Granted, the American Athletic Conference has not been around that long, but still, there have been some memorable teams, players and moments.
And now, the AAC wants the fans to get involved in balloting for a “Fifth Anniversary Team.” On Monday the conference laid out the voting parameters and the nominees on their official website:
Fans, cast your vote today for the American Athletic Conference Fifth Anniversary Football Team.https://t.co/OpbMCUrEjc
Voting closes July 13. Help us recognize the best of The American in our first five years. pic.twitter.com/zU2HHyVBPz
— American Football (@American_FB) July 2, 2018
From a portion of the AAC release:
“The American will name its Fifth Anniversary Team July 24 at the conference’s annual Summer Kickoff and Media Days in Newport, Rhode Island.
The fan balloting will be one of three components that will determine the team, along with votes from the 12 football-playing schools and the local and national media that covers The American.”
The release then spelled out some interesting names for the voting and we’ll focus mainly on the Bulls and Knights.
This includes a tough call at quarterback, where only two names can be chosen from the likes of UCF’s Blake Bortles and McKenzie Milton, plus USF’s Quinton Flowers, Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville, Kennan Reynolds of Navy, Greg Ward of Houston and Paxton Lynch of Memphis.
In the cases of Bortles, Milton, Bridgewater and Ward, they all won the conference title and then, a “New Year’s Six” bowl game upset. Flowers and Reynolds are two tremendous statistical dual threat QB’s and Lynch had two tremendous seasons for the Tigers, as well.
Not an easy call.
At running back, USF’s all time leading running back rusher, Marlon Mack and UCF’s Storm Johnson, who ran for 1,300 yards in their magical Fiesta Bowl season of 2013 headline the AAC’s list.
Interesting that UCF’s Breshard Perriman is the only Knight or Bull on the receiver ballot.
Meanwhile, the defensive line has names like USF’s Aaron Lynch, and UCF’s Jamiyus Pittman make the nominees, and at linebacker, the Bulls Auggie Sanchez, a three time all AAC performer, is on the list. Also there is the “feel good” story in the history of the conference in Shaquem Griffin, who was AAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 and helped lead the Knights to their unbeaten Peach Bowl wining season last year.
(No. They aren’t “National Champions.)
Players like UCF DB Mike Hughes, USF’s Deatrick Nichols, and Knights safety Clayton Geathers, a two time all conference selection are par of the secondary balloting.
And finally, USF’s Emilo Nadelman is battling for the top place kicker honors, too.
The fan portion of the voting will continue through July 13th.
Six TD performance lands UCF QB Milton American Player of Week
After an unexpected week off due to Hurricane Florence, UCF and quarterback McKenzie Milton wanted to make a statement last Friday night on ESPN against FAU. And the Knights, with Milton at the controls did not fail to deliver in a 56-36 romp.
The junior from Hawaii accounted for the first six touchdowns UCF scored in the game, as this one was over by the end of the third quarter. Now, Milton has earned American Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors.
They made it official late Monday morning:
After having a hand in six touchdowns and finishing with 389 yards of total offense to lead the Knights to their conference-record 16th straight victory, @UCFFootball's McKenzie Milton is the #AmericanFB Offensive Player of the Week.
— American Football (@American_FB) September 24, 2018
Milton, who still has a legitimate shot to get into the Heisman Trophy conversation, shows no signs of letting up in terms of being able to score with his arm and with his wheels. He had 306 yards passing and another 81 yards rushing, as UCF’s offense overwhelmed the Owls.
It’s already the second time that Milton has gotten the award in 2018 having also been American Player of the Week after the opening conference game blowout at UConn. That night he threw for 356 yards and five touchdowns in the win over the Huskies.
Friday night’s win kept the nation’s longest winning streak of 16 games, in tact.
Now, Milton and UCF have a chance to get more credibility, when they take on Pitt out of the ACC on Saturday at Spectrum Stadium at 3:30.
Knights-QB Milton did their part in UCF Friday night romp
it was a “points bonanza,” as advertised in Orlando Friday night, and in the end, UCF and it’s leader looked the part of conference champ and playoff contender. This as the Knights cruised to a 56-36 easy win over in state Florida Atlantic.
We wondered if Friday would restart the Heisman Trophy hopes of QB McKenzie Milton and he delivered on a National TV stage big time and early. Milton threw or ran for the Knights first six touchdowns of the game, including this one in the third quarter, where he juked half of the Owls on the field:
— Leger Douzable (@LegerDouzable) September 22, 2018
The junior from Hawaii finished with 387 yards from scrimmage and is definitely one of best dual threat QBs in America that will continue to garner attention.
FAU hung in the game for awhile, largely based on their star RB Devin Singletary. Singletary, the CUSA Offensive Player of the Year, ran for 131 yards and three touchdowns, as FAU was tied at halftime.
Still, the Knights who haven’t lost a game in 600 days, notched another victory in the nation’s longest win streak. They now have 16 straight games dating back to their December bowl loss in 2016.
And if you think UCF’s squad didn’t have some fun on a Friday night in front of over 44,000 at Spectrum Stadium in Orlando, think again. After the 20 point win, it was time to dance:
We win. We dance 😁 pic.twitter.com/UfikBDzXQN
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) September 22, 2018
UCF will get a tougher test from Pitt out of the ACC next week, and then later in October, will play a huge American conference regular season road game at Memphis. The Tigers are arguably the best team in the West division and want to avenge having lost both meetings to UCF in 2017. The Knights won a thrilling double OT Championship Game in Orlando last December to lock in a bid to the Peach Bowl.
That’s where they famously stunned SEC powerhouse Auburn earlier this year on New Year’s day.
Back to the 2018 squad, coach Josh Heupel and staff had to deal with an unexpected bye week after Hurricane Florence cancelled their game at North Carolina last Saturday. Needless to say, they had UCF ready for this one.
And, that usually means Milton was ready to show college football he’s one of the players in the game.
He didn’t disappoint, again, Friday.
Will UCF QB Milton kick-start Heisman talk Friday night?
With the understanding that quarterbacks of powerhouse programs like Tua Tagovailoa, Trace McSorley, and Will Grier will be getting most of the national hype throughout the seaason, in our state we know that UCF QB McKenzie Milton deserves to be consider for the Heisman, too.
The junior signal-caller for the Knights has been a bit victimized by the early part of the season and the schedule. First, Milton did get off to a tremendous start in UCF’s opening win at UConn, where he fired five touchdown passes in basically three quarters during a blowout win.
However, the following week against South Carolina State he was not sharp with a couple of early interceptions and even though UCF won impressively, Milton’s numbers of 243 yards, one touchdown and three picks jumped off the page, as a negative.
He and the Knights were looking to ramp the offense back up last weekend in a game against a Power 5 program on the road in North Carolina. But, as you probably know by now, Hurricane Florence wiped out that game, and it will not be made up.
So, it seems as though Milton’s Heisman hype which began back in the summer, has stalled out.
Well, now comes a Friday night showdown with cross-state rival FAU and something very important: national television exposure on a weeknight. You see, for a lot of the media and in particular Heisman voters, Milton’s games are not going to trump ones for Alabama, Penn State Ohio State, and the other Blue Blood programs that they would rather watch. It’s harsh, but it’s true.
So, this is an opportunity for him to light it up against an Owls defense and then, be seen and remembered for it.
FAU was bombed by Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray in their opening blowout loss in Norman, OK, Labor Day weekend. And, coach Lane Kiffin has to be fearful that more of the same may be coming from the potent Knights offense.
Yes, being a shootout with FAU may be possible because they boast running back Devin “Motor” Singletary, who was the CUSA Offensive Player of the Year in 2017.
So, it may be to Milton’s benefit, if FAU can score some in this game keep it close, and Milton gets a chance to play four full quarters and do it well.
If he’s going to make up ground on Tagovailoa and McSorley in particular, who are on national television almost every game, then that’s what Milton is going to have to take advantage of opportunities present themselves.
Friday night at Spectrum Stadium is one such opportunity for Milton and his Knights teammates.
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