NCAA Lacrosse Championships To Return To Gillette Stadium

Gillette Stadium will be the site for four NCAA Championships in 2025 and 2026. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan for NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

The NCAA unveiled future sites for future championships over the next few years earlier today, including lacrosse, which is scheduled to return to Gillette Stadium in 2025 and 2026. 

All three men’s championships – D-I, D-II, and D-III – will take place both years at the home of the New England Patriots while the D-I women’s title games will occur each year, as well. 

Gillette Stadium has been the host site for all three men’s lacrosse championships five times, including in 2018 when Yale University captured its first-ever national title by defeating Duke University by a score of 13-11. 

One year earlier – 2017, to be exact! – Maryland defeated Boston College in Foxborough, Massachusetts in the first championship game held in Foxborough, Massachusetts by a score of 16-13. 

College Football Notebook: Welcome To Week One

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By Matt Noonan 

The first official Saturday of the 2020 college football season is less than 24 hours away – crazy, right?

For the past few days, weeks, and months, both I and others, have debated if and how a season could be played, especially during the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. But somehow, some teams have found a way to keep everyone safe, including coaches, too.

And we already have a few games in the books, including a Week 0 affair between the Austin Peay State University and the University of Central Arkansas, which saw the Bears win by a score of 24-17.

Last night – Thursday, September 3, to be exact – the Bears suffered their first setback of the season, falling to the University of Alabama at Birmingham by a score of 45-35. 

UAB jumped out to a 28-21 advantage by the break while holding the Bears to just two touchdowns in the second half.

According to UCA coach Nathan Brown, UAB may be the “the best team we play all year.”

Next week the Bears will be idle before returning to the gridiron on Saturday, September 19 for a 6 p.m. kickoff against Arkansas State.

South Alabama was also victorious last night as the Jaguars topped the Golden Eagles of Southern Mississippi by a score of 32-21.

Southern Alabama’s Desmond Trotter and Chance Lovertich combined for three touchdown passes and 363 yards of total offense while Carlos Davis rushed for a game-high 85 yards on 15 carries.


Clemson secures top spot in ACC Preseason Poll: By no surprise, the Tigers of Clemson secured the top spot in this year’s Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) media poll while Notre Dame and North Carolina checked-in second and third, respectively.

Louisville and Virginia rounded out the top five, securing the fourth and fifth positions, respectively, while Boston College – yes, our local connection to the ACC – secured the 13th spot out of 15 teams.

Syracuse and Georgia Tech rounded out the final two spots in the 15 team poll, checking-in 14th, and 15th, respectively.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence was picked to win the ACC Player of the Year award.


Noontime’s Game of the Week: Army over Middle Tennessee State University: The Black Knights have enjoyed a great deal of success over the past few years in their home stadium – in fact, they’re 17-2 in West Point, New York, according to Saturday’s preview, dating back to the 2016 season.

Army ended its 2019 campaign with back-to-back losses, including a 31-7 setback to Navy, along with just five wins, but for the Black Knights to be successful, both tomorrow and this fall, they will need their quarterbacks – Jabari Laws and Christian Anderson – to play their best football.

While I know Middle Tennessee may be the favorite in this game, I’m going with an early-season upset alert with the Army edging the Blue Raiders on the final drive.

Noontime’s Game of the Week Prediction: Army 24, Middle Tennessee 22 


Noontime’s Week One Predictions 

  • Marshall over Eastern Kentucky 
  • Army over Middle Tennessee 
  • Southern Methodist University (SMU) over Texas State 
  • North Texas over Houston Baptist 
  • Memphis over Arkansas State 
  • Stephen F. Austin over the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP)
  • Navy over Brigham Young University (BYU) (the game will be played on Monday, September 7 at 8 p.m.) 

Decisions On The 2020 College Football Could Come This Week

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The question of if and when college football returns should be answered in the coming weeks. (PHOTO COURTESY: Ken Lund on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA)

By Matt Noonan 

The debate about if and how college football could be played during a pandemic may be answered this week, especially after a flurry of activity this past weekend between Power 5 conferences convening remotely, per reports, to the Mid-American Athletic Conference (MAC) becoming the first F.B.S. league to cancel its 2020 season.

Last night – Sunday, August 9, to be exact – we learned the Big Ten conference, which met twice this weekend, is leaning toward canceling its football season. And if football is canceled, it is likely both the presidents and chancellors of each institution would pull the plug on other fall sports, too.

An announcement from the Big Ten is expected if not today definitely this week, and pending the league’s final decision on the 2020 fall sports season, it is possible other Power 5 conferences such as the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and Pacific-12 Conference (Pac-12) could cancel their respective fall sports seasons or perhaps make tweaks to their newly updated schedules.

While nothing official has been announced by the Big Ten or any Power 5 conference as of this morning, Bob Bowlsby, who is the commissioner of the Big 12, did provide some insight into what leagues might take into consideration when deciding to cancel games this fall: players enduring longlasting cardiac issues from contracting the coronavirus (Covid-19) that may prohibit them from future competition.

As noted in a recent story from Sports Illustrated, team doctors and physicians are worried that youth athletes, who are healthy and may be asymptomatic, could develop life-long heart problems, including myocardial, which causes damage to the heart muscle. It appears this issue is just one of many both presidents and chancellors are grappling with when it comes to making a decision on the 2020 fall sports season.

Here in New England, it appears as if both Boston College and the University of Massachusetts will play football this fall, but it is not a given that either program will play or perhaps complete its entire schedule. It is possible, pending future announcements from the Big Ten and other leagues, that both seasons could be canceled or punted to next spring.

Merrimack College, which competes in the Northeastern Conference (NEC), will have to wait and see if their football team will be allowed to play games this fall. According to last month’s update, the NEC President’s council will reconvene on Thursday, October 1 to assess the ongoing pandemic and see if it’s possible to provide not just the Warriors, but every team in the conference with some form of competition.

Other New England schools, including those that compete at both the Division II and III levels, will not be competing this fall, despite some athletic departments still not announcing that fall sports are canceled. But it is likely those announcements could come if not this week later this month once students return to campus.

At the end of the day, these are not easy decisions, so fans and football fanatics need to respect whatever is announced either today or over the next few days. Yes, no college football in the fall would seem strange, but if these decisions result in keeping the student-athletes safe, along with everyone else involved with college athletics safe and healthy, then we should applaud both the presidents and chancellors for making the right call.

Will We Really See High School Football In New England This Fall?

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High School football normally begins in August, but

By Matt Noonan 

At first, the debate was about the colleges: will we actually see a college football season this fall?

That question is still being debated, especially here in Massachusetts with two local teams – Boston College and the University of Massachusetts – planning to play games this fall, despite the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

But while we anxiously await to see if either team or any college does play football this fall, the attention is slowly shifting to both local and national high school programs that seem eager, hopeful – and dare I say optimistic? – for a season to actually occur.

Here in New England, each state’s organization seems to have plans in place for their student-athletes to return to the playing field, pending it is safe to do so, of course. And if teams are able to return to the gridiron then that would open the door for the possibility of some games to be played. But don’t expect a lot of games to occur this fall – maybe we see one or two or possibly four?  

And pending how many games are played, then comes the next question: can we actually have a postseason?

My answer: I doubt it.

The thought of high school football or any sport being played during a pandemic just seems crazy unless you are a professional league. And it also doesn’t seem safe, either.

This topic was discussed on today’s Noontime Sports Podcast (listen to the show on Apple Podcast and Spotify) with Shawn McFarland of the Hartford Courant. I highly recommend you listen, as well as subscribe to our show, too. 

Shawn provided some great insight into if and how high school sports could be played, specifically in Connecticut, which has a much lower transmission rate than we do here in Massachusetts. But as Shawn and I both know, and so does the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), the situation is fluid and the virus could derail plans for not just high school football games and practices, but also the start of the upcoming school year.

I know so many of our fans and friends would like to see high school football games played this fall, but I don’t think it is feasible. And I certainly don’t think it is safe.

While you may think I am being too much of a worrywart or cautious (in this post), I believe our focus should be on keeping everyone safe, including teachers, principals, coaches, and yes, athletic directors, too.

I also believe it is not possible to play high school sports, especially if students are not in the classroom.  No one seems to know if and how a student could play a sport if their school year begins remotely – does anyone know? And if sports are allowed to occur in say mid-to-late September, then we should also allow other extracurricular activities,  too, such as jazz band, choir, and theatre.

We know these are unprecedented times and everyone is searching for some sense of normalcy, but risking the lives of not just our student-athletes, coaches, officials, but also community members, families, and friends doesn’t seem worth it.

High school sports – yes, an essential part of each community – will return one day, but for now, I believe it is best to stay on the sidelines for a few more months and wait until it is truly safe to play games again.

Clemson, Ohio State Top NCAA Coaches Preseason 2020 Poll

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The Clemson University football team was picked first in the NCAA Coaches Poll posted Thursday, August 6. (PHOTO COURTESY: BART BOATWRIGHT/OR THE STATE)

By Matt Noonan 

The question remains: will there actually be college football games this fall?

As of now, it appears so, but don’t be surprised if things change as we inch closer to kickoff later this month. Additionally, it is likely schedules could also change or tweaked, pending how things play out with the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

But if you are looking for some hope or excitement for college football, then look no further than the recently released NCAA Coaches Poll, which came out earlier today. And by no surprise, Clemson was picked first in the 2020 preseason poll followed by Ohio State second, Alabama third, Georgia fourth, and LSU fifth.

Oklahoma secured the sixth position followed by Penn State (seventh), Florida (eighth), Oregon (ninth), and Notre Dame (tenth).

No local teams – Boston College or UMass – appeared on the poll or received votes.

As of now, the 2020 season is set to begin on Saturday, August 29 – that is week zero, for those keeping track at home – and some of the matchups to watch will include Oklahoma hosting Missouri State and Southern Illinois visiting Kansas.

Clemson will play its initial game of the 2020 season on Saturday, September 12 against Wake Forest.