Associated Press

Sam Ehlinger leads Texas past Kansas State in double OT

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Sam Ehlinger made his third start at quarterback for Texas on Saturday night. He earned the right to make a whole lot more.

The true freshman from Austin led Texas from two 10-point deficits and a fourth quarter hole to overcome Kansas State, 40-34 in double overtime. He carried Texas on his back for almost the entire game, plus two extra frames, hitting 30-of-50 throws for 380 yards with two touchdowns and one interception while leading the ‘Horns with 107 yards on 20 carries.

But before Ehlinger could have his triumph, he had to have his struggle. His first throw of the game was intercepted, and an incomplete pass on fourth-and-goal set up a 10-0 Kansas State lead in the second quarter.

Kansas State took advantage of Ehlinger’s fourth down misfire with an 82-yard play-action strike from Jesse Ertz to Dalton Schoen (a game-high five grabs for 128 yards and two touchdowns), completing a 14-point swing from 7-3 Texas to 10-0 Kansas State.

Texas also faced a 10-point deficit at 17-7 but roared back to close the second half with two straight touchdown drives, the last of which closed on a 1-yard Porter run with 16 seconds left before the half to give the Longhorns a 21-17 lead at the break.

The Longhorns opened the half with a stop and seemed in position to notch a third straight touchdown drive until Chris Warren, who caught a 33-yard touchdown in the first half, dropped a shovel pass on 3rd-and-3, forcing Texas to settle for a 34-yard Joshua Rowland field goal.

Kansas State marched the field on its next possession, keyed by an injury to Ertz. Ertz left the game with a dinged elbow and was replaced by spark plug backup Alex Delton, who rushed for the final 19 yards of the drive to tie it at 24-24 with 3:37 to play in the third quarter, then carried the share of the load on a 74-yard march to set up Matthew McCrane‘s second field goal of the game at the 12:19 mark of the fourth quarter

Texas put together yet another lengthy drive, killing half the available time, but Texas stalled in the red zone and Rowland’s game-tying 27-yard chip shot sailed wide right. Kansas State put its offense on the field, up 27-24 with 5:43 to play, but, rather than putting the game away, the Wildcats punted the ball away after a three-and-out.

Ehlinger passed or rushed on every one of Texas’s 11 plays for 52 yards, moving from the Texas 31 to the K-State 17 and setting up Rowland’s redemption chance from 34 yards out, which he made to tie the game at 27-27 with 1:37 to play.

Ertz (12-of-18 for 224 yards) replaced Delton for Kansas State’s final drive of regulation, but the Wildcats’ push to win the game in regulation ended in a deep interception to Texas safety DeShon Elliott, his fifth pick in his last three games.

Ehlinger, again, accounted for all 39 Texas yards to move Rowland in position for a 45-yard game winner with six seconds left and he, again, missed it.

Texas accepted the ball to open overtime and scored on its first snap, a 25-yard strike from Ehlinger to Jerrod Heard. Kansas State needed only four plays to answer. Alex Barnes rushed for 20 yards to give the Wildcats a first-and-goal, and Delton pushed the game to double overtime with his second rushing score. Despite not playing at all until the fourth quarter, Delton led the Wildcats with 79 yards on 12 carries while hitting 2-of-5 passes for 30 yards.

Kansas State (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) briefly secured a first-and-goal at the top of the second overtime, but two holding calls and an incomplete passed forced a 53-yard field goal try for McCrane, who missed it off the left upright.

With its third chance to win the game, Texas (3-2, 2-0 Big 12) secured the win when Warren carried a mass of humanity into the end zone on third-and-goal from the two.

Though Ehlinger looked every bit like the Next Big Thing in Austin, Texas has had a lot of Next Big Things since Colt McCoyGarrett GilbertDavid AshTyrone SwoopesJerrod Heard and, yes, Shane Buechele each had their moments, but that’s all they turned out to be — moments. Ehlinger will have to prove his moment can turn into a movement, first in practice and then starting again with next week’s opponent: Oklahoma.

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

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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

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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

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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’

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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.