TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida coach Will Muschamp doesn’t have any doubt where his team’s next stop should be: Miami for the BCS championship game on Jan. 7.
And the sixth-ranked Gators made a strong case for consideration Saturday by crushing archrival Florida State.
Mike Gillislee ran for two touchdowns and Florida scored 24 straight points in a span of less than nine minutes in the fourth quarter to keep its national title hopes alive with a convincing win over the 10th-ranked Seminoles.
“We have a really tough football team,” Muschamp said he left the field for Florida’s locker room. “We should be playing for the national championship.”
Florida (11-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) came into the game fourth in the BCS standings, and could find itself in position to earn a spot in the national championship game if No. 1 Notre Dame loses to Southern California. The Gators lone loss was in late October to third-ranked Georgia, and it will keep them out of the SEC title game.
“Hopefully we can sneak in,” said Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel, who completed 15 of 23 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown. “We’re a resilient team.”
He’s not likely to get any argument from Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, who hoped a victory over the Gators would not only persuade pollsters that the Seminoles belonged among the elite, but win some positive attention for the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“They controlled the line of scrimmage up front,” Fisher said. “They have a very good team. They did a great job.”
The game matching two of the nation’s best defenses went back and forth with the Seminoles scoring 20 unanswered points to take a 20-13 lead late in the third quarter. They wouldn’t score again until the final play of the game and victory out of reach.
No. 4 Ohio State beats Michigan
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The only thing Urban Meyer lost during his first season at Ohio State was his cool — at the end of the last game.
Carlos Hyde ran for 146 yards and the fourth-ranked Buckeyes’ defense shut out No. 20 Michigan in the second half to grab a bruising 26-21 win on Saturday, completing an improbable 12-0 season for the Buckeyes.
Meyer got emotional as the final seconds ticked off, embracing his players on the sideline at a raucous Ohio Stadium. Too emotional, he said later.
“I’ve got to keep a little more composure, I guess,” he said sheepishly. “In the coaching manual, I think it’s chapter 13, it says, `Keep cool.’ I lost it there for a couple of minutes.”
Well, give the guy a break.
Almost no one — up to and including Meyer — expected such a rapid turnaround for the Buckeyes, who were just 6-7 last season with a loss to their archrivals in a transitional year when they were facing heavy NCAA penalties. A month after Meyer took the job last November, they were socked with a bowl ban after this season — and still ran the table.
“You get all the wins you can, especially against the Team Up North, especially at home on top of that,” said exuberant Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller.
Ohio State (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten) is ineligible for a BCS national title but still has an outside shot at finishing No. 1 in the final Associated Press Top 25 if other contenders lose. Michigan (8-4, 6-2) will now await a minor bowl bid.
No. 2 Alabama steamrolls Auburn
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama left no doubt it’s tops in the state.
Proving it’s the best team in the Southeastern Conference and perhaps the nation won’t be nearly so easy.
AJ McCarron passed for four touchdowns and Eddie Lacy rushed for 131 yards and two scores to lead the second-ranked Crimson Tide to a 49-0 beatdown of rival Auburn on Saturday, the most lopsided Iron Bowl in 64 years.
The Tide (10-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) clinched the Western Division title outright and a spot in the conference title game against No. 3 Georgia with the winner likely getting a BCS national championship shot.
“To me, in all those games that I’ve been a part of, they are about as good as any game in the country other than the national championship game,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said of the SEC title matchup.
Georgia will certainly present a tougher challenge the Tide faced Saturday.
Auburn (3-9, 0-8) completed the worst season for any team within two years of winning an Associated Press national title in what might have been the last game for embattled coach Gene Chizik.
Ducks rebound with 48-24 win over Beavers
CORVALLIS, Ore. — After Oregon’s loss to Stanford last weekend, running back Kenjon Barner figured there were three ways for the Ducks to respond in the Civil War against Oregon State.
“You can let it define you, destroy you or strengthen you,” Barner said. “With this team, every loss we’ve taken in the past, it’s strengthened us, made us stronger. Looking back on Stanford, it was a loss. We knew what we had to do to get back on the winning track, and we did it.”
Barner ran for 198 yards and two touchdowns — despite leaving the game for a time with what he called a minor injury — and No. 5 Oregon defeated No. 16 Oregon State 48-24 in the Civil War.
The victory initially kept the Ducks (11-1, 8-1) alive for a spot in the Pac-12 title game, but Stanford defeated UCLA 35-17 later Saturday night to clinch the league’s northern division.
Stanford’s 17-14 overtime victory over the Ducks last Saturday meant that both teams finished the regular season with just one conference loss, but the Cardinal (10-2, 8-1) claimed the head-to-head matchup to advance to the championship game — a rematch with the Bruins — next Friday.
The Civil War ended shortly before the game between Stanford and UCLA started. Barner wasn’t planning to watch it.
No. 3 Georgia blows out hapless Ga. Tech
ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia Bulldogs collected a trophy at midfield for another win over their state rival, then got some encouragement from the governor in their quest for a bigger reward.
Aaron Murray threw two touchdown passes, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall each ran for a pair of TDs, and third-ranked Georgia stayed right in the thick of the national championship race with a 42-10 rout of Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Gov. Nathan Deal presented the “Governor’s Cup” to the Bulldogs (11-1) after they beat the Yellow Jackets for the 11th time in 12 years. He congratulated both teams on a “great game” (a bit of a stretch, to say the least) before turning toward the jubilant Georgia players.
“Keep up the good work,” Deal said. “We’re looking for a national championship.”
Georgia is two wins away.
The Bulldogs will face No. 2 Alabama for the Southeastern Conference championship in Atlanta next Saturday. The winner of that contest will likely advance to play in the BCS title game on Jan. 7.
“All that matters is this game,” Georgia linebacker Christian Robinson said, looking ahead to facing the defending national champion Crimson Tide. “This is everything. This is what you play for.”
Georgia Tech (6-6) didn’t put up much of a fight. This one was a laugher right from the start as the home team scored just over a minute into the game, built a 28-3 halftime lead and was up 42-3 before the Yellow Jackets scored a meaningless TD in the fourth quarter.
“It was a pretty good thumping,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. “We could not slow them down at all, which has been a recurring theme the last few times we’ve played them, and we couldn’t finish drives offensively.”
Murray completed 14 of 17 for 215 yards, becoming the first quarterback in SEC history to pass from more than 3,000 yards in three straight seasons.