179 points, 2 epic playoff games and one great day
3:00 AM ET Pete ThamelESPN ATLANTA-As Ohio State kicker Noah Ruggles lined up to attempt the game-winning 50-yard field goal
, midnight approached on the East Coast. As millions waited for the ball to drop and a brand-new year to start, a rollicking day of college football sped toward a crescendo.Georgia led Ohio State by one point, 42-41, and Kirby Smart called a time out to try to ice Ruggles. A
din of worry, loathing and anticipation filled Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the ideal emotional cocktail for a semifinal day the sport had waited almost a years to unfold in such a manner.College Football Playoff executive director Costs Hancock stood unassumingly near the objective line where Ohio State was attempting to kick. He stated success prior to a victor had been chosen.”What a great day for college football,” he beamed.The initially wire-to-wire fascinating semifinal day the sport had actually seen came right as the present system is on the cusp of ending. It’s the second-to-last year of the present four-team format, as too many blowouts in the prior eight seasons had led, in part, to the sport broadening to a 12-team playoff starting in the 2024 season.2 Related The four-team system was too predictable, and after that along came two games that nobody could have seen coming.Ruggles shanked his field goal left, a knuckleball to sputter in the New Year.
Georgia took a knee one time, and the game ended at 12:01 a.m., one of the fantastic days in the recent history of the sport taking the span of two different years to complete. Fittingly, the drama couldn’t quite fit in one.The missed out on field goal triggered a wild Georgia celebration in the middle of the field, the final reminder of how captivating, agonizing and confounding college football can be.On the outskirts of Phoenix, TCU swaggered in as a 7.5-point underdog earlier in the day and unleashed among the most bedeviling upsets in the recent history of the sport. The No. 3 Horned Frogs never flinched, unfurling 51 points on a defense that permitted approximately 13.4 points per game this season.In downtown Atlanta, No. 4 Ohio State appeared poised to clinch the game in the final minute of the third quarter till a game-changing hit by Georgia’s Javon Bullard avoided a goal and knocked star Ohio State wideout Marvin Harrison Jr. from the game.
That struck altered the course of the night for Georgia, and might be the pivot point if it clinches back-to-back nationwide titles.The No. 1 Bulldogs will play No. 3 TCU for the national title, with Georgia wanting to become simply the sport’s first to win back-to-back titles in a decade, because Alabama last achieved the double in 2012. TCU will remain in search of the program’s very first national title because 1938, and they’ll welcome anybody to presume they’re just SEC fodder. Just ask Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy, who cast them as Big Ten pal. In fact, you couldn’t, since he bolted from his press conference after one concern in the wake of the loss,
sounding a lot less lofty than in his pre-game forecasts of Michigan pushing around TCU. TCU fans cheer during the first half of the Vrbo Feast Bowl(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)A day that started imagining the Big 10 having a set of teams in the nationwide title game ended with the league going empty handed. The league’s focus goes from
the anticipatory euphoria of the conference’s first nationwide title given that 2014 to the
management concerns hovering over the league, with Commissioner Kevin Warren having actually spoken with to end up being the president of the Chicago Bears. It just took one minute into 2023 for the Big Ten’s concerns to be ushered to the forefront.Here in Atlanta, a pall of missed out on opportunity hung over the Ohio State locker space. Gene Smith went out of the locker room, hugged Ryan Day’s wife, Nina, and ambled off into the night shaking his head in shock. Staffers whispered about the exact same hollow feeling that emerged back in 2019, when Ohio State misused numerous opportunities to beat a Trevor Lawrence-led Clemson team.The players and coaches dwelled on all the little things. The squandered effort of quarterback C.J. Stroud, who threw for 348 yards, 4 touchdowns and all of a sudden channeled his inner-Braxton Miller with a flurry of second-half scrambles. They regreted the misused effort of the interior of Ohio State’s offensive line, which reduced the effects of Jalen Carter.They wondered what could have been different if not for Harrison’s lack as the offense went stagnant in the 4th quarter. There was, obviously, the missed field goal that would have won the game. The reversed targeting get in touch with the Harrison struck that would have offered Ohio State a first-and-goal. The protective collapse in the fourth quarter after damaging Georgia’s offending line
to shut them out in the 3rd quarter.” There were a great deal of plays you want you had back as coaches and players, “OSU coach Ryan Day stated.”That’s what takes place in a game like this.”The most searing what if– and most likely the best coaching counter of the night– came when Ohio State appeared to have performed a phony punt in the 4th quarter. On a fourth-and-1 on its own 34-yard line, Ohio State sneaked two offensive linemen onto its punt team for the very first time this season– guard Donovan Jackson and back-up Josh Fryar.The Buckeyes were up 11 points, and tight end Mitch Rossi appeared to sprint toward a first down that would have given them the ball near midfield. A flash prior to the snap, Georgia coach Kirby Smart called a timeout.”It looked like a first down was going to be made,”Ohio State special groups coach Parker Fleming said. “They did a great job calling the timeout there.”In the second half of the Michigan game, Ohio State had a similar play called, however the long snapper missed the call and, with it, a large open lane for an initially down that might have changed the game. The photos of the missed opportunity live in Twitter lore, and Fleming might only shake his head.”Different formation, a little different workers,”he stated. “Similar situation, I guess.”Which’s what occurs with classic games. The stakes get so high, that the momentum shifts violently. And the loser can only dwell on all the important things that could have been, as Stroud referenced a” agony of mind “leaving the field.”It’s a loss for words,”Stroud stated,”when it comes down to one play.” After a day of 179 total points, 2,016 total lawns and limitless hairpin turns of momentum, midnight struck, and the whole sport was close to speechless. “That was unique, “marveled UGA quarterback Stetson Bennett.A day of semifinal games that had actually historically left audiences tired and unhappy, ended in dramatic fireworks. Lastly, the drama matched the stakes, and the sport got a celebratory semifinal day that had actually long been overdue.