- Associated Press - Monday, December 8, 2014

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) - The first College Football Playoff expanded the national championship race, made the regular season even more intriguing and produced a final four with major star power.

Nick Saban’s No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Urban Meyer’s No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes at the Sugar Bowl.

Marcus Mariota, this season’s Heisman Trophy front-runner, and second-seeded Oregon vs. Jameis Winston, last season’s Heisman Trophy winner, and defending national champion Florida State at the Rose Bowl.

The winners will meet on Jan. 12 in Arlington, Texas, at the home of the Dallas Cowboys.

After six weeks of ranking teams, the selection committee shuffled its deck Sunday and dealt the Big 12 out of the playoff. TCU, which had been third in the rankings last week, ended up sixth. Big 12 co-champion Baylor moved up a spot to No. 5, but both were squeezed out by Ohio State, which won over the committee with a doozy of a closing statement in its conference championship game: a 59-0 victory against Wisconsin for the Big Ten title.

NEW YORK (AP) - Penn State is back in a bowl.

The Nittany Lions will make their first postseason appearance since 2011 when they play Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on Dec. 27.

Penn State (6-6) originally was banned from bowls for four years as a result of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal in 2012. The NCAA decided in September to lift the ban.

PRO FOOTBALL

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) - A week after their “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” show of solidarity, several St. Louis Rams players made another societal statement with the message: “I Can’t Breathe.”

The slogan refers to Eric Garner, who died after a New York police officer placed him in a chokehold during an arrest for selling loose cigarettes. A grand jury decided last week that it would not indict the officer. A video of the arrest showed Garner gasping, “I can’t breathe.”

Guard Davin Joseph wrote the words on the cleats he wore during pregame warmups before the Rams beat the Washington Redskins 24-0. Tight end Jared Cook had it written on his wrist tape. Receiver Kenny Britt had several names - including Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin - written on his blue and gold cleats.

Players at other NFL games expressed similar sentiments. Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush had “I Can’t Breathe” written in black across his blue warmup shirt. Browns cornerback Johnson Bademosi wrote the message on the back of the shirt he wore before a game in Cleveland.

GOLF

WINDERMERE, Fla. (AP) - Jordan Spieth won the Hero World Challenge with a performance tournament host Tiger Woods could appreciate.

Staked to a seven-shot lead, Spieth blew away an elite field at Isleworth and set two tournament records when he closed with a 6-under 66 for a 10-shot victory over Henrik Stenson of Sweden.

The 21-year-old from Texas won his second straight tournament in dominant fashion. Spieth won the Australian Open last week by six, and even a trip halfway around the world didn’t slow his momentum.

He finished at 26-under 262, breaking the tournament record of 266 set by Woods in 2007 and Davis Love III in 2000, both of those scores at Sherwood Country Club in California. His 10-shot margin of victory broke Woods’ record.

Woods, in his first tournament in four months while recovering from back injuries, closed with a 72. He tied for last place in the 18-man field with Hunter Mahan, 26 shots out of the lead.

SOCCER

CARSON, Calif. (AP) - Landon Donovan is retiring as a champion, thanks to one brilliant goal by Robbie Keane.

Keane scored on a breakaway in the 111th minute, and Donovan won his record sixth MLS title in the LA Galaxy’s 2-1 victory over the New England Revolution in the MLS Cup.

Gyasi Zardes scored in the 52nd minute as the Galaxy won their record fifth league title in the final game for Donovan, the MLS career scoring leader and most accomplished soccer player in U.S. history.

Donovan, Keane and the Galaxy have won three of the last four league championships, celebrating all three on their home field.

Donovan won the sixth trophy of his 14-year MLS career, adding his fourth title with the Galaxy to a pair from early in his career with San Jose. Coach Bruce Arena won his record fifth MLS Cup, including the last three with the Galaxy, who haven’t lost at home since their season opener.

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) - Florida State won its first national championship in women’s soccer with a 1-0 win over Virginia.

Florida State is the third school to win a national title without conceding a goal throughout the tournament. The Seminoles were in their third Women’s College Cup final and 15th consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament.

Jamia Fields scored the goal in the 83rd minute. All four of her goals this season came in the postseason.

HOCKEY

MONTREAL (AP) - Former teammates joined hundreds of fans and Quebec’s premier at the Bell Centre to pay tribute to Jean Beliveau, one of the greatest Montreal Canadiens players.

Beliveau, who died Tuesday at 83 after a long illness, lay in a closed casket at center ice. Fans stopped briefly to give their sympathies to Beliveau’s wife, Elise - who shook every hand that passed - as well as his daughter and granddaughters Magalie and Mylene.

The casket lay between two giant posters of Beliveau in his prime as an imposing center on the powerhouse Canadiens teams of the 1950s and 1960s. Also on display were the Stanley Cup and three other trophies he won - Hart (MVP), Art Ross (scoring) and Conn Smythe (playoff MVP).


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