Why Friday’s game at Buffalo is crucial to Bryce Petty’s Heisman chances

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On the surface, what could possibly be less consequential than a Friday night game at Buffalo for the Heisman Trophy chances of Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty?

Heisman candidates have talent, a positive public image, name recognition – greetings, people of Salem, Oregon! – an integral role in their team’s success, eye-popping statistics, and perfect attendance. Petty has all of those in spades, except that last one. And it could end up costing him.

It takes extremely good fortune to win a Heisman, including an immunization to injuries. In fact, no Heisman Trophy winner has missed extended time in the recent history of the award. Petty has already missed a game and a half, which counts as extended time in the chase for sport’s most coveted individual award. He left Baylor’s 45-0 win over SMU in the opener at halftime after cracking two transverse processes in his back, and did not play in Saturday’s 70-6 thumping of Northwestern State. (And it doesn’t help Petty’s case for college football’s MVP award when his replacement, sophomore Seth Russell, was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week in his absence after throwing for 438 yards and accounting for six touchdowns.)

With only two quarters of action to his credit, Petty has completed 13-of-23 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns and rushed twice for 21 yards and a touchdown. He does not currently rank in the top 100 nationally in passing yards or total offense. He will make up ground once he returns, of course, but how much? Petty is already more than 700 passing yards behind Texas A&M’s Kenny Hill, nearly 500 yards behind UCLA’s Brett Hundley and Florida State’s Jameis Winston, and more than 400 yards behind Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.

This is where forces well beyond Petty’s control conspire against him. No. 8 Baylor plays a 12-game regular season. Each of the quarterbacks listed above has the potential to play 13. With two games already in the books, Petty at best will play 10 full games and half of another, almost 20 percent less than his competition.

Name recognition plays a role in Heisman voting, and smart voters will remember Petty missed time in September while casting their votes in late November and early December, but Heisman voters are a large electorate. Many voters, sadly, do not pay as close attention to college football as the type of person reading a blog post about a player’s Heisman chances in early September. This is where sheer tonnage of yardage comes into play, and where Petty has already fallen behind.

Let’s say Petty enjoys perfect health over Baylor’s 10 remaining games and duplicates his numbers from last season, where he ranked sixth nationally with 323.1 passing yards per game. That puts him at 3,392 passing yards and somewhere around 27 touchdowns. Assuming Baylor remains a College Football Playoff contender throughout the season, those are good enough numbers to send him to New York and maybe even bring a trophy home with him. But what if he misses Friday’s game at Buffalo? Then, when applying his 2013 numbers forward, Petty projects to throw for 3,069 yards and his candidacy enters the danger zone. Only three quarterbacks in the past 25 years have won the Heisman while throwing for less than 3,000 yards: 2001 winner Eric Crouch, 2006 winner Troy Smith, and 2010 winner Cam Newton. Crouch won his award on the strength of his legs, Smith on the strength of his resume as the quarterback of a college football blue blood that both opened and closed the regular season as No. 1 and beat two No. 2 teams, and Newton did both.

The last four Heisman winners, Newton, Robert Griffin IIIJohnny Manziel, and Winston, averaged 4,313 yards of total offense and accounted for 44.5 touchdowns in their respective runs to immortality. Petty would have to average 413 total yards and 4.25 touchdowns per game assuming he plays Friday – which, thankfully, he should according to John Werner of the Waco Tribune-Herald – and 459 total yards with 4.7 touchdowns per game if he sits. Last year’s national leader in total offense, Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, averaged 400 yards on the nose. Manziel led the country in 2012 with a 393-yard average. Griffin averaged 384 yards in his Heisman year, and Newton averaged 309. Petty ranked eighth nationally a year ago at a shade over 339 yards of total offense per game.

In that scenario, Petty would have to put up absolutely ridiculous numbers throughout what should be a difficult Big 12 schedule, or Baylor would almost certainly have to go undefeated and secure a Playoff berth for Petty to have a realistic shot at the award. And it might take both.

So, Mr. Petty, just accomplish something never been done before in the history of your university while outpacing the numbers of some of the greatest players in the recent history of college football, and then you can win the Heisman.

LSU confirms promotion of Tiger great Kevin Faulk as RBs coach

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An LSU football legend officially has an on-field role at his alma mater.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Kevin Faulk would be promoted from his current position as LSU football director of player development.  Thursday, the Tigers confirmed that Faulk has been promoted by Ed Orgeron to running backs coach.

Faulk replaces Tommie Robinson, who left to take the same job at SEC West rival Texas A&M.

“We would like to thank Tommie (Robinson) for being a part of our national championship program and wish him the best in his future,” the LSU football head coach said in a statement. “Kevin is a great teacher and mentor and someone that has earned the respect and love of our players. We are honored to have one of the greatest players in LSU history as part of our coaching staff. This is a home run hire.”

Faulk played collegiately for LSU football from 1995-98.  He is still the school’s all-time leader in rushing yards (4,557) and rushing TDs (46).

Faulk was then a second-round draft pick of the New England Patriots in 1999.  He spent 13 years in the NFL, joining his high school alma mater’s football coaching staff upon his retirement following the 2011 season.

In 2018, Faulk rejoined the LSU football program in an off-field role.  This will be his field on-field role at any level of college football.

“The day I graduated high school I knew I wanted to be a coach,” the 43-year-old Faulk said. “The coaches I had growing up meant so much to me and the community, and I knew I wanted to be that guy. To coach at my alma mater is the best thing I could ever hope for. I wear the purple and gold with pride every day, and I am ready to get going to help win another national championship.”

Ford Field to host even more MACtion in 2020

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The MAC title game isn’t the only bit of #MACtion that Ford Field will see in 2020.

The conference recently released their annual football schedule on Wednesday and among the notable league games is the rivalry contest between Central Michigan and Western Michigan. While this one figures to have division implications on Oct. 17, things are going to be slightly different this year.

Namely that it won’t be on either campus and will instead be played at Ford Field.

“Ford Field has been the location of many great experiences for CMU Football, and this is an opportunity to create another iconic experience for our program and our university,” athletic director Michael Alford said in a release. “CMU’s continued success means out-of-the-box thinking. Bringing this game — and the events surrounding it — to Detroit allows our athletics program to help engage thousands of people who are passionate about CMU.”

It’s an interesting move that will push CMU to over a decade without a win over their directional rivals in Mt. Pleasant. Still, the larger venue and the opportunity to make things an even bigger event in the state’s largest city seem to have won out.

The Detroit News reported on Tuesday that the Chips wanted to do a multi-year deal at the home of the NFL’s Lions but that WMU said no thanks.

The Broncos have won seven of the last nine meetings, including last year’s 31-15 win in Kalamazoo. Despite that head-to-head victory though, Jim McElwain’s squad got the last laugh by winning the MAC West in one of the biggest turnaround stories of the 2019 season.

They wound up playing at Ford Field in the conference title game where they eventually lost to Miami (OH) 26-21. The venue has been the home of the MAC championship since 2004 and will have the next edition played on either Friday, Dec. 4 or Saturday Dec. 5.

Georgia Tech adds 2023 game against Bowling Green, makes slight change to 2021 schedule

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Georgia Tech is loving itself some #MACtion.

The school announced a pair of future schedule moves against teams from the eponymous league on Wednesday. Among the most immediate actions for the Yellow Jackets is that their 2021 contest against Northern Illinois will be shifted to become the season-opener at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Sept. 4.

GT will then play FCS Kennesaw State at home and conclude the early non-conference slate with a trip to Notre Dame on Nov. 20, 2021. Their annual rivalry contest against Georgia will conclude the regular season the final weekend of November as usual.

Tech also added Bowling Green to their upcoming docket. The Falcons will head to Bobby Dodd Stadium on Sept. 30, 2023. A trip to Ole Miss and the in-state rival Bulldogs coming to Atlanta will round out the Jackets’ non-conference schedule with one more opening still to be signed (likely against an FCS opponent).

Head coach Geoff Collins’ 2020 squad will have their attention on a conference opponent to open the upcoming season as they take on ACC opponent Clemson at home on Thursday, Sept. 3. The two programs will also meet again in city for the 2022 season opener at nearby Mercedes-Benz Stadium as well.

While those big name opponents will get more attention from fans in the region, don’t discount a bit of that #MACtion heading South either.

Waiting to cancel game with FCS opponent cost USC an extra $500,000

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Keeping Clay Helton around wasn’t the only decision last year that upset USC fans. Now the school backtracking on a choice it just made has cost the program a pretty penny.

For those not in the know, cardinal and gold supporters up in arms last year when it was announced the program had agreed to a non-conference game with UC Davis for the 2021 season. Such a contest typically doesn’t draw much attention but it did in Los Angeles as it was the first FCS opponent the Trojans were to play in their illustrious history.

That would have left rivals UCLA and Notre Dame as the only two FBS programs not to play an FCS team.

Then things changed. The athletic director responsible for the deal, Lynn Swann, was shown the door. His replacement Mike Bohn has gone about trying to make amends and recently announced that USC had eventually backed out of the game against the Aggies.

In their place on the docket at the Coliseum that season is another Bay Area team, San Jose State. We already recounted how the Spartans made out quite nicely on the balance sheet as a result of this (and subsequent buyout from Georgia) swap. As it turns out though, they weren’t the only Northern California team to do so.

According to the Davis Enterprise, the buyout UCD was owed was only supposed to be $225,000. However terms called for that to jump to $725,000 after the start of the new year. Because the Trojans waited around they then had to pony up that extra half million for doing something they had been considering since the new administration came in.

“It’s pretty funny. We had every intention of playing that game,” Aggies senior associate athletics director Josh Flushman told the paper. “We just wanted to make sure (if there were) buyouts we were going to get the money.

“In December, (AD Kevin Blue) and I joking said, ‘Don’t take any phone calls from L.A. numbers until after the first.’”

The call didn’t come until February and the school is that much richer for it. On top of that they added a $400,000 guarantee game from Tulsa to replace Southern Cal on the schedule to boot.

Waiting may be the hardest part for some but it resulted in a nice seven-figure gain at UC Davis.