Ball State fumbled away its perfect season. The 12th-ranked Cardinals coughed up the ball four times and Buffalo scored off each turnover, routing the previously unbeaten team, 42-24, last night in the Mid-American Conference championship game at Ford Field in Detroit. Ball State (12-1) finished the regular season undefeated for the first time since 1949 but entered the game without much of a shot to bust into the Bowl Championship Series because it trailed Utah in the standings. The Bulls returned fumbles 92 and 74 yards on consecutive drives late in the third quarter to take a 28-17 lead. Buffalo (8-5) won its first MAC title, capping the program's first bowl-eligible season since joining college football's top tier of teams in 1999. NFL scouts saw Ball State quarterback Nate Davis struggle to hold on to the ball. The Cardinals fumbled four times, and Davis was involved each time. He finished 31-for-48 for 351 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Buffalo quarterback Drew Willy, meanwhile, was 19-for-28 for 206 yards with three touchdown passes to Naaman Roosevelt with no interceptions.
Mississippi:: Coach Houston Nutt came to terms on a contract extension that will keep him in Oxford until 2012 amid speculation he was a candidate for the Auburn vacancy. Nutt's new salary was not released, but several reports pegged it at around $2.5 million. Nutt made $1.7 million this season while leading the Rebels to an 8-4 record. The extension is for one year.
Texas Tech:: The Dallas Morning News reported that the school offered coach Mike Leach a five-year, $12.1 million contract that would place him among the top 15 highest-paid college football coaches. The offer would give Leach a raise and a three-year extension through 2013. Leach's current contract, a five-year, $10 million deal, expires after the 2010 season. Leach is in his ninth season with Texas Tech and guided the Red Raiders to an 11-1 record this year and a share of the Big 12 South title.
Kansas: : The Jayhawks (7-5) are headed to a bowl game for the second straight year for the first time. Kansas will meet a Big Ten opponent in the Insight Bowl on Dec. 31 in Tempe, Ariz. Last season, they beat Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
Maddux to announce retirement Monday
Greg Maddux has thrown his last pitch. The four-time Cy Young Award winner will announce his retirement Monday at the baseball winter meetings in Las Vegas. Maddux, who turns 43 in April, ranks eighth on the career wins list with 355. He went 8-13 with a 4.22 ERA last season with the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers. Maddux made three relief appearances in the playoffs for the Dodgers this year - he had an 0.00 ERA over four innings - and then filed for free agency amid speculation he would retire. Yesterday, confirmation came from the office of Maddux's agent, Scott Boras. Overall, "Mad Dog" was 355-227 with a 3.16 ERA.
Cubs: : The chairman of the team said he expects the franchise to be sold by spring training. Chairman Crane Kenney told the Chicago Tribune for a story on its Web site that the Cubs are going over the bids they've received and expect the sale by spring training. Both the team and the newspaper are owned by Chicago-based Tribune Co., which also owns The Baltimore Sun. Spring training starts in mid-February and ends April 4. Kenney also denied reports that Tribune chief executive Sam Zell would hold on to a big stake in the team after its sale.
Yankees: : Is star third baseman Alex Rodriguez considering a change of jerseys for the World Baseball Classic? Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, Rodriguez's friend and a member of the Dominican Republic team, told Yahoo Sports that Rodriguez - who represented the United States in the 2006 Classic - intends to play for the Dominicans this spring. "He wants to play for the Dominican team," Ortiz, Boston's designated hitter, told Yahoo.
Et cetera: : The Braves added catching depth by signing free agent David Ross to a two-year deal. Atlanta GM Frank Wren also confirmed that he has made an offer for free-agent pitcher A.J. Burnett, a right-hander who has a home in Monkton. ... The Indians signed pitcher Tomo Ohka to a minor league contract. The right-hander has won 50 games in nine major league seasons. ... The Angels agreed to terms with South Korean pitcher Pil Joon Jang, a right-hander, 20, on a minor league contract.
Wie tied for third at Q-school after 72
Michelle Wie offset her mistakes with enough birdies, shooting a par 72 that left her two shots behind and still in good shape at the LPGA Tour qualifying tournament in Daytona Beach, Fla. Mollie Fankhauser shot a 66 on the tougher Legends course, host of all the top players in the third round, and finished at 12-under 204. She has a one-shot lead over Japan's Shiho Oyama, who had a 71. Wie was another shot behind at 10-under 206 with Stacy Lewis (71). The 90-hole tournament concludes tomorrow with 20 players earning their LPGA cards for 2009.
NHL:: Dallas Stars left wing Sean Avery drew a six-game ban from the league for a crude comment regarding his ex-girlfriends dating other hockey players. He already has served two of the six games and will be eligible to return Dec. 16 against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Swimming:: Dagny Knutson set an American record in the 400-yard individual medley at the U.S. Short-Course championships in Atlanta, finishing in 4 minutes, 0.62 of a second. The 16-year-old from Minot, N.D., beat the mark set by Katie Hoff of Towson at last year's nationals by 0.04 of second.
College soccer:: The second-seeded Maryland men's team (20-3-0), which has a 13-game winning streak, will face seventh-seeded Creighton (16-1-2) at 1 p.m. today at Ludwig Field in the NCAA Elite Eight. Maryland is coming off a 2-1 victory over California in the Sweet 16.
More college soccer:: Courtney Barg scored in the 15th minute and Notre Dame beat Stanford, 1-0, to reach the championship of the NCAA Women's College Cup in Cary, N.C. The Fighting Irish will play North Carolina tomorrow. The Tar Heels advanced with a 1-0 win over UCLA after Yael Averbuch converted a penalty in the 41st minute.
Track and field:: Doctors expect former world and Olympic champion hurdler Liu Xiang to run again after he had surgery in Houston for a foot injury that forced him to withdraw at the starting line during the Beijing Olympics.
tonight's blast game
Matchup: Blast (1-0)
at Rockford Rampage (1-2)
Site: MetroCentre, Rockford, Ill.
Radio: 680 AM
Outlook: The Blast will be trying to duplicate its season-opening 14-4 victory over Rockford. Denison Cabral had a hat trick in the home game, leading the way to a 12-0 advantage. Since then, the Rampage has split two home games with Monterrey La Raza, with both going into overtime. M Matthew Stewart leads Rockford with five goals in three outings. D Craig Scheer, a member of the Blast's 2003 MISL championship squad, has re-signed with the team after five years at various other stops. F Adrian Bumbut and M Rich Lesmes were also recently signed.