Weekend Sports in Brief

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Notre Dame was picked Sunday over Texas A&M for the final College Football Playoff spot and will face No. 1 Alabama in the semifinals, while Clemson and Ohio State were paired in the CFP for the third time.

The Fighting Irish and Crimson Tide will meet Jan. 1 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, after a late pandemic-related relocation from the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The Tigers and Buckeyes are set to play the same day at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

The national champion is scheduled to be determined Jan. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Trevor Lawrence had 412 yards of offense and three touchdowns, Travis Etienne ran for 124 yards and a score and No. 4 Clemson dominated No. 2 Notre Dame 34-10 on Saturday to win its sixth straight Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

The Tigers (10-1) avenged a 47-40 double-overtime loss at Notre Dame (10-1) – with Lawrence sidelined because of the coronavirus – to lock up a spot in the College Football Playoff for the sixth straight season.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Trey Sermon ran for a school-record 331 yards and two second-half touchdowns Saturday, helping No. 3 Ohio State rally for a 22-10 victory over Northwestern for a fourth consecutive Big Ten championship.

It’s the first time Ohio State (6-0) has won four consecutive outright conference crowns.

Northwestern (6-2) heads into the bowl season with two losses in its last three games and a second runner-up finish to the Buckeyes in three years.

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Spencer Rattler threw a 45-yard touchdown to Marvin Mims and also ran for a score as No. 12 Oklahoma won its sixth consecutive Big 12 title, holding on to beat No. 8 Iowa State 27-21 in the conference championship game Saturday.

Big 12 rushing leader Breece Hall ran for two touchdowns for the Cyclones (8-3, No. 6 CFP) in the second half. The Sooners clinched the game when Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy threw his third interception.

Story continues

The Sooners (8-2) will play in a New Year’s Six game, probably back at AT&T Stadium, after winning their fourth Big 12 championship in a row since the title game was reinstated – with four different starting quarterbacks.

ATLANTA (AP) – Najee Harris scored five touchdowns and No. 1 Alabama advanced to the College Football Playoff with a perfect record, holding off No. 11 Florida in a 52-46 shootout for the Southeastern Conference championship Saturday night.

The Crimson Tide (11-0, No. 1 CFP) got their toughest test in a season of blowouts, but Harris’ record-setting performance will send coach Nick Saban to the playoff in search of his seventh national title.

CINCINNATI (AP) – Cole Smith made a 34-yard field goal as time expired to give No. 6 Cincinnati a 27-24 victory over No. 20 Tulsa on Saturday night in the rainy American Conference Championship game.

Alec Pierce had a career-high 146 yards receiving on five catches, Desmond Ridder passed for 269 yards and a touchdown and ran for a score, and Jerome Ford added a 42-yard scoring run for the Bearcats (9-0).

Tulsa (6-2) reached the conference championship game following three straight losing seasons. It was the Golden Hurricane’s first appearance in the AAC title game.

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Nick Starkel completed 32 of 52 passes for 453 yards and three touchdowns to lead No. 25 San Jose State to its first Mountain West Conference championship, 34-20 over Boise State on Saturday.

The Spartans (7-0) had lost all 14 previous meetings with the Broncos (5-2).

Starkel broke former Fresno State star Derek Carr’s title-game record of 404 yards passing set in 2013 in a victory over Utah State.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) – Bret Bielema, who led Wisconsin to three conference championships before a disappointing run at Arkansas, is returning to the Big Ten and his home state to coach Illinois.

The Illini hired Bielema to replace the fired Lovie Smith on Saturday, hoping he can turn around a program with nine consecutive losing seasons.

A native of western Illinois, Bielema is 97-58 in 12 years at Wisconsin and Arkansas.

NFL

DENVER (AP) – The Buffalo Bills captured their first AFC East title in a quarter-century Saturday when 24-year-old quarterback Josh Allen threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more in a 48-19 rout of the Denver Broncos.

The Bills (11-3) scored twice in a 17-second span in the third quarter to ice their fourth straight victory that officially ended the New England Patriots’ 11-year reign atop the division.

The Broncos (5-9) have their fourth consecutive losing season for the first time since they had 10 straight sub-.500 campaigns from 1963-72.

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) – Russell Wilson and the Seahawks built a big lead, and Seattle’s suddenly opportunistic defense held on Sunday to beat Washington 20-15 and clinch a playoff spot.

Wilson threw for 121 yards and a 10-yard TD pass to Jacob Hollister and ran for 52 on six carries. Hyde’s 50-yard TD run was Seattle’s longest rushing play of the season. The Seahawks improved to 10-4.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) – Sam Darnold passed for 207 yards and the New York Jets finally earned the first victory of their miserable season Sunday, holding on for a 23-20 win that erased the possibility of the third winless 16-game season in NFL history.

The Jets (1-13) ended the longest losing streak in franchise history with a strong start and a gritty finish at SoFi Stadium.

Embattled coach Adam Gase got his first win of the year only after New York blew most of a 17-point lead in the second half.

MLB

NEW YORK (AP) – Major League Baseball payrolls plunged to $1.75 billion during the pandemic-shortened season from $4.22 billion, and the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers led with $98.6 million – the smallest for the top spender in 20 years.

Base wages for 40-man rosters tumbled to $1.54 billion, according to information sent from Major League Baseball to teams on Friday night and obtained by The Associated Press. That was down from $3.99 billion in 2019.

Prorated portions of signing bonuses totaled $120.6 million, down slightly from $122.8 million. Earned bonuses fell to $25 million from $26.9 million.

NHL

Hockey is set to return Jan. 13 after the NHL and players completed a deal Sunday to hold a 56-game season that would include playoffs lasting into July to award the Stanley Cup.

The league’s Board of Governors voted to approve the agreement that was backed by the NHL Players’ Association executive board Friday night. The regular season is scheduled to go until May 8 with a 16-team playoff to follow.

There will be four divisions – North, South, East and West – and all play will be within them through the first two rounds of the playoffs to minimize travel and the potential for the coronavirus to disrupt the season. The North Division contains only the seven Canadian teams.

SOCCER

CHICAGO (AP) – Samantha Mewis is the 2020 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year, U.S. Soccer announced Saturday.

Mewis, a 6-foot midfielder, garnered 45% of the vote. Crystal Dunn finished second and Lindsey Horan third.

Mewis, 28, played in eight of the nine Team USA games this year, with six starts. She scored four goals at the 2020 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament.

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Lionel Messi has another individual scoring milestone, but he sure doesn’t have a team that looks like a champion.

Messi equaled Pele’s all-time club scoring tally on Saturday in a 2-2 draw with Valencia. His 643rd career goal for Barcelona since his 2004 debut matched Pele’s tally for Santos from 1957-74.

Messi is Barcelona’s and the Spanish league’s all-time leading scorer.

WATFORD, England (AP) – Watford is looking for a 10th manager in five years after firing Vladimir Ivic following only four months in charge.

The Serbian’s departure was announced by the second-tier English club after losing at Huddersfield 2-0 in the Championship on Saturday.

A fourth league loss in 20 matches since being relegated from the Premier League left Watford fifth, nine points behind leader Norwich.

IDITAROD

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – The 2021 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race will be about 140 miles (225 kilometers) shorter than normal as a result of complications stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Race officials announced Friday that teams will no longer embark on a 1,000-mile (1,609-kilometer) journey to Nome but instead will take a roughly 860-mile (1,384-kilometer) loop that starts and ends in Willow.

AWARDS

LONDON (AP) – Seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton capped another successful year by claiming the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year prize on Sunday.

The 35-year-old driver, who last month equaled Michael Schumacher’s record of seven F1 titles, overcame Jordan Henderson and Hollie Doyle to win the British broadcaster’s prestigious prize in a public vote.

Hamilton also won the BBC prize in 2014.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Published: 2020-12-21 07:38:10

Tags: #Weekend #Sports

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