WHO: 11-1 Fresno State vs. 9-4 USC
WHAT: Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (22nd year)
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium in Whitney, Nevada
WHEN: Dec. 21 at 3:30 p.m. ET
WHY: Despite the game being played in the vicinity of Sin City, this bowl bid has to serve as a bitter disappointment for Fresno State.
Entering the last weekend of November, the Bulldogs had a BCS bowl bid well within its reach. A 62-52 loss to San Jose State, however, ended both their perfect season and a legitimate shot at a BCS game. It also kept a player from appearing on the national stage he deserves: quarterback Derek Carr, who currently leads the nation in passing yards and passing touchdowns and is 11th in passing efficiency. Were it not for that loss to the Spartans, Carr would likely have found himself with a trip to New York City earlier this month as a Heisman finalist.
USC, of course, responded to the firing of Lane Kiffin in late September by ripping off six wins in the first seven games with Ed Orgeron as interim head coach. When the Trojans poached Steve Sarkisian from Washington as the permanent replacement, Orgeron abruptly resigned, leaving USC in the hands of offensive coordinator Clay Helton for the bowl game. Regardless of who is the coach, you can expect a heavy dose of Javorius Allen. In the games under Kiffin, the running back carried the ball just 14 times for 78 yards and no touchdowns and did not have a single catch coming out of the backfield; in the eight games after Kiffin was canned, Allen had 112 touches (94 carries, 18 receptions) for 840 yards (621 rushing, 219 receiving) and 14 touchdowns (13 rushing, one receiving). The sophomore closed out the last month of the regular season by rushing for 120-plus yards in four of the five games, including a career-high 145 yards in the Nov. 22 win over Colorado.
One oddity about this game? The same two teams will open the 2014 season against each other, albeit this time in Los Angeles.
PREDICTION: USC 41, Fresno State 38
Well-traveled doesn’t remotely begin to describe this particular FBS assistant coach.
With Willie Taggart taking over in Eugene, Oregon offensive coordinator Matt Lubick left the Ducks in December to take over as the wide receivers coach at Ole Miss. Exactly 12 days later, Lubick left Oxford to become the offensive coordinator at Baylor.
Less than two months later, Lubick is on the move again, with Washington announcing the assistant has been added to the Huskies’ coaching staff. Lubick will coach wide receivers and will also carry the title of co-offensive coordinator.
“I am excited to add Matt to our coaching staff,” UW head coach Chris Petersen said in a statement. “He has earned a national reputation as an innovative coaching mind and a successful recruiter. Equally as important, we believe he will be a terrific fit with our staff, players and the University of Washington.”
Lubick replaces Bush Hamdan, who left last weekend for an NFL job with the Atlanta Falcons.
Greg Adkins didn’t remain on the coaching unemployment line for long.
Earlier this month, Oklahoma State fired Adkins as its offensive line coach. Less than three weeks later, Adkins has been hired to fill the same role for the Charlotte 49ers.
“Greg brings a wealth of knowledge and experience at all levels to our offensive line,” said head coach Brad Lambert in a statement confirming the hire. “He’s coached in the NFL, at the Power Five level and at the Group of Five level. He’s an excellent recruiter and has served as a recruiting coordinator. He’s coached different aspects, like the defensive line and tight ends — all things that can benefit our offensive line play and our offense moving forward.
“He’ll be a huge asset to our program. We see a lot of benefits in him and see him as being able to influence our young guys in a positive manner.”
Adkins had spent the past two seasons at the Big 12 OSU. He and Lambert have also worked together on the same coaching staffs at both Georgia and Marshall.
From 2003-08, Adkins served as an assistant at Tennessee under Phillip Fulmer.
“Greg is an outstanding football coach, person and recruiter — one of those guys you want to be in the trenches with,” the former Vols head coach said. “He’ll do an outstanding job with (the 49ers) program.”
As our friends at FootballScoop.com put it, this is certainly an interesting hire by Frank Wilson.
UT-San Antonio announced via a press release Wednesday that Wilson has hired Bo Davis to be the Roadrunners’ defensive line coach. Davis’ last job came as a coaching intern for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars this past season.
Prior to that, he was the line coach at Alabama for two seasons.
“Adding a coach with an outstanding pedigree like Bo Davis is a coup for UTSA,” Wilson said. “He’s won at every level, on the biggest stages and in the biggest moments. He’s an outstanding teacher and recruiter and he has coached nationally acclaimed defensive linemen everywhere he’s been. He will be a tremendous asset to UTSA, and he gives us continued credibility in the direction this program is headed. It’s an honor to have him be a part of our staff.”
It was the manner in which Davis departed Tuscaloosa that will raise some eyebrows over this development.
In late April of last year, reports surfaced that Davis was expected to resign or be fired as Alabama’s defensive line coach after the school opened an inquiry into possible NCAA violations on the recruiting trail. The nature of the violations were not revealed, but the NCAA had launched investigations into the matter and Alabama opened its own corresponding inquiry.
A day later, the Tide announced that Davis had, ahem, “submitted his letter of resignation.” The status of the NCAA investigation is unclear.
In a report from al.com just last month, the website wrote that “[d]espite interest from several schools, a college team likely won’t hire Davis while the NCAA investigation is ongoing and until he’s served whatever penalty he gets from the NCAA.” A little over four weeks later, Davis is back in the coaching game after spending the past several months as a truck driver.
“I am very grateful for this opportunity to be a part of the Roadrunner family,” said Davis. “I’d like to thank Coach Wilson and (Director of Athletics) Lynn Hickey for giving me the chance to join a great coaching staff at UTSA. I am looking forward to an exciting future in San Antonio.”
Another day, another player leaving to look for greener playing time pastures.
The latest to suffer personnel attrition is Arizona State, with James Johnson taking to his personal Twitter account to announce his decision to transfer from the Sun Devils. The defensive back will be graduating from ASU this May, which would allow him to play immediately at another FBS program for his final season of eligibility.
A three-star member of the Sun Devils’ 2013 recruiting class, Johnson was rated as the No. 84 safety in the country coming out of high school in California. He held offers from, among others, Fresno State, Houston, Nevada and Oregon State.
After redshirting as a true freshman, Johnson played in 23 games the next two seasons. Injuries limited him to just one game this past season.