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16 college football games among most-watched non-NFL/Olympics events of 2016

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This headline requires that major caveat above involving the NFL and Olympics, given that those two sports accounted for 45 of the 50 most-watched sporting events of 2016. So with those ratings juggernauts removed, we have a pretty good idea of what other sports people were watching last year between baseball, basketball, college football and the like.

The two College Football Playoff semifinal games played on New Year’s Eve had better ratings than 2015’s semifinals, but the ratings were still down from 2014’s games.

Sixteen college football games ranked in the top 50 most-watched sporting events of 2016, per Sports Media Watch. Those games:

No. 3: Alabama/Clemson College Football Playoff Championship (15.0 rating, 26.18m viewers)

No. 10: Alabama/Washington Peach Bowl Playoff Semifinal (19.34m viewers, no rating available)

No. 11: Clemson/Ohio State Fiesta Bowl Playoff Semifinal (19.24m viewers, no rating available)

No. 16: Michigan/Ohio State regular season (9.4 rating, 16.84m viewers)

No. 22: Stanford/Iowa Rose Bowl (7.4 rating, 13.55m viewers)

No. 25: Florida State/Michigan Orange Bowl (11.7m viewers, no rating available)

No. 28: Alabama/Florida SEC Championship (6.6 rating, 11.09m viewers)

No. 29: Notre Dame/Texas regular season (6.4 rating, 10.95m viewers)

No. 33: Alabama/LSU regular season (5.8 rating, 10.39m viewers)

No. 38: Notre Dame/Ohio State Fiesta Bowl (5.6 rating, 9.76m viewers)

No. 41: Louisville/Clemson (5.5 rating, 9.29m viewers)

No. 42: Penn State/Wisconsin Big Ten Champi0nship (5.3 rating, 9.19m viewers)

No. 43: Ohio State/Wisconsin regular season (5.2 rating, 8.96m viewers)

No. 44: Mississippi/Oklahoma State Sugar Bowl (5.1 rating, 8.94m viewers)

No. 45: Michigan/Florida Citrus Bowl (5.1 rating, 8.76m viewers)

No. 49: Texas A&M/Alabama regular season (5.0 rating, 8.46m viewers)

Both the 2016 Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl saw the lowest TV ratings in the history of those respective games, though an uninspiring matchup (Ole Miss/Oklahoma State) and a blowout (Stanford/Iowa) probably contributed to both.

Alabama or Ohio State were involved in nine of these 16 games, and expanding that further, 13 of the 16 involved a team from the Big Ten or SEC.

Also, here’s why the NFL and Olympics have to be factored out of these rankings: Without it, only last year’s Alabama/Clemson title game ranks in the top 50 at No. 26, and that fell behind six regular season NFL games.

Arizona State, Mississippi State ink home-and-home

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Arizona State and Mississippi State on Tuesday announced a home-and-home series to be played in 2024-25. Arizona State will host the first game in Tempe on Sept. 7, 2024, and the clubs will meet in Starkville on Sept. 6, 2025.

The Sun Devils and Bulldogs have never met previously.

The Arizona State trip is not Mississippi State’s only upcoming trek from the Deep South to the Southwest. The Bulldogs also lined up a visit to Arizona in 2020 and Texas Tech in 2029. Mississippi State will open the 2024 season against Eastern Kentucky and visit Southern Miss the week after its Arizona State visit, on Sept. 14. The Bulldogs have no other games lined up in 2025 as of yet, according to FBSchedules.

Likewise, Mississippi State is not the Sun Devils’ lone upcoming SEC opponent. Arizona State has a home-and-home with LSU on the docket for 2026-28, per FBSchedules. The Mississippi State games complete both of the Sun Devils’ non-conference schedules for these respective seasons. Arizona State opens with Wyoming and visits Texas State in 2024, and hosts Northern Arizona and Texas State in 2025.

UCLA lands Texas Tech graduate transfer OL Justin Murphy

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Help is on the way for Chip Kelly‘s offensive line. One graduate transfer offensive lineman has the Bruins on his list, but another has already pulled the trigger for UCLA.

Texas Tech graduate transfer Justin Murphy on Tuesday committed to UCLA in a post on his Twitter account.

A native of Belton, Texas, Murphy signed with Texas Tech in 2014 and made four starts at right guard as a redshirt freshman. He again started four games at right guard in ’15 before moving out to tackle, where he started another four games. But after battling a series of knee injuries, Murphy announced in the middle of the 2016 season he had medically retired from the game.

After sitting out 2017, Murphy announced in March he planned to make a comeback.

UCLA remarkably started the same offensive linemen in all 13 games last season, but tackle Kolton Miller entered the NFL draft, guard Najoee Toran and center Scott Quessenberry graduated.

Toledo posts, then deletes, tweet offering to change mascot to Shrek

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There are plenty of annoying trends on Twitter, but perhaps the worst is the “I’ll do X if this gets retweeted X-thousand amount of times.” I blame Wendy’s.

But blanket policies are never a good way to go through life, and an exception was made on Tuesday when Toledo offered to change its mascot from a rocket to Shrek with 500,000 retweets.

Sadly, some dreams are simply too beautiful to live in this fallen world, and the tweet was outed to be a hoax. “We are definitely not changing the school mascot to Shrek,” Toledo media relations specialist Christine Billau told USA Today. “The tweet was meant to be fun, but it caused too much of a distraction.”

Meanwhile, Bowling Green gleefully hopped on the dog pile with both elbows pointed out.

UMass grad transfer lineman narrows choices to Auburn, UCLA, USC

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It’s not yet known to where Jack Driscoll will transfer, but the field has been significantly narrowed.

Earlier this offseason, Driscoll decided to transfer from UMass.  Tuesday, the offensive tackle confirmed to Rivals.com that he’s down to three schools as a potential landing spot — Auburn, UCLA and USC.

Neither football program will have to wait long for a decision as Driscoll expects to make an announcement Wednesday.  Driscoll had taken an official visit to all three of the campuses prior to whittling down his transfer to-do list.

“It will come down to one of those three schools,” the lineman told AuburnSports.com. “I feel like all three of the schools would be a good fit.”

Driscoll will graduate from UMass early next month, and will be eligible to play immediately in 2018 at whichever program he selects.  The upcoming season will be the first of two years of eligibility the 6-5, 294-pound lineman has remaining.

After starting eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2016, with most of those starts coming at left guard, he started all 12 games in 2017.  All of those starts this past season came at right tackle for the football-independent Minutemen. He was named to Phil Steele’s All-Independent first team while he earned second-team All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) honors for good measure.