WHO: No. 12 UCF (12-0) vs. No. 7 Auburn (10-3)
WHAT: The 50th Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
WHEN: 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta
THE SKINNY: Before we go any further, let’s establish one thing — teams from so-called mid-major conferences are 7-3 against Power 5 leagues in BCS/New Year’s Six games. Any advantage you think Auburn gains simply from being in the SEC or UCF cedes from playing in the AAC needs to be wiped from your mind immediately. If Auburn wins, it will have to be because the Tigers are better on the field than the Knights, not from any osmosis-like strength gained simply from playing Georgia and Alabama.
That said, Auburn is very much capable of winning because Auburn is quite good. The Tigers’ defense, specifically the defensive front, is two steps beyond anything UCF has faced this season. This is a team that held Clemson to 2.67 yards a carry and Georgia to 1.44. Jarrett Stidham is an efficient signal-caller, hitting two-thirds of his throws for 8.6 yards per attempt with 17 touchdowns against four interceptions, and Kerryon Johnson is ready to handle the load after rushing just 13 times in the SEC Championship loss to Georgia.
Having said that, UCF’s offense is also better than anything Auburn has faced this season. In a world where Baker Mayfield does not exist, McKenzie Milton is within a whisker of Jameis Winston‘s 2013 season for posting the most-efficient season by a quarterback in the past six years. He connects on 69.2 percent of his throws for an insane 10.5 yards per attempt with 35 touchdowns versus nine picks. Milton’s last time out saw him complete 28 passes for 494 yards and five touchdowns, while also rushing 69 times for another touchdown, in a 62-55 AAC championship win over Memphis.
As with any bowl game, the question of motivation and focus is at play here. Scott Frost and his staff have delayed their impending moves to Nebraska to coach this game, which could end up working to UCF’s favor or its detriment. Auburn played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in its most recent game, and will also open the 2018 season there against Washington.
If UCF can contain Johnson, the Knights have a chance to win. If not, they won’t.
THE PICK: Auburn 31, UCF 27
Iowa defensive tackle Brady Reiff could face some upcoming internal discipline following an arrest over the weekend. Reiff was arrested for public intoxication early Saturday morning by Iowa City police.
According to Hawk Central, Reiff was released from jail at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, a little less than seven hours after his arrest. A statement from Iowa Athletics Director stated the university was aware of the incident and was gathering more information on the story.
At this time, there has been no discipline handed out to Reiff from within the Iowa football program or athletics department, but some form of punishment should probably be expected down the line. A loss of playing time in the season opener would appear to be the most likely result given the misdemeanor caliber of the crime involved.
Reiff recorded 13 tackles, one sack and one interception while appearing in 12 games for the Hawkeyes last season. Reiff is expected to compete for a starting job on Iowa’s defensive line this season.
South Florida is switching apparel providers this season, leaving behind Under Armour for a new deal with Adidas. And with a new apparel partner now officially on board, the time has come to see what Adidas has up their sleeves for the Bulls.
South Florida shared a video on its Twitter account with the first look at the new uniform design, which looks fairly common to what most Adidas uniforms look like. One of the most notable changes to the uniform is the removal of “USF” from the front chest of the uniform and replacing it with text that reads “South Florida.”
The pants read “Bulls” on the legs and the USF “U” logo makes appearances on the hips and wrist bands. The first look at the helmet looks pretty interesting as well, with a chrome green face mask. The details of the helmet can be a bit more difficult to make out, although it appears at one point to be a green USF logo outlined in white (and gold?) on a gray helmet.
Reaction to the new uniforms among USF fans seems to be a bit mixed, but we will have to wait and see how the feelings are when USF reveals the full home and away assortment of uniforms down the road. As with many uniforms these days, it should be expected USF will have some combinations to keep them looking fresh on a weekly basis.
If you thought it was just a short-term fads designed to inspire Miami’s defense, well, you were probably right. But that short-term fad could very well be appearing once again this season on a Miami Hurricanes sideline near you.
After fielding plenty of questions about the iconic Turnover Chain, representatives of Miami at the ACC Football Kickoff last week showed no reason to doubt the chain will not be back again this fall. The Turnover Chain was a pop culture sensation in the world of college football as defensive players recovering a fumble or picking off a pass for an interception would race to the sideline to have the sparkling turnover chain placed around the necks. People either loved it or loathed it. So get ready to love it or loathe it again this fall.
Miami head coach Mark Richt didn’t shut down the idea while addressing the media at the ACC media day event, and he jokingly called it the greatest thing since sliced bread. Even wide receiver Ahmonn Richards was asked about the turnover chain and the possibility of having an equivalent prize for offensive players.
“I think so. I think it’s time,” Richards said, according to The Sun Sentinel. “But those guys work hard, and they’re really enjoying it, and it helps them out, also, wanting to make plays and stuff. So I think we should have something, but it’s not up to me.”
Miami tied for third in the nation with the most takeaways with 31 (Wyoming led the nation with 38; UCF was second with 32 and Miami tied with Memphis and Central Michigan). In 2016, the Hurricanes had just 19 takeaways for the entire season.
We’re weeks away from the 2018 season beginning and with media days underway across the country, there’s inevitably some talk of which coaches are on the hot seat and who might be a few losses away from feeling the heat.
CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd complies a list every year of who might be feeling some pressure and who is safer than can be around the sport. One of the coaches who he listed as ‘start improving now’ (or a 4 on a 1-5 hot seat scale) was Rutgers head coach Chris Ash. The Scarlet Knights job is one of the hardest in football given their place in the Big Ten and while there has been some progress in the rebuild, Ash is 6-18 overall and only picked up his first conference win last season.
It’s only Year 3 of Ash’s tenure though and it seems that kind of pressure isn’t quite reflecting reality from the administration as athletic director Pat Hobbs took to his Twitter account on Saturday to say that there’s no hot seat at all for the young head coach:
We’re sure that Ash appreciates the extra bit of support publicly in what he’s doing with the program but something says he’ll be asked to comment about the whole thing next week at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago. The Scarlet Knights certainly looked much improved in 2017 between the lines but digging out of such a big hole for the program is going to only get tougher as they try to get over the hump and make a bowl game in 2018.