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CFT Previews: PlayStation Fiesta Bowl

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WHO: No. 9 Penn State (10-2) vs. No. 11 Washington (10-2)
WHAT: The 47th PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
WHEN: 4:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
THE SKINNY: A year after a debate was waged on which of these two should be included in the College Football Playoff, Washington and Penn State meet in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. This one could be one of the more entertaining games we see this bowl season with plenty of good talent to go around on both sides of the field. After both teams ended their postseason last season with a loss, both Penn State and Washington are looking to make up for it this year.

The running back duo is terrific with Penn State’s Saquon Barkley capable of a highlight any time he touches the ball, if his offensive line gives him room to work. Barkley is going up against a stingy Washington defense so there may not be much room to work for much of the night. This is expected to be the final game of Barkley’s career before heading off to the NFL, where he is likely to be a top 10 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The stats may not tell the full story of just how dangerous Barkley can be, but he can be a factor running the ball, catching the ball, and returning kicks. Barkley has two kickoff return touchdowns this season and he was named the winner of the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most dynamic player.

Penn State will have their hands busy trying to contain Myles Gaskin of Washington, one of the top offensive players the Pac-12 has to offer. The quarterback comparison is a good one too with Penn State’s Trace McSorley a spunky dual-threat and Washington’s Jake Browning a more traditional dropback passer.

Both offenses will be led by new coordinators on the sidelines after the previous coordinators left to take head coach jobs elsewhere this offseason. While Penn State’s James Franklin is looking for his first major bowl victory after not being able to finish off the Rose Bowl a year ago, Washington’s Chris Petersen is looking for his third Fiesta Bowl victory. This should be a good one, but Penn State may have just enough big plays in them to keep the school’s perfect Fiesta Bowl record unblemished.

THE PICK: Penn State 30, Washington 26

In statement, K-State ‘deeply saddened’ over death of Bill Snyder’s grandson

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In a statement, Kansas State has confirmed the passing of head coach Bill Snyder‘s grandson and assistant coach Sean Snyder‘s son.

Emergency personnel were called to the home of Matthew Snyder Wednesday afternoon for what was described as a medical emergency.  Other than the 22-year-old was deceased, no further details of the events surrounding his death have been released.

While neither of the long-time Wildcats coaches have, understandably, addressed the tragedy, K-State athletic director Gene Taylor did in a statement.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Snyder family during this very difficult time. We are deeply saddened to learn of this news and ask that the family’s privacy continue to be respected. Sean, Wanda, and the entire Snyder family are greatly appreciative of the outpouring of support displayed by the K-State Family as they cope with this tragedy.

FAU QB Jason Driskel announces he is retiring from football

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This one seemingly comes from out of nowhere.

The starting quarterback for Lane Kiffin‘s resurgent FAU program for most of 2017, Jason Driskel was hoping again to trigger one of the most potent offenses in the country in 2018.  Instead, Driskel announced on his personal Twitter account that he is retiring from the sport.

“After a lot of thinking, talking with friends and family, and prayer, I have made the decision to end my college football career,” Driskel, who has one year of eligibility remaining, wrote in the social media missive. “I undoubtedly will miss my teammates and the game with all of its trials and tribulations; but I will not regret the decision to move into the next chapter of my life.”

After going 1-2 the first three games of the 2017 season, Lane Kiffin benched starter Daniel Parr and inserted Driskel.  After losing his first start at Buffalo, Driskel proceeded to help lead the Owls to 10 straight wins to close out the regular season with a school-record 11 wins.  FAU won the Conference USA championship and also claimed the program’s first bowl win since 2008 for good measure.

Driskel passed for 2,247 yards, five touchdowns and just four interceptions in what turned out to be his last season at the school.  He was also third on the Owls with 427 yards rushing, while his eight rushing touchdowns were second on the team.

With Driskel out, a pair of transfers, Florida State’s De'Andre Johnson and Oklahoma’s Chris Robinson, will likely battle for the starting job beginning in the spring.  Even if he hadn’t retired, Driskel would’ve had to beat out that duo for the starting job, his head coach confirmed after the Boca Raton Bowl rout of Akron.

Bill Snyder’s grandson, Sean Snyder’s son dies at age 22

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Tragedy has struck at the heart of the Kansas State football program.

According to the Manhattan Mercury, 22-year-old Matthew Snyder died Wednesday in Manhattan.  Snyder is the grandson of legendary K-State head coach Bill Snyder and the son of longtime Wildcats assistant Sean Snyder.

Scant details surrounding the younger Snyder’s death have been released.  From the Mercury‘s report:

Emergency personnel responded to a medical call Wednesday afternoon in the 3300 block of Claflin Avenue in Manhattan. Riley County police confirmed that there had been a death but declined to give any further information.

The house at 3309 Claflin Ave. belongs to KTMW LLC, which is owned by Sean and Wanda Snyder, according to county records.

The football program is expected to release a statement or statements on Matthew Snyder’s passing later on Thursday.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to those affected by the young man’s death.

In the retiring Chayce Crouch, Illinois loses second QB in one day

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Wednesday evening, Jeff George Jr. announced that he was leaving the Illinois football program as a graduate transfer.  A short time later, another of his fellow Fighting Illini quarterbacks confirmed his exit as well — albeit with a twist.

On his personal Twitter account, Chayce Crouch announced that not only is he leaving the Illini but he’s leaving the sport, period. “I don’t think there’s anything left to give,” the redshirt junior wrote. “I have decided to hang up the cleats and end my career as a Fighting Illini.

“At this point in my life, this is what is best for me.”

Crouch started the first four games of the 2017 season before being benched in favor of George Jr. in early October; he started another game later on in the year.  The Ohio native finishes his collegiate career completing 78 of his 157 passes for 852 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions.  He also ran for 360 yards and another four touchdowns on 108 carries.

With the departures of Crouch and George, rising sophomore Cam Thomas is the only scholarship quarterback currently on the Illini’s roster.  A three-star recruit signed last December, MJ Rivers, won’t enroll until the summer.  There’s also the possibility of adding another recruit during the “usual” February signing period, and there’s also the possibility (probability?) that a graduate transfer at the position will be added as well.