Alabama-A&M: the Predictions

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Less than a day and a half from now, the curtain will have fallen on the Alabama-Texas A&M mega-rematch, one of the most hyped regular season matchups of at least the last decade — especially to those who have already forgotten the ‘Bama-LSU clashes the past couple of seasons.

Regardless, it’s easily the most highly-anticipated regular-season matchup of 2013, with storylines ranging from Johnny Manziel looking to repeat his 2012 coming-out party to the Tide seeking to avenge its only loss from its second straight title-winning season.  Already the highest-priced ticket for a regular season college football game in history, some that cover the television side of sports expect the game to attract a record number of eyeballs.

It’s being hyped as must-see TV, and rightly so giving the recent past between the two schools and the potential future BCS ramifications for each.

Since even Charles Barkley is offering up a quasi-prediction, we here at CFT figured we’d do the same.  So, without any further or unnecessary ado, here’s how Chris, Kevin and I see the instant classic shaking out.

And, as if you needed any prompting, flame away in the comments section — and offer up your own predictions that can be openly mocked as well.

CHRIS HOUSTON
The take: With the Tide having an extra week to prepare, I can’t see a repeat of last year happening, when the Aggies jumped out to a 20-0 first-quarter lead. Instead, I see this as a back-and-forth slugfest that will be close most of the way, with the winner being the team that can produce the most explosive plays during crunch time. Alabama will run the ball well with TJ Yeldon and keep it away from Johnny Manziel just enough to prevent him from dominating the game. This one should go down to the wire, with the Tide holding off the Aggies in the end.

The prediction: Alabama 27, Texas A&M 24

KEVIN MCGUIRE
The take: Neither team comes in to this game looking to have much of an advantage on the line, but given an extra week to correct the shortcomings we saw against Virginia Tech should bode well for Alabama. Much has been made about how important it is for Alabama to have Nick Saban get an extra week to prepare, and I suspect that does come in to play, but just how much will this defense be able to slow down Johnny Manziel? Manziel will have to be Superman once again, and he is capable of being just that, but I can’t imagine Alabama digs a hole the way did last year when Manziel and the Aggies stunned them early in Tuscaloosa. Neither team runs away with this one, but I think Alabama picks up their revenge this time around.

The prediction: Alabama 27, Texas A&M 23

JOHN TAYLOR
The take: For me, it’s “simple.”  Alabama’s defense plus the revenge aspect — elephants never forget, right? — plus Nick Saban and his coaching staff having an entire offseason to get a handle on Texas A&M’s offense trumps the raucous Kyle Field homefield advantage and the electrifying playmaking of Johnny Manziel.  It won’t be easy for the Tide — I can see a kicker deciding it late (shudders on both sides) — but it’ll be a markedly different outcome for the two-time defending BCS champions than it was 10 months ago; having it come on the road, after being beaten in their house last November, will make it all the sweeter.

The prediction: Alabama 30, Texas A&M 27

Randy Edsall adds FCS special teams coordinator to UConn staff

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Earlier this month, Randy Edsall lost one of his assistant coaches to the NFL. This week, he’s turned to one from the FCS ranks as a replacement.

UConn announced Monday the hiring of Eddie Allen as the Huskies’ new special teams coordinator. Allen comes to Storrs after spending the past three seasons in the same role at Delaware.

The hire fills a hole a created by the departure of Chris White, who has been named as the tight ends coach for the Detroit Lions.

“Eddie’s aggressive approach to special teams was exactly what I was looking for in our special teams coordinator,” a statement from the head coach began. “His teams have shown the ability to block kicks and be very fundamentally sound in the core four units involving special teams. He has delivered very good results as a special teams coordinator in all the places he has worked.”

Prior to Delaware, Allen spent six seasons as the special teams coordinator at Rhode Island. He was a football staffer for Greg Schiano at Rutgers (2005-07) before that.

This will mark Allen’s first on-field job at the FBS level.

“I am extremely excited to join Coach Edsall’s staff,” the New Jersey native said in his statement. “Being from the Northeast, I have followed the program closely through the years and I am looking forward to getting around our players and doing my part in the future of success of the program.”

Report: departing Miami DL coach could be headed to Alabama

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And now we know a little bit more of the rest of the story.

Just a short time ago, Miami announced that defensive line Craig Kuligowski was leaving the football program after two years to pursue unspecified opportunities elsewhere.  Subsequent to that announcement, Bruce Feldman of SI.com tweeted that Nick Saban and Tuscaloosa could be the assistant’s ultimate destination.

Kuligowski and Saban have a previous connection as the former played defensive line under the latter at Toledo in 1990.  Saban is searching for a replacement to Karl Dunbar, the Crimson Tide’s defensive line coach who left for a job with the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this month.

Other names floated as possibilities have included former FAU head coach Charlie Partridge and former UA assistant and current South Carolina line coach Lance Thompson.

DL coach Craig Kuligowski leaves Miami ‘to pursue other opportunities’

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At one point it appeared that Mark Richt had dodged a coaching-departure bullet.  In the end, however, his Miami staff has been hit.

Reports surfaced earlier in the day Monday the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had interviewed UM defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski for the same job.  Not long after the initial speculation first appeared, the NFL club confirmed that it had hired someone other than Kuligowski for the position.

Tonight, however, the Hurricanes announced in a press release that Kuligowski “is leaving the program to pursue other opportunities.” What and where specifically that opportunity is wasn’t divulged by the football program.

Kuligowski had spent the past two seasons with the Hurricanes and is widely considered one of the top line coaches in the country.

Mark Your Calendars: KU, Wazzu reportedly set for 2027-28 home-and-home series

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Are you ready for some good news? Kansas and Washington State are (finally, FINALLY!) going to meet on the gridiron.

Are you ready for some bad news? You’re going to have to wait nearly a decade to see it.

The Jayhawks and Cougars have agreed to a home-and-home series in 2027-28, according to documents obtained by FBSchedules. Washington State is set to host the first game on Sept. 11, 2027, with Kansas returning the favor on Sept. 9, 2028. The programs have met 10 times previously, but not since 1977. Kansas holds a 7-2 all-time advantage.

Washington State is also set to visit Boise State in 2027, but does not have any other games lined up for ’28. Kansas does not have any other agreements for either season.

Interestingly, Wazzu’s Kansas home-and-home is sandwiched around a home-and-home with Kansas State in 2026 and ’29. Washington State has not faced a Big 12 opponent since a 65-17 loss at Oklahoma State to open the 2010 season.

Kansas, who also has future games with Rutgers, Boston College, Duke and Illinois on the docket, has not squared off with a Pac-12 foe — not counting former Big 12 bunk mate Colorado — since a 41-17 loss to UCLA on Sept. 8, 2001.