Conference championship weekend gave teams a chance to not only win a trophy but to make a lasting impression ahead of the final College Football Playoff rankings of the season. Before the CFP top 25 and selections are announced on Sunday, catch up on the drama here:
TCU avoided danger seemingly every week and almost did it again in the Big 12 title game. But K-State came through with a goal-line stand in OT and gave the Frogs their first loss in a 31-28 game. TCU, ranked No. 3 in the CFP rankings, now has to wait to see if it will drop.
Kansas State led by 11 in the fourth quarter before TCU QB Max Duggan — a Heisman hopeful — came up clutch. With his team down eight late, Duggan drove TCU 80 yards on eight plays. Runs of 15, 13, 19, 40 and eight shocked the Wildcats before a two-point conversion tied the game. Duggan finished with 251 passing yards and 110 rushing yards.
However, Kansas State stopped TCU near the goal line in overtime and then won it on a 31-yard Ty Zentner field goal. The Wildcats also got two passing scores from QB Will Howard and 130 rushing yards and a touchdown from Deuce Vaughn to win the Big 12 for the first time since 2012 (co-champ).
For the second time this season, Utah beat Southern California. This time, it was for the Pac-12 Championship and likely the end of USC's playoff dreams. USC entered clinging to the fourth and final spot in the semifinals at No. 4.
The Utes have now won back-to-back conference titles after cruising to a 47-24 victory on Friday.
The Trojans entered the second quarter with 14-3 lead, but it did not last long. Utah outscored USC 44-10 thereafter as USC QB Caleb Williams was hobbled with a leg injury. The Trojans struggled to keep drives alive, going 1-12 on third down conversions (3-5 on fourth down).
FINAL STATS: How Utah upset USC — by the numbers
Defensively, Utah crushed the Trojans with seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss. On offense, Utah QB Cameron Rising threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns.
Battling that injury most of the game, Williams still passed for 363 yards and three touchdowns.
No. 1 Georgia defeated No. 14 LSU 50-30 to win the SEC Championship game. The Bulldogs move to 13-0 and likely secure the top seed in the College Football Playoff.
Stetson Bennett becomes the oldest starting quarterback to win an SEC Championship at 25, completing 23-29 passes for 274 yards and four touchdowns. Georgia's 50 points are the second most points scored by the Bulldogs this season.
The Bulldogs break out the trickeration to hit 50. pic.twitter.com/JNwFPUBjWv— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 4, 2022
Georgia's defense limited LSU to just 47 rushing yards, but did allow 502 passing yards, with both the starting and backup Tiger quarterbacks throwing for over 200 yards.
Purdue may have taken a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter thanks to a late touchdown in the first before a field goal, but field goals quickly became all the Boilermakers could muster as Michigan quickly ran away for the 43-22 final.
Coming out of halftime with just a 14-13 lead, the Wolverines forced their way through the Purdue defense for two touchdowns on their first two drives of the second half.
Donovan Edwards was clutch as his 60-yard rush on the first offensive play of the half set Michigan up deep in Purdue territory before Kalel Mullings finished off the drive with a one-yard score. After forcing a quick three-and-out, the Wolverines made light work of the next drive as J.J. McCarthy hit Luke Schoonmaker for a 40-yard completion before Edwards capped off the drive with a 27-yard rush into the endzone.
McCarthy wasn't overly busy, going 11-of-17 through the air for 161 yards, three touchdowns and a pick. Edwards finished his monstrous game with 185 rushing yards and the one touchdown, while Mullings added a second score on the ground for some late insurance.
Purdue QB Aidan O'Connell (32-for-47, 366 yards, 2 INT) had a strong connection with Charlie Jones (13 catches, 162 yards), but it was no use.
Phenom quarterback Drake Maye may have opened the scoring in this one with a three-yard rush in the first quarter, but the good vibes were short-lived for UNC as Clemson rolled right along to a 39-10 victory for another ACC crown.
It was all the Tigers from there as three-straight touchdowns opened it up to a 21-7 lead in short order before the Tar Heels could find an answer with a field goal to cut it to 21-10. Clemson countered right away with a 52-yard field goal before two more touchdowns to close out the game, including a 98-yard pick-six for Nate Wiggins to put the game firmly out of reach.
Tigers freshman quarterback Cade Klubnik, who took over for DJ Uiagalelei, went 20-for-24 through the air for 279 yards and a touchdown, adding 30 yards and another score on the ground. Running backs Will Shipley and Phil Mafah also added touchdowns for Clemson.
Maye was busy in the sputtering UNC offense as the redshirt frosh attempted 42 passes (26 completed) with 268 yards, two picks and a lost fumble.
The Green Wave took a 10-0 lead out of the first quarter, and never looked back as they rolled to a 45-28 win over the Knights for their first AAC title, avenging their 38-31 loss to UCF earlier this season.
UCF pulled within 10-7 in the second quarter, thanks to a five-yard rush from Xavier Townsend, but Tulane answered immediately on the next drive when Michael Pratt connected with Lawrence Keys III on a 43-yard bomb for the score.
That play wasn't even the most explosive for the Green Wave, though, as Pratt added 73-yard and 60-yard touchdown passes in the fourth quarter after Tyjae Spears ran one in from 60 yards in the third.
That 60-yard pass to Shae Wyatt (110 yards, 2 TDs) from Pratt proved to be key insurance for Tulane after a 49-yard pass from running back RJ Harvey to Kobe Hutson and a 10-yard rush from Isaiah Bowser cut it to 31-28 in the fourth. Pratt added an 18-yard score on the ground late for good measure.
He finished the day with 442 total yards and five total touchdowns. Spears ran for 199 yards and a touchdown, while Deuce Watts caught three passes for 134 yards and a score.
Tulane made it look easy, even after losing the turnover battle as UCF recovered two Green Wave fumbles and came up with a pick on Pratt.