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Two-game suspensions for Louisiana Tech’s starting QB, star WR

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Suffice to say, Louisiana Tech’s offense will be at less than full strength when it takes the field in Week 12 later on today.

Thursday night, the Tech football program announced that three players, junior wide receiver Adrian Hardy, senior outside linebacker James Jackson and quarterback J’Mar Smith, have been suspended for Friday night’s game against Marshall.  Hardy and Smith will also be suspended for next Saturday’s road game against UAB.

Per the school, all three players were slapped with their respective suspensions because of violations of unspecified athletic department policies.

“This matter is being handled internally,” the program said in a statement. “Neither [head football coach Skip] Holtz nor athletic department officials will address this further.”

Smith is in his third season as Tech’s starting quarterback and has thrown for 2,483 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions in 2019.  Smith will be replaced in the starting lineup by Aaron Allen, who has thrown nine passes this year and will be making the first start of his collegiate career.

Hardy leads the Bulldogs in receiving yards with 482 and is second in receptions with 39.

Tech is in the midst of an eight-game winning streak that has them sitting atop the West Division of Conference USA at a perfect 5-0.  Their only loss came in the season opener against No. 19 Texas.

Thorpe Award semifinalists highlighted by LSU’s Grant Delpit

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You know how I know we’re closing in on the end of yet another regular season? When college football awards start creeping into my email inbox or Twitter timeline.

The most recent such phenomenon to rear its head is the Jim Thorpe Award, with the trophy handed out annually to the nation’s top defensive back announcing the 14 players who have been named semifinalists for this year’s honor. The only semifinalist from a year ago to appear on this year’s list is LSU safety Grant Delpit.

Delpit is one of four defensive backs from the SEC, the most of any single conference. The only other leagues with more than one semifinalist are the ACC and Big 12 with two apiece. Football independents also accounted for a pair.

The only sophomore to make the cut is Oregon’s Jevon Holland.

Last year’s winner was Georgia’s DeAndre Baker, who beat out fellow finalists Julian Love of Notre Dame and Greedy Williams of LSU.

Below is the complete list of 2019 Jim Thorpe Award semifinalists:

Luq Barcoo, San Diego State, Sr.
Essang Bassey, Wake Forest, Sr.
Douglas Coleman III, Texas Tech, Sr.
Grant Delpit, LSU, Jr.
Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame, Sr.
AJ Green, Oklahoma State, Sr.
CJ Henderson, Florida, Jr.
Jevon Holland, Oregon, So.
Xavier McKinney, Alabama, Jr.
Tanner Muse, Clemson, *Gr.
Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State, Jr.
JR Reed, Georgia, Sr.
Elijah Riley, Army, Sr.
Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech, Jr.

Kansas and Louisiana Tech reportedly ink home-and-home series starting in 2027

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Les Miles is returning to the state of Louisiana.

Ok, well, Miles’ successor is probably headed to the Bayou State but it’s nice to think about the possibilities of the Mad Hatter returning to the region where he reached the pinnacle of college football success.

Sadly Miles’ Kansas program won’t be playing at his old haunt of LSU, but reportedly will head to Ruston instead to take on Louisiana Tech. Per FBSchedules, a contract between the two schools says that a home-and-home between the Jayhawks and Bulldogs will kickoff on Sept. 18, 2027 in Lawrence and have a return date set for Sept. 16, 2028 at Tech’s Joe Aillet Stadium.

That 2028 game will be the first time the two programs have played in Ruston though the pair have met four times before, with Charlie Weis leading KU to a rousing 13-10 victory over the Bulldogs in their most recent meeting in 2013.

Both schools still have work to do in terms of filling out the rest of their non-conference schedules as the 2027/2028 dates are just the second game on the docket for Kansas (a Washington State series being the other) and the first for LaTech. 

Not for nothing, but LSU also has openings in 2027/2028 if Kansas AD Jeff Long really wants to double down in the state as well….

Ryan named title sponsor of Conference USA title game

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The Conference USA football championship game now has a title sponsor and it is…. Ryan. No, not Ryan of the Gosling variety, or Nolan, or your friend from college. It’s Ryan, a “leading global tax services and software provider,” a Dallas-based LLC that offers corporate tax services firm.

The Ryan refers to the firm’s founder, G. Brint Ryan, a North Texas graduate and the namesake of UNT’s business school.

The firm will sponsor the game through 2021.

“It is an honor to welcome Ryan as the title sponsor for our premiere football game for the next three years,” commissioner Judy MacLeod said. “With Ryan, we have an outstanding local partner that will be involved not only in our sports, but also in our community efforts on campus in conjunction with the C-USA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. We are excited to move forward and want to thank Chairman and CEO G. Brint Ryan for his team’s efforts in making this partnership a reality.”

Ryan is the third title sponsor of the C-USA Championship, now in its 15th year. Dynacraft BSC sponsored it in 2016-17, and Globe Life did the same in 2018.

All ten FBS conferences now stage their own title games thanks to the Sun Belt’s addition in 2018, and eight have title sponsors:

  • Dr. Pepper — Big 12, SEC, ACC
  • Discover — Big Ten
  • 76 — Pac-12
  • Hampton by Hilton — Mountain West
  • Marathon Petroleum — MAC

The 15th Conference USA Championship, and the inaugural Ryan Conference USA Championship, will take place at the home of the winningest division champion on Dec. 7 (1:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network).

Nebraska to host Louisiana Tech on 25th anniversary of the Troy Edwards Game

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On Aug. 29, 1998, Nebraska and Louisiana Tech staged what has to be categorized as the most memorable 56-27 game in college football history. At the height of their Big Red powers with three national championships in the previous four seasons, Nebraska had the better team, but they did not have the best player on the Memorial Stadium astroturf that day.

Louisiana Tech wideout Troy Edwards absolutely dominated the proud Blackshirts that day, catching 21 passes for an FBS-record 405 yards and three touchdowns. Edwards used the game as a springboard for a historic season, catching 140 passes for 1,996 yards and an FBS-record 27 touchdowns. (Both the single-game yards and single-season touchdown records stand to this day.) That December, Edwards won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver.

“He kept telling us that we couldn’t cover him and that he was the best,” Nebraska safety Mike Brown told the Omaha World-Herald after the game. “And he is the best.”

Nebraska was never in danger of losing the game, leading 14-0 after the first quarter and 35-6 at the half. As would be expected, the Huskers dominated the Bulldogs on the ground, out-rushing them 289 to minus-21. But La Tech quarterback Tim Rattay went 46-of-68 for 590 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. Most of that damage went to Edwards, obviously; with scores of 52, 94 and 80 yards, Edwards racked up 226 yards on his three touchdown catches alone.

All this to say, the schools will get together in 2023 to unofficially celebrate one of the most impressive individual performances in college football history. Nebraska announced Thursday it will host Louisiana Tech on Sept. 23, 2023.

The game will be the schools’ first reunion since the Troy Edwards Game (they played in 2006) and third all-time. It also completes the non-conference schedule for both teams — Nebraska will visit Colorado (Sept. 9) and host Northern Illinois (Sept. 16), while Louisiana Tech visits SMU (Sept. 2) and hosts Baylor (Sept. 16) and Bowling Green (Sept. 30).