Irish eyes are smiling
Notre Dame is heading to the BCS championship game to play an SEC team to be determined.
The Fighting Irish stuffed Southern California 22-13 on Saturday night to finish a perfect season and lock up a spot in the national championship game.
The SEC title game next Saturday in Atlanta will most likely determine Notre Dame’s opponent. No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia will play in that game, though Florida will make a case that it deserves to be playing the Fighting Irish.
In Tallahassee, Fla., the fourth-ranked Gators scored 24 straight fourth-quarter points behind Mike Gillislee and a hard-hitting defense to beat No. 10 Florida State 37-26.
The Gators (11-1) needed a USC upset of the Irish to work their way into the BCS championship game, because their loss to Georgia shut them out of the SEC title.
Ohio State (12-0) finished its bowl-banned season by beating rival Michigan 26-21. NCAA sanctions will keep the Buckeyes out of the postseason and might have cost Urban Meyer’s first Ohio State team a shot at the national championship.
No. 1 NOTRE DAME 22,
LOS ANGELES — Theo Riddick ran for 146 yards and a touchdown, Kyle Brindza kicked five field goals, and Notre Dame earned a chance to play for its first national title since 1988.
Everett Golson passed for 217 yards as the Fighting Irish (12-0) completed their first perfect regular season since that title campaign.
Although they did little with flash on an electric night at the Coliseum, the Irish woke up more echoes of past Notre Dame greats with a grinding effort in this dynamic intersectional rivalry with USC (7-5), which has lost three of four.
Notre Dame’s hard-nosed defense appropriately made the decisive stand in the final minutes, keeping USC out of the end zone on four plays from the 1 with 2:33 to play.
No. 2 ALABAMA 49,
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — AJ McCarron passed for four touchdowns, and Eddie Lacy ran for 131 yards and two scores in the most lopsided Iron Bowl in 64 years.
The Crimson Tide (10-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) clinched the Western Division title outright and a spot in the conference title game against No. 3 Georgia.
None of that will come as easily as this one. Auburn (3-9, 0-8) completed the worst season for any team within two years of winning an Associated Press national title in what might have been the last game for embattled coach Gene Chizik.
The biggest Iron Bowl margin was Alabama’s 55-0 victory in 1948.
No. 3 GEORGIA 42,
georgia TECH 10
ATHENS, Ga. — Aaron Murray threw two touchdown passes, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall each ran for a pair of TDs, and Georgia stayed right in the thick of the national championship race.
The Bulldogs (11-1) extended the domination of the Yellow Jackets, beating their state rival for the 11th time in 12 meetings. This one was a laugher from the start as the home team scored just over a minute into the game, built a 28-3 halftime lead and was up 42-3 before Georgia Tech (6-6) scored its lone TD.
No. 4 OHIO STATE 26,
No. 20 MICHIGAN 21
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Carlos Hyde ran for 146 yards, and Ohio State’s defense shut out Michigan in the second half to complete a 12-0 season.
It was a sweet win for the Buckeyes, just 6-7 last season with a loss to their archrivals in a transitional year in which they were facing heavy NCAA penalties. After Urban Meyer took the job as head coach a year ago, they were socked with a bowl ban after this season — and still ran the table.
Ohio State (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten) is ineligible for a BCS national title but still has an outside shot at finishing No. 1 in the final Associated Press Top 25 if other contenders lose. Michigan (8-4, 6-2) will now await a minor bowl bid.
Drew Basil matched his season output with four field goals, and the defense did the rest, forcing three turnovers in the second half.
No. 5 OREGON 48,
No. 16 OREGON STATE 24
CORVALLIS, Ore. — Kenjon Barner ran for 198 yards and two touchdowns despite leaving the game for a time with an injury, and the Ducks rebounded from last week’s loss.
De’Anthony Thomas, who helped pick up the slack while Barner was on the sidelines, ran for 122 yards and three scores for the Ducks (11-1, 8-1).
Oregon’s undefeated season was thwarted by a 17-14 overtime loss to Stanford last weekend.
Sean Mannion threw for 311 yards and a touchdown but was intercepted four times for the Beavers (8-3).
No. 6 FLORIDA 37,
No. 10 FLORIDA STATE 26
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Mike Gillislee ran for two touchdowns, and the Gators beat their rivals to stay in the national title hunt until Notre Dame dashed them.
Florida regained the lead 23-20 on Gillislee’s 37-yard run with 11:01 left in the final period on the first play after Florida State’s EJ Manuel fumbled, his fourth turnover of the game. Gillislee finished with 140 yards rushing.
Florida (11-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) came into the game fourth in the BCS standings.
Florida State (10-2, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) was hurt by five turnovers in the game. The Seminoles will play Georgia Tech next week in the ACC title game.
No. 9 TEXAS A&M 59,
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Johnny Manziel threw for 372 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two more scores in his last chance to make a Heisman statement.
The Aggies (10-2, 6-2 SEC) scored touchdowns on their first six drives to build a 42-7 halftime lead and coast to their first 10-win season since 1998.
About the only drama in this one came when Manziel was shaken up on a tackle at the end of a run in the first quarter.
But Johnny Football missed just four plays before returning with a brace on his left knee. And it didn’t seem to slow him down one bit.
Manziel added 67 yards rushing and completed 32 of 44 passes on Saturday. He has thrown for 24 touchdowns and has run for 19 this season.
The win snaps A&M’s three-game losing streak to Missouri (5-7, 2-6 SEC).
No. 11 STANFORD 35,
No. 15 UCLA 17
PASADENA, Calif. — Stepfan Taylor ran for 142 yards and two touchdowns, Kevin Hogan passed for 160 yards and another score, and Stanford won the Pac-12 North and a rematch with the Bruins in the conference championship game.
The Cardinal (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12) found out about 10 minutes before the opening kickoff that No. 5 Oregon (11-1, 8-1) had beaten No. 16 Oregon State 48-24, meaning they had to win to qualify for another shot at UCLA — a game Stanford will host next Friday.
The Cardinal, who have three straight 10-win seasons for the first time, beat Oregon 17-14 in overtime last weekend.
Brett Hundley was 20-of-38 for 261 yards and a TD with one interception while being sacked seven times for UCLA (9-3, 6-3). Johnathan Franklin, the Bruins’ leading career rusher, was held to 65 yards on 21 carries.
No. 13 SOUTH CAROLINA 27,
No. 12 CLEMSON 17
CLEMSON, S.C. — Backup quarterback Dylan Thompson threw for three touchdowns, Jadeveon Clowney had 4 1/2 sacks, and South Carolina won its fourth straight over Clemson.
Thompson got the call for the Gamecocks (10-2) because starter Connor Shaw sprained his left foot last week against Wofford. And the Gamecocks sophomore made the most of it with TD passes of 13 and 6 yards to Bruce Ellington and 34 yards to Ace Sanders.
The Tigers (10-2) were grounded by Clowney, the Gamecocks star defensive end who set his school’s single season-record with 13 sacks.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier won his 65th game in eight seasons, surpassing Rex Enright for most victories by a South Carolina coach. The Gamecocks finished with 10 victories for a second consecutive season, a first in program history.
Tajh Boyd was 11-of-24 for 183 yards and two crushing interceptions for Clemson.
No. 14 OKLAHOMA 51,
No. 22 OKLAHOMA STATE 48 (OT)
NORMAN, Okla. — Landry Jones threw for 500 yards and three touchdowns, and Brennan Clay scored on an 18-yard run in overtime to lift Oklahoma.
The Sooners (9-2, 7-1 Big 12) never led during regulation, overcoming double-digit deficits in both halves. Backup quarterback Blake Bell tied it with 4 seconds left on a 4-yard keeper on fourth-and-1.
Joseph Randle ran for 113 yards and matched his career-high with four touchdowns for Oklahoma State (7-4, 5-3), which settled for Quinn Sharp’s 26-yard field goal in overtime.
On the Sooners’ second play, Clay got through traffic at the line of scrimmage and then broke through attempted tackles by Daytawion Lowe and Shamiel Gary to score the winner and set off a celebration at Owen Field.
No. 21 RUTGERS 6
PITTSBURGH — Tino Sunseri passed for 227 yards and two touchdowns in his final home game as Pittsburgh overwhelmed No. 21 Rutgers 27-6 on Saturday.
Ray Graham ran for 113 yards and a score for the Panthers (5-6, 2-4 Big East), who kept their hopes for bowl eligibility alive while drumming the Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers (9-2, 5-1) will play No. 19 Louisville on Thursday with a Bowl Championship Series berth on the line, though the Scarlet Knights head home with little momentum after the Panthers dominated in their last game Heinz Field as a member of the Big East, racing to a 21-0 halftime lead and coasting.
Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova passed for 157 yards with a touchdown and an interception, but the Scarlet Knights were never in it on a day the Panthers played like the team with everything on the line.
No. 19 LOUISVILLE 20 (3OT)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Chad Christen’s 30-yard field goal in the third overtime gave Connecticut the victory.
Blidi Wreh-Wilson set up the Huskies’ winning score by intercepting Teddy Bridgewater’s pass intended for DeVante Parker in the end zone. The Huskies ran three plays for 12 yards before Christen’s second OT kick gave Connecticut (5-6, 2-4 Big East Conference) its second straight win.
Louisville (9-2, 4-2) dropped its second straight but still has a chance for a BCS bowl bid by beating first-place Rutgers (9-2, 5-1) on Thursday.
Bridgewater completed 30 of 53 passes for 331 and two touchdowns but was sacked four times and broke his left wrist. He is expected to play against Rutgers.
No. 25 UTAH STATE 45,
LOGAN, Utah — Chuckie Keeton passed for two touchdowns, Kerwynn Williams rushed for 110 yards, and senior Will Davis returned an interception 59 yards for a touchdown as Utah State secured its first outright conference title in 76 years.
The Western Athletic Conference champion Aggies (10-2, 6-0) also earned their first 10-win season.
The Aggies intercepted three of Taylor Davis’ passes in the first half and forced him to fumble. Williams’ 52-yard run set up Keeton’s 3-yard TD pass to Kellen Bartlett early in the third quarter for a 28-9 advantage for the Aggies.
Williams added a 14-yard TD run in the fourth after opening the scoring with a 19-yard TD reception. Lou Groza Award finalist Trey Farquhar kicked field goals of 38, 46 yards and 52 yards — his 11th career field goal of 50 yards or more for Idaho (1-11, 1-5).
No. 25 MISSISSIPPI STATE 24
OXFORD, Miss. — Bo Wallace threw for 294 yards and five touchdowns, Donte Moncrief caught three TD passes, and Mississippi snapped a three-game losing streak in the Egg Bowl.
The Rebels (6-6, 3-5) also earned bowl eligibility for the first time since 2009.
Mississippi State (8-4, 4-4) made a field goal late in the second quarter to tie the game at 17-17 going into halftime. But the Rebels reeled off 24 straight points in the second half to push past the Bulldogs.
Moncrief caught seven passes for 173 yards and tied a school record with three receiving touchdowns. Jeff Scott added 111 rushing yards.
Chad Bumphis led Mississippi State with six catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Tyler Russell completed 18 of 33 passes for 268 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.