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No Griping This Year: USC-Texas for Title (AP)
Southern California coach Pete Carroll is interviewed following the broadcast of Bowl Championship Series rankings, at the USC campus on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2005, in Los Angeles. The BCS's national title game will match undefeated Texas and Southern California in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4. (AP Photo/Phil McCarten)AP - A perfect championship game, a classic coaching matchup and Notre Dame. The Bowl Championship Series couldn't have asked for more — a glitzy lineup with little for critics to gripe over. Only Oregon has a case to complain, as the Pac-10 has a 10-1 team left out of the marquee bowls for a second straight season.


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No. 18 Washington Upsets No. 6 Gonzaga (AP)
Washington's Jamaal Williams shoots between Gonzaga's David Pendergraft and J.P. Batista during the second half in Seattle Sunday, Dec. 4,  2005. Williams led No. 18 Washington with 22 points in the 99-95 win over No. 6 Gonzaga. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)AP - Jamal Williams had 22 points and seven rebounds and No. 18 Washington overcame Gonzaga star Adam Morrison's 43 points in the Huskies' 99-95 victory over the No. 6 Bulldogs on Sunday night.


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Chargers Move Within One Game of Broncos (AP)
San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates juggles but pulls in a 6-yard touchdown pass as Oakland Raiders' Stuart Schweigert arrives late during the second quarter Sunday, Dec. 4, 2005, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)AP - LaDainian Tomlinson was jogging toward the locker room while his backup was running the other way, into the end zone. By the end of the game, the San Diego Chargers were all heading in the same direction — a little bit closer to the playoffs following a 34-10 win over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday night.


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Duke Survives Va. Tech on Buzzer Beater (AP)
Duke fans storm the floor at Cameron Indoor Stadium after defeating Virginia Tech with a last second three-point shot by Sean Dockery to win 77-75 in Durham, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 4, 2005.(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)AP - Duke's magic at Cameron Indoor Stadium is alive and well. Sean Dockery made a heave from about 40 feet with less than a second left, giving the top-ranked Blue Devils an improbable 77-75 victory over Virginia Tech on Sunday night in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.


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Chiefs Down Broncos to Tighten AFC West (AP)
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) goes into the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown reception past Denver Broncos' Champ Bailey (24) in the second quarter Sunday, Dec. 4, 2005. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)AP - With a little help from instant replay, the AFC West race suddenly got a lot tighter. The Kansas City Chiefs received a favorable ruling when they challenged the spot on a run that appeared to give Denver a first down near midfield on a fourth-and-1 play with 2:01 left.


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Colts, Seahawks Clinch Playoff Spots (AP)
Indianapolis Colts Tarik Glenn is congratulated by fans following Indianapolis 35-3 win over Tennessee in Indianapolis, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2005. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)AP - The Indianapolis Colts are in the playoffs, as if anyone doubted they'd get there. So are the Seattle Seahawks, who qualified before even taking the field.


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Shaq Drops in on Last-Place Lakers (AP)
Miami Heat's Shaquille O'Neal, right, watches the Los Angeles Lakers' game against the Charlotte Bobcats in Los Angeles on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2005. (AP Photo/Francis Specker)AP - Shaquille O'Neal dropped in on the last-place Lakers, soaked up a standing ovation, and split before his former team eked out a win over the Charlotte Bobcats.


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Trade Talk Bubbling Ahead of MLB Meetings (AP)
AP - The winter meetings are back in Dallas for the first time since 2000, when teams spent nearly $739 million on 24 free agents, including $252 million on Alex Rodriguez and $160 million to Manny Ramirez.

Real Madrid Fires Coach Luxemburgo (AP)
Vanderlei Luxemburgo from Brazil is seen leaving the training ground after his last and final training in Madrid, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2005. Real Madrid fired coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo on Sunday, less than two weeks after the team's board gave him a vote of confidence. Luxemburgo, who has been in charge for nearly a year, has proved unable to halt a series of poor displays which have led to protests by Madrid supporters at recent games. (AP Photo)AP - Vanderlei Luxemburgo was fired Sunday as coach of Real Madrid, one of the world's most glamorous soccer teams but mired in fourth place in the Spanish league this season.


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Sabres Rebound for Win Over Avalanche (AP)
Buffalo Sabres goalie Martin Biron, top, jumps over Colorado Avalanche right winger Marek Svatos, middle, of Slovakia, after he was dragged down by Sabres defenseman Brian Campbell on a breakaway shot in the third period of the Sabres' 6-4 victory in Denver on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2005. The Sabres' penalty on Svatos allowed him to score on a penalty shot to tie the score at four goals each. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)AP - The Buffalo Sabres blew a three-goal lead and found themselves in a place they call "desperation time." When that time came, however, they were ready. Derek Roy scored the go-ahead goal with 2:27 left Sunday to lift the Sabres to a 6-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche and turn what could have been an extremely disappointing night into a good one.


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Earning their stripes
The Bengals proved they're a team to be taken seriously after finally winning a big game in Pittsburgh.

Colts stay unbeaten, clinch playoff spot (AP)
The Indianapolis Colts are making perfection look easier every week. Now they'll have a chance to keep their historic quest going in the playoffs, too. With the Triplets in sync and the defense producing another physically dominant performance Sunday, Tennessee never had a chance as the Colts rolled to a 35-3 victory to clinch a playoff spot and remain the NFL's only unbeaten team.

Panthers contain Vick, top Falcons 23-6 (AP)
Michael Vick looked left, right and straight ahead, frantically searching for some running room. For the first time in his career, the Carolina Panthers closed all Vick's available lanes and forced him to try to beat them with his arm. He couldn't. Despite his long history of running wild against the Panthers, Vick was bottled up all day Sunday and failed to create much offense for Atlanta.

Bears push winning streak to eight (AP)
The Bears roughed up Brett Favre with their defense. They knocked him down, intercepted two of his passes and beat the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field for the first time since 1993. Their 19-7 victory Sunday was No. 8 in a row -- their longest streak since the 1985 Super Bowl team started 12-0. "All the years I've played against them, I think defensively this is as well as I've seen them play,"...

Palmer leads Bengals past Steelers 38-31 (AP)
Forget about the folly of a franchise long known as the Bungles. The Cincinnati Bengals proved to the Pittsburgh Steelers they're the best team in the AFC North right now and, most of all, they proved it to themselves. The Bengals went into Pittsburgh on Sunday, stood up to the team they rarely beat and all but secured their first division championship in 15 years, riding Carson Palmer's three...

Giants beat Cowboys, take NFC East lead (AP)
For once, the New York Giants' offense didn't have to manufacture a last-minute comeback. Instead, their defense stopped one by Dallas. The Giants built a 17-0 lead Sunday and then hung on to beat the Cowboys 17-10 to take sole possession of first place in the NFC East. In four games this season, New York (8-4) has rallied from deficits late in the fourth quarter behind the timely passing of Eli...

Late challenge helps Chiefs beat Broncos (AP)
The Kansas City Chiefs gained a much-needed victory -- and greater respect for the courage of officials viewing instant replay. Reversing a crucial call on the field, referee Bill Leavy took a first down away from Denver near midfield with 2:01 to play. The Chiefs, relieved of the danger of facing a final threat from the Broncos' offense, ran the clock down to 3 seconds and danced away with a 31-27...

Chargers rout Raiders, tighten AFC West (AP)
It isn't even close anymore, this rivalry between the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders. But hey -- at least it's clean. Drew Brees threw two touchdown passes and LaDainian Tomlinson bounced back from an injury scare as the Chargers ran their winning streak to five games and brightened their playoff hopes with a 34-10 win Sunday night.

Vikings top Lions for fifth straight win (AP)
Brad Johnson heaved a pass, pumped his fist and shouted with joy. The Minnesota Vikings are back -- and Johnson is, too. Johnson threw two touchdowns, including an 80-yard pass to Koren Robinson that fired up the 37-year-old quarterback, and the Vikings held on to beat the Detroit Lions 21-16 Sunday. Minnesota's mess is becoming a distant memory.

Dillon, Faulk return, help Pats top Jets (AP)
The New England Patriots won with running backs and a defense that have been missing and a kicker who's always around. The New York Jets lost again without much of a fight. Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk made key contributions in their return from injuries. Adam Vinatieri, who hasn't missed a game in 10 seasons with the Patriots, set a team record for career points.

Life after Larry
The Pistons have hardly been lost without Larry Brown, discovering a new winning style under Flip Saunders.

Suns face former teammate, rout Hawks (AP)
The Phoenix Suns -- and their fans -- spoiled Joe Johnson's homecoming. Booing Johnson incessantly, the crowd of 16,992 at America West Arena helped boost the Suns to an easy 112-94 victory over Johnson's Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night. "I expected it," Johnson said, "but it was more than I thought it would be.

Allen, Murray lead Sonics past Pacers (AP)
When the Indiana Pacers stopped Seattle's transition game, the SuperSonics showed their ability and efficiency running a half-court offense. Ray Allen scored 25 points and was one of four SuperSonics in double figures as Seattle won its third straight game, 107-102 over Indiana on Sunday night. "Our execution has come in a lot better this year.

Garnett struggles, but Wolves beat Kings (AP)
Wally Szczerbiak and Troy Hudson helped the Minnesota Timberwolves overcome Kevin Garnett's shooting problems. Szczerbiak scored 18 points and Hudson had 17 in the Timberwolves' 85-77 victory over the slumping Sacramento Kings on Sunday night. Garnett, 3-for-14 from the field, had a season-low 11 points and also finished with 10 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have won two straight and six of...

Kobe's two FTs lift Lakers over Bobcats (AP)
Kobe Bryant's legs felt heavy and it showed in his 9-for-30 shooting. But he was nearly perfect at the free throw line. Bryant scored 29 points and made two foul shots with seven seconds remaining, lifting the Los Angeles Lakers to a 99-98 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Sunday night in a matchup of early-season also-rans.

Davis lifts Celtics over Knicks 102-99 (AP)
Ricky Davis had seen this kind of thing before. Boston would build a big lead and then let the other team back into the game. It almost never ended well for the Celtics. On Sunday, Davis got a pleasant surprise. Davis scored 27 points and made two free throws with 8.7 seconds left, then New York's Nate Robinson missed a long 3-pointer on the game's final play as the Celtics beat the Knicks 102-99.

Okur's 28 helps Jazz hold off Blazers (AP)
Andrei Kirilenko still feels slightly out of synch. Kirilenko missed seven games with a sprained right ankle, and has since played off the bench for the Utah Jazz. In his third game back, he had nine points and five rebounds as the Jazz defeated the struggling Portland Trail Blazers 98-93 Sunday night.

Blazers' Miles may need knee surgery (AP)
Portland forward Darius Miles sat out the Trail Blazers' game against the Utah Jazz on Sunday night because of cartilage damage in his right knee. Miles, averaging 18.2 points and 5.6 rebounds, was placed on the inactive list and rookie Martell Webster started in his place. Miles said he had an MRI exam on Sunday which indicated he might need to have surgery.

Kaman, Brand leads Clippers past Cavs (AP)
Chris Kaman stole the show from Elton Brand and LeBron James, the most recent NBA players of the month. Kaman had a career-high 19 rebounds and scored 12 points Saturday night, leading the Los Angeles Clippers to a 102-90 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Last Wednesday at Cleveland, Kaman grabbed nine rebounds and missed all five shots before fouling out in the Clippers' overtime loss.

Parker, Barry rally Spurs past 76ers (AP)
Even with the towering Tim Duncan on the roster, point guard Tony Parker has taken over as the San Antonio Spurs' biggest inside scorer. All eight of Parker's baskets Saturday night came on layups, and the Spurs rallied in the second half for a 100-91 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. Two nights earlier in Dallas, 10 of Parker's 13 field goals came from within a few feet of the hoop, and for the...

Power rankings
Will the arrival of Joe Thornton in San Jose rescue the Sharks from the bottom third of the Power Rankings?

Sabres blow lead, recover to beat Avs (AP)
They were cutting up in the Buffalo locker room, razzing goalie Martin Biron, laughing about a couple missed opportunities and celebrating another win in a string of them that have been coming quite frequently these days. It was, indeed, a good ending to a night that seemed destined to end much differently for the Sabres.

Canucks stay hot at home, top Bruins (AP)
Brendan Morrison's lucky bounce spurred the Vancouver Canucks' offense in a very tight game. Morrison's power-play pass bounced in off a Boston defender, and Ryan Kesler scored 32 seconds later to break open a tie game in the third period and lift the Canucks to a 5-2 victory over the Bruins on Sunday night.

York returns home, helps Isles top Wings (AP)
Mike York had quite a homecoming. York, from the Detroit suburb of Waterford and a former Michigan State University player, scored the tiebreaking goal with 3:57 remaining Sunday to lift the New York Islanders to a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. York slammed in the rebound of Jason Blake's shot from the bottom of the left circle for the winning goal.

Joe Thornton again leads Sharks to win (AP)
The San Jose Sharks look nothing like the low-scoring team that lost 10 straight before acquiring Joe Thornton this week. Thornton had two assists for the second straight night with his new team, helping the Sharks rally to a 5-4 victory Saturday over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Alyn McCauley scored twice for the Sharks, who ended a 10-game losing streak Friday with a 5-0 win at Buffalo -- Thornton's...

Capitals end Rangers' win streak at six (AP)
Alexander Ovechkin ended his scoring drought, helped the Washington Capitals snap their five-game skid and brought an abrupt conclusion to the New York Rangers' longest winning streak in four years. Ovechkin had a goal and three assists, Olaf Kolzig stopped 37 shots, and the Capitals cruised to a surprisingly easy 5-1 victory Saturday night.

Nagy's hat trick powers Coyotes to rout (AP)
The last time the Phoenix Coyotes scored five power-play goals in a game, they were the Winnipeg Jets. The Carolina Hurricanes had never allowed more than four since they transformed from the Hartford Whalers. It was just that kind of night at Glendale Arena. Ladislav Nagy recorded his second career hat trick and added two assists for his first five-point game and the Coyotes beat the Hurricanes 8-4...

Flames get first win in Pitt. since '89 (AP)
Kristian Huselius couldn't have asked for a better debut with the Calgary Flames. One game in, and he's helping them score goals that may not have gone into the net. Daymond Langkow scored twice in less than two minutes early in the third period and the Flames, helped by an apparent phantom goal by Marcus Nilson, won in Pittsburgh for the first time in nearly 17 years by beating the struggling...

Dagenais scores twice, Habs beat Kings (AP)
The injury-plagued Montreal Canadiens ended their longest losing streak of the season with production from two of their least-reliable offensive threats. Pierre Dagenais scored twice and Jan Bulis netted a short-handed goal early in the third period as Montreal snapped a four-game losing skid with a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.

Predators top Flyers, reach milestone (AP)
The Nashville Predators' vast experience this season with close games and shootouts paid dividends again, this time against the novice Philadelphia Flyers. Paul Kariya had a goal and an assist in regulation and then teamed with Steve Sullivan for a pair of shootout goals to give the Predators a 4-3 win over the Flyers.

Good time
NEW YORK – NASCAR's year-end banquet isn't always a hit, but this year's edition was on the mark.

Stewart cashes in on record year (AP)
Tony Stewart's best year in NASCAR's Nextel Cup series reached the bottom line Friday, with the two-time champion setting a record for single-season earnings.

Earnhardt named most popular once again (AP)
Dale Earnhardt slipped this season in the points standings, but not in the popularity department.

Humbled Busch on hand for season-ending ceremonies (AP)
It took two quiet weekends out of a race car for Kurt Busch to realize he needed an attitude adjustment.

NASCAR champion ready to get in shape (AP)
Tony Stewart went on a shopping spree last week that he hopes will lead to a new and improved Nextel Cup champion.

Stewart's slow start turns into championship season (AP)
What started out as a lost season for Tony Stewart wound up as the best time of his life. Few who saw it will...

In NASCAR, 2005 a season of personality (AP)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The season started with Tony Stewart out front, only to fade at the end of the biggest...

Authorities identify four killed in plane crash off Dana Point (AP)
Off-road racer Jason Baldwin was among four people killed last weekend in a plane crash off the California coast, authorities confirmed Wednesday. Divers recovered the bodies Tuesday, three days after the plane sank in about 200 feet of water off Dana Point. Along with the 35-year-old Baldwin, also identified were pilot Daniel M.

NASCAR's championship format was a winner, and closer than it looked (AP)
There was no last-lap drama in this Chase.

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