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Joe Mixon stars as No. 7 OU overpowers No. 14 Auburn in Sugar Bowl

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Oklahoma’s stars shined as the seventh-ranked Sooners pulled away from an overmatched No. 14 Auburn, cruising to a 35-19 Sugar Bowl victory on Monday night.

The Sooners were led by Joe Mixon, the center of attention both on and off the field throughout the night. Trailing 7-0 early in the second quarter and facing a 3rd-and-22 (one play after a Carl Lawson offsides penalty negated what would have been an Auburn stop), Mixon hauled in a 32-yard reception to extend the drive. Baker Mayfield tied the game five plays later on a 13-yard touchdown pass to Mark Andrews.

After a Daniel Carlson field goal nudged Auburn back in front, Mixon gave Oklahoma (11-2) a lead it would not relinquish when he plunged in from three yards out to put the Sooners up 14-10 with 3:37 to play in the first half. Mixon later added a 4-yard touchdown run and finished the night rushing 19 times for 91 yards and two touchdowns with a game-high five grabs for 89 yards.

That’s not to say Mixon was the only star of the night for Oklahoma, though. Mayfield (19-of-28 passing for 296 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, four rushes for 34 yards) connected with Dede Westbrook six times for 59 yards and a 7-yard touchdown strike on the first drive of the third quarter. Needing 83 yards to top Billy Sims‘s all-time rushing record of 4,118 yards (including bowl games), Samaje Perine carried 16 times for 86 yards and a 2-yard touchdown. He finishes his third season in Norman with 4,121 career rushing yards.

Overall, Oklahoma rushed 43 times for 228 yards (5.3 a carry) and rolled up 524 total yards on 7.38 yards per play.

Auburn (8-5) started the game extremely well, opening with a ground-based 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive punctuated by a 3-yard Chandler Cox touchdown plunge on a 4th-and-2. But quarterback Sean White reportedly broke his arm on a rush one play before that and, though he would go on to play most of the first half, was ultimately replaced by John Franklin III. Franklin led Auburn to a second Carlson field goal to pull the Tigers within 14-13 at the half but did not dent the scoreboard in the second half before leaving with an injury of his own. Jeremy Johnson finished the game for Auburn; the three signal callers combined to complete 12-of-26 passes for 153 yards with an end zone interception tossed by Johnson. Kamryn Pettway led all rushers with 24 carries for 101 yards, and Kerryon Johnson rushed nine times for 33 yards. Johnson also tossed a 1-yard jump pass touchdown to Jalen Harris on the final play of the game, a play Auburn coach Gus Malzahn called two timeouts to set up with his team trailing by 22 at the time.

The win extends Oklahoma’s winning streak over the hated SEC to four games, its overall winning streak to 10 and, equally important in this College Football Playoff era, pushes the Big 12 into 2017 with a 4-2 overall bowl record, including two wins over the SEC in three tries.

USC the media’s choice to win 2017 Pac-12 title

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Thanks to how they finished the 2016 season, USC is getting substantial preseason love heading into the 2017 season.  Not surprisingly, that affection continued Wednesday.

At the Pac-12 Media Days Wednesday, 28 of the 52 media members covering the conference picked USC to win the league’s title this season.  Another 22 picked reigning champion Washington to defend its title, while there was one vote each for Oregon and Utah.

Both USC and UW received 49 first-place votes when it comes to winning the South and North divisions, respectively.  Oregon, Stanford and Washington State received one first-place vote each to win the North Division, while Colorado, UCLA and Utah received the same for the South crown.

Also of note from the opening of media days:

  • The Pac-12 Championship Game will remain at Levi’s Stadium through the 2019 season, with an option for 2020 as well.  The home of the San Francisco 49ers has been the venue for the conference’s last two title games.  New NFL stadiums in Inglewood and Las Vegas will be options beyond that.
  • Halftime of games broadcasted on Pac-12 Networks will be reduced from 20 minutes to 15.  In an attempt to further shorten the length of games, commercial breaks during those games will be reduced as well. “We are trying to be progressive and experiment with ways to manage the game presentation through a reduction of TV timeouts and some of the 30-second commercial spots,” commissioner Larry Scott said as the league targets three hours as the ideal game time.
  • The conference has centralized its replay reviews for all 12 teams this season after experimenting with centralization for two teams in 2016.

USC confirms K Matt Boermeester won’t return to Trojans

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What was rumored a few months ago has been confirmed.

In early February, USC announced that an unspecified code of conduct issue had led the football program to indefinitely suspend Matt Boermeester.  At the time, reports had an incident involving the placekicker’s ex-girlfriend as the trigger for the suspension, although no details surrounding that situation were released.

Fast-forward to late July, and the school officially confirmed that Boermeester is no longer a Trojan.

“Boermeester… won’t return because of a student code of conduct issue,” the football program wrote in its preseason notes package.

In his first season as USC’s starting kicker last year, Boermeester connected on 75 percent of his 25 field goal attempts and all but one of his 54 point afters.  His 46-yard field goal with no time left on the clock pushed USC past Penn State in an epic comeback win in the Rose Bowl.

The 18 field goals on which Boermeester connected in 2016 were one shy of tying the school’s single-season record.

Michael Brown is the only other kicker currently listed on USC’s online roster.  Brown has yet to attempt a kick at the collegiate level.

Report: Ole Miss wants NCAA to require two Miss. St. players to attend hearing

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Thanks to off-field events, the Egg Bowl rivalry has ratcheted up a notch or 12 in the last week or so — after ratcheting up several levels the previous months.

Monday, ESPN.com‘s Mark Schlabach reported that it was a lifelong Mississippi State fan who discovered the infamous call to a number connected to an escort service and led to Hugh Freeze being forcefully ousted at Ole Miss.  Two days later, Schlabach is reporting that attorneys representing the university and former coaches accused of wrongdoing are asking the NCAA that it require two Mississippi State football players, Leo Lewis and Kobe Jones, to appear at their hearing in front of the Committee on Infractions later this year.

At this point in time, it’s unclear whether either player has received a notice to appear.

Jones, a four-star 2016 signee, has alleged that an Ole Miss booster paid him upwards of $15,000 as an inducement to go to the Rebels before he signed with the rival Bulldogs. “Lewis also accused Rebels boosters and former coaches of arranging for him to receive free transportation, lodging, food and meals and memorabilia and clothing from Rebel Rags, a retail store in Oxford,” Schlabach wrote Wednesday.

The Oxford retailer filed a lawsuit last month against, among others, Jones and Lewis alleging “defamation, slander, conspiracy and commercial disparagement stemming from false statements made to the NCAA.” On at least three occasions, the Bulldog duo spoke to the NCAA and its investigators regarding their allegations made against the rival program.

From Schlabach’s latest report:

The NCAA previously denied Ole Miss lawyers’ requests to interview Jones and Lewis about allegations they made during the NCAA’s investigation of the Rebels. In fact, Lewis’ attorneys stopped the second of three interviews with NCAA investigators after Ole Miss’ lawyers attempted to cross-examine him. Ole Miss wasn’t allowed to have an attorney at his third interview.

Jones and Lewis were provided partial immunity by NCAA investigators before they were interviewed.

The NCAA has accused the Ole Miss football program of 21 violations, 15 of which are the most serious under The Association’s penalty structure.  Ole Miss self-imposed a bowl ban for the 2017 season as well as stripped itself of seven scholarships.  Additionally, they will forfeit all postseason revenues for the upcoming season, a number in excess of $7 million.  It’s expected the NCAA will add to those self-imposed sanctions.

The university received its Notice of Allegations from the NCAA back in February, releasing its response to the NOA early last month.

Former Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt and his attorney filed a lawsuit earlier this month as well, alleging that Freeze and other Ole Miss officials engaged in a clandestine smear campaign to pin the NCAA investigation into the Rebels’ football program in large part on Nutt. The lawsuit levied some rather serious allegations, including Freeze allegedly conducting off-the-record conversations with prominent journalists and recruits to falsely spread the narrative that the lion’s share of NCAA recruiting violations occurred under Nutt’s watch.

4-star 2018 QB with offers from Tennessee, Washington commits to… Princeton

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I have no clue how long this commitment will last, but it’s patently awesome.  And spectacular.

Brevin White is a 2018 recruit who 247Sports.com has pegged as a four-star prospect.  The same recruiting website rates the California high school product as the No. 11 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 39 player at any position in the state.

White, the younger brother of redshirt sophomore Arizona State quarterback Brady White, currently holds scholarship offers from, among others, Arizona State, Oregon State, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Washington State.  Tuesday night, the younger White signal-caller took to Twitter to announce his program of choice, and revealed that he would be playing his college football at… Princeton.

Selfishly, I hope this verbal holds.  To see a young man with Power Five options go, at least for now, the Ivy League route is utterly refreshing on multiple levels.

And the fact that the P5s involved have to be borderline beside themselves?  Priceless.