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

Kansas JUCO the landing spot for Oregon transfer LB Ge’mon Eaford

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An erstwhile member of the Oregon football program has decided on a new collegiate home.  And at a much lower level of the sport.

According to James Crepea of The Oregonian, Ge’mon Eaford has elected to transfer to Fort Scott Community College in the great state of Kansas.  An Oregon football official subsequently confirmed that the linebacker left the Ducks for the JUCO.

Crepea wrote that Eaford “left Oregon to return to his native Deerfield Beach, Florida two weeks ago [and] posted several cryptic messages to Instagram alluding to playing in Kansas.” It’s expected that Eaford will spend the 2020 season (if there is one) at that level before moving back to the FBS.

Eaford was a four-star member of the Oregon football Class of 2019. The Sunshine State native was the No. 10 outside linebacker in the country on the 247Sports.com composite.  Only three defensive signees in the Ducks’ 26-man class that year were rated higher than Eaford.

As a true freshman, Eaford appeared in 10 games.  Most of that action, though, came on special teams.  He did, however, see 28 snaps on defense and was credited with a tackle in that limited action.

Eaford is one of the few Ducks who have flown the Oregon football coop the past few months.  Running back Darrian Felix opted to enter the NCAA transfer database following the Pac-12 championship game last year.  He transferred to USF, where he was granted immediate eligibility.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott tests positive for COVID-19

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It was quite the eventful day for the Pac-12 on the news front.  Not exactly the kind of headlines the conference wants, though.  At all.

Earlier this evening, the Pac-12 announced that, like the Big Ten, it will be going with a conference-only schedule for fall sports, including football.  Not long after, the conference announced that its commissioner, Larry Scott, has tested positive for COVID-19.

After experiencing mild flu-like symptoms late this week and out of an abundance of caution, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott was tested for COVID-19.  The test for Commissioner Scott came back positive, and as a result he is self-quarantining at the direction of his physician.  Commissioner Scott is continuing to carry on his duties remotely as normal.

The 55-year-old Scott took over as the commissioner of the conference in July of 2009.  Prior to that, he was the chairman and CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association.

His current contract is set to expire in 2022.  However, there is talk that league leaders are discussing buying out Scott’s contract prior to that.

There’s serious talk amongst the Pac-12 CEO Group,” said one high-level conference administrator, “to end his contract ahead of the expiration date to have a fighting chance to save the (conference) Networks.

PAC-12 joins Big Ten in going conference-only for 2020 football season

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Thanks to the Pac-12, the Big Ten has football scheduling company.

Thursday afternoon, the Big Ten confirmed reports that it will be going with a conference-only football schedule for the 2020 season.  All other fall sports are impacted in the same way.  It was expected that the ACC and Pac-12 would quickly follow suit.  The ACC, though, released a statement earlier Friday in which that conference revealed it won’t make a decision on. Fall sports until late July.

The Pac-12, however, isn’t waiting as that league announced Friday evening that it too will be going to a conference-only football schedule.  As was the case with the Big Ten, this will apply to all fall sports as well.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports continues to be our number one priority,” said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott in a statement. “Our decisions have and will be guided by science and data, and based upon the trends and indicators over the past days, it has become clear that we need to provide ourselves with maximum flexibility to schedule, and to delay any movement to the next phase of return-to-play activities.”

“Competitive sports are an integral part of the educational experience for our student-athletes, and we will do everything that we can to support them in achieving their dreams while at the same time ensuring that their health and safety is at the forefront,” said Michael Schill, Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and President of the University of Oregon.

According to the conference, “student-athletes who choose not to participate in intercollegiate athletics during the coming academic year because of safety concerns about COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarships honored by their university and will remain in good standing with their team.”

The Pac -12 expects to announce its conference-only schedules, including for football, no later than July 31.

Among the games impacted by this decision are Alabama-USC and Texas A&M-Colorado. It had previously been discussed that Alabama could replace USC with TCU for the opener. Whether that is still in play remains to be seen.

Both the Big 12 and SEC are expected to announce its plans by the end of the month.

Toledo announces creation of GoFundMe page to assist the family of Jahneil Douglas, the Rockets DL who was shot and killed earlier this week

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Toledo is doing what it can for those close to one of its fallen football players.

According to reports coming out of the area Wednesday, a man was shot dead following an argument outside of a pizza joint in the city.  It was subsequently confirmed that the victim was Rockets defensive lineman Jahneil Douglas.

“The University and all of Rocket Nation mourn the death of junior football player Jahneil Douglas, who was shot in an incident in Toledo last night,” UT’s athletic department wrote in a tweet.

Subsequent to that, Toledo head coach Jason Candle issued his own statement on the 22-year-old Douglas’ death.

“The Toledo football family is heartbroken by the loss of Jahneil,” the fifth-year coach wrote. “He was a bright and hard-working young man who was loved by all his teammates and coaches. Our sincerest condolences go out to Jahneil’s family and friends during these difficult times. Jahneil will forever be a part of the Rocket football family.”

Thursday, the Toledo football program announced that a GoFundMe page has been created to support Douglas’ family.  Below is the school’s release:

The fund will help pay for funeral costs, as well as assist Douglas’ children.

The page was started by former teammate Mitchell Guadagni, the Rockets’ starting quarterback the past two seasons.

“We all loved Jahneil and we loved his family,” said Guadagni. “(Former Rocket teammate) Nate Childress and I were talking about Jahneil and decided we wanted to do something to help his family and his beautiful children. Jahneil will always be a Rocket and he will always be in our hearts.”

Toledo Head Football Coach Jason Candle said he is proud of the way the players have come together to help their teammate’s family.

“Yesterday was a terrible day for the Rocket Football family,” said Candle. “We are still reeling from the loss of JD. Coming together as a family is important during these trying times, and I am happy to see our Rockets step up like this. JD’s impact will be forever felt on Toledo Football.”

UToledo Vice President and Athletic Director Mike O’Brien added that a scholarship fund in Douglas’ name will be forthcoming.

“This has been such a tragic loss for Jahneil’s family and for our football program,” said O’Brien. “Jahneil was a fine young man and a great Rocket, so we felt it was only fitting to create some kind of lasting legacy to honor his memory.”

Click HERE to access the link to the GoFundMe page for Jahneil Douglas’ family or go to: https://www.gofundme.com/f/22ey4h9x6o