Central Florida vs. Ball State
Fri., Dec. 21 – 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
St. Petersburg, Fla. – Tropicana Field
Nothing says pre-Christmas bowl season like Conference USA vs. the MAC in a baseball stadium. At least Tropicana Field should be full. That’s usually a struggle for the Tampa Bay Rays during the summer.
Central Florida (9-4) will be playing about 120 miles from its campus, so expect the Knights to be well-represented. Without a pair of defeats against Tulsa – 23-21 during the regular season, 33-27 in overtime during the C-USA title game – the Knights would really have something special.
Ball State (9-3) does have something special.
The Cardinals enter with a six-game winning streak. They have scored 30 or more points in 10 of 12 games. Remember this name: Pete Lembo. He’s the fast-rising BallState coach – and he might not be in Muncie many more seasons.
Ball State is ultra-sound on offense with precise quarterback Keith Wenning, powerful runner Jahwan Edwards (1,321 yards, 6.1-yard average, 14 TDs) and game-breaking receiver Willie Snead (82 catches).
It says here Ball State has never won a bowl game (0-5). That’s about to change.
Opening point spread Central Florida by 7
The pick: Ball State 34, Central Florida 30
Click HERE to get predictions for the remaining bowl games.
The more irrelevant of college football’s two exhibition polls is out following Week 4 action, and it’s not radically different from last week’s edition. Georgia and TCU were this week’s biggest movers, jumping four spots apiece for their respective wins over then-No. 17 Mississippi State and then-No. 7 Oklahoma State. Each of the losers of those games dropped seven spots, Oklahoma State to No. 14 and Mississippi State to No. 24, which is somehow two spots behind an LSU team that these Bulldogs absolutely hammered just eight days ago.
Mississippi State remains one spot ahead of Florida State, who somehow edged out Notre Dame for the final spot despite losing to unranked NC State at home. West Virginia returned to the poll at No. 23, taking the place of Oregon, who fell out after falling 37-35 at Arizona State.
The full poll:
- Alabama — 1,570 total points (59 first-place votes)
- Clemson — 1,499 (4)
- Oklahoma — 1,443
- Penn State — 1,328
- USC — 1,306
- Washington — 1,277
- Michigan — 1,152
- Georgia — 1,089
- Ohio State — 1,066
- Wisconsin — 1,029
- TCU — 985
- Virginia Tech — 877
- Miami — 727
- Oklahoma State — 687
- Auburn — 664
- Washington State — 574
- South Florida — 522
- Louisville — 505
- Utah — 437
- Florida — 345
- San Diego State — 315
- LSU — 221
- West Virginia — 184
- Mississippi State — 132
- Florida State — 104
The SEC conference office isn’t supposed to take sides, but deep down the league had to be rooting for Texas A&M to beat Arkansas yesterday.
In the second quarter, Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond took off for what should have been an 89-yard touchdown scamper to bring his Aggies to within 21-14. Except the side judge incorrectly ruled him out of bounds, mistaking his white cleat of Arkansas defensive back Josh Liddell. It was a human error mistake that no one could do anything about once it happened.
Texas A&M settled for a field goal on the drive, losing four points that should have been theirs. Sure, it wasn’t the refs’ fault that the Aggies couldn’t cash in a first-and-goal from the 10-yard line, but that isn’t A&M’s problem. Mond ran into the end zone without being brought down or stepping out of bounds.
The point, thankfully, became moot hours later when Mond and his charges completed the comeback, winning 50-43 in overtime.
Still, the SEC office on Sunday acknowledged the mistake and that there was nothing anyone could do about it.
“On the play at 10:02 in the second quarter of the Arkansas vs. Texas A&M game, the ball carrier was incorrectly ruled out of bounds and the play whistled dead by the official.
“Based on NCAA football playing rule 12-3-3-g, ‘If the ball carrier is ruled out of bounds, the play is not reviewable.”
Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if the NCAA can change the rule on plays such as this. Rules makers adapted to add a clear recovery clause in which a fumble is prematurely blown dead, and the play above shows that Liddell kept trying to tackle Mond even after Mond was incorrectly ruled out of bounds. So why not just allow the touchdown to stand?
For a half, Colorado had No. 7 Washington just where they wanted in a Pac-12 Championship Game rematch from a year ago. Just like in that matchup in Santa Clara 10 months ago, the Buffs trailed by just a score going into halftime and looked surprisingly sharp against their highly ranked opponents from Seattle.
Just like it did last December though, the third quarter rolled around and Huskies reminded everybody why they reign supreme in the Pac-12 until further notice, capping off a dominant second half to capture a key road win in Boulder 37-10 over the Buffs.
While Jake Browning still didn’t seem to figure out Mike MacIntyre‘s defense the second time around (11/21, 160 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), it’s not like the UW signal-caller needed to with the effort his run game and defense were able to provide on a rainy night under the Flatirons. Tailback Myles Gaskin had no problem shouldering more of the load with his backup out, rushing for 202 yards and two scores while breaking off big run after big run to slowly crush the home crowd’s spirits. If there was anything that did really go wrong for the offense in the second half, it was the fact that wide receiver Chico McClatcher was carted off after a gruesome ankle injury that figures to sideline him for some time to come.
Still, the impressive performance on the scoreboard was really the result of the Huskies’ stifling defense coming to play after some adjustments in the locker room. Linebacker Azeem Victor hit the double-digit mark for tackles and corner Myles Bryant pulled down a pick-six — one of three interceptions on the night. As a result, what was a close game for about two and a half quarters, ended up turning into a runaway win for the defending Pac-12 North champs.
While it was a tough night on the scoreboard with nothing going in the second half, there were some positives for the Buffs early on. Quarterback Steven Montez did look sharp working the middle of the field until the pressure was turned up and running back Phillip Lindsay managed 68 yards and a touchdown against one of the stiffer run defenses in the country. Given some of USC’s early struggles, it’s pretty clear that Colorado will remain a factor in the Pac-12 South battle if nothing else.
In the end though, it was the same ol’ same ol’ out West as Washington remained unbeaten and looking again like a College Football Playoff contender once again.
The latest controversy surrounding President Donald Trump has reached college football. And, of course, it’s Jim Harbaugh doing the reacting.
At a campaign rally in Alabama earlier this past week, the POTUS let loose on those NFL players who have decided to use the National Anthem as a vehicle for protesting social injustice. In essence, Trump called for those who participate in the demonstrations to be summarily dismissed.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired!'” Trump was quoted as saying. “You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy disrespects our flag, he’s fired.'”
Suffice to say, that hasn’t even remotely happened as condemnation of the fiery rhetoric has been far and wide from the NFL community and beyond. It was also condemned by a former member of the NFL community as Harbaugh, whose former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, played a significant role in a story that’s enveloped professional football over the past year, had some choice words on this latest kerfuffle.
“No, I don’t agree with the president,” Harbaugh said following Michigan’s win over Purdue. “Listen, that’s ridiculous. Check the Constitution.”
Harbaugh, who was already at odds with Trump over the slashing of one particular program, also stated initially that he didn’t respect Kaepernick sitting out the anthem before apologizing for misspeaking shortly thereafter. In the spring, Harbaugh referred to the still-unsigned quarterback as a hero.