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Top five implications? No. 2 Clemson, No. 4 Penn State, No. 5 USC and No. 8 Michigan score victories

CLEMSON, S.C. (UPI) — Clemson scored four fourth-quarter touchdowns to break a 7-7 tie and defeat Boston College 34-7 on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.

The No. 2-ranked Tigers improved to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in Atlantic Coast Conference play.

The Eagles (1-3, 0-2) tied the game on a 1-yard run by freshman running back AJ Dillon with 3:30 left in the third quarter, and it appeared the defending national champions were in for a down-to-the wire battle.

But sparked by junior quarterback Kelly Bryant and freshman running back Travis Etienne, Clemson reeled off 27 unanswered points to defeat the Eagles for a seventh consecutive season.

Both Bryant and Etienne posted the first 100-yard rushing games of their careers. Bryant had 106 yards on 22 carries and scored his sixth and seventh touchdowns of the season. Etienne added 113 yards on nine carries and scored on runs of 50 and 10 yards.

Clemson sophomore running back Tavien Feaster, making the first start of his career, had 73 yards on 20 carries.

Boston College’s Dillon had a career-high 18 carries for 57 yards, but the Eagles’ offense struggled against Clemson’s eighth-ranked defense. Boston College managed only 238 total yards; freshman quarterback Anthony Brown completed 14 of 30 passes for 133 yards.

Despite outgaining the Eagles 222-125 in the first half, Clemson led only 7-0 at the break. The Tigers’ lone score came on a 13-play, 94-yard drive midway through the second quarter that culminated with Bryant’s 11-yard touchdown run, his sixth of the season.

Bryant rushed for 40 yards on the drive and completed both his passing attempts.

Bryant added a 4-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter while running back Adam Choice had a 6-yard touchdown run.

NOTES: Clemson WR Ray-Ray McCloud was held to two receptions for minus-2 yards, one week after a seven-catch, career-high 115 yard game at Louisville. … Clemson WR Hunter Renfrow has nine third-down receptions this season, with seven of them resulting in first downs. … LB Kendall Joseph led Clemson with 12 tackles, including one for loss. … Boston College FS Lukas Denis had 13 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble. … WR Jeff Smith led the Eagles’ receivers with four catches for 58 yards. … RB Jon Hilliman, among the ACC leaders with 203 yards entering the game, managed 33 yards on nine carries.


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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Trace McSorley completed a 7-yard pass to Juwan Johnson on the game’s final play and No. 4 Penn State defeated Iowa 21-19 on Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

In a game that was dominated by the defenses, the teams scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns.

McSorley, who finished 31 of 48 for 284 yards with an interception, drove the Nittany Lions (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) 65 yards in 12 plays in the final 1:42 after the Hawkeyes (3-1, 0-1) took a 19-15 lead in only three plays.

Akrum Wadley put Iowa in great position to pull off the upset when he capped that drive with a 35-yard run. Earlier in the quarter, Wadley and quarterback Nathan Stanley hooked up for a 70-yard touchdown pass.

The Iowa offense, which had been dormant for most of the game, went 74 yards and 80 yards in the fourth quarter.

Penn State’s Saquon Barkley rushed for a career-high 211 yards and one touchdown. He also had 12 receptions for 94 yards.

On the game-winning play, Barkley picked up a blitzing linebacker to give McSorley some extra time to throw the game-winning pass.

The Nittany Lions could have taken an 18-13 lead with 2:28 left in the fourth quarter, but came up empty on a 15-play, 75-yard drive when Anthony Nelson blocked Tyler Davis’ 31-yard field-goal attempt.

On that drive, Penn State leaned on Barkley, who converted a crucial fourth-and 1 with 5:38 left to keep the drive alive.

Three plays later, Barkley took a short pass 15 yards to the Iowa 15.

Barkley’s 8-yard scamper midway through the third period gave the Nittany Lions a little breathing room at 15-7. The key play was a 44-yard run by Penn State’s junior Heisman Trophy candidate, who got to show off his quickness and power dodging tacklers and tiptoeing down the sideline to set up Penn State’s first touchdown

Barkley became the seventh player in Penn State history to reach 3,000 yards.

McSorley atoned for costly errors at the end of the second and third periods. His interception late in the second period led to the Hawkeyes’ first touchdown.

Toward the end of the third period, he was sacked by A.J. Epenesa and fumbled on the Iowa 45. Josey Jewell recovered. The Hawkeyes moved into field-goal territory where the offense stalled. Iowa came up empty as Miguel Recinos’ 36-yard field-goal attempt was blocked by Troy Apke.

The name of the game in the first half was defense.

With temperatures in the low 80s, the Hawkeyes’ defense didn’t wilt despite Penn State’s offense holding a 2-to-1 time of possession advantage.

Even though the Iowa offense was thoroughly outplayed in the first 30 minutes, the Hawkeyes hung around and took a 7-5 lead into halftime.

Penn State held Iowa to 54 total yards and three first downs. The Hawkeyes had only one first down until the 4:34 mark of the second period.

More than a smattering of boos could be heard at Kinnick Stadium as the swarming Nittany Lions defense was in total command.

Penn State’s offense had plenty of chances to open a lead thanks to tremendous field position throughout the first half, but McSorley and Barkley could not take advantage.

Penn State’s offense in the first half ran nearly 30 plays in Iowa territory and had 219 total yards but only three points to show for their effort as the Iowa defense matched the Nittany Lions tackle for tackle.

Penn State downed three punts inside the 10-yard line and the Nittany Lions defense finally took advantage of third punt, which was downed on the 1-yard line.

On a second and eight from their own 3-yard line, Wadley took a pitch from Stanley and was tackled in the end zone by Shareef Miller for a safety and a 5-0 Penn State lead.

After the safety, Penn State took the ball and drove to the Iowa 32-yard line where the Nittany Lions failed to convert on fourth down.

Iowa’s best play was a Colten Rastetter 53-yard punt that backed up the Nittany Lions inside their 6-yard line with less than two minutes left. McSorley moved the Nittany Lions out of danger to their 45-yard, but made a costly mistake throwing an interception with 43 seconds left in the half.

Jewell returned the interception 33 yards to the Penn State 21-yard line. On the first play, and the first play the Hawkeyes ran in Penn State territory, Stanley connected with Nick Easley for a touchdown and a 7-5 Iowa lead.

McSorley was 14 of 25 for 122 yards and one interception in the first half. Barkley ran the ball 10 times for 63 yards.

NOTES: Penn State had scored 30-plus points in 10 straight games. … Nittany Lions QB Trace McSorley has thrown a touchdown in 19 straight games. … Penn State confirmed DE Torrance Brown, who injured his knee in a game against Georgia State, will miss the rest of the season. … The Hawkeyes were averaging 33 points coming into Saturday night. … The Nittany Lions had given up only two touchdowns in their first three games. … Former Iowa LB Chad Greenway served as honorary captain.


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BERKELEY, Calif. — USC took advantage of six California turnovers as the fifth-ranked Trojans broke away from a halftime tie to defeat California 30-20 on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.

While winning its first road game of the season, USC (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) won its 13th straight game dating to last season, and beat Cal (3-1, 0-1) for the 14th consecutive time.

The pivotal play of the game occurred early in the fourth quarter when the ball slipped out the hand of Cal quarterback Ross Bowers as he was throwing a pass from just outside his end zone. The ball was caught in the air as a fumble recovery by USC’s Uchenna Nwosu at the Cal 3-yard line, leading to Stephen Carr’s 2-yard scoring run that gave the Trojans a 23-13 lead.

Ykili Ross intercepted a Bowers pass on Cal’s next possession and returned it 49 yards to the Cal 33, setting up quarterback Sam Darnold’s 4-yard scoring pass to Deontay Burnett that put the Trojans ahead 30-13 with 10:56 left.

Darnold completed 26 of 38 passes for 223 yards and two scores, but he also threw his seventh interception of the season to go along with his nine TD passes. Carr was USC’s leading rusher with 82 yards while Burnett had nine receptions for 76 yards.

Bowers was 22 of 50 for 303 yards and a touchdown, but he threw four interceptions along with the critical fumble. Patrick Laird added 82 yards on the ground for the Bears, and wide receiver Kanawai Noa caught six passes for 110 yards.

USC was without its leading rusher, Ronald Jones II, who averaged 107.3 yards per game over the first three games but was out with an ankle injury. Both teams were missing a starting wide receiver. Cal’s Demetris Robertson missed his second straight game with an unspecified injury, and USC’s Steven Mitchell was out with a groin injury.

Cal missed a chance to jump ahead early in the third quarter. Laird dropped what would have been a 14-yard touchdown pass, and Matt Anderson missed a 29-yard field goal attempt.

The Trojans scored the first points of the second half when Chase McGrath booted a 46-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, giving USC a 16-13 lead. Nwosu then came up with the unusual fumble recovery that pushed the game in the Trojans’ favor.

Cal opened the scoring on Anderson’s 36-yard field goal, which ended a 43-yard drive on its first possession. A Jack Jones interception of a tipped pass gave USC possession at the Cal 38, and resulted in a 37-yard field by goal by McGrath, which tied the game.

Cal took a 10-3 lead on Vic Enwere’s 1-yard fourth-down run, but the Trojans tied the score 10-10 on Darnold’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Petite.

The Trojans took a 13-10 lead on McGrath’s 34-yard field goal, and Cal tied it on Anderson’s 21-yard field goal on the final play of the half.

NOTES: The last time Cal beat USC was 2003, when current Bears head coach Justin Wilcox was Cal’s linebackers coach. … Wilcox was USC’s defensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015, and served under Clay Helton, who was the Trojans’ interim head coach in 2015. Wilcox and three other assistants were fired six days after Helton was named USC’s permanent head coach on Nov. 30, 2015. … Saturday’s contest was the Joe Roth Game, named after the Cal quarterback who led the Bears to a Pac-8 co-championship and a victory over USC in 1975 but died of cancer at the age of 21. Cal wore throwback uniforms that the Bears wore in 1975. … Most of the injured USC defenders who missed all or part of last week’s game were available against Cal. Starting LB Porter Gustin (toe, biceps) did not play, however.


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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Fifth-year senior quarterback John O’Korn, a transfer from Houston, came off the bench during the first quarter when starter Wilton Speight was injured and led No. 8 Michigan to a 28-10, come-from-behind victory against Purdue on Saturday in sold-out Ross-Ade Stadium.

O’Korn, through Michigan’s first three games, had completed his one pass attempt for 37 yards.

After Speight’s head injury with 5:06 left in the opening period, O’Korn led four touchdown drives, completing 18 of 26 passes for 270 yards and one touchdown.

Chris Evans‘ 49-yard touchdown run with 6:46 to play — his second TD of the afternoon — completed a 21-0 Michigan second-half blitz and helped the Wolverines (4-0, 1-0) remain unbeaten. Evans rushed 14 times for 97 yards.

Michigan had stretched its lead to 21-10 with 10:36 remaining on Ty Isaac’s 1-yard run, capping a nine-play, 65-yard drive that included O’Korn completions of 23 and 14 yards that moved the ball to the Boilermakers’ 3-yard line.

The Wolverines seized a 14-10 lead with 2:42 to play in third quarter on Evans’ 10-yard run, completing a methodical 11-play, 86-yard drive that included O’Korn’s 30-yard completion to Sean McKeon to the Purdue 37 and a targeting penalty.

Michigan took a 7-0 lead with 11:34 remaining in the second quarter on O’Korn’s 12-yard pass to tight end Zach Gentry, capping a 13-play, 84-yard drive.

On the ensuing drive — Elijah Sindelar’s first after replacing starting quarterback David Blough — Purdue (2-2, 0-1) drove 75 yards in five plays, pulling even at 7 on Sindelar’s 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brycen Hopkins with 9:45 left in the half.

With 8:15 remaining in the second quarter, Boilermaker safety Navon Mosley intercepted O’Korn at the Wolverines’ 27. J.D. Dellinger’s 29-yard field goal at the 6:04 mark pushed Purdue into a 10-7 halftime lead.

The Boilermakers out-gained the Wolverines 179-131 during the first 30 minutes, including 99 passing yards from Sindelar on 6 of 12 attempts. Blough was 3 of 7 for 11 yards during the four first-half drives he directed.

NOTES: Purdue rushing leader Tario Fuller (43 rushes, 261 yards in three games) did not dress because of an ankle sprain. … Game time temperature was 89 degrees, the warmest in Ross-Ade Stadium since a 2011 game against Middle Tennessee State, when the temperature at kickoff was 90. … The sellout crowd of 60,042 was Purdue’s first home sellout since 63,107 — the pre-renovation capacity — watched the Boilermakers defeat Indiana on Nov. 22, 2008, in former coach Joe Tiller‘s final game at Purdue. … Boilermakers S Jacob Thieneman was ejected for targeting with 4:38 remaining in the third quarter, driving his shoulder pads into the helmet of Michigan receiver Nick Eubanks. … Purdue LB J’Whaun Bentley was ejected for targeting with 11:20 left in the fourth quarter.


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Written by UPI sports writers Jake Curtis and Jeff Washburn on behalf of The Sports Xchange

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Top five implications? No. 2 Clemson, No. 4 Penn State, No. 5 USC and No. 8 Michigan score victories