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No. 9 OU wins another nail biter, clinches 11th Big 12 Championship trip for its troubles

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It all started so easy for No. 9 Oklahoma. The Sooners scored on their first three possessions, moving 52, 65 and 81 yards to do so. Jalen Hurts kept from seven yards out for OU’s first score, found Brayden Willis from 20 yards out for their second, and then hit CeeDee Lamb from five for the third. That last touchdown gave Oklahoma a 52-3 run dating back to the second quarter of last week’s Baylor comeback.

And then the Sooners did the best they could to give it away.

It started when Max Duggan, who’d led TCU to all of minus-3 yards of total offense to that point, darted through the Sooner defense for a 62-yard run, taking the ball from his own 32-yard line to OU’s 6. Sewo Olonilua plunged in from 1-yard out two plays later to put the Frogs on the board. Then, a team that has struggled to hold on to the ball saw those struggles continue for another week when Sooner receiver Jadon Haselwood coughed up a fumble at the TCU 45, sparking a 48-yard Frogs drive that resulted in a 24-yard Jonathan Song field goal.

The score remained 21-10 at the half when Lincoln Riley elected to go for a 4th-and-3 at the TCU 42 to open the second half, but Garrett Wallow blew that decision up by corralling Hurts for a loss of nine. Taking over at the OU 49, Duggan led another scoring drive, hitting Darius Anderson for 15 yards, running for seven and then running for an 11-yard score, pulling the Frogs within 21-17 at the 10:15 mark of the third quarter.

Having been shutout on four straight drives, Oklahoma turned to the ground game, running six straight plays for 66 yards, as Hurts’ 8-yard touchdown stopped the bleeding. Momentarily.

After at TCU punt, Oklahoma moved from its own 8 to the TCU 7 — 85 yards, almost exclusively on the ground — but gave that yardage up and then some when Hurts threw for Lamb on 3rd-and-5 but instead hit TCU’s Vernon Scott, who picked up a convoy of Frogs and raced the ball 98 yards for a touchdown, turning a potential 35-17 game to 28-24 with 12:43 to play.

Oklahoma then took the ball, re-committed to the run game and again moved to the TCU 7 as Hurts charged 32 yards, but TCU’s Nook Bradford simply ripped the ball from Hurts’ arm in a play that has to be seen to be believed.

Given the chance to take the lead, TCU did nothing with it — the Frogs went three-and-out and punted on 4th-and-10.

But that just led to another Oklahoma turnover, this one on downs. On a 4th-and-1 from TCU’s 41, Rhamondre Stevenson charged forward but was stuffed for no gain, and TCU took over with a chance to take the lead and 3:16 to do it.

Duggan overshot Jalen Reagor on 1st-and-10, but the Frogs drew a pass interference flag for their trouble, moving them into Sooner territory. They went no further. Duggan threw incomplete on 3rd-and-6 from the OU 40, then threw late and was intercepted by Brendan Radley-Hiles with 1:41 to play.

The offense expired the remaining 101 seconds — though not without a controversial review that gave Hurts a first down on a 3rd-and-1 carry — and a Sooner team that, as the past four weeks have shown us, can not be put away or put anyone else away escaped with a 28-24 win.

Oklahoma (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) has now clinched a rematch with No. 14 Baylor in the Big 12 Championship, the program’s 11th trip all time and third straight since the game was revived in 2017. The Sooners have actually reached the last four title games, dating back to 2010. While Baylor will make its maiden voyage to the title game, OU is 9-1 in such games.

TCU, meanwhile, will need to beat West Virginia on Friday to avoid missing a bowl game for just the third time in 19 seasons under Gary Patterson. Duggan completed only 7-of-21 passes for 65 yards and an interception, but he led the Frogs on the ground with 92 yards on 12 carries.

Though their national-best 20-game streak of at least 30 points came to an end, the Sooners still rolled up OU-type numbers, as Hurts threw for 145 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 173 and two, though he committed one turnover in the air and on the ground. Kennedy Brooks also rushed 25 times for 149 yards.

Jerry Jeudy, AJ Dillon, Eno Benjamin and more set for State Farm All-Star Football Challenge

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It may fly under the radar for most, but the 22nd annual State Farm All-Star Football Challenge is set to take place on Jan. 31 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The skills competition will pit 24 college football stars in a team event. Among those participating in this year’s challenge will be Boston College running back AJ Dillon, Penn State defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray, and Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.

Five teams representing each of the power five conferences will consist of players from those respective conferences: ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC. A sixth team of “wild card” players will be comprised of players from the Group of Five or below. This year’s wild card players will come from the Mountain West Conference (Utah State QB Jordan Love, Boise State DE Curtis Weaver), Conference USA (FAU TE Harrison Bryant) and the South Atlantic Conference of Division 2 (Lenoir-Rhyne S Kyle Dugger).

The individual events included in the competition are a quarterback accuracy contest, obstacle course, strength challenge, and a hands competition. A team event will complete the overall event.

TEAM ACC
Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College
Bryce Perkins, QB, Virginia
Jason Strowbridge, DL, North Carolina

TEAM BIG TEN
Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State
KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State
Nate Stanley, QB, Iowa

TEAM BIG 12
Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU
Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
Carter Stanley, QB, Kansas

TEAM PAC-12
Salvon Ahmed, RB, Washington
Bradlee Anae, DE, Utah
Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State
Anthony Gordon, QB, Washington State

TEAM SEC
Nick Coe, DE, Auburn
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Terrell Lewis, LB, Alabama
Riley Neal, QB, Vanderbilt

TEAM WILD CARD
Harrison Bryant, TE, Florida Atlantic
Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne
Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State

TE Jordan Wilson to transfer from UCLA

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UCLA redshirt junior Jordan Wilson has announced he is leaving the Bruins. In a post on his Twitter account on Friday afternoon, Wilson announced he is entering the transfer portal with the intent of finishing up his collegiate career with some other program.

“[I’d] like to announce that I will be entering the transfer portal, graduating at the end of the Spring quarter, and playing my final year of eligibility somewhere else,” Wilson announced in a statement on his Twitter account.

The decision of Wilson to leave UCLA comes at an unfortunate time for the Bruins. Wilson was likely to be a starter at tight end for UCLA in the fall. Wilson is the third tight end to leave UCLA this offseason. Devin Asiasi previously made the decision to declare for the NFL draft a year early. Matt Lynch also stepped into the transfer portal. Now, UCLA has a wide-open competition for playing time at the tight end spot beginning this spring.

Wilson caught seven passes for 72 yards for UCLA in 2019. He will leave UCLA having caught 25 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns in the past three seasons. As a graduate transfer, Wilson will be eligible to play his final year of eligibility anywhere he ends up this fall.

USC nabs Todd Orlando from Texas Tech

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USC has a new defensive coordinator. The Trojans announced on Friday the school has officially hired Todd Orlando to fill the role of defensive coordinator. Orlando joins USC after coaching the past three seasons at Texas.

Orlando actually joined the Texas Tech program after being let go by Texas following staff changes with the Longhorns. Despite landing a job with the Red Raiders, Orlando remained a top target for USC head coach Clay Helton.

“We are excited to have Todd join our Trojan football program,” Helton said in a released statement. “He is an experienced and successful defensive coordinator who has made an impact everywhere he has coached. He brings a passion, energy, toughness and discipline to his coaching and those characteristics were evident in our discussions. His defensive system poses an extreme challenge to offenses.”

Orlando replaces Clancy Pendergast, who was let go by Helton amid USC’s own staff changes after a down 2019 season. As previously mentioned (HERE), Orlando actually had worse defensive numbers compared to what Pendergast coached with USC last season. However, a contrast of playing styles and offensive outputs between the schedule Texas faced in 2019 (including games against LSU and Oklahoma) and what USC faced could lead to some skewed figures.

Orlando’s first test as a defensive coordinator will be a monster. USC opens the 2020 season in Arlington, Texas against Alabama.

Cal loses assistant Gerald Alexander to NFL job

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Cal assistant coach Gerald Alexander is leaving to coach with the Miami Dolphins. Alexander confirmed in a message posted on his Twitter account he is heading to the NFL for a coaching opportunity. Multiple reports have confirmed it will be with the Miami Dolphins.

Alexander thanked Cal head coach Justin Wilcox for the opportunity to be a part of Wilcox’s first coaching staff at Cal.

Alexander joined the Cal program in 2017 and spent the past three seasons as a defensive backs coach for the program. He has played a role in helping to coach one of the better defensive teams in the Pac-12. He previously coached at Montana State, Indiana State and with Chris Peterssen at Washington. Alexander played for Petersen at Boise State.

This will mark a return to the NFL for Alexander. He previously played in the league for five seasons with the Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, and, appropriately enough, the Miami Dolphins. Alexander was a second-round draft pick of Detroit in 2007.