No. 4 Oklahoma rolls past Western Carolina 76-0

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NORMAN, Okla. – Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler and his teammates felt the pressure after barely beating Tulane in the season opener.

The Sooners stewed for a week, then took out their frustration on Western Carolina. Rattler threw five touchdown passes, and No. 4 Oklahoma rolled past the Catamounts 76-0 on Saturday night.

“When we got in the facility on Monday, even on Sunday, the vibe was uncomfortable,” Rattler said. “We knew what we had to do. We were challenged this past week and came out here today and executed our plays, went through the reads, played hard for four quarters. And that was our big thing – four quarters and finish. We did well with that.”

Oklahoma matched its fifth-highest point total in school history and posted its highest score since 2007. It was the program’s third-largest margin of victory, behind 77-0 wins over Missouri in 1986 and Texas A&M in 2003.

The Sooners led 62-0 after three quarters, and the fourth quarter was shortened to 12 minutes.

Rattler completed 20 of 26 passes for 243 yards before resting in the second half of Oklahoma’s 10th straight victory. He joined Jason White as the only Sooners to pass for five touchdowns in a half.

He threw two interceptions against Tulane, but took a step forward on Saturday.

“I think he was just more patient,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. “Really, just a mindset to just go execute and really never got off of that, and that’s what the best ones do. They can get in that kind of high level of focus and be able to maintain it, and he was much better there today.”

Oklahoma’s Gabe Brkic kicked a 56-yard field goal in the first half, his fourth of 50 or more yards in the first two games. Jadon Haselwood caught two touchdown passes and Jaden Knowles had 102 yards from scrimmage and ran for two touchdowns for the Sooners (2-0).

Rogan Wells completed 16 of 29 passes for 86 yards for Western Carolina (0-2), a Championship Subdivision program that fell to 0-60 all time against Bowl Subdivision teams.

“Well, we wanted to have some success early,” Western Carolina coach Kerwin Bell said. “When you go in a game like this, you got to have some success and then you can sort of stay in a little bit and not get the margin so wide. But … Rogan missed two or three throws on crucial downs. We dropped four or five balls.”

Oklahoma held the Catamounts 178 yards, including 55 rushing. The Sooners earned their first shutout since last September’s victory over Missouri State.

Now, the Sooners can focus on Saturday’s matchup with former Big 8 and Big 12 rival Nebraska.

“I know it’s a big rivalry, was back in the day,” Rattler said. “It’s gonna be a big, fun atmosphere, especially being at home. It’s just another game, though. We’ve got to go in and prepare this week and see what they do on the defensive side and practice it to perfection, and then come out Saturday and play our best for four quarters.”

NO QUITTING

Bell said he was asked at halftime if he wanted his team to play the second half because one of the banks of lights was not operational during the game.

“We don’t surrender in this game. We’re not going to surrender as a football team. We got some really great live reps, which is going to help us win this (Southern) conference.”

Eric Gray

Oklahoma’s transfer from Tennessee got loose after struggling to find his way against Tulane. He led the Sooners with 74 yards on nine carries and scored his first touchdown for Oklahoma on a 20-yard pass from Rattler.

FRESHMAN SHINES

Oklahoma freshman Danny Stutzman, a second-string linebacker, led the Sooners with eight tackles. He hurt his arm though, and said on Twitter that he’s getting a CT scan on Sunday morning.

THE TAKEAWAY

Western Carolina: The Catamounts were overmatched and were never in the game. Oklahoma led 17-0 at the end of the first quarter and 45-0 at halftime.

Oklahoma: The Sooners got more out of their running game this week, posting 277 yards on 38 attempts.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Sooners could move up a spot because No. 3 Ohio State lost at home to No. 12 Oregon.

UP NEXT

Western Carolina hosts Samford on Saturday.

Oklahoma hosts Nebraska on Saturday.

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.