Entering the 2019 season, being on the wrong side of the won-loss ledger wasn’t something the UCF program was used to the last couple of years. Unfortunately for that AAC school, it’s become an all-too-familiar feeling of late.
In 2017 and 2018, the Knights won all 24 of its regular-season games. Add in the first three games of the 2019 campaign, and they were riding a 27-game in-season winning streak in addition to winning 29 of 30 overall. Week 4, however, saw that streak abruptly snapped as Pitt upended UCF on a trick play in the final minute of a one-point Knights loss.
Another loss to Cincinnati two weeks later followed, although UCF righted the ship to win three in a row heading into its Week 11 matchup with Tulsa on the road Friday night. Exiting it, however, the Knights head back to the Sunshine State with its third loss in seven games as the Golden Hurricane, who entered the game as 17-point underdogs, came away with a 34-31 upset win.
UCF held a 28-17 lead at halftime and took a 31-24 advantage into the fourth quarter. A 17-yard touchdown catch by the Golden Hurricane’s Sam Crawford Jr. from Seth Boomer, who replaced the injured starter Zach Smith, with 9:01 left knotted the score at 31-all; a 23-yard field goal by Jacob Rainey, who has missed eight on the season, four minutes later proved to be the game-winner.
The loss not only drops UCF to 7-3 overall but to 4-2 in conference play, two games in the loss column behind a Cincinnati squad that has already knocked off the Knights. UCF will need to win its last two games (at Tulane, USF) and hope Cincinnati loses three of its last four (UConn, at USF, Temple, at No. 21 Memphis) in order to have a shot at claiming the AAC East.
With the win, Tulsa improves to 3-7 on the season.
The so-called ‘Baker Mayfield Rule’ continues to spread throughout the country as players’ freedom of movement becomes a hot button issue in the world of the NCAA.
Per a release from the league office, the American Athletic Conference has formally approved a rule change that will allow walk-ons (or, more formally, student-athletes not on scholarship) to transfer to another school in the conference without having to sit a year.
The move came as part of a broader set of issues that were discussed by AAC presidents and athletic directors during their annual fall meetings this week.
“We had another extremely productive meeting with our presidents and athletic directors this week in Philadelphia,” Commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “There was a great deal of discussion about the future of our league and the momentum that we have created as we prepare for our new television/media agreement with ESPN beginning next year. There is enormous enthusiasm in the wake of the Conference’s increasing football, basketball and Olympic sport success and we will continue to energize and refresh our successful P6 campaign. We discussed the NCAA Board of Governors’ recent statement on name, image and likeness and we will be forming a conference working group to examine further that issue. We are all in agreement that this is a very complicated matter, and that preserving the amateur experience in a way that is fair to all student-athletes is of the utmost importance.”
The Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma first called attention to the issue after he was a walk-on at Texas Tech before eventually transferring to the Sooners and being placed on scholarship. Big 12 rules at the time stated Mayfield had to lose a season of eligibility as a result of the move but that was later amended to allow for such a scenario to happen without a player dropping a season. The Pac-12 and others have followed suit in recent years, with the AAC the latest at the Group of Five level to join the growing chorus.
In January, the NCAA also approved rules changes allowing walk-ons to transfer without penalty but many individual conferences had rules against doing so within their own league. That’s no longer the case in the AAC and others now as walk-ons finally get a measure of freedom that they didn’t have before.
We’ve seen plenty of teams schedule games way out into the future… and we’ve seen plenty of teams ink series spanning a lengthy amount of time… and even plenty of Power Five teams that have scheduled 2-for-1 series with Group of Five programs… but we have not seen many that have combined all three elements for a unique setup. Well, until now courtesy of Oklahoma and Tulsa that is.
The two in-state rivals announced on Friday that they have scheduled a three-game series against each other, which has the distinction of being a 2-for-1 that spans a full decade between start and finish. The Sooners will kick things off against the Golden Hurricane on Sept. 16, 2023 at HA Chapman Stadium. Then the return set will be in Norman seven years later on Aug. 31, 2030. The finale to the three-game set will kickoff on Sept. 3, 2033, which, for some perspective, will come just a few weeks before OU’s current coach Lincoln Riley turns 50 years old.
“We’re excited about another series with Tulsa,” said Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione. “We have always had great respect for their school and football program, and are happy when we can play in front of our fans and alumni who live in the Tulsa area. It’s important to us to have a presence there whenever possible.”
As you would expect, the Sooners hold a considerable lead in the overall series with a 20-7-1 all-time mark over the Golden Hurricane. The two programs’ last meeting came in Norman back in 2015, which resulted in a 52-38 win for Oklahoma, while Tulsa last notched a victory in the series all the way back in 1996.
For the third time this month, a major college football award is adding to its watch list.
This week, the Biletnikoff Award announced that it has added four wide receivers to its in-season watch list, including two from Power Five schools and two from Group of Five programs. Those included this go-around are Washington State’s Brandon Arconado (pictured), Colorado State’s Warren Jackson, Indiana’s Whop Philyor and Tulsa’s Keyon Stokes.
Below are each players’ statistical particulars for the 2019 season:
- Arconado: 39 receptions, 591 yards, four touchdowns
- Jackson: 49-719-6
- Philyor: 57-737-3
- Stokes: 44-695-4
Both Jackson and Philyor are in the Top 20 nationally in receiving yards, while Jackson’s receptions are tied for sixth at the FBS level.
The Biletnikoff Award is handed out annually to the nation’s most outstanding FBS receiver. The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, which oversees the honor, stresses that “[a]ny player, regardless of position (wide receiver, tight end, slot back and running back) who catches a pass is eligible for the award.”
Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy was the 2018 winner of the award. A wide receiver has won the award every year since it was first handed out in 1994.
Counting in college football is hard but at least the NCAA makes it easy to obtain a waiver to deal with such issues.
AAC commissioner Mike Aresco confirmed to reporters during a break in SMU’s victory over Temple on Saturday that the league has received the necessary waiver for the 2020 season to hold a conference title game despite having 11 members.
“It’s really a relief that this got done,” Aresco said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “The conference championship is so important to the league.”
The reason the AAC is in the position of needing to get a waiver is, of course, the result of UConn’s decision to re-join the Big East in most sports and try their hand at football independence starting next season. The conference has so far declined to pursue a new member to replace the Huskies, resulting in 11 football programs going forward unless they make significant changes this offseason.
NCAA rules dictate that conferences must have either 12 teams in multiple divisions or require a round-robin schedule in order to hold a league title game. The waiver allows the American to bypass the requirements and keep their existing contracts with ESPN in place going forward for such a game, resulting in a nice little windfall in addition to their standard broadcast contract with the world wide leader.
According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Aresco also confirmed that the league will abandon it’s two division format starting next season and that the top two teams in the conference will meet in the title game in a manner similar to the Big 12 — albeit with 11 teams instead of 10.
Like we said, it can be hard to count in college football but thankfully, there’s always a waiver from the folks in Indianapolis for that.