We still have no real clue where the Group of Five contenders rank against each other in the eyes of the College Football Playoff selection committee. We do know for sure East Carolina once did enough to impress the committee enough to appear in the first ranking released by the committee just weeks ago. After losing on the road at Temple, is East Carolina cooked or is there a chance for redemption on the field? Whatever the case is, East Carolina must win Thursday night’s game against Cincinnati for the Pirates to even have an argument for consideration to receive the selection committee’s reserved spot in the New Years Six bowl line-up.
“We’re ready to fight back. Like we always say, we have to get our face back,” ECU linebacker Zeek Bigger said, per The Charlotte Observer. “This is a game that we have to play and we have to be ready to play and we will be ready to play.”
There will be one spot in the New Years Six bowl line-up reserved for the highest-ranked conference champion from the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West Conference or Sun Belt Conference. Right now, Marshall is the only undefeated team in the Group of Five, although it is unknown if they would be the favorite or not for the lucrative bowl spot. Boise State, Colorado State and Utah State in the Mountain West Conference could have decent arguments, and Northern Illinois is still lurking after a Tuesday night victory against Toledo. Georgia Southern is making some noise out of the Sun Belt for now, but would need a waiver approved just to play in a bowl game. Then there is the AAC.
Memphis currently sits alone in first place in the AAC, although a win Thursday night will send East Carolina or Cincinnati into a tie for first-place. Defending conference champion UCF is also in the running with one conference loss so far. The perceived problem is every team in the conference has at least two losses, so it is hard to say the conference champion out of the AAC would be a lock to finish ahead of a 13-0 Marshall with a Conference USA championship.
There could still be a big bowl awaiting East Carolina, but winning on the road at Cincinnati is hardly a given. The Pirates may be sending quarterback Shane Carden and wide receiver Justin Hardy to the Senior Bowl, but any hope of playing in the Peach Bowl will be dependant on avoiding another slip-up in conference play. The talent is on the roster, but ECU has to get back to starting strong.
You know we are getting close to award season in college football because it seems this week has been filled with announcements about semifinalists for every award possible. Welcome to the party, Lott IMPACT Trophy. A total of nine semifinalists were announced by the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which is awarded to the best defensive player with a focus on success on and off the field, integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity.
The nine semifinalists for this year’s Lott IMPACT Trophy are:
- Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
- Cole Christiansen, LB, Army
- Jordan Fuller, DB, Ohio State
- Brandon Jones, DB, Texas
- Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
- Chris Orr, LB, Wisconsin
- Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
- Curtis Weaver, DL, Boise State
- Evan Weaver, LB, Cal
Linebacker remains a strong position for the Lott IMPACT Trophy this season, with five of the nine semifinalists playing a linebacker position.
This year’s recipient of the Lott IMPACT Trophy will be announced on Dec. 15 at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach. This list of nine semifinalists will be trimmed down to four finalists prior to the announcement.
Kentucky’s Josh Allen took home the award last season.
Former Baylor quarterback Peyton Powell has a new football home in the Pac-12. Powell announced on Thursday he is heading to Utah to join the Utes program.
“It’s time for me to clear the air and I WILL be doing that at THE University of Utah,” Powell said in a statement share don his Twitter account on Thursday afternoon.
Powell came to Baylor with the hopes of being able to compete and play quarterback for the Bears. That opportunity was one of the reasons Baylor ended up winning his commitment out of high school, while many schools hoping to sign the four-star athlete could find ways to use his athleticism at different positions. Powell, a member of the Baylor Class of 2019, has not played this season and will have four years of eligibility remaining. NCAA rules would force Powell to sit out the 2010 season before being ruled eligible to play, but he may be given a chance to play right away considering he did not play during his freshman year at Baylor.
As a year of disappointing results comes down the final stretch for the Arizona Wildcats, changes are already in the air for Kevin Sumlin and the program. On Thursday, Arizona continued to go through the process of overhauling its defensive coaching staff with the firing of defensive line coach Iona Uiagalelei.
News of the coaching change was first reported by Jason Scheer of Wildcat Authority. According to that same report, defensive analyst Greg Patrick will be moved into the position of defensive line coach, at least for the remainder of the current season.
Arizona ranks 73rd nationally in rushing defense, 113th in sacks, and 119th in tackles for a loss. These are all stats most commonly used to evaluate the performance of the defensive line, and the results this late in the season just simply aren’t good any way you look at it.
A month ago, Arizona parted ways with defensive coordinator Marcel Yates and linebackers coach John Rushing. Uiagalelei is the third defensive coach to be removed from the staff during the 2019 season.
Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor is attempting to do something that has only been done twice before by winning the Doak Walker Award in back-to-back seasons. Taylor was one of the 10 semifinalists revealed by the Doak Walker Award on Thursday, putting last year’s top running back one step closer to pulling off the rare feat on the college football award circuit.
Taylor will have some stiff competition for the award this season. Among the other semifinalists for the award include Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard, the nation’s rushing leader with 1,726 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns (Taylor has 1,463 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns in the same number of games as Hubbard).
Darren McFadden of Arkansas is the most recent player to win the Doak Walker Award in back-to-back seasons, doing so in 2006 and 2007. The only other player to win the award in consecutive seasons, and the only other two-time winner of the Doak Walker Award, is Ricky Williams of Texas. Williams won the award in 1997 and 1998. Taylor joined former Wisconsin running backs Melvin Gordon (2014), Montee Ball (2012) and Ron Dayne (1999) to move Wisconsin into first place for most all-time Doak Walker Award winners. Texas also has four awards won, but by three players (Ricky Williams twice, Cedric Benson in 2004 and D’Onta Foreman in 2016).
The other semi-finalists for the Doak Walker Award this year include LeVante Bellamy of Western Michigan (21 touchdowns leads the nation), AJ Dillon of Boston College, JK Dobbins of Ohio State, Clyde Edwards-Helaire of LSU, Travis Etienne of Clemson, Kenneth Gainwell of Memphis, Xavier Jones of SMU, Zack Moss of Utah.