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

Starting LSU safety Grant Delpit tweets he’s set for surgery

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LSU didn’t come out of its spring game this past Saturday completely unscathed.

On his personal Twitters account Sunday, Grant Delpit tweets that he’ll undergo surgery Monday morning. While the defensive back didn’t specify the nature of the medical procedure, both Ross Dellenger of the Baton Rouge Advocate and Andrew Lopez of the New Orleans Times-Picayune are reporting that Delpit sustained a broken collarbone.

In his tweet, Delpit wrote that he’ll “be back soon ready to work!”; Dellenger’s and Lopez’s reports put the timeline at 6-8 weeks for a return, which means the rising true sophomore would be healed well before the start of summer camp in early August.

A four-star 2017 signee, Delpit was the starting safety for 10 of the 13 games in which he played as a true freshman last season. The Houston native finished fourth on the Tigers with 60 tackles and was fourth as well in passes defensed with nine. He was also one of six Tigers players with one interception on the year, second to Andraez Williams‘ team-leading six.

Ex-Michigan LB who directed threatening tweets at Jim Harbaugh says he’s ‘being harassed by police… being told I’m mentally ill’

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And the disturbing trainwreck continues.

Elysee Mbem-Bosse sent out a string of alarming and threatening tweets last Monday night that seemed to be directed at U-M head football coach Jim Harbaugh.  Even as U-M’s athletic director expressed concern for a player who left the football program in mid-November, the University of Michigan Police Department had already confirmed that they had launched an investigation into the social-media threats; the man the tweets were directed at subsequently called them “a serious matter.”

In a tweet posted Sunday morning, Mbem-Bosse “apologize[d] fully” for his social-media missteps, writing that “I take full responsibility for the tweets i (sic) made regarding the safety of Coach Harbaugh.” The former linebacker, though, went on to accuse the university’s police department of harassing him and telling him he’s “mentally ill without proper evaluation.”

The latter accusation came a day after the football player posted a photo of a form in which it shows that a psychiatrist personally examined Mbem-Bosse at the University of Michigan Health System for 35 minutes on Friday, April 19, of this year. That psychiatrist determined that Mbem-Bosse is mentally ill, meaning he “has a substantial disorder of thoughts or mood that significantly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality, or ability to cope with the ordinary demands of life.”

Mbem-Bosse tweeted the photo of the form to Harbaugh’s Twitter account, describing the determination made by the university’s doctor as “Mafia work.” “[U]nbelievable the extent men will go [to] just to cover up their mistakes and flaws,” Mbem-Bosse wrote, presumably alluding to Harbaugh, whose grandfather was born in Sicily and moved to Italy as a young child, dismissing the player back in November amidst what Mbem-Bosse has described as a family crisis.

Other than confirming that an investigation had been initiated, there has been no update from the university’s police department on the probe’s status.

Baylor lands commitment from player born without femurs

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Plenty of programs landed commitments on Saturday, but none like the one Baylor got from a Plano West (Texas) athlete.

Ricardo Benitez agreed to continue his football career at Baylor, which is remarkable since he never should have had a career in the first place. Benitez was born with a condition called Femur Hypoplasia Bilateral, which means he does not have femurs in his legs.

“Doctors told my parents I had a condition called Femur Hypoplasia Bilateral and it might be best to stop the pregnancy,” Benitez told MaxPreps last year. “They said I had a hole in my heart, would be in a wheelchair the rest of my life and never play sports. But my parents saw me as a gift from God and went on with the pregnancy. I crawled until I was two and didn’t start running until I was five.”

Benitez stands 4-foot-2, dresses out with his Wolves team every week and runs routs just like everyone else. Here he is at an SMU camp last year.

Benitez also camped with Baylor last summer and committed to the Bears on Saturday. “I played four years of high school football, and cherished every second of it. When the season ended I knew I was not done being a football player,” Benitez wrote in a Twitter post. “I did not know where, but God did. I received a call from Coach Brown at Baylor University. After a long process, and with tears in my eyes, I can finally announce I will be given the chance to go to college, and play football at Baylor University.”

(Helmet Sticker: Dr. Saturday)

Sam Ehlinger, Shane Buechele exit spring ball still vying for Texas QB job

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For 16 months now, Tom Herman has waited for one of his quarterbacks to take the bull by the horns. And for 16 months, the bull still hops freely around the ring.

Junior Shane Buechele and sophomore Sam Ehlinger quarterback opposite teams in Saturday night’s Orange-White game, and exited the spring the same way they began it: to be the guy who quarterbacks the Orange and White on Sept. 1 at Maryland. Ehlinger was 13-of-22 for 151 yards while Buechele hit 12-of-21 throws for 130 yards and a score; Ehlinger’s White team won the game, 23-13.

On the balance, Herman indicated that whoever ultimately wins the job will be the guy who can make plays without turning the ball over.

“At quarterback, when you hold the ball in this game, you have the hopes and dreams, goals, aspirations, everything of your teammates, of your loved ones in your hands,” Herman said. “When you think about it that way, you tend to be a lot more is cautious with it. Now that being said, from day one of spring ball, I told the QBs, experiment, rip it in there, man. Try to fit it in tight windows,
because I want you to have that confidence when you do. They’re never going to get yelled at for an interception in the spring that is, ‘Coach, I was trying to fit it in and I just missed on a couple inches’ or whatever. Now, if he does something really dumb, if he tries to throw an out route into a cloud corner or something like that and that gets picked, yeah, he’s going to hear about it. But I think building
confidence in your abilities and in the spring is important.”

Ehlinger would be the clear-cut quarterback if not for a handful of late-game mistakes in his true freshman season. He fumbled the ball away in double overtime of the USC loss, threw an end zone interception to clinch an overtime loss to Oklahoma State and tossed an across-his-body interception to allow Texas Tech to come from behind and beat Texas in November.

Whoever does win the job will wind up approaching the job the same way: throw the ball to Collin Johnson and Lil'Jordan Humphrey as often as possible. Johnson caught six passes for 91 yards and a touchdown, while Humphrey hauled in a game-high seven balls for 100 yards and rushed four times for 14 yards and two touchdowns.