Associated Press

Oklahoma Statement: No. 14 Pokes thrash No. 8 TCU

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Who among us woke up this morning skeptical of Oklahoma State’s place among the Big 12 championship and College Football Playoff contenders? (Raises both hands and feet.) The Cowboys entered Saturday’s date with No. 8 TCU at the back of the line in the Big 12 and nationally, and with good reason: they needed significant help from the zebras to beat Texas and Kansas State, and needed overtime to dispatch a West Virginia team Baylor, Oklahoma and these Frogs crushed.

But Oklahoma State won those games, and Saturday they won another that announced themselves as serious contenders for the Big 12 championship and beyond. The 14th-ranked Cowboys jumped on the favored Frogs and never let up, stomping their way to a dominant 49-29 win.

Though Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson garnered most of the hype entering the game, it was the connection between Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph and James Washington that proved unstoppable. Rudolph opened the scoring four minutes in with a 48-yard connection to Washington and, after a one-yard Boykin touchdown run, encored with a 50-yard score two plays later to push the Pokes’ lead to 14-6 with 6:02 remaining in the first quarter.

After a Jaden Oberkrom field goal pulled the Frogs within 14-9 to close the first quarter, Rudolph again tossed a pair of scoring strikes to give Oklahoma State complete control of the game. The first came on a 12-yard catch-and-dash to Jeff Carr with 13:37 to go before the half, and the second was an 82-yard bomb to Marcell Ateman with 7:57 remaining in the frame.

At the time of the Ateman touchdown, Rudolph had completed 9-of-13 throws for 231 yards and four touchdowns. But he didn’t stop there. Rudolph effectively closed his day – and the game – with another long distance gift to Washington, this time from 74 yards out to give the Cowboys a 42-16 lead with 8:07 remaining in the third quarter. The sophomore finished with 352 yards and five touchdowns (with no interceptions) on 16-of-24 passing, while Washington corralled five of those throws for 184 yards and three scores.

Thanks to a ball-hawking defense and a quick strike offense, Oklahoma State’s six touchdown drives covered a total of 332 yards and needed only 16 snaps to do so.

Boykin racked up his customary numbers (445 passing yards, 73 rushing, three total touchdowns), but he was just as much a help as a hindrance to the Frogs’ efforts. He tossed four interceptions on the day: the first led to Oklahoma State’s first touchdown, Chad Whitener returned the second to the 1-yard line (setting up a one-yard J.W. Walsh run), and Whitener finished the job on Boykin’s fourth pick, slamming the door with a pick six with just 44 seconds remaining. Boykin also saw two scoring chances end on failed fourth down conversions deep in Cowboy territory; the first on an incomplete pass to Kolby Listenbee from the OSU 14 with the score 21-9 in the second quarter, the second on a rush for no gain from the OSU 1 that ended any realistic comeback chance with 5:21 remaining.

Worst of all for TCU, Doctson (six grabs for 64 yards) left the game after injuring his left wrist securing a 12-yard reception late in the second quarter and did not return.

And that leads to the larger theme of the game: Oklahoma State (9-0, 6-0 Big 12) and TCU (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) effectively switched places in the Big 12’s round-robin title race. The Cowboys – this ferocious Cowboys team – jumps to the front of the line of contenders thanks to a schedule that sees Baylor visit Stillwater on Nov. 21 and Oklahoma follow a week after.

TCU will lick its wounds against Kansas next week in Fort Worth before again crossing the Red River to face Oklahoma on Nov. 21 before hosting Baylor six days later.

 

Former WKU offensive lineman will finish career with “Brohmsquad”

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Western Kentucky offensive lineman Dennis Edwards says he is going to finish his college football career with the same coach he started it with. In a message posted on Twitter, Edwards announced he will reunite with head coach Jeff Brohm, now at Purdue.

As a graduate transfer, Edwards will be eligible to play immediately this fall, which will be a nice boost to the depth at the offensive line position for Purdue. Unless he changes position, however, Edwards will likely be a backup center to provide depth. Kirk Barron returns to anchor the center of the line, one that loses just one starter from a year ago. But for a program that is still in the early stages of a rebuilding plan under Brohm, padded the depth on the offensive line can be instrumental in the sustained success for the program.

LSU officially welcomes Joe Burrow from Ohio State

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Last week, quarterback Joe Burrow announced his commitment to LSU as he prepares to move on from Ohio State. Today, LSU made it officially official.

LSU has announced it has officially signed graduate transfer Burrow for the 2018 season, making the quarterback transfer eligible to play immediately this fall. Burrow will also have two years of eligibility with the Tigers, which could be a potential boost to the entire LSU offense in 2018 and potentially in 2019.

Burrow was a four-star recruit in Ohio State’s Class of 2015, but he could not get ahead of J.T. Barrett on the depth chart. He did, however, serve as Barrett’s backup in 2016 and would have carried the same responsibility in 2017 if not for a broken bone in his right hand.

At LSU, Burrow will jump head first into a quarterback competition with Myles Brennan, Justin McMillan and Lowell Narcisse. However, it is expected Burrow will soar to the top of the depth chart fairly quickly, and in time for LSU’s season opener in Arlington, Texas against Miami on Labor Day weekend. Nothing will be a given though, so Burrow needs to get to work right away and establish himself as the best option for Ed Orgeron and the Tigers.

Jim Harbaugh says Michigan is going on safari in South Africa next spring

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Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has said he wants to make a spring trip for the football program an annual event. Staying true to his word, Harbaugh announced Michigan will be heading to South Africa next spring.

“We’re going to (South) Africa,” Harbaugh said in a radio interview with WTKA-AM in Ann Arbor, according to The Detroit Free Press. “We’re going to Johannesburg and Cape Town and we’re going to do a safari. How about that? How about a safari?”

This spring, Michigan visited Paris. Last year, the team took a trip to Rome. This all started becoming a thing after opposing football coaches in the south caused an uproar over Michigan packing up the program and heading to Clearwater for some spring football practices.

Each of the past two trips for Michigan have been covered by donations from some big-money donors to the program. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick and The Graham Group founder Don Graham split the bill for Michigan’s trip to Paris this spring. Kotick also took up the expenses for Michigan’s trip to Rome in 2017. It is unknown how Michigan is covering the pending expense of a trip to South Africa at this time, but if donors with deep pockets keep taking care of the charges, there is no reason not to take advantage of the travel opportunities.

In the meantime, Harbaugh has plenty of time to pick out a good safari hat to go with his finest pairs of khaki pants. Of course, he’ll probably stick to the blue Michigan cap to keep with his style abroad.

Clemson QB Hunter Johnson set to transfer; Purdue and Northwestern in the mix

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Clemson quarterback Hunter Johnson is reportedly seeking to transfer to a new program, according to multiple reports Monday morning. The sophomore, a former five-star recruit in Clemson’s Class of 2017, is believed to have a desire to play for a couple of Big Ten schools.

Purdue and Northwestern have emerged as the top two potential destinations within the Big Ten, according to various reports. Johnson is an Indiana native and would figure to step right into a possible starting job with either the Boilermakers or Wildcats if he were to transfer to either Big Ten school. Of course, Johnson would have to wait until 2019 to begin playing for Purdue or Northwestern or any other FBS school due to NCAA transfer rules.

Despite Johnson’s talent and potential, it appears he got stuck in a tough spot on a Clemson roster that is overflowing with top-tier talent. With Kelly Bryant essentially cemented as Clemson’s starting quarterback, Johnson would have been waiting for his time to shine at the position, assuming he beat out the competition for the job. Clemson just added a five-star quarterback in the most recent recruiting class with Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence has already enrolled and played well in the Clemson spring game, offering a glimpse to the future of Clemson’s offense once Bryant moves on.

Johnson appeared in seven games as a freshman for the ACC champion Clemson Tigers last season, in which he completed 21 of 27 pass attempts for 234 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Zerrick Cooper, also a freshman last fall, appeared in three more games than Johnson as both backing up Bryant.

Purdue and Northwestern would both figure to be good landing spots for Johnson. Northwestern is preparing for one final year with Clayton Thorson at the helm, and Johnson could potentially slide right in once the 2019 season comes around after sitting out the year as a transfer. Purdue would also give Johnson a chance to shine in an offense coached by Jeff Brohm, which could rack up all kinds of attractive passing stats.

Johnson will have three years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2018 season. He also has a redshirt option to spare.