No. 20 Houston vs. No. 24 Penn State
Jan. 2, Noon ET, ESPNU
This prediction comes courtesy of Marc Doche (@MDoche) from the ever dependable P101 satellite office in Burbank, Calif.
What the Cougars did on the field in the Conference USA championship game against Southern Miss demonstrated that they are not BCS-worthy.
Now, they find themselves facing an opponent similar to what they would have faced in the Sugar Bowl, a team that’s likely to outclass them in what will be their first game without coach Kevin Sumlin, who was hired by Texas A&M.
With the Nittany Lions (9-3) dropping two of their last three games, dashing hopes of a berth in the Big Ten championship game, distraction and disappointment is a similar theme for both teams.
While Penn State owns a 14-0-1 mark versus C-USA opponents, Houston (12-1) has the benefit of playing down the road in Dallas. But the Cougars’ top-ranked aerial attack led by sixth-year quarterback Case Keenum faces its toughest test of the season against a Nittany Lion defense that ranks fifth in the nation, allowing just 162 yards per game through the air.
Having averaged less than 13 points per game over its final four contests, Penn State’s offense will be hard-pressed to extend the margin against what has primarily been a respectable Cougar defense. However, that doesn’t mean the Cougs can win a rugged battle to improve upon their 4-8 record against the Big Ten.
Opening point spread: Houston by 7
The pick: Penn State 27-21
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With eight quarterbacks on the roster, Kody Wilstead opted to leave the Cougars in mid-March. A little over a month later, Wilstead has found a new home, albeit a little further down on the college football ladder.
According to the Deseret News, Wilstead has signed to play at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. As Coffeyville is a junior college, the quarterback will be eligible to play immediately in 2018.
It’s expected that Wilstead will spend at least one season at the JUCO level before looking at making a move back up to the FBS.
Wilstead, a three-star 2015 signee, took a redshirt as a true freshman last season after serving an LDS mission the previous two years.
After Wilstead’s departure, the seven remaining Cougar signal-callers are, in alphabetical order, Stacy Conner, Joe Critchlow, Hayden Griffitts, Beau Hoge, Tanner Mangum, Baylor Romney and Zach Wilson. Mangum, last year’s starter, is recovering from an Achilles tendon injury he suffered in November of last year but remains on track to return for the start of summer camp in August.
This is something you don’t see all too often.
Donovan Franklin (pictured, No. 26) tweeted out late Tuesday night that, “[a]fter careful consideration I am happy to announce that I have decided to continue my academic and athletic career at the University of Kansas.” Franklin had spent the past two years at the United States Military Academy at West Point, playing his college football for the Army Black Knights.
It’s unclear what led the slotback to leave the service academy and head to the Big 12 school.
Franklin was a two-star prospect coming out of high school in Maryland in Army’s Class of 2015. After playing in two games in 2016, he carried the ball one time for seven yards this past season.
The 5-9, 185-pound Franklin was listed as a defensive back coming out of high school, and could assume such a role yet again with the Jayhawks. That likely won’t happen this season, however, as it’s expected he will have to sit out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.
That whole thing where Oklahoma landed a graduate transfer from Notre Dame? Never mind. Pretend it never happened.
April 15, a little over a week after he announced his transfer from Notre Dame, Jay Hayes took to Twitter to confirm that he had committed to continuing his collegiate playing career at Oklahoma. Ten days later, the defensive lineman has done an about-face, taking to the same social media service to announce that he is flipping from OU to Georgia.
“This is it!” the lineman wrote, presumably meaning there will be no more flipping.
As a graduate transfer, Hayes will be eligible to play immediately for the Bulldogs in 2018. This will be the lineman’s final season of eligibility.
Hayes, a four-star member of the Irish’s 2014 recruiting class, played in 26 games for the Irish over the last three seasons, including starts in all 13 games at defensive end in a 2017 season that saw him record 27 tackles and a sack.
At least in this graduate transfer battle, the SEC has gotten over on the Pac-12.
Tuesday, Jack Driscoll, who decided to transfer from UMass earlier this offseason, confirmed that he had narrowed his potential landing spots down to three — Auburn, UCLA and USC. A day later, the offensive lineman took to Twitter to announce that he will be enrolling at AU and continuing his collegiate playing career with the Tigers.
Driscoll will graduate from UMass early next month, and will be eligible to play immediately in 2018 on The Plains. The upcoming season will be the first of two years of eligibility the 6-5, 294-pound lineman has remaining.
After starting eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2016, with most of those starts coming at left guard, he started all 12 games in 2017. All of those starts this past season came at right tackle for the football-independent Minutemen. He was named to Phil Steele’s All-Independent first team while he earned second-team All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) honors for good measure.