College Football Playoff Semi-Finals Recap: New Records Aplenty
Last week, I wrote that New Year’s Eve as a date for college football playoff games didn’t make sense. The ratings said it didn’t work. Social schedules said it didn’t work. The NCAA is crazy for trying to compete against NEW YEAR’S EVE. Then December 31st, 2022, happened.
If we’re being results-based, the NCAA’s push to air playoff games on New Year’s Eve paid off. The two spectacular games played on New Year’s Eve 2022 averaged 21.7 million viewers. The games were the highest-rated match-ups since 2018.
Let’s look at the match-ups and highlight the records broken in these games.
The first game was Big Ten champion Michigan v Big 12 champion TCU. Before this game, the Big 12 was 0-4 in College Football Playoff games. After their slip-up in the Big 12 title game against Kansas State, TCU wanted to prove they belonged in the College Football Playoff.
The Horned Frogs leaped out to a 21-6 lead at halftime, powered by a first-quarter pick-6 of Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy and two Max Duggan touchdowns – one on the ground and one through the air.
The game went to another level in the 2nd half. The third quarter featured a total of 44 points between the two teams. That is a new CFP record, breaking the previous record of 40 points from the fourth quarter of the 2016 national championship between Alabama and Clemson.
Michigan never retook the lead.TCU defeated the Wolverines 51-45 on their way to the national championship game in Los Angeles. It is the Big 12 conference’s first win in the College Football Playoff.
For Michigan, this is their second straight loss in the CFP semifinals. They fall to 1-6 in bowl games under head coach Jim Harbaugh.
In the second semifinal, the Georgia Bulldogs kept their chances of playing for back-to-back national championships alive by beating the Ohio State Buckeyes 42-41.
The Bulldogs only led for 109 seconds in this game – 55 seconds in the first half, and 54 seconds in the second half, the latter after completing a 14-point comeback from the end of the third quarter. The Buckeyes led at halftime 28-24. It was the first time this season that Georgia allowed more than 21 points in a half.
Ohio State was 164-1 when leading teams by at least 14 points heading into the fourth quarter. Stetson Bennett was lights out at the end of the game. On the final three possessions, Bennett went 12 for 14 passing, with 207 yards and two touchdowns.
After taking the lead with 55 seconds left, the Buckeyes drove down the field to the Georgia 31-yard line, leaving kicker Noah Ruggles with a 50-yard attempt to tie the game. The kick went wide left, and the Buckeyes are left wondering what could have been. The Bulldogs play the TCU Horned Frogs in the National Championship Game at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on January 9, 2023.
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