The Fifth Quarter: Week 9 Rewind

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As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

CALM(ISH) BEFORE THE STORM
After a few weeks worth of utter tumult, we were due.

Entering Week 9, we were looking at a slate of games heavy on the mundane and light on intrigue.  Exiting it, the landscape is essentially the same as it began — with one very large exception.

No. 3 Ole Miss’ loss to No. 24 LSU was easily the most high-profile upset of the day, even as it probably shouldn’t be referred to as an upset.  Playing in Death Valley, at night no less, is no easy task for any squad regardless of how highly-ranked they are, especially facing a Tiger team riding an emotional roller coaster after the death of their head coach’s mother Friday night.

Certainly there were, in the weekend before Halloween, some scares for the Top 25.  No. 5 Auburn was able to survive an upset bid by South Carolina, exiting Jordan-Hare with a seven-point win.  No. 13 Ohio State and No. 25 UCLA were even more fortunate, getting taken to double-overtime by Penn State and Colorado, respectively, before scrambling back to Columbus and Los Angeles, respectively, with their closer-than-expected wins.  Even No. 1 Mississippi State had its “lemon-booty” moments in a 14-point win over Kentucky on the road.

That, though, was essentially the gist of the Week 9 tumult, as it were.

Of the 16 teams that played an unranked team this week, exactly none went down in defeat.  The average margin of victory in those games was 17.6.  A whopping 13 of the 16 were decided by at least 10 points, with five of them coming by 20 or more.  Of course, there was also that 55-point shellacking that we mention below.

The four remaining Top 25 teams that hit the field this weekend played each other, with the lower-ranked team winning one (the previously referenced Ole Miss-LSU game) and the higher-ranked team winning the other (No. 19 Utah over No. 20 USC).

In other words, expect very little change in the Top 25 when the polls are released Sunday afternoon, the last polls, incidentally, before the first release of the newly-minted College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday night.

SATURDAY RESET
Below is a list of links out to a handful of the gamers posted by the CFT crew, placed in one handy and convenient space for you, our beloved and dear readers.

  • A head-scratching decision at game’s end was the highlight — or lowlight if you lean toward Oxford — of the biggest upset of the day, Ole Miss’ loss to LSU under the lights in Death Valley.
  • On the road against Kentucky, top-ranked Mississippi State looked downright vulnerable but came away with a 45-31 win.  The margin of victory was the Bulldogs’ second-closest of the year, behind only the five-point victory at LSU that wasn’t even remotely as close as the 34-29 final score indicated.
  • Auburn’s offense continued to roll, which was fortunate for the Tigers as so did South Carolina’s as AU was able to hold off the upset-minded Gamecocks for a 42-35 victory on The Plains.
  • It was the Ameer Abdullah show in Lincoln as the talented and prolific running back set a school record with 341 yards (225 rushing, 26 receiving, 90 on kickoff returns) in Nebraska’s 42-24 pounding of Rutgers.  The senior back, if he wasn’t already, should be in the thick of the Heisman discussion.
  • It wasn’t aesthetically impressive — it very rarely ever is when a Bill Snyder-coached team is involved — but Kansas State still did enough to shut out Texas 23-0, the first time the Longhorns have been whitewashed since 2004.  It was also enough to keep K-State (4-0 in Big 12 play) just ahead of the one-loss conference teams of Baylor, TCU and West Virginia.  The Wildcats will face all three of those teams in the last five games.
  • There’s taking a team to the woodshed, and then there’s what TCU did to Texas Tech Saturday night.  The Horned Frogs hung a 82-spot on the Red Raiders, most in a league game in Big 12 history; eviscerated Tech by 55 points, it’s largest margin of victory in a Big 12 game; and dropped a school-record 785 yards of total offense.  That, Double-T, is what happens when you get on the wrong side of Gary Patterson.
  • Surprising West Virginia was able to easily handle Oklahoma State on the road 34-10.  Next up for WVU?  A home date with rampaging TCU, with College GameDay possibly coming to Morgantown.
  • Lane Kiffin was the storyline entering the Alabama-Tennessee game, but it was Amari Cooper who stole the show on gameday as the Tide rolled over the Vols 34-20 at Neyland Stadium.
  • Michigan State drove yet another nail in Brady Hoke‘s coffin in embarrassing in-state rival Michigan 35-11.  The Spartans, heading into its last bye of the season, will now get an extra week to prepare for the Big Ten Game of the Year Nov. 8 against Ohio State.
  • Ohio State didn’t deserve it, but the Buckeyes were able to slink back to Columbus with a double-overtime steal of a win over Penn State.  To say the aforementioned B1G Game of the Year lost a little luster would be an understatement.
  • UCLA avoided an embarrassing double-overtime loss to Colorado — and staved off the “Most Disappointing Team in America” label for at least another week.  If the Bruins, 3-2 in Pac-12 play, are going to get back into/remain in the South Division chase, they will have to play better than they did Saturday. Or all season, really.
  • Arizona tied a school record for points in a Pac-12 game as it thumped Washington State 59-37.  Connor Halliday‘s 489 yards passing in a losing effort was his sixth 400-plus effort of the season in eight games.
  • Arizona State used a couple of fourth-quarter touchdowns to both drop Washington and remain one of three Pac-12 South teams, along with Arizona and Utah, with just one conference loss on the ledger.
  • Minnesota had the opportunity to reach 4-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since 1967, but fumbled that chance as Illinois shocked the Gophers 28-24 in Champaign.  The win was huge for the hot-seated Tim Beckman, who watched his Illini win for the first time in the conference this season even as he improved to just 2-18 in league play in two-plus years.
Mississippi State v Kentucky
Dak Prescott

CFT TOP FIVE
A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Sunday if I, ya know, had a real vote.

1. Mississippi State — Go on the road and beat a quality team like Kentucky (yes, UK is quality in something other than basketball)?  Yep, you keep your spot at the head of the class. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: vs. Arkansas, Nov. 1

2. Florida State — FSU saw its lead in the polls gradually erode until MSU overtook them earlier this month.  With the Seminoles on a bye and the Bulldogs “struggling,” the ‘Noles could very well return the favor this afternoon. (Last week: No. 3)
Next up: at Louisville, Oct. 30

3. Notre Dame — The further away we get from last Saturday night, the more impressive the Irish’s performance in Tallahassee becomes.  Like FSU, the Golden Domers were on a bye after their Week 8 thriller. (Last week: No. 4)
Next up: vs. Navy (Landover, Md.), Nov. 1

4. Oregon — After a couple of weeks of wobbling, the Ducks have righted what some would describe as a listing ship.  That righting comes at a most opportune time with the annual grudgefest with Stanford on tap. (Last week: No. 5)
Next up: vs. Stanford, Nov. 1

5.  Ole Miss — (What, you thought I’d move Alabama into the Top Five and drop Ole Miss?  No thanks, I’m not the coaches’ poll; I don’t rank teams with the same number of losses over teams that have already beaten them.)  The Rebels loss to LSU wil certainly sting, especially the way the coaching staff and the quarterback bungled the ending, but Ole Miss remains very much in the thick of the SEC West race.  In fact, like Mississippi State and Auburn, they control their own fate: win out, and they’re in Atlanta the first week of December for the SEC championship game. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up: vs. No. 5 Auburn

(Dropped out: none)

HeismanHEISMAN RACE, BY THE NUMBERS
A statistical look at how some of the top contenders for this year’s stiff-armed trophy fared this weekend, listed in alphabetical order so as not to offend any of the delicate sensibilities readers in the audience may possess. Also, each week at least one name will be sliced from a list that began in Week 6 at a baker’s dozen and, if need be, names will be added as well.

Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska (7-1, No. 16)
Saturday: 19 carries for 225 yards (11.8 ypc), three touchdowns; two catches for 26 yards; two kickoff returns for 90 yards
Season: 161 carries for 1,024 yards (6.4 ypc), 14 touchdowns; 11 catches for 143 yards, two touchdowns; nine kickoff returns for 182 yards (20 ypr)

Trevone Boykin, QB TCU (6-1, No. 10)
Saturday: 22-39 (56.4%) 433 yards, seven touchdowns, zero interceptions; 28 rushing yards
Season: 168-247 (68%), 2,306, 21 touchdowns, three interceptions; 403 rushing yards, three touchdowns

Shane Carden, QB, East Carolina (6-1, No. 18)
Thursday: 38-64 (59.4%), 445 yards, two touchdowns, one interception; 32 rushing yards
Season: 204-316 (64.6%), 2,574 yards, 18 touchdowns, five interceptions; 105 rushing yards, three touchdowns

Rakeem Cato, QB, Marshall (8-0, No. 23)
Saturday: 13-24 (54.2%), 218, one touchdown, zero interceptions; 32 rushing yards
Season: 132-228 (57.9%), 2,130 yards, 20 touchdowns, six interceptions; 255 rushing yards, five touchdowns

Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame (6-1, No. 7)
Saturday: bye week
Season: 166-268 (61.9%), 1,996 yards, 19 touchdowns, six interceptions; 239 rushing yards, four touchdowns

Miami v Virginia Tech
Duke Johnson

Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin (5-2, unranked)
Saturday: 22 carries for 122 yards (5.5 ypc), three touchdowns; two receptions, 12 yards
Season: 154 carries for 1,168 yards (6.7 ypc), 16 touchdowns; eight receptions, 39 yards, one touchdown

Duke Johnson, RB, Miami (5-3, unranked)
Thursday: 29 carries for 249 yards (8.6 ypc), one touchdown; two receptions, 37 yards, one touchdown;
Season: 139 carries for 1,036 yards (7.4 ypc), seven touchdowns; 19 receptions, 224 yards, one touchdown

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (7-1, No. 6)
Friday: 18-30 (60%), 326 yards, five touchdowns, one interception; 36 rushing yards
Season: 150-218 (68.8%), 2,283 yards, 24 touchdowns, one interceptions; 325 rushing yards, five touchdowns; one reception, 26 yards, one touchdown

Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State (7-0, No. 1)
Saturday: 18-33 (54.5%), 216 yards, one touchdown, one interception; 88 rushing yards, two touchdowns
Season: 114-189 (60.3%), 1,694 yards, 15 touchdowns, five interceptions; 664 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns

Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State (7-0, No. 2)
Saturday: bye week
Season: 149-211 (70.6%), 1,878 yards, 13 touchdowns, six interceptions; 47 rushing yards, two touchdowns

(Dropped out: Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, Pittsburgh running back James Connor)
(Added: Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah, Miami running back Duke Johnson)

Hot Seats
Hot Seats

COACHING HOT SEAT
My weekly look at a couple of the current head coaches who could most likely be ex-head coaches by season’s end — if not sooner.

1. Will Muschamp, Florida
(Writer’s note: I’m just going to trot this same note out week after week, with the records updated, until athletic director Jeremy Foley finally and mercifully puts Gator Nation out of its collective misery.)
In his three years at UF,Ron Zook was 23-14 overall and 16-8 in the SEC.  Since beginning his Gator career at 4-0, Muschamp has gone 22-20 overall and an embarrassing 13-14 in the conference.  The last 18 games, Muschamp’s record is 7-11 and 5-8.  In other words, there’s been nothing but regression instead of the progression that an 11-2 second season portended.  The worst part?  There’s no hope as far as the eye can see.

2. Brady Hoke, Michigan
(Writer’s note: same goes for the UM fan base.)
In what turned out to be Rich Rodriguez‘s last season at Michigan in 2010, the Wolverines’ began the year 6-1; in what could turn out to be Hoke’s last season at Michigan, the Wolverines are 3-5.  From Oct. 3, 2009, through Oct. 9, 2010, UM went 7-8 under Rodriguez; from Oct. 12, 2013, through Oct. 25, 2014, UM has gone 5-11 under Hoke.  In his first 31 games at UM, Rodriguez was 14-17; in his last 31 games at UM, Hoke is 16-15.  You see where this is going, right?  So should Hoke, athletic director Dave Brandon and the entire UM football program as a different direction is needed on that hallowed sideline.

Bo Pelini
Bo Pelini

HE SAID IT
“We got the win. I’m happy about that. That’s about all I’m happy about. I thought we were sloppy, inconsistent and we didn’t play at the standard we needed to.” — a happily unhappy/unhappily happy Bo Pelini following Nebraska’s 42-24 thumping of Rutgers to improve to 7-1 on the season.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“We try to design something that makes as little sense as possible.” — Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, on lining up an offensive lineman in the shotgun and having him throw a touchdown pass to a long-snapper (see below).

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“I think that’s why the women come to the game, to be honest.” — Mississippi State running back Josh Robinson, when asked about his ample buttocks following his 198-yard, two-touchdown performance in the win over Kentucky.

HE SAID IT, THE QUADQUEL
“Why don’t you let us think about it tonight?” — Michigan head coach Brady Hoke, when asked if Devin Gardner is still Michigan’s starting quarterback.

HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“I said it going in I thought he w a top-three Heisman guy. After watching him live and in-person, he’s got to be the frontrunner. He’s that good. He’s the best player in the country in my opinion.” — Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, after watching TCU’s  Trevone Boykin throw for 433 yards and seven touchdowns.

FROM-THE-HEART HE SAID IT
“After the game, I can’t tell you the number of young men that threw their arms around me and said that they love me coach, which is as touching as anything I’ve had happen. They hand me the game ball, which I only accept on behalf of a great team. A team that really comes out and says we can be a whole lot better, we can improve and they go to work. You guys hear me say this, they’re going to improve, they’re coming, we’re going to be special, this team is ambitious. So, I accept it. Martha Miles, this is a great night considering. I miss you Ma.” — LSU head coach Les Miles, whose mother passed away Friday night.

FLY-OVER OF THE DAY
You want a photographic proof of how bad it’s gotten for Michigan?

That sign requesting the retention of Brady Hoke was flying over Spartan Stadium in East Lansing prior to Michigan State’s game with its “big brother.” When stuff like that happens, the end is truly nigh, which should somewhat assuage the anguish of the great Wolverine fans all across the nation.

FAT GUY TD PASS OF THE DAY
(I touched on this already, but this kind of once-in-a-lifetime greatness deserves an encore.)
That’s right, “Fat Guy” and “TD pass” in the same headline… and it doesn’t involve a lineman-eligible play.  Instead, 350-pound Arkansas guard Sebastian Tretola lined up in the shotgun — in the shotgun! — and tossed a six-yard touchdown pass.  Here it is, in all of its fat-guy glory.

 

“What’s the big deal?” — Jared Lorenzen, at a buffet somewhere.

Incidentally, Tretola’s career quarterback rating is 480.4

Oh, and the player on the receiving end of the pass?  Long-snapper Alan D’Appollonio. All things considered — Tretola busted out the Heisman pose for good measure — it’s likely the greatest touchdown in the history of college football at any level ever. Or close to it.

DEER RUN OF THE DAY
There were reports that someone was blasting air horns at four in the morning outside of the hotel in which Ohio State was staying prior to Saturday night’s game against Penn State.  As it turns out, that wasn’t the only thing happening at a Happy Valley hotel at that time of the morning.

 

The “what the what,” deer-in-the-hotel look on dude’s face makes me chuckle every time.

(Tip O’ the Cap: Land-Grant Holy Land)

FACEMASK OF THE DAY
There are facemask penalties, and there are facemask penalties.  What happened to LSU’s Leonard Fournette was the quintessential facemask penalty.

That one might’ve deserved a 20-yard penalty.

HELMET OF THE DAY
I’m not a fan of myriad uniform combinations that have enveloped the game of college football.  I am, though, a huge fan of retro looks in general and Oklahoma State’s back-to-the-past lid specifically.

OSU may have lost to West Virginia — its second straight loss to drop to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in Big 12 play — but at least they looked good doing it.

STREAKING
Florida State has won a nation’s best 23 straight games, a record for an ACC school.  The Seminoles’ last loss came Nov. 24, 2012, a 37-26 home setback to in-state rival Florida, and FSU has won 18 of those 23 games by at least 14 points.  Mississippi State, at 10 in a row, is the only other FBS team with a double-digit winning streak, although Marshall is closing in with its own nine-game streak.

SMU’s nine straight losses serve as the longest losing streak in the country, and they remain the only winless team at the FBS level in 2014.  Georgia State, meanwhile, has lost seven in a row.

GOING BOWLING
For the third straight week, six or more teams officially qualified for postseason play.  There are now 32 teams eligible to play in this year’s 38 bowl games.  Below are the 16 teams that hit the six-win minimum this week.

Arizona
Arizona State
Clemson
Georgia Southern
Georgia Tech
Kansas State
Louisville
Missouri
Northern Illinois
Ohio State
South Alabama
TCU
UCLA
Utah
West Virginia
Wisconsin

S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK
In his first career game against Toledo on Sept. 12 this year, Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel recorded the most passing touchdowns (six) for a quarterback in his FBS debut. The record was previously held by Florida’s John Reaves, who threw five against Houston in 1969. Reaves’ son, David, is the quarterbacks coach for USF, the Bearcats’ opponent in Week 9.

S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK II
In the last two weeks, North Carolina has played in the highest scoring game in Notre Dame Stadium history (93 points, first season in 1930) and the most total offense yards combined (1,190) in Kenan Stadium history (first season in 1927).

OFF THE CHARTS
Entering Week 9, below are the teams with the biggest margins of victories this season:

1. Marshall 30.8
2. Ohio State 26.3
3. Baylor 26.0
4. Michigan State 25.4
5. Mississippi 24.8
6. TCU 24.5
7. Alabama 23.8
8. Georgia 23.4
9. Mississippi State 21.8
10. Nebraska 21.1

OFF THE CHARTS, ENCORE
Entering Week 9, here are the…
Most Passing Yards FBS QB

SAY WHAT?
Washington State’s Connor Halliday is on pace to throw for 5,749 yards on 775 pass attempts.  The current FBS records are 5,833 yards passing and 719 attempts by Texas Tech’s B.J. Symons in 2003 in 13 games.  As Wazzu is currently 2-6, it’s highly doubtful the Cougars qualify for a bowl game, so Halliday will have to do in 12 games what Symons did in 13.

DULY NOTED
There are four FBS teams that have scored a touchdown on at least 40 percent of its possessions in 2014: Marshall, Michigan State, Ohio State and Oregon.

US actor Don Diamont poses with his wife
Don Diamont, wife

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

… Indiana’s starting quarterback, Zander Diamont, is the son of former “Young and the Restless” and current “The Bold and the Beautiful” soap opera actor Don Diamont?

… Wake Forest’s starting quarterback, true freshman John Wolford, is the brother of Boston College’s starting fullback, junior Bobby Wolford?  The older brother’s Eagles got the best of the youngster’s Demon Deacons Saturday afternoon by the score of .

… Utah State’s Nick Vigil is the only player in the country to start on both offense and defense in the same game this season?  The sophomore started at both linebacker (his main position) and running back in the Week 7 win over Air Force.  He’s played on both sides of the ball each of the past four games, and this season has ran for 118 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries — and he’s completed both of his pass attempts as for good measure.  His 55 yards in the win over UNLV led the team.

… Colorado State’s Rashard Higgins was the first receiver in the FBS to register at least 175 yards in three consecutive contests since Michael Crabtree accomplished the feat for Texas Tech in 2007?  That streak was stopped in Week 9… when Higgins grabbed 174 yards worth of receptions in the win over Wyoming.

Les Miles is the fastest coach in LSU history to reach 10 wins (11 games), 20 wins (24 games), 30 wins (35 games), 40 wins (48 games), 50 wins (63 games), 60 wins (76 games), 70 wins (87 games), 80 wins (98 games), 90 wins (112 games) and 100 wins (126)?

Texas v Kansas State
Bill Snyder

… Kansas State has beaten Oklahoma and Texas in the same season twice in the last three years?  Prior to that, that double-dip had only happened once: 1926.

… the Notre Dame-Florida State rating of 7.9 last weekend was the highest-rated college football game of the season on ESPN and the highest on that family of networks since the Notre Dame-USC game Thanksgiving weekend of 2012?

… Virginia and North Carolina met for the 119th time Saturday in what the schools describe as the South’s Oldest Rivalry, a series that was first played in 1892?  Thanks to the win Saturday, UVa./UNC now trails/leads the series (60-54-4).

… at 4-4, South Carolina is off to its worst start to a season since the winless 1999 campaign in the first year under Lou Holtz?  The Gamecocks have also lost three straight in SEC play for the first time since 2009.

… Oregon State is the only Power Five conference team that will play four of its final five games this season at home?

… Wake Forest will not leave the state of North Carolina for its final six games of the season?  The Demon Deacons have four home games and road trips to Duke and North Carolina State remaining.

… Louisiana-Monroe and UMass are the only FBS teams to have a non-conference schedule comprised entirely of Power Five teams? The former has already played Wake Forest, LSU and Kentucky, with a game against Texas A&M still on tap, while the latter has already played Boston College, Colorado, Vanderbilt and Penn State. The two teams are a combined 1-6 in those games, with the lone win being ULM’s 17-10 triumph in the opener against Wake.

… exiting Week 9, Pac-12 road teams are 20-9 in conference games?

(For the latest “Week 9, Statistically Speaking,” click HERE.)

Pac-12 responds to football players threatening opt-outs

Pac-12
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The Pac-12 responded Monday to football players who have threaten to opt-out of the season because of concerns related to health and safety, racial injustice and economic rights with a letter touting the conference’s work in those areas and an invitation to meet later this week.

A letter from Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, dated Aug. 3, was sent to 12 football players leading the #WeAreUnited movement. The letter was obtained by The Associated Press and first reported by Sports Illustrated.

The players say they have been communicating with more than 400 of their peers throughout the Pac-12. The group released a lengthy list of demands Sunday and said if they are not addressed they will not practice or play. The group said it reached out to the Pac-12 on Sunday to request a meeting. In the letter, Scott said he was eager to discuss their concerns.

“I will come back to you in the coming days following discussion with our members and student-athlete leaders to schedule a call for this week to discuss the matters that you have raised,” Scott wrote.

Also Monday night, Washington State coach Nick Rolovich said in a statemen t he regretted cautioning one of his players about being part of the #WeAreUnited movement. A recording of a conversation between Rolovich and receiver Kassidy Woods obtained by the Dallas Morning News revealed the coach seemingly warning the player that being involved with the group would hurt his standing with the team. Woods had called Rolovich to inform him he was opting out of the season for health reasons related to COVID-19.

“I spoke with Kassidy Woods in a private phone conversation last Saturday afternoon. This was before the #WeAreUnited group had released its letter of concerns,” said Rolovich, who is in his first season was Washington State coach. “Without knowing the concerns of the group, I regret that my words cautioning Kassidy have become construed as opposition. I’m proud of our players and all the Pac-12 student-athletes for using their platform, especially for matters they are passionate about. WSU football student-athletes who have expressed support for the #WeAreUnited group will continue to be welcome to all team-related activities, unless they choose to opt out for health and safety reasons.”

The #WeAreUnited players’ demands focused on four areas: health and safety protections, especially protocols related to COVID-19; guarding against the elimination of sports programs by schools during an economic downturn; ending racial injustice in college sports; and economic freedom and equity.

Scott addressed each area, highlighting the conference’s:

— Medical advisory committee working on COVID-19 protocols and webinars for student-athletes and their parents;

— Support for reforming NCAA rules regarding name, image and likeness compensation for college athletes;

— Recent initiatives to address racial inequities such as the formation of a social justice & anti-racism advisory group that includes student-athletes representatives.

Scott also listed 10 areas in which, he wrote, “The Pac-12 has been a leader in supporting student-athlete health and well-being …” Included were enhanced medical coverage post-eligibility; cost-of-attendance stipends added to the value of scholarship; mental health support; and the Pac-12′s support of reforming NCAA transfer rules to allow athletes more freedom to switch schools.

Pac-12 football teams are scheduled to begin preseason practices Aug. 17 and the league’s conference-only regular season is set to start Sept. 26.

Big 12 to allow teams to play 1 non-conference football game

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Two people involved with the decision say the Big 12 will permit its teams to play one nonconference football game this year to go along with their nine league contests as plans for the pandemic-altered season continued to fall into place.

The people spoke Monday night to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the conference was still preparing an official announcement.

The Big 12 university presidents signed off on the conference’s scheduling model, which gives schools the ability to play one nonconference game at home. The conference’s championship game is scheduled for Dec. 5, but one of the people told AP that the conference is leaving open the possibility of bumping it back a week or two.

The 10-team Big 12 already plays a nine-game, round-robin conference schedule. Unlike other Power Five conference that have switched to either exclusively (Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC) or mostly (ACC) league games this season, the Big 12 could not add more conference games without teams playing each other more than once.

Several Big 12 teams have already started preseason practice, with Kansas and Oklahoma slated to play FCS teams on Aug. 29.

As conferences take steps toward a football season that seems to be in precarious shape, the NCAA is expected to weigh in Tuesday on fall sports other than major-college football.

The association’s Board of Governors is scheduled to meet and whether to cancel or postpone NCAA championship events in fall sports such as soccer, volleyball and lower-division football is expected to be a topic.

Only the Pac-12 has a full football schedule with matchups and dates in place among Power Five conferences. The Pac-12 will begin Sept. 26, along with the Southeastern Conference, which is still working on its new 10-game slate.

The Atlantic Coast Conference has opponents set for its 10-game conference schedule and will start the weekend of Sept. 12, but no specific game dates. The ACC has also said it will permit its teams to play one nonconference game.

The Big Ten, first to announce intentions to go conference-only this season, has yet to release a new schedule, but that could come later this week.

Now that the Power Five has declared its intentions the Group of Five conferences can start making plans and filling holes on their schedules.

American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco has said the AAC could stick with its eight-game conference schedule and let its members plays as many of their four nonconference games as they can salvage or replace.

The Mountain West, Conference USA, Mid-American and Sun Belt conferences are likely to take similar approach.

Early Monday, Texas State from the Sun Belt announced it was moving a nonconference game against SMU up from Sept. 5 to Aug. 29.

Good morning and, in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening and good night! CFT, out…

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CFT is no more. At least, when it comes to NBC Sports.

The first of last month, I — this is John Taylor (pictured, catching the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XXIII) — began my 12th year with CFT and NBC Sports. This morning, I was informed that my position was being eliminated and I would not be completing that 12th year. Which, of course, meant I wouldn’t be eligible for the traditional 13th-anniversary gift of lace. Which really bummed me out. Because I really like lace.

The jarring phone call was both a slap in the face and a relief. Jarring because, well, it was completely unexpected. Out of the blue, even amidst the pandemic that is wreaking absolute and utter havoc across the country. A relief, on the other hand, because, every single day for the past four months, I woke up wondering if this would be the day I get that call.

Would this be the day? Would this be the day? A question played on an endless loop that just f***s with you mentally, emotionally, physically.

That’s no way to live.

Then again, being job-less is no way to live, either. But, here we are.

So many people I want to thank. First and foremost, Mike Florio and Larry Mazza. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Especially Mr. Mazza on the food front. Hopefully, lunch at Oliverio’s — best damn stuffed shells I have EVER had — can still be a thing, Larry.

And so many people that have worked for me. Not to single anyone out, but I’m going to single one out in Ben Kercheval. Ben, non-biological son of Hoppy, you were and continue to be the man. I appreciate you more than you know.  Rasheed Wallace may indeed be your biological father, but I will forever consider you my illegitimate Internet stepson.

Mike Miller is the best boss anyone could ever ask for.  Hire that man.  You can thank me later.

Kevin McGuire, Zach Barnett, Bryan Fischer, I will always treasure what we did, together, these last few years. Things were on the uptick, and it’s sad that we won’t be able to see it through. Together.  We should’ve — SHOULD’VE SHOULD’VE SHOULD’VE — been given that opportunity.  And it will forever piss me off that we weren’t.

Brent and Chris and JJ, much love to you all as well.

Shortly after I received the job call of death, I called my dad. Told him what was going on in his son’s life.  After I hung up the phone, he sent me a GIF in a text message a few minutes later.  I’ll link it here to end whatever this is, because it’s appropriate.  And old school.

And, well… bye.

via GIPHY

2018 FCS All-American RB commits to Virginia

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Virginia joined South Carolina over the weekend as Power Five football schools realizing a personnel benefit from a lower-level program’s loss.

Two weeks ago, the Colonial Athletic Association announced that it was canceling its 2020 college football season because of the coronavirus pandemic.  One member of that FCS conference is Towson.  Coincidentally or not, one standout member of the Tigers, Shane Simpson, took to Twitter last week to announce that he has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.

On that same social media service Sunday, the running back confirmed that he has committed to the Virginia football team.  Simpson had his transfer to-do list down to Virginia and Texas.

As Simpson was a fifth-year senior in 2019, it appears he has been granted a sixth season of eligibility.  Or, is fairly confident he will receive one.

Simpson would likely be eligible for that sixth season as he missed all but four games of his true freshman season in 2015 because of injury, then missed all but the first three games last season because of a serious knee injury.

In 2018, Simpson earned first-team All-American honors.  He finished second in all of FCS with 171.5 all-purpose yards per game, totaling 2,058 yards on the season.  That same season, the Pennsylvania product was the CAA’s Special Teams Player of the Year and earned three different all-conference honors: first-team at running back, second-team as a kick returner and third-team as a punt returner.

Simpson would be eligible to play immediately in 2020 at the FBS level.