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Mississippi State defense in control at Kansas State, Bulldogs lead 17-3 at half

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After serving his one-game suspension for a violation of team rules last week, quarterback Nick Fitzgerald made his 2018 season debut for Mississippi State this afternoon on the road against Kansas State. His first series of the year did not last very long, as the Bulldogs went three-and-out to open the game. Despite a tough first half of play, Fitzgerald and the Bulldogs do own a 17-3 lead on Kansas State at halftime in Manhattan, Kansas.

Mississippi State was able to open up a 14-point lead in the second quarter after the defense got an interception by Erroll Thompson, which led to a 28-yard touchdown run by Kylin Hill. Before that sequence, the game had been pretty close with defenses dictating the tempo of the game by not allowing many big-play opportunities.

Kansas State benefitted from the result of a controversial instant replay ruling. After appearing to have forced and recovered a fumble from Wildcats quarterback Skylar Thompson inside the red zone, officials ruled Thompson had enough control for a throwing motion and ruled the play an incomplete pass.

After being awarded possession of the football would tie the game with a 26-yard field goal by Blake Lynch.

Mississippi State appears to be in a comfortable spot with the way the defense is playing. Kansas State has 11 yards of total offense and has gone 2-of-7 on third down conversions. The Wildcats may not have the offense needed to come back so the Wildcats will have to make some big plays happen on defense to help out.

Your 2017-2018 college football bowl schedule

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The matchups have been set. The dates have been reserved. Here is your full bowl schedule and pairings for this bowl season, starting with the College Football Playoff. All times are Eastern.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF

Rose Bowl Game: No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Georgia
January 1, 2018, 5:00 p.m., ESPN

Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Alabama
January 1, 2018, 8:45 p.m., ESPN

CFB National Championship Game: TBD vs. TBD
January 8, 2018, 8:00 p.m., ESPN

NEW YEARS SIX

Goodyear Cotton Bowl: No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 8 USC
December 29, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: No. 9 Penn State vs. No. 11 Washington
December 30, 4:00 p.m., ESPN

Capital One Orange Bowl: No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Miami
December 30, 8:00 p.m., ESPN

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: No. 7 Auburn vs. No. 12 UCF
January 1, 2018, 12:30 p.m., ESPN

THE REST

DECEMBER 16, 2017

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Troy vs. North Texas
1:00 p.m., ESPN

AutoNation Cure Bowl: Georgia State vs. Western Kentucky
2:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network

Las Vegas Bowl: No. 25 Boise State vs. Oregon
3:30 p.m., ABC

Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Colorado State vs. Marshall
4:30 p.m., ESPN

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl: Arkansas State vs. Middle Tennessee
8:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 19, 2017

Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl: FAU vs. Akron
7:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 20, 2017

Frisco Bowl: SMU vs. Louisiana Tech
8:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 21, 2017

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl: Temple vs. FIU
8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

DECEMBER 22, 2017

Bahamas Bowl: Ohio vs. UAB
12:30 p.m., ESPN

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Wyoming vs. Central Michigan
4:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 23, 2017

Birmingham Bowl: USF vs. Texas Tech
12:00 p.m., ESPN

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: Army vs. San Diego State
3:30 p.m., ESPN

Dollar General Bowl: Appalachian State vs. Toledo
7:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 24, 2017

Hawai’i Bowl: Houston vs. Fresno State
8:30 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 26, 2017

Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl: Utah vs. West Virginia
1:30 p.m., ESPN

Quick Lane Bowl: Duke vs. Northern Illinois
5:15 p.m., ESPN

Cactus Bowl: UCLA vs. Kansas State
9:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 27, 2017

Walk On’s Independence Bowl: Florida State vs. Southern Mississippi
1:30 p.m., ESPN

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa vs. Boston College
5:15 p.m., ESPN

Foster Farms Bowl: Purdue vs. Arizona
8:30 p.m., FOX

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl: Missouri vs. Texas
9:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 28, 2017

Military Bowl: Navy vs. Virginia
1:30 p.m., ESPN

Camping World Bowl: No. 19 Oklahoma State vs. No. 22 Virginia Tech
5:15 p.m., ESPN

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl: No. 16 Michigan State vs. No. 18 Washington State
9:00 p.m., FS1

Valero Alamo Bowl: No. 13 TCU vs. No. 15 Stanford
9:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 29, 2017

Belk Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Wake Forest
1:00 p.m., ESPN

Hyundai Sun Bowl: No. 24 NC State vs. Arizona State
3:00 p.m., CBS

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: No. 21 Northwestern vs. Kentucky
4:30 p.m., ESPN

NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl: Utah State vs. New Mexico State
5:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network

DECEMBER 30, 2017

TaxSlayer Bowl: No. 23 Mississippi State vs. Louisville
12:00 p.m., ESPN

AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Memphis vs. Iowa State
12:30 p.m., ABC

JANUARY 1, 2018

Outback Bowl: Michigan vs. South Carolina
12:00 p.m., ESPN2

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl: No. 14 Notre Dame vs. No. 17 LSU
1:00 p.m., ABC

Mississippi State stuns No. 12 LSU for blowout win behind QB Nick Fitzgerald

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Ed Orgeron never won in Starkville when he coached up the road at Ole Miss. Despite leading 12th-ranked LSU in his second go-around in town on Saturday night, the win column remained blank for the Tigers’ head coach.

Mississippi State announced they will be a team to take seriously in the SEC race behind No. 1 Alabama with an emphatic and stunning 37-7 victory over their division rivals to set off the rings of cowbells that could be heard two states over.

Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald was not surprisingly the triggerman leading the way for the Bulldogs, using his legs to weave through a normally stout front and hitting big plays over the top right afterward. The — dare we say it? — budding Heisman dark horse finished the game with 180 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns while also finding the end zone twice on the ground with his 88 yards rushing. His running mate in the backfield was nearly as good in the win as tailback Aeris Williams ran for 146 yards and fought for every inch if he didn’t burst into the open field.

LSU’s biggest issue was the same ol’, same ol’. Their offense sputtered behind quarterback Danny Etling and managed just 270 yards all told. Tailback Derrius Guice finished with just 76 yards and was largely ignored in the second half. The Tigers defense was also to blame after starting off the season in impressive fashion during non-conference play. The biggest obstacle might have been themselves — two starters were ejected for targeting in the second half and a third along the very thin defensive line left the field with an injury. That’s one way a team gives up 6.5 yards per play and allows their unranked opponent to score five times in the red zone.

Head coach Dan Mullen has pulled off several remarkable victories during his time leading MSU and the latest to keep his opposite number winless in StarkVegas was certainly one of the sweetest. Is it enough to make the Bulldogs a serious threat with heavyweight Alabama in the SEC West? We’ll find out soon enough as their schedule doesn’t get any easier with a trip to Georgia up next. For tonight though, it was all about celebrating a win and clanking that cow bell.

Mississippi State clanga-ing to lead at halftime against No. 12 LSU

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Who is Alabama’s biggest challenger in the SEC West? After one half of play in Starkville, we’re a little closer to figuring out if either No. 12 LSU or Mississippi State are the answer but there remains plenty of time to sort things out in the first big division battle of the 2017 season.

As expected, the Tigers and the Bulldogs were locked into a bruising struggle that featured plenty of tough runs and hard hitting defense typical of this series lately, with the home team clanga-ing (sorry) to a 17-7 lead at halftime on Saturday night.

Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald had to fight and claw his way for every yard but still managed to go 8/13 for 84 yards in the first half, scoring both of MSU touchdowns on a pair of scampers to the end zone while racking up 44 yards on the ground. Running back Aeris Williams was the real surprise though, nearly hitting the century mark with 91 yards rushing and a lofty seven yard average per rush.

While things were going okay for the Bulldogs offense, the same could not be said for the Tigers. Danny Etling struggled to move the ball through the air (four completions, 34 yards) and didn’t free up much room at all for Heisman candidate Derrius Guice (66 yards rushing).

There were just five third downs converted in the entire half so you do get the impression that this will be another extremely close game that could come down to the wire with a few big plays being the deciding factor. Not exactly a surprise given the makeup of these two teams but it certainly could make for a fun final two quarters among the cow bells.

Doak Walker Award watch list highlighted by 2016 semifinalists Barkley and Pettway

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A watch list of the top running backs in the nation has been released by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum on Thursday. The Doak Walker Award watch list is full of great players, including 2016 Doak Walker Award semifinalists Saquon Barkley (Penn State) and Kamryn Pettway (Auburn).

Among those included on this year’s initial Doak Walker Award watch list (more players can be added at any time) are LSU’s Derrius Guice, Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, LJ Scott of Michigan State, Mike Weber of Ohio State, and Bo Scarbrough of Alabama, Washington’s Myles Gaskin, and Western Michigan’s Jarvion Franklin.

D’Onta Foreman of Texas beat out both Barkley and Pettway last season for the award. The Doak Walker Award has been presented to the nation’s top running back annually since 1990. Among the winners over the years have included Ricky Williams, LaDainian Tomlinson, Reggie Bush, and Montee Ball.

To be included on this watch list, the university athletic department must submit a nomination.

2017 Doak Walker Award Watch List

Josh Adams, Notre Dame
Ryquell Armstead, Temple
Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Alex Barnes, Kansas State
Jamauri Bogan, Western Michigan
D’Angelo Brewer, Tulsa
Nick Chubb, Georgia
Jordan Chunn, Troy
Justin Crawford, West Virginia
Damarea Crockett, Missouri
Rico Dowdle, South Carolina
D’Andre Ferby, WKU
Kendrick Foster, Illinois
Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan
Myles Gaskin, Washington
James Gilbert, Ball State
Derrius Guice, LSU
Damien Harris, Alabama
Kyle Hicks, TCU
Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
Jon Hilliman, Boston College
Justin Jackson, Northwestern
Chris James, Wisconsin
Ty Johnson, Maryland
Ronald Jones II, USC
Ray Lawry, Old Dominion
Phillip Lindsay, Colorado
Tonny Lindsey Jr., Utah State
Bryce Love, Stanford
Sony Michel, Georgia
Dedrick Mills, Georgia Tech
David Montgomery, Iowa State
Jamal Morrow, Washington State
Ryan Nall, Oregon State
Jacques Patrick, Florida State
Kamryn Pettway, Auburn
Demario Richard, Arizona State
Diocemy Saint Juste, Hawaii
Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
Jordan Scarlett, Florida
LJ Scott, Michigan State
Bradrick Shaw, Wisconsin
Armand Shyne, Utah
Justin Silmon, Kansas State
Ito Smith, Southern Miss
Rodney Smith, Minnesota
Benny Snell Jr., Kentucky
Terry Swanson, Toledo
Shaq Vann, Eastern Michigan
Akrum Wadley, Iowa
Mark Walton, Miami
Warren Wand, Arkansas State
Tre Watson, California
Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt
Mike Weber, Ohio State
Braeden West, SMU
Devwah Whaley, Arkansas
Aeris Williams, Mississippi State
Shaun Wilson, Duke
Marquis Young, Massachusetts