Minnesota vs. Texas Tech
Fri., Dec. 28 – 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Houston – Reliant Stadium
There ain’t much momentum headed to Houston.
After a fortuitous start, Minnesota (6-6) has won only two games since Sept. 22. (If you correctly guessed that those victories came at the expense of Purdue and Illinois, you do not deserve a prize.)
Similarly, Texas Tech (7-5) opened 4-0 before starting to slide. The Red Raiders wrapped up the regular season by losing four of the their final five, which is actually worse than it sounds since that lone victory down the stretch was a 41-34 overtime affair at home against Kansas (1-11).
Just about the only thing that would make this matchup watchable is if history were guaranteed to repeat itself.
At the 2006 Insight Bowl, the Golden Gophers spectacularly squandered a 38-7 lead in a 44-41 overtime loss to the Red Raiders.
The prospect of the current Minnesota squad putting 38 points on the board is extremely remote. The punchless Gophers have scored more than 17 points only four times this season (against UNLV, New Hampshire, Western Michigan and Purdue).
Texas Tech, which will be led by interim coach/offensive line coach Chris Thomsen, has its own set of issues, but scoring isn’t one of them. The Red Raiders average 37.8 points per game, powered by the precise passing of Seth Doege.
Opening point spread: Texas Tech by 13
The pick: Texas Tech 37-19
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Georgia Tech defensive tackle Brandon Adams has died, the program announced on Sunday. He passed Saturday in Atlanta, though no other details are known at this time. He was 21 years old.
“On behalf of the entire Georgia Tech athletics family, I offer my deepest condolences to Brandon’s family and friends, including his past and present coaches, and his brothers in the Georgia Tech football family,” Georgia Tech AD Todd Stansbury said in a statement. “As we mourn the loss of such an incredible young life, we are also here to support Brandon’s family and friends, his past and present coaches and his brothers within the Georgia Tech football family in any way that we can. Please join us in keeping Brandon and everyone who loved him in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
A rising senior, Adams (middle) played in 33 games in three seasons as a Yellow Jacket, including all 24 of the team’s games over the past two seasons. Adams started three games as a junior in 2018 and collected a career-high 24 tackles, five TFLs, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery while playing primarily at nose tackle. He was named a player to watch for Georgia Tech’s spring practices by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Saturday.
“Just getting out there and playing,” former teammate Anree Saint-Amour told the paper. “He put more downs together. I feel like he was more in shape, he was using his hands more. I feel like he figured out how dominant he was.”
A native of Brentwood, Tenn., and a graduate of Brentwood Academy, Adams was a business administration major and interned for the Georgia Tech Research Institute last summer.
“Our entire Georgia Tech football family is heartbroken by the news of Brandon’s passing,” said Yellow Jackets head coach Geoff Collins. “In the short time that I have had the privilege and honor of knowing Brandon, I admired and respected him, first and foremost as a terrific human being, but also as an outstanding teammate and leader. Jennifer and I offer our thoughts, prayers and unconditional support to his parents, Lisa and Reginald, his sister, Rian, and all of his family and friends, especially his brothers in our football program.”
Unless I’m missing someone, the coaches that have spoken out about the glut of high-profile transfer waivers that have been approved lately are all against them. Florida Atlantic’s Lane Kiffin said just one day ago that players are transferring because it’s “sexy” and now TCU’s Gary Patterson has cannonballed into the pool with some strong comments of his own.
“I want the names of all those people [at the NCAA] that are deciding to do that, so everybody knows their names when they ruin the game,” Patterson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I don’t care if there’s lawyers involved. I don’t care if any of that’s involved. The bottom line to it is we need to do what’s best for the game.
Patterson’s point, and it’s not necessarily a wrong one, is that coaches who believe tough love is the best way to mold players — i.e. Gary Patterson — will then see all their players leave before that love can appropriately toughen them up.
“After they get away from here, as a general rule, they come back as they mature and understand, they figure out what we were trying to do and accomplish,” Patterson said. “If you can’t go through that process with a young man, and grow them up just like a parent does, then we’re cheating them to be honest with you. That’s my personal opinion about it.”
The good news for Patterson and his ilk: if free agency is truly here, it’s likely not here for long. The NCAA announced last month it will take another look at its loosened transfer protocol, and it’s unlikely you’d make such an announcement if you planned on loosening those restrictions even more.
North Carolina cornerback KJ Sails, Jr., is sailing away from Chapel Hill and voyaging toward a new destination.
The Tampa native on Friday announced he will enter his name onto the transfer portal for his final collegiate season. “Thank you to my Carolina family for giving me the opportunity to play the game that I love this is a great school and I will forever love the university,” he wrote in an iPhone note posted to his Twitter account. “My family and I have decided that it is best for me to seek other opportunities.”
After playing sparingly as a true freshman in 2016, Sails started 11 games for the Tar Heels in 2017, collecting 30 tackles while ranking ninth in the ACC with 13 pass break-ups.
He started three games in four appearances in 2018, but an injury knocked him out for the remainder of the year.
Given that he played in only four games, Sails can use last season as a redshirt and play a second senior season elsewhere in 2019, provided he receives a waiver or graduates from North Carolina.
Cornerback Benjamin St-Juste was not listed on Michigan’s spring roster, and there’s a reason for that. St-Juste has medically retired from football, the program confirmed to the Detroit Free Press.
A 4-star recruit from Quebec, St-Juste appeared in 12 games as a redshirt freshman, primarily on special teams.
He suffered a hamstring injury ahead of the 2018 campaign and did not see any game action. With a similar prognosis ahead of him for 2019, St-Juste has decided to hang up his cleats for good.