No. 1 Miss. St. Bulldogs appear vulnerable during 45-31 victory over Kentucky

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Surivive and advance. That’s all that matters at this point in the season.

The No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs escaped Lexington, Kentucky with a 45-31 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.

Don’t let the final score fool you.

The Wildcats only trailed by a touchdown as the two teams entered the third quarter. Mark Stoops‘ squad had two opportunities late in the game. During the Kentucky’s drive with five minutes remaining, two dropped passes (one on third down and one in the end zone) kept the Wildcats from getting within striking distance.

It didn’t matter since Kentucky then got the ball back after stopping Mississippi State on the ensuing drive. Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles led his team on a seven-play, 71-yard drive that culminated in a four-yard touchdown run by the signal-caller.

An unheard of touchdown during the onside kick is what turned this contest in a two-score victory for the Bulldogs.

Mississippi State never dominated this contest like the best team in the nation should have. Kentucky is a young and improving program, but their best win this season came against a struggling South Carolina squad. Otherwise, the Wildcats’ other four wins came against the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks, Ohio Bobcats, Vanderbilt Commodores and Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks.

Dan Mullen‘s squad wasn’t crisp on offense, quarterback Dak Prescott struggled in the passing game and the team’s bend-but-don’t-break defense finally broke…multiple times.

The Bulldogs didn’t have an answer for Towles. Kentucky’s quarterback threw for 390 yards and ran for 76 more despite being sacked numerous times.

Kentucky amassed an impressive 504 yards. As the Bulldogs continue their season, an inability to consistently stop opposing offenses becomes a major red flag.

Mississippi State’s backfield once again became the team’s saving grace.

Quarterback Dak Prescott accumulated 304 total yards and three touchdowns to keep his Heisman campaign chugging along. Prescott made multiple highlight-reel runs during the contest, but running back Josh Robinson was Mississippi State’s bell cow Saturday afternoon.

The Bulldogs’ bowling ball of a running back ran for 198 yards including a 73-yard touchdown romp early in the fourth quarter.

Mississippi State was in unfamiliar territory this weekend. Expectations are sky high after the team received its first No. 1 overall ranking in school history. The Bulldogs could have faltered. Kentucky gave them everything they could handle. Instead, the Bulldogs kept their undefeated season alive. And that is all that matters.

Ex-Minnesota QB now in the FCS facing multiple felony rape, sexual assault charges

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A rather disturbing story involving a former Power Five quarterback is currently playing out in the state of Tennessee.

According to The Tennessean, Tennessee State quarterback Demry Croft was arrested Monday and charged with six felony counts of rape and two counts of sexual battery.  The charges stem from an alleged incident that occurred Dec. 1 of last year and came about after the allegations were presented to a grand jury by the university police department.

Other than the alleged rape wasn’t reported until April 4 of this year, no details surrounding the case have been revealed.

Croft remains a part of the FCS school, with the newspaper writing that “TSU officials would not confirm if Croft has been suspended from the football team.”

Croft began his collegiate playing career at Minnesota, but opted to transfer from the Gophers and ultimately landed at Tennessee State in December of 2017.

During his last season with the Gophers, Croft, who started the last six games of 2017,  completed 42 percent of his 122 passes for 674 yards, four touchdowns and seven interceptions. His 87.6 pass efficiency rating is not amongst the top 126 quarterbacks in the country.  Perhaps the most noteworthy moment of his Gophers career was posting a negative quarterback rating in a mid-November loss to Northwestern two weeks before he decided to transfer.

Conversely, though, he was good with his feet as his 309 yards rushing and four rushing touchdowns were fourth and third on the team, respectively.

At TSU, Croft started four games before missing the last half of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury.  Prior to the off-field issue, Croft had been penciled in as the Tigers’ starting quarterback.

Willie Taggart says turnover backpack won’t be a thing at Florida State this coming season

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Thankfully, mercifully, one of the most laughably embarrassing turnover “traditions” is no more.

In recent years, turnover props have become all the rage in college football, the most notable of which may have been Miami’s gaudy but very apt gold chain.  There has also been Boise State’s throne, Louisville’s boxing gloves, Memphis’s Ric Flair-inspired robe, Tennessee’s trash can, Tulane’s beads and Boise State’s throne, which is so damn awesome it deserves a second mention.  Multiple nods to professional rasslin’/boxing with championship belts for the likes of Alabama and Ohio State among others have become the norm as well.

Not to be forgotten is Virginia Tech, whose lunch pail is arguably the granddaddy of all props.

And then there’s Florida State.

Last year, in the midst of a five-win season that saw the Seminoles’ bowl streak snapped at 36 straight, someone on the FSU staff added off-field insult to on-field injury by busting out a turnover… backpack.  Yes, a turnover backpack.

Fortunately for all involved, saner heads have prevailed and the backpack has been retired.

“Nah, you are just going to see us play football,” second-year head coach Willie Taggart, by way of the Miami Herald, said on a CBS Sports podcast this week. “You are not going to see a backpack, anything, you are going to see us play football and have fun playing the game with each other and having fun making plays. I think that is what you are going to see out of our guys.

“That was something that our guys wanted to do and they enjoyed doing it. This is the 2019 team and guys want to do things different, they want to be different and expect to be different.”

Toledo announces future three-game series with Kentucky

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How about a little Power Five-Group of Five scheduling news to start off your Wednesday morning?

This week, Toledo announced that it has reached an agreement on a future three-game series with Kentucky, which is essentially a home-and-home plus a one-off.  The two schools will play in Lexington during the 2025 and 2028 seasons, with the Wildcats traveling to the Glass Bowl in 2027.

Specific dates for those matchups, which will be the first-ever between the school, weren’t divulged.

“We are very pleased to enter in this three-game series with the University of Kentucky,” said UT athletic director Mike O’Brien in a statement. “Bringing an SEC opponent into the Glass Bowl is huge for our football program and for our fans. We look forward to an exciting series with the Wildcats, beginning with the game in Lexington this fall.”

That 2027 game will mark just the second time an SEC school has ever traveled to Toledo for a football game, with the first being Missouri in 2014.  All told, the Rockets have played four games against members of that conference and have gone 1-3 in those contests, with the lone win coming against Arkansas in 2015.

Love lost as Memphis LB enters transfer portal

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For the third time this offseason, Memphis has seen a member of its football program sucked into the infamous portal.

Citing a source familiar with the decision, the Memphis Commercial Appeal is reporting that Nyle Love has entered his name into the transfer database.  No specific reason was given for the departure, although positioning on the depth chart would be a likely place to start.

Other FBS schools will be able to contact Love without receiving U-M’s permission, with the linebacker also retaining the ability to return to the Tigers if he so desires.  As we have noted multiple times in the past, the school now also has the option to strip Love of his scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered the portal.

If Love moves on to another FBS school, it’s very likely he’ll have to sit out the 2019 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

Love didn’t play a down for Tigers after coming to the AAC school as a three-star 2018 signee.