Florida Atlantic quarterback Casey Thompson (11) passes during the second quarter against Monmouth at FAU Stadium on Saturday, September 2, 2023, in Boca Raton, FL.

FAU QB Casey Thompson, former Longhorn, commits to Oklahoma

Casey Thompson, who spent three seasons playing quarterback at Texas, is heading to the other side of the Red River rivalry and joining Oklahoma.

The Florida Atlantic transfer announced his commitment to the Sooners on Thursday. He is a native of Oklahoma City.

“Dear Oklahoma, I’m coming home,” he posted on social media with images of him in Oklahoma gear.

It’s likely Thompson will enter 2024 as the backup to Oklahoma quarterback Jackson Arnold, who is taking over for Dillon Gabriel.

Thompson’s 2023 season was cut short when he tore an ACL in the Owls’ third game of the season Sept. 16 against Clemson. He finished the interrupted campaign with 509 passing yards, five touchdown and five interceptions.

Thompson threw for 2,422 yards, 30 touchdowns and nine picks in 19 games at Texas from 2019-21. He transferred to Nebraska in 2022 and played in 10 games, throwing for 2,407 yards, 17 TDs and 10 picks.

–Field Level Media

Oklahoma defensive coordinator Ted Roof watches the Sooners warm up before a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the TCU Horned Frogs at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. Oklahoma won 69-45.

Oklahoma, defensive coordinator Ted Roof part ways

Ted Roof will not return as Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in 2024, the Sooners announced Thursday.

Oklahoma and Roof “mutually agreed to part ways,” according to the football program’s announcement. He had worked at the university for two seasons.

“I have the utmost respect and appreciation for Ted,” head coach Brent Venables said in a statement. “I told him Wednesday I made a decision to go in a new direction at defensive coordinator and offered him an opportunity to remain on our staff in a different role. He explained that he has a deep desire to keep coaching and will look to do that at a different school.”

Roof, 60, has worked as a defensive coach at the college level since the late 1980s. Previous stints as a defensive coordinator included UMass (1995-96), Western Carolina (1997), Georgia Tech (1999-2001, 2013-17), Duke (2002-03), Minnesota (2008), Auburn (2009-11), UCF (2011), Penn State (2012), NC State (2018, as co-defensive coordinator), Appalachian State (2019) and Vanderbilt (2020).

While at Duke, he was named interim head coach during the 2003 season and promoted to the role full-time for 2004-07. The Blue Devils went 6-45 under Roof.

Oklahoma, which will join the SEC later this year, ranked just inside the top 50 nationally this season in scoring defense (23.5 points per game allowed).

–Field Level Media

Oklahoma's Dillon Gabriel (8) warms up before a Bedlam college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) and the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023.

QB uncertain No. 17 Oklahoma will respond vs WVU

With three games to play, West Virginia and Oklahoma are on the edge of the race for a berth in the Big 12 Championship Game.

Even so, the teams are in much different places entering a matchup Saturday in Norman, Okla.

West Virginia (6-3, 4-2 Big 12) has built some momentum in recent weeks, winning back-to-back games.

“I think we’re starting to hit our stride,” Mountaineers coach Neal Brown said. “I think the story of this season is far from written.”

It’s a significant turnaround from West Virginia’s two-game losing streak in October.

No. 17 Oklahoma (7-2, 4-2) dropped back-to-back, one-possession games — a 38-33 loss to Kansas on Oct. 28 and a 27-24 loss to Oklahoma State last weekend in the expected finale of the Bedlam series.

Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel said he hopes the team will respond after falling out of the College Football Playoff race.

“I don’t know yet,” Gabriel said. “I think we’ll know come Saturday. That’ll be a big deciding factor in how we respond.”

For the Sooners, the biggest recent difference has been turnovers.

During its 7-0 start, Oklahoma had five turnovers.

In the consecutive losses leading into this matchup, the Sooners have six giveaways — four fumbles and two interceptions.

“When you turn the ball over, everything else just gets highlighted all the other mistakes that are there, even through 7-0 – nobody’s seeing that,” Oklahoma coach Brent Venables said.

West Virginia comes in with the No. 7 rushing offense in the country, averaging 218 yards per game.

In their previous two games, the Mountaineers have averaged 311 rushing yards. West Virginia leading rusher CJ Donaldson has rushed for 223 yards in that span while Jaheim White has rushed for 231.

“They have good chemistry out there on the field when you watch them,” Venables said, noting his belief that the Mountaineers’ line is the strength of its offense.. “They have a lot of pre-snap communication. They don’t turn people loose. They do a great job of protecting the passer.”

Last season, West Virginia beat the Sooners for the first time in the Big 12 era, 23-20, in Morgantown on a last-second field goal. Oklahoma is 7-1 all-time against the Mountaineers in Norman.

The Mountaineers have been without starting right tackle Doug Nester and wide receiver Hudson Clement in recent weeks.

Brown said Nester was closing in on returning while Clement, who has missed the last two games with an ankle injury, could’ve been used against BYU had it been absolutely necessary but that he still wasn’t fully healthy.

Oklahoma has it own injury concerns.

Weakside linebacker Danny Stutsman, the Sooners’ leading tackler, missed last week’s game with an ankle injury while running back Tawee Walker played sparingly against the Cowboys. He suffered a leg injury the week before against Kansas.

Venables was hopeful both would be ready Saturday, along with cornerback Gentry Williams, who suffered a shoulder injury against Oklahoma State.

–Field Level Media

Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel (8) throws a pass during a Bedlam college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) and the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023.

Bedlam burial? Sooners’ title chances, Dillion Gabriel’s Heisman hopes plummet

Consecutive defeats have knocked Oklahoma out of the College Football Playoff picture, and have all but sunk the Heisman Trophy hopes of quarterback Dillon Gabriel.

Sporting a 7-0 record just two weeks ago, Oklahoma followed a loss at Kansas with a 27-24 loss in the final rivalry game against Oklahoma State on Saturday. After the game, DraftKings moved the Sooners (7-2, 4-2 Big 12) from +4000 to +20000 to win the national title.

Gabriel completed 26 of 37 passes for 344 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and also had a mishandled snap that led to a fumble in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys recovered and went on to kick a field goal to go up 27-21.

Among the top five Heisman favorites at +1000 just two weeks ago, Dillon entered Saturday at +3500. Those odds skyrocketed to +8000 after the loss to Oklahoma State (7-2, 5-1).

Meanwhile, Sooners running back Ollie Gordon continued his surge. After rushing for 137 yards and two touchdowns in the victory, his Heisman odds shifted from +5000 to +3000. Gordon, who had only 19 carries through the Cowboys’ first three games, has now rushed for 1,115 yards and 10 touchdowns over the past six.

The matchup was the final scheduled meeting between the Bedlam rivals in a series that has been played every year since 1910. The Sooners will move to the Southeastern Conference next season.

Oklahoma State has won five consecutive games and remains tied for first place in the Big 12.

–Field Level Media

University of Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables speaks on the second day of NCAA college football Big 12 Media Days in Arlington, Texas, Thursday, July 13, 2023. (Sara Diggins/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Top-ranked RB Taylor Tatum chooses Oklahoma over Southern Cal

Five-star recruit Taylor Tatum, the top-ranked running back in the Class of 2024, announced Friday his commitment to Oklahoma.

Tatum, from Longview, Texas, chose the Sooners and head coach Brent Venables over his other finalist, Southern Cal, and close to 40 offers including Power Five conference programs across the country.

According to 247Sports’ composite rankings, Tatum is a five-star recruit, the No. 31 player in his class, the top running back and No. 9 overall in the state of Texas. In its own rankings, he’s a four-star, No. 42 in the country, No. 1 at running back and No. 9 in Texas.

Listed at 5-foot-10 1/2 and 205 pounds, Tatum rushed for 1,891 yards and 33 touchdowns and caught three TD passes in his junior season.

He also plans to play baseball at Oklahoma, as he is a standout at Longview High School.

“One of the main things was going to the SEC and being a big dog in football and baseball,” Tatum said following his announcement, which was streamed online. “Growing up you see the LSUs, the (Texas) A&Ms, the Alabamas, the Georgias. I’m going to be part of the big dogs. Getting a chance to play baseball and football in the SEC is just something I couldn’t deny.”

Oklahoma will join the SEC ahead of the 2024-25 academic year.

Tatum visited Southern Cal on June 2 and Oklahoma on June 16.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Dallas, Texas, USA;  Texas Longhorns defensive end Justice Finkley (1) and Texas Longhorns defensive lineman Keondre Coburn (99) sack Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Davis Beville (11) during the second half at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Texas, Oklahoma reach deal to leave Big 12 in 2024

Texas and Oklahoma agreed to a $100 million fee to exit the Big 12 Conference a year earlier than their contractual obligation, meaning they will join the Southeastern Conference for the 2024-25 school year.

The Big 12 announced Thursday that the schools and the reached an agreement in principle regarding the exit fee.

“As I have consistently stated, the Conference would only agree to an early withdrawal if it was in our best interest for Oklahoma and Texas to depart prior to June 30, 2025,” Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark said in a statement. “By reaching this agreement, we are now able to accelerate our new beginning as a 12-team league and move forward in earnest with our initiatives and future planning.

“I appreciate the approaches of OU President Joe Harroz and UT President Jay Hartzell to ensure an amicable conclusion to this process, and look forward to the bright days ahead for the Big 12 Conference.”

Hartzell said in a statement, in part, “We have always been committed to fulfilling our contractual obligations to the Big 12. The collegiate athletics landscape has continued to evolve rapidly, and working together to accelerate our exit produced benefits for all parties. The Big 12 has been a respected partner for nearly three decades, and we look forward to a final season of spirited competition with our friends and rivals.”

“The exciting matchups and passionate rivalries of the past quarter century will always be a celebrated part of our shared history,” Harroz added in a statement, in part. “We look forward to showcasing that intensity this season, next season and beyond.”

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey wrote in a statement that the conference will “proceed with facilitating the transition of Oklahoma and Texas to become full members of the Southeastern Conference on July 1, 2024.”

He added, “We look forward to welcoming the conference’s new members and moving into the future as a 16-team league.”

BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston are set to join the Big 12 for the 2023-24 school year, giving the conference 14 teams for one season before the Longhorns and Sooners exit.

–Field Level Media

Dec 29, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel (8) throws a pass against the Florida State Seminoles in the fourth quarter during the 2022 Cheez-It Bowl at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel commits to returning

Starting quarterback Dillon Gabriel is returning for another season at Oklahoma in 2023, he announced Thursday.

“This island boy found a home in Oklahoma,” the Hawaii native wrote in a social media post.

Gabriel took over as the Sooners’ starter in 2022 upon transferring from UCF. He played in 12 of Oklahoma’s 13 games and threw for 3,168 yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions. He added 317 rushing yards and six scores on the ground.

Gabriel missed one game, a 49-0 blowout loss to rival Texas, after being knocked out of the prior game against TCU from a hit to the head.

Following a 35-32 loss to No. 13 Florida State in the Cheez-It Bowl, Oklahoma finished Brent Venables’ first season as coach 6-7, its worst record since 1998, the final year before Bob Stoops took over the program.

–Field Level Media

Dec 29, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Gabriel Dillon (8) runs the ball in the first quarter against the Florida State Seminoles in the 2022 Cheez-It Bowl at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Late FG lifts No. 13 Florida State past Oklahoma in Cheez-It Bowl

Jordan Travis threw for a career-high 418 yards and two touchdowns to lift No. 13 Florida State to a 35-32 victory over Oklahoma in the Cheez-It Bowl on Thursday in Orlando, Florida.

Travis hit Johnny Wilson for a 58-yard gain with less than three minutes remaining set up Ryan Fitzgerald’s 32-yard field goal with 55 seconds left to break a tie.

Florida State (10-3) finished with at least 10 wins for the first time since 2016. Oklahoma (6-7) wound up with a losing record for the first time since 1998.

Wilson had eight catches for 202 yards, and teammate Treshaun Ward gained 81 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.

Jovantae Barnes ran for 108 yards and a score on 27 attempts for the Sooners, while freshman Gavin Sawchuk produced 100 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.

The Sooners jumped ahead early, scoring touchdowns on two of their first three drives.

First, Dillon Gabriel hit Jalil Farooq for a 22-yard touchdown to cap a 13-play, 75-yard drive.

But the Sooners — already down three starting offensive linemen — lost freshman starting tackle Jacob Sexton on the drive. He did not return.

Then on the first play of the second quarter, Gabriel finished off a drive with an 8-yard touchdown run to put the Sooners up 14-3.

Ontaria Wilson’s 16-yard touchdown reception was followed with a two-point conversion to pull Florida State within 14-11 midway through the second quarter.

The Sooners took a 17-11 lead into halftime after the Sooners drove 65 yards in the final two minutes before half and added a 41-yard Zach Schmit field goal in the closing seconds before half.

Florida State took its first lead since early in the first quarter on a 15-play, 94-yard drive in the third quarter, capped by Ward’s 1-yard touchdown run.

Oklahoma regained the lead early in the fourth on Sawchuk’s 15-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion put the Sooners up 25-18.

But the Seminoles quickly answered, as Ward broke off a 38-yard touchdown run to tie the game.

On the next drive, Jammie Robinson recovered Sawchuk’s fumble at the Florida State 32 to thwart the Sooners’ drive.

Travis hit Trey Benson for a 33-yard gain on the first play to kickstart a six-play touchdown drive capped by Travis’ 17-yard touchdown to Markeston Douglas.

Oklahoma wasn’t going away, though.

Gabriel scrambled for a 23-yard run, and then hit Farooq for a 28-yard gain to put the Sooners on the doorstep before Barnes’ 12-yard touchdown tied it at 32 with 3:37 remaining.

–Field Level Media

Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jordan Travis (13) eyes the end zone as he runs down the field. The Florida State Seminoles defeated the Florida Gators 45-38 at Doak Campbell Stadium on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022.

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No. 13 Florida State aims for 10th win, faces Oklahoma in Cheez-It Bowl

The last time Florida State and Oklahoma met in a bowl game, the stage was much larger.

It’s been 22 seasons since the Sooners knocked off the Seminoles 13-2 to win the 2000 national championship.

But when No. 13 Florida State and Oklahoma face off in the Cheez-It Bowl on Thursday in Orlando, Fla., both teams will have plenty of opportunity to make a year-ending statement.

The Seminoles (9-3), back in a bowl after a two-year absence, are looking to finish a season with 10 wins for the first time since 2016.

“It would just mean everything just to this program, the guys, and to everybody that supports us,” Florida State defensive tackle Dennis Briggs said of the possibility of winning 10 games.

The Seminoles won just eight games combined in Mike Norvell’s first two seasons as head coach before turning things around this season. Florida State won its last five games of the regular season.

The Sooners (6-6) are looking to avoid finishing below .500 for the first time since 1998, the year before Bob Stoops took over as head coach and brought aboard Brent Venables as co-defensive coordinator.

Now, Venables is Oklahoma’s head coach, wrapping up his first season.

It hasn’t always gone smoothly, with the Sooners going just 3-6 in Big 12 play and dropping three of their final four games, with the lone win coming against Oklahoma State.

Oklahoma has been hit hard by players opting out for the NFL draft, including both of its starting offensive tackles — Wanya Morris and Anton Harrison — plus running back Eric Gray and defensive tackle Jalen Redmond.

Running back Jovantae Barnes is one of the players who figures to see his role expand significantly in the bowl game after playing behind Gray much of the season. He has run for 411 yards and four touchdowns.

“It’s a new step,” Barnes said. “I have a bigger role for this game. … All season I’ve been building my confidence to getting this role.

“I feel like I’m ready, and the running back group is ready.”

For Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel, the game is a return to a familiar place.

Gabriel played for UCF in Orlando from 2019-21 before transferring to Oklahoma.

While the Sooners have had plenty of roster turnover since the end of the regular season, Florida State comes into the bowl largely intact.

That includes quarterback Jordan Travis — who threw for 2,796 yards and 22 touchdowns with just four interceptions — running back Trey Benson and edge rusher Jared Verse, among others.

“Everybody’s super focused, locked in, but you also have that sense that everybody’s enjoying practice at the same time,” Briggs said. “Everybody’s attention to detail is spot-on.”

Florida State is in the Cheez-It Bowl for the fourth time. The Seminoles won the inaugural game in 1990 when it was known as the Blockbuster Bowl, and won in 2008 and 2011 when it was known as the Champs Sports Bowl.

Oklahoma lost to Clemson in the 2014 game when it was known as the Russell Athletic Bowl.

The Sooners are in a bowl for the 24th consecutive season, second only to Georgia among active streaks.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; The Sooner Schooner enters the field after Oklahoma Sooners score a touchdown against the Baylor Bears during the first half at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma RT Wanya Morris declares for NFL draft

Oklahoma offensive tackle Wanya Morris announced Friday that he is declaring for the NFL draft and will skip the Sooners’ bowl game.

Morris, a right tackle, spent the last two seasons with Oklahoma after spending his first two college campaigns at Tennessee.

“These past 4 years haven’t been easy at all, but everyone of you have helped me mature into a better man, player and teammate,” Morris said on Twitter. “… After discussing with my family, I will be opting out of the bowl game and declaring for the 2023 NFL draft.”

Morris is likely a mid-to-late round selection in the draft.

He is the second Oklahoma offensive lineman to declare this week. Left tackle Anton Harrison, a possible first-round pick, announced he was declaring for the draft on Wednesday.

–Field Level Media