Getty Images

CFT Previews: Motel 6 Cactus Bowl

Leave a comment

WHO: Baylor (6-6) vs. Boise State (10-2)
WHAT: The 28th Motel 6 Cactus Bowl (but second under this name)
WHEN: 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
WHERE: Chase Field, Phoenix
THE SKINNY: In any other year, a Baylor-Boise State dual in the desert would’ve made for a pretty sweet Fiesta Bowl. This is not, alas, any other year.

Baylor started this season 6-0 and thudded to a 6-6 finish, looking like the most disinterested team in the country for much of that stretch. After losing on a last second field goal at Texas, the Bears were blown out week after week — 62-22 to TCU, 45-24 to Oklahoma, 42-21 to Kansas State and 54-35 to Texas Tech — before bouncing back with a 24-21 loss at West Virginia to close the regular season. The hire of Matt Rhule and his staff have been the only good news for Baylor fans to rally around since mid-October.

True freshman Zach Smith finished the season for Baylor at quarterback and played well considering the circumstances, hitting 59 percent of his throws for 897 yards and eight touchdowns with six interceptions.

For Boise State, while it would be sheer lunacy to write off a 10-2 regular season as a poor showing, it’s hard to argue that 2016 lived up to the standards the program judges itself by, either. The Broncos tied for the Mountain Division championship but did not compete in the Mountain West title game after being picked to do so for the second year in a row.

Boise State lost its regular season finale, 27-20 at Air Force, but scored 42 points or more in each of their three games before that. Sophomore Brett Rypien has been a true bright spot for the Broncos, ranking 19th nationally in passing efficiency with a 62 percent completion rate for 9.7 yards per attempt with 23 touchdowns against only six interceptions.

THE LINE: Baylor, +7½
THE PICK: 
Boise State 42, Baylor 24

Illinois boots three players charged with home invasion and robbery

Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has dismissed three players charged with home invasion and robbery. Offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and tight end Zarrian Holcombe have all been dismissed from the program, according to a statement.

Lee and Holcombe were previously suspended by Smith for violations of team rules. Watkins had also been indefinitely suspended following the initial allegations. All three players claimed the incident that led to the charges was nothing more than an innocent prank, but the authorities and Smith didn’t seem willing to buy that claim.

Each player faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4-15 years on each count against them if found guilty.

Report: Conference USA to air at least 15 football games on Twitter in 2017

2 Comments

Conference USA is in a position where it needs to think outside the box and look to stay ahead of the curve in a changing TV landscape. It appears to be ready to air games on Twitter in 2017.

A report from The Virginian-Pilot says broadcast company STADIUM will air at least 15 football games involving Conference USA teams this fall. STADIUM is the result of a recent merger between the American Sports Network, 120 Sports and Silver Chalice (which also owns Campus Insiders and the online ACC Digital Network). The ASN had owned the broadcast rights to Conference USA games through the end of the 2017-2018 sports season that will carry over to the STADIUM deal (allowing for Conference USA basketball games to be aired on Twitter as well). It was announced earlier this month STADIUM intended to broadcast Conference USA games on Twitter, but it was unknown how many games might make it to the networking service. STADIUM reportedly has an interest in continuing to air Conference USA contests beyond the next athletic season.

Conference USA still has broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS Sports in effect as well, so don’t expect the premiere matchups in the conference to be aired on Twitter. However, by sharing the games online, Conference USA is hoping to reach a wide-spread audience and have the opportunity to be a trending topic. It could work, as Twitter would make sure the game is given a steady feed to allow for a pleasant viewing experience and fan interaction in real time.

Conference USA saw TV revenue take a big hit over the last year. Last summer, Conference USA’s television revenue reportedly dropped to just $2.8 million for the entire conference following realignment changes. Finding a home on a streaming platform now would be key for the conference’s future stability.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
1 Comment

It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.

Wisconsin’s season tickets for 100th anniversary of Camp Randall are a thing of beauty

Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images
2 Comments

The Wisconsin Badgers are gearing up for their 100th season playing home football game sin Camp Randall Stadium. As part of the season-long celebration, Wisconsin put some brilliant artistic detail into their season tickets for the 2017 season.

Each ticket to a home Wisconsin game is designed like a retro-style program. These are beautifully done and mimic the style of a program cover from decades past. I’m particularly fond of the program cover for the Purdue game, which features Wisconsin’s Bucky floating in space with a ship with the Purdue logo nearby. Is that a space train? The Band Day program for the game against Florida Atlantic also looks fantastic.

These tickets will surely be must-have collectibles for Wisconsin fans. If Wisconsin wants to make a few extra bucks, then blowing up these images and selling them as posters may be a good decision as well. And I wouldn’t put it past Wisconsin to suit up in a retro-style uniform for at least home game this season in Madison.