AP Photo

UCF clinches NY6 bowl bid as AAC champs and Scott Frost avoids question about Nebraska

2 Comments

If you wanted an offensive shootout, you certainly got it in the American Athletic Conference championship game. After out-lasting No. 20 Memphis (10-2) for a second straight shootout victory, this time in a 62-55 double-overtime thriller, No. 14 UCF (12-0) will get their chance to score a signature victory against a power conference opponent in the New Years Six bowl lineup. At 12-0, UCF essentially clinched their spot in the big game bowl lineup to be determined by the College Football Playoff selection committee tomorrow. We may not have to wait quite as long to learn about the future of UCF head coach Scott Frost.

Memphis forced the AAC championship to go to overtime with two fourth-quarter touchdowns to tie the game at 48-48. Memphis had a chance to win the game in regulation but could not convert on a long field goal in the final minute. UCF also could not take advantage of a last-minute possession and gave the ball back to Memphis by way of an interception. But little time remaining, Memphis could not get into field goal range. So the game went to overtime after 96 points and 1,399 yards of offenses.

After the teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime, UCF opened the second overtime with a touchdown run by Otis Anderson. Memphis kept the game alive with a great fourth down conversion between Riley Ferguson and Anthony Miller, but Ferguson was picked off a couple of plays later by Tre Neal.

It was the only interception of the game thrown by Ferguson, who passed for 471 yards and four touchdowns. Miller caught 14 passes for 195 yards and three scores and Memphis had two 100-yard rushers with Darrell Henderson and Patrick Taylor Jr. UCF’s box score was loaded a swell. McKenzie Milton passed for 494 yards and five touchdowns to overcome three interceptions in the game. Anderson rushed for 117 yards and Tre'Quan Smith accounted for 161 yards and two scores. Dredrick Snelson also had 145 yards and two touchdowns.

As the highest-ranked conference champion, UCF will be rewarded with the lone spot in the New Years Six bowl lineup reserved for the highest-ranked conference champion from the Group of Five conferences. It is only fitting this year’s spot goes to the only undefeated team in the country outside of Wisconsin (and if Wisconsin loses in the Big Ten championship game, UCF will be the only undefeated team in the country).

UCF may be heading to the Peach Bowl or another New Years Six bowl game, but Frost could be making his way to Lincoln, Nebraska. It was a storyline that was unavoidable for the ABC telecast in the beginning of the game, and for good reason. Frost has been one of the hottest names in the coaching carousel, and the undefeated run by UCF was a big part of the reason why that was the case. Various reports and rumors have suggested Frost is already on his way to Nebraska to be the next head coach, but nothing official has been announced on either end. Frost declined to answer the question about accepting the Nebraska job in his on-field postgame interview.

We’ll probably find out in the next 24-36 hours where UCF will be heading for the bowl season, and the decision of Frost will not be lingering too far behind if it has yet to be made official one way or the other by then. Memphis will still be heading to a bowl game as one of the top AAC representatives too, but it will not have the same prestige as the big bowl game lineup. Memphis head coach Mike Norvell could also remain a name to watch on the coaching carousel’s radar too.

Memphis cashes in on UCF red zone turnovers for halftime lead

Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Defense has been mostly optional in the first half of the American Athletic Conference this afternoon in Orlando. With the two best offenses in the conference going head-to-head, that was to be expected between UCF and Memphis, but it is the Memphis defense that has made the key plays in the first half. Memphis leads UCF 31-24 at the half after 30 minutes of back-and-forth scoring.

UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton was cruising with three touchdowns as UCF was looking like a well-oiled machine on offense, but a pair of interceptions in the red zone prevented UCF from tacking on more points in the first half, and Memphis took advantage of those turnovers. The Tigers took the lead and padded it just before halftime with 10 points off the turnovers. Memphis has scored 17 points off UCF’s three turnovers, while the Tigers have given up one touchdown off a turnover.

Milton has passed for 306 yards with three touchdowns and the two interceptions. Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson has completed 12 of 13 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns without a turnover. Anthony Miller has been on the receiving end of four of those passes with 92 yards and a touchdown. At the half, UCF and Memphis have combined for 865 yards of offense and 32 first downs.

The stakes in this game are well known at this point. The winner of this game will be the highest-ranked conference champion from a Group of Five conference, which will be rewarded with a guaranteed spot in the New Years Six bowl line-up. The Peach Bowl in Atlanta appears to be the most likely destination, with an opponent to be chosen form the at-large bids available from the College Football Playoff selection committee on Sunday.

Riley Ferguson throws 7 TDs, Anthony Miller makes school history as Memphis blows away UConn

Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
1 Comment

Memphis (4-1, 1-1 AAC) quarterback Riley Ferguson tied an American Athletic Conference record with seven touchdown passes thrown in a single game Friday night in a 70-31 road win at UConn (1-4, 0-3 AAC). Tigers wide receiver Anthony Miller had himself a big night to contribute to Ferguson’s success with 15 catches for 224 yards and a school-record four touchdowns.

The record for most touchdown passes in a single game by a player form the AAC was previously set by former Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch, who is now in the NFL with the Denver Broncos.

Here’s a look at the touchdown that moved Ferguson into a tie with the former Memphis quarterback…

Miller ended his night with 224 receiving yards and four touchdowns, pretty much doubling his season total coming into the night.

Ferguson completed 34-of-48 pass attempts for 431 yards and the seven touchdowns before finally getting a rest in the fourth quarter as David Moore stepped in to replace him. Memphis accumulated 711 yards of total offense, more than making up for what at times was a rough showing by the Memphis defense. But UConn did themselves no favors with three turnovers and going just 2-for-11 on third down attempts.

Memphis will hope to keep this momentum going next week when they host Navy in what looks to be a pivotal game in the AAC West standings. The Midshipmen are already 3-0 in conference play, while Memphis evened their record against conference opponents after getting rolled over by UCF last week.

Uconn will look to get something on track next week with a road game at Temple.

Davey O’Brien Award watch list highlighted by former finalists, semifinalists and SEC

Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
1 Comment

The Davey O’Brien Award (top quarterback) took the spotlight in the ongoing college football watch list tour on Wednesday morning. A total of 30 quarterbacks were named to the initial watch list for the award, including six from the SEC along with a few potential Heisman Trophy candidates and a Heisman Trophy winner.

Highlighting the watch list are two finalists from last season; Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. Mayfield has been a two-time finalist for the award. Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett and Washington State’s Luke Falk are also on the watch list and are each two-time semifinalists for the award. Joining them on the watch list are former semifinalists Jake Browning (Washington), Sam Darnold (USC), Jalen Hurts (Alabama), Josh Rosen (UCLA), Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State)m and Wilton Speight (Michigan).

While the SEC led the way with six watch list players, the ACC, Big 12, and Pac-12 each had four players named to the watch list. The Big Ten had three, with Penn State’s Trace McSorley joining Barrett and Speight.

Clemson’s Deshaun Watson won the Davey O’Brien Award each of the past two seasons, becoming the second two-time winner of the award (Oklahoma’s Jason White in 2003-04). A player does not need to be included on the watch list in order to win the award, but only quarterbacks from the 130 FBS programs are eligible.

2017 Davey O’Brien Award Watch List

Austin Allen, Arkansas
Josh Allen, Wyoming
J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
Jake Bentley, South Carolina
Jake Browning, Washington
Shane Buechele, Texas
Sam Darnold, USC
Eric Dungey, Syracuse
Jacob Eason, Georgia
Jesse Ertz, Kansas State
Luke Falk, Washington State
Riley Ferguson, Memphis
Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State
Quinton Flowers, USF
Deondre Francois, Florida State
Jalen Hurts, Alabama
Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Daniel Jones, Duke
Tanner Mangum, BYU
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Trace McSorley, Penn State
Shea Patterson, Ole Miss
Josh Rosen, UCLA
Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
Brett Rypien, Boise State
Brandon Silvers, Troy
Wilton Speight, Michigan
Brent Stockstill, Middle Tennessee
Mike White, WKU
Logan Woodside, Toledo

The Davey O’Brien Award will be trim its watch list down to a handful of semifinalists on November 7. Finalists for the award will be unveiled two weeks later on November 21, and the winner will be announced on December 7 at the annual Home Depot College Football Awards show on ESPN.

Butch Jones expects to lose a QB at Tennessee

4 Comments

The quarterback competition at Tennessee appears to be losing one contender for the job. Redshirt freshman Riley Ferguson, expected to be contending for the starting job under center this fall, is expected to be leaving the program according to Tennessee head coach Butch Jones.

“As of right now, based on our recent conversations, we do not anticipate that he will be a member of our football family moving forward,” Jones said according to The Knoxville News Sentinel Tuesday at the SEC meetings in Destin, Florida.

The reason for Ferguson’s departure is unknown, although Jones suggested the decision was made between summer academic sessions.

Losing Ferguson would leave Tennessee with three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster heading into 2014. Senior Justin Worley and sophomores Joshua Dobbs and Nathan Peterman would remain. Of the three, Worley would be the most experienced passer for the Vols after playing in eight games last season and leading Tennessee with 1,239 yards and 10 touchdowns. Dobbs would be the other likely challenger for the starting job after finishing second on the team in passing yards in 2013.

Helmet sticker to Saturday Down South.