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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.

Clemson QB Lawrence says he’s completely committed to 2020 season

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Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence said he considered opting out of this season when he was unsure what college football would look like going forward amid the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Lawrence said Friday once he understood he’d play an 11-game season with a chance for an Atlantic Coast Conference and national championships, he decided to play his junior season.

The Heisman Trophy hopeful said he’s completely committed to this season and confident in Clemson’s ability to keep himself and his teammates safe.

Lawrence, who is the likely No. 1 overall pick in the next NFL draft should he leave college early, was 25-0 as a starter until he and Clemson fell to LSU in the national title game last January. The 6-foot-6 junior, had perhaps his poorest performance in college in the 42-25 loss to LSU. He joked how after his freshman year when he led Clemson to a championship he heard how amazing he was and since the LSU defeat, he heard how much work he has to do improve.

Pac-12 responds to football players threatening opt-outs

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The Pac-12 responded Monday to football players who have threatened to opt-out of the season because of concerns related to health and safety, racial injustice and economic rights with a letter touting the conference’s work in those areas and an invitation to meet later this week.

A letter from Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, dated Aug. 3, was sent to 12 football players leading the #WeAreUnited movement. The letter was obtained by The Associated Press and first reported by Sports Illustrated.

The players say they have been communicating with more than 400 of their peers throughout the Pac-12. The group released a lengthy list of demands Sunday and said if they are not addressed they will not practice or play. The group said it reached out to the Pac-12 on Sunday to request a meeting. In the letter, Scott said he was eager to discuss their concerns.

“I will come back to you in the coming days following discussion with our members and student-athlete leaders to schedule a call for this week to discuss the matters that you have raised,” Scott wrote.

Also Monday night, Washington State coach Nick Rolovich said in a statemen t he regretted cautioning one of his players about being part of the #WeAreUnited movement. A recording of a conversation between Rolovich and receiver Kassidy Woods obtained by the Dallas Morning News revealed the coach seemingly warning the player that being involved with the group would hurt his standing with the team. Woods had called Rolovich to inform him he was opting out of the season for health reasons related to COVID-19.

“I spoke with Kassidy Woods in a private phone conversation last Saturday afternoon. This was before the #WeAreUnited group had released its letter of concerns,” said Rolovich, who is in his first season was Washington State coach. “Without knowing the concerns of the group, I regret that my words cautioning Kassidy have become construed as opposition. I’m proud of our players and all the Pac-12 student-athletes for using their platform, especially for matters they are passionate about. WSU football student-athletes who have expressed support for the #WeAreUnited group will continue to be welcome to all team-related activities, unless they choose to opt out for health and safety reasons.”

The #WeAreUnited players’ demands focused on four areas: health and safety protections, especially protocols related to COVID-19; guarding against the elimination of sports programs by schools during an economic downturn; ending racial injustice in college sports; and economic freedom and equity.

Scott addressed each area, highlighting the conference’s:

— Medical advisory committee working on COVID-19 protocols and webinars for student-athletes and their parents;

— Support for reforming NCAA rules regarding name, image and likeness compensation for college athletes;

— Recent initiatives to address racial inequities such as the formation of a social justice & anti-racism advisory group that includes student-athletes representatives.

Scott also listed 10 areas in which, he wrote, “The Pac-12 has been a leader in supporting student-athlete health and well-being …” Included were enhanced medical coverage post-eligibility; cost-of-attendance stipends added to the value of scholarship; mental health support; and the Pac-12′s support of reforming NCAA transfer rules to allow athletes more freedom to switch schools.

Pac-12 football teams are scheduled to begin preseason practices Aug. 17 and the league’s conference-only regular season is set to start Sept. 26.

Big 12 to allow teams to play 1 non-conference football game

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Two people involved with the decision say the Big 12 will permit its teams to play one nonconference football game this year to go along with their nine league contests as plans for the pandemic-altered season continued to fall into place.

The people spoke Monday night to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the conference was still preparing an official announcement.

The Big 12 university presidents signed off on the conference’s scheduling model, which gives schools the ability to play one nonconference game at home. The conference’s championship game is scheduled for Dec. 5, but one of the people told AP that the conference is leaving open the possibility of bumping it back a week or two.

The 10-team Big 12 already plays a nine-game, round-robin conference schedule. Unlike other Power Five conference that have switched to either exclusively (Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC) or mostly (ACC) league games this season, the Big 12 could not add more conference games without teams playing each other more than once.

Several Big 12 teams have already started preseason practice, with Kansas and Oklahoma slated to play FCS teams on Aug. 29.

As conferences take steps toward a football season that seems to be in precarious shape, the NCAA is expected to weigh in Tuesday on fall sports other than major-college football.

The association’s Board of Governors is scheduled to meet and whether to cancel or postpone NCAA championship events in fall sports such as soccer, volleyball and lower-division football is expected to be a topic.

Only the Pac-12 has a full football schedule with matchups and dates in place among Power Five conferences. The Pac-12 will begin Sept. 26, along with the Southeastern Conference, which is still working on its new 10-game slate.

The Atlantic Coast Conference has opponents set for its 10-game conference schedule and will start the weekend of Sept. 12, but no specific game dates. The ACC has also said it will permit its teams to play one nonconference game.

The Big Ten, first to announce intentions to go conference-only this season, has yet to release a new schedule, but that could come later this week.

Now that the Power Five has declared its intentions the Group of Five conferences can start making plans and filling holes on their schedules.

American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco has said the AAC could stick with its eight-game conference schedule and let its members plays as many of their four nonconference games as they can salvage or replace.

The Mountain West, Conference USA, Mid-American and Sun Belt conferences are likely to take similar approach.

Early Monday, Texas State from the Sun Belt announced it was moving a nonconference game against SMU up from Sept. 5 to Aug. 29.

Good morning and, in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening and good night! CFT, out…

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CFT is no more. At least, when it comes to NBC Sports.

The first of last month, I — this is John Taylor (pictured, catching the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XXIII) — began my 12th year with CFT and NBC Sports. This morning, I was informed that my position was being eliminated and I would not be completing that 12th year. Which, of course, meant I wouldn’t be eligible for the traditional 13th-anniversary gift of lace. Which really bummed me out. Because I really like lace.

The jarring phone call was both a slap in the face and a relief. Jarring because, well, it was completely unexpected. Out of the blue, even amidst the pandemic that is wreaking absolute and utter havoc across the country. A relief, on the other hand, because, every single day for the past four months, I woke up wondering if this would be the day I get that call.

Would this be the day? Would this be the day? A question played on an endless loop that just f***s with you mentally, emotionally, physically.

That’s no way to live.

Then again, being job-less is no way to live, either. But, here we are.

So many people I want to thank. First and foremost, Mike Florio and Larry Mazza. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Especially Mr. Mazza on the food front. Hopefully, lunch at Oliverio’s — best damn stuffed shells I have EVER had — can still be a thing, Larry.

And so many people that have worked for me. Not to single anyone out, but I’m going to single one out in Ben Kercheval. Ben, non-biological son of Hoppy, you were and continue to be the man. I appreciate you more than you know.  Rasheed Wallace may indeed be your biological father, but I will forever consider you my illegitimate Internet stepson.

Mike Miller is the best boss anyone could ever ask for.  Hire that man.  You can thank me later.

Kevin McGuire, Zach Barnett, Bryan Fischer, I will always treasure what we did, together, these last few years. Things were on the uptick, and it’s sad that we won’t be able to see it through. Together.  We should’ve — SHOULD’VE SHOULD’VE SHOULD’VE — been given that opportunity.  And it will forever piss me off that we weren’t.

Brent and Chris and JJ, much love to you all as well.

Shortly after I received the job call of death, I called my dad. Told him what was going on in his son’s life.  After I hung up the phone, he sent me a GIF in a text message a few minutes later.  I’ll link it here to end whatever this is, because it’s appropriate.  And old school.

And, well… bye.

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