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No. 6 Oklahoma stops 2-point pass to win another Bedlam shootout

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In any game that sees more than 80 points and 1,300 yards of total offense, it’s the (rare) defensive plays that prove to be the difference. In a 41-41 game with 6:09 remaining and Oklahoma State driving, OU punched the ball out of Cowboy running back Chuba Hubbard‘s hands to force the first and only turnover of the game.

The fumble, recovered by OU linebacker Kenneth Murray, allowed Oklahoma to take over at the its own 36. The Sooners needed only six plays to cover the 64 required yards, running mainly on the legs of Kennedy Brooks, who gained 49 yards on two rushes to push the ball to the OSU 1-yard line, allowing Trey Sermon to punch in a 1-yard score with 3:29 to play.

Needing a stop to win the game, Oklahoma couldn’t get it. On a 4th-and-12 from the OU 24 with 1:07 to play, Taylor Cornelius picked up the first down and a touchdown to Tylan Wallace, pulling the Cowboys within one. Because of a missed Matt Ammendola extra point earlier in the game, an extra point would have only forged a tie. Still, rather than play for overtime on the road, Pokes head coach Mike Gundy elected to go for two to take the lead. He again dialed up a pass from Cornelius to Wallace, but Oklahoma got the other stop it needed when cornerback Tre Brown batted it to the turf, allowing the sixth-ranked Sooners to hold on for a 48-47 win.

The win is OU’s fourth Bedlam win in a row, its 14th defeat of Oklahoma State in 16 tries and the Sooners’ 88th win in 113 all-time Bedlam matchups. It also allows Oklahoma (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) to remain in control of its Big 12 fate and remain in the hunt for a College Football Playoff berth.

Oklahoma gained more than 700 yards of total offense while Oklahoma State hit 640 yards and gained 39 first downs, going 10-of-16 on third down. Kyler Murray was once again sensational, hitting 21-of-29 passes for 349 yards and a touchdown while rushing 14 times for 66 yards. Brooks carried 15 times for 165 yards and three touchdown, while Sermon rushed 16 times for 124 yards and two scores. As a team, Oklahoma rushed for 353 yards and threw for 349, good for 9.12 yards a play.

For Oklahoma State (5-5, 2-5 Big 12), Cornelius hit 34-of-53 throws for 501 yards and three touchdowns, and Hubbard carried 22 times for 104 yards and three touchdowns.

The teams traded touchdowns in each of their first two possessions — going serve-for-serve in drives that all covered 75 yards. Oklahoma State got the first “stop” by shoving Sermon out at its own 4-yard line on a 3rd-and-goal pass, setting up Seibert’s first field goal and giving the Sooners a 17-14 lead.

Oklahoma State took advantage in the break of service by going 75 yards for a touchdown on its third straight drive as Cornelius hit Wallace in stride for a 49-yard touchdown. Now trailing 21-17, Oklahoma answered in three plays (and really two) — a 1-yard loss by Murray followed by a 29-yard Murray rush and then a 45-yard Brooks rush, putting OU back on top 24-21.

The Sooner defense got its next stop on the next possession, but only after Cornelius missed on a wheel route that would have put Oklahoma State in the OU red zone at worst, and then threw behind an open receiver on 3rd-and-18.

CeeDee Lamb caught Zach Sinor‘s ensuing punt and raced 65 yards to the OSU 29, but the Cowboy defense stiffened, forcing a 36-yard Seibert field goal.

The field goal gave Oklahoma State a second chance to take its second lead of the day, but its drive stalled at the OU 24 and Matt Ammendola‘s 42-yard field goal sliced wide left.

Oklahoma took over with 4:30 left in the first half and a chance to go up 34-21, but instead the Sooners posted their first three-and-out of the game. However, the Sooners responded with their third straight stop and their first three-and-out.

This time, OU capitalized when Murray found Marquise Brown for a 49-yard touchdown with 1:25 left before halftime. Murray, who hit his first 10 passes of the game, finished the half 15-of-19 for 227 yards with a touchdown while also carrying seven times for 72 yards. Sermon, who opened the game with a 60-yard rush, carried nine times for 92 yards and a touchdown, while Brooks rushed six times for 58 yards and two scores.

Facing the possibility of being run out of the stadium, Oklahoma State ended its scoring drought of, oh, 11 minutes. The Cowboys knifed 75 yards in five plays, scoring on a 10-yard Chuba Hubbard rush with 31 seconds left before halftime.

With a chance to take the lead on the opening possession of the second half, Oklahoma State went three-and-out. OU threatened to take its second two-possession lead of the game, pushing to the OSU 38, but the Sooners went backward from there and turned the ball over on downs. Given the ball at its own 40, Oklahoma State churned OU on the ground, turning to Hubbard five times, including on 3rd-and-1 for a 2-yard touchdown, putting the Pokes back on top at 35-34 with 7:32 left in the third quarter.

Now back in front, the momentum shifted to the OSU sideline after the Cowboy defense forced a three-and-out and Oklahoma State surged to a 1st-and-10 at the OU 34. But Sooners linebacker Curtis Bolton stuffed a 3rd-and-8 Cornelius keeper and the Cowboys punted.

Oklahoma made another crucial third down play on its next touch when Brown split two defenders short of the sticks, turning what would have been an OU punt into a 25-yard gina on 3rd-and-11. He hauled in a 39-yard bomb on the next play, and Brooks rushed in a 5-yard score on the final play of the third quarter.

Trailing 41-34, Oklahoma State moved 75 yards in 10 plays, seemingly taking the lead on a 3-yard Hubbard run at the 12:20 mark of the fourth quarter, but Ammendola’s extra point again missed wide left, forcing Oklahoma State to settle for a 41-41 tie.

Florida State names James Blackman starting QB over Wisconsin transfer Alex Hornibrook

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In this case, the transfer pastures weren’t any greener for a signal-caller — two, actually — who moved on from his first college football home.

Alex Hornibrook left Wisconsin this offseason and ultimately landed at Florida State as a graduate transfer.  Jordan Travis took his leave of Louisville earlier this year and ended up transferring to FSU; Travis was ultimately granted an immediate-eligibility waiver.

With those twin under-center developments, Willie Taggart and the Seminoles navigated a three-headed quarterback competition during the spring and on into summer camp: Hornibrook, Travis and one-time starter James Blackman.  Sunday night, FSU announced that Blackman is its QB1 heading into the opener against Boise State this coming Saturday night.

The naming of Blackman as the starter continues what’s been a roller coaster ride for the redshirt sophomore.

Blackman, who himself placed his name into the transfer portal earlier this year before undergoing a change of heart, started most of the 2017 season due to an injury to starter Deondre Francois, who regained the job in 2018 only to be dismissed from the football program in February of this year.

Blackman was a three-star member of FSU’s 2017 recruiting class. After Francois went down with what turned out to be a season-ending injury in the opener that year, Blackman started the remaining 12 games as a true freshman.  Francois returned as the starter for the vast majority of the 2018 season, missing one game in early November because of a concussion.  Blackman started the lone game Francois didn’t, throwing for 421 yards and four touchdowns in a loss to NC State.

In that initial season in 2017, Blackman completed almost 60 percent of his 297 passes for 2,230 yards, 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.  He was able to take a redshirt for this past season despite playing in four games.

Hornibrook, who battled concussion issues the latter half of the 2018 season but was cleared for winter workouts in January, spent the past three seasons as the Badgers’ starting quarterback.  In games in which Hornibrook started during that span, Wisconsin went 26-6.

In 35 career games played with the Badgers, Hornibrook passed for 5,438 yards, 47 touchdowns and 33 interceptions.

This coming season is Hornibrook’s final year of eligibility.

Travis, whose older brother played baseball at FSU a few years ago, was a three-star member of the Cardinals’ 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 25 dual-threat quarterback in the country.  As a true freshman this past season, Jackson completed four-of-nine passes for 71 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Because he played in four or fewer games this past year, he took a redshirt for the 2018 season.

Calamity averted: Washington State flag’s College GameDay streak reaches 225 straight

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Courtesy of some expected common sense, a potential national nightmare was averted earlier this weekend.

Along with Lee Corso, one of the constants you can count on seeing when you turn on ESPN‘s College GameDay Saturday mornings during the football season is the Washington State flag flying somewhere in the crowd, regardless of from where the show originates.  Ol’ Crimson first appeared around the GameDay set in Austin on Oct. 4, 2003, and has made it to every show since, a streak of 224 straight appearances.

Unfortunately, there was some serious concern earlier this month that the streak wouldn’t make it to 225.

ESPN announced Aug. 13 that College GameDay would set up camp and televise its popular pregame show from Walt Disney World ahead of the Week 0 Florida-Miami matchup at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium Aug. 24.  In a cruel and potentially streak-ending twist, the Magic Kingdom’s rules prohibit, among other things, flags from being flown on the Walt Disney World Resort Property.

All was right with the world in the end, though, as Ol’ Crimson was indeed front and center ahead of what would turn out to be a Gators win over the Hurricanes as, not surprisingly, Disney bent its rules regarding not only flags but signs as well.

From the Spokesman-Review:

Hey, look at this,” ESPN’s Rece Davis said as the flag was shown. “Look who made it into the Magic Kingdom.”

“The streak’s alive,” Kirk Herbstreit said.

“I want to point out, too, the streak is legit and authentic,” Davis added. “Now, we’ll cooperate with our friends, but Washington State has to do its part and they have.”

Herbstreit chimed in: “They’ve made big efforts throughout this streak and they made another one today.”

“Congrats to the Cougs,” ESPN’s Desmond Howard said.

Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick doesn’t sense momentum for CFB Playoff expansion

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We’re at the dawn of a new season in college football but for a lot of folks, the upcoming campaign is a lot more about the ending than the beginning. We’re talking of course about the thing that dominates the debate in the sport for much of the fall: the College Football Playoff.

Though it seems like we’re stuck at four teams in the postseason event for the foreseeable future, expansion of the playoff is a topic that seems like a never ending well. Most want it, but few in power seem to be pushing for it.

That point was reiterated this week by Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick. The leader of a program who made last year’s edition of the final four and one of the more powerful people in college athletics recently told the South Bend Tribune that he doesn’t see a move to six or eight teams in the event anytime soon.

I don’t want to speculate on that. I don’t sense a lot of momentum,” Swarbrick said. “But again, this is a group of individuals who cares about college football and think about it all the time. And so that’s all you want, a process where people are always talking about how to make the game better. But I don’t sense any particular momentum for change right now.”

If anybody would have some insight into the thought process regarding expansion, it’s bound to be Swarbrick — who sits on the CFP Management Committee and has his school president on the overarching CFP Board of Managers.

Perhaps something will change by 2025 when the postseason contract comes up with ESPN but until then, get used to four teams.

Missouri AD Jim Sterk is even more mad about NCAA penalties after Mississippi State case

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At some point in the distant future, Missouri fans, coaches, players and administrators will forget about the sanctions that the NCAA handed out to their football program.

That day is not today however.

Hot on the heels of Friday’s decision by the NCAA to slap the wrist of Mississippi State over a somewhat similar academic fraud case, Tigers AD Jim Sterk is telling anybody who will listen just how wronged his school was in the wake of what happened at his SEC rival.

“We believe that the penalties imposed in the recently decided and factually similar case (at Mississippi State) further illustrate that the penalties imposed on Mizzou were excessive and inconsistent with previous case precedent,” Sterk told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. We have never wavered from our stance or the merits of our appeal and remain hopeful it will be successful.”

The Tigers are hopeful that an appeal will be decided in the fairly near future and, obviously, that it will be a favorable ruling.

There are a handful of differences between Mizzou’s and the Bulldogs’ cases and enough to make comparing them apples to oranges despite being under the broad umbrella of academic fraud. We’ll see what ultimately ends up happening but something says that short of a complete reversal, Tigers fans and others sporting the gold and black won’t be happy with the NCAA for a long, long time.