Utah State Aggies

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Big weekend for the AAC and Mountain West Conference

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For a conference trying to sell itself as the nation’s sixth power conference, Week 3 looks to be a pretty big one to do its best to prove it. The American Athletic Conference, which is going all in on its belief it is the sixth power conference and not one of the Group of Five conferences, will play games against the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, and Pac-12 this weekend. And that includes games against four ranked opponents, two of which will be played in an AAC stadium.

It all gets started tonight with preseason favorite South Florida hosting Illinois from the Big Ten. The Bulls are a prohibitive favorite, which comes as no surprise. Quarterback Quinton Flowers could go off against the Illini, who have a record of 2-0 thanks to wins against Ball State and Western Kentucky. With Charlie Strong as head coach, the Bulls have not looked quite as automatic through the first two weeks as many predicted, but this could be their opportunity to put it all together on a national stage.

On Saturday, Memphis will look to score a significant upset at home against No. 25 UCLA. The Bruins are off to a 2-0 start but cross-country trip for a noon eastern kickoff has been known to give a west coast team trouble in the past. If the Tigers can catch the Bruins off to a slumbering start, Memphis may have to hope Josh Rosen and company don’t wake up in the fourth quarter the way they did against Texas A&M. A Memphis win would be key to the AAC as a whole too, as a win against a ranked opponent from a power conference gives the AAC a strength of schedule argument to boost itself up in the long run.

The AAC will have a few other cracks at ranked opponents. The team with the best chance, most likely, to score a win against a ranked team may be SMU. The Mustangs visit rival TCU, ranked 20th in the AP poll and coming off a win on the road against Arkansas. East Carolina hosts No. 16 Virginia Tech, and Tulane visits No. 2 Oklahoma. Either AAC team picking up a win in those games would be a shocker.

One other game against an ACC school was scratched due to Hurricane Irma recovery efforts. UCF, who looked really good in their opener, was to host Georgia Tech. Instead, the Knights will get a week off before returning to action next week on the road against Maryland.

The one game that should probably be the most interesting to watch, however, may take place in Ohio. MAC favorite Toledo is hosting Tulsa in a key Group of 5 vs. Group of 5 matchup. The Rockets have looked good and are a solid favorite, but Tulsa is a team to keep an eye on in the AAC. A year after an undefeated MAC champion grabbed the New Years Six spot in the bowl lineup, the AAC delivering a blow to the preseason MAC favorites could knock the MAC out of contention entirely before even getting to October.

AAC vs. Power 5 In Week 3

  • No. 22 USF vs. Illinois (FRI)
  • Memphis vs. No. 25 UCLA
  • Virginia vs. UConn
  • East Carolina vs. No. 16 Virginia Tech
  • No. 20 TCU vs. SMU
  • No. 2 Oklahoma vs. Tulane

Not to be outdone, the Mountain West Conference has a healthy diet of games against power conference competition this weekend as well. Air Force travels to No. 7 Michigan, Utah State visits Wake Forest, Colorado State is in Tuscaloosa to face No. 1 Alabama, Wyoming is hosting Oregon, Fresno State visits No. 6 Washington, San Jose State visits Utah, and San Diego State hosts No. 19 Stanford. That is seven games against power conference teams, including games against three top 10 teams. Most of those matchups do not appear to give the MWC many favors, although San Diego State hosting Stanford could be interesting.

Before conference play begins in these conferences, this will be the last major opportunities for the AAC and MWC to showcase their stuff in non-conference play. These games could make or break the conference’s chances of getting in the lucrative New Years Six lineup at the end of the year, so neither conference will want to squander their opportunities this weekend.

Maryland confirms additions of Ray Lewis’ son, ex-FSU LB

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Maryland has officially added a pair of transfers to its football program, one of whom is very, very familiar with the area.  And vice versa.

On his personal Twitter account in May, Rayshad Lewis (pictured, No. 9) announced that he would be transferring to Maryland. Nearly four months later, the Terrapins confirmed that the son of former Miami Hurricanes and Baltimore Ravens great Ray Lewis has been added to their football roster.

The younger Lewis, who decided to transfer from Utah State in April, will have to sit out the 2017 season. He’ll then have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018.

Lewis was a two-star member of the Aggies’ 2016 recruiting class, opting for USU over offers from, among others, Appalachian State, Ball State, FAU, Idaho, Old Dominion and Toledo.

As a true freshman last season, Lewis started seven of the 12 games in which he played. The 5-10, 165-pound receiver finished second on the team in catches (40) and receiving yards (476), while his two receiving touchdowns were tied for second. The receptions and yards were second-most in the school’s history for a freshman.

For good measure, he added 110 rushing yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.

This spring, the Aggies football program flirted with making Lewis a two-way player, with the rising sophomore logging time as a defensive back. He was also penciled in as a punt returner before his transfer.

In addition to this Lewis, the Terps added yet another Lewis — defensive back Marcus Lewis. The other Lewis had decided last month to transfer from Florida State.

Like his transfer partner and namesake, Lewis will sit this coming season. Unlike the other one, Lewis will have just two years of eligibility left starting next season.

A four-star member of the Seminoles’ 2015 recruiting class, Lewis was rated as the No. 8 athlete in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in Washington D.C. Just three defensive players in FSU’s class that year — Derwin James, Josh Sweat, Tarvarus McFadden — were rated higher than Lewis.

After playing in four games as a true freshman, Lewis set himself up for significant playing time in 2016 with an impressive spring practice. While the season began that way — he started five of the first eight games at the “star” position — Lewis ultimately saw his playing time dwindle. In fact, he didn’t see the field at all the final five games of last year.

Doak Walker Award watch list highlighted by 2016 semifinalists Barkley and Pettway

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A watch list of the top running backs in the nation has been released by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum on Thursday. The Doak Walker Award watch list is full of great players, including 2016 Doak Walker Award semifinalists Saquon Barkley (Penn State) and Kamryn Pettway (Auburn).

Among those included on this year’s initial Doak Walker Award watch list (more players can be added at any time) are LSU’s Derrius Guice, Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, LJ Scott of Michigan State, Mike Weber of Ohio State, and Bo Scarbrough of Alabama, Washington’s Myles Gaskin, and Western Michigan’s Jarvion Franklin.

D’Onta Foreman of Texas beat out both Barkley and Pettway last season for the award. The Doak Walker Award has been presented to the nation’s top running back annually since 1990. Among the winners over the years have included Ricky Williams, LaDainian Tomlinson, Reggie Bush, and Montee Ball.

To be included on this watch list, the university athletic department must submit a nomination.

2017 Doak Walker Award Watch List

Josh Adams, Notre Dame
Ryquell Armstead, Temple
Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Alex Barnes, Kansas State
Jamauri Bogan, Western Michigan
D’Angelo Brewer, Tulsa
Nick Chubb, Georgia
Jordan Chunn, Troy
Justin Crawford, West Virginia
Damarea Crockett, Missouri
Rico Dowdle, South Carolina
D’Andre Ferby, WKU
Kendrick Foster, Illinois
Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan
Myles Gaskin, Washington
James Gilbert, Ball State
Derrius Guice, LSU
Damien Harris, Alabama
Kyle Hicks, TCU
Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
Jon Hilliman, Boston College
Justin Jackson, Northwestern
Chris James, Wisconsin
Ty Johnson, Maryland
Ronald Jones II, USC
Ray Lawry, Old Dominion
Phillip Lindsay, Colorado
Tonny Lindsey Jr., Utah State
Bryce Love, Stanford
Sony Michel, Georgia
Dedrick Mills, Georgia Tech
David Montgomery, Iowa State
Jamal Morrow, Washington State
Ryan Nall, Oregon State
Jacques Patrick, Florida State
Kamryn Pettway, Auburn
Demario Richard, Arizona State
Diocemy Saint Juste, Hawaii
Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
Jordan Scarlett, Florida
LJ Scott, Michigan State
Bradrick Shaw, Wisconsin
Armand Shyne, Utah
Justin Silmon, Kansas State
Ito Smith, Southern Miss
Rodney Smith, Minnesota
Benny Snell Jr., Kentucky
Terry Swanson, Toledo
Shaq Vann, Eastern Michigan
Akrum Wadley, Iowa
Mark Walton, Miami
Warren Wand, Arkansas State
Tre Watson, California
Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt
Mike Weber, Ohio State
Braeden West, SMU
Devwah Whaley, Arkansas
Aeris Williams, Mississippi State
Shaun Wilson, Duke
Marquis Young, Massachusetts

Another Utah State player arrested in connection to teammates’ burglaries

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An off-field incident involving members of the Utah State football program has expanded yet again.

According to the Cache Valley Daily, Aggies cornerback Ja’Marcus Ingram was arrested and charged earlier this week on one count of tampering with a witness.  That charge is a third-degree felony.

Ingram’s legal issue is directly related to an April incident involving two of his teammates.

In April, USU cornerback Jaylan Brown and linebacker Troy Murray were arrested in connection to a pair of burglaries last December.  The pair allegedly stole video game consoles and video games, with the alleged thefts traced back to them after they sold the stolen property to a pawn shop.

Ingram is the third USU player to be arrested in connection to that incident that wasn’t directly involved in it.  From the newspaper’s report:

Later that month, Kevin Meiztenheimer and Dayshawn Littleton were arrested, accused of trying to hit the witness with their car and threatening to return and shoot the victim. Police believe Ingram and the two other 19-year-old men were trying to prevent charges from being filed against Brown and Murray.

As a true freshman last season, Ingram took a redshirt.

Utah State the landing spot for TCU transfer Tipa Galea’i

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TCU’s loss will be Utah State’s gain.  Eventually.

By way of his personal Twitter account, Tipa Galea’i has announced that he has decided to transfer from TCU to Utah State.  Galea’i’s older brother, Salanoa Galea’i, played for the Aggies as well, leaving the younger sibling still familiar with the football program and coaching staff.

Per Scout.com, unnamed “big time Pac-12 schools” were in pursuit of the transfer as well before he decided on USU.

To satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Galea’i will be forced to sit out the 2017 season.  Beginning with the 2018 season, he’d then have two years of eligibility to use with the Aggies.

A three-star 2015 recruit coming out of high school in Texas, Galea’i was rated as the No. 43 weakside defensive end in the country.

Galea’i played in a combined 17 games his first two seasons with the Horned Frogs.  Last season in 10 games, his 5.5 tackles for loss were tied for fifth on the team, while his 3.5 sacks were good for solo fifth as well.