No. 22 San Diego State rallies past Boise State 27-16

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

CARSON, Calif. – Jordon Brookshire‘s last competitive pass had been thrown in mid-October, back when he lost San Diego State’s starting quarterback job and got labeled a third-stringer. He was not a likely candidate to save the Aztecs’ Mountain West championship hopes in their regular season finale.

With their offense sputtering and even their vaunted defense struggling to slow down Boise State late in the first half, the Aztecs turned to Brookshire out of desperation and necessity.

Four drives and four scores later, San Diego State was rolling toward a historic victory.

Brookshire led No. 22 San Diego State to 24 unanswered points after replacing Lucas Johnson late in the first half, and the Aztecs claimed the conference’s West Division title with a 27-16 victory over the Broncos on Friday.

Brookshire passed for 192 yards and a touchdown for the Aztecs (11-1, 7-1), who celebrated at their temporary home in the Los Angeles suburbs after completing their first 11-win regular season in 99 years of football.

“It feels great, and it’s been a while since something like that has happened,” said Brookshire, who capped the scoring with a 16-yard TD run through the heart of Boise State’s defense. “It’s a real confidence-booster, and I feel so grateful to be around this group of seniors and to be able to pull this off for them on their day.”

The Aztecs, who have never had a 12-win season, will host the Mountain West title game next Saturday, Dec. 4, against Mountain Division champ Utah State (9-3, 6-2).

San Diego State erased an early 13-point deficit with a bounce-back effort from its vaunted defense, which shut out the Broncos (7-5, 5-3) over the final 38 minutes.

Jesse Matthews caught nine passes for 133 yards, and Greg Bell rushed for a touchdown – but Brookshire transformed the struggling San Diego State offense when he took over on the penultimate drive of the first half. On their next four drives, the Aztecs turned a 13-point deficit into an 11-point lead.

Aztecs coach Brady Hoke said he inserted Brookshire primarily because Johnson was “banged up,” but Brookshire immediately showed it was the right decision.

“There’s no question about it,” Hoke said. “Coming out after halftime there was an energy that may not have been there earlier, and you could really feel it. I also think we got on our heels a little bit in the first half defensively, and then that wore off.”

Kurt Rafdal and Khalil Shakir caught early TD passes from Hank Bachmeier for the Broncos, whose four-game winning streak ended. Boise State has its first five-loss season since 2013 under first-year head coach Andy Avalos, a native of nearby Corona, California.

“For some reason, we just couldn’t execute and finish the game out, but everybody fought their hearts out,” Shakir said. “We did everything we could to go against one of the best defenses in the country.”

Patrick McMorris made two of the Aztecs’ three interceptions, and Jonah Tavai got three of their four sacks while the defense harassed and hit Bachmeier throughout the second half, forcing backup Jack Sears to play the final two series.

Brookshire began the season as the Aztecs’ starting quarterback, but Johnson took over after two games when Brookshire injured his foot. Brookshire returned and struggled through two more starts before Johnson reassumed the starting job for the next six games, with Brookshire bumped to the third string behind freshman Will Haskell, who wasn’t in uniform Friday for reasons Hoke wouldn’t disclose.

“A lot of my coaches just say I’m a fighter, and I think that’s been present,” Brookshire said. “In life, things don’t always go the way you want them to, but what matters is how you respond to those things.”

Johnson was 9 of 20 for 98 yards when Brookshire relieved him and immediately led the Aztecs 78 yards for their first TD on Matthews’ 29-yard catch-and-run. Brookshire strung together another quick drive ending with Matt Araiza’s 37-yard field goal 3 seconds before halftime.

The Aztecs went ahead 20-16 to open the second half on a 75-yard drive that included a third-and-11 conversion and two fourth-down conversions, including Bell’s 2-yard TD run. McMorris’ second interception then led to a drive ending in Brookshire’s TD run.

“We’ll digest this, think about and look at the things we need to fix,” Broncos linebacker Kekaula Kaniho said. “But we know we’ll have one more opportunity to finish this season, and we’re excited to do that.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Boise State: A team that scored 128 points in its last four games got off to a strong start against the conference’s best defense, but couldn’t sustain it. The Broncos aren’t alone in struggling against the Aztecs’ heavy hitters, but it’s a regular season-ending disappointment after an encouraging stretch under Avalos.

San Diego State: The Aztecs earned one more game with their unlikely homefield advantage at Dignity Health Sports Park. San Diego State has spent the last two seasons playing 116 miles northwest of campus on the LA Galaxy’s home field while the $310 million Aztec Stadium is being constructed for a 2022 opening on the site of the demolished Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego’s Mission Valley. The Aztecs are 9-2 in Carson, including 6-1 this year.

UP NEXT

Boise State: Probable bowl game.

San Diego State: Mountain West title game against the Aggies on Dec. 4.

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.