Pro Bowl to have Narrower Goal Posts, Longer Kicks on PATs

Pro Bowl NFLPHOENIX (AP) — The NFL will have narrower uprights and longer kicks for extra-point tries at the Pro Bowl.

The NFL has discussed changes in extra points to make the kicks more difficult and experimented with longer tries during the preseason.

For Sunday’s Pro Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium, the uprights will be narrowed from 18.6 to 14 feet on extra-point tries. The kick also will be moved back from the 2 to the 15, making it essentially a 33 1/2-yard field goal.

NFL kickers made 99.6 percent of their PAT tries in 2013 and 99.3 this season.

NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent made the announcement during a Pro Bowl news conference on Tuesday.

No. 16 Nebraska Surges late to beat Purdue 69-59

Nebraska-Huskers-BasketballLINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Rachel Theriot made all seven of her free throw attempts and finished with 16 points to help No. 16 Nebraska beat Purdue 69-59 on Monday.

Hailie Sample scored 15 points for Nebraska (14-3, 4-2 Big Ten), Brandi Jeffery had 13 and Tear’a Laudermill added 10. Emily Cady grabbed 13 rebounds and had five assists to help the Cornhuskers win their fourth consecutive conference game.

Nebraska scored 15 first-half points off of 12 Purdue turnovers on its way to a 33-24 halftime lead.

Whitney Bays recorded her ninth straight double-double for Purdue (9-9, 3-4) with 14 points and 14 rebounds. April Wilson added a career-high 20 points as the Boilermakers lost their fourth game in a row for the first time since 2010.

Bays hit two free throws to cut Purdue’s deficit to 53-49, but Theriot started an 8-0 spurt with a 3-pointer and capped it with a three-point play with 3:04 left.

Peyton Manning to Miss Pro Bowl with Thigh Injury

Peyton-Manning-Denver-BroncENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Peyton Manning is skipping the Pro Bowl because his right thigh injury hasn’t gotten much better in the week since the Denver Broncos were bounced from the playoffs.

Manning calls it “a great honor” to be selected to the game and he’s “always taken the obligation to play in it very seriously.”

He adds: “I’ve believed that, if healthy, it’s a player’s responsibility to play in the game because of what it means to be voted in by your peers and the fans.”

Manning was injured late in the first half of a game at San Diego on Dec. 14 and missed a handful of snaps before returning to play the entire second half. He didn’t miss any more time with the injury.

Ohio State, Oregon Title Game will Crown a ‘True Champion’

College Football Playoff NCAADALLAS (AP) — Ohio State and Oregon will meet in a game that has never been for a trophy that has never been raised.

The winner of Monday night’s matchup can be called the truest champion in the history of major college football.

The first College Football Playoff national championship game matches the second-seeded Ducks and fourth-seeded Buckeyes at AT&T Stadium.

The days of bowls, polls and the BCS having the final say about who is No. 1 in college are over.

Oregon and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota are in search of the program’s first title.

Ohio State is looking for its fifth championship and first under coach Urban Meyer. In his third season with the Buckeyes, Meyer could become the second coach to win a national title with two schools.

3 AFC Teams can Clinch Divisions this Week

DenverBroncosNEW YORK (AP) — The Patriots, Broncos and Colts can clinch their division titles this week.

New England (10-3) hosts Miami (7-6) and will own the NFC East with a victory. The Patriots can earn an AFC first-round playoff bye if they win while Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati lose, or win and the Colts, Steelers and Broncos lose.

Denver gets the AFC West crown by beating San Diego. Indy owns the AFC South by beating Houston this Sunday.

The Broncos get a first-round playoff bye with a win and losses by the Colts and Steelers, or by the Colts and Bengals — provided Denver has a strength-of-schedule tiebreaker over Pittsburgh.

Denver also can get at least a wild card with a loss and defeats by Miami, Houston, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, or Miami, Houston, Baltimore and Cleveland, or Miami, Houston and Baltimore, plus a Pittsburgh win.

Broncos Bring Back McManus as Kickoff Specialist

DenverBroncosENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Brandon McManus is back with the Denver Broncos as their kickoff specialist two weeks after losing his kicking job to veteran Connor Barth.

Denver waived rookie punt returner Isaiah Burse.

McManus’ 69 percent field-goal conversion rate prompted the switch to Barth, who was 5 for 5 on field goals in a 29-16 win at Kansas City.

However, none of his eight kickoffs went for touchbacks on a frigid, windy night at Arrowhead Stadium and the Chiefs’ average starting position on those kickoffs was their 33.

McManus had 48 touchbacks in 64 kickoffs (75 percent) this season. Barth is just 11 for 164 in his career.

Burse averaged 7.2 yards on 29 punt returns. He’ll be replaced Sunday by Emmanuel Sanders or Wes Welker against Buffalo.

Royals’ Hochevar to Begin Throwing off Mound Soon

Luke Hochevar

Luke Hochevar

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Royals right-hander Luke Hochevar hopes to begin throwing off a mound later this month as he continues to rehab from Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss all of last season.

Hochevar, who signed a $10 million, two-year deal to remain in Kansas City this week, had the surgery after feeling a twinge in his pitching elbow in spring training. He wound up watching from the dugout as the Royals surged to the World Series.

Hochevar said on a conference call with reporters Friday that he had other offers in free agency but he wanted to stay with the Royals after watching their success this past season.

The former No. 1 overall draft pick said he feels better now than he did before the surgery.

Sally Thalken Retirement Recognition – Save the Date

Sally Thalken

Sally Thalken

North Platte Community College will be honoring head volleyball coach, Sally Thalken at halftime of the men’s basketball game against Northeastern Junior College on December 9. Game time is at 7:30 PM.

Coach Thalken has announced her retirement from coaching after 34 years at North Platte Community College.

More details will follow at a later date.​

Clayton Kershaw, Mike Trout Win MVP Awards

mlb bigNEW YORK (AP) — Clayton Kershaw has become the first pitcher to win the National League MVP award in nearly a half-century.

The Los Angeles Dodgers ace beat out Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton and Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen for the honor announced Thursday.

Bob Gibson in 1968 was the previous pitcher to be the NL MVP. Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander won the AL MVP in 2011.

Kershaw unanimously won the NL Cy Young Award on Wednesday. He led the majors in wins and ERA while going 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA and throwing a no-hitter.

Kershaw got 18 of 30 first-place votes and 355 points in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Stanton got eight first-place ballots and 298 points. McCutchen got four first and 271 points.

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout unanimously won the AL MVP earlier in the day.

Bumgarner’s Series Caps Headed to Hall of Fame

Madison Bumgarner San Francisco GiantsKANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Madison Bumgarner’s World Series performance earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame — well, at least for his caps.

The San Francisco Giants ace donated to the Hall caps he wore during his Game 1 and 5 wins against Kansas City plus his hat from his Game 7 save Wednesday night.

The Hall said it also collected the spikes of Game 7 winner Jeremy Affeldt plus Buster Posey’s bat from the World Series finale and Pablo Sandoval’s jersey.

Hunter Pence’s bat from Game 4, when he had three hits and three RBIs, also is headed to the Hall, located in Cooperstown, New York.