There was no hangover effect for No. 14 South Carolina (7-2, 5-2 SEC) this week. After handing Missouri their first loss of the season last week on the road, the Gamecocks returned home to face Mississippi State (4-4, 1-3 SEC). Although they fell behind early, the Gamecocks never let this one get away from them as they scored 17 straight point before halftime and then outscored the Bulldogs 17-0 in the third quarter in what ended up as a 34-16 victory for South Carolina.
Last week’s hero, Connor Shaw, was not all that accurate but he made the most of the completions he did have. Shaw completed just 10 of 20 attempts but picked up four touchdowns and 147 yards out of those 10 completions. Shaq Roland had two of those touchdowns in the first half. On the ground South Carolina had Mike Davis rush for a game-high 128 yards but Davis did not reach the end zone Saturday afternoon. It was the second game in a row Davis did not have a rushing touchdown after starting the year with at least one touchdown rush in every game of the year.
South Carolina was actually out-gained in this game, with Mississippi State’s offense recording 385 yards to South Carolina’s 307, but five Mississippi State turnovers killed any momentum that could have been had. Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott was intercepted three times.
South Carolina remains in a decent position as far as the complicated SEC East race is concerned. South Carolina has now clinched their sixth winning regular season in a row. On the other side, Mississippi State and head coach Dan Mullen may be starting to feel the pressure. At 4-4 overall, Mississippi State needs to win two games against Texas A&M, Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss to become bowl eligible. That certainly will be easier said than done, and it is not all that easy to say.
Could this be Mullen’s final year leading Mississippi State? Mullen is now 33-26 at Mississippi State, which is not exactly terrible when you look back through the program’s history. But the bottom line is Mississippi State is in danger of being left behind in the SEC West with Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Auburn and Ole Miss all at the top or showing strides of progress, and who knows what the future holds for Arkansas with Bret Bielema.
Things could get interesting.
The Big 12 announced a pair of adjustments to its 2016 conference schedule this morning. The more notable of the two changes is the move of Texas and TCU’s Thanksgiving night game to the next day, Black Friday. The game scheduled to be played in Austin on Thanksgiving night will now be played the following day as part of a request of television partners ESPN and FOX.
This will mark the second straight season TCU has played on Black Friday. Last season the Horned Frogs defeated Baylor in one of the sloppier weather games of the year. Playing on Thanksgiving had been a long-standing tradition for the Longhorns. Texas squared off with rival Texas A&M 69 times before the Aggies departed the conference for the SEC. Without the Aggies to play on Thanksgiving, Texas has kept that tradition going with games against either Texas Tech or TCU. However, the addition of a third game in primetime to the NFL schedule ahs created a bit of a stir when it comes to television partners. Knowing the NFL will grab the large majority of the football viewers on Thanksgiving night, the Big 12 now avoids being in the NFL’s dark, ominous shadow. Time will tell if this is a one-year deal, and hopefully it is. Some of us actually prefer watching college football on Thursday night.*
Texas Tech’s home game against Kansas has actually been moved up a couple of days to Thursday, September 29. The game was originally scheduled for Saturday, October 1. Now it will get a chance to shine on primetime on either ESPN or FOX Sports 1. The Big 12’s television dates have not been announced, so it remains to be seen if this game will be aired on ESPN or FS1.
*Full disclosure: NBC will begin airing Thursday night NFL games this season, so this statement is voided in the event NBC is airing the Thanksgiving night NFL game because the almighty peacock would not look favorably upon me if I stood by that statement!
USC athletics director Pat Haden is retiring, the school has announced. Haden, who has come under fire for a handful of reasons in recent years, will officially retire from his position as athletics director of USC on June 30, 2016. He will continue to work with USC for the next calendar year to assist with the renovations of the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Haden took on the role of AD at USC in 2010 after serving as a trustee of the university. Haden took on the job as USC looked to recover from fresh NCAA sanctions against the football and men’s basketball program (see: Reggie Bush). Haden made two coaching hires at USC, including the most recent hiring of Clay Helton after he had been an interim coach for the Trojans. The hiring of Steve Sarkisian ended up being a notable failure for Haden. USC also reworked its approach to academic standards under Haden’s leadership, which has proven to pay off with improved GPAs and graduation rates.
Haden was also one of the first members of the College Football Playoff selection committee. Haden stepped down from his position after receiving advice from a doctor to limit his involvement.
USC will now open a worldwide search for the next AD, which should be a search that attracts a number of high-profile candidates. USC president C.L. Max Nikias says he will work with Nick Brill, principal and co-founder of the Brill Neumann executive search firm in finding the new AD. There is no timeline for making a new hire, but there should be plenty of time to have a new permanent AD in place or ready to take over by the time Haden’s term as AD expires over the summer.
It may just be a coincidence, but it never fails. As soon as the ink dries on the faxes from National Signing Day, assistant coaches change jobs left and right. Of course, this may be a coincidence because signing day still falls in the prime time for assistants to be on the move, which typically plays out in the months after head coaches switch jobs. Regardless, it leads to assistant coaches making the final sales pitches to recruits to come to schools they will end up not being employed by. It’s weird, but it is the reality of the game.
There were a flurry of post-signing day coaching changes that became official this week. Florida officially welcomed Torrian Gray as the new defensive backs coach after spending the last 10 seasons at Virginia Tech. Purdue added offensive line coach Darrell Funk to its staff. Oregon’s high school relations director, Sean Dillon, is joining former Oregon assistant-turned UCF head coach Scott Frost at UCF. Dillon takes on the title of director of player personnel at UCF.
Southern Miss is a little bit of a different situation given the late change in head coaches this year. Jay Hopson has reportedly informed multiple holdovers from the coaching staff they will not be retained (Jon Williams, Justin Roberts, Dayne Brown). That has to be a bit awkward for some of the newest additions to the program, although changes had to be expected for Southern Miss given the much more recent coaching change.
But hey, this happens in college football. Every. Single. Year.
Helmet sticker to Football Scoop.
When he was called upon to manage the offense following the suspension of Will Grier last season, Treon Harris struggled. That is why it appears he could be heading to a position change starting this spring.
Gridiron Now reporter Mike Huguenin reports Harris will begin transitioning to wide receiver for the Gators once spring practices open in Gainesville. Harris is more of a dual-threat passer, which does not typically fit in well with the style of offense trying to be run under head coach Jim McElwain. McElwain prefers to run with a pro-style offense. Given the remaining candidates for the starting quarterback job, it appears to be pro-style or bust for the Gators.
Harris completed just 50.9 percent of his pass attempts for 1,676 yards and nine touchdowns with six interceptions. He completed just 17 of his 45 pass attempts between the SEC Championship Game loss to Alabama and bowl loss to Michigan. Harris was also ineffective in a regular season finale against Florida State, in which the Gators scored just two points, and he completed just eight of 17 passes for 122 yards against FAU.
With Harris now supposedly moving to receiver, that leaves McElwain’s quarterback competition down to Luke Del Rio (perhaps the leader in the clubhouse after impressing the staff as a practice squad player), Purdue transfer Austin Appleby and freshman Feleipe Franks.