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West Virginia Sports

No. 15 Virginia Tech, WVU battle for Black Diamond Trophy

By JOHN RABY AP Sports Writer
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — The Black Diamond Trophy has been in No. 15 Virginia Tech’s possession since the current players were preschoolers.
It’s time to dust off the prize that has symbolized the rivalry between the Hokies (2-0) and West Virginia (1-1), which began in 1912 but has been played sparingly of late. What’s just as important is the momentum that would come from a win Saturday.
West Virginia is looking for any kind of an edge entering Big 12 play in a league it hasn’t yet captured since joining in 2012.
The Hokies have their highest ranking since rising to No. 12 in 2018 and are hoping to return to the top 10 for the first time since an 11-win season in 2011.
“If we go out here and we get this win, it will show that we’re a real football team, that we’re a team that should be reckoned with,” said Virginia Tech center Brock Hoffman.
It’s the first road game of the season for Virginia Tech and it happens to be West Virginia’s first sellout in two years. Last year’s crowds were dramatically reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I know the environment will be electric and emotions will run high,” said Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente. “We’re excited for the opportunity, the challenge, to take this team on the road in a hostile environment and see how we can perform.”
This series was played every year from 1973 to 2005. It stepped up in intensity after Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer took over in 1987 — he went 12-7 against the Mountaineers.
The Hokies left the Big East after the 2003 season to join the Atlantic Coast Conference. That’s the last time West Virginia beat them, when the four-loss Mountaineers shocked No. 3-ranked Virginia Tech 28-7 in Morgantown.
This is the first meeting between the schools since 2017 and in Morgantown since 2005. West Virginia defensive analyst Jeff Casteel was an assistant for the Mountaineers from 2001 to 2011 before returning a year ago. He’s been coach Neal Brown’s point man on showing the players what the series is about.
MORE ON THE TROPHY
Culling the internet might be the only way that some players and fans will learn about the Black Diamond Trophy, which was introduced in 1997 and is a nod to the region’s rich history with coal.
Just as the trophy has been on a shelf, the coal industry has experienced a huge downturn with the closing of mines and the loss of thousands of jobs.
“By my calculation, Virginia Tech’s had possession of the Black Diamond Trophy for over 6,000 days now,” Brown said. “That’s a long time.”
STOUT DEFENSE
Both teams were solid on defense last week against outmatched opponents. In two games Virginia Tech has allowed just three touchdowns and has piled up nine sacks.
West Virginia needed a week to improve after allowing 496 yards in a loss at Maryland, limiting Championship Subdivision member Long Island to 95 yards.
MITCHELL OUT
Virginia Tech tight end James Mitchell sustained a season-ending knee injury last week against Middle Tennessee. Picked to the all-ACC preseason first team, Mitchell was tied for the team lead with five catches for 42 yards and one TD.
WRIGHT RETURNER
West Virginia kick returner Winston Wright is looking for his third straight standout game. He returned a kickoff 90 yards for a score last week against FCS Long Island and had a school-record 217 yards in kick returns in the opening loss at Maryland.
“I’m very confident in our scheme, so every chance they kick it I know it’s either going to be a big return or a solid return,” Wright said.
He’s hoping teams somehow will still kick the ball to him, “but probably not,” Wright said. “I’m praying they do.”
HALL OF FAME
West Virginia will induct 11 people into its Sports Hall of Fame before the game, a ceremony postponed from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Among those being inducted are Da’Sean Butler, one of three 2,000-point scorers in school men’s basketball history behind Jerry West and “Hot Rod” Hundley.
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AP Sports Writer Hank Kurz in Richmond, Virginia, and Associated Press writer Matt Thornsbury in Morgantown contributed to this report.
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West Virginia Sports

Young WVU QB thrives, status unknown vs No. 15 Virginia Tech

By JOHN RABY AP Sports Writer
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia coach Neal Brown is making no promises to fans clamoring for more from dual-threat backup quarterback Garrett Greene.
Greene had an impressive 2021 debut, giving a needed boost to the Mountaineers’ running game against a Championship Subdivision opponent. But whether he sees action Saturday when West Virginia (1-1) hosts No. 15 Virginia Tech (2-0) remains to be determined.
Brown said after a 66-0 win over Long Island that if the opportunity arose to get Greene into some future game situations, “then, yes, we will use him because I think he can help us.”
On Tuesday, after reviewing the game, Brown called Greene’s performance “a mixed bag” and didn’t elaborate on whether he might bump up his one-quarterback system with starter Jarret Doege to two.
“You’ve got to go in with an intentional plan,” Brown said. “I’m not saying that’s the gospel. That’s how we’ve done it in the past.”
The Mountaineers have yet to have a 100-yard rusher this season, but Greene came close. Getting plenty of snaps behind Doege, Greene ran for a game-high 98 yards and two touchdowns while throwing for 57 more.
Greene’s only previous significant snaps came in the 2020 season opener. Brown said he didn’t believe Greene was ready to play in the season opener two weeks ago at Maryland.
Greene’s rushing yards against Long Island were the most for a West Virginia quarterback since Skyler Howard ran for 129 at Kansas in 2015. That make it almost impossible for the coaching staff to ignore Greene going forward.
At least it gives the Hokies something to think about. Whether or not Greene sees the field, Virginia Tech will have to account for him in its preparations. And Brown isn’t going to reveal his plans any earlier than he has to.
“Where you run into some issues is just your ability to practice,” Brown said. “You’re limited timewise. And our guys are so different.”
What’s known is clear: Virginia Tech has allowed a total of three touchdowns in two games, so opposing offenses are going to have to find ways to catch the Hokies off guard.
Greene runs a lot and throws some, too. He kept a touchdown drive alive with a scrambling 28-yard pass along the sidelines to Isaiah Eskdale on fourth down.
Doege has a pair of 250-yard passing games already but typically doesn’t venture far out of the pocket and has been sacked five times in two games.
“It’s good to see Garrett out there making plays, and he does that in practice, and it’s good to see him get to do it in the game,” Doege said. “I control what I can control when I’m in the game doing my job, and when he’s in the game, I want to cheer him on.”
Overall, Brown called Greene’s performance “a mixed bag.”
Greene handled himself well and showed maturity. He made good reads in the run game but missed some pre-snap decisions and could have thrown as many as five more passes, Brown said.
“You don’t want to contain what’s the best thing about him, which is his ability to freelance and ability to make plays on the run,” Brown said. “But you also don’t want him breaking out every single time. And so we’re working on finding kind of a happy medium.
“But there was more good. And the encouraging thing is, the things that weren’t exactly what we want or what we’re teaching, we can get corrected.”
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West Virginia Sports

Lots of QB shuffling early in season, led by Big 12

By STEPHEN HAWKINS AP Sports Writer
The most experienced quarterbacks in the Big 12 have already been sidelined this season for very different reasons.
Skylar Thompson was off to good start in his sixth year in Kansas State’s program before a knee injury that will keep him out indefinitely. Fourth-year Iowa State starter Brock Purdy was benched in the fourth quarter of the biggest home game in program history, though coach Matt Campbell has since reiterated his “great trust” in the quarterback.
First-year Texas coach Steve Sarkisian is already shuffling starters, replacing inconsistent redshirt freshman Hudson Card with junior Casey Thompson.
All of that is through only two games this season and the unexpected changes at the game’s most important position stretch beyond the Big 12.
When starting quarterback JT Daniels was out for second-ranked Georgia with an oblique injury, backup Stetson Bennett stepped in and tied a school record with five TD passes in the first half. No. 7 Texas A&M will be without redshirt freshman quarterback Haynes King indefinitely after surgery to repair his broken right leg. Boston College’s Phil Jurkovec could miss the rest of the season after hand surgery.
THOMPSON’S TOUGH LUCK
Skylar Thompson took advantage of the extra year of eligibility given to all players because of the pandemic after missing most of last season with a right shoulder injury. He lowered his left shoulder and bulled into the end zone while running for K-State’s first TD in a season-opening win over Stanford, then led the Wildcats to a quick TD in their second game and was on the brink of another when he suddenly crumbled to the ground.
“See him go down and it’s always gonna be a shell shock because that’s a great guy and a great player for us,” said running back Deuce Vaughn, who was behind the quarterback when he got hurt rolling to the right.
Wildcats coach Chris Klieman said the injury isn’t believed to be season-ending, but called it “frustrating because it’s like it’s not fair. Why does it happen to somebody two years in a row?” Thompson’s 32 career starts are tied for the most in school history.
Will Howard has been pressed into the starting role again like he was a freshman last year. He went through all of last spring with the No. 1 offense while Thompson was still rehabbing his throwing shoulder.
TRUST IN BROCK
Iowa State had turnovers on three consecutive drives, including two interceptions by Purdy, and were down by 17 points early in the fourth quarter of its highly anticipated home game against instate rival Iowa when Campbell put second-year freshman QB Hunter Dekkers in.
The 27-17 loss dropped the Cyclones, last season’s Big 12 runner-up, five spots to No. 14 in the new AP poll. Purdy, still without a TD pass, is anticipated to be back under center when Iowa State plays at UNLV on Saturday night.
“Brock and I have a great relationship and really he’s got great trust in who we are,” Campbell said. “Equally, we have great trust of who he is.”
THOMPSON IN TEXAS
Most Texas fans assumed Casey Thompson would be the easy choice as the 2021 starter when he came off the bench to throw four TDs in eight passes in the Alamo Bowl win over Colorado last December before Sarkisian was hired. But the fourth-year player couldn’t shake off the spring and summer training camp competition with Card.
After a solid opening win over then-No. 23 Louisiana-Lafayette, the Longhorns got overrun 40-21 by former SWC rival and future SEC foe Arkansas, and got knocked out of the AP poll from 15th.
“You could tell early on Hudson was a little rattled,” Texas linebacker DeMarvion Overshown said.
Thompson led two TD drives against Arkansas after getting in the third quarter when Texas was already far behind. His first start since still in high school in November 2017 is set for Saturday against Rice. He considered transferring from Texas after the 2018 season, but stayed and spent two seasons as Sam Ehlinger’s top backup. Thompson said he didn’t consider leaving when Card was named the starter two weeks ago.
“At this point, I’m already in this thing, I’ve waited so long,” Thompson said Tuesday. “There was no way I could just quit and let up at this point.”
ALL-AMERICAN, FORMER OU QBs
After throwing for 3,031 yards and 28 TDs last season, Oklahoma sophomore and preseason AP All-America quarterback Spencer Rattler is off to a solid start. He has completed 50 of 65 passes for 547 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions for the No. 3 Sooners (2-0).
Two former Sooners quarterbacks will start against each other Saturday, when Tanner Mordecai and SMU play at Louisiana Tech and Austin Kendall. They were OU teammates during the 2018 season.
“It’s awesome to see,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said. “It’s not surprising to me. … No doubt in my mind those guys were starting-caliber players.”
Mordecai, a fourth-year sophomore, has thrown for 629 yards and 11 TDs in two games for SMU, only 10 yards fewer than he had combined in his 12 appearances for the Sooners the past three years. Kendall is a sixth-year senior who was at West Virginia the past two seasons after two seasons at Oklahoma.
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AP Sports Writers Dave Skretta and Jim Vertuno contributed to this report.
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National Sports West Virginia Sports

Steelers, Raiders hoping to prove Week 1 wins were no fluke

By WILL GRAVES AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mike Tomlin spent four years on Jon Gruden’s staff in Tampa Bay in the early 2000s, helping mold a defense that won a Super Bowl and gleaning what he could from his fiery boss.
Nearing two decades later, the lessons Tomlin — now in his 15th season as the head coach in Pittsburgh — learned from Gruden endure.
“Gruden has no fear,” Tomlin said. “He doesn’t. He looks at an issue or a problem, and he sees it as an opportunity. I worked for him for four years. You can’t fake that. It’s every day from him.”
And so it is with Gruden’s former pupil, who will stand on the opposite sideline from one of his mentors when Tomlin and the Steelers (1-0) host Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders (1-0) on Sunday.
One of the tenets of Tomlin’s coaching philosophy is the idea of not living in fear. His team embodied that philosophy during a season-opening win at Buffalo last week, rallying from 10 points down to stun the defending AFC East champions.
Even the veterans whooped it up after the Steelers sent a message that even with a rookie-laden offense and 39-year-old Ben Roethlisberger throwing on a rebuilt right elbow, they’re still relevant in the tough AFC North.
It was thrilling for Pittsburgh. It was also just one game out of 17. The same goes for Las Vegas, which surged past Baltimore on Monday night, suggesting the rebuild Gruden began when he returned to coaching in 2018 after a decade away may finally be taking hold.
It looked that way a season ago, too, before a 2-0 start faded to an 8-8 finish. So Gruden, quarterback Derek Carr and the rest of the Raiders are not getting too far ahead of themselves. Still, Las Vegas is heading east with a chance to send the same kind of message the Steelers sent at Buffalo.
“As a football fan, I’m honored that I get to even step on the field at Heinz Field and get to play against these guys,” Carr said. “It’s cool for me as a fan, but as a competitor, you want to do well and win the game.”
Las Vegas has done that lately against the Steelers. The Raiders are 5-2 against Pittsburgh since Roethlisberger arrived in 2004. All five wins came in seasons in which Las Vegas finished with a losing record and Pittsburgh was .500 or better.
Weird, right? Then again, weird always seems to come with the territory when the Raiders and Steelers meet. This is the rivalry that produced The Immaculate Reception, after all. The painful memory for the Raiders still resonates nearly 50 years later.
“Like I said that ball touched the ground (on the Immaculate Reception),” Carr said.
HARRIS IN A HURRY?
Steelers rookie running back Najee Harris endured a relatively quiet NFL debut, running for 45 yards on 16 carriers behind a new-look offensive line that needed a full half to start finding its footing.
Still, Harris didn’t miss any of Pittsburgh’s 58 snaps, a sign of how confident Tomlin is in both Harris’ conditioning and his potential. The sledding for Harris and the line could be a bit easier against the Raiders, who allowed Baltimore to run for 189 yards in the opener even with the Ravens decimated by injuries to their top three running backs.
CARR INSURANCE
The Raiders overhauled their offensive line this offseason and the early results weren’t overly impressive. New center Andre James and rookie right tackle Alex Leatherwood both had issues run blocking and in protection. Las Vegas also lost right guard Denzelle Good to a season-ending knee injury but is hoping to get left guard Richie Incognito back, which could be crucial against the Steelers.
“Very proud of those guys, but still, we’re in the process of getting better and playing more games together,” Carr said. “Every game that goes by is more experience together and so hopefully this game against a great defense and a great team like this will be a great challenge for us.”
WALLING UP WALLER
Carr targeted 6-foot-6 tight end Darren Waller 19 times in the opener, with Waller hauling in 10 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. He presents a matchup problem for anyone, even a defense that held the high-powered Bills to 16 points in Week 1.
“You can describe him as a tight end, but I think that that seems less than appropriate, to be honest with you,” Tomlin said. “That’s putting him in a box.”
Tomlin figures the Steelers can’t truly stop Waller, just limit him the way they did Buffalo wide receiver Stefon Diggs in the opener. Diggs averaged 7.7 yards per reception against Pittsburgh’s swarming secondary that limited deep shots.
SHORT TURNAROUND
The Raiders have a tough task this week, heading on a long trip following an emotional win Monday night. They’ve lost the last six times they had to travel after a Monday night game. Last season, they got beat 36-20 by New England following a prime-time win at home over New Orleans in their first game ever in Las Vegas. Gruden gave the team a lighter week with just a walkthrough on Wednesday before two days of practice.
“You just try to adapt to the schedule,” he said. “Do the best you can.”
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AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this report.
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National Sports West Virginia Sports

WVU hosts No. 15 Hokies at sold-out Mountaineer Field

By The Associated Press undefined
No. 15 Virginia Tech (2-0) at West Virginia (1-1), Saturday at noon EDT (FS1).
Line: Virginia Tech by 2 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Series record: West Virginia leads 28-23-1.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
The Black Diamond Trophy. Virginia Tech has won three straight in the series. West Virginia hasn’t possessed the trophy since 2003. The name is a nod to the region’s rich history with coal. Virginia Tech has its highest ranking since it rose to No. 12 in 2018 and is looking to return to the top 10 for the first time since an 11-win season in 2011.
KEY MATCHUP
West Virginia RB Leddie Brown against the Hokies’ defense. A 1,000-yard rusher a year ago, Brown is supposed to be the centerpiece of West Virginia’s offense but has yet to get on track this season. The senior is averaging 3.3 yards per carry and was limited to 31 yards in a 66-0 win over Long Island, which had allowed 318 rushing yards in its opener.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Virginia Tech: QB Braxton Burmeister. The junior is 5-1 as the starting quarterback. He took a hit from Middle Tennessee safety Gregory Grate Jr. last week and went to the sidelines for seven plays before returning to the game. Burmeister has completed 61% of his passes for 311 yards and two TDs with one interception.
West Virginia: Winston Wright. The junior returned a kickoff 90 yards for a score last week and had a school-record 217 yards in kick returns in the season opener at Maryland.
FACTS & FIGURES
West Virginia quarterback Jarret Doege has surpassed 250 passing yards in each of the first two games … The Hokies have four interceptions, tied for fifth in the nation. Cornerback Jermaine Waller has one in each game. … Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock is a former assistant AD at West Virginia. … The Mountaineers will travel to Blacksburg, Virginia next season. … Both teams are among the national leaders in tackles for loss with West Virginia averaging 10.5 per game and Virginia Tech nine. But while the Hokies have amassed nine sacks, West Virginia has four … The Mountaineers allowed just 95 total yards and forced 10 punts last week.
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National Sports West Virginia Sports

No. 10 Penn State to draw on crowd against No. 22 Auburn

By TRAVIS JOHNSON Associated Press
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Sean Clifford’s confidence has grown with each play this fall, and Penn State’s quarterback is about to get a big ego boost.
It’ll come from the more than 107,000 fans who’ll pack Beaver Stadium on Saturday night for a rare Big Ten-SEC regular-season showdown between the No. 10 Nittany Lions (2-0) and No. 22 Auburn (2-0).
When Clifford runs through the tunnel, he and his teammates will be greeted by the masses — clad in white for the program-dubbed Whiteout — for the first time since a 2019 win against Michigan.
“You can’t watch the Whiteout on TV and say that you’ve seen the Whiteout,” Clifford said. “You have to be here to experience it. It’s one of those experience that is jaw-dropping, inspiring, just a sense of community that you really can’t feel anywhere else.”
It’s a feeling the Nittany Lions missed when COVID-19 restrictions forced them to play in an empty stadium last year. It’s a scene the Tigers are looking forward to as well.
No Auburn squad has played a road Big Ten game in nine decades.
“That should be something that we all embrace and want to be a part of,” Auburn coach Bryan Harsin said. “And if you’re a guy that is worried about that, or shying away, don’t get on the plane. We’ll take somebody else. We’ll take the guys that have the mind-set to go play and do a job in this game and we’ll compete with them.”
The Tigers will bring an offense that steamrolled their first two non-Power 5 opponents and a defense that hasn’t been tested yet. The Nittany Lions figure to do so.
After opening with a defense-fueled road win at Wisconsin, Penn State’s offense did more, and showed glimpses of potential in last week’s win over Ball State.
Clifford is coming off one of his better recent games, having completed 21 of 29 passes for 230 yards with two total touchdowns. He hit 10 different receivers last week, fulfilling his preseason certitude that he’d have plenty of receivers to work with.
Penn State coach James Franklin wants his offense to be more explosive, however.
“I think for where we are in the season, if we just continue to get better and continue to take strides in really every area, running the ball, protection, explosive plays, I think we’ll like where we are,” Franklin said.
PROTECT THE BALL
Clifford’s primary focus under new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich has been limiting turnovers.
Penn State’s 0-5 run to start last season was littered with interceptions and fumbles, and the Nittany Lions finished with a minus-8 turnover margin.
Penn State has not turned the ball over yet this season and Clifford hasn’t thrown an interception in 115 attempts dating to last season.
“I think that finding, getting through progressions faster, being smarter with the football, checking the ball down when I need to, finding the escape routes, just being a smarter football player,” Clifford said. “I feel extremely confident and extremely experienced when it comes to seeing looks, recognizing coverages and then making plays in the short amount of time that I have in the pocket.”
1-2 PUNCH
Auburn has already scored 122 points to lead the nation and racked up 1,151 yards. Most of the Tigers’ power comes from the run game where both Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter have eclipsed 100 rushing yards in each game so far.
Bigsby, Southeastern Conference freshman of the year in 2020, has 241 yards on just 24 carries while Hunter, a freshman, has 257 and set a school record with a 94-yard touchdown run against Alabama State last week.
“They just want to set their tempo off of the run game like a lot of teams do and try to be physical,” Penn State linebacker Ellis Brooks said. “They’re a physical bunch, and we’ve got a clear challenge in front of us this week.”
WEAPONIZED FOOT
If the game settles into a defensive battle for field position, Franklin will be happy to deploy his do-it-all specialist Jordan Stout.
Stout, who’s punted and handled all field goals and kickoffs this season, is currently fifth in the country with a 53.1 yards per punt average, nearly 12 yards more than he averaged last year.
LONG DROUGHT
Auburn hasn’t beaten a top 10 team on the road since 2014. The Tigers have lost nine straight in that scenario since a 35-31 win at No. 7 Mississippi.
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Big 12 coaches says swift expansion solidified league future

By STEPHEN HAWKINS AP Sports Writer
Kansas State coach Chris Klieman says he was never worried the Big 12 would disband or become irrelevant, even with the lingering questions about the conference’s future when Oklahoma and Texas head to the Southeastern Conference.
“I knew none of that was true,” Klieman said.
The Big 12’s swift response to expand with the additions of BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston certainly helped answer a lot of those questions and created some stability moving forward for the league that some didn’t think would survive the departures of its only football national champions.
“We got four really good programs. … I think it solidifies the Big 12 is as a power conference that’s here to stay for the long haul,” Klieman said Monday during the first Big 12 coaches’ teleconference of the season.
“Well, we hit a home run, the presidents, ADs, Big 12 office, whoever was involved in this. There couldn’t be a better scenario,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy. “We kept the Big 12 status. I always felt like that we needed more than 10 teams. Now we’re back to 12, we are the Big 12. And I couldn’t be any more pleased with the direction that it’s gone over the last week.”
The Big 12 has as many of its future schools ranked in the Top 25 as it does current members, with two each. Oklahoma is third, and Cincinnati eighth. Iowa State dropped out of the top 10 to 14th after losing to Iowa and BYU is No. 23.
Only six weeks after Oklahoma and Texas accepted invitations to join the SEC by 2025, the Big 12 added four schools that will join its league before then. BYU, now playing as an independent in football, will start Big 12 play for the 2023 football season, with the three American Athletic Conference schools coming in no later than 2024.
After getting their Big 12 invitations on Friday, the four future foes all won Saturday. BYU beat Utah for its first victory against its instate rival in nine tries since 2009, and the other three had lopsided wins.
Oklahoma and Texas, which fell out of the Top 25 after a 40-21 loss at future SEC foe Arkansas, have said they will honor their current contracts with the Big 12 and do not plan to join the SEC until 2025, when the conference’s current television rights contracts expire with ESPN and Fox.
Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said he didn’t really have any thoughts on the Big 12 additions since it doesn’t change anything now. When recruits and parents ask when the Sooners will be switching leagues, he tells them the plan is still 2025 and that he will let them know if anything changes.
“We’ve been trying to be pretty honest,” Riley said. “They’re going to get an opportunity to play a high level level here at OU, no matter what league you’re in.”
The Sooners are the league’s only team to make the four-team College Football Playoff. And while they have lost in the semifinals in each of their four appearances, they have dominated the Big 12, winning the last six conference titles and 14 of 25 overall.
Oklahoma’s departure seemingly will open the way for other teams to be at the top.
“The four teams coming in, and certainly the ones here in the Big 12, a lot can change in a couple of years. So I’m not sure, you know, we’re doing anything but guessing. But, yeah, absolutely,” Texas Tech coach Matt Wells said.
“I think the opportunity is there for a fair amount of the teams in the league. And I think that could be a real, real strong point of the league,” Baylor coach Dave Aranda said. “You look at teams that are built similar. There’s a toughness to them, there is a simple can be sophisticated approach to them. It’s not going to be tricks and gadgets. It’s going to be execution of fundamentals and all that.”
Baylor will get an early preview of BYU, which visits on Oct. 16.
Depending on when Oklahoma and Texas depart, the Big 12 could have up to 14 schools for a season or two.
This is the 11th season the Big 12 has been a 10-team league playing round-robin conference schedules, since the last significant realignment a decade ago that over a two-year period saw the departures of charter members Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas A&M, along with the additions of TCU and West Virginia.
“Even though we won’t per se change conferences, it’ll be a change,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “What’s going to be actually be easier is if we split into divisions, Because you’re not going to have to play a round robin. If you have to play everybody in the league, then it becomes difficult. … That’s a hard deal.”

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West Virginia Sports

No. 15 Hokies TE Mitchell to have season-ending knee surgery

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente says tight end James Mitchell will have knee surgery and miss the rest of the season following an injury suffered Saturday.
Mitchell, the preseason All-ACC first-team tight end, took a low hit on a run from the 2-yard line and in the No. 15 Hokies’ 35-14 victory against Middle Tennessee.
“I’m disappointed for him. What a great leader, a great young man,” Fuente said as he opened his weekly availability with reporters. “I know how much this football teams means to him and that’s immediately where his thoughts went.”
Following the game, Fuente said he thought Mitchell would be fine, but a follow-up MRI revealed a more serious injury that necessitates surgery.
Mitchell, who investigated leaving early for the NFL after last season, had five catches for 42 yards with a touchdown this season. For his career, he has 52 catches and 838 receiving yards and scored 12 touchdowns.
Virginia Tech plays at West Virginia on Saturday.
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Eagles look to build off impressive, convincing road win

By ROB MAADDI AP Pro Football Writer
Fresh off a convincing win in his NFL coaching debut, Nick Sirianni rocked a “Dawg Mentality” T-shirt to his video conference Monday and reminded everyone not to get carried away with one game.
The Philadelphia Eagles dominated the Atlanta Falcons in 32-6 victory Sunday and will host the 49ers this week. San Francisco won its opener at Detroit.
“We’ve been talking about dog mentality over and over again,” Sirianni said. “It’s a week- to-week thing, a day-to-day thing. If I think about on Wednesday when we come back out here how well I played in the Atlanta game, then I’m gonna get my butt kicked this upcoming Sunday, so it’s living in the moment of what you are in.
“We literally live in the moment of how are we going to leave this building today better than we were yesterday. If you’re thinking about the past or have a big ego based on how you played, you won’t do that.”
Sirianni and Jalen Hurts aced their first tests, earning plenty of praise. They know that’ll quickly turn to criticism when the team goes through adversity and losses pile up.
“In all honesty, we won one game. We gotta go out there and do it again,” Sirianni said.
Coming off a 4-11-1 season that led to Super Bowl-winning Doug Pederson getting fired and franchise quarterback Carson Wentz being traded, the Eagles didn’t have high expectations. After one game, they’re the only team in the NFC East with a victory. It’s a long season, the longest ever as the NFL plays a 17-game schedule.
“All the hard work we put in, all the different changes we’ve endured, we’ve had to overcome and persevere with new coaching, new values as a football team, and buying into it,” Hurts said. “Coming out here we won, and started off the right way. I think that’s good.”
WHAT’S WORKING
The offense was balanced, featuring short and midrange passes and run-pass options. Hurts got in a rhythm early, made smart decisions and used his legs for positive gains when needed. Sirianni’s play calling catered to his young QB’s strengths.
NEEDS HELP
The Eagles must be more disciplined. They committed 14 penalties, including seven by the offensive line. They got away with it against the Falcons, who had 12 penalties.
STOCK UP
Wide receiver Jalen Reagor caught all six passes thrown for 49 yards, including a 23-yard catch-and-run TD. The 2020 first-round pick had a disappointing, injury-riddled rookie season. But he displayed the skills that made him the 21st overall pick, one ahead of Justin Jefferson.
STOCK DOWN
Right tackle Lane Johnson had three penalties for the first time since Dec. 25, 2017. The three-time Pro Bowl picked played only seven games last season because of an ankle injury.
INJURED
Safety Marcus Epps left in the first half with a concussion. He’s in protocol. … Tight end Zach Ertz was sidelined with a hamstring injury. … Wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside sustained an ankle injury and is day to day.
KEY NUMBER
1 — Hurts was sacked once after the Eagles allowed a league-high 65 last year mostly due to an injury-ravaged offensive line that featured 14 different combinations.
NEXT STEPS
The Eagles host the 49ers, who beat the Lions 41-33.
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Categories
West Virginia Sports

Online bets on NFL games seen surging as season begins

By WAYNE PARRY Associated Press
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A company that most of the legal U.S. sports betting industry uses to verify that its customers are where they say they are reported on Monday a record number of transactions over the first weekend of the NFL season.
That helps confirm an expected a big increase in the level of online betting as football season got underway in a nation with many more places to bet this year.
GeoComply Solutions, the Vancouver, Canada-based tech company, said it recorded 58.2 million geolocation transactions across 18 states and Washington, D.C., from Thursday night, when the NFL season began, through 7 p.m. EST Sunday.
That represents a 126% increase from the same period of the 2020 NFL season, when GeoComply processed 25.8 million transactions.
“We expected high volumes, but what we have seen has surprised us nonetheless,” said Lindsay Slader, a managing director with Geocomply. “The level of demand across new markets, such as Arizona, indicates that consumers have long waited for the option to legally place a sports bet.”
The data records the amount of times the company was called on to verify a customer’s location. It is considered a good indicator for at least a minimum level of sports betting activity, more than 80% of which is done online in the U.S.
States require a gambler to be physically located within their borders in order to make an online sports bet, which is where geolocation technology comes in. It uses a combination of cellphone data, software, hardware and databases to determine where a phone or laptop trying to make a bet is actually located.
While it is true that customers can log in and have their location verified without actually placing a bet, many gamblers also make more than one bet after a single login.
In just three years, legal sports betting has spread to more than half the country. New Jersey won a U.S. Supreme Court case in 2018 clearing the way for any state to adopt legal sports betting.
When Thursday night’s game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys kicked off, 26 states plus Washington, D.C., offered legal sports betting, according to the American Gaming Association, the gambling industry’s national trade group. But not all of them offer online sports betting.
That was up from 18 a year ago at the start of last year’s football season.
GeoComply says it saw the most activity in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona and Illinois.
Arizona, which launched its sports betting on Thursday, has seen more than 6.1 million geolocation transactions from more than 271,000 newly created accounts since then, the company said Monday.
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Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC