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Know What The World Needs? More Bowls!

Nassau,_Bahamas_welcome_gateway Were you worried that the little guys of the college football world were going to be be left home for the holidays?  Were you fretting over the possibility of not seeing, say, a matchup of Northern Illinois and Texas-San Antonio?

No need to fear, more bowl games are near.

According to Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com — Is there a better college football reporter in the country? — the five conferences that left behind by the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC and Pac-12 will form their own new bowls in order to ensure that their teams get to have a little Christmastime fun, too.  The AAC, MAC, MWC, Sun Belt and Conference USA are starting three new bowl next season.  Those games will be played in Florida (one in Miami and one in Boca Raton) and in the Bahamas.

While 39 bowls is ridiculous, we gotta admit that the idea of football in the Bahamas is pretty cool.  The stadium that will house the game might be tiny, but we at MrSEC.com might click over and watch a few minutes of Northern Illinois/Texas-San Antonio if it’s coming from Nassau.

The new playoff system, a new bevy of big-bowl tie-ins, a selection committee to pick the teams for both and a host of new big-conference deals — all facing one another and shutting out most of the little guys — will all commence next season.  And now the little guys will have some new destinations to aim for, too.

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Ex-Notre Dame QB Kiel Says Three SEC Schools Are On His List Of Possible Transfer Sites

gunner-kielGunner Kiel is looking for a new football home and the transferring Notre Dame quarterback says three SEC schools are on his radar.  According to ESPN.com’s Joe Schad, Kiel — who visited Cincinnati this past weekend — “said he has been contacted by Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Kansas State and that Tennessee, Ball State, Northern Illinois and Miami (Ohio) are also all options.”

The one-time star quarterback prospect initially committed to Indiana.  Then he flipped his commitment to LSU, only to back out there because his Indiana-based family wanted him to stay closer to home.  Tiger coach Les Miles, you might remember, uncharacteristically took some shots at the teenager when he signed with Notre Dame over LSU.

Kiel was beaten out for Notre Dame’s starting job last year by Everett Golson, a redshirt freshman who led the Irish to the BCS title game.  Rather than sit behind Golson for years, Kiel has decided to transfer.  He could redshirt during his transfer year and then compete for the starting spot at a school in 2014 with three years of eligibility remaining…

Assuming he’s developed “the chest and the ability to lead a program,” of course.

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Auburn’s Malzahn Still Tied To Kansas Search

Despite telling friends that he would likely be back at Auburn next season, offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn remains a contender or the head coaching job at Kansas.  How serious a candidate he is depends on who’s talking.

A couple of coaching rumor sites report that Malzahn is the frontrunner as KU races to wrap up its search.  But other reports claim Malzahn is just one of many interviewees — along with Northern Illinois’ head coach Dave Doeren and Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst.  Just this morning, some online reports had Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis getting some backing at Kansas.  Ditto ex-South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt. 

Even earlier this week Phillip Fulmer and Houston Nutt were rumored to be candidates and/or interested in the job in Lawrence.

In other words, the Kansas reports are all over the board.  But this much we do know –  a year ago Malzahn turned down advances from Vanderbilt and Maryland.  Is a traditional cellar-dweller in the Big 12 more of a draw than traditional cellar-dwellers in the SEC and ACC?

Perhaps, if you consider the fact that Malzahn’s resume isn’t as sparkly as it was a year ago when he led Auburn’s offense to the top of most statistical categories and earned himself the biggest salary for an assistant in college football.

Maybe this time around the gettin’ is good.

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Don’t Bet On It!: Week 14 College Football Forecasts for the National Games of Interest and Around the SEC

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A pitiful 4-3 mark in last week’s SEC predictions dropped me to 52-13 for the season in conference forecasts, while a middling 3-2 ledger in last week’s national games of interest doomed me to limp into the final weekend of the regular season sporting a 36-22 record in non-SEC prognostications. Accordingly, it almost goes without saying that, when it comes to my ability to pick the winners of college football games, you should heed my weekly advice: Don’t Bet On It!

All of this week’s games are slated to take place on Saturday, December 4, unless otherwise noted:

MAC Championship Game: Miami (Ohio) RedHawks v. Northern Illinois Huskies (Friday, Dec. 3): This matchup of mascots is better suited to a Jack London short story than a college football game, which I suppose is appropriate, since the fact that this affray is taking place in Detroit in December suggests that tailgaters would be well advised to review the particulars of “To Build a Fire” before grilling bratwursts in the Ford Field parking lot. NIU is riding a nine-game winning streak, and the Huskies have topped 30 points in eight of those outings. Since the RedHawks rank 50th nationally in scoring defense, I’m going with Northern Illinois. Well, that, and the fact that I’m still ticked off over the fact that the ‘Dawgs lost to Miami (Ohio) in the ‘74 Tangerine Bowl.

Conference USA Championship Game: Central Florida Knights v. SMU Mustangs: Given the very high likelihood that the Georgia Bulldogs are Liberty Bowl-bound, I’m actually more interested in this one than in any other game being played outside of the Atlanta city limits. Here’s a fun fact for you: Orlando has hosted two previous Conference USA title tilts, and, in both of those games, the winning team scored exactly 44 points. Home field advantage has mattered little in this league championship clash, but, because the East Division champion has won three straight conference crowns, I’m predicting that the Knights will pad George O’Leary’s resume with a win.

ACC Championship Game: Florida St. Seminoles v. Virginia Tech Hokies: All right, all right, all right, Florida State is back, already! Which way will the game go when the ACC Atlantic Coastal division champion Seminoles face the ACC Coastal Atlantic other division champion Hokies in Jacksonville Charlotte some city along the Eastern seaboard lying somewhere between Miami and Boston? Dude, that’s easy: FSU will win, because VPI’s Michael Vick is suffering from the Sports Illustrated cover jinx. Wait, what’s that? Vick no longer plays for the Hokies? Oh, well, that makes it even easier, then; I’m definitely going with Florida State.

Big Eight Twelve Championship Game: Nebraska Cornhuskers v. Oklahoma Sooners: The over-under on references to the 1971 Game of the Century during the broadcast is 47. Take the over, and also take the ’Huskers to stick a final finger in the eye of the Big Twelve Ten on their way out the door to the Big Ten Twelve.

SEC Championship Game: Auburn Tigers v. South Carolina Gamecocks: From the outset, I wish to be clear that (a) I am picking this game based upon the expected result on Saturday, not the expected vacating of that result after Cam Newton later is declared ineligible, and (b) I will be rooting for the Palmetto State Poultry. However, this rematch in the Georgia Dome reminds me a lot of the 2003 SEC Championship Game, which pitted the Red and Black against the LSU Tigers. Earlier in the year, Georgia had lost a single-score game to the Bayou Bengals in Baton Rouge, which offered some hope that the ‘Dawgs might stand a chance against Louisiana State at a neutral site. Instead, the national championship-bound Tigers defeated Georgia handily, for the simple reason that Nick Saban’s squad had improved dramatically over the course of the campaign. While Steve Spurrier’s 2010 South Carolina squad arguably finished the season stronger than Mark Richt’s 2003 Bulldogs did, I fear the same scenario will be played out on Saturday, as a Gamecock club that played the Plainsmen tough in Jordan-Hare Stadium earlier in the autumn will find that Auburn has gotten much better since then.

Those are the picks for this week’s slate of games, and I am apt to be wrong more often than I am right, so I will end this set of projections the way I always do, by reminding you, whatever you do, . . . Don’t Bet On It!

The national game of disinterest is a seven-way tie between the four Pac-10 games and the three Big East games being played this weekend. I’m sorry, but you don’t have a championship game, so the rest of us don’t really care. If you didn’t know we were right, you wouldn’t be adding teams, now, would you?

Go ‘Dawgs!


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