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This Week in Sports: College Football Playoffs, Kareem Hunt, Mike McCarthy and more

Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt pushes away from Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith in the third quarter on Oct. 7, 2018 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Hunt was released from the Chiefs. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS)

Welcome to another weekly roundup in the world of sports. This week, college football’s conference championships were this weekend, and the College Football Playoff matchups were finalized. In the NFL, the Kansas City Chiefs released Kareem Hunt after a video of him beating a woman was released. He apologized for his actions, but the Chiefs will have to move on without him. Also moving on is the Green Bay Packers. They parted ways with their nearly 13-year head coach Mike McCarthy late last night. The Dallas Cowboys upset the New Orleans Saints thanks to a stellar defense. And baseball’s first blockbuster trade took place this week with the Seattle Mariners dealing Robinson Cano.

NCAA Football

This past weekend was conference championship week in college football and in the power five conferences, the games didn’t disappoint.

Friday night, the 11th ranked Washington Huskies beat the 17th ranked Utah Utes 10-3 in the Pac 12 Championship. Jake Browning, as well as pretty much every offensive player on both sides, had a rough game with just 187 yards passing and an interception. It was enough to get the job done though, and they secured their spot in the Rose Bowl.

Saturday night, the ACC and Big 10 Championships took place with not so surprising outcomes. The No. 2 Clemson Tigers easily defeated the Pitt Panthers 42-10 to claim the ACC once again. Trevor Lawrence threw for two touchdowns while Travis Etienne had a big game on the ground rushing for 156 yards and two scores for the Tigers.

In the Big 10, the No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the 21st ranked Northwestern Wildcats 45-24. The game was actually much closer than the score indicates, but OSU pulled away late thanks in large part to the play of Dwayne Haskins who was just one yard short of passing for 500 yards. He threw for five touchdowns in the win and helped OSU claim their spot in a matchup with Washington in the Rose Bowl.

The noon game on Saturday featured one of the biggest rivalries in college football and a rematch of a highly competitive October game. The No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners got revenge on their archrival 14th ranked Texas Longhorns beating them 39-27. Oklahoma got off to a slow start and had one of their worst first halves of the season. Kyler Murray came out in the second half and helped the Sooners turn it around. He passed for 379 yards and three touchdowns while CeeDee Lamb had a big day receiving from him catching six balls for 167 yards and a score.

The most entertaining game of the weekend was a rematch of last year’s College Football Playoff National Championship. The No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide beat the No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs 35-28 in the SEC Championship.

Georgia looked like the better team for three quarters before the Tide shut them out in the fourth quarter 14-0. Jake Fromm played his best game of the year at quarterback for Georgia. He threw for 301 yards and three touchdowns. The story of the game however was Alabama’s quarterbacks. Tua Tagovailoa has been Alabama’s rock all season long and is the frontrunner to win the 2018 Heisman trophy. He played his worst game of the year going 10-for-25 passing for 164 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

Tagovailoa had his ankle stepped on by a teammate in the third quarter and couldn’t return to the game. Last year’s starter Jalen Hurts came on in relief trailing by seven and led his team on two touchdown drives to win the game. Hurts famously lost his starting job at halftime of the National Championship last year to Tagovailoa against Georgia. Hurts was 7-for-9 for 82 yards and a score. He had an outstanding 97.2 quarterback rating compared to Tagovailoa’s 15.1 QBR. Alabama finished the season 13-0 and were ranked No. 1 from wire to wire.

So, with the conference championships now done, it’s officially bowl season and CFP finalists were announced yesterday afternoon. The top three spots were no surprise as the rankings had no change. The fourth spot however, had some drama attached to it. Oklahoma, Georgia and Ohio State all felt like they had a case to make for being that fourth team. When it was finally announced, the 12-1 Oklahoma Sooners got in while Georgia was the first out at five, and Ohio State was the second out at six.

The Semifinals for the CFP are set and will take place on Saturday, Dec. 29. No. 1 Alabama will face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl while No. 2 Clemson will take on No. 3 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl semifinals of the CFP.

For a list of all games, scores, news and rankings, click here.

National Football League

The big news in the NFL this week came out of Kansas City where the Chiefs cut ties with their Pro-Bowl second-year running back Kareem Hunt.

The decision was made by the Chiefs brass after TMZ released a video of Hunt shoving and kicking a woman in Cleveland back in February. The Chiefs were aware of the incident but wanted a full investigation into the allegations before making any decisions.

The Chiefs released a statement on Friday addressing the situation and giving their reason for releasing Hunt.

“The National Football League and law enforcement initiated investigations into the issue. As part of our internal discussions with Kareem, several members of our management team spoke directly to him. Kareem was not truthful in those discussions. The video released today confirms that fact. We are releasing Kareem immediately.”

Police were called to the incident that took place in the wee hours of the morning at Cleveland’s The Metropolitan at the 9 hotel, but no charges or arrests were made.

Hunt apologized for his actions in an interview with Lisa Salters on ESPN’s NFL Countdown yesterday morning and accepted full responsibility for his actions.

This will surely be a big blow for the Chiefs as Hunt is currently the fifth leading rusher in the NFL with 824 yards. The Chiefs will look to Spencer Ware to take over as the starting running back the rest of the season.

The Green Bay Packers will also be moving on from a key member of their staff. Last night, the story broke that Mike McCarthy was fired by the Packers after their 20-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Green Bay is off to a slow start at 4-7-1 and will likely miss the playoffs.

McCarthy had been the Packers’ head coach since 2006 and helped lead the team to a Super Bowl XLV win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. In his 13 seasons as head coach, he led the Packers to a 125-77-2 record. Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin will take over the head coaching duties on an interim basis the rest of this season.

As for actual football being played, Thursday Night Football featured arguably the biggest upset of the NFL season when the Dallas Cowboys upset the New Orleans Saints.

The Cowboys defense stunned the Saints’ second ranked offense and gave them season lows in almost every category. The Saints were held scoreless in the first half for the first time this season, scored their fewest points in three seasons and MVP frontrunner Drew Brees was held to a season low 127 yards.

The Saints came into the game 10-1 and most consider them to be the best team in the NFL. Alvin Kamara is normally a reliable back for Brees to lean on, but he could only manage 36 yards on 11 carries. The Cowboys’ offense didn’t exactly light up the stat sheet either, but they were efficient and did enough to squeak by with a 13-10 win.

Dak Prescott was 24-for-28 passing with a touchdown for the Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott added 76 yards on the ground. The player of the game for Dallas was rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. He led the way with 10 tackles including six solo and a half a tackle for a loss.

The Cowboys improve to 7-5 and strengthen their grip of first place in the NFC East. They’ll host their 5-6 division rival Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. on Fox. The Saints suffered just their second loss of the season and move to 10-2. They’ll visit Tampa Bay to face the 5-7 Buccaneers on Sunday at 1 p.m. on Fox.

Week 13 will conclude tonight when Adrian Peterson and the Washington Redskins visit Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN.

For a list of all NFL matchups, gameday finals, stats and standings, click here.

Major League Baseball

The first big trade of the MLB offseason was finalized on Saturday after a week of rumors. The Seattle Mariners sent veteran second baseman Robinson Cano and All-Star closer Edwin Diaz to the New York Mets.

The Mariners will receive former All-Star outfielder Jay Bruce and multiple prospects from the Mets in return. In addition to Cano and Diaz, the Mariners are also sending $20 million to the Mets as the final part of the trade.

Cano spent his first eight seasons in the league with the New York Yankees before going to Seattle. Cano waived his no-trade clause so the deal could be done and he could return to New York. He was suspended 80 games in the 2018 season for performance enhancing drugs. Cano, 36, is half way through his 10-year, $240 million contract.

The move was surprising to some as the Mariners finished last season 89-73 and were in the hunt to make the playoffs nearly all season long. Despite the winning record, they appear to be heading into a rebuild as they traded away their ace James Paxton to the Yankees earlier this offseason.

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