Behind 672-yard offensive effort, No. 20 OU beats Texas in Red River shootout

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Despite out-gaining Texas by more than 150 yards in the first half, three unseemly turnovers forced Oklahoma to take just a 14-13 lead into the break.

The Sooners got out of their own way in the second half. As did Texas. And in the process No. 20 Oklahoma dropped 672 yards in a 45-40 Red River Showdown win over the reeling Longhorns in Dallas.

The tight first half gave way to an offensive explosion to open the second, as Shane Buechele (245 yards, three touchdowns on an uncharacteristically inaccurate 19-of-36 passing) closed drives with a 63-yard touchdown pass to Devin Duvernay and a 45-yard heave to Dorian Leonard, but those scores proved to be brief respites against a crimson avalanche.

Oklahoma (3-2, 2-0 Big 12) scored on six consecutive possession from the close of the first half and through the entire second half, and each march was a lengthy one: 85 yards in four plays, 79 yards in three plays, 85 yards in seven plays, 76 yards in four plays, 93 yards in 13 plays and a 60-yard field goal march in 14 plays. The Sooners treated a historically porous Texas defense as did California and Oklahoma State, moving the ball through the air and on the ground.

Texas (2-3, 0-2 Big 12) had no answer for Dede Westbrook, who hauled in 10 receptions in 10 targets for a school-record 232 yards and touchdowns of 42, 47 and an Oklahoma series record 71 yards. And when Westbrook wasn’t dancing through a vacant secondary, Samaje Perine was busting up an overmatched burnt orange front. The FBS single-game rushing record holder carried 35 times for 214 yards and two touchdowns, while Baker Mayfield hit 22-of-31 throws for 390 yards and three touchdowns through the air with 20 more yards and an additional score on the ground.

The first two scores in Oklahoma’s run overcame deficits of 10-7 and 20-14, and, after Buechele’s second touchdown pass, turned a 27-21 hole into a 42-27 lead the Sooners held for the rest of the game. Barely.

Texas mounted a comeback effort with a six-play, 67-yard drive capped by Buechele’s third touchdown pass, this one to Armanti Foreman, and, after an Austin Seibert field goal banked in off the right upright pushed the score to 45-34, the ‘Horns moved 69 yards in five snaps on the legs of D'Onta Foreman (25 carries for 159 bruising yards), including a 22-yarder to pull UT within 45-40 with 1:45 to play.

After tight end Mark Andrews, whose earlier drops resulted in an interception and a punt, recovered the ensuing onside kick, Oklahoma attempted to run out the remainder of the clock but, on a 3rd-and-5 at the Texas 39, Mayfield scrambled and lost the ball, briefly alluding Texas the chance to take over around midfield with a minute remaining, but the Sooners hopped on the loose pigskin. Texas could not mount a serious threat with just 24 yards remaining from its own 10-yard line.

Toledo suspends DE Terrance Taylor for dirty hit against NIU

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Sometimes a player makes a hit so dirty, a head coach simply won’t waste time waiting to hear from the conference’s office regarding the player’s status moving forward. Such was the case for Toledo head coach Jason Candle when addressing a nasty hit delivered by defensive end Terrance Taylor Wednesday night against NIU. Toledo has suspended Taylor for the next game on the schedule, against Buffalo.

Taylor came in flying from behind NIU quarterback Ross Bowers well after the end of a play that saw Bowers fell to the ground and was getting up. Taylor lined into the back of Bowers with a helmet-to-helmet hit from behind on the unsuspecting quarterback.

Bowers was ejected from the game for targeting. Because the ejection occurred in the second half of Wednesday night’s game, NCAA rules would prohibit Taylor form playing in the first half of Toledo’s next game. But Candle and Toledo are going one extra step and just sidelining him for the entire game.

“We are disappointed that this play occurred,” Candle said in a released statement. “It’s not something we coach. We’ll use it as a teaching tool for our team on the value of discipline in emotional times.”

Given the severity of the hit, some form of reprimand could also be in the works from the MAC, although it would seem Candle and Toledo are handling this appropriately with a full game suspension. College football simply doesn’t need those kinds of plays in the game.

Minnesota regents approve new contract for P.J. Fleck

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As expected, Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck now has a brand new contract to remain the head coach of the Golden Gophers. After agreeing to terms on a new deal and the school officially recognizing the new deal last week, just before a monster of a win for the program, the contract has been given the final green light to become officially official after the Board of Regents voted to approve the terms of the new contract.

As previously reported, Fleck will have a new seven-year contract good through the 2026 season and the terms of the buyout were significantly increased to fend off would-be suitors looking for a new head coach this year on the coaching carousel, and potentially in the next few years as well before the buyout drops off in price. Of course, any school with deep enough pockets willing to pony up to get Fleck to be their guy will still make a phone call or two, but Fleck appears to be settled in with Minnesota for the foreseeable future.

In addition to Fleck seeing his own pay increase, Minnesota’s regents also signed off on providing more combined salary for an assistant coaching staff with an extra $1.05 million being placed in the budget for assistant coaches.

Now that all of that contract business is squared away, Fleck can continue to focus on Minnesota’s next task on the field. This week, Minnesota heads on the road to face Iowa in a pivotal Big Ten West Division game. The Gophers remain undefeated and have climbed to No. 8 in the College Football Playoff ranking. A win on the road against Iowa could set Minnesota up for a regular-season finale riding an 11-0 record and the division already clinched for a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game.

It’s no wonder Minnesota decided to lock down Fleck while they still could.

FAU TE John Raine awarded another year of eligibility

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We overlooked this one earlier in the week, but it’s a rather sizable piece of official news for Lane Kiffin‘s Florida Atlantic football program.

By way of the Palm Beach Post Tuesday, it has been confirmed that John Raine was recently awarded a fifth season of eligibility.  The ruling will allow the senior tight end to play for the Owls in 2020.

A broken ankle cost Raine all but four games of his true freshman season in 2016, paving the way for the NCAA to rule in his favor on his appeal for another year of eligibility.

“I’m super excited about it,” Raine told the Post about the NCAA’s approval of a medical hardship waiver. “I love being here; I love playing football.”

With two regular-season games plus a bowl remaining, Rainer has already set career-highs in receptions (26), receiving yards (426) and receiving touchdowns (five).  The touchdowns are tops on the Owls.

This weekend, a Notre Dame home game won’t be sold out for first time since 1973

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All good things, streaks in this particular case, must come to an end.

Saturday afternoon in South Bend, Notre Dame will play host to Navy in the 93rd renewal of their football rivalry.  And, according to the South Bend Tribune, the game won’t be played in front of a sellout crowd at Notre Dame Stadium (capacity: 77,622), which is actually a startling development.

This weekend, you see, will mark the first time since Thanksgiving Day 1973 (vs. Air Force) that the Fighting Irish haven’t sold out a home football game, snapping a streak of 273 straight sellouts.  Ahead of that streak being snapped, the Irish’s athletic director for the past dozen years, Jack Swarbrick, attempted to downplay the development.

From the Tribune:

It was never sort of important to me to keep it alive, but I understand why other people thought so. It’s a point of distinction to a lot of people and our fans.

“For me it’s always been: What’s the stadium environment like? Are we creating a great environment for our team and for our student-athletes? That you can say it’s also sold out is sort of a byproduct of that.

“But if my choice is (77,622) people in an environment that’s not really good versus 75,000 in a raucous environment, I’ll take the latter every time.

Notre Dame’s 237-game streak had been the second-longest active streak in college football behind Nebraska’s 373, which will move to 374 when Big Red hosts Wisconsin this weekend. The last time the Cornhuskers failed to sellout Memorial Stadium was during the 1962 season.