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.

UConn AD gives Randy Edsall a vote of confidence

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UConn is 6-30 in the 2.0 tenure of Randy Edsall, having gone 3-9 in 2017, 1-11 last year and 2-10 this. The program reportedly also has more than a dozen players in the transfer portal.

Needless to say, it’s not a good time in the annals of Husky football, but it’s also not a good time to make a coaching change. The program is short on cash and in the midst of transitioning from the American to life as an FBS independent, and AD David Benedict has no plans to add another major change on top of that. As he told the AP on Sunday:

“I’m not saying that everyone has to share the same opinion or have the same level of confidence in Coach Edsall that I do, but he has to be given the time to build the program and you can’t do it in three years,” he said. “Ultimately over the next three years, we’ll hopefully see our program become more and more competitive.”

As far as votes of confidence go, this is about the least confident you’ll ever see an AD be when he backs his coach.

But at the same time, it’s also one of the most concrete. Whereas most ADs will commit to backing their coach through the end of that season and the one following at the absolute most, Benedict seems to indicate Edsall will not only be back in 2020, but 2021 and ’22 as well.

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.