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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.

Dad of former Northwestern QB donated a real, stuffed wildcat to ‘Cats new facility

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Northwestern’s state-of-the-art football facility, literally on the shore of Lake Michigan, is now fully operational, at a low, low cost of $260 million.

The facility has everything — including an actual wild cat.

According to a story by Yahoo‘s Eric Edholm, a stuffed cat was donated to the program by Walter Siemian, the father of former Wildcat quarterback Trevor Siemian. The plan was to originally sell it and use the proceeds to benefit the program, but apparently Pat Fitzgerald saw the cat and fell in love.

Walter Siemian took down the predator — legally, of course — last November, sent the cat of prey in question to a taxidermist and then donated it to the program.

The initial understanding was that it would be sold, with the proceeds benefitting the program. After all, these things draw some serious coin. (One current listing here for a mountain lion, which this mammal appears to be, is going for more than $12,000.) But once Fitzgerald saw it, the story goes, there was no way he was letting it leave.

The cat was staying put. That’s also easy to see why. And it’s now the first thing you see when you enter the coaches’ meeting rooms.

The hope with facilities like these is that the enhanced investment into football will lead to the Northwestern coaching staff singing a different class of recruit, which will in turn allow the program to pair their stuffed mascot with some Big Ten championship trophies.

That’s the hope, at least.

Illinois lands former USC WR Josh Imatorbhebhe

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The Los Angeles-to-Champaign pipeline is alive and well.

After landing wide receiver Trevon Sidney and defensive end Oluwole Betiku, Jr., the Fighting Illini have added wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe, he announced Monday.

“Transitions are never easy, but the support has definitely helped lighten the load,” Imatorbhebhe, No. 17 above, wrote in an iPhone note posted to his Twitter account. “Without further ado I’m pleased to announce my commitment to…

THE University of Illinois; with a plan to get my Masters (sic) in Strategic Brand Communications.”

A former 4-star recruit in the class of 2016 out of Suwanee, Ga., Imatorbehbhe redshirted in his first year on campus, then caught just two passes in his two seasons on the active roster, with his 2018 season slowed by an ankle injury.

Imatorbehbhe will have two seasons to play immediately for the Illini.

Trevor Lawrence once again says he has no desire to skip bowl games to protect NFL stock

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The trend of college football players with the NFL coming into view has become a growing one the last few seasons, but Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence says you won’t have to worry about missing him in a postseason bowl game.

“Sitting out bowl games and stuff, that’ll never be me,” Lawrence said in an interview with ESPN. “You won’t have to worry about writing those stories.”

This quote is nothing new from Lawrence. In March, Lawrence stressed a similar stance with regard to sitting out of college football bowl games to protect NFL draft stock.

From The Athletic‘s Grace Raynor in March:

Asked specifically if he would consider sitting out in an effort to protect his health for an NFL future, the Georgia native answered with two resounding “No’s.” That’s not in the cards, he says.

“Everyone’s talking about that, but I don’t really care about that,” Lawrence said Monday evening in his first public interview since the College Football Playoff.

“It’s definitely not coming from me, all that stuff, so (I’ll) just kind of ignore it. Just keep working.

Of course, there is something that needs to be pointed out here. A large majority of the players choosing to skip bowl games aren’t playing in the College Football Playoff and a national championship. While New Years Six bowl games are high in prestige even if not in the playoff rotation, they simply are not the same as playing in the playoff with a national title in sight.

Lawrence has played for and won the national championship in his freshman season and probably has two more seasons that could see Clemson continue to compete for a playoff spot. If Clemson is in the playoff the next two (or three years), the chances Lawrence skips a bowl game are reduced significantly.

Maybe Lawrence is just confident in Clemson’s ability to make the playoff the next couple of seasons. He’s not wrong though, right?

Syracuse seeing spike in football season ticket sales

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Dino Babers had Syracuse enjoying a 10-win season for the first time since 2001 last season. Fans of the Orange have had their enthusiasm for the football program rejuvenated and it shows in the season ticket sales this offseason.

According to a report from Syracuse.com, Syracuse has recorded 4,500 more season ticket sales this year than the school saw all of last year. To date, as of Friday, Syracuse has sold 6,800 season tickets for the 2019 season as the total inches closer and closet to a possible school record (8,000).

On top of the increased season ticket sales, Syracuse is also seeing a great retention rate through season ticket renewals. Syracuse has seen over 90 percent of season ticket holders renew their ticket packages for the 2019 season.

Syracuse ended the 2018 season ranked No. 15 in the final AP poll. IT is the highest Syracuse has ended a season in the AP Top 25 since the 2001 season (No. 14). Babers also ended Syracuse’s bowl drought in style by coaching Syracuse to a Camping World Victory in Syracuse’s first bowl game since 2013.

Syracuse opens the 2019 season on the road at Liberty on Aug. 31.