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Fenway Bowl to pit ACC vs. American

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Fenway Park confirmed on Monday that “America’s most beloved ballpark” will indeed host a bowl game this winter, as was reported back in April.

While full details are still forthcoming, the game will pit teams from the ACC and the American.

Fenway Park has hosted a number of games in recent years, but this will be the venue’s first college postseason game. Some might even say Fenway’s entire 107-year history has been building toward the opportunity to host a 7-5 ACC team against an 8-4 American team.

The Red Sox will become the sixth MLB franchise to host a college bowl game in recent years, joining the Yankees (Pinstripe Bowl), Diamondbacks (Cheez-It Bowl), Rays (Gasparilla Bowl), Marlins (the defunct Miami Beach Bowl) and Giants (Redbox Bowl, since moved to Levi’s Stadium).

 

Former four-star West Virginia WR signee lands at Memphis

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After an extended sabbatical, Steven Smothers is back at the FBS level.

As first noted by the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Smothers is now listed as a member of the Memphis football team and appears on the official roster. Head coach Mike Norvell subsequently stated that the wide receiver will not be eligible to play for the Tigers this season.

Smothers will, however, be permitted to practice with his new teammates.  It’s believed next season will be his final year of eligibility.

A four-star member of West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class, Smothers was rated as the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Maryland. After redshirting as a true freshman, Smothers left WVU due to academics prior to the following season.

This past season, after stops at/commitments to two other junior college programs, Smothers played for Fort Scott (Kansas) Community College.

Mizzou’s misery in loss to Wyoming adds to SEC’s Week 1 woes

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It may mean more in the SEC, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more better*. And, most certainly, the conference has had better weekends than what Week 1 wrought.

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 17-point favorites entering Saturday’s opener against Wyoming, Missouri looked every bit the part as they jumped out to a 14-0 lead on the home-standing Cowboys after one quarter of play. A 27-point offensive explosion in the second quarter, though gave the Mountain West Conference school a 27-17 lead heading into halftime; that lead was stretched to 34-17 at one point before the Cowboys held on for a 37-31 upset win over the Tigers.

Regardless of how you spin it, the Mizzou loss was a continuation of what has been a rough opening weekend for the SEC, especially the East Division of the league. How rough? Let us count the ways:

  • First and foremost, Tennessee suffered arguably the worst loss in program history as they fell to 26-point underdog Georgia State in the school’s first home-opening defeat since 1983 and first loss to a Group of Five school since 2008 against… Wyoming, of all teams.
  • South Carolina lost to a North Carolina team that won two games in 2018.
  • Ole Miss lost to Memphis, although at least that loss came against a quality Group of Five foe.
  • Again, Mizzou.
  • Mississippi State needed a very late field goal to put away what was a 10-point win over a Louisiana team that entered the game as a 20-point underdog.
  • TENNESSEE LOST TO A 26-POINT UNDERDOG AT HOME.

Yes, there was Alabama steamrolling Duke as expected… and Auburn outlasting Oregon in the only ranked-on-ranked matchup of Week 1… and LSU, unlike Tennessee, easily handling its business against a Georgia Group of Five school… but still, damn, that was a harsh weekend for The Best Damn Football Conference in the Land.

While we’re here talking about conferences, how about that Mountain West?  In addition to the SEC courtesy of Wyoming, that league has collected Power Five pelts from the ACC (Boise State over Florida State), the Big Ten (Nevada over Purdue) and the Pac-12 (Hawaii over Arizona) in Weeks 0 and 1.

(*Yes, grammar dolts, I know. I’ll take literary license whenever I damn well please.)

Memphis hangs on to beat Ole Miss with strong defensive showing

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It may not have gone quite according to plan for Memphis, but a win over an SEC opponent is a good way to start the season regardless of how it happens. Memphis (1-0) used a good defensive effort and some gutsy play-calling in the fourth quarter to send Ole Miss (0-1) back home with a loss as the Tigers celebrated a 15-10 victory in the Liberty Bowl Saturday afternoon.

After taking a 13-0 lead into halftime, the Tigers stalled in the second half. The opening drive of the second half ended at the Ole Miss 28-yard line with Brady White having a pass intercepted. The mistake didn’t cost Memphis as Ole Miss turned the ball over on downs, but Memphis was forced to punt on the next possession and the Rebels got on the board with a field goal after that. Then, a questionable decision to go for it on 4th & 1 with a pass play cost Memphis. White’s pass was good for a three-yard loss, giving Ole Miss the ball at their 45-yard line. Ole Miss took advantage of the great field position by pulling within three points with a touchdown run by Scottie Phillips from the one-yard line at the end of a 10-play drive.

Memphis typically brings an offense capable of fireworks in any given week, but they were nowhere to be found in this matchup. Fortunately, for Mike Norvell and his program, the defense came to play. Ole Miss managed just one third-down conversion on 10 attempts and the Rebels were limited to just 173 yards. Memphis was not without their list of issues though, including penalties. Memphis was flagged for 10 penalties for 75 yards. The Tigers will very well get the offense on track in the coming weeks, however, but if the defense continues to play this way then Memphis may be a stronger candidate for the AAC championship and perhaps a spot in the New Years Six bowl lineup than predicted.

Ole Miss jumps into SEC play next week with a home game against Arkansas. Memphis will take on Southern.

Dismissed Rutgers LB finds new home at Memphis

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Brendan Devara’s second chance at the FBS level will, as it turns out, come at an AAC school.

In July of last year, it was confirmed that eight Rutgers football players were under investigation for the fraudulent use of credit cards. Two of those players, defensive back K.J. Gray and linebacker Brendan Devera, were dismissed a short time later by head coach Chris Ash for their alleged involvement.

One of those two initial dismissees, Devera, spent the 2018 season at the junior college level.  This week, it was confirmed that the linebacker has enrolled in classes at Memphis and will continue his collegiate playing career with the Tigers.

That continuation won’t be immediate, though, as Devera will not be eligible to play in 2019.  beginning with 2020, though, he’ll have two years of eligibility to use.

Devera was initially accused of being the ringleader of fraudulent scheme that utilized the dark web.  According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Devera avoided jail time after being entered into a pretrial intervention program.  The court also ordered Devera to make restitution.

As a true freshman in 2017, Devera played in 11 games, with most of that action coming on special teams.