Danny Moloshok/Associated Press
Danny Moloshok/Associated Press
The Associated Press
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 most likely will 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 consecutive 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, Southern California 13
LOS ANGELES – Theo Riddick rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown, Kyle Brindza kicked five field goals, and No. 1 Notre Dame secured a spot in the BCS championship game with a victory over Southern California.
Everett Golson passed for 217 yards as the Fighting Irish (12-0) completed their first perfect regular season since 1988, earning a trip to Miami on Jan. 7 to play for the storied program’s first national title in 24 years.
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 Irish 1 with 2:33 to play.
No. 2 Alabama 49, Auburn 0
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – AJ McCarron passed for four touchdowns, and Eddie Lacy rushed 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 with the winner likely getting a national championship shot.
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 touchdowns, 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 touchdown.
Georgia will face No. 2 Alabama for the Southeastern Conference championship next Saturday. The winner of that contest likely will play in the BCS title game on Jan. 7.
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 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 kept alive their hopes for a spot in the Pac-12 title game and even an outside chance at the national championship.
De'Anthony Thomas, who helped picked up the slack while Barner was on the sidelines, ran for 122 yards and three scores for the Ducks (11-1, 8-1).
After Oregon's undefeated season was thwarted by a 17-14 overtime loss to Stanford last weekend, the Ducks had to wait for UCLA's game against the Cardinal later Saturday to see who would be headed to the conference championship game. Both Oregon and Stanford started the day with one conference loss in the league's northern division.
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.
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, Missouri 29
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Johnny Manziel threw for 372 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two more scores.
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, the Heisman Trophy hopeful, 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.
The Aggies were up 21-0 when he returned, and he threw touchdown passes on three straight possessions to end the first half.
Missouri (5-7, 2-6) won’t make a bowl game in its first SEC season.
No. 11 Stanford 35, No. 15 UCLA 17
PASADENA, Calif. – Stepfan Taylor rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns, Kevin Hogan passed for 160 yards and another score, and No. 11 Stanford beat No. 15 UCLA 35-17 Saturday to win the Pacific-12 Conference North title and set up 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 consecutive 10-win seasons for the first time, handed Oregon a 17-14 overtime setback last weekend to put themselves in position to win the Pac-12 North title with a victory over the Pac-12 South champion Bruins (9-3, 6-3), who earned their berth in the title game by beating Southern California 38-28 last weekend.
The win was the sixth consecutive for Stanford and their fourth in a row over UCLA, which had a five-game winning streak snapped – its longest in seven years.
Taylor, a 5-11, 215-pound senior who carried 20 times, didn’t play in the fourth quarter. He raised his career rushing total to 4,134 yards and will need 36 yards in the rematch with UCLA to break the Stanford career rushing record of 4,169 yards set by Darrin Nelson in 1977-81.
Hogan, a redshirt freshman making his third start at quarterback for Stanford, completed 15 of 22 passes without being intercepted and was sacked twice. He has guided the Cardinal to wins over three consecutive ranked opponents, something they had never accomplished before.
No. 13 South Carolina 27, No. 12 Clemson 17
CLEMSON, S.C. – Backup quarterback Dylan Thompson threw for three touchdowns, Jadeveon Clowney had 4½ sacks, and No. 13 South Carolina won its fourth in a row over 12th-ranked Clemson as Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier became the school’s victories leader.
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 touchdown 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.
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.
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 game winner and set off a celebration on Owen Field.
Connecticut 23, No. 19 Louisville 20, 3OT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Chad Christen’s 30-yard field goal in the third overtime gave Connecticut an upset of No. 19 Louisville.
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 overtime kick gave Connecticut (5-6, 2-4 Big East Conference) its second consecutive win.
Louisville (9-2, 4-2) dropped its second in a row 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 yards and two touchdowns but was sacked four times and broke his left wrist. He is expected to play against Rutgers.
Pittsburgh 27, 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.
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 at 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 never were in it on a day the Panthers played like the team with everything on the line.
Mississippi 41, No. 25 Mississippi State 24
OXFORD, Miss. – Bo Wallace threw for 294 yards and five touchdowns, Donte Moncrief caught three touchdown passes, and Mississippi pulled away in the second half.
Ole Miss (6-6, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) won the Egg Bowl for the first time since 2008, breaking Mississippi State’s three-game winning streak in the series. The Rebels 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 consecutive points in the second half to push past the Bulldogs.
No. 25 Utah State 45, Idaho 9
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 Taylor Davis three times in the first half and forced him to fumble. Williams' 52-yard run set up Keeton's 3-yard touchdown pass to Kellen Bartlett early in the third quarter for a 28-9 advantage for the Aggies.
Williams added a 14-yard touchdown run in the fourth after opening the scoring with a 19-yard touchdown 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).
Dave Martin/Associated Press