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Alabama to number one in latest playoff rankings; Wisconsin jumps to number fiveSubmitted: 11/14/2017
NEW YORK - Alabama and Clemson are back on top of the College Football Playoff rankings, the ninth time over the last three seasons that the Crimson Tide and Tigers have held the first two spots in some order.

Alabama was the selection committee's new No. 1 on Tuesday night, with Clemson up two spots to No. 2. Miami and Oklahoma followed, joining the top four for the first time this season. Wisconsin was fifth and Auburn was up to sixth.

Alabama and Clemson have met in the last two national championship games, with each winning one. If they win out, there is good chance they could enter the postseason positioned to make it three straight title game matchups.

The Crimson Tide had been second behind Georgia in the first two selection committee rankings, but the Bulldogs and previously No. 3 Notre Dame were beaten last weekend, opening up the top for changes.

Unbeaten Miami jumped from seventh to third and along with Clemson gave the Atlantic Coast Conference two top-four teams for the first time in the four-year College Football Playoff era.

Oklahoma moved up one spot.

Unbeaten Wisconsin moved up from eighth and is the highest-ranked Big Ten team. Auburn is the highest-ranked team with two losses.

Georgia is seventh and Notre Dame is eighth.

Ohio State is back in the top 10 after an impressive victory against Michigan State, and Penn State is 10th. Southern California at 11th is the highest-ranked Pac-12 team.

UCF climbed to No. 15, making the undefeated Knights the highest-ranked team from a Group of Five conference. The highest-ranked conference champion from outside the Power Five is guaranteed a spot in the New Year's Six bowls.




Story By: Associated Press

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 LOCAL SPORTS

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RHINELANDER - When Rhinelander basketball tips off its season next week, the Hodags will have one specific goal in mind.

"To be able to go back and win conference after losing last year would definitely be a goal," said senior Owen White.

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MADISON - Tomahawk may have headlined the results for Northwoods teams, but they weren't the only ones in attendance. Rhinelander, Merrill and Medford all competed in the meet. For Rhinelander, it was the capstone of a roller coaster season that included a surprise coaching change.

"It was really emotional but we just tried to keep working as hard as we could, and try to focus on the positives we had," said Rhinelander freshman Makenna Winnicki.

Winnicki finished ninth in the 500 yard freestyle. She was the first Hodag to swim the event at state since 2007. Meanwhile the Merrill Blue Jays broke their own drought at the state meet. Sophomore Trinity Kanitz was the first Blue Jays state qualifier since the 1980s.

"The start of something is really amazing, and for it to be Merrill, a not-so-well known community for swimming, it's like a really big boost," said Kanitz.

Kanitz placed 14th in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:30.

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MADISON - On Friday, the Tomahawk Hatchets stunned even themselves with how well they did at the state swim meet. 

The team has had tremendous leaders in their two seniors all season, but on Friday night, you could see that leadership being passed down to the younger girls.

Junior Kaylie Svacina's 100 breast stroke finish gave the team a very big boost in overall points.

"I wasn't expecting that at all. Last year I made it in the breast stroke as well and I got last place. So I was just going for something above last place this year," said Svacina.

Svacina swam a time of 1:07 which gave her a 6th place finish out of 16 swimmers, so she definitely reached that goal. 

That podium helped push the team up the scoreboard and played a major part in the 4th place finish. 

They wanted to be in the top ten after finishing 11th last year. But to get 4th, that was huge for the team.

Sophomore Kylee Theiler finished 4th in both the 200 and 500 freestyle.

"I didn't drop time in my 200, so I thought if I can stay around my same time in my 500, I was going to be really excited. Dropping time and getting that close to going under a 5:10 is just insane," said Theiler.

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MADISON - Teams across the Northwoods traveled to UW-Madison on Friday to compete in the 2017 state girls swim meet.Medford, Merrill, Rhinelander and Tomahawk all represented the area at the meet.

Tomahawk sophomore Kylee Theiler led the way as she earned two individual fourth place finishes. Tomahawk also earned a few other podium spots and finished fourth overall as a team.

"I don't even know what to say, and now I'm going to cry. Its unbelievable what these girls did and how they put together their goals and their practices, it's just phenomenal," said head coach Theresa L'Esperance.

The Hatchets entered Friday night's meet with a goal of finishing in the top ten. With their fourth place finish, they said a bittersweet goodbye to their seniors.

It's amazing my senior year to end it like that. We were watching our score, Tomahawk, change throughout the entire meet. When it got to fourth, the highest it was throughout the entire meet, we told Theresa and she couldn't believe it. It's just amazing, it's really an honor," said Rachel Dallman.

Tomahawk finished with a final score of 142.

Tune into Newswatch 12 at 10 on Saturday night to hear more from the Hatchets and other Northwoods teams at the state meet.

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RHINELANDER - Rhinelander senior Owen White verbally committed to play basketball at Michigan Tech last December.

But on Thursday, he made it official by signing his letter of intent.

"They've been a solid program for multiple years. I went up there to one of their games when they competed against one of the best teams in D2. Regardless of athleticism on the team, just their coaching style and the way they play, they can compete with anybody. I know if I go there, I'll be going to a successful program," said White.

White also said he likes Michigan Tech in Hooughton because it's close to home.

Two of his older brothers played football there, as well, so being a Husky runs in the family.

The Rhinelander basketball season begins next week with practice and the first game will be at home on Tuesday the 28th against Wisconsin Rapids.

Rhinelander's Brad Comer also signed his letter of intent on Thursday. He will be attending Winona State University in Minnesota to play baseball.

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ANTIGO - Being back on the ice isn't the first competition for Matt Young in the last year. He played football this fall. But it is his first time playing his favorite sport again.

"Hockey is definitely my favorite sport because of the comradery," said Young.

Last year on December 8th, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The cancer battle was hard…
"It was tough for sure," said Young.

But his team was always there.

"It was incredible. Especially knowing that everyone is standing behind you and taking care of you and supporting you throughout everything," said Young.

The doctors told him he was cancer free back in March. And he immediately started thinking about playing sports again.

"First thing I did was tell my coaches right away. And then I got back out on the football field," said Young.

He played center for the Red Robins and helped them reach the level three playoffs. But Young had something else on his mind.

"Throughout the entire football season, I've just been waiting for hockey season," said Young.

And now that he's back playing the sport he loves, the thought on cancer is pushed even further away.

"You always have that little thought in the back of your mind that it could come back. But you pray every night that it won't," said Young.

Whether he's playing hockey or not, he knows that cancer taught him a lifelong lesson.

"You've just got to live one day at a time," said Young.

Young now hopes to help a young friend through a new cancer battle for the Antigo hockey community. 

11-year-old Eli Kassler was recently diagnosed with Leukemia and receiving treatment in Milwaukee. 

Antigo hockey is having a fundraiser for him on Saturday November 11th.

The event will be a live auction and raffle at Northstar Lanes in Antigo at 4:00 P.M. 

For more information, contact 715-610-2911 or BergAppraisalServices@yahoo.com.

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NEW YORK - Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame and Clemson held their spots in the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings, and unbeaten Miami moved up three spots to No. 7 before its showdown with the Fighting Irish.

Oklahoma remained fifth and TCU moved up to sixth. The Sooners and Horned Frogs play a key Big 12 game on Saturday, with the winner taking sole possession of first place in the conference.

Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame and Clemson held their spots in the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings, and unbeaten Miami moved up three spots to No. 7 before its showdown with the Fighting Irish.

Oklahoma remained fifth and TCU moved up to sixth in the rankings released Tuesday. The Sooners and Horned Frogs play a key Big 12 game on Saturday, with the winner taking sole possession of first place in the conference.

After Miami, unbeaten Wisconsin was No. 8, the highest-ranked Big Ten team. Washington, the highest-ranked Pac-12 team, is ninth and Auburn is 10th.

No. 14 Penn State and No. 15 Ohio State fell out of the top 10 after losses last week.

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 REGIONAL SPORTS

NEW YORK - Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame and Clemson are the top four teams in the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season.

Oklahoma and Ohio State were the next two in the selection committee's initial top 25. The final rankings that will determine the participants in the College Football Playoff semifinals come out Dec. 3.

Over the first three seasons of the playoff, a total of five teams have been ranked in the top four of the initial ranking and gone on to reach the semifinals: Florida State (which was second) in 2014; Clemson (first) and Alabama (fourth) in 2015; and Alabama (first) and Clemson (second) in 2016.

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- - Green Bay Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers could miss the remainder of the season with a broken collarbone.

Rodgers left the game against Minnesota in the first quarter on Sunday, and the Packers announced at halftime that his season is in jeopardy after the injury was diagnosed.

"There is a chance he could miss the remainder of the season," the Packers tweeted.

It's a crushing blow to a team that entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations, optimism based primarily on the right arm of Rodgers.

Despite several key injuries to the secondary, the Packers entered the game Sunday against their NFC North rivals at 4-1 after Rodgers engineered a game-winning touchdown drive to beat the Dallas Cowboys last week.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer's defense has always gotten after Rodgers in these tense matchups, and it happened again in the first quarter when linebacker Anthony Barr drove him into the turf after he got rid of a roll-out pass.

The impact did not appear to be that violent at first glance as Rodgers rolled through the hit. But it became apparent quickly that he was in considerable pain. He writhed on the turf as Packers coach Mike McCarthy argued for a roughing the passer penalty.

As Rodgers walked gingerly to the sideline, he turned to jaw at Barr before entering a tent on the sideline for examination.

Eventually he rode a cart to the locker room for further tests and remained there throughout the first half. He was initially deemed questionable, but the Packers announced after halftime that he would not return to the game.

He was 2 of 4 for 18 yards before leaving, casting a pall over the rivalry that always includes thousands of Packers fans in Minnesota's stadium.

Brett Hundley, the only other quarterback on the Packers roster, stepped in for Rodgers.

A Packers offense without Rodgers under center is not something Green Bay has seen very often. Hundley entered the game having thrown 11 career passes, all coming in the fourth quarters of mop-up duty.

Since becoming the full-time starter in 2008, Rodgers has been remarkably durable. He missed seven games in 2013 with a fractured collarbone, but he has started 132 of the other 134 games during that time period.

Of course, being able to count on a quarterback to take the snaps is nothing new for Green Bay. Since Brett Favre took over for the injured Don Majkowski in the third game of the 1992 season, the Packers have had Favre and Rodgers for all but nine games.


Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien and Seneca Wallace were forced to fill in while Rodgers was out in 2013. Flynn started once in 2010 when Rodgers sat out with a concussion and again in 2011 when he rested during the regular-season finale with the Packers having clinched the top seed in the NFC playoffs.

Favre never sat at all.

"I hope @AaronRodgers12 is OK!" Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman tweeted. "The league is better when he's healthy. Praying for you."

Hundley's first pass of the game was intercepted by Xavier Rhodes, but he recovered later in the second quarter and was able to step up in the pocket and hit a wide open Davante Adams for a touchdown that tied the game at 7.

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GREEN BAY - The Packers 2017 preseason opponents were announced Monday.

The Pack will face the Eagles, Redskins, Broncos, and Rams.

Green Bay will host the Eagles to start the preseason before traveling to play Washington and Denver on the road.

Then the Pack will conclude the preaseason with another home game against the Rams.

Exact dates and times will be announced in the near future.

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BUFFALO, NY - Top-seeded Villanova was bounced from the NCAA Tournament by eighth-seeded Wisconsin, which overcame foul trouble for two of its stars in the second half Saturday to upset the defending champions 65-62 in the East region.

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MADISON - MADISON, Wis. (AP) Senior guard Bronson Koenig scored 17 points in his final home game, combining with D'Mitrik Trice to give No. 22 Wisconsin's offense a second-half boost in a 66-49 victory over Minnesota on Sunday.

The Badgers (23-8, 12-6 Big Ten) secured the second seed in the conference tournament and got a sorely needed confidence boost to end the regular season after having lost five of their previous six games.

Nate Mason had 17 points for Minnesota (23-8, 11-7). The Golden Gophers had won eight straight.

Koenig hit five 3s in the second half, including baskets on three straight possessions with less than 3 minutes left. Trice had a four-point play after getting fouled on a 3-pointer with 12:24 left, before hitting a layup about 20 seconds later.

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MADISON - MADISON, Wis. (AP) " Nigel Hayes scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half, Ethan Happ had 20 points and No. 11 Wisconsin beat No. 23 Maryland 71-60 in a choppy, foul-filled game on Sunday.

The Badgers (22-5, 11-3) overcame 27 points from Terrapins guard Melo Trimble to snap a two-game losing streak and stay in a tie atop the Big Ten with Purdue.

Bronson Koenig scored all nine of his points in the second half, giving the Badgers a lift with his jump shot after the senior missed a game with a left calf injury. Wisconsin shot 51 percent in the second half.

Wisconsin pulled away slowly, turning a six-point halftime deficit into a 12-point edge with 3 minutes to go in a game that lacked flow because of frequent whistles.

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MADISON - Bryant McIntosh scored 25 points, and defensive-minded Northwestern beat No. 7 Wisconsin 66-59 on Sunday, securing an important win for the school's bid to make its first-ever NCAA Tournament.

Dererk Pardon added 11 for the Wildcats (19-6, 8-4), who confounded the Big Ten-leading Badgers by doubling dominant big man Ethan Happ.

Nigel Hayes scored nine of his 13 points in the second half for the Badgers (21-4, 10-2), who had their eight-game winning streak snapped.

The Badgers didn't let up despite falling behind by 10 with 1 minute left, closing to 60-55 with less than 15 seconds after Zak Showalter hit two foul shots.

But McIntosh followed with two free throws with 42 seconds left, and Wisconsin ran out of time.


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