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.
Ohio State already owns the top recruiting class in the next cycle. The Buckeyes could be set to add to its prospect riches. Maybe.
On Twitter Sunday, Virginia high schooler Tony Grimes used a video posted on Twitter to reveal his Final Four potential destinations. And those four potential landing spots? Georgia, North Carolina and Texas A&M. And, of course, Ohio State.
That quartet, though, will very likely have to wait a while for a decision.
“So far it is still Dec. 1,” Grimes told 247Sports.com when asked about Decision Day. “I am looking for more of a connection and knowing that there is someone there, that when I get there, I can trust, and someone who is going to develop me. Who is going to develop me more and who is going to put me in a position where I can play, ball out and get developed for the next level?”
Whichever school ultimately signs Grimes, they’ll be getting one of the highest-rated 2021 prospects.
Grimes is a five-star recruit in the next cycle according to the 247Sports.com composite. He’s the top-rated cornerback in the country. And in his home state of Virginia, regardless of position. On that same composite, he’s the No. 7 prospect in the country overall.
Ohio State currently holds the top-rated class in the country. The Buckeyes currently hold verbals from four five-star 2021 prospects. The next 11 schools have a combined four such commitments.
As for the other three schools involved in the chase for Grimes? North Carolina holds the No. 4 class, while Georgia is 12th and Texas A&M is 24th.
Florida State is the beneficiary of a relatively rare football portal flip.
In mid-May, Jarrian Jones became the fifth Mississippi State football player to enter the NCAA transfer database in seven weeks. May 23, he became the latest MSU player to find a new home as the defensive back moved to the Ole Miss side of the Egg Bowl rivalry.
Friday morning, however, Jones flipped. On his personal Twitter account, Jones revealed that he has committed to the Florida State football team.
Jones was a four-star member of the Mississippi State football Class of 2019. The Mississippi native was the No. 18 safety in the country on the 247Sports.com composite. He was also the No. 13 prospect regardless of position in his home state. Only three signees in the class that year for MSU were rated higher than Jones.
As a true freshman, Jones started one of the dozen games in which he played. In those appearances, he was credited with 12 tackles, two passes defensed and one fumble recovery.
After sitting out the 2020 season, the defensive back will have three years of eligibility to use starting in 2021. Barring a waiver for immediate eligibility, of course.
Jones would actually be the second Mississippi State player to transfer into the Florida State football program in less than two months. In mid-April, Fabien Lovett announced he was transferring to the Seminoles. While it was reported that the defensive lineman would likely flip to Ole Miss, he confirmed he signed with FSU.
Vanderbilt football is mourning the loss of one of its own.
In February of 2017, Vanderbilt announced that football assistant Osia Lewis was battling a form of liver cancer called cholangiocarcinoma. This weekend, the Commodores have been forced to make the sad announcement that Lewis has lost his three-year-plus battle with the insidious disease.
Lewis was 57 at the time of his death. He leaves behind a wife and two children.
“We are deeply saddened for the loss of our heart and soul, Osia Lewis,” the Vanderbilt football program wrote on Twitter. “Our thoughts and love are with Osia’s family and friends.
“Rest in paradise.”
In 2016, Lewis joined the Vanderbilt football staff as senior defensive assistant and outside linebackers coach. Following his diagnosis, Lewis stepped away from his on-field coaching role but continued his duties as a senior defensive assistant. He also carried the title special consultant to head coach Derek Mason.
Prior to his time at Vandy, Lewis was the defensive line coach at San Diego State. He also served a pair of stints as a defensive coordinator, first at New Mexico (2003-07) and then at UTEP _2008-09)
The Tucson native began his coaching career as the special teams coach and linebackers coach at Oregon State. Lewis then moved on to Illinois as linebackers and defensive line coach from 1997-02.
Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all of those impacted by Lewis’ death.
The violence that has sprung up in the wake of George Floyd‘s murder has directly impacted the Indiana football program.
According to the Indianapolis Star, Chris Beaty “was one of two men shot and killed in separate incidents over the weekend as violence erupted in Downtown Indianapolis.” The 38-year-old Beaty was shot multiple times shortly before midnight local time Saturday and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police have made an arrest, but it’s unclear if it’s in connection to the shooting of Beaty or another man, 18-year-old Dorian Murrell, early Sunday morning.
Beaty was a defensive lineman for the Indiana Hoosiers football team from 2000-04.
“Very sad and horrible news,” Beaty’s head coach for three seasons, current Big Ten Network analyst Gerry DiNardo, wrote on Twitter. “We all take responsibility if we don’t make a difference. We’re part of the problem or part of the solution there are no other choices. So sad.”
HoosierHuddle.com wrote that “Beaty was still actively involved with IU football. He tweeted on April 26th a screenshot of head coach Tom Allen, Mark Deal and several other Indiana football alumni. He thanked Allen for checking in with the former players and said that IU football was in good hands.”
Included was a tweet from Beaty’s personal Twitter account.
The Star noted that Beaty was a nightclub manager in Indianapolis. “Beaty founded events promotion company Fresh Marketing in 2011,” the newspaper wrote. “He was the past operating partner of Revel nightclub, general manager of Dunaway’s Palazzo Ossigeno and assistant general manager of 6 Lounge.”