CFT Previews: AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl

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WHO: No. 20 LSU (8-3) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)
WHAT: The 10th AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl
WHERE: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
WHEN: 9:00 p.m. ET, Dec. 29 on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Through the first two months of this college football season it looked as though LSU might be on the run to an SEC title and a top spot in the College Football Playoff behind a Heisman Trophy runaway favorite in Leonard Fournette., That championship dream derailed in Tuscaloosa in early November and struggled to recover from the wreckage. Fournette’s Heisman hopes and expectations were tossed to the side as LSU was handed a loss in three straight SEC games by Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss before finally ending the season with a win against Texas A&M. The win against the Aggies also proved to be a revival of sorts for head coach Les Miles, who managed to keep his job amid growing speculation he was as good as cooked in Baton Rouge.

Texas Tech turned in a solid season under Kliff Kingsbury using that signature Texas Tech air-raid approach. Texas Tech was second in the nation in passing yards per game (389.7 ypg, trailing only former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach and Washington State), Patrick Mahomes passing for 4,283 yards and 32 touchdowns. The Red Raiders ranked second in the nation in points per game as well, putting up 46.6 ppg this season. As has historically been the case for the program though, the defense has not held up its end of the bargain far too often to take Texas Tech as a serious threat. Texas Tech allowed an average of 42.6 yards per game and is 126th against the run, allowing 271.83 yards per game on the ground. That just spells out a nightmare scenario for the Red Raiders, who must now stop one of the nation’s most productive running backs.

LSU’s running game should be the key factor here. Texas Tech can’t stop the run and LSU thrives on it. LSU is also hoping to avoid falling out of the top25 in the major polls. A loss to Texas Tech would likely assure LSU a second straight season ranked outside the top 25 at the end of the season, and that hasn’t happened since Gerry DiNardo was the head coach in 1998 and 1999. The following year, LSU hired Nick Saban and things worked out pretty well from there.

THE PREDICTION: LSU 38, Texas Tech 27

Florida to host Florida Atlantic in 2021

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Florida will host Florida Atlantic in 2021, FAU announced Tuesday. The game will take place on Sept. 4 and serve as the season-opener for both schools.

The schools have met three times previously, all of them in Gainesville. Florida won 59-20 on Nov. 17, 2007, 41-3 on Sept. 3, 2011, and 20-14 on Nov. 21, 2015.

The game will round out both schools’ non-conference schedules.

Florida will visit USF on Sept. 11, host Florida State on Nov. 27 and has a TBD home game against Samford, most likely on Nov. 20.

Today’s news means Florida has a future game on the schedule with every FBS program in the Sunshine State except UCF and Florida International. Florida beat Miami in Orlando to open this season and will play a home-and-home with the ‘Canes in 2024-25.

Florida Atlantic will follow its Gainesville trip with an excursion to Colorado Springs to play Air Force. After that, the Owls will host Fordham and Georgia Southern to round out September.

 

With Husky mascot retiring in 2021, Northern Illinois to introduce successor on Tuesday

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Northern Illinois’ husky mascot, Mission, is retiring in 2021, and on Tuesday the school will introduce his successor.

Mission II, born on July 6 and weighing a tender 14.5 ounces, will replace Mission two years from now, and the puppy will begin his official duties as NIU’s next official mascot on Tuesday.

“We have long been searching for the heir apparent to Mission, and there is no question that we have found the right Huskie,” NIU Alumni Association Executive Director Reggie Bustinza said. “Mission has set very high expectations, but there is no doubt in my mind that Mission II cannot only meet those demands, but surpass them.

“We are happy that Mission will have plenty of years to enjoy his retirement.”

Mission will turn 10 years old in 2021, and by that time Mission II will be fully versed in all the expectations placed upon the Official Northern Illinois Husky.

Mission II, a Siberian husky born in southern Wisconsin, will accompany Mission “to all eligible events for experiential learning and proofing,” which begins at a tasting for an NIU-branded beer on Tuesday evening in DeKalb.

The school has not revealed when Mission II will make his debut at a Husky football game, and in the meantime he’ll continue training with Lisa Boland while also attending daily puppy classes.

“I’m most looking forward to seeing Mission and Mission II do the job together during the training period,” Boland said. “It will be wonderful to watch ‘Mini-Mish’ learn from Mission, and see them work as a team. Mission has set a very high bar in mascotting, and Mission II will be working very hard to follow in his footsteps. I am so proud of Mission and the work that he’s done as the official NIU mascot.

“I am thrilled to have the privilege of guiding his successor to best represent Huskie Nation.”

Troy loses RB B.J. Smith, SBC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, to season-ending injury

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This one will certainly leave a lasting mark.

Over the summer, Troy’s B.J. Smith was named as the Sun Belt Conference’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.  Two months later, the football program confirmed, the running back will be sidelined for the remainder of the 2019 season because of an injury sustained in the Week 3 loss to Southern Miss.

While the specific nature of the injury wasn’t divulged by the school, it’s believed Smith injured his knee midway through the second quarter of last Saturday’s game.

Last season, Smith led the Trojans with 1,186 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns.  This season, the fourth-year senior had rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries in two games.

Because of the timing of the injury, Smith can take a redshirt for the 2019 season and return to the Trojans next season.

Texas LB Caleb Johnson enters transfer portal

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Sitting at the quarter-pole of the 2019 regular season, and Texas is the latest FBS program to feel the pain of the portal.

Joe Cook of InsideTexas.com was the first to report that Caleb Johnson has placed his name into the NCAA transfer database.  247Sports.com subsequently confirmed the initial report, writing that the junior linebacker “feels he has not fit in well since he arrived at Texas.”

247Sports provided further details as to the events leading up to Johnson’s decision.

According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Johnson met with the staff Monday morning to inform them of his intentions to enter the transfer portal. While the staff requested he think more about his decision, Johnson decided to enter his name into he NCAA Transfer Portal, and is listed in the portal as of Tuesday morning.

Johnson joined the Longhorns from the junior college level, enrolling early and taking part in spring practice this past offseason.  He was a three-star 2019 signee who was rated as the No. 3 JUCO outside linebacker in this past year’s class.

Through three games, Johnson hadn’t yet taken the field for the Big 12 program.