Regional Sports Jan. 7
COLLEGE FOOTBALL - Florida State Wins BCS Title Game - Jameis Winston has a BCS championship to go with his Heisman Trophy. The freshman tossed a two-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds remaining to give Florida State a 34-31 comeback victory over Auburn.
Winston was 6 of 7 for 77 yards on a game-winning drive that took just 66 seconds and was engineered right after Tre Mason ran for a 37-yard touchdown to put the Tigers ahead 31-27 with 1:19 to play. Mason's scoring run came after Kermit Whitfield had put Florida State on top for the first time since the first quarter with a 100-yard kickoff return to make it 27-24 with 4:31 left.
The Seminoles struggled early after winning their 13 regular-season games by an average of 43 points, falling behind for the first time since September 28. Melvin Ray's 50-yard touchdown grab put the Tigers ahead 21-3 before FSU rallied to finish 14-0.
Winston was 20 of 35 for 237 yards, two fourth-quarter touchdowns and no interceptions before he was named the game's offensive most valuable player. He was 14 of 20 for 175 yards in the second half on his 20th birthday.
Devonta Freeman had a team-high 73 rushing yards on 11 carries, including a short scoring run that began the Seminoles' comeback late in the second quarter.
Mason shredded the FSU defense, carrying 34 times for 195 yards and the touchdown that put Auburn on the verge of keeping the BCS title within the SEC. Nick Marshall ran for 45 yards and a TD and was 14 of 27 for 230 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
It was the final BCS championship before it's replaced by the College Football Playoff next season. The Southeastern Conference won nine of the 16 BCS title games, including seven straight before Florida State claimed its third national championship and first since the 1999 season.
Florida State Tops Poll After Winning BCS Title - Florida State is the No. 1 team in the final Associated Press football poll. The Seminoles just completed a 14-0 season and ended the Southeastern Conference's string of seven straight years with the top team in the season-ending poll. Auburn is second, followed by Michigan State, South Carolina, Missouri, Oklahoma, Alabama, Clemson, Oregon and UCF. The SEC winds up with four teams in the top seven.
Auburn's Malzahn Tops Liberty Mutual's List - Auburn's Gus Malzahn is the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year as elected in online fan voting and by national media and players and coaches in the College Football Hall of Fame. Malzahn led Auburn into the title game in his first season after inheriting a 3-9 team.
Bortles, Johnson among those heading to NFL - UCF quarterback Blake Bortles and running back Storm Johnson say they will forgo their senior seasons and enter the NFL draft. The juniors saw their draft stock rise this season as they led the Knights to their first 12-1 finish and upset of heavily favored Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl.
Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt, Baylor tailback Lache Seastrunk, Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins and UAB running back Darrin Reaves also announced Monday they are leaving school early to enter the draft.
Smith Takes Over The Bucs - Tampa Bay has not made the NFL post-season in six seasons. Lovie Smith is confident he can change that and he has the record to back up the optimism.
Smith takes over as the Buccaneers new head coach, returning to the team where he once was an assistant coach. He coached the Chicago Bears for nine seasons from 2004 to 2012, winning 81 games, three division championships, two NFC title game appearances and one Super Bowl berth.
Smith was hired to replace Greg Schiano (shee-AH'-noh) who was fired after two seasons.
Also In The NFL:
- The New England Patriots have placed linebacker Brandon Spikes on injured reserve because of a knee injury that has bothered him much of the season. Spikes is the Patriots' fourth key defender to be sidelined for the season. Dane Fletcher is likely to replace Spikes at middle linebacker for Saturday's playoff game against Indianapolis.
- The Indianapolis Colts have signed former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch six days before playing his ex-team in the divisional round. The 5-foot-9, 195-pound Branch had 518 catches for 6,644 yards and 39 touchdowns over a career spent mostly with the New England Patriots. Branch also has 64 receptions for 948 yards and four TDs in 17 postseason games.
- Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith says he'll play Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC divisional playoffs. Smith missed the season finale with a sprained knee ligament. The 34-year old says the knee feels fine after practice Monday, but doesn't know how it will hold up during the game.
- Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is a hot commodity for teams looking for a head coach. The Vikings asked for permission to interview Gruden, who told reporters in Cincinnati on Monday that Tennessee and Washington have also requested permission. A person with knowledge of the process told the Associated Press that Detroit has inquired, too.
- Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman has been fired, the first change by the team since missing the playoffs because of a late-season collapse. Sherman's unit ranked 27th this season in the NFL in yards, allowed a franchise-record 58 sacks and scored once in its final 24 possessions.
Cavs Ship Bynum To Bulls For Deng - The Cleveland Cavaliers have managed to unload disgruntled center Andrew Bynum before having to guarantee his contract.
The Cavs have shipped Bynum and three future draft picks to the Chicago Bulls for All-Star forward Luol Deng. The trade comes just days after Bynum was suspended by the Cavaliers.
Deng is a two-time All-Star who is averaging 19 points, seven rebounds and 3.7 assists per game this season. Bynum has averaged 8.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 20 minutes per game after missing all of last season with a knee injury. He was suspended by the team on Dec. 28 for conduct detrimental to the team.
Clippers Pound Magic...Nets, Wolves Win - The Los Angeles Clippers have regained sole possession of first place in the NBA's Pacific Division by routing the visiting Orlando Magic.
Darren Collison scored 19 of his 21 points while the Los Angeles Clippers were building a 60-34 halftime lead in a 101-81 laugher over the Magic. DeAndre Jordan had 17 rebounds and 14 points as the Clippers moved a half-game ahead of Golden State.
Clippers center Blake Griffin finished with 16 points in 24 minutes despite early foul trouble.
In other NBA action:
- Joe Johnson scored 23 points and Mirza Teletovic added 16 to lead the Nets to their third straight win, 91-86 against Atlanta. Alan Henderson had 14 points starting in place of point guard Deron Williams, who missed his 12th game this season after his ankle swelled Sunday.
- Kevin Love scored 16 of his 26 points in a dominant third quarter as Minnesota ripped Philadelphia 126-95 to move back to .500. Nikola Pekovic had 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Wolves, who hit 16 of 26 3-point attempts and ended the 76ers' four-game winning streak.
January 7, 2014