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CFT Previews: San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl

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WHO: No. 16 Michigan State (9-3) vs. No. 18 Washington State (9-3)
WHAT: The 40th Holiday Bowl
WHEN: 9 p.m. ET on FS1
WHERE: SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, California
THE SKINNY: The most eccentric coach in the country takes on the most stern-faced as a clash of styles meet down in Southern California.

The Cougars are back in the Holiday Bowl for the second straight season and hoping things go much better than last year’s edition, where they looked awful in a loss to a Minnesota team that had literally quit a few weeks prior. This will be the swan song for quarterback Luke Falk, who holds just about every Pac-12 passing record and could be set to move up some more on the all-time FBS lists with a good outing.

Wazzu isn’t just a pass-happy team with Mike Leach’s Air Raid though as the defense is one of the best units you’ll find on the West Coast. They’re lead up front by All-American Hercules Mata’afa (who will sit the first half due to a targeting penalty) and are ranked 15th in total defense this year despite playing a bunch of prolific offenses in the regular season.

A few Michigan State fans might not be happy at ending up in the Holiday Bowl but that would be a disservice to the terrific turnaround in East Lansing after hitting the mat hard in 2016. Quarterback Brian Lewerke might not have the numbers his counterpart in this game has but he’s been an excellent fit in the offense and thrown for 17 touchdowns. He also brings a huge threat with his legs and is the second leading rusher on the team with nearly 500 yards and five scores on the ground.

This is a Mark Dantonio-coached team so you know the defense is pretty solid as well. The Spartans are in the top 25 in a number of categories and safety David Dowell has five picks to lead another salty secondary that may be young but loves to make plays.

Both sides have been up and down this season so this game could unfold a number of different ways down in San Diego. MSU has done well when they can play the underdog card and you can bet they will as they sneak out a hard-fought victory in the Holiday Bowl.

THE PICK: Michigan State 28, Washington State 24

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.