No. 6 Oklahoma has done all it can, winning a fifth Big 12 title in a row with another close win over No. 8 Baylor.
Now the Sooners wait to see if they are going to get in back in the College Football Playoff. That is up to the selection committee.
“I hope they see the Big 12 champions. They've got a job to do, I get that,” coach Lincoln Riley said after Oklahoma's 30-23 overtime win Saturday.
“We've had a job to do as a team, which was continuing to improve through the year, trust the things that we could and ultimately win the Big 12 championship,” he said. “We've done that.”
Rhamondre Stevenson had a 5-yard touchdown run in overtime, and then true freshman Jacob Zeno — whose two long passes in the fourth quarter helped tie the game — was under constant pressure when the Bears got their last chance.
A day after No. 5 Utah lost in the Pac-12 championship game, and before No. 4 Georgia took on No. 2 LSU for the SEC title, Oklahoma (12-1) became the first team in any league to win 10 conference championship games. It was the 13th Big 12 title overall for the Sooners, who went to the playoff three of the past four seasons.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said he likes the league's case for a playoff spot.
It was the second time in four games that Oklahoma beat the No. 7 Bears (11-2), who in coach Matt Rhule’s debut season two years ago lost 11 games with a depleted roster in the aftermath of a scandal that led to the firing of two-time Big 12 champion coach Art Briles.
Rhule feels Oklahoma should be in the playoff no matter what else happens.
As for his team, Rhule told them, “Feel that pain of watching those guys pull that stuff out and celebrate, and let that drive you in the offseason. But at the same time, also understand what we've done.“
The Bears tied the game after Zeno came in during the fourth quarter, the second quarterback used after starter Charlie Brewer left the game in the second quarter following a big hit he delivered on a defender.
There was an 8 1-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Trestan Ebner with 9:41 left in regulation and a 78-yarder to Chris Platt that set up John Mayers' third field goal, a 27-yarder with 3:25 left to make it 23-all.
“It's not supposed to be easy,“ Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts said.
After Oklahoma scored on three plays to start overtime, the Sooners put the heat on Zeno. He was sacked for a 10-yard loss, and then he was under duress again when he flung a game-ending pass that fell to the turf harmlessly.
The Bears had only 105 total yards before the 81-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter by Zeno, who had played in only one game and was the scout team quarterback imitating Hurts in practice this week. They finished with 265.
Hurts, who last year led Alabama's comeback win over Georgia in the SEC title game, was 17-of-24 passing for 278 yards and a touchdown. CeeDee Lamb had eight catches for 173 yards after missing the previous game against the Bears.
Brewer was taken out of the game not long after bulling over a defender at the end of a 7-yard run early in the second quarter. He finished that series and played one more, apparently hitting his head on the ground when being sacked by Kenneth Murray, before Gerry Bohanon took over.
Referee Mike Defee went to the sideline and asked Rhule to get Brewer checked out, because the ref said the quarterback “just seems a little bit out of it.”
Bohanon directed Baylor on scoring drives on its last two possessions before halftime. He threw a 33-yard touchdown to Tyquan Thornton before a 28-yard field goal by Mayers put the Bears up 13-10 at halftime — even with only 98 total yards — after they trailed 10-0.
Three weeks after their biggest comeback ever, a 34-31 win at Baylor after a 25-point deficit, the Sooners jumped ahead 10-0 on the Bears.
Lamb turned a short catch into a 71-yard gain to the 7 on Oklahoma’s second drive, setting up Kennedy Brooks’ 6-yard TD run. On the next drive, Lamb’s 26-yard catch to the Baylor 19 came before Gabe Brkic kicked the first of his three field goals.
Brett Gabbert threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Jack Sorenson early in the third quarter, and Miami of Ohio controlled most of the second half, beating Central Michigan 26-21 in the Mid-American Conference title game Saturday.
The RedHawks (8-5) won a record 16th MAC championship despite doing little on offense in the first half. Trailing 14-10 after two quarters, Miami took the lead on Gabbert's screen pass to Sorenson, and the RedHawks held off CMU (8-5) the rest of the way to win their first conference title since 2010.
Sam Sloman kicked four field goals, including a 48-yarder with 4:06 remaining to give Miami a 23-14 lead. CMU's Tommy Lazzaro scored on a 4-yard run with 1:24 remaining, and the Chippewas recovered an onside kick — but were called offside. CMU was offside again on the re-kick, but it went out of bounds anyway, and Miami took over.
Sloman added a 42-yard field goal with 28 seconds left. A Hail Mary by CMU fell incomplete on the final play of the game.
Sun Belt championship
Darrynton Evans scored three touchdowns and No. 21 Appalachian State repeated as Sun Belt conference champions with a 45-38 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday.
Evans won the game's MVP for the second straight season.
Zac Thomas threw for 149 yards and two touchdowns and Daetrich Harrington and Marcus Williams added touchdown runs. The Mountaineers racked up 416 yards on offense, including 267 on the ground in a dominating first half.
The Mountaineers (12-1, 8-1 Sun Belt) accomplished something North Carolina, Duke, North Carolina State and Wake Forest never have — becoming the first FBS team from North Carolina to win 12 games in a season.
Appalachian State defeated Lafayette 17-7 early this season on the road, but this one wasn’t nearly as competitive.
Conference USA championship
Lane Kiffin and Florida Atlantic are Conference USA champions again.
And now all eyes are on Kiffin's next move.
Chris Robison threw for 267 yards and four touchdowns, BJ Emmons ran for a pair of scores and Florida Atlantic rolled past UAB 49-6 on Saturday for the Owls' second Conference USA title in Kiffin's three seasons as coach.
Malcolm Davidson rushed for 128 yards and Deangelo Antoine had five catches for 112 yards for the Owls (10-3), who had no trouble with the league's top-ranked defense. UAB (9-4) allowed a season-high in points and a season-high 585 yards.
It was a matchup of the last two Conference USA champions — FAU in 2017, UAB in 2018 — and it was never in doubt.
The other schools in Conference USA get to celebrate as well, with Kiffin expected to become the next coach at Ole Miss. He's gone 20-6 in league games with the Owls, including a pair of romps in conference title games.
And if he was distracted in any way by all the buzz surrounding his next move — Ole Miss tweeted out cryptic references to him Saturday afternoon, and FAU football highlights were shown on the jumbotron at the Rebels' basketball game — Kiffin hid it all well.
When UAB jumped early on fourth-and-inches from its own 35 early in the second quarter, Kiffin threw both fists over his head then clapped for several seconds. A UAB penalty a few moments later had him punching the air again.
And when FAU blocked a punt for a touchdown and a 28-3 lead midway through the second, Kiffin took off in a 40-yard sprint, leaping several times along the way. The rout was on, and the farewell — that is, if he doesn’t coach the bowl game — was already becoming a celebration.
Mountain West championship
Jaylon Henderson threw for 212 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score to lead No. 19 Boise State to a 31-10 victory over Hawaii in the Mountain West championship game Saturday.
Boise State (12-1) won its second conference title in three years, beating Hawaii again this season after winning the Oct. 12th meeting, 59-37. After rolling up 518 yards of offense in the first game, the Broncos leaned on their defense in the rematch.
The Broncos made two defensive stands inside the 5, once in the second quarter and another early in the third.
Hawaii (9-5) was making its first appearance in the title game. It enjoyed some success through the air with Cole McDonald passing for 241 yards, but couldn't overcome early problems in the red zone.
Henderson, a senior who began the season as the third string quarterback on the depth chart, started the final four games of the season after both Hank Bachmeier and Chase Cord suffered injuries.
The offense didn't seem to miss a beat with him at the helm.
Tied at 3 late in the first half, Boise State scored two touchdowns in a 53-second span on a pair of 36-yard touchdown strikes. Henderson dropped the first one into Khalil Shakir on a streak down the near sideline with 1:07 remaining in the half.
Then after Boise State stuffed Hawaii to get the ball back with 38 seconds remaining, Henderson fired a bullet to John Hightower, who made a leaping catch as he was undercut but used his left hand to maintain his balance before racing into the end zone.