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USC recruiting class suffers yet another late defection, this time to Washington

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After losing 5-star Bru McCoy to Texas, USC’s recruiting class — already its worst of this century — has suffered yet another late defection. This one came in a more conventional fashion, though at a less conventional time.

4-star wide receiver Puka Nacua on Sunday night announced he would renege on his commitment to USC in order to sign with Washington. Unlike 4-star wideout Koy Moore, Nacua is a member of the Class of 2019, allowing Clay Helton and company no time to change Nacua’s mind. He waited five extra days past Wednesday’s traditional Signing Day in order to make up his mind once and for all.

“Every school is a great opportunity to pursue football and continue my education, but I felt like University of Washington is the best fit for me,” Nacua said on KSL-TV on Sunday night. “I’m excited to head up to Seattle.”

The Orem, Utah, native boosts what is already viewed as the best recruiting class in Washington history. The 23-man group includes 15 4-stars and ranks No. 16 in the 247Sports Composite rankings. With the loss of Nacua, USC’s 2019 class includes two more players than Washington’s, but eight fewer 4-stars. The Trojans will finish the 2019 cycle at No. 20 nationally — again, the worst in recruiting’s modern era for the Men of Troy.

There is some good news though: this stone has finally sunk to the bottom of the creek. Probably.

USC suffers another bluechip WR decommitment

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Signing Day 2.0 arrives Wednesday, and USC isn’t exactly sprinting toward the finish line.

The Trojans already witnessed 5-star Bru McCoy reverse out of Heritage Hall after two weeks on campus, and now they’ve lost a player who figured to profit from his departure after 4-star wideout Koy Moore announced his decommitment.

“My relationship with USC became strained with the coaching changes,” Moore wrote in a note posted to his Twitter account. “I enjoyed my time as a #FightOn commitment, I love USC but the recruitment is not up to my expectations. I would like to re-open my recruitment.”

Looking past what exactly Moore seems to be seeking in his college experience, Moore’s announcement is a shot across the bow of Clay Helton‘s attempted salvage of his tenure as the Trojans’ head coach. Tee Martin was USC’s most effective recruiter — and Moore’s lead recruiter — though his loss was mitigated by the promise of Kliff KingsburyGraham Harrell simply does not have the name-recognition of the last two Trojans offensive coordinators, and Helton isn’t enough to a draw to hold together the class by himself.

Moore is a member of the class of 2020, so his recruitment won’t affect the Trojans’ immediate prospects, but it’s still a sign that USC’s pitiful 2018 season seems to have gotten worse instead of better as the calendar flipped to 2019. USC will ink the No. 18 recruiting class on Wednesday according to the 247Sports composite rankings, its worst of the modern era, and it appears the next class won’t be any kinder.

USC receiver Trevon Sidney enters transfer portal

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Don’t look now, but another USC wide receiver is on the move. In the same week that saw the highest-rated recruit in the Class of 2019 already choose to leave the Trojans, now receiver Trevon Sidney is looking for a new place to call home. As first reported by Bruce Feldman of The Athletic, via Twitter, Sidney has entered his name into the mystical and all-powerful NCAA transfer portal, making him eligible to explore his potential options in the transfer process.

Sidney appeared in nine games for USC in 2018 and caught seven passes for 104 yards. Playing in mostly a reserve role in the USC offense, it would seem Sidney is looking for a chance to play a more meaningful role in the fall. Sidney has two years of eligibility remaining.

Earlier this week, Class of 2019 wide receiver Bru McCoy officially moved on from USC before even taking part in a single practice. McCoy, who decided to transfer from USC following the abrupt departure of offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury (now the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals). Texas became the landing spot for the star wide receiver. All that is left to determine is if McCoy has to sit out the 2019 season or if he will be eligible to play right away this fall.

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.

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.