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Did any Group of Five conference make a statement in Week 1?

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OK, so the bragging rights between the power conferences after one full weekend of college football may draw more interest and debate, but what about the Group of Five? Non-conference matchups in the first few weeks of the season may actually have more riding on the outcomes for Group of Five conferences than they do the power conferences. With just one spot guaranteed to the highest-ranked champion of the Group of Five conferences — the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West Conference, and the Sun Belt Conference — the race to win a seat at the New Years Six bowl lineup is already underway for the non-power conferences.

So, which conference is off to the best start as a whole? It just might be the conference that claims to be the nation’s sixth power conference.

The AAC went 5-4 this weekend to be the only G5 conference to go over .500 through Saturday’s games (East Carolina is playing today against North Carolina A&T). That 5-4 mark includes breaking even against power conference competition. The AAC was the only non-power conference to grab a win against a power conference opponent thanks to Cincinnati spoiling the debut of Chip Kelly at UCLA Saturday night. The conference had a rough opening weekend though with Navy, SMU, and Tulane all taking losses and Temple being upset at home by FCS Villanova. At least UCF and Memphis performed as expected, there were some demoralizing losses for the conference. We’ll see how that plays out down the line.

Conference USA went 6-8, but all six of the wins came against FCS opponents. Conference USA was 0-5 against power conferences, lacking a signature win for the conference as a result. Two of the conference’s losses came on the road against Wisconsin (Western Kentucky) and Oklahoma (FAU), which is understandable, but Old Dominion getting blown out on the road against Liberty in Liberty’s first FBS game in program history was not a great look. UTEP losing by 20 at home against FCS Northern Arizona also does not sit well for the conference. Conference USA is one of two Group of Five conferences yet to place a team in the New Years Six bowl lineup under the current format.

The other is the Sun Belt Conference, which nearly landed the win of the weekend for non-power conferences. Appalachian State gave it a serious run but could not escape Penn State with a road win against a top 10 team that could have shaken up the entire Group of Five race right out of the blocks.  Instead, the Sun Belt went 5-5 overall, with all five wins coming against FCS opponents and a mark of 0-3 against power conferences. A few of those wins against FCS squads were nailbiters as well (Georgia State, UL Monroe), and Troy ended up getting blown out at home by Boise State of the Mountain West Conference.

Like UCF (and Memphis or Houston), Boise State is perceived as the flag-waving program for the Mountain West in 2018. The Broncos got their season off to a great start with their road win against the Trojans, but the conference overall had a bit of an underwhelming result this weekend. The Mountain West was 6-6 in games, but just 2-5 against FBS opponents and 0-5 against power conferences. While Boise State and Hawaii looked solid, the conference as a whole will look to improve their results if the conference is going to have a solid chance to send its champion back to the New Years Six ahead of the AAC.

And then there is the MAC, two years removed from sending its champ to the Cotton Bowl. It was a rough weekend for the MAC, with a record of 0-6 against FBS opponents and loading up on five wins against FCS foes.

One Nebraska DB cited for weed, another for driving under suspension following traffic stop

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One of these days, every single state in the Union — along with the federal government — will fall in line and come to their senses when it comes to weed.  Until then, we’ll continue bringing you stories like this one.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, two Nebraska football players, safety Marquel Dismuke (pictured) and walk-on defensive back Jeramiah Stovall, were cited by Lincoln Police Department officers Friday night. Stovall was cited for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana while Dismuke received a citation for driving on a suspended license.

The twin citations came after Dismuke’s vehicle was pulled over for failing to display  a front license plate.

“We are aware of the incident and are addressing it,” a Nebraska official said in a very brief statement.

After playing in 19 games (one start) the past two years, Dismuke is a front-runner for a starting job entering summer camp. This past season, Stovall was named as NU’s Special Teams Player of the Year.

Kentucky confirms addition of Troy transfer QB Sawyer Smith

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It’s now officially official.

In late April, Sawyer Smith took his first step in moving on from Troy by announcing on social media that he had placed his name into the NCAA transfer database.  Two weeks later, the quarterback used social media to reveal that his next stop at the collegiate level would be at Kentucky.

Monday, Smith’s expected new home confirmed the player’s addition to the roster.

”We’re excited to have Sawyer join our program,” UK head coach Mark Stoops said in a statement. “It’s great to add a quarterback with his experience and success. He helped lead Troy to an outstanding season last year and we’re glad to have him here.”

As Smith comes to the Wildcats as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to compete for a starting job immediately.  Additionally, he’ll have another season of eligibility he could use in 2020.

Smith played in 13 games this past season, including starts in the last seven.  In those appearances, the Florida native completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 1,669 yards and 14 touchdowns to go along with six interceptions. He also rushed for 191 yards and another touchdown.

Terry Wilson started all 13 games for the Wildcats in a 2018 season that saw UK reach double digits in wins for the first time since Jimmy Carter was sitting in the Oval Office. Wilson, though, was 10th in the SEC and 63rd nationally with a 133.9 pass efficiency rating.

For what it’s worth, Smith’s 139 rating was fifth in the Sun Belt Conference and 47th in the country.

Lincoln Riley says Jalen Hurts must win the starting QB job at Oklahoma

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Coaches say things to motivate their players even if nobody really believes it. Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley, entering his third season in charge of the Sooners this fall, is already proving to be a veteran when it comes to setting the bar high and motivating his quarterbacks in the offseason.

Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts will undoubtedly be the starting quarterback for Oklahoma when the 2019 season kicks off for the defending Big 12 champion on Sept. 1 against Houston. However, Riley is not prepared to publicly anoint his newest quarterback as the heir to the throne of the offense that has produced the last two Heisman Trophy winners at the quarterback position. Instead, Riley is telling media members at Big 12 media days Hurts will have to go out and earn the opportunity.

Don’t be shocked by seeing that quote, because that is what the best coaches will do no matter who is on their team. Except in certain situations where a proven starting quarterback is coming back to the program for a second or third (or fourth?) season, coaches will always hope to inspire healthy competition at every position, including quarterback. By not gifting Hurts the starting job in the middle of July, Riley is setting the tone that will keep Hurts pushing to improve his game and keep other quarterbacks like Class of 2019 five-star recruit Spencer Rattler and four-star Class of 2018 quarterback Tanner Mordecai working to get their shot.

But Hurts is far from any ordinary transfer quarterback. Hurts was the starter for Alabama for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, in which Alabama went to the national championship game both seasons, losing one and winning the other. Yes, Tua Tagovailoa replaced Hurts at quarterback for that national title win against Georgia, but Hurts was a major reason why Alabama was in the national title game two years in a row with him as the starter. Hurts brings multiple seasons of starting experience form one of the top programs in the sport with him. And after Oklahoma lost Kyler Murray to the NFL Draft a year after losing Baker Mayfield, Hurts is stepping right into a position that carried high expectations and demands results.

Hurts may have had a couple of bumps in the road in Tuscaloosa, but he didn’t come to Oklahoma to be a back-up. Riley knows that, but he has the responsibility to make sure everyone on his team is working hard to improve. That message should be heard loud and clear, even if media pundits don’t have to believe it.

LSU CB Kelvin Joseph is back in the transfer portal

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The NCAA transfer portal has seen a number of names come and go this offseason. Now, it appears, LSU cornerback Kelvin Joseph is stepping a foot in the transfer portal for a second time.

Joseph reportedly entered the transfer portal back in May, only to have that story disputed by his father. A day later, Joseph announced on Twitter that his father was, in fact, wrong with his claim. After some time passed, it seemed as though Joseph may end up staying in Baton Rouge to play for the Tigers this fall. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said “everything is good” regarding the status of Joseph as the story unfolded.

However, as multiple reports have surfaced at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama today, Joseph is now back in the transfer portal.

By entering the transfer portal, Joseph is free to have contact with any other college football program that may be interested in recruiting him. He would have to sit out the upcoming 2019 season if he transfers to another FBS program due to standard NCAA transfer rules, barring any appeal being granted for immediate eligibility.

Joseph was a four-star member of LSU’s Class of 2018. He played in 11 games for the Tigers last season and was suspended from the Fiesta Bowl for unspecified violations of team rules.