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AP source: Strong expected to accept Texas offer

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Texas will offer its head coaching job to Louisville's Charlie Strong and he is expected to accept, a person familiar with the search told The Associated Press on Friday night.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the process was being kept confidential and had not been completed. Texas has been looking to replace Mack Brown, who stepped down in December after 16 seasons with the Longhorns.

Strong is in his fourth year at Louisville and coming off his second straight double-digit victory season. He took over a program coming off three straight non-winning seasons and has gone 37-15.

The 53-year-old Strong was a longtime defensive coordinator in the Southeastern Conference before getting a chance to be head coach. He took Louisville to the BCS last season and finished 12-1 this year with start quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

New Texas athletic director Steve Patterson, hired in November to replace longtime AD DeLoss Dodds, interviewed Strong this week. Details of a contract offer to Strong were not immediately available. Brown's contract paid him more than $5 million per season.

Earlier Friday, two other coaches Texas reportedly had interest in - Baylor's Art Briles and UCLA's Jim Mora - said publicly they were staying in their current jobs.

Brown stepped down after four straight seasons that failed to live up to expectations, including this season's 8-5 record.

Strong had two stints as an assistant at Florida, first under Steve Spurrier and then as defensive coordinator for Urban Meyer's two national championship teams. In 2010, Louisville hired him to take over the program and he quickly righted the Cardinals, who are moving into the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.

Strong would be Texas' first black head football coach and he inherits a program aching to return to its place among the nation's elite programs.

Brown's Longhorns won the 2005 season national championship and returned to the national championship game after the 2009 season. But the Longhorns fell to 5-7 in 2010 and have lost at least four games each of the last three seasons.

That dropoff, including an 18-17 mark in the Big 12 over the last four seasons, frustrated Texas fans, who demand much more from the wealthiest athletic program in the country that sits in the middle of the most fertile high school recruiting grounds in the country.

Texas also has its Longhorn Network partnership with the ESPN, a 24-hour channel dedicated to Texas athletics, a deal that pays the school at least $300 million over 20 years.

No. 9 Mizzou beats No. 13 OSU 41-31 in Cotton Bowl

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Henry Josey ran for 92 yards and three touchdowns, the last a 16-yarder with 3:08 left, and No. 9 Missouri beat No. 13 Oklahoma State 41-31 in the Cotton Bowl on Friday night.

The former Big 12 and Big Eight rivals traded points on six consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter, until Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf was sacked and fumbled with a minute left. Defensive lineman Shane Ray picked up the ball and rumbled 76 yards down the sideline in front of the stunned Cowboys bench to score.

SEC East champion Missouri (12-2) matched its school record for victories, giving the SEC its 10th win in the last 11 Cotton Bowls, all against the Big 12.

Oklahoma State (10-3) had overcome a 10-point deficit by converting two turnovers by Mizzou quarterback James Franklin into points in a 3 1/2-minute span.

No. 12 Clemson tops No. 7 Ohio State, 40-35

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) Tajh Boyd threw for 378 yards and five touchdowns, Sammy Watkins had a record-setting night with 16 catches for 227 yards, and No. 12 Clemson rallied to beat No. 7 Ohio State 40-35 in the Orange Bowl on Friday night.

Boyd's 5-yard pass to Stanton Seckinger with 6:16 remaining put the Tigers (11-2) ahead to stay. Watkins caught two touchdown passes, plus became Clemson's career receptions leader and set an Orange Bowl record for yardage.

Martavis Bryant caught two more TD passes for the Tigers, who won their first Orange Bowl in 32 years.

Braxton Miller threw for 234 yards and Carlos Hyde ran for 113 more for Ohio State (12-2), which wasted a nine-point second-half lead. Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer lost for the first time in five career trips to the Bowl Championship Series.

For the second time in three years, Clemson fell apart at the Orange Bowl.

Only this time, the Tigers found a way to recover. And thanks to Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and plenty of others, the end result was Clemson's biggest win in a generation.

Boyd threw for 378 yards and five touchdowns, Watkins had a record-setting night with 16 catches for 227 yards, and No. 12 Clemson rallied to beat No. 7 Ohio State 40-35 on Friday for the school's first Orange Bowl win in 32 years.

Boyd's 5-yard pass to Stanton Seckinger with 6:16 remaining put the Tigers (11-2) ahead to stay on a night when they allowed 20 unanswered points in wasting an early 11-point lead. Watkins caught two scoring passes, plus became Clemson's career receptions leader and set an Orange Bowl record for yardage.

Martavis Bryant caught two more TD passes for the Tigers, who posted consecutive 11-win seasons for the first time in school history.

Braxton Miller threw for 234 yards and Carlos Hyde ran for 113 more for Ohio State (12-2), which led 29-20 in the second half but wound up losing its second straight game - after having won each of its previous 24 under coach Urban Meyer, whose record in Bowl Championship Series games fell to 4-1. Corey Brown had 116 yards receiving for the Buckeyes.

Miller was intercepted twice in the final 3:12, dooming the Buckeyes. Boyd threw an interception to give Ohio State the ball back, but Miller was picked again - Stephone Anthony made the play for the Tigers - and Clemson ran out the clock.

The Buckeyes had a 29-20 lead in the third after Hyde picked up 31 yards on 4th-and-inches, then went airborne to break the plane of the goal line on the next play.

Then the mistakes started coming in bunches by Ohio State. A fumbled punt return and an interception led to touchdown grabs by Watkins and Bryant, putting the Tigers up entering the fourth.

Hyde caught a 14-yard scoring pass from Miller with 11:35 left, giving the Buckeyes a one-point lead, but Clemson and Boyd went on one last scoring march to give the Tigers the BCS win they've been seeking for years.

When Clemson played in the Orange Bowl two years ago, the Tigers gave up 21 points in the final 2:29 of the first half, letting a close game get blown wide open on the way to a 70-33 loss to West Virginia.

End-of-half mistakes cost Clemson again.

Boyd's 3-yard touchdown pass to Bryant had Ohio State facing a 20-9 deficit, but two scores in a 3 1/2-minute span gave the Buckeyes a 22-20 halftime lead. Clemson left Jeff Heuerman wide open down the middle for a 57-yard touchdown pass from Miller, making it a one-score game. And on a drive aided by a 15-yard penalty against Clemson's Darius Robinson, Miller ran in from 3 yards with 12 seconds left to give the Buckeyes their first lead.

And Ohio State had to feel fortunate.

Boyd went 48 yards untouched - his longest career run - for a touchdown that opened the scoring. The Buckeyes tied it on the ensuing drive, catching a break when a third-down sack by Vic Beasley that would have forced a punt was rendered moot by his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Heuerman pulled off a fake punt later in the drive, and Miller eventually rumbled 33 yards to tie the game.

Boyd found Watkins for a 34-yard score to put Clemson back on top. Ohio State answered with a safety, sacking Boyd one play after Armani Reeves brilliantly downed a punt at the 1, putting the ball on the turf with his left hand as his right hand was touching the orange paint in the Clemson end zone.

Vikings retain counsel to look into Kluwe charges

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Vikings have retained a former chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court and a former federal trial attorney to conduct an investigation into Chris Kluwe's allegations that he was released from the team due to his support of gay marriage.

Former Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Eric Magnuson and former Justice Department attorney Chris Madel will lead the investigation.

"It is extremely important for the Vikings organization to react immediately and comprehensively with an independent review of these allegations," team President Mark Wilf said in a statement Friday, one day after Kluwe penned an article alleging that special teams coordinator Mike Priefer made anti-gay comments during team meetings.

Priefer denied Kluwe's allegations, and the Vikings said they take the matter "very seriously."

Magnuson and Madel now work at Robins, Kaplan, Ciresi and Miller. The Vikings said the investigation is already underway and interviews are being conducted with current and former members of the organization.

Kluwe said that he is pleased to see the team is taking the matter seriously and he looked forward to cooperating with the investigation. Several players have come out in support of Priefer, but Kluwe did say that he has witnesses who will corroborate his claims. He reiterated his hope that bringing this issue to light would discourage the Vikings or other teams from employing Priefer.

"I made some very serious statements and I do have the evidence to back them up," Kluwe said on Friday in a phone interview. "I don't think he's a good role model."

Kluwe was cut by the Vikings in May after eight seasons in Minnesota. He lost a competition for a job in Oakland in the preseason. When he couldn't catch on with a team during the season despite several tryouts, he said he believed that teams were turned off by his outspoken nature.

"I could still punt the ball 45 yards outside the numbers with decent hang time," Kluwe said. "When I continued to do that and still wasn't getting a job, you had to think that people were looking at what he would say on Twitter."

Kluwe has been outspoken on a number of topics, including supporting gay marriage, criticizing the Catholic church and stumping for Ray Guy to make it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He said he decided to bring his concerns with Priefer, former coach Leslie Frazier and Vikings GM Rick Spielman to light now in hopes of "getting them to take a look at themselves and examine who they are as individuals."

Madel has previously worked with the Vikings before, in 2003, when he investigated a team fundraiser that included allegations of sexual assault.

"This is a highly sensitive matter that we as an organization will address with integrity," Vikings vice president of legal affairs Kevin Warren said in a statement. "Eric and Chris have stellar reputations in both the local and national legal community. They have handled numerous cases involving a wide range of issues, and we are confident they will move swiftly and fairly in completing this investigation."

Peyton Manning is only unanimous All-Pro choice

NEW YORK (AP) Peyton Manning has responded to a lost season the way he reacted to all of his great seasons.

By having more great seasons.

Manning was the only unanimous choice for the 2013 Associated Press NFL All-Pro team Friday. It was his seventh time as a first-teamer, tying Hall of Famer Otto Graham for the most by a quarterback.

The Denver star set NFL records this season with 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 yards through the air.

He was chosen on all 50 ballots from media members who regularly cover the NFL. Manning also was an All-Pro for Indianapolis in 2003, '04, '05, '08 and '09 and last season made it as a Bronco. He's been on the All-Pro team in both seasons since missing 2011 after several neck surgeries.

"I think it's well documented that this is the second chapter of my career, and didn't know what to expect off that injury and new team, new players and new physical state after an injury," said Manning, a four-time league MVP who never missed a pro start before 2011. "So I had no idea what to expect, and I've put a lot of time and a lot of hard work in to it. But I've received a lot of help along the way from coaches and trainers and strength coaches and teammates. So I'm very grateful."

Manning still has a ways to go to set the record for most All-Pro appearances at any position. Among the players ahead of him is Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice with 10.

New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham and Indianapolis outside linebacker Robert Mathis each drew 49 votes. Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy and Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman had 48.

Minnesota kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson was the only rookie on the squad.

Eighteen NFC players and nine from the AFC made the team. Carolina and Philadelphia each had three: linebacker Luke Kuechly, center Ryan Kalil and fullback Mike Tolbert for the Panthers; NFL rushing leader McCoy, guard Evan Mathis and tackle Jason Peters for the coach Chip Kelly's Eagles.

"Just when Chip came here, we knew we were going to run the ball," McCoy said. "The linemen, they've all been healthy this whole year. They've been blocking so well for me and without those guys, it's not possible."

Only two members of the top teams in each conference made the All-Pro team. Joining Manning from the Broncos (13-3) was guard Louis Vasquez. Joining Sherman from the Seahawks (13-3) was safety Earl Thomas.

"It is very special, especially in a special season," Sherman said. "If you're having a special season and your team has four wins or five wins, I'm sure it doesn't feel as good. But when your team is winning, your defense is No. 1 in every category and you're just contributing, you're not even trying to do anything special individually, you're just contributing to the entire group. It really feels special. And with the chance to do what we have a chance to do this year, it would be fantastic."

Unlike Sherman, many of the players chosen did not enjoy huge team success this season: 12 of the 27 failed to make the playoffs.

Rounding out the offense were receivers Calvin Johnson of Detroit and Josh Gordon of Cleveland; running back Jamaal Charles of Kansas City; and tackle Joe Thomas of Cleveland.

Other All-Pros on defense were ends J.J. Watt of Houston and Robert Quinn of St. Louis; tackles Gerald McCoy of Tampa Bay and Ndamukong Suh of Detroit; outside linebacker Lavonte David of Tampa Bay; inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman of San Francisco; cornerback Patrick Peterson of Arizona; and safety Eric Berry of Kansas City.

The special teamers were Patterson, kicker Justin Tucker of Baltimore and punter Johnny Hekker of St. Louis.

One of 15 first-time All-Pros, Kuechly was last season's Defensive Rookie of the Year.

"It's an individual award, but it's a representation of the team," he said. "You got to always remember that you have four guys in front of you. You got the other linebackers, the coaches and the DBs behind you that make everything possible."

Overall, 16 clubs were represented on the All-Pro team: Denver, Kansas City, Cleveland, Baltimore, Houston and Indianapolis in the AFC; Philadelphia, Carolina, Seattle, Detroit, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Arizona, Minnesota and San Francisco in the NFC.

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AP Pro Football Writers Arnie Stapleton and Rob Maaddi and Sports Writers Steve Reed and Tim Booth contributed to this story.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Baylor coach Briles says 'no desire' for other job

Baylor coach Art Briles said Friday he has no desire to pursue another job and plans to lead the defending Big 12 champion Bears into their new stadium next fall.

With his name linked to the opening at Texas, and speculation increasing after the Bears' most successful season ever, Briles sent a tweet on his account that read "Contrary to reports and rumors I am a Baylor Bear - 2013 Big 12 Champs." The school later released a statement from the coach.

"As I've said many times, I am both humbled and honored to be the head coach at Baylor University, and believe we have something special going here," Briles said. "I look forward to leading the Bears onto the field next fall at McLane Stadium and defending our Big 12 championship that our players and coaches worked so hard to win this season. `'

The sixth-ranked Bears finished 11-2 after losing 52-42 to No. 15 UCF on Wednesday night in the Fiesta Bowl, their only Bowl Championship Series appearance. They finished the regular season with a 30-10 win over Texas to clinch their first Big 12 title, Baylor's first outright conference title since the 1980 Southwest Conference.

"There is tremendous excitement for our program's future, and I look forward to many more great seasons at Baylor," Briles said. "There is tremendous commitment from our university leadership, athletic administration, coaches and student-athletes - it truly is a great time to be a Baylor Bear."

Baylor next season moves into a new $260 million stadium on the Waco campus.

Briles in November agreed to a new 10-year contract through 2023, though the 58-year-old coach had already been signed for multiple seasons past this year. He is 44-32 at Baylor, and this season was the unanimous pick as AP All-Big 12 coach of the year.

The private school doesn't reveal financial terms, but the new deal was reportedly worth more than $4 million a season.

When Briles arrived at Baylor six years ago, the Bears had just finished their 12th consecutive losing season under four coaches since the inception of the Big 12.

Baylor is 29-10 over the past three seasons, a stretch that began in 2011 with Robert Griffin III winning the Heisman Trophy before being the No. 2 overall pick by the NFL's Washington Redskins. The Bears have been to four consecutive bowls for the first time in school history.

Briles went to Baylor from Houston, where he was 34-28 in five seasons (2003-07). The Cougars were 0-11 two seasons before he arrived, but Briles led them the 2006 Conference USA championship and four bowl games.

O'Brien takes over as Texans coach

HOUSTON (AP) Bill O'Brien has been introduced as the third coach in Houston Texans history.

Less than two years after replacing Joe Paterno as coach at Penn State, the 44-year-old O'Brien has returned to the NFL. He was an offensive assistant under Bill Belichick at New England from 2007-12.

He was introduced on Friday, taking over for Gary Kubiak, who was fired with three games left in Houston's NFL-worst 2-14 season.

O'Brien was 15-9 at Penn State, hit hard by NCAA sanctions levied for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal that cost the late Paterno his job.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Newton eager for big stage, wants to be accurate

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Cam Newton knows he'll need to bring his passes down if he wants to thrive in the NFL playoffs.

Whether it's leading Auburn to a national championship, throwing for 422 yards in his rookie debut or leading the Carolina Panthers on a last-minute drive to beat Tom Brady and the Patriots on Monday Night Football, Newton has been at his best when the games are most important.

Coach Ron Rivera said big games tend to bring out the best in Newton.

The Panthers hope that Newton continues that trend on Jan. 12 when he plays in his first playoff game.

Newton believes he and his teammates will do just that - no matter who they play.

"I feel when we are playing at our best there is really no team that can stop us." Newton said.

But the Panthers' offense hasn't been at its best in the last month.

Newton has reverted at times to his tendency to throw off his back foot, thus allowing the ball to sail over the heads of intended receivers.

Rivera said he's not concerned, though.

"We have been through this before with him before and he just makes a couple of adjustments and he gets it back down," Rivera said. "Everybody goes through ups and downs. So right now he might be in a down."

The Panthers have spent the bye week working to sharpen their offense, particularly the passing game. Over the past four games Newton has thrown for only 763 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 7.1 yards per pass attempt. It doesn't help that wide receiver Steve Smith is nursing a sprained ligament in his knee and missed Week 17.

"I need to be better, not missing throws that I'm capable of making," Newton said.

His overall body of work has been pretty solid.

Newton threw for 3,379 yards this season with a career-high 24 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions. He ran for 585 yards and six scores and was selected to the Pro Bowl.

More importantly to Newton, he got the Panthers to the playoffs with a 12-4 record and a bye for the wild-card round.

Newton said the two-week layoff between the regular season and the Panthers' first playoff game doesn't compare to the lead up to the national championship game at Auburn.

"Two different situations," Newton said. "It's nothing like college at all. I have yet to experience a playoff game, but I know the atmosphere will be hectic to say the least. There is a lot more to play for if you ask me."

Newton said his approach to the playoffs will be the same as the regular season.

"You don't want to be overthinking things," he said.

He also said getting a rest this week has been "therapeutic" for him and the team.

In recent weeks, he's battled through minor injuries to his ankle, toe, arm, head and mouth but hasn't missed a snap.

Part of that could be Newton is running a bit more than he did early in the season, which he attributed to "taking what the defense is giving me."

Newton ran 12 times in Carolina's win over Atlanta on Sunday and said after the game he doesn't want to make a living off carrying the ball that many times on a regular basis.

But the bottom line is Carolina is winning games.

The Panthers have won 11 of their last 12 games with Newton leading four game-winning drives during that span, using both his legs and his arm. And Newton is willing to do whatever it takes to continue that trend on the big stage.

"We have found a way to win," Newton said. "Prior to this year, we haven't had the success we needed (in close games), but we learned from those situations and it's showing."

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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