ATLANTA (AP)Joe Burrow finished off what seems like his Heisman Trophy coronation with another dazzling performance and No. 1 LSU locked up a spot in the College Football Playoff for the first time, dominating No. 4 Georgia 37-10 in the Southeastern Conference championship game Saturday.
The Tigers, going for their first national title since 2007 season, will either return to Atlanta or head west to suburban Phoenix for a semifinal game Dec. 28. Their bowl site and opponent will be announced Sunday, but they surely made a persuasive case to be the top overall seed in the four-team field.
Burrow was all over the stat sheet for LSU (13-0, No. 2 CFP). He threw for 349 yards and four touchdowns. He was the Tigers’ second-leading rusher with 41 yards on 11 carries, often leaving the Bulldogs grasping at air as he twirled this way and that. He even caught a pass on a ball that was batted down at the line and wound up his arms, taking off for a 16-yard gain.
Tigers put up 481 yards of offense, but the most encouraging aspect of this game was another strong performance from LSU’s defense. It followed up a 50-7 rout of Texas A&M in the regular-season finale with another championship-worthy showing against the Bulldogs, who were held to 286 yards.
Georgia (11-2) appears likely to make its second straight appearance in the Sugar Bowl against Baylor, loser of the Big 12 championship game.
NO. 2 OHIO STATE 34, NO. 10 WISCONSIN 21
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Justin Fields threw three touchdown passes in the second half, J.K. Dobbins ran for 172 yards and a score and Ohio State sealed its first playoff trip in three years by shutting out Wisconsin in the second half in the Big Ten championship game.
The Buckeyes (13-0, No. 1 CFP) claimed their third straight league title and enter the postseason with a 19-game winning streak.
Wisconsin (10-3, No. 8 CFP) has lost seven straight in the series though this one didn’t follow the usual script.
The Badgers, who lost 38-7 at Ohio State in October, scored the first 14 points – Ohio State’s largest deficit of the season. Wisconsin led 21-7 at the half. But just like the first game, the Buckeyes turned it on in the third quarter.
Jeremy Ruckert started the comeback with a spectacular one-handed catch in the back of the end zone on the fifth play of the third quarter. The 16-yard pass cut the deficit to 21-14.
Four plays later, Wisconsin punter Anthony Lotti dropped the ball and was tackled at the Badgers 16. Ohio State converted that miscue into a 27-yard field goal.
And after Wisconsin missed a 48-yard field goal wide left on its next series, Fields hooked up with K.J. Hill for a 16-yard pass and 24-21 lead with 2:23 left in the third quarter.
Fields added a 13-yard TD pass to Hill early in the fourth quarter to give the Buckeyes a 31-21 lead and the Buckeyes closed the scoring with a 24-yard field goal. Fields was 19 of 31 with 299 yards and no interceptions.
ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE
NO. 3 CLEMSON 62, NO. 22 VIRGINIA 17
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Trevor Lawrence threw four touchdown passes, three to Tee Higgins, and Clemson beat Virginia to win its fifth consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference title.
The defending national champion Tigers (13-0; No. 3 CFP) have won 28 games in a row and head to the College Football Playoff with chance for a third crown in four years.
And while Virginia (9-4; No. 23 CFP) and quarterback Bryce Perkins put forth a game plan that caused the Tigers to sweat early on, there was no stopping Clemson’s dazzling set of experienced playmakers led by Lawrence and Higgins on the way to ACC championship game records for points and yards (621),
Lawrence set an ACC title-game record with his four touchdown throws and had 302 yards passing, his second best total this season, and completed 16 of 22 passes before coming out in the third quarter.
Higgins finished with 182 yards receiving yards and the three TDs, both bests in ACC Championship game play. Travis Etienne had 114 yards, his eighth game over 100 yards this season.
NO. 6 OKLAHOMA 30, NO. 8 BAYLOR 23, OT
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Rhamondre Stevenson had a 5-yard touchdown run in overtime and Oklahoma made its bid for another playoff berth with the victory over Baylor in the Big 12 championship game.
A day after No. 5 Utah lost in the Pac-12 championship game, and before No. 4 Georgia lost to No. 1 LSU for the SEC title, the Sooners (12-1, No. 6 CFP) won their fifth consecutive Big 12 title, and 13th overall. Oklahoma went to the playoff three of the past four seasons.
Baylor (11-2, No. 7 CFP) tied it in the fourth quarter after two long passes by freshman Jacob Zeno, the second quarterback used after starter Charlie Brewer left the game in the second quarter following a big hit he delivered on a defender.
There was an 81-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Trestan Ebner with 9:41 left in regulation and a 78-yarder to Chris Platt that set up John Mayers’ third field goal, a 27-yarder with 3:25 left to make it 23-all.
After Oklahoma scored on three plays to start overtime, Zeno was under tremendous pressure on Baylor’s chance. There were two incompletions before he was sacked for a 10-yard loss, and then he was under distress again when he flung a game-ending pass that fell to the ground. The Bears had only 105 total yards before the 81-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter. They finished with 265.
Jalen Hurts, who last year led Alabama’s comeback win over Georgia in the SEC title game, was 17-of-24 passing for 278 yards and a touchdown for the Sooners. CeeDee Lamb had eight catches for 173 yards after missing the previous game against the Bears.
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
NO. 16 MEMPHIS 29, NO. 21 CINCINNATI 24
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Antonio Gibson caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Brady White with 1:14 left and Memphis beat Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference championship game.
After the game, two people with knowledge of the decision said Memphis coach Mike Norvell will be introduced Sunday as Florida State’s coach. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because an official announcement has not been made.
Memphis (12-1, No. 17, CFP) finally won the AAC title in its third straight conference championship game. The Tigers now wait for an invitation to the Cotton Bowl as the highest-ranked Group of Five team.
Eight days after beating the Bearcats 34-24 at home in the regular-season finale, Memphis rallied for another win. Along with scoring the go-ahead touchdown, Gibson ran for 130 yards, including a 65-yard TD dash.
Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder, who did not play last week against Memphis, passed for 233 yards and ran for 113 more.
The game became a back-and-forth battle in the fourth quarter. Sam Crosa’s 33-yard field goal with 4:23 left gave the Bearcats (10-3, No. 20 CFP) a 24-23 lead. On the Tigers’ next drive, Gibson caught two passes and ran five times, setting Memphis up at the Cincinnati 6. On the scoring play, Gibson was split right and caught White’s pass.
NO. 19 BOISE STATE 31, HAWAII 10
BOISE, Idaho (AP) – Jaylon Henderson threw for 212 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score to lead No. 19 Boise State to a 31-10 victory over Hawaii in the Mountain West championship game.
Boise State (12-1, No. 19 CFP) won its second conference title in three years, beating Hawaii again this season after winning the Oct. 12th meeting, 59-37. After rolling up 518 yards of offense in the first game, the Broncos leaned on their defense in the rematch.
The Broncos made two defensive stands inside the 5, once in the second quarter and another early in the third.
Hawaii (9-5) was making its first appearance in the title game. It enjoyed some success through the air with Cole McDonald passing for 241 yards, but couldn’t overcome early problems in the red zone.
Tied at 3 late in the first half, Boise State scored two touchdowns in a 53-second span on a pair of 36-yard touchdown strikes. Henderson dropped the first one into Khalil Shakir on a streak down the near sideline with 1:07 remaining in the half.
Then after Boise State stuffed Hawaii to get the ball back with 38 seconds remaining, Henderson fired a bullet to John Hightower, who made a leaping catch as he was undercut but used his left hand to maintain his balance before racing into the end zone.
NO. 20 APPALACHIAN STATE 45, LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE 38
BOONE, N.C. (AP) – Darrynton Evans scored three touchdowns and Appalachian State repeated as Sun Belt Conference champion with the victory over Louisiana-Lafayette.
Evans won the game’s MVP for the second straight season.
Zac Thomas threw for 149 yards and two touchdowns, and Daetrich Harrington and Marcus Williams added touchdown runs. The Mountaineers racked up 416 yards on offense, including 267 on the ground in a dominating first half.
The Mountaineers (12-1) have won at least a share of four straight Sun Belt championships.
Levi Lewis threw for a Sun Belt championship game-record 354 yards and four touchdowns for Lafayette (10-3, 8-2).