Navy Midshipmen

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.

Navy torpedoes Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic coaching debut

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I can type the following with utter and completely certainty: if Lane Kiffin was still the offensive coordinator at Alabama, he would not have lost this game.

Be that as it may, the Kiffin Era at Florida Atlantic kicked off Friday night, with FAU squaring off against 2016 AAC runner-up Navy.  With the Owls coming off a three-win season and the Midshipmen nine victories, the outcome was decidedly predictable as the service academy, outside of myriad weather delays that totaled nearly three hours, had little problem dispatching their hosts in a 42-19 road win.

The Midshipmen ran for 416 yards on the night/morning, with starting quarterback Zach Abey accounting for 235 of those yards on the ground.  Abey also threw for 110 yards in completing three of his 10 pass attempts on the night/morning.

The loss wasn’t without highlights for the home team as the first score of the Kiffin Era was a 95-yard touchdown pass…

… that featured the coach’s signature signal-score-before-it’s-an-actual-score sideline move.

So there’s that, which is nice.

Kiffin is now 35-22 in a career as a college head coach that has included stops at USC (28-15) and Tennessee (7-6).  His last win as a head coach at this level came in September of 2013; his next chance for a win will come in Week 2 against No. 9 Wisconsin in Madison; his next realistic chance for a win will come a week later against FCS Bethune-Cookman.

NCAA denies Navy transfer Alohi Gilman immediate eligibility at Notre Dame

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Notre Dame is going to have to wait a little while longer for some outside secondary help, at least when it comes to game days.

Brian Kelly revealed Tuesday that a waiver that would’ve granted Alohi Gilman immediate eligibility has been denied by the NCAA. It’s unclear on what grounds the appeal was based, and it seems unlikely either the player or the school follows through with an appeal.

Beginning next season, Gilman will have three years of eligibility to use.

Last season, Gilman started 12 of the 14 games in which he played for Navy, and was penciled in as the starter heading into the summer this year. His 76 tackles were second on the team, as were five pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. Those numbers helped lead to honorable mention All-AAC honors.

In early June, he announced his decision to transfer from the service academy. A week later, he landed in South Bend.

If he had been granted the waiver, there’s a fairly decent chance Gilman would’ve been one of the Fighting Irish’s starting safeties.

Philly to play host to four of next five Army-Navy games

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Earlier this year, it was reported that both the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees were looking into hosting future Army-Navy football games.  In fact, the latter American League East team had submitted a formal bid for the 2018 edition of one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports.

Unfortunately for both organizations, 2023 is the absolute earliest either would potentially play host to a game.

The athletic directors at both Army and Navy, Boo Corrigan and Chet Gladchuk, respectively, jointly announced Tuesday that the 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2022 games will be played at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.  The vast majority of the 117 games in the rivalry, 86 to be specific, have been played in Philadelphia.

That city will also host the 2017 game.

“The legacy of the City of Brotherly Love and the home of Army-Navy continues to be the benchmark for hosting America’s game,” said Gladchuk in a statement. “This tradition in Philly is so well received and embraced by the city and community that it remains a highlight of the season for the teams, alumni, and fans. Our appreciation to everyone, including USAA, who works so hard to make this week-long festival, culminating with our nation’s cherished match-up between Army and Navy, the fantastic experience it is.”

“Philadelphia is synonymous with the Army-Navy game, so it is fitting that we are playing at Lincoln Financial Field for four of the next five matchups,” Corrigan said in his. “I want to thank the Philadelphia Eagles and PHL Sports. We look forward to continuing the relationship with the City of Philadelphia and creating more memories for America’s Game. The interest level in the game and our future sites was extremely high with first-class bids coming from some of the nation’s best cities, which made for extensive discussions and a difficult decision for those involved.”

An official announcement on the 2021 game is expected later today, with MetLife Stadium in New Jersey the likely choice.  That season’s game will coincide with the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Baltimore (Baltimore Ravens, M&T Bank Stadium), Foxborough (New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium) and the District of Columbia (Washington Redskins) had also submitted bids to host games.

 

Report: there will be a Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl this year

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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.