NFL SCOREBOARD

Indianapolis 27 Houston 20

Cleveland 20 NY Giants 6

Tampa Bay 31 Atlanta 27

Baltimore 40 Jacksonville 14

Dallas 41 San Francisco 33

Miami 22 New England 12

Chicago 33 Minnesota 27

Tennessee 46 Detroit 25

Seattle 20 Washington 15

Arizona 33 Philadelphia 26

NY Jets 23 LA Rams 20

Kansas City 32 New Orleans 29

MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Northwestern 79 #4 Michigan State 65

#6 Houston 88 Alcorn State 55

#9 Creighton 76 Connecticut 74 OT

#11 Texas 77 Oklahoma State 74

#19 Rutgers 91 #13 Illinois 88

Wright State 85 Detroit 72

Xavier 91 Marquette 88

Drake 111 Chicago State 67

Youngstown State 70 Northern Kentucky 60

Illinois Chicago 90 Oakland 73

Minnesota 90 St. Louis 82

WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

#6 Arizona 77 Utah 60

#10 Texas A&M 57 Rice 53

#13 Mississippi State 72 Central Arkansas 49

#15 Indiana 81 Nebraska 45

#18 Syracuse 83 Boston College 70

#25 Gonzaga 77 Eastern Michigan 68

East Carolina 74 Cincinnati 67

Detroit 72 Illinois Chicago 58

Northern Kentucky 80 Fort Wayne 63

IUPUI 72 Cleveland State 52

Ball State 67 Akron 60

Purdue 91 Penn State 87

Wright State 74 Oakland 49

Clemson 78 Notre Dame 55

Michigan State 82 Northern Illinois 70

Wisconsin 89 Valparaiso 82 OT

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF POLL

RankSchoolPrev
1Alabama (11-0)1
2Clemson (10-1)3
3Ohio State (6-0)4
4Notre Dame (10-1)2
5Texas A&M (8-1)5
6Oklahoma (8-2)10
7Florida (8-3)7
8Cincinnati (9-0)9
9Georgia (7-2)8
10Iowa State (8-3)6
11Indiana (6-1)11
12Coastal Carolina (11-0)12
13North Carolina (8-3)15
14Northwestern (6-2)14
15Iowa (6-2)16
16BYU (10-1)17
17USC (5-1)13
18Miami (FL) (8-2)18
19Louisiana (9-1)19
20Texas (6-3)20
21Oklahoma State (7-3)21
22San Jose State (7-0)24
23North Carolina State (8-3)22
24Tulsa (6-2)23
25Oregon (4-2)NR

AP COLLEGE FOOTBALL POLL

RankSchoolVotesPrev
1Alabama (11-0)1550 (62)1
2Clemson (10-1)14824
3Ohio State (6-0)14243
4Notre Dame (10-1)13382
5Texas A&M (8-1)12975
6Cincinnati (9-0)12626
7Indiana (6-1)11237
8Oklahoma (8-2)108812
9Coastal Carolina (11-0)10249
10Florida (8-3)100111
11Georgia (7-2)95910
12Iowa State (8-3)8458
13BYU (10-1)77914
14North Carolina (8-3)68516
15Northwestern (6-2)66615
16Louisiana (9-1)64217
17Iowa (6-2)55618
18Miami (FL) (8-2)47519
19San Jose State (7-0)37225
20Texas (6-3)29121
21USC (5-1)27613
22Tulsa (6-2)27420
23Liberty (9-1)20722
24North Carolina State (8-3)18124
25Oregon (4-2)126NR

Others: Oklahoma State (115) , Army West Point (36) , Buffalo (15) , UCF (14) , Marshall (13) , Ball State (11) , Washington (7) , UAB (5) , TCU (4) , Memphis (2) , Colorado (1)

COACHES COLLEGE FOOTBALL POLL

RankSchoolVotesPrev
1Alabama (11-0)1525 (61)1
2Clemson (10-1)14563
3Ohio State (6-0)13794
4Notre Dame (10-1)13172
5Texas A&M (8-1)12975
6Cincinnati (9-0)12046
7Oklahoma (8-2)110410
8Indiana (6-1)10567
9Georgia (7-2)10219
10Florida (8-3)98111
11Coastal Carolina (11-0)91112
12Iowa State (8-3)8388
13Northwestern (6-2)72414
14North Carolina (8-3)69915
15BYU (10-1)65716
16Iowa (6-2)58317
17Louisiana (9-1)55618
18Miami (FL) (8-2)47119
19USC (5-1)38813
20San Jose State (7-0)36025
21Oklahoma State (7-3)21122
22North Carolina State (8-3)20723
23Liberty (9-1)20621
24Texas (6-3)19824
25Tulsa (6-2)19120

Others: Oregon (115) , Army West Point (61) , Auburn (27) , Colorado (15) , Ball State (13) , Washington (11) , Wisconsin (10) , SMU (10) , Buffalo (9) , UAB (5) , Boise State (4) , Nevada (2) , Utah (2)

MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL RPI RANKINGS

RankSchoolRPIPrev
1Gonzaga 4-00.86031
2UCF 2-10.811110
3Mercer 6-10.78303
4Georgia State 5-10.77472
5Michigan 6-00.73925
6Boise State 4-10.735314
7West Virginia 7-10.72846
8UConn 3-00.72718
9Missouri 5-00.72029
10Houston 4-00.716513
11Rutgers 5-00.693115
12Baylor 5-00.684616
13Clemson 5-10.680718
14Penn State 3-20.674019
15Louisville 4-10.672110
16Texas 6-10.669125
17Maryland 4-20.669022
18Tennessee 4-00.663921
19Villanova 7-10.66177
20Alabama A&M 2-00.6608NR
21Dayton 4-10.6553NR
22Xavier 7-00.652924
23Saint Louis 6-00.6436NR
24UC Santa Barbara 4-10.6385NR
25Pacific 2-10.6378NR

MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL NET RANKINGS

1Gonzaga 4-0()1
2Kansas 7-1()2
3Dayton 4-1()3
4San Diego State 5-1()4
5Baylor 5-0()5
6Duke 3-2()6
7Michigan State 6-0()7
8Louisville 4-1()8
9BYU 7-2()9
10Florida State 4-1()10
11Creighton 5-2()11
12Oregon 6-1()12
13Villanova 7-1()13
14Arizona 5-1()14
15Seton Hall 5-3()15
16Ohio State 6-1()16
17West Virginia 7-1()17
18Maryland 4-2()18
19Butler 1-2()19
20Houston 4-0()20
21Kentucky 1-5()21
22Texas Tech 6-2()22
23Wisconsin 6-1()23
24Michigan 6-0()24
25Colorado 4-1()25

WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL RPI RANKINGS

1North Carolina State 7-00.77211
2Louisville 5-00.75894
3Syracuse 4-10.74697
4Maryland 5-10.74133
5Texas Southern 1-00.7264NR
6Georgia 6-00.723711
7Georgia Tech 4-10.716213
8Arizona 5-00.716010
9Delaware 3-00.70739
10Washington State 3-00.70605
11Kent State 2-20.702814
12Missouri State 4-20.70142
13South Carolina 5-10.699615
14Houston 3-10.696517
15Wake Forest 4-20.692812
16Texas A&M 7-00.68748
17Iowa 4-10.686420
18UConn 4-00.6833NR
19Kentucky 7-10.679319
20Stanford 6-00.6775NR
21Northwestern 3-00.674724
22Ohio State 4-00.666121
23Cal Poly 3-20.664816
24Kennesaw State 2-00.6642NR
25Michigan State 5-00.6613NR

NOTRE DAME HEADING TO CFP

NOTRE DAME, Indiana — For the second time in three seasons, Notre Dame has earned a slot in the College Football Playoff. The No. 4 Irish (10-1) have been selected to play in the Rose Bowl Game and will take on No. 1 Alabama (11-0) in the CFP Semifinal. 

This season, the Rose Bowl game will take place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Friday, January 1, 2021 at 5 p.m. ET. The game will be aired on ESPN. This season marks the first time Notre Dame has played in the Rose Bowl since 1925 vs. Stanford (27-10 victory).

The 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game is set for January 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. 

The Irish are 2-1^ against Alabama in bowl games (1973 Sugar Bowl, 1974 Orange Bowl, 2012 BCS National Championship), and 5-2^ all-time against the Crimson Tide. 

For Notre Dame, it is the 39th postseason bowl appearance (19-19^ record) after the University declined to participate in bowl games from 1925-68. It marks the tenth season (out of 11) under Dick Corbett Head Football Coach Brian Kelly the Irish have played in the postseason – following appearances in the 2010 Sun Bowl, the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl, the 2013 BCS National Championship (2012 season), the 2013 Pinstripe Bowl, the 2014 Music City Bowl, 2015 Fiesta Bowl, 2018 Citrus Bowl (2017 season), 2018 College Football playoff Semifinal (Cotton Bowl) and the 2019 Camping World Bowl. Under Kelly, the Irish are 5-4 in bowl appearances.

INDIANA HEADED TO OUTBACK BOWL

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana (6-1, 6-1 B1G East) will meet Ole Miss (4-5, 4-5 SEC West) in the 35th Outback Bowl, it was announced on Sunday afternoon. The game will be held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. ET on ABC. 
“It is a tremendous honor to play in the 35th Outback Bowl against a great opponent in Ole Miss,” Indiana head coach Tom Allen said. “Our players, coaching staff, medical staff and everyone associated with our team worked hard to navigate through this difficult season, and I am so happy everyone is getting rewarded for their efforts. Making our second-straight January bowl game shows where we are at as a program, and we are not done yet. We look forward to one more opportunity to represent Hoosier Nation! LEO.” 
The Hoosiers will be making their 13th bowl appearance, their four in sixth seasons, and their second in the state of Florida. IU faced Tennessee in the 2020 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. 
This marks Indiana’s fifth bowl game against an SEC opponent: 1988 Peach Bowl (27-22 loss to Tennessee on Jan. 2), 1988 Liberty Bowl (34-10 win over South Carolina on Dec. 28), 1990 Peach Bowl (27-23 loss to Auburn on Dec. 30, 2020 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl (23-22 loss to Tennessee on Jan. 2). 
This will be the first meeting between the Hoosiers and the Rebels. IU holds a 27-22-1 (.550) all-time record against SEC opponents.

BALL STATE HEADED TO ARIZONA BOWL

MUNCIE, Ind. — The Ball State football team, champion of the Mid-American Conference, has accepted an invitation to the Arizona Bowl. 

The Cardinals will face Mountain West Conference champion San Jose State at noon MT (2 p.m. ET) Thursday, Dec. 31 at Arizona Stadium in Tucson. The game will be televised by CBS. 

“We are thrilled for the honor to represent the MAC at the Arizona Bowl against an incredibly talented team in San Jose State,” Neu said. “Our team has worked so hard and persevered through so much to become champions and to earn the chance to play on a stage like this. We are thankful to CBS, the Arizona Bowl and the MAC for their work in making this game happen despite the obstacles of this year. It’s a tremendous opportunity for this special group to continue an amazing ride, and we can’t wait to play in Tucson.” 

San Jose State (7-0) is ranked No. 25 in the latest AP poll and defeated Boise State in the Mountain West Conference Championship Game. Ball State (6-1) just handed No. 23 Buffalo its first loss to win the program’s first MAC Championship since 1996, completing a remarkable turnaround in Neu’s fifth season at his alma mater. 

The Cardinals are now set for their 10th bowl appearance in program history and their first since the GoDaddy Bowl following the 2013 season. 

“This 2020 Ball State football team has made our campus, our community, our alumni and our fans all so proud,” Director of Athletics Beth Goetz said. “Coach Neu, his staff and our student-athletes are proof of what can be accomplished with a vision, belief and unwavering commitment. It is clearly evident the joy this team has in playing for one another, and there is no one more deserving of this opportunity than our Cardinals. 

“We know the Arizona Bowl offers a first-class experience, and we are thankful to their organization and Executive Director Kym Adair for the invitation. Congratulations to San Jose State on winning their conference championship. We look forward to a great matchup.” 

Ball State enters the game riding a six-game winning streak. A seventh straight win would mean the program’s first bowl victory. 

The Arizona Bowl has billed the first-ever matchup between the programs as one that could be “the Group of 5 game of the year.” The bowl is in its sixth season. 

“We are thrilled to invite these two Conference Champions to the Arizona Bowl to battle it out one last time this season,” Adair said. “The adversity that each of these teams have had to overcome to win their Conference Championship matches is unprecedented. We know that they will both be determined to finish their historic seasons with a win at the Arizona Bowl ensuring that this game will be competitive until the end.” 

In addition to being televised by CBS, the game will air on the Ball State Radio Network at 104.1 WLBC.

CFP MATCH-UPS SET

Notre Dame was picked Sunday over Texas A&M for the final College Football Playoff spot and will face No. 1 Alabama in the semifinals while Clemson and Ohio State were paired in the CFP for the third time.

The Fighting Irish and Crimson Tide will meet Jan. 1 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, after a late pandemic-related relocation from the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The Tigers and Buckeyes are set to play the same day at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans – if all goes according to plan.

The national champion of this college football season played through a pandemic is scheduled to be determined Jan. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

The Fighting Irish (10-1) are back in the playoff for the second time in three seasons, becoming the first team to lose a conference title game and make the selection committee’s final four. The Atlantic Coast is the second conference to have two teams in the playoff, joining the SEC in 2017, thanks to the famously independent Fighting Irish joining the league in football for a year because of the pandemic.

After sitting second in the CFP rankings for a month, Notre Dame was blown out 34-10 by Clemson in the ACC championship. That opened the door for Texas A&M (8-1), which had been lurking in fifth but was unable to become the third team in the playoff’s seven-year history to make the field without even winning its division.

Selection committee chairman Gary Barta, the Iowa athletic director, said Notre Dame’s extra victory against a ranked opponent pushed the Irish over the top.

Notre Dame beat Clemson and North Carolina, which had been 15th in the previous playoff rankings. Texas A&M’s only victory against a team that was in the committee’s ranking was Florida. The Aggies played Alabama in October and lost by 28 points.

Barta said Ohio State’s six-game schedule wasn’t much of an issue for the committee, overcome by the Buckeyes going undefeated and winning the Big Ten.

Oklahoma surged to sixth in the final rankings after closing with seven straight victories and a Big 12 title. Unbeaten Cincinnati finished seventh, making the Bearcats the top-ranked team among Group of Five conference champions and guaranteeing them a spot in one of the New Year’s Six bowls.

The rest of rankings and the major bowl pairings were still to come.

Notre Dame’s reward will be a matchup with Alabama (11-0), the Southeastern Conference champion that is back in the playoff for the sixth time after missing out last year. The last time the Fighting Irish and Crimson Tide played was the 2012 BCS championship game and the Tide won 42-14.

Clemson (10-1) is in for a sixth straight season, only missing out on the first playoff. Ohio State (6-0) is making its third appearance. The Tigers have won two playoff titles and the Buckeyes won the first after the 2014 season.

Clemson-Ohio State is a rematch of last season’s dramatic semifinal in Glendale, Arizona, won 29-23 by the Tigers. The two teams also met at the Fiesta Bowl in the 2016 playoff and Clemson beat the Buckeyes 31-0.

One of the semifinals was scheduled to be played at the Rose Bowl, but a move was announced Saturday night. The change was made after coaches and school officials from playoff contenders complained about California’s COVID-19 restrictions that bans spectators from sporting events and would have made it impossible for players’ families to attend the game.

The Rose Bowl twice asked for a special exemption from the state and was denied.

Playing the game at the home of the Dallas Cowboys will allow 16,000 fans to attend. Because of that, Barta said, the committee placed top-seeded Alabama there to give it the possibility of more of a home-field advantage.

The Superdome is currently set to have 3,000 fans at the other semifinal, but that number could go up.

This season has been filled with disruptions as teams navigated COVID-19 outbreaks, contact tracing that sent players into extended quarantine and daily uncertainty about whether games will be played.

Ohio State had three regular-season games canceled and the Big Ten had to change a minimum games played rule earlier this month just so the unbeaten Buckeyes could play in the conference title game Saturday against Northwestern.

Still, 87% of the games scheduled were played.

College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock has said a team selected to a semifinal would not be replaced if it could not play on the scheduled date. The game would be postponed if necessary and a every effort would be made to make it up.

FIVE BIG 10 YEAMS HEADED TO BOWL GAMES

ROSEMONT, Ill. – Five Big Ten schools were selected for bowl competition on Sunday, highlighted by a berth in the College Football Playoff for Ohio State.

The Buckeyes were the No. 3 seed in the final CFP rankings and will face second-seeded Clemson in the CFP National Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 in New Orleans. Indiana, Iowa, Northwestern and Wisconsin also earned bowl berths.

The full Big Ten bowl lineup is as follows (final CFP rankings are listed):


Allstate Sugar Bowl (College Football Playoff National Semifinal)

  • No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Clemson
  • Jan. 1, 2021 – 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • New Orleans (Mercedes-Benz Superdome)
  • A Big Ten school will play in the Sugar Bowl for the eighth time
  • Ohio State is making its 51st bowl appearance, including its fifth trip to the Sugar Bowl (first since 2014)
  • This will mark the second time Ohio State has played a College Football Playoff semifinal at the Sugar Bowl after defeating Alabama on the team’s path to a national championship in 2014

Vrbo Citrus Bowl

  • No. 14 Northwestern vs. Auburn
  • Jan. 1, 2021 – 1 p.m. ET (ABC)
  • Orlando, Fla. (Camping World Stadium)
  • A Big Ten school will play in the Citrus Bowl for the 29th time
  • Northwestern is making its 16th bowl appearance; the Wildcats are making their second trip to the Citrus Bowl and their first since 1996

Outback Bowl

  • No. 11 Indiana vs. Ole Miss
  • Jan. 2, 2021 – 12:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
  • Tampa, Fla. (Raymond James Stadium)
  • A Big Ten school will play in the Outback Bowl for the 32nd time
  • Indiana is making its 13th bowl appearance, including its first trip to the Outback Bowl

TransPerfect Music City Bowl

  • No. 15 Iowa vs. Missouri
  • Dec. 30, 2020 – 4 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Nashville, Tenn. (Nissan Stadium)
  • A Big Ten school will play in the Music City Bowl for the eighth time
  • Iowa is making its 34th bowl appearance, including its first trip to the Music City Bowl

Duke’s Mayo Bowl

  • Wisconsin vs. Wake Forest
  • Dec. 30, 2020 – 12 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Charlotte, N.C. (Bank of America Stadium)
  • A Big Ten school will play in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl for the first time
  • Wisconsin is making its 32nd bowl appearance

WISCONSIN QB ENTERS TRANSFER PORTAL

Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan has entered the transfer portal after an injury-riddled season in which he didn’t play.

Coan made 18 starts from 2018-19 and helped the Badgers reach the Rose Bowl in 2019, but he injured his right foot in preseason practice and underwent surgery. Although he dressed for Wisconsin’s final three games, the 6-foot-3 senior from Sayville, New York, didn’t play a single down.

Redshirt freshman Graham Mertz started each of the six games Wisconsin (3-3) has played and completed 60.8% of his passes for 1,108 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions. When Mertz got hurt Saturday in a 20-17 victory over Minnesota, sophomore Chase Wolf came in and went 4 of 5 for 15 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Coan owned a 12-6 record as a starter, including an 8-3 mark in Big Ten games.

He has completed 68% of his passes for 3,278 yards with 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Coan had a school-record 236 completions while throwing for 2,727 yards with 18 touchdowns and five interceptions in 2019.

MINNESOTA OPTS OUT OF BOWL GAME

Minnesota is the latest Football Bowl Subdivision team to opt out of bowl game consideration.

Coach P.J. Fleck announced Sunday that the decision was made collectively by athletic department leadership, coaches and players. The Gophers lost 20-17 in overtime at Wisconsin Saturday to finish the season at 3-4. Fleck said the program’s focus is “strictly” on the off-the-field well-being of the players, with the goal of them “being able to responsibly spend some of the remaining holiday season with family and loved ones.”

There’s no guarantee the Gophers would have been invited to a postseason game with a losing record and so many bowls canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Penn State was the first Big Ten to preemptively decline an invitation. Close to 20 teams in the FBS have opted out, including seven each from the Pac-12 and the ACC.

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY

  • The SEATTLE SEAHAWKS defeated Washington, 20-15, to clinch a playoff berth for the third-consecutive season.

    The BUFFALO BILLS defeated Denver, 48-19, on Saturday and clinched the AFC East division title for the first time since 1995.

    For the Week 15 Playoff Scenarios involving the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (Monday night, 8:15 PM ET, ESPN), click here.

    The Steelers, who missed the postseason in 2019, can clinch the AFC North division title this week. In each of the past 42 seasons (1977-2019, excluding 1982, when divisional play did not occur), at least one team has won its division the season after missing the playoffs.

    The TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS overcame a 17-point deficit to defeat Atlanta, 31-27, on Sunday.

    With two games remaining this week, there have been 40 games in which a team has overcome a deficit of at least 10 points to win this season, the most through Week 15 in NFL history, and eight games in a which a team has overcome a deficit of at least 17 points to win, trailing only the 2011 season (nine games) for the most ever through Week 15.
  • Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES passed for 254 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 92.0 rating in the Chiefs’ 32-29 win at New Orleans.

    Mahomes has 21 career games with at least three touchdown passes, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER (21 games) for the second-most such games by a quarterback in his first four seasons in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (27 games) has more.
  • Baltimore quarterback LAMAR JACKSON passed for 243 yards and three touchdowns with one interception for a 133.1 rating and added a rushing touchdown in the Ravens’ 40-14 win over Jacksonville.

    Jackson has 19 career rushing touchdowns and surpassed DAK PRESCOTT (18 rushing touchdowns) for the third-most by a quarterback in his first three seasons in NFL history. Only CAM NEWTON (28) and JOSH ALLEN (25) have more.

    Jackson, who had 1,206 rushing yards in 2019, has 828 rushing yards this season and joins MICHAEL VICK (2004 & 2006) as the only quarterbacks with two seasons of at least 800 rushing yards in NFL history.

    Jacksonville rookie running back JAMES ROBINSON recorded a touchdown reception on Sunday against Baltimore.

    Robinson has 10 touchdowns (seven rushing, three receiving) this season and is the third undrafted rookie with 10 touchdowns in the common-draft era, joining PHILLIP LINDSAY (2018) and DOMINIC RHODES (2001).
  • Arizona quarterback KYLER MURRAY passed for 406 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for a 127.8 rating and added a rushing touchdown in the Cardinals’ 33-26 win over Philadelphia.

    Murray has nine games with both a passing touchdown and rushing touchdown this season, the most by a quarterback in a single season in NFL history.

    Murray has 10 career games with both a passing touchdown and rushing touchdown and is the fourth quarterback with 10 such games in his first two seasons in NFL history, joining CAM NEWTON (14 games), JOSH ALLEN (10) and STEVE GROGAN (10).

    Murray, who has 26 touchdown passes and 11 rushing touchdowns this season, joins CAM NEWTON (2015) as the only quarterbacks with at least 25 touchdown passes and 10 rushing touchdowns in a single season in NFL history.

    Philadelphia rookie quarterback JALEN HURTS passed for 338 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 102.3 rating and had 63 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown on Sunday against Arizona.

    Hurts is the first rookie quarterback in the Super Bowl era to throw at least three touchdown passes and rush for a touchdown in his first career road start.

    Hurts joins JOE BURROW (Week 7, 2020) and JUSTIN HERBERT (Week 7, 2020) as the only rookie quarterbacks with at least 300 passing yards, three touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown in a single game since 1970.

    Hurts, who rushed for 106 yards in his first career start in Week 14, joins RANDALL CUNNINGHAM (1985) and LAMAR JACKSON (2018) as the only rookie quarterbacks with at least 50 rushing yards in each of their first two starts in the Super Bowl era.
  • Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY passed for 390 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 110.4 rating in the Buccaneers’ Week 15 victory.

    Brady has 19 career games with at least 375 passing yards and two touchdown passes, surpassing PHILIP RIVERS (18 games) for the third-most such games in NFL history. Only DREW BREES (32) and PEYTON MANNING (20) have more.

    Atlanta quarterback MATT RYAN passed for 356 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 110.6 rating on Sunday.

    Ryan has 343 touchdown passes in his 13-year career and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer FRAN TARKENTON (342 touchdown passes) for the 10th-most touchdown passes in NFL history.
  • Tennessee quarterback RYAN TANNEHILL passed for three touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 145.8 rating and added two rushing touchdowns while running back DERRICK HENRY rushed for 147 yards and a touchdown in the Titans’ 46-25 win over Detroit.

    Tannehill is the third player with a passer rating of 145-or-higher, three touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns in a single game in NFL history, joining JACK KEMP (December 4, 1960) and MICHAEL VICK (November 15, 2010).

    Henry, who led the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards and had 16 rushing touchdowns in 2019, has 1,679 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns this season and joins SHAUN ALEXANDER (2004-05), Pro Football Hall of Famer TERRELL DAVIS (1997-98) and LARRY JOHNSON (2005-06) as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,500 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns in consecutive seasons.
  • Minnesota rookie wide receiver JUSTIN JEFFERSON recorded eight receptions for 104 yards on Sunday against Chicago, his sixth game with at least 100 receiving yards this season.

    Jefferson is the fifth rookie with at least six games of 100-or-more receiving yards in history, joining BILL GROMAN (nine games in 1960), ODELL BECKHAM JR. (seven games in 2014), HARLON HILL (seven games in 1954) and BILLY HOWTON (six games in 1952).

COLTS GET BY TEXANS

Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard made his final punch count Sunday.

When it landed, Houston was finished – again.

Philip Rivers threw a tiebreaking touchdown pass to Zach Pascal with 1:47 left and Leonard forced Keke Coutee to fumble with 19 seconds to go, sealing Indy’s 27-20 victory over Houston. Bobby Okereke recovered the skittering ball in the end zone for the Colts’ second win in three weeks over the Texans – in almost the exact same way.

“I always say pressure does one of two things — it busts pipes or it makes diamonds,” Leonard said. “I’m the kind of guy who, when the pressure’s there, I want to make the play. Luckily today, I was in the right place to make the play.”

He’s been making an impact for three seasons, but this game-saving turnover might be his most important play yet.

The Colts (10-4) have won three straight, remain tied with Tennessee atop the AFC South and move a little closer to the Titans in division record, the second tiebreaker. Tennessee beat Detroit on Sunday.

And it may have given Leonard some points in the friendly competition between himself and Indy’s other starting linebackers – Anthony Walker, who recovered the bad snap two weeks ago in Houston to preserve a 26-20 victory, and Okereke, who followed suit in Sunday’s rematch. Both turnovers were in the red zone.

“I don’t know that I’ve seen that happen before,” said Rivers, a 17-year NFL veteran. “Both of them come down to our defense getting a turnover in the final minute.”

For Houston (4-10), it’s yet another inexplicable chapter in a wild and frustrating season.

Two weeks ago, Watson was virtually inconsolable when he failed to corral the bad snap, letting defensive tackle Grover Stewart knock the ball away from him.

On Sunday, Watson found himself in a different role: consoler.

“Plays like that happen and it just didn’t go our way,” he said. “He (Coutee) almost split it. It just got knocked out. He’s going to be fine and we’ve just got to push forward.”

That won’t be easy after this one, though

The Texans rallied from an early 14-0 deficit to tie the score at 20 midway through the fourth quarter.

Rivers broke the tie by finding Pascal in the flat. Pascal turned up the field, barreling toward the goal line before stretching his arms across and hitting the pylon.

“I knew it was going to be one-on-one for the end zone, so I just tried to make a play,” Pascal said.

Watson answered by marching the Texans to the Colts 21. But after connecting with Coutee for 14 yards on third-and-11, Leonard’s knockout punch sent the loose ball rolling into the end zone where Okereke pounced on it.

Rivers finished 22 of 28 with 228 yards and two scores. Jonathan Taylor had 16 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown.

Watson was 33 of 41 with 373 yards and two touchdowns. David Johnson had 11 receptions for 106 yards in his first action since coming off the COVID-19 list and Coutee had five catches for 53 yards and one score before the fumble.

CLEVELAND MOVES CLOSER TO PLAYOFF SPOT

Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns have their first 10-win season in a while, and they’re on the verge of ending the NFL’s longest playoff drought.

They’re thinking much bigger than all that after a dominant 20-6 win over the New York Giants on Sunday night.

“As long as we take care of our business,” the Browns quarterback said, “we’ll be where we want to be.”

Mayfield led two 95-yard touchdown drives and was sharp all night, helping the Browns (10-4) bounce back from a 47-42 loss to Baltimore last Monday night.

The victory got the Browns closer to clinching their first playoff spot since 2002, the NFL’s longest drought. They also matched their highest win total (10-6 in 2007) since their 1999 expansion rebirth. An 11th victory next Sunday, against the 1-13 New York Jets, and a combination of losses by others could clinch a postseason berth.

“It’s something that until I got into the league my rookie year that I didn’t know how hard it was to win in the league,” said Mayfield, who’s in his third season. “It’s something to be proud of, but the best part is that everybody in there is like, `Yeah, 10 wins but we’re on to the next one.’ Notch on the belt and move on. We’re not done yet.

“And that’s the best part of this team.”

Mayfield has been terrific lately, and it was more of the same in this one as he finished 27 of 32 for 297 yards with scoring passes to Jarvis Landry and Austin Hooper. Mayfield’s 84.3% completion percentage set a Cleveland record, according to ESPN Stats & Info, topping Kelly Holcomb’s 82.9% in 2003.

“I thought Baker was outstanding tonight,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. “He was dialed in. It’s really what I expect from him and what he expects from himself. It’s how he practices, but I really thought he was sharp.”

Nick Chubb had a 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that put it out of reach for the sluggish Giants and made the Browns the first team this season to have two 95-yard TD drives in a game.

Cleveland also dealt a serious blow to the the playoff hopes of the Giants (5-9), who were without injured quarterback Daniel Jones. Colt McCoy, who started 21 games for the Browns from 2010-13, couldn’t get much going against his former team.

Tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens, fired after last season as Cleveland’s head coach, ran the offense with coordinator Jason Garrett out after testing positive for the coronavirus. New York was aggressive early but put up just six points against a defense that gave up 80 points in the past two games.

“Field goals weren’t going to win this game,” Giants coach Joe Judge said.

McCoy was 19 of 31 for 221 yards for the Giants, who are tied with Dallas a game behind Washington for first place in the NFC East.

New York’s opening drive stalled at the 8 after McCoy’s throw to Evan Engram fell incomplete in the end zone. The Giants brought out the field goal unit, but quickly shifted into a fake – with holder Riley Dixon throwing high and incomplete to center Nick Gates, turning over the ball on downs.

It could’ve worked, too: Kicker Graham Gano was wide open in the end zone.

The Browns also went for it on fourth down on their first drive, but also couldn’t get on the scoreboard. On fourth-and-2 from the Giants 43, Mayfield’s pass was batted down at the line by Dexter Lawrence.

New York opted against any trickery on fourth down on its next possession as Gano kicked a 37-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.

The Browns came right back with a scoring drive capped by Mayfield’s 2-yard pass to a wide-open Hooper in the back of the end zone early in the second quarter.

New York had a chance to cut into the lead, went on fourth-and-1 from the 5, and Wayne Gallman was stuffed for no gain.

“Look, I’m not afraid to call things aggressively,” Judge said. “I’m not afraid. I think we have a good scheme in the kicking game to call a fake. I’m not afraid to run the ball fourth-and-1.”

Cleveland took full advantage, with Mayfield leading the Browns on the first 95-yard drive that was capped by a 2-yard pass to a leaping Landry with 21 seconds left in the half.

Landry flashed a “1” and “3? in the back of the end zone to pay homage to his close friend and teammate Odell Beckham Jr., the former Giants wide receiver who sustained a season-ending knee injury earlier this year with Cleveland. Landry, who then jawed with cornerback Isaac Yiadom, was called for taunting. That pushed the Browns back 15 yards on the extra point and Cody Parkey hit the right upright as Cleveland went into the locker room up 13-3.

The Browns put this one away on Chubb’s 1-yard TD with 12:53 left. Chubb had a 6-yard TD run wiped out by a clipping call on Jack Conklin, but got back into the end zone – and this one counted — a few plays later to cap Cleveland’s second 95-yard TD drive.

BEARS STAY IN PLAYOFF RACE

David Montgomery burst through a big hole in the defense and carried most of Minnesota’s secondary with him across the goal line. That 14-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, his second score of the game, put Chicago ahead again by double digits.

Every time the Vikings made a push, this once-flailing Bears offense had an answer.

Montgomery rushed 32 times for a career-high 146 yards as Chicago trampled Minnesota’s depleted defense and hung on for a 33-27 victory on Sunday to stay in the hunt for the expanded playoffs.

“It’s been fun, man, being able to go out there and just let it loose,” said Montgomery, the second-year runner and catalyst for a revived group that has averaged 33 points over the last three games.

“He’s really, really hard to bring down with one guy. He runs with just extreme passion. The guys love that, and we’re feeding off of him,” coach Matt Nagy said.

The Bears (7-7), who entered the afternoon one game behind Arizona for the new third wild-card spot in the NFC, never trailed in winning at Minnesota for a third straight year.

“There’s really good camaraderie right now, just an intensity and a focus that I like to see, and we’re in a good spot. We’ve just got to keep it going,” quarterback Mitch Trubisky said.

Nagy improved to 5-1 against the Vikings (6-8), whose postseason chances all but vanished.

“The last time we played them they didn’t score a touchdown on us defensively,” coach Mike Zimmer said, “and this week we couldn’t slow them down.”

Chicago punted only once, on the opening possession. The only setback after that? Cameron Dantzler intercepted Trubisky’s third-and-goal pass into a crowd in the end zone with 2:57 left and a 30-27 lead, finally giving the Vikings the break they needed.

But the Bears, who were plenty vulnerable on defense themselves, delivered their second fourth-and-1 stop in Minnesota territory to get the ball right back for a field goal.

Dalvin Cook rushed for 132 yards and a score, but he was stuffed on third-and-1. The Vikings called a bootleg on the next play, but the Bears swarmed the edge and forced Kirk Cousins to scramble and throw errantly off his back foot. Cairo Santos, who converted all four of his kicks, stretched his streak to 22 straight field goals made.

The Bears then intercepted a last-snap heave by Cousins into the end zone. The Vikings, who finished 3-5 at home this year, had four goal-to-go situations that yielded only two touchdowns.

“There are so many things that you point to that you can go back and agonize over,” said Cousins, who went 24 for 35 for 271 yards and two scores.

Justin Jefferson had eight receptions for 104 yards and set the single-season franchise rookie record held by Randy Moss with 73 catches and counting. Cousins connected with tight end Tyler Conklin for his first career touchdown catch, a 20-yard score off a play-action rollout that pulled the Vikings within three points with 8:05 remaining.

But the combination of steady pressure and conservative decisions left the Vikings lacking the quick strikes to catch up on a day when their defense was far from complementary.

DETROIT LOSES AT TENNESSEE

Tennessee is clicking on offense at a rate unseen in franchise history chasing the franchise’s first AFC South title since 2008.

The Titans also think they can get better.

Ryan Tannehill accounted for a career-high five touchdowns passing and running, and Derrick Henry ran for 147 yards and a score to move the Titans closer to clinching their third playoff berth in four seasons Sunday routing the Detroit Lions 46-25.

The Titans (10-4) did their part with a second straight victory and fourth in five games to stay atop the AFC South. With Indianapolis beating Houston 27-20, the Titans hold the divisional tiebreaker over the Colts with two games remaining.

They also broke through with the first double-digit win season since 2008, ending a streak of four straight 9-7 seasons.

“Ten wins means nothing,” Tannehill said. “We have bigger goals than that we’re just going to find a way to end each week 1-0. We did that. We’re successful. Now we have to try to find a way to do that next week.”

The second straight loss after Darrell Bevell won his first as interim coach officially eliminated the Lions (5-9) from playoff contention. Quarterback Matthew Stafford shook off a rib injury to start, throwing for 252 yards and a TD before being pulled for Chase Daniel after Tennessee went up 39-18 with 9:00 left.

“I think it’s a valiant effort for him really to even get out there,” Bevell said. “It was amazing watching him during the week, and I just want to say that about him, just how tough and gritty he is.”

Stafford played with center Frank Ragnow (throat) and right tackle (Tyrell Crosby (ankle) both out.

Tennessee became the fifth team in NFL history with five straight games piling up at least 420 yards total offense and 30 points. The Titans scored a season-high with their fourth game of at least 42 points.

“We want to keep our foot on the gas,” Tannehill said.

Tannehill had the first five-TD game of his career. He ran for two TDs and finished with 273 yards passing and three more TDs, giving him a career-high 31 TD passes. He became the first Titans player to account for five TDs on the ground and through the air in the same game since Billy Volek did it 16 years ago against the Raiders.

Coach Mike Vrabel wasn’t happy Tannehill dove for the pylon. Otherwise, the Titans scored on every drive except for when Tannehill was sacked in the end zone for a safety and when they knelt to run out the clock.

“He understands what we’re trying to get done,” Vrabel said of the quarterback Tennessee signed to a four-year extension in March.

Henry capped the opening drive with a 3-yard TD run, his 15th this season. That made him the fourth player in NFL history to run for at least 1,500 yards and 15 TDs in consecutive seasons, joining Terrell Davis (1997-98), Shaun Alexander (2004-05) and Larry Johnson (2005-06).

The Titans led 21-7 after a 75-yard TD pass from Tannehill to Corey Davis and a 17-yard TD run by Tannehill.

Tennessee’s beleaguered defense that came into the game with the fewest sacks in the NFL and last on third down conversions forced three turnovers.

Romeo Okwara sacked Tannehill two plays later for the Lions’ first safety in 75 games, also against Tennessee on Sept. 18, 2016. Swift capped Detroit’s ensuing drive with a 2-yard run, but Matt Prater’s extra point was wide left.

The Lions managed a 53-yard field goal by Prater in the third, tying the NFL record held by Sebastian Janikowski with his 58th career kick of 50 yards or longer.

The Titans put it away with 22 points in the fourth quarter with Tannehill’s second TD run and two more TD passes.

KANSAS CITY BEATS NEW ORLEANS

Patrick Mahomes’ repertoire of side-arm throws, basketball-style push passes, underhanded flips and renowned improvisation humbled yet another highly regarded defense.

Mahomes passed for 254 yards and three touchdowns, and the Kansas City Chiefs extended their winning streak to nine games with a 32-29 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

“Patrick is more impressive than I could imagine,” said running back Le’Veon Bell, who joined the Chiefs in mid-October and scored a 12-yard touchdown on an option pitch from Mahomes. “He’s even more impressive in person. … I’m fortunate to be his teammate.”

The Kansas City defense did its part to spoil Drew Brees’ return from rib fractures and a punctured lung that had kept the record-setting passer out four games.

While Brees passed for 234 yards and three TDs, he completed fewer than half of his passes and was intercepted for just the fourth time this season.

“I wasn’t real efficient, obviously, in the passing game,” Brees said. “I’d say that was a combination of forcing some things down the field instead of just taking a completion underneath. There were some miscues.”

The victory kept the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs (13-1) in pole position to capture the AFC’s lone playoff bye as a No. 1 seed. The Saints (10-4), meanwhile, missed a chance to clinch the NFC South for a second straight week and now are longshots to capture the NFC’s top seed.

Mahomes’ scoring passes went for 5 yards each to Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman, the latter coming as the Chiefs’ agile QB backpedaled toward the left sideline to avoid pressure and released a throw to the back corner of the end zone, where Hardman was able to snag it in traffic while narrowly getting two feet inbounds.

“The biggest challenge is when he extends plays,” Saints coach Sean Payton said of Mahomes. “A 2.5- or 3-second route turns into a 5- or 6-second route. That’s challenging.”

Mahomes’ second TD toss looked more like a basketball assist, a chest-pass to tight end Travis Kelce cutting behind blockers for a 1-yard score.

“It takes a lot of practice as far as getting the blocking right that quickly, finding a way to kind of push it in there,” Mahomes said, noting that the Chiefs scored on the same play against Denver two seasons ago. “The guys did a great job of giving me a lane to throw.”

Mahomes later used an underhanded forward flip to Kelce for a 2-point conversion after Bell’s TD, giving the Chiefs a 29-15 lead in the fourth quarter.

Bell’s score came one play after Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan was flagged for a personal foul and ejected for punching offensive lineman Andrew Wylie.

“We knew the only chance had against that front seven is if we took fight to them,” Wylie said. “It was a brawl, too.”

The Saints pulled to 29-22 when Trey Hendrickson stripped Mahomes while making his second sack of the game, setting up Alvin Kamara’s 14-yard score on a short catch and run through a swarm of players along the right sideline.

Kansas City responded with a field goal before Brees pulled New Orleans within a field goal with his 17-yard pass to Lil’Jordan Humphrey with 2:06 to go.

With two timeouts remaining, the Saints kicked deep, but could not prevent Mahomes and Co. from running out the clock.

JETS WIN FIRST GAME OF SEASON

Sam Darnold and the New York Jets could have been forgiven for forgetting the victory formation, yet everybody knew where to stand when they got the chance at SoFi Stadium.

After 51 weeks and 13 games without a win, the Jets finally earned the chance to celebrate with pride.

“It’s the greatest feeling in sports to be able to ice the game out and know we had it,” Darnold said. “It’s the best.”

The Jets (1-13) knew their 23-20 victory over the embarrassed Los Angeles Rams on Sunday was never pretty. Everybody realized it also came with a major drawback: New York is no longer in position for the top pick in the NFL draft.

Don’t try telling that to the joyful Jets who surged onto the field after the final whistle with the knowledge their names will not be attached to the ignominy of the third 0-16 season in NFL history.

Darnold passed for 207 yards in a steady performance, while Frank Gore rushed for a score that was his 100th career touchdown in the Jets’ first win since the 2019 season finale. Gore also made a decisive third-down reception with 2:12 left for the Jets, who ended the longest losing streak in franchise history with a strong start and a gritty finish.

“I’m just happy for our guys,” coach Adam Gase said. “They’ve done such a great job of how they’ve worked. They’ve been through a lot of adversity. It’s been too long for us to even remember what a win feels like, almost. It’s great to see those guys that excited.”

Gase’s club got its first win of the year only after blowing most of a 17-point lead in the second half. After a potential go-ahead touchdown for the Rams was wiped out by a penalty, forcing LA to kick a field goal, the Jets’ defense stopped the Rams again on downs near midfield with 3:54 to play.

Moments later, Darnold hit Gore with the short pass over the middle that allowed the Jets to run out the clock. It was only a 6-yard gain for Gore, who awkwardly backpedaled with the ball into first down territory It still meant a great deal to the young quarterback and his veteran running back.

“We knew we couldn’t give it back to them, and for us to be able to execute when we really needed to, that was something that obviously we haven’t done all year,” Darnold said. “To be able to execute and see it kind of come all into fruition, I think that was the biggest thing for us. It was an amazing feeling.”

With two games left, New York might have ruined its chances at the No. 1 overall pick because Jacksonville (1-13) is likely to win a tiebreaker based on strength of schedule. But possibly missing the chance to draft Clemson star Trevor Lawrence meant nothing to the players and coaches responsible for this lost season.

It certainly didn’t bother Darnold, who looked right at home in his first pro game in his native Southern California. The former USC Trojans star went 22 of 31 with a touchdown pass and no interceptions.

“It doesn’t affect us,” Darnold said. “We’re focused on one job every single week, and that’s winning a game. Anything other than that, we’re not focused on.”

New York had a 13-3 lead at halftime after holding the Rams to 97 yards, and the Jets led 20-3 midway through the third quarter. Los Angeles chipped the deficit down to three points with TD catches by Robert Woods and Tyler Higbee, but the Rams (9-5) couldn’t finish.

Sam Ficken kicked three field goals for the Jets, whose 32nd-ranked offense put up only 289 yards against the NFL’s No. 1 defense – but scored enough points to win.

Of the nine teams in NFL history to start 0-13, the Jets were the fourth to win in Week 15.

The Rams could have clinched a playoff berth with a win. Instead, they were left with the most humiliating loss of coach Sean McVay’s largely successful four seasons in charge.

“In all three phases, it wasn’t good enough,” McVay said. “This loss will demoralize us only as much as we allow it to. It’s going to be embarrassing. Sick to your stomach about it, but we do have two games left. … It’s very humbling, but we’re going to move forward. That’s all I know how to do.”

Jared Goff passed for 209 yards for the Rams, who had won four of five to surge to the top of the NFC West. Their offense was inept while their elite defense wasn’t sharp, allowing the Jets to convert seven third downs.

The Rams still can win the division if they can beat the Seahawks in Seattle next week, but their task got exponentially harder.

“We have a game coming up next week that we were going to have to win anyways, and I think we know that,” Goff said. “Obviously we’re disappointed with how today went, and embarrassed.”

The Jets started out just as impressively as they usually do, marching for a score on their eighth consecutive opening possession with an 18-yard catch-and-run by Ty Johnson. New York tacked on two field goals after a blocked punt and an interception by Bryce Hall.

New York opened the second half with a clock-consuming drive capped by a TD push on fourth down from the 1 by Gore, who scored the 16th TD of his career against the Rams.

Los Angeles’ offense finally awoke with a pair of 75-yard TD drives, and was in position for more – but Cam Akers’ 18-yard rush for a TD with 7:35 to play was wiped out by a holding penalty.

Jets safety Marcus Maye made a beautiful deflection of a throw intended for Gerald Everett on fourth down when McVay called a long pass play instead of trying a 55-yard tying field goal, which seems within the capabilities of kicker Matt Gay.

SEAHAWKS CLINCH PLAYOFF BIRTH

Russell Wilson asked Carlos Dunlap to make a play to get the Seattle Seahawks into the playoffs, and the veteran defensive end was all too eager to deliver.

Dunlap shook off a lingering foot injury and sacked Washington’s Dwayne Haskins to shore up a 20-15 victory Sunday that clinched a playoff spot. It’s Seattle’s ninth berth in 11 seasons under coach Pete Carroll but Dunlap’s first crack at the postseason since 2015 and safety Jamal Adams’ first in his NFL career.

“I know you guys are used to Seattle always going to the playoffs – I’m not used to this,” said Adams, who extended his single-season sacks record for a defensive back. Adams couldn’t contain his excitement after another game he played with two broken fingers. “I’m just excited. It feels good, man. This is what you dream of.”

Carroll called it a “sweet win,” brushing off a rough fourth quarter to celebrate another accomplishment. Russell Wilson threw for a touchdown, Carlos Hyde ran 50 yards for a score, and the Seahawks (10-4) picked off Haskins twice to build a big lead before holding on with a big defensive stop in the final minutes.

It was only fitting Dunlap had the big sack on third-and-15 with just over a minute left, given his lengthy playoff drought.

“The universe just wants me to win, and we’ve got an opportunity,” Dunlap said. “That’s all I want is an opportunity.”

Washington (6-8) still has that opportunity in the NFC East, even though its winning streak was snapped at four with Alex Smith out because of a calf injury. Haskins finished 38 of 55 for 295 yards, a TD pass and the two interceptions.

“There were some plays I’d want back, for sure,” Haskins said. “It was definitely a hard fought game.”

Wilson threw for 121 yards and a 10-yard TD pass to Jacob Hollister and ran for 52 on six carries. Hyde’s 50-yard TD run was Seattle’s longest rushing play of the season.

“I was following Hollister,” Hyde said. “He actually took me to the end zone. I followed him. He was my convoy to the end zone for six.”

NFL TO CASH IN?

NFL rumors: Coming into the 2020 season, the NFL was bracing itself to lose billions of dollars in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With television ratings sliding and teams playing in empty stadiums, everything was headed in the wrong direction for the league financially.

Fortunately, even in a year with a fraction of its typical stadium revenue coming in, the NFL has found a source of income that could be huge for the 2021 season. In fact, thanks to television networks, record-setting money could be headed to professional football.

Once the NFL and NFL Players Association agreed on a new collective-bargaining agreement, the league immediately shifted its focus to the next round of negotiations. Specifically, hammering out new contracts to sell the broadcasting rights for NFL games in future seasons.

Once the NFL and NFL Players Association agreed on a new collective-bargaining agreement, the league immediately shifted its focus to the next round of negotiations. Specifically, hammering out new contracts to sell the broadcasting rights for NFL games in future seasons.

The bidding war between NBC and ESPN/ABC will reportedly see NBC still host Sunday Night Football moving forward. While NBC’s existing contract with the NFL isn’t scheduled to expire until 2022, both the league and network wanted to get things ironed out quickly. Because the agreement will reportedly cover the life of the CBA, fans will likely see Drew Brees transition from playing on SNF to serving as the top analyst for the game.

BUTLER HOSTS SOUTHERN ILLINOIS TONIGHT

GAME 4:  BUTLER (1-2, 0-1 BIG EAST) VS. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (5-0)

Monday, Dec. 21;  7:30PM 

Hinkle Fieldhouse;  Indianapolis, Ind.

TV:  FS1 – @MattSchumacker_ & Dickey Simpkins (@ds8bballn)

Radio:  107.5FM/93.5FM/1070AM – @MarkMinner & Nick Gardner (@n_gardner)

THE SERIES: Butler Leads, 2-1

Streak: Butler, W1

At Hinkle Fieldhouse: Tied, 1-1

LaVall Jordan (at BU) vs. SIU 0-0

First Meeting: Butler, 70-58; 1962-63 Season (at Hinkle)

Last Meeting: Butler, 57-55, 12/28/07 (at SIU) 

• Butler has won 59 consecutive home games against non-conference opponents, the longest active streak in the nation.

• Butler continues a stretch of four games in eight days that began Wednesday at Villanova.

• Butler utilized only seven players vs. Indiana Saturday; Aaron Thompson missed that contest with a sprained ligament in his right knee. He is questionable for the SIU game.

• Jair Bolden hit a career-best six three-pointers against Indiana, posting 20 points.

• Butler (62.1 ppg; 11th) and Southern Illinois (62.2 ppg; 14th) were both ranked in the Top 15 nationally in scoring defense last season.

• Butler’s .389 accuracy from three-point range is 40th nationally.

• Bryce Nze pulled down 10 rebounds against Indiana Saturday, his 17th career double-digit rebounding game.

• After shooting 73 percent from the free throw line a season ago, Butler has shot only 60 percent from the free throw line to start the season.

• All 66 of Butler’s points at Villanova were either scored by seniors (41) or freshmen (25)

• Aaron Thompson scored a career-high 21 points to lead Butler to a season-opening win over Western Michigan.

• Thompson has 396 career assists, which is already seventh in Butler history.

• Nze earned preseason All-BIG EAST second team recognition by the league’s head coaches

• The Bulldogs finished the 2019-20 season ranked 21st (coaches) and 23rd (AP) in the national polls; Butler was ranked No. 5 in both national polls Jan. 13, the highest in-season ranking in program history.

• Butler’s 10 NET Quad 1 wins were tied for third nationally in 2019-20.

• Butler has won 20 or more games in 20 of the past 24 seasons. 

The Bulldogs return to Hinkle Fieldhouse Monday night, hosting Southern Illinois in a non-conference match-up. With a pause due to COVID-19 protocols that began Nov. 26, followed by a road game and a neutral site contest upon their return from the pause, this will be Butler’s first home game in 26 days. 

A game against DePaul scheduled for this Dec. 21 date was announced on Dec. 11, but then postponed on Dec. 14 due to lingering COVID-19 issues within DePaul’s program. The game against Southern Illinois was announced on the evening of Dec. 17.

THE SERIES: The programs have met three times previously with Butler winning twice. The most recent match-up was a Butler 57-55 road win Dec. 28, 2007 as A.J. Graves pulled up from 35 feet and hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to propel the No. 16 Bulldogs to the win.

That came one season after SIU, ranked No. 16 nationally, knocked off No. 12 Butler, 68-64, as part of the BracketBuster event at Hinkle Fieldhouse (Dec. 28, 2007). Butler’s LaVall Jordan was an assistant coach for that match-up. Both Butler and SIU advanced to the Sweet Sixteen during that 2006-07 season. 

YOUTH MOVEMENT: Four true freshmen are among the top eight Bulldogs in terms of minutes played through Butler’s first three games. Myles Tate and JaKobe Coles both scored in double figures against Indiana Saturday, one game after Chuck Harris posted 12 points at Villanova. In a six-point game midway through the second half at No. 7 Villanova Dec. 16, coach LaVall Jordan employed a line-up of his four freshmen alongside John-Michael Mulloy, who played a total of 76 minutes as a freshman last season.

This is only the third season since 2008-09 that three true freshmen have started a game for Butler: 2020-21 (Tate, Harris, Coles); 2011-12 (Roosevelt Jones, Kameron Woods, Jackson Aldridge); and 2008-09 (Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack, Ron Nored). 

THE VETERAN: Graduate transfer Jair Bolden is off to a hot start in his Butler career. Bolden’s average of 4.0 three-pointers per game is fifth nationally, while his three-point percentage of 52.2 percent is 19th in the NCAA (both rankings through Saturday’s games). Bolden leads the Bulldogs at 17.7 points per game. He has scored at least 15 points in each of Butler’s games.

Bolden’s production from behind the arc has been increasingly important as the Bulldogs only return players who made 21 of the team’s 212 three-pointers in 2019-20. 

HITTING THE PAUSE BUTTON: Butler entered a pause of team activities on Nov. 26 in accordance with COVID-19 protocols. That was the day after Butler’s season-opening win over Western Michigan (Nov. 25). The Bulldogs were forced to postpone four games that were on their early-season schedule before returning to action Dec. 16 at No. 7 Villanova. While Butler has had several gaps in its schedule of 10+ days over the years (largely between the conference tournament and NCAA Tournament while a member of the Horizon League), the 21-day in-season break looks to be the longest gap between games in Butler program history.

1-0: The Bulldogs came away with a 66-62 win over Western Michigan on the first evening of the 2020-21 season (Nov. 25). In a game that featured 13 ties and nine lead changes, Butler utilized a career night from senior Aaron Thompson. The point guard had a career-best 21 points, going 6-of-9 from the field and 8-of-11 from the free throw stripe.

NORTHWESTERN UPSETS MICHIGAN STATE

Northwestern coach Chris Collins wants his team to take a step forward this year after struggling last season.

It’s early yet, but the Wildcats made quite a statement Sunday night.

Boo Buie scored a career-high 30 points and Northwestern beat Michigan State for the first time in almost a decade, holding off the No. 4 Spartans for a 79-65 victory.

Pete Nance added 15 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in Northwestern’s biggest win since its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017. Freshman Ty Berry had 12 points in the Big Ten opener for each school, including three of the Wildcats’ 10 3-pointers.

“I just thought every time they tried to make a push I thought our guys just made some great plays,” Collins said.

Northwestern (4-1) stopped a 12-game slide in the series with its first victory over Michigan State since Jan. 14, 2012. It also was the Wildcats’ first win over a top-five team in the AP poll since an 83-65 victory over Magic Johnson and then-No. 4 Michigan State on Jan. 27, 1979.

Coming off a frustrating 8-23 season that included just three wins in the Big Ten, it was a night to savor for Buie, Nance and the rest of the Wildcats who learned some tough lessons last year.

“We’re trying to change the narrative on what everybody thinks about us, that we can’t finish, all this stuff,” Nance said. “We’re just a really tight-knit group and we just love playing together and being out there with each other.”

The Spartans looked rusty in their first game in a week and just their second overall since Dec. 7. They were supposed to play Virginia on Dec. 9, but that game was postponed because of COVID-19 issues with the Cavaliers.

Aaron Henry scored 11 points for Michigan State (6-1), and Malik Hall finished with 10 points and nine boards. The Spartans shot just 39% (26 for 67) from the field.

“One of the more inept performances of my 26 years,” coach Tom Izzo said. “It’s kind of a harsh statement. I’m blaming myself. I’m the one that has to have my team ready.”

Michigan State also had a scare when starting forward Joey Hauser left late in the first half with a left knee injury. But he returned early in the second half and finished with five points on 2-for-7 shooting.

Northwestern led by as many as 21 at 61-40 with 11:57 left. Michigan State responded with a 9-0 run, including a three-point play by Henry, but Berry steadied the Wildcats with a 3 with 8:47 remaining.

Buie hit four foul shots and a 3 in the final two minutes to help close it out. The sophomore guard went 9 for 15 from the field, including a 5-for-6 performance from beyond the arc.

“Every time I step on the court I just try to take what the game is giving me, whether that may be scoring, finding my teammates, leading or all of the above,” Buie said.

Michigan State looked rusty early on and a fired-up Northwestern team took advantage. Buie, who scored a career-high 26 points in Northwestern’s 77-72 loss to Michigan State last December, hit consecutive 3-pointers to give the Wildcats a 34-23 lead with 3:34 left in the first half.

Nance made another 3 with 51 seconds left, helping Northwestern to a 43-30 lead at the break. The Spartans shot 35% (12 for 34) in the first half, compared to 52% (14 for 27) for the Wildcats.

“We just didn’t come to play,” Michigan State guard Joshua Langford said. “We messed up a lot of coverages defensively. We just (weren’t) there as a unit overall.”

INDIANA WBB BEATS NEBRASKA

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – A pair of double-doubles from junior forward Aleksa Gulbe and freshman forward Kiandra Browne highlighted No. 15 Indiana Women’s Basketball in an 81-45 win over Nebraska to open Big Ten play on Sunday afternoon inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall

KEY MOMENTS

  • It was a back-and-forth battle to start the first quarter of action. Tied 9-9 in the final minutes of the first quarter, senior guard Ali Patberg and sophomore guard Mackenzie Holmes combined for the final points of the frame to give Indiana a 13-9 lead at the closing of the first quarter.
  • After a cold first frame, it was all Hoosiers in the second quarter as they went on 17-2 run lasting 6:38. After a buzzer beating three by Patberg, Indiana closed out the quarter on 20-4 run and took a 38-19 lead into the halftime break. Holmes and Gulbe accounted for eight points each while Patberg scored five points. Junior guard Grace Berger and senior guard Jaelynn Penn each drained two. As a team, the Hoosiers shot 47.4 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from the behind the 3-pont line. They also held the Huskers to 25.0 percent shooting in the frame.
  • To start the third quarter, Gulbe sunk her third 3-pointer of the afternoon, pushing the Hoosiers lead to 41-20.  In another frame of runs, Indiana went 9-0 to push the score to 47-20 at the halfway mark. Indiana led by as much as 29 points after a second chance layup was made by Holmes at the 1:05 mark. Redshirt junior guard Danielle Patterson hit a driving layup as the clock expired to extend the Indiana lead to 57-29 with 10 minutes to go in the contest.
  • Carrying the momentum over to the fourth quarter, Patterson pushed in a second chance layup, giving the Hoosiers a 59-29 edge over Nebraska. Piling on the points, redshirt junior guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary banked her first five points as a Hoosier, hitting a shot from behind the arch and a second chance layup. After a made 3-pointer with 2:42 to go, freshman guard Kiandra Browne earned her first career double-double. She ended the day with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Indiana would win the contest handily over Nebraska, 81-45.

NOTABLE

  • Indiana won its Big Ten opener for the third straight season for the first time since 1991-94.
  • The Hoosiers used a 15-0 run to go up 33-14 in the first half. Indiana held Nebraska scoreless for five minutes and 55 seconds during the run.
  • Junior Aleksa Gulbe (13) and Sophomore Mackenzie Holmes (12) both scored in double digits in the first half. The Hoosiers led 38-19 at halftime.
  • Gulbe led the Hoosiers with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field. She added 12 rebounds for her first career double-double. Holmes finished with 16 points and added five rebounds and three blocks.
  • Holmes had tallied 17 blocked shots through five games this season.
  • Freshman Kiandra Browne posted a career-high 10 points and her first career double-double with 10 rebounds.
  • Redshirt Junior Nicole Cardaño-Hillary scored her first points as a Hoosier with five points.
  • Indiana held Nebraska to 16-of-59 (27.1 percent) from the field.
  • The Hoosiers outrebounded Nebraska 61-35, including 23-7 on offensive rebounds.
  • Indiana got 30 points from its bench, a new season-high.

GOBERT AGREES TO EXTENSION

 Rudy Gobert arrived in Utah seven years ago as a relative unknown, without a lot of fanfare and with some serious questions about his potential.

Those days are long forgotten.

Gobert has signed a contract extension with the Jazz, the team said Sunday without divulging terms. A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the deal is worth $205 million over five years, though Gobert holds an option to end the deal one year early.

“Rudy’s competitiveness and will to win have been instrumental in watching how he has grown and evolved into an elite player in our league,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “He is dedicated to his teammates and to winning here in Utah.”

The move, first reported by ESPN, was announced two days after Ryan Smith was confirmed by the NBA’s board of governors to become the owner of the Jazz, and is the capper to an offseason where Utah committed perhaps as much as $400 million to Gobert and Donovan Mitchell over the five seasons that span from 2021-22 through 2025-26.

The Jazz signed Mitchell to an extension last month that could reach $195 million over those five years.

“I’m here to stay, and I’m here to WIN a championship,” Gobert wrote in a letter – he addressed it “Dear Utah” – posted to Twitter on Sunday. “I’m here to win with my brothers, I’m here to win with Coach Q and I’m here to win with you, Utah. Let’s get it. Merci.”

Gobert is a three-time All-Defensive team player, a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and made the All-Star team last season for the first time. The 7-foot-1 native of France – with a 7-foot-9 wingspan – has blocked 989 shots in the last six seasons, more than anyone else in the NBA during that stretch.

KUZMA GETS EXTENSION

Forward Kyle Kuzma has agreed to a three-year, $40 million extension to remain with the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, a person familiar with the deal said Sunday.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Lakers didn’t disclose the terms of the deal in their announcement of an extension. ESPN first reported the terms of Kuzma’s rookie contract extension, which begins in 2021 and includes a player option for the 2023-24 season.

Kuzma has been a key component of the Lakers’ core for three seasons since the team acquired him in a draft-day trade in 2017.

“It is especially gratifying for our Lakers franchise to draft, develop and now sign one of our own to a contract extension,” Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said. “Kyle has shown tremendous growth over the last three years, and played a crucial role on last season’s championship team.”

Kuzma made the All-NBA rookie first team in 2018, and the smooth scorer averaged a career-best 18.7 points in his second pro season after the arrival of LeBron James.

When Anthony Davis and several veteran additions transformed the Lakers into title contenders last season, Kuzma transitioned into a supporting role as a reserve scorer and a wing defender. His scoring average and shooting percentage declined, but he worked on improving his defense and playmaking.

Despite his decline in numbers, Kuzma is a valuable component for the defending champs because of his versatility and capability of providing quick offense. James and Davis have mentored Kuzma on defense as well, and Kuzma is expected to compete for a starting job and more minutes this season.

The Lakers begin defense of their 16th NBA championship on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The champs will be pressed hard against the salary cap for the foreseeable future, so their ability to re-sign their own players is crucial. Kuzma also has significant value as a potential trade component at this salary if the Lakers and Kuzma decide to break up in the future.

The Lakers locked down a significant portion of their core during the short offseason after their triumph in the Florida bubble. Davis and James agreed to lucrative deals that will keep them together for three more seasons, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope got a three-year deal worth more than $39 million.

NFL STANDINGS

American Football Conference
East Division
 WLTPctGBPFPAHomeRoadvs. Confvs. DivStreak
Buffalo Bills1030.7690.03593216-1-04-2-07-2-04-0-03 W
Miami Dolphins850.6152.03302454-3-04-2-05-4-02-2-01 L
New England Patriots670.4624.02772794-2-02-5-05-4-02-1-01 L
New York Jets0130.00010.01833930-7-00-6-00-10-00-5-013 L
 
West Division
 WLTPctGBPFPAHomeRoadvs. Confvs. DivStreak
xy-Kansas City Chiefs1210.9230.04032815-1-07-0-010-1-04-1-08 W
Las Vegas Raiders760.5385.03503912-4-05-2-05-4-03-1-01 L
Denver Broncos580.3857.02573472-4-03-4-04-5-01-3-01 W
Los Angeles Chargers490.3088.02973623-4-01-5-03-6-00-3-01 W
 
North Division
 WLTPctGBPFPAHomeRoadvs. Confvs. DivStreak
x-Pittsburgh Steelers1120.8460.03492376-1-05-1-08-1-04-0-02 L
Cleveland Browns940.6922.03483685-2-04-2-06-4-02-3-01 L
Baltimore Ravens850.6153.03632733-3-05-2-05-5-03-2-02 W
Cincinnati Bengals2101.1928.52443382-4-00-6-12-7-00-4-05 L
 
South Division
 WLTPctGBPFPAHomeRoadvs. Confvs. DivStreak
Tennessee Titans940.6920.03903364-3-05-1-07-4-04-1-01 W
Indianapolis Colts940.6920.03723004-2-05-2-05-4-02-2-02 W
Houston Texans490.3085.02953592-4-02-5-03-6-02-2-02 L
Jacksonville Jaguars1120.0778.02613831-6-00-6-01-9-01-4-012 L
 
National Football Conference
East Division
 WLTPctGBPFPAHomeRoadvs. Confvs. DivStreak
Washington Football Team670.4620.02872753-3-03-4-04-5-03-2-04 W
New York Giants580.3851.02382912-4-03-4-04-7-03-2-01 L
Philadelphia Eagles481.3461.52773283-3-11-5-04-5-02-2-01 W
Dallas Cowboys490.3082.02984002-4-02-5-03-6-01-3-01 W
 
West Division
 WLTPctGBPFPAHomeRoadvs. Confvs. DivStreak
Los Angeles Rams940.6920.03252465-1-04-3-08-2-02-2-02 W
Seattle Seahawks940.6920.03933246-1-03-3-06-3-02-2-01 W
Arizona Cardinals760.5382.03583033-3-04-3-05-4-02-2-01 W
San Francisco 49ers580.3854.03003111-6-04-2-03-6-02-2-02 L
 
North Division
 WLTPctGBPFPAHomeRoadvs. Confvs. DivStreak
xy-Green Bay Packers1030.7690.04103235-1-05-2-08-2-04-1-03 W
Minnesota Vikings670.4624.03333553-4-03-3-04-5-03-1-01 L
Chicago Bears670.4624.02822913-4-03-3-05-5-01-3-01 W
Detroit Lions580.3855.03103891-5-04-3-04-6-01-4-01 L
 
South Division
 WLTPctGBPFPAHomeRoadvs. Confvs. DivStreak
x-New Orleans Saints1030.7690.03682655-1-05-2-08-2-05-0-01 L
Tampa Bay Buccaneers850.6152.03702944-3-04-2-05-4-02-2-01 W
Atlanta Falcons490.3086.03283222-5-02-4-02-8-01-3-02 L
Carolina Panthers490.3086.03073322-5-02-4-03-6-01-4-02 L
 

X – Clinched Playoff Spot,  Y – Clinched Division,  Z – Clinched Home Field Advantage