Tulsa Golden Hurricane

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 15: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is seen during the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Notre Dame Stadium on October 15, 2016 in South Bend, Indiana. Stanford defeated Notre Dame 17-10. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Independents and Group of Five National Signing Day Recap: Irish bounce back, Memphis tops AAC

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Outside of the Power Five conferences, recruiting went about as expected in 2017.

Notre Dame continued to pound the national trail and landed a top 12 class full of players who will be expected to play early. BYU managed another impressive group that was one of the most diverse out there. The schools with a talent-rich backyard to draw on did well in the AAC.  Boise State was once again tops in the Mountain West and did better than a few peers in the region. And yes, Lane Kiffin earned that recruiting reputation by pulling in the best class of Conference USA.

Though there wasn’t much drama outside the top schools, there nevertheless was plenty of action for many programs on National Signing Day.

Top recruits (all rankings via 247Sports Composite): No. 67 overall Brock Wright (TE, Notre Dame), No. 154 overall Chaz Ah You (DB, BYU), Aisa Kelemete (DE, Boise State), Nick Robinson (TE, Memphis), Nicholas Sims (RB, Toledo)

Top classes: Notre Dame (No. 11 overall), Memphis (No. 58 overall), Boise State (No. 60 overall), BYU (No. 65 overall), Florida Atlantic (No. 71 overall), Toledo (No. 74 overall), Texas State (No. 87 overall)

Biggest storyline: Irish still land solid recruiting class

Despite the worst season in South Bend since Charlie Weis and a nearly brand new coaching staff, Notre Dame still managed to cobble together a top 12 class on Signing Day. Tight end Brock Wright was the highest rated player and should see early playing time but the number of quality offensive linemen was really evident in the group Brian Kelly signed. Will it be enough to help with a big turnaround? We’ll see.

Biggest surprise: Memphis runs away with things in the AAC but new coaches still fared well

Given all the turnover in the American this year, it should probably come as no surprise that the Tigers pulled the top recruiting class in the conference. That’s a testament to what Mike Norvell is building with the program and the fact that they don’t have to go far for players. Many of the same factors played a role in Scott Frost landing the second-best class at UCF. It was also pretty impressive what Luke Fickell did on the recruiting trail at Cincinnati and Charlie Strong did at USF given those two didn’t have a ton of time to get things lined up.

Don’t sleep on: Boise State, Colorado State

The Broncos were once again the class of the Mountain West on the recruiting trail and fended off several Pac-12 schools for prospects. That will put them firmly in the mix to win the league again in 2017 but don’t overlook another good job by Mike Bobo and staff at Colorado State in landing 17 three-star players.

We’ll see about: Everybody else

Tulsa hands Central Michigan historic Miami Beach beatdown

Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans (9) prepares to pass against Central Michigan in the first half of the Miami Beach Bowl NCAA college football game, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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Playing before a typically empty Marlins Park on Monday afternoon, Tulsa was Giancarlo Stanton and Central Michigan was a hanging slider. The Golden Hurricane handed Central Michigan a 55-10 spanking, the second-largest margin of victory in Tulsa’s 21-game bowl history and by far the biggest blowout in the 3-year history of the Miami Beach Bowl.

Tulsa scored on its first eight possessions of the day, starting with a 5-yard Josh Atkinson reception from Dane Evans to cap a 17-play, 93-yard march on the Hurricane’s first possession of the game. After consecutive Redford Jones field goals, Tulsa found the end zone again on another Evans scoring strike, this one a 13-yarder to Keevan Lucas.

After forcing a three-and-out, Evans closed the half with his third touchdown toss of the half, a 4-yard connection to Chris Minter to secure a 27-3 lead at the break.

Running back James Flanders got on the board on Tulsa’s first drive of the second half, racing in from 17 yards out on a 4th-and-2 carry. After yet another three-and-out, the Evans-to-Lucas combination notched its second touchdown of the day, this one a 28-yard connection.

They weren’t done, though, as Tulsa’s next drive culminated in Lucas’s third touchdown reception of the afternoon to push the score to 48-3 with 2:16 to play in the third quarter. The defense got in on the action in the next possession when Jesse Brubaker raced an interception 66 yards for a touchdown with 12:49 to play in the game.

Central Michigan finally scored its lone touchdown when Jahray Hayes carried in a 13-yard touchdown rush with 9:21 to play. Quarterback Cooper Rush finished the day hitting only 24-of-49 throws for 241 yards with three interceptions, while the Chips (6-7) averaged only 3.8 yards per carry on 22 rushes.

Evans closed a distinguished career with one of his most efficient games ever, hitting 28-of-38 passes for 304 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. The Golden Hurricane posted two 100-yard rushers as Flanders carried 17 times for 100 yards and a touchdown and D'Angelo Brewer rushed 17 times for 105 yards. Atkinson collected 12 receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown, while Lucas finished with seven grabs for 72 yards and a trio of scores.

For head coach Philip Montgomery, Tulsa’s 581-yard, 34-first down performance (including converting 10-of-15 third down tries) was an example of what the Art Briles offense can do when clicking on each and every cylinder. It was a domination so thorough Montgomery had to look for creative ways to get his punter in the game.

The win pushes the Golden Hurricane to 10-3 on the season, a significant upgrade from the club’s 6-7 mark in Montgomery’s debut season of 2015 and a complete transformation from the 2-10 team Montgomery inherited.

Beyond that, a win like this establishes Tulsa as a team to watch in next year’s American race and Montgomery as a name to watch for open Power 5 jobs in 2017.

Tulsa having a Miami Beach Bowl blast against CMU

TULSA, OK - SEPTEMBER 6:  Keevan Lucas #2 of the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes runs the ball against the Oklahoma Sooners at H.A. Chapman Stadium on September 6, 2014 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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After getting off to a rough start to the bowl season, the American Athletic Conference looks to be in good form this afternoon thanks to Tulsa. Tulsa is leading Central Michigan in the Miami Beach Bowl at halftime, 27-3.

A pair of Central Michigan turnovers have led to 10 points for the Golden Hurricane. CMU quarterback Cooper Rush had a first-down pass inside the red zone picked off by Kerwin Thomas in the second quarter. Tulsa turned that interception into a touchdown eight plays later with Keevan Lucas pulling down a 13-yard pass from Dane Evans to push the Tulsa lead to 17. An earlier interception led to a 46-yard field goal by Redford Jones, his second of the game.

Tulsa has accumulated 18 first downs already and looks to be by far the superior team so far in the Miami Beach Bowl. If they can finish this one off in the second half, they will put the AAC in the win column this bowl season. The MAC is also looking for its first win of the bowl season.

CFT Previews: Your Dec. 19 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 10:  D'Angelo Brewer #4 of the Tulsa Hurricane runs upfield in the first quarter as Jerome Baker #17 of the Ohio State Buckeyes gives chase at Ohio Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 19 bowl menu, which, after the “opening weekend” buffet of five bowl games, is more like a snack than anything remotely resembling a meal.  It has the potential to be a high-scoring, entertaining slice of football pie, though.

WHO: Central Michigan (6-6) vs. Tulsa (9-3)
WHAT: The 3rd Miami Beach Bowl
WHERE: Marlins Park, Miami, Florida
WHEN: 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Central Michigan is the first of the three directional Michigan schools that will go bowling this season, the first time ever each member of that state trio has been in the postseason the same year.  CMU faces a tall task in earning its first bowl win since 2012, though.  Tulsa lost by 45 in Week 2 to College Football Playoff semifinalist Ohio State; after that, they won eight of their last 10 (three in overtime), with the lone losses coming by a combined nine points to 9-3 Houston and 9-4 Navy.  Both of those losses, incidentally, came on the road.  The Chips, on the other hand, lost four of their last five to come staggering into the postseason.  If you’re a fan of aerial proficiency, this could be the game for you — CMU is 26th nationally with 276.4 yards per game, Tulsa 40th at 260.8 ypg.  The Golden Hurricane, though, has an added dimension as they are eighth in the country in rushing offense (261.8 ypg) — two backs, James Flanders and D'Angelo Brewer (pictured), have rushed for at least 1,300 yards — while their opponents are a middling 56th (161.3) in stopping the run.  CMU was a controversial win over Oklahoma State away from not even being bowl-eligible; Tulsa’s about to try to show the MAC school that they may not have belonged in the postseason after all.  One final note: the winner of the first two Miami Beach Bowls has scored at least 45 points, while the loser has scored at least 35.  Just spitballing here, but don’t expect that trend on either side to come to a screeching halt this year.
THE LINE: Central Michigan, +13
THE PREDICTION: Tulsa 58, Central Michigan 37

Behold: The full 2016-17 college football bowl schedule is here

LOUISVILLE, KY - SEPTEMBER 17: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals runs with the ball during the game against the Florida State Seminoles at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)
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The College Football Playoff and New Year’s Six lineups are set, but there’s much more to bowl season than the top line games. Running 40 games deep and stretching from Dec. 17 to Jan. 9, the 2016-17 bowl schedule came together Sunday afternoon, which we’ve compiled here for your viewing enjoyment.

Let’s dive right in.

Saturday, Dec. 17
Gildan New Mexico Bowl (2 p.m. ET, ESPN): UTSA vs. New Mexico
Las Vegas Bowl presented by Geico (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC): Houston vs. San Diego State
Raycom Media Camelia Bowl (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): Appalachian State vs. Toledo
AutoNation Cure Bowl (5:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network): Central Florida vs. Arkansas State
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (9 p.m. ET, ESPN): Lousiana-Lafayette vs. Southern Miss

Monday, Dec. 19
Miami Beach Bowl (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): Central Michigan vs. Tulsa

Tuesday, Dec. 20
Boca Raton Bowl (7 p.m. ET, ESPN): Memphis vs. Western Kentucky

Wednesday, Dec. 21
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (9 p.m. ET, ESPN): BYU vs. Wyoming

Thursday, Dec. 22
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (7 p.m. ET, ESPN): Idaho vs. Colorado State

Friday, Dec. 23
Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (1 p.m. ET, ESPN): Old Dominion vs. Eastern Michigan
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): Louisiana Tech vs. No. 25 Navy
Dollar General Bowl (8 p.m. ET, ESPN): Ohio vs. Troy

Saturday, Dec. 24
Hawai’i Bowl (8 p.m. ET, ESPN): Hawaii vs. Middle Tennessee

Monday, Dec. 26
St. Petersburg Bowl (11 a.m. ET, ESPN): Mississippi State vs. Miami (Ohio)
Quick Lane Bowl (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): Boston College vs. Maryland
Camping World Independence Bowl (5 p.m. ET, ESPN2): NC State vs. Vanderbilt

Tuesday, Dec. 27
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl (noon ET, ESPN): Army vs. North Texas
Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): No. 24 Temple vs. Wake Forest
National Funding Holiday Bowl (7 p.m. ET, ESPN): Washington State vs. Minnesota
Motel 6 Cactus Bowl (10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN): Boise State vs. Baylor

Wednesday, Dec. 28
New Era Pinstripe Bowl (2 p.m. ET, ESPN): No. 23 Pittsburgh vs. Northwestern
Russell Athletic Bowl (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): No. 16 West Virginia vs. Miami
Foster Farms Bowl (8:30 p.m. ET, FOX): Indiana vs. No. 19 Utah
AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl (9 p.m. ET, ESPN): Texas A&M vs. Kansas State

Thursday, Dec. 29
Birmingham Bowl (2 p.m. ET, ESPN): South Florida vs. South Carolina
Belk Bowl (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): Arkansas vs. No. 22 Virginia Tech
Valero Alamo Bowl (9 p.m. ET, ESPN): No. 10 Colorado vs. No. 12 Oklahoma State

Friday, Dec. 30
AutoZone Liberty Bowl (noon ET, ESPN): TCU vs. Georgia
Hyundai Sun Bowl (2 p.m. ET, CBS): No. 18 Stanford vs. North Carolina
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): No. 21 Tennessee vs. Nebraska
Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl (5:30 p.m. ET, Campus Insiders): South Alabama vs. Air Force
Capital One Orange Bowl (8 p.m. ET, ESPN): No. 6 Michigan vs. No. 11 Florida State

Saturday, Dec. 31
Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl (11 a.m. ET, ABC): No. 20 LSU vs. No. 13 Louisville
TaxSlayer Bowl (11 a.m. ET, ESPN): Georgia Tech vs. Kentucky
CFP Semifinal at Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (3 p.m. ET, ESPN): No. 4 Washington vs. No. 1 Alabama
CFP Semifinal at PlayStation Fiesta Bowl (7 p.m. ET, ESPN): No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Clemson

Monday, Jan. 2
Outback Bowl (1 p.m. ET, ABC): No. 17 Florida vs. Iowa
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic (1 p.m. ET, ESPN): No. 15 Western Michigan vs. No. 8 Wisconsin
Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual (5 p.m. ET, ESPN): No. 9 USC vs. No. 5 Penn State
Allstate Sugar Bowl (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): No. 14 Auburn vs. No. 7 Oklahoma

Monday, Jan. 9
College Football Playoff National Championship (8 p.m. ET, ESPN): ALA/WASH vs. CLEM/OSU