formal dress rehearsal for the real thing next weekend: Portland State at BYU (3 p.m. ET on ESPN), Hawaii at UMass (no TV) and No. 19 South Florida at San Jose State (7:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network).