BC-AP Sports Digest
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Alabama and Clemson meet in the College Football Playoff for the fourth straight season, playing for the championship for the third time. Cole Cubelic of the SEC Network joins the AP’s Ralph Russo on the AP Top 25 College Football Podcast in breaking down the teams.
Marcellus Wiley, a former NFL defensive end and Fox Sports personality, is still on the fence about allowing his young son play football. But he tells co-hosts Jim Litke and Tim Dahlberg on the AP’s PodcastOne Sports Now he likes what the NFL is doing to try to make the game safer. Listen at podcastonesports.com, the podcastone app and apple podcasts. https://www.podcastone.com/ap-sports-weekly-podcast
HOUSTON —Saturday’s wild-card game between the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts is a matchup that seemed improbable early this season after Houston dropped its first three games and the Colts limped to a 1-5 start. By Kristie Rieken. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.
ARLINGTON, Texas —Russell Wilson won a wild-card game with Seattle as a rookie, a Super Bowl in his second season and another NFC championship the third time around. The best Dak Prescott can hope for with the Dallas Cowboys is to join Wilson on that list of title winners in his third year. By Pro Football Writer Schuyler Dixon. SENT: 920 words, photos.
There is no denying the impact on the coaching world that Bill Walsh and Bill Parcells have had. The hard evidence is apparent again as the NFL playoffs begin. All 12 of the coaches have some sort of tie-in to either three-time Super Bowl champion Walsh or two-time winner Parcells. Yes, all 12. By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner. UPCOMING: 550 words, photos by 3 a.m.
Quality defensive linemen are just about the toughest find in football. No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson belie conventional wisdom — which helps explain why the Crimson Tide and Tigers are playing in the College Football Playoff for the fourth straight season and third time in the national championship game. By College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo. UPCOMING: 850 words, photos.
— FBC--CFP-NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP-ARRIVAL — SENT: 150 words.
NEW YORK — Patrick Mahomes and three other Kansas City Chiefs players make The Associated Press 2018 NFL All-Pro Team. They are joined by the first rookie teammates since 1965 — Colts guard left Quenton Nelson and linebacker Darius Leonard. By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner. SENT: 700 words, photos.
Ezekiel Mitchell played football and ran track because he didn’t have the background or money to learn how to ride a bull. So he did what teenagers do and turned to YouTube. In seven years, he has become the world’s No. 2 bullrider. By Jenna Fryer. SENT: 600 words, photos.
FBN--SEASON OF FLAGS
Mike Pereira was in the Fox Sports booth for the Bears-Vikings game on the final week of the regular season, ready to chime in when needed on close plays. He wasn’t expecting the call partner Troy Aikman made about the officiating after a season in which penalties made some games hard to watch. By Tim Dahlberg. SENT: 1,300 words, photos.
After years of declines, most of the NFL’s television packages enjoyed ratings increases. That may be attributed to a year largely devoid of off-field controversy and better prime-time matchups. By Joe Reedy. SENT: 600 words, photos.
PHILADELPHIA — The Eagles and Bears have a history in the playoffs, having played one of the weirdest games in the postseason. It was 30 years ago when the teams met in the Fog Bowl at Soldier Field. By Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi. SENT: 770 words, photos.
— FBN--CHARGERS-HENRY — By Joe Reedy. SENT: 450 words, photos.
— FBN--LIONS-QUINN — By Noah Trister. SENT: 800 words, photos.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. —LeBron vs. Steph in the spring, Dabo vs. Nick in the winter. As much as Cleveland and Golden State became annual opponents in the NBA Finals before James left the Cavaliers last summer to join the Los Angeles Lakers after losing the title for the third time in four years to Curry and the Warriors, Clemson and Alabama have squared off in the winter to help determine college football’s champion. By Josh Dubow. SENT: 900 words, photos.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Irv Smith Jr. has emerged as a playmaker for No. 1 Alabama this season. Now, the tight end is hoping to have success in the national championship game against Clemson, like predecessor O.J. Howard. By John Zenor. SENT: 650 words, photos.
— FBC--FCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREVIEW — By Stephen Hawkins. SENT: 780 words, photos.
— FBC--OHIO STATE-FIELDS — By Mitch Stacy. SENT: 480 words, photos.
— FBC--OKLAHOMA-GRINCH — By Cliff Brunt. SENT: 560 words.
— FBC--WEST VIRGINIA-BROWN — By Ralph Russo. SENT: 320 words.
LOS ANGELES — New York center Enes Kanter will not travel to London for the Knicks’ upcoming international game because he believes he could be assassinated because of his opposition to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. By Greg Beacham. UPCOMING: 300 words, photos.
MILWAUKEE —The last thing the Milwaukee Bucks wanted on Friday was a grind-it-out game, with Eastern Conference rival Toronto coming to town the next night to complete a back-to-back set. No need to worry in Mike Budenholzer’s first game against his former team. SENT: 870 words, photos.
— BKN--LAKERS-JAMES INJURY — SENT: 120 words, photos.
GLF--TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
KAPALUA, Hawaii —Gary Woodland wasn’t making any putts until he chipped in for birdie, and then he couldn’t miss. Woodland broke away from a five-way tie for the lead Friday by running off five straight birdies, and then finishing with one more for another 6-under 67 that gave him a three-shot lead going into the weekend at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. By Golf Writer Doug Ferguson. SENT: 870 words, photos.
DURHAM, N.C. — Duke’s talented freshmen haven’t waited this long to play a game since they spent all summer looking forward to making their college debuts. By Joedy McCreary. SENT: 580 words, photos.
— BKC--PENN STATE-CHAMBERS SUSPENDED — SENT: 330 words, photo.
— Lookaheads to weekend play in ACC, SEC.
BKW--T25-BAYLOR-BEATING NO. 1
WACO, Texas —Kalani Brown knows No. 8 Baylor can’t get complacent after ending top-ranked UConn’s 126-game regular-season winning streak. That big win, though, gave a glimpse of what is possible if the Lady Bears keep playing that way. By Stephen Hawkins. SENT: 600 words, photos.
ATHENS, Greece —Rick Pitino’s winning streak with Greek club Panathinaikos is over. After two straight victories in his first European coaching job, Pitino’s team was dealt a 79-65 loss on the road Friday to archrival Olympiakos in a game for the Euroleague, Europe’s premier club competition. By Demetris Neelas. SENT: 550 words, photos.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Alex Zanardi is still racing 17 years after both his legs were severed in a crash. The Italian is now behind the wheel of a BMW at Daytona International Speedway that has been customized for Zanardi to race without his prosthetic legs. By Auto Racing Writer Jenna Fryer. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.
— MOT--SUPERCROSS PREVIEW — By John Marshall. SENT: 560 words, photos.
SOC--ASIAN CUP PREVIEW
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Sven-Goran Eriksson and Marcello Lippi managed against each other in the Italian league more than 20 years ago. Eriksson, a former England coach, is now with the Philippines and Lippi is coaching China at the Asian Cup. The politically charged 24-team tournament begins Saturday. By John Duerden. SENT: 750 words, photos.
— SOC--ENGLISH ROUNDUP — SENT: 350 words, photos.
— SOC--US WOMEN-CAMP — SENT: 350 words, photos.
— SOC--HERMANN TROPHY — SENT: 100 words.
— SOC--CREW MOVES — SENT: 130 words.
— TEN--ASB CLASSIC — SENT: 300 words.
— TEN--BRISBANE INTERNATIONAL — SENT: 150 words, photos
— TEN--HOPMAN CUP — SENT: 350 words, photos.
— TEN--SHENZHEN OPEN — SENT: 100 words.
— TEN--MAHARASHTRA OPEN — SENT: 130 words.
— HKO--WORLD JUNIORS — SENT: 500 words, photos.
— SKE--WORLD CUP — SENT: 130 words.
— FBC--VIRGINIA-OBIT-WELSH — SENT: 300 words, photos.
— BKN--NBA CAPSULES
— HKN--NHL CAPSULES
— BKW--T25-TOP 25 CAPSULES
Saturday Time Schedule (EST)
AFC: Indianapolis at Houston, 4:35 p.m.
NFC: Seattle at Dallas, 8:15 p.m.
Charlotte at Denver, 5 p.m.
Utah at Detroit, 7 p.m.
Dallas at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.
New Orleans at Cleveland, 8 p.m.
Toronto at Milwaukee, 8:30 p.m.
Memphis at San Antonio, 8:30 p.m.
Houston at Portland, 10 p.m.
Golden State at Sacramento, 10 p.m.
Calgary at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.
Minnesota at Ottawa, 1 p.m.
Buffalo at Boston, 7 p.m.
Vancouver at Toronto, 7 p.m.
Nashville at Montreal, 7 p.m.
Columbus at Florida, 7 p.m.
N.Y. Islanders at St. Louis, 8 p.m.
Edmonton at Los Angeles, 10 p.m.
Tampa Bay at San Jose, 11 p.m.
TOP 25 BASKETBALL
No. 1 Duke vs. Clemson, 8 p.m.
No. 3 Tennessee vs. Georgia, 3:30 p.m.
No. 4 Virginia vs. No. 9 Florida State, 3 p.m.
No. 5 Kansas at Iowa State, 5 p.m.
No. 6 Nevada at New Mexico, 8 p.m.
No. 7 Gonzaga vs. Santa Clara, 9 p.m.
No. 8 Michigan State at No. 14 Ohio State, Noon
No. 10 Virginia Tech vs. Boston College, Noon
No. 11 Texas Tech vs. Kansas State, 2 p.m.
No. 13 Kentucky at Alabama, 1 p.m.
No. 15 North Carolina at Pittsburgh, Noon
No. 23 Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State, 2 p.m.
No. 4 Maryland vs. Ohio State, 4 p.m.
No. 17 Gonzaga vs. Pacific, 3 p.m.
No. 25 Iowa State at Kansas, 2 p.m.