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Conference USA releases 2020 football schedule

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The calendar reads 2020 and now Conference USA is ready to start filling in dates this fall for the upcoming football campaign.

In a release issued on Wednesday, the league announced dates and opponents for their 2020 football schedule. You can find team-by-team schedules here or the overall composite week-by-week schedule here.

CUSA will once again play eight conference games and will essentially see the league slate from last season flip venues from home to road. The divisional alignment is set to remain the same, with 14 teams split evenly across an East and West Division.

There will be plenty of new faces for the upcoming campaign in the conference, including at reigning champion Florida Atlantic after Lane Kiffin’s departure to Ole Miss and the hiring of former Florida State head coach Willie TaggartJeff Traylor also takes over at UTSA and Ricky Rahne will be the new head coach at Old Dominion.

The Conference USA title game is also scheduled for Saturday, December 5 and will mark the quite the anniversary as the league begins its 25th season of play on the gridiron.

Mike Norvell hires Charlotte OC for Florida State staff

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For Mike Norvell, his first Florida State coaching staff is nearly complete.

Sunday, FSU announced that Alex Atkins is the latest assistant hired by the new head coach.  Atkins will serve as the Seminoles’ offensive line coach.  In its press release, the program noted that Atkins “will begin his new role Jan. 2.”

Additionally, Chris Thomsen will coach FSU’s tight ends, the school confirmed.  Previously, Thomsen had been the line coach at TCU for three years before leaving for FSU.

“Alex is one of the rising stars in college football,” Norvell said in a statement. “Coach Atkins has showcased his ability to recruit and develop talent on the offensive line at an elite level. This has allowed him to consistently rise in the coaching profession. The leadership in detail and organizational skills he has possessed as an assistant head coach and offensive coordinator shows he will be a tremendous asset to our program. He is a relentless recruiter as well as relationship builder with the majority of his career focused on the state of Georgia, which will allow us to continue to attract elite-level talent to FSU.”

This past season, Atkins was the offensive coordinator at Charlotte.  He also served as the Conference USA school’s line coach.

Prior to that, he had been the line coach at Tulane (2016-18) and Georgia Southern (2014-15).

“I’m honored to have such an incredible opportunity to coach at one of the premier programs in college football,” Atkins said. “This is the type of job you work your whole life to be offered. I’m excited for the future with Coach Norvell and looking forward to impacting current and future Florida State student-athletes.”

With Atkins’ hiring, Norvell has now filled nine of his 10 on-field assistant positions.  The others:

  • Kenny Dillingham, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks (HERE)
  • Ron Dugans, wide receivers (HERE)
  • Chris Thomsen, offensive assistant (HERE)
  • Adam Fuller, defensive coordinator (HERE)
  • Odell Haggins, defensive line (HERE)
  • Chris Marve, linebackers coach/defensive running-game coordinator (HERE)
  • TJ Rushing, defensive backs (HERE)
  • John Papuchis, special teams coordinator/defensive ends (HERE)

Buffalo claims first-ever bowl win, runs past Charlotte in Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl

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Both Buffalo and Charlotte entered Saturday’s Bahamas Bowl looking for their respective program’s first-ever bowl win.  In the end, it was the school that had a few hundred miles further to travel down to the islands that can make that claim.

At the sixth annual Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl, it was the Bulls jumping out to a 17-0 halftime lead. From there, the MAC school dropped it into cruise control and rolled to a 31-9 win.  After the half, the closest the 49ers could get was to within 15 at 24-9 early in the fourth quarter. A Jaret Patterson touchdown run from 10 yards out with under two minutes remaining officially iced the game.

Speaking of Patterson, the running back was the unquestioned star of the game.

The sophomore entered the contest sixth nationally with 1,626 yards on the ground.  Exiting it, he did little to hurt that standing as he totaled a game-high 172 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries.  This was Patterson’s eighth 100-yard game of the season and sixth in a row.

The 32 carries, incidentally, set a Bahamas Bowl record.

As we had previously alluded to, the win marked Buffalo’s first in a bowl in the program’s FBS history, which dates back to 1962.  The Bulls had played in three bowl games previously (2018, 2013, 2008).  The Bulls also have 18 wins the last two seasons, the most-ever in a two-year span.

For Charlotte, in just their fifth season at the FBS level, this was its first-ever bowl appearance.  Despite the loss, the seven wins coming into this game this season, in Will Healy‘s first year, are a school record.

In a losing effort, 49ers quarterback Chris Reynolds passed for 191 yards.  Charlotte could get nothing going on the ground, averaging just three yards on its 30 carries in the game.

College Football Bowl Preview: Your Dec. 20 Viewer’s Guide

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Your trusty and semi-daily college football bowl preview that today takes a quick-hit look at the Dec. 20 bowl menu, which on Opening Day features a pair of games with schools from three different conferences — two from the MAC, one each from Conference USA and the MAC.

WHO: Buffalo (7-5) vs. Charlotte (7-5)
WHAT: The 6th Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl
WHERE: Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas
WHEN: 2 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: For those curious, the sponsor of the bowl, Makers Wanted, is not a whiskey.  Or a bourbon.  Rather, it serves as the slogan for an industrial park in a Chicago suburb, the largest such park in the United States. … Under fifth-year coach Lance Leipold, Buffalo has already won more games in a two-year span (17) than it has at any other point in its history.  The Bulls are also playing in a bowl game in back-to-back seasons for the first time ever, but are seeking their first-ever postseason win. … Charlotte is even more of a postseason neophyte than today’s opponent.  The 49ers are in just their fifth season at the FBS level, and this will mark their first-ever bowl game. … Charlotte enters that first-ever postseason appearance riding a five-game winning streak, easily the longest in the program’s short history. The old standard? Two in a row, accomplished twice. … Buffalo isn’t exactly freezing cold at the moment, though, as the MAC school won five of six to end the regular season. … If you want one player on which to focus, try Buffalo’s Jaret Patterson (pictured). The sophomore running back leads the MAC and is fifth nationally with 1,626 yards. His 17 rushing touchdowns are also tops in the conference and tied for eighth in the country. … That could prove to be a frightening proposition for Charlotte as the 49ers are 97th in stopping the run (190.8 yards per game).
THE LINE: Charlotte, +6½
THE PREDICTION: Buffalo 27, Charlotte 17

__________

WHO: Utah State (7-5) vs. Kent State (6-6)
WHAT: The 3rd Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl
WHERE: Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2
TICKETS: Click here
THE SKINNY: Utah State’s postseason hopes nearly went up in smoke when three players, including starting quarterback Jordan Love and leading rusher Gerold Bright, were popped for pot, but it has since been confirmed that the trio will play in the game. … Come to think of it, it’s a shame USU isn’t playing in today’s Bahamas Bowl. … Kent State, meanwhile, is bowl-eligible for just the fifth time in the last four decades.  The Golden Flashes last played in a bowl game in 2012, and have played in just two in the program’s FBS history. The MAC school has never won a postseason game. … Kent’s six losses this year are its fewest since that 2012 season.  And, it should be noted, three of those 2019 losses came at the hands of Arizona State, Auburn and Wisconsin. … Kent enters this game riding a three-game winning streak, its longest in seven years.  USU has won three of four entering the postseason. … The Aggies averaged over 50 points per game on offense a year ago; that number has been cut in half this season (25.2 ppg). … What could help USU is Kent and its porous defense. The Golden Flashes give up 31.8 ppg (88th nationally) and 6.3 yards per play (108th). … The two programs have met just twice previously (1973 & 1974).  Each team won one game in that home-and-home. … History, as brief as it is, would suggest this particular game won’t be close. The first two Frisco Bowls had a combined score of 78-10.  To that, I say history be damned.
THE LINE: Kent State, +6
THE PREDICTION: Kent State 31, Utah State 30

Marshall posts a league-high eight First Team All-Conference USA selections

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Florida Atlantic won the conference, but Marshall won the All-Conference USA team.

The Thundering Herd, who finished second to FAU in the East Division, placed eight players on the first team to FAU’s five. (However, three of the eight first-team Herd were specialists.)

The conference will not name individual awards until Wednesday, but here’s betting that Florida Atlantic will have the winner there. Sophomore quarterback Chris Robison threw for nearly 3,400 yards and 26 touchdowns, while tight end Harrison Bryant led all FBS tight ends with 61 grabs and 1,004 yards while scoring seven touchdowns.

Western Kentucky came in third with four first-team selections.


OFFENSE

QB- Chris Robison, R-So., Florida Atlantic
QB- J’Mar Smith, R-Sr., Louisiana Tech
RB- Benny LeMay, Sr., Charlotte
RB- Brenden Knox, R-So., Marshall
OL- Cameron Clark, R-Sr., Charlotte
OL- Junior Diaz, Gr., Florida Atlantic
OL- Brandon Walton, Sr., Florida Atlantic
OL- Levi Brown, R-Sr., Marshall
OL- Miles Pate, R-Sr., WKU
TE- Harrison Bryant, Sr., Florida Atlantic
WR- Jaelon Darden, Jr., North Texas
WR- Quez Watkins, R-Jr., Southern Miss
WR- Lucky Jackson, R-Sr., WKU

DEFENSE
DT- Channing Hames, R-Sr., Marshall
DT- Garrett Marino, R-Sr., UAB
DE- Alex Highsmith, R-Sr., Charlotte
DE- DeAngelo Malone, Jr., WKU
LB- Tavante Beckett, R-Jr., Marshall
LB- Blaze Alldredge, Jr., Rice
LB- Kristopher Moll, Jr., UAB
DB- Meiko Dotson, R-Jr., Florida Atlantic
DB- Amik Robertson, Jr., Louisiana Tech
DB- Chris Jackson, Sr., Marshall
DB- DQ Thomas, Sr., Southern Miss

SPECIAL TEAMS
K- Justin Rohrwasser, R-Sr., Marshall
P- John Haggerty, Jr., WKU
KR- Jaylond Adams, R-So., Southern Miss
PR- Talik Keaton, Fr., Marshall
LS – Matt Beardall, Sr., Marshall