USFL Championship start time, how to watch and stream
Stop me if you’ve ever heard this story: A Philadelphia quarterback led his team to the brink of an unlikely football championship.
This time it’s not Nick Foles and the Eagles. Philadelphia Stars quarterback Case Cookus took over last month for injured starter Bryan Scott and led the team to the inaugural USFL playoffs, where an unlikely upset against the New Jersey Generals landed in Sunday’s USFL Championship game against the Birmingham Stallions.
“I was a guy who didn’t have a lot of opportunities because of COVID and things like that only impacted the first two years of my professional career,” said Cookus, who doesn’t. was not drafted from Northern Arizona University in 2020, to reporters. earlier this week. “So I was super excited to have this opportunity.”
The fact that there is even a USFL Championship game defies the odds. It is the first major spring football league to complete its first season since the XFL in 2001, and follows the dramatic collapse of the Alliance of American Football league in 2019, which suspended operations just before its nationally televised playoffs. A reboot of the XFL suspended operations in 2020 due to COVID-19, but plans to relaunch under new ownership (which includes Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) in 2023.
In an effort to reduce costs, the USFL hosted all of its regular season games in Birmingham at two locations – Protective Stadium (home of Birmingham Legion FC) and Legion Field (new home of the University of Alabama at Birmingham ). But the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio is hosting the league’s playoffs, including today’s championship game, with more than 10,000 fans expected in the stands – by far the most of all. matches this season.
Here’s everything you need to know to watch or stream the USFL Championship game on Sunday:
Philadelphia Stars vs Birmingham Stallions
Where: Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Canton, Ohio
TV: Fox (Curt Menefee, Joel Klatt, Brock Huard)
Diffusion: Fox Sports app (requires cable authentication), YouTube TV, Fubo TV, Hulu + Live TV, DirecTV Stream, Sling TV (all require subscription)
READ MORE: Nearly 30 years later, Philadelphia Stars get another title shot in USFL restart
For those tuning into a USFL game for the first time, the league has some notable differences from the NFL in its rulebook.
To start, teams have three extra point options after a touchdown – one point for a field goal at the 15-yard line, two points for a play at the 2-yard line and three points for a play at the 10-yard line. . line.
Another big difference is overtime, which ends in a best-of-three football-style shootout, with teams attempting to score from the 2-yard line. Each successful score is worth two points and the team with the highest score after three games wins the game. If the score remains tied, the teams each have a chance in a sudden death approach until there is a winner.
The league also set up its rules to allow more kickoff returns than the NFL, where most kicks go outside the end zone for a touchdown. All kickoffs take place from the 25 yard line and are more like a punt, with the covering team not allowed to kick off.
After a score, in addition to an onside kick, USFL teams also have the option of running a fourth-and-12 from their own 33-yard line. If the team takes the first down, they keep the ball. If unsuccessful, the defense recovers the ball.
There’s a small amount of Philadelphia flavor on the team. Two former Temple players are on the list – center CJ Perez and lineman Leon Johnson.
But above all, the Stars (like every other USFL team) are made up of players who have bounced around the NFL and other leagues, but are getting their first chance to make an impact.
Cornerback Channing Stribling, a Michigan grad who never got drafted into the NFL, led the league with seven interceptions. Running back Matthew Colburn II, who was named USFL Sportsman of the Year, had eight touchdowns and averaged 4.5 yards per carry.
The only Stars player to make the league’s All-USFL team was returner Maurice Alexander Jr., whose 87-yard punt return with less than two minutes left won the game against the Generals in last week’s playoff semifinal.
READ MORE: USFL Philadelphia Stars have local flavor — even though they’ve never played in Philadelphia
Yes, the USFL will be back next spring for a second season, and Fox Sports has publicly committed to at least three seasons.
“We have a multi-year plan to grow this football business. If anything, the success of season one makes me even more excited than we were before entering season two and beyond,” said Fox Sports CEO Eric Shanks (who is also Chairman of the USFL Board of Directors), to John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal earlier this week. .
The USFL is owned by Fox Sports (which has partnered with NBC to broadcast games), but that may soon change. According to the New York Post, Fox is seeking minority investors to help fund the league’s future growth.
The USFL will face some competition for attention due to the return of the XFL, which is set to begin its third season in February 2023 after the Super Bowl. But like this year, the USFL is expected to start its next season in mid-April to avoid competition from the NCAA tournament.
READ MORE: The USFL will be back for another season. Here’s what it will look like to improve and grow in Year 2
This is the league’s long-term plan. Daryl Johnston, executive vice president of football operations for the USFL, told The Inquirer in April that the hope is that after two years the league will be on solid enough footing for owners to buy teams and bring them back to their towns of origin.
“I know how Philadelphia fans are. They have to have that bond with the team,” Johnston said. “I want to make sure that when we leave Birmingham and the Philadelphia Stars come home, the fanbase will be excited because we hope to have some connection to the history of the Eagles franchise.”
As of now, the league plans to have between two and four host cities for games next season, although no firm plans or locations have been announced. This season all non-elimination matches have been played in Birmingham, and apart from the season opener between Generals and Stallions attendance has appeared to be virtually non-existent.
But the games were a moderate hit on television, averaging nearly 700,000 viewers per game (not including Peacock exclusives) and just over a million viewers on Fox and NBC, which according to the Fox Sports executive vice president Mike Mulvihill was better than the NHL regular. season and the Premiere League. The network has already sold more than 50% of its ad inventory for the second season, according to Executive Vice President/Sports Sales Mark Evans.
“The advertisers were able to plan for it this year, have an evaluation track that they could study and better see the long-term viability of the league,” Evans told the Sports Business Journal.
New Jersey-x Generals
New Orleans Breakers-x
Tampa Bay Bandits
North: Philadelphia Stars 19, New Jersey Generals 14
South: Birmingham Stallions 31, New Orleans Breakers 17