NCAA

Kiffin leaving Alabama one week before national championship game

Kiffin leaving Alabama one week before national championship game

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Lane Kiffin isn't sticking around to run Alabama's offense in the national championship game, bringing an end to a successful but sometimes tense three-year pairing with Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban.

Saban said Monday that Kiffin will leave to focus on his new job as Florida Atlantic's head coach. Incoming offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will replace him for the Jan. 9 game against Clemson in Tampa, Florida.

Kiffin and Saban said they made the decision after meetings following the Peach Bowl win over Washington.

"We appreciate all that Lane has done for our football program over the last three years," Saban said. "We sat down following the Washington game and talked about the time demands of managing both jobs, and we recognized that it is best for our players, and for Lane, that we allow him to turn his full attention to his new head coaching role at FAU.

"This wasn't an easy decision and we appreciate the way Lane handled this in terms of doing what is best for our team. At the end of the day, both of us wanted to put our players in the best position to be successful."

Sarkisian, who was fired from USC last season , had already been announced as Kiffin's successor. He's been working as an offensive analyst for the Tide since the week after the opener against the Trojans and now has only a week to prepare for the national title game.

Kiffin said it became apparent over the last couple of weeks that it would be better for both programs if he focused solely on the Florida Atlantic job. After meeting with Saban Sunday night and Monday morning, "we mutually decided that it was in everyone's best interests for the players and the program for Coach Sarkisian to take over all responsibilities as offensive coordinator for the championship game."

"This was a very difficult decision, but it's a decision made in the best interests of the program," Kiffin said. "I look forward to helping Alabama win another championship, and would like to thank Coach Saban, the staff, and all the players and fans for the past three years at UA for an unforgettable time and championship run. Roll Tide!"

Saban hired Kiffin months after his firing at USC - famously at the airport after a late-night flight back from a game. The position gave him the chance to revitalize his career.

The pairing worked well on the field, when the Tide won three Southeastern Conference titles and earned a shot at a second national championship. But it was often tense.

Saban could be seen a number of times on the sidelines giving Kiffin an earful during games.

Kiffin was asked before the Peach Bowl if he could recall the happiest moment with Saban in a game.

"I don't recall a happy moment," he said, adding that he only remembers the many times he was chewed out. "I won't take that part of the process with me, though."

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal

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AP

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal

BOX SCORE

PALO ALTO — Bryce Love rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown despite missing most of the fourth quarter after aggravating an ankle injury, and No. 20 Stanford held off California 17-14 on Saturday to keep its Pac-12 title hopes alive.

K.J. Costello completed 17 of 26 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown, Ben Edwards made a key interception in the fourth quarter and Cameron Scarlett rushed for 49 yards on the final drive in place of Love to help the Cardinal (8-3, 7-2 Pac-12) milk the clock and win its eighth straight Big Game.

Stanford can earn a spot in the Pac-12 championship game against USC but needs some help.

The Cardinal can get there if No. 15 Washington State loses to No. 16 Washington next week. If the Cougars — who beat Stanford 24-21 on Nov. 4 — beat the Huskies, they get the nod because of the tiebreaker.

The nation's leading rusher going into the game, Love was held in check most of the game by Cal's defense and sat out the final 11:43 after re-injuring his ankle that has bothered him for the past month. He did stay on the field long enough to score a 57-yard touchdown — his 11th run of 50 yards or longer this season.

Scarlett, Love's primary backup all season, also came up big for Stanford. Scarlett rushed for 61 yards, the majority coming on the Cardinal's last drive that took the final 7:25. Scarlett's 2-yard gain on 4th-and-1 kept the drive going.

Patrick Laird ran for 153 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries while Ross Bowers passed for 182 yards and a touchdown for California. The Golden Bears (5-6, 2-6) need a win in their final game to become bowl eligible in coach Justin Wilcox's first season.

THE TAKEAWAY

California: The Bears made the Cardinal sweat and kept the game a lot closer than many thought possible. Wilcox's defense did a good job bottling up Love most of the game but couldn't stop Scarlett on the final drive which was huge. Still, there are plenty of positives for Cal to take out of this one.

Stanford: It wasn't the best game for David Shaw's team but the Cardinal gritted it out and held off a pesky Cal team that had plenty to play for. The conference title can still happen but before that Stanford has a pretty big game coming up against Notre Dame.

UP NEXT

California: Ends the regular season at UCLA on Saturday.

Stanford: The Cardinal stay home and will host No. 9 Notre Dame on Saturday. Stanford has won the last two and six of last eight against the Irish.

Former Cal running back suffers scary spine injury, taken to hospital

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AP

Former Cal running back suffers scary spine injury, taken to hospital

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The New Orleans Saints say running back Daniel Lasco has feelings in his extremities after suffering a spinal injury making a tackle on a kickoff return during today's game at Buffalo.

Lasco was loaded into an ambulance on the field and taken to a hospital.

He was hurt six minutes into the second quarter when he appeared to lower his head while tackling Bills returner Brandon Tate. 

Lasco played four seasons at the University of California, Berkeley. He gained 1,471 yards from scrimmage with 14 touchdowns his junior year. In 2015 as a senior, Lasco was limited to nine games and only totaled 355 yards. 

The Saints selected Lasco in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Associated Press contributed to this report