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Bear Trap: Oklahoma State dismantles Baylor, controls Big 12

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For the first time this season, the No. 4 Baylor  (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) offense was not invincible. In fact, at teams it was impotent. Perhaps it was the venue, where the Bears have not won in 74 years, or perhaps it was the first time the Bears were met by an opponent capable of scoring and defending everything Baylor does well. No. 10 Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) played about as perfect a game you could play in a 49-17 taming of Baylor.

Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf had his second career 300-yard passing performance with 337 yards, a new career high. both of Chelf’s 300-yard games have come against Baylor. The Cowboys quarterback threw two touchdown passes before getting a rest in the fourth quarter. He completed 18 of 24 attempts. his top target was Tracy Moore, who had five catches for 126 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys outscored Baylor 35-14 in the second half after taking a statement 14-3 lead to the half.

If you watched Baylor for the first time this season on Saturday night you may have never guessed it, but Baylor’s offense came in to the game averaging 61.2 points and amassing 683 yards of total offense per game. That is how good Oklahoma State played on the defensive side of the football. Baylor’s pass offense was shut down by an aggressive defensive secondary, with Oklahoma State not allowing Antwan Goodley, Levi Norwood or Clay Fuller much room to work with as they have most of the season. Baylor’s recently emerging Heisman candidate at quarterback, Bryce Petty, had a rough night from start to finish, ending his night completing 28 of 48 attempts for 359 yards and two touchdowns. Most of those yards came in the second half when the game was well out of hand. Petty also missed a snap and failed to cover it up before Oklahoma State’s Tyler Patmon and returned 78 yards for a touchdown. That particular sequence ay have altered the entire momentum of the game, as Baylor was on the door step and about to cut a 25-point deficit down to 17 points with time to play. It still would have been an uphill climb for Baylor, but it would have been less steep.

Oklahoma State now has complete control of the Big 12 race with one game to play. The Cowboys get a week off before hosting rival Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2 Big 12) in the annual Bedlam game. A win by Oklahoma State will clinch the Big 12 championship and the automatic BCS berth that goes with it.That would send Oklahoma State to their second BCS bowl game in three seasons if they can finish the job against the Sooners.

Baylor’s BCS chances took a bit of a hit, but it is still too early to completely rule out the Bears from the BCS bowl picture. While the BCS championship game is now out of the mix, Baylor can still be in play for an at-large bid. It may be a reach, but if Baylor ends the season with regular season wins against TCU and Texas, Baylor could remain an option for a BCS bowl game. The problem is Fresno State or Northern Illinois are currently in line to grab one of the BCS spots, leaving one less spot available to an at-large option from a power conference.

Of course, Baylor can still win the Big 12 if they win their next two games and Oklahoma tops Oklahoma State.

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.”

Reports: Lane Kiffin to FAU hits stumbling block

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 11:  Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin of the Alabama Crimson Tide walks on the field before the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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As of last night, there was a deal in place for Lane Kiffin to become the next head coach at Florida Atlantic.

As of Saturday morning, it appears the deal is off.

FootballScoop, who broke the news of the two sides’ talking, reported Saturday morning that the talks hit a “stumbling block.” (Full disclosure: I also write for FootballScoop.)

ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit corroborated that report on SportsCenter.

Herbstreit went as far as saying Kiffin, back in Tuscaloosa, was back on the market pursuing offensive coordinator jobs. That would be good news for LSU, who has placed him as their top target to serve as Ed Orgeron‘s offensive coordinator.