College Sports

Mississippi’s ‘Big 3’ blanked in first USA Today Coaches Poll

Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald (7) throws a pass during the first day of practice in Starkville, July 25, 2017.
Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald (7) throws a pass during the first day of practice in Starkville, July 25, 2017. AP

At least two-thirds of the fan bases within the Magnolia State seem to be excited about the rapidly approaching college football season, but national coaches don’t share the same optimism about Mississippi’s “Big 3.”

The USA Today Coaches Poll was released Thursday without a Mississippi representative in the Top 25.

Out of Southern Miss, Mississippi State and Ole Miss, MSU was the lone vote getter with 19 points, good enough for 39th.

The Bulldogs finished 2016 with a 6-7 overall record but won four of their final six games, with wins over Samford, Texas A&M, arch-rival Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl and Miami (Ohio) in the the St. Petersburg Bowl. With Nick Fitzgerald considered one of the better returning quarterbacks in the league, there’s plenty of hope radiating out of Starkville these days.

The opposite can probably be said about an Ole Miss program (5-7 in 2016) that just dumped its coach amid a scandal and looming NCAA sanctions. Ole Miss must also replace quarterback Chad Kelly, although Rebel faithful are confident sophomore Shea Patterson will step in nicely after a full off-season of being “the guy.” Yet, there’s still plenty of hope and positive vibes coming from South Mississippi with Gulfport native Matt Luke taking over the program as interim coach.

The Jay Hopson Era at USM got off to a solid start a year ago with the Golden Eagles earning a 7-6 overall mark with wins in their final two games over Louisiana Tech and Louisiana-Lafayette in the New Orleans Bowl. For USM to have a shot at making noise in 2017, the Golden Eagles will need early answers at quarterback with Nick Mullens now in the NFL. Former junior college quarterback Kwadra Griggs and Laurel native Keon Howard have made the competition a two-QB race. USM will have an early opportunity to impress, hosting Kentucky in the season opener. USM also travels to Tennessee on Oct. 4.

SEC

The Alabama Crimson Tide took the top spot, four spots ahead of reigning national champion Clemson.

The Tide is the only SEC program included in the top 10, ahead of No. 12 LSU (8-4), No. 13 Auburn (8-5), No. 15 Georgia (8-5), NO. 16 Georgia (9-4) and No. 24 Tennessee rounding out the conference’s inclusion.

In addition to MSU, Texas A&M and Arkansas also received votes.

C-USA

Louisiana Tech was the only Conference USA team to garner any attention, collecting four points.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

Amway Coaches Top 25 Poll

The preseason Amway Top 25 football poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, final 2016 records, total points based on 25 points for first place through one point for 25th, and last season’s final ranking:

Record

Pts

Pvs

1. Alabama (49)

14-1

1603

2

2. Ohio State (5)

11-2

1512

6

3. Florida State (4)

10-3

1434

8

4. Southern Cal

10-3

1415

5

5. Clemson (7)

14-1

1367

1

6. Penn State

11-3

1257

7

7. Washington

12-2

1245

4

8. Oklahoma

11-2

1237

3

9. Michigan

10-3

959

10

10. Wisconsin

11-3

936

9

11. Oklahoma State

10-3

912

11

12. LSU

8-4

834

14

13. Auburn

8-5

819

22

14. Stanford

10-3

732

12

15. Georgia

8-5

701

NR

16. Florida

9-4

681

13

17. Louisville

9-4

676

20

18. Miami

9-4

472

23

19. Kansas State

9-4

339

NR

20. West Virginia

10-3

319

17

21. South Florida

11-2

247

19

22. Virginia Tech

10-4

235

16

23. Texas

5-7

193

NR

24. Tennessee

9-4

155

24

25. Utah

9-4

109

21

Others receiving votes: Washington State 99, Colorado 72, TCU 58, Boise State 49, Notre Dame 49, Texas A&M 46, Pittsburgh 45, N.C. State 39, Oregon 37, Northwestern 25, Nebraska 23, Memphis 22, Arkansas 22, Mississippi State 19, San Diego State 18, Appalachian State 11, BYU 10, Georgia Tech 10, Tulsa 10, Wyoming 9, Western Michigan 8, Temple 8, North Carolina 8, Houston 7, Troy 6, Minnesota 6, Iowa 5, Louisiana Tech 4, Syracuse 3, Arizona 2, Army 1, Colorado State 1, Michigan State 1, Maryland 1, Toledo 1, UCLA 1.

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