Championship Recap: Clemson Cruises and LSU Has No Problems With Georgia to Help Set the Playoff Stage

By Andrew Ellis on December 8, 2019 at 7:05 am
Joe Burrow and the Tigers are going to the College Football Playoff.
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The playoff stage will soon be set.

It wasn't the prettiest performance for Ohio State in Indy, but the scoring barrage finally came in the second half and the Buckeyes are once again the Big Ten champions. The win marks the third-straight outright title for the program, which is a first in conference history

Wisconsin provided quite the early scare as Jonathan Taylor gashed the usually stout Ohio State defense, but Jeff Hafley made the necessary halftime adjustments and held the Badgers in check for the final two quarters.

Meanwhile, Justin Fields and the Buckeye offense also got things rolling in the third quarter, and it really started with Jeremy Ruckert's ridiculous one-handed touchdown snag. J.K. Dobbins continued his fine play against the Badgers with 172 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries. Fields took home MVP honors for his three-touchdown performance.

Yesterday's conference championship games helped to provide a bit of clarity as to what the committee will ultimately decide when today's final rankings are released. 

No. 2 LSU 37, No. 4 Georgia 10

I don't think there was ever too much doubt, but Joe Burrow locked up the Heisman Trophy last night in Atlanta. The Dawgs came into the title game with the country's No. 4 defense, and it mattered nil against Burrow and the Tigers. 

LSU put up 481 yards of total offense behind Burrow's 28 of 38 passing with 349 yards and four scores. He got it done with his legs again as well adding 41 yards on 11 carries. Justin Jefferson was his favorite target as he hauled in seven passes for 115 and a score. Terrace Marshall Jr. added 89 yards and two touchdown receptions of his own.

Burrow has had plenty of Heisman moments this season. He delivered again yesterday afternoon.

I know Georgia's offense is exactly tailor-made for Justin Fields' skill set, but it has to be tough to see what he's doing in comparison to Jake Fromm. The junior quarterback struggled against a mediocre LSU defense completing less than 50 percent of his passes for 225 yards with a touchdown and two picks. The ground game did very little and the depleted receiving unit didn't help much. True freshman George Pickens led the way after his first-half suspension hauling in four passes for 54 yards and a touchdown.

No. 6 Oklahoma 30, No. 7 Baylor 23 (OT)

This was a dang good one in Arlington. A couple of Jalen Hurts' turnovers helped to give the Bears a halftime lead, but Oklahoma stormed back after the intermission. The Sooners got up to a 10-point lead with just 10 minutes left in the game, but a quick-strike 81-yard score and field goal from Baylor sent it to overtime. Things ended quickly in overtime, however, as Oklahoma scored a touchdown and Baylor couldn't do anything once it got the ball. 

Jalen Hurts put up 325 yards of total offense with a passing touchdown and two turnovers. CeeDee Lamb missed the first game against the Bears, but he made his presence felt yesterday with eight receptions for 173 yards. Kennedy Brooks and Rhamondre Stevenson both pitched in with rushing scores. Alex Grinch's defense did a fine job for the most part in holding Baylor to just 265 yards. 

The story of the game really was Matt Rhule's quarterback situation as starter Charlie Brewer left early with what looked like a concussion which led to a pair of backups splitting time. Gerry Bohanon got the bulk of the reps as he completed just four of 15 passes for 56 yards and a score. Jacob Zeno made the most of his play in the fourth quarter completing two of six attempts for 159 yards and a big 78-yarder to help tie things up. 

Trestan Ebner was the Bears' leading receiver with 84 yards and a touchdown. Star wideout Denzel Mims didn't have a single catch and the ground game did next to nothing against the Oklahoma defense.

For the Sooners, the win marks their fifth-straight Big 12 title and third for Lincoln Riley. They're now awaiting their fate but look to be in line for yet another playoff berth.

No. 3 Clemson 62, No. 23 Virginia 17

Clemson got its 13th-straight exhibition game and destroyed the Cavaliers for the ACC title. Who could have possibly seen this one coming? 

Trevor Lawrence threw for 302 yards with four touchdowns as the Tigers' passing attack is going to be a major challenge for any playoff opponent. Tee Higgins went bananas with nine catches for 182 yards and three touchdowns. Justyn Ross added three receptions for 94 yards and a score. The Clemson ground game is also imposing with Travis Etienne as he ran for 114 and a touchdown on 14 carries. 

How many players can you name on Virginia's team? If it's more than zero, then congratulation to you. Bryce Perkins (the only one I could name) threw for 266 yards with two touchdowns and a pair of picks. Wideout Hasise Dubois caught 10 passes for 130 and a score. 

Congrats to Dabo. You've defied all odds and won the ACC yet again.

No. 13 Oregon 37, No. 5 Utah 15

Well, the Pac 12 isn't seeing the College Football Playoff for the second year in a row. There's certainly no guaranteeing a win would have put the Utes in, but they were the conference's last remaining hope until deciding to lay an egg against the Ducks. 

Oregon was in control throughout the night and the game really never felt in jeopardy. A third-quarter touchdown and two-point conversion brought Utah within eight, but C.J. Verdell's 70-yard touchdown dash helped the Ducks regain all the momentum. Verdell went on to add another 31-yard score in the fourth and ended up with 208 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries. 

Justin Herbert wasn't asked to do a whole lot as the senior completed 14 of 26 passes for 193 yards and a score. The Ducks beat Bama for five-star 2019 defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, and the true freshman was phenomenal on Friday night recording 2.5 sacks and blocking a punt.

Quarterback Tyler Huntley struggled mightily for the Utes as he threw for 193 yards with two scores and a pair of interceptions. Zach Moss ran for 113 yards and added a score on a 24-yard reception. Utah's third-ranked defense just couldn't get it done, and that was really the story of the night as the Ducks are now heading to Pasadena.

Reminder: Ohio State faces Oregon and Mr. Thibodeaux on Sept. 12 at Autzen Stadium.

No. 17 Memphis 29, No. 20 Cincinnati 24

Mike Norvell previously fell to UCF in the 2017 and 2018 conference title games. He's expected to be named Florida State's head coach in the coming days, but Norvell's parting gift for the Tigers came yesterday with an AAC championship win over the Bearcats. 

It was the two teams' second meeting over the last eight days, and this was a close one in Memphis. The Tigers scored nine points in the fourth quarter and captured the lead with a six-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gibson with just over a minute left. Brady White threw for 253 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Gibson rushed for 130 and added 32 receiving yards to go along with to scores. Damonte Coxie was the game's leading receiver with nine catches for 165 yards.

Desmond Ridder led the bearcats but did have his struggles in the passing game. He completed 16 of 36 attempts for 233 yards with a pick. Ridder added another 113 and a touchdown with his legs. Michael Warren II ran for 99 yards with a pair of scores and Alex Pierce was Cincy's leading pass-catcher with five for 87. 

The final playoff rankings will be released today at noon, and the greatest bit of intrigue involves the top spots. Clemson's win likely solidified its spot at No. 3. Utah's loss and the subsequent Sooner victory should put Oklahoma in at No. 4 

Obviously just getting into the playoff is the most important thing, and while a No. 1 seed has yet to win the title, there's plenty at stake this time around. No one in the country wants to play Clemson right now. So, if things fall into place as expected, the top team would likely get to face Oklahoma instead of the Tigers. 

Will it be Ohio State or LSU at the top? LSU delivered a better win yesterday against No. 4 Georgia, but the Buckeyes have been the more complete team throughout the season. One thing is for sure: there's a whole lot of uncertainty heading into today's unveiling. 

My guess for the final playoff rankings: 1. Ohio State, 2. LSU, 3. Clemson, 4. Oklahoma

What's your top four looking like? And what do you think the committee will ultimately decide?

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