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CFP watch: No. 5 Michigan stuns No. 2 Ohio State; No. 3 Alabama wins in four OTs

Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
 2021-11-27

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Hassan Haskins scored five touchdowns and Aidan Hutchinson had three sacks, helping Michigan finally beat Ohio State 42-27 on Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich., to give Jim Harbaugh his first win as a coach against the Buckeyes.

The Wolverines, No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings, clinched the Big Ten East title and will play in the conference championship game next weekend against No. 16 Iowa in Indianapolis with playoff hopes in hand.

Michigan (11-1, 8-1) advanced to the conference title game for the first time. The Wolverines now have a chance to win a Big Ten championship for the first time since 2004 and a national title for the first time since 1997.

"It feels like the beginning," Harbaugh said.

Minutes after the game, long-suffering fans filled the Big House turf to celebrate a rare victory in the storied series.

"Watching the snow fall and the crowd rush rush onto the field was truly a surreal moment," said Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara, who was 13 for 19 for 159 yards with an interception.

Ohio State, No. 2 in the CFP rankings, had won a school-record eight straight in the rivalry and 15 of 16 to turn The Game into its game.

The Buckeyes (10-2, 8-1) blew their chances to continue their dominance with 10 penalties, many before the snap, and because they simply could not stop Michigan’s running game.

Harbaugh clearly had his team ready to defeat Ohio State.

After Harbaugh’s pay was slashed in his new deal last winter in part because of his lack of success against the Buckeyes, he reshaped his coaching staff again and renamed a running-heavy period of practice the “Beat Ohio“ drill for to add another layer of focus on the rivalry.

It seemed to work.

Haskins had 169 yards rushing in 28 carries, scoring a go-ahead touchdown late in the second half and four more after halftime to pad Michigan’s lead. Blake Corum returned from a two-plus game absence to run six times for 87 yards, helping the Wolverines gain a total of 297 yards on the ground against a rival that has pushed them around for much of this century.

Harbaugh also seemed to outcoach Ohio State coach Ryan Day, who had not lost a Big Ten game this season, by sprinkling in some surprise plays such as a slot-around with A.J. Henning running for a 14-yard run to cap the game-opening 10-play, 75-yard drive.

And in the end, the Buckeyes looked like they had enough when they didn’t put up much of a fight on Haskins’ four-yard run with 2:17 left that gave the Wolverines a 15-point lead.

Harbaugh has been dissed and dismissed as a coach long on hype and short on substance over his first six seasons with his alma mater, but he earned a win that should quiet most of his critics.

"I’m so happy to be a part of his first win and to have a top-five game at home," Hutchinson said. "He was just so happy."

Ohio State’s high-powered offense seemed rattled against Michigan’s new-look defense with first-year coordinator Mike Macdonald making all the right moves. Hutchinson, who set a single-season school record with 13 sacks, was in the backfield all day.

C.J. Stroud was 34-for-49 passing for 394 and two touchdowns, including a 25-yard pass to Garrett Wilson that gave the Buckeyes a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter. The Buckeyes turned it over on downs on their last possession, failing to protect Stroud, a former Rancho Cucamonga High star. He was sacked four times, doubling the total from any other game this season.

"I feel awful," Day said. "I just got done talking to the team, and when you work this game 365 days out of the year and you come up short, it’s a failure. It hurts. It hurts a lot."

No. 3 Alabama 24, at Auburn 22 (4 OTs)

John Metchie caught a scoring pass from Bryce Young in the fourth overtime to give the Crimson Tide (11-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) a comeback victory over the rival Tigers (6-6, 3-5), rescuing Alabama's national title hopes.

It was the first overtime in the Iron Bowl.

Crimson Tide freshman Kool-Aid McKinstry tipped away T.J. Finley’s pass in the final overtime, and Young hit Metchie just as he did in the previous one.

The teams traded touchdowns and field goals in the first overtime, and both delivered scoring passes after lining up from the three-yard line the first time.

The Tigers were trying to win their third straight Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium and nearly pulled it off.

"After halftime, it just seemed like everybody was all in and we were fighting like I’ve never seen us fight all year long," Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said.

Alabama moves on to face No. 1 Georgia in the league championship game with its College Football Playoff hopes on the line. Auburn dropped its fourth straight game after smothering Young and the Tide’s prolific offense most of the way.

Young capped a 97-yard drive with a 28-yard touchdown to freshman Ja’Corey Brooks — his third catch and first touchdown this season — with 24 seconds left in regulation.

Bottled up most of the game, Young finished 25 for 51 for 317 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Metchie caught 13 passes for 150 passes.

“It was crazy. It was crazy," said Young, a former Santa Ana Mater Dei standout. "When you’re playing in the Iron Bowl, what else are you supposed to expect? Throughout all the ups and downs, even that last drive, I have so much faith in my guys."

Finley, who started the final two games after Bo Nix’s season-ending ankle injury, was 17 for 26 for 137 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Tigers.

No. 1 Georgia 45, at Georgia Tech 0

Stetson Bennett passed for 255 yards and four touchdowns, including two to tight end Brock Bowers, and the Bulldogs (12-0) finished an undefeated regular season by overwhelming the Yellow Jackets (3-9).

Georgia gained momentum for next week’s much-anticipated SEC championship game against No. 3 Alabama in Atlanta. It is the first undefeated regular season for the Bulldogs since 1982, when they capped a streak of three consecutive SEC championships with tailback Herschel Walker.

No. 6 Notre Dame 45, at Stanford 14

Jack Coan threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score, and the Fighting Irish (11-1) finished off the regular season with a victory over the Cardinal (3-9) to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Notre Dame won its final seven games following a home loss to Cincinnati but will likely need some help next week to get into the College Football Playoff for the third time in the last four seasons.

Stanford lost its seventh straight game to end the season following an upset of then-No. 3 Oregon for its longest losing streak and most losses in a season since a 1-11 campaign in 2006. The Cardinal were outscored 173-46 over the final four games.

at No. 7 Oklahoma State 37, No. 10 Oklahoma 33

Spencer Sanders threw for a touchdown and ran for another, and the Cowboys (11-1, 8-1) beat the Sooners (10-2, 7-2) to keep alive their College Football Playoff chances and stop Oklahoma's streak of Big 12 Conference titles at six.

Oklahoma State ended a six-game losing streak to Oklahoma. The Cowboys will play Baylor next Saturday for the Big 12 championship at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The Sooners got the ball one last time at their 20-yard line with 54 seconds remaining and no timeouts. Quarterback Caleb Williams scrambled and ran 56 yards to put Oklahoma in scoring range. But Oklahoma State’s Collin Oliver sacked Williams on fourth down at the Cowboys' 32 with eight seconds remaining, setting off a wild celebration.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy won for just the third time in 17 tries against Oklahoma. Now, the Cowboys can win their first Big 12 title since 2011.

Oklahoma State already had clinched a spot in the Big 12 title game, but the stakes remained high. With Baylor’s victory over Texas Tech earlier Saturday, Oklahoma needed a win to reach the conference championship game, giving Oklahoma State a chance to eliminate its rival.

at No. 8 Baylor 27, Texas Tech 24

Blake Shapen threw for 254 yards and two touchdowns in his first start for Baylor, and the Bears (10-2, 7-2) held on for a victory over the Red Raiders (6-6, 3-6) that allowed them to make the Big 12 championship game for the second time in three seasons.

Abram Smith ran for 117 yards and a touchdown for Baylor, which had to wait for the outcome of Saturday night’s game between No. 7 Oklahoma State and No. 10 Oklahoma. The Cowboys were already locked into their first Big 12 title game, and their 37-33 win over the Sooners in Bedlam put Baylor in next Saturday’s game in Arlington, Texas, with them.

at No. 11 Oregon 38, Oregon State 29

Anthony Brown Jr. threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score, and the Ducks (10-2, 7-2) beat the Beavers (7-5, 5-4) to win the Pac-12 North Division and claim a spot in the league’s championship game.

Oregon will face No. 19 Utah for the conference championship in Las Vegas on Friday.

Oregon was coming off a 38-7 loss last Saturday against the Utes, which dropped them from No. 3 in the CFP rankings to No. 11 and out of contention for a national title.

Oregon extended its home winning streak to 19 games, including 15 conference games.

Washington State, which defeated Washington 40-13 in the Apple Cup on Friday night, needed the Beavers to beat the Ducks to win the division.

Devon Williams had six catches for 110 yards and a touchdown for Oregon, which will play for the league title for the third consecutive season. Oregon State’s Chance Nolan threw for 308 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He ran for another late.

at No. 12 Michigan State 30, Penn State 27

Payton Thorne threw two touchdown passes and rushed for another to lead the Spartans (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten) to a victory over the Nittany Lions (7-5, 4-5).

Kennett Walker III ran for 138 yards and a touchdown in 30 carries as Michigan State bounced back from last week’s 56-7 loss to Ohio State. The Spartans finished undefeated at home for the first time since 2015.

Sean Clifford threw three touchdown passes, two to Jahan Dotson, for Penn State. The Nittany Lions closed out the regular season with five losses in their last seven games.

at Minnesota 23, No. 14 Wisconsin 13

Tanner Morgan overcame an interception that was returned for a first-half touchdown, leading the Gophers (8-4, 6-3) on three scoring drives after halftime to surge past the Badgers (8-4, 6-3), taking back Paul Bunyan’s Axe and giving Iowa the Big Ten West Division title.

Morgan, who went 11 for 16 for 199 yards and a third-quarter touchdown pass to Chris Autman-Bell, led Minnesota on the sprint into the end zone to hoist the 73-year-old trophy on its home field for the first time since 2003.

The Gophers held Badgers freshman standout running back Braelon Allen to 47 yards in 17 rushes and forced Graham Mertz to throw throughout the second half to favorable results.

Wisconsin had 62 yards rushing after averaging 229 yards on the ground entering the week.

at Louisiana State 27, No. 14 Texas A&M 24

Max Johnson hit Jaray Jenkins with a 28-yard scoring pass down the sideline with 20 seconds left, and the Tigers (6-6, 3-5 SEC) knocked off the Aggies (8-4, 4-4) to give coach Ed Orgeron a triumphant sendoff in his final game in Tiger Stadium.

LSU had lost a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and looked to be on the brink its first losing season since 1999 when Johnson, who had been sacked six times in the second half, came alive on fourth and six from the Tigers' 19-yard line.

Johnson kept LSU alive with a pass over the middle to tight end Jack Bech and then hit Jenkins for a 31-yard gain. An 11-yard pass to Malik Nabers put the Tigers on the Aggies' 28, setting up the go-ahead score three plays later and setting off a wild celebration in Death Valley while Orgeron smiled from ear-to-ear on the sideline.

LSU linebacker Damone Clark, a Butkus Award finalist, sealed the victory by sacking Texas A&M quarterback Zach Calzada twice.

"How about them Tigers, baby?" said Orgeron, a Louisiana native who grew up an LSU fan and considered coaching the Tigers his dream job. "We just kept preaching to our football team to keep on fighting, keep on fighting and something good is going to happen."

The victory gave LSU two straight wins to close the regular season as a bowl-eligible team.

Orgeron, who presided over an undefeated national championship season in 2019, agreed in October to step down after this season. He said he and LSU’s administration “mutually agreed" he would not coach a bowl game and that offensive line coach Brad Davis would take over as interim coach.

"I told the guys that I wish them luck," Orgeron said. "I’m not going to sit here and coach when there is another guy coming in to be the head coach this week or the week after."

No. 17 Pittsburgh 31, at Syracuse 14

Kenny Pickett threw for four touchdowns to break the Pittsburgh school record for scoring passes in a season, and the Panthers (10-2, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) beat the Orange (5-7, 2-6).

Pittsburgh won its fourth consecutive game and finished the regular season 5-0 on the road. It’s the Panthers’ first 10-win season since 1981.

Pickett boosted his season total to 40 touchdown passes, three more than the previous record set by Dan Marino in 1981 and matched by Rod Rutherford in 2003, and his career total to 79, equaling Marino’s mark. Pickett finished 28 for 38 for 209 yards with one interception.

No. 18 Wake Forest 41, at Boston College 10

The Demon Deacons (10-2, 7-1) earned a spot in the ACC championship game, getting three passing touchdowns and one more on the ground from Sam Hartman in a victory over the Eagles (6-6, 2-6).

Wake Forest will attempt to claim its first league title since 2006 when it faces No. 17 Pittsburgh next Saturday in Charlotte, N.C.

at North Texas 45, No. 22 Texas San Antonio 23

Texas San Antonio's undefeated start to the season ended in a blowout as North Texas running backs DeAndre Torrey and Ikaika Ragsdale combined for five touchdowns and the Mean Green (6-6, 5-3 Conference USA) routed the Roadrunners (11-1, 7-1).

Quarterback Frank Harris had two of UTSA’s three lost fumbles among six overall before sitting out the second half at UNT’s rain-soaked Apogee Stadium, a 10-year-old facility where a top 25 team had never played.

UTSA is still hosting the conference championship game Friday night against Western Kentucky. No. 1 Georgia and fourth-ranked Cincinnati are the remaining undefeated Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

Ragsdale, a redshirt freshman, had a career-high 146 yards rushing and two touchdowns as North Texas ran for 340 yards.

No. 23 Clemson 30, at South Carolina 0

Will Shipley ran for 128 yards and a touchdown, and the Tigers' defense smothered the Gamecocks for Clemson's seventh straight win in the Palmetto State rivalry.

The Tigers (9-3) won their fifth straight game this season and matched the longest winning streak in the series that they set from 1934 to 1940.

Clemson’s defense limited South Carolina (6-6) to 206 yards, its second lowest output this season.

No. 24 Houston 45, at Connecticut 17

Clayton Tune threw for 301 yards and four touchdowns as the Cougars (11-1) tuned up for next week’s American Athletic Conference championship game with a nonconference victory over the Huskies (1-11).

Nathaniel Dell had two touchdown catches and Jake Herslow and Jeremy Singleton each topped 100 receiving yards to go with a touchdown apiece for Houston, which plays at No. 4 Cincinnati for the AAC title next Saturday.

at Arizona State 38, Arizona 15

Jayden Daniels accounted for three touchdowns, Jack Jones returned an interception 87 yards for a touchdown, and the Sun Devils (8-4, 6-3 Pac-12) beat the rival Wildcats (1-11, 1-8).

Arizona State won in a blowout a year ago but needed a big second half in the rematch to pull away. Daniels threw for two touchdowns and ran for a 48-yard score, sending the Sun Devils to their fifth straight victory in the series.

The question entering the game was whether a win would be enough to save coach Herm Edwards’ job. Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson confirmed after the game that Edwards would continue to be the coach.

Arizona's Will Plummer's threw for 346 yards and a touchdown, but the Wildcats struggled in the red zone.

Washington State names Jack Dickert coach

Washington State removed the interim tag and named Jake Dickert head coach Saturday night after he led the Cougars to a 3-2 record following the firing of Nick Rolovich.

Momentum had been growing for Dickert to get the job permanently, and his candidacy was capped Friday with an emphatic 40-13 road rout of rival Washington in the Apple Cup that ended a seven-game losing streak to the Huskies. The win improved the Cougars to 7-5 overall and 6-3 in the Pac-12.

Dickert was promoted from defensive coordinator to interim head coach in October after Rolovich was fired for refusing to meet the state’s mandate for employees to have received a COVID-19 vaccine or an exemption. Rolovich and four other assistant coaches were fired.

Dickert agreed to a five-year contract, the school announced.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times .

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