Northern Illinois/Stanford win, Championship Saturday, NFL News and Notes, Stern fines Spurs, Syracuse Rolls while Kansas survives, MLB Hot Stove League + Free Play for Saturday, December 1, 2012

Northern Illinois and Stanford kick off championship week with wins

Northern Illinois knocked of Kent 44-37 in two overtimes to win the MAC while Stanford edged UCLA to win the PAC 12 crown as college football championship week kicked off with two games Friday night. The Huskies dominated the game statistically but committed two key mistakes late to allow Kent to get into overtime. The NIU probably cost the MAC somewhere near $17 million as a Kent win would have put the Flashes in a BCS Bowl. Northern Illinois could conceivably get that bid if they are able to jump from No.21 to No.16 in the polls. Stanford beat UCLA for the second time in six days despite 284 yards rushing by the Bruins. Stanford secured its first Rose Bowl bid since 2000 with the win. They’ll meet the Big Ten winner (Nebraska or Wisconson) on New Year’s Day.

SP3 will have a complete college football recap and highlight the latest rankings and Bowl matchups on Monday.

NFL News and Notes

Ben Roethlisberger has been ruled out of Sunday’s Steeler showdown with the Baltimore Ravens. Roethlisberger injured his throwing shoulder and ribs three weeks ago. Since drafting “Big Ben” in 2004, the Steelers are 9-4 against the Ravens with him, 0-6 without him. Charlie Batch will get the start for Pittsburg.

A former Houston Texan draft pick was sentenced to life in prison in California for a series of home invasions and sexual assaults. Keith Wright was convicted last month of 19 charges that included forcible oral copulation, armed robbery, kidnapping, burglary and false imprisonment. The defensive lineman from Missouri was the sixth-round pick of Houston in 2003.

Stern fines Spurs 250K for sitting stars

The penalties promised by NBA commissioner David Stern in the “Spurgate” matter came quickly on Friday as the league fined San Antonio 250K for sending home Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Danny Green before the Spurs Thursday nationally televised game with the Miami Heat. The Spurs were playing their sixth straight road game and fourth in five nights with a showdown with division leading Memphis on deck Saturday. The Spurs dressed nine and led most of the way before falling to the world champion Heat 105-100.

In the statement from the league …..

“The Spurs were in violation of league policy reviewed with the board of governors in April 2010 against resting players in a manner “contrary to the best interests of the NBA.”

Teams are required to report as soon as they know a player will not travel because of injury.

Stern said …..

“The Spurs decided to make four of their top players unavailable for an early season game that was the team’s only regular-season visit to Miami. The team also did this without informing the Heat, the media, or the league office in a timely way. Under these circumstances, I have concluded that the Spurs did a disservice to the league and our fans.”

There will certainly be more about this in the future.

Syracuse rolls at Arkansas, Kansas edges Oregon State, Hoyas win ugly

Last night in college basketball, No.6 Syracuse made a rare November trip outside of New York to down Arkansas 91-82. James Southerland led the Orange with 35 points on 9-13 shooting from downtown. No.10 Kansas held off pesky Oregon State 84-78. Travis Releford had a 20-7-6 complete game line for the Jayhawks. In as ugly a game as you will ever see, No.20 Georgetown edged Tennessee 37-36. No player reached double figures and the teams combined to go 7-20 from the foul line. Saturday rocks a full card of college hoops highlighted by San Diego State at UCLA on the late show, 10:30 PM EST.

MLB Hot Stove League

The starter heavy Atlanta Braves sent right-hander Tommy Hanson to the Angels for reliever Jordan Walden. The 26-year-old Hanson was 45-32 with a 3.61 ERA in four seasons with the Braves and was once regarded as a franchise prospect. Hanson was 10-5 with a 3.71 ERA before the All-Star break last season and 3-5 with a 5.69 ERA in the second half. He was on the disabled list from July 31 to Aug. 17 with a lower back strain. Hanson has also battled shoulder problems and has lost velocity on his fast ball each of the last three years.

Baseball’s all-time save leader wil return for one final year. Friday, Mariano Rivera signed a one-year deal with the Yankees for a guaranteed $10 million and could reach as high as $15 million if were to stay healthy and reach incentives. Rivera missed most of 2012 when he tore an ACL in May while shagging flies in the outfield. “The Sandman” has 608 career saves.

Free Play

(NCAAF) Nevada +8.5 over Boise State (Saturday, December 1, 3:30 PM EST)