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
Teldrick Morgan had been a significant part of New Mexico State’s passing game the past two seasons. In 2016, he’ll try to play the same role at a Big Ten school.
Maryland announced in a press release that Morgan, a native of Hanover, Maryland, has transferred to the university and will continue his collegiate playing career with the Terps. As Morgan is coming to College Park as a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2016.
The upcoming season will be the wide receiver’s final year of eligibility.
“Teldrick brings a great deal to our program and we’re excited that he’s a part of our family,” first-year Terps head coach DJ Durkin said in a statement. “It’s always great to bring a local kid back home, and on top of that he’s very skilled and brings a wealth of experience to our receivers unit.”
Each of the past two seasons, Morgan led the Aggies in receptions. He caught 75 passes in 2014, although that production dipped to 45 in 2015. A part of that drop was due to a groin injury that cost the 6-0, 195-pound receiver three games, as well as the continued emergence of Larry Rose III (1,651 yards rushing).
Morgan totaled 120 receptions for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns
Some kids/young adults will simply never learn, at least not the easy way. Case in point: Robbie Rhodes.
In June of 2014, reports surfaced that Rhodes had, ahem, “parted ways” with Baylor “for undisclosed reasons.” That move came a month after Rhodes was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and tampering with physical evidence, even as charges were never filed against him. Two months after “parting ways” with BU, Bowling Green announced that the wide receiver had transferred into its football program.
Nearly two years later? He gone. Again.
According to the Toledo Blade, Rhodes has been dismissed from the Falcons football team. The only stated reason was an unspecified violation of team rules.
Rhodes, a four-star 2013 recruit rated as the No. 8 receiver in the country that year, appeared in 11 games as a true freshman for the Bears, recording 10 receptions for 157 yards. After sitting out the 2014 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Rhodes played in seven games for the Falcons last season, recording three catches for 130 yards.
Rhodes’ departure leaves the Falcons with just two receivers who have caught passes at the collegiate level — Ronnie Moore (third on the team in 2015 with 72 receptions for 954 yards and six touchdowns) and Scott Miller (7-29 last season).
Even as Lyndell Wilson has yet to play a down of college football, the highly-touted 2016 signee simply can’t buy an injury break.
In late March, Wilson announced via Twitter that he would be undergoing surgery in short order to repair a torn labrum in one of his shoulders. Three months later, the linebacker announced via the same social media site that he has to undergo a medical procedure to repair a torn meniscus in one of his knees.
Per Wilson’s tweet, that has since been deleted for whatever reason, the surgery will be performed Tuesday. There’s no prognosis on how much time Wilson will miss, including whether he will be available for the start of summer camp in early August.
While the tweet announcing the surgery no longer appears on his Twitter feed, a retweet and another of his own tweets suggests he has yet another injury hurdle to overcome.
For what it’s worth, the school has yet to address any potential health issues with which Wilson may be dealing.
Wilson was one of five Rivals.com five-star recruits signed by the Tide this recruiting cycle. The Montgomery, Ala., native was rated as the No. 4 outside linebacker in the country; the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Alabama; and the No. 26 player overall by that recruiting service. 247Sports.com had the 6-1, 235-pound high schooler as the No. 15 overall prospect in the Class of 2016.
Art Briles may be out as Baylor’s head football coach, but he still has some influence over at least one member of his last recruiting class.
Over the weekend, Kam Martin announced via Twitter that he had committed to play his college football for Gus Malzahn at Auburn. The running back chose Auburn over another contender in TCU.
Malzahn and Briles are good friends who, prior to Briles’ dismissal in the wake of the sexual assault scandal in the football program, brainstormed together this offseason. When Martin received a release from his BU National Letter of Intent, he turned to Briles for advice, with his former coach advising him that Auburn would be “a great fit.”
“He helped me — I still have a great relationship with him,” Martin told 247Sports.com. “He just told me Auburn is a great fit for me with Coach Gus Malzahn and his coaching staff. He said if I was going to Baylor and he was there, it would be the same type of vibe (as at Auburn). He told me Coach Gus would take care of me. He said with him, it’s about the player, about the university.
“And shoot, he’s an offensive guru.”
A four-star 2016 prospect, Martin will be eligible to play for said guru’s squad this coming season.