WHO: 10-2 Oregon (Pac-12) vs. 8-4 Texas (Big 12)
WHAT: Alamo Bowl (21st year)
WHERE: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
WHEN: Dec. 30 at 6:45 p.m. ET
WHY: No. 10 Oregon takes on Texas in Mack Brown’s last game as the Longhorns head coach. Both teams had their eyes on far grander prizes just a few short weeks ago — Oregon was a legit national title contender while Texas merely had to beat Baylor in its final regular season game to win the Big 12 title. Neither scenario worked out and so instead we’ll get one of the best matchups of the bowl season in San Antonio.
Oregon has one of the most prolific offenses in college football, led by quarterback Marcus Mariota, who put up 3,994 yards of total offense and a combined 39 touchdowns this season. He recently announced he’ll be returning for his junior season. The Ducks average 47 points and 573 yards per game, so the Texas defense will have its hands full.
The Longhorns offense is a bit more basic and relies on a power running game featuring tailbacks Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron, who combined for 1,115 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. Senior quarterback Case McCoy will close out an inconsistent career for Texas. He passed for 1,885 yards with 11 touchdowns and 11 picks in 2013.
Both teams have dangerous weapons in the return game — De’Anthony Thomas for Oregon and Daje Johnson for Texas can both break it at any time. The Longhorns will have the edge if it turns into a kicking contest as Anthony Fera is one of the best placekickers in the country.
Oregon is the clear favorite overall, though, and it will take an emotional effort by Texas on Brown’s behalf to come away with a win.
PREDICTION: Oregon 45, Texas 24
For the third time this offseason — a number that could ultimately turn into four — Alabama has seen a player depart Nick Saban‘s football program.
On Twitter over the weekend, Christian Bell announced that, “[a]fter a lot of thoughts and prayers,” he has decided to transfer from the Crimson Tide. The linebacker gave no reason for his departure less than two weeks before the start of summer camp, although al.com has an idea:
Alabama is very deep at outside linebacker and has several other young outside linebackers who were higher-rated recruits than Bell and were ahead of Bell on the depth chart.
Bell took a “grayshirt” for the 2015 season, ultimately enrolling in classes at UA this past January. The Birmingham, Ala., native participated in spring practice with the Tide this year.
A three-star recruit according to 247Sports.com, Bell was rated as the No. 19 weakside defensive end in the country and the No. 17 player at any position in the state of Alabama.
In January, it was reported that Shawn Burgess-Becker had decided to transfer, with the defensive back ultimately moving on to UCF. A month after Burgess-Becker’s departure surfaced, reports emerged that linebacker Adonis Thomas was leaving ‘Bama for a junior college.
Senior defensive back Maurice Smith has also been granted permission to transfer, although Smith’s family at one time indicated that the door was open for a return. Earlier this month, it was reported that UA had thus far denied Smith a release from his scholarship.
Heading into his second season in Gainesville, Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins just received a significant raise.
Collins, who signed a three-year contract paying him $600,000 annually after leaving Mississippi State to join Jim McElwain‘s staff last winter, netted a bump to $890,000 with a $150,000 retention bonus according to contract details obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.
Nine assistants earned at least $1 million in 2015 according to USA Today, with six of those hailing from the SEC.
Additionally, defensive line coach Chris Rumph‘s salary moved to $500,000 with a one-year extension through the 2017 season, offensive line coach Mike Summers will earn $498,500, linebackers coach Randy Shannon‘s $400,000 salary grew by just under $10,000, and new defensive backs coach Torrian Gray signed a two-year deal paying him $335,000 annually.
Florida’s defense ranked eighth nationally in yards per play allowed in 2015, helping the Gators win an unexpected SEC East championship.
In an odd way, here’s the best way to show just how far Art Briles took Baylor’s football program: his interim replacement will make more money for eight months of work than the full-time head coaches at Iowa State and Kansas.
Jim Grobe will earn $1.25 million for his work from late May through the end of the upcoming football season, according to a report from Brett McMurphy of ESPN on Monday. Iowa State’s Matt Campbell will earn $1.2 million in an incentive-laden contract this year, while KU’s David Beaty will net $800,000.
Grobe’s $1.25 million deal is also the richest for any interim head coach on record. Arkansas paid John L. Smith $850,000 for 10 months of work back in 2012.
Baylor opens its season Friday, Sept. 2 against Northwestern State.
Six Washington State football players have been named persons of interest in a brawl that left two students hospitalized and even more injured over the weekend.
According to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, a group of students that included Cougars players started threw fireworks at attendees of a Pullman, Wash., party early Saturday morning. That led to a verbal altercation that soon became physical, where one suffered a bloody wound on the back of his neck and another was forced to undergo facial reconstruction surgery after suffering a broken jaw.
“We’re looking at this as a very serious felony assault level based on the injuries to two victims,” Pullman police commander Chris Tennant told the paper. “I would like to make arrests later in the week. I don’t know if that’s a realistic timeline. I expect this to be a lengthy investigation. A lot of people have to be interviewed.”
Wazzu AD Bill Moos released the following statement Monday afternoon:
“In regards to the events that took place over the past weekend, the university was made aware of the situation shortly after the incident occurred. It is our understanding there is a thorough investigation underway by local law enforcement and we will cooperate fully as we take these matters seriously. In addition, facts are being gathered within the athletic department in order to provide assistance. We have high expectations for the conduct of WSU student-athletes, and treat any alleged allegations with the utmost transparency. The WSU athletic staff is in constant communication with the Office of the President and the Office of Student Life to ensure that university leadership is aware of the continuing investigation by local law enforcement. We will refrain from further comment until the findings of the investigation are complete.”