CFT Previews: Rose Bowl

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WHO: No. 5 Iowa (12-1) vs. No. 6 Stanford (11-2)

WHAT: The 102nd Rose Bowl Game

WHERE: Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena, California

WHEN: 5:00 pm ET, Jan. 1, 2016 on ESPN

THE SKINNY: Offense may be what gets college football fans interested these days, but when Stanford and Iowa meet in the Rose Bowl the name of the game will be defense. Well, and Christian McCaffrey.

McCaffrey, a Heisman finalist this season will look to continue doing a little bit of everything to give Stanford the bets chance to win. That will include, primarily, running the football but also returning punts and kickoffs to look to give the Cardinal any kind of spark when needed. He does it all among the best in the nation, which is why he earned a trip to New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation. Although he may not have brought home the hardware, Iowa knows it will have its work cut out for it in its first trip to Pasadena since a time when the Big Ten actually had 10 teams in its lineup.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz always seems to have a great season come out of nowhere every few years at Iowa, and that was certainly the case this season. Iowa actually earned more national respect in its loss in the Big Ten Championship Game to Michigan State than it did at any point during its 12-0 regular season. The Hawkeyes allowed more than 24 point sin a game just twice this season. Indiana managed to tack 27 points on Iowa and Minnesota “exploded” for 35 points, but Iwoa won each as they made their way to the Big Ten title game. C.J. Beathard has been steady with 2,570 passing yards and 15 touchdowns to four interceptions. For Iowa’s offense, Beathard appears to be a perfect fit. Having a steady running game around him helps, and fortunately for the Hawkeyes they have been able to avoid the dreaded injury gods this season. Jordan Canzeri was forced to leave the Big Ten championship game with an injury but should be good to go for the Rose Bowl.

McCaffrey stole the spotlight at Stanford this season, and for good reason, but the Cardinal still have a battle-tested quarterback in Kevin Hogan running the offense. It is unfair to forget that Hogan completed 68.3 percent of his passes for 2,644 yards and 24 touchdowns this season with just seven interceptions thrown. His last interception was thrown in the middle of November against Oregon. He has thrown six touchdown passes (and run for one more) in his last three games.

THE PREDICTION: Stanford 19, Iowa 16

Arizona State, Mississippi State ink home-and-home

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Arizona State and Mississippi State on Tuesday announced a home-and-home series to be played in 2024-25. Arizona State will host the first game in Tempe on Sept. 7, 2024, and the clubs will meet in Starkville on Sept. 6, 2025.

The Sun Devils and Bulldogs have never met previously.

The Arizona State trip is not Mississippi State’s only upcoming trek from the Deep South to the Southwest. The Bulldogs also lined up a visit to Arizona in 2020 and Texas Tech in 2029. Mississippi State will open the 2024 season against Eastern Kentucky and visit Southern Miss the week after its Arizona State visit, on Sept. 14. The Bulldogs have no other games lined up in 2025 as of yet, according to FBSchedules.

Likewise, Mississippi State is not the Sun Devils’ lone upcoming SEC opponent. Arizona State has a home-and-home with LSU on the docket for 2026-28, per FBSchedules. The Mississippi State games complete both of the Sun Devils’ non-conference schedules for these respective seasons. Arizona State opens with Wyoming and visits Texas State in 2024, and hosts Northern Arizona and Texas State in 2025.

UCLA lands Texas Tech graduate transfer OL Justin Murphy

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Help is on the way for Chip Kelly‘s offensive line. One graduate transfer offensive lineman has the Bruins on his list, but another has already pulled the trigger for UCLA.

Texas Tech graduate transfer Justin Murphy on Tuesday committed to UCLA in a post on his Twitter account.

A native of Belton, Texas, Murphy signed with Texas Tech in 2014 and made four starts at right guard as a redshirt freshman. He again started four games at right guard in ’15 before moving out to tackle, where he started another four games. But after battling a series of knee injuries, Murphy announced in the middle of the 2016 season he had medically retired from the game.

After sitting out 2017, Murphy announced in March he planned to make a comeback.

UCLA remarkably started the same offensive linemen in all 13 games last season, but tackle Kolton Miller entered the NFL draft, guard Najoee Toran and center Scott Quessenberry graduated.

Toledo posts, then deletes, tweet offering to change mascot to Shrek

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There are plenty of annoying trends on Twitter, but perhaps the worst is the “I’ll do X if this gets retweeted X-thousand amount of times.” I blame Wendy’s.

But blanket policies are never a good way to go through life, and an exception was made on Tuesday when Toledo offered to change its mascot from a rocket to Shrek with 500,000 retweets.

Sadly, some dreams are simply too beautiful to live in this fallen world, and the tweet was outed to be a hoax. “We are definitely not changing the school mascot to Shrek,” Toledo media relations specialist Christine Billau told USA Today. “The tweet was meant to be fun, but it caused too much of a distraction.”

Meanwhile, Bowling Green gleefully hopped on the dog pile with both elbows pointed out.

UMass grad transfer lineman narrows choices to Auburn, UCLA, USC

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It’s not yet known to where Jack Driscoll will transfer, but the field has been significantly narrowed.

Earlier this offseason, Driscoll decided to transfer from UMass.  Tuesday, the offensive tackle confirmed to Rivals.com that he’s down to three schools as a potential landing spot — Auburn, UCLA and USC.

Neither football program will have to wait long for a decision as Driscoll expects to make an announcement Wednesday.  Driscoll had taken an official visit to all three of the campuses prior to whittling down his transfer to-do list.

“It will come down to one of those three schools,” the lineman told AuburnSports.com. “I feel like all three of the schools would be a good fit.”

Driscoll will graduate from UMass early next month, and will be eligible to play immediately in 2018 at whichever program he selects.  The upcoming season will be the first of two years of eligibility the 6-5, 294-pound lineman has remaining.

After starting eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2016, with most of those starts coming at left guard, he started all 12 games in 2017.  All of those starts this past season came at right tackle for the football-independent Minutemen. He was named to Phil Steele’s All-Independent first team while he earned second-team All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) honors for good measure.