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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National Signing Day was three weeks ago, but the process of recruits putting their Herbie Hancocks on National Letters of Intent continues.
South Florida has announced that Charlie Strong has added Chauncy Smart to the Bulls’ 2017 recruiting class. Smart had originally signed with the Florida State track team last fall, but was given a release from that scholarship in order to pursue a career in college football.
Smart’s signing pushes Strong’s first class with the program, which is ranked 77th by 247Sports.com, to 19 members strong. 14 of those signees, including Smart, were rated as three-star recruits.
The new member of the Bulls will certainly bring some speed to the football table. From the release:
Smart was ranked No. 1 in Florida and No. 3 nationally at 100 meters among the class of 2017. He played football for three seasons at Auburndale Senior High School, seeing action at running back and cornerback, before taking off his senior year to focus on track. He clocked a school record of 10.3 in the 100 meters and won county, district and regional sprint titles. He also finished second in the 100 meters at the 2016 FHSAA 3A State Championships and third at the national Brooks PR Invitational in Seattle, Wash.
It’s unclear at which position, or even which side of the ball on which Smart will start.
Yeah, this is as convoluted as the headline suggests.
Based on multiple reports, there is one thing that’s certain: Gerad Parker was arrested early Tuesday morning on a charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. According to the Purdue Exponent, “Parker was charged around 2 a.m. by West Lafayette police, after he was reportedly attending a going away party at a near-campus bar.”
From the Cincinnati Enquirer:
Parker reportedly was seen driving the wrong way on West Lafayette’s Pierce Street when he was stopped. Parker was taken to the Tippecanoe County Jail, where he was booked and held. The Exponent also reported that Parker was released later Tuesday without a bond, according to a jail spokesman.
Parker served as the interim head coach at Purdue this past season following the firing of Darrell Hazell in mid-October. In late January, Cincinnati announced that Parker had been hired as Luke Fickell‘s running backs coach.
However, it’s being reported that Parker had, according to a school spokesperson, resigned his post at UC last week to take the wide receivers coach job at East Carolina, a move that came prior to his legal run-in and even as the coach’s personal Twitter account still has him listed as a Bearcats coach. Parker would’ve/will replace Phil McGeoghan, who left ECU in late January for a job with the Buffalo Bills.
How this development will impact Parker’s reported employment with the Pirates is unclear.
A graduate transfer from Notre Dame is not the only Power Five addition Bronco Mendenhall made to his Virginia roster Tuesday.
According to the Cavaliers in a press release, Brandon Pertile will enroll in classes at the university and play football for the Cavaliers this fall. The offensive lineman will be graduating from Oklahoma State this spring, making him eligible immediately to play during the 2017 season.
This upcoming year will be Pertile’s final season of eligibility.
Pertile began his collegiate career at Georgia State, appearing in six games for the Panthers in 2013 before transferring to an Arizona junior college for the 2014 season. He then transferred to Oklahoma State, where he played in three games the past two seasons.
Pertile and John Montelus, the former Notre Dame lineman whose addition to the roster was confirmed today as well, are actually the third and fourth Power Five transfers added to the team in less than a month. One of Montelus’ former teammates, fellow offensive lineman Colin McGovern, transferred to UVa. late last month, and was followed a week later by Missouri quarterback Marvin Zanders.
McGovern is coming to Charlottesville as a graduate transfer, while Zanders will have to sit out the 2017 season and leave him with one year of eligibility that he can use in 2018.
Once upon a time, Jason Nichols was a school-record holding receiver at East Carolina. On Tuesday, he officially returned to campus — as running backs coach.
“Not only does Jason bring a wealth of coaching experience to East Carolina, he knows first-hand of the special bond that exists between Pirate Nation and our program,” head coach Scottie Montgomery said in a statement. “To have the opportunity to impact young men on the same campus and playing field where he earned his degree and competed is immeasurable. From a recruiting standpoint, I’m not sure if there’s anyone else who could tell a more compelling story of what it means to be a Pirate.”
After leaving East Carolina in 1998, Nichols deposited a couple years in the CFL and Arena Football League before returning to campus as a graduate assistant in 2001.
From there, Nichols went on to coach wide receivers at Sacred Heart, Appalachian State, Toledo, Louisiana-Monroe and, in 2016, at Western Carolina.
Nichols takes over a running game that finished 110th nationally at 132.4 yards per game and 101st in FBS at 3.93 yards per carry. The Pirates’ leading returning rusher stands as rising senior Anthony Scott, who carried 79 times for 384 yards and two touchdowns in eight appearances.