Today is Saturday, October 10, 2015.
|Saturday, October 10, 2015|
|National Basketball Assoc.|
|Trail Blazers||vs.||Kings||7:00 (EDT)|
|Friday, October 9, 2015|
|National Basketball Assoc.|
Hawks rally late for 103-93 win over Pelicans
Friday, October 9 at 11:32 PM (EDT)
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Dennis Schroder scored 11 points as the Atlanta Hawks overcame a slow first half to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 103-93 Friday night.
Atlanta took its first lead at the end of the third quarter, then pulled away in the fourth during the preseason game at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
Anthony Davis led the Pelicans with 20 points in 26 minutes.
PELICANS: Tyreke Evans had 17 points. . New Orleans shot under 40 percent in both halves.
HAWKS: Atlanta made 30.8 percent (12 of 39) in the first half. . Atlanta took its first lead in the game with 4 seconds left in the third. . Al Horford, Kyle Korver and Kent Bazemore each had 10 points.
STAR WATCH: Davis (8 of 15) and Bazemore (2 for 3) were the only starters from either team to shoot at least 50 percent.
UP NEXT: New Orleans visits Chicago on Monday night. Atlanta hosts San Antonio on Wednesday night.
Len, Morris lead Suns to 101-85 preseason win over Jazz
Saturday, October 10 at 1:18 AM (EDT)
PHOENIX (AP) Center Alex Len scored 14 of his team-high 21 points in the first half and Markieff Morris added 18 points in 16 minutes, leading the Phoenix Suns to a 101-85 win over the Utah Jazz Friday night.
Gordon Hayward led Utah with 24 points, including four 3-pointers in a team-high 32 minutes.
Utah led 47-45 at halftime. The Suns pulled away behind a 3-pointer from Brandon Knight late in the third quarter that gave them an 80-67 lead.
JAZZ: Coach Quin Snyder said before the game he wanted to see how a bigger backcourt combination is developing, with the emphasis on how Hayward, Alec Burks and Rodney Hood played together. Burks played 23 minutes and scored six points, and Hood played 24 with eight points.
SUNS: Forward Jon Leuer, who had 17 points and 13 rebounds in the Suns' preseason opener against Sacramento, didn't see action until the second half and finished with five points and five rebounds.
BOOKER SUSPENDED: Jazz forward Trevor Booker will miss one regular season game without pay after the NBA suspended him for his altercation with the Los Angeles Lakers' Roy Hibbert in a preseason game earlier this week. Booker, who played Friday and scored eight points, was punished by the league for striking Hibbert with an open hand to the head.
MORRIS AT HOME: Morris was critical of the home fans last season and drew more ire when he asked out of Phoenix in the wake of his brother Marcus' trade from the Suns in the offseason. He said he didn't hear any boos Friday.
''Me and the fans got something special, and it's going to continue to be special,'' Morris said. ''I'm going to win them back and just come with it on the court.''
DNP/REST: Jazz guard Trey Burke and forward Joe Ingles were given Friday night off. Burke is averaging 12.5 points, four rebounds and four assists in two preseason games. Suns starting guard Eric Bledsoe did not play Friday, rested by coach Jeff Hornacek.
UP NEXT: The Jazz host the Portland Trail Blazers in their fourth preseason game on Monday night. The Suns host the Houston Rockets in their third preseason game on Tuesday night.
Anthony strong again as Knicks beat Wizards 115-104
Friday, October 9 at 11:02 PM (EDT)
WASHINGTON (AP) Carmelo Anthony continued his return from a knee operation with his second straight strong performance, scoring 21 points in 25 minutes as the New York Knicks beat the Washington Wizards 115-104 on Friday night.
Anthony, who underwent left knee surgery in February, shot 10 of 15, including 4 of 5 in the second half. He made a pretty turnaround fade away from 18 feet with 1.9 seconds remaining in the first half.
In his first game since surgery, Anthony shot 8 of 10 for 17 points against Paschoalotto Bauru of Brazil.
Washington's Bradley Beal provided the most memorable shot of the evening with a driving dunk midway in the third quarter. Beal leaped, and the ball hit the Knicks' Kristaps Porzingis in his shoulder on the way down.
Porzingis, a 7-foot-3 Latvian taken fourth overall in the draft, had nine points and 10 rebounds.
New York's Derrick Williams had 23 points - 13 in the fourth quarter.
Marcin Gortat led the Wizards with 15.
OUBRE IN: Kelly Oubre Jr., Washington's first pick in the draft, played for the first time and did not score in 24 minutes. He missed all seven shots he attempted.
THEY'RE OUT: Knicks C/F Kevin Seraphin was out with a sore right knee. Coach Derek Fisher said he hoped Seraphin would be ready to play Monday night. G Arron Afflalo was out with a sore left hamstring.
The Wizards were missing G Garrett Temple (left hamstring), C/F DeJuan Blair (left knee), F Drew Gooden (glute), G/F Alan Anderson (left ankle), F Jared Dudley (back) and G/F Martell Webster (right hip).
SLOWDOWN?: Washington played at a much slower pace than they did in putting up 129 points against Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
UP NEXT: New York hosts Philadelphia on Monday. Washington hosts Paschoalotto Bauru on Sunday night.
|Saturday, October 10, 2015|
|Major League Baseball|
|Cubs||vs.||Cardinals||4:37 (EDT) Preview|
By JORDAN GARRETSON - STATS Writer
Saturday, October 10 at 1:00 AM (EDT)
The St. Louis Cardinals weren't exactly firing on all cylinders when they ended the regular season, but they looked the part of baseball's best team in their playoff opener.
They'll look for Jaime Garcia to continue his impressive comeback campaign and lead them to another victory Saturday against the Chicago Cubs in Game 2 of the NL division series.
St. Louis finished with baseball's best record despite struggling down the stretch, losing six of its final nine with shutouts in each of the last three.
The Cardinals found themselves on the right side of a shutout Friday in a 4-0 victory. John Lackey yielded two hits over 7 2-3 innings, while Kevin Siegriest and Trevor Rosenthal recorded all five of their outs on strikeouts.
The dominant pitching performance was hardly a surprise given St. Louis' major league-best 2.94 ERA during the season, including a 2.99 mark from its starters.
Meanwhile, the Cubs lost for the first time in 10 games going back to Sept. 26. They were hitless through the first five innings and finished with two singles by Kyle Schwarber and another from Addison Russell in their first division series game in 2,561 days.
Chicago had won six of the final nine regular-season meetings while averaging 5.9 runs, scoring eight-plus in two of its last three at St. Louis.
"We could not get anything generated," manager Joe Maddon said. "They've pitched really well all season, that's a big reason they won 100 games."
Jon Lester was also stout for Chicago, surrendering three runs with nine strikeouts in 7 1-3, but the Cubs were 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position. Nos. 3 and 4 hitters Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo were 0 for 7 with three strikeouts and both grounded into double plays.
Bryant, Rizzo and Starlin Castro are a combined 0 for 21 with six strikeouts in the first two playoff games. Schwarber and Dexter Fowler have combined for seven of Chicago's 10 hits.
The Cardinals' youngsters came through, however, as rookies Tommy Pham and Stephen Piscotty both homered in the eighth inning, providing some extra cushion on top of Matt Holliday's first-inning RBI single.
Catcher Yadier Molina was also back in action for the first time since Sept. 20 due to a strained left thumb ligament. He went 0 for 3 but seemed to help the St. Louis staff thrive.
''You can tell he's been anxious to get in there," manager Mike Matheny said. "The way he moved behind the plate, the way he and John were working, he is so valuable to our club in so many ways."
Garcia (10-6, 2.43 ERA) has a chance to pull St. Louis within one victory of its fifth consecutive NL Championship Series appearance. He's been a revelation in his comeback from career-threatening thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in July 2014, posting the lowest ERA of his career and the best among the Cardinals' starters over his 20 outings.
"Every time I take that mound, basically take it as if it's your last time ever to pitch in a major league game," said Garcia, who is 0-2 with a 4.23 ERA in six career playoff starts.
The left-hander has been particularly reliable at home, going 5-2 with a 1.70 ERA in 10 outings.
This marks his first start in eight days after he gave up two runs over a season-low four innings in a 4-0 loss to Atlanta in his final regular-season turn. He's 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA in six career games against the Cubs but hasn't faced them since 2012. Castro (4 for 13), Chris Denorfia (2 for 10) and Fowler (0 for 9) are the only current players with more than three at-bats against him.
For the Cubs, Kyle Hendricks (8-7, 3.95) carries a 12-inning scoreless streak into his postseason debut. He has struck out 25 with just two walks over 18 innings spanning his last three starts.
Hendricks is 0-1 with a 3.97 ERA in four starts against St. Louis, and gave up four runs over five innings in the Cubs' 7-4 road loss May 5.
Chicago has never come back to win a playoff series in which it trailed 0-2, losing all seven times.
"(Saturday's) a new day. We've got Kyle on the mound. If we split this series, it's all positive," catcher David Ross told MLB's official website. "Let's get tomorrow. Then we'll be even. Then it's a shorter series, and we get to go home."
|Mets||vs.||Dodgers||6:07 (EDT) Preview|
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO - STATS Writer
Saturday, October 10 at 2:44 AM (EDT)
The Los Angeles Dodgers have baseball's best one-two punch in a starting rotation, but the New York Mets are looking to deliver a crucial blow to take a commanding lead in this NL division series.
After Jacob deGrom outpitched Clayton Kershaw in a sterling performance, Noah Syndergaard may need to do the same opposite Zack Greinke on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.
Los Angeles' starters finished the regular season with a 3.24 ERA to rank second in the majors and a lot of the credit goes to having Kershaw and Greinke (19-3, 1.66 ERA) at the front of the rotation.
Their importance to the Dodgers is obvious as they're contemplating bringing back Kershaw - the reigning NL Cy Young winner and MVP - on three days' rest for a potential Game 4 in New York.
The ace, however, lost his fifth straight postseason start Friday when the Mets beat the Dodgers 3-1 in Game 1. DeGrom tossed seven scoreless innings and matched Tom Seaver's postseason franchise record of 13 strikeouts from 1973.
"To have him go out there against Clayton and win the game is a huge lift for us," said manager Terry Collins. "This is a good start for a team that hadn't been in the postseason for a long time. We needed a confidence boost and Jake gave it to us."
Syndergaard (9-7, 3.24) is gaining confidence of his own after finishing an impressive rookie season by allowing three runs with 21 strikeouts in 14 2-3 innings over his last two starts.
The right-hander, though, is 2-5 with a 4.23 ERA in 12 starts on the road compared to 7-2 with a 2.46 ERA in 12 at home. However, he showed some improvement in his last two road starts, going 1-0 while allowing three runs and fanning 19 in 14 2-3 innings.
"To me it's just all about getting comfortable out there on the mound, on the road," Syndergaard said. "I feel like on the last couple starts I had on the road I had a lot of success, lot of comforts.
"The big thing for me was being able to execute my pitches and become more of a pitcher, not a thrower. And I feel like that's going to play a huge role."
Syndergaard battled through 107 pitches in six innings opposite Kershaw at Los Angeles on July 3, yielding one run and two hits with six strikeouts while not getting in a decision in a 2-1 win.
Greinke takes the ball after completing the season with the majors' lowest qualifying ERA since Greg Maddux's 1.63 with Atlanta in 1995. It's the second-lowest in Dodgers' history behind Rube Marquard's 1.58 in 1916.
Greinke's dominance included allowing two runs and eight hits in 14 innings while going 1-0 in two starts against the Mets. That victory came at home July 4 when the right-hander tossed seven scoreless innings opposite Matt Harvey.
Greinke is 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA over four postseason starts with the Dodgers after going 1-1 with a 6.48 ERA in three with Milwaukee in 2011.
He thinks the struggles early in his career laid the foundation for his recent success.
"That's one thing I think experience kind of helps being in the playoffs," Greinke said. "Because I do sort of treat it sort of similar to just a regular game, or I try to as much as possible, where the first time in the playoffs is a little bit different. I feel it's helped out just trying to keep it as similar as just any other game."
Greinke will try to slow down Daniel Murphy, who had a solo home run Friday after hitting .358 with three homers and 10 RBIs over the final 14 regular-season games. The second baseman, though, is 1 for 5 off Greinke this year while David Wright is 3 for 9 in their all-time matchup.
The third baseman had a two-run single in Game 1 and owns a .363 average in 69 career meetings with the Dodgers, including the postseason.
|Friday, October 9, 2015|
|Major League Baseball|
|Rangers||6||vs.||4||Blue Jays||Final Recap|
Alberto, Rangers beat Blue Jays in 14th, lead ALDS 2-0
By IAN HARRISON - Associated Press
Friday, October 9 at 7:35 PM (EDT)
TORONTO (AP) Fed up with his own bat, Hanser Alberto grabbed one belonging to teammate Delino DeShields.
Good choice, rookie.
Alberto, the seldom-used backup infielder, lined a tiebreaking single to center in the 14th inning, helping the Texas Rangers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-4 for a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five American League Division Series.
''I didn't even ask him for it,'' Alberto said, smiling at DeShields sitting beside him on the postgame interview podium. ''Good wood, too, you know?''
It sure was. DeShields then picked the bat up and put it to good use, driving in another run with an infield hit after Liam Hendriks replaced La Troy Hawkins (0-1),
The underdog Rangers will try to sweep the Blue Jays at home in Game 3 Sunday. Martin Perez will start for Texas against Marco Estrada.
''This is an uphill battle but it's been done before,'' Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin said.
San Francisco was the last team to do it, coming back to beat Cincinnati three straight times after losing at home in the first two games of their 2012 NL Division Series.
Alberto, batting last and only in the lineup because star third baseman Adrian Beltre was out with a strained back, made an error that led to Toronto's first two runs but redeemed himself with his big hit in extra innings.
''We were pretty confident going into the second game regardless of Adrian getting hurt,'' DeShields said. ''We were kind of bummed out about that, but we kept our heads up.''
The 22-year-old Alberto, who made his big league debut this season, also had a sacrifice fly.
''It's extremely special for him,'' Rangers first-year manager Jeff Banister said. ''Really, a guy that has sat at the end of the bench for us, an extra player.''
Texas shut out the highest-scoring team in the majors after the fifth inning. The victory for Banister's team made road clubs 5-0 in the playoffs to that point - the only previous time that happened in the postseason was the 1906 all-Chicago World Series, STATS said.
Kansas City snapped that skid a little later Friday with a 5-4 victory over Houston in Game 2 of their Division Series.
Keone Kela (1-0) worked one inning for the win, staying calm after a dustup with Toronto slugger Josh Donaldson.
Ross Ohlendorf, with an old-school, double-armed windup, finished for a save. The 33-year-old journeyman picked up the first save of his major league career earlier this year.
Mike Napoli hit a tying single for Texas in the eighth.
Another packed crowd at Rogers Centre that made a lot of noise early was quiet at the very end. Toronto, back in the postseason for the first time since winning the 1993 World Series, lost for the second straight day at home.
''Our backs are against the wall,'' Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. ''It's not where you want to be but that's what we're faced with.''
Rougned Odor hit a two-out single off Hawkins in the 14th but was nearly thrown out after going too far around second base on a single by Chris Gimenez, with the call confirmed by replay review.
''You wonder if 50,000 could be wrong,'' Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar said. ''I'm pretty sure I saw some daylight there.''
That call proved pivotal when Alberto lined a single to center, sending Odor tumbling home.
Donaldson was back in the lineup after taking a knee to the head trying to break up a double play in the opener. He homered in his return.
Both benches and both bullpens briefly emptied in the bottom of the 13th when Donaldson and Kela traded words after the slugger's deep fly went foul. Donaldson eventually struck out.
''We made eye contact and exchanged a few words,'' Donaldson said.'' He didn't back down, I didn't back down. I'll leave it at that.''
Toronto starter Marcus Stroman took a 4-3 lead into the eighth. He left after a leadoff single by DeShields, and Shin-Soo Choo put down a sacrifice against Brett Cecil.
After Prince Fielder struck out, Napoli singled. Napoli had been 2 for 17 in his career against Cecil before the tying hit.
Napoli was caught in a rundown to end the inning, but Cecil injured his left calf while chasing down Napoli and had to be helped off the field by the trainer.
''He's got a pretty significant tear, so that's not very good,'' downcast Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton finished 0 for 6 and is hitless in his past 30 postseason at-bats.
Choo hit an RBI single in the first and a second run scored on a throwing error by Martin. The Blue Jays escaped the jam when first baseman Chris Colabello turned an unassisted double play, tagging out Hamilton near the bag before sprinting across the diamond to retire Fielder, who was hung up between third and home plate.
Donaldson hit his first postseason home run in the bottom half of the first.
Toronto took its first lead of the series in the fifth. Pillar led off with a bloop double, went to third on a sacrifice by Ryan Goins and scored when Ben Revere grounded a single through the drawn-in infield.
Estrada took the loss in his only start against Texas this season despite allowing just one run in six innings. Perez did not face Toronto this season.
Royals rally, beat Astros 5-4 to even ALDS at 1 game each
By DAVE SKRETTA - AP Sports Writer
Friday, October 9 at 8:23 PM (EDT)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Kansas City Royals whipped out the same formula that carried them to last year's World Series to turn back the Houston Astros and tie their AL Division Series at a game apiece.
Some clutch hitting. Stingy defense. An unflappable bullpen.
Even a little help from replay.
''Just battling,'' first baseman Eric Hosmer said. ''That's what this team does so well.''
The Royals rallied from a three-run deficit Friday, getting a go-ahead single from Ben Zobrist in the seventh inning, and then watched Wade Davis and the bullpen make it stand in a 5-4 victory that brought back memories of their nip-and-tuck postseason of a year ago.
The Royals knotted the game at 4 off Scott Kazmir and relievers Oliver Perez and Josh Fields in the sixth. Kansas City took the lead in the seventh when Alcides Escobar led off with a triple against Will Harris (0-1) and Zobrist followed with his single through the left side.
Kelvin Herrera (1-0) and Ryan Madson each tossed a scoreless inning for the Royals, and Davis came on to close it - though the real drama was only beginning.
Davis walked Preston Tucker with one out, and speedy Carlos Gomez came in as a pinch-runner. Davis snapped a throw to Hosmer at first, and he neatly snagged it on one hop as Gomez made a dive back to the bag. Gomez was initially ruled safe, but the call was overturned upon review.
''That play that Hos made on the pickoff, I don't know if there's a lot of first basemen that can make that play,'' Royals manager Ned Yost said. ''It was tremendous.''
Jose Altuve then grounded out to end it, giving Davis the save.
It was a crucial victory considering what awaits Kansas City in Game 3 on Sunday: Astros ace Dallas Keuchel, who was 15-0 at home this season. Edinson Volquez will start for Kansas City.
''We were in position to win that game. Their bullpen did a very good job of shutting us down,'' Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. ''We've got some work to do to win this series. It's going to be a good series. These are two really good teams.''
Two starters acquired with October in mind, Kazmir and Royals counterpart Johnny Cueto, pitched mostly to a stalemate Friday, which meant the outcome hinged on the bullpens. Kansas City's relief corps was simply better, preserving the first win by a home team this postseason.
''They compete,'' said Salvador Perez, who homered for the Royals. ''Pretty good stuff.''
Colby Rasmus homered, doubled and drove in two runs for Houston, becoming the first player in major league history with an extra-base hit in his first six postseason games. George Springer had a pair of RBIs after hitting a solo shot in the series opener.
''Just to let it slip away late is kind of a downer,'' Astros reliever Tony Sipp said. ''We had a lead late and let it slip away. We had the momentum going.''
The Astros jumped on Cueto right from the start, just as they did Yordano Ventura in Game 1 on Thursday night. Rasmus doubled in a run in the first inning, and Springer added a two-run knock in the second as restless Royals fans began to shower their ace with boos.
Perez got one back for Kansas City with his homer to left in the bottom half, but Rasmus matched him with his third home run in three games this postseason.
Cueto finally settled in, but it looked as if it would be too late. Kazmir allowed a run in the third, but otherwise had Kansas City off balance until the sixth inning.
Still trailing 4-2, Lorenzo Cain got the Royals' tying rally started with a double, and Hinch called for Oliver Perez. He allowed back-to-back singles and a walk to leave the bases loaded for Fields, who walked Salvador Perez on four pitches to tie the game.
When the Royals took the lead the following inning, their shutdown bullpen made it stick.
''I'm happy we're going home,'' Hinch said. ''We've got home-field advantage for the rest of this series. We have to take care of business in our own yard.''
Astros rookie Carlos Correa fouled a pitched off the inside of his back knee in the fifth inning, and for a while appeared as if he might leave the game. He remained in and struck out, but came back with a single off Herrera in the seventh.
Keuchel threw six shutout innings in the Astros' wild-card win over the Yankees, and tossed eight shutout frames against the Royals in June. Volquez tossed two scoreless innings of relief in Kansas City's regular-season finale in Minnesota to tune up for the playoffs.
Lackey dominates, Cardinals beat Cubs 4-0 in NLDS opener
By R.B. FALLSTROM - AP Sports Writer
Friday, October 9 at 10:42 PM (EDT)
ST. LOUIS (AP) John Lackey lived up to his reputation as a pitcher who craves the ball in October, helping the St. Louis Cardinals cool off the upstart Chicago Cubs.
Lackey outpitched old teammate Jon Lester, allowing two hits into the eighth inning, and rookies Tommy Pham and Stephen Piscotty each homered late for the Cardinals in a 4-0 victory Friday night in the opener of their NL Division Series.
''Tonight was special, for sure,'' Lackey said. ''The atmosphere was outstanding, the crowd was really into it, and I knew I'd have to pitch well.''
He did it in front of a standing room only crowd of 47,830 - the second-largest at 10-year-old Busch Stadium - with thousands of Cubs faithful mixed into the red throng for the first postseason game between the two long-time rivals.
''Incredible. I thought his fastball was about as good as we've seen. Period,'' manager Mike Matheny said. ''Anything you wanted to do, he pretty much had it.''
Yadier Molina did his part behind the plate, too, wearing a splint to protect a strained left thumb ligament that sidelined him since Sept. 20. He was 0 for 3 but seemingly had no issues.
''You can tell he's been anxious to get in there,'' Matheny said. ''The way he moved behind the plate, the way he and John were working, he is so valuable to our club in so many ways.''
Lackey protected a 1-0 lead by holding the Cubs hitless for five innings, getting help from Kris Bryant' double-play ball by to end the fourth. Addison Russell ended the suspense with a solid single up the middle to open the sixth and Kyle Schwarber's bunt hit leading off the seventh was the only other hit allowed by Lackey in 7 1-3 innings.
Kevin Siegrist struck out two to end the eighth, when it was still a one-run game. Trevor Rosenthal gave up a single and a walk but fanned three in finishing the three-hitter.
Game 2 of the best-of-five series is Saturday. The Cardinals turn to lefty Jaime Garcia (10-6), who made 20 starts coming off risky thoracic surgery. Kyle Hendricks (8-7) makes his postseason debut for the NL wild-card winners.
Matt Holliday had an RBI single in the first, giving St. Louis a lead after just three at-bats. Pinch-hitting, Pham homered off Lester with one out in the eighth to snap a string of 13 straight outs for the lefty. Piscotty had a two-run shot off Pedro Strop in the eighth.
The 36-year-old Lackey outdid Lester, with whom he formed a potent 1-2 punch on the 2013 Red Sox, the team that knocked off the Cardinals in the World Series.
''Lester did his thing as well,'' Lackey said. ''A really fun game, and fun to be a part of.''
Lackey is 3-0 with an 0.93 ERA in four starts against Chicago overall. Lester is 1-4, but he has a 2.79 ERA against St. Louis.
Including their wild-card victory at Pittsburgh, the Cubs had won nine in a row. They haven't scored since the fifth inning of that 4-0 victory, however.
Manager Joe Maddon interrupted the game briefly in the sixth, but said he'd just asked plate umpire Phil Cuzzi to have the ball replaced because it had been in the dirt.
''We could not get anything generated,'' Maddon said. ''They've pitched really well all season, that's a big reason they won 100 games.''
Lester, the Cubs' big offseason free-agent pickup, settled in for an impressive night after the first. Piscotty doubled with one out and scored on Holliday's single. Lester struck out nine and gave up three runs on five hits in 7 1-3 innings.
''Lack made really one more pitch than I did,'' Lester said. ''I know obviously the grand total doesn't show that, but that's kind of the way I feel.''
St. Louis finished three games ahead of the Cubs, who had the third-best record in the majors and are making their first postseason appearance since 2008. The Cardinals were outscored 12-0 the final three games at Atlanta after wrapping up their third straight NL Central title.
Reggie Sanders threw a strike to the plate on the ceremonial first pitch. Ten years ago, Sanders hit a grand slam off San Diego's Jake Peavy in the opener of the Division Series.
Cubs: OF Jorge Soler hasn't played much since coming back from a left oblique strain in mid-September, getting four starts the last 17 games counting the wild card game.
Cardinals: Matt Adams was left off the division series roster because he's still rounding into form following surgery for a torn quadriceps.
Cardinals: Garcia has made a full recovery from thoracic outlet surgery that cost him much of the previous three seasons. ''Every time I take that mound, basically take it as if it's your last time ever to pitch in a major league game,'' Garcia said. Garcia didn't face the Cubs in the regular season but he's 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA in five career starts against them.
Cubs: Hendricks worked six scoreless innings each of his last two starts. He had a major-league high and franchise record 17 no-decisions. Matt Carpenter is 6 for 10 with a homer and three RBIs and Holliday is 6 for 12 with two homers and four RBIs against the right-hander, making his first postseason appearance.
DeGrom outduels Kershaw with 13 Ks; Mets beat Dodgers 3-1
By BETH HARRIS - AP Sports Writer
Saturday, October 10 at 2:24 AM (EDT)
LOS ANGELES (AP) Jacob deGrom sure seems to thrive on baseball's biggest stages.
He struck out the side on 10 pitches in one inning of the All-Star game in July.
He was even better in his postseason debut.
DeGrom struck out 13 over seven scoreless innings and Daniel Murphy homered off a star-crossed Clayton Kershaw to help the New York Mets defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1 on Friday night for a 1-0 lead in their NL Division Series.
''Before the game I was pretty nervous,'' said deGrom, who at 27 is in just his second major league season. ''But once I got out there warming up, I kind of settled down. It really went away after the first pitch I threw.''
DeGrom (1-0) limited the Dodgers to five hits and walked one. The right-hander's strikeouts tied the franchise playoff record set by Tom Seaver in Game 1 of the 1973 NL Championship Series.
''I've got a little more confidence out there,'' deGrom said. ''There were a couple times tonight, 3-2, where I threw a couple change-ups. Last year I probably wouldn't have done that.''
Kershaw (0-1) endured his fifth straight postseason loss after giving up the seventh playoff homer of his career. Last season's NL MVP allowed three runs and four hits in 6 2-3 innings, struck out 11 and walked four.
''I got outpitched, plain and simple,'' he said.
Three of Kershaw's walks came in the seventh, before Mets captain David Wright had a two-out, two-run single off Pedro Baez that put New York up 3-0.
''It's been nine years since I felt this,'' said Wright, who missed 115 games with injuries this season. ''That's about as sweet as I thought it was going to be.''
Runs will likely again be at a premium when the Dodgers try to even the series Saturday night in Game 2. They start major league ERA leader Zack Greinke against Noah Syndergaard of the Mets.
With a game-time temperature of 92 degrees, both pitchers came out throwing heat. Kershaw, the major league strikeout leader with 301 in the regular season, retired six of his first nine batters. DeGrom, last year's NL rookie of the year, struck out two batters in each of his first four innings.
''He was unbelievable right from the get-go,'' Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud said. ''He had command of all four of his pitches and he was just being himself out there, having fun. There's a lot of good seats out there, but I had the best seat in the house.''
DeGrom became the first Mets pitcher with 10 or more strikeouts in the playoffs since Dwight Gooden in Game 1 of the 1988 NLCS at Dodger Stadium. DeGrom retired his final 11 batters, subduing the white towel-waving crowd of 54,428.
''To have him go out there against Clayton tonight and win the game is a huge lift for us,'' said Mets manager Terry Collins, who got a victory in his postseason debut at age 66. ''This is a good start for a team that hadn't been in the postseason for a long time. We needed a confidence boost and Jake gave it to us.''
Jeurys Familia got four outs to earn the save.
Murphy homered leading off the fourth to give New York a 1-0 lead before Kershaw retired the next three batters. Kershaw stumbled in the seventh, giving up three walks before being relieved by Baez, who served up Wright's hit.
Wright's hit whizzed past leaping second baseman Howie Kendrick and into center field, scoring Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada
The Dodgers finally scored in the eighth on Adrian Gonzalez's two-out RBI single that left them trailing 3-1. He struck out in his first three at-bats.
Catcher A.J. Ellis had one of the Dodgers' five hits off deGrom.
''Just electric stuff,'' he said of the Mets' ace. ''That's as good of an arm as I've seen all year long. He's got great composure, great poise out there.''
Kershaw nearly helped himself in the fourth when the Dodgers trailed by one. With two runners on, he hit a long flyball to center field that was caught by Yoenis Cespedes to end the inning.
The left-hander threw 22 pitches in the first inning, including 12 on a walk to Wright. In the second, a ball hit by Duda went off Kershaw's right foot, but he didn't appear to be affected and struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
Los Angeles lost its third straight postseason game, having been beaten in four games by St. Louis in last year's NLDS. The Dodgers lost the final two games, with Kershaw tagged for the loss while pitching on three days' rest in Game 4.
The teams combined for 27 strikeouts, one short of the all-time playoff record for a nine-inning game set by San Diego (17) and Houston (11) on Sept. 29, 1998, in Game 1 of the NLDS. It was the first game in major league playoff history where both starters had 11 or more strikeouts and just the second game in postseason history in which each starter had at least 10.
Cespedes was hitless in four at-bats, including three strikeouts, just the second time this season he was fanned three times in a game. He was still playing for Detroit on June 24 at Cleveland when Carlos Carrasco struck him out twice and Cody Allen once.
Greinke (19-3, major league-best 1.66 ERA) starts for the Dodgers against Syndergaard (9-7, 3.24). Greinke beat the Mets 4-3 on July 4 at home in his only start against them this season. Syndergaard had a no-decision in the Mets' 2-1 win at Dodger Stadium on July 3 in his only career start against Los Angeles.
|Saturday, October 10, 2015|
|New Mexico State||3||vs.||52||Ole Miss||Final|
New Mexico St.-Mississippi Preview
Tuesday, October 6 at 2:25 PM (EDT)
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi's march to national relevance slammed into a blue and orange brick wall of reality.
So the 14th-ranked Rebels (4-1) are trying to correct some flaws made readily apparent Saturday during a lopsided 38-10 road loss to Florida.
''We're not elite right now,'' coach Hugh Freeze said.
It's a quick fall for a team that looked like one of the nation's best just two weeks ago, when the Rebels traveled to Tuscaloosa and stunned Alabama 43-37. That victory pushed Ole Miss to No. 3 in the national rankings, but Saturday's debacle against the Gators provided plenty of evidence that the lofty placement was premature.
Among the things that went wrong for Ole Miss in the Swamp: Four turnovers, an anemic running game, an offensive line that got pushed around and a secondary that routinely missed tackles and blew assignments.
That's a long list to fix.
The Rebels do get a respite from SEC play this Saturday when they host New Mexico State (0-4). The game doesn't figure to be close - the Rebels were 42-point favorites Monday - but it gives Freeze and the Ole Miss players another opportunity to work on issues.
''All over the board we didn't play well, from top to bottom,'' quarterback Chad Kelly said. ''It starts with us. We're the ones executing and we have to do a way better job of executing otherwise games like this will happen.
''I'll assure you one thing - our team isn't going to give up.''
Ole Miss is still trying to figure out a way to make up for the fact it doesn't have two of its best players. Starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil has missed the entire season because of an ongoing NCAA investigation. Freeze said he hopes Tunsil's case is resolved soon and he can return to the field, but no timetable has been given.
Starting safety Tony Conner is out with a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee and is expected to miss at least a few more weeks.
Without those two, Ole Miss has been forced to reshuffle its offensive line and secondary. It didn't seem to have much of an effect until the Florida game, when both units performed poorly.
Freeze said injuries are not an excuse.
''You know what, every team has some of that,'' Freeze said. ''You've got to continue to build the depth of your program so you can still be elite when those (injuries) happen.''
Freeze said the Ole Miss secondary will mix its personnel to try and fix Saturday's woes. Senior Mike Hilton will move to Conner's old position, which is basically a linebacker/safety hybrid.
Senior Trae Elston will move to Hilton's old position as strong safety and sophomore C.J. Hampton will enter the starting lineup as the free safety.
Though the loss to Florida was ugly, the Rebels still control their fate in the Western Division. Ole Miss has never advanced to the SEC championship game since the league split into two divisions in 1992.
''I believe this team will respond - no question,'' Freeze said. ''We still have the ability to be one of the best teams in the country.''
Mississippi linebacker C.J. Johnson had surgery Tuesday to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and is expected to miss four to six weeks. Johnson has started four games this season, making 17 tackles and grabbing two interceptions.
The Aggies are coming off a 38-29 loss at New Mexico last week, blowing a 15-point lead in the final 22 minutes. Larry Rose III ran for 260 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries, giving him 456 yards in the past two games, but New Mexico State is allowing 45.8 points per game - third-to-last in the FBS.
The Rebels and Aggies have never met.
By SCOTT GARBARINI - STATS Writer
Wednesday, October 7 at 12:06 AM (EDT)
Once thought to be the future at Kansas, Seth Russell is presently keeping Baylor's relentless offense rolling along.
Russell and the third-ranked Bears take their prolific act to Lawrence on Saturday to face a downtrodden Jayhawks team about to start its fourth-string quarterback.
Baylor's offense hasn't missed a beat with Russell, a Kansas commit out of high school who switched to the Bears after the Jayhawks fired Turner Gill in 2011, at the controls in place of current New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty. Baylor (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) is averaging an NCAA-leading 63.8 points and 745.3 yards and is averaging better than a first down per play (10.8).
Russell's 19 touchdown passes and 218.7 passer rating are both tops in FBS, and he's thrown for at least four TDs in each game. The first-year starter also showed he can run with an 81-yard, two-touchdown rushing effort in last week's 63-35 victory over Texas Tech.
"When coach Gill got released and coach (Charlie) Weis came in, it just didn't have that same feeling," Russell said. "It didn't have the same family atmosphere. It was more like a business-type deal. But when I came to visit Baylor it was just like Kansas all over again before coach Weis. I felt like it was a good fit for myself, and it was."
The Bears had touchdowns on seven of eight first-half possessions against Texas Tech, with Shock Linwood delivering a 79-yard score on the game's third play from scrimmage en route to a career-high 221 rushing yards. Corey Coleman had seven receptions for 110 yards and three of his FBS-leading 11 touchdown catches.
"I thought our guys really responded against a dangerous and good football team," Bears coach Art Briles said.
Baylor has outscored Kansas 119-28 over the past two seasons and appears headed to another lopsided win. The Jayhawks (0-4, 0-1) surrendered 512 yards in a 38-13 defeat at Iowa State in last week's conference opener and lost quarterback Montell Cozart to a shoulder sprain late in the third quarter, forcing freshman Ryan Willis into his first career start Saturday.
Willis entered the season third on the depth chart behind Cozart and Deondre Ford, who tore ligaments in his thumb during Kansas' loss at Rutgers on Sept. 26. Michael Cummings, last season's starter, tore his ACL in the spring game.
Willis was 8 for 16 for 100 yards after replacing Cozart.
"We've got to find a few things he can really do well and let him exercise those things on the playing field," Jayhawks first-year coach David Beaty said.
Kansas hasn't done much right in Big 12 play in several years, losing 38 of its past 40 league games. It's dropped five straight to the Bears, who won 59-14 at Lawrence in 2013 and amassed 326 rushing yards and 669 total in last season's 60-14 rout.
The Jayhawks have lost seven straight and 12 of 13 dating back to Weis' final season, though Beaty has remained upbeat through the growing pains and a daunting stretch in which Kansas' next six games will feature four ranked teams.
"Our team is in a great place mentally and physically. We're excited about our Big 12 opener right here at home," he said. "Our team has done a really nice job of rebounding, which is something I expected from them."
Coleman recorded 167 yards and two touchdowns on three catches in last year's meeting. The standout receiver has 10 TDs over the last three games and five straight 100-yard efforts dating back to last season.
|Middle Tennessee||28||vs.||58||Western Kentucky||Final|
Thursday, October 8 at 9:05 PM (EDT)
(AP) - On the surface, it appears as though No. 22 Iowa's resurgence has been fueled by the so-called ''New Kirk Ferentz.''
In reality, the Hawkeyes are better because their defense is better - and knocking opponents around has been the foundation of every good team coached by Ferentz.
Iowa (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) surged back into the Top 25 for the first time in five years this week following one of the best defensive performances in Ferentz's 17-year run in Iowa City.
The Hawkeyes forced four turnovers and held then-No. 19 Wisconsin out of the end zone in a 10-6 win in Madison, cementing Iowa's status as a legitimate contender in the Big Ten West.
Iowa, ranked 15th nationally with 15.4 points allowed per game, will look for its sixth straight win Saturday when it hosts border rival Illinois (4-1, 1-0).
''The credit goes to our players. These guys are working their tails off right now, and they're all contributing in their way. And when you get that going, you have a chance,'' Ferentz said.
Ferentz's new, more forward-thinking approach - which has included much more aggressive approaches to recruiting and game-planning - has energized the program.
The one thing that hasn't changed is a commitment to hard-nosed defense.
The Hawkeyes weren't playing that way a year ago.
Despite the presence of a pair of future NFL players on its line in Carl Davis and Louis Trinca-Pasat, Iowa was wildly inconsistent. Its defense bottomed out at the end of the year, allowing 82 points in losses to Nebraska and Tennessee.
Iowa's biggest issue was on the perimeter. Opponents ran wild on the Hawkeyes outside and their inexperienced linebackers seemed powerless to stop them.
But the line has more than made up for the losses of Davis and Trinca-Pasat, and linebackers Ben Neimann, Josey Jewell and Cole Fisher have made remarkable strides this season.
Iowa is the only team in the nation that hasn't given up a rushing touchdown, and its 2.6 yards per carry allowed is 10th.
Wisconsin was threatening to break that streak in the fourth quarter last week, but end Nate Meier helped force a fumble near the goal line that preserved the win.
''He's playing his best football, and again, for us to have a good football team, our seniors need to be humming, and he's doing that,'' Ferentz said.
The Hawkeyes also have witnessed solid play out of their secondary.
Junior Desmond King has blossomed into one of the country's best cornerbacks and an early favorite for Big Ten defensive player of the year honors.
He shared the league's player of the week honor Monday after recording nine tackles, two pass break-ups and two interceptions against the Badgers.
King, who has also been a standout in the return game, is tied for the national lead with five interceptions - despite opponents avoiding throwing his way as much as possible.
''It's our third Big Ten recognition for a player this season,'' Ferentz said. ''If you look at it, it's an offensive player, defensive player and a special teams player, and really that's kind of how we're winning right now. We're playing good team football.''
Iowa might need its defense to carry it again this weekend, since injuries to top wide receiver Tevaun Smith (knee sprain) and left tackle Boone Myers (shoulder stinger) will likely keep them out against the Illini.
Illinois has to be feeling good after last week's 14-13 victory over Nebraska in which it rallied from 13-0 down after three quarters. Wes Lunt connected with Geronimo Allison in the end zone with 10 seconds left as the Illini also overcame a pair of missed field goals and four early trips into the red zone that produced no points.
"That's the biggest thing we're gonna work on this week, just finishing drives; we want touchdowns not field goals," Lunt said.
The Illini, though, will be without starting running back Josh Ferguson because of a shoulder injury. The senior has 397 yards and three touchdowns on 71 carries.
The Hawkeyes have won seven of the past eight meetings.
Tuesday, October 6 at 5:18 PM (EDT)
(AP) - Oklahoma's strong start might look even better if the Sooners weren't among the nation's most penalized teams.
A little yellow laundry is nothing compared to the growing number of red flags surrounding Texas.
The 110th edition of the Red River Showdown appears to be one of the most lopsided as 10th-ranked Oklahoma heads into Saturday's meeting looking to remain undefeated while sending the spiraling Longhorns to a fourth consecutive loss.
Oklahoma ranks third nationally in penalty yards per game (94) and sixth in penalties per contest (9.5), including 12 for 134 yards in last weekend's 44-24 win over then-No. 23 West Virginia.
Ahead of an emotional matchup with Texas, the 10th-ranked Sooners (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) want to focus on smarter play. Coach Bob Stoops said he can talk about it all he wants, but it's up to the players to decide how they will play.
''I'm not playing,'' he said. ''I'm not the one out there making those penalties. They know what's right and wrong, and if they choose to do it wrong, that's on them. It's bad football.''
The excessive penalties are about the only aspect of Oklahoma's early play that fits that description, though with two turnovers apiece in all four wins, Stoops may disagree. But the Sooners are 12th in the nation in total offense (521.8 yards per game) and tied for 10th in scoring (42.0 points), and are four touchdown passes shy of their total of 17 from a year ago.
"I don't want to use the word 'pleasing', but it's what we expected," offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley said. "It's what you have to do. I think it shows how much they've taken the risk. They've accepted our coaching from Day One. ... We've coached those guys really, really hard and they haven't backed down from it. They've responded. ... As good as they want to be, we can't rely on one guy."
The one guy who's stood out is quarterback Baker Mayfield, who has thrown for 13 TDs and run for four more while averaging 10.24 yards per pass attempt in his first four games with the Sooners.
This won't be Mayfield's first experience playing against Texas, however. The Austin native spent 2013 at Texas Tech before transferring and threw for 237 yards and an interception in a 41-16 loss with the Red Raiders back then.
"Yeah, it's always a game you want to play in as a little kid and now it's finally here," Mayfield said. "Preparation starts now. Even with how they're playing right now, you can't go in there and take them lightly. That's how rivalry games are. We're going to go in there and give it our best shot."
The Longhorns (1-4, 0-2) are off to their worst start in 60 years, and it's hard to find a blue-blood program at a lower point than Texas following its 50-7 loss to then-No. 4 TCU last Saturday.
In addition to the on-field woes, Charlie Strong's players on Monday publicly exposed a rift between some of the team's veterans and a talented group of freshmen that have forced their way onto the depth chart with scant success on the field.
''People need to grow up and take things more seriously. A lot of people aren't preparing,'' said junior safety Dylan Haines, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship last season. ''They just want to go out and play the game on Saturday. They don't want to put in the work on (the other days).''
Freshman defensive end Charles Omenihu apparently didn't like this kind of chatter and swiftly responded on Twitter.
''Lol,'' said a tweet from Omenihu's account, which seconds later added, ''People get in front of the cameras and just talk they heads off. Always remember think before you speak.''
Several older players tried to diminish talk of a split locker room, but even they ended up reinforcing the message that some of their teammates haven't been putting in the work need to succeed.
''Sometimes people have to suck it up and understand where it's coming from,'' junior defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway said.
None of the older players identified any teammates and no freshmen came to the media availability. The Longhorns had 13 freshmen in the two-deep lineup against TCU, including starting quarterback Jerrod Heard and six linebackers and defensive backs. Whether it's a lack of talent or inexperience showing, there are clear issues - particularly with the defense, which is allowing 507.2 yards per game to rank 119th in the nation.
The Longhorns were already dealing with the embarrassment of freshman defensive back Kris Boyd tweeting from the locker room during halftime of Saturday's blowout loss. He retweeted what amounted to an invitation from an apparent supporter of Texas A&M, a rival the Longhorns don't play anymore. The tweet read, ''Whenever ya'll (sic) are ready to transfer ... we're ready. (hash)Gig'em.'' Boyd later said he apologized and insisted he is ''100 percent committed'' to the Longhorns.
Asked if the Sooners had a policy regarding cell phones, Stoops joked he didn't have one until this week. Growing more serious, he said he expects players to use common sense with social media.
''If you want to tell everyone you are at the grocery store picking up Twinkies, have at it,'' he said. ''But if you are telling them what's happening in our building, now it's a problem and you won't be using it (social media) then if you can't do it the right way.''
The Sooners have averaged 39.4 points in winning four of the last five in the series.
|Duke||44||vs.||3||Army West Point||Final|
By JOHN KEKIS - AP Sports Writer
Friday, October 9 at 4:00 PM (EDT)
WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) Duke coach David Cutcliffe is wary bringing his Blue Devils north to Michie Stadium. It's understandable, even if Army has only one win.
It's the woulda-coulda-shoulda that concerns Cutcliffe. The cumulative margin of defeat for Army (1-4) in its losses is only 16 points.
''Really could be undefeated, if you look at their tape, very easily,'' Cutcliffe said of the Black Knights. ''As you watch these guys play ... they're relentless is the word I would use. So we have to prepare ourselves for that.''
At least the Blue Devils (4-1) have some experience defending the option attack Army uses. They beat then-No. 20 Georgia Tech 34-20 two weeks ago as Shaquille Powell ran for three touchdowns and DeVon Edwards returned a kickoff 100 yards for a score.
''Is it advantageous to see us do what we do against Georgia Tech? That can work both ways,'' Cutcliffe said. ''We'll have some differences in some things ... but it helps our players. It wasn't that long ago (and) they understand the challenge of what we are about to see. A little bit of cat and mouse.''
Army's setbacks include a 17-14 loss at home to Wake Forest on a field goal as time expired and a 20-14 loss at Penn State last Saturday. Backup quarterback A.J. Schurr ran for two touchdowns against the Nittany Lions, but seven fumbles - three lost - kept Army's triple option grounded.
''If Army doesn't turn the ball over, they're going to win that football game,'' Cutcliffe said. ''Wake would not want to have to play them again. They were very fortunate in a lot of ways to win the game up there. Now we've gotta go up there.''
The Black Knights are ready.
''There's progress being made,'' Army coach Jeff Monken said. ''I can just tell more than anything by the way our guys compete, the looks on their faces, the resiliency they have when their backs are against the wall. When something doesn't go our way, they don't panic, they just come back and fight.''
Other things to know when Duke travels to play Army:
HOLD ON, OR ELSE
Army's turnovers against Penn State did not allow the Black Knights to sustain drives and hurt them in the field-position game. The two drives that Army scored on were the only two drives it didn't have a negative-yardage play or fumble.
''We ended up having to punt on a lot of those possessions,'' Monken said. ''It was just disappointing to not be able to take care of the ball.''
The Duke defense dominated Georgia Tech's run-oriented attack, holding one of the nation's top rushing teams to 173 yards on the ground. That was the fewest for the Yellow Jackets since they had 151 in a loss to Mississippi in the 2013 Music City Bowl. Army is averaging 287.8 yards rushing per game, 10th in the nation; the Duke defense is allowing only 269.8 yards of total offense, ninth nationally.
Army linebacker Andrew King writes this week on a blog what everybody at West Point must be feeling. ''We are closing in on half way through the season and one thing is certain: we have not played our best football yet,'' King writes. ''We are a few plays away from our record showing completely different results in our favor. We are a few plays away from being in the national spotlight.''
Sophomore quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw left Army's 58-36 win two weeks ago over Eastern Michigan in the second quarter with an ankle injury and did not play against Penn State. He's back practicing and Monken expects him to be able to play against Duke. Bradshaw is Army's leading rusher with 341 yards, averages 5.0 yards per carry and 85 per contest, and is 11-of-22 passing for three touchdowns with one interception. Against Penn State, senior QB A.J. Schurr was Army's leading rusher with 74 yards, including a career-long 56-yard TD.
NO RED ZONE
The Blue Devils have allowed only five trips into the red zone this season, the best mark in the nation. The defense also is averaging 6.6 three-and-outs per game, fourth nationally and behind only Marshall (7.6), Clemson (7.0), and Alabama (6.8).
AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in North Carolina contributed.
|Central Michigan||39||vs.||41||Western Michigan||Final|
Indiana-Penn St. Preview
By TRAVIS JOHNSON - Associated Press
Friday, October 9 at 9:13 PM (EDT)
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) If the only way Penn State can move the ball is with big plays, so be it.
An all-or-nothing approach has paid off so far for the Nittany Lions who have just one touchdown drive over four minutes this season. All nine of Penn State's touchdown drives of 50 yards or more have been aided by ''explosive'' plays - runs of 15 yards or more and passes of 20 yard or more - and coach James Franklin would like to see more of them against Indiana at Beaver Stadium.
Especially considering the Hoosiers are giving up over 502 yards per game and allowed 11 such plays - four for touchdowns - in a loss to No. 1 Ohio State last week.
''You talk about being more methodical, I think we have to do the opposite,'' Franklin said. ''I think we need to be more aggressive at times.''
When Penn State's done so, it's paid off.
Since John Donovan took over play calling last season, nearly all of the Nittany Lions' offensive success has hinged on their ability to execute explosive plays. In 199 possessions since the start of last season, Penn State has scored just 26 touchdowns when the offense has had to drive more than 55 yards, with 35 explosive plays powering those drives. A slight majority of them have come when quarterback Christian Hackenberg has thrown downfield, something he hopes to do more of as sophomores Saeed Blacknall and Chris Godwin have emerged as strong deep threats.
''I think the potential we have as an offense to make big plays is extremely high,'' Godwin said. ''We have a ton of weapons.''
But they're not taking up a ton of time, something the Hoosiers excel at.
Indiana is holding onto the ball for nearly five minutes longer than its opponents. Considering Penn State defenders said last week they were wearing down as Army racked up 31:19 of possession time, Penn State may have to find more balance to keep its defense rested if it can't dictate the pace with explosive plays early.
''I think if we ask (defensive coordinator Bob Shoop), he'd love us to take a 13-play, 8-minute minute drive and score a touchdown,'' Ricky Rahne, the team's passing game coordinator, said. ''But I think he'll take the 80-yarder for a touchdown as well.''
BANGED UP BACKS: Both teams are dealing with injuries in their backfields. Although true freshman Saquon Barkley practiced in a limited capacity Wednesday, Franklin would not say for sure if he would play. Penn State's Akeel Lynch (knee) is not expected to play and Indiana's Jordan Howard is questionable with an ankle injury.
SUDFELD OR DIAMONT? The Nittany Lions prepared all week to face both pocket-passer Nate Sudfeld and running threat Zander Diamont with true freshman Tommy Stevens simulating both Hoosier quarterbacks on the scout team. Sudfeld picked Penn State apart for 321 yards in the Hoosiers only win two years ago.
HELP ON D: If practice reps were any indication, a few Penn State players will return on Saturday. Junior linebacker Brandon Bell and sophomore safety Marcus Allen both took first-team reps and would give Shoop's unit, which has struggled to tackle in the second level without them, a boost.
RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY: Penn State's playing surface, usually praised by the Nittany Lions and opponents alike as one of college football's best, has been ravaged through four-straight home games - mostly because of heavy rains in three of those games. The field crew was busy last week against Army repairing divots through TV timeouts so a partly cloudy forecast with highs near 60 degrees will be welcomed.
|Sacred Heart||26||vs.||13||Robert Morris||In-Progress|
Maryland-Ohio St. Preview
Thursday, October 8 at 8:51 PM (EDT)
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Billy Price knows all about the angst over Ohio State's recent performances, and the left guard for the top-ranked Buckeyes has a message for those worried fans.
''To address the criticism, I think everybody just needs to relax,'' he said Monday. ''We will take care of our business.''
It worked out for Ohio State last Saturday, when it won 34-27 at previously unbeaten Indiana after entering as a three-touchdown favorite.
The outcome was in doubt until cornerback Eli Apple broke up a pass in the end zone by Hoosiers backup Zander Diamont on the final play.
It was an ugly win. The Buckeyes (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) turned the ball over three times, got two field goals from four trips to the red zone and committed eight penalties for 109 yards.
''Two areas of strength in the past are not strengths right now,'' coach Urban Meyer said. ''We're hitting that really, really hard, and that's turnovers and that's red-zone production.''
Ohio State has fumbled 14 times, losing six, and thrown seven interceptions. Its minus-four turnover margin is tied for 101st out of 128 teams.
Also, the Buckeyes are 108th in red-zone conversion with 12 scores in 16 attempts (75 percent), including just six TDs (37.5 percent).
Meyer is not ruling out bringing in backup quarterback J.T. Barrett for Cardale Jones during red-zone situations when the Buckeyes host Maryland on Saturday.
Last season, with Barrett taking the majority of snaps, Ohio State converted 63 of 74 times (85.1 percent), including 53 touchdowns (71.6 percent).
''We've thought about it,'' Meyer said. ''We've had that conversation. At this time we haven't made any decisions on that.''
Price said Ohio State's explosive offense - Ezekiel Elliott had rushing TDs of 55, 65, and 75 yards in the second half against the Hoosiers - can be a problem near the goal line.
''Given a confined space, it makes it easier for the defense just because they don't have as much ground to cover, especially as we go vertical or we go sideline to sideline,'' he said.
But the Buckeyes stopped themselves at times at Indiana. Although Jones completed 18 of 27 passes for 245 yards, he was off target on consecutive throws on one red-zone series and threw an interception deep in Indiana territory on another.
''We had three turnovers to their none and we still found a way to come out with a `W','' he said after the game. ''But we can't expect that each week.''
No, the expectations are much higher for a team that opened the season with a 42-24 win at Virginia Tech and showed promise of more.
Ohio State since has posted unimpressive wins against Hawaii (38-0), Northern Illinois (20-13) and Western Michigan (38-12). The players, particularly Jones, received nasty Twitter comments following the Indiana game.
''It comes with the game itself and (us) being a heightened offense and we've got a lot of special players,'' Price said. ''But fans, you have no idea what's going on, unfortunately.
''It's frustrating on our end, especially when I see tweets being thrown at Cardale. It's not pretty. I've been on the receiving end of those ... just stay in your lane.''
Despite the misfires and miscues, Meyer saw positives in the Indiana game, particularly the ability to control the offensive line of scrimmage and better perimeter blocking by the receivers.
He stopped short of saying he felt the offense was close to being great but added, ''I think we're on the border of being very good.''
Like Ohio State, Maryland has a quarterback quandary. All three players at the position have struggled, and coach Randy Edsall must pick one to start Saturday.
It's a decision the coach has opted to delay until the morning of the game.
''What we want to do is find a guy to give us the best opportunity to win a ballgame,'' Edsall said Tuesday.
Maryland said Thursday that Edsall will coach against the Buckeyes amid reports that he will be fired.
''Randy Edsall is our head football coach and he'll be on the sidelines Saturday against Ohio State,'' the school said in a statement.
During summer camp, Edsall held an open competition for the starting quarterback job. Now, after only five games, he's doing it again.
The problem is, no one has done anything to distinguish himself. That is perhaps the biggest reason why Maryland (2-3, 0-1) is off to a poor start and has been outscored by a combined 73-6 in its last two games.
Perry Hills got the starting job in the opener and didn't make it through two games before giving way to Caleb Rowe, who started in Week 3 against South Florida.
Rowe led the Terrapins to a 35-17 win despite throwing three interceptions and fumbling three times. One week later, after being picked off four times in a 45-6 loss to West Virginia, Rowe was pulled.
Rowe returned to start last Saturday against Michigan, but after going 8 for 27 for 47 yards and three interceptions, the redshirt junior was replaced by Oklahoma State transfer Daxx Garman in a second straight game. Maryland lost 28-0.
Garman threw for 2,041 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Cowboys last year but has yet to make his mark with the Terrapins. He's 6 for 18 for 115 yards with one touchdown and an interception.
Hills was pulled and dropped to third on the depth chart for being too tentative with his throws, but his 52.9 completion percentage and 153.0 quarterback rating is by far the best of the three.
There's no telling who will start against Ohio State.
''Those kids are out there trying,'' Edsall said. ''It's not because they're not giving effort. We just have to keep working with them to hit that groove, to hit that stride, for them to be able to play at the level they're capable of playing.''
This will be Maryland's first trip to Ohio State. Maryland's last win over a defending national champion came in 1984, 42-40 over Miami.
''It's a tremendous challenge,'' Edsall said, ''but a great opportunity as well.''
|William & Mary||38||vs.||16||Villanova||Final|
By WILL GRAVES - AP Sports Writer
Friday, October 9 at 4:21 PM (EDT)
PITTSBURGH (AP) The script is a familiar, one Pittsburgh is eager to toss in the shredder.
The Panthers have made a habit of struggling to put together consistently solid performances, a major reason why the program has been stuck on the treadmill of .500 football for the better part of a decade. Pitt hopes to start the process of jumping off on Saturday against reeling Virginia.
It's why first-year coach Pat Narduzzi did his best to downplay last week's 17-13 win at Virginia Tech, one that looked pretty good both on paper and on the field. The Panthers (3-1, 1-0 ACC) held the Hokies to 100 total yards and racked up seven sacks. Not that you'd know it if you spent time in the film room this week.
''Say if it's a game of inches, and it's only that far from getting you beat one way or the other,'' Narduzzi said. ''We just can't have that. There's always something you can do better with every position. There are a lot of little things that the coaches see.''
The big picture, however, remains promising. Pitt can put itself in position to be a factor in the ACC Coastal Division, not bad for a team picked to finish sixth in preseason.
While the Panthers seem to be heading in the right direction, the Cavaliers (1-3) are listing under Mike London. A difficult early schedule hasn't helped. Virginia nearly upset Notre Dame last month only to lose in the final moments and the last time the Cavaliers took the field, Boise State promptly ran them off it in a nationally televised 56-14 thumping.
London is doing his best to spin it forward, pointing to a conference play as a chance to rectify missteps.
''I believe this football team can and will be a better football team coming out of those games that we played,'' London said. ''That's the focus.''
It's a mantra repeated frequently by Narduzzi, who is well aware Pitt's recent history of taking one seemingly impressive step forward only to follow it up with an equally disappointing step back. Last year Pitt beat the Hokies only to fumble five times in the first half of a 28-point loss to Georgia Tech. In 2013 an emotional victory over Notre Dame was followed up by a loss to North Carolina. Maybe that's why he's hasn't coached this week like a guy whose team is coming off one of its best defensive games in years.
''It's coming out motivated and hungry for the next game, not just sitting there going, `Hey, you did good!' Everybody up on campus is happy saying, `Nice job,' and all of that bologna,'' Narduzzi said.
Some things to look for when the Panthers try to improve to 4-1 for the first time since 2009 while the Cavaliers try to jumpstart their season.
PROTECTION: Virginia quarterback Matt Johns was harassed all game during that miserable Sept. 25 loss to Boise State, much like the Panthers harassed Virginia Tech's Brenden Motley last week. If an off week hasn't allowed the Cavaliers to find a way to protect Johns better, whether with quick passes or blocking, it could be a long night for the visitors.
QB SHUFFLE: While Nate Peterman appears entrenched as the starting quarterback, Chad Voytik will continue to get snaps. Voytik is a far better runner than Peterman and his 37 yards rushing last week helped get the Panthers out of some tough spots.
ROAD WOES: Virginia has lost 11 consecutive road games since winning at N.C. State on Nov. 3, 2012.
RALLYING CRY: The Cavaliers were off last weekend, and while that usually means players disperse to go home or just get away for a few days, many stayed behind and held voluntary workouts.
OPERATING OLLISON: Qadree Ollison appears to have claimed the top running back spot in place of injured James Conner. Ollison ran for 122 yards and a score against the Hokies, the kind of separation Narduzzi was hoping for after Conner was lost for the season with a knee injury. ''He can play like that once (being physical) becomes a habit because that's how tailbacks run,'' Narduzzi said. ''I think he may have figured that out. Hopefully, he can just get downhill and run.''
AP Sports Writer Hank Kurz in Richmond, Va., contributed to this report.
AP College Football Website: www.collegefootball.ap.org
|Oregon State||vs.||Arizona||1:00 (EDT) Preview|
Oregon St.-Arizona Preview
By BOB BAUM - AP Sports Writer
Friday, October 9 at 5:18 PM (EDT)
All signs point to the return of Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon for Saturday's game against Oregon State.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, he doesn't play defense.
Oregon State will seek to give coach Gary Andersen his first Pac-12 win, facing an Arizona defense that has allowed a whopping 1,067 yards and 111 points in the last two games, blowout losses against UCLA and Stanford.
The Beavers (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12) had the week off after a 42-24 home loss to Stanford. In a scheduling quirk, the Wildcats (3-2, 0-2) don't have a bye, playing in 12 consecutive weeks.
Solomon left with a concussion in Arizona's 55-17 loss to UCLA and sat out last week's 55-17 beating at Stanford. Backup Jerrard Randal passed for 178 yards and ran for 67 in his first career start but was erratic throwing the ball and couldn't move the offense the way Solomon usually does.
In his radio show earlier in the week, Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez called Solomon's progress encouraging and said he was optimistic the sophomore quarterback would play on Saturday. Reports that Solomon would play did not surprise Andersen.
''We were thinking that he would be back the whole time,'' Andersen said. ''It didn't really affect how we prepared.''
Here are some things to watch when Oregon State plays Arizona in Tucson.
SPREAD VS SPREAD: The Beavers, who for years ran a conventional offense under coach Mike Riley, have switched to a spread game under Andersen, with elusive freshman Seth Collins at the controls.
Of course, Rodriguez more or less invented the spread offense.
''We see our offense, and that is basically what they do,'' Rodriguez said. ''Our zone and counter is basically the same.''
ZONE READ: With Solomon back, look for the zone read to show up early and often.
''It's been a big part of their package,'' Andersen said. ''You can tell they train it very closely, and they recruit to it for the offensive line, those zone-running running backs, the quarterbacks that can move themselves around.''
Oregon State has a quarterback in Collins who can move around, too.
''He might be the fastest quarterback we play all year,'' Rodriguez said. ''I have been really impressed with him. They do some similar stuff that we do and some other things as well. It is a completely different plan than what we saw last week (against Stanford) so everything that we worked on last week is going to be different than everything we are working on this week.''
DEFENDING THE DEFENSE: Rodriguez found himself defending Arizona's 3-3-5 defense from fan criticism after the last two blowout losses.
''The truth is if they really studied it, they would realize the 3-3-5 is not that much different from a 3-4,'' he said.
''Again, we want to be more multiple and we have tried to be, but when the guys can't do it because of injuries (including All-American linebacker Scooby Wright) that is tough,'' he added.
As for the fans, Rodriguez said, ''Those out there in the stands saying the 3-3-5 is no good, at least they're talking about it, but do they know what goes in and out of it, the history behind it? I do not think so.''
RUNNING AROUND: Running backs figure prominently in Saturday's game.
Arizona's Nick Wilson leads the Pac-12 at 112 yards per game but was held to a season-low 45 yards at Stanford.
Oregon State will counter with a trio of backs - Storm Barrs-Woods, Chris Brown and Ryan Nall.
''We're in as good a spot as we have been all year long at that position,'' Andersen said.
The Beavers' leading rusher for the season is Collins at 76.5 yards per game.
HEATED RIVALRY: OK, so they aren't real rivals, but it will be heated, especially by Oregon State standards, for the 1 p.m. local time kickoff.
The forecast high for Saturday in Tucson is 93 degrees.
''It's going to be hot over there,'' Andersen said. ''We're hydrating and getting ourselves ready to go and expect to go over and play well. `'
|Idaho State||15||vs.||21||North Dakota||In-Progress|
|Bryant||26||vs.||21||Central Connecticut State||In-Progress|
|Point University||10||vs.||49||Kennesaw State||In-Progress|
|UNI||14||vs.||10||North Dakota State||In-Progress|
|Southeast Missouri State||7||vs.||13||Eastern Illinois||In-Progress|
|Cal Poly||vs.||Eastern Washington||1:05 (EDT)|
|North Carolina A&T||10||vs.||0||Norfolk State||In-Progress|
|Mississippi Valley State||0||vs.||7||Prairie View A&M||In-Progress|
|Weber State||vs.||Montana||2:00 (EDT)|
By ERIC OLSON - AP College Football Writer
Friday, October 9 at 10:21 AM (EDT)
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Nebraska knows what's coming and believes it's ready.
The Cornhuskers knew last year, too, but definitely weren't prepared for Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon to run for an FBS-record 408 yards and four touchdowns in a demoralizing 35-point loss in Madison.
There's a new coaching staff at Nebraska, and defensive coordinator Mark Banker's unit has been among the best in the nation at stopping the run so far. These Huskers have yet to see the style of power running game Wisconsin presents, and fans still cringe when reminded of the 581 and 539 yards rushing Nebraska allowed the last two times the teams met.
Gordon has moved on to the NFL, top running back Corey Clement is still out recovering from sports hernia surgery and the Wisconsin offensive line isn't as imposing as some in the past. Alabama and Iowa beat the Badgers by all but shutting down their ground game.
The Huskers (2-3, 0-1) hope to do the same Saturday when Wisconsin (3-2, 0-1) visits in a key Big Ten West game.
''I'd say this defense is built to stop any team, but yes, I think that our defense may be especially suited for this type of offense,'' defensive end Jack Gangwish said. ''Wisconsin has a very smash-mouth approach to football. They're going to run the ball straight at you. There's not a whole lot that's really fancy about what they do.''
Taiwan Deal and Dare Ogunbowale will share the carries, and quarterback Joel Stave will use play-action to try to exploit a vulnerable Nebraska secondary.
Both teams are looking to rebound following disappointing losses. The Huskers are off to their worst start since 1959 after Illinois drove the field in the last minute to pull out a 14-13 win. Stave committed four turnovers in a 10-6 loss at home to Iowa.
''We've got to do a better job of continuing to help coach our guys and help them grow. And we get that opportunity this week, and that's what's fun - and with a group that wants to get better, a group that wants to be coached,'' first-year Badgers coach Paul Chryst said.
Some things to watch as the teams battle for the Freedom Trophy:
RILEY-CHRYST REUNION: Wisconsin's Chryst and Nebraska's Mike Riley have a history dating to 1991. Riley hired Chryst as an assistant on the team he coached in the old World League of American Football, and Chryst also was his aide at Oregon State and with the San Diego Chargers.
''I think one of the things that we both have in common is we respect the game and truly respect those that play it, and our job is to help them play it,'' Chryst said. ''So I don't feel like it's me against Mike.''
D-LINE SHUFFLE: Nebraska remains short-handed on the defensive line. Tackles Vincent Valentine and Kevin Williams have been battling injuries, tackle Kevin Maurice is out four weeks with a stress fracture and end Freedom Akinmoladun will miss two weeks with a knee injury. End Greg McMullen probably will move inside and line up alongside Maliek Collins. Gangwish and Ross Dzuris would then be the primary ends.
WISCONSIN INJURIES: TE Austin Traylor, who hurt an arm and shoulder late in the Iowa game, had surgery Monday and was not listed on this week's depth chart. He's the third tight end to be injured. Also, WR Alex Erickson was being treated for a concussion this week. His status was uncertain.
DEFENSE ON A ROLL: Since losing 35-17 to Alabama, Wisconsin has held four straight opponents to 10 points or fewer. That's the third-longest run of its kind in program history.
NEBRASKA-WISCONSIN TIES: Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez played linebacker for the Huskers from 1965-67 and coached high school football in Nebraska in the 1970s. Wisconsin assistants Ted Gilmore was on Nebraska's staff from 2005-10 and Joe Rudolph in 2007.
AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org
|Central Arkansas||vs.||Houston Baptist||2:30 (EDT)|
|Ball State||0||vs.||0||Northern Illinois||In-Progress|
|Iowa State||0||vs.||0||Texas Tech||In-Progress|
Iowa St.-Texas Tech Preview
By BETSY BLANEY - Associated Press
Friday, October 9 at 2:37 AM (EDT)
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) Texas Tech looks to rebound from back-to-back losses to top-five teams when the Red Raiders take on Iowa State on Saturday.
The Cyclones are aiming for a second Big 12 road win after beating Kansas last week.
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kinsgbury sees a much improved Iowa State team led by quarterback Sam Richardson. The Red Raiders are No. 124th in the nation - fourth from the bottom - in total defense, giving up 581 yards per game.
''Anytime you have a senior quarterback that's played a lot, that's going to give you problems,'' the third-year coach said. ''He can run well, he throws well, so it'll be a good challenge for us.''
Texas Tech (3-2, 0-2 Big 12), which leads the nation in passing offense and ranked third in total offense, lost to then-No. 3 TCU two weeks ago and fell to then-No. 5 Baylor last week.
Paul Rhoads, coach of the Cyclones (2-2, 1-0), is hopeful a new defensive scheme this year will help stifle the Red Raiders' offense fire power, both in the air and on the ground.
''You've got to try to leverage as best as possible with all your defense against all their weapons,'' he said. ''They're going to take advantage of the entire field. They're going to do it vertically. They're going to do it horizontally.''
Here are some things to watch for when Texas Tech hosts Iowa State:
THIN RECEIVING CORPS: The Red Raiders pass offense is the best in the country but their receiving corps is thin. Ian Sadler and Devin Lauderdale, who have combined for five TDs and 527 yards, are both day-to-day. Sadler got injured in the TCU game and didn't play against Baylor, while Lauderdale went down against the Bears. ''But with our offense, the way we do things, if you're one of those young wide receivers, you got to grow up quick because we're going to need you,'' Kingsbury said.
TURNOVERS AND PENALTIES: Up until last weekend's loss to Baylor Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury was pleased with how the Red Raiders had turned around last year's turnover and penalties woes. QB Pat Mahomes, still somewhat hampered by a leg knee injury he got early in the TCU loss, threw two interceptions, while the team notched 17 penalties for 142 yards against Baylor. Kingsbury was plenty displeased. ''We'd made big strides in those areas, the penalties and turnovers, so to play such a good team and then revert back to that was disappointing.''
CYCLONES RUSHER: Freshman RB Mike Warren could cause fits for the Red Raiders rush defense, which sits at the bottom of the Big 12 in giving up about 277 yards per game, and also set an Iowa State record. He's coming off a 175-yard performance on 18 carries in the win at Kansas after 128 yards on 21 rushes in the OT loss to Toledo. No Iowa State player has rushed for 100 yards in three consecutive games since 2010, and no Cyclones freshman has ever topped 100 yard three times in a season. ''Mike's going to be very active,'' Rhoads said.
SACK ATTACK: Mahomes is the most well protected quarterback in the conference. He's been sacked only once in five games. Conversely, Iowa State's defense is ranked second in the Big 12 with 14 sacks. Rhoads isn't promising lots of sacks but he's got his eye on causing some disruption. ''We've got to let him know we're there and at least cause his feet to shuffle a little bit, and maybe have him hold onto the ball a little longer,'' he said.
AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org
LSU-South Carolina Preview
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO - STATS Writer
Friday, October 9 at 4:22 PM (EDT)
So far only Mother Nature has stopped Leonard Fournette and LSU.
A month after having one game canceled due to thunderstorms, more inclement weather is a major factor for the undefeated Tigers.
Devastating floods in South Carolina have led to a change of venue, with the Gamecocks having moved Saturday's scheduled home game against No. 7 LSU to Baton Rouge.
This matchup was supposed to be at Williams-Brice Stadium, but police who would help with traffic and security were needed elsewhere due to the aftermath of massive flooding that killed 14 people. Many roads around Columbia are closed or have been washed away.
Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier was asking people to donate to the Red Cross when the decision was announced.
"Moving the game is best. The governor, our president, law enforcement, they all think this is the right thing to do. We're just not ready for a ball game Saturday afternoon," Spurrier said on WIS-TV in Columbia.
Coach Les Miles and the LSU program can sympathize with Spurrier and the Gamecocks community. The Tigers moved their opener in 2005 against Arizona State from Baton Rouge to Tempe because of damage from Hurricane Katrina.
LSU also had its opener this year at home against McNeese State canceled because of persistent lightning.
"We want to support South Carolina in anything they want to do," Miles said Wednesday. "We have been through weather issues here."
Still, moving the game to Baton Rouge gives an even bigger edge to LSU (4-0, 2-0 SEC), which has won 38 of its last 41 home games and 11 of 12 against the Gamecocks (2-3, 0-3).
Fournette is a big reason why the Tigers were favored regardless of location. He leads the nation with 864 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns while gaining 8.7 yards per carry. The sophomore running back's staggering numbers - which include being 170 yards shy of his total from last year - have come in one fewer game than many of his challengers.
The same can't be said of LSU's passing game, which ranks last in the conference at 95.5 yards per game and two touchdowns. The Tigers were held to 80 yards through the air, as quarterback Brandon Harris completed 4 of 14 passes in last weekend's 44-22 win over Eastern Michigan.
Fournette, a Heisman Trophy candidate, picked up the slack again, scoring three times and gaining 233 yards on 26 carries, but Miles is looking for more from the passing game.
"We're looking at shuffling the lineup. We're looking at all those things," Miles said. "I like the effort of my wide receivers. It's not as productive as it needs to be. It needs to be more in line with the coaching. ... We have to execute better. Period."
Top receivers Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural have combined for 18 catches, 242 yards and one touchdown. They totaled 12 TDs last year, but key drops near the goal line last weekend forced LSU to settle for field goals.
"If he does go along with that, apparently he has a plan and we have to trust that plan and be prepared for those changes," wide receiver John Diarse said. "Any time you kind of have those hiccups on your team, your coach has to make some type of change, whether it's a big change or whether it's a small change.
"We've got to find a rhythm. We've got to find a flow of things."
That hasn't been a problem for the defense, which ranks third in the SEC with an average of 293.5 yards allowed. The unit yielded a season-low 255 yards - 94 rushing - while creating three turnovers against Eastern Michigan.
South Carolina is trying to avoid its worst start to its SEC schedule since finishing 0-8 in 1999. The Gamecocks have dropped seven of their last eight in league play after falling 24-10 at Missouri last weekend.
Freshman quarterback Lorenzo Nunez injured his shoulder against Missouri and Spurrier said Thursday former walk-on Perry Orth will start against LSU.
Orth, a junior, started at Georgia three weeks ago in a 52-20 loss, and has completed 24 of 50 passes for 288 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in seven career games.
Spurrier is fully aware of the threat Fournette poses to his defense, which gives up an average of 170.0 yards on the ground.
"You gotta hit him low," Spurrier said. "You gotta try to get his ankles together if you can. Obviously, our defensive backs and linebacker-type guys, hopefully our d-linemen can stop him hitting him in the waist area and so forth. It's called 'gang tackling.'
"You know, Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson, their teams didn't win every game."
LSU has won five straight against South Carolina, with the last one coming in 2012.
|Tennessee State||vs.||UT Martin||2:30 (EDT)|
|Alabama A&M||vs.||Grambling State||3:00 (EDT)|
|Nicholls||vs.||Stephen F. Austin||3:00 (EDT)|
|Washington State||vs.||Oregon||3:00 (EDT) Preview|
Washington St.-Oregon Preview
By ANNE M. PETERSON - AP Sports Writer
Friday, October 9 at 2:01 PM (EDT)
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) The weekly quarterback mystery is becoming something of a theme for the Oregon Ducks this season.
Oregon wasn't saying which quarterback - or how many - it plans to play on Saturday afternoon when the Ducks (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) host Washington State (2-2, 0-1).
Vernon Adams Jr., who was named the starter just prior to the beginning of the season but then broke the index finger on his throwing hand in the opener, sat out last weekend's 41-24 victory at Colorado.
In his place, the Ducks rotated Jeff Lockie, Adams' backup who was also Marcus Mariota's backup last season, and sophomore Taylor Alie, a former walk-on. Neither quarterback had a particularly spectacular outing against the Buffaloes, but the Ducks were able to effectively run the ball for the win.
Earlier in the week, Adams said he didn't want to play until he could give 100 percent for the Ducks, which seemed to indicate he wasn't going to be ready to go.
Oregon's depth chart wasn't giving anything away, either. Adams, Lockie and Alie were all separated by an ''or'' on it. It could also be said that there's a competitive advantage in not revealing the choice.
''I think we know what is going to happen, and what we're going to do,'' Ducks coach Mark Helfrich told reporters after practice on Thursday. ''But it's not set in granite right now.''
There were no such ambiguities on the other side. Sophomore Luke Falk threw for 389 yards and two touchdowns last weekend in Washington State's 34-28 loss to Cal. It was Falk's third game this season with 300 or more yards.
Some other things to consider when Washington State visits Oregon on Saturday:
PASS DEFENSE: Falk and Washington State coach Mike Leach's Air Raid offense could pose challenges for Oregon's pass defense, which has struggled this season. The Cougars rank seventh nationally in passing offense with an average of 369.3 yards a game. Oregon is ranked 114th for passing yards allowed, with an average of 287.2 yards a game.
HONORING UCC: The Ducks offered staff and students of Umpqua Community College free tickets to Saturday's game. Eight UCC students and a teacher were killed by a gunman at the Roseburg, Oregon, campus last week. President Barack Obama was scheduled to visit the families of the victims in the southern Oregon town on Friday.
ON THE RECEIVING END: Washington State junior Gabe Marks is seeing a lot of action in the Air Raid. He caught 10 passes for 141 yards against the Golden Bears for his second 100-yard game of the season. He is averaging 91 yards receiving this season, and leads the Pac-12 with an average of 8.3 catches per game.
LEACH'S ANALYSIS: Leach, who is known for his blunt assessments, provided this one about his team: ''All this business of somebody's only started for a year or he's a young fella. Well, forget that. You've got to step up and act like you belong there and play like you belong there. It's a blessing and a privilege to be able to play early and have the opportunity to do those things. Well, now act like you belong there. Now focus in like you belong there.''
AGAIN WITH THE UNIFORMS: It's another week, so of course Oregon has different uniforms. The team earlier unveiled a ''theme'' uniform: The Oregon Pioneers. The newest look from Nike pays tribute to the state of Oregon, and features an image of explorers Lewis and Clark - along with the Duck - on the helmet. The background fabric of each uniform is unique, with subtle images of a topographic map of the Oregon Trail.
|South Dakota||vs.||Western Illinois||3:00 (EDT)|
|Wake Forest||0||vs.||0||Boston College||In-Progress|
Wake Forest-Boston College Preview
By JIMMY GOLEN - AP Sports Writer
Friday, October 9 at 4:18 PM (EDT)
BOSTON (AP) Boston College coach Steve Addazio wants to talk about the Wake Forest defense, not his own.
The Eagles have the No. 1 defense in the nation, but Addazio is worried about the Demon Deacons unit that held Florida State to 24 points last week - one week after BC held the Seminoles to 14.
''They had an outstanding defense last year. I remember telling everybody that ... and then we went down there and (they) were like, `Wow. They really have a good defense,''' Addazio said of the 2014 game that the Eagles won 23-17. ''They still are really good on defense.''
Wake Forest (2-3, 0-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) is 20th in the FBS in net yards allowed. But the Eagles (3-2, 0-2) lead the nation in the category; those stats are surely padded by wins over FCS teams Maine and Howard, but the 217 yards the Seminoles gained against BC were the fewest for FSU since 2011.
''You know they're going to be physical. You know they're going to be tough, and possessions are going to be at a premium because they like to run the ball and control the clock,'' Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. ''You know we're going to have to take advantage of it every time we have the football. If we have a lot of three-and-outs, this will not be a good football game.''
Here are some other things to look for when the Demon Deacons visit Chestnut Hill:
SIGNAL-CALLERS: BC lost starting quarterback Darius Wade after he broke his ankle against Florida State on Sept. 18. John Wolford started the season for Wake Forest but aggravated an ankle injury against Army, skipped one game and then came off the bench and threw one pass against Florida State last week
''He's starting to practice a little bit, and he looks like he's starting to feel better,'' Clawson said this week.
Freshman Kendall Hinton started against Indiana and the Seminoles, both losses. In those two games, he was 46 for 88 for 460 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
YOUTH: Whatever problems the Demon Deacons have, Clawson hopes they are temporary.
''Every game, we're starting six freshmen, and in some cases seven freshmen,'' he said. ''We've just got to keep this thing on an upward trajectory and find a way to win close games against good football teams. We're improving in every way except the win column right now, and ultimately that's what it comes down to.''
IMPROVED OFFENSE: Wake Forest has rushed for seven touchdowns in five games. The Demon Deacons finished 2014 with four TDs on the ground. They've also thrown for more yards than their opponent in every game. The offensive line should get a boost with the return of left guard Ryan Anderson, who had been suspended for five games for a team rules violation.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Boston College missed eight extra points last year - one in the Pinstripe Bowl, which the Eagles lost 31-30 to Penn State. This year, BC has made all 16 of its PATs, but there are still problems in the kicking game.
Addazio has tried only four field goals, and Alex Howell and Colton Lichtenberg are each 1 for 2; the longest field goal made by a BC kicker is 31 yards. Addazio said Howell is hurt so he will be limited to punting. That means Lichtenberg, a freshman, will do the kicking - for now.
''Right now that we are going with Colton. Is that a permanent thing? Nothing's permanent,'' the coach said. ''You've got to live with growing pains with these guys and make the determination of whether they are growing pains and will they get there. Those are all the things. You don't base it off of one kick.''
AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary contributed to this story from Winston-Salem, N.C.
Kent St.-Toledo Preview
Tuesday, October 6 at 11:42 PM (EDT)
Toledo vaulted into the AP Top 25 after holding the Mid-American Conference's top rushing team to a minuscule total last weekend.
Kent State may have a losing record, but its defense doesn't take a back seat to anybody in the conference.
These defensive-minded teams meet Saturday in Toledo, which has captured the last 10 home games against the Golden Flashes dating to 1977.
Toledo (4-0, 1-0) used stifling defense to win 24-10 at Ball State last Saturday. The No. 24 Rockets allowed only 26 yards rushing after the Cardinals entered the contest averaging a MAC-high 232.0.
The Rockets are yielding 13.0 points per game to top the conference after allowing an average of 30.5 a season ago in defensive coordinator Jon Heacock's first season. Heacock, who was Kent State's defensive coordinator from 2010-12, was hired last year by coach Matt Campbell.
"Matt's done a good job of hiring Jon Heacock to come in and make them a better defense," Golden Flashes coach Paul Haynes said. "Jon is a stickler, he's all about fundamentals and technique, he demands it and that's what he's getting out of them."
Haynes has a pretty good defense himself, with Kent State (2-3, 1-0) yielding an average of 258.0 yards for the MAC's top figure.
Toledo is off to its best start since opening 5-0 in 2001 and is ranked for the first time in three years.
"Those are things that are great for our fan base and for our university but for everybody within our football walls I think the biggest thing in knowing how good everybody is that we continue to play is that we're going to have to continue to do a great job improving," Campbell said.
Each team's defense has a major playmaker in the secondary.
Toledo cornerback DeJuan Rogers is second on the team in total tackles (30) and pass break-ups (five) with one interception. He forced a fumble for the first time last Saturday.
"His play in really our first five football games has really been tremendous," Campbell said. "I think we all knew that DeJuan had an opportunity to be a special football player in our football program."
Kent State cornerback Demetrius Monday has five interceptions to tie for the most in the FBS. He picked off two passes last weekend for the Golden Flashes, who have 10 interceptions to match the nation's second-highest total.
"I'm really impressed with this Kent State team and obviously it starts with their defense," Campbell said. "Defensively what's so impressive is their kids always have the ability to be at the right place at the right time, they're really opportunistic."
Both teams feature top rushing attacks, with Kent State second in the MAC with 175.4 yards per game and Toledo third at 175.3.
The Rockets are unsure of the status of starting running back Kareem Hunt, who has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury.
Hunt and Terry Swanson combined for 216 rushing yards in last season's 30-20 win at Kent State. Swanson started in Hunt's place last week and rushed for 139.
Neither team has a strong passing game.
Toledo quarterback Phillip Ely is an Alabama transfer who has four touchdown passes and four interceptions. The Rockets are one of two FBS teams along with Air Force who have not had their quarterback sacked.
"They get rid of the ball really fast so it's hard to get pressure on them," Haynes said. "So again it goes back to do you try to get it, a lot of pressure, and send your guys up on the edge or do you try to play coverage?"
Kent State is last in the MAC in passing yards per game at 157.6. Quarterback Colin Reardon, who has six touchdowns and three interceptions, has the nation's fifth-worst completion percentage at 45.9.
"I feel I can do a lot more and be a lot more consistent on the field," Reardon said. "I would like to reach that potential just like any other player would."
Toledo has won seven straight overall while Kent State has dropped seven in a row on the road.
|Austin Peay||vs.||Murray State||3:00 (EDT)|
|Troy||vs.||Mississippi State||3:00 (EDT) Preview|
Troy-Mississippi St. Preview
By DAVID BRANDT - AP Sports Writer
Friday, October 9 at 9:22 AM (EDT)
Mississippi State's first five weeks of the season haven't been terrible, but also haven't gone exactly as planned.
The Bulldogs have already lost two games in the Southeastern Conference and are now a longshot to win the Western Division title. But a manageable stretch of games over the next month might allow Mississippi State to build some momentum heading into a difficult November.
Mississippi State (3-2) hosts Troy (1-3) on Saturday before another non-conference game against Louisiana Tech. Then the Bulldogs host Kentucky before a road game against Missouri.
That sounds manageable, but coach Dan Mullen believes the immediate challenge for Mississippi State is to figure out a way to play better.
''We have guys that will fight and play hard,'' Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. ''The one thing we have to learn how to do is to go expect to make plays.''
Senior quarterback Dak Prescott isn't getting the same type of hype as last season, when he emerged as a Heisman Trophy candidate, but he's quietly having a very good season with 1,279 passing yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions. He also leads the team with 217 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
The rest of team has been hit or miss. Of particular concern is a running game that ranks just 11th out of 14 SEC teams with 155 yards per game.
''One of the things in college football that you see week-to-week is that if you don't play well you're not going to win,'' Mullen said. ''It doesn't matter if you're the No. 1 team in the country or if you haven't won a game. If you play really well, you're going to have an opportunity to win.''
Things to watch when Mississippi State hosts Troy on Saturday:
MULLEN GOES FOR 50: Seventh-year Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen will try to win the 50th game of his tenure on Saturday. Mullen has a 49-33 record with the Bulldogs and has led the program to five straight bowl games, which is a school record. Mullen would be just the third coach in school history with 50 wins, joining Allyn McKeen and Jackie Sherrill.
PRESCOTT'S STREAK: Senior quarterback Dak Prescott has thrown 225 consecutive passes without an interception, which is the longest current streak in the nation and the third-longest in SEC history. Prescott's streak spans five games and 21 quarters dating back to last season's Orange Bowl.
A CHANCE TO REGROUP: Mississippi State lost its second conference game of the year last weekend, falling 30-17 on the road against Texas A&M. The Bulldogs should now have ample opportunity to regroup, with non-conference games against Troy and Louisiana Tech before a home conference game against Kentucky.
PLAYING WITHOUT MARKET: Mississippi State received bad news this week when it learned that starting safety Kendrick Market would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his left knee after suffering the injury in the second quarter of last weekend's loss to Texas A&M. Said coach Dan Mullen: ''That was probably the last play of his career for a man that's done so much. He's been an impact player in the SEC.''
TROY LOOKING FOR OFFENSE: Troy hired new coach Neal Brown in the offseason. The 35-year-old has an offensive background, with stints as an offensive coordinator at Troy, Texas Tech and Kentucky before returning to the Trojans. So far, the offense has been a work in progress. Troy ranks just 112th out of 127 FBS teams with 21.4 points per game.
Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP . AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org.
|Mercer||vs.||Western Carolina||3:30 (EDT)|
|Georgia||vs.||Tennessee||3:30 (EDT) Preview|
Wednesday, October 7 at 3:32 PM (EDT)
(AP) - Mark Richt has heard criticism from Georgia fans impatient for a championship and especially tired of losing to Alabama.
Richt said Tuesday he understands the complaints.
''I don't blame people for being critical of what happened on Saturday,'' Richt said. ''I don't at all. I love the passion of our fans that they care enough. I really do. But we're more critical than they are as far as you look at yourself in the mirror and say you didn't get the job done.''
Following last week's 38-10 loss to Alabama, No. 19 Georgia will play at Tennessee on Saturday.
Richt said the loss ''certainly gets everybody's attention'' for the Tennessee game.
Instead of being undefeated and at the top of the SEC's Eastern Division, Georgia (4-1, 2-1) trails Florida.
The loss triggered old questions about Georgia's inability to win the biggest games under Richt - especially against Alabama. Georgia was ranked No. 1 in 2008 when Alabama raced to a 31-0 halftime lead and won 41-30 at Sanford Stadium.
The Bulldogs won two SEC championships early in Richt's era, but the last title came in 2005. Georgia lost in the 2011 and 2012 SEC championship games. The 2012 loss was to Alabama.
Senior Malcolm Mitchell said he understands the fans' frustrations.
''With some of the losses we've faced, fans do get upset, which they should,'' Mitchell said. ''Anytime you give your all emotionally to a team and they don't perform well, you feel bad.''
Mitchell said he received only positive feedback from fans.
''I know after Saturday, I got several messages on social media with fans being supportive, encouraging us to keep moving forward,'' he said.
Richt said last week's loss will be a teaching tool. He said players and coaches will be motivated to avoid ''the feeling that you just don't want to feel again.''
''We do feel like we put it behind us,'' Richt said. ''We feel like we've made the corrections we need to make and we're moving forward and hopefully be better because of the changes.''
Richt has tried to shift the focus to Tennessee. He allowed room to second-guess one coaching decision in the Alabama game, which was played in heavy rain that made the grass field less stable.
Richt said Georgia shouldn't have tried to run around Alabama's defense on the soggy field.
''I think strategically, we'd have been better off trying to go downhill more than try to go outside,'' Richt said.
Tailback Nick Chubb quickly agreed when told what Richt said.
''Yeah, I thought we should go right at them,'' Chubb said. ''I trust the coaches and what they're going to call.''
Chubb still ran for 146 yards. Georgia's only touchdown came on Chubb's 83-yard run in the second half. It gave him 13 straight games with at least 100 yards rushing, tying Herschel Walker's school record. Georgia's list of Walker's streak includes the 1981 Sugar Bowl.
Mitchell said Georgia can protect its championship hopes if it regroups quickly. Another loss at Tennessee would be more devastating.
''The worst thing you can do is let something that happened the previous week affect you in the weeks to come,'' Mitchell said. ''That's when your season goes downhill.''
The loss was especially humbling for Georgia's offense.
Quarterback Grayson Lambert completed only 10 of 24 passes for 86 yards. Brice Ramsey replaced Lambert but completed only one pass and had two interceptions.
Richt said Lambert will start against Tennessee (2-3, 0-2), which was ranked 25th to start the season but has blown two-touchdown leads in three of its last four games to fall below .500.
''When you take the emotion out of it, I still see us improving as a football team,'' coach Butch Jones said. ''I still see us getting better week in and week out.''
There have been only 17 games all season in which an FBS team lost after leading by at least 13 points. Tennessee has dropped three of them, including last week's 24-20 defeat to Arkansas.
''You really in these times find out who's with you, who's against you,'' Jones said. ''You just write it down, you put it in your back pocket and you file it away for future reference. We're going to be fine. We've got a resilient group of kids, and we're going to continue to make progress and move forward.''
The tailspin leaves Tennessee needing to make a second-half surge for the second straight season. Last year, Tennessee started 3-5 before winning four of its last five games to end a string of four straight losing seasons.
''No one's going to give up,'' junior linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin said. ''No one's going to quit. It's going to be fun seeing how this season ends (up), how the season turns out because there are a lot of people doubting us right now. All we've got are the guys in our room depending on each other. We'll finish strong.''
The recent history of the Georgia-Tennessee rivalry suggests Saturday's game could come down to whether the Vols improve their fourth-quarter performance. Although Georgia has beaten Tennessee five straight times, each of the last two games has been decided by only three points.
''It's going to go down to the wire,'' Richt said. ''It's not going to be any different than in years past.''
Tennessee wide receiver Marquez North is expected to return after missing the Arkansas game with lower back stiffness.
Fellow wideout Alton ''Pig'' Howard, however, was kicked off the team Wednesday for a violation of unspecified team rules. Howard led the Vols last season with 54 catches for 618 yards, but he had only one reception this year after missing the last two games with a concussion and being suspended for the season opener for a team rules violation.
By JEFF WASHBURN - Associated Press
Friday, October 9 at 2:39 AM (EDT)
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) For Purdue seniors Frankie Williams and Danny Anthrop, it's time to dump the moral victories in exchange for a real one.
That opportunity will come Saturday, when the Boilermakers (1-4, 0-1 Big Ten) play Minnesota (3-2, 0-1) in Ross-Ade Stadium, where third-year Purdue coach Darrell Hazell is 0-8 in Big Ten games.
While the Boilermakers have beaten only Indiana State, they were in a position to win during the final two minutes against Marshall, Bowling Green and then this past Saturday at No. 4 Michigan State, which hung on for a 24-21 victory.
While the Golden Gophers had won three in a row until this past Saturday's loss at Northwestern, they have scored only 37 total points in their 12 most recent quarters and rank last in the Big Ten in scoring at 15.4 points a game and last in rushing offense at 141.2 yards a game.
Purdue is seeking its first conference home victory since beating Indiana 56-35 on Nov. 24, 2012. Overall, the Boilermakers are 1-16 - a victory last season at Illinois - in Hazell's first 17 Big Ten games.
Veteran defensive back Williams said Purdue is ready to take the next step.
''The time definitely is now,'' Williams said Tuesday. ''I wouldn't even say this is a potential (victory) week. I will say this is the week. It has been a long time since any of us has won a Big Ten home game. That can start if when our offense turns the ball over, we bow our backs and not allow any points.''
Wide receiver Anthrop, who grew up only several miles from the Purdue campus and who has been attending Purdue football games since elementary school, senses this team is on the brink of winning.
''This weekend is going to be big for us,'' Anthrop said. ''It's going to be huge for us. We have had a lot of close games, especially this last one at Michigan State. We learned a lot from that, although you never want to have moral victories.
''But what we showed in the second half at Michigan State is going to be huge for us to build on the momentum from that.''
Hazell doesn't want to make too much of a single game, but understands the significance, especially to a fan base that is unhappy with his 5-24, three-season record.
''All games are important, to be honest with you, none more than others,'' Hazell said. ''But we're striving hard to win those (home) games. Every single game's important in this profession. Absolutely you want your home field to be an advantage, and we will keep talking about that - protecting your home territory.''
Here are other things to watch this weekend:
NO DATE SWITCH: Because this weekend is fall break at Purdue - most students, faculty and staff will be away from campus - athletic director Morgan Burke asked Minnesota to move this game to Oct. 24, a bye week for both teams. However, the Gophers refused.
Beginning in 2018, the Big Ten will take Purdue's early October break into consideration when scheduling, but the 2017 Minnesota at Purdue game (Oct. 7) also will be played during the Boilermakers' fall break.
''Morgan has made many attempts to get it changed, but unfortunately we're going to have to talk to our players about that,'' Hazell said. ''You have to get yourself ready to go regardless of how many people are in the stadium. That is the reality.''
MORE TROUBLE: Purdue freshman linebacker Wyatt Cook (minor consumption) and freshman defensive end Chazmyn Turner (possession of marijuana) were arrested this past weekend and have been suspended for two games.
Three weeks ago, freshmen defensive backs Evyn Cooper and David Rose were arrested for attempting to steal bikes on campus and were suspended for two games.
''Obviously, you're not very happy when you get that phone call,'' Hazell said. ''It's a two-fold deal. It's got to be a discipline that you instill in these guys, but also an education. At some point, they can become a distraction.''
WHO IS NO. 2?: Backup quarterback Austin Appleby, the junior who started the first three games before being replaced by redshirt freshman David Blough, has a deep thigh bruise and is questionable for the Minnesota game.
If Blough is injured, Hazell may have to turn to freshman Elijah Sindelar, who at this point is being redshirted, or walk freshman Aaron Banks, or converted quarterback and now junior wide receiver Bilal Marshall.
GOPHER QB QUESTION: Starter Mitch Leidner was benched in the fourth quarter of the 27-0 loss at Northwestern in favor of freshman Demry Croft, but while coach Jerry Kill isn't saying for sure, it would appear Leidner will start at Purdue with Croft playing several series.
Minnesota is 126th in FBS scoring at only 15.4 points. The Gophers have scored only eight total touchdowns in five games.
SECONDARY WOES: Minnesota likely will be without two starting defensive backs. Cornerback Brien Boddy-Calhoun (knee) probably will miss a second consecutive game, and safety Damarius Travis (hamstring) will miss his fifth consecutive game.
AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org
|Navy||vs.||Notre Dame||3:30 (EDT) Preview|
Navy-Notre Dame Preview
Tuesday, October 6 at 5:55 PM (EDT)
(AP) - Coach Brian Kelly hopes No. 15 Notre Dame still has a shot at the College Football Playoff if the Fighting Irish win the rest of their games.
He's not sure.
''I don't know, but we do know what we can control and that is winning each week,'' Kelly said Tuesday. ''So what we really talked about is we have no margin for error. We have to pay attention to every detail. It was really about the focus of this group is one week at a time.''
Following last week's disappointing visit to then-No. 12 Clemson, when Notre Dame (4-1) lost 24-22 after a failed 2-point conversion attempt with seven seconds left, the Irish will try to resuscitate their season against Navy (4-0) on Saturday. Kelly knows how he wants the Irish to respond.
''The response is to win,'' he said. ''To win football games, you have to start fast, which we did not. There has to be an attention to detail, which certainly we were missing that at times. We got great effort, and we finished strong. So we were missing two of the four real key components that I'll be looking for this weekend.''
A year ago, eventual national champion Ohio State was 4-1 and ranked No. 15, and it steadily climbed in the polls and was seeded fourth at the end of the season. So there is hope.
The bad news for the Irish is the Buckeyes are the only team to win a national championship in the past 15 years to be ranked that low after five games. The next closest was Florida in 2008, which was 4-1 and ranked No. 11.
Kelly knows what it's like for the Irish to not have control of their own destiny. Heck, three years ago the Irish were 11-0 and looked like they might not play in the BCS title game because they were behind top-ranked Oregon and No. 2 Kansas State - then both of those teams lost on the same night and Notre Dame vaulted to No. 1.
The Irish won't truly know where they stand this season until the first CFP selection committee rankings are released Nov. 3. They know they have to finish in the top four in the final standings to advance to the playoff.
Four previous Notre Dame teams have lost one game and finished outside the top four in the final regular-season rankings. That includes 1977, when the Irish were 10-1 and ranked No. 5 but still won the national championship when they upset Texas 38-10 in the Cotton Bowl.
Keeping playoff possibilities alive isn't the only concern. A year ago, the Irish started the season 6-0 before losing a tough game at Florida State when an apparent go-ahead touchdown with 13 seconds left was called back because of a pass interference penalty. The Irish won the next week against Navy, then their season unraveled as they lost their last four.
Kelly said he's confident the Irish are better prepared this year.
''The leadership is different. The players are different,'' he said.
Kelly's players almost came back last week, but he said ''we're too far along for moral victories'' after the Irish trailed 21-3 after three quarters.
DeShone Kizer started the rally with a 56-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Prosise early in the fourth - Notre Dame failed on that 2-point conversion attempt as well - before Clemson kicked a field goal to go up 15.
Kizer then had a 3-yard TD run at the 9:03 mark to pull the Irish within eight, and he connected on a 1-yard scoring pass to Torii Hunter Jr. with seven seconds left. On the ensuing 2-point attempt, Kizer was stopped as he tried to run it in.
Kizer, who said he should've lowered his shoulder on that final play, said the Irish can take some lessons away from the loss.
''That way we played in the fourth quarter, that's the way we have to play all the time,'' he said.
Navy is off to its best start since 2004 and has won eight in a row and 10 of 11 dating to last season, with the only loss coming to Notre Dame. The Midshipmen have not won nine straight since a 10-game run spanning 1959-60, and they've lost four in a row in this series.
They've used their triple-option offense to rank third in the FBS with 339.8 rushing yards per game, led by senior quarterback Keenan Reynolds' 488 yards and nine TDs on the ground.
Reynolds, who has attempted just 27 passes, ran for 117 of his 183 yards in the first half of last week's 33-11 victory over Air Force.
Reynolds has 73 rushing touchdowns, the most in NCAA history by a quarterback and tied for the second-most among all players. He's four behind record-holder Montee Ball of Wisconsin.
"We all know about individually Keenan Reynolds, what he has accomplished in NCAA football," Kelly said. "We certainly don't want him to get the record although it's a great achievement. If he's to get that record, they're going to have a great day here, and we can't afford for him to do that.
"We know we've got our hands full to stop a very potent offensive attack."
Navy started 5-0 in 2004 before losing 27-9 to Notre Dame at the Meadowlands.
|Appalachian State||0||vs.||0||Georgia State||In-Progress|
Syracuse-South Florida Preview
By FRED GOODALL - AP Sports Writer
Friday, October 9 at 9:23 AM (EDT)
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) South Florida's Willie Taggart rejects the notion that beating Syracuse would give the struggling Bulls the type of victory needed to prove they're headed in the right direction under the third-year coach.
Sure, the Orange (3-1) are off to a promising start and are members of a Power Five conference, however Taggart said that's not the only reason winning Saturday would be significant.
''I think one win right now can change a lot for our football team,'' Taggart said.
''It would be great to beat a Power Five football team, and Syracuse is a good football team,'' the coach added. ''They're not the team that they were before. They're not 3-1 for (no) reason, they're playing some good football. It's a good challenge for our guys to go beat a good, winning football team. It gives you a lot of confidence.''
It would also support Taggart's belief that he's on the verge of turning around a program that's fallen on hard times since the Bulls rose as high as No. 2 in the nation in 2007.
USF (1-3) has lost three straight to Florida State, Maryland and Memphis, falling to 7-21 in two-plus seasons under the one-time Jim Harbaugh assistant.
Taggart's players say they feel a sense of urgency to win because it's the next opportunity to stop the slide, not because they think their coach's job is in jeopardy.
''We're playing for each other,'' running back Darius Tice said, adding Taggart doesn't make the players ''feel that type of way.''
''He comes out with energy and he pushes us to come out with energy each day,'' Tice added. ''He's a great coach, a great guy. He has our back, he's always there for us, so we just go out and play for each other. We feel like that will take care of the rest.''
Syracuse is coming off a bye following a 10-point loss to LSU and is playing on the road for the first time this season. The Orange has already matched its victory total for last season, and are not strangers to USF.
The teams played eight consecutive years from 2005 to 2012 before Syracuse moved from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference. USF won the first five meetings, but the Orange has won two of the last three - with both victories coming in Tampa.
''`We're going to be playing on the road for the first time and I think we'll adjust pretty well,'' receiver Steve Ishmael said.
Some things to know about the Orange and Bulls:
WELCOME BACK: Freshman quarterback Eric Dungey is ready to play again after sitting against LSU two weeks ago because of a head injury. Dungey stepped in for injured senior Terrel Hunt and has been a revelation. He has a 204.03 pass efficiency rating and has completed 21 of 36 passes for 428 yards and five TDs with zero interceptions and no lost fumbles. He also has rushed for 106 yards and one score on 24 carries. Also returning to the lineup is elusive H-back Ervin Philips, who has recovered from a knee injury. Philips caught two scoring passes from Dungey before he was hurt.
RUNNIN' BULLS: USF switched to an up tempo offense featuring spread principles, but are still a run-first team. Marlon Mack, last year's American Athletic Conference rushing leader as a freshman, teams with Tice to give the Bulls a nice one-two punch on the ground. Quarterback Quinton Flowers has run for six TDs and run for two.
BALL SECURITY: The Orange and Bulls are among seven FBS teams that have not lost a fumble this season.
BOWL BOUND? Last year Syracuse started 2-0 and finished 3-9, failing to qualify for the postseason after having won three bowl games in the previous four seasons. The meat of the Orange's schedule lies ahead with road games against Virginia, Florida State, Louisville and North Carolina State and Pittsburgh, Clemson and Boston College at home. A solid performance in a 34-24 loss two weeks ago to then-No. 8 LSU has injected a new dose of confidence in the Orange, who need three more victories for a chance at the postseason.
HOMECOMING STRUGGLES: USF is 9-9 all-time in homecoming games. They've lost the past five.
|Northwestern||vs.||Michigan||3:30 (EDT) Preview|
Tuesday, October 6 at 9:59 PM (EDT)
Nobody is allowing fewer points per game than Michigan and Northwestern.
Coach Jim Harbaugh's unit has posted back-to-back shutouts, though it will take the field for the first time without injured defensive end Mario Ojemudia.
Points are expected to be at a premium in Saturday's Big Ten matchup in Ann Arbor as the No. 18 Wolverines look to stop the 13th-ranked Wildcats from starting 6-0 for the first time in 53 years.
Northwestern (5-0, 1-0) is allowing 7.0 points per game and Michigan 7.6 for the nation's top marks. The Wolverines (4-1, 1-0) are holding opponents to an FBS-best 19.4 percent on third downs with the Wildcats second at 20.0.
Harbaugh isn't buying into the hype of who has the best defense.
''The two defenses won't go against each other in the game, they won't face other,'' he said.
His squad will be without Ojemudia, a senior who suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury in last Saturday's 28-0 win at Maryland. Royce Jenkins-Stone, a senior who has started twice in his career, will take start in his place.
Ojemudia started the first five games this season and made at least one tackle for a loss each time, ranking second on the team with six.
''It's hard to replace a guy like Mario,'' linebacker Joe Bolden said. ''But the greatest thing about football, you've got somebody working just as hard, pushing right behind you, trying to take your spot. We'll get somebody in there to get the job done.''
Michigan has posted consecutive shutouts for the first time since 2000 and hasn't had three in a row since 1980. The Wolverines, winners of four straight, have yielded seven points in their last 15 quarters.
Northwestern has also posted two shutouts this year, winning 27-0 at home over Minnesota in last Saturday's conference opener. The Wildcats are led by linebacker Anthony Walker, who has a team-high 44 total tackles with 8 1/2 for loss to tie for third in the Big Ten.
"They react, as athletic and fast as anybody we've seen," Harbaugh said. "(Walker) is as good a player as we've faced. So all of those things, really good scheme, they play great team defense, leading the country in points allowed. I think that's the thing, mainly, is that this team reacts and flows to the ball as good as you're going to see in college football."
Linebackers Bolden and Desmond Morgan have combined for 62 total tackles and defensive end Chris Wormley has a team-best seven tackles for loss for Michigan.
Ojemudia's loss will be felt since he had two of the Wolverines six sacks in last year's 10-9 win at Northwestern. The Wildcats scored their lone touchdown with three seconds left and went for a winning two-point conversion that failed.
"We got thumped," coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "It's going to be a huge challenge. Those guys are all back, a couple of guys have graduated but most are all back. We gotta bring our big-boy pants, it's Big Ten football."
Northwestern's Justin Jackson was held to a career-low 35 yards on 17 carries in last year's meeting. He's the Big Ten's third-leading rusher this season with 127.2 yards per contest.
Northwestern is averaging a conference-high 248.8 yards per game on the ground while Michigan is limiting opponents to an average of 71.8 for the best mark in the conference.
The Wildcats are 5-0 for the third time under Fitzgerald and last opened with six victories in 1962.
The coach says that Michigan "will be the best team we've played" and this matchup presents a major challenge for new quarterback Clayton Thorson, who has yet to throw for a touchdown against Northwestern's three major-college opponents this year - Stanford, Duke and Minnesota.
The Wildcats have experience facing Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock, who went 2-0 against them the previous two seasons with Iowa with 408 passing yards and two touchdowns.
"Jake has been in the league for a long time, he's played against us multiple times, he's had success at his previous institution and he has a lot of weapons across the board," Fitzgerald said.
Michigan's De'Veon Smith rushed for 121 yards on 18 attempts last season against Northwestern. Smith is expected to return after missing last week's game with a foot injury.
The Wolverines have won four straight over the Wildcats, who have dropped the last three in the final seconds by falling in overtime in 2012 and in three overtimes in 2013. This is the last chance for Northwestern's seniors to beat Michigan.
"Thinking back, those losses definitely stick out to me over the years so I definitely want to get one this week," senior left guard Matt Frazier said.
Georgia Tech-Clemson Preview
Tuesday, October 6 at 9:15 PM (EDT)
(AP) - No. 6 Clemson began preparing for life after Notre Dame well before beating the Fighting Irish this past weekend.
Tigers co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said coach Dabo Swinney made sure for the two weeks leading up to last Saturday night's thrilling 24-22 victory the players knew there was much more season to go.
''He was telling them, 'Hey, this is going to be a big moment. But it's only a moment,''' Scott recalled Monday. ''At the end of the day, we're going to be 4-0 or 3-1 and it's not going to mean a lot as far as the whole season.''
The season continues Saturday when the Tigers host Georgia Tech.
Clemson's hopes for a championship season will depend on its ability to leave the past behind and focus on the next game.
''We have a goal and dreams that are set in front of us,'' quarterback Deshaun Watson said.
The Tigers (4-0, 1-0 ACC) stayed perfect and moved into the top 10 by holding off then-No. 6 Notre Dame's late rally in the instant classic played in a rainstorm.
Clemson carried a 21-3 lead into the fourth quarter before the Irish rallied with 19 points and 225 yards in the final period. The game came down to a two-point conversion with Clemson defensive tackle Carlos Watkins stuffing quarterback DeShone Kizer short of the goal line with 7 seconds left.
''This is one of those games in the future we're telling our kids about,'' Watson said Kizer told him.
But that's the past and the Tigers need to remain in the present.
Clemson showed off many strong attributes it hopes it can carry into the game against the Yellow Jackets (2-3, 0-2).
The Tigers rushed for 199 yards against a Notre Dame defense that had allowed 137.8 yards a game on the ground coming in. Wayne Gallman came two run yards shy of a second straight 100-yard game.
Clemson's defense forced four turnovers in the second half, including two in the final seven minutes to prevent Notre Dame's rally. And the defensive line got the push across the line of scrimmage to prevent Kizer from tying the game.
But Clemson knows that lingering in the Notre Dame victory will cost it against Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets were ranked 14th a few weeks back, but have lost three straight games. They haven't dropped four in a row since 1996.
''Nobody expected us to be here,'' quarterback Justin Thomas said. ''I didn't. The team didn't. But we put ourselves in this hole. Now, we've got to dig ourselves out of it.''
Georgia Tech safety Jamal Golden said it's about not letting current problems spiral into a lost season and seeing these three defeats ''triple into six or seven losses. We have got to just take into next week, get ready for Clemson and try to get back into the W-column.''
The Yellow Jackets beat FCS school Alcorn State 69-6 and Tulane 65-10 in their first two games and were actually favored going into a game at Notre Dame.
That's where things started to go wrong.
Even breaking in a new starting quarterback, the Fighting Irish pushed out to a commanding lead before holding on for a 30-22 victory, the score much closer than it really was because Georgia Tech scored a pair of touchdowns in the final minute. The following week, the Yellow Jackets fell into another deep hole during the first quarter and lost 34-20 at Duke.
Then, the most discouraging setback of all. The Yellow Jackets frittered away a 21-0 lead at home and fell to North Carolina 38-31 last week.
Now, heading into one of the toughest places to play in the ACC, there is no longer any margin for error if Georgia Tech hopes to remain a contender in the Coastal Division.
''It's still early in the season,'' Thomas said. ''You never know what can happen throughout the season. We've just got to go out there and play as hard as we can and get it turned around.''
If there's a reason for hope, the Yellow Jackets can look back to last season, when they also lost back-to-back games against Duke and North Carolina. They recovered from that slump to win six of the last seven games, the only setback a 37-35 loss to Florida State in the ACC championship game.
''Nobody is feeling sorry for themselves,'' Thomas said. ''We know what we have to do.''
Clemson safety Jayron Kearse insisted the Tigers won't be taking Georgia Tech lightly, especially after what happened a year ago when the Yellow Jackets romped to a 28-6 victory in Atlanta.
''It really doesn't matter they lost three games,'' he said. ''We know they're a good football team. We know what they're capable of and if we don't do our job, we know the end result can be bad for us.''
|Connecticut||vs.||UCF||3:45 (EDT) Preview|
By KYLE HIGHTOWER - Associated Press
Friday, October 9 at 12:23 PM (EDT)
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) UCF and UConn expected to be in much different places heading into Saturday's American Athletic Conference matchup.
Following back-to-back victories to open their season, UConn (2-3, 0-1 American) looked ready to flip past a 2014 campaign that yielded just two wins. But after three consecutive losses, many of the same questions again dog the Huskies.
UCF (0-5, 0-1) began the season at least looking like a contender in the East Division, but are struggling on both sides of the ball while tying to deal with a myriad of injuries that no one saw coming.
Turnovers have been a big impediment for the Knights, who have been outscored 138-81 this season.
But more than anything just staying healthy has become a week-to-week challenge.
UCF leads the country with 29 combined games missed on offense due to injuries to starters or projected starters. It also leads the FBS with 28 first-time starters.
''We're just running down to putting in people that you would have liked to have sat this year, but just the nature of the game is I need you now,'' Knights coach George O'Leary said.
The Huskies' struggles have included averaging just 15.8 points per game so far in 2015. But coach Bob Diaco said he thinks his team is ''doing a better job protecting the football and playing smarter.''
He said the opening five games have been a learning experience for his team.
''We're a developing team, but we're gonna take it as kind of just what the doctor ordered,'' Diaco said.
There was a little bit of good news on the injury front for the Knights. Starting quarterback Justin Holman was released by the doctors last week after breaking a finger on his throwing hand at Stanford on Sept. 12.
O'Leary said all three quarterbacks took snaps this week and a decision will be made on Holman's status once coaches get a clearer picture if he is throwing with the velocity and accuracy he wants.
If Holman can't go there will have to be a decision made of whether start freshman Bo Schneider for the fourth straight game, or to go with redshirt freshman Tyler Harris.
Here are some things to watch for in Saturday's game:
TROPHY GAME: There will be something more than AAC division position on the line Saturday. Despite experiencing some Internet backlash earlier this year for creating a ''rivalry'' trophy that UCF had no part of, Diaco is bringing his ''ConFLiCT'' trophy to Orlando. Diaco defended it this week saying it was simply ''something to energize the players and staffs on both sides.so that we can have a great energetic game that is classy and high character, that's clean and with fairness. That's the idea.''
OFFENSIVE WOES: Injuries have clearly taken a toll on UCF's offensive production so far this season. The Knights currently rank last in the FBS in total offense, averaging just 266.4 yards per game. Their scoring average of 16.2 points per game isn't much better, ranking 124th out of 127 teams.
ALL ABOUT SACKS: The Huskies have combined for seven sacks this season, but their offense has given up 16. UConn sophomore quarterback Bryant Shirreffs has had some success this season, completing more than 60 percent of his passes to go along with five touchdowns and just three interceptions. But his offensive line will need to protect him.
|North Carolina Central||vs.||Florida A&M||4:00 (EDT)|
|New Mexico||vs.||Nevada||4:00 (EDT)|
|Northern Arizona||vs.||UC Davis||4:00 (EDT)|
|Savannah State||vs.||Morgan State||4:00 (EDT)|
|Portland State||vs.||North Texas||4:00 (EDT)|
|Boise State||vs.||Colorado State||5:00 (EDT) Preview|
Boise St.-Colorado St. Preview
By KEVIN CHROUST - STATS Writer
Tuesday, October 6 at 4:04 PM (EDT)
The top two teams in the Mountain West Conference last season are handling inexperience at the quarterback position with varying levels of success, and it's predictably sent them in different directions.
No. 25 Boise State has thrived with freshman Brett Rypien and plenty of defensive help, while Colorado State can't find any week-to-week rhythm with sophomore Nick Stevens as the Rams' run defense struggles to keep them in games.
The teams meet Saturday night in Fort Collins with the Broncos looking to stay perfect in the series and win a fourth straight game in blowout fashion.
Boise State (4-1, 1-0) cruised to a 55-0 home win over Hawaii last Saturday with Rypien going 19 of 25 for 271 yards and three touchdowns in his second start since Ryan Finley went down with a broken ankle in a 52-0 win over Idaho State on Sept. 18.
Rypien debuted in that game and made his first start in a 56-14 win at Virginia on Sept. 25. In two-plus contests, he's thrown for 718 yards and six touchdowns with no turnovers and a 190.0 passer rating that would place him in the top three in the FBS if he had the requisite number of attempts.
"Brett's limited in his experience, but he's playing within the game plan we give him each week," said coach Bryan Harsin, whose team will try to match a four-game run of 50-plus points in regulation from 2002. "Each game plan has a theme for the opponent we're playing, and he's going out and executing."
Against Virginia, that meant going to the air more frequently (24 of 35 for 321 yards) as Boise ran the ball 31 times for 89 yards. In the Hawaii game, the Broncos ran 59 times for 279, which figures to be the method of attack against the Rams.
Colorado State (2-3, 0-1) has given up an average of 193.0 rushing yards, which ranks 98th in the FBS. It's been substantially worse the last two weeks with the Rams surrendering a season-high 298 in last Saturday's 33-18 loss at Utah State.
That bodes well for Boise running back Jeremy McNichols, who leads the FBS with 12 TDs - 10 rushing and two receiving.
While the Rypien-led offense has dazzled, the three straight wins by at least 42 points have as much or more to do with the Broncos' defense. Boise has held its last three opponents to an average of 4.7 points and 247.0 yards while forcing 10 turnovers. The team had a minus-2 turnover differential through two games. Since, it's plus-10.
"That's a stat that matters most," Harsin said.
Stevens and the Rams could further that. The first-year starter leads the conference with 10 passing TDs and 1,129 yards, but he's also thrown five interceptions and lost a fumble. The Rams have a minus-nine differential, and their 14 turnovers have them tied for sixth-most in the FBS.
"It's one person here and there and that's what kills our drives and defense and stuff like that, so I think that for the most part we do a really good job taking care of those," Stevens said. "It's just we'll take a play off and that's what kind of springs it. A long run or we do something on offense we aren't supposed to."
While the Broncos spent last season transitioning to a then-first-year coach in Harsin and had little trouble after losing Chris Petersen to Washington, the Rams haven't been as lucky in Mike Bobo's first five games after Jim McElwain left for Florida.
Colorado State has already matched its 2014 loss total, though two of those came in overtime to Colorado and Minnesota. The first of the three last season came in Boise. The last came in the Las Vegas Bowl against No. 23 Utah for the Rams' latest on a 16-game losing streak to ranked opponents dating to 2004.
The Broncos' win was their fourth in as many meetings with the Rams since joining the Mountain West in 2011, and they've come by an average of 25.8 points. Last season's 37-24 home final gave them the inside track over the Rams to first place in the Mountain Division and eventually the conference title. Boise ran for 324 yards on 56 carries.
Colorado State has won six straight conference home games with its last loss coming Nov. 2, 2013 to Boise.
|Sacramento State||vs.||Montana State||5:05 (EDT)|
|East Carolina||vs.||BYU||5:30 (EDT)|
|San Diego State||vs.||Hawaii||6:00 (EDT)|
|Missouri State||vs.||Southern Illinois||6:00 (EDT)|
|Texas State||vs.||Louisiana-Lafayette||6:00 (EDT)|
|Louisiana Tech||vs.||UTSA||6:00 (EDT)|
|Incarnate Word||vs.||Sam Houston State||6:00 (EDT)|
|Southern University||vs.||Alabama State||6:00 (EDT)|
|Southeastern Louisiana||vs.||McNeese State||6:00 (EDT)|
|Arkansas||vs.||Alabama||6:00 (EDT) Preview|
Tuesday, October 6 at 3:45 PM (EDT)
(AP) - Nick Saban doesn't want his Alabama team to care what outsiders think.
It doesn't matter whether it was the questions in recent weeks that maybe the eighth-ranked Crimson Tide were a fading dynasty, or this week's feverish praise following the team's most dominating performance of the year against then-No. 8 Georgia.
It's all the same to Saban, who told reporters his message to players will be ''the same thing as when you all buried us last week.''
''It really doesn't matter what you think,'' Saban said Monday. ''It really doesn't matter what you say. And I'm hoping that nobody on our team is playing for you.''
In other words, it's about the team and then the fans, not national perception, whether it's criticism or praise. Clearly, Saban wasn't oblivious to the talk in the two weeks following a turnover-filled loss to then-No. 15 Mississippi, though.
Alabama (4-1, 1-1 SEC) responded with a 38-10 thrashing of the Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium and now hosts Arkansas (2-3, 1-1) on Saturday night.
Quarterback Jake Coker and tailback Derrick Henry were superb and two freshmen, receiver Calvin Ridley and defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, also turned in huge performances in a dominant effort on offense, defense and special teams.
It was vintage Alabama. And a vintage Saban rant followed two days later when asked what he says to the team when perception is so fluid.
''I said before, I believe in our team,'' the coach said. ''I do believe in our team, and we're going to work hard to make our team better and I hope the players respond the right way. And it's not going to be for you. The fans, yes. Because if it was up to you, we were six foot under already. We're dead and buried and gone. Gone.
''So if that was the case, we'd have to get some respirators out or something there to put the life back in people.''
This was hardly the first time Alabama has mustered such a resounding bounce-back win.
Last season, Alabama destroyed Texas A&M 59-0 two weeks after losing to Ole Miss. In 2012, the Tide rebounded from a loss to Texas A&M by beating struggling rival Auburn 49-0 en route to a national title. A series of blowouts polished off Alabama's 2011 title run after losing to LSU, including a one-sided rematch in the national championship game.
Now, the Tide are 16-point favorites over Arkansas. Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema said he never bought into chatter that Alabama was down after one loss.
''To me, they're the staple of what college football is, not just the SEC,'' Bielema said. ''They've got a phenomenal head coach, their environment ... It's as good as any environment. I've been in the Big Ten and the Big 12 and been to every part of this country, and I think that environment is as good as any that there is for a home-game environment.''
Saban said the Georgia win only re-establishes Alabama's identity ''if it happens on a continuum.'' He doesn't want the Tide to join the teams around the country who can't build on big wins.
It happened to Ole Miss, which was hammered by Florida last week by the same 38-10 score that Alabama produced against Georgia.
Alabama center Ryan Kelly said it was the team's most complete performance but knows the goal is to sustain the strong play.
He said Saban is ''obviously excited that we won but one of the messages he said was, `Look, this is the proof that we can do a lot of great things but we've just got to stay on the right road.'''
Arkansas finally found a way to win a close game last week, ending a three-game skid with a 24-20 victory at Tennessee. The Razorbacks had lost their last 10 games decided by seven points or less, with nine of those defeats coming since Bielema took over the program in 2013.
''At some point in your life as a man, you've just got to finally take what the world wants to give you,'' Bielema said. ''You can't keep giving it away. Our guys really played well today. There wasn't going to be anything but full throttle for four quarters.''
Alex Collins rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns and Rawleigh Williams ran for 100 yards on only 14 carries.
''Now everybody's got it in their mind that we're capable of finishing games, even when they're close,'' Collins said. ''I just wonder how the season's going to go from here on out, knowing if we're ever in these close situations, now that we know how to, we can keep doing it.''
The Razorbacks were in a tight one last year against visiting Alabama, leading after three quarters before the Tide scored early in the fourth to pull out a 14-13 win - their eighth straight in the series.
|San Jose State||vs.||UNLV||6:00 (EDT)|
|Indiana State||vs.||South Dakota State||6:00 (EDT)|
|Florida||vs.||Missouri||6:30 (EDT) Preview|
Tuesday, October 6 at 3:10 PM (EDT)
(AP) - Florida coach Jim McElwain went deep into his playlist, not his playbook, for this one.
McElwain mentioned The Cyrkle during his weekly news conference Monday, recalling the short-lived rock band's 1966 hit single ''Red Rubber Ball.''
''I'm kind of interested to see if our team is a one-hit wonder,'' McElwain said. ''You know, like Cyrkle, `Red Rubber Ball.' ... I mean, how many hits have they had? They had one. They're a one-hit wonder. I don't think we are, but we'll find out this week if we're a one-hit wonder.''
The 11th-ranked Gators (5-0, 3-0 SEC) are one of the biggest surprises in college football. After close wins over East Carolina and Kentucky, Florida notched a come-from-behind victory against Tennessee and topped that with a dominating performance against then-No. 3 Mississippi last Saturday.
The 38-10 victory against the Rebels resulted in the program's largest jump in the Top 25. The 14-spot leap also tied for the third-biggest upward move in poll history.
''Excited for where we're at,'' McElwain said. ''At the same time, it'll be really interesting to see how we handle the praise from all the people that said they weren't worth a hill of beans. People rubbing their bellies and making them feel good. Yeah, they should get their bellies rubbed.
''I mean, they've done a good job. And yet how do you handle it? It'll be interesting.''
Florida plays at Missouri (4-1, 1-1) on Saturday night. The Gators have lost the last two games in the series and ended up watching the Tigers win the SEC's Eastern Division both years and advance to play in the championship game in Atlanta.
Since the Gators have been to the title game 10 times - more than any other school in the conference - it was a stark reminder how far the program had fallen.
Getting back there is a key part of McElwain's ''restore the order'' catchphrase.
The slogan has gained traction with every win, and McElwain said Monday he ''probably stole it from somewhere'' in his coaching career.
Regardless, it's appropriate for the Gators - this week and this season.
''We learn from history,'' McElwain said. ''The order for a long time there was the Gators. We were right up there at the top of the order. Yet, for some reason, the order has been skewed. It's because other teams are getting really good now and because (Missouri) is a team that's taking advantage of that. I look at it a little bit as a responsibility. But you have to be mature enough to handle the responsibility.''
Florida hasn't handled October very well in recent years. The Gators went 6-12 in the month between 2010-2014, a stretch that essentially knocked them out of contention in the East well before Thanksgiving.
Maybe beating Ole Miss will end that trend.
''We can't get too complacent,'' safety Marcus Maye said. ''We have to remember how we were a couple years ago and just keep fighting and just keep practicing hard. Just the whole message is don't get complacent and don't stop working.''
Florida certainly doesn't want to end up like The Cyrkle, which gained fame in '66 by opening for The Beatles. Cyrkle had another top 20 hit that year, and then released a second album and a movie soundtrack before disbanding in 1967.
''We get one `American Bandstand' show and then we're done, right?'' McElwain said.
The coach didn't use the same old-school music references with players, but got his point across.
''He spoke about it a little bit previously after the game,'' right tackle Mason Halter said. ''To me, he's just taking, not really a hit, but a jab to our confidence and trying to make us come back with that fire we need. He doesn't want us to be complacent essentially.''
Missouri got a good result last week when it started freshman Drew Lock in place of the suspended Maty Mauk, and Lock will be under center again this week. He went 21 of 28 for 136 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions to help the Tigers defeat South Carolina 24-10.
Mauk was suspended indefinitely last Tuesday for violation of team policies. Coach Gary Pinkel said the timetable for Mauk's return is unknown.
Missouri also ran for 163 yards - 98 from Ish Witter.
The Tigers pounded Florida 42-13 at Gainesville last Oct. 18, and they'll now look to ride their home crowd's excitement in their first SEC home night game since Nov. 20, 2013.
"We're excited about being at "The Zou" (Memorial Stadium) at night, it's been a while since we've been there," Pinkel said. "Our fans, I think, really enjoy that atmosphere and certainly we do too and we have to give them something to get excited about. So here we go."
|TCU||vs.||Kansas State||6:30 (EDT) Preview|
TCU-Kansas St. Preview
By KEVIN MASSOTH - STATS Writer
Tuesday, October 6 at 5:55 PM (EDT)
Trevone Boykin has powered TCU's potent offense with brilliant passing this season, though the Horned Frogs' next opponent remembers that his legs can be lethal, too.
Boykin will try to help No. 2 TCU stay unbeaten in a matchup with a team he ripped on the ground last year as the Horned Frogs visit Kansas State on Saturday night.
TCU (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) has totaled at least 50 points and 600 yards of offense in each of its last four games. After last week's 50-7 blowout of Texas, the Horned Frogs rank third in the nation with 50.8 points per game and second with 630.0 yards a contest.
TCU is midway through a four-game stretch against conference opponents Texas Tech, Texas, Kansas State and Iowa State that coach Gary Patterson pointed to as pivotal. The Horned Frogs beat the Red Raiders 55-52 on Sept. 26 before last Saturday's victory, the only game of the four at home.
"This is the four-game swing we talked about that we needed to do it, and we've got two hard games left," Patterson said. "Every week you just try to win by one."
Boykin has helped TCU win by an average of 26.8 points, throwing for 1,802 yards and 19 touchdowns - 18 in TCU's last four wins - and three interceptions. His career-best 174.0 rating puts him in the top 10 in the FBS.
But don't forget about his running game.
Boykin has rushed for 242 yards and a pair of touchdowns a year after totaling 707 yards and eight scores on the ground, averaging 4.6 yards per carry in 2015 after averaging 4.7 last season. He ran for 123 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-20 win over Kansas State on Nov. 8, TCU's first victory over the Wildcats in three tries since joining the Big 12 in 2012.
Boykin extended the nation's longest streak with a touchdown pass to 20 games with five against Texas - four to freshman KaVontae Turpin, who finished with 138 receiving yards. Boykin's big day moved his touchdown total to 74, breaking Andy Dalton's school record of 71.
The Frogs' 13-game winning streak is the second-longest in the FBS behind Ohio State at 18.
Scoring early against TCU might be difficult for Kansas State (3-1, 0-1), as the Frogs have allowed 9.6 points before halftime.
"I think it goes without saying, it's vital for us to be able to not just score early but to score throughout the course of the ballgame," coach Bill Snyder said. "I think early is important. If you fall behind a team like that it's pretty difficult to get back on the table."
Kansas State lost 36-34 last week when Oklahoma State's Ben Grogan hit a 37-yard field goal with 32 seconds left. Joe Hubener had scored on a five-yard run with 3:01 left to give the Wildcats the lead, but they failed on a two-point conversion.
The Wildcats have allowed 69 points in their last two games after giving up three in the first two.
Along with Boykin, Kansas State will be tasked with slowing down Aaron Green and Josh Doctson. Green has run for 504 yards and six touchdowns while Doctson has 722 receiving yards and eight scores.
Turpin has totaled 245 receiving yards and six TDs.
"It's a long season," Patterson said. "We get through next week, we're halfway through. I'm not trying to be a playoff team yet. I'm just trying to win the next ballgame."
|Colorado||vs.||Arizona State||7:00 (EDT) Preview|
Colorado-Arizona St. Preview
By JOHN MARSHALL - AP College Football Writer
Friday, October 9 at 2:21 PM (EDT)
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Arizona State got its season back on track with last weekend's road win over UCLA.
That was only one step, though. The Sun Devils still have a long way to go to reach their goal of playing for the Pac-12 championship - and little room for error.
Follow up the win over the Bruins with a home loss to Colorado on Saturday and Arizona State's momentum, not to mention chances of winning the Pac-12 South, will be gone.
''It's single-game elimination,'' Arizona State coach Todd Graham said. ''You've got to go win the next one and win the next one, so obviously it was a huge, huge win for us, and very proud of our guys, but we've got seven more steps to get to the game we want to be playing in, and the next one and the most important one is Colorado.''
Arizona State's last step was a big one.
Blown out at home by Southern California the week before, the Sun Devils (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) responded with their best all-around performance of the season in a 38-23 win over the Bruins, who were ranked No. 7 at the time.
Next up is Colorado, which has taken a step forward in its third season under coach Mike MacIntyre.
The Buffaloes (3-2, 0-1) opened with a disappointing loss to Hawaii, but reeled off three straight wins.
Even in last week's 41-24 loss to Oregon, Colorado showed signs of making progress. Oregon had won the previous four games in the series by an average of 43 points, but the Buffaloes were tied at halftime and still within a touchdown in the fourth quarter before the Ducks pulled away.
''We are a better defense, but they (the Sun Devils) are good athletes in space and we've got to cause turnovers and make stops on third downs,'' MacIntyre said. ''Pac-12 teams are going to gain some yards. We have to keep them out of the end zone and cause more turnovers.''
A few more things to look for when Colorado plays Arizona State at Sun Devil Stadium:
BERCO'S RISE: Mike Bercovici had some uneven performances early in his first season as Arizona State's full-time starter. The senior seemed to hit his stride against UCLA last week, throwing for 273 yards and two touchdowns. He also proved to be a threat running the ball for the first time this season, reeling off a 34-yard touchdown run, and was better at getting rid of the ball to avoid sacks.
COLORADO IN CONFERENCE: Despite the progress Colorado has made, the Buffaloes still have a couple of big hurdles to get past: Winning in the Pac-12 and doing it on the road. The loss to Oregon was CU's 10th straight in conference and its 12th straight in a Pac-12 road game.
STOPPING THE RUN: A key for both teams in this game will be stopping the run. Despite an injury to Patrick Carr, the Buffaloes have had one of the nation's best rushing attack, ranking 18th nationally with 233 yards per game. Arizona State hasn't had quite the same consistent success, but had a breakout game on the ground last week, pounding UCLA for 221 yards on 46 carries, including Kalen Ballage's carry-everyone-into-the-end-zone touchdown that sealed it.
CU'S INJURIES: Colorado will likely be without its two first-string inside linebackers against Arizona State. Kenneth Olugbode is expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks after a hit in the Oregon game sent him to the hospital to have his swelling leg drained. Addison Gillam was injured the second game of the season and isn't expected to be back in time for Saturday's game. Left tackle Sam Kronshage is undergoing the concussion protocol and his status is uncertain.
|Oklahoma State||vs.||West Virginia||7:00 (EDT) Preview|
Oklahoma St.-West Virginia Preview
By ALAN FERGUSON - STATS Writer
Wednesday, October 7 at 12:16 AM (EDT)
Oklahoma State likely can't keep using Ben Grogan's leg to stay unbeaten but a pair of comeback wins have given the No. 21 Cowboys some assurance in their squad.
They might need that for a visit to West Virginia and a matchup with one of the Big 12 Conference's other top defenses Saturday night.
Oklahoma State (5-0, 2-0) added to its best start in four years with a 36-34 victory over Kansas State last weekend on Grogan's 37-yard field goal with 32 seconds left.
The Cowboys also got a small assist in their rally from a 15-point deficit in the second quarter when they were mistakenly awarded a first down late in the first half and netted a touchdown on that drive. The Big 12 acknowledged the mistake in a statement Sunday and supervisor of officials Walt Anderson was expected to hand out disciplinary actions.
Oklahoma State opened conference play with a 30-27 victory at Texas on Sept. 26 that featured a combined 23 penalties with 16 for the Longhorns. Grogan kicked a pair of field goals in the fourth quarter, including a 40-yarder with six seconds left.
"We're a confident football team right now. We haven't won exactly how you would want to win, but coming away with two close victories early on in the season is going to help our football team in the long run," senior backup quarterback J.W. Walsh said. "We have a lot of experience with those games and having it under our belt is going to help on the road in a tough place like West Virginia."
Mason Rudolph threw for a career-high 437 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Kansas State, but the Cowboys couldn't get much going on the ground with 49 yards.
They have a combined 152 yards in their first two conference games after averaging 179.7 in their initial three contests.
The Mountaineers, meanwhile, are averaging 214.3 on the ground this season, and Wendell Smallwood has totaled 258 in his past two games.
Smallwood had a then-career high 132 yards in a 34-10 win at Oklahoma State on Oct. 25. He topped that with 147 in a 45-6 rout of Maryland on Sept. 26 and has 258 of his 442 yards in the past two games.
The formerly No. 23 Mountaineers (3-1, 0-1) suffered their first loss last Saturday, 44-24 at then-No. 15 Oklahoma.
West Virginia still remains the league's stingiest defense with 16.8 points allowed per game and is second in total defense (337.2 yards per contest) behind Oklahoma State (310.0).
The teams are also in the top three in the conference in rushing and pass defense. Oklahoma State has a league-best 22 sacks - eight more than any other team - with 13 in its past two games.
West Virginia has a conference-high 10 interceptions - double any other squad - with Karl Joseph snagging five.
"He is the inspirational leader for our team. He studies the game. He's motivated. He's elevated his play. He expects everybody around him to elevate their play as well," coach Dana Holgorsen said. "I can't say enough about how he is playing, and what he brings to this football team."
Holgorsen was an offensive coordinator under Mike Gundy in 2010 and has bested his former boss in each of the last two matchups. The Mountaineers scored a 30-21 upset over the 11th-ranked Cowboys in September 2013, the second meeting in Morgantown between the schools.
"The past years, they've had our number. Two years ago, we went up there and didn't play very well and then last year it went the same at home," Walsh said. "This year, I think it's going to be different. We have a good football team, playing well and just need to make sure we stay poised and composed on the road."
That win over Oklahoma State was one of West Virginia's two in its last 12 matchups against AP Top 25 teams.
Cutting down on penalties might prove a key to its chances of pulling off an upset this time. The Mountaineers have committed 21 for 235 yards in the past two games.
|Illinois State||vs.||Youngstown State||7:00 (EDT)|
|Abilene Christian||vs.||Lamar||7:00 (EDT)|
|Utah State||vs.||Fresno State||7:30 (EDT)|
|California||vs.||Utah||8:00 (EDT) Preview|
Tuesday, October 6 at 7:16 PM (EDT)
(AP) - In two years, California has gone from a 1-11 season to college football's big stage.
The 23rd-ranked Golden Bears are off to their best start since 2007 and are heading into their biggest game in coach Sonny Dykes' three-year tenure when they travel to No. 5 Utah on Saturday night in a matchup of the Pac-12's only remaining undefeated teams.
With ESPN's ''College GameDay'' on hand for a Cal game for the first time since 2009, the Bears (5-0, 2-0) know this is the chance to show that they have returned to relevance in college football and are ready to contend for a conference title after years of struggles.
''We're trying to stay in the national conversation,'' receiver Bryce Treggs said. ''We understand if we beat a great Utah team, we'll obviously move up in the charts. We're viewing this as a good opportunity to go in the national spotlight and make a statement.''
While the presence of GameDay and the hype around the game are exciting, the message Dykes has been giving his team this week is to tune out all the outside noise and simply prepare to play a football game.
''We were ranked last and we didn't talk about it,'' Dykes said. ''Now that we aren't ranked last we're not going to talk about it either.''
Utah (4-0, 1-0) is ranked No. 5 for just the third time in program history, with this being the earliest in the season. The Utes, who have shot up the polls since routing then-No. 13 Oregon two weeks ago, have gone from being a plucky team with a nasty defense to having eyes from across the country being centered on Salt Lake City.
''It's almost like living in a biosphere or a dome,'' coach Kyle Whittingham said. ''You've got people tapping on the glass and looking in at you. You've just got to block it out and go about your business and not let it affect you because it can be a distraction.''
That's often easier said than done. Whittingham said it's business as usual within the team, but there's a lot more going on in the peripheral - especially with GameDay in town. There's been more interest in the program from recruits recently. And the team that has thrived in the underdog role is suddenly the favorite.
''If you want to be a good team, you've got to handle the success you've had and the attention that's being placed on your program,'' Whittingham said. ''That's part of the deal. You've got to be able to block out the noise and continue to stay focused and continue to do the things that got you where you're at."
The players followed their coach's lead and insist no one is buying into the hype. With some prodding, linebacker Jared Norris admitted the attention is nice, but was eager to advance the conversation.
Running back Devaontae Booker, who has rushed for 443 yards with four TDs, thinks the team can still play with a chip on its shoulder and said the leaders had a talk at the beginning of the off-week last week.
''I don't think none of us are feeling ourself too much,'' Booker said. ''I kind of look at it as we're still the underdog. It don't matter if we're No. 5 or whatever. We still have to go out there and win games if we want to be the best and win it all.
''We still have to reiterate to them because some guys still want to go down that bad trail. With a week break, we still had to tell them you can't be a distraction to this team or do anything stupid to hurt this team. I think they got the message.''
The Utes are 6 1/2-point favorites to beat the Bears, who are led by record-setting quarterback Jared Goff and have the chance for their first 6-0 start since 1950.
The excitement around the program is noticeable to the players in their daily life on campus. Dykes said he is mostly in a coaching cocoon but has noticed subtle changes.
''When you get coffee or something in the morning maybe those people are a little nicer to you,'' Dykes said. ''I don't have to worry about somebody poisoning my coffee like I used to.''
After squandering a 4-1 start last year by losing six of their final seven games when players said issues of complacency ended up doing them in, the Bears are remaining focused on the immediate this season.
''Right now it's still early in the year so you can't sit there and worry about getting pats on the back for something you did last week when you have a game in five more days,'' safety Stefan McClure said. ''We're really just focused onto the next game now.''
Goff is the seventh-highest rated passer in the FBS (170.5), having already posted four 300-yard games while totaling 15 touchdowns and four interceptions.
He leads a Cal offense which is averaging 43.4 points to rank second in the Pac-12 behind USC. Utah's defense, though, has yet to give up more than 24 points while forcing 11 turnovers, second in the conference behind Cal (18).
|Miami (FL)||vs.||Florida State||8:00 (EDT) Preview|
Miami-Florida St. Preview
Tuesday, October 6 at 6:38 PM (EDT)
(AP) - As Florida State prepares for its showdown with Miami, the Seminoles' top offensive player is not 100 percent.
Running back Dalvin Cook may not be even be fully healthy at game time, but the question right now is how close he'll be.
Cook has not been practicing this week with the 12th-ranked Seminoles ramping up preparations for Saturday's home game against Miami. Cook strained his left hamstring during the first quarter of last Saturday's 24-16 win at Wake Forest.
Coach Jimbo Fisher said that Cook is day-to-day but that the injury is not as bad or drastic as originally thought. Cook, a sophomore and Miami native, leads the ACC in rushing with 570 yards. Eight of his 55 carries have gone for 20 yards or more, including a 94-yard touchdown on his first carry against Wake Forest.
''He's a guy that heals pretty quickly and plays tough, but you can't count on that thing,'' Fisher said. ''Just got to wait it day by day and see how it goes.''
Cook has scored six of Florida State's offensive 16 touchdowns and has been the only consistent player on a unit still struggling to find its identity. Mario Pender, who had 30 carries for 140 yards the first three games, remains hospitalized due to complications from a collapsed lung that he suffered during practice two weeks ago.
That leaves Johnathan Vickers and Jacques Patrick as the other options.
Vickers got his first action last Saturday and had 10 carries for 33 yards. Patrick has three carries this season but none since the Sept. 5 season opener against Texas State. He was in for a couple plays against Wake Forest during a first-half series.
There's also the possibility that fullback Freddie Stevenson could also see some carries if needed.
The run game has been an important barometer in the Florida State-Miami series. Since 1988, the team that rushes for more yards has won 20 of the past 28 games. Since Fisher arrived at Florida State as offensive coordinator in 2007, the Seminoles are averaging 182.9 rushing yards against the Hurricanes.
In last year's 30-26 win over the Hurricanes, Cook ran for 92 yards and scored two touchdowns, including the game-winner with three minutes remaining as Florida State extended its win streak in the series to five.
Despite a lack of backs last week, Fisher was pleased with how the offense performed against Wake Forest. The Seminoles (4-0, 2-0) had the ball for just 24 minutes but scored on four of their first six drives and were 6 for 12 on third-down conversions.
Everett Golson threw for 202 yards, which was the first time since the opener that he had over 200 passing yards. The offense still has not committed a turnover this season.
''Everett controlled the game a lot better and I thought we were extremely efficient,'' Fisher said.
The Seminoles will be missing at least one defensive starter as safety Nate Andrews will be out 2-3 weeks due to a deep bone bruise in his left leg. Derwin James, who has been used as a pass rusher in certain packages, is likely to start in Andrews' place. Linebacker Terrance Smith is day-to-day with a right ankle injury.
The Hurricanes are hoping to avoid their longest losing streak against the rival Seminoles since losing seven straight from 1963-72.
''I've been here for two years and I haven't beaten them yet, so I've got to get them this year,'' said junior cornerback Artie Burns, who is tied for the team lead with three interceptions.
Coach Al Golden, who hasn't beaten Florida State in four tries, had a message for his team ahead of the 60th meeting between the schools.
''He said, `It's enough. We've got to get this win in this rivalry game,''' Burns said.
Miami (3-1, 0-0) is coming off a 34-23 defeat at Cincinnati for its seventh loss in its last nine away from Sun Life Stadium. Criticism from the fan base, former players, and some media has followed Golden, who is 31-23 in his fifth season with the Hurricanes.
A win over Florida State could help.
''It'd be big,'' said Golden, whose team blew a 16-0 lead to the Seminoles last year. ''I thought we played with a lot of confidence last year. We didn't finish. We left a lot of plays out there. I don't think you can carry anything forward but the experience. I think our guys that played in that game a year ago have to lead now."
Miami has struggled to defeat quality opponents in Golden's tenure, going 0-12 against teams that finished ranked. It's dropped two straight in Tallahassee.
The Hurricanes will rely on the leadership of sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya, who will need to put his road struggles behind him. Kaaya is 2-6 as a starter away from home, averaging 238 passing yards with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions compared to a 7-2 mark at home with an average of 265 yards along with 22 touchdowns and five interceptions.
''He's been motivating everybody,'' wide receiver Tyre Brady said. ''He's keeping positive vibes around here. He's our leader.''
Kaaya has help in the backfield with Joseph Yearby, who leads the team with 424 rushing yards and five total touchdowns. Both players will need to help the Hurricanes perform better on third down, as they rank next-to-last in the country at 24.5 percent.
|Michigan State||vs.||Rutgers||8:00 (EDT) Preview|
Michigan St.-Rutgers Preview
Wednesday, October 7 at 3:30 PM (EDT)
(AP) - Coach Mark Dantonio is well aware of the numbers, especially Michigan State's record: 5-0.
The fourth-ranked Spartans have been outscored 73-50 in the second half, after owning the first half 107-31. That and a 24-21 scare from one-win Purdue in their Big Ten opener last Saturday prompted a drop from No. 2 in the rankings this week, drawing skepticism about the team's ability to ''Reach Higher'' after No. 3 and No. 5 national finishes.
Heading into Saturday night's game at Rutgers (2-2, 0-1), Dantonio would rather look at the positives. That includes his injury-plagued team's ability to finish games, reflected in a 31-3 record since late in the 2012 season.
''The bottom line is you need to win,'' he said Tuesday. ''I don't feel frustration. There was no frustration in that locker room after the game. Guys were excited to play.''
Michigan State looked excited again at the outset, racing to a 21-0 halftime lead in miserable weather. When a dropped punt snap and a blown assignment gave Purdue considerable momentum, the Spartans did what they do so well. They finished the job, with or without style points.
Michigan State will make its first appearance on the road, a change Dantonio welcomes. He said a retooled secondary will have to play well against a potent Scarlet Knights passing attack.
''It is tough to win games,'' Dantonio said. ''I don't care who you play. People spend 80-plus hours as coaches every week to develop a plan with what they have. Players spend 20 hours mandated and countless hours by themselves, trying to figure out how to do things to the best of their ability.''
The Spartans have shown an ability to score. Their streak of 20 straight games with 24 or more points is tied for the longest in FBS play with Baylor.
Michigan State also has shown it can move the football with balance. Connor Cook, the winningest quarterback in school history, has 10 touchdown passes, while freshmen L.J. Scott and Madre London have combined to rush for 149.6 yards per week.
To do that when three offensive tackles - Kodi Kieler, Jack Conklin and Dennis Finley - have been sidelined with injuries shows the depth the program has built in Dantonio's nine seasons. It demonstrates the importance of having that talent pool, even when All-America center Jack Allen has to swing out to play left tackle.
The Spartans lost a series of close games in 2012, a 7-6 season capped by a bowl win over TCU. That reinforced the belief that stats don't tell the story. Only the scoreboard does.
''Every time you line up to play, you're trying to win that particular play or situation, but at the end of the game, did you win?'' Dantonio said. ''That's how you're ultimately measured. There have been a lot of close games here in the past.
''Quite honestly in 2013, there was a lot of doubt created early in the season. That doubt changed as the season went forward. Nobody predicted that we'd be 13-1.''
The embattled Scarlet Knights had a bye last week after defeating Kansas 27-14. Rutgers snapped a two-game skid with its first win since coach Kyle Flood was suspended three games Sept. 16 for contacting a faculty member about a player's grade. Running backs coach Norries Wilson has run the team the last two games.
In addition, six players have been kicked off the team because of arrests. However, top receiver Leonte Carroo was reinstated Wednesday, a day after criminal charges against him were dropped.
Flood said Carroo agreed to some undisclosed conditions and ''accepted the responsibility'' that comes with his return to the team.
Also, captain Darius Hamilton announced before last week's game that he would not play again this season because of a lower body injury.
Then-No. 10 Michigan State routed Rutgers 45-3 at home Nov. 22 in the teams' first meeting in 10 years, evening the series at 3-3.
|Wyoming||vs.||Air Force||8:15 (EDT)|
|Friday, October 9, 2015|
|Southern Miss||10||vs.||31||Marshall||Final Recap|
Litton throws 2 TDs, Marshall beats Southern Miss, 31-10
Friday, October 9 at 11:32 PM (EDT)
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) Chase Litton threw two touchdowns and the Marshall defense forced five turnovers to help the Thundering Herd beat Southern Miss 31-10 Friday night.
Devon Johnson had 82 yards rushing and a score and Deandre Reaves 76 yards receiving and a touchdown for Marshall (5-1, 2-0 Conference USA).
On fourth-and-3, Marshall lined up to attempt a 40-yard field goal but Southern Miss jumped offside, giving the Thundering Herd a fresh set of downs. Three plays later, Litton hit Ryan Yurachek for a 3-yard touchdown to make it 17-10 with 25 seconds left in the half.
Marshall's Gary Thompson had strip-sacks on back-to-back Southern Miss drives, the second of which Jarquez Samuel returned 3 yards to make it 31-10 with 1:49 left in the third quarter.
Southern Miss (3-3, 1-1) had seven second-half possessions, all of which ended with a fumble, an interception or a turnover on downs.
|North Carolina State||13||vs.||28||Virginia Tech||Final Recap|
Hokies end 2-game skid with 28-13 victory over Wolfpack
By HANK KURZ Jr. - AP Sports Writer
Saturday, October 10 at 12:30 AM (EDT)
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) Brenden Motley and Isaiah Ford had apparently heard enough about how missed opportunities had put Virginia Tech in a hole.
The pair teamed up for three second-quarter touchdown passes Friday night, pulling the Hokies out of a 10-0 hole and leading them to a 28-13 victory that was like a soothing salve on open wounds suffered this season, and a few festering one from recent seasons, too.
''We really needed to beat a good football team,'' coach Frank Beamer said. ''I hope we can take this and build on it.''
The Hokies (3-3, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) avoided a three-game losing streak and their third home loss in four games by putting together their best offensive quarter of the season against FCS-level competition. Their defense was impressive, too, after a slow start.
The stars were Motley, the backup forced into action since the opening week, and Ford, who draws plenty of defensive attention.
''It's like basketball when you can't miss,'' Ford said with a wide smile. ''I couldn't not get open, and `Mot' was finding me.''
The pair hooked up on touchdowns of 27, 5 and 2 yards in the quarter.
''The opportunities are always there,'' Motley said. ''In the second quarter, we just started to convert on them''
The scoring drives came on three successive possessions, the last ending with 18 second left in the half.
Ford became the first Hokies receiver with three touchdown catches in a quarter in Beamer's 29 seasons.
NC State (4-2, 0-2) lost its second straight league game after starting the season by beating four lesser opponents. The Wolfpack led 10-0 after just 16 minutes, but were outgained 156-2 in the second quarter. They managed just 125 yards of offense after the first 15 minutes.
''I just think we got a little undisciplined in how we were playing,'' linebacker Airius Moore said.
Motley, who has been filling in while injured starter Michael Brewer recovers from a broken left collarbone, got his fifth start when Brewer was cleared to practice, but not play in a game. Motley was 14 of 28 for 158 yards and ran for 44 yards on nine tries.
Travon McMillian added his first career touchdown with a 59-yard run in the fourth quarter for the Hokies.
Virginia Tech also ended Wolfpack quarterback Jacoby Brissett's streak of attempts without being intercepted at 241. Adonis Alexander did the honors, picking off a pass with 1:20 remaining. Brissett was 12 of 25 for just 113 yards. He was sacked four times.
''I have to do a better job of getting the ball out of my hands faster, making more plays in the passing game,'' Brissett said.
The Hokies, needing badly to reverse a trend that had seen them lose six of their last seven home games against teams from the Power Five conferences, and eight of their last 10, finally found some offensive consistency they had been lacking after falling behind.
Motley hit McMillian for 19 yards and Cam Phillips for 14 yards on consecutive plays early in the second quarter. Three plays later, on third-and-6, Motley hit Ford from 27 yards, a touchdown making it just 10-7.
The defense began the next series with a sack, forced a punt, and the offense drove methodically downfield again.
Motley's 5-yard pass to Ford made it 14-10 Hokies with just fewer than 6 minutes left in the half, and a third-down sack by Woody Baron on third down on the Wolfpack's next series gave the Hokies another chance before halftime.
Motley hit Phillips for 17 yards on third-and-6, threw incomplete toward Bucky Hodges on another third-and-6, but a tripping penalty gave Virginia Tech an automatic first down. On third-and-goal from the 2, he found Ford for the third time, making it 21-10.
Brissett and Jumichael Ramos teamed on an 8-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter for the Wolfpack.
Follow Hank on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hankkurzjr
The AP's college football page: www.collegefootball.ap.org
|Saturday, October 10, 2015|
|National Hockey League|
By JEFF BARTL - STATS Senior Writer
Friday, October 9 at 12:22 PM (EDT)
Tampa Bay and Buffalo each got a glimpse in their openers of the direction toward which the NHL is trending.
The Lightning began defense of their Eastern Conference title by surviving the league's first 3-on-3 overtime period, and 18-year-old Jack Eichel scored the first of what the Sabres believe will be many goals during a long career.
Tampa now looks to continue the same old story of beating Buffalo by winning a fifth consecutive meeting Saturday night in upstate New York.
Defenseman Jason Garrison scored his second goal on a breakaway at 2:17 of a wild up-and-down overtime session to give the Lightning a 3-2 victory over Philadelphia on Thursday, the first time teams played 3 on 3 since the NHL implemented the change for this season to cut down on shootouts.
Ryan Callahan added a goal and an assist, and Jonathan Drouin finished with two assists.
Ben Bishop made 23 saves and stopped his second penalty shot of the game in the extra period.
"He was the first star for sure," Garrison said of Bishop. "Those penalty shots were huge and amongst those he stopped plenty of Grade-A chances, so we've got to clean those up for next game."
Bishop, who won a career-high 40 games while helping guide Tampa to the Stanley Cup Final last season, is expected to be back in net for this contest. He has a 1.64 goals-against average while winning his last six starts against the Sabres.
"It's always great to get off to a good start," Bishop said. "Now we have to go take care of it on the road."
He'll get his first look at Eichel, the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft after winning the Hobey Baker Award as a freshman at Boston University. Eichel scored on the power play in the third period Thursday to bring the Sabres within a goal before they fell 3-1 to Ottawa.
''It was a special moment, something I'll never forget,'' Eichel said. ''But it's tough to really enjoy it when you don't win the game.''
Evander Kane appeared to tie it less than two minutes later, but Senators coach Dave Cameron used his coach's challenge - another new rule implemented for this season - to determine Zemgus Girgensons had gone offside prior to the goal.
It was disallowed, helping to spoil the debuts of Eichel and new coach Dan Bylsma.
"I think just our compete wasn't there, we weren't hard enough on the puck," Kane said. "They outworked us, outskated us and obviously there was a higher sense of urgency in the third period and we need to have that from the start."
Buffalo also might be without its starting goaltender for a while. Robin Lehner, acquired from Ottawa with forward David Legwand for a first-round pick in June, made 11 saves before suffering an apparent left leg injury midway through the second period.
Chad Johnson came on in relief and likely will start this contest. Bylsma said Lehner's injury "doesn't look like it's short term," but there's been no word about a specific amount of time he'll miss.
It may not matter who's in net given how the Lightning have dominated recent meetings. Tampa has outscored the Sabres 15-2 while winning four straight.
Captain Steven Stamkos has five goals and three assists in his last six against Buffalo.
|Oilers||vs.||Predators||6:00 (EDT) Preview|
By JEFF BARTL - STATS Senior Writer
Friday, October 9 at 12:38 PM (EDT)
Connor McDavid is the latest in a recent string of No. 1 overall picks expected to help revive a once-proud Edmonton Oilers franchise that has missed the playoffs for nine straight seasons.
It's probably why new coach Todd McLellan didn't sugarcoat the debut of the 18-year-old who has been dubbed the NHL's best prospect since Sidney Crosby.
McDavid's next challenge is to try and solve Pekka Rinne as the Oilers visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.
Edmonton selected first in the draft for the fourth time in six years in June, as McDavid joined Taylor Hall (2010), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ('11) and Nail Yakupov ('12) as the top selections in that stretch.
None of the others before McDavid have been able to help the Oilers reach the playoffs for the first time since they lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final to Carolina in 2006. McLellan was hired this offseason as the seventh coach during the drought and hopes to get the most out of his young core.
Nugent-Hopkins was credited with Edmonton's goal in a 3-1 loss to St. Louis on Thursday, but that came on a fluke when a Blues defenseman shot it off a teammate and into the net trying to clear the puck while shorthanded.
McDavid played an inconsistent 18:07 in his anticipated debut, mostly on a line with Hall and Anton Slepyshev, who also was playing his first NHL game.
"At times I thought he was very dangerous and at other times I didn't think that line had a lot going," McLellan said of McDavid. "So it's a matter of timing and chemistry and trying to find the right combinations for him and his linemates."
McDavid acknowledged he could've been better after finishing minus-1 with two shots on goal and losing 10 of his 13 faceoffs.
"I did some good stuff, did some bad stuff," McDavid said. "There's obviously some stuff to improve on. We didn't finish the way we wanted to, but for the most part we were right there."
The Oilers now try to snap a three-game skid against the Predators, who also hope to put together a more complete effort.
Craig Smith scored and Viktor Arvidsson followed with his first NHL goal in the opening period as Nashville outshot Carolina 14-5 on Thursday, but it had just 11 shots the rest of the way in a 2-1 win.
Rinne made 25 saves and lost a shutout on Eric Staal's goal with 1:40 remaining.
"We played great hockey in the first, but we let off the gas for sure, and we knew they weren't going to give up," said defenseman Seth Jones, who assisted on both goals. "Pek made some huge saves for us and we got some timely bounces."
Rinne provided a boost as he did time and again last season, when he won 41 games with a 2.18 goals-against average while helping the Predators to a surprising second-place finish in the Central Division and being named a Vezina Trophy finalist.
He posted a 0.98 GAA while winning all three starts against the Oilers last season and had a 37-save shutout the last time he faced them Nov. 27.
Cam Talbot is getting his first opportunity to be a full-time starter after Edmonton acquired him from the New York Rangers in the offseason. He's 2-1-0 with a 1.35 GAA in three starts against the Predators and likely will be in net after making 28 saves Thursday.
|Blue Jackets||vs.||Rangers||7:00 (EDT) Preview|
Blue Jackets-Rangers Preview
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO - STATS Writer
Saturday, October 10 at 12:24 AM (EDT)
A late rally has the New York Rangers off to their best start in seven years. Oscar Lindberg is aiming for the best by a Rangers rookie in 23.
Lindberg looks to score in a third straight game as New York goes for a sweep of a home-and-home set with the Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
New York is 2-0-0 to start a season for the first time since winning the first five games of 2008-09. The Rangers rallied with three goals in a span of 77 seconds late in the third period to beat Columbus 4-2 on Friday.
"They were just some quick plays that happened and we took advantage of the mistakes they made," goaltender Henrik Lundqvist told the team's official website. "Finding a way to win a game is so important in this league."
Lindberg is unexpectedly finding ways to contribute immediately. The center, a second-round pick in 2010, has a goal in each of the first two games and can become the club's first rookie to put together a longer streak since Steven King found the net in his first four games of 1992-93.
Lindberg had 28 goals and 28 assists in 75 games for Hartford of the AHL last season
"All of our guys are competitors," coach Alain Vigneault said.
Mats Zuccarello scored his first two goals of the season Friday. It was the first time he got on the scoresheet since missing 14 playoff games with a head injury suffered when he was hit in the head with a shot by defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
Lundqvist is expected to get the start in net after making 31 saves Friday, two days after a 32-save effort in a 3-2 win at Chicago. He's compiled a 1.73 goals-against average while winning four straight meetings with the Blue Jackets.
The Rangers, last season's Presidents' Trophy winner, are taking the ice at MSG for the first time since losing 2-0 to Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The Jackets are looking to return the favor and spoil New York's home opener, but coach Todd Richards wants to see a more complete performance.
"We played 57 1/2 minutes of the game," Richards said. "Mistakes are going to happen. They are a good hockey team and are going to generate their opportunities."
Brandon Saad scored in his Columbus debut after being acquired in a seven-player trade with Chicago over the summer and inking a six-year, $36 million extension.
"We gotta learn to close off games," Saad said. "We want to stay a little bit more disciplined, but that's gotta be our calling card there is playing aggressive and playing relentless."
Cam Atkinson scored on a breakaway against Lundqvist on Friday, giving him four goals and five points in his last eight meetings with New York.
The Blue Jackets will likely be without second-year center Alexander Wennberg, who suffered a concussion on a hit by the Rangers' Chris Kreider midway through the first period.
"I am not going to get into my opinion of it, ... there's no timetable yet," Richards said.
Columbus hasn't opened a season 0-2 since going 0-7-1 in 2011-12.
|Blues||vs.||Wild||7:00 (EDT) Preview|
By KEVIN CHROUST - STATS Writer
Friday, October 9 at 5:51 PM (EDT)
The Minnesota Wild's top offensive season in franchise history translated to their most successful year under Mike Yeo, the final highlight being an unexpected series win over one of the top teams in the Western Conference.
This season started in promising fashion offensively, though they'll likely need a better showing in their own zone Saturday night with the visiting St. Louis Blues targeting the team that sent them home in the first round in April.
The Wild finished tied for 12th in the NHL last season with 2.77 goals per game, which might not sound like much, but it topped their previous high of 2.76 from 2005-06. They finished fourth in the Central Division, but did so with 100 points for their best mark since finishing '06-07 with 104.
It took a few periods, but the scoring again came in Thursday's 5-4 win in Colorado. The Wild fell behind 3-0 after the first and 4-1 by the end of two, then completed a span of four unanswered goals in just over five minutes midway through the third on Zach Parise's third of the game.
"We weren't on for sure," Yeo said. "It looked like the type of game you play after a weeklong break after you play a couple of, I hate to say it, easy exhibition games. We pretty much kind of slept-walked through the first two periods. It felt like once they got up they really tried to run at us and that kind of woke our guys up."
Minnesota eliminated St. Louis in six games last season before bowing out to Chicago in the West semifinals and went 6-3-1 in the overall season series.
Parise also had a big hand in closing out the Blues, scoring twice in Game 6 to give him seven goals and five assists in his last 13 games in the series.
The Blues kicked things off with a more conventional victory, beating Edmonton 3-1 at home Thursday. Vladimir Tarasenko evened the game in the second period before newcomers Robby Fabbri and Troy Brouwer scored in the third. Fabbri, a 19-year-old rookie playing his first NHL game, got the winner.
Coach Ken Hitchcock saw the team evolve out of preseason form somewhere in the second period.
"All the talk that you have, all the preparation that you have for exhibition, you don't really know the level until you experience it," Hitchcock told the team's official website. "I thought where we turned the game around a little bit was in the second half of the second period.
"We started to really check and create turnovers and really got after them a little bit and started to put a bunch of shots up. We really started to check in the second period and that kind of turned the momentum for us a little bit."
Tarasenko scored six goals in the playoff series and has nine with four assists in his last 12 contests against Minnesota.
The last eight of those goals have come against Devan Dubnyk, who wasn't quite as sharp in the opener as the Wild would hope with four goals allowed on 23 shots.
Dubnyk, who assertively took control of the goaltending job in the second half of last year, went 6-3-0 with a 2.42 goals-against average and .915 save percentage against a St. Louis team that averaged 2.88 goals - including the playoffs.
Brian Elliott made 23 saves against the Oilers, but it was Jake Allen who played almost all of the playoff series and will face Minnesota again. Allen was 3-4-0 with a 2.24 GAA and .909 save percentage in eight games against the Wild last year.
|Canadiens||vs.||Bruins||7:00 (EDT) Preview|
By KEVIN CHROUST - STATS Writer
Friday, October 9 at 1:33 PM (EDT)
Montreal's top goal scorer from the past three seasons is off to a promising start, and its Hart and Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender is doing exactly what the team expects.
Max Pacioretty and Carey Price have also guided the Canadiens to plenty of recent success against Boston, and winning there Saturday night would send the Bruins to their first 0-2 start in a decade.
The Canadiens opened the season with Wednesday's 3-1 win in Toronto, and Pacioretty got things started with a goal just over three minutes in before wrapping up the game with an empty-netter. P.K. Subban assisted on all three of Montreal's goals.
Pacioretty, whose 76 goals over the past two seasons are tied for third behind Alex Ovechkin and Joe Pavelski, scored the league's first goal for the second straight season.
"It's exciting because our team showed flashes of what we're capable of doing," Pacioretty told the team's official website. "We didn't put together 60 minutes, but it's definitely inspiring knowing that we're able to play a certain way. I think when we're on our game, we're a very tough team to play against."
In the moments when that was absent, Price stepped up as Montreal was outshot 37-30.
"We obviously would've liked to maintain a little bit more offensive-zone pressure," Price said. "But at the end of the day it worked for us, and we'll definitely take the win."
The Canadiens have taken plenty against Boston with six straight victories dating to the final two contests of the 2014 Eastern Conference semifinals. Price has been in goal for all six with a 1.17 goals-against average and .960 save percentage, while Pacioretty has six goals and four assists. Montreal also has won all six regular-season visits to Boston since the start of 2012-13 - no other team has won there more than three times in that span.
Boston started the season with Thursday's 6-2 home loss to Winnipeg, turning in a messy final 40 minutes after David Krejci gave the Bruins a first-period lead.
"We kind of got away from our defensive game," said Krejci, who has gone his last 16 games against Montreal without a goal. "I thought we did a pretty god job of creating a bunch of scoring chances but on the other hand, totally forgot about our defensive game. So that's what happened."
Nevertheless, the goal might have been an individual relief for Krejci, who was limited to 31 points in 47 games a season ago with 0.66 points per game marking his lowest since 2009-10.
Thursday's defensive lapses were likely due in part to the absence of Zdeno Chara, who remains out following a preseason upper-body injury. Fellow defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who played all 82 games last season, will miss an extended period as he recovers from back surgery.
"It's not just (Chara) being out of the lineup," goaltender Tuukka Rask told the team's official website. "Guys are going to get hurt. We have to have guys step up, and we have to respect our game plan defensively, offensively, and we'll be OK. When we don't, these kind of things happen."
The 2013-14 Vezina winner gave up five goals on 31 shots, and he's lost his last five starts against Montreal with a 3.40 GAA.
The Bruins last lost their first two games in 2005-06, and they're particularly motivated to avoid doing so this year after kicking opportunity down the road last season and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07.
"You know, too many times we've done that last year," said Patrice Bergeron, who is without a point in his last eight games against the Canadiens. "... We can't just sit here and say that we generated some good chances and what not. We've got to find some results and we've got to keep harping on that (Friday) and be better on Saturday."
|Devils||vs.||Capitals||7:00 (EDT) Preview|
By SCOTT GARBARINI - STATS Writer
Friday, October 9 at 11:30 PM (EDT)
Though the Washington Capitals' first season under Barry Trotz could qualify as a success, another year of falling short in the playoffs won't be viewed as anything other than disappointing.
The Capitals begin another season of raised expectations when they host the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.
Regular-season successes and playoff failures have often been the norm during the 10-year Alex Ovechkin era in Washington. Such was the case again in 2014-15, when Ovechkin's league-leading 53 goals and goaltender Braden Holtby's strong play led the Capitals to a second-place finish in the Metropolitan Division and a trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals, where Washington (45-26-11) blew a 3-1 series lead to the New York Rangers.
''Every year, we talk about, 'This team can do something.' I think right now, it's not (for) talking. We have to do it,'' Ovechkin said. ''It's 10 years. We have to move forward and take a big step.''
The Capitals did make strides with Trotz replacing Adam Oates as coach, going from 90 points during a playoff-absent 2013-14 campaign to 101 last season.
Washington hasn't advanced past the conference semis during Ovechkin's tenure, however, and fell to 3-6 in Game 7s since 2008 with last season's loss to the Rangers.
Those shortcomings prompted the offseason signing of the notoriously clutch Justin Williams, a three-time Stanley Cup winner and Conn Smythe Trophy recipient during the Los Angeles Kings' 2014 championship run. The 34-year-old forward has 14 points in seven career Game 7s, all victories.
Ovechkin and 2014-15 NHL assists leader Nicklas Backstrom again headline an offense that gained Williams and forward T.J. Oshie while losing puck-moving defenseman Mike Green and complementary scorers Troy Brouwer (traded to St. Louis for Oshie) and Joel Ward. Holtby received a five-year, $30.5 million contract in July after posting 41 wins, nine shutouts and a 2.22 goals-against average while making a league-leading 72 starts.
''There's a strong base that we can build from and we should be a better team," general manager Brian MacLellan said.
Backstrom will miss at least the season's first week, though, as he recovers from offseason hip surgery.
Holtby had a 1.20 GAA and .958 save percentage while going 4-1-0 last season against the Devils, who lost 3-1 at home to Winnipeg on Friday in coach John Hynes' debut.
Jiri Tlusty was credited with New Jersey's goal when Winnipeg defenseman Jacob Trouba shot the puck into his own net on a failed clearing attempt in the second period. The Devils ranked 28th in the NHL in scoring last season while missing the playoffs for a third straight year.
Cory Schneider made 27 saves but allowed three goals within a 15:08 span in the second period.
''The game was full of spurts and not enough good ones,'' Hynes said.
Schneider started all five 2014-15 meetings with Washington, recording 30 saves in New Jersey's 1-0 victory at Verizon Center on Nov. 14 and surrendering three or more goals in the others. He could give way to backup Keith Kincaid in the second of a back-to-back.
Kincaid started 13 times last season, compiling a 6-5-4 record with a 2.59 GAA.
|Flames||vs.||Canucks||7:00 (EDT) Preview|
By KEVIN MASSOTH - STATS Writer
Friday, October 9 at 3:45 PM (EDT)
The Vancouver Canucks handled the Calgary Flames in their season opener. Given the destination, the rematch might cause even more trouble for the Flames.
Calgary will try to reverse its struggles in Vancouver on Saturday night in another rivalry showdown between Western Conference quarterfinal opponents from a year ago.
The Canucks got a small measure of revenge for their six-game postseason loss with a 5-1 victory on Wednesday in Calgary, their 10th win in the last 12 regular-season meetings.
Worse for the Flames is their road record against the Canucks. Including a 1-2 mark in the playoffs, Calgary is 2-6-4 in its last 12 games in Vancouver - a span in which it's been outscored 34-18.
The Flames hold high expectations after compiling 97 points last season and winning their first postseason series since 2003-04. But they had a poor effort in the opener - which included a deflection into their own net in the third period.
"That was probably as bad as we can get out there," captain Mark Giordano told the Flames' official website. "We turned over a lot of pucks. We were making poor decisions and they made us pay. They played a solid game and they played the right way and that's why they beat us that badly.
"Last year we believed we were a playoff team, and we do again. We're looking forward to getting better and on paper today, if you look at our roster, we do look like a deeper, better roster. Now as players, we have to bring that and prove it on the ice."
The Flames fell to 0-5-1 in their last six season openers, and the Canucks beat them for the second straight year. Vancouver's top line of Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Brandon Sutter did much of the damage with three goals and three assists.
Daniel Sedin scored a goal and had two assists while Sutter added a goal and an assist. The Canucks acquired Sutter from Pittsburgh in July and moved him to the wing in their final preseason game after he spent his first seven NHL seasons at center.
''Hank and Daniel are pretty smart guys, so we can read off each other and to be honest, it's been a little easier than I expected in terms of the positioning of it,'' Sutter said. ''They're so intelligent out there, easy to read, they're always in the right spot, so that makes it easier for me and for anyone that plays with them.''
Daniel Sedin has five goals and seven assists in his last 12 games against Calgary, including the postseason.
Ryan Miller made 29 saves Wednesday to boost his save percentage to .924 in seven games against Calgary since arriving in Vancouver. Flames goalie Karri Ramo is 2-3-1 with an .899 save percentage in six career starts against the Canucks.
|Flyers||vs.||Panthers||7:00 (EDT) Preview|
By KEVIN MASSOTH - STATS Writer
Friday, October 9 at 6:16 PM (EDT)
A new coach and a new version of overtime hockey couldn't keep the Philadelphia Flyers from a familiar result in their season opener. A meeting with a goaltender who has recently owned them might not help.
Philadelphia hopes the positives of a game featuring the NHL's first 3-on-3 extra session outweighs the negatives as it looks to spoil the season opener for Roberto Luongo and the host Florida Panthers on Saturday night.
In Dave Hakstol's NHL coaching debut, the Flyers dropped their eighth straight game that went past regulation and 12th in their last 13 with a 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday. Philadelphia finished with an NHL-high 18 overtime or shootout losses last season while missing the playoffs with 84 points.
Matt Read and Brayden Schenn scored for the Flyers, but captain Claude Giroux missed on a penalty shot in the first period and Scott Laughton was denied by Ben Bishop on one in overtime.
Still, Hakstol saw enough to be happy about his team's opener.
"I like the way our team played," said Hakstol, who coached the previous 11 seasons at the University of North Dakota. "That's, I guess, what my focus is. I'm excited to see everybody go out and work hard to play their role and do their job and do it with confidence."
Things might get a bit tougher against Luongo, though. The 15-year veteran is 3-1-0 in his last four games against Philadelphia, including three with Florida last season. Luongo holds a 1.96 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage in those four games, compared to 3.30 and .912 in his previous 15 appearances against the Flyers.
The Panthers were 1-9-0 when Luongo allowed four or more goals last season, compared to 27-10-12 at three or less. His 2.35 GAA for the season was his best since 2010-11.
While Luongo will turn 37 this season, Jaromir Jagr is still going strong for the Panthers at 43. Jagr nearly helped Florida to the playoffs last season after coming over via a trade from New Jersey in February.
Playing on a line with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, Jagr scored six goals and added 12 assists in 20 games. Florida finished with 91 points but missed the playoffs for the third straight year.
Jagr enters with 722 goals, nine behind Marcel Dionne for fourth-most all-time and 19 behind Brett Hull for third. He's also 48 points behind Gordie Howe's 1,850 for No. 3 on the all-time list and 50 games shy of becoming the 10th player in league history with 1,600.
Jagr has seven goals and seven assists in his last 11 games against Philadelphia dating back to 2008. He has 45 goals and 71 assists in 93 games against the Flyers in his career.
"Jagr is one of the greatest athletes of all-time," Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said.
Florida did not have anyone among the league's top 45 goal scorers last season. Nick Bjugstad scored a team-high 24 and Brandon Pirri had 22 but only two assists. That duo as well as Huberdeau, who led the team with 45 points, and Barkov are all under 25 years old.
They'll try to solve Philadelphia goalie Steve Mason, whose 1.48 GAA in 10 games against Florida is his second-best against any opponent. He's 7-2-1 in those games with a .953 save percentage.
Mason had a career-best .928 save percentage in 51 games last season and made 29 saves in the opener but allowed three goals.
Philadelphia has lost 20 of its last 24 road games.
|Penguins||vs.||Coyotes||7:00 (EDT) Preview|
Saturday, October 10 at 2:46 AM (EDT)
Arizona Coyotes fans learned in the offseason that the team will be in the desert for at least two more seasons.
That means there will be two seasons in which they can enjoy watching Max Domi.
Domi enjoyed a successful NHL debut and will look to make the Coyotes' home opener Saturday night a successful one against a Pittsburgh Penguins team that was blanked in its opener.
In July, the Glendale City Council voted unanimously in favor of a restructured arena lease agreement with the Coyotes. The franchise will play at Gila River Arena for at least two more years, with Arizona getting a chance to work out a new long-term deal or explore other options like a new arena in downtown Phoenix.
Arizona had the NHL's third-worst attendance a season ago but will anticipate a big crowd Saturday to see Pittsburgh stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Those fans will also get their first look at Domi, the son of former NHL enforcer Tie Domi. Max Domi, the 12th overall draft pick in 2013, had a goal and an assist in Friday's 4-1 victory over Los Angeles.
''Everybody in our room expected him to play well. Max, he's been in the spotlight his whole life,'' coach Dave Tippett said. ''I'm so happy for him. He has waited for this game for a long time, and for him to play as well as he did, it was really nice to see. All our young guys played well.''
He's the first player in franchise history with multiple points in an NHL debut since current captain Shane Doan had two assists for the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 7, 1995. Domi was born in Winnipeg on March 2, 1995.
Doan is two points away from reaching 900 for his career.
Arizona won Friday despite being outshot 41-22. Mike Smith, who had the league's fourth-worst goals-against average a season ago at 3.16, made 40 saves.
It's unclear if Smith will start Saturday, and whoever the Coyotes use in goal will face a team hungry to score.
That's because Pittsburgh fell 3-0 on Thursday at Dallas despite enjoying a 37-24 advantage in shots, though Crosby finished without one. He had only three games last season without a shot.
The Penguins were 0 for 3 on the power play.
''We got to find ways to score goals whether it's the power play chipping in or finding ways in front,'' Crosby said. ''It wasn't lack of chances.''
Kris Letang had a team-high eight shots and Phil Kessel had six in his Pittsburgh debut. Penalties by Nick Bonino and Ian Cole led to goals for the Stars.
"Number one, we can't take those penalties and two, our penalty kill has to be better," coach Mike Johnston said.
The Penguins won both meetings last season with the Coyotes behind two goals and three assists from Crosby. Marc-Andre Fleury started Pittsburgh's 3-1 road victory March 21 and made 30 saves to improve to 4-3-0 with a 2.13 GAA in eight starts against the Coyotes.
Malkin has four goals and six assists during a five-game point streak versus Arizona.
Coyotes winger Steve Downie spent last season with the Penguins, leading the league with 238 penalty minutes.
|Red Wings||vs.||Hurricanes||7:00 (EDT) Preview|
Red Wings-Hurricanes Preview
By JORDAN GARRETSON - STATS Writer
Saturday, October 10 at 1:55 AM (EDT)
The Carolina Hurricanes hope they're not headed for another dreadful start after an uninspiring opener, though they've already been hit by a significant injury.
The Jeff Blashill era couldn't have started much better for the Detroit Red Wings ahead of Saturday night's visit to Carolina.
The Hurricanes fell behind 2-0 in the first period in a 2-1 loss Thursday at Nashville. Though they outshot the Predators 12-3 in the third period after giving up a 22-14 margin previously, Eric Staal was the only goal scorer with 1:40 left. Carolina failed to convert on three power plays, including two in the final period. The first goal it allowed came at the 2:23 mark on a power play.
"We had a little bit of adversity," coach Bill Peters said. "I thought we handled it well though, but all three penalties for us were in the O-zone. That can't be something we do. Get that cleaned up, and we will be fine."
The Hurricanes lost one of their biggest offseason acquisition less than a minute in, announcing Friday that James Wisniewski suffered a torn ACL and is expected to miss six months. Wisniewski, who came over in a trade from Anaheim, tied for third among defensemen in 2014-15 with seven power-play goals.
That puts perhaps more pressure on fellow defenseman and fifth overall pick Noah Hanifin, who blocked a shot and recorded a hit in 18:06 of ice time in his NHL debut.
Carolina also called up 24-year-old Danny Biega from AHL Charlotte in light of the injury. Biega had two assists while playing his first 10 career games last season.
"It's a great opportunity for all those young guys," Peters told the team's official website. "The old guys always had to step up. They're obviously going to have to play big, valuable minutes."
The Hurricanes, who are trying to avoid losing a fifth consecutive home opener, scored 15 goals while starting 0-6-2 last season. They host Florida on Tuesday before hitting the road for a season-high seven game trip, including visits to Detroit on Oct. 16 and 27.
The Red Wings come to town in good spirits after a 4-0 victory Friday in their first game under Blashill against visiting Toronto, led by former coach Mike Babcock.
Justin Abdelkader recorded a hat trick within the first 24 minutes, Detroit's first in a season opener since Brendan Shanahan in 2001. Highly touted center Dylan Larkin scored in his first career game while Henrik Zetterberg had three assists.
"A little extra special for us to get a win against Babs," Abdelkader said.
Jimmy Howard stopped 22 shots for his 21st career shutout, but Petr Mrazek will be between the pipes Saturday. Mrazek had three shutouts in 26 regular season starts in 2014-15, including one on 35 saves in a 2-0 win against Carolina on April 11. He recorded a 2.11 goals-against average in seven playoff games after beating Howard out as the club's postseason starter.
Detroit has enjoyed a sizable edge in the all-time series dating back to the time of the Hartford Whalers, going 28-11-0 with two ties while winning nine of the last 11 meetings.
Staal, who scored a team-high 23 goals last season, has never scored in 14 games against the Red Wings.
|Senators||vs.||Maple Leafs||7:00 (EDT) Preview|
Senators-Maple Leafs Preview
Saturday, October 10 at 12:18 AM (EDT)
It's been a frenzied atmosphere in Toronto the last few days, and the Ottawa Senators have enjoyed being a part of it.
They likely won't see anything resembling that Saturday night at Air Canada Centre.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have suffered consecutive losses under new coach Mike Babcock to begin the season, though they have won six straight at home over the Senators heading into this Atlantic Division matchup.
Ottawa got into town Friday in time to take in some baseball playoff action featuring the Toronto Blue Jays. Senators players and coaches were spotted wearing Blue Jays caps at Friday's practice.
"It's one of those rare opportunities where you're going to be in the middle of a city that's all fired up," coach Dave Cameron said. "I think most of these guys, if you probably go back, played some type of baseball, fast-pitch, whatever. I know that a lot of them are fans because I've heard them talk so it's nice to be in the middle of that."
Cameron's team opened with a 3-1 victory Thursday in Buffalo behind two goals from Kyle Turris that were both assisted by Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman.
The Senators are 0-3-3 in their last six games at Toronto, where the notoriously difficult-to-please Maple Leafs faithful figure to be in an angry mood Saturday.
The club's 37-30 advantage in shots wasn't good enough to prevent a 3-1 loss to Montreal in the home opener Wednesday. Two days later, Babcock - brought in on an eight-year, $50 million contract - had an unhappy return to Detroit as Toronto fell 4-0 against his former team.
''I don't think I was surprised at how good Detroit played or anything like that,'' Babcock said. ''I just think we have to be better.''
Babcock gave Jonathan Bernier his second straight start and the goalie made six saves on nine shots, with James Reimer replacing him and stopping 12 of 13.
James van Riemsdyk has the lone goal this season for Toronto, which traded Phil Kessel to Pittsburgh in July after the much-maligned forward led the Leafs with 61 points last season. The club added new forwards Brad Boyes, Nick Spaling, Shawn Matthias and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau.
''I think we're all sick of losing,'' Matthias said.
Another loss would give Toronto its worst start since it began a franchise-worst 0-7-1 in 2009-10.
Ottawa closed the 2014-15 regular season on a 6-0-1 run to avoid missing the playoffs for the second straight season. The lone blemish in that span was a 3-2 overtime loss at Toronto on April 5.
The Senators failed to get a power-play opportunity Thursday and were outshot 27-22. Craig Anderson made 26 saves and Curtis Lazar scored into an empty net.
"I don't think it was a perfect game from everyone but we didn't expect that either," captain Erik Karlsson said. "For the most part, we played good and then obviously there's a few things we're going to have to address moving forward but that's how it always is in the beginning of the season."
Anderson is 0-2-2 with a 3.63 goals-against average in his last four starts against Toronto after going 6-1-0 with a 2.06 mark in his first eight meetings.
|Stars||vs.||Avalanche||7:00 (EDT) Preview|
By KEVIN CHROUST - STATS Writer
Friday, October 9 at 3:44 PM (EDT)
The Dallas Stars have early evidence that investment in securing their defensive zone could pay off, and the Colorado Avalanche need immediate improvement in that area.
Dallas heads to Colorado on Saturday night seeking its first 2-0 start since 2010-11, while the Avalanche try to avoid their second straight at 0-2 with a seventh win over the Stars in as many tries.
The Stars finished sixth in the Central Division last season despite leading the Western Conference in goals. Granted, it was a division that produced seven teams with 90 points, but it happened because the Stars were tied for 26th with 3.13 goals against per game, their worst since a 3.41 mark in 1995-96.
They took offseason action by bringing in goaltender Antti Niemi on a three-year deal and signing defenseman Johnny Oduya for two years from Chicago.
Niemi, acquired in June from San Jose for a seventh-round draft pick, made 37 saves in Thursday's 3-0 home win over Pittsburgh.
"It's important for our team," coach Lindy Ruff told the club's official website after enduring a 2014-15 season in which his goaltenders had a 29th-ranked save percentage of .895. "We talked about our goals against and we are going to need a few more saves. We got both. We had guys blocking shots and desperation. I think the important part is he didn't give up any bad ones. He made some great saves, but nothing leaked through him. He looked really good."
Dallas also got an immediate contribution from Mattias Janmark, who scored in the first two minutes of his first NHL game after being acquired from Detroit in March.
"I couldn't have had a better start," Janmark said. "My first game, and to get that start, I never dreamed of that."
The next hurdle is some success against the Avalanche. Colorado has won nine of the last 10 meetings behind 3.70 goals per game.
That kind of production didn't matter in Thursday's 5-4 home loss to Minnesota. The Avalanche led 3-0 after the first period and 4-1 after two, then allowed the Wild to grab the lead with four goals by the 10:14 mark in the third. Goalie Semyon Varlamov took responsibility.
"When you score four goals, those games you should win," Varlamov told the team's official website. "There's a time when the goalie has to step up and stop those shots, it doesn't matter if they are tough ones or easy ones. I didn't play well tonight. Five goals ... I'm so (angry)."
Varlamov has won his last eight starts against Dallas with a 2.32 goals-against average and .932 save percentage.
The wasted offense came from John Mitchell, Gabriel Landeskog, Erik Johnson and Jarome Iginla, the last of which has goals in his last two games against the Stars. Landeskog has three goals and six assists on the six-game winning streak in the series.
The five-game sweep last season came with the Avalanche penalty kill that finished fifth at 84.6 percent limiting Dallas to 1 for 18. The Stars went 2 for 5 on the power play in their opener with Ales Hemsky joining Janmark in the scoring.
It was a start the veteran Hemsky needed after a disastrous first season in Dallas. The forward, signed in the 2014 offseason from Ottawa, had 11 goals and 21 assists in 76 games, marking the worst points-per-game mark of his career at 0.42.
Colorado scored on both of its power-play chances against the Wild after ranking 29th last season at 15.0 percent.
|Ducks||vs.||Sharks||7:30 (EDT) Preview|
Friday, October 9 at 9:27 PM (EDT)
The Anaheim Ducks finished tied for the Western Conference's most points a season ago and fell one game shy of playing for the Stanley Cup with a Game 7 home loss for the third straight year.
The Ducks have advanced a round further in each of the last three seasons and intend to take the next step.
Coach Bruce Boudreau's team is a trendy pick to win the Stanley Cup this season, which it begins with a tough assignment Saturday night against a San Jose Sharks team that has won seven straight at home in this series.
Anaheim lost in the first round to Detroit in 2012-13, to Los Angeles in the conference semifinals the next season and to eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago in the West finals a season ago. All ended with the Ducks blowing 3-2 series leads with a home defeat in the decisive game.
Last season, Anaheim blew through the first two rounds of the playoffs with an 8-1 mark and was on the verge of reaching the Stanley Cup Final before getting outscored 10-5 by the experienced Blackhawks in the final two games, including a 5-3 loss in Game 7.
''All it did was it made us want to work harder and get better,'' captain Ryan Getzlaf said. ''We know we've got to push for a Stanley Cup this year.''
The biggest change is the loss of the Ducks' leader in ice time, Francois Beauchemin, who joined Colorado as a free agent.
He was made expendable by the remarkable rise of defenseman Simon Despres, who was acquired March 2 from Pittsburgh and agreed to a five-year, $18.5 million contract extension Friday. Despres had six points in the Pacific Division champions' final 16 regular-season games.
''We've just touched the surface of his play,'' Boudreau said. ''He's big and strong, and he's still growing into his body. He was a very good offensive defenseman (who) turned into a good defensive defenseman, and now if you can (combine) both of those things, I think you've got something special.''
Getzlaf had a team-high 70 points a season ago while Corey Perry finished tied for 10th in the NHL with 33 goals.
Anaheim is 0-5-2 in its last seven visits to San Jose with four straight regulation defeats.
These teams are meeting for the first time since Sharks forward Raffi Torres received a 41-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of Anaheim's Jakob Silfverberg in last Saturday's preseason finale.
In a statement released by the team Thursday, Torres apologized to Silfverberg and the Sharks. Silfverberg has returned to practice.
The new-look Sharks seek to capture their home opener for the fifth straight season after starting 2015-16 with a 5-1 win at Los Angeles on Wednesday. Joe Pavelski had a goal and two assists and Martin Jones made 19 saves in his San Jose debut in the club's first game under coach Peter DeBoer.
''I think the game was the culmination of a month of hard work,'' DeBoer said.
San Jose found itself apologizing for another physical incident in which a check by Logan Couture on Milan Lucic sparked a scuffle.
''I just finished my check,'' Couture said. ''That's hockey, right? You're supposed to finish your checks. I didn't think there was players that you're not allowed to hit in this league.''
San Jose went 4-0-1 against Anaheim last season behind Pavelski's six goals. Pavelski, Couture, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau combined for 25 points in those games.
|Islanders||vs.||Blackhawks||7:30 (EDT) Preview|
By SCOTT GARBARINI - STATS Writer
Saturday, October 10 at 1:01 AM (EDT)
Patrick Kane wasn't fazed by the taunts as the Chicago Blackhawks spoiled the New York Islanders' Barclays Center coronation.
After scoring twice in his first road game while under investigation for an alleged sexual assault, Kane attempts to lead the defending Stanley Cup champions to another win over the Islanders as the teams complete a home-and-home series Saturday night at the United Center.
Kane's second goal, a power-play tally at 1:49 in overtime, lifted the Blackhawks to a 3-2 win on Friday in the Islanders' first game since their move from the outdated Nassau Coliseum to the palatial Brooklyn-based Barclays Center.
The star forward, playing through an ongoing inquiry of an August incident at his Buffalo-area home in which no charges have been filed, was met with boos and verbal chants on virtually every shift.
Artem Anisimov had a short-handed goal, his first since joining Chicago (1-1-0) in the blockbuster offseason trade that sent forward Brandon Saad to Columbus, and Duncan Keith added two assists as the Blackhawks rebounded from Wednesday's 3-2 home loss to the New York Rangers after raising the franchise's sixth championship banner.
''That was a big goal for us,'' Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. ''First time we had the (penalty) kill all year and we score short-handed. You score short-handed on the road you usually have a good night. It turned out to be a big factor in the game.''
The Blackhawks were part of another lavish pregame ceremony as the Islanders christened their new home after a 43-year stay at Nassau Coliseum. Franchise greats Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, Bob Nystrom and Billy Smith all took part in the puck drop and the team showed a video tribute to former coach Al Arbour, who guided the Islanders to four straight Stanley Cup titles from 1980-83 and passed away in August.
Captain John Tavares notched the Islanders' first goal at the venue and offseason acquisition Marek Zidlicky tied the game at 2-2 early in the third period.
"I think the atmosphere was great. Our fans were into it, behind us like they always are," Tavares told the NHL's official website. "Certainly they brought that tradition over from the Coliseum. There were some good things tonight, but I still think there is a lot better for us there."
Corey Crawford made 34 saves to improve to 4-0-1 against New York but is expected to give way to Scott Darling in Saturday's rematch. Darling went 9-4-0 with a 1.94 goals-against average in 14 regular-season games in 2014-15, then won three times in four starts during Chicago's championship run.
Thomas Greiss stopped 32 shots for the Islanders, coming off their first 100-point campaign since 1983-84 and a tie for second in the Metropolitan Division. He could start again Saturday with Jaroslav Halak dealing with an upper-body injury.
The Islanders have lost four straight at the United Center since a 4-2 decision on March 15, 2009, and are 3-13-1 with one tie in their last 18 visits to Chicago. Jonathan Toews had two goals and two assists and Crawford recorded 38 saves in the Blackhawks' 4-1 home win on March 17.
Darling had 38 saves in a 3-2 loss at Nassau Coliseum on Dec. 13.
|Friday, October 9, 2015|
|National Hockey League|
Jets spoil Hynes' debut as Devils coach, beat New Jersey 3-1
By TOM CANAVAN - AP Sports Writer
Friday, October 9 at 10:40 PM (EDT)
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) Throw out the first period against Boston and a couple of minutes against the New Jersey Devils and the Winnipeg Jets couldn't be happier with their start to the NHL season.
Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler each had a goal and an assist in a big second period and the Jets beat the New Jersey Devils 3-1 on Friday night to remain perfect and spoil John Hynes' NHL coaching debut.
''Obviously, getting on the road you want to put some wins together and have some fun,'' Ladd said. ''Our first game I don't think we liked our full effort. I thought we did a lot better job of bringing that tonight.''
Mark Scheifele also scored, Mathieu Perreault had two assists in the three-goal second period and Michael Hutchinson made 20 saves as the Jets' defensive play helped them win for the second time in two nights.
''We played great,'' said Hutchinson, who preserved the win with 10 third-period saves. ''We blocked a number of their really good scoring chances and our D did a great job of clearing the puck and limiting their rebounds.''
Jiri Tlusty scored for New Jersey in his debut. It was actually an own goal that Winnipeg defenseman Jacob Trouba fired into his own net trying to clear a puck in front.
''He had a blocked shot at the end that more than made up for it,'' Hutchinson said about Trouba's mistake.
Trouba knows he is going to take some grief from teammates.
''It hit Hutch's stick and I thought a D was coming back to us so I just tried to whack it,'' Trouba said. ''I don't know if it bounced or what, but right post and in. Right where I wanted to put it.''
Cory Schneider made 27 saves for New Jersey, which has missed the playoffs the past three seasons.
''All it takes is five minutes and the game gets away from you a little bit,'' Schneider said. ''We did a nice job not letting getting too far away.''
Hynes, who at 40 is the NHL's youngest coach, felt his team played well in spurt and put pressure on the Jets. There were also times he felt the Jets outworked them.
''The game was full of spurts and not enough good ones,'' he said.
Winnipeg, which beat Boston 6-2 on Thursday night, dominated after being outshot 3-0 in the opening minutes.
Scheifele, who got the Jets' first goal against the Bruins, got them started again with a shot from the left circle at 1:13. The puck seemed to fool Schneider and might have been deflected by Devils defenseman David Schlemko.
''I'm just happy they are going in,'' Scheifele said.
Less than 3 minutes later, Wheeler snapped a shot past Schneider from the dot in the same circle. The goal was waved off by one of the referees, but replay clearly showed it hitting the back of the net. Even Schneider knew it.
Tlusty cut the lead to a goal at 12:53, but Ladd beat Schneider from the right circle off a nice cross-ice pass by Perreault.
NOTES: The Devils named defenseman Andy Greene their captain Friday morning. He replaces Bryce Salvador, who retired. ... Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec got the night off after beating Boston. ... John Tortorella, who will coach Team USA at next year's World Cup, was at the game. ... F Kyle Palmieri made his Devils' debut, becoming the second New Jersey native to play for the team. ... Rookie Nikolaj Ehlers picked up his first NHL point with the primary assist on Scheifele's goal.
|Rangers||4||vs.||2||Blue Jackets||Final Recap|
Rangers score 3 late to rally to 4-2 win over Blue Jackets
By ROBERT DENHARD - Associated Press
Friday, October 9 at 11:27 PM (EDT)
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Goalie Henrik Lundqvist admitted his New York Rangers were in a tough hole when Columbus scored with just under four minutes left to take the lead. New York found its way out in a hurry.
Mats Zuccarello had two goals and the Rangers scored three times in 1:17 late in the third to rally to a 4-2 win over the Blue Jackets on Friday night.
Brandon Saad, the Blue Jackets' blockbuster acquisition in the offseason, scored on a power play at 16:10 to give Columbus a 2-1 lead in its season opener.
''I didn't have a good feeling after they scored that goal late in the game,'' said Lundqvist, who finished with 31 saves. ''They looked very confident the way they play, but we figured it out.''
After a Columbus turnover, Oscar Lindberg netted a low shot for his second goal in as many games to tie it at 2.
Just 17 seconds later, Kevin Hayes made it 3-2 with a shot from the right corner along the end line that found its way past Sergei Bobrovsky, who finished with 21 stops.
Zuccarello capped the scoring from the right circle a minute later.
''All of our guys are competitors,'' said Alain Vigneault, who earned his 100th win as the Rangers' coach. ''Even though we were down, it's about finding a way. I thought our guys did that well.''
The Rangers played another strong road game, coming off a 3-2 win in their season opener Wednesday over the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
Vigneault said the Rangers knew Columbus would come out being physical and energized in front of their home crowd.
''That's how Columbus plays. We talked about weathering the storm a little bit that first 10 minutes,'' he said.
Cam Atkinson also scored for the Blue Jackets, who are looking to avoid the slow starts that have put them in deep holes the past four seasons. Even a franchise-best 12-0-1 points streak to finish last season wasn't enough to get them into the playoffs.
Columbus had the Rangers where they wanted them but things unraveled in the defensive end.
''We played 57 1/2 minutes of the game,'' Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. ''Mistakes are going to happen. They are a good hockey team and are going to generate their opportunities.''
Zuccarello started the scoring late in a hard-hitting, fast-paced first period. Gregory Campbell couldn't reach a short pass from David Savard deep in the Columbus end. Zuccarello scooped up the loose puck near the crease and flipped a backhand shot past Bobrovsky.
Atkinson pulled Columbus even at the midpoint of the second period. He scored on a breakaway on a nifty move for his first goal on a long pass from Brandon Dubinsky from his knees.
NOTES: The teams play again Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. Alain Vigneault won his 100th game as the Rangers coach. ...Columbus C Alexander Wennberg left the game with an upper-body injury in the first period. ...Former Blue Jacket Rick Nash was booed every time he touched the puck. ...The Blue Jackets played their first regular season game with a captain since 2011. Nick Foligno was given the `C' in the offseason ...Rangers D Kevin Klein played in his 500th career game. ...Columbus is 6-7-2 all-time in season openers.
Kane scores in OT to lift Blackhawks past Islanders 3-2
By VIN A. CHERWOO - AP Sports Writer
Saturday, October 10 at 12:29 AM (EDT)
NEW YORK (AP) Two nights after the Chicago Blackhawks lost at home in their championship banner-raising season opener, Patrick Kane helped them spoil the New York Islanders' Brooklyn debut.
Kane scored on a power play at 1:49 of overtime to give the Blackhawks to a 3-2 victory over the Islanders on Friday night, giving the defending Stanley Cup champions their first win of the season.
With the Blackhawks awarded an extra skater after a slashing penalty on the Islanders' Nick Leddy during the 3-on-3 overtime, Kane sent the puck toward the middle of the net from the right side.
''That line was dangerous again, they got something going,'' Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said.
Kane is the subject of a sexual assault investigation in western New York. The All-Star winger hasn't been charged, and has said he expects to be exonerated.
Kane also scored in the second period, Artem Anisimov added a goal and Corey Crawford stopped 34 shots. Kane and Artem Anisimov also scored for the Blackhawks and Corey Crawford stopped 34 shots. Crawford improved to 4-0-1 in his career against the Islanders and helped Chicago bounce back from the opening loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday night.
John Tavares and Marek Zidlicky scored for the Islanders. Thomas Greiss, starting in place of the injured Jaroslav Halak, finished with 32 saves.
''It would have been nice obviously to get a win but I think we played well,'' New York winger Matt Martin said. ''Took a little bit to find our legs and get into it, but it's our first game as a full group, I mean we played a pretty hockey team there tonight who already had a game under their belts.''
With the Islanders trailing 2-1 after two periods, Zidlicky tied it at 1:18 of the third as he snapped a wrist shot from the left side inside the blue line past Crawford, who was being screened by Mikhail Grabovski. It drew a roaring ovation from the sellout crowd, followed by their usual chants of ''Yes! Yes! Yes!''
''Good crowd, still a loud building, so it was fun,'' Islanders center Frans Nielsen said of the team's first game at the Barclays Center, their new home after spending their first 43 years at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.
Grabovski had a chance on a 2-on-1 break later in the period, but had his wrist shot stopped by Crawford a little more than 8 minutes in.
Teuvo Teravainen had shot go off the goalpost with about 6 minutes to go for Chicago, and Tavares had a slap shot that deflected wide of the net with about 15 seconds left in regulation.
The Blackhawks went ahead late in the second. Jonathan Toews fought off a defender behind the net and backhanded the puck to Kane, who snapped it home from the right side for his first goal of the season with 4:49 remaining.
Tavares had tied it at 5:22 of the second with the Islanders' first goal in Brooklyn. Johnny Boychuk was in the right corner and passed it back to Tavares at the side of the net, and the Islanders' captain skated toward the middle, had his initial shot deflect back to him and he then put the rebound past Crawford.
After the Blackhawks were whistled for having too many men, Anisimov gave them the lead with 6:32 left in the first. After a turnover by Brock Nelson, Anisimov skated down the center of the ice, moved to the right and backhanded the puck past Greiss for a short-handed score.
''That was a big goal for us,'' Quenneville said. ''First time we had the (penalty) kill all year and we score short-handed. You score short-handed on the road you usually have a good night. It turned out to be a big factor in the game.''
The Islanders received a rousing ovation when they skated onto the ice, gathered in a circle around the team logo on center ice and raised their sticks.
After that there was a video tribute to honor Al Arbour, their former coach who died in August at the age of 82. Arbour was 740-537-223 in 19 seasons with the Isles and led them to four consecutive Stanley Cup titles from 1980-83. The Islanders are honoring Arbour by wearing a patch that says `AL' on the left shoulder of their jerseys.
The teams conclude their home-and-home series Saturday night in Chicago.
NOTES: ... Tavares has now scored a goal against every NHL team except for Los Angeles. ... In addition to Halak, out with an undisclosed upper body injury, F Steve Bernier and rookie D Ryan Pulock were scratches for the Islanders. ... D David Runblad and RW Kyle Baun sat out for the Blackhawks. .... Alexa Ray Joel, daughter of Long Island native and music legend Billy Joel and supermodel Christie Brinkley, performed the national anthem before the game. ... Islanders greats Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, Bob Nystrom and Billy Smith took part in the ceremonial puck drop.
Max Domi scores in NHL debut, Coyotes beat Kings 4-1
By DAN GREENSPAN - Associated Press
Saturday, October 10 at 2:19 AM (EDT)
LOS ANGELES (AP) Max Domi just about did it all in his NHL debut, except collecting the puck from his first goal. Lucky for him, Steve Downie was there to pick up the touted rookie.
Domi had a goal and an assist to help the Arizona Coyotes beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 on Friday night.
Mike Smith made 40 saves for the Coyotes in their opener after a tumultuous summer that featured a contentious battle over the terms of their arena lease.
Zbynek Michalek, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Tobias Rieder also scored for Arizona, which showed signs of a bright future after missing the playoffs for three straight seasons.
No one shined brighter than Domi, the son of former NHL enforcer Tie Domi. With his family in attendance, he scored 4:43 into the second period when the Coyotes capitalized on a weak attempt to clear the puck by Kings rookie Jordan Weal. Downie caused Weal's indecision by bodying up on the young center. Connor Murphy held the puck in at the blue line, and Domi grabbed it and launched a blistering shot past Jonathan Quick to make it 3-0.
''Everybody in our room expected him to play well. Max, he's been in the spotlight his whole life,'' Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. ''I'm so happy for him. He has waited for this game for a long time, and for him to play as well as he did, it was really nice to see. All our young guys played well.''
Domi, the 12th overall draft pick in 2013, had an assist on Ekman-Larsson's goal.
Domi became the first player to score multiple points in his debut with the Coyotes franchise since current captain Shane Doan had two assists for the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 7, 1995, according to Stats LLC.
''The kid is a special kid,'' Smith said. ''To do what he did in his first game, he didn't really look out of place at all. He proved he can play in this league and he'll get better as the season goes on.''
Tyler Toffoli scored for Los Angeles, which allowed nine straight goals after scoring on the first shot of their season. The Kings lost their opener 5-1 to San Jose on Wednesday night, and again did little to indicate they were ready to return to the postseason and push for a third Stanley Cup title in five seasons.
''If you feel better about losing, we played better tonight than the last game,'' Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. ''We probably deserved a little better fate.''
Toffoli followed up Jeff Carter's short-handed breakaway miss and put it in the net with 57 seconds left in the second period.
Before Toffoli's goal, the Staples Center fans did not hide their displeasure, booing and jeering Quick when he touched the puck long before Rieder make it 4-0. Quick finished with 18 saves.
''He didn't play very well tonight, did he?'' Sutter said of Quick's performance.
Michalek scored exactly 2 minutes into the game, his shot deflecting off Nick Shore's stick and fluttering in.
''They had a couple of goals that I think were off our players, but like I said, good teams get to create their own bounces. We had a lot of good chances in around the net, but I don't think they generated a whole lot on their own,'' Kings captain Dustin Brown said.
While the Kings dominated long stretches of the first period, the Coyotes doubled their advantage when Ekman-Larsson scored on a one-timer from between the circles with 48 seconds remaining, with Martin Hanzal picking up the first of his two assists.
After the game, Domi snapped a quick photo with the puck and said he planned to give the memento to his mom.
NOTES: The Coyotes will play their first home game Saturday night against Pittsburgh before returning to Southern California to face Anaheim on Wednesday night. ... Weal made his NHL debut, playing 7:38. He was the most valuable player of the AHL playoffs last season, scoring 10 goals and adding 12 assists.
|Maple Leafs||0||vs.||4||Red Wings||Final Recap|
Abdelkader has hat trick, Red Wings beat Leafs, Babcock 4-0
By LARRY LAGE - AP Hockey Writer
Friday, October 9 at 11:35 PM (EDT)
DETROIT (AP) Mike Babcock bowed his head and rubbed his brow after seeing a fourth puck go in his team's net.
There wasn't much else the Toronto coach could do while watching his former team rout the franchise he's trying to revive.
Justin Abdelkader had a hat trick and Dylan Larkin scored in his NHL debut, helping the Detroit Red Wings beat the Babcock-led Maple Leafs 4-0 on Friday night.
''A little extra special for us to get a win against Babs,'' Abdelkader acknowledged.
Jimmy Howard stopped 22 shots for his 21st career shutout for the Red Wings, who won their season-opening game and dropped Toronto to 0-2.
''I don't think I was surprised at how good Detroit played or anything like that,'' Babcock said quietly after the game. ''I just think we have to be better.''
The Maple Leafs lured Babcock away from Detroit with an eight-year, $50 million contract that more than doubled what any other coach is making is making per season in the league.
Abdelkader scored on Detroit's first shot, making the most of a power play 1:15 into the game. He had another goal midway through the first period off a centering pass from Larkin.
Just 20 seconds into the second period, Larkin lifted a shot from the bottom of the left circle over goalie Jonathan Bernier and pumped his right fist while celebrating the moment in front of 20,000-plus fans at Joe Louis Arena.
''It's an incredible feeling just to see it go in and see the Joe go pretty crazy,'' said Larkin, who is from suburban Detroit and played one season at Michigan.
Abdelkader became the first Red Wings player to score three times in an opener since Brendan Shanahan did it in 2001, according to STATS, and joined Adam Brown (1945) as the only players who had a hat trick in a season- and home-opening game.
Larkin, a 2014 first-round pick, drew two defenders as he skated down the middle of the ice and Abdelkader took advantage of the space to score his third goal 3:54 into the second period.
NHL rookies Edmonton's Connor McDavid and Buffalo's Jack Eichel have generated a lot of buzz, but Babcock said more people should be talking about the 19-year-old Larkin.
''He obviously gives them speed and he competes on every shift,'' Babcock said.
Bernier was pulled after allowing Larkin's goal. He gave up three goals on nine shots. James Reimer stopped 12 of the 13 shots he faced in relief.
During a break in the game when Detroit was up 2-0, Babcock and his accomplishments with the Red Wings - a Stanley Cup and 525 wins - were shown on the videoboards and the crowd gave him a standing ovation. Babcock acknowledged the cheers by raising his hands a few times.
''It was nice of them to do,'' Babcock said. ''I wish they wouldn't have to do that. I don't coach their team anymore. I'm glad this is all over with.''
The Maple Leafs are paying Babcock an unprecedented amount of money to turn around their once-proud franchise. Toronto, which hasn't hoisted the Stanley Cup since 1967, was among the NHL's worst teams last season and has made the playoffs only once since 2004.
''I think we're all sick of losing,'' center Shawn Matthias said.
The Red Wings are the only team that has earned a spot in the playoffs every year since the league emerged from a lockout in 2005 - a run that coincided with Babcock's decade in Detroit - and are aiming to be in a 25th straight postseason.
With a mix of veterans and young skaters, such as Larkin, along with a pair of goalies, Detroit seems set up to be relatively successful again this season under first-year coach and Michigan native Jeff Blashill, who was promoted from the American Hockey League's Grand Rapids Griffins.
''It's pretty neat to have an opportunity to be the head coach of the team you grew up cheering for so I took a moment to certainly enjoy that,'' he said.
NOTES: Toronto opened the season Wednesday night with a 3-1 loss at home to Montreal. ... Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said as of Friday night, 36-year-old forward Dan Cleary has refused to report to Grand Rapids after being assigned to the minors.