BOYS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
|TUESDAY’ S GAMES|
|Bloomington North||67||Perry Meridian||57|
|Brown County||61||Columbus Christian||47|
|Clinton Prairie||53||Faith Christian||24|
|Decatur Central||62||Indianapolis Ritter||56|
|Eastern (Pekin)||47||New Washington||42|
|Eastern Hancock||64||Randolph Southern||51|
|Evansville North||75||Evansville Mater Dei||53|
|Fort Wayne Blackhawk||118||Lighthouse CPA||75|
|Fountain Central||67||Clinton Central||50|
|Indian Creek||66||Greenwood Christian||59|
|Indianapolis Chatard||56||Oldenburg Academy||33|
|Michigan City||82||Gary 21st Century||69|
|New Palestine||77||Benton Central||50|
|North Daviess||46||Eastern Greene||38|
|NorthWood||68||South Bend Clay||51|
|Plainfield||50||Terre Haute North||35|
|South Bend Riley||59||Plymouth||47|
|South Bend St. Joseph||89||Jimtown||41|
|South Knox||54||White River Valley||34|
|Carroll (Fort Wayne) Classic|
|Carroll (Fort Wayne)||54||Brownsburg||51|
|South Bend Adams||61||Fort Wayne Dwenger||54|
|South Bend Adams||57||Carroll (Fort Wayne)||54|
|Fort Wayne Dwenger||58||Fort Wayne Canterbury||35|
|Central Christian Tournament|
|Purdue Poly Englewood||69||Christel House Academy||53|
|Purdue Poly North||65||Laurel HomeSchool||39|
|Indianapolis Herron||65||Central Christian||54|
|Indianapolis HomeSchool||63||Northwest HomeSchool||59|
GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
|TUESDAY’ S GAMES|
|Alexandria||83||Anderson Prep Academy||6|
|Carroll (Flora)||74||Clinton Central||39|
|Corydon Central||59||Perry Central||40|
|Crawford County||60||Tell City||22|
|East Central||88||South Dearborn||19|
|Eastern Hancock||71||Cambridge City Lincoln||15|
|Fairfield||47||Fort Wayne Dwenger||43|
|Fort Wayne Blackhawk||46||DeKalb||43||OT|
|Indianapolis Ritter||50||Decatur Central||40|
|Lawrence Central||83||Indianapolis Washington||8|
|Mount Vernon (Fortville)||56||Indianapolis Chatard||42|
|North Daviess||36||Eastern Greene||24|
|North Harrison||58||Floyd Central||40|
|North Knox||60||Evansville Central||56||OT|
|Northeast Dubois||49||North Posey||39|
|Randolph Southern||57||Southern Wells||45|
|Silver Creek||67||Heritage Hills||46|
|South Bend St. Joseph||49||Winamac||32|
|Terre Haute North||60||Plainfield||51|
|Triton Central||71||Indianapolis Scecina||24|
|Vincennes Rivet||51||Trinity Lutheran||33|
|Washington Twp.||53||Gary 21st Century||7|
|West Noble||67||Prairie Heights||30|
|West Washington||54||Springs Valley||46|
|Bedford North Lawrence Tournament|
|Bedford North Lawrence||68||Eastern (Pekin)||30|
|Heritage Christian||55||Eastern (Pekin)||48|
|Bedford North Lawrence||60||Linton-Stockton||45|
|Central Christian Tournament|
|Traders Point Christian||49||Irvington Prep Academy||33|
|Purdue Poly Englewood||85||Central Christian||30|
|Indianapolis HomeSchool||84||Traders Point Christian||13|
|Putnam County Tournament|
|South Putnam||80||North Putnam||45|
|Union City Invitational|
|Union City||52||Adams Central||50|
|Blue River||51||Adams Central||26|
|Blue River||69||Union City||60|
#16 BYU 49 Central Florida 23
Nevada 38 Tulane 27
Brooklyn 125 Golden State 99
LA Clippers 116 LA Lakers 109
MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
#1 Gonzaga 95 Northwestern State 78
#3 Kansas 79 #7 West Virginia 65
#4 Iowa 70 Purdue 55
#6 Houston 76 Temple 50
#9 Wisconsin 67 Nebraska 53
#14 Missouri 54 Bradley 53
#15 Texas Tech 69 Oklahoma 67
North Carolina State 79 #17 North Carolina 76
Fairleigh Dickinson 69 Fairfield 65
Citadel 94 Presbyterian 82
Portland 62 Montana State 59
Chattanooga 66 Tennessee State 63
Texas A&M-CC 59 Paul Quinn 35
Niagara 70 Albany 65
East Carolina 68 Tulane 58
Vermont 62 UMass Lowell 53
Central Florida 75 Cincinnati 70
Northern Colorado 69 Idaho State 64
Colorado State 70 Santa Clara 57
VCU 82 James Madison 81
Sacred Heart 86 Wagner 85 OT
Arkansas 85 Abilene Christian 72
California 70 Seattle 65
Ole Miss 90 Tennessee Martin 43
Marshall 88 UNC Asheville 67
Hampton 70 Charleston Southern 68
North Carolina Greensboro 86 North Carolina A&T 65
Arizona 70 Montana 64
Drake 88 North Dakota 55
Davidson 85 Vanderbilt 65
Eastern Kentucky 86 High Point 67
Georgia 76 Northeastern 58
Maryland 84 LaSalle 71
Old Dominion 77 Virginia Wesleyan 57
Louisville 64 Pittsburgh 54
Wichita State 82 S. Florida 77 OT
Texas Arlington 117 Howard Payne 53
Texas San Antonio 88 Lamar 66
Western Kentucky 88 Tennessee Tech 68
Alabama 85 Eastern Tennessee 69
Florida Gulf Coast 73 Georgia Southern 60
Louisiana Tech 68 Louisiana Monroe 57
San Diego State 74 St. Mary’s 49
Oregon State 67 Portland State 62
TCU 89 North Dakota State 82
Colorado 74 Grand Canyon 64
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
#3 Connecticut 90 Villanova 52
#15 Northwestern 79 Eastern Kentucky 50
#18 DePaul 90 Creighton 81
#20 S. Florida 73 Cincinnati 61
#25 Michigan State 94 Oakland 56
Bowling Green 71 Miami Ohio 66
Buffalo 87 Western Michigan 66
East Carolina 77 Tulane 64
Georgia 107 Appalachian 44
St. John’s 60 St. Bonaventure 57
Fordham 71 Albany 42
Iona 72 Sacred Heart 64
Maine 85 Hartford 57
New Orleans 66 Alcorn State 62
Houston 75 Memphis 63
Iowa 92 Western Illinois 65
TCU 62 Oral Roberts 48
St. Francis PA 78 Towson 69
Charleston Southern 58 Hampton 53
Marquette 69 Xavier 56
Howard 65 Richmond 54
Washington State 73 Eastern Washington 52
Oklahoma State 82 N. Texas 68
Fairleigh Dickinson 66 St. Peter’s 60
Iowa State 85 Drake 67
San Francisco 108 Sacramento 82
TOP SPORTS NEWS
IOWA TOPS PURDUE
Offense has spurred No. 4 Iowa’s hot start this season. The Hawkeyes ramped up on defense and rebounding to open Big Ten play.
Luka Garza scored 22 points, Joe Wieskamp added 17 and Iowa beat Purdue 70-55 on Tuesday night in the lowest scoring game of the season for the Hawkeyes, who entered leading the nation with 98.7 points per game.
Iowa outrebounded Purdue 37-35 and held the Boilermakers to 39.7% shooting and their second lowest scoring output of the season.
“It was an impressive win for us, and an impressive effort for us in a lot of areas,” Garza said. “It was just a good effort, all around.”
“It was by far our best effort on the glass and defensively,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “We outrebounded them, which is hard to do. Purdue is always a terrific rebounding team. We had to stay connected, and we had to keep the effort and intensity.”
Garza, who came into the game leading the nation in scoring at 29.3 points per game, scored 10 of the first 16 points for the Hawkeyes (7-1, 1-0 Big Ten), who were coming off a 99-88 loss to No. 1 Gonzaga on Saturday.
“We’re a veteran team,” Garza said. “We know what it’s like to take a loss, and then have a short stretch into the next game. We knew we had to flush it, learn from it, and take those things into the next game. We did that tonight at a really high level. Defending and getting rebounds tonight, that was one of the best efforts we had.”
Garza has scored 20 or more points in 17 consecutive Big Ten games, the longest streak in the conference since Ohio State’s Dennis Hopson had 16 in 1987. Garza was 7 of 14 from the field, including 4 of 8 in 3-pointers.
“We had a slow adjustment at times, and he knocked down some shots,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “He’s a fantastic player. He’s worked so hard. I love seeing guys develop and improve and work hard.”
Garza and Wieskamp added nine rebounds each.
The Hawkeyes survived some early second-half foul trouble for Garza. He picked up his third foul with 16:34 to play and sat for more than five minutes, but Iowa outscored Purdue 11-9 in that stretch to take a 58-44 lead. The Boilermakers got no closer than seven points after that.
Purdue missed seven of its last eight shots.
“Just a lack of execution,” Painter said. “Just a lot of little things, whether that’s being able to step up and get a catch, or screening, or running a play right. Our execution wasn’t very good. We have to do a better job of getting into position to get quality shots.”
“We were playing from behind today,” Purdue guard Sasha Stefanovic said. “It was a struggle to get going.”
Trevion Williams led Purdue (6-3, 1-1) with 14 points and nine rebounds. Brandon Newman added 11 points.
KANSAS ROLLS PAST #7 WEST VIRGINIA
Christian Braun expected West Virginia to deny Kansas open shots on the perimeter.
That has been the Mountaineers’ style for years.
So when they backed off to deny the Jayhawks lanes to the basket, Braun’s eyes lit up like the Griswold family Christmas tree. The sophomore sharpshooter proceeded to knock down six 3-pointers and score 22 points, and Jalen Wilson hit four 3s and scored 17, as No. 3 Kansas cruised to a 79-65 win over the seventh-ranked Mountaineers on Tuesday night.
“To be honest, we didn’t think they’d let us catch. That’s how they normally guard,” Braun explained. “They’re real tough on the perimeter. We didn’t think we’d get shots up. But they came out with a different game plan and we let them fly.”
Marcus Garrett added 15 points, Ochai Agbaji had 11 points and 10 rebounds, and David McCormack added 10 points and 11 boards as the Jayhawks (8-1, 2-0 Big 12) won their fifth straight against the Mountaineers.
Kansas trailed by a point at halftime before Braun and Wilson heated up, carrying the Jayhawks to their eighth consecutive victory overall. Their lone loss came in the opener against top-ranked Gonzaga, and their win streak has included victories over No. 20 Kentucky on a neutral floor, eighth-ranked Creighton and No. 14 Texas Tech on the road.
“It puts us in a position to feel good about ourselves and have some momentum,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Our team tonight wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but we did a lot of things well. Our defense was really good.”
Sean McNeil made six 3-pointers and scored 24 points to lead West Virginia (6-2, 1-1), though almost all of his production came in the first half, when the outcome was still hanging in the balance. Miles McBride added 19 points, but the bruising duo of Oscar Tschiebwe and Derek Culver was held to a combined 11 points and 12 rebounds.
“The surprise was they shot it as well as they shot it from the perimeter,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, whose team has lost nine of 10 to the Jayhawks and never beaten them in nine tries at Allen Fieldhouse.
“They shot it very consistently, and everybody shot it from the perimeter,” Huggins said, “and when they missed they rebounded the long rebounds and we didn’t. They for whatever reason were a lot quicker to the ball than we were today.”
Kansas controlled the first period from the opening minute, when it took the lead, until the last, when McNeil hit a tightly guarded 3-pointer at the buzzer to cap a torrid half and give the Mountaineers a 36-35 advantage at the break.
That last shot made McNeil 7 of 7 from the field, 6 of 6 from behind the arc, and gave the junior forward 20 first-half points – four more than his career high. The rest of his teammates were 6 of 24 from the field and 1 of 6 from the 3-point line.
“I saw the first one go in,” McNeil said, “and it was a big confidence-builder from there.”
BUTLER MBB: GAME 5: BUTLER (1-3, 0-1 BIG EAST) VS. PROVIDENCE (5-2, 1-0 BIG EAST)
Wednesday, Dec. 23; 6PM
Hinkle Fieldhouse; Indianapolis, Ind.
TV: CBS Sports Network – Tom McCarthy & Steve Lappas
Radio: 1430AM – @MarkMinner & Nick Gardner (@n_gardner)
TuneIn Radio App, XM 387, SiriusXM Internet 977
@BUTLERMBB | #BUTLERWAY | BUTLERSPORTS.COM
The Bulldogs wrap up play prior to the holidays with a Wednesday night BIG EAST contest against Providence at Hinkle Fieldhouse. It concludes a stretch of four games in eight days for the Bulldogs, and is the first of two meetings between Butler and PC over the next eight days.
Butler is 1-3 on the young season and 0-1 in conference play. Providence is 5-2 and 1-0 after an overtime win over Seton Hall Sunday.
THE SERIES: Providence Leads, 12-4
Streak: Providence, W1
At Hinkle Fieldhouse: PC Leads, 5-2
LaVall Jordan (at BU) vs. PC: 2-5
First Meeting: PC, 65-56; 1/21/14 (at PC)
Last Meeting: PC, 65-61, 2/1/20 (at Hinkle)
Butler and Providence have met 16 times, all since the Bulldogs joined the BIG EAST prior to the 2013-14 season. The teams split two match-ups last season with each winning on the road. Butler used a 44-26 rebounding edge and limited PC to 32-percent shooting in a 70-58 win at Providence Jan. 10. Providence got 22 points from Luwane Pipkins to take a 65-61 win at Hinkle on Feb. 1. Aaron Thompson missed that match-up due to injury.
• Butler concludes a stretch of four games in eight days with Wednesday’s game against Providence.
• Providence is Butler’s opponent for its next two games as the teams will also meet a week later in Rhode Island.
• Butler utilized only eight players vs. Southern Illinois Monday; Aaron Thompson missed his second straight game with a sprained ligament in his right knee. He is questionable for the PC game.
• Freshman Chuck Harris posted career-highs of 22 points and six rebounds vs. SIU Monday.
• Bryce Nze had his first double-double of the season (and 11th of his career) with 14 points and 11 rebounds vs. SIU.
• For Nze, it was his second consecutive double-digit rebound performance and 18th of his career.
• Nze ranks third in the BIG EAST at 8.0 rebounds per game.
• Bryce Golden scored 17 points and matched a career-high with nine rebounds vs. SIU.
• Jair Bolden hit a career-best six three-pointers against Indiana Saturday, posting 20 points.
• Bolden’s average of 3.5 made three-pointers per game leads the BIG EAST and is 14th nationally.
• Butler’s .382 accuracy from three-point range is 51st nationally.
• After shooting 73 percent from the free throw line a season ago, Butler has shot only 63 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)
• 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.
LAST TIME OUT: Butler was able to erase almost all of an 18-point second-half deficit before falling 76-73 at home to Southern Illinois Monday night. The loss ended the nation’s longest streak of home wins against non-conference opponents at 59. The Bulldogs scored 49 points in the second half, keyed by 19 of freshman Chuck Harris’s career-high 22 points. Southern Illinois shot 55 percent from the field and committed only 10 turnovers. Uncharacteristic of Butler’s typically staunch defense, each of the Bulldogs’ last three opponents have shot 50 percent or better from the field.
YOUTH MOVEMENT: Four true freshmen are among the top eight Bulldogs in terms of minutes played through Butler’s first four games. Chuck Harris, Myles Tate and JaKobe Coles have each scored in double figures so far this season. 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 ‘FIRM LAW’ OF BRYCE AND BRYCE: Bryce Nze and Bryce Golden combined to go 12-of-18 from the field against Southern Illinois, one game after going a combined 6-of-24 against Indiana. Nze (14 points and 11 rebounds) posted his first double-double of the season, while Golden narrowly missed the first of his career (17 points and nine rebounds). The 17 points were one shy of his career-high, while he tied his high mark in rebounds (which was originally set at Providence, Jan. 10, 2020).
THE VETERAN: Graduate transfer Jair Bolden is off to a hot start in his Butler career. Bolden’s average of 3.5 three-pointers per game is 14th nationally, while his three-point percentage of 46.7 percent is third in the BIG EAST. Bolden is second on the team at 14.8 points per game.
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.
INDIANA WBB: No. 19 Indiana Hits The Road, Travels To Minnesota On Wednesday
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – No. 19 Indiana will hit the road for its Big Ten road opener on Wednesday afternoon at Minnesota. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network Plus.
#19/15 INDIANA (3-2, 1-0 B1G) AT MINNESOTA (1-3, 0-2 B1G)
Wednesday, December 23, 2020 • 2 p.m. ET
Williams Arena • Minneapolis, Minn.
ABOUT THE GOLDEN GOPHERS
Minnesota is looking to pick up its first Big Ten win and its second overall this season on Wednesday afternoon. It previously dropped league games to Michigan State and Northwestern. They are led by sophomore guard Jasmine Powell (18.5 ppg., 5.3 rebounds, 7.0 apg.) and redshirt sophomore Kadiatou Sissoko (15.0 ppg., 7.0 rpg.). As a team, the Gophers are averaging 64.3 points per game and shooting 37.4 percent from the floor.
Minnesota leads 37-33
2/22/20 – W, 75-69 (Minneapolis, Minn.)
- Indiana is coming off an 81-45 win over Nebraska to open conference play on Sunday. They were led by a pair of double-doubles from junior forward Aleksa Gulbe and freshman forward Kiandra Browne. It marked the first time an IU duo has recorded double-doubles in the same game since Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill did it against Illinois on Feb. 25, 2017.
- Four players average double figures behind sophomore forward Mackenzie Holmes.
- A staple of a Teri Moren team is defense and the Hoosiers are living up to that expectation this season. They are currently leading the Big Ten and 13th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 52.0 points per game through five games.
- The Hoosiers look to increase their win streak in the series with Minnesota on Wednesday, having won the last three meetings and six of the last seven overall dating back to 2016.
- IU came in at No. 19 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll, its 24th-straight week in the national poll.
Indiana will close out the 2020 calendar year at home against Illinois on New Year’s Eve. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. ET inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall and on Big Ten Network Plus.
PIERCE AND COLLINS HIGHLIGHT NOMINEES FOR HOF
Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce and longtime player, coach and broadcaster Doug Collins lead the first-time nominees announced Tuesday for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2021.
Also making their debut as candidates are Michael Cooper, Howard Garfinkel, Lou Henson, Val Ackerman, Yolanda Griffith and Lauren Jackson. Finalists are scheduled to be announced in early March – in the timeframe of NBA All-Star weekend, the Hall of Fame said, though it’s unclear if an actual All-Star event will take place – and those elected would be unveiled in early April, at the NCAA Final Four, if that happens as planned.
Other returnees to the ballot, the Hall said, include Chauncey Billups, Chris Bosh, Richard Hamilton, Bob Huggins, Ben Wallace, Chris Webber, Jay Wright, Swin Cash and Becky Hammon.
The Class of 2021 Enshrinement ceremony is scheduled to take place in Springfield next September. The Class of 2020 ceremony, headlined by Lakers star Kobe Bryant, was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and has been rescheduled for May 13-15 in Uncasville, Conn.
NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL
Eichenberg Tabbed as Finalist for Outland Trophy
NOTRE DAME, Indiana — On the heels of his selection as winner of the ACC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy for the top blocker in the conference, Notre Dame graduate student offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg has been named one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy, which honors the nation’s top interior offensive lineman.
Eichenberg, who took home the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the ACC’s top offensive lineman, is Notre Dame’s first finalist since Quenton Nelson in 2017. Three Notre Dame student-athletes have won the Outland Trophy: defensive end Ross Browner (1976), guard Bill Fischer (1948) and tackle George Connor (1946).
With 38-career starts, Eichenberg ties for the most on Notre Dame’s offensive line, and has also earned an AP All-ACC first team selection. The Fighting Irish lead the ACC and rank eighth in the FBS in time of possession, controlling the ball for 33:57 minutes of game time. Behind its powerful offensive line, which has been named a finalist for the Joe Moore Award, Notre Dame won the time of possession battle in 10-of-11 games this season. The 33:57 time of possession average leads the ACC by more than two minutes per game.
On the game’s biggest downs, the Notre Dame offensive line shines its brightest, helping move the chains at a high level on third down. The Irish lead the ACC and rank ninth in the FBS in third down conversion percentage with a remarkable 49.3 success rate.
Eichenberg has twice been honored as ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week, joining three other Irish O-Lineman who earned the distinction. Out of 10 regular season games, the Irish offensive line has been honored following five games..
The Notre Dame offensive line has paved the way for a 1,000 yard rusher in redshirt freshman Kyren Williams, who has collected 1,061 rushing yards through 11 games. Additionally, Notre Dame had two other players rush for 400+ yards in freshman running back Chris Tyree with 480 yards and graduate student quarterback Ian Book with 430 yards. As a unit, the Irish rank third in the ACC and 21st nationally in rushing offense (217.6 ypg).
NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL
Kelly Selected As Bear Bryant ACC Coach of the Year, National Award Finalist
NOTRE DAME, Indiana — After the third undefeated regular season in his 11-year Irish tenure, Dick Corbett Head Football Coach Brian Kelly has been named ACC Coach of the Year by the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award, as well as being selected as a finalist for the national 2020 Bryant Award.
The Paul “Bear” Bryant Award annually recognizes the country’s top college football coaches for their contributions both on and off the field, making the sport better for athletes and fans alike by demonstrating grit, integrity and a winning approach to coaching and life.
In his 30th season as a collegiate head coach in 2020 and 11th year at the University of Notre Dame, Dick Corbett Head Football Coach Brian Kelly owns the second-most wins (102ˆ) among all head coaches in Notre Dame’s history, second only to Knute Rocke (105), and Kelly is the winningest active coach in the FBS with 273ˆ career wins.
With 10 or more wins in 2012ˆ, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, Kelly is the only Notre Dame coach to hit the double-digit mark in wins six times. He was named AP ACC Coach of the Year in 2020, and is the only three-time winner of the Home Depot Coach of the Year Award (’09, ’12, ’18).
In 2020, he notched his first win over an AP No. 1 team with the 47-40 win over Clemson (Nov. 7, 2020). With the 52-0 shoutout of South Florida, he became the third coach in Notre Dame history with three or more wins of at least 25 points over ranked teams, joining Lou Holtz and Frank Leahy (eight).
He joins Knute Rockne (13), Leahy, Ara Parseghian and Holtz (11) as the only Notre Dame coaches to spend 11 or more seasons on the Irish sidelines. He ranks second in winning percentage among active FBS coaches (.741ˆ) who have coached in 300 or more career games (Nick Saban – .795). He has finished .500 or better in 28-of-30 seasons as a head coach.
The winner of the Bryant Award will be announced on January 13, 2021.
NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL
Owusu-Koramoah Selected as Bednarik Finalist
NOTRE DAME, Indiana — Coming off his selection as the winner of the 2020 Butkus Award, Notre Dame senior linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah has been named a finalist for the 26th Chuck Bednarik Award for the Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year.
The ACC Defensive Player of the Year according to the Associated Press, Owusu-Koramoah has totaled 56 tackles in 2020, which leads the Irish, also leading the team with 11.0 tackles-for-loss. He has been responsible for forcing multiple turnovers, including an interception, two fumble recoveries (one returned for a touchdown) and three forced fumbles this season. He has added three PBU.
Against Syracuse, Owusu-Koramoah noted five tackles, 0.5 TFL, one FF, one FR and two pass breakups. He forced a fumble on the opening drive of the first half for his third forced fumble of the season (fifth of his career). He recovered another fumble, forced by the Irish, for his second FR of the season and fourth of his career, which led to a Notre Dame touchdown drive.
His first-career interception came at Pitt, setting up a Notre Dame touchdown drive. In the win over then-No. 1 Clemson, Owusu-Koramoah posted nine tackles (seven solo), 0.5 sack, 2.0 TFL, one forced fumble and the fumble recovery touchdown, which was the first score of his career. Three plays later, he forced a Clemson fumble, which was also recovered by the Irish. For his performance, he was named player of the week for the Nagurski Trophy and Bednarik Award, and ACC Linebacker of the Week.
Owusu-Koramoah ranks ninth among all FBS players with two fumble recoveries this season. He ranks tied for fifth among all ACC players in forced fumbles (0.3 per game).
To add to his resume, Owusu-Koramoah is also finalist for the Nagurski Trophy and semifinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy.
BOISE STATE TO LOSE COACH TO AUBURN
Auburn hired Boise State’s Bryan Harsin as its head coach on Tuesday, luring him away from his alma mater and into the powerful Southeastern Conference.
The 44-year-old Harsin is 69-19 with three Mountain West titles in seven seasons at Boise State, but winning in the SEC affords greater chances for playoff berths and national titles.
The Auburn job is also sure to bring a major pay raise, though contract details for Harsin weren’t immediately available.
“I’m incredibly excited and humbled for the opportunity to be at a place like Auburn University,” Harsin said in a statement. “I knew it would take a special opportunity to get me out of Boise and Auburn is exactly that, the chance to compete at the highest level for one of the greatest programs in college football.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for the coaches and players in the Southeastern Conference, but am ready to help build a foundation at Auburn where we can consistently compete for championships.”
That has been easier said than done in the brutal SEC West, presided over by in-state rival Alabama.
Auburn fired Gus Malzahn earlier this month after he went 6-4 in his eighth season – a move that cost the school more than $21 million to buy out the former coach’s contract.
Auburn has been an up-and-down program, winning the national championship under Gene Chizik before going on a rapid decline.
The Tigers turned to Malzahn, the offensive coordinator for that Cam Newton-led team. Malzahn led Auburn to the Southeastern Conference championship and into the national championship game in his first season, 2013. But the Tigers have lost at least four games in each of the seven seasons since.
Meanwhile, Auburn’s chief rivals have thrived. Alabama has been a perennial contender and Georgia has also emerged as a national power, making it even harder for Auburn to make headway on the field and on the recruiting trail.
The Tigers sought out their next coach from more than 2,100 miles away.
“He’s a proven winner whose record speaks for itself,” Auburn athletic director Allen Greene said. “Coach Harsin impressed me with his detailed plan to lead Auburn to consistently compete for championships in the Southeastern Conference.”
Harsin also replaced Malzahn at Arkansas State in 2013, winning a share of the Sun Belt Conference title in his lone season before returning to his alma mater.
His name was scarcely mentioned as reports cycled between potential candidates, from Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian to Oregon’s Mario Cristobal, Louisiana’s Billy Napier and UAB’s Bill Clark.
“Our search was diligent and thoughtful, and it is unfortunate that so much misinformation was spread in recent days about the process,” Auburn President Jay Gogue said, though it wasn’t clear precisely what he was referring to.
BYU ROUTS CENTERAL FLORIDA
The NFL will have to wait for BYU’s Zach Wilson – for a few days, at least.
Wilson threw for 425 yards with three touchdown passes and two rushing scores as No. 13 BYU routed UCF 49-23 in the Boca Raton Bowl on Tuesday night.
Wilson, considered a top prospect, completed 26 of 34 passes in what might be his final college game.
“I don’t know yet,” Wilson said when asked about his plans. “I’m probably going to enjoy the Christmas break and discuss with coaches, discuss with my family and figure out what’s best. Obviously, (a decision) probably has to be before the new year.”
The Cougars (11-1) led 35-10 at halftime and finished with 655 yards of offense to UCF’s 411.
Tyler Allgeier carried 19 times for 177 yards and a score. Isaac Rex had five catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns as BYU earned its first victory in nine games it has played in the Sunshine State.
“The excitement we had to play this game was special,” Wilson said. “Just looking around and soaking it all in was the coolest part.”
Dillon Gabriel was 21 of 45 for 217 yards and two TDs for the Knights (6-4). He had a stretch of nine straight incompletions bridging the second and third quarters.
BYU dominated the first half, outgaining UCF 434 yards to 227 despite running 11 fewer plays.
The Cougars led 14-0 less than four minutes into the game after scoring on its first two drives, each more than 70 yards and less than 1:50 in duration.
“If they can score, I really don’t care how much time they burn on the clock,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “We have to play a certain style of defense that will match that and complement what our offense is going to do.”
Wilson finished the first drive by running 15 yards on a quarterback draw. On BYU’s next possession, he hit Rex for a 36-yard TD pass on a reverse flea-flicker.
Wilson ran 4 yards to make it 21-0 with 25 seconds left in the first quarter. It was another long (76 yards) but quick (1:42) drive.
UCF defensive back Divaad Wilson was penalized for targeting late in the first quarter and was disqualified.
After UCF scored early in the second quarter, Wilson threw two more TD passes. He connected with wide-open tight end Isaac Rex from 27 yards out, and his third scoring pass of the half was a 35-yard strike to Neil Pau’u with 3:31 remaining to make it 35-7.
“He’s a great player, that’s why he’s viewed the way he is by the NFL,” UCF coach Josh Heupel said.
NEVADA DEFEATS TULANE IN POTATO BOWL
Nevada coach Jay Norvell had plenty of reasons to be emotional as he challenged his team before it took the field in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. And his players responded.
Carson Strong threw for 271 yards and five touchdowns, Devonte Lee and Toa Taua each rushed for over 100 yards, and Nevada’s defense recorded eight sacks for the first time in 17 years as the Wolf Pack beat Tulane 38-27 on Tuesday.
Nevada (7-2) finished 2020 the same way it started the year – by playing in the same bowl game, which the Wolf Pack lost 30-21 to Ohio on Jan. 3.
That game was also the last time Norvell saw his father, Merritt Norvell, in person before the coronavirus pandemic reached the U.S. and prevented them from seeing each other. Merritt died in October.
“As I was getting ready for this game, I realized that this was the last time I saw my father alive,” Norvell said. “It was at this bowl game. It was emotional today. But I was proud of how we stepped up to the challenge of the game and executed phenomenally in a lot of the situations that we had to.”
Nevada got stuffed at the goal line on its first possession and turned the ball over on downs. Then the Wolf Pack defense got things rolling with an interception by Christian Swint. Two plays later, Strong hit Turner for an 11-yard touchdown, the first of three quick scores for Nevada.
“We needed to score early to put pressure on them,” Norvell said. “And I’m really happy and satisfied with what our guys did. We talked about playing our best football game and a lot of ways we did that.”
Nevada was coming off a loss in its regular-season finale to San Jose State, which cost the Wolf Pack a spot in the Mountain West title game.
“Last game out still stings us little bit because we felt like we had a good enough team to win a championship,” said Strong, who garnered MVP honors with a Potato Bowl record-tying five touchdown passes. “But at least you can go home with a smile on your face now. I’m glad we could come back here and redeem ourselves.”
Cameron Carroll rushed for 120 yards – more than half on a meaningless late touchdown – for Tulane (6-6), which was one of 19 schools to play 11 regular-season games amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Green Wave failed in their bid to win three consecutive bowl games for the first time in program history.
BOWL GAME CANCELLED
The Gasparilla Bowl was canceled Tuesday after South Carolina withdrew because of COVID-19 issues within the program.
Gasparilla Bowl executive director Scott Glaser said organizers tried to find an opponent for UAB for Saturday’s game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, but came up empty.
“The current environment has presented many challenges,” Glaser said.
The Gamecocks, who finished 2-8, opted out due to positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing within the program.
“Until next year, Blazer Nation!” UAB football tweeted shortly after ESPN Events’ called off the game.
The decision also closes the books on one of the more forgettable South Carolina seasons in recent years.
The school fired coach Will Muschamp in November and ended its all-Southeastern Conference schedule with six straight losses. Former Oklahoma assistant Shane Beamer, the son of ex-Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, was hired earlier this month to take over the program.
The younger Beamer had hoped a final game might give the team something to build on heading into the offseason.
Athletic director Ray Tanner said the team was excited about playing UAB in a bowl game. However, the positive tests among staffers and players and subsequent contact tracing “had taken a toll too high for us to overcome,” he said.
UAB (6-3) won its second consecutive Conference USA championship over the weekend.
The Gasparilla Bowl becomes the 17th bowl to be canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Liberty Bowl lost Tennessee earlier this week, and Army stepped in for the matchup with West Virginia.
Bowl season began Monday when Appalachian State’s Camerun Peoples ran for an FBS bowl record 317 yards and matched another mark with five touchdowns in a 56-28 win over North Texas in the Myrtle Beach Bowl.
MAXWELL FINALISTS ANNOUNCED
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Alabama stars Mac Jones and DeVonta Smith are the finalists for the Maxwell Award given to college football’s top player.
The finalists for nine college football awards were announced Tuesday, including those honoring the top defensive player, quarterback and running back.
The winners will be announced Jan. 7 during ESPN’s college football awards show. Lawrence and Jones are also finalists for Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award, along with Florida’s Kyle Trask.
Smith is also up for the Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the outstanding receiver. Florida’s Kyle Pitts is the first tight end to be a Biletnikoff finalist, and Mississippi’s Elijah Moore made it three for three finalists from the Southeastern Conference.
Other awards and finalists:
Chuck Bednarik Award (top defensive player) – Zaven Collins, linebacker, Tulsa; Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, linebacker, Notre Dame; Patrick Surtain II, cornerback, Alabama.
Outland Trophy (top interior lineman) – Liam Eichenberg, tackle, Notre Dame; Alex Leatherwood, tackle, Alabama; Daviyon Nixon, defensive tackle, Iowa.
Jim Thorpe Award (top defensive back) – Richie Grant, safety, UCF; Trevon Moehrig, safety, TCU; Patrick Surtain II, cornerback, Alabama.
Doak Walker Award (top running back) – Travis Etienne, Clemson; Breece Hall, Iowa State; Najee Harris, Alabama.
Ray Guy Award (top punter) – Jake Camarada, Georgia; Pressley Harvin Jr., Georgia Tech; Lou Hedley, Miami.
Lou Groza Award (top kicker) – Jose Borregales, Miami; Jake Oldroyd, BYU; Will Reichard, Alabama.
SEC NAMES SMITH OFFEENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Southeastern Conference coaches have chosen Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith as offensive player of the year over two fellow Heisman Trophy candidates.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide dominated the awards and All-SEC teams released on Tuesday. Cornerback Patrick Surtain II was defensive player of the year and Nick Saban was named coach of the year.
Tide teammates Alex Leatherwood and Landon Dickerson shared the Jacobs Blocking Trophy.
Smith was chosen as top offensive player over candidates including Alabama quarterback Mac Jones and Florida quarterback Kyle Trask. All three are among the top Heisman contenders.
Georgia punter Jake Camarda is special teams player of the year. Auburn tailback Tank Bigsby and Missouri quarterback Connor Bazelak are co-freshmen of the year.
Jones was named the top scholar-athlete and first-team All-SEC quarterback.
Alabama had nine first-team All-SEC selections while Florida, Georgia and Missouri had three each.
The league’s coaches aren’t allowed to vote for their own players.
FLORIDA SANCTIONED BY NCAA
Florida received a year of probation and football coach Dan Mullen was sanctioned Tuesday after the school and the NCAA agreed to resolve an infractions case involving impermissible contact with recruits last year.
None of the infractions was deemed Level I, the most serious, but the NCAA said the head coach did not promote an atmosphere of compliance. It did not name Mullen, who has been Florida’s coach since 2018.
Many of the penalties, including reduced evaluation days and number of permissible phones calls to recruits, were implemented earlier this year.
“There is no evidence of systemic compliance issues at Florida, but when isolated circumstances occur they are addressed head on and we accept responsibility for our actions, as evidenced by this instance,” athletic director Scott Stricklin said. “It is important for our coaches and staff to remain diligent and take responsibility for compliance, and extricate themselves from potential NCAA violations.”
The case went through negotiated resolution, used when the school, individuals involved and NCAA enforcement staff agree on the violations and penalties. In this case, the group agreed infractions occurred between January and March of 2019.
The unidentified assistant coach and Mullen had impermissible in-person contact with a prospect at the prospect’s high school in Seattle, according to the report. The prospect had not yet completed his junior year, making it a Level II violation.
“Following the rules and being committed to doing things the right way is part of my history as a coach, at all levels, and I regret we didn’t do things the right way in this situation,” Mullen said in a statement. “Even though this is an isolated matter, I’m still disappointed in the violations outlined in the report. We’re going to learn from our mistakes and I’m confident this won’t happen again.”
Members of the Florida coaching staff also had impermissible contact with more than 100 prospects from “seven non-scholastic football teams” when they made an unofficial visit to Florida’s campus and toured the football facility on their way to a tournament in Tampa. The was deemed a Level III violation.
Mullen was hit with a one-year show cause order, during which he was prohibited from all off-campus recruiting activity this past fall. Because of the pandemic, the NCAA restricted off-campus recruiting for most of this year. Those restrictions will run through the end of the current school year.
Mullen also received a four-day, off-campus recruiting ban for fall 2021. Florida has banned Mullen from recruiting for the first 10 days of January.
Florida ended the recruitment of the prospect involved at the Seattle high school and will not recruit any prospects from the high school through the 2020-21 academic year.
AIR FORCE-ARMY GAME MOVED TO 9/11 NEXT YEAR
Next year’s game between service-academy rivals Air Force and Navy has been moved to Sept. 11 in recognition of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the academies announced Tuesday.
The game was originally scheduled for Oct. 2.
“We will use this nationally televised opportunity to reflect on the meaning of our freedom and the competitive spirit of our nation,” Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said in a statement. “Two service academies coming together to display our strength of unity and our determination to forever persevere.”
Air Force athletic director Nathan Pine called it “an appropriate move for our country.”
“The game will be a fitting way to showcase the amazing future leaders of character from both academies on national television on this solemn anniversary,” Pine said.
It will mark just the third time the two schools have played in September and the earliest they have ever met. They normally meet the first Saturday in October.
HASKINS APOLOGIZES FOR MASK-LESS PARTY
Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins publicly apologized Tuesday after photo evidence came to light of him partying with several people unmasked after playing Sunday.
Haskins said on Twitter he spoke with coach Ron Rivera and took full responsibility for putting the team at risk during the pandemic.
“It was irresponsible and immature of me and I accept responsibility for my action,” Haskins said. “I also want to apologize for creating a distraction for my team during our playoff push. I will learn and grow from this and do what’s best for the team moving forward.”
The team is aware of the situation and said it’s handling it internally. There was no immediate word whether Haskins would be fined or suspended for violating COVID-19 protocols. The team fined him earlier this season for a separate violation while on the road.
Haskins started Sunday for the first time since early October and threw two interceptions and a touchdown in a 20-15 loss to Seattle. It’s unclear if he’ll play in Washington’s next game against the Carolina Panthers that could be the NFC East clincher, though Rivera called Alex Smith the starter if healthy.
Rivera benched the 2019 first-round pick after four games this season because he felt the offense was better off in experienced hands. He turned first to Kyle Allen, then to Smith when Allen was injured.
Haskins got the start against Seattle essentially by default as the last healthy quarterback on the roster. He threw two interceptions in the first two-plus quarters before leading a comeback attempt that fell short.
LIONS CLOSE FACILITY
The Detroit Lions have closed their training facility after two people within the franchise tested positive for COVID-19.
The Lions say players and coaches will have virtual meetings Tuesday.
Detroit is scheduled to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who can clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win, on Saturday at Ford Field.
NFL CONFIRMS 14 COVID POSITIVE PLAYERS
The NFL said Tuesday that there were 14 confirmed positives among players and 31 new confirmed positives among other personnel in the league’s latest round of testing for the novel coronavirus.
In all, 16,222 COVID-19 tests were administered over a seven-day period ending last Saturday to 2,391 players, and 25,279 tests were administered to 4,536 personnel.
That brings the totals since testing began Aug. 1 to 201 players and 359 other personnel as confirmed positive cases out of more than 840,000 tests.
Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 are immediately isolated and not permitted access to club facilities or direct contact with players or personnel. Club medical staff are in regular communication with those who test positive to monitor symptoms.
NFL PREVIEW WEEK 16
With four straight days of football, a Christmas Day contest, a Saturday tripleheader and two clashes of teams with 10-or-more wins – including a Sunday night showdown on the Frozen Tundra – the NFL’s stockings are full entering Week 16.
CHRISTMAS DAY GAMES: The MINNESOTA VIKINGS (6-8) and NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (10-4) kick off Week 16 with a Christmas Day game on Friday (4:30 PM, FOX/NFLN/Amazon). The Saints will clinch a fourth consecutive NFC South title with a win. Including the postseason, this will be the 22nd game played on Christmas Day since the 1970 league merger. That list includes the longest game in NFL history, Dec. 25, 1971, when Miami defeated Kansas City, 27-24, in double overtime to advance in the AFC playoffs.
- Minnesota wide receiver JUSTIN 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).
COMEBACK BUCS, BRADY KICK OFF SATURDAY TRIPLEHEADER: The TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (9-5) and DETROIT LIONS (5-9) play the first of three Saturday games this week (1:00 PM ET, NFLN). Tampa Bay can clinch its first playoff berth since 2007 with a win.
- Buccaneers quarterback TOM BRADY is expected to start his 298th regular-season game and tie the NFL record held by Pro Football Hall of Famer BRETT FAVRE, who made 298 starts from 1991-2010. Saturday also will mark the 300th regular-season game in Brady’s career, making him the 12th player ever to reach that milestone.
- Last week, Brady passed for 390 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 110.4 rating. He now 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.
- The Buccaneers overcame a 17-point deficit to win last week. It marked the fourth time this season Tampa Bay has come back from a deficit of at least 10 points, tied with the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (four comebacks of 10-or-more points) for most in the NFL.
- Throughout the NFL this season, there have been 40 games in which a team has overcome a deficit of at least 10 points to win, the most through Week 15 in league history.
- There also have been 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.
FROM LAST PLACE TO THE PLAYOFFS: In 15 of the previous 17 seasons (2003-19), at least one NFL team has made the leap from last or tied for last in its division to the playoffs the following season. Six teams have done it over the last three seasons, including the 2017 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES, who won Super Bowl LII after finishing last in the NFC East in 2016. This season, three teams are vying to join that group: the ARIZONA CARDINALS (8-6), MIAMI DOLPHINS (9-5) and WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (6-8).
- Washington, which hosts Carolina on Sunday (4:05 PM ET, CBS), can clinch its first division title and playoff berth since 2015 with a win and a Giants loss or tie.
- The Cardinals, who will clinch their first playoff berth since 2015 with a win and a Chicago loss or tie, host San Francisco in the second of three games on Saturday (4:30 PM ET, Amazon).
- Last week, quarterback KYLER MURRAY passed for 406 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for a 127.8 rating and added a rushing touchdown.
- 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, joined CAM NEWTON (2015) as the only quarterbacks with at least 25 touchdown passes and 10 rushing touchdowns in a single season in NFL history.
SIX TEAMS VYING FOR FOUR BERTHS IN AFC: Six AFC teams – the BALTIMORE RAVENS (9-5), CLEVELAND BROWNS (10-4), INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (10-4), LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (7-7), MIAMI DOLPHINS (9-5) and TENNESSEE TITANS (10-4) – are battling for the final four playoff berths in the conference. One of those spots will go to the AFC South winner, either the Colts or Titans.
- Miami is in Las Vegas on Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, NFLN) for a key AFC tilt. If the Dolphins can secure a playoff berth, Miami will have gone from last place in its division the previous year to the postseason.
COLTS-STEELERS CLASH IN STEEL CITY: With a win and a loss by Miami or Baltimore, the INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (10-4) can cement a spot in the AFC playoffs when they meet the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (11-3) on Sunday at Heinz Field (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Pittsburgh, meanwhile, can clinch its first AFC North division title since 2017 with a win over the Colts.
- The game is one of two involving teams with 10-or-more wins on the NFL’s Week 16 docket, preceding the Sunday night battle between Tennessee and Green Bay.
- In four of the past six seasons (2014-19), a similar matchup involving teams with 10-or-more wins in Week 16 or later has produced an eventual Super Bowl team. The 2019 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS, 2016 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, 2015 DENVER BRONCOS and 2014 SEATTLE SEAHAWKS each vaulted to the Super Bowl after a late-season showdown against an opponent with at least 10 wins.
- This week, both Pittsburgh and the WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (vs. Carolina on Sunday, 4:05 PM ET, CBS) can clinch divisions after missing the playoffs last season.
- At least two NFL teams have won their divisions the season after missing the playoffs in 16 of the past 17 years.
SUNDAY NIGHT SHOWDOWN AT LAMBEAU: In an interconference battle of first-place teams, the TENNESSEE TITANS (10-4) head north to meet the GREEN BAY PACKERS (11-3) on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC).
- The Titans can clinch a playoff berth with a win, a Miami loss Saturday or a Baltimore loss earlier in the day on Sunday. Tennessee can capture its first AFC South division title since 2008 with a win and a Colts loss.
- Green Bay can nail down the NFC’s No. 1 seed and the conference’s only first-round bye with a win combined with a Seattle loss or tie.
- Tennessee has generated at least 30 points and 420-or-more yards of total offense in five consecutive games. The Titans are one of five teams in history with such a streak. If Tennessee reaches each of those marks on Sunday night, Tennessee will become the first team in history with at least 30 points and 420-or-more yards of total offense in six consecutive games.
- Titans running back DERRICK HENRY has recorded at least 100 rushing yards in nine consecutive road games, the second-longest streak in NFL history. With 100 rushing yards on Sunday night, he will match the NFL record held by Pro Football Hall of Famer BARRY SANDERS (10 consecutive games from 1996-97).
- 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 joined 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.
- Last week, Tennessee quarterback RYAN TANNEHILL became 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 (Dec. 4, 1960) and MICHAEL VICK (Nov. 15, 2010).
- Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS leads the league with 40 touchdown passes and a 118.0 passer rating (minimum 100 attempts). Rodgers has 3,828 passing yards in 2020 and needs 172 to reach 4,000 in a season for the ninth time in his career. Last week, Rodgers became the first player in NFL history with three seasons of at least 40 touchdown passes. He also reached the mark in 2016 (40 touchdown passes) and his MVP-winning 2011 season (45).
- Packers wide receiver DAVANTE ADAMS enters Week 16 with 98 receptions for 1,186 yards and ranks second in the league with 14 touchdown receptions. On Sunday night, he can become the sixth player with at least 100 receptions, 1,200 receiving yards and 15 touchdown receptions in a single season in NFL history.
CHIEFS AMONG TOP DEFENDING SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS: The KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (13-1) can secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs and the lone first-round bye with a win against the ATLANTA FALCONS (4-10) at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX). Kansas City is seeking to match the best regular season by a defending Super Bowl champion in NFL history.
The defending Super Bowl champions with the best regular-season winning percentages in NFL history:
- Chiefs quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES passed for 254 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 92.0 rating last week. Mahomes has 21 career games with at least three touchdown passes, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER (21) 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) has more.
- Kansas City tight end TRAVIS KELCE ranks second in the NFL with 1,318 receiving yards. The first tight end with at least 1,200 receiving yards in three seasons in NFL history, Kelce needs 60 receiving yards on Sunday to surpass GEORGE KITTLE (1,377 receiving yards in 2018) for the most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season in NFL history.
- 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.
RESOUNDING ROOKIE: When the JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (1-13) host the CHICAGO BEARS (7-7) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS), running back JAMES ROBINSON has an opportunity to make further history.
- Robinson, who has 10 touchdowns (seven rushing, three receiving), needs one more to establish the most by an undrafted rookie in the common-draft era. He’s currently tied with PHILLIP LINDSAY (10 in 2018) and DOMINIC RHODES (10 in 2001).
- Robinson already has 1,414 yards from scrimmage, the most by an undrafted rookie in the common-draft era, having surpassed Rhodes (1,328 in 2001) and Lindsay (1,278 in 2018).
ALLEN, BILLS CLOSE WEEK 16 ON MONDAY NIGHT: The BUFFALO BILLS (11-3), who’ve clinched the AFC East division title for the first time since 1995, travel to Gillette Stadium to meet the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (6-8) in the season’s final Monday Night Football contest (8:15 PM ET, ESPN).
- Last week, Bills quarterback JOSH ALLEN became the first quarterback in NFL history with at least eight rushing touchdowns in three consecutive seasons.
- Bills wide receiver STEFON DIGGS leads the NFL with a franchise-record 111 receptions and ranks third in the league with 1,314 receiving yards.
- This season, 13 Buffalo players have caught at least one touchdown pass, tied for the most in NFL history.
WEEK 16 NFL SCHEDULE
FRIDAY-MONDAY, DECEMBER 25-28
(All times Eastern)
|Friday, December 25|
|Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints||4:30 PM||FOX/NFLN/Amazon|
|Saturday, December 26|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions||1:00 PM||NFLN|
|San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals||4:30 PM||Amazon|
|Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders||8:15 PM||NFLN|
|Sunday, December 27|
|New York Giants at Baltimore Ravens||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Chicago Bears at Jacksonville Jaguars||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Atlanta Falcons at Kansas City Chiefs||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Cleveland Browns at New York Jets||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers||4:05 PM||CBS|
|Carolina Panthers at Washington Football Team||4:05 PM||CBS|
|Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys||4:25 PM||FOX|
|Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks||4:25 PM||FOX|
|Tennessee Titans at Green Bay Packers||8:20 PM||NBC|
|Monday, December 28|
|Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots||8:15 PM||ESPN|
JOHNSON RELEASED FROM HOSPITAL
Florida forward Keyontae Johnson is being released from the hospital Tuesday, 10 days after collapsing on the court at Florida State and needing emergency medical attention.
The school released a statement from his family saying, “We continue to be amazed at the pace of his recovery and look forward to spending Christmas together as a family.”
The family added that it will share “any information we think could help others” regarding the cause and extent of Johnson’s illness.
Kentucky’s John Calipari is one of many coaches in college basketball who have said they would like to know if Johnson’s collapse was related to his positive COVID-19 test months earlier.
“As much as everyone involved wants firm answers, the process to draw definitive conclusions continues, and we ask for patience as the medical professionals continue their work,” the family said.
Johnson crumpled to the floor coming out of a timeout on Dec. 12. He was moved to a stretcher and carried to a waiting ambulance as teammates, coaches, staff, fans and others watched in disbelief.
ESPN declined to show video of the incident. Witnesses said Johnson was standing near midcourt and suddenly fell forward and landed on his face.
He spent two nights at Tallahassee Memorial before being transferred to Gainesville via helicopter with his mother by his side.
Like many of his Florida teammates, Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 during the summer. Although the cause of Johnson’s collapse has not been revealed, the coronavirus can lead to myocarditis, a viral infection of the heart muscle. At its most severe, myocarditis can lead to sudden cardiac arrest and has been a documented cause of death for young, otherwise healthy athletes.
The SEC mandates strict protocols, including rigorous heart testing, before players can be cleared to return to play following positive COVID-19 tests.
Florida has postponed four basketball games since Johnson’s collapse. The team is next scheduled to next play on Dec. 30 at Vanderbilt in the SEC opener for both schools.
NETS ROUT WARRIORS ON OPENING NIGHT
Kevin Durant shook off 18 months of rust in a matter of minutes.
Durant looked good as new against his old team, Kyrie Irving was even better and the Brooklyn Nets emphatically kicked off the Steve Nash era with a 125-99 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night in the NBA’s season opener.
Durant finished with 22 points in 25 minutes of his first official game since rupturing his Achilles tendon while playing for Golden State in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals. It’s a new start for Durant, but he did the same things he’s been doing for years.
“I tried not to make too big a deal out of this whole thing and realize I’ve been playing this game since I was 8 years old, so just got to revert back to what I know,” Durant said.
Irving led Brooklyn with 26 points and Caris LeVert scored 20 as the Nets led by as many as 38, pouring on the points the way the Phoenix Suns did when Nash was their point guard, or more recently Golden State did when Durant was their All-Star forward.
The Nets made the playoffs last season but now are expected to contend for the Eastern Conference title after finally getting Durant and Irving on the court together. They used the first game of the shortened, 72-game season to prove they might be worth the hype.
“I think our goals are a lot higher this year and we just want to be able to come in and dominate and do that consistently,” Irving said.
Stephen Curry had 20 points and 10 assists for the Warriors, a depleted team that looks nothing like the powerhouse that won two titles in Durant’s three seasons there.
Durant left shortly after having surgery following his injury and was expected to sit out the entire 2019-20 season even before it was suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Teammates who have worked out with him said the four-time scoring champion was back in top form and Durant quickly backed up their boasts in a mostly empty Barclays Center.
THE BATTLE OF LA GOES TO THE CLIPPERS
Paul George scored 26 of his 33 points in the second half, Kawhi Leonard added 26 points and the Los Angeles Clippers rallied past the Los Angeles Lakers on the NBA champions’ ring ceremony night for a 116-109 victory Tuesday.
George went 13 of 18 with five 3-pointers in an outstanding first game since agreeing to add four years and $190 million to his contract with the Clippers, who never trailed in the latest meeting of Southern California’s two NBA powerhouses. The Clippers beat the Lakers in the season opener for the second straight year while winning coach Tyronn Lue’s debut.
LeBron James scored 22 points and Anthony Davis had 18 for the Lakers just 72 days after they finished off the Miami Heat in the NBA bubble.
The Lakers returned from the shortest offseason in league history and received their championship rings honoring the franchise’s 17th title, but they couldn’t keep up with George and Leonard down the stretch.
The pregame ceremony was brief and strange without cheering fans, but the 11 returning players eagerly picked up their massive new pieces of jewelry. Lakers owner Jeanie Buss promised to hold another celebration when fans are allowed back into games.
Serge Ibaka scored 15 points in his debut for the Clippers, who hadn’t played since blowing a 3-1 playoff series lead to Denver and ruining a much-anticipated conference final showdown with the waiting Lakers in the bubble.
The collapse led to coach Doc Rivers’ departure, and Lue moved down the bench to take over a star-studded team with several new additions. Nicolas Batum had three points and six assists in 28 minutes, while new $64 million swingman Luke Kennard had four points in 21 minutes off the bench.
Montrezl Harrell had 17 points and 10 rebounds in a strong debut after moving down the hallway from the Clippers to the Lakers last month. Dennis Schroder also had 14 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in an impressive Lakers debut.
The Lakers fell behind by 22 points under a ring hangover in the first quarter, but they erased all but two points of the deficit in the second. The Clippers pulled away late in the third, and George dropped 11 points in the fourth to seal it.
THE LAKERS RECEIVE CHAMPIONSHIP RINGS
The Los Angeles Lakers received their NBA championship rings Tuesday night in an empty arena that still felt filled with warmth from their families, friends and millions of fans worldwide.
And while they put the blindingly brilliant jewelry on their fingers, the Lakers promised to hold a real party for their 17th championship as soon as everyone can attend.
“I’m going to take a second to speak directly to Lakers fans: We miss you so much,” Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said. “The team misses you, but someday soon, we’ll be together. And when we are together, we have something special to celebrate.”
Just 72 days after LeBron James, Anthony Davis and their teammates finished off the Miami Heat in the NBA bubble, the Lakers returned from the shortest offseason in league history to get their reward. The coaches, executives and 11 returning players from last season’s championship team received their rings at Staples Center in a brief, warm ceremony before their regular season opener against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The raising of the banner honoring their 17th championship is going to wait until fans are in Staples Center to enjoy it with them. The spot where it will hang eventually on the arena walls is currently occupied by a black banner reading: “STAY TUNED, LAKERS FAMILY.”
The ring presentations observed social distancing measures that seemed totally appropriate for 2020. The families of the Lakers’ players and coaches appeared in short, heartfelt videos of introduction before the players walked up to an individual podium to grab the rings by themselves.
Davis was cheered on by his parents, who expressed their pride in all of his basketball accomplishments. James’ mother, uncles and children virtually congratulated him before he claimed his ring and joyously held up four fingers in honor of his four NBA titles with three franchises.
When general manager Rob Pelinka put his ring on his right hand, he threw up a 2 and 4 with his fingers in honor of Kobe Bryant.
“You showed last year what a talented group of individuals can accomplish if they buy into being a team,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel told his players. “To our fans, we cannot wait until it is safe enough for you guys to be back at Staples Center so we can perform in front of you and celebrate all this stuff with you guys. We thank you and we love you.”
Jason of Beverly Hills, the Lakers’ traditional jeweler, created the rings, just as he did for the 2009 and 2010 championship teams led by Bryant, Pau Gasol and coach Phil Jackson.
James and Davis led the Lakers to the title in the NBA’s Florida bubble during the first season of their West Coast partnership, making a 16-5 postseason run to James’ fourth championship and Davis’ first.
But the Lakers made no secret of their disappointment at celebrating their entire offseason without fans, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. They didn’t get a parade in downtown Los Angeles, and no fans were in the Staples stands to cheer in recognition of the franchise’s sixth championship since the downtown building opened in 1999.
“These are obviously highly unusual times and a very different ring ceremony without fans,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “To the Laker fans, we’re going to make it up to you. We’ll do this again when the fans are in the building.”
Buss and Vogel also made sure to thank the Lakers who moved on during the brief offseason: JaVale McGee, Danny Green, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, JR Smith, Dion Waiters, Troy Daniels and DeMarcus Cousins.
PHILLIES PROMOTE SAM FULD TO GM
The Philadelphia Phillies have promoted Sam Fuld to general manager.
The team also promoted Jorge Velandia to assistant general manager and Terry Ryan to special assistant to the general manager.
Dave Dombrowski was hired to run baseball operations two weeks ago.
The 39-year-old Fuld joined the Phillies in November 2017 as the major league player information coordinator, working closely with the coaching staff to integrate advanced metrics into the team. He also worked as an outfield instructor.
Fuld was the director of integrative baseball performance last season. He oversaw athletic training, strength and conditioning, and nutrition.
Fuld played parts of eight seasons from 2007-2015 with the Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland Athletics and Minnesota Twins. In 2009, he led National League rookies with a .409 on-base percentage and finished fourth with a .299 batting average.
Velandia played professionally for 18 years from 1992-2009 before transitioning into the Phillies’ front office.
Ryan has spent four years as a special assignment scout for Philadelphia. He previously spent 31 years with the Minnesota Twins in a variety of positions, including 19 seasons as the club’s general manager over two stints.
SYNDERGAARD AND METS AGREE TO SALARY
The New York Mets and Noah Syndergaard agreed to a $9.7 million, one-year contract Tuesday for next season, when the injured right-hander hopes to return from Tommy John surgery.
The Mets and Syndergaard avoided arbitration by settling on the same salary Syndergaard was set to make in 2020. He ended up earning $3,592,593 when the season was shortened to 60 games by the coronavirus pandemic.
Syndergaard had reconstructive right elbow surgery in March, shortly after spring training was suspended by Major League Baseball because of the coronavirus. He missed the entire regular season and should be on track to return in the middle of the 2021 season.
The Mets have nine players still eligible to swap arbitration figures Jan. 15 if no deal is reached: hitters Michael Conforto, J.D. Davis, Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, along with pitchers Miguel Castro, Edwin Diaz, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo.
|American Football Conference|
|W||L||T||Pct||GB||PF||PA||Home||Road||vs. Conf||vs. Div||Streak|
|Buffalo Bills||10||3||0||.769||0.0||359||321||6-1-0||4-2-0||7-2-0||4-0-0||3 W|
|Miami Dolphins||8||5||0||.615||2.0||330||245||4-3-0||4-2-0||5-4-0||2-2-0||1 L|
|New England Patriots||6||7||0||.462||4.0||277||279||4-2-0||2-5-0||5-4-0||2-1-0||1 L|
|New York Jets||0||13||0||.000||10.0||183||393||0-7-0||0-6-0||0-10-0||0-5-0||13 L|
|W||L||T||Pct||GB||PF||PA||Home||Road||vs. Conf||vs. Div||Streak|
|xy-Kansas City Chiefs||12||1||0||.923||0.0||403||281||5-1-0||7-0-0||10-1-0||4-1-0||8 W|
|Las Vegas Raiders||7||6||0||.538||5.0||350||391||2-4-0||5-2-0||5-4-0||3-1-0||1 L|
|Denver Broncos||5||8||0||.385||7.0||257||347||2-4-0||3-4-0||4-5-0||1-3-0||1 W|
|Los Angeles Chargers||4||9||0||.308||8.0||297||362||3-4-0||1-5-0||3-6-0||0-3-0||1 W|
|W||L||T||Pct||GB||PF||PA||Home||Road||vs. Conf||vs. Div||Streak|
|x-Pittsburgh Steelers||11||2||0||.846||0.0||349||237||6-1-0||5-1-0||8-1-0||4-0-0||2 L|
|Cleveland Browns||9||4||0||.692||2.0||348||368||5-2-0||4-2-0||6-4-0||2-3-0||1 L|
|Baltimore Ravens||8||5||0||.615||3.0||363||273||3-3-0||5-2-0||5-5-0||3-2-0||2 W|
|Cincinnati Bengals||2||10||1||.192||8.5||244||338||2-4-0||0-6-1||2-7-0||0-4-0||5 L|
|W||L||T||Pct||GB||PF||PA||Home||Road||vs. Conf||vs. Div||Streak|
|Tennessee Titans||9||4||0||.692||0.0||390||336||4-3-0||5-1-0||7-4-0||4-1-0||1 W|
|Indianapolis Colts||9||4||0||.692||0.0||372||300||4-2-0||5-2-0||5-4-0||2-2-0||2 W|
|Houston Texans||4||9||0||.308||5.0||295||359||2-4-0||2-5-0||3-6-0||2-2-0||2 L|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||1||12||0||.077||8.0||261||383||1-6-0||0-6-0||1-9-0||1-4-0||12 L|
|National Football Conference|
|W||L||T||Pct||GB||PF||PA||Home||Road||vs. Conf||vs. Div||Streak|
|Washington Football Team||6||7||0||.462||0.0||287||275||3-3-0||3-4-0||4-5-0||3-2-0||4 W|
|New York Giants||5||8||0||.385||1.0||238||291||2-4-0||3-4-0||4-7-0||3-2-0||1 L|
|Philadelphia Eagles||4||8||1||.346||1.5||277||328||3-3-1||1-5-0||4-5-0||2-2-0||1 W|
|Dallas Cowboys||4||9||0||.308||2.0||298||400||2-4-0||2-5-0||3-6-0||1-3-0||1 W|
|W||L||T||Pct||GB||PF||PA||Home||Road||vs. Conf||vs. Div||Streak|
|Los Angeles Rams||9||4||0||.692||0.0||325||246||5-1-0||4-3-0||8-2-0||2-2-0||2 W|
|Seattle Seahawks||9||4||0||.692||0.0||393||324||6-1-0||3-3-0||6-3-0||2-2-0||1 W|
|Arizona Cardinals||7||6||0||.538||2.0||358||303||3-3-0||4-3-0||5-4-0||2-2-0||1 W|
|San Francisco 49ers||5||8||0||.385||4.0||300||311||1-6-0||4-2-0||3-6-0||2-2-0||2 L|
|W||L||T||Pct||GB||PF||PA||Home||Road||vs. Conf||vs. Div||Streak|
|xy-Green Bay Packers||10||3||0||.769||0.0||410||323||5-1-0||5-2-0||8-2-0||4-1-0||3 W|
|Minnesota Vikings||6||7||0||.462||4.0||333||355||3-4-0||3-3-0||4-5-0||3-1-0||1 L|
|Chicago Bears||6||7||0||.462||4.0||282||291||3-4-0||3-3-0||5-5-0||1-3-0||1 W|
|Detroit Lions||5||8||0||.385||5.0||310||389||1-5-0||4-3-0||4-6-0||1-4-0||1 L|
|W||L||T||Pct||GB||PF||PA||Home||Road||vs. Conf||vs. Div||Streak|
|x-New Orleans Saints||10||3||0||.769||0.0||368||265||5-1-0||5-2-0||8-2-0||5-0-0||1 L|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||8||5||0||.615||2.0||370||294||4-3-0||4-2-0||5-4-0||2-2-0||1 W|
|Atlanta Falcons||4||9||0||.308||6.0||328||322||2-5-0||2-4-0||2-8-0||1-3-0||2 L|
|Carolina Panthers||4||9||0||.308||6.0||307||332||2-5-0||2-4-0||3-6-0||1-4-0||2 L|
X – Clinched Playoff Spot, Y – Clinched Division, Z – Clinched Home Field Advantage
|LA Clippers||1||0||1.000||—||–||1-0||1-0||1-0||1-0||1 W|
|Golden State||0||1||.000||1.0||–||0-1||–||–||0-1||1 L|
|LA Lakers||0||1||.000||1.0||0-1||–||0-1||0-1||0-1||1 L|
X – Clinched Playoff Spot, Y – Clinched Division, Z – Clinched Conference
BIG 10 MEN’S BASKETBALL STANDINGS
|12 Michigan State||0-1||.000||0-0||0-1||6-1||.857||5-0||1-1||0-0||1-0|
|23 Ohio State||0-1||.000||0-0||0-1||6-1||.857||4-0||1-1||1-0||0-0|
MAC MEN’S BASKETBALL STANDINGS
ACC MEN’S BASKETBALL STANDINGS
|24 Virginia Tech||1-0||1.000||1-0||0-0||7-1||.875||5-1||0-0||2-0||2-0|
|North Carolina State||1-0||1.000||1-0||0-0||5-1||.833||4-0||0-1||1-0||1-0|
|21 Florida State||1-0||1.000||1-0||0-0||5-1||.833||5-1||0-0||0-0||0-0|
|17 North Carolina||0-1||.000||0-0||0-1||5-3||.625||2-0||0-2||3-1||0-2|
HORIZON MEN’S BASKETBALL STANDINGS
|Purdue Fort Wayne||0-2||.000||0-2||0-0||1-2||.333||1-2||0-0||0-0||0-0|
BIG 10 WOMEN’S BASKETBALL STANDINGS
|25 Michigan State||2-0||1.000||1-0||1-0||7-0||1.000||6-0||1-0||0-0||0-0|
|16 Ohio State||0-0||–||0-0||0-0||4-0||1.000||4-0||0-0||0-0||0-0|
MAC WOMEN’S BASKETBALL STANDINGS
ACC WOMEN’S BASKETBALL STANDINGS
|4 North Carolina State||3-0||1.000||2-0||1-0||8-0||1.000||6-0||2-0||0-0||1-0|
HORIZON WOMEN’S BASKETBALL STANDINGS
|Purdue Fort Wayne||0-4||.000||0-2||0-2||0-6||.000||0-3||0-3||0-0||0-0|