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Texas rallies for crucial win over No. 8 Baylor

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If beating Baylor is a requisite for keeping his job, Charlie Strong may have done just that. Barely.

The Longhorns rallied from eight points down in the fourth quarter, capped by a 39-yard screwball of a Trent Domingue field goal with 46 seconds remaining, to hand No. 8 Baylor its first loss and improve to 4-4 on the season with a 35-34 win. Arriving into Saturday’s game losing four of his last five games, Strong needed to beat Baylor to avoid continuing a streak that has seen every Texas coach since 1951 lose to Baylor in his final season.

Baylor opened up a 7-0 lead but Texas scored 23 of the game’s next 30 points thanks to the Foreman brothers — wide receiver Armanti and running back D’Onta — and some timely defense. The brothers accounted for all 88 yards on the Longhorns’ first touchdown drive to tie the game and, after P.J. Locke snared a tipped interception on the first play of Baylor’s next possession, D'Onta Foreman raced 37 yards to give Texas a 14-7 lead just 3:55 into the game.

After Baylor tied the game on the ensuing possession, Armanti Foreman inadvertently set up Texas’s next score when he fumbled a long completion from Shane Buechele (291 passing yards, two touchdowns) at the 2-yard line. Texas forced a safety by way of a holding call on the next snap, re-claiming the lead at 16-14 at the 8:43 mark of the second quarter, and D’Onta Foreman pushed the advantage to 23-14 with a 9-yard run with 6:35 to play.

The Bears responded by registering four of the game’s next five scores, including a 15-yard strike to K.D. Cannon with just nine seconds left before the break. Baylor took the lead at 28-26 with a 2-yard Terence Williams run at the 8:21 mark of the third quarter, and two Chris Callahan field goals — from 24 and 27 yards, it’s worth noting — nudged the advantage to 34-26 midway through the fourth quarter. Despite rushing for 398 yards on the day, Baylor could not convert a pair of 1st-and-goal situations, and that inability ultimately cost them the game.

Texas marched 79 yards, capped by a 7-yard strike to tight end Andrew Beck, to pull within 34-32 with 7:03 to play, but the Longhorns put the ball in Swoopes’s hands and not Foreman — who entered Saturday as the nation’s second-leading rusher and carried for a career-high 250 yards today. Swoopes was stuffed.

Baylor moved the ball on the ensuing possession from its own 22 to a 1st-and-10 at the UT 29 with 3:47 to play, but lost eight yards on a sack of Seth Russell, a 2-yard loss by running back JaMychal Hasty and an incomplete pass, forcing a punt. Texas traveled 58 yards to set up Domingue’s game-winning field goal and, rather than heave the ball down the field, Baylor attempted to move in position for a game-stealing field goal through a series of Russell designed keepers — despite having only 46 seconds to work with and no timeouts. They didn’t come close.

Akron earns second-ever spot in MAC championship game

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Akron came into Week 13 needing to either win or rely on someone else to lose.  In the end, the Zips decided to just go ahead and punch their own ticket to the Motor City, thank you very much.

Jumping out to a 24-7 halftime lead Tuesday night, that margin proved to be more than enough for Akron as they easily cruised past rival Kent State in a 24-14 win.  Kent actually outgained its hosts 246-191, but a fumble return for a touchdown with less than 20 seconds left in the second quarter essentially sealed the win for Akron.

Both Akron and Ohio entered this week tied atop the MAC East at 5-2.  However, the Zips beat the Bobcats in Week 12, meaning Akron is the first MAC team to claim a spot in the conference championship game at Detroit’s Ford Field next weekend.

This will mark the Zips’s second-ever title-game appearance, with the first coming in 2005.  That season, Akron beat Northern Illinois 31-30 for its first-ever conference championship.

Akron will play either NIU (6-1) or Toledo (6-1) in this year’s title game, although it’s trending heavily toward the Rockets as they own the head-to-head with the Huskies.  So, the possibilities?

Toledo wins the West with either a win over Western Michigan OR an NIU loss. Northern Illinois needs to beat Central Michigan AND have Toledo lose to WMU at home to win the division.

Report: Florida appears ready to move on from Chip Kelly pursuit if deal isn’t consummated soon

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Florida’s search for a new head coach could very shortly be ready to take another twist.

Despite a certain former Head Ball Coach saying UF’s new head coach would be a current one, speculation on Jim McElwain‘s replacement has seemingly centered on Chip Kelly over the last few days. In fact, a group of UF officials headed by athletic director Scott Stricklin and president Kent Fuchs visited with Kelly in New Hampshire over the weekend to discuss the job.

While it walks, talks and smells like the university has targeted Kelly as its top choice, it appears they want an answer, one way or the other, from the former Oregon head coach sooner rather than later. From Yahoo! SportsPat Forde:

But with other potential candidates becoming available for discussion this weekend, Florida officials appear to be ready to move on shortly after Thanksgiving if a deal has not been struck with Kelly.

Potentially mucking up the works in Gainesville is UCLA, which fired Jim Mora Sunday and is also said to be targeting Kelly as a replacement.  In fact, it’s being reported that the Bruins’ search contingent has already met with Kelly.

UCF’s Scott Frost, who is believed to be Nebraska’s top choice when/when it moves on from Mike Riley, and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen are thought to be likely targets should either Kelly snub the Gators or they move on.

One very likely reason for UF’s reported urgency for a decision from Kelly is the revamped recruiting calendar. This year marks the first time that there’s an early signing period in football, with Class of 2018 recruits given a 72-hour window from Dec. 20-22 to sign their National Letters of Intent.

The sooner UF can wrap up its search, the sooner its new coach and his staff can try to hold together some semblance of a first recruiting class with the program – especially with two SEC programs, Tennessee and Ole Miss, already looking for a head coach while a couple of others (Arkansas, Texas A&M) could be on the hunt as early as this coming weekend as well.

Miami jumps Clemson, Wisconsin remains No. 5 in latest CFP rankings

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The third-to-last edition of the College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night, and the only changes in the top 12 came at spot No. 2, where Miami jumped Clemson ahead of the pair’s ACC title clash on Dec. 2.

USC remained the highest-ranked Pac-12 team at No. 11, dimming any hopes the Pac-12 could back-door its way into the top four should chaos reign elsewhere. The Trojans were one spot ahead of TCU and two spots ahead of the Pac-12’s second-highest ranked team in Washington State. Central Florida again led all Group of 5 teams at No. 15.

Virginia Tech re-joined the rankings at No. 25, one spot behind the debut rankings for South Carolina.

The top 25:

1. Alabama
2. Miami
3. Clemson
4. Oklahoma
5. Wisconsin
6. Auburn
7. Georgia
8. Notre Dame
9. Ohio State
10. Penn State
11. USC
12. TCU
13. Washington State
14. Mississippi State
15. Central Florida
16. Michigan State
17. Washington
18. LSU
19. Oklahoma State
20. Memphis
21. Stanford
22. Northwestern
23. Boise State
24. South Carolina
25. Virginia Tech

Report: LSU victory would not save Kevin Sumlin’s job

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Kevin Sumlin said Tuesday afternoon he expects to be Texas A&M’s head coach in 2018. A report Tuesday night says otherwise.

Sumlin will be fired in the day or days following Saturday’s game with No. 20 LSU, win or lose, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle. The Aggies are 0-5 against LSU under Sumlin and double-digit underdogs for Saturday’s game in Baton Rouge. The Chronicle‘s report is not the first to proclaim Sumlin’s future firing, but it is the most definitive.

Sumlin is 7-4 (4-3 SEC) this season and 51-25 overall, a mark that ranks in the top-third of the SEC since joining the league in 2012 — but Sumlin is not paid to deliver top-third results. His program failed to live up to the standard set in that debut campaign, with an 11-2 mark, a win in Tuscaloosa, a Cotton Bowl blowout of Oklahoma and a Heisman Trophy for Johnny Manziel.

The Chronicle reported that Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher will be A&M’s top target to replace Sumlin.