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CFT Previews: Your Dec. 23 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 23 bowl menu, which today features a pair of 10-win teams, another that could’ve gotten to double digits were it not for a hurricane and a service academy that’s on the verge of its best season ever wins-wise.

WHO: Texas Tech (6-6) vs. South Florida (9-2)
WHAT: The 12th Birmingham Bowl
WHEN: Noon ET on ESPN
WHERE: Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama
THE LINE: Texas Tech, +3
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: San Diego State (10-2) vs. Army (9-3)
WHAT: The 15th Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas
THE LINE: Army, +7
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Appalachian State (8-4) vs. Toledo (11-2)
WHAT: The 19th Dollar General Bowl
WHEN: 7 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama
THE SKINNY: These two teams are very familiar with each other, at least when it comes to the recent postseason as they met in last year’s Camellia Bowl, with Appalachian State coming away with a three-point win. That game, incidentally, is the only meeting ever between the two schools. … Arguably the biggest surprise in this game is that Toledo head coach Jason Candle is neither coaching his last game nor already off to a bigger program.  In two full seasons, Candle has won 20 games at UT, the best start for a Rockets head coach ever.  This time next year, though, expect Candle to be in charge of his own Power Five program. … Toledo, incidentally, can post its highest win total since its 12-0 1971 season under Jack Murphy. A win would not only match that season, but could also leave the Rockets ranked in the final College Football Playoff Top 25 for the first time ever. … Both teams left the regular season on a high, with the Mountaineers winning three in a row and the Rockets doing the same, with the bonus for the latter being the last of those wins coming in the MAC championship game. … ASU is looking to run its all-time bowl record to 3-0. with the first two wins coming the past two seasons… If you like quality quarterback matchups, this one’s for you.  UT’s Logan Woodside and ASU’s Taylor Lamb are two of only three FBS quarterbacks, the other being Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, to throw for 25 or more touchdowns and fewer than eight interceptions this season.  Woodside is currently fifth in the country in pass efficiency, while Lamb is 16th. Woodside is also 11th in passing yards (3,758), while Lamb can also beat a defense with his legs as his 539 yards rushing are 10th amongst Group of Five quarterbacks. … Don’t sleep on the Rockets’ running game, though, as Terry Swanson‘s 1,319 yards leads the MAC. … Stat to note: Teams from the Sun Belt Conference have won two straight and four of the last five Dollar General Bowls.
THE LINE: Appalachian State, +7
THE PREDICTION: Toledo 50, Appalachian State 42

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.