DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Lionel Messi will grace the World Cup stage at least one more time. The Argentina great had a penalty saved but his team still beat Poland 2-0 after second-half goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez and advanced to the last 16. Argentina finished in first place in Group C to set up a match against surprise qualifier Australia. Poland also advanced despite the loss.
Rarely does a college football season enter the weekend of conference championship games with its playoff picture this clearly in focus. No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Michigan figure to have playoff bids locked up no matter how they fare this weekend. No. 3 TCU also is unbeaten and would have a pretty strong argument it belongs in the field even if it falls to No. 13 Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game. No. 4 Southern California's situation is a little trickier because the Trojans aren't undefeated.
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts is done for the season because of a knee injury. Coach Arthur Smith updated Pitts’ status after the second-year player revealed on social media that he had a procedure on his right knee. Pitts was hurt in a Nov. 20 win over the Bears and placed on injured reserve amid reports that he sustained a torn MCL.
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Kris Murray had career highs of 31 points and 20 rebounds and Iowa defeated Georgia Tech 81-65 on Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Murray was 11-of-18 shooting, including 4 of 8 on 3-point attempts. Filip Rebraca added 13 points and seven rebounds.
Ohio State was No. 5 in the second-to-last College Football Playoff rankings, positioned to possibly take advantage if one of the top four slips up on championship weekend. Georgia was No. 1 again. No. 2 Michigan and No. 3 TCU both moved up a spot, and Southern California (11-1) climbed two spots into the fourth slot. The Buckeyes dropped three spots after losing 45-23 to the rival Wolverines on Saturday at home. Alabama moved up a spot to No. 6 and was followed by Southeastern Conference rival Tennessee, which beat the Crimson Tide in October.
Georgia Tech has promoted interim coach Brent Key to head coach. Key led the Yellow Jackets to a 4-4 record after Geoff Collins was fired in September. The 44-year-old Key is a former Georgia Tech player. He had been assistant head coach, run game coordinator and offensive line coach before Collins was fired. The Yellow Jackets' improvement under Key earned him the chance to take over the full-time leadership of the team.
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Christian Pulisic scored while crashing headfirst into the goalkeeper late in the 38th minute and the United States advanced to the knockout rounds of the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Iran in a politically charged rematch of their famous meeting a quarter-century ago. Pulisic sprawled on the field and was replaced at the start of the second half.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid sank the go-ahead 14-footer with 18.6 seconds left and scored 30 points in his return from a sprained left foot to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 104-101 win over the Atlanta Hawks. Embiid scored seven points in the final minute as the Sixers rallied.
ATLANTA (AP) — Following a 19-13 loss at Washington, the Atlanta Falcons are 4-5 in one-possession games after going 7-2 in such situations last year. Even so, and despite a pedestrian passing attack, Atlanta is 5-7 and still in the hunt for the NFC South title. The team's latest collapse came when Marcus Mariota was intercepted in the end zone and second-and-goal from the 4 in the final minute on a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage.
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Georgia’s recent frustrations in the Southeastern Conference championship game are providing extra motivation for the Bulldogs to remain focused this week. Saturday’s matchup against No. 11 LSU in Atlanta will be No. 1 Georgia’s fifth SEC championship game in the last six seasons under coach Kirby Smart. The Bulldogs’ only SEC title in that span came in 2017.