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LSU, two B1G schools will have most players on Super Bowl rosters

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The LSU Tigers football program represented the sport well in winning the 2019 national championship, and now they’re set to be well-represented when the next level crowns its Super Bowl champion as well.

Sunday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs again overcame an early deficit to beat the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship game. In the NFC championship game, the San Francisco 49ers pummeled the Green Bay Packers to earn a berth opposite the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. That game will be played at the home of the Miami Hurricanes, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Feb. 2.

The 49ers, seeking their first Super Bowl win since 1994, have four former LSU football players currently listed on their official online roster*. The Chiefs, in search of their first title since 1969, have one former LSU football player on their Super Bowl roster. That total of five is tied for the most for a single school in this year’s game.

The number for LSU is matched by a pair of schools from the Big Ten — Iowa and Penn State — for the most players on Super Bowl rosters this year. Three former Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes play for the 49ers, two for the Chiefs.

Two SEC schools, Florida and Vanderbilt, each have four former players as part of the game, as does Stanford. Middle Tennessee State and San Diego State are two of a gaggle of schools with three players on teams playing in the game, which is the most of any Group of Five conference member.

Conference-wise, it was the SEC leading the way (again) with 32 players, followed by the Big Ten’s 22. The ACC (17), Pac-12 (16), Big 12 (12) and Conference USA (11) were the only other FBS leagues in double digits.

As for the other conferences?

  • Mountain West, nine
  • AAC, six
  • MAC, five
  • Sun Belt, four

Football independents accounted for six players. There were a total of 21 players who played at levels of football other than the FBS.

Below are all of the individual schools that will be represented on Super Sunday:

FIVE
Iowa
LSU
Penn State

FOUR
Florida
Stanford
Vanderbilt

THREE
Arizona
Auburn
Clemson
Kansas State
Middle Tennessee State
Mississippi State
Notre Dame
Ohio State
Oklahoma
Pittsburgh
San Diego State
South Carolina

TWO
Alabama
BYU
Central Michigan
Duke
FAU
Florida State
Georgia Southern
Michigan
Michigan State
NC State
Ole Miss
Oregon
Purdue
Southern Miss
Tennessee
Texas
Texas A&M
USF
Utah
Virginia

ONE
Air Force
Alabama A&M
Appalachian State
Arizona State
Arkansas
Baylor
Boston College
Bowling Green State
Buffalo
Cal
Cincinnati
Colorado
Colorado State
Colorado State-Pueblo
Eastern Illinois
Eastern Michigan
Eastern Washington
Georgia
Georgia Tech
Grand Valley State
Harvard
Hawaii
Illinois
Indiana
James Madison
Louisiana Tech
Louisiana
McGill (Canada)
Minnesota
Montana State
New Hampshire
New Mexico State
North Texas
Northern Illinois
Northern Iowa
Oklahoma State
Old Dominion
Oregon State
Princeton
Samford
San Diego
San Jose State
SMU
South Carolina State
TCU
Temple
Texas Tech
UConn
Utah State
Valdosta State
Villanova
Virginia Tech
Wagner
Washington
West Alabama
Western Illinois
Western Kentucky
Wyoming

(*Includes players on injured reserve, practice squad, etc.)

Mountain West Conference lands rich new TV deal with two TV partners

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The Mountain West Conference has a brand new TV deal locked in, and it’s a big one for the conference. The Mountain West announced it has agreed to terms on a new media rights deal with CBS Sports Network and FOX that will run through 2025-2026. The six-year contract is valued at $270 million for the conference.

The new media contract with CBS Sports and FOX will send 23 Mountain West Conference football games to CBS, CBS Sports Network, FOX, or FOX Sports 1, and an additional 10 games may be added to CBS Sports Network or CBS’s streaming digital platform, which is a paid service. FOX will air game son both network television and FOX Sports 1. FOX will have first dibs on any Boise State home games as part of the deal. FOX will broadcast the Mountain West Conference championship game as part of its package of games on either FOX or FOX Sports 1.

Boise State continues to be a winner in the new deal with a higher percentage of conference TV revenue share. However, it has been noted this will be the final time Boise State gets such an advantage.

Also of note, Hawaii will be keeping its own local rights agreement. In return, Hawaii will hand over conference games as part of the TV deal. Hawaii’s revenue share will be calculated differently as well.

The new media deal is certainly heavy on traditional television outlets as opposed to the push for digital streaming options. Even though the media landscape continues to move away form traditional cable options, the Mountain West Conference going with a relatively shorter contract shows the conference is still comfortable with the media landscape’s stability for the near future. And for how much the conference will distribute to conference members for the next six years, everyone should be pretty happy about the deal. As far as Group of Five conferences go, the Mountain West has a very good deal in place with multiple viewing options to expand the visibility of the conference’s football and basketball brands.

WR son of Ray Lewis set to transfer from Maryland

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One of the football-playing sons of former Miami great Ray Lewis is on the move yet again.

On Twitter Wednesday, Rayshad Lewis announced that he has taken the first step in transferring from Maryland by entering his name into the NCAA transfer database. “Thank you to everyone who has supported me and followed me on this journey,” the wide receiver wrote. “I truly appreciate it. …

“My time here has been a lot of ups and downs but I’m grateful for the whole process.”

Lewis, if he follows through with the move, would be leaving as a graduate transfer as he’s set to receive his degree in a couple of months.

The son of Ray Lewis came to the Terrapins as a defensive back before moving to receiver.  This past season, he caught three passes for 13 yards. He also averaged 18 yards on 11 kick returns over the past two years.

A two-star 2016 signee, Lewis actually began his collegiate career at Utah State.   As a true freshman, Lewis started seven of the 12 games in which he played. The 5-10, 165-pound receiver finished second on the team in catches (40) and receiving yards (476), while his two receiving touchdowns were tied for second. The receptions and yards were second-most in the school’s history for a freshman.

For good measure, he added 110 rushing yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.

In April of 2017, he decided to transfer from the Aggies.  Five months later, he officially landed with the Terps.  He sat out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

Minnesota hires Mike Sanford Jr. to fill OC opening

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Thanks to intraconference poaching, Minnesota has turned the keys to its offense over to Mike Sanford Jr.

Early Friday afternoon, Minnesota announced that P.J. Fleck has hired Mike Sanford Jr. as his next offensive coordinator.  Sanford replaces Kirk Ciarrocca, who was hired for the same job at Penn State late last month.

“I am thrilled to welcome Mike, his wife Anne-Marie and kids Peyton, Gunnar and Griffin to Minnesota,” said Fleck in a statement. “I have known Mike for many years, and he will be an elite addition to our staff. Mike is one of the brightest young minds in the game and brings a wealth of experience to our offensive staff room and our offensive system.”

Sanford was the head coach at Western Kentucky from 2017-18.  He was fired after going 9-16 in those two seasons.

This past season, Sanford coordinated Utah State’s offense.  The 37-year-old son of former UNLV head coach Mike Sanford comes to Minnesota having also served as the coordinator at Notre Dame (2015-16) and Boise State (2014).

From 2011-13, Sanford was an assistant at Stanford.  He was the running backs coach the first two seasons on The Farm, wide receivers coach the last one.  The last two seasons, he also held the title of run-game coordinator.

In addition to Sanford’s hiring, the football program also announced that Matt Simon has been promoted to co-offensive coordinator. Simon will continue to coach wide receivers as well.

Despite Simon’s promotion, Sanford will serve as the Golden Gophers’ primary in-game playcaller.

New Year’s Day, Minnesota capped off a historic season with an Outback Bowl upset of Auburn.  The 11 wins were the program’s most since they won 13 in 1904.  Minnesota’s only other seasons with 10 or more wins came in 1900, 1903, 1905 and 2003.

Kent State joins Buffalo as first-time MAC bowl winners

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For both Buffalo and Kent State, it was a first-ever opening to the 2019-20 bowl season.

Friday evening, Buffalo took care of business in a Makers Mark Bahamas Bowl win over Charlotte.  That marked the Bulls’ first-ever bowl win.  Friday night, Kent State took care of business in a Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl win over Utah State. That marked the Golden Flashes’ first-ever bowl win.

How those two MAC programs got to their respective first-evers were decidedly different.

Buffalo turned a 17-0 halftime lead into a 31-9 win that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. At the opposite end of the spectrum was Kent State, which took down Utah State in a wild 51-41 affair.  The Golden Flashes’ win featured three ties and six lead changes, with the outcome not decided until the last two minutes of the fourth quarter. The final margin, 10 points, was the largest of the game.

It was Dustin Crum‘s four-yard touchdown run with 1:56 remaining that proved to be the game-winner.  It was also Crum who proved to be the difference-maker throughout the game.

The junior quarterback accounted for 436 yards of offense — 289 passing, 147 rushing.  He also tossed a pair of touchdown passes to go along with his game-winning rushing touchdown.

In his final game at USU, Jordan Love passed for 317 yards and three touchdowns on 30-39 passing.

Under the youngest head coach at the FBS level — Sean Lewis, 33 — the Golden Flashes were playing in their first bowl game since 2012, and just the third in the program’s history.  They had lost both of those previous games.  Kent finishes the season with seven wins, its most since 2012 and just the second time they’ve reached that mark since 1987.

Since that 1987 season, the Golden Flashes have won six or more games on three occasions: 2001, 2012, 2019.  In 20 of those seasons, they won three games or less.