Oklahoma Rises Up To #2 In New AP Poll

Written by AP at ESPN.com

Oklahoma moved up to No. 2 in the Associated Press college football poll behind Alabama after the Sooners scored the most impressive victory of Week 2.

Three of the top six teams from last week defeated other ranked teams on Saturday, creating an early shake-up near the top of the AP Top 25. The Sooners jumped three spots after winning 31-16 at Ohio State. The last time the Sooners were this close to being No. 1 was in 2011.

The Buckeyes slipped from No. 2 to eighth.

Clemson held its spot at No. 3 after beating Auburn, and Southern California moved up two places to sixth following a victory against Stanford. Penn State is No. 5 after beating Pitt.

The Crimson Tide received 59 first-place votes. Oklahoma has two and Clemson one.

DOWN

The Buckeyes have their lowest ranking since November 2014. Ohio State that hopes this season takes a similar path.

In 2014, the Buckeyes lost at home to Virginia Tech and fell from No. 8 to No. 22 in the rankings. The Buckeyes did not lose again and won the national championship in Urban Meyer’s third season as coach in Columbus.

The Buckeyes did extend their streak of 41 polls ranked in the top 10, which dates back to Nov. 9, 2014.

OUT

Notre Dame’s stay in the Top 25 lasted one week. The Fighting Irish lost 20-19 at home to Georgia, which moved up two spots to No. 13. The Irish were the only team to fall out of the rankings.

IN

UCLA followed up its remarkable comeback victory in Week 1 against Texas A&M with a more routine blowout of Hawai’i and landed at No. 25 in the latest rankings. The Bruins moved into the rankings for the first time since starting 2016 at No. 16.

The Bruins stumbled to a four-win season last year, but quarterback Josh Rosen and the offense seem to be blossoming under new offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch.

UPCOMING RANKED VS. RANKED

No. 3 Clemson at No. 14 Louisville: Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals nearly beat the eventual national champions in Death Valley last season. Can the Tigers’ ferocious defensive front slow down the Heisman Trophy winner?

No. 23 Tennessee at No. 24 Florida: Assuming this game is played after Hurricane Irma passes through Florida, both the Vols and Gators will come in with plenty of questions to answer.

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Baker Mayfield Apologizes for His Arrest

Written by Dennis Dodd at CBSSports.com

After the worst moment of his college career, Baker Mayfield didn’t have to be coached up.

Oklahoma’s quarterback knew what to do. Three days after being arrested last month for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, fleeing the scene and resisting arrest, Mayfield posted a long heart-felt apology on Twitter.

“It was,” Mayfield said of his conduct, “instant regret.”

He proved it on Tuesday when the Heisman Trophy finalist met with reporters for the first time since his arrest. The setting was the first day of spring practice when renewal and football are already in the air.

Mayfield’s total and complete remorse should be a blueprint for all past and future knuckleheads in the college space: This is what contrition looks like without the lawyers and handlers and hiding and dodging.

To sum up, Mayfield owned it Tuesday. By doing so, he poured water on what could have become a raging fire. There were no half measures or ducking behind FERPA.

The kid already knew any privacy he might have enjoyed in the matter was lost when the Fayetteville, Arkansas, cops released video of his arrest .

Given his football elusiveness, it may have been the hardest Mayfield has been hit. And yes, he’s heard all the jokes.

“I saw Barry Switzer’s tweet; It was pretty funny, I’ll be honest,” Mayfield said.

In that moment, a scrambling quarterback proved he was also a stand-up guy.

“I did it to myself,” he said.

It was show over, nothing to see here. We can move on to talking about Heismans and championships. Mayfield has his mind right, meaning the Sooners are the team we thought they were.

Mostly, Mayfield is the man we hoped he was.

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Baker Mayfield Arrested For Drunkenness and Resisting Arrest.

Written by Alex Kirshner at SBNation.com

Police arrested Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield this weekend in Washington County, Arkansas, according to a filing by the county sheriff’s office.

Mayfield was booked Saturday morning and faces four listed charges: public intoxication, disorderly conduct, fleeing, and resisting arrest. Fleeing can be a felony charge in Arkansas, depending on the circumstances.

The sheriff’s office lists a hearing for Mayfield on Monday morning. He’s facing each of these charges in Fayetteville District Court, in Northwest Arkansas.

Mayfield is slated to play his senior season at Oklahoma this year. Last year, Mayfield posted the best passer rating by a qualifying QB in FBS history, and he led the Sooners back from a 1-2 start to win the Big 12 and later the Sugar Bowl.

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Musburger Goes OFF on Twitter Eggs Who Didn’t Like Him Wishing Joe Mixon Well


Written by Thomas Barrabi at Fox Business.com

Hours after announcer Brent Musburger praised Oklahoma Sooners star Joe Mixon during ESPN’s broadcast of the Sugar Bowl, the Disney-owned (DIS) sports network on Tuesday defended its coverage of Mixon’s 2014 assault of a female student.

Musburger, 77, drew widespread criticism after referring to Mixon as “one of the best” and expressed hope that the 20-year-old running back would “make the most of his [second chance].” Mixon was suspended for the entirety of the 2014 season after he was caught on video punching Amelia Molitor at an Oklahoma restaurant, breaking her jaw in the process.

“We have covered this sensitive and important topic aggressively across our entities and will continue to do so,” Stephanie Druley, ESPN Senior Vice President, Events and Studio Production, said in a statement to FOXBusiness.com.

“The initial discussion during the game telecast was an attempt to put everything into context and should have also included the impact on the young woman. Brent followed up in the second half because he wanted to reiterate and clarify how strongly he felt about the horrific actions captured on the recently released video,” Druley added.

Mixon, who rushed for more than 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, is expected to enter the 2017 NFL Draft. The video of the incident was made public last December after a prolonged legal battle.

Facing a backlash on social media, Musburger attempted to clarifiy his comments during the second half of Oklahoma’s 35-19 win over the Auburn Tigers.

“Some people were upset when I wished this young man well at the next level,” Musburger said during the broadcast. “Let me make something perfectly clear: What he did with that young lady was brutal, uncalled for. He’s apologized, he was tearful. He got a second chance. He got a second chance from (Oklahoma head coach) Bob Stoops. I happen to pull for people with second chances, okay? Let me make it absolutely clear that I hope he has a wonderful career and he teaches people with that brutal, violent video, okay?”

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Oklahoma Dominated Auburns Offense in Sugar Bowl Victory

Written by James Crepea at AL.com

No. 7 Oklahoma defeated No. 14 Auburn 35-19 in the Sugar Bowl on Monday night in New Orleans.

Below is what Sooners coach Bob Stoops, quarterback Baker Mayfield, running back Samaje Perine and linebacker Jordan Evans said at the postgame press conference.

COACH STOOPS:  My compliments to the entire Sugar Bowl committee, the people in New Orleans at the hotel, the practice site here at the Superdome and on and on. It’s just been an incredible week. And everybody has just been fantastic.

Compliments to Auburn, Coach Malzahn and his team having an excellent year. Very good football team and played a good game tonight. Can’t say enough how proud I am of my players, the way they handled theirselves not only this entire week but the whole month leading up to the game. They have been at a ton of meetings, and they have practiced hard and took care of themselves around New Orleans here this entire week. Not one guy was late to a meeting or anything else.

So they really invested in it, and it showed tonight. Really proud of the way they played in all parts of the game. I thought we were tough, physical. Both sides of the ball executed well, compliments to the assistant coaches who put together an excellent game plan and to these guys up here and the job they did.

I want to recognize Samaje (Perine). He doesn’t want me to do it. But to be the all-time leading time rusher at a place like Oklahoma, when you look at the lineage of running backs that we have had through the decades, to be the all-time leading rusher is really something special. So the entire team took a lot of pride in that.

Q. The first two drives of the game the offense couldn’t get anything on. But from there on it seemed like you were pretty much unstoppable. What changed after that first quarter?

COACH STOOPS:  Really just execution. Same thing defensively. The execution early. I think the pace of the play and the different formations they gave us, just got us — even though we prepared for them, we were not ready to respond quick enough. And then we settled down and did. The same thing offensively. Once we settled down and recognized what they were doing, we handled it really well.

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College Football Picks for Week 12


Written by Robby Kalland at CBSSports.com

Five days after talking about style points and what that means for gamblers, the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 teams in the playoff rankings all lost as chaos reigned supreme in Week 11.

Week 12 doesn’t look much better on paper, but after last week when two top teams lost as 20-plus point favorites, we have to expect some form of excitement and craziness a week ahead of rivalry week.

Here is a look at the lines and odds for the biggest games of the week:

Lines you need to know

No. 8 Oklahoma (-3) at No. 10 West Virginia: The Sooners have quietly snuck back into the top 10 and, while they need more chaos to take place ahead of them, they still have a legitimate road to the College FootballPlayoff. West Virginia might still have a chance too, but it likely needs a convincing win on Saturday to impress the committee. The Big 12, which appeared dead in the water a month ago, has to rest its playoff hopes on one of these two teams, with the other getting eliminated from the conversation Saturday.

No. 2 Ohio State (-22.5) at Michigan State:The Spartans just crushed Rutgers — as has most everyone — but reality is about to hit them square in the mouth in the form of a red-hot Ohio State team. The Buckeyes are thumping everyone, and what was once expected to be a game with significant title ramifications is now a tuneup for Ohio State going into the Michigan game.

No. 21 Florida (+14) at No. 16 LSU: The Gators need a win to clinch the SEC East but are two-touchdown underdogs to an LSU team that rebounded from its Alabama loss with a beatdown of Arkansas. That same Arkansas team handled the Gators with ease, but matchups make games and the Gators’ defense against the LSU rushing attack is going to be the key in whether this stays inside that number.

Lines that may surprise you

No. 5 Clemson (-21.5) at Wake Forest: Wake was leading at Louisville for much of the game before the Cardinals went crazy in the fourth quarter to run away with the victory. The Demon Deacons play really good defense and the way the Tigers are playing — coming off the loss to Pitt — it’s a bit surprising that this is over three touchdowns. There’s certainly potential for an angry bounce-back performance by Clemson, but Wake plays teams extremely tough and over three touchdowns is a lot of points on the road.

Arkansas (+2) at Mississippi State: I know Mississippi State has shown improvement recently and beat Texas A&M, but this seems like a bit of an over-correction on the part of the oddsmakers. Arkansas has struggled with good teams, but has hammered average to below-average opponents. Mississippi State — even with Nick Fitzgerald — falls into the latter and I’m a bit stunned to see the Bulldogs as favorites in this spot.

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What’s the Future for the Big 12?


Written by Chris Hummer at 247Sports.com

Week 9, like the entirety of 2016, proved a trying week for the Big 12.

Its two most prominent programs (Texas and Oklahoma) won, but the conference saw its College Football Playoff hopes evaporate as Baylor and West Virginia fell. Their losses come just a few days after the Big 12 announced it would add a championship game in 2017 without divisions. A round-robin schedule isn’t good enough to determine a “One True Champion” anymore, apparently. A few weeks before that the conference announced a much publicized expansion search would end without taking a vote.

Add to that the headache created by Baylor’s sexual assault scandal and the apparent declines of the Longhorns and Sooners, and the Big 12 truly seems “psychologically disadvantaged” compared to the other Power Five conferences.

Things appear grave for the Big 12. Yet one bad year doesn’t necessarily forecast doom.

When it comes down to it, the Big 12 is a victim of a bad break to start the entire playoff process.

Had TCU or Baylor reached the 2014 Final Four instead of Ohio State – the Buckeyes leaped over both the Bears and Horned Frogs in the final week – the panic over the Big 12’s round robin format would be tempered.

That system, the only one in college football that pits a team against the entirety of the conference, is a sound one for determining a conference champion. The Big 12, at least the conference of a few years ago, decided it did not need a title game – an event that’s largely a money grab anyway.

It’s tough to play “what if.” But the playoff committee citing the Big 12’s lack of a conference championship game as the reason for its exclusion in Year 1 set off the chain of events that’s led to the mess the Big 12 is in today.

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Best NCAAF Games of Week 3


Written by Brian Bennett at ESPN.com

The most-anticipated nonconference week of the season has arrived for the Big Ten. Week 3 brings a trio of high-profile matchups: No. 3 Ohio State at No. 14 Oklahoma; No. 12 Michigan State at No. 18 Notre Dame; and No. 22 Oregon at Nebraska.

Every time this kind of week has rolled around in the recent past, we’ve usually talked about the same thing: The Big Ten needs to win these games to earn respect, blah blah blah.

We’re not going to do that now. The conference has climbed back out of the hole it dug for itself during the early part of this decade. Some solid out-of-league victories, a national championship by Ohio State and the rise to the elite of Michigan State have brought credibility back to the Big Ten.

Just look at this week’s Associated Press poll for proof. The league owns two of the top four spots (Ohio State and No. 4 Michigan), one-third of the top nine positions (Wisconsin is ninth) and five teams in the top 13 (Iowa is 13th). No other conference can say that right now.

An 0-3 showing in this week’s marquee games certainly wouldn’t help that status, but with two of those contests coming on the road and the other featuring an unranked team, such a showing wouldn’t erode all the earned goodwill. Wisconsin’s season-opening win over LSU at least provides one bragging point.

What’s most interesting about this week is the opportunity it provides. Not only could the Big Ten continue to bolster its image with a successful Saturday, it could clear some paths for its teams toward the College Football Playoff.

The Big 12’s playoff hopes already are fraying after two weeks, thanks to Oklahoma’s loss to Houston, TCU going down to Arkansas in overtime and Oklahoma State getting beat by Central Michigan on that wild final zombie play, among the most notable setbacks.

The Buckeyes — who will be a popular pick to win in Norman, which wasn’t the case before the season — could pin a second loss on the Sooners and basically spike their playoff chances. And maybe the Big 12’s too.

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Greg Ward Jr, and Houston Upsets #3 Oklahoma


Written by Chuck Culpepper at Washington Post.com

The season began on Saturday afternoon, as it should, with something woolly and berserk. It began with a left heel planted inches inside the back line of an end zone in a third quarter, and a wily senior return man reaching up to catch a missed 53-yard field goal, then running while listening for whistles. Who dreams up this stuff?

In one skillful sweep, Brandon Wilson kept himself inbounds and corralled the football with his right leg slightly off the ground, and once he embarked, about 60 percent of NRG Stadium started booming right along with him. By the time he got finished romping 109-plus yards past a toothless, disorganized Oklahoma resistance, he had pushed Houston ahead by 26-17, changed the contour of a big game and changed the conversation of an early national season.

 Houston, one of the 63 members of college football’s second-tier peasantry, would smash Oklahoma, one of the 65 uppity, ultimately by 33-23, before 71,016, in the kind of class warfare that peppers this wild American sport. The No. 15-ranked Cougars would sustain the possibility that someday in December, they could warm even impartial hearts at the four-team College Football Playoff. The No. 3 Sooners would settle for high marks for gutsy scheduling.

The season would stir already.

Further, the Big 12 Conference offices might even notice the score, what with Houston among its candidates for expansion. That’s a Houston program that has spent its last two games beating Florida State (in the Peach Bowl) and Oklahoma under second-year star Coach Tom Herman, and that would have led Oklahoma 40-17 with four minutes left had it not fumbled at the 1-yard line. It does raise a question.

You sure you want to import this titan?

“I’m not impressed,” Houston senior quarterback Greg Ward Jr. said of the so-called “statement.” He also said, “We don’t worry about those type of things.”

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CFB Playoff Starts With Week 1


Written by Dennis Dodd at CBSSports.com

The College Football Playoff starts this week.

Oh, you haven’t heard? Then you’re not paying attention. Topping the list of my 25 Things to Watch in 2016 is the best opening week of college football ever.

“Been doing this a long time,” said veteran scribe Tony Barnhart, a former CBS Sports columnist. “In terms of quality matchups and what they mean, this is the best opening weekend of college football that I’ve ever seen.”

Six of the top 15 teams in the CBS Sports 128 are playing each other in Week 1. All six are putting their seasons on the line by opening with neutral site or true road games. That list includes the entire top four: Alabama, Clemson,Oklahoma and Florida State.

Two 2015 CFP participants are playing top 15 opponents to start: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 15 USC and No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 14 Houston.

By Monday night, the favorites of the SEC, ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 may all have their playoff chances severely damaged by an opening-week loss.

In that sense, the playoff race begins immediately. A two-loss team has yet to make the Football Four.

“I think CFP committee has made it clear they’re looking at strength of schedule as a strong barometer.” Houston athletic director Hunter Yurachek said. “Look at the opening weekend … this is as much excitement about an opening weekend that I can remember.”

Blame/credit the CFP. The number of quality season-opening quality games has just sort of grown organically as a reaction to the two most powerful words in the sport: schedule strength.

“What they look at in the new CFP is … if you’re going to lose, lose early and lose to a team that is going to be ranked at the end of the year,” said Gary Stokan, executive director of the Peach Bowl.

While it’s not possible to look inside Barry Alvarez’ sweater vest to judge where his heart resides, the CFP mandate has been clear throughout.

“It’s still going to be, ‘Who did you play?'” said Bill Hancock, CFP executive director. “That’s in each committee member’s perception.”

The sport has reacted accordingly. There are 20 neutral site games spread throughout the 2016 season. Quality is front-loaded. Nine of those will have been played by Monday night.

Five of those nine include at least one ranked team. Four of them include teams from the SEC, the conference gold standard.

Upgrading schedule strength has become an art. The ACC and SEC already mandate their schools play at least one nonconference game against a Power Five opponent. The Big Ten no longer plays FCS opponents. The only Power Fives not playing nine conference games are the ACC and SEC.

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