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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Championship Saturday Recap

   DailyWire.com
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 04: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines celebrates with the trophy after the Michigan Wolverines defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes 42-3 to win the Big Ten Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 04, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

In just a few short hours, the college football selection committee will decide the four teams that will participate in the 2021 College Football Playoff. 

And while we truly never know which way the committee is going to go, Saturday’s results give us a pretty clear picture. Seeding should be the only question as we await the final college football playoff rankings, which will be unveiled Sunday at noon ET. 

So, let’s take a look at what went down on Championship Saturday in college football. 

Baylor ends Oklahoma State’s CFP hopes

Welcome to the new Big 12.

For years, the conference was regarded as nothing more than basketball on grass. Explosive offenses and sieve-like defenses ruled the day. 

No more. 

Baylor’s defense came up huge with two goal line stands, the second with under 30 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, and the Bears ended Oklahoma State’s chance at the College Football Playoff, winning their third Big 12 Championship in school history in a 21-16 victory. 

All year long, the best unit for Mike Gundy’s team has been his defense, and they were once again on Saturday, giving Oklahoma State’s offense every chance to win the game. Down 21-3 in the second quarter, the Cowboys defense stifled Baylor the rest of the way, holding the Bears scoreless in the second half. But it was the Baylor defense that made the game-deciding play. 

Needing a touchdown, Oklahoma State’s offense took over with 3:14 to go in the game, driving down to the Baylor two-yard line. After two run plays and an incomplete pass, Oklahoma State handed the ball to running back Dezmon Jackson on fourth down, who came up just inches short of completing an 18-point comeback. 

“When I saw the running back with the ball, I thought I’ve got to run this guy down,” Baylor safety Jairon McVea said. “The ref signaled not a touchdown, so when I saw that I was pretty happy.”

Without leading rusher Jaylen Warren — out with ankle and shoulder injuries — Oklahoma State’s offense struggled to move the ball, the running game was non-existent (70 yards on 40 attempts), and quarterback Spencer Sanders threw a career high four interceptions. 

“They’re heartsick, they’re heartbroken, because they did everything I asked them to do,” Cowboys defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said. “I wish I had one more better call in the first half. 

“I wish I could do something for them, but all I can do is tell them I love them.”

Baylor finishes the regular season 11-2 after a year in which they won just two games. 

Cincinnati completes undefeated regular season, in prime position for CFP berth

The Bearcats entered halftime up just one, clinging to a 14-13 lead over a Houston team that had won 11 games in a row. 

They took the field for the second half and quickly put the game to rest. 

Three quick third quarter touchdowns by Cincinnati put them up 35-13, and Luke Fickell’s team completed their undefeated season as they now wait on being selected as the first Group of Five team to the CFP. 

“The resounding statement is what we did on that football field,” Fickell said. “Nobody is going to call and ask us what we think. I don’t think these guys can be denied that opportunity. It would be a shame.”

Cincinnati running back Jerome Ford carried the ball 18 times for 187 yards and two touchdowns — including runs of 79 and 42 yards — and quarterback Desmond Ridder threw for three touchdowns in a 35-20 victory. 

Cincinnati has done all it can in order to impress the playoff committee, and more than enough in the eyes of Houston head coach Dana Holgorsen.

“We went toe to toe with them for as long as we could,” Holgorsen said. “They are first-class and deserving of top four. I don’t know how you keep Cincinnati out.”

Alabama finally puts it all together, hands Georgia first loss 

The question as the SEC Championship Game approached was whether Georgia’s historically great defense would continue their dominant run against a Heisman trophy contender in Bryce Young. 

The answer? A resounding no.

Coming into the game, 387 yards was the most Georgia’s defense had allowed in a single game. Alabama had 365 yards … in the first half. 

Young’s performance — 26-44, 421 yards, three touchdowns — may have locked up the Heisman, and Nick Saban moved to 4-0 against Kirby Smart in a 41-24 Alabama win. 

“He played great tonight,” Saban said of Young. “He’s played great for us all year long.”

Alabama finished the night with 536 total yards, and will now head to a seventh College Football Playoff. Georgia will be at the mercy of the committee as to where they’re ranked in the top-four. 

“We didn’t play our best game,” Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean said. “We’ve got a lot to work on.”

Georgia jumped out to a 10-0 lead, but Alabama scored on five straight possessions starting in the second quarter, and a Bulldogs offense which hasn’t had to win a game all season was unable to muster a comeback.  

Quarterback Stetson Bennett threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns, but two second half interceptions doomed Georgia’s comeback attempt. 

“Can’t turn the ball over,” Bennett said. “Just little mental lapses. That can’t happen.”

The turnaround at Michigan is complete

Welcome to the party, Michigan. 

A week after beating Ohio State for the first time since 2011, Jim Harbaugh and his Wolverines had one more hill to climb before a chance at playing in the CFP for the first time. 

In a game without a ton of a thrill, Michigan dominated Iowa 42-3, securing their first BIG 10 Championship since 2004. 

“The beginning of the year, the odds, I don’t know whatever it was — it was 2% likely we’d win the Big Ten championship,” Michigan offensive lineman Andrew Vastardis said. “That was preseason predictions. I don’t know how it works out, but we believe in each other. We believe in ourselves, but there’s always a little external motivation. So internally motivated, bring each guy along, but sometimes just some of the stuff that’s out there, you just take it and ride with it and fuel the fire.”

Two explosive first quarter plays put Michigan up 14-0, and the defense took it the rest of the way. 

Running back Blake Corum ripped off a 67-yard touchdown to put Michigan on the scoreboard, and then the Wolverines pulled off some trickery. 

Michigan’s defense suffocated the Iowa offense all night long, allowing just 279 total yards in the game. 

The question now becomes whether Michigan moves up No. 1 in the CFP ranking, or if Alabama’s win over Georgia was impressive enough for the Crimson Tide to grab the top spot. 

Other Scores: 

ACC Championship Game: Pittsburgh 45 Wake Forest 21

Mountain West Championship Game: Utah State 46 San Diego State 13

Sun Belt Championship Game: Louisiana Lafayette 24 Appalachian State 16

Pac 12 Championship Game: Utah 38 Oregon 10

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to sports@dailywire.com.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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