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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.

UConn begins building out independent schedules with BC home-and-home

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Until they tell us otherwise, Connecticut is going to try to make it as an FBS independent. This upcoming season will be the Huskies’ final one as a member of the American Athletic Conference, as the Huskies’ Olympic sports will return to the Big East and the football team will go it alone.

This will require lots (and lots and lots) of scheduling work, and quickly. As of now, the Huskies have four games on the schedule for a season that begins 12 months from now.

While it does nothing to help the 2020 slate, UConn began chipping away at the mountain in front of it on Wednesday by announcing a home-and-home with Boston College. The first game will be Oct. 29, 2022 in Storrs, with the return game going down Oct. 28, 2023 in Chestnut Hill.

The two programs have met 14 times previously; BC leads the series 12-0-2. The Eagles took the most recent meeting 39-16 in 2017.

Additionally, BC announced a 2023-28 home-and-home with Army and a Sept. 9, 2023 home game with Holy Cross.

Syracuse is No. 1 ahead of Alabama in one new poll

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Dino Babers’ reclamation of Syracuse football is paying off in other areas for the university. Maybe not in the way his administration wanted but it’s paying off nonetheless according to one new poll.

In their updated 2019 rankings, The Princeton Review has named Syracuse as the No. 1 party school in America — edging out No. 2 Alabama. Things would certainly be different when it comes to the football field with those two programs but the Orange can claim superiority to the Tide in on area at least. 

The review says it takes into account “ratings concerning the use of alcohol and drugs at their school, the number of hours they study outside of class time, and the popularity of fraternities/sororities at their school.”

Other FBS schools to make the top 20 include No. 4 West Virginia, No. 5 Tulane, No. 8 Wake Forest, No. 13 Wisconsin, No. 16 Florida, No. 18 Florida State and No. 20 UConn. 

Some of those make sense… others not so much. It doesn’t appear that tailgating was a big factor in the overall rankings but we’re sure that would have changed the order rather significantly for some schools. 

Either way, go ahead and print up those ‘We’re No. 1’ shirts Orange fans. 

UConn walk-on who earned scholarship, starting job this summer suffers torn ACL

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On no level whatsoever is this isn’t even remotely fair.

Donevin O’Reilly originally walked on to the UConn football team just after the start of the 2017 season — he carried the ball once and returned a pair of kickoffs last year — before breaking out during spring practice earlier this offseason, not only earning a scholarship from the university this month but also claiming a majority of the reps with the No. 1 offense during summer camp. Unfortunately for the running back, however, his Cinderella season is over before it ever got started as Randy Edsall confirmed Wednesday that O’Reilly has suffered a torn ACL in his left knee.

O’Reilly sustained the non-contact injury Monday during a special teams drill. He’ll undergo surgery Friday to repair the damage and will be sidelined for all of 2018.

“That’s the stuff as a coach that it’s like, ‘why?’” Edsall said by way of the Hartford Courant. “That kid put so much into it, he’s worked extremely hard. He was really the No. 1 tailback, and to see him go down, I just feel for him.”

O’Reilly’s injury is the second significant blow to the Huskies’ backfield this month. Less than two weeks ago, Nate Hopkins, who led the team in rushing touchdowns with seven a year ago, abruptly left the squad after deciding to transfer.

The Courant notes that, “[w]ith O’Reilly out and Hopkins gone, [redshirt] freshman Zavier Scott will assume the bulk of UConn’s carries, with sophomore Kevin Mensah the likely backup.” Mensah’s 561 yards rushing last season were tops on the Huskies, while Scott, raised in a military family, spent his junior and senior seasons at a high school in Germany before coming to UConn in 2017 as a wide receiver.

Oregon State RB Ryan Nall latest to declare for NFL draft

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This is certainly different.

Not that another player, especially a running back, is foregoing eligibility but rather the manner in which it was revealed, with Ryan Nall eschewing social media to announce via a press release from Oregon State that he is declaring for the April NFL draft.  OSU noted in its release that Nall is the seventh Beaver to declare for the draft early, joining Steven Jackson (2004), Brandon Browner (2005), Jacquizz Rodgers (2010), Brandin Cooks (2014), Scott Crichton (2014) and Isaac Seumalo (2016).

“I have known Ryan since he was a high school standout in this state and it has been impressive watching him develop into an outstanding young man with a tremendous future,” first-year head coach Jonathan Smith said in a statement. “Beaver Nation should be proud of what he accomplished at Oregon State and I’m confident he will be a tremendous representative of this university.”

Nall led the Beavers in rushing each of the past two seasons.  He finishes his time in Corvallis eighth in program history with 2,216 rushing yards; seventh with 24 rushing touchdowns; and tied for first with 5.8 yards per carry.

Below is Nall’s lengthy statement on his decision to move on:

After taking the necessary time to review my options regarding my future in football, I have decided to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft. It is with the love and support of my family, friends, and girlfriend that I am able to make this difficult, yet important decision.

When I was recruited four years ago, I was fortunate in knowing that I was going to be in the best hands both academically and athletically. My time at Oregon State has been a blessing – both on and off the field – as the memories that I have shared with my teammates, coaches, and Beaver Nation will be with me forever.

I want to thank Coach (Mike) Riley for giving me the initial opportunity to play for such a great program, as well as in front of an incredible community. I also want to thank Coach (Gary) Andersen, Coach (Cory) Hall, and Coach (Telly) Lockette for believing in me and giving me the tools to succeed in my football career.

As I look forward with regard to Oregon State football, I’m very impressed with Coach (Jonathan) Smith and his vision for the program. I leave OSU knowing the program is in great hands with an incredible future.

Lastly, I’d like to give a special thanks to Beaver Nation for always being there and never giving up on me and the team. You are the reason why we continue to fight every single game. Regardless of what my future holds, I will always bleed Orange and Black. Go Beavs!