NEW ORLEANS (AP) Cardale Jones came through again at the Sugar Bowl in his second career start and Ezekiel Elliott ran for 230 yards, leading Ohio State to a 42-35 upset of top-ranked Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinal Thursday night.
Rallying from a 21-6 deficit, the Buckeyes (13-1) advanced to play Oregon in the Jan. 12 national championship game at Arlington, Texas.
Jones threw for 243 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown to Devin Smith that put the Buckeyes ahead for good early in the third quarter. He also ran for 43 yards and converted a crucial third-down play with a spinning, 1-yard dive and Ohio State clinging to a 34-28 lead.
On the next play, Elliott took a handoff, broke one feeble attempt at a tackle, and was gone for an 85-yard touchdown dash that essentially clinched the victory with 3:24 remaining.
Alabama (12-2) was denied a shot at its fourth national title in six years, though the Tide didn’t go down quietly. Blake Sims threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper with 1:59 remaining.
The Buckeyes recovered the onside kick, but Alabama got it back one more time after some questionable clock management by Ohio State. The Tide’s final shot ended when Sims’ desperation heave into the end zone was intercepted as time ran out.
NO. 3 OREGON 59, NO. 2 FLORIDA STATE 20
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) – Marcus Mariota and Oregon turned an avalanche of Florida State mistakes into a mountain of points and the Ducks beat the defending national champion Seminoles to turn the first College Football Playoff semifinal into a Rose Bowl rout.
Mariota and the second-seeded Ducks (13-1) scored six straight times they touched the ball in the second half, with five of the touchdowns covering at least 21 yards and the last four coming after Florida State turnovers.
In the matchup of Heisman Trophy winners, Jameis Winston matched Mariota’s numbers, but the Seminoles (13-1) were no match for the Ducks.
Third-seeded Florida State’s winning streak ended at 29. In Winston’s first loss as a college starter, maybe his last game in college, he threw for 348 yards.
No Heisman jinx for Mariota. He was mostly brilliant again. The junior passed for 338 yards and two touchdowns and sprinted 23 yards for a touchdown with 13:56 left that made it 52-20 and made the Ducks the first team to reach 50 points in Rose Bowl history.
NO. 7 MICHIGAN STATE 42, NO. 4 BAYLOR 41
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Connor Cook threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Keith Mumphery with 17 seconds left to cap a three-touchdown, fourth-quarter comeback in Michigan State’s victory over playoff-snubbed Baylor in the highest-scoring Cotton Bowl.
The Spartans (11-2) got the winning touchdown after Marcus Rush blocked Chris Callahan’s 43-yard field goal attempt with 1:05 left. When Baylor (11-2) got the ball back for one last try, Bryce Petty was sacked on consecutive plays before Riley Bullough’s clinching interception.
Petty completed 36 of 51 passes for a Cotton Bowl-record 550 yards and three touchdowns, two to KD Cannon and the other to 390-pount guard LaQuan McGowan that put Baylor up 41-21 late in the third quarter.
Jeremy Langford ran for 162 yards and three touchdowns for the Spartans, whose losses were to Pac-12 winner Oregon and the Big Ten champion Ohio State.
Langford’s 1-yard plunge with just under 5 minutes left got the Spartans to 41-35.
Callahan had a 46-yard field goal attempt that ricocheted off the right upright to start the fourth quarter. Michigan State then got Cook’s 8-yard TD pass to tight end Josiah Price and recovered an onside kick. Cook threw a 39-yard pass on the first play after the recovery, but was scrambling to avoid pressure on the next when he threw an awkward pass right to linebacker Taylor Young, who ran 84 yards to the end zone. Young’s apparent touchdown was wiped out by an illegal block, pushing Baylor back to its 43. After Petty’s fourth-down incompletion, Michigan State went 60 yards in nine plays for Langford’s final score.
NO. 17 WISCONSIN 34, NO. 19 AUBURN 31, OT
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Melvin Gordon ran for an Outback Bowl-record 251 yards and three touchdowns and Rafael Gaglianone kicked a 25-yard field goal in overtime to lift Wisconsin past Auburn.
Gaglianone tied it with a 29-yarder with 7 seconds left in regulation. Athletic director Barry Alvarez coached the Badgers (11-3) following Gary Andersen’s move to Oregon State.
Gordon scored on runs of 25, 53 and 6 yards, bouncing back from a subpar performance against Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game to threaten Barry Sanders’ FBS single-season rushing record.
Gordon finished with 2,587 yards in 14 games – second most in FBS history. Sanders had 2,628 for Oklahoma State in 11 games in 1988, when the NCAA did not include bowl results in a player’s statistics.
Nick Marshall threw two touchdown passes for Auburn, which also got a pair of TDs on the ground from Cameron Artis-Payne. The Tigers were unable to move the ball in overtime, though, and lost when Daniel Carlson’s 45-yard field goal hit the right upright and bounced away.
NO. 16 MISSOURI 33, MINNESOTA 17
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Marcus Murphy ran for 159 yards, Russell Hansbrough added 114 yards and a touchdown and Missouri beat Minnesota in the Citrus Bowl.
Missouri (11-3) won its third straight bowl game to reach 11 victories for the fourth time in school history. Minnesota (8-5) trailed 19-17 entering the fourth quarter, but Missouri pulled away on Hansbrough’s 78-yard touchdown run and Maty Mauk’s 7-yard scoring pass to Bud Sasser.
Mauk settled down to throw two TD passes after interceptions on the Tigers’ first two possessions.
Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner was 21 of 31 for 258 yards and a touchdown.