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Joe Mixon stars as No. 7 OU overpowers No. 14 Auburn in Sugar Bowl

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Oklahoma’s stars shined as the seventh-ranked Sooners pulled away from an overmatched No. 14 Auburn, cruising to a 35-19 Sugar Bowl victory on Monday night.

The Sooners were led by Joe Mixon, the center of attention both on and off the field throughout the night. Trailing 7-0 early in the second quarter and facing a 3rd-and-22 (one play after a Carl Lawson offsides penalty negated what would have been an Auburn stop), Mixon hauled in a 32-yard reception to extend the drive. Baker Mayfield tied the game five plays later on a 13-yard touchdown pass to Mark Andrews.

After a Daniel Carlson field goal nudged Auburn back in front, Mixon gave Oklahoma (11-2) a lead it would not relinquish when he plunged in from three yards out to put the Sooners up 14-10 with 3:37 to play in the first half. Mixon later added a 4-yard touchdown run and finished the night rushing 19 times for 91 yards and two touchdowns with a game-high five grabs for 89 yards.

That’s not to say Mixon was the only star of the night for Oklahoma, though. Mayfield (19-of-28 passing for 296 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, four rushes for 34 yards) connected with Dede Westbrook six times for 59 yards and a 7-yard touchdown strike on the first drive of the third quarter. Needing 83 yards to top Billy Sims‘s all-time rushing record of 4,118 yards (including bowl games), Samaje Perine carried 16 times for 86 yards and a 2-yard touchdown. He finishes his third season in Norman with 4,121 career rushing yards.

Overall, Oklahoma rushed 43 times for 228 yards (5.3 a carry) and rolled up 524 total yards on 7.38 yards per play.

Auburn (8-5) started the game extremely well, opening with a ground-based 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive punctuated by a 3-yard Chandler Cox touchdown plunge on a 4th-and-2. But quarterback Sean White reportedly broke his arm on a rush one play before that and, though he would go on to play most of the first half, was ultimately replaced by John Franklin III. Franklin led Auburn to a second Carlson field goal to pull the Tigers within 14-13 at the half but did not dent the scoreboard in the second half before leaving with an injury of his own. Jeremy Johnson finished the game for Auburn; the three signal callers combined to complete 12-of-26 passes for 153 yards with an end zone interception tossed by Johnson. Kamryn Pettway led all rushers with 24 carries for 101 yards, and Kerryon Johnson rushed nine times for 33 yards. Johnson also tossed a 1-yard jump pass touchdown to Jalen Harris on the final play of the game, a play Auburn coach Gus Malzahn called two timeouts to set up with his team trailing by 22 at the time.

The win extends Oklahoma’s winning streak over the hated SEC to four games, its overall winning streak to 10 and, equally important in this College Football Playoff era, pushes the Big 12 into 2017 with a 4-2 overall bowl record, including two wins over the SEC in three tries.

LSU opens as double-digit favorites on Oklahoma; Ohio State slight underdog to Clemson

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While definitely subject to change, the initial wagering odds for the degenerates in the reading audience are out.

Earlier Sunday, and in a surprise to absolutely no one, the four semifinalists for the 2019 College Football Playoff were released.  LSU was given the No. 1 seed by the selection committee and will face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl.  No. 2 Ohio State, which came into Championship Saturday ranked first in the country, will square off with No. 3 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.

According to the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, LSU is a 7/5 favorite to win the 2019 national championship.  Clemson is next at 2/1, while Ohio State sits at 3/1.  Oklahoma, which won its way into the playoffs at the expense of Georgia, is a decided underdog at 16/1.

Speaking of underdogs, the SEC Tigers are currently listed as a 12½-point favorite in their matchup with the Sooners.  Despite being the higher seed, the Buckeyes have opened as a two-point underdog to the ACC Tigers.

The over/under for Ohio State-Clemson opened at 63; for LSU-Oklahoma, it’s at 75.

LSU and Oklahoma have squared off just twice previously, with the most recent matchup coming in 2004.  Clemson and Ohio State have met three times in their collective histories, the most recent meeting coming in the 2016 College Football Playoff — a 31-0 win for the Tigers.

Arkansas confirms hiring of Georgia OL coach Sam Pittman as head coach

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When it came to replacing the fired Chad Morris, Arkansas, as it turned out, didn’t have to look outside of the SEC.

Sunday, with one of its top targets, Lane Kiffin, already having been locked up by SEC West rival Ole Miss, Arkansas reportedly pivoted its attention to Georgia’s Sam Pittman.  A few hours later, the Razorbacks confirmed that Pittman has been hired as the school’s next head football coach.

“Sam Pittman has been an integral part of successful teams that have competed at the highest levels, including for SEC and NCAA Championships,” UA athletic director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. “As one of the nation’s premier offensive line coaches, he has built a remarkable body of work thanks to his tremendous passion for his student-athletes, including teaching the fundamentals and developing his players on and off the field. Sam instills in his players the motivation, grit and determination required to compete and win. Throughout this process, I heard from many of his former players about the tremendous influence he had on them as a player and as a man.

“Sam knows the Southeastern Conference inside and out and is one of the nation’s best recruiters. His connections throughout football will enable him to build a quality coaching staff. In his previous tenure, Sam and his wife Jamie fell in love with the state of Arkansas and with Razorback fans. They know what a special place this is and are excited for the opportunity to come back to the Home of the Razorbacks.”

The hiring marks a return to Fayetteville for Pittman as he was a member of Bret Bielema‘s first coaching staff in 2013. In 2016, he left for Georgia, where he spent the past four seasons as the Bulldogs’ offensive line coach.  He also served as Kirby Smart‘s associate head coach.

The 58-year-old Pittman will be officially introduced as the Razorbacks’ 34th head coach Monday afternoon.

Mizzou zeroing in on Eli Drinkwitz as next head coach

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Once again, it appears a Power Five program will pilfer a Group of Five school for its next head football coach.

Sunday afternoon, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported that Applachian State’s Eli Drinkwitz “has emerged as a strong candidate” for the vacancy at Missouri.  Subsequent to that, ESPN.com reported that “Drinkwitz has reached an agreement to become Missouri’s next head football coach and a deal is being finalized.”

An official announcement of Drinkwitz becoming the permanent replacement for Barry Odom, who was fired late last month after four seasons at his alma mater, is expected no later than Monday.

The 36-year-old Drinkwitz is in his first season as the head coach of the Mountaineers, his first head-coaching job at any level of football.  App State stands at 12-1 on the season after claiming its second-straight Sun Belt Conference championship Saturday with a win over Louisiana.

Dec. 21, App State will face UAB in the New Orleans Bowl.

Georgia WR Dominick Blaylock reportedly suffered ACL tear in SEC title game loss

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A rough weekend for Georgia was underscored on Sunday as reports surfaced saying one of their key young players is done for the rest of this year and likely part of the next one.

As per Rivals’ Radi Nabulsi and a host of other beat writers in Athens, Bulldogs receiver Dominick Blaylock suffered a torn ACL in the loss against LSU in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday.

The freshman from Marietta, Ga. had to be carted off the field in the first quarter after making a short catch and planting his knee awkwardly. The team’s top receiver, Lawrence Cager, was already out after undergoing knee surgery on Nov. 29.

Blaylock had made 18 catches for 310 yards and five touchdowns at UGA this season.