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Idaho, NMSU out as Sun Belt members after 2017

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Apparently, Idaho’s sales pitch wasn’t as compelling as they’d like.

Two weeks ago, Idaho unveiled a 19-slide presentation aimed at continuing their football membership in the Sun Belt Conference, membership that was initially granted to both themselves and New Mexico State on four-year terms that are set to expire following the 2017 season.  Looking for an extension, both football programs will instead be looking for new homes in a couple of seasons.

What does the denial of extension do to the two football programs impacted by the decision? For the Vandals, it likely means dropping down to the FCS level and joining the Big Sky conference, where there other varsity sports are currently housed. For the Aggies, whose other sports play in the WAC, which doesn’t offer football, another go as an FBS independent will likely be in the offing.

With the impending departures of Idaho and New Mexico State after the 2017 season and the addition of Coastal Carolina for that season, the SBC will settle in with 10 members two years from now.  That 10-member lineup would feature teams from Texas (Texas State), Arkansas (Arkansas State), Louisiana (Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe), Alabama (South Alabama, Troy), Georgia (Georgia Southern, Georgia State), North Carolina (Appalachian State) and South Carolina (Coastal Carolina).

With the recent decision by the NCAA to deregulate conference championship games, the SBC will still be able to conduct such games with just 10 members instead of the previously-mandated 12.

UPDATED 2:51 p.m. ET: Idaho confirmed in a press release that the Sun Belt Conference has opted to go with a 10-team league following the 2017 season, putting them and New Mexico State on the outside of the conference looking in two seasons from now.  The release also stated that the university will now decide whether to accept an invitation to join the Big Sky of the FCS or compete as an independent at the FBS level.

Big 12 wins approval to stage title game as 10-team league

STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 21:  Chris Johnson #13 of the Baylor Bears carries the ball against Trace Clark #90 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Jordan Sterns #13 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the fourth quarter at Boone Pickens Stadium on November 21, 2015 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Score one for the Big 12.

The league won, by a 7 to 2 vote (the AAC and ACC were the two dissenters), approval to stage a championship game as a 10-team league, removing the requirement that conferences must consist of at least 12 teams split in two divisions to stage a title game.

Moving forward, conferences will have the ability to play a championship game as a 10-team conference as long as its round-robin schedule remains intact.

While much of the focus centers on the Big 12, the Sun Belt has also weighed the merits of staging a championship game with less than 12 teams.

The obvious losers here at Cincinnati, BYU, Memphis, Houston, Connecticut and any other team clinging to the hope of a forced expansion being their ticket to the Big 12. It could also be a blow for Idaho and New Mexico State, as their geographically-messy and competitively-challenged membership is no longer required to hold a championship.

Now, will Wednesday’s news push the Big 12 to actually stage a championship game?

Big 12 executives scheduled to meet Feb. 4, so expect the first layer of that onion to be peeled then.

Big 12 commish Bob Bowlsby was also unsure how it would go about picking the two teams to play in its hypothetical championship game (hint: it’s the teams at the top of the standings). Allow me to plug the alternate championship idea first presented in this space a year ago.

One thing Bowlsby seemed pretty sure of? The money.

And as we all know, in college football, money remains undefeated.

Derrick Henry, Christian McCaffrey and Deshaun Watson headline AP All-America team

Deshaun Watson
AP Photo
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They’ve all taken home more significant honors this season, but the decorated trio of Alabama running back Derrick Henry, Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson added yet another skin to their walls Sunday when the Associated Press named them their All-America first teams.

The SEC led the way with six first-teamers, followed by the Big Ten’s five and the Big 12’s four. Alabama and Baylor were the most decorated teams as each boasted three first-teamers. Clemson, Stanford, and Ohio State placed two players apiece on the first team.

First Team Offense
QB – Deshaun Watson, Clemson
RB – Derrick Henry, Alabama; Leonard Fournette, LSU
OT – Taylor Decker, Ohio State; Spencer Drango, Baylor
OG – Joshua Garnett, Stanford; Landon Turner, North Carolina
C – Jack Allen, Michigan State
WR – Corey Coleman, Baylor; Josh Doctson, TCU
TE – Hunter Henry, Arkansas
AP – Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
K – Ka’imi Fairbairn, UCLA

First Team Defense
DE – Shaq Lawson, Clemson; Carl Nassib, Penn State
DT – A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama; Andrew Billings, Baylor
LB – Reggie Ragland, Alabama; Tyler Matakevich, Temple; Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame
S – Jeremy Cash, Duke; Vonn Bell, Ohio State
CB – Desmond King, Iowa; Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
P – Tom Hackett, Utah

Second Team Offense
QB – Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
RB – Dalvin Cook, Florida State; Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State
OT – Jack Conklin, Michigan State; Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
OG – Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas; Pat Elflein, Ohio State
C – Ryan Kelly, Alabama
WR – Will Fuller, Notre Dame; JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC
TE – Jake Butt, Michigan
AP – Morgan Burns, Kansas State
K – Jake Elliott, Memphis

Second Team Defense
DE – Joey Bosa, Ohio State; DeForest Buckner, Oregon
DT – Robert Nkemdiche, Ohio State; Sheldon Day, Notre Dame
LB – Joe Schobert, Wisconsin; Kentrell Brothers, Missouri; Eric Striker, Oklahoma
S – Trae Elston, Ole Miss; Jayron Kearse, Clemson
CB – Jourdan Lewis, Michigan; Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
S – Drew Kaiser, Texas A&M

Third Team Offense
QB – Keenan Reynolds, Navy
RB – Royce Freeman, Oregon; Larry Rose III, New Mexico State
OT – Jason Spriggs, Indiana; Vadal Alexander, LSU
OG – Dan Feeney, Indiana; Joe Thuney, N.C. State
C – Austin Blythe, Iowa
WR – Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss; Roger Lewis, Bowling Green
TE – Austin Hooper, Stanford
AP – Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech
K – Adam Schneider, Oregon

Third Team Defense
DE – Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State; Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
DT – Jonathan Bullard, Florida; Kenny Clark, UCLA
LB – Su’a Cravens, USC; Blake Martinez, Stanford; Anthony Walker, Northwestern
S – Eddie Jackson, Alabama; Darian Thompson, Boise State
CB – Mackensie Alexander, Clemson; Shawun Lurry, Northern Illinois
P – Hayden Hunt, Colorado State

Arkansas State claims fourth SBC title in five years

Blake Anderson
Associated Press
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There might not be a more impressive Group of Five football program than Arkansas State right now.

The Red Wolves have had five different head coaches since 2010.  This season under Blake Anderson is the first that’s seen the same head coach in back-to-back seasons since 2009-10, with Hugh Freeze (2011), Gus Malzahn (2012) moving on to positions at Power Five schools and Bryan Harsin (2013) taking the job at his alma mater Boise State in that span.

But the most impressive facet of the program?  The success amidst all of the change.

Thanks to ASU’s 52-28 win over New Mexico State, the Red Wolves pushed their 2015 record to 8-3 overall and 7-0 in league play and landed them another Sun Belt Conference trophy.  Appalachian State (6-1 in conference play) had a slight chance at its first outright SBC championship, but they would’ve needed two wins combined with two ASU losses to close out the season.  The Mountaineers could still claim a co-championship with a win next week and a Red Wolves loss, while the latter would claim it outright with a win.

Regardless it’s the first title for Anderson, but the program’s fourth in the past five seasons — three outright, one shared — with all four coming with a different head coach on the sidelines.

Coach Anderson and his program won’t get the credit they deserve nationally, but they should be applauded for building upon and sustaining the foundation they’ve been given by their predecessors.

Week 10, Statistically Speaking

stats word on a lptop computer
Associated Press
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A statistical snapshot of the week that was in college football…

.540 — Winning percentage (20-17) of road teams in Pac-12 conference games this season.

.966 — Winning percentage of Ohio State (28-1) in the last 29 regular season games.  Baylor and Florida State (27-2 each) are next at .931.

5 — Blocked kicks (punts, point afters, field goals) for both Illinois and Temple this season, the most of any FBS team.

6 — Rushing touchdowns for Kenneth Dixon in Louisiana Tech’s 56-13 thumping of North Texas

10 — Number of players who both caught passes and had at least one carry in Michigan’s romp over Rutgers.

Nebraska v Illinois11.2 — Yards per carry Ke'Shawn Vaughn (16-180) and Josh Ferguson (12-133) averaged during Illinois’ 34-point blowout of Purdue.

12 — Different players who caught passes in UCLA’s shutout win over Oregon State and North Carolina’s 35-point win over Duke.

25 — With Frank Beamer retiring at Virginia Tech, and provided he doesn’t do the same, Kansas State’s Bill Snyder will be the longest-tenured FBS head coach at the same school at a quarter of a century next season.  Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops would be next at 18 years, followed by TCU’s Gary Patterson at 16.

29 — Consecutive Big Ten regular season wins for Ohio State, tying Florida State (ACC, 1992-95) for the fourth-longest conference winning streak of all-time.  Oklahoma won 44 straight Big 7/8 games from 1952-59, while OU (Big 8, 1984-88) and Boise State (WAC, 2001-05) are tied for the second-longest streak at 31 straight.

TCU v Oklahoma State32.5 — Yards per catch Oklahoma State’s James Washington has averaged the past three games (15 catches, 487 yards).

39 — Consecutive winning seasons for Florida State, the nation’s longest active streak.

77 — Consecutive games for Oregon in which they’ve thrown a touchdown pass, extending their own FBS record.  Texas Tech (2006-11) had held the previous record at 69 straight before it was broken by the Ducks earlier this year.

207 — Rushing yards for New Mexico State’s Larry Rose III in a win over Texas State, giving him back-to-back 200-yard games and three on the season.

212.7 — Pass efficiency rating for Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson over the last four games (111-144, 1,602 yards, 19 touchdowns, one interception).  Baylor’s Seth Russell currently leads the country at 189.7; Johnson is third at 179.1.

Rice v Baylor216 — Receiving yards for Corey Coleman, the second time in the Baylor receiver’s career is topped 200 yards.  The nation’s leading receiver in yardage, Coleman has topped 100 yards in seven of eight games this season.  He’s also caught two or more touchdowns in seven straight games.

268 — Yards rushing and passing Temple accumulated in rolling up 536 yards of offense in a 60-40 win over SMU Friday night.

404 — Yards passing for North Carolina’s Marquis Williams against Duke in the first half.  Williams would finish with a school-record 494 yards, and set another program standard with 524 yards of total offense.

419 — Yards passing for Jarrett Stidham in his first career start in Baylor’s win over Kansas State Thursday night.

442 — Career-high passing yards for Brandon Allen in Arkansas’ overtime win over Ole Miss.  Is was the second 400-yard game of Allen’s career, both of which have come this season.

Stanford v Washington State497 — Yards passing for Washington State’s Luke Falk in the win over Arizona State.  It’s Falk’s eighth straight game with 300 or more yards, and fifth time this season he’s gone over 400 yards.

518 — Yards of total offense (445 passing, 73 rushing) for Trevone Boykin in TCU’s loss to Oklahoma State.

523 — Career-high passing yards for Gunner Kiel in Cincinnati’s loss to undefeated Houston.

711 — Yards of total offense for Western Michigan in Thursday’s 54-7 win over Ball State, breaking the school single-game record.  The total is the most by a MAC team this season and the seventh-most in conference history.

777 — Yards of total offense (300 passing, 477 rushing) for Oregon in the win over Cal.

1937 — Last year North Carolina State had beaten Boston College in Chestnut Hill prior to Saturday’s 24-8 road win.  NCSU had previously lost six in a row at BC.

Notre Dame v Pittsburgh3,097 — Career receiving yards for Pittsburgh’s Tyler Boyd, breaking the record of 3,061 yards previously held by Antonio Bryant.

9,200 — Number of songs downloaded onto TCU head coach Gary Patterson‘s iPod, at least according to that school’s sports information department.

35,050 — Amount, in dollars, of the highest current bid in an auction for a Leonard Fournette game-used jersey and a pair of game-used helmets signed by Les Miles and Steve Spurrier.  The opening bid, incidentally, was $7,000.  All of the money raised in the auction will go toward the South Carolina flood relief effort.

One final statistical note, in list form, courtesy of the Ohio State sports information department:

Best 50-Game Starts at FBS School
1. 47-3-0 – Urban Meyer, Ohio State (2012-15)
T2. 46-4-0 – Chris Petersen, Boise State (2006-09)
T2. 46-4-0 – Dennis Erickson, Miami (1989-92)
T4. 45-2-3 – Robert Neyland, Tennessee (1926-31)
T4. 45-3-2 – Barry Switzer, Oklahoma (1973-77)
T6. 44-3-3 – Knute Rockne, Notre Dame (1918-23)
T6. 44-6-0 – Dan Hawkins, Boise State (2001-04)
T6. 44-6-0 – Larry Coker, Miami (2001-04)
T6. 44-6-0 – Bob Devaney, Nebraska (1962-66)
T10. 43-6-1 – John Robinson, USC (1976-80)
T10. 43-6-1 – Bud Wilkinson, Oklahoma (1947-51)