Notre Dame confirms 2015 game at Fenway Park

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For the first time in nearly six decades, major college football will be returning to one of the most iconic stadiums in all of sports.

In announcing its schedules for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons, Notre Dame confirmed it will be playing its Nov. 21, 2015, game against Boston College at Fenway Park.  The night game at the home of the Boston Red Sox will be the first college football game played at the baseball stadium since 1956, and the first football game of any kind since 1968 (New England Patriots).

The Eagles used to play home games at Fenway regularly throughout the first half of last century, but last played at the stick-and-ball park in 1956.

That 2015 game will be part of the “Shamrock Series,” an annual arrangement that began in 2009 which sees the Irish hosting a neutral-site “home” game.  The ongoing series will also include a 2014 game in Indianapolis (Lucas Oil Stadium) against Purdue and in 2016 in San Antonio (Alamodome) against Army. All three of those games will be televised in prime time by NBC, incidentally.

The 2014 season is also the first in Notre Dame’s football partnership with the ACC that will include an affiliation with the conference’s postseason bowl alignment.  The Irish will face four ACC foes in 2014, six in 2015 and five in 2016 and beyond.

“Our schedules the next three seasons, combined with our 2012 and 2013 schedules, truly exhibit Notre Dame’s intention to celebrate our independence,” said athletic director Jack Swarbrick in a statement.

“We will be playing in virtually every corner of the country and will have a strength of schedule that will serve us well in the new College Football Playoff format.”

Below are the complete schedules for Notre Dame the next three seasons:

2014
Aug. 30 RICE
Sept. 6 MICHIGAN (night)
Sept. 13 *Purdue at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind. (night)
Sept. 27 at Syracuse (MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.)
Oct. 4 STANFORD
Oct. 11 NORTH CAROLINA
Oct. 18 at Florida State
Nov. 1 vs. Navy (FedEx Field, Landover, Md.)
Nov. 8 at Arizona State
Nov. 15 NORTHWESTERN
Nov. 22 LOUISVILLE
Nov. 29 at USC
* Shamrock Series game

2015
Sept. 5 TEXAS
Sept. 12 at Virginia
Sept. 19 GEORGIA TECH
Sept. 26 MASSACHUSETTS
Oct. 3 at Clemson
Oct. 10 NAVY
Oct. 17 USC
Oct. 31 at Temple (Lincoln Financial Services Field)
Nov. 7 at Pittsburgh
Nov. 14 WAKE FOREST
Nov. 21 *Boston College at Fenway Park, Boston, Mass. (night)
Nov. 28 at Stanford
* Shamrock Series game

2016
Sept. 3 at Texas
Sept. 10 NEVADA
Sept. 17 MICHIGAN STATE
Sept. 24 DUKE
Oct. 1 at Syracuse (MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.)
Oct. 8 at North Carolina State
Oct. 15 STANFORD
Oct. 29 MIAMI
Nov. 5 vs. Navy (site TBD)
Nov. 12 *Army at Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas (night)
Nov. 19 VIRGINIA TECH
Nov. 26 at USC
* Shamrock Series game

Kentucky’s Marcus Walker charged with trafficking coke, weed

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The latest incident to trigger a resetting the “Days Without An Arrest” trigger is a rather serious-sounding one.

According to multiple media outlets in the area, Kentucky’s Marcus Walker was arrested early Thursday morning on multiple drug charges. WKYT-TV in Lexington reports that the defensive back was jailed — and remains jailed at this time — on charges of trafficking in cocaine and marijuana as well as one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Walker… was arrested at 4:40 a.m. Thursday by Lexington Police. He was allegedly trafficking in about 5 pounds of marijuana and 4 grams of cocaine, his arrest citation said. He was also charged with possessing drug paraphernalia.

A large amount of cash was also found when Lexington Police executed its search warrant at a home on Unity Drive, police said.

A UK spokesperson stated that the football program is “aware of the situation and are in the process of gathering more information.”

247Sports.com‘s composite board had Walker rated as a three-star recruit in the Class of 2015.  After redshirting as a true freshman, the Florida native played in 21 games the past two seasons — 12 in 2017, nine in 2016.  He’s been credited with 17 tackles in those two seasons, including a career-high seven in a 2016 win over Austin Peay.

Pitt, Wisconsin announce future home-and-home

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It’s been more than half a century since they last met, but a pair of teams from the ACC and Big Ten are set to get it on once again.  Eventually.

Both Pitt (head coach from 2012-14: Paul Chryst) and Wisconsin (current head coach: Paul Chryst) announced Thursday that the football programs have reached an agreement on a future home-and-home series.  The Panthers will travel to Madison on Sept. 19, 2026, while the Badgers will make the trek to Heinz Field the following season on Sept. 11.

“In speaking with (Wisconsin athletic director) Barry Alvarez, we both felt this was a great scheduling opportunity,” Alvarez’s Pitt counterpart, Heather Lyke, said in a statement. “Despite our regional proximity, we’ve rarely played each other in football. It is a challenging and compelling non-conference game that our respective teams and fans can look forward to.”

The two teams have played each other twice previously, with the most recent coming during the 1967 season.  The last time the Badgers faced the Panthers in Pittsburgh came in 1937.

Pitt has won all three games in the mini-series, two of which were played in Madison (1938, 1967).

USC WR Joseph Lewis pleads no contest to domestic battery

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Late last week, USC wide receiver Joseph Lewis‘ trial in connection to a pair of domestic violence incidents was set to begin.  Less than a week later, the trial phase has come to an end before it really began.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Lewis reached an agreement on a plea deal Wednesday that saw the Trojans football player plead no contest to two counts of domestic battery.  The Times reported that the plea arrangement came as jury selection was nearly complete and opening arguments in the case had been scheduled for the same day.

Lewis had been facing two years in jail; as part of the plea agreement, Lewis has been sentenced to 60 days in the Los Angeles County Jail, a sentence that will likely be reduced to 30 days based on what the newspaper describes as “good time, work time” credit.

Per the Times, the other terms of the plea deal include…

36 months summary probation… a 10-year ban on owning, using or possessing firearms; enrollment in a weekly yearlong domestic violence treatment program and a protective order that prohibits him from approaching within 100 yards of the victim or contacting her.

In late February, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to pursue a felony charge against the USC wide receiver after he was arrested on one count of corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant.  At the time, though, it was reported that the case had been referred to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, which would decide whether misdemeanor charges would arise from the arrest.

Not long after, the city attorney’s office filed five misdemeanor counts against Lewis.  The charges stemmed from two separate incidents in February, and included three counts of domestic battery with an injury, false imprisonment and domestic battery without an injury.

In the wake of the arrest, Lewis was suspended from the football team.  In fact, his name was removed from the roster and remains that way.  While the player is hopeful he’ll be permitted to rejoin the team before the start of the upcoming season, the football program has yet to address said player’s status moving forward.

It should be noted that, thus far, no details of what led to the arrest and charges have been released.

A five-star member of the Trojans’ 2017 recruiting class, Lewis was rated as the No. 4 receiver in the country; the No. 6 player at any position in the state of California; and the No. 31 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. The only player rated higher in USC’s class that year was running back Stephen Carr.

As a true freshman last season, Lewis caught four passes for 39 yards. He had been expected to play a bigger role in the Trojans’ passing game this season, although the off-field situation will obviously be a factor in that.

Sun Bowl returns to noon time slot on New Year’s Eve for 2018

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After four years in various time slots, the Sun Bowl is back where it’s used to being: on New Year’s Eve.

The Sun Bowl association announced on Wednesday that the game would be moved back to December 31st for the 85th edition of the annual postseason outing, with a 12 p.m. Mountain Time kickoff on CBS.

“We are happy to announce that we are returning to our traditional New Year’s Eve slot,” Executive Director Bernie Olivas said in a release. “Many of our local fans had expressed to us that the New Year’s Eve date had become a family tradition and we are excited to have the game back on that day.”

The El Paso, Texas institution will once again pit an ACC (or Notre Dame) team against a Pac-12 school in what has developed into a fun game the past few years. Last year, N.C. State beat Arizona State 52-31 in a high-scoring affair while the season prior saw Stanford squeak out a win over North Carolina 25-23 thanks to a goal line stand on a two-point conversion.

The Sun Bowl last took place on New Year’s Eve back in 2013 but was on a different day in the last week of December the past four years. The 31st is the traditional home for the game dating back to the early 1990’s. With the date, time and TV network now in place for the game, the entire 2018-19 bowl picture is set following the release of the bulk of the schedule last week.