Survival Saturday prepares for an epic sprint to the 2022 College Football Playoffs | News, Results, Highlights, Stats and Rumours

WACO, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 19: TCU Horned Frogs pitcher Griffin Kell #39 celebrates with TCU Horned Frogs punter Jordy Sandy #31, offensive tackle Brandon Coleman #77, tight end Alex Honig #82 and tight end Carter Ware #47 of the TCU Horned Frogs, after kicking the game-winning field goal in the final seconds against the Baylor Bears on November 19, 2022 at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

During the fall there are many useful reminders that the college football season is a marathon, not a sprint. Early losses can be overcome, hot-start teams can fade quickly, and any number of rapid changes can happen.

However, as the scoreboards hit triple zeros in week 12, the 2022 campaign has reached a tipping point.

This is no longer a 26.2 mile endeavor.

There are only 100 meters left – and Usain Bolt is not on the route.

Four programs — Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan, and TCU — have the cleanest path to the college football playoffs. Still, we have little faith in what this race of unbeaten teams LSU, USC and Clemson will look like at the finish.

All you need is that busy Saturday week 12.

Early in the afternoon, TCU eluded Baylor with an exciting 29-28 win. TCU trailed for most of the contest but had nine points in the final 127 seconds, punctuated by Griffin Kell’s walk-off field goal from 37 yards on a well-rehearsed Griffin Kell “fire-fighting” kick.

The story of the season continued for TCU, who made five second-half comebacks en route to going 11-0. The team hosts Iowa State ahead of the Big 12 Championship Game next weekend.

Minutes later, Michigan joined the Horned Frogs 11-0 while avoiding an offense-to-injury excitement against Illinois.

Star running back Blake Corum, a top-flight contender for the Heisman Trophy, left the game with a knee injury. He played a snap in the second half but immediately went to the touchline and didn’t return. While head coach Jim Harbaugh said the knee was “structurally good,” according to the Associated Press’s Larry Lage, Corum’s status for UM is of great concern.

But a kicker also saved the day for the Wolverines.

Jake Moody set a program record when he spectacularly drilled his 65th career field goal. The senior buried four tries in the second half, cut short by a 35-yarder with nine seconds left to seal Michigan’s jittery 19-17 win.

Michigan travels to Ohio State next Saturday, and the rival Buckeyes dodged an angry bid of their own in Maryland.

In short, Maryland just didn’t stop.

Ohio State was down 13-10 at halftime but went on to score 17 straight points in the third quarter. Disaster avoided, right? Not as much. Maryland closed the gap to six. Ohio State responded with a touchdown, but the Terps took two points from a blocked extra point and followed with a touchdown. They forced a turnover on downs to create a potential go-ahead drive.

Even when that possession ended without a Maryland score, the Buckeyes felt the nerves to the bitter end — a last-second sack fumble touchdown that sealed the 43-30 result.

Georgia had a less dramatic afternoon, but even the nation’s top-ranked team didn’t have an inspiring day in Kentucky.

Mark Stoops’ side just lost to Vanderbilt last weekend considering Britain’s underestimated home advantage. Georgia should have had little trouble sending off the hosts on paper. Instead, UGA wobbled through the 16-6 win and only breathed a sigh of relief when Kentucky missed a 38-yard field goal in the final five minutes of regulation.

Georgia will be a big favorite over Georgia Tech next weekend, but sixth-ranked LSU pops up in the SEC championship game.

For these programs — as well as for USC, which is fending off rival UCLA 48-45 — the key takeaway is the addition to the win column. Unlike Tennessee at No. 5 and North Carolina at No. 13, they dodged a major challenge this weekend. You’re one step closer to the 2022 College Football Playoffs.

But there’s no time to drift into the pack and catch your breath.

The last two weeks of the season are not a marathon. No, this is a championship-winning sprint.