Florida International vs. Marshall
Dec. 20, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
At St. Petersburg, Fla.
The Golden Panthers, who started playing at the FBS level in 2004, are trying to win their second postseason game in a row after beating Toledo, 34-32, in last season’s Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
The Thundering Herd won that same pizza party the year before, edging Ohio, 21-17.
This time around they’re both battling for beef.
Ultra-experienced FIU quarterback Wes Carroll would be wise to be constantly aware of Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry, who has 21.5 tackles for losses, 11 sacks and six forced fumbles to his name.
Carroll’s counterpart is true freshman Rakeem Cato, who was 23-of-29 for 341 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-27 overtime victory over East Carolina in the regular-season finale that made Marshall bowl eligible.
The Thundering Herd’s pass defense makes us nervous, but their recent experience in must-win nailbiters earned them the nod.
Opening point spread: Florida International by 4 1/2
The pick: Marshall 24-23
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Four months ago, Kurt Benkert was one the losing end of a quarterback competition at East Carolina. Fastforward to today, and he’s now the trigger man in a Power Five offense.
First-year Hoos head coach Bronco Mendenhall announced Wednesday that Benkert will start the season opener against Richmond. Benkert had been involved in a competition that included returning starter Matt Johns and Texas/Arizona transfer Connor Brewer.
Benkert came to the Cavaliers as a graduate transfer, but is not a one-year stop-gap as he has two years of eligibility remaining.
Named the Pirates’ starter in early August of 2015, Benkert sustained a right knee injury a couple of weeks later that knocked him out for the entire season. Blake Kemp took over and kept a stranglehold on the starting job through spring practice this year, triggering Benkert’s decision to move on.
Benkert has attempted 10 passes in his collegiate career, all in 2014.
In starting all 12 games for the Cavaliers last season, Johns’ 2,810 passing yards were third in school history while his 20 touchdowns were tied for fourth. His 17 interceptions, though, were the most of any FBS quarterback in 2015.
Earlier this month, Mark Dantonio stated that Michigan State was giving Cassius Peat “an opportunity to work on his academics and get himself in order” as his status with the program was “in flux.”
A week or so later? He gone.
MSU confirmed Wednesday that Peat has been granted a release from his scholarship and will transfer from the Spartans. And, in fact, the defensive lineman may have already found a new home, one at the junior college level.
Peat, initially a UCLA commit, was a three-star 2015 recruit who was rated as the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Arizona. He took a redshirt as a true freshman, and had been listed as the No. tackle heading into summer camp.
However, according to mlive.com, Peat did not report for camp amidst his academic issues.
A week after transferring from Oregon State, Cyril Noland-Lewis has found a new home that happens to also double as his hometown.
The Ruston News Star, among others, has reported that Noland-Lewis is transferring into the Louisiana Tech football program. As he is coming to Tech as a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play for the Bulldogs in 2016, his final season of eligibility.
The defensive back, who went to high school in Ruston, was at the Bulldogs’ practice Tuesday as Tech continues preparations for the season opener Sept. 3 against Arkansas.
Noland-Lewis started 10 games for the Beavers last season. Six of those starts came as a safety, the others as the nickel corner. OSU moved Noland-Lewis to cornerback this offseason, where he ultimately found himself buried on the depth chart in summer camp.
The 6-0, 198-pound fifth-year senior, who began his OSU career as a linebacker, played in a total of 37 games during his time in Corvallis.
It’s not been a good day for a couple of starting quarterbacks at Group of Five programs.
The Las Cruces Sun-News has reported that New Mexico State’s Tyler Rogers turned himself in last Friday on a warrant that had been issued for him Aug. 14. The junior was booked on one count of misdemeanor charge of battery against a household member.
The alleged victim is Rogers’ girlfriend. A verbal altercation at a party allegedly turned physical in a vehicle later on. When police arrived, the woman, who was initially crying, “downplayed the incident and said that it wasn’t really anything and that the altercation did not get physical and didn’t consider Mr. Rogers grabbing her arm as being a physical altercation.”
The woman decided against completing a domestic violence supplement report, and, according to the Sun-News, it’s unclear if the woman is cooperating with police.
“I was very disappointed in hearing the news but we are in the information gathering stage,” NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia said in a statement. “These are allegations that we take very seriously and we look forward to getting as much detail as possible so the university can be informed and the athletic department can make an informed decision moving forward.”
Because “it is a misdemeanor, there isn’t a suspension coming forth right now,” head coach Doug Martin said.
Rogers has started 15 games the past two seasons for the Aggies.