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No. 19 OU comes from behind, tops No. 23 Tennessee in double OT

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We said at the half Tennessee looked like a program worthy of all its offseason hype. In the second, it looked like the program that’s 1-for-a lot against ranked teams lately. In the end, the 23rd-ranked Vols blew a 14-point second half lead to fall 31-24 to No. 19 Oklahoma in double overtime.

Tennessee led 17-3 at the break and the score remained that way through the third quarter (though the Sooners would argue defensive back Steven Parker was robbed a scoop-and-score by the Big 12 officiating crew). In fact, Oklahoma did not reach in Tennessee territory until the 11:29 mark of the fourth quarter. But the Sooners successfully eschewed offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley‘s Air Raid scheme for a whatever-the-heck-works attack, marching 80 yards in 14 plays and 5:53 to pull within 17-10 with 8:20 to go – capped by a Mayfield pass to Samaje Perine – and then moved 60 yards in 13 snaps and 5:26, this time using a five-yard toss from Mayfield to Sterling Shepard to tie the game with 40 seconds left in regulation.

In all, regulation closed with Oklahoma gaining 140 yards in 27 plays to Tennessee’s one yard in four plays.

That sluggish finish, however, did not stop Tennessee from starting overtime with a crisp five-play touchdown drive, as a seven-yard Hurd run marked the Vols’ first points since the 12:14 mark of the second quarter.

Oklahoma responded in the bottom of the first, and in heart-stopping fashion. After Mayfield hit Shepard for 19 yards on OU’s first snap, the Sooners moved one, then zero, then four, and then one yard as Mayfield kept on a 4th-and-goal from the one to push the game into double overtime.

The Sooners then opened the second overtime by scoring again, an 18-yard catch-and-juke from Mayfield to Shepard. Dobbs was intercepted by Zack Sanchez in the bottom of the second overtime, clinching the biggest comeback by a visitor in Neyland Stadium history.

Mayfield rebounded from a rough start to finish with a better-than-it-looks-on-paper stat line of 19-of-39 passing for 187 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, plus 14 carries for 46 yards and a score. Perine rushed for 78 yards on 23 carries, and Shepard came up with every big play necessary, hauling in seven grabs for 74 yards and both of Mayfield’s scores.

Dobbs completed on 13 of his 31 throws for 125 yards with a touchdown and that game-ending interception, plus 12 rushing yards and a touchdown. Hurd carried 24 times for 106 yards and a score.

The loss drops Butch Jones to 13-2 at Tennessee when leading at the half.

Oklahoma (2-0) sweeps the home-and-home with Tennessee and beats an SEC team for the third straight season. Tennessee (1-1) spends yet another week wondering at what point the Vols will finally break through.

Nebraska, Illinois to open 2021 season in Ireland

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Nebraska and Illinois will open their 2021 seasons in Dublin, Ireland, the programs jointly announced Monday.

“The University of Illinois, our football program, our alumni and fans, and the entire Fighting Illini family are in for a once-in-a-lifetime experience on the Emerald Isle,” Illini AD Josh Whitman said. “When first approached about this game almost two years ago, we had immediate interest. This game will provide an incredible educational opportunity for our football student-athletes who, because of their schedule, generally do not receive the same international experiences as many of our other student-athletes. For our fans, I hope they will journey with us across the Atlantic for a wonderful trip and a major football game, all set against the beauty of Ireland.”

The game will take place Aug. 28, 2021 at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, the same site that hosted Notre Dame vs. Navy in 2012 and will host the Irish and Midshipmen again in 2020. College GameDay will broadcast from the Notre Dame-Navy game in 2020. Penn State and UCF played in Ireland in 2014, and Georgia Tech and Boston College did the same in 2016.

“It is a privilege to be here at the University of Illinois for the announcement of the teams for the 2021 Aer Lingus College Football Classic,” Dublin mayor Paul McAuliffe said. “I welcome the news that both the University of Illinois and University of Nebraska teams and fans will travel to Dublin in 2021 and I look forward to seeing the colour and energy that they will bring to the city of Dublin. Dublin and Ireland are ready to welcome you! This fixture is an important date in our calendar and showcases Dublin as a destination for hosting major international sporting events.”

The game was originally scheduled to be played Nov. 13, 2021 in Champaign, and likely will not be the last in Ireland, as the nation works to make Dublin the European capital of American college football.

Clemson moving forward with $70 million renovation for Death Valley

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Clemson’s building spree around campus for the football program isn’t slowing down anytime soon thanks to the Tigers winning two of the last three national titles.

The school’s Board of Trustees on Friday approved a massive $68.7 million renovation of Frank Howard Field at Clemson Memorial Stadium — better known as Death Valley — and a further $7 million devoted to expanding the already impressive football operations building.

“We haven’t had a major redo of the west end since 2006 so it’s time to pay some attention to that side [after] we redid the suites on the north side and created the south club on the south side,” Athletic Director Dan Radakovich told WNCT.

The stadium renovations are pretty typical of schools nowadays as it will add premium seating (i.e. suites), a new video board and upgraded LED lighting that peers like Georgia and Alabama have used to rave reviews in recent years.

New locker rooms at the stadium are also set to be the first thing accomplished in the project, which officials hope will be completely wrapped up prior to the 2021 season.

Given everything the school is doing for the program lately, ‘If you win it, they will build it’ might just be the unofficial motto at Clemson nowadays. Sure seems more accurate in 2019 than ‘BYOG.’

Thanks to alcohol sales, UNC made over $1 million from concessions in just three home games

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The state of North Carolina opening up beer and alcohol sales at sporting events has had a big impact on the flagship university’s bottom line so far this year.

According to WTVD ABC 11, UNC sold over 43,000 “units” of alcohol (beer/wine/hard seltzers) in the Tar Heels’ first three home games of the year. The end result to all those purchases? The team took in over $1 million in concessions in games against Miami, Appalachian State and Clemson, with all three contests selling more alcohol than soda (and nearly as much booze as water).

The school confirmed a number of figures, including roughly $325,000 in concession sales for the home opener against the Hurricanes and $393,000 against the in-state rival Mountaineers. The defending national champions’ visit on Sept. 28 was the high point however, with $416,000 worth of goods sold and some 15,737 units of alcohol bought.

WRAL reports that all three games exceeded the previous record amount UNC took in from concessions, set back in November 2016 against local rival N.C. State.

Kenan Stadium will host three more home games in 2019 against Duke, Virginia and FCS Mercer. Safe to say all three can already get counted as wins for the bottom line regardless of the result on the field for Mack Brown’s team.

Baylor LB Clay Johnston to miss rest of the season with knee injury

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If No. 18 Baylor is going to continue their remarkable pursuit of a Big 12 title in 2019, they’re going to have to do it without their best defensive player.

A school official confirmed to the Dallas Morning News on Sunday that senior linebacker Clay Johnston will miss the rest of the season after injuring his knee in the Bears’ double overtime victory over Texas Tech on Saturday.

The news is a huge blow to Matt Rhule’s defense, which was tops in the Big 12 in a number of statistical categories and the No. 17 scoring defense nationally. Johnston was all over the field against the Red Raiders, racking up 10 tackles (1.5 TFL) and an interception to help edge their conference rivals and remain undefeated.

For the season, which will sadly be Johnston’s last as a senior, he had 58 tackles, 2.5 sacks and that lone pick from Saturday. Freshman Matt Jones is listed as the next man up on the depth chart though given his youth and inexperience, it’s possible the Bears coaching staff will shift over a more veteran option to man the middle of the defense going forward.

Baylor doesn’t ease into the second half of the schedule either as they’ll hit the road to face a dangerous Oklahoma State offense in their first game without Johnston on Saturday.