CFT Previews: The Boca Raton Bowl

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WHO: Northern Illinois (11-2) vs. Marshall (12-1)

WHAT: The inaugural Boca Raton Bowl

WHERE: FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Florida

WHEN: 6:00 p.m. ET Dec. 23 on ESPN

THE SKINNY: The brand new Boca Raton Bowl has quite the match-up of non-power conference champions. The champions of Conference USA (Marshall) and the MAC (Northern Illinois) should provide for a good, quality game. For Marshall, it may be one last attempt to prove itself to be the top non-power conference champion after passed over by Boise State for a spot in the New Years Six line-up. Marshall and NIU combined for a record of 23-3 this season.

Marshall’s offense centers around the veteran quarterback Rakeem Cato. Cato should be able to find his targets — Tommy Shuler and Davonte Allen are his top two receivers — against NIU’s secondary, which ranks 64th in the nation in pass defense. Cato may have to extend some plays with his feet though, as NIU should be expected to bring pressure in the backfield. NIU recorded 30 sacks this season, but they go up against a Marshall offensive line that has done well in protecting their quarterback. Cato may have to extend some plays with his feet at times. Fortunately for the Conference USA champions and head coach Doc Holliday, this is something Cato does well. Cato has rushed for 457 yards and six touchdowns this season.

Marshall went 3-0 against the MAC this season with wins against Miami, Ohio and Akron, but NIU will be the biggest test for the Thundering Herd. NIU started the season off a little bit on a slow note as they looked to replace Jordan Lynch, but the Huskies ended the season hitting their stride at a very good time. Drew Hare has come along as a dual-threat player under center, but the running game is powered mostly by Cameron Stingily, a tough and physical back with the ability to wear down Marshall’s defense.

Marshall has won three straight bowl games dating back to 2009. The Huskies of NIU are looking to snap a two-game losing streak in postseason bowl action. Head coach Rod Carey is 0-2 in bowl games, including one Orange Bowl loss to Florida State in an interim role at the end of the 2012 season after Dave Doeren left the Huskies for NC State.

THE PREDICTION: NIU 34, Marshall 31

For Chase Brice, USF would make for a familiar landing spot

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When it comes to Chase Brice and his future, it’s time to play connect the post-Clemson dots.

Thursday night, Brice confirmed on Twitter that he will be transferring from the Tigers and continuing his collegiate career elsewhere. Brice has spent the past two seasons as the backup to Trevor Lawrence, who will be entering his third, and presumably last, season as Clemson’s starting quarterback.

As for a potential landing spot, LSU makes sense on some level as the reigning national champions will be looking to replace Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow. Making even more sense would be USF, if familiarity means anything.

Dec. 9, it was confirmed that Jeff Scott would be the next head coach at USF. Scott, of course, spent the previous 11 seasons with the Tigers before coming to the Bulls. The last five of those seasons, he was the team’s co-offensive coordinator.

Because of that built-in relationship, the speculation is already mounting that USF will be the grad transfer’s landing spot.

Even before he opted to transfer, though, there were rumors connecting the redshirt sophomore to Scott’s new school.

“I hear things too. I’m like, ‘Where did y’all hear that from? I didn’t say it.’ I’m really just focused on this game Saturday and being committed to the team,” Brice said in late December, ahead of the playoff semifinal matchup with Ohio State. “It’s funny because we don’t have social media. We can’t post. It’s just perception and ideas pop in people’s heads.”

Brice was a three-star 2017 signee.

In two seasons on the Tigers’ active roster, Brice went 75-of-124 for 896 yards with nine touchdowns against four interceptions while adding another 179 rushing yards. He memorably saved Clemson’s 2018 national championship run, stepping in for an injured Lawrence in the game immediately following Kelly Bryant‘s midseason departure, leading the Tigers from a 23-13 fourth-quarter deficit to a 27-23 win over Syracuse.

As he will play for his next school as a graduate transfer, Brice will have two seasons of eligibility to use wherever he lands.

In wake of Odell Beckham kerfuffles, CFP to review sideline, locker room access policies

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Odell Beckham may have just ruined it for everybody.  Or, at the very least, curtailed it for most everybody.

Monday night, LSU beat Clemson for its first national championship since 2007.  Odell Beckham, a former star wide receiver with the Tigers, was on the sidelines for the game.  And on the field and postgame locker room as well.

And that’s where the trouble began.

Beckham appeared to hand cash to at least two LSU football players on the field after the game; LSU is looking into the situation.  Beckham appeared to slap the ass of a police officer in the postgame locker room; a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

In the wake of all of that, College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock has confirmed that his group will review its sideline access policies for both the semifinals and title games.

“Being on the sidelines is a privilege,” Hancock told USA Today. “Along with any privilege comes responsibility, because the focus should be on the people playing and coaching in the game, rather than on any visitors. The CFP will be reviewing its policy for allowing guests onto the sidelines and into locker rooms at future games.”

Kudos, Odell Beckham.  At least you got the attention you so desperately crave.

Doesn’t matter that you’re taking the spotlight away from the players at your alma mater who just put up a historic season, right?  As it’s always been, it’s all about you. That’s all that matters.

Sleep well, basking in the knowledge that it’s (almost) all about you.  Not the team that won a title that you didn’t.

Leading rusher at FCS level declares for 2020 NFL Draft

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For the first time this year here at Ye Olde CFT, there’s an FCS player involved in a 2020 NFL Draft declaration.

On Twitter this week, Pete Guerriero announced that he will be foregoing his fifth year of eligibility and entering the 2020 NFL Draft. Guerriero said he came to his decision “after careful consideration [and] speaking with family and the people close to me.”

“This has been a dream of mine since I was a child and I look forward to what’s to come,” the Monmouth running back wrote.

This season, Guerriero led all FCS players with a school-record 1,995 yards rushing. He also set an FCS playoff record with a 93-yard touchdown run in a loss to James Madison this past postseason.

Guerriero came in third in the voting for the 2019 Walter Payton Trophy, the FCS equivalent of the Heisman. He was also a consensus All-American and two-time first-team all-conference honoree.

Guerriero will finish his collegiate playing career with 3,974 yards and 35 touchdowns on 610 attempts (6.5 yards per carry). The 5-10, 190-pound back also caught 69 passes for 551 yards and another three touchdowns coming out of the backfield.

“The impact he’s had been on our program has been tremendous,” said Monmouth head coach Kevin Callahan. “His explosiveness and big-play ability and game production has helped to get us where are as a team and a program, and because of it we’re appreciative and support [his] decision.”

Former four-star Oklahoma LB Levi Draper enters transfer portal

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It appears the Oklahoma Sooners football team will have some depth in its linebacking corps pared.

Thursday, it was reported that Levi Draper is entering his name into the NCAA transfer database, the first step in leaving OU.  An Oklahoma Sooners football official subsequently confirmed that Draper will be entering the portal.

The linebacker’s time in Norman hasn’t officially come to an end, however, as he could always pull his name from the portal and return.

A four-star member of Oklahoma’s 2017 recruiting class, Draper was rated as the No. 5 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in the state of Oklahoma.  On the 247Sports.com composite, he was the No. 118 prospect overall.  Only three signees in the Sooners’ class that year were rated higher than Draper.

Injuries helped lead to Draper take a redshirt as a true freshman.  The past two seasons, Draper played in 28 games.  Most of that action came on special teams.

When Draper does find a new school, it should be as a graduate transfer.  That would then leave him with two years of eligibility to use.

Draper is one of a handful of Sooners who have entered the portal of late. From the school’s student newspaper:

This is the second Sooner linebacker to enter the portal in the last two days, as Ryan Jones reportedly entered it on Wednesday. Along with the two linebackers, wide receiver Mykel Jones, safety Ty DeArman, defensive linemen Coby Tillman and Troy James will all be transferring.

It’s not all attrition at OU, however. Earlier this week, the program confirmed the addition of UCLA transfer wide receiver Theo Howard.  The receiver was honorable mention All-Pac-12 in 2018.

Howard graduated from UCLA in December, giving him immediate eligibility at OU this coming season.