Within minutes of each other on Saturday afternoon, both the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines and No. 4 TCU Horned Frogs held off upset-minded conference foes and kept their undefeated seasons and College Football Playoff chances alive.
In the timeline, TCU’s game against the Baylor Bears ended first. Baylor held the lead for much of the fourth quarter. The Horned Frogs, down eight, got a touchdown from Emari Demercado with 2:07 to play, but couldn’t convert the 2-point try and trailed 28-26. TCU got the ball back with 1:30 to play and, without any timeouts, made it to the Baylor 24-yard line.
With the clock ticking away, the TCU field goal team rushed onto the field for a 40-yard attempt. Griffin Kell nailed it and, with the 29-28 win, TCU was still in the hunt for a playoff spot. It was TCU’s first road win after trailing by eight or more in the fourth quarter since 2016. It made the Frogs the first Big 12 team to reach 11-0 since the Texas Longhorns did so in 2009 and made it to the BCS National Championship Game.
While the drama was unfolding in Waco, Texas, it was building in Ann Arbor, Michigan. With their rivalry showdown awaiting next week against the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes, the Wolverines were losing to the Illinois Fighting Illini. Similar to TCU, Michigan trailed at the start of the fourth quarter.
The Wolverines’ offense had sputtered and missed on scoring chances with running back Blake Corum out of the game. Still, it managed two field goals and trailed 17-16 with 2:06 to play. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy completed three passes, including a fourth-down conversion. With 9 seconds left, kicker Jake Moody, the reigning Lou Groza winner for the country’s best kicker, channeled his inner Griffin Kell and nailed a 35-yard kick to win the game, 19-17.
The similarities aren’t just in the endings.
Before Saturday, teams ranked in the top five of the playoff rankings were 1-29 when trailing in the final minute. In 2014, the Alabama Crimson Tide won in overtime after kicking a game-tying field goal against the LSU Tigers as time expired. TCU and Michigan both accomplished the feat Saturday.
Since 2014, when the College Football Playoff began, teams with a 10-0 record or better were 1-18 when trailing by seven or more in the fourth quarter. In 2018, Alabama overcame a 28-21 deficit to the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC title game and went on to win 35-28.
Again, the Frogs and Wolverines matched that feat, all before 4 p.m. ET.
ESPN Stats and Information contributed to this story.
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