CFT Previews: TaxSlayer Bowl

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WHO: Georgia (9-3) vs. Penn State (7-5)
WHAT: The 71st TaxSlayer Bowl
WHERE: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Florida
WHEN: 12:00 pm ET, January 2 on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Georgia and Penn State may not bring the best offenses to Jacksonville, but they sure do have some solid defenses. That should make for a scrappy game on both sides of the field, and it might be a bit of a sloppy one too.

Georgia made it to Jacksonville undergoing a coaching transition. With Mark Richt let go (and since being hired by Miami; Georgia has since hired Alabama defensive cooridnator Kirby Smart, who is sticking with the Crimson Tide through the national championship game), the Georgia preparations have had to be done under interim head coach Bryan McClendon as the entire staff undergoes some changes. What that means for the execution and preparedness of the Bulldogs remains to be seen. Also, what will the morale of the team be like? One thing viewers should count on is seeing Georgia linebacker Jake Ganus lead the defense. The former UAB linebacker landed at Georgia after the UAB program temporarily shut down at the end of last season, and he quickly made an impact in Athens and earned the respect of his teammates. Ganus was voted a team MVP this season and a chance to play in a bowl game after UAB was left without an invitation last season will not be taken lightly. Ganus will be extra important because Georgia will be without Davin Bellamy due to a leg practice suffered in practice this week.

When it comes to defense, this is where Penn State typically shines as well, although there have been some games where the defense has been gassed. The extra time off to regropup and recuperate from a brutal end to the season could come in handy for Penn State. Award-winning pass rusher Carl Nassib will lead the defensive front for Penn State against a shaky at best Georgia offense. Nassib, Anthony Zettel and Austin Johnson will first try to shut down any running lanes Georgia will try to expose. If Penn State can take away the running game, that puts the pressure on Georgia’s unreliable passing game. Of course, Penn State has their own concerns with passing stability with hot and cold Christian Hackenberg playing behind a shaky offensive line.

Both teams bring talented young 1,000-yard running backs to the game as well. Georgia sophomroe Sony Michel (1,076 rushing yards, 7 TDs) has become Georgia’s go-to back while Penn State freshman Saquon Barkley (1,007 rushing yards, 7 TDs) has turned in quite an impressive debut season.

THE PREDICTION: Georgia 23, Penn State 20

MAC cancels contest between Buffalo Bulls and Kent State Golden Flashes

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Snowmageddon 2014 will prevent all of us from enjoying more MACtion.

With the city of Buffalo completely snowed over and suffering from blizzard conditions, a college football contest became a secondary concern.

The MAC announced Thursday that the meeting between the Kent State Golden Flashes and the Buffalo Bulls, which was originally scheduled for Wednesday, has been cancelled.

The two sides hoped to play Friday, but the conference decided the game will not be rescheduled.

“Despite the best efforts of all involved, it will not be feasible to play the football game between Kent State and Buffalo on Friday,” MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said in a statement. “The game has been cancelled and will not be rescheduled. The safety of the student-athletes and fans is paramount. We want to be respectful of the efforts of the emergency service personnel in the Buffalo area who are working to assist those in need.”

The two teams will finish their seasons under revised schedules. Both teams will play their final games on Friday, Nov. 28. Kent State will face the rival Akron Zips at Dix Stadium, while Buffalo will travel to Amherst, Mass. to challenge the UMass Minutemen.

Bearish on No. 8 Baylor after victory over Buffalo Bulls

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The Baylor Bears are off to yet another fast start.

No matter what Art Briles‘ squad is doing, it’s operating at a breakneck pace. The Buffalo Bulls were the latest team to fall to the Bears’ overwhelming offense. Baylor racked up 669 total yards of offense on its way to a 63-21 victory.

Baylor’s win isn’t necessarily impressive nor is it the biggest story to come out of the game.

The Bears scored at least 69 points in four of their first five games last season. What the Bears are doing at the beginning of this season by beating opponents by a score of 178-27 isn’t impressive anymore.

The Bulls should actually be encouraged by their performance after the first two teams on Baylor’s schedule only managed six total points. Buffalo was able to move the ball and accumulated 394 yards of offense.

Baylor, meanwhile, will be content with the performance of their quarterback Bryce Petty, who is still dealing with a pair of cracked vertebrae in his lower back. Petty didn’t play last week against Northwestern State. The senior quarterback rebounded with a strong effort against the Bulls. Petty was 23-of-34 passing for 416 yards and four touchdowns.

Petty continues to benefit from Baylor’s talent at wide receiver. Three different targets had at least 123 receiving yards. Freshman K.D. Cannon stole the show with his 189-yard performance. Jay Lee added 136 yards, while Lynx Hawthorne accumulated 123 more.

But the problem for Baylor isn’t their travel plans as they return to Waco, Texas from Buffalo, N.Y. with an easy victory in hand. The Bears’ schedule continues to be a problem. A decisive win against the Bulls does very little to promote Baylor as one of the top programs in the nation.

It’s only Sept. 12, yet Baylor is already trying to overcome the perception it doesn’t play anyone this season outside of the Big 12 Conference. And the program doesn’t.

For the Bears to be in legitimate consideration as one of the four semi-finalists in the first College Football Playoff, they will have to run the table while continuing to win games in impressive fashion as they did against Buffalo.

Halftime: Baylor’s freshman WR is the program’s newest star

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As Baylor’s offense continues to dazzle, an overlooked aspect of the Bears’ program is its depth. It’s group of wide receivers is as deep as any in the country.

No. 8 Baylor leads the Buffalo Bulls at halftime 35-0, and the Bears offense continues to play at an extremely high level even without its top receivers in the lineup.

Freshman K.D. Cannon is quickly developing into a superstar. Cannon has five receptions for 171 yards, which includes a dynamic 89-yard touchdown reception. Cannon entered the game ranked sixth in the country with 282 receiving yards. His performance Friday night will take him into the weekend as the nation’s leader in receiving yardage.

Cannon isn’t the only receiver playing at a high level for Baylor.

Junior Jay Lee also has five receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty has completed passes to five different targets for 329 yards and pair of touchdown tosses.

The Bears aren’t expected to let up in the second half.

Baylor head coach Art Briles said at halftime, “We don’t feel we have a big lead.”

Buffalo, meanwhile, has 78 total yards of offense.

Expect the Bears’ wide receivers to continue padding their stats in the second half, and there isn’t much Buffalo can do to stop Baylor.