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In advance of FBS move, Liberty announces 13 future match-ups

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Liberty doesn’t have a conference home, but the Flames aren’t letting a little logistical hurdle like that stop them from manifesting their destiny.

The school is moving up to FBS in 2018 whether FBS wants them or not, and the Flames on Wednesday took a major step forward by announcing 13 future games, primarily filling out schedules for the early years of the next decade.

“The announcement of these additional football series give Flames Nation a taste of our future football schedules,” Liberty AD Ian McCaw said in a statement. “We are close to completing schedules for our first five seasons of FBS football. I appreciate Mickey Guridy‘s diligent efforts is securing these agreements.”

The future games break out as follows:

Bowling Green
Oct. 3, 2020 — at Bowling Green
Sept. 2, 2023 — at Liberty

Marshall
Oct. 14, 2023 — at Marshall
Oct. 5, 2024 — at Liberty

Massachusetts
Nov. 2, 2019 — at UMass
Nov. 28, 2020 — at Liberty
Nov. 6, 2021 — at Liberty

NC State
Nov. 21, 2020 — at NC State

Troy
Sept. 11, 2021 — at Troy

UAB
Oct. 2, 2021 — at UAB
Sept. 10, 2022 — at Liberty

Liberty opens this season at Baylor, and will face 10 FBS foes in 2018, including trips to Virginia and Auburn.

College Football Hall of Fame coach Dick MacPherson passes away

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College Football Hall of Fame coach Dick MacPherson passed away Tuesday. He was 86.

The news was first reported by the Syracuse Post-Standard and later confirmed by the Syracuse football program.

MacPherson played center and linebacker at Springfield College in Massachusetts in the 1950’s before starting his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Illinois in 1958. He earned his first head coaching job at Massachusetts in 1971 and in seven seasons guided the Minutemen to four Yankee Conference championships.

MacPherson left Amherst for an assistant coaching job with the Cleveland Browns, but he returned to the college game as the head coach at Syracuse in 1981. MacPherson led the Orangemen, then a Division I independent, 66-46-4 mark in 10 seasons. He was just 30-31-1 over his first six seasons but exploded over his final four. Syracuse posted an undefeated regular season in 1987, playing Auburn to a tie in the Sugar Bowl and earning a No. 4 final ranking. Syracuse went 10-2 in 1988 and 15-8-2 over his final two seasons.

That success led him to the head coaching job with the New England Patriots, where he lasted two seasons. MacPherson never returned to coaching after that, but did serve as the program’s color commentator on television and radio broadcasts. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

MacPherson’s grandsons Macky and Cameron later played for the Orange, and Macky currently serves as a graduate assistant on current Syracuse head coach Dino Babers‘s staff. In addition to Macky and Cameron, MacPherson is survived by two more grandchildren, two daughters and his wife, Sandra.

 

ACC tops as Bronko Nagurski watch list hits triple digits

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It may not be the biggest award in college football, but it’s certainly the most voluminous.

Watch List Season continued unabated Thursday morning, with the Bronko Nagurski Trophy revealing a group which consists of a whopping 103 FBA players.  Within that triple-digit preseason club, there are 30 defensive backs, 29 linebackers, 25 defensive ends and 19 defensive tackles.

Two 2016 first-team Football Writers Association of America All-Americans appear on the list — Clemson’s Christian Wilkins (pictured) and Florida State’s Tarvarus McFadden.

Conference-wise, the ACC leads with 20 players selected for the initial watch list.  The Big Ten is next with 16, followed by the SEC’s 14, the Pac-12’s 13 and the Big 12’s 11.  The AAC paced Group of Five leagues with 10, with the Sun Belt (6), Mountain West (5), Mid-American (3) and Conference USA (2) rounding out the conferences, while football independents chipped in the remaining three.

The Nagurski Trophy has been handed out annually since 1993 to college football’s best defensive player.  Last year’s winner was Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen.


UMass lines up future games against Big Ten opponents

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UMass may never get a chance to be invited to the Big Ten, so the program will have to settle with playing non-conference games against them instead. The Minutemen have announced future games against Big Ten members Rutgers and Northwestern for the 2019 season, respectively.

UMass will play both games on the road in one-game deals. The Minutemen will travel to Rutgers on August 31, 2019. Later in the year, on November 16, UMass will travel to Northwestern. UMass and Northwestern have never met on the field in football, but the Minutemen and Scarlet Knights have a brief history. The two schools played four times between 1967 and 1978, with each school winning two games.

In other scheduling news, UMass also announced a 2018 game against FCS opponent Duquesne. UMass will host Duquesne on August 25, 2018 in college football’s Week 0, because the Dukes have a road trip to Hawaii scheduled in 2018.

UMass is entering its second season as a football independent since being removed from the MAC. UMass went just 2-10 last season but hope the experience gained by a young roster can grow in 2017. UMass was probably better than their record would indicate, although they still have a long shot to getting to bowl eligibility for the first time in program history. UMass has not had a season with more than three wins since moving up to the FBS from the FCS in 2012, and the 2017 schedule throws UMass no favors. The Minutemen play road games as defending AAC champion Temple, potential AAC favorite USF, BYU and two SEC schools (Tennessee and Mississippi State).

UMass the landing spot for Ex-Syracuse RB Jordan Fredericks

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After leaving one Northeast football program, Jordan Fredericks will continue his collegiate playing career at another.

On his social media accounts Saturday, Fredericks announced he has decided to enroll at UMass and play for the Minutemen.  The running back will have to sit out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

Beginning in 2018, he’d have two seasons of eligibility to use.

As a true freshman in 2015, Fredericks led Syracuse in rushing with 607 yards. Under new head coach Dino Babers, Fredericks saw his rush attempts plummet from 107 to 28 in 2016. He ran for 139 yards in what turned out to be his last season with the Orange.

In December, Fredericks announced his decision to transfer.