Pasquali’s Pix: Dawgs to make it seven straight against Vols

Mississippi State Athletics photo / Mississippi State senior offensive analyst Greg Knox was named interim head coach for the third time in his career earlier this week following the firing of Zach Arnett.

Neither head football coach from Texas A&M's 51-10 win over Mississippi State last Saturday will be walking a Southeastern Conference sideline this week following the firings of Jimbo Fisher and Zach Arnett.

Fisher is receiving a staggering buyout in the $77 million neighborhood -- again proving that longtime agent Jimmy Sexton has a better record than Nick Saban and Kirby Smart combined -- while Arnett worked just 11 games for the Bulldogs following the death of Mike Leach and was never a head coach in an Egg Bowl.

There is always an awkward feel to the SEC's weekly teleconference when interim coaches are involved, but the seasons must go on for the Aggies and the Bulldogs, and they will do so with Elijah Robinson in College Station and Greg Knox in Starkville. Robinson has been Texas A&M's defensive line coach, while Knox has been serving as a senior offensive analyst at Mississippi State.

"I've got notes from doing this," Knox said Wednesday, "so I go back and look at those notes. I try to refresh myself and make sure I'm doing exactly what I need to do in order to put these kids in a position for success."

Knox, who had his share of stability as Auburn's receivers coach from 1999-2008 under Tommy Tuberville, is an interim coach for the third time. He was Dan Mullen's running backs coach at Mississippi State from 2009-17 and led the Bulldogs to a 31-27 victory over Louisville in the 2017 Gator Bowl after Mullen had been named head coach at Florida.

After following Mullen to Florida, where he was running backs coach and special teams coordinator, Knox would become interim coach of the Gators for the final two games of the 2021 season after Mullen was dismissed. He guided them to a 24-21 topping of rival Florida State but lost the Gasparilla Bowl 29-17 to UCF.

When asked if he has talked to Tuberville in recent days, Knox laughed and said, "I haven't heard from the senator yet."

Robinson is doing the interim thing for the first time, admitting, "I've been keeping my phone on a charger. It's been going off a lot lately." He is the first interim coach in SEC history coming off a 41-point league victory.

"Of course it was a surprise after a big win like that," Robinson said. "You see the smiles and the high-fives and things like that in the locker room. You feel a sense of joy and accomplishment when you have a win like that against an SEC opponent.

"Obviously Coach Fisher is very loved by our players and his staff here, so it was a surprise to us, but our players understand that this is a business and that this is a part of it."


Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz was asked Wednesday to recall how running back Cody Schrader wound up in Columbia, and he said it began at dinner with Tigers supporter Steve Trulaske.

"It was probably the best recruiting night of my career," Drinkwitz said. "I went to dinner with a donor trying to get a donation for our indoor (facility), and he recommended Cody Schrader, who was transferring from Truman State, to me as a walk-on. I said, 'Sure, I'll look into it,' and I left dinner and went to an in-home visit with (five-star receiver) Luther Burden and his family.

"It turns out that both of them have had a huge impact on Mizzou football. The next day, Mr. Trulaske followed up with me on an opportunity for Cody, and I said, 'Sure.' I had not even watched the tape of him yet. He showed up in January, worked his butt off and was the starter by the first game of last season."

Schrader leads the SEC this season with 1,124 yards and had 321 all-purpose yards in last weekend's 36-7 downing of Tennessee.


When it was Saban's turn on the teleconference, I asked the Alabama coach if he remembered UTC leading 3-0 early in the second quarter of the 2016 game in Tuscaloosa, which his Crimson Tide ultimately won 31-3.

"I do remember that situation," he said. "I remember a lot of these games that we play in the 11th game of the year after you've been playing seven SEC games and how difficult it is to get your players to stay focused on this particular game and not something that's going to happen in the future, and that's what we've tried to do with our players for this game.

"I think our players do have respect for this team and what they've been able to accomplish."

Pasquali's Pix

UTC at Alabama: Saban's record with the Tide in lunchtime kickoffs is 28-0 after last weekend's rout of Kentucky. Tide 49, Mocs 6.

Georgia at Tennessee: The Bulldogs could become the first SEC team ever to produce three consecutive 8-0 league records. Bulldogs 26, Volunteers 17.

Wake Forest at Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish are competing for their 500th win at Notre Dame Stadium. Irish quarterback Sam Hartman is competing against his former team. Irish 40, Demon Deacons 13.

North Carolina at Clemson: Clemson's 64-3 record in Death Valley during the College Football Playoff era matches Alabama for the best home mark nationally. Tigers 31, Tar Heels 23.

New Mexico State at Auburn: Auburn is seeking its 800th all-time win, which will put the Tigers in an FBS club with Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, Texas, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Penn State, Nebraska, Georgia, USC, Tennessee and LSU. Tigers 37, Aggies 20.

Kentucky at South Carolina: The Wildcats and Gamecocks are a combined 1-10 against Power Five teams not named Mississippi State or Vanderbilt. Wildcats 24, Gamecocks 20.

Florida at Missouri: Who had these teams before the season beating Tennessee by a combined 42 points? Tigers 34, Gators 27.

Syracuse at Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets are seeking bowl eligibility and a winning ACC record for the first time in five years. Yellow Jackets 27, Orange 22.

Other picks:

Ole Miss 55, UL-Monroe 16

Mississippi State 28, Southern Miss 19

Texas A&M 52, Abilene Christian 15

LSU 41, Georgia State 22

Arkansas 49, Florida International 28

Michigan 56, Maryland 21

Penn State 37, Rutgers 14

Oklahoma 44, BYU 23

SMU 30, Memphis 27

Ohio State 43, Minnesota 10

N.C. State 27, Virginia Tech 24

USC 33, UCLA 26

Oregon 35, Arizona State 18

Florida State 59, North Alabama 6

Washington 34, Oregon State 31

Texas 31, Iowa State 20

Middle Tennessee 26, UTEP 13

Last week:

Winners — 22

FOX expletives — 3

Pasquali is 220-55 overall (80.0%) this season.

Contact David Paschall at