Sugar Bowl matches No. 6 Baylor vs. No. 8 Mississippi

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

NEW ORLEANS- Big 12 champion Baylor and No. 8 Mississippi, which finished second behind Alabama in the SEC West, will conclude their seasons against one another in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day.

“It’s a good contrast in styles,” Baylor coach Dave Aranda, who oversees the Bears’ defense, said of Ole Miss and its offensive-minded coach, Lane Kiffin. “We’re obviously looking forward to that challenge,”

No. 6 Baylor (11-2, 7-2 Big 12, CFP No. 7) on Saturday held off Oklahoma State, literally by inches, for a 21-16 victory when Bears safety Jairon McVea knocked Dezmon Jackson out of bounds just short of reaching the pylon with 24 seconds on a fourth-down play in the final minute.

Ole Miss (10-2, 6-2, CFP No. 9) concluded its regular season with a 31-21 victory over Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving night for its first 10-win regular season in program history. Now Mississippi will return to the Sugar Bowl for the second time in six years after not previously appearing the game since a 27-23 Archie Manning-led victory over No. 3 ranked Arkansas on New Year’s Day, 1970.

Following the 2015 season, Ole Miss rolled to a 48-20 Sugar Bowl triumph over Oklahoma State.

“Awesome opportunity to play a great program in Baylor, one that’s extremely well coached,” Kiffin said. “This will be an awesome matchup.”

Baylor is making its third all-time appearance in the Sugar Bowl but also the second time in three seasons. The Bears lost to Georgia 26-14 in what was then-Baylor coach Matt Rhule‘s last game before he left for the Carolina Panthers of the NFL.

This time, the Bears’ opponent features a coach in Kiffin that designed and called an offense that led the SEC in yards per game with 506.7.

“Their ability to make mismatches and create positive plays for them and really negate negative ones, I think, is a big strength,” Aranda said.

While top college upperclassmen sometimes opt out of bowl games to prepare for the NFL, Mississippi quarterback Matt Corral said recently that he intended to close out his career in the Rebels’ bowl game.

Corral, a dual-threat QB who seems to embrace contact while running the ball and sometimes flattens defenders, had 3,339 yards and 20 TDs passing to go with 596 yards and 11 TDs rushing this season.

“He’s a special kid,” Kiffin said, recalling how he “almost got emotional” watching Corral celebrate with band and fans after the Egg Bowl.

“Had to remind myself, got one more with him,” Kiffin recalled. “He’s just such a great leader and such a great kid. Just really proud of him – and glad to be his coach.”

Under current agreements, the Sugar Bowl hosts the best SEC and Big 12 teams that are not in the four-team College Football Playoff, unless the Sugar Bowl hosts a CFP semifinal game. This season, no Big 12 team was selected for the playoff, while two SEC teams – No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia – both made it into the semifinals.

Sugar Bowl CEO Jeff Hundley hailed the match-up of Top 10 teams.

“Both teams have excelled behind the leadership of second-year coaches, who have lifted their programs to great heights,” Hundley said, referring to Mississippi’s Lane Kiffin and Baylor’s Dave Aranda. “We’ve had each of these teams in recent years and know first-hand about the passion of their outstanding fan bases.”

This will just be the second all-time meeting between Baylor and Ole Miss, who last faced each other on September 6, 1975, when the Bears beat the visiting Rebels, 20-10.

Current SEC members are 37-43-1 all-time in the Sugar Bowl. Current Big 12 members are 14-9.

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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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.


Clemson will play in the Orange Bowl, while North Carolina awaits a bowl bid.