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McCarthy: Packers' Rodgers preparing to play this weekendSubmitted: 12/13/2017
GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy says quarterback Aaron Rodgers is getting ready to play against the Carolina Panthers this weekend.

Rodgers was medically cleared to return from a collarbone injury on Tuesday night.

Rodgers missed the last seven games after breaking his right collarbone in Week 6 at Minnesota. The two-time NFL MVP is eligible to be activated on Friday, eight weeks after initially going on injured reserve.

The Packers (7-6) went 3-4 with backup Brett Hundley starting at quarterback to stay in the playoff race. They are one of four teams with at least seven wins chasing Atlanta for the second wild-card berth in the NFC.

Story By: Associated Press
Photo By: Keith Allison / CC BY-SA 2.0

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GREEN BAY (AP) - Aaron Jones' 20-yard touchdown run on his only carry, with 5:59 left in overtime, gave the Green Bay Packers a 26-20 win Sunday over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

With the passing game struggling, Green Bay (6-6) wore down the Buccaneers on the ground. Brett Hundley had runs of 18 and 7 yards on the drive to start overtime.

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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.

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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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ATLANTA, GA - The Atlanta Falcons are headed to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history after routing the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC championship game.

Matt Ryan threw for four touchdowns, including a 73-yard catch and run for a highlight-reel score by star receiver Julio Jones. The defense played just as crucial a role in containing quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense.

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