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Iowa takes down Purdue, earns first B1G title game berth

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Mission One, accomplished.

Coming into today’s game against Purdue at snowy Kinnick Stadium, No. 5 Iowa need either a win or a Wisconsin loss to claim a spot in its first-ever conference championship game.  Not wanting to rely on somebody else to do their work for them, the Hawkeyes jumped out to a 20-0 lead early but, because of a second-quarter lapse, had to fend off the feisty Boilermakers before pulling away for a 40-20 win.

With the win, Iowa claimed at least a share of its division title since the Big Ten went to that format for the 2011 season and will represent the West in the league title game against the winner of the East.  That game, with potential opponents Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan, will also very likely serve as a play-in game for a berth in the College Football Playoff.

In what is fast becoming a historic season in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes are 11-0 for the first time in school history, just as they were 10-0 for the first time ever the week before.  The current 11-game winning streak ties for the longest in school history, and a significant reason behind that sustained success is the steady play of quarterback C.J. Beathard.

Saddled with the ofttimes-derisive tag of “game manager,” the junior has managed to win his first 12 starts, the first Hawkeye signal caller to accomplish that feat.  In the win over the Boilermakers, Beathard was his normal efficient self as he completed 60 percent of his 20 passes for 213 yards and three touchdowns.  Beathard didn’t throw an interception, the eighth game this season in which he’s been pick-less.  All told, Beathard has thrown just three interceptions in 267 attempts this season.

Purdue, though, actually outgained Iowa 403-387.  The Boilermakers, however, were doomed by, in part, converting just four of their 18 third downs.

The lone obstacle standing between Iowa and the first perfect regular season in school history is a road trip to Lincoln in Week 13 ta take on Nebraska.  The biggest question coming out of the game, aside from their kicker missing a pair of extra points, is how much, if at all, the playoff committee will hold their mid-game lapse against the Hawkeyes.  The guess here is not at all, but it’ll be something to watch for when the next set of rankings are released Tuesday.

Super Bowl starters offer (further) proof that stars matter

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Tom Brady was a sixth-round pick and is the most accomplished player in football history. Tony Romo was not drafted at all and became a franchise quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. JaMarcus RussellRyan Leaf and Akili Smith were taken first, second and third overall but busted.

Therefore, if given the hypothetical choice between a top-3 pick or an undrafted free agent, your favorite NFL team’s GM should just throw his hands up and say, “Eh, give me either. They’re both the same.” Right?

Of course not. That would be insane.

In the NFL, we can all understand that not all first-round picks pan out and some undrafted free agents become Pro Bowl caliber players, but somehow a sect of college football fans — though, admittedly, not as many as there were a decade or so ago — will tell you with a straight face that, “Stars don’t matter.”

Part of this is due to the simple nature of college football. In the NFL, a team’s talent is not necessarily a reflection on its head coach, but in college ball, the head coach has to also serve as his own GM and since the vast majority of coaches don’t sign 5-star talent, it becomes easy to convince yourself — and your fan base — that you’re better off with a team full of gritty 2-stars than a lazy 5-star, then point to Wes Welker as the type of guys you’re really after. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard, right?

Except any coach would take a 5-star over a 2-star on the whole, and that’s because 5-stars are really, really talented and really, really hard to come by. It’s easy to point to the 5-star busts because there’s a limited number each year (think of them like first-round draft picks) and the 2-star trend-buckers because not many of them become All-America level players. When seven out of 30 5-stars bust, it’s easy to focus on the seven and not the 23; when 20 out of 1,500 2-stars shine, it’s easy to focus on the 20 and not the 1,480.

But you’re a smart college football fan and already know this, right?

Let’s put some numbers behind these words. SB Nation crunched the numbers for the New England Patriots’ and Los Angeles Rams’ starting lineups and found that, yeah, it’s a lot easier to become an elite pro football player if you’re an elite high school football player. Eight of the Pats’ 22 starters were 4- or 5-star recruits, while half of the Rams’ starters were ranked similarly. That means 19 of the 44 starters next Sunday in Atlanta were blue-chip recruits.

Put in graphical terms, it looks like this.

If your team’s head coach was given a hypothetical choice between a gritty 2-star and an entitled 5-star, remind him it’s a lot easier to light a fire under a 5-star than to teach a 2-star to play like a 5-star.

Mississippi State signs DC Bob Shoop to contract extension, per reports

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One of the nation’s most respected defensive coordinators may be staying in Starkville for a few more years. Bob Shoop and Mississippi State have reportedly reached an agreement on a two-year contract extension that will run through the 2020 season, according to multiple reports Monday afternoon. Defensive line coach Brian Baker has also been signed to a two-year extension, providing some stability on the defensive side of the coaching staff at Mississippi State.

247 Sports was among the first to report the news of the contract extension, and Bruce Feldman of The Athletic followed up with a similar report via Twitter.

Shoop has been a mainstay within the SEC for a while now. After three seasons at Vanderbilt with former Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin, Shoop left for two seasons at Penn State when Franklin was hired by the Nittany Lions in 2014. Shoop returned to the SEC to be the defensive coordinator at Tennessee under former Vols head coach Butch Jones, but Shoop came to Mississippi State to be a part of the staff assembled by Joe Moorhead in 2018.

Mississippi State was the top-ranked defense for the 2018 season in allowing 263.1 yards per game and an average of just 4.13 yards per play. The Bulldogs were one of two teams to hold opponents to fewer than 3,500 yards of offense (3,420 yards) and the only team playing at least 12 games to do so (Southern Mississippi played just 11 games and allowed 3,062 yards of offense).

There will be some change son the Mississippi State coaching staff, however. Al.com reports Alabama is expected to sign running backs coach Charles Huff away from Mississippi State. Huff followed Moorhead to Mississippi State from Penn State.

Florida State recruiting account gets slammed on social media for MLK Jr. tweet

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Using holidays to tie into a piece of social media content has been the norm for years around college football and beyond. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is no exception. However, somebody behind the scenes of Florida State’s official recruiting account on Twitter may have benefitted from thinking twice about putting out a graphic to celebrate the holiday in honor of the great civil rights leader.

Basing a piece of art around Florida State’s “Do Something” motto and featuring an image of MLK Jr. could have been executed a bit better than the way it was on Monday. The official Twitter account for Florida State’s recruiting efforts slapped a wide receiver’s glove on the right hand of Martin Luther King Jr. in a way that made it look as though Dr. King was doing a tomahawk chop, the signature gesture for Florida State fans. A quote by Dr. King was printed below the FSU slogan.

the tweet was removed after approximately 45 minutes, but screencaps live forever.

As you might imagine, this tweet was not received particularly well as it began making the rounds on Twitter.

This is one of those ideas that must have sounded like a good idea at some point in the production process but should have been held to the drawing board in the brainstorming phase. How it was given a green light to proceed to the stage where the graphic is designed and then given the approval to be sent to Twitter is a bit mystifying. There is nothing inherently wrong with creating MLK-inspired graphics to share on a football Twitter account, but there are tasteful ways to go about it. This was not exactly one of those better designs. Since the tweet was removed, here’s hoping a lesson was learned not just by the Florida State social media team behind the graphic but others in and beyond the Florida State program paying attention to how it was received and handled.

Tennessee officially adds Georgia transfer Deangelo Gibbs

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It is not too often you see one school welcome a transfer player from another program within the same conference, and even more rare to see it within the same division. Tennessee did just that with the addition of Deangelo Gibbs on Monday.

Gibbs, a Georgia native, was officially added to the Tennessee program on Monday, the school announced, after spending the last two years at SEC East counterpart Georgia. Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt noted his knowledge and relationship with Gibbs dates back to recruiting him out of high school when Pruitt was a defensive coordinator at Georgia and later a defensive coordinator at Alabama.

“Deangelo is a guy that I knew, and our staff knew in recruiting when he was coming out of high school,” Pruitt said in a released statement. “He’s a guy that can play on either side of the ball. He’s very tough and has unique ball skills. He’s a very instinctive player, and he has size and speed. We are happy to have him at Tennessee.”

Gibbs played defensive back for Georgia, appearing in 13 games over the last two years. Pruitt noted the ability Gibbs has to play on either side of the football. It is unconfirmed which role Gibbs will have for Tennessee primarily or if utilizing his skills in multiple ways will be the plan.

Gibbs will have to wait until 2020 to get back on the field, however. NCAA transfer rules require Gibbs to sit out the 2019 season before being ruled eligible to play once again in 2020 as he is transferring from one FBS program to another.