INDIANAPOLIS — Michigan State shook up the BCS title chase again Saturday.
The No. 10 Spartans regained the lead on Connor Cook’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Josiah Price with 11:41 left and upset No. 2 Ohio State 34-24 to take the Big Ten title and put Auburn back in the national title hunt.
“Coach (Mark Dantonio) said, ‘You’re the ones.’ We’re the ones, we’re going to the Rose Bowl,” Cook said after being selected the game’s MVP.
Ohio State (12-1) had the nation’s longest active winning streak end at 24 as coach Urban Meyer suffered his first loss since taking over in Columbus.
It was a game that almost defied logic.
The Spartans (12-1) led 17-0 after 21 minutes, then gave up the next 24 points before scoring the final 17.
Michigan State sealed the victory, and its probable trip to the Rose Bowl, with Jeremy Langford’s late 26-yard TD run. The Spartans haven’t played in Pasadena since 1988.
For the Spartans, it was a monumental win.
They have won 12 games in a season for the first time, won their ninth straight for the first time since starting 9-0 in 1966 and are likely headed to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1988 — though Dantonio said earlier this week he thought Michigan State could have a claim on the BCS game with a win. The only thing that could keep the Spartans out was a 17-13 loss at Notre Dame on Sept. 21.
“We were inches away but our team was resilient last year, so we felt coming into this season if we could find our identity and pushed it a little bit, we’d get there,” Dantonio said during the celebration. “We believed, we believed.”
But the upset marked a stunning turn of events.
One week after the Buckeyes cheered when Auburn upset No. 1 Alabama, the Tigers were rooting for Michigan State to return the favor.
Did they ever.
Langford ran 24 times for 128 yards, becoming the first player to rush for more than 100 yards against the Buckeyes this season.
Cook finished 24 of 40 for a season-high 304 yards with three TDs and one interception and was selected the game’s MVP.
Even before the final seconds ticked off the clock, Michigan State players were bouncing up and down on the field.
Ohio State’s Braxton Miller did everything he could, going 8 of 21 for 101 yards with one touchdown and running 21 times for 142 yards and two scores against the nation’s stingiest defense. Carlos Hyde ran 18 times for 118 yards. Both joined the school’s exclusive 3,000-yard club Saturday, becoming the seventh and eighth members.
Starting right guard Marcus Hall, who Meyer said would not start, did not play. Meyer said he made that decision earlier this week.
But the loss was stinging.
“I really wanted these guys to experience something special and I think they will,” Meyer said. “I think they’ll get invited to a very good bowl game and when they do, they’ll face a good Buckeyes team.”
The Buckeyes took their first lead, 24-17, when Miller scored on a 6-yard TD run with 5:36 left in the third.
Michigan State answered when Michael Geiger’s 44-yard field goal barely dropped over the crossbar to make it 24-20, and the Spartans retook the lead, 27-24, when Cook capped an eight-play, 90-yard drive by finding Price wide open in the flat for a 12-yard TD pass with 11:41 left in the game.
No. 3 Auburn 59, No. 5 Missouri 42
ATLANTA — Tre Mason ran for 304 yards and four touchdowns, leading No. 3 Auburn to a wild 59-42 victory over No. 5 Missouri in the Southeastern Conference championship game Saturday.
Auburn (12-1) is likely headed to the BCS championship game after No. 2 Ohio State lost to Michigan State 34-24 in the Big Ten championship game. The Tigers are likely headed to Pasadena to face top-ranked Florida State, which routed Duke 45-7 in the Atlantic Coast Championship game.
Auburn set an SEC championship game record with 677 yards, including 545 on the ground. Mason had scoring runs of 7, 3 and 1 yards before bursting up the middle on a 13-yard TD that clinched the victory with 4:22 remaining. He carried the ball a staggering 46 times, even striking a Heisman pose on a night when his long-shot candidacy got a huge boost.
Auburn finally stopped Missouri on fourth-and-1 deep in its own territory, setting up Mason’s final score. Chris Davis broke up the pass, not quite as thrilling as his 109-yard return of a missed field goal to beat Alabama, but another huge play for the nation’s biggest turnaround team.
Auburn, which was 3-9 a year ago and didn’t win a game in the SEC, claimed the title in its first year under coach Gus Malzahn. The Tigers didn’t even need a dramatic finish to do it, holding Missouri scoreless in the final quarter while Mason notched two more TDs to break open a game that was close most of the way.
Missouri (11-2) had its own impressive bounce-back after struggling its first year in the SEC. But coach Gary Pinkel’s team was denied a quick championship in its new league after leaving the Big 12.
NO. 1 FLORIDA STATE 45, NO. 20 DUKE 7
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jameis Winston threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score, and Florida State stormed into the BCS national championship game with a victory over Duke in the ACC championship game.
The Heisman Trophy favorite was 19 of 32 for 330 yards and set FBS freshman records for TD passes and yards passing in a season two days after prosecutors decided not to press charges against him in a sexual assault case. Winston threw two touchdown passes to 6-foot-5, 234-pound receiver Kelvin Benjamin and ran for a 17-yard score to overcome two interceptions.
Florida State’s defense was dominant, holding Duke (10-3) to 239 yards and forcing three turnovers to help the Seminoles (13-0) win their second straight ACC title.
It was Florida State’s 12th win by at least 27 points. The Seminoles entered as 29-point favorites after outscoring its opponents by an average of 43 points.
Florida State outgained Duke 569-239.
NO. 7 STANFORD 38, NO. 11 ARIZONA ST.
TEMPE, Ariz. — Tyler Gaffney ran for 133 yards and scored three touchdowns in a dominating first half, leading Stanford back to the Rose Bowl with a victory over Arizona State in the Pac-12 title game.
Stanford (11-2) raced to a big lead Sept. 21 in its first game with Arizona State this season and had its way with the Sun Devils again early in the rematch, building a 28-7 lead early in the second quarter. Gaffney did most of the damage, scoring on a 69-yard run on the Cardinal’s second play and a pair of 1-yard runs.
Stanford consistently gouged Arizona State for big plays, racking up 517 yards to earn a shot at repeating as Rose Bowl champion. Kevin Hogan threw for 277 yards and a touchdown, Ty Montgomery scored two touchdowns and Stanford held Arizona State to 311 total yards to earn a spot in a BCS bowl for the fourth straight season.
Arizona State (10-3) stumbled early for the second straight game against the Cardinal and never really recovered to spoil its Rose Bowl hopes. D.J. Foster accounted for 142 total yards and two touchdowns for the Sun Devils, who will likely play in the Holiday or Alamo Bowl instead of making their first trip to Pasadena since 1997.
NO. 9 BAYLOR 30, NO. 23 TEXAS 10
WACO, Texas — Bryce Petty threw touchdown passes on the first two drives of the second half for Baylor and the Bears won their first Big 12 title and a Fiesta Bowl berth.
The final game in Baylor’s old stadium became a de facto Big 12 championship game after No. 6 Oklahoma State lost to Oklahome just before they kicked off in Waco.
Baylor (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) had never even had a winning record in the Big 12 before coach Art Briles arrived six years ago. Now the Bears have their first 11-win season and their first outright title in any league since the 1980 Southwest Conference title when Mike Singletary called Floyd Casey Stadium home.
Petty threw for 287 yards, with TDs to Antwan Goodley and Levi Norwood after a 3-3 halftime tie.
Malcolm Brown ran for 131 yards for Texas (8-4, 7-2).
Texas coach Mack Brown made joking references all week about being the only coach in America playing for a conference championship while also shrugging off speculation that he could be replaced. Well, the intense speculation about Brown’s future is certain to increase now.
No. 18 Oklahoma 33, No. 6 Oklahoma State 24
STILLWATER, Okla. — Blake Bell threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Saunders with 19 seconds left to help Oklahoma spoil rival Oklahoma State’s Big 12 championship and BCS bowl game hopes.
Bell, playing in place of an injured Trevor Knight, led the Sooners (10-2, 7-2 Big 12) on the winning 66-yard drive — going 5 of 8 for 57 yards.
Eric Striker ended the game by recovering a fumble for a touchdown for Oklahoma.
Desmond Roland led Oklahoma State (10-2, 7-2) with 144 yards rushing and accounted for three touchdowns. The Cowboys, who were trying to win their second Big 12 title in three seasons, appeared to have their spot in a BCS bowl game secured when Roland scored on a 1-yard run with 1:46 left for a 24-20 lead.
Bell, however, had other plans. The junior capped the drive with his touchdown pass to Saunders in the corner of the end zone of a frigid Boone Pickens Stadium. The touchdown came just five plays after Oklahoma State appeared to once again secure the win with an interception by Justin Gilbert, but the cornerback was unable to keep the ball from hitting the turf.
The players say they were unaware of an earthquake that happened during the second quarter.
The U.S. Geological Survey recorded a 4.5 magnitude earthquake in central Oklahoma at 12:10 p.m. local time (8:10 a.m. HST) Saturday near Arcadia, about 7 miles east of Edmond and about 14 miles northeast of Oklahoma City.
It occurred about the time Sooners kicker Michael Hunnicutt kicked a 21-yard field goal in the second quarter. Hunnicutt says he didn’t know about the earthquake and didn’t feel it, while Oklahoma wide receiver Sterling Shepard says if he felt anything, he likely thought it was the result of the 58,520 in attendance in Boone Pickens Stadium.
NO. 15 UCF 17, SMU 13
DALLAS — Blake Bortles threw for 242 yards and ran for two touchdowns and UCF celebrated a BCS bid already in hand by rallying to beat SMU in front of just a few hundred fans who braved an ice storm.
With the school’s first BCS berth secured with Louisville’s win at Cincinnati on Thursday night, the Knights were sluggish before recovering for a school-record eighth straight win and the outright title in the first year of the American Athletic Conference.
UCF (11-1, 8-0 AAC) has both of the 34-year-old program’s 11-win seasons in the past four years. The Knights went 11-3 in 2010 and beat Georgia in the Liberty Bowl.
SMU (5-7, 4-4) saw its record bowl streak end at four seasons in the coldest home game in school history — 24 degrees at kickoff.
The wintry blast that virtually shut down the Dallas-Fort Worth area Friday prompted officials to offer free admission. It didn’t help much, with fewer than 1,000 fans showing up for the game — far short of the announced attendance of 12,598.
Rice 41, Marshall 24
HOUSTON — Rice clinched its first outright conference title since 1957, running over Marshall in the Conference USA Championship Game.
The Owls (10-3) relied on their bruising ground attack to subdue the Herd (9-4), with running backs Charles Ross and Luke Turner delivering via versatility. Rice gained 250 of its 489 yards on the ground.
Ross rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns, upping his season total to 14 and matching the program single-season mark set by Trevor Cobb in 1991. Turner passed for two touchdowns, doubling his career total.
The Owls’ defense was exceptional, limiting the Herd to 371 yards and just 4.8 yards per play. Marshall averaged 53 points during the five-game winning streak it carried into its first C-USA Championship Game appearance.
Herd quarterback Rakeem Cato passed for 265 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.
By wire sources