Bennett, No. 2 Georgia romp over No. 18 Auburn 34-10

Jake Crandall / USA TODAY NETWORK
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AUBURN, Ala. – Stetson Bennett and No. 2 Georgia’s defense were more than enough to take care of Auburn yet again.

Bennett passed for 231 yards and two touchdowns and led the Bulldogs past No. 18 Auburn for the second straight year in a 34-10 victory Saturday even if the defense did allow an opponent to reach the end zone for a change.

The nation’s top defense gave up only its second touchdown of the year for the Bulldogs (6-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference), who were still without injured starting quarterback JT Daniels. None of that kept Georgia from another comfortable SEC win and a fifth straight in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.

Bennett, who made his first college start in a Top 10 matchup with Auburn (3-2, 1-1) last season, completed 14 of 21 passes and hit Ladd McConkey in stride for a 60-yard third quarter score. He also had a 30-yard run.

Daniels is out with a lat injury for the second straight week, along with some sidelined receivers.

“It’s next man up mentality,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “That’s what we talked about all week. We’ve got a lot of guys hurt and beat up, including the quarterback. We feel like he’s getting better, but Stetson played a heck of a game.”

But the Jordan-Hare Stadium crowd didn’t seem to bother the Bulldogs, who dominated in the trenches on both sides.

“We won the line of scrimmage battle,” Bennett said. “It was so much fun. I had a blast.”

Zamir White ran for 79 yards on 18 carries with two touchdowns, doing most of his damage in the second half.

Bo Nix and the Tigers came in averaging 40 points per game but couldn’t solve the Georgia defensive puzzle despite moving the ball at times. Nix completed 21 of 38 passes for 217 yards with an interception off a dropped ball a week after delivering a comeback win at LSU.

Georgia also sacked Nix four times and harried him all afternoon, and the Tigers had some other drops to boot. The Bulldogs allowed just 46 yards on 29 rushes.

“We’ve got to finish drives,” Auburn coach Bryan Harsin said. “That’s the most frustrating thing right now. We can drive the field and that really doesn’t matter if you don’t put points on the board.”

Auburn had failed fourth-down passes end its final drive of the first half and its opening one in the second. Nix griped about what he thought was a missed call on the first one intended for Ze'vian Capers.

“The guy completely grabs him. I thought it should have definitely been a pass interference,” he said. “Obviously if it had been them they probably would have called it, but that’s just part of the game, part of the rivalry.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Georgia: The nation’s best defense mostly dominated, chasing Nix around the backfield and stuffing the run. Still looks like a team on its way to the SEC championship game.

Auburn: Showed it still has a long way to go to catch the SEC powers. The tone was set with an opening drive that stalled just shy of the end zone – and another one that did the same just before the half. The bright spot: Both losses have been to Top 10 opponents.

RED ZONE

Georgia did trail for the first time this season, if only 3-0 after the game’s first drive. The Bulldogs, who have thrived in red zone defense, allowed scores in two of three trips by Auburn, but one was a field goal.

“We have a mind-set on defense: Nobody in the end zone,” Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis said. “We preach that every week.”

SMOKED

Auburn safety Smoke Monday was called for targeting against Georgia for the second straight year. This one was for a head-on hit on a scrambling Bennett on the opening play of the second quarter near the goal line. He missed the second half of both games.

POLL IMPLICATION

Auburn could fall out of the rankings with its second loss.

UP NEXT Georgia hosts No. 16 Kentucky, which entered the weekend as the only other unbeaten SEC East team.

Auburn visits No. 13 Arkansas, an 52-51 loser at No. 17 Mississippi, in an SEC West showdown.

No. 3 TCU loses 31-28 in OT to K-State in Big 12 title game

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Ty Zentner kicked a 31-yard field goal in overtime as 13th-ranked Kansas State beat No. 3 TCU 31-28 in the Big 12 championship game Saturday, leaving the Horned Frogs to wait another day to find out if they had already done enough to get into the four-team College Football Playoff.

The Wildcats set up the winning field goal after TCU (12-1) had the opening possession of overtime and Kendre Miller was stopped short on consecutive plays from inside the 1.

Deuce Vaughn ran for 130 yards and a touchdown and Will Howard threw two TDs for the Wildcats (10-3, No. 10 CFP), who six weeks earlier had jumped out to a 28-10 lead early in the second quarter before TCU scored the game’s last 28 points.

That was one of five games the Horned Frogs (12-1, No. 3 CFP) won when trailing after halftime. But they couldn’t do it again with the chance to guarantee being the first Big 12 team other than Oklahoma to make the playoff.

TCU, the first Big 12 team to complete a regular season undefeated since Texas in 2009, could still get into the playoff. While their case was helped when fourth-ranked Southern California (11-2) lost 47-24 to Utah in the Pac-12 championship game Friday night, the Frogs now have to wait until the final CFP rankings come out Sunday.

Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark said before the game that TCU, with first-year coach Sonny Dykes, already deserved to be in the playoff.

“You look at their strength of schedule. You think about how they’ve performed all year long,” Yormark said. “I think regardless, they should be in, for sure.”

No. 4 USC falls to Utah in Pac-12 Championship, damaging playoff hopes

Utah vs. USC
USA Today
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LAS VEGAS — No. 12 Utah pounded a limping, bloodied Caleb Williams and roared past No. 4 Southern California 47-24 on Friday night to win the Pac-12 Championship and put USC’s College Football Playoff hopes in doubt.

The loss by the Trojans (11-2) could open the way for Ohio State (11-1) to take their spot in the playoffs. USC is fourth in the CFP rankings, the Buckeyes are one step behind.

Ohio State had to be Utah’s biggest fan. The Buckeyes move up in playoff consideration, with 12-0 Michigan at No. 2 with the Big Ten championship game on Saturday, that would give the Big Ten conference two playoff teams for the first time. It also would extend the Pac-12′s playoff drought — Washington in 2017 is the last team from that conference to make the playoffs.

Utah (10-3) is heading to the Rose Bowl, but the Utes already were going there regardless of the outcome of the title game. They are responsible for USC’s only losses, having edged the Trojans 43-42 on Oct. 15 in Salt Lake City.

The Utes rolled up 533 yards of offense in the rematch, and Cam Rising passed for 310 yards and three touchdowns.

Williams threw for 363 yards and three TDs. He entered the game as the leading Heisman Trophy candidate, but wasn’t the same after getting injured in the first quarter.

The Trojans looked as if they were going to run away with the game, taking a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter behind some stellar play by Williams.

He appeared to hurt his left knee or leg in the first quarter on a 59-yard run in which he took a big hit at the end, and he suffered a bad cut on the pinky finger of his throwing hand. He spent most of the game limping, and wasn’t the same after a sterling first quarter in which the Trojans outgained Utah in total yards 194-70, and Williams had both touchdown passes.

After USC failed to pick up a fourth-and-8 from Utah’s 37-yard line, the Utes scored two touchdowns in the final 3:55 of the first half, and suddenly the game was tied at 17. Instead of a rout, the game was beginning to look like the shootout the Utes won in October.

The game took on that tone at times in the second half, but USC had no answer for how to slow down Utah, which outscored the Trojans 44-7 in overcoming that two-touchdown deficit.

ATTENDANCE RECORD

A announced sellout crowd of 61,195 made this the largest for a neutral-site Pac-12 Championship. It beat the previous record of 58,476 fans. who watched Southern California-Stanford in Santa Clara, California, in 2015.