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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.

Ex-FSU coach Willie Taggart spotted at Michigan hockey game

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Former Florida State coach Willie Taggart may be living the buyout life for now, but it’s always good to keep some doors open for some new opportunities. Who knows whether or not Taggart will be joining the Michigan Wolverines in the near future as a member of the football staff under Jim Harbaugh, but Taggart has been spotted taking in a hockey game in Ann Arbor this evening, with none other than Jack Harbaugh by his side.

Yep. That’s Taggart sitting in the row directly in front of Jack Harbaugh. For those unaware, there is a history between the two men, so Taggart hanging out with Harbaugh comes as no real surprise. Taggart was recruited to play quarterback at Western Kentucky out of high school. The assistant coach doing the recruiting? Jim Harbaugh. The head coach of the Hilltoppers? That’s right. It was Jack Harbaugh. Taggart went on to begin his coaching career at WKU working under Jack Harbaugh and Taggart left to take on the role of running backs coach under Jim Harbaugh when the current Wolverines head coach was hired by Stanford.

Is Taggart moving closer to coming full circle in his coaching career and be a new assistant coach at Michigan? At the very least, perhaps Taggart will be one of the next analysts that help to Wolverines. Time will tell, but it would certainly seem like a good possibility for Taggart to remain in the coaching game.

Report suggests Matt Luke will continue coaching Ole Miss in 2020

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As we approach the end of the college football regular season, it’s just about time for the coaching carousel to get spinning once again. A few of programs have already made some coaching changes (Arkansas, Rutgers, and Florida State), but it does not appear any changes will be made at Ole Miss. According to a report from Football Scoop, Matt Luke is expected to remain the head coach in Oxford, Mississippi in 2020.

Not too surprisingly, the cost of a buyout is a key piece of information in this particular story. While the price to buy its way out of Luke’s contract is $6.5 million, the actual cost to move on from Luke is nearly doubled when Ole Miss accounts for the buyout costs of Luke’s assistants. Namely, offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez and defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre. Rodriguez and MacIntyre have head coaching experience and were sensible additions to the staff for a first-time head coach like Luke. But with experience, comes cost. According to Football Scoop, the buying out of contracts to Luke, Rodriguez, and MacIntyre could climb to over $12 million if Ole Miss is to make a change.

Another reason Ole Miss may hold off on making any changes with the football program are due to the school actively focusing on naming a new full-time athletics director. The common line of thinking is it makes more sense to allow your next full-time AD to make the call on the head coach of a football program, ensuring a higher likelihood of positive chemistry between coach and AD that leads to everyone being on the same page for the good of the program moving forward.

So, between the buyout cost and the ongoing search for an AD, Matt Luke appears to be in a pretty stable position at this point in time.

Toledo suspends DE Terrance Taylor for dirty hit against NIU

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Sometimes a player makes a hit so dirty, a head coach simply won’t waste time waiting to hear from the conference’s office regarding the player’s status moving forward. Such was the case for Toledo head coach Jason Candle when addressing a nasty hit delivered by defensive end Terrance Taylor Wednesday night against NIU. Toledo has suspended Taylor for the next game on the schedule, against Buffalo.

Taylor came in flying from behind NIU quarterback Ross Bowers well after the end of a play that saw Bowers fell to the ground and was getting up. Taylor lined into the back of Bowers with a helmet-to-helmet hit from behind on the unsuspecting quarterback.

Bowers was ejected from the game for targeting. Because the ejection occurred in the second half of Wednesday night’s game, NCAA rules would prohibit Taylor form playing in the first half of Toledo’s next game. But Candle and Toledo are going one extra step and just sidelining him for the entire game.

“We are disappointed that this play occurred,” Candle said in a released statement. “It’s not something we coach. We’ll use it as a teaching tool for our team on the value of discipline in emotional times.”

Given the severity of the hit, some form of reprimand could also be in the works from the MAC, although it would seem Candle and Toledo are handling this appropriately with a full game suspension. College football simply doesn’t need those kinds of plays in the game.

Minnesota regents approve new contract for P.J. Fleck

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As expected, Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck now has a brand new contract to remain the head coach of the Golden Gophers. After agreeing to terms on a new deal and the school officially recognizing the new deal last week, just before a monster of a win for the program, the contract has been given the final green light to become officially official after the Board of Regents voted to approve the terms of the new contract.

As previously reported, Fleck will have a new seven-year contract good through the 2026 season and the terms of the buyout were significantly increased to fend off would-be suitors looking for a new head coach this year on the coaching carousel, and potentially in the next few years as well before the buyout drops off in price. Of course, any school with deep enough pockets willing to pony up to get Fleck to be their guy will still make a phone call or two, but Fleck appears to be settled in with Minnesota for the foreseeable future.

In addition to Fleck seeing his own pay increase, Minnesota’s regents also signed off on providing more combined salary for an assistant coaching staff with an extra $1.05 million being placed in the budget for assistant coaches.

Now that all of that contract business is squared away, Fleck can continue to focus on Minnesota’s next task on the field. This week, Minnesota heads on the road to face Iowa in a pivotal Big Ten West Division game. The Gophers remain undefeated and have climbed to No. 8 in the College Football Playoff ranking. A win on the road against Iowa could set Minnesota up for a regular-season finale riding an 11-0 record and the division already clinched for a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game.

It’s no wonder Minnesota decided to lock down Fleck while they still could.