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College football game day: conference title games edition

By Matt Baker | Times Staff
Published: December 2, 2017
UCF Knights quarterback McKenzie Milton (10) works his way past South Florida Bulls linebacker Nico Sawtelle (54) for a touchdown during the first half of Friday's (11/24/17) in-state rival NCAA football game between UCF Knights and the USF Bulls at Spectrum Stadium at the University of Central Florida (UCF). (Douglas R. Clifford, Times)

Heisman QBs

UCF’s McKenzie Milton isn’t getting much Heisman Trophy buzz heading into today’s AAC title game against Memphis, but he compares favorably to the frontrunner.

UCF QB McKenzie Milton

221-320 passing; 3,301 yards; 30 TDs; 6 INTs; 182.9 rating (No. 2 nationally)

82 rushes; 429 yards; 6 TDs

Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield

247-346 passing; 4,097 yards; 37 TDs; 5 INTs; 203.3 rating (No. 1 nationally)

79 rushes; 245 yards; 5 TDs

3 things to know about FSU interim coach Odell Haggins

• The 50-year-old Bartow native is a former Seminoles standout. He was a nose guard for FSU from 1986-89 before spending three seasons in the NFL.

• Haggins is FSU’s longest tenured coach. He joined the Seminoles after the 1993 national title season and has been coaching defensive tackles since 1996. He earned associate head coach status in 2014.

• He has made it to a bowl game every season, as a player and assistant. FSU needs to beat Louisiana-Monroe today to keep that streak intact and set an NCAA record with a 36th consecutive bowl appearance.

Miami X factor

With injuries to TE Chris Herndon and WR Ahmmon Richards, No. 7 Miami needs someone to emerge as a second receiving threat, behind WR Braxton Berrios. Keep an eye on WR Jeff Thomas. The true freshman has the Hurricanes’ two longest catches of the season but needs more production if Miami has a chance of knocking off No. 1 Clemson.

Lakewood showdown

The SEC championship game will feature a Lakewood High reunion. Auburn WR Ryan Davis is coming off his best game of the year (11 catches, 139 yards in the Iron Bowl). He’ll be on the opposite sideline of Georgia LT Isaiah Wynn, who blocked for him when Davis was quarterbacking the Spartans. Another Lakewood alumnus, LB Shaquem Griffin, will try to win the AAC title for UCF.

Outstanding Owl

Florida Atlantic RB Devin Singletary is having a standout year — maybe as good as his position coach’s historic season a decade ago. Singletary has rushed for 1,632 yards and 26 touchdowns entering today’s Conference USA title game against North Texas. He’s averaging more yards per carry (6.6) than his position coach, former UCF star Kevin Smith, who ran for 2,567 yards and 29 scores in 2007.

Quick hits

• Former Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford has done a remarkable job, taking No. 25 Fresno State to the Mountain West title game. His next test: Beat Boise State for the second week in a row, this time on the road. Good luck.

• If No. 3 Wisconsin is going to make it win the Big Ten, the Badgers will have to follow the Iowa blueprint by finding a way to run on No. 8 Ohio State. The Hawkeyes are the only team to rush for more than 4.5 yards per carry on Greg Schiano’s Buckeyes defense.

• How weird is No. 2 Oklahoma playing No. 10 TCU twice in four weeks? The Horned Frogs hadn’t played the same opponent twice in a season since Dallas in 1913.