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

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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.

LB Jaden Hunter was second Georgia player arrested in March

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A member of the Georgia football program was arrested Wednesday night. Linebacker Jaden Hunter was arrested and charged with driving with a suspended or revoked license. He was also charged with stopping, standing, or parking in a prohibited area.

Hunter spent just two hours in jail after being released on bond late Wednesday night.

The charges are misdemeanors and his status with the Bulldogs has not been confirmed with regard to any possible suspensions or other forms of discipline by head coach Kirby Smart. Given the nature of the charges, it would seem this would be far from calling for removal from the program or any significant form of discipline unless there is more to the story behind the scenes.

Hunter did become the second Georgia football player to be arrested in the month of March. Earlier in the month, redshirt freshman Latavious Brini was arrested on one count of simple battery.

William & Mary football player killed in shooting incident

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The William & Mary football family is mourning the death of Nate Evans. Evans, 19, was the victim of a shooting Thursday night, according to a report from The Virginian-Pilot on Friday.

“Nate’s is a loss we are feeling deeply within our program,” William & Mary head coach Mike London said in a released statement. “Faith and family are the foundations of our program. We value relationships first.

“Our team has gathered together to support each other as we deal with the grief that comes from this tragedy. Additionally, we will do all we can to support and comfort Nate’s family and loved ones through this difficult time.”

Police in Norfolk responded to a call about gunshots late Thursday night. The running back was declared dead at the scene of the call. What led to the shooting remains unknown. No arrests have been made at this time as an investigation continues.

Ohio State receiver to transfer from Buckeyes, per reports

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Ohio State seems to be losing a wide receiver from the program. Multiple reports from around the Ohio State football program have suggested wide receiver L'Christian Smith will leave the program as a transfer at the end of the spring semester.

Smith was a four-star recruit in Ohio State’s Class of 2018. Smith redshirted the 2018 season and still has four years of eligibility remaining. Smith played in three games, allowing him to preserve a year of eligibility under the NCAA’s modified redshirt rules last season.

Of course, barring any potential waiver request, Smith will have to sit out the 2019 season due to NCAA transfer rules (that continue to be more flexible than ever before) if he transfers to another FBS program.

Ohio State should still be in pretty good shape as far as the wide receivers are concerned after the potential loss of Smith. And with Justin Fields eligible to play right away at the quarterback position, the Buckeyes should still have good firepower in the passing game working for them next fall.

Former USC kicker Matt Boermeester sues school over controversial expulsion

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USC is dealing with many negative stories on a number of fronts and now you can add one more to the Trojans’ docket.

As detailed by ESPN, former cardinal and gold kicker Matt Boermeester has filed a lawsuit against the university in district court over his controversial expulsion in 2017:

The lawsuit includes seven causes of action, including selective Title IX enforcement, breach of contract, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and represents the latest step in Boermeester’s ongoing legal battle with the school. In 2017, Boermeester, who remains two classes shy of graduation, sued for his expulsion to be overturned in superior court, but the attempt was unsuccessful.

“What happened to Matt Boermeester at USC should terrify anyone who believes in the right to due process and innocent-until-proven-guilty,” attorney Andrew T. Miltenberg said in a statement to the site. “Based on nothing more than a third-party report by a nonwitness — essentially a rumor that was easily and repeatedly disputed — a star athlete lost his education and his future career in the NFL.

Boermeester was kicked out of the school not long after he delivered one of the highlights of the Clay Helton era at USC with a game-winning kick to secure the Rose Bowl back in January of 2017. The issue started back when a member of the school’s tennis team reported an incident allegedly involving the kicker putting his hands on his girlfriend, which prompted a school investigation into the matter. That eventually led to Boermeester’s expulsion despite the woman in question (who is still with Boermeester, according to ESPN) denying what happened and blasting the school for their handling of the matter.

USC’s Title IX coordinator was also named to the suit, which comes after legal wrangling between the parties last year in Los Angeles Superior Court.