Texas holds on for momentum-building upset of QB-depleted No. 12 Baylor

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Odds are we may not see too many seasons in which Texas beats two top 15 teams away from home in the same season and does not go to a bowl game. Folks, you may have just witnessed history.

Texas (5-7, 4-5) ended a losing season without a bowl game with a rather important victory in Waco by upsetting No. 12 Baylor (9-3, 6-3 Big 12) with a 23-17 victory that nearly got away from them in the second half. Texas built a 20-0 lead at halftime but Baylor managed to make a run at the Longhorns despite having their third-string quarterback knocked out of the game and having to run the offense with a wide receiver.

Baylor lost third-string quarterback Chris Johnson during the game, with Johnson having to leave the game due to concussion symptoms. That left Baylor without a passing option, which is a rare occurrence for Art Briles. Junior wide receiver Lynx Hawthorne took over in the emergency situation, and Baylor nearly escaped with the win. Hawthorne completed 10 of 22 pass attempts for 64 yards and was picked off twice.

Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes completed 12 of 19 pass attempts for 151 yards and a touchdown and he added 52 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground to help Texas score the upset. Star Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman, who was recognized on the field before the game along with Baylor’s seniors, caught seven passes for 49 yards.

Texas now enters the pool of 5-7 teams that will hope to get an invite to the postseason fun. That invitation is not likely at all to reach Austin though with a number of teams already sitting in front in the waiting line based on APR scores. So the focus for Charlie Strong will now shift to 2016, and it should be a critical one for Strong. He will do so with a bit of a signature win, or at least one to build momentum moving forward.

Over the more recent years Texas has seen everyone catch up or pass them among power conference threats, including Baylor. To be able to end a season with a win against Baylor, even if it was largely because Baylor was playing with a wide receiver under center, should be used as fuel for the offseason for Strong and the Longhorns. Texas is the program that must catch the competition right now, but at least they can sell the idea they can compete on the same field and start to try winning back momentum in the state. Maybe this was a fluke, but Texas should not treat it as such.

With the loss, Baylor’s chances of playing int he New Years Six lineup have been shredded. With Baylor out, and Oklahoma very likely to be selected to play in the College Football Playoff, the Big 12 will be expected to be represented in the Sugar Bowl by Oklahoma State. Baylor’s bowl destination will fall outside the New Years Six with the Alamo Bowl and Russell Athletic Bowl possibilities.

TE Jordan Wilson to transfer from UCLA

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UCLA redshirt junior Jordan Wilson has announced he is leaving the Bruins. In a post on his Twitter account on Friday afternoon, Wilson announced he is entering the transfer portal with the intent of finishing up his collegiate career with some other program.

“[I’d] like to announce that I will be entering the transfer portal, graduating at the end of the Spring quarter, and playing my final year of eligibility somewhere else,” Wilson announced in a statement on his Twitter account.

The decision of Wilson to leave UCLA comes at an unfortunate time for the Bruins. Wilson was likely to be a starter at tight end for UCLA in the fall. Wilson is the third tight end to leave UCLA this offseason. Devin Asiasi previously made the decision to declare for the NFL draft a year early. Matt Lynch also stepped into the transfer portal. Now, UCLA has a wide-open competition for playing time at the tight end spot beginning this spring.

Wilson caught seven passes for 72 yards for UCLA in 2019. He will leave UCLA having caught 25 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns in the past three seasons. As a graduate transfer, Wilson will be eligible to play his final year of eligibility anywhere he ends up this fall.

USC nabs Todd Orlando from Texas Tech

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USC has a new defensive coordinator. The Trojans announced on Friday the school has officially hired Todd Orlando to fill the role of defensive coordinator. Orlando joins USC after coaching the past three seasons at Texas.

Orlando actually joined the Texas Tech program after being let go by Texas following staff changes with the Longhorns. Despite landing a job with the Red Raiders, Orlando remained a top target for USC head coach Clay Helton.

“We are excited to have Todd join our Trojan football program,” Helton said in a released statement. “He is an experienced and successful defensive coordinator who has made an impact everywhere he has coached. He brings a passion, energy, toughness and discipline to his coaching and those characteristics were evident in our discussions. His defensive system poses an extreme challenge to offenses.”

Orlando replaces Clancy Pendergast, who was let go by Helton amid USC’s own staff changes after a down 2019 season. As previously mentioned (HERE), Orlando actually had worse defensive numbers compared to what Pendergast coached with USC last season. However, a contrast of playing styles and offensive outputs between the schedule Texas faced in 2019 (including games against LSU and Oklahoma) and what USC faced could lead to some skewed figures.

Orlando’s first test as a defensive coordinator will be a monster. USC opens the 2020 season in Arlington, Texas against Alabama.

Cal loses assistant Gerald Alexander to NFL job

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Cal assistant coach Gerald Alexander is leaving to coach with the Miami Dolphins. Alexander confirmed in a message posted on his Twitter account he is heading to the NFL for a coaching opportunity. Multiple reports have confirmed it will be with the Miami Dolphins.

Alexander thanked Cal head coach Justin Wilcox for the opportunity to be a part of Wilcox’s first coaching staff at Cal.

Alexander joined the Cal program in 2017 and spent the past three seasons as a defensive backs coach for the program. He has played a role in helping to coach one of the better defensive teams in the Pac-12. He previously coached at Montana State, Indiana State and with Chris Peterssen at Washington. Alexander played for Petersen at Boise State.

This will mark a return to the NFL for Alexander. He previously played in the league for five seasons with the Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, and, appropriately enough, the Miami Dolphins. Alexander was a second-round draft pick of Detroit in 2007.

Tulane officially adds Oklahoma State transfer LB Kevin Henry

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One of the nearly dozen Oklahoma State football players who entered the transfer portal this cycle has found a new collegiate home.

Thursday, Tulane announced that Kevin Henry has officially been added to the program’s roster.  As the linebacker left the Oklahoma State football team as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play for the AAC team immediately in 2020.

The upcoming season will serve as Henry’s final year of eligibility.  Henry had previously been awarded a sixth season from the NCAA after taking a redshirt as a true freshman and then missing all but one game of 2017 because of a torn ACL.

A three-star member of the Oklahoma State football Class of 2015, Henry was rated as the No. 25 safety in the country.  He was also the No. 20 player regardless of position in the state of Louisiana.  Only one signee on the defensive side of the ball in OSU’s class that year, defensive tackle Darrion Daniels, was rated higher than Henry.

Daniels, incidentally, ultimately finished up his collegiate playing career at Nebraska after transferring to the Cornhuskers in December of 2018.

During his time in Stillwater, Henry played in a total of 36 games, including a dozen appearances this past season.  He started one of those three-dozen games, Oklahoma State football’s Liberty Bowl win over Missouri following the 2018 regular season.

In those appearances, Daniels was credited with 51 tackles, two tackles for loss, one interception, one forced fumble, one quarterback hit and one pass defensed.