ENGLEWOOD, COLORADO – Peyton Manning will be back in uniform Sunday but not as Denver’s starting quarterback.
Manning will serve as Brock Osweiler’s backup when the Broncos (11-4) face San Diego (4-11) with a fifth consecutive AFC West title and fourth straight first-round bye on the line.
Coach Gary Kubiak said before the team’s walkthrough Wednesday night that Manning has made enough progress from his foot injury to take this next step. Rookie Trevor Siemian will serve as the third QB.
“I’m happy to be more of a part of it now than just being in street clothes and kind of quarantined in the indoor facility and working out on my own,” said Manning, whose last full practice was Nov. 13.
This marks the first time Manning has been a backup since taking over the starting job at Tennessee in 1994, when Todd Helton, already starting for an injured Jerry Colquitt, suffered a knee injury. Manning, a freshman, stepped in and never surrendered the job.
The No. 1 overall pick by the Colts in 1998, Manning started 13 years for Indianapolis before missing the 2011 season following neck fusion surgery and joining the Broncos, where he went 49-15 before being sidelined.
Manning said it’s been a frustrating six weeks and returning to the football field “sure beats being in the indoors by yourself and being in street clothes” on game day.
Manning also once again addressed Al Jazeera’s report last weekend that suggested he obtained HGH through his wife from an Indianapolis anti-aging clinic where he received post-operative treatment in 2011.
Manning has angrily denied the accusations made by a former pharmaceutical intern who has since recanted his story.
The NFL has said it will look into the allegations against Manning and others, including Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers of the Green Bay Packers, who also have vehemently denied the accusations.
“Well, that’s certainly probably appropriate,” Manning said about the league’s looking into the matter. “And I’d be glad if they come in here tonight and tomorrow and do it and get it over with.”
“The report wasn’t true Sunday. It’s not true today and it won’t ever be true,” Manning added. “And I’m still angry about it. And if the league has to do that, I’ll cooperate. The sooner the better, though, if they’re listening.”
Manning said he hasn’t decided whether to pursue legal action against Al Jazeera, saying, “I don’t want to deal with that until after the season.”
Badgers hold off Trojans
San Diego AP
After more than six decades, the Wisconsin Badgers have finally beaten the University of Southern California Trojans.
Rafael Gaglianone kicked a 29-yard field goal with 2:27 left to lift No. 23 Wisconsin to a 23-21 victory against Southern California in the Holiday Bowl on Wednesday night.
Gaglianone’s third field goal gave the Badgers (10-3) their first win in seven tries against the Trojans (8-6). The teams hadn’t met since 1966, and two of USC’s wins in the series were in the Rose Bowl, in 1953 and 1963.
“That’s a tremendous team and a tremendous program,” Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave said. “They are one of the staples of college football. When you think of college football, you think of USC, so that’s who you grow up watching.”
The Trojans got to the 50 in the final seconds before Cody Kessler threw four straight incompletions.
“It’s nice to beat them,” said linebacker Jack Cichy, the game’s defensive MVP. “My dad went to Notre Dame so I watched them as a kid.”
Wisconsin’s Sojourn Shelton intercepted Kessler with 1:44 left. Kessler was effected by a hit from behind by Cichy.
“We knew it would be a physical game. On that interception when I was coming forward he hit my arm,” Kessler said. “The last thing I remember is him hitting me. They had a relentless effort to the ball.
“That is a good defensive team that is going to make plays. It happened to make a play at a critical moment.”
Miss. St. 51, North Carolina St. 28: In Charlotte, North Carolina, Dak Prescott closed out his college career in impressive fashion, throwing for a Belk Bowl-record 380 yards and four touchdowns.
Selected as the game’s MVP, Prescott completed 25 of 42 passes and ran for 47 yards to become the fourth player in FBS history to throw for 9,000 yards and run for 2,500 yards.
Auburn 31, Memphis 10: In Birmingham, Alabama, Jeremy Johnson came off the bench to run and pass for touchdowns for Auburn.
Johnson led three touchdowns drives in a 5-minute span starting late in the third quarter. Auburn (7-6) avoided the first losing season of coach Gus Malzahn’s 11-year college career.
Music City Bowl
Louisville 27 Texas A&M 21: In Nashville, Tennessee, Lamar Jackson ran for a career-high and Music City Bowl-record 226 yards and two touchdowns and threw for two more scores to help Louisville beat Texas A&M.
The freshman, making his first start since Oct. 30, finished with a bowl-record 453 total yards, and set the school’s career rushing mark before the end of the first quarter in giving the Cardinals a 20-7 lead they never lost. Jackson ran for 126 yards in the first 15 minutes, including a 61-yard scoring run.