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CFT Previews: Your Dec. 24 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 24 bowl menu, which, after a one-day reprieve, is back to just a lone game on Christmas Eve.  And this lone game will feature one of the three teams (Hawaii, say hello to 5-7 Mississippi State, North Texas) that failed to have at least a .500 record in the regular season but will still be bowling and will further the very valid argument that there are way, way, way too may bowl games.  Still.

WHO: Hawaii (6-7) vs. Middle Tennessee State (8-4)
WHAT: The 15th Hawaii Bowl
WHERE: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii
WHEN: 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: There are 128 teams at the FBS level.  Middle Tennessee State was 101st in scoring defense (34.4 points per game) in 2016 while Hawaii was 115th (37.5 ppg).  Seven times in 12 games this season, the Rainbow Warriors gave up 40 or more points; the Blue Raiders did as much in six of their games.  The status of MTSU’s starting quarterback, Brent Stockstill, is somewhat up in the air because of a broken collarbone suffered in early November, and is leading to some books keeping this game off the board as the sophomore, and son of the head football coach, has yet to be officially ruled out of the game. UH will be appearing in its first bowl game since 2010 — the 2010 Hawaii Bowl — and is looking for its first bowl win since 2006 — the 2006 Hawaii Bowl.  MTSU, meanwhile, will be looking to snap a three-game bowl losing streak and trying to win its first postseason game since 2009.  If you’re into draft evaluations and are searching for NFL sleepers, you might want to tune in just to watch running back I’Tavius Mathers. The 5-11, 197-pound senior has rushed for 1,504 yards and 16 touchdowns this season for the Blue Raiders, and has averaged 6.8 yards per carry. The Ole Miss transfer is also second on the team with 62 receptions out of the backfield — tied for second amongst FBS backs — and has three touchdown catches for good measure.  One final fact that will in no way, shape or form affect the outcome of this game: Hawaii will become the first FBS team to begin its season outside of the United States (vs. Cal in Australia) and end it outside of the continental United States.  So they have that going for it, which is nice.
THE LINE: Hawaii, +6
THE PREDICTION: Middle Tennessee State 44, Hawaii 31

Texas QB Shane Buechele undergoes hip surgery, expected back for spring practice

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A postseason injury has forced Shane Buechele to undergo an offseason medical procedure.

Buechele suffered a torn abductor muscle in his hip/abdomen in the first half of Texas’ Texas Bowl win over Missouri and didn’t return in the second half.  Nearly a month later, the football program has announced that the quarterback will undergo surgery on Thursday to repair the damage.

If rehab goes as planned, Buechele is expected to be on the field when the Longhorns kick off spring practice March 5.

As a true freshman in 2016, Buechele started all 12 games for the Longhorns.  This past season was one marred by various injuries.

Buechele started the season opener for Texas, but ceded the job to Sam Ehlinger the next two games because of a bruised throwing shoulder.  Returning to the starting lineup in Week 5, Buechele suffered an ankle injury in the win over Iowa State that allowed Ehlinger to start the next three games.  In the last of those three games, Ehlinger suffered a head injury that left him in concussion protocol and opened the door for Buechele to start five of the last six games of the season.

Buechele and Ehlinger will be the two veterans battling for the starting job once spring practice kicks off in March.

NCAA tables discussions on limiting staff size

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It is going to take some more time to dive deep into the pros and cons of limiting the size of a football staff before the NCAA Division 1 Council decides what to do. In a statement released on Wednesday, the Division 1 Council has decided to table a legislative proposal focusing on setting parameters on the size of a football staff, meaning this topic should pop up again a year from now.

The proposal aims to cap the size of any football staff at 30 people and determine who may be eligible to participate in on-campus recruiting efforts. Those assigned recruiting duties, including head and assistant coaches, would then be required to pass an annual test on recruiting practices. At this time, however, there appears to be too much confusion and uncertainty about how the proposal would impact programs now. With so many questions about the proposal, it was best to put this one on the table and spend the next year examining how it could impact college football programs.

“I went to the American Football Coaches Association meeting, and there were a lot of questions about how this was going to work,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, the chair of the oversight committee, said in a release shared by the NCAA. “The coaches wanted to know who was going to be included, how they would be certified and who was exempted.”

This topic has already been floating out there since last spring, and with recent adjustments from the NCAA to allow for a 10th full-time assistant coach, it appears this will be the next step in the evolution of ruling how large a football staff can be.

Miami’s home winning streak is officially over after Orange Bowl loss

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The Miami Hurricanes opened the new year with a loss in the Orange Bowl in their home stadium, but the Hurricanes marked the bowl game down in their records as a neutral site game. Not so fast, says the NCAA. That loss to the Badgers will go down as a home loss for the Hurricanes.

Because the NCAA officially records the Orange Bowl as a home game for Miami any time the Hurricanes happen to play in the bowl game hosted in their home stadium, the wins and losses are reflected on Miami’s home record. This is true for any team playing a bowl game in their home stadium, including any time UCLA appears in the Rose Bowl or San Diego State in the Holiday Bowl or Poinsettia Bowl.

Prior to losing to Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl this past season, Miami was riding nine-game winning streak in Hard Rock Stadium dating back to November 5, 2016. Miami will get a chance to hit the reset button on their home winning streak on September 8 with a home game against Savannah State.

Report: LSU to add former RB Kevin Faulk to staff if SEC gives the green light

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Former LSU running back Kevin Faulk could be set to return to the Tigers program in a new role if the SEC will allow it. According to a report from The Advocate, Faulk is being lined up to join the LSU football support staff, but his addition must be thoroughly vetted first.

Because Faulk is a high school coach, LSU and the SEC must be certain he has no direct ties to any LSU football players on the roster. This is to ensure the staff change complies with a new NCAA rule prohibiting schools from hiring high school coaches for a two-year period when any player from that associated high school enrolls at the university. As long as there are no players on LSU’s roster with any ties to Faulk’s high school coaching within the past two years, the staff change should become official.

Having Faulk associated with the program would be good to see considering how much Faulk meant to LSU during his college career. Faulk rushed for a school-record 4,557 yards and 46 rushing touchdowns. Both are records that stand today despite some extremely talented running backs over the years. Since Faulk’s final season at LSU in 1998, Leonard Fournette has come the closest to Faulk’s career rushing total with 3,830 yards in three years. Fournette is also the closest to Faulk since Faulk played to the school record for career rushing touchdowns, with 40.

Supposing the staff addition does go through, Faulk will not be involved with any off-campus recruiting efforts or on-field coaching assignments, but he will assist with player development.