Texas State Bobcats

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 15: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is seen during the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Notre Dame Stadium on October 15, 2016 in South Bend, Indiana. Stanford defeated Notre Dame 17-10. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Independents and Group of Five National Signing Day Recap: Irish bounce back, Memphis tops AAC

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Outside of the Power Five conferences, recruiting went about as expected in 2017.

Notre Dame continued to pound the national trail and landed a top 12 class full of players who will be expected to play early. BYU managed another impressive group that was one of the most diverse out there. The schools with a talent-rich backyard to draw on did well in the AAC.  Boise State was once again tops in the Mountain West and did better than a few peers in the region. And yes, Lane Kiffin earned that recruiting reputation by pulling in the best class of Conference USA.

Though there wasn’t much drama outside the top schools, there nevertheless was plenty of action for many programs on National Signing Day.

Top recruits (all rankings via 247Sports Composite): No. 67 overall Brock Wright (TE, Notre Dame), No. 154 overall Chaz Ah You (DB, BYU), Aisa Kelemete (DE, Boise State), Nick Robinson (TE, Memphis), Nicholas Sims (RB, Toledo)

Top classes: Notre Dame (No. 11 overall), Memphis (No. 58 overall), Boise State (No. 60 overall), BYU (No. 65 overall), Florida Atlantic (No. 71 overall), Toledo (No. 74 overall), Texas State (No. 87 overall)

Biggest storyline: Irish still land solid recruiting class

Despite the worst season in South Bend since Charlie Weis and a nearly brand new coaching staff, Notre Dame still managed to cobble together a top 12 class on Signing Day. Tight end Brock Wright was the highest rated player and should see early playing time but the number of quality offensive linemen was really evident in the group Brian Kelly signed. Will it be enough to help with a big turnaround? We’ll see.

Biggest surprise: Memphis runs away with things in the AAC but new coaches still fared well

Given all the turnover in the American this year, it should probably come as no surprise that the Tigers pulled the top recruiting class in the conference. That’s a testament to what Mike Norvell is building with the program and the fact that they don’t have to go far for players. Many of the same factors played a role in Scott Frost landing the second-best class at UCF. It was also pretty impressive what Luke Fickell did on the recruiting trail at Cincinnati and Charlie Strong did at USF given those two didn’t have a ton of time to get things lined up.

Don’t sleep on: Boise State, Colorado State

The Broncos were once again the class of the Mountain West on the recruiting trail and fended off several Pac-12 schools for prospects. That will put them firmly in the mix to win the league again in 2017 but don’t overlook another good job by Mike Bobo and staff at Colorado State in landing 17 three-star players.

We’ll see about: Everybody else

New Mexico State putting together FBS independent schedule for 2018

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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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.

No major injuries as one Texas State team bus rear-ends another

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - SEPTEMBER 17:  Head Coach Everett Withers of the Texas State Bobcats on the sidelines during the first half of a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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It appears that one FBS football program has averted what could’ve been a significant tragedy.

According to the San Marcos Daily Record, one of Texas State’s team buses rear-ended another while the Bobcats were en route to their game against New Mexico State in Las Cruces.  While it was initially feared that some of the injuries were significant, it was subsequently determined that there were no life-threatening injuries were involved.

Five people were transported to the hospital for further evaluation.  None of those injured were players or coaches, and the conditions of those that were involved is unknown at this time.

The El Paso Times reports that the accident was causing significant traffic backups on I-10 East in Vinton, Tex., near the New Mexico border.

The Daily Record writes that “players and coaches were loaded on a replacement bus and are headed toward the stadium.” Because of the accident, the game originally scheduled to kickoff at 4 p.m. ET has been pushed back to 5:15.

Both the Bobcats and Aggies will enter this afternoon’s game at 2-7.  The former will be looking for its first Sun Belt win of the season as well as end a seven-game conference losing streak.

Sackless in South Bend: Irish lone remaining FBS team without a sack

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And then there was one.

Entering Week 4, Nevada and Notre Dame were the lone FBS teams that had yet to register a sack during the first quarter of the 2016 season.  Midway through the second quarter of the game against Purdue today, however, Nevada’s Korey Rush sacked David Blough for a four-yard loss.

With Notre Dame not playing until 3:30 ET this afternoon (on NBC), that leaves the Irish standing alone as the only sackless team left at the FBS level.

Ironically enough, Purdue entered today’s game as one of five FBS teams, along with East Carolina, Northern Illinois, Texas State and West Virginia, that had recorded just one sack on the year.  And, for those who are curious, Florida came into Week 4 leading the nation in sacks with 16.

No. 2 in that category?  The Irish’s opponent this afternoon, the Blue Devils (tied with Ball State).

UPDATED 6:11 p.m. ET: And then there were none.

Early in the third quarter of the game with Duke, Nyles Morgan sacked Blue Devils quarterback Daniel Jones, giving the Irish their first sack of the season 14 quarters after it started.

GoDaddy Bowl changes name to Dollar General Bowl

MOBILE, AL - DECEMBER 23: Members of the Georgia Southern Eagles celebrate after defeating the Bowling Green Falcons on December 23, 2015 at Ladd Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. The Georgia Southern Eagles defeated the Bowling Green Falcons 58-27. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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The jokes pretty much write themselves on this one.

The GoDaddy Bowl has changed its name to the Dollar General Bowl effective immediately, it was announced Wednesday.

“Having a title sponsor in today’s world is just fantastic,” bowl president Jerry Silverstein told AL.com. “There are a lot of bowls out there, and for Mobile to get the recognition from a national sponsor, to want to participate in the event we have here, just leads to the national stage of what we try to produce here in Mobile.”

The new sponsor was celebrated in a very, uh, Dollar General way.

Heading into its 18th season, Dollar General Bowl will be the sixth different name and third separate title sponsor for the Mobile, Ala., based game. It was born in 1999 as the Mobile Alabama Bowl, then changed to the GMAC Mobile Alabama Bowl a year later. The name stuck as simply the GMAC Bowl from 2001-10, before the name switched to the GoDaddy.com Bowl in 2011. The “.com” was dropped before the 2014 game.

Representatives from the Sun Belt and MAC will compete in the 2016 game for the eighth consecutive season on the night of Dec. 23 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN). Georgia Southern took last year’s game by a 58-27 score over Bowling Green. The Sun Belt has claimed three of the last four Dollar General Bowls over its northern adversaries.