No. 16 Georgia Tech fends off No. 9 Georgia 30-24 in overtime

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In a game filled with wild swings of momentum, costly fumbles and blocked kicks, No. 16 Georgia Tech held off No. 9 Georgia 30-24 in overtime, giving the Yellow Jackets their first win in this heated series since 2008.

We’ll start in the first half, where Georgia moved the ball to within the doorstep of Georgia Tech’s goal line three times, but fumbled the ball away twice, settling for a 7-7 tie. The first fumble came right at the 1-yard line, as Nick Chubb lost the ball while heading in for a score that would have given the Dogs a 14-0 lead. Sony Michel then compounded the mistake with a fumble of his own, this time on a 13-yard dash after the ball was popped out by Georgia Tech’s Quayshawn Nealy and recovered by Isaiah Johnson in the end zone.

Georgia Tech controlled most of the second half, but committed two charitable acts of its own, both by quarterback Justin Thomas. The first came in the third quarter with the Yellow Jackets threatening to take a 14-7 lead; Thomas was piled up at the goal line and the play kept going and going and going and eventually Georgia’s Damian Swann ripped the ball from his hands and raced 99 yards for a touchdown. Watching the play on replay, Thomas’ forward progress was stopped for more than four seconds – an eternity in that situation – but the officials’ collective whistles were swallowed in their small intestines.

Georgia Tech stormed back to take a 21-17 lead on two Zack Laskey runs – the Ramblin’ Wreck ran for 280 yards in the second half alone – and appeared to have the game salted away after hopping on a kickoff at the Georgia 27 with 4:22 to go. But after rushing for a first down, Paul Johnson got cute. Georgia Tech pounded Georgia up the middle continuously in the second half, but he called for Thomas to take the ball around the end on a second-and-nine, which lost three yards, and then on a third-and-12, where he lost his second fumble of the half, this time on a play where he pump-faked but lost control of the ball.

Georgia recovered and marched down to score a go-ahead touchdown on a three-yard pass from Hutson Mason to Malcolm Mitchell with 18 seconds left, but the Bulldogs left juuuust enough time for Harrison Butker to knock in a 53-yard field goal as time expired to send the game to overtime. (Adding salt to the wound? Mark Richt called an ice-the-kicker timeout on a play where it appeared Georgia Tech wouldn’t have gotten the snap off in time.)

Georgia Tech opened overtime by rushing five times – four by Laskey – for a touchdown, but the ensuing extra point was blocked, Georgia’s second blocked kick of the day.

Now with a second chance to win the game with a touchdown and extra point, Georgia moved the ball to the Georgia Tech nine, but Mason was intercepted by D.J. White, sealing the win for the Yellow Jackets.

Chubb rushed 25 times for 129 yards and a touchdown and Mason threw for 194 yards, but Georgia couldn’t handle Georgia Tech’s onslaught running game. The Yellow Jackets pounded and pounded and pounded the Dogs to the tune of 70 carries for 399 yards and three touchdowns. Laskey was the star, rushing 26 times for 140 yards and three touchdowns.

Georgia Tech has beaten Georgia five times since 1991 – and four of those wins have come in Athens.

Georgia Tech improves to 10-2 on the season, and will prepare for No. 3 Florida State in the ACC championship. Georgia, meanwhile, has a month to reconcile a terrible 24-hour period; yesterday’s Missouri win knocked the Bulldogs out of the SEC championship, and today’s loss drops them to 9-3, costing them any shot at a New Year’s Six bowl.

UMass adds Florida State, Pitt, Auburn and others to future schedules beyond 2021

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It’s apparently a big week on the schedule front for FBS independents.

While UConn and Maryland announced a new home-and-home series in what is always going to be known as the Randy Edsall bowl, fellow New England independent UMass had a number of dates added to their calendar this week too.

According to the school, the Minutemen have confirmed several dates and games against Power Five opponents as well as a host of other smaller programs being added to the team’s future docket including:

  • at Pitt on Sept. 4, 2021
  • at Florida State on Oct. 23, 2021
  • at Auburn on Sept. 2, 2023

In addition, FCS foes like Merrimack (Nov. 4, 2023) and Wagner (Sept. 21, 2024) were scheduled. Two other contests were moved as well, including a game against Boston College from Sept. 2022 to Sept. 6, 2025. A game against New Mexico State was shifted up into Week 0 and is now set for Aug. 26, 2023 as well.

The moves give UMass five of their 12 games for 2021-2024 while there’s even more work left to be done beyond that.

“We’ve been hard at work over the last nine months building competitive future schedules that will allow our Independent program to grow and be challenged,” AD Ryan Bamford said in a release. “We are pleased with our scheduling progress and ability to secure agreements with a mix of Power Five, Group of Five and regional FCS opponents.”

The Minutemen host Coastal Carolina on Saturday and have notable games coming up against Army, Northwestern and BYU down the stretch in 2019.

Designs released for UAB’s future stadium in downtown Birmingham

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It’s truly been remarkable how far UAB has come since the program was shuttered just a few years ago but the next major step in the rebirth of the Blazers came on Wednesday as the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex unveiled the latest plans for the upcoming $175 million football stadium that the CUSA program will soon call home.

You can check out the latest renderings here.

The 45,000 seat venue is designed to host a number of different events once completed in 2021 but the primary purpose each fall will be UAB home games. As you would expect, all the modern design elements for a stadium nowadays are incorporated, such as suites, open concourses, a large press box and a hefty number of restrooms (including nearly double the number for women than men).

The price tag for everything is set at right around $175 million for the project, with bids going out sometime later this fall and an estimated date of completion prior to the 2021 season starting in late August.

The biggest question left about the stadium now might be not whether it will actually get built but what the Blazers will be playing on in terms of the surface. The school has reportedly expressed interest in having turf but the area trying to attract major soccer matchups could mean the venue has a grass field instead.

Either way, UAB remarkable turnaround on the gridiron took another big step this week and is poised to make a giant leap come 2021.

QB Artur Sitkowski to start for Rutgers against Boston College with McLane Carter not cleared from concussion

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Boston College’s bid to avoid losing to both Kansas and Rutgers in the same season may have received a slight boost thanks to the quarterback situation this week with the Scarlet Knights.

Speaking to the media on Thursday after practice, Rutgers head coach Chris Ash confirmed that starting signal-caller Carter McLane remains in the school’s concussion protocol and will not play on Saturday against the Eagles. That means the job falls on last year’s starter in Artur Sitkowski for the Scarlet Knights.

“(Carter) is still day-to-day (and) hasn’t practiced so he won’t be cleared to play,” Ash said according to NJ.com. “I’ve got nothing but 100 percent confidence and belief in Art. We talked all through training camp about the battle between the two. There wasn’t a whole lot of difference. The biggest one was just at the moment McLane was a fifth-year player and had a little bit more experience. But Art had a tremendous training camp, and the players, the coaches, everybody has nothing but 100 percent faith and trust in him to go out and lead the team. And we’re excited for him to do that.”

Carter, a grad transfer from Texas Tech, started the opener against UMass but was knocked out of last week’s shutout loss to Iowa after a hard hit in the first half. Sitkowski replaced him the rest of the way and will now make his first start of 2019.

A former four-star out of IMG Academy, Sitkowski was handed the reigns of the team as a true freshman last season and made 11 starts at Rutgers… with things not exactly going well under center considering he threw for just over 1,100 yards with four touchdowns against 18 interceptions. He’ll have a chance for redemption on Saturday against Boston College, which leads the ACC in interceptions but did give up a number of big passing plays in their shocking loss to Kansas last week.

Interestingly enough, the move to elevate Sitkowski in the wake of McLane’s concussion means that former Eagles quarterback Johnny Langan will now be the No. 2 QB for Rutgers in the game against his old team.

Lane Kiffin thinks UCF should be in top 10: ‘They looked just like an ACC or SEC team’

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Lane Kiffin is a believer… in a newsworthy in-state rival.

Speaking to Yahoo! Sports, the always talkative Florida Atlantic head coach threw his weight behind UCF being a top 10 team this season and even a College Football Playoff contender had they been starting veteran QB McKenzie Milton. 

“They looked just like an ACC or SEC team,” said Kiffin. “Not Alabama or Clemson, but one of the top teams in both of those conferences. They’ve done an unbelievable job recruiting. They have skill. Normally in the Group of Five they have skill players but not the [size on] the lines, well UCF has long and good-looking linemen.”

Kiffin would know having seen the Knights up close each of the past two seasons, including a 48-14 blowout by the defending AAC champions down in Boca Raton earlier in September. A former offensive coordinator in the SEC, he also got a good look at one of this season’s elite programs too considering FAU opened the year with a 45-21 loss to Ohio State in Columbus.

Though Kiffin doesn’t have a vote in the weekly Coaches Poll, he did add he’d rank UCF as high as No. 5 but certainly in the top 10, blaming the name on the front of the Knights’ jersey as much as anything for why they’re not being taken seriously nationally.