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No. 7 OU survives surge from No. 18 TCU to move one win shy of Big 12 title

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Across the state, No. 10 Baylor rode a strong second half performance from its third-string quarterback to an important win. That same formula nearly worked to perfection for No. 18 TCU, but Bram Kohlhausen‘s go-ahead two-point pass was batted away by Oklahoma’s Steven Parker and the 7th-ranked Sooners survived, 30-29.

TCU jumped out to an early lead on a pair of long passes from freshman starter Foster Sawyer to Kolby Listenbee, but Oklahoma’s defense and running game dominated the rest of the half as the Sooners cruised to a 23-7 lead.

But OU quarterback Baker Mayfield sustained a head injury after taking a blow to the helmet from TCU’s Ty Summers in the first half, and team doctors pulled the Sooners’ quarterback from the game over halftime.

The complexion of the game completely changed from that moment on.

Oklahoma’s offense ground mostly to a halt with 2014 starter Trevor Knight back under center, producing six punts, an interception, a missed field goal and a turnover on downs on all but one drive. The other? A 72-yard Samaje Perine scoring dash.

Perine’s run pushed Oklahoma’s lead to 30-13 with 7:55 to play in the third quarter, and the score remained that way until Kohlhausen hit Kavontae Turpin for an 86-yard touchdown pass with 8:59 remaining.

The Frogs added a 43-yard Jaden Oberkrom field goal with 6:27 remaining, then a 14-yard scoring toss from Kohlhausen to Emmanuel Porter with just 51 ticks remaining. Instead of playing for overtime, Gary Patterson opted to go for two and the win, and Kohlhausen’s scrambling toss was deflected by Parker.

Sawyer started the game for TCU and played like a freshman making his first start on the road, completing 8-of-18 throws for 107 yards with the early touchdown and three interceptions. Kohlhausen hit 5-of-11 passes for 122 yards with two touchdowns while rushing twice for 10 yards. Aaron Green rushed 23 times for 126 yards and a score.

Mayfield completed 9-of-20 attempts for 127 yards and two scores while rushing 10 times for 42 yards before giving way to Knight. Knight’s performance validated Mayfield’s position as a starter, as he hit only 5-of-16 throws for 76 yards and an interception.

Perine led the way for Oklahoma with 188 yards and a score on 26 carries. As a team, Oklahoma out-rushed TCU 333-161.

The win pushes Oklahoma (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) into a game with Oklahoma State in Stillwater where the Sooners can clinch a Big 12 title and (at worst) Sugar Bowl berth with a victory. In addition to threats from Notre Dame and others, the Sooners will have to battle style points questions after nearly blowing a big lead against a TCU team playing without Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson.

TCU (9-2, 6-2 Big 12) is eliminated from conference championship contention with the loss, resorting to spoiler status against Baylor’s quest for a third straight Big 12 title Friday in Fort Worth.

Alabama and Clemson remain top two national title favorites according to Bovada

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Alabama and Clemson appear to be on a collision course for a third straight meeting in the College Football Playoff national championship, and the Crimson Tide and defending national champion Tigers remain the top two favorites to win the national championship this season, according to the latest updated odds from Bovada.

Alabama’s odds have moved to 19/10 after being 2/1 last week. Right behind Alabama is Clemson at 9/2 a week after having 11/2 odds. Despite having one loss on their record already, the Ohio State Buckeyes remain in the thick of the race as well with the third-best national title odds after four weeks of play. Ohio State is listed at 7/1 by Bovada, staying ahead of USC (15/2) and Oklahoma (8/1) despite a head-to-head loss to the Sooners in Columbus in Week 2.

Penn State comes in at 10/1, followed by Michigan at 12/1. Georgia is on the rise as well with 14/1 odds to stay ahead of Washington (16/1). The biggest drop of the week was by Oklahoma State, who fell from 9/1 to 20/1 after a home loss to TCU. The Horned Frogs jumped up from 75/1 to 33/1 this week.

Bovada also updated their Heisman Trophy odds, with Penn State running back Saquon Barkley moving to the top of the board.

Saquon Barkley ascends to top of Bovada’s Heisman Trophy board

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Coming off a monster performance against Iowa, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is now the new leader in the clubhouse for the Heisman Trophy, according to Bovada at least.

Bovada’s weekly updated Heisman odds put Barkley atop the Heisman board with 7/4 odds. He moves ahead of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, USC quarterback Sam Darnold, and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville, and separates himself from Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph.

Barkley has rushed for 518 yards with four rushing touchdowns in the first four weeks of the season. That alone would not be worthy of such high Heisman praise, of course, but Barkley has shown how good he is by contributing to the Penn State passing game. Barkley currently leads the Big Ten with 23 receptions and a conference-leading 335 receiving yards. Barkley has also added some yards on special teams returns, although he has not broken loose for a significant kickoff return just yet.

Barkley is not the only running back moving up Bovada’s board, however. Stanford running back Bryce Love went from 66/1 up to 33/1 following a big performance against UCLA. LOve is currently the nation’s leading rusher.

Two players were dropped from the Bovada board this week. Ohio State freshman running back J.K. Dobbins went from having 25/1 odds last week to off the board this week. I’m not entirely sure why Dobbins fell off the map so quickly, but he’ll have a chance to pop back on the board in the coming weeks. LSU running back Derrius Guice also fell off the board this week after having 50/1 odds last week.

Rutgers loses CB Blessuan Austin to season-ending ACL injury

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Rutgers cornerback Blessuan Austin will miss the remainder of the 2017 season after suffering a season-ending ACL injury on the road at Nebraska this past weekend. Rutgers head coach Chris Ash confirmed the unfortunate news for the Scarlet Knights at a press conference Monday morning.

“As most of you know, Blessuan Austin came out of that game,” Ash said, per NJ.com. “It was confirmed yesterday with an MRI that he has a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season.”

With Austin now gone for the rest of the season just as Big Ten play opened up, Rutgers will bump Damon Hayes into the spot as a starter in the secondary.

“He played in place of Blessuan and did some good things. He has to continue to improve and develop,” Ash explained. “But I really like Damon and excited for him to go out and have this opportunity and be a full-time starter.”

Rutgers is currently ranked fifth in the Big Ten in passing defense with an average of 179.5 passing yards allowed per game, with five touchdowns allowed and five interceptions. Austin, a junior, had recorded one of those interceptions.

Luke Del Rio back in the saddle as Florida’s starting QB

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Before the headlines in Gainesville took a rough turn for the worst off the field, Florida head coach Jim McElwain created some news with addressing the offense. This week, Luke Del Rio will be the starting quarterback for the Gators.

This comes as little surprise for a team that has been struggling on offense for the majority of the season. Despite a miracle finish against Tennessee two weeks ago, Feleipe Franks struggled on the road against Kentucky, forcing McElwain to make a switch to get Del Rio back in the fold on the field. As a result, whether coincidence or not, Del Rio led the Gators to avoid the school’s first loss to Kentucky in over three decades.

First up for Del Rio as the Florida starter will be Vanderbilt, who comes off a drubbing at the hands of Alabama. Before the Crimson Tide came to Nashville, the Commodores were hailed as having one of the top defenses in the SEC outside of Tuscaloosa. This will be no easy task for Del Rio and the Gators against Vanderbilt because they still do not have the kind of offense that can overpower their opponent the way Alabama can.

Florida has a long way to go, but we’ll see if Del Rio can keep any momentum on their side for more than one week.