While UCF may get the majority of the national spotlight when discussing the American Athletic Conference, the Houston Cougars (6-1, 3-0 AAC) made certain the path to the AAC Championship Game out of the West Division will continue to go through them. A 49-36 victory on the road at Navy moved AAC to being the only undefeated team in conference play in the West Division.
Houston quarterback D’Eriq King passed for 413 yards and three touchdowns without an interception, and he led the Cougars in the running game with 56 rushing yards and a touchdown in the road win against the Midshipmen. Navy rushed for 344 yards as a team, typical for their offense against most opponents, but Houston was able to avoid being worn down on defense.
The loss sinks Navy to 2-5 this season and the chance to go to a seventh straight bowl game is beginning to fade. Ken Niumatalolo has only had one losing season in his time at Navy, going 5-7 in 2011, but it is beginning to look as though he will have his second losing season this fall. Navy will play Notre Dame in San Diego next week, and that is followed by road games in conference play against Cincinnati and UCF.
Of course, Navy also ends the season in the Army-Navy Game in Philadelphia against an Army program well on their way to a winning season and a bowl berth regardless of what happens in the rivalry game.
Meanwhile, Houston is hoping to be able to play their way into the New Years Six conversation, one this program should be capable of doing on a regular basis. At 6-1, Houston is every bit as worthy of being in the New Years Six discussion among Group of Five programs. Even if Houston loses a second game, it may not be impossible to pull off given the rest of the Group of Five landscape either. Houston will host South Florida next week, and the Cougars will also host Temple and Tulane and visit SMU and Memphis in the second half of the season.
After one semester at Michigan, freshman running back Jordan Castleberry has transferred to Maryland. Castleberry announced his transfer decision on his Twitter account on Thursday.
Castleberry originally committed to West Virginia during his recruiting process out of high school. Shortly after his commitment to West Virginia, Michigan became a more likely recruiting victor. Castleberry enrolled at Michigan in July 2019.
Castleberry did not play for Michigan in 2019, so he can use the 2019 season as a redshirt year to preserve a year of eligibility. However, NCAA transfer rules will force Castleberry to sit out the 2020 season. This will not make Castleberry eligible for Maryland until the 2021 season, at which point he will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.
Family will always be more important than football, which is why Ruffin McNeill will be putting football on hold for an undetermined amount of time. Oklahoma announced on Thursday that assistant head coach and outside linebackers coach McNeill will leave football to help take care of his father.
“This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make,” McNeill said in a statement released by Oklahoma. “But in the end, being near my dad was a necessary choice. Right now I need to be a son again and I need to help my brother and other family members take care of my dad, who is battling significant health issues. This is not retirement for me. I still want to coach in some form or fashion. But right now that can’t be the case. My focus needs to be on my dad back in North Carolina.”
“Ruffin means so much to me and to my family, and his family means so much to him,” Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley said in a statement. “I know his decision to leave OU was a very difficult one, but was one he felt he had to make.”
Although McNeill said this is not a retirement decision and expressed a desire to continue coaching when the time is right, Riley confirmed the Sooners will be looking for a replacement on the staff.
“I still want to coach in some form or fashion,” McNeill said. “But right now that can’t be the case.”
McNeill joined the Oklahoma coaching staff under Riley in 2017.
As we are quickly learning with the new day and age of college football, the minute a new quarterback arrives on the scene by way of a transfer, another may soon be on the move. Case in point, the current situation at Miami. Quarterback Jarren Williams will be entering the transfer portal, according to a report from Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated (via Twitter).
This news is hardly shocking given the attention given to the arrival by D’Eriq King from Houston earlier this week. King, a graduate transfer with immediate eligibility for this fall, is widely expected to step in and be Miami’s starting quarterback in 2020. Naturally, that would reduce the playing time Williams or any other Miami quarterback would be likely to see in the fall.
As a redshirt freshman in 2019, Williams was Miami’s leading passer with 2,187 yards and 19 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Williams is the only Miami quarterback who played in as many as 12 games last fall. If not for the addition of King, Williams may have been Miami’s most likely starter this season.
If Williams, a former four-star recruit in the Class of 2018, does indeed enter the transfer portal and ultimately decides to leave the Hurricanes for a new school, he will have to sit out the 2020 season. He would then have two years of eligibility left to use beginning in 2021.
Appalachian State and Liberty have agreed to a future home-and-home series beginning in 2024. The schools announced future games to be played at Appalachian State in 2024 and at Liberty in 2025.
Appalachian State will host the Flames on Sept. 28, 2024. Liberty will host the Mountaineers the following fall on Oct. 11, 2025. Although this will not be the first time the two programs have played each other, it will mark the first time the two schools have faced each other with both being full FBS members.
Appalachian State and Liberty have faced off 10 times before. The most recent meeting in the series took place on Oct. 11, 2014, when Appalachian State was in its first season transitioning to from the FCS to the FBS. Liberty won an overtime shootout, 55-48. Liberty made the move from FCS to FBS in 2018 and is coming off its first bowl appearance, and victory, this past season against an Appalachian State rival, Georgia Southern.
“One of our goals in football scheduling is to play regional opponents to which our fan base can easily travel, and we’ve been able to do that with series like this one,” Appalachian State Director of Athletics Doug Gillin said in a released statement.
The addition of Liberty to Appalachian State’s future schedules fills the non-conference portion of the 2024 schedule for the reigning Sun Belt Conference champions. Appalachian State will also host East Tennessee State and play road games at Clemson and East Carolina in 2024. Appalachian State has two openings on its 2025 schedule, as of now. A home game against South Carolina is also booked for 2025 in addition to the road game at Liberty.
Liberty now has seven games booked for the 2024 season. The independent program will also host Coastal Carolina and Marshall and play road games at North Carolina, Eastern Michigan, Ball State, and UMass in 2024. Liberty still needs three more games to fill up the 2025 schedule, which is highlighted by road games at Army and Duke and a home game against Wake Forest.