N.D. State takes title —Quarterback Brock Jensen ran for three touchdowns, Sam Ojuri scored twice and North Dakota State beat Sam Houston State 39-13 in a title-game rematch Saturday for its second straight FCS championship in Frisco, Texas. Jensen scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard sneak in the third quarter, and Ojuri had a 2-yard TD run on fourth-and-1 after the Bison (14-1) got the ball with a fourth-down stop.
Ole Miss crushes Pitt — Bo Wallace threw three touchdown passes and Mississippi beat Pittsburgh 38-17 in the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday to complete an impressive turnaround under first-year coach Hugh Freeze. Ole Miss (7-6) took a five-win improvement over its 2-10 finish in 2011.
Rangers near deal with Berkman — A person familiar with the situation says the Texas Rangers are close to a deal with Lance Berkman to be their designated hitter. Berkman’s deal is pending a physical, according to a person who spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press on Saturday because the contract wasn’t finalized. Multiple reports, all citing unidentified sources, said it would be a one-year deal worth at least $10 million. Texas Rangers President Nolan Ryan has publicly expressed the team’s interest in Berkman, who was limited by injuries to 32 games for St. Louis last season.
Serena, Murray win Brisbane — Serena Williams proved the break between seasons hasn’t hurt her momentum, capturing her 47th career title with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Saturday in the Brisbane International final in Australia. Williams has won 35 of her past 36 matches. In the men’s final, defending champion Andy Murray defeated Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (0), 6-4.
Radwanska takes title — Fourth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland won the ASB Classic for her 11th singles title, beating Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday in the Australian Open tuneup event in Auckland, New Zealand. Playing her first tournament since October, Radwanska dropped only one set in five matches in the event.
Li triumphs — Top-seeded Li Na of China secured a hard-fought 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 victory over Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic on Saturday to capture the inaugural Shenzhen Open in China. The 2011 French Open champion won her seventh WTA title despite serving 10 double-faults compared to none from her fifth-seeded opponent.
Spain takes Hopman Cup — Spain defeated Serbia 2-1 to win the Hopman Cup for the fourth time on Saturday in Perth, Australia. Fernando Verdasco and Anabel Medina Garrigues won the deciding mixed doubles 6-4, 7-5 against Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic. Djokovic took the first match for Serbia by overcoming a strong challenge from Verdasco 6-3, 7-5. Medina Garrigues evened it by outlasting Ivanovic 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-2.
Gasquet tops Qatar Open —Richard Gasquet won the Qatar Open in Doha for his eighth career title on Saturday, coming from a set down to beat Nikolay Davydenko 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3. Having pulled out of the Sydney tournament because of elbow trouble, Gasquet said he will be ready for the Australian Open.
Cologna leads Tour de Ski — Three-time champion Dario Cologna of Switzerland surged into the Tour de Ski overall lead after Saturday’s penultimate stage in Cavalese, Italy, overtaking Petter Northug of Norway in the 15-kilometer classical mass start race. Cologna, who finished 11th, holds a 6.5-second lead over Alexander Legkov of Russia, who was 17th. Previous leader Northug finished 28th and was 11.5 back heading into today’s final stage, the traditional climb up Mount Cermis. Three-time defending champion Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland dominated the women’s 10K event to extend her overall lead. American Kikkan Randall finished 11th.
NHL, union make progress in marathon talks — Marathon talks between the NHL and the players’ association stretched deep into Saturday night and then this morning after the sides stayed apart for most of the previous two days. Once federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh convinced the fighting factions to resume face-to-face negotiations Saturday afternoon, they were able to make progress. While no one would comment publicly on what was accomplished, it was reported that headway was being made on key issues such as the pension plan and salary cap limits.
—From wire reports