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
While there are always a ton of storylines surrounding the SEC on any given season, the big focus for Missouri is quite clear heading into the 2019 campaign and it has nothing to do with anything that is on the field. The Tigers were handed a surprising bowl ban by the NCAA back in January for a host of major violations and fans, players and other supporters of the school have been vocal in their displeasure ever since.
We might get some clarity on the exact status of Mizzou’s football program later this summer however, as athletic director Jim Sterk detailed to KTGR in a recent interview.
“We really think we have a strong case for overturning the majority of the decisions that they made,” Sterk told ‘The Big Show.‘ “The people that are a lot smarter than me that worked on this case really presented an appeal that’s strong and compelling. And we’ll be doing an in-person hearing, we’re expecting somewhere on the middle of July and then hear something hopefully by before football starts or shortly thereafter.”
Sterk went on to say that he had heard from a number of folks in other departments who criticized the NCAA’s original decision, which also came with restrictions to official visits and recruiting contacts in addition to the bowl ban. The timeline he indicated is notable however, as the school formally appealed in late March. While the appeals committee could rule sooner, a six-week or so time-frame seems about the norm on these kinds of things and would indeed put a response dropping just as the Tigers get ready to play Wyoming in their season opener on August 31.
We’ll see if Missouri’s case is any different — as Sterk tries to make out — but appeals are still typically an uphill battle for schools to win. A bowl ban isn’t the end of the world for the Tigers but they no doubt would like to play in one if they qualify given expectations around Columbia are a bit higher in 2019 after the addition of Clemson QB Kelly Bryant and a host of others.
Either way, it at least seems like a good bet for Mizzou to find out their fate early in the season so they know what they have to play for… or not.
In February of this year, Georgia State announced that former Florida State assistant Brad Lawing had been hired as Shawn Elliott‘s next defensive line coach. Nearly four months later, Lawing is out and a new position coach is in.
According to the Sun Belt Conference school, Travian Robertson has been hired as the Panthers’ next line coach on the defensive side of the ball. The move marks a homecoming of sorts as Robertson served as a graduate assistant for Elliott during the 2017 campaign at GSU.
Robertson played his college football at South Carolina, with a portion of that career intersecting with Elliott’s time as an assistant on Steve Spurrier‘s Gamecocks coaching staff.
“It was a natural fit for Travian to come back to Georgia State after spending a year with us previously,” the head coach said in a statement. “Our relationship goes back to our days at South Carolina, and I have tremendous respect for him as a person and as a coach, and we’re thrilled to have him here.”
This past season, Robertson, who had a four-year career in the NFL after being selected in the seventh round of the 2012 draft, served as the line coach at Albany State.
There’s yet another update regarding an Illinois player who suffered a significant injury earlier this month.
Illini true junior defensive end Bobby Roundtree sustained what was described as a severe spinal cord injury in a swimming accident May 18 and underwent surgery a day later. It was subsequently reported that Roundtree was progressing well following the surgery and, while he remained hospitalized, was speaking, eating and sitting up.
While Roundtree had remained hospitalized on into this month at a Tampa-area hospital, Illini athletic director Josh Whitman confirmed Tuesday that Roundtree has since been moved to a rehabilitation center in Chicago, which the AD described as “one of the finest facilities of its kind in the country.”
“He’s receiving top-level care,” Whitman added.
As for what is to come, Roundtree is expected to remain in the unnamed facility for a period of 3-6 months, at which point he would then transition back to Champaign to continue his rehab.
Roundtree has started 20 games the past two seasons since coming to Illinois as a three-star member of their 2017 recruiting class. This past season, the 6-5, 245-pound end led the Illini in tackles for loss with 12.5 and pass breakups, and was second in sacks with 7.5 and quarterback hits with four.
For that performance, the media named Roundtree honorable mention All-Big Ten for the 2018 season.
Thanks in large part to back-to-back Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks, Lincoln Riley was a hot topic of speculation during the most recent spinning of the NFL coaching carousel, even as the head coach has stated in the past it’s “hard to see myself leaving Oklahoma” for the big-boy league of professional football. In approving a contract extension for Riley earlier this year, the coach’s employer gave itself a (very small) bit of a financial buffer should Riley ever change his mind.
Based on an open records request, Tulsa World reported Tuesday that, should Riley leave OU for any other job, including the NFL, after the 2019 season, he would owe the university $4.6 million. That number drops by $1 million every year thereafter until March 16, 2022, at which point a buyout would be waived.
Riley’s new deal runs through the 2023 season; if he’s the head coach on April 1, 2021, he would be due a $1 million bonus. Additionally, the World writes, “Riley receives $700,000 as an annual stay benefit if he remains employed as OU’s head coach on June 1 of each contract year.” The newspaper further writes that, “[i]n addition to the annual stay benefit after two seasons, Riley gets an annual amount of $1 million deposited into a supplemental retirement income plan.”
“Riley is immediately fully vested in the plan,” the paper added.
The $6 million in total compensation Riley will receive for 2019 is the most OU has paid any head football coach in its history, topping the $5.55 million Bob Stoops made in what turned out to be his final season in Norman.
The 35-year-old Riley just completed his second season at OU. In those two seasons, the Sooners have gone 24-4 and won a pair of Big 12 championships. The Sooners have also appeared in the playoffs both of those seasons and OU quarterbacks have claimed back-to-back Heisman Trophy wins — Kyler Murray this season (HERE), Baker Mayfield last (HERE).