No. 1 Mississippi State loses Heisman chances, control of SEC West in one fell swoop

23 Comments

Admit it, you were seeing visions of Cam Newton in your head. In 2010, an undefeated and second-ranked Auburn team led by a large, mobile quarterback came into Bryant-Denny Stadium and fell behind 24-0 before coming back for a 28-27 win.

And on Saturday, an undefeated and top-ranked Mississippi State team led by a large, mobile quarterback came into Bryant-Denny Stadium and fell behind 19-0 and pulled within 19-13 with plenty of time to make the deja vu complete.

But this time was the other quarterback, Alabama’s Blake Sims, that made the plays necessary when it mattered the most. After seeing his lead cut into thirds, Sims converted three third downs – including pick ups of 3rd-and-8 and 3rd-and-10 with his legs – to guide the Tide on a 15-play, 76-yard drive that pushed Alabama’s lead to 25-13.

Mississippi State drove 54 yards to reach the Alabama 20 on the ensuing possession, but Dak Prescott was intercepted and that was basically that. Prescott tossed a four-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds to go, but it was a purely cosmetic score. Final score: Alabama 25, Mississippi State 20.

Prescott was intercepted a career-high three times on the day; all were in Alabama territory, and two were inside the red zone.

It was that kind of day for Mississippi State, where the Bulldogs made enough plays to prove they belonged on the field with Alabama in a 1 vs. 5 game (428-335 yardage advantage, 26-17 first downs) but not enough to ever be in position to win the game. For as much as the Bulldogs accomplished in outscoring Alabama 20-6 over the game’s final 35 minutes, they never possessed the ball with a chance to take the lead. There were too many turnovers, too many dropped passes and too many missed tackles to beat Alabama in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The key sequence occurred with 5:32 to go in the first half, as Alabama running back Derrick Henry lost the ball at his goal line and a Mississippi State defender recovered it, but the play was turned into a touchdown upon review, giving Alabama a 19-0 lead.

Prescott completed 27-of-48 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns while rushing 22 times for 82 yards, but those three interceptions will cost him a shot at leaving New York with the Heisman Trophy (especially considering what Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon did to Nebraska today). Bowling ball running back Josh Robinson never really got rumbling, limited to 12 carries for 37 yards and a safety that opened the scoring for the Crimson Tide, though he did catch six passes for 69 yards.

Sims was the MVP for Alabama, continuing his string of excellent play in Tuscaloosa with 211 passing yards and a touchdown and four key rushes for 18 yards. T.J. Yeldon rushed 16 times for 72 yards and a touchdown, and Amari Cooper nabbed eight passes for 88 yards and a score.

In the big picture, Alabama’s situation is simple. The Tide will leap into the College Football Playoff’s top four on Tuesday night, and can win the SEC West with a defeat of Auburn two weeks from today.

Mississippi State’s situation is much murkier. With a non-conference schedule consisting of UAB, Southern Miss, South Alabama and Tennessee-Martin and SEC East cross-over opponents of Vanderbilt and Kentucky, the Bulldogs’ entire resume lies on the strength of the SEC West. Their best win is a 38-20 defeat of 8-2 Auburn, which admittedly looks great as of this writing, but the Bulldogs are essentially yoked to the Tigers. If Auburn finishes 10-2, Mississippi State will be fine – especially considering that 10th win would be over Alabama, presumably giving Mississippi State the SEC West title – but what if Auburn finishes 8-4? And what of LSU and Texas A&M? Both stand at 7-3 as of this writing with toss-up games ahead of them tonight and a date in College Station waiting on Thanksgiving night.

One thing is certain for Dan Mullen and his Bulldogs: Mississippi State fell from an undisputed No. 1 to the unenviable position of the most-contested one-loss team in rough-and-tumble race to the top four.

Iowa State QB Re-al Mitchell latest to enter name into transfer portal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The portal has claimed another name and Iowa State’s quarterback depth will suffer as a result.

Cyclones signal-caller Re-al Mitchell became the latest enter the NCAA Transfer Database this week and confirmed on social media that he was leaving Ames for another opportunity elsewhere.

The move is fairly unsurprising given that Mitchell arrived on campus in the same recruiting class as current starter Brock Purdy. With a pathway to significant playing time blocked by one of the best young QB’s in the sport, a ticket out of town seemed like it was coming sooner or later for the team’s No. 2 on the depth chart.

A dual-threat known for his speed, Mitchell was originally ranked as a three-star prospect coming out of high school who picked ISU over Arizona, Illinois, Kansas State, South Carolina and others. He wound up playing in six games under Matt Campbell over two seasons and threw for an even 100 yards and one touchdown.

A Southern California native, it’s possible a move back West could be in the cards for Mitchell. He appears to be insistent on playing under center but did see spot duty as a wide receiver during his stint in Ames.

Following the departure of Mitchell, Campbell will quite a bit of youth behind Purdy on the team’s depth chart. Freshman Aidan Bouman enrolled early for spring practice while fellow Class of 2020 QB and four-star recruit Hunter Dekkers will arrive later as they battle it out for backup reps. Iowa State opens the season at home against FCS South Dakota before heading to Kinnick Stadium to take on rival Iowa in Week 2.

Texas LB Ayodele Adeoye to miss spring practice with foot injury

Getty Images
Leave a comment

New Texas coordinator Chris Ash’s task at turning around the team’s defense got a tad bit harder on Saturday.

According to a release from the school, linebacker Ayodele Adeoye suffered a foot injury and will undergo surgery to correct it. While he is expected to be back in time for summer workouts, the upcoming trip under the knife will knock him out for all of spring practice in Austin.

Adeoye was a top recruit out of high school in 2018 but played in just four games and redshirted his first year on the Forty Acres. He turned into a regular starter (nine games) last season however and was fifth on the team in tackles (45) while recording an interception and 2.5 sacks.

With the redshirt sophomore out, the Longhorns depth this spring as they re-tool under Ash will certainly be tested. Fellow rising sophomore David Gbenda likely will take on an increased role based on the depth chart — though he might have to earn his way back after being sent home from UT’s Alamo Bowl win over Utah due to a violation of team rules.

Texas opens the 2020 season at home against USF and new head coach Jeff Scott before heading to Baton Rouge for a must-see game against reigning national champion LSU in Week 2.

Miami DL Scott Patchan enters transfer portal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The transfer portal has giveth for Miami football and it’s taken away.

Less than a week after Hurricanes got a big pickup in the form of Temple grad transfer DL Quincy Roche, the program learned that veteran defensive end Scott Patchan had entered his name into the transfer portal via an announcement on social media:

Patchan started six games last season and played in all 13 for Miami in 2019. He recorded 33 tackles and 2.5 sacks while in the lineup but ultimately took a back seat to star pass rusher Greg Rousseau and a host of others.

The loss of Patchan certainly hurts the depth head coach Manny Diaz has to play with but is by no means a killer given what will return in 2020 along the line. In addition to Rousseau (coming off a 15.5 sack campaign) and former AAC Defensive Player of the Year Roche, rising sophomore Jahfari Harvey saw action and former five-star Jaelan Phillips will be eligible after transferring from UCLA.

Patchan, who received a waiver from the NCAA for a sixth-year after injuries hampered his career, will be immediately eligible for his new school.

Miami opens the 2020 season with a game against Temple as part of a three-game homestand against Group of Five opponents before traveling to Michigan State for a big non-conference test.

Buyouts and Chip Kelly’s grocery bill lands UCLA with $18.9 million deficit in 2019

Getty Images
Leave a comment

A difficult year for UCLA on the football field was just as difficult on the balance sheet.

According to details obtained by the San Jose Mercury News, the Bruins reported a shocking $18.9 million deficit for the recent 2018-19 fiscal year. This was the result of $108.4 million in revenue and $127.3 million in outgoing expenses.

“A confluence of events over the past two years led us to this point,” AD Dan Guerrero said in a statement to the paper, “and while it is unusual for us, we expect this shortfall can be mitigated.

“The investments made into our football and men’s basketball programs will pay off, ticket sales will normalize and one-time expenses will be paid.”

Those investments included a nearly 30 percent increase in the football program’s funding since the hire of Chip Kelly in late 2017. While former head coach Jim Mora’s buyout (nearly $12.5 million) was recorded in the previous year’s budget, the effects of it naturally carried over and created an even tricker situation when basketball coach Steve Alford’s buyout was thrown in for 2019.

In addition to buyouts, the grocery bill seemed to play a pretty big factor in the deficit as well. While this doesn’t appear to just be the case of switching from Albertsons to Whole Foods, under Kelly the program’s budget for nutrition ballooned from just a shade under $1 million to nearly $5.4 million last year. Add in decreased ticket sales in football (down $3.5 million from projections) after a disappointing year and increased costs from other places in the department and you can see how UCLA quickly went from being in the black into the red.

Needless to say, that puts even more pressure on Kelly and company to help turn things around in 2020. Things in Westwood haven’t been rosy in some time in the major revenue-producing sports and it seems it’s finally caught up to the folks in powder blue.