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Houston’s dreams crushed; Oklahoma St. rolls

Associated Press / December 4, 2011
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Houston lost much more than a game in yesterday’s Conference USA championship.

Austin Davis threw four touchdown passes and No. 24 Southern Mississippi ruined No. 7 Houston’s perfect season and Bowl Championship Series hopes with a 49-28 victory over the seventh-ranked Cougars in Houston.

It was star quarterback Case Keenum’s last home game, and that could also be the case for coach Kevin Sumlin, who’s mentioned as a top candidate for virtually every higher-profile job opening.

Sumlin shot down a media report that he’ll soon become the coach at Texas A&M, which fired Mike Sherman two days ago.

“I haven’t talked to anybody,’’ he said. “I haven’t said anything to anybody about it.’’

On a grander scale, the Cougars (12-1) blew their big chance to impress a national television audience and show that they had finally climbed to the top in their state after years of playing in the shadows of A&M and Texas.

The loss also cost Conference USA $13 million, the amount leagues receive for having a BCS team.

Keenum could’ve also bolstered his case for an invitation to Saturday’s Heisman ceremony.

Instead, the Golden Eagles (11-2) turned the game into their showcase, shackling Houston’s high-powered offense and striking with several big plays to win their first league title and reach 11 victories for the first time.

Tracey Lampley caught two touchdown passes and the Golden Eagles became the first team to hold Houston, averaging more than 50 points per game, to fewer than 35 this season.

Keenum completed 41 of 67 passes for 373 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions. He became the first quarterback to reach 5,000 yards passing in three seasons, one more record for his magnificent career.

Oklahoma St. 44, Oklahoma 10 - Joseph Randle ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns, Richetti Jones returned a fumble for a score, and the No. 3 Cowboys throttled the No. 13 Sooners in Stillwater to win the Big 12 championship and make their case to play for the national title.

The Cowboys (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) snapped an eight-game losing streak in the Bedlam rivalry and won their first outright conference title since 1948 in the three-team Missouri Valley.

Oklahoma State’s defense, badmouthed much of the season while giving up big yardage but leading the nation in takeaways, forced the Sooners into five turnovers - four by quarterback Landry Jones.

Clemson 38, Clemson 10 - Tajh Boyd threw three touchdown passes and ran for another as the No. 21 Tigers routed the No. 5 Hokies in Charlotte, N.C., to win their first Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 20 years.

The Tigers (10-3) clinched their first Orange Bowl berth since 1981, the year they won their only national championship.

Wisconsin 42, Michigan St. 39 - Montee Ball ran for three touchdowns, including the decisive 7-yard score with 3:45 to go, leading the No. 15 Badgers past the No. 11 Spartans (10-3) in the inaugural Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis.

Wisconsin (11-2) is now headed to its second straight Rose Bowl.

Ball ran 27 times for 137 yards and caught a TD pass, giving him 38 touchdowns this season. That’s one short of Barry Sanders’s NCAA season record.

Russell Wilson (17 of 24 for 187 yards with three TDs) set an NCAA record with a TD pass in his 37th straight game, surpassing Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell’s mark.

Boise St. 45, New Mexico 0 - Kellen Moore fired three touchdown passes in his final home game for the ninth-ranked Broncos and Doug Martin ran for a pair of scores against the Lobos.

The victory improved Boise State to 11-1 (6-1 in the Mountain West) and cleared the way for another trip to the MAACO Bowl in Las Vegas, which the Broncos won last year (26-3 over Utah).

Kansas St. 30, Iowa St. 23 - John Hubert ran for 120 yards and the go-ahead touchdown, and the No. 16 Wildcats kept alive their chance for a share of the Big 12 championship until Oklahoma State routed Oklahoma.

Collin Klein ran for a touchdown and threw for another, and Anthony Cantele was perfect on three field goal attempts, allowing the Wildcats (10-2, 7-2) to reach 10 wins for the first time since 2003. TCU 56, UNLV 9 - Greg McCoy returned a kickoff 99 yards and Kris Gardner had a 16-yard interception return for a touchdown in a 12-second span, and the 18th-ranked Horned Frogs hope their victory in Fort Worth gets them into the BCS.

If the Horned Frogs (10-2, 7-0 Mountain West) move up two spots into the top 16 of the final BCS standings today, they will be virtually guaranteed a BCS game.

Baylor 48, Texas 24 - At Waco, Texas, Robert Griffin III ran for two touchdowns and passed for two more to lead the No. 19 Bears, who capped their best regular season in 25 years. And perhaps Griffin did enough to persuade Heisman Trophy voters he’s the best player.

Baylor fans will now wonder if Griffin, a fourth-year junior who has already graduated, has played his last home game for the Bears (9-3, 6-3 Big 12).

Cincinnati 35, UConn 27 - Munchie Legaux threw a career-high three touchdown passes, and the Bearcats’ defense got two scores to help host Cincinnati (9-3, 5-2) beat the Huskies (5-7, 3-4) and earn a three-way share of the Big East title.

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