West Virginia opens 2020 football season vs. Florida St.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia will open the 2020 football season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against Florida State and have three home games in September.
The Big 12 released the Mountaineers’ schedule Tuesday.
West Virginia will play the Seminoles on Sept. 5 in Atlanta.
The Mountaineers also have home nonconference games against Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 12 and against Maryland on Sept. 19.
West Virginia has Big 12 games at home against Kansas State on Sept. 26, TCU on Oct. 10, Kansas on Oct. 24, Oklahoma on Nov. 7 and Baylor on Nov. 21.
Road conference games are Texas Tech on Oct. 3, Texas on Oct. 17, Oklahoma State on Nov. 14 and Iowa State on Nov. 28.

Hurts scores 5 TDs, Sooners roll past West Virginia 52-14

By MURRAY EVANS Associated Press
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — After No. 5 Oklahoma downed rival Texas last week, coach Lincoln Riley said a true test for the Sooners would be how they bounced back from that emotional game to face West Virginia as the heavy favorite.
Riley was pleased with the results. Jalen Hurts passed for 316 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 75 yards and two more scores and the Sooners cruised to a 52-14 victory over West Virginia on Saturday.
Oklahoma (7-0, 4-0) is unbeaten in eight games against West Virginia (3-4, 1-3) since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 Conference in the 2012 season. The Sooners have won 20 of their last 21 games.
Oklahoma, which rolled up 562 yards of offense, has scored at least 34 points in 17 straight games, the second-longest such streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision since 1980. The Sooners didn’t score a touchdown in the fourth quarter, though; they’ve scored a touchdown in every quarter but two this season.
“I think we’re serious about being a good football team,” Riley said. “We handled this week like a team that has some big goals in mind and understanding that it is a process. It’s not about one game here or there. It’s a constant climb for us.”
West Virginia quarterback Austin Kendall, who spent three seasons at Oklahoma as a backup to Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray before transferring, completed 15 of 31 passes for 182 yards, including touchdowns of 38 and 7 yards to T.J. Simmons.
“It was a good experience to come in and see the road I used to take to go to my house,” Kendall said. “Good to see everybody I haven’t seen in a couple of months. I got a lot of love for that team and all the guys I’ve played with; nothing changes there.”
Hurts, whose transfer from Alabama to Oklahoma led to Kendall’s transfer, completed 16 of 17 passes, with the incompletion a drop by freshman Drake Stoops.
He became the third Oklahoma quarterback to complete at least 90% of his passes, throw for more than 300 yards and throw for at least three touchdowns in a game. He also recorded a career-high passing efficiency rating of 308.5, the second-best mark in program history, behind Murray’s 348 against Baylor last season.
“All of that is always a challenge — us challenging ourselves to play to our standard and I say it all the time, to play our brand of football,” Hurts said. “If we can focus on the things that we can control, the only way is up. We’ve just got to try to take positive steps, learn from our mistakes and move forward with the right intent.”
Oklahoma punted on its first possession but scored touchdowns on its next four — a 20-yard pass to Jeremiah Hall, a 6-yard pass to Charleston Rambo, a 9-yard run by Kennedy Brooks and a 2-yard run by Hurts.
The Mountaineers were within 28-14 at halftime, but Oklahoma scored three touchdowns in the third quarter, the first on a 22-yard run by Hurts and the second on a 46-yard pass to Lee Morris. Brayden Willis then blocked a punt in the end zone that Oklahoma’s Austin Stogner recovered to extend the Sooners’ lead to 49-14. It was the first time that happened to West Virginia since 2003 season.
“It was a struggle all day for us,” Mountaineers coach Neal Brown said. “We got outplayed. Honestly, we were outmanned at several positions and areas. For this to be a competitive game, we needed to play clean, which we didn’t. We needed to run the ball, which we didn’t. We had to force some turnovers, which we didn’t. We had to minimize their explosive plays and we didn’t do that either. All the things we needed to do to make this a four-quarter football game and put us in position to win it, we just didn’t do it.”
West Virginia: The Mountaineers are three-fourths of the way through a difficult stretch that includes consecutive games against No. 15 Texas, Iowa State, Oklahoma and No. 18 Baylor. Survive that gauntlet, and West Virginia can try to secure bowl eligibility during its final four games against Texas Tech, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas Christian.
Oklahoma: The Sooners’ offense continued to roll behind Hurts and the defense mostly held its own, holding the Mountaineers to 51 rushing yards and 242 yards of offense. Those are two things Oklahoma will need to continue to happen to stay in the mix for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
After Oklahoma’s fourth touchdown, the horse-drawn Sooner Schooner came onto Owen Field to celebrate, but it fell over while making a turn, spilling people and debris onto the field.
The horses kept running but quickly were corralled and there were no major injuries to human or horse, even though the riders were thrown from the Schooner. Security officials quickly cleared the debris and play resumed without delay. After Oklahoma’s fifth touchdown, a cheerleader ran onto the field waving a giant “OU” flag in lieu of the Schooner.
Oklahoma had its fourth consecutive 11 a.m. kickoff on Saturday and is scheduled for another next week at Kansas State. That didn’t sit well with a segment of Oklahoma fans, which athletic director Joe Castiglione acknowledged in tweets sent before the game.
“Appreciate our fans adjusting for another 11 a.m. game. Although it’s not always readily apparent, we vigorously push for other times, like we did for our opener,” Castiglione tweeted. “Obviously, the national TV exposure is important but we also fully understand the impact on you. We will continue to explore ways to better serve you. Go #Sooners.”
Former Oklahoma running back Steve Owens, the 1969 Heisman Trophy winner, was recognized during a halftime ceremony. Owens, who is from Miami, Oklahoma, received a 50th anniversary plaque. He is one of Oklahoma’s seven Heisman winners.
Oklahoma maintained its perfect record, but whether that allows the Sooners to hold their position in the AP Top 25, or move up, has largely depended this season on what happens elsewhere.
West Virginia: After an off week, will visit Baylor on Oct. 31.
Oklahoma: Will visit Kansas State next Saturday.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Jarry makes 27 saves, Penguins rout Jets 7-2

By The Associated Press undefined
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Zach Aston-Reese, Sam Lafferty and Jake Guentzel each had two goals to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 7-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night.
Dominik Simon also scored and Aston-Reese also had an assist for the Penguins. Tristan Jarry stopped 27 shots.
Mathieu Perreault and Mark Scheifele had goals for the Jets, and Laurent Brossoit finished with 21 saves.
Both teams were playing back-to-back games and lacked zip.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Paul Stastny scored twice on the power play, Max Pacioretty added a power-play goal and Vegas beat Los Angeles.
Reilly Smith and Mark Stone also scored, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 36 saves as the Golden Knights swept their first set of back-to-back games.
Vegas was 3 for 3 on the power play after starting the season 3 for 17 with the man-advantage.
Jonathan Quick allowed five goals on 36 shots for the Kings.
Dustin Brown and Austin Wagner scored for Los Angeles.
SAN JOSE,Calif. (AP) — Tomas Hertl had a goal and an assist to help San Jose beat Calgary.
Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc also scored as San Jose won their second straight after an 0-4-0 start. Logan Couture had two assists and Patrick Marleau had one in his first home game since rejoining the Sharks. Martin Jones stopped 32 shots after posting a 4.55 goals-against average while losing his first three starts.
Elias Lindholm scored for Calgary, which has lost two straight and three of its last four.
The Flames were playing their third road game in four days and second in as many days.
Cam Talbot had 17 saves in his Calgary debut. The 31-year-old, signed a one-year free agent contract with the Flames in the offseason after splitting time last season between Edmonton and Philadelphia.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Steelers’ Conner scores 2 TDs, Hodges wins first start

By JOE REEDY AP Sports Writer
CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Pittsburgh’s Devlin Hodges walked into the stadium properly attired for his first NFL start. He was wearing a T-shirt with a duck on it that read “I’m The Boss,” befitting his nickname and quiet confidence.
The rookie quarterback directed the Steelers offense like a boss and not a third-string rookie as he led Pittsburgh to a 24-17 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday night.
“I liked his effort. We knew we couldn’t give him a lot of exposure to that defense, so we did some things in other areas,” said coach Mike Tomlin, who nicknamed Hodges “Duck Dynasty” during offseason workouts.
Hodges, who was elevated into the starting spot after Mason Rudolph suffered a concussion last week against Baltimore completed 15 of 20 passes for 132 yards with a touchdown and interception. He benefited from a strong running game and a defense that scored the game’s first touchdown and forced three turnovers.
“It’s nice to get a win in my first start. It’s something I have always dreamed about,” said Hodges, who got the shirt for $5 in Venice Beach on Saturday. “I’ve always had a belief in myself and it’s just amazing.”
It is only the fifth time in 26 games in franchise history that the Steelers have won a road game with a quarterback making his first start.
James Conner had his first game with both a rushing and receiving touchdown and accounted for 119 scrimmage yards (41 rushing, 78 receiving). He suffered a quad injury during the third quarter and did not return.
On defense, Devin Bush recovered a pair of turnovers, including returning a fumble for his first NFL touchdown.
“It was a big win for us on the road in a very fragile state,” Tomlin said. “I think we had a lot of quality efforts tonight from a lot of people.”
The Chargers (2-4) trailed 24-0 after three quarters but rallied to get within seven on a Chase McLaughlin field goal and two TD passes from Philip Rivers to Hunter Henry.
“We dug ourselves in a hole. I still believe in this football team. We dug ourselves in a hole and I believe we’ll dig our way out,” coach Anthony Lynn said.
After Henry’s 11-yard TD catch made it 24-17, Los Angeles tried an onside kick with 1:28 remaining, but it was recovered by Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton. The Chargers forced a three-and-out and got the ball at the 1 after a punt, but Rivers was picked off by Sutton to preserve the Steelers’ win and improve to 2-4.
“It’s pretty tough. I don’t know if we’ve been down by three touchdowns, but we’ve had a comeback like this before,” said Rivers, who was 26 of 44 for 300 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. “It’s tough but our guys believed. You saw we gave ourselves a chance. They pin you down there on the 1 and have to go 99 yards with no timeouts, that’s about as rough as it gets.”
Bush scooped up a backward pass from Rivers that Melvin Gordon was unable to handle and went 9 yards to give the Steelers a 7-0 lead
The rookie got his second turnover four plays later when he intercepted a Rivers’ pass that was deflected by defensive end Tyson Alualu at the line of scrimmage. That would lead to Conner’s first TD, a 12-yard run around left end with 4:39 remaining in the first quarter.
Conner put Pittsburgh up by three touchdowns with 6:34 remaining in the second when he caught a short pass from Hodges and went 26 yards up the right sideline after Chargers linebacker Jatavis Brown was unable to tackle the third-year running back at the 25.
Los Angeles didn’t get on the board until one minute into the fourth quarter on McLaughlin’s 38-yard field goal. Rivers ended the offense’s seven-quarter drought without a touchdown when he found Henry in the back of the end zone from 5 yards out with 7:13 remaining.
It felt like a home game for the Steelers as the stadium was dominated by Pittsburgh fans. Hodges said he joked in the huddle on the first drive that he might have to motion for the crowd to quiet down.
The Chargers’ game staff did troll the Steelers fans during the fourth quarter when it started playing Styx’s “Renegade” only to go into a Rickroll with Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
“That was amazing until they made it a joke. It was cool,” Bush said.
Pittsburgh came into the game converting only 28.3% of its third downs (15 of 53), but was 8 of 13 on Sunday night.
“We were on schedule. More than anything, we were in manageable third downs,” Tomlin said. “We’ve been working hard to be in manageable third downs and haven’t necessarily done what we did tonight.”
Bush has been involved in six of the 14 turnovers the Steelers have forced. He has had an interception two straight weeks and leads the NFL with four fumble recoveries. He is the first Steelers’ linebacker to return a fumble for a touchdown since L.J. Fort last season against Atlanta.
Los Angeles’ running game struggled again as Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler were held to 13 carries for 32 yards.
“The run game is tough right now. Austin and I can’t get things rolling,” said Gordon, who is averaging 2.5 yards per carry in the two games since he ended his holdout. “How it’s looking right now, the pass is going to have to open up the run.”
Henry, who missed the past four games due to a knee injury, set career highs in receptions (eight) and yards (100).
“Going into the game I wasn’t planning on playing probably 50-60 snaps,” Henry said. “I was feeling really good, so it’s just kind of how it went.”
Steelers: LB Stephon Tuitt (pectoral), LB T.J. Watt (oblique) and CB Joe Haden (groin) were also injured during the game and did not return.
Steelers have their bye week before hosting Miami in a Monday night game on Oct. 28.
Chargers travel to Tennessee next Sunday to start a stretch of three of their next four on the road.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Frosh RB Hall leads Iowa State over West Virginia 38-14

By JOHN RABY AP Sports Writer
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Breece Hall may have given Iowa State the dependable option at running back the Cyclones have been looking for since star David Montgomery left.
The freshman rushed for 132 yards and scored three touchdowns to lead Iowa State to a 38-14 victory over West Virginia on Saturday night in a game in which the Mountaineers lost quarterback Austin Kendall to injury.
Hall scored on a pair of 1-yard runs in the second and fourth quarters and also had a 12-yard TD in the third quarter.
“He certainly did a great job tonight and hopefully he can build on that,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “I expect that he would.”
The 205-pound Hall is the third different running back to lead the Cyclones (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) in rushing this season and the first to eclipse 100 yards. Quarterback Brock Purdy had 102 yards a week ago against TCU.
Johnnie Lang started Saturday’s game and had four carries for 11 yards before giving way to Hall, who entered the game fifth on the team with 84 rushing yards on 18 carries.
“Breece just brings a lot to the table,” said Iowa State wide receiver La’Michael Pettway. “He’s physical. He can move. I like his feet. He’s got a quick twitch and he’s smart. With Breece just being a freshman he still has a lot to learn so that can be scary.”
Kendall was hit hard while attempting a pass during West Virginia’s first series. He did not return and was replaced by backup Jack Allison.
West Virginia coach Neal Brown said Kendall appeared to sustain a chest injury and will know more by early in the week.
“It’s not an arm or shoulder injury,” Brown said.
Purdy threw for one TD and ran for another for Iowa State, who held the Mountaineers (3-3, 1-2) scoreless in the second half. The Cyclones scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to pull away.
“I’m not disappointed in our effort. I thought our guys were ready to play,” Brown said. “We just ran out of gas. They are one of the top offenses in the country and I thought we did a pretty good job holding them in check, 372 yards.”
Iowa State: Hall’s performance will help the Cyclones take the running load off of Purdy, who entered the game with the most carries on the team.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers were limited to 190 yards of offense. Allison had one good series but couldn’t generate enough offense to keep up with Purdy. Allison finished 18 of 24 for 140 yards with one touchdown pass and an interception.
“I think it’s tough when a backup quarterback has to come into a game and play,” Brown said. “In college football, you don’t get as many reps. I thought under the circumstances he did an OK job.”
The Mountaineers will be without cornerback Hakeem Bailey for most of next weekend’s game after the senior was called for targeting for a hit on wide receiver Tarique Milton early in the third quarter.
Iowa State’s offense had two three-and-outs all season entering the game but failed to get a first down on two of its first three series Saturday. On the second one, West Virginia’s Tykee Smith caught a deflected pass from Purdy and went 19 yards for the opening touchdown.
West Virginia’s Nicktroy Fortune broke up a second-quarter pass that would have forced an Iowa State punt near midfield. Instead, linebacker VanDarius Cowan was called for using his hands to the face on the play, giving the Cyclones a first down at the 34. Purdy later converted a fourth-down run and then scored on a 2-yard run to put Iowa State ahead 14-7.
Iowa State travels to Texas Tech next Saturday.
West Virginia plays at No. 6 Oklahoma next Saturday.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

Iowa State leaning on QB Brock Purdy in run game

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State has been searching for a primary ball carrier all season.
The Cyclones might have found their guy in quarterback Brock Purdy.
Purdy gave Iowa State (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) the boost it was looking for in its ground game last week against TCU. Purdy ran for a season-high 102 yards and two touchdowns in leading Iowa State past the Horned Frogs, 49-24.
Purdy, who is ranked fifth in the country in total yards per game in part because of his rushing ability, will look to build on a strong sophomore season when the Cyclones travel to face West Virginia (3-2, 1-1) on Saturday.
“It all starts with Purdy. He’s special. He’s playing at an extremely high level. I think he’s one of the top quarterbacks in the country,” Mountaineers coach Neal Brown said. “He’s a dual threat. He’s got the ability to run with power. He’s got the ability to run with speed. He’s active.”
Purdy’s feet were a big reason why he ascended to the starting job in 2018.
Purdy ran the ball 100 times last season for 308 yards and five touchdowns to supplement star running back David Montgomery. Purdy’s scrambles helped compensate for a line that struggled at times to open up conventional running lanes between the tackles.
But it’s Purdy’s arm that makes Iowa State’s offense go, and he played it safe in the opener against Northern Iowa with just two carries. That conservative approach nearly led to disaster, as the Cyclones needed three overtimes — and a fumble recovery by an eagle-eyed Purdy just outside the end zone — to survive, 29-26.
Purdy has since become a focal point of Iowa State’s ground game. Purdy leads the Cyclones with 203 yards rushing on 4.5 yards per carry, and he’s already matched his 2018 total with five TDs on the ground through five games.
Still, the one area where the diminutive Purdy could improve on is sliding when he’s about to get hit.
Purdy rarely does it, even though he’s gone as far as to watch film on how Kyler Murray, last year’s Heisman winner, successfully avoided contact.
“(Passing game coordinator Joel) Gordon and all of the (coaches) say ‘Get down as much as you can,'” he said. “But in the moment, it sort of hard because I want to get all the extra yards that I can. I’ll get better at it.”
Purdy’s ability to tuck and run it has undoubtedly helped his passing game as well. Purdy is also fifth nationally in passing yards per game (315.6) with a 70.8 completion percentage as teams often keep one defender home to spy on Purdy.
“He just gives us another option in terms of making teams defend the entire field,” coach Matt Campbell said. It “allows us to take advantage of some mismatches.”
Ideally, Iowa State would like to use Purdy to complement its ground attack rather than spearhead it, which potentially exposes him the program’s most valuable player to a hit that could end his season. But to do that, the Cyclones would need at least one of their running backs to emerge as a reliable option.
Johnnie Lang moved closer to becoming that guy against the Horned Frogs. Lang, a sophomore who all but disappeared from the game plan after a strong opener, posted career highs of 16 carries for 72 yards in the win over TCU.
“We’re getting a lot close there,” Campbell said. “I though Johnnie had a great game last week, where he got the tough yards in some critical moments.”
AP Sports Writer John Raby contributed to this report from Morgantown, West Virginia.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Heinola, inexperienced D lead Jets past Penguins, 4-1

By DAN SCIFO Associated Press
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The youngest member of an inexperienced Winnipeg Jets defensive unit led the way to a big win.
Ville Heinola scored his first NHL goal and the Jets beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 on Tuesday night.
“It was a good moment for me,” the 18-year-old Heinola said. “It was exciting. Of course, I was dreaming of that.”
The Jets got their first win in Pittsburgh since returning to the NHL in 2011. The Penguins previously won 18 consecutive home games against the Jets-Atlanta Thrashers franchise dating to March 24, 2007. Pittsburgh’s last loss against Winnipeg at home came on Dec. 27, 2006.
Tucker Poolman scored his second NHL goal and Neal Pionk his second of the season as three defensemen scored for a young Jets blueline, which combined for 350 career NHL games.
“Those guys have worked really hard back there,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “They’re learning every shift. I thought they were great.”
Nikolaj Ehlers scored his first of the season, while Patrik Laine and Mark Scheifele both had three assists for the Jets, who closed a season-opening, four-game road trip. Connor Hellebuyck made 36 saves in his second start of the season.
“I thought the guys in front of me played very hard,” Hellebuyck said. “They were blocking shots at the right time and controlling shots from the outside. It was a team win.”
Sidney Crosby scored his first of the season and Matt Murray stopped 17 shots for Pittsburgh, which routed Columbus 7-2 on Saturday.
“I don’t think the score (Tuesday) was an indication of how the game was played,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “I think the game was a lot closer than the score indicates.”
Jets defenseman Dmitry Kulikov was granted a personal leave of absence, while Josh Morrissey missed his second straight game after sustaining an upper body injury during warmups before Sunday’s loss at the New York Islanders.
The Jets played Tuesday without six defensemen from last season’s team, which lost to eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis in the first round of the playoffs. The list includes Kulikov and Morrissey, while Dustin Byfuglien remains away from the team on a personal leave. Winnipeg traded Jacob Trouba to the New York Rangers, while Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot left in free agency.
Heinola, Poolman and Pionk provided not only defense but scoring.
“We all went through training camp together, so we all got to know each other pretty well,” Pionk said. “We created that bond in training camp and went from there.”
Pittsburgh had injury troubles of its own as Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad were recently placed on injured reserve after leaving Saturday’s win against Columbus with lower body injuries. Sullivan said both will be out long term. Patric Hornqvist also left Tuesday’s game with a lower-body injury.
“We had a shortened bench for a lot of the game and the guys competed pretty hard,” Sullivan said.
Crosby opened the scoring 32 seconds into the game. He was alone at the top of the crease when he redirected Jake Guentzel’s pass past Hellebuyck.
Heinola, the 20th overall pick in this year’s draft, scored his first NHL goal at 5:48 of the period. Heinola’s shot from the top of the left circle snuck underneath Murray’s glove to tie the game.
Ehlers gave Winnipeg a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later. He pounced on a turnover at Pittsburgh’s blue line and ripped a short-side wrist shot past a standing Murray.
Poolman put Winnipeg ahead 3-1 just 54 seconds into the second period with a blocker-side wrist shot from the slot.
Pionk made it 4-1 midway through the second. It was the third goal scored by the Jets’ young defensive corps, more than enough to beat Pittsburgh on this night.
“I thought they were fantastic,” Hellebuyck said. “They were blocking shots, they were controlling pucks and they did exactly what they were asked to do. I think as the game went on, they got even better.”
NOTES: Crosby passed Jean Beliveau for 41st on the NHL’s career points list. . Pittsburgh’s Brandon Tanev played against his former team. Tanev, who signed a six-year, $21-million contract in July, set career highs last season with the Jets and scored 24 goals and 51 points in 195 games. . Penguins D John Marino and F Sam Lafferty made their NHL debuts. Lafferty grew up less than 100 miles from Pittsburgh. . The Penguins have won 15 of their last 20 games overall against the Jets.
Jets: Play their home opener Thursday against Minnesota
Penguins: Close a season-opening four-game homestand Thursday against Anaheim

Texas tailback Johnson emerges from ’emergency’ role

By JIM VERTUNO AP Sports Writer
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Roschon Johnson arrived at Texas expecting a season of learning how to be a college quarterback, not being the Longhorns’ emergency fix at running back.
Yet five games into the season, the freshman is arguably the No. 11 Longhorns’ most reliable option at tailback and just produced a rugged and impressive 121-yard performance in a win at West Virginia.
Johnson still has his eye on playing quarterback, but is set to keep taking handoffs from Sam Ehlinger this season. The No. 11 Longhorns (4-1, 2-0) face No. 6 Oklahoma (5-0, 2-0) on Saturday in Dallas in the Big 12’s biggest border rivalry.
“If I’m playing running back right now, I’m a running back,” Johnson said. “Simple as that.”
Nothing was simple about his position change. It happened because Texas became desperate as preseason injuries piled up so fast coach that Tom Herman had nowhere else to turn. Texas had only two healthy scholarship running backs by the end of training camp.
Sitting in the quarterbacks meeting room was Johnson, who signed with Texas as one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country, and who rushed for 4,900 yards in high school.
Johnson could clearly make people miss. But could he handle the position change against college defenses and would he want to?
He’s the one made the first move, sending a text to Herman before the season-opener against Louisiana Tech.
“If you need me,” Johnson told Herman, “Play me.”
Johnson’s coaches and teammates had already seen his passion to play. Texas freshmen wear a red stripe on their helmet in training camp until they earn the right to take if off. The day Johnson was allowed to take off his stripe, he delivered a fiery speech to his teammates that he’d do anything for them.
“He pretty much poured his heart out,” said Texas senior center and team captain Zack Shackelford.
His drive matched the team’s needs at running back. Herman first planned to play Johnson on special teams, knowing he could still redshirt if he didn’t play more than four games. But when the tailback injuries list grew too long, Johnson was in the backfield in the season opener, even though Herman had called him a “break glass in case of emergency” option.
By the end of the first game, an injury to No. 2 tailback Jordan Whittington had moved Johnson up the depth chart again.
Even Ehlinger didn’t always know who he’d be handing the ball on any given play.
“I looked over and it was Roschon,” Ehlinger said. “I was like ‘What’s up, bro?’ … We were sitting in the same (quarterback) room a few weeks ago.”
Johnson had to carry the running game himself at West Virginia when starter Keaontay Ingram got roughed up early (Ingram would return late in the game), and Johnson tore through the Mountaineers at an average of 5.8 yards per carry. The effort earned him honors as Big 12 newcomer of the week.
Production like that is simply too good to take off the field. Daniel Young and Kirk Johnson, two of the tailbacks who were injured early, have both returned, but neither has more than four carries while Johnson keeps pounding out yards.
Johnson has made the switch look natural. He’s patient behind his blockers and looks comfortable running in the middle of the line.
But he wants to eventually throw passes again. Herman and Johnson eventually will have to talk about his future as a quarterback, where he was No. 3 on the depth chart when the season began. And with Ehlinger just a junior, it could be a while.
“Honestly, I’ll do anything for this team,” Johnson said. “I’m just rolling with the flow right now.”
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

McCann, second-period burst leads Pens past Blue Jackets

By DAN SCIFO Associated Press
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Penguins rebounded from a season-opening dud.
Jared McCann scored twice as the Penguins had five goals in the second period to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-2 on Saturday night.
The offensive outburst helped Pittsburgh rediscover its confidence after making 17 turnovers in a home loss to Buffalo on Thursday.
Pittsburgh scored five goals on 14 second-period shots. The last time Pittsburgh scored five goals in a period came on Jan. 16, 2017, against Washington.
“I thought our confidence built as the game went on,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “I thought we were playing on our toes and I thought we mounted a pretty good attack. There’s still some areas where we know we have to clean up, but I thought the guys played hard.”
The Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin left in the second period and did not return with an undisclosed injury. He ran into D Kris Letang near center ice and awkwardly fell into the boards. Malkin, the 2012 NHL MVP, scored a power-play goal against Buffalo on Thursday.
Center Nick Bjugstad also left and didn’t return for Pittsburgh. Sullivan said after the game that Malkin and Bjugstad were being evaluated and he didn’t have an update on their status.
McCann tied a career high with three points. The other time came as a member of the Florida Panthers when he had a goal and two assists on March 20, 2018. McCann scored two goals once with Pittsburgh on March 23 last season against Dallas.
“It’s huge, but I can’t take all the credit,” McCann said. “My linemates did most of the work and found me. I just tried to get it to the net.”
Patric Hornqvist scored twice and Letang had a power-play goal, while Teddy Blueger and Marcus Pettersson also scored for Pittsburgh. Alex Galchenyuk, acquired from Arizona in a trade for Phil Kessel, recorded two assists for his first two points with Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby also had two assists.
Matt Murray made 28 saves and is now two wins from 100 in his NHL career.
Gustav Nyquist scored his first goal for Columbus and Zach Werenski scored for the Blue Jackets, who lost their second game in as many days. Columbus lost its season-opener 4-1 to Toronto at home and has been outscored 11-3 in two games. Elvis Merzlikins stopped 31 shots in his NHL debut.
“It’s an opportunity for us right away at the beginning of the year to teach about patience, to teach about how we have to play,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. “Hopefully, we’ll go about it the right way.”
Pittsburgh opened the scoring at 1:45 of the second when Hornqvist tipped Jack Johnson’s point shot past Merzlikins. The Penguins took a 2-0 lead 2:29 later when Pettersson’s shot from the top of the left circle caromed off Merzlikins’ glove and behind the line.
Not long after Pittsburgh’s second goal, Werenski was left alone at the right side of the crease and cut the Blue Jackets’ deficit in half.
But the Penguins regained their two-goal cushion, 3-1, two minutes later when McCann sent a blocker-side wrist shot behind Merzlikins during a two-on-one.
McCann scored his second goal of the game 14 seconds after a fighting major to Crosby, his first in four years. McCann took a backhand pass from Galchenyuk at the blue line and sent another blocker-side wrist shot past Merzlikins.
Letang scored Pittsburgh’s fifth goal of the second period with 1.2 seconds to play. He beat Merzlikins with a slap shot from the right faceoff dot.
“It took us awhile to find our swagger,” McCann said. “That’s something that this team needs to play with. We have guys who have so much skill and need to make plays, but sometimes we just have to keep it simple.”
NOTES: Crosby passed Larry Murphy for sole possession of 42nd-place on the NHL’s all-time points list with 1,218. … Werenski, with 39 goals, is two from the Blue Jackets’ record for most by a defenseman. … Murray has nine wins in 12 games all-time against Columbus. … Pittsburgh has won eight straight home games against Columbus and 16 of 20 all-time. … The Penguins have won eight of their last 10 games against Columbus. … Brandon Tanev and Dominik Kahun, acquired in the offseason, recorded their first points with Pittsburgh.
Blue Jackets: Host Buffalo on Monday
Penguins: Continue a season-opening four-game homestand Tuesday against Winnipeg.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/tag/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Ehlinger leads No. 11 Texas over West Virginia 42-31

By JOHN RABY AP Sports Writer
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Before he took a knee on the final play, quarterback Sam Ehlinger flashed the “Hook’em Horns” sign toward the Texas fans in West Virginia’s stands.
He got his payback, even if he insists he’d put aside last year’s defiant celebration by several Mountaineers on his home field.
Ehlinger threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more scores while No. 11 Texas converted three turnovers into TDs in a 42-31 victory over West Virginia on Saturday.
Ehlinger and Texas (4-1, 2-0 Big 12) beat the Mountaineers (3-2, 1-1) on the road for the second straight time.
“I’m really proud of the way that everyone kind of kept our heads down and kept swinging,” he said.
Ehlinger and several Texas players were upset last year after West Virginia players flashed “horns down” signs during West Virginia’s 42-41 win in Austin, Texas. Ehlinger had noted in a tweet that was later deleted: “Do not think it will be forgotten.”
Maybe it wasn’t forgotten, but it wasn’t the inspiration behind Saturday’s win, either.
“I don’t think any of it was motivation, honestly,” Ehlinger said. “We’re focused on being the best that we can be and external forces don’t matter.”
Ehlinger finished 18 of 33 for 211 yards. He threw just his second interception of the season that West Virginia turned into a third-quarter field goal.
The Texas defense showed no signs of slowing down despite injuries that have decimated the secondary. The Longhorns intercepted Austin Kendall four times, twice by cornerback D’Shawn Jamison.
Texas needed those turnovers to break open a close game, too.
Texas coach Tom Herman praised his defense for making key plays when West Virginia had a chance to retake the lead after halftime. That came as the Longhorns’ offense sputtered, punting on four of its first five drives in the second half while also having Ehlinger’s interception.
“We knew this was going to be a really tough environment,” Herman said.
B.J. Foster’s pick early in the fourth quarter led to Devin Duvernay’s 13-yard scoring run. Kendall was intercepted on the next drive by Jamison at the West Virginia 18, and Ehlinger threw a lateral to offensive lineman Samuel Cosmi, who rumbled 12 yards into the end zone for a 35-17 lead.
Kendall threw three TD passes, including pair of fourth-quarter scores, and had a 1-yard scoring run. He finished 31 of 46 for a career-high 367 yards.
West Virginia coach Neal Brown came to Kendall’s defense. He said the Oklahoma graduate transfer’s first interception was a misread but the other three were the fault of the receivers, who either had a chance to catch the ball or ran the wrong route.
“I had a pretty good eye on the field and I thought the kid played well, played his best game,” Brown said. “We were in the game offensively because of him.”
Texas: The Longhorns were making their first trip outside of the state of Texas this season and showed they were not looking ahead to next week’s Red River Rivalry game against No. 6 Oklahoma.
“We did a good job on staying focused on the task at hand,” Ehlinger said.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers started a brutal October stretch with a bust. They also have Iowa State, No. 6 Oklahoma and Baylor on the schedule this month.
Texas freshman Roschon Johnson, a converted quarterback, finished with career highs of 121 yards on 21 carries. He was used extensively after starting running back Keontay Ingram injured his neck in the first quarter before returning later in the game.
Texas could creep back into the top 10 with the road win.
Texas: The Longhorns play the Sooners next Saturday in Dallas. Texas beat the Sooners 48-45 during the 2018 regular season at the State Fair of Texas, though the Sooners won the rematch in the Big 12 title game.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers host the Cyclones next Saturday after Iowa State embarrassed the Mountaineers 30-14 a year ago.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25