Dan Mullen signs a contract extension with Mississippi State

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All of the discussions regarding whether or not Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen will eventually leave Starkville to take another job at a different university should die down now.

After being linked to multiple openings over the past two years, Mullen signed an extension with Mississippi State Thursday through the 2018 season.

“Dan has done a phenomenal job in leading our football team the past six years, and we’re happy to be in a position to reward his efforts while making sure he’ll be able to continue building a championship program for Mississippi State,” Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin said in a statement.

“Under Dan’s guidance, Bulldog football has achieved a level of consistent success unparalleled in our history, during which time we’ve been ranked No. 1 in the nation and appeared in elite bowl games. We’re proud Dan is our coach.”

HailState.com’s Bob Carskadon provided some of the contract details:

With an average salary of $4.275 million, Mullen becomes the ninth-highest paid coach in college football. He still trails Alabama’s Nick Saban, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin and LSU’s Les Miles among SEC coaches, according to USA TODAY Sports.

Mullen shouldn’t be too concerned about where he stands in the SEC pecking order, though. It’s clear the school is committed to retaining its head coach after a 46-31 overall record — including last season’s 10-3 campaign — during his six seasons with the program.

“It’s a privilege to represent our university, our program and our fans here at Mississippi State,” Mullen said. “I appreciate Scott Stricklin and our administration who have given us the tools and resources to be successful and develop Bulldog football into a national brand over the last six years.”

“We spent five weeks ranked No. 1 last season for the first time, but we have only scratched this surface on what we can accomplish here. We have created a winning culture both on and off the field and built a program that has sustained success in the nation’s toughest conference. I’ve always said we are going to win a championship here, and I firmly believe that.”

Report: Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott will return for senior season

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The quarterback class for April’s NFL draft is considered relatively weak. Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott isn’t expected to take advantage of the situation, though.

The quarterback will hold a press conference 1:30 p.m. (CT) Wednesday, and he’s expected to announce his intention to remain in Starkville to lead the Bulldogs for another season, according to Yahoo Sports’ Rand Getlin and ESPN’s Joe Schad.

Prescott was considered an early favorite for the Heisman Trophy after leading the Bulldogs to their first No. 1 ranking in the school’s history. Mississippi State then faltered down the stretch was the Bulldogs lost three of its last four games.

As a junior, Prescott developed into one of college football’s top quarterbacks. The Bulldogs signal-caller completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. As a true dual-threat quarterback, Prescott also ran for 986 yards and 14 more touchdowns.

Prescott’s play helped elevate the Bulldogs program. Mississippi State finished second in the SEC with a 10-3 record. It was the school’s first 10-win season since 1998.

Anything can change between now and Prescott’s official announcement, but we’ll consider this one a victory for the program and head coach Dan Mullen.

Georgia Tech’s stock rises in Orange Bowl, while SEC’s reputation takes a hit

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The narrative during college football’s regular season was relatively straight forward. The SEC West was college football’s best and deepest division, while the ACC Coastal was one of the worst.

When the champions of the ACC Coastal met one of the top teams in the SEC West for the 80th edition of the Capital One Orange Bowl, the SEC West was left in the dust.

The No. 12 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets simply ran over the No. 7 Mississippi State Bulldogs. This is the same Bulldogs squad that was ranked No. 1 overall at the onset of the first College Football Playoff rankings.

Not only did Georgia Tech beat Mississippi State, Paul Johnson‘s squad embarrassed the Bulldogs as the Yellow Jackets ran for 452 yards on their way to a 49-34 victory.

With the impressive win, Georgia Tech, 11-3, will almost certainly finish the season ranked in the Top 10. At least Johnson emphatically believes so.

This will build momentum for the Yellow Jackets as they enter the offseason. It will also potentially grant the program a favorable rankings at the beginning of next season.

Johnson’s triple option and aggressive defense are very difficult to prepare for and play against. Mississippi State is merely the latest to find out just how hard it really is.

Meanwhile, the SEC is no longer the prettiest girl at the dance.

The new year couldn’t get here fast enough for the league after being bruised and bloodied during New Year’s Eve. Mississippi State and Ole Miss combined to lose their bowl games by a score of 91-37.

The rankings for SEC teams this season proved to be a mirage — at least among those teams that already played in bowl games.

The biggest change coming out of this year’s bowl games might not be the new College Football Playoff. Instead, the once pristine facade of the SEC appears to be cracking as other programs close the gap.

Mississippi State struggles with Georgia Tech’s option, trails 21-20 in Orange Bowl

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Just when an opponent thinks it figured out Paul Johnson‘s triple option scheme, Georgia Tech’s offense counters and attacks them in a different manner.

The No. 12 Yellow Jackets came out swinging against the No. 7 Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Bulldogs adjusted during the second quarter, but Georgia Tech threw a counter punch that allowed them to take a 21-20 lead into halftime of the 80th Capital One Orange Bowl.

After an early turnover, it didn’t take long for the Yellow Jackets to capitalize. Georgia Tech quickly drove the ball 36 yards with senior running back Synjyn Days opening the scoring with a three-yard touchdown run.

Before the first quarter ended, Johnson’s squad manufactured another scoring drive. This time, the Yellow Jacket stung the Bulldogs with a 41-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Justin Thomas to senior wide receiver Darren Waller.

Mississippi State adjusted in the second quarter after falling behind 14-0. A pair of field goals and a five-yard touchdown run from quarterback Dak Prescott brought the Bulldogs within one point.

However, Johnson unleashed his option quarterback and allowed Thomas to start pushing the ball down the field. The sophomore was 3-for-3 on the Yellow Jackets’ final drive before the quarterback scampered 13 yards for Georgia Tech’s third touchdown.

Overall, Georgia Tech gained 259 total yards. Mississippi State would no not be outdone, though.

A Hail Mary pass as the first half clock expired allowed the Bulldogs to again pull within one point going into halftime.

Punch. Counter punch.

Georgia Tech controlled the first half, yet Mississippi State wouldn’t go away. The Yellow Jackets will continue to adjust their offensive system on the fly. The Bulldogs will need to take advantage of their athleticism and overall talent to eventually overcome Georgia Tech’s superior scheme.

CFT Previews: Capital One Orange Bowl

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WHO: No. 7 Mississippi State (10-2) vs. No. 12 Georgia Tech (10-3)
WHAT: The 80th Capital One Orange Bowl
WHERE: Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Fla.
WHEN: 8:00 p.m. ET Dec. 31 on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Assignment football will be the name of the game when the No. 7 Mississippi State Bulldogs meet the No. 12 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the Capital One Orange Bowl.

The last time Mississippi State traveled to Miami to play in the Orange Bowl was 1941.  Head coach Allyn McKeen led his team onto the field against the Georgetown Hoyas 11 months before the United States experienced the attack at Pearl Harbor. The Mississippi State Maroons — as they were called at the time — won the contest 14-7.

Fast forward 73 years, and the Bulldogs will face another throwback offense in the Orange Bowl.

Georgia Tech’s triple option attack is the most difficult run game to stop among the Power Five conferences. The Yellow Jackets averaged 333.6 yards per game. That is nearly 30 more yards per game than the Wisconsin Badgers with Heisman finalist Melvin Gordon on the roster.

Playing an option offense is all about discipline. Each defender along the front seven has an assignment they must complete on each and every down. If one of those defenders fail, the Yellow Jackets will be able to exploit the crease that is inevitably created.

Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen isn’t just worried about the triple option. Justin Thomas isn’t a typical run-first quarterback in Paul Johnson‘s system.

“…he’s got guys in there that run the system very, very well,” Mullen said during his final meeting with the media Tuesday, via MississippiState.scout.com. “They have a play-making quarterback to me that’s dangerous, not just running the option, obviously, which is what he needs to be able to do, but also extending plays and making those outside-the-box plays when it all breaks down being able to make something else happen outside of the framework of the play, makes them a pretty difficult team to stop.”

The undersized signal-caller is a dynamic running threat, but he can also beat teams with his arm. Despite being an option quarterback, Thomas already threw for 17 touchdowns this season.

However, the Bulldogs have consistently won the battle in the trenches this season. Mississippi State owns one of the most talented and deepest defensive lines in college football. Linebacker Benardrick McKinney — all 6-5 and 245 pounds of him — will be roaming behind that front wall. Mississippi State has the size and athleticism up front to present plenty of problems even for Georgia Tech’s prolific rushing attack.

Meanwhile, quarterback Dak Prescott and the Bulldogs offense will face the nation’s 64th-ranked defense. Despite its ball control offense, Georgia Tech still surrenders nearly 400 yards per game. Prescott and running back Josh Robinson — both of which already ran for more than 900 yards this season — should be able pound the ball as well.

This is Georgia Tech’s seventh appearance in the Orange Bowl, but the Yellow Jackets last victory came in 1952. It’s unlikely that trend will change this year.

THE PREDICTION: Mississippi State 31, Georgia Tech 28