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New coach for San Jose State
Having rebuilt San Jose State (10-2), Mike MacIntyre left for Colorado after the Spartans accepted the bid that will have them facing Bowling Green (8-4) on Thursday at RFK Stadium. Defensive coordinator Kent Baer was selected as the interim head coach for the game and wanted the job full-time, but he wasn't granted an interview.
Instead, San Diego's Ron Caragher was hired, and Baer is going to follow MacIntyre to Colorado.
So, talk about awkward: Caragher has started to set up shop with the Spartans during Baer's final days at the school. Caragher watched practices in San Jose last week and traveled with the team to the nation's capital as an observer.
"In some ways, it can be very confusing," Baer said. "Sometimes it's confusing to me, to be honest with you. But once we get out to practice and we're handling our business in meetings, it's this group of coaches and players that's been here all year."
* Spartans are 8-1 ATS in their last nine games vs. a team with a winning record.
* Falcons are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games overall.
* Under is 6-1 in Falcons’ last seven games following a win.
* Over is 4-1 in Spartans’ last five games vs. a team with a winning record.
Bowling Green: 15-6 Under off a conference game
San Jose State: 6-0 ATS vs. non-conference opponents
ABOUT SAN JOSE STATE (10-2, 5-1 WAC): The Spartans can reach the 11-victory mark for the first time since 1939 without coach Mike MacIntyre, who accepted the job at Colorado on Dec. 10. Defensive coordinator Kent Baer, the interim coach, takes over a team that has averaged just over 40 points in six straight wins. Quarterback David Fales has led the lethal offense, completing 72.1 percent of his passes and throwing for 31 scores with only nine interceptions. Noel Grigsby has been the top target, scoring nine times while compiling 1,173 yards on 73 receptions. Chandler Jones has a team-high 10 touchdown receptions. De’Leon Eskridge has led the ground attack with 992 yards and 10 touchdowns. Safety Bene Benwikere is the player to watch on defense with seven interceptions and 62 tackles.
ABOUT BOWLING GREEN (8-4, 6-2 MAC): The Falcons have leaned on their defense to win seven of its last eight games after losing to bowl teams Florida, Toledo and Virginia Tech early on. Jones, the MAC Defensive Player of the Year, leads the way while linebacker Gabe Martin and defensive back BooBoo Gates also stand out. Bowling Green has held opponents to an average of 173 yards through the air and a 28 percent conversion rate on third down. The Falcons have averaged 28.5 points the last eight games, keyed by quarterback Matt Schilz and running back Anthon Samuel. Schilz, a junior, has thrown 50 career touchdown passes and 39 interceptions - 14 and 12, respectively, this season. Samuel is 34 yards from becoming the eighth Bowling Green player to rush for 1,000 yards.
1. Bowling Green has allowed an average of 15.8 points and ranks seventh in the nation in total defense (289.7), while San Jose State’s offense has been productive, averaging 35.2 points and 327.5 yards passing.
2. The two teams combined for three victories in 2010 and both finished 5-7 in 2011. San Jose State won its last bowl in 2006 (New Mexico) and is 5-3 overall. Bowling Green last won in 2004 (GMAC) and is 4-5.
3. Both offensive lines will get quite a challenge. San Jose State is fifth in the nation with 40 sacks and Bowling Green ninth with 37, led by defensive tackle Chris Jones (12.5).
Duke! In a bowl game! That alone is pretty remarkable, given how terrible Duke's been -- their last bowl game was the 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl. It could have been even more remarkable -- at one point Duke was 6-2 this year. Then the bottom fell out and they lost their last four games in embarrassing fashion. They gave up 40+ in each loss and lost by a combined 102 points. So, no, they didn't exactly end the season on a high note. Cincinnati, meanwhile, ended the season in a 4-way tie for the Big East championship and won four of their final five games.
How Cincinnati Got Here
Cincinnati is one of a number of teams that will be playing a bowl without the coach that got it there. Butch Jones turned down an offer from Colorado amid speculation that he was staying with the Bearcats only to find out the next day he was heading to Tennessee. The Bearcats hired Tommy Tuberville away from Texas Tech but defensive line coach Steve Stripling will coach the team, as announced following Jones' departure. Cincinnati claimed a share of the Big East title with a 5-2 record and it is 9-3 overall with a chance to win 10 games for the fifth time in six years. All three losses were by a touchdown or less including a setback at home against Rutgers that ended the chance of an outright championship. Conversely, seven of the nine wins were by double-digits.
How Duke Got Here
Duke became bowl eligible in Week Eight of the season to head to the postseason for the first time since 1994. While that was a great accomplishment, the Blue Devils took the remainder of the season off as they lost their last four games albeit against some pretty strong competition. The good news is that Duke will have had a month to forget about that horrible ending and focus on its first bowl game in nearly two decades. The Blue Devils are excited about playing this game just over two hours from their campus and there will be two forms of motivation here. Duke will be out to avoid a losing season and not head into next year on a five-game losing streak while at the same time, win the programs first bowl game since 1960.
Cincinnati: 13-3 ATS away off BB games allowing 17 points or less
Duke: 0-6 ATS away off a conference game
Cincinnati is 13-3 ATS in its last 16 games away from home after allowing 17 points or less in two straight games. Duke went over the total in nine of its 11 games this season and is 7-0-1 to the over in its last eight games against teams with a winning record.
* Bearcats are 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall.
* Blue Devils are 0-4 ATS in their last four games overall.
* Over is 5-1 in Bearcats’ last six December games.
* Over is 6-1-1 in Blue Devils’ last eight games overall.
ABOUT CINCINNATI (9-3, 5-2 Big East): Senior Brendon Kay took over for the versatile, but erratic Munchie Legaux at quarterback late in the season and led the Bearcats to three wins in four games. Kay is completing almost 62 percent of his passes for 966 yards and six touchdowns with only two interceptions. Kay also rushed for 230 yards and a pair of scores. Legaux accounted for 2,051 yards of offense and 17 touchdowns to go along with nine interceptions. Tight end Travis Kelce, a first team All-Big East performer is Cincinnati's top receiver with 40 catches for 599 yards and seven touchdowns. Second team All-Big East tailback George Winn was second in the league with 1,204 yards rushing. Winn had 12 touchdowns and five 100-yard games. The Bearcats average 430.8 yards and 31 points, while allowing only 13 sacks in 12 games. Cincinnati is allowing only 17.2 points, second in the Big East.
ABOUT DUKE (6-6, 3-5 ACC): The Blue Devils raced to a 6-2 start, highlighted by wins over North Carolina and Virginia before the ACC powers got them at the end of the season. Quarterback Sean Renfree has passed for 2,755 yards and 18 touchdowns while throwing only eight interceptions and Duke is the only FBS team in the nation to have three receivers catch more than 60 passes. Second team All-ACC performer Conner Vernon leads Duke with 75 receptions for 955 yards and seven touchdowns, while honorable mention all-ACC pick Jamison Crowder caught 70 for 1,025 yards and eight scores. Desmond Scott hauled in 61 receptions for 606 yards and two touchdowns. Duke averages 31.3 points and 396.6 yards total offense while allowing 35 points and 462.1 yards. Ross Martin, the honorable mention all-league kicker for the Blue Devils, is 18-for-20 in field goals, including 6-for-6 from beyond 40 yards.