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  • Playoff Takeaways: Sooners make it easy for CFP committee
    December 2, 2017

    There are plenty of reasons to leave Ohio State and Alabama out of the College Football Playoff.

    But the rules say the selection committee has to pick four teams so one of them is most certainly getting in.

    In the fourth year of the playoff, the selection committee faces its toughest choice yet. A real controversy, one with no particularly good answer. The committee will let everyone know which four teams will be playing in the New Year's Day semifinals on Sunday. Three will be easy: Defending national champion Clemson, Southeastern Conference champion Georgia and Big 12 champ Oklahoma are getting in.

    Then it's ... Alabama? Or Ohio State?

    Two of college football's blues bloods, biggest brands and historically successful teams. Also, two teams many fans love to hate. No matter the committee's decision there will be complaints of favoritism and conspiracy theories.

    Did you know Ohio State's athletic director, Gene Smith, is on the committee? He is recused when the Buckeyes are discussed, and you can bet there will be a lot of discussion about `Bama and the Buckeyes.

    The lobbying started immediately after the Buckeyes handed Wisconsin its first loss of the season, 27-21, in the Big Ten title game Saturday night.

    Alabama coach Nick Saban was on ESPN's ''SportsCenter'' making his pitch: ''I think you have to look at the whole body of work. The entire season. If you look at it like that I think our team gets strong consideration and is very deserving to be in the playoff.''

    At almost the same time, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was accepting a Big Ten championship trophy in Indianapolis, touting his team: ''We have two wins over two top-four teams (Penn State was No. 2 when the Buckeyes beat it). We're the conference champions. We deserve a shot.''

    The case for and against each:

    Alabama (11-1, CFP No. 5)


    - The Crimson Tide always win the eye test. No team has a more talented and deeper roster.

    - Alabama's only loss was by 12 at Auburn (10-3), a team that even after losing the SEC title game to Georgia will probably finish in the committee's top 10.

    - Other than the Auburn game, Alabama's only real challenge came at Mississippi State. The Tide won by eight at Texas A&M, but the Aggies' scored in the last 20 seconds to make that look closer than it was.


    - Alabama's best victories will be against LSU (9-3) and Mississippi State (8-4). They are likely the only teams Alabama beat that will be ranked Sunday. LSU was 17 last week.

    - Alabama did not win its division, let alone its conference. That was not a problem last year for Ohio State, but those 11-1 Buckeyes had victories over three top-10 teams and a three-point loss on the road to another top-10 team.

    Ohio State (11-2, CFP No. 8)


    - The Buckeyes do just fine with the eye test, too.

    - Ohio State has victories against three teams (Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan State) that are all likely to be ranked ahead of Alabama's best victory.

    - The Buckeyes are Big Ten champions and selection committee protocol directs the committee to use championships won as something of a tiebreaker if teams are similar.


    - The Buckeyes not only lost twice, but both loses were by double-digits, including a 31-point drubbing at Iowa (7-5).

    - Did we mention that the Buckeyes lost 55-24 to Iowa?

    Strength of schedule, according to Sagarin ratings.

    Alabama, 54th toughest in Division I.

    Ohio State, 42nd before playing Wisconsin.

    The System

    Last season Ohio State became the first team to make the playoff without winning its conference. This season the Buckeyes are trying to become the first team with two losses to get in. If Alabama gets in, it will be the first time two teams from the same conference get in. And while the SEC has typically been the best or close to the best conference in college football, this has not been a season in which it has stood clearly above the rest.

    Ohio State got in last year without winning the Big Ten and the league champion, Penn State, did not. What is the committee's appetite for leaving two Power Five conferences out of the playoff (sorry, Pac-12)? It should not matter. The committee is charged with picking the best four teams. But can't help but wonder if it plays into the thought process.


    All signs pointed in this direction so it was no surprise when, after Scott Frost was done leading Central Florida to the American Athletic Conference championship, he was announced as Nebraska's next coach.

    The Knights are unbeaten and likely heading to the Peach Bowl as the highest-ranked champion from outside the Power Five conferences. No doubt some fans will wonder why UCF doesn't get a chance to play in the final four, but the schedule lacks big nonconference wins. It might not be fair, but unless the playoff expands it will always be a long shot for the teams outside the Power Five.


    TCU's lose could open up a spot in the New Year's six for a team that has not been talked about much since the rankings started coming out. Washington was 13th last week, right behind Stanford and TCU, which both lost. Unless TCU (10-3) stays ahead or the committee reconsiders Notre Dame (9-3) the Huskies (10-2) could be headed to the Cotton Bowl.


    Here's how the New Year's Six could shake out.

    Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Alabama.

    Rose Bowl: No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Georgia.

    Fiesta Bowl: USC vs. Ohio State.

    Peach Bowl: UCF vs. Auburn.

    Cotton Bowl: Washington vs. Penn State

    Orange Bowl: Miami vs. Wisconsin.


    • December CFB Record Thru The Bowl Games: ( BASED ON 5 UNITS )


      12/02/2017 9-11-0 45.00% -15.50
      12/01/2017 2-0-0 100.00% +10.00

      Totals...........11 - 11...........50.00%......-5.50

      BEST BETS:.......................ATS................... ....UNITS...........................O/U.................UNITS

      12/02/2017......................5 - 7......................-13.50............................5 - 4................+3.00
      12/01/2017......................1 - 0 ......................+5.00....................... ....1 - 0................+5.00

      Totals...............................6 - 7.......................-8.50.............................6 - 4................+8.00


      • 4th Quarter Covers - Week 14
        December 3, 2017

        Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in the championship college football weekend in early December.

        Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, as well as other teams that played much better than the final score shows.

        USC (-3½) 31, Stanford 28:
        The Pac-12 championship spread bounced around from -3 to -4. The Trojans seemed to have a clear edge early with a 17-7 lead late in the second quarter and a dominant production edge but Stanford managed to complete a touchdown drive 34 seconds before halftime to trail by three. That remained the margin through three quarters with matching touchdowns before USC had the game’s only turnover. Stanford didn’t score directly after that fumble but it shifted the field position. The Cardinal eventually reached the red zone on the next possession but failed going for it on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard-line. USC seemingly put the game away going 99 yards to lead by 10 with just over four minutes remaining but Stanford connected on three deep acrobatic catches including two on 3rd-and-long plays while also managing to recover a botched snap. The Cardinal eventually hit the end zone on a great Kaden Smith catch for 28 yards with two minutes remaining. That score locked up the underdog cover in most scenarios as USC recovered the onside kick and conservatively tried to run down the clock. With 37 seconds to go USC faced 4th-and-2 from the Stanford 32-yard-line. There was certainly no need to attempt a long field goal and punting seemed to be the common choice but the Trojans ran a pass play with Josh Falo getting the first down and running for 15 yards, finishing one tackle short of breaking through to the end zone. The Cardinal again lost by just three to narrowly cover most spreads despite a 501-343 yardage edge for the Pac-12 champion Trojans.

        Troy (-1) 32, Arkansas State 25: Troy led 24-13 halfway through the fourth quarter with a kickoff return touchdown and a 100-yard interception return touchdown offsetting an eventual 293-606 yardage deficit. Arkansas State had some late fight however with the Sun Belt title on the line. The Red Wolves completed a 93-yard touchdown drive in just over three minutes, trailing by five with 2:56 remaining after missing the 2-point-conversion. Arkansas State didn’t recover the on-side kick but used its timeouts and forced a quick punt getting the ball back with still well over two minutes remaining. The Red Wolves completed a big 3rd down play near midfield and then struck for a 39-yard touchdown pass to take a one-point lead, again missing on the conversion but it was enough to put Arkansas State in position to win and cover on the late week prices. Brandon Silvers and the Troy offense completed a big 4th down play en route to scoring on a 14-yard touchdown pass with 17 seconds to go to steal the win back while claiming a share of the Sun Belt title.

        Florida Atlantic (-10½) 41, North Texas 17: The Owls dominated early and led 34-0 early in the third quarter but the Mean Green were briefly a threat to steal the cover, closing to 34-17 in the fourth quarter. Florida Atlantic converted 3rd-and-11 and 3rd-and-6 plays on the way to a late touchdown drive, aided by a face mask penalty to push the margin from 17 to 24 points to ensure the favorite cover.

        UCF (-6½) 62, Memphis 55: The spread on this game was steady at 7 the majority of the week despite closing at 6½ at many outlets. The Knights took charge early with a 24-14 edge but then had three consecutive turnovers including interceptions at the one-yard-line and in the end zone as Memphis scored 17 points to take a 31-24 halftime lead. UCF again established control with a 48-34 edge with about 10 minutes to play after settling for a short field goal to go up by 14. Memphis broke a 66 yard run a few plays later and then forced the first punt of the game from the Knights. Memphis tied the game seven plays later and had the opportunity to win in regulation but missed on a long 51-yard field goal try. Both teams scored with ease in the first overtime. Central Florida took three plays to post seven in the second overtime and the struggling defense sealed the perfect campaign with an interception two plays after Memphis had converted a huge 4th-and-7 play. Most left with a push and the ‘over’ on one of the higher totals in college football history was easily cleared.

        Toledo (-20½) 45, Akron 28:
        The Rockets claimed the MAC title with a 38-0 edge in the third quarter but the Zips clawed back for a backdoor cover. Akron scored touchdowns surrounding the shift to the fourth quarter but Toledo scored on one play to put the margin back to 31 points. Akron scored with six minutes to go and again with 20 seconds to go to lose by only 17.

        Ohio State (-3½) 27, Wisconsin 21: The Big Ten championship proved to be the most exciting of Saturday’s four power five championship games and the spread results were mixed. Ohio State led 21-10 at the half with Wisconsin’s offense completely shut down but getting a pick-6 and a field goal off a fumble to stay in the game. The Badgers played better defense in the second half and managed to climb to within three points after an early fourth quarter score and a successful two-point conversion that came after a lengthy delay to repair the field in Indianapolis. The Buckeyes reached the red zone and opted to go for it on 4th-and-1 at the 13-yard-line. J.T. Barrett was initially stuffed behind the line of scrimmage but escaped to narrowly get the needed distance. A few plays later the Buckeyes opted to go the conservative route and kicked a 20-yard field goal on 4th-and-1 at the 3-yard-line for a six-point advantage, even with a common spread on the game though lines from 6½ to 3½ proved possible. After both teams punted Wisconsin had the ball back with nearly three minutes to play but were burned by a costly holding penalty and eventually wound up intercepted on 4th-and-20 as six points remained the final margin.

        Florida State (-25½) 42, UL-Monroe 10:
        Jimbo Fisher left the Seminoles before this game but the impact on the massive spread was minimal. UL-Monroe scored 10 points in the third quarter to make it a game, trailing only 21-10. Florida State would close the game with three more touchdowns however to sneak by the heavy favorite spread while keeping the nation’s longest bowl streak alive.


        • College Playoff Primer
          December 3, 2017

          The College Football Playoff is set with the semifinals to be played on New Year’s Day. No. 1 seed Clemson will take on fourth-seeded Alabama at the Sugar Bowl in a rematch of the last two games played in the CFP finals.

          The other semifinal will feature second-seeded Oklahoma, the winner of the Big 12 Championship Game, against No. 3 Georgia, which exacted revenge on Auburn with Saturday’s 28-7 win as a two-point favorite in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.

          The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas opened Alabama as the +200 ‘chalk’ to win the CFP finals. Clemson was given +220 odds, followed by Oklahoma (+275) and Georgia (+350, risk $100 to win $350).

          The Westgate opened Oklahoma as a 2.5-point ‘chalk’ vs. UGA, and sent out Alabama as a one-point favorite over Clemson. South Point opened the Sooners at two and Alabama-Clemson at pick ‘em. I made both OU and Clemson three-point favorites.

          As of 4:00 p.m. Eastern, most Vegas shops had Lincoln Riley’s squad listed as a 1.5-point favorite, but most offshores had OU favored by one point. The Mirage and a few offshore spots had the game at pick ‘em.

          In fact, the Mirage also had Alabama-Clemson at pick ‘em, but most other books had the Crimson Tide favored by 1.5 points.

          Alabama beat Clemson by a 45-40 count in the CFP finals two seasons ago, but the Tigers garnered a backdoor cover as 6.5-point underdogs on a Deshaun Watson TD pass with 12 seconds remaining. Dabo Swinney’s team avenged that defeat with last year’s 35-31 win in the finals as (again) a 6.5-point underdog thanks to another last-second TD pass from Watson, setting up a rubber match of sorts in this year’s semifinals at the Superdome in New Orleans. This game will kick at 8:45 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.

          OU and UGA will collide at 5:00 p.m. Eastern in Pasadena. The Sooners have won eight consecutive games, going 5-1 against the spread in their last six outings. They’ve been single-digit ‘chalk’ three times, producing a 3-0 straight-up record and a 2-1 ATS mark. Meanwhile, Georgia won outright by a 20-19 count at Notre Dame in its lone games as an underdog (+5.5).

          UGA is ranked fourth in the nation in total defense, second at defending the pass, 12th in run defense and fourth in scoring ‘D,’ limiting foes to 13.2 points per game. The Bulldogs have won three in a row both SU and ATS since suffering their lone loss, a 40-17 defeat at Auburn.

          Oklahoma is No. 1 in the country in total offense, third in passing yards and fourth in scoring with a 44.9 PPG average. Baker Mayfield has completed 71.0 percent of his passes for 4,340 yards with a 41/5 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

          Although the injury report has Georgia RB Sony Michel listed as ‘questionable’ due to a knee injury sustained vs. Auburn, second-year head coach Kirby Smart told the media Sunday, “Everything looks good. A little bit of soreness. He should be good to go.” Michel has rushed for 948 yards and 13 TDs while averaging 7.2 yards per carry.

          On New Year’s Day at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Auburn will take on unbeaten UCF. Scott Frost was in Lincoln today (12/3/17) to greet his new Nebraska team, but he will stay on to coach the Knights in the postseason. As for AU’s Gus Malzahn, Arkansas was expecting an answer from him at some point today as to whether or not he would leave the Tigers to take a lucrative deal with the Razorbacks, who hired him from Springdale High School (in Arkansas) as their offensive coordinator more than a decade ago.

          One offshore released Auburn as an 8.5-point favorite.

          There are two other games on New Year’s Day: Michigan vs. South Carolina at the Outback Bowl in Tampa, in addition to LSU vs. Notre Dame at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. The Fighting Irish defeated LSU 31-28 at the 2014 Music City Bowl to avenge a blowout loss at the Sugar Bowl during Charlie Weis’s tenure when Brady Quinn and JaMarcus Russell were the starting QBs.

          On Dec. 30 at the Taxslayer Bowl in Jacksonville, Mississippi State and Louisville will collide. In what I have found to be a surprise, it appears that there hasn’t been that much interest from other schools in Bobby Petrino, so at this point it looks like he’ll be still at U of L going into 2018 (although that obviously could change). The Bulldogs won’t have star QB Nick Fitzgerald (lower-leg injury) or head coach Dan Mullen, who is busy on the recruiting trail for his new team, the Florida Gators. RBs coach and special-teams coordinator Greg Knox will serve as MSU’s interim head coach.

          Also on Dec. 30, Iowa State will play a true road game against Memphis at the Liberty Bowl. The Tigers lost an instant classic in the AAC Championship Game, coming up on the wrong end of a 62-55 double-overtime thriller at UCF. If Malzahn doesn’t go to Arkansas, most speculation points to Washington State’s Mike Leach or Memphis coach Mike Norvell being the Razorbacks’ next targets.

          In the Orange Bowl, Wisconsin will also play a true road game at Miami. The Badgers lost a 27-21 decision to Ohio St. at the Big Ten Championship Game, while Miami got smashed by Clemson in Charlotte at the ACC Championship Game.

          A few offshore books had Wisconsin installed as a six-point favorite vs. the Hurricanes.

          Washington and Penn State will square off at the Fiesta Bowl. One offshore had the Huskies listed as six-point 'chalk.'

          Ohio State will face Southern California at the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29.

          **B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

          -- Georgia LB Natrez Patrick was arrested early Sunday morning in Barrow County outside of Atlanta on a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge. Patrick, who served a four-game suspension earlier this season, has 35 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and three QB hurries in nine games this year. UGA had yet to comment on the matter when this story was filed late Sunday afternoon.

          -- In the three-year history of the CFP, underdogs have produced a 6-3 spread record with five outright victories.

          -- Clemson owns a 4-0 spread record with three outright wins in its two CFP appearances.

          -- Washington star WR and special-teams phenom Dante Pettis (leg) is 'questionable' vs. PSU.

          -- A report on Sunday indicated that Arkansas made an offer to Gus Malzahn worth about $50 million and an average of $7.1 million per year. He made a $4.75 million at Auburn this season. We’ll see if AU steps up with an extension offer.

          -- According to a Lafayette Daily Advertiser report from Tim Buckley on Sunday, Louisiana (formerly known as UL-Lafayette) has fired Mark Hudspeth after seven seasons. Hudspeth had the Ragin’ Cajuns rolling early in his tenure, guiding them to four consecutive 9-4 seasons that were capped by wins at the New Orleans Bowl. Louisiana finished 4-8 in 2015 and 6-7 in ’16 when it lost 28-21 to Southern Miss at the New Orleans Bowl. The Ragin’ Cajuns finished 5-7 this year.


          • CFB notebook: Texas A&M hires Fisher away from Florida St.
            December 4, 2017

            Texas A&M officially confirmed the hiring of Jimbo Fisher as its head football coach with a 10-year, $75-million contract on Monday morning ahead of his introductory press conference.

            Fisher, who led Florida State to a national championship in 2013, resigned on Friday from coaching the Seminoles after eight seasons to join the Aggies.

            The 52-year-old Fisher was introduced by Texas A&M athletic director Scott Woodward during a news conference in College Station.

            "I know I come in here with great expectations," Fisher said. "We're going to be driven to be the very best every day. We're going to strive for excellence every day."

            Only Alabama's Nick Saban ($8.1 million average) would be higher paid than Fisher ($7.5 million average) with Clemson's Dabo Swinney ($6.75 million) close behind.

            Fisher had an 83-23 with the Seminoles and won the 2013 BCS national championship with a 14-0 record, but he grew frustrated with Florida State officials over the failure to improve football facilities.

            --Florida State officials
            planned to meet with Oregon head coach Willie Taggart about the university's job opening, according to multiple reports.

            Taggart was recruiting in Arizona on Monday morning, including an in-home visit with four-star quarterback commit Tyler Shough. The 41-year-old Taggart, a Florida native, is the favorite to replace Fisher.

            The Seminoles have not had a face-to-face meeting with Taggart about their vacancy but have met with his agent Jimmy Sexton. Taggart reportedly was offered a four-year, $20 million extension by Oregon over a week ago but has not signed it yet. Fisher made $5.7 million this season at Florida State.

            Taggart was hired at Oregon in December 2016 and went 7-5 in his first season after the Ducks were 4-8 the year before he arrived. He replaced Mark Helfrich after spending four seasons at South Florida, where he was 24-25 record overall after going 18-7 in his final two seasons with the Bulls.

            --New Arizona State football coach Herman Edwards displayed the passion for which he is known during his introductory press conference.

            Arizona State made it official and hired Edwards as its 24th head coach on Sunday night. While Edwards hasn't coached since being fired by the Kansas City Chiefs following the 2008 season, the 63-year-old showed he had plenty of fire on Monday.

            "Football ignites my soul," Edwards said. "It's what makes me go. This is what I do. I've done this my whole life."

            Edwards has been a studio commentator for ESPN since his last coaching job with the Chiefs from 2006-08. He also was the coach of the New York Jets from 2001-05. As an NFL head coach, Edwards owns a 54-74 regular-season record. He was 39-41 with the Jets, who reached the playoffs three times in his tenure.

            --Pittsburgh junior Quadree Henderson, a speedy wide receiver and kick returner, announced he will enter the NFL Draft.

            Henderson was a consensus All-American as a return specialist in 2016, when he led the country with three kick returns for touchdowns and was third with a 15.8-yard punt return average.

            The 5-foot-8, 190-pounder had a more difficult time making an impact in 2017, slowed early in the season by injury. He rushed for 251 yards on 36 carries and caught 17 passes for 186 yards. He scored twice on punt returns.

            His seven return touchdowns -- four on kickoffs -- are a Pitt record. has listed Henderson as No. 10 among wide receivers in the 2019 class.


            • Armadillo: Wednesday's List of 13: A quick scan thru the bowl schedule…….

              13) UCF is getting ten points from Auburn in the Peach Bowl, the same stadium where Auburn just lost the SEC title game. Auburn’s coach just signed a $49M contract to stay on the Plains.

              Central Florida is 12-0; two years ago, they were 0-12. Great season, but then their coach took the Nebraska job about 45 seconds after they won the AAC title game. Scott Frost and his staff will still coach their bowl game, but only because he needs the three hours of national TV exposure to remind people he is now the highly-paid coach of Nebraska.

              12) Iowa State-Memphis is a good bowl between two upstart teams who had excellent seasons, and surprise!!!— neither coach has bolted yet.

              Matt Campbell actually re-upped with the Cyclones, though contracts don’t always mean that much in today’s world. Mike Norvell is in his second year at Memphis; he could still wind up being a candidate at Tennessee, since just about everyone else already has been, but he also signed a contract extension this week to stay at Memphis.

              11) Florida State is -15 over Southern Miss in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport; they’re hiring Willie Taggart as coach, but likely he won’t coach the bowl game. Now Derwin James, FSU’s best defensive player, has declared for the NFL Draft and is skipping the bowl game. Lay 15 points here at your own risk.

              10) Holiday Bowl has long been the bowl with a tradition of wild, high-scoring games, so fitting that Mike Leach coaches there. Washington State-Michigan State is quite a contrast as far as coaches’ personality, with the offbeat Leach and the gruff Mark D’Antonio matching wits.

              When he was at Texas Tech, Leach won ’04 Holiday Bowl 45-31 as an 11-point dog over Cal.

              9) Normally, UAB-Ohio U wouldn’t catch my attention, but what a job UAB coach Bill Clark has done. UAB dropped football- they didn’t field a team the last two years, but due to outcry from alumni, they brought the team back this year and now they’re bowling in the Bahamas.

              Meanwhile, while Nebraska fired their coach and hired Scott Frost, one of their old coaches, Frank Solich, has gone 88-67 at Ohio U— he went 58-19 as Nebraska’s coach but that wasn’t good enough. Bobcats are only 2-6 in bowls under Solich.

              8) Kansas State-UCLA could be Bill Snyder’s last game as coach at K-State. Snyder is 78 and had a cancer scare last year— the job he’s done at K-State (209-110-1) is impossible to overstate.

              Before he got to the Little Apple (K-State is in Manhattan, KS), the Wildcats were a joke, going 26-82-3 the previous 11 seasons— they were the welcome mat of college football. Snyder fixed all that, made them respectable, won a lot of games. Their stadium has been named after him for over a decade now.

              7) There is a bowl called the “Academy Sports & Outdoors Texas Bowl”; it is played in Houston. Problem is, the Sports & Outdoor Bowl is in a domed stadium, where the Texans play.

              Missouri-Texas are playing in the indoor Outdoors Bowl; Mizzou started this season 1-5 but won its last six games. Tigers fired their defensive coordinator during the 1-5 start; their OC just left for another opportunity, which could complicate their bowl preparation.

              6) Fresno State went 10-28 the last three years, so they hired former Cal coach Jeff Tedford, who was Aaron Rodgers’ college coach. Fresno is 9-4 this season; they get their second trip to Hawai’i in two months when they play Houston in the Hawai’i Bowl on Christmas Eve, after a full day of NFL games. There is no NFL game that night, so hopefully this will be a fun game.

              5) New Mexico State is in a bowl game for the first time since 1960— good for them!!! Aggies are playing Utah State (also the Aggies) in the Arizona Bowl in Tucson.

              New Mexico State was 11-49 the last five years; great year for coach Doug Martin.

              4) SMU won’t have to go too far for their bowl game; Mustangs are playing Louisiana Tech in the Frisco Bowl, being played in the Dallas Cowboys’ practice facility, which is roughly 25 miles from the SMU campus.

              Louisiana Tech won its last three bowls, scoring 35-47-48 points. SMU is in its first bowl in five years.

              3) Since 1999, Utah is 13-1 in bowl games, 9-1 under Kyle Whittingham. Utes lost six of their last eight games this year after a 4-0 start- they head to Dallas to play West Virginia in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, played in the old Cotton Bowl stadium.

              2) Boise State won six of its last eight bowl games, winning the Las Vegas Bowl three years in a row, from 2010-12; Broncos are back in Vegas this year, playing an Oregon team whose coach just jumped ship after one year, for the greener pa$ture$ of Florida $tate. Ducks lost the 2006 Las Vegas Bowl, 38-8 to BYU.

              1) Marshall vs Colorado State in a bowl game in Albuquerque is a little weird; Thundering Herd won its last five bowl games- their last bowl loss was in 2004. Colorado State won 27-24 on this field October 20. Do kids get excited about going to a bowl in Albuquerque?

              1a) Which raises the question I raise every year; what is the worst bowl game to go to?
              — Pinstripe Bowl, played in the Bronx, where it is almost always damned cold.
              — Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, where it often snows.
              — Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit can’t be that much fun, but at least the game is indoors.
              — Playing Navy in Annapolis probably isn’t that great a trip.


              • CFB notebook: Florida State hires Oregon's Taggart
                December 5, 2017

                Less than a week after Jimbo Fisher resigned from Florida State to take the head coaching position at Texas A&M, the Seminoles hired former Oregon coach Willie Taggart as their new coach, the school announced on its website Tuesday.

                Taggart, 41, replaced Mark Helfrich at Oregon last season and guided the Ducks to a 7-5 record and an upcoming trip to the Las Vegas Bowl to face 25th-ranked Boise State.

                A Florida native, Taggart spent four seasons as the coach at South Florida from 2013-16, going 24-25, and was the coach at Western Kentucky (16-20) for three seasons prior to that.

                Oregon made an attempt to retain Taggart even before the Florida State job opened up, offering a one-year extension on his contract that runs through the 2020 season to boost the value of his five-year deal to $18 million, former ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy reports.

                McMurphy also cited sources saying returning to his home state of Florida was a factor in Taggart's decision.

                --Florida State safety Derwin James has declared for the NFL draft and will not play in the Seminoles' upcoming Independence Bowl matchup against Southern Mississippi, the redshirt sophomore announced.

                James is projected as a first-round pick by

                --Central Florida hired Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Heupel as its head coach.

                The 39-year-old Heupel, who is finishing his second season at Missouri, replaces Scott Frost at the position. Frost, a former Nebraska quarterback who coached UCF to a 12-0 record and an American Athletic Conference championship, was named the Cornhuskers' coach last weekend.

                The Knights are expected to have Frost and his staff on the sideline for the team's game in the Peach Bowl against Auburn on Jan. 1.

                --Rice is finalizing a deal to hire Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren as its next head coach, multiple outlets reported.

                Bloomgren has coached the offensive line for the Cardinal since 2011 and been the team's offensive coordinator since 2013. Before coming to Stanford, Bloomgren, 40, spent four seasons coaching with the New York Jets.

                Rice finished 1-11 overall and 1-7 in Conference USA this season.

                --Memphis coach Mike Norvell agreed to a five-year, $13 million extension, the university announced.

                The new deal runs through the 2022 campaign. According to USA Today, the $2.6 million average salary will make Norvell the highest-paid coach of the non-power conference programs.

                Norvell, 36, is 18-7 in two seasons with the Tigers, including 10-2 this year.

                --An emergency protective order was issued against Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson on Monday in Cleveland County (Okla.) District Court, accusing him of rape.

                No charges had been filed as of Tuesday morning, but a hearing was scheduled for Dec. 18.

                Anderson, through a statement issued by his attorney, said the allegation is "patently false."

                According to The Oklahoman, the accuser, who wrote in her statement that she is "scared" for her safety because Anderson knows where she lives, is a University of Oklahoma employee.

                Anderson, a redshirt sophomore, has a team-leading 960 yards and 11 touchdowns.


                • NCAAF

                  Week 15

                  Saturday, December 9

                  Army @ Navy

                  Game 103-104
                  December 9, 2017 @ 3:00 pm

                  Dunkel Rating:
                  Dunkel Team:
                  Dunkel Line:
                  Dunkel Total:
                  by 1 1/2
                  Vegas Team:
                  Vegas Line:
                  Vegas Total:
                  by 3 1/2
                  Dunkel Pick:
                  (+3 1/2); Under

                  Long Sheet

                  Saturday, December 9


                  ARMY (8 - 3) vs. NAVY (6 - 5) - 12/9/2017, 3:00 PM
                  Top Trends for this game.
                  ARMY is 16-36 ATS (-23.6 Units) when playing with 2 weeks or more of rest since 1992.
                  ARMY is 14-35 ATS (-24.5 Units) after a bye week since 1992.
                  ARMY is 83-111 ATS (-39.1 Units) in non-conference games since 1992.
                  NAVY is 166-123 ATS (+30.7 Units) in all games since 1992.
                  NAVY is 166-123 ATS (+30.7 Units) in all lined games since 1992.
                  NAVY is 20-9 ATS (+10.1 Units) when playing on a Saturday over the last 3 seasons.
                  NAVY is 57-34 ATS (+19.6 Units) in games played on turf since 1992.
                  NAVY is 79-42 ATS (+32.8 Units) in road games in non-conference games since 1992.

                  Head-to-Head Series History
                  ARMY is 2-0 against the spread versus NAVY over the last 3 seasons
                  NAVY is 1-1 straight up against ARMY over the last 3 seasons
                  2 of 2 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


                  Armadillo's Write-Up

                  Week 15

                  Army is 8-3 this season, winning six of last seven games; they ended a 14-game losing streak to Navy LY, beating Middies 21-17. Underdogs covered six of last eight meetings in this great rivalry. Cadets can win the Commander-in-Chief trophy for first time in 21 years with a win here; they lost last game 52-49 to North Texas, three weeks ago. Navy lost five of its last six games after a 5-0 start; Middies are 2-3-2 vs spread as a favorite this year. Army is 3-2 as an underdog. Five of last seven Army games went over total; four of last six Navy games stayed under.


                  Week 15

                  Trend Report

                  Saturday, December 9

                  ARMY @ NAVY
                  The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Army's last 5 games when playing Navy
                  Army is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games
                  The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Navy's last 5 games when playing Army
                  Navy is 14-1 SU in its last 15 games when playing Army


                  • Under on incredible historical hot streak in Army-Navy game

                    There’s only one game on the college football schedule this weekend, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an opportunity to make some cash for bettors before the start of the bowl season.

                    The Under is a perfect 11-0 in the last 11 matchups between Army Black Knights and the Navy Midshipmen. The Over/Under line for this weekend’s game between the two teams opened as high as 50 offshore but has been bet down to 46 as of Tuesday.

                    The movement shouldn’t scare off bettors too much. The total for the annual final match of the Commander-in-Chief Trophy series has closed at a smaller number in each of the last seven years and the Under is still filling up the win column.

                    One explanation for the Under streak could be the play caller for the Cadets and Midshipmen in recent years. Army and Navy routinely finish near the bottom in passing attempts per game, but the two teams start treating their matchups like a forward pass is still illegal.

                    Army attempted an average of 9.3 passes per game in 2016 and threw just four passes against Navy. There were 14 pass attempts in last year’s game with eight of them leading to completions and three resulting in interceptions.

                    The game kicks off 3:00 p.m. ET on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. More than 55 percent of contest players are picking the game to go Over the 46-point total.


                    • CFB notebook: Oklahoma's Mayfield wins Walter Camp award
                      December 7, 2017

                      Oklahoma senior quarterback Baker Mayfield was selected as the Walter Camp Player of the Year, the Walter Camp Football Foundation announced Thursday.

                      Mayfield, the Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year, is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday.

                      The other finalists were Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson and three running backs -- Penn State's Saquon Barkley, Stanford's Bryce Love and San Diego State's Rashaad Penny. Jackson was the 2016 winner.

                      Mayfield has passed for 4,340 yards and 41 touchdowns while leading the Sooners (12-1) into the College Football Playoff. Oklahoma will face Georgia in a semifinal matchup.

                      --Tennessee hired Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as its new head coach, the school confirmed.

                      Pruitt, 43, officially will be introduced as the Volunteers' 26th head coach on Thursday night.

                      "Six days ago, I mentioned several attributes that I sought to find in the next leader of our football program, and Coach Pruitt meets all criteria," new Tennessee athletic director and former coach Phillip Fulmer said in a statement. "I'm certain he appreciates the unique opportunity to lead a program of Tennessee's caliber. He's driven to win at the highest level. He will honor our university's values, operate with integrity and be a role model for our student-athletes."

                      Pruitt has been the defensive coordinator with the Crimson Tide for the past two seasons. Alabama is ranked first nationally in scoring defense this season and second in total defense.

                      --Mike Riley is back at Oregon State -- this time as an assistant head coach.

                      Riley's appointment was announced by new coach Jonathan Smith, who played one season (1998) under Riley and later was a graduate assistant (2003) on Riley's staff.

                      Riley served two stints as Oregon State's coach -- from 1997-98 and 2003-14 -- and is the school's all-time winningest coach. Riley had a 93-80 record with the Beavers before spending the past three seasons at Nebraska, where he was fired with a 19-19 record.

                      Smith also announced the additions of Brian Lindgren (offensive coordinator), Jim Michakczik (run game coordinator/offensive line coach) and Jake Cookus (special teams coordinator).


                      • Harbaugh in favor of 16-team playoffs
                        December 7, 2017

                        TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh would like to see the College Football Playoff expanded to 16 teams.

                        ''I would just analyze it in terms of every other sport whether its gymnastics, basketball, pro football, FCS football ... pick a sport and they have a playoff to get to a champion,'' Harbaugh said. ''None of them start with the last four. You have a great model with the NFL with their 12 teams and a great model in the FCS with their 16 teams and they just (increased) it to 24.''

                        Harbaugh was in Florida on Thursday for the Outback Bowl contract signing. Michigan will play South Carolina in the game on New Year's Day.

                        The current playoff format has four teams, with Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma and Alabama making up the field this year. While the Southeastern Conference has two teams in the playoff for the first time, the Big Ten and Pac-12 were shut out.

                        It was the second consecutive year the Big Ten champion was shut out of the playoffs. Last year, Ohio State was chosen over Penn State despite losing to the Nittany Lions during the regular season.

                        This year, Ohio State finished 11-2 and won the conference, but was edged out by Alabama. The Crimson Tide finished 11-1 and did not play in the SEC championship game.

                        Harbaugh said a 16-team playoff would make the most sense.

                        ''Eight teams would be better than four and 12 would be better than eight,'' Harbaugh said. ''I think 16 is kind of the sweet spot.''

                        A 16-team playoff would force the eventual champion to play four postseason games which could add extra weeks to the season but Harbaugh said the season is already long as it is.

                        ''The national champion now is playing 15 games, 14 games for the teams in the playoffs,'' Harbaugh said. ''They are already playing a lot of games.''

                        Harbaugh refused to discuss any potential interest in returning to the NFL.

                        ''I don't get into it,'' Harbaugh said. ''I'm not talking to you about it. I'm not answering your questions about it. I'm not going to play the game.''

                        SAYING NO TO SOCIAL MEDIA

                        Outside of the occasional tweet South Carolina coach Will Muschamp has little use for social media.

                        When asked what good he thinks comes from social media the Gamecocks coach emphatically answered, ''nothing.''

                        ''Unfortunately right now in our world because of social media everybody has a platform and 99 percent of the platforms aren't worth a damn,'' Muschamp added.

                        Muschamp said he was upset by the treatment of Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano after it was announced that he was going to become the head coach at Tennessee.

                        Backlash from fans on social media and campus forced Tennessee athletic director John Currie to rescind the offer to Schiano.

                        ''It was sad and ridiculous,'' Muschamp said. ''Because (Schiano) is a heck of a football coach and by all accounts, and I don't know Greg personally, he's an outstanding person.''


                        • SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9
                          GAME TIME(ET) PICK UNITS

                          ARMY at NAVY 03:00 PM

                          ARMY +3.5

                          O 45.0


                          • Army holds off Navy in the snow, 14-13
                            December 9, 2017

                            PHILADELPHIA (AP) Just when you thought Army-Navy couldn't get any more intense, it snowed.

                            Then 60 minutes of bruising football came down to squinting through that snow to see where a long field goal attempt would land.

                            Wide left. Cue the celebration for Army. The Black Knights are back.

                            Bennett Moehring narrowly missed a 48-yard field goal on the final play and Army held off Navy 14-13 on Saturday to win the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy for the first time since 1996.

                            Army (9-3) earned its second straight win over Navy (6-6) following 14 straight losses in the series.

                            ''We've got seniors in there that went 4-8 as freshmen and 2-10 as sophomores,'' Army coach Jeff Monken said. ''Now they've won 17 games in the last two years. Really an incredible change.''

                            After trailing most of the game, Ahmad Bradshaw pushed over the goal line on a quarterback sneak with 5:10 remaining and Blake Wilson kicked the extra point to put Army ahead.

                            But Navy's spectacular Malcolm Perry wasn't finished.

                            The quarterback, who ran for 250 yards on 30 carries and a 68-yard score in the second quarter, led Navy to the Army 31 with 3 seconds left.

                            Navy elected to try a field goal, and after about 10 players used their feet to clear the steady snow during a timeout, Moehring's kick was long enough but drifted barely left.

                            ''Came up a couple of feet short,'' Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. ''This is a great rivalry. It was another classic game.''

                            Army cut its deficit in the series to 60-51-7 in a matchup of bowl-bound teams. The Black Knights claimed the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy thanks to an earlier victory over Air Force.

                            ''That trophy hadn't been in our possession for 21 years,'' said Monken, in his fourth season. ''To be able to accomplish that with this team is a great source of pride.''

                            In a game that included only three passes - Army completed its lone toss - the Black Knights produced a 13-play, 65-yard drive to take a late lead. John Trainor tiptoed the sideline for 8 yards one play before Bradshaw's 12th touchdown of the season.

                            Bradshaw also scored the go-ahead touchdown in last year's victory over Navy.

                            ''I actually don't think I would've gotten in if not for my fullback and my offensive line,'' said Bradshaw, who rushed for 94 yards on 21 carries. ''I kind of stopped, but I felt like (fullback) Andy (Davidson) picked me up and kind of walked me into the end zone.''

                            Navy took advantage of the ensuing kickoff going out of bounds and moved down the field. Perry dropped a shotgun snap on fourth down at the Army 37, but picked up the ball and ran for a first down. But Navy committed two false start penalties, making the final field goal attempt more difficult.

                            Snow started falling in the late morning on the 29-degree day. Workers used blowers to uncover the lines and hashmarks during timeouts as a light snow fell throughout.

                            The teams, both of whom run the triple-option, combined to complete only 59 passes all season. The snow made both coaches want to throw it even less as Navy went ahead 7-0 on Darnell Woolfolk's 3-yard run on the opening possession.

                            The first pass came with under 9 minutes left in the second quarter. Army completed its only pass, a 20-yard wobbler from Bradshaw to Calen Holt, midway through the third quarter.

                            The weather made one of sports' biggest rivalries an even more physical contest. Army's all-white uniforms - a nod to the 10th Mountain Division of World War II - served as almost camouflage in the snow.

                            Perry was the star through three quarters. Getting the start at quarterback ahead of Zach Abey, his long touchdown run in the second quarter was his third rushing TD of more than 65 yards this season.

                            Perry looked like he might have another long touchdown run, but he stumbled and fell at the Navy 11 early in the third quarter. Army senior John Voit chased him down.

                            ''I'm not sure if I hit his foot or not,'' Voit said. ''But I think I got enough where he slipped slipped in the snow and thank God he went down down.''

                            Army then held Navy to a Moehring's second field goal, from 24 yards, to make it 13-7 and allow for their fourth quarter comeback.

                            ''There was never a moment our guys doubted we were going to win the game,'' Monken said. ''When you love a group of people like I love them, I can tell when their emotions change. We never lost momentum.''

                            THE TAKEAWAY

                            Army: Monken has Army on a major upswing. This victory will do wonders for a program that had suffered through the longest losing streak by either team in this rivalry.

                            Navy: Perry was the fastest and most dangerous player on the field, and Niumatalolo indicated the quarterback job will be his next season. Navy outgunned Army 296-241, but were again hurt by costly penalties.

                            JASPER COACHES

                            Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper coached after missing Wednesday's practice to be with his 14-year-old son. Jarren Jasper has had medical issues as he awaits a heart transplant.


                            Simone Askew made history when she led the Corps of Cadets in the pregame march-on. Askew is the first black woman to be first captain, the highest student position at West Point.

                            TRUMP & TILLERSON: A year after attending the game as president-elect, Donald Trump tweeted that he would be watching on TV. ''On behalf of an entire Nation, THANK YOU for your sacrifice and service!'' the president wrote.

                            After the game, Trump tweeted: ''Great Army - Navy Game. Army wins 14 to 13 and brings home the COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF'S TROPHY! Congratulations!''

                            Secretary of State Rex Tillerson handled the opening coin toss.

                            UP NEXT

                            Army: Armed Forces Bowl vs. San Diego State on Dec. 23 in Fort Worth, Texas.

                            Navy: Military Bowl vs. Virginia on Dec. 28 in Annapolis, Maryland.


                            • CFB notebook: New SMU coach Dykes will coach bowl game
                              December 12, 2017

                              Sonny Dykes was introduced as SMU's new football head coach Tuesday, and he soon will be on the sideline.

                              Dykes, who replaces Chad Morris, who left after three seasons to become the head coach at Arkansas, will coach the Mustangs (7-5) when they play in the Frisco Bowl on Dec. 20 in Frisco, Texas.

                              "I have to hire a football staff. Try to get three or four coaches in here with some current staff members and go win a football game," Dykes said.

                              Dykes will be coaching against the school that that gave him his first college head coaching job -- Louisiana Tech. Dykes went 22-15 with the Bulldogs from 2010-12 before going 19-30 in four seasons at Cal, which fired him in January.

                              Dykes was an offensive analyst at TCU this season.

                              --Fear of losing its coach to a major school helped James Madison University decide to reward coach Mike Houston with a 10-year contract extension.

                              School officials announced the deal through 2027 four days before the undefeated Dukes host South Dakota State in the FCS semifinals.

                              Houston is 27-1 in two seasons at the school and guided James Madison to the 2016 FCS national championship.

                              --Josh Allen doesn't want to let a lingering shoulder injury dictate his chance to play one more game with Wyoming.

                              The Cowboys junior quarterback would like to play in Wyoming's upcoming bowl game, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise against Central Michigan, provided his sprained right shoulder is in good enough shape.

                              Allen sustained the injury in Wyoming's Nov. 11 game against Air Force and missed the final two games of the regular season.

                              One of the top-rated quarterbacks in the upcoming NFL Draft class, Allen could simply skip the bowl game to protect his professional stock -- but he said he doesn't want to do that if he's healthy enough to play.

                              --Former Iowa State starting quarterback Jacob Park requested his release from the school and intends to transfer.

                              Cyclones coach Matt Campbell indicated the request would be honored.

                              Park told the Des Moines Register on Monday that his suspension for the Oklahoma game in early October was due to a failed drug test for marijuana usage. The school announced at the time that Park took an indefinite leave to "work through some personal health issues."


                              • Saturday's Bowl Outlook
                                December 12, 2017

                                The college bowl betting season kicks off on Saturday, Dec. 16with a five course meal of lesser known teams that you probably need help navigating. I don’t blame you – there’s a lot to track out there. Here are your quick and easy betting picks for what’s always a fun day of football.

                                Let’s get you off on the right foot.

                                R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (1:00 p.m. ET)
                                Troy Trojans -7 over North Texas Mean Green

                                Former conference rivals clash in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl to kick off an always exciting college bowl season. A good two-thirds of the action is leaning towards Troy simply because they’re a better football team, but this line has wobbled by a half-point since opening, and it’s been leaning in the direction of North Texas.

                                That’s largely due to the fact that the Mean Green have an 8-5 against the spread (ATS) record, but any predictions on this game are based on the health of Jeffery Wilson. The explosive running-back for North Texas was injured and is unlikely to play. If he does, there’s a chance that North Texas covers but Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers will play in his final game after four years as a starter so emotions will be high. By the way, Troy has one of the best defensive units at this level. They’re worth the gamble to open up your post season college football betting.

                                American Cure Bowl (2:30 p.m. ET)
                                Georgia State Panthers +6.5 over Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

                                You probably steered clear of these two teams all season because they’re not noteworthy and they were both obnoxiously terrible against the spread, combining for a record of 7-16 ATS. The difference is that the mojo in Georgia State is a little stronger after they put a 6-5 SU season on the board after being a veritable punching bag for much of their existence. Western Kentucky has fallen off the wagon since losing head coach Jeff Brohm to Purdue. They went 11-3 SU last season and have gone just 6-6 SU this year, with a 3-9 ATS record to boot. In short, the Hilltoppers haven’t met expectation by any stretch. It would be a miracle if they started in the American Cure Bowl.

                                Las Vegas Bowl (3:30 p.m. ET)
                                Boise State Broncos +7.5 over Oregon Ducks

                                People who bet on the college football post season often know that Boise State is a bit of a bowl betting darling. They’re 7-3 SU when playing in a bowl game and are coming off a brilliant MWC Championship win over Fresno State. The problem with Oregon here is that people have the misconception that they’re still “Oregon”. There is also the worry that Willie Taggart’s sudden departure to coach FSU is going to kill any momentum that the Ducks limped in to this game with. With a strong line, and Boise State boasting a lethal defensive front, it’s not illogical to think that the Ducks will get shot out of the skies in this one.

                                GILDAN New Mexico Bowl (4:30 p.m. ET)
                                Marshall Thundering Herd +6.5 over Colorado State Rams

                                Marshall is a program on the way back after posting a 7-5 SU regular season that included an 8-4 ATS record. A lot of that was because the defence allowed just 19.2 points all season long. Colorado State has a definitive weapon in receiver Michael Gallup, but the Rams are a perennial underachiever that never seem to get better or worse. They’re an overrated program in my opinion and have also lost three straight bowl games, two of which have come under coach Mike Bobo.

                                Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (8:00 p.m. ET)
                                Arkansas State Red Wolves -3.5 over Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

                                There’s a lot of problems with betting on Middle Tennessee in the post season. For one, they haven’t won a bowl game in their last four tries, and have been blown out by an average of +15.8 points per game. The Red Wolves tout a ferocious front seven that is sack hungry, and their passing game ranked 6th in the nation with 341.2 yards per game. They also put up a Sun Belt leading 7-4 ATS record which is worth backing. Middle Tennessee always loves being average in these games, and that won’t get it done against a strong tier two program that is simply better on the field than their opponents.