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No. 8 UCF again charges past Memphis to secure 25th straight win, 2nd straight AAC crown

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While Playoff chaos breaks out elsewhere, No. 8 UCF proved yet again it belongs in the conversation, with or without quarterback McKenzie Milton. The Knights rallied from a 17-point halftime deficit, scoring five touchdowns in five second half possessions to blow past Memphis for a 56-41 win, securing their second straight American championship and extending their FBS-best winning streak to 25 games.

The game was eerily reminiscent of the teams’ Oct. 13 meeting in Memphis, where UCF (12-0) overcame a 30-14 second half deficit to win 31-30.

Memphis charged to a 38-21 halftime lead this time, racking up 336 first half rushing yards (the most by any team in a half this season), including 208 by Darrell Henderson, but the Knights played a perfect second half to keep their second straight perfect season alive, scoring touchdowns on all five second half possessions.

Making his first start, Darriel Mack, Jr. overcame three first half fumbles (two lost), to account for 407 yards and six touchdowns, including four on the ground.

A 54-yard strike from Mack to Anderson — who fumbled a punt away just before halftime, turning a possible 31-28 UCF deficit into a 38-21 Memphis lead just before halftime — pulled the deficit to 38-28 then, after a Memphis three-and-out, Mack pulled the Knights within three on a 4-yard keeper.

Memphis (8-5) answered by charging to a 1st-and-goal from the 10 but, after two runs pushed the ball to the UCF 2, Mike Norvell elected to throw on 3rd-and-goal, and Brady White‘s pass was incomplete. Norvell elected to kick a 19-yard field goal, extending the Memphis lead to 41-35 with 2:13 to play in the third quarter.

The lead wouldn’t last, as McCrae busted free for a 50-yard run, setting up Mack’s 2-yard keeper, handing UCF a 42-41 lead with 14:28 left in the game.

Facing their first deficit, Memphis again pushed into UCF territory but could not find the end zone, and Riley Patterson‘s 46-yard field goal was no good.

With a chance to take complete control of the game, UCF showed the championship mettle it has in its last 25 games — including all four wins over Memphis — and rolled 71 yards in eight plays, mostly on the ground, and Mack’s third rushing touchdown gave UCF a 49-41 edge with 6:37 to go.

Needing a touchdown and a 2-point conversion to stop the bleeding, Memphis instead went three-and-out. The Tigers called two passes in the series: White’s first down pass was incomplete, and his third down heave never happened because he was enveloped for a 7-yard sack.

UCF put the finishing blow into Memphis by rolling 82 yards in eight plays and scoring on a 5-yard Mack rush. After the 54-yard strike to Anderson to open the half, Mack closed out all of UCF’s drives with runs of four, two, two and five yards.

In five second half possessions, UCF scored five touchdowns, in the process gaining 353 yards on 39 plays.

Memphis’ last-gasp drive ended in a White interception in the UCF end zone with 33 seconds to play. After running for 336 first half yards, Memphis rushed for just 65 yards in the second half. Henderson rushed 16 times for 210 yards and three touchdowns, though just six of those yards came after halftime. White finished the game 17-of-29 for 178 yards with an interception.

While UCF likely will not have enough juice to jump forward four spots, the win will be enough to send the Knights to their second straight New Year’s Six bowl, most likely the Fiesta Bowl against LSU or Florida.

Florida State apologizes for MLK Day tweet

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As the old adage goes, the best-laid plans of mice and men’s Twitter accounts often go awry.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday, Florida State’s official recruiting account on Twitter posted an inspirational quote from the slain Civil Rights leader. It would’ve been fine for all involved if the account would’ve stopped there; unfortunately for all involved, they didn’t stop there.

Instead, a photoshopped image of Dr. King wearing a football glove and apparently performing the Tomahawk Chop was included as part of the tweet.

Not surprisingly, the Twitter account caught significant heat and flack for the image on social media. Just as unsurprisingly, the tweet was deleted less than an hour after it was posted and an apology subsequently issued.

Rutgers hires Andy Buh to coordinate defense

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Rutgers has hired Andy Buh as its defensive coordinator, the program has announced.

“We are excited to add Andy to the Rutgers football family,” head coach Chris Ash said in a statement. “He is an outstanding linebackers coach and has extensive experience in the Big Ten. Andy and I share a defensive philosophy and he is very familiar with the scheme we run, which will benefit the continued development of our defense.”

Ash and Buh worked together previously at Wisconsin, where Ash was the defensive coordinator and Buh the linebackers coach. He spent the past three seasons as the defensive coordinator at Maryland and has previous coordinator experience at Stanford, Nevada and Cal.

Buh replaces Jay Niemann, who served as the Scarlet Knights’ defensive coordinator for the first three seasons of the Ash era. Rutgers was 69th in total and yards per play defense and 89th in scoring in 2018, surrendering 31.4 points per game. Buh’s Maryland defense placed 78th, allowing 28.7 points per outing.

Rutgers is 7-29 under Ash and 3-24 in Big Ten play.

North Texas inks home and homes with Baylor, Tulane

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North Texas celebrated MLK Day by announcing a slew of future football opponents.

The Mean Green announced Monday it will play home-and-homes with Baylor and Tulane in the 2028 and ’29 campaigns. North Texas will visit the Bears and Green Wave in 2028, then host both in 2029. UNT will visit Baylor on Sept. 2 and Tulane on Sept. 23 in 2028, while the Mean Green will host Baylor and Tulane in back-to-back weeks to open 2029, with the Bears coming on Sept. 1 and the Green Wave on Sept. 8.

A previously scheduled home game with Army was bumped from 2027 to 2028 in conjunction with Monday’s announcements. North Texas also announced a home game with Texas Southern for Sept. 24, 2022.

Baylor will be the fourth Power 5 program and the second Big 12 opponent to visit Apogee Stadium, which opened in 2011. Indiana visited in Apogee’s opening season, Cal will make a visit in 2022 and Texas Tech will come to Denton in 2027.

“I am thrilled to announce two quality home-and-home series have been added to our schedules,” Mean Green AD Wren Baker said in a statement. “Baylor joins Cal and Texas Tech as Power 5 conference teams coming to Denton over the next few years. Tulane is a quality American Athletic Conference team that will be a fun trip for our fans when we return to New Orleans. I appreciate (COO) Jared Mosley‘s diligent efforts to find compelling games for our fans.”

North Texas and Baylor have met 13 times previously. The Bears have won 12 of those meetings but North Texas took the most recent meeting in Denton, a 52-14 thumping in 2003. That remains UNT’s most recent win over a Big 12 opponent.

The Mean Green and Green Wave have played just once previously, a 21-14 Tulane victory in New Orleans in 2013.

Baylor has a previously scheduled trip to Oregon slated for 2028, a return trip for the Ducks’ flight to Waco in 2027. Tulane also has a home-and-home with Iowa State in 2028-29, with the home dates flipped from the UNT series.

Boise State to replace iconic blue turf (with more, newer blue turf)

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Boise State became a household name through playing on its trendsetting blue turf (and winning a lot), such that the school now owns a trademark for any non-green collegiate field.

The current blue playing surface is set to go away this spring, only to be replaced by a newer, bigger, bluer (probably) version.

“It’s needed,” Boise State AD Curt Apsey told the Idaho Statesman. “We’re not just doing it to do it. It’s near the end of the usual lifespan.”

The current playing surface was installed ahead of the 2010 season; FieldTurf surfaces usually have a lifespan of eight to 10 years.

“The field is shredding,” Broncos head coach Bryan Harsin told the paper last summer. “It’s just old. It needs to be replaced. It’s just time.”

Boise State has played on a blue surface since 1986, when then-AD Gene Blaymaier put in blue AstroTurf at a cost of $750,000. The school did not even join FBS until a decade later.

The new surface will extend beyond the playing field to cover the area that previously held the Broncos’ track. It is expected to cost between $600,000 and $1 million, but the school is approved to spend $600,000 as of now.