Nov 13, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA;  UTSA Roadrunners head coach Jeff Traylor looks on in the second half against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at the Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

No. 22 UTSA’s last-second TD caps wild win over UAB

Frank Harris hit Oscar Cardenas on a 1-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the game as No. 22 Texas-San Antonio needed a miracle finish to defeat Alabama-Birmingham 34-31 on Saturday afternoon in a key Conference USA game in San Antonio and remain undefeated.

The Roadrunners took over at their own 23-yard line with 1:06 remaining and no time outs, trailing by four points. Harris completed passes of 28 yards to Cardenas and 6 and 33 yards to De’Corian Clark, the latter to reach the UAB 10-yard line.

After a 9-yard run by Harris and an incomplete pass, Harris connected with Cardenas for the game winner as the clock expired.

The win clinched UTSA’s first-ever C-USA West Division title and guaranteed the Roadrunners (11-0, 7-0 C-USA) a spot in the conference championship game. UTSA’s 11-game winning streak, its seven wins in seven conference games and nine straight victories at home are all new program marks.

Harris ended up with 323 yards and three TDs passing, with Sincere McCormick rushing for 65 yards and a score, and Zakhari Franklin catching six passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns.

Dylan Hopkins passed for 254 yards and two touchdowns for the Blazers (7-4, 5-2), who had a two-game winning streak snapped. DeWayn McBride ran for 144 yards and the go-head score with 5:16 to play, forcing UTSA into its comeback.

The Blazers wasted no time setting the table, with Hopkins hitting Tre Shropshire on a 74-yard TD bomb on the game’s second snap. Harris and McCormick responded by engineering a 12-play, 73-yard drive that ended with a 15-yard one-handed touchdown catch by Franklin.

Hopkins and Shropshire connected again near the end of the first quarter, this time from 40 yards away before McCormick rambled into the end zone on an 8-yard run to retie the game with 10:24 to play in the second quarter.

Hopkins then capped a 75-yard, eight-play drive with an 8-yard scoring run.

UTSA’s Hunter Duplessis and UAB’s Matt Quinn traded field goals, from 51 and 23 yards, respectively, over the final 2:18 of the quarter as the Blazers carried a 24-17 lead into the break.

The Roadrunners went to the quick-strike big-play 51 seconds into the third quarter as Harris passed 54 yards to Franklin for the tying TD. Duplessis booted a 49-yard field goal with 1:21 to play in the third quarter to take the lead for the first time.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2021; Boise, Idaho, USA; Boise State Broncos wide receiver Stefan Cobbs (5) returns a punt for a touchdown during the first half against the UTEP Miners at Albertsons Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

AAC targeting Boise State, UAB, others for expansion

The American Athletic Conference has identified potential candidates, most from the Mountain West, to join the league after the announced exodus of three teams to the Big 12, CBS Sports reported Thursday.

At the top of the AAC’s wish list are Mountain West programs Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State and San Diego State, along with UAB of Conference USA.

The conference is losing Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to the Big 12. Texas and Oklahoma began the chain reaction of moves with their announcement that they will join the Southeastern Conference in 2025.

The CBS report said the AAC likely will be looking to add four teams to bring the number of members to 12, with Boise State the most coveted addition based on the strength of its football program. CBS reported last week that Boise State, as well as Memphis, also could be top targets for the Big 12 should it choose to expand to 14 teams.

The AAC also has a second tier of teams it could pursue if it is spurned by any of its preferred teams, per the report. It includes FAU and UTSA from Conference USA.

BYU, an independent in football and a Mountain West member in the other sports, is joining the Big 12 in 2023, with the AAC teams expected on board by July 1, 2024.

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Arian Smith (11) reacts as he scores a touchdown after catching a pass against the UAB Blazers during the first half at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2 Georgia throttles UAB behind Stetson Bennett’s 5 TDs

Senior quarterback Stetson Bennett threw a school-record-tying five touchdowns passes in place of the injured JT Daniels to lead No. 2 Georgia to a 56-7 victory over Alabama-Birmingham on Saturday in Athens, Ga.

Bennett, who started five games last season for Georgia before suffering a shoulder injury and was replaced by Daniels, threw a 73-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Burton on Georgia’s second play. The Bulldogs (2-0) never looked back.

While Daniels was sidelined with a strained oblique, Bennett threw touchdown passes of 73, 12, 89, 61 yards and nine yards in the first half. He exited midway through the third quarter with the Bulldogs leading 42-0. He went 9-for-11 passing for 279 yards.

His five touchdown passes tied a school record for a game set on six other occasions, including most recently by Aaron Murray against Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl in 2013.

Tight end Brock Bowers (three catches, 107 yards, 2 TDs) and Burton (three catches, 92 yards, TD) were among nine receivers with at least one catch. Zamir White led the Bulldogs’ rushing attack with 34 yards on seven carries.

Bennett threw a 12-yard touchdown to Kenny McIntosh to cap a five-play, 40-yard drive on Georgia’s second possession, giving the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.

Though he wasn’t injured, Bennett was replaced on Georgia’s next series by redshirt freshman Carson Beck, who handed the ball off three times before the Bulldogs punted.

Bennett returned on the next series and on first down threw an 89-yard touchdown pass to Bowers streaking down the sideline for a 21-0 lead with 1:14 left in the first quarter.

On the first play of Georgia’s next series, Bennett threw a 61-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Arian Smith for a 28-0 lead less than a minute into the second quarter.

Bennett capped the first-half scoring with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Bowers for a 35-0 lead.

James Cook extended the lead to 42-0 with a 14-yard run with 8:42 left in the third quarter and Beck threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Justin Robinson to make it 49-0 less than two minutes later.

Jamon Dumas-Johnson added a 20-yard interception return for a touchdown that pushed Georgia’s lead to 56-0 with 10:14 left in the game.

Alabama-Birmingham quarterback Tyler Johnston III went 6-of-14 passing for 39 yards and three interceptions. DeWayne McBride rushed for 61 yards on 13 carries as the Blazers mustered just 174 yards of total offense. Georgia rolled up 539 yards.

The Blazers (1-1) avoided the shutout when Keondre Swoopes returned an interception 61 yards for a touchdown with just over five minutes remaining.

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback JT Daniels (18) throws the ball against the Clemson Tigers during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Georgia QB JT Daniels has oblique injury

Georgia quarterback JT Daniels could miss Saturday’s game against UAB with an upper-body injury, multiple reports said Wednesday.

Rivals reported that Daniels had an oblique injury, while others confirmed it was an upper-body injury of some kind. It was unclear how he suffered the injury.

Daniels, in his second season with the Bulldogs following a transfer from Southern California, completed 22 of 30 passes for 135 yards and an interception in Georgia’s season-opening 10-3 win over Clemson last week. The win vaulted Georgia up to No. 2 in the Associated Press poll.

According to The Athletic, both Daniels and redshirt freshman Carson Beck took snaps with the first-team offense at Georgia’s practice Wednesday. Georgia coach Kirby Smart told reporters the day prior that Beck is No. 2 on the team’s depth chart.

The Bulldogs might be able to get away with giving Daniels the week off against UAB, likely the weakest FBS opponent on their schedule — though the Blazers are the defending Conference-USA champions and opened with a 31-0 win over Jacksonville State last week.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2020; Lexington, Kentucky, USA;  South Carolina Gamecocks running back Kevin Harris (20) scores a touchdown during the third quarter against the Kentucky Wildcats at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina stumbles into Gasparilla Bowl vs. UAB

Despite a 2-8 record, six-game losing streak and coaching change, South Carolina is headed to a bowl game.

The Gamecocks will play UAB (6-3) on Saturday at the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa. In this season impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the Gamecocks made it to the postseason because of other schools opting out and the Southeastern Conference pecking order for bowl slots.

Mike Bobo, formerly the head coach at Colorado State, will stay in his role as interim head coach with the Gamecocks. He replaced Will Muschamp, who was fired on Nov. 15 after South Carolina started 2-5.

Recently hired head coach Shane Beamer, the son of former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, will not participate in the bowl game.

Shane Beamer left his position as Oklahoma’s tight ends and H-backs coach. He will be on the sideline observing the team’s limited bowl practices.

Media reports suggest Bobo is trying to retain his offensive coordinator position.

“Right now I’m focused on the bowl game,” Bobo said. “We’ll be fine wherever we end up. I believe in my family. I believe in my ability to coach ball. I’ll have the ability to coach ball whether it’s here or someplace else.”

Two Gamecocks assistant coaches who will not be retained, defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson and special teams coordinator Kyle Krantz, will coach in the bowl game. Offensive line coach Eric Wolford, who accepted a similar position at Kentucky, will not participate.

UAB beat Marshall 22-13 last week to win its second Conference USA title in the past three years.

The Blazers are appearing in their fourth straight bowl game since returning to action in 2017. The program was terminated after the 2014 season, but financial pledges from the UAB Football Foundation prompted the program’s swift reinstatement.

Bill Clark, the Blazers’ head coach since 2014, was rumored to be one of the candidates for the vacancy at Auburn. However, reports Monday indicated he was no longer in the running.

When asked about that speculation after the win over Marshall, Clark said, “I won’t comment on that other than to say, like I told you before, I love UAB.”

He added, “This is mine, and we built it together. But it’s always good to be thought of, and that’s my job in this business to win games. And when that happens, I think people see that. So, you know, we’ll just see what happens, but I love my players and love UAB.”

The Blazers are led by running back Spencer Brown, who has 186 carries for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns. Brown became the first player to be named the Conference USA Championship Game MVP twice after he had 30 carries for 149 yards against the Thundering Herd.

Brown has 4,011 career rushing yards. He is one of only two active players in the nation to have 4,000 career rushing yards, along with Clemson’s Travis Etienne (4,920 yards).

South Carolina also has a strong running game with Kevin Harris rushing for 1,138 yards and 15 touchdowns on 185 carries.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2020; Birmingham, Alabama, USA; UAB Blazers band social distance in the stands during the first half at Legion Field during the game against Central Arkansas Bears. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Southern Miss-UAB clash scrapped due to COVID-19

Friday’s game between Southern Miss and UAB has been canceled due to COVID-19 issues within the Southern Miss program.

Southern Miss didn’t divulge whether players, coaches and/or staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

The Conference USA contest was slated to be the final one played at historic Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.

The cancellation marks the third in a row for UAB. The Blazers’ games against North Texas (Nov. 14) and UTEP (Nov. 20) also were scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

UAB (4-3, 2-1 C-USA) also had an Oct. 9 game against Rice postponed. That contest has been rescheduled for Dec. 12.

Southern Miss (2-7, 1-4) finishes its season with games at UTEP on Dec. 4 and at home against Florida Atlantic on Dec. 10. Both those games are rescheduled affairs that were postponed in October.

Legion Field opened in 1927. UAB moves into 47,100-set Prospective Stadium next season.

–Field Level Media

Nov 23, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz yells out during the first half against the FIU Golden Panthers at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Hurricanes down UAB in King’s debut

D’Eriq King, making his Miami debut, threw for one touchdown and ran for another as the host Hurricanes defeated the UAB Blazers 31-14 on Thursday night at Hard Rock Stadium.

It was the 16th consecutive game that King — a University of Houston graduate transfer — passed for at least one touchdown and ran for another, which extends his FBS record.

Running back Cam’Ron Harris added a game-high 134 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries as Miami (1-0) snapped a three-game losing streak dating to last season. Harris averaged 7.9 yards per rush, but he suffered an unspecified injury with 12:09 left in the fourth.

Miami rushed for 337 yards. King scrambled for 83 yards, and freshmen Jaylan Knighton (59 yards) and Donald Chaney Jr. (52) also contributed. King also completed 16-of-24 passes for 144 yards.

UAB (1-1) was led by Spencer Brown, who ran for 74 yards and one touchdown, and quarterback Tyler Johnston, who passed for 150 yards and one score.

The Blazers opened the scoring on Johnston’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Austin Watkins with 2:40 left in the first quarter. The TD was set up by Mark Pope’s fumbled punt, recovered by UAB’s Jarrion Street. The ball was jarred loose by Jacob Fuqua.

Miami tied the score just 96 seconds later as coach Manny Diaz gambled on fourth-and-one from his own 34. Harris made the bold move pay off, busting a 66-yard TD run up the middle.

The Hurricanes took a 14-7 lead on King’s 12-yard scramble for a score. King vaulted the final three yards over a tackler, marking the only second-quarter score.

Miami stretched its lead to 17-7 with 10:04 left in the third on Jose Borregales’ 25-yard field goal. But King could’ve had a TD pass three plays prior to that as he missed an open Jeremiah Payton in the end zone.

UAB closed its deficit to 17-14 with 6:19 left in the third on Brown’s six-yard TD run. On the previous play, UAB lined up to go for it on fourth-and-four and then drew Miami defensive end Quincy Roche offsides.

Miami closed out the third-quarter scoring with two more touchdowns.

First came a six-yard run by Harris, who bulldozed linebacker Noah Wilder at the two. Then, on the final play of the quarter, King flipped a four-yard TD pass to tight end Brevin Jordan in the left corner of the end zone.

–Field Level Media

Sep 1, 2019; Norman, OK, USA; Houston Cougars quarterback D'Eriq King (4) in action during the game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

King-led Miami opens up with UAB

The Miami Hurricanes, led by dazzling transfer quarterback D’Eriq King, will open their season Thursday night against the visiting UAB Blazers.

UAB (1-0), led by coach Bill Clark, went 9-5 last season, losing its final two games, including a 49-6 blowout to Florida Atlantic in the Conference USA championship game.

Miami had a far more embarrassing finish, especially considering its national-championship pedigree. The Hurricanes went 6-7, losing their final three games, including two against C-USA teams — 30-24 to Florida International and 14-0 to Louisiana Tech.

But Miami, in its second season under coach Manny Diaz, has been energized in training camp by the arrival of King from the University of Houston.

King in 2018 was responsible for 50 touchdowns — 36 throwing and 14 running — to lead the nation while also setting a record in the American Athletic Conference. He isn’t very big at 5-11 and 200 pounds, but the Texas native is fast and accurate, and he is the key to the new Miami offense.

“He’s electric,” Hurricanes new offensive line coach Garin Justice said of King. “Our guys have a lot of confidence when he’s behind center.”

Rhett Lashlee, Miami’s new offensive coordinator, has installed a high-tempo attack, and Justice has rebuilt an offensive line that was among the worst in college football last season.

Miami lost two major playmakers to the 2020 NFL Draft: its leading rusher (DeeJay Dallas) and its leading receiver (K.J. Osborn). But tight end Brevin Jordan returns, and he is a possible first-rounder in 2021. Cam’ron Harris, who rushed for 576 yards last season, ascends to the No. 1 running back spot, and freshmen Jaylan Knighton and Donald Chaney Jr. arrive with stellar reputations.

The top Miami wide receivers are senior Mike Harley and junior Dee Wiggins, who combined for 820 receiving yards last year.

UAB will try to stop Miami’s offense with players such as senior linebacker Kris Moll, who is a candidate for Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year honors. Moll, who led UAB with 104 tackles last season — including 16 stops for losses and nine sacks — is confident the Blazers will be successful on Thursday.

“We can compete against anybody,” said Moll, who made first-team all-league last year. “I feel like we have a great team.”

Indeed, the Blazers have finished top 10 nationally in defensive metrics in each of the past two years. Last year, UAB finished eighth in pass defense, 11th in sacks and 14th in tackles for losses.

In UAB’s 45-35 win over Central Arkansas on Thursday, the Blazers’ defense wasn’t as bad as the score indicates. For starters, one Central Arkansas touchdown came on a fumble recovery. Secondly, Central Arkansas’ final two touchdowns came in the last six minutes, after UAB led 45-21 and put its reserves in the game.

As for the matchup between UAB’s offense and Miami’s defense, the Hurricanes will try to shut down seniors such as running back Spencer Brown and wide receiver Austin Watkins, the latter a cousin of NFL wideout Sammy Watkins.

Brown is UAB’s career rushing leader with 3,249 yards. That includes the 127 yards Brown gained against Central Arkansas.

Watkins averaged 19.2 yards per catch last season, totaling 1,092 yards. Against Central Arkansas, he caught seven passes for 72 yards.

Miami’s keys on defense include end Quincy Roche, who had 26 sacks the past three years at Temple; end Jaelan Phillips, formerly the nation’s overall No. 1 recruit while at UCLA; and senior linebacker Zach McCloud, who has made 32 career starts at Miami.

The Hurricanes are also confident they have fixed their kicking game with the arrival of senior transfer Jose Borregales, who made 50 of 65 field-goal attempts the past three years for Florida International.

One other note that could impact Thursday’s game: UAB, which has won 19 straight home games, was just 3-5 away from Birmingham last year. Miami went 4-2 at home last year.

–Field Level Media