Minnesota vs. Texas Tech
Fri., Dec. 28 – 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Houston – Reliant Stadium
There ain’t much momentum headed to Houston.
After a fortuitous start, Minnesota (6-6) has won only two games since Sept. 22. (If you correctly guessed that those victories came at the expense of Purdue and Illinois, you do not deserve a prize.)
Similarly, Texas Tech (7-5) opened 4-0 before starting to slide. The Red Raiders wrapped up the regular season by losing four of the their final five, which is actually worse than it sounds since that lone victory down the stretch was a 41-34 overtime affair at home against Kansas (1-11).
Just about the only thing that would make this matchup watchable is if history were guaranteed to repeat itself.
At the 2006 Insight Bowl, the Golden Gophers spectacularly squandered a 38-7 lead in a 44-41 overtime loss to the Red Raiders.
The prospect of the current Minnesota squad putting 38 points on the board is extremely remote. The punchless Gophers have scored more than 17 points only four times this season (against UNLV, New Hampshire, Western Michigan and Purdue).
Texas Tech, which will be led by interim coach/offensive line coach Chris Thomsen, has its own set of issues, but scoring isn’t one of them. The Red Raiders average 37.8 points per game, powered by the precise passing of Seth Doege.
Opening point spread: Texas Tech by 13
The pick: Texas Tech 37-19
Click HERE to get predictions for the remaining bowl games.
Brandon Jones‘ coaching career began in Lubbock after his playing days at Texas Tech came to an end, and now that career will continue on at his alma mater.
Jones, Tech announce via a press release, has been hired as the Red Raiders new offensive line coach. The hiring of Jones comes a couple of days after Tech announced that Lee Hays would not be returning to Kliff Kingsbury‘s coaching staff in 2017.
“We’re excited to welcome Coach Jones to our staff,” the head coach said in a statement. “He’s regarded as one of the top offensive line coaches in the country, and our program will benefit from his leadership. We’re looking forward to our offensive line continuing to develop under him.”
The past two seasons, Jones served as the line coach and running-game coordinator at Cal.
Prior to that, he was the line coach at East Carolina from 2010-14. Jones started 22 games along the line for the Red Raiders before becoming a grad assistant with the football program in 2007.
The ACC ended this past football season as the home of the 2016 national champion as well as the best bowl record of any FBS conference as well. Tuesday, the league turned its attention to next season as the conference released its schedule for 2017.
Wake Forest will kick off the ACC’s 2017 season with a home date against FCS Presbyterian on Thursday, Aug. 31. The first game against an FBS program comes one day later as Boston College travels to Northern Illinois. The first conference games will be played in Week 2, and includes Boston College-Wake Forest and North Carolina-Louisville. Both of those games will be played Sept. 9.
ACC teams will play five neutral site games on the opening weekend of the season: Florida State-Alabama (Sept. 2) and Georgia Tech-Tennessee (Sept. 4) at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta as part of the annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games; Virginia Tech-West Virginia at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland; Louisville-Purdue at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis; and North Carolina State-South Carolina at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte in the Belk College Kickoff Game.
As has been the case the past couple of seasons, there will be five games against Notre Dame: Boston College (Sept. 16), North Carolina (Oct. 7) and Miami (Nov. 11) all will play host to the football independent. NC State (Oct. 28) and Wake Forest (Nov. 4) will both travel to South Bend.
College Football Playoff champions Clemson will open defense of its title with a home date against Kent State.
“Our ACC football programs are coming off a record-setting season that was capped off with nine postseason wins, including Clemson’s National Championship and Florida State’s Orange Bowl Title,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford in a statement. “Our football success over the last few years has helped put the ACC in one of the strongest positions we have ever enjoyed as a league. As we look ahead to 2017, conference games will continue to be extremely competitive and our schools are once again playing what is arguably the top non-conference schedule in the country. This is a great tribute to our schools and programs, and it will be exciting on a weekly basis for our fans.”
For a complete look at the ACC’s 2017 football schedule, click HERE or HERE or HERE.
Six weeks after landing the head-coaching job at Cincinnati, Luke Fickell continues to make headway in completing his initial Bearcats coaching staff.
In a press release Tuesday, UC confirmed that Fickell has added Ron Crook and Al Washington as line coaches. Crook will coach the offensive line, Washington the defensive line.
“I’m glad to wrap up a pair of key hires with great coaches like Al and Ron,” the head coach said in a statement. “You win and lose football games in the trenches and both bring an intense and physical mindset to their jobs. Looking at our staff top to bottom with a few hires still to come, we have attracted high-quality coaches who can teach the game and lead our student-athletes to success.”
Crook, who began his collegiate coaching career at UC as a grad assistant in 1993, returns after spending the past four seasons at West Virginia. He’s also spent time on staffs at Illinois and Stanford among others.
Washington, meanwhile, spent the past five seasons at his alma mater Boston College. He was the line coach as well as special teams coordinator last season after coaching running backs the three previous years. His only other FBS job came at North Carolina State.
With the twin hires, Fickell now has seven of his nine on-field staff in place: Cook, Washington, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Denbrock (HERE), defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Marcus Freeman, special teams coordinator/tight ends coach Doug Phillips, wide receivers coach Joker Phillips (HERE) and safeties coach Jon Tenuta.
In December, John Montelus opted to transfer to Virginia after deciding to leave Notre Dame. A month later, and the offensive lineman will have some former Irish company in Charlottesville.
Following up on speculation that’s been growing for days, Colin McGovern confirmed to the South Bend Tribune that he too has decided to transfer from the Fighting Irish to the Cavaliers. As the offensive lineman will be leaving South Bend as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately for UVa. in 2017.
The upcoming season will be McGovern’s final year of eligibility.
After playing in 10 games his first three years with the Fighting Irish, McGovern played in 11 this past season. He started eight games at right guard in 2016, marking the first starts of his collegiate career.
A four-star 2013 signee, McGovern was rated as the No. 13 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 7 player at any position in the state of Illinois.