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CFT Previews: Your Dec. 29 Bowl Viewer’s Guide


Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 29 bowl menu, which today features a trio of teams that finished in the final regular season College Football Playoff Top 25, with two of them squaring off in the first ranked vs. ranked matchup of the 2016-17 bowl season.

WHO: South Florida (10-2) vs. South Carolina (6-6)
WHAT: The 11th Birmingham Bowl
WHEN: 2 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama
: At least when viewed in the light of its start to the season — they were 2-4 after six games — South Carolina, winners of four straight bowl games, was very respectable in the latter half of 2016 as they went 4-2 down the stretch, including a win over a Tennessee team that was ranked 18th in the country at the time.  Their opponents, though, have been on a roll for most of the season, with South Florida, looking for its first bowl win since 2010, coming into this game armed with a pair of three-game winning streaks and a four-gamer that closed out the regular season.  The 10 wins are the first time in program history they’ve hit double digits, and led to head coach Willie Taggart taking the same job at Oregon (offensive coordinator T.J. Weist will serve as interim coach as Charlie Strong goes about assembling his new USF staff).  This game will serve as a matchup of two teams with vastly different strengths, with the Bulls seventh in the country in scoring offense (43.6 ppg) and the Gamecocks 45th in scoring defense (24.8 ppg).  Conversely, USF is tied for 85th in scoring defense (31 ppg) and the SEC USC is tied for 121st in scoring offense (19.3 ppg).  It should be noted that USC’s offense has seen significant improvement since Jake Bentley took over under center, with the ‘Cocks averaging 24.5 a game after the true freshman staked his claim as the starting quarterback.  USF, though, is led by one of the most dynamic playmakers in the country most of you likely pay next to no attention to, with junior Quinton Flowers accounting for 37 touchdowns in 2016 — 22 passing, 15 rushing.  His 1,425 yards rushing are second only to Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson‘s 1,538 amongst quarterbacks.  Fun fact: USC head coach Will Muschamp is a part of this particular Alabama-based bowl game for the third consecutive year, with the first coming as the head coach at Florida in 2014 and the second as the defensive coordinator at Auburn in 2015.  Fun fact, the sequel: a team from the SEC has claimed each of the last four Birmingham Bowls.  Last year’s winner, Auburn, came into the game 6-6.  The team they were facing?  A 9-3 Memphis team that hailed from the American Athletic Conference.  This year’s game has a very similar ring record-wise and conference-wise, but I’m inclined to lean toward a decidedly different result.
THE LINE: South Carolina, +10
THE PREDICTION: South Florida 31, South Carolina 27


WHO: Arkansas (7-5) vs. No. 22 Virginia Tech (9-4)
WHAT: The 15th Belk Bowl
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
THE LINE: Arkansas, +7
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.


WHO: No. 12 Oklahoma State (9-3) vs. No. 10 Colorado (10-3)
: The 24th Valero Alamo Bowl
: 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
: Oklahoma State, +3
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

After transferring from USC last year, E.J. Price tweets he’s leaving Kentucky too

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No stranger to transfer, E.J. Price is embarking on a search for a new college home — again.  Whether football is involved, however, seemingly remains to be seen.

On his personal Twitter account Thursday morning, Price announced that he is “stepping away” from the Kentucky football program.  In the tweet, the offensive lineman stressed, in all-caps, that “I WAS NOT KICKED OFF I AM LEAVING.”

In a subsequent tweet. he stated it was “time for me to overcome football.”

Earlier this month, head coach Mark Stoops mentioned “some inconsistencies with [Price] that he needs to iron out.” In another tweet, the lineman stated the following:

Price was a four-star member of USC’s 2016 recruiting class, rated as the No. 8 offensive tackle in the country.  He transferred from USC to Kentucky in July of last year.

Because of NCAA transfer rules, Price was forced to sit out the 2017 season.

NCAA grants South Alabama TE Andrew Reinkemeyer a sixth season

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South Alabama recently received some positive news on the personnel front.

A USA spokesperson (for the university, not the country) confirmed to that Andrew Reinkemeyer has been granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA. The tight end will use that additional season of eligibility, his last, to play for the Jaguars in 2018.

The decision to grant Reinkemeyer an extra season of eligibility was seemingly a no-brainer.

As a true sophomore at a Kansas junior college, Reinkemeyer suffered an injury in the 2015 season opener and didn’t play again that year. After transferring to USA, Reinkemeyer missed the entire 2016 season because of the torn Achilles tendon that cost him most of the previous season at the JUCO.

Finally healthy last season, Reinkemeyer caught 10 passes for 75 yards for the Sun Belt Conference program. He was the leading receiver amongst Jaguars tight ends in 2017.

North Carolina formally announces hiring of ex-Tennessee RBs coach Robert Gillespie

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The latest addition to Larry Fedora‘s North Carolina coaching staff has been confirmed.

Following up on reports that surfaced earlier this month. UNC announced Wednesday that Fedora has hired Robert Gillespie. While not confirmed by the football program in the release, it’s expected Gillespie will serve as the Tar Heels running backs coach, a position he’s held for most of his coaching career.

“We are excited to welcome Robert and his family to Chapel Hill,” Fedora said in a statement. “He has a well-earned reputation as a great offensive coach and recruiter, and he has a wealth of experience working with running backs at a very high level. We are happy to have him join our staff as we get into the bulk of spring practice.”

Gillespie fills the hole created by the departure of Gunter Brewer, who left as the Tar Heels’ wide receivers coach for a job with the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this month. It’s expected that Luke Paschall, currently the running backs coach, will assume Brewer’s role with receivers.

Gillespie, a former Florida running back, spent the past five seasons as the running backs coach at Tennessee. He was originally retained by new UT head coach Jeremy Pruitt before parting ways with the football program shortly after National Signing Day.

In addition to UT, Gillespie has spent time on coaching staffs at South Carolina (2006-08), Oklahoma State (2009-10) and West Virginia (2011-12). He was the running backs coach at each of those stops.

Report: Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa’s thumb injury ‘just a sprain’

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It appears Alabama can breathe a sigh of relief on the injury front.

Tuesday, after the reigning national champions had put the finishing touches on its first practice of the spring, Nick Saban confirmed that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had suffered an unspecified injury to the thumb on his LEFT (throwing) hand.  It was expected that the quarterback would travel to Birmingham for further evaluation of the injury.

While there’s been nothing official yet from the football program or head coach,, citing unnamed sources, writes that the injury “is believed to just be a sprain and he should be able to return to practice in at least a limited capacity at some point soon.”

Until then, Jalen Hurts will take the majority of the reps as the Crimson Tide continues its march through their 15 spring practice sessions.

The rising true junior Hurts, who has started every game but one the past two seasons, and the rising true sophomore Tagovailoa, the national championship game hero who replaced Hurts at halftime of the overtime win, are engaged in a competition for the starting job that, barring a post-spring transfer, is expected to extend into summer camp.  That said, most observers outside of the UA football program fully expect Tagovailoa, because of his proficiency in the passing game relative to Hurts, to earn the job at some point before the Tide opens the defense of their title against Louisville in Orlando Sept. 1.