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Old Dominion caps first 10-win FBS season with Bahamas Bowl victory over EMU

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Old Dominion (10-3) checked off a few items on the season-long to-do list for the still young FBS program. On Saturday, with a 24-20 victory over Eastern Michigan (7-6) in the Bahamas Bowl, Old Dominion capped the first 10-win season in program history since moving up the FBS and Conference USA with its first bowl victory in its first bowl game in program history. Old Dominion quarterback David Washington passed for three touchdowns and Ray Lawry rushed for 133 yards on the ground in the win for the Monarchs.

Eastern Michigan had their chances on offense against Old Dominion, but racking up 470 yards and owning the lead in time of possession was put to waste against Old Dominion. Settling for a field goal in the fourth quarter from the two-yard line and punting the ball on a fourth and eight from the Old Dominion 48-yard line with under six minutes to play gave the Monarchs a chance to put the game on ice. Eagles quarterback Brogan Roback passed for 300 yards and a couple of touchdowns to lead the Eastern Michigan offense, bringing a disappointing close to an otherwise remarkable season for the Eastern Michigan program.

Old Dominion never trailed in the game. After taking a 10-0 lead into halftime, Old Dominion had to fend off Eastern Michigan in the second half. The Eagles tied the game at 17-17 late in the third quarter but could only score a field goal while Old Dominion tacked on a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The game-winning score came on a five-yard touchdown pass from Washington to Jonathan Duhart.

At the moment, the MAC is still looking for its first bowl victory of the season after dropping to 0-3. Conference USA improved its record to 3-2 this bowl season with the Old Dominion win. Conference USA now owns bowl victories against the American Athletic Conference (Western Kentucky over Memphis in the Boca Raton Bowl), MAC and Sun Belt Conference (Southern Mississippi over Louisiana-Lafayette in the New Orleans Bowl). The lone loss of the bowl season so far came against the Mountain West Conference, with UTSA coming up three points shy against New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl. Conference USA can even its record against the Mountain West in the Hawaii Bowl when Middle Tennessee takes on Hawaii.

Old Dominion’s 2017 season kicks off on September 2 at home against Albany. The Monarchs will also host North Carolina and play at Virginia Tech in back-to-back weeks in September before diving into Conference USA play.

Eastern Michigan will get the 2017 season underway on September 2 at home against Charlotte. The Eagles also play three non-conference game son the road against Rutgers, Kentucky and Army next season.

Baylor-Texas Tech shifting from AT&T Stadium back to campus after moving off Thanksgiving date in 2019

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After nearly a decade of spending Thanksgiving in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, Texas Tech and Baylor are returning to campus for their annual conference game and doing so much earlier than normal too.

As part of the Big 12’s release of the 2019 schedule on Thursday, the conference confirmed that the annual game will not be played on Thanksgiving weekend at AT&T Stadium — as it has since 2009 — and has instead been shifted to October 12 next season at the Bears home field of McLane Stadium in Waco. The return game will go back to Lubbock in 2020 at a future, unreleased date.

While some fans will delight in making the trip to the banks of the Brazos or heading out to West Texas for the first time in a while, it seems both schools would have preferred to remain at JerryWorld the week of Thanksgiving but scheduling at the stadium seemed to play an issue in the site not being available when the two teams needed it to be.

AT&T Stadium is quite busy that time of year between the Dallas Cowboys’ annual Thanksgiving game, Texas high school football playoffs at the venue and the Big 12 title game taking place in early December as well. It doesn’t sound like a return is being ruled out in the future but it will be 2021 at the earliest before that happens for the Bears and Red Raiders.

Bronco Mendenhall puts up $500,000 toward new Virginia football facility

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Ask any football coach what one of their top requests of their administration is and, outside of perhaps an increase in the staff salary pool, just about every one of them will reply with better facilities.

It seems Bronco Mendenhall is helping out his own cause on that front as the school announced that he and his wife Holly have pledged $500,000 that will go building the Cavaliers’ new football operations building.

“Holly and I are excited to be a part of the process that transforms Virginia football,” Mendenhall said in a statement. “We love developing young people through football and the new Football Operations Center will provide our young men a home where they can develop into exceptional football players, students and leaders.”

“I am very thankful that Bronco and Holly have further demonstrated their commitment to the University of Virginia with this gift,” added Virginia AD Carla Williams.” Bronco’s vision for the impact this facility will have on the football program is inspiring and I hope his and Holly’s gift will motivate others to invest in the future of Virginia student-athletes.”

The gift, the largest ever by a UVA head coach back to the school, is the first public pledge toward the Hoos’ $180 million master plan campaign that will see a complete revitalization of the campus’ athletic facilities. This includes a new football building located next to the team’s indoor practice facility/outdoor fields and will also include a full renovation to the existing McCue Center that the program currently calls home. Construction of the vast majority of the plan is expected to start in 2020.

The half-million dollar gift to the school won’t put a huge damper on Mendenhall’s wallet despite being a very nice gesture for the program. According to the USA Today salary database, the head coach will take home nearly $3.55 million in 2018 and seems firmly tied to the Cavs for the foreseeable future given his whopping $18 million buyout.

Auburn WR Anthony Schwartz challenges Tyreek Hill to race, Kansas City Chiefs star seems up for it

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There’s long been a debate in scouting circles about how much track speed can translate into football speed but, if we’re lucky, we might be able to add another data point to the discussion.

On Tuesday, Auburn wide receiver Anthony Schwartz tweeted at Kansas City Chiefs star Tyreek Hill and wondered when the two could race. While both are in the middle of the respective seasons on the gridiron, it seems the two speedsters are at least open to squaring off in the near future to figure out just who might be the fastest man in all of football based on Hill’s response on Thursday.

Now, this isn’t just some crazy college kid challenging one of the NFL’s fastest receivers to a race, there’s enough intrigue here for fans at both levels of football to get excited.

Schwartz, a freshman wideout who has 12 catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns with Auburn this year, was named 2018 Gatorade national boys’ track and field athlete of the year coming out of high school and took home a silver in the 100m at the IAAF U20 world championships in July. Hill has been running away from defenders for years now at just about every level of football but was quite the track star of his own back in high school and, briefly, at Oklahoma State.

No details were given on the surface or timing of any potential race but it’s safe to say it could be a close one if the two do indeed lace ’em up. Hill’s best 100m time was 10.19 back in 2014 while Schwartz posted a personal best of 10.09 in June and got his silver medal in Finland at the IAAF world championships with a 10.22.

Michigan State finds ‘Blue M’ painted near Sparty statue ahead of rivalry game, police open investigation

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It’s Michigan-Michigan State week in college football which means hijinks are bound to happen around the region between supporters of Big Blue and the Spartans.

Case in point came on Thursday as police opened an investigation into an incident near MSU’s Sparty statue on campus after a bit of vandalism occurred yesterday morning that had many blaming their cross-state rivals. Per the Lansing State Journal: 

Michigan State University Police were called Tuesday just before 4 a.m. to the area of the Sparty statue for a report of vandalism, Capt. Doug Monette said. They found a blue “M” spray painted on the sidewalk near the statue, likely in support of the University of Michigan. Monette said the investigation is open and ongoing.

Yeah, going to go out on a limb there and confirm the ‘blue M’ was the handiwork of somebody who roots for the Wolverines on Saturday.

The story didn’t specify where the spray-painted logo was in relation to the Sparty statue but it couldn’t have been too close because it appears that students typically sit around the statue during rivalry week to protect it from vandalism just like this. Head coach Mark Dantonio was caught delivering pizzas to those watching over the statue by Big Ten Network just hours before the reported spray painting took place as luck would have it.

Next year it appears as though Michigan State will have to expand their perimeter of student onlookers so as to discourage such hijinks in the future after this latest incident in East Lansing.