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Appalachian State stays in the Group of 5 race with big win at Georgia State

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No team from the Sun Belt Conference has ever appeared in one of the New Years Six bowl games since the implementation of the BCS, but No. 25 Appalachian State (9-1, 5-1 Sun Belt) will remain in the running to bring that drought to an end this season. The Mountaineers roared back to turn a 21-7 deficit in the first quarter to rout Georgia State (6-4, 3-3 Sun Belt) Saturday night in Atlanta, 56-27. The win moves Appalachian State one big step closer to playing in the second annual Sun Belt Conference championship game at the end of the season.

Appalachian State took over the game in the second quarter with a 21-0 advantage on the scoreboard, turning a 21-14 game in favor of Georgia State into a 35-21 halftime lead. The Mountaineers weren’t up 56-21 before the Panthers managed to score again in the fourth quarter. Appalachian State quarterback Zac Thomas may not have had the best start to the game but ended his night with 256 passing yards and four touchdowns through the air and one more on the ground (along with 52 rushing yards). Both Thomas and Georgia State quarterback Dan Ellington threw interceptions that were returned for touchdowns, but that was the only mistake that hurt Thomas all night. Ellington tossed a second interception in the game as the Panthers could not manage to carry the momentum of their fast start past the first quarter.

App State receiver Corey Xavier-Sutton led all players with eight catches for 173 yards and three of the touchdown passes thrown by Thomas. Appalachian State had 553 yards of offense in the win, with 280 on the ground and 273 in the passing game.

Only conference champions from the Group of Five are eligible for a spot in the New Years Six bowl lineup. If Appalachian State ends the season with the Sun Belt title and just one loss, they would likely be a strong candidate even if they need a little help from the other conferences, namely the American Athletic Conference and the Mountain West Conference. Appalachian State can punch their ticket to the Sun Belt Conference championship game next week at home with a win against Texas State or a Georgia Southern loss. A tie between the two programs would send Georgia Southern to the conference championship game due to a head-to-head tiebreaker. Georgia Southern defeated Appalachian State 24-21 a few weeks ago.

We’ll find out on Tuesday night where Appalachian State ranks in the College Football Playoff selection committee’s rankings compared to other Group of 5 contenders Cincinnati (beat USF with a last-second field goal), Memphis and Boise State. The highest-ranked Group of Five champion will be selected to play in a New Years Six bowl game.

Georgia State will look to rebound next week at home against South Alabama (1-9, 0-6 Sun Belt).

Appalachian State scores 28 straight points to lead Georgia State at halftime

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Looking for a game or two to keep on your Group of 5 radar this evening? No. 25 Appalachian State is leading Georgia State 35-21 in Atlanta as the Mountaineers hope to remain in the running for a spot in the New Years Six bowl lineup at the end of the year.

Georgia State got the scoring started after the defense came up tall with two consecutive three-and-outs. After being forced to punt after a three-and-out, Appalachian State recovered a Georgia State fumble on the punt return by Quavian White. But the Panthers forced a second straight three-and-out to force another punt. Dan Ellington completed a short touchdown pass to Devin Gentry at the end of an 84-yard drive for the 7-0 lead.

Appalachian State answered with Zac Thomas completing a 12-yard touchdown pass to Corey Sutton, but big plays by the Panthers later in the first quarter would see Georgia State build a 21-7 lead. A 67-yard run by Destin Coates gave Georgia State the lead right back, and a Chris Bacon interception return for a touchdown off Thomas had the Panthers up two touchdowns. Thomas shrugged off the mistake and led the Mountaineers on a touchdown drive once they stepped back on the field. Another pass to Sutton was good for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 21-14 before the end of the first quarter.

The Mountaineers came back to tie things up at 21-21 with a Thomas touchdown run midway through the second quarter, and the defense gave the Mountaineers their first lead of the game when Shaun Jolley picked off a pass by Ellington and ran 30 yards the other way for the go-ahead touchdown.

We’ll see if Appalachian State can avoid taking its second loss of the season and remain in the driver’s seat for a spot in the first Sun Belt Conference championship game at the end of the year.

LSU’s Joe Brady, Ohio State’s Jeff Hafley among nominees for Boyles Award as CFB’s top assistant coach

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The college football awards process is a pretty simple four phase process as you go from watch list season to the actual season to the semifinalist lists to the actual awards being announced in early December. As we approach Week 12 of the 2019 campaign, we’re firmly into the third phase of announcing a narrowing of the field and limiting who can actually take some hardware home after the regular season is finished.

To that end, The Frank & Barbara Broyles Foundation announced on Wednesday the 41-person strong list of nominees for the Broyles Award, which goes to college football’s top assistant coach. As you would expect, there are quite a few big names under consideration as the assistants in question have either helped lead remarkable turnarounds with their specific side of the ball or have helped elevate their team into conference and/or the national title conversation.

Here’s the full list of 41 names and their titles:

ALABAMA – Steve Sarkisian, Offensive Coordinator/QB

APPALACHIAN STATE – Ted Roof, Defensive Coordinator

ARKANSAS STATE – Keith Heckendorf, Offensive coordinator/QB

AUBURN – Kevin Steele, Defensive Coordinator

BALL STATE – Joey Lynch, Offensive Coordinator/QB

BAYLOR – Phil Snow, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties

BYU – Aaron Roderick, Passing Game Coordinator/QB

CALIFORNIA – Tim DeRuyter, Defensive Coordinator

CENTRAL MICHIGAN – Charlie Frye, Offensive Coordinator/QB

CINCINNATI – Marcus Freeman, Defensive Coordinator

CLEMSON – Jeff Scott, Co-Offensive Coordinator/WR

FLORIDA – Billy Gonzalez, Wide Receivers

GEORGIA – Dan Lanning, Defensive Coordinator/Outside LBs

GEORGIA STATE – Brad Glenn, Offensive Coordinator

INDIANA – Kalen DeBoer, Offensive Coordinator/QB

IOWA – Phil Parker, Defensive Coordinator/DB

IOWA STATE – Tom Manning, Offensive Coordinator/Run Game Coordinator

LOUISVILLE – Dwayne Ledfors, Offensive Line

LOUISIANA – Ron Roberts, Defensive Coordinator

LSU – Joe Brady, Passing Game Coordinator/WR

MEMPHIS – Pete Lembo, Special Teams Coordinator

MICHIGAN – Don Brown, Defensive Coordinator

MINNESOTA – Kirk Ciarrocca, Offensive Coordinator/QB

MISSOURI – Ryan Walters, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties

NAVY – Brian Newberry, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties

OHIO STATE – Jeff Hafley, Co-Defensive Coordinator/Secondary

OKLAHOMA – Alex Grinch, Defensive Coordinator/ Safeties

OLE MISS – Mike MacIntyre, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties

OREGON – Andy Avalos, Defensive Coordinator

OREGON STATE – Brian Lindgren, Offensive Coordinator/QB

PENN STATE – Brent Pry, Defensive Coordinator/LB

PITTSBURGH – Randy Bates, Defensive Coordinator

SAN JOSÉ STATE – Ryan Gunderson, Quarterbacks/Passing Game Coordinator

SMU – Rhett Lashlee, Offensive Coordinator/QB

TROY – Ryan Pugh, Offensive Coordinator/OL

TULANE – Will Hall, Offensive Coordinator/

UAB – David Reeves, Defensive Coordinator

UCF – Randy Shannon, Defensive Coordinator

UTAH – Morgan Scalley, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties

WESTERN KENTUCKY – Clayton White, Defensive Coordinator/CB

WISCONSIN – Jim Leonhard, Defensive Coordinator

Obviously there’s a ton of well deserving candidates but it might be hard to top LSU’s Brady for the award given how big of a jump the Tigers’ offense has made with his arrival in Baton Rouge. Ohio State’s Hafley and Oklahoma’s Grinch also have made huge strides with their respective teams but even at the Group of Five level there’s a ton of guys who have been terrific this season.

The winner will be announced on Tuesday, December 10th and the award is usually a good sign for whoever takes home the trophy becoming a head coach in the near future. Former Alabama OC Mike Locksley won the Broyles Award last year while past winners have included Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley and current Texas coach Tom Herman when he was at Ohio State.

Nearly two dozen teams sit at five wins as 2019 bowl pool stands at 23

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Entering Week 8, there were 12 teams — SMU, Clemson, Baylor, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Penn State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Boise State, Alabama, Florida, LSU — that had reached the requisite six wins to become bowl-eligible. Another 19 sat at five wins coming into last weekend, with the opportunity to join the even dozen as bowl-eligible as well.

Exiting last Saturday’s action, a total of 11 teams — Appalachian State, Auburn, Cincinnati, Georgia, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, Oregon, San Diego State, UAB, Utah, Wake Forest — were officially added to a bowl pool population that is now up to 23.

With Week 9 upon us, there are 23 teams that currently sit one win below the bowl-eligibility threshold. Those nearly two dozen schools who can join those listed above are:

  • Air Force
  • Arizona State
  • Central Michigan
  • Georgia State
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Iowa State
  • Liberty
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Navy
  • Notre Dame
  • Pitt
  • Temple
  • Texas
  • Tulane
  • UCF
  • Virginia
  • Virginia Tech
  • Washington
  • Western Kentucky
  • Wyoming

Two of those listed, Louisiana and Virginia Tech, can’t hit six wins as they are on a bye this weekend. There are also three games involving six others — Michigan at Notre Dame; Tulane at Navy; and UCF at Temple.

On the upper end, up to 18 schools could become bowl-eligible with a win this weekend.  That means, technically, a little more than half of the postseason openings could be filled with five weeks left in the regular season.

This year, there are 40 bowl games, including the two College Football Playoff semifinal matchups (Fiesta Bowl, Peach Bowl). That means, of course, that the bowl pool will require 80 of the 130 FBS schools to reach six wins — or five if the bowls have to dredge the below-.500 teams — to fill all of the postseason slots.

Justin Fields, Jalen Hurts two of 16 QBs added to Manning Award midseason watch list

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By most accounts, there are currently four viable contenders for the 2019 Heisman Trophy. Two of them had already caught the eye of the Manning Award; this week, the other two officially drew the honor’s attention as well.

Thursday, the Manning Award, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the only major trophy to take into account postseason performance, announced that it has added 16 quarterbacks to its midseason watch list. The two most noteworthy additions are Ohio State’s Justin Fields and Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts.

Both Fields and Hurts came to their current schools as offseason transfers, the former from Georgia and the latter from Alabama. Fields was granted a waiver by the NCAA for immediate eligibility while Hurts landed at Norman as a graduate transfer.

Of the 16 additions, four come from the Big Ten, three each from the AAC and the Pac-12 and two from the ACC. Per the award’s release, “[t]he newcomers include six seniors, five juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen.”

Below is the entire list of 16 midseason additions to the Manning Award’s watch list: