Sanders leads No. 7 Oklahoma State past No. 10 Oklahoma

Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports
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STILLWATER, Okla. – Oklahoma State finally broke through against its greatest nemesis.

Spencer Sanders threw for a touchdown and ran for another and No. 7 Oklahoma State beat No. 10 Oklahoma 37-33 on Saturday night to keep alive its College Football Playoff chances and stop the Sooners’ streak of Big 12 titles at six.

Oklahoma State (11-1, 8-1, No. 7 CFP) snapped a six-game losing streak to Oklahoma. The Cowboys will play No. 9 Baylor next Saturday for the Big 12 championship. The Cowboys have a shot at their first Big 12 title since 2011.

“I told them we couldn’t be more proud of them for what they’ve accomplished,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “That’s the good news. Next thing is, we need them all back here tomorrow afternoon. We’re in a one-week playoff again.”

Oklahoma (10-2, 7-2, No. 10 CFP) got the ball one last time at its 20-yard line with 54 seconds remaining and no timeouts. Caleb Williams scrambled and ran 56 yards to put the Sooners in scoring range.

“I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to catch him and get him down,” Gundy said. “I’ve seen him do that on TV two, three, four times this year. Nobody ever catches him. He scores.”

Oklahoma State’s Collin Oliver sacked Williams on fourth down at the Oklahoma State 32 with eight seconds remaining, setting off a wild celebration. Fans clad in orange and black poured onto the field to celebrate Gundy’s third win in 17 tries against the Sooners. Songs such as “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks and “All I Do Is Win” by DJ Khaled blared over the sound system.

It wasn’t easy for the Cowboys. Though Oklahoma State entered the game ranked second nationally in scoring defense and third in total defense, Williams threw three touchdown passes in the first half.

Oklahoma State linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez, who finished with 11 tackles and two sacks, said the Cowboys remained confident after the shaky start. Williams connected on just 6 of 18 passes for 48 yards in the second half.

“We knew we’re the best defense, so we just knew we’ve just got to go out there and punch and just keep fighting, man,” Rodriguez said. “Just do our thing, relax and just be us.”

Oklahoma State already had clinched a spot in the Big 12 title game, but the stakes remained high. With Baylor’s victory over Texas Tech earlier Saturday, Oklahoma needed a win to reach the conference championship game. Oklahoma State took advantage of the opportunity to eliminate its rival.

For Oklahoma, the loss provided perspective.

“I think for everybody, what this does is it makes you appreciate it,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. “What this program’s been able to do here over the last seven years is pretty amazing, and it makes you appreciate how hard winning is, how hard winning championships are, how hard winning against good football teams on the road – how hard that is.”

The game turned when Oklahoma’s Eric Gray muffed a punt and Oklahoma State recovered at the Oklahoma 5. Jaylen Warren then punched it in from the 1 to give Oklahoma State a 37-33 lead with 8:54 remaining.

Tay Martin had a 30-yard touchdown catch and a 4-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to help Oklahoma State take a 14-7 lead.

Oklahoma tied it when Williams, backpedaling and under pressure, found Austin Stogner for a 29-yard touchdown pass to tie it. Brennan Presley immediately responded with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that put the Cowboys back in front.

Late in the second quarter, Oklahoma’s Woodi Washington intercepted Sanders’ pass and returned it to the Oklahoma State 14. Williams connected with Brayden Willis for a 10-yard score, and the extra point tied it at 24.

Oklahoma opened the second-half scoring in an odd way. Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey hit Oklahoma State’s Dominic Richardson, the ball came loose, and Oklahoma State recovered in the end zone for a safety.

Oklahoma struck again after forcing a three-and-out. Presley muffed the punt, and Justin Broiles recovered in the end zone to give the Sooners a 33-24 lead.

Sanders went 37 yards for a touchdown on an option keep, and Oklahoma State cut Oklahoma’s lead to 33-31 with 13:52 remaining.

The Sooners couldn’t hold on.

“We just have to keep our heads up,” Washington, who intercepted two passes, said. “Of course, we’re going to be sad because we lost the game. We have one game ahead of us. We just have to go out and keep fighting.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Oklahoma: The Sooners’ offense did not score against Oklahoma State’s heralded defense in the second half. Oklahoma’s only points after halftime were on the safety and Broiles’ fumble recovery.

Oklahoma State: The Cowboys did just enough to get through. They made uncharacteristic mistakes, but got a gritty performance from Sanders, who passed for 214 yards and ran for 93.

“Overall, his decision making, his ability to keep his composure and find his way through it around the pass rush and make plays was really good,” Gundy said.

QUOTABLE

Riley, addressing rumors that he will leave to coach at LSU: “I’m not going to be the next coach at LSU. Next question.”

BIG NUMBERS

Oklahoma running back Kennedy Brooks became just the fourth Sooner to post three seasons with at least 1,000 yards rushing. He joined De’Mond Parker, Adrian Peterson and Samaje Perine. He also moved into the top 10 in career yards rushing at Oklahoma. He knocked Greg Pruitt out of the top 10 and now has 3,178 yards in his career. He has 464 yards rushing in three career games against Oklahoma State.

UP NEXT:

Oklahoma: Bowl game.

Oklahoma State: Will play No. 9 Baylor in the Big 12 title game.

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.