Florida v MIssouri

Weekend Preview: Missouri to Atlanta and big games in the Pac 12

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It is time to start giving Missouri some respect. The Tigers have earned their keep in the SEC East and can look to take a giant step toward their first conference championship game since playing for the 2008 Big 12 championship. you should also pay close attention to what happens in the Pac 12 this weekend as well.

Missouri looks for ticket to Atlanta

Missouri can clinch the SEC East this weekend with a win over South Carolina. Of course, this will be easier said than done, but you probably thought the same about Missouri beating Georgia or Florida too. This Missouri team is a legitimate favorite in the division, even without quarterback James Franklin available at the moment. This weekend the Tigers will have to hope they can contain South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, coming off his best game of the season last weekend. Clowney and the Gamecocks were upset by Tennessee on the final play of the game while Missouri ended up blowing away Florida. Gary Pinkel has become one of the leading candidates for coach of the year honors but how he handles the situation this week with the eyes of the nation taking notice to what’s going on in Columbia, Missouri will be something to watch as expectations grow.

Even if Missouri does not wrap up the division this weekend, Missouri has Tennessee at home next week and a road game at Kentucky the next. The odds are still on the Tigers in the east but Missouri fans are starting to dream a little bigger as well for the first time since Chase Daniel was tossing touchdowns to Jeremy Maclin.

Big games in the Pac 12

Despite sitting third in the initial BCS standings, the popular belief is Oregon still has an excellent chance to play for a BCS title at the end of this season. This weekend Oregon hosts UCLA, with the Bruins falling short of proving they belong among the elite in the Pac 12. UCLA lost to Stanford last weekend but still has a shot at playing in the Pac 12 Championship. Now they get a huge chance to make up for it. If UCLA can upset Oregon, the BCS picture will either become more foggy or more clear, depending on your rooting interests perhaps. One thing that would be sure is that UCLA is in fact in the conversation when discussing the top threats out of the Pac 12. UCLA will need to play a perfect game though because Oregon is the second best team in the country.

There is another game well worth staying up for. Stanford, the nation’s top one-loss team according to the BCS standings, visits Oregon State. Let’s not sleep on the Beavers. Since losing the season opener to Eastern Washington, Oregon State has gone on a roll led by quarterback Sean Mannion, a player who could start to enter the Heisman conversation by Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. Mannion, the nation’s leading passer, would certainly start to gain some respect if he can lead Oregon State to a victory over Stanford. If there is one team that can really mess up the Pac 12, it is not UCLA or Arizona State. It is Oregon State.

How does Florida State follow up after last week?

Last weekend the Florida State Seminoles put together perhaps the best overall single game performance seen by any team this country. As a result of their huge win over Clemson, Florida State vaulted in to second place in the BCS standings and Jameis Winston jumped to the top of a number of Heisman polls. This team has answered every test set in front of them this season. Go on the road and win conference games? No problem. Put away a surprising Maryland team? You got it. Go in to Clemson and come away with a win? Piece of cake.

Like Missouri, the question about Florida State is now one that asks how they handle the expectations and spotlight? Oregon is sniffing down the necks of Florida State, so keeping the foot on the gas pedal is a requirement for the Noles. North Carolina State has a history of knocking off a high-and-mighty Florida State program over the course of the series (2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2012). This one of the demons Florida State will have to get by before setting their sights on a BCS championship run. Everybody has been talking about games against Miami and perhaps Virginia Tech, but it may be North Carolina State that can derail the whole train if Florida State is caught sleeping.

Top Games with Pat Forde

Teams looking for bowl eligibility

Central Florida scored a big win last week with a road win at Louisville. The Golden Knights have the inside track on a BCS bid that goes with being the champion of the American, but a win will guarantee Central Florida a postseason spot. George O’Leary‘s becomes bowl eligible with a home win against Connecticut. There is one other team in the American that can clinch bowl eligibility as well, with Houston and Cincinnati each one win away. Houston, who plays at Rutgers, missed out on the postseason last year with a 5-7 record a year after Kevin Sumlin and Case Keenum guided Houston to a 13-1 season. Who else can become bowl eligible this weekend?

Maryland, Duke, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Minnesota, Rice, Tulane, Notre Dame, Bowling Green, Buffalo, UCLA, Texas A&M, and South Carolina can all become eligible for the postseason.

On the flip side, California, Temple, Connecticut, Idaho, Kent State, Akron, Massachusetts, Eastern Michigan, Air Force, Hawaii, and Southern Mississippi can all officially be eliminated from postseason contention with a loss. Southern Miss slugs in to the weekend riding an 18-game losing streak.

Tim Irvin takes to Twitter to announce transfer from Auburn

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Eli Jenkins #7 of the Jacksonville State Gamecocks spins to avoid a tackle by defensive back Tim Irvin #22 of the Auburn Tigers on September 12, 2015 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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After just one season on The Plains, Tim Irvin will be plying his football wares elsewhere moving forward.

On his personal Twitter account Tuesday, Irvin, the nephew of former Miami Hurricanes and Dallas Cowboys receiving great Michael Irvin, announced that “it will be better for me to pursue my career elsewhere.” The 5-9, 194-pound defensive back gave no reason for his decision.

The Miami, Fla., native was a four-star member of AU’s 2015 recruiting class. 247Sports.com had Irvin rated as the No. 38 player at any position in the state of Florida and the No. 285 player overall in its composite rankings.

As a true freshman last season, Irvin played in 10 games. He started at nickel corner in games in which the Tigers opened in the nickel package.

As for potential landing spots?  It’s being reported that East Carolina, Miami and Texas may be considerations.

Dede Westbrook, Sooners’ leading returning receiver, arrested Monday

NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 19: Wide receiver Dede Westbrook #11 of the Oklahoma Sooners pulls down a pass as cornerback Brodrick Umblance #4 of the Tulsa Golden Hurricane defends September 19, 2015 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Tulsa 52-38.(Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
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Oklahoma has a huge season opener at a neutral field against Houston to kick off 2016 in a couple of months.  Whether their top returning threat in the receiving game is on the field remains to be seen.

According to multiple media outlets, Sooners wide receiver Dede Westbrook was arrested late Monday morning on a charge of criminal trespassing.  The arrest occurred in Westbrook’s hometown of Cameron, Tex.

No details of what led to the arrest have been released.  An OU spokesperson said in a statement that “[w]e’re aware of it and are addressing internally.”

With Sterling Shepard off to the NFL, Westbrook is OU’s leading returning receiver.

In his first season with the Sooners, Westbrook was second on the Sooners in receptions (46) and receiving yards (743).  His 16.2 yards per catch was tops on the team for those with 20 or more receptions, while his four receiving touchdowns were tied for third.

For that production, Westbrook was named the Big 12’s Offensive Newcomer of the Year.

Mark Richt to donate $1 million of his own money toward indoor practice facility at Miami

CORAL GABLES, FL - DECEMBER 04:  New University of Miami Hurricanes head football coach Mark Richt speaks after he was introduced at a press conference at the school on December 4, 2015 in Coral Gables, Florida.  (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images)
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If you had any doubts about Mark Richt‘s desire for an indoor practice facility at his new coaching home, those have officially been alleviated.

CaneSport.com first reported that, at a booster event in Chicago last week, the Miami head coach told those in attendance that he will be donating $1 million of his own money to be used toward the construction of The U’s indoor facility.  Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post, citing several sources who were at the event, subsequently confirmed the Rival.com website’s initial report.

In February, Boston College announced its plans for an indoor practice facility, which left Miami as the only team in the ACC without either such a structure already built or the plans in place.  While the desire for such a facility pre-dates Richt’s hiring, the former Georgia head coach has stumped for one on a regular basis since returning to his alma mater.

Richt never saw his politicking for one at his former job come to fruition, but the stumping at his new gig has seemingly helped push the idea of an indoor practice facility further down the road than it’s ever been — to the point where it’s a when, not if.

I’m very confident it’s going to happen,” Richt said a little over a week ago. “In some ways it’s been approved, with maybe a few more hoops to jump through. I’m not sure how it all works, because every university’s different. But it’s rolling down the track really fast. I think it’s going to happen pretty quick.”

It’s believed the facility Richt and others desire would cost upwards of $20 million.

PETA (again) calls on LSU to end live-mascot tradition

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 06:  LSU mascot Mike VI, a Bengal/Siberian mixed tiger, is displayed on the field before the Florida Gators take on the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium on October 6, 2007 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
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Of course they did.

Monday, LSU announced that its live tiger mascot, Mike VI, has been diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer. According to the school, the cancer had nothing to do with the tiger’s captivity or mascot duties.

However, that didn’t stop a certain group from pushing its agenda on this front.

Tuesday, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sent out a press release in which it served public notice of a letter sent to LSU calling for Mike VI to be the last live mascot utilized by the school. In the letter, PETA stated that “all captive big cats suffer psychologically when subjected to confinement, discomfort, and stress.”

“LSU further exposes them to bright lights and rowdy crowds at football games,” the release added.

“People today realize that orcas don’t belong in tanks, elephants don’t belong in circuses, and tigers don’t belong in cages in stadiums,” said PETA’s Rachel Mathews in a statement included in the release. “PETA is calling on LSU to honor Mike VI and spare future tigers a lifetime of misery by ending the live-mascot program for good.”

Below is the full text of the letter sent to the university:

I’m writing on behalf of PETA, which has more than 5 million members and supporters worldwide, including tens of thousands in Louisiana, to offer our sympathies about Mike the tiger’s cancer diagnosis. I would also like to request that you consider the following information about how tigers suffer in captivity and make Mike VI Louisiana State University’s (LSU) last live mascot.

Captive big cats (who naturally shun human contact) are deprived of everything that is natural and important to them. They live in perpetual states of confinement, discomfort, and stress and, at LSU games, are subjected to a constant barrage of disorienting lights and activity. They often become despondent and develop neurotic and self-destructive types of behavior, including pacing, bar-biting, and self-mutilation. Tigers are particularly unsuited to captivity because they require large areas to roam and opportunities to swim and climb. Even under the best of care, a tiger’s most basic instincts are thwarted in captivity, and continuing to use live animals as mascots perpetuates the cruel notion that sensitive, complex wild animals should be caged and put on display like championship trophies.

People go to LSU football games because they want to see top college athletes playing the best football in the country, not because there’s a caged tiger sitting on the sidelines. I hope you agree that it’s time to recognize society’s growing distaste for animal exhibition and bring a new tradition to LSU of using only willing, costumed human mascots. Orcas don’t belong in tanks, elephants don’t belong in the circus, and tigers do not belong in stadiums. In his sickly condition, Mike VI should not be wheeled out to games this coming season. Generations of tigers have given LSU everything they have—isn’t it time for LSU to give something back? We hope to hear from you soon. Thank you.

In a statement, an LSU spokesperson relayed that “our primary concern right now is caring for Mike VI and making sure he gets the best possible medical treatment for his condition.”

“This is not the time to discuss football season or a new tiger mascot. We are focused on Mike’s health and well-being at this time,” the statement concluded.

This is not LSU’s first brush with PETA as the group made a similar call back in 2007. That prompted the university’s then-chancellor, Sean O’Keefe, to release a statement that not only defended the tradition but compared the lifespan of a tiger in the wild to that of one in captivity.

LSU stands behind its treatment of its tigers. Their habitat and lifestyle are constantly monitored to ensure their well-being, and they receive state-of-the-art veterinary medical care from the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, which can improve and extend the life of a big cat. This is evidenced by the fact that Mike V lived to be 17 years of age. Two of LSU’s tiger mascots, Mike I and Mike III, lived 19 years, and Mike IV lived 20 years 9 months and 18 days. The average lifespan for a tiger in the wild is about 8-10 years. A tiger in captivity, like Mike V, can live 14-18 years.

Interestingly, the university has “let” 11-year-old Mike VI “choose” which home games he attended the last two seasons. From the Baton Rouge Advocate:

LSU, however, lets Mike decide whether he will attend the football games, and he has received national attention for being less willing to do so than his predecessors. Mike ca decline to go to the games if he doesn’t enter his mobile carrier.

Mike attended one game in 2015 and none in 2014.