Dec 02, 2019 11:15 PM

Big 12 champion could now have more feasible shot at playoff

Posted Dec 02, 2019 11:15 PM

NORMAN, Oklahoma - No. 6 Oklahoma’s biggest comeback ever didn’t have a lingering effect on No. 8 Baylor.


Now they get to play again, this time for the Big 12 championship and possibly a spot in the College Football Playoff, which seems much more feasible after a couple of significant losses in other leagues.


After the Sooners overcame a 25-point deficit to win 34-31 at Baylor in mid-November, the Bears rebounded with convincing wins over longtime nemesis Texas and Kansas to guarantee the much-anticipated rematch.


“To play the way we did I thought showed tremendous focus by our players and a dedication and commitment to the process,” Baylor coach Matt Rhule said Monday, relaying part of the message he shared with his team.


The Sooners and Bears — both 11-1 overall, 8-1 in the Big 12 — play the Big 12 championship game Saturday at the home stadium of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas.


“It’s a new game,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. “Different venue, different time, teams have evolved even though it wasn’t that long ago. It’s still different, it’s still going to start 0-0, and so the team that plays the best will win.”


Oklahoma is going for its fifth consecutive Big 12 title and record 13th overall. The Sooners, who followed the win at Baylor by beating TCU and rival Oklahoma State, are also trying to get into the playoff for the fourth time in five years. Oklahoma is No. 7 in the CFP rankings, Baylor is ninth.


Baylor has won two Big 12 titles, the last in 2014 shared with TCU during a stretch when the league wasn’t playing a championship game. That was also when the Bears and Horned Frogs were the first two teams left out of the initial four-team playoff.

Losses by Alabama in the SEC and Minnesota in the Big Ten on Saturday opened a clearer path into the playoff for a one-loss Big 12 champion.


“Certainly quality wins at the end of the year are always important. We’ve had a lot of quality wins this year,” Riley said. “So we get an opportunity for a quality win. So does Baylor. I think it sets up well for our league either way.”


The Sooners made the playoff as an 11-1 team in 2015 before the Big 12 reinstated its championship game. Oklahoma has won both Big 12 title games since, advancing to the playoff with that extra win — at 12-1 both times.


Rhule was asked if he thinks his team, with no previous playoff experience or longstanding tradition of a program like Oklahoma, would get proper consideration from the playoff selection committee if the Bears win the Big 12 championship.


“I trust the people on the committee to do their job. It doesn’t seem like a very easy job,” Rhule said. “It’s not only really about Baylor. It’s about the Big 12. If any team wins the Big 12, and doesn’t get proper consideration, then to me they’re not recognizing what the league is all about.”


But that’s not even a topic of conversation for Rhule with his players this week.


“I don’t even talk about it. In fact, I won’t even want to talk about the last game (against Oklahoma). I won’t even talk about the championship,” he said. “To me, it’s a chance to go try to win a game, let’s just go play. We’re a team that’s way better when we have that mindset. Anytime I’ve ever talked about potential things, we’ve never been very good.”

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Dec 02, 2019 11:15 PM
AP source: Moustakas, Reds agree to $64 million, 4-year deal

CINCINNATI (AP) — All-Star infielder Mike Moustakas and the Cincinnati Reds have agreed to a $64 million, four-year contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press, the team’s first move to upgrade a lineup that struggled to score.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because the agreement had not been announced.

For the second straight offseason, the Reds are making a splurge in free agency as they try to shake themselves out of a rut of six straight losing seasons. Their first move involves getting a player from the NL Central-rival Milwaukee Brewers. The 31-year-old could fill the Reds’ hole at second base that opened when Scooter Gennett got hurt and then was traded last season.


Cincinnati scored the fourth-fewest runs in the NL last season despite one of the league’s most hitter-friendly ballparks. Bulking up on offense, stabilizing the outfield and overhauling the bullpen are the Reds’ priorities in the offseason.

Moustakas is a first step toward fixing the offense. He hit .254 with 35 homers and 87 RBIs this year, making his third All-Star team. He began the season at second base and moved to third with Travis Shaw in a slump. Cincinnati has Eugenio Suarez at third base.

The Reds haven’t been to the playoffs since 2012, when they won 90 games and lost to the Pirates in the NL wild card game. Cincinnati then launched into a rebuild, trading away stars for prospects. They lost at least 94 games annually from 2015-18.

Cincinnati reversed course and decided to try to become competitive again last season by trading for Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, Tanner Roark and Sonny Gray, who became an All-Star. Puig, Kemp and Roark were dealt during the season, along with Gennett. The Reds finally escaped last place, finishing ahead of Pittsburgh with a 75-87 mark, but they wasted a lot of solid pitching along the way.

Moustakas has 42 games of playoff experience with the Royals in 2014-15 and the Brewers the last two seasons.

Moustakas rejected a $17.4 million qualifying offer from Kansas City after the 2017 season but eventually returned to the Royals on a one-year deal. He was traded to the Brewers that July and finished with a .251 average, 28 homers and 95 RBIs.

He had a $7 million salary this year and gets a $3 million buyout for declining his $10 million option. He’s made $18.7 million on a pair of one-year deals the last two seasons.