NCAA

No. 13 Minnesota tops No. 5 PSU 31-26 in match of unbeatens

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No. 13 Minnesota tops No. 5 PSU 31-26 in match of unbeatens

MINNEAPOLIS --

Minnesota's Jordan Howden picked off Sean Clifford in the end zone with 1:01 left, the third interception was thrown by Penn State's quarterback, and the 13th-ranked Gophers held on for a 31-26 victory on Saturday afternoon over the fifth-ranked Nittany Lions for their first win over a top-five team in 20 years.

Tanner Morgan passed for 339 yards and three touchdowns to direct dismantling of Penn State's staunch defense, as Minnesota (9-0, 6-0, No. 17 CFP) not only remained undefeated but stayed on track for its first trip to the Big Ten championship game.

The first sellout crowd for the Gophers at home in four years swarmed the field after the clock ran out, reveling in the biggest step forward yet under coach P.J. Fleck in his third season. The Gophers scrambled the College Football Playoff picture, too, after Penn State (8-1, 5-1, No. 4 CFP) emerged with a top-four spot in the first edition of the rankings.

Rashod Bateman got the Gophers going with a 66-yard score on their first possession and finished with seven catches for 203 yards, the second-most in program history. Tyler Johnson had seven receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown, too, as Minnesota made enough early gains to hold up during the late rally by Penn State.

Journey Brown's second rushing touchdown of the game with 3:49 to go cut the lead to five points and the Gophers promptly went three and out. K.J. Hamler muffed the punt when a teammate backed into him, and though the Nittany Lions recovered, they were pushed back to their 28-yard line.

Clifford, who went 23 for 43 for 340 yards and one score, connected with Jahan Dotson for 49 yards to get Penn State to the 11. Two plays later, however, came the drive killer for Penn State. Daniel George was called for offensive pass interference during an over-the-middle catch by Brown that reached the 2. Clifford, who was off-target for most of the day, overthrew George on the next play before the game-sealing pick by Howden. Clifford, who came into the game leading the Big Ten in total offense, had only three interceptions over the first eight games.

Antoine Winfield Jr. had the first two picks in the first half, matching the FBS lead and setting the all-time Minnesota record with seven on the season. Both were inside the 10-yard line.

The Gophers had 321 yards and a 24-13 lead at halftime, already the most points allowed in a game by the Nittany Lions this season, but a fumble near midfield by Shannon Brooks at the end of a run on the first play after a punt sapped some momentum.

Penn State went the other way for a touchdown pass from Clifford to backup tight end Nick Bowers, but Bateman broke open again for a 36-yard gain on the next drive to set up a scoring plunge by Seth Green. The Gophers have touchdowns on all 19 of their goal-to-go possessions this season. Chris Williamson batted down Clifford's fourth-down throw into the end zone on the ensuing drive by Penn State, giving the Gophers another opportunity to drain the clock.

THE TAKEAWAY

Penn State: Seeking their first berth in the College Football Playoff, the Nittany Lions watched a defense that had allowed the second-fewest points in the FBS entering the game take a step back against a group of Gophers receivers that was the best they'd faced all year.

Minnesota: Ending a 13-game losing streak to ranked opponents and beating a top-five team for the first time since a win at No. 2 Penn State in 1999, the Gophers produced a potentially program-changing victory that has been missing for so many decades. They have a two-game lead in the West Division with three to go.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Penn State could fall behind Minnesota, which will certainly climb into the top 10 when the next rankings come out on Sunday. The loss will also hurt the Nittany Lions in the CFP pecking order, with the Gophers getting a boost but still with a long way to go to be in the mix.

UP NEXT

Penn State: Hosts Indiana next Saturday. The Nittany Lions have a 21-1 record against the Hoosiers, with the only loss on the road 2013.

Minnesota: Plays at Iowa next Saturday. The Gophers have lost four straight games against the Hawkeyes.

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Virginia Tech spoils halftime lead, falls to No. 10 Duke

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Virginia Tech spoils halftime lead, falls to No. 10 Duke

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Tre Jones was pleased that when No. 10 Duke fell behind early at Virginia Tech, the Blue Devils showed composure and gradually worked their way back.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski was glad he had Jones to lead the way.

“They follow his lead,” Krzyzewski said after Jones scored 10 of his 15 points in the second half as Duke rallied to beat the Hokies 77-63 Friday night.

On a team with many prominent freshman, the sophomore point guard said seeing his teammates respond in the right way was “huge for us tonight just like on Tuesday" when the Blue Devils won 87-75 at Michigan State. “Another big road game. A big crowd. In past years we've struggled here.”

Freshmen Vernon Carey Jr. and Wendell Moore Jr. added 12 points each for the Blue Devils (9-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who had lost three in a row in Cassell Coliseum. They used runs of 12-2 just after halftime and 12-3 a short time later to take command after trailing for almost the entire first half.

“We played an outstanding 18 minutes in the second half,” Krzyzewski said, “although I'll say this: We played an outstanding 12 minutes in the first half to stay in the game.”

P.J. Horne scored 15 points to lead the Hokies (6-3, 1-1), who lost their third in a row and ended their three-game home winning streak against the Blue Devils. Wabisa Bede and Tyrece Radford added 12 points each.

The Hokies made 10 of their first 14 shots and led by 12 early, but Duke slowly climbed back. The early 12-2 run in the second half gave them their first lead, 50-47, since the opening minute. After Virginia Tech pulled even at 52 on Horne's 3-pointer with 11:10 remaining, the Blue Devils scored 12 of the next 15 points and gradually pulled away.

Jones had four in that latter burst, which ended with the Blue Devils ahead 62-55.

“Tre Jones is so disruptive. He's made great progress with his game offensively but he is a mean dude defensively,” Hokies first-year coach Mike Young said.

BIG PICTURE

Duke: The Blue Devils came in averaging seven 3-pointers and had three by the time Carey scored his first point (9:24 into the game) and six by halftime. Virginia Tech had 10 field goals before the game was 10 minutes old, and it took Duke 15 minutes to make 10 shots. Five of them were 3s, though, to keep the score close.

Virginia Tech: Landers Nolley II is the Hokies' leading scorer (20 ppg) and is second on the team in assists. He had three first-half assists, each time feeding a teammate for an easy lay-in when the defense came toward him. But Nolley had an otherwise pedestrian night, finishing with seven points, eight rebounds, four assists and nine of their 14 turnovers. He also was called for a flagrant foul with the Hokies trailing 66-57 with 4:34 to play.

“I think they got up under his chin, and I didn't think he handled it very well,” Young said.

STREAK ENDS

Carey arrived on a streak of seven double-doubles but played just 15 minutes and grabbed only five rebounds as Duke went with a smaller lineup.

UP NEXT

The Blue Devils don't play again until Dec. 19 at home against Wofford.

The Hokies are at home against next Wednesday against Chattanooga.

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Howard football coach Ron Prince resigns amid investigation into verbal abuse allegations

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Howard football coach Ron Prince resigns amid investigation into verbal abuse allegations

Ron Prince resigned from his position as head coach at Howard University on Friday. Prince had been on administrative leave since November after allegations of verbal abuse and mistreatment of players.

“Coach Ron Prince has resigned as head coach of Howard’s football program, effective immediately,” Howard athletics director Kery Davis said in a statement to ESPN. “The university and Coach Prince have agreed to mutually part ways. A national search for a replacement will begin immediately."

The allegations came to light after HBCU Gameday reported that Davis received a letter from a parent with the accusations against Price. The university put Price on administrative leave and launched an investigation into the matter.

Four Howard players joined the transfer portal in October, the most notable being quarterback Caylin Newton, the brother of former NFL MVP Cam Newton. Prince joined Howard after the 2018 season and has had 17 players enter the transfer portal during his tenure.

Price's previous experience includes coaching in the NCAA for Rutgers University and Michigan University, and in the NFL for the Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts. He was the head coach at Kansas State from 2006-08. 

Howard assigned interim responsibilities to director of football operations Aaron Kelton, who will continue on in that role until a new coach is hired.

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