CFT Previews: Your Dec. 26 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 26 bowl menu, which features two teams each from the ACC and Big Ten, the first time those two conferences have taken part in the 2014-15 postseason

WHO: Illinois (6-6) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-5)
WHAT: The 4th Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl
WHERE: The Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Tex.
WHEN: 1 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Illinois saved its season — and likely head coach Tim Beckman‘s job — by winning its last two games to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2011, the year prior to Beckman’s arrival.  Louisiana Tech is also playing in a bowl game for the first time since 2011, and the first time under second-year head coach Skip Holtz.  The first month of the season, though, it didn’t look like Tech would reach the postseason as the Bulldogs stumbled out of the gate at 2-3; they righted the listing ship over the last two months, however, as they closed out a 6-2 run to end the season with a Conference USA West division title and a spot in the league title game.  Those two losses to close out the season, incidentally, were by a total of six points — on the road in overtime against Old Dominion (30-27) and against Marshall (26-23) in the conference championship game.  One thing to note about the Illini: they went 4-3 with quarterback Wes Lunt starting and 2-3 when he didn’t start.  On the bowl depth chart, however, the quarterback position is listed as Reilly O’Toole or Lunt, in that order.  Another thing about the Illini, which doesn’t bode well for the Big Ten school: they were 109th in points allowed per game (33.9), while the Bulldogs were 13th in scoring offense (37.5 ppg).
THE LINE: Illinois, +6
THE PREDICTION: Louisiana Tech 41, Illinois 27

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WHO: Rutgers (7-5) vs. North Carolina (6-6)
WHAT: The inaugural Quick Lane Bowl
WHERE: Ford Field, Detroit, Mich.
WHEN: 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: In games that Gary Nova has thrown fewer than two interceptions, Rutgers is 26-7 since 2011.  In games that Nova has thrown two or more interceptions, RU has gone 2-10, with the last of those wins coming in November of 2012.  North Carolina, meanwhile, was 49th in the country and fourth in the ACC with 12 picks during the regular season.  After jumping out to a 5-1 mark in their first season in the Big Ten, the Scarlet Knights stumbled to the regular-season finish line with a 2-4 record, with all four of those losses coming by at least 18 points and three of them coming by 20-plus.  The bad news for RU?  They’re 92nd in the country in points allowed per game (30.9), while UNC is 36th in scoring offense (33.8 ppg).  The good news for RU?  UNC’s defense is even worse, finishing the regular season 119th in points allowed (38.9 ppg).  Even worse for the Tar Heels, they’re 105th in passing yards (263.5 ypg) and have given up 34 or more points in eight of their 12 games this season.  In other words, this has all the makings of a good old-fashioned postseason shootout, one that would bring back memories of the old BYU Holiday Bowl appearances from years gone by.
THE LINE: Rutgers, +3
THE PREDICTION: Rutgers 48, North Carolina 45

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WHO: North Carolina State (7-5) vs. UCF (9-3)
WHAT: The 7th Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl
WHERE: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.
WHEN: 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: If you find defensive football soothing to your palate, this bowl game has the potential to be extremely soothing, especially when it comes to the AAC representative.  UCF is ninth in the country in points per game allowed at 17.9, while North Carolina State is a middling T-68th (27 ppg).  In three of their last four games — all wins, incidentally –the Knights allowed a total of 14 points.  Neither offense figures to offer much resistance as NCSU finished the regular season 61st in scoring (29.8 ppg) and UCF finished 71st (28.2 ppg).  Since losing its first two games of the season to Penn State and Missouri, UCF reeled off wins in nine of their last 10 games.  NCSU, after winning its first four games, went 3-5 in the last two-thirds of the season, although they close out by winning three of four to become bowl-eligible for the first time under second-year head coach Dave Doeren.  UCF is currently riding a three-game bowl winning streak after losing the first three postseason games in the football program’s history, with each of those wins coming by double-digit margins.  The player to watch offensively is NCSU’s Jacoby Brissett, a dual-threat quarterback who posted nearly 3,000 yards of offense (2,344 passing, 498 rushing) and 25 touchdowns.  Arguably the most impressive part about the Florida transfer’s season is that he threw just five interceptions in 344 attempts, the third-fewest picks in the country, behind USC’s Cody Kessler (4, 413) and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota (2, 372), among the 62 quarterbacks who attempted at least 340 passes.  UCF, though, was tied for ninth in the country with 18 interceptions.
THE LINE: North Carolina State, +2
THE PREDICTION: UCF 20, North Carolina State 13

Rutgers adds another Big Ten transfer with former Wolverine Michael Dwumfour

Michigan Wolverines football
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New Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano has been tapping the transfer portal to help build the roster in his first year back with the Scarlet Knights. On Monday, Rutgers added another Big Ten transfer to the program with the addition of defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour. Dwumfour transfers to Rutgers from Michigan.

Schiano confirmed the latest addition to the program on his Twitter account.

Dwumfour will be a graduate transfer, so he will be eligible right away for Rutgers this upcoming season. Dwumfour played 33 games for the Wolverines, including 10 game sin 2019 with four starts. He will provide an instant upgrade to the Rutgers defensive line depth and should be thrown right into the mix for a starting job this fall.

Notably, Dwumfour is a New Jersey native. Schiano’s hiring at Rutgers has certainly had a bit of an initial impact in luring some of the state’s and regional recruits on the transfer market. Earlier this month, Rutgers welcomed Brooklyn, New York product and former Wisconsin wide receiver Aron Cruickshank (HERE).

Miami gets its QB with ex-Houston dual-threat D’Eriq King as grad transfer

Former Houston quarterback D'Eriq King is heading to Miami.
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A day later, D’Eriq King is officially committed to the Miami Hurricanes. King brought his transfer process to a close on Monday afternoon with an announcement he is indeed committed to Miami. King shared the news with his followers on Twitter.

On Sunday, it was initially reported by Manny Navarro of The Athletic that King was scheduled to enroll and begin classes at Miami this week. Classes at Miami begin Tuesday. However, a quote of King relayed by a Houston-based media report shortly afterward quoted King as saying he had made no final decision and was still weighing some possible options. Other options were said to include Arkansas, LSU, and Maryland.

Miami was reported early on as a possible landing spot for King, along with Arkansas. Ole Miss had also been mentioned as an option early on. King initially started his transfer process by opting to redshirt the remainder of the 2019 season after a rough start to the year for the Cougars. He said at the time he had every intent on returning to the program in 2020, but his sudden announcement during the national championship game last week made it evident he was moving on. And now, of course, he has.

King appeared in just four games for Houston last season. In those four games, King passed for 663 yards and six touchdowns with two interceptions. The dual-threat quarterback also rushed for 313 yards and six touchdowns before redshirting the remainder of the 2019 season. In 11 game sin 2018, King passed for 2,982 yards and 36 touchdowns and rushed for 674 yards and 14 touchdowns. King is certainly a quality talent that will add to the Miami offense and inject some new life into the program. With the right help around him, King could help make Miami an ACC Coastal contender in 2020.

King will be eligible for Miami in 2020 as a graduate transfer.

Maryland RB Lorenzo Harrison III medically retires from football

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Maryland running back Lorenzo Harrison III announced he is medically retiring from football. In a statement shared on his Twitter account on Monday afternoon, Harrison cited his history with knee trouble as a reason he is stepping away from playing football moving forward.

“[During] the last game I competed in, I suffered a severe knee injury,” Harrison explained. “Due to those circumstances which are far out of my control, I believe it is in my best interest to convert my focus from ball to the next great thing God has in store for me. With that being said, I am medically retiring from the game that has given me everything I could ever ask for.”

The last game Harrison played was on Sept. 27, 2019 at home against Penn State. In Maryland’s 59-0 loss to the Nittany Lions, Harrison had one rushing attempt for an eight-yard gain. It is in that game Harrison says his knee injury was suffered.

Harrison’s final two seasons in a Maryland uniform saw injuries get in the way of keeping him on the field and a part of the offense. Harrison rushed for 633 yards in 2017 and 622 yards in 2018 before being held to just 84 yards in 2018 and 70 yards in 2019 in a combined total of five games the last two years.

Report: Graham Harrell expected to stay at USC after interviewing for NFL job

USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell is expected to remain with the Trojans after interviewing with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles.
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USC head coach Clay Helton may not have to worry about finding a new offensive coordinator for the second striaght offseason. USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell is expected to stay with the Trojans after interviewing for a job in the NFL, according to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic (via Twitter).

It was reported last week the Philadelphia Eagles were set to interview Harrell about their vacancy at offensive coordinator. Whether the Eagles or Harrell decided the fit wasn’t right is unknown at this time, but it is good news for USC either way.

Last year, USC lost offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury to a head coaching opportunity with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. Kingsbury’s stay in USC was brief, as he took the job as an offensive coordinator after being let go as head coach at Texas Tech earlier in the offseason. USC replaced Kingsbury with the hiring of Harell from North Texas. Last month, USC locked in Harrell to a multi-year extension in hopes of keeping Harrell from accepting any other position with another program. Texas reportedly had been interested in adding Harrell to its coaching staff in Austin.