Associated Press

Kansas State knocks No. 13 Oklahoma State out of Big 12 title race

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No. 13 Oklahoma State’s Big 12 championship hopes were already put on life support Saturday, thanks to No. 12 TCU’s 27-3 win at Texas Tech, coupled with the knowledge the Frogs close the regular season at home against Baylor on Friday, and No. 4 Oklahoma’s oncoming win at Kansas. But the Cowboys went ahead and eliminated themselves by falling in a 42-13 hole for which they could not climb out, dropping a 45-40 game to Kansas State in Stillwater.

Kansas State opened the game by moving 71 yards in 10 plays — every one of them runs, most of them by second-time starting quarterback Skylar Thompson, who traversed the final 40 yards himself, including a 5-yard score.

After a pair of punts, Oklahoma State tied the game on a 2-play, 70-yard drive: a 32-yard run by Justice Hill and a 38-yard strike from Mason Rudolph to James Washington (eight catches for 159 yards). 

Matt Ammendola gave Oklahoma State the lead with a 32-yard field goal, but Thompson shoved Kansas State right back in front with a 47-yard play-action bomb to Byron Pringle, putting Kansas State up 14-10 with 13:32 left in the first half. Oklahoma State threatened to re-claim the lead, but the Cowboys could not convert a 1st-and-goal at the K-State 7-yard line, forcing a 27-yard Ammendola field goal.

Kansas State immediately capitalized on the opportunity to seize control of the game when Pringle struck again, this time taking the ensuing kickoff 89 yards back for a touchdown.

A bad sequence for Oklahoma State became even worse when Rudolph’s deep pass to Washington was overthrown and intercepted by Duke Shelley at the K-State 18. The Cowboys defense forced a three-and-out, but the next Oklahoma State drive ended in another Rudolph overthrow and another interception, which Kendall Adams grabbed at the K-State 19 and returned 19 yards to the 38.

Kansas State capitalized on the mistake, moving 62 yards in five plays, the last 39 on an Alex Barnes run down the right sideline to put the Wildcats up 28-13 with 1:30 left in the first half.

The downpour continued to open the second half. Thompson hit Pringle on another bomb, this time 46 yards, on the Wildcats’ first touch of the second half, and that connection hooked up again to push the lead to 42-13 midway through the third quarter — this time from 60 yards out. Pringle finished the day with four catches for a career-best 166 yards and three touchdowns.

Pringle’s third touchdown marked the third straight game and the fourth overall Oklahoma State has allowed 42 points or more.

Oklahoma State forced its way back into the game through a 21-3 run, scoring on a 2-yard run by Hill, an 8-yard pass from Rudolph (32-of-53 for 425 yards with four total touchdowns and two interceptions) to Washington and a 2-yard Rudolph keeper with 4:55 to play.

Oklahoma State attempted an onside kick after the final touchdown, but it was recovered by — who else? — Pringle.

After using its second timeout, Oklahoma State’s defense hit a trifecta: it managed to sack Thompson, force a fumble in which it recovered, and knock Thompson out of the game with what appeared to be a right leg injury. He finished the game hitting 10-of-13 passes for 204 yards with three touchdowns while rushing 17 times for a game-high 93 yards and a touchdown. Barnes added 85 yards on 21 carries, and as a team Kansa State out-rushed Oklahoma State 219-85.

The Cowboys zipped down the field to register Rudolph’s fourth touchdown of the game, a 14-yard bullet to Dillon Stoner to pull the Pokes within 45-40 with 4:02 remaining. Rudolph’s 2-point pass was intercepted.

Needing a first down to win the game, Kansas State ran three straight direct snaps to Barnes, who managed only two yards. Oklahoma State got the ball back at its own 46 with 2:12 remaining, knowing a touchdown would win the game. Instead, they could not gain a yard. Rudolph fired incomplete on four consecutive passes, thereby dooming the Cowboys’ comeback efforts and sending Kansas State (6-5, 4-4 Big 12) into their eighth straight bowl trip.

Oklahoma State (8-3, 5-3 Big 12) will finish its season and Rudolph’s record-breaking career against Kansas next Saturday in Stillwater, knowing the Pokes are playing solely to hold on to their top-25 ranking and bowl positioning, but not much more.

CFB Hall of Fame Texas Tech defensive tackle Gabe Rivera, dubbed Señor Sack, passes away

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Former Texas Tech defensive tackle Gabe Rivera passed away on Tuesday. He suffered a perforated bowel while attending a social services function on Friday night and his family was preparing to move him to hospice care when he passed on Tuesday morning. “Gabriel went home to the Lord at 9:25,” Rivera’s wife, Nancy, told KENS-TV in San Antonio.

A San Antonio native, Rivera played defensive tackle at Texas Tech from 1979-82, where he earned All-American status after recording 62 tackles and five sacks as a senior. “He was one of the most dominating defensive lineman to ever play the game and a loyal Red Raider throughout his life,” Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt said in a statement.

Selected 21st overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1983, Rivera, dubbed “Señor Sack,” recorded two sacks in his first six games, but was left paraplegic after getting in an automobile crash in October.

“From the accident in ‘83, it took maybe five, six, eight years to get control,” Rivera said in 2012. “At one time, I just changed my life and started going forward. I was mad at the world, mad at God and stuff.”

He moved home to San Antonio after the injury, where he remained and raised a family until his death. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012 and Texas Tech’s Ring of Honor and had his No. 69 jersey retired in 2014.

Rivera was 57 years old.

Northern Illinois, Miami (Ohio) to play for Mallory Cup

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The Mid-American Conference has a proud history of fostering future College Football Hall of Fame coaches. From legends such as Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler to modern day titans such as Nick Saban and Urban Meyer, the MAC has served as the launching pad of coaching greatness for generations. But despite all that talent, only one coach won the MAC at two different schools: Bill Mallory.

Mallory went 39-12 as Miami (Ohio)’s head coach from 1969-73 — he took over for Schembechler, who left for the Michigan job — and led the RedHawks to a perfect 11-0 season, a No. 15 final AP ranking and a win over Florida in the Tangerine Bowl in ’73. That success led him to Colorado, but he was let go after the 1978 season. After sitting out the ’79 campaign, Mallory got back in at Northern Illinois, guiding the Huskies to a 25-19 mark from 1980-83. His 1983 team went 10-2, beat Cal State Fullerton in the California Bowl and won the Huskies’ first of four MAC titles.

Mallory parlayed that 1983 season into the Indiana job, where he remained until his 1996 retirement. In 27 years as a head coach, Mallory went 168-129-4, including a 64-31 record in nine combined seasons in the MAC.

To honor his May 25 passing, Northern Illinois and Miami (Ohio) announced Monday they will play for the Mallory Cup moving forward. The first such game will take place on Nov. 14 in DeKalb, Ill.

“Bill Mallory was a special coach and a great man who left a lasting legacy in the Mid-American Conference and certainly at NIU and Miami,” NIU AD Sean Frazier said.  “The Mallory Cup honors a man whose impact on both programs should and will be remembered each time our teams meet on the football field.  We’re happy to work with our colleagues at Miami on this initiative and invite all fans to be here at Huskie Stadium on November 14 for the first Mallory Cup game.”

“Miami is proud to partner with Northern Illinois University in the creation of the Mallory Cup,” added Miami AD David Sayler. “It is a fitting tribute to a wonderful man and coach that has meant so much too so many. Although Miami and NIU will not play every year in football, it is good to know that when we do, Bill Mallory will be honored and remembered for the tremendous legacy he has left here in Oxford and in DeKalb.”

The Huskies and RedHawks have played 17 times in a series that dates back to 1970. NIU holds a 9-8 advantage; Miami won seven of the first nine meetings, but Northern Illinois has taken seven of the last eight, including the most recent match-up by way of a 45-12 decision on Oct. 17, 2015.

Four-star QB-turned-minor league baseball player narrows football choices to Auburn, LSU, NC State

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And then there were three.

Earlier this month, Cord Sandberg announced his retirement from baseball after a six-season career spent entirely in the minor leagues.  Simultaneously, the four-star member of Mississippi State’s 2013 recruiting class announced that he would be resuming his football career, confirming that he had received a scholarship offer from Auburn and a pair of offers to be a preferred walk-on at two other SEC schools — Florida and LSU.  The Gators are coached by Dan Mullen, who was the head coach of the Bulldogs when Sandberg signed with MSU in February of 2013.

That led to some assuming UF perhaps had the inside track for Sandberg.  That assumption turned out to be inaccurate as the quarterback confirmed to Rivals.com that he has narrowed his football to-do list to Auburn, LSU and North Carolina State.  Sandberg will take an official visit to each of those schools this month before making a decision, with the recruiting website reporting that he will make trips to NC State July 25-26, Auburn July 26-28 and LSU July 28-29.

Sandberg had previously stated that he wanted to enroll in classes no later than Aug. 20, meaning a decision on his next school should come shortly after his final visit later this month.  Given that the 23-year-old Sandberg hasn’t played the sport since high school, it’s widely expected he’ll take a redshirt this coming football season; he would then have four years of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2019 season.

“I have definitely enjoyed my conversations with those coaches staffs and I feel good about those situations,” Sandberg told the site. “I can see myself enjoying going to school for 3-4 years in those towns. …

“I feel comfortable with the conversations I’ve had with all of those guys and what my role would be playing quarterback at all of those schools.”

In addition to the schools already mentioned, UCF and UCLA also expressed interest/extended offers.

Coming out of high school in Bradenton, Fla., in 2013, Sandberg was rated as the No. 8 dual-threat quarterback in the country. Only three signees in MSU’s class that year were rated higher than Sandberg — defensive end Chris Jones, safety Ashton Shumpert and wide receiver Fred Ross.

In nearly 500 games at the minor league level, Sandberg, a center fielder, was a career .243 hitter with 29 home runs and 173 RBI. He finished with a slash line of .243/.298/.348.

Mike Gundy confirms QB Taylor Cornelius is ‘our guy’ heading into camp

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In the race to replace Mason Rudolph under center, there’s a clear leader in Stillwater.

Exiting spring practice, it was widely thought that Taylor Cornelius was the odds-on favorite to claim Oklahoma State’s starting quarterback job.  At the Big 12 Media Days Tuesday, Mike Gundy confirmed as much, stating that Cornelius “is our guy” heading into summer camp.

A former walk-on, Cornelius will enter the 2018 season as a fifth-year senior.

“When we came out of spring, we felt very comfortable with Taylor,” the OSU head coach said. “He’s been with us a number of years, he understands our offense. We’re confident in his abilities.”

While Cornelius is the favorite now, he will have a fight on his hands to remain the starter for OSU’s opener Aug. 30 against Missouri State.

After not taking part in spring practice, Dru Brown and Spencer Sanders will enter the fray in early August. Brown comes to OSU as a graduate transfer from Hawaii, where he was a two-year starter for the Rainbow Warriors.  Sanders was a four-star member of the Cowboys’ 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No.8 dual-threat quarterback in the country on 247Sports.com’s composite board.

During his time with the Cowboys, Cornelius has thrown for 220 yards on 15-of-24 passing.  Six of those completions, 10 of the attempts and 148 yards came during a 2017 season in which he served as Rudolph’s primary backup.