BREES, THOMAS LEAD SAINTS PAST DALLAS: Drew Brees completed 34 of 41 passes for 392 yards and four touchdowns, and the New Orleans Saints beat the Dallas Cowboys 49-17 on Sunday night.
The Saints (7-2) has an NFL-record 40 first downs and a franchise-record 625 total yards.
Brees connected with Kenny Stills on a 52-yard touchdown pass, with Marques Colston on a 22-yard scoring strike, with running back Pierre Thomas for a 1-yard score and with running back Darren Sproles for a 28-yard score with 5 seconds left in the first half. The T.F. South grad Thomas also had a 1-yard rushing touchdown.
DeMarco Murray had 89 yards rushing on 16 carries and a touchdown for Dallas (5-5) early in the second quarter. The Cowboys did not score again until Tony Romo's 21-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Williams in the last minute of the third quarter.
CRUSADERS DROP SEASON OPENER: With four players on the bench to injury, the Valparaiso University women's basketball team dropped its season opener to St. Louis 78-56 Sunday.
Charae Richardson scored 15 points, but drew her third foul less than seven minutes into the game. Sharon Karungi, who had a 23-point, 14-rebound debut in Valpo's exhibition opener, didn't factor into Sunday's tilt as she was called for her third foul with four minutes to go in the first half. She later fouled out with 11:25 to play. Karungi registered just one shot attempt and two rebounds.
Marian Catholic grad Aliyah Isaac was among those who didn't play due to injury.
NO. 18 BOILERMAKERS NARROWLY BEAT BALL STATE: KK Houser matched her career-high of 21 points Sunday as Purdue halted a late rally by Ball State and won 63-57 in the season opener for both teams.
Houser went on a 15-point streak after drilling two 3's to tie up the score at the end of the first half and scored nine points straight at the start of the second for the Boilermakers. No. 18 Purdue was not tied at the half in any game last season.
Brittany Carter led the Cardinals with 19 points, hitting a jumper with 1:14 left to cut the deficit to three. Ball State started slow in the second, but went on a 12-0 run at 5:22 with a steal by Carter.
Whitney Hays made a three-point play after an assist from Houser to stretch Purdue's lead to 61-55 with 13.6 seconds left.
PNC NETS FIRST WIN: Myles Merchand scored 23 points to lead Purdue North Central (1-2) to an 88-60 victory over Moody Bible Institute on Friday at the LaPorte Civic Auditorium. Justin Reynolds added 18 points and Tyler Kowalkowski 16 for the Panthers.
FLORIDA ST. TAKES FIRM HOLD OF 2ND IN BCS STANDINGS: Florida State took grasp of second place in the BCS standings behind top-ranked Alabama and grabbed the inside track to the national championship game.
The Seminoles were second last week, but seemed likely to get passed by Oregon if the Ducks could have remained unbeaten. Stanford, however, handed Oregon its first loss of the season Thursday night and Florida State benefited.
The Seminoles (.9619) are a solid second in the USA Today coaches' poll and Harris poll, and second in the computer rankings that make up the final third of a BCS average.
Ohio State (.8926) is third in the polls but fourth in the computers. The Buckeyes are closer to fourth-place Stanford (.8689) than Florida State.
Unbeaten Baylor (.8618) is fifth, not far behind the Cardinal (.8689).
Unbeaten Fresno State of the Mountain West moved up to No. 14. The Bulldogs need a top-12 finish to secure the so-called BCS buster bid as an automatic qualifier from a non-AQ conference. They also need to be the highest rated non-AQ champion.
Undefeated Northern Illinois of the Mid-American Conference is 15th and trying to be a BCS Buster for the second straight season.
JOHNSON WIDENS POINTS LEAD ON KENSETH'S BAD DAY: Jimmie Johnson has taken control of the championship battle following a disastrous performance by Matt Kenseth at Phoenix International Raceway.
Johnson widened his lead in the Sprint Cup standings to 28 points over Kenseth heading into next Sunday's season finale at Homestead by finishing third in a workmanlike performance for the five-time champion.
Kenseth had a horrific race Sunday as his title hopes were derailed by an ill-handing Toyota. He was struggling early, complained to crew chief Jason Ratcliff he didn't even know what to tell him to fix, and wound up 23rd.
Kevin Harvick won the race for the second year in a row after Carl Edwards ran out of gas headed to the white flag. Harvick sailed by on the last lap for his fourth win of the year.
COUGHLIN WINS 5TH NHRA PRO STOCK TITLE: Jeg Coughlin won his fifth Pro Stock title Sunday in the Auto Club NHRA Finals, joining John Force, Shawn Langdon and Matt Smith as season champions.
Coughlin, a four-time event winner this season in his Dodge Avenger, took the title at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona when his only remaining challenger, Jason Line, lost in the second round of eliminations.
Around the horn
No. 6 seed Valparaiso will face No. 3 Oakland at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Rochester, Mich., to open Horizon League men's soccer tournament play. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw earlier in the season at Oakland. ... Merrillville senior golfer Maggie Connelly signed her National Letter of Intent on Wednesday to attend IPFW on a golf scholarship. She is a four-year varsity golfer & swimmer for the Pirates.