WHO: 8-4 Texas A&M (SEC) vs. 10-3 Duke (ACC)
WHAT: Chick-fil-A Bowl (46th year)
WHERE: Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia
WHEN: Dec. 31 at 8 p.m. ET
WHY: A game that marks the first-ever meeting between the two football programs is rife with myriad storylines throughout.
On the one hand, you have the Blue Devils, who are looking to put a bow on top of a rather remarkable season. Duke has won 10 games in a season for the first time in the school’s history, winning its first-ever ACC division title in the process. Another first? The Blue Devils are playing in a bowl game in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the school began playing football in 1922. During the six seasons under David Cutcliffe, the Blue Devils have won 31 games; in the 16 seasons prior to Cutcliffe’s arrival, Duke won just 35 games.
Another subplot to the actual game is Johnny Manziel. The odds are very good that Johnny Football will be playing his final game in an Aggies uniform, and the 2012 Heisman winner will, as always, be looking to go out in his own imitable style at the expense of the Blue Devils. The Chick-fil-A Bowl could also mark the final collegiate game of Manziel’s top target, wide receiver Mike Evans.
At least statistically, this game is shaping up to be a shootout. Neither team possesses a defense that finished in the Top 40 in scoring. The Blue Devils, in particular, should be able to take advantage of an Aggies defense that given up an average of 30.9 points per game, a total that’s 88th in the country and 13th in the SEC ahead of only woeful Kentucky. It remains to be seen, though, if Duke can keep pace with an Aggies offense that’s fifth in the nation with 43.6 points per game. In the ACC title game, Duke allowed 45 points to a Florida State team that came into the game averaging 53 a game.
PREDICTION: Texas A&M 48, Duke 44
If one report is accurate, this weekend’s game against Ohio State will be Randy Edsall‘s last at Maryland.
Citing multiple sources close to the situation, the 247Sports.com website InsideMDSports.com is reporting that Edsall “is unlikely to survive as Maryland’s football coach” beyond this Saturday’s game against OSU. The site writes that, “[b]arring an unexpected last-minute reversal, Maryland will part ways with Edsall when the floundering Terps enter their mid-season bye week.”
Just this past June, Edsall was on the receiving end of a three-year contract extension from the school as the Terps were coming off a 7-6 campaign in their first season in the Big Ten. This year, however, they’re gotten off to a 2-3 start, including losses the past two games to West Virginia and Michigan by a combined score of 73-6.
Edsall is in the midst of his fifth season in College Park, and the overall results have been decidedly disappointing. Under Edsall’s direction, the Terps have gone 22-33 overall and 10-23 in conference play (6-18 in ACC, 4-5 in Big Ten). Edsall is 0-11 vs. ranked teams in that span.
This is far from the first time Edsall has been rumored to be on the hot seat, but this is by far the closest he’s come to the coaching gallows.
As for the financial ramifications of a dismissal? That new deal signed earlier this year ensured that the hit the school would absorb would be, relatively speaking, mild. From the report:
Edsall’s contract was extended for three years in June — a move aimed at stabilizing his public standing, especially with high school recruits — but just $500,000 of the $7.5 million was guaranteed money; by firing Edsall before his original deal ends Jan. 15, 2017, the school will have to pay him for the remainder of this season and an additional $2.6 million: $2.1 million for next year’s salary and that half-million buyout.
What’s known is that D.J. Pumphrey will be with his teammates this weekend. What’s unknown is if he’ll join them on the field.
The star San Diego State running back sustained a high-ankle sprain in the Week 5 win over Fresno State. Originally, he was expected to be out for a period of 2-4 weeks.
However, it appears the injury isn’t as bad as originally thought as Pumphrey will travel with the team to Saturday’s game against Hawaii. Pumphrey even took nearly two dozen snaps with the scout team during Wednesday’s practice.
He is expected to be a game-time decision for the Mountain West game.
“He says he’s about 90 percent. That’s his estimation,” head coach Rocky Long said. “If he goes and does another 25 reps [with the scout team Thursday], then he will be cleared to play. So he will be with us in Hawaii. Whether he plays or not has yet to be determined. I assume he will be cleared to play tomorrow.”
However, even if he’s cleared, it’ll be up to Long and his offensive coordinator, Jeff Horton, to decide whether he plays.
Pumphrey currently leads the Aztecs with 429 yards rushing and has scored all four of SDSU’s rushing touchdowns. Last season, he finished fourth nationally with 1,867 yards, while his 20 touchdowns on the ground were ninth.