College football: Notre Dame routs Wisconsin; Clemson loses at N.C. State

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, left, and his family celebrate a 41-13 win over Wisconsin on Sept. 25, 2021, in Chicago.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, left, and his family celebrate the Irish’s 41-13 win over Wisconsin. With victory No. 106 at Notre Dame, Kelly surpassed the legendary Knute Rockne.
(Charles Rex Arbogast/ Associated Press)

To win more games than any coach in the storied history of Notre Dame football, Brian Kelly has needed to be adaptable.

Maybe never more than the first month of this season. The Fighting Irish have used three quarterbacks and four left tackles, moved away from their run-first mentality, and added new wrinkles on defense to head into October unbeaten.

Chris Tyree returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown and Drew Pyne threw a fourth-quarter touchdown pass in relief of an injured Jack Coan, helping No. 12 Notre Dame pull away from No. 18 Wisconsin 41-13 on Saturday at Soldier Field in Chicago.


The Fighting Irish (4-0) have shown plenty of vulnerabilities as they retooled a team that went to the College Football Playoff last season. But they keep winning.

Despite a painful right shoulder injury, UCLA quarterback Dorian Robinson-Thompson delivered key passes to hold off a Stanford rally during a 35-24 Bruins road win Saturday.

“We got a long way to go still, but they’re getting better each week,“ Kelly said. “I’m having fun coaching them. They’re not perfect by any means, but they’re going to be better in November.”

With victory No. 106 in 12 seasons at Notre Dame, Kelly (106-39) surpassed the legendary Knute Rockne (105-12-5).

“Last year, we were a veteran team. We hunkered down. We put three tight ends on the field. This is what we were and kind of lived with it,“ Kelly said. “This is, like, we’re trying to figure it out as we go.“

Notre Dame wide receiver Kevin Austin Jr. celebrates his touchdown reception Sept. 25, 2021.
Fighting Irish wide receiver Kevin Austin Jr. celebrates his 16-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.
(Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

Graham Mertz threw four interceptions for Wisconsin (1-2), including two that were returned for touchdowns in the final 2:30 to blow the game open. Notre Dame scored the final 31 points, and the Badgers lost their seventh straight to a ranked team.

Running back Chez Mellusi called the collapse “embarrassing.”

Coan, a Wisconsin transfer, left because of a left leg injury in the third quarter with the score tied at 10. Kelly said it was a soft-tissue injury and it didn’t appear to be a severe ankle sprain.

“Jack Coan is our starter,” Kelly said. “If he’s physically able, he’ll be our starter against Cincinnati.”

Notre Dame had used freshman Tyler Buchner as a mobile complement to Coan the last two games, but he was dealing with a sore hamstring. So it was Pyne’s turn to step up.

USC can’t build off its win over Washington State last week. The Trojans were run over by Oregon State in the first Beavers’ win at the L.A. Coliseum since 1960.

Pyne lost a fumble on his second possession, leading to a field goal by the Badgers, but otherwise the redshirt freshman was solid, going six for eight for 81 yards.

Coan played 22 games for Wisconsin over three seasons and was the starter for the 2019 team that reached the Big Ten championship game. He broke his foot in the run-up to the abbreviated Big Ten season last year, and Mertz claimed the starting job.

A highly rated 2019 recruit, Mertz had some ups and downs in 2020, but Coan could see where things were headed and transferred to Notre Dame.

Notre Dame linebacker Drew White returns an interception for a touchdown against Wisconsin on Sept. 25, 2021.
Notre Dame linebacker Drew White returns an interception 45 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown.
(Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

He has been a solid fit playing behind a struggling offensive line. Coan completed 15 of 29 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown, and he was sacked five times by his former team.

Mertz threw his first touchdown pass of the season but was otherwise ineffective, going 18 for 41 for 240 yards. The sophomore isn’t Wisconsin’s only problem on offense, but he is most definitely one of them.

Badgers coach Paul Chryst said he needs to call better plays to put his quarterback in position to succeed.

“We know that we’re inconsistent, that it’s a struggle, and the best way to approach that is to own our part in it and then together we can try to fix it,” Chryst said.

at North Carolina State 27, No. 9 Clemson 21 (2OT)

North Carolina State's Cory Durden sacks Clemson's D.J. Uiagalelei on Sept. 25, 2021.
North Carolina State’s Cory Durden (48) sacks Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei.
(Karl B DeBlaker / Associated Press)

The Wolfpack (3-1, 1-0) forced D.J. Uiagalelei into a fourth-down incompletion in the second overtime to beat the Tigers (2-2, 1-1), an outcome that shakes up the Atlantic Coast Conference race and deals a huge blow to Clemson’s College Football Playoff hopes.

Uiagagelei, a former Bellflower St. John Bosco standout, slightly overthrew Justyn Ross near the goal line on fourth down to end this one, sending North Carolina State players sprinting in from the sideline followed immediately by red-clad fans pouring onto the field to celebrate the Wolfpack’s first win in the series in a decade.

Devin Leary threw for four touchdowns, including the winning 22-yard pass to Devin Carter — who made a twisting adjustment to the back-shoulder throw and got both knees down inside the back right corner of the end zone for the lead to start the second overtime.

N.C. State controlled play most of the way, nearly doubling Clemson in total offense through regulation while converting more than half of its third-down chances to stay on the field. The Wolfpack also won despite a penalty filled day and three missed field goals from normally reliable kicker Christopher Dunn, including him pulling a 39-yarder to end regulation wide left and give the Tigers another shot.

It was a brutal day for the Tigers, who now have a second loss to make it an unlikely climb to extend their streak of making every year of the playoff. It also is a big setback in the Atlantic Division for the six-time league champions, while injuries mounted with linebacker James Skalski, defensive tackle Bryan Bresee and running back Will Shipley being knocked from the game.

Uiagagelei finished 12-for-26 passing for 111 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. He ran nine times for 63 yards.

N.C. State players, right, celebrate the win over Clemson on Sept. 25, 2021.
N.C. State players, right, celebrate the win over Clemson.
(Karl B DeBlaker / Associated Press)

at No. 1 Alabama 63, Southern Mississippi 14

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young jogs off the field after a win against Southern Mississippi on Sept. 25, 2021.
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young jogs off the field after a win over Southern Mississippi.
(Vasha Hunt / Associated Press)

Jameson Williams opened the game with a 100-yard kickoff return, then added an 81-yard touchdown catch and another 83-yard runback as the Crimson Tide (4-0) routed the Golden Eagles (1-3).

Williams and Alabama needed just 14 seconds to put to rest any worries of a letdown against Southern Miss after a close win over No. 11 Florida and with No. 13 Mississippi on deck. Bryce Young, a former Santa Ana Mater Dei standout, was nearly flawless in throwing for five touchdowns while completing 20 of 22 passes for 313 yards.

It was business as usual for Alabama, which earned win No. 100 in a row over unranked opponents and plenty of playing time for the backups. Just add in a trio of huge plays from the speedster Williams.

Roydell Williams ran for 110 yards and Jase McClellan gained 97, plus a nine-yard touchdown catch. Jahleel Billingley caught five passes for 105 yards and a score.

No. 2 Georgia 62, at Vanderbilt 0

Georgia quarterback JT Daniels, who played just one quarter, looks over the Vanderbilt defense.
(John Amis / Associated Press)

JT Daniels threw for 121 yards and two touchdowns while playing only the first quarter, and the Bulldogs (4-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) earned their biggest win over the Commodores (1-3, 0-1) in a series that started in 1893.

The game was effectively over when Georgia led 35-0 after the first quarter. The Bulldogs started three of four drives in Vanderbilt territory. They recovered a fumble on a kickoff to set up one touchdown, then Christopher Smith intercepted a pass to set up a second touchdown less than 30 seconds later.

Georgia nearly had more points than Vanderbilt managed yards, outgaining the Commodores 524-77. Vanderbilt lost its 14th straight SEC game.

at No. 3 Oregon 41, Arizona 19

Oregon cornerback Mykael Wright (2) celebrates his interception Sept. 25, 2021.
Oregon cornerback Mykael Wright (2) reacts after an interception.
(Andy Nelson / Associated Press)

Anthony Brown threw for 206 yards and three touchdowns, and the Ducks (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) handed the Wildcats (0-4, 0-1) their 16th consecutive loss.

Oregon extended its winning streak at Autzen Stadium to 15 games. The Ducks are the lone undefeated team left in the Pac-12.

Despite being winless this season, the Wildcats closed to within 24-19 late in the third quarter on Drake Anderson’s one-yard touchdown run.

Oregon extended its lead with Camden Lewis’ 43-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, then added Brown’s 18-yard scoring pass to Spencer Webb to make it 34-19 with 8:26 left.

The Ducks put it away on Bennett Williams’ 68-yard interception return for a touchdown on Arizona’s ensuing series.

at No. 4 Oklahoma 16, West Virginia 13

Gabe Brkic’s 30-yard field goal as time expired lifted the Sooners (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) over the Mountaineers (2-2, 0-1).

Oklahoma started its final possession at its eight-yard line with 3:39 remaining. Quarterback Spencer Rattler completed all six of his passes for 54 yards on the final drive to get the Sooners into scoring range. The final drive was 14 plays and 80 yards.

Rattler passed for 256 yards and a touchdown. Mike Woods caught eight passes for 86 yards for the Sooners, who won their third game by seven or fewer points this season.

West Virginia, coming off a 27-21 win over then-No. 15 Virginia Tech, was held to 226 total yards.

at No. 5 Iowa 24, Colorado State 14

Spencer Petras threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns, and the Hawkeyes (4-0) needed a second-half comeback to defeat the Rams (1-3).

Iowa won its 10th consecutive game, the program’s longest streak since winning 12 games to open the 2015 season. The Hawkeyes also have a 15-game nonconference winning streak, the longest current streak in the nation.

Colorado State led 14-7 at halftime, but Iowa scored touchdowns on back-to-back possessions that took a combined four plays in the third quarter.

A fumble recovery by Hawkeyes linebacker Jack Campbell at the Rams’ six-yard line set up a touchdown run by wide receiver Tyrone Tracy Jr. on the next play that tied the score. Petras threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to tight end Sam LaPorta on the next possession to give Iowa a 21-14 lead.

at No. 6 Penn State 38, Villanova 17

Sean Clifford passed for four touchdowns and a career-high 401 yards as the Nittany Lions (4-0) showcased their speed against the Wildcats (3-1), their in-state Football Championship Subdivision opponent.

Clifford completed 19 of 26 passes, finding Parker Washington for two touchdowns and Jahan Dotson and KeAndre Lambert-Smith for one apiece. Tyler Warren rushed for a touchdown and Jordan Stout kicked a field goal for Penn State, which earned its eighth consecutive win.

No. 16 Arkansas 20, No. 7 Texas A&M 10

Arkansas running back AJ Green scores a touchdown in the first half Sept. 25, 2021.
Arkansas running back AJ Green scores on a 48-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.
(Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press)

KJ Jefferson threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns before getting banged up to start the second half, and the Razorbacks (4-0, 1-0) held on for a win over the Aggies (3-1, 0-1) in Arlington, Texas, the first in the series for Arkansas in the teams’ 10 seasons as SEC foes.

Texas A&M also saw its overall 11-game winning streak end.

Jefferson came up limping and favoring his left leg after getting tackled out of bounds to start the second half, and he left a few plays later. But he did return to the game late and was on the field to take the final kneel-down in the SEC opener to cap Arkansas’ first 4-0 start since 2003.

The Aggies hadn’t allowed a passing touchdown this season until Jefferson’s 85-yard score to Treylon Burks, who pushed by a defender and made the catch near the 40. Burks appeared to stumble but stayed upright and sprinted down the right sideline for 10-0 lead late in the first quarter.

Arkansas leads 42-33-1 overall in the series that dates back to 1903 and includes their time as longtime Southwest Conference rivals. But Texas A&M had won all nine meetings since joining the SEC in 2012, 20 years after the Razorbacks debuted in the league.

at No. 10 Ohio State 59, Akron 7

True freshman quarterback Kyle McCord overcame early jitters to throw for 319 yards and two touchdowns, freshman TreVeyon Henderson ran for 93 yards and two scores in the first half, and the Buckeyes (3-1) routed the Zips (1-4).

McCord got the nod in place of C.J. Stroud, a freshman who started the first three games but has a sore shoulder and got a breather against the seven-touchdown underdog. McCord was 13 for 18.

Master Teague III rushed for two second-half touchdowns and Evan Pryor added another one late for Ohio State.

at No. 11 Florida 38, Tennessee 14

Emory Jones had two touchdown passes to go with a career-high 144 yards rushing, extending Florida’s nearly two decades of dominance in the series.

The Gators (3-1, 1-1 SEC) won their fifth straight over the Volunteers (2-2, 0-1) and 16th in 17 years in a series that used to go a long way toward deciding the Eastern Division.

Florida bounced back from a gut-wrenching loss against top-ranked Alabama in the Swamp a week ago and scored on consecutive drives in the third quarter to turn a three-point game into comfortable lead.

Jones completed 21 of 27 passes for 209 yards on the night and ran 15 times, with a long of 49 yards. He became Florida’s first quarterback to top 200 yards passing and 100 yards rushing since Tim Tebow in 2009 against Florida State.

at Baylor 31, No. 14 Iowa State 29

Baylor quarterback Gerry Bohanon (11) runs in for a touchdown against Iowa State on Sept. 25, 2021.
Baylor quarterback Gerry Bohanon runs for a touchdown against Iowa State.
(Jim Cowsert / Associated Press)

Gerry Bohanon threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, and the Bears (4-0, 2-0) stopped a two-point try with 24 seconds left to beat the Cyclones (2-2, 0-1).

Breece Hall rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns in 24 carries for Iowa State and caught five passes for 51 yards, including a 16-yard score in the final minute that was followed by a failed two-point attempt.

Baylor recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock for their first win over a ranked opponent since it beat North Carolina in the 2015 Russell Athletic Bowl.

Iowa State’s Brock Purdy was 22 for 33 for 263 yards and a touchdown. He was also intercepted once, stopping a drive at the Baylor 22-yard line with 11:55 left in the game.

at No. 15 Brigham Young 35, South Florida 27

Baylor Romney threw for a career-high 305 yards and three touchdowns, and the Cougars (4-0) defeated the Bulls (1-3) for their sixth straight win dating to last season.

Tyler Allgeier ran for 81 yards and a pair of touchdowns for BYU. Gunner Romney and Puka Nacua each finished with more than 100 yards receiving, combining for 221 yards and a touchdown in nine catches.

Timmy McClain threw for 186 yards and ran for 55 yards to lead South Florida.

at No. 17 Coastal Carolina 53, Massachusetts 3

Grayson McCall threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third as the Chanticleers (4-0) sent the Minutemen (0-4) to their 15th consecutive loss.

Coastal Carolina, which scored on eight of nine possessions, has started 4-0 for the second straight season and has won 15 of 16 games over two years. UMass, a Football Bowl Subdivision independent, hasn’t won since topping Akron 37-28 in September 2019.

A Title IX investigation into the USC Song Girls program found former coach Lori Nelson violated university policies when she harassed and retaliated against spirit squad members.

at No. 19 Michigan 20, Rutgers 13

Hassan Haskins ran for touchdowns the first two times the undefeated Wolverines (4-0, 1-0) had the ball as they opened Big Ten play with a victory over the Scarlet Knights (3-1, 0-1).

Michigan entered the game averaging 350.3 yards rushing to lead the nation and was held to 112 yards on the ground. Blake Corum was limited to 68 yards — half his average — in 21 attempts, and Haskins ran for just 41 yards in 12 carries. Cade McNamara was nine for 16 for 163 yards passing for the Wolverines.

Rutgers rallied from a 17-point, third-quarter deficit to pull within seven early in the fourth quarter, but Valentino Ambrosio missed a short field-goal try and on the Scarlet Knights’ next possession they turned it over on downs.

Rutgers’ Noah Vedral was 18 for 31 for 156 yards with a touchdown pass to Aaron Young in the third quarter.

at No. 20 Michigan State 23, Nebraska 20 (OT)

Chester Kimbrough intercepted Adrian Martinez’s pass in overtime and Matt Coghlin made a 21-yard field goal to keep the Spartans (4-0, 2-0 Big Ten) unbeaten with a win over the Cornhuskers (2-3, 0-2).

Michigan State won despite not recording a first down in the second half. The Spartans’ special teams came up big late in regulation. Jayden Reed returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown with 3:47 left in regulation to tie it 20.

Payton Thorne completed just two passes in the second half, and Kenneth Walker III, who entered the game as the nation’s leading rusher, was bottled up, finishing with 61 yards in 19 carries and setting up the winning field goal with a 23-yard run, his longest of the game, on Michigan State’s first play in overtime.

This was Nebraska’s 14th straight loss to a ranked team. Martinez was 24 for 34 for 248 yards. He rushed for two touchdowns.

at Georgia Tech 45, No. 21 North Carolina 22

Georgia Tech players celebrate after defeating North Carolina on Sept. 25, 2021, in Atlanta.
Georgia Tech players celebrate an upset victory over North Carolina.
(John Bazemore / Associated Press)

Jeff Sims came off the bench to run for three touchdowns and pass for another, Georgia Tech’s defense stifled Sam Howell much of the game, and the Yellow Jackets (2-2, 1-1 ACC) beat a ranked team for the first time in Geoff Collins’ three seasons as coach.

Playing for the first time since he was injured in a season-opening loss to Northern Illinois, Sims replaced Jordan Yates late in the second quarter and ran for touchdowns of 11 and one yards that put Georgia Tech in control.

Sims ran for 128 yards in 10 carries and completed 10 of 13 passes for 112 yards for Georgia Tech.

The Tar Heels (2-2, 1-2) are shaping up as one of the nation’s most disappointing teams after coming into the season ranked in the top 10. Sam Howell was sacked eight times and fumbled twice, leading to 10 points for the the Yellow Jackets in the first half.

Howell completed 25 of 39 for 306 yards and two touchdowns. He also scored the game’s first touchdown on a 23-yard run.

at No. 23 Auburn 34, Georgia State 24

Shedrick Jackson caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from T.J. Finley with 45 seconds remaining, and the Tigers (3-1) rallied to beat the Panthers (1-3).

Auburn trailed Georgia State by 12 points at halftime and avoided losing to a Sun Belt team for the first time in program history.

Finley, a Louisiana State transfer who replaced starting quarterback Bo Nix late in the third quarter, led Auburn on a 98-yard scoring drive in the final minutes. Safety Smoke Monday sealed the victory, returning an interception 36 yards for a score on the second play of the ensuing drive.

at Oklahoma State 31, No. 25 Kansas State 20

Spencer Sanders completed 22 of 34 passes for 344 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Cowboys (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) to a victory over the Wildcats (3-1, 0-1).

Jaylen Warren rushed for 123 yards in 27 carries and added 81 yards on four receptions for Oklahoma State. Sanders also scored a rushing touchdown, and Oklahoma State’s defense stifled Kansas State’s potential comeback attempt.

The Cowboys failed to score in the second half for the second consecutive game.

Deuce Vaughn, who entered the game leading the Big 12 and ranked eighth in the nation with 371 rushing yards, gained just 22 yards in 13 carries for the Wildcats. He did have 73 yards and a touchdown in five receptions.

at Washington 31, California 24 (OT)

Washington players and coaches celebrate beating California on Sept. 25, 2021.
Washington players and coaches celebrate a win over California in overtime.
(Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

Sean McGrew scored his second touchdown of the game in overtime, Washington’s defense forced California’s Damien Moore to fumble at the one-yard line, and the Huskies (2-2, 1-0 Pac-12) escaped with a win over the Golden Bears (1-3, 0-1).

The Pac-12 Conference opener ended after Washington linebacker Jackson Sirmon and defensive back Cameron Williams converged on Moore before he reached goal line. Moore was hit hard, the ball popped free, and Ryan Bowman pounced on the loose ball, setting off a wild celebration that was briefly muted while the fumble was confirmed by video replay.

The 100th matchup between the schools was another wild conclusion to a series that has recently featured close games.

at Arizona State 35, Colorado 13

Jayden Daniels threw for 236 yards and ran for two touchdowns, Rachaad White added rushing and receiving touchdowns, and the Sun Devils (3-1, 1-0) beat the Buffaloes (1-3, 0-1) in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.

Arizona State bounced back from last week’s loss to BYU that caused the program to drop out of the AP top 25. The Sun Devils never trailed, controlling the flow of the game with steady offense and solid defense.

at Utah 24, Washington State 13

TJ Pledger rushed for 177 yards and the go-ahead touchdown, and the Utes (2-2, 1-0 Pac-12) came from behind to beat the Cougars (1-3, 0-2) in Utah’s conference opener.

Pledger, a transfer from Oklahoma who only had 11 yards rushing coming into the game, ran 20 yards for a touchdown with 4:53 to play. Then Clark Phillips took an interception 54 yards for a score to clinch it with 2:19 remaining.

Washington State forced seven fumbles, recovering three. Jarrett Guarantano went 25-for-36 passing for 248 yards but struggled to move the Cougars’ offense in the second half.