No. 17 UCLA vs. Baylor
Thurs., Dec. 27 – 9:45 p.m. ET, ESPN
San Diego – Qualcomm Stadium
The Bruins went toe-to-toe with one of the nation’s best teams in five of their last eight quarters. The heart-breaking loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 title game gave added credence to P101’s belief that first-year head coach Jim Mora packed it in for the final three quarters of the regular-season finale versus the Cardinal to avoid a trip to Eugene, in favor of a replay up on The Farm.
With those two opportunities to post a 10-win season gone, UCLA (9-4) needs a win to avoid losing three consecutive games to close its “turn-around” campaign.
Through the first three decades of this bowl, we came to expect shootouts with an average of 59 points scored, but over the last three years the total has been nearly cut in half. That means we’re due for a heaping helping of offense and these are the perfect teams to oblige.
After losing five of six in the middle of its schedule, Baylor (7-5) turned things around by crushing the hopes of then-No. 1 Kansas State on Nov. 17, sparking a three-game win streak.
Despite losing last year’s Heisman Trophy recipient to the NFL, quarterback Nick Florence kept the Bear offense rolling right along, racking up a national-best 578 yards per game. He’ll do plenty of damage against UCLA’s 88th ranked pass defense, but it won’t be enough to keep up with the generosity of a Baylor defense that ranks next-to-last, allowing 514 yards per game.
Those numbers have Bruin quarterback Brett Hundley and running back Johnathan Franklin licking their chops after churning out 461 yards in the Pac-12 title game against one of the nation’s best stop units.
UCLA needs to avoid souring the accomplishment of ending USC’s monopoly and produce its first meaningful bowl win since defeating Texas A&M in the 1998 Cotton Bowl.
Opening point spread: Baylor by 1
The pick: UCLA 47-38
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Duke, despite not ever being a member of the Big Ten or Pac-12, has a very unique connection to the Granddaddy of The All, and the football program is set to recognize said connection.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States government prohibited large gatherings of people on the West Coast. As the school wrote in a release, “on January 1, 1942, the Rose Bowl was played for the only time outside of Pasadena, Calif., after Blue Devil head coach Wallace Wade offered Duke Stadium as the host venue. Oregon State defeated Duke in the contest, 20-16, in front of 56,000 spectators.”
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of hosting the Rose Bowl, Duke will wear commemorative helmets in its game against Virginia Tech on November 5 at Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium.
From the release:
The distinctive Battleship Grey matte helmet will be complemented with a black facemask and a decal replicating a logo used by the 88th Infantry Division of the United States Army that held the nickname “Blue Devils” during World War II. In addition, Duke’s standard black jersey will don an official Rose Bowl 75th Anniversary commemorative patch and, underneath the uniform, the Blue Devils will wear gray Nike Pro three-quarter sleeves and tights.
You have heard myriad reasons for college football players to miss games, but this one might be a first.
In mid-September, four Minnesota football players — cornerbacks KiAnte Hardin and Ray Buford, safety Dior Johnson and defensive end Tamarion Johnson — were suspended in the midst of an investigation into an alleged sexual assault earlier in the month. Citing insufficient evidence in the case, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced in early October that no charges would be filed and the players were reinstated.
However, Tamarion Johnson and another player who wasn’t suspended, sophomore running back Carlton Djam, had a temporary restraining order filed against them by the alleged victim. Because the woman who received the order is a student who works at TCF Bank Stadium on football game days, Johnson and Djam would not be permitted to be in the stadium for Saturday’s game against Rutgers.
The attorney for the two players, former Gopher football player Lee Hutton, told the St. Paul Pioneer-Press that he is seeking to have the order modified so that his clients can attend the homecoming game Saturday. “I’m aggressively advocating on behalf of my clients to contest the restraining order,” the attorney said.
“It would not be appropriate for the University to comment on this matter to the extent it relates to University students,” a statement from the school on the restraining order said. “The University reaffirms, however, that it will honor and comply with court orders.”
Djam has run for 33 yards on nine carries this season. A freshman, Johnson was a likely candidate for a redshirt.
That was significantly quicker than anyone really expected.
Very late last month, Wisconsin confirmed that starting linebacker Vince Biegel would be sidelined “for several weeks” because of an injured foot that required surgery to insert a screw. It was thought at the time that, at minimum, Biegel would miss games against Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa and Nebraska.
After missing the first two and with a bye week thrown in as well, the senior is set to return for the Badgers this weekend against the Hawkeyes on the road.
Prior to the foot injury, Biegel had started 29 games in a row for the Badgers.
When Miami takes the field Thursday night against Virginia Tech, the Hurricanes will do so with a significantly depleted defense.
On The U’s official injury report, starting defensive end Chad Thomas is listed as questionable with an upper extremity injury. However, both Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald and Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post are reporting that Thomas did not travel to Blacksburg with the team and will not play in the prime-time game against the Hokies.
Thomas suffered the injury in last Saturday’s loss to North Carolina.
Additionally, fellow starting end Demetrius Jackson and starting cornerback Sheldrick Redwine have been ruled out as well. Jackson is nursing an injured knee, while Redwine was not listed on The U’s injury report and the reason for his absence — he didn’t make the trip, either — is unknown.
Thomas, who has started all six games this season, currently leads the ‘Canes in tackles for loss with eight, while Jackson is tied for second with 5.5. Jackson has started five of the six games.
Redwine has started the last five games for the Hurricanes, the first starts of his collegiate career.