Critics’ Choice Awards Live

The Critics’ Choice Awards are upon us again!Olivia Munn hosts this year’s ceremony, where some of the most acclaimed movies and TV shows over the past year will be recognized, including The Shape of Water, which scored 14 nominations in December. This Is Us, Get Out, The Big Sick, Girls Trip and I, Tonya also received several nominations as well as Game of ThronesBlack-ish, GLOW and Billions.

Critics’ Choice Awards Live Free

The CCAs will air on the CW network at 8 p.m. ET for everyone but west coasters — the show will be delayed in the Pacific Time zone — from Santa Monica, California’s Barker Hangar. The first hour of the show will be live-streamed on the CW’s site from 7-8 p.m. ET/ 4-5 p.m. PT.

CFP National Championship 2018 Live

The Alabama Crimson Tide were bound and determined to demonstrate they belonged in the College Football Playoff when they took on the Clemson Tigers in the semifinals at the Superdome in New Orleans on New Year’s Day.

CFP National Championship 2018 Live

Alabama used its powerful defense to cut down the Tigers 24-6. That win has earned Alabama the opportunity to play for the national championship Monday night against the Georgia Bulldogs.

The All-Southeastern Conference championship final will kick off at 8 p.m. ET from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Alabama is a 3.5-point favorite, according to OddsShark, and the total is 45 points.

While the Crimson Tide were in charge of their game throughout the Sugar Bowl, the Bulldogs were pushed to the limit by the Oklahoma Sooners in the Rose Bowl. Georgia pulled off two major comebacks that forced the game into overtime, and head coach Kirby Smith’s team pulled off a 54-48 triumph in double overtime.

Georgia vs Alabama Live

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Georgia came back to win an incredible Rose Bowl against Oklahoma while Alabama controlled the Sugar Bowl against Clemson. The two SEC schools haven’t met this season because Alabama didn’t win the SEC West. And that’s probably why they’re facing off for the championship.

Georgia vs Alabama Live

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Alabama (12-1) vs. Georgia (13-1)
8:15 p.m. ET Jan. 8 [ESPN]
Alabama -4, O/U: 45

Alabama made the College Football Playoff after Georgia beat Auburn for the SEC title and two-loss Ohio State beat previously undefeated Wisconsin for the Big Ten title. The Tide didn’t make the SEC Championship Game because of a loss to the Tigers, who also beat Georgia in the regular season. Auburn and Mississippi State are the teams’ only two common opponents. Alabama squeaked out a road victory against the (Mississippi State) Bulldogs while Georgia blew out MSU at home.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama: Georgia locked down Oklahoma’s passing attack in the second half of the Rose Bowl with a heavy dose of man coverage with safety help over the top. That defensive scheme baffled Oklahoma’s offense and the Sooners couldn’t go downfield.

If quarterback Jalen Hurts can find Ridley for a deep pass or two, Alabama is in great shape. Ridley posted his only two 100-yard receiving games of the season against Mississippi State and Mercer. Since then, he’s been relatively quiet catching seven passes for 77 yards combined against Auburn and Clemson.

Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia: We all know about Georgia’s dynamic tandem of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel at running back. And we all know Fromm is the five-star freshman quarterback who took over as the starter in the first game of the season and never relinquished the job. He’s a familiar face for many college football fans.

But his success Monday night may be more imperative than Chubb and Michel’s. Since Kirby Smart and Nick Saban run similar defensive schemes, Fromm should have some familiarity with what defensive alignments Alabama will show him. Will Saban and Jeremy Pruitt change things up to rattle the freshman? Or can Fromm find some holes in coverage?

YAHOO SPORTS PREDICTIONS

Pat Forde: Defenses dominate, and after the ninth punt of the first half America whines on Twitter about watching a boring game. But it’s a close game that comes down to the Crimson Tide blocking a Rodrigo Blankenship 50-yard field goal on the final play. Nick Saban further establishes his own place in the history of the sport.

Alabama 21, Georgia 20.

Pete Thamel: Hard to pick against Nick Saban. Ever. And with his defense reminding everyone of their promise when healthy, there’s going to be little room to run. Last year, Jalen Hurts led a touchdown drive that appeared to win the game. Deshaun Watson dashed those plans. This year, look for Hurts’ legs to be the difference and for Bama to get the ending right.

Alabama 17, Georgia 13

Nick Bromberg: Should I be the contrarian? I picked Clemson a year ago and that worked out at the last second. I picked Clemson a week ago and that didn’t work out at all. And my picks have been really bad this year, meaning whoever I pick is probably going to lose. Sorry, Georgia. I think Roquan Smith will be unblockable once again and Georgia should have more success than most running the ball against Alabama. I waffled on this pick for a long time — only a blowout in either direction would surprise me.

Georgia 16, Alabama 13

Sam Cooper: Every time I pick against Alabama, it backfires. And while Jake Fromm has proven to be unshakeable in his freshman season, there’s something about a true freshman quarterback playing against the Alabama defense that I can’t quite get over. That unit was just completely locked in against Clemson last week. If Alabama doesn’t score on defense, a turnover will set up a short field for Jalen Hurts and the Tide offense — maybe more than once.

Alabama 24, Georgia 21

Alabama vs Georgia Live

If this national championship looks a little familiar to you, well, then you probably live in the Southeast.

Alabama vs Georgia Live

The 2017 national title game (Monday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN) is an all-SEC affair between No. 3 Georgia and No. 4 Alabama. It’s a clash of teams with similar styles, similar coaches and players who come from similar places. For all intents and purposes, this is a second SEC title game with just a bit more at stake.

“Each time I play an SEC game, I know what type of game I’m going to get,” said Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans. “It’s going to be a physical game. I’m going to go against great athletes. It’s going to be a great challenge.”

The Bulldogs and Crimson Tide haven’t played since Kirby Smart arrived in Athens, but we can take away plenty from both teams’ tendencies heading into this game. These are five matchups that will dictate this contest. There’s also a prediction below, for those interested in those types of things.

This is a standard highlight in high-profile matchups such as these, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less critical. Georgia’s offensive line went from weakness to strength this season, and that group’s fueled the Bulldogs’ stellar running game and the success of Jake Fromm. But as Alabama showed last week against Clemson, it can dominate games when its front is playing well. The loss of Anfernee Jennings (knee) will hurt the Tide, especially against the run, but it’s still going to be up to Georgia’s offensive line to stem a ferocious front and the nation’s top-ranked defense. Alabama is going to funnel defenders into the box in order to stop the run. Da’Ron Payne is the Crimson Tide’s top-graded PFF College player (85.5), and his bulk will seriously challenge Georgia center Lamont Gaillard, who grades out as the nation’s 11th overall center.

That matchup within this matchup is huge because it’ll dictate Georgia’s rushing efforts up the middle. If the Bulldogs’ rushing attack is forced outside with frequency, it’s going to be hard for them to contend with Alabama’s overall sideline-to-sideline speed.

FCS Championship Live

The big game is rapidly approaching. After the Bison punched their ticket to the big dance, Bison Nation went to get their own tickets to the FCS National Championship game. Some more successfully than others. Now people from the across the country are flocking to Frisco.

FCS Championship Live Free

There’s always a Bison fan at Herd and Horns in Fargo. This year Matt and Malinda Olhoft will cheer on the Bison from afar. In that past they’ve made the trip to Frisco. They say the previous trips were a blast. But they say when trying to get to this year’s game you’re at the mercy of the ticket masters.

Some have lucked out. We caught up with Robert and Deanne Markus in Kansas City, Missouri. They scored last minute standing room only seats to support their daughter Amanda, who is in the NDSU Gold Star Marching Band.

Some are flying to get a new perspective on Frisco.

Peder Olson won a championship with the Bison before transferring to St. Thomas. His brother is still on the team, he got student tickets.

“It will be different to see it from the other point of view, besides being a player down there.” Said Olson.

But, not everyone has been so lucky. Scott Ekstrom, an NDSU alum, has made it to every game, that he’s been able to.

“First one I was getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan, sitting at Fort Benning Georgia. I watched the title game on TV. The second game I watched it, found a TV with ESPN, two I think it was, in Kabul Afghanistan.” Said Ekstrom.

He’s been in the Air Force for 22 years and says grandma’s got the kids while he and his wife will be flying to Frisco. Only question now is can they get into the game?

“Trying to do some bids on ‘Flashseats’, trying to see if we can get some reasonable prices.” Ekstrom said.

As the Fargo faithful know tickets to Frisco are a hot commodity.

A former team booster said this year has been the hardest year to get tickets in decades. Ekstrom said the most expensive ticket he saw was over $2,000. However most are selling for a few hundred on secondary market sites.

James Madison vs ND State Live

It all comes down to one game. The national champion will be crowned this Saturday when No. 1 JMU faces No. 2 North Dakota State in the 2018 NCAA Division I Football Championship game on Jan. 6.

James Madison vs ND State Live Free

Kickoff is set for noon ET (11 a.m. CT) at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas and will be nationally televised on ESPN2. It will also be streamed on ESPN3 and ESPN app and can be heard on the JMU/Sprint Broadcast Network, with pregame coverage starting at 11 a.m. ET.

Saturday marks the third meeting between JMU and NDSU, as all three games have occurred in the FCS playoffs. NDSU won the initial meeting in the 2011 FCS Second Round (26-14), and JMU won the latter meeting in the 2016 FCS Semifinals (27-17). Both of those games were played in Fargo, N.D.

Making their 14th FCS playoff appearance, JMU looks to repeat as the NCAA Division I national champion. The Dukes won titles in 2004 in Chattanooga and 2016 in Frisco. JMU is making its program-record fourth straight playoff berth. It is 16-11 overall in the playoffs. This is the fourth time JMU has won multiple postseason games, having gone 4-0 in both national title runs, 3-0 this year and 2-1 in the 2008 playoffs.

JMU is 2-0 on neutral ground, as both have occurred in JMU’s national championship victories. The Dukes are also 8-4 at home and 6-7 in true road games. In last year’s championship season, JMU outscored its four opponents 175-60 (43.75 to 15.0 avg). This year, the Dukes have outscored the three opponents 108-51 (36.0 to 17.0 avg). Over the past two years, JMU has had the three largest scoring outputs in the playoffs. It scored 65 against Sam Houston State and 55 versus New Hampshire in 2016, and tallied 56 against South Dakota State.

JMU’s 51-16 triumph in the FCS Semifinals marked JMU’s program-record 26th consecutive win, extending the CAA record and longest active streak in all of NCAA Division I. With Mary Hardin-Baylor’s loss in the Division III title game, JMU took over as the win-streak leader at every NCAA division.

JMU’s streak currently ranks second all-time in FCS history. The Dukes are one of two teams with active double-digit win streaks, as Celebration Bowl champion N.C. A&T has won 12 straight. As of Dec. 31, only two teams at the FBS level have won 10 or more in a row, as UCF has claimed 12 straight and FAU has won 10 consecutive. The Dukes have also won a CAA-record 18 straight league games and became the league’s first team ever to go 8-0 back-to-back years.

The Dukes last saw defeat on Sept. 24, 2016 – a 56-28 setback at ACC-foe North Carolina. JMU has also won 27 straight games against FCS opponents, with the last loss coming on Dec. 5, 2015 versus Colgate in the second round of the playoffs. The Dukes have won 17 straight at Bridgeforth Stadium and hold a program-record 10-game win streak in true road games.

Sweden vs Canada

Canada and Sweden will face off for gold medal at the world junior hockey championship Friday night.

“I think it’s the two best teams that are going to meet,” Swedish goaltender Filip Gustavsson said.

Sweden vs Canada

Gustavsson made 29 saves and Sweden had a three-goal third period to beat the defending champion United States on Thursday in the first semifinal.

Drake Batherson had a hat trick to lead Canada over the Czech Republic 7-2 and into the title game for the third time in four years.

Canada and Sweden have played for the gold medal game three times before, in 1996, 2008 and 2009. The Canadians won all three contests.

With the expected No. 1 pick in this year’s NHL draft, defenceman Rasmus Dahlin, and several other top prospects on the roster, the Swedes believe they have the talent to claim their first gold medal since 2012. Sweden finished fourth each of the last three years after finishing second in 2013 and 2014.

“Everyone is here to win,” Swedish coach Tomas Moten said. “So if we’re not going to win tomorrow, I don’t think the feeling will be any different than last year when we lost the bronze medal game.”

The U.S. was trying to become the first country to win back-to-back gold medals since Canada claimed five straight from 2005-09. The Americans have never won a gold medal on home ice.

“This one blindsided us because we felt so strong with how we were going,” U.S. coach Bob Motzko said. “We had a vampire suck it out of us today. It just tells you how tough it is.”

Elias Pettersson, Lias Andersson, Oskar Steen and Axel Jonsson Fjallby scored for Sweden, which has not trailed in any game during the tournament. Linus Lindstrom had two assists.

“We have every chance to win gold,” Dahlin said. “We’re so excited about tomorrow.”

Sam Steel, Maxime Comtois, Jordan Kyrou and Boris Katchouk also had goals for Canada, which has won every game in dominating fashion aside from its 4-3 shootout loss to the U.S. in the preliminary round.

Canada came alive late in the first period after spotting the Czechs a 1-0 lead in the first six minutes. Steel and Batherson scored power-play goals to make it 2-1 by the end of the first.

The Canadians scored four times in a 10-minute span of the second period. Batherson, a fourth-round draft choice of the Ottawa Senators, scored his third goal to make it 6-1 with 3:02 remaining in the third and tie U.S. forward Kieffer Bellows and the Czech Republic’s Filip Zardina for the tournament lead with seven goals.

Zardina, one of the top prospects eligible for this year’s NHL draft, scored both goals for the Czech Republic.

After beating Canada in a shootout to win the gold medal last year, the U.S. will try for its sixth bronze medal against the Czechs on Friday. The Americans placed third in 1986, 1992, 2007, 2011 and 2016.

“The goal at the beginning of the tournament when everything starts is gold medal,” Bellows said, who scored his tournament-leading seventh goal against Sweden. “But I know we have to push this behind us and get ready for the bronze medal game. We’re doing this for the team in the locker room and USA Hockey as a whole.”

The Czech Republic last won a bronze medal in 2005. Czechoslovakia placed third six times from 1977-1993.

Bellows and Brady Tkachuk scored late goals for the U.S. after Sweden built a 4-0 lead midway through the third period.

The U.S. controlled the action for much of the first two periods before Pettersson’s power-play goal put Sweden ahead 1-0 with 6:30 left in the second.

With U.S. defenceman Dylan Samberg in the penalty box for high-sticking, Pettersson, the Vancouver Canucks’ No. 5 overall pick last year, received a pass in the left faceoff circle from Buffalo Sabres 2016 first-round selection Alex Nylander and one-timed a slap shot over Woll’s shoulder into the far corner of the net.

Nylander’s assist gave him 28 career points at the world juniors, equaling father Michael Nylander for fourth on Sweden’s career list.

Gustavsson’ preserved the lead when stopped U.S. forward Casey Mittelstadt on a 3-on-0 breakaway in the final minute of the second period. Mittlestadt, the Sabres’ most recent first-round pick, entered the game leading the tournament with 10 points.

Andersson made it 2-0 when he tapped in his sixth goal of the tournment on a 2-on-1 with Fredrik Karlstrom early in the third period. Steen and Jonsson Fjallby scored shorthanded goals 38 seconds apart before the U.S. pulled goaltender Joseph Woll with 11:25 remaining.

“We failed Joe tonight,” Motzko said. “Joe didn’t fail us.”

Bellows scored on a power play to end Gustavsson’s shutout bid with 7:36 remaining. Tkachuk’s goal came with 3:01 left to play and the U.S. was unable to score on a power play in the closing minutes.

Pro Football Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas dropped the ceremonial first puck wearing a replica of one of his older Buffalo Bills jerseys, matching the U.S. uniforms. Team USA also wore the blue jerseys and pants during its preliminary-round win over Canada outdoors at the Bills’ New Era Field.