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CFT Previews: DXL Frisco Bowl

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WHO: San Diego State (7-5) vs. Ohio (8-4)
WHAT: The second DXL Frisco Bowl
WHEN: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
WHERE: Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
THE SKINNY: It’s not often you should tune in to a game just for the head coaches but this season’s Frisco Bowl presents a delightful matchup between two veterans who have plied their craft steadily and with plenty of success the past two decades. Ohio’s Frank Solich (163) and San Diego State’s Rocky Long (136) have combined for 299 wins at the FBS level and elevated each of their programs to models of success in their respective leagues. Both utilize a familiar formula of playing stout defense and establishing the run so it will be fascinating to see the crafty stalwarts make adjustments and pull out a few surprises against each other under the Wednesday night lights just north of Dallas.

The Aztecs were a tale of two halves in 2018. Following a 6-1 start that included an upset of Pac-12 foe Arizona State, injuries started to mount at key positions (notably veteran QB Christian Chapman) and the team faltered to 1-4 finish. Chapman figures to get the start in this one given that it is the senior’s final game with the team but backup Ryan Agnew could come on if he continues to look out of sync with the offense. No matter who is taking snaps under center, they figure to lean heavily on tailback Juwan Washington — the latest in a long line of terrific rushers at the school.

The Bobcats don’t have any issues at signal-caller thanks to the stellar play of triggerman Nathan Rourke. The QB has accounted for 35 touchdowns this season and is as true a dual-threat as they come in averaging over six yards a carry and over eight yards per attempt. Add in A.J. Ouellette (1,142 yards) and Maleek Irons (831 yards) to the backfield and it’s safe to say that stopping — or at least slowing down — the run game will be a priority for SDSU.

That would probably be the game plan either way for the Aztecs as they sport the No. 4 rush defense in FBS, allowing just 94.5 yards per game on the ground. Linebacker Kyahva Tezino (120 tackles, 8.5 sacks) has been terrific in particular and can impact the game in numerous ways.

One thing is certain, this should be a close and hard-fought game between the two sides. SDSU has played 10 consecutive games decided by single digits and Ohio played in five games decided by a touchdown or less this year. On paper this is one of the better lower tier bowl matchups of 2018 and with a few weeks off to get healthy and prep for the Bobcats, something says the Aztecs can make a key play or two late in order to secure the victory.

THE PICK: San Diego State 24, Ohio 20.

NCAA adjusts targeting, overtime rules

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The NCAA will tweak the targeting rules and has ended ultra-marathon overtime games, the organization announced on Tuesday.

The Playing Rules Oversight Panel on Monday will now require replay officials to either confirm or deny all targeting fouls called on the field. Any targeting foul that cannot be confirmed by video review will now be overturned. On the flip side, the NCAA has now approved a penalty system for repeat offenders, where all players who accrue three targeting fouls in the same season will now serve a 1-game suspension.

In the other major change to emerge Tuesday, the NCAA has officially ended any 7-overtime games. Spurred by the marathon LSU-Texas A&M game last November, all games that get beyond a fourth overtime will now see both teams alternate 2-point plays until one team converts and the other does not, rather than begin at the 25-yard line like any other overtime session. The first four overtime sessions will remain unchanged, where teams will be required to go for two after the second overtime. A mandatory 2-minute break will now be instituted after the second and fourth overtime sessions.

Finally, the NCAA also banned blind-side blocks, to be penalized with a 15-yard flag, and the 2-man wedge formation on all kickoffs.

Ohio State DL coach Larry Johnson denies facilitating player payment at Penn State

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The ongoing federal corruption case against College Basketball, Inc., took an unplanned-but-not-unexpected swerve into college football on Tuesday when a witness for the government said he facilitated payments for numerous college football players from 2000 through 2013.

Pittsburgh-based financial advisor Marty Blazer, who has already pleaded guilty to defrauding clients, is now testifying on behalf of the government during the New York-based trial, and said he paid players representing a handful of programs ranging from Alabama and Michigan to Northwestern and Pitt, funneling them funds ranging from three to five figures.

Blazer did not name names for any coaches on Tuesday, but he did name the name of a player — former Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin — which led anyone who follows college football to figure out his coach — former Penn State defensive line, and current Ohio State defensive line coach, Larry Johnson.

According to Blazer, Maybin was considering leaving school early to enter the 2009 draft when Johnson (without naming his name) arranged a meeting between himself, Blazer and Maybin’s father. There, Johnson got Blazer to give Maybin’s father $10,000, with the hope that the cash-in-hand would keep Aaron Maybin a Nittany Lion while ensuring the player would become a Blazer client when he eventually went pro.

Maybin, as we all know, entered the 2009 draft and was selected 11th overall. Blazer said Maybin’s father later returned the money.

Johnson was reached by Yahoo Sports on Tuesday and vehemently denied the accusation.

“That is not accurate at all,” Johnson said. “That is absolutely false. I would never, ever ask anybody to do that. That is not me.”

“Why is it that something like that comes out and nobody says anything to me?” Johnson Sr. said. “This is the first call I’ve gotten. All of a sudden this Marty Blazer guy can just say whatever he wants? That is absolutely amazing. Wow.”

Johnson coached Penn State’s defensive line from 1996 through 2013 and has been at Ohio State since 2014. The 67-year-old is generally regarded as one of the best defensive line coaches in college football, and while it’s unclear if the NCAA would even take an interest in the case, Johnson obviously wants to make sure the testimony of an admitted fraudster does not ruin his reputation.

Clemson lands No. 1 overall player in Class of 2020

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Clemson has managed to dominate college football without really dominating the college football recruiting rankings. Since 2015, the Tigers’ classes have ranked, in order, No. 9, No. 11, No. 16, No. 7 and No. 10, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Those are good classes, to be sure, but not necessarily great ones; they’re the type of classes you’d expect to lead to a team competing for ACC championships and New Year’s Six bowls, not beating Alabama in the national championship game twice in three years.

Clearly, Clemson’s coaches have cornered the market on finding a few great players and a bunch of really good ones, then developing them to all play like great players. The question then becomes: What happens if Clemson starts recruiting a bunch of great players? What happens if, in addition to playing like Alabama, Clemson started recruiting like Alabama?

We’re about to find out.

The Tigers on Tuesday landed Bryan Breese, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound defensive tackle from Damascus, Md., who happens to be the No. 1 overall player in the class of 2020, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

“At the end of this little run I was really between Clemson, Georgia and Penn State and over that last visit everyone talks about you’ll feel it and I didn’t understand that till the last visit and I got the feeling and knew where I was supposed to be,” Bresee told 247Sports.

But Tuesday’s news wasn’t just about Breese. He became Clemson’s first 5-star commitment of this class, joining a group of 11 4-stars that vaults the Tigers over Alabama for the No. 1 spot in the 2020 team rankings, with three less players on board than the Crimson Tide. Beyond Breese, Clemson is also favored to land 5-star quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, 5-star defensive end Jordan Burch and 5-star Myles Murphy, all of whom rank in the top 10 nationally, plus 5-star linebacker Antoine Sampah, who ranks No. 31 in the country.

If all that comes to pass, Clemson could follow one of the best seasons ever with one of the best recruiting classes ever.

“This class could be by far one of the best classes ever,” Bresee said. “I think definitely one of the best classes for Clemson.”

Transfers from Rutgers, Coastal Carolina land at same FCS school

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The same FCS program has double-dipped in the NCAA transfer portal, FBS division, in bulking up the talent on its football roster.

Monday afternoon, Albany announced via social media that running back Alex James and fullback Max Anthony have officially signed with the program.  James, a redshirt junior, comes to Albany from Coastal Carolina, Anthony, a fifth-year senior, from Rutgers.

As both players come to the Great Danes from the FBS ranks, they will each be eligible to play immediately in 2019.

The past two seasons for the Chanticleers, James has rushed for 475 yards and seven touchdowns on 114 carries.  He also caught 16 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown.

Anthony had started six of the 27 games in which he played for the Scarlet Knights.