CFT Previews: Your Jan. 2 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

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Taking a quick-hit look at the Jan. 2 bowl menu, which features a pair of Big 12-Pac-12 tilts as well as a teacher-student affair.

WHO: Penn State (7-5) vs. Georgia (9-3)
WHAT: The 71st TaxSlayer Bowl
WHERE: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Florida
WHEN: noon ET, ESPN
THE LINE: Penn State, +7
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Kansas State (6-6) vs. Arkansas (7-5)
WHAT: The 57th AutoZone Liberty Bowl
WHERE: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 3:20 p.m. ET, ESPN
THE SKINNY: From the You-May-Not-Have-Known Department: Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema served as the defensive coordinator for Bill Snyder at Kansas State from 2002-03.  Snyder might wish he had Bert back in charge of that side of the ball as his Wildcats have given up 30 points in seven of 12 games this season.  Just two of K-State’s six wins came against teams that will play in bowl games this year (Louisiana Tech, West Virginia).  And then there’s this oddity: K-State won their first three games of the 2015 season… then lost their next six… then won their last three.  Arkansas, meanwhile, has been a roll heading into the postseason, winning five of their last six — and two of those wins came on the road against teams that were ranked ninth (LSU) and 18th (Ole Miss) at the time of the meetings.  That was a departure from earlier in the season when the Razorbacks lost back-to-back-to-back home games to Toledo, Texas Tech and Texas A&M.  The biggest concern for Snyder & Company will likely be the not-so-friendly skies as his Wildcats are 119th nationally (out of 127 FBS teams) in pass defense while the Razorbacks are 33rd in the country and third in the SEC in passing yards per game at 264.3.  A win for Arkansas would give the Hogs three consecutive bowl victories for the first time in the program’s history — and the eight wins would be the most since Bobby Petrino went 11-2 in 2011 — while a loss for K-State would mean the first losing season for the program since 2008.  A win for the latter would also serve as just the second bowl triumph in eight tries dating back to the 2003 season.
THE LINE: Kansas State, +13
THE PREDICTION: Arkansas 38, Kansas State 17

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WHO: Oregon (9-3) vs. TCU (10-2)
WHAT: The 23rd Valero Alamo Bowl
WHERE: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
WHEN: 6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN
THE LINE: Off the board because of the Trevone Boykin situation
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: West Virginia (7-5) vs. Arizona State (6-6)
WHAT: The 27th Motel 6 Cactus Bowl
WHERE: Chase Field, Glendale, Arizona
WHEN: 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
THE SKINNY: However you choose to parse it, Arizona State is among the 3-5 most disappointing teams of the 2015 season.  Entering the campaign as not only one of the favorites in the Pac-12 but also a darkhorse playoff contender, ASU proceeded to immediately crash back to earth in the opener with a 21-point loss to an average Texas A&M squad.  A 28-point loss to USC at home three weeks signaled an end to any and all CFP talk, while a three-game losing streak from mid-October through early November officially ended any type of conference title chatter.  After a 3-4 start to the season — four straight losses to teams currently ranked in the CFP Top 20 included — had the whispers growing louder that Dana Holgorsen‘s time in Morgantown was fast coming to an end, West Virginia righted the ship with a four-game winning streak before an inexplicable loss to Kansas State in the regular season finale took some of the oomph out of that late-season momentum.  One of the best matchups in this contest will be WVU running back Wendell Smallwood (1,447 yards this season) vs. an ASU defense that is 21st in the country in stopping the run at 124.4 yards per game.  The Mountaineers, with a win, would secure its winningest season since a 10-3 mark in Holgorsen’s first year in 2011, while the Sun Devils are looking to avoid their first non-winning season since that same season, the last prior to Todd Graham‘s arrival.
THE LINE: Arizona State, +1
THE PREDICTION: Arizona State 30, West Virginia 24

Washington State’s leading receiver suspended for Colorado game after reportedly getting a tad angry

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While everybody on the Palouse is worried about Mike Leach following athletic director Bill Moos to Nebraska this week, a more pressing concern for Washington State is getting back on track and beating Colorado on Saturday night.

That might be just a tad bit tougher now because the school has suspended leading receiver Tavares Martin Jr.’s for one game following his actions subsequent to the team’s loss at Cal last Friday. The reason he won’t suit up when the Buffs roll into Pullman? It seems he got a tad angry, throwing a bit of a temper tantrum and skipping a practice.

“He was a little angry, saying things hadn’t gone his way the last couple of games. He broke a team rule and needs to be punished for that,” the receiver’s father, Tavares Martin Sr., told The Seattle Times. “He just made a mistake, and he had to pay a price for it. It was a miscommunication between him and the coaches. He was upset. He said he felt like he should have been more involved in that game.”

Martin Jr. leads the team in receiving yards (502) and touchdowns (seven) after starting all seven games this season. Despite that, he had just three catches in the Cougars’ 37-3 loss in Berkeley that caused them to tumble out of the top 10.

The Florida native reportedly apologized for his actions and was placed on the scout team in practices prior to playing Colorado. It seems the stiff lesson is being learned quickly though as he is expected to be back for Wazzu’s game at Arizona next Saturday — likely with a much different attitude.

Notre Dame LB Greer Martini out for USC game after knee procedure

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The greatest intersectional rivalry in college football between USC and Notre Dame is turning into a potential battle of walking wounded on defense. The latest name on the injury list? Irish linebacker Greer Martini.

The starter and team leader has been dealing with a knee injury he suffered in practice and while there was some thought he could be back for Saturday’s massive showdown with the team’s rivals from Los Angeles, that appears not to be the case. Indianapolis Star beat writer Laken Litman reported on Thursday afternoon that Brian Kelly confirmed after practice Martini would miss the game and that he had a surgical procedure to clean up an unspecified meniscus injury on his knee.

Martini is a captain on the team and the third leading tackler on the defense. In his absence, junior Te’von Coney likely slides into the starting lineup at linebacker. The good news might be that Martini could be back for an equally important game against N.C. State that could loom large in any College Football Playoff discussion next month.

The Trojans are dealing with the loss of defensive tackle Josh Fatu and linebacker Porter Gustin for this week’s trip to South Bend as well so both sides have a number of injuries that could hamper their ability to stop the run on Saturday. Given that the game will feature two of the best tailbacks in the country in Ronald Jones and Josh Adams, things could turn into a track meet come kickoff time on NBC.

Michigan State RB LJ Scott reportedly arrested (for a seventh time!) over driving without valid license

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It seems the tumultuous offseason that Mark Dantonio has experienced dating back to last year is not ending with the 2017 campaign being well underway for his Spartans. That’s because the Michigan State head coach is dealing with yet another headache, this time caused by star running back LJ ScottThe Lansing State Journal reports that Scott was arrested on Wednesday for driving on a suspended license.

Now you might say, oh that’s not that big of a deal all things considered. Generally you’d be correct depending on the circumstances. Yet in this case it kind of is a big deal because this is the seventh time — yes, seven times — Scott has been arrested for the same general offense. So yeah.

Per the LSJ:

‘Scott, 21, was arrested and later released on a personal recognizance bond, East Lansing Police spokesman Lt. Chad Connelly said Thursday. He declined to comment further because Scott has not yet been arraigned.

The charge carries up to a year in jail if Scott is convicted because he has at least one prior conviction on the same charge, which is typically a 93-day misdemeanor.’

What might be worse is that the junior has been cited for the same issue across two different states, including Michigan and his native Ohio. The first instance happened back in February 2016 according to the paper, but charges were dropped after a citation was issued and a fine paid. Scott got caught later in March 2016 when he was speeding, another time in April 2016 after being involved in a car crash, and yet again in July 2016 by campus police.

But wait, there’s more.

Scott was pulled over and charged again this past March and another time as recently as July. The LSJ does not have information as to why his license was suspended in the first place but we can offer a few guesses.

What might be even more infuriating for Dantonio and the coaching staff is that Scott just posted a career high against Minnesota (194 yards) and seemed to finally emerge as the primary ball carrier over senior Gerald Holmes and fellow junior Madre London.

The school had not released a statement regarding the matter but it’s probably safe to assume that the Spartans will be without Scott on Saturday when they play Indiana.

BYU, East Carolina add two games to football series in 2022 and 2024

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If you wanted to see BYU and East Carolina play some more football, congrats because this is your lucky day.

Prior to the Cougars’ trip to Greenville this week, the two schools announced on Thursday that they will be adding another two game set to their ongoing series. As these schedule announcements usually do, the dates are well into the future — with a game in Provo for Oct. 15, 2022 between the two teams and a return date for Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium back east on Oct. 19, 2024.

“We have enjoyed the opportunity to play teams from the American Athletic Conference, including the current series with East Carolina,” BYU athletics director Tom Holmoe said in a release. “ECU is a great matchup and it was an easy decision to schedule another series with them. It provides our team with a unique travel opportunity, and it gives Cougar fans who live in the southeast another opportunity to see us play.”

The two sides are wrapping up the first two game series on Saturday as BYU travels to East Carolina in a game where the teams combined record is a whopping 2-12. The Cougars won 45-38 last year in Utah during the first meeting.

The upcoming series gives ECU three non-conference opponents for both 2022 and 2024 as a result, and becomes the first team scheduled by BYU for the 2024 slate.