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Report: Las Vegas Bowl goes big time in 2020 and could land Pac-12 vs. SEC matchup

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The Las Vegas Bowl has been played annually since it was first introduced in 1992. In that time, it has never had a matchup between two teams from power conferences. If the bowl game has its way, beginning in 2020 that may change. That is some unfortunate news for the Mountain West Conference.

According to a report from Brett McMurphy, formerly of ESPN, the Las Vegas Bowl will be looking to go a bit more big time with its game beginning in 2020. A brand new football stadium in Las Vegas is expected to open that year with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders moving to become the Las Vegas Raiders. But the new stadium is also expected to become a more attractive destination for a postseason bowl game, and the Las Vegas Bowl is the obvious game to benefit with a new state-of-the-art facility in its neighborhood. The game has previously been played in Sam Boyd Stadium, home of UNLV football and located away from the main attractions in Las Vegas.

As reported by McMurphy, the Las Vegas Bowl will retain its partnership with the Pac-12 but will end its long-running alliance with the Mountain West Conference. In place of the MWC, the Las Vegas Bowl will look to secure another tie-in contract with another power conference. Given the pending upgrade for the bowl game in the new Las Vegas football stadium, that may not be hard to come by. The SEC has quickly become one of the more intriguing options as the two conferences rarely cross paths in the bowl season.

Regardless of what power conference ends up signing a contract with the Las Vegas Bowl, this leaves the Mountain West Conference in an unsettling spot. The Las Vegas Bowl has long been considered the top bowl destination for the conference outside of landing a team in a BCS or New Years Six bowl game. A chance to go up against the Pac-12 awaited the conference a total of 15 times, including last season’s game between Boise State and Oregon. The Las Vegas Bowl was the top bowl tie-in for the conference last season and additional bowl tie-ins were arranged with the Potato Bowl, New Mexico Bowl, Hawaii Bowl, Arizona Bowl and the Cactus Bowl.

The Mountain West Conference isn’t the only one that could be harmed by this news. BYU, which has played in the game once since going independent, would also be losing out on a possible bowl partnership in future years. BYU has a strong history with the Las Vegas Bowl, playing in five straight games from 2005 through 2009 as a member of the MWC, and then once again in 2015.

Bowl tie-ins are periodically re-negotiated, so the Mountain West Conference has some time to begin evaluating other options to replace the Las Vegas Bowl.

West Virginia President on old Big 12 expansion craze: ‘Little bit messy’

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E. Gordon Gee is one of college athletics’ most recognizable figures, which isn’t exactly what you typically say about school leaders like him. The West Virginia President known for his trademark bow tie (and who has never shied away from an interview or a quip he didn’t like) is on the cusp of his first set of spring meetings in the conference as the new chairman of the Big 12 board of directors.

Speaking to the Dallas Morning News about a range of issues around the league prior to meeting in Dallas, Gee seems to have come around on conference expansion from a few years ago and thinks it not only could have been handled better, but it probably shouldn’t be done in the first place because being the smallest Power Five league has its advantages too.

“I’m not certain it was the best way to do it,” Gee told the paper. “It was a little bit messy — and I was part of the mess.

“Intimacy gives us an opportunity to do something that a lot of other places can’t do… We’ll play to our strengths. We’re small, but we can be very aggressive in positioning ourselves uniquely.”

I’m sure the folks at places like Houston and BYU would agree the entire process was messy but will certainly disagree with Gee about the Big 12 sticking with just 10 members. It certainly sounds as though the issue has been put to bed for the foreseeable future but if the merry-go-round gets going once again, at least we know that the process everybody goes through will be a lot different.

Alabama (still) a massive favorite over Louisville, other Week 1 lines

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It’s been about four months since we checked in on the Week 1 betting lines in college football, highlighted by Alabama’s installation as a massive favorite for its date with Louisville in Orlando.

And in the four months since, the public has clearly lost faith in the Nick Saban Football Machine.

After starting as a 29.5-point favorite, Alabama has been downgraded… to a 28.5-point favorite, according to lines released by Bet Online.

Other lines of note:

  • UCF (-20.5) at Connecticut
  • Northwestern (+4.5) at Purdue
  • Colorado (-6) vs. Colorado State (at Denver)
  • San Diego State (+14.5) at Stanford
  • Florida Atlantic (+23) at Oklahoma
  • Oregon State (+38) at Ohio State
  • Texas (-10.5) at Maryland
  • Boise State (-10.5) at Troy
  • Arizona (-14) vs. BYU (at Phoenix)
  • Auburn (-3.5) vs. Washington (at Atlanta)
  • Ole Miss (-1.5) vs. Texas Tech (at Houston)
  • West Virginia (-7) vs. Tennessee (at Charlotte)
  • North Carolina (+6) at California
  • Michigan (+2) at Notre Dame
  • Alabama (-28.5) vs. Louisville (at Orlando)
  • Miami (-3) vs. LSU (at Dallas)
  • Virginia Tech (+6.5) at Florida State

Check out the entire list of lines here.

Four-star 2019 QB picks BYU over offers from, among others, Alabama

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First an Ivy League school and now this.

After being wooed and pursued heavily by Alabama, four-star 2018 quarterback Brevin White opted to sign with Princeton this past February.  Fast-forward three months or so, and the defending national champion Crimson Tide have been in pursuit of another four-star quarterback, this one from the Class of 2019 — Arizona high schooler Jacob Conover.

Sunday night, Conover announced on his personal Twitter account that he has committed to playing his college football at… BYU.

While Conover is a Class of 2019 recruit, he won’t see the field for the Cougars or anyone else that season as he is planning on taking a two-year LDS mission after he graduates from high school next year.  Thus, the earliest he’d be available to any school football-wise is 2021.

247Sports.com rates Conover as the No. 9 pro-style quarterback in the country.  In addition to BYU and Alabama, Conover held offers from, among others, Arizona State, Arizona, Northwestern, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Washington State and Wisconsin.

Don’t feel bad for Alabama’s future under center, though, as they already have a commitment from 2019 four-star quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, the brother of the Tide’s national championship game hero, as well as the four-star great-grandson of the legendary Bear Bryant.

BYU, Utah State extend rivalry out two more years

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The less-heralded of BYU’s in-state football rivalries will continue on for the foreseeable future.

Both BYU and Utah State have announced that the two football programs have reached an agreement on an extension of their long-running series. The new home-and-home will be played in Logan on Oct. 1, 2021, and in Provo on Sept. 30, 2022. Both of those matchups will be Friday night affairs.

It had previously been announced that the Cougars would host the rivalry in 2018 and 2020, with the Aggies doing the same in 2019.

“There’s a lot of history and tradition in our longstanding football series with Utah State,” said BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe. “I appreciated working with [USU athletic director] John Hartwell to further extend the series into the future. I have loved the in-state rivalry with USU as a player, coach and now as an administrator. I look forward to these future games.”

The two schools have met in football 87 times, the last coming in 2017 at the Aggies’ home in Logan. The Cougars lead the all-time series 48-36-3.

Only Utah has played BYU (92 games) and Utah State (112) more than the Cougars and Aggies have played each other in football.