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Update on the latest in sports:

December 29, 2018


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

UNDATED (AP) — With lots of fans anticipating an eventual fourth matchup between Alabama and Clemson for college football championship, Oklahoma and Notre Dame will try their best to have something to say about it.

The College Football Playoff semifinals pit the top-ranked Crimson Tide against 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 national championship game is Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, California.


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.


Bears activate Kyle Long from injured reserve

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The Chicago Bears have activated right guard Kyle Long from injured reserve, clearing the way for the three-time Pro Bowl lineman to play in the regular-season finale at Minnesota.

Long has been out since Oct. 28, when he suffered a tendon injury in his right foot against the New York Jets. He had surgery and was placed on IR with an option to return.

The NFC North champion Bears (11-4) are headed to the playoffs for the first time since the 2010 team won the division. They could earn a first-round bye Sunday with a win and a loss by the Los Angeles Rams, while the Vikings (8-6-1) need a win or a loss by the Philadelphia Eagles to make the playoffs as a wild card.

Chicago also waived quarterback Tyler Bray on Saturday.


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.”


Memphis’ Norvell hires Adam Fuller as defensive coordinator

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Memphis has hired Adam Fuller as its defensive coordinator after he spent this season in the same position at Marshall.

Fuller replaces Chris Ball, who left to become the head coach at Football Championship Subdivision program Northern Arizona.

Memphis coach Mike Norvell called Fuller “one of the top defensive minds in college football” in announcing the hire on Saturday.

Fuller has been at Marshall the last six seasons. He was assistant head coach and special teams coordinator from 2013-17 before becoming defensive coordinator in the 2018 season.

He was the defensive coordinator at FCS program Chattanooga from 2009-12.

Marshall allowed 21.8 points and 338.7 yards per game this season. Memphis allowed 31.9 points and 428.1 yards per game.


Islanders place F Eberle on IR, call up Dal Colle from AHL

TORONTO (AP) — The New York Islanders have placed forward Jordan Eberle on injured reserve due to an upper body injury, and recalled forward Michael Dal Colle from Bridgeport of the AHL.

Eberle missed practice on Thursday and then sat out the Islanders’ 6-3 win over Ottawa on Friday night due to stiffness. The move Saturday is retroactive to last Sunday.

The forward has seven goals and 10 assists in 35 games this season, after totaling 25 goals and 34 assists a year ago in his first season with the Islanders.

Dal Colle, selected by New York in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft, has no goals and no assists in six career NHL games, including two in a stint with the Islanders last month. He has 12 goals and 16 assists in 28 games with the Sound Tigers this season.

The Islanders play at Toronto on Saturday night, facing former captain John Tavares for the first time since he left to sign with his hometown Maple Leafs in the offseason.


NHL fines Canadiens’ Danault $5K for tripping Ekblad

NEW YORK (AP) — Montreal Canadiens forward Phillip Danault was fined $5,000 for a dangerous trip against Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad.

Danault tripped Ekblad with about 2 1/2 minutes remaining in Montreal’s 5-3 win at Florida on Friday night. Danault was given a roughing penalty on the play. The NHL announced the fine Saturday.


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.

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