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Baker Mayfield nearly perfect as No. 7 Oklahoma kicks off post-Stoops era with win

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For the first time since November of 1998, someone other than Bob Stoops was the winning coach for an Oklahoma football team.

Behind the right arm of 2016 Heisman Trophy finalist Baker Mayfield, No. 7 OU had little problem in dispatching UTEP as the Sooners cruised to a 56-7 win over the Miners.  It was the first win in the head-coaching career for Lincoln Riley, who took over for Stoops in the offseason when the longtime coach abruptly and unexpectedly retired.

Riley is the first coach not named Stoops to win a game for the Sooners since John Blake in November of 1998.

Mayfield began the game by completing his first 16 passes, and didn’t throw his first incompletion until less than three minutes were remaining in the second quarter.  In just one half of work — he was replaced by backup Kyler Murray at the start of the third quarter — Mayfield completed 19-of-20 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns.

His 19 completions went to 10 different Sooners, with Mark Andrews on the receiving end of seven of them for 134 yards and a touchdown.  Having to replace the one-two combination of Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine, the Sooners were led in rushing Abdul Adams’ 53 yards, all of which came in the first half as well.  For the game, OU ran for 180 yards on 38 carries.

Murray kept up OU’s passing accuracy on the day as he went 10-11 for 149 yards and a touchdown.  All told, 14 different player caught passes from the two quarterbacks.

OU held UTEP, which is coming off a four-win 2016 season, to just 165 yards of offense — 73 rushing, 94 passing.

With what was essentially a preseason game out of the way, OU will truly kick off its 2017 season with a road trip to Columbus for a matchup with No. 2 Ohio State.  The Sooners will be looking to avenge a 45-24 loss to the Buckeyes in Norman last season.

Baker Mayfield, Kansas pass rusher headline preseason All-Big 12 team

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The Big 12 on Wednesday unveiled its 2017 preseason all-conference teams, led, of course, by Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. The 2016 Heisman Trophy finalist was named the league’s preseason Offensive Player of the Year and preseason All-Big 12 quarterback. Kansas’s Dorance ArmstrongJr., the conference’s leading returning sack man, was named the league’s preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

Oklahoma, Texas and TCU led the conference with five selections, followed by Kansas State and Oklahoma State with four. Texas Tech and Iowa State claimed two selections, followed by West Virginia and Baylor’s one.

Yes, that adds up to 29 players.

Offensive Player of the Year: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Defensive Player of the Year: Dorance Armstrong Jr., Kansas
Newcomer of the Year: Will Grier, West Virginia

Offense
QB: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
RB: Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
RB: Justin Crawford, West Virginia
FB: Winston Dimel, Kansas State
WR: Keke Coutee, Texas Tech
WR: Allen Lazard, Iowa State
WR: James Washington, Oklahoma State
TE: Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
OL: Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
OL: Zach Crabtree, Oklahoma State
OL: Dalton Risner, Kansas State
OL: Austin Schlotmann, TCU
OL: Connor Williams, Texas
K: Clayton Hatfield, Texas Tech
KR/PR: KaVontae Turpin, TCU

Defense
DL: Dorance Armstrong, Jr., Kansas
DL: Poona Ford, Texas
DL: Malcolm Roach, Texas
DL: K.J. Smith, Baylor
DL: Reggie Walker, Kansas State
LB: Travin Howard, TCU
LB: Malik Jefferson, Texas
LB: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma
DB: Kamari Cotton-Moya, Iowa State
DB: Tre Flowers, Oklahoma State
DB: Nick Orr, TCU
DB: D.J. Reed, Kansas State
DB: Jordan Thomas, Oklahoma
P: Michael Dickson, Texas

Brent Musburger insists Joe Mixon comments had nothing to do with ESPN departure

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Brent Musburger has called his final college football game, hanging up the play-by-play headset for good following tomorrow night’s Georgia-Kentucky basketball game. This means Musburger’s final college game was marred by some poorly-worded comments regarding former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, wishing the player a long NFL career while discussing recently-surfaced video showing him hitting a female Oklahoma student in 2014.

Blowback was such that he felt compelled to defend those comments one quarter later of OU’s eventual win in the Sugar Bowl.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Musburger insisted the comments had nothing to do with the departure and, in fact, received very little attention from ESPN or Disney proper.

“We had already started the process of me leaving,” Musburger said. “The morning after the Sugar Bowl I had breakfast with [ESPN president] John Skipper and [senior vice president of event & studio production] Stephanie Druley, and they wanted to work out a plan to keep me at ESPN. There was not even a discussion about what had been said specifically about Mixon. In fact, the only person who mentioned it to me was a telephone call two days later from [Disney chairman] Bob Iger, who is an old friend, and he said, ‘This too shall pass.’ That was the only comment. There was no blowback. There is absolutely no connection.

 “I did not want them to be in the middle [of gambling issues]. I am sure they have had some phone calls about [gambling] comments that I have made on the air over the years. It certainly never came back to me, but I have no doubt it happened. I just wanted no connection whatsoever. I will tell you that my relations with ESPN and everyone there could not be better. We have been completely up front in this process. I leave with nothing but good feelings about these people. I never had a bad day for them and enjoyed it very much.”

Musburger is leaving to join a sports book start up in Las Vegas while co-hosting a gambling talk show on SiriusXM, appropriately titled My Friends in the Desert.

Pair of Oklahoma students arrested for breaking into LSU’s Tiger Stadium

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In your “yeah, what?” news of the day, two Oklahoma students were arrested over the weekend after breaking into LSU’s Tiger Stadium.

According to WBRZ, LSU police responded to a call of two men trespassing inside Tiger Stadium. When police approached them, they both attempted to run away, resulting in their arrests. They were charged with unauthorized entry of a place of business and resisting an officer by flight.

WBRZ reported that the two students didn’t cause any property damage or steal anything, so this wasn’t like some rivalry-fueled defacing spree. In all honestly, I thought most of these big stadiums were open to the public when not in use, given they’re on campus grounds and all.

And since we’re here, Oklahoma and LSU have only played twice in their illustrious football histories, with the Sooners winning the 1950 Sugar Bowl and the Tigers winning the 2004 Sugar Bowl.

 

Dabo Swinney fills two holes on Clemson coaching staff

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Somewhat lost amidst Clemson’s ongoing celebration of its first national championship in more than three decades was the fact that Dabo Swinney had two holes to fill on his title-winning coaching staff.  In one fell swoop Tuesday, Swinney filled both.

Mickey Conn and Todd Bates, the school confirmed in a press release, have been hired by Swinney as part of his nine-man on-field staff.  Bates will coach the Tigers’ defensive line, while Conn, who spent 2016 as a senior defensive analyst for the Tigers and was a teammate of Swinney’s on Alabama’s 1992 national title team, will handle cornerbacks.

The two assistants will replace defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks and defensive line coach Marion Hobby, with the former retiring at season’s end and the latter leaving for the same job with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.

“These are two outstanding men who are very good fits with our staff,” said Swinney. “Of course Mickey was on our staff last year and already has a strong knowledge of what we do. Todd is the same age I was (33) when I came to Clemson. He has worked our camp in recent years. I remember one of the camp days Coach (Dan) Brooks came to me and said, ‘Todd Bates is the best coach we have out here.’ I have been following his career closely.”

Bates, also an Alabama graduate, spent the past three seasons as the line coach at FCS Jacksonville.  This will be his first on-field job at the FBS level.

Prior to coming to Clemson last year, Conn had spent the previous 16 seasons as a high school head coach in Colorado.