WHO: 8-4 Buffalo (MAC) vs. 7-5 San Diego State (MWC)
WHAT: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (16th year)
WHERE: Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho
WHEN: Dec. 21 at 5:30 p.m. ET
WHY: The San Diego State Aztecs are starting to get used to this bowl routine. For the fourth straight season San Diego State is making a bowl trip, a school record. After a dreadful start to the season, it is somewhat remarkable San Diego State is even playing at this point of the year.
San Diego State opened the season with a 0-3 start that included a road loss at Ohio State and a home loss to FCS Eastern Illinois, who were just eliminated in the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs last weekend. San Diego State has certainly not been shy on drama this season either. The Aztecs played in four overtime games this season, losing just one of those to Mountain West Conference champion Fresno State but defeating Boise State.
Look for San Diego State to try to run the football against Buffalo. Adam Muema rushed for 1,015 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, including a season high 233 yards and three touchdowns against New Mexico. He will try to find some success against the MAC’s third best rushing defense. The Bulls have allowed 159.75 rushing yards per game this season, holding four opponents under 100 yards this season. But Buffalo has given up some big numbers on the ground at times as well. Bowling Green ripped off 260 yards in a regular season finale and Toledo put together 323 rushing yards in a game. Buffalo does have a defense that is tough to score against though, allowing just 22.3 points per game this season despite giving up a combined 110 points to Baylor and Ohio State in the first two weeks of the season.
Buffalo has one of the more exciting defensive players to watch this bowl season. Senior linebacker Kahlil Mack has 94 tackles this season, including 19.0 for a loss (10.5 sacks). He has also forced five fumbles and intercepted three passes. As if that was not enough, he also has two touchdowns this season.
The blue turf in Boise has been the scene for some wild games in the bowl previously known as the Humanitarian Bowl, so this seems like the perfect place to let some MACtion run wild.
PREDICTION: San Diego State 31, Buffalo 28
Washington State coach Mike Leach is known across the country as one of college football’s most interesting characters, rambling on from time-to-time about everything from pirates to the history of Geronimo. The latest subject the quirky head coach has turned his sights on? The big ol’ SEC.
The Jackson Clarion-Ledger spoke to Leach recently as part of a profile on new Ole Miss offensive coordinator Phil Longo, and let’s just say the Air Raid guru of the Palouse didn’t hold back when discussing the state of offenses in the league widely considered to be the best in the sport.
“I’ve got bad news for all these levels people,” Leach said. “Your level isn’t special, your conference isn’t special. All this different level this, different level that. That’s crazy.
“This is a great time to be in the SEC, everybody’s got the same offense: run right, run left, play action. And they tease themselves and say we threw it four more times a game this year than we did last year.”
Leach, who coached in the league at Kentucky, also added some other, more colorful language to describe his impression of the SEC and the offenses teams run. While he did play at Auburn with the Cougars a few years ago, he clearly hasn’t kept up with the way things are trending down south as even pro-style stalwarts like Alabama and Arkansas are using more and more tempo and spread principles on a weekly basis.
Either way, let’s hope the Washington State athletic director is already making calls to schedule an SEC opponent in the coming years. If nothing else, any future appearance by Leach on the Paul Finebaum Show should be must-see entertainment.
It probably took a little longer than most to dot the I’s and cross the T’s, but Willie Taggart has completed his coaching staff at Oregon and the latest addition is a familiar face.
The school announced Thursday afternoon that Raymond Woodie would be taking over as the Ducks’ new special teams coordinator, having previously spent the past four seasons at USF with Taggart and three more before that together at Western Kentucky.
Woodie most recently served as the Bulls’ defensive coordinator this past season but has been a linebackers coach dating back to 2012. He is regarded by many to be a quality recruiter with good ties to the state of Florida in particular and has also coached the defensive line. While his title makes him responsible for the third phase of the game for Oregon, he figures to also help out new defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt in some fashion as well.
The announcement is a bit of positive news for Taggart and the Ducks this week after a considerable bit of bad press for the program stemming from the revelation that multiple Oregon players wound up in the hospital following offseason workouts. New strength coach Irele Oderinde (who also came over from USF) was eventually suspended for one month without pay by the school as a result..
Gus Malzahn’s quest to find a new offensive coordinator has zigged and zagged in the past few days since the surprising departure of Rhett Lashlee to UConn. One place it will not be going however, is to a fellow SEC West school.
Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle reports that despite some interest in Texas A&M offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, the Aggies’ coach is staying put in College Station.
Mazzone arrived at A&M prior to this past season from UCLA and found early success with the Aggies and transfer quarterback Trevor Knight before a late slide in 2016. Travis Haney of 247Sports reported earlier Thursday that he could be considered the leader in the search to replace Lashlee, but it appears that will not be the case.
The longtime coaching veteran’s name being linked to Auburn isn’t too surprising considering he was the OC there from 1999-2001 but Mazzone’s hefty salary and likely high buyout figure provided some big obstacles if he wanted to reunite with the school.
Instead, it’s on to the next one for Malzahn and company.
National Signing Day is just around the corner and that means a flurry of in-home visits by coaches across the country trying to lock up the next class of impact players for their program.
We’ve seen plenty of unique attempts by coaches to impress prospects over the years as a result, from often used cookie cakes to sleepovers and limo rides. When it comes to this subject though, few have been as creative as Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh. This week, he certainly cemented that reputation.
According to the Detroit News, Harbaugh and several Wolverines coaches took an in-home visit with five-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon out of Leesburg, Georgia and went bowling with the recruit’s family before finally racing go-karts together.
And even better, there’s video via ESPN:
Solomon is also strongly considering Alabama and Georgia in addition to Michigan, but something says neither Nick Saban or Kirby Smart will be heading to the race track with the big defensive tackle on their visit. You have to love recruiting either way.