CFP championship games to return to Atlanta, South Florida

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Atlanta and South Florida have been selected to host College Football Playoff national championship games for the second time.

The CFP announced that Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, would be the site of the title game scheduled to be played in January 2026, the final game of the current 12-year media rights deal.

Miami Gardens hosted the 2021 game, following the 2020 pandemic-altered season.

“South Florida was a great host for the 2021 national championship game despite the event having to be scaled back because of COVID-19, and we look forward to returning in 2026 with a full complement of events and activities during national championship weekend,” CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock said in a statement.

The game between Alabama and Ohio State at Hard Rock Stadium, home to the Miami Dolphins, was limited to about 15,000 fans because of COVID-19 restrictions. The stadium holds more than 65,000.

In its announcement, the CFP said the host of the 2025 game also was selected and would be announced at a later date.

A person familiar with the decision, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the official announcement had not been made, said Mercedes-Benz Stadium would be the site of that game.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported that decision.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the 75,000-seat, retractable-roof stadium, is home to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United and the Peach Bowl.

A news conference has been scheduled at the stadium to make the announcement. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens are scheduled to attend.

The first Alabama-Georgia championship game in 2018 was played in Atlanta and won by the Crimson Tide in overtime.

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.