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No. 12 Texas opens Big 12 play by halting home losing streak to Oklahoma State

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In a game that was both as close as the final score and not, No. 12 Texas survived a game effort from Oklahoma State, 36-30.

Sam Ehlinger picked up a battered defense, completing 20-of-28 passes for 281 yards with four touchdowns and an interception while rushing 10 times for 70 yards. Keontay Ingram complimented his quarterback by carrying a season-high 21 times for 114 yards.

Texas (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) snapped a 5-game home losing streak to Oklahoma State (3-1, 0-1 Big 12), a Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium opponent record. However, the Cowboys showed flashes of a team that will compete in the Big 12 this year, as Spencer Sanders threw for 268 yards and rushed for 109 yards and a score.

Both teams put up near 500-yard efforts (498 for Texas, 494 for OSU) and were at times their own worst enemies. Oklahoma State kicked two short field goals and came up empty on two deep trips inside Texas territory, while the Longhorns muffed two different punts, both of which turned into Cowboy touchdowns.

Oklahoma State accepted the ball to open the game and, after converting an opening 3rd-and-11 on a 20-yard completion to Tylan Wallace, moved 78 yards to the Texas 1, but two Chuba Hubbard runs were turned away and the Cowboys settled for a 20-yard Matt Ammendola field goal.

Texas moved 35 yards over nine snaps on its first chance, but Texas punted from the Oklahoma State 40. After its defense forced a three-and-out, the Longhorn offense moved the ball again, this time going 66 yards in nine plays to take the lead on a 6-yard toss from Ehlinger to Devin Duvernay on the opening play of the second quarter.

Texas then seized control of the game when safety Montrell Estell caught a Sanders overthrow and returned it 37 yards to the Oklahoma State 28, and two plays later Ehlinger hit freshman Jake Smith for a 17-yard touchdown to put UT up 14-3 with 12:42 left in the first half.

Sanders moved past the interception by finding Wallace for a 35-yard gain to the Texas 38, but the Oklahoma State drive stalled when the Pokes ran Hubbard for a loss of four on 3rd-and-8 from the UT 26, leading to another Ammendola field goal.

Texas looked to increase its lead on its next touch, a 36-yard drive, but Roschon Johnson was stuffed for a loss of one on a 4th-and-3 from the OSU 28. Now trailing 14-6, Sanders hit Braydon Johnston for a 55-yard bomb to the Texas 3, then after two backwards runs, ran it in himself on third-and-goal to pull the Cowboys within 14-13 with 3:07 left in the first half.

That margin wouldn’t last, though, as Ehlinger hit Brennan Eagles for a 73-yard catch-and-run touchdown, pushing the Texas lead to 21-13 with 2:09 left in the first half. The ‘Horns forced an Oklahoma State punt and appeared in position to sit on the ball until halftime, but Smith muffed the Tom Hutton punt at his own 15, which Oklahoma State recovered. Hubbard charged in a 1-yard run with 11 seconds to go to put the score at 21-20 at halftime.

Oklahoma State forced another plus-territory punt to open the second half, then swiftly drove 74 yards. After Sanders was stopped for a 2-yard run a 3rd-and-4 from the Texas 11, Mike Gundy played it safe and called for another short Ammendola field goal, giving Oklahoma State its second lead of the game at 23-21.

It wouldn’t last. Texas moved 75 yards in seven plays, scoring on a 25-yard fake reverse throwback from Ehlinger to tight end Cade Brewer, putting Texas up 28-23 with 5:30 left in the third quarter.

Oklahoma State once again drove into the Texas red zone, but this time they came up empty. Sanders ran for 10 yards on a 3rd-and-11 from the Longhorns’ 13, a spot that seemed favorable to Texas and replay could not overturn. Gundy rolled the dice this time and paid for it when Hubbard was stuffed for a loss of a yard.

Texas quickly moved the ball out of the shadow of its own goal post, but on a 3rd-and-7 from his own 33 Ehlinger’s pass was tipped and intercepted by safety Kolby Harvell-Peel, who returned the ball 22 yards to the Texas 31. Given another chance to take the lead, Oklahoma State again came up empty. This time, after Sanders fired incomplete with room to run on 2nd-and-1 and Hubbard was again stuffed on 3rd-and-1, and the Pokes had been flagged for delay of game, Gundy tried a fake field goal which turned into a fumble that Texas’s Malcolm Roach recovered.

Given a second chance to step on the gas, this time Texas capitalized. A pair of Oklahoma State penalties and a 26-yard Ingram catch-and-run put Texas to the Cowboy 2, and converted quarterback Roschon Johnson punched in the score and then a 2-point conversion, putting Texas up 36-23 with 11:44 to play. The Longhorns had a real chance to put the game in a choke hold when safety Chris Brown caught a tipped interception on Oklahoma State’s next drive and returned it to the Oklahoma State 47, but the Cowboys’ defense forced a three-and-out, stuffing Ehlinger for a loss of a yard on a 3rd-and-1 keeper.

Gundy seemed to wave the white flag by punting with 3:44 remaining, but Texas muffed another punt, this time safety Brandon Jones. Hubbard, on his 37th carry of the night, streaked in for a 13-yard touchdown with 1:37 to go, and all of a sudden Oklahoma State was onside kicking with a chance to win the game. On a 3rd-and-9 with 1:24 to go, Ehlinger clinched the game with a 29-yard run, giving Texas its first win over Oklahoma State since 2008.

LSU opens as double-digit favorites on Oklahoma; Ohio State slight underdog to Clemson

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While definitely subject to change, the initial wagering odds for the degenerates in the reading audience are out.

Earlier Sunday, and in a surprise to absolutely no one, the four semifinalists for the 2019 College Football Playoff were released.  LSU was given the No. 1 seed by the selection committee and will face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl.  No. 2 Ohio State, which came into Championship Saturday ranked first in the country, will square off with No. 3 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.

According to the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, LSU is a 7/5 favorite to win the 2019 national championship.  Clemson is next at 2/1, while Ohio State sits at 3/1.  Oklahoma, which won its way into the playoffs at the expense of Georgia, is a decided underdog at 16/1.

Speaking of underdogs, the SEC Tigers are currently listed as a 12½-point favorite in their matchup with the Sooners.  Despite being the higher seed, the Buckeyes have opened as a two-point underdog to the ACC Tigers.

The over/under for Ohio State-Clemson opened at 63; for LSU-Oklahoma, it’s at 75.

LSU and Oklahoma have squared off just twice previously, with the most recent matchup coming in 2004.  Clemson and Ohio State have met three times in their collective histories, the most recent meeting coming in the 2016 College Football Playoff — a 31-0 win for the Tigers.

Arkansas confirms hiring of Georgia OL coach Sam Pittman as head coach

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When it came to replacing the fired Chad Morris, Arkansas, as it turned out, didn’t have to look outside of the SEC.

Sunday, with one of its top targets, Lane Kiffin, already having been locked up by SEC West rival Ole Miss, Arkansas reportedly pivoted its attention to Georgia’s Sam Pittman.  A few hours later, the Razorbacks confirmed that Pittman has been hired as the school’s next head football coach.

“Sam Pittman has been an integral part of successful teams that have competed at the highest levels, including for SEC and NCAA Championships,” UA athletic director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. “As one of the nation’s premier offensive line coaches, he has built a remarkable body of work thanks to his tremendous passion for his student-athletes, including teaching the fundamentals and developing his players on and off the field. Sam instills in his players the motivation, grit and determination required to compete and win. Throughout this process, I heard from many of his former players about the tremendous influence he had on them as a player and as a man.

“Sam knows the Southeastern Conference inside and out and is one of the nation’s best recruiters. His connections throughout football will enable him to build a quality coaching staff. In his previous tenure, Sam and his wife Jamie fell in love with the state of Arkansas and with Razorback fans. They know what a special place this is and are excited for the opportunity to come back to the Home of the Razorbacks.”

The hiring marks a return to Fayetteville for Pittman as he was a member of Bret Bielema‘s first coaching staff in 2013. In 2016, he left for Georgia, where he spent the past four seasons as the Bulldogs’ offensive line coach.  He also served as Kirby Smart‘s associate head coach.

The 58-year-old Pittman will be officially introduced as the Razorbacks’ 34th head coach Monday afternoon.

Mizzou zeroing in on Eli Drinkwitz as next head coach

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Once again, it appears a Power Five program will pilfer a Group of Five school for its next head football coach.

Sunday afternoon, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported that Applachian State’s Eli Drinkwitz “has emerged as a strong candidate” for the vacancy at Missouri.  Subsequent to that, ESPN.com reported that “Drinkwitz has reached an agreement to become Missouri’s next head football coach and a deal is being finalized.”

An official announcement of Drinkwitz becoming the permanent replacement for Barry Odom, who was fired late last month after four seasons at his alma mater, is expected no later than Monday.

The 36-year-old Drinkwitz is in his first season as the head coach of the Mountaineers, his first head-coaching job at any level of football.  App State stands at 12-1 on the season after claiming its second-straight Sun Belt Conference championship Saturday with a win over Louisiana.

Dec. 21, App State will face UAB in the New Orleans Bowl.

Georgia WR Dominick Blaylock reportedly suffered ACL tear in SEC title game loss

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A rough weekend for Georgia was underscored on Sunday as reports surfaced saying one of their key young players is done for the rest of this year and likely part of the next one.

As per Rivals’ Radi Nabulsi and a host of other beat writers in Athens, Bulldogs receiver Dominick Blaylock suffered a torn ACL in the loss against LSU in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday.

The freshman from Marietta, Ga. had to be carted off the field in the first quarter after making a short catch and planting his knee awkwardly. The team’s top receiver, Lawrence Cager, was already out after undergoing knee surgery on Nov. 29.

Blaylock had made 18 catches for 310 yards and five touchdowns at UGA this season.