Associated Press

No. 16 TCU goes to Stillwater and locks up No. 6 Oklahoma State

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Oklahoma State spent its first three games blasting its opponents from the jump. Against Tulsa, South Alabama and Pittsburgh — admittedly, not exactly the toughest non-conference schedule in the game — the Cowboys held a combined 59-0 lead at the end of the first quarter en route to blowout victories.

This game was pretty much the exact opposite.

TCU controlled the ball and the pace and tone of the game from the beginning, using a massive possession advantage to lean on an overmatched Cowboys defense and survive a late challenge from a powerful Pokes offense en route to a 44-31 victory.

Actually, the first quarter looked as if TCU would spoil a great game plan and an early advantage. The Frogs ran 25 of the game’s first 33 plays but found themselves in a 7-6 hole after two drives ended in field goals and Mason Rudolph hit James Washington for an 86-yard touchdown.

But the Frogs answered, rallying for consecutive touchdown drives of 75 and 62 yards, capped by a 28-yard Darius Anderson and a 9-yard strike from Kenny Hill to John Diarse. Oklahoma State tacked on a field goal before the break, but TCU hit the locker room with a 10-point lead on the scoreboard and an 11-minute time of possession advantage.

After halftime, a rested TCU defense intercepted Rudolph in Cowboys territory and turned it into points on a 6-yard Anderson run. Oklahoma State responded with a 10-play, 78-yard touchdown march to pull within 27-17 midway through the third quarter, but TCU rumbled down the field on a 9-play, 75-yard drive in which eight of the snaps were runs and the only pass was a 43-yard strike to Jaelan AustinSewo Olonilua punched in a 1-yard plunge — which he later fumbled, but the call of touchdown was upheld upon review — to give the Frogs a 34-17 lead.

TCU (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) forced a punt on the next drive and had a chance to put the game away early in the fourth quarter, but Hill fired incomplete on a 3rd-and-7 from the OSU 14. Jonathan Song‘s third field goal of the game made the score 37-17 but preserved a comeback window for Oklahoma State with 12:03 remaining.

Oklahoma State (3-1, 0-1 Big 12) immediately notched the first of its three needed touchdowns, moving 79 yards in 2:19 and culminating in a 1-yard Rudolph keeper to pull within 37-24 with 9:44 to play. The Pokes’ defense forced a three-and-out on TCU’s next possession and its offense moved to the TCU 23, but a wide receiver pass by Jalen McCleskey was intercepted at the 5-yard line by TCU’s Nick Orr.

Nevertheless, Oklahoma State forced another three-and-out — the Frogs’ offense “gained” minus-8 yards in its first two touches after going up 37-17 — and then moved 53 yards in five plays, keyed by a 34-yard McCleskey catch — to shrink the deficit to 37-31 with 3:03 to play.

After a 42-yard kickoff return by KaVontae Turpin, Oklahoma State used both of its remaining timeouts to force a do-or-die 3rd-and-4 at the OSU 42 with 2:37 to play. A stop would’ve given Oklahoma State the ball deep in its own territory with plenty of time and a chance to win with a touchdown, and a loss would’ve allowed the Frogs to run out the clock. Neither of those outcomes happened, though, as Anderson bursted through the Pokes’ front and raced untouched for a touchdown, pushing the lead back to two touchdowns.

Anderson and the TCU offensive line dominated the game, as he carried 26 times for 160 yards and three scores. Playing without senior Kyle Hicks, TCU as a team rushed 49 times for 241 yards and four scores, while Hill hit a manageable 22-of-33 passes for 228 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

The TCU defense forced Rudolph into easily his worst game of the season. Rudolph finished the game hitting 21-of-39 throws with 398 yards and two touchdowns, but he also lost a fumble and threw two interceptions. Rudolph’s first two turnovers turned into TCU touchdowns, and his third came on a tipped pass on 4th-and-1 on Oklahoma State’s last-gasp driving trailing 44-31. Washington caught six passes for 153 yards and a score, and Justice Hill carried 25 times for 102 yards and a score.

Oregon OL Tyrell Crosby to wear No. 58 for Las Vegas Bowl to honor victims of mass shooting

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Oregon’s big No. 73 is changing jersey numbers for the Las Vegas Bowl and he’s doing so for a great cause.

Vegas native and Ducks offensive lineman Tyrell Crosby announced on Friday that he would not be playing his final game with the team in his normal jersey and would instead be donning No. 58 for Saturday’s bowl against Boise State. The reason is not to simply change numbers on the way out the door however, as the senior is pointedly making the move to honor the 58 victims of the horrific mass shooting that happened in the city in early October.

“This is so much more than a game to me,” Crosby told the school’s website. “I take a lot of pride in being from Vegas — especially being a football player from Vegas.”

Several college football teams, especially UNLV and Nevada, have done tributes to honor the victims of the attack and the first responders who heroically rushed to their aid in the wake of the deadly mass shooting just off the Strip. There figures to be several more tributes during Saturday’s game at Sam Boyd Stadium between the Ducks and Broncos but kudos to Crosby, one of the team’s best players, for going the extra mile and doing something special for the game in his hometown.

Pitt starting left tackle Brian O’Neill declares for NFL draft

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One of the individuals who put the fat guy in Fat Guy Touchdown has decided to move on to the next level.

Brian O’Neill announced in a statement sent out via the Pitt sports information department that he has decided to make himself available for the 2018 NFL draft. After discussing his option with his family and coaches, O’Neill stated “I believe this is the best course of action to achieve my ultimate goal.”

The offensive lineman took a redshirt as a true freshman in 2014, which left him one more season of eligibility he could’ve used.

The last three seasons, O’Neill started 37 games in a row for the Panthers.  After starting 24 games in a row at right tackle — his first start was on the opposite side — he started all 12 games at left tackle this past season.

O’Neill’s claim to national fame, though, was his 24-yard touchdown run on a backward pass (pictured) that helped earn him the second-annual Piesman Trophy Award in 2016.  That same season, he scored a five-yard touchdown on an end-around.

Below is O’Neill’s statement, in its entirety:

After careful consideration over the last few weeks, I have decided to enter the 2018 NFL draft. I do not take this decision lightly; therefore, I took an extensive amount of time discussing the situation with my family and coaches. Ultimately, I believe this is the best course of action to achieve my ultimate goal.

“Looking back on the past four years, I consider myself one of the luckiest guys in the world. As an incoming freshman, I was welcomed with open arms into this team, school and community. I am extremely proud to have earned my degree and will always call the University of Pittsburgh home.

“I am forever grateful to a number of individuals instrumental in my development as a player and person. Coach Narduzzi and Coach Peterson’s support and guidance has been incredible. I am truly appreciative for them and all my teammates and coaches. Additionally, I maintain a special appreciation for Coach Dave Andrews, Coach Dave Bucar and Mark Diethorn. I will never be able to thank all the people who have helped me throughout the past several years, but their support does not go unnoticed.

“Moving forward, there is nothing more important to me than representing my family, teammates, coaches, and this great University in a first-class manner. The entire Pittsburgh community has been great to me – thank you!

“As always, Hail to Pitt!!!

Toledo, Jason Candle reach agreement on new deal through 2023

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Jason Candle was one of the hot commodities during the early spinning of the 2017-18 coaching carousel.  With said spinning winding down, Candle has remained put — albeit with a (surprise surprise!) revamped deal.

Toledo confirmed Friday afternoon that it has reached an agreement on a two-year contract extension with its head football coach.  Candle is now signed through the 2023 season, with his original deal running through 2021.

It’s believed that the new deal will make him the highest-paid coach in the MAC, although the financial details have not yet been released.

“We are very pleased to extend Jason Candle’s contract through the 2023 season,” said athletic director Mike O’Brien in a statement. “Jason is unquestionably one of the finest football coaches in the country. He is a tremendous leader and teacher of young men. His focus on leading us to a MAC Championship never wavered, and he has a strong determination to elevate our football program to even greater heights. We look forward to his leadership for many years to come.”

In nearly two full seasons with the Rockets, Candle has guided UT to a 20-6 record (he’s 21-6 overall at the school as he coached the team in the 2015 Boca Raton Bowl).  This season, they’ve gone 11-2, winning their first outright division title since 1998 and first conference championship since 2004.

“I’m very appreciative of the support and confidence that President (Sharon) Gaber and Mike O’Brien have shown in my staff and me,” said Candle. “The success of our program is the result of the unified effort of our players, coaches, staff and everyone in Rocket Nation who supports us. To be a MAC Champion is a tremendous accomplishment of which we can all be proud. At the same time, we are even more focused on our mission of continuing to build on our program’s tradition of success. I’m proud to be a Rocket and proud to represent this great University and great city.”

Toledo will face Sun Belt co-champion Appalachian State in the Dollar General Bowl Dec. 23.

Report: Departing Oregon State WR Seth Collins facing assault charge

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Earlier today we noted that Seth Collins would be, for a second time, leaving Oregon State. As it turns out, there’s little more going on off the field than was originally known.

According to The Oregonian, Collins was arraigned in court Thursday on one count of fourth-degree assault.  The arraignment came the same day as OSU confirmed that the wide receiver had asked for and been granted a release from his scholarship.

The alleged incident that led to the charge occurred in early October at a Corvallis apartment complex and allegedly caused physical injury to the 19-year-old alleged victim, Makaela Martinez.  From the newspapers report:

Lt. Dan Duncan of the Corvallis Police Department said Martinez reported the incident at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 8. Duncan said that Martinez had a “swollen and cut” lip, according to the police report, and said that she had been struck in the face.

[Collin’s attorney Jennifer] Nash said Collins did not know Martinez. She said an altercation started at the party due to an unnamed intoxicated male who was “out of control.” Nash said Collins was not intoxicated and got involved in the altercation, for which Martinez was a bystander.

“(Collins) was trying to help someone else and this situation happened,” Nash said.

A university source, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the incident, said Collins took Martinez’s phone as she recorded the incident on video. Martinez is not enrolled at Oregon State, according to the school’s online directory.

At the time of Collins’ release, he was under suspension by the football program because of the incident, and had been for nearly a month.  Collins missed the first three games of the 2017 season because of a finger injury and returned to play the next three, then was sidelined indefinitely in early October because of what the football program described at the time as a health-related issue.

“OSU athletic department spokesman Steve Fenk said the timing of Collins’ [health-related] absence and the date of the alleged assault were coincidental,” The Oregonian wrote.

The transferring Collins has one year of collegiate eligibility, which he intends to use at another football program, although this off-field incident could cause him some damage in that endeavor. “The filing of charges against him in this manner could have a huge impact on his future,” his attorney said.