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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).

 

Pony Up! SMU off to best start since 1984 at 3-0

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TCU may have moved into the top 25 of the AP Poll this week after dispatching Purdue on Saturday but upcoming opponent SMU is off to an equally hot start coming into Week 4 after topping Texas State.

In fact, it’s a historic one down in Dallas.

As the school noted recently, the 3-0 start to the 2019 campaign is the Mustangs’ best since… 1984. That’s just after the Pony Express days on the Hilltop and right before the program got hammered by the NCAA for major violations.

Sonny Dykes’ tenure got off to a rough start after going 5-7 last season but the team looks much improved thanks in part to the play of Texas transfer QB Shane Buechele.

We’ll see if the two can keep things rolling against the rival Horned Frogs but the AAC might just have another intriguing team in the mix after such a hot start by SMU.

Arkansas benches one grad transfer QB in favor of another

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As the old saying goes: if at first you don’t succeed, try a second graduate transfer quarterback.

This offseason, Arkansas head coach Chad Morris added a pair of experienced players under center — SMU’s Ben Hicks (HERE) and Texas A&M’s Nick Starkel (HERE). Hicks, who was recruited and coached by Morris at SMU before the latter took the Arkansas gig, won the starting job coming out of summer camp, but struggled mightily in two starts (46.7 completion percentage, zero touchdowns) as the Razorbacks began the 2019 campaign 1-1 — and that lone win was by seven over FCS Portland State.

In the second half of the 31-17 loss to Ole Miss in Week 2, Starkel replaced Hicks and played relatively well, completing 17-of-24 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown. Monday, Morris announced that Starkel will get the starting nod in this Saturday’s game against Colorado State.

“We felt like coming out of the half, it wasn’t so much what Ben did or didn’t do, it’s what Nick did,” Morris said. “We were looking for a spark, something to get our offense moving, create some momentum, create some yards, give an opportunity for some big plays.

“That was our decision going into it and Nick will be our starter.”

Starkel was the Aggies’ starter to open the 2017 season, but suffered a broken ankle in that game that sidelined him for nearly two months.  It turned out to not be a season-ending injury as Starkel returned to start the last four games of Kevin Sumlin‘s final season in College Station, a late-season stint that included a career-high 499-yard effort in a Belk Bowl loss to Wake Forest.

Entering the 2018 offseason as the incumbent, but with a new head coach in Jimbo Fisher in place, Starkel lost the starting job to Kellen Mond and played in just five games last season — the first four of the regular season plus the bowl game.  In those appearances, the redshirt sophomore completed 15-of-22 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown.

NCAA grants Nebraska transfer Cam’ron Jones an immediate-eligibility waiver at SMU

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Shortly before the start of the 2019 season, SMU received some negative news on the transfer front.  Shortly after the 2019 season kicked off, the AAC school was on the receiving end of something positive on the same front.

On his personal Twitter account Friday evening, Cam’ron Jones, who transferred from Nebraska earlier in the offseason and ultimately landed at SMU in mid-May, announced that he has been granted an immediate-eligibility waiver by the NCAA and is cleared to play for the Mustangs.  Because of the delayed decision, the defensive back missed his new team’s season opener against Arkansas State last Saturday.

This Saturday, he’ll be able to take the field for SMU’s home opener against North Texas.

A four-star member of the Cornhuskers’ Class of 2018, Jones was rated as the No. 23 safety in the country coming out of high school in Mansfield, Texas.  He was the highest-rated defensive signee in that 22-player class, and only three other Cornhusker signees were rated higher than him (quarterback Adrian Martinez, tight end Cameron Jurgens, running back Maurice Washington).

Expected to contribute immediately, a shoulder injury sidelined Jones for his entire true freshman season instead.

DeAndre McNeal transfers from SMU back to FAU

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Well, so much for that.

Earlier this offseason, DeAndre McNeal opted to leave Florida Atlantic.  In late July, it was confirmed that McNeal has decided to continue his collegiate playing career at SMU.

This week, FAU head coach Lane Kiffin announced that McNeal is back with the Owls football team after less than a month with the Mustangs.  As the wide receiver did not attend classes at SMU, he’ll be eligible to play for FAU in 2019.

McNeal, who left as a graduate transfer, will begin practicing with his new/old team next week.  And, with his new/old team, McNeal will be shifting back to offense after being moved to the defensive secondary with the Mustangs.

“To add him back was basically free for us … kind of an easy choice for us because there’s no risk for us; we don’t lose a spot and he already knows the offense,” Kiffin said according to the Palm Beach Post.

This latest move continues McNeal’s vagabond journey through various levels of the college football world.

A four-star member of Texas’ 2015 recruiting class, McNeal was indefinitely suspended by then-head coach Charlie Strong in August of 2016.  Not long after, the then-wide receiver opted to transfer out and ultimately moved on to a California junior college.  With UCLA in hot pursuit, McNeal opted instead to sign with Lane Kiffin and FAU in February of 2017.

After catching 23 passes for 317 yards and two touchdowns during his first season with the Owls, McNeal caught one pass for one yard in what turned out to be his (next-to-) last season with the Owls in 2018.