No. 14 Michigan rips Wisconsin 38-17; Badgers’ Mertz injured

John Fisher-Getty Images
2 Comments

MADISON, Wis. — Cornelius Johnson caught both of Cade McNamara‘s touchdown passes and No. 14 Michigan remained unbeaten Saturday with a 38-17 victory over Wisconsin, which lost starting quarterback Graham Mertz to a chest injury.

Wisconsin (1-3, 0-2 Big Ten) trailed 13-10 and had the ball to start the third quarter when Mertz was sacked by Daxton Hill on a third-and-9 play. Mertz and tight end Jake Ferguson both went to the locker room with chest injuries after that play, and neither returned to the game.

Once Mertz and Ferguson departed, Michigan scored 25 straight points to put the game out of reach.

“It didn’t make a difference who was on the other side of the ball,” Michigan linebacker David Ojabo said. “It was just a relentless effort.”

The Wolverines (5-0, 2-0) won at Madison for the first time since 2001 by shutting down Wisconsin’s rushing attack, something Michigan had failed to do the last couple of seasons. Michigan had lost in each of its last five trips to Camp Randall Stadium.

Wisconsin beat Michigan 35-14 in 2019 and 49-11 in 2020 while rushing for over 340 yards in each of those games. Michigan limited the Badgers to 43 yards on 32 carries Saturday.

“There’s things we’ve got to get better at to give ourselves a chance,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. “We’re going to keep working on that. We’ll get it straight. How do you respond? You respond by going forward.”

McNamara went 17 of 28 for 197 yards. Highly touted freshman quarterback J.J. McCarthy also played and had a 1-yard touchdown run plus a 56-yard touchdown pass to Daylen Baldwin.

Mertz was 8 of 15 for 115 yards with a touchdown pass to Chimere Dike before getting hurt. Chase Wolf replaced Mertz and went 3 of 8 for 52 yards with an interception and a touchdown pass to Clay Cufiff.

Michigan led 10-0 and outgained Wisconsin 122-minus-2 for the first 20-plus minutes of the game as the Badgers failed to complete a pass or get a first down on any of their first four possessions.

The Wolverines opened the scoring on a flea flicker that resulted in McNamara’s 34-yard touchdown pass to Johnson. McNamara and Johnson connected again on a 13-yard score in the fourth quarter.

Wisconsin got back in the game by scoring on its last two possessions of the first half. Mertz connected with Dike on a 36-yard completion and an 18-yard touchdown on consecutive plays to get Michigan’s lead down to 13-10 with seven seconds left in the first half.

But once Mertz went down, the Badgers never threatened again.

HONORING ALVAREZ

Wisconsin honored former coach and athletic director Barry Alvarez during a halftime ceremony. Alvarez stepped down as coach in 2005 and retired as athletic director earlier this year.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank announced Friday that Camp Randall Stadium’s playing field will be named after Alvarez. The change takes effect next season, making the playing field “Barry Alvarez Field at Camp Randall Stadium.”

STRICKER’S HOMECOMING

U.S. Ryder Cup caption and Madison native Steve Stricker was recognized during a first-quarter timeout. The U.S. team won back the Ryder Cup with a 19-9 rout of Europe at Whistling Straits, located just outside Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

THE TAKEAWAY

Michigan: The Wolverines had run the ball on 74% of their snaps this season heading into Saturday, but they changed their strategy against a Wisconsin run defense that ranked first in the nation. McNamara hadn’t thrown more than 16 passes in any of Michigan’s first four games. . The Wolverines showed plenty of boldness in fourth-and-short situations. They went 3 of 5 on fourth-down conversions, including McCarthy’s touchdown run.

Wisconsin: After being ranked 12th to start the season, the Badgers have dropped three of four games and now must worry about how soon they’ll get Mertz or Ferguson back. Wisconsin has lost seven of its last 13 games and has dropped eight straight to ranked teams. Mertz’s injury came just as he showed signs of bouncing back from his four-interception performance last week in a 41-13 loss to Notre Dame. . The Badgers played without usual starting center Joe Tippmann, who was poked in the eye during pregame warmups.

UP NEXT

Michigan: At Nebraska on Saturday.

Wisconsin: At Illinois on Saturday.

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

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

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
0 Comments

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.