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No. 7 OU survives surge from No. 18 TCU to move one win shy of Big 12 title

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Across the state, No. 10 Baylor rode a strong second half performance from its third-string quarterback to an important win. That same formula nearly worked to perfection for No. 18 TCU, but Bram Kohlhausen‘s go-ahead two-point pass was batted away by Oklahoma’s Steven Parker and the 7th-ranked Sooners survived, 30-29.

TCU jumped out to an early lead on a pair of long passes from freshman starter Foster Sawyer to Kolby Listenbee, but Oklahoma’s defense and running game dominated the rest of the half as the Sooners cruised to a 23-7 lead.

But OU quarterback Baker Mayfield sustained a head injury after taking a blow to the helmet from TCU’s Ty Summers in the first half, and team doctors pulled the Sooners’ quarterback from the game over halftime.

The complexion of the game completely changed from that moment on.

Oklahoma’s offense ground mostly to a halt with 2014 starter Trevor Knight back under center, producing six punts, an interception, a missed field goal and a turnover on downs on all but one drive. The other? A 72-yard Samaje Perine scoring dash.

Perine’s run pushed Oklahoma’s lead to 30-13 with 7:55 to play in the third quarter, and the score remained that way until Kohlhausen hit Kavontae Turpin for an 86-yard touchdown pass with 8:59 remaining.

The Frogs added a 43-yard Jaden Oberkrom field goal with 6:27 remaining, then a 14-yard scoring toss from Kohlhausen to Emmanuel Porter with just 51 ticks remaining. Instead of playing for overtime, Gary Patterson opted to go for two and the win, and Kohlhausen’s scrambling toss was deflected by Parker.

Sawyer started the game for TCU and played like a freshman making his first start on the road, completing 8-of-18 throws for 107 yards with the early touchdown and three interceptions. Kohlhausen hit 5-of-11 passes for 122 yards with two touchdowns while rushing twice for 10 yards. Aaron Green rushed 23 times for 126 yards and a score.

Mayfield completed 9-of-20 attempts for 127 yards and two scores while rushing 10 times for 42 yards before giving way to Knight. Knight’s performance validated Mayfield’s position as a starter, as he hit only 5-of-16 throws for 76 yards and an interception.

Perine led the way for Oklahoma with 188 yards and a score on 26 carries. As a team, Oklahoma out-rushed TCU 333-161.

The win pushes Oklahoma (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) into a game with Oklahoma State in Stillwater where the Sooners can clinch a Big 12 title and (at worst) Sugar Bowl berth with a victory. In addition to threats from Notre Dame and others, the Sooners will have to battle style points questions after nearly blowing a big lead against a TCU team playing without Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson.

TCU (9-2, 6-2 Big 12) is eliminated from conference championship contention with the loss, resorting to spoiler status against Baylor’s quest for a third straight Big 12 title Friday in Fort Worth.

Florida State spending $100,000 on search firm for Willie Taggart’s replacement

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When you’re spending $17+ million to buyout the head coach, what’s another six-figures?

That’s the case at Florida State, where the school on Thursday released their contract with the search firm DHR International to reporters. As noted by the Tampa Bay Times, that includes a $100,000 flat fee as part of the deal and an interesting clause that states they’ll get a free search if, for any reason, the next head coach is let go within the two years.

The firm was retained by university brass last month to assist with the replacement of recently fired head coach Willie Taggart.

Glenn (Sugiyama) has been outstanding in assisting with our coaching search,” FSU athletic director David Coburn said in a statement. “We appreciate his professionalism, and we have benefitted from the breadth of his relationships throughout the industry. His work has been invaluable.”

Unlike many of his peers going through searches, Coburn has little experience in athletics prior to taking his current position and the high profile nature of replacing Taggart makes the use of a search firm quite understandable — even with the hefty fee in place.

Various reports in and around Tallahassee have pointed to Memphis head coach Mike Norvell as one of the favorites to take over the program following the AAC title game on Saturday.

MWC, Sun Belt commissioners join AAC in starting to stump for Group of Five bid

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Most of the political world may be focused on the upcoming Democratic debates this month but for a slice of the college football world, no debate looms larger than the one concerning who gets the automatic Group of Five bid to the New Year’s Six.

AAC commissioner Mike Aresco has been on a media blitz recently to sump for his league the past two weeks, appearing on a variety of outlets as diverse as Bloomberg to the regular national radio and talk shows that dot the landscape. His message is a pretty simple one that he backs up with plenty of strength of schedule arguments but is essentially: the winner of Saturday’s Memphis-Cincinnati game should get the invite regardless what happens elsewhere.

The Tigers have been the College Football Playoff Selection Committee’s top-ranked Group of Five team recently and likely sit with a win-and-in scenario. The question is though, what happens if the two-loss Bearcats emerge victorious?

That’s what fans of Boise State and Appalachian State are hoping for as both, if they win their respective conference title games, will be positioned to grab the bit in a close race with the AAC winner.

Now it appears that both the MWC and Sun Belt commissioners are joining Aresco in getting their talking points out in hopes that they somehow make their way to the committee’s ears.

“I am disappointed that Appalachian State is not ranked higher,” Sun Belt commish Keith Gill told The Athletic this week. “They are 11-1, 6-0 on the road, the only Group of 5 team to beat two Autonomy 5 teams on the road, and I believe that their body of work deserves more respect.”

“We just let the results kind of speak for themselves,” MWC counterpart Craig Thompson added. “I think we’ve done enough. When it really gets down to it, it’s the people in the room at the Gaylord in Texas (the CFP committee) that’ll make the determination. So as long as we’re stating our case, everything else is kind of superfluous. It really doesn’t matter what others think. It’s those people that are raising their hand”

While neither are quite beating the drum like their AAC counterpart, it’s clear there’s going to be plenty of campaigning for the elusive spot — and the hefty revenue bump that comes with it — from now until Sunday.

NCAA committee chair hints at changes coming to four-game redshirt rule

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This college football season has been a bit different from most thanks to a combination of two factors that have very little to do with the play on the field: a new rule allowing players to redshirt despite playing in four games and the NCAA transfer portal.

Amid a flurry of player movement as a result of those two, on top of unique situations like Houston’s D’Eriq King deciding to take a redshirt in what amounts to a lost year for the Cougars, it seems the powers at be are already eyeing tweaking the current status quo. West Virgnia AD Shane Lyons chairs the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee and remarked on a local radio show that adjustments to the current set of rules are likely to be discussed during meetings at the NCAA convention in January.

“I don’t think it’s a good optic for college sports,” Lyons said, according to the West Virginia MetroNews. “The way it looks, a student-athlete is potentially quitting on his team.

“It’s something the committee will look at in their January meeting to make any adjustments as necessary.”

Despite the redshirt rule originating from coaches themselves, in practice it has proven to be problematic for many because players have either removed themselves from action in order to save up a season and play elsewhere or simply entered the transfer portal. Such roster management concerns have led to plenty of criticism about the unintended consequences of the changes and now it appears the adults in the room are getting together to come up with a few changes to defeat the reasoning behind both rules.

We’ll see what happens between now and the January meetings but the days of going four-and-out for some might be coming to an end with the 2019 season.

Nearly half of Saturday’s conference championship games feature double-digit odds

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At least based on the sportsbooks, you shouldn’t expect much drama on championship weekend — which means we should all brace for absolute and utter hell breaking loose, of course.

Friday night and on into Saturday, the 10 FBS conferences will hold their respective league championship games, the results of which will not only shape the College Football Playoff but the New Year’s Six Bowls and all the way down to the lower-tier bowls. As of this posting, and by way of the BetMGM Sportsbook, nearly half of those 10 title games feature double-digit odds:

A fifth, the Big 12 championship game, is nearly double-digits as No. 6 Oklahoma is a 9½-point favorite over No. 7 Baylor.

Editor’s note: Need tickets to this weekend’s games? Click here

The other five matchups have hovered around seven points or so, including the SEC title game featuring 6½-point favorite and second-ranked LSU clashing with No. 4 Georgia, since the matchups were decided last weekend: