2014 NCAA Football Conference Championship Game Recaps
PAC-12 Championship-#2 Oregon Ducks vs. #7 Arizona Wildcats
Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium, the relatively new home of the San Francisco 49ers, was the site for this contest. This marked the first time that a Pac-12 Championship Game was played in neutral setting.
The second ranked Oregon Ducks matched up against the seventh ranked Arizona Wildcats. Though this was a contest that featured pretty evenly matched teams, the game itself was never close.
Right off the bat, the Ducks erupted for 30 unanswered points. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota accounted for five touchdowns, two passing and three rushing. Mariota completed 25 of 38 passes for 313-yards and gained 33-yards on ten carries.
The Ducks gained over 300-yards on the ground. An effort that included 114-yards on 25 carries by Royce Freeman. Darren Carrington and Charles Nelson each had over 100-yards receiving.
Oregon’s offense gained 627-yards. Their defense would hold the Wildcats to 224-yards and a single touchdown. All three of Arizona’s quarterbacks combined for just nine completions in 26 attempts.
In the end, the Ducks earned the right to play in the College Football Playoff with their 51-13 rout. Oregon improved their overall record to 12-1 and claimed their second Pac-12 title in four seasons (since the championship game was established).
SEC Championship Game-#1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #16 Missouri Tigers
Out in Atlanta, the top ranked Crimson Tide of Alabama proved that they were the best team in the country. Missouri gave them a good fight, but the Tide put the game out of reach with three unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
T.J. Yeldon scored Alabama’s first two touchdowns of the contest, both on scoring runs. The Tide jumped out to a 21-3 lead, but the Tigers would close the gap to eight. Quarterback Maty Mauk threw a one-yard touchdown pass to cap off a ten play, 75-yard march.
Quarterback Blake Sims and the Alabama offense would then close the game out. Sims led scoring drives of 64, 90, and 62-yards to cage the Tigers. Two of the marches were capped off by running back Derrick Henry.
Last season’s heartbreaking loss to Auburn in the final game was now a distant memory. Alabama re-claimed the SEC by beating Missouri, 42-13. They remained as the number one team for the National Championship playoff.
Blake Sims completed 23 of 27 passes for 262-yards and threw two touchdowns. Derrick Henry gained 141-yards on 20 carries, contributing to an Alabama ground game that went on to gain 242-yards.
Regularly a deep threat, Amari Cooper showcased his skills as a possession receiver, finishing with 12 catches for 83-yards. DeAndrew White caught four passes for 101-yards, including one for a 58-yard touchdown.
Maty Mauk completed 16 of 34 passes for 272-yards and threw for the Tigers only touchdown. Mauk also benefitted from the pass-catching skills of Jimmie Hunt, who made six receptions for 169-yards. Missouri failed to establish a running game, gaining only 41-yards.
ACC Championship Game-#4 Florida State Seminoles vs. #11 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Though they were the only undefeated team in the country, the 12-0 Seminoles of Florida State dropped from one to four due to several close victories. Another close game would be in the making at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC.
Georgia Tech showed that they would be a tough opponent in the first quarter. The Yellow Jackets running game led scoring drives of 71 and 75-yards. Synjyn Dyas would score two touchdowns to give Georgia Tech a 14-7 lead.
Jameis Winston would throw a pair of first half touchdown passes. One was a 44-yard pass to tight end Nick O’Leary and the other was a 46-yard strike to wide receiver Rashad Greene. Greene would score again to give the Seminoles a 28-21 halftime lead.
The Yellow Jackets tied the score at 28 when Days found the end zone for the third time. Florida State broke the tie when kicker Roberto Aguayo kicked three field goals to give the Seminoles a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Georgia Tech would respond by driving 97-yards in six plays. Quarterback Justin Thomas closed the gap to two with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Darren Waller with 1:47 remaining. However, the Seminoles special teams would recover the ensuing onside kick.
Florida State hung on to win their third straight ACC title, 37-35. The Seminoles remained unbeaten at 13-0. Not to mention, Florida State also extended their winning streak to 29 games, a streak that extends all the way back to the 2012 ACC Championship Game.
Winston completed 21 of 30 passes for 309-yards and three touchdowns, including a pair to Rashad Greene. Greene, Florida State’s all-time leading receiver, made seven receptions for 123-yards. Delvin Cook would carry the ball 31 times for 177-yards with a touchdown.
Georgia Tech’s running game battered the Seminoles defense, gaining 331-yards. Synjyn Days ran for 67-yards on 19 carries with three scores. However, it was their quarterback, Justin Thomas, who led the team in rushing.
Thomas ran for 104-yards on 11 carries. He would also complete eight of 14 passes for 134-yards and a touchdown pass. Both teams combined for 52 first downs and 953-yards of total offense.
Big Ten Championship Game-#5 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. #13 Wisconsin Badgers
Before the season began, the Ohio State Buckeyes lost starting quarterback Braxton Miller. Going into Indianapolis, they lost J.T. Barrett to a broken ankle. Now, head coach Urban Meyer tabbed Cardale Jones as his starting quarterback for the Big Ten Championship Game.
Facing a Wisconsin team that had the 13th best scoring defense in the nation, Jones played flawlessly. He led the Buckeyes to 558-yards of total offense and 59 points. All seven of Ohio State’s touchdown scoring drives came from 60-yards or more.
Jones completed 12 of 17 passes for 257-yards and three touchdowns, all of which went to Devin Smith. Smith caught just four passes, but racked up 137-yards. Running back Ezekiel Elliot gained 220 of Ohio State’s 301 rushing yards on 20 carries and scored twice.
Wisconsin ranked fourth in the nation in rushing yards. Against the Buckeyes, they managed just 71-yards on the ground. Badgers quarterback Joel Stave completed just 17 of 43 passes and threw three interceptions. Wisconsin committed a total of four turnovers.
Ohio State redeemed itself for last season’s title game loss to Michigan State in a big way, winning 59-0. This marked the first shutout in the history of the Big Ten Championship. The Buckeyes completely neutralized Wisconsin’s chances of winning its third title in four years.
Mountain West Championship Game-#22 Boise State Broncos vs. Fresno State Bulldogs
Boise State enjoyed the home field advantage as they played host to the Fresno State Bulldogs. The matchup between the 22nd ranked Broncos and the 6-6 Bulldogs was viewed by many as a mismatch. That prediction proved real in this game.
Broncos quarterback Grant Hedrick led the offense on touchdown scoring drives of 77, 72, and 86-yards. Hedrick capped off two by scoring himself on touchdown runs. Running back Jay Ajayi scored the other touchdown.
The defense also contributed to the offenses efforts. Linebacker Tanner Vallejo intercepted a pass and ran the theft back for a 63-yard touchdown. By the third quarter, Boise State led 28-0.
Fresno State’s offense, led by quarterback Brian Burrell, would respond with two second half touchdowns. Running back Josh Quezada scored on a two-yard run which capped off a 19 play, 96-yard march in the third quarter.
Burrell would go on to complete 30 of 45 passes for 332-yards and a touchdown pass. His leading receiver was Josh Harper, who made ten receptions for 131-yards. However, Burrell’s three interceptions cost the Bulldogs.
In the end, Boise State had dethroned the defending conference champions with a 28-14 win. The Broncos improved their overall record to 11-2 while the Bulldogs dropped below the .500 mark.
Grant Hedrick completed nine of 16 passes for 155-yards. Hedrick also ran for 81-yards on nine carries with two touchdowns. Jay Ajayi pounded out 70-yards on 22 tough carries while scoring once. However, the backbone was a Boise State defense that made the key plays.
For the first time in NCAA Football history, a four team playoff will decide the 2014-15 national champions. Here is what the matchups will look like for New Year’s Day:
Teams: #2 Oregon Ducks vs. #3 Florida State Seminoles
Stadium: Rose Bowl
Location: Pasadena, California
Kickoff time: 5:00 p.m. ET
Summary: Led by quarterback and reining Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston, Florida State comes into this game with a 13-0 record. They are also the defending national champions. The Oregon Ducks, led by junior Marcus Mariota, will look to dethrone the Seminoles and put an end to their season. Mariota has accounted for 52 touchdowns this season (38 passing and 14 rushing). If there is any team capable of handing Florida State its first loss in two years, Oregon has the talent to accomplish that feat.
Teams: #1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #4 Ohio State Buckeyes
Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Superdome (Sugar Bowl)
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Kickoff time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Summary: After losing their number one spot because of a heartbreaking loss to Auburn in the regular season finale, Alabama is looking to redeem itself in this tournament. Quarterback Blake Sims has led the charge all season long, passing for 26 touchdowns and running for six more. Defensively, the Crimson Tide has one of the best units in the nation, ranking fourth in points allowed. However, they will have to contend with a Buckeyes offense that posted 59 points to win the Big Ten Championship.