No. 9 Iowa beats No. 10 Iowa St 27-17 to keep Cy-Hawk Trophy

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AMES, Iowa – Iowa defensive end Zach VanValkenburg and offensive lineman Jack Plumb marched across the end zone with the Cy-Hawk Trophy perched on their shoulders, showing it off to the Hawkeyes fans who had come to Jack Trice Stadium to see the biggest game in the history of the rivalry with Iowa State.

The trophy checks in at about 90 pounds and for all the progress the ninth-ranked Cyclone have made in recent years, they just can’t pry it away from the Hawkeyes.

Jack Campbell returned a fumble 6 yards for a touchdown and No. 10 Iowa ran its winning streak against Iowa State to six games with a 27-17 victory Saturday that ruined the most-anticipated home game in Cyclones history.

In the first Cy-Hawk game matching ranked teams in 65 total meetings, the Hawkeyes (2-0) were not about to play the foil for Iowa State’s feel-good story.

The Cyclones (1-1) hosted ESPN’s “GameDay,” and after years of mediocrity – at best – they came into this season ranked in the top 10.

Ames was rocking, but the rivals from across the state sucked the life out of Jack Trice.

Iowa linebacker Jestin Jacobs said the atmosphere was “crazy.”

“You really can’t describe it until you’re in it,” Jacobs said. “Just to get that win in hostile territory fills you with emotion.”

Iowa turned four takeaways into 20 points, ran its overall winning streak to eight games and its winning streak against ranked teams to five. Iowa has not won that many in a row against ranked opponents since 1960.

“Polls in September, they really don’t mean a lot,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “But for us it’s all about building a team.”

This Iowa team looks like a contender in the Big Ten thanks to its defense.

“You talk about physicality, that’s what you do at Iowa,” said Campbell, who had eight tackles and half a sack.

The Hawkeyes used the same formula as last week when they had two defensive touchdowns in a rout of Indiana, another upstart program looking to build off 2020’s success.

The Cyclones came into this season with sky-high expectations, a loaded and experienced roster and hot-commodity coach. One significant milestone has eluded Iowa State during its program renaissance and four straight winning seasons of under Matt Campbell: A victory against Iowa.

Maybe the Cyclones will have better luck in the Big 12 because the Hawkeyes remain heartbreakers.

“Somewhere along the line I have failed this team to be prepared for this moment,” said Campbell, who fell to 0-5 against Iowa. “I think the lack of execution really falls on my shoulders.”

With the Cyclones backed up to their goal line, All-American Breece Hall was stripped by Jacobs. Campbell scooped the bouncing ball and took a couple of strides into the end zone to make it 21-10 with 5:08 left in the third quarter.

The Hawkeyes celebrated while Hall was face down on the turf for a few extra seconds, frustrated by a critical mistake. One that has become so common in this series for Iowa State.

Hall was held to 93 total yards and a touchdown on 20 touches.

Matt Hankins had two of Iowa’s three interceptions against Brock Purdy, who was benched for Hunter Dekkers early in the fourth quarter.

Hankins’ second pick at the end of the third quarter left the Hawkeyes in Iowa State territory and seemed to kill all hope for the Cyclones’ sellout crowd of 61,500.

“You could definitely feel it, just the momentum shift,” Hankins said. “Definitely feel the energy change.”

The hype song “Jump Around” blared inside Jack Trice Stadium heading into the fourth quarter, but it hardly caused a stir in the stands on a hot, mercifully overcast day in Ames.

Caleb Shudak hit a 22-yard field goal to make it 27-10 with 12:53 left in the fourth and that was pretty much it.

The Hawkeyes’ offense managed just 173 yards, but it was good enough.

THE TAKEAWAY

Iowa: The takeaway is all about takeaways for Iowa against Iowa State. In the past five meetings, Iowa is plus-9 in turnover margin with no giveaways.

Iowa State: Purdy is a four-year starter and a huge part of Iowa State’s turnaround, but he has been flummoxed by the Hawkeyes. He finished 13 for 27 for 138 yards in this one.

Dekkers is considered the future, a second-year freshman. Playing against an Iowa defense that was playing it safe, he went 11 for 16 for 114 yards and a touchdown.

Campbell tried to quell any talk of a quarterback controversy, backing Purdy.

“If I know Brock Purdy, he’ll bounce back better than ever,” Campbell said.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Iowa might be the highest-ranked team in the Big Ten when the new Top 25 comes out Sunday.

Iowa State might be unranked.

NEXT UP

Iowa: The Hawkeyes host Kent State to start a two-game homestand.

Iowa State: The Cyclones go to UNLV to close out the nonconference schedule for the first of two straight weeks road games.

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.

Pratt accounts for 5 TDs, Tulane tops UCF 45-28 to win AAC

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW ORLEANS – As Tulane receiver Shae Wyatt watched jubilant fans streaming onto the field, he couldn’t help but reflect upon how far his team had come since finishing last season 2-10.

“It’s definitely surreal,” said Wyatt, whose two touchdown catches were no small part of why a celebratory scene so hard to conceive of a year ago was unfolding around him. “Seeing all the other schools with their success, and having their fans storm the field – eventually, everybody wants that.”

Michael Pratt accounted for 442 total yards and five touchdowns, Tyjae Spears highlighted his 199 yards rushing with a 60-yard score and No. 18 Tulane beat No. 22 UCF 45-28 on Saturday night in the American Athletic Conference championship game.

The victory virtually assured Tulane (11-2) would play in the Cotton Bowl – its first major New Year’s Day bowl since the 1939 season.

A full hour after the game, Tulane players were still in uniform, walking back to the field from the locker room to pose for photos with teammates, some with cigars in hand. Spears joked that his elbow was sore from fans pulling on him for a congratulatory embrace.

“It was an amazing feeling, man,” Spears said. “That’s something that will stick with us for the rest of our life.”

And Wyatt suggested that Tulane’s remarkable turnaround should serve as a lesson.

“They were just throwing dirt over us and for a while it was hard to bounce back,” Wyatt said of last season, during which Tulane was displaced by Hurricane Ida to a Birmingham hotel for a month, and plagued with injuries to prominent players.

“If you keep your faith and you believe in your brothers that are next to you, flowers will grow. I promise you,” Wyatt said. “I hope this is a testament to anybody out there.”

Pratt passed for a career-high 394 yards, including touchdowns of 73 yards to Duece Watts, 60 and 10 yards to Wyatt and 43 yards to Lawrence Keys. Pratt also ran for a pivotal 18-yard touchdown with 4:04 left.

“It was awesome to close out that game and have those fans so fired up,” said Pratt, named the game’s most outstanding player.

Spears electrified the record crowd of 30,118 at Tulane’s cozy, on-campus Yulman Stadium with his long scoring run, on which he broke two tackles near the line of scrimmage, made two other defenders miss and hurndled his own fallen teammate after cutting back inside.

The Green Wave, which earned the right to host the title game by ending Cincinnati’s 32-game home winning streak last weekend, avenged a 38-31 regular-season loss to UCF (9-4) on the same field on Nov. 12.

But UCF was not quite the same team because of QB John Rhys Plumlee‘s nagging hamstring injury, which appeared to rob him of the explosiveness he displayed by running for 176 yards in the previous meeting.

Plumlee struggled enough early on that coach Gus Malzahn pulled him in the second quarter in favor of Thomas Castellanos. But with Tulane up 24-7 in the middle of the third quarter, Malzahn put Plumlee back in as primarily a passer – and he nearly led the Kights all the way back.

“He’s one of the toughest players I think I’ve ever coached,” Malzahn said. “John Rhys just kept telling me, `Coach, give me another chance.’ … He really gave us a spark.”

Plumlee led UCF quickly for a touchdown to make it 24-14, converting a fourth-and-10 pass along the way and capping the drive with a 17-yarder to Kobe Hudson.

“You work all year to play in a game like this,” said Plumlee, who completed 29 of 39 for 209 yards and one TD, but finished with minus-7 yards rushing as Tulane had six sacks. “I didn’t want to sell myself short or sell this team short.”

Tulane responded when both UCF safeties froze on a play-fake to Spears and Pratt found Watts running free behind the defense.

UCF cut it to 31-21 when former Virginia QB RJ Harvey took a backward pass from Plumlee and launched a 49-yard TD pass to Hudson.

And the Knights got the ball right back when Spears fumbled after a catch on the Green Wave 30. Isaiah Bowser‘s 10-yard run shortly after got UCF as close as 31-28 with 9:48 still left.

But Pratt again found a way to lead the Wave down the field, connecting with Wyatt for the longer of the receiver’s two TDs, and UCF didn’t threaten again.

THE TAKEAWAY

UCF: Knights sophomore backup QB Mikey Keene, who had come in after Plumlee injuries for comeback victories over Cincinnati and South Florida, did not dress for the game. That allowed him to retain a year of eligibility, but also raised questions over whether he might test the transfer portal.

Tulane: It was a dream end to week that got off to a less-than-ideal start with reports out of Atlaata that head coach Willie Fritz being pursued by Georgia Tech.

“Well, I sure am glad I stayed,” Fritz said. “I made a commitment to these kids and the last thing I ever wanted to be was a distraction. So, I’m just proud to be here.”

UP NEXT

UCF: Awaits a bowl bid on Sunday.

Tulane: Heads to its most significant bowl appearance since losing 14-13 to Texas A&M in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1940.