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CFT Previews: Russell Athletic Bowl

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WHO: No. 16 West Virginia (10-2) vs. Miami (8-4)
WHAT: The 27th Russell Athletic Bowl
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL
THE SKINNY: It may be difficult to comprehend the idea of the Miami Hurricanes have gone a decade without celebrating a postseason bowl victory, but that is the monkey on the shoulders of the once-proud Hurricanes today. New head coach Mark Richt can start to turn the program around and bring his first campaign as the head coach to a happy ending that has long since been missing heading into the offseason.

Richt can have faith in his defense and quarterback Brad Kaaya to some degree, although Kaaya has far from perfect on the biggest of stages Miami has taken during his tenure. Could that change in the bowl game this year

Miami will be reunited with former Big East rival West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl. The two programs have not faced each other since 2003, before Miami left the Big East for the ACC. The Mountaineers are coming off their most successful season since moving into the Big 12 (also abandoning the Big East in the process) and is looking to put together the most wins in a single season under head coach Dana Holgorsen and the most wins since 2007.

West Virginia has been playing some of the best defense found in the Big 12, where defense often tends to be optional, but the Mountaineers are also ranked 80th in the nation in total defense. Regardless, the school gave a three-year contract extension to defensive coordinator Tony Gibson, who will be tasked with scheming against Brad Kaaya. On offense, West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard is coming off a season with 3,194 passing yards and 26 touchdowns, and Howard had a massive bowl game a year ago. If West Virginia can keep in sync on offense and cause Kaaya to make some mistakes, then West Virginia could gain an advantage unless Miami suddenly resurrects its running game.

THE PREDICTION: West Virginia 27, Miami 24

Notre Dame-Georgia going under the lights on Sept. 21

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CBS’s contract with the SEC typically gives the network two double-headers a year — one with games at noon and 3:30 p.m. Eastern time, and another at 3:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. For the past, oh, eight years, the 8 p.m. kickoff has been reserved for the Alabama-LSU game, for obvious reasons.

The last time CBS used its primetime SEC designation for a game other than Tide-Tigers came in 2010, when the network picked Alabama-Florida back when the Nick SabanUrban Meyer rivalry was still popping.

It looks like that’s set to change this year, though, as CBS announced Tuesday that the Sept. 21 Notre Dame at Georgia game will air at 8 p.m. ET.

While leaving open the possibility some backroom negotiations between CBS and ESPN could still find Alabama-LSU on CBS in primetime when the two meet on Nov. 9, clearly CBS has prioritized the chance to put the golden domes under the lights over any other game under its control — and with good reason. Notre Dame hasn’t played inside an SEC stadium since its trip to Knoxville on Nov. 6, 2004 and isn’t scheduled to return to SEC country until an Oct. 4, 2025 game at Arkansas.

Notre Dame has never played inside Sanford Stadium. The Irish and Bulldogs have played just twice previously, once in the 1982 Sugar Bowl (a 17-10 Georgia win) and once at Notre Dame in 2017 (a 20-19 Georgia win).

Though Alabama has beaten LSU eight consecutive times, viewing interest in the rivalry is still quite strong. The Tide’s 29-0 win over LSU in 2018 drew 11.543 million viewers according to Sports Media Watch, trailing only Michigan at Ohio State for the most-watched game of the regular season.

Clearly, though, CBS executives think Notre Dame at Georgia will be a bigger draw than the Alabama-LSU game.

One of world’s largest cranes being used to build Carrier Dome’s new roof

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A new recruit is coming to Syracuse’s campus soon, and he’s absolutely huge.

To build the Carrier Dome’s new roof, the school has rented a LR-11000 crane, which will stand nearly 500 feet in the air.“It’s going to dominate the skyline,” Buckner Heavylift Cranes heavy lift and rigging planner Jim Jatho told the Syracuse Post-Standard. “If you can see the Carrier Dome, it’ll be a couple hundred feet above it.”

So big is the the LR-11000 that it will require between 85 and 87 truckloads to deliver all the necessary parts, and will also require the efforts of three or four other cranes in order to build this one. Construction of the crane is expected to take three to four weeks. The crane is manufactured by a German firm, and SU will rent it from Buckner Heavylift Cranes, based out of North Carolina. There are just 13 LR-11000s scattered across the United States.

The LR-11000 can lift 1,100 tons — that’s 2.2 million pounds — and weighs 3 million pounds on its own.

The reason for such specialized equipment is the tight quarters around the Carrier Dome and the unique job that requires the expertise of the LR-11000, which will construct the crown-truss that will encircle the dome’s bubbly, cloud-like roof. The LR-11000 is typically used to build wind turbines.

“Putting a crane of this size in a space so small is almost unheard of,” Jatho said.

Syracuse initially announced plans to give the Carrier Dome a new roof back in 2016, committing $118 million to improve the 38-year-old stadium’s roof. The new roof will have natural lighting, a 40-year lifespan (the current roof had 20) and will be less costly to maintain, the school says.

Syracuse also plans to install a vertically hung scoreboard, ADA improvements, enhanced WiFi and, by 2022, air conditioning, new restrooms and new concession space.

The new roof is expected to be complete by fall 2020, but the construction is not expected to interrupt Dino Babers and company’s efforts to dethrone Clemson for ACC supremacy.

California JUCO defensive back shot, killed

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Sadly, there’s yet another deadly shooting involving a college football player on which to report.

According to multiple media outlets in the Sacramento area, Sierra College defensive back Chancelor “Chance” Fields-Colbert was shot and killed very early Sunday morning following an incident during what was described as a college sendoff party in Fair Oaks.  Fields-Colbert was shot once inside the residence in which the party was being held and managed to get out of the house before collapsing in an intersection a short distance away.

The sophomore from Fairbanks, Alaska, was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

It’s disbelief and shock,” the junior college’s head coach, Benjamin Noonan, told ABC’s Sacramento affiliate. “It’s been a nightmare these last 48 hours and the kids are, you know, pulling it together and just want to be around each other.”

As a freshman this past season, Fields-Colbert played in five games for the Wolverines.

Oregon’s Calvin Throckmorton headlines Outland Trophy watch list

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With eight semifinalists from a year ago gone, the Outland Trophy’s 2019 preseason watch list takes on a decidedly fresh look this go ’round.

Headlining the 83-player group of the nation’s top interior linemen is Oregon’s Calvin Throckmorton, who is the only Football Writers Association of American All-American from a season ago on this year’s watch list.  Throckmorton is one of 12 players from the Pac-12 listed, which is tied for third among all conferences with the Big 12; with 13 apiece, the Big Ten and SEC lead all leagues.

The ACC’s 10 is the fewest among Power Five conferences, while Group of Five leagues are paced by the AAC’s six.  All 10 FBS conferences are represented, including the Mountain West (four), Conference USA (three), MAC (three) and Sun Belt (three).  Independents account for four as well.

Throckmorton is one of four linemen from Oregon, tied with Michigan for the most of any single school.  Georgia has three, while another 15 schools have two each.

A total of 32 offensive tackles are on the watch list, the most for any single position.  That group is followed by 19 defensive tackles, 18 offensive guards and 14 centers.