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No. 15 Oklahoma State survives Lubbock gut check

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Fighting to keep its Big 12 and national championship hopes alive, No. 15 Oklahoma State rolled up 32 first downs and 602 yards of total offense but still hung on to outlast Texas Tech, 41-34 in Lubbock.

It appeared early like Oklahoma State was going to run the Red Raiders off their own field. The Cowboys forced a Texas Tech three-and-out to open the game, then moved 68 yards in seven plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 14-yard strike from Mason Rudolph to James Washington. The Cowboys forced another punt on Texas Tech’s next touch, and then advanced the ball to the Texas Tech red zone before Damarcus Fields grabbed a Rudolph overthrow and returned it 95 yards for a touchdown to level the game at 7-7.

Oklahoma State (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) again moved to the red zone on its third possession, but Texas Tech forced a field goal try that Matt Ammendola doinked off the right upright from 22 yards out. Given new life, Texas Tech raced 80 yards in eight snaps, taking a 14-7 lead on a 3-yard toss from Nic Shimonek to Dylan Cantrell. The Red Raiders briefly seized complete control of the game when Marcell Ateman was ruled short of the line to gain on a 3rd-and-10 completion at the Texas Tech 10-yard line, but a replay review handed him a first down, and Rudolph tied the game again one play later on a toss to running back Justice Hill.

Texas Tech (3-1, 0-1 Big 12) punted for a third time on its next possession, and Oklahoma State grabbed its second lead of the game when Rudolph closed an 88-yard drive by finding Jalen McCleskey wide open for a 4-yard touchdown toss.

The Red Raiders held serve with a field goal, although Justin Stockton appeared to cross the plane on a run with five seconds left before halftime but was ruled out of bounds.

Shimonek’s pass was batted away with two seconds left, and Michael Barden booted a 22-yard field goal as time expired.

Oklahoma State accepted the ball to open the second half and picked up where it left off, moving 75 yards in eight plays and grabbing a 28-17 lead on an 8-yard Rudolph run. The Cowboys then forced another three-and-out and had a chance to blow the game open, but failed to cash in a first-and-goal from the 9-yard line and settled for a 22-yard Ammendola chip shot.

The teams traded field goals until Texas Tech pulled back within seven on a 1-yard Stockton run, pushing the score to 34-27 on the first play of the fourth quarter. Oklahoma State was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct flag after the score, allowing Texas Tech to kickoff from midfield — and the Red Raiders took advantage by recovering an onside kick. However, Texas Tech immediately gave back that extra possession when Shimonek under-threw a screen pass that Cowboys defensive lineman Jordan Brailford easily intercepted. But the Tech defense forced a three-and-out and the first OSU punt of the night, then tied the game at 34-34 with 9:56 to play on a 1-yard Desmond Nisby plunge.

Oklahoma State rebounded from its one bad possession by putting together another good one, moving 73 yards to the Texas Tech 2-yard line, but Rudolph’s third-and-goal keeper was stuffed, and Ammendola again doinked a chip shot field goal off the same right upright.

The Red Raiders had a chance to take their first lead since 14-7 but advanced only to their own 37 before punting the ball back to Oklahoma State with 3:21 remaining. Aided by a 26-yard completion to Ateman on 3rd-and-5, Rudolph put Oklahoma State back in front with his second rushing touchdown, an untouched 16-yard scamper with 1:12 to play.

Texas Tech moved to midfield on its last-gasp drive, but Shimonek fired four straight incomplete passes to end the game.

Rudolph closed the night hitting 27-of-38 throws for 376 yards with three scores and one interception while adding 50 yards and two scores on the ground. It was Rudolph’s 17th 300-yard passing game, breaking a record previously held by Brandon Weeden. Hill ran 30 times for 164 yards, and Washington caught nine passes for 127 yards and a score.

Shimonek completed 29-of-46 passes for 330 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while the Red Raiders eeked out only 54 yards on 26 carries.

It was Oklahoma State’s ninth straight win over the Red Raiders, and evened the all-time series at 21-21-3.

LSU students will go to class on Saturday to make up for national title game

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LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.

According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.

So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.

The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.

While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.

Virginia safety Chris Moore enters transfer portal

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The transfer portal has claimed another name.

As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.

Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior  suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.

The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.

Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.

DL Jay Tufele, WR Tyler Vaughns skipping draft to stay at USC

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Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.

The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.

Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.

Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

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A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.