NFL PLAYOFFS-NEXT WEEKEND
Final 8 are set
UNDATED (AP) -- Following yesterday's victories by the Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks, the final eight in the NFL playoffs are set. Here are the matchups for next weekend.
The Ravens, who delayed the retirement of their 17-year veteran linebacker Ray Lewis with a 24-9 victory over Indianapolis yesterday, now travel to Denver to play the Broncos at Mile High next Saturday. Peyton Manning & Co. are riding an 11-game winning streak.
That game will be followed by an NFC divisional game next Saturday night. The Green Bay Packers, who outclassed Minnesota 24-10 last Saturday at Lambeau Field, now must travel to Candlestick Park to play the San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco beat Green Bay 30-22 back in Week 1 of the regular season.
Next Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks travel to Atlanta to play the top-seeded Falcons in the NFC. The Seahawks rallied from an early 14-0 deficit to beat the Redskins 24-14 yesterday while the Falcons enjoyed the bye week. Until yesterday, Seattle had not won a road playoff game since 1983.
The divisional playoffs conclude next Sunday with Houston traveling to Foxborough to play the New England Patriots, second-seed in the AFC. The Texans reversed a late season slide by eliminating Cincinnati 19-13 on Saturday while the Pats enjoyed a first-round bye.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL-BCS CHAMPIONSHIP
Tonight's the night for `Bama-Notre Dame
MIAMI (AP) -- Which team do you like, Notre Dame or Alabama?
The battle lines are drawn for tonight's BCS Championship at Sun Life Stadium in Miami. Notre Dame, the top-ranked team with a 12-0 mark, has the distinction of being a fairly heavy underdog against 12-1 Alabama. Oddsmakers are rating the Crimson Tide about a 9-point favorite, largely based on Alabama's team speed and swarming defense.
Alabama is going for its third national championship in four years and trying to become the first school to win back-to-back BCS titles. Notre Dame is seeking its first national championship since 1988.
Notre Dame's strength is its stifling defense, which has allowed only two rushing touchdowns all season. The Crimson Tide has a pair of 1,000 yards rushers in Eddie Lacy and freshman T.J. Yeldon, who combined for 334 yards in a 32-28 victory over Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championship game. Notre Dame has surrendered only 92.4 yards per game on the ground, and just two players rushed for more than 100 yards against the Irish. LB Manti Te'o (MAN'-ty TAY'-ow) leads the team in tackles (103) and interceptions (seven).
This game matches two of the most storied programs in college grid history. The teams first met in the 1973 Sugar Bowl, a classic matchup in which Notre Dame claimed its second national title under coach Ara Parseghian with a 24-23 victory over Bear Bryant and the Crimson Tide. Their last meeting was in 1987, when Notre Dame romped to a 37-6 victory in South Bend.
Bearcats hope to bounce back after tough loss
UNDATED (AP) -- It's a light two-game schedule for teams ranked in the AP Top-25.
Fifth-ranked Indiana takes its 13-1 mark into State College to play Penn State.
But the most interesting game of the night has 14th-ranked Cincinnati hosting 21st-ranked Notre Dame in Big East action. The 13-2 Bearcats are coming off a 53-52 loss Saturday to St. John's. The Irish are riding high, sporting a 13-1 mark for coach Mike Brey after their 93-74 rout of Seton Hall on Saturday.
Thunder get a softie on the back end
UNDATED (AP) -- It's not the toughest of all possible back-to-back games the NBA schedule maker has ever devised. The Thunder, who are sporting a 26-7 record atop the Northwest Division, beat Toronto 104-92 yesterday behind 23 points from Russell Westbrook and 22 from running mate Kevin Durant.
After the game, Durant called it "one of those trap games." He said he knew the Thunder had to be focused on first disposing of the Raptors before traveling to Washington to take on the woeful Wizards tonight.
The Wizards are sporting a 4-28 record following their loss last night in Miami.
Tonight's other six-pack of games include Boston traveling to Madison Square Garden to play the Atlantic Division-leading Knicks, who are 23-10. Cleveland travels to United Center to take on the 18-13 Bulls, who enter the night a half-game back of Central Division-leading Indiana.
San Antonio, which opens the day with a four-game lead over Memphis atop the Southwest Division, is on the road at New Orleans. Dallas is at Utah, Orlando travels to Portland and Memphis is at Sacramento.
PGA-TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Is today the day?
KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) -- They will try to start the PGA Tour season for the fourth consecutive day. So far they haven't had much success.
The season-opening Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course at Kapalua has endured high winds over the weekend, preventing the first round from being completed.
The winners-only tournament was supposed to begin Friday. But rough weather has won out so far. They're hoping to try again with 36 holes today and the 54-hole tourney concluding on Tuesday. The Sony Open in Honolulu starts Thursday.