No. 3 Georgia dominates No. 2 Michigan, 34-11

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — With one overwhelming half at the Orange Bowl, No. 3 Georgia showed that a humbling loss to Alabama did not break the Bulldogs.

In fact, it might have made them even stronger.

Stetson Bennett threw three touchdown passes, Nakobe Dean led an angry defense and Georgia returned to its dominant ways, beating No. 2 Michigan 34-11 on Friday night to advance to the College Football Playoff championship.

Georgia (13-1) earned a rematch with Southeastern Conference nemesis Alabama (13-1) in the title game Jan. 10 in Indianapolis.

It was a little less than a month ago the Crimson Tide rolled through the Bulldogs, shattering their air of invincibility after a 12-0 regular season in which they were hardly challenged.

If there was any question about whether the damage from that 41-24 setback would linger, the Bulldogs answered them quickly.

Georgia became the first team in the eight-year history of the CFP to score on each of its first five possessions and led 27-3 at halftime.

Michigan (12-2) entered its first playoff appearance off a milestone season, having ended a long drought against rival Ohio State on the way to winning the Big Ten.

“Let’er rip,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh told ESPN moments before kickoff.

The Bulldogs most certainly did, playing like a team out to prove a point.

Georgia scored touchdowns the first two times it had the ball, moving it at will against Heisman Trophy runner-up Aidan Hutchinson and the Michigan defense.

Bennett found freshman tight end Brock Bowers free in the flats for an 8-yard touchdown pass to cap an 80-yard opening drive.

Georgia grabbed a two-touchdown lead, hitting Michigan with some of the trickery the Wolverines have used so well this season. Tailback Kenny McIntosh swept to the right and let loose a perfect pass to Adonai Mitchell for an 18-yard TD that made it 14-0 less than five minutes into the game.

The Wolverines had rolled to their first Big Ten championship since 2004 without trailing by as many as seven points this season.

The Bulldogs tacked on field goals on their next two possessions and Bennett connected on a 57-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Burton streaking down the sideline to make it 27-3 with 1:38 left in the half.

And that was was pretty much that. The Bulldogs dominated in every way, outgaining the Wolverines 330-101 in the first 30 minutes.

The Georgia defense that was setting an historic pace, allowing less than a touchdown per game, before getting shredded by Alabama, smothered a Michigan offense built to bully opponents.

The Bulldogs were having none of that.

Dean, the Butkus Award-winning linebacker, was diagnosing plays before the snap and chasing down ball carriers from sideline to sideline.

Massive nose tackle Jordan Davis was collapsing the middle of a Michigan offensive line that won the Joe Moore Award as the best in the country.

Cornerback Derion Kendrick has two interceptions and was the defensive player of the game.

The Wolverines finished with 88 yards rushing after coming in averaging 223 per game. Cade McNamara was 11 for 19 for 106 yards passing.

Simply, it was no contest and now the Bulldogs will get a shot at redemption against Alabama, trying to win their first national title since 1980.

All the stands in the way is the most accomplished dynasty in the history of college football, the rivalry that Georgia coach Kirby Smart, a longtime Nick Saban assistant at Alabama, has tried to model his program after.

Georgia opened as 2 1/2-point favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

THE TAKEAWAY

Georgia: There were plenty of questions about whether Bennett should remain the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback after he threw two interceptions against Alabama. Georgia fans wondered if it was time to make the switch back to USC transfer JT Daniels, who was QB1 to start the season before an injury opened the door for Bennett.

The former walk-on completed his first nine passes against Michigan on the way to 307 yards and showed more than enough arm strength on a 53-yard bomb to James Cook in the second quarter. Bennett was named offensive MVP.

Michigan: The 2021 season will provide plenty for the Wolverines to look back upon fondly. The Orange Bowl showed that closing the gap on Ohio State is one thing, but there are two teams currently at the top of college football in an entirely different class as the rest.

UP NEXT

Georgia: The Bulldogs will face Alabama for the second time in the CFP title game. The Bulldogs have lost seven straight against the Tide, including the 2017 championship game in overtime.

Michigan: The Wolverines open the 2022 season at home against Colorado State.

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.