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College Football Week 13, NFL Week 12 Free Picks

Missouri vs. Ole Miss, 7:45PM ET
Some pundits didn’t expect Mizzou to win six games this season and now the Tigers are knocking on the door of playing in the SEC championship game. They have two more hurdles to overcome, however, as they need to beat Ole Miss on Saturday night and then Texas A&M in their final game of the regular season. Fortunately their starting quarterback James Franklin is set to return from injury to take the place of redshirt freshman Maty Mauk, who filled in admirably while Franklin was out with a shoulder injury. Before he was knocked out of a win against Georgia earlier this season, Franklin was completing 67.7 percent of his passes and was one of the top quarterbacks in the nation from a statistical standpoint. One mismatch that Franklin can take advantage of is the one-on-one issues that the Tigers’ receivers will give the Rebels’ cornerbacks. L’Damian Washington stands 6’4″ while future NFL prospect Dorial Green-Beckham is 6’6″ and Marcus Lucas is 6’5″. Conversely, Ole Miss’ starting corners are 5’9″ (Senquez Golson) and 5’8″ (Mike Hilton). As long as Mizzou’s stout defense can limit Bo Wallace’s ability to freelance and connect for big plays, they should win.
FREE PICK: MISSOURI -2.5

Oregon vs. Arizona, 3:30PM ET
Oregon is back on track to being the top seed from the Pac-12 and it knows style points will count tomorrow in Arizona. The Wildcats, meanwhile, have failed to cover in three straight games and are coming off a lifeless performance versus Washington State last week. The Ducks are 12-2 against the spread in their last 14 road games and 10-4 ATS in their last 14 conference games. Arizona doesn’t have the hosses up front to dominant Oregon in the trenches. These are the types of matchups where the Ducks thrive.
FREE PICK: OREGON -20.5

Cowboys vs. Giants, 4:25PM ET
The Giants have won four straight but take a look at the quarterbacks they beat during that stretch: Josh Freeman, who didn’t know the playbook, Nick Foles before he became Nick Foles, a hobbled Terrelle Pryor and then Scott Tolzien last Sunday. Not exactly a Murderer’s Row of signal-callers. Granted, the Cowboys’ defense has been brutal under Monte Kiffin this season but Eli Manning hasn’t been sharp himself. The Cowboys are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games following a straight up loss and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games overall. Take the dog.
FREE PICK: COWBOYS +1

Panthers vs. Dolphins, 1:00PM ET
There isn’t a team hotter right now in the NFL than the Carolina Panthers, which is why they’re probably due for a letdown. They’re coming off back-to-back wins versus the 49ers on the road, and the Patriots at home on Monday night. Seeing as how they’re coming off a short week and now have to make the trip down to Miami, this is a perfect time to fade the Panthers. The Dolphins have been a mess both on and off the field over the past three weeks but they picked up a nice home win last week against the Chargers and are 4-0 against the spread in their last four games versus the Panthers.
FREE PICK: DOLPHINS +4

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Ole Miss Rebel Black Bears are coming to a stadium near you

January 2, 2009: The Mississippi flag is run across the field before the team enters the stadium during the 73rd AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic NCAA Football game between the University of Mississippi Rebels and the Texas Tech Red Raiders at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX Mississippi defeated Texas Tech 47-34 Photo via Newscom

Ole Miss’ search for a new mascot to replace “Colonel Reb” is one of the dumber stories I’ve chosen not to follow over the last couple of years. But if the story was big enough to make it into ESPN’s “Headlines” section then damn it, it’s big enough for TSR.

The student body has spoken and they say: “Rebel Black Bear” is our new mascot. No joke. They’re still the Ole Miss Rebels, but their mascot is now a big black bear.

At Ole Miss games from here on out, a “Rebel Black Bear” will now be running onto the field, pumping up the crowd the only way a black bear who is also a rebel knows how. (Yeah, I’m not sure how a rebel black bear pumps up a crowd. Use your imagination.)

The school wanted to replace Colonel Reb, so it opened up voting for a new mascot back in March. The three choices were narrowed down to “Rebel Land Shark,” “Rebel Black Bear” and “Hotty Totty,” which was a goofy, muscular, human-like gray guy.

“Rebel Black Bear” won by 62%, although it got strong push from Star Wars character Admiral Ackbar because a bunch of students started an internet campaign for it. In the end, Lucasfilms, which owns the Admiral Ackbar character, declined to give Ole Miss the rights to use the image for their mascot, proving how stupid all of this really was.

Personally, I would have gone with the Rebel Land Shark. Why? I don’t f*cking know. Because sharks are cooler than bears.

Disappointed Jeremiah Masoli is allowed to play this year? Blame the NCAA.

BOISE, ID - SEPTEMBER 3:  Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli #8 of the Oregon Ducks throws a pass during pre-game warm-ups before the game against the Boise State Broncos on September 3, 2009 at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Allow me to make one thing clear: I don’t think student athletes should have the opportunity to avoid punishment just by switching schools. It makes zero sense to watch a player misbehave, get kicked off their respective team and then still allow him to play football that same year for another program.

However, had the NCAA Division I Subcommittee for Legislative Relief not clear former Oregon Duck and now current Ole’ Miss Rebel Jeremiah Masoli to play this season, then they would have been hypocrites.

Masoli has mucked up every opportunity he’s been given so far and quite frankly, didn’t deserve another chance. He was suspended by Oregon for stealing from a frat house in January following the Ducks loss to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl and then was kicked off the team months later after receiving a citation for marijuana possession.

But because he switched schools, now he’s allowed to play this season. That’s not right, which is why the NCAA had denied his waiver claim earlier this week. Simply put, players shouldn’t be allowed to transfer and leave their issues behind them.

That said, the NCAA can’t allow players like Ryan Perriloux (LSU) and Darius Barksdale (Ole Miss) to get kicked off their respective teams and then play for Jacksonville State (at separate times, mind you) that same year and not allow Masoli to play for Ole Miss. It’s hypocritical, even if Jacksonville State is a much smaller program than Mississippi. (The size of the school shouldn’t have anything to do with the NCAA picking and choosing whom its rules should apply to.)

Thus, the NCAA essentially got it right by getting it wrong the first time. They should have enforced the rule with Perriloux and Barksdale (and those are just two players who transferred from their problems – how many more were there?) and then it could have stuck to its guns with Masoli.

As with most things, the NCAA screwed the pooch.

From a football standpoint, Masoli well worth the risk for Ole’ Miss

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli #8 of the Oregon Ducks attempts a pass against the Ohio State Buckeyes at the 96th Rose Bowl game on January 1, 2010 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Last week, University of Mississippi head coach Houston Nutt sat at the roulette table of life down on his luck. He had just suffered another huge loss when Raymond Cotton decided to transfer and when he looked down at his chip stack, he realized his next play had to be all-in.

Things haven’t really gone Nutt’s way over the past couple of months. Last year, many college football pundits thought that the Rebels would be a sleeper in the SEC West. But in their first real test of the season, they were beaten by South Carolina in Week 3 and stumbled to a 9-4 overall record, which included a 4-4 finish in the conference.

Following the season, Nutt lost his starting quarterback when Jevan Snead surprisingly entered the NFL draft instead of returning for his junior year. That left Nathan Stanley to compete with Cotton (a highly touted underclassmen) for the Rebels’ starting quarterback job.

But last week, Cotton decided to leave the program, which left the Rebels with Stanley and former junior college star Randall Mackey as the only other quarterbacks on scholarship.

So Nutt decided to take a chance.

Read the rest of this entry »

Alabama slowly dismantles Ole Miss, wins 22-3

Alabama

Did anybody else feel the energy completely evaporate at the beginning of the third quarter? This game took place in Oxford, Mississippi and the fans consistently did their best to keep the Rebels inspired. Nevertheless, Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead was never able to make the big play that would turn this game around. By the third quarter, the noise in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium was the equivalent of a gigantic yawn.

Alabama entered this competition 5-0, favored to beat Ole Miss who held a record of 3-1. Over the last four seasons, Albama had won this competition each time, though the game always came down to the final possession. However, today’s meeting was never really close, despite the score at the half.

Throughout the game, Jevan Snead failed to complete crucial first downs. Alabama’s defense terrorized his offense, picking off Snead four times. (Snead had previously only thrown five interceptions on the year.) They also limited Ole Miss’ rushing to a pathetic 57 yards.

On the other hand, Alabama QB Greg McElroy was able to come through on big downs. Though he still passed for the same amount of yards as Snead, he didn’t throw any interceptions. In the end, neither quarterback was stellar. McElroy didn’t complete a touchdown pass as well. Alabama kicked their way onto the scoreboard, as
Leigh Tiffin made each of his five field goal attempts. Running back Mark Ingram scored the game’s only touchdown, weaving through the Ole Miss defense on a 36-yard run.

College football fans might look at this game and think Alabama did everything right. While they beat a talented team in Ole Miss, they were still limited to 152 yards passing and 202 yards rushing. Alabama’s defense ensured this win. If Nick Saban can turn his offense into a force half as dominant as his defense, Alabama will be unstoppable.

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