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CFT Previews: Your Dec. 21 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 21 bowl menu, which today features a pair of MAC teams and one from Conference USA as well as a football independent.

WHO: Florida International (8-4) vs. Toledo (7-5)
WHAT: The 5th Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl
WHERE: Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas
WHEN: 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: The sponsor of this bowl is an Illinois industrial park that paid $300,000 for the right to have its name slapped on the game. … Butch Davis has won eight games in each of his first two seasons at FIU; a ninth win later today would set a single-season record for a football program that first played at this level in 2004. … The seven wins for 2017 MAC champion Toledo, meanwhile, are the program’s fewest since going 7-5 in 2013.  The previous four seasons before this year, the Rockets had totaled 11, nine, 10 and nine wins. … This marks Toledo’s eighth bowl appearance the past nine seasons; the Rockets are 3-4 in that span. … FIU has lost two straight bowl games (2017 Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, 2011 Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl) after winning its first postseason appearance in the 2010 Little Caesar’s Bowl against, you guessed it, Toledo. … FIU quarterback James Morgan, a transfer from Bowling Green, has already set a single-season school record with 26 touchdown passes, but won’t be able to add to it as he will be sidelined due to a sore throwing arm. … As a team, Toledo has thrown 11 interceptions this season; FIU, conversely, is tied for fifth nationally with 17 picks. … Both teams are coming into the game playing fairly well, with the Panthers winning six of their last eight while the Rockets have won four of five. … All of Toledo’s wins in that span have been by at least 22 points for a squad that’s 11th nationally in scoring at 41.1 points per game. The Rockets have scored at least 45 points in all seven of their wins this season. … FIU is tied for 46th in the country as they give up an average of 24.7 ppg.
THE LINE: FIU, +5
THE PREDICTION: Toledo 51, FIU 38

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WHO: Western Michigan (7-5) vs. BYU (6-6)
WHAT: The 22nd Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
WHERE: Lyle Smith Field at Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho
WHEN: 4 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: The two teams have met in football five times previously, with the most recent coming way back in 1970. BYU leads the miniseries 3-2 for what it’s worth. … BYU is playing in its first bowl game since having its streak of 12 straight bowl appearances snapped amidst a 4-9 2017 season. … WMU has lost six of its seven bowl games. … BYU is 0-5 playing on Boise State’s famed — or infamous — blue turf, while WMU will be taking to the abnormally-colored field for the first time in the football program’s history. … This will mark the only postseason game this year in which each team is quarterbacked by a true freshman — BYU’s Zach Wilson and WMU’s Kaleb Eleby. … The Broncos stumbled down the stretch as they lost three in a row before beating Northern Illinois, which went on to win the MAC championship, by seven in the regular-season finale. NIU, incidentally, beat BYU 7-6 in late October. … In those three late-season losses for WMU, they gave up a whopping 152 points combined. … Given WMU’s defensive struggles of late, the fact that BYU averages just 25.2 points per game (110th at the FBS level out of 130 schools) could bode well for the Broncos. … One matchup that could go a long way in determining the outcome of the game is WMU’s rush offense vs. BYU’s rush defense. The Cougars are 24th stopping the run (129.4 yards per game) and tied for 33rd in yards per carry allowed at 3.7, while the Broncos are 35th in rushing yards per game (204.6) and tied for 41st in ypc at 4.7.
THE LINE: Western Michigan, +12
THE PREDICTION: BYU 23, Western Michigan 20

Florida State apologizes for MLK Day tweet

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As the old adage goes, the best-laid plans of mice and men’s Twitter accounts often go awry.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday, Florida State’s official recruiting account on Twitter posted an inspirational quote from the slain Civil Rights leader. It would’ve been fine for all involved if the account would’ve stopped there; unfortunately for all involved, they didn’t stop there.

Instead, a photoshopped image of Dr. King wearing a football glove and apparently performing the Tomahawk Chop was included as part of the tweet.

Not surprisingly, the Twitter account caught significant heat and flack for the image on social media. Just as unsurprisingly, the tweet was deleted less than an hour after it was posted and an apology subsequently issued.

Rutgers hires Andy Buh to coordinate defense

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Rutgers has hired Andy Buh as its defensive coordinator, the program has announced.

“We are excited to add Andy to the Rutgers football family,” head coach Chris Ash said in a statement. “He is an outstanding linebackers coach and has extensive experience in the Big Ten. Andy and I share a defensive philosophy and he is very familiar with the scheme we run, which will benefit the continued development of our defense.”

Ash and Buh worked together previously at Wisconsin, where Ash was the defensive coordinator and Buh the linebackers coach. He spent the past three seasons as the defensive coordinator at Maryland and has previous coordinator experience at Stanford, Nevada and Cal.

Buh replaces Jay Niemann, who served as the Scarlet Knights’ defensive coordinator for the first three seasons of the Ash era. Rutgers was 69th in total and yards per play defense and 89th in scoring in 2018, surrendering 31.4 points per game. Buh’s Maryland defense placed 78th, allowing 28.7 points per outing.

Rutgers is 7-29 under Ash and 3-24 in Big Ten play.

North Texas inks home and homes with Baylor, Tulane

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North Texas celebrated MLK Day by announcing a slew of future football opponents.

The Mean Green announced Monday it will play home-and-homes with Baylor and Tulane in the 2028 and ’29 campaigns. North Texas will visit the Bears and Green Wave in 2028, then host both in 2029. UNT will visit Baylor on Sept. 2 and Tulane on Sept. 23 in 2028, while the Mean Green will host Baylor and Tulane in back-to-back weeks to open 2029, with the Bears coming on Sept. 1 and the Green Wave on Sept. 8.

A previously scheduled home game with Army was bumped from 2027 to 2028 in conjunction with Monday’s announcements. North Texas also announced a home game with Texas Southern for Sept. 24, 2022.

Baylor will be the fourth Power 5 program and the second Big 12 opponent to visit Apogee Stadium, which opened in 2011. Indiana visited in Apogee’s opening season, Cal will make a visit in 2022 and Texas Tech will come to Denton in 2027.

“I am thrilled to announce two quality home-and-home series have been added to our schedules,” Mean Green AD Wren Baker said in a statement. “Baylor joins Cal and Texas Tech as Power 5 conference teams coming to Denton over the next few years. Tulane is a quality American Athletic Conference team that will be a fun trip for our fans when we return to New Orleans. I appreciate (COO) Jared Mosley‘s diligent efforts to find compelling games for our fans.”

North Texas and Baylor have met 13 times previously. The Bears have won 12 of those meetings but North Texas took the most recent meeting in Denton, a 52-14 thumping in 2003. That remains UNT’s most recent win over a Big 12 opponent.

The Mean Green and Green Wave have played just once previously, a 21-14 Tulane victory in New Orleans in 2013.

Baylor has a previously scheduled trip to Oregon slated for 2028, a return trip for the Ducks’ flight to Waco in 2027. Tulane also has a home-and-home with Iowa State in 2028-29, with the home dates flipped from the UNT series.

Boise State to replace iconic blue turf (with more, newer blue turf)

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Boise State became a household name through playing on its trendsetting blue turf (and winning a lot), such that the school now owns a trademark for any non-green collegiate field.

The current blue playing surface is set to go away this spring, only to be replaced by a newer, bigger, bluer (probably) version.

“It’s needed,” Boise State AD Curt Apsey told the Idaho Statesman. “We’re not just doing it to do it. It’s near the end of the usual lifespan.”

The current playing surface was installed ahead of the 2010 season; FieldTurf surfaces usually have a lifespan of eight to 10 years.

“The field is shredding,” Broncos head coach Bryan Harsin told the paper last summer. “It’s just old. It needs to be replaced. It’s just time.”

Boise State has played on a blue surface since 1986, when then-AD Gene Blaymaier put in blue AstroTurf at a cost of $750,000. The school did not even join FBS until a decade later.

The new surface will extend beyond the playing field to cover the area that previously held the Broncos’ track. It is expected to cost between $600,000 and $1 million, but the school is approved to spend $600,000 as of now.