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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.

Nick Saban’s hip-replacement surgery scheduled for Monday

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We already knew that one of the greatest college football coaches in the history of the game was set to undergo a rather invasive medical procedure. Now, we know exactly when it’ll take place.

This past weekend, Nick Saban confirmed that he’ll have hip-replacement surgery at an unspecified time this offseason. Friday, USA Today was the first to report a specific date as the Alabama head coach is set to go under the knife this coming Monday. According to the Tuscaloosa News, the surgery will be performed that morning by Dr. Lyle Cain of Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center.

The procedure is expected to sideline Saban for a period of 6-8 weeks, a timeline that will allow the coach plenty of time to recuperate and rehabilitate ahead of the start of summer camp in early August.

That said, Saban’s biggest concern involves a sport that’s not football.

“The only thing I hate about it is, I’ll have to not play golf for six weeks or so,” Saban told USA Today. “… But this is the best time for me to do it. I do a lot of speaking and evaluating and film work and stuff like that, but we’re not practicing. Other than playing golf, I probably wouldn’t be very active. So this is the best time, and then it gives me a lot of summer to get back in shape.”

The 67-year-old Saban will be entering his 12th season with the Crimson Tide in 2019. “I don’t want to coach for one more year. I want to coach for a lot of more years,” the future College Football Hall of Famer said in explaining his decision to undergo the surgery at this point in time.

Jacksonville Jaguars taking over Gator Bowl operations as game faces financial difficulties

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NFL teams owning (or providing significant assistance) to a bowl game is nothing new in this day and age but you can add another to the list of operators as the Gator Bowl has turned to the Jacksonville Jaguars in an effort to cut costs and help save the 75-year-old postseason game for several more years.

The Jacksonville Daily Record first made note of the moves, which were announced at the Jaguars’ annual state of the franchise presentation on Thursday. The team will formally take over “ticket sales and back shop operations.” The Florida Times Union also provided more context on the moves, which note that contracts expire after the upcoming game on everything from the TV deal with ESPN to title game sponsorship agreement.

“We’re in negotiations now for everything,” said Gator Bowl CEO Rick Catlett. “We got a good deal overall with the city [on the stadium], but not a great deal. We got to get the city to give us the same deal as Georgia-Florida with rent, concessions and parking. “We have to step up our game. We’re not going to be the Poulan Weed-Eater [Independence] Bowl. My instructions from our board is to move it forward or we’re done.”

Ticket sales and local revenue dropping were cited as the most pressing concerns to the financial health of the bowl, which is one of the oldest in the sport and has been held continuously since 1946.

It will be interesting to see if these financial trends continue for both the Gator Bowl and others at large. We’ve seen more and more bowl games get added to the docket in college football over the years but one of the mainstays to the lineup facing such challenges could be a warning that the system in the College Football Playoff era isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Five college football officials joining NFL ranks for 2019 season

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The NFL draft is this week and hundreds of college football players will formally be making the jump to the pros as a result. They won’t be the only ones going from Saturday’s to Sunday’s this fall however.

Per the NFL’s Twitter account dedicated to all matters officiating, five officials from the college ranks are being bumped up to crews in the league:

All five of the college football officials were part of the NFL’s Officiating Development Program according to Football Zebras. The Memphis Commercial Appeal also notes that the five were also involved as officials in the now-defunct Alliance of American Football this spring. Based on that, it’s pretty clear that the group as a whole was really focused on moving up to the NFL at some point and now get the call up to the big leagues.

Florida, Texas reportedly planning home-and-home series

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Could it be? Could Florida actually leave the Sunshine State for a big non-conference game?

It might just be in the works.

In a nugget slipped into his column this week, plugged-in Austin American-Statesman writer Kirk Bohls notes that Texas and Florida are apparently working on a home-and-home series between the two very successful programs. Don’t get your hopes up just yet however — not just because the pairing might not happen but because it’s going to happen in the very distant future of 2030 and 2031.

We’re always supportive of big home-and-home matchups but like many out there wish things were a little closer than 11 years from now.

More notable than the date though is the fact that the Gators might actually leave the state for a true road game. That hasn’t happened in ages. Literally.

The last non-conference true road game that Florida played outside of the friendly confines of their own state came all the way back in 1991 against Syracuse (they lost). The Gators have typically stuck to lower level FCS/Group of Five opponents at home while also playing in-state rivals like USF, Miami and, of course, Florida State to fill out their non-conference slate.

That might all be about to change however as the team discusses things with the Longhorns. Let’s all hope that for the first time in 40 years that UF decides a non-conference road game might finally be worth it.