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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.

Dabo Swinney, Hunter Johnson address QB’s transfer

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Clemson has officially bid adieu to a highly-touted member of its 2017 recruiting class.

Earlier in the day Monday, reports surfaced that Hunter Johnson had decided to transfer from the Tigers, with a couple of Big Ten schools already listed as potential landing spots. Not long after that news made the rounds, Dabo Swinney acknowledged the reports, calling the quarterback “one of the best young men I’ve ever coached” in sending his former player his well-wishes.

“While it is always disappointing to lose a great person and a great player, I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with Hunter and watch him grow and develop over the last year and a half,” the full statement attributed to the head coach began. “Hunter is one of the best young men I have ever coached and has a very bright future ahead of him.

“I wish him all the best as he decides on his destination.”

Johnson himself issued his own statement through the school’s sports information department addressing the development.

“I want to thank Coach Swinney and the Clemson family for giving me the opportunity to be a part of something special,” said Johnson. “I’ve met some amazing people who I will forever call family. I am a better man and a better football player because of my time spent at Clemson. Go Tigers!”

The composite board on 247Sports.com had Johnson rated as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 30 player at any position for the Class of 2017. As a true freshman, Johnson completed 21 of his 27 passes for 234 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in seven appearances.

It’s believed that Johnson, who will have to sit out the 2018 season but would then have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2019, is eyeing Northwestern or Purdue as potential transfer destinations.

Former USC assistant coach Todd McNair loses defamation lawsuit vs. NCAA

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By a vote of 9-3, former USC running backs coach Todd McNair has lost his defamation lawsuit against the NCAA. Following six days of deliberation, the verdict brings to a close the Reggie Bush scandal that began more than a decade ago, a scandal that saw the Trojans lose their 2004 BCS national championship and Bush be stripped of his 2005 Heisman Trophy.

McNair sued the NCAA after it found him guilty of unethical conduct while Bush received impermissible benefits. He was given a 1-year show-cause penalty, and has not worked since his contract expired in the summer of 2010.

McNair sought $27 million in damages from the NCAA.

McNair’s attorney Bruce Broilett told ESPN his team was “very disappointed … disappointed in the result. Assessing the situation and considering our next steps.”

David Beaty releases statement on firing of KU AD Sheahon Zenger

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Kansas fired athletics director Sheahon Zenger earlier today. If the move was immediately greeted as a vote of no-confidence in Zenger’s ability to find and hire the next Jayhawks football coach — and, thus, a vote of no-confidence in the David Beaty era — that’s because it pretty much is.

“But Athletics continues to face a number of challenges, and progress in key areas has been elusive. To achieve the level of success we need and expect, I have determined a change in leadership is necessary,” KU chancellor Douglas Girod said in his statement announcing Zenger’s firing.

The playbook is well documented by now: to replace the head coach, you must first replace the AD who hired the head coach, and the replacement will then hire the new head coach. We’ve seen it play out at a number of places, most recently Nebraska, where Bill Moos was brought in to replace Shawn Eichorst, and Moos promptly fired Mike Riley and hired Scott Frost.

Beaty is a well-liked coach, but college football is a results business and a 3-33 record speaks for itself. Beaty surely knows that score better than anyone.

Hours after the news went public, Beaty released a statement of his own on Monday afternoon.

As if the 3-33 mark wasn’t obvious enough, the beginning of the end of the Beaty era likely came on Monday.

Alabama (still) a massive favorite over Louisville, other Week 1 lines

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It’s been about four months since we checked in on the Week 1 betting lines in college football, highlighted by Alabama’s installation as a massive favorite for its date with Louisville in Orlando.

And in the four months since, the public has clearly lost faith in the Nick Saban Football Machine.

After starting as a 29.5-point favorite, Alabama has been downgraded… to a 28.5-point favorite, according to lines released by Bet Online.

Other lines of note:

  • UCF (-20.5) at Connecticut
  • Northwestern (+4.5) at Purdue
  • Colorado (-6) vs. Colorado State (at Denver)
  • San Diego State (+14.5) at Stanford
  • Florida Atlantic (+23) at Oklahoma
  • Oregon State (+38) at Ohio State
  • Texas (-10.5) at Maryland
  • Boise State (-10.5) at Troy
  • Arizona (-14) vs. BYU (at Phoenix)
  • Auburn (-3.5) vs. Washington (at Atlanta)
  • Ole Miss (-1.5) vs. Texas Tech (at Houston)
  • West Virginia (-7) vs. Tennessee (at Charlotte)
  • North Carolina (+6) at California
  • Michigan (+2) at Notre Dame
  • Alabama (-28.5) vs. Louisville (at Orlando)
  • Miami (-3) vs. LSU (at Dallas)
  • Virginia Tech (+6.5) at Florida State

Check out the entire list of lines here.