First Responder Bowl

Let’s take a closer look at the top prospects in this game, keeping in mind Detroit’s defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni was Boston College’s defensive line coach in 2017 before joining the Lions.

Zach Allen, Boston College, EDGE, 6-5, 285

Allen has received some first-round buzz, but he isn’t as flexible as most EDGE rushers that get selected there and unless he blows up the combine, he will likely slide into the early part of round two.

With ties to the Detroit’s coaching staff, it makes sense that mock drafts will likely connect the two if the Lions pass on an EDGE rusher in the first round and recently, Trevor Sikkema of The Draft Network did just that mocking Allen to the Lions in the second-round.

“At 6-5, 285, Allen is a monster on the EDGE and is a perfect fit for the Lions down defensive end role,” I explained in my reaction piece. “His most appealing attribute for the Lions is his ability to anchor the edge and stop the run – which is arguably the thing Lions coaches look for most at this position in this scheme”

The Lions scouted Boston College in October and they will get a chance to see Allen at the Senior Bowl, giving them plenty of time to evaluate him as a prospect. Although, it’s his connection with Pasqualoni that gives the Lions a significant advantage over other teams in understanding what Allen is capable of.

Ezra Cleveland, Boise State, LT, 6-5, 310

Only a redshirt sophomore, Draft Analyst’s Tony Pauline believes Cleveland is the Bronco’s best prospect and “has the potential to move into the draft’s initial 75 picks” if he declares early.

“The redshirt sophomore is fundamentally sound and does a terrific job in pass protection,” Pauline elaborated. “Cleveland must get stronger and improve his run blocking but has upside.”

He will have a chance to show if he is truly pro-ready when he does get matchup up with Allen.

Chris Lindstrom, RG, Boston College, 6-3, 305

A four-year starter, Lindstrom can play all over the offensive line but is currently at right guard and could be a plug-and-play player for the Lions is T.J. retires.

“I’ve watched a good bit of Lindstrom tape over the past two years, and there really isn’t much to dislike,” The Draft Network’s Jon Ledyard said in Lindstrom’s player profile. “He has no major flaws in his game, is extremely consistent in his approach and has the experience needed to make an easy transition to the NFL. Few guards offer his combination of size, movement skills and technique, as Lindstrom rarely loses any 1v1 battles and consistently creates movement in the run game. He may not be an elite prospect, but Lindstrom looks like an immediate starter with enough scheme versatility to work for almost any NFL team.”

Lindstrom will attend the Senior Bowl which should help his stock, but his athletic profile at the NFL Combine will be key for the Lions interest in him.

Lukas Denis, FS, Boston College, 5-11, 185

In 2017, Denis had seven interceptions, 10 pass breakups and 83 tackles, leading to potential top-50 consideration. In 2018 however, his numbers have dropped (one interception, two PBU and 49 tackles) and so has his stock as he may not get selected on Day 2. He will have a chance to increase his value at the senior bowl – and likely a combine invite – while being capable of playing single-high safety will keep him on Detroit’s radar.

Other prospects of note from Boston College

Will Harris (safety, 6-1, 210) lines up next to Denis and while he lacks Denis’ speed and ball-hawking skills, he brings intelligence, coverage skills and solid tackling chops. Harris has accepted invites to the Senior Bowl, East/West Shrine game and NFLPA Collegiate Bowl – playing in all three would be challenging but surely would help his draft stock.

Thomas Sweeny (tight end, 6-4, 260) has excellent hands and is a capable blocker, but lacks the athleticism to be a featured prospect.

Jon Baker (IOL, 6-3, 300) is BC’s starting center but is capable of playing guard. A knee injury cost him the 2017 season, but the two-time captain has the intelligence and aggressiveness to be drafted.

Wyatt Ray (EDGE, 6-2, 255) is a bit of a sleeper because of his raw but improving edge rusher skills, but if the talent is there, Pasqualoni is sure to know about it.

Other prospects of note from Boise State

Brett Rypien (Quarterback 6-2, 208) is a quick release passer who anticipates windows and uses his intelligence and feet to keep plays alive. Average arm strength leads to him taking risks, especially when his mechanics break down. He is still developing his reads and too often gets locked in on top guy.

Alexander Mattison (running back, 5-11, 215). After a junior season where he ran for 1,415-yards, Mattison is contemplating entering the draft. With at least 27 receptions in each of the past two seasons, he will have his suitors, if only for a third-down back role.

David Moa (defensive lineman, 6-2, 279) won’t play in this game because of a calf injury that ended his season in October. He may receive a hardship waiver that would allow him to have a 6th year at Boise State via a medical redshirt, if not he will need a strong offseason to be considered in the NFL.

Kekoa Nawahine (safety, 6-0, 205). The junior free safety is probably a name to keep in mind for next season’s draft.

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California vs TCU

California vs TCU: Strong defenses, weak offenses put points at a premium at Cheez-It Bowl.The newly named Cheez-It Bowl has a history of points coming in bunches, with six of the past seven games producing at least one team scoring 30 points or more.This year’s Cheez-It Bowl might be lucky to have 30 combined points.

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California and TCU have two of the nation’s best defenses and are among the worst offenses, so points will likely be at a premium Wednesday night at Chase Field, home of baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks.

“Both play good defense, both offenses are trying to prove at the end of the season that they can do the things we need to do to win ball games,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “I think that’s what makes football a lot of fun. I’ll be honest with you, it is a great matchup. Both teams kind of come at you.”

Both teams also had to scramble just to get to the desert.Patterson’s Horned Frogs (6-6) had a stretch of five losses in six games, watched one quarterback after another go down with injury and lost by 37 to No. 9 West Virginia.

TCU closed the season with a tight win at Baylor and beat Oklahoma State 31-24 in the regular-season finale to become bowl eligible for the 16th time in 18 seasons under Patterson.The Horned Frogs are 27th nationally on defense, allowing 344.4 yards per game, but are 91st on offense with 374.6 yards per game.

The Bears (7-5) opened the season with three straight wins to move into the AP rankings at No. 24 but lost three straight games to open Pac-12 play. Cal became bowl eligible in coach Justin Wilcox’s second season with consecutive wins over Southern California and Colorado but lost to rival Stanford 23-13 to close the regular season in a game rescheduled because of wildfires in Northern California.

The Bears are 16th in the FBS on defense, allowing 319.4 yards per game and 110th on offense, averaging 350.2 yards.

“I really want them to appreciate the experience, but also realize one of our goals as a program that we talk about the first day of fall camp is to win a bowl game,” Wilcox said. “We need to continue to build off what we’ve done and go into this game and do whatever we can do to win it.”A few more things to watch in the Cheez-It Bowl:

QB CAROUSEL

TCU started the season with sophomore Shawn Robinson at quarterback and he played seven games before season-ending shoulder surgery. Robinson later transferred to Missouri. Mike Collins took over, but he was injured in the first quarter against Baylor, leaving the Horned Frogs’ offense in the hands of fifth-year senior Grayson Muehlstein.

Muehlstein, who appeared in seven previous games, was solid in the win over the Bears, throwing for 137 yards and a TD on 11-of-15 passing. He was 16 for 25 for 180 yards in the bowl-clinching win against Oklahoma State.Keeping Muehlstein healthy against a physical Cal defense will be paramount.

ANCHORING THE D

Cal’s defensive dominance is anchored by linebackers Evan Weaver and Jordan Kunaszyk. They combined for 276 tackles in 2018, setting a school record for most by a duo.

Weaver, a junior, had 143 tackles, fourth most in school history, and returned an interception for TD against Washington. He has 9.5 tackles for loss, including 4.5 sacks.Kunaszyk, a senior, had 133 tackles, including 11 for loss and four sacks. He also forced five fumbles.

FINDING REAGOR

A top priority for Cal’s defense will be stopping Jalen Reagor.TCU’s sophomore receiver had 72 catches for 1,061 yards — second on the school’s career list — and nine touchdowns, including at least one in a program-record seven straight games. Reagor also is a threat to run, with 161 yards and two TDs on 10 carries.

NUMBERS

Cal is in its first bowl since 2015. The Bears are making their third appearance in the now-named Cheez-It Bowl after playing in the 1990 Copper Bowl and 2003 Insight Bowl. … TCU played in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl against Boise State and the 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against Michigan State in its two previous bowl games in Arizona. … Cal’s Patrick Laird needs 68 yards rushing to join Marshawn Lynch and Russell White as the only players in school history with multiple 1,000-yard seasons. Laird ran for 1,127 yards in 2017. … TCU has allowed 14 sacks this season, tied for 14th nationally.

Minnesota vs Georgia Tech

Minnesota vs Georgia Tech odds, line: 2018 Quick Lane Bowl picks, predictions from expert who’s 8-3.The 2018 Quick Lane Bowl features powerful rushing attacks as the Minnesota Golden Gophers battle the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Wednesday. Kickoff is set for 5:15 p.m. ET from Ford Field.

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 Georgia Tech (7-5) boasts the nation’s top-ranked rushing attack with 335 yards per game, while Minnesota (6-6) compiled 466 rushing yards in its past two wins to become bowl-eligible.

The Quick Lane Bowl 2018 will be the last game for Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, who has announced his resignation following 11 seasons at the helm. The Yellow Jackets are 5.5-point sportsbook favorites, and the over-under for total points scored is 57 in the latest Minnesota vs. Georgia Tech odds. Before you make any 2018 Quick Lane Bowl picks and predictions, listen to what SportsLine senior analyst Josh Nagel has to say.

A Nevada-based expert with 20 years of experience in the sports wagering industry, Nagel specializes in handicapping college athletics. He has had another strong year, hitting 61 percent of his spread selections for SportsLine members. He heads into bowl season on a blistering 20-6 run with his against the spread picks.

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What’s more, he has had a keen eye for the tendencies of these programs and boasts a record of 8-3 on picks involving Minnesota or Georgia Tech. In Week 10, Nagel advised SportsLine members that Purdue (-10.5) was due for a letdown spot when it visited Minnesota coming off a last-minute win against Iowa. He recommended a strong play on the underdog Golden Gophers, and they dominated from the outset in a 41-10 outright victory. Anyone who has followed him is way up.

Now, he has analyzed Minnesota vs. Georgia Tech from every angle and has released a confident point-spread pick that is only available at SportsLine.

Nagel knows the Gophers are eager to finish off an uneven season by earning a bowl win in their second season under coach P.J. Fleck. They have one of the youngest rosters in the country among Power Five programs, and that youth was reflected in wildly inconsistent play that was perplexing at times and impressive at others.

They have a win over Mountain West champ Fresno State and also notched blowouts over Purdue and rival Wisconsin. But they were also blown out by Maryland, Nebraska and Illinois — all non-bowl teams —  by an average of 26 points.

Minnesota was inexperienced at the most important position, but managed to reach a bowl game despite playing two freshmen at quarterback. Tanner Morgan took over for an injured Zack Annexstad down the stretch and was solid in key spots.

But just because the Gophers have a high ceiling doesn’t mean they’ll cover the Quick Lane Bowl spread against a Georgia Tech team that has won four of its past five games.

The Yellow Jackets started 3-4, a stretch that included three straight losses and three defeats by double-figures. But they recovered to win four straight, with road wins against North Carolina and Virginia Tech, followed by home victories against Miami and Virginia.

The difference came from increased production on offense, as the Yellow Jackets averaged 36 points per game during the winning streak, which ended with a season-ending loss to rival Georgia. Tech’s triple-option attack has led to eight players reaching 100 rushing yards, topped by quarterback TaQuon Marshall with 896 and 11 scores.

Nagel has analyzed this matchup from every possible angle, and while we can tell you he’s leaning under, he has unearthed a critical x-factor that causes one side of the spread to hit hard. He’s only sharing what it is, and who to back, at SportsLine.

Who covers Minnesota vs. Georgia Tech? And what critical x-factor makes one side a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see Josh Nagel’s pick for the 2018 Quick Lane Bowl, all from the senior analyst who’s 8-3 on picks involving these two teams, and find out.

Boston College vs Boise State

Boston College vs Boise State odds, line: 2018 First Responder Bowl picks, best predictions from dialed-in expert who’s 11-4.Emory Hunt has his finger on the pulse of Boston College and Boise State football.

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One of the tightest lines on the 2018-19 college football bowl schedule pits the Boise State Broncos against the Boston College Eagles in the inaugural First Responder Bowl on Wednesday. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. ET from Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas. The forecast calls for rain and temperatures in the 60s, so weather could be a factor. The First Responder Bowl 2018 features two of the most electric playmakers in the country in record-setting quarterback Brett Rypien of Boise State and running back AJ Dillon of Boston College.

The Broncos are 2.5-point sportsbook favorites in the latest Boise State vs. Boston College odds, down from an opener of -3.5 in most markets. The over-under for total points scored has dipped steadily after opening at 55 and currently stands at 51. Before locking in your Boise State vs. Boston College picks and 2018 First Responder Bowl predictions, check out what SportsLine expert Emory Hunt has to say.

Hunt is the founder and CEO of Football Gameplan, which has been supplying analysis of all levels of football since 2007. The former running back joined SportsLine in 2016 and has provided his followers with winning seasons in college and pro football.

Hunt is having another solid season for SportsLine members and enters the bowl season on an 11-6 run on his point-spread selections. What’s more, he has had a keen eye for the tendencies of these two programs and boasts an impressive 11-4 record on against the spread picks involving these teams.

Two weekends ago, Hunt advised SportsLine members that Fresno State (+2.5) would upset Boise State in the MWC title game, with its physical defense making the difference. The result: the Bulldogs repeatedly got key stops, including in overtime, to earn the victory. Anyone who followed Hunt’s advice pocketed another winner.

Now, Hunt has analyzed the 2018 First Responder Bowl odds from every possible angle and released another confident point-spread selection that is available only at SportsLine.

Hunt knows the Broncos have a decorated record of bowl success, highlighted by their memorable overtime win over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. They also have a history of being involved in some of the most entertaining bowl games ever, including last year’s 38-28 win over Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl. Boise State is 6-2 in bowl games this decade.

Rypien will go down as one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in the program’s history. He was named the MWC Offensive Player of the Year and has been invited to the East-West Shrine Game. Rypien is the active FBS leader in passing yards (13,581) and is the conference’s all-time leader in passing yards, completions (1,036), and 300-yard passing games (21).

The Broncos will need a complete performance in order to cover the First Responder Bowl spread against a Boston College club that is similarly stellar on both sides of the ball.

The Eagles have an attack-oriented defense under defensive coordinator Jim Reid, and they’ve used that mentality to generate a number of big plays this year. Boston College forced 26 turnovers in 12 games this season and ranked 26th in the nation with 33 sacks. They can get to the quarterback in a hurry and swarm the ball if it’s put on the ground.

Junior cornerback Hamp Cheevers is one of the nation’s best, with seven interceptions this season and a fumble recovery. The Eagles were 6-2 this season in games where he was responsible for at least one takeaway.

Boston College is 2-1 against the spread this season as an underdog. The Eagles covered four FBS games in a row against NC State, Louisville, Miami (Fla.), and Virginia Tech, proving they can hang with any team.

We can tell you Hunt is leading toward the Over, but his much stronger play is on the side. He has scoured every aspect of this matchup and unearthed the critical x-factor that makes one side of the spread hit hard. He’s only sharing what it is, and who to back, at SportsLine.

Who covers in the 2018 First Responder Bowl? And what critical x-factor makes one side of the spread a must-back? Visit SportsLine right now to see which side of the Boise State vs. Boston College spread you need to jump on, all from an accomplished handicapper who’s hitting 73 percent of his picks involving these teams, and find out.

Manchester City vs Leicester City

Manchester City vs Leicester City: Premier League live stream, watch online, TV channel, prediction, pick, odds, time.Leicester is going for its second massive upset in as many games.Manchester City finds itself four points behind first-place Liverpool in the Premier League standings after last weekend’s shocking home loss against Crystal Palace.

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 Now Pep Guardiola’s team looks to respond against a team that knows a thing or two about being the underdog: Leicester City. The Foxes went to Chelsea and won Saturday, so confidence is sky high as the boys from Manchester visit. It’s a match that’s expected to be fast and physical as one of the best matchups of Matchday 19.

Here’s how you can watch the match and what to know:

Premier League: Manchester City vs. Leicester City

  • Date: Wednesday, Dec. 26
  • Time: 10 a.m. ET
  • Location: King Power Stadium in Leicester
  • TV channel: None
  • Streaming: NBC Sports Gold
  • Odds: Man. City -274 / Leicester +857 / Draw +434

European football expert David Sumpter’s model has netted a mind-blowing 2,000 percent return over the past three seasons. Now, he’s revealed his picks for this weekend’s Premier League fixtures. Check them out only on SportsLine.

Storylines

Man. City: City looked unstoppable a couple weeks back but the loss to Chelsea and then the one against Palace has brought this team back down to earth. Expect them to react though, as Guardiola knows how to get his team motivated. David Silva didn’t play against Leicester, so we’ll have to wait and see if he can be fit for this one.

Leicester City: The Foxes don’t plan on being in the discussion for relegation this season. Thirteen points clear of the drop zone and in the top half of the table, Leicester is playing well at a crucial part of the season. A draw here would feel like a win.

Predictions

With the festive period being particularly taxing on squads, it may come down to who has the better strength in depth. In that department, City come out on top.

With a relatively fresh De Bruyne and Aguero ready to come into the side, Guardiola’s men may just have too much for their hosts. 

However, City have injuries in key positions that could be exploited. They badly missed Fernandinho against Palace and Benjamin Mendy is a big loss down the left hand side. If Leicester get their game plan right then it could be a tricky afternoon for the champions.

Liverpool vs Newcastle

Liverpool vs Newcastle: Premier League live stream, watch online, TV channel, prediction, pick, odds, time.The Reds enter Boxing Day with a four-point lead over Manchester City.

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Premier League leader Liverpool enters Boxing Day with a four-point advantage over second-place Manchester City and the opportunity to possibly finish the day seven points clear or only one point ahead. The Reds, after taking care of Wolverhampton on Friday, return home for a match they’re expected to win against Newcastle.

Here’s how you can watch the match and what to know:

Premier League: Liverpool vs. Newcastle

  • Date: Wednesday, Dec. 26
  • Time: 10 a.m. ET
  • Location: Anfield Stadium in Liverpool
  • TV channel: NBCSN
  • Streaming: fuboTV (Try for free)
  • Odds: Liverpool -618 / Newcastle United +1851 / Draw +718

European football expert David Sumpter’s model has netted a mind-blowing 2,000 percent return over the past three seasons. Now, he’s revealed his picks for this weekend’s Premier League fixtures. Check them out only on SportsLine.

Storylines

Liverpool: As has been the story so far this season, the defense keeps dominating. Liverpool has allowed just two goals in last six games in all competitions. And so far this season, the Reds have conceded just seven goals in 18 Premier League games. The second lowest is Manchester City with 13 goals.

Newcastle: Rafa Benitez’s team is just five points clear of relegation and by no means safe. One win in their last five has the visitors in a tough spot considering the upcoming schedule. The teams next four games are all against top-seven teams — Liverpool, Watford, Manchester United and Chelsea. If they can get four to six points from those games, they’ll be in great shape.

Liverpool vs. Newcastle prediction

There’s no stopping Liverpool lately, and it won’t be Newcastle to pull the upset. DeAndre Yedlin and company struggle against the speedy Reds.

Having moved clear of Man City at the summit of the table, Liverpool fans are beginning to dream of an end to a league title drought that stretches back nearly three decades to 1990.

The Reds remain the only unbeaten team in the division this season and they boast the meanest defence, with just seven goals conceded in 18 games thus far.

Nevertheless, Klopp has emphasised the need for focus, declaring that a number of contenders are still in the mix for the title.

“A lot of teams are in whatever you call the title race,” the Liverpool boss told a pre-match press conference .

“And that’s the only difference to last season, when no-one was in at this time [due to City’s dominance]. That’s good for all supporters.”

Indeed, while fans may lose the run of themselves with thoughts of a Premier League triumph, the German coach cannot afford to get carried away, considering what is on the horizon.

They play Arsenal three days after the clash with the Magpies and, three days after that, they face a trip to the Etihad where they will lock horns with Pep Guardiola’s City.