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TCU’s quarterback battle got some clarity this week but not in the way that is going to make the Horned Frogs feel much better about their depth at one of the most important positions on the field.

Former Ohio State quarterback Matthew Baldwin had his transfer waiver denied by the NCAA. Baldwin, a former four-star prospect from Lake Travis High School in Austin, Texas, joined the Horned Frogs in June after competing against Justin Fields for the Buckeyes’ starting job in spring practice. Although his request for immediate eligibility was denied, 247Sports is reporting that TCU is planning to file an appeal on Baldwin’s behalf.

If that appeal is denied and the NCAA sticks to its initial ruling, Baldwin will have to sit out the 2019 season before he’s eligible to compete for the Horned Frogs.

Baldwin’s argument for immediate eligibility is based on the fact that he redshirted his first year at Ohio State following an injury late in his high school senior season. It’s worth noting, however, that TCU was already going to have to start fall camp without Baldwin in the quarterback battle following offseason knee surgery. If the NCAA’s ruling is overturned on appeal, he still might not be healthy enough to play until after the season has started.
With Baldwin officially (for now) ruled out, the TCU quarterback battle is narrowed to true freshman Max Duggan, Kansas State transfer Alex Delton, Justin Rogers and Mike Collins. Duggan was a four-star prospect in the 2019 class and an early enrollee, but Gary Patterson has not hinted at any one of the three remaining quarterbacks as a frontrunner in the battle.

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Portland Trail Blazers guard Rodney Hood has been cleared to play in Tuesday’s Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, just two days after suffering a bone bruise in his left knee.

Hood was injured in the third quarter of Portland’s Game 7 victory on Sunday in Denver, going down awkwardly after Nuggets guard Torrey Craig set a back screen on him.

“I’m solid,” Hood said after warming up. “There’s still some soreness. It’s just something that I’m going to have to manage and deal with it.”

Hood did not return to Sunday’s contest, and the Trail Blazers originally referred to the injury as a hyperextended left knee. An MRI revealed a bone bruise, and Hood was listed as questionable for Game 1 against the Golden State Warriors.

Hood, who was acquired in a midseason trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers, played a critical role in Portland’s Western Conference semifinals series victory. He averaged 14.7 points per game on 57.6 percent shooting off the bench, highlighted by a 25-point performance in the Blazers’ Game 6 win in Portland.

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AKRON, Ohio — Buffalo’s run of conference championships, 20-win seasons and a major upset in last year’s NCAA Tournament have brought rankings, publicity and high expectations.

Right now, the Bulls aren’t meeting them.

CJ Massinburg scored 21 points, Dontay Caruthers added 15 and No. 25 Buffalo slogged its way to a 76-70 win over Akron on Tuesday night, dropping the Zips to 0-31 against ranked teams.

The Bulls (21-3, 9-2 Mid-American Conference) were held to one of their lowest point totals this season, but the defending MAC champs were able to do enough on both ends of the floor against the Zips (14-10, 6-5), who came in ranked 13th nationally in scoring defense.

Coach Nate Oats wasn’t happy with his team’s overall performance. The Bulls made 17 turnovers, several careless ones, and nearly blew a late lead.

“Give them credit. That’s one of the best defenses we faced all year,” Oats said. “They made it hard on us and we make it hard on ourselves sometimes too with our stupid turnovers.”

Caruthers came off the bench and gave the Bulls some solid minutes, drawing a charging foul during a key second-half stretch for Buffalo, which forced two 30-second clock violations after halftime.

Loren Cristian Jackson scored 20 and Tyler Cheese 16 for the Zips, who were down by nine with 43 seconds left but closed within 73-70 on Daniel Utomi’s 3-pointer with 16.3 seconds to go.

Akron fouled Massinburg, who has been playing with a shoulder injury, on the inbounds pass and the senior guard made the first free throw. He missed the second, but Caruthers made a great play to grab the offensive rebound and dropped in a layup for the final bucket.

Oats bemoaned the Bulls’ inability to put the game away in the final minutes, something they must do better with bigger games looming.

“We were up 10 with two minutes to go and nine with 30 seconds to go,” Oats said, shaking his head. “We gotta do a way better job of closing games when we have leads.”

BIG PICTURE

Buffalo: These are the dog days of the season, the mid-February stretch that can test a team’s resolve. The Bulls have been dealing with some injuries, but they haven’t played a complete game in nearly a month.

With the MAC and NCAA tournaments drawing near, Oats wants his squad to start clicking.

“We need to be playing good basketball come March,” Oats said. “It would be great to get to March on a run. Usually this team, since I’ve been here, we usually peak in March, so now’s the time to start turning this up. We show signs of it.”

Akron: The Zips were coming off a big win over rival Kent State, but coach John Groce didn’t like the way his team looked from the start.

“We got what we deserved,” he said. “We didn’t play very well. I thought our body language, excuse-making, that’s out. And when you do that stuff, you get what you deserve. We got to be better. We made a lot of improvement from last year when it came to attitude and team. But some guys today need to get over their feelings. It’s not about their feelings. It’s about Akron.”

CRYING FOUL

Groce was not pleased with the free-throw disparity.

Buffalo went 21 of 26 from the line while Akron was just 4 of 7. Massinburg alone shot 12 free throws, and Groce said some of those came after some “hand-check calls.”

“I’ll have to take a look at it, but 26-7 on free-throw differential,” he said. “I want to take look at it before I have further comments on that. That’s tough. You’re going to be in a hole there.”

NOT YET

Akron is still looking for its first win over a ranked team. Buffalo was just the fifth ranked opponent to visit James A. Rhodes Arena — where LeBron James played numerous high school games — and the first since No. 20 Nevada in 2006-07.

TECHNICALLY SPEAKING

Buffalo’s Jeenathan Williams was called for a technical foul in the first half, when he buried a 3-pointer and then barked at Akron’s bench. Moments later, Groce got slapped with a “T” for expressing his difference of opinion with the officials over a call.

HIGHER POWER

The Bulls were ranked as high as No. 14 in the AP Top 25 earlier this season, but have been sliding following losses at Northern Illinois and Bowling Green. Their run of being ranked 14 straight weeks is a MAC record, bettering the previous mark held by Bowling Green (1961-62).

UP NEXT

Buffalo: The Bulls get back on the road with a visit to Toledo on Friday.

Akron: The Zips go to Ball State on Saturday.

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BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Christian Lutete had 29 points as UMass Lowell rallied late in the second half to edge Binghamton 85-79 on Wednesday night.

Josh Gantz added 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the River Hawks (12-9, 4-2 America East Conference), who have won four straight. Obadiah Noel added another 16 points with nine rebounds and Alex Rivera had 13 points.

UMass Lowell trailed 44-39 at halftime and 57-43 early in the second half when Lutete drained three-consecutive 3-pointers and Rivera added a fourth to help close to 66-59 with 8:49 to go. Later, Noel scored 10 points of a 12-4 run that pushed the River Hawks into a 78-75 lead with 2:31 left and they held on for the win.

Sam Sessoms scored a season-high 32 points for the Bearcats (5-15, 1-4), who have lost the last four. Caleb Stewart added a career-high 22 points and grabbed 16 rebounds.

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Former Kansas State quarterback Alex Delton, who initially intended to transfer to UTEP, will transfer to TCU, he announced Tuesday.

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Final 2019 ESPN 300 player update
The last prospect ranking before national signing day Feb. 6 includes a new five-star and big movers up and down in the ESPN 300.

Delton, a running quarterback, put up 734 yards on the ground and 1,191 through the air as a part-time starter for the Wildcats over the past two seasons. Skylar Thompson eventually won the starting job away from Delton early in the 2018 season.

The Horned Frogs lost 2018 starter Shawn Robinson to injury, then to transfer, as Robinson left for Missouri. Mike Collins, who took over for Robinson midway through the season, is battling back himself from a season-ending leg injury.

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UConn on Saturday secured a distinction it would rather ignore: worst defense in FBS history.

The Huskies set FBS single-season records for points allowed (605) and yards allowed (7,409) during their game against Temple in East Hartford, Connecticut. They entered Saturday’s finale 24 points shy of tying the previous single-season FBS record for most points allowed, set by East Carolina with 572 in 2010. Temple had 27 points midway through the second quarter and 40 in the first half, winning in a rout, 57-7.

Kansas previously held the single-season FBS record for most yards per game allowed with 560.83 in 2015. The Huskies allowed 290 yards in the first half against Temple and 516 for the game, setting a record of 617.4.

The Huskies also eclipsed the record of 50.27 points per game allowed by Louisiana-Lafayette in 1997, surrendering 50.42 per game.

“All I know how to do is go find guys that want to be here, that want to give everything they’ve got,” a fired-up coach Randy Edsall said after Saturday’s game. “Because I ain’t putting up with that. … I ain’t putting up with that anymore.

“This game’s too hard to play if you don’t love it, and if you don’t love the grind, and if you don’t like to be in that weight room and you don’t like to be with teammates and you don’t like to not let a teammate down — you shouldn’t play this game. Shouldn’t play it. And that’s what we’ve got to get. We’ve got to get guys that love the game, that want to pay the price each and every day in everything that they do, and get those guys that we had before that have a little chip on their shoulder, that haven’t enabled and entitled, and that want to work, and understand what team is all about.

“That’s what we’ve got to find. … Because this game ain’t for the weak of heart. It isn’t. And we’ll go find those guys.”

UConn (1-11, 0-8) did not beat an FBS opponent this season or win an American Athletic Conference game. The Huskies also went winless in conference play for the first time since going 0-4 in the Yankee Conference in 1954.

UConn’s defense has been scrutinized all season. In late September, Edsall ended a news conference early when asked about the status of defensive coordinator Bill Crocker.

The Huskies entered Saturday’s season finale ranked last (129th) in the FBS in rush yards allowed, net yards per pass attempt and average yards margin. They finished the season allowing 335 rushing yards per game, 10.69 yards per pass attempt and with an average yards margin of minus-239.

“You definitely have to take it with you,” UConn defensive tackle Caleb Thomas said of carrying the pain of this season into 2019. “You’ve got to keep it moving, but you’ve got to keep this in the back of your mind. You don’t want to feel this again.”

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TULSA, Okla. — Seth Boomer threw for 251 yards and a touchdown and Tulsa thwarted SMU’s bowl hopes with a 27-24 win on Saturday.

The Mustangs were looking for their sixth win for the second consecutive week to become bowl eligible for the second straight year. Memphis beat SMU 28-18 last week.

Ben Hicks completed an 11-yard scoring pass to James Proche with 91 seconds left and SMU was within 27-24. The ensuing onside kick went out of bounds and Tulsa (3-9, 2-6 American Athletic Conference) ran out the clock.

Tulsa led from the start building a 21-0 lead. Shamari Brooks scored on a 15-yard run, Boomer threw a 2-yard TD to Keenen Johnson and Corey Taylor II plunged in from 1 yard out. SMU (5-7, 4-4) responded with a nine-play, 68-yard drive that ended when Ke’Mon Freeman scored from 2 yards out.

In the third quarter, Rodney Clemons blocked a 42-yard field goal attempt by John Parker Romo and scooped the ball and raced 45 yards to the endzone to make it 21-14.

Romo made field goals of 34 yards in the third quarter and 22 yards with 3:28 to play.

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Jamie Newman’s season started on a sour note and finished on a sweet one.

Newman ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 34 seconds left to cap a big performance and Wake Forest’s comeback in a 37-34 victory over Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl on Saturday. The quarterback who lost the competition for the starting job in fall camp, then replaced an injured Sam Hartman, delivered big play after big play in a storybook ending to the season.

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“When Sam got hurt and Jamie became the starter, it wasn’t like, `Woe is us,’ and `we’re in trouble,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “Jamie and Sam were going back and forth all of camp and then Jamie got hurt (bruised quad) in the last scrimmage.”

Even after that go-ahead score, the Demon Deacons (7-6) had to wait to celebrate until Riley Patterson’s 43-yard field goal attempt went wide right as time expired.

Both teams scored touchdowns over the final 1:15. Memphis (8-6) lost a big lead for the second straight game after jumping ahead by 18 points in the first half.

Voted the game MVP, Newman ran for three touchdowns and passed for a fourth to lead Wake Forest, throwing for 328 yards and rushing 23 times for 91 more.

He led the Demon Deacons on a 75-yard drive starting at the 1:15 mark, covering most of it with completions of 49 and 20 yards to Alex Bachman.

“Alex Bachman made some great plays down there, a lot of one-on-one balls, 50-50 balls, and he won,” Newman said.

He rebounded from an early sack on that last scoring drive, and from a pick-six in the first half, too.

“We practice this every Wednesday throughout the week,” Newman said of the two-minute drill. “This was just another day at the office out there.”

Bachman’s second catch was reviewed and the spot was upheld at the 1-yard line after his right arm hit the pylon. Newman kept the ball for the go-ahead score.

Bachman finished with seven catches for 171 yards.

Memphis swiftly moved into position to at least tie the game. Brady White found an open Joey Magnifico on the right sideline for a 44-yard gain, with the tight end battling for extra yards down to the 17.

“I fully expected us to win that game,” Tigers coach Mike Norvell said.

The Tigers went backward after that, though, including a false start penalty after Patterson lined up to attempt a game-tying kick.

Wake Forest safety Cameron Glenn said it felt “kind of like an out-of-body experience” when the kick went right.

“I felt like my soul just lifted out of my body or something,” Glenn said. “It’s crazy.”

In the Tigers’ last outing, they had led by 17 points against No. 7 UCF in the American Athletic Conference championship game, only to lose 58-41.

Subbing for All-America running back Darrell Henderson, Patrick Taylor Jr. had given Memphis the lead with a 9-yard touchdown to cap a 14-play, 88-yard drive. Before that, the Tigers had come up empty on nine consecutive drives.

“We just kept talking to our guys on the sideline, `just continue to play,” Norvell said. “We were struggling there at times in the third and fourth quarter getting things going offensively. I thought our guys responded.”

Tony Pollard scored on a 97-yard kickoff return to tie the NCAA career mark with seven. Memphis also scored on a 37-yard interception return by Chris Claybrooks.

THE TAKEAWAY

Memphis: Lost its fourth straight bowl game and second straight big lead. Ran for 207 yards without Henderson, who skipped the game to prepare for the NFL draft.

Wake Forest: Outgained Memphis 529-378 in total yards. Last five bowl wins have all come after early deficits, including four double-digit holes.

RETURN RECORD

Pollard matched the career mark shared by Clemson’s C.J. Spiller, Houston’s Tyron Carrier and San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny. Memphis fans responded with chants of “Tony!” at Legion Field.

It was Pollard’s first kick return for a score this season, with teams kicking to him only 21 times before the bowl game. He returned four the distance in 2017 and did it twice as a redshirt freshman in 2016.

“All week coach did a good job drawing it up how they would come down and how the blocks would work out and it happened just the way we drew it up,” Pollard said.

UP NEXT

Wake Forest returns both Newman and the freshman Hartman, the starting quarterback until a season-ending leg injury. Dortch is a third-year sophomore, but three offensive line starters are seniors. The defense is poised to only lose three starters.

Memphis gets back both Taylor and Pollard, along with White, but the defense loses six starters for a team seeking its sixth straight bowl bid.

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CINCINNATI — The Bearcats surpassed their win total from the last two years combined and were in the American Athletic Conference race right to the end. By any measure, their young roster surpassed expectations.

Redshirt freshman Desmond Ridder threw a career-high four touchdown passes in the first half, and Cincinnati wrapped up the regular season with 10 victories for the first time since 2012, routing East Carolina 56-6 on Friday.

The Bearcats (10-2, 6-2 American Athletic) put an exclamation point on a resurgent season under second-year coach Luke Fickell, topping it with a display of big plays and dominating defense.

“The thing that’s so gratifying is just to see the growth,” Fickell said.

After winning a combined eight games the last two seasons, the Bearcats opened the season 6-0 and made it back into the Top 25.

“Sometimes it was one of those pinch-me-I’m-dreaming moments,” senior offensive lineman Garrett Campbell said.

Ridder had touchdown passes of 10, 30 and 57 yards in the first quarter. Charles McClelland broke a career-long run of 55 yards for another score, and Kahlil Lewis caught a 28-yard touchdown pass for a 42-6 lead at halftime. Ridder got the rest of the game off after going 20 of 29 for 335 yards in the opening half.

Lewis finished with nine catches for 203 yards and a season-high three touchdowns.

The Bearcats were coming off a 38-13 loss to UCF that knocked them out of the Top 25 and ended their aspirations of an AAC title.

The Pirates (3-8, 1-7) couldn’t maintain any momentum from their 55-21 win over UConn that ended a five-game losing streak. Holton Ahlers was 8 of 22 for 184 yards with one touchdown, one interception and two fumbles. He left after twisting his right leg in the third quarter and limping off.

Ahlers practiced only once during the week because of the sore knee.

“He got in there today and he just didn’t move around the way he normally moves around and he didn’t see the field the way he normally does,” coach Scottie Montgomery said. “He just was sore throughout the first part of the game, and then I couldn’t let him get hit anymore because he was struggling to protect himself.”

Last season, the Pirates rolled to a 48-20 win over the Bearcats in Greenville behind Trevon Brown, who set a school and league record with 270 yards receiving. In the rematch, the Pirates managed only 37 total yards while falling behind 35-0 against the league’s top-ranked defense.

“We had some breakdowns — a lot of breakdowns — on offense,” Montgomery said.

NO WARREN

The Bearcats were missing running back Michael Warren II, sidelined by an injured shoulder. Warren set a school record with 18 touchdowns this season, including 17 of them on the ground, tying the school record. He’s rushed for 1,163 yards.

Cincinnati also had to shuffle its offensive line because of injury, giving Fickell concerns heading into the game.

“It was kind of nerve-racking seeing how we’d be without Michael Warren II,” Fickell said. “He’s the catalyst for a lot of what we do offensively.”

THE TAKEAWAY

The Pirates finish their fourth straight losing season next week at NC State. They’re 9-26 in three seasons under Montgomery.

The Bearcats await word of their first bowl appearance since 2015.

BIG STEP UP

Cincinnati was one of 33 teams with four or fewer wins last season. Of those teams, the Bearcats are the only one that has reached double-digits in wins. They also won 10 games in 1951 (10-1), 2007 (10-3), 2008 (11-3), 2009 (12-1), 2011 (10-3) and 2012 (10-3).

SAYING FAREWELL

The Bearcats honored 14 seniors pregame. They have one of the nation’s youngest teams, with 72 percent of the roster consisting of underclassmen.

HOLD `EM TO THREE

The Bearcats came into the game sixth nationally in holding opponents to three-and-out drives. The Pirates went three-and-out on each of their first three possessions, and then fumbled the next two times they got the ball.

EJECTED

Cincinnati safety James Wiggins was ejected for targeting Brown on a sideline catch in the third quarter.

NOT THIS TIME

After his big game against the Bearcats last season, Brown was limited to three catches for 45 yards.

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After three straight weeks of the same four schools’ iron grips on the College Football Playoff semifinals, the Georgia Bulldogs came charging in at No. 4, knocking out Michigan, which fell to No. 7 after a 62-39 beatdown by Ohio State.

College Football Playoff Rankings
1. Alabama (12-0)
2. Clemson (12-0)
3. Notre Dame (12-0)
4. Georgia (11-1)
5. Oklahoma (11-1)
6. Ohio State (11-1)
7. Michigan (10-2)
8. UCF (11-0)
9. Florida (9-3)
10. LSU (9-3)
11. Washington (9-3)
12. Penn State (9-3)
13. Washington State (10-2)
14. Texas (9-3)
15. Kentucky (9-3)
16. West Virginia (8-3)
17. Utah (9-3)
18. Mississippi State (8-4)
19. Texas A&M (8-4)
20. Syracuse (9-3)
21. Northwestern (8-4)
22. Boise State (10-2)
23. Iowa State (7-4)
24. Missouri (8-4)
25. Fresno State (10-2)

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The Buckeyes jumped four spots to No. 6 — a big jump but not enough to leapfrog Oklahoma, which sits at No. 5. The Sooners knocked off West Virginia 59-56 last week, dropping the Mountaineers to No. 16.

“We spent a lot of time on that one [No. 6]. I understand the defensive efficiencies are there, but they really have an historic offense,” committee chair Rob Mullens said of ranking the Sooners fifth.

The committee moved 11-0 UCF up one spot to No. 8, with the Knights’ undefeated run not quite enough to get over the two-loss Wolverines.

Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame maintain their No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 spots, respectively.

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Last year’s runner-up, Georgia, is in the playoff committee’s top four for the first time this season, but a rematch of last year’s national championship against No. 1 Alabama looms this weekend.

From No. 4 to No. 11, there was a shuffling of the season’s most consistent teams and the most movement within the top 10 in the past two weeks. Washington State fell out of the top 10 to No. 13 after a loss to Washington, which is now No. 11 — a five-spot gain.

No. 9 Florida broke into the top 10 after snapping Florida State’s impressive bowl game streak on Saturday. LSU, down to No. 10, fell three spots after a 7-OT 74-72 loss to Texas A&M, which jumped just three spots to No. 19.

That caused Northwestern to take a small dip to No. 21, down two spots from last week.

No. 12 Penn State, No. 14 Texas, No. 15 Kentucky, No. 17 Utah, No. 18 Mississippi State and No. 20 Syracuse maintained their rankings from the previous release. No. 22 Boise State, No. 23 Iowa State, newcomer No. 24 Missouri and No. 25 Fresno State complete this week’s rankings.

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Herbstreit: ‘Put your seat belt on’ heading into championship weekKirk Herbstreit says anything can happen after championship week and no one is a lock for the College Football Playoff.

With conference championships this week, things could look quite different in the final iteration of the CFP rankings, out Sunday.

Alabama and Georgia clash in the SEC championship game, a rematch of last year’s national title game, which Alabama won.

Texas and Oklahoma will vie for the Big 12 crown, while Northwestern faces Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. With all of those teams outside the top four, they will be seeking to make a case for inclusion in the semifinals.

Clemson and Pitt square off for the ACC, while Utah and Washington battle on Friday night for the Pac-12 title. UCF, vying for a second straight perfect regular season, faces Memphis for the American title.

Ahead of championship weekend — with strength of schedule, conference titles, records, common opponents and other factors going into the CFP rankings — Mullens emphasized, “Each member will bring their own view on the definition of ‘the best.’”