FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Atlanta Falcons players have been wearing 1-0 shirts in recent weeks as a reminder to focus on one game instead of their ugly record. The winner of Sunday's game between the Falcons (6-9) and Carolina (6-8-1) will clinch the NFC South and have a home playoff game. Wide receiver Julio Jones says the losing record won't matter because "when you get to the postseason, it's 0-0." Atlanta remained in the playoff chase with Sunday's 30-14 win at New Orleans. The Falcons may be playing to save coach Mike Smith's job. They are assured of their second straight losing record after five straight winning seasons under Smith. Smith said Monday he has not been distracted by speculation about his status. ___ Online: AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL ___ Follow Charles Odum on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CharlesOdum
ATLANTA — Long known for its power offense, Alabama opened things up this season.
GRAPEVINE, Texas — Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State have been selected to play in the first College Football Playoff.
BOONE — Perhaps it was inevitable that freshman Taylor Lamb would be Appalachian State’s quarterback.
AUBURN, Alabama -- Auburn's efforts to land Will Muschamp are nearing an end. The former Florida coach is nearing a deal to lead the Tigers' defense, if the parties can clear one snag.
TCU moved up to No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings, becoming the latest team to jump past undefeated Florida State.
COLUMBIA, Mo. — At the halfway point, Missouri's season was on the verge of ruin.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — UAB is shutting down the football program after one of the Blazers' stronger seasons.
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson is the Atlantic Coast Conference coach of the year for the third time.
DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. -- The man who paid Georgia running back Todd Gurley $400 for signing about 80 items in the passenger's seat of a 2002 Lexus earlier this year says he never intended to hurt Gurley or the Georgia football program.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship game on Saturday, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher held his final weekly press conference of the 2014 season on Monday.
Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The student code of conduct hearing involving Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is scheduled to begin Tuesday, approximately two years after a female student said he sexually assaulted her in December 2012.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The final score was more Oregon or Baylor than Alabama.
ATLANTA — This is already a season to remember at Georgia Tech.
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Harrison Butker kicked a career-long 53-yard field goal on the final play of regulation, and D.J. White picked off a pass in overtime to preserve No. 16 Georgia Tech's 30-24 victory over No. 8 Georgia in a game filled with bizarre plays.
Tech (10-2) trailed 24-21 after Hutson Mason threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Mitchell on fourth down with 18 seconds left. But the Yellow Jackets wound up with good field position after a squib kickoff, Justin Thomas scrambled 21 yards into field goal range, and Butker's kick barely cleared the crossbar.
Zach Laskey put Georgia Tech ahead with his third touchdown run of the game in overtime, but Butker's extra point was blocked. The Bulldogs had second-and-goal at the 9 when Mason again tried to hit Mitchell on a quick slant. This time, White stepped in to make the interception, ending the game.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama-Auburn game is stocked with a Heisman Trophy candidate, a national title contender and the unrelenting passion of feuding neighbors.
In other words, it's a pretty typical Iron Bowl.
No. 2 Alabama (10-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) is still standing in the championship scrum going into Saturday night's rivalry showdown, and can clinch the Western Division with a victory.
Onetime contender and defending SEC champion Auburn (8-3, 4-3) has been reduced to the spoiler role after two straight stumbles in league games. The Tide is a 9-1/2-point favorite but a game that suddenly seems like a potential mismatch still has the same hold on the state.
"You just know there's a special level of intensity that goes with playing in a game like this and both sides are going to have it and that's what makes it a great football game," Alabama coach Nick Saban said.
Led by Heisman candidate Amari Cooper and a smothering defense, Saban's team is No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings and like the rest of the state vividly remembers how last year's game ended. The Tigers won on a rare runback of a missed field goal on the final play.
"Been around a lot of crazy stuff in Iron Bowls," Tide right tackle Austin Shepherd said. "Always great energy. I know the stadium is going to be rocking for sure. "
The state champion has been the national champ, too, four of the last five seasons. The only exception was Auburn's runner-up finish to Florida State last season.
The Tide is riding a six-game winning streak and might already be assured of a spot in the SEC championship before kickoff if No. 4 Mississippi State loses at No. 18 Mississippi.
Auburn has dropped its last two SEC games to Texas A&M and Georgia. A team that was once third in the playoff rankings has revised its goal to shooting for back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time since 1988-89.
"We're trying to be as good as we can be, and finish this thing as strong as we can," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "Our guys are committed to that, and I know our coaches are, too."
Here are some things to watch in the 79th Iron Bowl:
BAMA'S OFFENSE: If there's a big mismatch in this game, it might surprisingly be Auburn's defense against Alabama's offense. Under first-year coordinator Lane Kiffin, the Tide has been especially potent in passing with the Blake Sims-to-Cooper connection. Pass defense has been Auburn's biggest weakness. But the Tigers have struggled all around defensively in the past five SEC games, giving up an average of 472 yards and 35.8 points to league offenses during that stretch.
YELDON VS. ARTIS-PAYNE: Cameron Artis-Payne came into the season with modest fanfare and is the SEC's leading rusher. Preseason All-SEC pick T.J. Yeldon has had a down season compared to his first two. Both are physical runners who, along with their backfield mates, can wear down opposing defenses. Yeldon has dealt with nagging injuries, but rested a sore ankle against Western Carolina. He gained 141 yards in last season's meeting. "He's smiling a lot so when T.J.'s smiling, I think a good game is going to come out of him," Sims said.
TIDE'S TURF: The Tigers are 7-2 in Tuscaloosa, including the largest comeback in school history in 2010. But Bryant-Denny Stadium was a house of horrors two years ago when Alabama roared to 42 first-half points and won 49-0. The Tide has won 15 in a row at home and dominated opponents by an average of 33.5 points (268-67) this season.
PERIMETER RUNS: While Artis-Payne is more of a between-the-tackles runner, Auburn often mixes it up with perimeter runs by receiver Ricardo Louis or speedy tailback Corey Grant, whose role has diminished as the season has progressed. Teams haven't had much success running into the heart of Alabama's defense, which has allowed only two rushing touchdowns. "Last year, they hurt us with plays on the perimeter like they hurt a lot of people," Saban said.
KEEP IT CLEAN: Alabama has had turnover problems at times this season but the Tigers have really shot themselves in the foot. They've committed 10 turnovers and been penalized 199 yards in their three losses, coughing it up on the first two plays at Mississippi State.
The Rockmart Yellow Jackets basketball teams are getting an early start to their season with their first matchup against the Gordon Central Warriors Tuesday.
Ohio Valley Conference champion Jacksonville State took home three of the four major 2014 postseason OVC football awards and a record number 18 selections across the first-team, second-team and All-Newcomer squads in voting conducted by league head coaches and sports information directors and announced on Tuesday.
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Jamey Chadwell has confidence his Charleston Southern players won't be awed by their first visit to No. 9 Georgia.
The coach said that Charleston Southern, a FCS school, has visited other FBS sites.
Even so, Chadwell acknowledges he is concerned about the speed and size of Georgia (8-2). The Buccaneers' second-year coach said he is especially impressed with Bulldogs freshman tailback Nick Chubb.
Georgia will rely on Chubb after losing junior star Todd Gurley to a season-ending knee injury in last week's win over Auburn. Chubb took over as the starter during Gurley's four-game suspension before the Auburn game.
Asked how Chubb compares with other backs the Buccaneers have faced, Caldwell said "He doesn't compare."
"We've got some good backs in our league, no doubt, and we've faced some good backs," Caldwell said. "He is for a freshman, he's phenomenal. His balance, the strength he runs with, and then you add his speed, he is by far the best player that I think we've seen overall in really the time I've been here the last two years. He's pretty special, especially to be that young."
Chubb has rushed for more than 100 yards in five straight games. He ranks second in the Southeastern Conference with 1,039 yards rushing. He was named SEC freshman of the week for the fourth time after running for 144 yards and two touchdowns in the Bulldogs' impressive 34-7 win over then-No. 9 Auburn.
Georgia (No. 10 CFP) would earn a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship game if Tennessee beats Missouri on Saturday night.
Charleston Southern (8-3) will be playing its second SEC East opponent, following a 21-20 loss at Vanderbilt on Oct. 11.
Georgia coach Mark Richt used the Vanderbilt game as evidence his players should not overlook Charleston Southern.
"Obviously they're not afraid to go into an SEC setting and beat someone's tail," Richt said. "They had Vanderbilt on the ropes already this season and we know that they're an outstanding football team. I've said this before and I mean it, it's hard to beat teams that are used to winning. And this team has got the fever when it comes to winning."
Here are some things to know as the Bulldogs try to improve their 38-1 home record against teams outside the SEC since 2001:
RUNNING WITH REYES: Charleston Southern has its own strong running back in senior Christian Reyes, who was last week's Big South player of the week after running for 188 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-36 win over Liberty. Georgia gave up only 150 yards rushing to Auburn last week, but it allowed 418 yards rushing in a 38-20 loss to Florida on Nov. 1.
DON'T LOOK AHEAD: Richt had a quick negative answer when asked if he hoped to rest Chubb or other starters for next week's state rivalry game against Georgia Tech. "You can't. That's why people get beat," Richt said, adding that kind of talk would have players thinking they were getting ready for an easy game. Added Richt: "There's no reason to think that this game won't be a physical game. These guys are really good. The more I watch them, the more I see why they're winning."
WINNING WITH TAKEAWAYS: Georgia ranks second in the nation with a plus-16 turnover margin. It is the third-best margin in school history and its best in Richt's 14 seasons. The Bulldogs have scored 76 points off 22 turnovers. Georgia opponents have scored only six points off six Georgia turnovers.
MORE ON CHUBB: In his five games as a starter, Chubb has rushed for 815 yards with seven touchdowns. He has averaged 6.7 yards per carry in that span. He is the first Georgia freshman to run for 1,000 yards since Gurley had 1,385 in 2012.
MASON ON TARGET: Georgia senior Hutson Mason has completed 67.6 percent of his passes (150 of 222), a school-record pace. The Georgia record for accuracy in a season was set by Mike Bobo, now the offensive coordinator, when he completed 65.03 percent of his passes (199 of 306) in 1997. Other quarterbacks in the top five are Aaron Murray (twice), Eric Zeier and Hines Ward.