Najee Harris caught three touchdown passes and ran for two more scores Saturday night as No. 1 Alabama secured its place in the College Football Playoff semifinals with a 52-46 win over No. 7 Florida in the Southeastern Conference championship game in Atlanta.
Harris ran for 178 yards on 31 carries while catching five passes for 67 yards. Mac Jones completed 33 of 43 passes for 418 yards and five touchdowns with one interception, and DeVonta Smith added 15 catches for 184 yards with two scores.
Despite those gaudy numbers, the Crimson Tide couldn’t relax until the very end. The Gators (8-3) sliced a 35-17 halftime deficit to 35-31 in the third quarter as Kyle Trask hit Trevon Grimes for a 50-yard scoring strike and Nay’Quan Wright added a 3-yard touchdown run.
But Harris put the Crimson Tide (11-0) up by two scores with 11:29 left in the fourth quarter with a 1-yard scoring plunge that saw him land on the back of a defender and extend the ball just across the goal line’s plane. He was ruled short of the goal line, but the call was overturned after review.
No. 3 Clemson 34, No. 2 Notre Dame 10
Trevor Lawrence passed for 322 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a third score as the Tigers claimed their sixth consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference title with a romp against the Fighting Irish.
Clemson improved to 10-1 and became just the third team in FBS history two win 10 or more games for 10 consecutive seasons. Notre Dame (10-1), playing in the first conference championship game in program history, suffered its first loss of the season.
The Tigers essentially wrapped up a berth into the College Football Playoff, giving Clemson a chance to win its third national title in five years. Given Clemson’s margin of victory, Notre Dame’s CFP hopes may be in question heading into Selection Sunday. The Tigers’ victory avenged a 47-40 defeat in double-overtime at Notre Dame on Nov. 7, a game in which Lawrence was unavailable while recovering from COVID-19.
No. 4 Ohio State 22, No. 14 Northwestern 10
Trey Sermon set team and Big Ten Championship Game records with 331 rushing yards as the Buckeyes rallied to defeat the Wildcats in Indianapolis.
Ohio State (6-0) trailed 10-6 at the half but won its fourth straight conference title when Sermon had touchdown runs of 9 yards to take a 13-10 lead in the third quarter and 3 yards with four minutes left for the final margin against the Wildcats (6-2).
With quarterback Justin Fields struggling, Sermon took over and rushed for 271 yards in the second half. He finished with 29 carries. Fields finished 12-of-27 passing for 114 yards with two interceptions. Northwestern’s Peyton Ramsey was 24-of-37 passing for 224 yards and two picks.
No. 5 Texas A&M 34, Tennessee 13
Kellen Mond passed for one touchdown, ran for another and gained 340 yards of total offense, and Ainias Smith added two touchdowns to boost the College Football Playoff hopeful Aggies to a victory against the host Volunteers in Knoxville.
The Aggies (8-1, 8-1 SEC) answered an early touchdown from the Volunteers by scoring 17 consecutive points en route to their seventh consecutive victory. Mond was 26-for-32 passing for 281 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He rushed 12 times for 59 yards and a score, and along with Isaiah Spiller (26 carries for 89 yards), helped the Aggies control the ball for 44:09 — above their season average of 36:50.
Volunteers leading rusher Eric Gray was unavailable for the game, and Tennessee was outgained, 497 to 213. Ty Chandler paced Tennessee with 31 yards on seven carries.
No. 9 Cincinnati 27, No. 23 Tulsa 24
Cole Smith made a 34-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Bearcats to a victory over the visiting Golden Hurricane in the American Athletic Conference championship game.
Desmond Ridder, who threw for a touchdown and rushed for another, answered the Golden Hurricane’s tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter by marching the Bearcats down the field. The AAC Offensive Player of the Year finished with 269 passing yards and a team-leading 83 rushing yards to help the Bearcats (9-0) avenge a loss to Memphis in the 2019 conference title game.
Jaxon Player blocked a field-goal attempt by Cincinnati to keep it a one-score game with just over six minutes to play. Sam Crawford Jr. reeled in a 54-yard catch and JuanCarlos Santana had a 13-yard score to knot the score at 24 for the Golden Hurricane (6-2).
No. 10 Oklahoma 27, No. 6 Iowa State 21
Tre Brown’s interception on the final Cyclones’ drive helped seal a victory for the Sooners in the Big 12 Championship Game in Arlington, Texas.
Spencer Rattler threw for 272 yards and one touchdown, while adding a rushing score for Oklahoma (8-2). Rhamondre Stevenson added 97 yards on the ground.
Brock Purdy put up 322 yards and a touchdown through the air, but hurt Iowa State (8-3) with three interceptions, including the game-ender to Brown. Running back Breece Hall was also held to a season-low 79 rushing yards.
No. 24 San Jose State 34, Boise State 20
Nick Starkel threw three touchdown passes and set a conference title game record with 453 passing yards to lead the Spartans to a victory over the Broncos in the Mountain West championship game at Las Vegas.
Tre Walker caught seven passes for 137 yards and a touchdown for the Spartans (7-0), who prevailed in the program’s first-ever championship game appearance. Isaiah Hamilton and Derrick Deese Jr. also caught touchdown passes from Starkel, who completed 32 of 52 passes and surpassed the conference title-game record of 404 yards set by former Fresno State star Derek Carr in 2013.
Matt Mercurio kicked four goals as San Jose State opened a season with seven straight wins for the first time since the school’s 1939 squad went unbeaten in 13 contests. The victory also marks San Jose State’s first win over the Broncos (5-2) in 15 all-time meetings.
–Field Level Media