Getty Images

CeeDee Lamb, No. 6 OU defense too much for No. 11 Texas

2 Comments

CeeDee Lamb caught three touchdowns and Alex Grinch‘s defense sacked Sam Ehlinger nine times, overcoming two first half Jalen Hurts turnovers to lead No. 6 Oklahoma to a 34-27 win over No. 11 Texas in Dallas.

Oklahoma (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) accepted the ball to open the game and rolled down the field, moving 66 yards in 10 plays and scoring on a fourth-and-goal toss from Hurts to Lamb from the 1.

The Sooners then forced a three-and-out on Texas’ first possession and appeared primed to push their early lead to 14-0 when Hurts turned a 3rd-and-5 keeper into a 27-yard run to the Texas 7, but review ruled Anthony Cook jarred the ball loose and D'Shawn Jamison hopped on the fumble for the Longhorns.

Texas (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) moved the ball out of the shadow of its own goal post and pushed into OU territory, but Kenneth Murray forced UT off the field with the Sooners’ second third-down sack of Ehlinger in as many possessions.

Starting at their own 5, Oklahoma rolled down the field, gashing the Texas defense with Hurts scrambles up the middle, but on 3rd-and-8 from the OU 11, Hurts committed his second red zone turnover of the first half — an ill-advised intercepted to Texas safety Brandon Jones. Once again, though, the Oklahoma defense held, surrendering one third-and-long completion but not a second, as Kenneth Murray swallowed an Ehlinger scramble on 3rd-and-11.

Texas finally forced an OU punt — giving OU three straight scoreless possessions for the first time all season — but Texas punted it right back as the Sooners sacked Ehlinger again on third and long.

Oklahoma reached the Texas red zone for the fourth time of the half, but was again turned away from the end zone as Hurts rushed for just two yards on 3rd-and-goal from the 4, forcing a 19-yard Gabe Brkic field goal with 1:49 left in the first half, and Texas finally got on the board when Cameron Dicker answered with his own 49-yarder to close the half.

On its second possession of the second half, Texas finally put a drive together, moving 93 yards in seven plays to level the game at 10-10 at the 8:48 mark of the third quarter. Ehlinger converted a 3rd-and-8 with a fling to Roschon Johnson for nine yards then, one play later, Johnson broke free for a 58-yard run to the OU 4. The true freshman converted quarterback finished the drive with a scoring rush one play after that.

On its heels for the first time all afternoon and having scored three points in its last five possessions, Oklahoma’s offense came alive for the first time since the opening drive. A 9-yard completion to Lamb turned into a 24-yard gain when Malcolm Roach was flagged and ejected for targeting and, after a run for no gain, Lamb hauled in a 51-yard flea-flicker for a touchdown, putting OU back up 17-10 just 63 seconds after Texas tied the game.

Looking to tie the game for a second time, Texas’ drive was an utter disaster. Devin Duvernay dropped a fair catch attempt, putting the ‘Horns at their own 5. Collin Johnson dropped a big gain on first down, and Brennan Eagles did the same on second down, leading to a Ryan Bujcevski punt that Lamb returned to Texas’ 38. Looking for a knockout blow, Oklahoma instead settled for a 34-yard Brkic field goal then, after another Texas punt, came up empty on a 4th-and-1 pass, giving Texas the ball in its best starting point of the game — its own 40. Thanks to a 23-yard Roschon Johnson run and two flags drawn by Collin Johnson, Texas pulled within 20-17 on a 2-yard Ehlinger keeper to close the third quarter.

With Texas back in striking distance, Oklahoma struck: six plays, 75 yards and a third Lamb touchdown, this one from 27 yards out as he broke several tackles after making the catch inside the 10. UT needed a score to stay in the game and the Longhorns got one in the form of a 32-yard Dicker field goal.

But Oklahoma, who scored from 75 yards out in three and six plays the two previous times Texas pulled close, needed only five snaps to score the capper — a 3-yard Hurts keeper with 4:19 to play.

Ehlinger pulled Texas back within a score with his second keeper of the day, a 4-yarder with 1:49 to play, but Texas could not recover the ensuing onside kick. The junior quarterback finished the day 26-of-38 for 210 yards with two rushing scores while enduring nine sacks.

In his first and only appearance inside the Cotton Bowl, Hurts hit 16-of-28 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns (all to Lamb) while carrying a game-high 16 times for 121 yards and a score. The Sooners out-rushed Texas 268-100.

Minnesota’s Tom Foley punts way into transfer portal

Minnesota football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

A Minnesota football player is the latest to prove that punters are people too and, as such, aren’t immune from the pull of the portal.

On his personal Twitter account this week, Tom Foley announced that, “[a]after talking it over with my family and friends I have decided to put my name into the transfer portal.” The Punter gave no specific reason for the decision.

“I would like to say thank you to [Minnesota football head coach P.J.] Fleck and [special teams coordinator Rob] Wenger for giving me the opportunity to become a Golden Gopher,” Foley wrote. “Thank You to all my teammates who pushed me to become my best.”

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.

A walk-on from Peoria, Ill., Foley took a redshirt as a true freshman last season. He has yet to see any game action for the Minnesota football program.

Minnesota currently has two punters on its football roster. Fifth-year senior Matthew Stephenson took a grad transfer to the Big Ten school from Middle Tennessee State. At MTSU, he punted 16 times and averaged 37.06 per. Additionally, true freshman Mark Crawford is a 2020 three-star signee who comes to the school from Australia. He was rated as the No. 5 punter in this year’s class.

Minnesota is coming off a season in which it won 11 games, the football program’s most since 1904.

In interview with Howard Stern, Tom Brady talks about almost transferring from Michigan to Cal

Howard Stern Tom Brady
Getty Images
1 Comment

While a lot of the attention surrounding his Howard Stern interview focused on his relationship with the current POTUS, there was a college football angle to all of the Tom Brady talk.

Coming out of high school in California, Brady chose a scholarship offer from Michigan over one from Cal. His first season at U-M, Brady sat behind Scott Dreisbach, Brian Griese and Jason Carr, the son of head coach Lloyd Carr and took a redshirt. His second season, with Carr out of eligibility, Brady was still behind Dreisbach and Griese.

In his book “Belichick and Brady,” Michael Holley explained that Brady very nearly transferred from Michigan to Cal because of his positioning on the depth chart. During the course of his SiriusXM interview with the King of All Media Wednesday, Brady acknowledged the transfer talk.

The guy who was playing above me, Scott Dreisbach, he was very much their guy,” Brady told Stern during the show. “I thought we had got off to kind of a good start, he had got off to a good start in his career, and I was looking up at all these guys on the depth chart that were ahead of me, and I thought, ‘I’m never going to get a chance here.’ I remember talking to the people at Cal, because that was my second choice, to go to Berkeley, and I was thinking, ‘Maybe I should go there, because I’ll get more of an opportunity to play.’

“I went in and talked to Lloyd Carr. I said, ‘I don’t really think I’m going to get my chance here. I think I should leave,’ and he said, ‘Tom, I want you to stay, and I believe in you, and I think you could be a good player, but you’ve got to start worrying about the things you can control.’ When he said that he wanted me there, I went to bed that night, I woke up the next day, and I figured, you know what, if I’m going to be — and I still feel this way today — in a team sport, you’ve got to sacrifice what you want individually for what’s best for the team. So if you’re not the best guy, it’s a disservice for the team if you’re forced to somehow play. My feeling was, if I’m going to be the best, I’ve got to beat out the best, and if the best competition’s at Michigan, I’ve got to beat those guys out if I’m going to play. I ended up committing to be the best.

Obviously, Brady opted to remain with the Wolverines. He served as Griese’s backup in 1997, then beat out Dreisbach for the starting job the following season. After two years as U-M’s started, Brady was infamously selected 199th overall in the 2000 NFL Draft.

Suffice to say, Brady did fairly well for himself during his 20 seasons in New England.

Minnesota projecting potential $75 million loss due to COVID-19

Minnesota football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The worst case for Minnesota when it comes to COVID-19 is a hefty bottom line hit.

The school’s board of regents met on Tuesday and detailed some of the initial modeling they are projecting as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking just of the athletic department, that could result in nearly $75 million in lost revenue alone for the Gophers.

The Athletic’s Eric Vegoe detailed one of the slides from the meeting, which shows an overall $200 million hit to the university at large in a worst case — or “severe” — scenario:

Obviously the severe scenario that shows COVID-19 lasting into the fall is projecting a serious loss of revenue as the result of no (or reduced) college football. The sport makes up the vast majority of Minnesota’s revenues and has untold impact on other items such as donations as well.

USA Today’s database of athletic department revenues show the Gophers had nearly $125 million in revenue through the 2017-18 school year. While that figure has undoubtedly climbed higher as Big Ten media rights distributions have escalated, the number provided to the regents is still a huge chunk of that amount.

Even the moderate estimate of things lasting through the summer could result in a 20% shave on the department’s income.

It goes without saying that finances across the board in every industry will be impacted by the global pandemic but slides like the one above are a good reminder that even in the tiny world of football or college athletics, the cuts will probably have to run quite deep. And if a school like Minnesota is potentially forced to cut back, just imagine what other Group of Five programs will have to go through.

At some point college football will return to our lives but the ramifications of this current battle against the coronavirus figure will certainly have a far-reaching impact well beyond the gridiron. Sadly, no amount of ‘Rowing the Boat’ will be able to change that fact.

Bay Area official does not expect sports to return “until at least Thanksgiving”

Getty Images
Leave a comment

So much of the intersection of the coronavirus and college football has centered on when the game might return this fall.

Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy wants players back as soon as May. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney is confident that Death Valley will be packed come September. Virginia Tech’s athletic director has floated moving the calendar back just to get a full slate in.

In short, nobody knows.

That unknown has weighed heavily on most as they are asked to discuss the topic in recent days. What is left unsaid however, is that no coach or administrator will truly be in charge of determining the date CFB returns. That will be left to health officials at the local level.

One such official broached that topic this week. Speaking to the Santa Clara County (in the California Bay Area) Board of Supervisors, Dr. Jeffrey Smith believes sports in general may be looking more toward winter than fall whenever it returns.

Per the Los Angeles Times:

Smith on Tuesday told that county’s Board of Supervisors that he did not expect there would be “any sports games until at least Thanksgiving, and we’d be lucky to have them by Thanksgiving. This is not something that’s going to be easy to do.”

Santa Clara County is home to both Stanford and San Jose State. It’s also located in the region of the United States that was at the forefront of shutting down as a response to COVID-19 last month.

If those in charge don’t see a return to the football field until turkey time, those optimistic projections of getting the season done on time can probably be thrown to the wind.

Let’s hope that won’t turn out to be the case and the world can get a medical miracle it desperately needs. But until that happens, it’s probably best to be more pessimistic when it comes to the 2020 season than optimistic.