Todd Grantham dodges question about Saints interview

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Last night, reports surfaced that Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham was expected to interview for the same position with the New Orleans Saints on Thursday, with coach Sean Payton telling  Kristian Garic of WWL directly that he planned on interviewing Grantham.

There is, of course, a part of Grantham’s contract that mandates he notify his athletic director, Greg McGarity, of any employment opportunity. As of late Tuesday night, McGarity had not been notified. Whether that’s changed in the past 12 hours or so is unknown and Grantham dodged a question about it during a Signing Day press conference.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Invariably came the question about Grantham’s future with Georgia. “Will you still be with us two or three years from now,” a fan asked Grantham.

“You know what? I can tell you this, that my family loves it here; I like it here a lot; and this is a very special place and I think today needs to be focused on the players we’ve got here right now and trying to get back to Atlanta,” Grantham said.

It’s not a yes. It’s not a no. It’s not really anything.

Payton told “Mike and Mike” this morning that he planned on interviewing two to four candidates for the DC job, mentioning only former Cowboys DC Rob Ryan by name.

It’s also believed that Grantham is still in the running for the Philadelphia Eagles’ DC gig.

Oklahoma locks up one spot in Big 12 title game, TCU has inside track for the other

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After the Big 12 entered Week 12 somewhat convoluted, they exited with much more clarity.  Maybe.

First and foremost, Oklahoma, 7-1 in Big 12 play, assured itself of one of the two spots in the Big 12 championship game by virtue of a 41-3 pasting of hapless Kansas.  TCU, now 6-2, earned the inside track to the second spot thanks to a 27-3 win over Texas Tech in Lubbock Saturday afternoon.

That sets up a relatively simple scenario for Week 13: if TCU handles one-win Baylor at home, they will face Oklahoma in the inaugural renewal of the Big 12 championship game.  If not?  Matt Campbell‘s upstart squad has a chance, albeit a very slim one.

As it stands now*, there are currently four Big 12 teams with three conference losses — Iowa State (finishes against Kansas State), Oklahoma State (Kansas), Texas (Texas Tech) and West Virginia (Oklahoma).  OSU, Texas and WVU all lost to TCU, so they would be eliminated from contention even if TCU happened to stumble against BU.

While Iowa State beat TCU, they also lost to Texas, WVU and OSU.  Thus, in case of a three-way tie — or more — TCU would get the spot in the conference championship game based on wins over everyone but ISU amongst the group of teams in line for a potential tie for second place.  ISU, then, needs losses by all four of those teams plus a win over bowl-eligible K-State.

(*I believe these scenarios to be accurate, although I’ve reached out to the Big 12 for confirmation.)

Kansas State knocks No. 13 Oklahoma State out of Big 12 title race

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No. 13 Oklahoma State’s Big 12 championship hopes were already put on life support Saturday, thanks to No. 12 TCU’s 27-3 win at Texas Tech, coupled with the knowledge the Frogs close the regular season at home against Baylor on Friday, and No. 4 Oklahoma’s oncoming win at Kansas. But the Cowboys went ahead and eliminated themselves by falling in a 42-13 hole for which they could not climb out, dropping a 45-40 game to Kansas State in Stillwater.

Kansas State opened the game by moving 71 yards in 10 plays — every one of them runs, most of them by second-time starting quarterback Skylar Thompson, who traversed the final 40 yards himself, including a 5-yard score.

After a pair of punts, Oklahoma State tied the game on a 2-play, 70-yard drive: a 32-yard run by Justice Hill and a 38-yard strike from Mason Rudolph to James Washington (eight catches for 159 yards). 

Matt Ammendola gave Oklahoma State the lead with a 32-yard field goal, but Thompson shoved Kansas State right back in front with a 47-yard play-action bomb to Byron Pringle, putting Kansas State up 14-10 with 13:32 left in the first half. Oklahoma State threatened to re-claim the lead, but the Cowboys could not convert a 1st-and-goal at the K-State 7-yard line, forcing a 27-yard Ammendola field goal.

Kansas State immediately capitalized on the opportunity to seize control of the game when Pringle struck again, this time taking the ensuing kickoff 89 yards back for a touchdown.

A bad sequence for Oklahoma State became even worse when Rudolph’s deep pass to Washington was overthrown and intercepted by Duke Shelley at the K-State 18. The Cowboys defense forced a three-and-out, but the next Oklahoma State drive ended in another Rudolph overthrow and another interception, which Kendall Adams grabbed at the K-State 19 and returned 19 yards to the 38.

Kansas State capitalized on the mistake, moving 62 yards in five plays, the last 39 on an Alex Barnes run down the right sideline to put the Wildcats up 28-13 with 1:30 left in the first half.

The downpour continued to open the second half. Thompson hit Pringle on another bomb, this time 46 yards, on the Wildcats’ first touch of the second half, and that connection hooked up again to push the lead to 42-13 midway through the third quarter — this time from 60 yards out. Pringle finished the day with four catches for a career-best 166 yards and three touchdowns.

Pringle’s third touchdown marked the third straight game and the fourth overall Oklahoma State has allowed 42 points or more.

Oklahoma State forced its way back into the game through a 21-3 run, scoring on a 2-yard run by Hill, an 8-yard pass from Rudolph (32-of-53 for 425 yards with four total touchdowns and two interceptions) to Washington and a 2-yard Rudolph keeper with 4:55 to play.

Oklahoma State attempted an onside kick after the final touchdown, but it was recovered by — who else? — Pringle.

After using its second timeout, Oklahoma State’s defense hit a trifecta: it managed to sack Thompson, force a fumble in which it recovered, and knock Thompson out of the game with what appeared to be a right leg injury. He finished the game hitting 10-of-13 passes for 204 yards with three touchdowns while rushing 17 times for a game-high 93 yards and a touchdown. Barnes added 85 yards on 21 carries, and as a team Kansa State out-rushed Oklahoma State 219-85.

The Cowboys zipped down the field to register Rudolph’s fourth touchdown of the game, a 14-yard bullet to Dillon Stoner to pull the Pokes within 45-40 with 4:02 remaining. Rudolph’s 2-point pass was intercepted.

Needing a first down to win the game, Kansas State ran three straight direct snaps to Barnes, who managed only two yards. Oklahoma State got the ball back at its own 46 with 2:12 remaining, knowing a touchdown would win the game. Instead, they could not gain a yard. Rudolph fired incomplete on four consecutive passes, thereby dooming the Cowboys’ comeback efforts and sending Kansas State (6-5, 4-4 Big 12) into their first bowl game since 2015.

Oklahoma State (8-3, 5-3 Big 12) will finish its season and Rudolph’s record-breaking career against Kansas next Saturday in Stillwater, knowing the Pokes are playing solely to hold on to their top-25 ranking and bowl positioning, but not much more.

Ohio State win, Michigan loss hands Buckeyes B1G East, date with Wisconsin in league title game

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It may not have been as easy as most expected, but Ohio State’s exactly where most pundits thought they’d be heading into the postseason, at least conference-wise.

OSU came into today’s Week 12 action needed to take care of business against Illinois and have Michigan lose to Wisconsin in order to claim the Big East title this weekend.  Both came to fruition Saturday as the Badgers handled the Wolverines 24-10 while the Buckeyes throttled the Fighting Illini 52-14 in a game that wasn’t even as close as the final square may have indicated.

Following next weekend’s rivalry matchup with UM, OSU will move on to face No. 5 Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game.  If the Buckeyes can somehow manage wins in each of those two games, they could have an outside chance to become the first two-loss team to qualify for the College Football Playoff, although they would still need some help.  Unbeaten UW, meanwhile, would, provided it gets past Minnesota, likely earn a playoff berth with a conference championship.

OSU will be making its third title game appearance since the inaugural one was played in 2011, while UW will be playing in its sixth.  The two teams met in the 2014 edition of the game, with the Buckeyes’ 59-0 throttling of the Buckeyes providing the impetus for them to qualify for the first-ever playoff and, ultimately, win the national championship.

J.T. Barrett led the way to this latest title-game appearance for the Buckeyes, accounting for three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) in the win.  The seventh-year senior quarterback also became the first player in Big Ten history to throw for 100 career touchdowns.

On the ground, Mike Weber chipped in with 108 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

On to Atlanta: No. 7 Georgia responds to first loss by running right over Kentucky in SEC rout

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It’s been six days of hearing how they got run over. Six days of hearing how they couldn’t throw the ball. Six days of wondering how their offensive line would bounce back from embarrassment. Seven days after suffering their first loss of the season in humiliating fashion though, No. 7 Georgia bounced back by running right over SEC East rival Kentucky in a 42-13 rout that had the team looking a lot more like the one who was the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff just two weeks ago.

The Bulldogs’ victory was naturally fueled by their ground game, which was bottled up last week at Auburn but returned with a vengeance behind the two senior running backs who said their farewells to the hedges at Sanford Stadium with even more eye-popping numbers for the red and black. Nick Chubb led the way on a day where he also topped the 1,000 yard mark for the season, finishing with 151 yards and two scores — the last of which was a 55-yarder down the sidelines that delighted the crowd and will probably be replayed a few times at next spring’s NFL Draft. His teammate in the backfield, Sony Michel, wasn’t too shabby either with 87 yards and a trio of trips to the end zone as well.

Quarterback Jake Fromm managed to have an efficient outing in the passing game after shaking off an interception on the opening drive of the game. The freshman wound up with 123 yards in the air and threw a beautiful touchdown right into the waiting arms of Javon Wims in the first half. With both phases firing on all cylinders, especially from the second quarter on, Georgia rolled up over 500 yards of offense as afternoon turned into evening in Athens.

The Wildcats looked threatening early after grabbing that initial turnover and were generally hanging around until just before halftime. QB Stephen Johnson likely will spend most of the post-game in the ice tub after numerous hits from that ferocious front seven of the home team, luckily managing only to get sacked three times and throwing for 138 yards. Things were equally difficult for tailback Benny Snell, who was impressive in clawing his way to 94 yards and Kentucky’s only touchdown.

It wasn’t enough in the end however, as Georgia went a perfect 6-0 against the East division and wrapped up regular season play in the SEC with the victory. They’ll head to Atlanta the next weeks as they’ll take on in-state rival Georgia Tech next Saturday before heading to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to meet the winner of the Iron Bowl with a conference title and College Football Playoff spot on the line.

Coaches talk plenty about putting last week behind them and moving forward and it’s safe to say that’s the case for Kirby Smart’s team after another easy romp in conference play.