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WVU QB Grier, TCU DE Banogu headline Preseason All-Big 12 team

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The puffs of white smoke continue to fly out the chimney, and we got a big one on Wednesday with the first unveiling of a conference’s Preseason All-Big 12 team. It’s just a preseason team, yes, but it’s actual football talk about the actual season that’s actually about to happen…. in seven more weeks.

West Virginia quarterback Will Grier earned Preseason Offensive Player of the Year honors and TCU defensive end Ben Banogu garnered Defensive Player of the Year accolades. Grier is easily the pass-happy conference’s leading returning passer; his 3,490 yards from 2017 place him more than 1,500 yards ahead of the pass-happy conference’s second-leading returning passer in Texas’s Sam Ehlinger (1,915 yards). Banogu leads all returning pass rushers with 8.5 sacks in 2017.

Oklahoma defensive back Brendan Radley-Hiles, a freshman from Inglewood, Calif., by way of IMG Academy, earned Newcomer of the Year honors. Radley-Hiles was the 38th-rated player in the 247Sports Composite rankings for the 2018 class; for what it’s worth, three Big 12 signees ranked higher in Texas safeties Caden Sterns and B.J. Foster and Oklahoma offensive tackle Brey Walker.

The 3-time defending Big 12 champion Sooners placed five players on the Preseason All-Big 12 offense and none on the defensive side. Texas Tech did not have a single player placed on the offense but put three players on defense.

Here’s how the full teams break out.

OFFENSE
QB Will Grier, West Virginia
RB David Montgomery, Iowa State
RB Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma
RB Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
WR Denzel Mims, Baylor
WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
WR David Sills V, West Virginia
TE Grant Calcaterra, Oklahoma
OL Dalton Risner, Kansas State
OL Bobby Evans, Oklahoma
OL Ben Powers, Oklahoma
OL Marcus Keyes, Oklahoma State
OL Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia

DEFENSE
DL JaQuan Bailey, Iowa State
DL Daniel Wise, Kansas
DL Jordan Brailford, Oklahoma State
DL Ben Banogu, TCU
DL Breckyn Hager, Texas
LB Joe Dineen, Jr., Kansas
LB Dakota Allen, Texas Tech
LB David Long, Jr., West Virginia
DB Brian Peavy, Iowa State
DB Kendall Adams, Kansas State
DB Kris Boyd, Texas
DB Jah’Shawn Johnson, Texas Tech
DB Justus Parker, Texas Tech

SPECIALISTS
P Austin Seibert, Oklahoma
PK Austin Siebert, Oklahoma
PR/KR KaVontae Turpin, TCU

No. 3 Oklahoma looks playoff-ready after shutting down No. 11 TCU in Big 12 championship

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Whoever is up next for the No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners (12-1), they have their work cut out for them. After slamming the door shut on No. 11 TCU (10-3) in the revived Big 12 championship game on Saturday afternoon, Baker Mayfield and the Sooners should be rolling into the College Football Playoff, and they look as strong as any potential playoff participant may be going in.

Oklahoma’s 41-17 victory over the Horned Frogs was fueled by a fast start in the first quarter and pure dominance in the second half. Mayfield put a cherry on top of his Heisman Trophy campaign with four touchdowns, 243 yards and 65 rushing yards against TCU to lead Oklahoma to the Big 12 championship, the first for Lincoln Riley as a head coach. Rodney Anderson led the ground game with 93 rushing yards on 24 carries and Marquise Brown and Mykel Jones played key roles in the receiving game,. Tight end Mark Andrews was reliable in the red zone as well with a pair of touchdown receptions.

Oklahoma’s defense was the key in the second half, however. TCU was forced to punt four times and had one turnover on downs. Kenny Kill was also picked off in the second half as the Oklahoma defense pitched a shutout after halftime. Hill passed for 234 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a team-high 51 yards in the loss.

Oklahoma will now wait to see what seed they will have in the College Football Playoff. Entering the week No. 3 in the eyes of the selection committee, the Sooners could potentially have made a loud enough statement to be considered for the No. 1 seed, depending on the results in the SEC, ACC, and Big Ten championship games. Regardless of the seeding, it would be highly unlikely for the Sooners to fall out of the top four after a blowout victory in the Big 12 championship game. So Oklahoma fans can start scouting hotels in Pasadena and New Orleans to get prepared for all of their options.

TCU could still manage to get into a New Years Six bowl game, but a 24-point loss for the third loss of the season puts TCU in a tough spot considering some of the other options in play for the New Years Six lineup. For TCU, the Big 12 championship game could hurt their chances of going to a New Years Six bowl game.

No. 5 Oklahoma moves in position for another Big 12 title after taking Bedlam

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In games where seemingly every other play ends in a touchdown, it’s the plays that take points off the board that matter most. Oklahoma benefitted from of those than Oklahoma State, and the fifth-ranked Sooners outlasted the 11th-ranked Cowboys for a 62-52 win in the highest-scoring Bedlam game ever.

The first of those plays came on the Pokes’ first snap of the game. After A.J. Green intercepted Mayfield on the opening drive of the game, Justice Hill momentarily raced in for a 28-yard touchdown but James Washington was called for holding, and the Oklahoma State drive ended in three points instead of seven.

The sides traded punts on their next possession, and then the track meet began. Oklahoma scored touchdowns on five straight possessions — covering 389 yards over 27 plays — to control most of the first half, but Oklahoma State went on a 4-touchdown streak of its own — moving 300 yards on the nose in 24 plays — to pull within 38-38 at halftime. Oklahoma could have had six straight touchdown drives, but its final possession of the half ended in a field goal after Mayfield was stuffed on a third-and-goal rush from the 1-yard line.

Austin Seibert‘s second field goal put Oklahoma up 41-38 with 4:47 to play in the third quarter, but the Cowboys moved in position to take their first lead since 10-7 in the first quarter when the second of those plays occurred. This time Mason Rudolph was intercepted by Will Johnson on a back-of-his-foot heave into double coverage on 1st-and-goal from the three — all things considered, it will go down as by far the worst pass Rudolph will ever throw in an Oklahoma State uniform — to give OU a third quarter shutout.

Oklahoma took advantage of the opportunity and took advantage quickly, moving 80 yards in just three plays as Rodney Anderson‘s second rushing touchdown gave the Sooners a 48-38 lead entering the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys’ offense got back on track in the third quarter, putting together 150 yards’ worth of touchdown drives in 16 plays, and its defense made another play on Mayfield on the same goal line as Chad Whitener hauled in an interception and returned it to the 35-yard line, giving Oklahoma State the ball back with a 55-52 deficit with 2:59 to play. The Cowboys moved into Oklahoma territory, but Ogbonnia Okoronkwo sacked Rudolph for a loss of 10 yards, and a pass from Rudolph to Hill bounced off Hill’s face mask and into the arms of  Oklahoma’s Tre Brown. However, a targeting foul on Johnson overturned the interception and gave OSU the ball back with a 1st-and-10 at the Sooners’ 40. However, Oklahoma State gained only two yards on its first three plays and Rudolph’s fourth-and-8 deep ball with a minute to play was overthrown. 

Trey Sermon added the capper with a 53-yard burst with 42 seconds to play.

Mayfield finished the day hitting 24-of-36 passes for a school-record 598 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions (plus a 7-yard rushing touchdown). Marquise Brown was his favorite target, hauling in nine grabs for 265 yards and two touchdowns. Sermon and Anderson combined to rush 31 times for 192 yards and two scores, giving the Sooners 785 yards of total offense and 30 first downs on 76 plays (10.32 per play).

Hill led all rushers with 220 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries, while Rudolph hit 28-of-54 throws for 448 yards with five scores against two picks. Washington left the game early due to injury but still hauled in seven grabs for 128 yards and a score.

The win gave Oklahoma (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) three straight victories over its in-state rival, five out of six, 13 out of 15 and 87 wins in 112 all-time meetings. Thanks to Iowa State’s loss to West Virginia earlier of the day, the Sooners regained control of their Big 12 and College Football Playoff destiny ahead of next Saturday’s visit from No. 8 TCU. Oklahoma State (7-2, 4-2 Big 12) would need to benefit from the combination of chaos and tiebreakers to force a rematch at AT&T Stadium in December.

Bedlam a shootout at the OK (State) Corral through one half

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Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are knotted at 38-38 in what’s shaping up to be a classic Big 12 shootout at the half in Stillwater.

As always in games such as these, perhaps the key play of the game came on a play that took a score off the board. After A.J. Green intercepted Baker Mayfield on the opening drive of the game, Justice Hill appeared to race in for a 28-yard touchdown on Oklahoma State’s first play, but James Washington was called for holding and the Cowboys were forced to settle for a 29-yard Matt Ammendola field goal.

That opening was all the Sooners needed to claim a lead for most of the half. The Sooners went three-and-out on their next possession and then scored touchdowns on their next five touches. Each of the drives covered at least 71 yards and none needed more than nine plays, highlighted by a 1-play drive that consisted of an 84-yard snatch-and-dash connection from Mayfield to Marquise Brown. The Sooners appeared primed for a sixth straight touchdown drive just before the half, moving 75 yards to the OSU 1. But the Oklahoma State defense stiffened and corralled Mayfield on a third down rush, forcing a 20-yard Austin Seibert chip shot with 1:18 left before the break.

That stop allowed Oklahoma State to add the equalizer as Hill raced in from 30 yards out on a 3rd-and-6 play with 33 seconds left before the break.

As the score indicates, Oklahoma State has also gotten what it wanted offensively. The Cowboys put together four 75-yard touchdown drives, three of them needing between four and six plays. James Washington caught a 35-yard touchdown pass, Marcell Ateman snared two touchdowns covering three yards combined, and Hill added a 6-yard rush. Mason Rudolph hit 13-of-24 passes for 258 yards with those three scores and no interceptions, and Hill led all runners with 132 yards and two scores on 16 carries.

Mayfield finished the half with a good game’s worth of numbers: 17-of-25 passing for 387 yards and three touchdowns (with one interception) and a 7-yard touchdown rush. Rodney Anderson led OU with 51 yards and a touchdown on eight carries, and Brown caught seven passes for 178 yards and a touchdown.

As a team, Oklahoma State ran 41 plays for 391 yards of total offense, good for 9.54 yards per play, while OU bettered that number by compiling 466 yards on 43 plays, or 10.84 a pop. The FBS record for combined yards of total offense in a game is 1,708, set in last year’s 66-59 Oklahoma win over Texas Tech last season. The clubs are on pace for 1,714.

Oklahoma State will receive to open the second half.

Oklahoma opens up early lead, but Texas hanging around

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Oklahoma appeared on its way to another Red River rout, but Texas fought back to make a game of it. The Sooners lead 20-10 at the break.

Baker Mayfield has absolutely dazzled so far in his Red River finale, hitting nine of his fist 10 throws. After forcing a punt to open the game, Trey Sermon ran for 31 yards on three carries to open the Sooners’ first drive, and then Mayfield found Jeff Badet over the top for a perfectly-placed 54-yard touchdown strike.

Oklahoma’s defense, which couldn’t stop a cold against Baylor and Iowa State, forced two straight three-and-outs on the Longhorns’ next two drives, and Oklahoma capitalized with a field goal and another touchdown, a 15-yard Rodney Anderson dash. Anderson carried seven times for 35 yards in the half, while Sermon led all rushers with 46 yards on eight carries.

After Texas turned the ball over on downs near midfield, Sermon put the Sooners in business with a 42-yard pass to Marquise Brown, but the drive ended in Austin Seibert‘s second field goal of the half.

Kyle Porter finally got the Longhorns on the board with a 41-yard kickoff return (with a 15-yard late hit added on) and then a 16-yard screen reception, cutting the lead to 20-7 with 3:23 left in the half. Playing without three opening day starters on the offensive line, Sam Ehlinger spent most of the first half under duress. He completed 10-of-19 passes for 113 yards and Texas’s ground efforts with eight carries for 13 yards.

The Sooners appeared primed to push the lead back to 20 after rushes of 16 and 21 yards by Mayfield and Anderson to open the following drive, but John Bonney intercepted Mayfield (his first in 202 throws) on 4th-and-3 at the Texas 31-yard line with 1:07 left. Mayfield closed the half 11-of-16 for 197 yards with a score and a pick.

Texas converted the turnover into a 34-yard Joshua Rowland field goal as time expired.

Oklahoma will receive to open the second half.