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CFT Previews: Your Dec. 27 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 27 bowl menu, which today features a pair of Power Five vs. Power Five matchups as well as an AAC-ACC clash.

WHO: Temple (8-4) vs. Duke (7-5)
WHAT: The 43rd Walk-On’s Independence Bowl
WHEN: 1:30 ET on ESPN
WHERE: Independence Stadium, Shreveport, Louisiana
THE SKINNY: Contrary to popular belief, Temple interim head coach Matt Foley Ed Foley did not live in a van down by the river before coming to the Owls and setting Shreveport on fire with his motivational prowess. … Foley takes over for this one game for Geoff Collins, who left after two seasons with the football program to take the same job at Georgia Tech. The permanent replacement, Manny Diaz, will be coordinating Miami’s defense in the bowl game right after this one. … After not appearing in a bowl game in nearly two decades, Duke has played in one in six of the last seven seasons. Head coach David Cutcliffe has been responsible for six of the football program’s 14 postseason appearances all-time and two of its five bowl wins, with the Blue Devils looking to win a third straight bowl game for the first time in the school’s history. … Temple, meanwhile, will be playing in its fourth straight bowl game, including a win in last year’s Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. … The Owls come into today’s game having won three in a row and six of their last seven, while the Blue Devils have dropped two straight and four of their last six after starting the regular season 5-1. Duke lost those last two games, incidentally, by a combined score of 94-13 (Clemson 35-6, Wake Forest 59-7). … Temple has the nation’s seventh-ranked pass defense in yards per game (166.3) and is tops in the FBS in allowing just 5.1 yards per pass attempt. … Duke starting quarterback Daniel Jones, who staged a miraculous in-season return from a broken clavicle, is tied for 104th nationally in averaging 6.4 yards per attempt.  Jones, playing in potentially his last game for the Blue Devils as the redshirt junior considers an early leap to the NFL, is capable of putting up big numbers as he accounted for 547 yards of offense (361 passing, 186 rushing) in a mid-November win over rival North Carolina earlier this year. … Today’s game will mark the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
THE LINE: Duke, +3½
THE PREDICTION: Temple 28, Duke 27

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WHO: Miami (7-5) vs. Wisconsin (7-5)
WHAT: The 9th Pinstripe Bowl
WHEN: 5:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York City, New York
THE LINE: Wisconsin, +3
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Baylor (6-6) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6)
WHAT: The 13th Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl
WHEN: 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
THE SKINNY: Baylor and Vanderbilt have met in football twice previously, with the last meeting coming more than sixty years ago (1954).  Vandy won both of those contests. … The Commodores are looking for their first bowl win since 2013, while Derek Mason is looking to even his bowl record at 1-1 (lost the 2016 Independence Bowl). … The Bears, on the other hand, have won two straight bowl games and four of their last six postseason appearances.  Three of those wins came with disgraced former head coach Art Briles in charge in Waco. … Both teams needed to win their final games of the regular season in order to reach bowl eligibility, which Baylor did with an 11-point win over Texas Tech and Vandy did with a 25-point pasting of in-state rival Tennessee. Vandy actually had to win its last two to become bowl-eligible as they beat Ole Miss as well at UT… Baylor is looking to put the finishing touches on one of the most impressive rebounds in college football as the Bears went 1-11 in 2017. … Baylor is 71st nationally in scoring offense (28.3 points per game) while Vandy is tied for 49th in scoring defense (25.1 ppg). Conversely, the Commodores are 76th in scoring offense (27.7 ppg) while the Bears are tied for 87th in scoring defense (31.2 ppg). … The last four games, three of which were wins, Vandy’s offense averaged 36.7 points per game. … Baylor’s offense, on pace for its worst scoring season in nearly a decade, won’t be at full strength as Jalen Hurd, the Tennessee transfer who is the Bears’ leading receiver (69 receptions, 946 receiving yards) and was named as the Big 12’s Offensive Newcomer of the Year, will not play in the game due to injury. … One area to keep an eye on: Baylor is 118th nationally in turnover margin (18 turnovers committed, nine turnovers gained) while Vandy is tied for 18th in the same category (21 turnovers gained, 13 lost).  Only LSU (T-6th) and Florida (10th) finished better than Vandy in the SEC.
THE LINE: Baylor, +4
THE PREDICTION: Vanderbilt 24, Baylor 20

Ball State’s starting QB transferring to Vandy

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Needing to replace Kyle Shurmur as its starting quarterback, Vanderbilt has added an experienced name to its 2019 signal-calling puzzle.

In an interview with 247Sports.com, Riley Neal confirmed that he will be transferring to Vanderbilt.  Earlier this year, the quarterback announced that he had decided to transfer from Ball State.

As a graduate transfer, Neal will be eligible to play immediately for the Commodores in 2019.  Next season will be his final year of eligibility.

“They obviously were in the market for a quarterback, I was looking for a school that needed a quarterback,” Neal said according to the recruiting website. “I went there and visited with their staff and saw everything and it was a good fit.

“They have a lot of guys returning. Their team has some good players that have a year left. Their quarterback situation, you’re not going to go anywhere where they’re going to tell you it’s a lock but they don’t have a ton of guys on their roster and they’re graduating their starter.”

In addition to Vandy, Louisville was also a consideration for Neal.

Neal started the last nine games of his true freshman season in 2015, then started 11 games the following year.  He started the first three games of 2017 before going down with a season-ending injury.  After starting the first nine games of this past season, his year was prematurely ended by another injury.

During his time with the MAC Cardinals, Neal through for 7,393 yards and 46 touchdowns.  He also tossed 25 interceptions in 1,219 career attempts.

At Vandy, his primary competition for the starting job will be redshirt sophomore Deuce Wallace and true freshman Allan Walters.  Wallace was suspended for the entire 2018 season after attempting 22 passes as Shurmur’s primary backup in 2017, while Wallace didn’t see any on-field action his first year in Nashville.

Auburn transfer TE Jalen Harris lists Georgia, Colorado among five potential landing spots

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It’s unclear at this point to where Jalen Harris will ultimately transfer, but the list of potential landing spots has been significantly whittled down.

In mid-September, Harris announced that he would be transferring from Auburn.  On Twitter Tuesday, the tight end revealed his list of five finalists that will serve as possible transfer destinations, including a pair of SEC schools in Georgia and Vanderbilt.

The other three schools include a pair of Power Five programs (Colorado, Kansas State) as well as one from the Group of Five (Troy).

A decision from Harris is expected at some point next week.

Harris did not play in more than four games this season, meaning he preserved a year of eligibility under the new redshirt rule.  He will also head to his new college football home as a graduate transfer, meaning he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2019.

As a fourth-year senior this past season, the 6-4, 257-pound Harris played in three games before opting to transfer.  The previous three seasons, the Montgomery, Ala., native played in 39 games, with most of that action coming on special teams and as a blocking tight end.

Harris did, though, catch a pair of touchdown passes among his four career receptions.  Both touchdowns came during the 2016 season.

2018 College Football Bowl Projections after Championship Weekend

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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 the debate begins.

Who’s in the College Football Playoff? And once that’s taken care of, where is everybody else going bowling?

With all that in mind, CFTalk decided to peer into our crystal ball and take a look at the postseason picture — figuring out which teams wind up in certain bowl games prior to the official announcement. Running through all the scenarios, here’s how the bowl picture could play out from the final four to the very first one on December 15th:

College Football Playoff Semifinals

Bowl Teams
Orange Bowl No. 1 Alabama* No. 4 Oklahoma*
Cotton Bowl No. 2 Clemson* No. 3 Notre Dame*

New Year’s Six

Bowl Teams
Peach Bowl Michigan* Florida*
Fiesta Bowl UCF* LSU*
Rose Bowl Ohio State* Washington*
Sugar Bowl Texas* Georgia*

2018 FBS Bowl Games

Bowl Teams
New Mexico Bowl Utah State North Texas
Cure Bowl UL-Lafayette* Tulane
Las Vegas Bowl Arizona State Fresno State
Camellia Bowl Georgia Southern Buffalo
New Orleans Bowl Appalachian State* UAB
Boca Raton Bowl BYU Middle Tennessee
Frisco Bowl Eastern Michigan Memphis
Gasparilla Bowl Wake Forest USF
Bahamas Bowl Toledo* FIU*
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Ohio Nevada
Birmingham Bowl Duke Cincinnati
Armed Forces Bowl TCU Houston
Dollar General Bowl Troy Northern Illinois
Hawaii Bowl Hawaii* Louisiana Tech*
First Responder Bowl Marshall Western Michigan
Quick Lane Bowl Boston College Minnesota
Cheez-It Bowl Cal Boise State
Independence Bowl Georgia Tech Army
Pinstripe Bowl Miami Purdue
Texas Bowl Oklahoma State Auburn
Music City Bowl Wisconsin Missouri
Camping World Bowl Syracuse Iowa State
Alamo Bowl Washington State West Virginia
Belk Bowl Virginia South Carolina
Arizona Bowl Arkansas State* San Diego State
Military Bowl Virginia Tech Temple
Sun Bowl Pitt Utah
Redbox Bowl Stanford Michigan State
Liberty Bowl Baylor Vanderbilt
Holiday Bowl Oregon Iowa
Gator Bowl Texas A&M N.C. State
Outback Bowl Mississippi State Northwestern
Citrus Bowl Kentucky Penn State

+ Southern Miss, Miami (OH), Wyoming and UL-Monroe also qualified for a bowl but were not selected

* Already accepted bowl bid

Vanderbilt TE Turner Cockrell passes away after battle with cancer

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The Vanderbilt football family is mourning the passing of tight end Turner Cockrell. Vanderbilt announced Cockrell passed away after a fight with cancer on Thursday.

Cockrell, a redshirt sophomore, revealed in early September he had been battling melanoma since November of 2017. A procedure to remove cancerous lymph nodes in his ear and collarbone was conducted that December but it was later revealed the cancer had already spread to his lungs.

“My heart is broken for Randy, Noelle and the Cockrell family, for all of Turner’s teammates, and for all who came in contact with Turner,” Vanderbilt head football coach Derek Mason said in a released statement. “Turner had a wonderful spirit and fought an incredible fight. He was a Vanderbilt Man through and through, and he will always be remembered here.”

Cockrell did not play this season but was a key part of the program, sitting with Mason’s family on game days and staying closely connected to the program as much as possible while taking on his fight with cancer.