Oklahoma State v Iowa State

Title game rematch coming closer to fruition after OK State loss

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(Next morning writer’s note: I somehow managed to write an entire post-game blog without mentioning the tragic losses of Oklahoma State women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna, who died Thursday in a plane crash near Little Rock while on a recruiting trip. That’s completely unacceptable. Our most heartfelt thoughts and prayers go to the family and friends of Budke and Serna, as well as the entire Oklahoma State community, who certainly wishes their biggest problem right now was a football game.)

Well, at least we know who won’t be playing for the national title in a couple months.

Oklahoma State’s stunning 37-31 double overtime loss to Iowa State with just weeks left in the regular season has opened the door even more for a potential rematch between LSU and either Alabama or Oregon. Sitting pretty at No. 2, all the Cowboys had to do was win tonight and two weeks from now against Oklahoma in the Bedlam game; how they win wouldn’t mean a thing.

Exhibit A: even if OSU had pulled out a victory tonight, it wouldn’t have been aesthetically pleasing. Heisman candidate Brandon Weeden threw for nearly 500 yards, but had three interceptions (one of which — his third — wasn’t entirely his fault) and was erratic all night. OSU had five turnovers in all. The Cowboys couldn’t stop the run and were flagged 10 times for 87 yards.

Kicker Quinn Sharp was anything but, missing a crucial field goal over the top of the right goal post with just over one minute left in regulation.

None of that would have mattered had Oklahoma State won.

Tim Tebow can relate. This late in the season? Just win, man.

All of that being said, a ton of credit needs to be given to Paul Rhoads, who continues to crank out upset wins year after year in Ames. There just aren’t many coaches who get more out of their players than Rhoads.

And no teams got more out of tonight’s game than No. 3 Bama and No. 4 Oregon. It’s not quite “BCS chaos OMG!”, but a national title rematch is becoming a much more serious option. First, you have to assume — and that might be dangerous given tonight’s shenanigans — that No. 1 LSU will win the rest of their games. Do that and the Tigers are in without a second thought.

Next, Oklahoma State’s loss could be Oklahoma’s as well. The No. 5 Sooners still hold the honor of this season’s “WTF” award — a 41-38 defeat at the hands of Texas Tech at home — a loss of truly perplexing proportions. Even beating Oklahoma State in two weeks might not be enough to launch OU back into the title picture without some help from either Bama, Oregon or Arkansas.

But here’s what the Sooners do have going for them:

1. The BCS computers heart Oklahoma State. Win Bedlam and maybe… maybe… OU has a shot. Again, this may not be enough by itself.

2. The human element. Will voters give OU a boost if the thought of a rematch becomes too nauseating?

3. Cheerleading, upstaging and maybe a little black JuJu. OU has to become Arkansas’ biggest fans. If the Hogs can beat LSU in two weeks, then we can officially uncork the “BCS chaos” bubbly. With no undefeated teams left in the national title picture, OU has one thing Oregon — dangerously assuming again that the Ducks go undefeated from here on out — does not: a Saturday game during the first weekend in December. The Pac-12 championship game is Friday, Dec. 2; Bedlam is Dec. 3. There’s a chance, no matter how small, that the Sooners could be a little fresher in the minds of voters if they have a strong showing.

But perhaps we’re getting ahead of ourselves. If nothing else goes banana nuts in the next few weeks, the rematch scenario remains viable. In that case, which criteria do you use? A conference champion (Oregon), or margin of defeat (Alabama)?

Good thing every week matters, right?

Is this the year? Army jumps out to two-score halftime lead over No. 25 Navy

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 10: Army cadets take the field before the start of the Army Black Knights and Navy Midshipman game at M&T Bank Stadium on December 10, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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There are few traditions in college football quite like the annual Army-Navy game and the pageantry was in full force once again on Saturday afternoon from Baltimore.

Army kicked off the scoring for the third season in a row in this rivalry game after recovering a Navy fumble and marching right down the field with a 14 play, 66 yard drive that culminated in a touchdown.

While the early score was notable, turnovers dominated first quarter play with three of the first four drives from the teams ending in a giveaway. The quarterbacks combined to complete just a single pass to their own team all half but completed three to the opposing defenses in the form of three ugly interceptions. Army’s Xavier Moss forced the first fumble of the season from Navy fullback Shawn White for the first quarter’s other turnover as well.

Army’s triple option looked to be the superior attack for most of the half, with the Black Knights picking up six of their seven third downs and converting the other on fourth down. Andy Davidson punched it into the end zone both times and finished with 15 carries for 50 yards.

There’s still a lot of football left to be played but the best Army team in nearly a decade certainly is looking primed to end Navy’s long winning streak in convincing fashion based on how the first half went.

Texas HS coaches reportedly favored Major Applewhite over Lane Kiffin at Houston

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 05:  Offensive Cooridator Major Applewhite of the Houston Cougars looks on during warm ups before the game against the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles on September 5, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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Texas high school coaches are a powerful lot. Tom Herman has one on his staff, Charlie Strong had one on his, and new Baylor head coach Matt Rhule‘s first hire in Waco was the president of the Texas high school coaches’ association.

Lone Star high school coaches’ power stretches even beyond simply getting on college staffs, however. They have the power to scuttle prospective coaching tenures before they happen.

That’s according to Houston board chairman/Cougars booster Tilman Fertitta. Speaking to KILT-AM in Houston on Friday night, Fertitta said high school coaches’ push for Major Applewhite is what put the Coogs’ offensive coordinator over the top of Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

“The Texas high school football coaches bombarded our athletic director (Hunter Yurachek) and said: We want our kids to play for Major Applewhite,” Fertitta said, via ESPN. “Here’s a guy that’s been on the big stage, he was the quarterback at the University of Texas, he has a great relationship with the coaches and high school football in Texas. Lane does not. That was an ‘X’ against Lane compared to Major.

“Continuity in the program, the kids, the recruits today playing wanted Major Applewhite. They let it be known. It was just one thing after another that had steamrolled to Major.”

Judging by Applewhite’s Twitter feed, it was hard to argue against that logic. The new Houston head coach tweeted support from two key Cougars recruits and a current Houston player who, incidentally, were rumored targets of Herman at Texas.

“I’ll be 100 percent honest with you. When this started, I thought that we needed to go out and get a name-brand coach, because, to me, it’s all about brands,” Fertitta said. “Nobody understands that better than me. And I wanted the University of Houston to stay relevant, OK? I think Les Miles is a fine coach and he’s going to be a great coach for somebody, and I think the same thing of Lane Kiffin. I was very impressed. But when I looked at the whole picture and totality, I truly think in my heart — and so did everybody else on the committee think — that Major Applewhite was the right fit.”

Pitt RB James Conner declares for NFL Draft

STILLWATER, OK - SEPTEMBER 17 : Running back James Conner #24 of the Pittsburgh Panthers is pursued by linebacker Devante Averette #40 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys September 17, 2016 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
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James Conner is taking his inspirational story and frightening running back skills to the NFL.

The Pittsburgh running back made the announcement Saturday afternoon through his Twitter account.

The Panthers immediately released a statement blessing the move.

Conner burst on the scene as a freshman, leading the Panthers with 799 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. He exploded as a sophomore for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns before missing his junior season due to Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He returned to the field this fall with a body free of cancer and promptly returned to form, carrying a team-leading 208 times for 1,060 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Conner was named the winner of the Disney Spirit Award on Thursday night.

The Pitt running back will join a growing list of running back early entrants, including D'Onta ForemanLeonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey.

Cincinnati formally announces Luke Fickell as new head coach

CHAMPAIGN, IL - OCTOBER 15:  Head coach Luke Fickell of the Ohio State Buckeyes watches as his team takes on the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium on October 15, 2011 in Champaign, Illinois. Ohio State defeated Illinois 17-7.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The worst-kept secret in college football is no longer a secret. Luke Fickell is Cincinnati’s new head coach.

The school made the announcement Saturday afternoon after word had begun trickling in the Buckeye State since last night.

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Fickell is a true son of Ohio State. Born in Columbus, he graduated from high school there, attended and met his wife at Ohio State, began his coaching career there and spent all but two seasons as a Buckeye — and those two seasons were at Akron.

Now he’ll move down state to a program that has placed Mark Dantonio at Michigan State, Brian Kelly at Notre Dame and Butch Jones at Tennessee.

The current occupier of the job Fickell surely wants announced his blessing of the move shortly after it went official.

As Tom Herman and Kirby Smart did before him, Fickell will remain with the Buckeyes through their College Football Playoff run.

“It’s with much pride and humility that I accept the awesome honor of becoming the head coach at the University of Cincinnati,” Fickell said in a statement. This city, this school and my family are all Ohio. It’s a tough blue-collar state with hard-working, blue-collar people that respect an honest and complete effort. That’s what they will get from me personally and what they should expect from this football program. This team belongs to this city and we will make you proud.”