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Mike Aresco thinks New Year’s Six bid is important for AAC, but wants respect for the league more

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The American Athletic Conference has secured the Group of Five’s bid to the New Year’s Six bowl games in three of the first five years (winning twice) of the College Football Playoff era but the league is apparently still searching for something even more elusive: respect.

Yes, cue the Rodney Dangerfield line about not getting any but that seems to be the driving force behind some of commissioner Mike Aresco’s comments this week. The conference currently has three ranked teams and has enjoyed an impressive amount of success so far in 2019 but the driving force behind the AAC’s bid to be a “Power 6” league still doesn’t think they are getting their due.

“I would much rather not be a one-horse or a two-horse league,” Aresco told The Athletic. “I want to see a lot of really good teams. I want to see our league develop that strength of schedule where we’re respected. That’s more important than getting that New Year’s bid. That doesn’t mean the bid isn’t important. We obviously want to get it and play those top teams. … It’s important to get that bid, not only the financial part, but the exposure on New Year’s Day. But it’s more important to have what is perceived as the best G5 conference, and I think that’s what we’ve had since the beginning of this whole thing.”

Aresco probably isn’t wrong on that latter point, as the AAC has been a lot more consistent than peers like the Mountain West or MAC. The former has put together a very strong campaign this year and might be in the driver’s seat for the New Year’s Six bid however, with Boise State being the highest ranked Group of Five team at the moment. The MWC also has a national best eight Power Five wins on their resume as well.

It remains to be seen how it will all shake out given that there’s so much of the season left but something says this won’t be the only comments to come out of Providence from Aresco as the race to nab an invite to the Cotton Bowl this year looks tighter than ever

D’Eriq King breaks Tim Tebow TD record, but Houston stunned on last-second TD by Tulane

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Last week, D’Eriq King tied one of the records set by an all-time college football great.  Thursday night, he broke it — and then he and his teammates had their collective hearts broken.

In Houston’s 38-31 loss to Tulane — Green Wave’s come-from-behind win, on the last drive of the game, featured both a trick play and game-winning touchdown pass with just seconds — King accounted for three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing).  This marks the 15th straight game in which the Cougars quarterback has accounted for at least one passing and one rushing touchdown in the same game.

King now owns the FBS record for such a streak, breaking the record of 14 in a row previously set by Florida’s Tim Tebow more than a decade ago.

In 15 games the past one-plus seasons, the under-the-radar King has accounted for 62 total touchdowns — 42 passing, 20 rushing.  In an injury-shortened 2018 campaign, King threw for 36 touchdowns and put up 14 on the ground.

Despite the record, it’s likely a night King will want to forget.

In the second quarter, Houston held a seemingly comfortable 28-7 lead, but three Tulane touchdowns over the next quarter and a half tied the game; a field goal with 6:10 left in the AAC matchup gave the Green Wave their first lead of the contest.  With just 21 seconds left, however, the Cougars’ own field goal tied it back up at 31-all and we appeared headed for some extra football.

That, though, is when insanity ensued.

The ensuing kickoff gave Tulane the ball at its own 29-yard line.  Seemingly content to let the clock run out and go into overtime, the Green Wave lined up as if they were just going to take a knee… except they didn’t, with Amare Jones taking a handoff and scampering 18 yards 15 seconds left…

… and then, on the very next play, Justin McMillan hit Jalen McCleskey for a 53-yard catch-and-run, aided greatly by poor tackling on the part of the Cougars, that proved to be the game-winning score with just three seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

Suffice to say, Houston’s first-year head coach was far from pleased with how the game played out.

The Cougars are now 1-3 on the season — after firing their head coach, Major Applewhite, for having the audacity to go 8-5 last season — while the Green Wave improved to 3-1.

That 1-3 start, incidentally, is UH’s worst since 2012.

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).

 

AAC confirms it wants to ditch divisions, seeks waiver for title game

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The Big 12 is about to have some championship-game company.

One of the expected repercussions of UConn’s decision to leave the American Athletic Conference following the 2019 season would be the league likely moving away from a divisional alignment. Tuesday, commissioner Mike Aresco confirmed that the conference has filed the paperwork with the NCAA seeking a waiver that would allow it to hold a league championship game in football without divisions and without playing a round-robin schedule.

When the waiver receives an expected rubber-stamp, it would likely go into effect following the 2020 regular season.

It’s a similar waiver sought and received by the Big 12 prior to that conference resurrecting its title game a couple of years ago. The difference between the two scenarios is that the Big 12 has 10 schools — making for a true round-robin conference schedule of nine games — while the AAC will dip down to 11 members after UConn’s departure.

Another differentiation is the AAC currently plays an eight-game conference schedule. Aresco confirmed in the same radio interview that the conference has “talked to the Big Ten about how they did it all those years (when it had 11 teams) and we have to figure out the permanent opponents if any, the no-plays if any, how we do byes in November.

“There are a bunch of things to figure out, but we will figure it out.”

The Big Ten stood at 11 teams for two decades following the addition of Penn State in 1990. That conference then added Nebraska (2011), Maryland (2014) and Rutgers (2014) to get to its current 14 schools.

Aresco also acknowledged that his league is not averse to adding a 12th school, but was very emphatic that the league would not ditch a member to get down to 10 and aid in scheduling.

Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch list includes 2018 finalist Shea Patterson, Jalen Hurts, Justin Herbert

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And now for a quarterback award watch list that won’t include a certain starting quarterback form Clemson or Alabama. The Johnny Unitas Foundation has released the watch list for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented annually to college football’s top senior or fourth-year quarterback. This year’s watch list includes some recognizable names such as Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and Oregon’s Justin Herbert.

Former Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew was named the winner of the award in 2018. Just one finalist for the 2018 award is on the watch list this season. Michigan’s Shea Patterson is that player (UCF’s McKenzie Milton was a finalist last year but is not expected to play this season despite still being at UCF as he recovers from his season-ending injury from late in 2018).

Other past winners include Deshaun Watson (2016), Marcus Mariota (2014), Andrew Luck (2011), Matt Ryan (2007), Eli Manning (2003), Carson Palmer (2002) and Peyton Manning (1997).

2019 Golden Arm Award Watch List Presented by A. O. Smith

  • Jack Abraham, Southern Mississippi
  • Blake Barnett, University of South Florida
  • Woody Barrett, Kent State
  • Jake Bentley, University of South Carolina
  • Anthony Brown, Boston College
  • Kelly Bryant, Missouri
  • Joe Burrow, LSU
  • Stephen Buckshot Calvert, Liberty
  • Marcus Childers, Northern Illinois
  • K.J. Costello, Stanford Unversity
  • Jacob Eason, Washington University
  • Caleb Evans, University of Louisiana Monroe
  • Mason Fine, North Texas
  • Feleipe Franks, University of Florida
  • Mitchell Guadagni, Toledo
  • Jarrett Guarantano, University of Tennessee
  • Gage Gubrud, Washington State University
  • Quentin Harris, Duke University
  • Justin Herbert, University of Oregon
  • Kelvin Hopkins, Jr., Army
  • Tyler Huntley, University of Utah
  • Jalen Hurts, University of Oklahoma
  • Josh Jackson, University of Maryland
  • D’Eriq King, Houston
  • Brian Lewerke, Michigan State University
  • Jordan Love, Utah State University
  • Jake Luton, Oregon State University
  • Cole McDonald, University of Hawaii
  • Justin McMillan, Tulane
  • Steven Montez, University of Colorado
  • James Morgan, FIU
  • Riley Neal, Vanderbilt University
  • Kato Nelson, Akron
  • Shea Patterson, University of Michigan
  • Bryce Perkins, University of Virginia
  • Malcolm Perry, Navy
  • Peyton Ramsey, Indiana University
  • Armani Rogers, UNLV
  • Nathan Rourke, Ohio
  • Anthony Russo, Temple University
  • J’Mar Smith, Louisiana Tech
  • Nate Stanley, University of Iowa
  • Dillon Sterling-Cole, Arizona State University
  • Khalil Tate, University of Arizona
  • Zac Thomas, Appalachian State University
  • Skylar Thompson, Kansas State
  • Brady White, University of Memphis
  • Ryan Willis, Virginia Tech
  • Brandon Wimbush, University of Central Florida