No. 4 Penn State beats Indiana 24-0 with strong defense

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Penn State defenders get excited when they’re asked to defend short fields these days.

After all, it’s what the No. 4 Nittany Lions (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) do best.

Penn State forced eight punts, two turnovers and blocked a field goal to lift the Nittany Lions to a 24-0 victory over Indiana on Saturday.

Sean Clifford threw for 178 yards and three touchdowns, Jahan Dotson caught a pair of touchdown passes, Brenton Strange added one and Jordan Stout added a 50-yard field goal in the fourth quarter in the Nittany Lions’ ninth straight victory.

“We’re a defense who, it doesn’t matter the score, doesn’t matter what time of the game it is, we’re going to go out there and play at a high level,” defensive tackle P.J. Mustipher said. “That’s who we are. Throughout the game, we’re going to keep going.”

Penn State opened the scoring on its second drive when Clifford scrambled left and flung a 10-yard pass to Strange with 5:28 to play in the first quarter.

Raheem Layne intercepted Clifford’s pass in Penn State territory on the Nittany Lions’ next possession. Although Layne returned it to the 13, the Hoosiers couldn’t crack Penn State’s stout red zone defense. They ran four plays inside the 5 only to turn the ball over on downs on a fourth-and-short try.

The Hoosiers (2-3, 0-2) wouldn’t get any closer to the end zone the rest of the night.

“I thought that was a huge play,” Franklin said. “Defensively, I just think we’re playing really good, complimentary defensive football. I don’t know if we’re overwhelming in any area, but I think the defense is doing their job.”

The offense did its part, too. After the defensive stop, the Nittany Lions responded with their longest drive of the season.

They got a boost from running back Keyvone Lee who took off for a 44-yard gain up the middle on second down. He added a 21-yard run moments later to set Penn State up inside the 5. Clifford capped the sequence with a rollout pass to Dotson in the back of the end zone. The 8-yard scoring toss made it 14-0 with 13:31 to play in the first half.

Indiana’s opening second-half possession ended badly when Penix was sacked by linebacker Brandon Smith. Penix went down on his left shoulder and was down on the field for a few minutes. He walked to the locker room and was replaced by Jack Tuttle.

Indiana coach Tom Allen said after the game that Penix injured his throwing shoulder and would undergo further tests when the team returns home.

The backup didn’t fare much better. On his first dropback, Tuttle was sacked hard on third down by Arnold Ebiketie.

“They played good defense,” Allen said. “They make it really hard to run the football. We have to make sure we take that pressure off our throwing game, stay on the field and get first downs.”

Penn State put together another strong drive and increased its lead to 21-0 when Clifford, throwing on the run again, found Dotson cutting inside Indiana’s defense for a 30-yard score.

Tuttle gave Indiana some life when he completed his next three passes for a combined 58 yards, steering his teammates into scoring position midway through the third. But the drive stalled, and Smith blocked a 30-yard field goal attempt by Charles Campbell three plays later.

STAR COMBO

Clifford and Dotson have combined for 18 total touchdowns, the most for any QB-WR combo in Penn State history.

The record of 17 was previously held by Todd Blackledge and Kenny Jackson.

THE TAKEAWAY

Indiana: The Hoosiers played well enough on defense and held Penn State’s big-play offense to just 14 first-half points. Offensively, however, Indiana had very little going on. Penix completed just eight of his first 19 throws for 109 yards and one interception and no matter who Indiana’s QB is moving forward, they’ll need more help from everyone around them if this team wants to make any progress.

Penn State: Clifford continues to play well and the Nittany Lions got more out of their running game by getting Lee involved. The Penn State defense might’ve played its best game of the season. Indiana’s offense was smothered all night, and neither QB had time or space to throw with any accuracy.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Penn State will have room to move up after No. 3 Oregon fell to unranked Stanford.

UP NEXT

Indiana: Hosts No. 17 Michigan State on Oct. 16.

Penn State: At No. 5 Iowa 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.