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Heupel, Kelly, Saban top coach finalists

(AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

UCF's Josh Heupel, Notre Dame's Brian Kelly and Alabama's Nick Saban are the finalists for The Associated Press national college football coach of the year after leading their teams to unbeaten regular seasons.

The winner will be announced Monday at noon EST.

Heupel guided No. 7 Central Florida (12-0) to a second consecutive unbeaten season. The American Athletic Conference champions will play No. 11 LSU in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1. Kelly led the third-ranked Fighting Irish (12-0) to its first College Football Playoff appearance. The Irish play No. 2 Clemson in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 29. Saban has No. 1 Alabama (13-0) in the playoff for the fifth consecutive season. The Crimson Tide won the Southeastern Conference and face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 29.

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Notre Dame's Kelly favors 8-team playoff

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) If it's any consolation to Ohio State, Washington, Georgia and UCF, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly feels their pain - somewhat - of not being in the College Football Playoff.

"We're forcing out a conference champion," Kelly said Saturday before the No. 3 Irish went through their first post-finals workout for the Dec. 29 Cotton Bowl against No. 2 Clemson (13-0) in a CFP semifinal.

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Rivers, Fresno St. take down Arizona St.

LAS VEGAS (AP) Running back Ronnie Rivers might be the embodiment of Fresno State's turnaround.

It wasn't guaranteed Rivers would be able to play this season after sustaining a foot injury in spring practice, and he was limited by a shoulder injury late in the year. But Rivers was there, leading the way as the Bulldogs completed their journey after going 1-11 two seasons ago.

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Utah State cruises in New Mexico Bowl

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) Utah State walked into the New Mexico Bowl with one of its best records in school history but uncertainty. Its head coach, Matt Wells, left to take the Texas Tech job. Interim coach Frank Maile had to prepare the Aggies with an army of graduate assistants and an announcement a new coach was coming next month.

North Texas, meanwhile, was coming into Albuquerque with experienced coach Seth Littrell and highly touted quarterback Mason Fine.

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Mizzou asst. arrested for missing court

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) An assistant football coach at the University of Missouri-Columbia has been arrested for missing a court date on a traffic ticket.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Vernon Hargreaves was arrested Saturday after a University Police officer discovered an arrest warrant related to a court date Hargreaves missed last January.

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Ga. Southern wins Camelia on FG at :00

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) Tyler Bass found a way to top his last-play 50-yard field goal to end the first half.

Bass kicked a 40-yarder as time expired to give Georgia Southern a 23-21 victory over Eastern Michigan in the Camellia Bowl on Saturday night.

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Tulane salvages year with Cure Bowl win

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) From a 2-5 start to Cure Bowl champions.

Tulane (7-6) capped a turnaround season under coach Willie Fritz with a 41-24 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday, the Green Wave's first postseason win in 16 years.

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App. St. rolls past MTSU in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (AP) While the future of Appalachian State interim coach Mark Ivey is unknown, Mountaineers players left no doubt about how much they appreciated the way he handled his lone game in charge, carrying him off the field in triumph.

"It was an honor," said Ivey, a former Appalachian State player who took over when Scott Satterfield left for Louisville two weeks ago. "I'm glad that the kids think enough about me to want to celebrate with me and have fun because I love every one of those kids. They are exceptional."

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Memphis RB Henderson won't play in bowl

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Memphis will be playing the Birmingham Bowl without All-America running back Darrell Henderson.

Henderson tweeted Wednesday that he's bypassing his senior season to enter the NFL draft, but his post didn't indicate whether he'd play in the Dec. 22 bowl game against Wake Forest (6-6). Memphis coach Mike Norvell has since clarified that the Tigers (8-5) won't have Henderson for the bowl game.

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Colorado coach Tucker adds coordinators

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) New Colorado football coach Mel Tucker added a few familiar faces from Georgia to serve as his coordinators.

Tucker brought in Jay Johnson to run the offense and Tyson Summers to oversee the defense in moves announced Saturday by the school. Both were on staff with Tucker when he served as the defensive coordinator of the Bulldogs.

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