WHO: 10-3 Arizona State (Pac-12) vs. 7-5 Texas Tech (Big 12)
WHAT: National University Holiday Bowl (36th year)
WHERE: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, Calif.
WHEN: Dec. 30 at 10:15 p.m. ET
WHY: No. 14 Arizona State looks for its first 11-win season since 1996, while Texas Tech hopes to snap a five-game losing streak in this matchup of Pac-12 vs. Big 12.
The Holiday Bowl has a tradition of explosive offensive performances and this one should be no different. The Sun Devils average 41 points and 460 yards per game while the Red Raiders average 36 points and 513 yards per game.
Both attacks are quarterback driven. Taylor Kelly threw for 3,510 yards and 28 touchdowns for ASU while the combination of Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb threw for 4,630 yards and 28 touchdowns for Tech, the nation’s second-leading passing offense. Mayfield transferred out of the program, so Webb and sophomore Michael Brewer will get the snaps for the Red Raiders.
ASU can also run the ball and should get the versatile Marion Grice back for the bowl. He missed the final two games of the season with an injury, but he still rushed for 996 yards and scored 20 touchdowns. Tech’s defense struggled against the run this year, allowing an average of 194.5 yards per game.
The Red Raiders started the season 7-0 and were ranked as high as 10th, so coming out on top against the Sun Devils would salvage Kliff Kingsbury’s first season in Lubbock. ASU had a chance at the Rose Bowl and will have to avoid a letdown, but getting that 11th win should provide plenty of motivation.
PREDICTION: Arizona State 48, Texas Tech 31
Four months ago, Kurt Benkert was one the losing end of a quarterback competition at East Carolina. Fastforward to today, and he’s now the trigger man in a Power Five offense.
First-year Hoos head coach Bronco Mendenhall announced Wednesday that Benkert will start the season opener against Richmond. Benkert had been involved in a competition that included returning starter Matt Johns and Texas/Arizona transfer Connor Brewer.
Benkert came to the Cavaliers as a graduate transfer, but is not a one-year stop-gap as he has two years of eligibility remaining.
Named the Pirates’ starter in early August of 2015, Benkert sustained a right knee injury a couple of weeks later that knocked him out for the entire season. Blake Kemp took over and kept a stranglehold on the starting job through spring practice this year, triggering Benkert’s decision to move on.
Benkert has attempted 10 passes in his collegiate career, all in 2014.
In starting all 12 games for the Cavaliers last season, Johns’ 2,810 passing yards were third in school history while his 20 touchdowns were tied for fourth. His 17 interceptions, though, were the most of any FBS quarterback in 2015.
Earlier this month, Mark Dantonio stated that Michigan State was giving Cassius Peat “an opportunity to work on his academics and get himself in order” as his status with the program was “in flux.”
A week or so later? He gone.
MSU confirmed Wednesday that Peat has been granted a release from his scholarship and will transfer from the Spartans. And, in fact, the defensive lineman may have already found a new home, one at the junior college level.
Peat, initially a UCLA commit, was a three-star 2015 recruit who was rated as the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Arizona. He took a redshirt as a true freshman, and had been listed as the No. tackle heading into summer camp.
However, according to mlive.com, Peat did not report for camp amidst his academic issues.
A week after transferring from Oregon State, Cyril Noland-Lewis has found a new home that happens to also double as his hometown.
The Ruston News Star, among others, has reported that Noland-Lewis is transferring into the Louisiana Tech football program. As he is coming to Tech as a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play for the Bulldogs in 2016, his final season of eligibility.
The defensive back, who went to high school in Ruston, was at the Bulldogs’ practice Tuesday as Tech continues preparations for the season opener Sept. 3 against Arkansas.
Noland-Lewis started 10 games for the Beavers last season. Six of those starts came as a safety, the others as the nickel corner. OSU moved Noland-Lewis to cornerback this offseason, where he ultimately found himself buried on the depth chart in summer camp.
The 6-0, 198-pound fifth-year senior, who began his OSU career as a linebacker, played in a total of 37 games during his time in Corvallis.
It’s not been a good day for a couple of starting quarterbacks at Group of Five programs.
The Las Cruces Sun-News has reported that New Mexico State’s Tyler Rogers turned himself in last Friday on a warrant that had been issued for him Aug. 14. The junior was booked on one count of misdemeanor charge of battery against a household member.
The alleged victim is Rogers’ girlfriend. A verbal altercation at a party allegedly turned physical in a vehicle later on. When police arrived, the woman, who was initially crying, “downplayed the incident and said that it wasn’t really anything and that the altercation did not get physical and didn’t consider Mr. Rogers grabbing her arm as being a physical altercation.”
The woman decided against completing a domestic violence supplement report, and, according to the Sun-News, it’s unclear if the woman is cooperating with police.
“I was very disappointed in hearing the news but we are in the information gathering stage,” NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia said in a statement. “These are allegations that we take very seriously and we look forward to getting as much detail as possible so the university can be informed and the athletic department can make an informed decision moving forward.”
Because “it is a misdemeanor, there isn’t a suspension coming forth right now,” head coach Doug Martin said.
Rogers has started 15 games the past two seasons for the Aggies.