Here is the latest Mid-America sports news from The Associated Press
INDEANAPOLIS, In. (AP) —Defense earns redemption as Georgia ends long title drought. Georgia won its long-awaited national championship the way it dominated during an undefeated regular season — by relying on its defense. The Bulldogs allowed only 30 yards rushing in beating Alabama 33-18 in Indianapolis. Georgia won its first national title since the 1980 season. The clinching touchdown came on cornerback Kelee Ringo's 79-yard interception return with less than one minute remaining. Georgia won the rematch with Alabama after losing 41-24 in the SEC championship game. The Bulldogs entered the national championship game ranked first in the nation by allowing only 9.6 points per game.
UNDATED (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs did what they had to Saturday, beating the Broncos on the road to finish up the regular season. Too bad the Titans did what they had to Sunday, too. So rather than have the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye, the Chiefs will face seventh-seeded Pittsburgh on Sunday night in the wild-card round at Arrowhead Stadium. It will be a rematch of a game from just a few weeks ago, when the Chiefs led 23-0 by halftime and rolled through the second half in a 36-10 romp. Kansas City lost to the Steelers in January 2017 the previous time they met in a wild-card playoff game.
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska coach Scott Frost has announced Bill Busch's promotion from defensive analyst to special teams coordinator. Frost also said assistant Mike Dawson will have additional duties. Dawson will now coach the interior linemen as well as the edge rushers following defensive line coach Tony Tuioti's departure for Oregon. Busch's charge is to upgrade one of the worst special teams units in the country this past season. Busch was LSU's safeties coach from 2018-20 before returning to Lincoln last February for a third stint with the Cornhuskers.
Update on the latest sports
Marchand bloodied, scores twice in Bruins' 7-3 win over Caps
WASHINGTON (AP) — Brad Marchand returned from a bloody nose to score two goals and assist on another in the Boston Bruins' 7-3 rout of the Washington Capitals. Marchand barely missed any time after taking a hard high stick to the face in the first period. Boston improved to 9-1-1 in its past 11 road games, and got two goals from David Pastrnak (PAHS'-tur-nahk) and one apiece from Matt Grzelcyk (GRIHZ'-lihk), Craig Smith and Erik Haula. The Capitals' four-game losing streak is their longest of the season. Conor Sheary scored twice for Washington and T.J. Oshie had a goal.
Also, in NHL action:
— Nazem Kadri scored a go-ahead goal late in the third period, and the surging Colorado Avalanche rallied to beat the Seattle Kraken 4-3. Nicolas Aube-Kubel had two goals and Devon Toews also scored for Colorado, which beat former teammate Philipp Grubauer to win its 12th straight at home and fifth in a row overall. Grubauer, who had 31 saves, received a warm reception from the crowd. Marcus Johansson, Jared McCann and Colin Backwell scored for Seattle.
— Phillip Danault, Blake Lizotte and Adrian Kempe scored and the Los Angeles Kings defeated the New York Rangers 3-1 Monday night. Trevor Moore had two assists and Cal Petersen made 22 saves. The Kings have won four of five. Mika Zibanejad had a goal and Alexandar Georgiev made 36 saves for the Rangers, who have lost two of three to start their longest road trip of the season. Kris Knoblauch served as temporary coach for New York after Gerard Gallant tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.
NHLPA files grievance after Sharks terminate Kane's contract
UNDATED (AP) — A person with direct knowledge of the decision tells The Associated Press that the NHL Players' Association has filed a grievance against the San Jose Sharks for terminating the remainder of Evander Kane's contract. The grievance was filed Sunday night and contends the Sharks did not have sufficient grounds to make the move. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the matter is now in the league's hands.
The Sharks placed Kane on unconditional waivers, saying the forward violated COVID-19 protocols while with the AHL Barracuda. Kane cleared waivers and is now an unrestricted free agent.
Elsewhere in the NHL:
— The NHL has postponed Tuesday night's scheduled game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers because of COVID-19 issues with the Flyers. A spike in infections driven by the omicron variant of the coronavirus has led to frequent postponements in recent weeks. Three games scheduled for Monday night were called off. The Hurricanes-Flyers game was the second scheduled for Tuesday to be postponed, and the 104th postponement this season. Philadelphia last played on Saturday night, an overtime win at home over San Jose. Several players sat out because of health and safety protocols.
— Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin could make his season debut when the Penguins face the Anaheim Ducks. Coach Mike Sullivan says he anticipates the four-time All-Star and 2012 Hart Trophy winner will be a "game-time" decision as Pittsburgh continues its West Coast swing.
— Dallas Stars coach Rick Bowness has been fined $25,000 for twice slamming a stick against the boards behind the bench seconds after his team's 2-1 loss at St. Louis. The Blues scored two power-play goals in the final minute, the 11th time in NHL history that a team won in regulation after trailing by one with a minute left. The league announced the fine and said the money goes to the NHL Foundation.
Rozier, Ball lead Hornets to back-to-back wins vs. Bucks
UNDATED (AP) — LaMelo Ball hit the go-ahead basket with 15 seconds left, Terry Rozier scored 27 points and the Charlotte Hornets beat the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks for the second time in three nights, 103-99. Ball scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half, and Miles Bridges added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Hornets, who have won six of eight games and improved to 12-5 at home.
Khris Middleton had 27 points and 11 assists, and Giannis Antetokounmpo (YAH'-nihs an-teh-toh-KOON'-poh) added 26 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists for the Bucks, who also lost 114-106 to the Hornets on Saturday night.
In other NBA action:
— Anfernee Simons had 23 points and 11 assists, and the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers took advantage of James Harden's absence for a 114-108 victory over the Brooklyn Nets Monday night. Harden was out with a hyperextended left knee. Kyrie Irving started in his second game of the season and finished with 22 points. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 26 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets. Robert Covington had 21 points, including five 3-pointers, for the Blazers, who had all five starters in double figures.
— Jarret Allen had 18 points and 17 rebounds, Darius Garland also had a double-double and the Cleveland Cavaliers held off the Sacramento Kings 109-108. Kevin Love scored 19 points, Evan Mobley added 17 and Lauri Markkanen and Cedi Osman finished with 15 points apiece. Garland had 12 points and 11 assists as the Cavaliers completed the season sweep of the Kings. Tyrese Haliburton had 21 points and eight assists for Sacramento. Buddy Hield added 19 points. The Kings have lost a season-worst five straight.
— Joel Embiid had 31 points and eight rebounds to lead the Philadelphia 76ers over the Houston Rockets 111-91 for their seventh straight win. Embiid turned in his seventh straight 30-point game and also had six assists. He was 9 of 16 from the field and made all 13 of his free throws. He's the second player in NBA history to score exactly 31 points in four straight games. Bob McAdoo was the first to do it for the Buffalo Braves in November 1973. Embiid entered Monday averaging 26.8 points per game, sixth in the NBA.
— RJ Barrett scored 31 points in his first home game since hitting his first career buzzer beater, leading the New York Knicks to a 111-96 victory over the San Antonio Spurs. Evan Fournier returned from a one-game absence with 18 points for the Knicks, who broke open a game that had been close throughout by outscoring the Spurs 18-2 to start the fourth quarter. Barrett had five straight points to open the final period, which started with the Knicks ahead just 82-75. By the time the Knicks hit three consecutive 3-pointers to end their spurt, it was 100-77.
— Cade Cunningham scored 18 of his career-high 29 points in the third quarter to help the Detroit Pistons erase a 22-point deficit and beat the Utah Jazz 126-116 on Monday night. Saddiq Bey added 29 points for Detroit, which is 4-2 in 2022 after finishing 2021 with 18 losses in 19 games. Lead assistant coach Rex Kalamian took charge with coach Dwane Casey having entered COVID-19 protocol. Donovan Mitchell scored 31 points for Utah, and Hassan Whiteside had a season-high 21 points as well as 14 rebounds.
— Jaylen Brown scored 26 points and Jayson Tatum had 24, carrying the Boston Celtics to a 101-98 overtime victory over the Indiana Pacers in the first of a home-and-home series between the teams. Robert Williams III had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Boston, including a key block in OT. The Celtics won for the fourth time in six games. Torrey Craig led the Pacers with 19 points and Lance Stephenson scored 14 but missed a potential tying 3-pointer late in OT. Indiana has lost seven of eight. Pacers scoring leader Domantas Sabonis was held to 11 points.
Nuggets trade Bol Bol to Pistons for McGruder, draft pick
DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets finalized a trade with Detroit that will send big man Bol Bol to the Pistons. The Nuggets acquired guard Rodney McGruder along with a 2022 second-round pick via Brooklyn in exchange. The 7-foot-2 Bol is the son of the late Manute Bol, who played 10 years in the NBA.
Bol Bol played in 53 games over three seasons with the Nuggets and averaged 2.7 points.
McGruder saw action in 17 games for the Pistons this season. He averaged 2.5 points and 1.6 rebounds.
Georgia snaps 41-year title drought with 33-18 win over Bama
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Stetson Bennett delivered the biggest throws of his storybook career and Georgia's defense sealed the sweetest victory in program history, vanquishing rival Alabama 33-18 to win the College Football Playoff title game. The Bulldogs won their first national title in 41 yards.
Bennett connected with Adonai Mitchell on a 40-yard touchdown to give Georgia a 19-18 lead with 8:09 left. He then hooked up with Brock Bowers for a 15-yard TD on a screen to put the Bulldogs up with with 3:33 left.
The final blow came from the defense. Kelee Ringo intercepted an underthrown deep ball down the sideline by Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young and returned 79 yards for a touchdown.
Coaches fired in Miami, Chicago, Minnesota
UNDATED (AP) — Back-to-back winning seasons were not enough for Brian Flores to keep his job as coach of the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins have fired Flores in a somewhat surprising move that came less than 24 hours after the team finished a 9-8 season.
Flores went 24-25 in his three seasons in Miami, not making the playoffs in any of those seasons, but finishing this year with eight wins in the final nine games. Miami started 0-7 in his first season, 1-3 last season and 1-7 this season. But it always found ways to get better as the season went along, going 20-8 in games played in November, December and January under Flores.
In other NFL news:
— The Chicago Bears have fired general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy, hoping new leadership in the front office and on the sideline will lift a struggling franchise. Nagy's fate seemed sealed as Bears struggled through a 6-11 season that ended with a loss at Minnesota on Sunday. Nagy went 34-31 in four seasons.
— The Minnesota Vikings have fired general manager Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer. The move comes after a second straight absence from the playoffs. Owner Mark Wilf said the Vikings will first choose a new general manager who will have input into the head coach hire.
— Dave Gettleman is retiring as the general manager of the New York Giants after four losing seasons and ending this season with a record of 4-and-13. Coach Joe Judge's future with the Giants also is in question. He'll meet with ownership this week.
— The Jacksonville Jaguars' 3-and-14 record this season earned them the top spot in April's NFL draft, the second consecutive year they will pick first. The tentative order of the first round, not including teams in the playoffs, was announced Monday by the NFL.
— Seattle Seahawks backup quarterback Geno Smith has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence following the team's season-ending victory in Arizona. Smith just completed his third season with the Seahawks and had the most extensive playing time of his tenure in Seattle. He appeared in four games and started three when Russell Wilson was out due to finger surgery.
Talks on expanded playoffs are stalled
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — College Football Playoff expansion talks remain stalled and the possibility of implementing a new format by the 2024 season have dimmed after three days of meetings failed to produce an agreement.
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby says it is looking unlikely that expansion would come before the end of the current CFP contract that expires in 2026, it was not ruled out altogether.
Executive Director Bill Hancock says the talks are going into overtime and the conference commissioners are expected to meet again the coming week.
In other college football news:
— Late Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam of Colorado and two-time runner-up Andrew Luck of Stanford headline a list of 21 former players and coaches in this year's College Football Hall of Fame class. The National Football Foundation announced the new inductees Monday. The induction ceremony is scheduled for Dec. 6.
Baylor is unanimous pick
UNDATED (AP) — Baylor is once again the unanimous No. 1 in The Associated Press men's college basketball poll, and fifth-ranked Southern California climbed to its highest ranking in nearly five decades.
Gonzaga, UCLA, Auburn and USC rounded out the top five. The Trojans have their highest ranking since December 1974. No. 25 Illinois rejoined the poll as the week's lone addition.
Djokovic resumes training after winning court fight
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic has returned to the tennis court for training, having won a legal battle to stay in Australia and play in the Australian Open after his exemption from strict coronavirus vaccine rules was questioned. But the government is still threatening to cancel his visa and deport him.
The unvaccinated tennis star was released after being confined to an immigration hotel for four nights.
Djokovic wants to play in the Australian Open so he can try to break the men's career record for most Grand Slam titles he currently shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Hall of Fame receiver Don Maynard dead at age 86
UNDATED (AP) — Don Maynard, a Hall of Fame receiver who made his biggest impact catching passes from Joe Namath in the wide-open AFL, has died. He was 86.
Maynard was the main target for Namath with the New York Jets, though a leg injury made him less effective in the team's stunning upset of the NFL champion Baltimore Colts in the 1969 Super Bowl. When he retired in 1973 after one season with the St. Louis Cardinals, he was pro football's career receiving leader with 633 catches for 11,834 yards and 88 touchdowns.