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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.

LSU students will go to class on Saturday to make up for national title game

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LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.

According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.

So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.

The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.

While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.

Virginia safety Chris Moore enters transfer portal

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The transfer portal has claimed another name.

As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.

Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior  suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.

The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.

Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.

DL Jay Tufele, WR Tyler Vaughns skipping draft to stay at USC

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Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.

The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.

Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.

Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

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A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.