Predictions 101 — Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas

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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

Click HERE to get predictions for the remaining bowl games.

Academics force App State’s Jermaine McDaniel to take sabbatical

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A familiar face in Appalachian State’s defensive line rotation early on in the season hasn’t been seen around of late, and now we know why.

Following practice Tuesday, Scott Satterfield confirmed that Jermaine McDaniel has left the football team as he focuses on getting his academic house in order.  The head coach did, though, leave the door open for the defensive end to return — if he decides to return to the sport.

“Well, No. 1, I love Jermaine,” Satterfield said according to the Winston-Salem Journal. “Awesome player for us. He just wants to focus on academics, and I’ll support him and whatever his decision is.

“That’s what he wanted to do, so we’ll just support him and wish him well finishing his academics and whatever career he decides to go into.”

The redshirt freshman played in the first six games of the 2018 season, recording a pair of sacks in that span.  However, he saw action in just one of the last four.

Despite missing all of that action, his two sacks are still tied for third on the Mountaineers.

2017 finalist Jonathan Taylor headlines Doak Walker Award semifinalists

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Not surprisingly, Jonathan Taylor will get another crack at claiming a piece of running back hardware.

Early Wednesday afternoon, Taylor was announced as one of the 10 semifinalists for the 2018 Doak Walker Award.  The Wisconsin sophomore was one of the three finalists for the 2017 award won by Stanford’s Bryce Love.  Despite the fact that Love returned for another season,  he’s not one of this year’s semifinalists as nagging injuries have hampered the senior all season long.

The nation’s top four backs in terms of rushing yards are represented, including Taylor (first, 1548 yards), Memphis’ Darrell Henderson (second, 1,446), Arizona State’s Eno Benjamin (third, 1,295) and Arizona’s J.J. Taylor (1,221).  Two others in the Top Ten — FAU’s Devin Singletary (sixth, 1,169), Texas A&M’s Trayveon Williams (eighth, 1,159) — are included as well.

The other four to make the cut are Kentucky’s Benny Snell (11th, 1,089), Clemson’s Travis Etienne (13th, 1,076), Michigan’s Karan Higdon (18th, 1,005) and Boston College’s AJ Dillon (24th, 936).  Dillon moves up to ninth in yards per game (117) as he’s battled a leg injury for the last few weeks.

Higdon is the only senior in the group, while Benjamin, Dillon, Etienne and both Taylors are sophomores.  The other four are juniors.

Walter Camp Award announces 15 semifinalists

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An award that many consider the second-most prestigious in the sport has further narrowed the field of players who can claim this year’s honor.

Wednesday, the Walter Camp Foundation announced its 15 “Players to Watch,” essentially semifinalists, for its prestigious Player of the Year Award. The Walter Camp Award is voted on by the 130 FBS head coaches/sports information directors and is the fourth-oldest award in the sport.

“It’s been another exciting college football season with many teams and players still in the hunt for national recognition,” Camp Foundation president Michael Madera said in a statement. “We’ve identified some outstanding players and we know the final weeks of the regular season should be even more thrilling.”

Top-ranked Alabama is the only team with two semifinalists — quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and defensive lineman Quinnen Williams.  UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton and Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor are the only 2017 semifinalists to make the cut this year.

The 2017 Walter Camp Award winner was Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Josh Allen, Senior, Linebacker, Kentucky
Deandre Baker, Senior, Defensive Back, Georgia
Devin Bush, Junior, Linebacker, Michigan
Travis Etienne, Sophomore, Running Back, Clemson
Will Grier, Senior, Quarterback, West Virginia
Dwayne Haskins, Junior, Quarterback, Ohio State
Darrell Henderson, Junior, Running Back, Memphis
Trace McSorley, Senior, Quarterback, Penn State
McKenzie Milton, Junior, Quarterback, UCF
Gardner Minshew, Senior, Quarterback, Washington State
Kyler Murray, Junior, Quarterback, Oklahoma
Tua Tagovailoa, Sophomore, Quarterback, Alabama
Jonathan Taylor, Sophomore, Running Back, Wisconsin
Jerry Tillery, Senior, Defensive Tackle, Notre Dame
Quinnen Williams, Sophomore, Nose Guard, Alabama

Knee injury to sideline UConn RB Zavier Scott until next summer

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A rather significant injury will cost one playing member of the UConn football program more than just the rest of this year.

Randy Edsall confirmed Tuesday that Zavier Scott is set to undergo season-ending knee surgery on Friday.  According to the head coach, the running back suffered tears to his MCL and PCL in last Saturday’s loss to SMU.

Not only will Scott be sidelined for the last two games of the regular season, but he’s also already been ruled out for spring practice as well.  Edsall expects the redshirt freshman to be healthy enough to participate in summer camp next year.

Scott is currently third on the Huskies with 194 yards on the ground.  Where they’ll arguably miss him the most is in the passing game as his 33 receptions coming out of the backfield are tops on the team.

Scott’s injury continues the spate of attrition at the position for the Huskies over the last couple of months.

In early August, Nate Hopkins, who led the Huskies in rushing touchdowns in 2017, decided to leave the football team.  Two weeks later, Donevin O’Reilly, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship over the summer and was on track to be the No. 1 running back, was lost to a season-ending ACL injury.  In late September, freshman Khyon Gillespie went down with his own ACL injury in the loss to Syracuse.

Quarterback David Pindell is the Huskies’ leading rusher with 1,118 yards.  Kevin Mensah has taken over as the lead back and is second on the team with 860 yards.  Those two have accounted for all 16 of UConn’s rushing touchdowns this season, with Pindell leading the way with 10.