NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Trevor Knight's final start as a freshman sent Oklahoma's expectations soaring into 2014 while bringing a sour end to AJ McCarron's otherwise charmed Alabama career.
Knight completed a Sugar Bowl-record 32 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns, and No. 11 Oklahoma took down the third-ranked Crimson Tide, 45-31.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops declined to announce a starting quarterback before the game, and when Knight took the field on the Sooners' first possession, Alabama's defenders couldn't have anticipated what was in store.
Knight's completion percentage entering the game was 52.2. He had completed 47 passes all season, before a breakout performance in which two of his TDs went for more than 40 yards.
Oklahoma (11-2) needed him to play that well in the 80th Sugar Bowl, the first in which quarterbacks for both teams threw for more than 300 yards.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - Bill O'Brien inherited a Penn State program rocked by scandal, on the cusp of crippling sanctions, and staring at a murky future. All he ever really cared about was making the Nittany Lions winners.
O'Brien succeeded against heavy odds, overcoming a lack of scholarships, a bowl ban, and player defections. He leaves the program on stable ground after bolting Happy Valley for the NFL and the Houston Texans.
O'Brien left the Nittany Lions less than two years after replacing Joe Paterno, returning to the NFL to coach the team with the league's worst record this season.
Penn State planned to act fast to find his successor, naming defensive line coach Larry Johnson the interim head coach while the search for a replacement goes on.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - The Buccaneers say Lovie Smith is the ideal man to coach Tampa Bay.
The team made it official, announcing the one-time Tony Dungy protege who led the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl seven years ago finalized a five-year contract that he had reportedly agreed to on Wednesday. He will be formally introduced at a news conference next Monday.
The 55-year-old Smith replaces Greg Schiano, who was fired Monday following a 4-12 finish. The Bucs also dismissed general manager Mark Dominik, and the search for his successor continues.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) - If the Bears make changes this offseason, it will not be at quarterback.
Chicago signed Jay Cutler to a seven-year contract, ending speculation they might make a change after five seasons of good and bad from their talented signal-caller. Cutler clearly thrived under first-year coach Marc Trestman and now has some of the best complements on offense he's had since arriving in Chicago in 2009.
The Bears also signed cornerback Tim Jennings, who has led the team in interceptions in each of the past two seasons, and guard Matt Slauson to four-year deals. Like Cutler, both players were scheduled to become free agents.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Former Minnesota punter Chris Kluwe says his special teams coordinator made anti-gay comments while Kluwe was with the Vikings, an allegation the coach ''vehemently denies.''
In an article posted on the website Deadspin, Kluwe wrote that coach Mike Priefer made several anti-gay comments in objection to Kluwe's outspoken opposition of an anti-gay marriage amendment in Minnesota.
Kluwe also says former Vikings coach Leslie Frazier and current general manager Rick Spielman encouraged him to tone down his rhetoric in an effort to reduce distractions to the team. At the same time, Kluwe said, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf expressed support for Kluwe's championing of gay rights.
Hours later, Priefer issued a statement disputing Kluwe's portrayal of the events.
NEW YORK (AP) - The Los Angeles Sparks' ownership group has given up control of the franchise.
WNBA President Laurel Richie told The Associated Press that Sparks chairman Paula Madison informed the league right before Christmas that her family-owned company would no longer be involved with the team.
Madison said in a phone conversation that the team had lost $12 million since she took over ownership in 2007, including 1.4 million this past year and her family couldn't sustain the losses any more.
All Sparks front office personnel, including the team's president and general manager, were laid off on New Year's Eve via e-mail. The players, including star Candace Parker, and coaching staff have already been paid and their benefits will continue to be taken care of by the league.
The move comes after a banner year for the WNBA with attendance and viewership both up.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Candace Parker didn't think much about having her jersey retired when she played at Tennessee, saying she was more concerned about putting national championship banners in the Thompson-Boling Arena rafters.
Now she has both.
Parker, who led Tennessee to national titles in 2007 and 2008, had her No. 3 jersey retired before the fifth-ranked Lady Vols lost to No. 16 LSU.
Parker, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and the reigning WNBA most valuable player, joined Tennessee coach Holly Warlick, Lady Vols head coach emeritus Pat Summitt for the midcourt ceremony.
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