Oklahoma State v Iowa State

Title game rematch coming closer to fruition after OK State loss


(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?

Report: Christian McCaffery back for Stanford vs. Colorado

PALO ALTO, CA - SEPTEMBER 02:  Christian McCaffrey #5 of the Stanford Cardinal runs with the ball against the Kansas State Wildcats at Stanford Stadium on September 2, 2016 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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If Stanford wants to exit Week 8 still entertaining (slim) hopes of repeating as Pac-12 North and conference champs, they’re almost certainly in must-win territory against Colorado today.  Getting their star running back back would certainly help, and it appears that’s what’s exactly going to happen.

In a tweet a short time ago, Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com reported that “Christian McCaffrey is expected back today” for the Buffs game.  Earlier in the week, McCaffrey’s return had been uncertain as he was extremely limited in practice.

In the third quarter of Stanford’s Week 6 loss to Washington State, McCaffrey sustained an unspecified injury that knocked him out for the remainder of the game. He was also sidelined for last Saturday’s win over Notre Dame.

A finalist for the 2015 Heisman Trophy, McCaffrey led the Cardinal in rushing (520 yards), rushing touchdowns (three), yards per carry (5.3), receptions (18), punt returns (8.0 average) and kick returns (22.8 average) prior to the injury that cost him back-to-back games.

His 188.2 all-purpose yards per game was third nationally, but he has not scored a touchdown since Week 2 and had just 84 rushing yards total the last two weeks pre-injury.

Lamar Jackson and Louisville dismantling NC State, 44-0 at halftime

LOUISVILLE, KY - SEPTEMBER 17:  Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals  runs for a touchdown against the Florida State Seminoles  at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Louisville had a sluggish game last week against Duke, but the Cardinals are looking sharp this afternoon against North Carolina State, a week after the Wolfpack let an upset bid slip away at Clemson. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has passed for 304 yards, rushed for 49 yards and scored three touchdowns in the first half as Louisville leads NC State 44-0 after one half.

This has been a mismatch from the start, with Louisville having more than a 300-yard advantage in total yards in the first half (390-52). The Wolfpack only managed two first downs in the half and turned the ball over three times as well. NC State quarterback Ryan Finley has been picked off twice. Jalan McClendon came in to replace Finley late in the first half, but McClendon’s first pass attempt was intercepted by Stacy Thomas, setting the Cardinals up at the 10-yard line. Jackson would add his third touchdown pass of the half moments later (after a holding penalty called off a Jackson touchdown run).

The way this is going, we may not see too much more of Jackson in the second half. With any luck, we’ll get a running clock in his place.

Kansas State dominating clock and Longhorns after one half

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 03:  Head coach Charlie Strong of the Texas Longhorns looks on as the Longhorns prepare to take on the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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There is nothing particularly pretty about what Kansas State has done in the first half, which is typical of a team coached by Bill Snyder. Regardless, it has been more than effective enough against a Texas team that once again looks stale and lifeless. A pair of first-half touchdowns have given Kansas State a 21-7 lead at halftime against the Longhorns.

Jesse Ertz took for a 19-yard touchdown play on the opening possession fo the game for the Wildcats. Ertz accounted for both of Kansas State’s touchdowns in the half on the ground, and added a late touchdown pass for a 21-7 lead. Ertz has been given good protection and time to process what is happening on the field, which has led to a good amount of safe and efficient passing plays for Ertz and Kansas State.

Kansas State has also dominated the Longhorns in time of possession. The Wildcats have had just one possession lasting at least five minutes in the first half, not including the last offensive possession of the first half. On defense, the Wildcats are not allowing Texas to move the ball much, which has led to a small time of possession. That appeared to be playing right into Kansas State’s advantage until a late first-half possession by Texas resulted in a long touchdown. Shane Buechele uncorked an 80-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline with Devin Duvernay doing the honors with his speed most of the way. Kansas state has held the football for 23 minutes and 18 seconds, with 19 first downs.

Texas must do a better job of getting off the field on defense in the second half and start flipping the time of possession in their favor.

WMU prez talks possibility (probability?) of P.J. Fleck departing

CHAMPAIGN, IL - SEPTEMBER 17: Head coach P.J. Fleck of the Western Michigan Broncos celebrates after the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Champaign, Illinois. Western Michigan defeated Illinois 34-10. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Western Michigan will have a tough row to hoe — or boat to row, as the case may be — in retaining their outstanding young head coach, a possibility the university’s president has publicly acknowledged.

Outside of Houston’s Tom Herman, P.J. Fleck will likely be the hottest young commodity on the coaching carousel in the coming weeks — and rightly so.  WMU, at 7-0, is off to its best start since 1941, and ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in its history.

Fleck will undoubtedly have his share of suitors as the carousel picks up speed over the next month, and has already been mentioned as a possibility at Purdue.  During an interview earlier this week, WMU president John Dunn was seemingly resigned to losing the 35-year-old head coach to someone at some point in the not-too-distant future.

“Whatever ultimately happens we wish him (the best) as well as we’ll recover and move on,”  Dunn, who is set to retire in June of 2017, said according to mlive.com. “I think the commitments we’ve made to P.J., I think he appreciates deeply and he’ll be very thoughtful and he’ll be very fair.”

At $800,000 Fleck is already the highest-paid head coach in the MAC.  When speaking of bumping up that pay in an attempt to entice the coach to stay, Dunn responded that he’s “quite confident those conversations have occurred already.” That’s all well and good, but any Power Five program that chases Fleck would be able to triple or even quadruple what the coach is currently making or what he would be making with an enhanced package from WMU.

Dunn, then, is hoping the current situation appeals to Fleck’s non-monetary side.

“The idea that money is important, we never want to negate or argue against that, but there’s also a quality of life and a level of happiness,” said the president.

Nice try, Mr. President.  And prepare your goodbyes accordingly.