Western Kentucky (10-3) became the second program in Conference USA history to win back-to-back conference championship games on Saturday with a wild offensive shootout against Louisiana Tech (8-5), 58-44. Hilltoppers quarterback Mike White passed for 403 yards and four touchdowns and Anthony Wales led things on the ground with 194 rushing yards and three scores to push the home team past the Bulldogs.
Offenses for both teams were locked in from the start, with over 1,100 combined yards of offense. Louisiana Tech quarterback Ryan Higgins passed for 507 yards and three touchdowns, but Western Kentucky used a more balanced approach and had an advantage on the ground to help overcome three turnover sin the game. Wales carried the football 35 times for Western Kentucky and was a workhorse for them from start to finish, with the final touchdown of the game ultimately delivering the knockout punch to Louisiana Tech, who would throw an interception on their final possession.
With 102 combined points, Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech set a new combined points record for an FBS conference championship game. The previous record was 101 points, which was done twice. Wisconsin and Nebraska scored 101 point sin the 2012 Big Ten championship game (won by Wisconsin, 70-31) and Auburn and Missouri matched that point total the following season in the SEC Championship Game (won by Auburn, 59-42).
Coming into the game, Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz made it a point to say his team could not give up big plays if they were to get a win. Needless to say, that did not work out in his favor in this one.
The last time a school won back-to-back Conference USA championships was in 2008 and 2009 when East Carolina won consecutive titles. Perhaps in a bit of irony, Holtz was the coach of those ECU teams.
The future of the Western Kentucky program will be something to keep a close eye on. Head coach Jeff Brohm has been linked to various coaching rumors, most noticeably with the Purdue vacancy in the Big Ten. He has certainly proven worthy of being a hot name in the coaching carousel after coaching Western Kentucky to back-too-back 10-win seasons for the first time in program history.
For now, bowl destinations will have to be settled.
Almost Heaven, y’all!
West Virginia had been set to play host to Fan Day Sunday afternoon. However, because of five cases of hand, foot and mouth disease being diagnosed within the program recently, Fan Day has been canceled.
From the football program’s press release:
Hand, foot and mouth is a mild but highly contagious viral infection that is very common among children but can spread to adults. The virus usually goes away on its own in a period of less than a week, and there is no specific treatment, just steps to ease the symptoms.
Because it is highly contagious, it is in the best interest of the general public to postpone the event. WVU’s medical staff continues to monitor the situation, taking proper steps to control the virus and communicating with the proper campus personnel.
“I know fans who were planning on attending Fan Day will be disappointed, but this is in the best interest of all involved,” WVU athletic director Shane Lyons said in a statement. “Our medical staff is doing an excellent job of addressing the matter. However, there is no reason to put the general public at risk.”
According to the program, a new date for Fan Day will be announced when it becomes available.
Wisconsin’s passing game has taken hit, although it remains to be seen how long its effects will linger.
On his personal Twitter account Saturday night, Quintez Cephus announced that he has been “forced to take a leave of absence from the team in order to focus all of my attention on clearing my name.” In his social media statement, the wide receiver stated he was informed by his lawyers Friday afternoon that the Dane County (WI) District Attorney’s office will pursue unspecified charges against him for an incident that occurred back in April of this year.
“I have been wrongfully accused of unlawful conduct and I am innocent of any allegations associated with this consensual relationship,” Cephus wrote, adding that the pending charges are the result of a three-month investigation.
No details of what led to this situation have been divulged.
While UW has yet to publicly address the development, they are expected to release a statement on the situation in the not-too-distant future.
Last season, Cephus led the run-centric Badgers in receiving touchdowns with six and yards per catch at 16.7. His 501 receiving yards were good for second, while his 30 receptions were third on the team.
In April of last year, Cephus’ father was murdered after being shot in the head execution-style.
One of the crown jewels of Georgia’s top-ranked 2018 recruiting class will have to bounce back from a significant injury yet again.
Kirby Smart confirmed Saturday that Zamir White suffered an injury to his left knee during the second scrimmage of summer camp earlier in the day. The non-contact injury occurred when the true freshman was taking part in punt coverage.
While the head coach didn’t initially know the extent of the injury, a subsequent MRI revealed that White sustained a torn ACL in the left knee. The school has not yet confirmed the Athens Banner-Herald‘s initial report.
White suffered a torn ACL last November during his North Carolina high school team’s playoff run, but had been given the all-clear medically to fully participate in practice. That ACL injury, incidentally, was in his right knee.
A consensus five-star signee, White was the No. 1 running back on 247Sports.com‘s composite board and was the No. 9 player overall. Only one member of the Bulldogs’ class this year, quarterback Justin Fields, was rated higher than White.
White had been expected to help replace the production lost with the departures of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to the NFL.
It’s still mid-August, but Nick Saban‘s already in rare form when it comes to dealing with the media.
Saturday. it was confirmed that backup linebacker Chris Allen will be lost for the entire 2018 season because of a serious knee injury. Additionally, offensive tackle Matt Womack, who underwent surgery Friday after reinjuring his foot, will miss 4-6 weeks.
Following today’s scrimmage, Saban became agitated when he was asked by a member of the media about his level of concern with the mini-spate of reserve players going down with injuries. From al.com:
I’ve been concerned all along,” Saban said. “So, I don’t even know why you’d ask the question.”
And then things really got rolling.
“Because you all don’t, you just think we just, whatever happens, we just s**t another player and everything is going to be perfect. All of our fans think that. You all think that. That’s what you write about. That’s the message you send out there.
For the record, Saban has shat quite well on the recruiting trail over the last decade:
2018: Fifth in 247Sports.com‘s composite rankings
In that span, Saban has signed 41 five-star recruits and another 146 who were four-stars.
And the Class of 2019? Saban is getting s**t done yet again as the Crimson Tide is currently ranked No. 2 behind Georgia.