CFT Previews: Your Dec. 29 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 29 bowl menu, which features five Power Five teams, including the first P5-P5 matchups as well as the SEC’s 2015-16 postseason debut.

WHO: Cal (7-5) vs. Air Force (8-5)
WHAT: The 13th Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
WHERE: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas
WHEN: 2 p.m. ET, ESPN
THE SKINNY: For the second time this bowl season, exact opposites offensively will square off.  Cal is fourth in the country in passing yards per game (368.8), while Air Force is second in rushing yards per game (321.8).  The good news for the Falcons, at least on the surface, is that they are 23rd nationally in passing yards allowed (190.4 ypg); the bad news for the Golden Bears is that they are 104th in rushing yards allowed (203.3 ypg).  Cal began the 2015 season looking like a legitimate Pac-12 North contender, starting 5-0 before stumbling to a 2-5 finish.  Despite losing their last regular-season game, the service academy claimed the MWC’s Mountain division before falling by three points to 11-win San Diego State in the conference championship game.  Not only would a win give Cal its first bowl victory since the 2008 season in its first postseason appearance since 2011, it would also give the Bears its best record since going the same 8-5 in 2009.  Air Force would also win nine or more games in back-to-back seasons for the first time under Troy Calhoun and the first time since 1997 (10-3) and 1998 (12-1).  Here’s to guessing, though, that Jared Goff, in likely his last game as Cal’s quarterback, proves to be too much through the air for a Falcons secondary that hasn’t even remotely faced someone with the future first-round draft pick’s skillset.
THE LINE: Air Force, +7
THE PREDICTION: Cal 43, Air Force 34

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WHO: North Carolina (11-2) vs. Baylor (9-3)
WHAT: The 27th Russell Athletic Bowl
WHERE: Citrus Bowl Stadium, Orlando, Florida
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
THE LINE: Baylor, +3
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Nevada (6-6) vs. Colorado State (7-5)
WHAT: The 1st NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl
WHERE: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Arizona
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. ET, CampusInsiders.com
THE SKINNY: In a matchup of Mountain West schools that the conference’s commissioner labeled a “travesty,” this inaugural bowl will be what was described in an October announcement of its creation as “the first digitally-focused bowl game broadcast.”  This is also the first time since the 1979 Orange Bowl, which pitted the Big Eight’s Nebraska and Oklahoma against each other, that teams from the same conference played in the same postseason game.  So this travesty has all of that going for it, which is nice.  Be that as it may, Colorado State comes in as the hotter of the two teams in winning their last four games, while Nevada lost back-to-back games to close out the regular season.  Here’s perhaps the most interesting stat coming into this game: the Wolf Pack is undefeated this season when they run for 230-plus yards, 0-6 when they fall short of that mark.  The Rams’ run defense?  107th in run defense (208.5 yards per game) and 101st in yards per carry (4.9).  CSU, though, is 3-2 in games this season in which in which they give up 230 or more yards on the ground.  Postseason history isn’t on Nevada’s side even if they get to that magical 230-yard mark as the Wolf Pack will be looking for its first bowl win since 2010 and just its second since 2005, a mark of 1-7 in that span.  The Wolf Pack, with a win, will also be looking for its fourth 7-6 season the past five years, while the Rams would hit eight wins or more for the third straight year, which would be the program’s longest such stretch since 1997-2002.
THE LINE: Nevada, +3
THE PREDICTION: Colorado State 31, Nevada 21

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WHO: LSU (8-3) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)
WHAT: The 10th AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl
WHERE: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
WHEN: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
THE LINE: Texas Tech, +7½
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

Jeff Brohm adds Marty Biagi to Purdue coaching staff

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The Purdue Boilermakers football team is the latest to make an addition to its coaching staff.

Tuesday afternoon, Purdue confirmed the speculation that had surfaced over the past couple of days by announcing the hiring of Marty Biagi by Jeff Brohm.  Biagi will serve as the Boilermakers’ special teams coordinator.  According to the school, he’ll also hold an unspecified, as of yet, role as defensive assistant.

“Marty is one of the leading coaches and brightest minds in the area of special teams,” the Purdue Boilermakers football head coach said in a statement. “We are very excited to have him here.”

Biagi has spent the past three seasons as the special teams coordinator at North Texas.  Twice, the school noted in its release, Biagi was a finalist for the FootballScoop.com Special Teams Coordinator of the Year.

From the school’s release:

The Mean Green scored six special teams touchdowns, blocked nine punts, four kicks and had 10 players recognized with All-Conference USA accolades during Biagi’s tenure. North Texas won nine games in both 2017 and 2018, appearing in the New Orleans Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl, respectively.

Biagi’s special teams unit at UNT finished in the top 20 in the Football Bowl Division in blocked kicks/punts all three seasons in Denton, tying for 11th in 2017 (4), for 19th in 2018 (3) and for sixth in 2019 (4).

One of those six special teams touchdowns came in a 2018 upset of Arkansas on a wild trick play during a punt return.

Prior to his time in Denton, Biagi was a special teams analyst at Notre Dame.  He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Arkansas.

UNLV hires Stanford assistant Peter Hansen as DC

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Thanks to the Stanford Cardinal football team, Marcus Arroyo is closing in on filling out his first UNLV coaching staff.

Tuesday, UNLV announced the hiring of Peter Hansen as Arroyo’s defensive coordinator.  The longtime Bay-area coach will also be responsible for the Rebels’ inside linebackers.

Hansen served two different stints as part of the Stanford Cardinal football program over the past decade-plus.

In 2008, Hansen was part of the strength & conditioning staff.  From 2009-10, he was a defensive assistant.  After a stint in the NFL, Hansen returned to the Cardinal in 2013.  The past seven seasons, he was Stanford’s inside linebackers coach.

In between the two Farm stops, Hansen was a defensive assistant for the San Francisco 49ers.  He worked with both inside and outside linebackers during his two years with the NFL club.

Hansen, who played his college football and basketball at Arizona, was born in Palo Alto and began his coaching career at a high school in the city.  This will mark the assistant’s first coaching job outside of the Bay area.

Hansen and the rest of the Rebels defensive staff will have their work cut out for them.  At least, based on the campaign they will.

This past season, UNLV was dead last in the Mountain West Conference and 108th nationally as they gave up up 33 points per game.  In total defense, they were 13th in the conference and 105th in the country as they allowed 442.3 yards per game.  In passing defense, they were 13th and 104th.

With the Hansen hiring, Arroyo now has eight of his 10 on-field assistants in place.  The others already on the staff are:

  • Danny Langsdorf, quarterbacks coach/passing-game coordinator
  • Cameron Norcross, offensive line/running-game coordinator
  • Scott Baumgartner, running backs
  • Jordan Paopao, tight ends/special teams coordinator
  • Kenwick Thompson, linebackers
  • Damon Magazu, safeties
  • Tre Watson, cornerbacks

Boise State ‘weighing our options’ in regards to Mountain West membership

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The Mountain West landed a big TV deal earlier this month, a 6-year deal with FOX and CBS that will pay the conference $270 million in total.

Even better for the conference, it would be the last time Boise State would be treated as separate from the rest of the league.

Which was apparently news to Boise State.

“The Mountain West stated that this was the last time our deal would be negotiated separately,” the school said in its own statement following the conference’s announcement. “However, Boise State’s decision to join the conference was predicated on a number of negotiated provisions, including the right to separately negotiate material terms of media rights relating to our home games. This is stated in our conference agreement and cannot be changed by any vote of the membership or conflicting agreement. We will not support any change to this provision and are in the process of weighing our options to move forward.”

As we all remember, Boise State was set to leave the Mountain West for the Big East before it became clear the Big East they agreed to join was not the Big East they would actually join. That league eventually became the American Athletic Conference, and that league would undoubtedly be happy to have Boise State if this latest spat with the MW cannot be smoothed over.

Six years into the College Football Playoff system, only Boise State and Western Michigan have claimed the Group of 5’s New Years Six bid from the American, and between now and the new MW deal’s expiration in 2025-26, it would be an upset if anyone other than Boise State or the AAC won the bid.

Should the Broncos actually follow through with this threat, their Olympic sports would have numerous options between the WAC, the Big Sky and maybe even the West Coast Conference (which is made up entirely of private schools but may be willing to make an exception for a brand like Boise State’s), but football would have limited options. Boise State would look south to see BYU’s experience as an independent has not gone as planned, and Bryan Harsin is unlikely to find a Pac-12 or Big 12 invitation in the mail, no matter how fun that may be for all of us to watch.

So that pretty much leaves Boise State to try to make life work as the far, far westernmost output of the AAC or smooth things over with the MW.

Of course, none of this would happen until 2026 and who knows if we’ll even have conferences, or college football, or a planet in 2026.

RILEY TO DALLAS! SMU hires Lincoln’s brother, Garrett

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All you who were damn sure a Riley would be coaching in Dallas in 2020, come collect your winnings. SMU has announced Garrett Riley, Lincoln’s younger brother, as its new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

“I think he’s a really good fit,” head Mustang Sonny Dykes said of Riley. “He’s comfortable teaching our system of play, particularly in the passing game. One of the things that intrigued me about him was the success that Appalachian State had running the ball and the unique ways they did so.

“He also has a great history recruiting in this area. He knows the coaches and he knows the players. He even knew a lot of things about our current players when we sat down and talked.”

Riley coached running backs for Appalachian State in 2019 but did not join Eli Drinkwitz in the conga line from Boone to Mizzou. That’s despite Riley helping Mountaineer running back Darrynton Evans win Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year honors after registering 1,740 all-purpose yards and 20 rushing touchdowns. He’ll now have to help Shane Buechele improve upon a season in which he threw for nearly 4,000 yards and 34 touchdowns.

He’ll replace Rhett Lashlee, who left for a similar job at Miami.

Garrett started his career ahead of Lincoln, playing at Texas Tech whereas Lincoln just coached as an undergraduate. He then moved on to Stephen F. Austin before joining the coaching profession as an assistant in the Texas high school ranks. He worked under big brother at East Carolina before spending 2016-18 at Kansas.

In conjunction with the move, SMU has elevated offensive line coach AJ Ricker to co-offensive coordinator.