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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.

Kentucky confirms addition of Troy transfer QB Sawyer Smith

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It’s now officially official.

In late April, Sawyer Smith took his first step in moving on from Troy by announcing on social media that he had placed his name into the NCAA transfer database.  Two weeks later, the quarterback used social media to reveal that his next stop at the collegiate level would be at Kentucky.

Monday, Smith’s expected new home confirmed the player’s addition to the roster.

”We’re excited to have Sawyer join our program,” UK head coach Mark Stoops said in a statement. “It’s great to add a quarterback with his experience and success. He helped lead Troy to an outstanding season last year and we’re glad to have him here.”

As Smith comes to the Wildcats as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to compete for a starting job immediately.  Additionally, he’ll have another season of eligibility he could use in 2020.

Smith played in 13 games this past season, including starts in the last seven.  In those appearances, the Florida native completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 1,669 yards and 14 touchdowns to go along with six interceptions. He also rushed for 191 yards and another touchdown.

Terry Wilson started all 13 games for the Wildcats in a 2018 season that saw UK reach double digits in wins for the first time since Jimmy Carter was sitting in the Oval Office. Wilson, though, was 10th in the SEC and 63rd nationally with a 133.9 pass efficiency rating.

For what it’s worth, Smith’s 139 rating was fifth in the Sun Belt Conference and 47th in the country.

Lincoln Riley says Jalen Hurts must win the starting QB job at Oklahoma

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Coaches say things to motivate their players even if nobody really believes it. Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley, entering his third season in charge of the Sooners this fall, is already proving to be a veteran when it comes to setting the bar high and motivating his quarterbacks in the offseason.

Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts will undoubtedly be the starting quarterback for Oklahoma when the 2019 season kicks off for the defending Big 12 champion on Sept. 1 against Houston. However, Riley is not prepared to publicly anoint his newest quarterback as the heir to the throne of the offense that has produced the last two Heisman Trophy winners at the quarterback position. Instead, Riley is telling media members at Big 12 media days Hurts will have to go out and earn the opportunity.

Don’t be shocked by seeing that quote, because that is what the best coaches will do no matter who is on their team. Except in certain situations where a proven starting quarterback is coming back to the program for a second or third (or fourth?) season, coaches will always hope to inspire healthy competition at every position, including quarterback. By not gifting Hurts the starting job in the middle of July, Riley is setting the tone that will keep Hurts pushing to improve his game and keep other quarterbacks like Class of 2019 five-star recruit Spencer Rattler and four-star Class of 2018 quarterback Tanner Mordecai working to get their shot.

But Hurts is far from any ordinary transfer quarterback. Hurts was the starter for Alabama for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, in which Alabama went to the national championship game both seasons, losing one and winning the other. Yes, Tua Tagovailoa replaced Hurts at quarterback for that national title win against Georgia, but Hurts was a major reason why Alabama was in the national title game two years in a row with him as the starter. Hurts brings multiple seasons of starting experience form one of the top programs in the sport with him. And after Oklahoma lost Kyler Murray to the NFL Draft a year after losing Baker Mayfield, Hurts is stepping right into a position that carried high expectations and demands results.

Hurts may have had a couple of bumps in the road in Tuscaloosa, but he didn’t come to Oklahoma to be a back-up. Riley knows that, but he has the responsibility to make sure everyone on his team is working hard to improve. That message should be heard loud and clear, even if media pundits don’t have to believe it.

LSU CB Kelvin Joseph is back in the transfer portal

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The NCAA transfer portal has seen a number of names come and go this offseason. Now, it appears, LSU cornerback Kelvin Joseph is stepping a foot in the transfer portal for a second time.

Joseph reportedly entered the transfer portal back in May, only to have that story disputed by his father. A day later, Joseph announced on Twitter that his father was, in fact, wrong with his claim. After some time passed, it seemed as though Joseph may end up staying in Baton Rouge to play for the Tigers this fall. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said “everything is good” regarding the status of Joseph as the story unfolded.

However, as multiple reports have surfaced at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama today, Joseph is now back in the transfer portal.

By entering the transfer portal, Joseph is free to have contact with any other college football program that may be interested in recruiting him. He would have to sit out the upcoming 2019 season if he transfers to another FBS program due to standard NCAA transfer rules, barring any appeal being granted for immediate eligibility.

Joseph was a four-star member of LSU’s Class of 2018. He played in 11 games for the Tigers last season and was suspended from the Fiesta Bowl for unspecified violations of team rules.

NCAA to hear Missouri’s appeal over postseason ban

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As it stands right now, the Missouri Tigers will not be going to a bowl game at the end of the 2019 season even if they go 12-0. That is because the NCAA slapped the Tigers with a postseason ban for the upcoming college football season as part of a litany of sanctions levied against the program in January for violations of NCAA rules linked to ethical conduct, academic misconduct and academic extra benefits. However, Missouri is hoping their appeal will relieve the sanctions with enough time to make some postseason plans.

A report from Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports says Missouri is expected to appear in front of the NCAA’s Infractions Appeals Committee this week to state their case. However, no decision on the appeals is expected to be made for at least another month. A decision to lift a postseason ban could even come as late as September after the start of the 2019 season.

Missouri formally filed its appeal of the sanctions in March. Missouri Athletics Director Jim Sterk said in June he was hoping the appeal would be heard before the football season.

“We really think we have a strong case for overturning the majority of the decisions that they made,” Sterk said in a radio interview. “The people that are a lot smarter than me that worked on this case really presented an appeal that’s strong and compelling. And we’ll be doing an in-person hearing, we’re expecting somewhere in the middle of July and then hear something hopefully by before football starts or shortly thereafter.”

The NCAA lifting a postseason ban during the current season is not unprecedented. In 2014, the NCAA lifted sanctions against Penn State after the start of the season, thus allowing the Nittany Lions to have the opportunity to play in a postseason bowl game at the end of the year. At 6-6, Penn State went on to play in the Pinstripe Bowl against Boston College. The 2014 season was supposed to be the third year in Penn State’s four-year postseason ban as part of the sanctions in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Penn State served just two years of a postseason ban before the NCAA dropped the sanctions against the program amid legal battles.