Whether it is the Big East or American Athletic Conference, the UCF Knights won 10 straight league games after Thursday’s 17-12 victory over the Houston Cougars. It only took a game-saving forced fumble by Knights safety Brandon Alexander with 24 seconds remaining to clinch the win.
While the Knights had the luxury of quarterback Blake Bortles in previous seasons, a George O’Leary squad is always built around fundamentally sound defense. The defense couldn’t have come up any bigger than it did against the Cougars as it appeared the game was about to slip away and result in a loss.
Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. was on the verge of slicing through the Knights’ defense to steal a victory as he dove for the end zone. Alexander worked his way across the field to hit Ward’s arms as the quarterback attempted to stretch the ball beyond the goal line. Alexander’s hit forced a fumble which went out of the back of the end zone. And a desperate Cougars comeback fell short.
Despite coming up inches short, a quarterback controversy is brewing for the Houston Cougars.
Ward did everything in his power to close the deficit the Cougars faced after sophomore signal-caller John O’Korn struggled through another half. O’Korn may be the traditional pocket passer while Ward does everything on offense and special teams, but the backup quarterback brought a completely different dynamic as a runner as well as a passer. Ward was 10-of-17 passing for 116 yards in the second half. O’Korn, meanwhile, was 12-of-25 passing for 98 yards and a pair of interceptions through the first two quarters.
UCF doesn’t have the same concerns. They settled on sophomore Justin Holman after the first half of the first game against the Penn State Nittany Lions. Holman was only 3-of-10 passing in the first half, but he connected with wide receiver Breshad Perriman for 52 yards and the game’s deciding touchdown in the third frame.
The Knights are now one of four teams in the American to open conference play with a 1-0 record. This particular victory was vital since the Cougars were expected to be one of the top teams vying for a conference crown. With Houston out of the way, UCF can now concentrate the No. 18 BYU Cougars before the Knights reenter conference play.
Sitting at the quarter-pole of the 2019 regular season, and Texas is the latest FBS program to feel the pain of the portal.
Joe Cook of InsideTexas.com was the first to report that Caleb Johnson has placed his name into the NCAA transfer database. 247Sports.com subsequently confirmed the initial report, writing that the junior linebacker “feels he has not fit in well since he arrived at Texas.”
247Sports provided further details as to the events leading up to Johnson’s decision.
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Johnson met with the staff Monday morning to inform them of his intentions to enter the transfer portal. While the staff requested he think more about his decision, Johnson decided to enter his name into he NCAA Transfer Portal, and is listed in the portal as of Tuesday morning.
Johnson joined the Longhorns from the junior college level, enrolling early and taking part in spring practice this past offseason. He was a three-star 2019 signee who was rated as the No. 3 JUCO outside linebacker in this past year’s class.
Through three games, Johnson hadn’t yet taken the field for the Big 12 program.
When the 2019 campaign kicked off, most assumed that the 2019 Heisman Trophy would be a two-player race. Three weeks in and that number has more than doubled.
In odds released by one offshore sportsbook, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is listed as a 2/1 favorite to win this year’s Heisman. The other preseason co-favorite, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, whose odds now sit at 15/2 — they were at 3/1 a week ago — after a start to the season has seen him throw more interceptions in three games (five) than he had in 15 games (four) as a true freshman a year ago.
Lawrence was actually leapfrogged in this latest odds release by a pair of quarterbacks: Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, who went from 7/2 to 3/1, and LSU’s Joe Burrow, up to 4/1 from 18/1.
Another quarterback also made an upward move as Ohio State’s Justin Fields climbed from 16/1 to 10/1.
The only non-quarterbacks on the list? Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor sits at 20/1, while fellow running backs Travis Etienne of Clemson and D’Andre Swift of Georgia, along with Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, are sitting at 33/1. Another running back, Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins, is listed at 100/1.
Other quarterbacks that were listed include Georgia’s Jake Fromm at 14/1 (12/1 a week ago), Oregon’s Justin Herbert at 18/1 (25/1), Texas’ Sam Ehlinger at 18/1 (16/1), Notre Dame’s Ian Book at 50/1 (50/1), Michigan’s Shea Patterson at 66/1 (22/1) and Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez at 100/1 (off the board).
A couple of weeks into the 2019 season, Colorado State has realized an immediate infusion of Power Five talent.
Nate Craig-Meyers transferred from Auburn in September of 2018; three months later, he landed at Colorado State. After being sidelined the first three games of this season, CSU confirmed Monday that Craig-Meyers is now eligible to play for the Rams, beginning in Week 4 against Toledo.
“Nate’s been an awesome teammate,” head coach Mike Bobo said according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan. “He’s done a good job learning our offense. The first two weeks of the season he did scout team. This past week, when we knew he was going to be eligible for this week, he came down and repped some with the offense.
“He’s in a good position. He’ll be ready to go.”
Craig-Meyers was a four-star member of the Tigers’ 2016 recruiting class, rated as the No. 6 receiver in the country; the No. 6 player at any position in the state of Florida; and the No. 45 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. He was the highest-rated signee on the offensive side of the ball for the Tigers that recruiting cycle.
Despite starting all three games for the Tigers prior to his transfer last season, Craig-Meyers had just two receptions for 39 yards. He finished the AU portion of his playing career with 394 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns on his 22 catches.
As a head football coach, you know you’re in trouble when you lose the preschoolers bloc.
Willie Taggart was officially hired as Florida State’s coach Dec. 5, 2017; on Sept. 16, 2018, we ran a post noting that FSU fans had started a GoFundMe page seeking a buyout of Taggart’s contract just three games into his first season in Tallahassee as the Seminoles started the year at 1-2. That season ended with FSU’s bowl streak snapped at 36 straight; this season began with yet another 1-2 record, including second-half defensive collapses that have left the ‘Noles with that same 1-2 mark in back-to-back-to-back seasons (now-Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher authored the first) for the first time since 1974-76.
The drumbeat surrounding Taggart has grown louder entering Week 4, with one four-year-old young man, whose father is an FSU booster, setting up a lemonade stand in Tallahassee in which the proceeds from his sales are earmarked toward buying out the coach’s contract.
From the Tallahassee Democrat:
That’s what 4-year-old Grayton Grant did early Sunday, setting up a “Free Willie” lemonade stand outside of his grandmother’s Tallahassee home and raising $241 in just under three hours.
Grayton charged $20 per cup, with one customer donating $100, before running out of lemonade in the sunny, 90-degree weather.
Grayton’s father – FSU graduate and booster Daniel Grant – teamed up with his son. He matched the total and stroked a check for $482 to Seminole Boosters, Inc.
The check – earmarked for “Taggart Buy Out!” – was accompanied by a formal yet tongue-in-cheek, typewritten letter signed by Grayton to Seminole Boosters, Inc.
For those wondering: Taggart’s buyout is in the neighborhood of $17 million if he’s fired without cause before February 1, 2020. For those keeping score at home, and at $20 a pop, young Mr. Grant would have to sell 850,000 cups of lemonade to cover the entire cost of Taggart’s buyout on his own.
So, get to work young man. You (and by “you” I mean your dad) have a long ways to go.