UMass Minutemen

STATESBORO, GA - OCTOBER 17:  Quarterback Andrew Allen #8 of the New Mexico State Aggies attempts a pass against the Georgia Southern Eagles during the second quarter on October 17, 2015 at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro, Georgia.  (Photo by Todd Bennett/GettyImages)
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New Mexico State putting together FBS independent schedule for 2018

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The Sun Belt is giving Idaho and New Mexico State the old heave ho after next season, and college football’s newest orphans are going about their futures in separate ways. Idaho has announced it will join the Big Sky Conference beginning in 2018, while New Mexico State is going to go it alone as an FBS independent.

Which means, obviously, New Mexico State will have to build its own schedule, each and every year.

The Aggies have begun doing so for 2018. On Monday they announced a home-and-home with Wyoming that will see the Cowboys visit Las Cruces on Aug. 25, 2018 — New Mexico State’s first game as an independent — while the Aggies will make a return visit to Laramie on Sept. 21, 2024.

It will be the two programs’ first meetings since 1953 — the only time New Mexico State and Wyoming have met on the field.

“Deputy AD Braun Cartwright and I have put in an enormous amount of time on football scheduling with the focus on securing games with regional Group of 5 opponents,” New Mexico State AD Mario Moccia said earlier this week. “Unlike in 2013 when we played four Power 5 conference programs, which had ripple effects on future year’s schedules, we have really focused on the home-and-home model.”

On Thursday, New Mexico State another home-and-home with current Sun Belt bunkmate Louisiana-Lafayette. New Mexico State will visit Lafayette on either Sept. 8 or Oct. 6, 2018, while the Ragin’ Cajuns will return the favor on Nov. 16, 2019.

New Mexico State also has a previously scheduled game at Minnesota on Aug. 30, leaving nine games still to be filled. The Aggies could seemingly find dance partners in fellow FBS independents BYU, Army and Massachusetts (Notre Dame is a different story), but even then New Mexico State still has to fill seven more games with the 2018 season only 20 months away.

Hurricane Matthew forces date changes to two FBS games

The high winds of Hurricane Matthew roar over Baracoa, Cuba, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. The dangerous Category 4 storm blew ashore in Haiti, unloading heavy rain as it swirled on toward a lightly populated part of Cuba and the Bahamas. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
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A hurricane barreling its way up the East Coast has had its first impact on Week 6, but it likely won’t be the last.

In a release, UCF and Tulane announced that they have reached an agreement in postponing their football game this weekend to Saturday, Nov. 5.  The two teams had been scheduled to play in Orlando Friday night, but the impact of Hurricane Matthew triggered the decision to push the game back to early next month.

Both teams have a bye for Week 9, making the move easier on all involved.

“Taking into account all the latest projections for Hurricane Matthew, we have to keep the safety of everyone involved in these events at the forefront of our decision-making,” UCF athletic director Dr. Daniel J. White said in a statement. “We appreciate our friends at Tulane and Houston understanding and working with us through this situation. Mike Aresco and the American Athletic Conference staff has been very helpful, as well.”

In addition to that game, the UMass-Old Dominion in Norfolk, Va., that had been scheduled for 6 p.m. ET Saturday evening has been moved to Friday night at 8 p.m. local time.  The projected path of Matthew has the storm hitting that area late Saturday night.

For Power Five games such as LSU-Florida in Gainesville, Florida State-Miami in Miami Gardens, Virginia Tech-North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Notre Dame-North Carolina State in Raleigh and Georgia-South Carolina in Columbia, the schools and conferences continue to monitor the situation, although, as of this posting, all of those games are scheduled to go off as planned. The governor of South Carolina was quoted as saying she “can’t imagine” the UGA-USC being played as scheduled, and there has been talk of moving the game to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, although Gamecock officials reportedly haven’t spoken to anyone at that venue about shift.

One note: Georgia’s volleyball team was scheduled to travel to South Carolina for a game in Columbia Friday night; the schools announced earlier today that, because of Hurricane Matthew, that game has been moved to Athens. Additionally, USC has closed its campus Thursday and Friday and cancelled all classes in preparation for the storm’s arrival.

LOOK: Mississippi State will dress Patriotic for visit to UMass Saturday

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 11:  Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the New England Patriots throws a pass during the first quarter of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s true, Mississippi State and Adidas are huge fans of the New England Patriots.

The Bulldogs will pay Massachusetts a visit — and not for a vacation, an actual football game — on Saturday, and the Minutemen will use the Patriots’ Gillette Stadium as their own.

So Mississippi State will dress like the Patriots.

Take a look, and then compare with the shot of the Patriots’ uniform above.

Mississippi State and UMass have never met previously, so how is this a “homecoming,” as Adidas describes it? Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen grew up in Manchester, N.H., which Google Maps tells me is just a short two-hour drive from Foxborough.

Anything you can do to psyche yourself up to play UMass in an empty stadium, I guess.

LOOK: Teams across the country commemorate 9/11 anniversary

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As you are no doubt aware, tomorrow marks the 15th anniversary of one of the darkest days this country has ever faced.

To commemorate and honor those souls lost in New York City, Washington D.C. and Shanksville, as well as the military that continues to keep us safe, teams all across the country used the Week 2 game-day stage to wear helmets and uniforms — and gloves and cleats — in remembrance of 9/11.  Below are but a few of those:

(Writer’s note: schools or fans, if I’m missing any — and I’m sure I am — forward them to me at John.Taylor AT nbcuni.com and I’ll add them.)

Two frosh WRs suspended for Florida’s opener, but Antonio Callaway cleared to play vs. UMass

LEXINGTON, KY - SEPTEMBER 19: Antonio Callaway #81 of the Florida Gators runs with the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Florida has seen its receiving corps suffer some attrition, but the most important and productive component of that group is officially returning.

Jim McElwain confirmed to the media Monday that Antonio Callaway has been cleared to take the field again and will play in the opener this weekend against UMass. The Gators head coach said he learned of the university’s decision this past Friday.

McElwain’s confirmation comes two weeks after a controversial Title IX hearing found the receiver not responsible for an alleged sexual assault.

A former UF student-athlete and current football booster had been assigned to oversee the Title IX hearing involving current Callaway and former UF quarterback Treon Harris, both of whom were accused in January by a woman of sexually assaulting her this past December.  The alleged victim, as well as her parents and potential witnesses on her behalf, boycotted the hearing because of what they perceived as a conflict of interest.

The true sophomore had been suspended not only from the team but from the university since late January for a violation of the Student Conduct Code, later known to involve an alleged sexual assault.  In March, Huntley Johnson, a lawyer well-known in and around Gainesville as the go-to attorney for Gator student-athletes who run into legal issues, issued a statement in which he claimed that the allegation against his non-client “has no merit.”

Johnson released a statement in early June in which he stated that a modified suspension would permit his client to attend classes on campus as well as allow him to use the football team’s practice facilities.  Early on in summer camp, UF confirmed that Callaway will be permitted to practice with the Gators as they await the results of the hearing, which proceeded without the accuser and her witnesses.

Last season in his first year with the Gators, Calloway led the team in receiving yards (678) and tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns (four). His 19.4 yards per catch led the squad, while his 35 receptions were good for third.

At the end of the regular season, he was named to the All-SEC Freshman team.  Earlier today, he was, not surprisingly, listed as a starting receiver on the depth chart released ahead of the opener.

In addition to the Callaway news, McElwain also confirmed that Tyrie Cleveland and Rick Wells will be suspended for the opener. The true freshmen receivers were arrested in mid-July on a pair of charges related to a BB gun incident that was caught on surveillance video.

Cleveland and Wells are the third and fourth Gators suspended for the opener. It was announced earlier this month that All-SEC cornerback Jalen Tabor and sophomore tight end C'yontai Lewis would miss the opener because of what turned out to be a fight during practice between the two players.