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Oklahoma Statement: No. 14 Pokes thrash No. 8 TCU

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Who among us woke up this morning skeptical of Oklahoma State’s place among the Big 12 championship and College Football Playoff contenders? (Raises both hands and feet.) The Cowboys entered Saturday’s date with No. 8 TCU at the back of the line in the Big 12 and nationally, and with good reason: they needed significant help from the zebras to beat Texas and Kansas State, and needed overtime to dispatch a West Virginia team Baylor, Oklahoma and these Frogs crushed.

But Oklahoma State won those games, and Saturday they won another that announced themselves as serious contenders for the Big 12 championship and beyond. The 14th-ranked Cowboys jumped on the favored Frogs and never let up, stomping their way to a dominant 49-29 win.

Though Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson garnered most of the hype entering the game, it was the connection between Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph and James Washington that proved unstoppable. Rudolph opened the scoring four minutes in with a 48-yard connection to Washington and, after a one-yard Boykin touchdown run, encored with a 50-yard score two plays later to push the Pokes’ lead to 14-6 with 6:02 remaining in the first quarter.

After a Jaden Oberkrom field goal pulled the Frogs within 14-9 to close the first quarter, Rudolph again tossed a pair of scoring strikes to give Oklahoma State complete control of the game. The first came on a 12-yard catch-and-dash to Jeff Carr with 13:37 to go before the half, and the second was an 82-yard bomb to Marcell Ateman with 7:57 remaining in the frame.

At the time of the Ateman touchdown, Rudolph had completed 9-of-13 throws for 231 yards and four touchdowns. But he didn’t stop there. Rudolph effectively closed his day – and the game – with another long distance gift to Washington, this time from 74 yards out to give the Cowboys a 42-16 lead with 8:07 remaining in the third quarter. The sophomore finished with 352 yards and five touchdowns (with no interceptions) on 16-of-24 passing, while Washington corralled five of those throws for 184 yards and three scores.

Thanks to a ball-hawking defense and a quick strike offense, Oklahoma State’s six touchdown drives covered a total of 332 yards and needed only 16 snaps to do so.

Boykin racked up his customary numbers (445 passing yards, 73 rushing, three total touchdowns), but he was just as much a help as a hindrance to the Frogs’ efforts. He tossed four interceptions on the day: the first led to Oklahoma State’s first touchdown, Chad Whitener returned the second to the 1-yard line (setting up a one-yard J.W. Walsh run), and Whitener finished the job on Boykin’s fourth pick, slamming the door with a pick six with just 44 seconds remaining. Boykin also saw two scoring chances end on failed fourth down conversions deep in Cowboy territory; the first on an incomplete pass to Kolby Listenbee from the OSU 14 with the score 21-9 in the second quarter, the second on a rush for no gain from the OSU 1 that ended any realistic comeback chance with 5:21 remaining.

Worst of all for TCU, Doctson (six grabs for 64 yards) left the game after injuring his left wrist securing a 12-yard reception late in the second quarter and did not return.

And that leads to the larger theme of the game: Oklahoma State (9-0, 6-0 Big 12) and TCU (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) effectively switched places in the Big 12’s round-robin title race. The Cowboys – this ferocious Cowboys team – jumps to the front of the line of contenders thanks to a schedule that sees Baylor visit Stillwater on Nov. 21 and Oklahoma follow a week after.

TCU will lick its wounds against Kansas next week in Fort Worth before again crossing the Red River to face Oklahoma on Nov. 21 before hosting Baylor six days later.

 

Nick Saban thinks skipping bowl games could lead to recruits doing same thing in high school

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Grand Poobah of college football and Alabama head coach Nick Saban has had some interesting ideas about the sport over the years that conflict with the general consensus of his peers. The latest subject to fit that mold? How players like Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey skipping their bowl games could filter down to the high school level with recruits.

“Same thing will happen in high school if they make the signing day before the season,” Saban told CBS Sports. “It will take a few years, then some kid will say, ‘Hey, I’m going to Notre Dame. I’m not playing my senior year.'”

The Crimson Tide coach is referencing not only the two tailbacks skipping bowl games but also the possibility that upcoming December signing date could be moved up on the calendar. Big 12 commissioner (and chairman of the Football Oversight Committee) Bob Bowlsby said at his conference media days that the date for signing could be changed or even extended to a longer signing period as part of ongoing discussions about the recruiting process.

Talk of players signing with a college prior to their senior season in high school has not been broadly talked about by coaches or administrators but it does seem like everything is on the table when it comes to NCAA reforms in this area. It remains to be seen if any recruit will actually go as far as sitting out a full year in order to protect himself from injury in order to play in college… just as it remains questionable as to whether Fournette and McCaffrey’s decisions will develop into a broader trend at the college level.

Coaches are no fans of dramatically altering the status quo and it seems Saban is among the group who want to stem the postseason defection of players before things turn into a regular occurrence at any level of football.

Coastal Carolina coach Joe Mogila has precautionary surgery on trachea

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Coastal Carolina is one of the newest members of the FBS ranks and the program’s first ever Sun Belt conference media day was supposed to be one of the highlights for the school transitioning the ranks in college football. Unfortunately for the Chanticleers, their head coach won’t be able to make it following a health scare.

The Sun Belt released a statement Friday afternoon saying that Coastal Carolina assistant Jamey Chadwell will represent the team at media day after head coach Joe Mogila “had a precancerous nodule on his trachea and doctors wanted it removed as a precaution.”

The 68-year-old Mogila is perhaps best known to those outside the sport for his time on Wall Street, including a productive stint as CEO of the company now known as TD Ameritrade. He got the itch to coach college football however and has been in charge of the Chanticleers since 2012, leading the program to a 51–15 record at the FCS level.

Chadwell was named CCU’s offensive coordinator this past January after previously serving as head coach at Charleston Southern. Neither the school or the conference indicated any timetable for Mogila’s recovery but based on the release it seems the operation was a success and the coach is now recovering.

Coastal Carolina opens the season on September 2nd against UMass in what will be the school’s first game as a FBS program.

So it begins… Ole Miss recruit decommits after Hugh Freeze departure

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It didn’t take long before Ole Miss to suffer on the recruiting trail from the abrupt departure of Hugh Freeze as head coach on Thursday evening.

In what was probably only a matter of time (just a few hours as it turns out), Rebels 2019 Houston (Tex.) cornerback recruit Bobby Wolfe confirmed to ESPN that he had decommitted from the program on Thursday night following Freeze’s resignation. Several other recruiting services also confirmed the news and noted that many of Ole Miss’ 2018 commitments are starting to have second thoughts about the situation in Oxford.

That the team is struggling to pull in recruits like they were in Freeze’s heyday when the Rebels were a regular in the top 10 of the recruiting rankings is not exactly surprising. Even before the head coach was shown the door, the school was dealing with the fallout from an ongoing NCAA infractions case and are facing the possibility that their bowl ban will extend beyond the self-imposed sit-out of the 2017 season.

With Wolfe no longer committed, Ole Miss doesn’t have a single 2019 pledge according to 247Sports and has just 10 players in the 2018 class — all of whom are three-stars or lower — that currently sits 11th in the conference team rankings. As for the Texas cornerback, he recently picked up an offer from SEC rival LSU and had Baylor extend a verbal scholarship offer not long after re-opening his recruitment.

Former 49ers executive reportedly joining Jim Harbaugh in Ann Arbor

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Jim Harbaugh is reaching back to his NFL days for the latest hire at Michigan.

Veteran Bay Area journalist Tim Kawakami reports that recent San Francisco 49ers personnel executive Tom Gamble is headed to Ann Arbor to join the Wolverines staff.

According to the fine folks over at sister site ProFootballTalk, Gamble left the 49ers in February shortly after John Lynch was hired by the franchise as general manager. He worked with Harbaugh when their tenures with San Francisco overlapped in 2011 and 2012 before Gamble eventually departed for a two-year stint with the Philadelphia Eagles.

It’s unclear what role specifically Gamble will take with the Wolverines as Harbaugh already hired a new director of player personnel this year by bringing Sean Magee over from Navy. The former 49ers executive doesn’t have much college experience in the past few decades beyond scouting so it will be interesting to see what his official title at Michigan will be once formally announced by the school.

Either way, it seems like Harbaugh is fully investing in off-the-field roles like his peers at Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State and he is not shying away from reaching into the NFL ranks to do so.