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CFT Previews: Your Dec. 26 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 26 bowl menu, which today features the first two Power Five vs. Power Five matchups of the postseason.

WHO: Utah (6-6) vs. West Virginia (7-5)
WHAT: The 7th Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl
WHEN: 1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas
THE LINE: West Virginia, +7
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.


WHO: Duke (6-6) vs. Northern Illinois (8-4)
WHAT: The 4th Quick Lane Bowl
WHEN: 5:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
THE SKINNY: This game marks the first-ever meeting between the two football programs.  Duke is also making its first-ever appearance in the Motor City. … In the first three years of this bowl game, after it replaced the Little Caesars/Motor City Bowl, a team from a Power Five conference has been the winner.  Of course, NIU is only the second team from the Group of Five, with Central Michigan being the first, to play in it. … The last two Quick Lane Bowls have been decided by a combined 13 points after the first was a 19-point semi-blowout. … The Huskies have lost four straight bowl games, with their last win coming in the 2011 Bowl when they were coached by Dave Doeren, now the head coach at North Carolina State. Those four losses, incidentally, have come by a combined 105 points. … The Blue Devils aren’t exactly stellar in the postseason either as they have lost five of their last six bowl games since winning the 1960 (!!!) Cotton Bowl. … You can very neatly divide Duke’s season into three separate acts, with the Blue Devils winning their first four games, losing their next six and then winning their last two. … Jordan Huff leads the Huskies with 740 yards rushing.  Unfortunately, an ankle injury will sideline the senior running back for the bowl game.  At least when it comes to tailbacks, the running-game load will likely fall on the shoulders of Marcus Jones (347 yards). … Standout player you’ve probably never heard of? NIU defensive end and consensus All-American Sutton Smith, a converted running back who leads the nation with 28.5 tackles for loss.  The next closest?  The 26 from unanimous All-American Bradley Chubb of North Carolina State.  Smith also leads the country in sacks with 14.  The sophomore, by the way, is listed at 6-0 even, 225 pounds.
THE LINE: Northern Illinois, +5½
THE PREDICTION: Duke 24, Northern Illinois 21


WHO: Kansas State (7-5) vs. UCLA (6-6)
WHAT: The 29th Cactus Bowl
WHEN: 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

Bryce Love returning to Stanford for senior season

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This is certainly a surprising, if not extremely significant development.

Given his talent level and the position he plays, it’s been long thought that Bryce Love would be leaving Stanford early and declaring for the April draft.  Instead, Love’s father confirmed to the San Francisco Chronicle in a text early Tuesday morning that his son will be returning to the Cardinal for his senior season.

The Chronicle wrote that “[t]he junior tailback didn’t make his decision until the last possible minute Monday night, the deadline for entering the NFL draft.”

Despite battling through an ankle injury that lingered throughout the latter portion of the 2017 season, Love was second in the country in rushing with 2,118 yards and tied for fifth in rushing touchdowns with 19.  He finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind winner Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma.

With this decision, Love will very likely enter the 2018 season as the favorite to claim this year’s Heisman.

Report: Hugh Freeze visited Alabama’s football building Monday

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It wouldn’t take long to call the roll of head coaches who could get away with hiring Hugh Freeze at the moment, and Nick Saban is certainly at or near the top of that list. Based on word coming out of Tuscaloosa, a Saban-Freeze marriage could very well be on the horizon to test that theory.

According to the Tuscaloosa News, the disgraced former Ole Miss head coach was a visitor at Alabama’s football building on Monday. While the News didn’t detail the nature of the visit, writes that “Freeze was in the building today at Alabama to discuss the open offensive coordinator job.” Another national writer, however, downplayed the possibility of Freeze joining Saban’s staff.

Per the News, Saban has always held a healthy respect for Freeze given how much success, relatively speaking, the Rebels’ offense had going up against the Crimson Tide’s defense.

Saban is searching for a fourth offensive coordinator in less than 14 months after Brian Daboll left the team Sunday after one season to take the same job with the Buffalo Bills. Given Freeze’s credentials, he’d certainly warrant serious consideration to fill the opening; based on his exit from Oxford, he could be a tough sell in a lot of places.

Freeze “resigned” from Ole Miss after it was discovered he was using a school-issued cell phone to hook up with escort services on multiple occasions. Additionally, there were the Rebels’ NCAA issues while Freeze was in charge that left the coach with a team-game suspension to serve; that suspension would not have to be served if Freeze is a coordinator or position coach.

It was reported earlier this month that Les Miles was involved in Arizona’s search for a head coach and had an interest in bringing Freeze along as his coordinator if he landed the job. Not long after, after criticism came pouring in over the potential move, the earlier reports were walked back because of the stigma that still follows Freeze.

Ex-Nebraska WR Keyshawn Johnson Jr. reportedly lands at Arizona

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It appears Keyshawn Johnson Jr. will continue his collegiate playing career a little bit further west than where it began.

On the same day that Kevin Sumlin was hired as the head coach at Arizona, Nate Clouse of reported that Johnson will be enrolling at UA this week and play for the Wildcats. The son of former USC great Keyshawn Johnson will be eligible to play immediately for Sumlin in 2018.

In late June of last year, Johnson was cited for marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.  Not long after, the wide receiver decided to take a leave of absence, with his famous father stating that his son needed some time to “mature” and would not play for the Cornhuskers in 2017.

At the time, the plan was for the junior Johnson to return to Lincoln and play his college football for Mike Riley.  With his father’s college offensive coordinator dismissed at the end of the regular season, Johnson took to Twitter in mid-December to announce that he wouldn’t be returning to the Cornhuskers.

Johnson was a four-star member of the Cornhuskers’ 2017 recruiting class who was an early enrollee and participated in spring practice, but never played a down for NU. Before signing with Nebraska, he held offers from, among others, Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State and USC.

Minnesota CB Zo Craighton tweets he’s transferring

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Roster attrition across college football continues unabated, with Minnesota the latest to lose one its football players.

Zo Craighton revealed on his Twitter account Monday that, “[a]fter prayers and considerations,” he has decided to transfer out of P.J. Fleck‘s football program. “There will always be a place in my heart for Minnesota,” the redshirt sophomore cornerback wrote in his social media missive. “I made friends for life and I appreciate the fan base for all the support.”

Craighton played in 11 games the past two seasons, missing the final nine of the 2017 season because of injury. Coming out of high school in Louisiana, the defensive back was a three-star member of the Gophers’ 2015 recruiting class.