LSU really likes this offense stuff now.
One week after winding up on the losing end of a shootout with Georgia, the formerly offensively-challenged program showed it could dial it up again against Mississippi State, beating the Bulldogs in a hard-fought 59-26 victory in Starkville.
The Tigers are now averaging 45 points per game in their first three SEC outings this year.
As has usually been the case of late, quarterback Zach Mettenberger was the difference maker for LSU. He completed 25 of 29 for 340 yards and two touchdowns, his second-straight 300-yard passing game (he was over 300 by the end of the third quarter).
Lo and behold, there are weapons around Mettenberger, too. Tailback Jeremy Hill rushed for 157 yards and ripped off a 69-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry continued to show why their one of the pass-catching duos in the county, collecting a combined 17 catches for 275 yards and two touchdowns.
Not that Mississippi State just laid down. On the contrary, the Bulldogs displayed a balanced offensive attack, trading punches with LSU in the first half until it held a 23-21 second-quarter lead over the Tigers. The combo of Dak Prescott and Tyler Russell made the usually stingy LSU defense look like swiss cheese at times. But four quarters was just too long for MSU to hang around a team this talented and the Tigers scored 31 unanswered points to pull away.
But now that LSU has finally come to terms with the forward pass, it’s finally becoming a team that doesn’t have to apologize for huge deficiencies on one side of the ball. In fact, this team is downright intriguing. Credit new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron for finally utilizing the program’s considerable talent on offense. If he keeps getting this kind of production out of Mettenberger, we’re looking at a team that has the potential to run the table the rest of the way and set up a rematch with Georgia in the SEC title game.
Not surprisingly, Bo Pelini will be paid handsomely for returning to LSU.
After a few days worth of speculation, it was reported earlier Monday that all signs were pointing to a Pelini reunion down on the bayou. A few hours later, after Youngstown State announced it was losing its head football coach, it was confirmed that Bo Pelini is the new defensive coordinator at LSU.
Pelini replaces Aranda, who left earlier this month to take the head job at Baylor.
“We are privileged to have one of the top defensive coordinators in all of football in Bo Pelini join our staff,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement. “Bo has had some of the best defenses in football during his career and we are looking forward to him bringing his tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise back to LSU to continue to win championships.”
From 2005-07, Pelini served as the Tigers’ coordinator. He went on to spend seven seasons as the head coach at Nebraska. The past five seasons, he was the head coach at FCS Youngstown State.
According to reports out of the area, Pelini has agreed to a three-year deal that will pay him $2.3 million annually. The man he replaced, Aranda, was the highest-paid assistant in college football at $2.5 million this past season.
At Youngstown State, Pelini was paid less than $400,000 in 2019. Of course, there were also the millions paid to Pelini by the Cornhuskers as part of his buyout, so it’s not like he was forced to eat Hydrox instead of Oreos the past few years.
“The opportunity to return to LSU is truly unique,” Pelini said. “Culturally, with my prior experience at LSU, I know it is a great fit for me. The chance to work with Coach Orgeron, the ability to take charge of the Tigers defense, is something that I’m extremely excited about. All of that in a place that both my family and I immensely enjoyed when we were there before is very exciting for us. We are very honored and looking forward to this next chapter.”
Add another Big Ten quarterback to the NCAA transfer portal. Maryland quarterback Max Bortenschlager has placed his name in the transfer portal, according to a report form 247 Sports.
Bortenschlanger will be a graduate transfer, which means he will be eligible to play for any FBS team this fall. For Bortenschlager, a chance to play quarterback one final year could be at play. The graduating senior previously started for Maryland at quarterback in 2017 but was moved to special teams in 2018. Last season saw injuries interfere with Bortenschlager’s ability to get on the field.
Maryland’s quarterback situation should look similar to how it looked last season. Josh Jackson was named the starter after transferring from Virginia Tech. Jackson passed for 1,274 yards and 12 touchdowns with six interceptions in 10 games. Tyrell Pigrome contributed as well with 719 passing yards and three touchdowns and 153 rushing yards with two touchdowns. Jackson and Piugrome each have one year of eligibility remaining.
Alabama defensive back Nigel Knott will finish his college football career with a new school. Knott, who was medically disqualified for the 2019 season, announced on his Twitter account on Monday he will enter the transfer portal and look to play his final year of eligibility somewhere else.
“I am blessed to have played football for the University of Alabama,” Knott said on his Twitter account on Monday morning. “I have decided to enter the transfer portal.”
Knott confirmed in a follow-up tweet that he is still enrolled at Alabama and on scholarship. The plan appears to be to obtain his degree from Alabama this spring and move on as a graduate transfer. Doing so would make Knott eligible to play for any other FBS program in the fall.
Knott was medically disqualified to play for Alabama in the 2019 season, but he has since been cleared to play. Knott rejoiced at the news on Dec. 30, 2019.
Notre Dame and Cal have agreed to a future game to be played in South Bend, Indiana. Cal announced their future road trip on Monday. Notre Dame will host Cal on Sept. 17, 2022.
“We are looking forward to visiting Notre Dame, and I know that many of our fans will, too,” Cal Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton said in a released statement. “Notre Dame Stadium is an iconic venue, and this game provides another opportunity for our alumni to support their Bears on the road. We saw a great turnout for our game at Ole Miss this past season and again at the Redbox Bowl in Santa Clara. I expect we’ll have another large contingent follow us to Notre Dame for this exciting contest.”
This is a one-game agreement rather than a home-and-home arrangement, but it was one Cal was more than happy to make. For Cal, the Golden Bears get a chance to play an opponent other Pac-12 schools have regularly played. Notre Dame plays annual games against Stanford and USC. It is also a good non-conference matchup against a program weighed as a power conference opponent. Although Pac-12 schools are not required to play another FBS opponent in non-conference play (ACC, Big Ten, and SEC scheduling policies ask members to schedule at least one non-conference game each year against another power conference opponent), the addition of the Fighting Irish is a clear upgrade on the schedule for Cal.
Cal will also play a road game at North Texas in 2022. Cal will host UC Davis and UNLV in non-conference matchups as well. Cal’s game with Notre Dame will sit in the middle of two upcoming home-and-home series with TCU (2020-2021) and Auburn (2023-2024).
Notre Dame still has two vacancies in the 2022 schedule as it currently stands. The Irish will also host Ohio State, Marshall, Stanford, Clemson, and Boston College in 2022. Notre Dame has road games scheduled against Navy, USC, North Carolina and Syracuse in 2022.
Notre Dame and Cal have played just five previous times. The most recent meeting in the series was played in 1967. Notre Dame leads the all-time series 4-0.