Notre Dame ready for BCS Championship picture to come into focus

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Notre Dame ready for BCS Championship picture to come into focus

Notre Dame players won't admit to cheering for either side in Saturday's SEC Championship, as well they shouldn't. There won't be any remarks about "old man football" or Alabama's loss to Texas A&M. That's the product of a team knowing it won't do itself any favors by lending its BCS Championship opponent any added motivation, so let the platitudes fly.

"No, not really," linebacker Manti Te'o said when asked if he had any rooting interest in Saturday's game. "Good luck to both teams and just excited to see who we play."

The best bet for Notre Dame's Jan. 7 opponent is Alabama, which will face Georgia as an eight-point favorite. Despite its one loss, there are plenty around the country who consider Alabama college football's best team and expect Nick Saban & Co. to roll Georgia and then Notre Dame in the BCS Championship.

Online betting site Bovada.com pegged Alabama as a 9 12-point favorite over Notre Dame if the two teams meet in the BCS Championship. If it's Georgia, Notre Dame would be three-point underdogs. Make no mistake: A perfect record isn't enough for the odds to not be stacked against the Irish.

"Were all going to strap up our pads the same way, were all going to strap our chinstraps the same way," Te'o said, dismissing Notre Dame's already-anointed underdog status. "We understand how dominant the SEC has been in the past. But its definitely and opportunity that were looking forward to, and were going to prepare the same way that weve been preparing all week and all year."

Heading into the BCS Championship as underdogs is sure to rankle those who are quick to point out the SEC's shortcomings. But the SEC has earned the right to be favored over whoever they play in the BCS Championship by virtue of winning the last six.

Alabama has won two of the last three titles, and if they reach this year's game 17 of their players would experience their third BCS Championship in four years. While Notre Dame players talked about learning what it takes to be undefeated, Alabama players know what it takes to win a championship.

Georgia doesn't have that same track record of success in the last four years, nor do they look as strong as Alabama on paper. While the Tide went into Death Valley and beat LSU, Georgia's only big win came in a sloppy neutral field win over Florida. That's not to totally discount Georgia's win -- it was Florida's only loss of the season -- but they were pasted by South Carolina in Columbia and feasted on blowouts against the dregs of the SEC and a weak non-conference slate.

Statistically, Georgia is allowing 163 rushing yards per game, good for 69th among FBS teams. They're great against the pass (No. 9 nationally) but that's not Notre Dame's strength on offense.

Even Georgia's passing advantage against Notre Dame's secondary can be mitigated by the combined seven throwing touchdowns allowed by the Irish defense -- and that's with facing a handful of top-40 passing offenses.

Alabama, on the other hand, has the same footprint of Notre Dame. Their air attack isn't great (both are No. 77 in passing yards per game) but doesn't turn the ball over, allowing a solid running game to carry the offensive load. And those running backs generally help score enough points to net victories built on defensive success.

What'll be interesting to watch Saturday is Alabama's ability to slow Aaron Murray and Georgia's passing game. Johnny Manziel's success in Tuscaloosa led to Texas A&M's mid-November upset, although the Tide did successfully shut down Tennessee's potent air attack in Knoxville to balance that out. Perhaps we'll figure out if Alabama's secondary can be exploited by quarterbacks who don't play like they've set their video game difficulty level to rookie on Saturday.

Notre Dame players and coaches are in an enviable position Saturday evening, able to kick back and do some casual scouting while taking in a game that'll decide who they play in a little over a month. The Irish have already earned their trip to Miami, and tomorrow we'll find out of Alabama or Georgia will be joining them.

"Ill enjoy it as a fan and as a future opponent," Te'o said. "Just watching them, how they work and trying to get tendencies in that game. My main thing is finding out who were going to play and then getting a sneak peek of what to look forward to."

White Sox trade catcher Dioner Navarro to Blue Jays

White Sox trade catcher Dioner Navarro to Blue Jays

The White Sox made room for the return of veteran catcher Alex Avila by trading Dioner Navarro to the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.

The club activated Avila off the 15-day disabled list and acquired left-handed minor league pitcher Colton Turner in exchange for Navarro, who spent the previous two seasons with the Blue Jays. Turner, who has a combined 1.33 ERA in 44 minor league games this season, has been assigned to Double-A Birmingham.

Navarro hit .210/.267/.339 with six home runs and 32 RBIs in 298 plate appearances this season.

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Avila, who has been on the disabled list since July 5 with a strained hamstring, went 7-for-11 with a home run and two walks on his assignment. He caught 12 innings during his rehab, including seven on Thursday.

“I’m ready to go,” Avila said.

The team has been happy with how rookie catcher Omar Narvaez has performed since he joined the club in July when Avila went on the DL. Narvaez has an .831 OPS in 43 plate appearances this season.

“I know Omar, with him being here and doing what he’s doing, you want him to get a little more of the shot of being able to play,” Ventura said. “I think he’s worked his way into that.”

Luis Solignac wins MLS Goal of the Week for opener in Montreal

Luis Solignac wins MLS Goal of the Week for opener in Montreal

Luis Solignac has made a big difference to the Chicago Fire’s attack since joining the team in early August.

On Friday, the Argentine forward added an award to show for his impact on the team. He won MLS Goal of the Week for his opening goal in the 3-0 win at Montreal on Aug. 20.

The curling goal from Solignac was his first in a Fire uniform. He also drew a penalty kick, which David Accam converted, in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with the LA Galaxy.

In Solignac’s 312 minutes, nearly three and a half games, the Fire have scored seven goals. Not bad considering the Fire were averaging less than a goal per game before Solignac’s arrival.

Watch: Ben Zobrist belts 'Let It Go' at Disneyland

Watch: Ben Zobrist belts 'Let It Go' at Disneyland

In case you were wondering whether Ben Zobrist knows all the words to "Let It Go," he does.

The Cubs' All-Star second baseman spent at least part of the team's off day with his family at Disneyland, and he posted this Instagram video of him and his daughter screaming along to the song from the movie "Frozen."

Check it out:

Some great family time for Zobrist. His wife has a challenger for the family's best singer. But not really.