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College Football Playoff reveals new chairperson, six new selection committee members

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As expected, the group that will determine the four playoff semifinalists next season will have a new leader — with the group consisting of new members as well.

The College Football Playoff announced Wednesday that Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens has been named as the selection committee’s new chairperson.  Mullens replaces Kirby Hocutt, the Texas Tech athletic director whose two-year term is expiring Feb. 1.

Former Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long was the first CFP chair (2014-15).

“We are delighted that Rob will be stepping into this role,” CFP executive director Bill Hancock said in a statement. “He is an experienced committee member, extremely passionate about college football, detail-oriented and brings a high level of energy that is perfectly suited to chairing the committee.”

As chairman, the press release stated, “Mullens will set the selection committee’s agenda, run its meetings and serve as the spokesman for the committee along with Hancock.”

“College football plays a vital role in intercollegiate athletics, and it is an honor to continue to serve on the CFP Selection Committee,” said Mullens. “I look forward to partnering with the other committee members and the staff to build on the strong foundation which has been created in the first four years of the CFP.”

Additionally, the CFP announced six new committee members:

  • Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, as previously reported
  • Former journalist/current journalism professor Paola Boivin
  • Former Rice/Clemson/Arkansas/Air Force head coach Ken Hatfield
  • College and NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott
  • Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury
  • Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin

There were five members whose terms are set to expire at the beginning of next month: Clemson AD Dan Radakovich, Arkansas AD Jeff Long, former NCAA executive Tom Jernstedt, former Stanford/Notre Dame/Washington head coach Tyrone Willingham, former Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson and former journalist Steve Wieberg.

The six additions bring the committee back to a dozen voters, including Robert Morris president Christopher B. Howard (term expires in Feb. of 2020), former Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer (2020), Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith (2020), former Southern Miss head coach Jeff Bower (2019), former Central Michigan head coach Herb Deromedi (2019) and Mullen (2019).

Florida State avoids worst season since 1976 with Independence Bowl rout of Southern Miss

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Florida State can officially breathe a historical sigh of relief.

Southern Miss scored a touchdown on the opening drive of the 2017 Walk-On’s Independence Bowl, taking an early 6-0 lead on FSU following a missed point after attempt.  That would be as good as it got for the Conference USA school as their ACC foes scored the next 33 points en route to 42-13 win.

The Seminoles came into the game 6-6 and needed a win to avoid finishing a season with a sub-.500 record for the first time since 1976.  That year’s ‘Noles team finished 5-6 in Bobby Bowden‘s first season in Tallahassee.  This does, though, mark the fourth time in the last dozen years that FSU has finished a season 7-6.

Freshman James Blackman played a significant role in this win, their fourth in a row, throwing a career-high four touchdown passes.  That number also set the single-game Independence Bowl record.

Three of those touchdown passes went to Auden Tate, tying a single-game record for the bowl game.

There was one other personal accomplishment as Cam Akers, on a third-quarter carry, broke Dalvin Cook‘s single-season freshman rushing record of 1,007 yards.  Akers now has 1,024 yards on the season after rushing for 94 in the win.

Longtime FSU defensive line coach Odell Haggins secured his second-ever career win as he served as the Seminoles’ interim head coach.  It was confirmed Tuesday that Haggins will be retained by new FSU head coach Willie Taggart.

In a losing effort, Golden Eagles quarterback Kwadra Griggs accounted for a pair of touchdowns, one passing and one rushing.  Ito Smith, who came into the game third in Conference USA in rushing with 1,321 yards, finished the day with 92 yards on 16 carries.

The Golden Eagles finished the year 8-5.

James Blackman’s three TD passes give Florida State halftime lead on Southern Miss in Independence Bowl

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Florida State is a mere 30 minutes away from officially avoiding its worst season in over four decades.

In an uneven (to say the least) first half of the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl, a trio of James Blackman touchdown passes proved to be the difference as FSU has taken a 23-6 lead on Southern Miss (8-4) into the halftime locker room. The freshman hit Auden Tate for a 20-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter to give the Seminoles their first lead of the game, then connected with Cam Akers eight minutes later on a 14-yard catch and run that pushed the lead to seven.

A 29-yard Ricky Aguayo field goal midway through the second pushed the lead to double digits for the first time, while Blackman’s third scoring toss, this one to Tate from 10 yards out just with 1:33 left, accounted for the rest of the scoring in the half

Blackman finished the half completing 10-of-16 passes for 137 yards to go along with the touchdown passes.  He also added 27 yards rushing on five carries.  Akers, who is seven yards shy of breaking Dalvin Cook‘s school record for single-season rushing yards by a freshman (1,007),  led all ball carriers with 71 yards on the ground on nine carries.

The FSU defense held the Southern Miss defense to just 138 yards, with quarterback Kwadra Griggs‘ five-yard run accounting for the Golden Eagles’ only first-half points.

Especially early on, the game had the look of one in which neither team had played in a few weeks.

In the first quarter, Southern Miss was flagged four times for offsides while FSU was hit with a pair of 15-yard penalties, including roughing the punter, that greatly aided the Eagles on an opening drive that ended with a touchdown.  Additionally, both teams missed a point after attempt each.

Should the 6-6 Seminoles fail to hold their lead and lose, it would mark the first time since 1976 that FSU finished a season with a sub-.500 record.  That year’s ‘Noles team finished 5-6 in Bobby Bowden‘s first season in Tallahassee.

CFT Previews: Your Dec. 27 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 27 bowl menu, which today features seven of the eight teams playing hailing from the Power Five conferences, with all five of the power leagues represented on the same day.

WHO: Florida State (6-6) vs. Southern Mississippi (8-4)
WHAT: The 42nd Walk-On’s Independence Bowl
WHEN: 1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Independence Stadium, Shreveport, Louisiana
THE LINE: Southern Miss, +15
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Iowa (7-5) vs. Boston College (7-5)
WHAT: The 8th New Era Pinstripe Bowl
WHEN: 5:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Yankee Stadium, The Bronx, New York City, New York
THE LINE: Boston College, +3
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Arizona (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6)
WHAT: 
The 16th Foster Farms Bowl
WHEN:
8:30 p.m. ET on FOX
WHERE: 
Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California
THE LINE
: Purdue, +3
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Missouri (7-5) vs. Texas (6-6)
WHAT: The 12th Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl
WHEN: 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas
THE LINE: Texas, +3
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

CFT Previews: Walk-On’s Independence Bowl

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WHO: Florida State (6-6) vs. Southern Mississippi (8-4)
WHAT: The 42nd Walk-On’s Independence Bowl
WHEN: 1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Independence Stadium, Shreveport, Louisiana
THE SKINNY: To say the 2017 season did not go according to plan for Florida State would be a massive understatement. Among the preseason favorites to reach the College Football Playoff, the Seminoles had to reschedule a game against Louisiana-Monroe just to reach the six-win minimum to become bowl eligible.

Now, Florida State is heading to the Independence Bowl after losing head coach Jimbo Fisher to Texas A&M prior to the last game of the season and taking on a Southern Mississippi team that may be more dangerous than expected. Florida State will also be playing the game without one of their best players because Derwin James has decided to pass on the bowl game to focus on preparing for the NFL Draft circuit.

Florida State’s season took a nasty wrong turn right out of the gates of the season when they lost to Alabama in the Atlanta in the most-hyped season opener in years. Not only did they lose, but starting quarterback Deondre Francois was lost for the season, meaning Florida State had to play the season with James Blackman. Blackman has had his ups and downs this season, as most freshmen would. But the experience could pay off in the long run, and extra practices to prepare for the bowl game could come in handy during a time of transition.

Florida State is still a heavy favorite against the Golden Eagles in this bowl matchup. If Southern Mississippi is to score a wild upset, quarterback Kwadra Griggs must avoid making mistakes against the Florida State defense. Griggs has thrown 15 touchdowns with just two interceptions all season. Running back Ito Smith has rushed for 150 yards or more in each of the last three games, but doing so against Florida State may be difficult.

Southern Mississippi has faced two power conference opponents this season. The Golden Eagles opened the season at home against Kentucky, losing 24-17. Later in the year, Southern Miss visited Tennessee and returned home with a 24-10 loss. Southern Miss may have the talent to do some damage against most of the teams on the schedule this season, but the evidence suggests they could be in for a struggle against Florida State, even though the Seminoles have had their own struggles this season.

THE PICK: Florida State 33, Southern Mississippi 17