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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.

Virginia Tech confirms addition of Rutgers transfer RB Raheem Blackshear

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A talented new addition to the Virginia Tech football roster is officially official.

After playing in the first four games of the 2019 season at Rutgers, Raheem Blackshear, a team captain, opted to sideline himself for the remainder of the campaign in order to preserve a year of eligibility. Three months later, Blackshear indicated on Twitter that he has decided to leave RU and continue his playing career with the Virginia Tech football program.

Two weeks after that social media announcement, the Hokies confirmed via Twitter that the running back is signed, sealed and delivered.

In addition to Virginia Tech, Blackshear had also considered a transfer to Temple.  A return to Rutgers for the back was in play as well.

It’s expected that Blackshear, a redshirt sophomore, will seek a waiver that would allow him to play immediately for the Hokies in 2020. If that appeal is denied, he would be left with one season of eligibility he could use in 2021.

A three-star 2017 signee, Blackshear ran for 238 yards as a true freshman. The next season, he led the Scarlet Knights in rushing with 586 yards.

Blackshear could also be a significant asset in the Hokies’ passing game.

In addition to being the leading rusher in 2018, Blackshear also led the team in receptions (44), receiving yards (367) and receiving touchdowns (two). Despite playing in just four games this past season, he was second on the Scarlet Knights with 29 receptions (the leader, Bo Melton, ended up with 30) and 310 yards (Melton had 427). His two receiving touchdowns were tied with Melton for the team lead as well.

Mississippi State mourns passing of De’Runnya Wilson, 25, whose death is being investigated as a homicide

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The extended Mississippi State football family is morning the tragic loss of one of its own.

According to the Associated Press, De’Runnya Wilson was found unresponsive inside of a Birmingham, Ala., home Tuesday evening by a relative.  The 25-year-old was subsequently pronounced dead of unknown causes.

The Birmingham Police Department, however, is investigating Wilson’s death as a homicide.

Wilson was a Mississippi State football player from 2013-15. Coming to the Bulldogs as a three-star wide receiver, Wilson, who had one minor off-field incident during his time in Starkville, totaled 1,936 yards and 22 touchdowns on 132 receptions.  The touchdowns are second all-time at the school.  In 2015, Wilson set career-highs in catches (60), yards (918) and touchdowns (10).

Following that 2015 season, Wilson, who was also Mr. Basketball in the state of Alabama as a high school senior, left his remaining eligibility on the table and entered the 2016 NFL Draft.  Wilson went undrafted, and subsequently spent time on the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad.  He was also attached to the Arena Football League’s Albany franchise.

On Twitter Tuesday evening, the Mississippi State football program mourned Wilson’s passing.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family,” the school tweeted. “Thanks for the many memories you gave us, “Bear.”

Jeff Brohm adds Marty Biagi to Purdue coaching staff

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The Purdue Boilermakers football team is the latest to make an addition to its coaching staff.

Tuesday afternoon, Purdue confirmed the speculation that had surfaced over the past couple of days by announcing the hiring of Marty Biagi by Jeff Brohm.  Biagi will serve as the Boilermakers’ special teams coordinator.  According to the school, he’ll also hold an unspecified, as of yet, role as defensive assistant.

“Marty is one of the leading coaches and brightest minds in the area of special teams,” the Purdue Boilermakers football head coach said in a statement. “We are very excited to have him here.”

Biagi has spent the past three seasons as the special teams coordinator at North Texas.  Twice, the school noted in its release, Biagi was a finalist for the FootballScoop.com Special Teams Coordinator of the Year.

From the school’s release:

The Mean Green scored six special teams touchdowns, blocked nine punts, four kicks and had 10 players recognized with All-Conference USA accolades during Biagi’s tenure. North Texas won nine games in both 2017 and 2018, appearing in the New Orleans Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl, respectively.

Biagi’s special teams unit at UNT finished in the top 20 in the Football Bowl Division in blocked kicks/punts all three seasons in Denton, tying for 11th in 2017 (4), for 19th in 2018 (3) and for sixth in 2019 (4).

One of those six special teams touchdowns came in a 2018 upset of Arkansas on a wild trick play during a punt return.

Prior to his time in Denton, Biagi was a special teams analyst at Notre Dame.  He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Arkansas.

UNLV hires Stanford assistant Peter Hansen as DC

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Thanks to the Stanford Cardinal football team, Marcus Arroyo is closing in on filling out his first UNLV coaching staff.

Tuesday, UNLV announced the hiring of Peter Hansen as Arroyo’s defensive coordinator.  The longtime Bay-area coach will also be responsible for the Rebels’ inside linebackers.

Hansen served two different stints as part of the Stanford Cardinal football program over the past decade-plus.

In 2008, Hansen was part of the strength & conditioning staff.  From 2009-10, he was a defensive assistant.  After a stint in the NFL, Hansen returned to the Cardinal in 2013.  The past seven seasons, he was Stanford’s inside linebackers coach.

In between the two Farm stops, Hansen was a defensive assistant for the San Francisco 49ers.  He worked with both inside and outside linebackers during his two years with the NFL club.

Hansen, who played his college football and basketball at Arizona, was born in Palo Alto and began his coaching career at a high school in the city.  This will mark the assistant’s first coaching job outside of the Bay area.

Hansen and the rest of the Rebels defensive staff will have their work cut out for them.  At least, based on the campaign they will.

This past season, UNLV was dead last in the Mountain West Conference and 108th nationally as they gave up up 33 points per game.  In total defense, they were 13th in the conference and 105th in the country as they allowed 442.3 yards per game.  In passing defense, they were 13th and 104th.

With the Hansen hiring, Arroyo now has eight of his 10 on-field assistants in place.  The others already on the staff are:

  • Danny Langsdorf, quarterbacks coach/passing-game coordinator
  • Cameron Norcross, offensive line/running-game coordinator
  • Scott Baumgartner, running backs
  • Jordan Paopao, tight ends/special teams coordinator
  • Kenwick Thompson, linebackers
  • Damon Magazu, safeties
  • Tre Watson, cornerbacks