College football / Top 25 roundup
No. 10 Michigan State 34, No. 2 Ohio State 24
Connor Cook was determined to shake things up in the Big Ten title game.
By the end of the night, the sophomore quarterback's teammates were bouncing up and down right along with him.
Michigan State rallied from a seven-point third-quarter deficit by scoring the final 17 points Saturday night to upset Ohio State and deny the Buckeyes a chance to play for the BCS national championship.
Cook and the Spartans were more than happy to oblige.
"I think we heard people talk bad about us all year. This wasn't the first week where we heard people say negative things about us as an offense or as a football team, Cook said after throwing a 9-yard TD pass with 11:41 left to give the Spartans a 27-24 lead. "I think we were underdogs in the majority of the games we played this year. It really didn't affect us."
But the Spartans' big win may prove costly in the league's bigger picture.
A win would have made No. 2 Ohio State (12-1) a virtual lock to play in its fourth BCS title game, and there was speculation the Spartans (12-1) might go to Pasadena anyway for the Rose Bowl, regardless of Saturday night's result. Instead, the Spartans are still likely to book their first Rose Bowl trip since the 1987 season, while the Buckeyes must wait until Sunday night to find out which bowl they'll play in — and whether they'll play in a BCS game.
Michigan State's victory put Auburn, who the Buckeyes were rooting for last week against Alabama, in the title game against Florida State.
To the Buckeyes, it was a deflating night.
"You know it's going to haunt all of us, I imagine, for a little while," Meyer said. "But that's part of the game."
It was a game that almost defied logic.
Ohio State came into the game with the nation's longest winning streak (24), had not lost under Meyer in two seasons and had one of the nation's most productive offenses and underrated defenses.
Michigan State turned the conventional wisdom upside down by scoring the first 17 points. Then the nation's stingiest defense gave up the next 24 points as Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde & Co. took command.
Cook responded to the challenge by driving the Spartans for a field goal, hooking up with the wide open Josiah Price in the flat of the end zone and then burned 3½ critical minutes on the clinching drive, capped by Jeremy Langford's sealing 26-yard TD run.
Cook finished 24 of 40 for a career-high 304 yards and three scores. Langford ran 24 times for 128 yards, becoming the first player this season to top 100 yards against the Buckeyes this season.
For Michigan State, it was a milestone night. It won its 12th game for the first time in school history, completed a perfect conference season and extended its own winning streak to nine — something it had not done since starting 1966 at 9-0.
Most important, the players got to hold the roses for the first time since 1987 and the celebration began even before the final seconds ticked off the clock.
"We're going to live this one for a while, live it for a month," coach Mark Dantonio said. "But it's important that we finish what we started and that will end with a bowl game."
Miller did what he could to rally the Buckeyes, finishing 8 of 21 for 101 yards with one touchdown pass. He also ran 21 times for 142 yards and two scores, while Carlos Hyde ran 18 times for 118 yards. Both joined the Buckeyes' 3,000-yard club, becoming the seventh and eight players of the school's exclusive group.
The Buckeyes did that late in the first half when they closed to 17-10 at halftime. Miller opened the second half with an 8-yard TD run to tie and then gave Ohio State the 24-17 lead with a 6-yard run with 5:36 left in the third.
Michigan State answered with Michael Geiger's 44-yard field goal, which barely dropped over the crossbar, to make it 24-20 and Cook hooked up with a wide-open Price in the flat to make it 27-24 before Langford sealed it with his TD run with 2:16 left, which prompted Dantonio to lobby for the Spartans to be playing in the title game Jan. 6.
"I can tell you this, we beat the No. 2 team.," Dantonio said. "We're 12-1 so why not us? Why not us? I'll vote us No. 2."
No. 3 Auburn 59, No. 5 Missouri 42
Tre Mason ran for 304 yards and four touchdowns, leading Auburn to a wild victory over Missouri in the Southeastern Conference championship game.
Auburn (12-1) is likely headed to the BCS championship game after Michigan State beat Ohio State. The Tigers are likely headed to Pasadena to face top-ranked Florida State, which routed Duke 45-7 in the Atlantic Coast Championship game.
Auburn set an SEC championship game record with 677 yards, including 545 on the ground. Mason had scoring runs of 7, 3 and 1 yards before bursting up the middle on a 13-yard TD that clinched the victory with 4:22 remaining. He carried the ball a staggering 46 times, even striking a Heisman pose on a night when his long-shot candidacy got a huge boost.
Auburn finally stopped Missouri on fourth-and-1 deep in its own territory, setting up Mason's final score. Chris Davis broke up the pass, not quite as thrilling as his 109-yard return of a missed field goal to beat Alabama, but another huge play for the nation's biggest turnaround team.
Auburn, which was 3-9 a year ago and didn't win a game in the SEC, claimed the title in its first year under coach Gus Malzahn. The Tigers didn't even need a dramatic finish to do it, holding Missouri scoreless in the final quarter while Mason notched two more TDs to break open a game that was close most of the way.
Missouri (11-2) had its own impressive bounce-back after struggling its first year in the SEC. But coach Gary Pinkel's team was denied a quick championship in its new league after leaving the Big 12.
No. 1 Florida State 45, No. 20 Duke 7
Jameis Winston threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score, and Florida State stormed into the BCS national championship game with a victory over Duke in the ACC championship game.
The Heisman Trophy favorite was 19 of 32 for 330 yards and set FBS freshman records for TD passes and yards passing in a season two days after prosecutors decided not to press charges against him in a sexual assault case. Winston threw two touchdown passes to 6-foot-5, 234-pound receiver Kelvin Benjamin and ran for a 17-yard score to overcome two interceptions.
Florida State's defense was dominant, holding Duke (10-3) to 239 yards and forcing three turnovers to help the Seminoles (13-0) win their second straight ACC title.
It was Florida State's 12th win by at least 27 points. The Seminoles entered as 29-point favorites after outscoring its opponents by an average of 43 points.
Florida State outgained Duke 569-239.
No. 7 Stanford 38, No. 11 Arizona State 14
Tyler Gaffney ran for 133 yards and scored three touchdowns in a dominating first half, leading Stanford back to the Rose Bowl with a victory over Arizona State in the Pac-12 title game.
Stanford (11-2) raced to a big lead Sept. 21 in its first game with Arizona State this season and had its way with the Sun Devils again early in the rematch, building a 28-7 lead early in the second quarter. Gaffney did most of the damage, scoring on a 69-yard run on the Cardinal's second play and a pair of 1-yard runs.
Stanford consistently gouged Arizona State for big plays, racking up 517 yards to earn a shot at repeating as Rose Bowl champion. Kevin Hogan threw for 277 yards and a touchdown, Ty Montgomery scored two touchdowns and Stanford held Arizona State to 311 total yards to earn a spot in a BCS bowl for the fourth straight season.
Arizona State (10-3) stumbled early for the second straight game against the Cardinal and never really recovered to spoil its Rose Bowl hopes. D.J. Foster accounted for 142 total yards and two touchdowns for the Sun Devils, who will likely play in the Holiday or Alamo Bowl instead of making their first trip to Pasadena since 1997.
No. 9 Baylor 30, No. 23 Texas 10
Petty threw touchdown passes on the first two drives of the second half for Baylor and the Bears won their first Big 12 title and a Fiesta Bowl berth.
The final game in Baylor's old stadium became a de facto Big 12 championship game after No. 6 Oklahoma State lost to Oklahome just before they kicked off in Waco.
Baylor (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) had never even had a winning record in the Big 12 before coach Art Briles arrived six years ago. Now the Bears have their first 11-win season and their first outright title in any league since the 1980 Southwest Conference title when Mike Singletary called Floyd Casey Stadium home.
Petty threw for 287 yards, with TDs to Antwan Goodley and Levi Norwood after a 3-3 halftime tie.
Malcolm Brown ran for 131 yards for Texas (8-4, 7-2).
Texas coach Mack Brown made joking references all week about being the only coach in America playing for a conference championship while also shrugging off speculation that he could be replaced. Well, the intense speculation about Brown's future is certain to increase now.
No. 18 Oklahoma 33, No. 6 Oklahoma State 24
Blake Bell threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Saunders with 19 seconds left to help Oklahoma spoil rival Oklahoma State's Big 12 championship and bowl game hopes.
Bell, playing in place of an injured Trevor Knight, led the Sooners (10-2, 7-2 Big 12) on the winning 66-yard drive — going 5 of 8 for 57 yards.
Eric Striker ended the game by recovering a fumble for a touchdown for Oklahoma.
Desmond Roland led No. 6 Oklahoma State (10-2, 7-2) with 144 yards rushing and accounted for three touchdowns. The Cowboys, who were trying to win their second Big 12 title in three seasons, appeared to have their spot in a BCS bowl game secured when Roland scored on a 1-yard run with 1:46 left for a 24-20 lead.
Bell, however, had other plans. The junior capped the drive with his touchdown pass to Saunders in the corner of the end zone of a frigid Boone Pickens Stadium. The touchdown came just five plays after Oklahoma State appeared to once again secure the win with an interception by Justin Gilbert, but the cornerback was unable to keep the ball from hitting the turf.
No. 15 Central Florida 17, SMU 13
Blake Bortles threw for 242 yards and ran for two touchdowns and UCF celebrated a BCS bid already in hand by rallying to beat SMU in front of just a few hundred fans who braved an ice storm.
With the school's first BCS berth secured with Louisville's win at Cincinnati on Thursday night, the Knights were sluggish before recovering for a school-record eighth straight win and the outright title in the first year of the American Athletic Conference.
UCF (11-1, 8-0 AAC) has both of the 34-year-old program's 11-win seasons in the past four years. The Knights went 11-3 in 2010 and beat Georgia in the Liberty Bowl.
SMU (5-7, 4-4) saw its record bowl streak end at four seasons in the coldest home game in school history — 24 degrees at kickoff.
The wintry blast that virtually shut down the Dallas-Fort Worth area Friday prompted officials to offer free admission. It didn't help much, with fewer than 1,000 fans showing up for the game — far short of the announced attendance of 12,598.
No. 24 Fresno State 24, Utah State 17
Derek Carr threw for 403 yards and three touchdowns, and Fresno State's defense bounced back from a rough performance to help the Bulldogs beat Utah State in the inaugural Mountain West conference title game.
Carr was far from his best against the stingy defense from Utah State (8-5), matching his career worst with two interceptions. But it was the much-maligned defense that stepped up for a change, giving the Bulldogs (11-1) their first outright conference title since winning the Big West in 1989.
One week after being completely overmatched in a 62-52 loss at San Jose State that dashed any hopes of a BCS bid, Fresno State's defense responded with one of its best performances of the season.
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