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Packers 3 points of separation


Sunday's clash between two of the NFC contenders was as good as advertised but the Packers came up short to the Falcons in Atlanta 20-17 at the Georiga Dome.  Rather than count up the pretty plays delivered by Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson from the Pack and Matt Ryan or Michael Turner of the Falcons, this game was decided by a far smaller number of mistakes.  Rodgers' fumble at the goal line in the second quarter was the game's only turnover and denied Green Bay seven and at the least three points and the lead.  The Packers committed twice as many penalties including the critical 15 yard facemask on Matt Wilhem at the end of Eric Weems 40 yard kickoff return that set up the game winning 47 yard field goal by Matt Bryant.  The Falcons were also the more sure tackling team.  Green Bay made 8 plays of over 17 yards in the game, Atlanta managed just two.  It came down to the little things in a big game and the Falcons were better at those which gives them a leg up in the race for home field advantage in the NFC and puts pressure on the Packers who now trail the Bears by a game in the NFC north and stand 8th among the conference playoff contenders.

Badgers smell the roses

Wisconsin's 70-23 rout of Northwestern in the season finale Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium gives them a share of their first Big Ten title since 1999 and all but assures a trip to Pasadena in the Rose Bowl on January 1.  Wisconsin finished 11-1, 7-1 in the conference and more importantly, they climb up two spots in the BCS rankings announced Sunday night.  Auburn has overtaken Oregon at the top by .00002 percentage points, with TCU third, Stanford 4th and then Wisconsin.  Ohio State is 6th and Michigan State is 8th.  If the Badgers maintain that position in the final BCS rankings next Sunday, they'll be the Big Ten representative in the Rose Bowl, likely against the Horned Frogs of TCU.

College Hoops round up

Notre Dame defeated Wisconsin 58-51 in the final of the Old Spice Classic Tournament in Orlando, Florida on Sunday.  The Badgers (4-2) were led by Jon Leuer's 19 points.  UW Green Bay won a thriller Saturday night, defeating North Dakota State 71-69 on Bryquis Perine's jumper with :09 to play.  Rahmon Fletcher led the Phoenix (3-3) with 24 points.  GB opens Horizon League play Thursday night hosting Cleveland State.  The Green Bay women swept all three games in the Caribbean Challenge in Cancun, defeating Utah 60-40 on Saturday.  The Phoenix women are 6-0 on the season.  GB also beat Hartford and Penn State in the tournament as senior Celeste Howeisch became the 25th player in program history to go over 1000 points in her career.

Heat on the ice

The Green Bay Gamblers swept a pair of road games to move into first place in the USHL's Eastern Conference this weekend, winning at Sioux Falls Friday night and beating Fargo 3-2 in a shootout on Saturday night.  The Gamblers (13-3-2) have 28 points, one more than Cedar Rapids.  St. Norbert improved to 10-1 on the season with a pair of wins at the Lawrence University Thanksgiving Showdown, shutting out the hosts 5-0 on Saturday.

Bucks snap skid, hit the road

The Milwaukee Bucks ended a five game losing streak by defeating the Charlotte Bobcats 104-101 at the Bradley Center Saturday night.  Brandon Jennings scored 32 points and hit two free throws with 5.7 seconds to play to deliver the win.  The Bucks (6-10) played without Andrew Bogut, Drew Gooden and Corey Maggette because of injuries.  Milwaukee heads west for a two game trip this week beginning with the Utah Jazz on Monday night.