South Alabama Jaguars

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 17:  Leonard Fournette #7 of the LSU Tigers prepares to run the ball against the Florida Gators at Tiger Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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Report: Sun Belt may hold keys to LSU-Florida being played


The flap over the postponement of the LSU-Florida game because of Hurricane Matthew continues, although an unlikely partner could hold the keys to getting the game played.

Florida has publicly stated it would be willing to buy out its Nov. 19 game against Presbyterian and play LSU in Gainesville.  LSU, which had offered to host the Gators or even play at a neutral site this past weekend, is unwilling to give up a home date Nov. 19 by buying out South Alabama in order to get the UF game rescheduled.

According to‘s Brett McMurphy, there are two viable options to getting the game played, with both options involving Sun Belt teams juggling their schedules to accommodate the LSU-UF game Nov. 19:

Scenario 1:

LSU at Florida is moved to Nov. 19;

South Alabama at LSU is moved from Nov. 19 to Oct. 29, LSU’s current open date;

South Alabama moves its Oct. 29 home game with Georgia State to Nov. 19;

Georgia State moves its Nov. 19 home date with Georgia Southern to Nov. 26, which is an open date for both Sun Belt teams.

Scenario 2 is the same as Scenario 1 (LSU at UF Nov. 19; USA at LSU on Oct. 29) with the exception of:

South Alabama moves its Oct. 29 home game with Georgia State to Nov. 12, USA’s current open date;

Georgia State moves its Nov. 12 home game with Louisiana Monroe to Nov. 26, which is an open date for both teams.

The Sun Belt teams involved, which McMurphy wrote “likely would require some financial compensation for the various expenses in rescheduling home games,” are amenable to multiple moves, while UF athletic director Jeremy Foley has previously stated he would be willing to give the home date against the FCS school in order to get what could be a key conference game played.  Foley’s counterpart at LSU, Joe Alleva, has previously stated very staunchly that he will not give up the Nov. 19 home game, although either of the two options noted by McMurphy would allow the program to keep its full complement of home games this year.

Playing the game Nov. 19 would likely also require the LSU-Texas A&M game, scheduled for Thanksgiving Day five days later, to be moved back two days to Saturday.  All involved would likely sign off on such a move.

One other potential scenario that had been bandied about, moving the SEC championship game from Dec. 3 to Dec. 10 and playing the LSU-Florida game on the vacated date, is labeled as “highly, highly unlikely” by McMurphy, specifically because the College Football Playoff committee will not hold off on releasing the final standings that will determine the four semifinalists.  That release is scheduled for Dec. 4.

If the game is not played at all, it has the potential to cause some embarrassment for the SEC as it pertains to its championship game.

Per conference bylaws, the winner of the East or West divisions of the SEC is determined by the team with the highest winning percentage. LSU currently stands at 2-1 in league play; if the Tigers win out to finish at 6-1, which would include a win over Alabama, and again the postponed game is not made up, the Tigers could lose out on the West’s spot in the conference championship game to a 7-1 Tide team they beat on the field because of winning percentage (.875 for UA, .857 for LSU).  That scenario, of course, assumes both LSU and ‘Bama handle current conference-unbeaten Texas A&M.

While the potential situation in the other division is not nearly as embarrassing as the above, it’s still a possibility.

Tennessee and Florida are currently tied for the SEC East lead at 2-1, with the Gators’ lone loss coming to the Vols. Should the Gators win out they’d finish at 6-1. If the Vols stumble twice to finish at 6-2, Florida would receive the title game berth based of winning percentage.

War of words continues over rescheduled LSU/Florida game as Tigers rule out Nov. 19

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 17:  Leonard Fournette #7 of the LSU Tigers is tackled by Keanu Neal #42 of the Florida Gators at Tiger Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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The war of words regarding the potential rescheduling of LSU’s game at Florida continued for the second straight week on Monday.

The contest was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew hitting the state over the weekend and the Tigers in particular have held firm that the game will not be played because the two schools do not share a common bye week. Many have expected that the two programs will find a way to either move or buyout their cupcake games against lower level opponents on November 19th in order to find a way to play, but that apparently is not going to happen if one side gets its way.

“What I said the other day about this game being very difficult to reschedule is still true,” LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said at a press conference on Monday. “One thing we’re going to hold very firm on is that we have a home game on Nov. 19 and we’re going to have a home game on Nov. 19. We are going to have a game on Nov. 19. We are not going to change that situation.”

LSU plays South Alabama in Baton Rouge on that date while Florida hosts Presbyterian. The cost to buyout both games is reportedly in the $2 million range but the Tigers are understandably holding a little firmer than the Gators on the matter because they bring in millions for a home game and don’t want to lose that revenue.

“The presidents and athletic directors from Florida and LSU agreed on Thursday that the schools and SEC Office would make every effort to find a scheduling solution to their postponed game,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a release. “As I have said, we need to play the game we need to have people come together to find a way to make that happen. We continue to work with the universities to play this game.”

“We understand the importance of playing this game and we want to play this game,” Florida AD Jeremy Foley added in a statement of his own. “We continue to work with the SEC and LSU to make that happen.”

Other dates being discussed include October 29th, when LSU is on a bye. That would prove to be problematic however as Florida plays their annual rivalry game against Georgia in Jacksonville and it’s doubtful the Tigers want to give up the open week before playing Alabama anyway. Playing the game on December 3rd and moving the SEC title game back a week has also been brought up but the scenario seems far-fetched given the logistical hurdles involved and the impact it will have on the postseason picture across the country.

While there’s still two months left in the season, the game between the two schools could have a big impact as to who wins both divisions. The SEC determines who plays in the championship game based on winning percentage, so there could be issues if either finished 6-1 in conference play — earning a trip to Atlanta over a 6-2 team that played all their SEC games.

It will be interesting to see what the SEC office decides to do with the matchup but it seems quite clear that both sides are really digging in to do what’s best for them when it comes to rescheduling the game.

UAB and South Alabama schedule home-and-home for 2019-2020

STARKVILLE, MS - SEPTEMBER 3: Cornerback Jeremy Reaves #1 of the South Alabama Jaguars celebrates after a big play during their game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Starkville, Mississippi. The South Alabama Jaguars defeated the Mississippi State Bulldogs 21-20. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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As UAB works to make their return to college football, there is also the business of securing future football games. On Friday, the Blazers added two more future games against an in-state opponent, South Alabama. The two schools in Alabama announced a future home-and-home series to be played in 2019 and 2020.

UAB will host South Alabama on September 21, 2019. South Alabama will be the home team the following season, on September 26, 2020.

The two schools were originally slated to play a series in 2015 and 2016, but UAB’s decision to shut the football program down forced a cancellation in the series and led to South Alabama looking for other ways to fill the gaps on the schedule. As a result, South Alabama landed a two-game series with San Diego State of the Mountain West Conference, which turned in to two victories for the South Alabama program. Last weekend’s victory over the Aztecs was the first against a top 25 program in South Alabama program history. Once UAB reversed course on the decision to shut the football program down, it was expected to be only a matter of time before UAB and South Alabama could put together new plans for an upcoming series.

UAB will return to the football field in 2017, at which time they will rejoin Conference USA and retain their full FBS status.

South Alabama smothers San Diego State, ends Aztecs’ 13-game winning streak

From left to right, South Alabama defensive end Randy Allen tries to tackle San Diego State quarterback Christian Chapman during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Dan Anderson)
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Earlier today, we made note of the nation’s longest winning streaks, with San Diego State surprising some in holding the second-longest at the FBS level behind defending national champion Alabama.  Roughly 12 hours later?

Never mind.

In one of the more startling under-the-radar results of Week 5, South Alabama overcame an SDSU lead late in the third quarter to run away with a 42-24 upset of the 19th-ranked Aztecs.  In the program’s fifth season at the FBS level, this marks the first-ever win over a ranked team for the Jaguars.

While it comes as a surprise, perhaps it shouldn’t as USA dropped a Mississippi State team in Starkville in the opener that’s currently 2-2.  Of course, they also fumbled away a game to Louisiana-Lafayette and escaped with a one-point overtime win over FCS Nicholls State just a week ago.

For the Aztecs, the loss snapped a 13-game winning streak that began the week after a Sept. 26 loss to Penn State last season.  Interestingly, that loss to the Nittany Lions was the back-end of a two-game losing streak.  The front-end?  A 34-27 loss to the Jaguars in overtime.

Group of Five Power-Ranking: It’s Houston and everybody else

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 03:  Greg Ward Jr. #1 of the Houston Cougars takes the field for warmups with his teammates prior to the start of their game against the Oklahoma Sooners during the Advocare Texas Kickoff on September 3, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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As you no doubt know by now, one spot in the New Years Six bowl line-up at the end of the year will be reserved to the highest-ranked conference champion from the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West Conference or Sun Belt Conference as viewed by the College Football Playoff selection committee. Houston of the AAC took that honor last season with a 12-1 record and took advantage of it by smacking around Florida State in the Peach Bowl. As the 2016 season got underway, Houston left little doubt they intend to be back in the New Years Six lineup again this season, and they may even have their sights now locked in on a possible playoff debate down the line.

One thing to take note here is I tend to not give teams credit for winning games against FCS opponents. Naturally, there were a handful of those games this past weekend. Also, I do not include BYU or Army in this power-ranking, as they do not qualify for the automatic New Years Six bowl spot the way the system is currently organized. But each had solid victories this weekend as well. So, if I had to rank the Group of Five candidates after one week of games, here is how I would rank them to date.

1. Houston (1-0)

It’s pretty simple, really. Houston was the Group of Five team to beta last year and entered 2016 with that expectation once again. No better way to stay ahead of the pack than by jumping all over Oklahoma, a Big 12 favorite this season. It is predicted Houston could have a stranglehold on this top spot in my personal ranking for quite some time, as I actually have gone on record predicting an undefeated season by Houston. The odds are they could be tripped up somewhere along the way (Louisville?), but after getting by the Sooners you have to be feeling pretty good if you are a fan of Houston.

2. Western Michigan (1-0)

The Rowing PJ Flecks managed to do something in game one that Stanford was unable to a year ago; win a game at Northwestern. True, the Broncos did not have to battle against a time zone shift as the Cardinal did for an early kickoff, and the Broncos nearly handed Northwestern a win (quite literally), but a win’s a win. It’s not as though this is a hapless Northwestern squad either. The Wildcats won 10 games last season, but Western Michigan hung around long enough and took advantage of some late opportunities and had a lucky break go their way in the end. They’ll take it and claim the second spot in the ranking this week. They might just have enough to stay there for a while too.

3. Southern Mississippi (1-0)

Watch out for Southern Mississippi this season. Nick Mullens had some rough moments against Kentucky but pulled it together with a strong running game charged by Ito Smith and George Payne to rally on the road against Kentucky.Southern Miss outscored the Wildcats 28-0 after halftime en route to a 44-35 victory in Lexington, already putting the hopes of a bowl game on thin ice for Kentucky.

4. South Alabama (1-0)

Staying on the road in the SEC, we have the South Alabama Jaguars fresh off a nail biter of a road win at Mississippi State. The Jags fell juts behind Southern Miss here because they nearly let the Bulldogs off the hook. Mississippi State moved right down the field following a kickoff out of bounds, and had the game-winning field goal attempt clang(a) off the goal post, giving the Jaguars a win. But applaud the effort. They put Mississippi State in a hole when they needed it the most.

5. Boise State (1-0)

I whiffed at Boise State last season, but the Broncos got off on the right foot this season. While not of the same caliber of Houston’s win, it was hard not to be impressed with how Boise State smacked around Louisiana-Lafayette on the road. Boise State made the trip down to Louisiana and left with a 45-10 victory in far more impressive fashion than I anticipated for this one. It was the kind of blowout win Boise State would make routine in their prime a few years back. Could this be a sign of things to come? In any event, you get credit for winning head-to-head games against other Group of Five conferences, and the Mountain Wets Conference definitely needed that. Boise State could keep the pressure on Houston to keep winning, if the Broncos can avoid messing up things on their own.

On the Radar: Tulsa, Western Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, Cincinnati, Navy, USF, East Carolina, Toledo, Wyoming, New Mexico, Air Force, Utah State, UNLV, San Diego State, Marshall, Georgia Southern