Ross Apo

BYU goes bowling, clinches Fight Hunger Bowl bid with Boise State win

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For the first time in program history, BYU defeated Boise State. The Cougars topped the Broncos by a score of 37-20 Friday night in Provo. Taysom Hill passed for 339 yards, three touchdowns and rushed for 69 yards and another touchdown in the victory. With the win, BYU automatically qualifies to fill their previously arranged spot in the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, so BYU is the first team to officially be going bowling this season.

BYU was in control from start to finish in this game, taking advantage of a more talented and deeper roster than a Boise State team that is in a bit of a rebuilding mode. BYU has put together some impressive wins this season and that is worth recalling. Aside from their blowout win over Texas and how they played against Boise State, BYU has played well in victories over Utah State (without Chuckie Keeton), Georgia Tech and previously undefeated Houston. If not for a the horrendous weather conditions in the season opener against Virginia, BYU has looked the part of a program worthy of consideration for a BCS at-large, in the same boat as Fresno State and Northern Illinois. You could even make an argument BYU has put together a better profile than Fresno State or Northern Illinois, but if nothing else we know BYU will be playing in the Fight Hunger Bowl. BYU will take on a team from the Pac 12 in the San Francisco-based bowl game played in the home of baseball’s San Francisco Giants.

Boise State is certainly not the same program they were in recent years. In addition to being without injured starting quarterback Joe Southwick, the Broncos lack the same kind of defensive talent they had during their BCS runs in recent seasons. Fortunately for the Broncos, the loss to BYU means nothing for the fate of this season. Boise State will still be sitting at the top of the Mountain West Conference’s Mountain Division after Saturday’s college football action, and the Broncos will still be in control of their potential path to a conference championship game. Having already lost two games this season, any shot at a BCS spot was lost a while ago, but a chance to play for the conference championship is still their’s to lose in their division.

Boise State’s Dillon Lukehart was ejected for a hit on BYU’s Cody Hoffman on a catch that looked like it would be good for a touchdown. But the hit jarred the football loose and a video review upheld the ejection. Because there was helmet to helmet contact, there was little to dispute with this particular targeting call. With the ejection taking place in the second half of the game, Lukehart will have to sit out the first half of Boise State’s game next week at Colorado State.

Win over Grambling approved, Cal officially becomes bowl eligible

Jared Goff
Associated Press
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Earlier today we had the report that Cal, they of the normally bowl-eligible six wins on the season, were not actually bowl eligible. The hang up was due to some NCAA red tape on how many scholarships Grambling, a 73-14 victim to the Bears on opening Saturday, had actually awarded this year.

Why the number of scholarships awarded by an opponent of a 6-5 team could determine what glorified exhibition said 6-5 could or could not play is a matter for another time, but the fact is it mattered.

But according to a report from Kevin Gemmell of, the Bears received approval to count the win toward their total, meaning Sonny Dykes and company will go bowling for the first time since 2011.

“We have conferred with both Grambling and the NCAA,” Cal spokesman Wes Mallette told ESPN. “As anticipated, Grambling has confirmed their football program has met the 90 percent financial aid requirement over the rolling two-year average. Therefore, Cal football’s win over Grambling counts toward bowl eligibility. Cal football is bowl eligible.”

The Bears have a chance to become bowl eligible the old fashioned way with a win over Arizona State Saturday in Berkeley.


Tulane reportedly set to fire head coach Curtis Johnson

Curtis Johnson
Associated Press
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The end of the college football regular season brings with it bowl bids, conference championship entries and rivalry games. Along the way, though, come end-of-season firings. So many end of-season firings.

According to a report from Dan Wolken of USA Today Wednesday night, the first one is already on the books. Or at least close to it.

Wolken reports Tulane is set to part ways with head coach Curtis Johnson following the Green Wave’s Friday finale against Tulsa “barring a last-minute change of direction.”

Johnson is 15-33 in nearly four complete seasons at Tulane, reaching a high point of a 7-6 mark wtih a New Orleans Bowl appearance in 2013 but winning two, three and three games in his other three campaigns.

If and when the move becomes official, Tulane will become the 15th FBS school to change head coaches this season, matching the total number of changes during the 2014-15 cycle.

Wolken reports Tulane will hire a new athletics director within the next week, and once that hiring is complete the school will then embark on hiring Johnson’s replacement.

Reports: Michigan DC D.J. Durkin a “strong candidate” for Maryland vacancy

D.J. Durkin
Associated Press

Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin has emerged a “strong candidate” for the Maryland job, according to reports from Yahoo‘s Pat Forde and Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman Wednesday.

“Durkin, 37, met recently with Maryland officials, sources said,” Forde wrote. “No job offer was made, but the interview went well, sources said.”

Added Feldman:

Durkin is in his first season as Michigan’s defensive coordinator, helping the 9-2 Wolverines jump from 14th to third nationally in yards per play allowed (4.77 to 4.15) and 27th to sixth in scoring defense (22.4 to 14.9).

Prior to working on Jim Harbaugh‘s staff, Durkin served as Will Muschamp‘s defensive coordinator at Florida for two years, and as his special teams coordinator for two years before that. He previously worked at Stanford, Bowling Green (his alma mater) and Notre Dame.

Should he be offered and accept the job, Durkin would immediately become Big Ten East rivals with his mentor Harbaugh.

“This week is so important to our guys, my 100% focus is on this game and our players — that’s what this profession is all about. You’ve got to make sure you’re taking care of the job you have week in and week out. It’s a tough task, especially with this team we have this week,” Durkin told the Detroit Free Press when asked about the reports.

“My goal is to get the best game plan possible together for Ohio State and have our guys go play well. To answer rumors or speculation right now and put something to it, my total focus is 100% on Ohio State and nothing else.”

Illini to decide on fate of interim head coach Bill Cubit by Sunday

Bill Cubit
Associated Press

Illinois will decide whether or not to retain interim head coach Bill Cubit for the full-time job by Sunday, interim AD Paul Kowalczyk told WSKJ-FM Wednesday.

“We need to make that call and figure out which way we’re going for everyone’s sake,” Kowalczyk said, via the Chicago Tribune. “For me, it’s posthaste.”

Illinois closes its regular season Saturday against No. 16 Northwestern in Champaign. The Illini are 5-6 on the year and, for what it’s worth, Cubit desperately wants the job.

Also worth noting: the athletics department is operating under a total state of dysfunction in the wake of AD Mike Thomas‘s firing.

From 670 The Score in Chicago on Wednesday:

Sources tell 670 The Score that as overwhelmed university officials are dithering and providing little guidance, the group of trustees, boosters and alums left to run things can’t yet agree on much.  Some want to hire a search firm with a spotty recent track record, others want to form their own search committee, while another faction thinks they need to act faster by using their own contacts to target specific AD and coaching candidates right now and just get moving.

Any support for retaining Bill Cubit is getting strong push-back from those who don’t believe he wasn’t aware of Tim Beckman’s aberrant behavior, and from some who feel strongly about making a more dynamic hire.

For those keeping score at home: Illinois is dealing with a power vacuum of trustees, boosters and alums battling for control while an interim chancellor and interim athletics director work to reach a resolution on an interim football coach.

And the coaching carousel starts spinning in full four days from now.