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Ohio State flashes national title credentials as offense explodes in drubbing of Michigan State

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — If you didn’t pay attention to the jokes here, you weren’t paying attention. They went something like this:

Mel Tucker should have signed his reported $95 million contract at halftime. For a while, it seemed like Ohio State would score 95 … million against Michigan State. The International Space Station was closer to Columbus than the Spartans.

That’s the level of snark that bubbles up when a playoff elimination game becomes a joke itself. No. 4 Ohio State did what Baker Mayfield tried and failed to do a few years back to Ohio Stadium’s artificial turf — plant a flag in the ground. This one was metaphorical, though it still waves loud and proud while containing the proclamation that the Buckeyes look like the best of everything. Well, at least in the Big Ten, but perhaps in all of college football, too.

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It’s getting late in the season, and conclusions must be made. Admit it, you want to see Ohio State against No. 1 Georgia right now. After a 56-7 trucking of No. 7 Michigan State and their soon-to-be-overpaid coach, the Buckeyes have the best combination of skill, speed, strategy and athletes to give the Bulldogs a game.

Tucker may eventually sign that historic 10-year deal reported during the week. Ohio State had the receipts on Saturday.

“This is more than just about winning the game,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day told CBS Sports prior to kickoff.

Buckeyes everywhere have been waiting for this sort of performance all season. The lone loss to now-No. 3 Oregon is more than two months old but has become a signpost of how deficient the Buckeyes were that day and how dangerous they are now.

Ohio State was so dominant Saturday it scored on its first seven possessions. Quarterback C.J. Stroud threw touchdown passes on six of them — before halftime — to set the program’s single-game record The Buckeyes were on pace for 98 points and 1,000 total yards at the break.

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Ohio State covered the 19-point spread by 30 points. The victory margin was the largest in a game between two teams ranked among the top seven in the AP Top 25 since Army beat Penn 61-0 in 1945.

“I told them, ‘I don’t want to hear a word on the bus or on the plane,’” Tucker said after his program’s worst loss to Ohio State in the 50-game history of the series. “‘We got a 30-minute plane ride, there’s nothing to talk about.’”

There was plenty to talk about on the opposite sideline. There’s tons of football left, but Stroud, the redshirt freshman who threw his first collegiate pass in September, has become the Heisman Trophy favorite. For one thing, he threw as many touchdown passes than Michigan State Heisman hopeful Kenneth Walker III had rushes. That was end of one Heisman campaign — Walker was held to 25 yards — and the emergence of another.

It’s hard to tell whether it’s Stroud hitting wide open receivers or the receivers running precise routes allowing them to be wide open or the offensive line blocking well enough for them to get open. Maybe it’s a football combo platter that looks like it could challenge Georgia’s generational defense.

In playing his best game of the young career, Stroud set a school record with 17 consecutive completions. With the Michigan game and a possible Big Ten Championship Game looming, we can say this much: You can’t spell “rout” without Stroud. Since that loss to the Ducks, the Buckeyes won their sixth game by at least 21 points.

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“Everything we thought we were going to get, we got,” Stroud said.

If Ohio State doesn’t have the best player, it certainly has the best set of pass catchers in the game. Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba all surpassed 100 yards receiving. Olave set the school career record for touchdown catches (35) with two more on Saturday. Wilson also had two himself. Third option Smith-Njigba led everybody with 10 catches. He has 34 in the last three games.

If you want a comparison, consider that Alabama‘s best receiver, Jameson Williams, apparently couldn’t crack that elite lineup. Williams transferred from Ohio State.

“We certainly have a high ceiling,” Day said. “We’re still striving for greatness.”

Ohio State wins big, Utah blows out Oregon and more in this week’s Instant Reaction by the Cover 3 crew recapping Week 12 scores and results in college football.

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Before leapfrogging to Georgia, there’s a certain big game next week for Ohio State at Michigan. Saturday’s result certainly sent a message up to The Team Up North, but Michigan still looks like it matches up better with Ohio State than at any time since 2016. That was the year of the fourth-down spot that eventually led to a double-overtime loss and a larger downward spiral.

Michigan hasn’t been within 11 in the last three meetings. The teams didn’t play last year in the COVID-19 impacted season. Ohio State has won eight in a row.

“I don’t want to celebrate too long,” Day said on the field as he headed toward the South end zone to sing “Carmen Ohio”.

“Beat Michigan Week starts now,” the public address announcer declared as the field cleared.

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Since that Oregon loss, Ohio State has been playing to expectations as much as the opponent each week. While Stroud and the receivers were becoming simpatico, the defense sent out scary signals. Purdue put up 31 points and 477 yards last week. A diminished Penn State kept it uncomfortably close on Oct. 30.

The defense was transitioning from play-calling duties being taken away from coordinator Kerry Combs and assigned to defensive backs coach Matt Barnes. The Buckeyes have gone from being dominated by the Ducks to dominating. Just in time.

“It’s good to be around a team that has some scars on them, some callous on them,” Day said.

As for the elephant-sized contract in the room, if and when Tucker actually does sign the monster deal, it would set a new standard for every coach (and their agents) in the game. Imagine, Day telling his boss, athletic director Gene Smith, “If he’s worth $95 million, what am I worth?”

Lots. Tucker has been a head coach for 30 games and is two games over .500 (16-14). Day, 33-3 as a head coach, is undefeated against the Big Ten in his career (23-0) having won two conference titles and securing two College Football Playoff appearances.

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Georgia has been warned. A third CFP berth looks a lot closer for Ohio State after Saturday afternoon.





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How to watch Appalachian State vs. James Madison: NCAA Football live stream info, TV channel, time, game odds

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Who’s Playing

James Madison @ Appalachian State

Current Records: James Madison 2-0; Appalachian State 2-1

What to Know

The James Madison Dukes watched the action from their couches last weekend, but are set to take to the field. James Madison and the Appalachian State Mountaineers will face off in a Sun Belt battle at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium. The odds don’t look promising for the Dukes, but the bigger the opponent is, the harder they fall.

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A well-balanced attack led James Madison over the Norfolk State Spartans every single quarter on their way to victory two weeks ago. James Madison claimed a resounding 63-7 win over Norfolk State at home. The game was pretty much decided by the half, when the score had already reached 35 to nothing.

Meanwhile, Appalachian State didn’t have too much breathing room in their contest with the Troy Trojans last week, but they still walked away with a 32-28 victory. Appalachian State QB Chase Brice was slinging it as he passed for two TDs and 279 yards on 34 attempts. Near the top of the highlight reel was Brice’s 53-yard TD bomb to WR Christan Horn in the fourth quarter.

Their wins bumped the Dukes to 2-0 and the Mountaineers to 2-1. Watch the matchup and check back on CBS Sports to find out who keeps up the positive energy and who hits a stumbling block.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Kidd Brewer Stadium — Boone, North Carolina
  • TV: ESPN Plus
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $40.99

Odds

The Mountaineers are a solid 6.5-point favorite against the Dukes, according to the latest college football odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Mountaineers as a 7.5-point favorite.

Over/Under: -111

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See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last seven years.



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UTSA vs. Texas Southern: How to watch NCAA Football online, TV channel, live stream info, game time

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Who’s Playing

Texas Southern @ UTSA

Current Records: Texas Southern 1-2; UTSA 1-2

What to Know

The Texas Southern Tigers will take on the UTSA Roadrunners at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Alamodome. Texas Southern isn’t favored, but they just beat the odds in their last game, so don’t count them out.

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The Tigers kept a clean sheet against the Southern University Jaguars last week and took the matchup 24 to nothing. The squad ran away with 21 points in the first half and mostly just sat on those in the second to pick up the victory.

Meanwhile, it was all tied up 17-17 at halftime, but UTSA was not quite the Texas Longhorns’ equal in the second half when they met last week. The Roadrunners suffered a grim 41-20 defeat to the Longhorns. This contest was a close 17-17 at the break, but unfortunately for UTSA it sure didn’t stay that way. A silver lining for them was the play of RB Brenden Brady, who threw one touchdown in addition to punching in one rushing touchdown.

Texas Southern’s win lifted them to 1-2 while UTSA’s loss dropped them down to 1-2. We’ll find out if the Tigers can add another positive mark to their record or if UTSA can shake off the defeat and take the spring out of Texas Southern’s step.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Alamodome — San Antonio, Texas
  • TV: STADIUM
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $69.00

Odds

The Roadrunners are a big 42-point favorite against the Tigers, according to the latest college football odds.

Bettors have moved against the Roadrunners slightly, as the game opened with the Roadrunners as a 44-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

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Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last seven years.



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North Carolina vs. Notre Dame live stream info, TV channel: How to watch NCAA Football on TV, stream online

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Who’s Playing

Notre Dame @ North Carolina

Current Records: Notre Dame 1-2; North Carolina 3-0

What to Know

The North Carolina Tar Heels will be returning home after a two-game road trip. They will take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kenan Memorial Stadium after a week off. UNC is expected to win — but not by much — so they will need to come into the game prepared for a fight.

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The Tar Heels beat the Georgia State Panthers 35-28 two weeks ago. Among those leading the charge for UNC was RB Omarion Hampton, who rushed for two TDs and 110 yards on 16 carries. Hampton put himself on the highlight reel with a 58-yard TD scramble in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame netted a 24-17 victory over the California Golden Bears last week. RB Audric Estime and RB Chris Tyree were among the main playmakers for Notre Dame as the former punched in one rushing touchdown and the latter snatched one receiving TD.

Notre Dame’s defense was a presence as well, as it embarrassed California’s offensive line to sack QB Jack Plummer six times for a total loss of 47 yards. It was a group effort with four guys contributing.

The wins brought the Tar Heels up to 3-0 and the Fighting Irish to 1-2. A pair of stats to keep an eye on: UNC enters the matchup with 310 passing yards per game on average, good for 21st best in the nation. But Notre Dame comes into the contest boasting the 34th fewest passing yards allowed per game in the nation at 184. These opposing strengths should make for an exciting matchup.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Kenan Memorial Stadium — Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • TV: ABC
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $110.00

Odds

The Tar Heels are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Fighting Irish, according to the latest college football odds.

The line on this game has moved quite a bit since it opened, as it started out with the Fighting Irish as a 1.5-point favorite.

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Over/Under: -110

See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Notre Dame have won all of the games they’ve played against North Carolina in the last eight years.

  • Oct 30, 2021 – Notre Dame 44 vs. North Carolina 34
  • Nov 27, 2020 – Notre Dame 31 vs. North Carolina 17
  • Oct 07, 2017 – Notre Dame 33 vs. North Carolina 10



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