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Cincinnati edges Virginia Tech in Military Bowl that goes down to the wire

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The bowl season has not been particularly kind to the AAC, but Cincinnati (11-2) picked up a good win against Virginia Tech (6-7) in a Military Bowl that went down to the wire.  Michael Warren II scored a go-ahead touchdown with 1:29 to play to give the Bearcats a four-point lead, and the defense held on for the win. An interception by James Wiggins essentially clinched the win for the Bearcats in the final minute of the game.

Cincinnati won the game despite losing starting quarterback Desmond Ridder to an injury in the fir half. Hayden Moore came in to lead the offense, and he completed 11 of 25 passes for 120 yards with an interception. That led Warren to put the team on his back with 166 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns, including the go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter. Virginia Tech’s defense had not been quite the normal defense you expect from a Bud Foster defense over the years, and the Bearcats continued that trend in the bowl game with some big plays and big runs in big moments. Cincinnati converted 6 of 13 third downs and was one-for-one on fourth down as well despite a sub-par passing attack.

Virginia Tech also had two turnovers, including one fumble on a busted fourth-and-one play near the Cincinnati goal line that really hurt Virginia Tech. Leading 31-28 midway through the fourth quarter and setting up the offense at the Cincinnati 12-yard line following an interception, the Hokies wasted an opportunity to create a two-score advantage. Ryan Willis was run back for a loss of 13 yards and fumbled the ball away on 4th & 1 just four plays after the defense came up with a big play. Cincinnati wound up having to punt the ball away, but being so close to a possible touchdown only to come away with nothing has to sting for Virginia Tech given the outcome.

The win was Cincinnati’s first bowl win since 2012 when the program won the Belk Bowl despite former head coach Butch Jones leaving the job before the bowl game to become the head coach at Tennessee. Cincinnati also pulled one game closer to a .500 all-time record against the Hokies, with Virginia Tech now leading the all-time series 6-5 dating back to 1985. Cincinnati has won four of the last five meetings with Virginia Tech since 2006, including a 2-2 record in bowl games.

Cincinnati’s 11-2 record is the best for the program since going 12-1 in the 2009 season, which was coached by Brian Kelly before he left before the Sugar Bowl to become the head coach at Notre Dame. Luke Fickell, unless anything changes in the ongoing coaching carousel craziness, should be staying put for now. And after coaching the Bearcats to a 4-8 record in his first season and tacking on seven more wins this season, he has done well for himself.

On the flip side, Virginia Tech suffered its first losing season since 1992, the second year Virginia Tech was a member of the Big East. Virginia Tech has now seen their win total drop each of the past two seasons since winning 10 games in the first year with Justin Fuente as head coach. no need to hit any panic buttons in Blacksburg yet, however. But don’t be surprised if Fuente takes some time to evaluate a few things with his program heading into 2019.

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.