Oklahoma did not drop 60 points on TCU’s top-10 defense Saturday night. But its defense didn’t surrender anywhere near 50, either, and the fifth-ranked Sooners took another step closer to a third straight Big 12 championship with a 38-20 win over No. 6 TCU Saturday night in Norman.
The combination of Baker Mayfield and running back Rodney Anderson was simply too much for TCU. Anderson posted a career-high four touchdowns, all in the first half. His 15-yard run at the 8:41 mark of the first quarter gave Oklahoma a 10-7 advantage, a lead the Sooners would not relinquish. After Mayfield hit Grant Calcaterra for a 13-yard strike to put OU up 17-7 at the close of the first quarter, Anderson effectively put the game out of reach with a 24-yard rush at the 11:45 mark of the second quarter.
TCU pulled within 24-14 on a 1-yard Kenny Hill rush on the next possession, but Oklahoma immediately answered with a 14-yard pass to Anderson with 5:29 left before halftime. The pair hooked up again with just seven seconds left before halftime for a 33-yard touchdown, giving Oklahoma 38 first-half points for the second consecutive game.
The Sooners did not score in the second half but still were not seriously threatened thanks to a defense that significantly improved from its 661-yard, 52-point effort in Stillwater a week ago. Oklahoma limited Hill to 13 completions on 28 attempts and just 155 rushing yards on 32 carries. The Frogs scored only once in the second half, and did not mount a serious comeback threat despite Oklahoma’s offense taking its foot off the gas.
Mayfield continued his runaway Heisman Trophy lead by completing 18-of-27 passes for 333 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, and Anderson posted a career night of 23 carries for 151 yards and two touchdowns plus a game-high five grabs for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
Thanks to losses by No. 1 Georgia and No. 3 Notre Dame — and No. 13 Ohio State’s dominant win over No. 12 Michigan State doesn’t hurt, either — Oklahoma should move comfortably inside the CFP top four on Tuesday night. But in the immediate term, Oklahoma moved a step closer to reaching the revived Big 12 Championship against… TCU. No. 15 Oklahoma State’s defeat of No. 21 Iowa State cleared a path for TCU to earn a rematch against the Sooners, provided the Frogs defeat Texas Tech and Baylor to close the season. Oklahoma closes the regular season with a visit to Kansas and a home game against West Virginia, needing only one victory to reach the Big 12 title game.
But, of course, Oklahoma has much bigger goals on its mind than simply playing for another conference championship. More defensive performances like this one will help the Sooners get there.
Over the past several days, it appeared that Florida had zeroed in on Chip Kelly as its next head coach. On Black Friday, that appears to no longer be the case.
Earlier this afternoon, FootballScoop.com reported that coaches they’ve spoken to expect Kelly to choose UCLA as his destination for a return to college football. Not long after, Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports reported that “Florida has moved on from Kelly” as its potential head coach and will move on to other, unnamed candidates. Forde adds that “UCLA is the increasingly likely new destination for the former coach of the Oregon Ducks.”
Whether Florida moved on because Kelly informed them he was headed to UCLA or because they simply couldn’t reach an agreement is unknown at this time.
These reports come a couple of days after it was reported that UF was prepared to move on from Kelly if he didn’t make a decision in short order.
With Kelly apparently out of the picture in Gainesville, the Gators will very likely turn their attention to UCF’s Scott Frost and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen.
If Frost is the target, UF will likely have some competition in the form of Frost’s alma mater Nebraska, which is expected to part ways with Mike Riley after the Cornhuskers’ regular-season finale. MSU, meanwhile, is prepared to “go all in” to retain Mullen.
The rumor mill is set to make yet another coach a much richer man. Again.
While it appears that, at least for the moment, Florida is focused on Chip Kelly as its next head football coach, Dan Mullen‘s name has been mentioned as another realistic possibility to replace the dismissed Jim McElwain. The connection makes sense as Mullen spent four seasons as UF’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Urban Meyer before leaving for Mississippi State, where he’s spent the past nine seasons as head coach. Also, UF’s athletic director, Scott Stricklin, served in the same role in Starkville during a portion of Mullen’s time with the Bulldogs.
In addition to Florida, Tennessee is believed to maintain an interest in prying Mullen away as well.
In that vein, Bruce Feldman of SI.com is reporting that MSU is prepared to “go all in” in an attempt to keep Mullen. How all in is the university? “The 45-year-old Mullen is already getting paid $4.5 million, but word is the school is willing to bump him up to around $6 million and also making an even stronger financial commitment to his staff,” Feldman wrote.
In his nine seasons, Mullen has guided the Bulldogs to a record of 69-46 overall and 33-39 in SEC play. With the exception of 2014 (second), they’ve finished either fourth (2009, 2012) or fifth (2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016) in the SEC West the last eight seasons; at 4-4, the best they’ll finish this season is tied for fourth.
Feldman’s report comes less than 24 hours after MSU, thanks in very large part to a gruesome first-half injury to its starting quarterback, lost its annual Egg Bowl matchup to Ole Miss. That loss dropped Mullen’s record in that rivalry game to 5-4. Prior to Mullen’s arrival in 2009, though, the Rebels had won five of the previous seven meetings in the series.
For Miami, it’s deja vu all over again.
For the first quarter and half Black Friday afternoon, it was looking as if unbeaten and second-ranked Miami would be facing its fifth halftime deficit of the season as 4-7 Pitt was leading the Hurricanes 3-0 midway through the second quarter. However, a 23-yard touchdown pass from Malik Rosier to Ahmmon Richards, which featured some nifty footwork from the latter to get into the end zone, gave the ‘Canes their first lead of the game with just over eight minutes remaining in the half.
However, a late Pitt touchdown at the end of freshman quarterback Kenny Pickett‘s six-yard scamper gave the Panthers a 10-7 lead heading into the halftime locker room. Four times previously, UM has trailed at the half — Toledo (16-10), Florida State (3-0), Georgia Tech 14-13) and Virginia (21-14); each time, the Hurricanes came from behind to win.
As the score hints at, neither offense could muster much production, with the Panthers holding a 175-108 edge in yards. The U’s much-discussed and mega-hyped turnover chain made a pair of appearances, but the Hurricanes couldn’t convert either turnover into points; in fact, the Pitt defense forced three-and-outs on each occasion.
If the Hurricanes can come from behind yet again, they will finish off a perfect 12-0 regular season for the first time since 2002. That team made it to the BCS title game but lost to Ohio State.
Miami will get the ball to start the second half.
The Thanksgiving holiday wasn’t an especially positive one for one member of the Iowa State football program.
According to the Des Moines Register, Brian Peavy was arrested Thursday evening on one count of fourth-degree criminal mischief. The starting cornerback was subsequently released from the county jail a short time later after posting an unspecified bond.
From the Register‘s report:
Ames Police Department Sgt. Christine Crippen said police responded to a call around 5:06 p.m. regarding possible vandalism taking place in a skate park in Ames.
Police discovered Peavy and another male spray-painting underneath a bridge near the park. Peavy and the other male ran when approached by police. Peavy was caught while the other male escaped.
WHO-TV reports that an ISU spokesperson confirmed that Peavy remains in good standing with the team and will play in Saturday’s game against Kansas State. ISU heads into the weekend with an outside shot at clinching a berth in the Big 12 championship game, pending the result of today’s Baylor-TCU game.
Peavy currently leads the Cyclones in pass breakups with seven; is tied for second in interceptions with two, and is third in tackles with 75. The redshirt junior has been an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection each of the past two seasons.