College Football Tournament
Alabama vs TCU
TCU’s Cinderella run ended in horrifying fashion as this game was over literally one minute in. The returning Jaylen Waddle ran the opening kick back 99 yards for a score, and Malachi Moore picked off Max Duggan’s first pass and took it 30 yards to the house. It didn’t get much better from there as the Tide completely stymied the Frogs high scoring O on the way to a 35-0 halftime lead. TCU scored the first 10 points of the second half, but ‘Bama answered with two more quick scores and the starters were relaxing on the sideline by the start of the 4th. TCU added 3 scores in a frantic 4th quarter to make it look respectable, but this was destruction through and through.
Alabama 49 TCU 31
Notre Dame vs Iowa State
The Irish got off to a fast start, holding a 14-0 lead after the first quarter as Ian Book engineered long drives of 80 and 94 yards sandwiched around ISU’s only drive of the quarter, a four play, 11 yard blip that resulted in one first down and a punt; the only highlight was that punt, which placed the Irish inside their own 10. The Cyclones marched the first drive of the second quarter to the Notre Dame 2 where Breece Hall was stuffed 3 consecutive times and settled for a field goal. The rest of the second quarter was a defensive battle, with the only score an Irish field goal after Brock Purdy fumbled at his own 19 leaving the Irish with a 17-3 halftime lead.
The Irish struck first in the second half; Purdy once again lost the ball on a strip sack and Kyren Williams broke a 26 yard touchdown on the next play. In an odd twist, the Cyclones blocked the PAT and DB Isheem Young ran the ball back for a 2 point return, leaving the score at an odd 23-5. Purdy then led ISU on a 15 play, 80 yard drive that ate up nearly 10 minutes, ending with a one yard dive by Hall. The 2 point conversion failed, and after trading a series of punts, the third quarter ended with the Irish holding that 23-11 lead.
The Irish began the fourth quarter with Book hitting WR Avery Davis on a deep sideline route that put the ball inside the ISU 20, but after 3 straight incompletions, Jonathan Doerer hooked the FG attempt to the left. Purdy led the Cyclones on another long drive, highlighted by a 22 yard scramble on a 3rd and 17, and with just over 6 minutes left hit TE Charlie Kolar for 12 yards to pull to within 23-18.
The Irish ground out 2 first downs on 4 consecutive Williams runs, but the Cyclones D buckled down, and after burning all three of their time outs to stop the clock, Notre Dame punted and the Cyclones took over at their own 29 with 1:40 remaining.
Purdy completed 5 straight passes to push the Irish 9, but took a sack with 19 seconds left, and by the time he spiked the ball only 6 seconds remained. On the final play he was forced to scramble to his left, and as he was hit let go an awkward cross body pass into the end zone, where Xavier Hutchinson had slipped behind the coverage, pulling the ball down and landing both feet to send the Irish home with a shocking 24-23 upset.
Iowa State 24 Notre Dame 23
Clemson Tigers vs Florida Gators.
The Tigers came into this game as heavy favorites, but if the game was a shootout, many thought Kyle Trask at least Gave the Gators a punchers chance. This looked like prophesy when Trask opened the game with a 72 yard scoring bomb to Trevon Grimes. Clemson was unphased, however, as Trevor Lawrence marched the Tigers right back with a 6 play, 75 yard drive of their own, with Lawrence finishing the job himself on a brilliant 12 yard scramble.
The teams traded 3 and outs and then long FG drives, leaving the score tied at ten after one.
The second quarter began with Trask being picked off on a ball tipped at the line, and the Tigers capitalized immediately with a spectacular Lawrence 15 yard run. Florida went 3 and out, and 4 plays later Travis Etienne scored from the 3. Trask then led the Gators on an 80 yard drive that ate most of the rest of the second quarter clock, but after a timeout on first and goal from the 3 Malik Davis was stripped on a sweep and Andrew Booth Jr. scooped the fumble and streaked 95 yards to give the Tigers a 31-10 lead at the half.
The second half was a nightmare for the Gators, with Trask being sacked 4 times and throwing 2 picks. Etienne carried most of the second half load, rushing for 140 yards after the break (189 total) as the Tigers cruised to a final four birth with a decisive 48-17 victory.
Clemson 48 Florida 17
Ohio State vs Texas A & M
All of the debate about Ohio State‘s schedule had faded as they tore through their bracket, and they were going up against an Aggie team that had left a lot of questions after a less than impressive finish to the year. You’d never have guessed that watching the first drive. Kellen Mond led the Aggies on a textbook 13 play, 75 yard drive that included 4 3rd down conversions, the last of which was an Isaiah Spiller 2 yard dive to take the early lead.
Not to be outdone, Justin Fields matched A&M’s 75 yard with one of his own; a drive where he accounted for every yard… 24 on the ground… finishing with a 3 yard toss to Chris Olave. A&M followed with a 3 and out, and after a terrible 23 yard punt, the Buckeyes pounded the Aggies with 8 straight running plays, ending with the ball 2nd and goal from the 6 as the first quarter ran out.
Fields went end zone to start the second quarter, but Jaylen Jones was flagged for interference and OSU got a fresh set of downs. Master Teague trid the line twice and lost a yard, and on third down a QB draw attempt from Fields lost another two and the Buckeyes settled for a short field goal.
The Aggies answered quickly, covering 71 yards on 4 passing plays capped by a brilliant end zone corner catch by TE Jalen WyderMyer to take the lead 14-10.
The Buckeyes answered back in what was starting to look like a “whoever gets the ball last” game with another blunt force time consuming drive; 11 of the 13 plays were runs. The Buckeyes stalled in the red zone again, however, and settled for another FG.
The Aggies marched on, but this thim it was they who stalled, and finished the with a missed field goal with just under a minute left. After a good kick return started Fields and crew at the A&M 48, He completed a pass for 9, but Garrett Wilson didn’t make it to the sideline. A quick swing pass to Trey Sermon stopped the clock after a short first down pickup, and with 15 seconds left lined up for what the Aggies obviously thought was to be a spike. Fields did not spike; he lofted a disgustingly easy ball to a wide open Like Farrell, and the Bucks took a 19-14 lead into halftime.
The Buckeyes got yet another good return on the second half kick, starting in A&M territory, this time at the 22… but stalled once more and settled for yet another filed goal, stretching the lead to 8.
It was a short lived lead, however, as Mond hit another deep ball, this one to Caleb Chatman, after which a Mond 3 yard scramble brought the Aggies within two. A spiller run off tackle sealed the tie.
The teams traded punts, and Fields led the Buckeyes pounding ground attack on another drive that ended with a field goal… 81 yards, all on the ground.
The third quarter ended with the Aggies on the move again, with Mond chipping away at the secondary with a barrage of short passes and screens.
The Aggies took the lead as the quarter started, with Devin Archane Taking one of those screens in from 14 out. The extra point hooked, and the Aggies were up 28-25. Another tie followed when the Buckeys drove to still another FG after an 11 play drive.
The Aggies took possession after the FG with just over 7 minutes left, and Mpnd directed a very Buckeye like drive, eating up 6 minutes with what seemed like dozens of short passes. With a minute and change left, they were perched at the OSU 3. 2 Spiller runs put it at the one. On fourth down, Monds threw a pass to Chase Lane in the end zone, but Lane had fallen on what looked like an obvious PI call and the ball literally went into the arms of Shaun Wade. No flag, touchback. Two incompletions and we were headed for overtime.
Mond took the Aggies into the endzone in 4 plays, the last being a nine yard scramble. On first down, Fields rolled out, but had the ball swatted from behind by a rushing Demarvin Leal. Buddy Johnson recovered, and the Aggies were off to the final four.
Texas A&M 34 Ohio State 28
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