Jones’ career day helps No. 20 Florida blank Vanderbilt 42-0

Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun / USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida quarterback Emory Jones has unwaveringly supported backup Anthony Richardson all season. He eagerly coached Richardson from the sideline. He enthusiastically cheered for Richardson after every big play. He openly pulled for Richardson’s return from a strained right hamstring.

Now, though, it’s time for Jones to bask in the spotlight.

Jones had a career-high four touchdowns passes, potentially quieting calls for Richardson to play more, and No. 20 Florida routed woeful Vanderbilt 42-0 Saturday.

“I looked up at the scoreboard one time and they said I threw four, and I thought it was wrong,” Jones said. “I really didn’t remember doing it. All the guys around me, they definitely were the biggest part of that. They make it all happen.”

It was a feel-good victory for the Gators on homecoming after a gut-wrenching loss at Kentucky essentially knocked coach Dan Mullen‘s team out of contention in the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division.

Florida (4-2, 2-2 SEC) won its eighth straight in the series and its 30th in the last 31 meetings. The Commodores (2-4, 0-2) dropped their 15th consecutive league game.

Jones was the star of this one. He completed 14 of 22 passes for 273 yards, with TD passes to Ja’Quavion Fraziars, Trent Whittemore, Dameon Pierce and Jacob Copeland. Pierce also scored twice more on short runs.

Richardson played sparingly for the second straight week. His first pass was intercepted. He returned the following series but ended up giving way to Jones until getting back on the field for mop-up duty in the fourth quarter.

“I think all the quarterbacks have a learning curve,” Mullen said. “That why there’s development that goes into it. I do think Anthony works his tail off, has a great approach in what he’s doing, great approach at getting ready at practice.

“I see him improving. The nice thing, we’re throwing him in and he’s getting some opportunities during the game to go show what he can do, and he’s got to continue to improve.”

Vanderbilt had several chances to make the game more competitive, but Alabama transfer Joseph Bulovas missed three field goals. He was errant from 39, 41 and 33 yards out. The Commodores also had a touchdown overturned when Chris Pierce failed to maintain possession on a fourth-down catch when he hit the ground in the second quarter.

“We had a great day moving the ball,” Vandy receiver Cam Johnson said. “When it comes down to it, it was a matter of shooting ourselves in the foot.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Vanderbilt: First-year head coach Chris Lea has a rebuilding project on his hands, but he surely can draw plenty of positives from this loss. The Commodores ran 80 plays and were 8 of 20 on third down.

“If you can make your field goals and score touchdowns when you’re on their side of the field, all of a sudden the energy shifts,” Lea said.

Florida: Mullen wasn’t pleased with his team’s first-half performance. The Gators led 21-0, but it could have been 21-13. He ripped into players and halftime and finally got them going with a fake punt on the fourth play of the third quarter.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Florida is the only two-loss team in The Associated Press college football poll. The Gators are unlikely to move up much, if at all, following a lackluster home victory against an overmatched team.

CORNERBACK CHAOS

The Gators played their third consecutive game without preseason all-SEC cornerback Kaiir Elam, who is recovering from a sprained right knee. The unit, which also is without starter Jaydon Hill (knee), got even thinner in the first quarter Saturday when Tre’Vez Johnson was ejected for targeting.

OLYMPIANS HONORED

Eight Olympians and former Florida standouts had whistles hanging from their necks instead of medals Saturday. Swimmers Caeleb Dressel, Bobby Finke, Natalie Hinds and Kieran Smith, hurdler Grant Holloway, distance runner Taylor Manson, softball player Aubree Munro and baseball player Mark Kolozsvary served as honorary “Mr. Two Bits” cheerleaders before the game.

The eight combined to win 13 medals – seven gold, three silver, three bronze – in Tokyo. Dressel led the way with five gold ones.

HALL OF FAMERS

Tim Tebow and Billy Donovan are finally in Florida’s Hall of Fame. Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, and Donovan, the most accomplished men’s basketball coach in school history, were inducted Friday night as part of the 2020 class. The ceremony was delayed a year because of COVID-19.

UP NEXT

Vanderbilt plays at South Carolina next Saturday. The Commodores have lost 12 straight in the series.

Florida plays at LSU next Saturday. The Gators have dropped four of five in Baton Rouge.

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.