O’Connell, Bell help Purdue take down Michigan State 40-29

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Aidan O’Connell threw for a career-best 536 yards, matched his career high with three touchdown passes and led Purdue past No. 5 Michigan State 40-29 on Saturday, leaving the Big Ten without any unbeaten teams.

Purdue’s second major upset in four weeks could keep the conference out of the College Football Playoff for the third time in five years. The Boilermakers (6-3, 4-2), who won at then-No. 2 Iowa last month, are bowl-eligible for the first time in three years. They tied for the West Division lead and extended their FBS record for wins over top-five teams when unranked to 17.

“We’ve got a group of guys that are really hungry. We’ve had some adversity along the way, but that’s football and that’s what trains you to be great,” coach Jeff Brohm said. “It’s just a truly a great win for our program.”

The Spartans (8-1, 5-1) lost to Purdue for the first time since 2006 and trail Ohio State in the East by one game.

O’Connell went 40 of 54, including a 39-yard TD to Jackson Anthrop on a beautifully executed trick play that put Purdue ahead 21-7 in the second quarter. Anthrop began the play in motion, took a handoff and gave the ball to a wide receiver on a reverse who then pitched the ball back to O’Connell. The QB tossed an easy screen pass back to Anthrop, who followed a convoy of blockers into the end zone.

David Bell hauled in 11 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown. He posted his 15th career 100-yard receiving game, breaking John Standeford’s Purdue record.

Even another strong showing by Kenneth Walker III — 23 carries for 146 yards and a score — couldn’t keep the Spartans on track. Michigan State (8-1, 5-1, No. 3 CFP) spent most of the day playing catch-up.

“We weren’t able to move the chains and convert when we needed to,” Spartans coach Mel Tucker said.

The Spartans got within 21-14 at halftime and tied the score on their third play of the second half when quarterback Payton Thorne ran 39 yards for a touchdown.

King Doerue broke the tie with a 1-yard TD run on the ensuing series and the Boilermakers extended the margin to 37-21 with three field goals. The Spartans closed to 37-29 on Thorne’s second TD pass to Tre Mosley and a 2-point conversion pass from Thorne to Maliq Carr.

Purdue sealed it with a 22-yard field goal with 41 seconds left.

THE TAKEAWAY

Michigan State: The Spartans haven’t been 9-0 since 1966 and again failed to follow up a big, emotional victory — last week over Michigan — with another win. Michigan State must win out to have a chance to play for its first Big Ten crown since 2015.

Purdue: Coach Jeff Brohm pulled off a rare feat — beating two top-five teams in the same season for the first time since 1960. The fans, fittingly, rushed the field to celebrate.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Michigan State: The Spartans will slide behind Ohio State in the AP Top 25. How far they fall in the CFP standings will indicate whether Michigan State still has a chance to make the four-team playoff.

Purdue: Expect the Boilermakers to return to the Top 25 for the second time this season.

UP NEXT

Michigan State: Hosts Maryland next Saturday.

Purdue: Faces its second straight top-10 foe when it visits No. 6 Ohio State next Saturday.

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.