Atlanta — Joe Burrow collected a shiny award as the game’s MVP.
LSU’s fans had another trophy on their minds.
“Heisman! Heisman! Heisman!” they chanted.
The coronation is likely complete.
Burrow turned in another dazzling performance on the big stage, leading No. 1 LSU to a spot in the College Football Playoff with a 37-10 rout of No. 4 Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championship game Saturday.
“Joe is the heartbeat of this team,” running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire said.
The Tigers, going for their first national title since 2007 season, will either return to Atlanta or head west to suburban Phoenix for a semifinal game on Dec. 28. They surely made a persuasive case to be the top overall seed when the four-team field. and pairings are announced Sunday.
Burrow was all over the stat sheet for LSU (13-0, No. 2 CFP). He threw for 349 yards and four touchdowns. He was the Tigers’ second-leading rusher with 41 yards on 11 carries, often leaving the Bulldogs grasping at air as he twirled this way and that. He even caught a pass on a ball that was batted down at the line and wound up his arms, taking off for a 16-yard gain.
‘”He’s a great athlete, man,” Georgia safety J.R. Reed said. “We had a lot of plays out there we were supposed to make, and he’d just squeeze out of it.”
The Heisman-worthy moment came late in the third quarter. With Georgia (11-2, No 4 CFP) bringing the heat, Burrow spun to his left to get away from lineman Travon Walker, whirled back to his right to send Walker sprawling to the turf, then delivered a pass on the run while sprinting toward the LSU sideline with another defender in hot pursuit.
Justin Jefferson hauled in the throw just beyond midfield and took off down to the Bulldogs 9 for a 71-yard play. Three plays later, Burrow delivered his third TD pass of the game, hooking up with Terrace Marshall Jr., on a 4-yard touchdown pass that essentially finished off the Bulldogs.
“It was all improvised,” Burrow said. “Justin ran a 6-yard hitch route and saw me scrambling and took off deep. We got a great feel for each other. I knew exactly where he was going to be when I got out of there.”
Burrow wasn’t done. Derek Stingley’s second pick of Jake Fromm turned the ball back over to the prolific LSU offense at the 13, and Burrow wasted no time finding Jefferson for an 8-yard TD in the waning seconds of the third quarter to send many in the predominantly Georgia crowd heading for the exits.
LSU left no doubt it is the king of the mighty SEC, completing its run through a gauntlet of the league’s top teams. The Tigers had already knocked off Alabama, Florida and Auburn. Now, they can add the Bulldogs to the list, ensuring the SEC will only get one team in the national playoff.
LSU came into the game as the second-highest scoring team in the country behind Ohio State. They figured to have a tougher time against Georgia’s stellar defense, ranked No. 2 in points allowed. but Burrow kept the Bulldogs on their heels the entire game.
It was by far the most points Georgia has given up their season. Until Saturday, they held every opponent under 20 except South Carolina, which stunned the Bulldogs in double overtime nearly two months ago.
There was no such drama in this one.
Just total domination by the Tigers.
It was a painful loss – literally – for the Bulldogs, who were making their third straight appearance in the SEC title game. Two players were carted off the field with apparently major injuries. Another player wobbled off with a concussion after being leveled on a kickoff. Fromm twisted an ankle and had to go to the medical tent to get taped up, though he missed only one play.
Not that it mattered.
Fromm, who guided Georgia to the cusp of the national title two years ago as a freshman, was 20 of 42 for 225 yards with those two interceptions. He didn’t get much help from his teammates: Tyler Simmons dropped a deep ball on the very first possession, and Matt Landers couldn’t hang on to a throw in the end zone.
Georgia finally reached the end zone with just under 12 minutes remaining on Fromm’s 2-yard TD pass to George Pickens.
“That is a really good football team,” coach Kirby Smart said. “We were going to have to make explosive plays. We were unable to do that.”
No. 3 Clemson 62, No. 22 Virginia 17: Trevor Lawrence threw four touchdown passes, three to Tee Higgins, and No. 3 Clemson won its fifth consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference title with a 62-17 victory over No. 22 Virginia at Charlotte, North Carolina.
The defending national champion Tigers (13-0; No. 3 CFP) have won 28 games in a row and head to the College Football Playoff with chance for a third crown in four years.
And while Virginia (9-4; No. 23 CFP) and quarterback Bryce Perkins put forth a game plan that caused the Tigers to sweat early on, there was no stopping Clemson’s dazzling set of experienced playmakers led by Lawrence and Higgins on the way to ACC championship game records for points and yards (621),
No. 6 Oklahoma 30, No. 8 Baylor 23, OT: At Arlington, Texas, Oklahoma has done all it can, winning a fifth Big 12 title in a row with another close win over Baylor.
Now the Sooners wait to see if they are going to get in back in the College Football Playoff. That is up to the selection committee.
“I hope they see the Big 12 champions. They’ve got a job to do, I get that,” coach Lincoln Riley said after Oklahoma’s 30-23 overtime win Saturday.
“We’ve had a job to do as a team, which was continuing to improve through the year, trust the things that we could and ultimately win the Big 12 championship,” he said. “We’ve done that.’’
Rhamondre Stevenson had a 5-yard touchdown run in overtime, and then true freshman Jacob Zeno – whose two long passes in the fourth quarter helped tie the game – was under constant pressure when the Bears got their last chance.
A day after No. 5 Utah lost in the Pac-12 championship game, and before No. 4 Georgia took on No. 1 LSU for the SEC title, Oklahoma (12-1, No. 6 CFP) became the first team in any league to win 10 conference championship games. It was the 13th Big 12 title overall for the Sooners, who went to the playoff three of the past four seasons.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said he likes the league’s case for a playoff spot.
It was the second time in four games that Oklahoma beat the Bears (11-2, No. 7 CFP), who in coach Matt Rhule’s debut season two years ago lost 11 games with a depleted roster in the aftermath of a scandal that led to the firing of two-time Big 12 champion coach Art Briles.
Rhule feels Oklahoma should be in the playoff no matter what else happens.
As for his team, Rhule told them, “Feel that pain of watching those guys pull that stuff out and celebrate, and let that drive you in the offseason. But at the same time, also understand what we’ve done.”
The Bears tied the game after Zeno came in during the fourth quarter, the second quarterback used after starter Charlie Brewer left the game in the second quarter following a big hit he delivered on a defender.
There was an 8 1-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Trestan Ebner with 9:41 left in regulation and a 78-yarder to Chris Platt that set up John Mayers’ third field goal, a 27-yarder with 3:25 left to make it 23-all.
“It’s not supposed to be easy,” Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts said.
After Oklahoma scored on three plays to start overtime, the Sooners put the heat on Zeno. He was sacked for a 10-yard loss, and then he was under duress again when he flung a game-ending pass that fell to the turf harmlessly.
The Bears had only 105 total yards before the 81-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter by Zeno, who had played in only one game and was the scout team quarterback imitating Hurts in practice this week. They finished with 265.
Hurts, who last year led Alabama’s comeback win over Georgia in the SEC title game, was 17-of-24 passing for 278 yards and a touchdown. CeeDee Lamb had eight catches for 173 yards after missing the previous game against the Bears.
Brewer was taken out of the game not long after bulling over a defender at the end of a 7-yard run early in the second quarter. He finished that series and played one more, apparently hitting his head on the ground when being sacked by Kenneth Murray, before Gerry Bohanon took over.
Referee Mike Defee went to the sideline and asked Rhule to get Brewer checked out, because the ref said the quarterback “just seems a little bit out of it.”
Bohanon directed Baylor on scoring drives on its last two possessions before halftime. He threw a 33-yard touchdown to Tyquan Thornton before a 28-yard field goal by Mayers put the Bears up 13-10 at halftime – even with only 98 total yards – after they trailed 10-0.
Three weeks after their biggest comeback ever, a 34-31 win at Baylor after a 25-point deficit, the Sooners jumped ahead 10-0 on the Bears.
Lamb turned a short catch into a 71-yard gain to the 7 on Oklahoma’s second drive, setting up Kennedy Brooks’ 6-yard TD run. On the next drive, Lamb’s 26-yard catch to the Baylor 19 came before Gabe Brkic kicked the first of his three field goals.
No. 16 Memphis 29, No. 21 Cincinnati 24: Antonio Gibson caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Brady White with 1:14 left and No. 16 Memphis defeated No. 21 Cincinnati 29-24 in the American Athletic Conference championship game at Memphis, Tennessee.
The victory marked the first time Memphis (12-1, No. 17, CFP) has won the AAC title in its third straight conference championship game. The Tigers now wait for an invitation to the Cotton Bowl as the highest-ranked Group of Five team.
Eight days after beating the Bearcats 34-24 at home in the regular-season finale, Memphis rallied for another win.
Along with scoring the go-ahead touchdown, Gibson ran for 130 yards, including a 65-yard TD dash.
Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder, who did not play last week against Memphis, passed for 233 yards and ran for 113 more.
The game became a back-and-forth battle in the fourth quarter. Sam Crosa’s 33-yard field goal with 4:23 left gave the Bearcats (10-3, No. 20 CFP) a 24-23 lead.
(At) No. 19 Boise State 31, Hawaii 10: Jaylon Henderson threw for 212 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score. Boise State (12-1, No. 19 CFP) won its second conference title in three years, beating Hawaii again this season after winning the Oct. 12th meeting, 59-37. After rolling up 518 yards of offense in the first game, the Broncos leaned on their defense in the rematch.
“Coming into this game the message was about finishing,” said Boise State coach Bryan Harsin, whose team lost last year’s title game to Fresno State 19-16 in overtime. “We started this journey back in January when the question was how do we get back to this game and how do we win it. This one was really special.”
The Broncos made two defensive stands inside the 5, once in the second quarter and another early in the third.
Hawaii (9-5) was making its first appearance in the title game. It enjoyed some success through the air with Cole McDonald passing for 241 yards, but couldn’t overcome early problems in the red zone.
No. 20 Appalachian State 45, Louisiana-Lafayette 38: Darrynton Evans scored three touchdowns and 20th-ranked Appalachian State repeated as Conference champions at Boone, North Carolina.
Evans won the game’s MVP for the second straight season.
Zac Thomas threw for 149 yards and two touchdowns and Daetrich Harrington and Marcus Williams added touchdown runs. The Mountaineers racked up 416 yards on offense, including 267 on the ground in a dominating first half.
The Mountaineers (12-1, 8-1 Sun Belt) accomplished something North Carolina, Duke, North Carolina State and Wake Forest never have – becoming the first FBS team from North Carolina to win 12 games in a season.
Appalachian State defeated Lafayette 17-7 early this season on the road, but this one wasn’t nearly as competitive.
The Mountaineers entered the game averaging 38.9 points per game and showed their firepower in the first half by scoring touchdowns on their first five possessions – the first three by Evans – to build a 35-14 lead.
Thomas got things going when he found Evans on a perfectly executed screen pass on third-and-15, resulting in a 58-yard touchdown less than two minutes into the game. After defensive tackle E.J. Scott forced and recovered a fumble at midfield on Lafayette’s next possession, the Mountaineers cashed in with a 8-yard touchdown run by Evans. Then Thomas made it 21-0 when he connected with Evans in the flat for a 5-yard score.
Levi Lewis threw for a Sun Belt championship game-record 354 yards and four touchdowns for Lafayette (10-3, 8-2). But the left-hander turned the ball over twice, including an interception that returned 16 yards for a score by linebacker Josh Thomas in the third quarter that gave App State a 42-17 lead.
Florida Atlantic 49, UAB 6: Lane Kiffin and Florida Atlantic are Conference USA champions again.
And now all eyes are on Kiffin’s next move.
Chris Robison threw for 267 yards and four touchdowns, BJ Emmons ran for a pair of scores and Florida Atlantic rolled past UAB 49-6 at Boca Raton, Florida, for the Owls’ second Conference USA title in Kiffin’s three seasons as coach.
Malcolm Davidson rushed for 128 yards and Deangelo Antoine had five catches for 112 yards for the Owls (10-3), who had no trouble with the league’s top-ranked defense. UAB (9-4) allowed a season-high in points and a season-high 585 yards.
Pac-12 (late Friday)
No. 13 Oregon 37, No. 5 Utah 15: CJ Verdell ran for 208 yards and broke open the game with two long touchdown runs in the fourth quarter, and Oregon spoiled Utah’s playoff hopes at Santa Clara, California.
The Utes (11-2, No. 5 CFP) came into the game hoping to make a case for one of the four playoff spots with a conference title but instead got overmatched by Oregon (11-2, No. 13 CFP) and lost their second straight Pac-12 championship game.