TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 19:  Chad Kelly #10 of the Mississippi Rebels reacts after passing for a touchdown against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Chad Kelly tosses 3 TDs in first half as Ole Miss is powering by FSU

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Maybe Florida State spent a little too much time listening to Jimbo Fisher give his pregame speech. Or maybe they didn’t listen enough. Whatever the case, No. 4 Florida State has a lot to work on if they want to climb back and make a game of this with No. 11 Ole Miss in Orlando. The Rebels jumped out to a 21-3 lead on the Seminoles, and hold a 28-13 lead at the half.

First, let’s give Ole Miss the credit it deserves, because oh my did they ever come to play a good game tonight in Orlando. Despite losing starting defensive back Ken Webster to an awful leg injury early in the game, the defense has been swarming. On offense, Chad Kelly has been locked in with three touchdown passes and over 200 passing yards in the half. Kelly has also gotten involved with his legs and leads the Rebels on the ground after one half. Kelly has managed to get everybody involved by spreading the ball to six different receivers in the first half. Akeem Judd has the only rushing touchdown of the game so far.

Florida State’s offense has been silenced by the defense of Ole Miss. Dalvin Cook, arguably the top running back in the nation heading into the 2016 season, has been held to just 16 rushing yards on 10 rushing attempts. Ole Miss has focused on him and taken him out of the running game, which should have been a strength for the Seminoles. The offense also looks as though it is being run by a freshman, because, well, it is. Deondre Francois, a four-star dual-threat quarterback out of IMG Academy in the Class of 2015, has had some quick growing pains but has hung in there at times. They can’t all be like Jameis Winston right from the start, not even at Florida State. Francois did lead the offense down the field for a late touchdown just before halftime, and he took a hit in the process. Given the situation on the field, a late touchdown could be the momentum shift Florida State needed.

Earlier, just when it looked as though Florida State was finally going to reach the end zone for the first time, down 21-3, Heisman hopeful Cook inexplicably fumbled the football out of bounds. Florida State maintained possession and was kept out of the end zone by Ole Miss defense. They settled for a short field goal instead.

Kaelin Clay, who dropped a football before crossing the goal line for Utah against Oregon two years ago, chimed in with his commentary following that play.

You play four quarters of football for a reason. If Florida State is going to get back in this thing, the offense has to start making something, anything, happen. Ole Miss needs to keep the pedal to the metal and find a way to close this one out.

Texas HS coaches reportedly favored Major Applewhite over Lane Kiffin at Houston

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 05:  Offensive Cooridator Major Applewhite of the Houston Cougars looks on during warm ups before the game against the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles on September 5, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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Texas high school coaches are a powerful lot. Tom Herman has one on his staff, Charlie Strong had one on his, and new Baylor head coach Matt Rhule‘s first hire in Waco was the president of the Texas high school coaches’ association.

Lone Star high school coaches’ power stretches even beyond simply getting on college staffs, however. They have the power to scuttle prospective coaching tenures before they happen.

That’s according to Houston board chairman/Cougars booster Tilman Fertitta. Speaking to KILT-AM in Houston on Friday night, Fertitta said high school coaches’ push for Major Applewhite is what put the Coogs’ offensive coordinator over the top of Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

“The Texas high school football coaches bombarded our athletic director (Hunter Yurachek) and said: We want our kids to play for Major Applewhite,” Fertitta said, via ESPN. “Here’s a guy that’s been on the big stage, he was the quarterback at the University of Texas, he has a great relationship with the coaches and high school football in Texas. Lane does not. That was an ‘X’ against Lane compared to Major.

“Continuity in the program, the kids, the recruits today playing wanted Major Applewhite. They let it be known. It was just one thing after another that had steamrolled to Major.”

Judging by Applewhite’s Twitter feed, it was hard to argue against that logic. The new Houston head coach tweeted support from two key Cougars recruits and a current Houston player who, incidentally, were rumored targets of Herman at Texas.

“I’ll be 100 percent honest with you. When this started, I thought that we needed to go out and get a name-brand coach, because, to me, it’s all about brands,” Fertitta said. “Nobody understands that better than me. And I wanted the University of Houston to stay relevant, OK? I think Les Miles is a fine coach and he’s going to be a great coach for somebody, and I think the same thing of Lane Kiffin. I was very impressed. But when I looked at the whole picture and totality, I truly think in my heart — and so did everybody else on the committee think — that Major Applewhite was the right fit.”

Pitt RB James Conner declares for NFL Draft

STILLWATER, OK - SEPTEMBER 17 : Running back James Conner #24 of the Pittsburgh Panthers is pursued by linebacker Devante Averette #40 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys September 17, 2016 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
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James Conner is taking his inspirational story and frightening running back skills to the NFL.

The Pittsburgh running back made the announcement Saturday afternoon through his Twitter account.

The Panthers immediately released a statement blessing the move.

Conner burst on the scene as a freshman, leading the Panthers with 799 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. He exploded as a sophomore for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns before missing his junior season due to Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He returned to the field this fall with a body free of cancer and promptly returned to form, carrying a team-leading 208 times for 1,060 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Conner was named the winner of the Disney Spirit Award on Thursday night.

The Pitt running back will join a growing list of running back early entrants, including D'Onta ForemanLeonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey.

Cincinnati formally announces Luke Fickell as new head coach

CHAMPAIGN, IL - OCTOBER 15:  Head coach Luke Fickell of the Ohio State Buckeyes watches as his team takes on the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium on October 15, 2011 in Champaign, Illinois. Ohio State defeated Illinois 17-7.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The worst-kept secret in college football is no longer a secret. Luke Fickell is Cincinnati’s new head coach.

The school made the announcement Saturday afternoon after word had begun trickling in the Buckeye State since last night.

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Fickell is a true son of Ohio State. Born in Columbus, he graduated from high school there, attended and met his wife at Ohio State, began his coaching career there and spent all but two seasons as a Buckeye — and those two seasons were at Akron.

Now he’ll move down state to a program that has placed Mark Dantonio at Michigan State, Brian Kelly at Notre Dame and Butch Jones at Tennessee.

The current occupier of the job Fickell surely wants announced his blessing of the move shortly after it went official.

As Tom Herman and Kirby Smart did before him, Fickell will remain with the Buckeyes through their College Football Playoff run.

“It’s with much pride and humility that I accept the awesome honor of becoming the head coach at the University of Cincinnati,” Fickell said in a statement. This city, this school and my family are all Ohio. It’s a tough blue-collar state with hard-working, blue-collar people that respect an honest and complete effort. That’s what they will get from me personally and what they should expect from this football program. This team belongs to this city and we will make you proud.”

Reports: Lane Kiffin to FAU hits stumbling block

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 11:  Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin of the Alabama Crimson Tide walks on the field before the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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As of last night, there was a deal in place for Lane Kiffin to become the next head coach at Florida Atlantic.

As of Saturday morning, it appears the deal is off.

FootballScoop, who broke the news of the two sides’ talking, reported Saturday morning that the talks hit a “stumbling block.” (Full disclosure: I also write for FootballScoop.)

ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit corroborated that report on SportsCenter.

Herbstreit went as far as saying Kiffin, back in Tuscaloosa, was back on the market pursuing offensive coordinator jobs. That would be good news for LSU, who has placed him as their top target to serve as Ed Orgeron‘s offensive coordinator.