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No. 9 Oklahoma stops 2-point try to avoid epic collapse to Iowa State

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A 42-21 lead with 3:47 to go in the third quarter seemed to put the game in hand for Oklahoma but, with 24 seconds left in the game, Oklahoma’s defense found itself needing to stop a 2-point try from a resurgent Iowa State to avoid an epic collapse not only to its seemingly-well-in-hand win, but to its College Football Playoff hopes.

Before we tell you what happened, you have to know how we got there.

Trailing 35-14 at the half, took the ball to open the third quarter and rolled 75 yards in eight plays — six of them runs — to pull within 35-21. The Cyclones then forced a three-and-out to get the ball with a chance to make it a one-score game, but Oklahoma then rolled 97 yards in 10 plays, and when Kennedy Brooks broke free for a 48-yard touchdown run with 3:47 to go in the third quarter, Oklahoma was back up 42-21 and the game was back in comfortable territory.

But the Cyclones would not relent. They went 69 yards in eight plays, scoring on a 3-yard toss from Brock Purdy to Chase Allen on the first play of the fourth quarter.

CeeDee Lamb, who was otherwise excellent throughout the game, fumbled the ball to Iowa State at the Cyclones’ 32-yard line two plays after that, and Iowa State slowly, methodically drove into scoring territory with a chance to pull within 42-35. Knowing a field goal would not get the job done, Matt Campbell went for a 4th-and-10 at the OU 19 with 10:09 to play, which was picked up on a 10-yard strike from Purdy to Deshaunte Jones. However, when Purdy’s 4th-and-goal pass from the 13 sailed incomplete with 7:37 to go, it seemed the comeback effort was dead.

But Iowa State still wouldn’t die. The Cyclones forced a punt, then breezed 80 yards in four plays, pulling within 42-35 on a 33-yard toss from Purdy to Sean Shaw, Jr. with 3:35 left.

Oklahoma’s offense, suddenly gone cold, ran for two and one yards on first and second down on an “all right, let’s put this thing away” drive.. and then, on 3rd-and-7, Jalen Hurts scrambled and tossed an interception to Iowa State’s Lawrence Wright, who raced the ball to OU’s 35 with 2:30 left in the game.

And then, with 24 seconds left, Purdy lofted a ball to Norman native Charlie Kolar for a 13-yard touchdown, pulling a game that was 42-21 to start the quarter was now 42-41. Campbell elected to go for two when Oklahoma, going on five consecutive games without a takeaway, finally got one when Parnell Motley wrestled the ball away from La'Michael Pettway to secure the win.

No. 9 Oklahoma’s 42-41 win kept the Sooners (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) in the Playoff hunt, avoided OU’s first back-to-back regular season losses since 1999 and avoided a 2-game home losing streak to Iowa State (5-4, 3-3 Big 12), who stunned the Sooners in Norman in 2017.

Before the near-collapse, Oklahoma raced to a lead behind the heroics of Jalen Hurts.

The senior accounted for all five of OU’s first half touchdowns, finding Lamb for scores of 48 and 63 yards, Trejan Bridges for a 7-yard score, and running in from eight and two yards out. For the game, he went 18-of-26 for 273 yards with three scores and a pick while rushing 22 times for 68 yards and two scores. Brooks, rarely used in the loss to K-State, rushed 15 times for 132 yards and a score, while Lamb caught eight passes for 167 yards.

Purdy finished the game 19-of-30 for 282 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions, but it’s the one pass that doesn’t show up in the box score that will stick in his mind whenever he thinks of this game.

University of Minnesota distances itself from Minneapolis Police Department in wake of George Floyd’s death

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A despicable, abhorrent, unconscionable situation that unfolded in Minnesota Monday has a college football connection.

Monday night, 46-year-old George Floyd died after a Minneapolis Police Department officer took a knee on the man’s neck.  For several minutes.

Floyd was a black man.  The police officer is a white man.

“I can’t breathe, please, the knee in my neck. I can’t move … my neck … I’m through, I’m through.”

Four police officers connected to the death of Floyd have since been fired.

Wednesday, the University of Minnesota announced that it has severed its most significant ties to the Minneapolis Police Department.  The MPD had assisted the university for large events, including Minnesota football games. That relationship will not move forward for now and the foreseeable future.

From a letter attributed to university president Joan Gabel:

Today I am announcing two immediate changes regarding our relationship with MPD.

First, I have directed Senior Vice President Brian Burnett to no longer contract with the Minneapolis Police Department for additional law enforcement support needed for large events, such as football games, concerts, and ceremonies.

Second, I have directed University Police Chief Matt Clark to no longer use the Minneapolis Police Department when specialized services are needed for University events, such as K-9 Explosive detection units.

The university hasn’t completely severed ties with Minneapolis police, though, with Gabel explaining that UM will “limit our collaboration with the MPD to joint patrols and investigations that directly enhance the safety of our community or that allow us to investigate and apprehend those who put our students, faculty, and staff at risk.”

Outside of that? The university’s “hearts are broken” and filled with “overwhelming sadness.”

Our hearts are broken after watching the appalling video capturing the actions of Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officers against George Floyd leading to his tragic death. As a community, we are outraged and grief-stricken. I do not have the words to fully express my pain and anger and I know that many in our community share those feelings, but also fear for their own safety. This will not stand.

I write to you to express our overwhelming sadness, and our demands for accountability and justice. Our campuses and facilities are a part of the communities in which they reside. University students, staff, and faculty are day-to-day participants in the life of every community in this state, and we must act when our neighbors are harmed and in pain.

According to Blake Wilcox, the punter was told he wouldn’t be welcomed back by Wisconsin after taking personal leave of absence

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The latest exit from Wisconsin football is a curious one.

In early February, Blake Wilcox took a leave of absence from the Wisconsin football team for unspecified personal reasons. Wilcox, though, continued to work out on his own.  In fact, he told the Wisconsin State Journal that “he sent coaches videos of workouts and indicated he would be back with the team.”

On May 15, however, Wilcox claimed he was told by a member of the UW football program that he was no longer a part of the team. “It wasn’t my choice at all. I think it wasn’t a good representation of the program on their end,” he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Thus far, the Wisconsin football program has not commented publicly on Wilcox’s allegations.

“I sent them videos of workouts, me punting, and somehow they thought I wasn’t planning on coming back,” Wilcox told the State Journal in a direct message. “All things considered, I learned that things don’t always work out the way you planned. I’m in a better head space than I’ve ever been it, my grades this semester were great, and I’m ready to keep grinding.”

Wilcox was a three-star member of the Wisconsin football Class of 2019.  According to the 247Sports.com composite, the Wisconsin native was the No. 8 punter in the country.

Wilcox didn’t see the field at all as a true freshman.

Anthony Lotti and Connor Allen were the only two punters who saw action last season for the Badgers.  With Wilcox’s situation, Gavin Meyers and Jack Van Dyke are the only two punters on UW’s roster at the moment.  The program also signed a pair of punters as part of its 2020 recruiting class.

Wisconsin is coming off its fifth 10-win season the past six years.  Four of those have come under Paul Chryst.  In January, the head coach was given a contract extension through 2025.

Syracuse loses second linebacker to the transfer portal in less than two weeks

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When it comes to its linebacking corps, the transfer portal hasn’t been kind to Syracuse football of late.

In mid-May Juan Wallace announced on Twitter that he has entered the NCAA transfer database.  On the same social media service, teammate and fellow Orange linebacker Kadeem Trotter announced that he has taken the plunge into the portal as well.

It appears that Trotter will be leaving the Syracuse football program as a graduate transfer.

“I would like to thank Syracuse University for everything,” Trotter wrote. “I’ve decided to enter the transfer portal with two years of eligibility remaining.”

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.

Trotter was a three-star member of the Syracuse football Class of 2017.  The Canton, Ohio, product was the No. 48 player in the Buckeye State regardless of position.  Boston College and Iowa State were his only other Power Five offers.

As a true freshman, Trotter took a redshirt.  Then, in 2018, he didn’t appear in any games.  This past season, the 6-2, 226-pound redshirt sophomore played in six games.  All of that action came on special teams, the kick coverage unit specifically.

It was expected that Trotter would’ve seen his role expanded to include snaps on defense prior to his decision.

NCAA extends recruiting dead period through July 31; The Association will also allow strength coaches to ‘virtually observe voluntary physical workouts’

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Not surprisingly, the NCAA has reset its recruiting trail policies.  Again.

As the coronavirus pandemic effectively shuttered the sports world, the NCAA announced in mid-March that it was putting a halt to all in-person recruiting until at least April 15.  Last month, that dead period was extended through May 31.  This month, another extension took us to June 30.

As we close in on the month of June, another extension is official.  As expected, the NCAA announced Wednesday evening that the recruiting dead period has been extended through July 31.  That means all in-person recruiting activities — either on-campus or elsewhere — are prohibited.

The latest edict impacts all sports, not just football.

“The extension maintains consistent recruiting rules for all sports and allows coaches to focus on the student-athletes who may be returning to campus,” said Division I Council Coordination Committee chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania, said in a statement. “The committee is committed to reviewing the dead period again in late June or early July.”

One potential effect of all of these dead-period extension bans?  It could force The Association to, for one year, temporarily get rid of the December Early Signing Period.

The NCAA earlier this month also announced that football programs could begin bringing players back to campus for voluntary workouts starting June 1.  In the dead-period release, The Association also updated its tack on that front:

Additionally, the committee decided to allow strength and conditioning coaches to virtually observe voluntary physical workouts for health and safety purposes but only if requested by the student-athlete. The measure goes into effect June 1. The strength and conditioning coach will be allowed to observe the workouts and discuss items related to voluntary workouts but not direct or conduct the workout.

The decision was supported by the Committee on Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports Prevention and Performance Subcommittee. The subcommittee encouraged schools that decide to allow their strength and conditioning coaches to observe voluntary workouts to proactively consider the school’s overarching responsibility to protect the health of and provide a safe environment for each student-athlete. More specifically, the subcommittee stressed that schools should plan for how the strength and conditioning coach should respond if they observe an unsafe workout environment or in the event that a medical emergency occurs during a voluntary session.

The committee will continue to explore the opportunity for strength and conditioning coaches to conduct voluntary workouts virtually, as they do during in-person, on-campus voluntary workouts.