As you no doubt know by now, the highest-ranked conference champion from the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West Conference or Sun Belt Conference will receive an automatic spot in the New Years Six bowl line-up. The ranking used is not the AP or coaches polls, but the ranking cooked up by the College Football Playoff selection committee. Last season the big bowl spot went to Boise State. The Broncos are once again a favorite to land that bowl invitation, but one slip along the way could open a door for others.
Boise State travels to Provo, Utah this week for a big match-up with BYU. BYU does not figure into the Group of Five conversation as a football independent, but the Cougars play a key role in the outlook anyway. BYU, coming off a wild win at Nebraska and losing quarterback Taysom Hill, could be in positions for a letdown game, but the Broncos and Cougars have put together some tough contests in recent years. This week should be no different. Boise State could potentially lose this weekend and still end the year on top of the Group of Five in the eyes of the selection committee, but one loss is a slim margin for error in this race.
Perhaps Boise State’s top threat in the Group of Five race is Cincinnati, the preseason American Athletic Conference favorites. The BearCats, with Gunner Kiel, should be a program ready to make a run for a New Years Six bowl game on a fairly regular basis given the resources available to them and the overall strength of the conference. If Boise State slips, Cincinnati is next in line. But what if Cincinnati loses this weekend?
Cincinnati hosts Temple this week, with the Owls fresh off their first victory over Penn State since 1941. If Temple manages to pick up a win at Cincinnati — something last accomplished in 1985 — then the Owls may become a trendy team to follow in this season-long discussion. The schedule certainly works in Temple’s favor at least. If Temple escapes Cincinnati with a win, the Owls then have a chance to bring a 3-0 record into the bye week with a road game at UMass. In conference play, Temple does not play Houston or Navy, two potential contenders in the AAC West Division. Temple also gets Memphis and UCF at home. If Temple’s defensive performance against Penn State was a preview of things to come, each of those games could be possible wins. Temple also hosts Notre Dame on October 31, which could make for a nice little spotlight opportunity for the selection committee.
If I had to rank the top five Group of Five teams after one week of play, here is how I think the selection committee might rank them based on performance to date;
- Boise State
- Temple Owls
- Cincinnati Bearcats
- Louisiana Tech
Next up in the latest installment of “You Know You’re Getting Old”: Jerry Rice.
Or, more to the point, the son of the former San Francisco 49er great and NFL Hall of Famer, with Brenden Rice announcing Tuesday evening on Twitter that he has verbally committed to play his college football at Colorado. The wide receiver chose Mel Tucker‘s program over three other finalists in Arizona State, Michigan and Oregon.
At one point in the recruiting process, it appeared Rice was ticketed for Oregon; Arizona State then became the front-runner over the summer. Official visits to Michigan and Colorado further clarified the process, with the trip to the latter, for CU’s come-from-behind win over Nebraska, seemingly sealing the deal.
“Coach Tucker’s enthusiasm really stood out,” Rice told 247Sports.com. “He is only loud when he needs to be and it was great to be able to see him in the locker room at that game against Nebraska. It was just different and it gave me goosebumps. I think I could run through a brick wall for that guy and it definitely makes me feel like that vision is something special.”
The 6-2, 204-pound Rice is a three-star 2020 prospect, rated as the No. 70 receiver in the country and the No. 12 player at any position in the state of Arizona.
Suffice to say, VanDarius Cowan‘s second season in Morgantown after leaving Tuscaloosa hasn’t gone as planned.
In late August, it was confirmed that Cowan would have to sit out the first four games of the 2019 season because of unspecified eligibility issues. After serving that suspension, Cowan made his WVU debut in the Oct. 5 loss to Texas; a week later, the linebacker suffered a knee injury in the loss to Iowa State.
Tuesday, first-year head coach Neal Brown announced that Cowan underwent surgery and will be sidelined for the remainder of the season. The specific nature of the injury wasn’t divulged.
Cowan was originally a four-star member of Alabama’s 2017 recruiting class. In July of last year, he was dismissed by the Crimson Tide after being charged with misdemeanor assault. A month later, he landed at West Virginia.
The Florida native sat out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.
In less than two full games this season, Cowan was credited with six tackles and a sack.
UPDATED 1:21 PM ET: Due to the weather-forced change in schedule for Game 4 of the American League Championship Series between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, Friday night’s Ohio State-Northwestern game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
The game had originally been scheduled to air on FS1.
Kickoff time for the Big Ten clash is still set for 8:30 p.m. ET.
This isn’t exactly optimal.
Due to the forecast of inclement weather, Major League Baseball announced that Game 4 of the American League Championship Series Wednesday night between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees has been moved to Thursday night. That means Game 5 of the ALCS, originally scheduled for Thursday night, has been pushed to Friday night and will be televised on FS1, with first pitch set for 7:08 p.m. ET.
So, why is news on the postseason of a stick-and-ball sport appearing on a college football website?
Ohio State is scheduled to travel to Evanston to square off with Northwestern Friday. On FS1. With kickoff set for 8:30 p.m. ET.
The ALCS is airing on FS1 because FOX is televising its newly-acquired WWE Friday Night Smackdown franchise, so a network broadcast won’t be possible for the Big Ten matchup. More than likely, the game will air on either the Big Ten Network or FOX business.
As of this posting, neither the conference nor FOX has offered up exactly where the game will air.
Regardless of how it ultimately plays out, this will be a huge black eye for a league that shouldn’t be hijacking high school football’s night in the first place, regardless of how few games there are on Fridays (for now).
The defense wasn’t the only side of the ball that ran into injury issues during Wake Forest’s first loss of the 2019 campaign.
An injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder knocked Jamie Newman out of the Week 7 loss to Louisville. An on-site X-ray, as well as other further testing, showed no significant structural damage to the joint.
As Wake looks to bounce back from that loss against Florida State Saturday, though, the sophomore’s status is officially to be determined.
“He’s kind of day-to-day,” head coach Dave Clawson said. “He got hurt at the end of the second quarter. We had X-Rays to try and eliminate the worst thing that could have happened to him and that was eliminated. He was able to return. He’s sore and we’ll just take it day-by-day and see how he feels later in the week. It’s been one practice and we’ll have a better feel later in the week.”
“And we won’t share that when we know it. I don’t have to,” Clawson added, presumably in a middle-school-boy-at-recess voice.
This season, Newman leads the ACC in passing yards (1,772), passing touchdowns (17) and passer rating (160.7). He’s ninth, tied for sixth and 17th nationally in those respective categories.
Should Newman be unable to go against the Seminoles, Sam Hartman would get the nod. In relief of Newman this past weekend, the sophomore threw two touchdown passes and ran for another as the Demon Deacons nearly pulled off a stunning comeback on the Cardinals.
Last season as a true freshman, Hartman started the first nine games before going down with an injury, opening the door for Newman to take over the job.