WHO: 9-3 Miami (ACC) vs. 11-1 Louisville (AAC)
WHAT: Russell Athletic Bowl (24th year)
WHERE: Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla.
WHEN: Dec. 28 at 6:45 p.m. ET
WHY: It’s a battle of potential first-round NFL quarterbacks as Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater takes on Miami’s Stephen Morris. We could also see a potential rivalry start to brew as the Cardinals will be joining the ACC next season.
UL fell just short of a BCS bowl and an undefeated seasons when it lost by three points to UCF back in mid-October. Bridgewater has been the main weapon for the Cardinals all season, throwing for 3,523 yards with 28 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He was aided by an excellent defense that finished second nationally total defense and third in points allowed per game. Louisville needs to get its offense kickstarted if it wants to win this one. The Cardinals averaged just 25 points per game in their last three outings.
Miami started out 7-0 but stumbled with three straight losses in November. Still, it had its best record since 2009 by finishing 9-3. Morris led an explosive offense, throwing for 2,868 yards and 21 touchdowns, but the loss of running back Duke Johnson to a season-ending ankle injury affected the Canes down the stretch. Miami’s young, talented, secondary will be challenged by Bridgewater, but they did play about as well as anyone did against Jameis Winston and FSU.
These appear to be two evenly-matched teams. Don’t be surprised if it goes down to the wire.
PREDICTION: Louisville 34, Miami 27
It appears someone else will have to ease the load for a newly-minted starter under center and a Heisman Trophy contender, at least in the very early portion of the season.
According to Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News, Stanford head coach David Shaw has deemed it “unlikely” running back Bryce Love will play in the season opener Friday against Kansas State. Love sustained what was described as a lower-body injury at some point during summer camp.
The good news for the program and the player is, after the opener, the Cardinal goes on a bye before hosting 20th-ranked USC Sept. 17.
Wilner writes that “Love… is considered central to eighth-ranked Stanford’s efforts to take the pressure off new quarterback Ryan Burns and tailback Christian McCaffrey.” Burns has thrown one career pass and will be making his starting debut against K-State.
Last season, Love averaged 7.8 yards on his 29 carries. He added 15 receptions for 250 yards, and three total touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving).
South Carolina has seen one of the most experienced members of its secondary not only leave the program but the sport as well.
Rico McWilliams has decided to leave the Gamecocks and give up football, first-year USC head coach Will Muschamp announced Monday. No reason was given for the decision.
McWilliams had started 18 the past three seasons, but began to tumble down the depth chart in the spring and failed to gain much ground in summer camp. He had left camp early on for what were described as personal reasons, but eventually returned.
“I am back with the team and have to stay focused,” the cornerback said just three days ago.
As a redshirt junior last season, McWilliams started 10 of USC’s 12 games, the lone exceptions being the contests against Georgia and Texas A&M. He was credited with 32 tackles, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
Additionally, Muschamp announced that redshirt freshman wide receiver Christian Owens had left his team as well. A three-star 2015 signee, Owens didn’t play as a true freshman.
Via social media, Jim Harbaugh has attempted to walk back some of his strong talk.
Monday, the Michigan head coach was asked to comment on one of his former San Francisco 49er players, Colin Kaepernick, who kicked up quite the controversy this past week by sitting down during the playing of the national anthem to protest what he believes to be the mistreatment of African-Americans in this country. Not surprisingly, the outspoken Harbaugh didn’t mince many words.
“I acknowledge his right to do that, but I don’t respect the motivation or the action,” the coach said.
A short time later, Harbaugh took to Twitter to offer a clarification that he had no issue with Kaepernick’s motivation, merely his methods.
Even as Baylor looks to put a tumultuous offseason in the rearview mirror, the football team simply can’t get away from the dark cloud hanging over the program.
Interim head coach Jim Grobe announced Monday that Chance Waz has been suspended for the Bears’ first two games of the upcoming season. The only reason given was unspecified disciplinary issues.
The suspension will cost the defensive back games against Northwestern State and SMU. Waz will be eligible to return for the Sept. 16 game against Rice.
After playing in 11 games as a true freshman in 2014, Waz started 11 of the 13 games in which he played last season. He was again projected as a starting safety entering summer camp.
Speaking of BU starters, Ishmael Zamora is still listed as a first-team wide receiver on the final preseason depth chart released by the Bears Monday. Zamora was caught on video beating his dog with a belt and kicking it, and was ultimately charged with misdemeanor animal abuse.
Grobe said he’s still awaiting the university’s decision on what if any punishment Zamora may be facing as a result of the incident.