WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Packers in playoffs thanks to last-second TD
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers will host San Francisco on Sunday afternoon at 3:40 in an NFC Wild Card game. The Packers won their third straight NFC North Division title yesterday with a 33-28 victory at Chicago in the regular season's closing minute. Aaron Rodgers found a wide-open Randall Cobb on fourth-and-eight for a 48-yard scoring pass with 38 seconds to go to win the see-saw battle.
The TD ended an 87-yard drive with 6:24 left, in which Green Bay converted three times on fourth down. Rodgers threw both of his touchdown passes to Cobb, after both returned from serious injuries -- Rodgers out since November fourth with a broken collarbone, and Cobb out since October 13th with a broken leg. Rodgers completed 25-of-39 passes for 318 yards with two early interceptions. He was sacked three times, but only once for any significant loss. Cobb had two catches on the day, both for touchdowns totaling 55 yards. Jordy Nelson was the Pack's top receiver with 161 yards on 10 catches. James Starks ran for 88 yards on 11 carries, and Eddie Lacy had 66 yards on 21 rushing attempts for Green Bay, which has won now four straight at Soldier Field and seven-of-eight total games against Chicago. The Bears blew their second straight chance to win the North Division title. Jay Cutler threw for 226 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Matt Forte had 22 carries for 110 yards and two scores, plus 47 yards through the air with another score. The Bears finished at 8-8, missing the playoffs for three straight seasons.
The Packers will sell about 40,000 tickets today for their Wild Card playoff contest against San Francisco on Sunday. Season-ticket holders will get the first opportunity from 9-2. If there's anything left, the general public can buy them starting at three o'clock at Ticketmaster. There will no phone sales, and all buyers will be limited to four seats each. More information is available at Packers.com Season ticket holders had a chance to buy playoff seats a month -- but apparently, many were not confident back then that the Pack would make the playoffs.
The Packers now know who they'll play next season. The schedule is determined in part by where each team finishes in their respective division standings. As always, Green Bay will play its three NFC North counterparts both at a home and on the road -- that being Chicago, Minnesota, and Detroit. Here are the Packers' other home opponents -- New England, the New York jets, Philadelphia, Carolina, and Atlanta. On the road, the Packers will face New Orleans, Buffalo, Miami, Seattle, and Tampa Bay. Dates for each game will be determined next spring, when the full 2014 NFL schedule is released.
University of Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda calls South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw the "heart and soul" of that team. The Badgers are getting ready to play the Gamecocks in Wednesday's Capital One Bowl in Orlando. Shaw, a senior, had shoulder and knee injuries this season -- and still, he did not miss a game. Shaw has completed 62-percent of his passes with 21 touchdowns, one interception, and an average of 178 passing yards per contest. His lone pick came against Tennessee, and it ended a streak of 177 passing attempts without an interception. Shaw is 26-and-5 in his starts at South Carolina. He's the only Gamecock ever to have a-thousand career rushing yards and five-thousand passing yards. Wisconsin safety Tanner McEvoy, who red-shirted at South Carolina as a quarterback in 2011, said Shaw is smart and versatile -- and he makes intelligent decisions.
The UW-Milwaukee women's basketball team lost at Drake yesterday, 79-57 in Des Moines Iowa. The Panthers were down by eight at the intermission. Drake then pulled away with an 18-to-4 run to start the second half, and Milwaukee never got closer than 11 after that. Avyanna Young had 15 points and 10 points for UWM, which dropped to 3-9. Drake had four players score in double figures, led by Kyndal Clark with 19. The Bulldogs improved to 6-5. Milwaukee's next game will be next Sunday at Omaha.
The Milwaukee Admirals shut out Iowa yesterday, 4-0 in Des Moines. Colton Sissons scored his team-leading 12th goal, and he had an assist when Anthony Bittetto scored just 53 seconds later. Austin Watson and Vinny Saponari also had goals for Milwaukee, which remains second in the American Hockey League's Midwest Division with 38 points -- eight behind Grand Rapids. Scott Darling had 33 saves for the Admirals, as he improved to 7-1 on the year. He recorded his third shutout. Milwaukee has finished the 2013 portion of its schedule. The Admirals' next game is on Friday night at Lake Erie.
University of Wisconsin forward Nic Kerdiles had a goal and an assist to help the U.S. blank Germany 8-0 yesterday at the World Junior hockey championships in Sweden. Sun Prairie native Will Butcher from the University of Denver also scored, as the Americans earned a spot in the playoff round later this week. Team USA improved to 3-0 in the tournament, and will close out the preliminary round against Canada tomorrow.
Former Milwaukee area speed-skater Sugar Todd earned her second Olympic slot yesterday, placing third in the women's one-thousand meters at the Trials near Salt Lake City. Todd qualified for the 500-meters earlier in the weekend. She's a 2008 graduate of Wauwatosa East High School. On the men's side, Shani Davis and Brian Hansen -- who both train in Milwaukee -- earned spots on the U.S. squad in the one-thousand meters. Davis won yesterday's trial, and Hansen finished second. Both also made the U-S squad in the 500-meters. The Olympic Trials resume tomorrow with the 15-hundred meters. The longer races will take place on New Year's Day.
Scores: In the NFC North... Green Bay 33, Chicago 28 Minnesota 14, Detroit 13 In men's college basketball... U-W Stevens Point 89, Whitman 79 in overtime Augustana 63, U-W Oshkosh 41 Saint Norbert 103, Alma 69 UW-La Crosse 89, Saint Scholastica 49 Beloit 70, La Verne 69 in overtime Whitworth 84, UW-Platteville 77 In women's college basketball... Drake 79, UW-Milwaukee 57 Carthage 91, UW-Whitewater 77 York 54, UW-Stevens Point 53 UW-Oshkosh 59, Simpson 52 UW-Platteville 74, Lake Forest 68 Saint Scholastica 70, UW-River Falls 57 In the American Hockey League... Milwaukee 4, Iowa 0 At the World Junior Hockey Championships... United States 8, Germany 0