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

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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.

Illinois LB Joseph Thompson enters the transfer portal

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Illinois has been on the right side of the football portal throughout the offseason.  Now, Lovie Smith‘s crew finds themselves on the wrong end.

First reported by Rivals.com, Joseph Thompson has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.  247Sports.com subsequently confirmed that the defensive back is intent on leaving the Illinois football program.

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.

Thompson was a three-star member of the Illinois football Class of 2019.  The Chicago native was rated as the No. 27 recruit regardless of position in the state of Illinois.  As a true freshman, Thompson didn’t appear in any games and took a redshirt.

On the positive side for the Illini? Illinois has added seven transfers to its football roster this offseason.  Five of those have come from Power Five programs.

In mid-March, ex-Alabama linebacker Christian Bell tweeted that he was moving on to the Illini. Shortly thereafter, we noted that an FCS All-American offensive lineman had opted to transfer into the Illinois football program. New Mexico State wide receiver Desmond Dan did the same.  As did Miami wide receiver Brian Hightower.  And Mississippi State offensive lineman Brevyn Jones as well in early May  And Louisville defensive back TreSean Smith last week mid-May.  And Cal defensive tackle Chinedu Udeogu that same month.

Report: Oklahoma wants to move its 2020 opener up a week, to Aug. 29

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While seemingly everyone in the sport is looking to push games back, Oklahoma is actually looking to move its football opener up.

Oklahoma is currently scheduled to open the 2020 college football season at home in Norman against FCS Missouri State Sept. 5.  According to The Oklahoman, however, OU is looking to move that matchup up a week, to Aug. 29.  Reportedly, the FCS school is amenable to such a move.

The reasoning behind such a waiver?

OU athletic director Joe Castiglione’s rationale in this pandemic-stricken year is that moving the opener would give OU an off week after each of its first two games, which could be valuable with the testing of players for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

With constant testing and the subsequent contact tracing for those exposed, teams face a season with frequent quarantines and isolation of players who either have the virus or have been exposed to it.

At the moment, Oklahoma is scheduled to face Tennessee at Memorial Stadium Sept. 12.  Then coming off a bye, OU would travel

All of this, of course, is contingent on there actually being non-conference games in the sport.  The Big Ten was the first conference-only scheduling domino to fall.  The ACC and Pac-12 are expected to follow suit.  The Sooners’ conference, the Big 12, likely won’t make a decision on that front until the end of this month.  The same goes for the SEC as well.

Five-star 2020 Georgia signee Broderick Jones reportedly injured in motor bike accident

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There’s a health concern involving one of the crown jewels of the Georgia football Class of 2020.

With Auburn in hot pursuit, Broderick Jones confirmed back in February that he had signed with Georgia football. The offensive lineman stated on National Signing Day he is “a Georgia boy” and “wanted to be close to home so my family could support me.“

Now, though, 247Sports.com is confirming that Jones suffered “a lower leg injury related to an accident involving a motor bike.” No details surrounding the accident have been revealed, although the website noted that it didn’t happen in the last couple of days.

It’s expected that Jones will be recovering for multiple weeks, perhaps up to two months. As of yet, the Georgia football program has not commented on the development.

The No. 3 recruit regardless of position in the state of Georgia, the 6-5, 298-pound Jones is the No. 2 offensive tackle in the country.  On the 247Sports.com composite, he’s listed as the No. 11 prospect overall in the Class of 2020.  Only one signee in this year’s class for the Bulldogs, cornerback Kelee Ringo, was rated higher.

While Jones verbally committed to UGA in April of 2018, the departure of line coach Sam Pittman for the head job at Arkansas in December caused some concern.  In January, Jones took an official visit to Arkansas.  He took another to Illinois that same month.

With the Bulldogs, the expectation is that Jones will slide into a starting job as a true freshman.  Provided there is a season, of course.

Florida State’s Mike Norvell to take 25% pay cut

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Less than a year into his job, the Florida State head football coach is the latest to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

This past week, FSU announced a series of cost-saving measures within the athletic department.  Included in that is Mike Norvell, the new Florida State football coach who will take a 25-percent cut in his salary for the fiscal year.  Other coaches for the Seminoles, including men’s and women’s basketball, will take 15-percent cuts.  Athletic director David Coburn will see his salary reduced by 20 percent.

Additionally, 25 full-time jobs within the athletic department are being eliminated.  Overall, that department’s budget will be slashed by 20 percent.

”I am personally heartbroken over the impact this pandemic has had on our employees, and I am disappointed I must give you this discouraging news today,” Coburn said in a portion of his statement. “However, I am sure you have seen that other athletic departments around the country  are also making reductions.”

On that front, the FSU athletic director is absolutely correct.

Below is a partial list of FBS programs that have initiated various cost-cutting measures for athletic department personnel, including coaches:

Additionally, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who reportedly made north of $5 million a year ago, is taking a 20% pay cut.  Scott’s Big 12 counterpart, Bob Bowlsby, announced pay cuts for himself and the conference’s staff.