Kassan Messiah, Darren Thellen, Zurlon Tipton

Predictions 101 — Little Caesars Pizza Bowl

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Western Kentucky vs. Central Michigan
Wed., Dec. 26 – 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Detroit – Ford Field

A game in Detroit, one day after Christmas? It’s no problem for Western Kentucky, which is making its first bowl-game appearance.

The Hilltoppers, who won a FCS national championship in 2002, have been methodically climbing the mountain a few seasons now after making their jump to the higher level. Coach Willie Taggart, a former WKU quarterback, inherited an 0-12 team when he took over in 2010. Unfortunately for the Hilltoppers, Taggart is off to USF. Defensive coordinator Lance Guidry will serve as interim coach.

Now things are on solid ground. The Hilltoppers (7-5) like to pound it with junior running back Antonio Andrews (1,609 yards, 11 TDs), who is coming off rushing games of 238 and 230 yards.

Even though the Chippewas (6-6) won their final three games to reach the postseason, their defense wasn’t a pretty sight. Central Michigan allowed an average of 43.3 points in its six defeats.

Opening point spread: Western Kentucky by 6

The pick: Western Kentucky 29, Central Michigan 24

Click HERE to get predictions for the remaining bowl games.

Rutgers reinstates WR Leonte Carroo to football team

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 28:  Wide receiver Leonte Carroo #4 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights makes a touchdown catch on the first play of the game against the Washington State Cougars at CenturyLink Field on August 28, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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While the news of late has been littered with the exits of two SEC wide receivers, one team from the Big Ten is welcoming back a player who plays the same position.

In a press release, Rutgers confirmed that Leonte Carroo has been reinstated to the Scarlet Knights football program.  The release stated that head coach Kyle Flood, who is suspended himself, “reinstated Carroo after the student-athlete agreed to the conditions of his reinstatement and after he accepted the responsibility that comes with his return to the team.”

The reinstatement comes one day after a domestic violence charge against him was dropped after the alleged victim decided not to testify against he former boyfriend.  Carroo had been accused of slamming a woman with whom he had a previous relationship into the concrete outside of the RU football facility last month.

Carroo has missed the last two games (Penn State, Kansas) because of the suspension.  He will be eligible to return to practice today and play in Saturday’s game against 10th-ranked Michigan State.

Despite missing those two contests, Carroo is still tops on the team in receiving yards with 181 and tied for the team lead with three receiving touchdowns.  He’s also averaging nearly 26 yards per reception.

Carroo led the Scarlet Knights last season in receptions (55), receiving yards (1,086) and receiving touchdowns (10).

Pig Howard dismissed by Vols

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 5: Pig Howard #2 of the Tennessee Volunteers fumbles the ball through the end zone during overtime of the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Neyland Stadium on October 5, 2013 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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It’s been a bad week for talented SEC wide receivers.

On the heels of Auburn giving the boot to D’haquille Williams following an alleged bar rampage, Tennessee announced Wednesday that Pig Howard has been dismissed from Butch Jones‘ football program.  Violations of unspecified team rules was the only explanation offered.

Howard had been suspended for the season opener for the same reason due to an unspecified incident several months before.  It’s unknown if the dismissal is related in any way to that suspension.

Injuries had allowed the senior to play in just two games this season, against Oklahoma and Western Carolina.  He had one reception for eight yards, with that coming in the overtime loss to the Sooners.

The past two seasons, Howard led the Vols in receiving with 54 and 44 receptions in 2014 and 2013, respectively.  He accounted for 1,006 receiving yards in that span, and has also scored a pair of rushing touchdowns.