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CFT Previews: Your Dec. 22 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 22 bowl menu, which today features two AAC schools and one each from the ACC, Conference USA, MAC, MWC and SBC as well as a football independent that puts the ‘Merica in America.

WHO: Memphis (8-5) vs. Wake Forest (6-6)
WHAT: The 13th Jared Birmingham Bowl
WHEN: Noon ET on ESPN
WHERE: Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama
THE SKINNY: After starting the season 4-4, Memphis ripped off four straight wins to earn a berth in the AAC championship game opposite unbeaten UCF. The Tigers held a 17-point lead at halftime before the Knights roared back in the second half to claim its second consecutive AAC crown. … Wake Forest didn’t find itself too high or too low in 2018, never winning more than two in a row but never losing more than two in a row either. Two of their losses, though, came against teams that qualified for the College Football Playoff (Clemson, (Notre Dame). … U-M running back Darrell Henderson is currently second nationally as he has rushed for 1,909 yards; he’s also tied for the FBS lead with 22 rushing touchdowns.  Unfortunately for the Tigers, Henderson won’t be available as he’s one of a handful of players who are skipping out on their team’s bowl game. … Fortunately for the Demon Deacons, Henderson isn’t available as they are 91st nationally in giving up 191.3 yards per game on the ground.  They’ve also given up 29 rushing touchdowns, which is tied for 105th in the country. … One multifaceted player to watch is Wake’s Greg Dortch, who has caught 89 passes for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns (all team-leading totals) while also returning a pair of punts for touchdowns in 2018. … This will be Wake’s third bowl appearance in a row in Dave Clawson‘s five seasons, with the Demon Deacons winning the previous two. …  Memphis, meanwhile, will be playing in its fifth straight bowl game, although they have lost three in a row. … The Tigers have squared off with the Demon Deacons four times, with all four of those games coming from 1964-67. The two teams split that quartet of games, with three of them being played in Memphis. … Three of the last four Birmingham Bowls, incidentally, have been decided by eight points or less.
THE LINE: Wake Forest, +3½
THE PREDICTION: Wake Forest 38, Memphis 34

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WHO: Houston (8-4) vs. Army (10-2)
WHAT: The 16th Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas
THE LINE: Houston, +5
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Buffalo (10-3) vs. Troy (9-3)
WHAT: The 20th Dollar General Bowl
WHEN: 7 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama
THE LINE: Troy, +3
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Louisiana Tech (7-5) vs. Hawaii (8-5)
WHAT: The 17th SoFi Hawaii Bowl
WHEN: 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii
THE SKINNY: Since 2002, including this season, Hawaii has played in nine bowl games; eight of those appearances have been in the Hawaii Bowl, with the lone outlier being the Sugar Bowl following the 2007 season. … The Rainbow Warriors are 4-3 on their home turf in the postseason since the turn of the century, incidentally. … Louisiana Tech, meanwhile, is riding a four-game bowl winning streak heading into its first postseason game on the islands. … It won’t be their first-ever appearance in Honolulu, though, as the two teams have met 10 times previously, with half of those regular season games being played at Aloha Stadium.  Hawaii leads the series 8-2, with the first game being played in 2000 and the most recent in 2011. … Hawaii is 41st in scoring offense at 32.1 points per game, while Louisiana Tech is T-41st in scoring defense at 23.8 ppg; LaTech is T-104th in scoring offense at 24.2 ppg, while Hawaii is 111th in scoring defense at 35.4 ppg. … Individually, Hawaii’s John Ursua‘s (pictured) 16 touchdown receptions are the most of any FBS player in 2018. … After starting the season 6-1, Hawaii lost four in a row from mid-October into early November.  The Rainbow Warriors righted the ship by winning their last two games (by a combined eight points). … Louisiana Tech comes into the postseason having dropped three of its last four games. … For those who are into the wagering side of the sport — and I’ll bet you I’m not — Hawaii is, according to our friends at OddsSharks.com, 0-15-1 against the spread in its last 16 games as a favorite.  Louisiana Tech, on the other hand, is 6-1 against the spread in its last seven games as a road underdog.
THE LINE: Louisiana Tech, +1
THE PREDICTION: Louisiana Tech 27, Hawaii 24

Matthew Baldwin’s decision leaves Ohio State with two scholarship QBs

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And then there were two.

Seeing the Justin Fields writing on the wall, Tate Martell transferred from Ohio State in mid-January and ultimately landed at Miami.  Three months later, another OSU signal-caller, Matthew Baldwin, confirmed on Twitter Thursday night that he too has decided to take his leave of the Buckeyes and place his name into the NCAA transfer database.

“[S]pring was a tough time for me personally. My family and I have prayed and talked a lot about where I belong and what is best for me,” Baldwin wrote as part of a very classy Twitter post revealing his decision. “In the end, we feel like it’d be better for me to step away from Ohio State.”

A four-star member of OSU’s 2018 recruiting class, Baldwin was rated as the No. 12 pro-style quarterback in the country coming out of high school in Austin, Texas.  Baldwin didn’t play a down for the Buckeyes as he continued his rehab from an ACL injury he suffered late in his high school career at Lake Travis.

With the twin departures of Baldwin and Martell, OSU is now down to two scholarship quarterbacks — the Georgia transfer Fields (HERE) and West Virginia transfer Chris Chugunov (HERE).  Fields was widely expected to be the Buckeyes’ starter under center in the 2019 opener; Baldwin’s decision ensures that, barring injury, that will indeed be the case.

Arkansas to add former Notre Dame OL Luke Jones

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A week and a half after word broke Luke Jones was intending to leave Notre Dame comes the announcement Jones is going to be playing closer to home. The Arkansas native announced with a message on Twitter he is coming home to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

“I would like to thank the University of Note Dame for giving me the opportunity to pursue my dream of playing college football,” Jones said in a brief message on his Twitter account. “However, I have decided to transfer and play football for the University of Arkansas. I will be enrolling in the summer and am excited for this new chapter in my life!”

Jones spent a brief moment with the Notre Dame program as he was a member of the Class of 2018 in South Bend. Prior to committing to the Fighting Irish, Jones had been committed to the Arkansas football program in his recruiting process, but Notre Dame emerged victorious in the recruiting game during a coaching change with the Razorbacks.

Jones will be required to sit out the 2019 season under standard NCAA transfer rules, although those seem to be more like guidelines these days, so we’ll wait to see if there is a chance Jones gets to jump into the mix in the offensive line for the Razorbacks this fall.

Ex-Pitt TE Tyler Sear announces transfer to Temple

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Tight end Tyler Sear is hopping on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and heading from one metropolitan corner of the state to the next. Sear announced on his Twitter account on Thursday he is transferring from Pitt to Temple.

The Class of 2017 recruit of the Panthers left the program last October for what was simply described as personal reasons. It was unknown if the leave of absence was a short-term or long-term plan as the decisions about the status were being kept close to the vest within the Pitt program.

Sear did battle some injury concerns during his time at Pitt that prevented him from potentially reaching his full potential for the Panthers. He caught two passes for nine yards last season prior to his stepping away from the team.

Perhaps a clean slate with a new program will do Sear good as he steps in to try contributing with the Owls in the AAC. Sear will have to sit out the 2019 season due to standard NCAA transfer rules, unless an exception is granted by the NCAA. It is unknown if a waiver will be filed by Sear and Temple for immediate eligibility.

Sear has not used a redshirt year yet so he could burn that in 2019 while waiting to get back on the field if he is forced to sit out the 2019 season. That ould leave Sear with two years of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2020 season.

Michigan CB Myles Sims enters transfer portal

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Add another name to the growing list of players entering the transfer portal. This time it is Michigan cornerback Myles Sims. According to a report from 247 Sports, the former four-star prospect in Michigan’s Class of 2018 is evaluating his options.

Any player who adds his name to the transfer portal is allowed to make contact with potential programs of interest, but it does not automatically mean that player is gone for god. Sims will have the option of pulling his name out of the portal in the event he decides to stay in Ann Arbor. How quickly Sims will make any decision one way or the other remains to be seen.

Sims did not see the field last season for Michigan so he can use the 2018 season as his redshirt year. That gives the former four-star recruit four years of eligibility remaining, although he will likely have to burn one year of eligibility by sitting out the upcoming 2019 season.

Standard NCAA transfer rules require a player to sit out a full season before being ruled eligible to play again, although exceptions have been made a bit more frequently over the past year. Whether or not Sims will have the chance to play right away this fall will have to wait to be determined when he decides what his plans will be moving forward.