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Update on the latest in sports:

December 29, 2018


College Football Playoff: Bama vs OU; Clemson vs Notre Dame

Oklahoma and Notre Dame are standing in the way of Alabama-Clemson Part IV.

The College Football Playoff semifinals are Saturday, with the top-ranked Crimson Tide facing No. 4 Oklahoma at the Orange Bowl in South Florida and No. 2 Clemson playing No. 3 Notre Dame at the Cotton Bowl in North Texas.

The Tigers (13-0) and Fighting Irish (12-0) meet in the first game of the semifinal doubleheader. The Irish are making their first CFP appearance.

The nightcap will feature Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray of Oklahoma (12-1) against Heisman runner-up Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama (13-0) in a matchup of star quarterbacks.

The winners advance to the national championship game on Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, California. Alabama and Clemson have faced off in the last three playoffs, including splitting two title games.


Lots of action in NBA, NHL, T-25

UNDATED (AP) — It’s a busy day in the NBA starting with an early evening game between Brooklyn and the Bucks in Milwaukee. Then it’s Charlotte at Washington, Houston at New Orleans, Cleveland at Atlanta, Boston at Memphis, New York at Utah, Denver at Phoenix, Golden State at Portland, and San Antonio at the L.A. Clippers. , 10:30 p.m.

The National Hockey League boasts a 15-game slate including four afternoon games. Those are Carolina at New Jersey, at 1 p.m. followed by San Jose at Edmonton, Minnesota at Winnipeg and Vegas at Los Angeles, all 4 p.m. eastern starts. The rest of the slate includes Boston at Buffalo, the N.Y. Islanders at Toronto, Montreal at Tampa Bay, Philadelphia at Florida, Washington at Ottawa, Pittsburgh at St. Louis, Detroit at Dallas, the N.Y. Rangers at Nashville, Chicago at Colorado, Arizona at Anaheim, and Vancouver at Calgary.

Fourteen Top 25 college hoops games today include four of the Top 10. No. 3 Tennessee hosts Tennessee Tech, No. 5 Kansas welcomes Eastern Michigan, No. 6 Nevada heads to Utah, No. 8 Michigan State is home against Northern Illinois. Also, No. 12 Auburn is home against North Florida, No. 13 Ohio State hosts High Point, No. 14 North Carolina hosts Davidson, No. 15 Wisconsin heads to Western Kentucky, No. 16 Kentucky visits Louisville, No. 17 Arizona State hosts Princeton, No. 19 Mississippi State hosts BYU, No. 21 Buffalo is at Canisius, No. 22 Houston hosts. NJIT and No. 24 Iowa welcomes Bryant, 8 p.m.


Wild and crazy season ends with lots of playoff uncertainty


In a wild and crazy season, the biggest remaining tumult is in the AFC South.

Houston leads and takes the division title by beating struggling Jacksonville. A Texans loss, however, gives the winner of the prime-time game between the Colts and Titans in Nashville the crown, dropping Houston into a wild card.

There are two other AFC division crowns to settle, in the North and West, but at least the Chiefs and Chargers already are into the postseason. So while avoiding having to suit up next weekend — and the likelihood of having the conference’s best record — becomes paramount, Kansas City and Los Angeles both have a comfort zone.

Baltimore and Pittsburgh do not. If the Ravens win at home over Cleveland, they take the North. If they lose and the Steelers defeat spiraling Cincinnati, Pittsburgh advances.

The winner of the night game in Music City will, well, be making sweet music as a playoff qualifier.


Auburn cornerback Jamel Dean declares for NFL draft

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn cornerback Jamel Dean says he is skipping his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

Dean announced his decision to leave Auburn on Instagram Friday night, hours after the Tigers’ 63-14 win over Purdue in the Music City Bowl.

Dean had 30 tackles, two interceptions and nine pass breakups as a junior.

He’s the second Auburn player to declare for the draft, joining quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

Dean played in 26 games the past two seasons. He initially signed with Ohio State before transferring.

He redshirted in 2015 and missed the following season with an injury.

Dean says on social media that Auburn gave him a chance to play after “football was almost taken away from me before I could even play a snap of college football.”


American Mikaela Shiffrin wins record 36th World Cup slalom

(Eds: Updates with new lede, fresh quotes. With AP Photos.)

SEMMERING, Austria (AP) — American skier Mikaela Shiffrin has finished off a record season by becoming the most successful female slalom skier in the 52-year history of the World Cup..

In the last race of 2018, the American added her 36th victory. Shiffrin previously shared the record with Austria’s Marlies Raich, who, competing as Marlies Schild, won 35 times before retiring in 2014.

Only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark has won more World Cup slaloms, 40, between 1974 and 1987.

While it seems only a matter of time before Shiffrin will reach the 40-win mark as well, she was already looking forward to her own best marks being bettered.

By winning Saturday, Shiffrin also became the first skier, male or female, to win 15 World Cup races in a single calendar year, moving one victory past men’s overall champion Marcel Hirscher of Austria, who has won 14 times in 2018.


Mayweather promises entertainment, not a knockout, in Japan

TOKYO (AP) — Floyd Mayweather is promising entertainment when he fights Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in three rounds of exhibition boxing on New Year’s Eve, but not necessarily a knockout.

“If it happens, it happens,” Mayweather said Saturday when asked whether he was going to knock out Nasukawa.

But the American was adamant that his opponent wasn’t going to knock him out or down on Monday.

“Throughout my years at boxing, I never touched the canvas once,” Mayweather, 41, told reporters at a Tokyo hotel, brushing off the upcoming event as “just another day.”

“I can do three rounds in my sleep,” he added.

Neither kicking nor official results are part of the Rizin Fighting Federation match, but a knockout is possible under the special rules.

Update hourly