Texas holds on for momentum-building upset of QB-depleted No. 12 Baylor

19 Comments

Odds are we may not see too many seasons in which Texas beats two top 15 teams away from home in the same season and does not go to a bowl game. Folks, you may have just witnessed history.

Texas (5-7, 4-5) ended a losing season without a bowl game with a rather important victory in Waco by upsetting No. 12 Baylor (9-3, 6-3 Big 12) with a 23-17 victory that nearly got away from them in the second half. Texas built a 20-0 lead at halftime but Baylor managed to make a run at the Longhorns despite having their third-string quarterback knocked out of the game and having to run the offense with a wide receiver.

Baylor lost third-string quarterback Chris Johnson during the game, with Johnson having to leave the game due to concussion symptoms. That left Baylor without a passing option, which is a rare occurrence for Art Briles. Junior wide receiver Lynx Hawthorne took over in the emergency situation, and Baylor nearly escaped with the win. Hawthorne completed 10 of 22 pass attempts for 64 yards and was picked off twice.

Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes completed 12 of 19 pass attempts for 151 yards and a touchdown and he added 52 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground to help Texas score the upset. Star Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman, who was recognized on the field before the game along with Baylor’s seniors, caught seven passes for 49 yards.

Texas now enters the pool of 5-7 teams that will hope to get an invite to the postseason fun. That invitation is not likely at all to reach Austin though with a number of teams already sitting in front in the waiting line based on APR scores. So the focus for Charlie Strong will now shift to 2016, and it should be a critical one for Strong. He will do so with a bit of a signature win, or at least one to build momentum moving forward.

Over the more recent years Texas has seen everyone catch up or pass them among power conference threats, including Baylor. To be able to end a season with a win against Baylor, even if it was largely because Baylor was playing with a wide receiver under center, should be used as fuel for the offseason for Strong and the Longhorns. Texas is the program that must catch the competition right now, but at least they can sell the idea they can compete on the same field and start to try winning back momentum in the state. Maybe this was a fluke, but Texas should not treat it as such.

With the loss, Baylor’s chances of playing int he New Years Six lineup have been shredded. With Baylor out, and Oklahoma very likely to be selected to play in the College Football Playoff, the Big 12 will be expected to be represented in the Sugar Bowl by Oklahoma State. Baylor’s bowl destination will fall outside the New Years Six with the Alamo Bowl and Russell Athletic Bowl possibilities.

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

Getty Images
2 Comments

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

Getty Images
3 Comments

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

Getty Images
1 Comment

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’

Getty Images
6 Comments

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.