Bowling Green stuns Minnesota at homecoming, 14-10

Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — Quarterback Matt McDonald ran for a pair of scores, and two late interceptions by the Bowling Green defense sealed the win as the Falcons shocked heavily-favored Minnesota, 14-10, on homecoming.

The loss snapped Minnesota’s streak of 21 straight non-conference wins, the longest streak in the country entering Saturday’s game. The Gophers’ last non-conference loss was Sept. 3, 2015 against TCU.

It also marked Minnesota’s first loss to a non-Power 5 conference opponent since losing to North Dakota State on Sept. 24, 2011.

“Give Bowling Green a lot of credit,” said Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck. “I know how excited they are, and they deserve it and they earned it. We did not deserve to win that football game whatsoever.”

Bowling Green came to Minneapolis as 31-point underdogs but used a strong defensive effort to slow down the Golden Gopher offense. Minnesota’s fans booed their team at numerous points in the game, while Falcons players jumped on the field in celebration after the upset was complete.

“I couldn’t be more happy for a group of kids that have really been through a lot,” said Bowling Green head coach Scott Loeffler. “We’ve got the 24-hour rule. We’re going to celebrate for 24 hours, and then we’re going to get back to the office.”

The Gophers had the ball with a chance to take the lead late in the fourth quarter after Bowling Green failed to fall on a muffed punt by Minnesota’s Trey Potts. But one play after recovering the fumble, quarterback Tanner Morgan lofted a deep interception into the hands of Devin Taylor with 2:13 remaining. Morgan threw another pick with 17 seconds remaining.

The Gophers’ passing game struggled all day against the Falcons. Morgan was just 5-of-13 for 59 yards.

“I have to play way better,” said Morgan, who was also sacked four times.

McDonald scored on runs of one and three yards. He was 19-of-35 for 170 yards through the air.

Minnesota’s lone touchdown came on a 19-yard scramble by backup quarterback Cole Kramer.

Saturday was Minnesota’s first loss to a MAC school since losing to Northern Illinois in 2010.

“P.J. Fleck and this Minnesota team is a good football team,” Loeffler said. “They’re going to bounce back.”

NO GROUND GAME, NO PROBLEM

Bowling Green entered Saturday averaging a mere 53 rushing yards per game, second fewest in the country. The Falcons managed just 22 total rushing yards on 25 carries against Minnesota, with McDonald’s 18-yard run the only carry that went for more than seven yards. That run came at a key time, as it helped the Falcons convert on 4th-and-1 to extend their drive.

QB CONUNDRUM

After Morgan’s struggles Saturday, Fleck was asked if there was any chance Minnesota would make a switch at quarterback.

“That hadn’t even crossed my mind at all,” Fleck said.

THE TAKEAWAY

Bowling Green: This was a huge boost for a Bowling Green team that had lost two of its first three games. Few people gave the Falcons a chance in this one, especially after an impressive 30-0 win for Minnesota last weekend against Colorado. But the Falcons never trailed by more than three and took advantage of the Gophers’ mistakes. The ground game remains an issue, but the defense held its own against Minnesota.

Minnesota: There were miscues galore for the Gophers in Saturday’s loss. Minnesota was stuffed on a 4th-and-1 attempt that led to a Bowling Green touchdown. Morgan lost a fumble after an 18-yard run. A roughing the kicker penalty on a Bowling Green punt in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons new life. Those types of mistakes can’t happen in a game where Minnesota was favored by more than 30 points.

UP NEXT

Bowling Green: The Falcons take on Kent State on the road on Oct. 2.

Minnesota: The Gophers head on the road to face Purdue on Oct. 2.

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.