CFT Previews: Your Dec. 27 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 27 bowl menu, which among its five games features nine Power Five conference teams, the lone exception being Cincinnati.

WHO: Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6)
WHAT: The 7th Military Bowl presented By Northrop Grumman
WHERE: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland
WHEN: 1 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Were it not for a four-point win over in-state rival Virginia in the regular season finale, Virginia Tech would’ve been home for the postseason holidays for the first time since 1992.  And this was a team that began the season 2-0, with the second win coming on the road by 14 points over College Football Playoff participant Ohio State.  The low point of a 4-6 skid to close the regular season was a 6-3 double overtime loss to Wake Forest in Week 13 that left Tech needing a win the following weekend to become bowl-eligible.  Cincinnati, meanwhile capped its second consecutive nine-win season with a co-AAC championship.  The Bearcats also come into this game on a veritable roll, following up a three-game losing streak in late September and early October with a seven-game winning streak.  The two teams had a trio of common opponents: Ohio State, Miami and East Carolina.  The Hokies were 1-2 against those teams (35-21 win over OSU, losses of 28-21 and 30-6 to ECU and The U, respectively) while the Bearcats went 1-2 as well (54-46 win over ECU, 50-28 and 55-34 losses to OSU and The U, respectively).
THE LINE: Virginia Tech, +3
THE PREDICTION: Cincinnati 31, Virginia Tech 20

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WHO: No. 15 Arizona State (9-3) vs. Duke (9-3)
WHAT: The 80th Hyundai Sun Bowl
WHERE: The Sun Bowl, El Paso, Tex.
WHEN: 2 p.m. ET on CBS
THE SKINNY: To say that Arizona State is disappointed with its bowl destination would be a massive understatement.  After nine games, ASU was looking at a spot in the Pac-12 championship game and, possibly, a berth in the College Football Playoff.  Two losses in their last three games — an inexplicable 35-27 loss to 5-7 Oregon State and a seven-point loss to in-state rival Arizona in the finale — shattered both of the dreams and sent them to this mid-major bowl.  How the Sun Devils respond to being sent to a lower profile bowl than what had been expected a month ago will go a long ways in determining the outcome.  Duke, though, is in a similar situation.  With three games remaining, all Duke needed was a pair of wins to clinch its second consecutive ACC Coastal title.  Instead, they lost two of three — 17-16 to Virginia Tech, 45-20 to North Carolina — to hand the division and a marquee bowl berth to Georgia Tech.  The Blue Devils, though, are playing in their third consecutive bowl game, the first time in the football program’s history that’s happened.  In fact, prior to the start of that streak in 2012, the program had a total of three bowl appearances in a span of 54 years. ASU will mark the first ranked opponent Duke has faced since Georgia Tech Oct. 11.
THE LINE: Duke, +7½
THE PREDICTION: Arizona State 34, Duke 24

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WHO: Miami (6-6) vs. South Carolina (6-6)
WHAT: The 39th Duck Commander Independence Bowl
WHERE: Independence Stadium, Shreveport, La.
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Boston College (7-5) vs. Penn State (6-6)
WHAT: The 5th New Era Pinstripe Bowl
WHERE: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY
WHEN: 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: If you’re suffering with a bit of insomnia, boy do we have a cure for you.  Although, if you love tremendous defense, you’re in luck.  Boston College is 19th in the country in points allowed (20.5 ppg) while Penn State is even stingier, coming in at seventh (17.7 ppg).  The latter gave up more than 30 points just twice (Michigan State 34, Ohio State 31) and 20 or fewer eight times.  As good as they are defensively, both teams are woeful offensively.  BC is 123rd in passing yards (132 ypg) and 84th in scoring (25.9 ppg), with PSU a paltry 115th in scoring offense (19.8 ppg).  The lone redeeming offensive quality in this game will very likely be BC quarterback Tyler Murphy.  While he was just 111th among quarterbacks in passing yards (1,526), he was third to only Navy’s Keenan Reynolds (1,182) and Georgia Southern’s Kevin Ellison (1,096) in rushing yards at the position (1,079).  The best hope for the Nittany Lions?  That quarterback Christian Hackenberg reverts to the promising form he showed as a true freshman.  In 2013, Hackenberg tossed 20 touchdowns against 10 interceptions.  This season, it was eight touchdown passes and 15 interceptions in just 42 more attempts.  If Hackenberg can somehow recapture that 2013 magic, the Nittany Lions, playing in its first bowl game since being slapped with a postseason ban by the NCAA in 2012, could very well see their first bowl win since 2009.
THE LINE: Penn State, +3
THE PREDICTION: Boston College 13, Penn State 10

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WHO: Nebraska (9-3) vs. No. 24 USC (8-4)
WHAT: The 37th National University Holiday Bowl
WHERE: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, Calif.
WHEN: 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

Joe Moorhead on Rutgers vacancy: Not something that’s under consideration

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Rutgers is looking for a new head coach and Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead is supposedly the so-called frontrunner for the job, according to reports out of New Jersey. But would the Mississippi State head coach leave the SEC to take on the massive undertaking at Rutgers? For now, at least, the Bulldogs head coach is saying all the things you would expect a coach in a current job to say.

“It’s not something that’s under consideration,” Moorhead said to Paul Finebaum of SEC Network when asked about his potential interest in the job on Friday afternoon. “My focus is here at Mississippi State. This is where we want to be and this is what we want to do.”

Moorhead is in his second season as head coach of Mississippi State. Moorhead’s northeastern roots as a New Jersey native seem like a natural fit to take on the Rutgers coaching job. Whether Moorhead is leaving one program stuck in the bottom half of its own division in the SEC for a chance to be stuck in the bottom half of its division in the Big Ten remains to be seen. Moorhead is saying everything a current head coach should be expected to say, whether he genuinely means it or not.

Rutgers fired Chris Ash at the end of September after a 1-3 start capped by a blowout loss at Michigan. Tight ends coach Nunzio Campanile has been serving as the team’s interim coach while the search for a permanent replacement for Ash is found.

Alcohol at Boise State football games (and other schools in Idaho) is one step closer to reality

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As the trend of allowing alcohol at college football games continues to sweep the nation, the state of Idaho has moved one step closer to allowing schools like Boise State to potentially join the trend. According to a report from Idaho Press, the state’s education board has granted preliminary approval to allow universities to decide for themselves if alcohol will be permitted.

The Idaho State Board of Education previously stood in the way of schools within the state from allowing alcohol at collegiate athletic events, such as Boise State football games. Although certain battles have been won in recent years to allow for restricted alcohol availability under certain parameters, the state’s board of education is essentially preparing to step out of the way entirely.

This doesn’t mean Boise State or Idaho Vandal fans will be able to soak in the suds this season though. A revised policy from the board is tentative to be voted on in December for final approval to allow universities to decide for themselves. As it turns out, the decision to pass on the decision-making to university presidents may be more of a way to prevent the board from wasting time on the subject entirely.

“This Board needs to focus on strategic direction for education policy,” board member Andrew Scoggin said, according to the Idaho Press report. “We have very capable and competent chief executive officers at these institutions and there are very clear requirements for safety and security that they will have to meet in order to authorize these permits.”

If the refined policy to pass on the responsibility to individual institutions, that could pave the way for Boise State to have alcohol sales expanded at football games as early as next season if the university is interested in the trend.

Virginia Tech DT Rob Porcher throws name in transfer portal

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Virginia Tech is possibly about to lose a defensive lineman from its roster. Defensive tackle Rob Porcher has entered the transfer portal, a report with confirmation from Virginia Tech confirmed Friday afternoon.

Andy Bitter of The Athletic reported news of the transfer portal development, via Twitter.

Porcher is a redshirt sophomore, so he will have two more years of eligibility at another FBS program. Porcher would have to sit out the 2020 season at another FBS program, per NCAA transfer rules, if he does end up leaving the Hokies. Any player entering the transfer portal is free to have contact with any other college football program as they evaluate their options. A decision to remain in Blacksburg is always possible too, although the report from Bitter suggests that may not be the end-result for Porcher.

Porcher has appeared in five games this season. In that time, Porcher has recorded three tackles with one sack.

Michigan State TE Noah Davis is sixth Spartan to enter transfer portal this season

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The almighty transfer portal has added another college football player’s name to its database. Michigan State tight end Noah Davis has reportedly entered the transfer portal, according to Detroit Free Press reporter Rainer Sabin (via Twitter).

Davis appeared in four games for Michigan State this season, but he has not caught a pass this season. Three other tight ends on the Michigan State roster have contributed on offense this season. Senior Matt Seybert is Michigan State’s third-leading receiver with 15 receptions for 185 yards and three touchdowns. Matt Dotson and Trenton Gillison have also played a part in the passing game at times this season. Davis did not play in 208 due to injury. Davis will have one final year of eligibility in 2020.

By entering the transfer portal, Davis is free to have contact with any other college football program that may be interested in recruiting him to their program. Davis may also choose to stay with the Spartans.

Davis is the sixth Michigan State player to enter the transfer portal since the season got underway. Previous players entering the transfer portal from Michigan State include running backs Connor Heyward (HERE) and La’Darius Jefferson (HERE), wide receivers Weston Bridges (HERE) and Cam Chambers, and linebacker Brandon Bouyet-Randle (HERE).