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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.

Nine from ’19: TE Thaddeus Moss joins LSU exodus for NFL Draft

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Thaddeus Moss is officially a one-and-done at LSU after declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft.

The star LSU tight end became the ninth underclassman for the national champions to leave campus for the pros this week. He made the announcement on social media in a letter thanking the fan base:

Moss played a pivotal role in the team’s record-setting offense in 2019. He caught 47 passes for 570 yards and had three of his four touchdowns come in the College Football Playoffs. That included a pair of scores in the title game, one of which doubled as the one that allowed QB Joe Burrow to set the FBS record for TD passes in a season.

The one-time North Carolina State transfer is no stranger to the pros either way. He’s the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss and will be part of an intriguing class of players at tight end this spring.

While it’s possible there will be an additional name or two that surfaces, Friday’s deadline for underclassmen to declare means Moss’ departure could be the last for LSU for the time being. Still, that’s a lot of talent to lose as Ed Orgeron embarks on an offseason full of changes right after reaching the top of the sport.

Travis Etienne skipping draft, will stay at Clemson for 2020

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It’s not often you get a shocking announcement for a player returning for his senior year but this might qualify.

In an announcement posted on Twitter Friday afternoon, Clemson’s star tailback Travis Etienne surprised pretty much everybody by saying he would skip the 2020 NFL Draft and remain on campus for his senior season.

Etienne was a Heisman Trophy candidate for much of 2019 and has been a key cog in the Tigers’ incredible record the past few years. He’s rushed for over 1,600 yards each of the past two seasons and continued to become a threat as a pass catcher out of the backfield as well.

While many expected the junior to turn pro and join a deep class of running backs, apparently the taste left in his mouth by Monday’s national title game was just the extra push he needed to stay on campus to aim for another championship.

Though Dabo Swinney has to deal with a handful of departures from the two-deep this offseason, the return of Etienne should only further cement Clemson as the preseason No. 1 team for 2020. The tailback and quarterback Trevor Lawrence both figure to be high draft picks the following spring but for now they will be aiming for another ring with a team that just won 29 games in a row.

Report: Ex-Houston QB D’Eriq King to visit Maryland after Miami trip

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Last year, everybody wanted to know where Jalen Hurts would transfer to. This year? D’Eriq King might take that mantle.

The Houston quarterback entered the NCAA Transfer Portal shortly before the national title game on Monday and is already moving on to lining up visits. One of the first stops on King’s transfer tour? We already know that a trip to Miami to check out the Hurricanes on the docket but that’s not all on a busy weekend. According to the Baltimore Sun, Maryland is on deck for the signal-caller this Saturday.

The Terps turning to a graduate transfer is nothing new. Head coach Mike Locksley brought in Josh Jackson to mixed success in 2019 after the latter left Virginia Tech. King, however, would represent a much more dynamic option behind center for the team.

King set numerous records with the Cougars and scored 50 touchdowns (36 passing and 14 rushing) in 2018 alone. The prolific numbers also came despite the fact that he missed two games due to a knee injury. While UH had long maintained that King’s surprising redshirt decision this past season was part of a plan that would see him return to the team for 2020, things have played out pretty much as expected in him looking elsewhere.

Whether he lands in College Park remains to be seen but it’s no surprise Locksley is dipping into the market. Tyrrell Pigrome is a senior but isn’t quite up to Big Ten passing standards and depth behind him is limited. That’s always an issue at Maryland given the injury history at the position too.

Landing somebody like King would be quite a coup for the Terps but it’s pretty clear they’ll be just one of several programs in hot pursuit of the Texas native’s services.

K’Lavon Chaisson makes it eight LSU underclassmen headed to the NFL

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Last one left in Baton Rouge, please turn out the lights.

In an announcement posted to social media on Friday morning, LSU linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson became the eighth underclassman off the Tigers’ national championship team to announce he was skipping his final year and declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft.

The move ensures that the Tigers will have to replace their entire starting linebacking corps from this past season following Patrick Queen’s earlier departure. That’s in addition to a host of other big names and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda as well.

Chaisson arrived in Baton Rouge as a top recruit from Texas but injuries over the years prevented him from becoming the kind of player many thought he would blossom into. Nevertheless, he had a memorable 2019 and was a terror down the stretch run with several big games — including being named Peach Bowl MVP in the semifinal against Oklahoma.

The 6-foot-4, 250 pounder was originally a defensive end but has been effective as a rusher after developing quite nicely as an outside linebacker. Though he really only had one lengthy season as a starter after an ACL tear as a sophomore, Chaisson is still considered a potential Day 1 or 2 pick in a few months time at the draft.

While head coach Ed Orgeron has to still be soaking up the glory of being the champions, the LSU head coach will have little time to waste over the coming weeks dealing with all these departures from both the coaching staff and the two-deep. Defections after winning a title are nothing new but Chaisson’s announcement only added to the difficulty the program will have in trying to make it back-to-back in 2020.