Oklahoma State, Baylor favorites in Week 11

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The Oklahoma State Cowboys will try to continue their rise up the rankings when they visit the Iowa State Cyclones on Saturday as 14-point betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Cowboys climbed seven positions to No. 5 in the AP Top 25 rankings this week following their stunning 49-29 win over TCU, picking up their fourth straight against the spread victory while pegged as 6.5-point underdogs.

Undefeated Oklahoma State takes an 11-game straight up win streak into Saturday afternoon’s Cowboys vs. Cyclones betting matchup at Jack Trice Stadium, but maintain just a half-game lead atop over the Baylor Bears atop the Big 12 conference standings.

It has been another rough season for the Cyclones, who are 3-6 SU after tallying just two total wins a year ago.

The team is a respectable 3-3 ATS in their last six, all against Big 12 rivals, including a 24-0 victory over Texas as 3.5-point underdogs two weeks ago, but has just one SU and ATS win in their last six against the Cowboys, beaten by an average margin of 29.4 points in those five losses.

Meanwhile, No. 4 Baylor will look to keep pace with the Cowboys in the Big 12 standings when they battle No. 10 Oklahoma this week as slim 3-point chalk.

The Bears picked up an important 31-24 win over Kansas State last week to improve to 8-0 SU, but failed to cover a 17-point spread for their second straight ATS loss.

Jarrett Stidham threw for 419 yards and three touchdowns in his first appearance as the Bears’ starting pivot. However, the team’s 38 points scored against Kansas State marks their lowest offensive output since their meeting with the Wildcats in last season’s regular season finale.

The 8-1 Sooners need a victory to remain in contention for top spot in the Big 12. Oklahoma has won four straight SU and ATS, but has dropped three of four to the Bears, ending a 14-game win streak.

The Horned Frogs will try to bounce back from their loss to the Sooners when they battle the hapless Kansas Jayhawks as 44.5-point chalk this week. The loss ended No. 13 TCU’s 16-game SU win streak, while the Jayhawks travel to Fort Worth searching for their first SU win in their last 13.

In other Week 11 college football betting action, No. 3 Alabama visits No. 20 Mississippi State as 7.5-point chalk, No. 2 Ohio State is favored by 16.5 over Illinois, and No. 1 Clemson visits Syracuse as a 28-point favorite.

‘Match made in heaven’: Deion Sanders to coach Jackson State

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JACKSON, Miss. — Deion Sanders wiped away tears of joy and passion before speaking.

Jackson State’s new football coach then stated “I believe” many times about what he envisions happening on and off the field.

“I have a commitment to excellence in each and every thing I do,” the Hall of Fame cornerback said during his introduction as the Tigers’ 21st head coach, a number also significant because of his jersey number and Monday’s date.

“We’re going to win. We’re going to look good while we win, and we’re going to have a good time while we win.”

Sanders’ introduction followed his announcement Sunday night. The player known as “Prime Time” added: “Isn’t this the time? Isn’t this the moment? Isn’t this what’s needed? It’s a match made in heaven.”

Currently the offensive coordinator at Trinity Christian School-Cedar Hill in Texas, Sanders is taking his first head coaching job.

“I’ve been offered pro jobs,” Sanders added, “so people know I could be an assistant in any college.”

The Southwestern Athletic Conference school introduced Sanders with the trademark pomp of a historically Black university. Its marching band led a police-escorted motorcade into an arena with a boisterous yet socially distanced audience. “Coach Prime” later opened a blue blazer lined with the JSU logo to much applause.

Acting Jackson State President Thomas Hudson called the hiring “the grace of God” and cited the school’s football history in landing Sanders.

“These things just come together,” Hudson added, crediting athletic director Ashley Robinson and alumni. “We’re just so very fortunate to really be in this space and have a man like this joining us.”

In a statement, Robinson said, “We expect to compete for and win championships at Jackson State, and Coach Sanders will help us achieve those goals.”

Sanders replaces John Hendrick, whose contract was not renewed this summer after going 6-9 and 5-5 in SWAC play. Sanders will begin coaching this spring after the SWAC postponed fall sports because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tigers plan to begin an eight-game schedule in February.

He takes over a Tigers program that has produced fellow Hall of Famers such as Walter Payton, Lem Barney, Jackie Slater and Robert Brazile.

Sanders was a two-time All-American at Florida State before a standout NFL career with five teams including the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, winning a Super Bowl with each. He also earned eight Pro Bowl and nine first-team All-Pro selections during a career in which he also returned kicks and punts and played wide receiver. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

Sanders also played nine seasons with four clubs in Major League Baseball, appearing in the 1992 World Series with the Atlanta Braves.

No. 1 Clemson, Swinney worried about COVID during bye week

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Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has few worries about his football team on the field. Off it? That’s another story.

Swinney is concerned that the top-ranked Tigers’ bye week – especially with players getting Friday and Saturday off – could result in the team having more contact with people and increase players’ risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

“Probably the same primary concern of every coach out there,” Swinney said.

So far, so good.

The Tigers (2-0), like all Atlantic Coast Conference teams, are getting tested three times a week and have had no positives through the first two games.

“Our protocol’s been really, really good,” Swinney said Tuesday. “I trust them. It’s not like we get them all day, every day. We get them for about four hours max. So the other 20 hours comes down to trust, discipline and sacrifice.”

Clemson will practice three days this week and have a team function Tuesday in place of its usual community service day during a week off. The team will reconvene after its break Sunday to get tested and start preparing to face Virginia on Oct. 3.

The Tigers are motivated to do everything the right way as they pursue championship goals they missed out on last year by falling to LSU in the national title game, cornerback Sheridan Jones said.

“It’s having faith over fear,” Jones said. “Faith that we are going to have a season. Moving at that pace with that mindset has helped us to work day in, day out and stay focused on the task at hand.”

Clemson has looked like a team on a mission. The Tigers have had easy wins over Wake Forest and The Citadel, beating the Bulldogs 49-0 this past Saturday for their first shutout in four years.

Their play has been so efficient and effective, Swinney is having difficulty picking it apart.

The offense, led by Heisman Trophy favorite Trevor Lawrence, has blitzed both opponents while the first-team defense has played at a championship level. Swinney and his staff have been able to play backups for significant stretches.

“We played 13 linebackers (against The Citadel) and about every D-lineman we had,” Swinney said.

On special teams, B.T. Potter has made all three of his field goals and had touchbacks on his nine kickoffs. Travis Etienne and Amari Rodgers are helping Clemson average nearly 18 yards on punt returns.

Defensive tackle Jordan Williams said as well as the team has performed, it’s time for a break. The long summer camp with all the questions about whether Clemson would even play football was draining and stressful.

“It’s definitely something we all need,” Williams said. “It’s something that’s going to help us grow.”

The team had a spike in COVID-19 cases when it returned for summer workouts in June (37 of 43 positive tests among Clemson athletes were football players). Since then, Williams said players have bought into doing what it takes to continue the season.

“That’s what’s pushed us,” Williams said.

Clemson has had some issues related to COVID-19. Expected starting defensive end Xaiver Thomas took a redshirt season because he caught the virus in the spring and it took a toll on his conditioning. Swinney said Thomas is getting his fitness back and is preparing to play later this season.

Swinney said the program has planned for nearly every virus-related health scenario, including what it would do if Swinney tested positive.

He not sharing, though.

“It’s top secret. I’ve got it tucked away in a drawer in a glass case that says, `Break only if needed,”‘ he said.