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‘College Football’ Articles

Wittenberg Tigers picked to repeat as North Coast Athletic Conference football champions

 

After winning its league-leading 14th North Coast football title last fall, Wittenberg has been tabbed to repeat as conference champions in 2017 based on preseason balloting by the 10 league coaches.

The Tigers, who held off a trio of 7-2 squads last fall to top the NCAC standings with an 8-1 mark, collected six of the 10 possible first-place votes cast by the coaches for 95 total points. Wabash, which owns seven NCAC football titles, picked up three of the remaining first place votes to finish second in the poll with 91 points, while Denison secured the final first-place vote and finished third overall with 81 points. DePauw, which joined Denison and Wabash with 7-2 league records last fall, checked in at fourth with 70 points, followed by Ohio Wesleyan (60), Wooster (47), Hiram (39), Kenyon (32), Allegheny (25) and Oberlin (10).

Wittenberg, which enters the season ranked 16th in the D3football.com preseason poll, returns five All-NCAC players and 40 lettermen from its 2016 squad, led by a duo of first-team All-NCAC selections in senior linebacker Jack Kayser (Portsmouth, OH/Notre Dame) and senior return specialist Jeff Tiffner (Springfield, OH/Kenton Ridge). In addition, junior running back DeShawn Sarley (Cincinnati, OH/Colerain), junior linebacker Terrance Crowe (Springfield, OH/Springfield) and senior defensive lineman Chandler Ferko (Plain City, OH/Jonathan Alder) also return to the fold after collecting second-team honors in the NCAC last fall. Despite not receiving All-conference accolades last year, junior quarterback Jake Kennedy (Bellefontaine, OH/Bellefontaine) returns as the signal-caller for the Tigers after logging 2,388 passing yards and 19 touchdowns in 2016. Leading the way for the Tigers in 2017 for the 21st season in a row will be head coach Joe Fincham with a career record of 191-43 in Springfield. He enters the season with the fourth highest winning percentage among active Div. III head coaches at .816 and ninth among active Div. III coaches with the 191 total wins. He needs just nine wins this season to become the 25th coach in Div. III history to amass 200 or more victories.

The 2017 NCAC football campaign kicks off with eight non-conference games in week one, while the first conference games of the season are set for week two with Oberlin hosting Kenyon and Wooster traveling to Allegheny.

2017 North Coast Athletic Conference Football Preseason Coaches’ Poll
(first-place votes in parentheses, followed by total points)
1. Wittenberg (6) 95
2. Wabash (3) 91
3. Denison (1) 81
4. DePauw 70
5. Ohio Wesleyan 60
6. Wooster 47
7. Hiram 39
8. Kenyon 32
9. Allegheny 25
10. Oberlin 10

 

 

PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY & COURTESY OF NORTH COAST ATHLETIC CONFERENCE INFORMATION

Rutgers Football Coach Chris Ash evaluates practice 11, Sunday, August 13, 2017

Rutgers University Football Media Day

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Head Coach Chris Ash

 

COACH ASH: Welcome. Appreciate everybody showing up today on a Sunday afternoon. Appreciate everyone’s interest in our program and what we are doing here through training camp so far.

 

Just finished our second week of training camp. We’ve had 11 practices of the 29 practices that the NCAA allows us to have, so we are not quite through the halfway point yet. Just under three weeks to go for our first game.

 

Right now I think training camp has been very productive. We’ve gotten a lot of work done. I think we’ve improved in all areas on our football team. Some areas, we’ve improved more than others but I think we have improved in every aspect of our football team through the first couple weeks and 11 practices that we’ve been able to evaluate.

Chris Ash (courtesy Rutgers)

 

I really like our football team right now. We talk a lot about these players are like our sons and we treat them like our sons; and we all love our sons, but sometimes you don’t necessarily like being around your son. We really like being around these guys. They have a great attitude. They are committed, they are invested; and we not only love them but we really like being around them every single day that we get that opportunity here in training camp. And when you can say that about your team, it’s a good spot to be in.

 

From an injury standpoint through the first 11 practices, we have our typical training camp bumps and bruises and things that happen when you play football. But for the most part, we’ve been relatively healthy other than some of the preexisting injuries we had before we started with certain individuals. But we’ve been really healthy from that standpoint.

 

The attitude and effort is there. The want-to, the care factor is there from our players, and like I mentioned before, I really like that. We are better fundamentally right now than what we were a year ago. The guys know how to practice. They come out with the same attitude and effort every single day. We don’t have to coach that. So we are able to focus on just trying to make these guys better football players here at this training camp instead of trying to build toughness and the right type of attitude that we wanted.

 

Our focus in this training camp wasn’t about building toughness. It’s about trying to make these guys better; the best football players that they can be. It’s a long training camp; it’s five weeks, and we need to make sure we come out of it with our players mentally and physically fresh, with a team that is healthy and still getting enough reps so that they know what they are supposed to do on all three phases of the game and in critical situations.

 

I like the work that we have been able to do so far. And with that, I’ll go ahead and open it to questions.

 

Q. Talking about some areas, more improved than others, which areas do you feel like you’re most improved from what you’ve seen in training camp?

COACH ASH: I would start with the quarterback position. I think we are improved at the quarterback position. We’ve got three guys that will be getting a lot of reps and we’ve been mixing them in with the ones and the twos, and I do think we’re a lot better at that position.

 

I think at the running back position, it’s a deep position when we’ve added Gus Edwards into the mix. Rob Martin has been limited early on in training camp but is getting closer and closer to 100 percent. Got several reps in the scrimmage yesterday. You add Josh Hicks in the mix, Trey Sneed in the mix, Raheem Blackshear is a freshman. I think that’s a pretty deep group. I think it’s a very competitive group and it’s a group that will be improved from last season.

 

Defensively, I like our defensive line right now. Jon Bateky is playing at a very high level. I think Jon Bateky is a very underrated player that I think — going to expect to see big things out of this year. I think linebacker right now, we’re drastically improved from where we were last year. Those are some of the areas that I feel.

 

And then special teams, not talking about snappers, holders and kickers and punters. I’m talking about the guys covering kicks. I feel a lot better right now today with who is running down covering kicks and holding guys up than what we had last year.

 

Q. Have you started to see some separation among the quarterbacks? Jerry kill has told BTN on Tuesday that he wanted to name a quarterback within about a week or so. We’re coming up on that, so how close are you to doing that?

COACH ASH: We’re getting closer to naming a quarterback. We’ve got three weeks to go before we play, and we’d like to do it sooner than later. We’ll probably get through this week, keep sorting it out a little bit, and then get ready by the end of this week, first of next week, to go ahead and name a starting quarterback.

 

But we’re not going to go all the way up until game week at all. We’ll get it done. Like I said, either end of this week or earlier next week. It’s what’s right for the players, the quarterback position; and it’s what’s right for the rest of the team, too, to know who that guy is going to be.

 

Q. Of the freshmen, who has jumped out the first two weeks?

COACH ASH: There’s been a lot of them. I’ll just talk about the offensive guys to start because that’s where we’ve had the greatest need for young players to come in and contribute right away.

 

Raheem Blackshear at running back has really stood out. He’s going to be a guy that’s going play for us. Bo Melton has stood out. Really all those wide receivers that we signed last year have stood out: Bo Melton, the Hayek brothers have both stood out, Shameen Jones, Everett Wormley. All those guys, really, are going to have a chance to compete for playing time on offense and on special teams here this fall.

 

We’re still not in position to determine what freshmen exactly are going to help us. We still have some time to sort through that, but those are the ones that are really standing out.

 

Travis Vokolek at tight end is going to be an outstanding tight end. He’s got great length. He can run. Just got to get bigger and stronger, but really like his football IQ and just the way he works every single day.

 

Micah Clark had missed a little bit of time early in training camp but the last few days he’s been back out there and showing the promise that we expected him to show at an early age, and he’ll be a guy that definitely we hope to be in the two-deep here by the time we’re done with training camp.

 

There’s some others offensively, too, but those are the ones that really are standing out defensively. Some of the linebackers — we call him 03, I don’t even attempt to say his name, 03, the linebacker, he’s a guy that’s starting to do some good things for us in defense. He’s getting some reps in the two-deep. He’ll be a special teams guy. But a lot of the offensive guys, because they are getting more reps out of need more so than the guys on defense.

 

Q. Naming the captain, what’s the process?

COACH ASH: Still a set number. We’d like to have four. But we could go up, as many as six, if we needed to. But we will have a player vote on captains this Wednesday. And that will be really about the midpoint of training camp and have a pretty good idea of who we can count on, who the players trust and who dependable and who can be our best leaders and we’ll vote on that. It will be a player vote that’s done on Wednesday night.

 

Q. Talking about Jerry Kill and how he’s come into augment the offense that you have, particularly in changing offense to keep the defense on the field, along with having five weeks to do it, how is that process going and how is it going to make the team different this year, that you’re seeing little by little.

COACH ASH: You know, started last spring, the transition in our offense started last spring. We’re going to be a lot more multiple on offense, and I think what we’re going to do is with our offense, is do what we need to do to win games.

 

There’s going to be times that we can speed it up and there’s going be to times that we have to slow it down, and we’re not just going to be a team that goes fast and we’re not just going to be a team that goes slow. We’re going to do what we need to do to have success. And that’s not just offensive success. That’s defensive success, also, because the best defense is the best offense and vice versa.

 

We’re more multiple, so we can use different personal groupings. We can use our best players. We have contingency plans if injuries occur at certain positions and we don’t have guys anymore.

 

Again, do what we need to do to manage the game and the clock so we can play really good defense, because that’s our No. 1 plan to win. We’ve got to hold on to the football and keep the offense on the field; and if that means slow it down, then that’s what we have to do.

 

But Jerry looks at that, and that’s why he was such an important hire. Because he looks at it from a head coach’s standpoint: Hey, what do we need to do to have success. It’s not about my stats; it’s not about, you know, points — we need to have points or score points. We want to have great offensive stats, but at the end of the day, what do we need to do to give ourselves a chance to have success, and. That’s the way he looks at it and that’s what I wanted in that position.

 

Q. Two-part question on Janarion. One, how is he coming along as an overall receiver –

COACH ASH: How long have we been doing this? Eight minutes, and this is the first question about Janarion? I’m shocked.

 

Q. That’s why it’s a two-parter. Second part, is the plan to use him offensively, and are you switching up offensive schemes? Last year he took some balls out of the backfield — is that the plan for him?

COACH ASH: When you talk about changing up offensive schemes, we’re not necessarily changing. We’re adding to what we did and diversifying what we did last year.

 

But Janarion is still going to be one of our top playmakers on our football team and we are going to use him how we have to use him to have success.

 

I think the thing that is different this year is we’re going to probably have some more playmakers around Janarion why we might not have to ask him to do as much. But he’s a dynamic player, and we’re going to use him as much as we possibly can; and not put him in harm’s way by playing him at every snap.

 

Wish we could get him over at corner, too, a little bit. We’re going to use him as much as we have to, and he’ll be all over the field both on special teams and on offense.

 

Q. Wonder if you’ve been able to determine what kind of role Damon Mitchell is going to have for your team, and also are you at liberty to give an update about his brother, Amir, and his recovery from his knee injury?

COACH ASH: We’ll start with Duwop, as we call him, Damon Mitchell. He’s going to have a huge role in our football team. He’s been a great addition to our roster as a graduate transfer coming in from Arkansas. He’s big, physical. He’s been learning the offense. He’s probably a lot better right now today than obviously he was in the spring and doing some good things.

 

Where it really shows up is on special teams. His history at Arkansas is he was an outstanding special teams player, and in practice, he has shown that he’s going to do that for us, also.

 

So he’s going to help us on offense at receiver and he’s going to help us on special teams. He’s a big, athletic body. Got good football IQ and excited about what he brings to the table.

 

His brother, Amir, as you guys all know, tore his ACL in the spring and his rehab is going great, probably slightly ahead of schedule. Hope to have him back playing sometime in the middle of the season. When that is, I don’t know yet, but he is rehabbing and he is ahead of schedule and he’s out there doing some things right now on the side.

 

Q. Regarding separation at quarterback, has Kyle maybe separated himself a little bit more? Looked like he handled a little more first team reps yesterday.

COACH ASH: I can’t say that either one of them has separated themselves. It just goes by day. You know, one day one looks like they have separated and the next day it’s someone else.

 

You know, so it’s really — this week, we’ve really got to find out who is going to be the most consistent and most dependable. They both got strengths. They both got weaknesses. I shouldn’t even say both; all three, because Johnathan Lewis is right in the mix, too, getting a lot of represents. Those are you that have watched Johnathan at practice, kid has got a bright future. Big, good looking, strong-armed kid that’s got tremendous football IQ, and I’m very, very excited about Johnathan Lewis’s future.

 

But all three of those guys, they have strengths, they have weaknesses they have good days and they have bad days. Right now they are all three probably putting together more good days than they are bad days. And at the end of the day, it’s about who we can trust to go out and protect the football, make good decisions and we really need to see that this week before we say, hey, this guy or that guy going to be the starter in game one.

 

Q. What are your hopes for attendance by Rutgers fans this season, and how much of a difference can that make in your home games?

COACH ASH: When you win, they all come. That’s what it is. We over — at times, over-complicate attendance. We want fans at our games. We want people there to create a tremendous environment but I also know a lot of that is determined by the product you have on the field. If I was a college football fan, too, I probably wouldn’t be paying money to go to a game that it wasn’t going to be very competitive. That’s just calling it as it is, you know.

 

We hope to be more competitive. We hope to be winning more games this year. We hope the fans will want to come out and watch us play and watch some of the exciting football we play here in the stadium.

 

You know, like I mentioned, we’re a lot better football team right now today than we were last year at this point, and hopefully that translates into more enthusiasm and excitement once we start games and people get to see that.

 

Q. Obviously we focused a lot last year publically on special teams and offense. But defensively, since that’s your background and there’s like eight or nine returning starters, how much room for improvement is there, and do you almost put a little extra on them with the offense undergoing some changes and does the defense have to take the lead for this team?

COACH ASH: No, we’ve got to be great in all three phases. It’s not, well, this phase is going to be better and it’s okay for the other ones not to be good. I don’t look at anything like that. They all three have to be operating as good as we possibly can make them.

 

Like I mentioned before, why is Jerry so important; defense is a product of your offense. Unless you’re loaded with tremendous talent and great players and you’ve just got better personnel than someone else, it’s hard to play really good defense. If you can’t move the sticks, you can’t change the field position with special teams and you’re not putting points on the board. Just you can’t do it.

 

I thought last year, you know, you look at the stats, they are not very good but we are a better defense than the stats showed. Again, you go through the course of the year when you don’t have the depth on defense to rotate guys, but you’re not — offensively, again, controlling the ball, scoring points, moving the sticks, keeping the defense off the field, you have no chance to play good defense.

 

Our players understand that. And it’s no different for the offense. You know, we’ve got to play great defense for our offense and get the ball back for our offense and put them in good field position. The best offense is a good defense; I truly believe that.

 

Both offenses and defenses are a reflection of our ability to play special teams, too. If we can’t set the offense and defense up with good field position because of our special teams play, you’re not going to have a chance to be successful.

 

You look at us last year, starting average field position on offense was one of the worst. Starting average field position on defense was one of the worst. Why is that? Well, it’s a combination of all three phases. It’s not just one phase over the other. It’s called complementary football and we have to be a team that uses our players the right way and we can complement each other so we can get better in all three phases.

 

Q. With Kemoko Turay, other than obviously the injury stuff last year, where have you seen him change and develop over the last couple of months?

COACH ASH: Really his football IQ and his focus on being a really good football player. Kemoko is one of those guys that’s had a lot or talent. And you guys have heard this before: You’ve got to be aware of talented players and talented people, at times, because they want to get by just on their talent alone. You know, that was probably Kemoko, early on in his career, is he was able to get by on just his talent alone and would maybe tend to cruise a little bit or not be as focused as you would like him to be.

 

Kemoko has really matured and really focused on being a good teammate. He’s really focused on being the best player that he can be. He wants to be an all-around good player, an every-down player. Early on in his career, he was satisfied with just being a third down guy; go out there and rush the passer. And that would be great if that’s all did he and he did it well. But we want and need him to be an every-down player, and that’s what he wants, also. And he understands that he’s got to be focused to do that.

 

He’s really learned the football — he has such a limited football background that his football IQ wasn’t really high, but he’s learned the game. At least from what I can tell here in this last year, he’s learned a lot more about the game, and you know, I just like where he’s at right now. He’s really, all the way from January to where we are right now, he’s worked really hard. He’s bigger. He’s stronger. More intelligent in terms of football right now. And he’s really focused on being the best that he can be.

 

Q. You’ve been here for — you’re entering your second season here, and when you look back to when you first were introduced and to the point where you are now, what has it been like for you, just these past 18- to 20-months that you’ve been here, you know, emotionally, just a grind, recruiting, everything; what have things been like for you?

COACH ASH: It’s been a blur. You know, it’s gone by really fast to be honest with you, because when you start, there’s just so much coming at you.

 

Again, you mentioned from just coaching players to recruiting to donor relationships, off the field behavior, academic, there’s just so much that comes at you and to be able to get all injure systems in place and to get things running the way you want and to be able to manage your time the way you need to, it takes a lot of time. It’s been a blur. Honestly, that’s just the way coaches are. You just kind of go and you go, go, go, and you Wake up one day you and look at the time and say, where did it all go.

 

I really haven’t had a lot of time to think about what we’ve been able to do and whatever, the 18 months that we’ve been here. But I know it’s gone by fast. We’ve done a lot of things and feel good about what we’re doing, but you know — I don’t know if that answers your question or not.

 

Q. Are there times where it’s overwhelming at all?

COACH ASH: No. It’s just football coaching, you know. I don’t care if you’re an assistant coach or head coach. If you’re going to do things the right way, it takes an insane amount of time. As an assistant coach, you’re doing the same thing. You’re recruiting, you’re developing you’re players. You’re doing things academically with your players. You’re doing things to build relationships with the players. So you’re always working.

 

This is not a 9:00 to 5:00 job. College football is not a 9:00 to 5:00 job. It’s not a six-month job that you do during the season. It’s a year round job and that’s the way most coaches look at it, and that’s the way I look at it. It’s no different here than it is being at other places that I’ve been a part of. It’s no — really, maybe a little bit more when you’re the head coach versus an assistant coach because there’s a few more things you’ve got to do. But the days, you get in early, stay late and you enjoy what you do.

 

Q. Gus Edwards, what’s he done the first two weeks to step out and how do you keep — with the depth that you have, how do you keep five guys happy and content with touches?

COACH ASH: You can’t keep five guys happy if they all want to touch the ball. That’s not our job to keep everybody happy.

 

Our job is to go out and move the ball and score points. If we’re worried about keeping everybody happy, that’s not going to work. We’re worried about putting the best players in position to give ourselves a chance to have success.

 

And right now through two weeks, Gus has shown that he can do that. He’s a big back, 230 pounds, got great speed, he’s got great balance. He’s also demonstrated really good ball security. The ball has not been on the ground with Gus. He’s willing — in pass protection, also and been a great addition.

 

He’s a real serious dude. Loves the game of football. Works really hard every single day. That’s not one day where you have to say, Gus, let’s get going. He shows up to work every single day and it’s made that room better and it’s made our offense better.

 

I just love having him here. He’s a guy on a mission. He’s came here, has one last year and obviously would like to have a shot at the NFL, and he knows he’s got to go out and extra great year to do that.

 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

 

PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY  ASAP Sports; COURTESY RUTGERS UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS COMMUNICATIONS

 

As usual, Mount Union is the team to beat in Ohio Athletic Conference

Austintown, OH – Mount Union, under the direction of fifth-year Head Coach Vince Kehres, was picked in both the preseason media and coaches’ polls to win the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) football title in 2017. The preseason polls were released today at the OAC Football Media Preview, held at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Mount Union received 26 of 36 first place votes (354 points) in the media poll and eight of 10 first place votes (80 points) in the coaches’ poll. Head coaches do not vote for their own teams in the balloting.

The Purple Raiders return 14 starters and 52 letterwinners from 2016 and will look to contend for the OAC title and use the experience gained as the program made its 22nd straight trip to the national semifinals.

“We appreciate the respect that coaches and the media in the OAC have for our program,” commented fifth-year head coach Vince Kehres. “We also know that playing in this conference is a tremendous challenge week in and week out.” The Raiders play three of their first four games at home and six regular season home game starting September 2 against North Carolina Wesleyan.

Coaches Poll Media Poll Rank School (1st Place Votes) Pts. Rank School (1st Place Votes) Pts.

1 Mount Union 80 (8) 1 Mount Union 345 (26) 2 John Carroll 74 (2) 2 John Carroll 327 (9) 3 Heidelberg 60 3 Ohio Northern 265 4 Ohio Northern 54 4 Heidelberg 244 (1) 5 Otterbein 52 5 Otterbein 212 6 Baldwin Wallace 38 6 Baldwin Wallace 180 7 Marietta 32 7 Capital 143 8 Capital 31 8 Muskingum 123 9 Muskingum 18 9 Marietta 101 10 Wilmington 11 10 Wilmington 40

 

PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY Lindsay Miller; COURTESY OHIO ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

 

South Florida Bulls 2017 favorite to win American Athletic Conference Football title in preseason media poll

July 18, 2017 

For Immediate Release

 

 

USF, Memphis tabbed as divisional favorites

2017 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE 

PRESEASON FOOTBALL MEDIA POLL

American Championship
Team Points
USF 26
Houston 2
Memphis 1
Navy 1
East Division
Team Points
1. USF (30) 180
2. UCF 126
3. Temple 119
4. Cincinnati 100
5. East Carolina 63
6. UConn 42
West Division
Team Points
1. Memphis (22) 169
2. Houston (6) 137
3. Navy (1) 128
4. Tulsa (1) 102
5. SMU 64
6. Tulane 30
first-place votes in parentheses

NEWPORT, R.I. – The USF Bulls have been selected as the favorite to win the 2017 American Athletic Conference Championship and were the unanimous choice to win The American’s East Division title in the conference’s preseason media poll.

 

The Bulls received 26 of a possible 30 votes to win the league title, while the Bulls were listed first on all 30 ballots in the East Division.

 

Memphis was the media’s choice in the West Division as the Tigers received 22 first-place votes and 169 points. Houston was projected as the conference champion on two ballots, while Memphis and Navy received one vote each as the projected conference champion.

 

USF, which finished the 2016 season ranked No. 19 nationally, returns 18 starters, including six all-conference players, from a team that went 11-2 and defeated South Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl last season. Head coach Charlie Strong, who served as Louisville’s head coach during the first season of American Athletic Conference football in 2013, returns to the conference as the Bulls’ fourth coach in school history. USF will be led by quarterback Quinton Flowers, the 2016 American Offensive Player of the Year who set a school record with 4,342 yards of total offense and accounted for 42 touchdowns last year.

 

UCF was picked second in the East Division after the Knights improved by six wins in Scott Frost’s first year as head coach. The Knights return 14 starters from last year, including linebacker Shaquem Griffin, who was the 2016 American Defensive Player of the Year. Griffin had a breakout year with a league-leading 11.5 sacks to go with 20 tackles for loss, seven pass breakups, an interception, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

 

Temple was third in the East Division in the preseason poll with 119 points. The Owls have turned in back-to-back 10-win seasons and won the American Athletic Conference championship last season, but first-year head coach Geoff Collins, the former defensive coordinator at Florida and Mississippi State, will have to replace veteran starters at quarterback and running back on offense as well as a first-round draft pick from a defense that ranked third nationally in yards allowed last season.

 

Cincinnati was picked fourth in the East Division with 100 points. The Bearcats welcome new head coach Luke Fickell, the longtime Ohio State defensive coordinator and former Buckeye head coach, who has 11 returning starters from 2016, including quarterback Hayden Moore and two of the top three receivers from last year.

 

East Carolina was tabbed for fifth in the East Division as second-year coach Scottie Montgomery looks to get the Pirates back to bowl eligibility. The Pirates will have to replace wide receiver Zay Jones, who set the NCAA single-season and career receptions records in 2016, but East Carolina has its next four leading receivers from last season returning.

 

UConn was sixth in the preseason poll in the East Division. Head coach Randy Edsall returns to UConn, where he manned the sidelines for 12 years, won two conference titles, and led the Huskies to the Fiesta Bowl in the 2010 season.

 

Memphis was named as the favorite in the West Division as the Tigers claimed 22 of the 30 first-place votes for 169 points. The Tigers have 17 returning starters from last year, including quarterback Riley Ferguson, who led The American and set a school record with 32 touchdown passes in 2016. The Tigers also have a proven deep threat as wide receiver Anthony Miller finished 2016 with 95 catches for 1,434 yards and 14 touchdowns.

 

Houston received six first-place votes and was picked for second in the West Division with 137 points. Major Applewhite enters his first full season as the Cougars’ head coach after spending the last two seasons as Houston’s offensive coordinator, helping the team to 22 wins in the last two years. Houston returns All-America defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who set a conference record with 23.0 tackles for loss as a freshman and has been tabbed as the nation’s top defensive player by several national outlets in the preseason.

 

Navy was picked third in the West Division with 128 points, including one first-place vote. The Midshipmen have won or shared the West Division title in each of their first two seasons in The American and have gone 14-2 in conference regular-season games since 2015. Ken Niumatalolo’s team returns nine starters from last year, including linebacker D.J. Palmore, who had 107 tackles and 6.0 sacks last season.

 

Tulsa received one first-place vote and was tabbed for fourth in the West Division with 102 points. The Golden Hurricane reached double digits in wins for the fifth time in 10 seasons after last year’s 10-3 showing under third-year head coach Philip Montgomery. Tulsa returns three all-conference offensive linemen, which bodes well for 1,400-yard rusher D’Angelo Brewer.

 

SMU was fifth in the West Division projection with 64 points. The Mustangs improved by three wins from 2015 to 2016 as Chad Morris’ squad finished one win shy of bowl eligibility. SMU returns 16 starters from last year, including dynamic wide receiver Courtland Sutton, who had 1,246 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns on his way to first-team all-conference honors.

 

Tulane was projected sixth in the West, though hopes in New Orleans are considerably higher as the Green Wave returns 17 starters from last year. Head coach Willie Fritz, who enters his second year at Tulane, has seen his teams improve by an average of 2.3 wins from his first year to his second at each of his three previous head coaching stops.

 

The third American Athletic Conference Football Championship will be played Saturday, Dec. 2, at the home site of the division champion with the best conference record.

 

 

 

Preseason Poll Notes

The favorite in the American Athletic Conference preseason media poll has ended up winning the conference title once in the league’s first four seasons;

Year Favorite Conference Finish Champion
2013 Louisville 2nd UCF
2014 Cincinnati t-1st UCF, Cincinnati, Memphis
2015 Cincinnati t-3rd East Houston
2016 Houston t-3rd West Temple

 

 

All-Time Preseason Media Polls


2016

American Championship

Team                                 Points

Houston                                27

USF                                          2

Temple                                   1

 

East Division

Team                                 Points

1.       USF (15)                               164

2.       Temple (9)                          144

3.       Cincinnati (6)                     130

4.       UConn                                   89

5.       East Carolina                      55

6.       UCF                                        48

 

West Division

Team                                 Points

1.       Houston (30)                     180

2.       Navy                                     128

3.       Memphis                             124

4.       Tulsa                                     92

5.       SMU                                       65

6.       Tulane                                   41

 


2015

American Championship

Team                                 Points

Cincinnati                            22

Memphis                               5

Houston                                 2

UCF                                         1

 

East Division

Team                                Points

1.         Cincinnati (29)                 179

2.        UCF (1)                                135

3.        Temple                               116

4.        East Carolina                    105

5.        USF                                       53

6.        UConn                                  42

 

West Division

Team                                Points

1.         Memphis (13)                   153

2.        Houston (10)                     149

3.        Navy (7)                              148

4.        Tulane                                  74

5.        SMU                                     59

6.        Tulsa                                    47

 


2014

Team                                 Points

1.       Cincinnati (17)                    311

2.       UCF (7)                                 296

3.       Houston (6)                        268

4.       East Carolina                     262

5.       SMU                                      158

6.       USF                                        157

7.       Memphis                            133

8.       Temple                                105

9.       UConn                                   98

Tulane                                  98

11.     Tulsa                                     94
2013

Team                                 Points

1.       Louisville (28)                    298

2.       Cincinnati (2)                     257

3.       Rutgers                               240

4.       UCF                                       210

5.       USF                                       155

6.       Houston                              134

7.       UConn                                  131

8.       SMU                                      118

9.       Temple                                 60

10.     Memphis                              47

 

 

 

 

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PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY Chuck Sullivan; COURTESY AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE COMMUNICATIONS

Iowa announces 2017 Football Single-Game Ticket Information

July 18, 2017

 

IOWA FOOTBALL SINGLE-GAME TICKET INFORMATION

 

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The University of Iowa Athletics Department announced today that single game ticket sales for all 2017 home football games at Kinnick Stadium will begin on Thursday, July 20. Fans are limited to purchasing 10 tickets per game.

 

Sales to the general public will begin on Wednesday, July 26, after members of the National I-Club and 2017 Iowa football season ticket holders have an opportunity to make single game purchases based on the following schedule:

Thursday, July 20 — Kinnick Gold and Kinnick Society members
Friday, July 21 – Champion Club and Golden Hawk members
Monday, July 24 – All other National I-Club donor levels

Tuesday, July 25 – 2017 season ticket holders who are not members of the National I-Club
Wednesday, July 26 – General public

 

For more information about the National I-Club or to join the National I-Club, visit jointheiclub.com or call (319) 467-3410.

 

Single game ticket sales will begin online at hawkeyesports.com at 9 a.m. (CT). Fans can also call the UI Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800-IA-HAWKS to place their order between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day. Fans should not submit multiple orders, which may result in termination of their purchase and denial of tickets.

 

Hawkeye fans interested in bringing a group of 20 or more to a home game are encouraged to contact Rachael Bedell, group sales coordinator, at (319) 384-4299 or rachael-bedell@hawkeyesports.com. If a group also desires turn-key game-day hospitality inside Hawkeye Village, the group leader should contact Bravo Sports Marketing at (319) 626-8286.

The Hawkeyes are coming off an eight-win season last year, which included an appearance in the Outback Bowl. Iowa will host seven games inside Kinnick Stadium in 2017, beginning Sept. 2, against Wyoming at 11 a.m. (CT).

A reminder for fans that the UI Athletics Ticket Office is still accepting orders for 2017 Iowa football season tickets and the new Fight For Iowa Mobile Ticket Pass. Three-game football ticket mini-packs will remain on sale through Wednesday, July 19.

2017 Iowa Football Home Schedule
Sept. 2……. Wyoming (11 am)…………..$45 each, $25 youth tickets & discount-priced group tickets also available
Sept. 16….. North Texas (2:30 pm)…….$45 each, $25 youth tickets & discount-priced group tickets also available
Sept. 23….. Penn State…………………….$95 each
Oct. 7……… Illinois (11 am) *…………… $60 each, $25 youth tickets & discount-priced group tickets also available
Oct. 28……. Minnesota…………………… $80 each, discount-priced group tickets also available
Nov. 4…….. Ohio State…………………… $95 each
Nov. 18…… Purdue…………………………$60 each, $25 youth tickets & discount-priced group tickets also available

* Homecoming

 

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PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY Matthew Weitzel; COURTESY IOWA ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

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