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UCF tops Marshall in highest-scoring Gasparilla Bowl

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It may not be where UCF has become accustomed to playing this time of the year, but the Knights are ending their 2019 season with 10 wins and a bowl victory. UCF (10-3, 6-2 AAC) finished off their season on a winning note by topping Marshall (8-5, 6-2 Conference USA)in the highest-scoring Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl Monday afternoon, 48-25.

Marshall imploded early in the game with five turnovers on each of their first five offensive possessions. Isaiah Green had a third-down pass intercepted on the third play of the game and Richie Grant returned the football 39 yards for a defensive touchdown to give UCF an early lead. Green connected on a 45-yard pass to Armani Levias on the first play of the ensuing possession but Levias fumbled the football at the end of the play. After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter, Marshall turned the football over again and the Knights defense struck again with Tre’Mon Morris-Brash returning a fumble 45 yards for a score.

UCF built a 31-7 lead in the third quarter before Marshall began to get the ball moving and a better grip on the football. But by then, the damage had essentially been done.

Dillon Gabriel passed for 260 yards and two touchdowns for UCF before getting some rest at the end of the game. Marlon Williams had a big day with seven receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown in the winning effort. As a team, UCF rushed for 310 yards and out-gained Marshall 587-351. The game was also a bit testy in the second half as Big Ten officials did their best to keep control before things devolved into something ugly. Marshall’s Darrius Hodge was ejected from the game late in the third quarter after coming off the bench to get involved in some verbal jabbing at the end of a play. It was his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of the game, which results in an automatic ejection. Making his ejection unique was the fact Marshall was on offense at the time. The two teams combined for 18 penalties and 167 penalty yards with a handful of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties distributed to players on both teams.

The 73 combined points scored in the game are the most in a Gasparilla Bowl. The previous record point total was 69 scored by Rutgers and UCF in 2009 (Rutgers won 45-24) when the game was called the St. Petersburg Bowl. It was the second year of the bowl game’s existence.

With the win, UCF head coach Josh Heupel has won his first bowl game as a head coach. UCF also has won 10 or more games for a third consecutive season for the first time in program history. UCF could be lining up a possible spot in the final top 25 rankings, which would also be the third consecutive season for the first time in program history.

UCF’s 2020 season will begin at home next year with a home game against Mack Brown and UNC. The 2020 season opener is currently scheduled for a Thursday night kickoff on Sept. 3, 2020. UCF will also face Georgia Tech in Atlanta for a second game against a power conference opponent. The Knights also host FIU and Florida A&M in non-conference play. UCF will get some key division and conference games at home with home dates against Cincinnati and Temple, but a road trip to Memphis also looms.

Marshall’s 2020 season is currently scheduled to begin on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020 at East Carolina. The Thundering Herd will host Pittsburgh and Boise State and travel to Ohio in other non-conference matchups before jumping into the Conference USA schedule.

2019 finalist Justin Fields highlights preseason Davey O’Brien watch list

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The Davey O’Brien Award is next up as watch list season is in fall swing.

The Bednarik Award opened the proceedings Monday.  A day later, the Davey O’Brien Award released a preseason watch list that includes 30 of the top quarterbacks in the country.  And, according to the award’s press release, “new transfers were eligible to be included for the first time in the award’s history.”

Justin Fields of Ohio State, a finalist for the Davey O’Brien Award in 2019, is among the players on the watch list. Fields is joined by seven semifinalists from last year: Baylor’s Charlie Brewer, Shane Buechele of SMU, Texas’ Sam Ehlinger, Trevor Lawrence of Clemson, Minnesota’s Tanner Morgan, Brock Purdy of Iowa State and Memphis’ Brady White.

The Big 12 and SEC both landed five watch listers, the most of any single conference.  Both the ACC and Big Ten placed four apiece in the group, while the Pac-12 has two.  With three, the AAC leads all Group of Five leagues.

Fourteen seniors, eight juniors and eight sophomores combine to make up the list.

Below are all 30 members of this year’s watch list.

Hank Bachmeier, Boise State, So., 6-1, 200, Murrieta, Calif.
Ian Book, Notre Dame, Sr., 6-0, 206, El Dorado Hills, Calif.
Alan Bowman, Texas Tech, So., 6-3, 210, Grapevine, Texas
Charlie Brewer, Baylor, Sr., 6-1, 206, Austin, Texas
Shane Buechele, SMU, Sr., 6-1, 207, Arlington, Texas
Jack Coan, Wisconsin, Sr., 6-3, 221, Sayville, N.Y.
Sean Clifford, Penn State, Jr., 6-2, 219, Cincinnati, Ohio
Dustin Crum, Kent State, Sr., 6-3, 201, Grafton, Ohio
Micale Cunningham, Louisville, Jr., 6-1, 200, Montgomery, Ala.
Jayden Daniels, Arizona State, So., 6-3, 175, San Bernardino, Calif.
Sam Ehlinger, Texas, Sr., 6-3, 230, Austin, Texas
Justin Fields, Ohio State, Jr., 6-3, 228, Kennesaw, Ga.
Dillon Gabriel, UCF, So., 6-0, 186, Mililani, Hawai
Donald Hammond III, Air Force, Sr., 6-2, 220, Hampton, Ga.
Sam Howell, North Carolina, So., 6-1 1/4, 225, Indian Trail, N.C.
Mac Jones, Alabama, Jr., 6-2, 205, Jacksonville, Fla.
D’Eriq King, Miami, Sr., 5-11, 195, Manvel, Texas
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson, Jr., 6-6, 220, Cartersville, Ga.
Levi Lewis, Louisiana, Sr., 5-10, 190, Baton Rouge, La.
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M, Sr., 6-3, 217, San Antonio, Texas
Tanner Morgan, Minnesota, Jr., 6-2, 215, Union, Ky.
Jamie Newman, Georgia, Sr., 6-4, 230, Graham, N.C.
Bo Nix, Auburn, So., 6-2, 207, Pinson, Ala.
Brock Purdy, Iowa State, Jr., 6-1, 212, Gilbert, Ariz.
Chris Robison, Florida Atlantic, Jr., 6-1, 200, Mesquite, Texas
Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State, So., 6-1, 199, Denton, Texas
Kedon Slovis, USC, So., 6-2, 200, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Zac Thomas, Appalachian State, Sr., 6-1, 210, Trussville, Ala.
Kyle Trask, Florida, Sr., 6-5, 239, Manvel, Texas
Brady White, Memphis, Sr., 6-3, 215, Santa Clarita, Calif.

Tommy Tuberville defeats Jeff Sessions, is the Republican nominee from Alabama for a seat in the United States Senate

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For the first time in a while, Tommy Tuberville is front and center in the headlines in the great state of Alabama.  This time, though, it’s for a different sport.

In April of 2019, Tommy Tuberville announced that he would be running for one of the Alabama seats in the United States Senate.  The seat Tuberville was running for is currently held by Democrat Doug Jones, who won an extremely close (and contentious) special election back in 2017.

Before facing Jones, however, Tuberville would need to win the Republican runoff.  Against Jeff Sessions, the former U.S. Senator from the state of Alabama with deep ties to the Yellowhammer State.  Sessions, though, had his issues, you could say, with President Donald Trump, who, even amidst some football gaffes, wholeheartedly endorsed Tuberville.

Tuesday night, that endorsement likely paid off as the 65-year-old Tuberville claimed the Republican nomination in a resounding win.  Tuberville will now face Jones in the November general election.  Given the fact that the state of Alabama skews heavily toward the right, a Tuberville win is expected.

Not surprisingly, the current POTUS basked in the glow of Tuberville’s win.

Tuberville spent 10 seasons as the head coach at Auburn, famously guiding the Tigers to a six-game winning streak over the rival Alabama Crimson Tide during his tenure. “If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have Nick Saban,” Tuberville said in a radio interview when asked why Alabama football fans should vote for him.

A head coach most of the past two decades, Tuberville had a 159-99 record in stops that included Ole Miss (1995-98), Texas Tech (2010-12) and Cincinnati (2013-16) in addition to his time on The Plains.

UTSA confirms signing of highest-rated signee in Houston’s 2018 recruiting class

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UTSA has officially bolstered its football roster via the transfer portal.  Again.

In late June, Julon Williams committed to the UTSA football program.  The Houston wide receiver had entered the NCAA transfer database earlier that same month. Monday, the Roadrunners confirmed Williams’ addition to the football team.

Williams won’t be coming to UT-San Antonio football as a graduate transfer.  As a result, he’ll have to sit out the 2020 season for the Roadrunners.  Barring an unlikely waiver, of course.  That will leave the receiver two years of eligibility starting in 2021.

Williams was a three-star member of the Houston football Class of 2018.  He was also the highest-rated signee for the Cougars that cycle.

The production on the field, however, failed to match that recruiting pedigree.  In two seasons, the Converse, Texas, native played in just two games.  Both of those appearances came as a true freshman.

In that limited action, Williams caught three passes for 61 yards.

As noted in its release, Williams is the younger brother of Jarveon Williams, UTSA’s career rushing leader who played in 2013-16.  The elder Williams brother is also currently a graduate assistant at UTSA.

UTSA is coming off a 4-8 2019 football campaign.  That led to Frank Wilson being fired in December and Jeff Traylor being hired a week later.

Texas football will officially play at Campbell-Williams Field at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium

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It’s a Lone Star State-sized mouthful, but Texas football will officially step onto a newly-named field if/when the 2020 season kicks off.

Myriad Texas student-athletes, including football players, requested last month that several issues be addressed.  Monday, UT confirmed that it had initiated several changes on the athletic and academic side of the university, many of which addressed the concerns of the student-athletes.  One that didn’t?  The “Eyes of Texas” will remain the school song.

The school did note, though, that, “[a]t the suggestion of the Jamail family, [the university would] rename Joe Jamail Field at the stadium in honor of Texas’ two great Heisman Trophy winners, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams, two Longhorn legends with a record of commitment to the university.”

Tuesday, the university confirmed that, moving forward, the home for Texas football will officially be known as Campbell-Williams Field at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

In 1977, Campbell became the first-ever Texas football player to win the Heisman Trophy.  Two decades later, Williams became the second in 1998.  Those two running backs remain the only Longhorns to ever claim the most prestigious individual trophy in the sport.

“This is such a great tribute and so well deserved,” former Texas and current North Carolina head coach Mack Brown told the Austin American-Statesman via email. “And what an awesome tribute it is to Joe Jamail, and an amazing gesture by his family that they wanted to do this for Ricky and Earl. But that’s who the Jamail family is. Joe loved Ricky, Earl and all of the players.

“This is such a fitting way for the family to honor Joe and to say thank you to all of the players and the university they care for so deeply.”

Joe Jamail, a renowned attorney, passed away in 2015.  His name has been on the field since 1997, shortly after he gave yet another multi-million gift to the football program.  The first game played on Joe Jamail Field, Texas lost to UCLA 66-3.  Jamail’s response?

“How much f***ing money does it take to get my name off the field?”