BLACKSBURG, Va., Dec. 2 (UPI) -- The unbeaten Miami Hurricanes will play for the national championship of college football on the third day of the new year against whatever team is left standing.
Prior to the Thanksgiving weekend, that team seemed likely to be Nebraska. Then it appeared to be Oklahoma. But going into Saturday's round of action, Florida was the frontrunner. And then it was Texas.
And now, after a bizarre series of upsets, it might be Nebraska again. Or Tennessee. Or maybe Oregon.
Even Miami's position in the Rose Bowl was hanging in the balance Saturday when Virginia Tech scored late in the game to draw within two points. But Ernest Wilford dropped a two-point conversion pass that would have tied the score and Miami's Edward Reed intercepted a pass minutes later to seal a 26-24 victory for the Hurricanes.
Miami's position in the national championship game will be made official when the final Bowl Championship Series rankings are released Dec. 9.
But the question is who will be No. 2?
Florida was No. 2 going into Saturday's action, but the Gators were shocked by the Tennessee Volunteers, 34-32. That put Texas in position for a berth in the title game, but the Longhorns fell to Colorado in the Big 12 Conference championship contest, 39-37. Texas quarterback Chris Simms threw three interceptions and fumbled once with all of those turnovers leading to Colorado touchdowns in the first half.
Nebraska, beaten by Colorado a week ago, was fourth in the BCS ratings prior to the weekend and could wind up playing for the national championship even though it lost its last regular-season game. But Oregon was only marginally behind Nebraska in the rankings and the Ducks could move into the No. 2 position thanks to its 17-14 win over Oregon State.
Those who study the BCS rankings feel, however, that Tennessee has an excellent chance of moving into the No. 2 spot after going into the weekend at No. 6. Tennessee's strength of schedule rating will improve dramatically now that it has played Florida.
The BCS ratings will be released Monday.
Jordan to have knees examined
WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- The Washington Wizards announced after Saturday night's loss to the Orlando Magic that Michael Jordan will go to Chicago today to have his aching knees examined by Dr. John Heffron, the former team physician of the Chicago Bulls.
"I'm going to see Dr. Heffron and make sure it's nothing other than tendinitis and some swelling," Jordan said.
Jordan scored just 15 points Saturday night. He missed nine of his last 10 shots and sat out the final 3:50 with the game still somewhat in the balance.
"Obviously, I felt it on my lift on my shot more than anything," he said.
Jordan, 38, is bothered by tendinitis in both knees but primarily the right knee, which he said he hyperextended in training camp.
Raptors win fourth straight
ATLANTA, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Hakeem Olajuwon's jumper with 1.8 seconds to play capped a wild finish Saturday and gave the Toronto Raptors their fourth straight victory, 104-103 over the Atlanta Hawks.
The 38-year-old center's winning shot marked the sixth lead change of the final two minutes and came after Nazr Mohammed had given the Hawks the lead with two free throws with 3.9 seconds to go.
Alvin Williams threw a bullet inbounds pass from half-court to Olajuwon on the low left block. Olajuwon spun toward the baseline and lofted one of his familiar fadeaway jumpers over Mohammed, silencing the crowd of 18,628 at Philips Arena.
Other NBA results: Boston 105, New Jersey 98 in overtime; Orlando 96, Washington 87; Cleveland 93, Charlotte 81; Detroit 100, New York 97; Philadelphia 93, Chicago 76; San Antonio 85, Houston 75; Indiana 100, Utah 97; Phoenix 97, Portland 83; Dallas 111, Golden State 82; Los Angeles Lakers 102, Minnesota 76.
Devils cool off Red Wings
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Jason Arnott collected two goals and an assist and Martin Brodeur stopped 16 shots Saturday night as the New Jersey Devils cooled off the Detroit Red Wings, 4-1, in the finale of a home-and-home series.
New Jersey won for just the second win in 11 games.
The three-point effort came one night after New Jersey coach Larry Robinson reunited the "A Line" of Arnott, Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora. Arnott lifted the Devils into a 1-1 tie late in the first period, set up Jay Pandolfo's insurance goal midway through the second and capped the scoring on the power play less than three minutes later.
Rookie Andreas Salomonsson got the eventual game-winner for New Jersey, which broke a three-game home losing streak.
Rookie Pavel Datsyuk scored 9:07 into the first period to put Detroit in front, but the league-leading Red Wings mustered little offense thereafter and had a nine-game unbeaten streak snapped.
Other NHL results: Atlanta 5, Florida 2; Los Angeles 4, Nashville 2; Buffalo 4, New York Islanders 2; Ottawa 2, Boston 1 in overtime; Philadelphia 2, Tampa Bay 0; Toronto 4, Chicago 1; St. Louis 4, Columbus 3; Calgary 2, Colorado 2; Phoenix 5, Pittsburgh 2; Dallas 6, Edmonton 4.
Washington goes for six in a row
LANDOVER, Md., Dec. 2 (UPI) -- The Washington Redskins are the first team in NFL history to win five consecutive games after losing their first five. But to keep the streak going, they will need to finally beat the Dallas Cowboys.
Joining the Redskins in the season-reversal category are the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots, who also play pivotal games against division rivals today.
The Redskins (5-5) were outscored, 135-25, in losing their first four games of the season and lost to the Cowboys, 9-7, on Oct. 15. Now the Redskins hope to snap an eight-game losing streak against the Cowboys (2-8).
Since the loss at Dallas, the Redskins have won three straight home games against Carolina, the New York Giants and Seattle and followed that with road wins at Denver and Philadelphia to move into second place in the NFC East. They have allowed a total of 55 points in the five wins.
Cowboys rookie quarterback Quincy Carter will return after missing the last six games with a torn left hamstring.
Redskins quarterback Tony Banks lost the Dallas job in training camp to Carter before signing with Washington and eventually replacing Jeff George, who was waived after Week 2.
Atlanta (6-4) has won three straight to move into the thick of the wild card race. But if the Falcons harbor any NFC West title hopes, they must prove they can beat the St. Louis Rams (8-2) at the Georgia Dome. The Rams and San Francisco 49ers (8-2) are tied for the division lead.
In the last four meetings between the NFC West rivals, the Rams have outscored the Falcons, 162-69.
Reigning NFL Most Valuable Player Marshall Faulk has caused nightmares for Falcons coach Dan Reeves, rushing for 571 yards in St. Louis' last four games against Atlanta.
The 49ers will host the Buffalo Bills (1-9), losers of five straight, in an interconference Sunday night game. San Francisco has won four in a row for the first time since 1998.
Instead of falling out of contention after an 0-2 start, the Pats have won six of nine games with Brady at the helm and trail the Jets (7-3) and Miami Dolphins (7-3) heading into todays's contest at New York.
Bledsoe suffered sheared blood vessels in his chest when he was hit by Lewis after scrambling for eight yards in the fourth quarter of the Jets' 10-3 win at New England on Sept. 23.
Elsewhere in the NHL today, it will be Indianapolis at Baltimore, Detroit at Chicago, Tampa Bay at Cincinnati, Tennessee at Cleveland, Denver at Miami, Carolina at New Orleans, Minnesota at Pittsburgh, San Diego at Seattle and Arizona at Oakland.
Longhorns surprise Stanford
CHICAGO, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Ninth-ranked Stanford could not handle Chris Owens inside and Casey Jacobsen could not shake Royal Ivey.
Chris Owens scored eight of his 26 points in overtime and Royal Ivey added a career-high 18 while holding Casey Jacobsen in check to lead Texas to an 83-75 upset of ninth-ranked Stanford in the Dell Classic.
It was the biggest surprise on a busy college basketball Saturday.
The 6-7, 238-pound Owens had his way inside with 7-foot center Curtis Borchardt and 6-8 forward Justin Davis, using his quickness to score a number of easy baskets. He also was a force defensively with 11 rebounds and six blocked shots.
After fouling out Borchardt and hitting 1-of-2 free throws with 15 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 65-65, Owens gave Texas the lead for good, 69-68, on a three-point play with 3:28 to go in overtime.
In other outings involving top 10 teams, No. 2 Illinois crushed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 80-56; No. 7 Kansas outbattled No. 3 Arizona, 105-97; No. 5 Missouri bested Grambling, 100-76; and No. 8 Virginia got past Virginia Tech, 69-61.
Perez keeps lead in qualifying tourney
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Pat Perez stayed in front Saturday after four rounds of the six-day PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament while 17-year-old Ty Tryon made a significant move in his bid to become the youngest player ever to earn his way onto the circuit.
Perez, a solid performer on the Buy.com Tour but never a member of the regular tour, shot a 2-under 70 Saturday that put him at 20-under 268 at the Bear Lakes Country Club. He was one shot in front of Shaun Micheel, who fired a 67. Pete Jordan had the day's best round, a 64, that moved him from a tie for 21st into third place at 270.
The top 35 and ties from a field of 267 earn a place on the PGA Tour for 2002.
Tryon, who started the day in a tie for 61st place, moved up to a tie for 42nd with a 68. Two more rounds in the 60s should be enough to put him on the tour next year.
Gary Nicklaus, forced to qualify when he failed to finish among the top 125 money earners in 2001, shot a 69 and was tied for 13th at 273. England's Luke Donald, trying for a tour spot after turning pro earlier this year, posted a 68 and was tied for 19th.
USA fortunate in World Cup draw
PUSAN, South Korea, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- The United States avoided the traditional powerhouse soccer nations and enjoyed a fortunate draw for the 2002 World Cup Saturday night, finding itself placed in a group with co-host South Korea, Poland and Portugal.
China, meanwhile, was placed alongside Brazil in its first trip ever to the World Cup while England and Argentina were put in the same group.
The World Cup draw signals the start of the long buildup toward soccer's most significant event, which will be hosted next year by Japan and South Korea. In elaborate ceremonies televised around the world, the 32 qualifying nations were placed in eight groups for round-robin play that will begin May 31. The top two from each group advance to the round of 16 for knockout action.
Defending champion France, the No. 1 seed in Group A, will open the World Cup on May 31 in Seoul against Senegal. Uruguay and Denmark were also drawn into Group A.
Four-time champion Brazil will start its quest for another title on June 3 in Ulsan, South Korea against Turkey. China and Costa Rica will join Brazil in Group C. Brazil is the only country to have played in every World Cup and it struggled throughout qualifying before finishing fourth in the South American tournament.
But Brazil was drawn into what should be one of the easiest groups.
The United States was one of the last teams to learn where it would be placed in the draw and as the proceedings neared an end, the possibility existed that the Americans would land in Group F, where Argentina, England and Sweden awaited.
But when the United States was drawn, it wound up in Group D. Included in that group is South Korea, which is ranked 43rd in the world. The Americans are currently ranked No. 13. Although Poland and Portugal will be difficult opponents for the United States, with Portugal among the potential winners of the title. But they they do not carry the intimidation factor of Italy, Spain, England, Germany, France or Brazil.
Haltmayr wins Super-G
LAKE LOUISE, Alberta, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Germany's Petra Haltmayr captured the first World Cup super-G of the season Saturday while Caroline Lalive of the United States was third for her first career podium finish.
A disappointing 28th and 33rd in downhills run on Thursday and Friday, Haltmayr suddenly rediscovered the form that carried her to her lone World Cup win on the same course a year earlier, winning in a time of one minute, 15.09 seconds.
Haltmayer's performance knocked Carole Montillet off the top of the podium into second place at 1:15.77, dashing French hopes for a victory they hoped to dedicate to super-G world champion Regine Cavagnoud, who died last month following a downhill training run accident.
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