Florida-Oklahoma in Cotton Bowl dozen years after title game

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

ARLINGTON, Texas — Dan Mullen has been part of two national championships with Florida, the last for the Gators coming in a win over Oklahoma in his final game as their offensive coordinator before leaving for his first head coaching job.

That BCS National Championship game 12 seasons ago was the only meeting between the No. 8 Sooners and No. 10 Florida before they play in the Cotton Bowl on Wednesday night. While outside of the College Football Playoff, it will be the first New Year’s Six bowl game played in this pandemic-affected season.

“This being our third straight New Year’s Six bowl game, I think the program’s right there and competing with all the top teams in the country,” said Mullen, in his third season as Florida’s head coach after nine seasons at Mississippi State. “And you look at that and as you talk about it, you look at the margin for error to go win championships is extremely small.”

Florida (8-3, No. 7 CFP), which will be without its top four receivers in the Cotton Bowl and has only about 60 scholarship players, lost 52-46 to No. 1 Alabama in the SEC championship game. Its other losses were both by three points – on a game-ending field goal at No. 5 Texas A&M, and when LSU kicked a field goal with 23 seconds left in the Gators’ home finale.

The Sooners (8-2, No. 6 CFP) are back in the NFL stadium where they won their sixth consecutive Big 12 championship earlier this month. They have a seven-game winning streak since losing their first two conference games, but coach Lincoln Riley said he will also look back at this season and be proud of what all of college football accomplished despite COVID-19.

“We have the worst possible setup to make it during a pandemic, with a lot of times community living, just the way our programs are set up, guys still having to go to school,” Riley said. “It’s not the ideal sport to survive during a pandemic, and we’ve found a way to do it.”

Heisman Trophy finalist Kyle Trask is the nation’s top passer with 375 yards per game and 43 touchdowns. Florida’s All-American tight end Kyle Pitts opted out after the SEC title game before receivers Trevon Grimes and Kadarius Toney announced Monday they were skipping the game to prepare for their NFL futures. Then receiver Jacob Copeland didn’t make the trip after testing positive for COVID-19.

Oklahoma senior cornerback Tre Brown, who had the game-clinching interception in the 27-21 win over No. 12 Iowa State in the Big 12 title game on Dec. 19, opted out to focused on the NFL draft. Backup quarterback Tanner Mordecai and running back T.J. Pledger announced they are transferring.

“There’s a big percentage of both of our football teams that are going to be pretty excited to play this football game,” Riley said. “So I tend to go with the majority, and think these (bowl) games are still pretty darned important.”


Spencer Rattler is the fourth different starting QB in as many seasons to lead Oklahoma to a Big 12 title and New Year’s Six game. The redshirt freshman is the first to start his career with the Sooners instead of transferring into the program. Rattler was the first-team AP All-Big 12 quarterback after throwing for 2,784 yards and 25 TDs, the most nationally for a freshman.


Oklahoma defensive end Ronnie Perkins and running back Rhamondre Stevenson missed the Peach Bowl last year because of suspensions that carried over through the first five games of this season.

Stevenson is OU’s leading rusher, with 479 yards and six touchdowns in his five games, while Perkins has 9 1/2 tackles for loss and 5 1/2 quarterback sacks in that same span.

“That feeling last year is a feeling I almost never experienced before. Like, it hurt me, my family, my teammates, just not being able to do what I love,” Stevenson said. “So, yeah, it means a lot being able to play in this bowl game.”


Florida is the SEC leader with 33 sacks. Oklahoma has 30 in its last seven games and is the Big 12 sacks leader with 36 overall.


Oklahoma is in its sixth consecutive New Year’s Six game, the fourth in a row since Riley became head coach. The Sooners lost the last three, all College Football Playoff semifinal games against different SEC teams. … Florida is playing its third NY6 game in a row under Mullen, with wins in the Orange Bowl last year and the Peach Bowl in 2018.


Florida quarterback Tim Tebow threw two touchdowns in a 24-14 win over Oklahoma and Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford in the BCS Championship Game on Jan. 8, 2009, in Miami. Bradford won the Heisman as a sophomore, the year after Tebow was the first sophomore winner.

South Carolina gives AD Tanner raise, two-year extension

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner received a two-year contract extension that ties him to the school through June 2026.

Tanner, 64, is a two-time College World Series champion as the Gamecocks’ baseball coach who moved to leading the athletic department in July 2012.

The new deal was approved by the school’s board of trustees Friday and replaces Tanner’s old agreement that was set to expire in June 2024. Tanner will receive a raise of more than $153,000 per season, increasing his total compensation to $1.175 million.

Tanner has had his ups and downs leading the department. He took over when football coach Steve Spurrier was in the middle of three straight 11-2 seasons with players like defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney and receiver Alshon Jeffrey.

Tanner’s hire to replace Spurrier, Will Muschamp, lasted less than five seasons before he was let go in the middle of 2020. Muschamp’s replacement, current coach Shane Beamer, has had back-to-back winning seasons and been to a bowl game his first two yeas.

Tanner has also overseen the rise of women’s basketball under coach Dawn Staley, who signed a seven-year contract before the 2021-22 season worth $22.4 million. Staley and the Gamecocks won the national title last April and are favorites to repeat this season.

Michigan RB Blake Corum says he’ll be back by fall camp

1 Comment

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan All-America running back Blake Corum said his surgically repaired left knee has gotten strong enough that he’s been cleared to run on an anti-gravity treadmill next week.

Corum said that he is “100%” sure he will play in the season-opening game on Sept. 2 against East Carolina

Corum tore a meniscus and sprained a ligament in his left knee against Illinois on Nov. 19. After playing sparingly against Ohio State, he sat out when the Wolverines won the Big Ten title and advanced to the College Football Playoff semifinals.

Instead of entering the NFL draft, Corum decided to stay in school for his senior year.

“Feeling great all-around mentally, physically spiritually,” Corum told The Associated Press.

The 5-foot-8, 210-pound Corum ran for 1,463 yards and 18 touchdowns last season and had 952 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2021.

“I’ll be back definitely by fall camp,” he said. “I plan on doing everything in the summer workouts, depending on on what doctor says. He told me I shouldn’t be cutting until maybe June. I’m taking my time, but I will be ready by the season.”

Corum will be watching when his teammates face each each other in the Maize and Blue spring game on April 1 at Michigan Stadium.