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Winners and Losers from Week 15 of College Football

The 2014 college football season is coming to an end. In a way, though, it feels like everything is just getting started. 

On Sunday, the College Football Playoff selection committee will unveil its four-team field. Some of those spots appear to be secured, while others could be more open to discussion. In any case, everything college football fans have waited months on end for is coming to fruition. 

From convincing wins by Alabama, Ohio State and Oregon, to a wild Bedlam game finish, there were plenty of takeaways from the weekend. 

Which players and teams were winners? Which ones ended the season on a sour note? The answers are in the following slides. 

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Kansas State vs. Baylor: Score and Twitter Reaction

The No. 6 Baylor Bears won 38-27 over the ninth-ranked Kansas State Wildcats Saturday night, grabbing a share of the Big 12 championship and leaving their national title hopes up to the College Football Playoff committee.

Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty's status was unknown for much of the week following a concussion suffered last week, but he was back to his usual self Saturday. The senior finished with a sterling stat line of 34-of-40 passing with 412 yards, a touchdown and an interception in his McLane Stadium send-off.

The Bears added 172 more yards on the ground, including 91 yards on 18 carries from Shock Linwood. The balanced attack thwarted a Kansas State defense that had allowed more than 30 points only once all season. 

Here was the box score from the Waco, Texas contest:

Baylor jumped out to an early lead that it wouldn't relinquish on the game's opening drive. Despite the Wildcats trimming the deficit to one possession early in the third quarter, Petty and the Bears offense rediscovered their offensive success in the second half for a couple of game-sealing scores.

After the win, Bears head coach Art Briles resurfaced the case for Baylor over TCU in the playoff that he echoed earlier in the week, per Andrew Perloff of Sports Illustrated:

Despite Saturday's game being a matchup of two Top 10 teams, the focus on remained whether Baylor could do enough to supplant the likes of TCU, Florida State or Ohio State and sneak into the CFP.

But after the Bears killed Kansas State's hopes in a similar scenario back in 2012, Briles wanted to keep things centered on the matchup at hand in the days leading up to the game, per ESPN.com's Max Olson.

"When you ride up there at a certain level for so long and every week there’s people shooting at you, as Kansas State was that year, it’s hard to dodge for 12 weeks," Briles said. "It’s just hard to do."

On the very first drive, Baylor looked just as focused as it needed to be to avoid that sort of slip-up.

Petty led the Bears on a quick 81-yard drive to open the game, scampering in from one yard out to give Baylor a 7-0 lead less than two minutes in. Baylor kept its foot on the gas pedal and nearly scored on its next drive, before Petty threw a costly interception in the end zone.

With the Bears' defense holding firm and forcing quick K-State punts, Baylor got another chance to punch it in but nearly suffered another terrible goal-line mistake. After review, though, a forced fumble was overturned and Linwood broke through for a one-yard score, per Sports Illustrated.

But in the typical fashion of head coach Bill Snyder and Kansas State, the Wildcats rolled down the field in a long drive to get back in it. Running back Charles Jones found the end zone from one yard out, making it a 14-7 game.

Baylor had no trouble responding, but once again it came in controversial fashion after nearly fumbling. But as Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel showed, those near-gaffes didn't overshadow Baylor's offensive dominance:

Petty and the Baylor offense had it going early, but the defense couldn't continue shutting Kansas State down. The Wildcats rolled out another methodical drive and used a splash play to get back in the game.

Jake Waters found Zach Trujillo for a big 36-yard touchdown, bringing the game to 21-14 and resurfacing some of Baylor's secondary woes, as Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram noticed:

Baylor added a last-second field goal before halftime after Petty led them 48 yards in just 44 seconds, but the Wildcats were still very much in it with the score at 24-14 as the teams headed in to the break.

K-State threatened to grab a crucial touchdown coming out for the second half but was held to a 24-yard Matthew McCrane field goal that made it a one-score game again.

Right when the Wildcats were within striking distance, Petty struck back.

The senior found Antwan Goodley for a 58-yard touchdown that mimicked so many of Baylor's long scores this season, putting the Bears up 31-17 and spurring USA Today's George Schroeder to note how short the touchdown drive was:

K-State kicker McCrane answered with another field goal, but the Wildcats needed seven points on those drives, not threes. That was clear when Baylor next got the ball and rattled off a 10-play, 72-yard drive capped by Johnny Jefferson's three-yard score. That drive extended the Bears' lead to 38-20.

At the end of the third quarter, just about the only critique you could give Baylor was that the likes of Ohio State and TCU were winning in similar fashion, per Dallas Morning News' Chuck Carlton:

The Baylor victory looked more than guaranteed at that point, but it just isn't in Kansas State's DNA to keel over in such a situation. The Wildcats had to scratch and claw on a 90-yard drive that took up more than seven minutes, but made it a 38-27 game on Waters' eight-yard touchdown toss to Tyler Lockett.

Waters got a chance with 9:48 left to lead the Wildcats down the field and make it a one-score game, but threw a game-sealing interception at the Baylor 34 to essentially end the contest.

Everyone will have their own opinions on whether TCU has done enough to stay ahead of Baylor despite the head-to-head loss, or whether one of them even deserves to be in the playoff after Ohio State's convincing win over Wisconsin. But no matter what happens, Baylor can crown themselves the Big 12 champions after holding the tiebreaker over fellow one-loss TCU.

It's safe to say, though, that those conference championship celebrations will turn sour come Sunday afternoon if Baylor's name isn't among the Top Four.

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How Alabama Matches Up with the 5 Other Potential Playoff Teams

Alabama fans can finally book that travel to New Orleans.

Barring some drastic shake-up in the College Football Playoff rankings on Sunday afternoon, the Crimson Tide will play as the No. 1 or 2 seed in the Superdome in the first round of the inaugural four-team tournament.

Alabama’s 42-13 win over Missouri in the SEC championship game sealed the Crimson Tide’s playoff fate. Now fans can begin to look ahead to potential opponents, for the first round and the championship game.

Let’s take a look at the remaining contenders in alphabetical order and determine how Alabama matches up with each, along with a projected Vegas spread.



The narrative for this game would be pretty straightforward: Baylor’s high-flying offense against Alabama’s stingy defense.

The Bears had the top offense in the country in yards per game coming into this weekend. Alabama’s defense was No. 11.

The good news for Baylor is that its offensive strength is Alabama’s defensive weakness.

Despite the gaudy overall defensive numbers, Alabama is just No. 55 in pass defense. Against Auburn, it gave up several long passing plays, and Saturday, Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk hit a couple of deep balls to keep the Tigers in the game too.

The difference in the game would occur when Alabama has the ball.

Baylor has given up at least 300 yards in all but two of its games this year, against FCS Northwestern State and lowly SMU. The Bears just don’t have the defensive talent to keep up with Amari Cooper.

Points would be scored, but Alabama would get a couple of more stops.

Predicted spread: Alabama (-11)


Florida State

Of all of these hypothetical matchups, the Seminoles are the only ones that can go pound-for-pound with Alabama talent-wise.

FSU’s recruiting classes have been ranked Nos. 4, 10, 3 and 2, whereas Alabama has had the top class every year.

Head coach Jimbo Fisher is a Saban disciple and has built a similar wear-you-out team in Tallahassee.

Quarterback Jameis Winston could pick apart the Alabama secondary better than most, while FSU’s offensive line could hold its own against Alabama’s front seven.

The Crimson Tide would likely have the weight of the college football world behind it. Florida State has, fair or unfair, been billed as college football’s villain this year.

It would be a doozy for sure.

Predicted spread: Alabama (-2)


Ohio State

This one is probably the biggest wild card of the group.

Cardale Jones looked fantastic in his first start after injuries to Braxton Miller and JT Barrett forced him into action, throwing three touchdowns in a blowout of Wisconsin on Saturday.

Still, the Crimson Tide’s modus operandi on defense is collapsing the pocket and forcing bad decisions by opposing quarterbacks. You have to think Nick Saban and Kirby Smart would go hard after a quarterback like Jones in that situation.

Otherwise, it would seem to be a fairly even matchup, with some interesting individual battles on the other side of the ball.

Joey Bosa vs. freshman left tackle Cam Robinson would be an intense one-on-one matchup. Ohio State safety Von Bell chose the Buckeyes over the Crimson Tide in recruiting and would play a role in slowing down Cooper and the Alabama passing game.

It’s been a while since we’ve gotten Urban Meyer vs. Nick Saban. A rejuvenation of that personal rivalry would be highly entertaining in the postseason.

Predicted spread: Alabama (-6)



It feels like college football has waited ages for this matchup, hasn’t it? Oregon’s innovative offense against Saban and Alabama’s defense.

That side of the ball would be nothing if not entertaining. The Ducks came into the weekend with the country’s third-best offense and humming under quarterback and likely Heisman winner Marcus Mariota.

The Ducks offensive line, though, could be susceptible to an aggressive pass rush. Oregon has allowed 29 sacks coming into the weekend, just No. 93 in the nation. Alabama had registered 28 sacks before that. Mariota would at least be on the run for a good part of the game.

It would seem to be a mismatch on the other side of the ball.

Oregon is giving up 413.8 yards per game, No. 82 nationally. Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin would be licking his chops, ready to unleash his offense on that susceptible defense.

Predicted spread: Alabama (-8)



Who will the Big 12 send to the playoff? Will it send anyone? If it does, its two options are relatively similar.

TCU, like Baylor, is very good on offense and average-to-good on defense.

The Horned Frogs are No. 46 in the country in total defense, giving up 370.7 yards per game this year. Their offense, meanwhile, sits at No. 5 (525.8).

The difference for TCU, and what would make this a little bit more competitive of a game for TCU, is under center.

Trevone Boykin and Bryce Petty are putting up similar numbers this year passing the ball. But Boykin brings an extra dimension to the position.

He is averaging 54.36 yards per game on the ground, compared to Petty's 13-plus per game.

Alabama has been susceptible to mobile quarterbacks this year. Nick Marshall went for 49 last week. Dak Prescott rushed for 82. Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs added 75 on the ground.

Boykin could be a difference-maker, but Alabama still has the edge.

Predicted spread: Alabama (-7)


Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats come from CFBStats.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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TCU QB Trevone Boykin Takes Home CFB's Top Performer for Week 15

Trevone Boykin decided to make his own statement to the playoff committee on Saturday. The TCU quarterback passed for 460 yards and four touchdowns, as the Horned Frogs destroyed the Iowa State Cyclones 55-3.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder explains why this performance was good enough to receive our Lexus Top Performer of Week 15.

Does TCU deserve a spot in the College Football Playoff?

Watch the video and let us know!

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BYU Football: Ranking the 5 Best Moments for the Cougars in 2014

BYU finished its regular season on a great note last week, notching a big road win over the University of California. But with the Miami Beach Bowl several weeks away, now is a great time to look back on the regular season.

There is no doubt that the Cougs experienced an interesting mix of great wins and devastating losses this season. But there were numerous memorable moments in each game that added up to a long list of highlights.

Which ones deserve to be a top-five moment of this Cougars season? Read on to find out.

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Ohio State's Michael Bennett Honors Kosta Karageorge by Wearing His Number

Ohio State Buckeyes lineman Michael Bennett is wearing No. 53 Saturday night in the Big Ten Championship against Wisconsin.

He is honoring his late teammate, Kosta Karageorge, who was found dead from a gunshot wound on Sunday.

Bennett typically wears No. 63.

[BTN Journey]

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Derrick Henry Will Be Alabama's Difference-Maker in College Football Playoff

Derrick Henry is peaking at the end of the season for the second consecutive year, which is bad news for whichever three teams join Alabama in the College Football Playoff.

The breakout star of the 2014 Sugar Bowl took over in the second half of Saturday's SEC Championship Game, rushing for 102 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries during a three-possession stretch that saw the Tide extend their lead from 21-13 to 42-13. 

For the game, he had 20 carries for 141 yards and those two scores.

You do not want this man stampeding toward you:

The first two years of Henry's career have been atypical.

He was the leading rusher in high school football history at Yulee High School in northern Florida and came to Alabama as a 5-star recruit last season. But he didn't make an impact (in meaningful action) until the aforementioned Sugar Bowl, when he scored touchdowns of 43 and 61 yards in the second half of a 45-31 loss to Oklahoma.

The blogosphere erupted with high hopes for Henry in 2014—this author not being exempt—but he did not live up to his promise. He saw a decent number of carries and enjoyed moderate success but did not perform like a supposed dark-horse Heisman candidate.

Until now.

Henry rushed five times for 72 yards and a touchdown in the Iron Bowl win over Auburn last week, which means he has 213 yards and three touchdowns in his past two SEC games. And he only needed 25 carries to get there. He is averaging 8.52 yards per attempt.

That is basically a first down per carry.

The obvious rebuttal to Henry's success concerns timing.

Starter T.J. Yeldon wears down the defense in the first half, allowing Henry to exploit a tired group of tacklers in the second half. It's the same thing he did against Oklahoma, when you think about. And it means, in some ways, that his numbers are inflated.

And they are.

But so what?

So what if his numbers are inflated? So what if he's not 8.52-yards-per-carry good? It's not about what kind of stats Henry posts. It's about how scary Alabama's offense can be. And with Henry playing as well as he has these past two weeks, the Tide can be pretty darn scary.

No 6'3", 241-pound human being should run as fast or move his feet as well as Henry. Short of an actual rhinoceros, he is the last thing a tired defense wants to tackle. When he's plugged in feeling fresh at the end of a physical game, he is acid on top of a wound.

In hindsight, we probably should have seen this coming.

We should have known that Nick Saban was saving Henry for the end of the season, resting him a la Greg Popovich with Tim Duncan, ensuring he stays fresh for the games that matter most.

"We have total confidence in [Henry] as a player," Saban said after Henry rushed for 24 yards on eight carries against LSU November 8, per Marc Torrence of Bleacher Report.

So why the heck did the rest of us start to waver?

Consider this reminder heeded. Henry will make a difference when the calendar turns to January.

And he might just be the thing that pushes Alabama over the top.


Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT

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SEC Championship 2014: Game Grades, Analysis for Alabama and Missouri

Alabama dominated the 2014 SEC Championship Game, blowing past Missouri 42-13 while simultaneously punching a ticket to the inaugural College Football Playoff this January.

Alabama rode an outstanding quarterbacking performance by Blake Sims while exerting constant defensive pressure on Missouri's Maty Mauk.  Nick Saban, meanwhile, ties Steve Spurrier for the record for most SEC championships with five.

Here's the box score via NCAA.com.


Missouri Pass Offense

Were you to look at nothing more than a box score, you might think Mauk had a pretty decent night against the Crimson Tide.  On one hand, he did.  But if you actually watched the game, you saw a quarterback scrambling for his life most of the evening, while occasionally finding wide receivers (in particular Jimmie Hunt) on prayers heaved downfield just before Mauk hit the sideline.

We'll give credit where credit is due: the Mauk-to-Hunt connection was impressive to watch.  But the protection offered by the offensive line is part of the passing game, too, and that was sorely lacking against the talented front seven from Tuscaloosa.

It's also worth noting that if you remove Hunt's numbers, there were just 103 receiving yards spread among four other Tigers.


Missouri Run Offense

We didn't really expect the SEC's top rushing defense (92.7 yards allowed per game during the regular season) to give up a ton of yards, but Mizzou is a team that had been averaging 176 rushing yards per game.

The Tigers, who never led in the game, resorted to passing the ball early and often, after the Tide showed they were in no mood to allow much in the way of rushing success.  From the opening drive, Missouri was constantly faced with third-and-long, which amount to a Tigers run offense that had just 23 carries on the night.

By comparison, Alabama's Derrick Henry had 20 carries by himself, and the Tide as a team had 49 rush attempts.

Mizzou finished with just 41 rushing yards or 1.8 yards per attempt.  Establishing the run is an important step in any championship hunt, and the Tigers failed miserably in this regard.


Missouri Pass Defense

Giving up 262 yards and two scores is bad enough, but when that comes on a 23-of-27 performance by the opposing quarterback, you just want to throw up your hands.

Nothing the Missouri secondary did seemed to matter, although it's not like many people have been able to slow down the likes of Amari Cooper this season.  But it's the 101 yards on just four receptions given up to DeAndrew White that should annoy Mizzou fans.

Missouri spend a lot of time focusing on Cooper—not that it mattered, as Cooper still had 12 catches—to the detriment of the coverage on White.  Blake Sims is just too good and the Tide are too well-coached for any defense to get away with that.


Missouri Run Defense

Missouri wasn't able to get to Sims much, and he is elusive enough that when the pressure did exist, he still made plays.  It also didn't help the Tigers' cause when the SEC's leading sacker, Shane Ray, was ejected in the first half for a late hit on Sims with a targeting foul tacked on.

While Mizzou didn't completely fall apart after Ray's departure, things certainly didn't improve against the pass.  It all resulted in the most yards (both rushing and total) that Missouri had given up all season long.


Missouri Special Teams

Sure, the special teams were pretty good for Missouri.  But when you lose 42-13, does it really matter that much?

In reality, Mizzou probable needed a spark or two from the special teams tonight, and that didn't happen.  We won't penalize guys for not carrying their team, but we're not going to shower an otherwise efficient special teams unit with praise for simply showing up and not screwing up.

Andrew Baggett was two-of-two on field goals, and Christian Brinser averaged 43.4 yards on his busy night of seven punts.


Missouri Coaching

Gary Pinkel and Nick Saban played football together at Kent State in the 1970s and even won a MAC championship together.  That familiarity showed at times, as Pinkel seemed to have the right offensive scheme dialed up at just the right moment.

But calling the right play and executing the right play are two different things.  Mauk looked just a little off-target early on, and a drop by tight end Sean Culkin on Missouri's second drive resulted in a punt instead of a first down.

We'll even give Pinkel a great deal of credit for the adjustments Missouri made offensively at halftime, scoring the first 10 points of the second half while holding Alabama scoreless in the third quarter.  But as the game wore on, the athletes took over.

Alabama just has more of them than Missouri.


Alabama Pass Offense

There's no other way to put this: Blake Sims was phenomenal.  Finishing 23-of-27 with 262 yards and two touchdowns is a successful night for any quarterback, but the fact that this came in a conference championship game is more than enough reason to award Sims the SEC Championship Game MVP award.

Sims was back to his old tricks, throwing strikes into coverage or scrambling away from pressure to pick up yards with his feet.  Sims finished with nine rushes for 19 yards, and only two or three of those were designed runs (plus one sack).

When people were wondering whether or not Sims was only being played because Saban was honoring Sims as a senior, we now wonder if Saban knew all along that he had an eventual championship game MVP on his hands.


Alabama Run Offense

Missouri doesn't typically give up a ton of rushing yards—unless the Tigers are playing in the SEC Championship Game.  While Alabama didn't quite have the 545-yard performance Auburn did a year ago, the Tide's 242 was still an impressive outing for the sixth-best rushing offense in the SEC this season (206.8 yards per game).

While T.J. Yeldon is certainly hailed as a premier back (and with two touchdowns on 14 carries with 47 yards, we certainly need to give him his due), tonight belonged to Derrick Henry.  This 6'3", 241-pound sophomore was deadly against Missouri, and his career-high 141 yards and two scores provided more than the nail in the coffin for the Tigers' SEC title hopes.  It provided the first shovel-full or two of dirt, too.

Henry was too big and (surprisingly) too fast for Missouri to adjust to most of the night.  Alabama fans should rightly be excited about not only his future in Tuscaloosa next season but what his presence can mean for the Tide moving into the College Football Playoff next month.


Alabama Pass Defense

We're going to split this breakdown into two parts.  First, there was the pressure the Alabama defensive line and blitzing personnel put on Mauk.

Mauk rarely looked comfortable in the pocket, and he spent most of his night running around the field, looking for open receivers while scrambling.  In fact, Mauk probably ran for more lateral yardage than any Tiger did for positive yardage.

Mauk was able, however, to find some open receivers downfield on what looked like desperation heave after desperation heave.  With that, we come to our second part of the pass defense.

Against Missouri, Mauk and a Tigers offense that averaged just 189.9 passing yards per game (11th in the SEC), the three-to-four-second coverage window given by the Alabama secondary was enough to keep Mizzou from really punishing the Tide.  

But against quarterbacks likely to be seen in the playoff this season (Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota, for example), even the small windows left open by the Tide's secondary will be exploited.

Jimmie Hunt's six receptions for 169 yards should be a concern for the Alabama defensive coaching staff moving forward.


Alabama Run Defense

The performance was nothing short of excellent for the Bama run defense tonight.

A'Shawn Robinson was all over the field, pressuring Mauk in the passing game and making big plays at or behind the line of scrimmage on run plays.

After teaching Missouri that running the football was futile pretty early on, the Tide maintained their dominance in the trenches, limiting Mizzou to just 41 rushing yards.  In fact, only two Tigers had more than one yard on the evening, and none had more than 21 yards.

That's what we call an A-plus performance.


Alabama Special Teams

Coaches are never going to be thrilled when a kicker misses a field goal, especially with Alabama's history of missing field goals in important games.

That being said, it's a little easier as a kicker to avoid the wrath of Saban on nights when your team wins by four touchdowns.

We also have to mention a potential momentum-shifting play deftly negated by punter JK Scott in the second half.  After dropping the snap, Scott quickly picked up the football and quick-kicked it away, avoiding the Missouri pressure (some of which was now coming from behind him).

Scott got the kick away for 33 yards, and it was downed at the Missouri 20—instead of giving the Tigers the ball on the plus side of midfield.


Alabama Coaching

All of the criticisms about Nick Saban have been said and debated for years now.  The only thing left to wonder is how many more championships this guy can possibly win.

Saban has now tied Steve Spurrier for the most number of SEC titles by a coach with five.  And unless Old Saint Nick is planning on retiring anytime soon, we're pretty confident that he'll have the record all to himself before long.

Nick Saban's greatest feat, however, is probably his ability to surround himself with some of the greatest assistants in the game.  Lane Kiffin, admittedly a failure as a head coach, is once again showing his genius as an assistant.  And even if Saban didn't have a world-class football brain trust around him, he would still probably come out on top.

Saban and his staff were able to withstand Pinkel's adjustments after halftime, and despite not scoring in the third quarter, Alabama never let the score get closer than eight points before pulling away in the fourth.

We're excited to see what new heights Saban can reach with the Crimson Tide, and we have a sneaking suspicion that it won't take us long to find out.


Unless otherwise noted, quotes or references to quotes were obtained firsthand by the writer.

Follow Bleacher Report's National College Football Featured Columnist David Luther on Twitter.

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Despite Second Straight SEC Title Loss, Missouri Will Remain a Conference Threat

Maybe the third time will be the charm for the Missouri Tigers. 

The first time the Tigers went to the SEC Championship, they lost to Auburn in a shootout. That was a year ago. 

Then, on Saturday, Alabama established its SEC supremacy by throttling Missouri 42-13. 

But don't write off the Tigers. 

Because the fact of the matter is this—for two straight years, the Tigers have won the SEC East, and with the talent they have coming back, they're now a bona fide contender in the Southeastern Conference. 

Missouri's rise in the SEC, which the Tigers joined just three seasons ago, is thanks largely in part to Gary Pinkel, who himself was on the hot seat not too long ago. 

Pinkel—Missouri's all-time winningest coach with 112 victories—has built a team capable of competing in the nation's best conference. He's done it by bringing in great quarterbacks (James Franklin, Maty Mauk) and piecing together solid defenses (the Tigers ranked 16th in total defense through 12 games). 

As Joe Walljasper of the Columbia Daily Tribune points out, Pinkel still demands more despite taking a team to two straight SEC title games. 

What's even better for the Tigers, is that most everybody that's made a difference on their team is coming back for the 2015 season. 

Mauk will be back at quarterback, where he'll have his first full season as the starter under his belt. This year, he's racked up 23 touchdowns through the air, another one on the ground, and 2,551 passing yards. 

So will running back Russell Hansbrough, who needs 30 yards to reach the 1,000-yard mark in Missouri's bowl game. That'll be huge for next year as Hansbrough's counterpart, Marcus Murphy, will graduate after this year. 

The top two tacklers for Missouri—linebackers Kentrell Brothers and Michael Scherer—are also projected to return in 2015. 

Whether Shane Ray, who CBS Sports projects as a top-10 pick in this spring's NFL draft, returns for his senior year or not remains to be seen. He's the leading sacker in the SEC, collecting 13.5 in the regular season. 

He could stay to improve his draft stock, which may be hurting after getting ejected for targeting on Saturday. Or he could cash in. 

Either way, the Tigers will still be stacked at linebacker with Brothers and Scherer. 

Aarion Penton, who has three picks this season—second on the team behind redshirt senior Braylon Webb—is also returning. 

The list goes on and on. But there's no denying that this team will be loaded with experience in 2015. 

It also helps that they're in the SEC East, the unquestioned little brother to the West. Instead of having Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and LSU every single season, they get Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee. 

That should bode well for a team that, while inconsistent at times, still won 10 games and the SEC East in 2014. We'll see what the ceiling is for Pinkel's team next year. 

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Bob Stoops to Blame for Oklahoma's Hugely Disappointing 2014 Season

The University of Oklahoma Sooners were one minute away from sealing their 11th victory in 12 years over the rival Oklahoma State University Cowboys.

Instead, Bob Stoops' team, with memories of Tyreek Hill's game-tying 92-yard punt return fresh in their minds, left Bedlam wondering, "What if?"

The 16th-year coach is the one most responsible for the Sooners' 38-35 overtime loss at Memorial Stadium. And, to be frank, he'll quickly become the scapegoat of Oklahoma's disappointing 8-4 campaign.

Samaje Perine exited the game during the third quarter due to an ankle injury, but the freshman running back left the Sooners with a 14-point lead after compiling 151 rushing yards and two scores.

From that moment on, however, Oklahoma's offense ultimately stagnated. The Sooners went three-and-out on seven of their final eight possessions. Sure, Keith Ford's 56-yard scamper set up an Aaron Ripkowski touchdown with approximately eight minutes on the clock, but the Cowboys controlled the remainder of the rivalry showdown.

Yet, Oklahoma State didn't play that well. The Pokes needed a miracle, but Oklahoma was the squad that provided it. The Sooners squandered numerous opportunities to seal the victory, including two offensive possessions and a defensive interception.

However, Stoops' decision to accept a running-into-the-kicker penalty with one minute left was simply terrible—not even in hindsight; it was awful live. Hill had fair-caught Jed Barnett's kick at the OSU 15-yard line, yet Stoops wanted to pin Oklahoma State farther back.

The OU coach inexplicably elected to give the Cowboys' explosive returner a second chance, and Hill ripped off a 92-yard return to tie the score.

But why? Mason Rudolph and Co. had to cover 85 yards and didn't have any timeouts as support. When trailing by 14 points, Rudolph had dropped back seven times and completed 2-of-6 passes, throwing one interception and drawing a sack.

From that distance and under those circumstances, Stoops shouldn't have been concerned about a major comeback. Arrogance veiled that poor decision, and the lack of late-game execution epitomized the 2014 season.

The Sooners opened the year as the No. 5 team in the nation, hyped by an outstanding Sugar Bowl triumph over Alabama to close the 2013 campaign.

Losing Trevor Knight undoubtedly hurt, but Baylor was already routing Oklahoma and eventually won 48-14—in Norman. Losing Perine was rough, but there was no legitimate reason for a collapse against Oklahoma State—in Norman.

The only teams Oklahoma actually dominated were Louisiana Tech, Tulsa, Iowa State and Kansas. They dropped three games at home for the first time in Stoops' tenure.

That's simply not getting it done at the school. Injuries certainly affected Oklahoma, but the Sooners threw away multiple opportunities to close out games.

So what's next for Stoops? Well, he could hang around OU, but the current staff isn't cutting it. The offense failed to click against top competition, and the defense was consistently overpowered in those games.

"Staying the same...doesn't appear to be an option," Matt Brown of Sports on Earth said. "Because fatigue with the current situation for all involved will only continue to grow."

After a 4-4 finish to a stretch the Sooners could've ended 7-1, Stoops will take the blame for the late-season struggles. Just as he should.


Follow Bleacher Report college football writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.

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Pregame Fireworks Leave Cloud of Smoke Before Florida State-Georgia Tech Game

The highly anticipated ACC championship game between Florida State and Georgia Tech started off with a bang.

Pregame fireworks resulted in a thick cloud of smoke that blinded players and fans.

The images are pretty incredible.


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Mountain West Championship: Fresno State vs. Boise State Live Score, Highlights

Boise State 21, Fresno State 0—Early 3rd Quarter

The No. 22 Boise State Broncos are pummeling the Fresno State Bulldogs in the 2014 Mountain West Conference.

CBS is broadcasting the title clash. Bleacher Report is providing live scoring updates and in-game analysis. Please add your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Eddie Goldman Injury: Updates on FSU Star's Foot and Return

Florida State University had a rough start the 2014 ACC Championship Game. Not only did the Seminoles dig themselves into a 7-0 hole, but they also lost Eddie Goldman in the process.

The FSU training staff carted the junior defensive tackle back to the locker room in the first quarter, per Ira Schoffel of Warchant.com:

Florida State provided an update at halftime:

NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah highlighted how important Goldman is to the Seminoles defense:

Georgia Tech's bread and butter is running the football. Florida State will have a harder time stopping the Yellow Jackets offense without Goldman's massive presence on the defensive line.

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Blake Sims, Alabama Peaking at Perfect Time for National Championship Run

ATLANTA — Saturday afternoon in the Georgia Dome was as much a coronation as it was a competition for Alabama.

The top-ranked Crimson Tide topped No. 16 Missouri 42-13 to claim the 2014 SEC title and punch their ticket to the inaugural College Football Playoff. 

The Crimson Tide jumped on Missouri early with a 10-play, 68-yard drive to open the game, built a 21-3 halftime lead and then shut the door late to earn the 24th conference title in program history.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of our team and our players," head coach Nick Saban said. "I don't know if I've ever been so anxious to win a game for a group of guys who did a phenomenal job all year long of working to improve, overcome adversity and did a great job with their competitive character in some really tough circumstances."

It was Alabama's finest hour, as the defense held Missouri to just 313 yards and got consistent pressure with four, while the offense torched Missouri's defense with 504 yards of its own.

With a semifinal in its future, Saban's team is peaking at the right time.

The game served as a validation of sorts for head coach Nick Saban, who was heavily criticized in the offseason for the hiring of new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

"I think I got exactly what I expected," Saban said on Friday. "I don't think anybody else expected what I expected, to the point where I even got criticized for doing it by a lot of people."

Under the direction of Kiffin, quarterback Blake Sims sliced and diced the Missouri defense early, completing his first nine passes and finishing the afternoon 23-of-27 for 262 yards and two touchdowns.

Just how good has Kiffin been this year?

Sims now has 3,250 yards this season, eclipsing former quarterback AJ McCarron for the most single-season passing yards in program history. As Marquavius Burnett of The Anniston Star notes, it's just the latest single-season program record to fall this season:

The work Kiffin has done with Sims has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Nobody except Sims and possibly his family expected him to be the Crimson Tide starting quarterback on Sept. 6, much less Dec. 6. All Sims has done is evolve into the SEC's most efficient passer and earn MVP honors in the biggest game of the season—just down the road from his hometown of Gainesville, Georgia. 

"I don't know if I've ever seen a player go through as much as Blake went through for four years," Saban said. "Never once did he not do whatever he needed to do to help the team. He played on [the] scout team so many times when we played against zone-read quarterbacks—never complained about it.

"I've never seen a guy work so hard from last spring when he had the opportunity, through the summer and into fall camp, and get the confidence of his players and execute well."

In short, Sims earned moments like the one below, which I captured shortly after the clock struck zero inside the Georgia Dome.

It also is a great sign for Alabama moving forward.

There's no small game for the Alabama football program, but Kiffin and Saban put the ball in Sims' hands early, and he responded in a big way, completing his first nine passes to soften up the Missouri defense.

This is what Alabama football is now. If Kiffin wants to pass to set up the run, the Crimson Tide have the quarterback, receivers and system to do it. 

That flexibility will be invaluable moving forward. With Oregon likely in and TCU and Baylor competing for the two other spots in the playoff, there's a pretty good chance Alabama will have to open things up at times. 

After winning a shootout last week against Auburn and following it up by putting the biggest game of the season in the Sims' hands early, this team knows it can do it.

Alabama's offense has continued to progress all season long and is hitting its peak now.

That sound you hear is the sound of other defensive coordinators shaking.


Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Who Deserves the No. 1 Seed in the College Football Playoff?

Alabama and Oregon both won their respective conference titles in convincing fashion. As a result, the debate rages on about who should be the top team for the first-ever College Football Playoff.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder discusses who he believes should be the No. 1 seed for the CFP.

Who is your No. 1 team?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma: Game Grades, Analysis for Cowboys and Sooners

The Oklahoma State University Cowboys (6-6, 4-5) defeated the University of Oklahoma Sooners (8-4, 5-4) in overtime on Saturday, 38-35, to win the Battle of Bedlam and become bowl-eligible.

Down 28-14 midway through the fourth quarter, freshman quarterback Mason Rudolph hit Brandon Sheperd for a 43-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 35-28. Then the Cowboys forced a three-and-out to get the ball back. From there, junior all-purpose back Tyreek Hill took the Oklahoma punt 92 yards for the touchdown to tie the game with about one minute remaining.

Ben Grogan won it in overtime with a 20-yard field goal for the Cowboys after Oklahoma just missed a field goal wide-left. 

Here is how both Oklahoma State and Oklahoma graded out after Saturday's game with a brief analysis on each positional unit.  


Oklahoma State Cowboys Game Grades Analysis:

Pass Offense: Rudolph was solid throughout the game. He took at least two sacks that he shouldn't have, but overall, he was poised in the pocket and made several strong throws.

Run Offense: The Cowboys did a good job running the football. They weren't overly explosive, but Desmond Roland's 22 yards in overtime clinched this win for Oklahoma State. 

Pass Defense: It's tough to grade OSU's secondary, as Oklahoma didn't really challenge them. Just about everything was underneath. No mistakes, though. 

Run Defense: Oklahoma's offensive line dominated this game for over three quarters. However, when the Cowboys needed a stop late in the fourth quarter, they stopped the Sooners and forced the game-tying punt return. 

Special Teams: Hill won this game with his punt return. Outside of that, it was a pretty quiet game for OSU on special teams. That is not always a bad thing. 

Coaching: Mike Gundy and his staff made several gutsy calls on both sides of the ball. And Gundy's faith in Rudolph appears well-placed at this point. 


Oklahoma Sooners Game Grades Analysis:

Pass Offense: Cody Thomas was efficient early, hitting his first six passes. However, he completed only four of his final 11 passes. He never threatened the Cowboys down the field.

Run Offense: Samaje Perine was dominant yet again. Unfortunately for the Sooners, he went down in the second half when they needed him the most. Overall, Oklahoma ran for over 300 yards. 

Pass Defense: Outside of the deep ball to Sheperd in the fourth quarter, OU's secondary played a good game. The Sooners pressured Rudolph, but they only forced him into one big mistake. 

Run Defense: The Sooners did a solid job of stuffing Oklahoma State's running game until the overtime period. Then OU could not stop Roland, who set up the game-winning field goal. 

Special Teams: There were two disastrous plays for the Sooners on special teams: Hill's punt return for a touchdown and Michael Hunnicutt's missed field goal in overtime. 

Coaching: Bob Stoops' decision to kick it to Hill may have cost his team the game. Had Stoops told his punter to kick it out of bounds or toward the sideline, Oklahoma State probably doesn't drive the entire length of the field with no timeouts and under one minute remaining. 

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Alabama vs. Missouri: Score and Twitter Reaction from SEC Championship 2014

For the third time since Nick Saban took over as head coach in 2007, the Alabama Crimson Tide are SEC champions. The top-ranked team in the country dominated on both sides of the ball to upend Missouri 42-13 and finish the regular season 12-1. 

In addition to securing its spot in the College Football Playoff, Alabama had two players make history in Atlanta. Quarterback Blake Sims, who wasn't the favorite to win the starting job out of camp, set a new school record for passing yards in the second quarter, per SEC on CBS:

Sims broke AJ McCarron's record of 3,063 yards, set last year. The senior finished the game with 262 passing yards, giving him 3,250 for the season, and he has a chance to break McCarron's single-season record for touchdown passes (30) in the playoff. Sims entered the SEC Championship with 24 and added two more Saturday. 

If that's not enough, Sims also set an SEC Championship Game record for completion percentage (85.2) by going 23-of-27, per Cecil Hurt of The Tuscaloosa News: 

All eyes were on Sims when the game started, especially since he threw three interceptions against Auburn in the Iron Bowl before turning a corner in the third quarter. 

Alabama head coach Nick Saban told Alex Scarborough of ESPN.com earlier in the week that he's seen Sims get rattled when the spotlight is on.

"Sometimes, it's a big game, and he starts putting a lot [of] pressure on himself, and he gets a little anxious," Saban said. "I don't think he really processes and makes as good of decisions when he gets like that...He's gotten in that mode a little bit sometimes, and it was good to see him snap out of it." 

Amari Cooper also had a day to remember, as he has so often in 2014. The Heisman contender broke the SEC single-season record for receptions, set last year by Jordan Matthews at Vanderbilt, per ESPN Stats & Info:

After Cooper broke the record, Matthews took to Twitter to congratulate his fellow wide receiver and challenge him to take on another achievement:

For the record, Matthews' career yardage total is 3,759. Cooper entered the game with 3,309 yards in three years and added 83 on Saturday, so there's a possibility he could break it, but he would likely need two more games to get there. 

No Alabama game would be complete without a dominant rushing effort. It was Derrick Henry—not T.J. Yeldon—who lit up the stat sheet with 141 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. He also put the nail in Missouri's coffin with a 26-yard touchdown run that was summed up nicely by Hurt:

Quarterback Maty Mauk and Missouri looked disheveled from the start. It would only get worse, especially in the second quarter. Star defensive end Shane Ray, who led the SEC in sacks, was ejected for a targeting hit on Sims, via LostLetterman.com on Twitter:

Tony Barnhart of The SEC Network noted that it was the right call made by the officials:

While it doesn't change the loss in this game for Missouri, Barnhart also added that Ray will be eligible to play the entirety of the Tigers' bowl game since his ejection came in the first half:

On offense, Missouri was lifeless most of the game. Per Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com, the Tigers had only 108 yards in the first half and Alabama held the ball for nine more minutes:

The Tigers' first touchdown opportunity was at the start of the second half, when Mauk finally made a play with his arm and hit Jimmie Hunt for a 63-yard gain to Alabama's 1-yard line. Their best play all game was having Mauk throw the ball up to allow Hunt a chance to catch it, as this stat from the SEC Network shows: 

A senior receiver, Hunt came into the SEC Championship Game with one 100-yard game this season against Tennessee on November 22. He had more than 100 yards in the third quarter alone against 'Bama, adding another reception for 47 yards later in the quarter. 

The Tigers converted on fourth down after the Crimson Tide defense held the three previous plays to make it 21-10, though that would be their only touchdown drive of the game. 

Missouri added a field goal in the third quarter that cut the lead to 21-13, but Alabama put together a 64-yard drive that ended with a six-yard touchdown catch for Christion Jones on the first play of the fourth quarter. 

With the victory, Alabama can sit back to see who its opponent will be on January 1. Barring something unexpected, the Crimson Tide should end up as the No. 1 seed in the rankings, which means a date against the No. 4 seed at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. 

Not that the Crimson Tide need extra motivation, but the Superdome is where Oklahoma upset them last year. 


If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter. 

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Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma: Score and Twitter Reaction

In one of the most exciting Bedlam games ever, Oklahoma State shocked No. 20 Oklahoma 38-35 in overtime Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma.

The victory represented the Cowboys’ second Bedlam triumph over the Sooners in 12 seasons, and their first win over Oklahoma away from home since 2001.

As the Big 12 Conference's Twitter account pointed out, Oklahoma State's clutch victory means it is bowl eligible at 6-6:

Unfortunately, Oklahoma's loss was even tougher for the Sooners to swallow, as superstar freshman running back Samaje Perine was forced to leave the game in the third quarter with an apparent leg injury, per The Oklahoman:

Much of the talk entering the game focused on the freshman quarterbacks on either side. Cody Thomas registered his third consecutive start under center for the Sooners as Trevor Knight remained out with a neck injury, according to Tom Fornelli of CBSSports.com.

As for the Cowboys, Mason Rudolph drew his second straight start after an impressive showing against Baylor two weeks earlier. ESPN.com's Brandon Chatmon is among those who believe Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy waited too long to play him over struggling junior Daxx Garman:

Despite the quarterback talk, it was all about the running game early on for the Sooners. After taking the opening kickoff, Oklahoma engineered a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to take a 7-0 lead.

Per Kyle Fredrickson of The Oklahoman, the Sooners marched down the field by solely utilizing their running backs:

Chief among them was Perine, who scored the touchdown and put up some big numbers en route to it, according to Ryan Aber of The Oklahoman:

Oklahoma State's defense allowing the Sooners to score so quickly certainly didn't seem to impact the psyche of the Cowboys offense. In fact, OK State nearly matched Oklahoma's efficiency on its first drive of the game, as a one-yard touchdown run by senior running back Desmond Roland capped a nine-play, 77-yard series.

The Cowboys' drive was predicated largely on the aerial game, though, as Rudolph racked up 57 passing yards.

Following a pair of unsuccessful drives, Oklahoma once again started to move the ball late in the first quarter. This time, it was Thomas who did the bulk of the damage. 

The freshman signal-caller threw for 74 yards on the drive, including a 47-yard completion to senior tight end Blake Bell. Senior fullback Aaron Ripkowski scored a one-yard touchdown plunge on the 13th play of the drive to put the Sooners back on top 14-7.

That advantage was short-lived, however, as Oklahoma's defensive deficiencies returned on the ensuing series. It took the Cowboys less than three minutes to equalize with Rudolph finding junior wide receiver Brandon Sheperd for a 39-yard scoring strike.

As pointed out by John Klein of the Tulsa World, Rudolph's masterful command of the OK State offense was a sudden revelation after it struggled without him for most of the season:

Unfortunately for Rudolph and the offense, Oklahoma State's defense and special teams didn't hold up their end of the bargain for the remainder of the opening half.

After the Cowboys' touchdown tied the game at 14-14, a short kickoff allowed Oklahoma to start at its own 45. Perine was once again the focus on this drive, as he totaled 20 yards on the ground and drew a 15-yard face mask penalty before scoring from nine yards out.

An Oklahoma State three-and-out quickly put the ball back in Oklahoma's possession, and it made no mistake. A 42-yard run by Perine got the Sooners deep in Cowboys territory, which allowed Ripkowski to get in the end zone for the second time on a two-yard reception.

Oklahoma entered the locker room with a 28-14 lead due largely to Perine's 126-yard effort. According to Bob Barry Jr. of KFOR, Perine made Sooners history with the most prolific three-game stretch ever by an Oklahoma running back:

Perine was well on his way to another huge statistical day after running for 213 and an NCAA-record 427 yards in his previous two outings. Per The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey, it took the Sooners some time, but they finally put together a winning formula offensively:

In some ways, the Cowboys may have been their own worst enemy in the first half from a defensive standpoint. While it can be argued that Thomas' efficiency prevented them from selling out to stop the run, Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer made it clear prior to the game that his defense wouldn't be single-minded, according to Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman.

People don't realize that. They think, just load the box and you can stop the run. That's a fallacy. The quarterback can pull it and run it, numbers are back even, unless you want to leave one uncovered on the edge, and you don't' do that, right? Come sit in the film room and watch it with me for about an hour, and I can show you how difficult it is when people can get blocked and a running back who can make people miss and quarterback who can run it.

That failure to stop the run ultimately didn't work in Oklahoma State's favor in the first half, and it certainly put it at a disadvantage entering the third quarter.

While both teams were able to move the ball at various points throughout the third quarter, neither could manage to get on the scoreboard. The Sooners appeared to be heading toward at least a field goal with a 14-play drive early in the second half, but Perine fumbled on the Oklahoma State 29.

Per Aber, a pair of firsts occurred on that particular play:

More importantly, though, Perine was injured in the midst of fumbling. It looked serious as he favored his ankle, but he managed to go to the locker room under his own power, according to John E. Hoover of the Tulsa World:

It remains to be seen how significant the ailment is, but Perine did not return to the contest. He racked up 151 rushing yards before his injury.

The Sooners led by 14 when Perine left the game, but it was blatantly obvious that the Oklahoma offense wasn't the same without him. In fact, the Sooners had a pair of three-and-outs in its first two possessions following the injury.

With OU's offense scuffling, it opened the door for OK State to make a run. That is precisely what it did on its first drive of the final frame, as it orchestrated a seven-play, 79-yard foray down the field, culminating in Roland's second touchdown run of the game to make it 28-21.

That score seemed to swing the momentum in the Cowboys' favor, which meant the pressure was on Oklahoma to stop the bleeding, per Hoover:

To say that the Sooners responded would be a major understatement. A 56-yard run by Perine's replacement, sophomore Keith Ford, put Oklahoma deep in Cowboys territory. Shortly after that, Ripkowski found paydirt for the third time, which restored the Sooners' 14-point cushion at 35-21.

Just when it seemed like the game was well in hand, a quick-strike drive from Oklahoma State tightened things up again. A poor Sooners punt allowed the Cowboys to start from their own 43, and Oklahoma State was in the end zone two players later when Rudolph hit Sheperd for 43 yards.

According to Cliff Brunt of the Associated Press, that play contributed to a career-best day for Sheperd:

Oklahoma got the ball back with a chance to salt the game away, but it could only muster a three-and-out, which took just 55 seconds off the clock. That meant the Cowboys would have an opportunity to tie it starting from their own 27 with a tad less than four minutes remaining.

The Sooners got a big play when they needed it, though, as sophomore cornerback Zack Sanchez picked off Rudolph with roughly three minutes left.

Per Josh McCuistion of Rivals.com, it was an example of Sanchez's gambling paying off:

Most people probably assumed the game was over, but Oklahoma couldn't get a first down and had to punt again to the Cowboys. That proved costly, as junior wide receiver Tyreek Hill amazingly took Jed Barnett's punt 92 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 35-35 with only 45 seconds remaining in regulation.

That play sent the game into overtime. The Sooners got the ball first and lost two yards, so they had to settle for a 44-yard field goal attempt by kicker Michael Hunnicutt. He was unable to covert, which meant Oklahoma State needed just three points to complete the comeback.

The Cowboys didn't let that opportunity slip through their fingers, as sophomore kicker Ben Grogan converted a 21-yard field goal to cap the improbable victory.

Winning a rivalry game is always a big deal, but Saturday's win was especially meaningful for Oklahoma State since it gives the Cowboys a 6-6 record, making them bowl eligible.

As for Oklahoma, the loss certainly hurts, but concern over Perine’s health may take precedence. More will probably be known about his status in the coming days, but there is certainly no guarantee that he'll be ready to go for Oklahoma's bowl game.

This defeat may very well knock the Sooners out of the Top 25, though, and it will most likely negatively impact their attractiveness in terms of a bowl bid.

The Cowboys aren’t necessarily guaranteed a spot in a bowl since there are so many bowl-eligible teams, but their win Saturday was so impressive that they should be able to extend their bowl streak to nine years. 


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