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Mike Aresco thinks New Year’s Six bid is important for AAC, but wants respect for the league more

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The American Athletic Conference has secured the Group of Five’s bid to the New Year’s Six bowl games in three of the first five years (winning twice) of the College Football Playoff era but the league is apparently still searching for something even more elusive: respect.

Yes, cue the Rodney Dangerfield line about not getting any but that seems to be the driving force behind some of commissioner Mike Aresco’s comments this week. The conference currently has three ranked teams and has enjoyed an impressive amount of success so far in 2019 but the driving force behind the AAC’s bid to be a “Power 6” league still doesn’t think they are getting their due.

“I would much rather not be a one-horse or a two-horse league,” Aresco told The Athletic. “I want to see a lot of really good teams. I want to see our league develop that strength of schedule where we’re respected. That’s more important than getting that New Year’s bid. That doesn’t mean the bid isn’t important. We obviously want to get it and play those top teams. … It’s important to get that bid, not only the financial part, but the exposure on New Year’s Day. But it’s more important to have what is perceived as the best G5 conference, and I think that’s what we’ve had since the beginning of this whole thing.”

Aresco probably isn’t wrong on that latter point, as the AAC has been a lot more consistent than peers like the Mountain West or MAC. The former has put together a very strong campaign this year and might be in the driver’s seat for the New Year’s Six bid however, with Boise State being the highest ranked Group of Five team at the moment. The MWC also has a national best eight Power Five wins on their resume as well.

It remains to be seen how it will all shake out given that there’s so much of the season left but something says this won’t be the only comments to come out of Providence from Aresco as the race to nab an invite to the Cotton Bowl this year looks tighter than ever

Only UConn QB with a touchdown pass this season out six to eight weeks with fractured clavicle

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As if things were not already tough enough for UConn football. Now, they will play the next chunk of the season without one of their younger quarterbacks.

UConn head coach Randy Edsall announced, via Twitter, that starting quarterback Steven Krajewski will miss the next six to eight weeks due to a fractured clavicle. Edsall noted Krajewski is scheduled for surgery on Tuesday. With Krajewski out of the mix, Mike Beaudry will be the team’s starter and freshman Jack Zergiotis will be the backup option if needed.

UConn faces UCF on the road this Saturday. The next five weeks include games against USF, Tulane, Houston, UMass, and Navy. If Krajewski is out for a full eight weeks, he would also miss a game at Cincinnati. The eighth week would fall on a bye before UConn wraps up the season with a home game against East Carolina and a road game at Temple.

Krajewski is the only quarterback with a touchdown pass on the UConn roster, and he has three of them (with one interception). Beaudry has completed 14 of 21 passes for 158 yards with an interception. Zergiotis is the team’s leading passer with 373 yards, but he has also been intercepted four times this season.

Health warning about mosquitos prompts UConn to move football game vs. USF to noon

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We’ve seen any number of reasons for college football games to be moved or cancelled over the years, most having to do with the weather. Well we can add a rather unique addition to the least this week thanks to the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

According to a release from UConn, the Huskies upcoming game on Saturday against USF is being moved from a 7 p.m. ET kickoff at Rentschler Field in East Hartford up to noon. The reason given for the sudden change? The state’s Department of Public Health issued a warning about mosquitos in the region and the mosquito-borne eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus.

“Though the risk is low, as a precaution, we want to take any reasonable steps we can to help reduce the exposure of student-athletes, staff and the public to this illness,” UConn President Thomas Katsouleas said in a statement. “I want to thank the conference, USF and our own division of athletics for their flexibility.”

The game was set to be televised on CBS Sports Network though such plans have obviously changed with relation to this news.

Per the school, mosquitos are most active after dusk and the recommendation was made to reschedule any activities to occur prior to that (and after dawn) so as to minimize any potential exposure to the virus.

It has been a long, strange year for UConn given all the news related to their departure from the AAC and general uncompetitiveness on the field but something says moving a game due to mosquitos might take the cake.

Availability of QB Michael Penix for Indiana vs. UConn remains uncertain

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Whether Indiana is without its starting quarterback yet again for this weekend’s non-conference game remains to be seen.

In the days leading up to the Week 3 game against Ohio State, Michael Penix was listed as a game-time decision because of an unspecified injury; he was subsequently ruled out of what became a Hoosiers loss to the Buckeyes.  Earlier this week, Tom Allen indicated that Penix could again be a game-time decision; with the Week 4 matchup with UConn fast approaching, the quarterback’s status remains decidedly murky.

“We’ll probably know more… [Friday], when we do some things with him in terms of evaluation-wise that will help us a lot to get a gauge,” the head coach said. “Don’t know exactly the status for Saturday yet, but we should know more pretty soon.”

While the football program has yet to divulge the specific nature, it’s believed Penix is dealing with a right knee injury as he was seen watching warmups prior to the OSU game with a brace encasing that joint.

Penix won the starting job over the incumbent Peyton Ramsey coming out of summer camp last month.  In his first two career starts, the redshirt freshman, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear last October, has completed just over 63 percent of his passes for 523 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions as IU has jumped out to a 2-0 start to the season.  He’s also run the ball nine times for another 79 yards.

Ramsey started all 12 games for IU last season as a redshirt sophomore, including one against OSU in which he passed for 322 yards and three touchdowns in a loss to the Buckeyes.  In 2018, Ramsey completed exactly 66 percent of his 447 passes for 2,875 yards, 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

The second start against OSU didn’t go nearly as well for Ramsey as he completed less than 58 percent of his 33 passes for 162 yards, no touchdowns and an interception.

Randy Edsall Bowl is official: Maryland and UConn confirm home-and-home for 2024, 2026

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The Randy Edsall Bowl is on (again).

The current UConn head coach’s school announced a future home-and-home with his old program on Thursday, confirming dates for 2024 and 2026. The Terps will host the first leg of the series in College Park on August 31, 2024 while the Huskies signed up for the back half at Rentschler Field on Sept. 12, 2026.

Maryland has won the only two prior meetings, an initial 1942 contest from way back in the day and a somewhat recent game in West Hartford in 2013 that actually had Edsall as head coach at UMD and the team’s current head coach Mike Locksley serving as the Terps’ offensive coordinator.

The schedule additions are the second and third, respectively, games on the calendar in those years for soon-to-be FBS independent UConn, joining a game at Duke in 2024 and contests against FCS Lafayette and at Tennessee in 2026.

As for Maryland, this series means there’s just one non-conference opening (in 2021) for the Terps left between now and 2025. The school has already announced with home-and-homes with West Virginia, Northern Illinois, Charlotte, Virginia, and Virginia Tech among others over the coming seasons.

While this latest addition would technically be the Randy Edsall Bowl Part II and III, it would be a bit surprising if the longtime Huskies head coach is still around given how things are trending with the program lately.