IRVING, Texas, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Alabama will face Notre Dame in the BCS national championship football game after the two schools garnered the top spots in the final poll released Sunday.
The Crimson Tide (12-1) finished No. 2 with a 0.944 ranking after its suspenseful 32-28 victory over former No. 3 Georgia Saturday in the SEC title game.
The Fighting Irish (12-0), who were idle this week, retained the No. 1 ranking with a near-perfect 0.998 mark.
Notre Dame and Alabama will square off at Miami's Sun Life Stadium on Jan. 7 for the college football championship. The defending champion Tide have won the crown in two of the past three seasons.
Georgia, meanwhile, fell from third to seventh and Florida took its place, guaranteeing the Gators an at-large BCS berth.
Oregon, Kansas State, Stanford, Louisiana State, Texas A&M and South Carolina rounded out the Top 10.
The other BCS bowl pairings finalized Sunday include No. 12 Florida State vs. Northern Illinois in the Jan. 1 Orange Bowl; sixth-ranked Stanford vs. Wisconsin in the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl; Florida against No. 21 Louisville in the Jan. 2 Sugar Bowl; and No. 4 Oregon playing fifth-ranked Kansas State in the Jan. 3 Fiesta Bowl.
Carey is new Northern Illinois grid coach
DEKALB, Ill., Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Northern Illinois offensive coordinator Rod Carey will take over as head coach following the resignation of Dave Doeren, the school announced Sunday.
Carey got the nod to lead the Huskies on the same day it was announced the Mid-American Conference program would play in the Jan. 1 Orange Bowl against Florida State.
Carey will lead NIU in the contest -- the first-ever BCS bowl appearance for the school.
Doeren tendered his resignation Saturday to take over the vacant head coaching job at North Carolina State.
"What we need in our program is consistency and stability, and I believe that Rod brings that," Northern Illinois Director of Athletics Jeff Compher said. "This will allow us to stay on our current trajectory as a nationally prominent program."
Carey, a native of Wayzata, Minn., served as an assistant under Doeren for two years. He took over as offensive coordinator after Mike Dunbar resigned for health reasons following the first game.
South Florida sacks football coach Holtz
TAMPA, Fla., Dec. 2 (UPI) -- The University of South Florida has fired football Coach Skip Holtz after a 3-9 record this past season, school officials announced Sunday.
The Bulls finished with the worst record in the 16-year history of the program following Saturday's season-ending 27-3 home loss to Pittsburgh.
Holtz -- son of legendary former college coach Lou Holtz -- managed a 16-21 overall mark in three season at the helm, including a 5-16 record in Big East Conference games.
After praising Holtz for stressing improved academics at South Florida, Athletic Director Doug Woolard said the move was made to improve the team's on-field performance.
"We must strive to put a more successful football program on the field," he said. "Beginning today, we will move in a new direction toward that goal."
"I believe we made some positive strides, most notably in our academics, that were helping to build a foundation for this program and I would have liked the opportunity to see it through," Holtz said. "But I understand the administration's decision and wish them nothing but success in the future."
Players, NHL owners may meet face-to-face
NEW YORK, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Locked-out NHL players could meet directly with a committee of team owners in a bid to restart stalled collective bargaining talks, the league said Sunday.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement league officials would attempt to set a up meeting for Tuesday in New York between negotiators from the NHL Players Association and a group of six owners.
Daly said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman suggested the face-to-face, owners-only meeting after two days of unsuccessful, federally mediated negotiating sessions between himself and the NHLPA last week, NHL.com reported.
Owners expected to attend include Ron Burkle (Pittsburgh Penguins), Mark Chipman (Winnipeg Jets), Murray Edwards (Calgary Flames), Jeremy Jacobs (Boston Bruins), Larry Tanenbaum (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Jeff Vinik (Tampa Bay Lightning).
The lockout of NHL players by league owners has lasted 10 weeks and games through Dec. 14 have been canceled. For the second time in eight years the league faces the possibility of losing an entire season due to an inability to reach a new collective bargaining agreement.