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Second half rally helps Boise State knock off No. 23 Fresno State on the blue turf

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No. 23 Fresno State entered Friday night’s game against Boise State with one mission: secure the Milk Can and win on the blue turf for the first time ever.

The Bulldogs, poised to be one of the few teams that could secure the Group of Five bid if they win out, could do no such thing in the end after allowing the Broncos to rally in the second half and cap off a thrilling 24-17 victory in the pair’s rematch of last season’s Mountain West Championship Game.

Quarterback Brett Rypien was not surprisingly at the center of all the action for the home team, converting several key third downs with both his arm and his legs on his way to throwing for an efficient 269 yards, one touchdown and an interception. While he was pretty much unstoppable for most of the night outside of that ill-advised pick, it took until the second half before his team could start converting many of their long drives into points. After the switch was flipped down by two scores early in the third quarter though, it was all Broncos the rest of the way as they ran off three consecutive scoring drives to take the lead and blocked a late field goal for good measure too.

Rypien wasn’t the only BSU playmaker that was tough to stop in the game however, as tailback Alexander Mattison picked up 144 yards and two scores on the ground as the workhorse between the tackles. He had just one long run of 14 yards but it seemed like just about every other carry went for four or five yards as he kept churning along and helped the Broncos offense record 24 first downs.

Fresno State was no slouch on the offensive end either even if they did just come up a bit short and missed two field goal attempts on the night. Signal-caller Marcus McMaryion wound up throwing for 283 yards and a touchdown, finding favorite target KeeSean Johnson for eight catches, 95 yards and that short toss into the end zone. It was a good thing that the combo was productive because running the ball was far from a sure thing in the game with Jordan Mims recording only 47 yards rushing and Ronnie Rivers adding another 33 and a touchdown.

The victory was a triple-whammy for the visiting Bulldogs, which last won in Boise back in 1984 — when the turf was far from blue. Not only were they unable to secure a bit of revenge for last year’s MWC title game loss to their Milk Can rivals, but the loss will potentially knock them out of the running for a potential Group of Five bid as well after sitting in the College Football Playoff Selection Committee’s rankings the past two weeks. Worse, if they wind up winning their division once again (which they can do at home against San Diego State next weekend) and have to play potential Mountain division champs Boise State, the tie-breaker would then put the game back on the blue turf in Idaho instead of in Fresno.

The flip side is that second half rally will help keep the Broncos afloat in their own tight division race with a ranked Utah State squad. They will host the Aggies at the end of the season in two weeks and may have done just enough to get the attention of the committee themselves for that elusive Group of Five bid if they run the table the rest of the way. It’s been a bit of an up-and-down campaign for Bryan Harsin’s team but they showed plenty of toughness on both sides of the ball on Friday night to cap off a great comeback and put their destiny back in their hands once again.

No. 23 Fresno State holding slim halftime lead over Boise State in battle for the Milk Can

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Nobody outside of UCF is better positioned to secure this year’s Group of Five bid than No. 23 Fresno State but Jeff Tedford’s team is locked into a battle on the blue turf against rival Boise State and hold a slim 10-3 lead at halftime of this critical Mountain West game on Friday night.

Marcus McMaryion led the way on the lone touchdown drive of the first half for the Bulldogs, capping things off with a toss to the back of the end zone to favorite target KeeSean Johnson (41 total yards to go with that score). The veteran quarterback wasn’t too sharp early on but eventually rebounded as the game went on to finish 12-of-15 for 125 yards while chipping in with another 13 on the ground. Tailback Jordan Mims did have 33 yards rushing but most of the team’s offensive damage was done through the air against that stout Boise defensive line.

The Broncos did what they could to stay in this game and take a lead, that much is for sure. Bryan Harsin’s group looked like they had no issues pulling out all the stops in this one, running both a flea flicker and a double reverse pass back to quarterback Brett Rypien. Just for good measure, there was also a fake field goal but that attempt went absolutely nowhere.

Despite the lack of scoring drives, it was still a solid half for Rypien in throwing for 149 yards with just three incompletions. He did throw an ill-advised interception in the final few minutes of the half but he was able to move the ball. Running back Alex Mattison also was ripping off chunks of yards with each carry and finished with 53 between the tackles.

In addition to all of the conference and national implications that this game carries, keep in mind that Fresno State has never won on the blue turf and are seeking revenge for last year’s loss at the same place in the Mountain West title game. Both programs are certainly very much in this one and the potential is brewing for a fun second half between these two rivals on a chilly night in Idaho.

Biletnikoff Award watch list highlighted by 2017 finalist David Sills

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You know how I know we’re getting closer to the start of a new season?  Yet another watch list.

The latest to release theirs is the Biletnikoff Award, with the honor going to the nation’s top receiver issuing a list consisting of 50 players from all nine FBS conferences as well as one independent (UMass).  Headlining this year’s preseason list is West Virginia’s David Sills, who was a finalist for the 2017 award claimed by Oklahoma State’s James Washington.  One other 2017 semifinalist is included as well, Ole Miss’ A.J. Brown.

A total of seven teams placed two receivers each on the watch list: Cal (Kanawai Noa, Vic Wharton III), Louisville (Dez Fitzpatrick, Jaylen Smith), Nebraska (Stanley Morgan Jr., JD Spielman), North Texas (Jalen Guyton, Michael Lawrence), Oklahoma (Marquise Brown, CeeDee Lamb), Toledo (Diontae Johnson, Cody Thompson) and West Virginia (Gary Jennings Jr., Sills).

Three conferences totaled seven players apiece, the ACC, Big 12 and MAC.  That trio is followed by five each from Conference USA and four apiece for the AAC, Pac-12 and Sun Belt.  The Big Ten and Mountain West each placed three.

Below is the complete list of 2018 Biletnikoff Award preseason watch listers:

JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford
Tyre Brady, Marshall
A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
Trevon Brown, East Carolina
Ryan Davis, Auburn
Greg Dortch, Wake Forest
Terren Encalade, Tulane
Dez Fitzpatrick, Louisville
James Gardner, Miami-Ohio
Jonathan Giles, LSU
Marcus Green, ULM
Jalen Guyton, North Texas
Emanuel Hall, Missouri
Justin Hall, Ball State
Kelvin Harmon, North Carolina State
N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
Penny Hart, Georgia State
Justin Hobbs, Tulsa
Andy Isabella, Massachusetts
Gary Jennings Jr., West Virginia
Anthony Johnson, Buffalo
Collin Johnson, Texas
Diontae Johnson, Toledo
KeeSean Johnson, Fresno State
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Michael Lawrence, North Texas
Ty Lee Middle, Tennessee
McLane Mannix, Nevada
Scott Miller, Bowling Green
Denzel Mims, Baylor
Stanley Morgan Jr., Nebraska
Kanawai Noa, California
James Proche, SMU
T.J. Rahming, Duke
Ahmmon Richards, Miami
Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
David Sills V, West Virginia
Steven Sims Jr., Kansas
Jaylen Smith, Louisville
Kwadarrius Smith, Akron
JD Spielman, Nebraska
Cody Thompson, Toledo
John Ursua, Hawaii
Teddy Veal, Louisiana Tech
Jamarius Way, South Alabama
Nick Westbrook, Indiana
Vic Wharton III, California
Malcolm Williams, Coastal Carolina
Olamide Zaccheaus, Virginia

Your 2017-2018 college football bowl schedule

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The matchups have been set. The dates have been reserved. Here is your full bowl schedule and pairings for this bowl season, starting with the College Football Playoff. All times are Eastern.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF

Rose Bowl Game: No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Georgia
January 1, 2018, 5:00 p.m., ESPN

Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Alabama
January 1, 2018, 8:45 p.m., ESPN

CFB National Championship Game: TBD vs. TBD
January 8, 2018, 8:00 p.m., ESPN

NEW YEARS SIX

Goodyear Cotton Bowl: No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 8 USC
December 29, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: No. 9 Penn State vs. No. 11 Washington
December 30, 4:00 p.m., ESPN

Capital One Orange Bowl: No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Miami
December 30, 8:00 p.m., ESPN

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: No. 7 Auburn vs. No. 12 UCF
January 1, 2018, 12:30 p.m., ESPN

THE REST

DECEMBER 16, 2017

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Troy vs. North Texas
1:00 p.m., ESPN

AutoNation Cure Bowl: Georgia State vs. Western Kentucky
2:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network

Las Vegas Bowl: No. 25 Boise State vs. Oregon
3:30 p.m., ABC

Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Colorado State vs. Marshall
4:30 p.m., ESPN

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl: Arkansas State vs. Middle Tennessee
8:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 19, 2017

Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl: FAU vs. Akron
7:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 20, 2017

Frisco Bowl: SMU vs. Louisiana Tech
8:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 21, 2017

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl: Temple vs. FIU
8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

DECEMBER 22, 2017

Bahamas Bowl: Ohio vs. UAB
12:30 p.m., ESPN

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Wyoming vs. Central Michigan
4:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 23, 2017

Birmingham Bowl: USF vs. Texas Tech
12:00 p.m., ESPN

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: Army vs. San Diego State
3:30 p.m., ESPN

Dollar General Bowl: Appalachian State vs. Toledo
7:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 24, 2017

Hawai’i Bowl: Houston vs. Fresno State
8:30 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 26, 2017

Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl: Utah vs. West Virginia
1:30 p.m., ESPN

Quick Lane Bowl: Duke vs. Northern Illinois
5:15 p.m., ESPN

Cactus Bowl: UCLA vs. Kansas State
9:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 27, 2017

Walk On’s Independence Bowl: Florida State vs. Southern Mississippi
1:30 p.m., ESPN

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa vs. Boston College
5:15 p.m., ESPN

Foster Farms Bowl: Purdue vs. Arizona
8:30 p.m., FOX

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl: Missouri vs. Texas
9:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 28, 2017

Military Bowl: Navy vs. Virginia
1:30 p.m., ESPN

Camping World Bowl: No. 19 Oklahoma State vs. No. 22 Virginia Tech
5:15 p.m., ESPN

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl: No. 16 Michigan State vs. No. 18 Washington State
9:00 p.m., FS1

Valero Alamo Bowl: No. 13 TCU vs. No. 15 Stanford
9:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 29, 2017

Belk Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Wake Forest
1:00 p.m., ESPN

Hyundai Sun Bowl: No. 24 NC State vs. Arizona State
3:00 p.m., CBS

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: No. 21 Northwestern vs. Kentucky
4:30 p.m., ESPN

NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl: Utah State vs. New Mexico State
5:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network

DECEMBER 30, 2017

TaxSlayer Bowl: No. 23 Mississippi State vs. Louisville
12:00 p.m., ESPN

AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Memphis vs. Iowa State
12:30 p.m., ABC

JANUARY 1, 2018

Outback Bowl: Michigan vs. South Carolina
12:00 p.m., ESPN2

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl: No. 14 Notre Dame vs. No. 17 LSU
1:00 p.m., ABC

QB Zack Greenlee leaving Fresno State, will transfer

Fresno State athletics
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A player who began the 2015 season as Fresno State’s starting quarterback will begin the 2016 season on another roster.

Fresno State announced in a press release that Zack Greenlee has been granted a release from the Bulldogs football program.  The school noted in the release that Greenlee will finish out the spring academic semester at Fresno State before seeking another institution to which to transfer.

“I am very thankful for the dedication that Zack brought to our program,” head coach Tim DeRuyter said. “He was a good teammate and a good player to coach. He now wishes to pursue other avenues with his education and football career and we wish him nothing but the best moving forward.”

Greenlee started the last season as the starter, but wound up losing the job shortly after serving a suspension. All told, Greenlee started five games last season after entering the year with one career start.

In the games in which he did play, Greenlee completed just under 47 percent of his 156 passes for 13 touchdowns and six interceptions.  Six of those touchdowns came in a 42-14 win over Hawaii, while five of his six interceptions came in the last three games of the year.

Greenlee was a three-star member of the Bulldogs’ 2013 recruiting class.