No. 22 West Virginia uses defense, running game to handle OK State, 34-10

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No. 22 West Virginia kept its Big 12 title hops alive with… defense and the running game? The Mountaineers beat Oklahoma State 34-10 Saturday afternoon in Stillwater.

Clint Trickett had a nice, low-pressure day at the office, completing 21-of-30 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, while Wendell Smallwood did the dirty work for the Mountaineers by grinding out 23 carries for 132 yards. Dreamius Smith added five rushes for 72 yards and 40-yard touchdown dash that served as the final nail in the coffin with 3:12 to go.

West Virginia cruised to a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter but didn’t score again the rest of the half as Oklahoma State fought back for a 14-10 score at the break.

That would be it for Oklahoma State, as the Cowboys ran only seven plays in the third quarter and gained 133 yards in a scoreless second half.

WVU limited Daxx Garman to 21-of-41 passing for 242 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Oklahoma State did pound out 194 rushing yards on 39 carries (Tyreek Hill led the way with 14 rushes for 78 yards) but never mounted anything substantial outside the second quarter.

Josh Lambert provided the only scoring in the third quarter with a 39-yard field goal, and then pushed West Virginia’s lead to 10 with a 43-yarder early in the fourth quarter. Dravon Henry broke it open for good with a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown with 4:44 remaining in the game, and Smith’s 40-yard run a minute and change later added the exclamation point.

What does it about West Virginia that Dana Holgorsen‘s Mountaineers can not only go on the road in Big 12 play and grab a 24-point victory (earning its first road win over a Big 12 club with a winning record since beating 6-5 Iowa State in November 2012), but do so while imposing its will on both sides of the ball?

It says West Virginia, now bowl eligible at 6-2, is a force to be recognized in a Big 12 title chase that includes nearly half the league. Considering Oklahoma only has two losses and with the Baylor win under its belt, West freakin’ Virginia heads into November not only controlling its own destiny for the Big 12 championship, but does so while getting No. 10 TCU (next week) and No. 11 Kansas State (Nov. 20) at home, with its only road trips to struggling Iowa State and Texas.

Yeah, Holgo will drink to that.

 

Tua Tagovailoa’s injury means little brother won’t be able to redshirt at Alabama this season

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Tua Tagovailoa‘s Injury Heard ‘Round the College Football World last Saturday, as it turns out, won’t just impact Alabama’s push for a sixth consecutive playoff berth.

Prior to Tagovailoa’s season-ending hip injury, Alabama had planned on redshirting Tagovailoa’s younger brother, Taulia Tagovailoa, who had been serving as the Crimson Tide’s No. 3 quarterback as a true freshman this season.  As the third-string quarterback, the younger Tagovailoa had played in four games in 2019, the threshold of appearances for a player to still maintain the ability to redshirt.

Because of the injury to his brother, however, Nick Saban confirmed Thursday that Tagovailoa will play Saturday against FCS Western Carolina, meaning a redshirt will officially be off the table.

We’re gonna play him this week in this game some kind of way regardless of how the game goes to try to get him some experience, some playing time and hopefully some confidence,” the head coach said on his weekly radio show. “When we had the unfortunate injury last week to Tua, that kind of negated the opportunity to be able to redshirt to Taulia. …

“With him being now the backup quarterback, we thought we needed to play him, because if something happens to this quarterback, Mac Jones, he’s going to be the guy that’s got to go in the game and try to win the game for us.”

A four-star member of the Crimson Tide’s 2019 recruiting class, Tagovailoa was rated as the No. 5 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Alabama (he and his family moved to Tuscaloosa when his brother joined the Tide in 2017).  In limited action this season, Tagovailoa has completed seven-of-nine passes for 72 yards.

Tagovailoa will now serve as the redshirt sophomore Jones’ primary backup moving forward, and those two will compete for the starting job next year if the older Tagovailoa brother does the expected and enters the 2020 NFL Draft.

DB Deon White leaving Cal as a grad transfer

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After a stellar spring game, the stage seemed to be set for Deon White to shine in what would’ve been his last season at Cal.  Instead, the defensive back will finish his collegiate career at an undetermined elsewhere.

Via Twitter earlier this week, White announced that he has decided to leave the Golden Bears and transfer to another school.  As White would be departing with a bachelor’s degree in hand, he would be eligible to play at another FBS school in 2020.

Next season would serve as White’s final year of eligibility as he will take a redshirt for the 2019 campaign.

After beginning his career at a California junior college, White played in a dozen games during his first season with the Bears in 2018.  During this year’s spring game, he totaled a team-high seven tackles and two tackles for loss.

Despite all of that, White had played in just one game this season prior to his decision to enter the portal.

Broken jaw leaves Pitt’s top WR a game-time decision

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If Pitt is to keep its ACC Coastal hopes alive this weekend, they may have to do so (again) without a very productive piece of its offensive puzzle.

Maurice Ffrench suffered a broken jaw in Pitt’s Nov. 2 win over Georgia Tech, then was sidelined for this past week’s win over North Carolina.  With a trip to Blacksburg on tap for this Saturday, Ffrench is official a game-time decision for the matchup with Virginia Tech.

“He’s practiced this week,” head coach Pat Narduzzi said, noting that the senior was in non-contact mode. “His jaw is better than it was before.”

Ffrench had a steel plate inserted into his broken jaw, which will give him a better chance of seeing the field this weekend.

Ffrench currently leads all ACC players in receptions (75) and receptions per game (8.3).  The receptions per game are also third nationally.

Pitt is 4-2 in ACC play entering Week 13, tied with Virginia Tech for second place in the Coastal and a half-game behind first-place Virginia (5-2).  The Panthers have already lost the Cavaliers this year, meaning they would need UVa to lose its last conference game of the regular season (Nov. 29 against rival Tech) in addition to winning each of their last two games (at Tech, home vs. Boston College) in order to earn a spot opposite Clemson in the ACC championship game.

Dismissed by South Carolina, ex-USC DB Jamel Cook enters the portal

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Jamel Cook‘s roller coaster ride of a collegiate career officially includes a stop at the portal; whether it’ll include a third stop at an FBS school remains to be seen.

Late last month, following an arrest on one count of second-degree domestic violence, Cook was dismissed from the South Carolina football program.  Following up on speculation from earlier in the week, an East Coast USC official has confirmed that the defensive back’s name is now listed in the NCAA transfer database.

Cook was originally a four-star member of the Left Coast USC’s 2016 signing class, rated as the No. 17 player at any position in the state of Florida.  He played in three games in two years for the Trojans before transferring to the Gamecocks following the 2017 season.  Because of NCAA transfer rules, the defensive back was forced to sit out the 2018 season.

This year, Cook had appeared in one game prior to his off-field issue.