BC-AP Sports Digest
The supervisor is Fred Lief, followed by John Nicholson at 5 p.m. and Bob Lentz at 1 a.m. The New York sports desk can be reached at 800-845-8450, ext. 1630. Sports photos, ext. 1918; graphics, ext. 7636; agate, ext. 1635. For up-to-the-minute information on AP’s coverage, visit Coverage Plan at https://newsroom.ap.org For access to AP Newsroom and other technical issues, contact AP Customer Support at email@example.com or 877-836-9477. All times EST.
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 — Deshaun Watson makes his playoff debut for the Texans when they host Andrew Luck and the Colts in a wild-card game. This is AFC South rivals split their two games this season. Both teams have recovered from rough starts: Houston dropped its first three games; Indianapolis lost five of its first six. By Kristie Rieken. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos. Game starts 4:35 p.m.
ARLINGTON, Texas — Dak Prescott goes for his first playoff win in his second try with the Cowboys. This time, he’s at home in a wild-card game against postseason-tested Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. Seattle began 0-2 this year but its season turned with a 24-13 victory over Dallas. By Pro Football Writer Schuyler Dixon. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos. Game starts 8:15 p.m.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — With very different leadership styles, Alabama’s Nick Saban and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney have produced similar results. The one connection is Thad Turnipseed, who has worked with both coaches on structuring their organizations. By College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo. UPCOMING: 750 words, with photos, by 5 p.m.
— FBC--CFP-NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP-THE LATEST — Real-time updates throughout day.
ZAGREB, Croatia — Mikaela Shiffrin dominates the first women’s slalom of 2019, extending her winning streak in the discipline to seven in a row. She has won 12 of the last 13 slaloms in which she raced. Last week, she set the career women’s mark of 36 World Cup slalom victories. By Eric Willemsen. SENT: 650 words, photos.
FBC--CFP NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP-PAUL NEWBERRY
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Nick Saban is a defensive genius. Yet his true greatness is reflected in his willingness to accept a wide-open offensive style that has carried Alabama to a brink of another national title. By Sports Columnist Paul Newberry. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos by 7 p.m.
BALTIMORE — It’s been eight years since Baltimore hosted a playoff game,. Now, with rookie Lamar Jackson at quarterback, they face the Los Angeles Chargers. The wild-card game Sunday is a rematch of a pivotal game from two weeks ago when Baltimore’s defense ruled in a 22-10 victory. By David Ginsburg. SENT: 800 words, photos.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. — After four straight last-place finishes, the Bears are soaring under coach Matt Nagy and play the Super Bowl champion Eagles on Sunday in a wild-card game. Chicago quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will be making make his first playoff while Philadelphia’s Nick Foles will again be filling in for Carson Wentz. By Andrew Seligman. SENT: 850 words, photos by 4 p.m.
FBN--NFL THIS WEEK
Juicy rematches highlight wild-card weekend, and it would be no surprise if any of the eight teams advance. Seattle beat Dallas early this season; Baltimore handled the Chargers late. The Colts and Texans split two games. Only the Eagles and Bears didn’t face off. By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner. SENT: 900 words, photos. First sent Jan. 3 for weekend use. Updated after each of Saturday’s wild-card games.
The reach of Bill Walsh and Bill Parcells is all too evident. The NFL playoffs begin with all 12 of the coaches having some sort of tie to either Walsh, a three-time Super Bowl champion, or Parcells, a two-time winner. By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner. SENT: 550 words, photos.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
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 title game. By College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo. SENT: 850 words, photos.
SAN JOSE, California — Handing over a team with championship aspirations to a freshman quarterback with a popular, successful senior already in charge is a move loaded with land mines. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney made it work, and the Tigers are a win away from a second title in three seasons. By Pete Iacobelli. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 3 p.m.
— FBC--FCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME — North Dakota State vs. Eastern Washington for FCS title in Frisco, Texas. By Stephen Hawkins. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos. Game started noon.
— FBC--WEST VIRGINIA-BROWN — West Virginia hires Troy’s Neal Brown as football coach. SENT: 160 words, photos.
GLF--TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
KAPALUA, Hawaii — Gary Woodland leads by three shots over a group that includes Rory McIlroy going into the third round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions. By Golf Writer Doug Ferguson. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 8:30 p.m.
MILWAUKEE — In a game between the NBA’s top two teams, the Bucks go for their sixth straight victory when they play the Raptors. Milwaukee is playing back-to-back, having routed Atlanta on Friday night. Toronto is coming off a road loss to San Antonio and has lost its first two games against the Bucks this season. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts 8:30 p.m.
LOS ANGELES — Enes Kanter will not go to London for a Jan. 17 because he believes he could be assassinated for his opposition to Turkey’s president. The Knicks center says he can’t travel outside the U.S. and Canada because “there’s a chance I could get killed out there.” By Greg Beacham. SENT: 350 words, photos.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — No. 4 Virginia (12-0) opens ACC play against No. 9 Florida State (12-1). The Cavaliers are trying to become the first team since Duke (1999-2000) to sweep the ACC regular-season and tournament titles in consecutive years. The Seminoles have top scorer Phil Cofer back after a foot injury. By Hank Kurz Jr. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts 3 p.m.
BKC--T25-MICHIGAN STATE-OHIO STATE
COLUMBUS, Ohio — No. 8 Michigan State (12-2) faces No. 14 Ohio State (12-1), with the Spartans having won seven in a row and the Buckeyes six straight. The game features two of the Big Ten’s top big men — the Spartans’ Nick Ward and OSU’s Kaleb Wesson. By Mitch Stacy. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game started noon.
BRISBANE, Australia — Naomi Osaka, ranked No. 5 and the U.S. Open champion, loses to Lesia Tsurenko in the Brisbane International semifinals. A victory would have vaulted her to a No. 3 ranking, a high for a Japanese player. By John Pye. SENT: 650 words, photos.
— TEN--ASB CLASSIC — Unseeded Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu reaches title match in New Zealand. SENT: 250 words, photos.
— TEN--HOPMAN CUP — Roger Federer carries Switzerland to second straight Hopman Cup title with victory over Germany in Australia. SENT: 300 words, photos.
— TEN--SHENZHEN OPEN — Aryna Sabalenka defeats Alison Riske to win final in China. SENT: 170 words.
— TEN--QATAR OPEN — Roberto Bautista Agut wins title in Doha, defeating Tomas Berdych. SENT: 120 words.
— TEN--MAHARASHTRA OPEN — Kevin Anderson rallies in third-set tiebreaker to top Steve Darcis in final in India. SENT: 140 words.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The U.S. plays Finland for the world junior hockey title. The Americans are going for their fifth championship and first since 2017. The U.S. beat Russia in the semifinals while the Finns routed Switzerland. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos. Game starts 8 p.m.
— BOB--WORLD CUP — Olympic champion Mariama Jamanka of Germany wins World Cup bobsled at home; Elana Meyers Taylor of U.S. third. SENT: 200 words.
— LUG--WORLD CUP — Germany’s Julia Taubitz wins World Cup luge on home track; Summer Britcher of U.S. second. SENT: 250 words, photos.
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. — Justify, the Triple Crown champ, and Accelerate, the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, never got to face off on the track. Instead, they’ll duel for Horse of the Year. The two are joined by Monomoy Girl as finalists for the top prize at the Eclipse Awards on Jan. 24. By Tim Reynolds. SENT: 600 words, photos.
— SOC--ENGLISH ROUNDUP — Manchester United, Chelsea beat second-tier opponents in third round of FA Cup; Arsenal faces third-tier club. By Steve Douglas. SENT: 350 words, photos. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 5 p.m.
— SOC--ASIAN CUP — Asian Cup opens with host United Arab Emirates playing Bahrain to 1-1 draw. SENT: 500 words, photos.
— SOC--OBIT-SEKULARAC — Dragoslav Sekularac, Red Star’s attacking midfielder known as “king of dribble,” dies at 81. SENT: 150 words.
— FBN--NFL PLAYOFF CAPSULES
— BKN--NBA CAPSULES
— HKN--NHL CAPSULES
— BKC--T25-TOP 25 CAPSULES
— BKW--T25-TOP 25 CAPSULES
Saturday Time Schedule (EST)
NFL (Wild Card)
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.
College Basketball (Top 25)
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.