WHO: No. 23 Mississippi State (8-4) vs. Louisville (8-4)
WHAT: The 73rd TaxSlayer Bowl
WHEN: Sat. Dec. 30th at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida
THE SKINNY: This has been an up-and-down season for both the Cardinals and Bulldogs so it’s fitting that the two should meet in what was formerly the Gator Bowl for a shot at capping 2017 off with a ninth win and a little momentum heading into the offseason.
If you’re looking for a reason to tune in, look no further than Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, who likely will be playing his final game for the team before leaving to go to the NFL but has one last chance to leave a lasting impression for fans, scouts and opponents. The electric dual-threat has been as good if not better this year than he was when he was named the most outstanding player in the sport and you can bet that he is looking to add significantly to his already eye-popping numbers (4,932 total yards and a whopping 42 touchdowns) in this game as a potential swan song to his Louisville career.
MSU, on the other hand, heads to sunny Florida in a much different position. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald broke his ankle in the Egg Bowl to end the year and head coach Dan Mullen (along with several assistants) departed for Florida not long after the regular season ended. While there is plenty of talent on the roster — especially on defense with defensive linemen like Montez Sweat and Jeffery Simmons — it will be interesting to see how a group with an interim defensive coordinator tries to slow down one of the most dangerous players in the country. Add in that this will be the first start for freshman signal-caller Keytaon Thompson and it’s safe to say that MSU is a team in that finds itself in quite a transition during the lead up to the game.
Still, there are enough athletes on both sides to make this one a potentially fun finish to close out 2017 and one of the better matchups of bowl season outside the New Year’s Six. The Cardinals have a pretty clear-cut edge coming into the TaxSlayer Bowl but given what a wildcard the Bulldogs are at the moment, they could certainly make things interesting until Jackson really gets going with his arm and his legs.
THE PICK: Louisville 34, Mississippi State 24
Iowa defensive tackle Brady Reiff could face some upcoming internal discipline following an arrest over the weekend. Reiff was arrested for public intoxication early Saturday morning by Iowa City police.
According to Hawk Central, Reiff was released from jail at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, a little less than seven hours after his arrest. A statement from Iowa Athletics Director stated the university was aware of the incident and was gathering more information on the story.
At this time, there has been no discipline handed out to Reiff from within the Iowa football program or athletics department, but some form of punishment should probably be expected down the line. A loss of playing time in the season opener would appear to be the most likely result given the misdemeanor caliber of the crime involved.
Reiff recorded 13 tackles, one sack and one interception while appearing in 12 games for the Hawkeyes last season. Reiff is expected to compete for a starting job on Iowa’s defensive line this season.
South Florida is switching apparel providers this season, leaving behind Under Armour for a new deal with Adidas. And with a new apparel partner now officially on board, the time has come to see what Adidas has up their sleeves for the Bulls.
South Florida shared a video on its Twitter account with the first look at the new uniform design, which looks fairly common to what most Adidas uniforms look like. One of the most notable changes to the uniform is the removal of “USF” from the front chest of the uniform and replacing it with text that reads “South Florida.”
The pants read “Bulls” on the legs and the USF “U” logo makes appearances on the hips and wrist bands. The first look at the helmet looks pretty interesting as well, with a chrome green face mask. The details of the helmet can be a bit more difficult to make out, although it appears at one point to be a green USF logo outlined in white (and gold?) on a gray helmet.
Reaction to the new uniforms among USF fans seems to be a bit mixed, but we will have to wait and see how the feelings are when USF reveals the full home and away assortment of uniforms down the road. As with many uniforms these days, it should be expected USF will have some combinations to keep them looking fresh on a weekly basis.
If you thought it was just a short-term fads designed to inspire Miami’s defense, well, you were probably right. But that short-term fad could very well be appearing once again this season on a Miami Hurricanes sideline near you.
After fielding plenty of questions about the iconic Turnover Chain, representatives of Miami at the ACC Football Kickoff last week showed no reason to doubt the chain will not be back again this fall. The Turnover Chain was a pop culture sensation in the world of college football as defensive players recovering a fumble or picking off a pass for an interception would race to the sideline to have the sparkling turnover chain placed around the necks. People either loved it or loathed it. So get ready to love it or loathe it again this fall.
Miami head coach Mark Richt didn’t shut down the idea while addressing the media at the ACC media day event, and he jokingly called it the greatest thing since sliced bread. Even wide receiver Ahmonn Richards was asked about the turnover chain and the possibility of having an equivalent prize for offensive players.
“I think so. I think it’s time,” Richards said, according to The Sun Sentinel. “But those guys work hard, and they’re really enjoying it, and it helps them out, also, wanting to make plays and stuff. So I think we should have something, but it’s not up to me.”
Miami tied for third in the nation with the most takeaways with 31 (Wyoming led the nation with 38; UCF was second with 32 and Miami tied with Memphis and Central Michigan). In 2016, the Hurricanes had just 19 takeaways for the entire season.
We’re weeks away from the 2018 season beginning and with media days underway across the country, there’s inevitably some talk of which coaches are on the hot seat and who might be a few losses away from feeling the heat.
CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd complies a list every year of who might be feeling some pressure and who is safer than can be around the sport. One of the coaches who he listed as ‘start improving now’ (or a 4 on a 1-5 hot seat scale) was Rutgers head coach Chris Ash. The Scarlet Knights job is one of the hardest in football given their place in the Big Ten and while there has been some progress in the rebuild, Ash is 6-18 overall and only picked up his first conference win last season.
It’s only Year 3 of Ash’s tenure though and it seems that kind of pressure isn’t quite reflecting reality from the administration as athletic director Pat Hobbs took to his Twitter account on Saturday to say that there’s no hot seat at all for the young head coach:
We’re sure that Ash appreciates the extra bit of support publicly in what he’s doing with the program but something says he’ll be asked to comment about the whole thing next week at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago. The Scarlet Knights certainly looked much improved in 2017 between the lines but digging out of such a big hole for the program is going to only get tougher as they try to get over the hump and make a bowl game in 2018.