Walker-led No. 8 Michigan St tops No. 6 Michigan 37-33

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EAST LANSING, Mich. – Kenneth Walker earned the right to stump for Heisman Trophy votes and humbly refused, shaking off questions about the coveted award as if they were linebackers trying to tackle him.

Walker ran for 197 yards and five touchdowns, helping No. 8 Michigan State top No. 6 Michigan 37-33 for a thrilling comeback win on Saturday.

“I don’t feel like it was a Heisman moment,” said Walker, who started the day leading the nation in rushing and finished it with 1,194 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns. “But it was just a great team win.”

The Wake Forest transfer had a lot to do with it.

The Spartans (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten) trailed by nine at halftime and 30-14 with 6:47 left in the third quarter before rallying as Walker boosted his chances of being selected college football’s most outstanding player.

Walker’s fifth touchdown – a 23-yard run – lifted the Spartans to a 37-33 lead with 5:08 remaining. He had 8.6 yards a carry, an average that spiked thanks to his 58-yard touchdown that helped the Spartans pull into a 30-all tie early in the fourth quarter.

“This was a huge stage, the whole world was watching, and you got a chance to see what type of player he is,” coach Mel Tucker said. “Any recognition he’s getting for Heisman consideration is well deserved.”

The Wolverines (7-1, 4-1) forced a final punt and had the ball at their 33 with 1:15 and no timeouts left.

After a roughing-the-passer penalty gave them the ball at midfield, Michigan State cornerback Charles Brantley sealed the victory by picking off a floating pass from Cade McNamara.

“This one stings,” McNamara said. “We have to respond. Our backs are against the wall now.”

McNamara threw for 383 yards and two touchdowns, but his interception was costly, as was freshman quarterback J.J. McCarthy‘s lost fumble on an attempted handoff in the fourth quarter.

“That exchange didn’t go smoothly,” said Harbaugh, who said McNamara was “working through something,” when he the freshman replaced him.

The rivals were on the same field with 7-0 or better records for the first time, matching up as top-10 teams for the first time since 1964.

Michigan State’s win puts the program in contention for the Big Ten conference championship and potentially a spot in the College Football Playoff.

“We’re in the hunt,” Tucker said.

Michigan’s loss leaves Jim Harbaugh with a 3-4 record against Michigan State as a coach, putting even more pressure on him to earn his first victory against No. 5 Ohio State next month.

The Spartans had some calls and reviews go their way, including one that overturned Payton Thorne‘s fumble late in the first half that Aidan Hutchinson recovered in the end zone, but Harbaugh refused to publicly lash out.

“I made my thoughts known throughout the game,” he said.

The Wolverines started strong, leading 23-14 after an entertaining first half and by 16 points in the third quarter.

On their first drive, McNamara threw a 93-yard touchdown pass to former East Lansing High School star Andrel Anthony. After Thorne’s second interception, the Wolverines settled for the first of four Jake Moody field goals and a 10-0 lead late in the first quarter.

Walker bounced a run to the outside, finding a hole to sprint through for a 27-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter.

Tucker went for it on fourth-and-1 near midfield and Thorne’s play-action pass to Jalen Nailor set up Walker’s 8-yard TD run and a 14-13 lead.

Anthony caught a 17-yard TD pass and Moody kicked a 35-yarder in the final seconds of the first half. McNamara tacked on another TD pass in the third, finding Mike Sainristil for a 19-yarder that made it 30-14 with 6:47 left.

Tucker went for it again on fourth down late in the third as Thorne threw a 28-yard pass to Jayden Reed to set up Walker’s third touchdown.

Michigan State was 0 for 7 on third down until converting three straight on one drive, including Walker’s 58-yard touchdown run.

THE TAKEAWAY

Michigan: Hassan Haskins was held to 59 yards on 14 carries and Blake Corum had just 45 yards rushing on 13 carries. Entering the game, the duo helped Michigan average 253.3 yards rushing.

Michigan State: Tucker has a ton of momentum with an 8-0 record this year and a 2-0 mark against the in-state rival, becoming the first Michigan State coach to win his first two games against the Wolverines.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Michigan State and Michigan may flip spots in the AP Top 25 after living up to the hype with a closely contested game.

“That was an epic game,” Tucker said.

SLANTED SERIES

The Spartans have won 10 of the last 14 games against Michigan.

UP NEXT

Michigan: Hosts Indiana on Saturday.

Michigan State: At at Purdue on Saturday.

Clemson gives raises, contract extensions to staff

Ken Ruinard/USA TODAY NETWORK
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s board of trustees approved raises for special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed and defensive tackles coach Nick Eason.

Reed and Eason also received one-year extensions keeping them tied to the Tigers through Jan. 31, 2026.

Reed, who’s been with the Tigers since 2013, had his yearly salary increased $50,000 to $800,000. Eason, the former Clemson standout defensive lineman, joined the staff this past season. He also had his compensation upped by $50,000 to $800,000.

Seven other assistants were given one-year extensions by the trustees’ compensation committee, but without a raise in salary.

Co-defensive coordinators Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn had their contracts extended through Jan. 31, 2026.

Defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall, tight ends coach Kyle Richardson, offensive line coach Thomas Austin, running backs coach C.J. Spiller and wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham all got one-year extensions through Jan. 31, 2025.

New offensive coordinator Garrett Riley last month received a three-year contract at $1.75 million per season.

Clemson will pay its 10 on-field assistants $7.475 million this season, an increase of $925,000 from the total for 2022.

The Tigers went 11-3 last season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.

South Carolina’s Beamer suspends three freshmen from program

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Corey Perrine/USA TODAY NETWORK
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said freshmen Monteque Rhames II, Anthony Rose and Cameron Upshaw were suspended from the football program.

There was no reason given for the suspensions in the school’s statement Friday. Online records showed Rhames, 18, was booked last night and was being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on charges of carrying weapons on school property and obstructing justice.

“Our student-athletes know what is expected of them,” Beamer said. “They know that both the university and the football program will hold them accountable for their actions and decisions.”

None of the three have played for the Gamecocks.

Rose is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back from Miami who enrolled in January 2022 and redshirted this season. Rhames and Upshaw were part of South Carolina’s latest recruiting class and enrolled last month.

Rhames is a 6-5, 235-pound defensive lineman from Sumter and Upshaw is a 6-2, 193-pound safety from Perry, Florida.