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Navy proved they belong in first year in the AAC

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Navy proved they belong in first year in the AAC

The 2015 season marked the first in the entire 135 year history of history of Navy football in which they did not compete as an independent.

After a long illustrious history that includes one national championship (1926) and two Heisman Trophies, the Naval Academy accepted an invitation to join the Big East in 2012. With the college football landscape growing evermore tumultuous due to conference realignment, Navy gambled and stuck with that commitment even after the Big East became the American Athletic Conference.

Even after only one year, that gamble has paid off in spades.

Let's forget for a moment what Navy did on the field this season. In this era of college football, life as in independent is difficult. Scheduling is hard to do without eight or nine conference games filling up the schedule. Obviously Navy will always have Notre Dame and Army to play every season, but they still have to fill another 10 games every season.

A team like Notre Dame can always find teams to play, especially with their five game agreement with the ACC. It is not so easy for the less prestigious programs. Army played against two FCS opponents this season which is not what Navy, a team that has remained competitive despite the obvious disadvantages that come with competing as a military academy, wants to do.

Bowl tie-ins are also largely based on conference affiliations.

The struggles of finding teams to play or bowls to play in have frustrated teams like BYU and may have contributed to long-time coach Bronco Mendenhall leaving for Virginia. As strength of schedule becomes more important in the age of the College Football Playoff, most independents, other than Notre Dame, are left on the outside looking in. Some conferences don't consider BYU or Army as "power teams" which thus discourages them from adding independents to future schedules.

By joining a conference, Navy gets eight conference games per season, plus Notre Dame and Navy. That means they only need to schedule two other games per season. They also don't need to be worried about getting left out of a bowl should they qualify thanks to the AAC tie-ins.

Now let's go on the field. None of those benefits would matter if Navy was completely non-competitive. That's not what happened. Navy finished 7-1 in conference play, tied with first place in the division with eventual conference champion Houston. Ken Niumatalolo was named the conference's Co-Coach of the Year with Houston's Tom Herman. The Midshipmen are now slated to play in the Military Bowl against Pittsburgh, a game that will take place in Navy's home stadium in Annapolis.

To say this worked out for Navy would be an understatement.

Navy may not always compete for the conference crown as they did this season, but the benefits that come with the move to the AAC will remain. Trading in their tradition as an independent was a gamble, but it will be good for the program and it's a move that has already paid off for the Midshipmen.

For tickets to the 2015 Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman, click here!

Howard's Caylin Newton, Cam's younger brother, is carving out his own legacy on the gridiron

Howard's Caylin Newton, Cam's younger brother, is carving out his own legacy on the gridiron

In the heart of our nation's capital sits the renowned, private and historically black Howard University. 

Leading the school's football team inside William H. Greene Stadium is a familiar name in the sport of football. 

Caylin Newton, younger brother of Carolina Panthers star Cam Newton, is a sophomore stud quarterback for the Bison and has wasted no time bursting onto the scene. 

In September 2017, during his first week as a college football player, Newton led Howard to a historic win, defeating 45-point favorite UNLV, 43-40. This marked the biggest point-spread upset in the history of college football. 

Talk about putting yourself on the map as a true freshman. 

Newton was responsible for 330 total yards and three touchdowns. Like his older brother, he's a dual threat who likes to leave the pocket. 

Head coach Mike London describes his quarterback as a "selfless leader who wants the team to win," and has given the 19-year-old the keys to his Bison offense under center. 

The 2015 NFL MVP's presence and success have obviously followed his younger brother, but haven't hindered him. 

"Cam has said on multiple occasions that he wants his brother to be his own man, to forge his own identity. He does a great job allowing Caylin to be Caylin and get the accolades that he deserves. And Caylin does the same thing," London said. 

Jackie and Cecil Newton Sr. raised three boys in a football family. Sr.'s closest shot at a NFL roster came in 1983 and 1984 when he was cut as a safety from the pre-season rosters of Dallas and Buffalo respectively. The oldest, Cecil Newton Jr., had brief stints with several teams in the NFL but ultimately never found a home. He last played for the Baltimore Ravens' practice squad in 2011. 

10 years separate Cam and Caylin, but that hasn't stopped younger brother from looking up to older brother. 

"It's been amazing. To see his work ethic to how much time he puts in...all I have to do is watch him. It's almost like a blueprint," Caylin Newton said. "That's what I try to mold my game after, as far as mentally and physically."  

The 5-11, 195-pound QB is as mild-mannered as it comes, at least away from the football field. Much like older bro, he has a way with words. 

"My personality is cool, calm and collected. I try not to get too hot or too low, regardless of what's going on in my life. I try to give people this image of me as a man of god, a person who's trying to do everything the right way,” Newton said. 

With Cam and his Carolina Panthers coming to town Sunday to play the Redskins at FedEx Field, Caylin commented on how he sees things shaking out on the gridiron. 

"I expect a win, by any means necessary. I know he's gonna pull it out and I can't wait to celebrate with him after the game, Newton said. 

Loyalty at its finest. 

The Redskins square off against the Panthers at 1 p.m. Sunday. Tune in to Redskins Kickoff Live at noon on NBC Sports Washington. 

Virginia Tech keeps bouncing in and out of AP top 25 poll, back out after Notre Dame loss

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USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech keeps bouncing in and out of AP top 25 poll, back out after Notre Dame loss

Notre Dame moved into the top five, Texas and UCF reached the top 10 and the Southeastern Conference placed a season-high eight teams in the latest Associated Press college football poll.

After three teams in the top eight and eight ranked teams overall lost on Saturday, there was significant movement throughout the AP Top 25 , except in the first four spots.

Alabama stayed No. 1, with 59 first-place votes and Georgia remained No. 2. No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Clemson each received a first-place vote from the media panel.

Notre Dame reached a season-high fifth after beating Virginia Tech on Saturday night. Texas jumped 10 spots to No. 9 after beating Oklahoma. The Longhorns are in the top 10 for the first time since Sept. 19, 2010, when they reached No. 7.

No. 10 UCF has never been ranked higher during the regular season. The Knights, who have the nation's longest winning streak at 18 games, finished last season unbeaten and at No. 6.

The SEC's eight teams are the most by a conference since the SEC had eight on Oct. 16, 2016. The record for most teams in the AP Top 25 for one conference is 10 by the SEC on Sept. 8, 2015.

COMPLETE AP TOP 25 POLL WEEK 7

1. Alabama 6-0 (59 first-place votes, no change from last week)

2. Georgia 6-0 (No change from last week)

3. Ohio State 6-0 (1 first-place vote, no change from last week)

4. Clemson 6-0 (1 first-place vote, no change from last week)

5. Notre Dame 6-0 (No. 6 last week)

6. West Virginia 5-0 (No. 9 last week)

7. Washington 5-1 (No. 10 last week)

8. Penn State 4-1 (No. 11 last week)

9. Texas 5-1 (No. 19 last week)

10. UCF 5-0 (No. 12 last week)

11. Oklahoma 5-1 (No. 7 last week)

12. Michigan 5-1 (No. 15 last week)

13. LSU 5-1 (No. 5 last week)

14. Florida 5-1 (No. 22 last week)

15. Wisconsin 4-1 (No. 16 last week)

16. Miami 5-1 (No. 17 last week)

17. Oregon 4-1 (No. 18 last week)

18. Kentucky 5-1 (No. 13 last week)

19. Colorado 5-0 (No. 21 last week)

20. NC State 5-0 (No. 23 last week) 

21. Auburn 4-2 (No. 8 last week)

22. Texas A&M 4-2 (Not ranked last week)

23. South Florida 5-0 (Not ranked last week)

24. Mississippi State 4-2 (Not ranked last week)

25. Cincinnati 6-0 (Not ranked last week)

POLL POINTS

For the first time this season, every unbeaten FBS team is ranked. After LSU, Oklahoma and Kentucky lost on Saturday, there are 11 undefeated teams left. The new unbeatens to join the rankings were both from the American Athletic Conference: No. 23 South Florida (5-0) and No. 25 Cincinnati (6-0).

The Bulls finished each of the last two seasons ranked, but for the Bearcats 2018 has been a turnaround season for second-year coach Luke Fickell. Cincinnati is bowl eligible for the first time since 2015 and ranked for the first time since Oct. 14, 2012.

Including UCF, the American has three ranked teams, as many as the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12 and Pac-12.

Re-entering the rankings were No. 22 Texas A&M and No. 24 Mississippi State from the SEC.

OUT

-- Stanford lost for the second straight week and dropped out for the first time this season.

-- Michigan State's second loss sent it out of the rankings for the first time.

-- Virginia Tech and Oklahoma State both lost for a second time and dropped out again after re-entering just last week.

CONFERENCE CALL

SEC -- 8 teams (1, 2, 13, 14, 18, 21, 22, 24).

Big Ten -- 4 (3, 8, 12, 14).

ACC -- 3 (4, 16, 20).

American -- 3 (10, 23, 25).

Big 12 -- 3 (6, 9, 11).

Pac-12 -- 3 (7, 17, 19).

Independent -- 1 (5).

RANKED vs. RANKED

No. 2 Georgia at No. 13 LSU. The Bulldogs have had a smooth ride so far, but this is the first of three games in four weeks that will likely determine if they can repeat as SEC East champions.

No. 7 Washington at No. 17 Oregon. The Ducks get another chance to make a statement after fumbling away the Stanford game.

No. 15 Wisconsin at No. 12 Michigan. The loser gets relegated from contender to playoff spoiler.

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