Digest for 01-05-14


REGIONAL

Titans fire Munchak

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans have fired head coach Mike Munchak.

A day after Munchak met with Titans front office personnel, general manager Ruston Webster made the decision to dismiss Munchak after three seasons in charge.

Munchak had been with the franchise since 1982 as a player and assistant coach. He had a record of 22-26 as the team’s head coach, including 7-9 in 2013.

Munchak was a guard for the club from 1982-93, when the team was known as the Houston Oilers. Selected to nine Pro Bowls and named All-Pro twice, Munchak was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001. The Titans also retired his No. 63 jersey in 1996.

The Titans were 9-7 in Munchak’s first season, then slipped to 6-10 in 2012 before a slight rebound this year.

Munchak could have a new job soon with speculation that his alma mater, Penn State, has interest. The Nittany Lions lost head coach Bill O’Brien to the Houston Texans earlier this week.

Matthews, Vandy top Houston in Compass Bowl

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Jordan Matthews, a first-team All-SEC selection and the league’s all-time leader in both receptions and receiving yards, had five catches for 143 yards and two touchdowns to lead Vanderbilt to a 41-24 victory over Houston in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Saturday.

The dual-threat back system was in full effect for Vandy as Jerron Seymour rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries and Brian Kimbrow carried the ball 13 times for 75 yards and a score for the Commodores (9-4), who played in a bowl game for the third straight season. The program had qualified for just four bowl games in its history prior to 2011.

In what could be James Franklin’s last game as the head coach of Vanderbilt, with rumors swirling he could be headed to the NFL or a more prestigious football school, he led the team to back-to-back nine-win seasons for the first time in school history.

John O’Korn completed 20-of-47 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions for the Cougars (8-5), who lost four of their final five games after starting the season 7-1.

NATIONAL

Notre Dame upsets No. 7 Duke in first ACC game

SOUTH BEND, Indiana — Eric Atkins tallied 19 points and 11 assists to lead Notre Dame to a 79-77 upset over seventh-ranked Duke in the program’s first game as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference .

Pat Connaughton went for 16 points, eight rebounds and five helpers for the Irish (10-4, 1-0 ACC), who snapped Duke’s streak of six consecutive wins to open conference play. Garrick Sherman reached double figures for the 11th straight tilt with 14 points.

Notre Dame beat Duke (11-3, 0-1) for just the third time in 22 meetings all-time and snapped an 11-game losing skid to the Blue Devils.

Rodney Hood netted 27 points to lead the visitors, while Quinn Cook added 22 as Duke’s five-game winning streak came to an end. Freshman phenom Jabari Parker, who had scored double digits in all 13 of his collegiate games entering Saturday, had just seven points on 2-of-10 shooting in the setback.

NDSU routs Towson to earn three-peat

FRISCO, Texas — The North Dakota State Bison dominated Towson, 35-7, before a crowd of 19,802 at Toyota Stadium to complete a perfect season and become the second FCS program to win a third straight national championship.

The top-ranked and top-seeded Bison (15-0) tied the 2005-07 Appalachian State teams with their third consecutive national championship, tied the FCS record with a 24th straight win and became the first unbeaten FCS champion since Marshall finished 15-0 in 1996.

Five different NDSU players scored touchdowns in the final game under head coach Craig Bohl, who is departing to become Wyoming’s new head coach. He finished his 11-year run of leading the Bison with a 104-32 record, including a gaudy 43-2 over the last three seasons.

The championship three-peat seemed like a foregone conclusion while NDSU destroyed opponents throughout the playoffs, but the Bison still had to find an answer for a seventh-seeded Towson squad (13-3) that featured junior Terrance West, who was in the midst of the best-ever season by an FCS running back.

WORLD

Serena edges Azarenka for Brisbane title

BRISBANE, Australia — Serena Williams picked up right where she left off in 2013, opening the new year with yet another tournament title.

Williams won 11 times last year and on Saturday claimed her first of 2014 with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Victoria Azarenka in the final of the Brisbane International.

The top-ranked American has now won 22 straight matches dating back to last year and hasn’t lost since falling to Azarenka in the final of the U.S. Open tune-up in Cincinnati.

“I want to congratulate Vika for being a great player and a great champion, and just someone I enjoy playing against and seeing around,” said Williams during the trophy presentation. “I would also like to thank the crowd here in Brisbane for always being so supportive.”

Williams improved to 14-3 all-time against Azarenka, who will be trying for her third straight Australian Open crown in Melbourne later this month.