The American Athletic Conference championship game is now set, and it’s going to be a rematch. Memphis (8-4, 5-3 AAC) clinched a return trip to the conference championship game on Friday afternoon with a 52-31 victory over Houston (8-4, 5-3 AAC) in a game that determined the AAC West Division crown. Darrell Henderson‘s big day on the ground fueled the Memphis clincher for the division, with his 60-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter giving the Tigers a two-score lead.
What was a back-and-forth type of game with momentum swings at every turn became a game in which Memphis took control in the fourth quarter. The Tigers scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, which started with the game tied at 31-31. Houston’s offense struggled to find the plays that had been available earlier and the defense was leaving hole son the ground with Ed Oliver out of action for much of the afternoon. Oliver did return and started the game for the Cougars after missing some playing time in recent weeks, but he was limited to the sideline for much of the afternoon in what could be a disappointing end to his time in a Houston uniform. When Oliver was in the game in the first half, Memphis struggled to get much offense running, especially on the ground.
Henderson rushed for 177 yards and a touchdown and Patrick Taylor accompanied that with 111 rushing yards and two scores as Memphis combined for 353 rushing yards against a reeling Houston defense. Memphis will hope to carry over that momentum on the ground in the AAC Championship Game next week when they face UCF for a second-straight year. Henderson broke the single-season rushing record in the AAC by passing James Flanders of Tulsa by ending his day with 1,699 yards for the regular season, exceeding Flanders’ 2016 total of 1,629 yards.
Houston attempted to make plays happen through the air with backup quarterback Clayton Tune taking over for an injured D’Eriq King, but the consistency through the air never materialized as the game went on. Tune did throw three touchdowns but he completed just 18 of 43 pass attempts and was intercepted in the end zone late in the game on Houston’s last scoring chance of the afternoon. Memphis quarterback Brady White had a rough end to the first half with two interceptions thrown, both by Houston’s Gleson Sprewell who returned one for a long touchdown, but White had the luzury of falling back and letting the running game take control.
UCF will host Memphis for the second straight year in the AAC Championship Game, and once again UCF is looking to book a trip to a New Years Six bowl game. Memphis, who lost in overtime to the Knights in last year’s AAC title game and came up just shy of edging UCF earlier this season, could play the ultimate spoiler and open the door up for a spot in the New Years Six for a team from the Mountain West Conference, which would be the conference most likely to capitalize on any sudden shortcomings by UCF. However, UCF has won each of the last three meetings between the two programs.
UCF will host Memphis on December 1 for the AAC Championship Game. Houston, after losing three of their final four games as key injuries piled up, will wait to learn their bowl destination.
Les Miles isn’t the only big addition to Kansas football for the 2019 season.
No, the school has something much better that will help pass the time during Jayhawks losses in the form of expanded beer and alcohol sales to general seating areas of Memorial Stadium.
“In consultation with the University, Kansas Athletics has introduced the sale of beer and wine at selected venues on a trial basis to help assess the viability of a broader offering of alcoholic beverages,” athletic director Jeff Long said in a release. “That program has been very successful, and with the support and collaboration of on-campus entities, we are now prepared to expand it. Fans have told us that one of the best ways to enhance their experience at Kansas Athletics events is for them to have the ability to enjoy beer and wine, and we are pleased to provide this opportunity.”
We’re not sure if by “enhance their experience” the fans of KU football mean forget what they’re seeing on the field by we digress.
The school notes that the Jayhawks will be the sixth Big 12 school (along with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Texas and Texas Tech) to allow such sales in the general seating areas. That should make the conference the first with a majority of its programs selling beer and alcohol to the public during football games this upcoming season.
It also makes Kansas one of some 50 total FBS schools who have opened up the taps officially. Something says the new head coach is no stranger to just such an environment either so good news all around for KU fans during a week where negative headlines were more closely associated with the program.
We’re in the final stages of the offseason in college football with training camps across the country starting as early as next week but it’s never too late for a player to transfer elsewhere for 2019.
One such case comes in the form of Rutgers wide receiver Zihir Lacewell, who NJ.com reports is transferring to Garden City Community College in Kansas. While a backup player leaving the Scarlet Knights from time-to-time isn’t all that interesting, the fact that Lacewell is departing to flip sides and play defensive back is.
The Staten Island, NY native did see action last season at Rutgers but played in only four games to preserve his redshirt. He was not expected to crack the starting rotation on offense in 2019.
Rated as a three-star recruit by 247Sports, Lacewell was one of the program’s highest-rated recruits in the class of 2018 and held offers from a host of Power Five programs in the Northeast.
The Heisman Trophy has generally been synonymous with the best quarterback on one of the best teams in recent years but there have been a few running backs who have broken through to win the most prestigious award in all of college football.
Hoping to become the next tailback to break the signal-callers’ grip on the stiff arm? That would be Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, who appears to have a budding campaign for the trophy that was launched by the school on Thursday:
“Herschel Walker. Ron Dayne. Ricky Williams. Adrian Peterson. LaDainian Tomlinson. Dominant running backs. Legendary names. Unrivaled production … until now,” one tagline reads. “There’s a new kid on the block and he’s “Bringing Running Back,” back into the spotlight, just like those that came before him. And his name is Jonathan Taylor.”
The website goes through all of the notable stats that Taylor has piled up in just two seasons in Madison and while it doesn’t explicitly say everything is designed to raise the junior’s awareness ahead of Big Ten Media Days and the upcoming 2019 campaign, it does note that his fellow Wisconsin Doak Walker Award winners have all been finalists in New York at some point in their career.
i.e. hint, hint media this guy is pretty good.
And nobody is debating that after he has set numerous records during his first two years on campus. Key to actually making it to New York though might be how Taylor’s team does around him. If the Badgers can get back to being in contention for the Big Ten title once again in 2019, chances are high that the tailback’s play will play a bigger part in getting him the attention he deserves than a website and a hashtag.
Media Day season is also Watch List season and the latest to surface for the 2019 campaign comes out of Tallahassee in the form of the Biletnikoff Award Watch List. The award, given annually to the nation’s most outstanding receiver, includes the defending winner in Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and fellow semifinalist Tylan Wallace out of Oklahoma State, as well as a number of other talented pass-catchers from around the country.
Here’s the full list, which is a good general overview of the best wide receivers and tight ends for the upcoming season even if a few names can gripe about being left off:
Lynn Bowden, Jr. (Kentucky)
Rico Bussey, Jr. (North Texas)
Cedric Byrd (Hawaii)
Grant Calcaterra (Oklahoma)
Damonte Coxie (Memphis)
Gabriel Davis (UCF)
Bryan Edwards (South Carolina)
D’Wayne Eskridge (Western Michigan)
Aaron Fuller (Washington)
Antonio Gandy-Golden (Liberty)
KJ Hamler (Penn State)
Adrian Hardy (Louisiana Tech)
Damon Hazelton (Virginia Tech)
Tee Higgins (Clemson)
K.J. Hill (Ohio State)
Isaiah Hodgins (Oregon State)
Justin Jefferson (LSU)
Jerry Jeudy (Alabama)
Tyler Johnson (Minnesota)
Collin Johnson (Texas)
CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma)
Ty Lee (Middle Tennessee State)
Kalija Lipscomb (Vanderbilt)
McLane Mannix (Texas Tech)
Kirk Merritt (Arkansas State)
Riley Miller (Ball State)
Denzel Mims (Baylor)
Darnell Mooney (Tulane)
Rondale Moore (Purdue)
Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri)
K.J. Osborn (Miami)
Dezmon Patmon (Washington State)
Jared Pinkney (Vanderbilt)
Michael Pittman, Jr. (USC)
James Proche (SMU)
Jalen Reagor (TCU)
Jared Rice (Fresno State)
Sean Riley (Syracuse)
Reggie Roberson, Jr. (SMU)
Justyn Ross (Clemson)
Henry Ruggs III (Alabama)
Laviska Shenault, Jr. (Colorado)
JD Spielman (Nebraska)
Amon-Ra St. Brown (USC)
Marquez Stevenson (Houston)
Tamorrion Terry (Florida State)
Jaylen Waddle (Alabama)
Tylan Wallace (Oklahoma State)
JoJo Ward (Hawaii)
Quez Watkins (Southern Miss)