Weekend Preview: Missouri to Atlanta and big games in the Pac 12

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It is time to start giving Missouri some respect. The Tigers have earned their keep in the SEC East and can look to take a giant step toward their first conference championship game since playing for the 2008 Big 12 championship. you should also pay close attention to what happens in the Pac 12 this weekend as well.

Missouri looks for ticket to Atlanta

Missouri can clinch the SEC East this weekend with a win over South Carolina. Of course, this will be easier said than done, but you probably thought the same about Missouri beating Georgia or Florida too. This Missouri team is a legitimate favorite in the division, even without quarterback James Franklin available at the moment. This weekend the Tigers will have to hope they can contain South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, coming off his best game of the season last weekend. Clowney and the Gamecocks were upset by Tennessee on the final play of the game while Missouri ended up blowing away Florida. Gary Pinkel has become one of the leading candidates for coach of the year honors but how he handles the situation this week with the eyes of the nation taking notice to what’s going on in Columbia, Missouri will be something to watch as expectations grow.

Even if Missouri does not wrap up the division this weekend, Missouri has Tennessee at home next week and a road game at Kentucky the next. The odds are still on the Tigers in the east but Missouri fans are starting to dream a little bigger as well for the first time since Chase Daniel was tossing touchdowns to Jeremy Maclin.

Big games in the Pac 12

Despite sitting third in the initial BCS standings, the popular belief is Oregon still has an excellent chance to play for a BCS title at the end of this season. This weekend Oregon hosts UCLA, with the Bruins falling short of proving they belong among the elite in the Pac 12. UCLA lost to Stanford last weekend but still has a shot at playing in the Pac 12 Championship. Now they get a huge chance to make up for it. If UCLA can upset Oregon, the BCS picture will either become more foggy or more clear, depending on your rooting interests perhaps. One thing that would be sure is that UCLA is in fact in the conversation when discussing the top threats out of the Pac 12. UCLA will need to play a perfect game though because Oregon is the second best team in the country.

There is another game well worth staying up for. Stanford, the nation’s top one-loss team according to the BCS standings, visits Oregon State. Let’s not sleep on the Beavers. Since losing the season opener to Eastern Washington, Oregon State has gone on a roll led by quarterback Sean Mannion, a player who could start to enter the Heisman conversation by Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. Mannion, the nation’s leading passer, would certainly start to gain some respect if he can lead Oregon State to a victory over Stanford. If there is one team that can really mess up the Pac 12, it is not UCLA or Arizona State. It is Oregon State.

How does Florida State follow up after last week?

Last weekend the Florida State Seminoles put together perhaps the best overall single game performance seen by any team this country. As a result of their huge win over Clemson, Florida State vaulted in to second place in the BCS standings and Jameis Winston jumped to the top of a number of Heisman polls. This team has answered every test set in front of them this season. Go on the road and win conference games? No problem. Put away a surprising Maryland team? You got it. Go in to Clemson and come away with a win? Piece of cake.

Like Missouri, the question about Florida State is now one that asks how they handle the expectations and spotlight? Oregon is sniffing down the necks of Florida State, so keeping the foot on the gas pedal is a requirement for the Noles. North Carolina State has a history of knocking off a high-and-mighty Florida State program over the course of the series (2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2012). This one of the demons Florida State will have to get by before setting their sights on a BCS championship run. Everybody has been talking about games against Miami and perhaps Virginia Tech, but it may be North Carolina State that can derail the whole train if Florida State is caught sleeping.

Top Games with Pat Forde

Teams looking for bowl eligibility

Central Florida scored a big win last week with a road win at Louisville. The Golden Knights have the inside track on a BCS bid that goes with being the champion of the American, but a win will guarantee Central Florida a postseason spot. George O’Leary‘s becomes bowl eligible with a home win against Connecticut. There is one other team in the American that can clinch bowl eligibility as well, with Houston and Cincinnati each one win away. Houston, who plays at Rutgers, missed out on the postseason last year with a 5-7 record a year after Kevin Sumlin and Case Keenum guided Houston to a 13-1 season. Who else can become bowl eligible this weekend?

Maryland, Duke, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Minnesota, Rice, Tulane, Notre Dame, Bowling Green, Buffalo, UCLA, Texas A&M, and South Carolina can all become eligible for the postseason.

On the flip side, California, Temple, Connecticut, Idaho, Kent State, Akron, Massachusetts, Eastern Michigan, Air Force, Hawaii, and Southern Mississippi can all officially be eliminated from postseason contention with a loss. Southern Miss slugs in to the weekend riding an 18-game losing streak.

LSU confirms six-year, $42 million contract extension for Ed Orgeron

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LSU has made certain that Ed Orgeron will be rewarded for the football program’s historic 2019 campaign.

Earlier Friday, it was reported that LSU and Ed Orgeron had reached an agreement on a new deal for the head coach.  A short time ago, the school confirmed that an extended deal with Orgeron is indeed in place.

Per the school, the new six-year agreement includes a base annual salary of $6 million. In addition, Orgeron will receive a $5 million split-dollar life insurance policy payable over the first two years of the agreement. In total, the agreement is worth more than $42 million, before bonuses.

This past season, his third full year at the school, Orgeron earned $4 million in total pay.  That was tied for 28th nationally — Chad Morris, fired by Arkansas, was one of them with whom Orgeron was tied — and tied for eighth in the SEC according to the USA Today coaching salary database.

“Coach O has set a new standard at LSU,” said LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said in a statement. “He has proven that he is not only a championship coach, but also a leader of a program committed to doing things the right way. He has represented our institution and our state with great pride, on and off the field of play. He is well-deserving of this new contract, which should make clear our commitment to Coach O and the direction of our football program.”

The new deal between LSU and Ed Orgeron is pending the approval of the school’s board of supervisors.

In three-plus seasons with the Bayou Bengals — he served as interim head coach after Les Miles was fired in September of 2016 — Orgeron has gone 40-9 overall and 23-7 in SEC play.  During the run to an undefeated 2019 campaign, LSU beat seven teams ranked in the Top 10 at the time the game was played.  That’s the first time in the history of college football that’s happened.

Along the way to that perfect 15-0 season, Orgeron collected a handful of honors, including being named the SEC (HERE), Home Depot (HERE), Associated Press, Eddie Robinson (HERE) and Walter Camp Coach of the Year (HERE).

“I’m very appreciative of Scott Woodward, the LSU Board of Supervisors and the state of Louisiana,” Orgeron said. “I’m happy to represent LSU and this great state. My family and I are very grateful, and I look forward to working as hard as possible to continue to win championships at LSU.”

Vanderbilt potential landing spot for Clemson transfer QB Chase Brice

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A high-profile transfer from the Clemson football team has kicked off in earnest the process of finding a new college football home.

Jan. 16, Chase Brice announced on Twitter that he has decided to transfer out of the Clemson football program.  Almost immediately, speculation turned to USF as a potential landing spot as Jeff Scott, the former Clemson football assistant, is now the head coach of the Bulls.  Georgia was also mentioned as a possibility because it’s his home state, although that would seem highly unlikely as UGA is the new home for Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman.

Thursday, however, the quarterback confirmed to SI.com that he has “been talking with Vanderbilt.” Just how far along the discussions are with the SEC school is unclear.

In a conversation with The State earlier this week, Brice stated that there are “about five, six, seven schools that have a great opportunity for me to go in.” The names of that handful of schools weren’t detailed.

The quarterback also delved into what he’s looking for in a new school.

“The right fit for me that fits my abilities and strengths. An offense that is QB friendly. Not really worried about where it’s at at this point. I’m looking everywhere,” Brice told the newspaper. “A good coaching staff. I’ve been around a great coaching staff for three years, and I want to have the opportunity to continue that. Coaches that will put you in the best position to win, love their jobs and love coaching, enjoy coaching quarterbacks. Someone that I can really learn from and take a lot away from the next two years.”

Brice was a three-star 2017 signee for Clemson football, rated as the No. 17 pro-style quarterback in the country. He was also the No. 40 player regardless of position in the state of Georgia.

The past two seasons, Brice went 75-of-124 for 896 yards with nine touchdowns against four interceptions while adding another 179 rushing yards. He memorably saved Clemson’s 2018 national championship run, stepping in for an injured Trevor Lawrence in the game immediately following Kelly Bryant‘s midseason departure, leading the Tigers from a 23-13 fourth-quarter deficit to a 27-23 win over Syracuse.

As he will play for his next school as a graduate transfer, Brice will have two seasons of eligibility to use wherever he lands.

Report: LSU, Ed Orgeron agree to six-year, $42 million contract extension

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For Ed Orgeron and LSU, especially the former, it pays to be king.

Earlier this month, Ed Orgeron and LSU capped off the greatest season in school history, punishing Clemson in the College Football Playoff title game to claim the 2019 national championship.  It marked the school’s first national title since 2007.

Along the way to a perfect 15-0 season, Orgeron collected a handful of honors, including being named the SEC (HERE), Home Depot (HERE), Associated Press, Eddie Robinson (HERE) and Walter Camp Coach of the Year (HERE).  Friday, Ed Orgeron has been rewarded in another way by LSU as Bruce Feldman of The Athletic is reporting that the two sides have reached an agreement on a six-year contract extension worth more than $42 million.

An official announcement from the school is expected in short order.

This past season, his third full year at the school, Orgeron earned $4 million in total pay.  That was tied for 28th nationally — Chad Morris, fired by Arkansas, was one of them with whom Orgeron was tied — tied for eighth in the SEC according to the USA Today coaching salary database.

In three-plus seasons with the Bayou Bengals — he served as interim head coach after Les Miles was fired in September of 2016 — Orgeron has gone 40-9 overall and 23-7 in SEC play.  During the run to an undefeated 2019 campaign, LSU beat seven teams ranked in the Top 10 at the time the game was played.  That’s the first time in the history of college football that’s happened.

While still basking in the glow of an unprecedented season, a repeat will be difficult if not impossible.  Assistant Joe Brady, widely credited with turning LSU’s 18th-century offense into a modern-day, record-setting powerhouse, left to become the offensive coordinator for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.  Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, considered one of the best in the sport, is now the head coach at Baylor.  On top of that coaching upheaval, LSU also lost nine players to early entry into the 2020 NFL Draft.  And Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow is out of eligibility as well.

Last Chance U star Malik Henry’s time as a QB at Nevada has come to an end

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For Malik Henry, it’s yet another bump in what’s been a pothole-filled college football journey.

According to Chris Murray of Nevada SportsNet, Henry is no longer enrolled at the university and his “time with the Nevada football program is over.” Murray reported the news earlier in the week.

Transferring in from the junior-college ranks, Henry had been a part of the preseason competition for the starting quarterback job this past season that, at least initially, went to Carson Strong. In October, he got what will apparently be his lone start for Nevada, completing 22-of-37 passes for 352 yards, one touchdown and a pair of interceptions in a win over San Jose State.  The 41 points for the Wolf Pack in that game were a season-high.

For the season, Henry went 42-of-78 for 593 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.

Speculation is that academics may have played a role in the departure, although that’s yet to be confirmed.

Just what the future will hold for Malik Henry is unclear — 2020 would be his final season of collegiate eligibility — although, given his past, the possibilities are limitless. And not necessarily in a good way.

Prior to his brief stop at Nevada, Henry was a member of the team at Independence (Kan.) Community College, better known as “Last Chance U” of Netflix fame.

Prior to that, Henry was a four-star member of Florida State’s 2016 recruiting class, rated as the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the country; the No. 8 player at any position in the state of California; and the No. 49 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.

In mid-August of his true freshman season, Henry was indefinitely suspended by then-head coach Jimbo Fisher for violating unspecified team rules. A month later, he was reinstated, but ultimately took a redshirt for the 2016 season.

In December of that year, Henry announced that he would be transferring from the Seminoles.