Woe Damn Eagle: No. 3 Miss. St. clips No. 2, eyes No. 1 spot


A Mississippi State-ment indeed.  And again.

In the biggest game ever played at Davis Wade Stadium, Mississippi State came up bigger than it ever has in the football program’s history.  And, in the process, showed , after a sloppy first half, exactly why they are the best team in the country right now, regardless of what the polls say Sunday afternoon.

Continuing a historic football run for the state of Mississippi, No. 3 Mississippi State was able to, after jumping out to a quick three-score lead, hold off No. 2 Auburn to win 38-23 and remain unbeaten at 6-0.  A record crowd of 62,945 crammed into the on-campus stadium to witness MSU’s sixth straight win to open this season and ninth consecutive overall, the second-longest streak in the country behind Florida State’s 22.

To get to that point, however, the Bulldogs needed to overcome several self-inflicted wounds.

MSU committed four first-half turnovers, which in most cases would spell doom for even the best of teams.  Thanks in large part to AU’s red zone ineptness, however, the giveaways only cost MSU 13 points.  Meanwhile, the Bulldogs were able to turn a pair of Tiger turnovers into 14 first-quarter points.

The biggest turnover of the game, however, came courtesy of the visitors.

After taking a 31-20 lead on a field goal with just under 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Auburn, after a replay review upheld the call, fumbled the ball back to Mississippi State on the ensuing kickoff at the AU 15-yard line.  Two plays later, a Josh Robinson one-yard touchdown run, his second score of the game, pushed the lead to 38-20 and essentially iced the game for the home team.

With the win, the Bulldogs remain, along with in-state rival Ole Miss (pending its game against Texas A&M), in the SEC West driver’s seat at 3-0.  The task gets a little easier, but not by much, the next couple of weeks as they will travel to Lexington in two weeks to face a rejuvenated Kentucky team that’s 5-1 and play host a week later to a 3-3 Arkansas squad that’s playing much better than it’s record.

They also have a current  résumé that screams “No. 1 team in the country.”

The past three games, MSU has beaten three teams — No. 8 LSU, No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 2 Auburn — that were ranked in the Top 10 at the time.  Certainly the first two could’ve been and likely were overrated in retrospect, but those are still quality wins, particularly the night triumph in Death Valley.  Is that enough for them to leapfrog No. 1 Florida State?  The Seminoles have been hemorrhaging first-place votes the past few weeks, so it’s entirely possible.

In fact, it very well should happen as it’s hard to argue that the Bulldogs aren’t the best team in the country through the first seven weeks.  And if you thought we’d be even arguing that at this point of the season, you’re lying.

Not only was the win key for poll and, eventually, College Football Playoff positioning, it also served as a nationally-televised infomercial for one Heisman candidate.

Entering the game, and thanks to Todd Gurley‘s suspension, Dak Prescott was the wagering stiff-armed favorite according to one prominent online book.  And, yes, he tossed a pair of interceptions.  The MSU quarterback, though, bounced back and put together a tremendous performance on a pressure-packed stage, totaling 367 yards of offense (246 passing, 121 rushing) and contributing two touchdowns apiece with his arm and legs.

The 121 yards marked the fourth time the past five games Prescott has topped the 100-yard plateau in rushing.  It was part and parcel of a performance that, for the time being, solidified Prescott as the slight favorite for the 2014 Heisman.

Report: Tua Tagovailoa’s injury serious, similar to one that ended Bo Jackson’s career

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This isn’t good.  At all.

The biggest story of Week 12 by far is the health of Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered a hip injury toward the end of the first half of the Mississippi State as Alabama was up 35-7.  The junior quarterback was carted off the field and, after being examined inside Davis Wade Stadium, was taken away via ambulance for further evaluation.

According to al.com, Tagovailoa is being taken back to Birmingham via helicopter to undergo a series of CAT scans and MRIs to determine the exact extent and nature of the injury.  One report from Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy, though, is ominous, to say the least.

For those unfamiliar, Jackson, a College Football Hall of Famer at Auburn, suffered a severe hip injury in an AFC playoff game in January of 1991 and never played another down of football.

It should be noted that there has been no official word on Tagovailoa’s status from the football program.  Thus far, UA has declined to go into any detail as they still await an update on the injury, which could come as early as later on today

No. 16 Notre Dame all over No. 21 Navy through one half

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When the Navy offense works, the clock bleeds, the ball ticks forward and life becomes living hell for the opponent. When it doesn’t, it can get ugly for the Midshipmen.

It’s been ugly through one half in South Bend.

No. 16 Notre Dame holds a 38-3 lead over No. 21 Navy at the half. The Fighting Irish scored all six times they touched the ball in the half, as Ian Book went a practice-like 11-of-14 for 209 yards with four touchdowns, three of them coming to Chase Claypool. Claypool caught six passes for 97 yards and scores of 47, seven and three yards.

Navy hasn’t been able to get the running game going — they run for just 131 yards on 33 carries — but three fumbles by quarterback Malcolm Perry have proven catastrophic, ending Navy scoring threats and leading directly to three Irish touchdowns. The Middies finally sustained a drive with a minute to play in the half, moving 72 yards in nine snaps to set up a 27-yard Bijan Nichols field goal as time expired.

Navy will receive to open the second half.

Upsets a mere rumor in early window as all six ranked teams hold serve

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If there is to be a Week 12 shakeup in the next edition of the College Football Playoff rankings, it won’t be as a result of the early television window.

In the noon block of kickoffs, six teams currently ranked in the CFP Top 25 squared off with unranked opponents.  And, in each of those matchups, the ranked teams held serve — in the majority of the cases by a comfortable margin for good measure.

There was, though, one potentially significant development to unfold during the early window.

  • No. 5 Alabama (-21) 38, Mississippi State 7 — The outcome was never in doubt and the final score doesn’t matter; the health of star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa moving forward absolutely does as the hip injury suffered by the junior late in the first half, and a couple of other injuries to Crimson Tide players for that matter, could play a significant role in helping to shape the playoff field next month.
  • No. 9 Penn State (-15) 34, Indiana 27 — The Hoosiers got as close as three points early in the fourth quarter as the Nittany Lions narrowly avoided a second straight loss, setting the stage for a huge Big Ten East matchup with No. 2 Ohio State in Columbus next Saturday.
  • No. 11 Florida (-6½) 23, Missouri 6 — *snore* *yawn* *ssstttrrreeetches* *scratches self* *snores again*
  • No. 14 Wisconsin (-15) 37, Nebraska 21 — Nice timing on that contract extension, Nebraska, as Jonathan Taylor rushes for 204 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries in the easy road win. This game marked the Badgers’ seventh-straight win over the Cornhuskers.
  • No. 15 Michigan (-13½) 44, Michigan State 10 — With pleas for civility ringing in their ears, Michigan beat its “little brother” in Ann Arbor for the first time since 2012 and earned a win in the rivalry for just the fourth time in the last dozen meetings.  It was also U-M’s most lopsided win in the series since a 49-3 blowout in 2002.
  • No. 22 Oklahoma State (-17½) 31, Kansas 13 — In Les Miles‘ return to Stillwater, the Cowboys had no problem whatsoever in extending its winning streak over the Jayhawks to 10 straight, with KU’s last win coming in 2007.  OSU’s Chuba Hubbard, who entered Week 12 as the nation’s leading rusher, ran for 122 yards in the romp.

In the 3:30 ET window, there are five more ranked vs. unranked matchups — No. 2 Ohio State at Rutgers, Wake Forest at No. 3 Clemson, No. 18 Memphis at Houston, No. 19 Texas at Iowa State and West Virginia at No. 24 Kansas State.  Later on, there are six additional such games — No. 1 LSU at Ole Miss, No. 17 Cincinnati at South Florida, No. 25 Appalachian State at Georgia State, UCLA at No. 7 Utah, New Mexico at No. 21 Boise State and Arizona at No. 6 Oregon.

Additionally, there are four games in which both teams are ranked — No. 23 Navy at No. 16 Notre Dame, No. 4 Georgia at No. 12 Auburn, No. 8 Minnesota at No. 20 Iowa and No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 13 Baylor.

No. 15 Michigan pounds Michigan State into submission, 44-10

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Shea Patterson threw for 384 yards and four touchdowns as No. 15 Michigan (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) blew out in-state rival Michigan State (4-6, 2-5 Big Ten), 44-10. The Wolverines outscored the Spartans 44-3 after the first quarter to easily keep their momentum going at the end of the season. It is the first home win for Jim Harbaugh against rivals Michigan State and Ohio State. Will Harbaugh be able to complete the rial sweep at home in two weeks?

The way Michigan has been playing lately, it is a wonder how Michigan lost two games this season. While Michigan did complete well in a loss to Penn State a month ago, the game against Wisconsin is one Michigan would probably most like to get a do-over in. Instead, a blowout win over Michigan State keeps the program moving toward a possible spot in a New Years Six bowl game. On the other end of the spectrum, Michigan State’s season is continuing to spiral in the wrong direction, and a 34-point loss to its top rival won’t help matters in East Lansing for head coach Mark Dantonio.

Michigan out-gained the Spartans 467-220 despite nearly splitting the time of possession right down the middle (Michigan State had the football for 3:05). Neither team gave up much on the ground, so it was the play of the quarterbacks that would be a major difference. Advantage, Michigan. Patterson had one of his best performances in a Michigan uniform, while Brian Lewerke was intercepted twice and completed 17 of 30 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown. Patterson was without an interception. The player of the game for the Wolverines may have been receiver Ronnie Bell, who caught nine passes for 150 yards (although with none for a touchdown).

Bell has more than made up for his one glaring drop this season against Penn State. Coincidentally, Michigan has turned things on since that Penn State game. Since trailing Penn State 21-0 four games ago, Michigan has outscored its opponents 148-38.

Michigan will play on the road next week against Indiana. The Hoosiers lost in a tight battle at Penn State on Saturday as Michigan was playing Michigan State. Michigan’s regular-season finale at home against Ohio State is coming up on the horizon, but the Hoosiers always find ways to keep things interesting against the Wolverines too.

The Spartans will need to win their final two games in order to become bowl eligible. Michigan State will travel to Rutgers next week looking to keep the bowl hopes alive. Michigan State ends the regular season at home against Maryland. If nothing else, the schedule is about as favorable as it can get for Michigan State with bowl hopes on the line.