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Semifinalists for Walter Camp Player of the Year Award unveiled, including three each from Clemson, Ohio State

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One of the most prestigious awards in college football has significantly narrowed the field for the 2019 version of the award.

Thursday afternoon, the Walter Camp Football Foundation announced a list of 20 “Players to Watch” for its annual Player of the Year Award.  Included in that group of semifinalists are three players each from Clemson — running back Travis Etienne, quarterback Trevor Lawrence and linebacker Isaiah Simmons — and Ohio State — running back J.K. Dobbins, quarterback Justin Fields and defensive end Chase Young.

Simmons and Young are two of just four from the defensive side of the ball, the others being from the Big Ten as well in Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons and Minnesota defensive back Antoine Winfield.  That Big Ten trio is part of six from that particular conference, the most of any league.  The SEC is next with five, followed by four from the ACC, three from the Big 12 and two from the Pac-12.

As you can tell, no Group of Five made the list.

Aside from Clemson and OSU, the only other schools with more than one player in the group are LSU (quarterback Joe Burrow, wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase) and Oklahoma (quarterback Jalen Hurts, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb).

Positionally, there are six running backs, six quarterbacks, three wide receivers and one tight end (Florida’s Kyle Pitts) in addition to the defensive players already mentioned.  Just four seniors made the cut, compared to 10 juniors and six sophomores.

After suffering a season-ending hip injury, last year’s winner, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, is not one of this year’s 20 semifinalists, the full list of which appears below:

Joe Burrow, QB, Senior, LSU
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Sophomore, LSU
AJ Dillon, RB, Junior, Boston College
JK Dobbins, RB, Junior, Ohio State
Travis Etienne, RB, Junior, Clemson
Justin Fields, QB, Sophomore, Ohio State
Justin Herbert, QB, Senior, Oregon
Chuba Hubbard, RB, Sophomore, Oklahoma State
Tyler Huntley, QB, Senior, Utah
Jalen Hurts, QB, Senior, Oklahoma
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Junior, Oklahoma
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Junior, Clemson
Micah Parsons, LB, Sophomore, Penn State
Kyle Pitts, TE, Sophomore, Florida
Isaiah Simmons, LB, Redshirt Junior, Clemson
Devonta Smith, WR, Junior, Alabama
D’Andre Swift, RB, Junior, Georgia
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Junior, Wisconsin
Antoine Winfield, DB, RS Sophomore, Minnesota
Chase Young, DE, Junior, Ohio State

Reports: Arkansas closing in on hiring Sam Pittman as head coach

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It appears we’re only steps away from the Hogs getting called.

According to a number of reports surfacing on Sunday, Arkansas has pivoted from hiring now-Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin to bringing in Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman as the team’s next head coach.

Pittman is widely regarded as one of the best assistant coaches in the SEC and developed a quality reputation for both recruiting and teaching along the offensive line. He was in Fayetteville from 2013-2015 under Bret Bielema and spent time at Tennessee, North Carolina, Missouri, Kansas and Northern Illinois and others over the years.

The Oklahoma native was recently elevated to associate head coach in Athens and was one of the few position coaches to come close making $1 million a year without a coordinator title.

Pittman will replace Chad Morris, who was fired in early November after going winless in conference play and posting a 4-18 overall record with the Hogs in less than two seasons.

Matchups, TV times and dates for 2019-20 bowl lineup announced

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The games have been played. The wins have been tallied. The touchdowns have been counted. The championship trophies have been hoisted.

Now it’s time for the college football postseason to commence.

So where is everybody going bowling? Here’s a look at the full lineup of games and who’s in them. All times ET, games on ESPN unless otherwise indicated.

College Football Playoff Semifinals

Bowl Teams
Peach Bowl – Dec. 28, 4pm No. 1 LSU No. 4 Oklahoma
Fiesta Bowl – Dec. 28, 8pm No. 2 Ohio State No. 3 Clemson

New Year’s Six

Bowl Teams
Cotton Bowl – Dec. 28, Noon Memphis Penn State
Orange Bowl – Dec. 30, 8pm Florida Virginia
Rose Bowl – Jan. 1, 5pm Wisconsin Oregon
Sugar Bowl – Jan. 1, 8:45pm Baylor Georgia

2019 FBS Bowl Games

Bowl Teams
Bahamas Bowl – Dec. 20, 2 pm Buffalo Charlotte
Frisco Bowl – Dec. 20, 7:30pm** Kent State Utah State
New Mexico Bowl – Dec. 21, 2pm San Diego State Central Michigan
Cure Bowl – Dec. 21, 2:30pm^^ Georgia Southern Liberty
Boca Raton Bowl – Dec. 21, 3:30pm* SMU FAU
Camellia Bowl – Dec. 21, 5:30pm Arkansas State FIU
Vegas Bowl – Dec. 21, 7:30pm* Washington Boise State
New Orleans Bowl – Dec. 21, 9pm Appalachian State UAB
Gasparilla Bowl – Dec. 23, 2:30pm Marshall UCF
Hawaii Bowl – Dec. 24, 8pm Hawaii BYU
Independence Bowl – Dec. 26, 4pm Miami Louisiana Tech
Quick Lane Bowl – Dec. 26, 8pm Pitt Eastern Michigan
Military Bowl – Dec. 27, Noon UNC Temple
Pinstripe Bowl – Dec. 27, 3:30pm Michigan State Wake Forest
Texas Bowl – Dec. 27, 6:45pm Texas A&M Oklahoma State
Holiday Bowl – Dec. 27, 8pm++ USC Iowa
Cheez-It Bowl – Dec. 27, 10:15pm Washington State Air Force
Camping World Bowl – Dec. 28, Noon* Iowa State Notre Dame
First Responder Bowl – Dec. 30, 12:30pm Western Michigan Western Kentucky
Music City Bowl – Dec. 30, 4pm Louisville Mississippi State
RedBox Bowl – Dec. 30, 4pm+ Cal Illinois
Belk Bowl – Dec. 31, Noon Virginia Tech Kentucky
Sun Bowl – Dec. 31, 2pm^ Arizona State Florida State
Liberty Bowl – Dec. 31, 3:45pm Navy Kansas State
Arizona Bowl – Dec. 31, 4:30pm^^ Georgia State Wyoming
Alamo Bowl – Dec. 31, 7:30pm Texas Utah
Citrus Bowl – Jan. 1, 1pm* Alabama Michigan
Outback Bowl – Jan. 1, 1pm Minnesota Auburn
Birmingham Bowl – Jan. 2, 3pm Boston College Cincinnati
Gator Bowl – Jan. 2, 7pm Tennessee Indiana
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl – Jan. 3, 3:30pm Ohio Nevada
Armed Forces Bowl – Jan. 4, 11:30am Tulane Southern Miss
LendingTree Bowl – Jan. 6, 7:30pm Miami (OH) Louisiana

ABC

** ESPN2

Fox

++ FS1

CBS

^^ CBS Sports Network

Justin Fuente announces Bud Foster’s replacement as Virginia Tech DC

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While most of the focus on the Sunday after the regular season is reserved to teams finding out their postseason destination, Virginia Tech took the time to focus on the future beyond the next month.

Hokies head coach Justin Fuente confirmed that the was staying in-house to find Bud Foster’s replacement as the program’s defensive coordinator, tapping safeties coach and former player Justin Hamilton for the role.

“Justin has earned this opportunity to lead our defense and our football team,” Fuente said in a statement. “Everyone in our program has a great deal of respect for him and his abilities. Coach Foster has reiterated to me on several occasions that Justin is ready for this next step in his coaching career. I feel the same way and am convinced he’s exactly the right fit for this role at Virginia Tech. Coach Hamilton is a talented coach and recruiter with a deep passion for both the game and Virginia Tech. He possesses a great knack for connecting with our players. His voice carries tremendous weight on the field and in the locker room because he’s worn that helmet and experienced many of the same things the young men in our program are going through.”

Hamilton returned to Blacksburg last year in an off the field role before joining the coaching staff. He was a player at a number of spots under Frank Beamer and Foster from 2002-05 before spending some time in the NFL. Hamilton’s coaching career began at Virginia Military Institute and Virginia-Wise from 2011-2017.

There had been plenty of speculation that Fuente would tap ex-Missouri head coach Barry Odom as DC after the two had the same arrangement together at Memphis but it appears those rumors did not bear fruit.

Fuente also confirmed that running backs coach Zohn Burden and cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell will not return to the Virginia Tech coaching staff.

Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons wins 2019 Butkus Award as college football’s best linebacker

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It’s a pretty good day for Isaiah Simmons.

The Clemson linebacker woke up Sunday as an ACC Champion, found out later he was going to the College Football Playoff as the No. 3 seed and was also was named the winner of the 2019 Butkus Award as the best linebacker in the country.

“Simmons is one of the most versatile athletes to play the linebacker position. He’s an exceptional athlete with unique length and makes plays at all three levels, with terrific rush ability, blitz timing, cover skill and tackling range. He’s a modern-day linebacker with special match-up skills. For as good of a football player as he is, he’s a better person and will represent the Butkus Award with class,” a release confirming the news said.

The Kansas native has 93 tackles, seven sacks, a fumble and two interceptions on the season.

Simmons beat out Cal’s Evan Weaver, Wisconsin’s Zach Baun, Texas Tech’s Jordyn Brooks and Penn State’s Micah Parsons for the award.

LSU linebacker and top 10 pick Devin White won the trophy last year.