NEW ORLEANS -- AJ McCarron tried it Nick Saban's way. He really did. The quarterback for No. 2 Alabama curbed his emotions for the Crimson Tide's first game with No. 1 LSU this season, did his best to be the calm, steady leader his coach wanted. McCarron didn't make a lot of noise, didn't go after any opposing defensive linemen. He didn't produce any touchdowns, either, and the Tide lost 9-6 in overtime. So much for cool and collected.
NEW ORLEANS -- Trent Richardson was awake until the wee hours in New Orleans, chatting up girls. It's not how it sounds. Alabama's star tailback was on the phone with his daughters until about 1:30 a.m. Friday. When it comes to 5-year-old Taliyah and 3-year-old Elevara, college football's battering ram turns into an unabashed softy, even when it means pushing back bedtime. "I spoil them," Richardson said. "Those are my little hearts."
STARKVILLE -- What's old is new again with Mississippi State's opening opponent in Southeastern Conference play. The style that the Razorbacks will implement tonight (8 p.m., Comcast Sports Southeast) will remind Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury of what he saw during his first trip to Fayetteville as a head coach 14 years ago.
Division I college basketball coaches across the country know one thing about their sport: It has changed, and largely without their input, creating sprawling conference boundaries more accommodating to football than basketball.
STARKVILLE -- The little things will wear you out. Those details are even more important in conference play, when opponents know your tendencies better than some of your teammates. They're magnified even finer when teams have a chance to make a statement and can't hold a seven-point lead with more than six minutes to play.
STARKVILLE -- Several nights a week, members of the Mississippi State men's basketball team will get together to watch a college basketball game. It doesn't take long for them to shake their heads and wonder what they have to do to attract national attention. Junior forward Arnett Moultrie could be the spokesperson for that group. Although the transfer from the University of Texas at El Paso is sixth in the country in rebounding, he and the No. 15 Bulldogs haven't garnered a lot of publicity.
NEW ORLEANS -- The points have been piling up so fast this postseason it's as if they're giving away touchdowns along with all those video games and watches the bowls hand out to players. 41-38. 45-38. 67-56. 70-33. Seemingly endless offense has left LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers wondering: "Where is the defense at? Does it exist?" It will in the BCS title game. When No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama meet at the Superdome on Monday, expect every yard to be earned and touchdowns to be at a premium -- again.
STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi State University men's basketball players understand they can improve on defense. The scouting report on No. 15 MSU (13-2) is simple: It can't guard the pick-and-roll offense at the top of the key. "Everybody in the country runs ball screens, and we have to get better guarding those," MSU assistant coach Phil Cunningham said Wednesday in the SEC coaches teleconference.
STARKVILLE -- It's time to get tougher. It's also time for the Mississippi State women's basketball team to slow down and to take better care of the basketball. MSU's ability to put all of those elements into action will be put to the test at 7 tonight when it plays host to LSU at Humphrey Coliseum in its Southeastern Conference opener.
NEW ORLEANS -- University of Alabama wide receiver Marquis Maze isn't about to concede anything to LSU, not even the kicking game. Sure, the top-ranked Tigers controlled field position with Brad Wing's punts when the teams met two months ago in what, back then, was called the game of the century. And those four field goals missed by the No. 2 Crimson Tide have left a stamp on the season.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State University junior defensive tackle Fletcher Cox announced Tuesday he will forego his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL draft. The 295-pound defensive lineman from Yazoo City had 56 tackles this season, including 14 1/2 tackles for a loss and five sacks. He said immediately after MSU's 23-17 victory against Wake Forest in the Music City Bowl that he had made his decision about turning professional, but that he was waiting to announce it properly.
STARKVILLE -- Johnthan Banks decided Tuesday not to declare for the NFL draft and to return to the Mississippi State University football program for his final year of eligibility. Banks, a former East Webster High School standout from Maben, was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given to the nation's top defensive back. He also was MSU's Conerly Trophy representative. That award is given to the state's top college football player.
STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi State University football program has made a scholarship offer to East Mississippi Community College quarterback Bo Wallace. Wallace, who would be able to sign as a member of the 2012 recruiting class and enroll early to compete in spring practices, led EMCC to a 55-47 El Toro Bowl victory against previously unbeaten Arizona Western College in the NJCAA Football Championship Game on Dec. 3 in Yuma, Ariz. He set NJCAA single-season records for passing yards (4,604), total yards of offense (4,810), and touchdowns (53) in a season.
OXFORD -- The tension was still showing on University of Mississippi men's basketball coach Andy Kennedy's face several minutes after his team squeezed past Southern Methodist with a 50-48 victory on Tuesday night. Simply put, it was ugly. Kennedy admits that might be a common theme this season.
ATLANTA -- JaMychal Green appears recovered from a right shoulder injury, and the University of Alabama men's basketball team got another big boost with the return of Andrew Steele for the first time this season. So with the Southeastern Conference schedule beginning in four days, the Crimson Tide look ready to roll.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State University junior wide receiver Chad Bumphis was arrested early Sunday morning in his hometown of Tupelo and charged with disorderly conduct and public drunkenness. The Lee County Sheriff's Department confirmed Sunday morning to The Dispatch that Bumphis' arrest occurred at 1:31 a.m. in the city proper of Tupelo, and that Bumphis was released nearly an hour later after being booked on the charges. Bumphis, 22, has one year of eligibility left at MSU. He is scheduled to appear Jan. 12 at the Lee County Courthouse.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State University football coach Dan Mullen always has judged the quarterback position by one category: Wins. In that regard, senior Chris Relf will leave MSU as one of the program's most successful quarterbacks, especially after he closed his career with another victory.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For a player not many Division I schools wanted after high school and a successful stint at junior college, Vick Ballard wrote an award-winning final chapter to his story Friday night. The Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College transfer used his final college game -- a 23-17 victory against Wake Forest in the Music City Bowl -- to show the country what many of the premier programs missed out on for ignoring his talents for so long
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Believe it or not, Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said he was blocked up front before he blocked a 33-yard field goal in the second quarter Friday night in the Music City Bowl. The reason this fact is up for debate is the speed at which the 295-pound defensive got to the Wake Forest holder and nearly tackled kicker Jimmy Newm
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