Will there be enough bowl teams in 2014? Pressure is on

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While the most popular question this college football season has been “Who’s in,” with regard to the new College Football Playoff, it is easy to forget the rest of the bowl games will be played too and need teams to fill those spots. Heading to mid-November a total of 51 teams have clinched bowl eligibility, and 23 more schools could join them with one more win. With 38 bowl games and 51 teams ready for postseason play, that leaves 25 bowl spots still to fill. With a few weeks to play, the odds are still good all 25 vacancies will be accounted for, but the pressure is on for a handful of teams to finish the season strong.

There are 51 teams currently bowl eligible, but that number could easily be increased to 52. Georgia Southern has been playing very well in its first year in the Sun Belt Conference and already has enough wins for typical bowl eligibility. However, because this is its first season playing FBS football, Georgia Southern is technically ineligible for postseason play until 2015. Georgia Southern could still go bowling this season though if a waiver for postseason play is approved. If there are bowl spots to fill, this would increase the likelihood of Georgia Southern going to a bowl game this season.

For a quick rundown of which teams are currently eligible, which are close and which are not, here is a conference-by-conference breakdown of the entire bowl picture. Here is how each conference is broken down.

Eligible: Already bowl eligible

On Deck: One win away from clinching bowl eligibility

On Thin Ice: One loss away from being ineligible

Out: Already making plans for 2015

American Athletic Conference

Eligible: Memphis, East Carolina

On Deck: Cincinnati, UCF, Houston, Temple

On Thin Ice: Tulane, USF

Out: Connecticut, Tulsa, SMU

ACC

Eligible: Florida State, Clemson, Louisville, Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami

On Deck: NC State

On Thin Ice: Virginia

Out: Syracuse, Wake Forest

Big 12

Eligible: Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma, TCU, West Virginia

On Deck: Oklahoma State, Texas

On Thin Ice: Kansas, Texas Tech

Out: Iowa State

Big Ten

Eligible: Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Nebraska, Wisconsin

On Deck: Michigan, Penn State, Rutgers

On Thin Ice: Indiana, Northwestern

Out: Purdue

Conference USA

Eligible: Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Rice

On Deck: Middle Tennessee, UAB, UTEP

On Thin Ice: Old Dominion, North Texas

Out: FIU, FAU, UTSA, Southern Mississippi

MAC

Eligible: Bowling Green, NIU, Toledo, Central Michigan, Western Michigan

On Deck: Ohio

On Thin Ice: Buffalo, Ball State

Out: Eastern Michigan, Miami, UMass

Mountain West Conference

Eligible: Colorado State, Boise State, Utah State, Air Force, Nevada

On Deck: San Diego State

On Thin Ice: Fresno State, San Jose State, Wyoming, New Mexico

Out: Hawaii, UNLV

Pac-12

Eligible: Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, USC, UCLA, Utah

On Deck: Stanford, California, Washington*

Out: Colorado, Washington State

SEC

Eligible: Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Missouri, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Texas A&M

On Deck: Florida, Kentucky

Out: Vanderbilt

Sun Belt Conference

Eligible: Georgia Southern**, Louisiana-Lafayette, Arkansas State

On Deck: Texas State, South Alabama

On Thin Ice: Louisiana-Monroe

Out: Troy, New Mexico State, Idaho, Georgia State

Independents

Eligible: Notre Dame

On Deck: BYU

On Thin Ice: Army

* Washington needs to win seven games because the Huskies play a 13-game schedule, which is allowed due to playing a road game at Hawaii. Adding the extra game adds a win to the required win total.

** Georgia Southern has met the normal bowl eligibility win requirement, but would have to have a waiver approved by the NCAA due to being in a transition year from FCS to FBS.

West Virginia halts Kansas winning streak at 1 game

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The streak is over. Before it really began.

After thumping Boston College last Friday night, Kansas returned home to open its Big 12 slate against West Virginia, but Les Miles and company could not keep the mojo going as WVU emerged with a 29-24 win.

A win would have given Kansas (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) back-to-back wins over Power 5 opponents for the first time since taking four straight over the 2008-09 seasons.

West Virginia scored first and never trailed, but Kansas scored with 2:10 remaining to pull within five, the closest the Jayhawks had been since a 7-7 tie in the second quarter. After pulling within 29-24, Kansas forced a WVU punt and then took over at its own 20 with 32 seconds remaining. The Jayhawks moved to their own 48, where a completion from Carter Stanley to Daylon Charlot and a series of laterals put the ball in Pooka Williams‘ hands, but he was tackled at the West Virginia 12, ending the game.

Stanley threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns, while Williams rushed 15 times for 76 yards.

Austin Kendall completed 25-of-37 passes for 202 yards for West Virginia (3-1, 1-0 Big 12), while Kennedy McKoy rushed 20 times for 73 yards and a touchdown, Leddie Brown rushed 12 times for 70 yards, and Martell Pettway added 40 yards and two scores on the ground.

Like Kansas, West Virginia was picked at the bottom of the Big 12, so Kansas could be waiting a while still for its next set of back-to-back Power 5 victories.

Pitt Special! Pitt stuns No. 15 UCF in thriller to snap UCF regular-season win streak

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After 27 consecutive wins in the regular season, the UCF Knights have taken a loss. No. 15 UCF (3-1) was upset on the road by Pitt (2-2, 0-1 ACC) on Saturday afternoon in Heinz Field, 35-34. Pitt blew a 21-0 lead befroe coming back to win the game with a trick play in the final minute of the fourth quarter.

With the game on the line in the final minute of the fourth quarter, Pitt rolled out a play reminiscent of the Philly Special (Pat Narduzzi attempted to rebrand the play as Pitt Special after the game) from Super Bowl 52. Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett caught a pass from Aaron Matthews for a three-yard go-ahead touchdown.

Making the situation more imposing for UCF was the fact head coach Josh Heupel burned UCF’s final timeout on defense just before the touchdown was scored. That left UCF in a tough spot with under a minute to play. Starting at their 25-yard line with 56 seconds to play and no timeouts at their disposal, time ran out on the Knights as the Pitt defense was swarming. Gabriel was sacked twice in three plays to lock the gate son a win for the Panthers.

UCF fell behind with an uncharacteristically ugly start that saw them fall behind 21-0, and every aspect of the team was to blame. The offense was unable to get going. The defense could not make a big stop. And the special teams unit had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown by the Panthers. But UCF seized some control and got things back in their favor with a couple of scores before halftime, and a 21-7 burst out of halftime turned the tables in UCF’s favor.

Dillon Gabriel overcame his own rough start to the game to throw for 321 yards and two touchdowns. Both touchdown passes came in the third quarter, the first to Gabriel Davis from the 10-yard line to bring UCF within four and the second to Davis for a 28-yard score to push UCF’s lead to 10.

But UCF couldn’t put the game away for good. UCF missed on a fourth-down conversion attempt in the fourth quarter and settled for a field goal at the end of a 10-play drive with 4:36 remaining in the game. Pitt then went on their game-winning drive over the course of 12 plays. The drive was extended by a UCF offside penalty on a 4th & 5 with 2:11 left to play. After getting the free first down, Pickett completed a 19-yard pass to Taysir Mack to get the ball down to the UCF 11-yard line. A few plays later set the stage fo the memorable touchdown by the Panthers.

For the first time in three seasons, UCF must rebound from a regular-season loss. The good news is they get a good rebound opportunity next week at home against UConn. It will be all conference play the rest of the year for UCF, and their hopes of playing in the New Years Six ar not at all dashed base don this one loss. With over two months of football still to be played, UCF still is firmly in the mix for a third-straight NY6 appearance (although fans of Boise State are feeling good at this particular moment). But the talk about UCF in the College Football Playoff, for now, can be set aside.

As for Pitt, the Panthers play one more non-conference matchup next week against Delaware, a top 25 FCS program coming off a nailbiter against Penn earlier today. After a battle with the Blue Hens, Pitt will remain in ACC play for the rest of the season, beginning with a road trip to Duke. And against Duke, anything can happen if recent history is any indication.

SMU upsets No. 25 TCU, claims Iron Skillet for first time since 2011

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The Iron Skillet is heading back to Dallas for the first time in nearly a decade as one of the surprise stories of the early portion of the 2019 season has continued its unexpected winning ways — and at the expense of a rival for good measure.

The media had SMU pegged as the fourth-best team in the AAC South in its preseason poll; in his college football bible, Phil Steele had the Mustangs in third place in the division.  Saturday afternoon, however, SMU showed it should be a force to contend with in the conference race as it jumped out to a 31-17 halftime lead on No. 25 TCU and then held on for a 41-38 win over the Horned Frogs.

The win gives SMU, an eight-point underdog entering the game, possession of the Iron Skillet for the first time since 2011 and just the third time since 1998.

The 4-0 start is the program’s first since the Pony Express days of 1984; a win next week would match the 5-0 start of the ’83 squad.  Barring something unforeseen, the Mustangs will be ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since the 1986 season when the new poll is released Sunday afternoon.

Former Texas quarterback Shane Buechele passed for 288 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the win.

No. 8 Auburn too much for No. 17 Texas A&M

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No. 8 Auburn did most of its damage to No. 17 Texas A&M on two drives. The first was the game’s opening drive, where Anthony Schwartz darted 57 yards for a touchdown. The second came midway through the fourth quarter, when the Tigers went 12 plays and 69 yards , with 11 of those plays and 62 of those yards coming on the ground, the last effectively putting the game way, as JaTavious Whitlow‘s 8-yard rush with 8:27 remaining gave Auburn a 28-10 lead en route to a 28-20 win.

Texas A&M (2-2, 0-1 SEC) rallied after the Whitlow run, moving 69 yards to set up a Seth Small field goal and then 81 yards in eight snaps to pull within 28-20 on a Kellen Mond-to-Ainias Smith strike with 2:12 remaining.

Whitlow recovered A&M’s onside kick after the Smith touchdown, allowing the Tigers to ice the game and emerge from Kyle Field with their fourth win in as many trips. Overall, the road team is 7-1 in this series since Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012.

Auburn (4-0, 1-0 SEC) won the game because it owned the ground game. The Tigers rushed for 195 yards to the Aggies’ 56, though all but 76 of Auburn’s rushing yards came on two drives.

Bo Nix took care of the football, but threw for just 100 yards on 20 attempts and missed on three deep balls that would have broken the game open for Auburn. He did rush for six yards on a 3rd-and-5 to expire the clock inside the final minute.

Mond threw for 335 yards and two touchdowns, but needed 49 attempts to get there. He found Jhamon Ausbon eight times for 111 yards and Quartney Davis five times for 82 yards and a score, but A&M’s inability to run the ball with its running backs left Mond as the Aggies’ leading rusher at just 26 yards.