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    By Stephen F. Holder, Times Staff Writer
    Friday, November 30, 2012

    Whenever we've talked, you always emphasize the importance of your faith. How big a part of your makeup is your religion?

    It's big. I grew up in the church, and faith was big in my family. My whole family has always been centered around that. Generally, I grew up trying to do the right thing. Occasionally, you slip up. But you just try to stay grounded and keep it a part of your makeup so, even if you drift, you always come back to your foundation. Without God, none of us would be here.

    You're from South Carolina. Did you grow up going to the typical ol' Southern church?

    Pretty much. I should give a shout-out to Cedar Grove Baptist Church. We had some long services, but they were heartfelt and genuine. You'd kind of forget what time it was.

    You've been around. How many teams have you been on?

    Six. I got drafted by Green Bay in the fifth round. I got cut and put on the practice squad then got signed by Buffalo. I played there a year-and-a-half, got cut. Then I played at Detroit for about two weeks. I don't even remember that. I didn't really have a chance there. Then I went to the Giants for about a year. I got cut there after the (following) preseason. Then I went to Pittsburgh for a year. But I didn't get cut in Pittsburgh. I had a chance to go back, actually, but I chose to come down here.

    That's a crazy ride. But it's hard to stick around in this league, isn't it?

    I know a lot of people who haven't even made it a year. Hey, I'm blessed.

    Do you have a memorable story from all those experiences, something you look back on and laugh about?

    Yes. I wouldn't have (rented) all those apartments, man. Every time I'd go somewhere new, I'd get an apartment. And then you get cut or have to leave and you have to pay to get out of your lease. You lose thousands of dollars doing that. If I could do it all over again, I'd definitely change that.

    What do you do? Get a short-term lease?

    Now I do. I learned from my mistakes. And my wife's been with me all through that. But it's not all bad. She enjoys seeing different places.

    These are my weekly questions: What's playing most on your iPod right now?

    Well, I used to listen to a lot of rap. But about two months ago, I really stopped listening to a lot of that stuff. It's actually a funny story. Me and (tackle Demar Dotson) are really close, and we talk about our faith a lot. He was just telling me one day about how the things you listen to can corrupt your spirit. I had never thought about that. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right. Now when I listen to a lot of that stuff, it just sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard. So I listen to a lot of gospel and R&B now.

    What website do you visit the most?

    Probably Facebook. I have a lot of friends, but I only accept the request if I know them personally.

    And what reality TV show do you never miss?

    My wife is big on this. I don't mind watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta. That's okay. I used to be into the Basketball Wives shows, but I decided they just portrayed black women terribly and I can't watch it anymore. I'll watch The First 48 a lot, too.

    Does the offensive line still do those weekly dinners? If so, I have to ask: Who eats the most?

    (Guard) Roger Allen. In fact, make sure you put that in the paper. He eats the most, and he orders the most expensive things (laughing). But his time's coming. Be sure about that. (They take turns paying.)

    What was the damage when it was your turn to pay?

    Oh, man. I can't talk about that. I tried to erase that from my brain. I paid the bill and tried to forget about it. Maybe I can write it off on my taxes or something. I might try.

    It must be an interesting experience with a room full of offensive linemen at the dinner table?

    Yeah. We laugh and joke a lot. We don't talk about a lot of football, though. And it's not like people are (hounding) us asking for autographs. Nobody knows us. Except when Davin (Joseph) comes along with his long dreads and having his face on the side of the stadium. That's a little different. The rest of us are pretty much under the radar.

    How do you decide where to go? I guess the person who is paying gets to pick, and then we have like a council that approves it.

    Yeah. (Jeremy) Zuttah, Davin and (Donald) Penn, they get together and see if the restaurant is acceptable. Or something like that.

    Stephen F. Holder can be reached at sholder@tampabay.com.


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    By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer
    Friday, November 30, 2012

    . fast facts

    USF vs. Pitt, 7, ESPN2, 98.7-FM, 1010-AM

    The Panthers (5-6, 2-4 Big East) have been hard to figure, opening with a loss to Division I-AA Youngstown State but taking now-No. 1 Notre Dame to triple overtime, then dominating Rutgers last week. QB Tino Sunseri has had a stellar season: 2,892 yards and 18 touchdowns against two interceptions. He has two big targets with 800-plus yards in Devin Street and Mike Shanahan, and RB Ray Graham needs just 52 yards to reach 1,000. The Bulls (3-8, 1-5) get a second start from redshirt freshman QB Matt Floyd, who has started slow in his previous two games but moved the ball well late in losses to Miami and Cincinnati.

    Watch out for …

    Which USF senior can go out with the biggest bang? Defensive leaders such as CB Kayvon Webster, LB Sam Barrington and DT Cory Grissom need to make the splash plays the Bulls have lacked all season, still with just two interceptions in 11 games. On offense, it's the final game for RB Demetris Murray, and senior linemen Danous Estenor and Mark Popek hope to return from injury for their final game. Could senior K Maikon Bonani finish his career with a winning kick, the same way he opened it with a winner against Kansas in 2008.

    Greg Auman, Times staff writer

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    Associated Press
    Friday, November 30, 2012

    .fast facts

    No. 13 Florida State vs. Georgia Tech, 8, ESPN, 820-AM, 620-AM

    Atlantic Division winner FSU (10-2, 7-1 ACC) has won a dozen league titles since joining the conference in 1992. Georgia Tech (6-6, 5-3), which qualified after Miami officials decided to skip the league's championship game in anticipation of NCAA sanctions, beat Clemson in the 2009 ACC title game but was forced to vacate it because of NCAA sanctions.

    Watch out for …

    A bounce-back game from QB EJ Manuel, the third-most accurate passer in ACC history. Manuel turned it over four times and was hit in the jaw in last week's loss to Florida, briefly leaving the game as FSU lost momentum. "It's tough, but we understand that we have a huge game," he said. "We can't allow that game to linger on."

    Associated Press

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    Associated Press
    Friday, November 30, 2012

    STANFORD, Calif. — Kevin Hogan has taken Stanford to a place Andrew Luck never could.

    Hogan threw for 155 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 47 yards to help the eighth-ranked Cardinal beat No. 17 UCLA 27-24 in the Pac-12 Championship Game on Friday night.

    As a defender barreled into him, Hogan hurled a 26-yard tying touchdown to Drew Terrell on third and 15 early in the fourth quarter. Jordan Williamson kicked his second field goal from 36 yards with 6:49 remaining for the go-ahead score to seal Stanford's first conference title since the 1999 season.

    The Cardinal (11-2) will play the winner of today's Big Ten title game between Nebraska and Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

    UCLA's Brent Hundley threw for 177 yards and an interception that set up a Stanford touchdown. He still almost brought the Bruins (9-4) back, but Ka'imi Fairbairn missed a 52-yard field goal wide left in the final moments.

    Hogan completed 16 of 22 passes to beat a fourth ranked opponent in his fourth straight start since unseating Josh Nunes at quarterback. After the Cardinal rolled past UCLA 35-17 last Saturday at the Rose Bowl, it took all 60 minutes for another victory in the rare rematch.

    The heavy rain that pounded the area earlier in the day never seemed to slow down the Bruins, who ran for 284 yards behind Jonathan Franklin's 194 yards on the ground. The most yards rushing Stanford allowed this season had been 198 in an overtime victory at Oregon two weeks ago.

    No matter.

    The Cardinal won its seventh straight game to advance to its third different BCS bowl in as many seasons, a run that began behind coach Jim Harbaugh and Luck, the No. 1 overall pick of the Colts. Before that, the Cardinal had only won 10 games three times (1992, 1940, 1926) in program history.

    UCLA converted a pair of third downs before Franklin burst through the middle for a 51-yard touchdown. He carried safety Jordan Richards the final 5 yards into the end zone to give the Bruins a 7-0 lead on the opening drive.

    Stanford answered when Hogan ran 14 yards on a read-option keeper to convert a long third down, fullback Ryan Hewitt bulldozed through the line on a fourth and 1 and Stepfan Taylor took a short pass 33 yards inches shy of the goal line. On the next play, Hogan faked a handoff and rolled untouched for the tying touchdown.

    Before the Cardinal offense even found their seats on the sideline, Hundley ran 48 yards and scrambled for a 5-yard TD to put UCLA back in front, 14-7. With the Bruins about to go ahead two scores, Ed Reynolds intercepted Hundley's pass and returned it 80 yards to set up Taylor's short TD run.

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    Times wires
    Friday, November 30, 2012

    PITTSBURGH — For the third straight game, the Steelers will be without their star quarterback. At least they will have the quarterback of their defense and reigning team MVP.

    Ben Roethlisberger won't play Sunday in Baltimore, the team said Friday, so Charlie Batch will make his second start for Pittsburgh, which is 0-2 without Roethlisberger this season. But unlike the losses to the Ravens and Browns, the Steelers likely will have safety Troy Polamalu (right calf) and receiver Antonio Brown (ankle).

    Brown, voted MVP by his teammates last season, was hurt against the Giants on Nov. 5. Polamalu, a five-time All-Pro, has not played a full game since the opener. He returned Oct. 7 but left in the first quarter.

    Roethlisberger threw only briefly Friday. He sprained his right shoulder and dislocated a rib against the Chiefs on Nov. 12. With top backup Byron Leftwich (ribs) also out, the Steelers turn again to Batch, 37.

    Raider suspension: Oakland suspended linebacker Rolando McClain for two games for what it called only conduct detrimental to the team. McClain, the eighth overall pick in 2010, has struggled this year and seen his playing time reduced. In 41 games, he has 6½ sacks and one interception.

    Bengals: Receiver Mohamed Sanu has a stress fracture in his foot and might be out for the season.

    Cowboys: Owner Jerry Jones said it "looks like" running back DeMarco Murray will play Sunday. He has been out with a sprained right foot.

    Eagles: Quarterback Michael Vick and running back LeSean McCoy will miss their second straight games because of concussions.

    49ers: Defensive lineman and special teams standout Demarcus Dobbs won't play after being arrested on suspicion of DUI.

    Jets: Backup quarterback Tim Tebow might be inactive Sunday because of two broken ribs.

    Ravens: Linebacker Ray Lewis, out with a torn triceps, is expected to return Dec. 16 to face Peyton Manning and the Broncos, ESPN reported.

    Titans: Linebacker and Clearwater Central Catholic grad Colin McCarthy will sit with a concussion sustained last week against the Jaguars.

    Fines: Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth and Raiders defensive linemen Desmond Bryant, Lamarr Houston, Tommy Kelly and Matt Shaughnessy were fined $26,250 each for fighting Sunday. Other fines: Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall $35,750, horse-collar tackle and late hit; Panthers running back Mike Tolbert $21,000, blindside block; Packers safety Jerron McMillian $21,000, helmet-to-helmet hit; Saints defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley $20,000, kicking 49ers offensive lineman Alex Boone's helmet; Texans defensive end J.J. Watt $15,750, hit on Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford; Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher $15,750, horse-collar tackle on Vikings running back Adrian Peterson; Rams defensive end Chris Long $15,750, striking Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley in the head; and Bears quarterback Jay Cutler $10,000, throwing the ball at Vikings corner AJ Jefferson.

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  • 11/30/12--19:22: Bucs struggle to get sacks
  • By Rick Stroud, Times Staff Writer
    Friday, November 30, 2012


    Bucs DT Gerald McCoy got off to a hot start as a pass rusher, registering three sacks over his first three games this season.

    But in the eight games since? Zilch.

    The season-ending knee injury to DE Adrian Clayborn has allowed opponents to slide protection McCoy's way. Although disruptive of the quarterback at times, the Bucs rank 28th in the NFL with only 18 sacks, seven from DE Michael Bennett. A year ago, Tampa Bay finished last in the league with 23.

    "There's never just one thing. If there was, you'd get it fixed and there wouldn't be a problem," coach Greg Schiano said of the Bucs' pass rush. "One time, a guy makes an assignment error. Or there could be a technique error. He has him beat … and doesn't finish the rush.

    "Another time, it may be a different scenario where he didn't have the rush where he can go from speed to power and he didn't. So there are so many different things. It's not just, 'There's the quarterback and go get him.' "

    Pressuring the quarterback won't get any easier for the Bucs today against the Broncos' Peyton Manning, an offensive savant who throws with such great anticipation that he is hard to get to the ground. Manning has been sacked just 16 times this season, the same as the Bucs' Josh Freeman. But Manning has thrown 60 more passes.

    "We just do what we're coached," McCoy said. "We've got to start owning plays that are called more. We can't always look for a different call. Whatever they call is what we have to play. Last week (against the Falcons), I don't think we played as fast as we have in the past or as physical. That's going to be highly necessary (today)."

    What does, "Whatever they call is what we have to play," mean?

    At times this season, McCoy has asked defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan to cut down on the number of stunts and twists they run on the line.

    "I think sometimes if you're not having the success that you planned on or you're playing for, you tend to look for reasons why," Sheridan said. "We are, too. We brainstorm all the time trying to find new ways to rush and put together pressure. I think he's referring to that.

    "The thing nowadays is people aren't going to sit back and take a seven-step drop and wait for the ball to be thrown all the way down the field. They're getting rid of the ball, and the guy we're playing is as good as anybody. (Manning) is not going to sit in there and dare you to pressure him. He's always going to have a route to get the ball out."

    ALTITUDE OR ATTITUDE? Any team that plays at the Broncos has to deal with the thin air of Denver, which is more than 5,000 feet above sea level. Fatigue and dehydration can be issues.

    But Schiano says because his team is going to spend only about a day in Denver, it should not be a factor.

    "The facts are actually favorable," Schiano said. "We get in, and we get out, and you're fine. As long as you hydrate, you're fine. Now if you're going to spend an extended period of time there and your body gets acclimated and there's a whole medical thing that occurs, it's a different story.

    "Our humidity (in Tampa) was 55 percent. Out there, it will be like 25 percent. That's a big difference."

    Rick Stroud can be reached at stroud@tampabay.com.

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    By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer
    Friday, November 30, 2012

    . Today

    USF women vs. North Florida

    When/where: 1; Sun Dome, Tampa

    Radio: 1010 AM. Records: USF 5-0, UNF 2-4

    Notable: USF seeks its first 6-0 start in six seasons and should have little problems against a UNF team that doesn't have any players averaging so much as 8 points per game. The Ospreys have a pair of talented freshmen from Tampa in G Bre Crum (Sickles High) and F Shayla Wilson (Jefferson). USF's top scorer, senior G Andrea Smith, is scoring 18.4 points per game and hitting 54 percent of her 3-point attempts (14-for-26). Freshman G Courtney Williams had 16 points and six steals in a lopsided win Wednesday at UNC-Asheville.

    Greg Auman, Times staff writer

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  • 11/30/12--19:37: Sports in brief
  • Times wires
    Friday, November 30, 2012


    Beckham faces mls finale in title match

    CARSON, Calif. — David Beckham wraps up his six seasons with Los Angeles in today's MLS Cup (4:30, ESPN) at its Home Depot Center.

    "I know I'm quite an emotional person. I'm just really excited about the game. … It's going to be special," said the former English Premier League and England star.

    Los Angeles goes after its second straight MLS title in a rematch with Houston, which lost 1-0 last season.

    This is a watershed game for the Los Angeles franchise and MLS, which is losing Beckham's magnetic appeal after a half-decade of impressive leaguewide growth. Beckham, 37, hasn't revealed where he'll play next.

    Beckham could be joined in departure by U.S. star Landon Donovan, 30, who is thinking about walking away from the Galaxy, apparently burned out.

    Alpine skiing

    Vonn wins downhill by almost two seconds

    Lindsey Vonn won the season-opening downhill for her 12th career World Cup victory at Lake Louise, Alberta. The four-time overall Cup winner finished in 1 minute, 52.61 seconds, to beat U.S. teammate Stacey Cook by 1.73 seconds in the race interrupted a few times because of fog and poor visibility. Vonn raced for the second time since returning from a stomach bug that landed her in the hospital last month. Last week in Aspen, Colo., she was 21st in the giant slalom, then skipped the slalom.

    Et cetera

    Golf: Graeme McDowell opened with three straight birdies and finished with 6-under 66 for a three-shot lead at 9-under 135 after the second round of Tiger Woods' World Challenge charity tournament at Thousand Oaks, Calif. Tied for second in the 18-player field were Bo Van Pelt (68), Jim Furyk (69) and Keegan Bradley (69). Woods (69) was four back.

    Swimming: 2012 Olympic gold medalist Matt Grevers and Kevin Cordes set U.S. records at the Winter Nationals in Austin, Texas. Grevers won the 100-yard backstroke in 44.55 seconds, lowering Olympian and former Gator Ryan Lochte's mark of 44.60. Cordes won the 100 breaststroke in 51.10, bettering his 51.32. Five-time Olympic medalist Missy Franklin won the 200 free and the 100 back.

    Badminton: The world federation decided to change the Olympic doubles rules but not the much-criticized group format in the wake of a match-throwing scandal at London this year. Four women's pairs, including the world champs from China, were disqualified for trying to deliberately lose group matches to rig easier paths through the knockout stages. In 2016, all teams finishing second in their groups will go through another draw to determine who they face in the knockout stage. The group winners will have fixed positions to begin the playoffs.

    Tennis: Prosecutors in Los Angeles dropped the murder case against Lois Goodman, 70, the tennis referee arrested before a match at the U.S. Open in August, accused of bludgeoning her 80-year-old husband to death with a coffee cup. The case was dismissed after prosecutors said they were unable to proceed because of insufficient evidence.

    Times wires

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    By Stephen F. Holder, Times Staff Writer
    Friday, November 30, 2012

    121.7 (11th) 104.4 (20th)

    Projected starters



    WR: Vincent Jackson

    LT: Donald Penn

    LG: Jeremy Zuttah

    C: Ted Larsen

    RG: Jamon Meredith

    RT: Demar Dotson

    TE: Dallas Clark

    WR: Mike Williams

    QB: Josh Freeman

    RB: Doug Martin

    FB: Erik Lorig


    LDE: Michael Bennett

    DT: Gerald McCoy

    DT: Roy Miller

    RDE: Daniel


    SLB: Adam Hayward

    MLB: Mason Foster

    WLB: Lavonte David

    CB: E.J. Biggers

    CB: Leonard Johnson

    SS: Mark Barron

    FS: Ronde Barber

    special teams

    PR: Roscoe Parrish

    KR: LeQuan Lewis

    PK: Connor Barth

    P/KO: Michael Koenen



    WR: Demaryius Thomas

    LT: Ryan Clady

    LG: Zane Beadles

    C: Don Koppen

    RG: Chris Kuper

    RT: Orlando Franklin

    TE: Jacob Tamme

    WR: Eric Decker

    QB: Peyton Manning

    RB: Knowshon Moreno

    WR: Brandon Stokley


    LDE: Derek Wolfe

    DT: Kevin Vickerson

    DT: Justin Bannan

    RDE: Elvis Dumervil

    SLB: Von Miller

    MLB: Keith Brooking

    WLB: Wesley Woodyard

    CB: Champ Bailey

    CB: Chris Harris

    SS: Mike Adams

    FS: Rahim Moore

    special teams

    PR: Trindon Holliday

    KR: Omar Bolden

    PK/KO: Matt Prater

    P: Britton Colquitt

    Stat pack

    4 p.m., Sports Authority Field, Denver | TV/radio: Ch. 13; 620-AM, 103.5-FM | Line, O/U: Broncos by 7½, 50½

    Rushing yards

    passing yards

    total yards

    Rushing yards allowed

    passing yards allowed

    total yards allowed



    81.5 (1st) 98.7 (9th)

    243.6 (13th) 287.5 (5th)

    315.5 (32nd) 209.6 (5th)

    365.3 (12th) 391.9 (4th)

    397.0 (30th) 308.3 (4th)

    Injury report

    BUCS — Probable: DE Michael Bennett (ankle), C Ted Larsen (illness), DT Roy Miller (illness), LB Dekoda Watson (hamstring).

    BRONCOS Questionable: DE Robert Ayers (not injury related), T Chris Clark (illness), WR Brandon Stokley (wrist, hip). Probable: TE Virgil Green (hamstring), DE Malik Jackson (finger), G Chris Kuper (ankle), CB Tracy Porter (illness), G Manny Ramirez (back), WR Demaryius Thomas (knee).

    The Bucs are 3-0 against the AFC West but today meet the pacesetter. The Broncos have won six straight and can clinch the division by beating the Bucs. Only once in that stretch, 17-9 against the Chiefs last week, have the Broncos scored fewer than 30 points.

    Broncos' top offensive player

    Quarterback Peyton Manning, right, has surpassed expectations coming off a career-threatening neck injury and is setting NFL records once again. Among the marks he has established this season is most 300-yard passing games (69).

    Broncos' top defensive player

    End Von Miller, left, was last season's defensive rookie of the year and hasn't let up in 2012. Third in the NFL with 14 sacks, Miller also is tied for first in the league with 24 tackles-for-loss.

    What the Broncos do best

    Denver throws the ball efficiently with a league-best 49 completions of 20 yards or longer and is tied (with the Bucs) for third in yards per pass attempt (8).

    How you beat the Broncos

    Time of possession is a major factor when the opposing quarterback is Peyton Manning. The Chiefs, behind a strong rushing performance, used a time-of-possession advantage to keep things close.

    The Bucs must avoid …

    He doesn't throw many interceptions (eight this season), but they are key against Peyton Manning. He has a modest .541 win percentage in games in which he has thrown one.


    Broncos 31, Bucs 26

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    Associated Press
    Friday, November 30, 2012

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Florida State has no option but to stop the option if the Seminoles want to win their 13th ACC title.

    Jimbo Fisher said Friday that the key to the Seminoles winning another ACC Championship Game and clinching an automatic bid to the Orange Bowl is shutting down Georgia Tech's triple-option offense.

    The 13th-ranked Seminoles (10-2, 7-1 ACC) are two-touchdown favorites over unranked Georgia Tech in tonight's matchup. Still, Fisher knows defending the Yellow Jackets' deceiving offense can be a monumental task if you're not properly prepared.

    The Yellow Jackets (6-6, 5-3) averaged 40 points per game during ACC play and their running game ranks third-best in Division I-A, averaging 323.3 yards per game.

    Fisher said his staff has devised a good game plan to stop it. But he's quick to point out it's difficult to simulate the speed of Georgia Tech's offense because it's so unorthodox.

    "It's hard to simulate," Fisher said. "It's one thing to do it in practice when you have your assignments, but we have to get used to the speed of it and how well they execute it. So it will be a huge challenge for us, no doubt."

    Whatever happens, both teams could be heading for a bowl game.

    This week, the NCAA granted Georgia Tech a waiver to ensure it would be bowl eligible even it loses and drops to 6-7.

    The Yellow Jackets hope they don't need the waiver. Whether they do could depend on the Seminoles' defense.

    Florida State ranks fourth in Division I-A against the run, allowing just 85.1 yards per game and a mere 2.7 yards per carry.

    But the Seminoles' task could be a little more difficult without defensive end Tank Carradine, their leading tackler, who'll miss the final two games of the season with a torn knee ligament. He led FSU with 80 tackles and was second on the team with 11 sacks.

    Even without Carradine, Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson said FSU has the best defensive line his team has faced this season. They are led by Bjoern Warner, the ACC defensive player of the year.

    "They're huge, and they've got a lot of them," Johnson said of FSU's defensive line rotation. "So they roll them and they play a lot of guys. It's going to be a huge challenge."

    Georgia Tech's leading rusher Orwin Smith did not play last week, and Johnson said he's doubtful for tonight, which could put more pressure on quarterback Tevin Washington. Washington has only thrown for seven touchdowns this season, but he leads the Yellow Jackets with 18 rushing TDs.

    Florida State and Georgia Tech have spent the week trying to forget about last week. Both teams suffered losses to rivals.

    Florida State's loss was particularly painful as they let a fourth-quarter lead slip away and lost to fourth-ranked Florida 37-26. But Fisher believes his team has bounced back with a good week of practice.

    "I think it hurt them, but I think they're ready to flush it because they understand what they have to accomplish and that's win a conference championship and still have a phenomenal year," Fisher said. "I look forward to them doing that."

    Georgia Tech was blown out by No. 3 Georgia 42-10. The Yellow Jackets defense has had its problems and Johnson said he's concerned about his special teams, which has given up a number of big plays.

    Today's state games

    UCF at Tulsa

    C-USA title, noon, Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, Okla. TV/radio: ESPN2; 1350-AM Line: Tulsa by 2 Weather: Mostly cloudy, low 70s, 20 percent chance of rain, wind 20- mph

    USF vs. Pittsburgh

    7, Raymond James Stadium TV/radio: ESPN2; 1010-AM, 98.7-FM Line: Pitt by 7 Weather: Clear, high 60s, no chance of rain

    Scouting reports, 4-5C

    No. 13 FSU vs. Ga. Tech

    ACC title, 8, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C. TV/radio: ESPN; 820-AM, 620-AM Line: FSU by 14 Weather: Clear, high 40s, no chance of rain


    SEC: No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Georgia, 4, Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ch. 10, 620-AM

    Big Ten: No. 14 Nebraska vs. Wisconsin, 8, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ch. 13, 1040-AM

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    Friday, November 30, 2012

    WASHINGTON — John Thompson III kept saying that he had never been a part of a game like the one he saw Friday. Then he finally thought of one.

    "I think I was 8," the Georgetown coach said. "Playing with St. Anthony's. The game ended 13-11."

    "I had 10," he added with a chuckle. "And we won that game, too."

    It's easier to laugh about it when you win, but there was no sugarcoating it: The No. 20 Hoyas' 37-36 win over Tennessee in the SEC/Big East Challenge was an offensive display of offensive basketball, and the coach knew it.

    "If you just look at the numbers and the stat sheet and say we won the game — before the game, I'd say you're crazy," Thompson said. "I'd think it's virtually impossible."

    It was Georgetown's worst scoring tally of the shot clock era, its lowest total since a 37-36 win over Southern Methodist in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 1985. It was Tennessee's second-lowest since the shot clock went into effect in the 1985-86 season, better only than in a 43-35 loss to Auburn in 1997.

    Tennessee also had the humility of being outscored by its 5-7 football team, which averaged 36.2 points this season.

    It was so bad even the free throws weren't falling. The teams combined to make just 7 of 20. The field-goal shooting was just as horrid, with the Vols hitting 33 percent and the Hoyas 36 percent. Georgetown's Mikael Hopkins missed three easy lay-ins and four free throws in the first 20 minutes.

    No player scored in double figures for either team. It was hard to believe it was the same Georgetown (5-1) that had a great stretch last week to move into the Top 25, beating then-No. 11 UCLA and losing in overtime to top-ranked Indiana on back-to-back nights.

    Neither team looked like a winner Friday. No one scored in the final four minutes. The winning basket — though no one could have imagined it at the time — was Markel Starks' jumper with 4:10 to play.

    No. 6 Syracuse 91, Ark. 82: James Southerland scored a career-high 35, including a career-best 9-for-13 on 3-pointers, for the visiting Orange (5-0).

    No. 10 Kansas 84, Oregon St. 78: Ben McLemore scored 21, Travis Releford added 20 and the host Jayhawks (6-1) held off repeated rallies by the Beavers.


    No. 1 Stanford 87, UC Davis, 38: Chiney Ogwumike had a career-high-tying 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the visiting Cardinal (7-0).

    No. 10 Cal 63, Old Dom. 47: Layushia Clarendon scored 15 and the Golden Bears (6-0) survived a scare in a sloppy road debut. California won despite committing 25 turnovers and missing 16 of 32 free throws.

    No. 13 Texas 79, Texas A&M-CC 30: Nneka Enemkpali tied a school record with her fifth consecutive double double as the host Longhorns (5-0) stifled winless Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Enemkpali had 11 points and 18 rebounds.


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    Times wires
    Friday, November 30, 2012

    SAN DIEGO — Christine Nairn's goal in the second minute of overtime lifted Penn State to a 2-1 victory Friday over Florida State in the first national semifinal of the women's NCAA soccer tournament.

    Tiffany McCarty had tied the match for FSU (20-4-1) with 36 seconds left in regulation, the second-latest tying goal in school history behind Tori Huster's last year with 28 seconds remaining against Virginia. Penn State (21-3-2) faces the Stanford-North Carolina winner in the championship match at 4 p.m. Sunday.

    FSU, UF, UT advance in volleyball: Florida State's Fatma Yildirim posted nine kills and the ninth-seeded Seminoles advanced out of the first round of the women's NCAA volleyball tournament with a 25-21, 25-10, 25-20 victory over Hofstra in Tallahassee. The Seminoles (28-3) play Purdue (22-10) at 4:30 p.m. today.

    In a first-round match in Gainesville, Florida (26-4) beat Tulsa 25-9, 25-21, 25-21. The 14th-seeded Gators advance to play the College of Charleston (27-7) at 7:30 tonight.

    In the Division II tournament, region host and top seed Tampa (29-3) beat Florida Southern 25-19, 25-17, 25-21 to advance to the third round against Palm Beach Atlantic (35-3) at 7 tonight.

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    By Rick Stroud, Times Staff Writer
    Friday, November 30, 2012

    TAMPA — Adam Hayward is delighted about his opportunity but disgusted his chance to play strongside linebacker for the Bucs came at the expense of a friend.

    Having started only six games over six seasons, Hayward entered the defensive huddle against San Diego on Nov. 11 as Quincy Black was leaving the field strapped to a backboard, carted away after a helmet-to-helmet collision with running back Ryan Mathews.

    As Hayward prepared to hurry off to a position meeting last week, Black's locker sat empty about 10 yards away. Black was placed on injured reserve two days after the Chargers game, still suffering from nerve damage that temporarily limited the use of his left arm.

    "This is a business where you have people get hurt all the time," Hayward said. "You're running full speed into another grown man. It's bound to happen. It's unfortunate to see stuff happen like it did to Quincy, especially since I've been around him six years.

    "He's like family. So to see that happen to him, it's hard. I still am dealing with it because you never know. That could be you."

    Every team deals with injuries in the meat grinder of football, a sport of attrition.

    But no roster might be more duct taped than the Bucs, who had a league-high $30.1 million of salary on injured reserve before offensive tackle Jeremy Trueblood ($4 million) and safety Cody Grimm ($490,000) were added last week with shoulder and hamstring injuries, respectively.

    The team coach Greg Schiano takes to Denver today is vastly different than the one he took to training camp. Ten players are on injured reserve, including Pro Bowl guards Davin Joseph (patellar tendon) and Carl Nicks (foot); starting defensive end Adrian Clayborn (knee), who led the team in sacks last season as a rookie with 71/2; receivers Arrelious Benn (knee) and Sammie Stroughter (foot); tight end Danny Noble (hamstring); and guard Desmond Wynn (undisclosed).

    The list of those missing doesn't include cornerbacks Aqib Talib (traded to New England) or Eric Wright (suspended four games for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy, which Wright blamed on Adderall).

    As Schiano is fond of saying, "Nobody cares."

    Retooling a team in transition, he has the Bucs at 6-5 and winners of five of their past seven.

    But does Schiano think about what might have been?

    "No," he said. "It's just that every waking moment is (spent trying) to win, and we're only going to win with the guys we have. Those other guys can't help us right now, so I just try to spend all my time trying to figure out a way as a staff how we can coach better. It's been interesting to see. Sometimes, until the opportunity comes, you don't know what a guy can do. Then all of a sudden, he gets a chance and he's a darn good player.

    "I see them how I want them to be, not how they are right now. I see them as being that starter, and a lot of times they live up to it."

    How a team copes with injuries can be the difference between winning and losing. In 2010, Green Bay won the Super Bowl despite losing 31 players (for a total of 206 games) to injury during the season. An NFC-high 15 players went on injured reserve.

    For Schiano, who coached the past 12 seasons at Rutgers, there's no 100-man roster to draw from like in college: just 53 active players and an eight-man practice squad. But there is the waiver wire, free agents and practice squads of other teams.

    "They're really different in the two games, college football and professional football," Schiano said. "It's a shame we've lost some of the guys we have. But it keeps you thinking that it's going to be good when we get them back. And these guys that now are getting reps are going to provide really good depth.

    "But we're about winning now. So whoever is playing now, you're the starter and we've got to get you playing as well as you can."

    Safety Ronde Barber, who has started 211 consecutive games, has avoided the injury land mines of the NFL for 16 seasons. But the league keeps spinning on its axis.

    "It's good and bad," Barber said. "It's bad because the guys you spent most of the year with, since March, are not available. That cuts into the continuity and the makeup. It's good in that other guys get opportunities. I know from personal experience that's the only way I got on the field — a player got hurt. I took advantage of that.

    "I remember guys telling me that, and I said, 'Bull, I'm never going to play.' But you're on the roster for a reason, and you're going to get a chance. There's always that silver lining, but it hurts when some of your best players aren't around. It's the same way in every sport. The game must go on. So whoever is next, step up."

    Rick Stroud can be heard from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-620.


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    By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer
    Friday, November 30, 2012

    TAMPA — As reputations go, USF could do worse than being a team that pulls out close wins down the stretch.

    For the second game in a row, the Bulls basketball team found itself tied with less than four minutes left and, as it did Monday at Stetson, USF pulled away Friday night, getting a 9-0 run en route to a 64-53 victory against Georgia in the SEC/Big East Challenge.

    "We won so many games like that in the past. That's probably going to be a signature for us," coach Stan Heath said. "It's kind of the way we play, with our goods and our bads. Fortunately for us, we have a really good point guard who makes good choices, makes good plays. … It's probably going to be a lot of those. Unfortunately, I'm going to age doing this. It's okay. I enjoy when we win."

    The biggest shot in the 9-0 run was an off-balance 3-pointer to beat the shot block by Victor Rudd, coming off point guard Anthony Collins' 10th assist of the night, that gave USF a 57-50 lead with 1:59 left. From there, the Bulls hit seven of eight free throws to close out the win before an announced crowd of 5,167 in the Sun Dome.

    "Rudd made a huge 3 there late in the game, which was a real dagger for us," Georgia coach Mark Fox said. "We couldn't get the stops we needed to get in the second half. "

    USF (5-2) had good offensive balance. Shaun Noriega, who finished with 15 points, hit three free throws to open USF's scoring, then nailed a 3-pointer with three seconds left for a 27-22 halftime lead. Another Noriega 3 had USF up 35-27, but Georgia (2-5) answered with an 8-0 run, and USF wouldn't lead by more than four until Rudd's big 3-pointer.

    "Vic's known to make those, going back to the NCAA Tournament last year," said Collins, who bounced back after sitting out Monday's game with a calf injury. "I gave him the ball, and he did the rest."

    Collins finished with 17 points and 10 assists, his third game with 10 or more assists in his past four games. Toarlyn Fitzpatrick had 13 points on 3-for-4 shooting on 3-pointers, and Rudd finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, including four of the game's five final boards.

    "I was mad at halftime. I only had one," Rudd said. "I said I'm going to get every one of them. It worked out in the end."

    Georgia, which got 19 points from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, had played close to top teams, losing by four to UCLA and by 13 to No. 1 Indiana.

    The Bulls, who have won three in a row, play perhaps their toughest game of the nonconference season Wednesday at Oklahoma State, then get 13 days off before returning home to face Youngstown State on Dec. 18.

    Greg Auman can be reached at auman@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3346. View his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/usf. Follow him on Twitter at @GregAuman.


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    By Gary Shelton, Times Sports Columnist
    Friday, November 30, 2012

    Any moment now, Tampa Bay fans might begin running through the streets screaming in terror. If they wish to wave their arms in desperation, that is understandable.

    After all, the Bucs play the Denver Broncos (gasp) today.

    Or is it the '85 Bears?

    Or the '72 Dolphins?

    Or the fifth century Huns?

    Whichever, things sure do seem to be hopeless around here. When you hear Tampa Bay fans talk about this game, they sound as if they were scheduled for surgery today. Dr. Manning performing, of course. It's like listening to the 301st Spartan moan about the odds waiting at Hell's Gate (the early version of Mile High).

    In other words, there aren't a lot of hopeful voices out there. That's a bit of a surprise. If nothing else, this Bucs team has managed to play everyone close this year. Their five losses have all been by a touchdown or less. Not only that, but Peyton Manning isn't the first good passer they have faced.

    So why doesn't anyone seem to think the Bucs have a puncher's chance in this game? Since when did the Broncos become the impossible dream?

    It is the darndest thing because the general buzz about the Bucs has been so good. They play hard, they have young talent, and yes, you have to admire all of those toes on all of those lines.

    Still, there is a difference between pluck and power, and no one seems convinced that the Bucs have made it to the top shelf of NFL teams yet.

    Let's agree on this. The Broncos are a good football team. Manning is in the conversation of history's best quarterbacks. The Broncos are fourth in the league on offense and fourth on defense, and Manning has a rating of 104.8, his highest since 2004. Lately, Denver has been playing as if it may never lose again. Ever.

    Yes, the Broncos are very good.

    No, it is not time for the Bucs to surrender.

    Yeah, yeah. If you're asking, well, I'd pick the Broncos, too. After all, the strength of Denver's team is the forward pass, which, unfortunately, is matched up against the weaknesses of the Bucs. Most quarterbacks, including Peyton's little brother, Eli, have taken the Bucs cornerbacks to the shredder all season.

    That said, Denver has lost three games this year, which means that if this was college football, the Broncos would be all fired up about the upcoming Peach Bowl. (Granted, those losses were to the Falcons, the Texans and the Patriots, all A-list opponents). Other teams have scored touchdowns in Denver. Every now and then, other teams have actually forced punts. If the Bucs win, it would be an upset, but it wouldn't be a miracle.

    So how can the Bucs win?

    First of all, Doug Martin has to have a terrific game. The Broncos are 20th against the run, which means the Bucs' patchwork line — which has finally shown how much it misses Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph the past couple of weeks — has to create enough holes for Martin to break a run or two.

    They need turnovers. Yes, that's part of every underdog's game plan, but it's true. The Bucs need a blocked kick or an interception or a fumble. Remember when Eli Manning kept throwing to Bucs cornerbacks earlier this year? The Bucs need that to be a family tradition.

    They need some offense of their own. It might take 30 points to win this plus about 35 minutes of possession time.

    Then there is this: The Bucs need to disrespect a national monument. They need to knock Peyton Manning down as often as possible, even when the Broncos are on defense. Maybe even during the coin flip.

    This is going to be difficult because Manning always has been hard to sack, and face it, the Bucs' pass rush hasn't been close enough to a quarterback this year to even ask for his autograph.

    How good is Manning? Think of it like this. If he wins Sunday, he will be 80 games above .500 as a starting quarterback. Eighty. That's why opponents seem to swoon when they are in the guy's presence.

    In other words, yeah, the Bucs have an imposing task in front of them. On the other hand, if you are still waiting for that signature win, if you need a victory over a name-brand opponent before you buy into this turnaround, well, today would go a long way toward convincing the doubters.

    As far as after the game? No one is going to mind if Bucs players ask Manning for his autograph.

    Not if they can manage a signature win first.

    Listen to Gary Shelton weekdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on 98.7-FM the Fan.

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    Friday, November 30, 2012

    DETROIT — Quarterback Jordan Lynch ran for three touchdowns, including a 2-yarder in the second overtime, and cornerback's Demetrius Stone's interception in the end zone gave No. 19 Northern Illinois a 44-37 win over No. 18 Kent State in a stirring Mid-American Conference Championship Game on Friday.

    Both teams were hoping a win would boost them into the top 16 of the BCS rankings and give them a berth in one of the marquee bowls. Northern Illinois (12-1) dominated for much of the night, but the Golden Flashes (11-2) tied it at 34 in the final minute of regulation.

    Kent State trailed 27-13 in the fourth before scoring two touchdowns in a 15-second span.

    After the teams traded field goals in the first overtime, Northern Illinois needed only two plays to reach the end zone. A 23-yard run by Akeem Daniels set up Lynch's final TD.

    Kent State reached the 9, but on fourth down, Spencer Keith had to scramble to his right and throw a pass that was picked off by Stone in the end zone.

    Obituary: Dean Brown, a starting tackle on Notre Dame's 1988 national championship team, died Thursday at the Cleveland Clinic. He was 44. Mr. Brown went to the hospital with upper respiratory illness, his brother said, and doctors later said a blood clot caused his death.

    Big Ten title game: Wisconsin and No. 14 Nebraska likely will play tonight's championship game in front of at least a few empty seats in Indianapolis. A little more than 24 hours before kickoff, thousands of tickets remained unsold and Big Ten officials were already saying they didn't anticipate selling all of them.

    Military Bowl: San Jose State accepted an invitation to the Dec. 27 bowl at RFK Stadium in Washington, and the Mid-American Conference announced that it reached an agreement with the bowl for one of its teams to be in the game Dec. 27. This year's game was supposed to be Army against an ACC team, but Army isn't eligible, and the ACC has only six bowl-eligible teams.

    Georgia State: Trent Miles is leaving Indiana State to replace Bill Curry, 70, who is retiring.

    Missouri: Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson will skip his final season of eligibility to enter the NFL draft.

    Porn case dismissed: Todd Hoffner, coach at Minnesota State-Mankato, said he was "thankful to be waking up from this nightmare" when a judge dismissed the case in which the 46-year-old was accused of child pornography involving his own children. The judge agreed with his assertion that innocent family videos had been misinterpreted. He had been escorted off a practice field and arrested in August after a university employee came across cellphone videos of his children dancing and playing naked.

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    By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
    Friday, November 30, 2012

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays opted to keep Ryan Roberts as part of their infield mix and Burke Badenhop in their bullpen, but they declined to tender a contract to outfielder Ben Francisco by Friday's midnight deadline.

    Francisco, who hit .228 in 24 games after being acquired Aug. 31 from Houston, made $1.54 million and was projected to make close to $2 million. With the free agent loss of B.J. Upton, the Rays are looking for another outfielder.

    Roberts appeared to be a candidate to be nontendered. He hit .214 in 60 games after being acquired July 24, made $2.01 million and is in line for an increase to around $3 million. The Rays haven't set their plans for the middle infield, but one scenario is that Ben Zobrist stays at shortstop and Roberts plays second.

    Badenhop, who made $1.075 million last season while pitching in 66 games with a 3.03 ERA, is projected for an increase to around $1.6 million.

    As expected, the Rays tendered contracts to American League Cy Young Award winner David Price, right-hander Jeff Niemann, outfielders Sam Fuld and Matt Joyce, and infielder Sean Rodriguez. Among players nontendered by other teams who could interest the Rays: first baseman Mark Reynolds (Orioles) and first baseman/DH Dan Johnson (White Sox).

    Home for Maddon project: Manager Joe Maddon was in his hometown, Hazleton, Pa., for a landmark development with his Hazleton Integration Project: the purchase of a building that will become the Hazleton One Community Center. "Obviously it's a big first step," he said by phone. "It's outstanding … how far we've come in such a short period of time." Maddon and project organizers plan for the center eventually to be the site for athletics, academics, adult education and activities such as drama, cooking and music. Maddon is working to help the large Hispanic contingent in Hazleton become more assimilated in the community.

    Around the league: Philip Humber, who pitched a perfect game in April for the White Sox, was picked off waivers by the Astros and agreed to a one-year contract for $800,000. The right-hander, 29, was 5-5 with a 6.44 ERA in 26 appearances last season (16 starts). … The Giants didn't tender a contract to closer Brian Wilson. … The Braves shipped injury-troubled pitcher Tommy Hanson to the Angels for former closer Jordan Walden, clearing a rotation spot for Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado or another young starter. Also, they nontendered pitcher Jair Jurrjens, a 2011 All-Star demoted to the minors last season.

    Reports: mets, Wright agree to biggest deal: David Wright and the Mets agreed to an eight-year, $138 million contract extension, the largest guarantee in team history, reports said. Wright, a six-time All-Star third baseman and the team career leader in hits and RBIs, must pass a physical to complete the deal, which surpasses Johan Santana's six-year, $137.5 million contract. The deal runs through 2020, when Wright will be 38.

    Report: Manny tested positive for testosterone: The substance that caused Manny Ramirez to test positive for a banned substance while with the Rays in April 2011 was testosterone, the Associated Press reported. He retired rather than face a 100-game suspension for his second failed drug test but changed his mind that December. After signing a minor-league deal with Oakland this year, Ramirez, 40, asked to be released in June without reaching the majors.

    Poll says no 2013 Hall for Big 3: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa don't have enough votes to get into the Hall of Fame next year, according to an Associated Press poll of Baseball Writers' Association of America voters. With steroid scandals still on the minds of association members, who vote for the Hall, the trio failed to muster 50 percent support among 112 voters contacted, nearly one-fifth of the eligible voters. Candidates need 75 percent for election.

    Park retires: Chan Ho Park, the first South Korean-born player in the majors and a 2001 All-Star, announced his retirement. Park, 39, holds the major-league record for wins by an Asian pitcher (124).

    Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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    Times staff
    Saturday, December 1, 2012

    The Tampa Bay Rays traded RHP Burke Badenhop to the Milwaukee Brewers for minor league outfielder Raul Mondesi Jr.

    Mondesi, 20, played this season with rookie-level Helena of the Pioneer League in rightfield and centerfield. In 68 games played, he hit .231 with five home runs, 32 RBI, 12 doubles, six triples and eight stolen bases. The right-handed hitter signed with the Brewers on June 23, 2010 out of the Dominican Republic. His father, Raul Mondesi, hit 271 home runs over 13 major league seasons from 1993 to 2005.

    Badenhop, 29, a reliever, played one season for the Rays, his first full year in the majors.

    He was 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA and made 66 appearances. The Rays acquired him from the Miami Marlins on Dec. 12, 2011 in exchange for minor league catcher Jake Jefferies.

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    Times wires
    Saturday, December 1, 2012

    TULSA, Okla. — UCF will head to the Big East next season without another Conference USA championship.

    Alex Singleton ran for 100 yards and plunged over the top for a 1-yard score in overtime to lift Tulsa to a 33-27 victory over the Knights on Saturday for its first C-USA title and Liberty Bowl bid since 2005.

    UCF (9-4) will play in the Dec. 21 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl in St. Petersburg, against an opponent still to be determined.

    "We're both the best in the conference and it showed," UCF offensive lineman Jordan Rae said. "They made a couple more plays than we did. You have to give them credit."

    After Cory Dorris blocked Shawn Moffitt's 38-yard field goal on UCF's possession to start overtime, Tulsa (10-3) won it with five straight runs.

    "We didn't make plays when we needed to, both on offense and defense. It came down to one more stop or us putting the ball in the end zone one more time," said running back Latavius Murray, who became the first UCF player to rush for touchdowns in eight straight games in a single season. That is tied for the second-best active streak in Division I-A, behind Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein.

    Tulsa's Trey Watts was named MVP after rushing for 134 yards and making the play of the game, surprising UCF by picking up a punt that appeared to be rolling dead and returning it 54 yards for a touchdown to tie it at 27 with 5:06 remaining. Watt is the son of former Oklahoma quarterback and congressman J.C. Watts.

    Knights coach George O'Leary said players told him they thought they heard a whistle to stop the play, but said that was no excuse.

    Blake Bortles threw for 194 yards and a pair of 8-yard touchdown passes to Breshad Perriman and Quincy McDuffie for UCF. He also ran for 60 yards and another score.

    "It's very disappointing, to come that far, have it down in overtime, miss the field goal and have them score a touchdown," Murray said. "We just have to do what we have to do and make sure we win the bowl game."

    In overtime, Tulsa limited Murray to short gains and forced an incompletion, leading to the blocked field goal.

    It was the third time the teams have met in the C-USA title game since 2005. Tulsa won it in 2005, with the Knights taking the crown in 2007. The Golden Hurricane took the rubber match by winning the second meeting between the teams at H.A. Chapman Stadium in three weeks.

    "It's tough. We gave it our best and we came up short," Rae said. "They beat us on one extra play."

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    Times staff
    Saturday, December 1, 2012

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