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No. 12 Oklahoma jumps into thick of Big 12, CFP race with win at No. 6 Baylor

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The race for the College Football Playoff is a political campaign, about separating your candidate from the rest of the field. So here’s No. 12 Oklahoma’s stump speech: sure they lost to Texas, but after Saturday night’s 44-34 win at No. 6 Baylor, they’re they only candidate on that stage to win in Waco in the last three calendar years. Beyond that, they’re the only team to make the Bears look mortal.

The Sooners ended Baylor’s FBS-leading 20-game home winning streak – becoming the first visitor to ever win in McLane Stadium – by dominating the line of scrimmage on both ends.

Samaje Perine rushed 28 times for 166 yards and two touchdowns, while Baker Mayfield danced his way to 270 passing yards and three touchdowns while rushing 76 times for another score.

The defense, meanwhile, manhandled the Bears’ attack, closing in on freshman Jarrett Stidham throughout the evening to the tune of two sacks and eight tackles for loss. Outside of its drives to open the first and second halves (18 plays, 155 yards, 13 points), Baylor looked – gasp – average, with six punts, two interceptions and one fumble to go with three additional touchdown drives.

Stidham completed 16 of his 27 passes for 257 yards with two touchdowns and two picks, while Shock Linwood grinded out 21 carries for 103 yards. Devin Chafin rushed 13 times for 49 yards and three touchdowns.

Oklahoma led 20-13 after a back-and-forth first half and allowed the Bears to immediately tie the game on their first possession of the second half. Then the Sooners took over. Mayfield hit Shepard for a seven-yard score to re-take the lead, then got the ball back a minute later and cleared Perine for a 55-yard touchdown sprint, pushing the lead to 34-20.

Stidham hit LaQuan McGowan for a five-yard score to pull the Bears within 34-27, then clawed within 37-34 with a 17-yard scoring strike to Jay Lee at the 10:29 mark of the fourth quarter.

Oklahoma marched 78 yards in 10 plays on its next possession – consuming 5:42 in the process – as Mayfield found Dimitri Flowers for a seven-yard score on third-and-goal.

Stidham was intercepted on Baylor’s next play, and Oklahoma secured the win it needed to jump itself into the thick of the College Football Playoff race.

Oklahoma (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) will likely be favored in its final two games against No. 15 TCU (in Norman) and No. 8 Oklahoma State (in Stillwater) over the next two weeks while rooting for chaos elsewhere. Baylor (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) would need about three earthquakes to jump back in the race, as the Bears are likely delegated to spoiler status as they work to claim a third straight Big 12 title and secure a berth in the Sugar Bowl.

College Football Hall of Fame adds title sponsor

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The College Football Hall of Fame is no longer the College Football Hall of Fame. Well, it is, but it isn’t.

It’s still a massive museum dedicated to honoring our nation’s greatest sport, but it will no longer be known by that name. The Atlanta-based Hall has added a title sponsor, and it’s the same corporation that sponsors everything else college football within Atlanta, from the Peach Bowl to Paul Johnson‘s sock drawer (presumably) — Chick-fil-A.

The new name and logo was unveiled Thursday.

As of press time, there was no word on if the first 100,000 CFT readers will receive a free 12-pack of nuggets upon entry.

Report: Cannabis oil not the reason C.J. Harris denied walk-on opportunity at Auburn

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A major brouhaha broke out on social media last last week when it was reported that C.J. Harris was denied by the NCAA an opportunity to walk-on at Auburn because of his prescription for cannabis oil, which he uses to prevent epileptic seizures. Harris claims to be seizure free since January 2017 thanks to the medication.

“After Auburn coaches and staff took a second look at his medical records, they told Harris’ father Curtis that his son could not compete in NCAA athletics while he was taking cannabis oil,” reported WGXA-TV, which broke the story.

“You’re taking something away from a kid who’s worked so hard in his life to get there,” Curtis Harris, the player’s father, said. “And you’re just taking it away because he’s taking a medication that’s helping with his disability.”

But according to Brandon Marcello of Auburn Undercover, the story is more complicated than that. A source told Marcello that it was Auburn’s doctors, and not NCAA rules, that will prevent Harris from suiting up for the Tigers. Writes Marcello:

Auburn’s team physician did not clear Harris due to the pre-existing medical conditions, a source close to the Auburn football program said. The Auburn medical staff was concerned about the epilepsy and wanted to protect his well being in a full-contact sport that could lead to head trauma, the source said.

That information will not stop people from ripping on the NCAA, however, largely because it’s fun to rip on the NCAA.

But the Harris situation is a flashpoint in a larger cultural issue. Public opinion on marijuana is changing — 61 percent of Americans believe it should be legal, according to a Pew Research poll in January, an increase from 57 percent in 2017 and a massive leap from the 31 percent who thought the same in 2000 — and cannabis is already legal for purchase on a medical basis in 29 states. And the opinion of Auburn’s doctors doesn’t change the fact Harris would still be ineligible under current NCAA rules.

However, the NCAA’s Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports has discussed “medical marijuana and CBD products at recent meetings” and will do so again at its next gathering in June, according to SB Nation. The Harris situation — and the subsequent public reaction — should be a a topic of conversation.

 

Michigan offers 8th grader who led varsity team in tackles

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MarMichigan has offered a scholarship to eighth-grade linebacker Tyler Martin, according to a post on Martin’s Twitter account on Thursday.

That would be the class of 2022, for those scoring at home.

Martin is not any ordinary eighth grader, though. A native of Cambridge, Mass., Martin led Buckingham Browne & Nichols with over 100 tackles and also started every game at tight end. Not Browne & Nichols’s eighth grade team, mind you. The varsity.

“He’s a tremendous kid that happens to be a tremendous athlete,” Browne & Nichols head coach Mike Willey told USA Today. “He’s worked exceptionally hard and put himself in a good position, that’s why I think Michigan says, yeah, this is the kind of guy they want.

The 6-foot-3, 227-pound linebacker is not the first junior high player to draw a maize and blue offer this year. Michigan offered Martin, Tenn., quarterback Ty Simpson in March.

Two Illinois players charged with theft for relocating deer sculpture

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A pair of Illinois players have been charged with theft between $500 and $10,000 after taking a sculpture from a Champaign park and relocating it to the top of their apartment building.

Jimmy Marchese, a junior linebacker, and Drew Murtaugh, a sophomore linebacker, told police they were walking home on the night of April 29 and saw a sculpture of a running deer, titled “Startled,” lying on the ground and took it home, placing the sculpture on the roof of their apartment. The Champaign Park District pleaded for the sculpture’s return on Facebook, and an anonymous tip led the authorities to Marchese and Murtaugh.

“Startled” has since been reinstalled at Champaign’s Scott Park, where the $5,000 sculpture will require touch-up work by the artist who created it.

“We had to have the artist come and do some work on it. We think we got it worked out to where it would be a lot harder for anyone to take it out again,” Champaign Park District director Joe DeLuce told the Champaign News Gazette.

The Illini pair has already appeared in court for a probable-cause hearing, and are due back on June 12. They face penalties ranging from probation to five years in prison.

Illinois spokesman Kent Brown told the News Gazette that head coach Lovie Smith is aware of the incident but has taken no action.

Marchese, a native of Vernon Hills, Ill., played in all 12 games in 2017 with two starts, and was named to the Academic All-Big Ten team. Murtaugh, hailing from Crystal Lake, Ill., did not letter as a redshirt freshman in 2017, but joined his partner in petty crime as an Academic All-Big Ten honoree.