If Michigan wants to make it to the Rose Bowl in the near future, they’ll have to do so by overcoming long odds and winning the Big Ten to make it to the Granddaddy of Them All.
That’s the result of the school announcing on Friday that they have terminated a future home-and-home series with UCLA for 2022 and 2023. At the heart of the move is a purely financial motivation: the Wolverines want to have seven home games both years and needed to axe the Bruins from the slate in order to do so.
As a result of the changes, Michigan has announced that they have replaced the UCLA series with a game against Hawaii for Sept. 10, 2022 at the Big House and will host another Group of Five program in East Carolina on Sept. 2, 2023.
The Wolverines do have high-profile meetings with Washington, Texas and Oklahoma still on the schedule in the 2020’s but the decision to end the games against UCLA still leaves non-conference openings in both 2022 and 2023 for the program. Could that be a potential opening for continuing their series with Notre Dame?
We’ll probably find out more on that front down the road on that front but for now we’re left with the maize and blue avoiding the powder blues on the field in an unfortunate move for fans of both sides.
TV revenues have skyrocketed for those schools in the Power Five and now it’s time for a few leagues in the Group of Five to get their turn at the table. Following large deals from the MAC and AAC in recent years, the Mountain West is the next man up and it appears as though a deal could be wrapped up soon.
Speaking to reporters at the conference’s basketball media day on Tuesday, commissioner Craig Thompson said he expects something to be announced at some point in the next 30 days or so on the media rights front. One sticking point for both the league and member schools? The number of late night kickoffs (often pushing past 7 or 8 p.m. local) involved in the deal, which is expected to carry a higher price-tag precisely because MWC schools can kickoff that late to fill such time slots on the TV schedule.
“Let me just say this, there will be 8 o’clock tipoffs and kickoffs,” Thompson said, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. “I know that’s a concern for everybody – for fans, administrators. If we can possibly get the number 7 in there it would be a real bonus.”
Late night kickoffs have been an issue for Pac-12 schools as well in recent years and their Group of Five neighbor understands just as much the tough calculus to make between a game starting at a reasonable hour and the bigger paycheck that awaits when filling a time slot too late for most.
Thompson declined to get into much in terms of what kind of dollars the conference is expecting but it would be a surprise if it’s not a hefty raise over their current deals with ESPN and CBS Sports. Interestingly the commissioner noted that for as successful as the MWC has been this year, the kind of on-field performance that comes with knocking off several of their Power Five brethren isn’t really a factor in negotiations.
While there are a lot of unknowns as a result with the upcoming TV deal in terms of years, money and partners, it was already revealed earlier this year that Boise State’s sweetheart carve-out that pays the Broncos extra money will remain once the new contracts are signed. That carve-out dates back to when the school briefly left for the Big East but decided to remain in the MWC during one of the many rounds of conference realignment.
Industry observers and conference fans are anxiously awaiting details given how long the process has played out but it seems everybody won’t have to wait much longer before things become official out West.
No starting quarterback? No problem for No. 14 Boise State, which put together one of their best all-around games of the season to thump Hawaii 59-37 and tighten their grip atop the Mountain West (and Group of Five) standings.
The Broncos lost freshman signal-caller Hank Bachmeier early in the second quarter when he took a helmet to the hip and was forced to leave the game. The starter threw for 58 yards and a touchdown (adding 28 yards rushing) but walked around the sidelines gingerly in street clothes in the second half and didn’t seem at all close to returning to action.
While that would normally be concerning for head coach Bryan Harsin, that didn’t turn out to be the case as the offense just kept rolling. Backup Chase Cord came in and threw for 175 yards and three TD’s while third-stringer Jaylon Henderson added a further 82 yards and a score as well down the stretch.
Perhaps the bigger news was the breakout performance from freshman tailback George Holani, who ran for 64 yards and six points but also zipped around out of the backfield and caught two touchdowns. He formed quite a nice little tandem with junior Robert Mahone (74 yards rushing, 1 TD). John Hightower also had a nice night with seven catches, 141 yards and two trips into the end zone.
It was a balanced effort for BSU too as their defense forced three early turnovers (resulting in 21 points the other way) to take all the drama out well before halftime.
The end result was not what a motivated Hawaii squad wanted after coming into the game with high hopes of making noise in conference play. The team remained winless on the blue turf and the early deficit proved just too much to overcome against the Group of Five’s highest ranked team. QB Cole McDonald threw for 251 yards and three touchdowns (rushing for 54 and another score) but it was good enough in the end against a superior opponent.
Boise State meanwhile, just keeps rolling along in impressive fashion. They’ll have a tricky trip to BYU next Saturday but it’s been more of the Broncos squad we’re used to seeing in conference play even if their starting quarterback was taken out of action early on.
No. 14 Boise State took a commanding 31-14 lead over Hawaii into halftime of their Mountain West clash on the blue turf but it might have been a costly first half for the Broncos long term.
That’s the result of a second quarter scramble from freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier, who took a hard hit to his hip and had to be helped off the field. The youngster (58 yards and a touchdown passing, 28 rushing prior to the injury) spent the rest of half in the team’s injury tent and does not appear as though he’ll be returning to action in this game after barely being able to walk
Luckily BSU didn’t skip much of a beat without him against a lackluster Rainbow Warriors defense. Backup signal-caller Chase Cord wound up throwing for 69 yards and a touchdown of his own as the team capitalized on three turnovers on a short field that they turned into 21 points. Tailback Robert Mahone chipped in with 40 yards and a score as well.
Hawaii fans were none too happy about some of those turnovers given how at least one of them came on a questionable call but things are trending toward another tough showing in this rare trip to Boise (0-6 all-time on the blue turf). QB Cole McDonald was directly responsible for one of the giveaways on a fumble but did throw for 157 yards and two TD’s as the Run ‘n Shoot was somewhat hit or miss in the first half.
While this was shaping up to be a huge conference matchup between two teams with a combined 9-1 record and several Power Five victories between them, the reality has been anything but in a one-sided affair up in Idaho. The Broncos are understandably happy about the scoreboard right now but most of the fans at Albertsons Stadium are no doubt wondering about their starting quarterback’s health going forward.
A quick primer on who, what and where to look for/at as we head into Week 3 of the 2019 college football season.
WEEK 3 STORYLINES
- When ESPN‘s College GameDay traveling roadshow sets up camp in Ames for a game that decides the winner of the aptly-named Cy-Hawk Trophy, you know you’re in for, at least on paper, a light weekend of football schedule-wise. Thanks to Syracuse tripping over itself in Week 2 and Iowa State nearly getting knocked off by an FCS opponent in the opener, it’s Blutarsky’s GPA when it comes to Top 25 vs. Top 25 matchups in Week 3. The last time there were no ranked teams facing each other? Oct. 14, 2017 — and No. 2 Clemson was knocked off by unranked Syracuse on the road that weekend. This weekend, No. 1 Clemson faces… unranked Syracuse… on the road.
- It’s only Week 3, but Jeremy Pruitt and Chip Kelly are in more dire need of a win than any white man in history. Pruitt has Tennessee off to its worst start to a season since 1988; under Kelly, UCLA has started a season 0-2 in back-to-back seasons for the first time since World War II. Fortunately for UT, FCS Chattanooga is on tap and the Viols are 28-point favorites (then again, they were 26-point favorites over Georgia State and we all know how that turned out). Unfortunately for UCLA — but fortunately for those looking to score free tickets — No. 5 Oklahoma is up next. If/when the Bruins suffer what seems like an inevitable loss, it will mark the first time since 1920-21 that they have gone 0-3 in back-to-back seasons.
- In the first two games of the 2019 season, Florida State’s defense has allowed a combined 54 second-half points in a 1-1 start that includes the season-opening collapse against Boise State. Enter Jim Leavitt, who Willie Taggart added this week in a defensive analyst role. Leavitt served as Taggart’s defensive coordinator during the latter’s one-and-done season as Oregon’s head coach. During his two seasons in Eugene, the Ducks finished tied for 63rd nationally in scoring defense in 2018 (27 points per game) and 77th in 2017 (28.3 ppg); the year prior to Leavitt’s arrival, they were 126th (out of 128 FBS teams at the time) at 41.4 ppg. FSU travels to Charlottesville Saturday to face No. 25 Virginia.
- With a Week 2 win over Western Michigan, Mark Dantonio tied Duffy Daugherty‘s Michigan State record for most career wins at 109. If, unlike last year, No. 18 MSU can handle Arizona State this weekend, Dantonio, in the midst of his 13th season with the Spartans, will surpass the College Football Hall of Famer and stand alone in school lore with 110 wins.
- No. 21 Maryland will take on Temple this weekend. Maryland is leading the nation in scoring at 71 points per game (Penn State is next at 62); Temple is tied for 18th in the country in scoring defense at 12 ppg.
- So, as you see, these notes signal very loudly that Week 3 is light in the britches and short in the wallet, as my grandfather used to say to describe one of his not-so-favorite sons-in-law. Which, of course, means that utter and absolute chaos will very likely ensue…
SIX-PACK OF MUST-SEE GAMES
- No. 6 Ohio State (-16½) at Indiana — Each of the past three seasons, a ranked OSU team lost to an unranked Big Ten opponent on the road in a game in which they were favored. Are the Hoosiers the Buckeyes’ trap-game Waterloo this season?
- No. 19 Iowa (-2) at Iowa State — As referenced earlier, this would’ve been a Top 25 matchup if then-No. 21 Iowa State hadn’t barely escaped Northern Iowa in triple overtime and dropped out of the rankings as a result. The Hawkeyes have won the last four games in the rivalry; the Cyclones last home win in the series came in 2011.
- No. 20 Washington State (-9) vs. Houston — This Friday-night, neutral-site affair is mentor vs. protégé as Wazzu’s Mike Leach had Houston’s Dana Holgorsen on his Texas Tech coaching staff from 2000-09. Not only will this be the first time Leach and Holgorsen have been on opposing sidelines as head coaches, it’ll also be the first time since 1988 — and just the fourth time ever — the two schools have squared off in football.
- No. 2 Alabama (-25½) at South Carolina — Alabama will be playing its first true road game of the 2019 season. The last time these two teams met at Williams-Brice Stadium, the Gamecocks upset the top-ranked Crimson Tide in 2010. Unless I’m mistaken, though, neither Stephen Garcia nor Marcus Lattimore nor Alshon Jeffery will be suiting up this weekend.
- Stanford at No. 17 UCF (-7½) — UCF will have two regular-season chances to prove its worth to national pundits against Power Five foes — this one at home, in Week 4 vs. Pitt. Stanford is coming off a 25-point drubbing at the hands of USC that dropped them out of the Top 25, while UCF has beaten FAMU and FAU by a combined score of 110-14.
- No. 9 Florida (-8) at Kentucky — If there’s a revenge game in Week 3 and despite the public pronouncements, it’s this one. Week 2 last year, Kentucky beat Florida for the first time since Nov. 15, 1986, ending the Wildcats’ streak of 31 straight losses to the Gators. That game was in Gainesville; this one is in Lexington.
BEST/WORST WAGERS OF WEEK 3
- BEST: No. 1 Clemson at Syracuse (+28). Clemson is, obviously, the better team, but on this weekend they won’t be four touchdowns better than Syracuse at home — the Orange’s spitting the bed against Maryland in Week 2 notwithstanding.
- WORST: No. 5 Oklahoma at UCLA (+22½). Take the Bruins and the points at your own peril as the Sooners are primed to deal out a historic beatdown on Chip Kelly‘s woebegone squad.
- COVER SPECIAL: Hawaii (+21) at No. 23 Washington. Hawaii has beaten two Pac-12 opponents (Arizona, Oregon State) to start the 2019 season. Run, don’t walk, to your cyber betting window and lay that money on the Rainbow Warriors to cover.
HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH
- Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma (Last week: No. 1) — Three touchdowns and 259 yards passing in a half’s worth of Week 2 work vs. an FCS foe would’ve been more than enough to maintain the top slot; working out like a boss immediately after the win and prior to the postgame press conference solidified it.
- Joe Burrow, QB, LSU (No. 8) — Nine touchdown passes in two games this season for Burrow, giving him 25 in 15 appearances since transferring from Ohio State to LSU; in the two years prior to his arrival, Tiger quarterbacks accounted for 29 in 25 games.
- Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama (No. 2) — In just over a half of play vs. New Mexico State, the junior completed 16-of-24 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns. He also scored another on the ground.
- Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (No. 5) — In his first two career starts, the Georgia transfer has been responsible for nine total touchdowns (six passing, three rushing).
- Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin (No. 4) — Taylor has three receiving touchdowns in two games after never catching one his first two seasons. Oh, and he also has five touchdowns on the ground for good measure.
- Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas (No. 6) — Even in a loss to Burrow’s Tigers, Ehlinger shined statistically as he totaled 401 yards and four touchdowns through the air.
- Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson (No. 7) — The sophomore has been fair to middlin’ the first two games, throwing more interceptions (three) than touchdowns (two).
- Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon (No. 9) — Five touchdowns, 310 yards passing in a blowout win over Nevada in Week 2.
- Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson (No. 3) — After 205 yards and three touchdowns in the opener, he put up 53 and zero in Week 2.
- Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama (No. 10) — As the token non-QB/RB, Jeudy is making a case to be taken out of the No. 10 slot as this past weekend he tied a school single-game record with three receiving touchdowns. The junior’s statline this season is 18-240-4.
(DROPPED OUT: None)
WEEK 3 BRAZEN PREDICTIONS
BRYAN FISCHER (@BryanDFischer): Given the slate of lackluster matchups (editor’s note: that’s being way too kind), I think we’re in for some chaos this weekend. I’ll go with four ranked teams getting upset on Saturday, with at least two getting upended at home.
ZACH BARNETT (@zach_barnett): Tennessee drops to 0-3. See the thing people don’t understand about Chattanooga is… okay, no. Mack Brown springs his third straight upset, moving the Mack Attack to 3-0. UNC is a three-point underdog for Friday’s non-conference game at Wake Forest; I would take them as three-point favorites. Sam Howell continues making the plays that need to be made and one of the best stories of this young season continues.
KEVIN MCGUIRE (@KevinOnCFB): Maryland has been scoring plenty of points to start the season and takes their high-flying, rejuvenated offense on the road this week. They are due for a letdown, and Temple is the team to give them their first tough battle of the year. The Owls get defensive at home in The Linc and the Terrapins go home with their first loss of the season, dropping them out of the top 25 as quickly as they entered. The AAC has a solid week as UCF sends Stanford home with a loss too.
JOHN TAYLOR (@CFTalk): Not only will No. 17 UCF win and cover, but the Group of Five school will hand Stanford its worst loss since Washington waxed them 44-6 in September of 2016.
NFL DRAFT PROSPECT WATCH
This week, our pals over at Rotoworld take an in-depth look at matchups in games such as Clemson-Syracuse and Oklahoma USC. For the entire extensively-detailed piece, click HERE.