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Mississippi State blocks Miami (Ohio) field goal to seal St. Petersburg Bowl win

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Mississippi State (6-7) blocked a potential game-winning field goal attempt by Miami (Ohio) (6-7) in the final 10 seconds of the St. Petersburg Bowl to secure a 17-16 win. The blocked field goal let Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen off the hook for a questionable coaching decision on the Bulldogs’ final offensive possession.

Rather than kick a field goal to extend the lead to four points, and immediately after having starting quarterback Nick Fitzgerald limp his way off the field, Mullen had Damian Williams roll out and look to convert on a fourth and four from the Miami 22-yard line. The pass fell incomplete, and gave Miami a chance to move down the field to set themselves up for a potential game-winning field goal. The RedHawks moved their way to the Mississippi State 17-yard line and then appeared to settle for a field goal, using their next two plays to set the ball at the desired spot for kicker Nick Dowd while sacrificing three yards in exchange for forcing Mississippi State to burn two timeouts. With Dowd set for a 37-yard attempt, the kick was blocked by Nelson Adams with five seconds to play.

Mississippi State battled back from a 16-7 deficit in the second half to take a 17-16 lead with 10 straight points. Fitzgerald ripped off a 44-yard touchdown to generate a spark in the second half and a field goal early in the fourth quarter gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the day. Fitzgerald ended the day rushing for a game-high 132 yards and two scores and passing for 136 yards. Mississippi State was outgained by Miami, 433-335, but won the turnover battle with two forced turnovers and no turnovers by the Bulldogs offense.

The MAC falls to a woeful 0-5 in bowl games this season, while the SEC gets things started on the right foot with a 1-0 record. Also, going back to last season, teams reaching the bowl season with a 5-7 record (as Mississippi State did) are now 4-0 in bowl games.

Mississippi State opens the 2017 season at home on September 2 against Charleston Southern. The Bulldogs will also host BYU and UMass in non-conference play and go diving head first into the SEC schedule at home against LSU on September 16. Mississippi State’s 2017 road schedule includes games at Georgia, Auburn, Texas A&M and Arkansas.

Miami will open the 2017 season on the road against Marshall from Conference USA. The RedHawks will also play Cincinnati (at home) and Notre Dame next season.

USC optimistic Uchenna Nwosu will play against Cal

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Already battered by injuries on defense, USC may have avoided what would’ve potentially been a significant loss on that side of the ball.

Uchenna Nwosu suffered a sprained MCL in his knee during USC’s double-overtime win over Texas in Week 3.  After being held out in the early part of the week, the linebacker, armed — or kneed as the case may be — with a brace, returned to practice Wednesday.

Afterward, head coach Clay Helton seemed optimistic about Nwosu’s availability for the Week 4 game against Cal, their first road trip of the season.

Nwosu is currently second on the team in tackles with 20, while his seven pass breakups rank second nationally.  He’s started the first three games of the season for the Trojans after starting every game in 2016.

That brings us to the end of the positive injury news portion of the program as fellow linebacker Porter Gustin is very unlikely to play against the Golden Bears.  Gustin, who leads the Trojans in sacks with three, has been dealing with a surgically-repaired big toe.  While it didn’t keep him out of the Texas game as expected, he was sidelined again at practice Wednesday.

Additionally, defensive end Rasheem Green (ankle) and slot cornerback Ajene Harris (knee) are questionable for the road trip to Berkeley after sitting out practice yet again.

Tennessee LB Cortez McDowell’s season might not be over after all

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In the end, there could be an injury silver lining for Tennessee after all.

In the aftermath of the deflating last-second loss to rival Florida, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones announced that Cortez McDowell would miss the remainder of the 2017 season.  The linebacker sustained an injury to his wrist that, at the time, was deemed serious enough to shelve him for the rest of the year.

The key here is “at the time” as, a couple of days later, the prognosis has brightened slightly as Jones allowed Wednesday that McDowell could return at some point this season.  Whether it’s late in the regular season or even for a bowl game, the coach at least left the door open for the senior to play again in 2017.

Obviously, any availability would be determined in the coming weeks by the program’s medical staff.

McDowell would be eligible for a medical hardship waiver if he shut it down for the remainder of the season, which would give the fourth-year senior another year of eligibility to use in 2018.  At least at this point in time, that’s not the tack that either the player or the football program is taking.

After starting four of 12 games last season, McDowell started the first three games this season prior to his injury.

 

Derrius Guice ruled out for LSU’s game vs. Syracuse

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So there you have it.

Late in the third quarter of Saturday’s 37-7 loss to Mississippi State, Derrius Guice sustained an injury to his left knee.  While Ed Orgeron downplayed the severity of the injury in the ensuing days, he allowed during his turn on the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday that his star running back is “very questionable right now” for the Week 4 game against Syracuse.

Later that night, on the head coach’s radio show, the very questionable morphed into completely out.

Through three games, Guice leads the Tigers with 300 yards rushing and is tied for tops on the team with four rushing touchdowns. His rushing yards are currently fourth in the SEC; last season, his 1,387 yards were tops in the conference.

With Guice unable to go, Darrel Williams (28-159-4) will likely be next in line to shoulder the brunt of the running-game load.

Mason Rudolph’s younger brother sees freshman season at Clemson come to an injury end

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Mason Rudolph is looking at the rest of the season as an opportunity to continue pushing his way into the Heisman discussion and his team deeper into the College Football Playoff picture.  His younger brother, on the other hand, is looking at rehab.

Wednesday night, Clemson announced that Logan Rudolph will miss the remainder of the 2017 season because of a shoulder injury.  The defensive end sustained the injury during a Tuesday practice, and will undergo surgery at some point in the future to repair the damage.  Rudolph dealt with a shoulder issue late in his high school career, and it’s believed this is related to that.

A four-star member of the Tigers’ 2017 recruiting class, Rudolph was rated as the No. 23 weakside defensive end in the country and the No. 4 player at any position in the state of South Carolina.  After enrolling early and participating in spring practice, the true freshman played in two games as a backup behind starter Austin Bryant.  In that limited action, he was credited with three tackles and one tackle for loss.

Because of how few games he’s played, Rudolph would be eligible for a medical redshirt.  That would allow the lineman to extend his eligibility out through the 2021 season if he so desires.

Getting back to the famous name-drop in the lede, Rudolph’s older brother, of course, is the starting quarterback for No. 6 Oklahoma State.