Sports News-December 27, 2013

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Pat Smith calls himself a risk taker. That's how he explains why he gave up his scholarship and starting job at Western Illinois after his junior season to walk on and compete to be Nebraska's kicker for one season. Smith will go into the Gator Bowl against Georgia on New Year's Day having made 11 of 12 field goals for the Cornhuskers, including a 42-yarder in overtime on a frosty field to beat Penn State on the road last month. Smith originally walked on at Missouri in 2009. He transferred to FCS-level Western Illinois the next year and was the Leathernecks' kicker for three seasons. With one year of eligibility, he decided to pursue his dream of kicking at a big-time school. He beat out Mauro Bondi for the Huskers' kicking job.

Aaron Rodgers will be under center when the Green Bay Packers play the Bears in Chicago for the NFC North championship on Sunday. Saying he's excited to be back now that he's been medically cleared, Rodgers will start the game after missing seven straight with a left collarbone injury. That's good news for a Green Bay team that went 2-5-1 once Rodgers went down during the first series of a 27-20 loss to the Bears in Green Bay on Nov. 4. The Packers have been riddled by injuries. Linebacker Clay Matthews is out again after aggravating a right thumb injury. Running back Eddie Lacy is hobbled by an ankle injury, though McCarthy is optimistic about the rookie's chances to go Sunday.

The Portland Trail Blazers blew an 11-point, fourth-quarter lead last night before grabbing sole possession of the NBA's Western Conference lead, a half-game ahead of Oklahoma City. LaMarcus Aldridge scored seven of his 32 points in overtime as the Blazers downed the Los Angeles Clippers 116-112. Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews each added 19 points for the Blazers, who went 8-for-8 from the line in the final 65 seconds to secure their league-leading 24th win. The Clippers dropped their second game in as many nights despite Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, who combined for 69 points. Griffin had a game-high 35 points and 11 rebounds, while Paul finished with 34 points and a game-high 16 assists. The Spurs remain 1 1/2 games behind Portland after Danny Green shot 5-for-5 from 3-point range to finish with 22 points in a 116-109 triumph at Dallas. Tim Duncan posted his 10th double-double of the season with 21 points and 13 rebounds, while Tony Parker added a team-high 23 points. A 12-0 Mavericks run cut the Spurs' lead to 100-97 with 3:55 to play, but Duncan then scored six consecutive points and passed to Green for a 3-pointer and a 110-103 advantage.

NBA Scoreboard

Final 2OT Atlanta 127 Cleveland 125

Final Houston 100 Memphis 92

Final San Antonio 116 Dallas 107

Final OT Portland 116 L-A Clippers 112

College Football Bowl Games

Final Utah State 21 (24) Northern Illinois 14

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