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No. 5 Oklahoma moves in position for another Big 12 title after taking Bedlam

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In games where seemingly every other play ends in a touchdown, it’s the plays that take points off the board that matter most. Oklahoma benefitted from of those than Oklahoma State, and the fifth-ranked Sooners outlasted the 11th-ranked Cowboys for a 62-52 win in the highest-scoring Bedlam game ever.

The first of those plays came on the Pokes’ first snap of the game. After A.J. Green intercepted Mayfield on the opening drive of the game, Justice Hill momentarily raced in for a 28-yard touchdown but James Washington was called for holding, and the Oklahoma State drive ended in three points instead of seven.

The sides traded punts on their next possession, and then the track meet began. Oklahoma scored touchdowns on five straight possessions — covering 389 yards over 27 plays — to control most of the first half, but Oklahoma State went on a 4-touchdown streak of its own — moving 300 yards on the nose in 24 plays — to pull within 38-38 at halftime. Oklahoma could have had six straight touchdown drives, but its final possession of the half ended in a field goal after Mayfield was stuffed on a third-and-goal rush from the 1-yard line.

Austin Seibert‘s second field goal put Oklahoma up 41-38 with 4:47 to play in the third quarter, but the Cowboys moved in position to take their first lead since 10-7 in the first quarter when the second of those plays occurred. This time Mason Rudolph was intercepted by Will Johnson on a back-of-his-foot heave into double coverage on 1st-and-goal from the three — all things considered, it will go down as by far the worst pass Rudolph will ever throw in an Oklahoma State uniform — to give OU a third quarter shutout.

Oklahoma took advantage of the opportunity and took advantage quickly, moving 80 yards in just three plays as Rodney Anderson‘s second rushing touchdown gave the Sooners a 48-38 lead entering the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys’ offense got back on track in the third quarter, putting together 150 yards’ worth of touchdown drives in 16 plays, and its defense made another play on Mayfield on the same goal line as Chad Whitener hauled in an interception and returned it to the 35-yard line, giving Oklahoma State the ball back with a 55-52 deficit with 2:59 to play. The Cowboys moved into Oklahoma territory, but Ogbonnia Okoronkwo sacked Rudolph for a loss of 10 yards, and a pass from Rudolph to Hill bounced off Hill’s face mask and into the arms of  Oklahoma’s Tre Brown. However, a targeting foul on Johnson overturned the interception and gave OSU the ball back with a 1st-and-10 at the Sooners’ 40. However, Oklahoma State gained only two yards on its first three plays and Rudolph’s fourth-and-8 deep ball with a minute to play was overthrown. 

Trey Sermon added the capper with a 53-yard burst with 42 seconds to play.

Mayfield finished the day hitting 24-of-36 passes for a school-record 598 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions (plus a 7-yard rushing touchdown). Marquise Brown was his favorite target, hauling in nine grabs for 265 yards and two touchdowns. Sermon and Anderson combined to rush 31 times for 192 yards and two scores, giving the Sooners 785 yards of total offense and 30 first downs on 76 plays (10.32 per play).

Hill led all rushers with 220 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries, while Rudolph hit 28-of-54 throws for 448 yards with five scores against two picks. Washington left the game early due to injury but still hauled in seven grabs for 128 yards and a score.

The win gave Oklahoma (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) three straight victories over its in-state rival, five out of six, 13 out of 15 and 87 wins in 112 all-time meetings. Thanks to Iowa State’s loss to West Virginia earlier of the day, the Sooners regained control of their Big 12 and College Football Playoff destiny ahead of next Saturday’s visit from No. 8 TCU. Oklahoma State (7-2, 4-2 Big 12) would need to benefit from the combination of chaos and tiebreakers to force a rematch at AT&T Stadium in December.

Report: Baylor LB DeMarco Artis, WR Rajah Preciado leave team

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Baylor linebacker DeMarco Artis and wide receiver Rajah Preciado have left the team, according to a report from SicEm365The site reports that the pair leave the program on good terms; both players are still on the online roster as well as the paper roster that was distributed at Big 12 media days on Monday.

Artis was a rising sophomore from Sanford, Fla. He appeared in six games as a true freshman in 2017, recording one tackle and one hurry.

Preciado was a junior from College Station, Texas. Appearing in 18 games over his freshman and sophomore seasons, Preciado did not record a catch but posted 14 career tackles and returned one kickoff for 10 yards.

 

 

Former Ohio State defensive MVP Mike Kudla passes away

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Former Ohio State defensive end Mike Kudla passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, according to a Facebook post from his high school alma mater, Highland High School in Medina, Ohio. Kudla was 34.

Kudla signed with Ohio State in 2002 and immediately helped the Buckeyes to their first national championship since 1968. He would go on to become one of the top 15 sack artists in Ohio State history, a First Team All-Big Ten performer and Ohio State’s defensive MVP in 2005. He recorded 41 tackles, 11.5 TFLs and 9.5 sacks.

Kudla worked in business after football and eventually returned to Ohio State in 2012 as managing director of development for the Fisher College of Business. At the time of his death, Kudla worked as the owner of Core Plex, which “built medical facilities all over the country.”

“Despite his success on and off the football field, Mike remained humble and was extremely generous with his time and resources,” Highland school district director of communications Dawn Marzano wrote in the Facebook post. “He was always willing to share his experience and mentor youth. He was loved and respected by many and will be missed terribly.”

Lincoln Riley suggests there is a competition for QB that nobody should believe

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It’s a standard procedure for a head coach to suggest there is an open competition for any number of positions on a football team, but nobody seems to be buying the idea there is a competition at Oklahoma to replace Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. And when one of the players supposedly in the running for the job has a lucrative baseball career on the table, the idea is a little more comical.

Kyler Murray was drafted by the Oakland A’s with the No. 9 overall pick in the recent amateur MLB amateur draft. His contract with the A’s guarantees him $5 million and still allows for him to play one more year of football, which Murray has stated is his plan at Oklahoma. Still, Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley addressed the quarterback situation at Big 12 media days on Monday and suggested Murray will have to win the job against redshirt sophomore Austin Kendall.

“Kyler’s not the quarterback yet,” Riley said when asked how the offense will change with Riley at the position following the departure of No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Mayfield to Cleveland. “There’s a really good competition going on and Kyler’s gonna have to fight like crazy to win this job.”

Sure. OK. Whatever you say, Riley.

It is worth noting Murray appeared in seven games for the Sooners last season with 18-of-21 for 359 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in backup duty for Mayfield. Kendall redshirted last season and was named one of the team’s Offensive Scout Team Players of the Year. Kendall did make appearances in two games in 2016 in a back-up role. While Kendall may have a bright future in Norman, few are willing to accept Oklahoma is welcoming back Murray to potentially be a back-up quarterback when he could jump right into his pro baseball career right now.

But this could just be nothing more than the latest example of a coach simply setting the tone for the offseason and holding the bar high for even the most talented of players on the roster. Riley may be blowing smoke, but it could also pay off in the long run of the 2018 season.

Tennessee DL Ryan Thaxton suspended, charged with domestic assault

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Tennessee defensive lineman Ryan Thaxton has been suspended by the football program after being arrested and charged for an alleged domestic assault of his girlfriend. The incident leading to the arrest and charge occurred over the weekend.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Thaxton was arrested Sunday night and charged with domestic assault and false imprisonment. According to police records, Thaxton is accused of pushing his girlfriend to his dorm room while she refused to follow him. It is reported Thaxton than carried the unidentified woman to his dorm room and blocked the door so she could not leave as an argument continued inside the room.

“We are aware of the incident,” a statement from Tennessee read. “The student-athlete has been suspended from all team activities while law enforcement and the university investigates.”

Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt is scheduled to address the media at SEC Media Days on Wednesday.