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Surprise in Stillwater! Oklahoma State upsets No. 10 West Virginia

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Oklahoma State (6-2, 4-1 Big 12) was in danger of letting a 17-point lead evaporate in the second half against No. 10 West Virginia (6-1, 3-1 Big 12), but the Cowboys held on and pulled away to hand the Mountaineers their first loss of the season, 37-20. The result may effectively put another nail in the coffin for the Big 12’s playoff hopes and also adds another ingredient to the Big 12 championship picture.

West Virginia pulled to within seven points of Oklahoma State in the fourth quarter when Skyler Howard ran 12 yards to the end zone for a score and Mike Molina kicked a short 21-yard field goal after Oklahoma State went three-and-out in between. Oklahoma State then flipped a switch to put the game away with an answering touchdown drive (Mason Rudolph to Chris Lacy) and an interception of Howard that ultimately led to a field goal by Ben Grogan for a little more breathing room. West Virginia would run out of time from there.

West Virginia committed three turnovers in the game, which led to 17 points for Oklahoma State. The two Oklahoma State touchdowns off turnovers also only had to travel a combined 17 yards, and the field goal came on a 4th and goal from the six-yard line (following a delay of game penalty). Turnovers have a way of influencing a game, and they certainly had an impact in the decision of this Big 12 tilt.

It is the first time West Virginia has taken a loss, and it may be another tough blow to the Big 12’s playoff hopes. As it stands right now, the big 12 likely needs Baylor to run the table the rest of the way, because Oklahoma already has two losses, as does Oklahoma State. One loss is not quite an official eliminator for West Virginia, and they do get two of their toughest remaining games at home (Oklahoma and Baylor), but the path to the College Football Playoff for a second straight season is getting more treacherous for the Big 12 without getting help elsewhere.

Oklahoma State now is in the Big 12 hunt, which is not a huge shock. Oklahoma State does have a head-to-head loss against Baylor, but they will play Oklahoma in the final game of the regular season. The Big 12 could potentially be on the line in that game, which should create quite a raucous atmosphere in Norman on December 3. But Oklahoma State heads to Kansas State first next week and still has Texas Tech and TCU to get through first.

West Virgina will look to bounce back next week at home against Kansas.

Penn State trustee says he’s ‘running out of patience’ with ‘so-called victims’ of Jerry Sandusky

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With Baylor seemingly running away with the title of most embarrassing university in collegiate athletics, a Penn State trustee has said “hold my beer.”

Friday, former Penn State president Graham Spanier was found guilty on one count of endangering the welfare of children in a trial related to his role in the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.  In an email to the Chronicle of Higher Education this week, PSU trustee Albert Lord had sharp words for the victims of Sandusky, who was found guilty on 45 of 48 child-sex abuse charges in June of 2012 and is currently serving a sentence of at least 30 years.

“Running out of sympathy for 35 yr old, so-called victims with 7 digit net worth,” the trustee wrote in a portion of the email. “Do not understand why they were so prominent in trial. As you learned, Graham Spanier never knew Sandusky abused anyone.”

Spanier was found not guilty on two other charges, a second count of child endangerment and one count of criminal conspiracy.

In a statement, the chairman of the school’s board of trustees, Ira Lubert, attempted to distance the body from Lord’s comments.

“Al Lord’s comments are personal and do not represent the opinions of the board or the university.”

Sun Belt commish issues statement on Arkansas gun law

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A highly-charged state law continues to garner the attention of the college football world.

Last week, the state of Arkansas legislature passed a law (House Bill 1249) that would allow concealed-carry handguns on publicly-owned property, which would include college sporting events.  A day later, and after realizing, amidst considerable controversy, the potential for alcohol-fueled fans to attend an SEC football game armed, the state’s senate voted to amend the law to exclude college sporting events.

The amendment still must pass through the House of Representatives, leading SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, with the University of Arkansas as a member of his conference, to release a statement Tuesday that was no doubt meant to apply pressure ahead of the vote.  Thursday, the Sun Belt’s commissioner, Karl Benson, followed suit out of concern for his membership, including Arkansas State in football.

During the last week I have followed closely the news articles regarding Arkansas House Bill 1249, and now also a potential amendment to what is now Act 562. Given that both the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Arkansas State University are members of the Sun Belt Conference — and as my colleague Greg Sankey of the Southeastern Conference has stated — I too support the Arkansas State Senate’s exemption in Senate Bill 724 that would prevent firearms from being allowed inside publicly funded stadiums and arenas in the State of Arkansas.

It’s unclear when the House will vote on the amendment.  Regardless of which version of thew law is finally agreed upon, it will go into effect Sept. 1.

Arkansas opens its 2017 season Sept. 2 against Florida A&M in Fayetteville.  Arkansas State’s home opener is a week later against the Miami (Fla.).

Foot injury could sideline Auburn’s Tashawn Manning for rest of spring

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After kicking cancer’s ass, this latest health issue hardly qualifies as a big deal.  Still, it’s a thing.

Tashawn Manning has been battling an unspecified foot injury of late, which has limited the defensive tackle’s availability for most of the first two-thirds of Auburn’s spring practice sessions.  With just five practices remaining, Manning could very well be sidelined for al of them.

“The problem is this is Day 9 and Saturday will be Day 11, so there’s a probability” that the player will not see the field for what remains of spring practice, Manning’s position coach, Rodney Garner, said according to al.com.

Around Thanksgiving of 2015, Manning, then an Auburn verbal commit, was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia.  In July of last year, he was finished with chemotherapy and declared cancer-free.

The defensive lineman didn’t play at all last season, instead taking online classes as he built up his strength as well as his weight after losing more than 60 pounds because of the chemo.  In January, he enrolled at AU and, two months later, was cleared to participate in the spring.

Suspended Mich. St. staffer receives one-MONTH contract extension

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A disturbing situation in East Lansing has added a head-scratching twist.

According to ESPN.com, and by way of a Freedom of Information request, Michigan State football staffer Curtis Blackwell was on the receiving end of a one-month contract extension earlier this month.  Blackwell, whose title with the football program is director of college advancement and performance, was set to see his contract expire at the end of this week.

What makes this development noteworthy is that Blackwell has been indefinitely suspended by the Spartans since early February.

Around that time, it was confirmed by the university that three still-unnamed MSU football players had been suspended after allegations of sexual assault were made against them last month.  An unnamed football staffer was suspended at the time as well; that staffer was subsequently identified as Blackwell.

A police investigation, as well as a Title IX probe, into the allegations continue.  Blackwell is not accused of participating in the alleged sexual assault, but rather a non-sexual crime that’s connected to the investigation.

Mark Dantonio hadn’t spoken publicly about the allegations until earlier this week, and the head coach probably would’ve been better served to have kept it that way.