An Early Look at the College Football Bowl Games: Transfers and Coaching Moves

Let’s take an early look at the bowl games. Who is playing, who is headed to the portal, which key players are sitting this one out, and which teams will have new coaches (as of Monday, Dec. 4).

Boise State: Andy Avalos was fired on Nov. 12 when the Broncos were 5-5 and Spencer Daniels took over as the interim coach. Now, he’s expected to take over on a full-time basis. Taylen Green, who led the Broncos to the MWC title game win over UNLV, is now in the transfer portal. He started because freshman Maddux Madsen was out with a season-ending injury.

Bowling Green: CB Jalen Huskey (first-team All-MAC) is in the portal.

Coastal Carolin: QB Grayson McCall is leaving for the portal. He struggled this season, throwing for 1,919 yards, 10 TDs and 6 INTs. Last year, he threw for 24 TDS and just 2 picks in 11 games.

Duke: QB Riley Leonard (is injured) is in the transfer portal. Head coach Mike Elko left to take the Texas A&M job.

James Madison: Coach Curt Cignetti, after leading his team to 10 straight wins in their second year in FBS and to a bowl game, took the Indiana job. At press time, the Dukes are in search of a new head coach.

Kansas State: QB Wil Howard is in the transfer portal. Freshman QB Avery Johnson split time with him this season.

Miami-Fla: QB Tyler Van Dyke (19 TDs, 12 INTs) is in the transfer portal.

Mississippi State: QB Will Rogers is in the transfer portal. New head coach Jeff Lebby, the former offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, is set to take over for Zach Arnett, who was there for one year. Arnett took over for Mike Leach, who passed away last season.

Ohio State: QB Kyle McCord entered the transfer portal. He threw for 3,170 yards with 24 TDs and six INTs last season.

Oklahoma: QB Dillon Gabriel has entered the transfer portal. Gabriel threw for 3,660 yards and 30 TDS in 2023 with 12 rushing TDs. DB Key Lawrence in the transfer portal.

Oregon State: Starting QB D.J. Uiagalelei is in the transfer portal­­. Ben Gulbranson is expected to star. Head coach Jonathan Smith moved on to Michigan State. Trent Bray, the defensive coordinator at Oregon State, takes over as the head coach. Kefense Hynson is the interim coach and is expected to run the offense and will coach the bowl game against Notre Dame.

Texas A&M: Former Duke coach Mike Elko takes over the program as Jimbo Fisher was fired weeks ago. Most likely an interim coach will coach the bowl game. WR Ainias Smith (finger) will miss their bowl game due to injury. He caught 53 passes for 795 yards with two TDs this season. QB Max Johnson, who played eight games before getting hurt, is leaving as a grad transfer to North Carolina. The former LSU QB will be eligible immediately.

Texas Tech: QB Tyler Shough came from Oregon so he’s searching for his third school. He played 15 games in three season due to injuries but did have 36 TDs and 17 INTs.

Tulane: Head coach Willie Fritz has left to take over for Dana Holgerson at Houston.

UCLA: QB Dante Moore threw for 1,610 yards with 11 TDs and nine picks as a freshman and is now in the portal.

USC: QB Caleb Williams is out of their bowl game.

Utah: Bryson Barnes is in the portal, but intends to play in the bowl game on Dec. 23. Nate Johnson (235 rushing yds, 499 passing yards with 12 TDs and 9 INTs) will also leave for the portal.

Washington State: QB Cam Ward (3,732 yds, 25 TDs, 7 INTs) is expected to head to the draft, but could move to Oregon State, if that doesn’t work out.

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Ben Hayes

Ben has been a sports writer for over 35 years, dabbling in college and pro basketball, college and pro football, baseball, college lacrosse, minor league baseball and even college gymnastics. He's also been involved in the gaming industry for nearly 30 years and has been looking to beat the books since he was 13! Ben has had great success in handicapping college football, the NFL, college basketball, the NBA and MLB for 27+ years. His Twitter handle is @BenHayesWAW