Nick Saban Leads Alabama To Sixth National Title In 12 Seasons


For weeks late in the 2006 season, Nick Saban denied he would leave his job as the Miami Dolphins’ coach. Saban had been linked to the opening at the University of Alabama, which had fired its coach, Mike Shula, after a 6-6 season. But even though Saban had excelled at the college level at Michigan State and LSU, he vowed he would remain with the Dolphins, where he went 9-7 and 6-10 in two seasons.

In January 2007, though, Saban reneged on his words. He left Miami and signed an eight-year deal with Alabama for a guaranteed $32 million.

Turns out, that was a brilliant decision for Saban and an all-time bargain for Alabama.

On Monday night, the No. 1 Crimson Tide defeated No. 3 Ohio State, 52-24, in the College Football Playoff championship game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. It was the program’s sixth national title in the past 12 seasons and Saban’s seventh championship, which is a new record for a college football coach. Saban, who also won a title at LSU in 2003, was previously tied with former Alabama coach Bear Bryant, who had won six championships during his tenure from 1958 to 1982.

Late in Monday night’s game, with the game already a blowout, ESPN’s Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit discussed where Saban ranked among the best college coaches in history.

“There are so many great names that are out there,” Herbstreit said. “But, to me, he’s at the top. He didn’t need to win necessarily tonight to prove that, but as you say it sure helps getting that seventh.”

It’s hard to argue with Herbstreit. Yes, Alabama is among the most storied programs in college football, dating to even before Bryant arrived on campus. But the Crimson Tide were mediocre and inconsistent for a decade until Saban took over. From 1997 to 2006, Alabama finished at or below .500 four times and went a combined 67-55 under three coaches (Mike DuBose, Dennis Franchione and Shula).

As such, Saban wasn’t a sure bet to thrive at Alabama. The Crimson Tide then went 7-6 in Saban’s first season in 2007, although each of the losses was by seven points or fewer. Since then, Alabama has won at least 10 games in each of the past 12 seasons and won titles in the 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017 and 2020 seasons.

On Monday night, Alabama and Ohio State were tied, 14-14, early in the second quarter. But from there, Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones threw three touchdown passes in the next seven minutes as Alabama took a 35-17 lead into halftime.

By then, Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith already had 12 receptions for 215 yards and three touchdowns, setting records for most receptions and touchdown catches in a national title game during the BCS and CFP eras that date to 1998.

Smith, who won the Heisman Trophy last week, sustained a hand injury in the third quarter and never returned. But the Crimson Tide didn’t need him as they were in control and Ohio State couldn’t mount a comeback. Jones completed 36 of 45 passes for 464 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions, while running back Najee Harris gained 79 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns.

Alabama finished the season 13-0, only the second time it went undefeated during Saban’s tenure, the other time occurring in 2009 when the Crimson Tide went 14-0. Back then, it was hard to imagine Saban would accomplish so much in Tuscaloosa. But now, the Crimson Tide is in as good a position as ever. 

Although Jones, Smith, Harris and others will be gone next season, Alabama will enter the season as a 3-1 favorite to win the national title, according to Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill. The Crimson Tide also has the nation’s top recruiting class, according to 247Sports.

Saban, who will turn 70 on Oct. 31, remains a workaholic who loves coaching and recruiting. As long as he’s around, the Crimson Tide should be in the national title hunt.

After Monday’s game, ESPN’s Allison Williams asked Saban if he could process what it meant to surpass Bryant with his seventh championship.

“Not really,” Saban said. “I’m just happy that we won tonight. I’ve never really thought about that because we’re always looking forward. I just love this team so much and what they’ve been able to do. I can’t even put it into words.”

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FA Cup: Scott McTominay’s Solitary Goal Leads Manchester United To Victory In 3rd Round





Scott McTominay celebrated captaining Manchester United for the first time by scoring the only goal in a 1-0 FA Cup third-round victory against Watford on Saturday. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made nine changes to his team, who could go top of the Premier League on Tuesday, when they take on Burnley.

The home side started strongly at an empty Old Trafford, with Daniel James impressive on the left side of the attack, and were rewarded when McTominay gave them the lead in the fifth minute.

The Scotland international, who recently scored two early goals against Leeds, headed downwards from an Alex Telles corner and the ball went in off the post.

United were largely in control and Juan Mata saw an effort saved following a fluent team move and sumptuous flick by Donny van de Beek.

But McTominay’s header proved the only goal of a first half in which Watford threatened intermittently. Adam Masina’s effort was blocked by a mixture of United goalkeeper Dean Henderson and Axel Tuanzebe.

The opening period ended with United defender Eric Bailly being replaced by Harry Maguire after he was clattered by team-mate Henderson.

The second half at Old Trafford was dull and uneventful, with Watford failing to create clear-cut chances to threaten.

Solskjaer threw on Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial with just over 20 minutes to go but United were unable to extend their lead.

“The most important thing in the cup is that you go through, so that will make everyone happy, but the first 15-20 minutes I think were the highlights of our game, Solskjaer told the BBC.

“I think we played some very good stuff, created chances and then we let them back into the game but we are through.”

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He said the multiple changes allowed his fringe players to make a case for themselves and achieve match fitness.

“We will need all of them over the season and that was part of the reason we made changes,” he added.

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COVID-19 enforcement leads to meth bust for cops on Long Plain First Nation – Winnipeg


Two people from Portage la Prairie are facing drug and weapon charges after a Tuesday morning traffic stop on Long Plain First Nation.

Manitoba First Nations Police Service (MFNPS) said a vehicle was spotted going through a checkpoint with an occupant who wasn’t a resident, violating the community’s COVID-19 restrictions.

When police caught up with the vehicle, an orange Dodge Journey, the driver was handed a provincial ticket for the violation.

Police said they noticed a knife in the pocket of a backpack, as well as bear mace, and a search of the vehicle turned up meth, scales, packaging paraphernalia, pre-filled syringes and a large amount of cash.

Amber Bell, 27, is in custody facing charges of meth possession, possessing meth for the purposes of trafficking and possession of property obtained by crime under $5,000.

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Maurice Merrick, 28, was charged with possessing a prohibited weapon, three counts of possessing a weapon contrary to a court order, and failure to comply with a release order.




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Why is Netflix’s Bridgerton so insanely popular? It’s not just the madly hot leads


T

he thirst is real, if audience numbers are anything to go by. This week Netflix announced that by the end of its first four weeks on the streaming service, the vapours-inducing Regency-period drama Bridgerton would have been watched by 63 million households. That’s more even than the number that devour Lady Whistledown’s weekly society gossip sheet during the London season. As soon as the show landed on Christmas Day, social media lit up (and has sparkled ever since) with swooning posts, salivating over its luscious look, its raunchy romance and its outrageously hot leads, Phoebe Dynevor as debutante Daphne Bridgerton and (especially) the ridiculously gorgeous Regé-Jean Page as her sparring partner and love interest, Simon Bassett, Duke of Hastings. 

Why, for heaven’s sake? I loved it, because I’m a sucker for a silly, frilly romance with smart quips, Olympic-standard eyebrow raises and hot people having huge amounts of hot sex. But it’s not only me, and those aren’t the only reasons. Produced by Shonda Rhimes’s Shondaland outfit as part of a mega-deal with Netflix, Bridgerton has been hailed as a game-changer for period drama due to its colour-inclusive casting. Page is a black man; his godmother, Lady Danbury, is played by the black British actress Adjoa Andoh; Queen Charlotte is the wonderful Golda Rosheuvel, with plenty of lesser characters also portrayed by actors of colour.

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Golda Rosheuvel is an imposing Queen Charlotte

/ LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX )

Look, it’s not perfect, and it hasn’t ‘fixed telly’. Some commentators have noted that most of the leading characters of colour are lighter-skinned; that fewer of them have proper storylines; that though the question of race is explicitly raised in this fantasy version of Regency London society (the show takes and runs with the theory that Queen Charlotte was the first British royal with African lineage), it doesn’t really dig into it. No doubt this is deliberate, but it does not please everyone, and fair enough. But can it be a coincidence? It felt to me, before there wasn’t any theatre, that the people who put things on stage and screen were finally beginning to realise that if you cast people who look like people, people want to see your show. Bridgerton’s popularity is a shining, if imperfect, example of that. Here’s hoping that it changes the traditional image of the ‘bankable star’ for good. 

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Australian Toby Price leads the motorcycle class of the Dakar Rally after winning stage one to Bisha



Australia’s two-time winner Toby Price has launched his quest for a another Dakar Rally title in fine fashion by taking the honours in the opening stage of the 2021 edition.

Price, 33, has opened up a slender 23-second overall lead in the motorcycle class of the great race after winning the 277km first stage from Jeddah to Bisha in Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps more significantly for the Gold Coast rider, American defending champion Ricky Brabec had a woeful opening day, finishing the stage in 24th place, having dropped 18 minutes and 32 seconds to his Australian rival.

“Opening stage went well! Made the finish line, looked after the tyres and bike but navigation was very tricky. Happy to take the stage,” enthused Price on his Twitter account.

“It’s been a good clean day for us with a few minor mistakes, just got to stay calm and make it work!”

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It represented a fine day’s work for the Red Bull Factory KTM rider Price, who was victorious both in 2016, becoming the first Australian ever to win any class of the Dakar Rally, and in 2019 when he was suffering from a broken wrist.

Price said he had made a navigational mistake near the end of the stage but it didn’t stop him taking his 13th career Dakar stage win.

“I got lost a little bit about seven kilometres from the finish. I took a little bit of time just trying to get back on track here,” Price told the official race website.

“I think you’re gonna see a lot of chopping and changing in the standings in this race. You just gotta stay calm and let it cruise along and make it work,” added the man who’s had five top-three finishes in the last six editions of the race.

Price, who had been lying ninth after the prologue, took the lead from Frenchman Xavier de Soultrait at the 135km mark and finished the stage 31 seconds clear of Honda’s Argentine rider Kevin Benavides, who now lies second overall.

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Price’s Austrian Red Bull teammate Matthias Walkner is one minute 12 seconds behind the Australian in third place.

Husqvarna rider de Soultrait ended up sixth at the finish and is now five minutes 23 seconds behind Price.

Price’s fellow Australian Daniel Sanders, who made a flying start on his race debut by finishing third in the prologue, dropped back to 25th overall after the stage, nearly 20 minutes behind.

Honda rider Brabec, though, had a bad day following his victory in the short prologue stage, having all sorts of navigational problems.

In the cars class, defending champion Carlos Sainz won the first stage, finishing 25 seconds ahead of French teammate Stephane Peterhansel.

Overall, Spain’s three-time winner holds the slenderest of eight-second leads from Peterhansel.

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Price leads after Dakar Rally first stage


Australia’s two-time winner Toby Price has launched his quest for a another Dakar Rally title in fine fashion by taking the honours in the opening stage of the 2021 edition.

The 33-year-old Price has opened up a slender 23-second overall lead in the motorcycle class of the great race after winning the 277km first stage from Jeddah to Bisha in Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps more significantly for the Gold Coast rider, American defending champion Ricky Brabec had a woeful opening day, finishing the stage in 24th place, having dropped 18 minutes and 32 seconds to his Australian rival.

“Opening stage went well! Made the finish line, looked after the tyres and bike but navigation was very tricky. Happy to take the stage,” enthused Price on his Twitter account.

“It’s been a good clean day for us with a few minor mistakes, just got to stay calm and make it work!”

It represented a fine day’s work for the Red Bull Factory KTM rider Price, who was victorious both in 2016, becoming the first Australian ever to win any class of the Dakar Rally, and in 2019 when he was suffering from a broken wrist.

Price said he had made a navigational mistake near the end of the stage but it didn’t stop him taking his 13th career Dakar stage win.

“I got lost a little bit about seven kilometres from the finish. I took a little bit of time just trying to get back on track here,” Price told the official race website.

“I think you’re gonna see a lot of chopping and changing in the standings in this race. You just gotta stay calm and let it cruise along and make it work,” added the man who’s had five top-three finishes in the last six editions of the race.

Price, who had been lying ninth after the prologue, took the lead from Frenchman Xavier de Soultrait at the 135km mark and finished the stage 31 seconds clear of Honda’s Argentine rider Kevin Benavides, who now lies second overall 23 seconds adrift of the Aussie.

Price’s Austrian Red Bull teammate Matthias Walkner is one minute 12 seconds behind the Australian in third place.

Husqvarna rider De Soultrait ended up sixth at the finish and is now five minutes 23 seconds behind Price.

Price’s fellow Australian Daniel Sanders, who had made a flying start on his race debut by finishing third in the prologue, dropped back to 25th overall after the stage, nearly 20 minutes behind.

Honda rider Brabec, though, had a bad day following his victory in the short prologue stage, having all sorts of navigational problems.

In the cars class, defending champion Carlos Sainz won the first stage, finishing 25 seconds ahead of French teammate Stephane Peterhansel.

Overall, Spain’s three-time winner holds the slenderest of eight-second leads from Peterhansel.





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Whatsapp message leads to clash between two YSR groups


Kadapa: A Whatsapp message led to a clash on Friday between two groups of YSR Congress activists at Payasampalle village in Veerapunayunipalle mandal of this district. Several people from one group were injured.

 

Police officers Budida Sunil and VN Palli Mallikarjuna Reddy said there were differences over local body polls between leaders Nimmakayala Maheshwara Reddy and Sudhakar Reddy. On Thursday, Maheshwara posted a Happy New Year message to a WhatsApp group with a sticker image. Sudhakar responded to this by asking, “Do you know the Telugu New Year ever?”

 

This led to the confrontation. Maheshwara and his followers allegedly attacked Sudhakar with weapons. Sudhakar fired two rounds into the air with his licensed revolver. Those injured in the clash were rushed to a Proddatur hospital. Police said they would register a case and arrest the accused.



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QB Allen leads surging Bills into matchup vs. Patriots



FILE PHOTO: Dec 13, 2020; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) passes the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

December 28, 2020

The Buffalo Bills likely could be forgiven if they find themselves looking past Monday’s opponent and toward the playoffs.

Then again, the AFC East champion Bills (11-3) might be more interested in making a statement against the New England Patriots (6-8) in Foxborough, Mass. After all, the Patriots essentially have owned the division since Bill Belichick brought his hoodie to their sideline, and Buffalo hasn’t swept its AFC East rival since 1999.

“To go against a division opponent and be able to beat them both times, that’s a big deal,” Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White said. “I guess this year’s the year of breaking streaks or whatever. So I hope that’s the case.”

New England’s 11-year reign atop the division effectively came to an end at the hands (and feet) of Josh Allen, who recorded four touchdowns (two passing, two rushing) in a 48-19 win in Denver on Saturday. The performance allowed Buffalo to capture its first AFC East title since 1995 and land Allen his fourth AFC Offensive Player of the Week honor of the season.

With Allen at the controls, the Bills boast the NFL’s second-ranked passing offense (278.5 yards per game) and fifth-ranked scoring offense (29.1 points).

Fellow first-time Pro Bowl selection Stefon Diggs has done his fair share in opening up the offense for Allen.

Diggs’ 111 receptions lead the NFL while his career-high 1,314 receiving yards trail only Arizona’s DeAndre Hopkins (1,324) and Kansas City’s Travis Kelce (1,318) for most the league. Diggs had 11 catches for 147 yards versus the Broncos.

Diggs was listed as a full participant in Thursday’s practice despite injuring his foot against Denver. The same held true for Allen (knee, ankle) and White (neck), but offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe (groin) did not practice on Thursday.

Although Buffalo enters Monday’s contest with momentum, coach Sean McDermott was quick to pump the brakes should his team entertain the notion of looking past the Patriots.

“It’s the defending AFC East champs that have held that position for multiple, multiple, multiple years,” McDermott said. “It’s one of the greatest — if not the greatest — coach ever to coach our game. They’re going to be prepared, they’re going to be well-coached, and they’ll be ready to go.”

But which quarterback will be ready to go? Belichick hasn’t tipped his hand whether Cam Newton or Jarrett Stidham would be under center, although Newton appeared focused on the Bills on Thursday.

“We have to stay on schedule offensively, not only moving the ball but actually executing even more in the red zone and actually scoring touchdowns,” Newton said. “We can’t just settle for field goals, we have to make sure that we maximize our scoring opportunities.”

Newton was held without a touchdown pass for the eighth time this season in New England’s 22-12 setback to Miami on Sunday. The former NFL MVP found the end zone with his legs in a 24-21 loss at Buffalo on Nov. 1.

The Patriots listed 20 players as limited in Thursday’s practice, including leading rusher Damien Harris (ankle) and special teams ace Matthew Slater (knee). Reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore was placed on injured reserve earlier in the week.

–Field Level Media





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Flipped caravan leads to delays on the Hume Highway near Pheasants Nest | Goulburn Post


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A caravan has flipped on the Hume Highway, just north of Pheasants Nest, blocking one northbound lane. The incident occurred just after midday. One northbound lane is shut, with the other being managed by emergency services. Drivers are advised to expect significant delays, with queues stretching back five kilometres or more. READ ALSO: Driver found in ditch, eight times over the limit Light vehicles only may wish to take an alternative route via Remembrance Drive/Old Hume Highway to Picton, then Prince Street and Menangle Street/Picton Road to return to the Hume Highway beyond the crash site. Transport for NSW, a heavy vehicle tow truck and emergency services are in attendance. We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.

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Investigators looking at more than 500 leads in Nashville bombing, officials say


Debris litters the road near the site of an explosion in the area of Second and Commerce in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. December 25, 2020.

Elliott Anderson | via Reuters

Investigators have received more than 500 tips about the Christmas morning explosion in Nashville but have not determined the identity of the bomber, officials said Saturday afternoon.

Local law enforcement is working with federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, to investigate the blast site, which encompasses dozens of businesses in the city.

“That’s the stage that we are at in this investigation. We are still continuing to follow every lead that we have, and we will continue to do so until we find out what’s happened,” said Don Cochran, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.

The explosion in downtown Nashville early Christmas morning shattered windows and knocked out communications networks. Authorities said they believe the explosion was intentional and came from an RV parked on the street.

According to the FBI, the RV arrived in the area shortly after 1 a.m. local time, and the explosion occurred around 5:30 a.m. A warning for citizens in the area to evacuate blared from the RV before the blast.

Doug Korneski, the FBI’s special agent in charge for the Memphis Field Office, said Saturday that there is no indication of a continuing bomb threat in the area. When asked about reports that investigators have identified a person of interest in the case, Korneski said the investigation was still looking at several individuals.

NBC News, citing multiple senior law enforcement officials, reported that investigators were searching the home of Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, in connection with the bombing. A Google Streetview image of Warner’s address in Antioch, Tennessee, shows an RV that matches the description of the vehicle that exploded Friday morning.

Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said on Friday that there were no known fatalities from the blast, though police were testing tissue found at the scene to determine if it could be human remains, according to NBC News. Korneski said investigators are still examining the tissue.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper has issued a curfew for part of downtown that runs through Sunday afternoon. Federal regulators briefly halted flights into the city on Friday as the investigation began.

Social media users have reported issues with phone and internet service in Nashville following the blast. AT&T said on Saturday morning that it is deploying portable cell sites in the area in an attempt to restore coverage quickly.



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