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Offenses coming alive in Liberty Bowl as Mizzou leads Oklahoma State at halftime

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It took a little bit of time to warm up, but the offenses of Missouri and Oklahoma State reached halftime finally clicking. After a slow start to the game, Missouri leads Oklahoma State 16-14 at halftime in Memphis as the old Big 12 foes are reunited.

Oklahoma State opened the scoring in the first quarter with Dillon Stoner hauling in a 30-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Cornelius. The Tigers responded with a 24-yard field goal by Tucker McCann.

Missouri took their first lead of the game midway through the second quarter when Drew Lock finished off a 16-play drive with a touchdown pass to Dominic Gicinto for five yards. The drive started at the Missouri three-yard line after Oklahoma State downed a punt deep on that end of the field after having the ball at the Missouri 38-yard line.

Oklahoma State responded, however, with a touchdown drive of their own as the offenses for both teams really felt like they were getting in a rhythm. Taylor Cornelius juked under pressure for a key 12-yard gain and followed that with a touchdown pass to Tyron Johnson, which needed to be upheld by video review. Undeterred, Lock and the Mizzou offense went right back to work to drive down the field in short order and re-take the lead. A touchdown pass to Kendall Blanton from 16 yards gave the Tigers the 16-14 lead but a missed extra point attempt by McCann kept the lead at two points.

We’ll see if that comes back to haunt Missouri in the second half.

Kyler Murray leads AP All-American team; Tagovailoa named to second team

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Associated Press Player of the Year and Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray of Oklahoma was named First-Team All-American by the AP on Monday. Murray was one of 10 players from a College Football Playoff team named an All-American player by the AP, including Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and wide receiver Jerry Jeudy and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, Clemson defensive linemen Clelin Ferrell and Christian Wilkins, and Notre Dame cornerback Julian Love.

Alabama led all teams with six players named to either the first, second or third team All-American rosters by the AP, four of which being named to the first team to also lead all schools. Clemson and Oklahoma each landed four All-Americans and Oklahoma had two players named to an All-American team by the AP.

Below is the full list of first, second and third All-American teams released by the AP for the 2018 season:

FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Kyler Murray, junior, Oklahoma

Running backs — Jonathan Taylor, sophomore, Wisconsin; Darrell Henderson, junior, Memphis

Tackles — Jonah Williams, junior, Alabama; Mitch Hyatt, senior, Clemson

Guards — Beau Benzschawel, senior, Wisconsin; Bunchy Stallings, senior, Kentucky

Center — Garrett Bradbury, senior, North Carolina State

Tight end — Jace Sternberger, junior, Texas A&M

Wide receivers — Jerry Jeudy, sophomore, Alabama; Marquise Brown, junior, Oklahoma

All-purpose player — Rondale Moore, freshman, Purdue

Kicker — Andre Szmyt, freshman, Syracuse

DEFENSE

Ends — Clelin Ferrell, junior, Clemson; Sutton Smith, junior, Northern Illinois

Tackles — Quinnen Williams, junior, Alabama; Christian Wilkins, senior, Clemson

Linebackers — Josh Allen, senior, Kentucky; Devin White, junior, LSU; Ben Burr-Kirven, senior, Washington

Cornerbacks — Deandre Baker, senior, Georgia; Julian Love, junior, Notre Dame

Safeties — Grant Delpit, sophomore, LSU; Deionte Thompson, junior, Alabama

Punter — Braden Mann, junior, Texas A&M

SECOND TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Tua Tagovailoa, sophomore, Alabama

Running backs — Travis Etienne, sophomore, Clemson; Trayveon Williams, junior, Texas A&M

Tackles — Dalton Risner, senior, Kansas State; Andrew Thomas, sophomore, Georgia

Guards — Dru Samia, senior, Oklahoma; Michael Dieter, senior, Wisconsin

Center — Ross Pierschbacher, senior, Alabama

Tight end — T.J, Hockenson, sophomore, Iowa

Wide receivers — Tylan Wallace, sophomore, Oklahoma State; Andy Isabella, senior, Massachusetts

All-purpose player — Greg Dortch, sophomore, Wake Forest

Kicker — Cole Tracy, senior, LSU

DEFENSE

Ends — Montez Sweat, senior, Mississippi State; Jachai Polite, junior, Florida

Tackles — Jerry Tillery, senior, Notre Dame; Gerald Willis III, senior, Miami

Linebackers — Devin Bush, junior, Michigan; David Long Jr., junior, West Virginia; Joe Dineen, senior, Kansas

Cornerbacks — Greedy Williams, sophomore, LSU; Byron Murphy, sophomore, Washington

Safeties — Taylor Rapp, junior, Washington; Amani Hooker, junior, Iowa

Punter — Mitch Wishnowsky, senior, Utah

THIRD TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks — Dwayne Haskins, sophomore, Ohio State

Running backs — Benny Snell, junior, Kentucky; Eno Benjamin, sophomore, Arizona State

Tackles — Andre Dillard, senior, Washington State; Cody Ford, junior, Oklahoma

Guards — Terrone Prescod, senior, North Carolina State; Chris Lindstrom, senior, Boston College

Center — Michael Jordan, junior, Ohio State

Tight end — Noah Fant, junior, Iowa

Wide Receivers — A.J. Brown, junior, Mississippi; David Sills V, senior, West Virginia

All-purpose player — J.J. Taylor, sophomore, Arizona

Kicker — Matt Gay, senior, Utah

DEFENSE

Ends — Chase Winovich, senior, Michigan; Jaylon Ferguson, senior, Louisiana Tech

Tackles — Jeffery Simmons, junior, Mississippi State; Ed Oliver, junior, Houston

Linebackers — Paddy Fisher, sophomore, Northwestern; David Woodward, sophomore, Utah State; Te’Von Coney, senior, Notre Dame

Cornerbacks — Hamp Cheevers, junior, Boston College; Lavert Hill, junior, Michigan

Safeties — Andre Cisco, freshman, Syracuse; Jonathan Abram, senior, Mississippi State

Punter — Jason Smith, sophomore, Cincinnati

Egg Brawl in the Egg Bowl: No. 18 Mississippi State thumps rival Ole Miss in victory

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A year ago in the Egg Bowl, Nick Fitzgerald sat on a stretcher after an awful ankle injury and watched his team struggle offensively against their in-state rivals in a devastating loss. A season later and fully healthy, the senior quarterback showed just what kind of impact he can have over a full game as his No. 18 Mississippi State squad thumped — literally and figuratively it turns out — Ole Miss 35-3 on Thanksgiving night in Oxford.

Fitzgerald showcased just why he was one of the top dual-threat signal-callers in the country coming into 2018, throwing for an efficient 111 yards and a touchdown while doing most of his damage on the ground with 117 yards rushing and two more scores. His ability to tuck and run kept the Landshark defense guessing all night long and helped the tailback tandem in the backfield with him do plenty of damage of their own. Fellow senior Aeris Williams recorded 64 yards rushing and a score while back of the future Kylin Hill was even better, breaking off several impressive runs on his way to 108 yards and a touchdown.

While the MSU offense has sputtered at times this season, safe to say Joe Moorhead’s group saved one of their better performances for the end of the regular season even if the final numbers were not quite eye-popping.

Even with that said though, the Bulldogs defense also showcased why they’re one of the best units in the SEC, if not the nation. They held Ole Miss to zero third down conversions on the night and held them well below just about every season average. Add in four sacks and a trio of turnovers and it was quite the performance in front of a national audience.

The same group also was involved in one of the most bizarre moments of the game — and one that figures to be discussed in the state for weeks and years to come — when it had appeared as though Rebels wideout A.J. Brown had scored a touchdown. Safety Johnathan Abram got into a fight with him after scoring though and that spilled over into several minor skirmishes before referees and coaches were able to break things up. Every single player on both sides was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty while Ole Miss’ C.J. Moore was ejected from the game along with Bulldogs Jamal Peters, Cameron Dantzler and William Gay.

And the play that caused it all didn’t even happen because they reviewed things and the third quarter clock had actually expired. Nothing like Egg Bowl theatrics, that’s for sure.

That fight will take away from the fact that the Rebels couldn’t get much done with their normally prolific offense. QB Jordan Ta’amu threw for only 87 yards and threw an interception but most notably injured his hand while fumbling early in the first half. Though he did briefly return to action a few series later, he left the game for good by the third quarter and had turned things fully over to freshman backup Matt Corral. The youngster wound up throwing for 65 yards and a pick himself but really endeared himself to the home fans by sticking up for his wideout when the fight broke out by getting right in the middle of the action.

Either way, it was probably not the way Matt Luke wanted to close out the season with the Rebels. Not only did Ole Miss fall to 5-7 overall in 2018, but they closed out their final campaign under a bowl ban with a four game losing streak.

The Egg Bowl victors, meanwhile, find themselves on the opposite end of the spectrum by winning four of their final five that included a competitive loss to Alabama. There was some questions about the Selection Committee ranking next to their name the last few weeks but MSU certainly have showcased what they’re capable of down the stretch in the rough SEC West and should be able to look forward to a pretty good bowl next month as well.

Most importantly, the team was able to hold that golden trophy up at the end of the night for the first time with their new head coach… and the last time with their stellar senior quarterback a year after he had his own bit of heartbreak in the rivalry game.

Finalists announced for major college football awards

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Bowl season is approaching in college football, which means awards season is also approaching. On Monday, the finalists for the major college football awards except the Heisman Trophy — basically, the Heisman for each side of the ball and/or position — were revealed, leading up to the 28th annual Home Depot College Football Awards show on ESPN.

There’s a lot to get to here, so let’s dive right in:

Bednarik Award (top defensive player)
Josh Allen, Kentucky
Christian Wilkins, Clemson
Quinnen Williams, Alabama
Previous winner: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

Biletnikoff Award (top wide receiver)
Andy Isabella, Massachusetts
Jerry Juedy, Alabama
Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State
Previous winner: James Washington, Oklahoma State

Lou Groza Award (top kicker)
Cooper Rothe, Wyoming
Andre Szymt, Syracuse
Cole Tracy, LSU
Previous winner: Matt Gay, Utah

Ray Guy Award (top punter)
Braden Mann, Texas A&M
James Smith, Cincinnati
Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah
Previous winner: Michael Dickson, Texas

John Mackey Award (top tight end)
T.J. Hockeson, Iowa
Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri
Kaden Smith, Stanford
Previous winner: Mark Andrews, Oklahoma

Maxwell Award (player of the year)
Will Grier, West Virginia
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Previous winner: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Davey O’Brien Award (top quarterback)
Garnder Minshew, Washington State
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Previous winner: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Outland Trophy (top interior lineman)
Christian Wilkins, Clemson
Jonah Williams, Alabama
Quinnen Williams, Alabama
Previous winner: Ed Oliver, Houston

Jim Thorpe Award (top defensive back)
Deandre Baker, Georgia
Julian Love, Notre Dame
Greedy Williams, LSU
Previous winner: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

Doak Walker Award (top running back)
Travis Etienne, Clemson
Darrell Henderson, Memphis
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
Previous winner: Bryce Love, Stanford

Wuerffel Trophy (top community servant)
David Blough, Purdue
Dalton Risner, Kansas State
Drue Tranquill, Notre Dame
Previous winner: Courtney Love, Kentucky

The Home Depot College Football Awards will air Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. ET from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

Oklahoma State rallies to stun No. 9 WVU, sends Big 12 race into chaos

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Four turnovers — three of them in their own territory — and a 31-14 halftime deficit put them in a huge hole, but Oklahoma State mounted a second half rally to stun No. 9 West Virginia, 45-41. In a battle of fifth-year senior quarterbacks, Oklahoma State’s Taylor Cornelius threw a touchdown pass with 42 seconds remaining to give the Cowboys their first — and only — lead, while Grier’s pass inside the Oklahoma State end zone that would have won the game with time expired was batted away.

The win clinches a 13th straight bowl trip for Oklahoma State (6-5, 3-5 Big 12) while eliminating West Virginia (8-2, 6-2 Big 12) from College Football Playoff contention. A West Virginia win would have set up a win-and-you’re-in showdown with No. 6 Oklahoma in Morgantown on Friday, but the Mountaineers’ loss opens the door for No. 15 Texas and No. 16 Iowa State, who play in Austin on Saturday night.

After waiting four years in the program to start and playing in his final home game, Cornelius overcame last week’s near-miss in Bedlam a week ago to out-play Grier down the stretch, throwing for 338 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for 106 yards and another score.

But before Cornelius could save the game, he and his teammates first had to nearly give it away.

The first Cowboy turnover came with West Virginia already leading 14-7 late in the first quarter. Cornelius hit Wallace for a 13-yard gain to the Oklahoma State 40, but Wallace fumbled the ball over to the Mountaineers. Taking over in opponent territory, West Virginia quickly capitalized as Grier hit David Sillsfor a 22-yard touchdown pass to put WVU up 21-7.

Oklahoma State quickly answered by knifing 60 yards in five plays, scoring on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Cornelius to Logan Carter. The Cowboy defense forced a West Virginia punt on the ensuing possession, allowing Oklahoma State to take over with a chance to tie the game, but Cornelius was intercepted, as Toyous Avery, Jr., punished him for forcing a 3rd-and-9 throw to Wallace.

Taking over inside Oklahoma State territory for the second time in the first half, West Virginia drove to the OSU 5-yard line but Grier was stuffed on a 4th-and-1 keeper.

Though West Virginia did not immediately score off the turnover, it did successfully allow WVU to play the game on Oklahoma State’s side of the field. After the teams traded three-and-outs over their next three chances, West Virginia pushed its lead to two touchdowns on a 3-play, 51-yard drive that was covered entirely by McKoy’s legs, racing for runs of seven, 14 and then 30 yards, the last of which crossed the goal line with 1:17 left in the first half.

Dashing to pull back within one score before the break, Oklahoma State crossed midfield into WVU territory, but Cornelius was again intercepted — while again looking for Wallace.

Taking over inside their own territory this time, West Virginia moved 39 yards in five plays and 61 seconds, setting up a 43-yard Evan Staley field goal on the final play of the first half.

On the whole, Wallace finished the half with three catches for 34 yards and a touchdown — and a total of three turnovers, either by him or to him.

Oklahoma State accepted the ball to open the second half and rolled 69 yards in eight plays, scoring on a 1-yard toss from Cornelius to Chuba Hubbard, reminiscent of the 2-point pass Cornelius missed to Wallace a week ago.

West Virginia threatened to push its lead back to 17 when the Cowboys forced WVU’s only turnover, a sack of Grier at the OSU 17 that turned into a sack upon review. Trailing 31-21 now, Oklahoma State again rushed up the field, but Hubbard was stuffed for a loss of a yard on a 3rd-and-goal from the 2, forcing a 20-yard Matt Ammendola field goal.

Continuing the theme of the third quarter, Oklahoma State forced a WVU three-and-out, setting the Cowboys up to receive the ball trailing 31-24… until Dillon Stoner fumbled the punt at his own 18, surrendering Oklahoma State’s fourth turnover of the game and third inside its own territory.

The Cowboy defense stiffened, forcing a 34-yard Staley field goal that pushed the score to 34-24 to open the fourth quarter. After a pair of punts, Cornelius pulled Oklahoma State within 34-31 with a 6-yard pass to Tyron Johnson in the back of the end zone.

After watching his lead dwindle from 31-14 to 34-31, Dana Holgorsen rolled the dice — twice. He went for a 4th-and-5 at the OSU 20 with 9:09 to play, which converted by way of a pass interference penalty in the end zone. Facing another 4th-and-medium, a 4th-and-goal from the 6, he again went for it, as Grier called his own number on an identical play to his 2-point conversion to beat No. 15 Texas two weeks ago, handing West Virginia a 41-31 lead with 7:37 remaining.

Oklahoma State answered, ripping off a 10-play, 78-yard touchdown drive in less than three minutes, scoring on a 9-yard Cornelius run with 4:47 to play.

Needing another touchdown to put the game away, West Virginia instead punted. Holgorsen actually elected to go for a 4th-and-6 from his own 49 with 2:45 left, but Sills started running his route before the rest of his teammates and forced Holgorsen’s hand, handing Oklahoma State the ball at its own 25 with a three-point deficit and 2:38 with which to work.

Oklahoma State gained 64 yards on six combined runs by Cornelius and Hubbard, throwing only once — an 11-yard scoring strike to Wallace, who carried his defender for the final five yards, putting Oklahoma State up four with 42 ticks remaining.

With the clock rolling inside of 20 seconds, Grier fired a bullet to Gary Jennings for a 33-yard gain, pushing WVU to the OSU 28. Grier then hit Sills at the 14 with two seconds remaining, setting up a do-or-die final play. After two WVU timeouts and with their College Football Playoff hopes on the line, Grier’s pass to Sills was broken up in the end zone, completing the Cowboy comeback.