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No. 6 Oklahoma wins shootout over No. 13 WVU, setting up a Red River Rematch

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In a typical Big 12 shootout that saw more than 110 points and 1,300 yards of total offense, No. 6 Oklahoma received and made its own breaks in outlasting No. 13 West Virginia, 59-56 in Morgantown.

While the Sooners’ offense was as efficient and explosive as always in putting up 668 yards on 10.3 yards a play, it was the plays made when Kyler Murray and company were on the sideline that tilted the game in Oklahoma’s favor. The beleaguered Oklahoma defense forced two Will Grier fumbles and returned both for touchdowns and benefitted from two West Virginia touchdowns (or almost certain touchdowns) getting wiped off the board due to penalties. It was the type of game where an OU defensive back was blocked into and beyond the opposing bench — and it turned into the crucial play of the game in Oklahoma’s favor.

The win pushes Oklahoma (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) into a rematch with No. 14 Texas, giving the Sooners a chance to avenge their only loss of the season, win their fourth straight Big 12 title and 12th Big 12 crown overall while keeping hope alive of a third College Football Playoff berth in Lincoln Riley‘s four years in the program.

Both teams opened the game with consecutive touchdown drives and West Virginia momentarily added a third until Grier’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Gary Jennings, Jr. was wiped off the board due the first game-changing WVU mistake — an offensive pass interference penalty on David Sills V. Rather than owning a 21-14 lead three minutes into the second quarter, West Virginia faced a 3rd-and-19. The Mountaineers picked up 13 yards on a Kennedy McKoy run, but, knowing only touchdowns would beat Oklahoma, WVU dialed up a 4th-and-6 pass, but Grier overshot his intended receiver, giving the OU defense the first stop of the game.

After its defense held serve, Oklahoma’s offense issued its first mistake of the game when Murray fumbled the ball on a 16-yard run to the WVU 22, keeping the score at 14-14.

Given a second chance to take its third lead of the first half, West Virginia again was stopped, posting the game’s first three-and-out and its first punt. Oklahoma needed only two plays to grab its first lead, hitting Marquise Brown for a 65-yard catch-and-run to the WVU 1, which set up a Trey Sermon plunge to put the Sooners up 21-14 with 7:12 left in the first half.

After two straight scoreless drives, West Virginia answered with a 75-yard touchdown drive, capped by the second Grier-to-Sills scoring strike of the night, evening the score at 21-21 with 4:14 left in the first half.

Oklahoma wasted no time in retaking the lead when Kennedy Brooks raced 68 yards for a touchdown, putting the Sooners back in front at 28-21. After the Murray fumble, Oklahoma’s next two possessions both found the end zone in just two plays. After its offense made a big play, the much-maligned defense came up with its biggest of the season when linebacker Caleb Kelly stripped Grier of the ball and returned it 10 yards for a touchdown, pushing the OU edge to 35-21.

West Virginia rebounded to go 81 yards in 13 plays, scoring on a 1-yard McKoy plunge with 18 seconds left in the half to pull within 35-28, then, after Kenny Robinson, Jr. intercepted Murray in the end zone to open the second half, Jennings tied it with a 57-yard touchdown pass.

Another red zone mistake took points off the board for Oklahoma when tight end Carson Meier false started on a 4th-and-1 at the WVU 15, forcing a 37-yard Austin Seibert field goal, which was the closest thing to an Oklahoma punt to that point in the game.

Given a chance to take its third lead — and first since the opening frame — West Virginia capitalized. Grier found Jennings for a 52-yard gain on 3rd-and-18, taking the ball from his own 45 to the OU 2, setting up a Grier sneak to put the Mountaineers up 42-38 with 1:52 to play in the third quarter.

Oklahoma surged back in front when, one play after hitting him for a 30-yard gain on a 3rd-and-10, Murray hit Brown for a 45-yard catch-and-run score with 35 seconds left in the frame — but the scoring wasn’t done for the quarter. Facing another third-and-long, Grier again found a streaking Jennings, this time for a 75-yard score to put WVU up 49-45 with nine seconds left in the third quarter.

Again, Oklahoma immediately answered. The Sooners avoided another red zone disaster when Murray hit a wide open Grant Calcaterra for a 1-yard touchdown toss on fourth-and-goal, putting OU back in front and the game over the century mark, 52-49 with 11:19 to play.

West Virginia (8-3, 6-3 Big 12) was seemingly in place to re-take the lead when McKoy busted through the Oklahoma secondary to set up a first-and-goal, but WVU wide receiver TJ Simmons was flagged for a personal foul for blocking OU cornerback Tre Brown out of bounds, taking the ball from the OU 5 back to the WVU 43. A pass interference penalty pushed the ball into Oklahoma territory, but Grier was stripped for the second time of the night, which turned into the second Sooner defensive touchdown of the night when Curtis Bolton picked up the pigskin and raced it 52 yards to the house.

Unlike after his first fumble-six, Grier did not lead WVU to an immediate touchdown. Instead, three straight incomplete passes forced Billy Kenney‘s second punt, giving Oklahoma the ball with a 10-point lead. But the Sooners could not shut the door, instead punting for the first time of the game. This time, WVU went 80 yards in nine plays, pulling back within 59-56 on Martell Pettway‘s 17-yard run with 4:20 left in the game.

Rather than bank on his defense getting a stop, Dana Holgorsen elected to try and onside kick — which Oklahoma recovered. West Virginia’s defense answered the bell by pushing the Sooners into a 4th-and-5 situation, but, with the ball at the opponent’s 45, Riley elected keep his offense on the field, a choice Murray validated with an 8-yard completion to CeeDee Lamb. Murray salted the game away with a 17-yard run to the WVU 14 with under two minutes away, allowing the Sooners to kneel the ball and the quarterback to improve his Heisman resume with another sparkling night — throwing for 364 yards with three touchdowns and one interception on 20-of-27 passing plus 114 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.

In his final home game, Grier posted a career high 539 passing yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions, but his two fumbles proved the difference in the game.

The win is Oklahoma’s 17th straight victory in the month of November and 19th consecutive win in true road games. It was also the fourth consecutive game and fifth in seven outings the Sooners have surrendered at least 40 points. That’s a run that began with a 48-45 loss to Texas on Oct. 6, a loss the Sooners will get a chance to avenge next Saturday at AT&T Stadium.

Ex-Oklahoma four-star DE Ron Tatum Jr. commits UTSA

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UTSA is now the home for a one-time, big-time football recruit.  Unofficially, the Roadrunners are his new home we should say.

On his personal Twitter account this week, Ron Tatum Jr., announced that he has committed to the UTSA football team.  The defensive lineman spent the 2019 season at Northeast Oklahoma A&M.

Tatum would be eligible to play for the Conference USA school in 2020, although 247Sports.com lists his class as 2021.

“I want to start out by saying God is great and he steady showing me he has a plan,” the lineman wrote. “I want to Thank my entire family, my siblings and especially my dad and mom for staying with me and believing in me through this challenging journey.  I also want to Thank NEO Football and the University, especially Coach Allen and Coach Crissup for always pushing me and believing me when things got tough.

“With that being said I’ll be committing to the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA)! Thanks you Coach Traylor and Coach Wright for giving me another opportunity.”

Tatum was a four-star member of Oklahoma’s Class of 2018.  The Oklahoma City native was rated as the No. 3 player regardless of position in the Sooner State.  He was also the No. 5 strongside defensive end in the country.

Tatum took a redshirt as a true freshman for the Sooners.  In February of 2019, the 6-5, 270-pound end entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.

UTSA is coming off a 4-8 2019 football campaign.  The Roadrunners are now 19-29 under head coach Frank Wilson.  The C-USA school is scheduled to open the 2020 season against defending national champ LSU.  In Baton Rouge.

Kent State QB Marquez Glover makes move to the transfer portal

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It’s been a rough last few weeks for the Kent State football program

It’s starting punter the past three years, Derek Adams, transferred to Northwestern.  Duke linebacker Jacob Morgenstern, who had committed to Kent State football in March, opted late last month to transfer to Texas Tech instead.

Now, 247Sports.com has reported, quarterback Marquez Glover has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.  As he’ll be just a redshirt sophomore entering 2020, Glover will very likely have to sit out the 202 season.  That would leave him with two years of eligibility moving forward in 2021.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Grover was a member of the Kent State football Class of 2018.  The Florida prospect didn’t see the field in the regular season during his time with the MAC school.  He did, though, show flashes of talent during the 2019 spring game.

Kent State is coming off just its fifth bowl-eligible football season in the past four decades. The Golden Flashes also captured their first-ever bowl win following the 2019 regular season.

Nebraska will allow football players to return to campus for voluntary workouts June 1

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Count Nebraska as the latest football domino to fall.

Last week, the NCAA announced that it would allow schools to bring its student-athletes back to campus for voluntary workouts starting June 1.  The SEC subsequently confirmed its players would be returning June 8.  Both Ohio State and Illinois from the Big Ten will be doing the same on the same date.  And, as far as that goes, so are Clemson and Louisville.

Friday, Nebraska announced that it will be getting a one-week jump on its Bi1G counterpart by allowing student-athletes, including football players, to return to campus starting June 1.  Not surprisingly, the university has constructed a detailed plan with protocols that will allow Nebraska football players and others to return safely as they prepare for the upcoming seasons.

From the school’s release outlining testing measures and safety procedures:

  • The first step in the plan for student-athletes who are outside of Lincoln is the gathering of pre-travel information and education, followed by guidelines for traveling back to Lincoln.
  • All student-athletes returning to Lincoln from an outside location will quarantine for a minimum of 48 hours when arriving in Lincoln. Student-athletes living by themselves off campus may quarantine at their home, while those living on campus will quarantine in a designated on-campus dormitory.
  • Following the completion of the quarantine period, the student-athlete will be required to be tested for COVID-19 and return a confirmed negative result before being allowed to access athletic department facilities.
  • Any student-athlete returning a positive test will be required to remain at their residence and self-isolate and follow positive test guidelines. A student-athlete who tests positive will be required to secure two negative tests before completing the self-isolation period.
  • Once a student-athlete is cleared to access athletic facilities for a voluntary workout, they will follow a series of guidelines to help ensure the safest and cleanest workout environment possible:
  1. Workouts will be conducted in small groups and must be in accordance with all local and state guidelines.
  2. Student-athletes will have daily symptom checks and receive instant-read temperature checks prior to entering the facility.
  3. Once cleared to enter the facility, student-athletes will be required to wear a daily wrist band to exhibit medical clearance.
  4. Student-athlete access in the athletic facilities will be limited only to areas that are related to participating in voluntary workouts. Locker room access will not be allowed at this time.
  • Protocols are also in place for handwashing, distancing during workouts, disinfecting equipment between lifts and workouts, and laundry services.

“The plan we have developed is done with the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and community as our top priority,” Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos said in a statement. “We have strict protocol that will involve quarantines, testing and detailed cleaning and safety measures. The guidelines we have in place will be strictly followed as our student-athletes return to prepare for their upcoming seasons.”

Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood seeking immediate eligibility at Kentucky

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Kentucky may not immediately have a Power Five football transfer at its disposal.  Or, it may.  Depends.

Joey Gatewood decided in late October of last year to transfer from Auburn.  On the Tigers quarterback’s transfer to-do list were Florida, Kentucky, LSU and Mississippi State, among others.  In early December, Gatewood opted to transfer to Kentucky.

Normally, Gatewood would have to sit out the 2020 season for the Wildcats.  However, the player and the Kentucky football program will seek a waiver that would allow Gatewood to play this upcoming campaign.  That process began in the spring.

The basis for which a waiver is being sought is unclear.

A four-star 2018 signee, Gatewood was rated as the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Florida and the No. 49 recruit overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  The Jacksonville product was the highest-rated signee in the Tigers’ class that year.

After redshirting as a true freshman — and after losing out on the starting job to Bo Nix — Gatewood threw for 54 yards and two touchdowns prior to his decision to transfer.  He also added another 148 yards and three scores on the ground.

Terry Wilson Will Likely head into summer camp as QB1 for UK.  Wilson began 2019 as the starter before a knee injury sidelined him for the rest of the season.  His replacement, Sawyer Smith, also suffered a season-ending injury.  And will also return for 2020.