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Notebook: Ford ‘takes step forward,’ Williams appears on SportsCenter -

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UMass cross country and track and field coach Ken O’Brien hits half century mark with program -

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Ohio State and Notre Dame stay undefeated, Gators beat in-state rival

Ohio State defeated Michigan 26-21 on Saturday, completing an undefeated season and adding fuel to the fire of the two schools’ intense rivalry.

The Buckeyes (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten Conference) are ineligible to compete for the Bowl Championship Series national title this year due to NCAA violations, but still have a chance at being voted No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll if other top contenders falter late in the season.

Leading 21-20 at halftime, the Wolverines (8-4, 6-2 Big Ten)  failed to score in the second half. Ohio State took advantage of OSU’s offensive ineptitude and completed the comeback on two Drew Basil field goals. Basil finished the day with four total makes, including a 52-yarder as the first half came to an end.

The Buckeyes struck first in the matchup on a Carlos Hyde 3-yard rushing touchdown with 12 minutes, 41 seconds left in the first quarter , but were quickly answered with a 75-yard scoring pass from Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner to receiver Roy Roundtree just more than five minutes later.

Basil would tacked on a 41-yard field goal just before the end of the quarter, giving Ohio a 10-7 lead.

The Wolverines scored two more touchdowns in the second quarter, including a 67-yard scamper from quarterback Denard Robinson to give them the halftime lead they would eventually cough up.

Gators  down in-state rival

Florida scored 24 points in the fourth quarter to beat rival Florida State 37-26 on Saturday.

The Seminoles (10-2, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) blew a 7-point lead heading into the final 15 minutes of play, failing to answer the Gators’ fourth quarter scoring outburst until adding a meaningless touchdown run from quarterback E.J. Manuel as time expired.

Florida (11-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) used consecutive touchdowns from running back Mike Gillislee, receiver Quinton Dunbar and running back Matt Jones to secure the late lead.

After hanging tough throughout the first half, Florida State dominated the third quarter on its way to building the 20-13 lead it would late relinquish.

Manuel, who finished 182 yards passing and 54 yards rushing, accounted for both of the Seminoles’ touchdowns in the frame, connecting with tight end Nick O’Leary for a 6-yard score and taking one in himself from one yard out.

Notre Dame punches championship ticket

Notre Dame completed its undefeated regular season with a 22-13 victory over longtime rival Southern California on Saturday, earning itself a shot at a BCS national title on Jan. 7.

The Fighting Irish (12-0) never trailed, keeping one step ahead of their opponents throughout the game. The Notre Dame defense, led by Heisman hopeful Manti Te’o, stifled the Trojans (7-5, 5-4 Pacific-12 Conference) offense, limiting them to only one touchdown and two field goals on the day.

The Fighting Irish jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter lead on the back of a Theo Riddick 9-yard touchdown run and the first Kyle Brindza’s five field goals.

USC would eventually get on the board with a 11-yard Robert Woods touchdown reception from back-up quarterback Mix Wittek, but failed to cross the goal line thereafter. The two teams exchanged field goals for the rest of the game.

Kat Kent can be reached at kkent@student.umass.edu and followed on Twitter @MDC_Kent.

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