Ohio Bobcats

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20:  USC President C.L. Max Nikias speaks onstage at the 18th Annual LA Times Festival Of Books at USC on April 20, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for LA Times)
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USC prez Max Nikias named playoff board chairman

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With the second College Football Playoff title game getting set to kick off shortly on the field, the organization is taking care of some business off of it.

The CFP’s executive director, Bill Hancock, confirmed Monday that USC president Max Nikias has been named as the chairman of the CFP Board of Managers.  Nikias replaces Harvey Perlman, the Nebraska chancellor who is retiring from his post at the university this summer.

Nikias will officially begin his term as chairman February 1.

“Dr. Nikias has been instrumental in the development and growth of the College Football Playoff,” said Hancock. “We appreciate his leadership and continued support. He is highly respected by his fellow presidents and chancellors and he will be an excellent chair.

“I also want to take this opportunity to thank Harvey Perlman for the time and energy he has devoted to the playoff. We have been fortunate to have been led by such talented people.

For those curious as to what the Board of Managers is responsible, the CFP wrote in the release that it “governs the College Football Playoff business, property and affairs. The board develops, reviews and approves annual budgets, policies and operating guidelines. It has authority over all aspects of the company’s operations.”

Below is the current makeup of the board, which has one representative from each of the 10 FBS conferences as well as Notre Dame:

Rodney Bennett – President, University of Southern Mississippi (C-USA)
Anthony Frank – President, Colorado State University (Mountain West)
Burns Hargis – President, Oklahoma State University (Big 12)
Jack Hawkins – Chancellor, Troy University (Sun Belt)
Rev. John Jenkins – President, University of Notre Dame (Independent)
Mark Keenum – President, Mississippi State University (SEC)
Roderick McDavis – President, Ohio University (MAC)
C. L. Max Nikias (chair) – President, University of Southern California (Pac-12)
Harvey Perlman – Chancellor, University of Nebraska (Big Ten)
John Thrasher – President, Florida State University (ACC)
Steadman Upham – President, University of Tulsa (American Athletic)

Last-second FG turns Ohio into App. St.’s first FBS bowl victim

MONTGOMERY, AL - DECEMBER 19: Quarterback Taylor Lamb #11 of the Appalachian State Mountaineers celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown during their game against the Ohio Bobcats at the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl on December 19, 2015 at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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The biggest — or at least most notable — win in Appalachian State history came at the expense of Michigan. While possibly not as historic, this latest victory will certainly register highly in the football program’s annals.

Seemingly left for dead through three quarters of play, ASU was able to right itself and roar back to claim a monumental come-from-behind, final-gun 31-29 win over Ohio in the Raycom Media Camelia Bowl. The win was the first-ever in an FBS bowl for the Mountaineers, and came in their first-ever FBS postseason contest.

Entering the fourth quarter down 24-7, it appeared that first win might very well have to wait until next year at the earliest.

A lightning-quick 21-0 run in the first three minutes of the final stanza, however, pushed the Mountaineers out to their first lead since it was 7-3 late in the second quarter at 28-24.  Ohio, though, scored five points — safety with 6:06 left, 21-yard field goal with 1:47 remaining — to take a 29-28 lead.

That set the stage for some late-game heroics for App. St., with quarterback Taylor Lamb running for 32 yards to put the Mountaineers in field goal range with just under a minute remaining and Zach Matics, who missed his first two attempts in the game, hitting from 23 yards out as time expired to give ASU its historic win.

App. St. outgained Ohio 427-272, with running back Marcus Cox accounting for 162 yards of the Mountaineers’ 303 yards on the ground.

ASU finishes the 2015 season, its first as a full-fledged FBS member, at 11-2, with its two losses coming against top-ranked Clemson in Death Valley and 2015 Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State.  Ohio finished at 8-5, its best season since finishing the 2012 season at 9-4.

Late surge lifts Ohio to double-digit lead on App. St. in Camellia Bowl

MONTGOMERY, AL - DECEMBER 19: Wide receiver Malachi Jones #7 of the Appalachian State Mountaineers looks to maneuver by cornerback Ian Wells #41 of the Ohio Bobcats during the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl on December 19, 2015 at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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If you looked solely at the stat sheet through the first 28 minutes or so of the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, you would’ve sworn that Appalachian State had taken at least a two-touchdown lead on Ohio into the half.  What, though, was that famous Mark Twain quote regarding statistics?  And the one about it none being over until it’s over?

Despite what at one point was an overwhelming edge in nearly every first-half statistical category, the Sun Belt’s Mountaineers find themselves on the very wrong end of a 17-7 halftime score to the MAC’s Bobcats.  ASU is playing in an FBS bowl game for the first time, while Ohio is looking for its first bowl win since 2012.

The Mountaineers have an 186-111 edge in total offense, including 110-51 advantage on the ground.  The Bobcats have converted just one of their seven third-down attempts, and trailing in first downs 11-9.

However, ASU has missed a pair of field goal attempts (one from 42, the other from 39).  The real killers, though, were a pair of turnovers late.

With 1:23 left in the second quarter, and just eight seconds after Ohio got on the board for the first time with a field goal, Quentin Poling returned a Taylor Lamb pass 20 yards for a touchdown to give the Bobcats their first lead of the game at 10-7. Five plays later, a miscommunication between Lamb and his center resulted in a fumble that was recovered by the Bobcats; two plays after that, A.J. Ouellette put the ball in the end zone from seven yards out to account for the first-half score.

Add it all up, and it was a stunning 17-0 run in the final 1:31 of the half.  App. St., though, will get the chance to right things immediately as they will get the ball to start the second half.

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

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 25: head coach Trent Miles of the Georgia State Panthers walks on the sideliens in the second half against the Georgia Southern Eagles at the Georgia Dome on October 25, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 19 bowl menu, which on “opening weekend” features five bowl games as the 2015 postseason officially kicks off.  Included in that quintet of contests is one bowl making its debut, another in just its second year as well as the holiest of Beehive State wars.

WHO: Arizona (6-6) vs. New Mexico (7-5)
WHAT: The 10th Gildan New Mexico Bowl
WHERE: University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
WHEN: 2 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: The uncertainty over the availability of Arizona starting quarterback Anu Solomon (concussion) has some sportsbooks, including the one we use for lines, Bovada.lv, taking the game off the board.  If Solomon is healthy, the Wildcats would likely be double-digit favorites; without him, one could make a very good case for the Lobos.  In fact, the Wildcats went 0-3 in games that Solomon either didn’t start or didn’t finish because of injury.  Even with Solomon on the field for most of the last five games, though, UA still lost four of those.  UNM, meanwhile, comes into its first bowl berth since 2007 on a high, finishing out the season with wins over bowl-bound Utah State (6-6), Boise State (8-4) and Mountain Division champion Air Force (8-5).  The combination of how both teams finished the season, the uncertainty over Solomon and ‘Zona likely feeling underwhelmed with its postseason lot has a very motivated Lobos squad primed for an upset.
THE LINE: Off the board
THE PREDICTION: New Mexico 33, Arizona 27

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WHO: BYU (9-3) vs. Utah (9-3)
WHAT: The 24th Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium, Whitney, Nevada
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
THE SKINNY: This promises to be one of the best “non-marquee” bowl games of the 2015-16 cycle because not only are both teams coming into it with nine wins but because of the whole “Holy War” aspect, and in Sin City no less.  The two football programs have been on a sabbatical the last two seasons in a rivalry that’s seen 89 previous matchups, but will resume in the regular season beginning next season and running through 2020.  The Utes have won four straight in the series and nine of the last 12 meetings dating back to 2002.  The Cougars’ situation is somewhat muddled as their long-time head coach, Bronco Mendenhall, has accepted the same job at Virginia but will coach his “former” team in the bowl game.  After beginning the season 6-0 and with playoff talk dancing in their heads, the Utes muddled through the remainder of the schedule at 3-3.  Here’s to guessing the Cougars, winners of seven of their last eight, add to their rival’s late-season misery and send their old coach with off with his first bowl win since 2012 — especially if words can be used as motivation.
THE LINE: BYU, +3
THE PREDICTION: BYU 27, Utah 23

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WHO: Ohio (8-4) vs. Appalachian State (10-2)
WHAT: The 2nd Raycom Media Camelia Bowl
WHERE: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Alabama
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: There were 21 teams that won 10 or more games during the 2015 regular/championship season; I’d bet you could make some pretty decent coin regarding Appalachian State’s inclusion in that select group.  And ASU’s two losses this year came against top-ranked Clemson in Death Valley and 2015 Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State.  Ohio University, not to be confused with Brady Hoke‘s derisive “Ohio” directed at Ohio State, had a near-perfect start to the season at 5-1, with the only loss coming by three at Minnesota… before they lost three in a row (two by a combined 66 points)… before they regrouped to win their last three by a combined 49 points.  The Bobcats are looking for their first bowl win since 2012, while the Mountaineers are playing in their first bowl game as an FBS program.  ASU is a touchdown favorite… and even that might be a little on the short side.
THE LINE: Ohio, +7½
THE PREDICTION: Appalachian State 45, Ohio 24

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WHO: San Jose State (5-7) vs. Georgia State (6-6)
WHAT: The 1st Cure Bowl
WHERE: Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Florida
WHEN: 7 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network
THE SKINNY: If you like underdog stories, tune into this one.  Georgia State went 3-29 from the beginning of the 2013 (first FBS season) through the eighth game of the 2015 season.  The Panthers then ripped off four straight wins — by double digits in each, no less — to close out the year and reach a level 6-6 to become bowl-eligible.  GSU’s Nick Arbuckle, one of the most prolific quarterbacks you’ve probably never heard of, is currently sixth in the country in passing yards with 4,160.  Its head coach, Trent Miles (pictured), will very likely be one of the hot names on the 2016 spinning of the coaching carousel.  As for San Jose State?  I have zero desire to discuss a sub-.500 team that doesn’t deserve a bowl bid.  And this isn’t to pick on the Spartans; rather, this will be a running theme throughout these types of posts when it comes to 5-7 teams getting an unwarranted and undeserved invitation to the postseason. [/steps off soapbox]
THE LINE: Georgia State, +3
THE PREDICTION: Georgia State 31, San Jose State 21

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WHO: Arkansas State (9-3) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4)
WHAT: The 15th R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
WHEN: 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Arkansas State lost its first two games of the 2015 season (USC, Missouri) then won nine of its last 10 to become the first team in Sun Belt history to go unblemished in conference play.  Louisiana Tech features the potent one-two punch of former Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel (14th nationally in passing yards with 3,575, 26th in pass efficiency) and touchdown machine Kenneth Dixon (83 career scores, tied for second all-time among FBS players).  One thing to keep in mind if you’re the wagering type when it comes to Driskel’s success through the air this season: the Red Wolves are currently 95th nationally against the pass, giving up an average of 251.9 yards per game; Driskel was held under that number just twice in 2015.  ASU did intercept 26 passes this season (No. 1 in the country), and Driskel tossed three in a season-ending loss to Southern Miss, so there is that if you’re on the Red Wolves side.
THE LINE: Arkansas State, +2
THE PREDICTION: Louisiana Tech 48, Arkansas State 45

Behold: Your complete 2015-16 bowl schedule

C. J. Prosise
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Following today’s semifinal and New Year’s Six announcements, the full 2015-16 bowl schedule is now complete.

This year’s slate is ground-breaking — or, depending on how you view it, bone-headed — on a number of fronts: first, it’s the maiden voyage of CFP executive director Bill Hancock‘s grand vision to redefine New Year’s Eve in this country by holding the CFP semifinals on the biggest party night of the year. Second, this year’s schedule contains 41 games. And, related to that, it’s the first to send losing teams (conference championship-related exemptions excluded) to bowl games.

Regardless of how you feel about those aspects, the 2015-16 bowl slate is here, and we’ll all watch. The slate stretches from Dec. 19 to Jan. 11 — a total of 24 days — but 40 of the games are packed into 12 days between Dec. 19 and Jan. 2, taking off only for two NFL Sundays and Christmas. Prepare your remote — and your family — to be parked on ESPN for the foreseeable future.

As for the actual games: can I interest you in a renewal of the Holy War? What about a college football hipster’s delight in the Bowling Green spread vs. the Georgia Southern triple option? How about Trevon Boykin vs. Vernon Adams? Maybe a little Texas A&M rivalry renewal with… ah, forget it. The Aggies are headed to Nashville to face Louisville while Leonard Fournette plies his craft against FBS’s second-worst run defense in the Texas Bowl. All that and more, plus the previously announced CFP semifinals and New Year’s Six match-ups, can be found below.

Rankings are reflective of the final CFP top 25.

Saturday, Dec. 19
Gildan New Mexico Bowl (2 p.m. ET, ESPN): New Mexico vs. Arizona
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC): BYU vs. No. 22 Utah
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): Ohio vs. Appalachian State
AutoNation Cure Bowl (7 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network): Georgia State vs. San Jose State
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (8 p.m. ET, ESPN): Arkansas State vs. Louisiana Tech

Monday, Dec. 21
Miami Beach Bowl (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): South Florida vs. Western Kentucky

Tuesday, Dec. 22
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): Akron vs. Utah State
Marmot Boca Raton Bowl (7 p.m. ET, ESPN): Toledo vs. No. 24 Temple

Wednesday, Dec. 23
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): Northern Illinois vs. Boise State
GoDaddy Bowl (8 p.m. ET, ESPN): Bowling Green vs. Georgia Southern

Thursday, Dec. 24
Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (noon ET, ESPN): Western Michigan vs. Middle Tennessee
Hawai’i Bowl (8 p.m. ET, ESPN): Cincinnati vs. San Diego State

Saturday, Dec. 26
St. Petersburg Bowl (11 a.m. ET, ESPN): Marshall vs. Connecticut
Hyndai Sun Bowl (2 p.m. ET, CBS): Miami vs. Washington State
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas B0wl (2:20 p.m. ET, ESPNU): Southern Miss vs. Washington
New Era Pinstripe Bowl (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): Duke vs. Indiana
Camping World Independence Bowl (5:45 p.m. ET, ESPN): Virginia Tech vs. Tulsa
Foster Farms Bowl (9:15 p.m. ET, ESPN): UCLA vs. Nebraska

Monday, Dec. 28
Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): No. 21 Navy vs. Pittsburgh
Quick Lane Bowl (5 p.m. ET, ESPN): Central Michigan vs. Minnesota

Tuesday, Dec. 29
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (2 p.m. ET, ESPN): Air Force vs. California
Russell Athletic Bowl (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): No. 10 North Carolina vs. No. 17 Baylor
Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl (7:30 p.m. ET, Campus Insiders): Colorado State vs. Nevada
Advocare V100 Texas Bowl (9 p.m. ET, ESPN): Texas Tech vs. No. 20 LSU

Wednesday, Dec. 30
Birmingham Bowl (noon ET, ESPN): Auburn vs. Memphis
Belk Bowl (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): N.C. State vs. Mississippi State
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (7 p.m. ET, ESPN): Louisville vs. Texas A&M
National University Holiday Bowl (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): No. 25 USC vs. Wisconsin

Thursday, Dec. 31
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (noon ET, ESPN): No. 18 Houston vs. No. 9 Florida State
Capital One Orange Bowl (4 ET, ESPN): No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 1 Clemson
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic (8 ET, ESPN): No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 2 Alabama

Friday, Jan. 1
Outback Bowl (noon ET, ABC): Tennessee vs. No. 13 Northwestern
Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl (1 p.m. ET, ESPN2): No. 19 Florida vs. No. 14 Michigan
BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl (1 p.m. ET, ESPN): No. 8 Notre Dame vs. No. 7 Ohio State
Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual (5 p.m. ET, ESPN): No. 6 Stanford vs. No. 5 Iowa
Allstate Sugar Bowl (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): No. 16 Oklahoma State vs. No. 12 Ole Miss

Saturday, Jan. 2
TaxSlayer Bowl (noon ET, ESPN): Penn State vs. Georgia
AutoZone Liberty Bowl (3:20 p.m. ET, ESPN): Arkansas vs. Kansas State
Valero Alamo Bowl (6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN): No. 15 Oregon vs. No. 11 TCU
Cactus Bowl (10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN): Arizona State vs. West Virginia

Monday, Jan. 11
College Football Playoff Championship Game presented by AT&T (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): Oklahoma/Clemson vs. Michigan State/Alabama