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CFT Previews: Your Dec. 27 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 27 bowl menu, which features just the second ranked team to play in the postseason as well as two ACC teams along with one each from the Big 12 and SEC.

WHO: Army (7-5) vs. North Texas (5-7)
WHAT: The 6th Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl
WHERE: Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas
WHEN: Noon ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: This is one of those unique bowl games in which there’s very tangible recent history on which to look back on — North Texas easily handled Army 35-18 in Denton in Week 7 of the 2016 season, thanks in very large part to a whopping seven Black Knight turnovers.  Since that win, UNT has stumbled while Army hasn’t, with the former going 1-4 down the stretch and the latter 3-2.  Army is easily one of my favorite stories of the 2016 college football season, though, with the service academy winning at least seven games — two of those came against FCS teams, it should be noted — for the first time since 2010 and just the third time in nearly three decades; an eighth win would be the program’s most since going 10-2 during the 1996 season.  They capped off this bounceback regular season in the best way possible, too, beating Navy and snapping a 14-game losing streak in the rivalry game in the process.  While it came in a sub-.500 season, the Mean Green will be playing in a bowl game to cap 38-year-old Seth Littrell‘s first season as a head coach, with UNT going bowling for the first time since 2013.  This is likely the most relevant stat for this game: Army is second nationally in rushing yards per game at 327.8, while UNT is 105th (out of 128 teams) in the country in stopping the run at 219.2 ypg.  Army ran for 303 yards in the loss to UNT earlier in the season, but the Mean Green scored 21 points off Black Knights turnovers to secure the 35-18 win.  Here’s to guessing that more than a half-dozen turnovers aren’t on Army’s bowl agenda and they get that eighth win.  Plus, #Merica, which goes without saying
THE LINE: North Texas, +10
THE PREDICTION: Army 27, North Texas 17

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WHO: Wake Forest (6-6) vs. No. 24 Temple (10-3)
WHAT: The 9th Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland
THE LINE: Wake Forest, +11½
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Minnesota (8-4) vs. Washington State (8-4)
WHAT: The 39th National Funding Holiday Bowl
WHEN: 7:00 PM ET on ESPN
WHERE: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
THE LINE: Minnesota, +10
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Baylor (6-6) vs. Boise State (10-2)
WHAT: The 28th Motel 6 Cactus Bowl
WHEN: 10:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona
THE LINE: Baylor, +7½
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

Ex-South Carolina QB signs Cal financial aid agreement

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It’s now officially official.

Just a day after Brandon McIlwain indicated on social media that he would be transferring to Cal, the Golden Bears acknowledged in a release that the quarterback “has signed a financial aid agreement and will join the school’s football program.”  Additionally, the football team confirmed that the two-sport student-athlete is expected to play baseball for the university as well.

In late February, McIlwain announced that he would be transferring from South Carolina.  The true sophomore will not play for the football Bears in the upcoming season, but will have three years of eligibility at his disposal after that.

“We’re excited that Brandon has decided to enroll at Cal and become a member of both our football and baseball programs,” a statement from head coach Justin Wilcox began. “We’re looking forward to his contributions and having him join the competition in our quarterback room.”

“I am excited to develop under the incredible coaching staff at Cal,” McIlwain said in his statement. “The Golden Bears have a great quarterback history. In addition, I am equally excited about returning to the Bay Area and taking advantage of the university’s amazing education.”

As a true freshman last season, McIlwain started three of the 12 games in which he played.  In that time, he completed 62-of-118 passes for 600 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception, while he added 127 yards and another two scores on the ground.

The emergence of fellow freshman Jake Bentley midway through the season, however, left McIlwain with no clear football path to a starting job.

Title IX probe into sexual assault allegations involving three Michigan State football players completed

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The Title IX investigation into an alleged sexual assault involving playing members of the Michigan State football team has ended, the Associated Press and other media outlets are reporting.

In early February, three unidentified football players as well as a football staffer were suspended amidst allegations that a sexual assault took place on January 16 at an on-campus apartment complex.  As a result of the allegations, a Title IX investigation into the alleged incident commenced in early February and lasted a little over three months.

That investigation was headed by Rebecca Veidlinger, an independent Title IX consultant and Ann Arbor attorney who previously worked in MSU’s Title IX office.  Because of federal privacy laws, the university will not release the findings of Veidlinger’s probe.

As for the next step in the process? Mlive.com explains.

Speaking generally about Title IX investigations, [university spokesperson Jason] Cody said there are two possible outcomes at the conclusion of an investigation. If no university policy violation is found, then the matter would be closed. If a policy violation was found, the case would then be sent to the school’s student conduct system.

The student conduct system could then levy any sanction ranging from a warning or probation to suspension or expulsion.

The alleged sexual assault has spawned three separate investigations, including the recently-completed Title IX probe.  A criminal investigation conducted by campus police led to requests for four arrest warrants to be issued, although the Ingham County Prosecutor’s office has thus far declined to act.  Additionally, the university has hired an outside law firm to conduct an independent investigation into the football program and its handling of the allegations.

Thus far, the names of the players allegedly involved in the assault have not been released.  The suspended staffer was subsequently identified as Curtis Blackwell, whose title with the football program is director of college advancement and performance.  Blackwell, who is not accused of participating in the alleged sexual assault but rather a non-sexual crime after the fact, has received a pair of one-month contract extensions since his suspension was levied.

Ball State transfer WR Damon Hazelton officially added to Virginia Tech roster

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Virginia Tech officially bolstered its receiving corps Monday, although they won’t see an offensive dividend this season.

A little over a month ago, Ball State’s Damon Hazelton took to Twitter to reveal that he would be transferring to Tech. In a press release, the Hokies announced that the wide receiver began summer classes yesterday and will continue his collegiate playing career with the football team.

That continuation won’t happen on the field in 2017, though, as NCAA transfer rules will force Hazelton to sit out this season. He will then have three years to use three seasons of eligibility beginning in 2018.

The 6-2, 207-pound receiver will, however, be permitted to practice with the team while he sits out his transfer year.

Hazelton was a two-star member of Ball State’s 2016 recruiting class. As a true freshman last season, Hazelton was second on the Cardinals with 51 receptions for 505 yards, while his four receiving touchdowns were tops on the team.

Starting Marshall corner charged with drunk driving

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The “Days Without An Arrest” ticker had just gotten to halfway to double digits… and then Rodney Allen came along.

According to WSAZ-TV in Huntington, the Marshall cornerback was arrested on multiple charges over the weekend, including driving under the influence. Additionally, he is facing one count each of crashes involving damage to vehicle and not having a driver’s license.

From the television station’s report:

According to the criminal complaint, Allen was stopped early Sunday morning in the 1400 block of 4 1/2 alley. Allen was driving a vehicle attempting to leaving the scene of an accident that caused property damage.

According to the criminal complaint, Allen showed indications of being impaired at the scene. He then blew a .167 BAC into an intoxometer at HPD headquarters.

Allen only had an ID card out of Texas and not a driver’s license.

“We are aware of the situation and will handle it internally and appropriately,” a statement to the station from the university’s athletic department read.

Allen started 11 of 12 games for the Thundering Herd last season. His four forced fumbled tied for 10th nationally and his 14 passes defensed were tops in Conference USA, while his two interceptions tied for the team lead.