The winner of the 75th Heisman Trophy was announced Saturday in New York City and running back Mark Ingram took home college football's most prestigious honor, becoming Alabama's first winner in the program's storied history. It was the closest voting ever for the award, as Ingram edged Stanford running back Toby Gerhart by just 28 points. Texas quarterback Colt McCoy finished third, Nebraska defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh fourth and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow fifth. Ingram becomes the third consecutive sophomore to capture the award, joining Tebow, the 2007 winner, and Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, last year's recipient. Ingram amassed 1,542 yards and 15 touchdowns on 249 attempts, helping the Crimson Tide go 13-0 and advance to the BCS title game against Texas. Ingram was the first Alabama player to be a Heisman finalist since quarterback Jay Barker in 1994; no player from the school had ever finished higher than third in the voting.
The University of Kansas will reportedly name Buffalo head coach Turner Gill the next top man of the Jayhawks' football program in the coming days. The Lawrence Journal-World confirmed the forthcoming announcement, which was first reported by Yahoo! Sports. It states no deal has yet been signed. Gill amassed a 20-30 record in four seasons at Buffalo, turning around a program that had only five total wins in the four years prior to his arrival. He earned MAC Coach of the Year honors in 2007 after leading Buffalo to a 5-7 mark, which at the time was the program's best season in its FBS history. The overall win total was the most by the program since moving up to Division I-A in 1999. The following year was Gill's finest, as the Bulls went 8-5 and notched a signature 42-24 victory against previously unbeaten Ball State in the MAC Championship. The Cardinals were ranked No. 12 at the time, and the win helped Buffalo earn its first ever bowl appearance -- a 38-20 loss to Connecticut in the International Bowl. The 47-year-old Gill will supplant Mark Mangino, whose tenure as Kansas head coach came to a tumultuous end earlier this month. Mangino resigned his position after an internal review commenced looking into alleged verbal and physical abuse of players.
Ricky Dobbs threw for one touchdown and ran one in to set a single-season record for a quarterback, as Navy took a 17-3 win over Army in the 110th edition of the battle between the military academies. Dobbs had 113 yards on 33 carries and went 3-for-7 with 61 yards and a pick while Marcus Curry caught the lone score for the Midshipmen (9-4), who have won eight straight against Army. Dobbs set an NCAA single-season record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 24. Trent Steelman went 7-for-20 with 77 yards and added 16 rushing yards while Alejandro Villanueva had five catches for 62 yards for the Black Knights (5-7), who had won their previous two games and saw their last chance for a bowl game slip away. Navy is headed to the Texas Bowl to play Missouri on December 31 in Houston. Army would have gone to the EagleBank Bowl to battle Temple on December 29. Instead, UCLA will play the Owls at RFK Memorial Stadium in the nation's capital.
Jabin Sambrano's 25-yard touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter lifted the Montana Grizzlies over the Appalachian State Mountaineers, 24-17, in the snowy semifinals of the FCS playoffs. Chase Reynolds rushed for 193 yards and two scores on 23 carries for the Grizzlies (14-0), who were making their second straight semifinal appearance and sixth since 2000. Andrew Selle completed 11- of-27 passes for 161 yards, a touchdown and an interception for Montana, which will play in the championship game next Friday against Villanova, which won, 14-13, over William & Mary on Friday.
With just four weeks left in the regular season, several teams can secure playoff berths Sunday in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints will try to push their records to 13-0.
The Colts, who have already won the AFC South, can secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a victory at home over the Broncos. Denver enters the day 8-4, a game behind San Diego in the AFC West. The Colts have won 21 straight regular season games and can surpass the record set by New England (2006-08) for the longest such streak in league history. Additionally, Peyton Manning (49,313) needs just 13 passing yards to surpass Warren Moon into fourth place all-time.
The NFC South champion Saints have a road game against the Falcons, who at 6-6 are fighting for their playoff lives. New Orleans, coming off a dramatic 33-30 overtime rally against Washington last week, can secure a first-round bye in the playoffs with a victory.
A win by Cincinnati at Minnesota or loss by the Ravens vs. Detroit will put the Bengals in the postseason for just the second time since 1991 and give them the AFC North crown. Meanwhile, the Vikings, coming off a loss at Arizona Sunday night, can secure the NFC North with a win plus a loss by Green Bay at Chicago. A win and the Vikings are in the playoffs.
San Diego plays at Dallas with a chance for the Chargers to secure a postseason berth, but they'll need help elsewhere. The Chargers are riding a seven-game winning streak and will play a team that hasn't fared well in December, although the Cowboys enter the day 8-4 in the NFC East and are tied with the Eagles atop the division. Dallas hasn't posted a winning record in December since 2001 and lost three of four games during the month last season to miss out on the NFC Playoffs with a 9-7 record. Since quarterback Tony Romo has become the team's full-time signal-caller in 2006, the Cowboys have gone just 5-9 in December.
The Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills entered this 2009 season believing they had their franchise quarterbacks in place, but both teams now find themselves concerned about their long-term outlook at the position heading into this Sunday's meeting at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs acted boldly in the offseason, acquiring Matt Cassel in a trade with the New England Patriots, then locked up Tom Brady's former understudy with an eye-opening six-year, $63-million contract in July. It's an investment the team could be second-guessing in hindsight, with Cassel having struggled so far to live up to his new deal and duplicate the strong numbers he delivered upon replacing an injured Brady last year.
The low point of Cassel's debut season in Kansas City occurred last Sunday, when the 27-year-old was benched by rookie head coach Todd Haley late in the third quarter of the Chiefs' embarrassing 44-13 home loss to division-rival Denver. Before being yanked in favor of backup Brodie Croyle, Cassel completed only 10-of-29 passes for a mere 84 yards and was intercepted twice.
The change was only a temporary one, however, as Haley stated immediately following the game that Cassel will remain the starter.
Trent Edwards hasn't been so fortunate. The Bills expected the third-year pro to take a big step forward in his development this season, but he's instead regressed and wound up losing his starting position to journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick in a shakeup by interim head coach Perry Fewell, who supplanted noted Edwards supporter Dick Jauron following the latter's firing in mid- November.
While the insertion of Fitzpatrick may have met the approval of self-serving wide receiver Terrell Owens, the former St. Louis and Cincinnati second- stringer hasn't provided much of a spark to Buffalo's floundering offense. He was especially ineffective in the Bills' 19-13 setback to the New York Jets in Week 13, mustering a paltry 93 yards with an interception on 9-of-23 passing.
The loss was Buffalo's second in three games under Fewell, and the team's fourth in its last five outings overall. With a defeat in one of their four remaining regular-season matchups, the Bills will have secured a fifth consecutive losing campaign.
At 3-9, Kansas City is already resigned to a third straight losing season and has been overmatched in its two most recent tests, falling to fellow AFC West members San Diego and Denver by a combined score of 87-27. The Chiefs had posted back-to-back victories prior to that pair of games, however, including a startling 27-24 overtime besting of reigning Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh in Arrowhead Stadium during Week 11.
That win was only Kansas City's first in six home tilts in 2009, though, and the team has come up short in 11 of its last 12 games as the host.
Two of the top running backs in the league will be on display at LP Field this Sunday, when NFL leading rusher Chris Johnson leads the Tennessee Titans against Steven Jackson and the St. Louis Rams.
Johnson leads the NFL in both rushing yards (1,509) and yards per game (125.8) on the ground, and sits second behind Jackson with 244 carries. In his second year out of East Carolina, Johnson uses his speed and quickness to his advantage, as evidenced by his seven straight games with at least 100 rushing yards. He is the main reason why the Titans' playoff hopes are still intact, although those aspirations took a hit following this past Sunday's loss to the unbeaten Indianapolis Colts.
The 5-7 Titans entered last week's AFC South showdown at Lucas Oil Stadium on a five-game winning streak, but suffered a 27-17 setback to the division-rival Colts. Johnson ended with 113 yards on 27 carries, marking the sixth time this season he has toted the football 20 or more times. He matched the NFL mark held by Earl Campbell (1980) and Eric Dickerson (1984) by running for at least 125 yards in his sixth straight game in a win over Arizona the previous week, but his hopes of owning the record himself were dashed in Indianapolis. He did, however, tie Campbell's franchise mark of 100 rushing yards or more in seven straight contests.
Tennessee's 0-6 start may be too steep to overcome, as it's among several teams in the hunt for an AFC Wild Card berth. Baltimore, Miami, New York and Pittsburgh are all 6-6, while the Titans and Houston Texans sit a game off the pace. Johnson can not lead the Titans to the postseason alone, he will need help from quarterback Vince Young and several teams around the league. Either way, Titans head coach Jeff Fisher will be relying on an effective ground and ball control to keep postseason hopes alive. He'll have the home crowd on his side this week as Tennessee kicks off a three-game homestand.
The Rams are trying to go by a similar philosophy, but unfortunately have more problems than the Titans. Head coach Steve Spagnuolo fell to 1-11 in his first season at the helm after last Sunday's 17-9 loss to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in which Jackson compiled 112 yards on 28 carries. Jackson has reached the century mark in five of his last six contests but had a four-game touchdown streak come to an end.
St. Louis played solid defense in the Windy City, but it didn't correlate into any success on an offense which mustered just three field goals and got poor play from quarterback Kyle Boller.
The Sunday night contest will be a pivotal battle in the NFC East, as the Giants look for revenge after being pummeled in Philadelphia, 40-17, on November 1. The Giants come into Sunday with a 7-5 mark, a game behind the Eagles and Cowboys, who are tied atop the division. The Eagles are riding a three-game winning streak, while the Giants beat Dallas last weekend.