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CFT Previews: Your Dec. 24 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 24 bowl menu, which features a pair of games on islands and teams from four different conferences: AAC, Conference USA, MAC and Mountain West.

WHO: Middle Tennessee State (7-5) vs. Western Michigan (7-5)
WHAT: The 2nd Popeyes Bahamas Bowl
WHERE: Thomas Robinson Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas
WHEN: Noon ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: A 3-5 start to the 2015 season put Middle Tennessee State’s bowl eligibility in jeopardy, but Rick Stockstill‘s crew righted the ship and finished the regular season on a four-game winning streak.  Western Michigan was in control of its MAC West fate at 5-0 before back-to-back losses to Bowling Green and eventual division champion Northern Illinois essentially ended their conference title game hopes, although they did knock off Toledo in the finale to rip the West from the Rockets and hand it to the Huskies.  History is not on WMU’s side, however, as the Broncos have played in six bowl games previously… and lost all six.  What WMU does have on its side is a pair of receivers, Daniel Braverman (103-1,266-12) and Corey Davis (82-1,253-11), who combined for 185 receptions for 2,519 yards and 23 touchdowns. MTSU can move the ball through the air as well as Brent Stockstill has passed for 3,678 yards.  Offense should rule the day overall as both are prolific on that side of the ball — WMU’s 22nd nationally in total offense, MTSU 30th — while the Blue Raiders are in the middle of the pack defensively (51st in scoring defense).  The Broncos, meanwhile, are 78th in scoring.  With a win, WMU would win eight or more games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history; an MTSU win, meanwhile, would give that program exactly eight wins in three of the last four seasons.
THE LINE: Middle Tennessee State, +4½
THE PREDICTION: Western Michigan 37, Middle Tennessee State 34

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WHO: San Diego State (10-3) vs. Cincinnati (7-5)
WHAT: The 14th Hawaii Bowl
WHERE: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii
WHEN: 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Very quietly, Mountain West champion San Diego State is one of the hottest teams in the country, with their nine-game winning streak tied with Alabama for the second-longest streak nationally behind Clemson’s 16 in a row.  In fact, one more win for the Aztecs would tie the single-season school record of 11 set back in 1969 under Don Coryell.  The 10 wins are already SDSU’s first double-digit win season since 1977 and just the fifth since becoming an FBS program.  Cincinnati, on the other hand, won back-to-back games just once this season, although they didn’t lose back-to-back games at all in 2015.  The Bearcats are also dealing with some internal strife as starting quarterback Gunner Kiel will not play because of what are being described as “personal reasons.”  The Bearcats, though, are prolific offensively, ranking 24th in the country with 36.1 points per game.  The problem is that San Diego State is among the stingiest in giving up points, with their 17 points per game positioning the Aztecs 10th nationally in that category.  SDSU has given up 20 or more points four times this season, and just once, in a 27-24 win over Air Force, during their winning streak.  That said, the key to the game could be Cincinnati’s run defense: UC is 106th in allowing teams to average 5.0 yards per carry, while SDSU’s Donnel Pumphrey‘s 1,554 yards are 10th nationally as he averages 5.5 ypc.
THE LINE: Cincinnati, +1½
THE PREDICTION: San Diego State 42, Cincinnati 28

LSU QB Joe Burrow wins Heisman Trophy for 2019

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LSU quarterback Joe Burrow has won the Heisman Trophy for the 2019 college football season. Burrow was officially named this year’s Heisman Trophy winner at a ceremony in New York City Saturday night.

The quarterback of the LSU Tigers has had a monster season. While leading LSU to a No. 1 ranking and seed in the College Football Playoff with an unblemished 13-0 record that includes a victory in the SEC Championship Game, Burrow passed for 4,715 yards and 48 touchdowns. Both numbers easily led the SEC as Burrow rewrote a handful of LSU and SEC passing records as the season unfolded. No other passer in the SEC threw for more than 2,850 yards, and the next closest in passing touchdowns was Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa with 33 touchdowns in nine games. Burrow also led the nation in completion percentage (77.9). That is currently on pace to be the highest season-long completion percentage since at least 2009, according to CFBStats.com (the college football stats website only goes back as far as 2009). Colt McCoy of Texas came close in 2008 with a 76.7 completion percentage.

Burrow is the second Heisman Trophy winner in LSU history. The only other Heisman Trophy winner for the Tigers was Billy Cannon in 1959. Burrow has already collected a good amount fo hardware this week as the winner of the Walter Camp Player of the Year, Maxwell Award, AP Player of the Year, and the Davey O’Brien Award.

Burrow beat out three other finalists for the award; Ohio State’s Justin Fields and Chase Young, and Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts. The final vote count showed Burrow won this one in a landslide.

A quarterback has won the Heisman Trophy in each of the last four seasons with Lamar Jackson of Louisville, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray of Oklahoma. A quarterback has won the Heisman Trophy in 16 of the 19 seasons it has been awarded since 2000. Burrow is the first quarterback from the SEC to win the Heisman Trophy since Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M won the award in 2012. He is joined by Auburn’s Cam Newton and Florida’s Tim Tebow as the only quarterbacks to win the Heisman Trophy since 1997, a year after Florida’s Danny Wuerffel ended the SEC QB Heisman drought since Auburn’s Pat Sullivan won the award in 1971.

UNC gives Mack Brown one-year extension on contract

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It appears North Carolina was satisfied with the return of the Mack. Mack Brown and UNC have agreed on a one-year contract extension, the school announced Saturday evening.

Brown is now under contract with UNC through the 2024 season as a result of this contract extension.

“Mack’s return has had an outstanding impact — not just in Kenan Stadium, but throughout the Carolina community,” UNC AD Bubba Cunningham said in a released statement. “Our students are winning on the field and doing well in the classroom, our fan base is energized, and we are all excited about building on the great successes of this season.”

“I want to thank the Board of Trustees, Chancellor Guskiewicz, Bubba and the athletics department for their great support,” Brown said. “You could really see things come together. Our fans have stepped up filling the stadium each week. I love what we’ve been able to do with our facilities and the excitement around the program has given us the opportunity to have one of the top recruiting classes in the country. North Carolina is a wonderful place and everyone can tell we’re building something special here. I’m having a great time.”

Brown coached UNC to a record of 6-6 this season, his first back on the sidelines since last coaching at Texas in 2013 and his first season back at UNC since 1997. Brown’s Tar Heels were the only team to give Clemson much of a battle this season as well, and UNC is heading to the Military Bowl to face the Temple Owls later this month. UNC has now won a bowl game since the 2013 season. Brown’s last bowl victory with the program came in the 1996 season with a win in the Gator Bowl (UNC played in the Gator Bowl game the following season but Brown left the program prior to the bowl game to take over at Texas).

 

Malcolm Perry powers No. 23 Navy past Army in Army-Navy Game

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After three consecutive years of having to endure the agony of singing its alma mater first, No. 23 Navy (10-2, 7-1 AAC) once again beamed with joy and the thrill of victory over rival Army (5-8). Malcolm Perry carried the Midshipmen to a 31-7 victory on Saturday in Philadelphia.

Perry, the game’s MVP, had big runs all game long for Navy as he broke record after record in the Army-Navy Game. Perry set a school record for most rushing yards in a single Army-Navy Game and set the new all-time Navy record for most career rushing yards in the Army-Navy Game after going off for 304 yards and two touchdowns. Perry’s first touchdown run of 55 yards tied the game at 7-7 in the second quarter, and it was all Navy from there.

Army had a 78-yard touchdown drive led by first-time starter Christian Anderson (who became the first Army quarterback to make his first career start in the Army-Navy Game), but Navy out-gained Army from that point 388-70. For the first time in a number of years, Navy looked like the bigger, stronger, and faster team compared to Army, which was a big part of the reason Navy turned a 3-10 season last year into a 10-2 season this year going into the bowl season.

Navy had just one passing yard in the game. It was thrown by wide receiver Chance Warren to fullback Jamale Carothers for a touchdown. Only in the Army-Navy Game does that stuff happen.

The win by Navy also awards the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy to the program, seizing control of the three-team trophy (between Army, Navy and Air Force) from Army for the first time since  2015.

Navy will now enter bowl mode as they prepare for their upcoming bowl game. The Midshipmen will take on Kansas State in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31 in Memphis, TN. Navy is 5-4 all-time in bowl games under head coach Ken Niumatallo. No head coach has won more bowl games at Navy.

Army will begin its 2020 season on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020 at home against Bucknell.

Following pregame speeches from President Trump, Navy leads Army at halftime

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For the second consecutive year, President Donald Trump is taking in the annual Army-Navy Game in person in Philadelphia. And, as is typically the case in this storied rivalry, it’s been a tight contest after 30 minutes of play in Lincoln Financial Field with Navy leading Army 14-7 at halftime.

Army quarterback Christian Anderson became the first quarterback to make his first career start for Army in the Army-Navy Game since T.D. Baker did so in 1979. It sure didn’t take long for the freshman to have an impact. After going three-and-out to open the game, Anderson rattled off a 21-yard gain on the ground on the first play of Army’s second possession. 17 plays later (yes, 17 plays later), Anderson finished off the drive with a five-yard run to the right edge of the field for a touchdown, the first score of the game.

Malcolm Perry provided a jolt to the Navy offense on the second offensive series for the Midshipmen, although in much quicker fashion compared to the lengthy Army drive. Perry took off to the right side and juked a defender en route to a 55-yard touchdown that tied the game up early in the second quarter. The 55-yard touchdown run also moved Perry into first place in the Navy record books for most single-season total offensive yards. He later became Navy’s all-time single-season rushing leader as he continued to rewrite the record books in Annapolis.

Perry provided another juke move in a very similar play on a 44-yard run late in the first half. That run setup the go-ahead score. Naturally, a play similar to the Philly Special run by the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl two seasons ago, Navy took the lead with a fake play that saw receiver Chance Warren complete a pass to fullback Jamale Carothers. It wasn’t exactly a Philly Special, but this gam,e being played in the home of the Philadelphia Eagles, it felt appropriate.

President Trump took a few minutes to address each team in the locker room prior to walking on the field for the national anthem and coin flip. A video message from Trump was also played in the stadium during the pregame routine.

Army has won each of the last three meetings and is looking for a long-awaited four-game winning streak.