Iowa up to No. 3; Clemson out of Top 25 first time since ’14

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
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Iowa is gearing up for its biggest home game since the 1980s, Cincinnati has its highest ranking in 12 years and Clemson is on the outside looking in at The Associated Press college football poll for the first time since 2014.

Alabama and Georgia are the only constants during this topsy-turvy college football season. They held down the top two spots for a fifth straight week in the AP Top 25, which is presented by Regions Bank.

Alabama received 53 of a possible 62 first-place votes Sunday, with Georgia picking up the rest.

After those two teams, the movement up and down and in and out of the Top 25 was about what would be expected after a week in which nine ranked teams lost, including four in the top 10.

Through the first five weeks of the season, 34 ranked teams have lost, the most in poll history.

Iowa leapfrogged Penn State to take the No. 3 spot after its 51-14 road win over previously unbeaten Maryland. The Hawkeyes have their highest ranking since 2015. Penn State beat Indiana 24-0 at home and remained No. 4.

No. 5 Cincinnati, coming off a 24-13 road win over Notre Dame, has its best ranking since Brian Kelly‘s 2009 Bearcats were No. 4 in the first week of November.

Oklahoma, Ohio State, Oregon, Michigan and BYU round out the top 10.

Clemson’s 19-13 home win over previously unbeaten Boston College didn’t impress voters enough to keep the Tigers in the Top 25. Thus ends their streak of 107 consecutive weeks in the rankings. The last time the Tigers were unranked was the week of Oct. 5, 2014.

They are one spot out of the Top 25, 15 points behind San Diego State.

POLL POINTS

Midway through the season, it’s strange that a rankings-based debate over the top two teams in the Big Ten doesn’t include Ohio State.

The Buckeyes very well may be the best, and the voters certainly show their respect by ranking them ahead of Oregon despite a Week 2 home loss to the Ducks and a meh home win over Tulsa in the following game.

This week’s Penn State-Iowa clash is the Big Ten’s game of the year – so far.

It will be the highest-ranked matchup in Iowa City since 1985, when the No. 1 Hawkeyes beat No. 2 Michigan 12-10 on a field goal as time ran out for what Hayden Fry called the biggest win in program history.

IN

– No. 16 Kentucky (5-0) is rewarded for its win over then-No. 10 Florida with its first ranking of the season.

– No. 21 Texas (4-1) beat TCU for its third straight victory and is back in for the first time in a month.

– No. 22 Arizona State (4-1) returns after wins over Colorado and UCLA.

– No. 24 SMU is 5-0 for a third straight season.

– No. 25 San Diego State (4-0) returns for the first time since November 2019.

OUT

– Clemson managed only one touchdown and four field goals against BC. The Tigers get a week off before facing a top-15 defense at Syracuse.

– Texas A&M got bounced for losing two in a row and Alabama comes calling this week.

– Fresno State is out following two weeks after committing six turnovers and blowing a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter against Hawaii.

– UCLA was ranked for three straight weeks but got bumped after losing two straight home games.

– Baylor couldn’t get its running game going against Oklahoma State and is out after a one-week appearance.

CONFERENCE CALL

Losses by Arkansas and Florida made room for the Big Ten to claim four of the top 10 spots, and Michigan State is sitting at No. 11.

Last week, the Southeastern Conference had four teams in the top 10 and five of the top 12. Alabama and Georgia are the SEC’s only two in the top 10 this week.

The Atlantic Coast Conference’s first absence from the top 20 in 10 years lasted only a week thanks to Wake Forest moving up to No. 19.

SEC – 7 (Nos. 1, 2, 13, 16, 17, 18, 20).

Big Ten – 5 (Nos. 3, 4, 7, 9, 11).

ACC – 2 (Nos. 19, 23).

Big 12 – 3 (Nos. 6, 12, 21).

Pac-12 – 2 (Nos. 8, 22).

American – 2 (Nos. 5, 24).

Sun Belt – 1 (No. 15).

Mountain West – 1 (No. 25).

Independents – 2 (Nos. 10, 14).

RANKED vs. RANKED

No. 4 Penn State at No. 3 Iowa. This isn’t the same Nittany Lions team that lost by 20 points to Iowa last year.

No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 21 Texas. Red River Rivalry will be hard-pressed to duplicate last year’s four-overtime thriller won by the Sooners.

No. 13 Arkansas at No. 17 Mississippi. These are a couple of teams looking for a re-set after lopsided losses to the nation’s best two.

No. 2 Georgia at No. 18 Auburn. Bulldogs have won 12 of 15 in the series.

 

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.