It’s officially conference moving day for myriad FBS programs

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Around this time last year… and the year before that… and the year before that… we were in the midst of yet another round of conference musical chairs, with multiple schools announcing future moves to new league homes.

Thankfully expansion and contraction is on hold this year, but that doesn’t mean there’s not some official movement on that front.

As its July 1, myriad programs have officially left one conference for (presumably) greener pastures in a new league.  Below is a look at all of the moves that became official today and, yes, those moves will be reflected in the menus on this site in short order:

ACC

Both Pittsburgh and Syracuse announced in September of 2011 that they would be leaving their longtime homes in the American Athletic Conference.  The former will play in the Coastal Division (Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech) while the latter will compete as a member of the Atlantic Division (Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, NC State, Wake Forest).  In 2014, Maryland will leave the ACC for the Big Ten, replaced by Louisville after the Cardinals skip town on the AAC.

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

The conference formerly known as the Big East has seen the most upheaval of any of the “major” FBS leagues, and 2013 is no different.  In are former Conference USA members Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF, while as previously mentioned Pitt and Syracuse are out.  This is far from the last movement, however, as East Carolina Tulane and Tulsa will join in 2014, followed by Navy in 2015.  Next year, the AAC will lose Louisville (ACC) and Rutgers (Big Ten) to hopefully end the membership attrition on their end.

CONFERENCE USA

This league scoffs in the general direction of the AAC’s losses and additions.  Conference USA has added a whopping six new members to its roll: FAU, FIU, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, North Texas and UT-San Antonio, with those schools replacing, as noted above, Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF.  The conference will lose three current members (East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa) to the AAC next year, replacing them with Old Dominion and Western Kentucky in 2014 and UNC-Charlotte in 2015.

MOUNTAIN WEST

On the verge of losing Boise State and San Diego State to the AAC, the MWC not only retained those two members but also added San Jose State and Utah State for the 2013 season.  The Aggies will be a part of the Mountain Division (Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico and Wyoming), with the Spartans joining the West Division (Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, San Diego State and UNLV). At least for now, no future additions are planned for the MWC.

SUN BELT

This conference is the only current league to lose more members than it will have gained in 2013. Bolting the SBC are FAU, FIU, Middle Tennessee and North Texas, all headed to Conference USA. Coming into the SBC fold this year are Georgia State and Texas State. Appalachian State (FCS), Georgia Southern (FCS), Idaho (Independent via the WAC) and New Mexico State (Independent via the WAC) will join in 2014, with Western Kentucky leaving for Conference USA.

WAC

For the first time since 1961, a college football season will be played without the WAC as one of its conferences. Thanks to the myriad rounds of expansion, the WAC ceased to exist as a football conference after the 2012 season. The lone remaining members will be off to new conference homes either this year or next. Louisiana Tech and UT-San Antonio will play in Conference USA; San Jose State and Utah State in the Mountain West; and Texas State to the Sun Belt. After spending the 2013 season as Independents, Idaho and New Mexico State will join the Sun Belt in 2014.

WATCH: Ole Miss Baker Mayfields its flag on Mississippi State’s field

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Talk about adding insult to injury.

Heading into Week 13, three-loss Mississippi State, ranked 14th in the latest College Football Playoff rankings for whatever reason, was a 16-point favorite over Egg Bowl rival Ole Miss for Thursday night’s game in Starkville.  The loss of starting quarterback Nick Fitzgerald to a gruesome first-half injury all but sealed the Bulldogs’ fate; A.J. Brown‘s all-game production proved to be the dagger in sealing that fate, putting an exclamation point on the Rebels’ third win in the in-state rivalry the last four years.

As to how it all ties in to the lede?  The visiting Rebels decided to go all Baker Mayfield on Stark Vegas’ midfield after the win…

… not long after the same player who planted the flag hiked his leg like a dog, feigning urinating on the Vaught–Hemingway Stadium field.

There could very well be two different coaches in charge when the next Egg Bowl rolls around, but this will always be, regardless of who is on the sidelines, one of the most vitriolic rivalries in all of college sports.  Or sports, period.

A.J. Brown powers Ole Miss to Egg Bowl win over No. 15 Mississippi State

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No. 14 Mississippi State lost their quarterback, lost the game, lost the Egg Bowl trophy and lost a year’s worth of rivalry trash talk in one fell swoop on a chilly Thanksgiving evening at home. To add insult to injury, they lost all that at the hands of a Starkville native to boot as star receiver A.J. Brown powered Ole Miss to their sweetest victory of the year over their in-state rivals 31-28.

The Rebels needed just three plays and 39 seconds to open the scoring in what was perhaps the team’s best all-around game in several weeks, showing no signs of any tryptophan-induced sluggishness following a traditional turkey day meal. Brown finished the game with 167 yards receiving and a 77 yard touchdown to cap off a terrific return to his hometown in opposing colors, while tailback Jordan Wilkins also chipped in with another 110 yards and two scores on the ground to pace the offense.

The old Landshark defense also made an appearance, with the second worst team in all of FBS when it came to forcing turnovers managing to secure a whopping five turnovers and three sacks.

While the loss was undoubtedly disappointing for the Bulldogs, most of the team’s attention was on their star quarterback, Nick Fitzgerald. He entered the game on the verge of another 2,000 yard passing/1,000 yard rushing season but was tackled awkwardly on a three yard run early in the first quarter. Replays showed his ankle to be facing a much different direction than it should as part of a gruesome scene and the signal-caller was carted off to the team’s medical facilities shortly thereafter amid a raucous applause from fans on both sides.

Fitzgerald later returned to the sidelines to cheer on his teammates but it certainly appears that his promising season is over as Mississippi State turns their attention to a bowl game in the coming weeks.

Stepping in at quarterback was freshman Keytaon Thompson, who was much more of a threat with his legs than his arm until a few late drives. He finished the night with 195 yards, a touchdown, an interception and a team-high 121 yards rushing (with another score) in relief. Tailback Aeris Williams managed to rack up 82 yards and a score but faced a stacked line of scrimmage at every turn given the injury to his veteran teammate.

While the injury to Fitzgerald overshadowed the game, the backdrop of Ole Miss’ NCAA infractions case loomed large over the rivalry as much as the game itself. The two schools’ fan bases have been quite chippy and MSU linebacker Leo Lewis — a central figure in the case — was kept in check to the tune of two tackles and a half a sack as the Rebels didn’t attack him like some thought they would.

Perhaps more pressing to some Bulldogs fans is if that was the last Egg Bowl they would see with head coach Dan Mullen patrolling the sidelines. His name has been linked to openings at Florida, Tennessee, Nebraska and others in the past few weeks and there is a growing expectation that the most successful coach in school history could have just donned the maroon and white for the final time in a loss.

That’s of no concern across the way as interim coach Matt Luke did a good job rallying the team to their sixth win of the season. The Rebels are not bowl eligible as part of self-imposed sanctions but the satisfaction of beating their rivals probably takes the sting out of that fact just a little bit, especially with a Starkville native like Brown leading the way on Thursday night.

Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald suffers gruesome ankle injury to spoil first half of the Egg Bowl

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The Egg Bowl has returned to Thanksgiving but the game hasn’t gone quite as planned for No. 14 Mississippi State, as they trail Ole Miss 10-6 after a low-scoring first half of play thanks to a shocking injury that brought both sides of the heated rivalry to their feet in unison.

That came early in the first quarter when Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald was tackled after a three-yard run, suffering a gruesome ankle injury in the process that saw his foot point in a direction it certainly wasn’t supposed to. He was put in an air cast and carted off the field to perform x-rays immediately afterward and needless to say will not return to the game.

The productive signal-caller was just 1-of-5 passing with an interception and 16 yards rushing when he went down with the injury. Fitzgerald was approaching the 2,000 yard passing and 1,000 yard rushing marks for the season heading into the game and received plenty of support from his fellow football players around the SEC and beyond after suffering such a horrific-looking injury that appears to knock him out for the rest of 2017.

Freshman Keytaon Thompson replaced Fitzgerald behind center and went 3-of-5 passing for 32 yards and an interception. He’s known for his running ability at this stage and did manage a team-high 65 yards on the ground, including a 32 yard scamper. Running back Aeris Williams was fairly limited facing a stacked box against a new quarterback and ran for 41 yards in the half as turnovers (three of them) really hampered MSU in the half.

With Ole Miss ineligible for postseason play even if they won on Thursday night, it was not at all surprising to see the Rebels play better than they have in a long time. The team needed just three plays and 39 seconds on their opening possession to find the end zone and were punching far above their weight defensively too. Wide receiver A.J. Brown was the big play threat once again for the offense, with five catches and 90 yards after just a half of play. In the process, he set a new school single-season record for receiving yards and joined kicker Greg Wunderlich (all-time school leader in FG’s) in the record books for the visitors as they look to  get a little bit of payback for last year’s 55-20 loss in Oxford.

The two programs have split the last six meetings in the hotly contested Egg Bowl rivalry and both appear locked into another close one after a half of play. It’s too bad that an injury to an all-SEC player had to spoil things early on but both the Bulldogs and the Rebels will have to put that behind them as they emerge from the locker room hoping to secure a win after years worth of bad blood.

Odell Beckham Jr. gifts LSU players recently unveiled custom shoes ahead of regular season finale

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LSU has produced plenty of NFL stars in recent years but few identify with the Tigers quite like New York Giants wideout Odell Beckham Jr. does. The Baton Rouge native recently released his first “lifestyle” shoe with Nike last week and has been hitting the press circuit almost as hard as the rehab room as a result to showcase the new kicks.

Not one to forget where he went to school and blossomed into a first round pick, Beckham filmed a video for LSU’s football team this week and really gave the Tigers something to be thankful for on Thanksgiving by giving every player on the team a version of the shoe to wear when they’re suiting up in cleats.

The color isn’t quite a true match for LSU gold but it’s certainly pretty close and even comes with the longitude and latitude of Baton Rouge inscribed. You can probably bet that the team will be wearing them to Tiger Stadium prior to taking on Texas A&M on Saturday in the regular season finale for both sides.