Jeremy Maclin

Pinkel says freshman DT Terry Beckner Jr. could use a call from Jeremy Maclin

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After suffering a right knee injury against BYU this past weekend, freshman defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. will miss Missouri’s next game against Tennessee. Beckner had an MRI on Monday, and head coach Gary Pinkel says he will miss the next game, and perhaps more. Pinkel even suggested a phone call from former Tigers wide receiver Jeremy Maclin could come in handy.

“Depending on where this goes, J-Mac would be a really good phone call for him,” Pinkel said Monday, according to The Kansas City Star. Maclin tore an ACL in his right knee at Missouri during his freshman year. Maclin rebounded nicely, of course, and went on to be drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles. He currently plays for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Pinkel’s suggestion a phone call from Maclin might be comforting is a sign the injury to Beckner is a severe one, although the exact extent of the injury has not yet been reported or announced. Whatevere the more long-term future holds for Beckner, his absence will clearly be a tough one to overcome for the Tigers with two games to play. Beckner, a four-star recruit in Missouri’s Class of 2015, was a starter at nose guard for the Tigers. His spot in the starting line-up will be filled by Rickey Hatley, who was serving as a backup defensive tackle. Hatley has appeared in nine games this season and has recorded 18 tackles.

Missouri must win one of its final two game sin order to become bowl eligible. After hosting Tennessee this week, the Tigers wrap up the regular season on the road at Arkansas.

If the Eagles blow up in Chip Kelly’s face, college football is always a welcomed option

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On Tuesday there was plenty of buzz involving the Philadelphia Eagles and the decisions made by head coach and general manager Chip Kelly, former head coach of the Oregon Ducks. As someone who lives in the Philadelphia region, I can tell you the sports radio phone lines are melting as we speak after Kelly has successfully moved the franchise’s record-setting rusher (LeSean McCoy traded to Buffalo), allowed his top receiver to leave via free agency (Jeremy Maclin signed with Kansas City) and, most recently, traded starting quarterback Nick Foles to St. Louis in exchange for former Heisman Trophy winner and Oklahoma Sooner Sam Bradford after missing the entire 2014 season.

In a city that is already seeing the basketball team reconstruct the entire roster from the ground up, and replacing some of the freshly laid bricks in the process, the alert level involving the city’s top sports team is at a critical level right now. If Kelly’s master plan fails to play out as he may be envisioning, could Kelly be run out of town? That depends who you ask.

First and foremost, I believe Kelly has a plan in mind and it has only just started to unfold. At this stage, it is unfair to suggest Kelly is done making moves when free agency has just started and the NFL Draft has yet to run its course. I believe Kelly is making moves right now with a grand vision he is reluctant to share with the masses, but the pressure is starting to build for the Eagles and Kelly. Entering year three as a head coach in the NFL, Kelly has to start winning games and making postseason progress. Depending on what happens in the draft (Marcus Mariota still an option), we could potentially be seeing the abrupt end to the Chip Kelly NFL Experience. Kelly will quickly run out of excuses if things blow up this season. I am not a believer this will ultimately be the case, but if Kelly does get run out of town this year or next, then college would be the ideal landing spot.

If nothing else, the developments in Philadelphia will be something to keep an eye on for any major college football programs that could be taking a ride on the coaching carousel in 2015 or 2016. If the Eagles struggle, Kelly will still be a very attractive option for a college program and he would likely sign a new contract quickly if no longer employed in Philadelphia (assuming he doesn’t coach Temple or Penn or Villanova, of course).

As a college football fan, I would welcome the return of Kelly to my Saturday line-up. Would you?

Michigan State and the burden of expectations (for fans)

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Hopes are high in East Lansing this week, as well they should be. Michigan State is coming off a Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl victory, and in all likelihood would’ve played for the BCS Championship had 1) A few controversial pass interference penalties not been called against Notre Dame and 2) in the same game, had they not called a halfback pass that got picked off and led to Notre Dame scoring the go-ahead touchdown.

Those lofty expectations heading into 2014, though, will almost certainly lead to disappointment for the fanbase, writes the Lansing State Journal’s Graham Couch:

Life as an MSU football fan will probably never again be as satisfying as last season, for at least a generation.

That’s the harsh price of fulfilling dreams, for winning big and for joining the elite. There is little joy remaining in the small victories, and little room left to climb.

This stage in the Spartan program, as coach Mark Dantonio reiterated last week, is about “handling success.”

Try selling that T-shirt. Last year’s mantra, “Chase it,” had a far better ring.

MSU caught it. Now what?

I’ll relay my own experience with this: My freshman year at Mizzou was 2007, when the football team reached No. 1 in the country, Chase Daniel was a Heisman Trophy finalist and there were legitimate championship aspirations in Columbia. Mizzou returned Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, Chase Coffman, Sean Weatherspoon and a host of other talented players in 2008 and were a top-five team…before losing Oklahoma State at home. Mizzou went on to go 10-4 that year — a good season in Mizzou history, but one that felt incredibly disappointing given the preseason expectations.

Aiming low, though, is sort of a cheap defense mechanism. If you expect an 8-4 season and your team goes 10-2, the season feels better…but were you really excited about things in the first place? If your team went into a big game at, say 6-1, and you expect 8-4, you might not feel as crushingly disappointed by the loss as your fellow fans. Those gut-wrenching losses are as much a part of the fan experience as the big wins.

Couch makes some good points in his column and talked to some respected fan psychologists about expectations, and it’s certainly a compelling argument. But for a program like Michigan State, the opportunity to have championship/playoff expectations doesn’t come around very often, so take advantage of it while the opportunity’s there.

Because for all we know, the expectations for Sparty may go back to 9-3 or 8-4 in the near future.

Weekend Preview: Missouri to Atlanta and big games in the Pac 12

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It is time to start giving Missouri some respect. The Tigers have earned their keep in the SEC East and can look to take a giant step toward their first conference championship game since playing for the 2008 Big 12 championship. you should also pay close attention to what happens in the Pac 12 this weekend as well.

Missouri looks for ticket to Atlanta

Missouri can clinch the SEC East this weekend with a win over South Carolina. Of course, this will be easier said than done, but you probably thought the same about Missouri beating Georgia or Florida too. This Missouri team is a legitimate favorite in the division, even without quarterback James Franklin available at the moment. This weekend the Tigers will have to hope they can contain South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, coming off his best game of the season last weekend. Clowney and the Gamecocks were upset by Tennessee on the final play of the game while Missouri ended up blowing away Florida. Gary Pinkel has become one of the leading candidates for coach of the year honors but how he handles the situation this week with the eyes of the nation taking notice to what’s going on in Columbia, Missouri will be something to watch as expectations grow.

Even if Missouri does not wrap up the division this weekend, Missouri has Tennessee at home next week and a road game at Kentucky the next. The odds are still on the Tigers in the east but Missouri fans are starting to dream a little bigger as well for the first time since Chase Daniel was tossing touchdowns to Jeremy Maclin.

Big games in the Pac 12

Despite sitting third in the initial BCS standings, the popular belief is Oregon still has an excellent chance to play for a BCS title at the end of this season. This weekend Oregon hosts UCLA, with the Bruins falling short of proving they belong among the elite in the Pac 12. UCLA lost to Stanford last weekend but still has a shot at playing in the Pac 12 Championship. Now they get a huge chance to make up for it. If UCLA can upset Oregon, the BCS picture will either become more foggy or more clear, depending on your rooting interests perhaps. One thing that would be sure is that UCLA is in fact in the conversation when discussing the top threats out of the Pac 12. UCLA will need to play a perfect game though because Oregon is the second best team in the country.

There is another game well worth staying up for. Stanford, the nation’s top one-loss team according to the BCS standings, visits Oregon State. Let’s not sleep on the Beavers. Since losing the season opener to Eastern Washington, Oregon State has gone on a roll led by quarterback Sean Mannion, a player who could start to enter the Heisman conversation by Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. Mannion, the nation’s leading passer, would certainly start to gain some respect if he can lead Oregon State to a victory over Stanford. If there is one team that can really mess up the Pac 12, it is not UCLA or Arizona State. It is Oregon State.

How does Florida State follow up after last week?

Last weekend the Florida State Seminoles put together perhaps the best overall single game performance seen by any team this country. As a result of their huge win over Clemson, Florida State vaulted in to second place in the BCS standings and Jameis Winston jumped to the top of a number of Heisman polls. This team has answered every test set in front of them this season. Go on the road and win conference games? No problem. Put away a surprising Maryland team? You got it. Go in to Clemson and come away with a win? Piece of cake.

Like Missouri, the question about Florida State is now one that asks how they handle the expectations and spotlight? Oregon is sniffing down the necks of Florida State, so keeping the foot on the gas pedal is a requirement for the Noles. North Carolina State has a history of knocking off a high-and-mighty Florida State program over the course of the series (2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2012). This one of the demons Florida State will have to get by before setting their sights on a BCS championship run. Everybody has been talking about games against Miami and perhaps Virginia Tech, but it may be North Carolina State that can derail the whole train if Florida State is caught sleeping.

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Teams looking for bowl eligibility

Central Florida scored a big win last week with a road win at Louisville. The Golden Knights have the inside track on a BCS bid that goes with being the champion of the American, but a win will guarantee Central Florida a postseason spot. George O’Leary‘s becomes bowl eligible with a home win against Connecticut. There is one other team in the American that can clinch bowl eligibility as well, with Houston and Cincinnati each one win away. Houston, who plays at Rutgers, missed out on the postseason last year with a 5-7 record a year after Kevin Sumlin and Case Keenum guided Houston to a 13-1 season. Who else can become bowl eligible this weekend?

Maryland, Duke, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Minnesota, Rice, Tulane, Notre Dame, Bowling Green, Buffalo, UCLA, Texas A&M, and South Carolina can all become eligible for the postseason.

On the flip side, California, Temple, Connecticut, Idaho, Kent State, Akron, Massachusetts, Eastern Michigan, Air Force, Hawaii, and Southern Mississippi can all officially be eliminated from postseason contention with a loss. Southern Miss slugs in to the weekend riding an 18-game losing streak.

Manziel leads FWAA Freshman All-American Team

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A selection for the Football Writer’s Association of America All-American team, Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel has now done what only three* other players have done before: be selected for two FWAA All-American teams.

The FWAA released its Freshman All-American team Monday with the redshirt freshman leading the team.  Manziel has also been selected as an Associated Press All-American.

The SEC and Big Ten lead the group with four selections each while the Pac-12, ACC and Mountain West each have three. Fourteen of the selections are true freshman.

First-year Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was selected as the FWAA coach of the year for the team.

(*Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson, Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Missouri wide receiver/return specialist Jeremy Maclin have also been selected to both teams) 

fwaa freshman all-american team