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Championship Weekend Recap: Chalk Reigns in Entertaining Games

The favorites won in their championship games, but most of the games were absolutely entertaining.

NCAA Football: Big 12 Championship-Texas vs Oklahoma Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

#11 Washington Huskies 10, #17 Utah Utes 3

The MVP naturally went to Byron Murphy. He had the play of the game and Washington’s only defensive touchdown of the season on what I’m sure will be dubbed the “immaculate interception 2.0”. He had a second interception later in the half and broke up the final play of the game on Utah’s 4th and long desperation pass which would have been completed if he wasn’t there. That’s Washington’s 2nd DB winning the MVP award in this game (Taylor Rapp in 2016). Backups or not, holding to Utah to under 100 yards rushing is a huge feat. All in all, they mustered 51 yards on the ground compared to 119 for the Dawgs.

I am going to keep this one short... The Utah Utes fell 10-3 to the Washington Huskies in the Pac-12 Championship game. The Utah defense made key stop after key stop, but the offense played their worst game in the Pac-12 era. Utah managed no points in the first half and only scored on a 53-yard Matt Gay field goal in the second half. The offense was without Tyler Huntley, Zack Moss, and Britain Covey who injured his knee on the second half kickoff. T.J. Green was also limited with an illness. Missing that much talent was killer for Utah against Washington’s elite defense.

#1 Alabama Crimson Tide 35, #4 Georgia Bulldogs 28

Shut up. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

This team played horribly for most of the game, but it is a special group. And Jalen...

Hollywood couldn’t make this up.

Oh, and thanks to Kirby for the dumbest coaching decision in recent memory.

Talk amongst yourselves, hopefully Tua is OK, I got nothing else.

Roll Tide.

Welp. It happened again.

Georgia sputtered down the stretch after Alabama made a change at quarterback, losing to the Crimson Tide in the final moments in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Nick Saban’s squad pulled off the biggest comeback in SEC Championship Game history, storming back from 14 points down and scoring the final 21 points to take a 35-28 win. In the end Georgia didn’t finish. The defense ran out of gas down the stretch. The offense didn’t execute when it mattered most. And the coaches made a special teams decision that Kirby Smart better be prepared to talk about for years to come. Jalen Hurts, like Tua Tagovailoa 327 days ago did just enough when it mattered most. There’s not a lot more to say about what just happened.

#2 Clemson Tigers 42, Pittsburgh Panthers 10

Pitt won the toss and deferred. Clemson started at the 25 after the kickoff went out of the end zone. Travis Etienne did what he is a threat to do every time he has the ball in his hands. He took the handoff and went 75 yards for the score. Thirteen seconds in, the Tigers led 7-0

There was one sequence of a false start, delay of game, followed by a timeout, followed by a false start. And after the opening kickoff of the third quarter, Pitt was forced to call a timeout to avoid a delay of game penalty. I mean, that sort of stuff is just inexcusable. This isn’t Pop Warner. Get it together. Season opener? Okay, maybe you get bizarre stuff like that. But when you’re doing it in championship games it’s kind of ridiculous and the coaches, as they should have been in other games where Pitt has been heavily penalized, should just be kind of embarrassed.

#5 Oklahoma Sooners 39, #14 Texas Longhorns 27

A lack of movement by the offensive line didn’t help, either, as a group that dominated Oklahoma for long stretches in the Cotton Bowl couldn’t open up many holes for the Texas running backs. Graduate transfer Tre Watson and freshman Keontay Ingram combined to average 2.7 yards per attempt in gaining only 36 yards on 17 carries.

The issues negated a monster game from junior wide receiver Johnson, who set a Big 12 Championship Game record with 177 receiving yards, surpassing the previous mark held by Oklahoma’s Malcolm Kelly, who had racked up 142 receiving yards against Nebraska in 2006. However, the Sooners committed more bodies to defend Johnson late in the game and it paid off for McNeil.

The start for Texas was much better than the finish.

#6 Ohio State Buckeyes 45, #21 Northwestern Wildcats 24

Northwestern turned the ball over three times, with two of them being interceptions. Damon Arnette and Shaune Wade tallied the picks, while Chase Young forced the fumble. Ohio State turned the ball over twice, with Haskins throwing an interception and Weber fumbling the ball. None of the Buckeye turnovers led to NU points, though.

For the Buckeyes, it’s now their second conference title in as many years, and their third win in Indianapolis in five years. With the win, the worst-case scenario for Ohio State’s postseason fate is the Rose Bowl. On Sunday at noon ET, the College Football Playoff committee will decide who the four playoff teams will be. But before we get there, let’s take a look at OSU’s huge win inside Lucas Oil Stadium.

Down 17 at the half, Northwestern pulled within three late in the third quarter, but Haskins tossed two crucial second half touchdowns as a part of a 499-yard, 5-touchdown evening. He broke the Big Ten Championship game record for passing yards, completions and touchdowns. OSU receivers ran wild through the thin Wildcat secondary all night; Northwestern was without the services of Trae Williams for Saturday’s contest, and Montre Hartage, Jared McGee and Cam Ruiz missed a couple drives as well.

After a lifeless first half, Northwestern’s offense ripped off three scoring drives early in the second half. Clayton Thorson finished 27-of-44 for 267 yards, but tossed two interceptions and lost a fumble as well. The Wildcats were nipping at OSU’s heels all night, but never quite caught up.

#8 UCF Knights 56, Memphis Tigers 41

The longest winning streak in the nation got a scare, but was extended to 25 when UCF knocked off Memphis in the AAC Championship game, 56-41.

Memphis came out hot with a 24-7 first quarter, and things looked bleak for UCF with starting quarterback McKenzie Milton out with a gruesome knee injury suffered against USF. After the teams had an equal 14-14 frame in the second quarter, UCF needed some kind of a spark, which they got.

Early on, it looked as if the emotions of not having their leader would sink any chances of UCF’s 25th straight victory. “We didn’t get off to the best start, but our guys are resilient. I’m proud of the way those guys bought in all year along and it paid off tonight,” said UCF head coach Josh Heupel

The Knights came into the American championship game with the 112th ranked run defense in all of FBS football. The unit had their hands full trying to stop two of the conference’s most elite backs in Darrell Henderson and Patrick Taylor Jr. looked like men on a mission.

Other scores

#25 Fresno State Bulldogs 19, #22 Boise State Broncos 16

Fresno State avenges their 24-17 loss to the Broncos as Ronnie Rivers scored on a 1-yard touchdown run in overtime.

UAB Blazers 27, Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 25

The UAB Blazers, who shut down their football program in 2014 and only reinstated it in 2016 won their first Conference USA championship.

Northern Illinois Huskes 30, Buffalo Bulls 29

The Huskies rallied from 19 points down and took a lead on a Marcus Childers touchdown pass that upset the 10-win Bulls to give the Huskies a conference championship.

Appalachian State Mountaineers 30, Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns 19

App State captures its first ever outright Sun Belt Conference crown as the Mountaineers continue to be dominant as they’ve transitioned from FCS to FBS.