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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 officially adds Syracuse grad transfer Kendall Moore

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In early April, erstwhile Syracuse tight end Kendall Moore announced on social media that he had himself a new college football home.  Nearly four months later, that move has come to fruition.

Texas confirmed Friday that Moore has graduated from SU and officially joined the UT football team.  The Longhorns open summer camp Monday, and Moore will be on hand working out with his new teammates.

As he’s coming in as a graduate transfer — he announced his departure from the Orange in December — he’ll be eligible to play in 2017, his final season of eligibility.

Moore started a total of four games in 2014 and 2015, including two of the first three in the latter season before sustaining the season-ending injury that led to a medical hardship waiver that will allow him to play this season. The 6-5, 245-pound senior finished his ‘Cuse career with 14 catches for 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  He caught one of the passes for 15 of the yards in 2016.

In Austin, Moore could very well open the season as the starter.  The incumbent Andrew Beck has undergone a pair of foot surgeries while two others on the roster at the position, Reese Leitao and Cade Brewer, haven’t played a down at the collegiate level.  The former definitely won’t be the starter to start the season as he was suspended for the first two games because of an offseason arrest.

One other option at tight end,Garrett Gray, is making the transition from wide receiver.

Anthony Julmisse, projected starting CB, suspended by Colorado after domestic violence arrest

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Colorado’s rough offseason off the field will continue right up to the eve of summer camp kicking off.

The Boulder Daily Camera is reporting that Buffaloes cornerback Anthony Julmisse was arrested on multiple charges Thursday related to a domestic incident.  Specifically, the sophomore defensive back is facing one count each of third-degree assault and domestic violence and two counts of physical harassment.

No specific details of what led to the arrest and charges have been made available at this time.

As a result of the situation, however, Julmisse was indefinitely suspended by Mike MacIntyre.

“We will determine any further disciplinary action after receiving more information,” the head coach said in a statement. “I am very troubled by these allegations, as they do not represent the values of our university and our football program. I have reported the allegations to the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance so that it may conduct any appropriate inquiries.”

Julmisse played in all 14 games last season.  Exiting spring practice, he was one of the Buffaloes’ starters at cornerback.

In June, MacIntyre was publicly reprimanded by the university for his handling of allegations made by the longtime girlfriend of one of his assistants, Joe Tumpkin, of a long history of domestic abuse.  Additionally, MacIntyre was ordered to make a $100,000 donation to domestic violence causes.

Less than a week later, the university’s regents approved a four-year, $16.25 million extension for the coach.

Darren Carrington cleared, will open camp with new Utah teammates

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That certainly didn’t take long.

Not long after Darren Carrington‘s father confirmed that his son would be transferring to Utah, Kyle Whittingham confirmed Thursday that would indeed be the case, although the talented wide receiver still had some unspecified hurdles to clear in order to play or even practice with the team.  One day later, however, a school spokesperson confirmed to the Salt Lake Tribune that Carrington has been cleared and has now been admitted to the university.

Carrington opens summer camp Friday night, and will be on the field practicing with his new Utes teammates.

“It’s always a tough decision when you talk about a player that you’re going to add to your program potentially that has a checkered past,” Whittingham said Thursday. “You’ve got to make a decision based on all the information you can gather, based on the athletes’ attitude. …

“I feel, in this case, that it was the right thing to do to give Darren another opportunity.”

Earlier this month, Oregon announced that it had dismissed Carrington, a move that came a couple of weeks after the senior was arrested on charges of driving under the influence of intoxicants.  That was merely Carrington’s latest off-field misstep as the receiver was ruled ineligible for Oregon’s College Football Playoff Championship loss to Ohio State a couple of years ago; was cited for open container in October 2015; and was accused of breaking a man’s arm in a Halloween incident last year.

On the field last season he was an explosive weapon as his 606 yards receiving last year were tops on the team, while his five receiving touchdowns were tied for first. His 43 catches were second on the team as well.

Michael Oher: Hugh Freeze is ‘man of God, man full of integrity’

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Hugh Freeze may have been blindsided by his unceremonious exit from Ole Miss, but at least one of his former players has his back.

Homeless for stretches of his teenage life, Michael Oher was taken in by the Freeze family — a 2014 Bleacher Report article notes that “Oher spent one to two nights a week at their house” — while Freeze was the head coach at Briarcrest Christian High School in Memphis.  Oher went on to play football for Freeze in high school, with his compelling life story forming the basis for the Academy Award-winning film “The Blind Side.”

The player and the coach have formed a deep bond that stretches back more than a decade, a bond that hasn’t been broken despite the latter’s resignation as Ole Miss head coach under a cloud of controversy.

“He is a man of God and a man full of integrity,’’ Oher told USA Today Sports of his former coach. “I don’t know the full story but I’m willing to bet that everyone in the world had made a mistake that they have wanted someone to forgive them for.”

The offensive lineman added that without Freeze, “there is no Michael Oher and no “The Blind Side.'”

The news dropped last Thursday night that Freeze’s tenure as the head coach at Ole Miss had come to an end because of at least one call from his university-issued cell phone to a known escort service.  While Freeze blamed the call on a misdial, the administration found a “pattern of misconduct” during a deep dive into his phone records, leading the school to confront the coach about the situation.

After meetings with Freeze Wednesday night and then again Thursday morning, it became apparent that, if he didn’t resign, the school was going to fire him.  Because of a moral turpitude clause in his contract, there was neither a buyout nor a settlement.

“God is good, even in difficult times,’’ Freeze said earlier this week in his first public comments since his departure. “Wonderful wife and family, and that’s my priority.”

“I got some good friends,” he added.

On the same day Freeze resigned, coincidentally, Oher was cut by the Carolina Panthers.  Earlier this offseason, Oher was arrested after an altercation with an Uber driver in which the player allegedly bit the driver on the back.