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No. 5 LSU handles No. 22 Mississippi State, advances to showdown vs. No. 1 Alabama

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LSU came into Saturday knowing if No. 22 Mississippi State was going to beat them, Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald would have to do it by himself.

Fitzgerald managed to run the ball 23 times for 131 hard, effective yards, but the Bulldogs’ passing game was simply atrocious. He finished 8-of-24 for 59 yards with four interceptions, allowing No. 5 LSU to coax out just enough offense for a 19-3 win in Baton Rouge.

The first of Fitzgerald’s two picks proved to be the backbreaker. On his second pass of the day, Fitzgerald hit LSU’s Michael Divinity, Jr., who returned the ball 30 yards to the Mississippi State 3. Nick Brossette punched in a 1-yard rush on 3rd-and-goal to put the Tigers up 7-0.

Mississippi State answered with a 73-yard drive, but Fitzgerald’s 3rd-and-one plunge from the 2 was stuffed, forcing a 19-yard Jace Christmann field goal.

The Tigers’ next seven possessions covered 22 yards in 15 plays, ending in six three-and-outs and one interception, but it didn’t matter. Mississippi State (4-3, 1-3 SEC) could not puncture the scoreboard again, and a 38-yard Cole Tracy field goal pushed the lead to 10-3 at the break.

That theme continued in the second half, as Tracy added second half field goals of 38, 29 and 40 yards.

Joe Burrow finished 16-of-28 for 129 yards with an interception, while the Tigers’ ground game mustered 111 yards on 43 carries.

While it was enough for LSU (7-1, 4-1 SEC) to beat this week’s opponent, it won’t be enough to beat the next. After a mutual bye week, LSU next takes the field against No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 3 in Baton Rouge. 

And a major development in that game occurred at the end of this one. LSU linebacker Devin White was ejected in the fourth quarter for a targeting hit on Fitzgerald, meaning the Bayou Bengals will be without their best defensive player for the first half against Alabama.

USC transfer QB Jack Sears backing off commitment to San Diego State

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It appears one USC football transfer will still be searching for a new home.

After finding himself fourth on the USC football quarterbacking depth chart, Sears announced on his personal Twitter account in late August that he had decided to enter the NCAA transfer database.  A little over three months later, and after a flirtation with Oregon State, Sears landed at San Diego State.  In fact, he signed a grant-in-aid with the Mountain West Conference school.

Over the weekend, and a couple of weeks after a head-coaching change at SDSU, however, it’s now being reported that Sears is no longer going to attend the school.  However, 247Sports.com reports that the Aztecs are still in play for the transfer.

Per our sources, 247Sports has learned that Sears is “very comfortable” with Hoke as head coach and has no issues in the slightest about that decision. However, with the coaching turnover on staff and no offensive coordinator, quarterback coach, or defensive coordinator on staff at this time, Sears has decided to take a step back regarding his final decision and wants to keep an open mind. We’ve learned that he will not be enrolling early at the school for the spring semester. That said, San Diego State remains absolutely in play, but he wants to keep an open mind to make sure this next and final decision is the right one.

As a graduate transfer, Sears will be eligible to play for any FBS school in 2020.  He would also have another season of eligibility he could use in 2021 as well.

Sears was a four-star member of the Trojans’ 2017 recruiting class, rated as the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the country.  After redshirting as a true freshman, Sears completed 20-of-28 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown the following season.

Obviously, Sears didn’t attempt a pass this past season.

On three-year contract, Bo Pelini to make $2.3 million annually as LSU’s DC

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Not surprisingly, Bo Pelini will be paid handsomely for returning to LSU.

After a few days worth of speculation, it was reported earlier Monday that all signs were pointing to a Pelini reunion down on the bayou.  A few hours later, after Youngstown State announced it was losing its head football coach, it was confirmed that Bo Pelini is the new defensive coordinator at LSU.

Pelini replaces Aranda, who left earlier this month to take the head job at Baylor.

“We are privileged to have one of the top defensive coordinators in all of football in Bo Pelini join our staff,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement. “Bo has had some of the best defenses in football during his career and we are looking forward to him bringing his tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise back to LSU to continue to win championships.”

From 2005-07, Pelini served as the Tigers’ coordinator.  He went on to spend seven seasons as the head coach at Nebraska.  The past five seasons, he was the head coach at FCS Youngstown State.

According to reports out of the area, Pelini has agreed to a three-year deal that will pay him $2.3 million annually.  The man he replaced, Aranda, was the highest-paid assistant in college football at $2.5 million this past season.

At Youngstown State, Pelini was paid less than $400,000 in 2019.  Of course, there were also the millions paid to Pelini by the Cornhuskers as part of his buyout, so it’s not like he was forced to eat Hydrox instead of Oreos the past few years.

“The opportunity to return to LSU is truly unique,” Pelini said. “Culturally, with my prior experience at LSU, I know it is a great fit for me. The chance to work with Coach Orgeron, the ability to take charge of the Tigers defense, is something that I’m extremely excited about. All of that in a place that both my family and I immensely enjoyed when we were there before is very exciting for us. We are very honored and looking forward to this next chapter.”

Maryland QB Max Bortenschlager hits transfer portal

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Add another Big Ten quarterback to the NCAA transfer portal. Maryland quarterback Max Bortenschlager has placed his name in the transfer portal, according to a report form 247 Sports.

Bortenschlanger will be a graduate transfer, which means he will be eligible to play for any FBS team this fall. For Bortenschlager, a chance to play quarterback one final year could be at play. The graduating senior previously started for Maryland at quarterback in 2017 but was moved to special teams in 2018. Last season saw injuries interfere with Bortenschlager’s ability to get on the field.

Maryland’s quarterback situation should look similar to how it looked last season. Josh Jackson was named the starter after transferring from Virginia Tech. Jackson passed for 1,274 yards and 12 touchdowns with six interceptions in 10 games. Tyrell Pigrome contributed as well with 719 passing yards and three touchdowns and 153 rushing yards with two touchdowns. Jackson and Piugrome each have one year of eligibility remaining.

After being medically cleared, Alabama’s Nigel Knott enters transfer portal

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Alabama defensive back Nigel Knott will finish his college football career with a new school. Knott, who was medically disqualified for the 2019 season, announced on his Twitter account on Monday he will enter the transfer portal and look to play his final year of eligibility somewhere else.

“I am blessed to have played football for the University of Alabama,” Knott said on his Twitter account on Monday morning. “I have decided to enter the transfer portal.”

Knott confirmed in a follow-up tweet that he is still enrolled at Alabama and on scholarship. The plan appears to be to obtain his degree from Alabama this spring and move on as a graduate transfer. Doing so would make Knott eligible to play for any other FBS program in the fall.

Knott was medically disqualified to play for Alabama in the 2019 season, but he has since been cleared to play. Knott rejoiced at the news on Dec. 30, 2019.