TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It’s championship weekend and the University of Alabama football team is left watching at home, hoping that things unfold in a favorable fashion.
Ranked No. 5 by the College Football Playoff committee, the Crimson Tide need to avoid a clean sweep by the top 4 and realize that two teams behind them are facing win-and-in situations.
It’s going to be a long, long day for the Alabama faithful and yours truly. We hope you follow along and join in via Twitter (@WritingWalsh), Facebook and the comments section below. The four-team playoff field will be announced Sunday at approximately 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
So here we go …
Midnight (ET): The possession ended with Alex Hornibrook’s 15th interception.
Final score: Ohio State 27, Wisconsin 21.
Ballgame. Thank you, Big Ten, for giving us the most competitive Power Five championship game. Now enjoy watching the playoff from the sideline.
— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) December 3, 2017
A quick final note, thank you to everyone who checked in today. It was a lot of fun and we really appreciate you being here. As soon as the final game ended we posted a quick column about Alabama’s chances that you might want to check out.
11:55 p.m. ET: Both teams have had the ball with the game on the line, and neither offense could do anything. Wisconsin subsequently had to 71 yards in 2:59 to win, and crossed midfield, but a holding call pushed the Badgers back …
11:37 p.m. ET: Ohio State kicks a field goal to pull ahead 27-21, with under 6 minutes to go. Reminder, a Wisconsin win knocks Alabama out of playoff contention. The Crimson Tide ideally wanted an unspectacular win by the Buckeyes. If they win, this will definitely qualify. Incidentally, Clemson won 38-3.
11:18 p.m ET: Boise State knocks off Fresno State at home, 17-14, which will likely knock the Bulldogs from the CFP top 25.
11:07 p.m. ET: Wisconsin touchdown, which not only makes the game tight (24-19 pending the extra point), but is making it more likely that Ohio State might get a perceived “ugly” win. That would help Alabama’s cause. Reminder, Wisconsin is almost certainly in with a win, but Ohio State has to jump up from No. 8 in the rankings.
Elsewhere, Boise State has taken a late 17-14 lead over Fresno State, but is about to punt with 2:30 remaining.
10:50 p.m. ET: Not much has changed, except the debate over Alabama and Ohio State is beginning to rage over social media. Clemson is absolutely crushing Miami, 38-0. Ohio State is up 24-13 as Wisconsin is making more and more people wonder how the Badgers were undefeated, and Fresno State is holding on to a 14-10 lead at Boise State.
Ohio State just had another turnover, but Wisconsin’s offense hasn’t done anything all night. If this keeps up it’ll be a solid win for the Buckeyes, but they aren’t scoring any brownie points.
9:51 p.m. ET: First half of the Big Ten Championship Game ends with Wisconsin blocking a field goal. Ohio State has missed a couple of passes that should have been for touchdowns, but the game is still a mismatch so far. Elsewhere, Fresno State is up 14-10. If it can hold on that will help Alabama’s résumé a little.
J.T. Barrett entered tonight 14-49 on throws 20+ yards downfield.
— CFB Film Room (@CFBFilmRoom) December 3, 2017
9:37 p.m. ET: Wisconsin’s Andrew Van Ginkel doing everything he can to keep his team in the game, forcing a fumble and recovering it, resulting in a Wisconsin field goal. Ohio State leads 21-10. If Alabama gets into the playoff, fans may want to send him a thank-you note.
9:18 p.m. ET: It’s all Ohio State. A 77-yard run by J.K. Dobbins sets up a 1-yard touchdown by J.T. Barrett. Buckeyes have 267 yards of offense so far, and we’re barely in the second quarter. Is Ohio State looking good or is Wisconsin looking bad? Both.
9:06 p.m. ET: Clemson’s game is already a rout, up 21-0 already.
Miami had allowed just 6 rushing TDs all year entering tonight's game. With 12:49 left in the first half, Clemson already has 3. It's the first time Miami has allowed 3 rush TDs in a game since 2015.
— Crooked Halery (@DavidHaleESPN) December 3, 2017
8:52 p.m. ET: Barrett just made the kind of horrible play that will not help Ohio State’s chances even if it wins the game. His pass was intercepted by Van Ginkel and returned 9 yards for touchdown. It’s 7-7. When the Buckeyes have been good, they’re pretty darn good. When they’re not … and that’s what they need to get the committee to forget about.
Just like that Barrett responds with a touchdown pass to Parris Campbell, 57 yards. Ohio State leads 14-7.
8:45 p.m. ET: Clemson scores again, is all over Miami, 14-0. Should Tigers win, they’ll almost certainly be the top seed, which means the Sugar Bowl against the No. 4 team.
8:40 p.m. ET: Second big play, Barrett to Terry McLaurin for 84-yard touchdown. That’s a 96-yard scoring drive, the longest in Big Ten Championship Game history. Ohio State up 7-0.
So far, Clemson and Ohio State are looking much better than their opponents.
Conference Championships separate teams in CFP? So, Clemson and Miami lose to Syracuse and Pitt (9-15), but still play for the ACC title. Alabama loses to AUBURN and the ACC title is held against the Tide? Nonsensical.
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) December 3, 2017
8:35 p.m CT: First big play of the Big Ten Championship Game, Ohio State interception kills a Wisconsin drive near the end zone. Alex Hornibrook was picked by Denzel Ward. That’s a deflating play, especially since it was in the red zone. Clemson still up 7-0, and Boise State up on Fresno State 3-0.
8:22 p.m., ET: Clemson scores on it first possession. Ten-play drive looked good, too. Ohio State and Wisconsin have had a possession and done nothing. Settle in folks, this one’s going going to be a grind.
8:15 p.m. ET: Ohio State defers, Wisconsin to get the ball first; Clemson with the ball against Miami. We’re off and running with the final games.
7:32 p.m. ET: Final score: Georgia 28, Auburn 7.
7:20 p.m. ET: Auburn had 488 total yards and scored 40 points in the initial meeting. It has 245 and 7, respectively, as the clock winds down. First East team to win the SEC Championship Game since 2008 (Florida).
Ok, refresher as we all pause before the night games kick off:
• Oklahoma’s in.
• Georgia’s in.
• Winner of Clemson-Miami is in.
• Wisconsin is in with a win. If Ohio State wins, it’s either the Crimson Tide or Buckeyes.
7:02 p.m. ET: Touchdown Georgia, D’Andre Swift 64 yards. Auburn’s toast.
6:48 p.m. ET: Georgia scores and gets the 2-point conversion, 21-7. So, if this holds up, Georgia and Oklahoma will be in along with Clemson-Miami winner. If Clemson wins, it probably heads to the Sugar Bowl, with the other two meeting in the Rose Bowl. Wisconsin’s in with a win against Ohio State. If Buckeyes win, the committee has a very tough decision between Alabama and Ohio State.
Georgia’s Roquan Smith has 13 tackles, 10 solo and 2 for a loss. Remember how Jarrett Stidham started the game 8 for 8? He’s now 14 of 24 for 125 yards.
This just like the other team from Alabama. They only play for an Iron bowl victory.. lol congrats on beating us and doing nothing after that smdh
— Marquis Maze (@Mazeboy4) December 2, 2017
6:43 p.m. ET: Kerryon Johnson fumbles away the ball on the first play of the fourth quarter. Auburn’s in serious trouble. … Alabama’s case is better helped with an Auburn win, but I don’t think it would take a huge hit should Georgia pull this out. Hard to say what the committee’s decision could come down to should Ohio State defeat Wisconsin.
6:33 p.m. ET: Gary Danielson on if the last playoff teams comes down to Alabama and Ohio State, the selection committee is “stuck between a rock and a hard place,” especially with those two teams. Calls Alabama the most consistent team in college football this season, “but do you leave out the Big Ten?”
Georgia kicks a field goal, extends lead to 13-7.
6:30 p.m. ET: Auburn gets a break on a questionable blocking penalty to Georgia, and then 15 yards off a punt on a dumb penalty by the Bulldogs. However, after crossing midfield the Tigers can’t do anything with it and have to punt, and it’s a touchback. Jarrett Stidham is playing on his heels, looks uncomfortable. Georgia has six penalties for 76 yards and they’ve all been big.
6:13 p.m. ET: Ok, this has nothing to do with Alabama’s playoff chances, but I have to include it. You don’t see this kind of message very often.
We sent him out with a 🏆
Good luck back home, Coach. pic.twitter.com/ivcqXm7sJr
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) December 2, 2017
Georgia just blocked a 31-yard field-goal attempt and its defensive line is stepping up. Momentum back to the Bulldogs.
6:05 p.m. ET: Second half starts, Kerryon Johnson continues to gut it out and do what he can. Gus Malzahn told CBS: “We’re going to play him. We’re going to play all of them. He’s not 100 percent, but that’s OK.” However CBS also reported Tre’ Williams (right shoulder) and Carlton Davis (undisclosed) are out for the game. Georgia punted on fourth-and-1 at midfield. This could be a big possession for Auburn.
5:35 p.m. ET: Auburn had a nice answer going, but the drive stalls following a penalty and Georgia heads to the locker room with a 10-7 lead. Bulldogs have lead in total yards, 168-136. … Key stat: Auburn has 61 yards on 22 plays since opening touchdown drive, just 30 during the second quarter.
5:20 p.m. ET: “It’s the Clemson play all over again,” Gary Danielson says when Georgia runs a pick/rub play for a touchdown that’s nullified by a penalty. Georgia has to settle for a field goal, but at 10-7 has taken over this game in terms of momentum. Without Kerryon Johnson the Tigers are one-dimensional offensively and the Bulldogs can go after the quarterback … With Florida State winning, eight of Alabama’s opponents this season now with 6-6 or better records. … From the AP: South Carolina State basketball player Tyvoris Solomon in fair condition after collapsing at N.C. State.
5 p.m. ET: Georgia gets a huge strip sack and recovery in the red zone. Hmmmm … Jarrett Stidham went 8-for-8 for 60 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter, but the Bulldogs have taken the screen pass away and Kerryon Johnson appears to have reinsured a shoulder. We could be seeing a big momentum shift here.
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 2, 2017
Auburn just got called for holding in the secondary — something both Georgia and Alabama thought the Tigers got away away with in their regular-season games. Bulldogs subsequently scored a touchdown. Game tied at 7.
Tide turning? (All rights reserved 2017 University of Alabama Athletic Association)
— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) December 2, 2017
4:45 p.m. ET: We’ve hit that part of the day that is causing a lot of angst among a lot of Alabama fans. An Auburn win would be better for the Crimson Tide’s playoff chances, but a lot of Alabama fans would rather stick their hand in a blender (don’t do that, please) than root for their biggest rival. Part of me thinks a Georgia win wouldn’t hurt Alabama much, but if we’re splitting hairs everything helps.
Dilly, dilly everyone.
I’m a bar in Tuscaloosa, rooting for Auburn, but yelling “Roll Tide!” when they score. I have confused people. pic.twitter.com/45SxHHCAl1
— Meredith Cummings (@MereCummings) December 2, 2017
4:30 p.m. ET: Auburn fakes the jump pass out of the wildcat formation, the play that worked against Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Georgia doesn’t bite, but gives up a touchdown on the subsequent play. Auburn ahead early 7-0.
Interesting quote from announcer Gary Danielson this week: “I think Auburn has proved that they’re elite at home. I don’t know if they proved to me that they are elite away from Jordan–Hare. This team is built around Kerryon Johnson. My question going into the season was, could Auburn run the ball without their second option in the Gus offense not being the quarterback? Jarrett [Stidham] can get you some key plays with 6-8 yards, but he’s not a built-in second option of a running attack like Cam [Newton] and Nick Marshall were. And I think Gus Malzahn has done a marvelous job of taking the skills of Jarrett and marrying it with the ability of Kerryon Johnson to be a work-load throwback. And it’s blended beautifully.”
So far Johnson looks ok.
Don’t know don’t care…. rooting for AU and Ohio st. Is like selling my soul…. i can’t do it…. https://t.co/HsCVSodF8l
— Alphonse Taylor (@SHANKK50) December 2, 2017
Just had the first “Dilly, dilly” ad, which for some odd reason has grown on so many people. I’ll take it over any DirectTV ad that implies I’m idiot for not liking their service (do they realize they’re just ticking everyone off?)
4:15 p.m. ET: John McDaid’s crew is doing the SEC Championship Game. That’s a different crew from the ones that did Auburn’s home wins against Georgia or Alabama. They’re under way in Atlanta.
Something that most of you won’t care about, the ESPN/ABC broadcast of the UCF game referred to “our own” Brett McMurphy on breaking the Scott Frost to Nebraska story. Brett did break the story. Thing is, he was let go in a budget cut last year and has been reporting on his own without an affiliation since.
3:55 p.m. ET: Auburn RB Kerryon Johnson officially announced as a starter … FAU won 41-17 … AAC Championship Game in double OT with news having broken that Scott Frost will leave UCF for Nebraska.
Final score: Oklahoma 41, TCU 17
3:21 p.m. ET: Just giving a shout-out to all the people who have posted comments on Facebook, thanks for joining us. Yes, the Longest Day in the headline is a reference to the 1962 movie about the D-Day invasion. If you haven’t seen it I suggest you check it out someday. Incredible cast.
This just in …
— SEC Country Auburn (@SECCountryAU) December 2, 2017
3:05 p.m. ET: Florida State 42, ULM 10. That’s a smidgen of help for Alabama as the Seminoles are at least a bowl team. BTW, FAU is crushing Notre Texas in the Conference USA title game.
3 p.m. ET: TCU goes fort on fourth-and-inches in Oklahoma territory and doesn’t get it on a bootleg run. That might be it for the Horned Frogs today … and before I could post that comment Mayfield hits a bomb for another touchdown. Alabama’s getting no help from TCU today. Pencil in Oklahoma for the playoff along with the ACC and SEC champions.
2:50 p.m. ET: Oklahoma scores on first offensive play of second half, Mykel Jones with his first touchdown of the season, 55 yards. Sooners have two-score lead again, 31-17. SEC Championship doesn’t start for another hour or so.
2:20 p.m. ET: TCU kicks a field goal, trails at halftime 24-17. I think we’re on pace for the game to end around sunset.
1:50 p.m. ET: Baker Mayfield’s 54-yard carry was the longest rushing play of his career, but doesn’t result in points as Oklahoma missed the subsequent field goal. Kyle Hicks looks like he’s trying to make up for the fumble, leads scoring drive during which Horned Frogs almost turned the ball over twice. Instead, they get a clutch catch. Oklahoma’s lead down to 17-14. We have a game again.
— Christopher Walsh (@WritingWalsh) December 2, 2017
… Numerous reports that Ole Miss has granted quarterback Shea Patterson permission to transfer. Bet he goes far, far away.
1:35 p.m., ET: The man is everywhere …
Good home visit 🐘🐘🐘🐘 pic.twitter.com/gyw8bg6GSz
— Skyler Delong (@delong1_skyler) December 2, 2017
1:30 p.m. ET: You know announcers are desperately trying to keep people from turning the channel when they open the second quarter by mentioning how often the winning team has blown big leads. Nevertheless, TCU responds with a touchdown on a deep fade into the end zone. Oklahoma 17-7. Elsewhere, FSU up at halftime, 14-0. Jimbo Fisher not invited to the Senior Day celebration.
1:20 p.m. ET: Oklahoma scores again. The touchdown drives have been 10 and 12 plays. Have the FCS playoff games kicked off yet?
1:02 p.m. ET: TCU’s first offensive play results in a fumble, recovered and returned for a touchdown by Oklahoma. Credit Kyle Hicks with the fumble and Caleb Kelly with the touchdown. That’s obviously beyond bad for Alabama. Sooners up 10-0 already.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 2, 2017
1 p.m. ET: Oklahoma comes out throwing, as if trying to win Baker Mayfield the Heisman Trophy in the first quarter. It even goes for it on fourth-and-2, but eventually has to settle for a field goal. The last time these teams played he threw for 333 yards and ran for 50 in a 38-20 victory at home.
Form the Pack Pride twitter feed: Per NC State officials, South Carolina State’s Ty Solomon is stable and responsive in the locker room.
12:45 p.m. ET: Very scary start to the sports day as a South Carolina State basketball player collapsed on the court at North Carolina State. They had to administer CPR but were able to revive him and he left on a stretcher. Both teams went to the locker room, and after a short break the South Carolina State players voted to keep playing. Horrific situation, but my hat’s off to EMT crew and doctors at the game.
South Carolina State coaches and players are crying on the sidelines. EMT crew waiting for player to respond. Player's mother also screaming, "Oh my God don't die!" Terrifying scene here at PNC Arena.
— Pack Pride (@PackPride) December 2, 2017
12:30 p.m. ET: Florida State’s up 7-0 and it’s time to turn on the first big game, Oklahoma-TCU. On the Fox pregame show none of the three analysts pick Alabama to make the playoff, and two opt for Ohio State. One of them was Robert Smith, though, who played for the Buckeyes. Me? I’m thinking about nachos … but first need lunch.
12:15 p.m. ET: FAU leads North Texas 3-0 as Lane Kiffin elbows way into the spotlight for a brief moment, and without the aid of a tweet. Memphis-UCF already looks like a track meet.
While we have a moment, a quick look at USC’s resume, which got bolstered with a win over Stanford on Friday night. We did a full comparison earlier in the week, but the Trojans are 11-2, Pac-12 champions, and went into the weekend with SOS of 26, and opponents had a record of 74-58. However, the losses were to then-No. 16 Washington State 30-27, and at No. 13 Notre Dame 49-14. That’s the game that will likely keep USC out of the playoff.
Noon: Nick Saban just wrapped up an extended visit to College Gameday, with on camera for nearly an hour. He gave some analysis, got booed by both Clemson and Miami fans alike at Charlotte, N.C. and gave the final the final line: “I hope everyone wants to put the best four teams in there, and they look at the total body of work everybody has done. If they do that, we’ll be fine.”
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) December 2, 2017
Saban eventually gave up his seat for the celebrity picker, Luther Campbell. In the games Alabama fans are zeroed in on he picked Frenso State, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Auburn and Miami, and presented Lee Corse with a memorably do-rag. Desmond Howard was the only one who picked TCU over Oklahoma.
Noon ET: Louisiana Monroe at Florida State (ACCN): Yes, seriously, Alabama needs to root for the Seminoles to be able to claim having played a bowl opponent. It’s not much, but everything counts.
12:30 p.m.: No. 11 TCU vs. No. 3 Oklahoma at Arlington, Texas (Fox): This game will set the tone for the day. Alabama might be in with a Horned Frogs win alone.
4 p.m.: No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 2 Auburn at Atlanta (CBS): Could Alabama fans really root for the Tigers? A lot of them would rather be knocked out of the playoff picture.
7:45 p.m.: No. 25 Fresno State at Boise State (ESPN): If Fresno State can stay ranked, Alabama’s 41-10 victory against the Bulldogs will count as a quality win.
8 p.m.: No. 7 Miami at No. 1 Clemson at Charlotte, N.C. (ABC): The more chaos the better for Alabama, but should Clemson and Ohio State win would anyone really want to see a rematch of last year’s semifinal blowout?
8 p.m.: No. 8 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Wisconsin at Indianapolis (Fox): Alabama fans might be on pins and needles by this point … or bourbon. If so, please don’t drink and drive (that’s your SEC Country PSA for the day).
Not sure who to credit this to, but it's been making the rounds this week … pic.twitter.com/lKL6Tnb724
— Christopher Walsh (@WritingWalsh) December 2, 2017
(Note: The Alabama Nation has taken credit for the graphic)
This story will be regularly updated throughout Saturday.