Oklahoma coach Riley won’t name starting QB before TCU game

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NORMAN, Okla. — Spencer Rattler was the man heading into the season. Now he might not even be the starter.

The Oklahoma quarterback had everything going for himself two months ago. He was a preseason Associated Press first-team All-American who was at the forefront of Heisman Trophy conversations. He was among the most visible players taking advantage of NCAA rules changes that now allow athletes to cash in on their celebrity.

Caleb Williams replaced him last Saturday and rallied the Sooners to a 55-48 win over Texas.

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley wouldn’t say how he will play his quarterbacks heading into the fourth-ranked Sooners’ game against TCU (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) on Saturday. He said he’s not a fan of two-quarterback systems, but wouldn’t rule anything out that he thought would help the team.

“I don’t plan on naming a starting quarterback this week,” Riley said. “We’ll see how the week plays out and we’ll see where we are when we get to Saturday. The guys have done well. They practiced well today. We’ll see how it goes. We’ll see Saturday at 6:30.”

Oklahoma is handling the situation delicately. Rattler normally talks with reporters on Wednesday, but Oklahoma (6-0, 3-0) canceled its weekly Zoom sessions.

TCU coach Gary Patterson said he doesn’t see Oklahoma changing much with Williams, but he will review past examples of Oklahoma using the quarterback run game to prepare. Williams has nine carries for 149 yards and two touchdowns this season.

“I think they’re the same,” he said. “One (Williams) is a little more like Jalen Hurts in the fact he’s stronger and faster. There’s a couple of quarterback plays we’ll prepare for. Outside of that, they both get ready to go. … They both run the offense like the offense is run.”

Riley said he gave Rattler Monday off to regroup after his benching. Receiver Marvin Mims said Rattler had the right approach when he returned Tuesday.

“If I got hit with something like that, you know, that’s something that’s huge,” Mims said. “You never know how someone is going to respond and how they’re going to deal with something that happened. But he was at practice today and had huge energy. A lot of energy controlling the offense just like he normally does.”

Rattler’s numbers have been solid this season. He has completed 74% of his passes for 1,371 yards and 10 touchdowns with five interceptions. But at times, he has looked uncomfortable in the pocket and has forced throws into coverage.

His problems have gone beyond the numbers. His body language at times has created the perception that he’s not a team player, and fans booed him and called for Williams after he threw an interception against West Virginia.

“This guy gets painted a different way publicly than what he really is,” Riley said. “He’s a great kid. He’s worked his tail off here. He’s been a really good player here. I have a ton of trust in him.”

Williams has earned Riley’s trust, too. The true freshman passed for 212 yards and rushed for 88 against Texas, including a 66-yard touchdown run on his first play from scrimmage.

“He came in and won the game for them,” Texas defensive back Anthony Cook said. “That was big time.”

Williams’ mobility helps cover for an offensive line that has potential but is still developing.

“Very inconsistent,” Oklahoma offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh said of his unit. “Some really, really good things and some really, really bad things. Some of it is inexperience at some important positions. Some of it is preparation. Some of it is obviously coaching, as it falls on me. I do think we’ve gotten better.”

Rattler or Williams or both will have to deal with a TCU defense that typically is hard to handle with schemes including the unusual 4-2-5 alignment.

“They’re very multiple, and I think they’ve always done a tremendous job in the secondary, making things very tough,” Riley said. “They’re very aggressive with your routes. They do a good job of pattern reading. And they just — they know their system, man. They know it inside and out, and they play it well.”

Riley believes his Sooners will be successful with either quarterback going forward.

“For me, I feel like I have two really good players,” he said. “I don’t see it as a problem. I don’t see it as an issue. You get to choose between two great options and it’s a good position to be in. I know both of those kids will respond no matter what position they are in.”

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.