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The 10 best and 10 worst bowl matchups, as ranked by F/+

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2016’s most even bowl matchup will happen in El Paso, Texas, while the most lopsided game will take place in Boise, Idaho.

Those on-paper analyses are based on the end-of-the-season F/+ rankings, which are explained here on Football Outsiders. Personally, they’re a go-to for getting a rough idea of how good a certain team is, so why not use them to preview the best and worst bowl matchups?

Here are the 10 best games based on how close the two participants’ F/+ rankings are:

Sun Bowl (+1): No. 25 Stanford vs. No. 26 UNC
Fiesta Bowl (+2): No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Clemson
Rose Bowl (+2): No. 7 USC vs. No. 9 Penn State
Sugar Bowl (+2): No. 8 Auburn vs. No. 10 Oklahoma
Armed Forces Bowl (+2): No. 51 Louisiana Tech vs. No. 53 Navy

Peach Bowl (+4): No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 5 Washington
Quick Lane Bowl (+4): No. 93 Boston College vs. No. 97 Maryland
New Mexico Bowl (+5): No. 81 New Mexico vs. No. 86 UT-San Antonio
Citrus Bowl (+6): No. 5 LSU vs. No. 11 Louisville
Cotton Bowl (+10): No. 12 Wisconsin vs. No. 22 Western Michigan

Obviously, the two College Football Playoff games (Ohio State-Clemson, Alabama-Washington) are among the closest, but it’s good to see three of the four other New Year’s Six bowls in here as well. The Orange Bowl (No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 13 Florida State) just barely missed the cut.

As for the 10 biggest mismatches:

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (+71): No. 29 Colorado State vs. No. 100 Idaho
Birmingham Bowl (+61): No. 33 South Florida vs. No. 94 South Carolina
Military Bowl (+54): No. 18 Temple vs. No. 72 Wake Forest
Cactus Bowl (+52): No. 14 Boise State vs. No. 66 Baylor
Miami Beach Bowl (+45): No. 44 Tulsa vs. No. 89 Central Michigan

Arizona Bowl (+38): No. 49 Air Force vs. No. 87 South Alabama
Las Vegas Bowl (+30): No. 20 Houston vs. No. 50 San Diego State
Poinsettia Bowl (+27): No. 30 BYU vs. No. 57 Wyoming
Heart of Dallas Bowl (+26): No. 85 Army vs. No. 111 North Texas
Russell Athletic Bowl (+25): No. 15 Miami vs. No. 40 West Virginia

It’s not surprising three of these games involve top-level Group of Five teams (South Florida, Temple, Boise State) playing 6-6 Power Five teams (South Carolina, Wake Forest, Baylor), given that’s where a lot of bowl mismatches can take place. It was a little surprising to see the gulf between Houston and San Diego State be so significant, though.

But while these matchups may either be close or lopsided, always remember the ironclad rule of bowl season: Weird stuff is gonna happen. One team may not care while the other does, one team may not deal with the elements (especially in the northern bowls) as well as the other, or one team may come in with something to prove while the other team doesn’t. The best-case scenario for us college football fans is that every game is interesting and worth watching, no matter what the on-paper numbers may say.

Alabama flips 5-star safety from Michigan

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Tua Tagovailoa may have come in second in the Heisman race, but Saturday was still a winning night for Alabama.

While he was in New York with his quarterback, Nick Saban‘s recruiting machine was still humming at full capacity as the Crimson Tide managed to flip 5-star safety Dax Hill from Michigan.

A Tulsa native and the younger brother of Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill, Hill is the No. 8 overall player and the top safety in the 2019 class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

“This was a tough decision for me and my family but I have decided to de-commit from the University of Michigan and flip my commitment to the University of Alabama!!” Hill wrote in a Twitter post.

With Hill’s commitment, Alabama’s 24-man class has increased its lead for the No. 1 ranking in the 247Sports Composite team rankings. Alabama has a 25-point lead over Texas A&M for the top spot with a week and a half before the early signing period.

Hill’s loss means Michigan’s 23-man class now ranks 11th nationally and second in the Big Ten.

UTSA QB Bryce Rivers announces transfer

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Go ahead and add another quarterback to the transfer market.

UTSA quarterback Bryce Rivers announced his intent to transfer on Saturday night. “After long talks with close friends and family, I think it is in my best interest to transfer from UTSA,” Rivers wrote in a note posted to his Twitter account.

A San Antonio native, Rivers backed up senior starter Dalton Sturm in 2017, appearing in just three games and throwing eight passes. He competed with junior Cordale Grundy for the starting role heading into 2018 but lost that battle.

By appearing in just three games, Rivers could use this season as a redshirt and play elsewhere as a redshirt junior in 2020.

Jim Harbaugh: “I’m staying at Michigan.”

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Rumors popped up in the past week — from no less a source than former Ohio State wide receiver Cris Carter — that Jim Harbaugh was open to returning to the NFL. Tired of banging his head against the scarlet and gray wall in the Big Ten, the story went, Harbaugh would pack up his bags and leave Ann Arbor for a second time.

He was intrigued by the chance to coach Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, the rumors said. Maybe he’d cross Lake Erie and coach the Browns. Or maybe Dolphins owner and Michigan booster Stephen Ross could lure him to South Beach.

The story is wrong, Harbaugh said.

Speaking to ESPN on Sunday, Harbaugh said this:

“This is a choreographed message that comes up at this time every year before signing day. It’s people spreading messages to further their own personal agenda.

“But I’m on record right here, right now: I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying at Michigan. We have big plans here, and there’s a lot we want to accomplish.”

There are ways to deflect coaching rumors without outright confirming or denying them, but this isn’t that. It’s hard to be any more unequivocal than, “I’m staying at Michigan.”

Four years into his return to Michigan, Harbaugh has undeniably improved the program from where he found it, going 38-13 with two top-15 finishes and another on the way, though hasn’t lived up to the expectation that he’d wrest control of the Big Ten away from Urban Meyer and return the maize and blue to national prominence.

With Meyer leaving Columbus, the second stage of Harbaugh’s Michigan tenure will see even more pressure to push the Wolverines past the Buckeyes, once and for all. And it appears Harbaugh is open to the challenge.

Kyler Murray wins Heisman Trophy as Oklahoma goes back-to-back

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For the second year in a row, an Oklahoma Sooners quarterback has won the Heisman Trophy. Quarterback Kyler Murray was named the winner of this year’s Heisman Trophy on Saturday night in New York as he edged out Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for the award down the stretch of the season.

Murray took on the starting role this season following in the footsteps of 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, who left Oklahoma a year early to be the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Already with a shot at baseball locked up with the Oakland Athletics, Murray was committed to playing at least one more year of football before getting set on his baseball career. Even though a game was played by his head coach leading up to the start of the season, Murray was clearly going to be the starting quarterback for Oklahoma this season, and he did not disappoint.

Murray passed for 4,053 yards and 40 touchdowns with seven interceptions and rushed for 892 yards and 11 touchdowns in leading Oklahoma to the Big 12 championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff for the second straight year. The only game in which Murray failed to throw for at least 200 yards was a September home game against Army, but Murray produced three quick touchdown drives in a game that saw Army dominate the time of possession and not give Murray many chances. In that game, Murray completed 11 of 15 passes for 165 yards and he carried the football seven times for 71 yards with four combined touchdowns. Oklahoma held the football for just 15:19 in that game, a 28-21 overtime victory against a determined Army that found an advantage against Oklahoma’s defense.

The lack of solid defensive play put plenty of pressure on Murray all season long to find ways to put points on the board. Because Oklahoma’s defense was a constant weakness that could be exposed, Murray had to keep up the pace and rarely was given a chance to take a foot off the gas pedal. Whatever works in Norman, right?

On Thursday night at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show in Atlanta, Murray received the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s best quarterback, but Tagovailoa took home the Walter Camp Player of the Year and the Maxwell Award. The last Walter Camp Player of the Year not to win the Heisman Trophy was Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o in 2012. The last Maxwell Award winner not to win the Heisman Trophy was Alabama’s AJ McCarron in 2013. The last time a player won the Walter Camp Player of the Year and the Maxwell Award but did not win the Heisman Trophy was 2012, when Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel took the Heisman but Te’o took the other two individual awards.

Murray’s Heisman Trophy victory moves Oklahoma into a tie for first place with Notre Dame and Ohio State on the list of all-time Heisman Trophy winners. All three schools now have seven Heisman Trophy winners each. USC would also be tied for first place but the Trojans officially only have six Heisman winners with the 2005 Heisman won by Reggie Bush vacated from the record book. Now the Trojans are alone in second place, officially speaking. Murray’s Heisman Trophy means Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley now has two Heisman Trophy winners in his first two seasons as a head coach.

The stage is now set for a playoff showdown between this year’s Heisman Trophy winner and first runner-up as Alabama and Oklahoma will play in the Orange Bowl semifinal in the College Football Playoff in a few weeks. According to research by Associated Press college football reporter Ralph Russo, this will be the seventh bowl game featuring the Heisman winner and runner-up dating back to 1975.

Here is how the voting went down, with Murray running away from Tagovailoa with 517 first-place votes to Tagovailoa’s 299. Murray won the award by a total of 296 points.