Sep 3, 2022; Pasadena, California, USA; Bowling Green Falcons quarterback Matt McDonald (3) runs the ball as UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Martin Andrus Jr. (44)  and linebacker Carl Jones Jr. (35) move in with tight end Andrew Bench (89) providing coverage during the second half at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State seeks bounce-back effort vs. Bowling Green

Mississippi State recorded a pair of impressive wins in its first two nonconference games.

The Bulldogs then a 31-16 loss at LSU in their Southeastern Conference opener last week. They will hope to get back on track when they host Bowling Green in a nonconference game on Saturday.

“We’ve identified plenty to improve on from the last game,” Mississippi State coach Mike Leach said. “We need to get a week better this week.”

The Bulldogs (2-1), who began the season by defeating Memphis 49-23 and Arizona 39-17, led LSU 13-0 before getting outscored 31-3 in the final 30:46.

They held the ball for an average of 39 minutes in the first two games but for just 27 against LSU. After averaging 30.5 first downs and 487 yards in the first two games, they had just 15 first downs and 289 yards against the Tigers.

“We’ve got to be consistent,” Leach said. “On all three sides of the ball we interrupted ourselves of being inconsistent.”

The Falcons (1-2) showed resiliency last week.

Coming off a 59-57 loss in seven overtimes against Eastern Kentucky, Bowling Green had to work overtime again vs. Marshall after overcoming two 14-point deficits. The Falcons needed just one extra period to prevail 34-31 against a Thundering Herd team that had just beaten Notre Dame on the road.

“There’s some tenaciousness, no quit in this team,” Falcons coach Scot Loeffler said. “It just shows you: Don’t listen to the noise, don’t worry about what emblem you have on your helmet.

“Anyone in college football can win. Every team that we play, you’re going to have the chance to win or lose the game, plain and simple.”

Bowling Green, which began the season with a 45-17 loss at UCLA, added five transfers to its roster in June.

“We came out with a lot of new transfers, anybody that knows football, that’s hard to do — get a team together that doesn’t have much chemistry in order to win,” senior wide receiver Odieu Hiliare said. “You got to build chemistry, valor, resilience, and we’ve been doing a great job.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach looks on during the first half against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State hopes to see where it stands in SEC, visits LSU

Mississippi State rolled through its nonconference schedule.

LSU bounced back from a disappointing start to overwhelm an outmanned opponent.

Now both teams will get a better idea of where they stand when the Bulldogs visit the Tigers in the SEC opener for both teams in Baton Rouge, La., on Saturday.

Mississippi State (2-0) cruised to a pair of wins to open its season, beating Memphis 49-23 and Arizona 39-17 while trailing for a total of just 7:30 between the two contests.

But it has had lulls, allowing Memphis to score 20 points in a span of four second-half possessions and turning the ball over three times when it had a chance to pull away from Arizona earlier than it did.

“Our answer to problems lately is to play hard,” Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach said. “Which I think is a good thing.”

Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers leads the nation in completions per game (38.5), is tied for second in passing touchdowns (nine) and third in average passing yards (381.5). He’s also brought a lot of variety to the offense, throwing touchdown passes to six different receivers.

Mississippi State and LSU are tied for second in the SEC in scoring (44.0 points per game), though the Tigers’ average is skewed by the 65 points they scored against FCS opponent Southern last Saturday.

LSU head coach Brian Kelly said “everything is heightened” this week because of the presence of an SEC opponent.

Jayden Daniels became the first quarterback in LSU history to pass for 200 yards and rush for 100 in a game that ends in regulation in the Tigers’ 24-23 loss to Florida State on Sept. 4. Last week he threw three touchdown passes and ran for another while playing just over a quarter in the blowout win.

“He has been efficient and there’s still growth that can happen there,” Kelly said. “His demeanor on the sideline is that he takes in info and moves on.”

LSU hopes its running game receives a boost from the return of starting running back John Emery, who hasn’t played since the end of the 2020 season because of academic issues.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs wide receiver Rara Thomas (0) runs the ball against Arizona Wildcats cornerback Isaiah Rutherford (2) during the first half at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi St. QB Will Rogers carves up Arizona in rout

Will Rogers passed for 313 yards and four touchdowns as Mississippi State overcame three turnovers to beat host Arizona 39-17 on Saturday night in Tucson, Ariz.

Mississippi State (2-0) twice stopped Arizona on fourth down in Bulldogs’ territory in the fourth quarter while protecting a 15-point lead. MSU sealed the victory with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Rogers to Caleb Ducking with 3:18 to go.

Arizona (1-1) struggled offensively. Quarterback Jayden de Laura completed 23 of 45 passes for 220 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions. The Wildcats rushed for only 40 yards, including Michael Wiley’s 34-yard scoring run on the game’s first drive.

Rogers was content to efficiently work the short passing game, completing 39 of 49 throws, with none going longer than 20 yards. He was intercepted once.

Mississippi State, which led 18-10 at halftime, marched 75 yards on the opening drive of the second half, capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass to Austin Williams.

After de Laura threw his second interception on the ensuing possession, Arizona got back in the game when Jaxen Turner stripped the ball from receiver Jamire Calvin, recovering it and returning it 47 yards to the 4. The Wildcats scored two plays later on a 2-yard pass to Jacob Cowing to make it 25-17 with 7:37 left in the third quarter.

Mississippi State turned momentum back in its favor late in the quarter. Tyrus Wheat deflected a pass at the line of the scrimmage that Nathaniel Watson intercepted and returned 51 yards to the Arizona 11.

The Bulldogs then gambled on fourth-and-3, with Rogers hitting Williams on a quick slant for a TD with 14:17 to go in the game.

Mississippi State scored touchdowns on its first two possessions, but Massimo Biscardi missed the PAT after both scores. Backup kicker Ben Raybon came on to hit a 39-yard field goal for a 15-7 lead late in the first quarter and connected from 22 yards with 33 seconds left before halftime to make it 18-10.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; Fresno, California, USA; Oregon State Beavers running back Deshaun Fenwick (5) runs the ball against the Fresno State Bulldogs in the first quarter at Valley Children's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon St. rallies to stun Fresno St. on final play

Jack Colletto ran two yards for a touchdown as time expired to give visiting Oregon State a 35-32 victory against Fresno State on Saturday night.

A pass interference penalty against Fresno State (1-1) gave the Beavers (2-0) first-and-goal from the 2 with three seconds left.

Jake Haener’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Erik Brooks had given the Bulldogs a 32-29 lead with 1:05 on the clock. Abraham Montano, who missed two field-goal attempts, failed to convert the point after.

Chance Nolan connected with Tre’Shaun Harrison on a 17-yard touchdown pass, then hit Silas Bolden with a pass to convert the 2-point conversion, to put Oregon State ahead 29-26 with 1:50 remaining.

Jordan Mims rushed 21 times for 122 yards and two touchdowns for the Mountain West’s Bulldogs. Haener completed 30 of 46 passes for 360 yards and the one TD.

Deshaun Fenwick rushed 19 times for 102 yards and a TD for the Beavers. Nolan was 14 of 27 for 219 yards and one TD.

Fresno State went up 26-21 when Montano kicked his fourth goal, a 37-yarder, with 10:31 remaining. He then missed a 52-yard try at 4:19.

Nolan’s 42-yard completion to Anthony Gould set up Fenwick’s four-yard TD run that pulled Oregon State within 23-21 at 4:04 of the third. The Beavers needed just five plays to move 77 yards.

Mims ran 11 yards for a touchdown that gave Fresno State a 23-14 advantage with 6:04 to go in the third quarter. The four-play, 80-yard drive included a 60-yard pass play between Haener and Josh Kelly.

The Bulldogs went ahead 16-14 on Montano’s 43-yard field goal with 10:21 remaining in the third quarter.

Touchdowns by Colletto and Bolden gave Oregon State a 14-13 lead after a first half in which Fresno State managed just two field goals in three trips to the red zone.

Bolden ran 36 yards on an end-around to hit the end zone 8:57 before halftime. Colletto took a direct snap and ran two yards for a touchdown at 5:39 of the opening quarter.

Mims scampered 42 yards for a score with 2:19 left in the first quarter.

Montano, who missed a 34-yard attempt earlier in the second quarter, nailed two field goals (21, 23 yards) for the Bulldogs later in the period.

The game was the teams’ first meeting since 2003.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach reacts after a play against the Memphis Tigers during the fourth quarter at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Leach faces familiar foe as Mississippi St. visits Arizona

Mike Leach returns to Pac-12 country when Mississippi State travels to play Arizona for the Wildcats’ home opener on Saturday night in Tucson, Ariz.

Leach spent eight seasons as the coach at Washington State before taking over the Bulldogs for the 2020 season. He went 4-2 against Arizona while with the Cougars, with his team scoring 69 points in two of those games.

Mississippi State (1-0) opened the season last Saturday with a 49-23 home victory in a lightning-delayed game against Memphis. Standout quarterback Will Rogers completed 38 of 49 passes for 450 yards and five touchdowns, all to different teammates. The Bulldogs rolled to 34 first downs.

Leach’s Air Raid offense will be a wildly different attack from what the Wildcats (1-0) saw last week in a surprising 38-20 victory against the host San Diego State Aztecs, whose modest passing game was held to 62 yards on 16 attempts.

“Mike Leach is always going to have very good passers,” Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch said. “There’s nothing really surprising in terms of the fact that he’s producing a 400-yard passer. That’s what he does.”

Arizona counters with Jayden de Laura, a Washington State transfer who committed to the Cougars while Leach was there. De Laura was excellent in his Arizona debut last week, completing 22 of 35 passes for 299 yards, with four touchdowns and one interception.

“He’s a very competitive guy and a good player,” Leach said. “He’s got quick feet. The ball comes off his hand quickly, and he’s accurate. He’s definitely a good player. He’s competitive, and he makes that side of the ball for them competitive.”

De Laura and UTEP transfer Jacob Cowing (eight catches, 152 yards, three TDs last week) sparked the offense against San Diego State and provided hope for a big 2022 turnaround. Last season, the Wildcats scored 20-plus points in a game only twice in a 1-11 season.

This is the first meeting between Arizona and Mississippi State. They are scheduled to play next season in Starkville, Miss.

–Field Level Media

Oregon head coach Dan Lanning leads practice Aug. 17, 2022, in Eugene Oregon.

Dan Lanning guides No. 11 Oregon vs. old friends at No. 3 Georgia

First-year Oregon coach Dan Lanning said he might wait until shortly before Saturday’s game to announce his starting quarterback for the No. 11 Ducks’ showdown against No. 3 Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta.

Perhaps it’s just a bit of gamesmanship between Lanning and his former boss, Georgia coach Kirby Smart. Lanning spent the previous four seasons on Smart’s staff — the past three as co-defensive coordinator — and helped the Bulldogs win the national title last season.

The Ducks are expected to start transfer Bo Nix, a three-year starter at Auburn, over redshirt freshman Ty Thompson at quarterback.

“That really doesn’t impact anything for us,” Smart said. “I know who the quarterback is going to be. I’m not worried about that. I’m worried a lot more about how our guys play and what our guys do and how our guys execute.”

Lanning acknowledged it’ll be a bit strange facing his former employer in his head coaching debut.

“There’s definitely some feelings of excitement for me to go play a team I care about and was a big part of for a long time,” Lanning said. “But that’s not the focus. My job, as well as the players’ job, is to focus on the task at hand.”

The Bulldogs lost a record 15 players from their championship team to the NFL draft — including five first-rounders from the defense that was led by co-coordinators Lanning and Glenn Schumann. They also had 13 players transfer.

Figuring that two heads are better than one, Smart has turned the defense — which allowed a modern-record 6.9 points per game in the regular season — over to Schumann and former South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp, who already was on the staff as the special teams coordinator.

On the other side of the ball, the Bulldogs again will be led by former walk-on Stetson Bennett, the offensive MVP of the 33-18 victory against Alabama in the national championship game last season.

“We’re on top of the world, but we’re going to see the world here in a few weeks,” Bennett told Sports Illustrated earlier this month. “Better be ready.”

The Ducks have had to cope with the offseason death of popular tight end Spencer Webb, who suffered a fall at a lake. Oregon players will wear a decal on their helmets with his No. 4 inside a spider’s web.

“Our team has a void. It’s something you cannot replace,” Lanning said. “I’ve talked to our players about that moment and Spencer, how on your tombstone there’s a day you were born and a day when you passed, but what made Spencer special was how he lived that dash in between those two numbers.”

Like the Bulldogs, Oregon has plenty of newcomers on its roster, as Lanning utilized the transfer portal to bring in Power 5 talent such as Nix and running back Mar’Keise Irving.

Lanning downplayed any advantage he might have of knowing Georgia’s defensive system — as well as the Smart vs. Lanning story line.

“Kirby Smart is not going to play a single snap on Saturday, and neither is Dan Lanning,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter what I know. It’s what my players know and how well they can execute.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 3, 2020; Athens, Georgia, USA;  A general view of the stadium prior to the game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Auburn Tigers at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

2023 S Joenel Aguero commits to Georgia

Joenel Aguero, a top safety in the Class of 2023, announced Saturday he will play his college football at Georgia.

The Massachusetts native is the No. 3-ranked safety and No. 34 overall player in the class, per the 247Sports composite.

The 6-foot Aguero made official visits last month to Georgia, Miami and Florida, but he still has a big official visit on his calendar: late November at Ohio State for the Michigan game.

Aguero played his junior season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., but he is returning to St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Mass. — where he started his career — for his final season.

The defending national champion Bulldogs showed him how much he was wanted, Aguero told On3.

“I’ve been a priority. To be honest, I already knew that,” he said. “From the head coach all the way down to the equipment manager, it’s everybody just showing me love. It just felt right to be honest.

“The players even told me like, ‘Listen, you’re a priority to these coaches. They wanted to get you. … They want you.’ And then, I’ve just seen the way they treat. When I come down there, they show all love. It’s all love from everybody.”

With his commitment, Georgia moved to No. 3 in the 247Sports ranking for best 2023 class, trailing Ohio State and Notre Dame.

–Field Level Media

Georgia coach Kirby Smart speaks with the media on the first day of spring practice in Athens, Ga., on Tuesday, March 15, 2022.

News Joshua L Jones

Georgia coach Kirby Smith nearly resigned 13 months ago

Georgia coach Kirby Smart said he nearly resigned 13 months ago due to the challenges of finding a healthy work/life balance.

Speaking Tuesday at the Texas High School Coaches Association convention in San Antonio, Smart said the non-stop recruiting workload during the COVID-19 pandemic pushed him to the brink.

“I told the staff, ‘We’re going to take every Monday off, because we’re working every Friday, Saturday, Sunday,’” Smart said. “So last June — the coming out of COVID June — I was ready to step down and resign. I was done. I was done.”

Seven months later, Georgia beat Alabama 33-18 in the College Football Playoff title game for the Bulldogs’ first national title since the 1980 season.

Smart, 46, revealed how close he came to offering his resignation after being asked if a healthy work/life balance even exists in college football.

“No,” Smart said, according to The Athletic. “I have tried hard to take the calendar — and I take my staff, my most tenured coaches, whether it’s Dell McGee, Glenn Schumann — and I say, ‘Hey guys, I want y’all to come work together, to look at this calendar for the coaches, the work schedule and I want you to give me some ideas of where we can steal some time (off). First off, familiars are always welcome at our office, they can come to our practices. I got coaches’ kids who come out to the practice and do the drills with the coach because I’m like, ‘You won’t get to be around your son otherwise.’

“So if he wants to come to practice, he can come to practice any time he wants. He can be a part of anything as long as he’s not in the way or a distraction. I want our families, I want our wives to bring their kids out there at the end of practice. Because our players need to see that.”

Smart said college football is losing good coaches to the NFL because they can spend a lot more time off with their families.

–Field Level Media

Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach looks on during the final minute of the game as Auburn Tigers take on Mississippi State Bulldogs at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. Mississippi State Bulldogs defeated Auburn Tigers 43-34.

Reports: Mississippi State extends Mike Leach through 2025

Mississippi State and its head football coach, Mike Leach, agreed to a two-year contract extension on Tuesday according to multiple reports.

The extension reportedly will keep Leach in Starkville, Miss. through the 2025 season and raise his annual salary to $5.5 million.

Leach, 61, is entering his third season at the helm of the Bulldogs. They went 4-7 in his first season — the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign — and 7-6 last season. In both seasons, Mississippi State went to bowl games, winning the Armed Forces Bowl in 2020 and losing the Liberty Bowl in 2021.

Mississippi State is the third stop for Leach as a head coach. He won 84 games — and never had a losing season — in 10 years at Texas Tech. After a few years away from coaching, he was hired at Washington State in 2012 and went 55-47 in eight seasons, guiding the Cougars to a 2-4 record in bowl games.

Leach was an understudy of Hal Mumme and helped popularize his pass-heavy “Air Raid” offensive attack.

Will Rogers returns as the Bulldogs quarterback this season after finishing second in the SEC in passing yards (4,739) and passing touchdowns (36) last year.

Mississippi State opens its 2022 season at home against Memphis on Sept. 3.

–Field Level Media

Georgia football linebacker Adam Anderson attends his bond hearing regarding his felony rape charge at the Athens-Clarke County courthouse on Wednesday, Nov. 17. 2021.

News Kayla Renie

Ex-Georgia LB Adam Anderson indicted on rape charge

A grand jury indicted former Georgia linebacker Adam Anderson on Tuesday and charged him with rape.

Anderson will be arraigned June 13. His lawyer said in a statement given to ESPN that he plans to plead not guilty.

The senior from Rome, Ga., was arrested on Nov. 10 and released on bond a week later after being accused of raping a 21-year-old woman in a house in Athens, Ga., on Oct. 29.

According to the police report, a 21-year-old woman went to a house in the early morning hours of Oct. 29, had some drinks and later awoke to find Anderson raping her. She reported the alleged incident to police later that day, the same day Anderson and the Bulldogs left Athens to head to Jacksonville, Fla., where they played Florida on Oct. 30.

Anderson played against the Gators, but the team suspended him the following week once the allegations came to light.

ESPN reported that a second woman also accused Anderson of sexual assault in October 2020, but he hasn’t been charged in that case.

Prior to the allegation, Anderson was viewed as a potential first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft by ESPN and CBS Sports.

–Field Level Media