College Football News Tracker: Tracking Remaining Bowl Opt-Outs, Injuries & Coaching Changes
Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: The Georgia Bulldogs.
Over the past few weeks, it seems as if we’ve had a college football news cycle that never ends with coaching changes and periodic opt-outs. The former has been tough to keep up with, and the latter will only become more frequent over the next week or so.
Below, you will find a running log of all-important news for each individual bowl game. I will continuously update this file as more news comes in, so make sure you periodically check back if you want to double-check any game information before placing a bet.
And make sure to pay extra close attention to coaching situations across the country because some coaches still plan to participate in their team’s bowl game (Oregon’s Joe Moorhead), while others do not (Miami’s Rhett Lashlee).
For convenience, the bowls are listed in chronological order below.
Wake Forest vs. Rutgers
Gator Bowl: Dec. 31 in Jacksonville, FL
Texas A&M -6.5 · Over/Under: 59.5
Editor’s Note: Texas A&M pulled out of the Gator Bowl due to COVID-19, injuries, and transfers, leaving Rutgers to take its place.
Wake Forest wide receiver Jaquarii Roberson will skip the Gator Bowl and enter the NFL Draft.
Texas A&M will not be able to play in the Gator Bowl because of a COVID-19 outbreak in the program.
Texas A&M will not play in the Gator Bowl because of a COVID outbreak, sources told @ActionNetworkHQ. 1st reported by @RossDellenger. At this point, unknown if bowl can find a replacement team to play Wake Forest, source said
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) December 22, 2021
Before the news broke of the Aggies’ withdrawl, Texas A&M had a number of opt-outs and transfers on both sides of the ball.
Texas A&M had a much better defense this time around, but it had to make do without star defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal and safety Leon O’Neal, who are off to the NFL.
The Aggies suffered a big loss on the offensive side of the ball as well, as running back Isaiah Spiller and tight end Jalen Wydermyer declared for the NFL Draft.
Defensive coordinator Mike Elko was also hired as the head coach at Duke.
Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher also stated that original starting quarterback Haynes King still likely won’t be healthy enough to play after getting hurt in the second game of the season. To make matters worse, quarterback Zach Calzada has entered the transfer portal.
Fisher said freshman walk-on Blake Bost would be the guy at quarterback, but King had started to get worked back into practice.
Washington State vs. Central Michigan
Sun Bowl: Dec. 31 in El Paso, TX
Miami -1.5 · Over/Under: 59.5
Editor’s Note: Central Michigan has been released from the Arizona Bowl and will now play in the Sun Bowl after Miami was forced to pull out.
Who’s ready for the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl? If this matchup looks familiar in this particular bowl, these two teams met in the same bowl six years ago in a snowy affair.
Jake Dickert was recently promoted from interim to permanent head coach at Washington State. He has made a number of staff changes as Washington State will transition from the run-n-shoot offense back to a more traditional Air Raid scheme.
It appears that the current staff will remain intact through the Sun Bowl, but running back Max Borghi has declared for the NFL Draft and offensive lineman Cade Beresford is transferring to Boise State.
It’s confirmed that Borghi, tackle Abraham Lucas and cornerback Jaylen Watson have opted out.
Meanwhile, Manny Diaz was ousted as head coach at Miami, which hired Mario Cristobal away from Oregon. This will actually mark Miami’s third appearance in the Sun Bowl with all three coming after it fired its head coach.
Miami defensive line coach Jess Simpson will serve as the interim head coach, while wide receivers coach Rob Likens will take over duties as offensive coordinator.
Central Michigan vs. Boise State
Arizona Bowl: Dec. 31 in Tuscon, AZ
Boise State -8 · Over/Under: 55
Editor’s Note: The Arizona Bowl has been canceled, as Boise State had to pull out due to COVID-19 issues and Central Michigan joined the Sun Bowl.
It’s worth monitoring the status of Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier. He was beaten up at the end of the season after getting hit more than any other quarterback in the nation this year. Plus, backup Jack Sears, who saw some playing time over the past two seasons, entered the transfer portal.
Potential draft pick and star wide receiver Khalil Shakir will suit up for the Broncos, so now we wait to hear about safety JL Skinner’s plans.
Boise has also started to battle COVID-19 issues, and there’s about a 60% chance this game gets played.
Boise State, scheduled to play Central Michigan in Arizona Bowl Friday, getting COVID results today. As of this morning, there is 60% chance game is played, source told @ActionNetworkHQ. If Boise can’t play, CMU may play Wash. State in Sun Bowl. Earlier reported by @RossDellenger
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) December 27, 2021
Michigan vs. Georgia
Orange Bowl: Dec. 31 in Miami Gardens, FL
Georgia -8 · Over/Under: 43.5
Nobody will opt out of a College Football Playoff semifinal, but Georgia does have a decision to make at quarterback. Will head coach Kirby Smart stick with Stetson Bennett after a disappointing performance in the SEC Championship or roll with JT Daniels?
Smart recently said Georgia’s quarterbacks will be “evaluated each and every day.”
However, Daniels and wide receiver George Pickens have entered COVID-19 protocol with just over a week until game day.
Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara declined to say whether or not defensive back Dax Hill was with the team, as did two UM spokespeople.
Cincinnati vs. Alabama
Cotton Bowl: Dec. 31 in Arlington, TX
Alabama -13.5 · Over/Under: 58
Alabama wide receiver John Metchie, who led the team with 96 receptions, will not suit up in the College Football Playoff semifinal due to an ACL injury suffered in the SEC ChampionshipgGame.
Outside of Metchie and Jameson Williams, no other Alabama wide receiver has more than 333 receiving yards.
Utah vs. Ohio State
Rose Bowl: Jan. 1 in Pasadena, CA
Ohio State -6.5 · Over/Under: 66.5
Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson, Nicholas Petit-Frere, and Haskell Garrett will not play in the Rose Bowl against Utah, but future NFL draftee Chris Olave was still practicing as of Tuesday.
Defensive tackle Antwuan Jackson, linebacker Cody Simon, cornerback Sevyn Banks and safety Marcus Williamson were not practicing for Ohio State on Tuesday.
All of Utah’s NFL Draft declarations are still expected to play in the Rose Bowl.
Arkansas vs. Penn State
Outback Bowl: Jan. 1 in Tampa, FL
Penn State -2.5 · Over/Under: 46.5
Earlier this month, the Nittany Lions lost defensive coordinator Brent Pry, who left to take over as head coach at Virginia Tech. Head coach James Franklin has yet to make a decision on the interim DC as the search continues for Pry’s replacement.
Penn State has already seen its two leading tacklers, linebackers Brandon Smith and Ellis Brooks opt out. Safety Jaquan Brisker has opted out as well.
Now, all eyes turn to star wideout Jahan Dotson and defensive end Arnold Ebiketie, although Dotson is not expected to play.
Meanwhile, all Arkansas eyes were on the status of star wide receiver Treylon Burks, but he has declared for the NFL Draft.
The Razorbacks also lost defensive end Tre Williams, who has declared for the NFL Draft, after an arrest for DWI.
In good news for Arkansas, however, wide receiver Tyson Morris is back practicing.
Iowa vs. Kentucky
Citrus Bowl: Jan. 1 in Orlando, FL
Kentucky -2 · Over/Under: 44
Iowa star center Tyler Linderbaum, who many project to go in the first round of the NFL Draft, has stated he will no doubt suit up against Kentucky. However, Hawkeyes running back Tyler Goodson has declared for the draft and will skip the Citrus Bowl.
Spencer Petras is listed as the starter at quarterback for the Hawkeyes.
In the Iowa secondary, cornerback Matt Hankins has been ruled out with an injury, and backup Terry Roberts wasn’t listed on the depth chart.
Kentucky will be without wide receivers Josh Ali and Isaiah Epps, who were involved in a car accident.
Ole Miss vs. Baylor
Sugar Bowl: Jan. 1 in New Orleans, LA
Baylor -1 · Over/Under: 54
Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral — a projected first-round pick in next year’s NFL Draft — will play in the Sugar Bowl.
— Rick Cleveland (@rick_cleveland) December 1, 2021
Meanwhile in Oxford, offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby is expected to take the same position at Oklahoma under new head coach Brent Venables.
In regards to Baylor, the questions leading up to the Sugar Bowl will revolve around who will start at quarterback: Blake Shapen or Gerry Bohanon.
Head coach Dave Aranda said he believes the latter will be healthy by New Year’s Day.
Oklahoma State vs. Notre Dame
Fiesta Bowl: Jan. 1 in Glendale, AZ
Notre Dame -2.5 · Over/Under: 45.5
With Brian Kelly leaving for Baton Rouge, newly-appointed head coach Marcus Freeman will take over the reins in South Bend.
So far, the only reports of any assistants who will join Kelly include special teams coach Brian Polian and co-strength and conditioning coach Jacob Flint.
Star safety Kyle Hamilton hinted that he’d played had Notre Dame made the College Football Playoff, but now Hamilton and running back Kyren Williams will skip the Fiesta Bowl to prepare for the NFL Draft.
The big news surrounding Oklahoma State centers around defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, who left for the same position at Ohio State. However, the Broyles Award finalist won’t start his new gig until Jan. 2.
Interestingly enough, Knowles will prepare for Notre Dame in the bowl game and then again for Ohio State’s opener next season.
— Kolby Harvell-Peel (@kolbypeel) December 7, 2021
Meanwhile, Oklahoma State running back Jaylen Warren is practicing.
Kansas State vs. LSU
Texas Bowl: Jan. 4 in Houston, TX
LSU -1 · Over/Under: 46.5
Kansas State expects quarterback Skylar Thompson, who missed the regular-season finale with an injury, to be back for the Texas Bowl.
Head coach Chris Klieman also announced the Wildcats will move on from offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham and tight ends coach Jason Ray.
Former KSU quarterback Collin Klein will serve as the interim offensive coordinator for the Texas Bowl.
Similar to Kansas State, LSU has major questions at quarterback after Max Johnson recently announced he will enter the transfer portal. Fellow QB Myles Brennan did the same back in November but announced he would be staying in Baton Rouge.
Brennan is not expected to play, leaving only one scholarship quarterback on the roster in true freshman Garrett Nussmeier, who has already used up his allowable games to maintain his redshirt.
Quarterback questions remain for LSU, which could start a true freshman, walk-on, or converted wide receiver. Nussmeier was listed as the starter on the LSU depth chart, but it doesn’t appear that he’ll play.
The Texas Bowl is almost here. In this piece we preview:
-The #LSU QB situation with Nussmeier not expected to play
-The depleted secondary and what it means
-Which young players will have chances to make a name (Kiner, Penn)
-The game itself https://t.co/7RpnfJOyXt
— Brody Miller (@BrodyAMiller) January 3, 2022
It appears that LSU offensive line coach Brad Davis will serve as the interim head coach for the bowl game during the transition from Ed Orgeron to Brian Kelly. A few assistants have also departed since the end of the regular season.
LSU wide receiver Trey Palmer has entered the transfer portal. Meanwhile, running back Tyrion Davis-Price linebacker Damone Clark and defensive lineman Neil Farrell Jr. have opted out.
The Tigers are also without a number of key contributors, as the roster has been cut down to around only 40 players who arrived in Baton Rouge with a scholarship already in hand.
Jay Ward is the only cornerback listed on the depth chart who has seen meaningful playing time, Damone Clark and Micah Baskerville are not available at linebacker, and Corey Kiner and Josh Williams are the only running backs on scholarship.
Meanwhile, Kansas State doesn’t have any opt-outs.
SOURCES: Brian Kelly let go of LSU’s longtime strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffitt, who helped spark the football program to 3 national titles, sources tell me and @BrodyAMiller. Moffitt’s tenure began in 2000. He is the first LSU staffer who has been informed he’s out.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 4, 2021