IRVING, Texas, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Notre Dame finished the season atop the final Bowl Championship Series rankings released Sunday, with Alabama and Georgia remaining Nos. 2 and 3.
The final list means the undefeated Fighting Irish (12-0) will face either the Crimson Tide or the Bulldogs (both 11-1) in the Jan. 7 national championship game at Miami.
The conference rivals will square off against each other Saturday in the SEC championship game with a shot at the BCS championship on the line.
The Irish retained their No. 1 ranking with a near-perfect .998 average after a victory at Southern California Saturday.
Florida, Oregon, Kansas State, Louisiana State, Stanford, Texas A&M and South Carolina rounded out the final Top 10.
N.C. State fires football coach O'Brien
RALEIGH, N.C., Nov. 25 (UPI) -- North Carolina State has fired football Coach Tom O'Brien after six seasons at the helm, Athletic Director Deborah Yow said Sunday.
O'Brien recorded a 40-35 mark during his time at North Carolina State, going 22-26 within the Atlantic Coast Conference -- including 1-14 on the road against ACC foes.
"Coach O'Brien's service to N.C. State over the last six years has been sincerely appreciated by Wolfpack Nation," Yow said in a statement. "We especially appreciate his attention toward NCAA rules compliance, a value that will continue to be held by N.C. State. We wish him well in future pursuits."
The Wolfpack went 7-5 under O'Brien in the recently completed season. His best year was 2010, when the squad went 9-4 with a win over West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl.
"I appreciate the opportunity to have coached at North Carolina State University and I feel that the program is in a better place now than when I started," O'Brien said.
Offensive coordinator Dana Bible will serve as interim head coach for the Wolfpack's upcoming bowl game, Yow said.
Daughter of Houston Coach McHale dies
HOUSTON, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- The 22-year-old daughter of Houston Rockets Coach Kevin McHale has died after a long battle with an autoimmune disease, the team said Sunday.
Alexandra "Sasha" McHale, a former high school basketball player in Minnesota, was hospitalized with an illness related to lupus earlier this month when McHale took a leave of absence for a then-undisclosed family-related matter, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Rockets owner Leslie Alexander issued a statement of condolence to the McHale family Sunday.
"I extend my deepest condolences to Kevin and Lynn for the loss of their beautiful daughter, Sasha, on Saturday afternoon," he said. "Kevin and Lynn are loving and dedicated parents who will need our continued support throughout this very difficult time.
"Our entire organization is mourning the McHale family's loss and we ask that you keep them in your thoughts and prayers."
Kelvin Sampson has been guiding the squad since McHale left the team Nov. 10.
Vettel claims 3rd straight Formula 1 crown
SAO PAULO, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Sebastian Vettel collected his third consecutive Formula One championship Sunday after finishing sixth at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.
Red Bull's Vettel managed to shake off a spin-out on the very first lap to claim the Top 10 finish, allowing him to edge out Ferrari's Fernando Alonso for the 2012 title by just three standings points.
Alonso finished second at Sunday's rain-soaked Sao Paulo event, which was won by McLaren's Jenson Button -- his third triumph of the season and 15th of his career.
The race was cut short after Force India's Paul di Resta crashed with less than two laps remaining.
Brazilian Felipe Massa of Ferrari claimed third in his home country race.
Red Bull's Mark Webber and Nico Hulkenberg of Force India rounded out the Top 5.
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