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College football COVID updates: Oklahoma-West Virginia game postponed until Dec. 12

The No. 14 Oklahoma football team has temporarily paused organized team activities due to recent positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing, the school said Wednesday.

As a result, the Sooners' scheduled Saturday night game at West Virginia has been postponed. The game has been rescheduled to Dec. 12.

It is the third Big 12 conference game postponed this season, joining Oklahoma State at Baylor and Texas at Kansas. Those two games will also be made up on Dec. 12.

Colorado State-Air Force game cancelled

The Mountain West Conference on Wednesday cancelled Thursday night's scheduled Colorado State at Air Force game because of coronavirus cases in the Rams' program.

The league will not reschedule the game, so it will be considered a no-contest.

The Oklahoma-West Virginia game has been postponed until Dec. 12. (Photo: Kevin Jairaj, USA TODAY Sports)

Saban tests positive

Alabama coach Nick Saban tested positive for COVID-19 for a second time and is not expected to coach Saturday against Auburn, the school said in a statement Wednesday. 

Saban previously tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 14, days before the Georgia game. Saban entered self-isolation and continued daily testing, eventually registering the three negative tests required to confirm the first one as a false positive, allowing him to coach against Georgia.

"This morning we received notification that Coach Saban tested positive for COVID-19," Dr. Jimmy Robinson and Alabama head trainer Jeff Allen said in the statement. "He has very mild symptoms, so this test will not be categorized as a potential false positive. He will follow all appropriate guidelines and isolate at home."

Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will be acting head coach against the Tigers and for the remainder of Saban's time in quarantine.

Cincinnati cancels Saturday's game vs. Temple 

For the second time this season, the Cincinnati football team has canceled a game because of COVID-19 concerns within the program. The American Athletic Conference announced Wednesday that the No. 7 Bearcats game at Temple on Saturday has been canceled.

"Though the schools share a common open date Dec. 5, The American’s return-to-play protocols would not allow for a sufficient number of student-athletes to be available for competition on that date," the statement said.

The Bearcats will return to play Dec. 12 at Tulsa, with the AAC Championship Game taking place the following week.

Contributing: Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY; Ryan Aber, The Oklahoman; Charlie Goldsmith, Cincinnati Enquirer; Brett Hudson, The Tuscaloosa News

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OU-WVU game postponed; Sooners halt activities

  • Covers Texas A&M and the SEC.
  • Joined ESPN in 2012.
  • Graduate of the University of Houston.

Oklahoma’s game at West Virginia on Saturday has been postponed, the Big 12 announced on Wednesday.

The No. 11 Sooners have temporarily paused organized team activities because of recent positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing within the program. The game with the Mountaineers, originally scheduled to be nationally televised by ABC on Saturday night, is now scheduled for Dec. 12.

This is the first game either school has had to postpone this season.

The Sooners are the highest-ranked Big 12 team in the latest College Football Playoff selection committee rankings, which were unveiled Tuesday. They currently trail the current Big 12 leader, No. 13 Iowa State, by one game in the Big 12 standings. If the Sooners are to win their final two games, the Sooners would clinch a berth in the Big 12 Championship game.

Oklahoma’s next scheduled game is Dec. 5 vs. Baylor. West Virginia’s next contest is Dec. 5 at Iowa State.

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MLB

Is Terry McLaurin playing on Thanksgiving? Fantasy injury update for Thursday’s Washington-Cowboys game

Terry McLaurin has been one of the most productive receivers in the NFL this season, but ahead of a Thanksgiving afternoon clash with the Cowboys, the Washington Football Team receiver has been slapped with the dreaded “questionable” tag as he deals with a knee injury. McLaurin seems to be trending in the right direction, but fantasy football owners will surely be looking for injury updates, as a potential McLaurin absence would have an impact on start ’em, sit ’em decisions.

We’ll continue to update this post with news on McLaurin up until the active/inactive report comes out on Thanksgiving Day at about 2:30 p.m. ET. For injury updates on D’Andre Swift, click here. For all the latest fantasy news, follow us on Twitter @SN_Fantasy.

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Is Terry McLaurin playing on Thanksgiving?

McLaurin (knee) is officially listed as questionable, according to Washington’s official injury report, but it seems that the talented young wideout should be able to play against the Cowboys.

Each day leading up to the game, McLaurin saw his practice status improve. During Monday’s estimated practice report, McLaurin was listed as a non-participant. On Tuesday, he got in a limited session. Then, during Wednesday’s session, he was reportedly a full participant.

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Texans-Lions | Washington-Cowboys | Full slate

The fact that McLaurin got in a full practice is an excellent sign he should play. In a normal week, there wouldn’t be any questions about his status if he logged a full practice on Wednesday, so this may just be a case of Washington getting him a little bit of extra rest to keep him fresher on a short week.

WEEK 12 STANDARD RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

That said, McLaurin will still need to be monitored before Thurday afternoon’s game. On the off chance that McLaurin is out, Cam Sims would suddenly become the No. 1 receiver for Washington, and he would be an intriguing start as a WR3 in a great matchup against Dallas’ porous secondary. Steven Sims and Isaiah Wright would also compete for playing time, but they’d be more for DFS contests than for standard leagues. TE Logan Thomas would be well-positioned to benefit from a McLaurin absence, as well. He has averaged 5.6 targets per game and would likely exceed that in the event that McLaurin was out.

WEEK 12 PPR RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

For now, McLaurin’s designation doesn’t seem like anything to worry about, so feel free to include him in your season-long lineups and NFL DFS contests. Just be ready to pivot in case something unexpected happens.

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MLB

NFL Thanksgiving games: Why do we play on Thanksgiving Day?

As America grinds to a halt on Thursday and celebrates the annual Thanksgiving Day holiday, the NFL and certain NFL teams have become as much a part of the tradition as turkey dinners and afternoon naps on a full stomach.

The NFL has played on Thanksgiving Day since the league was born in 1920, but Thanksgiving games became an every-year tradition from 1934 when then-Detroit Lions owner George A. Richards set up a matchup against the Chicago Bears to boost flagging attendances.

The Lions traditionally play at home on Thanksgiving Day and will take part in their 80th Thanksgiving game on the holiday this week when – fittingly – they take on the Bears. The Lions have a won-lost record of 37-41-2 on Thanksgiving.

In the 1960s, the NFL was looking for another team to commit to Thanksgiving Day games but few were interested in a matchup during the late afternoon slot could not guarantee television viewing figures as America settled down to its holiday dinner.

But Dallas Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm believed such publicity would be good for a team struggling under head coach Tom Landry. The Cowboys began playing on Thanksgiving Day in 1966 and enjoyed such success – on the field and at the gate – that they are still known today as ‘America’s Team.’

A third game was added to the Thanksgiving slate in 2006 and can feature any other teams from around the league. In both 2018 and 2019, the Saints and Falcons faced off in a Thanksgiving matchup to complete the triple-header.

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5.30pm Houston Texans at Detroit Lions

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How long is Nick Saban out? Alabama coach to miss Iron Bowl, more after positive COVID-19 test

For the second time in 2020, the college football world is hearing of a Nick Saban positive COVID-19 test.

This time, Saban is showing mild symptoms, according to a Wednesday morning release from Alabama. Earlier in the year, Saban returned quickly after showing no symptoms and testing negative three times. Wednesday’s news means Saban won’t coach in Saturday’s Iron Bowl against Auburn. No official word has been given for who will fill in, but offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian was supposed to fill the interim role when Saban tested positive earlier this season.

The news release from Alabama read: “This morning we received notification that Coach Saban tested positive for COVID-19. He has very mild symptoms, so this test will not be categorized as a potential false positive. He will follow all appropriate guidelines and isolate at home.”

Here’s what we know about how long Saban will be required to quarantine and when the Alabama head coach could potentially return to his team based on the SEC’s protocols.

How long is Nick Saban out with COVID-19?

The SEC’s protocols mandate a 10-day isolation period for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 and has symptoms. The SEC considers Day 0 to start at the onset of symptoms, per its protocols. The SEC’s coaches are required to undergo testing three times weekly.

For isolation to end, “At least 24 hours must have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and symptom improvement (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, etc.) has occurred, in accordance with current CDC guidance.”

The 10-day isolation means that Saban for sure misses the Crimson Tide’s Saturday showdown with Auburn. What’s less clear is whether he’ll be available to coach the following Saturday against Arkansas on Dec. 5. It seems that the 10-day isolation window should be concluded by Dec. 5, but if Saban continues to show symptoms, that could affect his timeline to return. The SEC also requires its student-athletes to undergo heart testing before returning, but it’s not clear whether that applies to coaches.

The SEC championship game is scheduled for Dec. 12, which is well beyond Saban’s isolation timeframe as long as he makes a full recovery.

How did Nick Saban test positive for COVID-19 twice?

Saban’s first positive COVID-19 test result came on Oct. 14, shortly before Alabama played Georgia. Saban was asymptomatic at the time, and the SEC has protocols in place that allow for return within 72 hours if no symptoms are shown.

Three ensuing negative PCR tests for Saban meant that by the SEC’s standards, he registered the first positive test as a false positive. This new positive test, with symptoms, suggests that the earlier positive was indeed false — the CDC writes that cases of reinfection have occurred but are rare.

Nick Saban COVID-19 news

— Nov. 21: Alabama has at least eight players miss a game against Kentucky with no injury designation given, according to TideSports. 

— Nov. 25: Alabama announces that Saban has tested positive for COVID-19 and is displaying mild symptoms. He’ll have to isolate for 10 days, ensuring an absence from Saturday, Nov. 28’s Iron Bowl game against Auburn.

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Bama, Irish, Clemson, OSU lead first CFP rankings

  • College football reporter.
  • Joined ESPN.com in 2008.
  • Graduate of Northwestern University.

Alabama is ranked No. 1 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, followed by Notre Dame, Clemson and Ohio State, while BYU debuts at No. 14 despite a 9-0 start to its season.

Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide are among four SEC teams appearing in the top-9 of the initial rankings, along with No. 5 Texas A&M, No. 6 Florida and No. 9 Georgia, the highest-rated two-loss team despite double-digit defeats to both Alabama and Florida. Clemson, which lost its only game to Notre Dame in two overtimes while playing without starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence, is the highest-rated one-loss team.

Although BYU appears behind three two-loss teams — Georgia, No. 11 Oklahoma and No. 13 Iowa State — Cincinnati received a more favorable initial ranking at No. 7, despite playing one less game than BYU. The Bearcats have league wins over SMU, Memphis, UCF, Houston, East Carolina and South Florida, and on Dec. 12 are scheduled to visit Tulsa, which debuts at No. 25 in the CFP rankings.

BYU’s original 2020 schedule featured games against six Power 5 opponents: Utah, Michigan State, Arizona State, Minnesota, Missouri and Stanford, all of which were canceled when the Pac-12, Big Ten and SEC went to league-only schedules because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As an FBS independent, BYU revised its schedule and has wins over Boise State, Houston, Navy and Troy, winning all but one of its games by 17 points or more and outscoring its opponents 428-125 for the season.

CFP selection committee chair Gary Barta, appearing on ESPN’s ranking reveal show, indicated the committee is “certainly impressed by BYU,” but acknowledged, “schedule came into play.”

The Cougars have open dates both this week and next week, and have only one remaining regular-season game scheduled, Dec. 12 against San Diego State. BYU is No. 8 in both the AP and Coaches polls this week.

Two undefeated Group of 5 teams are ranked behind BYU in No. 20 Coastal Carolina and No. 21 Marshall.

Ohio State (4-0) is the Big Ten’s highest-ranked team in the CFP rankings, followed by No. 8 Northwestern, which is 5-0 and likely set to face the Buckeyes in the Big Ten championship game for the second time in three seasons. The Big Ten tied the SEC for most teams in the initial rankings with five, as No. 12 Indiana, No. 16 Wisconsin and No. 24 Iowa also appear.

The ACC placed three teams in the top-10 of the initial rankings, as Miami (7-1) debuts at No. 10 despite a 42-17 loss to Clemson. North Carolina, which hosts Notre Dame on Friday, appears at No. 19.

Oklahoma and Iowa State are the highest-rated in the Big 12, which also places Texas (No. 17) and Oklahoma State (No. 23) in the Top 25.

The Pac-12, the final FBS conference to kick off its 2020 season, has only two teams in the initial CFP Top 25 in No. 15 Oregon and No. 18 USC, both of which are 3-0. Two undefeated Pac-12 teams in Washington (2-0) and Colorado (2-0) are unranked.

The CFP selection committee is scheduled to release its rankings Dec. 1, Dec. 8 and Dec. 15, before announcing the final selections Dec. 20. Conference championship games and other contests are set for Dec. 18 and Dec. 19.

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Alabama leads first College Football Playoff committee ranking of the season

There was little surprise at the top of the initial College Football Playoff committee rankings released Tuesday.

Alabama and Notre Dame, the top two teams in the Amway Coaches Poll, held the same respective spots in the 13-person committee's order. The Crimson Tide have been dominant since the start of the season, winning all of their seven games by at least 17 points, including defeats of top 25 teams Texas A&M and Georgia. The unbeaten Fighting Irish boast the best win of any team — an overtime defeat of No. 3 Clemson.

Ohio State holds the No. 4 spot despite playing just four games. Its first three wins came against teams with a combined 2-12 record before last week's defeat of No. 12 Indiana. 

Alabama running back Brian Robinson Jr. (4) runs the ball while avoiding the tackle of Missouri linebacker Z'Core Brooks during a game at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. (Photo: Denny Medley, USA TODAY Sports)

Sitting right outside the top four are SEC challengers Texas A&M and Florida. The Aggies beat the Gators in October, but trail Alabama in the West division. Florida is the likely East representative in the conference title game after its defeat of Georgia.

No. 7 Cincinnati is solidly in position to be the Group of Five representative in the New Year's Six. The next-highest team from the candidates is No. 20 Coastal Carolina. The Bearcats have blown through their competitive American Athletic schedule with just one conference win by fewer than 21 points. They have the highest initial season ranking for any non-Power Five team. 

Northwestern, Georgia and Miami (Fla.) complete the top 10.

Brigham Young slots in at No. 14, likely ending any hope of being in the playoff. The independent Cougars could earn an at-large berth in the New Year's Six, though they only have San Diego State left on their schedule.

No. 15 Oregon and No. 18 Southern California,  which have played three games apiece in the Pac-12, will need to make up ground to get into the mix, but there's no other conference team in the ranking to boost their profile.

  The first ranking of this season was delayed three weeks due to the Big Ten and Pac-12 starting their seasons later than the rest of the Power Five because of concerns with COVID-19. There will be only four weekly rankings — one fewer than usual — before the final ranking after the championship game.

For those upset with the initial order, take comfort that as more games are played the decisions Tuesday will be an afterthought come the final rankings. 

Ohio State led LSU at No. 1 in the first rankings last year. Both teams finished unbeaten but the Tigers got the top seed. Alabama and Penn State were third and fourth in those first rankings and missed the field. Clemson and Oklahoma were fifth and ninth, respectively, and made the playoff.

The top four teams in the final rankings released Dec. 20 will play in the semifinals. Those games will take place at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1. The championship game will be played on Jan. 11 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

College Football Playoff committee Top 25

1. Alabama (7-0)

2. Notre Dame (8-0)

3. Clemson (7-1)

4. Ohio State (4-0)

5. Texas A&M (5-1)

6. Florida (6-1)

7. Cincinnati (8-0)

8. Northwestern (5-0)

9. Georgia (5-2)

10. Miami (Fla.) (7-1)

11. Oklahoma (6-2)

12. Indiana (4-1)

13. Iowa State (6-2)

14. Brigham Young (9-0)

15. Oregon (3-0)

16. Wisconsin (2-1)

17. Texas (5-2)

18. Southern California (3-0)

19. North Carolina (6-2) 

20. Coastal Carolina (8-0)

21. Marshall (7-0)

22. Auburn (5-2) 

23. Oklahoma State (5-2) 

24. Iowa (3-2)

25. Tulsa (5-1)

Follow Erick Smith on Twitter @ericksmith

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Patrick Mahomes' ketchup obsession has become a disgrace to common decency — says he’ll put it on his turkey

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Colin Kaepernick continues training to make return to NFL

Colin Kaepernick hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2016, but he is still training for a potential return to the league.

On Monday, the former quarterback posted a workout video on Twitter and reminded everyone that it’s been 1,363 days since he’s had an NFL job.

“1,363 days of being denied employment. Still putting in work with [Eric Reid]. Still going hard 5 days a week. #StillReady #StopRunning,” Kaepernick wrote.

The video shows Kaepernick running drills, working out and practicing with former San Francisco 49ers teammate Eric Reid, who is also not signed to an NFL team.

Kaepernick shared the video during an injury-fueled period for NFL quarterbacks.

Bengals rookie quarterback Joe Burrow tore his ACL and MCL last Sunday. Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a compound right ankle fracture and dislocation during Week 5.

Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees, Panthers’ quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and 49ers’ quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo are also dealing with injuries.

Will Kaepernick make his return in 2020? We’ll have to wait and see.

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Tom Brady gets away with bizarre double pass thanks to Rams declining penalty

If you’re looking for one more piece to Tom Brady’s G.O.A.T argument, there’s this: He completed two forward passes on the same play Monday night (one to himself), and they both counted (sort of).

Brady attempted a pass early in the fourth quarter against the Rams that was deflected at the line of scrimmage and bounced right back into his hands. Then to avoid getting hit, Brady tossed the ball forward again, this time to Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans. It initially went down in the scorebook as a negative-9-yard completion from Brady to himself, followed by a 17-yard pass from Brady to Evans, netting eight yards. However, the official scorer eventually wrote that Brady wouldn’t get credit for anything from the first forward pass following the decline of the penalty, resulting in just a bizarre eight-yard completion to Evans.

A penalty flag flew immediately from a referee after Brady threw the ball forward for a second time. Each play from scrimmage is only allowed one forward pass, and that was a second one. But because the Rams had stopped Tampa Bay short of the first-down marker on third down, they declined the penalty, which meant the result of the play stood. That only left the scorekeepers one way to score it, with the two forward passes being allowed because in essence, Los Angeles had decided it didn’t care to call that action illegal on that given play.

Brady’s second forward pass may have actually been good strategy, whether he intended it or not. An illegal forward pass from behind the line of scrimmage doesn’t result in a loss of down. That means if Brady’s pass to Evans had resulted in a first down, the Rams would’ve accepted the penalty and given Brady another shot to convert on third down. That sure beats Brady taking a drive-ending big hit after catching his own deflected pass.

Tampa Bay trailed Los Angeles, 24-17, at the time of the play, and would go on to lose 27-24 after a game-sealing Brady interception late in the fourth quarter. Brady finished 26-of-48 passing for 216 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, being vastly outplayed by Rams quarterback Jared Goff.

Mike Evans’ fantasy owners were likely glad the official scoring turned out as it did, because it meant he got to keep an unusual eight-yard reception that wouldn’t have counted if Brady hadn’t made an illegal forward pass or if the Rams accepted the penalty. It meant Evans finished with five catches for 49 yards instead of four catches for 41 yards.  

It’s just too bad for Brady that it didn’t count as a reception for him in the end. That would’ve increased his career reception total by 33 percent, from three to four. Oh well, his resume probably didn’t need it.

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