Dak Prescott threw for 283 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 78 yards with two more scores to lead Mississippi State to a 44-7 rout of Rice in the Liberty Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
The Bulldogs finished the season 7-6 while Rice closed out at 10-4.
The Owls actually led this game early on, driving 45 yards after an MSU fumble to go up 7-0 on a one-yard plunge by Charles Ross late in the first quarter.
But that was about all we heard out of Rice the rest of the day. After gaining 82 yards in the first quarter, the Owls managed just 63 yards in the final three quarters as the Bulldog defense played lights out. Rice finished with 145 total yards and seven first downs.
MSU took advantage of three touchdown passes by Prescott to build a 27-7 halftime lead on its way to piling up 533 yards and 27 first downs. Prescott added runs of 11 and 5 yards in the third quarter to blow the game open.
The Bulldogs also got a huge game from receiver Jameon Lewis, who caught nine passes for 220 yards.
MSU has now won six of its last seven bowl games and are 3-1 in bowls under head coach Dan Mullen.
Iowa basketball’s loss could be Iowa football’s gain — maybe.
In a press release, it was announced that Ahmad Wagner has decided to leave the Hawkeyes men’s hoops program “to train and get my body into football shape so I can be ready for when I decide where I will finish my athletic and academic goals.” The 6-7, 235-pound Wagner played three years of basketball at the Big Ten school, starting 25 of the 96 games in which he played.
Below is Wagner’s statement on his decision, released through the university’s athletic department:
I have had recent discussions with my family and the coaching staff, and ultimately decided to leave the Hawkeye basketball program and end my college basketball career so I can finish my collegiate eligibility playing football. A person of strong faith, I am following God’s plan and I am eager for this next chapter. I leave the Iowa men’s basketball team with new friendships and incredible memories that I will forever treasure. I want to thank coach McCaffery, staff, and teammates for helping me grow both as a basketball player and person.
“My plan now is to train and get my body into football shape so I can be ready for when I decide where I will finish my athletic and academic goals. Thank-you Hawkeye nation for your support and welcoming me when I first stepped onto campus.
If Wagner opts to remain at UI and plays for the football Hawkeyes, he would have two years of eligibility that he could use beginning with the 2018 season. The same goes for a move to an FCS program. If he were to opt for another FBS school, however, he’d have to sit out the 2018 season, which would leave him with one year of football eligibility to use in 2019.
Wagner played one year of high school football, helping to lead Wayne High School to the Div. 1 championship game in the Ohio state playoffs his senior season. As a wide receiver that year, he caught 58 passes for 1,028 yards and 17 touchdowns in earning first-team all-state honors.
According to the LandOf10.com’s Scott Dochterman, Kentucky offered Wagner a football scholarship while Ohio State was interested in him as a football player as well.
Chris Robison‘s time in Norman ended in controversy. As he gets set to begin his quest to become Florida Atlantic’s starting quarterback, Robison is again mired in a bit of a kerfuffle.
As FAU kicked off spring practice Tuesday, Lane Kiffin confirmed that Robison has been indefinitely suspended from his football program. The only reason given was the standard unspecified violation of team rules.
One sliver of light amongst the latest off-field cloud for Robison is that the suspension trigger seems to be relatively minor in nature as the head coach said it could be lifted at any time.
“[He’s] not doing things right off the field and not just that he hurt himself, but he hurt his team,” Kiffin said by way of the Palm Beach Post. “Like we just told our players, you got choices; we can’t make the choices for you. If you don’t want to make the right choices, [there are] punishments for them.
“I think our punishments are a bit more severe than most people would be, but we want to teach our guys they gotta do everything right.”
A four-star member of Oklahoma’s 2017 recruiting class, Robison was arrested in April of that year for public intoxication; four months later, OU announced that Robison had been dismissed from the football program. In August of last year, Robison announced his decision to transfer to FAU and ended up taking a redshirt for the 2017 season.
Robison and De'Andre Johnson are expected to compete for the starting job vacated by Jason Driskel, who announced earlier this offseason that he was retiring from the sport. Johnson missed most of the 2017 season after blood clots were discovered in one of his arms.
This is not exactly the most optimal way to open the spring for Nick Saban and Alabama.
Shortly before seven p.m. ET this evening, grad transfer quarterback Gardner Minshew, who originally committed to play his last season of college football at Alabama, announced on Twitter that he will instead move on to Washington State. Not long after that, after the Crimson Tide had completed their first practice of the spring, Saban confirmed that Tua Tagovailoa sustained an injury to the thumb on his right (throwing) hand. Specifically how he sustained the injury wasn’t clear.
The rising sophomore will be taken to Birmingham for further evaluation; just how long he’ll be sidelined remains to be seen.
Jalen Hurts started every game but one at quarterback the past two seasons, guiding the Crimson Tide to a 26-2 record in that span. He was under center for the national championship game loss to Clemson, and was in the same spot for this year’s title game against Georgia until a 13-0 halftime deficit compelled Saban to pull the trigger on a change.
And the rest, as they say, is history, as Tagovailoa played a significant role in a second-half comeback that was capped by the true freshman’s game-winning touchdown pass in the first overtime. Even as it seems obvious to those on the outside that this is Tagovailoa’s team moving forward, given how much more advanced the backup is in the passing game than the erstwhile starter, Saban is not quite ready to pull the trigger on a full-time change at the position. In fact, the head coach even stated that he’s open to playing both quarterbacks.
Minshew, who started five games at East Carolina last season, was viewed as experienced insurance in case Hurts decided to transfer. Or, if Tagovailoa suffered an injury.
So much for the implementation of the Jalen Hurts Transfer Protection Plan™.
In late February, Gardner Minshew, a graduate transfer quarterback from East Carolina, confirmed that he had committed to play for Alabama and would enroll at the university in May. Nearly three weeks later, Minshew shifted his course significantly, announcing on Twitter that he is “[p]roud to say that I’ll be playing my last year of college ball at Washington State.”
At least when it comes to the opportunity for playing time, the Cougars, looking to replace Luke Falk, make much more sense than the Crimson Tide, who has, in addition to a two-year starter in Hurts, national championship game hero Tua Tagovailoa.
As a graduate transfer, Minshew will be eligible to play immediately for Wazzu in 2018 and could be in line to win a starting job at the Power Five school.
Minshew started five games for the Pirates last season, throwing for 2,140 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions in completing just over 57 percent of his 304 pass attempts. Prior to his departure from ECU, he was penciled in as the Pirates’ 2018 starting quarterback.
The news of Minshew’s initial commitment to UA came a little over a week after Minshew visited the Tuscaloosa campus. Earlier in February, it was reported that Alabama had an interest in Minshew, the quarterback who announced late last month that he had withdrawn from East Carolina to tend to a personal matter in his home state of Mississippi.