Northern Illinois Huskies

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

Report says it would be difficult for Northern Illinois to replace Minnesota in Holiday Bowl

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 7:  Interim Head Coach Tracy Claeys of the Minnesota Golden Gophers watches his team play the Ohio State Buckeyes in the fourth quarter at Ohio Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Minnesota 28-14.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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The Holiday Bowl is in a bit of a pickle with less than two weeks until kickoff.

Minnesota’s players called for a boycott of team activities this week as the result of the administration suspending 10 players. As a result, the Gophers heading to San Diego to play in the game has come into serious question.

Holiday Bowl officials have said they are monitoring the situation but just about everybody is curious as to if the game will continue on as scheduled. If Minnesota opts to skip the postseason trip, Northern Illinois would be the team next in line as a result of their APR score and spot in the pecking order.

However, CBS Sports is reporting that the Huskies may not be able to fill the spot logistically on such short notice. That makes plenty of sense with most players out of school and kickoff less than 11 days away.

If Northern Illinois would decline the bowl invitation, it’s possible that the next two teams on the list — Cal and Arizona State — also decline the trip since they both have already played Washington State and wouldn’t be able to take advantage of many extra practices.

All of which is to say that the Holiday Bowl may wind up having a much different look at the end of the month than it did at the beginning.

2016 College Football Bowl Projections after Week 12

COLLEGE PARK, MD - NOVEMBER 12: The Ohio State Buckeyes celebrate after defeating the Maryland Terrapins, 62-3, at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium on November 12, 2016 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Week 12 in college football is in the books and, while it was not quite as wild as the week before, it still had a number of big upsets that shook up the postseason picture. Everybody is deservedly talking about the playoff path for several teams but numerous rivalry games and a handful of conference title games mean there are a ton of key games left on the docket.

With all that in mind, CFTalk decided to peer into our crystal ball and see how every game the rest of the year plays out and which teams wind up in certain bowl games. Running through all the scenarios, here’s how the bowl picture could play out from the final four to the very first one on December 17:

College Football Playoff

Bowl Teams
Peach Bowl No. 1 Alabama No. 4 Washington
Fiesta Bowl No. 2 Clemson No. 3 Ohio State

New Year’s Six

Bowl Teams
Rose Bowl Wisconsin USC
Sugar Bowl Oklahoma Tennessee
Orange Bowl Louisville Michigan
Cotton Bowl Penn State Navy

2016 FBS Bowl Games

Bowl Teams
New Mexico Bowl UTSA New Mexico
Las Vegas Bowl Arizona State San Diego State
Cure Bowl S. Alabama No. Illinois
Camellia Bowl Appalachian State Toledo
New Orleans Bowl Arkansas State Louisiana Tech
Miami Beach Bowl UCF Central Michigan
Boca Raton Bowl Western Kentucky Memphis
Poinsettia Bowl BYU Wyoming
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Colorado State Miami (OH)
Bahamas Bowl Ohio Old Dominion
Armed Forces Bowl Tulsa Army
Dollar General Bowl Troy Western Michigan
Hawaii Bowl Middle Tenn. State Hawaii
St. Petersburg Bowl South Florida N.C. State
Quick Lane Bowl Maryland Eastern Michigan
Independence Bowl South Carolina Boston College
Heart of Dallas Bowl North Texas Vanderbilt
Military Bowl Georgia Tech Temple
Holiday Bowl Iowa Stanford
Cactus Bowl Baylor Boise State
Pinstripe Bowl Northwestern Pitt
Russell Athletic Bowl Florida State West Virginia
Foster Farms Bowl Indiana Washington State
Texas Bowl Texas A&M TCU
Birmingham Bowl Kentucky Houston
Belk Bowl Ole Miss Wake Forest
Alamo Bowl Oklahoma State Colorado
Liberty Bowl LSU Kansas State
Sun Bowl North Carolina Utah
Music City Bowl Minnesota Georgia
TaxSlayer Bowl Miami (FL) Auburn
Outback Bowl Nebraska Arkansas
Citrus Bowl Virginia Tech Florida
Arizona Bowl Idaho Air Force

Checking in on the nation’s longest winning & losing streaks

Alabama's head coach Saban instructs his players as they take on the LSU Tigers during their NCAA football game in Baton Rouge
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Unbelievably, at the end of today, we’ll be more than one-third of the way through the 2016 regular season as the calendar flips from September to October. And, not surprisingly, some teams are faring better than others — and some, suffice to say, are not.

In “water’s wet, sky’s blue” news, defending national champions and undefeated top-ranked Alabama holds the nation’s longest winning streak at 16 in a row. ‘Bama’s last loss came Sept. 19 a year ago against Ole Miss. In fact, the Tide hasn’t really come close to seeing that streak end since as just two of their last 16 games have been decided by 10-plus points, with the lone exceptions being a 19-14 win over Tennessee in October of last year and 43-37 over Ole Miss just two weeks ago.

What might surprise you, though, is the second-longest streak behind ‘Bama. The holder of that honor? San Diego State, which has peeled off 13 wins in a row entering Week 5. Tennessee is the only other team in double digits, with 10 wins in a row dating back to last season.  The Vols’ last loss?  To the Tide, of course, a defeat that UT will get to avenge two weeks from today in the friendly confines of Neyland Stadium.

A total of nine teams will also take the field Saturday with a winning streak of at least five in a row:

7 — Houston, Washington
6 — Louisville, Utah, Western Michigan, Wisconsin
5 — Boise State, Navy, Ohio State

Clemson could join some combination of the above at that five-game winning-streak plateau Saturday, but to get there they’ll have to beat… Louisville.

On the other side of the won-loss ledger, the “proud” owner of the nation’s longest losing streak entering the 2016 season was Kansas* at 15 straight, followed by UCF (13), Charlotte (10), Eastern Michigan (10), Oregon State (nine) and Boston College (eight).

All six of those teams have seen those losing streaks come to a merciful end, with EMU actually off to a 3-1 start to the year. The team that was just behind BC, Wake Forest, carried a six-game losing streak into 2016 before surprisingly (stunningly?) winning their first four games of the season.

So, with all of that winning from last year’s biggest losers, who’s the current “top” loser? That title now belongs to the Northern Illinois Huskies, the winners of the last six MAC West championships — and three of the last six conference titles — who have started this season with four straight losses to stretch their ignominious streak to a nation’s best/worst seven in a row. Just three other teams have a streak that began during the 2015 season: Florida International, which has lost six in a row and already fired their head coach; Arkansas State, which lost its first four of this season to push its streak to five in a row; and Georgia State, 0-3 on the season to add to a loss in the 2015 Cure Bowl for a four-game losing streak.

Two additional teams are winless on the season after winning their last game of 2015: Miami of Ohio and Rice, which are each 0-4 in 2016.

(*While Kansas’ overall losing streak came to an end, they’ve still lost 17 in a row against FBS opponents, with the last one of those coming in early November of 2015 against Iowa State.)

Sackless in South Bend: Irish lone remaining FBS team without a sack

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And then there was one.

Entering Week 4, Nevada and Notre Dame were the lone FBS teams that had yet to register a sack during the first quarter of the 2016 season.  Midway through the second quarter of the game against Purdue today, however, Nevada’s Korey Rush sacked David Blough for a four-yard loss.

With Notre Dame not playing until 3:30 ET this afternoon (on NBC), that leaves the Irish standing alone as the only sackless team left at the FBS level.

Ironically enough, Purdue entered today’s game as one of five FBS teams, along with East Carolina, Northern Illinois, Texas State and West Virginia, that had recorded just one sack on the year.  And, for those who are curious, Florida came into Week 4 leading the nation in sacks with 16.

No. 2 in that category?  The Irish’s opponent this afternoon, the Blue Devils (tied with Ball State).

UPDATED 6:11 p.m. ET: And then there were none.

Early in the third quarter of the game with Duke, Nyles Morgan sacked Blue Devils quarterback Daniel Jones, giving the Irish their first sack of the season 14 quarters after it started.