BC-AP Sports Preview Digest

Some of the sports stories The Associated Press is covering Thursday. A full Sports Digest will be sent at about 3 p.m. All times EST:

– PASADENA, Calif. – The first College Football Playoff features Oregon and Florida State in a Rose Bowl semifinal with the last two Heisman winners – Marcus Mariota and the Jameis Winston. Game starts 5:15 p.m.

– NEW ORLEANS – Alabama, looking to stay on track for its fourth national title in six years, faces Big Ten champion Ohio State in a national semifinal at the Sugar Bowl. Game starts 8:30 p.m.

– WASHINGTON – The Winter Classic is played in the nation’s capital, with plenty of sunshine expected when the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals take the ice. Game starts 1 p.m.

– Thursday’s three other bowl games: Outback (Wisconsin vs. Auburn, noon); Cotton (Michigan State vs. Baylor, 12:30 p.m.); Citrus (Minnesota vs. Missouri, 1 p.m.).

– Stories on Friday’s four bowls: Armed Forces (Houston vs. Pittsburgh); Taxslayer (Tennessee vs. Iowa); Alamo (UCLA vs. Kansas State); and Cactus (Oklahoma State vs. Washington).

– IRVING, Texas – Cowboys coach Jason Garrett stayed on message amid questions about his job security during three straight 8-8 seasons. Now the only question is whether he’s the coach of the year.

– RENTON, Wash. – His stats were down, but what matters is this: No one dared challenged the Seahawks deep with safety Earl Thomas patrolling the back.

– MIAMI – Dwyane Wade talks to the AP about a year in which he went back to the NBA Finals, opted out of a lucrative contract, watched LeBron James leave and became part of a rebuilding project again.

– Two games are on the NBA schedule on New Year’s Day: Denver at Chicago (8 p.m.) and Sacramento at Minnesota (8 p.m.).

– After a surprisingly strong first leg of the World Cup season, the U.S. luge team starts the European portion of the schedule this weekend with something new – expectations.