ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The 110th game between Ohio State and Michigan might have been the most thrilling, a back-and-forth affair that came down to one final play.
The Wolverines went for the win — and the Buckeyes stayed undefeated.
Tyvis Powell intercepted Devin Gardner’s 2-point conversion pass with 32 seconds left and No. 3 Ohio State held on for a 42-41 victory against Michigan on Saturday as one of the greatest rivalries in sports added another memorable chapter to its storied history.
"That’s an instant classic," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said.
Gardner threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Devin Funchess to make it 42-41, but instead of kicking for the tie and possibly pushing the game to overtime, Wolverines coach Brady Hoke asked his players if they wanted to go for it and got a unanimous response.
"We played the game to win," Hoke said.
Gardner tried to zip a pass to Drew Dileo into traffic near the goal line, but Powell came up with it and the quarterback was left lying on his back with his arms extended to his side, the back of his helmet resting on the cold turf.
"We felt like we could win the game right there," Gardner said, looking and sounding as saddened as any athlete after a setback.
Buckeyes cornerback Roby Bradley recovered the onside kick to seal Ohio State’s 24th consecutive victory and keep its national championship hopes alive.
Meyer insisted the streak was not as significant as winning his second game in as many tries against Michigan.
"No question — the win over our rival is better," he said.
Braxton Miller accounted for a career-high matching five touchdowns for Ohio State (12-0, 8-0) and Carlos Hyde ran for a 1-yard score with 2:20 left to make it 42-35.
No. 2 Florida State 37, Florida 7
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Kelvin Benjamin shook off one tackler and then three more, bullying his way into the end zone to finish off Florida State’s most impressive play on a day filled with them.
Benjamin was clearly a mismatch — just like the game.
Jameis Winston threw three touchdown passes to Benjamin, and No. 2 Florida State moved a step closer to playing for the national championship with a 37-7 victory against rival Florida on Saturday.
"Tremendous," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "KB has real advantages with his size, speed and athleticism. He can be a very, very special player, and he’s starting to develop into that guy."
The Seminoles improved to 12-0 for the first time since 1999 and likely will earn a spot in the Bowl Championship Series title game by beating Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game next Saturday.
Florida, meanwhile, ended its worst season since 1979.
The Gators (4-8) lost their final seven games and missed a bowl for the first time since 1990. Florida’s bowl streak had been the second-longest in the country, behind Florida State.
"We hit rock bottom this year," Florida guard Max Garcia said. "I feel like the only way we can go is up."
The Seminoles were four-touchdown favorites in a lopsided matchup that lived up to advance billing.
Although the outcome was never in doubt, the Gators made it interesting early with some stout defense. They hit Winston several times, even late once, and stuffed FSU’s running game.
No. 11 Michigan State 14, Minnesota 3
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Max Bullough left the field after one last victory at Spartan Stadium, and although the focus would quickly turn to next weekend’s Big Ten title game, the Michigan State linebacker didn’t want to let go of this moment.
"I looked back right before I walked in the tunnel, and just tried to take it in," said Bullough, a senior. "Just tried to stop for a minute. That’s one of the things that’s hard for me — to just stop for a minute and understand not only the players I’ve played with, the coaches I’ve had, but all the hard work."
Bullough led another fabulous effort by the Michigan State defense, and the 11th-ranked Spartans wrapped up an unbeaten regular season in Big Ten play with a 14-3 victory over Minnesota on Saturday. Jeremy Langford ran for 134 yards and a touchdown for Michigan State, which had already clinched a spot in next weekend’s league championship game against Ohio State.
The Spartans went undefeated at home for the third time in four years. They’ve also reached 11 wins in each of those seasons, but Michigan State has not played in the Rose Bowl since 1988.
No. 12 Oregon 36, Oregon State 35
EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon State receivers Richard Mullaney and Brandin Cooks crumbled to the turf as time ran out on their chance to beat rival Oregon in the 117th edition of the Civil War.
Marcus Mariota hit Josh Huff with a 12-yard touchdown pass with 29 seconds left to put the 12th-ranked Ducks up by a point Friday night. The Beavers got the ball back, but Oregon’s pumped-up defense held on for a 36-35 victory over the valiant Beavers.
While there was obvious disappointment in the loss, Oregon State took pride in making it a close game.
"I’m proud of my guys," cornerback Rashaad Reynolds said. "We worked and we didn’t give up. We got down early, 14-0, and I’m sure everybody else thought the game was over, but we kept pushing."
Penn St. 31, No. 14 Wisconsin 24
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Christian Hackenberg threw for 339 yards and four touchdowns, and Penn State pounced on a slew of blunders before holding off a late rally to upset No. 14 Wisconsin 31-24 on Saturday.
Hackenberg, a freshman, showed the poise of a veteran in dissecting a tough defense. Eugene Lewis caught two touchdowns, including a 59-yarder for a 17-point lead with 13 minutes to go.
The Nittany Lions (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten) secured a statement win against a team that had been dominant all year at home. Joel Stave threw for three touchdowns for Wisconsin (9-3, 6-2), though Penn State capitalized on second-half interceptions, turning one into Lewis’ long TD.
The Badgers got within a touchdown late, but were picked off in the end zone with 1 second left.
No. 24 Duke 27, North Carolina 25
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Duke coach David Cutcliffe and his players talked openly all season about winning a division title and earning a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
On Saturday, the No. 24 Blue Devils made the once-thinkable goal a reality — complete with Cutcliffe being carried off the field as his players celebrated with Duke fans in their rival’s stadium.
Ross Martin kicked a 27-yard field goal with 2:22 left for a 27-25 win at North Carolina, clinching the Coastal Division championship with the Blue Devils’ eighth straight victory. Duke faces No. 2 Florida State in next weekend’s ACC title game in Charlotte, where the heavy underdog Blue Devils will go for their first league crown since 1989.
"It’s easy to look forward to next week," left guard Dave Harding said, "but right now I think it’s OK to kind of revel in what we’ve just done."
Anthony Boone threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns to Jamison Crowder for the Blue Devils (10-2, 6-2 ACC), who also secured the long-suffering program’s first 10-win season. DeVon Edwards returned a kickoff for a 99-yard touchdown and had the game-sealing interception with 13 seconds left to turn away the Tar Heels (6-6, 4-4).
That play started the celebration on the Duke sideline. Minutes after Boone’s kneel down closed it out, defensive linemen Sydney Sarmiento and Justin Foxx had hoisted Cutcliffe on their shoulders, giving the sixth-year coach a great view of his Blue Devils mingling with celebrating fans in a corner of UNC’s Kenan Stadium.
"It was pretty special, a great moment," Cutcliffe said. "I don’t mind these Gatorade baths. Our equipment people have to kind of figure out how to launder all that stuff I’m wearing."
Cutcliffe inherited a program that had gone 2-33 in the three seasons before his arrival and hadn’t had a winning record or reached a bowl since 1994.
He got the Blue Devils back to a bowl last year. Now his Blue Devils — eligible for a bowl in consecutive seasons for the first time — are going for more.
"He’s the first one to really come here when the team was in the dumps and say, ‘I’m going to change this program around,’" Boone said of Cutcliffe. "And people were laughing at him. It all goes back to him."