SEC welcomes Texas, Oklahoma after boards accept invitations

Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports
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Oklahoma and Texas accepted invitations to join the Southeastern Conference in July 2025 on Friday, worried that their storied athletic programs were in danger of losing ground if they stayed in the Big 12.

A whirlwind week of official moves — after who knows exactly how long the schools worked behind the scenes — came to a conclusion when regents at both Texas and Oklahoma unanimously jumped at the chance to join the SEC.

“After thorough consideration and study it became obvious that standing pat would be falling behind,” Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said.

The SEC, already the strongest football conference in the country, welcomed its newest members, who arrive with 10 national championships between them as determined by The Associated Press.

“The SEC has already established itself as the premier conference in collegiate athletics, and the addition of these two tradition-rich programs will make for an even more competitive league in all sports,” Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne said in a statement.

New broke of discussions between Texas and Oklahoma and the SEC last week. The schools and conference remained silent on the matter until this week.

On Monday, Texas and Oklahoma informed the Big 12 they would not be extending a media rights agreement with the conference after it expires in 2025.

On Tuesday, the schools applied for SEC membership.

On Thursday, the SEC presidents voted to extend invitations, and Friday it was a done deal.

“This is a move for stability and preservation and propagation,” Oklahoma President Joe Harroz said. “We believe this move is not just best for OU, we believe this move is best for our state.”

For now, the arrival of the Longhorns and Sooners in the SEC is four years out. Texas and Oklahoma are bound to the Big 12 and its other eight members by a grant of media rights that runs through the 2024-25 school year, concurrent with the conference’s television contracts.

“I want to just reiterate that we will be in the Big 12 for the foreseeable future,” Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte told his board.

The future of the Big 12 without its two strongest programs, in football and many other sports, is unknown. Earlier this week, Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said “like many others, we will use the next four years to fully assess what the landscape will look like in 2025 and beyond.”

“The remaining eight institutions will work together in a collaborative manner to thoughtfully and strategically position the Big 12 Conference for continued success, both athletically and academically, long into the future,” he said.

None of that is likely to stop Texas and Oklahoma from trying to leave earlier than 2025 despite facing tens of millions of dollars in buyouts and potential legal headaches.

After all, a windfall awaits in their new conference.

Even before adding Texas and Oklahoma, the SEC was projected to distribute $67 million to each of its current 14 members starting in 2024 when a new deal with ESPN kicks in.

Del Conte and UT President Jay Hartzell met by teleconference with the board, which quickly signed off.

“Collegiate athletics is changing rapidly, whether any of us wants it to or not,” Hartzell said.

“We recognize that we must be willing to make changes with our eyes on the future. In a world of uncertainty and change, it is incumbent upon on us as leaders to protect and enhance our athletic program and university,” Hartzell said.

The last time the Big 12 was reconfigured by conference realignment, Texas and Oklahoma stayed put but Nebraska, Texas A&M, Colorado and Missouri moved and TCU and West Virginia were added in the early 2010s.

With Texas and Oklahoma driving the value, the Big 12 landed television contracts with ESPN and Fox worth billions and settled in as a Power Five conference.

“What has changed between 2012 and today?” Harroz said. “The answer is everything.”

Harroz said it became apparent the Big 12 would be “last in line” for television networks among the power conferences when it came to landing a new TV deal. That would mean, among other issues, more less-than-desirable 11 a.m. kickoffs for many games for the Sooners.

That issue has become a major one for Oklahoma in recent years, especially after its home game with Nebraska this season – designed by Castiglione as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the so-called “Game of the Century” in 1971 between the Huskers and Sooners – was designated for an 11 a.m. Central time local kickoff by Fox Sports. Castiglione saie he was “bitterly disappointed.”

“Being last in line has consequences,” Harroz said. “You’ve heard conversation from (Castiglione) talking about not enjoying 11 a.m. kickoffs. Our fans talk about that. It also matters to student-athletes. When those who go before you, in terms of negotiations for 2025 and beyond, if those premiere slots are already taken up, it impacts things in a material way. It translates into disadvantages in recruiting the top talent, disadvantages for our student-athletes and a detriment to the fan experience.”

Harroz and Castiglione both praised their counterparts in the Big 12, particularly those from Oklahoma State, whose new president, Kayse Shrum, has been particularly critical of Oklahoma during the past week.

Harroz said the Sooners would like for their Bedlam rivalry with the Cowboys and Cowgirls to continue.

“Even with this change, we want to play Oklahoma State in every sport in every year,” he said.

Earlier, Hartzell thanked Texas A&M for voting the Longhorns into the SEC and looked forward to renewing Texas’ rivalry with the Aggies and former Southwest Conference-mate Arkansas.

“A lot of work has gone into this,” Texas board chairman Kevin Eltife said, “and there’s no doubt in my mind it’s definitely the right thing for the future of athletics at our flagship.”

No. 2 Michigan beats Purdue 43-22 for Big Ten crown

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS – Donovan Edwards ran for 185 yards and a score, J.J. McCarthy threw three touchdown passes and No. 2 Michigan beat Purdue 43-22 on Saturday night for its second straight Big Ten title and a likely No. 2 playoff seed.

College football’s winningest program has the first 13-win season in school history. Two more victories would give the Wolverines (13-0, No. 2 CFP) their first national championship since 1997.

And with injured star Blake Corum sidelined by a season-ending left knee injury, Edwards stole the show for the second straight week.

After shredding rival Ohio State for 216 yards and two scores last week, Edwards broke open this game with a 60-yard on the first play of the second half to set up one score. He added a 27-yard TD sprint on Michigan’s next series to make it 28-13.

Purdue (8-5) never recovered from Michigan’s quick, seven-play onslaught after it trailed 14-13 at halftime.

But quarterback Aidan O'Connell and receiver Charlie Jones helped the Boilermakers make it interesting for a while.

O’Connell was 32 of 47 with 366 yards and two interceptions after missing some practice time early this week to mourn the death of his oldest brother. Jones, who lost to Michigan in last year’s game while playing for Iowa, had 13 receptions for 162 yards.

It just wasn’t enough.

Michigan showed no signs of a hangover after last week’s rout over the Buckeyes, taking a 7-0 lead on its opening possession with a 25-yard TD pass from J.J. McCarthy to Colston Loveland.

Purdue answered with Devin Mockobee’s 1-yard scoring run to tie the score then took the lead on Mitchell Fineran’s 33-yard field goal.

Michigan answered by taking advantage of an offside call on fourth-and-6 by going for the first down, picking it up and eventually converting the drive into a 7-yard TD pass from McCarthy to Luke Schoonmaker. They never trailed again.

Edwards big run set up Kalel Mullings‘ 1-yard TD plunge before Edwards celebrated his own scoring run.

All Purdue could muster was three more field goals.

McCarthy was 11 of 17 with 161 yards and one interception.

Corum posted a message on Twitter on Saturday morning to say his knee surgery went well.

THE TAKEAWAY

Purdue: The Boilermakers’ magical season ended with a solid showing in the championship game where they played better than most expected. Still, they won the Big Ten’s wild, wild West, both trophy games and should be bound for a warm-weather bowl game.

Michigan: Yes, the Wolverines may have already locked up a top-two seed thanks to losses by Southern Cal and TCU. Michigan now has back-to-back conference crowns for the first time since 2003-04 though the hard part remains – ending its national title drought.

DIALING UP TRICKERY

Brohm played one season in the now defunct XFL and has acknowledged that experience helped him understand how to inject personality and creativity into play calling. It was on full display Saturday.

A surprise end around set up Purdue’s first score, a fake punt helped keep its second scoring drive alive and then Mockobee sprinted 25 yards on a fake flea-flicker in the third quarter.

UP NEXT

Purdue: Will find out its bowl game, destination and opponent Sunday.

Michigan: Waiting to see where its headed and who it will face in the national semifinals.

Klubnik, No. 10 Clemson rout No. 24 UNC 39-10 for ACC title

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Backup quarterback Cade Klubnik completed 20 of 24 passes for 279 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score and No. 10 Clemson reclaimed the Atlantic Coast Conference championship with a 39-10 victory over No. 24 North Carolina on Saturday night.

Cornerback Nate Wiggins broke up two passes in the end zone, blocked a field goal and returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown to help the Tigers win their seventh ACC title in eight seasons.

Clemson (11-2, No. 9 CFP) won six straight ACC championships from 2015 to 2020 before failing to reach the title game last season. But coach Dabo Swinney‘s Tigers rebounded in a big way, going 9-0 against ACC foes this season to reach the Orange Bowl.

They have Klubnik to thank for that.

With Clemson down 7-0, Swinney benched two-year starter D.J. Uiagalelei after the Tigers failed to pick up a first down on their first two possessions, Swinney turned to Klubnik, a 5-star recruit from Austin, Texas. He responded by leading the Tigers to four straight scores and a 24-10 lead at halftime.

Clemson stretched it to 39-10 heading into the fourth quarter.

It wasn’t the first time Swinney has turned to Klubnik.

He benched Uiagalelei in the second half against Syracuse and Klubnik responded by leading the Tigers to a come-from-behind 27-21 victory. Swinney also turned to Klubnik against Notre Dame, although the results were the opposite with the freshman throwing a Pick 6 in a 35-14 loss.

Swinney has never been shy about replacing veteran QBs with less experienced players. He did it in 2014, sitting Cole Stoudt for Deshaun Watson, and again in 2018 replacing Kelly Bryant with Trevor Lawrence.

ACC player of the year Drake Maye was limited to 268 yards passing and turned the ball over three times for North Carolina (9-4, No. 23 CFP), which was seeking its first ACC championship since 1980 when Lawrence Taylor was wreaking havoc on quarterbacks.

Maye got things started on the right foot for the Tar Heels, capping an 11-play, 78-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead on UNC’s first possession.

But the Tar Heels repeatedly sputtered on offense inside the red zone after that, the biggest blow coming when Maye misfired near the goal line and Wiggins – who had struggled in Clemson’s 51-45 win over Wake Forest – returned his pass for a touchdown to give Clemson a 32-10 lead with 5:05 left in the third quarter.

Klubnik provided an immediate spark for Clemson.

He led the Tigers on a nine-play, 71-yard drive, culminating in a 1-yard TD pass to Davis Allen. After Maye’s fumble, Klubnik caught a 19-yard pass from Phil Mafah to set up Mafah’s 4-yard touchdown run – Clemson’s second TD in a span of 40 seconds.

Klubnik then showed off his arm strength with a 68-yard pass to fellow freshman Cole Turner to set up his own 1-yard TD run for a 21-7 lead.

END OF AN ERA

This is the final year the ACC will feature its two division winners playing for a championship. In future years, all ACC teams will be lumped together and the two teams with the best records will advance to the title game.

THE TAKEAWAY

North Carolina: Maye garnered plenty of Heisman Trophy talk during the season, but the Tar Heels offense has stalled resulting in a three-game losing streak. But as long as Maye doesn’t transfer – and there are no indications he will given his family history at North Carolina – the Tar Heels have a good chance to get back to the ACC title game next season.

Clemson: The Tigers have set a high bar by winning national championships, so as much as they will enjoy getting back atop the ACC mountain there will be plenty of talk over whether Swinney cost his team a chance at a spot in the College Football Playoff by not turning to Klubnik at quarterback earlier in the season. It seems Uiagalelei might be a logical transfer portal candidate.

UP NEXT

Clemson will play in the Orange Bowl, while North Carolina awaits a bowl bid.