Texas records 9 sacks in Thanksgiving feast of Texas Tech

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Earlier this season the Texas defense was atrocious, but on Thursday night the Longhorns were thankful for facing a Texas Tech team that continues to struggle. Texas (8-3, 7-2 Big 12) recorded 9 sacks in the dominating victory over Texas Tech (7-5, 4-5 Big 12).

Texas quarterback Case McCoy completed 10 of 19 pass attempts for 139 yards and two touchdowns, both scoring plays going to Mike Davis, and the Longhorns had two rushers go over 100 yards in the game. Malcolm Brown led all players with 128 yards and Joe Bergeron added 104 yards and a touchdown. Kicker Anthony Fera chipped in with two field goals and five extra point attempts for a perfect night.

The story of the night was the Texas defense. The Longhorns sacked Texas Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield (24-44-1, 236 yards, 0 TD) and Michael Brewer 9 times. Texas also forced three turnovers and did not let tight end Jace Amaro do too much damage against them, holding the Big 12’s top tight end to 83 yards and one touchdown. Texas Tech did their part to allow Texas to stay on the field and move down field at times. Undisciplined play resulted in 11 penalties against Texas Tech for a total of 100 penalty yards.

Texas now remains in the hunt for the Big 12 championship, although they will need some help from a heated rival, Oklahoma. The Longhorns move in to a tie with Oklahoma State at the top of the Big 12 standings, but due to a loss to the Cowboys the Longhorns would need the Sooners to top Oklahoma State next week. Texas also needs to finish their season with a win at Baylor next week. A Texas win over Baylor and an Oklahoma State loss would send Mack Brown’s Longhorns to a BCS bowl game with the outright Big 12 championship.

Texas Tech’s regular season is now in the books, but the Red Raiders will be going to a bowl game despite limping to the finish line, somewhat figuratively and literally given the injuries. After winning the first seven games of the year, Texas Tech pulled a 2012 West Virginia and lost their final five games of the year as the schedule got tougher. The good news is the team will now get a chance to recharge and prepare for one more game. This year will also serve as a bit of a learning experience for first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

On the other sideline, Mack Brown continues to find a way to keep a Texas team that was all but written off in September in contention for a Big 12 title and a trip to a BCS bowl game. There are changes taking place at Texas, but Brown is making a bit of an argument to remain in charge of the football program. If Brown (and defensive coordinator Greg Robinson) can find a way to get this Texas defense to slow down Baylor next week and the Sooners offer a helping hand in Stillwater, we could be heading to quite an epic showdown in Austin.

UMass adds Florida State, Pitt, Auburn and others to future schedules beyond 2021

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It’s apparently a big week on the schedule front for FBS independents.

While UConn and Maryland announced a new home-and-home series in what is always going to be known as the Randy Edsall bowl, fellow New England independent UMass had a number of dates added to their calendar this week too.

According to the school, the Minutemen have confirmed several dates and games against Power Five opponents as well as a host of other smaller programs being added to the team’s future docket including:

  • at Pitt on Sept. 4, 2021
  • at Florida State on Oct. 23, 2021
  • at Auburn on Sept. 2, 2023

In addition, FCS foes like Merrimack (Nov. 4, 2023) and Wagner (Sept. 21, 2024) were scheduled. Two other contests were moved as well, including a game against Boston College from Sept. 2022 to Sept. 6, 2025. A game against New Mexico State was shifted up into Week 0 and is now set for Aug. 26, 2023 as well.

The moves give UMass five of their 12 games for 2021-2024 while there’s even more work left to be done beyond that.

“We’ve been hard at work over the last nine months building competitive future schedules that will allow our Independent program to grow and be challenged,” AD Ryan Bamford said in a release. “We are pleased with our scheduling progress and ability to secure agreements with a mix of Power Five, Group of Five and regional FCS opponents.”

The Minutemen host Coastal Carolina on Saturday and have notable games coming up against Army, Northwestern and BYU down the stretch in 2019.

Designs released for UAB’s future stadium in downtown Birmingham

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It’s truly been remarkable how far UAB has come since the program was shuttered just a few years ago but the next major step in the rebirth of the Blazers came on Wednesday as the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex unveiled the latest plans for the upcoming $175 million football stadium that the CUSA program will soon call home.

You can check out the latest renderings here.

The 45,000 seat venue is designed to host a number of different events once completed in 2021 but the primary purpose each fall will be UAB home games. As you would expect, all the modern design elements for a stadium nowadays are incorporated, such as suites, open concourses, a large press box and a hefty number of restrooms (including nearly double the number for women than men).

The price tag for everything is set at right around $175 million for the project, with bids going out sometime later this fall and an estimated date of completion prior to the 2021 season starting in late August.

The biggest question left about the stadium now might be not whether it will actually get built but what the Blazers will be playing on in terms of the surface. The school has reportedly expressed interest in having turf but the area trying to attract major soccer matchups could mean the venue has a grass field instead.

Either way, UAB remarkable turnaround on the gridiron took another big step this week and is poised to make a giant leap come 2021.

QB Artur Sitkowski to start for Rutgers against Boston College with McLane Carter not cleared from concussion

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Boston College’s bid to avoid losing to both Kansas and Rutgers in the same season may have received a slight boost thanks to the quarterback situation this week with the Scarlet Knights.

Speaking to the media on Thursday after practice, Rutgers head coach Chris Ash confirmed that starting signal-caller Carter McLane remains in the school’s concussion protocol and will not play on Saturday against the Eagles. That means the job falls on last year’s starter in Artur Sitkowski for the Scarlet Knights.

“(Carter) is still day-to-day (and) hasn’t practiced so he won’t be cleared to play,” Ash said according to NJ.com. “I’ve got nothing but 100 percent confidence and belief in Art. We talked all through training camp about the battle between the two. There wasn’t a whole lot of difference. The biggest one was just at the moment McLane was a fifth-year player and had a little bit more experience. But Art had a tremendous training camp, and the players, the coaches, everybody has nothing but 100 percent faith and trust in him to go out and lead the team. And we’re excited for him to do that.”

Carter, a grad transfer from Texas Tech, started the opener against UMass but was knocked out of last week’s shutout loss to Iowa after a hard hit in the first half. Sitkowski replaced him the rest of the way and will now make his first start of 2019.

A former four-star out of IMG Academy, Sitkowski was handed the reigns of the team as a true freshman last season and made 11 starts at Rutgers… with things not exactly going well under center considering he threw for just over 1,100 yards with four touchdowns against 18 interceptions. He’ll have a chance for redemption on Saturday against Boston College, which leads the ACC in interceptions but did give up a number of big passing plays in their shocking loss to Kansas last week.

Interestingly enough, the move to elevate Sitkowski in the wake of McLane’s concussion means that former Eagles quarterback Johnny Langan will now be the No. 2 QB for Rutgers in the game against his old team.

Lane Kiffin thinks UCF should be in top 10: ‘They looked just like an ACC or SEC team’

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Lane Kiffin is a believer… in a newsworthy in-state rival.

Speaking to Yahoo! Sports, the always talkative Florida Atlantic head coach threw his weight behind UCF being a top 10 team this season and even a College Football Playoff contender had they been starting veteran QB McKenzie Milton. 

“They looked just like an ACC or SEC team,” said Kiffin. “Not Alabama or Clemson, but one of the top teams in both of those conferences. They’ve done an unbelievable job recruiting. They have skill. Normally in the Group of Five they have skill players but not the [size on] the lines, well UCF has long and good-looking linemen.”

Kiffin would know having seen the Knights up close each of the past two seasons, including a 48-14 blowout by the defending AAC champions down in Boca Raton earlier in September. A former offensive coordinator in the SEC, he also got a good look at one of this season’s elite programs too considering FAU opened the year with a 45-21 loss to Ohio State in Columbus.

Though Kiffin doesn’t have a vote in the weekly Coaches Poll, he did add he’d rank UCF as high as No. 5 but certainly in the top 10, blaming the name on the front of the Knights’ jersey as much as anything for why they’re not being taken seriously nationally.