Associated Press

No. 12 Oklahoma hangs on to beat Texas and remain in Big 12, CFP races

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What looked at the beginning looked like a familiar rout turned into an instant classic. No. 12 Oklahoma looked like it was primed to blow out an undermanned and unprepared Texas but instead found itself overcoming a fourth quarter deficit as Baker Mayfield‘s touchdown pass to Mark Andrews pushed the Sooners over the Longhorns, 29-24.

Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) roared out of the gate of Saturday’s Red River affair, mounting a 20-0 lead before Texas could mount so much as a serious drive. Mayfield’s second pass of the game was a perfectly-placed 54-yard rainbow to Jeff Badet for a touchdown. Rodney Anderson glided in untouched for a 15-yard scoring run, and a pair of Austin Seibert field goals staked the Sooners to a 20-point edge.

But Texas (3-3, 2-1 Big 12) finally woke in the second quarter, set up by a 41-yard Kyle Porter kickoff return and completed on a 16-yard screen pass from Sam Ehlinger to Porter. The Sooners were driving just before the half in an attempt to stretch the lead back to 20, but John Bonney became the first defender to intercept Mayfield this season on a 4th-and-3 pass. That allowed Texas to mount a responding drive, as Joshua Rowland knocked in a 34-yard field goal to pull the Longhorns with 10 at the half.

Texas nearly intercepted Mayfield again on the first possession of the second half, but linebacker Breckyn Hager could not corral the pass that hit him in the numbers, and Seibert’s third field goal pushed the lead to 23-10.

Texas moved 75 yards in 13 plays, largely on Ehlinger’s legs, on the ensuing possession, and Chris Warren‘s 1-yard run, aided by Ehlinger pushing him across the goal line, cut the lead to 23-17 with 4:27 to play in the third quarter. The Longhorns were primed to take the lead when Ehlinger had Devin Duvernay streaking uncovered down the sideline, but his 42-yard pass carried the receiver out of bounds and the ‘Horns turned the ball over on downs. No matter, Texas moved 73 yards in eight plays to take the lead on an 8-yard Ehlinger (278 passing yards to go with a game-high 106 yards on 22 carries) run with 8:01 to play.

After spending the entire second half in a slumber, Oklahoma’s offense awakened when it had to do so. Mayfield found a wide open Andrews for a 59-yard touchdown. Mayfield’s 2-point pass to Andrews sailed out of bounds, forcing the Sooners to defend a 29-24 lead with 6:53 to play. Playing his fourth and (probably) final game against Texas, Mayfield finished 17-of-27 for 302 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

Ehlinger led Texas to midfield but left the game after banging his head on the Cotton Bowl turf, and Shane Buechele entered and took the ball to the Sooners’ 31-yard line with 2:45 to play. Texas would get no further though, as Buchele was sacked and a pair of penalties pushed the Longhorns’ into 2nd- and 3rd-and-long. Ehlinger fired incomplete on third and fourth downs, and Texas did not get the ball back until the 49-second mark at their own 3-yard line. With no timeouts remaining, Texas moved to midfield but no further, and Oklahoma had its sixth Red River win in the last eight years.

USC safety C.J. Pollard enters transfer portal

USC safety C.J. Pollard has entered the NCAA transfer portal.
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USC safety C.J. Pollard announced he decided to enter the transfer portal. The redshirt junior posted on his Twitter account Monday morning he will begin evaluating his transfer options with the intent on being a graduate transfer.

“After considerable thought and prayer, I have decided to enter the Transfer Portal as a GRADUATE,” Pollard posted on his social media account.

As a graduate transfer, Pollard will be eligible to play for any other FBS program in the fall, without having to sit out a season. Pollard will have just one final season of eligibility to use this upcoming season.

Pollard appeared in 12 games for USC in 2019 and recorded 15 tackles, with one tackle for a loss. Pollard was listed second on the USC depth chart at the end of the 2019 season. Pollard was the first backup free safety listed behind starter Isaiah Pola-Mao, a redshirt sophomore set to return and (likely) continue being the starter for the Trojans in 2020.

DeMarco Murray returns to Oklahoma as running backs coach

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In the past, Oklahoma’s running backs coaches might have pointed to DeMarco Murray as an example of how it’s done. Murray redshirted, fought through multiple serious injuries, stuck around for his senior year, set numerous program records and then led a productive NFL career, including leading the league in rushing in 2014.

Now, Oklahoma’s running backs coach will be DeMarco Murray.

Murray was announced Monday as the newest member of Lincoln Riley‘s coaching staff.

“This is a really exciting day, being able to welcome one of our program’s all-time best players back to Norman,” Lincoln Riley said in a statement. “DeMarco had a tremendous playing career both at OU and in the NFL and has a passion for coaching and helping young men grow as players and people. He’s got an incredibly bright coaching future and will be an outstanding mentor to our players. I don’t think there’s anyone better to lead our running backs. Everyone in our program is excited to have DeMarco, his wife Heidi and their children as part of our family.”

A product of powerhouse Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Murray signed with Oklahoma in 2006 and left school with the program’s record in all-purpose yards (6,718) and touchdowns (65). That means, in all of OU’s storied history of producing prolific offenses, no player carried the ball for more yards or crossed the goal line more than Murray.

“This is very surreal,” Murray said. “Obviously I never thought I’d be back coaching at the place where it all started for me. Having the opportunity to come back and be among great coaches and be with some of the people I grew up with is exciting. I’m thankful for the opportunity Coach Riley is giving me and I’m looking forward to being back home.”

Murray replaces Jay Boulware, who left to become the tight ends coach and special teams coordinator at Texas, his own alma mater.

Murray arrives in Norman with only one year of coaching experience, serving as Kevin Sumlin‘s running backs coach at Arizona last season. After a 7-year NFL career, Murray spent 2018 as an analyst for FOX Sports.

All signs point to Bo Pelini being next LSU defensive coordinator

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Bo Pelini (remember him?) is set to be the next LSU defensive coordinator, according to multiple reports on Monday, though FootballScoop was the first to report on the possibility a full week ago.

Pelini will return to a job he held from 2005-07, when he served as Les Miles‘ first defensive coordinator in Baton Rouge and helped LSU win the 2007 national championship. From there, he became the head coach at Nebraska, where he went 66-27 in seven seasons. Though he never brought a Big 12 or Big Ten title to Lincoln, Pelini’s Huskers teams joined only Alabama and Oregon in winning at least nine games each year from 2008-14. After being pushed out following the 2014 campaign, Pelini has spent the past five seasons as the head coach at Youngstown State, where he is 33-28.

The volcanic Pelini represents a stark departure from the stoic Dave Aranda, who left earlier this month to become the head coach at Baylor.

According to Sports Illustrated‘s Ross Dellenger, Pelini will make around $2 million a year, which represents a massive raise from his salary as an FCS head coach but a major savings for LSU, who paid Aranda a best-in-the-nation salary of $2.5 million. (Update: CFT has learned Pelini’s salary is likely to be closer to Aranda’s deal than previously reported.)

Though he’s spent the past 30 seasons in coaching, Pelini does not have a ton of experience as a coordinator. Aside from the three seasons in his first stint at LSU, Pelini spent just one season as the defensive coordinator at Nebraska (2003) and one as a co-coordinator at Oklahoma (2004).

Nevertheless, he takes over a defense that’s fresh off a national championship that both loses and returns a ton of talent. The Tigers will look to replace all four starting linebackers plus defensive ends Rashard Lawrence and Breiden Fehoko, safety Grant Delpit and cornerback Kristian Fulton, but the 2020 defense will be led by perhaps college football’s best defender in sophomore corner Derek Stingley plus safeties JaCoby Stevens and Kary Vincent, Jr.

Clemson lands commitment from No. 1 prospect in 2021 class

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We’re just days away from putting the finishing touches on the mostly-complete 2020 recruiting class, and as such most coaches have turned their attention to 2021.

And, wouldn’t you know, Clemson is off to a blazing fast start. After Dabo Swinney landed the school’s first No. 1 overall class in 2020 — with an eye-popping six 5-stars among its 23 commitments, including No. 1 overall player Bryan Bresse — Clemson is once again ranked No. 1 in the early stages of the 2021 rankings.

They got there thanks to the Sunday night commitment of Korey Foreman, who stands as the No. 1 overall player in the class of 2021 according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

Foreman hails from Corona, Calif., and he stands as yet another example of the national appeal Clemson has right now. He’ll pair with 5-star quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, a 2020 signee, as Golden State anchors as Clemson looks to further expand its orange-and-purple empire across all 50 states. Foreman’s pledge gives Clemson the No. 1 overall player in three of the last four classes, dating back to Trevor Lawrence in 2018.

Clemson’s 2021 class now consists of Foreman and eight 4-stars, edging Ohio State’s class of one 5-star, six 4-stars and a pair of 3-stars. Notre Dame, Texas and Florida currently round out the top five.