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Prescott goes out a winner as Mississippi State belks NC State

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Mississippi State closed one of the most successful runs in program history by dominating NC State 51-28 in the Belk Bowl Wednesday evening in Charlotte.

The star, as he has been so many times over his career, was Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott. After Wolfpack quarterback Jacoby Brissett was intercepted by Mississippi State’s Gerri Green on the first snap of the game, Prescott capped the Bulldogs’ 26-yard opening drive by finding Fred Ross for a 14-yard touchdown.

Brissett was intercepted again 10 minutes later, and again Prescott capitalized, this time hitting De’Runnya Wilson for a 39-yard gain and then a 28-yard touchdown.

Ross raced in from 33 yards out on the Bulldogs’ next possession, giving Mississippi State a 21-0 lead at the 12:17 mark of the second quarter.

NC State got off the floor with a pair of consecutive touchdowns — an 82-yard connection from Brissett to Pharoah McKever and a 48-yard Jaylen Samuels dash — but Mississippi State answered when Justin Malone hopped on the loose pigskin as Prescott rushed into the end zone.

Westin Graves knocked in a 39-yard field goal just before the end of the half, giving the Bulldogs a 31-14 edge and effectively putting the game out of reach.

Brissett posted a three-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter, but Prescott found Brandon Holloway for a pair of touchdowns, from 10 and 55 yards out, and Aeris Williams raced in for a 33-yard touchdown, pushing the advantage from 31-21 to 51-21. Samuels added a cosmetic one-yard plunge with 45 seconds remaining to complete the scoring.

For the day, Prescott hit 25-of-42 passes for 380 yards with four touchdowns and one interception while rushing 12 times for a team-leading 47 yards and one near touchdown. Wilson snatched five balls for 96 yards and a score, Holloway posted four grabs for 78 yards and two scores, and Ross finished his career with seven receptions for 74 yards and a score.

Prescott closes his career with two First Team All-SEC nods, a 23-10 record, 114 touchdowns responsible for, and status as one of only four players in FBS history to record at least 9,000 passing yards and 2,500 rushing yards.

The win gave Dan Mullen a 55-35 mark in seven seasons at Mississippi State and 19-7 with, most likely, two AP top-25 finishes over the past two seasons. The win pushed the Bulldogs to 9-4 on the season, giving the program back-to-back nine-win season for the first time ever.

NC State closed the year at 7-6. Dave Doeren closes his first three years in Raleigh at 18-20, compared to the 24-14 mark Tom O’Brien recorded in his final seasons before his 2012 firing.

Former Baylor TE Tre’Von Armstead arrested in connection to 2013 sexual assault

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The cloud habitually hovering over the Baylor football program continues to get darker.  And more ominous.

According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, “[f]ormer Baylor football player Tre'Von Armstead was arrested Wednesday… on three second-degree felony sexual assault charges stemming from an alleged 2013 sexual assault while he was a member of the Baylor football team.” While the alleged rape occurred in mid-April of 2013, the case was suspended by the Waco Police Department, ESPN.com writes, “after the alleged victim chose not to pursue charges against Armstead and former Bears running back Myke Chatman, who she accused of sexually assaulting her at her apartment.”

The victim in that alleged assault, a former “Baylor Bruin” recruiting hostess for the football program, filed a lawsuit in late January of this year in which it’s alleged that 31 Baylor football players committed 52 acts of rape over a four-year period starting in 2011.  It was further alleged in the lawsuit that BU assistant football coaches, including current Florida Atlantic assistant Kendal Briles, contributed to what was described as a “culture of sexual violence” around the football program.

“Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at Baylor and they love football players,” Briles, the son of disgraced former BU head coach Art Briles, told one recruit according to that lawsuit, one of many the university is currently facing as a result of the sexual-assault scandal.

Despite the 2013 allegations of Armstead being involved in a sexual assault, he remained with the football program until his dismissal in September of 2015.  A little over a week ago, Armstead was arrested on multiple charges in Las Vegas after he allegedly physically assaulted a woman.

Louisville clarifies titles for revamped defensive coaching staff

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The offseason shuffling of Bobby Petrino‘s defensive coaching staff appears to be complete.

Thanks to Todd Grantham‘s move to Mississippi State earlier this offseason, Petrino was forced to overhaul his staff on that side of the ball.  Peter Sirmon, who Grantham replaced at MSU, was hired by the U of L as defensive coordinator in mid-January.

As the Cardinals kicked off spring practice this week, the football program detailed the responsibilities for the defensive side of the staff.

New defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon announced on Wednesday that he has finalized position changes on his defensive staff. Sirmon will mentor the defense, but will also coach the outside linebackers. Lorenzo Ward will coach the secondary, while Cort Dennison will now mentor the inside linebackers. L.D. Scott will stick with coaching the defensive line.

Last season under Grantham, the Cardinals were 31st nationally and sixth in the ACC in scoring defense (23.8 points per game).  They were 14th and third, respectively, in total defense (319.6 yards per game).

Auburn wide receiver Kyle Davis potentially out for spring

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Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was optimistic about wide receiver Kyle Davis returning to the team at some point this spring, but the tune has changed regarding his future. Malzahn is now saying Davis may be out for the remainder of Auburn’s spring practices due to personal reasons.

“Kyle Davis is still taking care of some personal business,” Malzahn said, according to SEC Country. “I’m not for sure if he’s going to be back before the end of the spring. He will be back for the fall, just taking a little bit longer than we initially thought.”

It was just a few weeks ago Malzahn said Davis was going to be out for the start of spring practices, which are now close to half over. For now, the plan is simply to have him return over the summer in preparation for the fall.

In the meantime, Malzahn confirmed John Franklin III is working primarily as a wide receiver, which had previously been suspected to be the case.

Penn State announces three captains for 2017 season

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With Penn State just about to get started with spring football practices, head coach James Franklin wasted no time in naming his captains for the 2017 season. Quarterback Trace McSorley, linebacker Jason Cabinda, and safety Nick Scott have been voted captains by their peers on the team.

“These three young men have been leaders in our program, on and off the field,” Franklin said in a released statement. “They live our four core values and act with the program’s best interest in mind. Our team is in good hands with these guys!”

McSorley took over the offense as Penn State’s starting quarterback in 2016. A bit of a mystery to most entering the season after being the backup to Christian Hackenberg, McSorley ended his 2016 season with a Big Ten-leading 3,614 passing yards and 29 touchdown passes with eight interceptions and played a key role in guiding Penn State to a late run to a Big Ten championship and an appearance in the Rose Bowl. He enters the 2017 season as one of the top quarterbacks returning to the Big Ten, along with Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett.

Cabinda, an All-Big Ten third team player in 2016, was Penn State’s third-leading tackler last season with 81 tackles. He accumulated that many tackles despite missing five games due to injury. He is slated to be the leader in the middle of the Penn State defense with a starting role already locked down and will look to help guide some younger linebackers stepping into key roles in the defense this upcoming season, such as Manny Bowen and Koa Farmer.

Scott has been a special teams leader for Penn State and is expected to continue to lead the special teams effort once again this season.