The Conference USA Championship has existed since 2005 and, thus far, only one program acquired since the league’s mass Sun Belt addition in 2013-14 has reached the game: Western Kentucky in each of the past two seasons.
That’s about to change.
North Texas, a 2013 addition, all but wrapped up the C-USA West title with a 24-23 win at Louisiana Tech. The Mean Green trailed 17-10 at the half and 23-17 in the fourth quarter before going on top for good on a 14-yard Jeffrey Wilson scamper with 6:04 remaining and surviving a missed 53-yard field goal by the Bulldogs with 2:39 to play.
That victory pushed the Mean Green to 5-1 in C-USA play, one game ahead in the loss column of 4-2 UAB and 3-2 Southern miss. North Texas closes conference play with UTEP at home on Saturday and a visit to Rice on Nov. 25 — a pair of teams that are 0-8 in C-USA when not facing each other. And here’s the kicker: thanks to head-to-head victories over UAB and Southern Miss, North Texas needs only one win against UTEP or Rice to clinch its first West Division championship.
In the East Division, a pair of programs with new coaching hires appear on a collision course. Fellow 2013 addition Florida Atlantic, under new head coach Lane Kiffin, claimed significant control over the division with a 30-25 win over Marshall on Friday night.
The Owls are being chased by their South Florida rivals in another 2013 Sun Belt acquisition Florida International, led by a new hire in Butch Davis. The Golden Panthers moved to 4-1 in conference with a 14-7 victory over UTSA on Saturday.
FIU visits FAU on Nov. 18, with the winner seizing the fast track to its own C-USA Championship debut against (most likely) North Texas.
Chip Kelly revolutionized college football back when he was at Oregon, becoming so successful that not one but three NFL teams tried or succeeded in hiring him.
Kelly’s return to the sidelines in the college game however… could be going better. UCLA was blown out of the water on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl by No. 5 Oklahoma and the Bruins offense is actually among the worst in all of FBS.
They’re dead last in yards per play, second to last in total offense and No. 127 in scoring offense. Oh and sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson is No. 99 nationally in passer rating.
Despite those numbers, it appears Kelly isn’t contemplating a new face behind center as the team moves into Pac-12 play.
“We didn’t,” Kelly said when asked by the LA Times whether he thought of making a change at quarterback on Saturday. “…we felt confident in Dorian.”
To be fair, Thompson-Robinson did seem a little improved against the Sooners than he did in his first two starts of 2019 against Cincinnati and San Diego State. But those numbers speak for themselves with road trips to Washington State and Arizona coming up for the 0-3 side from Westwood.
TCU may have moved into the top 25 of the AP Poll this week after dispatching Purdue on Saturday but upcoming opponent SMU is off to an equally hot start coming into Week 4 after topping Texas State.
In fact, it’s a historic one down in Dallas.
As the school noted recently, the 3-0 start to the 2019 campaign is the Mustangs’ best since… 1984. That’s just after the Pony Express days on the Hilltop and right before the program got hammered by the NCAA for major violations.
Sonny Dykes’ tenure got off to a rough start after going 5-7 last season but the team looks much improved thanks in part to the play of Texas transfer QB Shane Buechele.
We’ll see if the two can keep things rolling against the rival Horned Frogs but the AAC might just have another intriguing team in the mix after such a hot start by SMU.
College football coaches love controlling every element that they can in the lead up to a game in order to minimize distractions. As a result, it’s become common place for nearly every football team in the country to spend the night at a hotel before home games.
Now most folks might think it’s strange to have teams shack up in rooms when they can spend the hours before a game at home but that’s not what schools do. And those hotel bills add up to quite a pretty penny in most cases as an investigation into the practice by Gatehouse Media shows.
In 2018 alone, public schools spend a median of $44,000 on hotels and nearly $5 million total across some 109 programs according to the report. That included low spenders like Coastal Carolina (just $2,800 per game) to those rolling in cash like Texas A&M ($278,000 total, or nearly $40k per home game).
Remarkably the Aggies spent so much because the hotel they stay at requires a two-night minimum and they leave the rooms unoccupied for one of those nights.
“We believe we would be breaking sleep routine if we did not stay in a hotel before a football game,” said OSU Associate Athletics Director Jerry Emig told the site after the Buckeyes spent nearly six figures on hotels for home games. “Ohio State has stayed in a hotel the night before every road game and every home game for more than 50 years.”
There’s some interesting sortable data in the full report, which includes noting that the SEC spends the most rooms on average and the Big Ten the least.
So next time you see the buses pull up to your favorite team’s stadium on a Saturday in college football, just remember it cost a decent chunk of change for the school to house those kids in a hotel prior to the game.
Uncertainty over Florida’s future without starting quarterback Feliepe Franks is already causing voters to drop the Gators in national polls following the team’s escape at Kentucky over the weekend.
Dan Mullen’s squad dropped two spots to 11th despite winning to move to 3-0 on the season, a good indication that a forthcoming slide might happen in the AP and Coaches Polls as well. They weren’t the only ones to drop however, as Michigan slid from No. 10 to No. 12, Texas A&M dropped out altogether and Oregon moved down a spot to No. 16.
The SEC once again occupies slots 2-4 in the poll and have five of the top 16 teams overall. There was a slight change however as some voters apparently forgot about LSU’s win over new No. 9 Texas and flipped the Tigers with Georgia in the 3/4 spots. That makes the upcoming battle in Athens between the Bulldogs and No. 7 Notre Dame a top seven affair with huge College Football Playoff implications.
It should be noted that three writers (Kevin McGuire, Zach Barnett and Bryan Fischer) here at CFTalk have weekly votes in the Super 16 poll. Without further ado, here’s the full rankings heading into Week 4:
- Clemson (34 first place votes)
- Alabama (8)
- Georgia (1)
- LSU (3)
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
- Penn State
Also notable were the debut of UCF in the poll, the highest ranked Group of Five team as a result of their thumping of Stanford down in Orlando.