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?

Cal, Hawaii officially announce 2016 game Down Under

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 14:  The sails of the Sydney Opera House are illuminated in the colours of the French flag on November 14, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. At least 120 people have been killed and over 200 are injured in Paris following a series of terrorist acts in the French capital on Friday.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
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In September it was reported that a 2016 Cal-Hawaii game in Australia was a “strong likelihood.”  Two months later, that strong likelihood has come to fruition.

Earlier Saturday, both Cal and Hawaii sent out releases confirming that the two football programs will square off in 2016 in Sydney.  The game, which will be called the Sydney College Football Cup, will be played at the 83,500-seat ANZ Stadium in New South Wales that was built for the 2000 Summer Olympics.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience for our student-athletes and an excellent opportunity to see and learn about another culture,” Cal head coach Sonny Dykes said in a statement. “We are proud to represent the University of California at this historic event. A great deal of hard work by many people has gone into making this a reality, and everyone associated with Cal Athletics is excited to take part in it.

“It is a great day for college football and all the fans of our sport. It shows the popularity college football is gaining, and we’re ready to help further introduce the sport to many more fans.”

This contest will be the first college football game to ever be played in Sydney and the first in Australia since games in Melbourne — Wyoming-UTEP in 1985 and BYU-Colorado State in 1987.

Cal has previously played outside of the United States just once, in Japan in 1987 against Washington State. This will mark UH’s first-ever game outside the country.

“The University of Hawai‘i is thrilled for this wonderful opportunity to open the 2016 college football season in Sydney against the University of California, Berkeley,” UH athletic director David Matlin said in his statement. “Our football program has tremendous pride in not only representing the state of Hawai‘i, but all of the Pacific region. From a cultural perspective, this game will afford our student-athletes an experience they will always remember and give most of them the chance to travel outside the United States for the first time in their lives. Traditionally, the University of Hawai‘i has been fortunate to welcome many student-athletes from Australia and we hope this game opens doors for many more.”

Reports: Justin Fuente leaving Memphis for Virginia Tech

Justin Fuentes

Those within the college football industry said Whit Babcock and Virginia Tech would be the first major program with a head coaching vacancy to make a hire. It appears they were correct.

As his team beats SMU down something fierce, reports indicate Memphis head coach Justin Funete is on his way out the door for Blacksburg.

Fuente, 39, arrived from TCU following the 2011 season and brought Memphis out of the college football abyss and into the national consciousness. The Tigers went 7-17 in Fuente’s first two seasons, then skyrocketed to 10-3 with a share of the American Athletic Conference championship in 2014 and a (soon to be) 9-3 mark in 2015.

Memphis opened this season 8-0 — running its overall win streak to 15 games — with a win over Ole Miss, rising as high as No. 13 in the College Football Playoff poll.

In Virginia Tech, Fuente inherits a program many described as the best current opening outside of USC, as the Hokies battle for Virginia for a berth in their 23rd straight bowl game.

And keeping around one of the most respected defensive coordinators in the business? That’s a heck of a start to get the Hokies back on top again.

With LSU rumors swirling, Jimbo reportedly tells FSU prez he’s staying

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Florida State Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher reacts to a play against the Oregon Ducks during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2015 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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Tonight’s game against Texas A&M will reportedly be Les Mileslast at LSU. Unless it’s not, depending on who or which reports you want to believe.

Regardless, speculation has been rampant that, if/when LSU pulls the trigger and dismisses Miles, their No. 1 target by far is Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher. The former LSU offensive coordinator has publicly brushed aside the speculation of late, but now is reportedly telling those in positions of power at his current university that he has no intentions of leaving.

From a report by the Palm Beach Post‘s Tom D’Angelo:

Jimbo Fisher met with Florida State president John Thrasher this week and told Thrasher he does not have to worry about losing his head coach.

Sources have told the Post that Fisher, whose name has been connected to the expected opening at LSU, has made it clear he is happy with the administration, the support he receives and the direction of the program, and has no intentions of leaving Florida State for another coaching job at this time.

It seems likely that Miles’ time in Baton Rouge is quickly coming to an end, even as an ESPN report intimates that he could save his job with a win today, as does FootballScoop.com. It doesn’t appear, though, that Fisher will be riding in on his white horse to “save” the Tigers football program if Miles is jettisoned.

Then again, Nick Saban was not going to be the head coach at Alabama before he was, sooo

Ohio State leads Michigan after tight first half

Jim Harbaugh, Urban Meyer
Associated Press

No. 8 Ohio State leads No. 10 Michigan 14-10 at the break in Ann Arbor.

Ohio State struck first with a seven-play, 94-yard march late in the first quarter, aided by a highly questionable flag. The Wolverines had forced a Buckeyes punt from their own 9, but a roughing the kicker call, on a play where Ohio State punter Cameron Johnston didn’t appear to make contact with a Wolverine, kept the drive alive. Ezekiel Elliott broke free for a 66-yard run to plays after the flag, and J.T. Barrett scored from seven yards out two plays later.

After mounting drives of 43 and 28 yards on its first two possessions, Michigan answered Ohio State’s score with a short field goal. The Wolverines moved to the Buckeyes’ 6 until two straight incomplete passes forced a 25-yard Kenny Allen field goal at the 9:25 mark of the second quarter.

Ohio State immediately answered, moving 75 yards in nine snaps — all but the first carries by Barrett or Elliott — to push the lead to 14-3 with 5:01 remaining before the half. Michigan, though, answered that answer with a five-yard Jake Rudock touchdown pass to Jehu Chesson on 3rd-and-2 with one minute remaining.

Rudock threw 24 times in the half, completing 14 for 178 yards and a touchdown. Jabrill Peppers led the Wolverines with five rushes for 21 yards and two grabs for 25 yards. Chesson caught four passes for 53 yards and a score, and Jake Butt nabbed three grabs for 43 yards.

Elliott charged Ohio State with 10 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown, while Barrett rushed eight times for 64 yards and a touchdown while completing 3-of-6 throws for 18 yards.

Ohio State will receive to open the second half.