The regular season and championship Saturday have concluded in college football, and now, the bowl schedule has been set. And, we’re obviously keenly interested in the Florida schools that are involved in the upcoming games, including the two “New Year’s 6” contests.
Here are the matchups again with the initial odds from Las Vegas, courtesy of Vegasinsider.com
In the Gasparilla Bowl Thursday December 20th, USF is a surprising 2 1/2 point underdog to the Marshall Thundering Herd. Marshall, out of Conference USA, did pull off an upset of Florida International on the final day of the regular season. And, you are probably aware that the Bulls lost their last five games in a row doing them no favors with the oddsmakers. Still, it’s interesting that in a game that is essentially a home one for USF, they are not at least favored.
The following day on Friday December 21st Butch Davis’ FIU Panthers will be playing Toledo in the Bahamas and the Rockets have been installed as a six-point favorite in that one. While that might be surprising, Toledo did win four of their last five games and scored at least 45 points in all four wins.
On Thursday December 27th. the Miami Hurricanes get a rematch with the Wisconsin Badgers out of the Big Ten in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Wisconsin handled Miami in the Orange Bowl a year ago, and the Canes obviously have payback on their mind. Miami played well in their last two wins of the regular season at Virginia Tech and against Pitt. So the Hurricanes being installed as a four-point favorite looks about right
One line that is surprising is the Peach Bowl for Saturday December 29th. That’s when the Gators take on the Michigan Wolverines out of the Big Ten. And, the oddsmakers already have great belief in Jim Harbaugh and his team, installing them as a seven-point favorite. Florida won their final three games of the regular season to finish with a 9-3 record, while Michigan was wiped out by Ohio State in their rivalry game two weeks ago.
Still Vegas believes much more in Harbaugh and the Big Ten, at least initially, in this one.
And finally, UCF is playing New Year’s afternoon in the “New Year 6” Fiesta Bowl against LSU, and they still aren’t getting very much respect. That’s because the oddsmakers have the Tigers favored by 7 1/2 over the unbeaten Knights. UCF however, is going to be undaunted coming off of their blowout win over Memphis in the American Conference Championship Game 58 to 41.
LSU meantime has dropped three games, including their 7 overtime 74 – 72 lost to Texas A&M two weeks ago. The SEC traditionally has the deepest and most talented league in college football, and that has to be why Vegas is disrespecting UCF once again.
Ole Miss hires Lane Kiffin after FAU title game win
It didn’t take long after FAU’s rout of UAB in the Conference USA Championship Game for the “Lane Train” to depart Boca Raton for Mississippi.
Shortly after the post game festivities were done on the field at FAU Stadium, Ole Miss made official what had been reported Friday night that Kiffin is their new head coach:
OFFICIAL | @Lane_Kiffin named head football coach at Ole Miss
— Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) December 7, 2019
First, Kiffin’s Owls had little to no trouble with UAB, as they broke out to a 35 – 6 halftime lead and never looked back. Sophomore quarterback Chris Robison threw three touchdown passes and FAU also blocked a punt, scooped it up and ran it in for another touchdown, as they built the large halftime advantage.
UAB did not muster a hundred yards of offense until the fourth quarter of the game and by then, the issue was settled. It’s the Owls second Conference USA title win in three seasons under Kiffin.
“I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Coach Kiffin to the Ole Miss family,” Carter said. “As we entered this process, we were looking for energy, innovativeness and a program builder who could excite our student-athletes and fans. Coach Kiffin checked every box and is a home run for our program. I look forward to locking arms with him to take Ole Miss Football to a championship level.”
Kiffin returns to the SEC, where he was formerly the offensive coordinator from 2014 – 16 at Alabama under Nick Saban. He also was the University of Tennessee head coach for the 2009 season going 7 – 6. Kiffin left the Vols controversially after just one year to coach at Southern Cal from 2010 – 13. He was fired in the middle of his fourth season with the Trojans.
As we wrote Friday night, a report in Mississippi surfaced that Ole Miss officials had been in Boca Raton to meet with Kiffin on Thursday night and offered him the job. That obviously turned out to be correct.
Ole Miss is looking to rebuild quickly and an attempt to challenge Alabama, LSU and Auburn. The Rebels went just 4 – 8 this past season firing former player and assistant, Matt Luke at the end of the year.
KIffin leads FAU in Championship Game- in final game?
There is only one game involving an FBS team in the State of Florida on Saturday and there’s as much drama behind the scenes as there will be on the field in Boca Raton. This for Florida Atlantic’s bid to win another Conference Championship Game.
The Owls and Coach Lane Kiffin get set to host UAB, are going for the Conference USA Championship for the second time in three years.
However, the bigger story is one that broke on Friday night that Kiffin, the former head coach at USC and Tennessee before coming to South Florida, is apparently headed back to the SEC to coach Ole Miss.
As we wrote last night, the deal is apparently all but done to bring Kiffin to Oxford, MS. That’s where he will coach in the SEC West, including against Nick Saban and Alabama. Kiffin recently the offensive coordinator at Bama from 2014 – 2016, including helping them win the College Football Playoff Title Game in January 2016.
Back to the game on the field Sunday afternoon. The Owls qualified to host the Title game last Saturday by beating Southern Miss 34 – 17. They are led by quarterback Chris Robinson and outstanding tight end, Harrison Bryant. Bryant had two touchdown catches in the first half of the game last week and is FAU’s best weapon in the air.
UAB is a great story in their own right, as they are the defending C-USA champions and qualified for the title game by upsetting North Texas last Saturday. The Blazers overcame their program being defunded by the state of Alabama’s Board of Regents in 2014. With football dormant for 2 years, coach Bill Clark resurrected it and they resumed playing with new players in 2017.
UAB , won the Conference USA title a year ago on the road at Middle Tennessee State and had the first-ever 10-win season in program history.
The Blazers look to run the football between the tackles with bruising back Spencer Brown. He’s a mid-round NFL prospect and had a hundred yards in their win over North Texas. Brown has 11- 100 yard games in his career and wants to help them grind the clock.
Again, this game does not have the impact of the SEC, Big 12 or Big 10 title games on Saturday, which are vying for the College Football Playoff. But, it still should be exciting and the post-game press conference with Kiffin about his possible new job in the SEC will be “must see,” as well.