Notre Dame beats USC to clinch spot in BCS championship game
Notre Dame beats USC to clinch spot in BCS championship game
The Fighting Irish downed Southern California 22-13 on Saturday to finish a perfect season and lock up a spot in the national championship game.
The SEC title game next Saturday in Atlanta will most likely determine Notre Dame’s opponent. No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia will play in that game, though Florida will make a case that it deserves to be playing the Fighting Irish.
In Tallahassee, Florida, the fourth-ranked Gators scored 24 straight fourth-quarter points behind Mike Gillislee and a hard-hitting defense to beat No. 10 Florida State 37-26.
The Gators (11-1) needed a USC upset of the Irish to work their way into the BCS championship game, because their loss to Georgia shut them out of the SEC title.
Ohio State (12-0) finished its bowl-banned season by beating rival Michigan 26-21. NCAA college sanctions will keep the Buckeyes out of the postseason and might have cost Urban Meyer’s first Ohio State team a shot at the national championship.
No. 1 Notre Dame 22 USC 13: At Los Angeles, Theo Riddick ran for 146 yards and a touchdown, Kyle Brindza kicked five field goals, and Notre Dame earned a chance to play for its first national title since 1988.
Everett Golson passed for 217 yards as the Fighting Irish (12-0) completed their first perfect regular season since that title campaign.
Although they did little with flash on an electric night at the Coliseum, the Irish woke up more echoes of past Notre Dame greats with a grinding effort in this dynamic intersectional rivalry with USC (7-5), which has lost three of four.
Notre Dame’s hard-nosed defense appropriately made the decisive stand in the final minutes, keeping USC out of the end zone on four plays from the 1 with 2:33 to play.
No. 2 Alabama 49 Auburn 0: In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, AJ McCarron passed for four touchdowns and Eddie Lacy ran 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.
None of that will come as easily as this one. Auburn (3-9, 0-8) completed the worst season for any team within two years of winning an Associated Press national title in what might have been the last game for embattled coach Gene Chizik.
The biggest Iron Bowl margin was Alabama’s 55-0 victory in 1948.
No. 3 Georgia 42 Georgia Tech 10: At Athens, Georgia, 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. 4 Ohio State 26, No. 20 Michigan 21: At Columbus, Ohio, Carlos Hyde ran for 146 yards and Ohio State’s defense shut out Michigan in the second half to complete a 12-0 season.
It was a sweet win for the Buckeyes, just 6-7 last season with a loss to their archrivals in a transitional year in which they were facing heavy NCAA penalties. After Urban Meyer took the job as head coach a year ago, they were socked with a bowl ban after this season — and still ran the table.
Ohio State (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten) is ineligible for a BCS national title but still has an outside shot at finishing No. 1 in the final Associated Press Top 25 if other contenders lose. Michigan (8-4, 6-2) will now await a minor bowl bid.
No. 5 Oregon 48 No. 16 Oregon State 24: At Corvallis, Oregon, 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.
No. 6 Florida 37 No. 10 Florida State 26: At Tallahassee, Florida, Mike Gillislee ran for two touchdowns and the Gators beat their rivals to stay in the national title hunt.
Florida regained the lead 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.
Florida (11-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) came into the game fourth in the BCS standings Florida State (10-2, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) was hurt by five turnovers in the game. The Seminoles will play Georgia Tech next week in the ACC title game.
No. 9 Texas A&M 59 Missoui 29: At College Station, Texas, Johnny Manziel threw for 372 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two more scores in his last chance to make a Heisman statement.
The Aggies (10-2, 6-2 SEC) scored touchdowns on their first six drives to build a 42-7 halftime lead and coast to their first 10-win season since 1998.
About the only drama in this one came when Manziel was shaken up on a tackle at the end of a run in the first quarter.
But Johnny Football missed just four plays before returning with a brace on his left knee. And it didn’t seem to slow him down one bit.
Manziel added 67 yards rushing and completed 32 of 44 passes on Saturday. He has thrown for 24 touchdowns and ran for 19 this season.
The win snaps A&M’s three-game losing streak to Missouri (5-7, 2-6 SEC), and kept the Tigers from becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2004.
No. 11 Stanford 35 No. 15 UCLA17: At Pasadena, California, Stepfan Taylor ran for 142 yards and two touchdowns, Kevin Hogan passed for 160 yards and another score, and Stanford won the Pac-12 North and a rematch with the Bruins in the conference championship game.
The Cardinal (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12) found out about 10 minutes before the opening kickoff that No. 5 Oregon (11-1, 8-1) had beaten No. 16 Oregon State 48-24, meaning they had to win to qualify for another shot at UCLA — a game Stanford will host next Friday.
The Cardinal, who have three straight 10-win seasons for the first time, beat Oregon 17-14 in overtime last weekend.
Liverpool's Andrew Robertson ready for Roma Champions League test
- Young Scottish star was very impressive during Liverpool's 5-1 aggregate destruction of Man City in last-eight clash.
- Robertson refuses to take Roma lightly after their shock victory over Barcelona in the last round.
LIVERPOOL: With a desire stoked in the stands of Parkhead, Andrew Robertson is now fired up to fulfil a childhood dream.
While following the fortunes of Celtic, the defender’s first Champions League final memory was when Zinedine Zidane volleyed Real Madrid to success in 2002 as the contest was staged in Robertson’s home city of Glasgow. He was just eight years old.
While Robertson was deemed too small to play for his boyhood idols, released at 15 with a future uncertain, he has grown to prove his worth on Europe’s biggest club stage with Liverpool.
Now, with a semifinal encounter against AS Roma after beating Premier League champions Manchester City in the last eight, he wants to emulate those Reds heroes who lifted the trophy five times before.
“I was a big Celtic fan growing up and my heroes were Henrik Larsson and Co,” Robertson told Arab News ahead of tonight’s first-leg clash at Anfield.
“But these heroes who have won the European Cup and Champions League for Liverpool, you have to look up to them — and we want to emulate them and hopefully get a winner’s medal too.
“The club’s won it five times and the history of the club has always been this, the Champions League, where the fans create a special atmosphere and the club challenges for the trophy. It would be unbelievable to be a part of that history.
“This is the highlight for me so far and an incredible feeling, but it just makes you hungry for more. I don’t want it to end.
“As a kid, you sit back and watch how great it would be to play in this competition, let alone in the final.
“I always used to go to Celtic and we didn’t progress very far in the Champions League, but the occasions at Parkhead were always unbelievable.
“The fans at Celtic are incredible, world renowned, but Anfield was unbelievable against Man City and we have another chance for them to create that same atmosphere and hopefully we can put in another great performance.” Having beaten Pep Guardiola’s City so convincingly, 5-1 over two gripping games, Liverpool will start favorites against Roma.
That is despite the Italians upsetting Barcelona in the previous round with an epic 3-0 win in the second leg after a 4-1 loss at the Nou Camp.
But Robertson will take nothing for granted against a Roma side who last reached the final in 1984 where they were beaten by Liverpool in a penalty shootout at their Stadio Olimpico home.
“Barca are an unbelievable team,” added the Scotland left-back, 24. “But let’s not kid ourselves. For Roma to score three goals against Barcelona, that’s special.
“They’ve been unbelievable this season too in the Champions League and deserve to be in the semifinals. It will definitely not be an easy game.
“But once you get to the semis, the fear of who you are playing has gone because you know how good the teams are.
“It’s like you look forward to the possibility of playing in the final, that’s what drives you forward. We will have fire in our bellies because we are so close to getting there.”
Jurgen Klopp’s men will no doubt be looking to Mohamed Salah to conjure more magic against the club he left in the summer for £36.9 million ($51.5 million). But Robertson insisted Liverpool are no one-man team and the Egyptian, crowned PFA Player of the Year on Sunday night after scoring 41 goals in an unforgettable campaign, epitomizes a team united and ambitious in their quest for glory. “He’s just unbelievable,” said Robertson of the frontman.
“In the first half (of the second leg) against Man City we struggled to get him in the game and he wasn’t quite at it. But the second half he was different class and pops up with a goal to help us win it. That’s what he does.
“His goals have been incredible and long may that continue. He’s a great guy, so humble, and for someone who has done so much this season he’s so down to Earth.
“That’s credit to our squad because we don’t let anyone get ahead of themselves.
“Mo is no different, he’s a lovely person and stands for what we are as a team.”
HEART OF GOLD
Five years ago Andrew Robertson was playing in the fourth tier of Scottish football with Queen’s Park and earning extra money by selling concert tickets in the corporate offices at Hampden Park.
Last summer he suffered relegation from the Premier League with Hull City before Liverpool signed him for £10 million ($13.9 million).
In a career fraught with setbacks and hardships, he has been grateful, supporting foodbanks that help those in need.
“It’s all about giving something back to the less fortunate,” said Robertson.
“I’m in a fortunate position where I do a job I love and get paid well and it’s nice to give something back, especially in my hometown. I’ll always do that.
“It’s been a great journey for me in my career, and I’ve enjoyed every minute. But I don’t forget where I came from. Maybe it is rare, but a lot more people are doing it now and I hope even more will.”