Sport Oklahoma shows why this might be season it can knock off Alabama, Clemson to win title
Coaches Poll: Alabama jumps Clemson for No. 1; Ohio State passes LSU
There's a new No. 1 in the Amway Coaches Poll. Alabama passed Clemson after the Tigers narrowly beat North Carolina. Ohio State passed LSU for No. 5.
DALLAS – One year ago, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley confronted the first searing adversity of his sun-kissed head coaching career.
Oklahoma’s defense hemorrhaged 48 points, 501 yards and any shred of competence in its last-second loss to Texas. Riley fired defensive coordinator Mike Stoops the next day, navigating the awkward political dynamics of dismissing the brother of the Hall of Fame coach who’d handed him the keys to the program.
Clemson has prosperous recruiting pipeline in Alabama, of all places
Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney has been mining diamonds out of Alabama coach Nick Saban's backyard.Summer is stubborn in southeast Alabama. It encroaches on September and turns early season high school football games into tests of endurance for players and fans. Nevertheless, on this Friday night, 45 minutes before Central-Phenix City kicked off against Prattville, the stadium stands were filled.
This year’s Red River Rivalry marked a fitting coda for Riley’s most significant decision as Oklahoma’s coach. After he jettisoned Stoops, Riley eventually hired Alex Grinch to run the Sooner defense. As anniversary celebrations go, this one was marked by an emasculation of the Texas offense.
No. 6 Oklahoma showed in its 34-27 victory over the No. 11 Longhorns on Saturday afternoon that it can play complementary football, which is the ultimate compliment to OU’s transformation under Riley. In attempting to make the final push from College Football Playoff participant to winner, the Sooners’ defense featured something that feels awkward to type – a swaggering, dominant and punishing Oklahoma defense.
No. 2 Clemson pounds Florida St. 45-14 for 21st straight win
No. 2 Clemson answered any lingering questions from its close call at North Carolina, winning its 21st straight game by pounding Florida State 45-14 on Saturday. The Tigers and coach Dabo Swinney faced two weeks of questions about why the defending national champions needed a last-minute stop on a 2-point conversion to escape the Tar Heels with a 21-20 win. Everything from Lawrence's health to Travis Etienne's fumble-itis (he had a key one to keep North Carolina in the game) came under scrutiny as many wondered: What's wrong with the Tigers?Apparently, nothing.BOX SCORE: NO.
Oklahoma held Texas to 83 first-half yards on offense and just 310 for the game. The Sooners registered nine sacks, blitzed creatively and flummoxed Sam Ehlinger into his worst performance since he seized the full-time starting job at Texas early last season. (Ehlinger finished 26-of-38 passing for 210 yards, with linebacker Kenneth Murray harassing him all day.)
In a game within the confines of the Texas State Fair, this game played out like Oklahoma looking in a funhouse mirror. The Sooners’ long-maligned defense authored a signature performance. Their lauded quarterback, Jalen Hurts, coughed up a pair of disastrous red-zone turnovers and looked in spots like a decision-making liability. Oklahoma’s offense sputtered at key times – until bailed out by the resplendent CeeDee Lamb (three TDs) – and the defense played gnarly, ornery and oppressive. Let’s just say this didn’t follow the pre-game narrative of a WAC-era shootout.
Coaches poll: LSU jumps Ohio State, Oklahoma to No. 3; Georgia falls
LSU moved up three spots to No. 3 in the Amway Coaches Poll behind Alabama and Clemson. Georgia dropped seven spots after losing to South Carolina.
What’s up was down here in Dallas, as Texas entered the game with the nation’s No. 11 offense and left feeling like they’d eaten nothing but corndogs for a week. Texas has one decent tailback (Roschon Johnson), got a spotty performance by the offensive line and failed to dictate tempo through an inability to find any rhythm.
Oklahoma entered the game with a defense ranked No. 25 in scoring defense, 76 spots higher than it ended last year. Some of the optimism for Grinch’s early success was tempered by a schedule that didn’t feature any team sniffing a national ranking. No one is throwing you a parade for slowing down Kansas or Texas Tech.
But on the anniversary of its defensive nadir, Oklahoma’s defense appears to have forged into a unit that completes the Sooners as a title contender. They’ll certainly move up in the rankings in the wake of.
Oklahoma gave up an average of 49.5 points per game in its two College Football Playoff appearances under Riley, defensive performances that underscored the width of the final gap between the Sooners and the game’s elite.
Misery Index: Wisconsin won't be able to erase ugly mark on its resume after loss to Illinois
This week for Wisconsin was supposed to be about the buildup for the program against Ohio State. Instead, it is reeling from an ugly loss to Illinois.No matter how much you maximize what Wisconsin can be as a program, the Badgers are not going to win a college football national championship. Not now, and probably not ever. The recruiting landscape just doesn’t make it possible for Wisconsin in this day and age, and that’s completely fine.
The Sooners’ signature defensive performance on Saturday, however, changed the tenor of discussion around this Oklahoma team. They’re no longer the epitome of a Big 12 juggernaut where the explosiveness of the offense leaves the defense exposed and vulnerable. Over and over on Saturday, Oklahoma ran the ball with its array of options and counters. The Sooners finished with 276 rushing yards as Hurts established himself as both an option wizard and an imposing physical threat.
We all know that Riley’s offensive résumé reads like something from a Mike Leach fever dream, as he’s two-for-two with Heisman Trophy quarterbacks. Riley has shown enough innovation and play-calling panache that he’s got NFL general managers and owners drooling at the prospect of luring him.
But Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts isn’t going to win the Heisman Trophy this year. His reality is that he’s improved since his time as an ultra-successful starter at Alabama, where he went 26-2. But Hurts (16-of-28 passing for 235 yards) also isn’t quite the dynamic thrower of his two predecessors, which is no sin considering that they both went No. 1 in the NFL draft and are among the most decorated players in the history of the sport. Hurts is somewhere comfortably in the middle of his old self and the unfair standards of his predecessors at his new position. But the twist here is that this Sooner team has the best chance of any of Riley’s teams of winning the national title.
Clemson AD responds to Florida's social media request for football series
Clemson AD Dan Radakovich responded to Florida AD Scott Stricklin's Twitter request for football scheduling partners from the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12 or Pacific 12.Attention ADs from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 or Pac-12 … @GatorsFB is looking to add additional Home-and-Home series against P5 opponents. Let’s connect and schedule quality games the fans want to see! #GoGators— Scott Stricklin (@ScottStricklin) October 22, 2019Three hours later, Radakovich responded.Hey @ScottStricklin ....
The game unfolded in a manner few could have expected. After, official Mike Defee set the tone by giving every player on each team a 15-yard penalty. That meant that any player who got an unsportsmanlike conduct foul – including the discussed ad nauseum “Horns Down” symbol – they’d be thrown from the game. (No one ended up getting tossed for this reason.)
Who knew that Defee’s bulging biceps would be the only big guns we’d see in the first half? (Someone at the Big 12 should make very clear to Defee that he liked the sound of his own voice a little too much, and the sold-out crowd didn’t shoehorn into the Cotton Bowl to hear Professor Defee throw flags and lecture us on sportsmanship in the pre-game.)
The early part of the game played out as a confirmation of the genius of Riley hiring Grinch, who’d been ultra-successful with adverse conditions under Mike Leach at Washington State. (He spent last season as a co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State.)
Led by Murray, the marauding linebacker, Oklahoma suffocated Sam Ehlinger and the Texas defense for the entire first half. Oklahoma ripped off eight tackles for loss, four sacks and gave up just 83 yards and 3.0 yards per play. It kicked off a day that should cement Murray as a first-team All-American, as he finished with five tackles, two TFLs and spent his day in Ehlinger’s grill.
Grinch’s fingerprints can be seen all over this Sooner defense, which once functioned as a way to get Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray the ball back but has now forged its own salty identity. Oklahoma confused Ehlinger with pre-snap movement, tackled with an edge and simply played harder and more motivated than any of the units in Stoops’ sputtering final years.
Why Spiller was critical recruit to help start Clemson dynasty
Before Clemson became a football dynasty, it was the recruitment of C.J. Spiller that was critical to getting the program competitive with the elite.Spiller brought his concerns to Dabo Swinney, then an assistant coach and the point man on Spiller's high-profile recruitment. For the second time, Swinney had to convinced Spiller to commit to Clemson.
A program that became the most sought-after destination for offensive innovation has found balance this season. The Sooner players should serenade Riley by singing “Happy Anniversary” all the way up to Norman, as they announced themselves as a serious national title threat on Saturday.
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