If you spent your New Years Eve sitting through the defensive slugfests that were the Sun Bowl and Redbox Bowl, then you deserved to reward yourself for your devotion to the sport of college football by catching the second half of the Autozone Liberty Bowl. Oklahoma State (7-6) avoided a complete meltdown in the fourth quarter to drop No. 23 Missouri (8-5) by a score of 38-33.
Oklahoma State nearly coughed up a bowl win in the fourth quarter by having one of the worst showings in the fourth quarter seen this bowl season. It started with Missouri quarterback Drew Lock uncorking an 86-yard touchdown pass to Johnathan Johnston on the first play from scrimmage after Cam Hilton picked off a pass from Cowboys quarterback Taylor Cornelius in the red zone. That cut a 16-point deficit to a nine-point game after kicking an extra point. Larry Rountree III brought Missouri to within two points with a 55-yard touchdown run on a drive that was aided by a pair of personal foul penalties called on Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State later made the odd decision to try running a fake punt that was not catching the Missouri special teams unit off guard for a turnover on downs, although the football gods refused to punish the Cowboys by having a Missouri field goal attempt to give the Tigers the lead blocked to preserve the two-point lead for Oklahoma State.
The offense was bonkers in the game, especially compared to some of the earlier bowl results in the day. The teams combined for 1,139 offensive yards, with Missouri leading Oklahoma State 637-502. Oklahoma State also lost the turnover battle (2-1) and the time of possession battle, yet they came up with the only defensive play needed in the game with a fourth-down stop of Lock to preserve the win.
Lock had passed for 373 yards with three touchdowns. Cornelius passed for 366 yards and four touchdowns but had two interceptions for Oklahoma State. In the absence of Justice Hill, who sat out of the bowl game to focus on staying healthy for the NFL draft process, Oklahoma State handed the ball off to Chuba Hubbard, who rushed for 145 yards and a score. Missouri’s Rountree topped him with 204 rushing yards.
The win marked the third consecutive season ending with a bowl victory for Mike Gundy and Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are now 9-4 in bowl games under Gundy since he was named the head coach of the program. Oklahoma State also avoided a losing season for the first time since 2005, Gundy’s first season as head coach in Stillwater.
Although the season ends with a second straight bowl loss, the Tigers took another step forward this season by improving its win total from the previous year. Barry Odom‘s third year on the job continued to show some signs of progress for the program as they move into 2019 looking to getting back to a level where it can be a factor in the SEC East. The Tigers are a good way away from their back-to-back SEC East Division runs under former head coach Gary Pinkel at a time when the rest of the division has and could continue to improve as well, but the offense continues to offer a glimmer of hope in Columbia.
And then there were two.
Seeing the Justin Fields writing on the wall, Tate Martell transferred from Ohio State in mid-January and ultimately landed at Miami. Three months later, another OSU signal-caller, Matthew Baldwin, confirmed on Twitter Thursday night that he too has decided to take his leave of the Buckeyes and place his name into the NCAA transfer database.
“[S]pring was a tough time for me personally. My family and I have prayed and talked a lot about where I belong and what is best for me,” Baldwin wrote as part of a very classy Twitter post revealing his decision. “In the end, we feel like it’d be better for me to step away from Ohio State.”
A four-star member of OSU’s 2018 recruiting class, Baldwin was rated as the No. 12 pro-style quarterback in the country coming out of high school in Austin, Texas. Baldwin didn’t play a down for the Buckeyes as he continued his rehab from an ACL injury he suffered late in his high school career at Lake Travis.
With the twin departures of Baldwin and Martell, OSU is now down to two scholarship quarterbacks — the Georgia transfer Fields (HERE) and West Virginia transfer Chris Chugunov (HERE). Fields was widely expected to be the Buckeyes’ starter under center in the 2019 opener; Baldwin’s decision ensures that, barring injury, that will indeed be the case.
A week and a half after word broke Luke Jones was intending to leave Notre Dame comes the announcement Jones is going to be playing closer to home. The Arkansas native announced with a message on Twitter he is coming home to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
“I would like to thank the University of Note Dame for giving me the opportunity to pursue my dream of playing college football,” Jones said in a brief message on his Twitter account. “However, I have decided to transfer and play football for the University of Arkansas. I will be enrolling in the summer and am excited for this new chapter in my life!”
Jones spent a brief moment with the Notre Dame program as he was a member of the Class of 2018 in South Bend. Prior to committing to the Fighting Irish, Jones had been committed to the Arkansas football program in his recruiting process, but Notre Dame emerged victorious in the recruiting game during a coaching change with the Razorbacks.
Jones will be required to sit out the 2019 season under standard NCAA transfer rules, although those seem to be more like guidelines these days, so we’ll wait to see if there is a chance Jones gets to jump into the mix in the offensive line for the Razorbacks this fall.
Tight end Tyler Sear is hopping on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and heading from one metropolitan corner of the state to the next. Sear announced on his Twitter account on Thursday he is transferring from Pitt to Temple.
The Class of 2017 recruit of the Panthers left the program last October for what was simply described as personal reasons. It was unknown if the leave of absence was a short-term or long-term plan as the decisions about the status were being kept close to the vest within the Pitt program.
Sear did battle some injury concerns during his time at Pitt that prevented him from potentially reaching his full potential for the Panthers. He caught two passes for nine yards last season prior to his stepping away from the team.
Perhaps a clean slate with a new program will do Sear good as he steps in to try contributing with the Owls in the AAC. Sear will have to sit out the 2019 season due to standard NCAA transfer rules, unless an exception is granted by the NCAA. It is unknown if a waiver will be filed by Sear and Temple for immediate eligibility.
Sear has not used a redshirt year yet so he could burn that in 2019 while waiting to get back on the field if he is forced to sit out the 2019 season. That ould leave Sear with two years of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2020 season.
Add another name to the growing list of players entering the transfer portal. This time it is Michigan cornerback Myles Sims. According to a report from 247 Sports, the former four-star prospect in Michigan’s Class of 2018 is evaluating his options.
Any player who adds his name to the transfer portal is allowed to make contact with potential programs of interest, but it does not automatically mean that player is gone for god. Sims will have the option of pulling his name out of the portal in the event he decides to stay in Ann Arbor. How quickly Sims will make any decision one way or the other remains to be seen.
Sims did not see the field last season for Michigan so he can use the 2018 season as his redshirt year. That gives the former four-star recruit four years of eligibility remaining, although he will likely have to burn one year of eligibility by sitting out the upcoming 2019 season.
Standard NCAA transfer rules require a player to sit out a full season before being ruled eligible to play again, although exceptions have been made a bit more frequently over the past year. Whether or not Sims will have the chance to play right away this fall will have to wait to be determined when he decides what his plans will be moving forward.