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No. 14 Baylor clinches first trip to Big 12 Championship by flattening Texas

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Baylor saw its hopes of making its first College Football Playoff trip — such that they ever existed in the first place, seeing as the Bears were 9-0 and ranked 13th — dashed in a 31-3 crimson and cream avalanche last week. That was obviously disappointing, but the Bears woke up Sunday morning with this reality: they, a team that went 7-6 last year and 1-11 a year ago, could clinch a trip to their first Big 12 title game by beating hated Texas at home this Saturday. That reality was still pretty good.

No. 14 Baylor’s ferocious defense — last week’s second half notwithstanding — flattened an obviously broken Texas offense, and the Bears booked a trip to Arlington with a convincing 24-10 win on Saturday.

In fact, Baylor was a single play away from shutting out Texas for the first time since 1980. After Baylor punted the ball to Texas’ 2-yard line with 18 seconds left in the first half, the Bears’ defenders clearly expected their counterparts to concede a 7-0 halftime deficit. Instead, Keontay Ingram ripped off a 68-yard run, allowing Cameron Dicker to kick a 48-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.

That proved to be a solitary highlight for Texas’ offense. The Longhorns punted seven times, turned it over on downs once and threw one interception, as Sam Ehlinger went just 22-of-37 for 200 yards and the pick, all while taking numerous hits both inside and outside the pocket. Even Ingram did next to nothing after the 68-yard run; outside of that play, he went for just 18 yards on six carries. Daniel Young added a 4-yard touchdown run with one second left in the game.

On offense, Denzel Mims proved to be the difference, catching seven passes for 125 yards and the clinching touchdown, putting Baylor up 21-3 with 1:20 to go in the third quarter. Jon Lovett put Baylor up early with a 28-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter, and Charlie Brewer called his own number, leaping in for a 1-yard score to give the Bears a 14-3 lead with 7:36 to go in the third quarter.

The one concerning takeaway from the game is that Brewer (16-of-25 for 221 yards; 18 carries for 75 yards) left the game after taking a blow to the head with 13:22 to go in the fourth quarter. He was taken to the injury tent and then to Baylor’s locker room and did not return. Whether that was an injury precaution or a legitimate injury remains to be seen. Either way, Baylor can now officially rest its junior quarterback next week at Kansas to prepare for its first trip to the conference championship.

Baylor won Big 12 championships in 2013 and ’14, but the Big 12 did not stage a title game in those years. So while the Bears will make their first Big 12 Championship appearance at AT&T Stadium on Dec. 7, their (overwhelmingly likely) opponent, Oklahoma, will be there for the 11th time, including all three since the game was revived in 2017.

The win snaps a 4-game losing streak in the series for Baylor and hands the Bears their 27th victory over the Longhorns 109 tries.

Indiana TE Peyton Hendershot arrested in domestic violence incident

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Indiana tight end Peyton Hendershot was arrested late Saturday night in connection to an ugly alleged domestic violence incident.

According to the Indianapolis Star, Bloomington police picked up the redshirt sophomore on multiple charges and he will remain in a local jail for at least 24 hours as a result.

Some of the details of the incident in question are quite awful. Per the Star:

A Bloomington Police Department news release says Hendershot went to a former girlfriend’s apartment in the 2300 block of South Brandon Court and entered the apartment without permission, accusing the woman of infidelity. He reportedly took her cellphone from her to look at calls and texts and when she tried to retrieve the phone, Hendershot — who is 6-4 — “grabbed her by the neck and shoved her against the wall.”

She said Hendershot threw her phone into the kitchen as he left the apartment, breaking the screen. She called 911, and police then went to Hendershot’s residence and arrested him there.

Hendershot was eventually charged with felony residential entry, domestic battery, criminal mischief and criminal conversion.

The school released a short statement in response to the paper’s inquiry about the tight end.

“Indiana University Athletics is aware of the arrest of redshirt sophomore Peyton Hendershot,” a department spokesperson said. “IU Athletics will continue to gather facts, cooperate with and monitor the legal and administrative processes, and take further action as the evolving situation warrants.”

While they didn’t confirm that he was suspended from the team, that is an action that appears likely in the coming days.

Hendershot was a big part of the Hoosiers’ passing game last season. He earned third-team All-Big Ten honors and set school records for receptions and yards by a tight end. Now his future at the program seems very much in doubt going forward in the wake of this alleged domestic violence incident.

State legislators looking to wipe New Mexico, NMSU debt in hopes of decreasing ‘money games’

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Politics and football are colliding in the state of New Mexico. Luckily for the two FBS programs in the region, that could wind up working out quite well.

As detailed by the Albuquerque Journal, lawmakers recently made a few changes to their annual state budget. One item that made it into the lengthy bill this year? A measure that could result in millions of debt being wiped from New Mexico and New Mexico State’s ledgers.

Per the Journal:

The language in the budget prohibits the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University from using any state money – which includes money appropriated from the Legislature as well as any other state money that ends up in the athletics departments’ coffers – to pay back the accumulated deficits.

At UNM, that totals a nearly $4.4 million debt the Athletics Department has run up with the main campus through years of overspending.

At NMSU, the debt is $3 million.

The heart of the matter? Not just making sure the universities take proper accounting steps with their athletic departments but the play of both the Lobos and Aggies on the field.

Namely, their reliance on so-called ‘money games.’ Also termed ‘buy games’ or ‘guarantee games,’ these are when Group of Five programs get paid millions to essentially be fodder for larger Power Five programs during the non-conference slate.

While there have been cases of the ones getting the checks still emerging with a surprise victory or two, typically these are pretty lopsided affairs. They happen a lot and have turned into a way of life at programs like in the state.

Now there’s hope that by cancelling some debt, the two teams won’t have to take on such games as often.

“I’m sick and tired of both universities having to take money games. We’re not competitive, and we’re getting crushed, but they’ve got to play those games to get enough money for their athletics departments,” State Sen. John Arthur Smith told the paper.

Both teams lost games by over 50 points on the road in such games last season. Their future schedules also contain plenty more. UNM will travel to USC and Mississippi State in 2020 for example. FBS independent NMSU starts the season off at UCLA and concludes it by going to Florida in late November.

There’s still plenty of work left to be done before things change on the field and with the state budget but perhaps this is the start of some interesting financial relief for two programs that have some of the toughest roads to wins in all of major college football.

Clemson linebacker tears ACL for a third time

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Clemson coaches will hope that the third time really is the charm for unlucky linebacker Bryton Constantin. 

The redshirt freshman was just recently set to return to the football field this spring. Instead, he will apparently head back under the knife after injuring his knee for a third time. He confirmed the diagnosis on Twitter late last week.

Constantin was one of the nation’s top recruits at his position coming out of Baton Rouge, La. and picked the Tigers as part of the class of 2019. However, he never made it onto the field. He originally tore his ACL playing basketball in high school last February. Then he re-injured it in September after getting on campus.

The former four-star was expected to be eased into spring practice next month at Clemson but obviously those plans are out the door. Given the timetable for such injuries plus his history, the 2020 season could be too. 

This is a Dabo Swinney and Brent Venables defense however so there’s at least enough depth at the position to lean on for a team likely ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls. James Skalski is a returning starter in the middle while Mike Jones Jr., Jake Venables and Baylon Spector all have experience on the outside. The team does need to replace likely top five pick Isaiah Simmons but do add several talented freshmen to the group that is coming back from a disappointing loss in the national title game. 

Still, just about everybody on the roster would have loved if Constantin could have worked his way in the mix given his earlier knee injuries. That won’t be the case though as the youngster hopefully undergoes ACL surgery for a third and final time in the coming weeks.

Texas reportedly suspends WR Kennedy Lewis for spring practice

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Texas head coach Tom Herman has been busy this offseason remaking his coaching staff. That doesn’t mean he’s kept an eye on what his players have been doing however.

According to Orangebloods.com’s Anwar Richardson, the program has suspended wideout Kennedy Lewis. The redshirt freshman will miss spring practice with the team but appears to be in line to return in time for summer workouts. 

Provided, of course, he does what he needs to in order to get back in the graces of Herman and company. There was no word on what Lewis did to get the (temporary) boot. 

Either way, it’s a missed chance for Lewis to make an impression for Texas’ rich new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. The Longhorns are also looking for several new targets for QB Sam Ehlingher this spring given that seniors Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay both are off to the NFL. The youngster was expected to be one of those in the mix behind the likes of Jake Smith and Brennan Eagle to see some serious playing time.

Now that’s not longer the case.

Lewis arrived on the 40 Acres as a three-star recruit prior to last season. He made it into two games and took a redshirt, recording just a single catch against Rice for 37 yards.

Now, others like Josh Moore and Marcus Washington figure to get extra reps when the ‘Horns opens their 15 practice slate next month.