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Gene Chizik reportedly interviewed for Mississippi State job, removed himself as candidate

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Gene Chizik back in the SEC West?  It was certainly a possibility at one point.  Reportedly.

Friday, Mississippi State followed up on rumors by confirming that Joe Moorhead was out as head coach.  The name of Gene Chizik almost immediately came up as a potential replacement.

According to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic, Chizik did indeed draw the interest of MSU.  In fact, he interviewed for the opening Saturday.  A day later, though, Feldman reports, Chizik removed his name from consideration.

No reason for the withdrawal was given.

Chizik was the head coach at Auburn from 2009-2012, leading the Tigers to the 2010 national championship.  Two years later, he was fired by the university following a 3-9 season.

Prior to taking over at Auburn, he was the head coach at Iowa State for two seasons.  During that time, he posted a 5-19 record.  Overall, he’s 38-38 as a head coach.

After his Auburn dismissal, and following two seasons on the sidelines, Chizik was the defensive coordinator at North Carolina for two years.  In February of 2017, Chizik announced that, “[a]fter a lot of prayer and discussions with my wife and children, I have made the difficult decision to step away from coaching to be with my family.”

Since stepping down at USC, Chizik has served as a college football analyst for ESPN and the SEC Network.

With Chizik apparently no longer a consideration, a handful of candidates remain a part of the search in Starkville:

  • Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun
  • UAB head coach Bill Clark
  • Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham
  • Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz
  • New England Patriots special teams coordinator/ex-MSU football player Joe Judge
  • Army head coach Jeff Monken
  • Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian

Louisiana’s Billy Napier, prominently mentioned early on, stated over the weekend that he’s not a candidate.

Mack Brown caps first season back at North Carolina with Military Bowl thumping of Temple

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It’s been a while, but Mack Brown and North Carolina are finally back in a bowl winner’s circle.

Jumping out to a 20-6 halftime led, UNC never allowed Temple (8-5) to get any closer in a 55-13 Military Bowl manhandling of the Owls.  The win caps Brown’s first season back at Chapel Hill, pushing the Tar Heels to 7-6 on the season.  Prior to Brown’s return, UNC had won a combined five games the previous two seasons.

For Brown, it was his first bowl win since 2012 in his second-to-last season at Texas.  For UNC, it was the football program’s first bowl win since the 2013 season.  It’s also the most postseason points they’ve ever scored, trumping the 42 put up in the 1998 Gator Bowl.

And, as has been the case most of the season, a big reason for this latest triumph was Sam Howell.

The true freshman quarterback completed 25 of his 34 passes for 294 yards and three touchdowns.  Howell now has 38 touchdown passes on the year, extending the true freshman record he had broken earlier in the season (Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, 30 in 2018).  The all-time freshman record, true or redshirt, is 40, set by Florida State’s Jameis Winston in 2013.

Howell, though, was greatly aided on two of his touchdown tosses by Dazz Newsome‘s acrobatics and athleticism.

In addition to his arm, Howell also used his legs to put up 53 yards on the ground.  And, as if all of that wasn’t enough, Howell caught the first touchdown pass of his collegiate career, a two-yarder from wide receiver Rontavius Groves, extending his school’s lead to 41-6 late in the third quarter.

It wasn’t just a one-man effort, though, as the defense also had a hand in the rout.  Not only did the Tar Heels hold the Owls to just 2.3 yards per carry, All-Name first-teamer Storm Duck returned an interception 20 yards for a third-quarter touchdown as well.

In his first season with the Owls, Rod Carey fell to 0-7 in bowl games as a head coach — 0-6 at Northern Illinois, 0-1 at Temple.  Carey has also won exactly eight games each of the last three seasons and four of the past five.

With UNC’s win, the ACC improves to 2-1 this bowl season.  Conversely, the AAC falls to 1-2.

College Football Bowl Preview: Your Dec. 27 Viewer’s Guide

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Your trusty and semi-daily college football bowl preview that today takes a quick-hit look at the Dec. 27 bowl menu, one that features five games and schools from every Power Five conference.

WHO: North Carolina (6-6) vs. Temple (8-4)
WHAT: The 12th Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman
WHERE: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland
WHEN: Noon ET on ESPN
THE LINE: Temple, +5
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Michigan State (6-6) vs. Wake Forest (8-4)
WHAT: The 10th New Era Pinstripe Bowl
WHERE: Yankee Stadium, New York City, New York
WHEN: 3:20 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE LINE: Wake Forest, +3½
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Oklahoma State (8-4) vs. Texas A&M (7-5)
WHAT: The 14th Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl
WHERE: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
WHEN: 6:45 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE LINE: Oklahoma State, +6½
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: USC (8-4) vs. Iowa (9-3)
WHAT: The 42nd San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl
WHERE: SDCCU Stadium, San Diego, California
WHEN: 8 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1
THE LINE: USC, +2
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Air Force (10-2) vs. Washington State (6-6)
WHAT: The 31st Cheez-It Bowl
WHERE: Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona
WHEN: 10:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Ye Olde College Football Bowl Preview has decreed that there may be more disparate college football teams than Air Force and Washington State, but it certainly wouldn’t take long to call the roll. The Cougars lead the nation — by a wide margin — in passing, averaging 444.3 yards per game; LSU’s 386.8 ypg is second.  The Falcons, meanwhile, are 124th at 131 ypg.  Conversely, the military academy is third at the FBS level in averaging 292.5 ypg on the ground. … Average number of runs per game for Air Force: 57.  Average number of passes per game for Washington State: 56. … Wazzu’s Anthony Gordon is second in the FBS with 45 touchdown passes this season.  In two games (vs. UCLA in September, vs. Oregon State in November), Gordon threw a combined 15 touchdown passes; in 12 games this year, Air Force threw 14. …  The Falcons will be playing in their first bowl game since 2016.  The Cougars are playing in their fifth straight, and will be looking for back-to-back bowl wins for the first time since the mid-nineties. … A win today would be Air Force’s 11th, which would be the football program’s most since 1998. … A loss for Wazzu would leave them under .500 for a season for the first time since 2014, Mike Leach‘s third year in Pullman. … Coming into the postseason, the Falcons have won seven straight.  The Cougars started the 2019 campaign 3-0 before losing six of their last nine, including the Apple Cup to rival Washington. … Wazzu has played in this game once (1992), back when it was called the Copper Bowl.  Air Force’s only appearance came three years later. … In addition to the Cheez-It Bowl and Copper Bowl, this game has also answered to names such as Insight.com Bowl, Insight Bowl, Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and Cactus Bowl. … Regardless of how this game plays out, it can’t possibly match the ugly duck that was last year’s game.  In a matchup that featured nine interceptions (nine!!!) and 15 punts, TCU came away with a 10-7 overtime “win” over Cal.
THE LINE: Washington State, +3
THE PREDICTION: Air Force 28, Washington State 34

CFT Previews: Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman

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WHO: North Carolina (6-6) vs. Temple (8-4)
WHAT: The 11th Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman
WHEN: Noon ET on ESPN
WHERE: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md.
THE SKINNY: At long last, North Carolina and Temple will meet on the field. It took decades for the Tar Heels and Owls to collide, and they’ll finally do so for the first time in the all-important time slot of noon Eastern on a Friday.

North Carolina won a win-or-stay-home game over NC State to reach this matchup, and expect the Heels to be fired up after losing nine games each of the past two seasons. UNC is led by freshman quarterback Sam Howell, who checked in at No. 28 nationally in passing efficiency in the Tar Heels’ six wins and No. 5 in their six losses, where he fired 19 touchdown passes against just three picks. Nine of North Carolina’s first 10 games were decided by one score.

Temple largely feasted on the worst teams on its schedule and struggled against the best, save for the win over Memphis in October. Quarterback Anthony Russo leads the attack with 2,733 passing yards and 21 touchdowns.

Though they’ve never met on the field and (obviously) compete in different conferences, the teams share one common opponent: Georgia Tech. Temple scored a 24-2 win on Sept. 28, while UNC posted a 38-22 victory a week later. If only the Yellow Jackets knew then the history they helped create.

THE PICK: North Carolina 34, Temple 24

Clemson claims recruiting national title, with familiar contenders shaping the top 10

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The way Clemson football has been trending, it was bound to happen. On Wednesday, Clemson claimed a recruiting national championship with the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class in the Class of 2020 as the early signing period opened with a flurry. Dabo Swinney and the Tigers gobbled up plenty of top-tier talent across the board and put together the nation’s highest-rated class according to the composite rankings updated by 247 Sports.

Scanning down the top classes, there is no surprise to some of the other names pulling in top classes this year. Perennial recruiting national title contender Alabama came within two points of Clemson for the top spot in the Class of 2020 rankings, which is another way to say that the next few years look to be pretty promising for both Clemson and Alabama. How shocked are you by that?

It’s also not shocking to see the other names following the Tigers and Crimson Tide. Ohio State continues to dominate recruiting in the Big Ten with the No. 3 recruiting class. Georgia remains a strong recruiter as well at No. 4, followed by four more SEC programs; No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 7 Auburn, and No. 8 Florida. Lincoln Riley and the Oklahoma Sooners remain the team everyone in the Big 12 is chasing, even after losing a late commitment to Alabama. The Sooners are ranked No. 9 in the class rankings. Notre Dame rounds out the top 10, edging out Texas for the 10th spot in the class rankings.

Here are the top 25 recruiting classes for the Class of 2020, as of the end of the early signing day according to 247 Sports:

  1. Clemson
  2. Alabama
  3. Ohio State
  4. Georgia
  5. LSU
  6. Texas A&M
  7. Auburn
  8. Florida
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Notre Dame
  11. Texas
  12. Michigan
  13. Penn State
  14. Washington
  15. Tennessee
  16. Oregon
  17. South Carolina
  18. Miami
  19. North Carolina
  20. Nebraska
  21. Florida State
  22. Stanford
  23. Kentucky
  24. Georgia Tech
  25. Mississippi State

It should be noted the class rankings will officially be etched in stone in February following the later signing period.