World Cup Viewer’s Guide: USA ready to play, injuries abound
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The first World Cup in the Middle East finally began Sunday night with a flashy opening ceremony and a match between Qatar and Ecuador without any beer for sale in the stadium. Two of the best players in the world were ruled out of the tournament with injuries before it even began. France striker Karim Benzema is out after hurting his left thigh and Senegal forward Sadio Mane has a leg injury. Monday’s matches consist of the United States against Wales, England versus Iran and the Netherlands facing Senegal. Eight of the 13 team captains of European nations have planned to wear “One Love” armbands promoting inclusivity but they could face penalties for breaking rules regarding FIFA-issued uniforms.
Top 25 Takeaways: Contenders live on edge, where TCU thrives
College Football Playoff contenders lived on the edge in Week 12, with the top four teams all teetering to varying degrees and at various points. That was before No. 5 Tennessee went down with a thud. For No. 4 TCU, it was just another Saturday. TCU and No. 3 Michigan both needed field goals in the final second to stay unbeaten. No. 1 Georgia slogged through a road game against Kentucky. No. 2 Ohio State trailed at halftime against Maryland before closing it out. Among the blue bloods vying for a spot in the CFP, the Horned Frogs may be the outliers but they are without question worthy.
No. 7 USC outlasts No. 16 UCLA to reach Pac-12 title game
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Caleb Williams passed for a career-high 470 yards, Austin Jones rushed for a season-high 120 yards and seventh-ranked Southern California clinched a spot in the Pac-12 championship game with a 48-45 victory over No. 16 UCLA. Williams also rushed for 32 yards and finished with 503 yards of total offense. The Trojans had a season-high 648 yards of total offense and took advantage of four Bruins turnovers. Dorian Thompson-Robinson accounted for all six UCLA touchdowns but also had three interceptions and a fumble. Thompson-Robinson was 23 of 38 for 309 yards and passed for four touchdowns. He rushed for 75 yards and two scores.
South Carolina runs over No. 5 Tennessee 63-38; Hooker hurt
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Spencer Rattler had the best day of his unpredictable career, throwing for 438 yards and six touchdowns as South Carolina beat No. 5 Tennessee 63-38 on Saturday night, all but eliminating the Volunteers from the playoffs. Tennessee may have also lost Heisman Trophy candidate Hendon Hooker, who left the game in the fourth quarter with a leg injury, falling and fumbling without being hit. Even before the injury, the quarterback of the night was Rattler. The junior was patient in the pocket, dropping passes into the narrowest of windows. Hooker hurt his leg while running without being hit in the fourth quarter and did not return to the game.
No. 1 Georgia tops Kentucky, goes unbeaten in SEC again
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kenny McIntosh rushed for a career-best 143 yards, including a crucial 9-yard score late in the third quarter, and top-ranked Georgia withstood Kentucky’s fourth-quarter rally Saturday for a 16-6 win and its second consecutive unbeaten season in the Southeastern Conference. The Bulldogs clinched the Eastern Division title last week and sought another perfect finish in league play. They succeeded, but not without difficulty as they had to settle for three Jack Podlesny field goals before McIntosh’s TD provided a needed cushion. McIntosh rushed 19 times with a 26-yarder for the Bulldogs, who outgained Kentucky 365-297.
McIlroy clinches Race to Dubai title as Rahm wins in UAE
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Rory McIlroy finished the year as Europe’s top-ranked golfer for the fourth time – and first since 2015 – despite Jon Rahm winning the DP World Tour Championship. The Spaniard’s two-shot victory over England’s Tyrrell Hatton and Sweden’s Alex Noren was his third in six years at Jumeirah Golf Estates. But McIlroy finished the season top of the DP World rankings after Matt Fitzpatrick, his only rival for the Harry Vardon Trophy, blew up around the turn.
Champion Verstappen ends F1 season with 15th win
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Max Verstappen won a record-extending 15th race of the year at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday to conclude one of the most dominant seasons in Formula One history. There was little drama at the Yas Marina Circuit a year after it saw Verstappen’s tense and controversial win over Lewis Hamilton to seal his first title. Verstappen stayed ahead of his teammate Sergio Perez at the start and was never seriously challenged after that on his way to the win. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc held off Perez’s challenge on old tires to finish second and clinch second place in the championship standings.
FIFA revenue hits $7.5B for current World Cup period
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — FIFA says it has earned record revenues of $7.5 billion in the four years of commercial deals tied to the World Cup in Qatar. FIFA revealed its earnings to officials from more than 200 of its members. It is $1 billion more than income from the previous commercial cycle linked to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The extra income comes despite FIFA helping its members through the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when most national team soccer was shut down.
No. 4 TCU still undefeated after game-ending FG at Baylor
WACO, Texas (AP) — Griffin Kell kicked a 40-yard field goal on the final play of the game, and fourth-ranked TCU remained undefeated with a 29-28 win at Baylor. The Horned Frogs scored nine points in the final 2:07 to avoid another potential playoff-busting loss on the banks of the Brazos River. Emari Demercardo scored on a 3-yard TD run to get the 11-0 Frogs within 28-26, but he was unable to pull in a pass on the 2-point conversion attempt. After kicking deep, TCU used all three of its timeouts while forcing a three-and-out, and it got the ball back with 1:34 left at its 31. Nine plays later, Kell made the game-ending kick.
US returns to World Cup against Wales after 8-year wait
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Gio Reyna, Joe Scally and Yusuf Musah were 11 years old the last time the United States took the field in a World Cup match. On the 3,066th day after that loss in Brazil, the Americans return to soccer’s showcase with a new-look team dreaming lofty goals. Filled with novelty, nerves and naivety, the U.S. takes the field against Wales on Monday night. A Friday match against England follows and group play ends Nov. 29 against Iran.