College Football
NCAAF News Wire
  • Notre Dame's Kelly named AP Coach of the Year
    By Field Level Media / Monday, December 17, 2018

    The last time Notre Dame finished the regular season unbeaten was 2012, and Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly received The Associated Press Coach of the Year for his work.

    • Six years later, history is repeating itself.

      Kelly, who has Notre Dame sitting at 12-0 and ranked No. 3 in the country, once again took home AP Coach of the Year honors on Monday, edging Alabama's Nick Saban.

      Kelly received 16 of 58 first-place votes, the same number Saban received. But Kelly received 81 total points in the voting, while Saban got 66. First-year Central Florida coach Josh Heupel was third with 33 points (five first-place votes).

      Kelly, Saban and TCU's Gary Patterson are the only two-time winners of the award, which was established in 1998.

      Not coincidentally, Kelly, Saban and Heupel coach three of the nation's four remaining unbeaten teams. Clemson, the nation's other team with a perfect record, will face the Irish in one of the College Football Playoff semifinal games, the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29.

      Top-ranked Alabama plays Oklahoma in the other semifinal, the Orange Bowl, also on Dec. 29. Central Florida, ranked No. 8, plays No. 11 LSU in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1.

      As far as history repeating, Kelly and the Irish hope that stops now. After the 2012 season, before the CFP was implemented, Notre Dame played Saban's Crimson Tide in the BCS championship game but fell 42-14.

      "I think I'm a better leader of our program," Kelly told The AP. "The organization has gotten so much bigger. The ability to create the right energy and day-to-day culture is difficult. I think I've gotten a lot better a leading that large group on a day-to-day basis."

      In nine seasons in South Bend, Ind., Kelly is 81-34. After a 4-8 season in 2016 during which rumors of Kelly's job security were a weekly topic, the Irish are 22-3 since the beginning of last season. They also topped out at No. 3 in the rankings last season before finishing No. 11 after beating LSU 21-17 in the Citrus Bowl.

      --Field Level Media

  • Ohio State RB Weber entering NFL draft
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, December 16, 2018

    Ohio State running back Mike Weber announced Sunday that he will bypass his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

    • Weber said on Twitter that he will play in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, when the sixth-ranked Buckeyes face ninth-ranked Washington, before ending his college career.

      "WOW It's been one Hell of a Journey," Weber wrote. "I will forgo my Senior Season and will live the dream I've had since 5 years old. I will be Declaring for the 2019 NFL Draft. I also will be playing in the Rose Bowl to finish what My brothers and I started.

      "I want to thank God for blessing me for this opportunity. My family for sticking with me through the ups and downs. My teammates for always pushing me. My coaches for helping shape me into the man I am today. My friends for being there every step of the way. Last but not least Buckeye Nation. I Love you!"

      Weber has rushed for 858 yards and five touchdowns this season and ranks 15th in school history with 2,580 yards. He rushed for 1,096 yards and nine scores as a freshman in 2016, and compiled 626 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2017.

      Most outlets peg Weber as a mid- to late-round pick. He joins defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Dre'Mont Jones as non-senior Buckeyes to declare for the draft.

      --Field Level Media

  • Missouri assistant coach arrested during traffic stop
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, December 16, 2018

    Missouri assistant football coach Vernon Hargreaves was arrested Saturday on an out-of-county warrant.

    • According to reports, the 56-year-old inside linebackers coach was arrested by campus police during a traffic stop. University Police public safety information specialist Sara Deidrich told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Hargreaves was pulled over for speeding, and a records check showed an active warrant for the coach's arrest.

      Hargreaves failed to show for a January court date in Miller County following a December 2017 traffic ticket. He was cited then for operating a vehicle without insurance and failing to register the vehicle.

      Hargreaves was booked at Boone County Jail and released on $1,000 bond.

      "We are aware of Vernon's situation and are in the process of gathering additional information," Missouri team spokesman Chad Moller told media outlets. "Once we have completed that process, we will be able to offer additional comment."

      Hargreaves joined the Tigers' football staff in December 2017 after three seasons at Arkansas.

      Missouri (8-4) plays Oklahoma State (6-6) in the Liberty Bowl on New Year's Eve in Memphis, Tenn.

      --Field Level Media

  • Heupel, Saban, Kelly finalists for AP coach of the year
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, December 16, 2018

    One of three undefeated college football coaches will be awarded the Associated Press coach of the year on Monday.

    • No. 1 Alabama's Nick Saban (13-0), No. 3 Notre Dame's Brian Kelly (12-0) and No. 7 Central Florida's Josh Heupel (12-0) were revealed Sunday as the finalists for the award.

      Saban has won the award twice, while Heupel is looking to make it two straight for UCF coaches after Scott Frost won the award last year.

      Saban and Kelly potentially could meet in the national championship game. Alabama faces No. 4 Oklahoma in one College Football Playoff semifinal, while Notre Dame takes on No. 2 Clemson in the other.

      Heupel's aiming to complete a second straight undefeated season for UCF, which faces No. 11 LSU in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1.

      A Heupel win would mark the first time different coaches had won the award at the same school in back-to-back seasons.

      --Field Level Media

  • Bowl roundup: Rushing Rivers lifts No. 21 Bulldogs in Vegas
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, December 15, 2018

    Sophomore Ronnie Rivers rushed for a career-high 212 yards on 24 carries and scored two second-half touchdowns as No. 21 Fresno State rallied for a 31-20 victory over Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday afternoon at Sam Boyd Stadium.

    • Rivers had scoring runs of 68 and 5 yards as Fresno State (12-2) hit the 12-win mark for the first time in its 97-year history. The Bulldogs, who held the Sun Devils (7-6) to just 293 total yards, also extended their streak of holding opponents under 30 points to 25 consecutive games, tops in the nation.

      Marcus McMaryion passed for 176 yards and rushed for 41 yards and a 10-yard touchdown for the Mountain West champion Bulldogs. Manny Wilkins completed 19 of 31 passes for 129 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for the Sun Devils.

      Arizona State sophomore running back Eno Benjamin rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown, breaking the school single-season record of 1,565 yards set by Woody Green in 1972. Benjamin finished the season with 1,642 yards.

      Utah State 52, North Texas 13

      Jordan Love passed for 359 yards and four touchdowns and also rushed for another score as the Aggies tied their school record with their 11th win of the season in beating the Mean Green in the New Mexico Bowl at Albuquerque, N.M.

      Utah State (11-2), which lost head coach Matt Wells to Texas Tech five days after a season-ending 33-24 loss at Boise State, also broke the Mountain West record for points in a season (604) set by BYU in 2001. The Aggies, who finished with a 556-313 edge in total yards, scored 618 points.

      Love completed 21 of 43 passes, including a 72-yard touchdown pass to Aaren Vaughns. Quarterback Mason Fine, the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year for North Texas (9-4), pulled his left hamstring on a scramble midway through the first quarter and completed 8 of 12 passes for 59 yards and no touchdowns before departing early in the second quarter.

      Georgia Southern 23, Eastern Michigan 21

      Tyler Bass' third field goal of the game, from 40 yards as time expired, was the game-winner for Georgia Southern over Eastern Michigan in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, Ala.

      Quarterback Shai Werts gained 79 yards on 16 carries and scored two rushing touchdowns for Georgia Southern (10-3), which won just two games a year ago. Wesley Kennedy III rushed for 107 yards on nine carries.

      Quarterback Mike Glass III completed 17 of 25 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns for Eastern Michigan (7-6), which last won a bowl game in 1987. Arthur Jackson III caught three passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns.

      Tulane 41, Louisiana 24

      Quarterback Justin McMillan threw for 145 yards and a touchdown, and running back Darius Bradwell added 150 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Green Wave past the Ragin' Cajuns in the Cure Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

      Bradwell's first score, a 15-yard run, tied the game at 7-7 in the first quarter, after Raymond Calais of Louisiana (7-7) romped 38 yards to open the scoring. In the fourth quarter, Bradwell's 4-yard burst put Tulane up 34-24 with 3:49 left.

      After the Green Wave (7-6) got the ball back on downs, McMillan rushed for a 16-yard touchdown. He earlier had connected with Terren Encalade for a 38-yard scoring strike.

      Appalachian State 45, Middle Tennessee 13

      Zac Thomas threw for three touchdowns and Malik Williams threw for two others as the Mountaineers won their fourth straight bowl game, routing the Blue Raiders in the New Orleans Bowl at the Superdome.

      Thomas completed 15 of 24 passes for 177 yards with two interceptions. He found Henry Pearson for a 1-yard scoring strike with 45 seconds left in the first half that gave the Mountaineers (11-2) a 24-3 lead, then hit Corey Sutton for touchdowns of 17 and 11 yards in the second half as Appalachian State pulled away.

      Thomas also caught a pass for a score, hauling in an 8-yard toss from Williams during a 24-point second quarter. Williams' other pass was a 30-yard touchdown to Thomas Hennigan that put the Mountaineers ahead for good.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: UCLA LB Phillips leaves school, retires
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, December 15, 2018

    UCLA linebacker Jaelan Phillips has left the program for medical reasons, with the school saying the former No. 1 defensive recruit has retired, multiple outlets reported Saturday night.

    • A Bruins spokesperson confirmed Phillips has medically retired to ESPN.

      Phillips suffered a concussion that ended his season in late September, culminating two injury-plagued years at UCLA. The 6-foot-5 Phillips appeared in just 11 games for the Bruins, hampered by a previous concussion and ankle woes in 2017.

      Phillips was a top-3 recruit coming out of Redlands (Calif.) East Valley High. He became one of the best pass rushers for the Bruins.

      Phillips had 20 tackles through four games this season. He finishes his career with 41 tackles, 4 1/2 sacks and eight tackles for loss.

      --Field Level Media

  • 5-star DE Thibodeaux commits to Oregon
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, December 15, 2018

    Kayvon Thibodeaux, a defensive end from Westlake Village, Calif., said Saturday he has committed to play at Oregon.

    • He made the announcement during halftime of the New Mexico Bowl.

      He is a consensus five-star prospect, with major recruiting services ranking him between No. 1 and No. 10 in the nation. The 247Sports composite lists him as the country's second-ranked high school player. He is No. 1 in the ESPN 300.

      Recruiting services already project Thibodeaux, who is 6-foot-4 and 239 pounds, as a top 10 NFL draft pick.

      Thibodeaux said he is looking forward to playing for head coach Mario Cristobal -- "He can take my game to the next level" -- and intends to do the same for the Ducks' defense.

      "You can take over on the defense," he said of choosing a school best known for its offense. "You can be the best man. You can be the biggest man. That's my goal."

      Oregon and Alabama were considered the favorites to land Thibodeaux, who had offers from about two dozen schools.

      His commitment cemented Oregon's spot atop the Pac-12 recruiting standings. Nationally, Oregon's Class of 2019 ranks fifth, sandwiched between LSU and Clemson, according to the 247Sports composite.

      The early national signing period begins Wednesday and runs for three days.

      --Field Level Media

  • Memphis RB Henderson to skip Birmingham Bowl
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, December 15, 2018

    Memphis All-America running back Darrell Henderson will not play in the Birmingham Bowl.

    • Head coach Mike Norvell made the announcement on Friday, two days after Henderson declared for the NFL draft but didn't state his bowl intentions. He did not take part in the Tigers' first three bowl practices.

      "He's got a great future in front of him. He did a wonderful job when he was here, he represented our program in a first-class fashion. I know he's going to continue to do that," Norvell said.

      Henderson led the nation in all-purpose yards (2,328) and total touchdowns (25), and his 22 rushing touchdowns tied for the No. 1 spot in the nation. His 1,909 yards rushing were second to Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor.

      Henderson ranks second in Memphis history with 3,545 career rushing yards. DeAngelo Williams (2002-05) holds the school mark of 6,026.

      Memphis will face Wake Forest in the Birmingham Bowl on Dec. 22.

      --Field Level Media

  • Michigan State CB Layne declares for NFL draft
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, December 15, 2018

    Michigan State cornerback Justin Layne will pass up his senior season to enter the 2019 NFL Draft.

    • Layne announced his decision Friday on Twitter, but he did not indicate whether he would participate in the Spartans' Redbox Bowl game against Oregon on Dec. 31.

      Layne, who tallied 130 tackles and three interceptions in 34 career games, thanked coach Mark Dantonio, the Michigan State coaching staff and "all who have supported me on my journey."

      "It has been a privilege to develop as a player under their counsel, but more importantly to grow into a man," he wrote. "I promise to always represent our university with professionalism and class. Of course, I wouldn't be here without the help of my teammates. So thank you."

      An All-Big Ten Second Team selection in 2018, Layne finished tied for first in the conference with 15 pass breakups.

      ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. recently listed the 6-foot-3 junior as the No. 10 draft-eligible player at his position.

      --Field Level Media

  • Tennessee junior LB Sapp declares for NFL draft
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    Tennessee Volunteers linebacker Quart'e Sapp declared his intentions to give up his final season of eligibility to become available for the NFL draft next spring.

    • Sapp, a redshirt junior who graduated on Friday, revealed his plans in posting a video to Twitter.

      Sapp was a four-star recruit for the Volunteers out of Alpharetta, Ga., and finished fourth on the team with 78 tackles in his sophomore season. But with a new coaching staff this season, Sapp played only six games and registered just 29 tackles.

      Sapp was involved in an unusual situation when Volunteers coach Jeremy Pruitt sent Sapp to the locker room during the team's 47-21 loss vs. Florida on Sept. 22, with Pruitt telling media members afterward that Sapp had refused to enter the game.

      Sapp posted on Twitter the following day to deny Pruitt's account, saying "I never was asked nor did I ever refuse to go into the game."

      Later that week Pruitt brushed the incident aside publicly, describing Sapp as "a great ambassador to our program."

      --Field Level Media

  • Saban: Bama hasn't hired ex-Maryland coach
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    The appearance of former Maryland football coach DJ Durkin on the Alabama campus might be raising a few eyebrows, so Crimson Tide dynasty builder Nick Saban decided to set the record straight Friday.

    • "DJ Durkin is spending a few days with our staff in Tuscaloosa from a professional development standpoint," Saban, Alabama's head coach, said in a statement released by the university. "He has not been hired in any capacity at the University of Alabama. He is simply observing our operation as many other coaches have done through the years."

      According to sources at ESPN, Durkin will not join the Tide when they face the Oklahoma Sooners in the Orange Bowl for the College Football Playoff semifinal matchup on Dec. 29.

      In October, Maryland's president fired Durkin, who was initially retained following two separate investigations into the death of former player Jordan McNair during offseason workouts last spring. Durkin, who faced allegations of bullying and intimidation by himself and one of his assistants, spent more than two months on administrative leave during the investigations.

      Among the former coaches who have shared time with Alabama's staff after being fired are Hugh Freeze, Chip Kelly, Lane Kiffin, Butch Jones and Steve Sarkisian. Jones, Kiffin and Sarkisian eventually joined Alabama's staff in varying roles, while Freeze, Kelly (and also Kiffin) became head coaches elsewhere in college football.

      Durkin also has met with some NFL teams since his firing to watch tape and offer input, according to ESPN sources.

      --Field Level Media

  • College football notebook: Tua back for Bama's 1st bowl practice
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    Alabama sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was not a full participant Friday afternoon, but the fact that he went through many of the drills during the Crimson Tide's first bowl practice was good news -- and a relief -- for all concerned.

    • Less than two weeks after he underwent surgery to help repair a high ankle sprain suffered in the SEC championship game, Tagovailoa reportedly participated in all but one drill during the media viewing period of Friday's indoor practice in shorts and shells.

      According to a report on al.com, Tagovailoa's lower left leg was wrapped. He consulted with head athletic trainer Jeff Allen before throwing the ball with backup Jalen Hurts and practiced dropback drills, looking more mobile than Hurts, who suffered an ankle injury in October. Members of Tagovailoa's family, including brother Taulia and father Galu, attended the practice.

      During the Heisman Trophy ceremony on Saturday in New York, where he finished runner-up to Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, Tagovailoa used a walking boot and medical scooter to get around. He was assisted by Allen.

      --Akron is hiring Tom Arth as head coach, the school announced.

      The board of trustees must still formally approve the hire. The 37-year-old Arth is scheduled to be introduced on Monday.

      Arth spent the past two seasons as coach of Chattanooga. He had a 9-13 record at the FCS program.

      --Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton is planning to attend the Fiesta Bowl with his team after undergoing his fourth surgery following a devastating injury to his right knee and leg.

      According to a video posted on his mother Teresa's Instagram account Friday morning, doctors considered the surgery to be a success.

      The video on Friday featured the medical staff from Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic in Orlando, Fla. She asked two medical staff members how his surgery on Thursday went. "Everything went perfect," one doctor said in the video, while another also used the word "perfect."

      --Kansas State running back Alex Barnes announced he will enter the 2019 NFL Draft.

      Barnes, the leading rushing the Big 12 in 2018, confirmed via Twitter his junior season was his last.

      "I am officially declaring for the 2019 NFL Draft. I'll do my best to represent you, my family," Barnes wrote, addressing Wildcats fans.

      --Kentucky running back Benny Snell Jr. declared for the NFL draft but also announced he plans to remain with the Wildcats for a final farewell in the Citrus Bowl.

      Snell said in a video posted to Twitter, "There comes a time you have to leave home to build a life of your own. That's what I'm about to do."

      The junior has 1,305 rushing yards with 14 touchdowns, his second consecutive 1,300-yard rushing season.

      --Florida International running back Shawndarrius Phillips was arrested this week on a domestic battery charge, more than three months after a warrant for his arrest was issued, according to the Miami Herald.

      Phillips, the team's third-leading rusher, played in 11 games this season despite the warrant in neighboring Broward County.

      The arrest stems from allegations from Phillips' ex-girlfriend, who reportedly told police on June 17 that he began choking her during an argument a month after they broke up.

      --Former Pittsburgh Panthers offensive lineman Bill Fralic died Thursday after a battle with cancer at the age of 56.

      A prep star at Penn Hill High School in Pittsburgh, Fralic excelled with the Panthers in college from 1981-84, twice finishing in the top 10 of Heisman voting and eventually being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

      Fralic returned to the area after his nine-year NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons (1985-92) and Detroit Lions (1993), including working for several seasons as a radio commentator for the Panthers.

      --Field Level Media

  • Alabama QB Tagovailoa (ankle) back for 1st bowl practice
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    Alabama sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was not a full participant Friday afternoon, but the fact that he went through many of the drills during the Crimson Tide's first bowl practice was good news -- and a relief -- for all concerned.

    • Less than two weeks after he underwent surgery to help repair a high ankle sprain suffered in the SEC championship game, Tagovailoa reportedly participated in all but one drill during the media viewing period of Friday's indoor practice in shorts and shells.

      According to a report on al.com, Tagovailoa's lower left leg was wrapped. He consulted with head athletic trainer Jeff Allen before throwing the ball with backup Jalen Hurts and practiced dropback drills, looking more mobile than Hurts, who suffered an ankle injury in October. Members of Tagovailoa's family, including brother Taulia and father Galu, attended the practice.

      During the Heisman Trophy ceremony on Saturday in New York, where he finished runner-up to Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, Tagovailoa used a walking boot and medical scooter to get around. He was assisted by Allen.

      Tagovailoa has thrown for 37 touchdowns and four interceptions this season, but it was Hurts who led the Tide to the comeback win over Georgia in the SEC title game on Dec. 1.

      Oklahoma and Alabama will meet in the College Football Playoff semifinal game at the Orange Bowl on Dec. 29 in Miami.

      --Field Level Media

  • Akron hires Arth as head coach
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    Akron is hiring Tom Arth as head coach, the school announced Friday.

    • The board of trustees must still formally approve the hire. The 37-year-old Arth is scheduled to be introduced on Monday.

      Arth spent the past two seasons as coach of Chattanooga. He had a 9-13 record at the FCS program.

      Prior to the stop at Chattanooga, Arth went 40-8 from 2013-16 at Division III John Carroll University, which is his alma mater.

      "Tom's experience in leading two programs, his ties to Northeast Ohio, his tremendous football IQ, and his passion for developing student-athletes for their future endeavors made him the perfect candidate to elevate our program," Akron athletic director Larry Williams said in a statement.

      Arth replaces Terry Bowden, who went 35-52 in seven seasons with the Zips.

      --Field Level Media

  • UCF QB has successful surgery, plans to attend bowl
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton is planning to attend the Fiesta Bowl with his team after undergoing his fourth surgery following a devastating injury to his right knee and leg.

    • According to a video posted on his mother Teresa's Instagram account Friday morning, doctors considered the surgery to be a success.

      The video on Friday featured the medical staff from Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic in Orlando, Fla. She asked two medical staff members how his surgery on Thursday went.

      "Everything went perfect," one doctor said in the video, while another also used the word "perfect."

      Milton has been fitted with a new knee brace that will enable him to start mobility work.

      An ultrasound was "music to our hearts" according to a Thursday tweet from Milton's mother. The results of the ultrasound, according to Milton's father Mark, showed improvement on the nerve that was damaged as a result of the injury, and blood flow in the leg is good.

      Mark Milton added that his son, who will require another surgery in January, has a "good, positive mindset" and everything is "headed in the right direction."

      The injury occurred in the second quarter during a 38-10 victory over USF on Nov. 23, when Milton took a damaging hit that caused his knee to be dislocated. He underwent emergency surgery at Tampa General Hospital to restore blood flow and two more surgeries in order to restore vascular flow in his leg.

      No. 8 and undefeated Central Florida will face No. 11 LSU on Jan. 1 in the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.

      --Field Level Media

  • K-State RB Barnes turning pro
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    Kansas State running back Alex Barnes will enter the 2019 NFL Draft, he announced Friday.

    • Barnes, the leading rushing the Big 12 in 2018, confirmed via Twitter his junior season was his last.

      "I am officially declaring for the 2019 NFL Draft. I'll do my best to represent you, my family," Barnes wrote, addressing Wildcats fans.

      Barnes rushed for 1,355 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. His top outing was a 250-yard performance against Baylor.

      New Kansas State coach Chris Klieman, who is still splitting his time between North Dakota State and K-State, loses his top three backs off of the K-State roster.

      --Field Level Media

  • Kentucky RB Snell Jr. enters NFL draft, will play in bowl game
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    Kentucky running back Benny Snell Jr. declared for the NFL draft on Friday but also announced he plans to remain with the Wildcats for a final farewell in the Citrus Bowl.

    • Snell said in a video posted to Twitter, "There comes a time you have to leave home to build a life of your own. That's what I'm about to do."

      The junior has 1,305 rushing yards with 14 touchdowns, his second consecutive 1,300-yard rushing season.

      His 2017 season ended when he was ejected from the Music City Bowl -- in a highly debatable ruling of making contact with an official -- perhaps added motivation for Snell to play in one last bowl game. Several pro prospects have sat out bowl games to avoid injury risk in both this and prior seasons.

      Snell's father, Ben Snell, was a running back at Ohio Northern and briefly spent time with the Baltimore Ravens.

      Snell is viewed as a second- or third-round prospect in 2019, according to Dane Brugler of The Athletic.

      Snell left little doubt that he would suit up on Jan. 1 to face 12th-ranked Penn State.

      "Am I playing? Snell Yeah," he added. "There's no way I'd miss an opportunity like this. BBN (Big Blue Nation), you better not miss it either. I've got one more chance to wear that uniform. BET I make it count."

      --Field Level Media

  • Former Pitt OL Fralic dead at 56
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    Former Pittsburgh Panthers offensive lineman Bill Fralic died Thursday after a battle with cancer at the age of 56.

    • A prep star at Penn Hill High School in Pittsburgh, Fralic excelled with the Panthers in college from 1981-84, twice finishing in the top 10 of Heisman voting and eventually being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

      Fralic returned to the area after his NFL career, including working for several seasons as a radio commentator for the Panthers.

      The university announced his death on Friday.

      "Bill Fralic was not only an all-time player at the University of Pittsburgh, but an all-time human being. His generosity, support and concern for others was unmatched," said Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi in a tweet.

      He was drafted second overall in 1985 by the Atlanta Falcons and went on to a nine-year career that included four straight Pro Bowl nods and two All-Pro selections.

      Fralic spent eight seasons with the Falcons before capping his career with a season in Detroit. He started 131 of 132 games he appeared in.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: FIU RB played season despite arrest warrant
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    Florida International running back Shawndarrius Phillips was arrested this week on a domestic battery charge, more than three months after a warrant for his arrest was issued, according to the Miami Herald.

    • Phillips, the team's third-leading rusher, played in 11 games this season despite the warrant in neighboring Broward County.

      The arrest stems from allegations from Phillips' ex-girlfriend, who told police on June 17 that he began choking her during an argument a month after they broke up.

      FIU is scheduled to play Toledo in the Bahamas Bowl on Thursday. A school official told the Herald it had no comment about Phillips or whether the program knew of the existing warrant.

      Phillips, a junior, was still listed on the roster on the school's website as of Friday morning.

      Phillips finished the season with 393 yards and four touchdowns, both third among the team's rushers.

      --Field Level Media

  • BOWL CAPSULE: New Orleans Bowl
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    NEW ORLEANS BOWL

    • Middle Tennessee (8-5) vs. Appalachian State (10-2)

      Line: Appalachian State by 7

      Time and place: 9 p.m. EST (ESPN), Superdome, New Orleans

      Series record: Middle Tennessee leads 2-1

      PLOTLINES

      The Mountaineers won a championship and lost a coach. Just days after dumping Louisiana Lafayette in the Sun Belt Conference title game, they waved goodbye to Scott Satterfield, who took on the thankless task of rebuilding the Louisville program. Assistant Mark Ivey will serve as the team's interim coach for the bowl game. Meanwhile, the Blue Raiders continue to churn out winning seasons under coach Rick Stockstill, earning their eighth bowl appearance in his 13 years.

      KEY MATCHUP

      Middle Tennessee QB Brent Stockstill vs. Appalachian State secondary. The son of the Blue Raiders' coach completed 70.5 percent of his passes this year for 3,214 yards with 28 TDs and only eight interceptions. The Mountaineers were downright stingy against the pass, allowing just a 55.7 percent completion rate and only 148.1 yards per game while picking off 15 attempts. Aside from Penn State QB Trace McSorley, though, they haven't faced many elite passers.

      PLAYERS TO WATCH

      Middle Tennessee: WR Ty Lee has been a consistent producer from the day he arrived on campus, catching 67 passes in 2018 for 828 yards and seven TDs. If he makes six catches on Saturday night, he'll reach 200 for his career. S Wesley Bush is one of the nation's top ballhawks, intercepting six passes for 149 return yards and two TDs this season.

      Appalachian State: RB Darrynton Evans became a big-play threat, rushing for 1,079 yards and seven TDs while averaging 6.5 yards per carry this season. He also averaged 33.5 yards per kickoff return with a TD and also caught a pass for a TD. DB Tae Hayes, who might have a busy night against the Blue Raiders' passing game, finished the year with three interceptions and six pass breakups. He also blocked two kicks.

      NUMBERS GAME

      Middle Tennessee is 2-5 in bowl games under Stockstill, although it defeated Arkansas State 35-32 last year in the Camellia Bowl. ... Appalachian State was 42 seconds away from stunning Penn State in the season opener before the Nittany Lions scored a TD on fourth down, then won 45-38 in OT. ... Blue Raiders K Crews Holt has converted his last 13 FGs, but has missed five PATs on the year. ... The Mountaineers are 11th in FBS in yards per carry at 5.72.

      FIELD LEVEL MEDIA PREDICTION

      Appalachian State appears a bit too well-rounded for Middle Tennessee. Its offensive line and ground game should be able to carry the day.

      Appalachian State 41, Middle Tennessee 28.

      --Field Level Media

  • BOWL CAPSULE: Camellia Bowl
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    RAYCOM CAMELLIA BOWL

    • Georgia Southern (9-3) vs. Eastern Michigan (7-5)

      Line: Georgia Southern by 1 1/2

      Time and place: 5:30 p.m. ET (ESPN), Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Ala.

      Series record: First meeting

      PLOTLINES

      Two programs that don't often play in the postseason will try to finish off surprising seasons in style. Chad Lunsford quickly turned around Georgia Southern, which won two games a year ago, in his first season as head coach. One of its losses came against No. 2 Clemson. Eastern Michigan is seeking its first eight-win season since 1987. Eastern Michigan owns a quality road victory at Purdue, its second straight victory over a Big Ten Conference opponent.

      KEY MATCHUP

      Georgia Southern's triple option versus Eastern Michigan's run defense. Georgia Southern went back to its roots and embraced its traditional triple option under Lunsford. The results have been impressive, as Georgia Southern has averaged 5.4 yards per carry and scored 33 rushing touchdowns. EMU's defense allowed only one TD in the last 12 quarters and faced a similar offense against Army, a 37-22 loss.

      PLAYERS TO WATCH

      Georgia Southern: QB Shai Werts and RB Wesley Fields. Fields (959 yards, nine TDs) got hot late in the season, rushing for a combined 299 yards and three TDs in the last two games. Werts, a sophomore, is a dual threat who has rushed for 829 yards and a team-high 13 TDs while adding 10 TD passes. He accounted for three TDs in a 35-14 victory over Georgia State in the regular-season finale.

      Eastern Michigan: DL Maxx Crosby. Crosby became the first EMU defensive player in more than 20 years to earn back-to-back First Team All-Mid-American Conference honors. He ranks fifth nationally in forced fumbles per game (0.36), as well as 10th in tackles-for-loss per game (1.6). He recorded 3.0 sacks, a forced fumble and an interception return for a score during the team's current three-game winning streak.

      NUMBERS GAME

      The Camellia Bowl has been decided by five or fewer points over the past four seasons. ... Werts did not throw an interception this season, while EMU quarterbacks have only been picked off four times. ... EMU will be playing its first game in the state of Alabama. ... Georgia Southern's only previous bowl appearance came in 2015, when it defeated Bowling Green, 58-27, in the GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile, Ala. ... EMU is playing its first bowl game on U.S. soil in 31 years. It lost to Old Dominion in the 2016 Bahamas Bowl.

      FIELD LEVEL MEDIA PREDICTION

      Georgia Southern's option attack can be very difficult to contain, even with a month's worth of preparation. The Eagles aren't built to play catchup if they fall behind early.

      Georgia Southern 33, Eastern Michigan 14

      --Field Level Media

  • BOWL CAPSULE: Las Vegas Bowl
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    LAS VEGAS BOWL

    • No. 21 Fresno State (11-2) vs. Arizona State (7-5)

      Line: Fresno State -4.5

      Time and place: 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC), Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nev.

      Series record: Arizona State leads 3-0.

      PLOTLINES

      Mountain West champion Fresno State is seeking to become the first team in the 97-year history of the program to win 12 games in a season. The Bulldogs got here with a dramatic 19-16 overtime win at Boise State with sophomore running back Ronnie Rivers scoring on a 1-yard run on third-and-goal to give Fresno State the walk-off win. Arizona State finished second in a tightly-bunched Pac-12 South Division in the Sun Devils' first year under Herm Edwards. The Sun Devils won four of their final five games capped by a 41-40 Territorial Cup victory at Arizona, rallying from a 19-point, fourth-quarter deficit to pull out the victory.

      KEY MATCHUP

      Sun Devils RB Eno Benjamin vs. Bulldogs LB Jeff Allison. Benjamin, a 5-foot-10, 201-pound sophomore, leads the Pac-12 and ranks third nationally in rushing with 1,524 yards and 15 touchdowns on 277 carries and also has caught 33 passes for 247 yards and two more TDs. Allison was the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year after compiling 121 tackles and had double-digit tackles in 12 games his career. He anchors a Fresno State defense that ranks second nationally in scoring defense allowing 13.7 points per game and is tied for fifth nationally in interceptions with 17.

      PLAYERS TO WATCH

      Fresno State: QB Marcus McMaryion and WR KeeSean Johnson. McMaryion has passed for 3,453 yards, 25 touchdowns and three interceptions and is on pace to break David Carr's school record for completion percentage (68.7), having completed 278 of398 passes (69.8). Johnson ranks fourth in the FBS in receptions (93) and eighth in receiving yards (1,307) and has caught a pass in 49 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NCAA.

      Arizona State: QB Manny Wilkins and LB Merlin Robertson. Wilkins has passed for 2,896 yards and 19 touchdowns while throwing just four interceptions but will be without star wide receiver N'Keal Harry (73, 1,088 yards, nine TDs) who is bypassing the game to get ready for the 2019 NFL Draft. Robertson garnered Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year honors with a team-high 77 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and an interception.

      NUMBERS GAME

      Fresno State has a nation-leading streak of 24 consecutive games of holding opponents under 30 points. ... Edwards is the first Arizona State coach in the Pac-10/12 era to defeat USC, UCLA and Arizona in his first season. ... Benjamin needs 42 rushing yards to break Woody Green's school single-season record (1,565) set in 1972. ... Fresno State has outscored its opponents, 150-21, in the third quarter. ... The Bulldogs are 13-2 when winning the turnover battle under Jeff Tedford. ... Fresno State is tied for fifth in the FBS with 17 interceptions.

      FIELD LEVEL MEDIA PREDICTION

      Fresno State will be aiming to make school history with a 12th win while the Sun Devils, minus Harry, will be looking at getting some underclassmen more experience.

      Fresno State 24, Arizona State 14

      --Field Level Media

  • BOWL CAPSULE: New Mexico Bowl
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    NEW MEXICO BOWL

    • North Texas (9-3) vs. Utah State (10-2)

      Line: Utah State -7.5

      Time and place: 2 p.m. ET (ESPN), University Stadium, Albuquerque, N.M.

      Series record: Utah State leads 4-3.

      PLOTLINES

      Call it a tale of two coaching searches. North Texas will be making its third straight bowl appearance under head coach Seth Littrell who turned down an opportunity to replace Bill Snyder as head coach at Kansas State. Littrell instead will try to guide the Mean Green to 10 wins for just the third time in program history. Utah State, meanwhile, will turn to assistant head coach Frank Maile as interim head coach after Mountain West Coach of the Year Matt Wells departed to become head coach at Texas Tech, taking a handful of assistants with him. The Aggies brought back former head coach Gary Andersen, who also had head coaching stints at Wisconsin and Oregon State and was the assistant head coach at Utah, to take over for Wells but he will not coach the bowl game.

      KEY MATCHUP

      Aggies QB Jordan Love versus North Texas' secondary. Love was named Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week five times this season, tying the conference single-season record. He has completed 246 of 374 passes (.658 percent) for 3,208 yards and a school record 28 touchdowns while throwing just five interceptions and rushing for six more TDs. He'll be going against a North Texas defense that tied for fifth in the nation with 17 interceptions to go along with 33 sacks. The good news for the Aggies is offensive coordinator David Yost will coach the bowl game before departing for Lubbock to join Wells.

      PLAYERS TO WATCH

      North Texas: QB Matt Fine and CB Nate Brooks. Fine was named the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year for the second straight season after passing for 3,734 yards, 27 touchdowns and five interceptions. Brooks was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award and has five interceptions.

      Utah State: QB Jordan Love and WR/KR Savon Scarver. Love engineered an offense that finished third nationally in scoring (47.2) and 11th in total offense (492.5). Scarver was named a first team All-American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation after leading the nation in kickoff returns with an average of 34.2 yards including two touchdowns. He also caught two touchdown passes.

      NUMBERS GAME

      Utah State set school records this season with 72 touchdowns and 566 points scored. The Mountain West record for points scored in a season in 608 by BYU in 2001. ... The Aggies are playing in a bowl game for the seventh time in eight years and defeated UTEP, 21-6, in the 2014 New Mexico Bowl. ... Utah State had a school-record 10-game win streak snapped with a regular-season ending 33-24 loss at Boise State. ... North Texas is on a pace to set single-season team records in scoring (36.4), total offense (472.8) and passing yards (316.2). ... Mean Green LB E.J. Ejiya is fourth in the nation with 23.0 tackles for loss to go along nine sacks and 113 total tackles. ... Utah State has forced 28 turnovers which ranks third in the nation behind Ohio State (30) and Syracuse (30).

      FIELD LEVEL MEDIA PREDICTION

      One major variable: How will USU react to the loss of Matt Wells? Having OC David Yost stick around to run the offense is a big plus for an Aggies team that is a touchdown away at Michigan State and a nine-point loss at Boise State from being 12-0.

      Utah State 44, North Texas 35

      --Field Level Media

  • BOWL CAPSULE: Auto Nation Cure Bowl
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    AUTONATION CURE BOWL

    • Tulane (6-6) vs. Louisiana Lafayette (7-6)

      Line: Tulane by 3 ½.

      Time and place: 1:30 p.m. EST (CBSSN), Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fla.

      Series record: Tulane leads 22-6.

      PLOTLINES

      This game will be a big deal for the Green Wave, appearing in their first bowl since 2013 and only their second since 2002. The Cajuns should be excited, too, because this will be their first bowl game other than the New Orleans Bowl, which they've won four times in five tries. Both teams offer potent running games. Tulane averages 208.2 yards per game and Louisiana gains 229.1, ranking both among the top 30 nationally.

      KEY MATCHUP

      Louisiana QB Andre Nunez vs. Tulane secondary. Nunez completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 2,136 yards with 19 TDs, and has a good matchup against an opponent which was 114th nationally in passing yardage allowed at 266.6 per game. Keep an eye on WR Ja'Marcus Bradley, who made his 38 catches count to the tune of 557 yards and 10 TDs. Nunez and Bradley seem certain to author at least one big play Saturday.

      PLAYERS TO WATCH

      Tulane: WR Darrell Mooney is averaging 21 yards per catch and needs just 13 yards to reach 1,000 for the year. Imagine what Mooney could have done with more accurate quarterbacks. The two the Green Wave use barely hit over 50 percent of their passes. LB Zachery Harris finished with a team-high 87 tackles, including 10 stops in the season finale against Navy.

      Louisiana: RBs Trey Ragas and Elijah Mitchell. The duo combined for 2,100 yards this year, Ragas leading the way with 1,141 and eight TDs on 197 carries for a 5.8 yard average. Mitchell added 12 scores and picked up nearly seven yards per carry, belying a stocky 5-11, 221-pound frame. Both will get tested by a solid Tulane run defense that finished a respectable 50th in FBS.

      NUMBERS GAME

      Ragas rushed for 111 yards against Alabama on September 29, a statement few running backs anywhere have been able to make in recent years. ... Tulane QB Justin McMillan threw for a career-high 291 yards in his team's win over Navy November 24 that cinched its bowl bid. ... Louisiana K Kyle Pfau has the big leg and accuracy to handle a pressure kick. Pfau made 14-of-17 this year with five makes from 40 yards or longer. ... The Green Wave are 12-4 since the start of the 2016 season when compiling at least 420 total yards on offense.

      FIELD LEVEL MEDIA PREDICTION

      Louisiana appears to be a little more balanced offensively and will prevail in an exciting contest.

      Louisiana 38, Tulane 34.

      --Field Level Media

  • College football notebook: Murray takes first step toward NFL
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, December 13, 2018

    Quarterback Kyler Murray was one of the underclassmen whose names Oklahoma submitted to the NFL College Advisory Committee, Sports Illustrated reported Thursday. That could imply a change of plans for Murray, an outfielder selected ninth overall by the Oakland Athletics in the 2018 MLB Draft.

    • The newest Heisman Trophy winner has until Jan. 14 to decide if he wants to pursue an NFL career and enter his name in the draft. His agent, Scott Boras, initially downplayed Murray's interest in the NFL, pointing to the contract Murray agreed to with the A's that included a $4.6 million signing bonus and an agreement Murray would report to spring training in 2019.

      However, Wednesday night in Las Vegas, where Boras was peddling free agents to baseball general managers, the agent's tone softened. The thesis of his comments: Plans are subject to change.

      Former NFL general manager Bill Polian said recently he believes Murray would be drafted in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Murray's outstanding season for the Sooners boosted his NFL draft stock, with many media outlets pegging him as a first- or second-round pick if he were to enter the April draft. ESPN's Mel Kiper has said Murray likely would be a first-round pick despite being just 5-foot-10.

      --Appalachian State hired North Carolina State offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz to be its new head coach. The school announced it agreed with Drinkwitz on a five-year contract, subject to approval by the North Carolina Board of Governors. Drinkwitz, 35, replaces Scott Satterfield, who left to become Louisville's coach.

      Under Drinkwitz, the Wolfpack ranked No. 1 in the ACC in passing (327.7 yards per game) and tied for third in scoring average (35.6 points) and 12th in rushing (143.7 yards) in the 2018 season. NC State quarterback Ryan Finley led the league in passing, completing 67.9 percent of his attempts for 3,789 yards with 24 touchdowns.

      Satterfield went 51-24 in six seasons with the Mountaineers, guiding them to a share of three Sun Belt Conference titles and three consecutive bowl victories. Appalachian State (10-2) plays Middle Tennessee in the R+L Carriers Bowl in New Orleans on Saturday.

      --Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton was scheduled to undergo another surgery as he continues his recovery from a devastating knee injury he sustained last month, his mother tweeted.

      The intention of the surgery is "to get him more comfortable," according to Teresa Milton. She also said he would be at the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., to support his teammates when No. 8 UCF faces No. 11 LSU on Jan. 1.

      Milton was injured in the second quarter of UCF's 38-10 victory over South Florida on Nov. 23. His head coach, Josh Heupel, called the injury "traumatic," and it later was revealed that Milton had surgery to restore blood flow to his right leg. Milton still needs to have reconstructive surgery on the knee.

      --Arkansas sophomore linebacker Demetrius "Dee" Walker was suspended indefinitely, one day after being arrested on drug and weapons charges.

      The 21-year-old Walker was arrested after police found 95.8 grams of marijuana, 40 Xanax pills and an AR-15 rifle with a loaded magazine at his residence, according to the Fayetteville Police. Walker has a court appearance slated for Friday.

      "We are aware of charges involving Demetrius Walker, a student-athlete on our football team," the school said in a statement. "The student-athlete has been suspended from our football program indefinitely, and we will continue to monitor the situation and cooperate fully with any related legal and campus processes."

      --Fired Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin has been working as a consultant to Alabama football this week, according to AL.com. It was unclear whether Durkin could wind up in a longer-term role with the Crimson Tide.

      Durkin was fired on Halloween after a 10-week investigation that followed the death of tackle Jordan McNair this summer. Durkin was put on administrative leave on Aug. 11, following an ESPN report that described the culture in the Terrapins program as "toxic." He was reinstated in late October and fired the following day amid an uproar.

      Durkin took over at Maryland in 2016 and had a 10-15 record in two seasons. Maryland hired Alabama's offensive coordinator, Mike Locksley, last week to serve as head coach.

      --Alabama-Birmingham coach Bill Clark is the winner of the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year award, the Football Writers Association of America and the Allstate Sugar Bowl jointly announced.

      Clark guided UAB to a 10-3 record and the school's first Conference USA title this season. The stellar campaign comes in the program's second season since football returned as a sport after being dropped following the 2014 season.

      Clark, 50, has an 18-8 record in the two seasons since football returned and is 24-14 overall in three seasons at UAB. He was UAB's coach in 2014, the final season before the program went on hiatus.

      --Quarterback Jayden Daniels committed to Arizona State, giving the Sun Devils one of the nation's top dual-threat prospects in the Class of 2019. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Daniels is the nation's No. 2-ranked dual-threat QB in the nation, according to the 247Sports composite.

      Daniels, from Cajon High School in San Bernardino, Calif., said he intends to sign his national letter of intent Wednesday and enroll at Arizona State next month. He had 25 scholarship offers, including from programs such as Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia and Penn State. His final list included only Arizona State, Cal, Utah and UCLA.

      --Field Level Media