Arizona Bowl off, Boise State pulls out with COVID-19 issues

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The Arizona Bowl was canceled after Boise State pulled out and shut down all team activities due to COVID-19 issues within the program.

The Broncos were scheduled to play Central Michigan at Arizona Stadium but instead joined numerous college basketball programs that have been hit with coronavirus issues coming out of the Christmas break.

“We feel for the young men in our program who were very much looking forward to closing out their season, and for some, their football careers,” Boise State athletic director Jeramiah Dickey said Monday in a statement. “I would personally like to thank Kym Adair and her team at the Arizona Bowl for putting together a first-class student-athlete and fan experience that we are extremely disappointed to miss.”

Barstool Sports, the sponsor of the Arizona Bowl, tweeted that it made the “difficult decision” to cancel the game, which would have been streamed on its platforms. It becomes the fourth bowl canceled this season after the Hawaii, Fenway and Military bowls.

Central Michigan will instead play Washington State in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, replacing Miami in a game that will be broadcast on CBS.

College basketball also will have a notably lighter schedule this week after the pandemic caused numerous games to get canceled or postponed.

The Atlantic Coast Conference and Big East announced Monday they were scrapping three and four games, respectively, scheduled to take place over the next several days.

That included No. 2 Duke’s game Wednesday night at Clemson. Other ACC matchups that won’t take place as scheduled Wednesday include Florida State at Boston College and Virginia Tech at North Carolina. The Georgia Tech-Syracuse game scheduled for Wednesday was postponed earlier.

UConn’s game against No. 23 Xavier scheduled for Tuesday was scrapped because of COVID-19 issues involving the Huskies.

Illinois also had its game on Wednesday against Florida A&M wiped out because of positive tests within the Illini’s program.

The Big East cited COVID-19 issues within the Georgetown and St. John’s programs in canceling their game scheduled for Saturday. Marquette’s game at St. John’s on Wednesday and Xavier’s Jan. 4 game at Georgetown also have been called off.

Big East officials said they would attempt to reschedule the games in accordance with the conference’s game cancellation policy.

Most major college conferences, including the Big East, Atlantic Coast Conference, Southeastern Conference, Big 12 and Pac-12, have changed their policies recently to say that games that can’t be played because of COVID-19 will be rescheduled – and if they can’t be rescheduled, they’ll be considered a no contest.

The Big Ten said last week it is re-evaluating its forfeiture policy from August, which gives a sick team a loss if they cancel against a healthy team; if both teams have COVID-19 issues and the game can’t be rescheduled, it’s a no contest.

Since Dec. 15, more than 120 men’s college basketball games and 100 women’s games have been canceled or postponed.

The number of people a men’s or women’s basketball team needs for a game ranges from than six scholarship players and a coach in the Big 12 to a minimum of seven in the ACC, Pac-12 and Big East. The SEC requires teams to play if they have seven, while an ACC team can choose not to play even if they have the minimum number of players, though it would be a forfeit.

It wasn’t just on the men’s side that the Big East had to cancel games. Four women’s games were wiped out over the next week as well, with Providence losing its contests at Xavier and Butler. Georgetown lost games against St. John’s and Seton Hall.

Other women’s games canceled this week include No. 21 Iowa’s scheduled Thursday game at Penn State, which was called off due to positive COVID-19 tests within Penn State’s program. Fourth-ranked Arizona also saw both its games scheduled for this weekend get wiped out because of COVID-19 issues at Southern Cal and UCLA.

Arizona had been dealing with its own coronavirus problems and hasn’t played since Dec. 17.

No. 2 Stanford and sixth-ranked Maryland also had games canceled this week, with the Cardinal’s contest on Friday against Washington postponed and the Terrapins’ game at Illinois on Thursday wiped out.

No. 2 Michigan beats Purdue 43-22 for Big Ten crown

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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.