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Archive for Sunday, November 24, 2002

Top 25 Roundup: Buckeyes eye national championship

No. 2 Ohio State qualifies for title game with 14-9 win over No. 9 Michigan

November 24, 2002

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— Somehow, the goal posts in Ohio Stadium are still upright. And at long last, Ohio State's perfect season didn't come crashing down against Michigan, either.

Needing every last tick of the clock, the Buckeyes finally got past the Wolverines and will play for a national championship they've been chasing since 1968.

Maurice Hall scored on a 3-yard run with 4:55 left Saturday and the second-ranked Buckeyes survived two late drives by No. 12 Michigan for a 14-9 win that has Ohio State headed to the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3.

"We might not go out and score 50 points. We might not hold teams to 10 yards," said Buckeyes running back Maurice Clarett, "but we make the plays when we have to."

Will Allen intercepted John Navarre's pass just short of the end zone with 0:00 showing on the clock for the bend-but-don't-break Buckeyes (13-0, 8-0 Big Ten), who have won six games by seven points or fewer this season.

But coming against the hated Wolverines (9-3, 6-2), this nail-biter was sweeter than the rest.

"When Will made the catch, I just started crying," said safety Michael Doss, who decided to put off an NFL career by staying for his senior season. "We had faith we could win very game, that's what makes this team so special."

The Buckeyes, not expected to be national title contenders, earned a share of the Big Ten title with No. 5 Iowa (11-1) and can now sit back and wait to see who they'll play in Tempe, Ariz., on Jan. 3.

"It's time to party," said defensive end Kenny Peterson. "Fiesta, Fiesta ..."

The Buckeyes had undefeated seasons and their national title hopes wiped out in 1995 and 1996 by Michigan.

Washington 29, No. 3 Wash. St. 26, 3OT

Pullman, Wash. - John Anderson kicked five field goals, including the game-winner from 49 yards in the third overtime, and Kai Ellis forced and recovered a fumble to secure Washington's victory in the Apple Cup. The Cougars (9-2, 6-1 Pac-10) must win at UCLA on Dec. 7 to capture the conference title. Washington (7-5, 4-4) had the ball first in the third overtime, and after a sack and two incompletions, Anderson's kick sailed true. The Cougars took over, but on their first play Matt Kegel - playing because starter Jason Gesser was knocked out in the fourth quarter - fumbled.

No. 7 USC 52, No. 25 UCLA 21

Pasadena, Calif. - Carson Palmer's accurate passing and UCLA's devastating mistakes helped USC rout the Bruins. Palmer threw for 254 yards and four touchdowns, and the Trojans scored in the game's first 16 seconds and on their first three possessions.

No. 8 Notre Dame 42, Rutgers 0

South Bend, Ind. - Carlyle Holiday tied a school record with four touchdown passes and Shane Walton returned an interception 45 yards for a score.

Auburn 17, No. 9 Alabama 7

Tuscaloosa, Ala. - Freshman sub Tre Smith ran for 126 yards and Jason Campbell threw a pair of TDs to Robert Johnson to lead Auburn's stunner in the Iron Bowl.

N.C. State 17, No. 14 Florida St. 7

Raleigh, N.C. - T.A. McLendon rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown and North Carolina State's defense held No. 14 Florida State to 177 total yards.

No. 15 Penn St. 61, Michigan St. 7

State College, Pa. - Larry Johnson rushed for 279 yards and four TDs - all in the first half - and became the first Penn State back to top 2,000 yards in a rout of Michigan State (4-8, 2-6).

Virginia 48, No. 18 Maryland 13

Charlottesville, Va. - Matt Schaub threw three touchdown passes and Wali Lundy scored three times as Virginia ended the Terrapins' eight-game winning streak.

No. 20 Colorado St. 22, New Mexico 14

Fort Collins, Colo. - Colorado State converted two turnovers into touchdowns and the Rams (10-2, 6-0) clinched the Mountain West title.

No. 21 LSU 14, Ole Miss 13

Baton Rouge, La. - Marcus Randall came off the bench and threw two touchdown passes for LSU, which needed the win to stay on top in the Western Division race.

East Carolina 31, No. 22 TCU 28

Greenville, N.C. - Travis Heath returned a fumble 81 yards for a touchdown as East Carolina rallied from an 11-point deficit to end TCU's eight-game winning streak.

No. 23 Boise St. 44, Nevada 7

Reno, Nev. - Brock Forsey ran for 187 yards and four touchdowns as Boise State won its 10th straight game and the WAC title.

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