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Bo Scarbrough powers No. 1 Alabama back to championship game after Peach Bowl win over No. 4 Washington

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Faced with a 3rd and nine from their own three-yard line and Washington making a push to generate enough momentum to put a scare in Alabama, the Crimson Tide handed the ball to Bo Scarbrough. Scarbrough moved right up the middle of the field for a 12-yard gain. At that exact moment in the fourth quarter, that may have been nothing more than a sigh of relief for Alabama, having picked up a first down to get out of their own end zone, but Scarbrough was not done yet. A few plays later, Scarbrough once again broke tackles by Washington’s solid defense, and in the process of working his way 68-yards down the field for a cherry-on-top touchdown, broke the hearts of Washington faithful in Atlanta and on the west coast. Alabama, who had the upper hand for nearly the entire game, pulled away for a College Football Playoff semifinal victory in the Peach Bowl for a 24-7 victory that was fueled by capitalizing on Washington’s mistakes.

Two Washington turnover sin the first half led to 10 points for the SEC champion Crimson Tide. Jake Browning, who set the new Pac-12 single-season passing touchdown record in the first quarter, was picked off by Ryan Anderson late in the first half, and Anderson returned the interception for a touchdown. In a game in which Washington could not afford mistakes like this, the pick-six was a critical blow. The Huskies had a very good night on defense, but the offense was unable to do anything against a superior Alabama defense loaded with some of the top talent in the country, like Jonathan Allen (who recovered a fumble and was tough to get by once again). That was to be expected, but the Huskies looked like they may have found a good situation after Browning stepped back from the line of scrimmage on a fourth down play around midfield to drop a punt on the Tide. The punt pinned Alabama deep in their end, and Washington forced a third-and-nine that will likely haunt them for some time.

Moments later, Alabama was out to the 30-yard line, when Bo struck once more to get the party started a little early for the Crimson Tide fans.

Scarbrough ended his night with 180 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Washington had a total of 194 yards in the entire game.

Alabama will now await to find out their next challenger, which will be decided in the Fiesta Bowl. Ohio State and Clemson will play in the other College Football Playoff semifinal to determine Alabama’s next opponent in the national championship game. Alabama has faced each in the last two years of the College Football Playoff. Ohio State, with Ezekiel Elliott, upset the Crimson Tide en route to a national championship run two seasons ago, and Alabama outlasted Deshaun Watson and Clemson in last year’s championship game. Whoever plays Alabama should make for a very entertaining championship game.

The national championship game will be played on Monday, January 9, 2017 in Tampa. Alabama will look to become the first repeat winner in the infancy of the College Football Playoff era and clinch its fifth national championship since 2009.

The season is now over for Washington. At 12-2, there is still more than enough to be happy about this season for the Huskies under head coach Chris Petersen, and still much to look forward to moving forward as the program continues to take strides forward. Washington’s next game will be September 1, 2017 at Rutgers. The Huskies should be able to get off to a good start once again next year with nonconference games against Montana and Fresno State before opening Pac-12 play.

Report: Sam Darnold expected to return to USC in 2018

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Sam Darnold was appointed the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft on the second day of 2017. As a redshirt freshman, Darnold torched Penn State to the tune of 33-of-53 passing for 453 yards with five touchdowns and one interception in a 52-49 Rose Bowl win.

One problem, though. Darnold hasn’t played like a No. 1 pick this season.

While he hasn’t been the most disappointing player on what’s turning out to be a disappointing USC team, Darnold has posted pedestrian numbers (for him): hitting 63.5 percent of his passes for an even eight yards per attempt with 17 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. He ranks 38th nationally in passing efficiency. This puts him, coincidentally, one spot ahead of former USC quarterback Max Browne.

On Monday, NFL Draft analyst Benjamin Allbright shared a report that Darnold is expected to return to USC next season.

Considering Ronald Jones could return next season and that Stephen Carr is just a freshman, the prospect of Darnold returning in 2018 has to take the sting out of a lost 2017 for Trojans fans.

Texas QB Sam Ehlinger, C Zach Shackelford in concussion protocol

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Texas has lost two straight upset bids in strikingly similar fashion: true freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger leads a potential-game winning drive, scrambles, hits his head on the turf and ends the possession in a puzzling throw.

The first came in last week’s loss to No. 10 Oklahoma. Trailing 29-24 late in the fourth quarter, scrambled for two yards to the Texas-48 yard line but hit his head on the Cotton Bowl turf and was forced to leave the game for five plays. Shane Buechele pushed the Longhorns to the Oklahoma 31, but he was replaced after a sack and Ehlinger ended up throwing the ball away on 4th-and-13 from the OU 34 with two minutes to play. That, as they say, was that.

Fast forward to Saturday and Texas was trailing No. 11 Oklahoma State 13-10 in overtime when Ehlinger opened the possession with a scramble that again saw the back of his head bang against the Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium turf. He stayed in the game this time, but ended the game on a puzzling (to say the least) interception to absolutely no one on 3rd-and-4 from the OSU 6.

While Ehlinger was not evaluated for a concussion during the game, he did not practice Sunday and head coach Tom Herman said Monday that Ehlinger and center Zach Shackelford are in concussion protocol.

Complicating matters for Texas is that sophomore back-up Shane Buechele is playing on a gimpy ankle that kept him out against San Jose State and Kansas State that Herman said will not improve as the season goes on.

No matter, Texas will face a hungry Baylor team on Saturday (noon ET, ESPNU) that nearly completed a comeback against No. 22 West Virginia on Saturday night.

Tennessee OG Jack Jones retires due to neck injury

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The playing career of Tennessee offensive guard Jack Jones has come to an unfortunate end. On Monday, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones announced Jones was stepping away from football as injury concerns with his neck continue to interfere with playing.

Jones played in the season opener against Georgia Tech in Atlanta but has essentially been out of action for the entire season after that. After consulting with doctors, Jones came to the decision to step away from football as it became clear playing football would only put his long-term health in jeopardy.

The loss of Jones leaves Tennessee’s offensive line depth thin down the stretch. It could be quite a bumpy finish to what has already been a turbulent season in Knoxville.

Urban Meyer may have successfully talked his way out of a night trap at Iowa

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Sitting from his office in Columbus, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has been able to see just how dangerous a night game at Iowa can be. Last season, Iowa upset Michigan with the first loss suffered by the Wolverines setting off a wild finale to the Big Ten season. Earlier this season, a night game at Iowa nearly caught Penn State before the Nittany Lions managed to get out of Kinnick Stadium with a last-second victory. Knowing the history of Kinnick Stadium at night, Meyer may have managed to successfully lobby himself from having to play a night game at Iowa.

Big Ten kickoff times for Week 10 have started to come together on Monday, with Minnesota announcing it will host Michigan in primetime on FOX. The decision to have the Gophers and Wolverines in primetime was a tad puzzling considering two of the other game son the Big Ten schedule that day. Penn State is playing at Michigan State and Ohio State is playing — you guessed it — at Iowa.

The Buckeyes will be playing at either noon or 3:30 p.m. eastern on November 4, with the Nittany Lions and Spartans likely to be slotted in the other timeslot. The speculation is the 3:30 p.m. ET slot will be reserved for the winner of this week’s Ohio State-Penn State matchup, as the game will likely begin to take more weight in the College Football Playoff picture on top of the Big Ten championship hunt.

Meyer addressed concerns about playing so many road games at night this season, and perhaps the conference is responding to his concerns. Ohio State has already played four primetime games, including three on the road (Indiana, Rutgers, Nebraska). If not for the World Series coverage this weekend, odds are good the home game against Penn State would have been a lock for primetime as well. Ohio State also played a primetime game earlier this year against Oklahoma. But Meyer’s chief concern was playing so many night games on the road, as it becomes quite tiresome for players.

Was Meyer looking forward all along to prevent Ohio State from having to play a night game at Iowa? Regardless of the motive, the Buckeyes will not have to test the fates under the lights at Kinnick Stadium in two weeks.