Thompson-Robinson leads UCLA to 38-27 win over No. 16 LSU

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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PASADENA, Calif. — Dorian Thompson-Robinson and UCLA picked up their third win over a ranked opponent during the Chip Kelly era Saturday night. This 38-27 victory over No. 16 LSU in a nationally-televised prime-time game will have more resonance nationally.

“It’s really just been a long time coming for this team. It’s kind of emotional,” linebacker Bo Calvert said. “There’s been some tough times and to just push through that, I’m really proud of our guys.”

The Bruins were 10-21 in Kelly’s first three seasons, but have won their first two games to start a season for the first time since 2017.

Thompson-Robinson led the way. After struggling in last week’s opener against Hawaii, the junior bounced back by completing 9 of 16 passes for 260 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. The Bruins’ running backs averaged 7.3 yards per carry as junior Zach Charbonnet had his second straight 100-yard game with 117 yards on 11 carries and a TD. Brittain Brown added 78 yards on 14 carries, including a fourth-quarter touchdown.

“If we are running the ball well, we’ll stick with what’s right. But I think that if you look at the play-action passes today, those were huge for us,” Kelly said. “I’m happy with the way Dorian played. I think that he’s going to get better each week, and that is a positive for us.”

One of those play-action passes led to big TD early in the second quarter as Thompson-Robinson connected with Dulcich for a 75-yard score to tie it at 7.

“In big games, big players step up. Even though I didn’t have many opportunities, we had to maximize those that we got,” Thompson-Robinson said.

Charbonnet’s 12-yard run off right end with 9:49 remaining in the second quarter gave UCLA a 14-7 lead that it would not relinquish.

UCLA held LSU to 48 yards rushing and forced a key turnover in the third quarter when Caleb Johnson intercepted Max Johnson‘s pass and returned it 34 yards to the LSU 17. Three plays later, Thompson-Robinson connected with Chase Cota for a 14-yard TD to extend the Bruins’ lead to 21-10.

Thompson-Robinson’s 45-yard TD toss to Kyle Phillips extended the lead to 38-20 midway through the fourth quarter.

Johnson was 26 of 46 for 330 with three touchdowns and an interception. Kayshon Boutte finished with nine receptions for 148 yards, including all three scores.

“I think it’s both. UCLA did a good job of just playing the run and being in the right spots, but we got to get it corrected as an offense, and that will be done,” Johnson said.

It is the second straight year LSU has lost its opener. The Tigers had to leave campus last weekend due to Hurricane Ida and spent most of the week practicing in Houston before arriving in Los Angeles on Thursday.

“I felt good about this football team going in. But you look and we had like 50 yards rushing and they had 200-something yards rushing,” coach Ed Orgeron said. “They were all over the quarterback. And they made some big plays and we gave up big plays on defense again, so those are things that are reoccurring. We got to get them fixed.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

It is the first time in 13 years a Pac-12 team has defeated a ranked Southeastern Conference squad. Coincidentally, UCLA was the last to do it, when it beat Tennessee in 2008. The Bruins could be ranked for the first time since Sept. 10, 2017, when the AP Top 25 is released on Tuesday.

“You don’t have to write down a ranking for these guys. They know they played really well tonight,” Kelly said. “It’s good to talk about for other people but not us.”

PLAY OF THE GAME

After Boutte’s 3-yard TD opened the scoring early in the second quarter, the Bruins quickly responded on the first play of the ensuing drive with Thompson-Robinson’s 75-yard connection to Dulcich.

Thompson-Robinson rolled right and found an open Dulcich, who caught the ball at the UCLA 40. The junior tight end took an angle toward the sideline, juked Tigers’ defensive back Major Burns at the LSU 37 and then eluded tackle attempts by Derek Stingley Jr. and Damone Clark near the end zone.

It is Dulcich’s third touchdown of 52 yards or more in the past nine games dating back to last season.

SCREEN PLAY

Boutte used an official’s position to his advantage for his second touchdown. The sophomore caught a pass over the middle, was able to elude Jay Shaw when he was incidentally blocked by the official and went 44 yards to get the Tigers within 21-17 in the third quarter.

TAKEAWAYS

LSU: The Tigers look as if their pass defense has still not improved. They have allowed 14 completions of 50 yards or more since the start of last season, which is the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

UCLA: The Bruins drew 68,123 to the Rose Bowl, which was more than double the 32,918 that showed up for last week’s opener against Hawaii.

UP NEXT

LSU: Hosts McNeese next Saturday in the second meeting between the two schools.

UCLA: Is off next week before it hosts Fresno State on Sept. 18 in its final non-conference game.

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.