Aug 29, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; UCF Knights running back Otis Anderson (2) runs the ball as Florida A&M Rattlers defensive lineman Renaldo Flowers Jr. (96) defends during the second half at Spectrum Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Father charged with murder of former UCF RB Otis Anderson Jr.

Former UCF running back Otis Anderson Jr. was shot and killed Monday, and his father has been charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.

Anderson Jr. was 23. The family is not related to longtime NFL running back Ottis Anderson.

“We have now confirmed and are devastated to hear of the passing of Otis Anderson Jr.,” UCF said in a statement. “He was revered by his teammates, our fans, and everyone within Knight Nation. Our deepest condolences go out to everyone who loved Otis. He was taken too soon and will truly be missed.”

An arrest report released Tuesday said Anderson Jr. had an argument with his parents at their home in Jacksonville, Fla. The father and son separated, but mother Denise Anderson told police that her husband confronted Anderson Jr. once more in the kitchen.

Police found Anderson Jr. suffering from at least one gunshot wound to the chest. He was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The elder Anderson appeared before a judge Tuesday, was held without bond and has a court appearance scheduled for Dec. 22.

Anderson Jr. played for UCF from 2017-2020. He went undrafted in 2021 and signed with the Los Angeles Rams. He spent time training camp and preseason with the Rams and began the regular season on their practice squad before being cut.

“The Rams are saddened by the tragic and sudden loss of Otis Anderson Jr. … He was a promising young man with a bright future. Our sincere condolences are with his family during this very difficult time,” the Rams said in a statement Tuesday.

Anderson Jr.’s former coach at UCF, Josh Heupel, now the coach at Tennessee, also sent his condolences.

“Saddened and stunned by the passing of Otis Anderson Jr.,” Heupel wrote. “Tough and gritty, fun and full of laughter, he made such a positive impact on our university, community, and our locker room. He was an unbelievable teammate. My condolences go out to the entire UCF family.”

–Field Level Media

Oklahoma's Jadon Haselwood (11) before a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.

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Oklahoma WRs Jadon Haselwood, Theo Wease enter transfer portal

Two of Oklahoma’s most productive wide receivers — Jadon Haselwood and Theo Wease — both five-star prospects coming out of high school, have entered the transfer portal.

Their moves came after coach Lincoln Riley left Oklahoma for Southern California. Quarterback Spencer Rattler also entered the portal on Monday.

In addition, since Riley’s departure was announced Sunday, at least six high school players who had pledged to the Sooners have decommitted.

Haselwood led the Sooners with 39 receptions and six touchdowns this season, and has 62 receptions for 736 yards and seven TDs in 28 career games. He was the No. 1 wide receiver and No. 4 overall player in the Class of 2019, as ranked by the 247Sports composite.

Wease was the No. 3 receiver and No. 21 player in the same class, and after he tied for the team lead with 37 receptions for 530 yards and four touchdowns last season, he missed the 2021 campaign with a lower leg injury. He has 45 receptions for 666 yards and six touchdowns in 24 career games.

Rattler’s decision was not a surprise, insofar as he started the season as a Heisman Trophy candidate but by midseason had lost the starting quarterback job to freshman Caleb Williams.

But Haselwood and Wease are top talents in the OU receiver room and have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

–Field Level Media

20. Steelers (17): They've given up 41 points each of the past two weeks and just put OLB T.J. Watt into COVID-19 protocol. Mike Tomlin will have to pull out all the stops to avoid his first losing season.

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Sliding Steelers enter ‘put up and shut up’ December

Mike Tomlin plans changes as the Steelers enter Week 13 with consecutive losses that dropped Pittsburgh to 5-5-1 and tied for third place in the AFC North.

The Steelers were routed by the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday (41-10) and last won Nov. 8, fighting off the Chicago Bears in a game that could have gone the other direction.

Up next: the division-leading Baltimore Ravens (8-3).

“We’ll see on Sunday, won’t we?” Tomlin said. “Like I mentioned earlier it’s put up and shut up time. Talking doesn’t get it done. I can quell you in that question with an answer, but it’s not real. What we do in that stadium on Sunday is real. We’re not seeking comfort, we’re not trying to quell the masses. We stunk it up, so we’re going to wallow in our stench for a while and wait for our next opportunity to play football.”

The remaining schedule for the Steelers is a gaunlet with a short-week date at Minnesota in Week 14 after what is typically a physical slugfest with the Ravens. Pittsburgh’s final four games are against the Titans (8-4), Chiefs (7-4), a primetime showdown with the Browns (6-6) and the season finale against the Ravens.

Cleveland eliminated the Steelers from the playoffs last season.

Among non-division leaders, there are now seven teams ahead of the Steelers in the wild-card race. Any loss is a serious setback at this point with the Bills, Chargers, Raiders, Broncos, Bengals, Colts and Browns all ahead of Pittsburgh.

Tomlin said there will be “hopefully significant” changes made this week but they won’t be “drastic.” He did say personnel and scheme must change.

“What you can’t do is continue to do the things you’ve been doing and expect a different result,” Tomlin said.

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints kicker Brian Johnson (6) before the game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Washington signs K Brian Johnson

The Washington Football Team signed kicker Brian Johnson from the Chicago Bears’ practice squad Tuesday in the wake of Joey Slye’s hamstring injury, NFL Network reported.

Johnson will be the team’s fourth kicker this season.

Slye was injured trying to chase down Seattle defensive end Rasheem Green after a blocked extra point in the second quarter of Washington’s 17-15 win on Monday night. Green scored for two points while Slye came up lame. He was able to kick off but did not return in the second half, forcing Washington to eschew field goal attempts.

Washington coach Ron Rivera said Tuesday that Slye likely will miss three games, suggesting he’s headed for injured reserve.

Dustin Hopkins opened the season as the starting kicker for Washington, lasting six games. Chris Blewitt kicked in two games before the team signed Slye on Nov. 9.

Johnson, 22, kicked in four games for New Orleans this season, making all eight field goal attempts but missing three of eight PATs.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish Defensive Coordinator Marcus Freeman signals to his players in the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame’s next coach? Marcus Freeman odds-on favorite

Amid reports that Brian Kelly is trying to take Marcus Freeman to LSU, Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator is the early favorite to take over the Fighting Irish program.

Freeman was installed as the -150 odds-on favorite by to become Notre Dame’s next coach, less than 24 hours after Kelly rocked the program by bolting for Baton Rouge.

Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell is next at +175, followed by Iowa State coach Matt Campbell (+400) and Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer (+700). In all, the sportsbook is offering odds on 11 potential candidates.

Freeman’s name quickly emerged as Notre Dame’s likely choice to succeed Kelly. However, The Athletic also reported that Kelly has reached out to Freeman about potentially joining him as LSU’s defensive coordinator.

Former LSU coach Ed Orgeron pursued Freeman last year to replace Bo Pelini, but Freeman ultimately decided on Notre Dame. In his first season with the Fighting Irish, Freeman has seen his defense allowing an average of 349.3 yards and a little more than 18 points per game.

According to the report, Kelly is seeking to make Freeman the highest-paid defensive coordinator in college football. The 35-year-old Freeman played for Ohio State before being drafted by the Chicago Bears in 2009.

Forced to retire in 2010 due to an enlarged heart condition, Freeman joined the Buckeyes’ as a graduate assistant later that year. He spent time at Kent State, Purdue and Cincinnati before landing with Notre Dame.

Kelly also reportedly is interested in taking Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees to the Tigers.

Only 29, Rees is not considered a candidate for Notre Dame’s head coaching vacancy.

Fickell has Cincinnati poised for a potential spot in the College Football Playoff and his name has been tied to several vacancies around the country.

Notre Dame Next Coach Odds:
Marcus Freeman: -150
Luke Fickell: +175
Matt Campbell: +400
Urban Meyer: +700
Matt Rhule: +1200
Bob Stoops: +2000
Lane Kiffin: +2000
Dave Aranda: +2500
Ed Orgeron: +2500
Pat Fitzgerald: +2500
Dave Clawson: +3300

–Field Level Media

Kentucky Head Coach Mark Stoops speaks to officials during an SEC football game between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Kentucky Wildcats at Kroger Field in Lexington, Ky. on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021.

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Kentucky, Mark Stoops agree on contract extension

Kentucky has reached an agreement in principle with Mark Stoops that will keep the head coach with the Wildcats through June 2028.

The extension comes with amended terms, per the school’s release.

Stoops is 58-53 in nine years, including a 9-3 mark this season heading into Kentucky’s bowl game.

“I’m excited to continue to build this program to national prominence,” Stoops said in a statement. “We’re on our way and I’m more confident in Kentucky football than I’ve ever been.”

The deal continues guaranteed extensions of one year for any season Stoops gets seven wins and two years for any season with 10.

Stoops has led the Wildcats to five consecutive bowl games, winning the past three.

–Field Level Media

Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis (99) celebrates after getting his first career touchdown during the first half of a NCAA college football game between Charleston Southern and Georgia in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. Georgia won 56-7.

News Joshua L Jones

Nothing else matters for No. 1 Georgia: ‘Win this game’

The way Georgia nose guard Jordan Davis sees it, nothing the undefeated Bulldogs have done this season matters.

The 12 previous wins, including the last 11 by at least 17 points? Doesn’t count for anything.

The defense’s dominating performance that rivals that of any unit in recent history, if not ever? Meaningless.

The best regular season in school history? That’s exactly what it is — history.

The current 16-game winning streak that’s the longest in the Football Bowl Subdivision? Throw it out the window.

“Look, we want to go 1-0, we want to make sure that we win this game,” Davis said. “This is the game we need to have and we’re going to prepare like champions.”

But this game isn’t just any other game. Not for Georgia (12-0), not for No. 3 Alabama (11-1). And certainly not for at least the half dozen teams whose standing with the College Football Playoff selection committee will be impacted by which team leaves Atlanta with the Southeastern Conference trophy on Saturday evening.

It’s simple for Georgia and Alabama — the winner will make the playoffs. But if Alabama loses to Georgia for the first time in seven meetings, the Crimson Tide could very well be left out of the four-team field, its run as national champion over.

Georgia is likely headed to the playoffs with a loss, as it is the lone Power 5 team that finished the regular season with an unblemished record.

The significance of a Georgia win over Alabama can’t be overstated. The Bulldogs have lost two SEC title games and a national championship game to the Crimson Tide since the start of Alabama’s streak over Georgia in 2008.

The teams last met in the 2020 regular season, with Alabama overcoming a 24-20 halftime deficit by scoring three touchdowns in the second half to rally for a 41-24 win.

But so much has changed since that night.

Alabama had eight players — quarterback Mac Jones, running back Najee Harris, Heisman Trophy-winning receiver DeVonta Smith, receiver Jaylen Waddle, offensive linemen Alex Leatherwood and Landon Dickerson, cornerback Patrick Surtain and defensive tackle Christian Barmore — taken in the first two rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft. Guard Deonte Brown and long snapper Thomas Fletcher got picked in the sixth round.

Georgia lost several key players, but only one first-round pick (cornerback Eric Stokes) and two second-round picks (cornerback Tyson Campbell and linebacker Azeez Ojulari).

Now, Georgia is a 6.5-point favorite against the Crimson Tide, who haven’t been this much of an underdog since Florida and Tim Tebow were 10-point favorites in the 2008 SEC title game, which Florida won 31-20.

Still, Alabama has averaged 42.7 points this year — two more than Georgia — behind Heisman Trophy candidate Bryce Young (3,901 yards, 40 TDs, 4 INTs), receivers Jameson Williams (1,261 yards, 13 TDs) and John Metchie (1,045 yards, 7 TDs) and running back Brian Robinson (1,016 yards, 14 TDs).

However, Robinson’s status for Saturday is uncertain after suffering a lower-body pulled muscle in the four-overtime win over Auburn last week. If Robinson can’t play, it will be up to Trey Sanders, who was held for 23 yards on 10 carries by Auburn, to power the ground game. Sanders has rushed for 221 yards and two scores on 50 carries this season.

“I just feel like it’s going to be a tremendous challenge to play against them,” Davis said. “They’re big. We’re big. We’re going to give it everything we’ve got, and I hope they give us their best shot. They have a great unit.”

While the Bulldogs haven’t faced an offense nearly as explosive as Alabama’s, the Crimson Tide haven’t faced a defense that’s even close to being on par with Georgia’s because there isn’t one.

Georgia has allowed 83 points this season, an average of 6.9 points per game. The Bulldogs could have given up twice as many points this season and still be ahead of second-place Clemson, which allowed 180 (15 ppg).

The Bulldogs are also first in total defense (230.8 ypg) and red zone defense (54.5 percent), second in passing yards allowed (151.9 pg) and total first downs allowed (160), in addition to being third in rushing defense (78.9 ypg).

But Young isn’t fazed.

“I have confidence in my guys,” he said. “We all understand what it’s going to take. We all know offensively how good they are on defense.

“It’s a new chapter. It’s a new book for us. So we have to make sure we’re ready this week and that’s all we’re concerned with.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Southern Methodist Mustangs head coach Sonny Dykes during the first half against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

TCU officially names Sonny Dykes next coach

TCU officially named Sonny Dykes its next coach Tuesday, one day after flying him in on a helicopter and landing at midfield of Amon G. Carter Stadium.

Dykes, 52, landed a six-year deal worth nearly $30 million, the Star-Telegram reported. Dykes was being introduced at a Tuesday press conference.

But he already met with the players Monday after he touched down at midfield, where he shook hands with administrators and addressed the crowd.

Dykes went 30-18 record with SMU, including 8-4 this season. He is 71-63 overall as a head coach.

Dykes served as the head coach at Louisiana Tech (2010-2012) and California (2013-16) before the Golden Bears’ fired him after the 2016 season. Dykes spent a year as an offensive analyst for TCU before accepting the head job with SMU in December 2017.

He replaces Gary Patterson, who parted ways with TCU on Oct. 31. Patterson left as the all-time winningest coach in TCU history.

–Field Level Media

Oct 31, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (19) and Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler (27) in action during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Symptomatic Amari Cooper could miss third game for Cowboys

Dallas wide receiver Amari Cooper still has symptoms from his bout with COVID-19 and could miss his third game as the Cowboys continue to deal with an outbreak that added a 13th person to protocols Tuesday.

Cornerback Nahshon Wright tested positive for COVID-19 and won’t play in Thursday night’s game at New Orleans. He becomes the sixth player in the COVID protocols, joining Cooper and right tackle Terence Steele as active-roster players on the list. A practice squad player and two others already on reserve lists are also in COVID protocols. Wright has played 72 percent of the team’s special teams snaps.

Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy, who also tested positive and won’t be on the sidelines against the Saints, said Cooper was back in the building Tuesday but “still not feeling the best.”

“My gut would be if he doesn’t practice (Wednesday), I don’t see him going to the game,” McCarthy said.

However, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told 105.3 The Fan that “we’re fully expecting (Cooper) to be ready by game time.”

Cooper has 44 receptions for 583 yards and five touchdowns in nine games this season. In 50 games with the Cowboys, Cooper has 268 catches for 3,611 yards and 24 touchdowns. Cooper missed the past two games after testing positive for COVID-19. He is unvaccinated.

Jones also told the show that his team is now at 100 percent for players either vaccinated or “having gotten the COVID.”

Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will be acting head coach for McCarthy against the Saints while also running the defense from the sideline.

McCarthy said he was set to get his COVID booster shot this Friday before testing positive Monday.

Also, McCarthy said defensive lineman Trysten Hill is appealing his two-game suspension with a hearing scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. The league suspended Hill two games Monday for throwing a punch at the end of the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

“If the appeal process gives him the opportunity to play Thursday, then I anticipate he will play in the game,” McCarthy said.

–Field Level Media