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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.

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

Middle Tennessee State’s Zeke Cobb charged in 2018 rape, suspended

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Zeke Cobb‘s collegiate career has been put on hold as he deals with a serious off-field situation.

According to the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal, Cobb was arrested Monday on two counts of rape connected to an alleged assault in September of last year.  An indictment on the rape charges was filed on Nov. 6 of this year, which was later served to Cobb prior to his arrest.

Other than the alleged victim being mentally incapacitated or physically helpless at the time, no details surrounding the incident that led to the arrest and charges have been released.

As a result of the allegations, though, MTSU announced that the redshirt sophomore wide receiver has been indefinitely suspended by the football program.

“Zeke is suspended from our team as we allow the legal process to move forward,” head coach Rick Stockstill said in a statement. “It is very disappointing and, if substantiated, such actions do not represent or reflect the standards we have worked extremely hard to develop for our program.”

After redshirting as a true freshman in 2017 because of injury, Cobb caught one pass for 12 yards in four games last season.  In 2019, Cobb had no catches in six games prior to his suspension.

Ole Miss will pay MTSU $1.5 million to not play a game thanks to UConn

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UConn’s haphazard decision to jettison from AAC membership and embark on life as an FBS Independent starting in 2020 has resulted in a number of surprising dominoes getting pushed over across the country.

The Hartford Courant detailed one such move as the Huskies have attempted to cobble together their upcoming schedule for next season and it somehow involves a seven-figure check, an SEC program and a tiny Conference USA school:

As outlined in a contract, UConn will replace Middle Tennessee State on Mississippi’s 2020 schedule, while committing to host the Blue Raiders at some point (presumably also in 2020). As part of that deal, Mississippi will pay Middle Tennessee State $1.5 million, as the schools had originally planned, even though they won’t actually face each other. UConn will neither receive money from Mississippi nor pay anything to Middle Tennessee State.

Under different circumstances, UConn would likely receive more than $1 million to travel to Mississippi, then pay a smaller amount to get Middle Tennessee State to Rentschler Field. But given the need to build a 2020 schedule on short notice, scoring two games appears to have been worth a less lucrative return.

So Ole Miss will pay MTSU a hefty amount to not play in Oxford and in exchange get UConn in town for free. Got it?

The Huskies have confirmed nine games as part of next year’s slate and as the Courant alludes above, the pressing nature of their conference affiliation change has resulted in a potential short-term hit as everything gets sorted out. UConn will collect some $800,000 from games at Virginia, San Jose State and Illinois while dishing out nearly $1.2 million in guarantees to UMass, Indiana, Liberty, Army and FCS Maine.

It’s not often you see things like losing roughly $380,000 (and counting) on one’s schedule or having an opponent pay somebody else in order to not play the next season but UConn’s move to football independence has certainly resulted in more than a few unexpected dominoes falling as a result.

Middle Tennessee State loses leading tackler to season-ending injury

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For a defense looking to continue its conference momentum, this one serves as a sizeable blow.

Reed Blankenship went down with an ankle injury in the third quarter of Middle Tennessee State’s loss to North Texas last Saturday.  The unspecified injury was severe enough that it required surgery.

Surgery that, as it turns out, will end the true junior safety’s 2019 season.

“It’s a tough loss anytime you lose a player to injury,” head coach Rick Stockstill said. “You hate to see it, because you know how much these guys invest in this game.”

Blankenship, who missed all of spring practice because of offseason surgery, currently leads the Blue Raiders in tackles with 58, including a team-leading 18 solo tackles.  Last year, Blankenship earned first-team All-Conference USA honors.

During his time in Murfreesboro, Blankenship has started 28 games.