WHO: SMU (7-5) vs. Louisiana Tech (6-6)
WHAT: The inaugural DXL Frisco Bowl
WHEN: 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas
THE SKINNY: Two teams that are a combined one game above .500, one of whom has already lost its coaching staff, playing in a bowl game that did not exist a year ago in a nondescript suburb whose greatest tourist destination is a mall. In other words, the DXL Frisco Bowl is the perfect 2017 bowl game.
You know about SMU by now. Head coach Chad Morris left for Arkansas and interim head coach Jeff Traylor also left for Arkansas, which means new head coach Sonny Dykes will coach the Mustangs a week and a half after taking the job. This means that graduate assistant G.J. Kinne will call plays, with heavy game-planning input from quarterback Ben Hicks.
SMU should be fine on offense; they ranked 16th nationally in yards per play and eighth in scoring at 40.2 points per game. The problem, though, is that SMU still has its same defense. The Ponies ranked 113th in scoring defense at 35.5 points per game. SMU hasn’t held an opponent under 30 points since Oct. 21 and gave up 44.5 points a game over the course of a 1-3 November that would have seen the club go 0-4 if not for a favorable ruling that preserved a 41-38 win over Tulane on the season’s final Saturday.
Louisiana Tech, meanwhile, is led by Dykes’s replacement Skip Holtz. The Bulldogs ended a streak of three consecutive 9-win seasons and two straight Conference USA West Division championships as its offense fell from second to 62nd in scoring. Louisiana Tech’s defense did climb from 97th to 66th in scoring, but the net change saw an average score go from 44-34 in Louisiana Tech’s favor in 2016 to a 29-27 score this fall. The Bulldogs’ 6-6 record included a 1-6 mark against bowl-bound teams, with the lone win coming by a 23-22 decision over 6-6 Western Kentucky back on Sept. 16.
THE PICK: SMU 38, Louisiana Tech 34
Berkley Edwards, the younger brother of former Michigan standout Braylon Edwards, is apparently following in his brother’s footsteps. According to a report from The Michigan Insider, Berkley Edwards is planning on transferring from Central Michigan to walk on with the Wolverines.
Edwards will be using a sixth year of eligibility granted by the NCAA to play his final season for the same program his brother and father Stan Edwards once did.
Edwards began his college career at Minnesota in 2013. He spent one year as a redshirt and later sat out the 2016 season as a transfer to Central Michigan. Edwards was a part of the Central Michigan special teams unit last season and has previously handled rushing duties at Minnesota. At Michigan, Edwards will likely fill a spot on the depth chart at running back and special teams, although his role is expected to be as a reserve option for each as he gets started with the Wolverines.
Edwards will be eligible to play for Michigan this season. Michigan has not formally announced the addition of Edwards to the football program at this time.
Western Michigan running back Matt Falcon just can’t seem to catch a break, it seems. After injuring his knee last season, Falcon has been medically disqualified to play for the Broncos this fall, according to a Battle Creek Enquirer report. Western Michigan will also be without redshirt freshman defensive lineman Dezmond Lance, who has also been medically disqualified.
Falcon redshirted for Western Michigan in 2016 under former head coach and current Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck. Falcon came to Minnesota after being offered a medical scholarship at Michigan after a second ACL injury in his senior year of high school. He injured the same knee during camp prior to the 2017 season and managed to make just one appearance for the MAC program. Falcon rushed for 37 yards on 10 rushing attempts.
Due to his injury history, Falcon was likely only to play a reserve role in the running game for Western Michigan this fall. Regardless, not being able to contribute this fall has to be disappointing for a player that was once rated as a four-star recruit in high school. In terms of his eligibility, the time to petition for a medical exemption for an extra year of eligibility could eventually be on the table for Falcon, although that does not need to be decided just yet.
Junior defensive back Brad Tanner has also been confirmed to have left the program.
The Big Ten continues to roll in gigantic piles of money. Details on the Big Ten revenue distribution for the past year were uncovered from a budget spreadsheet from the Michigan Board of Regents, in which it was revealed Michigan received a revenue distribution of $51 million from the Big Ten for the past fiscal year.
It is currently projected the Big Ten distributions will rise to $52 million for the next year, according to Detroit News reporter Angelique Chengelis (via Twitter).
That’s a nice payday for all parties involved and was to be expected given the recent changes to the Big Ten media partnerships. Last year, the Big Ten began making regular season games available to FOX in addition to its current partnership with ESPN and, of course, the Big Ten Network. That expansion of the media deal appears to have paid off for the Big Ten and should continue to fuel the revenue allotment for the next year as the deals with FOX and ESPN continue. The Big Ten’s revenue distribution the previous year was $36.3 million.
The Big Ten revenue distribution of $51.1 million eclipses the average $41 million distributions received by SEC members. It also continues to pace well ahead of the other power conferences; Big 12 members received $36.5 million, ACC members received between $25.3 million and $30.7 million, and Pac-12 schools received $30.9 million. For the sake of comparison, the American Athletic Conference recorded a total conference revenue of $74.47 million for the past year.
It’s good to be in a power conference. It’s even better to be in the Big Ten and the SEC, apparently.
UPDATE: As a reminder, Maryland and Rutgers will not receive a full revenue distribution until the 2020-2021 year. Nebraska was eligible for a full distribution for the first time as a Big Ten member, however.
The college football bowl schedule may see some new bowl games beginning with the 2020 season, but Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby says that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be more bowl games on the schedule. In a podcast interview with the Associated Press, Bowlsby noted the bowl structure is being worked on in order to raise the standards for a bowl game to exist and reflected on how recent changes to the bowl system could impact the current or future bowl line-up.
“We want ti to be an open marketplace. We want the market to dictate how many bowl games there are,” Bowlsby said to AP college football writer and AP Top 25 College Football Podcast host Ralph Russo. “We think it will arrive at a place of equilibrium. I think it a local organizing committee of a bowl would be very poorly advised to go into a season with one side of their game or both sides of their game open, but there are some circumstances under which that could exist.
It was recently reported three new bowl games could be added to the 2020 bowl calendar, including potential bowl games in Chicago and Myrtle Beach. As Bowlsby explains, just because a bowl game or two (or three) could be added, that won’t necessarily mean the number of bowl games will increase. Some bowl games currently in existence could cease to operate in the future due to the NCAA’s modified bowl certification process.
Bowlsby stressed the changes being made to ensure a bowl game is able to operate without digging any holes for the bowl committee and local community. Bowlsby also emphasized the recent limits on how many bowl tie-ins a conference can lock down and how that may impact how a bowl game manages itself.
The ACC and SEC are limited to 10 bowl tie-ins, the Big Ten limited to eight, and Pac-12 gets seven and the Big 12 is restricted to six bowl tie-ins. Limits for the non-power conferences have also been established. On top of that, the Pac-12 recently made a conference rule that will prohibit 5-7 teams from participating in a postseason bowl game even if a school would be invited due to APR scores to fill any vacancies.
“We think we are going to be less likely to go into the 5-7 pool than we’ve been in the past.”
Basically, if you see a bowl game struggling to draw ratings and sell tickets, it could be in some danger.
You can listen to the full interview to hear Bowlsby discuss the bowl future as well as the new transfer rule HERE.