By Brian Bass
*Editors note, due to unforeseen circumstances this should have been published a week ago but was delayed*
Nick Fitzgerald is the most underrated quarterback in college football.
Mississippi State is coming back up in the SEC again, and we can’t take our eyes off of Nick Fitzgerald. After orchestrating the biggest ranked upset of the year thus far, there is a lot to look forward to watching from the redshirt junior. The Bulldogs routed LSU at home 37-7 behind Fitzgerald’s 2 rushing TD’s and 2 passing TD’s, combining for 268 yards. After spending two years learning from Dak Prescott, there is a sense of nostalgia in Starkville right now. But first, Fitzgerald and the Bulldogs have to travel to Athens, Georgia to play a red-hot team coming off a victory at Notre Dame. Both Georgia and Mississippi State carry a lot of momentum, and this will test both teams’ grit.
Texas’ defense is something for Big 12 offenses to worry about.
The Longhorns are not going to be as good as a whole this year like a lot of people thought. Their offense without Shane Buechele is horrific, and it won’t be much better without All-American Offensive Lineman Connor Williams. However on the other side of the ball, there is a lot of promise. The front has proved themselves to be a problem for the rush, forcing QB’s to make quicker decisions than they are used to. Sam Darnold was sacked 3 times and the front accounted for 9 tackles for loss against one of the best teams in the country in USC. The secondary with Holton Hill and DeShon Elliott have been making big plays, with Elliott picking off Darnold twice and taking one back for a touchdown. For any team using the air raid in the Big 12, are going to have to take caution with this defense. Texas has a chip on their shoulder and is hungry for a big win.
As we get further into the regular season, the games get more and more important. Ranked matchups could mean everything to your team’s season, and one game could be the difference between making the cut for the CFP and not. Week 3’s upsets were pretty big, headlined by Mississippi State’s blowout against LSU.
(12) LSU 7 @ Mississippi State 37 (Line: LSU -7.5)
Just like I had talked about before, Mississippi State might be a threat this year to unsuspecting SEC teams. Led by the very talented QB Nick Fitzgerald, the Bulldogs exploded for 465 yards of total offense. LSU’s defense was exposed, to say the least, and is not a great look for new head coach Ed Orgeron. Ultimately, LSU’s quarterback struggles continue, with Danny Etling putting up a very underwhelming performance. Mississippi State faces two big opponents this next couple of weeks at Georgia and at Auburn. If Mississippi State is really the good team we think, they will prove it in the next two matchups. As for LSU, they will be taking on two cupcakes in Syracuse and Troy at home before they go to The Swamp to play the Florida Gators.
(18) Kansas State 7 @ Vanderbilt 14 (Line: KSU -5.0)
Well, this isn’t exactly the best look for the Big 12. Kansas State is supposed to be the team that was going to be competing for the Big 12 title this year, but it looks like this slip up against the Commodores is going to be dragging them for a bit. Vanderbilt has been improving the past couple of years, and this is a marquee win that they needed going into a tough matchup against Alabama at home. QB Jesse Ertz for the Wildcats put up a suspect performance completing only 10 of his 28 pass attempts for 76 yards and 2 picks. The problem with Kansas State lies that offensively it all depends on Ertz’s passing and rushing game as a whole. Both components need to be big in order to secure a win. It was a pretty close game on paper, with Vandy going for 270 yards offensively and K-State for 277. K-State has a bye week this week and will host Baylor in two weeks for a chance to bounce back.
(19) Stanford 17 @ San Diego State 20 (Line: STAN -9.0)
Okay, it’s pretty obvious that SDSU just outplayed the Cardinal. That home field advantage was a pretty big factor too. However it’s clear that Stanford just isn’t the team that we thought they were going to be this year. QB Keller Chryst was mediocre with only 72 yards passing on 9 completions and 2 picks. RB Bryce Love was the only spark for Stanford scoring 2 touchdowns on 13 carries and 184 yards rushing. San Diego State forced 3 turnovers from the Cardinal and kept the ball for over 41 minutes of game time. The Aztecs look solid offensively and maybe even better on the other side of the ball. After the lights went out in the old Qualcomm stadium for 25 minutes, San Diego State scored the winning touchdown with 55 seconds left. Stanford will face a tough UCLA at home this weekend, and SDSU will face Air Force in Colorado Springs.
(23) Tennessee 20 @ (24) Florida 26 (Line: FLA -6.5)
What. A. Game. What started out as a rough and nearly unwatchable game, turned into one of the classic games of this year. All the way up to the start of the 4th quarter, there were only 9 points scored total. 37 points were scored in the 4th, including a hail mary that had us astonished. Florida’s CJ Henderson returned an interception for a touchdown to start it all off to make it 13-3 Florida. After a couple of drives by each team, Tennessee’s John Kelly would run it 34 yards for a touchdown that would make it 13-10 with 8:36 left in the game. Florida would then march it down the field to make it 20-10 with a short pass to Brandon Powell with 5:13 left. Just when the Gators look like they had it won, Tennessee quickly makes it a 3 point game with a 28 yard touchdown to standout TE Ethan Wolf.
The next drive, Florida loses 4 yards on a rush that puts them back down to the 31, where QB Feleipe Franks throws an interception to Rashaan Gaulden with 3:57 left in the game. Tennessee would start on the Florida 40, but would only be able to tie it up 20-20 with 50 seconds left in the game. The Gators would start on their own 25 and only would go for 12 yards before being forced to take a timeout with 9 seconds left. They decide to go for it with 63 yards to the end zone, with Feleipe Franks throwing up a hail mary that is completed to Tyrie Cleveland to end the game, 26-20. The Volunteers are having their own QB troubles that kept them from winning, but Florida has seen that they have a very talented QB in Feleipe Franks. Florida faces Kentucky in Lexington this week, and Tennessee will be playing UMass before they host Georgia.