Survival Saturday Delivers Epic Sprint to 2022 College Football Playoff | News, scores, highlights, stats and rumours

WACO, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 19: Place kicker Griffin Kell #39 of the TCU Horned Frogs celebrates with punter Jordy Sandy #31, offensive tackle Brandon Coleman #77, tight end Alex Honig #82 and tight end Carter Ware #47 of the TCU Horned Frogs after the winning last-second field goal against Baylor Bears at McLane Stadium on November 19, 2022 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Throughout the fall, there are many helpful reminders that college football season is a marathon, not a sprint. Early losses can be overcome, hot-starting teams can fade quickly, and all sorts of rapid changes can happen.

But with the leaderboards reaching triple zeros in Week 12, the 2022 campaign has reached a turning point.

This is no longer a 16.2 mile effort.

There are only 100 yards left – and Usain Bolt is not on the track.

Four programs – Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan and TCU – have the cleanest run to the College Football Playoff. Still, we have little confidence in what this race of undefeated teams, LSU, USC and Clemson, will look like at the finish.

All the proof you need is the stressful Saturday of week 12.

Early in the afternoon, TCU escaped Baylor with a thrilling 29-28 win. TCU trailed for most of the game, but scored nine points in the final 127 seconds, highlighted by Griffin Kell’s walk-off 37-yard field goal on a clutch, well-rehearsed “fire drill” kick.

The story of the season continued for TCU, which has produced five second-half comebacks on their way to 11-0. The team will host Iowa State next weekend for the Big 12 Championship Game.

Minutes later, Michigan tied the Horned Frogs at 11-0 while avoiding an offense-to-injury attack against Illinois.

Star running back Blake Corum, a leading Heisman Trophy contender, left the game with a knee injury. He played one moment in the second half, but immediately headed to the touchline and did not return. While head coach Jim Harbaugh said the knee is “structurally good,” according to Larry Lage of the Associated Press, Corum’s status is very concerning for UM.

But a kicker also saved the day for the Wolverines.

Jake Moody set a program record when he spectacularly scored his 65th career field goal. The senior buried four tries in the second half, interrupted by a 35-year-old with nine seconds left to seal Michigan’s jittery 19-17 victory.

Michigan travels to Ohio State this Saturday, and the rival Buckeyes dodged a bid of their own in Maryland.

In short, Maryland just didn’t give up.

Ohio State trailed 13–10 at halftime, but scored 17 consecutive points in the third quarter. Disaster avoided, right? Not so much. Maryland narrowed the gap to six. Ohio State answered with a touchdown, but the Terps got two points on a blocked extra point and followed with a touchdown. They forced a turnover on downs to create a possible start.

Even when that possession ended without a Maryland score, the Buckeyes felt the nerves to the bitter end—a last-second sack fumble touchdown that rounded out the 43-30 score.

Georgia had a less dramatic afternoon, but the best team in the country didn’t have an inspiring day in Kentucky either.

With regard to the UK’s underrated home field advantage, Mark Stoops’ side just lost to Vanderbilt last weekend. On paper, Georgia should have had little trouble sending the hosts. Instead, UGA reeled through the 16-6 victory and only breathed a sigh of relief when Kentucky missed a 38-yard field goal in the final five minutes of regulation.

Georgia will be a heavy favorite over Georgia Tech this coming weekend, but sixth-place LSU looms in the SEC Championship Game.

For these programs – as well as USC, which holds off rival UCLA 48-45 – the main takeaway is the addition to the win column. Unlike Tennessee and No. 13 North Carolina, who are in fifth place, they shied away from a major challenge this weekend. They are a critical step closer to the 2022 College Football Playoff.

But there’s no time to drift into the pack and catch your breath.

The last two weeks of the season are not a marathon. No, this is a championship-deciding sprint.

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