Associated Press

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.

Western Kentucky’s leading tackler taking grad transfer to Purdue

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A significant loss for Western Kentucky’s defense could prove to be a boon for Purdue on that side of the ball.

In an email to the West Lafayette Journal & Courier, Ben Holt confirmed that he has decided to transfer from Western Kentucky to Purdue and continue his collegiate playing career with the Boilermakers.  As he is expected to graduate from WKU in May, the linebacker will be eligible to play immediately in 2019 for the Big Ten school.

Holt is the son of Nick Holt, who has spent the past two seasons as the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Purdue.  Ben Holt’s head coach his first two seasons with the Hilltoppers was Jeff Brohm, who is entering his third year in the same job with the Boilermakers.

This past season, Holt started all 12 games for the Hilltoppers.  He led the team in tackles with 116, tackles for losses with 11½ and quarterback hurries with nine.  His five pass breakups were good for third on the squad in 2018.

All told, Holt played in 38 games his past three seasons in Bowling Green.

Holt becomes the third former Hilltopper to transfer to the Boilermakers since Brohm came to West Lafayette.  Starting linebacker T.J. McCollum followed the coach in February of 2017, with starting offensive lineman Dennis Edwards following McCollum a year later.

Alabama LB Chris Allen undergoes surgery, per report

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The near-complete revamping of Nick Saban‘s coaching staff wasn’t the only football news coming out of Tuscaloosa late this past week.

According to al.com, outside linebacker Chris Allen underwent what was described as a minor surgical procedure on his knee Thursday.  The specific nature of the injury wasn’t detailed.

Allen, who missed the entire 2018 season after tearing an ACL, is expected to be healthy enough to participate in spring practice, which kicks off next month.

A four-star member of the Crimson Tide’s 2017 recruiting class, Allen was rated as the No. 4 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 5 player at any position in the state of Alabama.  As a true freshman, the Baton Rouge native played in seven games.

As noted by the website, Allen is set to be one of the Tide’s top backup linebackers on the outside this coming season.

Minnesota dismisses TE who allegedly punched cop in the face

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Yeah, that’ll do it.

According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Minnesota tight end Max Janes is facing felony charges after allegedly assaulting a police officer very early in the morning of Feb. 8.  It’s alleged that an intoxicated Janes was in the process of breaking into a post office when police officers responded, with the football player ultimately turning violent and allegedly punching one of the cops in the face.

From the Star Tribune‘s report:

According to the criminal complaint: Officers were dispatched to a welfare check on reports of an individual improperly dressed for the cold weather loitering outside the post office. They located Janes just as he gained unlawful entry into the building’s loading dock. Officers placed Janes in their squad car, but opened the rear door after he informed them that he needed to vomit.

Instead, Janes got out and punched an officer — causing demonstrable bodily harm, the complaint says. He was eventually restrained and booked at Hennepin County jail, where he was charged with fourth-degree assault of a peace officer and obstructing the legal process.

As a result of the off-field incident, Janes was dismissed from the football team.

“We have extremely high standards for members of our team and when those standards are not met there are consequences,” head coach P.J. Fleck said in a statement. “Law enforcement officers speak to our team and educate them multiple times a year, and we greatly appreciate those who protect and serve us on a daily basis.”

A preferred walk-on, Janes played in 13 games as a true freshman this past season.  The vast majority of his action came on special teams.

Wyoming’s OL coach shuffle continues with hiring of Ohio assistant

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Maybe the third time will be a charm?

Following the end of the 2018 season, Craig Bohl parted ways with his long-time offensive line coach Scott Fuchs and embarked on a search for a replacement. That search ended with Wyoming’s hiring of Klayton Adams; less than a month later, another search for a line coach was launched as Adams took a job as the assistant offensive line coach for the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.

A little over a week later, and while there’s nothing official yet from the Cowboys, Frank Solich confirmed to the Athens Messenger this past week that Ohio’s offensive line coach, Bart Miller, has taken the same job at Wyoming.

“Our coaches loved working with him, our players loved working with him. We appreciate what he was all about and how he helped our team be what it was last year,” the head coach told the Messenger.

Last season was Miller’s first with the Bobcats. As the newspaper noted, this will mark Miller’s fourth different school in as many years as he was on the coaching staffs at Minnesota and Air Force in 2016 and 2017, respectively.