Rich Rodriguez

Arizona and Mississippi State to clash in 2022 and 2023

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The SEC’s new scheduling policy forces all members to schedule one game per year against a school from another power conference. Where Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Kentucky all have ACC rival partners to make things easier, schools like Mississippi State need to think a little more outside the box. In 2022 and 2023, that non-scheduling requirement will be fulfilled with a series against Arizona, from the Pac-12.

Arizona and Mississippi State announced a home-and-home series scheduled in 2022 and 2023, marking the first games scheduled in the new series. Arizona will host Mississippi State in 2022 and Mississippi State will host the Wildcats in 2023. The specific dates for the games have not been determined just yet.

According to FBSchedules.com, Arizona is the only team from a power conference currently on the non-conference schedule for Mississippi State through 2023, but that will be sure to change with the new scheduling policy. The Pac-12 has no non-conference scheduling requirement to guarantee games against power conference opponents for its members, but with strength of schedule to become a factor in the College Football Playoff it is certainly good to see schools looking for opponents from other premiere conferences when available.

“We’re excited to announce this competitive series for our future football schedules,” Arizona Athletics Director Greg Byrne said in a statement about the scheduling news. Byrne also happens to be a former AD at Mississippi State, which may have helped in putting this series together. “The opportunity to play an SEC opponent will be a great addition to our schedule for our program and our fans.”

Arizona has a small history with SEC opponents, and it has not been a favorable one. The Wildcats are 1-5-1 all-time against SEC schools dating back to 1968. Two of those games were bowl games. Arizona’s last game against a team from the SEC was in 2006, a 45-3 loss to LSU. In 2003 LSU pounded Arizona 59-13 as well. The lone win against an SEC school for Arizona came on September 11, 1976 with a 31-19 victory against Auburn.

Mississippi State’s history against the Pac-12 is even more limited, with just three games dating back to 1977. The Bulldogs are 1-2 against the Pac-12. The lone win came on September 10, 1977 against Washington.

Coaches Poll: Alabama No. 1, Wisconsin and Miami continue to climb

EAST LANSING, MI - SEPTEMBER 24:  Corey Clement #6 of the Wisconsin Badgers runs with the ball during the game against the Michigan State Spartns at Spartan Stadium on September 24, 2016 in East Lansing, Michigan.  (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)
Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images
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There was not a whole lot of movement in the top portion of the Amway Coaches Poll this week, as most of the top teams maintained their positioning within the top 10. Alabama remains on top of the coaches poll, without much debate, ahead of Ohio State, Clemson and Louisville.

The Miami Hurricanes had the biggest rise in the coaches poll this week, jumping up five spots to No. 14 with a 3-0 record. The Hurricanes trail No. 13 Baylor, the highest-ranked team in the Big 12 in this week’s coaches poll.

No. 8 Wisconsin is one of three Big Ten teams in the top 10, joining Ohio State and No. 5 Michigan. No. 15 Nebraska moved ahead of No. 16 Michigan State this week.

Here is the full coaches top 25 for this week, with first-place votes noted;

  1. Alabama (61)
  2. Ohio State (2)
  3. Clemson (1)
  4. Louisville
  5. Michigan
  6. Stanford
  7. Houston
  8. Wisconsin
  9. Washington
  10. Texas A&M
  11. Tennessee
  12. Florida State
  13. Baylor
  14. Miami
  15. Nebraska
  16. Michigan State
  17. Ole Miss
  18. Utah
  19. TCU
  20. Georgia
  21. Florida
  22. Arkansas
  23. North Carolina
  24. San Diego State
  25. Texas

Jim Grobe says he called for a punt from Baylor 24-yard line but headset went dead

WACO, TX - SEPTEMBER 02:  Interim head coach Jim Grobe of the Baylor Bears during play against the Northwestern State Demons at McLane Stadium on September 2, 2016 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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With a lead in a tight game against Oklahoma State on Saturday night in Waco, Baylor head coach Jim Grobe appeared to make one of the most ridiculous coaching decisions witnessed in a while when Baylor lined up to go for a first down on fourth and one from its own 24-yard line in the third quarter. After the game, Grobe said he was calling for a punt but a headset malfunction meant nobody heard his call.

That’s because Grobe accidentally turned off his headset.

“All season it seems like when our defense has our backs against the wall we play better, so I figured I’ll just spot them on the 20,” Grobe said in a laughing manner after the game. He was fortunate to be able to laugh it off, because that could have been a game-changing play.

The communications issue did not harm Baylor — the defense stuffed Oklahoma State on a fourth down play at the one-yard line and the offense moved 99 yards for a touchdown — but that is simply something that can never happen, and a head coach needs to find a way to step in and make sure his team is not going for it on a textbook punting situation. Oklahoma State could have settled for taking three free points with a short field goal kick, which would have trimmed the Baylor lead down to just one point at the time, but Mike Gundy went for the lead and a touchdown.

In Gundy’s defense, knowing how potent Baylor is on offense, going for the touchdown made sense in that situation. It is the obvious case of hindsight being 20/20, although it was just the third quarter, and not the fourth.

Arizona freshman RB JJ Taylor breaks left ankle

TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 24:  Running back J.J. Taylor #23 of the Arizona Wildcats rushes the football against the Washington Huskies during the first quarter of the college football game at Arizona Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
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One of the bright spots for Arizona in the first month of the season had been freshman running back JJ Taylor. Unfortunately for he and Arizona, he will be missing some serious playing time after suffering a broken ankle Saturday night against Washington.

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez announced after an overtime loss against Washington that Taylor broke his left ankle. Before having to leave the game with an injury, Taylor had rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries against Washington. It is expected Taylor could miss the next six to eight weeks of action, which could effectively end his season.

Ironically, Taylor was showing off his ability to break ankles earlier in the game…

Arsonist sets fire to Toomer’s Corner oak after Auburn win

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AP Photo/Butch Dill
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Auburn fans celebrated a wild victory against SEC West rival LSU last night the way they always do, by rolling the oaks at Toomer’s Corner with toilet paper. It is a tradition that goes back decades, which makes the oaks a target for some. On Saturday night, one of the trees at Toomer’s Corner went up in flames after somebody lit the dangling toilet paper on fire.

It would appear there is some video footage that captures the arsonist in action, although it is difficult to tell exactly who is the one doing the crime.

Fortunately, it seems the one responsible for lighting the tree on fire may have been apprehended and spent the night in jail.