Houston can make New Years reservations as AAC Champs

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A year after helping Ohio State win a national championship, Houston head coach Tom Herman will once again be coaching in one of the College Football Playoff’s New Years Six bowls. The first-year head coach coached No. 19 Houston (12-1, 7-1 AAC) to its first American Athletic Conference championship on Saturday with a home 24-13 victory in the conference championship game against No. 22 Temple (10-3, 7-1 AAC), essentially clinching the spot in the New Years Six reserved for the highest-ranked conference champion from the Group of Five.

Houston took advantage of an early Temple turnover on the game’s opening possession to pick up an early touchdown, and the up-tempo offensive style of the Cougars combined with the athletic skill at key positions proved to take a toll against Temple. Houston had speed combined with an efficient quarterback and steady hands from receivers all working in its favor. That had been the story of the season for Houston, who might have been undefeated if not for seeing starting quarterback Greg Ward Jr. miss playing time in a road game at UConn a couple of weeks ago.

Ward led all players with 148 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the win. Houston was actually out-gained by Temple (385-345), which made Temple’s two turnovers in the first quarter even more important. Houston converted Temple’s game-opening fumble into a quick touchdown, and Temple’s late rally in the fourth quarter was doomed by a fumbled snap on a fourth down play.

Now it just remains to be seen which bowl game Houston will be attending. The Peach Bowl in Atlanta appears to be a possible destination, but a possible matchup against Ohio State in another bowl game would make for a fascinating storyline. That, of course, assumes Ohio State is not picked to play in the Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes could be a possible pick of the game ahead of the Big Ten championship game loser.

Temple will get a chance to end their season with a win. After being bowl-eligible last season but not selected, the 10-win Owls will miss out on a big bowl game but still represent the AAC in one of the conference’s top bowl destinations. That likely results in a trip to Florida with the St. Petersburg Bowl and Miami Beach Bowl possible destinations. The Boca Raton Bowl could also be in play.

Miami’s Evidence Njoku tweets decision to enter transfer portal

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Following a standout career at Miami, David Njoku was a first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft.  Njoku’s younger brother had hoped to follow in his footsteps at The U, but, as it turns out, that won’t be the case.

On his personal Twitter account Monday afternoon, Evidence Njoku announced that, “after Deep Thought And Discussion I Have Decided To Enter The Transfer Portal To Furthermore Continue My Athletic And Academic Career.” The tight end gave no specific reason for his decision.

“He’s a good young man,” Miami head coach Manny Diaz said. “We wish him well wherever he ends up.”

Njoku was a three-star member of the Hurricanes’ 2017 recruiting class who came to The U as a wide receiver before converting to tight end.  After playing in eight games as a redshirt freshman last season, he had played in just one game thus far in 2019.

The 6-6, 226-pound New Jersey native finishes the Hurricanes portion of his collegiate p[laying career with just one catch for 11 yards, with that coming in the last year’s regular-season finale against Pitt.

Florida announces future home-and-home with Arizona State

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With the 2019 regular season rapidly drawing to a close, Florida has dropped some future scheduling news on the masses.

Early Tuesday afternoon, Florida confirmed that it has agreed to a future home-and-home series with Arizona State.  The Gators will travel to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe in 2028, with the Sun Devils making the trek to The Swamp in Gainesville in 2031.

The 2028 game will be played on Sept. 16, while the backend of the series will be played either Sept. 6 or 13 of 2031.

That first matchup in 2028 will mark the first-ever meeting between the football programs.

Arizona State last played at the home of an SEC school in 2009, a 20-17 loss to Georgia in Athens.  Florida’s last trip to a Pac-12 school was a 1983 tie with USC.  The Gators last played host to a school from that conference the year before, with the Trojans serving as the opponent once again.

Wake Forest loses ACC’s leader in receiving yards, touchdowns to season-ending injury

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Wake Forest lost much more than a football game this past Saturday.

In the fourth quarter of the Week 11 loss to Virginia Tech that, along with Clemson’s win later that night, cost Wake any shot at the ACC Atlantic championship, Sage Surratt went down with some type of upper-body injury and didn’t return.  Tuesday, during his weekly press conference, head coach Dave Clawson confirmed that the redshirt sophomore wide receiver will miss the remainder of the 2019 season because of the injury, which he again declined to specify.

Clawson added that Surratt will undergo surgery to repair the unspecified damage.

Surratt’s 1,001 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns are the most of any player in the ACC, and are good for fifth and tied for fifth, respectively, at the FBS level.  His 66 receptions are second only to Pitt’s Maurice Ffrench‘s 75 in the conference.

In addition to this Saturday’s game against No. 5 Clemson, Surratt will miss regular-season games against Duke and Syracuse as well as whichever bowl at which Wake lands.

Chase Young to continue practicing with team as Ohio State awaits resolution on NCAA issue

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When it comes to the Chase Young situation at Ohio State, the football program is still in wait-and-see mode.

Top-ranked Ohio State confirmed last Friday morning that star defensive end Chase Young would not be playing in this Saturday’s game against Maryland.  Per the school, Young will be sidelined for the foreseeable future “due to a possible NCAA issue from 2018 that the Department of Athletics is looking into.”  On his personal Twitter account, Young acknowledged he had “made a mistake last year by accepting a loan from a family friend” that he “repaid… in full last summer.” It was subsequently reported that the loan was used to pay for airfare for Young’s family — or, more specifically, his girlfriend — so they could see him play in January’s Rose Bowl against Washington.

On ESPN‘s College GameDay a day later, Kirk Herbstreit, a former Buckeyes quarterback, stated that, because of the amount of money involved, Young will be slotted for a four-game suspension.  The university will appeal that initial number and it’s expected that the suspension will be knocked down to “two games, maybe three games,” Herbstreit stated, adding, “it won’t stay at four.”

In the three days since, there’s been no update on Young’s status as OSU prepares for this weekend’s in-season conference scrimmage against Rutgers.  During his press conference Tuesday, Ryan Day indicated that there is no new information on Young’s availability moving forward.  Per the head coach, the lineman will continue to practice with his Buckeyes teammates as if he will play against the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway Saturday, even as there is no guarantee he will.

Aside from individual statistics, Young’s availability for Rutgers is inconsequential.  With back-to-back games against No. 4 (for now) Penn State and No. 14 Michigan after RU, though, Young being on the field will be of the utmost importance for playing-minded Ohio State.

As part of Herbstreit’s Saturday report, the college football analyst stated that “OSU expects to hear an answer from the NCAA on the appeal next week.” It should be noted that OSU has pushed back against the accuracy of Herbstreit’s report, specifically that the four-game suspension angle.

Despite missing this past weekend’s game, a blowout win over the Terps, Young still leads the nation in sacks (13½) and sacks per game (1.69).  The junior, widely expected be one of the first players selected in the 2020 NFL Draft if he does the expected and foregoes his remaining eligibility, is also third nationally in tackles per loss per game (1.9).