Getty Images

CFT Previews: Your Dec. 22 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

Leave a comment

Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 22 bowl menu, which today features the best feel-good team of the 2017 college football season as well as a quarterback who could be a Top-10 pick in the 2018 NFL draft.

WHO: UAB (8-4) vs. Ohio (8-4)
WHAT: The 4th Bahamas Bowl
WHEN: 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas
THE SKINNY: Normally, I couldn’t give a spit who wins any of these bowl games as long as they put on a good, entertaining show.  This is one of the lone exceptions, however, because how can you not root for the UAB football program in general and the players and coaches in particular?  After the administration unnecessarily disbanded the football program and then, under intense public pressure and alongside a massive fundraising effort, resurrected it less than a year later, the Blazers resumed football on the field in 2017 following a two-season sabbatical.  And what a remarkable return it was as Bill Clark‘s squad won eight games in the regular season, already the most in the program’s history — topping the old standard of seven set in 2004 — and finished second in the Conference USA’s West division.  After a so-so 4-3 start, they finished the regular season by winning four out of five games, with the lone loss being to Florida in Gainesville.   Oh, and have I mentioned that this will mark just the second-ever bowl game for the Blazers?  Fitting the glass slipper on this football Cinderella story won’t be easy, though.  Ohio has made its hay this season on the ground, finishing the regular season 17th in the country in rushing yards per game at just over 244; UAB, conversely, was slightly below average in giving up 169.8 ypg (71st out of 130 FBS teams).  The Blazers can also run the ball quite effectively as they’re 37th nationally (190.3 ypg); that plays right into the MAC school’s strength, however, as the Bobcats are 11th in stopping the run (111.4 ypg).  That said, Ohio stumbled into the postseason having lost two games in a row… and they’ve also lost three bowls game in a row… and, dammit, UAB is just too good of s story for it to end any other way than with a win.  Here’s to saying the program will celebrate its second-ever postseason tilt by winning in its first-ever bowl game.  That could just be the heart, not the head, talking, though.
THE LINE: UAB, +7
THE PREDICTION: UAB 27, Ohio 26

__________

WHO: Central Michigan (8-4) vs. Wyoming (7-5)
WHAT: The 21st Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
WHEN: 4 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho
THE SKINNY: Arguably the marquee player with the most national name recognition today makes his appearance in this game, quarterback Josh Allen, after a little bit of injury uncertainty, suits up for and starts in what’s expected to be his last game at the collegiate level.  That said, Allen struggled this season compared to last as an inferior supporting cast and the injury to his throwing arm did him no favors; Central Michigan’s pass defense (23rd in the country, 188.2 ypg) could do him no favors in his college football swan song, either. … Neither team has had much success of late in the postseason, with the Chips dropping three bowl games in a row (last win: 2012) and the Cowboys two straight (last win: 2009). … If you’re looking for the hotter of the two teams in the here and now, it’s easily the MAC school as CMU closed out the regular season winning five in a row while their opponent today dropped two straight to end the year.  Allen didn’t play in those two losses, it should be noted, and UW was 7-3 in games the junior signal-caller started this season. … This bowl game will serve as a quasi-home game for the Cowboys as Boise is a mere 680 miles from Laramie.  For comparison’s sake, Kalamazoo is just over 1,800 miles away, so the Cowboys have that going for them.  Which is nice. … One stat of which you may not be aware before we leave: Wyoming is 12th in the country in scoring defense, giving up an average of just 17.8 points per game.
THE LINE: Central Michigan, +3½
THE PREDICTION: Central Michigan 24, Wyoming 20

Texas Tech quickly reels in Texas transfer John Bonney

NCAA FOOTBALL: NOV 05 Texas at Texas Tech
Getty Images
Leave a comment

That certainly didn’t take long.

Earlier Tuesday, John Bonney was one of two players who it was announced had decided to transfer from Texas. Not even a few hours later, Texas Tech confirmed in a press release that Bonney had signed a financial aid agreement with the university and has been added to Kliff Kingsbury‘s football roster.

As a graduate transfer, Bonney will be eligible to play immediately in 2018 for the Red Raiders. The upcoming season will serve as the defensive back’s final year of eligibility.

“We’re excited to add a veteran defensive back with such experience like John,” Bonney’s new head coach said in a statement. “We will begin to get him acclimated with our team this afternoon, and I believe he’ll be a great addition to our defensive backs room.”

Of the 37 games in which Bonney played during his time with the Longhorns, 15 of those appearances were starting assignments. Just two of those starts, however, came during the 2017 season.

Donnie Abraham abruptly resigns as Illinois’ CBs coach

Getty Images
2 Comments

This would most certainly qualify as coming from out of the blue.

In exactly 18 days, Illinois will open the 2018 season at home in Champaign against Kent State.  They’ll do so, however, without a member of Lovie Smith‘s coaching staff as the football program announced that Donnie Abraham has abruptly resigned as the Fighting Illini’s cornerbacks coach.

“Donnie informed me that he felt it was in his best interest to leave our staff,” a statement from the head coach began. “I fully support his decision and wish him the best moving forward. Our current coaching staff will absorb his responsibilities.”

Abraham spent the 2017 season, his first with the Illini, as safeties coach.  He moved to cornerback this offseason after Smith adjusted his coaching staff.

This marked Abraham’s first coaching job at the collegiate level.

In his own statement, Abraham indicated that a desire to be with his son as he goes through his senior year of high school in Florida was the impetus behind the decision.

“I want to thank the University of Illinois, Josh Whitman, the athletic department and Coach Smith for opening the door and giving me an opportunity to coach in the Big Ten,” Abraham stated. “I will greatly miss the players, coaches and staff that I have had the privilege of working with this past year and a half. I know great things are on the horizon for this University and football team.

“This time away will allow me the opportunity to return to Florida and be a part of my son’s senior year in high school. Again, I wish the University of Illinois and this football program nothing but the best.

Zach Smith spent ‘several hours’ Tuesday answering Ohio State investigators’ questions

NCAA FOOTBALL: AUG 16 Ohio State Media Day
Getty Images
2 Comments

As Ohio State’s investigation into its head football coach seemingly winds its way toward a conclusion, another noteworthy individual has taken his turn in front of those whose findings will help determine whether a search for a new coach in Columbus will need to be launched.

The attorney for former Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith confirmed to the Columbus Dispatch that his client spent what was described as several hours in front of investigators Tuesday. The lawyer, Bradley Koffel, stated that Smith answered every question asked of him, adding, the Dispatch wrote, “that the lawyers conducting the interview were ‘thoroughly prepared and very exhaustive in their questioning of Zach.'”

It had been confirmed over the weekend that, after some initial uncertainty, Smith would be meeting with investigators.  Smith’s meeting came exactly one day after his ex-wife, Courtney Smith, met with the same investigative team.

As he has in the past, Zach Smith denied in that meeting earlier today that he ever abused his ex-wife, either physically or mentally, during their marriage. Courtney Smith’s estranged mother has previously backed up her former son-in-law’s version of events.

Despite it being a “very tough call,” Smith was fired by Urban Meyer on July 23 after allegations of domestic abuse, both at Florida in 2009 and again at OSU in 2015, surfaced in multiple media reports.

As part of the fallout from the domestic situation, Meyer was placed on paid administrative leave Aug. 1 as questions into his handling of domestic abuse allegations made against his now-former assistant coach surfaced.  The university launched an investigation into Meyer’s actions the day after the head coach’s leave was announced, with the university stating in an Aug. 5 press release that the probe is expected to be completed within 14 days.

In a statement Aug. 3, Meyer claimed that he has “always followed proper reporting protocols and procedures when I have learned of an incident involving a student-athlete, coach or member of our staff by elevating the issues to the proper channels.”

How soon after the completion of the investigation, which could carry a price tag in the neighborhood of $500,000, university officials determine Meyer’s fate and announce it publicly is unknown. At this time, however, it’s strongly believed by those with knowledge of the situation that there is a very good chance that Meyer will keep his job, although he will very likely face a suspension that will cost him multiple games this season.

Barry Sanders (and his OL) to serve as grand marshals for Oklahoma State homecoming

Getty Images
2 Comments

Thirty years ago, Barry Sanders authored perhaps the greatest individual season any college football player has ever had. The eventual Heisman winner racked up 344 carries for 2,628 yards and 37 touchdowns — in 11 games. Count it by today’s standards and Sanders ripped off 2,850 yards and 42 touchdowns over the course of a single season.

Look at this work of art.

Voted in 2014 as the greatest individual season in college football history, Sanders’s 1988 campaign has become more impressive now than it was 30 years ago. In the day and age of pass-first offenses, Sanders’s record-breaking campaign may never be approached again, let alone duplicated. For instance, in 2014 Melvin Gordon rushed for 2,587 yards and 29 touchdowns, but needed 14 games to get there.

On Tuesday, Oklahoma State announced it is getting the band back together to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Sanders’s Heisman campaign.

“Cowboy fans have very fond memories of watching Barry play,” said Blaire Atkinson, interim president of the OSU Alumni Association. “Given the anniversary, we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Homecoming than with the addition of our Heisman award winner and his teammates.”

Added Sanders himself: “1988 was such a special year for OSU football. The fact that I get to celebrate the 30th anniversary at Homecoming with my coaches, teammates, and of course our fans, is very special to me.”

Sanders and his offensive line — known as the War Pigs — will serve as grand marshals of Homecoming, which means leading the Sea of Orange parade on Saturday morning and appearing at the Cowboys’ 98th Homecoming game later that day on Oct. 27 as Oklahoma State hosts Texas.