NEW YORK (AP)The College Football Playoff is set and it is historic: Cincinnati will play Alabama in the Cotton Bowl and Michigan will face Georgia in the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
Fourth-seeded Cincinnati becomes the first team to break through the CFP’s glass ceiling and make college football’s final four from a non-Power Five conference. The Bearcats won the American Athletic Conference and head into the postseason as the only unbeaten team in the country. Their reward will be a matchup with the defending national champions.
The Crimson Tide is in the playoff for the seventh time in its eight-year history.
ATLANTA (AP) – Bryce Young threw for three touchdowns and ran for another as fourth-ranked Alabama rolled over No. 1 Georgia 41-24 in the Southeastern Conference championship game Saturday, a result that likely sends both powerhouse programs to the four-team College Football Playoff.
Young set SEC championship records with 421 yards passing and 461 yards total offense.
Georgia (12-1, No. 1 CFP) cruised through the regular season, barely challenged and a unanimous choice as the nation’s No. 1 team for the past two months. The Bulldogs boasted a fearsome defensive unit that had allowed only 6.9 points a game.
Alabama (12-1, No. 3 CFP) had six offensive scoring drives – five covering at least 75 yards, the other 62 – and finished with a staggering 536 yards against a team that was giving up just under 231 per game.
GAINEVILLE, Fla. (AP) – New Florida coach Billy Napier agreed to a seven-year, $51.8 million contract that makes him the fifth-highest-paid coach in the Southeastern Conference, a person familiar with negotiations said.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Saturday night because neither Florida nor Napier has publicly released contract details.
Napier will make $7.1 million in his first season and will get a $100,000 raise annually before each of the remaining six years, the person said. Only Alabama’s Nick Saban ($9.75 million), Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher ($9 million), new LSU coach Brian Kelly ($8.6 million) and Georgia’s Kirby Smart ($7.13 million) are due to make more in the SEC next season.
– By AP Sports Writer Mark Long.
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) – Oklahoma hired Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables as its head coach to replace Lincoln Riley on Sunday night, bringing back a former Sooners assistant with a long track record of success.
Venables will be introduced Monday, the school said.
The 50-year-old Venables was on Oklahoma’s staff under Bob Stoops as co-defensive coordinator from 1999 to 2003 and defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2011. He was co-defensive coordinator when the Sooners won the 2000 national title. He left Oklahoma for Clemson in 2012 and won the Broyles Award in 2016 as the nation’s top assistant. He’s been on the staff of teams that have won three national titles and appeared in eight national championship games.
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) – Mississippi and Lane Kiffin have agreed to a new contract after the program’s first 10-win regular season.
Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Keith Carter Saturday announced what the school described as a new deal. The school didn’t release any details of the contract.
Kiffin led No. 8 Ole Miss to a 10-2 regular season, including a 7-0 record at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in his second year. The Rebels are headed to a New Year’s Six bowl.
AKRON (AP) – Akron hired Oregon offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead as head coach on Saturday, bringing back a former assistant for the Zips to take over a struggling program.
Moorhead has been a head coach at Mississippi State (14-12 in two seasons) and FCS Fordham (38-13 in four seasons) and has been directing the Ducks’ offense the last two seasons.
Moorhead spent two seasons as Penn State’s offensive coordinator in between his head coaching jobs at his alma mater, Fordham, and Mississippi State.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) – The Vancouver Canucks named veteran Bruce Boudreau coach following a leadership purge late Sunday night in which three executives and head coach Travis Green were let go.
The Canucks, in a statement, said general manager Jim Benning was fired and assistant manager Jim Weisbrod, Green and assistant coach Nolan Baumgartner were also relieved of their duties.
The Canucks said the search for new hockey operations leadership ”has begun.”
The 66-year-old Boudreau, former coach of the Washington Capitals, Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild, is the 20th head coach in Canucks history. Scott Walker was named assistant coach to Boudreau.
BASEBALL HALL OF FAME
NEW YORK (AP) – Buck O’Neil, a champion of Black ballplayers during a monumental, eight-decade career on and off the field, has joined Minnie Minoso, Gil Hodges and three others in being elected to the baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.
Former Minnesota Twins teammates Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat also were chosen along with Bud Fowler by a pair of veterans committees.
Longtime slugger Dick Allen, who died last December, fell one vote shy of election.
The six newcomers will be enshrined in Cooperstown, New York, next July along with any new members elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
David Ortiz, Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez are on that ballot.
NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) – Viktor Hovland made consecutive eagles and closed with consecutive bogeys while overcoming a six-shot deficit to win the Hero World Challenge on Sunday and keep Collin Morikawa from reaching No. 1 in the world.
So wild was this final round of the year for golf’s elite that Morikawa, who started the day with a five-shot lead, wasn’t even a factor over the last hour at Albany Golf Club, closing with a 76 and finishing in a tie for fifth.
Hovland closed with a 6-under 66 in his debut at a holiday event that was filled with pure chaos involving eagles and triple bogeys, none more bizarre than Jordan Spieth hitting his drive on the ninth hole from what was a new 17th tee for the final round.
MADRID (AP) – Russia’s 15-year wait for a Davis Cup title has ended after another clutch performance from Daniil Medvedev.
Medvedev beat Marin Cilic 7-6 (7), 6-2 in the second singles match to give Russia an insurmountable 2-0 lead over Croatia in the final on Sunday.
It is Russia’s third Davis Cup title, and first since 2006.
Andrey Rublev earlier had beaten Borna Gojo in straight sets to put the Russians ahead at the Madrid Arena. Russia’s other Davis Cup title was in 2002. Croatia also was seeking its third title after triumphs in 2005 and 2018.
WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Iga Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion, announced Saturday that she is splitting from coach Piotr Sierzputowski after nearly six years working together.
”This change is really challenging for me and this decision wasn’t easy, either,” Swiatek wrote in a post on Instagram that was accompanied by a photo of the pair touching index fingers during a break in a match.
Swiatek, who is from Poland, hired Sierzputowski as her coach in January 2016, when she was 15 and still playing in junior tournaments.
Now 20, she has won a Grand Slam championship and reached a career high of No. 4 in the WTA rankings.
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) – Lewis Hamilton has won his third consecutive grand prix to pull even on points with Max Verstappen.
That means Formula One’s championship race will now be decided at the season finale.
Hamilton won Sunday’s inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix to tie Verstappen in the standings ahead of next week’s closer in Abu Dhabi.
The race was chaotic from start to finish with three standings starts, two red flags and multiple red flags.
Hamilton passed Verstappen with six laps remaining to take control of the race and win for the eighth time this season.
KEARNS, Utah (AP) – The United States set a world record in winning the men’s team pursuit and the Netherlands swept the men’s 1,000 meters for the third straight speedskating World Cup on Sunday.
The U.S. team of Joey Mantia, Emery Lehman and Casey Dawson won in 3 minutes, 34.47 seconds on the high-altitude ice at the Utah Olympic Oval, bettering the old mark of 3:34.68 set by the Netherlands in February 2020 on the same ice at the world single-distance championships.
The U.S. team on Sunday also lowered the American record of 3:37.22 by Shani Davis, Brian Hansen and Jonathan Kuck set in November 2013 at the Utah oval.
ATLANTA (AP) – Pro Football Hall of Famer Claude Humphrey, one of the NFL’s most fearsome pass rushers during the 1970s with the Atlanta Falcons but long overlooked on mostly losing teams, has died at the age of 77.
Humphrey, who also reached the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles, died unexpectedly Friday night in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, according to the Hall of Fame, which was informed of his death by his daughter. No cause was given.
Humphrey was the No. 3 overall pick by the Falcons out of Tennessee State in 1968 and went on to play 11 years with the team, earning the last of six Pro Bowl appearances as a member of the famed ”Grits Blitz” defense in 1977. He moved to the Eagles in 1979 and served as a designated pass rusher on the 1980 team that reached the Super Bowl.
Humphrey retired after the 1981 season, before sacks became an official stat, but he was credited with 130 sacks over 13 seasons (he missed the entire 1975 season recovering from a knee injury).
Humphrey was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014.
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