NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The 11th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners have capped their season by handing No. 3 Alabama its second straight loss, 45-31 at the Sugar Bowl. Trevor Knight completed 32 of his 44 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns in leading the Sooners to victory against the two-time defending BCS champs. AJ McCarron threw for 387 yards and two TDs but had two interceptions and lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown in the closing seconds.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Jay Cutler will remain the Chicago Bears’ starting quarterback after agreeing to a seven-year contract, ending speculation the team would seek another signal-caller. Terms were not disclosed, but the deal for the 30-year-old Cutler is reportedly worth nearly $18 million per year over the first three years and includes at least $50 million guaranteed. The Bears also signed cornerback Tim Jennings and guard Matt Slauson to four-year deals.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have confirmed that they’ve finalized terms of a five-year contract with new head coach Lovie Smith. The former Bucs assistant was 81-63 in nine seasons with Chicago, earning three playoff berths and leading the 2006 team to the Super Bowl. Smith replaces Greg Schiano (shee-AH’-noh), who was fired Monday following a 4-12 season.
HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans have announced the hiring of Bill O’Brien as coach. He takes over a team that won just two games this season and finished on a 14-game losing skid. O’Brien spent the last two seasons rebuilding Penn State’s football program in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky mess.
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago White Sox and veteran left-handed reliever Scott Downs have agreed to terms on a one-year, $4 million contract. The 37-year-old was 4-4 with a 2.49 earned run average with 37 strikeouts in 68 appearances last season with the Angels and Braves. In 12 major league seasons, he is 38-36 with a 3.48 ERA and 550 strikeouts.