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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).

 

Clemson still claims FBS-best winning streak at 16 straight, but who’s next at 10 in a row?

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The defending national champions continued its college football dominance in Week 1, while a fellow ACC school wrested the “top” spot for losing ways away from a Big Ten program.

With a woodshedding of Georgia Tech in the opener last Thursday night, Clemson extended its nation’s-best winning streak to 16 in a row. Clemson’s last loss? Against Alabama in one of the 2017 College Football Playoff semifinals, a loss it avenged in the 2018 title tilt.

Just one other school has a current double-digit winning streak, and it likely who you wouldn’t immediately be thinking of as Army has won 10 in a row in a stretch that began the week after the service academy’s seven-point overtime loss to then-No. 5 Oklahoma Sept. 22 of last year. Extending that streak to 11 straight won’t be easy to say the least as Army travels to the Big House Saturday to face No. 7 Michigan.

Ohio State and Appalachian State will take seven-game winning streaks into next weekend’s action, while four schools (Florida, Stanford, Texas A&M, Wyoming) have won five in a row and another four (Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, TCU) have claimed four straight.

At the opposite end of the streaking spectrum is Louisville, which is the only program with a double-digit losing streak at 10. The UofL had the ignominious honor of unseating Rutgers, which had dropped 11 in a row prior to a win over UMass. It’s worth noting that RU still hasn’t beaten a Power Five schools since dropping Maryland in early November of 2017.

USF (seven); Akron and Colorado State (six); Coastal Carolina and Oregon State (five); and Kent State, Pitt and Texas State (four) are all in the midst of extended losing streaks as well.

In addition to Rutgers, UConn (nine in a row); Colorado, Georgia State — AGAINST TENNESSEE — and New Mexico (seven); and UTSA (six) all snapped lengthy losing streaks in Week 1.

One final note: A total of 65 of the 130 FBS teams have either won one game “in a row” (50) or will carry a one-game losing “streak” (15) into Week 2.

Jonathan Taylor and No. 19 Wisconsin run all over USF in Friday night romp

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Jonathan Taylor’s early Heisman Trophy campaign is off to a good start.

The talented tailback showcased his improved versatility and strong running ability on Friday night, leading No. 19 Wisconsin to an impressive 49-0 rout over USF in hot and rainy conditions down in Tampa.

Taylor, looking to put together another season of 2,000+ yards, was fed early and often. He finished with 135 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in just three quarters worth of work and lived up to all the offseason talk of him being more of a threat in the passing game with his first two career touchdown receptions.

The productive start to the season surely boosted his profile as the Badgers look to bounce back into Big Ten West contention. Other developments that could prove just as big for Paul Chryst’s team included a very stout defensive effort (three sacks, three turnovers, a fumble recovery for a touchdown, 157 total yards allowed) and a solid debut to the year for quarterback Jack Coan. The latter spread the ball around to nine different receivers and threw for 199 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Notably, one of those wideouts to catch a pass was Quintez Cephus. Just a week after being cleared to play and reinstated to the team after his acquittal of sexual assault charges, he recorded three catches for 39 yards — marks that were second-most in the game. Nakia Watson and Bradrick Shaw also chipped in with touchdown runs as well as things got out of hand early and often in favor of Wisconsin.

A big factor in that was new Bulls coordinator Kerwin Bell’s offense not looking ready for primetime at the FBS level. Despite the scheme setting a number of records at the Division II level, USF failed to find much consistency at all using it in the opener. QB Blake Barnett was just 13-of-30 for 109 yards and two interceptions plus a fumble that was returned the other way for a score. The team averaged under two yards a carry on the evening and you could count on one hand the number of third down conversions they had in the contest (three).

All of which made for a game that was over well before halftime as the visitors from the Big Ten breezed to an easy victory to open 2019 — even if it was a bit later than expected after waiting out an early weather delay prior to kickoff. Not that such a wait mattered all that much to Taylor and company given the kind of production they put forth against USF.

Jonathan Taylor, stellar defense propel No. 19 Wisconsin to halftime lead over USF

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No. 19 Wisconsin’s bid at a bounce-back campaign in 2019 is off to a good start thanks to their star running back and a handful of plays from their stout defense.

As a result, the Badgers biggest opponent might have been the weather in the Tampa area as they needed to wait out an early weather delay in taking a convincing 28-0 lead over USF at the halfway mark of both teams season opener.

Jonathan Taylor picked up where he left off last season in rushing for 80 yards in the first half on just 14 carries, scoring a touchdown on the ground and showcasing his added versatility in catching not one but two touchdowns through the air. The big effort comes as part of a concerted effort to get him the ball in space out of the backfield and mark his first two scoring receptions in his college career.

As a result, starting quarterback Jack Coan was able to pick apart the Bulls defense in throwing for 165 yards and a pair of touchdowns — really working the middle of the field. Not surprisingly, Wisconsin won the time of possession battle by nearly seven minutes in the first half and ran 40 plays to the home team’s 25.

UW’s defense was also a big early storyline, picking off a Blake Barnett pass and also taking one of his fumbles into the end zone for a score. The Bulls managed just -4 yards on the ground and, even when you take two sacks out of the equation, only had 1.7 yards per rush.

Some may have expected the heat and humidity of South Florida to favor Charlie Strong’s side in this one but that hasn’t been the case in the first half as Wisconsin looks much more like the team that was winning Big Ten West titles with regularity than last season’s more mediocre edition.

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.