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Auburn victory shakes up BCS title race

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The Associated Press | November 30, 2013 09:54 PM EST | AP


Auburn's latest miracle victory, and Ohio State's thrilling win against Michigan, has opened the door to the BCS title game to the Buckeyes.

Or has it?

The debate has already begun, though there is still so much left to be decided. And as Saturday proved, nothing can be assumed in college football.

No. 4 Auburn used a field goal return TD on the last play of regulation to beat No. 1 Alabama 34-28 and clinch a spot in the SEC title game next week against either South Carolina or Missouri.

No. 3 Ohio State's 42-41 victory over Michigan sent the Buckeyes to the Big Ten title game against No. 11 Michigan State with an unbeaten record.

No. 2 Florida State will take over the top spot in the BCS standings and polls on Sunday, and the Buckeyes will likely be second. The Seminoles play Duke in the ACC title game next Saturday.

But the question is already being asked: If Auburn can win the SEC title with one loss, should it go to the BCS championship over an undefeated team, like Ohio State, because it played a tougher schedule?

No. 4 AUBURN 34, No. 1 ALABAMA 28

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Chris Davis returned a missed field-goal attempt more than 100 yards for a touchdown on the final play to lift No. 4 Auburn over No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, upending the two-time defending national champions' BCS hopes and preserving the Tigers' own.

Davis caught the ball about 9 yards deep in the end zone after freshman Adam Griffith's 57-yard attempt fell short. He then sprinted down the left sideline and cut back with nothing but teammates around him in a second straight hard-to-fathom finish for the Tigers (11-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference).

Auburn clinched a spot in the SEC championship game with the stunning victory over the powerhouse from across the state. The Crimson Tide (11-1, 7-1) seemed at several times poised to continue its run toward the first three-peat in modern college football.

AJ McCarron completed 17 of 29 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns for Alabama.

Auburn's Nick Marshall was 11-of-16 passing for 97 yards but also rushed 17 times for 99 yards.

Tre Mason ran 29 times for 164 yards and a touchdown for Auburn.

No. 2 FLORIDA STATE 37, FLORIDA 7

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jameis Winston threw three touchdown passes to Kelvin Benjamin, and Florida State moved a step closer to playing for the national championship.

The Seminoles improved to 12-0 for the first time since 1999 and likely will earn a spot in the Bowl Championship Series title game by beating Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game next Saturday.

Florida, meanwhile, ended its worst season since 1979.

The Gators (4-8) lost their final seven games and missed a bowl for the first time since 1990. Florida's bowl streak had been the second-longest in the country, behind Florida State.

The Seminoles were four-touchdown favorites in this lopsided matchup — that lived up to advance billing.

No. 3 OHIO STATE 42, MICHIGAN 41

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Tyvis Powell intercepted Devin Gardner's pass as Michigan went for a go-ahead 2-point conversion with 32 seconds left and Ohio State held on in one the most thrilling games in the history of the storied Big Ten rivalry.

Devin Gardner threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Devin Funchess to make it 42-41, but instead of kicking for the tie, Wolverines coach Brady Hoke went for the lead with his offense.

Gardner tried to zip a pass into traffic near the goal line, but Powell came up with it. Buckeyes cornerback Roby Bradley recovered the onside kick to seal Ohio State's 24th consecutive victory and keep its national championship hopes alive.

Braxton Miller accounted for five touchdowns for Ohio State (12-0, 8-0) and Carlos Hyde ran for a 1-yard score with 2:20 left to make it 42-35.

Gardner threw four touchdown passes for Michigan (7-5, 3-5).

No. 9 BAYLOR 41, TCU 38

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Bryce Petty threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, and Baylor returned two interceptions for scores.

The Bears (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) scored 21 straight points on either side of halftime with just 1 yard from their high-powered offense and bounced back from a blowout loss at Oklahoma State to maintain their hopes for a share of the conference title.

Baylor could win the league outright and qualify for a BCS bid, likely the Fiesta Bowl, if it beats Texas and the Cowboys lose to Oklahoma next Saturday.

The Horned Frogs (4-8, 2-7) were in position to tie in the final seconds, but Casey Pachall threw his third interception on a pass tipped by receiver Brandon Carter and grabbed by Baylor's Terrell Burt in the end zone with 11 seconds left.

No. 11 MICHIGAN STATE 14, MINNESOTA 3

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Jeremy Langford ran for 134 yards and a touchdown, and Michigan State wrapped up an unbeaten regular season in Big Ten play.

The Spartans (11-1, 8-0) finished a perfect Big Ten regular season for only the third time. They also did it in 1965 and 1966, when they only had to play seven conference games.

Michigan State will face Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game next weekend. The Spartans had already wrapped up the Legends Division title, but there was no letdown against Minnesota (8-4, 4-4).

The Spartans' top-ranked defense forced three turnovers and kept the Golden Gophers out of the end zone, repeating a formula that has brought Michigan State within a win of the Rose Bowl.

PENN STATE 31, No. 14 WISCONSIN 24

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Christian Hackenberg threw for 339 yards and four touchdowns, and Penn State pounced on a slew of blunders before holding off a late rally to upset Wisconsin.

Hackenberg, a freshman, showed the poise of a veteran in dissecting a tough defense. Eugene Lewis caught two touchdowns, including a 59-yarder for a 17-point lead with 13 minutes to go.

The Nittany Lions (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten) secured a statement win against a team that had been dominant all year at home. Joel Stave threw for three touchdowns for Wisconsin (9-3, 6-2), though Penn State capitalized on second-half interceptions, turning one into Lewis' long TD.

The Badgers got within a touchdown late, but were picked off in the end zone with 1 second left.

No. 24 DUKE 27, NORTH CAROLINA 25

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Ross Martin kicked a 27-yard field goal with 2:22 left and Duke completed an improbable run to reach the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

Anthony Boone threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns to Jamison Crowder as the Blue Devils (10-2, 6-2 ACC) clinched the Coastal Division championship with their eighth straight victory. DeVon Edwards' interception with 13 seconds left clinched the long-suffering program's first 10-win season.

Duke will face No. 2 Florida State next weekend in Charlotte, where the heavy underdog Blue Devils will go for their first ACC crown since 1989.

Duke led 24-15 in the third quarter but needed to rally to beat the rival Tar Heels (6-6, 4-4).

Marquise Williams ran for two scores and threw for another for UNC, which had won five straight.