While it appeared Ohio State's playoff hopes were dead following its 45-23 loss to Michigan last weekend, the fifth-ranked Buckeyes got some much-needed help on Friday night from the team they beat in last season's Rose Bowl when No. 11 Utah upset No. 4 USC, 47-24.
The Utes fell behind 17-3 early in the second quarter but scored 24 unanswered points to take a 27-17 fourth-quarter lead. The teams traded touchdowns from there before Trojans quarterback and Heisman frontrunner Caleb Williams threw an interception near the end zone.
Utah took just three plays to effectively end the game, with running back Ja'Quinden Jackson taking a handoff 53 yards for a touchdown to put the Utes ahead, 40-24. Williams then fumbled on the ensuing drive, which was followed by a 23-yard touchdown run by Micah Bernard to reach the final score.
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The loss will not only keep USC from the College Football Playoff, but it will also send Utah to the Rose Bowl for the second year in a row, where they’ll likely play Penn State, which officials were already considering taking instead of Ohio State to avoid any potential repeat matchups.
The Buckeyes, meanwhile, will presumably move up to fourth in the playoff rankings, assuming the committee stays true to last week’s rankings and keeps them ahead of two-loss Alabama. That’s still with No. 3 TCU set to play No. 10 Kansas State in the Big XII Championship on Saturday, which could further impact the top four.
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