Sanders, Oklahoma State beat Miami 37-34 in Cheez-It Bowl

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
5 Comments

ORLANDO, Fla. — Oklahoma State went to the air early and often to finish its season on a high note.

Spencer Sanders threw for 305 yards and four touchdowns, and the Cowboys held off No. 18 Miami for a 37-34 victory in the Cheez-It Bowl on Tuesday.

Oklahoma State (8-3) called 15 consecutive pass plays to open the game and stormed out to a 21-0 lead. Sanders threw TD passes of 30 and 32 yards to Brennan Presley, and LD Brown had a 2-yard touchdown run.

“Our game plan going in was to try to offset some of the speed and strength they have in the front six,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “They are a fast, athletic team. We wanted to throw the ball 25 times in the first half.”

Sanders also led the Cowboys with 45 yards rushing and was named Most Valuable Player.

“That MVP doesn’t just go to me,” Sanders said. “The defense stopped them when they needed to stop them. We scored when we needed to score. I told them that this MVP is for everyone.”

Presley caught a third touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to put Oklahoma State up 37-26. He finished with six receptions for 118 yards. Tay Martin had six catches for 73 yards, and Dillon Stoner also caught a touchdown pass.

“We have a bunch of weapons,” Sanders said. “We have guys you haven’t even seen yet and guys that didn’t get many touches. Putting Brennan with that group makes it that much better.”

Miami (8-3) got on the board in the second quarter when D'Eriq King threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Brevin Jordan. But King left with a right knee injury with 4:06 remaining in the first half. Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz said he will be evaluated Wednesday.

King, who transferred to Miami from Houston before the season, announced last week that he would be returning to Miami and for a sixth season of college football.

“It’s harsh … a year that’s had so much adversity, for a guy that’s done everything right,” Diaz said. “Hopefully we’ll get good news tomorrow.”

The Hurricanes rallied behind backup quarterback N'Kosi Perry, who threw for 228 yards and two touchdowns. Cam'Ron Harris‘ 42-yard touchdown run made it 21-19 in the third quarter, but Jordan came up short on the 2-point conversion.

“The guys rallied around N’Kosi and did a great job,” Diaz said. “He looked like a guy that played a lot of ball and the team had confidence that they could move the ball with him.”

Perry’s 5-yard TD pass to Michael Harley helped the Hurricanes close to 37-34 with 5:39 left. But he misfired on six of his final nine passes, and his 6-yard pass to Michael Redding III was not enough to convert a fourth-and-9 with under two minutes remaining.

PLAYING IT SAFE

Oklahoma State wide receiver Tylan Wallace had six catches for 45 yards in just one half of action. That was the tentative plan, according to Gundy.

“We just talked with him and at some point we wanted to get some players in the game that were going to be here next year and we wanted to protect him,” Gundy said. “I’m not going to say that what happened with Miami’s quarterback didn’t have a little bit of effect on that.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Oklahoma State was unranked coming into the game, but likely will make the final Top 25 of the season.

Miami, ranked No. 18, could be out of the final rankings after consecutive losses.

STREAKS AND STATS

Oklahoma State has won four of its past five bowl games. … Miami has lost five consecutive bowl games and 11 of its past 12. … Jordan had eight catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns. … Miami defensive back Te'Cory Couch had 9 1/2 tackles, but was flagged for pass interference three times in the third quarter.

UP NEXT

Oklahoma State should have a dynamic offense with Spencer returning at quarterback when it opens next season against Missouri State.

Miami has to hope King’s injury isn’t serious enough to keep him out of spring practice because the Hurricanes open next season against Alabama in Atlanta.

Air Force football sanctioned for recruiting violations

air force
Peter Joneleit/Getty Images
0 Comments

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — The Air Force football program received two years of probation from the NCAA and had its squad size reduced by 10 for four years as part of its sanctions for recruiting violations.

The penalties were announced Thursday after Air Force and four individuals reached an agreement with NCAA enforcement staff on recruiting violations. A fifth individual in the case has contested their role and will be heard by the committee on infractions.

The sanctions also include a fine and a reduction of 46 total official visits for the football program in the 2022-23 and `23-24 academic years. In addition, there’s a prohibition on unofficial visits in football from Sept. 1 through Oct. 12, 2022, and a reduced number of evaluation days this fall.

Air Force has around 115 players on its varsity roster, plus a JV team that all count as NCAA athletes and its roster size.

“The (committee) appreciates the parties’ efforts in working collaboratively together to reach agreement on the violations, levels, classifications, and significant and meaningful penalties,” Gary Miller, the chief hearing officer for the panel and president at Akron, said in a statement. “The panel also recognizes that Air Force has gone above and beyond in its overall approach to this case.”

In a joint statement, Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark and director of athletics Nathan Pine said: “The U.S. Air Force Academy is pleased that our case has progressed to the point of the NCAA accepting our negotiated resolution. We will continue working with the NCAA on this ongoing self-reported case from the COVID dead period, as it’s our responsibility to ensure integrity of the institution, athletics department, cadet-athletes and staff.”

The Falcons are off to a 3-1 start and host Navy on Saturday to begin the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy competition. The trophy is presented to the service academy with the best record in the round-robin format.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

florida gators
Donald Page/Getty Images
0 Comments

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”