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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

Bo Pelini heading back to LSU? It could be in play, per report

Could Bo Pelini be heading back to LSU?
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LSU needs a defensive coordinator, and Bo Pelini could potentially be the answer. According to a report from Football Scoop, the one-time LSU defensive coordinator could be a leading candidate for the job in Baton Rouge.

Given his defensive track record, Pelini and LSU could be a solid match, and it has certainly worked out well before. Pelini was LSU’s defensive coordinator from 2005 through 20078 before he was given the opportunity to be a head coach at Nebraska. The Cornhuskers were coached by Pelini from 2008 through 2014 with a handful of appearances in the Big 12 and Big Ten championship game, although with no conference title to show for it.

Pelini was let go as head coach at Nebraska after the 2014 season. He has been the head coach at Youngstown State since 2015. After a few disappointing seasons, a chance to jump back to the FBS, and to do so with the defending national champions, could be a good move for Pelini. If LSU and Pelini see eye-to-eye, then this could be as good a replacement at defensive coordinator as LSU could have asked for.

LSU has a vacancy at defensive coordinator after Dave Arranda accepted an opportunity to be the new head coach at Baylor following LSU’s national championship run.

Rutgers adds another Big Ten transfer with former Wolverine Michael Dwumfour

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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.