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.
“Our guys understand that it’s about all 60 minutes,” Muschamp said. “We just really needed to be patient and wear them down.”
Did they ever.
Florida regained the lead for keeps at 23-20 on Gillislee’s 37-yard run with 11:01 left in the final period on the first play after Florida State’s EJ Manuel fumbled, his fourth turnover of the game. Gillislee finished with 140 yards rushing, surpassing the 1,000-yard mark for the season early in the game.
No. 2 Alabama 49, Auburn 0: AJ McCarron passed for four touchdowns and Eddie Lacy rushed for 131 yards and two scores in the most lopsided Iron Bowl in 64 years.
The Crimson 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 national championship shot.
No. 3 Georgia 42, Georgia Tech 10: Aaron Murray threw two touchdown passes, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall each ran for a pair of TDs, and Georgia stayed right in the thick of the national championship race.
The Bulldogs (11-1) extended the domination of the Yellow Jackets, beating their state rival for the 11th time in 12 meetings. This one was a laugher 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 Georgia Tech (6-6) scored its lone TD.
No. 5 Oregon 48, No. 16 Oregon State 24: Kenjon Barner ran for 198 yards and two touchdowns despite leaving the game for a time with an injury and the Ducks kept alive their hopes for a spot in the Pac-12 title game and even an outside chance at the national championship.
De’Anthony Thomas, who helped picked up the slack while Barner was on the sidelines, ran for 122 yards and three scores for the Ducks (11-1, 8-1).
After Oregon’s undefeated season was thwarted by a 17-14 overtime loss to Stanford last weekend, the Ducks had to wait for UCLA’s game against the Cardinal later Saturday to see who would be headed to the conference championship game. Both Oregon and Stanford started the day with one conference loss in the league’s northern division.
No. 14 Oklahoma 51, No. 22 Oklahoma State 48: Landry Jones threw for 500 yards and three touchdowns, and Brennan Clay scored on an 18-yard run in overtime to lift Oklahoma.
The Sooners (9-2, 7-1 Big 12) never led during regulation, overcoming double-digit deficits in both halves. Backup quarterback Blake Bell tied it with 4 seconds left on a 4-yard keeper on fourth-and-1.
Joseph Randle ran for 113 yards and matched his career-high with four touchdowns for Oklahoma State (7-4, 5-3), which settled for Quinn Sharp’s 26-yard field goal in overtime.
Connecticut 23, No. 19 Louisville 20 3OT: Chad Christen’s 30-yard field goal in the third overtime gave Connecticut a 23-20 upset of No. 19 Louisville.
Blidi Wreh-Wilson set up the Huskies’ winning score by intercepting Teddy Bridgewater’s pass intended for DeVante Parker in the end zone. The Huskies ran three plays for 12 yards before Christen’s second OT kick gave Connecticut (5-6, 2-4 Big East Conference) its second straight win.
No. 25 Utah State 45, Idaho 9: Chuckie Keeton passed for two touchdowns, Kerwynn Williams rushed for 110 yards and senior Will Davis returned an interception 59 yards for a touchdown as Utah State secured its first outright conference title in 76 years.
The Western Athletic Conference champion Aggies (10-2, 6-0) also earned their first 10-win season.
The Aggies intercepted Taylor Davis three times in the first half and forced him to fumble. Williams’ 52-yard run set up Keeton’s 3-yard TD pass to Kellen Bartlett early in the third quarter for a 28-9 advantage for the Aggies.
Williams added a 14-yard TD run in the fourth after opening the scoring with a 19-yard TD reception. Lou Groza Award finalist Trey Farquhar kicked field goals of 38, 46 yards and 52 yards – his 11th career field goal of 50 yards or more for Idaho (1-11, 1-5).