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CFT Previews: Your Dec. 26 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 26 bowl menu, which today features the first two Power Five vs. Power Five matchups of the postseason.

WHO: Utah (6-6) vs. West Virginia (7-5)
WHAT: The 7th Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl
WHEN: 1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas
THE LINE: West Virginia, +7
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Duke (6-6) vs. Northern Illinois (8-4)
WHAT: The 4th Quick Lane Bowl
WHEN: 5:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
THE SKINNY: This game marks the first-ever meeting between the two football programs.  Duke is also making its first-ever appearance in the Motor City. … In the first three years of this bowl game, after it replaced the Little Caesars/Motor City Bowl, a team from a Power Five conference has been the winner.  Of course, NIU is only the second team from the Group of Five, with Central Michigan being the first, to play in it. … The last two Quick Lane Bowls have been decided by a combined 13 points after the first was a 19-point semi-blowout. … The Huskies have lost four straight bowl games, with their last win coming in the 2011 GoDaddy.com Bowl when they were coached by Dave Doeren, now the head coach at North Carolina State. Those four losses, incidentally, have come by a combined 105 points. … The Blue Devils aren’t exactly stellar in the postseason either as they have lost five of their last six bowl games since winning the 1960 (!!!) Cotton Bowl. … You can very neatly divide Duke’s season into three separate acts, with the Blue Devils winning their first four games, losing their next six and then winning their last two. … Jordan Huff leads the Huskies with 740 yards rushing.  Unfortunately, an ankle injury will sideline the senior running back for the bowl game.  At least when it comes to tailbacks, the running-game load will likely fall on the shoulders of Marcus Jones (347 yards). … Standout player you’ve probably never heard of? NIU defensive end and consensus All-American Sutton Smith, a converted running back who leads the nation with 28.5 tackles for loss.  The next closest?  The 26 from unanimous All-American Bradley Chubb of North Carolina State.  Smith also leads the country in sacks with 14.  The sophomore, by the way, is listed at 6-0 even, 225 pounds.
THE LINE: Northern Illinois, +5½
THE PREDICTION: Duke 24, Northern Illinois 21

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WHO: Kansas State (7-5) vs. UCLA (6-6)
WHAT: The 29th Cactus Bowl
WHEN: 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
THE LINE: UCLA, +2½
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

West Virginia postpones Fan Day because of mini-outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease

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Almost Heaven, y’all!

West Virginia had been set to play host to Fan Day Sunday afternoon. However, because of five cases of hand, foot and mouth disease being diagnosed within the program recently, Fan Day has been canceled.

From the football program’s press release:

Hand, foot and mouth is a mild but highly contagious viral infection that is very common among children but can spread to adults. The virus usually goes away on its own in a period of less than a week, and there is no specific treatment, just steps to ease the symptoms.

Because it is highly contagious, it is in the best interest of the general public to postpone the event. WVU’s medical staff continues to monitor the situation, taking proper steps to control the virus and communicating with the proper campus personnel.

“I know fans who were planning on attending Fan Day will be disappointed, but this is in the best interest of all involved,” WVU athletic director Shane Lyons said in a statement. “Our medical staff is doing an excellent job of addressing the matter. However, there is no reason to put the general public at risk.”

According to the program, a new date for Fan Day will be announced when it becomes available.

Wisconsin WR Quintez Cephus taking leave of absence as he deals with pending legal issue

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Wisconsin’s passing game has taken hit, although it remains to be seen how long its effects will linger.

On his personal Twitter account Saturday night, Quintez Cephus announced that he has been “forced to take a leave of absence from the team in order to focus all of my attention on clearing my name.” In his social media statement, the wide receiver stated he was informed by his lawyers Friday afternoon that the Dane County (WI) District Attorney’s office will pursue unspecified charges against him for an incident that occurred back in April of this year.

“I have been wrongfully accused of unlawful conduct and I am innocent of any allegations associated with this consensual relationship,” Cephus wrote, adding that the pending charges are the result of a three-month investigation.

No details of what led to this situation have been divulged.

While UW has yet to publicly address the development, they are expected to release a statement on the situation in the not-too-distant future.

Last season, Cephus led the run-centric Badgers in receiving touchdowns with six and yards per catch at 16.7.  His 501 receiving yards were good for second, while his 30 receptions were third on the team.

In April of last year, Cephus’ father was murdered after being shot in the head execution-style.

Georgia’s Zamir White, nation’s No. 1 running back in 2018, suffers torn ACL

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One of the crown jewels of Georgia’s top-ranked 2018 recruiting class will have to bounce back from a significant injury yet again.

Kirby Smart confirmed Saturday that Zamir White suffered an injury to his left knee during the second scrimmage of summer camp earlier in the day. The non-contact injury occurred when the true freshman was taking part in punt coverage.

While the head coach didn’t initially know the extent of the injury, a subsequent MRI revealed that White sustained a torn ACL in the left knee. The school has not yet confirmed the Athens Banner-Herald‘s initial report.

White suffered a torn ACL last November during his North Carolina high school team’s playoff run, but had been given the all-clear medically to fully participate in practice. That ACL injury, incidentally, was in his right knee.

A consensus five-star signee, White was the No. 1 running back on 247Sports.com‘s composite board and was the No. 9 player overall. Only one member of the Bulldogs’ class this year, quarterback Justin Fields, was rated higher than White.

White had been expected to help replace the production lost with the departures of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to the NFL.

Nick Saban on injury concerns: ‘You just think whatever happens, we just s**t another player’

NCAA FOOTBALL: SEP 05 AdvoCare Classic - Wisconsin v Alabama
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It’s still mid-August, but Nick Saban‘s already in rare form when it comes to dealing with the media.

Saturday. it was confirmed that backup linebacker Chris Allen will be lost for the entire 2018 season because of a serious knee injury. Additionally, offensive tackle Matt Womack, who underwent surgery Friday after reinjuring his foot, will miss 4-6 weeks.

Following today’s scrimmage, Saban became agitated when he was asked by a member of the media about his level of concern with the mini-spate of reserve players going down with injuries. From al.com:

I’ve been concerned all along,” Saban said. “So, I don’t even know why you’d ask the question.”

And then things really got rolling.

“Because you all don’t, you just think we just, whatever happens, we just s**t another player and everything is going to be perfect. All of our fans think that. You all think that. That’s what you write about. That’s the message you send out there.

For the record, Saban has shat quite well on the recruiting trail over the last decade:

2018: Fifth in 247Sports.com‘s composite rankings
2017: First
2016: First
2015: First
2014: First
2013: First
2012: First
2011: First
2010: Fourth
2009: Third

In that span, Saban has signed 41 five-star recruits and another 146 who were four-stars.

And the Class of 2019? Saban is getting s**t done yet again as the Crimson Tide is currently ranked No. 2 behind Georgia.