Shrader’s late TD pass lifts Syracuse past Purdue 32-29

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Garrett Shrader connected with Oronde Gadsden II on a 25-yard touchdown with seven seconds left to lift Syracuse to a 32-29 win over Purdue on Saturday.

“They threw a corner route, completed it in the corner against man-to-man coverage. It was in the end zone and they scored on it,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. “They did a good job of executing.”

That touchdown capped a wild fourth quarter of dramatic lead changes. Syracuse led 10-9 after three quarters and outscored the Boilermakers 22-20 in the final period. The Orange improved to 3-0, its best start since 2018. Purdue fell to 1-2.

“This is a spiritual-type game here,” said Syracuse coach Dino Babers, who compared the end of the game to a rollercoaster ride. “To win a game like that, to have the scoreboard go back and forth from the third quarter to the fourth quarter, through the highs and lows. . there were turns, there were deep valleys and then there were big climbs.”

Aidan O'Connell‘s 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Payne Durham with 51 seconds left in the game gave the Boilermakers a 29-25 advantage and seemed to seal it for Purdue.

O’Connell, who completed 38 of 54 passes for 415 yards and three touchdowns in the game, threw for two fourth quarter scores to rescue the Boilermakers from a 10-point deficit.

But before those O’Connell heroics, Syracuse scored two touchdowns within nine seconds and led 25-15 midway through the fourth quarter.

A scrambling 46-yard touchdown pass from Shrader to Gadsden on a fourth-and-one play gave Syracuse an 18-15 advantage after Shrader ran for a 2-point conversion. That touchdown happened with 8:17 left in the game.

On Purdue’s next possession, SU’s Jatius Geer wrapped up O’Connell as the Purdue QB attempted a pass. The ball wobbled into the hands of Orange defensive end Caleb Okechukwu, who trotted 17 yards into the end zone.

“Just trying to get back there,” said Okechukwu, who believed Geer would sack O’Connell. “He threw the ball and I just caught it and scored.”

Syracuse led 25-15 at that point, but O’Connell hooked up with favorite receiver Charlie Jones for a 55-yard touchdown that moved the Boilermakers within 25-22 with 6:41 left. A missed 41-yard field goal by Mitchell Fineran with 2:54 left could have tied it.

The teams had met only once before, when in 2004 Purdue beat the Orange 51-0 at Ross-Ade Stadium.

THE TAKEAWAY

Purdue: The Boilermakers were without running back King Doerue, who is nursing a calf injury. Doerue rushed for 68 yards on 18 attempts with three touchdowns in Purdue’s first two games. Without him, the Boilermakers struggled to get much going on the ground, but typically got plenty in the air from O’Connell. The Purdue quarterback had lots of time in the first half and threw for 175 yards on 21 of 27 attempts. Syracuse applied more pressure on him in the second half, but O’Connell still managed to successfully throw deep. Jones, a transfer from Iowa, caught 11 passes for 188 yards, both career highs.

Syracuse: Shrader had been one of the nation’s most accurate passers through his first two games this season (38-48, .792), but Purdue put sustained pressure early on him, forcing Shrader to scramble and mostly abandon an air attack. He completed 4 of 10 passes for just 35 yards in the first half. He was much more effective in the second half, completing 9 of 19 passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns. Purdue locked up SU running back Sean Tucker, who rushed 18 times for 42 yards after starting the season with a pair of 100-yard games.

UP NEXT

Purdue hosts Florida Atlantic on Saturday night.

Syracuse continues a four-game homestand when ACC foe Virginia visits on Friday night.

Pac-12 looking stronger at top after early-season losses

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
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When Oregon got throttled by top-ranked Georgia and Utah lost at Florida, it appeared as though the Pac-12 was headed toward another College Football Playoff miss.

One week into the season and two of the conference’s top teams had already failed big early tests.

Flash forward three weeks and it seems the Pac-12 might be in good shape after all.

The Ducks and Utes bounced back with big wins and the top of the conference looks strong, with four teams in the top 15 for the first time since 2016.

It’s still early, but the Pac-12 is putting itself in position to get a team through to the CFP for the first time since Washington in 2016-17.

A look at how the top of the Pac-12 is stacking up headed into the first weekend of October:

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

The No. 6 Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) seem to have quickly returned to glory in their first season under Lincoln Riley. The former Oklahoma coach brought quarterback Caleb Williams with him to Southern California and they have thrived through the first four games.

Williams has thrown for 1,054 yards and nine touchdowns, adding 100 yards and two more scores rushing. USC’s defense has been opportunistic, leading the nation with 11 interceptions while tied for the lead with 14 takeaways.

The Trojans survived a scare against scrappy Oregon State over the weekend to start 4-0 for the first time since 2012. USC has to play at Utah on Oct. 15, but avoids Washington and Oregon this season.

UTAH

The 12th-ranked Utes opened the season with a tough road loss at The Swamp in Florida, but have won three straight lopsided games.

Outside of a costly interception late against the Gators, quarterback Cam Rising has been sharp, throwing for 954 yards and 10 TDs. Utah (3-1, 1-0) has a physical defense and is third in the FBS, allowing 132.8 yards passing per game.

The Utes also have a veteran team that won the Pac-12 championship last season. The bad news: tight end Brant Kuithe, their leading receiver, is out for the season with a knee injury.

Utah plays Oregon State this weekend and has tough games against USC and Oregon still on the schedule.

OREGON

The Ducks’ playoff chances took an immediate hit with a 49-3 loss to reigning national champion Georgia in their opener.

No. 13 Oregon (3-1, 1-0) bounced back with a decisive win over a good BYU team and outlasted previously undefeated Washington State 44-41 last week.

The Ducks were no match for the Bulldogs in any aspect – few teams are – but have averaged 51.6 points the past three games. Oregon’s biggest weakness is its pass defense. The Ducks are allowing 72.5% of passes to be completed, third worst in the country.

Oregon’s biggest tests left in the season will come in back to back games against Washington and Utah.

WASHINGTON

The Huskies have made a quick turnaround in their first season under coach Kalen DeBoer.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been superb now that he’s healthy, throwing for an FBS-best 1,388 yards and 12 TDs with one interception. No. 15 Washington (4-0, 1-0) picked up a solid home win against Michigan State and has 15 sacks this season, including eight against Stanford last week.

The Huskies play their first road game at undefeated UCLA on Saturday and have to face Oregon on Nov. 12.

UCLA

After winning at Colorado for the first time since 2014 last Saturday, the Bruins (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) have their longest winning streak since winning the first eight games in 2005.

UCLA had a hard time getting past South Alabama and opened its Pac-12 schedule with a win against the struggling Buffaloes.

The Bruins will find out how good they are over the next three weeks, a brutal stretch that includes home games against Washington and Utah before heading to Eugene to play the Ducks on Oct. 22.

CFP expansion talks head toward October after 7-hour meeting

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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ROSEMONT, Ill. — The conference commissioners who manage the College Football Playoff met for almost seven hours Tuesday to work on expanding the postseason system from four to 12 teams as soon as the 2024 season.

There is still much work to be done.

“We will not wrap up this week,” CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock said.

The CFP management committee, comprised of 10 conference commissioners and Notre Dame’s athletic director, is scheduled to convene again at the Big Ten offices for a few hours Wednesday morning. They are set to meet again in person in Dallas on Oct. 20.

“That’ll be important,” Hancock said.

Expansion talks were revived by the university presidents and chancellors who oversee the College Football Playoff last month.

By adopting a 12-team plan that had been on the table since the spring of 2021, the presidents pushed the commissioners to try to implement a new format before the end of the CFP’s current contract with ESPN. That deal ends after the 2025 season.

Expanding from four to 12 in 2024 and ’25 will require rescheduling semifinals and championship games that already have dates and sites set, plus adding four new first-round games in mid-December to be played on campus sites.

Squeezing it all into about a month and working around the NFL for television will be challenging.

Hancock said the idea of moving up the start of the college football season to the week before Labor Day to create more room at the end for the playoff has been discussed, but more for beyond the 2025 season.

“I think most people view that as a future item. As long-term item and not an immediacy item,” Hancock said. “Remember, there’s so many details.”

Hancock said CFP officials have spoken to bowl partners and hosts cities that are set to hold semifinals and championship games after the 2024 and ’25 seasons, but they have not been presented definitive new dates.

Atlanta already has been chosen as the host city for the championship game to be played following the 2024 season, on Jan. 6, 2025. The game would have to be pushed back about two weeks if the playoff grows from four teams to 12.

“(Atlanta organizers) have some work to do because of other businesses in the community,” Hancock said. “Other meeting-type business, hotel business and Convention Center business there. They’ve been great to work with.”