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After holding off Kansas, Texas is back in the Big 12 championship game for first time since 2009*


For the first time in nearly a decade, the Lonestar State’s flagship football program will play for a conference championship.

Needing a win over lowly Kansas to secure one of the two spots in next weekend’s Big 12 championship game, Texas did just that as they will leave Lawrence and head coach to Austin with a 24-17 win.  The Longhorns held a scant 7-0 lead coming out of the halftime locker room, but a pair of third-quarter Sam Ehlinger touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) gave UT what seemed at the time to be an insurmountable edge over the offensively-challenged Jayhawks.

Ehlinger, who was somewhat questionable throughout the week after aggravating an injury to his right (throwing) shoulder, accounted for a total of three touchdowns, including two through the air. The sophomore also tossed his first two interceptions since throwing a pair in the season-opening loss to Maryland, a streak of more than 300 pass attempts without a pick.

The second interception came early in the fourth quarter, giving KU both hope and the ball at UT’s 22-yard line trailing 21-7.  That particular hope proved fleeting, however, as the Jayhawks returned the pick favor and handed the ball right back to the Longhorns.  Thanks in part to its first penalty of the game, UT managed to turn that turnover into what was essentially a game-icing field goal with under 11 minutes to play.

The key word there was “essentially” as, trailing 24-7, KU made it interesting as Peyton Bender connected with Daylon Chariot on a 31-yard touchdown pass that sliced the lead to 10 with just over three minutes to go; a successful onside kick moments later gave the ball right back to the Jayhawks with 3:21 left.  A field goal at the end of that drive brought the Jayhawks to within one score at 24-17 with 1:37 remaining.

That would be as close as the Jayhawks, out of timeouts, would get as the Longhorns recovered the second onside kick to, finally, end the game.

With the win, Texas moves on to the Big 12 championship game next Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.  There, they will face the winner of tonight’s Oklahoma-West Virginia game.

The appearance will mark the Longhorns’ first in the conference title game since the 2009 season.  Granted, the game was on hiatus from 2011-16 so that comes with the headlines asterisk, but still.

UT will be looking for its first conference crown since that 2009 season and 33rd in the program’s storied history. Three of the previous 32 conference championships have come as members of the Big 12 (1995, 2005, 2009), while 27 came during their time in the Southwest Conference.  The other two came when they were a part of the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association way back in 1913 and 1914.

For Kansas, the regular-season finale marked the end of the David Beaty era in Lawrence.  In four full seasons with the Jayhawks, Beaty posted a 6-42 overall record — exactly half of those wins came in 2018 — and a hard-to-comprehend 2-34 mark in Big 12 play.

Beaty was fired earlier this month, officially replaced by Les Miles this past weekend.

Jalen Hurts has seen Heisman odds shorten since transfer to Oklahoma

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I guess that’s what happens when the school to which you moved has produced back-to-back Heisman winners at the position you play, eh?

In mid-January, as he was in the midst of transferring from Alabama, Jalen Hurts was listed by as a 9/1 shot to stake his claim as the winner of the 2019 Heisman Trophy.  Very shortly thereafter, Hurts’ move to Oklahoma was confirmed; a month later, in the latest odds released by the same online sportsbook, Hurts now sits at 13/2 to win this year’s version of the most storied trophy in college sports.

As was the case a month ago, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the way-too-early 2019 Heisman favorite at 7/2, although those odds have lengthened a bit from the initial 3/1.  The quarterback whose play on the field pushed Hurts out in Tuscaloosa, 2018 Heisman runnerup Tua Tagovailoa, also saw his odds lengthen a smidge from 4/1 to 5/1.

Most of the other odds remained relatively steady from that initial release, although USC quarterback JT Daniels and Clemson-to-Missouri transfer Kelly Bryant did both make a move from off the board to part of a mini-pack at 25/1.

For perspective given the fact that we’re still nearly seven months from the 2019 season kicking off, the 2018 Heisman winner, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, wasn’t among the two dozen or so college football players listed wagering-wise as potential winners around this time a year ago.  The top three Heisman odds at this time last year?  Stanford running back Bryce Love, Wisconsin running back Johnathan Taylor and Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate, none of whom were finalists for the trophy won by Murray.

2019 signee who left Oklahoma for the military will instead transfer to another school

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Never mind, I guess.

Earlier this month, Derek Green, a member of Oklahoma’s 2019 recruiting class, revealed that he would be pursuing a career in the military instead of a career in college football.

“I don’t want to waste anybody’s time,” Green said at the time, “because Oklahoma has a great group of guys on that defense that’s there and coming in and I want them to be successful and they can spend more time developing them while I try to serve my country.”

Green also confirmed at the time that he would be placing his name into the NCAA transfer database, although “that’s just in case I want to go back to it later, but as of right now I’m going to serve my country.”

Fast-forward a few days, and Green announced via Twitter that he will be putting his military career on hold and transferring to a football program other than the one with which he signed back in December.

Green was a consensus three-star signee for the Sooners who enrolled in classes at the university earlier this month.  He was the only signee listed as a defensive tackle in OU’s class this year.

Virginia Tech transfer QB Josh Jackson tweets move to Maryland

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For the third time this offseason, first-year head coach Mike Locksley has pulled in a Power Five transfer to his Maryland program.

On his personal Twitter account Monday night, Josh Jackson announced that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career for Locksley at Maryland.  Nearly four weeks ago, it was confirmed that Jackson would be leaving Virginia Tech as the quarterback had placed his name into the NCAA transfer database.

As Jackson is expected to graduate from Tech in May, he would be eligible to play for Maryland this coming season.  Not only that, but he will have another year of eligibility he can use in College Park in 2020 as well.

After going through a tumultuous offseason, Jackson began 2018 as the Hokies’ starting quarterback only to suffer a season-ending injury in mid-September.

As a redshirt freshman in 2017, Jackson started all 13 games for the 9-4 Hokies. He passed for 2,991 yards and ran for another 324 yards while accounting for 26 touchdowns — 20 passing, six rushing.  The passing yards were the most for an FBS freshman that season, while the touchdowns passes were the second-most at this level.

Given the fact that he’ll be immediately eligible, Jackson will head into summer camp as the favorite to lay claim to the Terrapins’ starting job under center.

In addition to Jackson, Maryland has landed transfers from wide receiver Sean Savoy and linebacker Keandre Jones.  The former comes to College Park from Virginia Tech, the latter from Ohio State.

Ex-Arizona State LB Jalen Bates announces transfer to Colorado State

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Not long after declaring he was looking to transfer, ex-Arizona State linebacker Jalen Bates has found his landing spot. Bates is heading to Colorado State.

On Monday, Bates announced to his Twitter followers he is a Ram. The message was posted with a Photoshopped image showing him in a Colorado State football uniform. Bates started 10 games for Arizona State last season, and he has appeared in 18 games during his college career with the Sun Devils. That’s a nice addition for the Rams.

Having already earned his degree from Arizona State, Bates will be eligible to p[lay right away for the Rams this fall.