college football

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Buried amid the excitement of competing for a Big 12 championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff last season was the fact that Oklahoma State struggled on defense at times, surrendering 151 points in its final three games — all of them losses.

On top of that, the Cowboys lost their best defensive player to graduation as All-American defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, moved on to the NFL.

Coach Mike Gundy and his staff are hoping that increased depth developing at several positions will lead to better play this season.

Alabama beat Clemson 45-40 in Monday night's College Football Playoff National Championship, giving the Crimson Tide their fourth title in seven seasons. Heisman-winning running back Derrick Henry ran for 158 yards and scored three touchdowns for Alabama.

It was a remarkably high-scoring game for the teams — Alabama had allowed an average of 13.4 points coming into the game, while Clemson had allowed 20 points per game.

Clemson University, having its best football season in decades, will face off for the national title against perennial power Alabama later this month after both teams won semifinal games Thursday night.

Clemson was down a point at halftime to the University of Oklahoma, but scored three second-half touchdowns while keeping the Sooners from scoring, and won 31-17.

Alabama's defense did Clemson's one-half better, shutting out Michigan State as the Crimson Tide cruised to a 38-0 victory.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In football, a sport that demands military-style discipline and singular focus, there's ample precedent for speaking out against the status quo.

What happened at the University of Missouri in recent days, with African-American football players calling for a boycott with the support of coaches, is dramatic, but it's the kind of action that was quite common around 50 years ago, according to historian Lane Demas, a professor at Central Michigan University.

Wearing a green Dartmouth College jersey, the newest player on the school's football team readies for action during a preseason practice. The whistle blows, he makes his move and then is thrown to the ground by a teammate's crushing tackle. This happens again and again and again, but every time, the new player pops right back up, completely unhurt.

This player is an MVP — a "Mobile Virtual Player," that is.

Sports Illustrated looks back at conference realignment, five years removed from an important meeting that tried to hold the Big 12 Conference together.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Flickr / skhuskies

The NCAA is suggesting that football teams hold no more than two contact practices per week during the season in guidelines that grew out of a safety and concussion summit early this year.

Practice limits were among several recommendations released Monday by the NCAA, which called them guidelines that could change "in real time" rather than rules passed through legislation.