Complete SEC preview for the 2018 season.

After winning its fifth title in nine seasons last year, Alabama is primed for another run at the national championship and SEC title in 2018. The Crimson Tide are the pick in 2018 SEC predictions to edge Auburn and win the West Division and knock off Georgia in the conference title game to claim the league championship. The Bulldogs are also primed for another run into the CFB Playoff. Coach Kirby Smart continues to add elite talent on the recruiting trail, and there’s a strong foundation to build off the 2017 season. Auburn is Alabama’s biggest challenger in the West, followed by Mississippi State and Texas A&M. The race to finish second in the East is wide open. Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky or Missouri are next up, with Tennessee and Vanderbilt projected at the bottom of the division.

Florida

Offensive coordinator Dan Mullen embraces the incredible expectations that drove his former boss, Urban Meyer, to retire for a season and cost Will Muschamp and McElwain their jobs at Florida. Mullen’s ability to develop quarterbacks is critical given the long-standing issues under center. He and his staff must prove to be strong recruiters to rebuild Florida’s talent level and depth after four straight classes outside the top 10. The 46-year-old will benefit from a favorable schedule. Doubling last season’s total of four wins is within reach.

Georgia

Georgia doesn’t have the experience coming back that it did last year, but it may have as much talent. It’s just younger and inexperienced talent, and that does matter, and would be a reason not to expect another CFB Playoff run. Then again, the schedule is far from daunting. Georgia has to go to LSU, and September games at South Carolina and Missouri could be troublesome. Auburn visits Athens.

Georgia should be a heavy favorite to repeat as SEC East champion. Everything else probably depends on how quickly the defense reloads.

Kentucky

If Kentucky can find a competent quarterback, there is enough experienced talent at the other positions to envision the Wildcats breaking through the seven-win plateau for the first time in the coach Mark Stoops era. If not, the Wildcats could be in danger of taking a step back by either falling to a lesser bowl than the last two seasons or missing postseason play altogether.

Missouri

There’s just enough turnover to give one pause, but most of the reasons for last year’s second-half surge return. That suggests a pretty high floor in a division that features quite a few teams that bottomed out in 2017.

South Carolina

If a Will Muschamp-coached team is ever going to get the offense going, this would seem the year with QB Jake Bentley and WR Deebo Samuel in the fold. The defense has personnel question marks, but Muschamp and 3rd year defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson have earned the benefit of the doubt on that side of the ball.

With Florida and Tennessee in transition thanks to coaching changes, South Carolina can realistically enter the season with its eye on second place in the SEC East, the same spot it claimed a year ago. It’s probably a bit much to expect the Gamecocks to compete with defending conference champion Georgia, but South Carolina gets the Bulldogs in the second game of the season at home, so there’s always hope.

Tennessee

Tennessee doesn’t have much margin for error, particularly with a challenging schedule that opens with offensive juggernaut West Virginia. The Vols plan to be efficient with a low-risk offense, mindful of turnovers while featuring aggressive blitz packages and coverage schemes. New coach Jeremy Pruitt hopes that recipe is good enough to produce (at least) six wins in Year 1.

Vanderbilt

The overall win total dropped by only one game from 2016 to 2017, but a deeper dive into the numbers reveals that the Commodores took a significant step back in coach Derek Mason’s fourth season. To get his team back into the bowl picture — and to stay off the hot seat — Mason will need to solve the Commodores’ defensive issues. Even if QB Kyle Shurmur and the offense continue to progress — a realistic proposition with an improved offensive line and the addition of Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the backfield — Vanderbilt will struggle to stay out of the SEC East cellar if the defense is allowing 40-plus points in league games.

Alabama

There was a different feel to Alabama’s most recent national title. For one thing, the Tide had to overcome a bewildering rash of injuries and a November loss to Auburn. There also were the emotional swings of the title game, topped off by the iconic second-and-26 walk-off winner.

The end result was the same, though — a fifth national title in the past nine seasons — and the expectations remain, thanks to many of the players who were involved in the crucial moments of that wild night in Atlanta. Alabama will begin the season ranked No. 1 in the nation. And there’s a good chance the Tide will end the season in that spot as well.

Arkansas

It would be unreasonable to believe the Razorbacks could go from 1-7 in conference play to a contender in the SEC West in the course of one offseason. Quarterback play will likely go a long way in determining whether the offense builds up steam in coach Chad Morris’ debut. And the defense — which gave up a staggering 7.1 yards per play in SEC games — needs major help at all three levels. The debut of Morris should provide some splash and dash, but the Razorbacks need a further injection of speed and depth across the board to make a significant move in the brutal SEC West.

Auburn

Gus Malzahn faces some lofty expectations. The Tigers’ sixth-year head coach just signed a seven-year contract extension for $49 million, with $36.75 million guaranteed, after a 10–4 season in which he won the SEC West and defeated both National Championship Game participants (Alabama and Georgia). Now, though, many fans will define an Auburn season as a success or failure based on whether it defeats those two rivals, and the Tigers must do so on the road in 2018. Good luck, Gus.

LSU

LSU’s schedule isn’t conducive to finding a path back into the SEC’s upper echelon. The Tigers will face two teams that played in the College Football Playoff (Alabama and Georgia) and two teams that played in New Year’s Six bowls (Auburn and Miami). Add games at home with Mississippi State and at Texas A&M, and it’s difficult to picture the Tigers being able to challenge for SEC West supremacy. The key for coach Ed Orgeron is not to slip so far that he’s facing a must-win-big scenario in 2019 to keep his job.

Mississippi State

When Dan Mullen left Mississippi State after nine seasons to return to Florida, the school elected to go outside of the SEC and hire Joe Moorhead as coach. There’s some risk there (mostly related to recruiting), but the hire was hailed by outside observers, and 2018 could prove why immediately.  Mississippi State lost very little of consequence from its 2017 team, and despite a fairly challenging schedule, there’s reason for optimism in Starkville. Eight wins are expected, and some believe that this could be a 10-win team with the right breaks.

Ole Miss

Coach Matt Luke led the Rebels to a 6-6 mark in a tumultuous 2017 that included the cloud of the NCAA investigation hovering above. His candidacy for the full-time job was not looking strong until the Rebels won three of their last four games, including a 31-28 upset at No. 16 Mississippi State.

Barring a reprieve, Ole Miss is banned from a bowl game for the second straight season. The Rebels have enough firepower on offense to pose some serious problems, but they will need to show significant improvement on defense — most notably against the run — to reach the six-win mark again.

Texas A&M

Weary from four consecutive seasons with eight wins or fewer, A&M pulled off a major coup and lured Coach Jimbo Fisher to College Station. The Aggies have bet $75 million over 10 years that Fisher can duplicate the success he had at Florida State, where he won the 2013 national championship. Fisher inherits 15 returning starters and some top-flight talent. But the Aggies have lacked the physicality and depth to compete for championships in the rugged SEC. If significant strides are made in those areas, A&M could make a run at exceeding the eight-win plateau. Competing immediately for an SEC championship may be asking for too much too soon.

Download the FanPicks Fantasy App. Click on the links below.

Posted in CFB

Giants versus Redskins

The Washington Redskins have only four days to pick themselves up after a late collapse and a crushing defeat that dealt a jarring blow to their postseason hopes. Losers of two in a row and four of their last five, Washington faces what basically amounts to a must-win scenario when it hosts the New York Giants on Thanksgiving night. The Giants versus Redskins will be broadcast at 8:30 pm on NBC. Play this game as part of Thanksgiving GoW cross sports contest starting at 7:30pm ET.

>>>Click Here to Enter Contest<<<

The Redskins blew a 15-point lead in the final six minutes of an eventual 34-31 overtime loss to New Orleans and dropped to 11th place in the NFC — two games out of the final playoff slot. New York has been relegated to spoiler since opening the season with five consecutive losses, but it halted a three-game skid with a 12-9 overtime victory over AFC West-leading Kansas City on Sunday.

ABOUT THE GIANTS (2-8)

New York put forth a strong defensive effort, limiting Kansas City to three field goals after surrendering a staggering 106 points during its three-game slide. The Giants won despite Eli Manning completing 54.3 percent of his passes and throwing for only 205 yards while failing to toss a touchdown pass for the first time since the season opener. Running back Orleans Darkwa rushed for at least 70 yards for the third consecutive week and added a touchdown on 20 carries, but none of the team’s receivers had more than three catches on Sunday. Safety Landon Collins led to strong defensive effort by intercepting a pass and recording a career-best 14 tackles.

ABOUT THE REDSKINS (4-6)

Washington wasted a superb effort by Kirk Cousins, who threw for 322 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions against the Saints. Cousins will be without some of his best weapons as Chris Thompson, who leads the team in touchdowns, rushing and receptions, was lost for the season after suffering a broken fibula on Sunday. Wideout Terrelle Pryor was placed on injured reserve, tight end Jordan Reed remains a question mark and the offensive line could be without three starters and the top two centers. Rookie Samaje Perine ran for a season-high 117 yards, but the defense has allowed at least 33 points in the past four losses.

Ole Miss versus Mississippi State

Although Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald had already emerged as one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country well prior to last season’s Egg Bowl, his record-breaking rushing performance in that contest pretty much cemented that label. The dangerous junior signal-caller looks to maintain the 17th-ranked Bulldogs’ recent dominance in their Thanksgiving Day rivalry game with Ole Miss when they host the Rebels. Ole Miss versus Mississippi State will be broadcast at 7:30 pm on ESPN. Play this game as part of Thanksgiving GoW cross sports contest starting at 7:30pm ET.

>>>Click Here to Enter Contest<<<

Fitzgerald accounted for 367 total yards – including a school-record 258 yards on the ground – and five total touchdowns (two rushing) in last year’s 55-20 thrashing of Ole Miss, allowing Mississippi State to avenge a defeat in 2015 and take home the Golden Egg Trophy for the fifth time in eight tries under coach Dan Mullen. The Bulldogs reached the eight-win mark for the fifth time under Mullen following last weekend’s 28-21 thrilling victory at Arkansas, getting two touchdown passes from Fitzgerald over the final 3:57 to pull it out. Win or lose, the Rebels will be playing their final game of the season as a result of a self-imposed postseason ban, which came in February after the NCAA found the program committed multiple violations under former coach Hugh Freeze. Ole Miss guaranteed itself its second straight non-winning season after losing at home to Texas A&M 31-24 over the weekend.

ABOUT OLE MISS (5-6, 2-5 SEC)

A.J. Brown finished with seven catches for 70 yards and a touchdown against the Aggies; the 6-2, 225-pound sophomore wideout leads the conference in receptions (69), receiving yards (1,085) and receiving TDs (10). Senior running back Jordan Wilkins, who rushed for a season-high 147 yards on a career-high 19 carries last weekend and is averaging 108.2 yards on the ground over his last four outings, is 99 yards shy of becoming the Rebels’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Dexter McCluster in 2009. Gary Wunderlich is on the verge of breaking multiple school records, needing one more field goal, two more points and one more successful point-after try to break Jonathan Nichols’ career marks in each category.

ABOUT MISSISSIPPI STATE (8-3, 4-3)

Fitzgerald extended his own SEC record for 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback to 14 after rushing for 101 against the Razorbacks and needs only 52 more yards to move past ex-Bulldog Dak Prescott (2,521) and into third place on the conference’s all-time rushing list from a quarterback. Since totaling 73 yards on the ground in back-to-back losses to Georgia and Auburn at the end of September, Aeris Williams is averaging 89.2 yards rushing over his last six outings and needs 56 more to reach 1,000 for the season. Despite giving up two sacks versus Arkansas, the Bulldogs have allowed a league-low eight – tied for the fourth-best mark in the country.

Happy Thanksgiving

Download the FanPicks Fantasy App. Click on the links below.

 

Posted in CFB, NFL

NCAA Football 2017-18 Season

SEC West Preview

The SEC West division’s Crimson Tide are once again the preseason favorite to win it all , with LSU and Auburn returning enough talent to rank as top 10-15 teams. Outside of the top contenders, Mississippi State and Arkansas headline some of the dark horse teams to watch in 2017.  Get ready for college fantasy football at FanPicks.com

LSU Tigers

New LSU coach Ed Orgeron retained defensive coordinator Dave Aranda (now the highest-paid college assistant coach at $1.8 million per year) and hired Matt Canada as offensive coordinator to break LSU out of its predictable offensive patterns. Talent always abounds at LSU, although there’s still work to do to catch up with Alabama in the trenches.

A tough schedule awaits — the Tigers have only three SEC home games — so a 10–2 record would probably be the ceiling, which is not a bad goal in the Tigers’ first full year under Coach O.

Auburn Tigers

Auburn was in the College Football Playoff mix well into November last season before injuries took their toll. The core of that offense is back, along with seven of 11 starters on defense. The addition of QB Jarrett Stidham and presence of a new voice in offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey should propel the Tigers into that same conversation in 2017. If they’re not, athletics director Jay Jacobs will have some tough decisions to make after the season. This Tigers team is too loaded to be an afterthought on the national level.

Alabama Crimson Tide

This figures to be a classic Nick Saban team. The offense will be rooted in its ability to run the ball with a deep group of backs and a dangerous quarterback in Jalen Hurts. How Alabama rebuilds the front seven will say a lot about the effectiveness of a defense hit especially hard by graduation.

The opening weekend should be tremendous — a matchup with Florida State in Atlanta’s new dome. The result won’t knock the loser from playoff talk, but it’ll add a degree of difficulty before conference play even starts.

Arkansas Razorback

A defense that struggled in 2016 has gotten younger, but there is renewed enthusiasm that the scheme change under defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads’ watch will lead to better results. The offense has potential, but some untested receivers will need to step up to complement receiver Jared Cornelius, and quarterback Austin Allen must continue to progress.

Another winning record and bowl game is highly likely, but the Hogs will have to show significant improvement all the way around to contend in the SEC West.

Mississippi St. Bulldogs

Mississippi State can still hang its hat on rising to No. 1 in the polls during the 2014 season, but the program slipped to 5–7 in the regular season in 2016 and made a bowl game only because of its high APR score. But that was a rebuilding year, and everyone knew it going in. With the quarterback position now settled and some emerging stars on defense, Mississippi State could be back in line to begin another ascent up the SEC West standings — if not to the top, at least into the middle of the pack with a seven- or eight-win season.

But there are question marks, especially along the offensive line, so it would not be surprising to see Mississippi State need its good grades to get it into another bowl game.

Texas A&M Aggies

The Aggies are trying to end a trend of three consecutive 8–5 seasons that have featured late-season collapses. Also, they haven’t finished higher than fourth in the SEC West since 2012. Inexperience at quarterback, issues in run defense and dependency on unproven players render the season outlook quite suspect. The schedule won’t do them many favors, either, with road trips to UCLA, Florida, LSU and Ole Miss, where they typically struggle.

Coach Kevin Sumlin’s job could be in jeopardy if the Aggies cannot break out of their 8–5 rut. Ironically one of Sumlin’s best coaching efforts may be required this season for A&M to post eight victories.

Ole Miss Rebels

If the opportunity to play in a bowl game is the only motivation, the 2017 season is already lost. Ole Miss players insist it is not. They found out in late February they have no chance at bowl game, not because of what may or may not happen on the field, but because of the school’s own ban, part of its self-sanctioning amid an NCAA investigation that approaches its fifth birthday.

Spring practice also showed that Ole Miss is still pretty good on offense. And that question marks remain on defense. The Rebels want to make amends for a disappointing season that saw them ranked as high as No. 11 before falling to 5–7.

Posted in CFB

Temple (3-2) vs Memphis (3-1)

Fresh off its first loss of the season, host Memphis aims to regroup Thursday against resurgent Temple when the Owls visit the Tigers in an American Athletic Conference game (Enter contest). Memphis outscored its opponents 155-27 during a 3-0 start, but struggled in a 20-point loss at Ole Miss last week in its final non-conference tune-up.

ABOUT MEMPHIS

The Tigers’ defense allowed 624 yards while the team committed four turnovers and seven penalties against the Rebels. They’ve allowed a total of 10 points in their previous two games before surrendering 48 to Ole Miss, and now must contend with an Owls squad that has defeated them in two of the last three seasons. Memphis needs Riley Ferguson to have a bounce back game after the junior threw three interceptions without a touchdown pass last week, a stark contrast to his eight touchdowns and zero picks over the previous two outings. Wide receiver Anthony Miller had 157 total yards and a touchdown against the Rebels, while fellow junior Doroland Dorceus rushed for a score for the fourth straight game.

Memphis is averaging 45.8 points, which is sixth-best in the nation. Kicker Jake Elliott needs one point to tie DeAngelo Williams (362) for second place in school history and eight points to match Stephen Gostkowski (369) for top spot in the Tigers’ record books. The Tigers have not returned a kickoff for a touchdown in 233 consecutive games. It’s the longest active streak in the FBS.

ABOUT TEMPLE

The Owls faced plenty of issues themselves early in the season but have regrouped to win two straight behind 48- and 45-point performances. Although senior quarterback Philip Walker is looking to deliver a stronger effort this week, he went 7-of-18 for 124 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions last week against SMU.

Sophomore tailback Ryquell Armstead scored two touchdowns in his second straight game. He finished with 159 rushing yards against SMU. Senior Jahad Thomas also had a pair of rushing scores. It was his third straight game with two rushing TDs. He continues to work his way back from a hand injury that sidelined him for the first two games of the season. After recording a career-high 10 tackles against SMU, sophomore defensive back Delvon Randall will need a repeat performance versus the Tigers. Owls kicker Austin Jones is 8-for-8 in field goals (long of 45) and 21-for-21 on extra points this season.

Posted in CFB

Saturday’s College Featured Matchup

CFB September 17, 2016

Join our FanPicks CFB September 17, 2016 Primetime Games right here.

#2 Florida State (2-0) vs #10 Louisville (2-0)

Lamar Jackson has compiled 1,015 yards of total offense and accounted for 13 touchdowns in less than two full games for Louisville, so it goes without saying Florida State wouldn’t mind having all hands on deck defensively. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case for the second-ranked Seminoles.

Preseason All-American sophomore safety Derwin James suffered a cartilage tear in his left knee against FCS foe Charleston Southern last weekend. He will be sidelined indefinitely. Although the Seminoles will be shorthanded defensively, they should have more than enough firepower on the other side of the ball to stick with FBS’ highest-scoring team thus far, as running back Dalvin Cook has already accounted for 284 total yards and two touchdowns in limited action. While Cook has done nothing to hurt his campaign for the Heisman Trophy, Jackson has raced out to an early lead in that regard by ranking third in the country in rushing (318 yards) and eighth in passing (697) while leading Louisville to an average of 66 points in routs over Charlotte and Syracuse.

#25 Miami (2-0) vs Appalachian State (1-1)

After two one-sided victories, No. 25 Miami faces its first true test Saturday against a dangerous Appalachian State team in what is sure to be a hostile environment.  The Hurricanes have shown signs of being ready for such a test, having dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. After depending on junior Brad Kaaya’s arm to carry the offense for two seasons, the Hurricanes are averaging 326 yards a game rushing while the defense has allowed only 34.5 yards on the ground to rank first in the nation despite starting a front seven dominated by freshmen and sophomores. Those young guys will face a big test against the Mountaineers, who are run-first team and feature one the nation’s best running backs in senior Marcus Cox, who entered the season with 4,088 yards rushing and has added 248 yards already this season.

#22 Oregan (2-0) vs Nebraska (2-0)

Mike Riley watched his Oregon State teams drop seven straight “Civil War” games to Oregon before he bolted for Nebraska in December of 2014. It should come as no surprise if the usually mild-mannered coach is a bit more amped up this week. He will get his chance to end his frustration against a familiar foe Saturday when his Cornhuskers host the 22nd-ranked Ducks in the first meeting between the schools in nearly 30 years.

Oregon have been solid starters, enjoying a plus-42 margin before the halftime break only to outscore their foes by one point over the final 30 minutes in its two home triumphs. Although they are sporting their usual offensive proficiency (eighth in FBS in total offense, tied for 14th in scoring offense), the Ducks are ranked 80th in scoring defense and 82nd in total defense despite playing a FCS opponent (UC Davis) and a struggling FBS squad (Virginia).

#1 Alabama (2-0) vs #19 Ole Miss (1-1)

Ole Miss sets its sights on knocking off top-ranked Alabama for the third consecutive season when the No. 19 Rebels host the defending national champions in the SEC opener for both teams. Crimson Tide Freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts still hasn’t been declared the starting quarterback over redshirt freshman Blake Barnett but it is heading in that direction after Hurts passed for 287 yards and two touchdowns in last Saturday’s victory over Western Kentucky. While it’s unclear who will start at quarterback for Alabama, the same can’t be said for Ole Miss. Senior quarterback Chad Kelly passed for 341 yards and three touchdowns while fueling last season’s win at Alabama and he has thrown for 532 yards and seven touchdowns in this season’s first two games.

Pittsburgh (2-0) vs Oklahoma State (1-1)

After one of the most bizarre finishes in college football history, Oklahoma State need to return their focus to the football field this week. The previously 17th-ranked squad cannot afford to falter against Pittsburgh. The Cowboys most recent contest turned ugly for them after a misinterpreted rule extended the game. One untimed down allowed the Chippewas to score the winning touchdown on a Hail Mary and lateral. Mike Gundy’s squad tried to kill the final four seconds of the game by throwing the ball away on fourth down with time expired, but they were incorrectly penalized for intentional grounding, setting up the 51-yard play. Pittsburgh is seeking to boost its top-25 credentials by starting 3-0 for just the fourth time since 2000.

Posted in CFB

NFL Draft

Top 10 WRs

With the NFL Draft now less than a month away, I present to you my first edition of my top 10 positional rankings.

You will notice I have 12 players listed here, but that’s just in honor of the depth this draft class possesses at the receiver position. While there are no Calvin Johnson’s or Julio Jones’ in this group, there are more than a handful of legitimate prospects with the potential to become impact players at the next level.

Laquon Treadwell is the consensus number one, and though many will point to his stop watch time (4.65) with doubt, it’s his fluidity and game tape that put him in pole position.

topwrsdraft

Baylor’s Corey Coleman has been under heavy scrutiny for his apparent lack of overall skills. He ran a limited route-tree in college, so word of bad route-running and only possessing straight-line speed has surfaced. He also has drop issues, especially in the middle of the field. He ran a 4.37 at his Pro Day and scored 20 TDs through the first eight games of the 2015 season, so going deep is no issue. The issue is that he didn’t score any in the next four games and never came close to 100 yards again. If college teams can figure out how to shut him down, NFL defenses will without breaking a sweat. But if he lands with the right team, those same defenses will be sweating just watching the film on him.

Will Fuller also has the speed (4.32) but as one scout and former NFL receiver said “I hear the DeSean Jackson comparison and I can’t get there. DeSean was faster, tougher and more reliable than Fuller. I’m not saying Fuller can’t play, but I don’t think he’s DeSean.”

Josh Doctson is of a different mold. More of a possession type receiver with the ability to go up and snag the ball out of the air. The Minnesota Vikings seem really interested in what TCU product has to offer, as would he be a great compliment to their young receiving core. An immediate starting job on the outside seems to be in Doctson’s future.

Sterling Shepard rounds out my top five (for this edition anyway). The Sooner may leave something to be desired in terms of measurements, but definitely leaves nothing on the field in terms of effort. The 5’10 slot man not only comes with a ferocious hunger to make plays, but the talent to execute them. I see shades of Steve Smith all over this one.

Posted in NFL

Fanpicks.com College Football Bowl Game Preview

ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL
Ole Miss vs. Oklahoma State

Fanpicks.com is proud to bring you one of the oldest college playoff tradition – Allstate Sugar Bowl game preview featuring Ole Miss against Oklahoma State. This will also prove to be an exciting game… but the winning laurels will be had by Ole Miss; defeating Oklahoma State 33-24. Play the best fantasy college football contests at Fanpicks.com.

After a humbling defeat a year ago in the postseason, Ole Miss looks to make amends when it takes on Oklahoma State in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Jan. 1 in New Orleans. The Rebels absorbed a 42-3 loss in last season’s Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl against TCU and now must contend with another talented team from the Big 12. The Cowboys started 10-0 and had hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff before ending the regular season with back-to-back losses.

Ole Miss junior defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche – the team’s best defensive player – fell 15 feet twice from a window in mid-December and had to be hospitalized. The team announced Dec. 20 that Nkemdiche, who was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession following the incident, will be suspended for the bowl game. “I have learned a valuable lesson in the last week, and I look forward to showing NFL personnel that this is not representative of my true character,” said Nkemdiche, who announced he will enter the NFL draft, where he likely will be a top-10 pick. “I want to thank my coaches, my teammates and Rebel Nation for their support these past three years, and I look forward to making them proud for years to come.”

Oklahoma State has some injury issues of its own with quarterback Mason Rudolph employing a walking boot on his right foot with the bowl game less than two weeks away. Still, coach Mike Gundy seems to be unconcerned about the status of Rudolph and two of his weapons, tight end Blake Jarwin (ribs) and fullback Jeremy Seaton (undisclosed). Rudolph led the Big 12 with 57 passes of 20 yards or more and finished his sophomore regular season with 3,591 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

OKLAHOMA STATE Season Overview (10-2, 7-2 Big 12): The Cowboys rank in the top 10 nationally in passing yards (seventh) and points per game (ninth). They have tons of weapons on offense, but sophomore wide receiver James Washington (52 catches, 1,077 yards, 10 touchdowns) is the best of the bunch. Oklahoma State’s running game is relatively mediocre with only Chris Carson (504 yards) having amassed more than 300 and the team averaging just 3.7 yards per carry.

OLE MISS Season Overview (9-3, 6-2 SEC): The Rebels’ offense is centered around dynamic receiver Laquon Treadwell (76 catches, 1,082 yards, eight TDs), who had found the end zone in six straight games prior to a quiet day against Mississippi State to end the regular season. Chad Kelly threw 27 touchdowns during the year, including three in a signature win against Alabama back in September. A one-point overtime loss to a strong Arkansas team is the only thing separating Ole Miss from entering the postseason on a five-game winning streak.

Posted in CFB