NCAA

Alabama scores 24 unanswered, heads to title game after beating UW

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Alabama scores 24 unanswered, heads to title game after beating UW

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA -- Alabama is heading back to the national championship game.

Bo Scarbrough and another stifling performance by Nick Saban's defense made sure of that.

The top-ranked Crimson Tide scored 10 points off turnovers, including Ryan Anderson's interception return for a touchdown late in the first half, and Scarbrough's 68-yard TD run in the fourth quarter clinched a 24-7 victory over Washington in the Peach Bowl semifinal Saturday.

Scarbrough finished with 180 yards and two scores, garnering offensive MVP honors.

Alabama (14-0) moves on to Tampa for a shot at its second straight title and fifth in the last eight years under Saban. The Tide will face either Ohio State or Clemson - who were meeting later Saturday at the Fiesta Bowl - in the Jan. 9 championship game.

No. 4 Washington (12-2) reached the College Football Playoff with a remarkable turnaround season after struggling much of the last two decades - including an 0-12 debacle in 2008.

But Jake Browning and the Huskies' balanced offense were no match for Alabama's top-ranked defense, even after an impressive drive gave them an early 7-0 edge.

"After we got into the flow of the game, I thought we did pretty well on defense," said Saban, who now has a chance to join Bear Bryant as the only coaches to win six national titles in the poll era.

The Tide began to exert its dominance late in the first quarter when John Ross caught a screen pass, only to have the ball stripped away by Anthony AverettJonathan Allen recovered, giving Alabama possession at the Washington 40 and setting up Adam Griffith's 41-yard field goal for a 10-7 lead.

Anderson made an even bigger defensive play with just over a minute to go in the half. With blitzing linebacker Reuben Foster bearing down on him, Browning desperately heaved a pass into the flats for Lavon Coleman. Anderson stepped in to pick it off, knocked Coleman over in the process and was off to the end zone on a 26-yard return that made it 17-7 at the half.

For Alabama, it was the 11th defensive touchdown of the season.

Nothing could have been more fitting.

"We've studied every snap that they've had this year, and the tape doesn't lie when you watch that much tape," Washington coach Chris Petersen said. "I mean, that's as good a defense as there is out there in college football, and they played like it."

Any hopes of a Washington comeback were snuffed out by Scarbrough, a starter at most schools but a backup for the deep, talented Tide. On a simple running play to the left, he appeared to be stopped by two players just short of the line of scrimmage.

But Scarbrough somehow managed to stay on his feet and - boom! - he was gone. Streaking down the field in front of the Alabama bench, he avoided another defender with a subtle deke, cut back toward the middle of the field at the Washington 30 and outran everyone to the end zone.

Scarbrough also scored Alabama's first touchdown with a bruising, 18-yard run.

"Bo's been playing pretty well for us the last three or four games," Saban said. "We wanted to play him more. He's hard to tackle. He's big and powerful. He's playing with a lot of confidence."

STYMIED HUSKIES

Washington was held to a season-low for points and yards, even after an impressive 64-yard drive on its opening possession capped by Browning's 16-yard TD pass to Dante Pettis.

The Huskies finished with 194 yards, below their previous low of 276 in a 26-13 loss to Southern Cal. That was also their lowest-scoring game of the season until they ran up against the Tide.

Washington scored at least 31 points in every game except its two losses.

The final two offensive plays pretty much summed up the Huskies' frustration. Browning was sacked for a big loss, and then threw his second interception on a desperation heave into the end zone.

UGLY ENDING

A scuffle broke out after Minkah Fitzpatrick's pick in the closing seconds, leading to a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties against Alabama.

Several Washington players were shaken up while chasing down Fitzpatrick, but they all managed to walk off the field while the officials sorted things out.

UP NEXT

Alabama will face a familiar opponent in the national championship game.

A year ago, the Tide beat Clemson 45-40 in a classic title showdown at Glendale, Arizona. Two seasons ago, Alabama was upset by Ohio State 42-35 in the Sugar Bowl semifinal, and the Buckeyes went on to capture the national championship.

"Both those teams are great football teams," Saban said. "It's going to be a very challenging game for us either way.

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal

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AP

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal

BOX SCORE

PALO ALTO — Bryce Love rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown despite missing most of the fourth quarter after aggravating an ankle injury, and No. 20 Stanford held off California 17-14 on Saturday to keep its Pac-12 title hopes alive.

K.J. Costello completed 17 of 26 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown, Ben Edwards made a key interception in the fourth quarter and Cameron Scarlett rushed for 49 yards on the final drive in place of Love to help the Cardinal (8-3, 7-2 Pac-12) milk the clock and win its eighth straight Big Game.

Stanford can earn a spot in the Pac-12 championship game against USC but needs some help.

The Cardinal can get there if No. 15 Washington State loses to No. 16 Washington next week. If the Cougars — who beat Stanford 24-21 on Nov. 4 — beat the Huskies, they get the nod because of the tiebreaker.

The nation's leading rusher going into the game, Love was held in check most of the game by Cal's defense and sat out the final 11:43 after re-injuring his ankle that has bothered him for the past month. He did stay on the field long enough to score a 57-yard touchdown — his 11th run of 50 yards or longer this season.

Scarlett, Love's primary backup all season, also came up big for Stanford. Scarlett rushed for 61 yards, the majority coming on the Cardinal's last drive that took the final 7:25. Scarlett's 2-yard gain on 4th-and-1 kept the drive going.

Patrick Laird ran for 153 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries while Ross Bowers passed for 182 yards and a touchdown for California. The Golden Bears (5-6, 2-6) need a win in their final game to become bowl eligible in coach Justin Wilcox's first season.

THE TAKEAWAY

California: The Bears made the Cardinal sweat and kept the game a lot closer than many thought possible. Wilcox's defense did a good job bottling up Love most of the game but couldn't stop Scarlett on the final drive which was huge. Still, there are plenty of positives for Cal to take out of this one.

Stanford: It wasn't the best game for David Shaw's team but the Cardinal gritted it out and held off a pesky Cal team that had plenty to play for. The conference title can still happen but before that Stanford has a pretty big game coming up against Notre Dame.

UP NEXT

California: Ends the regular season at UCLA on Saturday.

Stanford: The Cardinal stay home and will host No. 9 Notre Dame on Saturday. Stanford has won the last two and six of last eight against the Irish.

Former Cal running back suffers scary spine injury, taken to hospital

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AP

Former Cal running back suffers scary spine injury, taken to hospital

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The New Orleans Saints say running back Daniel Lasco has feelings in his extremities after suffering a spinal injury making a tackle on a kickoff return during today's game at Buffalo.

Lasco was loaded into an ambulance on the field and taken to a hospital.

He was hurt six minutes into the second quarter when he appeared to lower his head while tackling Bills returner Brandon Tate. 

Lasco played four seasons at the University of California, Berkeley. He gained 1,471 yards from scrimmage with 14 touchdowns his junior year. In 2015 as a senior, Lasco was limited to nine games and only totaled 355 yards. 

The Saints selected Lasco in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Associated Press contributed to this report