Michigan, TCU save college football playoff hopes

On Saturday afternoon, both the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines and No. 4 TCU Horned Frogs held off angry conference opponents within minutes of each other and kept their unbeaten seasons and college football playoff chances alive.

In the timeline, TCU’s game versus the Baylor Bears ended first. Baylor held the lead for much of the fourth quarter. The Horned Frogs, eight behind, got a touchdown from Emari Demercado with 2:07 to play but failed to convert the 2-point try and were 28-26 behind. TCU got the ball back at 1:30 and made it to Baylor’s 24-yard line with no timeouts.

As the clock ticked, the TCU field goal team charged onto the field for a 40-yard attempt. Griffin Kell pulled through and with the 29-28 win, TCU was still in the hunt for a playoff spot. It was TCU’s first away win from a fourth-quarter deficit of eight or more since 2016, making the Frogs the first Big 12 team to go 11-0 since the Texas Longhorns did so in 2009, and making it into the BCS National Championship Game.

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TCU tries to score a game-winning field goal in the dying seconds against Baylor.

While the drama played out in Waco, Texas, it built in Ann Arbor, Michigan. With their rivalry showdown awaiting next week against the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes, the Wolverines lost to the Illinois Fighting Illini. Similar to TCU, Michigan lagged early in the fourth quarter.

The Wolverines’ offense had faltered and missed scoring chances when Blake Corum ran back from the game. Still, it managed two field goals and was 17-16, 2:06 behind. Quarterback JJ McCarthy completed three passes, including a fourth down conversion. With 9 seconds left, kicker Jake Moody, reigning Lou Groza winner for Best Kicker in the Country, 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, the teams in the top 5 in the playoff rankings were trailing 1-29 when they fell behind in the final minute. In 2014, the Alabama Crimson Tide won in overtime after scoring a game-winning field goal over time against the LSU Tigers. TCU and Michigan both accomplished the feat on Saturday.

Since 2014, when the College Football Playoffs began, teams with a record of 10-0 or better have been 1-18 if they trail seven or more in the fourth quarter. In 2018, Alabama overcame a 28-21 deficit against the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC title game, going on to win 35-28.

Again, the frogs and wolverines accomplished this feat, all before 4 p.m. ET.

ESPN stats and information contributed to this story.

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