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.

Purdue opens Big Ten title preparations without starting QB

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Purdue quarterback Aidan O'Connell returned home with his family following last weekend’s victory at Indiana. He still hasn’t returned to campus.

As the Boilermakers began preparing for their first Big Ten championship game, their starting quarterback and uncontested leader remained in Illinois with his family as they mourned the recent death of O’Connell’s oldest brother, Sean.

“He played his heart out for his teammates and gave us a great effort,” coach Jeff Brohm said, describing O’Connell’s performance days earlier. “Of course, he’s got things he has to deal with this week, but we’ll be there to support him and whenever we get him back to work, we look forward to that.”

O’Connell announced his brother had died in a statement posted on Twitter. The cause of death has not been revealed.

When exactly O’Connell returns to the practice field remains unclear, though Brohm said he believes the sixth-year senior will play when the Boilermakers face No. 2 Michigan (12-0, 9-0, No. 3 CFP).

Nobody in Purdue’s locker room doubts O’Connell will play or play well, regardless of how much he practices.

He went 18 of 29 with 290 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-16 West Division-clinching victory after learning of his brother’s death. Television cameras caught the emotional O’Connell crying into a towel on the sideline after Purdue (8-4, 6-3 Big Ten) sealed what he called a “dream come true” on the Boilermakers’ radio broadcast.

While the Boilermakers certainly would have understood if O’Connell missed the game, that’s not the guy they watched go from No. 8 on the depth chart to the first former walkon to start at the “Cradle of Quarterbacks.”

“He’s a special person. I feel like anyone who knows him knows you don’t get guys like that all the time,” tight end Payne Durham said. “He doesn’t identify as a football player. He’s a man of faith who wants to do things for other people.”

O’Connell didn’t just earn the trust of teammates or coaches with his personality.

They often talk about a relentless work ethic that was evident before, during and after practice when he would make extra throws just so he could compete against the higher touted recruits and the countless hours of film study. And in an era where transfers became the norm, O’Connell stuck around and fought his way up the ladder.

Eventually, his leadership skills caught up to his physical talent and he started surpassing the competitors – some of whom wound up as starting quarterbacks at other FBS schools.

Now, as the established starter, O’Connell is ascending the school’s career passing charts and is on the cusp of becoming just the third Purdue quarterback to win a Big Ten title since 1953. Mike Phipps did it in 1967 and Drew Brees in 2000.

But this week is bigger than football.

As Purdue makes its bid to upend Michigan’s national title hopes and derail the Wolverines’ quest for a second straight Big Ten championship, O’Connell is hurting. The Boilermakers are giving him space and offering help, and even two coaches who played the position, Brohm and coach Jim Harbaugh, have no advice this time.

Instead, O’Connell Will Likely rely on his favorite receiver and childhood teammate, Charlie Jones, to help him through this week. The two grew up just miles apart near the Northwestern campus.

And the Boilermakers know that whenever O’Connell does return to practice, he will be as focused and locked in as ever – even if his heart is broken.

“It’s a very tough time for him and his whole family,” Jones said. “I’ve told him that at the end of the day, it’s just a game and family is more important than anything. So for him to come out and play in a game and play the way he did (last week) after all of that was just amazing. We want him to know we’re here for him.”

Spoilermakers: Purdue stifles No. 21 Minnesota for 20-10 win

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MINNEAPOLIS — Purdue has made a habit of these upsets of Top 25 teams under Jeff Brohm.

Toughing out this win at Minnesota was one of his proudest moments in six years as head coach.

Devin Mockobee rushed for 112 yards and a late touchdown to pad Purdue’s lead, and the Boilermakers’ defense fueled yet another takedown of a ranked opponent in a 20-10 victory over No. 21 Minnesota on Saturday.

“It was a long week. I’m tired,” Brohm said. “Because you’ve got to prepare for these guys. They’re really sound. They normally don’t beat themselves.”

The Gophers made it a little easier on Purdue this time, from the missed tackles early and late to the turnovers in between.

Cam Allen had two of the career-high three interceptions of Tanner Morgan, one in the end zone in the second quarter and another in the closing stretch.

Quarterback Aidan O'Connell returned from a one-game absence for the Boilermakers (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) and bounced back from two first-half interceptions to direct two drives for scores in the final 5 minutes.

“It was obviously frustrating. You never want to be on the sideline. It was hard to watch in practice and in the game last week, but I think it made me realize how much I do love my teammates,” said O’Connell, who went 27 for 40 for 199 yards.

The Spoilermakers is more like it. They beat No. 2 Iowa and No. 3 Michigan State last season and three ranked teams in 2018. This time, they knocked off a Gophers team that outscored its first four opponents 183-24. The only other teams in the FBS that hadn’t trailed entering this week were Georgia and Washington.

“Everything’s still in front of us,” said Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck. “We have to get better. Listen, nobody’s perfect. Even if you have a perfect record, you’re still not perfect.”

With star Mohamed Ibrahim held out after what appeared to be a minor ankle injury in Minnesota’s previous game, the Gophers (4-1, 1-1) were stifled on the ground. After so many shootouts between these teams over the years, defense ruled the day and the Boilermakers got the better of it to stop their four-game losing streak to Minnesota and spoil homecoming for the Gophers.

“There were too many times that push was going backwards, which we’re not used to,” Fleck said.

Bryce Williams, who led the Gophers with 35 yards on 11 rushes, scored on a 1-yard run to tie the game at 10 midway through the third quarter. After averaging 295 rushing yards over the first four games, the Gophers netted just 47 yards on 26 attempts.

“If there ain’t no gap, you can’t run through there, no matter who’s out there,” Boilermakers defensive tackle Branson Deen said.

O’CONNELL RETURNS

The Boilermakers had three turnovers and three three-and-outs over seven straight scoreless possessions until O’Connell found a rhythm on a 70-yard march midway through the fourth quarter that set up Mitchell Fineran’s field goal for a 13-10 lead with 4:57 left.

Charlie Jones, who had 41 catches and seven touchdowns over the first four games to lead the FBS, had six receptions for 55 yards. He caught a 28-yard pass on that drive to set the Boilermakers up to pull ahead. O’Connell was heavily padded, Brohm said, with what was reported as a rib injury.

“He’s a tough kid. He’s just a competitor,” Jones said. “If he was able to go he was going to go.”

SIGN HIM UP

With starter King Doerue out, Dylan Downing had 10 carries for 32 yards and a touchdown. Mockobee, a second-year walk-on delivered the kill shot by rumbling through the Gophers for a 68-yard gain inside the 4-minute mark to set up his score on the next play.

After Purdue lost leads to Penn State with 57 seconds left and to Syracuse with 7 seconds to go, the Boilermakers put this one away.

“We’ve been battle-tested, and I think today it showed that we’re ready for the test,” Deen said.

ROUGH START

Purdue has outscored opponents 47-3 in the first quarter. The Gophers started the game with a three-and-out, a tipped-pass interception near midfield and a failed fourth-and-1 run at their 29.

Morgan, who went 13 for 33 for 257 yards, had an 11-yard pass late in the second quarter bounce off the chest of Michael Brown-Stephens and into Allen’s arms in the end zone.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

After reappearing in the Associated Press Top 25 this week for the first time in nearly two years, the Gophers Will Likely fall out of the rankings.

THE TAKEAWAY

Purdue: There’s no reason to believe the Boilermakers won’t contend for the Big Ten West title, given their strengths, their schedule and the state of the division. When a reporter suggested as much to Brohm, he quipped, “I don’t even know any other scores, so I hope you’re right.”

Minnesota: The only problem with playing so well over the first third of the season was the lack of action in tense situations, particularly for the defense. With the lack of sustained drives by the offense, the defense couldn’t have been fresh down the stretch – and it showed.

UP NEXT

Purdue plays at Maryland next Saturday.

Minnesota has next week off and plays at Illinois on Oct. 15.