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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.

Big 12 to allow teams to play 1 non-conference football game

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Two people involved with the decision say the Big 12 will permit its teams to play one nonconference football game this year to go along with their nine league contests as plans for the pandemic-altered season continued to fall into place.

The people spoke Monday night to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the conference was still preparing an official announcement.

The Big 12 university presidents signed off on the conference’s scheduling model, which gives schools the ability to play one nonconference game at home. The conference’s championship game is scheduled for Dec. 5, but one of the people told AP that the conference is leaving open the possibility of bumping it back a week or two.

The 10-team Big 12 already plays a nine-game, round-robin conference schedule. Unlike other Power Five conference that have switched to either exclusively (Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC) or mostly (ACC) league games this season, the Big 12 could not add more conference games without teams playing each other more than once.

Several Big 12 teams have already started preseason practice, with Kansas and Oklahoma slated to play FCS teams on Aug. 29.

As conferences take steps toward a football season that seems to be in precarious shape, the NCAA is expected to weigh in Tuesday on fall sports other than major-college football.

The association’s Board of Governors is scheduled to meet and whether to cancel or postpone NCAA championship events in fall sports such as soccer, volleyball and lower-division football is expected to be a topic.

Only the Pac-12 has a full football schedule with matchups and dates in place among Power Five conferences. The Pac-12 will begin Sept. 26, along with the Southeastern Conference, which is still working on its new 10-game slate.

The Atlantic Coast Conference has opponents set for its 10-game conference schedule and will start the weekend of Sept. 12, but no specific game dates. The ACC has also said it will permit its teams to play one nonconference game.

The Big Ten, first to announce intentions to go conference-only this season, has yet to release a new schedule, but that could come later this week.

Now that the Power Five has declared its intentions the Group of Five conferences can start making plans and filling holes on their schedules.

American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco has said the AAC could stick with its eight-game conference schedule and let its members plays as many of their four nonconference games as they can salvage or replace.

The Mountain West, Conference USA, Mid-American and Sun Belt conferences are likely to take similar approach.

Early Monday, Texas State from the Sun Belt announced it was moving a nonconference game against SMU up from Sept. 5 to Aug. 29.

Good morning and, in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening and good night! CFT, out…

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CFT is no more. At least, when it comes to NBC Sports.

The first of last month, I — this is John Taylor (pictured, catching the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XXIII) — began my 12th year with CFT and NBC Sports. This morning, I was informed that my position was being eliminated and I would not be completing that 12th year. Which, of course, meant I wouldn’t be eligible for the traditional 13th-anniversary gift of lace. Which really bummed me out. Because I really like lace.

The jarring phone call was both a slap in the face and a relief. Jarring because, well, it was completely unexpected. Out of the blue, even amidst the pandemic that is wreaking absolute and utter havoc across the country. A relief, on the other hand, because, every single day for the past four months, I woke up wondering if this would be the day I get that call.

Would this be the day? Would this be the day? A question played on an endless loop that just f***s with you mentally, emotionally, physically.

That’s no way to live.

Then again, being job-less is no way to live, either. But, here we are.

So many people I want to thank. First and foremost, Mike Florio and Larry Mazza. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Especially Mr. Mazza on the food front. Hopefully, lunch at Oliverio’s — best damn stuffed shells I have EVER had — can still be a thing, Larry.

And so many people that have worked for me. Not to single anyone out, but I’m going to single one out in Ben Kercheval. Ben, non-biological son of Hoppy, you were and continue to be the man. I appreciate you more than you know.  Rasheed Wallace may indeed be your biological father, but I will forever consider you my illegitimate Internet stepson.

Mike Miller is the best boss anyone could ever ask for.  Hire that man.  You can thank me later.

Kevin McGuire, Zach Barnett, Bryan Fischer, I will always treasure what we did, together, these last few years. Things were on the uptick, and it’s sad that we won’t be able to see it through. Together.  We should’ve — SHOULD’VE SHOULD’VE SHOULD’VE — been given that opportunity.  And it will forever piss me off that we weren’t.

Brent and Chris and JJ, much love to you all as well.

Shortly after I received the job call of death, I called my dad. Told him what was going on in his son’s life.  After I hung up the phone, he sent me a GIF in a text message a few minutes later.  I’ll link it here to end whatever this is, because it’s appropriate.  And old school.

And, well… bye.

via GIPHY

2018 FCS All-American RB commits to Virginia

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Virginia joined South Carolina over the weekend as Power Five football schools realizing a personnel benefit from a lower-level program’s loss.

Two weeks ago, the Colonial Athletic Association announced that it was canceling its 2020 college football season because of the coronavirus pandemic.  One member of that FCS conference is Towson.  Coincidentally or not, one standout member of the Tigers, Shane Simpson, took to Twitter last week to announce that he has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.

On that same social media service Sunday, the running back confirmed that he has committed to the Virginia football team.  Simpson had his transfer to-do list down to Virginia and Texas.

As Simpson was a fifth-year senior in 2019, it appears he has been granted a sixth season of eligibility.  Or, is fairly confident he will receive one.

Simpson would likely be eligible for that sixth season as he missed all but four games of his true freshman season in 2015 because of injury, then missed all but the first three games last season because of a serious knee injury.

In 2018, Simpson earned first-team All-American honors.  He finished second in all of FCS with 171.5 all-purpose yards per game, totaling 2,058 yards on the season.  That same season, the Pennsylvania product was the CAA’s Special Teams Player of the Year and earned three different all-conference honors: first-team at running back, second-team as a kick returner and third-team as a punt returner.

Simpson would be eligible to play immediately in 2020 at the FBS level.

South Carolina pulls in transfer WR from Tarleton State

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South Carolina is the latest football program to benefit from a lower level of the sport opting out of football this fall.

In the middle of last month, the Western Athletic Conference — yes, the WAC — announced that it is delaying the start of fall sports, including football, because of the coronavirus pandemic.  Tarleton State was set to enter its first season in the FCS conference after moving up from Div. II.

One member of the Texans won’t get to realize that monumental move, though, as Jalen Brooks announced on Twitter over the weekend that he will be transferring into the South Carolina football program.

“God is undefeated,” Brooks wrote. “I would not be able to make this commitment without God, my family, my coaches, my teammates, the people I work out with, and the work that I put into everything.”

Interestingly, 247Sports.com wrote that “Brooks visited the campus in Columbia with his former high school coach, Jason Seidel, serving as his tour guide.” In late June, the NCAA once again extended its ban on in-person recruiting through the end of August.  It’s assumed that the South Carolina football program wasn’t involved in that on-campus visit.

At this point, it’s unclear if the wide receiver will be eligible to play for the Gamecocks this season. If he is, he’d have three years to use two seasons of eligibility.  If not, he’d use his redshirt in 2020, then have two years starting in 2021.

Brooks actually began his collegiate career at Div. II Wingate University in North Carolina.  In January of this year, the receiver transferred to Tarleton State.

In two seasons with the Bulldogs, Brooks totaled 998 yards and nine touchdowns on 50 receptions.