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CFT Previews: Your Dec. 17 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 17 bowl menu, which on opening weekend features five FBS bowl games as the 2016 postseason officially kicks off.  The featured teams include four that won nine games in the 12-game regular season, one undisputed conference champion, a conference co-champ and one that thought it would still be in the midst of prepping for a New Year’s Six game — or even a playoff semifinal.

WHO: New Mexico (8-4) vs. UT-San Antonio (6-6)
WHAT: The 11th Gildan New Mexico Bowl
WHERE: University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
WHEN: 2 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Based on the circumstances surrounding the very first FBS bowl game of the 2016-17 postseason cycle, I’m really surprised the line is merely a touchdown.  New Mexico far and away leads the nation in rushing at 360.9 yards per game — Army is No. 2 at 327. 8 — and feature a pair of 1,000-yard rushers who each average more than eight yards per carry, although UTSA is a respectable 52nd at stopping the run (157.8 ypg).  The Lobos are playing on their home turf as well, and will be looking for just their second bowl win since 1961; the Roadrunners, meanwhile, will be looking for their first-ever bowl win as they’re in the FBS postseason for the first time.  New Mexico closed out the season winning six of its last seven, including an impressive win over Mountain division champion Wyoming, and, given all they have going for them, there’s little reason to think UTSA will make its first bowl appearance its first win as well.
THE LINE:UT-San Antonio, +7
THE PREDICTION: New Mexico 39, UT-San Antonio 24

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WHO: Houston (9-3) vs. San Diego State (10-3)
WHAT: The 25th Las Vegas Bowl Presented by Geico
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium, Whitney, Nevada
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
THE LINE: San Diego State, +4
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Appalachian State (9-3) vs. Toledo (9-3)
WHAT: The 3rd Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
WHERE: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Alabama
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: It’s not often you get one matchup of 9-3 regular-season teams on opening day of the college football postseason let alone two (San Diego State was 9-3 prior to their MWC title game win), yet here we are.  Both teams can run the ball, as each averages over 200 yards per game on the ground.  What sets the Rockets apart in this matchup is they are eighth nationally in passing yards; the Mountaineers, meanwhile, are 104th.  App State, one of the Sun Belt’s co-champs, is relatively stingy in that area defensively, ranking 29th in passing yards allowed (200.2 per game).  As mentioned, ASU was a co-champ of the SBC, along with Arkansas State.  The Rockets opened the season with a 31-10 win over… the Red Wolves.  There have been two Camellia Bowls previously, and they were decided by a combined seven points.  Last year’s winner?  App State, which beat a team from the MAC on a last-second field goal for its first FBS bowl win.  UT, meanwhile, will be looking to push its bowl winning streak to three straight, which would be the football program’s longest since it won four in a row between 1969-81.
THE LINE: Appalachian State, +1½
THE PREDICTION: Toledo 34, Appalachian State 31

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WHO: UCF (6-6) vs. Arkansas State (7-5)
WHAT: The 2nd AutoNation Cure Bowl
WHERE: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network
THE SKINNY: Arkansas State began the season with four-game losing streak that put its five-year bowl appearance streak in jeopardy before righting the ship by winning seven of the last eight.  UCF, on the other hand, lost its last two games, by at least 15 points each no less.  The Knights are coming off a winless 2015 campaign, so the job Scott Frost has done just getting the AAC team into the postseason is borderline miraculous and should earn him votes in the myriad Coach of the Year awards.  Part of the miracle can be attributed to the defense, specifically UCF’s third-down defense — the Knights were seventh nationally in allowing less than 30 percent of the opposition’s third downs to be converted into first downs.  The noteworthy teams ahead of them?  Michigan, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Alabama and Clemson.  The fact that this will essentially serve as a home game for UCF also tilts the odds in their favor, with the university’s campus less than a half-hour from the stadium where they’ll call home Saturday.  In trying to steal a “road” win, ASU will looking to keep its bowl losing streak from reaching three in a row.
THE LINE: Arkansas State, +6
THE PREDICTION: UCF 26, Arkansas State 17

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WHO: Southern Miss (6-6) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (6-6)
WHAT: The 16th R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
WHEN: 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Between 2011 and 2014, Louisiana-Lafayette played in and won four consecutive New Orleans Bowls.  After missing the 2015 installment of the game, UL-L is back in its own backyard.  Then again, Hattiesburg is about 25 miles closer to New Orleans than Lafayette, so the Golden Eagles will be in their backyard as well.  After a strong 4-1 start to the year that included a season-opening win over bowl-bound Kentucky in Lexington, USM stumbled its way to a 2-5 finish in barely clinging to bowl eligibility.  Their opponents haven’t exactly been lights out coming down the stretch, although the 3-2 close of the regular season did get the Ragin’ Cajuns into the postseason after a one-year sabbatical.  Are you getting the feeling I’m reaching for things to write about here?  You’re right, which usually means this’ll end up being one of the best and most exciting bowl games of the year.  That’s normally how these things work.
THE LINE: Louisiana-Lafayette, +4½
THE PREDICTION: Louisiana-Lafayette 24, Southern Miss 23

Former Bowling Green head coach among two new USC hires

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The remaking of Clay Helton‘s USC staff continues.

The Trojans on Tuesday announced the hiring of two new assistants coaches, one each side of the ball.

Chad Kauha’aha’a has been hired away from Boise State as defensive line coach, and Mike Jinks has been announced as running backs coach.

Kauha’aha’a has coached in college football since 2005, almost exclusively as a defensive line coach. His previous stops include Weber State, Utah State, Utah, Wisconsin and Oregon State. He worked just one season at Boise, where his Broncos front ranked 10th nationally with 3.0 sacks per game and 23rd nationally in rushing at 122.9 yards per game allowed.

Jinks was most recently the head coach at Bowling Green, but prior to that served on Kliff Kingsbury‘s Texas Tech staff as running backs coach, which he did from 2013-14.

Prior to that, Jinks spent a decade and a half as a high school football coach in Texas, the last seven as the head coach at Cibolo Steele High School in the San Antonio area.

Ohio cop on Courtney Smith allegations against ex-Ohio State WR coach: ‘She’s petrified and I really believe her’

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Zach Smith no longer works for Ohio State and Urban Meyer is on his way out, but the controversy that consumed the two men — and, thus, the university that employed them — isn’t over.

The Columbus Dispatch on Monday got its hands on thousands of pages of documents relating to Courtney Smith‘s allegations against her ex-husband. At the core of the Dispatch‘s Tuesday report was video of an interview Smith conducted on Oct. 26, 2015, with Powell (Ohio) police officer Ben Boruchowitz, in which Smith describes how Zach Smith had shoved her the night before, and how the previous night’s incident was but another episode of domestic violence she had experienced.

In the video, recorded on body-cam footage and released to the paper after a months-long public-records complaint, Smith described how Zach had previously cut her hand on a tobacco can during an argument, how he had picked her up by her throat during an argument on a Dominican Republic vacation and how he had thrown her across the room while she was pregnant during the time they lived in Florida — all allegations that have since become public knowledge but were not so at the time.

Smith also described to the police officer how she had confronted Zach about an alleged affair and how he responded, “I’ll (expletive) kill you, I’ll destroy you.”

The video shows Boruchowitz going back and forth from the interview room to a phone, where he spoke with prosecutors. From the Dispatch:

In one of those phone conversations, Boruchowitz expressed his concern to a prosecutor for Courtney Smith’s safety due to Zach Smith’s alleged threats to kill her.

“She’s petrified, and I really believe her,” he said. ”… Based on the degree of violence that he’s done against her, you and I both know when there’s strangling and choking and those kinds of violence, (they) are pretty good indicators that there’s a high chance he may actually follow through with it.”

The interview ended with Boruchowitz stating he could charge Zach Smith with disorderly conduct, which she declined. Still, the Powell Police Department recommended charging Zach Smith with felonious assault and domestic violence, but the Delaware County (Ohio) prosecutor’s office declined to present the findings to a grand jury.

“We didn’t present it because after going through everything we went through, we didn’t find any felony charges that we thought we could prove,” Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien told the paper.

Smith remained employed at Ohio State through the 2015 season and the next two before he was fired days before training camp for the 2018 season began.

Ole Miss OC among Mack Brown’s new offensive hires

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Yet again, Mack Brown continues to outperform expectations among his staff hires.

After swiping Army’s Jay Bateman to run his defense, the new North Carolina head coach has hired Ole Miss offensive coordinator Phil Longo to run his offense. Assisting Longo on the offensive staff will be new wide receivers coach Lonnie Galloway and offensive line coach Brandon Jones.

“Phil Longo, Lonnie Galloway and Brandon Jones are three outstanding coaches, recruiters, teachers and mentors of young men,” Brown said in a statement. “Phil has been one of the most successful play callers in college football for many years and at every level. Lonnie and Brandon have tremendous ties to the state of North Carolina and will continue to build on their strong relationships with the great high school coaches in this state. I am so excited at how our coaching staff is taking shape and look forward to announcing the final pieces very soon.”

Longo has spent the past two seasons running the Rebels’ offense, where his 2018 unit ranked among the top 10 nationally at 510.5 yards per game. Longo’s hiring indicates Brown intends to bring the Air Raid to Chapel Hill.

Longo’s departure means Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke will have to replace both coordinators after his first season as the Rebels’ full-time head coach. Defensive coordinator Wes McGriff has already been replaced by former Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre.

Galloway has spent the past four seasons coaching wide receivers at Louisville but has plenty of experience in the Land of Flight. He played quarterback at Western Carolina and deposited coaching stints at Elon, East Carolina, Appalachian State and Wake Forest.

Jones spent the past two seasons as the offensive line coach at Texas Tech, his alma mater, and previously coached offensive lines at Cal and East Carolina.

Boston College extends Steve Addazio through 2022

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Throughout the past month, it seemed up in the air whether Boston College would fire head coach Steve Addazio or extend him. Now, two and a half weeks after Boston College concluded its regular season, we have our answer.

BC AD Martin Jarmond on Tuesday announced the school has extended Addazio by two seasons, keeping him under contract through 2022. In a letter written to BC supporters and released to the media, Jarmond wrote:

After every season we evaluate all aspects of our programs to make sure they are aligned with the core mission and principles of the Boston College athletics department.

While all of us wish our regular season in football had ended with more victories, we took important steps in the right direction this year: returning to the national rankings for the first time since 2008, capturing the nation’s attention with ESPN’s College GameDay on-campus, being in the running for the conference championship in November and playing in another post-season bowl.

In addition, our football student-athletes remain great ambassadors for our University and also continue to achieve tremendous success in the classroom, graduate at one of the highest rates in the country, and become successful leaders.

To continue building on our football program’s progress and promise, we are extending Coach Steve Addazio’s contract for two additional years through the 2022 season. Steve and I are committed to taking the next steps to enhance competitive excellence in Boston College football.

With Addazio under contract only through 2020, Boston College was in a rare position where the school really did have to either fire him or extend him. With another two years on his contract, Addazio can now credibly tell BC’s 2019 recruits that he is under contract through the length of their 4-year eligibility…. but not one season longer.

As far as endorsements from your AD go, this one is about as lukewarm as they get.

Boston College heads into the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl (Dec. 26 in Dallas) at 7-5 on the season. The Eagles started 7-2 and rose as high as No. 17 in the AP poll but lost their final three games: 27-7 to No. 2 Clemson, 22-21 at Florida State and 42-21 to No. 19 Syracuse in Chestnut Hill.

Addazio is an even 38-38 in six seasons at Boston College; his teams have never won more than seven games, and never gone better than 4-4 in ACC play (they’re 18-30 overall in conference).

So, while 2018 was not exactly a make-or-break year for Addazio at Boston College, 2019 definitely will be.