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Today is Sunday, September 24, 2017.

Sunday, September 24, 2017
Major League Baseball
Angels vs. Astros 8:08 (EDT) Preview

Angels look to get much-needed win vs. Astros

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Saturday, September 23 at 6:27 PM (EDT)

HOUSTON -- When the Los Angeles Angels bolstered their lineup with the additions of left fielder Justin Upton and second baseman Brandon Phillips at the waiver trade deadline, the acquisitions were deemed impactful enough that the club could present itself as postseason contenders.

Instead, the Angels (76-78) have regressed during the stretch run, and head into Sunday's series finale against the Houston Astros on a six-game losing streak.

With Saturday's 6-2 loss, the Angels fell to 7-13 in September. They have managed only two runs over the last three games and, despite tweaks to the starting lineup and Upton doing his part to help carry the offense with six home runs and 12 RBIs in 20 games, the Angels are spinning their wheels losing ground in the chase for the second American League wild card and postseason contention.

With eight games left on the schedule the Angels are four games behind the Minnesota Twins and just about out of time. A loss to the on Sunday would result in a second consecutive sweep and all but certain elimination.

"We can't go 2-0 tomorrow. We've got one game," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We've got to slice it down pitch to pitch with that focus. Certainly, there's some moves you're going to make from a tactical standpoint, maybe a pitcher is not pitching now as deep in games as he may have in April or May. You're certainly going to match up more in your bullpen. So, those are things that we've been doing for the last month."

The Angels will turn to left-hander Tyler Skaggs (2-6, 4.30 ERA) to help keep their postseason hopes afloat. In six career starts against the Astros (95-59), Skaggs is 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA including two starts against Houston this season where he is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA over 12 innings.

Skaggs missed 85 games on the disabled list with a right oblique muscle strain.

All-Star right-hander Lance McCullers (7-3, 3.97 ERA) will make just his second start for the Astros since July 30 in the series finale.

McCullers has battled a number of ailments this season, first serving two stints on the disabled list with back woes before being sidelined since his last start on Sept. 6 with arm fatigue. McCullers, 0-1 with an 8.24 ERA over four starts in the second half, is 3-1 with a 1.55 ERA over eight career starts against the Angels.

With outfielder Jake Marisnick lost for the season with a broken right thumb, the Astros have been working with center fielder Cameron Maybin to tweak his swing mechanics. Maybin, acquired at the same deadline as Upton and Phillips, opened his Astros' career with a flourish, belting three home runs and producing seven RBIs over his first six games with the ball club.

Maybin has slumped badly since.

After going 0-for-4 on Saturday, Maybin is batting .037 (1-for-27) with one RBI and six strikeouts and no walks over nine games (six starts).

"Lately he's gotten a little bit mechanical and caught in between with some of his hitting mechanics," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Getting him some regular at-bats will be nice for him because he's just one click away from getting back to being productive. I like what I've seen from him even though he's had a tough week."

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Twins vs. Tigers 12:10 (EDT) Preview

Twins try to inch closer to playoff berth versus Tigers

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Sunday, September 24 at 3:38 AM (EDT)

DETROIT -- The Minnesota Twins not only pass the eye test, they pass the 'D' test.

Good defense has been a Minnesota trademark this season as the Twins scramble to keep ahead of the pack in the run to the second American League wild-card spot.

"They have tried to find ways to be able to measure those things a little bit more specifically," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said Saturday before his Twins rallied for eight runs in the eighth inning to post a 10-4 victory over Detroit. "I still think that the eye test sometime is the best test.

"I mean the numbers usually just support what you kind of already know by watching. I've been really pleased that the guys have taken a lot of pride in that side of the game."

Byron Buxton in center and two telephone poles would constitute a good outfield defense, Joe Mauer is among the elite at first, Brian Dozier is reliable at second, Jorge Polanco is steady at short and Eduardo Escobar has been sterling at third since Miguel Sango was injured in mid-August.

"I think coming off of last year and having to listen to me talk about defense in spring training probably more than a couple of times (might be responsible)," Molitor said. "And the effort that they've put in to try to make themselves a better club in terms of that aspect of the game.

"And it's paid dividends. I think it not only shows up on the outs that we have and our ability to get off the field but I think it gives more confidence to your pitching staff when they know that if they throw it over (the plate) the guys are going to make plays."

Right-hander Jose Berrios (12-8 3.94 ERA) will start Sunday for the Twins and his improvement from last year to this is one of the reasons Minnesota holds the second wild-card spot by 4 1/2 games over Kansas City, Texas and the Los Angeles Angels. He lost his last start, in New York.

Berrios started once this season against Detroit without receiving a decision and over his two seasons in the majors is 0-1 in three starts with an 18.00 ERA against the Tigers.

Detroit counters with right-hander Buck Farmer (4-4, 7.11 ERA), who is making his 10th start of 2017 and a late-season audition for a spot in next year's rotation.

Farmer has made only one start amid five career appearances against the Twins in his career and is 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA in that time. He also lost his last start.

Manager Brad Ausmus isn't into big goodbyes and won't speak to his team about leaving until the last game of the season, in Minnesota.

"I'm not going to plan anything out," he said. "I'll just speak to them from the heart.

"Why finish out the season? I'm under contract for 2017 and my job is to manage the Tigers. And I'm going to do that until I finish the season.

"It's going to be a little bit of a haul for the first couple years. But they're moving in the right direction and I wish Al (GM Avila) and the Tigers nothing but the best."

Ausmus reiterated he knew when Detroit traded Justin Upton and Justin Verlander on Aug. 31 that he was going to finish out the season and his contract and then leave. He called his wife and told her he felt it would be best to let the Tigers bring in another manager to guide the rebuild.

His last home game as Detroit's manager is Sunday.

"I mean, we've had good crowds," he said, "despite the fact that we haven't been playing winning baseball. Quite frankly, I'd like to just win."

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Yankees vs. Blue Jays 1:07 (EDT) Preview

Yankees look to keep foot on pedal versus Blue Jays

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Sunday, September 24 at 2:27 AM (EDT)

TORONTO -- The New York Yankees have clinched an American League wild-card spot.

Do no expect them to be taking it easy when they complete their three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday at the Rogers Centre.

They still have a faint chance of winning the American League East although they trail the first-place Boston Red Sox by four games.

"The first goal is obviously to win the division," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The next goal is to make sure, if you don't win the division, is that you have home-field advantage (for the wild-card game). I think it's important that we keep our foot on the gas. Our fate may not be determined till the last weekend."

The Yankees clinched a wild-card spot with a 5-1 victory Saturday after losing to the Blue Jays 8-1 on Friday. Their magic number to clinch at least homefield in the wild-card game is three as they lead Minnesota by 5 1/2 games.

New York left-hander Jaime Garcia (5-9, 4.19 ERA) opposes Toronto righty Marcus Stroman (12-8, 3.01) on Sunday. It is the final home game of the season for the Blue Jays.

The Yankees (86-68) were not expected to do as well as they have this season, while the Blue Jays (72-83), who played in the past two American League Championship Series, were not expected to be last in the AL East as they are now.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons is impressed with the Yankees.

"They're young and talented," Gibbons said after the game Saturday. "They've got a lot of pop in their lineup. They've got some good pieces to go along with it. Some speed with (Jacoby) Ellsbury and (Brett) Gardner. They've got some good starting pitching and arguably one of the best bullpens, if not the best. They can be as tough as anybody."

The Yankees are on a 16-6 roll that started Aug. 31.

"It's a great accomplishment," Girardi said. "We learned a lot about our young players, our veteran players. To see the kids kind of grow up in front of you, it's special.

"We're still playing for the division. Obviously, I have to be smart. I can't run guys out there 10 days in a row. That doesn't make sense because I think it becomes counterproductive.

"We're going to do what we can to win these games and see where we're at. If we do get eliminated from the division then you start to think a little differently."

The Yankees are 18 games above. 500, which matches a season high.

"We're a lot better than a lot of people thought we were," Yankees infielder Chase Headley said. "This is my second postseason in 11 years so I'm enjoying it. Obviously, we have more work to be done but any time you have a chance to play in the postseason, you can't take it for granted. A lot of guys play a long time and don't have this chance."

The Blue Jays are finishing up a disappointing season and right fielder Jose Bautista could be playing his final home game with the team. It is unlikely that the club will pick up the $17-million option for 2018.

"A lot of us, as usual, played through a lot of things, physically and mentally," Bautista said. "We tried our best. We just couldn't get consistent enough, we didn't get the results we wanted. I'm sure if you go down this room, individually and collectively, everybody's going to have sort of the same feeling about the season even though there were more than a few guys here who have had terrific seasons. And that shouldn't be put on the back burner. ...

"A month ago, a month and a half ago, we were still in the ball game. Even two weeks ago we were still with high hopes and high possibilities. It just didn't happen for us."

One of the Blue Jays to have a good season is Stroman, who reached a career best Tuesday with his 12th win of the season.

He defeated the Kansas City Royals for his first win since Aug. 16, a span of five winless starts (0-2) when he allowed one run, four hits and two walks with five strikeouts in seven innings. In his past six starts, he is 1-2 with a 2.91 ERA. He is 0-1, 5.79, in three starts against the Yankees this season and is 5-3, 2.97 in 11 career starts against them.

Garcia will make his eighth start as a Yankee Sunday.

The Yankees are his third team this season. He is 5-9 with a 4.19 ERA in 26 starts combined with the Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins and the Yankees.

The 31-year-old allowed one unearned run in a no-decision Monday against the Twins. He allowed four hits, no walks and struck out nine. He was acquired from the Twins in a trade July 29 after he made one start for them. The Twins acquired him in a trade with the Braves on July 24. He is 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA with the Yankees.

Garcia is 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA in four career starts against the Blue Jays. He allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings in his only start against Toronto this season, receiving a no-decision May 16 when he was with Atlanta.

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Nationals vs. Mets 1:10 (EDT) Preview

Scherzer, deGrom to duel in Nationals-Mets matchup

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Sunday, September 24 at 3:26 AM (EDT)

NEW YORK -- Two of the National League's best pitchers will square off Sunday afternoon when the New York Mets host the Washington Nationals in the finale of a three-game series at Citi Field.

If all goes according to plan for Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom, Sunday will also be the game in which he takes another step closer toward matching the ace standards set by Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer.

DeGrom (15-9, 3.55 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Scherzer (15-6, 2.59) in a rare matchup of true No. 1 pitchers. Both teams will be looking for a series win after the Nationals snapped a two-game losing streak Saturday night with a 4-3, 10-inning victory.

Scherzer (253) and deGrom (228) entered Saturday ranked 1-2 in the NL in strikeouts and were in the top 10 in wins, ERA and innings pitched.

"They're two of the best in the game," Mets manager Terry Collins said of deGrom and Scherzer. "If you're a baseball fan, those are games you want to see. And I'm going to get to see it, so I'm excited about it."

Scherzer continued to cement himself as one of the best pitchers of his era in his most recent start on Tuesday, when he not only picked up the win by allowing two runs in seven innings in the Nationals' 4-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves but also struck out seven to reach 250 strikeouts for the fourth straight season.

Scherzer is the fourth pitcher with 250 strikeouts in four straight seasons. His predecessors? Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez.

"You have to be durable to accomplish that," Scherzer told reporters afterward. "I have been durable and going out there, making 30-plus starts every year. That is how you achieve something like that."

When Scherzer takes the mound Sunday, he will reach 30 starts for the ninth straight season - a streak exceeded only by Chicago Cubs left-hander Jon Lester, who has made at least 30 starts in 10 straight seasons.

Scherzer is 8 2/3 innings shy of reaching 200 innings for the fifth straight year. DeGrom reached 30 starts for the second time in his most recent outing Sept. 16, when he picked up the win after allowing one run in seven innings in the Mets' 7-3 win over the Braves, is 4 2/3 innings away from reaching 200 for the first time.

DeGrom has had his eye on 200 innings since spring training.

"That's a big thing," deGrom said following a win over the Miami Marlins on Aug 20. "That was kind of a goal coming into the year."

DeGrom was initially scheduled to start Friday's series opener but was pushed back two days due to a stomach illness. He is 5-3 with a 2.75 ERA in 11 career starts against the Nationals. Scherzer is 7-4 with a 2.27 ERA in 14 career appearances (13 starts) against the Mets, whom he no-hit on Oct. 3, 2015.

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Red Sox vs. Reds 1:10 (EDT) Preview

Red Sox's Fister looks for better start against Reds

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Saturday, September 23 at 8:35 PM (EDT)

CINCINNATI -- Boston Red Sox right-hander Doug Fister adjusted his pregame schedule in an effort to improve his first-inning command. He's scheduled to make his 13th start of the season on Sunday afternoon when the Red Sox wrap up a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.

Boston's magic number to clinch the American League East title now is five. The Red Sox (90-64) lead the second-place New York Yankees by four games in the division standings after the Yankees won on Saturday at Toronto.

In the first inning this season, Fister owns a 9.69 ERA with three home runs, seven doubles, and a triple allowed this season. By the fourth inning, Fister's ERA plummets to 0.77.

"That's the biggest issue for him, just to come out and command the baseball a little more regularly," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "To me, the biggest key for him is the first out of every inning.

"When he records the first out of each inning, that's when he's in a much better position to put up a zero. Because he is a contact pitcher, first out is key for him."

Fister is 2-2 with a 5.00 ERA and 15 earned runs allowed in 27 innings in his past five starts. Most of that damage has been done in the first and second innings. He has allowed 11 earned runs in his past two starts, five in the first.

"There was an adjustment, getting the warmups started pregame closer to game time," Farrell said. "Every guy has their own routine. He had one, he would finish prior to the start of the game earlier than most. Just thought maybe that had something to do with re-establishing a release point and repeating the delivery. So we've shortened that up. The first inning has been somewhat of a challenge for him."

Fister is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in three career starts against the Reds. Fister owns a career 2.97 ERA in interleague games. He issued a season-high five walks in his last start at Baltimore.

"His start in Baltimore was uncharacteristic in terms of the number of walks issued," Farrell said. "He's a guy who's going to throw the ball over the plate and have good command. He's a contact pitcher."

Cincinnati (66-89) will send rookie right-hander Jackson Stephens to the mound on Sunday for his third career start. Stephens is 1-0 as a starter with an 8.31 ERA and eight earned runs and four home runs in 8 2/3 innings.

The Red Sox hope to have right fielder Mookie Betts back in the lineup on Sunday. He was scratched from his Saturday start with a left foot contusion. He fouled a pitch off the top of his foot in his second at-bat on Friday.

Boston leads the all-time series 11-1. The Red Sox have swept three of the four series played between the clubs.

The Reds and Red Sox haven't played each other since 2014. The most memorable meeting, of course, was in the 1975 World Series, won by Cincinnati in seven games. It's regarded by many to be the most exciting Fall Classic ever played.

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Cardinals vs. Pirates 1:35 (EDT) Preview

Cardinals turn to Gant in series finale versus Pirates

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Sunday, September 24 at 2:57 AM (EDT)

PITTSBURGH -- St. Louis, clawing to get into the playoffs and trying to improve to 6-1-1 in its most recent eight series, will turn to John Gant on Sunday.

Gant, a sinkerballer, will be making his first start as a Cardinal player and first in the majors this season when St. Louis (81-73) plays the rubber match of a three-game series against also-ran Pittsburgh (70-85) at PNC Park.

The Pirates did a little spoiling Saturday night with an 11-6 victory, breaking the Cardinals' four-game winning streak and leaving them a half-game behind second-place Milwaukee and five behind the first-place Chicago Cubs in the National League Central.

The Cardinals are 1 1/2 games behind Colorado for the final NL wild-card spot.

Sunday will be St. Louis' last road game of the regular season.

Gant (0-0, 3.86 ERA) earned the promotion to this start -- with Jack Flaherty going to the bullpen -- after three solid relief appearances.

"I'm just going to go make the start and do my best," Gant told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I'm not approaching it any different kind of way. I'm just going to go play baseball.

"I feel pretty loose. I feel comfortable going the distance -- whatever that may be."

Wednesday at Cincinnati, he pitched two scoreless innings in his most recent relief appearance.

"The ball's coming out good and I've been making some good pitches," the 25-year-old told the Post-Dispatch.

"It's nice being here in the playoff push, but it's still just baseball," he said. "I'm here to take some pressure off some of the other guys by picking up some innings and to do whatever I'm asked to do. I want to contribute any way I can to help this team win and to find a way into the playoffs."

Gant broke into the majors with Atlanta last season before being acquired by the Cardinals in the offseason for left-hander Jaime Garcia. He was recalled from Triple-A Memphis as part of the general roster expansion Sept. 1. His last start was Aug. 27 for Memphis, when he allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings.

Against the Pirates, Gant is 0-0 with a 3.86 ERA in two career relief appearances.

Gant will square off against Pittsburgh right-hander and fellow 25-year-old Jameson Taillon (7-7, 4.73 ERA). Taillon has had an up-and-down season and it seemed to be showing the later in the season it got.

He is 2-5 with a 6.86 ERA since the All-Star break and hasn't had a win since Aug. 11 at Toronto.

Then, earlier this month, he had his turn in the lineup skipped. That gave him a boost, even if the results weren't great immediately.

In his first start after the 10-day layoff, Taillon allowed two runs in five-plus innings with six hits, one walk and four strikeouts.

"I actually thought I did pretty well, definitely an encouraging step in the right direction, which is what I'm looking for at the end of the year," Taillon said.

"The season's coming to a close. I'm just looking to trend in the right direction."

Taillon is 0-1 with a 5.14 ERA in four career starts against St. Louis.

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Phillies vs. Braves 1:35 (EDT) Preview

Braves bid to sweep Phillies in final home game

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Sunday, September 24 at 1:49 AM (EDT)

ATLANTA -- Two highly regarded rookies will close out the first season at SunTrust Park on Sunday.

Philadelphia will send right-hander Nick Pivetta (6-10, 6.57 ERA) to the mound against Atlanta left-hander Luiz Gohara (1-2, 6.00) in the finale of a three-game series. It will be Atlanta's final home game this year at SunTrust, where they have posted a 37-43 mark.

Atlanta has won the first two games of the series. The Braves have won four straight contests against the Phillies after winning only two of their first 14 meetings. Atlanta's last three-game sweep over Philadelphia came in September 2016.

Pivetta will make his 25th start of the season. The rookie was promoted in late April has been a steady contributor since joining the rotation. Pivetta was acquired by the team in a 2015 trade with Washington that sent reliever Jonathan Papelbon to the Nationals.

Pivetta won his last start on Sept. 18, posting a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Pivetta allowed two runs on four hits and struck out eight in six innings against the Dodgers.

Pivetta is trying to ensure his place in the Philadelphia rotation for 2018. He struggled mightily during five August starts when he was 1-3 with an 11.57 ERA. He's been better in four September starts, going 1-1 with a 6.55 ERA.

"He needs to understand how to continue to carry that through five, six, seven or even eight innings," Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin said. "That's when you get to be a real solid starter. He's a young pitcher. It's his first year in the big leagues. He's going to get it. He's going to be good."

Consistency is the problem with Pivetta, who average 9.52 strikeouts per nine innings. He's had double-digit strikeouts twice, including a career-high 11 against the Padres on Aug. 16.

Pivetta has made two starts against Atlanta this season. He's 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA and beat the Braves on July 31 when he allowed one run in six innings.

Gohara has less major league experience as he will be making his fourth start and is trying to put himself in consideration for inclusion in the 2018 starting rotation. Gohara was acquired from Seattle, which was growing impatient with the beefy 6-foot-3, 230-pound prospect.

Gohara, 21, has breezed through the club's minor league system. He began in Single-A and was pitching with Triple-A Gwinnett before being called up on Sept 4. He was 7-4 with a 2.62 ERA in 26 minor league appearances with three clubs in 2017.

Since being thrust into the starting rotation, Gohara has faced some good hitters. He made his debut against the Rangers and has two starts against Washington. His best game came on Sept. 13 when he outpitched Washington's Max Scherzer and allowed one run in six innings.

"He battles," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. "He's a strike thrower. He gets the ball over the plate. I thought he was a little sharper the other day in Washington, but he's still pretty good."

It could be the final home game for Snitker, who is nearing the end of a one-year contract to manage the team. Snitker, who has spent 40 years with the Braves organization, said he would like to return.

The Braves finish the season with four games in New York and four in Miami. Philadelphia returns home for three-game series against Washington and the New York Mets.

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Rays vs. Orioles 1:35 (EDT) Preview

Rays aim to keep flickering playoff hopes alive vs. Orioles

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Sunday, September 24 at 2:21 AM (EDT)

BALTIMORE -- Seeking to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Tampa Bay Rays will look for their third straight win over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday at Camden Yards.

After dropping the series opener Thursday night, the Rays (76-79) have taken the last two in this four-game weekend series behind their big bats and starting pitching.

Lucas Duda and Logan Morrison each went deep in Saturday's 9-6 win over the Orioles, as the Rays set a single-season franchise record for home runs. They now have 218 this season.

"It's cool," said Morrison, who clubbed his 37th of the season on the first pitch of the ninth inning Saturday night. "We've had some guys set some career highs. That's one aspect of the game where we have done pretty well this year."

Starting pitchers Alex Cobb and Jake Odorizzi, meanwhile, turned in solid outings back-to-back to keep Tampa Bay five games behind the Minnesota Twins for the second American League wild-card spot.

Odorizzi struck out a season-high nine batters and only allowed three hits over six innings in Saturday's win.

The Orioles (74-82) were eliminated from postseason contention with Saturday's loss, their 14th in their last 17 games.

"It's unfortunate, but like I said, we're not going to stop playing hard," said left fielder Trey Mancini, who is riding a career-long hitting streak of 13 games. "It's a 162-game season. It is tough to be eliminated from postseason contention, but still got a week of baseball left."

For Sunday's series finale, the Rays will send Chris Archer to the mound.

Archer is looking for his first win since Aug. 22. He has lost each of his last four starts after experiencing discomfort in his right forearm.

Rays manager Kevin Cash dismissed the idea that the injury is lingering and affecting Archer's performance. In his most recent start Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs, Archer gave the Rays six solid innings, allowing two earned runs on four hits and striking out six.

"We would not be pitching him if there was any concern," Cash said. "He's 100 percent healthy, very strong. You can see that by the stuff he is featuring every fifth day."

Archer will be making his 33rd start of the season. He is 9-11 with a 4.02 ERA in 192 1/3 innings pitched.

"I think Arch has had a good year," Cash said. "You look at just the body of work, the innings that he's provided, the opportunities he's gone out there with and given us a chance to win, I think he's had a solid year. I'd like to see him finish strong."

In 15 prior starts against the Orioles, Archer is 4-7 with a 4.78 ERA. He is 1-4 all-time at Camden Yards.

This season, Archer is 1-1 against the Orioles with a 6.39 ERA. He won his last start against them June 23 in Tampa Bay, allowing five earned runs on seven hits over six innings. Archer also lost to the Orioles at Camden Yards on April 24.

The Orioles will counter with their best starting pitcher this season, Dylan Bundy.

Having already logged a career high for innings pitched, Bundy will make his 29th start of the season Sunday.

Bundy has not won since Aug. 29. In his last start, he was hammered by the Boston Red Sox for six earned runs on seven hits before earning a no-decision last Monday.

Overall, Bundy has thrown 169 2/3 innings this season. That's 60 more than he threw last season. He is 13-9 with a 4.24 ERA.

This will be the fourth start Bundy has made against the Rays this season. He is 1-1 with a 5.19 ERA over the previous three. After earning a no-decision against Tampa Bay on April 16 at Camden Yards, Bundy beat the Rays on June 24 in Tampa and lost to them July 1 at home.

In six career starts against Tampa Bay, Bundy is 1-2 with a 6.26 ERA.

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Cubs vs. Brewers 2:10 (EDT) Preview

Cubs, Brewers meet in key series finale

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Sunday, September 24 at 2:14 AM (EDT)

MILWAUKEE -- The postseason is still a week away, but the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs can expect another afternoon of playoff-like intensity and atmosphere on Sunday when they wrap up a four-game showdown at Miller Park.

The first three games of this crucial four-game series between the National League Central-leading Cubs and the upstart Brewers have been riddled with drama: strong solid pitching, lockdown late-inning relief and last at-bat heroics as all three games went 10 innings and were decided by two runs or fewer.

"There's no difference between these three games and the games that are going to occur in the next month," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon, whose team has a 4 1/2-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central. "They were absolutely that intense, well played on both sides, give both teams credit."

And the Brewers, who kept their slimming playoff hopes alive Saturday with a two-run walk-off homer by Travis Shaw, know it won't get any easier.

"I haven't been able to come up with the words for this series," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "This is about as exciting as it gets. It is as exciting as it gets.(The Cubs are) clearly coming into a good place where they're really tough to beat."

The Brewers not only are behind the Cubs for the division lead but trail Colorado by just a game for the second National League wild-card spot, with a half-game lead over the resurgent St. Louis Cardinals.

"They've battled when people have counted them out or not believed," Counsell said. "They'll continue to show up fight until the very end."

Chase Anderson gets the start as Milwaukee goes for the series split and a victory in the season series, which is tied at nine games apiece.

He has been sharp all season, despite missing nearly two months with a strained oblique, but has been dominant at Miller Park, where he's 5-0 with a 2.34 ERA in 10 starts this season.

"I want to be that guy," Anderson said of stepping up to bolster a rotation that has been depleted by injury and ineffectiveness. "There's plenty of guys in this clubhouse that can be that guy, but when you get asked to do it, it's an honor. I hope to do it throughout this September and hopefully in the postseason.

"I feel strong, I feel healthy and I think being out with the oblique injury kind of set me up for this. Kind of a blessing in disguise. Arm feels great, I'm ready to go."

Anderson has faced the Cubs three times this season, going 2-1 with a 5.14 ERA, and is 3-1 with a 3.68 ERA in six career starts against Chicago, which hands the ball to left-hander Jose Quintana.

Acquired at the break from the crosstown White Sox, Quintana has gone 6-3 with a 3.95 ERA since shifting to the North Side and took a no-decision his last time out, allowing three runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Cardinals.

"He's becoming more part of the fabric, he knows the guys now, he seems more at ease," Maddon said of Quintana. "He's become part of the group. He's assimilated well.

"He's easy to respect. It's easy to respect this guy the way he goes about his work. He's become more comfortable with us and I think he won us over with the way he went about his work."

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Royals vs. White Sox 2:10 (EDT) Preview

Royals' Kennedy welcomes son, set to face White Sox

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Sunday, September 24 at 2:44 AM (EDT)

CHICAGO -- Six years, four months, five children, one boy.

It almost sounds like an official scorer or broadcaster reciting a pitching line, but those figures simply illustrate the particulars for Kansas City Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy, his wife, Allison, and their growing young family.

"There's a lot going on there," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

The Kennedys welcomed their fifth child and first son, Isaac Patrick, on Friday, and the boy's father wasted no time in imparting a lesson on commitment.

Ian Kennedy is scheduled to start for the Royals in Sunday's series finale against the host Chicago White Sox. He traveled from Kansas City to Chicago on Saturday, Yost said.

Kennedy (4-12, 5.39 ERA) returned to the rotation on Tuesday after missing his previous start with fatigue in his throwing shoulder. He entered the sixth inning with a shutout before the Toronto Blue Jays' Darwin Barney smacked a two-run home run on an 0-2 changeup with none out.

Although Kennedy took the loss for the Royals, Yost still expressed optimism in his five-plus innings of three-hit, two-run, two-strikeout ball. It was Kennedy's first start without a walk all season.

"He threw very well," Yost said. "You know, he had rotator cuff fatigue and it dropped his arm slot. We skipped him one start, it was 11 days, and it got everything back on track. And now he's been on top of his arm slot, and everything's been good."

Kennedy, who is 2-2 with a 4.63 ERA in eight career starts against the White Sox, will look to keep the Royals afloat in a muddled American League wild-card race. Kansas City (76-78) rebounded from Friday's frustrating loss in the series opener with an 8-2 victory against Chicago (62-92) on Saturday.

The Royals stand 4 1/2 games back of American League Central rival Minnesota for the second wild-card spot with eight games to play, but also are battling Los Angeles and Texas, among other teams in a jumbled race.

White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito (2-3, 2.58 ERA) will make his second career start against the Royals. Giolito took a no-decision in a Sept. 13 start at Kansas City, spacing one run, four hits, three walks and three strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.

The Royals are no strangers to in-season births in players' families. In August 2016, left-handed reliever Mike Minor was in Sacramento on a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Omaha when his wife prepared to give birth to the couple's second child.

Minor remembers a whirlwind stretch surrounding the joyous news in his native Tennessee.

"My wife went into labor and then they contacted us, contacted the team, they did everything to get me the first flight home, and I went right to the hospital. ... I only took maybe a day or two, and then I was back."

Fellow reliever Brandon Maurer was born during baseball season -- in July 1990 -- but said, "I've had a pretty standard ride, I guess," when it comes to experiencing in-season family milestones. Or in his case, a lack thereof.

Several teammates texted Kennedy Friday to offer well wishes.

"A lot of guys reached out and just made sure everything went OK," Maurer said.

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Rangers vs. Athletics 4:05 (EDT) Preview

Rangers hope to ride Perez to win over A's

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Sunday, September 24 at 3:33 AM (EDT)

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Texas Rangers left-hander Martin Perez had a 5-10 record and a 5.46 ERA after his first 21 starts this season. He owned a four-game losing streak and had allowed a combined 15 runs and 18 hits in losses to Baltimore and Minnesota.

Perez appeared to be well on his way to the worst season of his major-league career but somehow flipped the switch after that Aug. 4 loss to the Twins and has been almost unbeatable down the stretch.

Perez has gone 7-1 with a 3.14 ERA in his past nine starts, and he'll try to stay hot Sunday afternoon in the series finale against the Oakland Athletics with the Rangers clinging to their wild-card playoff hopes.

"I found a way to throw more strikes and get out of the inning when I get problems in a game," Perez said. "Just trying to stay positive and never lost my mind and never lost my focus. I'm good now. I think now it's my time to do things good for the team."

The Rangers (76-78) lost 1-0 to the A's on Saturday night and fell 4 1/2 games behind the Minnesota Twins, who were 10-4 winners over Detroit, for the second AL wild-card spot. The Rangers, who have eight games remaining, are tied with Kansas City and the Los Angeles Angels in the wild-card race.

"We still have a chance," Perez said before the loss. "Just go out there and do my job and throw a quality start. I think it's time to help the team. We need it. So go out there and do my job and try to go six or seven tomorrow and win. That's what it's all about. Win."

Unfortunately for the Rangers, they're 1-7 with seven straight losses at the Coliseum this year. They need to win Sunday to avoid getting swept at the Coliseum for the second straight time.

"We got to win games," said Rangers bench coach Steve Buechele, who served as acting manager in place of Jeff Banister, who returned to Texas to be with his mother, Verda, who is experiencing complications for surgery. "It's simple. We got eight games left. We know where we're at."

The Rangers will face A's right-hander Jharel Cotton, who was scratched from his previous scheduled start Wednesday at Detroit after straining a groin while warming up before the game.

Cotton (8-10, 5.81) is 3-0 in his past five starts with victories against Houston, Texas and Boston.

"Of course I want to go out there for my last two starts and prove myself some more," said Cotton, a rookie. "This year was for sure a learning experience. I learned a lot and of course it's going to take me into the offseason on a good note and I'm excited for that."

Cotton allowed two runs and four hits in six innings in an 8-3 A's victory over Texas on Aug. 27 at the Coliseum. He struck out nine, matching his career high, and walked none.

"I think everything was working," Cotton said. "My command was there. And the confidence was there. I'm going to take that same approach into tomorrow."

Cotton is 2-1 with a 3.44 ERA in three career starts against Texas. This year, he's 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA in two starts vs. the Rangers.

Perez is 6-6 with a 5.03 ERA in 14 career starts against the A's. This season against Oakland, he's 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA in two starts.

The A's have won a season-high six straight games and are 13-3 in their past 16 games.

"It's fun to watch," Cotton said. "We're coming together as a squad and it's going to be something special to watch, especially in the upcoming years. I'm excited about it. I'm excited to be a part of it."

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Giants vs. Dodgers 4:10 (EDT) Preview

Giants look to win series against Dodgers

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Sunday, September 24 at 3:32 AM (EDT)

LOS ANGELES -- The San Francisco Giants have been looking ahead to next season for a while, and they'll put rookie right-hander Chris Stratton back under the microscope in their series finale against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday afternoon.

Stratton (3-3, 3.94 ERA) has made an impression over his past six outings, posting a 2.17 ERA in that span to demonstrate he's a legit candidate to fill a back-end starter role next season.

"He's on a nice roll," Giants manager Bruce Bochy told the San Jose Mercury News after Stratton allowed two runs and five hits over six innings in a 7-2 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday. "If you have good stuff and good command and the ability to adjust your patterns and how you attack hitters, you'll be good. That's how it works in the major leagues and he's doing that."

Stratton, taken 20th overall by the Giants in the 2012 MLB Draft, two spots behind Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, made one of his nine career starts against the visiting Dodgers on Sept. 11, but recorded only one out on five pitches before a lengthy rain delay ended his evening.

He made his only other appearance against Los Angeles in June of last season and earned his first major league win in one inning of relief. He gave up a solo home run in the 10th inning to Adrian Gonzalez, but the Giants scored twice in the bottom of the inning off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen to win the game.

Stratton will be up against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who's still trying to find his rhythm after missing six weeks with back issues. Kershaw (17-4, 2.26 ERA) is 2-2 with a 3.74 ERA in four starts since his return. He gave up the first grand slam of his career in his most recent outing, a 4-3 loss at the Philadelphia Phillies.

Kershaw lost a 4-3 decision to the visiting Giants on May 1, but has been otherwise stellar against San Francisco this season, owning a 3-1 mark with a 1.73 ERA. He beat the Giants on Sept. 12 after holding them to one earned run and scattering eight hits in six innings of a 5-3 victory in San Francisco.

Kershaw has thrown a career-high five shutouts in 39 starts against San Francisco. He's 21-9 overall against the Giants with a 1.62 mark, his best ERA against a team he has faced at least 10 times.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he does not plan to place any limitations on Kershaw, even though Los Angeles has already locked up the National League West title.

"He's going to go full bore and after (Sunday) we'll know more on how we want to manage him for that last start against Colorado," Roberts said.

The Giants won't be holding anything back against Kershaw either. They're looking to win a series for one of the few times this season.

"They're staying focused, despite where we're at." Bochy said of his players after a 2-1 win on Saturday night. "That's what I feel good about. I like the intensity and how we're playing."

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Indians vs. Mariners 4:10 (EDT) Preview

Indians face Mariners with postseason in mind

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Sunday, September 24 at 1:35 AM (EDT)

SEATTLE -- With only a handful of games in the regular season and the American League Central title already in hand, Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona has the luxury of getting his team set up for the postseason.

That covers a lot of ground, from setting up the rotation, giving his veterans a breather to making sure they have their legs in October.

"We're trying to put a lineup out there that can win every day," Francona said. "That's their goal. But we're also trying to accomplish some things and we need to keep our house in order."

Then there is the part of Francona's job where he writes right-hander Corey Kluber's name into the lineup, as he'll do on Sunday -- that's not about to change.

The Indians have already clinched the AL Central, but are still pushing for the league's best record -- they currently have a 1 1/2-game edge against the Houston Astros. And catching the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors is still a possibility.

At 75-80, the Mariners' AL wild card hopes are alive, but fading, six games behind the Minnesota Twins with seven games left to play.

Kluber comes into Sunday's game with a 17-4 record with a 2.35 ERA in 191 2/3 innings and is one of the frontrunners for the AL Cy Young Award.

He's been almost flawless in September, going 4-0 with a 0.87 ERA in 31 innings with 37 strikeouts against one walk.

The Indians also figure to get some players back in the lineup Sunday, such as designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion and center fielder Jason Kipnis, each of whom got days off on Saturday. Kipnis had missed 3 1/2 weeks with a strained hamstring before coming off the disabled list on Sunday.

"We went over it with the trainers," Francona said. "There was thought to play him all three and maybe playing him at short (on Saturday). But I think they felt it would be really good for him not to play today, play (Sunday) and maybe play nine."

Among the Mariners, Robinson Cano has hit Kluber the hardest in his career, hitting .364 (4-for-11 with three doubles) against the Indians' ace.

For Seattle's regular-season home finale on Sunday, the Mariners will turn to Mike Leake (3-0 with Seattle, 10-12 overall), who has been their hottest pitcher in September.

Since being acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals on Aug. 30, Leake has shined in the Mariners' rotation, posting a 2.13 ERA in 25 1/3 innings over four starts. On a Seattle staff that had aces Felix Hernandez and James Paxton still mending down the stretch, that was just was needed.

"He's probably exceeded expectations on the numbers he's put out there in his first four starts," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "I probably wasn't expecting him to be that good. We'll take it."

But that's only been part of what Leake has brought to the Mariners' clubhouse, smoothly fitting into the team's chemistry.

"I really like his fit in our group, in our clubhouse in what he brings from an experience standpoint," Servais said. "He likes to talk pitching. You see him talking to our younger guys all the time, with our catchers, stuff like that."

After spending most of his time in the National League this season, of the Indians' regulars, Leake has only seen Jay Bruce in 2017 -- another player who spent most of the season in the NL. Bruce went 1-for-2 against Leake on July 14 when the Bruce's New York Mets defeated Leake's St. Louis Cardinals, 7-3.

But over his career, Leake has limited current members of the Indians to a .188 batting average.

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Marlins vs. Diamondbacks 4:10 (EDT) Preview

Marlins try to get in the way of Diamondbacks

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Sunday, September 24 at 2:36 AM (EDT)

The Miami Marlins have been eliminated from playoff contention, but they haven't stopped fighting.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are closing in on their first playoff berth since 2011, but they haven't stopped working to accomplish their goal.

That, in a nutshell, figures to be the mindset for the Marlins (73-81) and Diamondbacks (89-66) when they meet in Sunday's rubber game of a three-game series.

"This is September baseball," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo told mlb.com. "When you are driving toward something as special as we are, you feel that moment."

So far, the series has been a hide-your-eyes type of nightmare for pitchers. The Diamondbacks won Friday's game 13-11 and Miami won 12-6 on Saturday.

On Sunday, the Diamondbacks will throw left-hander Patrick Corbin (14-13, 4.14 ERA) against Miami right-hander Dan Straily (10-9, 4.17 ERA).

Arizona's magic number for hosting the National League wild-card playoff game is one, which means the Diamondbacks can punch their ticket by simply beating the Marlins on Sunday -- no need to worry about what the Colorado Rockies are doing against the San Diego Padres.

But the Diamondbacks -- like every team lately -- are going to try to be extra careful with Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, who went 3-for-6 with four RBIs and a homer on Saturday. Stanton's homer was his major-league leading 57th of the season.

"He's been hitting everybody," Marlins manager Don Mattingly told mlb.com when asked about Stanton, who this year has set franchise records for homers and RBIs (125). "He is capable of hitting two homers per game, pretty much."

Stanton, in fact, has two career homers against Corbin in just 14 at-bats.

But it's not just Stanton who Corbin has trouble keeping in the park. Corbin has allowed 50 homers the past two years in 55 starts. He has a career 4.14 ERA, but that mark sinks to 5.00 in his career in September.

In five starts against the Marlins, he is 1-1 with a 5.04 ERA.

Still, Corbin, who broke into the majors in 2012, is one win grom setting his career best with 15 victories. And his 32nd start, set to happen Sunday, would tie his career high.

This is Corbin's second full year after elbow surgery, and his biggest improvement has been his walk rate, which is down from 3.8 to 2.7.

Meanwhile, Straily has turned in his second straight double-figure win season. He doesn't have much history against Arizona -- 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in one career start -- but Straily wants to wipe out a 2017 trend in which he has been much better in the first half than he has been after the All-Star Game.

In reality, Straily has been strong in September throughout his career, going 10-4 with a 4.49 ERA. So perhaps this year's 5.45 second-half ERA and 6.86 September ERA are just aberrations.

But if Straily struggles a little bit on Sunday, he would truly appreciate a couple of those Stanton moon shots.

Stanton, though, said he doesn't go up there looking for long balls.

"If I go up there trying to hit homers, I would be terrible up there," Stanton told Fox Sports Florida on Saturday night. "I keep trying to put a good barrel on the ball."

As for his records set this year, Stanton said he doesn't have time for those indulgences at the moment.

"I think when the season is over, I can look at my numbers," said Stanton, a California native who has three homers and 12 RBIs in his past five games. "I'm feeling better. It's always good to be on the West Coast -- that locks me in."

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Rockies vs. Padres 4:40 (EDT) Preview

Rockies thinking wild card in last road game vs. Padres

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Sunday, September 24 at 2:53 AM (EDT)

SAN DIEGO -- The Colorado Rockies are headed home after Sunday's game against the San Diego Padres. They hope their final destination after the regular season is the playoffs.

Colorado plays its last road game to wrap up its four-game series in San Diego. The Rockies have been blanked in three of their last four games, which has allowed some teams, most notably the Milwaukee Brewers, to stay within striking distance.

The Rockies have a one-game lead over the Brewers for the second NL wildcard spot.

"I know the teams that I want to lose when the highlights are on in the locker room," Rockies star Charlie Blackmon said. "But I don't actively seek out any of the standings. I think we still have a lot of baseball left to play and I think the most important thing is to not look back, but be looking forward."

Blackmon's game looks grand even if the Rockies have dropped two of three to the Padres in this series. He leads the league in batting at .325 and is among the leaders in virtually every significant category.

This year he became the 11th player in major league history to collect at least 130 runs, 30 doubles, 10 triples and 35 homers.

The last player to accomplish that feat was Stan Musial in 1948.

"To me it feels the same," Blackmon said about the stress of playing down the stretch. "I feel other people put that extra pressure on you.

"I'm trying hard every time I go up there. It doesn't matter if we are 20 games under .500 or 20 games above it. I think that is the best place for a player to be mentally because they are not giving any at-bats away, good or bad. I think if I were to play every day and now all of a sudden because of where we are I have to things differently that means I've been doing something wrong all along."

What's gone right for the Rockies is a powerful offense which features Blackmon, Nolan Arenado, DL LeMaieu, Trevor Story and others. But Black, who won 121 games pitching in the majors, knows a team is only good at its rotation. On Sunday, German Marquez (10-7, 4.41) is on the mound.

"Your starting pitcher sets the tone over the course of the season," Black said. "There are games maybe where your starting pitchers falters and you can out slug someone. But you can't rely on that formula. You have to rely on starting pitcher, that is what wins."

Marquez, who has split two career decisions versus the Padres, is tied for second among rookie with 10 wins, with his 142 strikeouts No. 1.

The Padres counter with Luis Perdomo (8-10, 4.57), who is 0-3 lifetime against the Rockies. The right-hander leads the staff woith 16 quality starts. Over his last six outings, he's heaved a five consecutive quality starts and pitched to a 3.31 ERA.

He beat the Diamondbacks in his last start, although he tied a career-high with six walks. He tiptoed around the damage enough to allow but two runs in 5 1/3 innings.

"Love the fact he made big pitches," Padres manager Andy Green said. "He made big pitches when he had to for most of the day. He put himself in really tough situations. But I think you've got to be encouraged that he keeps getting out of those situations."

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Saturday, September 23, 2017
Major League Baseball
Marlins 12 vs. 6 Diamondbacks Final Recap

Stanton, Marlins knock off Diamondbacks

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Sunday, September 24 at 1:47 AM (EDT)

After double-digit scoring wasn't sufficient the night before, the Miami Marlins again surpassed 10 runs and kept the Arizona Diamondbacks from clinching a postseason berth.

Giancarlo Stanton's 57th home run helped lead the Marlins to a 12-6 win over the Diamondbacks on Saturday night.

Unlike Friday, when the Marlins scored eight runs against Arizona Diamondbacks starter Zach Greinke but Marlins pitchers allowed 13 runs in a 13-11 loss, Miami took an early lead and relievers surrendered one run through the final five innings.

Stanton went 3-for-6 and was a triple shy of the cycle. Stanton drove in four runs and became the Marlins' season RBI leader with 124, breaking the previous mark of 120 set by Preston Wilson in 2000.

"RBIs are cool, too, because I'm always known for homers," Stanton said on the Marlins' postgame TV show. "To get up there in RBI you have to be a good hitter, too."

Justin Bour homered for the fourth consecutive game as his two-run opposite-field shot in the eighth gave Miami an 11-6 lead. Bour's shot bounced off the left-field foul pole for his 25th home run.

Miami (73-81) took the lead for good with a five-run third and withstood home runs from Arizona's J.D. Martinez and Paul Goldschmidt. Martinez now has 43 homers and Goldschmidt connected for the 36th time this season.

The loss kept Arizona (89-66) within one game of clinching a wild-card berth.

"We didn't close the deal the way we wanted," Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. "We are very proud what we accomplished at this point, but we got to reload for (Sunday) and make sure we do this thing right."

Brian Ellington (1-1) pitched two innings of relief for the win. Ellington struck out three around Martinez's solo home run.

"This ballpark you just don't feel comfortable," Miami manager Don Mattingly said. "You know things happen fast. The ball jumps. It's an offensive ballpark. It's not like a regular place where you get a couple of runs lead and start feeling comfortable late in the game. You don't feel comfortable here."

Neither starter reached the fifth inning. Arizona's Taijuan Walker (9-9) allowed six runs and six hits, walked three and struck out six in 3 2/3 innings.

Despite enjoying four- and three-run leads, Miami's Dillon Peters was lifted for a pinch hitter after four innings. Peters surrendered five runs, six hits, walked three and struck out one.

Martinez's solo homer off Ellington in the fifth put Arizona within 7-6. Stanton leaped and attempted to catch Martinez's opposite-field shot before it landed over the wall in right-center field.

Stanton's solo homer and Bour's RBI single in the fourth gave Miami a 7-4 lead. Bour's single to shallow center scored Christian Yelich from second. Yelich originally was called out on second baseman Brandon Drury's throw to catcher Chris Ianetta, but Miami challenged the play and a video review overturned the call.

"It's tough, but I got to try to keep putting good barrel on the ball and the rest takes care of itself," Stanton said of his pursuit of reaching 60 home runs.

The Marlins erased a 1-0 deficit with a five-run third keyed by Stanton's two-run double and a fielding error by Walker off Dee Gordon's short dribbler that scored Miguel Rojas from third. Bour drove in a run with a single and Brian Anderson's sacrifice fly to deep center scored Miami's fifth run of the inning.

"Offense did a really good job putting up runs," Walker said. "I just didn't do my job and have that shutdown inning. I have to do my job -- make the plays and get that shut down inning."

Goldschmidt's three-run homer off Peters in the bottom of the inning cut the deficit to 5-4.

Drury's home run to lead off the second gave the Diamondbacks a 1-0 lead. Drury drove Peters' pitch above the wall in right-center field for his 13th homer of the season.

NOTES: 2B Dee Gordon favored his right leg as he attempted to beat out a grounder in the fourth inning. Although Gordon limped on his way to the dugout, he remained in the game. ... 3B Martin Prado, sidelined since mid-July because of a right knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery, is traveling with the Marlins on their road trip to Arizona and Colorado. Prado took batting practice before Saturday's game and is targeting possible pinch-hit opportunities the final week of the season. ... J.D. Martinez has 27 home runs since July 19, second behind Stanton. Martinez also drove in his 28th run of the month, tying Luis Gonzalez for the one-month record he set in March-April 2000. ... Saturday's crowd of 39,259 at Chase Field pushed the Diamondbacks past two million in home attendance for the season. Arizona has never drawn less than two million at home in the club's 19-year history.

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Rockies 0 vs. 5 Padres Final Recap

Padres shut out struggling Rockies

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Sunday, September 24 at 1:02 AM (EDT)

SAN DIEGO -- Jhoulys Chacin wanted revenge against his former team on Saturday night. He got that and the San Diego Padres clinched the series as Chacin beat the Colorado Rockies 5-0 with six effective innings.

The fading Rockies' lead over the Milwaukee Brewers was shaved to one game for the second National League wild-card spot as Colorado managed but five hits.

Chacin (13-10) surrendered a hit and three walks to his ex-team and struck out six in winning his fourth straight start at Petco Park. He beat the Rockies for the first time in three starts this year as they were shut out for the third time in four games -- a franchise first.

"Today was that little extra for me, facing my former club and my last start at home,'' Chacin said. "I really wanted to do good and finish the season strong, especially at home.''

The Rockies' lineup has gone quiet at the wrong time. Colorado stranded nine and was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and didn't have an extra-base hit for the second game of the series.

"I wish I had the answer,'' Rockies manager Bud Black said of his team's malaise.

Four Padres relievers, with Brad Hand pitching the ninth, finished off the Rockies as they fell for the fifth time in six games.

Chacin took a no-hitter into the sixth before DJ LeMaieu's sinking line drive just escaped the diving Manuel Margot's attempt.

"At some point in time it starts creeping into your mind what's going on but it needs to go deeper before it gets too dramatic,'' Padres manager Andy Green said of Chacin's no-hit bid. "Manny made a great effort to try to take it away. I think it unseated Jhoulys for a couple of batters but he settled back in.''

Chad Bettis (1-4) lost for the third time in his last four decisions. He lasted 4 2/3 innings and gave up a run and seven hits with two walks. He struck out three.

"I thought his velocity was up and he mixed in the curveball,'' Black said. "He kept the ball down.''

The Padres added three runs in the eighth, with Ian Desmond's throwing error accounting for one of the runs. The RBIs came from pinch-hitter Erick Aybar and Manuel Margot.

The Rockies, trailing 2-0, threatened against reliever Craig Stammen after Chacin's exit.

Desmond and Jonathan Lucroy produced one-out singles, but Stammen struck out pinch-hitter Raimel Tapia before southpaw Buddy Baumann came on to face the left-handed-hitting Charlie Blackmon. Baumann fanned the NL's batting leader to halt the rally.

"We're not making good contact overall,'' Black said. "Even though tonight we had some guys on base, we couldn't get the big hit again and that has been the common theme, that at-bats have not resulted in not a lot of hard-hit balls consistently."

Chacin, who tied Clayton Richard with his team-high 31st start, got out of a first-inning jam after LeMahieu walked and Nolan Arenado reached on an error by second baseman Carlos Asuaje. Chacin retired Gerardo Parra on a flyout to end the inning.

Bettis had to tiptoe around trouble with runners reaching base in each of the first five innings. He was bitten in the fifth when the Padres chased him after 85 pitches on Yangervis Solarte's RBI single as the Padres took a 1-0 lead.

The way the Rockies are scuffling, it might as well been a 10-run advantage.

"There is no reason to change now as a team, and individually, a lot of guys have had a lot of success this year,'' Desmond said. "We just need to stick with it and keep on grinding it out.''

NOTES: Rockies LHP Kyle Freeman will continue to pitch out of the bullpen, although he could get a spot start next weekend against the Dodgers. ... Padres LF Travis Jankowski started in left field, which has been the case against right-handed starters. ... CF Manuel Margot was thrown out attempting to steal, which snapped his streak at 10 straight stolen bases. He did extend his hitting streak to seven games.

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Rangers 0 vs. 1 Athletics Final Recap

Davis' 40th HR only run in A's win over Rangers

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Sunday, September 24 at 1:36 AM (EDT)

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The math is becoming simpler and the task more daunting every day for the Texas Rangers in their quest for an American League wild-card playoff berth.

The Rangers lost for the second straight night to the last-place Oakland Athletics, this time 1-0 on Saturday night at the Oakland Coliseum.

Texas (76-78) fell 4 1/2 games behind the Minnesota Twins, 10-4 winners over Detroit, for the second wild-card spot. The Rangers, who have eight games remaining, are tied with Kansas City and the Los Angeles Angels.

"We got to win tomorrow," said Rangers bench coach Steve Buechele, who served as acting manager in place of Jeff Banister. Banister returned to Texas to be with his mother, Verda, who is having complications from a recent surgery. "We're going to take one game at a time, not look ahead. We know exactly where we're at. We got to win the games."

That hasn't been easy for the Rangers at the Coliseum this season. Khris Davis hit his 40th home run of the season, Raul Alcantara threw five strong innings and the A's beat Texas at the Coliseum for the seventh straight time. The A's (71-83) won their season-high sixth straight game overall.

"It is tough," Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "But there's no other way to go. We have to come back tomorrow and win. We're having a tough time winning here. Winning tomorrow and heading back home would be really good."

Davis became the second Athletic in franchise history to hit at least 40 home runs in back-to-back seasons, joining Jimmie Foxx (1932-34). Davis hit a career-high 42 home runs last season, his first with Oakland. With his solo shot in the second inning, Davis also set a career high for RBIs with 103, one more than he had last year.

"It's nice to be mentioned in the presence of Hall of Famers," Davis said. "I'm just enjoying it and embracing it as much as I can, just trying to help the ballclub win games."

Alcantara (1-1) made a spot start in place of lefty Sean Manaea, who was a late scratch because a strained upper back. Alcantra allowed no runs on two hits over five innings with five strikeouts and two walks. He lowered his ERA from 9.20 to 6.86.

Alcantara made a spot start at Detroit on Monday and blanked the Tigers for 3 2/3 innings on two hits in an 8-3 Athleitcs' victory.

"He looks like a different guy," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Alcantara. "I think a lot of it had to do with how well he pitched last time. The command of the fastball is better. It looks to me like his split and slider are better, and he's pitching with a lot more confidence. It's good to see."

Ryan Dull, Daniel Coulombe, Chris Hatcher and Blake Treinen combined to blank Texas over the final four innings on two hits. Treinen pitched a scoreless ninth for his 11th save.

Rangers right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (8-12) allowed one run on four hits over six innings in his fourth start since being traded by the White Sox to Texas. He struck out five and walked none.

The Athletics took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Davis led off with his milestone home run. Davis launched Gonzalez' first-pitch fastball over the right-center field wall.

"First pitch, you tip your hat to him," Gonzalez said. "He's a great hitter. It's a young team and I know they're going to be aggressive, starting from the get-go. I thought it was a good pitch. Maybe just up a little bit."

After Davis' home run, the A's loaded the bases as Matt Olson and Ryon Healy singled, and Matt Chapman was hit by a pitch. But Gonzalez retired the next three batters to escape further damage.

The Rangers had runners on first and second with two outs in the fifth after Robinson Chirinos singled and Alcantara walked Rougned Odor. But Alcantara retired Drew Robinson on a ground ball to end the threat.

"Not to complain or anything, but the last couple games were typical games for us in Oakland where you look up there and we have three, four hits in the middle of the game and we don't bunch them together, we don't make any productive outs," Buechele said. "We have a tough times stringing hits and having that big inning here in this ballpark."

NOTES: A's C Bruce Maxwell became the first Major League Baseball player to kneel during the national anthem as he joined a protest against racial injustice that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began last season. Maxwell is an African American who was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, when his father, Bruce, was stationed there with the Army during a tour of duty. Maxwell posted a strong response on Instagram opposing President Trump's recent criticism of NFL players who kneel during the anthem. A's OF Mark Canha placed a hand on Maxwell's shoulder during the anthem then hugged him when it ended. "My kneeling, the way I did it was to symbolize the fact that I'm kneeling for a cause, but I'm in no way or form disrespecting my country or my flag," Maxwell. said. Maxwell missed his second straight game while undergoing concussion tests. ... Rangers manager Jeff Banister returned to Clear Lake, Texas, before Saturday's game to be with his mother, Verda, who is experiencing complications from recent surgery. Banister is expected to miss Sunday's series finale, too. Bench coach Steve Buechele filled in for Banister on Saturday in his first full game managing in the big leagues and will fill in again Sunday. "We'll just hold down the fort until he's back," Buchele said. ... A's INF/OF Chad Pinder (sore back/neck) was out of the lineup, one day after crashing into the right-center field wall in the sixth inning while trying to catch a deep fly ball.

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Giants 2 vs. 1 Dodgers Final Recap

Bumgarner helps pitch Giants to 2-1 win over Dodgers

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Sunday, September 24 at 1:35 AM (EDT)

LOS ANGELES -- The final weeks of this season have become all about silver linings for the San Francisco Giants.

Madison Bumgarner delivered one on Saturday night.

The veteran left-hander allowed one run in 7 2/3 innings to end his four-game losing streak and the Giants defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-1 at Dodger Stadium.

Bumgarner (4-9) permitted five hits, struck out five and walked one. The Giants won for just the fourth time in his 14 starts this season.

"To me, it don't matter if it's a 37-run win or a one-run win, it's a win," Bumgarner said. "That's what we're up here to do."

The Dodgers had clinched their fifth straight National League West title on Friday night and rested several regulars.

Bumgarner blanked the Dodgers for seven innings on July 30, his only other appearance against them this season. He shut them out for seven more on Saturday before Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes led off the eighth with a home run to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Charlie Culberson doubled with one out in the inning and moved to third on a fly ball to right by pinch-hitter Cody Bellinger, the 99th pitch from Bumgarner. Giants manager Bruce Bochy then brought in right-handed reliever Hunter Strickland and he got Chris Taylor to fly out to the warning track in right.

"We couldn't quite tack on (runs) when we had the chance," Bochy said. "They get within one and have the tying run on third base, and you're hoping to hold on for (Bumgarner) because he pitched such a beautiful game."

Sam Dyson pitched the ninth for his 14th save. Dodgers right-fielder Yasiel Puig was caught stealing by Giants catcher Buster Posey for the final out.

"That was one of the best throws I've seen because (Puig) had a good jump and I didn't think he had a chance at him," Bochy said.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Puig didn't have a steal sign, but rather tried to take the base on his own.

"Plays like that, when you're trying to win a championship, can't happen," Roberts said.

The Dodgers hadn't put a runner in scoring position against Bumgarner until left fielder Enrique Hernandez doubled over the head of Denard Span in center with one out in the seventh. Hernandez, who came in 13-for-27 in his career against Bumgarner with four doubles and three home runs, was stranded at third.

Gorkys Hernandez and Span had three hits apiece. Hernandez scored both runs and Span and Posey had the RBIs.

Hernandez hit the first pitch of the game from Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu into the left-field corner for his 18th double of the year. Joe Panik sacrificed Hernandez to third and Posey lined a two-out RBI single to center for a 1-0 lead.

Ryu stranded two runners in the second but then was hit in the left forearm by a hard comebacker by Panik to lead off the third and was removed from the game. X-rays came back negative, Roberts said.

Ross Stripling entered and pitched the remainder of the third inning and Brandon McCarthy, another former starter who came off his third stint on the DL on Friday, pitched a scoreless fourth in his first appearance since July 20.

The Giants tagged McCarthy for a run in the fifth, however.

Hernandez singled to center, stole second and advanced to third on Panik's grounder to second. Span then lined a single up the middle and Hernandez scored his second run of the game for a 2-0 lead.

Bumgarner walked Taylor to start the first and gave up a single to Kyle Farmer to lead off the third, but both were erased by 4-6-3 double plays. He retired the side in order in the fourth and fifth innings.

"He did have really good stuff tonight and really crisp," Bochy said. "His cutter, his curveball, change up, along with a good fastball, and he went up and down with it. A good day for Bum. He really looked good."

NOTES: Dodgers 3B Justin Turner was out of the lineup for a third straight game after suffering a thumb contusion when he was hit by a pitch on Thursday and then feeling the effects of a stomach virus the past two days. ... Dodgers 1B Kyle Farmer made his first major league start and was 1-for-3 against Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner. Farmer came in 4-for-12 (.333) in 12 games this season. His lone extra-base hit was a walk-off two-run double in the 11th inning against the Giants in his first major league at-bat on July 30, a game in which Bumgarner threw seven shutout innings. ... Bumgarner had been supported by 2.8 runs per game this season coming into Saturday, the second fewest of any major league pitcher with at least 100 innings pitched.

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Angels 2 vs. 6 Astros Final Recap

Correa, Gattis lead Astros over Angels

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Sunday, September 24 at 12:51 AM (EDT)

HOUSTON -- With Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel the only locks for the postseason rotation, Houston Astros starters have firmed up their candidacies recently with a string of noteworthy performances, with right-hander Charlie Morton again underscoring his viability on Saturday.

Morton worked seven innings for the first time since Aug. 5, while Carlos Correa recorded his first three-hit game since returning from the disabled list and teamed with Evan Gattis to pace the Astros to a 6-2 victory over the fading Los Angeles Angels at Minute Maid Park.

Correa finished 3-for-3 with a walk and three RBIs, posting his fifth three-hit game and sixth game with three-plus RBIs. Correa got the Astros (95-59) on the board with a run-scoring single in the first inning before adding a two-out RBI double in the fifth and an RBI single in the seventh.

Gattis followed the Correa double in the fifth with a three-run homer for his 12th on the season. The Astros' four-run rally came against right-hander Eduardo Paredes, who relieved Angels starter Bud Norris (2-6) with one out in the fourth inning. Gattis also posted three RBIs.

The top four hitters in the Astros order finished a combined 8-for-14 and scored all six runs.

"We could have won in a lot of different ways today but those guys that are normally at the bottom of our order, step up at the top of our order and produce," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It was a good day."

The Angels (76-78) mustered just five hits total while suffering their season-high-tying sixth consecutive defeat with the second American League wild card on the line. They trail the Minnesota Twins by 4 1/2 games with eight remaining.

Morton (13-7) capitalized on the early lead by producing an efficient outing to complement that run support, allowing one run on four hits and one walk with five strikeouts.

Morton faced the minimum over his first five innings, inducing a pair of inning-ending double plays to erase singles by Albert Pujols in the second inning and Brandon Phillips in the fifth. Morton had just 42 pitches on his ledger entering the sixth, completing the second and third innings on nine pitches each while tossing five pitches in the fourth inning and eight in the fifth.

"My sinker was moving pretty good today," Morton said. "They were aggressive and stacked righties. I threw some decent changeups, some decent sinkers and fortunately the balls that were put in play found some guys."

Said Angels center fielder Mike Trout of Morton: "He had good stuff today. He was sinking it, cutting it obviously with that curveball. He threw a couple of changeups as well. Just keeping us off-balance and we were just missing pitches."

Angels' left fielder Justin Upton ended the shutout bid with a leadoff home run in the seventh inning, his 33rd on the season. Upton added his 34th homer leading off the ninth against Astros reliever Will Harris for his 16th career multi-homer game.

"Right now there is a number of guys who are not having hits fall in, that are struggling a little bit," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think the quality of at-bats are pretty consistent but at times we're missing some pitches.

"So as far as our lineup being deeper, there's no doubt it's deeper but hopefully it's going to take that one spark to get these guys to start get some momentum and start to pressure other teams. We've had a tough time doing it this whole week."

The Astros have won eight of nine and will pursue a series sweep on Sunday. Houston is 36 games over .500 for the first time since concluding the 1998 campaign with a 102-60 record.

NOTES: Facing a noon start following a night game, Astros manager A.J. Hinch rested a number of regulars, including OF George Springer, 2B Jose Altuve, C Brian McCann and DH Carlos Beltran. With Springer, OF Josh Reddick (back) and Altuve unavailable, 3B Alex Bregman hit leadoff for just the second time this season. ... When Angels LF Justin Upton opened the seventh inning with a home run to left field, it snapped a string of 23 scoreless innings for Los Angeles. ... With his second double of the game, Astros 2B Marwin Gonzalez pushed the Astros' season total to 326 doubles, which matched the franchise record set in 1998.

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Cubs 3 vs. 4 Brewers Final Recap

Shaw's 2-run homer lifts Brewers to dramatic win over Cubs

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Sunday, September 24 at 12:08 AM (EDT)

MILWAUKEE -- In each of the first two games of their four-game weekend showdown at Miller Park, the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs went into the 10th inning before the defending World Series champions broke their young challengers' hearts.

So Saturday afternoon, when the Cubs again manufactured a go-ahead run in the top of the 10th inning, the few remaining local fans among the sold out crowd of 44,067 prepared for more agony.

Instead, the Brewers flipped the script, getting a one-out double from Ryan Braun that set up a two-run walk-off home run from Travis Shaw as Milwaukee rallied late -- and kept its slim postseason hopes alive -- with a 4-3 victory.

"I haven't been able to come up with the words for this series," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell, whose team got within 4 1/2 games of the Cubs and one of the Rockies for a wild-card spot. "If this hasn't been the best series that you've seen in a long time this is about as exciting as it gets. It is as exciting as it gets. They're clearly coming into a good place where they're really tough to beat but we hung with them today."

Shaw hit his 31st homer after Milwaukee tied it in the ninth on a homer by Orlando Arcia off Wade Davis. The Cubs, who won the first two games in the 10th, took a one-run lead on a single by Jon Jay before Milwaukee dramatically won it.

Davis came back out for the 10th, working two innings for the second time in three games. He struck out Neil Walker to open the inning but Braun sent a double down the line and into the corner to bring up Shaw, who took ball one before connecting on a hanging curveball to win it.

"He missed with the curveball on the first pitch, and I was going to see if he'd do it again and he tried it again," Shaw said. "Last night I missed an opportunity early in the game to kind of blow it open. It just feels good to come out on the right side of things after a couple of tough days."

Davis (4-2), working multiple innings for the second time in three games, hadn't blown a save since Sept. 2, 2016.

"My arm was dragging a little bit," Davis said. "I just made a lot of bad pitches and good pitches for them to hit."

In the ninth, Davis struck out Neil Walker to open the inning but missed his mark coming inside on a 0-1 fastball that Arcia ripped down the left-field line for his 14th home run of the season, tying the game 3-3.

"Just wanted to get it in more and obviously I didn't," Davis said. "He put a pretty good swing on it."

Davis hadn't allowed a home run since Aug. 13 but recovered quickly from there, retiring the next two batters and Chicago got to work quickly in the 10th against Jeremy Jeffress (4-2) with Ian Happ starting things off by drawing a leadoff walk.

Jason Heyward moved him over with a sacrifice bunt and Jay sent him home with a single back up the middle, putting the Cubs ahead. Jay stole second and took third on a throwing error by Stephen Vogt and, with the Cubs threatening to break the game open, Jeffress intentionally walked Anthony Rizzo, Chicago's leader with 32 home runs and 107 RBIs.

The move paid off as Jeffress got Wilson Contreras -- no slouch himself with 21 homers and 73 RBIs this season -- to bounce into a force, ending the inning.

"The walk hurt JJ today but again, he did a pretty good job," Counsell said. "It's not hard contact that's beating him. It was just a roller up the middle."

Milwaukee got a solid start from left-hander Brent Suter, who held the Cubs to a run on six hits with a pair of strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings.

Kyle Hendricks was just as stingy, allowing just a run on Eric Thames' first-inning RBI single, despite giving up eight hits with a walk while striking out six over six innings of work.

The bullpens took over from there and maintained the tie into the eighth when Jacob Barnes, back out for his second inning, allowed a leadoff double to Ian Happ and a single to Heyward.

Counsell turned to setup man Anthony Swarzak to get out of the jam but Jay moved the runners over with a sacrifice bunt and Kris Bryant put the Cubs ahead with a sacrifice fly to center before Swarzak ended the inning.

NOTES: Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon says he plans to keep his rotation in order this week, with LHP Jon Lester kicking off a four-game series at St. Louis on Monday despite command problems in his last outing. ... Milwaukee Brewers C Manny Pina missed a second consecutive game because of a sprained left thumb suffered Thursday in the series opener. ... The Brewers and Cubs have split the season series, winning nine games each, and wrap it up Sunday afternoon with Chicago LHP Jose Quintana (6-3, 3.95 ERA) facing Milwaukee RHP Chase Anderson (11-3, 2.74).

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Yankees 5 vs. 1 Blue Jays Final Recap

Bird's homer helps Yankees clinch postseason spot

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Saturday, September 23 at 9:35 PM (EDT)

TORONTO -- The New York Yankees feel they have a lot more to accomplish this season.

They took the first step Saturday when Greg Bird's three-run homer and Sonny Gray's solid start lifted them a 5-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays to clinch an American League wild-card spot.

"We've got to keep working," Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge said. "We're not done yet. This is just the beginning.

"We've got a lot of goals for this team, a lot of stuff we want to do. Getting a chance to be in the postseason, we've got to keep it rolling and finish strong."

Todd Frazier also homered for the Yankees (86-68).

Relievers Chad Green, David Robertson and Aroldis Chapman each pitched a perfect inning to finish the game.

Teoscar Hernandez homered for the Blue Jays (72-83).

"We've got one of the best bullpens in all of baseball and we've got a stacked lineup and we have fun and go out and compete," said Judge, who has 46 homers. "We compete our butts off every single pitch, we don't take a pitch off."

The Yankees are on a 16-6 run and still have a mathematical chance to finish first in the AL East.

"It's a great accomplishment," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We learned a lot about our young players, our veteran players. To see the kids kind of grow up in front of you, it's special.

"We're still playing for the division. Obviously, I have to be smart. I can't run guys out there 10 days in a row. That doesn't make sense."

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons is impressed with the Yankees.

"They're young and talented," Gibbons said. "They've got a lot of pop in their lineup. They've got some good pieces to go along with it. Some speed with (Jacoby) Ellsbury and (Brett) Gardner.

"They've got some good starting pitching and arguably one of the best bullpens, if not the best. They can be as tough as anybody."

Gray (10-11) won for the fourth time against six losses since joining the Yankees in a trade with the Oakland Athletics on July 31 by holding the Blue Jays to one run and four hits.

Toronto starter Joe Biagini (3-12) continued to look for his first win since June 21 after allowing three hits, including a home run, four walks and three runs in five innings. He is 0-6 in his past eight starts.

"I've established some consistent inconsistency," Biagini said. "The maddening thing for me is that I kind of see spurts of little parts of my game come out occasionally that I feel are good and that's what I feel I should be doing and tap into a little bit more."

Hernandez hit his fourth homer since being called up for September, and his second in two days, in the third inning.

Bird hit his sixth homer of the season with one out in the fifth on a first-pitch cutter. It also scored Chase Headley and Starlin Castro, who had walked, giving the Yankees a 3-1 lead.

"What a team to be a part of," Bird said. "What a group. We were just trying to get (Gray) runs. We haven't got him many runs the last few starts."

"(Biagini) definitely had his fastball going early and we tried to keep that going as long as we could," Blue Jays catcher Raffy Lopez said. "He lost it a little bit, so we had to try use more of his other pitches.

"He still did a good job. The cutter we were trying to go up and in (to Bird) and it was middle in and he put a pretty good swing on it. The fifth inning maybe he got a little tired. A hot day in late September, a guy who is trying to get extended out as a starter."

Danny Barnes replaced Biagini and pitched a perfect sixth. Aaron Loup pitched around a single in the seventh.

Frazier hit his 27th homer of the season in the eighth against Tim Mayza.

The Yankees scored a run in the ninth off Luis Santos on a double by Gary Sanchez, a walk to Headley, a fielder's choice grounder to first by Ellsbury and an infield single to third by Castro.

"We're a lot better than a lot of people thought we were," Headley said. "This is my second postseason in 11 years so I'm enjoying it.

"Obviously, we have more work to be done, but any time you have a chance to play in the postseason, you can't take it for granted. A lot of guys play a long time and don't have this chance."

NOTES: Yankees OF Brett Gardner was 0-for-4 Saturday to end an 11-game hit streak. ... Toronto INF/OF Steve Pearce (stiff lower back) will not play for the rest of the season. He had not played since Sept. 8 when he left the game after one inning. ... Yankees RF Aaron Judge struck out for the 200th time this year in the first inning, the first player this season to reach that plateau. It is a major league record for a rookie. ... Yankees LHP Jaime Garcia (5-9, 4.19 ERA) will oppose Blue Jays RHP Marcus Stroman (12-8, 3.01) in the series finale on Sunday.

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Indians 11 vs. 4 Mariners Final Recap

Lindor, Gomes power Indians to rout of Mariners

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Saturday, September 23 at 9:25 PM (EDT)

SEATTLE -- It took one batter for the Cleveland Indians to get over dropping their series opener against the Seattle Mariners. After that, the American League Central champions were fine.

Francisco Lindor hit a leadoff homer and the Indians went deep four times in an 11-4 victory over the Mariners on Saturday at Safeco Field.

Jose Ramirez and Yan Gomes each had four RBIs. Ramirez went 3-for-3 with a double and a homer, and Gomes was 3-for-5 with two homers.

Lindor made the most of a rare start at designated hitter -- he went 2-for-5 with a double in the third inning and scored three runs. The Indians had 14 hits.

Cleveland (97-58) stayed 1 1/2 games ahead of Houston for the best record in the American League and home-field advantage up to the World Series. The Indians also responded after losing the series opener to Seattle on Friday night.

"It's part of the game," Gomes said of the Friday night loss. "The best thing to do is just come back and put that behind you like we've done all year. Put games behind us and go out there and compete."

Seattle (75-80) lost for the seventh time in eight games and fell six games behind Minnesota for the second AL wild card.

Carlos Carrasco (17-6) pitched 5 2/3 innings and allowed one earned run, six hits and two walks. He struck out six.

Five relievers, including All-Star Andrew Miller, went the rest of the way for the Indians to seal the victory.

Miller, who missed time in August and September with knee tendinitis, pitched 1 1/3 shutout innings after walking his first two batters.

"(Carrasco's) been great, they've got a pretty good lineup," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He got up around 100 pitches and they were starting to look like he left a couple balls up, and we were trying to get Andrew for the inning-plus, so that seemed a good time to do it."

Seattle rookie Andrew Moore (1-5) went four innings, allowing three runs (two earned). He struck out three.

"I thought Andrew made a few adjustments during the game," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "But you could see from the get-go he wasn't as sharp as he had been."

Defense was a problem for Seattle, which committed five errors -- three of them led to Cleveland runs.

"For us and where we're going, it's about catching the baseball and doing things right fundamentally," Servais said. "We haven't done that. We've struggled with that."

Lindor got the Indians going early, hitting his 33rd homer and his third leadoff shot of the season.

He kept it going in the third inning, leading off with single down the right-field line. Austin Jackson then singled him home and he took third on errors by first baseman Yonder Alonso and catcher Mike Zunino.

Ramirez followed with a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Jackson to give Cleveland a 3-0 lead.

The Mariners scored in the sixth inning on Kyle Seager's RBI double to left-center field.

The Indians tacked on two runs in the seventh on sacrifice flies by Ramirez and Greg Allen to put the game out of reach. Ramirez and Gomes each homered in a five-run ninth.

Nelson Cruz added a solo shot in the eighth, his 37th homer, for the Mariners.

NOTES: Cleveland RHP Mike Clevinger has been moved to the bullpen, with Indians manager Terry Francona noting, "We kind of think he can be a weapon." ... Cleveland IF Yandy Diaz returned after missing three days with a jammed finger. He went 1-for-1 as a pinch hitter and stayed in the game at third base. ... Seattle RHP Tony Zych has been shut down for the season with a strain of his right elbow flexor bundle, an injury he suffered in August. ... The Mariners lost an instant replay challenge on Marco Gonzales' attempted pickoff of Cleveland OF Tyler Naquin in the sixth inning. The delay for the replay was 2 minutes, 35 seconds. ... The Indians won their challenge on a Francisco Lindor grounder that 1B Yonder Alonso muffed before 2B Robinson Cano scooped it and threw to first. Lindor was ruled safe after a 32-second delay.

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Red Sox 5 vs. 0 Reds Final Recap

Red Sox blank hapless Reds

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Saturday, September 23 at 8:29 PM (EDT)

CINCINNATI -- The Boston Red Sox still have plenty of decisions to make in terms of their postseason pitching staff. But, left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is pitching himself into the conversation.

Mitch Moreland hit a three-run home run and Rodriguez allowed only three hits through 7 2/3 innings, lifting the Red Sox to a 5-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday afternoon at Great American Ball Park.

The win reduced Boston's magic number to five to clinch the American League East title. The Red Sox (90-64) lead the New York Yankees by four games.

"We're playing good ball," Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez said. "We're getting on base. Getting clutch hits."

The Yankees defeated Toronto 5-1 on Saturday to clinch a wild-card spot.

Rodriguez (6-6) had six strikeouts and walked two.

It was his longest outing since May 21. Rodriguez has made six straight quality starts on the road and four consecutive starts of two earned runs or fewer.

"He maintained his stuff all the way through seven innings," Boston manager John Farrell said. "He used three pitches at both sides of the plate. Using his secondary pitches to make the fastball even better."

Cincinnati (66-89) committed two errors and had a passed ball while losing its fifth straight game.

Rookie right-hander Robert Stephenson (5-6) made his 10th start of the season for the Reds and was charged with two earned runs in six innings.

Xander Bogaerts led off Saturday's game with a double and advanced to third on a passed ball by Tucker Barnhart. Bogaerts scored on a sacrifice fly by Brock Holt to put the Red Sox ahead 1-0.

Rodriguez did not allow a hit until Joey Votto's single with one out in the fourth.

"He's very comfortable on the mound," Vazquez said. "He has a good feeling out there. We're on the same page. (Three times) I just put down whatever you want to throw."

Boston's defense helped Rodriguez out.

Votto was thrown out trying to reach second after his single by Andrew Benintendi.

It was Benintendi's 11th outfield assist this season, tying him for third in the American League.

Scooter Gennett singled leading off the fifth to extend his hitting streak to a season-high seven games. But, he was erased on an inning-ending 3-6-3 double play.

Stephenson's fielding error on Holt's grounder back to the mound opened the floodgates in the sixth.

Benintendi walked, then Moreland followed with a three-run blast to center, putting Boston ahead 4-0.

It was Moreland's 20th homer of the season, and it snapped a 0-for-19 skid.

"He threw a changeup that split the plate in half, top of the zone," Moreland said. "I got the barrel on it. It gave us some breathing room."

Reds manager Bryan Price believed Stephenson's error on a routine grounder, contributed to his poor location on the Moreland homer.

"That's one the challenges of this game when you make a mistake, get beyond it," Price said. "That's part of the game. It can linger. That's not an excuse. That may have had nothing to do with what followed."

Benintendi, a Cincinnati area native, prompted cheers from his hometown fans with an RBI single in the seventh to make the score 5-0.

Reds right-hander Luke Farrell, son of the Red Sox manager, pitched the ninth inning, marking the first time a major-league player has faced his manager father since the Chicago Cubs' Moises Alou faced his dad, Felipe's San Francisco Giants, in 2004.

Farrell walked two in a scoreless frame, then offered a subtle tip of his cap toward his dad in the dugout as he walked off.

"There was a lot of internal conflict going on there," John Farrell said. "It was somewhat surreal. It's a proud day. Class move by Bryan (Price) to put him in there."

NOTES: Boston Red Sox RF Mookie Betts was scratched from the lineup with a left foot contusion. Betts fouled a pitch off the top of his foot in his second at-bat on Friday, according to manager John Farrell. Brock Holt started in RF. Betts is expected back in the lineup on Sunday. ... Cincinnati Reds CF Billy Hamilton was given a day off on Saturday. He returned to the lineup Friday after missing 13 games with a fractured left thumb. ... The Reds honored RHP Bronson Arroyo prior to Saturday's game. He is retiring following the season after 14 seasons, including three with the Red Sox.

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Twins 10 vs. 4 Tigers Final Recap

Granite's HR highlights 8-run eighth as Twins rout Tigers

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Sunday, September 24 at 12:15 AM (EDT)

DETROIT -- A big inning was big for the surging Minnesota Twins.

Minnesota scored eight times in the eighth inning Saturday night, capped by rookie Zach Granite's three-run homer, to earn a come-from-behind 10-4 victory over Detroit that was the Tigers' sixth straight loss.

The Twins lead Texas, Kansas City and the Los Angeles Angels by 4 1/2 games for the American League's second wild-card spot.

"That's a really good win," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It didn't look particularly good. (Tigers' starter Matthew) Boyd's been on a good run. He had us baffled a little bit.

"Doz (Brian Dozier) had the bunt to lead off the game. ... He got another single but I think we only had two hits going into the seventh inning before we got the double and the single to cut it to one."

Ervin Santana (16-8) gave up four straight hits at the start of the game but only three thereafter in his seven innings, during which he struck out five and didn't walk a batter. Santana retired 18 of 20 after the first inning.

"Give Ervin a lot of credit," Molitor said. "It looked like he had a little rough start. He didn't catch many breaks. Couple balls painted down the right field line. Couple other things that happened.

"But he settled in really nicely and other than the changeup he kind of left up for (Efren) Navarro he had a solid seven innings for us.

"I'm glad we're able to pick up a win for the team first and get another for Ervin in his win column too."

Alan Busenitz pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and Gabriel Moya the ninth to finish the win and make Minnesota's lead in the American League second wild-card chase four games over Texas, which played later Saturday. Moya gave up Navarro's second home run of the game leading off the ninth.

Tigers reliever Alex Wilson took a line drive single by Joe Mauer off his right leg to start the eighth, threw one warm-up pitch and crumpled to the ground. He limped off the field with help and was replaced by Daniel Stumpf. X-Rays showed a non-displaced fracture of near Wilson's right ankle.

"It was numb at first, and then it kinda felt warm," Wilson said. "I was walking around the mound to see whether or not I was going to be able to go. I squatted down, and was able to do that. Of course, it wasn't on the weight-bearing bone.

"So, really, it had no effect. Then I tried to throw a pitch, and I felt a pop. And, obviously, that was the end of the night. And, that's when the pain really started shooting through."

Jorge Polanco greeted Stumpf (0-1) with a single to right and Eddie Rosario forged a 3-3 tie with a single to left. Eduardo Escobar blooped an RBI single into right center to put Minnesota ahead, 4-3.

Reliever Joe Jimenez hit a batter and caught a line drive before giving up a two-run line single to center by Robbie Grossman, making it 6-3. The Twins got another run on a groundout to second by Jason Castro.

Granite, who pinch-ran for Mauer earlier in the inning, completed the eight-run inning by hitting his first major league home run, off Blaine Hardy. Granite's three-run blast went to right field.

Granite became the first Minnesota Twin to pinch-run and hit a home run in the same inning and the first major leaguer to do so since 2001.

"Unfortunate for them that their guy gets knocked out," Molitor said. "Not surprisingly Joe's the guy to get us going. That was a huge hit leading off the inning there and Polanco followed up with a good at-bat and Rosie. One after another, next thing you know we put eight up there."

The Twins cut the gap to 3-2 and chased Boyd in the seventh. Ehire Adrianza, an early sub for injured Max Kepler, doubled to left center with one out and scored when Grossman followed with a single.

Boyd, in his first start since his near no-hitter Sunday, lasted 6 2/3 innings and allowed two runs on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts. The first run he allowed was unearned.

"He's been outstanding," Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said of his lefty. "He's been much better since he cleaned up his mechanics. The last two outings have been superb. He got us deep in the game. We just had trouble getting the ball to (closer Shane) Greene."

Navarro entered the game when Miguel Cabrera left after one inning with a lower back strain. He cranked a high changeup into the seats in right for his first home run to put the Tigers ahead, 3-1, with one out in the sixth.

Detroit opened its half of the first with four straight hits good for a 2-1 lead against Santana. Ian Kinsler doubled to right and scored on a ground single to right by Alex Presley. Cabrera blooped a single near the line in right and Nicholas Castellanos plopped an RBI single into short left.

Dozier gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead to open the game with a bunt single to third on which he ended up scoring when Jeimer Candelario threw the ball past first for a three-base error. The error was his fourth in nine games.

NOTES: Tigers OF Mikie Mahtook's return this season is doubtful after he was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain suffered Friday night, a recurrence of an injury that struck him earlier this month. ... Twins manager Paul Molitor says RHP Bartolo Colon is set to open Minnesota's three-game series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. ... RHP Jeff Ferrell of Detroit, struck on the head by a line drive Monday night, remains in MLB's concussion protocol with no time set for a possible return. ... RF Max Kepler was removed from Saturday night's game after one inning and being examined for a left hip injury.

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Cardinals 6 vs. 11 Pirates Final Recap

Pirates hit Cardinals with 8-run first in 11-6 win

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Saturday, September 23 at 11:59 PM (EDT)

PITTSBURGH -- A breakout on offense allowed the Pittsburgh Pirates to put a little dent in the St. Louis Cardinals' push for a playoff spot.

Pittsburgh used an eight-run first inning Saturday and pounded out 14 hits for an 11-6 win at PNC Park

"Good to get the win and get our offense out of a little log jam and score a bunch of runs, give our pitchers a little break and it was a good win all the way around," said Pittsburgh shortstop Jordy Mercer, who was 3-for-3 with four RBIs and two runs.

"It was just what we needed."

It was not what the Cardinals needed.

St. Louis (81-73), which had its winning streak stopped at four, fell a half-game behind second-place Milwaukee and remained five behind the first-place Chicago Cubs in the National League Central,

The Cardinals were 1 1/2 games out of a wild-card spot after Colorado also lost on Saturday.

David Freese added three RBIs and Starling Marte added two RBIs for Pittsburgh (70-85), which is reduced to a spoiler role.

The eight-run first, when Pittsburgh sent 12 players to the plate and took an 8-2 lead, was highlighted by Mercer's two-run triple, Marte's RBI triple, Freese's leadoff double and four singles.

St. Louis starter Lance Lynn (11-8) was charged with all eight runs, six that crossed the plate while he was on the mound and two that Josh Lucas inherited.

Lynn's pitching line was like something from a nightmare -- eight runs and six hits with two walks and a strikeout in two-thirds of an inning. He has one win in his past nine starts.

"There was a couple balls up, and then a couple things didn't go my way," Lynn said. "Unfortunately, that happens some nights. Usually, I'm able to get through it. Tonight it just kind of snowballed.

"It's that time of year where you feel good. I'm just happy I feel good, but I've got to hone it back in and make quality pitches."

Pittsburgh bumped its lead to 10-3 through five innings before St. Louis scored three in the sixth -- including tying a major league record by using six pinch hitters in the inning -- to close to 10-6.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny wasn't conceding the game by using all the subs.

"We've got a group of guys (on the bench) that have been working really hard," he said. "Get a couple young guys in there, give (others) a little time off, but also give them an opportunity, and they made something happen."

Freese added an RBI double in the eighth to make it 11-6.

Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole (12-11) allowed five runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings with one walk and five strikeouts to break an 0-3 streak at home. He had received just five runs of support in his previous five starts, totaling 32 innings, but had plenty Saturday to help overshadow a game in which he struggled a little.

"He's done that throughout the year," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's made the next pitch, faced the next batter. There hasn't been any overreaction."

St. Louis' first inning looked promising with Tommy Pham hitting his 22nd homer, a two-run shot to dead center, but that was dwarfed by what the Pirates did in the bottom of the inning.

Pittsburgh's key hit that inning came from Mercer. He stepped to the plate with a 3-2 lead, the bases loaded and one out. He looped the ball into shallow center, where Dexter Fowler raced in and dived forward but missed, letting the ball get behind him.

"He's got to try and catch it, so he made a good effort," Matheny said. "Unfortunately, it ended up clearing the bases."

It appeared that Mercer might have a shot at an inside-the-park grand slam, but he had to hold up at third with a still-impressive bases-clearing triple.

"Definitely was thinking about it," Mercer said of the slam.

The Cardinals made it 8-3 on Pham's RBI double in the third, but Pittsburgh answered in the bottom of the third against Adam Wainwright when Marte's sacrifice fly made it 9-3.

The Pirates reached double figures in the fifth on Mercer's RBI double, making it 10-3 before St. Louis drew a little closer.

"They were pretty locked in throughout the whole game," Cole said of the Cardinals. "They made it tough for us. Fortunately, we just scored more than they did."

NOTES: St. Louis 1B Jose Martinez, who left Friday in the seventh because of a sprained left thumb, had tests in St. Louis that showed no serious damage, manager Mike Matheny said. ... Matt Carpenter moved from 3B to 1B for the Cardinals, with Jedd Gyorko returning to his normal spot at 3B. ... Pittsburgh OF Jordan Luplow was named the organization's minor league player of the year and LHP Steven Brault the minor league pitcher of the year.

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Rays 9 vs. 6 Orioles Final Recap

Odorizzi's nine strikeouts highlight Rays' win over Orioles

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Sunday, September 24 at 12:27 AM (EDT)

BALTIMORE -- Tampa Bay bashed its way into the franchise record books to keep its slim playoff hopes alive. That was more than enough for starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi.

In a 9-6 victory over Baltimore that knocked the Orioles out of playoff contention, Odorizzi turned in his second consecutive dominant performance, striking out a season-high nine batters.

Lucas Duda matched his career-high with his 30th home run of the season. It marked the 217th of the season for the Rays, which set the franchise record. Logan Morrison added a solo home run on the first pitch in the ninth inning to run the total to 218.

Tampa Bay (76-79) remained five games behind the Minnesota Twins for the second American League wild-card spot with seven games to play.

"Good win," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Jake threw the ball well, even after the first inning when he threw 30 pitches if not right on it. He came back, settled in, threw a good ballgame for us. He made some big pitches."

Before one of the largest crowds of the season at Camden Yards (42,802), the Orioles (74-82) lost for the sixth time in seven games to fall out of the postseason chase.

Trailing 9-1 entering the bottom of the ninth, the made things interesting with a five-run rally. But that could not save them from their 14th loss in 17 games.

"That's something I'll have to look at now," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of being eliminated from the playoff race. "I haven't looked at any of that stuff."

Duda gave the Rays a 3-1 lead with two outs in the top of the third by lining a 3-2 pitch from Orioles starter Jeremy Hellickson over the right-field wall.

The homer followed back-to-back singles by No. 9 hitter Adeiny Hechavarria and leadoff man Kevin Kiermaier. Hellickson had retired the first eight batters prior to that flurry of hits.

The Rays added two more runs in the seventh off reliever Richard Bleier on an RBI single by Wilson Ramos and a sacrifice fly to right by Hechavarria that scored Steven Souza Jr. They added four more in the ninth, including Morrison's 37th home run of the season.

That was more than enough for Odorizzi (10-8, 4.26 ERA), the 27-year-old who was making his 27th start of the season for the Rays. Over six innings, he allowed an unearned run on three hits and walked only two.

"The change-up was a big key tonight," he said. "I was able to throw it effectively and get a lot of good movement on it. It's been kind of hit or miss all year. So, it was nice to have one of my major weapons back, and I used it to my advantage tonight."

Since the start of 2016, Odorizzi has allowed three hits or fewer in 18 starts, the most in the American League over that span. Last Sunday night, he had a no-hitter through five innings before giving up a leadoff homer to Jackie Bradley Jr. in the sixth, the only hit Odorizzi allowed on his way to the win.

"These last four starts have been really good, probably the best I've thrown in maybe my career," Odorizzi said. "I finally feel good. It (stinks) that it's September. I wish it was July, see what kind of happens. It's always nice to have health being on your side to end the year."

Hellickson pitched well other than the one brief rough patch in the third inning. But that was enough to send him to his third consecutive loss and sixth in his last nine starts.

Hellickson (2-6, 6.97 ERA), facing his former team for the first time, allowed three runs and four hits, in addition to striking out four and walking one.

Hellickson, who pitched for the Rays from 2010-2014, has not won since an Aug. 25 road start against the Boston Red Sox.

"Besides those three (runs), I felt good," he said. "That's happened way too many times this year. Two outs, nobody on. I just can't get that third out for some reason."

Down to their last gasp, the Orioles batted around in the ninth inning off the Tampa Bay bullpen. They scored five runs before an out was recorded.

Eventually, Rays closer Alex Colome came on to record the final out and his 46th save of the season.

"To mount something there (in the ninth) and put a lot together and get the tying run to the plate, I think you probably could have taken a lot of bets," Showalter said. "That was good to see."

NOTES: The Rays improved to 8-7 against the Orioles in 2017 with four games remaining in the season series. ... Rays DH Logan Morrison hit his 27th home run of the season on the road to extend his American League lead and team record. ... Orioles RHP Jeremy Hellickson surrendered his 35th home run of the season, which is a career high. ... With one home game remaining, the Orioles fell to 45-35 this season at Camden Yards.

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Nationals 4 vs. 3 Mets Final Recap

Murphy homer lifts Nationals over Mets

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Sunday, September 24 at 12:24 AM (EDT)

NEW YORK -- Jacob Rhame has only been with his new team for three weeks, but it took him just six pitches Saturday night to learn what current and former New York Mets have known for two years: Daniel Murphy owns his former team.

Murphy continued to torment the Mets by hitting the tiebreaking homer leading off the 10th inning Saturday night to lift the Washington Nationals to a 4-3 win at Citi Field.

Murphy spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Mets and helped spark their run to the World Series in 2015 by hitting .421 with seven homers during the National League Division Series and NL Championship Series. But New York made no attempt to re-sign Murphy, who eventually inked a three-year deal with the Nationals in January 2016.

Since then, all Murphy has done is remind the Mets his October 2015 performance was no fluke. Murphy went 2-for-5 Saturday and is now hitting .390 with nine homers and 35 RBIs in 37 games against his former club.

"This was his prior home," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "I'm sure he has a lot of friends and people here, a lot of memories. So it's always good to come back to where you had success."

Rhame (0-1) was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 20 and promoted to the Mets on Sept. 1. He got ahead 1-2 in the count before Murphy stayed alive and fouled off a 2-2 slider. Murphy then hit Rhame's next pitch, another slider, well beyond the center field fence.

Baker and Murphy both believe getting most of Friday off -- Murphy flew out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning of the Nationals' 7-6 loss -- was an even bigger factor in the second baseman's most recent success against the Mets.

"Of all the guys on the team, a day off, you look at their averages (after a) day off, it really helps him and (Anthony) Rendon," Baker said.

Murphy, who has played in 138 of the Nationals' 154 games, is batting .309 (17-for-55) with four homers and 10 RBIs after a day off.

"I don't know what my numbers are, but I feel fresher," Murphy said. "I don't know if it leads to success, but he's done a great job here down the stretch of kind of managing our playing time. Hopefully we can sprint through the finish line of the regular season and into the Division Series."

Murphy's homer capped a comeback from a 3-0 deficit by the NL East champion Nationals (93-61), who are 4 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the race for the No. 1 seed in the NL.

The Mets (66-88) scored all their runs off Washington starter Stephen Strasburg in the third, when Brandon Nimmo hit an RBI double and Kevin Plawecki followed with a two-run single.

The Nationals chipped away in the fourth, when Adam Lind hit a two-run homer, and fifth, when Matt Wieters tied the game with a leadoff homer. Lind's round-tripper was the 200th of his career.

Strasburg and five relievers combined to 22 of the final 24 batters they faced. Sammy Solis (1-0) threw a perfect ninth inning and Sean Doolittle earned his 23rd save of the season, and his 20th since the Nationals acquired him from the Oakland Athletics on July 16, by working around a two-out walk in the 10th.

Strasburg allowed the three runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out six over five innings.

Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard started for the Mets and threw a scoreless inning in his first major league action since he tore his right lat against the Nationals on April 30. Syndergaard allowed one hit while throwing just five pitches.

"It was great to see him out there," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We're going to see how he feels tomorrow and the next day and we'll have him get himself ready, see if we can run him out there one more time."

Matt Harvey, making his first professional relief appearance, followed Syndergaard and gave up three runs on four hits over four innings.

"I was actually pretty nervous, I didn't really know what to do," Harvey said. "Noah threw, I think, five pitches and I had to check with (bullpen coach) Ricky Bones if I was going in or not."

Nori Aoki had two hits for the Mets.

NOTES: To make room for RHP Noah Syndergaard on the 40-man roster, the Mets transferred RHP Zack Wheeler (stress reaction in his right arm) to the 60-day disabled list. ... Before Saturday, Mets RHP Matt Harvey hadn't pitched in relief since his sophomore season at North Carolina in 2009. ... Nationals RF Bryce Harper (left knee) and OF Michael Goodwin (left groin) each participated in a simulated game Saturday. ... Nationals RHP Shawn Kelley (right forearm) will undergo what Baker called "extensive testing" early next week. Kelley left Friday's game with numbness in his right arm.

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Phillies 2 vs. 4 Braves Final Recap

Braves rally past Phillies with three-run eighth

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Saturday, September 23 at 11:20 PM (EDT)

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves have long been eliminated from playoff consideration. But it hasn't stopped the club from continuing to weave its late-inning magic.

On Saturday, the Braves collected their league-leading 20th win in their last at-bat. And it was the rookies who came through to produce the win.

Rookie Johan Camargo delivered a pinch-hit double with two outs in the eighth inning to drive in two runs and give the Braves a 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night at SunTrust Park.

"It's important for me to put in the work ethic day in and day out," Camargo said. "The other thing is I try to stay as healthy as I can and be consistent."

The Braves rallied to score three times in the eighth against reliever Luis Garcia. Matt Adams opened with a one-out single and rookie pinch-runner Micah Johnson stole second and scored on rookie Dansby Swanson's single, tying the score at 2.

Swanson went to second on the throw and rookie Rio Ruiz was intentionally walked. Both advanced on a wild pitch and scored easily when Camargo lined a 1-2 pitch in the gap in right.

The winning pitcher was left-hander Rex Brothers (4-3), who worked a scoreless eighth inning. Arodys Vizcaino pitched the ninth and struck out the side for his 13th save.

Atlanta has won four consecutive games over the Phillies after starting the season 12-2 against Philadelphia.

Garcia (2-5) had not allowed a run in his last 12 1/3 innings and gave up multiple runs in one inning for the first time since Aug. 3.

"Luis got behind on the hitters and didn't throw quality strikes," Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's had some good moments and some bad moments like tonight. When you're pitching in a clutch situation like that, you can't fall behind hitters. You've got to get ahead of hitters."

Phillies starter Henderson Alvarez pitched five shutout innings but failed to pick up his first victory in three years when the bullpen was unable to hold the lead. Alvarez was seeking his first major league win since Sept. 23, 2014, when he beat the Philadelphia Phillies while a member of the Miami Marlins.

"Alvarez pitched through five innings, got through it," Mackanin said. "Didn't give up a run. Ball had some movement on it, he changed speeds."

The veteran right-hander pitched five shutout innings in his second start since being recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He gave up five runs and walked three (one intentionally) and struck out two.

"That's the way baseball is sometimes," Alvarez said. "There are some things you cannot control. Just go out there and try your best."

Atlanta starter Julio Teheran received no decision. He pitched seven innings and allowed two runs (one earned), seven hits and one walk with five strikeouts. In his last six starts, Teheran has not allowed more than three runs.

"I think it was huge to be able to get out of that (seventh) inning," he said. "I wanted to try my best. I gave up one run early, but I was trying to keep the score low. I knew the guys would get some runs later."

The Braves got their first run when Ruiz hit his fourth homer in the sixth inning off Kevin Siegrist.

The Phillies got a run in the first inning. Nick Williams had a two-out single and came around to score when Rhys Hoskins doubled off the fence in center field.

Philadelphia added a run in the fifth without hitting the ball out of the infield. Maikel Franco reached on an infield single and J.P. Crawford walked. Both advanced on an infield out and Franco scored a passed ball.

The Braves had the bases loaded in the fourth inning and runners on the corners in the fifth but failed to score.

NOTES: Philadelphia broke a club record by allowing its 215th home run. The previous record was set in 2004. Kevin Siegrist allowed the tiebreaker, which was hit by Atlanta's Rio Ruiz. ... Atlanta CF Ender Inciarte had a double and needs five more hits to reach 200. ... Atlanta 1B Freddie Freeman was sick with a stomach virus and out of the lineup on Saturday. ... Atlanta signed C Kurt Suzuki to a one-year, $3.5 million contract for 2018. The club has a $4 million option on C Tyler Flowers, which the club expected to exercise. .. Atlanta signed Korean SS Jihwan Bae. He was at SunTrust Park and met with fellow countryman Hyn Soo Kim of the Phillies before the game. Bae is likened to a left-handed Trea Turner. ... Sunday will be the final game of the season at SunTrust Park. The Braves are 37-43 in their new home.

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Royals 8 vs. 2 White Sox Final Recap

Duffy pitches Royals past White Sox

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Saturday, September 23 at 11:30 PM (EDT)

CHICAGO -- Left-hander Danny Duffy figures to make one more start for the Kansas City Royals before the regular season ends.

His latest effort helped sustain the Royals' faint aspirations to go beyond that and return to the postseason for the first time since 2015.

Duffy pitched six-plus strong innings to finally solve a familiar foe, helping the Royals to an 8-2 win against the Chicago White Sox and keep Kansas City's American League wild-card hopes alive.

Kansas City (76-78) remained 4 1/2 games behind the Minnesota Twins for the second AL wild-card spot while pulling even with Anaheim. Texas, playing late at Oakland, was one-half game ahead of the Royals when Saturday's game ended.

"Just keep pushing," Duffy said. "I mean, there's crazier things that have happened in this game. We want to continue to try to finish strong and worry about next year when next year comes."

Duffy pitched into the seventh inning, allowing two runs on two hits with two strikeouts and two walks. He was 0-3 with a 9.56 ERA in three earlier starts against the White Sox this season, yielding at least five runs each time.

"Historically, I've done well here," Duffy said. "This has been a rough year for me. They've seen me, so they're incredibly tough to punch out and they're hard to finish off, so hats off to them. Tonight, we were able to make some pitches in some tough spots, and my changeup was really working for me tonight, and everything felt great. I just felt like I was in rhythm, big time."

Whit Merrifield smacked a bases-clearing double in the seventh inning to break things open for Kansas City. The White Sox (62-92) struggled to mount an attack after Jose Abreu hit an RBI single against Duffy (9-9) in the first inning. Abreu added a run-scoring groundout in the seventh for his club-leading 100th RBI. Abreu joined Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols as the only players with at least 25 home runs and 100 RBIs in their first four major league seasons.

Speaking through a team translator, Abreu praised the White Sox front office, teammates and fans for their support.

"This organization was the one that made possible my mom's dream for me to play in the majors," Abreu said.

White Sox right-hander Dylan Covey (0-7) retired the first seven Royals he faced before Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar singled with one out in the third inning. Greater trouble surfaced one inning later as the Royals erased an early one-run deficit with a two-out rally in the fourth.

Salvador Perez doubled to score Eric Hosmer from first base before Perez scored on a Mike Moustakas single. Alex Gordon added to the lead in the fifth, hitting an opposite-field, solo home run against Covey with one out.

Covey made his 17th career major league appearance and 11th start, all this season. Covey spaced three runs, five hits, three strikeouts and one walk in six innings, his longest outing since also working six innings in a May 18 no-decision at Seattle.

"That was, I think, my fourth start against (the Royals)," Covey said. "I'm familiar with their hitters a little bit. I feel like the more a pitcher faces a hitter, the pitcher gets the advantage a little bit, more so than the hitter might."

Hosmer, Perez, Gordon and Brandon Moss had two hits apiece for the Royals. Perez doubled twice and had two RBI.

Matt Davidson had two hits for the White Sox and their only extra-base hit, a double.

The White Sox loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh, but left-hander Scott Alexander pitched out of the jam, sandwiching two strikeouts around the Abreu groundout.

"That was huge for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "All our relievers pitched well tonight."

Game time temperature was 91 degrees, but several players, including Escobar, seemingly felt right at home.

Heat and humidity are the norm in his native Venezuela this time of year.

"It's just like this; 85, 90 (degrees)," Escobar said.

The White Sox fell to 10-12 in September and are aiming to finish a rebuilding season with a winning record in the final month. Manager Rick Renteria lauded a consistent effort and clubhouse vibe among players, key elements he feels have buoyed the White Sox throughout 2017.

NOTES: Royals C Salvador Perez returned to the lineup after leaving Friday's game as a precautionary measure when he was hit by a foul tip. "It was more his neck got a little sore last night, a little stiff," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "But he's fine." ... White Sox SS Tim Anderson extended his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games when he singled to lead off the fourth inning. ... White Sox LHP Carlos Rodon, out for the remainder of the season with an injured throwing shoulder, said the club still is working to determine the extent of his injury. Rodon said he could not answer whether offseason shoulder surgery could be a possibility.

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Sunday, September 24, 2017
National Football League
Raiders vs. Redskins 8:30 (EDT) Preview

Rolling Raiders set for national stage versus Redskins

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Wednesday, September 20 at 9:49 PM (EDT)

LANDOVER, Md. -- The Oakland Raiders are rolling. Now they will try to improve to 3-0 in front of a national television audience.

After scoring a league-high 71 points in wins over the Tennessee Titans and New York Jets, Oakland travels to face the Washington Redskins in the Week 3 Sunday night game.

Washington, after losing to the Eagles at home in Week 1, calmed nerves in the nation's capital a bit when they went out to the West Coast and defeated the Los Angeles Rams.

The Redskins, usually pass heavy under coach Jay Gruden, rushed for 229 yards in the 27-20 victory, with three backs rushing for at least 67 yards (Rob Kelley, 78; Chris Thompson, 77; and Samaje Perine, 67). Thompson scored twice, including a 61-yard run, and has three touchdowns (one receiving) in two games.

Kelley left with a rib cartilage injury and was limited in practice Wednesday. Gruden is reluctant to give too many carries to the 5-8 Thompson, so rookie Perine may get a lot of work Sunday night, with Thompson remaining in his third-down role.

"Good player. You can hand it to him, you can toss it to him, you could throw him the football out of the backfield. He's been good," Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said of Thompson.

"In fact, all three backs have been productive for them behind that line. The line is doing a nice job blocking -- good design. They've done a nice job. They've run the ball as well as anybody in the league to start the year."

Washington's passing game is still not in synch. Quarterback Kirk Cousins was average (18 of 27 for 179 yards and one touchdown) Sunday, but he was 3 for 3 on what proved to be the game-winning drive, including a 23-yard completion to Terrelle Pryor and an 11-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Grant.

"Got off rhythm a couple times, but I liked the way he finished," Gruden said of Cousins. "That's the important thing. Getting a win on the road is not easy, anywhere, anytime. And making the key throws down the stretch, going 3 for 3 on that last drive was critical."

The Raiders have also been running well behind one of the best offensive lines in the league. Through two games, the Raiders' starters up front have been called for only two penalties.

Against the Jets, Oakland rushed for 180 yards and Derek Carr was 23 of 28 for 230 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, and was not sacked.

"It's still early," left tackle Donald Penn said. "You've got to sustain it. It ain't about doing it in the beginning. You've got to go 16 weeks with it. Hopefully we are going 17, 18, 19 weeks with it."

Carr ranks third in the league with a 126.5 passer rating (Cousins is 22nd at 82.9), and the Raiders have zero turnovers in two games.

Oakland's offense is ranked fourth, averaging 384.5 yards after two games, while Washington is 14th, gaining 324.5 yards per outing.

After gaining 76 yards in the opener, running back Marshawn Lynch finished with 12 carries for 45 yards versus the Jets.

"He really looks rusty, I'll tell you," Gruden joked Wednesday. "No, he's fun to watch. You don't like to say that about other people, but it's actually fun and terrifying to watch him at the same time."

Neither defense is in the top half, but Oakland is 18th (310.5 yards per game) and Washington is 27th (344).

"They're a good team. That, I think, breeds confidence. Success creates more success," Cousins said of the Raiders' defense. "(Defensive end) Khalil Mack is as good as they come in the NFL and (linebacker) Bruce Irvin I've played against when he was in Seattle and he's a very active player, both in the pass game and in the run game. Very athletic in space. Obviously we know (former Redskin cornerback) David Amerson and the player that he's become."

The Redskins' defense is still struggling on third down, allowing a 50 percent conversion rate.

Oakland punter Marquette King is averaging 54 yards (51.3 net) on six kicks.

Kelley is not the only banged up Redskin. Tight end Jordan Reed (rib/sternum) did not practice. Limited were safety Deshazor Everett (knee), cornerback Mason Foster (shoulder), tackle Morgan Moses (ankle/shoulder), safety Montae Nelson (shoulder) and cornerback Josh Norman (hamstring).

The team may activate safety Fish Smithson.

And the team now knows safety Su'a Cravens won't be coming back. The 22-year-old was placed on the NFL's reserve/left squad list this week, meaning he cannot return this season as he contemplates retiring.

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Ravens vs. Jaguars 9:30 (EDT) Preview

Ravens, Jaguars gear up for London

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Wednesday, September 20 at 8:00 PM (EDT)

The Baltimore Ravens are playing their first-ever NFL International Series game in London on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are making their fifth appearance overseas.

The Ravens are treating the event as a "business trip" and looking to open the season 3-0 for the second consecutive year. Jacksonville (1-1) is trying to rebound from a 37-17 drubbing by the Tennessee Titans in Week 2.

"We're both playing in London. We're going against the Jaguars," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "They have to go over there, as well. We're going over there to win a football game -- that's it. We're not thinking about too much else besides that."

The Jaguars do have somewhat of an advantage just from the experience of playing previous games in London. The players who competed in those games are providing their teammates with tips on how to get acclimated to the environment.

The game will be played Sunday at 9:30 a.m. EST, so that will be a major adjustment for both teams.

"We talked to the players that haven't been there before to talk to our older players, about a routine," Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. "It's just knowing how to get your body prepared and ready to play. We've encouraged our younger players who haven't been there to make sure they talk to the players that have been with our team on how to hydrate or whatever it may be that we do."

Baltimore will be playing without six-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda, who was ruled out for the season with an ankle fracture following a 24-10 win over the Browns in Week 2. Yanda's absence could be a key factor against Jacksonville, which leads the league with 11 sacks over two games.

Tony Bergstrom is slated to start in Yanda's spot at right guard. Bergstrom will have his hands full with Jaguars defensive tackle Calais Campbell, who is tied with Dallas' DeMarcus Lawrence for the league-lead with four sacks.

"(They're) definitely a talented group," Bergstrom said about Jacksonville. "There's no question about that, by far one of the more talented groups we'll face this year. They've kind of always been that way. They have really good players up front, then they added Calais Campbell in the offseason, so they present a unique challenge."

Baltimore also has a fierce defense, and leads the league in takeaways.

Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles will be challenged to throw the ball downfield. Over the first two games, Baltimore has eight interceptions, two forced fumble recoveries, eight sacks and has allowed only 10 points.

The Ravens might be without top defensive tackle Brandon Williams, who injured his foot against Cleveland. Baltimore did get a boost with the return of linebacker Za'darius Smith, who missed the previous game with an ankle/knee injury.

"We want to be a ferocious defense," said Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, will play in his 200th career game Sunday. "We want to be a pressure defense. The standard is very high."

Bortles has struggled through parts of this season, going 31 of 55 for 348 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions (72.4 passer rating). The loss of top receiver Allen Robinson to a season-ending knee injury has hampered the offense.

Jaguars center Brandon Linder did not practice Wednesday because of a knee injury, and that would be an additional hurdle for Bortles if he cannot play. Jacksonville might have to rely heavily running back Leonard Fournette against the Ravens, who are allowing 85 rushing yards per game.

"I know for a fact it is going to be a challenging one," Fournette said. "They have a lot of veteran guys. Terrell Suggs is the leader on the D-line. We just have to get past those guys. Also, their linebacking corps is another magnificent part of their defense. Just working our way through C.J. Mosley and them, it is going to be a battle."

This is the 21st regular-season meeting between the teams with the Jaguars leading series, 11-9. The Ravens and Jaguars teams were former division rivals in the AFC Central until 2001.

Jacksonville won the first eight meetings. Baltimore then responded with six consecutive victories from 2000 until 2003. The teams have split their past six games.

The Ravens won last year's meeting 19-17 with some big plays by the defense. Baltimore is hoping for an encore performance.

"It is always a business trip, and we know why we are there," Mosley said. "We know the Jacksonville Jaguars pretty well. The last few years we have had some pretty close games. We have to go in mentally prepared for a physical fight, even though we have to enjoy our time together with our family and our teammates."

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Broncos vs. Bills 1:00 (EDT) Preview

Bills could run into more trouble against Broncos' defense

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Thursday, September 21 at 12:22 AM (EDT)

After a Week 2 stumble, the Buffalo Bills are looking to get their running game going again Sunday in Orchard Park, N.Y. Standing in their way will be the Denver Broncos.

Buffalo (1-1) was held without a touchdown last week in a 9-3 loss to Carolina, and the Bills' running game went nowhere. LeSean McCoy went from 110 yards rushing in a season-opening win over the New York Jets to 9 yards on a dozen carries against the Panthers.

Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor believes the offensive fix can be quick, though Buffalo will oppose a Denver defense that shut down Ezekiel Elliott in a 42-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys last week. Elliott, last year's NFL rushing champion, gained 8 yards on nine carries vs. the Broncos (2-0).

"Last week was just a case where we didn't get the running game going," Taylor said of the Bills' typical potent running attack. "That's not going to be the case every week."

McCoy said the Bills must stay patient with their running game even if they don't have initial success against the Broncos' stout defense.

"We need to just stay true to our keys and our identity," McCoy said. "If we get back in points and we're down, just stay with it. The Cowboys kind of went to the passing game so early because they stopped (Elliott) a few times in the running game and they got down on points.

"The Broncos are a tough group, they really are. I think you just have to keep being consistent, running your plays, and you have to keep to your identity. You can't change because of how the game's going because they'll make plays. They're a good defense. They're going to make plays, and you just have to keep at it."

Denver coach Vance Joseph said in many ways Buffalo's offense poses similar challenges to the offense the Broncos just faced in the Cowboys, a big, physical group that leans on the run to drive the attack.

"It's an offense that's built to run the football, starting with McCoy," Joseph said. "He's a special, special runner with the football. Offensive-line wise, it's a big, big, physical line that's a nasty, aggressive group.

"Their quarterback also poses a threat with his legs. He's a passer first, but if the play breaks down, his scrambling ability is a concern."

Safety Darian Stewart said the Broncos' defense isn't fazed by facing two of the NFL's top running backs in consecutive weeks.

"That's the life in the league," Stewart said. "You're going to play a high-profile back every week. We're looking forward to the challenge. He's a shifty back, but we look forward to it."

Taylor said of going up against Denver cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris: "That's a battle each and every week. You face good corners each and every week. There's going to be one-on-one battles that we have to win. I have confidence in all the guys that line up at wide receiver for us, and we're going to make those one-on-one battles work in our favor."

While the Bills will be looking to rev up their offense, Buffalo's defense figures to have its hands full against a Denver offense that showed both explosiveness and the ability to sustain drives in its beat-down of Dallas.

C.J. Anderson has rushed for 199 yards in the first two games to spearhead the league's top rushing attack. Second-year starting quarterback Trevor Siemian is tied for the league lead in touchdown passes with six.

"I had the chance to go against Trevor a year ago when I was with the Panthers in the opening game of the year," Bills coach Sean McDermott said. "I was impressed with him then. I continue to be impressed. He knows where to go with the football based on coverage looks. He gets in and out of plays at the line. He's efficient. They're very efficient that way."

Buffalo, meanwhile, could be without defensive end Shaq Lawson (foot) and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (ankle) this week. Also questionable was offensive tackle Cordy Glenn, who also is dealing with a foot injury.

For the Broncos, offensive tackle Garett Bolles is battling a lower leg injury that could prevent him from taking the field Sunday. Wide receiver Bennie Fowler III was in the concussion protocol this week, and his availability also was in question.

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Browns vs. Colts 1:00 (EDT) Preview

Browns-Colts Preview

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Wednesday, September 20 at 9:43 PM (EDT)

INDIANAPOLIS -- For head coach Chuck Pagano and his Indianapolis Colts, getting a win against the Cleveland Browns Sunday is crucial.

For the previous three seasons, the Colts began with an 0-2 record, yet they were able to post a win in the third game each year.

Indianapolis rebounded to go 11-5 in 2014 and make it all the way to the AFC championship game. Their fortunes haven't been as good the last two seasons, however, finishing with 8-8 marks and no trips to the post-season.

With that as a background, Pagano fully understands the importance of being successful against the Browns.

"We all understand the magnitude of (the game) and the urgency," the Colts coach stressed. "Cleveland needs a win and we need a win. We'll go back to work and prepare just like we did. But (we'll) try to do it better and clean up the things we need to clean up. It's a big week."

After subpar performance in the season-opening road loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis showed improvement against the Cardinals last week. Can that continue against Cleveland?

"We didn't get the job done 1/8vs. Arizona 3/8, but they responded. They responded with great effort and energy and a fast start. A lot of good things happened in that ball game. We got things to obviously clean up. And we've got to learn to finish and close it out," Pagano said.

"You've got opportunities sitting right there in front of you and you let people hang around in the National Football League, it's going to come back to haunt you. There are going to be six, seven or eight plays every game that determine the outcome of that game. You don't know when they're going to come. That's why you've got to be spot on all the time."

Indianapolis will have Jacoby Brissett starting his second straight game at quarterback, taking over from season-opening starter Scott Tolzien. Brissett did some good things in the loss to Arizona last week despite his relatively short time with the team.

"We'll just keep adding (to Brissett's play list), giving him what we can give him and not too much to where he starts thinking out there and he can't play and he can't be instinctive. Those kind of things," Pagano explained.

"He's a smart guy and he picks up things fast. It'll be good for everybody to expand 1/8the play calls 3/8, especially the situational stuff. That's not an easy task for him and coaching and calling it. You've got a rookie center and a new quarterback. The most important thing is communication up front and the protection. We'll keep working, adding as much as we can. We'll do just what we need to do and hopefully just enough to win a game."

SERIES HISTORY: 29th regular-season meeting. Series, tied 14-14. The Colts are 6-9 at home and 8-5 in away games in the series with the Browns. Indianapolis has won 10 of the previous 13 matchups, including seven of the last eight meetings between the two franchises. The Colts have won the two matchups (at Cleveland on Dec. 7, 2014, with Indianapolis posting a 25-24 win, as well as a 17-13 win at Lucas Oil Stadium against the Browns on Oct. 21, 2012). Cleveland's last win in Indianapolis occurred on Sept. 18, 2011 (27-19). The Colts were 1-5 against Cleveland at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, 4-3 at the Hoosier/RCA Dome and are 1-1 at Lucas Oil Stadium. On the road, the Colts were 5-7 at Municipal/Cleveland Stadium and are 5-0 at Cleveland Browns Stadium. The Colts and Browns have met four times in the post-season, including a 38-21 Cleveland home win on Jan. 9, 1988. The game marked the first-ever playoff appearance for the Indianapolis Colts.

Looking around the roster:

--Quarterback Andrew Luck (right shoulder) will not practice this week. Luck was already been ruled out of Sunday's game with Cleveland.

--Cornerback Vontae Davis (groin) was limited during Wednesday's workout. His availability for the Cleveland game won't be decided until the end of the week. Davis was hurt midway through pre-season and has not played since.

--Center Ryan Kelly (foot) did not practice Wednesday and is not expected to be ready to play. Rookie center Deyshawn Bond is expected to start his third straight game. Bond, an undrafted from agent from Cincinnati and an Indianapolis native, has filled in admirably.

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Buccaneers vs. Vikings 1:00 (EDT) Preview

Bucs know what to expect from Vikings' backup QB

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Friday, September 22 at 2:50 PM (EDT)

MINNEAPOLIS -- While Mike Zimmer ruled out quarterback Sam Bradford for the second consecutive week with a knee injury, Sunday's opponent isn't so sure Zimmer might be better off sticking with backup Case Keenum anyway.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who come to Minnesota on Sunday, have seen plenty of Keenum through the years and haven't enjoyed the experience.

Keenum has beaten Tampa Bay each of the last two seasons while playing for the Rams.

"We probably shouldn't be calling him a backup, because he's beat us two years in a row," Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter said Wednesday. "They might be better off with him playing. He seems to have our number. It looked like the Vikings ran their offense last week."

Bradford was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week after throwing for 346 yards and three touchdowns in a season-opening victory over the New Orleans Saints. But Bradford sustained a knee injury and couldn't play in a loss at Pittsburgh last week.

Keenum completed 20 of 37 passes for 167 yards in his place.

Bradford was a limited practice participant on Wednesday and Thursday before missing Friday's workout and being ruled out.

"He's doing good," Zimmer said earlier this week after jokingly asking himself how Bradford is doing.

Keenum will face a Tampa Bay defense that forced four turnovers in a 29-7 victory over the Chicago Bears last week, the Buccaneers' first game of the season after Week 1 was postponed because of Hurricane Irma.

Tampa Bay sacked Chicago's Mike Glennon only once but came up with two interceptions. The Buccaneers also recovered two fumbles and allowed the Bears only 20 rushing yards on 16 attempts.

"Up front, Gerald McCoy, one of the premier guys in this league," Keenum said of Tampa Bay's defense. "And the linebacking crew is fast guys who can play, and they're solid on the back end, too. So we've got our work cut out for us."

In the two wins over the Buccaneers the past two seasons, Keenum completed 65.12 percent of his passes for four touchdowns, one interception and a 118.8 quarterback rating.

Bradford was hopeful earlier in the week that he would be back under center for Minnesota.

"I would like to think that they're good, but a lot of it just depends on how my knee responds when we go out there and practice this week," Bradford said of his chances to play Sunday. "Hopefully, it'll continue to get better. I think a large part of that is how it responds."

Minnesota's offense, as a whole, struggled against Pittsburgh. Rookie running back Dalvin Cook had 12 carries for 64 yards after rushing for 127 yards in Week 1.

Koetter knows Cook's potential well. He said Wednesday that he looked at Cook "a lot" before the draft.

"He can run with power," Koetter said. "He can run with speed. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. He's demonstrated all of that the first two weeks of the season."

Zimmer sees similarities between his unit and the Buccaneers' defense.

"Scheme wise they're very similar, safeties are aggressive, linebackers are fast," Zimmer said. "Gerald McCoy is a great player at three-technique. Corners play a lot of off coverage, but they're in a lot of man-to-man. They're good. They're a turnover machine. They got four last week. That's kind of been their M.O. Last year same thing. They play fast and they play hard."

Zimmer's defense will have to contend with Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston and receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson a week after seeing Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and receivers Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant.

Brown was held to five catches for 62 yards. Bryant had the big game with 91 yards on only three catches and one touchdown.

"Whoever lines up against me, I'll have to be ready for," Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes told the team's website. "If I'm on DeSean, I'll have to do a lot of hamstring workouts. If I'm on Mike Evans, I'll have to get in the weight room."

Evans and Jackson didn't have to do much against Chicago and Winston threw for 204 yards. Tampa Bay ran for 117 yards and scored once on defense.

"We hope we can do that every game," Evans said Wednesday. "The defense, they're some savages. I love our defense."

McCoy didn't participate in Wednesday's practice because of an ankle injury and the Buccaneers were also without linebacker Kwon Alexander (hamstring) and defensive tackle Chris Baker (illness). Cornerback Brent Grimes (shoulder) was limited.

For Minnesota, linebacker Anthony Barr (hamstring) was limited in Wednesday's practice.

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Dolphins vs. Jets 1:00 (EDT) Preview

Jets face Cutler, Dolphins in home opener

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Wednesday, September 20 at 9:02 PM (EDT)

In March, Jay Cutler had just been released by the Chicago Bears and the New York Jets were looking for a new quarterback after letting Ryan Fitzpatrick go only a month earlier.

Many media members suggested Cutler and the Jets would be natural bedfellows, but Cutler opted for the TV booth and the Jets signed journeyman Josh McCown.

At that point, few thought Cutler would be leading the Miami Dolphins into MetLife Stadium for the Jets' home opener on Sunday. But here we are.

"He came up in conversation, but we went the way we went," Jets head coach Todd Bowles said about the possibility of his team signing the 34-year-old Cutler this spring.

Cutler came out of retirement when Ryan Tannehill tore his ACL in training camp and the always perplexing, occasionally amusing former Bears quarterback was introspective about how his time away from the game could affect his play.

"The good thing is I play quarterback, so I don't have to be in that great cardiovascular shape," Cutler said at his introductory press conference in Miami.

Cutler got some extra time to return to game shape. Unfortunately, it was due to a natural disaster.

Hurricane Irma postponed the Dolphins' Week 1 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and so the Dolphins opened their season last Sunday with a 19-17 win over the Chargers in Los Angeles after rookie kicker Younghoe Koo missed a 44-yard field goal attempt with five seconds left.

Cody Parkey hit a 54-yarder with 1:05 left, his fourth field goal of the game, to give Miami the lead.

"The people of Florida needed that," Dolphins guard Jermon Bushrod said after the game, referencing the damage Irma caused in south Florida.

The Dolphins and Jets are the only two AFC teams not to play a home game yet, but that will change for New York on Sunday after being outscored 66-32 in trips to Buffalo and Oakland.

The Jets, who are 0-2 for the first time since 2007, had massive problems containing LeSean McCoy of the Bills and Marshawn Lynch of the Raiders (and a few of their friends) in allowing a league-worst 370 rushing yards.

Things will get no easier for them this week taking on Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi, who ran for 122 yards and two touchdowns against the Chargers.

The 24-year-old out of Boise State, coming off a breakout season when he ran for 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns, surprisingly showed up on the injury report Wednesday with a knee issue that kept him out of practice. But he is still expected to play Sunday.

Bowles said Ajayi will be a challenge for his defense because of his "great vision (and) low center of gravity."

"He has his shoulders over his knees all the time," Bowles said. "He's a good one-cut runner. As you can see, very thick down low, breaks a lot of tackles."

Miami, which was a six-point favorite for the game as of Wednesday, also has two up-and-coming wide receivers who both had standout efforts last week. Like Ajayi, both are 24 years old.

Jarvis Landry caught 13 of 15 targets for 78 yards and DeVante Parker had four catches for 85 yards.

Landry also didn't practice Wednesday because of a knee injury, but he is expected to play.

Bowles, in his third season as Jets head coach, was interim head coach of the Dolphins for three games at the end of the 2011 season after Tony Sparano was fired. He went 2-1, including a win over the Jets on New Year's Day. He is 15-19 with the Jets.

Dolphins head coach Adam Gase is 11-7, including a playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, in his second season. Despite the Jets' struggles to start the season, the 39-year-old expects the game to be "a slugfest."

"This is a tough game," Gase said. "This is one of those where you throw everything out the window."

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Falcons vs. Lions 1:00 (EDT) Preview

Improved Lions' defense takes on Falcons

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Wednesday, September 20 at 10:02 PM (EDT)

The Detroit Lions rely heavily on the powerful right arm of Matthew Stafford. That's why they awarded him the richest contract in NFL history near the end of training camp.

Stafford has done his part in the team's first two games, but he's getting a surprising assist from the defense.

Stafford has thrown six touchdown passes, tying him for the league lead with Denver's Trevor Siemian. Detroit's defense has been just as productive in victories over Arizona and the New York Giants.

The Lions will face an even sterner test Sunday when they host the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons, who are also off to a 2-0 start.

Detroit snuck into the playoffs as a wild card last season without a lot of big plays from its defense. It had 26 sacks, tied for second-to-last in the league. The Lions forced only nine fumbles and made 10 interceptions, ranking in the bottom third in both categories.

Opponents have only scored 33 points against the Lions this year and one of the touchdowns was an interception return. The Lions have already collected six sacks, forced three fumbles and picked off four passes.

The Lions sacked Giants quarterback Eli Manning five times in a 24-10 Monday night victory, three by defensive end Ziggy Ansah.

"We've had some production there just in terms of collapsing the pocket and getting ourselves near and around the quarterback," Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. "(Monday) was one of those unusual days where you get five, but I do think that our guys are coming along. They've stepped up to the challenge for two weeks, but there's a third one looming, and a very good one at that.

"The minute you start talking about what you think you've gotten done in this league, you end up getting your ears kicked in."

Detroit's rushing offense, which finished last in the NFL a year ago, also showed some signs of life. The Lions gained 138 yards on the ground and averaged 4.3 yards per carry against the Giants. Lead back Ameer Abdullah picked up 86 yards on 17 carries.

"I think overall we performed better. Not quite where we want to be yet, but we're better," Caldwell said. "Ameer is getting back into his old form. He ran hard and guys were patient with the running game, so our offensive line did a nice job there creating some holes for us. But we still got a ways to go in that area."

The offense still revolves around Stafford, and Atlanta coach Dan Quinn notes that Stafford is adept at avoiding the rush.

"We'll have our work cut out for us, but you better be able to finish your rushes because he's not going to just stay where you want him to be," Quinn said. "He'll be in different spots, move, and be active.

"The last part of their offense that they don't talk about a lot is they have a very good screen game. It's something that they use actively. They've got runners that can catch it and wideouts that are good catch-and-run guys like Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr."

The Falcons have already defeated two NFC North opponents, squeaking past Chicago 23-17 in their opener and topping Green Bay 34-23 on Sunday night.

Quarterback Matt Ryan has completed 69 percent of his passes and thrown two touchdowns. Lead back Devonta Freeman has scored three times while averaging 3.9 yards per carry, and the receiving duo of Julie Jones and Mohamed Sanu has combined for 20 catches and 306 yards.

Atlanta has kept opposing defenses off balance by varying its looks.

"I think it's the personnel groups that also present some challenges because now there can be two backs in there," Quinn said. "We've shown four wide receiver sets and big packages. When you defend us, there are a lot of groups you have to go through. Then you add in the motions, shifts, and playing fast.

"It's a challenge, and we're really fortunate that Matt Ryan is able to get it on the ball with whatever comes his way."

The Falcons have shown a strong pass rush with seven sacks, but will go without top edge rusher Vic Beasley Jr. He has been declared out with a hamstring injury. Defensive lineman Courtney Upshaw (ankle) will also sit out.

Lions linebacker and first-round pick Jarrad Davis is going through the league's concussion protocol and is questionable to play.

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Giants vs. Eagles 1:00 (EDT) Preview

Giants look to rebound in Eagles' home opener

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Wednesday, September 20 at 9:27 PM (EDT)

PHILADELPHIA -- After splitting their first two games on the road, the Philadelphia Eagles will open their home schedule Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field against the desperate New York Giants, who dropped their first two games.

The Eagles, coming off a 7-9 season, opened the season with a victory at Washington before falling 27-20 last Sunday at Kansas City.

Philadelphia finished 6-2 at home last season and could improve to 2-0 in the NFC East with a win against the Giants.

Second-year coach Doug Pederson has been criticized throughout his brief tenure for a lack of balance on offense. In the seven-point loss to the Chiefs, quarterback Carson Wentz threw 46 passes. The Eagles ran the ball 13 times for a total of 52 yards.

In his rookie season, Wentz threw the ball a franchise-record 607 times.

In the offseason, the Eagles signed free agent running back LeGarrette Blount, who was a member of the New England Patriots team that won the Super Bowl last season. Blount went without a single carry against Kansas City after rushing for 46 yards on 14 carries against the Redskins.

"I still got a lot of confidence in him," Pederson told reporters, referring to Blount after the loss to the Chiefs. "And we'll find ways to get him on the field."

The run-pass ratio was a constant source of tension during Andy Reid's 14 years with the Eagles, and it has continued under Pederson, who was previously Reid's offensive coordinator in Kansas City.

"Yeah, I've got guys, we talk run-pass all the time during the game, especially first down, series start and first down earned during the game," Pederson told reporters. "And a lot of times, you get into the game and it starts to become situational and things change, as you know, and so -- but yeah, I've got guys in my ear all the time."

Even with the disparity, the Eagles recovered a late onside kick and had a chance to tie the game with a Hail Mary pass, but Wentz's pass was knocked away in the end zone. The Eagles trailed the entire fourth quarter, which was acknowledged in the aftermath of the loss.

"Even if it was a little bit out of proportion at that point, it gets -- it ends up looking worse," offensive coordinator Frank Reich told reporters. "And my experience is when you look around the league, it pretty much happens every week to one team or two teams are going to find themselves in the same kind of situation."

The Eagles could be short-handed defensively heading into the home opener, with cornerback Jaylen Watkins and safeties Rodney McLeod and Corey Graham struggling with hamstring injuries.

Pederson said at his Wednesday press conference that neither Watkins nor McLeod would be practicing. Graham showed up on the injury report later in the day.

The Giants went 11-5 last season and looked to be a contender in 2017, but they dropped to 0-2 after a disappointing 24-10 home loss to the Detroit Lions. Coach Ben McAdoo was critical of 14-year veteran and two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Eli Manning following the loss.

Manning completed 22 of 32 passes for 239 yards and one touchdown yet the offense looked dormant for much of the game.

"Hey, you lose games, you only score 10 points, you deserve some criticism," Manning said on WFAN Monday. "Coach McAdoo knows I can handle it."

McAdoo has been clearly perturbed after seeing his team fall to 0-2.

"Yeah, we can't keep doing the same thing over and over again," McAdoo said on a Tuesday conference call. "That's insanity. It's not working. So we are going to look to make some changes this week, like we did last week. Maybe it will be a little more drastic this week, to use your word. If that means me giving up play-calling duties, that's something we will look at, that we'll talk about. For personnel, jobs are won in this league, they are not given away. So somebody's got to win a job or take a job to get a job."

Giants All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. returned from an ankle injury to catch four passes for 36 yards against the Lions. It's unclear how much he'll contribute against the Eagles.

Another troubling sign for the Giants was the play of left tackle Ereck Flowers, who allowed three sacks. Flowers' status could be one of the changes looming Sunday which was alluded to by McAdoo.

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Saints vs. Panthers 1:00 (EDT) Preview

Winless Saints search for answers against Panthers

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Friday, September 22 at 3:53 PM (EDT)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers made the most of their limited offense through two games.

They might need more to defeat a New Orleans Saints team that often has good production against the Panthers.

The teams will meet Sunday afternoon at Bank of America Stadium in the first NFC South matchup for each this season.

The game is more critical for the Saints (0-2), who stumbled against the Minnesota Vikings and the New England Patriots.

"These guys are grown men, and they understand the sense of urgency we have to play with and we have to practice with now starting with two losses," New Orleans coach Sean Payton said.

The Panthers (2-0) haven't allowed a touchdown through two games, but they are waiting for their offense to click with more regularity. A 9-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills last Sunday was the result of three field goals.

"We've still given ourselves an opportunity," Carolina coach Ron Rivera said. "It's tough to win in the league when all you do is kick field goals."

The Panthers will try to pick up the production without All-Pro tight end Greg Olsen, who will be out for at least a couple of months after surgery for a broken right foot he sustained last weekend. That likely moves Ed Dickson into the role as the primary tight end.

Quarterback Cam Newton said Dickson won't hurt the offense. Instead, Newton is calling on himself to be more efficient after two games in which he misfired toward some open receivers.

"I just have to personally challenge myself that I have to be better and I will be better," Newton said.

The Panthers, though, are working through some snags with two victories to their credit. That makes it easier.

"I think with our veteran leadership, that is key," Newton said. "Offensively, guys believing in the plan and trusting in this whole process. We know everything is (not going) to be a walk in the park."

Dickson has been Olsen's backup, making him well known to Saints linebacker A.J. Klein, who is in his first season after playing as a backup with the Panthers.

"I think Ed is overlooked when it comes to tight ends," Klein said. "Ed is a big, strong guy and has better speed than most people think."

Newton has been quick to endorse Dickson as well.

"He's a diamond in the rough," Newton said. "I don't want to put too much on Ed, but he has been making plays for us -- very subtle over the years. That's why he has been somewhat of our unsung hero."

The Saints could use a hero of any sorts after a ragged beginning to the season.

"(Carolina) is a team that's playing with a lot of confidence," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said, "but we're just waiting to break the seal. I feel like it can be this week. I hope it's this week."

Klein, who played behind Luke Kuechly with Carolina, said the Saints are capable of doing better. He said he can't be distracted by the return to the stadium he previously called home.

If nothing else, it's time for the Saints to make sure the Panthers' offense doesn't unload.

"Going to Carolina, we have challenge ahead of us," Klein said. "I can't sit here and sugarcoat stuff. We're just a step behind. All the pieces are there. Early adversity, it's what you do with it."

The Saints also have former Carolina receiver Ted Ginn Jr. on their roster.

Carolina had never gone through the first two games of a season without allowing a touchdown, but keeping Brees in check won't likely be as easy as it was subduing offenses from San Francisco and Buffalo.

Payton said part of the solution for New Orleans might be not relying so much on Brees by producing more on the ground.

"It has been an emphasis of ours," Payton said. "There were yards left out there."

The Panthers will be without center Ryan Kalil for a second week in a row. He was a game-day scratch from the starting lineup last week, and his practice activity was limited since then because of a sore neck. He was already coming off offseason shoulder surgery.

Carolina wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin missed midweek practice with a knee injury, but there were no further indications that he would be held out of the game.

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Steelers vs. Bears 1:00 (EDT) Preview

Tomlin, Steelers keep guard up vs. winless Bears

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Wednesday, September 20 at 8:14 PM (EDT)

The Pittsburgh Steelers will aim for their first 3-0 start since 2010 when they head west to face the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.

But Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is warning against complacency as his team gears up for the winless Bears (0-2).

"We'll get prepared with an edge," Tomlin said this week. "We know we're playing a team that's going to be hungry. We know we're going into a hostile environment. And quite frankly, we're too fragile, we're too new in this team development process in terms of searching for consistency and an acceptable level of play to take any other approach."

Tomlin's hard stance is no surprise to those who have watched him compile a 105-57 record in 10-plus seasons in Pittsburgh. He already has seven playoff appearances and a Super Bowl championship under his belt, and he is trying to steer his squad toward the postseason once again with a string of victories to start the year.

The Steelers are coming off back-to-back wins over the Cleveland Browns and the Minnesota Vikings by a margin of 47-27. Although running back Le'Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown have yet to find the end zone, Pittsburgh is ranked No. 11 in scoring (23.5 points per game) and No. 16 in total offense (312.5 yards per game).

The Bears will have to keep pace to avoid their third straight 0-3 start with John Fox as coach. After a better-than-expected performance in Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons, Fox's team was plagued by mistakes in a 29-7 blowout loss at Tampa Bay.

The ugly effort increased fans' scrutiny on quarterback Mike Glennon, who threw a pair of interceptions and lost a fumble. But Fox and his offensive assistants said Glennon firmly remained the team's No. 1 starter heading into Week 3. That means rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky will stay on the sidelines, at least for now.

"He's a competitor," Fox said of Glennon, who will earn $18 million this year. "We all deal with adversity. What's critical is how you respond. You're going to get hit. You're going to have bad days. It's how you respond to that."

The Bears' ground attack has not provided much support. After a breakout rookie season, running back Jordan Howard has been limited to 22 carries for 59 yards (2.7 yards per carry) and a touchdown. Rookie Tarik Cohen (6.4 yards per carry) offers an exciting change of pace but is most effective as a complementary piece rather than an every-down back.

Glennon could have help this week if wide receiver Markus Wheaton is cleared to return from injury. Wheaton signed with the Bears during the offseason after appearing in 47 games (22 starts) over the last four seasons with the Steelers.

"He brings another speed element," Glennon said. "We already have fast guys on the outside with (Josh Bellamy and Deonte Thompson). We're growing into a speed offense with Tarik and those receivers. I think it can really stretch the defense. We can run by guys. We can throw it deep. It definitely adds another dimension. It will be great having Markus back."

The Steelers' defense has surrendered only three touchdowns in the first two games. Rookie linebacker T.J. Watt already has posted two sacks and an interception, but a groin injury could slow him this week. Third-year linebacker Anthony Chickchillo also has shined with two sacks, and he is expected to start ahead of veteran linebacker James Harrison.

The Bears hope to welcome back offensive lineman Kyle Long and cornerback Prince Amukamara this week. Neither player has seen action this season because of injured ankles.

Meanwhile, the Steelers are not certain about the status of players such as offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert (hamstring), tight end Jesse James (ankle), and defensive end Stephon Tuitt (biceps). Tight end Vance McDonald returned to practice this week after sitting out against the Vikings.

Roethlisberger said he and his players had plenty of room for improvement despite an impressive start. The veteran quarterback has a 99.9 passer rating this season with 506 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

"We should set goals that are almost unattainable so that you can be the best you can be," Roethlisberger said. "We're not worried about guys that missed time or whatever. We're winning football games, we're making improvements, and I'll say it again: We're winning football games."

The game marks the first meeting between the Bears and Steelers since 2013. Chicago has won the past two contests, and Pittsburgh is seeking its first win at Soldier Field since 1995.

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Texans vs. Patriots 1:00 (EDT) Preview

Watson, Texans face bigger challenge against Patriots

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Wednesday, September 20 at 8:47 PM (EDT)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Deshaun Watson will try to do something Sunday that has never been done by a rookie quarterback.

Defeat a Bill Belichick-coached team as a visiting player.

Watson, who will be making his second professional start, leads the battered and bruised Houston Texans into Gillette Stadium for a game with the New England Patriots, who have also been dealing with assorted injuries.

And Sunday, Watson will have to deal with Belichick and his various schemes.

Rookie quarterbacks are 5-15 (in the first or only meeting of a rookie season) against Belichick through his time in New England. But the Foxborough numbers are even scarier -- 0-8 with five touchdowns, 16 interceptions and a 50.7 passer rating.

"Tough, physical, disciplined, well-coached team," Watson said Wednesday. "They play all four quarters and make you make mistakes. It's a tough opponent."

Beating Belichick -- and Tom Brady -- in Foxborough (or anywhere else) has been difficult for any player or any team, and the Texans have never won in Foxborough. They're 0-5 there and 1-8 overall against the Patriots, with six straight losses.

The Patriots defeated the Texans 34-16 in the playoffs last season when Houston was without injured J.J. Watt. He is back and healthy, but this is a banged-up football team that will come into New England this weekend.

Watt went down with his back injury when his team lost at New England a year ago. Brady sat that one out as part of his four-game DeflateGate suspension.

"It's a big challenge," said Texans head coach Bill O'Brien, who used to be Belichick's offensive coordinator. "Obviously, the Patriots played really well yesterday (beating the Saints 36-20 in New Orleans).

"It's a road environment. We've got to be able to go up there and handle the road environment. Obviously, they don't lose too often at home. They've got a great team."

Both teams are 1-1, losing their openers before winning in Week 2.

Houston won with Watson making his first start as a pro. That was in Cincinnati against the Bengals. The circumstances are very different this week.

O'Brien didn't think the environment would overwhelm his rookie.

"I think anybody that's played in the types of games he played in -- it's different, obviously, because it's the NFL -- but he's played in national championship games," the O'Brien said. "He's played in big games relative to the ACC. Dealing with the big-game environment, the noise, I think that's important. Now, dealing with the Patriots' defense relative to a college defense is a whole (different) thing.

"The thing about Deshaun is he doesn't get nervous. I asked him before the (Cincinnati) game, 'Are you nervous?' He said, 'Naw, I don't get nervous.' I see that, so I don't really concern myself too much with that."

While the Texans were scrambling to fill out their roster amid an avalanche of injuries, the Patriots appeared to be getting at least a bit healthier.

Linebacker and defensive leader Dont'a Hightower, who has missed the first two games with a knee injury, and key receiver Danny Amendola, out Sunday with a concussion and knee injury, were back at practice Wednesday.

Rob Gronkowski, who suffered a groin injury Sunday, said Monday that he was "day to day." He was spotted at practice Wednesday but apparently didn't work.

"It's a marathon of a season and you're going to have the ups and downs of guys being in, being out," Brady said Wednesday. "You always love to be as healthy as possible, but that's probably not the reality of most teams."

Watt comes into this game without a sack of Brady.

"He's an exceptional player," Brady said. "They move him around a lot. Earlier in his career, you used to kind of get a beat on where he'd be, (which) could help you out a little bit. But now they move him so much he's going to really face every guy that you have up front. (He'll) be on both sides, be inside, be outside. They run a lot of games.

"They've got a lot of scheme stuff that they use to try to get their guys free in the front, but all of those guys are exceptional athletes. J.J. is an incredible player."

The Texans, who beat the Bengals after losing three tight ends to injury, will be without cornerback Kevin Johnson, slated to be out four to six weeks with a knee injury.

"That's big, a big loss for us," said safety Eddie Pleasant, who slid over the play some corner last week. "Great player, great guy, great competitive spirit, someone we love having out there. We need him out there, can't wait to get him back."

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Seahawks vs. Titans 4:05 (EDT) Preview

Seahawks aim to locate missing offense vs. Titans

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Wednesday, September 20 at 10:13 PM (EDT)

The Tennessee Titans appeared to find their offense in the second half of last week's 37-16 victory at the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Seattle Seahawks are still searching for their offense after managing only one touchdown and 21 points in their first two games, winning 12-9 last week in part because they were playing the San Francisco 49ers.

The Titans and Seahawks meet Sunday at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, both in need of more consistency and still far from having to reach for the panic button because of the weakened state of their divisions.

"I think we'll continue to grow," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said after last week's victory over the 49ers. "We're going to get better. I think we can see us making the improvement that's going to be important for us."

Carroll was speaking of the offensive line, which did at least generate a decent running game. Rookie Chris Carson rushed for 93 yards in 20 carries and could see more time going forward in the team's running back rotation, which also features Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy.

But quarterback Russell Wilson remains endangered on any pass requiring at least a three-step drop. San Francisco's defense, which is not to be confused with the 1975 Steelers or even its great stop units in the Jim Harbaugh era, teed off on Wilson at times last week.

Wilson's numbers are pedestrian -- 37 of 66, 356 yards, a touchdown pass -- in two games. But it's hard to find much rhythm when you're running from pressure or picking yourself up off the seat of your pants about a dozen times a game.

That helps explain why the Seahawks enter this week's game 28th in points per game with 10.5, 26th in yards per contest and 29th in passing yards per game. Tennessee's pass defense isn't exactly airtight, but it can crank up a good pass rush.

The Titans certainly hassled Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles last week. Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan each did their job with sacks, and the defense forced three turnovers, including a pair of interceptions. Bortles' numbers -- 20 of 34, 223 yards and a touchdown pass -- were deceptively good.

It was the end of an 11-game road losing streak within the division for Tennessee, dating back to 2013, but coach Mike Mularkey certainly knows a win over Jacksonville isn't exactly a season-maker.

"We won an important game on the road, in our division," he said. "There is nobody in here patting themselves on the back. We have a lot of work to do still. Just like the week before, with the bad taste (after losing to Oakland), the good taste is gone. We have to get ready for the next one."

Getting ready for the next one is a bit more problematic for two reasons -- Seattle's defense and the questionable health of running back DeMarco Murray (hamstring). He rushed for only 25 yards in nine carries last week before sitting out most of the second half.

Derrick Henry picked up the slack and then some in Murray's absence, rolling up a game-high 92 yards and a touchdown in a successful homecoming to his native north Florida. Mularkey is hopeful Murray can play Sunday, but Henry is certainly a quality replacement if Murray can't go.

"We stayed patient with the run game and we decided to hit some holes," Mularkey said of Henry's second-half performance at Jacksonville. "That's the position if you can have two guys who can run the ball like that, it's a luxury. There's a lot of pounding that goes on their bodies."

The Titans will need a strong running game, regardless of who does the work. The Seahawks still have one of the best pass defenses around with a solid combination of coverage and rush. They held the impotent 49ers to 89 yards in the air last week and only permitted 17 points in Week 1 at Green Bay, a performance good enough to win with most weeks.

While the loser will be 1-2 and the winner will at least share first place in its division, there is plenty of time for either team to figure out its weaknesses and make them a strength in their divisions. Nine wins could be enough to capture the AFC South or the NFC West.

"Just stay together and keep grinding," Seattle safety Kam Chancellor said after Sunday's win. "Keep looking forward."

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Bengals vs. Packers 4:25 (EDT) Preview

Packers' struggling defense meets Bengals' struggling offense

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Friday, September 22 at 2:12 PM (EDT)

The Green Bay Packers gave up 34 points in Sunday night's loss at Atlanta.

The Cincinnati Bengals have scored nine points while starting the season 0-2.

One of these struggling units should be feeling better about things after Sunday's game at Lambeau Field.

The Bengals haven't scored a touchdown in losses to Baltimore and Houston at home. A day after the 13-9 loss to the Texans, longtime coach Marvin Lewis fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese and replaced him with quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor.

"We have to have a direction of execution and things have to fit together and we've got to provide opportunity to attack the defense," Lewis said. "We've got to do a great job attacking what is our perceived weakness of the defense and get the ball to our guys who can make plays."

That starts with getting quarterback Andy Dalton back on track. Dalton, who is coming off his two best seasons, with a career-high passer rating of 106.2 in 2015 and a career-high completion rate of 64.7 percent in 2016, owns the worst passer rating in the league at 47.2 and the next-to-worst completion rate at 54.5 percent.

Dalton has thrown four interceptions and been sacked eight times behind a shaky offensive line that has struggled to replace left tackle Andrew Whitworth and right guard Kevin Zeitler, who left in free agency.

Green Bay's defense got off to an impressive start vs. Seattle in a 17-9 win to open the season but got exposed, again, in a 34-23 loss at Atlanta. The Packers couldn't stop Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (252 passing yards, 108.0 rating), receiver Julio Jones (five catches, 108 yards) or the running game (5.2-yard average).

Early in that game, Green Bay inserted cornerback Kevin King, a first-round draft pick, into the lineup and he gave up only one catch.

With Lewis looking to get the ball more to his playmakers, King and fellow cornerback Davon House will be tested by star Bengals receiver A.J. Green. Green had 1,000-yard receiving years in each of his first five seasons and would have done it again last year if not for missing six games because of injury. He has caught 10 passes for 141 yards to start this year.

While Cincinnati's offense has been horrible, the defense has played well enough to win both games. The Bengals have given up 20 points or fewer in eight of their last nine, including both games this season.

In the opener against Baltimore, Cincinnati lost 20-0 due, in large part, to five giveaways. Last week against Houston, the Bengals gave up only 266 yards, including 98 net passing yards, but lost 13-9.

Lewis knows his defense will face a much bigger challenge against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers than it did last week against rookie Deshaun Watson. Lewis has had some success vs. Rodgers, though. In matchups in 2009 and 2013, Cincinnati won both games and held Rodgers to a passer rating of 73.5.

"He's an outstanding player," Lewis said of Rodgers. "He has a great command of their offense and what Mike wants done. He knows the system inside and out, knows where everybody belongs (and gets) everybody to the right spots. And then he's able to just do a great job of delivering the football. And then he extends them with his arms, his legs.

"I think the thing we just impress upon our players is this is an all-day sucker, man. We've got to play the run, we've got to tackle and then, when we get in coverage and rush, we've got to be consistent and we've got to play tenacious and stay after it."

Injuries again will be a factor for the Packers. Seven starters were out by the end of the Atlanta game. Offensive tackles David Bakhtiari (hamstring) and Bryan Bulaga (ankle) were inactive, and receivers Jordy Nelson (quad) and Randall Cobb (chest), House (quad), safety Kentrell Brice (groin) and defensive tackle Mike Daniels (hip) dropped out during the game. Nelson and Bulaga were full participants on Wednesday, but Bakhtiari, Brice, Cobb, Daniels, House and outside linebacker Nick Perry (hand) were among eight players who did not practice.

"We expect to play well every time we're out there," Rodgers said. "No matter who's out there, they're all professionals. There's an expectation of a style of play and a performance that we all have for ourselves and for each other. So whoever's out there lining up is going to be expected to play well."

Cincinnati, tight end Tyler Eifert (back) was ruled out Friday and right guard Trey Hopkins (knee) will miss his second straight game.

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Chiefs vs. Chargers 4:25 (EDT) Preview

Chiefs' Reid eager to face Chargers in L.A.

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Wednesday, September 20 at 11:59 PM (EDT)

Chiefs coach Andy Reid couldn't suppress his grin with the Los Angeles Chargers, lined up next for Kansas City.

But Reid wasn't giddy over his undefeated team facing one searching for its first victory come Sunday at the StubHub Center.

Instead, he's just happy the NFL has returned to L.A.

"I'm from there so I'm an L.A. guy," Reid said. "I'm glad pro football is back. It's a big city and it can handle two teams."

That's to be determined as the Chargers (0-2) and Rams share Reid's hometown. What isn't a mystery is that the Chargers' biggest task in their second game in L.A. after 56 seasons in San Diego is stopping the Chiefs' explosive attack.

Kansas City (2-0) has sprinted from the gate with an offense featuring an accurate quarterback in Alex Smith, a shifty rookie running back in Kareem Hunt and a top-shelf tight end in Travis Kelce.

"I think the plays we are dialing up are good," Reid said. "But most of all the guys are doing a great job of executing them."

The Chargers' offense has been known to move the chains, too. But it has to keep the Chiefs' defenders out of the backfield and these days that means more than Justin Houston.

Chris Jones is coming off a stellar game in which his stat line can't be ignored: three sacks, two forced fumbles, an interception and five solo tackles.

"He's shown up on tape quite a bit," Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said.

Jones is eager to see Rivers so they can exchange pleasantries.

"He doesn't curse, he just talks a lot of stuff," Jones said. "I'm out there saying stuff the whole time but they don't get me on camera."

The Chargers weren't ready for their Hollywood close-up, falling in their home opener to the Dolphins, 19-17, on Sunday. Rookie kicker Younghoe Koo missed from 44 yards in the closing seconds, the second straight week the Chargers had lost on a late kick that wasn't converted.

It was nothing new for the Chargers as they lost eight games by seven points or fewer last year. In fact, among the reasons the Chargers are 9-25 in two plus years is their inability to win tight contests.

"They have more of those games than anybody the last two years," Reid said. "When you play it right to the end there you are a good football team."

That's Lynn's point. But the Chargers have to do more than talk the talk.

"First of all, there were a lot of plays that could have made a difference in that game," Lynn said. "Just evaluating the tape, on offense, defense and special teams, there's certainly plays where we could have done better."

But can the Chargers show improvement against the Chiefs, a squad that is clearly ascending once again?

"We're going to find out what the character, what the identity of this team is," tackle Russell Okung said. "We'll see that really soon."

Rivers knows what has to happen. His unit has to be more productive.

"I know we got to score more points than we have been scoring," Rivers said. "Our defense gave up 19 and 24 points and we have to win those games."

It won't be easy against the balanced Chiefs.

"They got a good offense, the got a good defense," Rivers said. "They are arguably the hottest team in the league right now.

"It's going to be a heck of a challenge but one I think we are up for. We got to be up for it. We got to get in the win column and hopefully get on little streak."

Rivers, who led the league last year with 21 interceptions, knows he must take care of the football. Especially with Pro Bowler Marcus Peters roaming the Chiefs' secondary to disrupt Rivers.

"He's obviously a super talent player," he said. "It's the corners that are smart, that maybe guess some, but they also understand what they are seeing and they recognize routes. Those are the ones that are the most dangerous. He's one of the guys that is always breaking up passes and always around the ball."

The Chargers are always around the win column. Too bad that doesn't mean squat.

"It shows you what we can do," Rivers said. "But you got to do it. We've done a lot of good things in this first two weeks and at the end of the day we got nothing to show for it. It gives you the confidence to know that if you keep fighting, keep scratching, surely, we will be on the other ends of those. And we got 14 games left."

None of which are more important that Sunday's.

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College Football
East Carolina vs. Connecticut 12:00 (EDT)
Saturday, September 23, 2017
College Football
Lamar 21 vs. 49 Southeastern Louisiana Final
Eastern Washington 48 vs. 41 Montana Final
Notre Dame 38 vs. 18 Michigan State Final Recap

Wimbush, Williams power Notre Dame past Michigan State

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Sunday, September 24 at 12:16 AM (EDT)

Brandon Wimbush passed for a touchdown and ran for another, while Dexter Williams scored two first-half touchdowns to lead Notre Dame past Michigan State 38-18 on Saturday night at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Mich.

Wimbush completed 14-of-20 passes for 173 yards, including a scoring pass to Williams. He also gained 52 yards on eight carries for Notre Dame (3-1).

Williams gained 40 yards on eight carries, including a 14-yard scoring run. Cornerback Julian Love returned an interception 59 yards for a touchdown as the Irish won the turnover battle 3-0.

Irish wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown caught four passes for 61 yards. Josh Adams led the ground game with 56 yards on nine carries.

Michigan State outgained Notre Dame 496-355 but couldn't overcome its mistakes. The Spartans were also penalized nine times for 97 yards.

Spartans quarterback Brian Lewerke completed 31-of-51 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns but also committed two turnovers. He gained 56 yards on nine carries.

Darrell Stewart caught six passes for 41 yards and a touchdown for Michigan State (2-1).

The Fighting Irish parlayed three Michigan State turnovers into 21 points to grab a 28-7 halftime lead.

Notre Dame scored on its opening possession, capped by Wimbush's 16-yard run. Love then jumped a route on Michigan State's first drive and raced to the end zone to make it 14-0.

The Spartans got on the board when Stewart made a leaping grab of a 4-yard pass from Lewerke for his first career touchdown.

A Lewerke fumble set up an 8-yard scoring pass from Wimbush to Williams. Michigan State was on the verge of scoring again when LJ Scott was stripped by Shaun Crawford at the goal line. The ball bounced beyond the end zone for a touchback and Williams soon scored his second touchdown on a 14-yard run.

Following a Spartans field goal, Deon McIntosh scored on a 9-yard run in the third quarter to give Notre Dame a 35-10 lead.

Justin Yoon added to that advantage with a 46-yard field goal. Lewerke connected with running back Gerald Holmes on a 25-yard touchdown pass with 3:09 remaining.

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UTEP 14 vs. 41 New Mexico State Final
Prairie View A&M 34 vs. 0 Alabama State Final
Southern Illinois 31 vs. 44 Memphis Final
Southern Utah 27 vs. 54 Sacramento State Final
Northern Arizona 28 vs. 10 Cal Poly Final
Oregon 35 vs. 37 Arizona State Final Recap

Ruiz, Wilkins fuel Arizona State past No. 24 Oregon

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Sunday, September 24 at 3:10 AM (EDT)

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Freshman Brandon Ruiz was in grade school the last time Arizona State beat Oregon.

His foot ended the 13-year drought Saturday.

Ruiz made a 41-yard field goal with 2:33 remaining and the Sun Devils stopped the No. 24 Ducks on downs twice in the final 69 seconds for a 37-35 victory in the Pac-12 opener for both at Sun Devil Stadium.

"Little freshman, I'm pretty proud of him," Arizona State coach Todd Graham said.

Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins passed for 347 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for 35 yards and two touchdowns for the Sun Devils' first victory in the series since Oct. 2, 2004 in Eugene.

Wilkins drove the Sun Devils 57 yards in 11 plays to set up Ruiz's winning field goal, a drive that included nine rushes and a 10-yard completion to tight end Jalen Harvey on third-and-6 to move the ball into field goal range.

"Guys made big time plays in big time situations," Wilkins said.

"Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time times. We got out of this one. Now it's time to go out of the next one. We need to get this (bleep) rolling."

Arizona State (2-2, 1-0 Pac-12) outgained the Ducks in total yards (489-401) and had a 16:12 time of possession edge to end a two-game losing streak and likely end the Ducks' short stay in the Top 25.

Ruiz, who stands 5 feet 10, made three field goals and is 5 for 7 this season.

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert passed for 281 yards and three touchdowns, but was stopped on a 4th-and-3 scramble at midfield with 1:10 remaining.

The Ducks (3-1, 0-1) got the ball back with 46 seconds remaining and got one first down before misfiring on four pass attempts from their 23.

"It was a lack of execution by everybody," Oregon coach Willie Taggart said. "Coaches, myself included, we didn't do a good job."

Herbert's 4-yard run with 6:41 remaining gave the Ducks a 35-34 advantage, their first lead of the game after Wilkins and Demario Richard scored rushing touchdowns in the first five minutes of the third quarter to make it 31-14.

Wide receiver N'Keal Harry caught seven passes for a career-high 170 yards and a touchdown. His 52-yard reception on third-and-27 pass from Wilkins on the final play of the third quarter set up a Ruiz 24-yard field goal for a 34-28 lead with 13:25 remaining.

"I just see a team that's hungry," Wilkins said "When I look in K'Neal's eyes I see, 'Throw me the ball.'"

Richard rushed for 64 yards and a touchdown and Harvey had eight receptions for 133 yards.

Oregon halfback Royce Freeman had 81 yards rushing and a touchdown, his 54th, breaking the school record. He was tied with LaMichael James.

The Ducks entered the game averaging 609 yards and 56 points a game. Their total offense ranked No. 2 in the FBS, and their point total was third. They were penalized 14 times for 99 yards.

"The penalties, the dropped balls -- it's hard to get in a rhythm, it's hard to go fast," Taggart said.

Arizona State came built a 17-7 lead in the first 13 1/2 minutes.

Wilkins scored on a 5-yard run on the Sun Devils' first series before Oregon tied it on Herbert's 7-yard touchdown pass to Dillon Mitchell.

Wilkins took Arizona State 75 yards on the next possession, completing a 3-yard touchdown pass to Harry for a 14-7 lead to cap a 15-play drive.

Arizona State successfully executed an onside kick and turned that into Ruiz's 29-yard field goal to go ahead 17-7 with 1:30 left in the quarter.

Oregon had one first down on six possessions the rest of the half, but closed the gap to 17-14 on Freeman's 12-yard touchdown run after Arizona State muffed a punt with 37 seconds left in the half.

NOTES: Arizona State QB Manny Wilkins set the school record for consecutive passes without an interception with his first pass of the game, a seven-yard completion to RB Kalen Ballage that extended his streak to 150 attempts without a pick. Rudy Carpenter had 149 straight in 2005-06. Wilkins extended his streak to 188. ... Oregon entered the AP rankings for the first time last week, the 20th straight season in which they have appeared in the Top 25. ... Arizona State senior LB Koron Crump (knee) did not play after suffering an injury at Texas Tech last week. Crump led the Sun Devils with 12 sacks last season and leads the team with four this year. His return this season is considered questionable.

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Washington 37 vs. 10 Colorado Final Recap

No. 7 Washington runs over mistake-prone Colorado

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Sunday, September 24 at 3:04 AM (EDT)

BOULDER, Colo. -- Colorado's quick start was undone by a series of mistakes, and Washington's defense was at the center of the miscues.

Cornerback Myles Bryant returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown, cornerback Jordan Miller added a pair of interceptions and No. 7 Washington pulled away to beat mistake-prone Colorado 37-10 in a Pac-12 opener on a rainy Saturday night.

"Anytime you get that many turnovers in a game, you've got a chance to do something special on offense," Huskies quarterback Jake Browning said. "We usually get all the stats and the touchdowns. But we played really well on defense and capitalized on some opportunities."

Miller said the Huskies turned up the defensive pressure after Colorado scored on its opening possession.

"We have good guys on defense so we go in and hit," Miller said. We know it's going to take a toll and that's what we were saying. You have to keep hitting them and it was working out."

Myles Gaskin also had 202 yards rushing and two touchdowns, including a 57-yarder, and Salvon Ahmed scored on a 6-yard run in the fourth quarter for Washington (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12).

"The guys up front we're doing their job," Gaskin said. "They were making it easy for me. The rain and everything kind of factored in, so we were sticking to the run and it worked out."

Browning completed 11 of 21 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown for Washington, which beat Colorado (3-1, 0-1) for the eighth straight time.

"It is definitely humbling when you take a loss," said Colorado safety Afolabi Laguda. "You have to keep pushing and I think we will keep pushing. I think we are going to bounce back."

Bryant broke the game open when he stepped in front of wide receiver Bryce Bobo and raced down the right sideline untouched for the score late in the third quarter, boosting Washington's lead to 24-10.

Miller's interceptions, both coming in the first half, led to 10 points for Washington, which came out on top again in the first meeting since the Huskies routed Colorado 41-10 in last December's Pac-12 championship game.

Colorado quarterback Steven Montez had a rough night, throwing three interceptions. He completed 21 of 27 for 171 yards.

"When you play a game like that, you can't have mistakes. You can't have blocked punts. You can't have interceptions," Colorado defensive back Ryan Moeller said. "You have to be on the other end of that. Thankfully, we still have a lot of the season left."

The Huskies stretched their lead to 17-7 early in the third quarter when wide receiver Quinten Pounds outjumped two defenders to come down with a 43-yard touchdown catch. Browning completed the scoring pass on the first play after a facemask penalty against linebacker Drew Lewis as he rushed the passer.

Scoring for the first time since the early going, Colorado got a 49-yard field goal from James Stefano midway through the third quarter to cut the Buffaloes' deficit to 17-10.

Washington led 10-7 at halftime, scoring a touchdown after blocking a punt and adding a field goal after the first of two interceptions by Miller.

Defensive lineman Vita Vea broke through the middle to stuff Alex Kinney's punt and fellow lineman Levi Onwuzurike recovered the ball at the Colorado 12-yard line. Washington capitalized when Gaskin scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to even the score at 7.

Miller intercepted a pass that skipped off the hands of running back Phillip Lindsay, leading to a 25-yard field goal by Tristan Vizcaino late in the second quarter. He thwarted another Colorado drive later in the quarter with another interception in the end zone of Colorado's Steven Montez.

Colorado marched right down the field on its opening possession with Montez completing all four passes. Lindsay ran six times for 21 yards on the drive, punching through from 1 yard for the touchdown.

Washington missed an earlier chance to get on the board when Vizcaino was wide right on a 32-yard field-goal attempt early in the second quarter.

NOTES: A first-quarter replay review overturned an initial incompletion call and validated that Colorado DB Afolabi Laguda had intercepted a Jake Browning pass before tumbling out of bounds. ... Ralphie, Colorado's real-life buffalo mascot, could not make the traditional pregame romp around Folsom Field because of wet and slippery conditions caused by a rainstorm in the area. ... Many of Washington's players went through portions of their pregame warmups bare-chested despite the wet, chilly conditions. ... Washington CB Byron Murphy is expected to be sidelined about six weeks because of a broken foot.

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Hawaii 21 vs. 28 Wyoming Final
UCLA 34 vs. 58 Stanford Final Recap

Stanford beats UCLA behind backup QB

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Sunday, September 24 at 2:48 AM (EDT)

Josh Rosen couldn't muster another improbable fourth quarter comeback in Week 4 as UCLA dropped its Pac-12 opener to Stanford by a 58-34 score on The Farm in Palo Alto, Calif.

It was the Cardinal quarterback situation, however, that was the story of the game as David Shaw used three signal callers to improve to 2-2 (1-1 Pac-12) on the year.

K.J. Costello stepped up after starter Keller Chryst left the game in the first half with an injury, finishing with 123 yards, a rushing score and the first two touchdown passes of the sophomore's career. Junior Ryan Burns added 13 yards via the air.

While Stanford's second-string quarterback was putting himself on the map, it was the Cardinal running game that wore down the Bruins. Bryce Love scored a touchdown and rushed for a career-best 272 of the team's 405 yards on the ground. It marked the fourth time this year that the junior rushed for 180 yards or more in a game.

Rosen, who threw four touchdown passes in the fourth quarter in the season opener against Texas A&M, connected on 40 of 60 passes for 480 yards, but a sloppy UCLA (2-2, 0-1) was its own worst enemy.

The Bruins fumbled three times, losing two of them. They had 12 penalties for 127 yards and had a kick blocked.

UCLA chipped away at its 23-13 halftime deficit. Soso Jamabo (100 yards rushing) cut into the lead with a 3-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter.

Costello and Stanford quickly answered, however, with a 15-yard strike to Trenton Irwin. Cameron Scarlett added his second of three rushing touchdowns on the night, after a UCLA fumble, to up the score to 37-20. The junior tallied 86 yards, also a career high.

Rosen kept UCLA in the game with touchdowns to Darren Andrews, Eldridge Massington and Jordan Lasley (158 receiving yards). But it wasn't enough to overcome Stanford. The Cardinal drove the final daggers into the Bruins with touchdowns by tight end Dalton Schultz and a 69-yard scamper by Love.

Officials ejected Stanford cornerback Alijah Holder for targeting early in the third quarter. The senior led the Cardinal with eight tackles prior to the ejection. Free safety Ben Edwards was flagged for targeting on the very next play, but was absolved of the personal foul upon video review. Edwards added an interception with 4:27 to play to seal the win.

UCLA safety Adarius Pickett was also ejected in the first half. The junior is the third Bruin to be ejected for targeting in as many games.

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Texas A&M 50 vs. 43 Arkansas Final Recap

Aggies rally to beat Razorbacks in OT

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Saturday, September 23 at 4:26 PM (EDT)

Christian Kirk scored three touchdowns, including a 100-yard kickoff return, and Texas A&M rallied to beat Arkansas 50-43 in overtime Saturday afternoon in Arlington, Texas.

The Aggies (3-1) extended their winning streak in the series to six games in the SEC opener for both teams. Texas A&M hasn't lost to the Razorbacks (1-2) since joining the SEC in 2012.

Kirk caught the go-ahead score from quarterback Kellen Mond on the Aggies' first overtime possession. Texas A&M safety Armani Watts' interception in the end zone on Arkansas' ensuing drive ended the game.

Kirk finished with five receptions for 110 yards and two scores. His 100-yard return was one of seven lead changes after halftime, including four in the fourth quarter.

Mond accounted for 325 yards, with 216 passing and another 109 on the ground. The true freshman also had an apparent long touchdown run incorrectly ruled dead.

Aggies running back Keith Ford ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Trayveon Williams added another score and 72 yard as. Texas A&M rushed for 285 yards overall.

Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen passed for 229 yards and two touchdowns. His interception on third down from the A&M 12-yard line in overtime was Arkansas' only turnover.

Razorbacks receiver Jonathan Nance had three catches for 100 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown in the fourth. David Williams ran for two touchdowns, his last giving Arkansas a 43-40 lead with 3:39 left in regulation.

A&M forced OT on Daniel LaCamera's 27-yard field goal with 4 seconds left.

Arkansas took control of the game in the first half. A pair of short touchdown passes from Allen and Cole Kelley, plus Chase Hayden's 6-yard score gave the Hogs a 21-7 lead less than five minutes into the second quarter.

The Aggies fought back to trail 21-17 at halftime. The score could have been tied, but Mond was ruled to have run out of bounds at the Arkansas 10-yard line on what would have been an 89-yard touchdown.

Texas A&M settled for a field goal. SEC officials released a statement at halftime acknowledging that the play was "incorrectly ruled out of bounds," but couldn't be reviewed since it was whistled dead.

Texas A&M also logged six straight wins over Arkansas from 1938-43.

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Brown 28 vs. 45 Harvard Final
Army West Point 17 vs. 21 Tulane Final
Walsh University 6 vs. 57 Central Connecticut State Final
Kent State 3 vs. 42 Louisville Final Recap

No. 19 Louisville rolls past Kent State

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Saturday, September 23 at 4:50 PM (EDT)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Coming off a loss to Clemson in a game with national title implications, Louisville finds itself in a bit of a schedule lull.

The only thing to do is exactly what the Cardinals did Saturday. No. 19 Louisville wasted no time in putting away hapless Kent State, scoring 21 first-quarter points en route to a 42-3 win at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

"We basically came out, took care of business and did what we were supposed to do," Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said.

Louisville (3-1) plays host to FCS foe Murray State next week before things get interesting again with a Thursday night game on Oct. 5 at North Carolina State -- an upset winner at No. 12 Florida State on Saturday.

The Cardinals pounced on Kent State (1-3) behind quarterback Lamar Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, who found tight end Jordan Davis for a 69-yard completion on the first play of the game. Louisville scored on Malik Williams' 3-yard run three plays later.

"I like that we took the ball right down the field and scored," Petrino said. "I also liked what we did just before the half. It was a nice two-minute drive and we did a nice job executing it. ... I thought Lamar made really good decisions."

Jackson completed 18 of 22 passes for 299 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He ran eight times for 34 yards and a score. Jackson broke the school record for touchdowns responsible for in a career. He now has 89. The old record belonged to quarterback Chris Redman, who had 87 from 1996-1999.

"I'm not trying to set records," Jackson said. "I'm just trying to put my team in a good situation and win games. That's all it's about. If records come, they come."

Louisville committed four turnovers -- two interceptions and two fumbles -- which made Petrino unhappy. He said the team has been working on ball security in practice for weeks. He also pointed out that one of Jackson's interceptions wasn't on Jackson.

"The ball was right in Dez's (Fitzpatrick) hands, he should make that catch," Petrino said. "And the other one, I don't know what the heck happened on that one."

Kent State, which lost starting quarterback Nick Holley to an ACL tear last week, attempted only five passes, completing two for 11 yards. Dustin Crum ran 18 times for 62 yards for the Golden Flashes, who gained just 150 total yards.

"I thought the defense did a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage and being physical," Petrino said. "I like the way we tackled and it was good to get a whole bunch of guys in there and get experience. Obviously we weren't challenged with the passing game at all."

Turnovers aside, Louisville's offense was dominant. On Louisville's third drive, Williams broke free for a 33-yard touchdown scamper with 2:51 in the first quarter, capping a seven-play, 89-yard drive.

The Cardinals scored again just three plays later on an interception return for a touchdown. Cornerback Tru Washington, who earlier dropped a would-be interception that he likely could have returned for a touchdown, picked off a tipped pass and returned it 37 yards for a score.

Up 21-0 at the end of the first quarter, Louisville coughed up turnovers on its next two possessions, the second of which led to a 48-yard field goal by Kent State to cut the lead to 21-3.

Louisville responded quickly, marching 75 yards in just eight plays, capped by a 13-yard run by Jackson for his first touchdown of the game. Jackson added a pair of passing touchdowns in the third quarter, one to Seth Dawkins for 32 yards and another to Javonte Bagley for 15 yards to put Louisville up 42-3.

Kent State coach Paul Haynes, who missed time earlier this season as he battled prostate cancer, was in the coaching booth for Saturday's game.

"I still don't feel 100 percent," Haynes said, noting that he was sore after jogging onto the field last week. "The message is to keep fighting. I encourage everyone to go get tested (for prostate cancer). It's just a blood test. Every male should go get tested."

NOTES: Louisville's leading wide receiver, Jaylen Smith, and starting tight end, Micky Crum, were out for the game. Smith is out with a wrist injury and Crum was withheld due to injury. ... Louisville's preseason All-American CB Jaire Alexander also did not play; he has been recovering from a knee injury suffered in the first half of Louisville's first game. ... A squirrel ran onto the FieldTurf in the second quarter and ran to midfield. The squirrel ran into the end zone -- to a loud cheer from the crowd -- before getting caught in a bag on the sideline.

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Massachusetts 13 vs. 17 Tennessee Final Recap

Kelly, Volunteers keep Minutemen winless

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Saturday, September 23 at 3:46 PM (EDT)

Junior John Kelly rushed for 101 yards and one touchdown to help Tennessee overcome a subpar performance and record a 17-13 victory over Massachusetts on Saturday in nonconference play at Knoxville, Tenn.

Junior Quinten Dormady passed for 187 yards and one score but the Volunteers (3-1) struggled against the Minutemen (0-5). Sophomore Brandon Johnson contributed seven receptions for 123 yards.

Junior Andrew Ford threw for 129 yards and one touchdown for UMass before being helped off the field after being sacked late in the third quarter. Junior backup Ross Comis, who rushed for a score earlier in the contest, was unable to engineer a go-ahead drive as the Minutemen dropped their eighth consecutive game dating back to last season.

Tennessee totaled just 319 yards but limited UMass to 281.

The Volunteers led by eight at halftime and increased the lead to 17-6 on a 40-yard field goal by senior Aaron Medley midway through the third quarter. UMass narrowed its deficit to four when Ford threw a 13-yard scoring pass to sophomore Sadiq Palmer with 2:51 to go in the stanza.

The Minutemen lost their quarterback on their final possession of the third quarter when Volunteers senior linebacker Elliott Berry delivered the hit that knocked Ford out of the contest.

It took more than 25 minutes for Tennessee to get on the board as Kelly bounced an inside run to the left for a 12-yard scoring run. The Minutemen answered on a 5-yard keeper from Comis but the extra point was missed to keep UMass behind by one with 2:57 left in the half.

Dormady tossed an 8-yard scoring pass to sophomore Tyler Byrd with 25 seconds remaining to give the Volunteers a 14-6 halftime edge.

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West Virginia 56 vs. 34 Kansas Final
UNLV 21 vs. 54 Ohio State Final Recap

Barrett throws five TDs as No. 10 Ohio State routs UNLV

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Saturday, September 23 at 5:22 PM (EDT)

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State slung the ball all over the lot and UNLV simply had no answer Saturday.

J.T. Barrett and Dwayne Haskins combined for seven touchdown passes as the Buckeyes finished with a school-record 474 yards passing in a 54-21 victory over the Rebels in a nonconference mismatch in Ohio Stadium.

No. 10 Ohio State (3-1) opened a 38-0 lead midway through the second quarter and began to substitute liberally the rest of the way on a warm afternoon in its final game before the Big Ten season begins in earnest next week.

Barrett threw for five touchdowns in just over 21 minutes and the only question from that point was whether the Buckeyes would cover the 40-point spread. They fell one TD short.

In less than a half, Barrett completed 12 of 17 passes for 209 yards before giving way to Haskins. Barrett, a senior who has been criticized by fans at times for his lack of accuracy, moved past Bobby Hoying and into second place in Ohio State career passing yards.

Did Barrett silence some of his critics with that performance?

"I started the press conference thanking our fan base for being there," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said, "but I'm not going to take a poll and ask them. Not being disrespectful to our fans, but quarterback's a tough position and he's continuing to work on it."

Haskins, the team's No. 2 quarterback, was impressive in his own right, adding two touchdown passes. The redshirt freshman connected on 15 of 23 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns.

His only mistake was throwing an interception that was returned 65 yards for a touchdown by UNLV's Javin White with 13:00 remaining in the game.

"I think Dwayne played pretty good," Meyer said. "But that's inexcusable (on the pick-six). Throw it right to the guy. Obviously, it's a young player, a freshman. And they've got to go through that."

As for the rest of the offense, Ohio State set a school record with seven different receivers catching a touchdown pass. Thirteen players caught at least one pass and nine had two or more receptions.

The Buckeyes finished with 664 total yards and limited the Rebels (1-2) to 264 yards, with only 88 through the air.

Asked his thoughts on the Ohio State offense, Meyer said, "Probably the same thoughts as everybody else. Let's go do it against a team that's equally matched."

Freshman running back J.K. Dobbins, averaging 149.3 rushing yards in Ohio State's first three games, ran for 95 yards on 14 carries before taking the second half off.

UNLV running back Lexington Thomas rushed for two touchdowns in the second half, one of those a 55-yard breakaway. He gained 84 yards on 12 carries.

Rebels freshman quarterback Armani Rogers completed 11 of 19 passes for 88 yards with two interceptions. He was sacked four times.

"Proud of my guys," UNLV coach Tony Sanchez said. "I tell you what, they never stopped fighting. They hung in there and kept playing hard against a high-caliber football team. You make a mistake against a team like Ohio State and they are going to make you pay, and they did that a lot of that early on."

Ohio State raced to a 38-0 lead in the first 21 minutes of the game and led 44-7 at halftime.

Before the first half ended, six different receivers caught touchdown passes for the Buckeyes.

On Ohio State's second play of the game, Parris Campbell turned a short pass from Barrett into a 69-yard touchdown to set the tone.

Later in the first quarter, Barrett hooked up with Johnnie Dixon for a 16-yard scoring strike to make it 14-0.

The Buckeyes added a defensive score with 1:02 left in the first quarter when defensive tackle Dre'Mont Jones tackled Thomas in the end zone for a safety.

Campbell returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards to set up a 3-yard touchdown pass from Barrett to Binjamin Victor to start the second quarter.

On UNLV's next possession, Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette intercepted a Rogers pass and returned it 42 yards to the UNLV 7-yard line. Barrett put the ball in end zone again with a 4-yard pass to Terry McLaurin for a 30-0 lead.

Barrett added his fifth touchdown pass of the half after an interception by Ohio State safety Damon Webb. An 11-yard hookup with K.J. Hill capped an 11-play, 59-yard drive.

UNLV ended the shutout with a 2-yard touchdown run by Thomas with 3:32 left before halftime.

Ohio State closed out the first-half scoring with Haskins coming into the game and throwing a 28-yard touchdown strike to C.J. Saunders, who finished with a team-best six receptions for 102 yards.

Haskins added a 38-yard touchdown pass to Rashod Berry in the second half.

NOTES: Ohio State backup QB Joe Burrow was cleared this week to play after suffering a broken hand in preseason practice. He entered the game in the fourth quarter and was 4-of-4 passing for 37 yards. ... Ohio State RB Mike Weber, slowed all season by a hamstring injury, sat out the game. ... UNLV is 5-39 against ranked teams. Its last win over a ranked opponent was in 2008 against Arizona State. ... Ohio State and UNLV met for the first time. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is 3-0 vs. the Rebels, winning twice while he was at Utah. ... Ohio State's 13 tackles for loss were the most since it had 13 against Michigan in 2008. DE Nick Bosa led a career-best three tackles for loss.

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Texas Tech 27 vs. 24 Houston Final Recap

Shimonek guides Texas Tech to close win over Houston

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Saturday, September 23 at 4:28 PM (EDT)

Senior Nic Shimonek passed for 321 yards and two touchdowns to help Texas Tech produce a 27-24 victory over host Houston in Saturday's nonconference game at TDECU Stadium.

Junior Keke Coutee recorded 11 catches for 161 yards, including a key 77-yard scoring play in the third quarter for the Red Raiders (3-0). Coutee entered the contest as the national leader in receiving yardage per game and rose his average to 148.7 with his latest strong effort.

Junior Kyle Allen was intercepted twice for the Cougars (2-1) and passed for 217 yards and one touchdown before being removed. Senior Kyle Postma ran for a score and pass for another in relief as Houston saw its 16-game home winning streak halted.

Texas Tech forced five turnovers and rolled up 521 yards.

The Red Raiders led by three points at the half and stretched out the advantage while Houston star defensive tackle Ed Oliver was out of the game dealing with leg cramps. The Cougars appeared to have trouble lining up, and Coutee ran free in the secondary and hauled in the catch and outraced the secondary on the 77-yard play to give Texas Tech a 20-10 edge with 4:48 remaining in the third quarter.

The Red Raiders increased the lead to 17 when Shimonek tossed a 20-yard scoring pass to senior running back Justin Stockton with 7:28 left. Stockton also rushed for 102 yards on 10 carries.

Postma energized the Cougars upon entering, scoring on a 9-yard keeper to move Houston within 27-17 with 4:29 remaining. He tossed a 4-yard score to senior wideout Linell Bonner with 15 seconds left but the ensuing onside kick was unsuccessful.

Texas Tech built a 13-0 lead over the first 19 minutes of the game on two field goals and a 3-yard run by junior Desmond Nisby. The Cougars responded with the next 10 points, and Allen's 18-yard scoring pass to sophomore D'Eriq King pulled Houston within 13-10 with 4:41 left in the half.

Red Raiders junior Vaughnte Dorsey was carted off on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital after making a diving hit on King during a fourth-quarter kickoff return. Dorsey dove head first for the tackle, and his head hit King's right knee. He displayed movement while being taken off the field.

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North Carolina State 27 vs. 21 Florida State Final Recap

N.C. State's upset drops No. 12 Florida State to 0-2

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Saturday, September 23 at 5:19 PM (EDT)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- North Carolina State head coach Dave Doeren entered Saturday's game against No. 12 Florida State with a 27-27 record with the Wolfpack.

But Doeren broke that tie with arguably the biggest win of his career, and he achieved it on Florida State's home field.

N.C. State stunned the Seminoles 27-21, snapping a four-game losing streak in the series and spoiling Florida State's home opener that was delayed three weeks by Hurricane Irma.

"The feeling is euphoric," Doeren said. "I am so proud of our coaching staff. I am so proud of our players."

North Carolina State (3-1, 1-0 ACC), which entered as a 12-point underdog, never trailed. The Wolfpack got two touchdown passes from senior quarterback Ryan Finley to help the Wolfpack beat the Seminoles (0-2, 0-1) for the first time since the 2012 season.

The game was Florida State's first in 21 days after Hurricane Irma washed out Weeks 2 and 3 for the Seminoles, whose loss marked the program's first 0-2 start since 1989, when they opened the season with defeats to Southern Miss and Clemson.

Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher, however, refused to blame the loss on the long break.

"We had two long layoffs, but that's not an excuse. We also had a lot of time to practice," said Fisher, who was 7-0 in home openers.

"N.C. State has a very nice football team and they did the things they needed to do to win. They played well in critical moments, and we didn't finish drives. There's a lot of good there (on our football team), but there's still plenty bad."

Finley connected on scoring throws to receiver Jakobi Meyers and receiver/running back Jaylen Samuels. Finley finished 22 of 32 for 230 yards.

N.C. State linebacker Bradley Chubb had a huge game for the Wolfpack with seven tackles and two sacks, but there was a moment afterward -- when cameras caught him running to midfield and appearing to spit on the Seminoles' logo -- that Chubb was asked about repeatedly following the win.

"I honestly don't even remember doing that. I always spit when I'm playing football," Chubb said.

"It wasn't intentional at all. It wasn't (a) celebration. I celebrated with my teammates, talked to Coach Doeren and then I guess I just spit. I really didn't mean to. To finally pull it out (and beat Florida State) just really meant a lot to us."

Florida State kicker Ricky Aguayo cut the Wolfpack's lead to 27-21 with 3:01 left after linebacker Brian Burns blocked an N.C. State punt. The Seminoles -- who had no timeouts left -- opted to kick off deep, rather than try an onside kick. N.C. State then picked up one first down and ended the game.

Florida State true freshman quarterback James Blackman, replacing Deondre Francois -- who suffered a season-ending knee injury during the opener against No. 1 Alabama -- completed 22 of 38 passes for 278 yards and one touchdown. He also fumbled once in the first half when the Seminoles were threatening to score.

Florida State receiver Auden Tate had nine catches for 138 yards but left in the opening minutes of the third quarter with an apparent arm injury suffered on a 51-yard catch.

"I felt like we were ready, we just didn't execute. It's a tough loss," Burns said. "I preach the word of positivity, even when (Deondre) got hurt. Stay positive. That's all you really can do. We have nine more games. This is just one game. It's depressing right now. But I have no doubt we're going to bounce back."

After the teams combined to score 27 points in the first half -- with N.C. State taking a 17-10 lead at intermission -- they traded field goals in the third quarter as the Wolfpack led 20-13 going to the final 15 minutes.

Aguayo drilled a 37-yarder in the opening minute of the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 20-16.

The Wolfpack answered with 9:16 remaining when Samuels took a 14-yard shovel pass for a touchdown to cap a 10-play, 75-yard drive for a 27-16 lead.

The Seminoles got life with 6:26 remaining after Finley botched a shotgun snap and it went out of the end zone for a Florida State safety. But the Seminoles' offense couldn't do anything on the ensuing possession, turning the ball over on downs with just over five minutes left in the game.

The N.C. State rushing attack was led by running back Nyheim Hines with 24 carries for 94 yards. Meyers caught five passes for a career-high 112 yards.

Florida State running back Cam Akers rushed 12 times for a team-high 56 yards.

NOTES: Saturday marked the earliest Florida State had faced an ACC opponent in the season since 2009 when it opened the year against Miami. ... N.C. State improved to 5-15 all-time on the road against the Seminoles. ... N.C. State's Jaylen Samuels' two touchdowns Saturday were the 37th and 38th of his career, good for fourth on the Wolfpack's career touchdown list. ... QB James Blackman's first career touchdown pass was the first thrown by a Seminoles true freshman quarterback since 2001. ... FSU LB Jacob Pugh was ejected late in the third quarter for targeting and he will miss the first half of next week's game at Wake Forest. ... Saturday's attendance was 70,541.

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Pittsburgh 17 vs. 35 Georgia Tech Final Recap

Georgia Tech's ground game overwhelms Pitt

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Saturday, September 23 at 3:51 PM (EDT)

Sophomore B-back KirVonte Benson rushed 29 times for a career-high 196 yards and two touchdowns to lead Georgia Tech to a 35-17 win over Pittsburgh in the ACC opener for both teams at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta.

Benson scored on runs of 5 and 47 yards, the final touchdown coming with 5:37 remaining that put the game out of reach for the Yellow Jackets (2-1, 1-0 ACC). Pitt turned the ball over on down on the ensuing drive.

Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall rushed 18 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns. He has run for 100 yards in each game.

Pitt (1-3, 0-1) gave sophomore quarterback Ben DiNucci his first start. He completed 12 of 19 passes for 110 yards and one touchdown but was lifted in the fourth quarter and replaced by erstwhile senior Max Browne. Browne was 10 of 15 passing for 88 yards.

The Yellow Jackets dominated with their option attack, gaining 436 yards on the ground and having just over 35 minutes in time of possession.

Georgia Tech had a 21-17 lead at halftime. Marshall scored on touchdown runs of 32 and 1 yards, and Benson added a 5-yard touchdown run.

Pittsburgh scored on a 28-yard pass from DiNucci to Qadree Ollison and an 80-yard punt return from Quadree Henderson. It was the second punt return for a touchdown in Henderson's career. The Panthers added a 55-yard field goal from redshirt freshman Alex Kessman as the first-half ended.

Georgia Tech held Pitt to 235 total yards and shut out the Panthers after halftime.

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Penn 65 vs. 47 Lehigh Final
Cornell 24 vs. 49 Yale Final
Dayton 28 vs. 34 Morehead State Final
Georgetown 14 vs. 35 Columbia Final
Furman 45 vs. 14 Colgate Final
Fordham 40 vs. 45 Bryant Final
Bethune-Cookman 24 vs. 26 Howard Final
Maine 10 vs. 28 James Madison Final
New Mexico 16 vs. 13 Tulsa Final
Chattanooga 63 vs. 7 VMI Final
Gardner-Webb 24 vs. 27 Wofford Final
Ohio 27 vs. 20 Eastern Michigan Final
Valparaiso 13 vs. 38 Drake Final
Monmouth 30 vs. 23 Hampton Final
Old Dominion 0 vs. 38 Virginia Tech Final Recap

No. 13 Virginia Tech shuts out ODU

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Saturday, September 23 at 6:36 PM (EDT)

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- No. 13 Virginia Tech completed a perfect nonconference schedule with a convincing 38-0 win over Old Dominion on Saturday at Lane Stadium.

Now the Hokies (4-0) can finally set their sights on a mammoth ACC opener next week at home against No. 2 Clemson.

"We will be ready to play them when they come in," Tech wide receiver Cam Phillips said of the Tigers, who beat the Hokies 42-35 in last season's ACC championship game.

Said Tech junior defensive back Mook Reynolds: "The stakes are higher, but we try to go 1-0 each week. This just so happens to be the next game. We're going to enjoy this win and tomorrow we're going to start focusing on breaking everything down and getting ready to do everything we've gotta do."

The Hokies, who went 4-0 in nonconference play for the first time since 2011, used a dominating defensive performance to dispatch Old Dominion in the first-ever meeting between the teams.

The Hokies outgained the Monarchs 582-149 in securing their second shutout in their last three games.

ODU (2-2) was held scoreless for the first time since a 49-0 loss to Appalachian State in 2005.

"When you feel like you're controlling the game on the defensive side of the ball, it provides you more opportunities to try to get up on people and force the issue that way," Tech coach Justin Fuente said. "We should be good on defense. With the guys we had coming back and with the staff that we have and the way we train and practice, I'm not taking those things for granted, but we expect to play on a high level."

Despite throwing his first career interception, Hokies freshman quarterback Josh Jackson had another stellar start, passing for 298 yards and three touchdowns. He completed 20 of 30 passes.

Tech junior running back Steven Peoples had a career day with 135 total yards (73 receiving) and three touchdowns.

"The local guy got some shine today, so I guess that's pretty cool," said Peoples, who is from nearby Galax, Va.

The Hokies' defensive dominance spoiled a historic first start for ODU freshman quarterback Steven Williams Jr. At 17, Williams became the second-youngest starting quarterback in the history of the Football Bowl Subdivision, behind only David Walker of Texas A&M in 1973.

Williams passed for 85 yards on 8-of-26 passing, and he rushed six times for 24 yards. He couldn't provide much of a spark against Tech's defense, which held the Monarchs to seven first downs.

"I've never played in front of a big crowd like that. I was just going out there having fun," Williams said. "I didn't let the pressure get to me. I was just out there playing football."

The last time Tech held multiple opponents scoreless in the same season was 2006 when it notched four.

"This was clearly one of the best teams in the nation today, and they took advantage of us," ODU coach Bobby Wilder said.

The Hokies struggled to find an offensive rhythm in the first half, but they still took a 17-0 lead into the intermission.

Joey Slye's 31-yard first-quarter field goal provided Tech's only points until 6:07 remaining in the second quarter. That was when Peoples caught a screen pass from Jackson and took it 17 yards for a touchdown.

Peoples scored his second touchdown right before the end of the quarter on a 1-yard run.

"The plays were there. We just needed to make them," Jackson said. "We just really picked it up after those first couple of drives."

Tech broke open the game in the third quarter. Peoples caught a deflected pass from Jackson in the end zone for a 43-yard touchdown, and wide receiver C.J. Carroll caught his first career scoring reception from 5 yards out a short time later to make it 31-0.

Hokies running back Deshawn McClease scored on a 5-yard run early in the fourth quarter to push the lead to 38-0.

NOTES: Virginia Tech WR Cam Phillips has caught at least one pass in 31 straight games, breaking the previous school record set by Isaiah Ford last season. ... ODU fell to 0-9 all-time against Power 5 opponents. ... Hokies PK Joey Slye missed a 27-yard field goal in the first quarter, his first career miss inside the 30-yard line. He was 27-for-27 for his career before the miss. ... ODU's Steven Williams was the first opposing quarterback to make his first career start at Lane Stadium since Temple's Devin Scott in 1998. ... Former Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick was inducted into the school's sports Hall of Fame on Friday. ... Virginia Tech QB Josh Jackson threw his first career interception on his 100th pass of the season. ... Virginia Tech hosts No. 2 Clemson next Saturday. ODU returns to action at home against Florida Atlantic on Oct. 7.

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Norfolk State 17 vs. 7 Delaware State Final
Idaho 29 vs. 23 South Alabama Final
Idaho State 42 vs. 43 Northern Colorado Final
UCF 38 vs. 10 Maryland Final Recap

McGowan helps Central Florida roll over Maryland

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Saturday, September 23 at 6:43 PM (EDT)

Taj McGowan ran for two first-half touchdowns and UCF pulled away for a 38-10 win at Maryland Saturday afternoon in what had been forecast as a high-scoring affair.

The potential shootout lost some luster early when Terrapins quarterback Kasim Hill was lost with a lower leg injury on Maryland's second series.

While Henry Darmstadter's 34-yard field goal spotted the Terrapins to an early 3-0 lead, UCF (2-0) controlled the rest of the game as Maryland accumulated just 197 yards of total offense.

UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton got that much -- and more -- by himself. Milton rushed for 94 yards on six carries, and completed 18 of 30 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown. His 55-yard run early in the third quarter set up his 6-yard scoring pass to Jordan Akins to make it 21-3 at10:17.

The Knights went ahead earlier when McGowan scored from a yard with 13:42 remaining in the second quarter. He added a 3-yard run with 3:49 left, as the UCF defense clamped down on the Terrapins and led 14-3 at the half.

UCF opened the season with a 61-17 win over Florida International, but then had its next two games cancelled by Hurricane Irma. This was the Knights' first action since Aug. 31.

The Terrapins (2-1) turned to sophomore Max Bortenschlager in Hill's absence.

Hill, a freshman, had replaced Tyrrell Pigrome, the opening day starter. In that first game, Pigrome was lost to a season-ending knee injury.

This is the third straight season Maryland has lost at least one quarterback to injury.

If Bortenschlager starts next week at Minnesota, the Terrapins will have used three starting quarterbacks for the fourth time in six years and the third consecutive season. In 2012, they lost three and ended up playing a freshman linebacker (Shawn Petty) at the position.

Bortenschlager finished 15 of 26 for 132 yards and one interception. He was sacked five times.

In their first visit to College Park, Md., the Knights avenged Maryland's 30-24 double overtime win in Orlando last season in the first ever meeting between the two programs.

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Illinois State 34 vs. 9 Missouri State Final
Cincinnati 32 vs. 42 Navy Final
Mercer 23 vs. 26 ETSU Final
Duke 27 vs. 17 North Carolina Final Recap

INT return helps Duke top North Carolina

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Saturday, September 23 at 7:12 PM (EDT)

Bryon Fields Jr. returned an interception 61 yards for a touchdown with 4:01 left to help Duke hold off North Carolina 27-17 in an Atlantic Coast Conference game Saturday at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Duke (4-0, 1-0 ACC) took the lead with 6:09 remaining on Shaun Wilson's 1-yard run to cap an eight-play, 74-yard drive. The possession was kept alive on receiver Johnathan Lloyd's 12-yard reception on fourth-and-5 from the North Carolina 24.

Fields' interception of Tar Heels quarterback Chazz Surratt was the only turnover in the game.

It was the 100th career coaching victory for Duke's David Cutcliffe.

The Blue Devils have defeated their rivals two years in a row; this was the teams' earliest meeting in a season.

Duke quarterback Daniel Jones completed 18 of 34 passes for 202 yards. Running back Brittain Brown gained 90 yards on 10 carries.

A 19-play Duke drive resulted in Austin Parker's 24-yard field goal on the opening possession of the second half.

Surratt's 56-yard run untouched up the middle sent the Tar Heels (1-3, 0-2) to a 17-13 lead on their first drive of the second half. Surratt finished 17 of 32 for 259 yards.

North Carolina opened the scoring on Freeman Jones' 34-yard field goal with 1:50 left in the first quarter. Those points were set up by a 47-yard pass to Austin Proehl on a flea flicker.

Three plays later, Duke tight end Davis Koppenhaver was left alone as he scored on a 28-yard pass from Jones.

Duke's next drive stalled in 12 plays, so it settled for Parker's 27-yard field goal for a 10-3 lead. The Blue Devils had another 12-play drive go for naught when defensive lineman Jason Strowbridge blocked Parker's 24-yard attempt with 22 seconds left in the first half.

Two plays later, Anthony Ratliff-Williams caught Surratt's 45-yard pass to tie the game at the break.

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Montana State 49 vs. 21 North Dakota Final
Louisiana Tech 16 vs. 17 South Carolina Final Recap

South Carolina avoids upset with freshman's late FG

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Saturday, September 23 at 7:04 PM (EDT)

Freshman Parker White kicked his first career field goal -- a 31-yarder with four seconds left -- as South Carolina erased a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat upset-minded Louisiana Tech 17-16 on Saturday in Columbia, S.C.

Jonathan Barnes kicked a 25-yard field goal with 55 seconds remaining to give the Bulldogs a 16-14 lead.

Gamecocks quarterback Jake Bentley scrambled for 24 yards on third-and-10 on the ensuing possession and connected with wide receiver Bryan Edwards for 41 yards on the next play to set the stage for White, who missed his previous four kicks this season.

Running back Ty'Son Williams gained 95 yards on 13 carries, including a 35-yard touchdown run with 4:52 left to give South Carolina (3-1) a 14-13 lead. Bentley was 22 of 34 for 295 yards with an interception and a scoring pass to freshman wide receiver OrTre Smith with 11:06 remaining.

Edwards caught six passes for 122 yards.

Bulldogs quarterback J'Mar Smith was 23 of 33 for 281 yards with a touchdown and an interception as Louisiana Tech (2-2) fell to 8-76-2 all-time versus the SEC. Wide receiver Teddy Veal caught 10 passes for 110 yards and a score for the Bulldogs.

Louisiana Tech led 6-0 at halftime on a pair of field goals by Barnes -- the second being a season-long 52-yarder with 5:23 left in the second quarter, four plays after junior cornerback Aaron Roberson intercepted Bentley.

White missed both attempts in the first half -- a 34-yarder in the first quarter and a 46-yard try 48 seconds before intermission. White missed from 52 and 54 yards against Kentucky last week.

The Bulldogs took a 13-0 lead when Smith's 3-yard touchdown pass to Veal, who lost his helmet as he crossed the goal line, capped the opening drive of the second half. Five plays later, Bulldogs defensive tackle Deldrick Canty recovered a fumble by Williams.

The Gamecocks got on the board when OrTre Smith caught a pass over the middle, bounced off a hit from two defenders and continued to the end zone for a 28-yard score.

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Samford 34 vs. 38 Western Carolina Final
Robert Morris 0 vs. 56 North Dakota State Final
Alabama 59 vs. 0 Vanderbilt Final Recap

No. 1 Alabama steamrolls Vanderbilt

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Saturday, September 23 at 8:29 PM (EDT)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Top-ranked Alabama generally wins football games because it is bigger, stronger, faster and more prepared than its opponents.

All that -- plus a phenomenal rushing attack and an extra dose of motivation -- were the reasons the Crimson Tide pounded previously unbeaten Vanderbilt 59-0 on Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium.

Running back Damien Harris rushed for 151 yards and three touchdowns as the Crimson Tide (4-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) lit up the nation's No. 1 defense for 677 yards while holding the Commodores to just 78.

"I'm proud of our players today, the way we responded. ... I keep telling them, 'For three games, we win, but ...'" coach Nick Saban said. "There's a difference between winning and defeating your opponent in terms of how you dominate, what you do for 60 minutes in a game, and how you compete with consistency for 60 minutes in a game.

"Until we learn how to do that, which I think we did today, I don't think you'll ever get the respect you deserve. I think they earned a lot of respect today."

Fresh off an upset of then-No. 18 Kansas State last week, the Commodores were overmatched from the beginning. Vanderbilt (3-1, 0-1) had more penalties (five) than first downs (three).

"Credit Alabama. Alabama is exactly who everybody thinks they are," Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said. "Extremely good football team, well coached, physical, and they play hard and don't beat themselves."

Leading by 31 points at halftime, the Crimson Tide went for the throat in the third quarter.

Harris scored his third touchdown on a 2-yard run, and true freshman backup quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw a pair of third-quarter touchdown passes to make it 52-0.

It wasn't the same Alabama team that gave up 23 points and 391 yards to Colorado State last week. It was safe to say that the Commodores caught a motivated Crimson Tide squad.

After last week's upset of Kansas State, Vanderbilt defensive lineman Nifae Lealao uttered the words, "Alabama, you're next." Later in the week, Lealao clarified that all he meant was that the Crimson Tide was the next team on the schedule.

But that's not how Alabama took it. The Crimson Tide played with an edge and poured it on in the second half.

"Yeah, it definitely motivated us," Alabama defensive lineman Da'Ron Payne said when asked about Lealao's comments. "We take stuff like that personally, and we try to use it to our advantage."

After an first-quarter exchange of punts, Alabama took over in Vanderbilt territory and running back Bo Scarbrough dashed around left tackle for a 6-yard touchdown run.

After another Vandy punt, Harris dashed 61 yards through the left side of the defense on the drive's second play for a 14-0 advantage.

On the Commodores' next offensive snap, running back Khari Blasingame coughed it up, and Alabama defensive end Da'Shawn Hand recovered at the Vandy 26.

On third-and-goal from the 2 and the Crimson Tide in a jumbo formation, Harris easily dove in from 2 yards out to make it 21-0 with 42 seconds left in the first quarter.

Scarbrough added his second touchdown of the first half when he dashed into the end zone from the 2-yard line with 9:09 left in the second quarter.

Alabama had a 323-49 edge in total offense at the break, and had 19 first downs to Vanderbilt's two.

"For us, we dug ourselves a hole early and it snowballed on us," Mason said. "I didn't think we did a very good job responding. We had our struggles offensively and defensively in terms of third down. Getting off the field defensively and offensively really trying to sustain anything."

Even Saban, one of the biggest perfectionists in sports, could find little wrong with Alabama's performance.

"I can't say that there's anything negative, other than that we dropped a couple of balls," he said.

The Commodores had plenty of dropped balls of their own. Quarterback Kyle Shurmur entered Saturday leading the SEC in passing efficiency but was just 4 of 15 for 18 yards and an interception -- a deflection off the hands of wide-open tight end Jared Pinkney on the game's first drive.

NOTES: Vanderbilt was without a pair of veteran reserve cornerbacks on Saturday. Taurean Ferguson missed his fourth straight game with what's been termed an indefinite suspension, and Bryce Lewis was not dressed due to an undisclosed injury. ... The Commodores had given up 13 total points in three games, but allowed 21 in the first quarter on Saturday. ... Alabama S Ronnie Harrison had a first-quarter interception on a ball off the hands of Vandy TE Jared Pinkney. It was the first interception that Commodores QB Kyle Shurmur had thrown this season.

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Wake Forest 20 vs. 19 Appalachian State Final Recap

Wake Forest hangs on thanks to blocked FG

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Saturday, September 23 at 7:30 PM (EDT)

Wake Forest's Scotty Washington blocked a 39-yard field goal attempt with five seconds to play, allowing the Demon Deacons to hold on for a 20-19 victory over host Appalachian State in a nonconference game Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, N.C.

Mike Weaver's 25-yard field goal with 7:22 left provided the winning points as Wake Forest produced its second 4-0 start in consecutive years for the first time in program history.

Appalachian State kicker Michael Rubino was in position to boot the winning points after the Mountaineers moved into Wake Forest territory despite no timeouts on their final possession.

Wake Forest had trouble offensively in the first half, but produced second-half scoring drives of 97 and 75 yards. Quarterback John Wolford ended up 14-for-27 for 176 yards.

Appalachian State quarterback Taylor Lamb was 26-for-50 for 372 yards.

Midway through the third quarter, Appalachian State (2-2) scored in two plays with T.J. Watkins' 84-yard touchdown reception from Lamb for a 16-10 lead.

The Demon Deacons went back ahead on Cam Serigne's 6-yard pass from Wolford on a drive aided by a fourth-down offside penalty on Appalachian State.

Rubino's 39-yard field goal with 10:39 remaining gave the Mountaineers a short-lived lead.

Wake Forest drove 97 yards on its first second-half possession, taking the lead courtesy of Greg Dortch's 10-yard reception from Wolford.

In the first quarter, Appalachian State scored on a 20-yard double-reverse flea flicker, with Lamb throwing a 20-yard pass to tight end Levi Duffield.

The Demon Deacons scored first on Weaver's 27-yard field goal to cap an 11-play drive. But they had a six-possession stretch later in the half with a total of one first down. Wolford went through a 1-for-10 stretch.

A record crowd of 35,126 was announced for Wake Forest's first road game in the series, which is 23 games old. The teams hadn't met since 2001.

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Boston College 7 vs. 34 Clemson Final Recap

No. 2 Clemson erupts in 4th quarter against BC

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Saturday, September 23 at 9:31 PM (EDT)

CLEMSON, S.C. -- Travis Etienne didn't get the start, but he sure knew how to finish.

Etienne, a freshman running back, rushed for 113 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns as No. 2 Clemson rallied from a 7-7 tie for a 34-7 victory Saturday afternoon against Boston College.

Clemson (4-0, 2-0 in ACC) scored 27 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to defeat the Eagles for a seventh consecutive time.

"What a game, what a fourth quarter," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "That's what you can do when you've got depth and can wear people down. There's no question our depth was a factor today."

That depth included Etienne, who had 98 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown run, in Clemson's victory at Louisville last week.

The 5-foot-10, 200-pound Etienne didn't enter the game until the Tigers' second possession of the final quarter, but he quickly flashed his talent, breaking several tackles on a 50-yard touchdown run the first time he touched the ball.

Etienne, who is averaging 12.1 yards per carry, added a 10-yard touchdown run with 52 seconds left and totaled his 113 yards on only nine carries. He was presented with the O'Rourke-McFadden Leather Helmet Award as the game's most valuable player.

"He might be the first freshman to win that," Swinney said. "What a couple of explosive runs he had. He's just gaining confidence by the minute."

The Eagles (1-3, 0-2) tied the game on a 1-yard run by freshman running back AJ Dillon with 3:30 left in the third quarter, and it appeared the defending national champions were in for a down-to-the-wire battle.

But, sparked by Etienne and junior quarterback Kelly Bryant, Clemson won for the 35th time in 37 games, dating to the 2014 season.

"We took this team, that's the No. 2 team in the country, late into the fourth quarter," Boston College coach Steve Addazio said. "Our kids played their tails off. That's the storyline of the game. I'm proud of the way our kids fought and battled against this team."

Both Etienne and Bryant posted the first 100-yard rushing games of their careers. Bryant had 106 yards on 22 carries and scored his sixth and seventh touchdowns of the season.

Clemson sophomore Tavien Feaster, making the first start of his career, had 73 yards on 20 carries, to contribute to the Tigers' 342-yard rushing day.

Dillon had a career-high 18 carries for 57 yards, but the Eagles' offense struggled against Clemson's eighth-ranked defense. Boston College managed only 238 yards; freshman quarterback Anthony Brown completed 14 of 30 passes for 130 yards.

Boston College punter Mike Knoll enjoyed a solid day, averaging 42.3 yards per punt and downing six of his kicks inside Clemson's 20.

"They dug in and their punter was awesome," Swinney said. "We had terrible field position all day."

Addazio said he was proud of his team's effort.

"We wanted to drag this team into the fourth quarter, and we drug them into the fourth quarter," Addazio said. "We played with great heart and you can see the potential in this football team right now."

Despite outgaining the Eagles 222-125 in the first half, Clemson led only 7-0 at the break. The Tigers' lone score came on a 13-play, 94-yard drive midway through the second quarter that culminated with Bryant's 11-yard touchdown run, his sixth of the season.

Running back Adam Choice added a 6-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter and Bryant scored on a 4-yard run. Bryant was 17 of 26 passing for 140 yards and two interceptions.

"Kelly hung in there and battled through a little bit of adversity," Swinney said. "But this is something we can grow from.

"To hold them to less than 100 yards rushing, hat's off to our defense. When we've needed them to go out there and get a stop, that's what they've done. Eventually we just wore them down."

NOTES: Clemson WR Ray-Ray McCloud was held to two receptions for minus-2 yards, one week after a seven-catch, career-high 115 yard game at Louisville. ... WR Hunter Renfrow has nine third-down receptions this season, with seven of them resulting in first downs. ... LB Kendall Joseph led Clemson with 12 tackles, including one tackle for loss. ... Boston College FS Lukas Denis had 13 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble. ... WR Jeff Smith led the Eagles' receivers with four catches for 58 yards. ... RB Jon Hilliman, among the ACC leaders with 203 yards entering the game, managed 33 yards on nine carries.

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Georgia Southern 17 vs. 52 Indiana Final Recap

Indiana's ground game flattens Georgia Southern

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Saturday, September 23 at 8:08 PM (EDT)

Morgan Ellison rushed for 186 yards and two touchdowns to help Indiana roll over Georgia Southern 52-17 on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind.

Ellison had 127 yards and both of his touchdowns in the first half, as the Hoosiers raced to a 31-7 lead. Indiana (2-1) also scored when Ellison's fumble at the Eagles 1-yard line was recovered in the end zone by wide receiver Simmie Cobbs.

Indiana piled up 282 yards on the ground.

Hoosiers quarterbacks Richard Lagow and Peyton Ramsey each had long touchdown passes in the second half.

Lagow hit Ian Thomas for a 71-yard score on Indiana's first possession of the third quarter to extend the lead to 38-7. Ramsey connected with Devonte Williams for 42 yards to make it 45-7 with 10:52 to go in the third quarter.

J-Shun Harris scored on a 70-yard punt return in the first quarter for the Hoosiers.

Georgia Southern (0-3) had some success moving the ball once the game was out of reach.

The Eagles' freshman quarterback, Shai Werts, was 7-for-15 for 133 yards and two touchdowns, his best performance of the season.

In its first two games, Georgia Southern was held to eight yards passing in a 41-7 loss to Auburn and 93 in a 22-12 loss to New Hampshire, an FCS school.

L.A. Ramsby had 18 carries for 108 yards for the Eagles, who had two fumbles that led to Indiana scores.

After a three-and-out on their first possession, the Hoosiers scored touchdowns on their next three drives.

More than half of Georgia Southern's 51 first-quarter yards came on two plays, including a 16-yard scramble by Werts that ended in a fumble that the Hoosiers recovered.

Indiana promptly drove 46 yards to make it 21-0.

Georgia Southern scored late in the first half on a 23-yard pass from Werts to Ellis Richardson. It was just Werts' second completion of the game.

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TCU 44 vs. 31 Oklahoma State Final Recap

No. 16 TCU upsets No. 6 Oklahoma State

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Saturday, September 23 at 9:45 PM (EDT)

STILLWATER, Okla. -- TCU, for all its recent road success, had never won a Big 12 game in the state of Oklahoma.

The No. 16-ranked Horned Frogs picked an opportune time for a breakthrough Saturday, upsetting No. 6 Oklahoma State 44-31 before a sellout crowd of 56,790 at Boone Pickens Stadium.

"I love playing here," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "It's the first time we won here, and I love playing here."

TCU loved the result. The Horned Frogs used a balanced offense and took advantage of four Cowboys turnovers, three by quarterback Mason Rudolph, who saw his Heisman Trophy candidacy likely absorb a hit.

Horned Frogs running back Darius Anderson rushed for 160 yards and three touchdowns, including a 42-yard romp to clinch the outcome with 2:37 remaining. TCU quarterback Kenny Hill played efficiently, completing 22 of 33 passes for 228 yards and a score.

Overall, the Horned Frogs rushed for 289 yards.

"I feel like we have a lot of (of confidence)," Anderson said. "The fact that they trust us helps us to keep working and keep pushing so we can stay on the run game, because we know we excel in that area."

Rudolph, who entered the game as one of the nation's top-rated quarterbacks, finished 22 of 41 for 398 yards and two scores but lost a fumble and tossed two interceptions.

"I wish I had the turnovers back, for sure," Rudolph said.

The Horned Frogs improved to 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the Big 12. Oklahoma State dropped to 3-1 and 0-1.

A double-digit underdog, the Horned Frogs trailed only briefly before taking control in the second quarter, claiming a major road win that puts last year's disappointing 6-7 season behind them.

Oklahoma State had been 34-7 at home since 2011, with four of those losses coming against Oklahoma and Texas. TCU's 30-14 road record since 2009 -- with seven wins over Top 25 teams -- ranked No. 3 nationally.

But the Horned Frogs had never won a Big 12 game in the state of Oklahoma. Now they have, and a big one.

"We wanted to be relevant," Patterson said. "Our program has had our times when we've been relevant, and that's what you want to do. You want to win enough ballgames that people take notice.

"It was also an advantage for us that no one was giving us a chance. We play a lot better like that. Always have and always will."

Usually, time of possession isn't a relevant statistic when it comes to Oklahoma State. The Cowboys score and score fast.

On Saturday, however, it was telling in a first half dominated by TCU.

The Horned Frogs controlled the ball and the clock, owning a 21:11 to 8:49 advantage in time of possession and a 20-10 edge on the scoreboard.

"They did a good job maintaining the ball," Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. "Time of possession is usually a non-factor for us, but this game it was big early.

"They did a good job with the run. They rushed for 238 yards -- way too many. In the big picture, in most cases, if you don't defend the run very well, you're kind of on your heels."

TCU used more time in marching to field goals on their first two possessions (9:54) than Oklahoma State was allowed through two quarters.

True to form, Oklahoma State's one first-half touchdown was a quick strike, with Rudolph hitting wideout James Washington for an 86-yard score, completing a two-play, 30-second drive as the Cowboys led 7-6.

But the Horned Frogs surged back ahead.

First, Anderson romped 28 yards for a touchdown to make it 13-7. Then Hill found wide receiver John Diarse for a 9-yard scoring pass, pushing the TCU lead to 20-7.

Oklahoma State's one extended drive, lasting 11 plays, resulted only in a 29-yard Matt Ammendola field goal that cut the lead to 20-10.

NOTES: Oklahoma State found itself facing adversity for the first time this season, playing the game without three starters: OL Zach Crabtree (toe) and Larry Williams (ankle) and WR Chris Lacy (shoulder). The biggest blow long term is Williams, who is lost for the season after suffering a broken ankle in practice during the week. Crabtree and Lacy will return. ... TCU was without starting RB Kyle Hicks, out with an undisclosed injury. ... The Horned Frogs had scored a touchdown on their first drive of each game this season, and the Cowboys hadn't allowed a first-quarter point. So something had to give Saturday. And it was the Oklahoma State defense, surrendering two first-quarter field goals.

[CLOSE]

Rhode Island 14 vs. 28 New Hampshire Final
Miami (OH) 31 vs. 14 Central Michigan Final
Toledo 30 vs. 52 Miami (FL) Final Recap

Rosier sparks No. 14 Miami past Toledo

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Saturday, September 23 at 9:24 PM (EDT)

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- With Miami down 16-10 early in the third quarter Saturday, former Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya sent out the following tweet:

"Offense going to find its rhythm," he tweeted, punctuating the missive with a "thumbs up" emoji.

Perhaps Kaaya should go buy a lottery ticket. He could not have been more on the money with this one.

Shortly after Kaaya's tweet, his successor, junior Malik Rosier responded by passing for 189 yards in the third quarter to rally the 14th-ranked Hurricanes to a 52-30 victory over Toledo on Saturday.

Rosier was 11-of-14 passing in the quarter and had his team sitting on a 38-16 lead before the visiting Rockets staged a mini-rally to close to within eight points. The Hurricanes (2-0) closed out the game with touchdowns runs by Rosier and running back Travis Homer.

Rosier passed for a career-high 333 yards and running back running back Mark Walton rushed for a career-high 204 as Miami amassed 527 yards of offense. Walton missed about a quarter of action after rolling his ankle while getting tackled in the second quarter. He returned late in the third.

He scored on a 44-yard run in the first quarter and had an 82-yard sprint to set up a field goal later in the period.

"Let's start from Square 1. Miami is a very good football team," said Toledo coach Jason Candle, whose Rockets (3-1) withstood Miami's 10-0 first-quarter outburst to lead 16-10 at the half. "Let's get that on the table first because I feel like that's not been said.

"That is a very good team. They're a Top 15 program and a Top 15 team for a reason. There's a lot of tremendous football players on that roster."

In addition to the contributions of Rosier and Walton, Homer scored two touchdowns on eight carries, tight end Christopher Herndon had eight catches, including one for a score, and wide receiver Braxton Berrios had a 55-yard reception to set up a score in the third period. Berrios added a 19-yard touchdown catch on the first play of the fourth to put the Hurricanes up 31-16.

Toledo came back with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter before the Hurricanes put the visitors away.

"I hate the fact we had the drama that we had once we kind of pulled away," Miami coach Mark Richt said. "But it's a tribute to them (the Rockets) and their ability to score, and we kind of got back on track."

Early on it appeared that the Hurricanes were showing no effects from the three-week layoff between games brought about by the threat of Hurricane Irma to South Florida earlier in the month. They were up 10 and looked ready to dominate before it turned around.

The visitors put together a 16-point second quarter on quarterback Logan Woodside's 37-yard touchdown pass and Jameson Vest's three field goals. Mistakes could have cost the Rockets more points as well.

"We did have some missed opportunities," Woodside said. "But that's a real good football team we played."

Woodside had 213 yards passing by halftime on his way to 342 for the game while Miami's Rosier had only 50 in the first two quarters.

"I wouldn't say rusty, but from the beginning we really didn't know what they were going to give us," Rosier said. "Every week when you watch this team play they give you different coverage.

"That was the big thing, figuring out how they were going to play us. It took us basically the whole first half to figure out what they were going to do. The second half we came and we game-planned them."

NOTES: Miami RB Mark Walton had the 10th 100-yard rushing game of career, with runs of 82 and 44 yards spurring him to 139 yards after just five carries. ... Toledo entered the game as the fourth-most penalized team in the country and lived up to that dubious distinction early in the game. The Rockets had three penalties (two false starts and delay of game) on their first two series, then had a key false start on fourth-and-goal from the Miami 2 that forced them to settle for a field goal. ... QB Logan Woodside's fumble on the final play of the third quarter was Toledo's first lost fumble since Sept. 2, 2016, against Arkansas State. It ended the Rockets' streak of 15 games without a lost fumble.

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Rutgers 17 vs. 27 Nebraska Final Recap

Lee helps Nebraska rebuff Rutgers

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Saturday, September 23 at 7:33 PM (EDT)

Junior quarterback Tanner Lee overcame another shaky performance to throw a pair of touchdown passes as Nebraska rebuffed stubborn Rutgers 27-17 on Saturday in Lincoln, Neb., handing the Scarlet Knights their 15th straight Big Ten loss.

Lee, who threw three interceptions in last week's stunning 21-17 home loss to Northern Illinois, tossed two more picks Saturday -- giving him nine this season -- and finished 13 of 26 for 109 yards as the Cornhuskers (2-2, 1-0 Big Ten) snapped a two-game losing streak.

Running back Mikale Wilbon rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries while wide receivers De'Mornay Pierson-El and freshman JD Spielman caught scoring passes for Nebraska.

Quarterback Kyle Bolin was 15 of 29 for 126 yards and two interceptions for Rutgers (1-3, 0-1). Scarlet Knights running back Gus Edwards rushed for a touchdown while safety Kiy Hester returned an interception for a score.

Rutgers took a 7-0 lead as Edwards snuck into the left corner of the end zone from the 2-yard line on the opening drive. The Cornhuskers answered on their first possession when Lee had plenty of time to find Spielman, who recorded his first career touchdown after securing an 18-yard pass near the left boundary.

Nebraska trailed 10-7 when Pierson-El fielded a punt at his own 33, found a seam on the left sideline and reversed field for a 63-yard return. One play later, Wilbon bulled in from the 4 to give the Cornhuskers a 14-10 lead with 4:48 left in the first half.

Lee threw his third pick-six in the last two weeks to put the Scarlet Knights on top 17-14 in the first minute of the second half. Hester returned the interception 33 yards for his first career touchdown.

Lee atoned for his mistake by hitting Pierson-El over the middle on third-and-goal for an 8-yard touchdown to put the Cornhuskers ahead for good 21-17 with 2:49 left in the third quarter.

Nebraska defensive back Aaron Williams was ejected with 11:25 left in the first quarter for targeting after a helmet-to-helmet hit on Rutgers freshman wide receiver Hunter Hayek.

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USC 30 vs. 20 California Final Recap

No. 5 USC capitalizes on miscues to beat Cal

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Saturday, September 23 at 8:57 PM (EDT)

BERKELEY, Calif. -- For the second week in a row, fifth-ranked USC was less than dominant, again needing a fourth-quarter surge to stay unbeaten.

Last week, USC had to rally in the final minute to force overtime against Texas, eventually winning in the second overtime. On Saturday, California and USC were tied 13-13 entering the fourth quarter, but the Trojans took advantage of six turnovers, including four in the second half, to pull away for a 30-20 victory at Cal's Memorial Stadium.

"It's been a rough two games, but we're 2-0 in those games and that's all that matters to me," Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold said.

While winning its first road game of the season, USC (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) won its 13th straight game overall, dating back to last season. It also beat Cal (3-1, 0-1) for the 14th consecutive time.

The pivotal play of the game occurred early in the fourth quarter when the ball slipped out the hand of Cal quarterback Ross Bowers as he was throwing a pass from just outside his end zone. The ball was caught in the air as a fumble recovery by USC's Uchenna Nwosu at the 3-yard line, leading to Stephen Carr's 1-yard scoring run that gave the Trojans a 23-13 lead.

Ykili Ross intercepted a Bowers pass on Cal's next possession, and he returned it 49 yards to the Cal 33, setting up Darnold's 4-yard scoring pass to Deontay Burnett that put the Trojans ahead 30-13 with 10:56 left.

"We were tight there until the fourth quarter," first-year Cal coach Justin Wilcox said, "and then there were a series of plays that went from 16-13, three down, and within a matter of minutes it was 30-13 and the end of the game.

"You can't commit six turnovers and expect to beat a team like that."

Cal outgained USC 416-356, but committing four more turnovers than the Trojans doomed the Bears.

"Outstanding play by the defense in the second half," USC coach Clay Helton said. "They played good in the first half, but they took it to another level in the second. To have 17 points created off six turnovers and hold them -- an offense that can put up points in the second half -- to only scoring on that last drive in the second half, credit the defense."

Darnold completed 26 of 38 passes for 223 yards and two scores, but he also threw his seventh interception of the season to go along with his nine TD passes. Freshman Carr, making his first start, was USC's leading rusher with 86 yards, and he added 47 yards on six receptions.

Bowers was 22 of 50 for 303 yards and a touchdown, but he threw four interceptions along with the critical fumble.

"This is going to be one that sticks with you," Bowers said. "Going to be hard to get over. I'm really disappointed in the way I played."

Patrick Laird added 82 yards on the ground for the Bears, and wide receiver Kanawai Noa caught six passes for 110 yards.

USC was without its leading rusher, Ronald Jones II, who averaged 107.3 yards per game over the first three games but was out with an ankle injury. Both teams were missing a starting wide receiver. Cal's Demetris Robertson missed his second straight game with an unspecified injury, and USC's Steven Mitchell was out with a groin injury.

Cal missed a chance to jump ahead early in the third quarter. Laird dropped what would have been a 14-yard touchdown pass, and Matt Anderson missed a 29-yard field goal attempt.

The Trojans scored the first points of the second half when Chase McGrath booted a 46-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, giving USC a 16-13 lead. Nwosu then came up with the unusual fumble recovery that pushed the game in the Trojans' favor.

Cal had opened the scoring on Anderson's 36-yard field goal, but a Jack Jones interception of a tipped pass gave USC possession at the Cal 38, leading to a 37-yard field by goal by McGrath, which tied the game 3-3.

Cal took a 10-3 lead on Vic Enwere's 1-yard fourth-down run, but the Trojans tied the score 10-10 on Darnold's 16-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Petite.

The Trojans took a 13-10 lead on McGrath's 34-yard field goal, and Cal tied it on Anderson's 21-yard field goal on the final play of the half.

Although USC is 4-0, Helton realizes his offense needs work.

"The ball is being moved, that's not the issue," Helton said. "It's finishing drives."

NOTES: The last time Cal beat USC was 2003, when current Bears head coach Justin Wilcox was Cal's linebackers coach. ... Wilcox was USC's defensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015, and served under Clay Helton, who was the Trojans' interim head coach in 2015. Wilcox and three other assistants were fired six days after Helton was named USC's permanent head coach on Nov. 30, 2015. ... Saturday's contest was the Joe Roth Game, named after the Cal quarterback who led the Bears to a Pac-8 co-championship and a victory over USC in 1975 but died of cancer at the age of 21. Cal wore throw-back uniforms that the Bears wore in 1975. ... Most of the injured USC defenders who missed all or part of last week's game were available against Cal. Starting LB Porter Gustin (toe, biceps) did not play, however.

[CLOSE]

Campbell 49 vs. 21 Stetson Final
Michigan 28 vs. 10 Purdue Final Recap

Backup QB O'Korn leads No. 8 Michigan past Purdue

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Saturday, September 23 at 9:24 PM (EDT)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- John O'Korn has been patient yet emotional. The fifth-year transfer quarterback had no reason to complain about playing time with No. 8 Michigan off to a 3-0 start and Wilton Speight leading the offense.

But when Speight was injured during the first quarter Saturday after a hit to the head, it was O'Korn's turn to show what he can do as a quarterback for one of the nation's most tradition-rich programs.

O'Korn responded and led Michigan to a 28-10, come-from-behind victory over Purdue on Saturday in sold-out Ross-Ade Stadium.

"It was an emotional game for me, just for things to come full circle after everything I've been through," O'Korn said. "Moving forward, the quarterback situation is not up to me, even if I don't play the rest of the year. I will be ready if my number is called.

"Everybody knows that Wilton and I are good friends, and I hate that he had to get hurt for me to go in there.

"I am comfortable with the whole offense. The coaches have done a great job of keeping me in tune with the game plan every week and keeping me ready to play. It's cliche, but you always are one play away. It is a next-man-up mentality."

O'Korn, through Michigan's first three games, had completed his one pass attempt for 37 yards.

After Speight's head injury with 5:06 left in the first quarter, O'Korn led four touchdown drives, completing 18 of 26 passes for 270 yards and one touchdown. Speight was taken to a local hospital for X-rays but did return to Ross-Ade Stadium.

"I thought John really played great," Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. "He was seeing things really good right from the time he came into the ballgame.

"He ran the offense well and made big plays. I'm really proud of him and proud of the whole game. I learned today that we can win in the late rounds. That is a great thing to learn about your ballclub. You never know quite what the character is. Things get tough, and a lot of people start groping for alternatives. Our guys dug deep and finished them off."

Chris Evans' 49-yard touchdown run with 6:46 to play -- his second TD of the afternoon -- completed a 21-0 Michigan second-half blitz and helped the Wolverines (4-0, 1-0) remain unbeaten. Evans rushed 14 times for 97 yards.

"In the second half, Michigan beat us down the way Michigan beats people down," said Purdue coach Jeff Brohm, whose team gained 10 second-half yards and finished with 189. "In the second half, they were the better team. The second half was unproductive offensively. The better football team won."

Michigan had stretched its lead to 21-10 with 10:36 remaining on Ty Isaac's 1-yard run, capping a nine-play, 65-yard drive that included O'Korn completions of 23 and 14 yards that moved the ball to the Boilermakers' 3-yard line.

The Wolverines seized a 14-10 lead with 2:42 to play in third quarter on Evans' 10-yard run, completing a methodical 11-play, 86-yard drive that included O'Korn's 30-yard completion to Sean McKeon to the Purdue 37 and a targeting penalty.

Michigan took a 7-0 lead with 11:34 remaining in the second quarter on O'Korn's 12-yard pass to tight end Zach Gentry, capping a 13-play, 84-yard drive.

On the ensuing drive -- Elijah Sindelar's first after replacing starting quarterback David Blough -- Purdue (2-2, 0-1) drove 75 yards in five plays, pulling even at 7 on Sindelar's 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brycen Hopkins with 9:45 left in the half.

With 8:15 remaining in the second quarter, Boilermaker safety Navon Mosley intercepted O'Korn at the Wolverines' 27. J.D. Dellinger's 29-yard field goal with 6:04 remaining pushed Purdue into a 10-7 halftime lead.

The Boilermakers outgained the Wolverines 179-131 during the first 30 minutes, including 99 passing yards from Sindelar on 6 of 12 attempts. Blough was 3 of 7 for 11 yards during the four first-half drives he directed.

NOTES: Purdue rushing leader Tario Fuller (43 rushes, 261 yards in three games) did not dress because of an ankle sprain. ... Game time temperature was 89 degrees, the warmest in Ross-Ade Stadium since a 2011 game against Middle Tennessee State, when the temperature at kickoff was 90. ... The sellout crowd of 60,042 was Purdue's first home sellout since 63,107 -- the pre-renovation capacity -- watched the Boilermakers defeat Indiana on Nov. 22, 2008, in former coach Joe Tiller's final game at Purdue. ... Boilermakers S Jacob Thieneman was ejected for targeting with 4:38 remaining in the third quarter, driving his shoulder pads into the helmet of Michigan receiver Nick Eubanks. ... Purdue LB J'Whaun Bentley was ejected for targeting with 11:20 left in the fourth quarter ... Michigan has allowed only 54 points in 16 quarters.

[CLOSE]

Butler 17 vs. 38 San Diego Final
Tennessee State 16 vs. 31 UT Martin Final
Louisiana-Monroe 56 vs. 50 Louisiana Final
Jacksonville 44 vs. 37 Marist Final
Tennessee Tech 21 vs. 24 Eastern Kentucky Final
Georgia State 28 vs. 0 Charlotte Final
Elon 36 vs. 33 Richmond Final
Sacred Heart 31 vs. 34 Bucknell Final
Florida A&M 20 vs. 14 Savannah State Final
Point University 0 vs. 66 Charleston Southern Final
Towson 17 vs. 25 Stony Brook Final
Princeton 38 vs. 17 Lafayette Final
Nevada 7 vs. 45 Washington State Final Recap

Falk (5 TDs) helps No. 18 Washington State rout Nevada

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Saturday, September 23 at 10:36 PM (EDT)

PULLMAN, Wash. -- The Washington State offense turned the ball over on downs on its first drive against Nevada, but fears of a slow start were soon put to rest when the Cougars scored on each of its five remaining possessions in the first half.

Luke Falk threw for 478 yards and five touchdowns, and No. 18 Washington State rolled to a 45-7 victory over Nevada on Saturday.

Thirteen players caught a pass for the Cougars (4-0). Falk, who was 36 of 47, was replaced by backup Tyler Hilinski in the fourth quarter after Washington State built a 45-0 lead.

Senior running back Jamal Morrow rushed for a game-high 73 yards and also caught four passes for 40 yards and a touchdown for the Cougars.

"Luke (Falk) did a great job of getting a feel for how the defense was playing and what they were gonna give us," Morrow said. "If you're gonna give us the run, we're gonna take advantage of it."

Nevada (0-4) struggled to move the ball. Blake Wright had a team-best 37 yards on five carries and Wyatt Demps caught six passes for 39 yards.

"We didn't mount much of a charge offensively to really get us back in the game, so I was disappointed about that," Nevada coach Jay Norvell said.

Falk began with four consecutive incomplete passes and a sack but was able to shake it off and direct the Cougars to a quick lead. He connected with Tavares Martin Jr. for 52 yards on Washington State's second drive, setting up a 12-yard swing pass to Morrow for a 7-0 advantage.

That opened the floodgates on an overmatched Nevada defense. Washington State scored touchdowns on five consecutive drives.

The Wolf Pack offense faced similar woes. Quarterback Kaymen Cureton faced consistent pressure from the front line as he was sacked four times in the first quarter. Nevada managed 15 yards of offense in the first quarter.

Nevada switched to David Cornwell during the second quarter. Cornwell threw for 33 yards in the first half and guided the Wolf Pack across midfield for the first time midway through the second quarter.

"We need more productive play and leadership at the quarterback position," Norvell said. "I think with a little more leadership and productive play we would be in a different spot as a team."

Nevada's most promising drive of the first half ended like its others, however, as Cornwell was intercepted by safety Jalen Thompson.

Falk then maneuvered the Cougars down the field on another scoring drive, ending with a 6-yard touchdown reception by freshman Jamire Calvin.

Nevada held Washington State to 10 second-half points. The Wolf Pack forced two turnovers in the second half, including an interception by defensive back Nephi Sewell at the Washington State 8-yard line.

"The second half I thought we were more inconsistent as far as how we protected and how we run-blocked," Washington State coach Mike Leach said.

Two plays later, Cornwell returned the favor with his third interception of the day, this one by Thompson.

Nevada broke through with 1:56 remaining as Maliek Broady scored on from the 3-yard line.

NOTES: Washington State QB Luke Falk threw his 100th career touchdown pass in the first half to move into third in Pac-12 history ahead of USC's Matt Leinart. ... Nevada QB David Cornwell, a transfer from Alabama, completed his first pass of the season in the first half. ... Cougars CB Jalen Thompson had two interceptions, giving him three this season. ... Washington State WR Tavares Martin Jr. had his second straight 100-yard receiving game and third of his career. ... Washington State outgained Nevada 560-151. ... The Cougars end a five-game homestand to start the season on Friday night against No. 5 USC.

[CLOSE]

Akron 17 vs. 22 Troy Final
UAB 43 vs. 46 North Texas Final
Western Illinois 52 vs. 10 Coastal Carolina Final
Oklahoma 49 vs. 41 Baylor Final Recap

No. 3 Sooners rally to defeat Baylor 49-41

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Saturday, September 23 at 11:06 PM (EDT)

WACO, Texas -- Third-ranked Oklahoma played mistake-ridden, flat football for more than 40 minutes versus Baylor, but the Sooners bounced back in time to preserve a victory.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield threw a long touchdown pass to wide receiver Jeff Badet and running back Trey Sermon broke loose for a long touchdown run to propel Oklahoma past the Bears 49-41 on Saturday night at McLane Stadium.

Baylor overcame an early 14-point deficit and took the lead over Oklahoma late in the third quarter.

But Mayfield's 48-yard touchdown pass to Badet took the lead back for Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) with 55 seconds left in the third quarter.

On the Sooners' next offensive series, Sermon sliced through the Baylor defense for a 34-yard touchdown run that put Oklahoma ahead 42-31 with 10:31 left.

The Sooners piled up 342 rushing yards. Oklahoma running back Abdul Adams ran for 164 and a touchdown and Sermon added 157 and two scores.

Mayfield was caught on camera taunting the Baylor players before the game saying, "You forgot who daddy is. I'm gonna have to spank you today." He didn't have to eat his words after passing for 283 yards and three touchdowns, though he was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the play before he threw the go-ahead touchdown pass.

Baylor (0-4, 0-1), which has lost five straight at home, scored the first 14 points of the second half.

Bears quarterback Zach Smith hit wide receiver Chris Platt for a 72-yard touchdown pass in the first minute of the third quarter. Smith followed by connecting with Tony Nicholson on a two-point pass that cut Oklahoma's lead to three points.

Connor Martin then booted field goals of 41 and 46 yards, the latter giving Baylor its first lead 31-28 with 2:45 left in the third quarter.

Smith finished with 463 passing yards and four TDs, but Oklahoma held Baylor to 60 rushing yards on 35 carries.

Oklahoma staked an early 14-0 lead as Mayfield passed to wide-open teammates.

Mayfield found tight end Mark Andrews all alone behind the secondary for a 24-yard touchdown pass for the game's initial score.

Next up, Oklahoma fullback Dimitri Flowers ran unguarded in the middle of the field, hauling in a Mayfield pass for a 52-yard catch-and-run touchdown on which Flowers easily pushed away a Bears defender near the goal line.

Baylor responded to the 14-point deficit with a big play on special teams that slowed the Sooners' onslaught.

Bears punt returner Nicholson found a seam and raced down the home sideline before he was tackled at the Oklahoma 34. A late hit on Sooners cornerback Parnell Motley set up Baylor at the 19, and Smith quickly cashed in with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Denzel Mims on the first play of the drive.

The Bears appeared to build on the momentum when Oklahoma kick returner Badet fumbled the ensuing kickoff and had to fall on the ball at the Sooners' 1.

But Oklahoma immediately turned the flub into a highlight as running back Abdul Adams burst through a hole and went the distance for a 99-yard touchdown run.

Still, Baylor stayed close through halftime.

Smith tossed a 71-yard touchdown pass to Mims midway through the second quarter, slicing the Sooners' lead to 28-17.

Oklahoma didn't score in the final 10 minutes of the first half and led by 11 at the break.

NOTES: Oklahoma entered the game with the longest active winning streak in FBS at 13 games and a 12-game winning streak in road contests. ... Baylor won its first 10 home games in McLane Stadium, which opened at the start of the 2014 season. However, Oklahoma was the first opponent to defeat the Bears in their new stadium when the Sooners claimed a 44-34 victory in Waco in 2015. ... Oklahoma has won five straight home openers while snapping Baylor's winning streak in such games at four.

[CLOSE]

UC Davis 3 vs. 41 Weber State Final
North Carolina A&T 49 vs. 17 Morgan State Final
San Diego State 28 vs. 24 Air Force Final Recap

No. 22 San Diego State hangs on to defeat Air Force

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Sunday, September 24 at 12:45 AM (EDT)

Rashaad Penny's third touchdown turned the tide in No. 22 San Diego State's favor for good, and the Aztecs survived a back-and-forth challenge from Air Force 28-24 in the Mountain West Conference opener for both teams Saturday at Air Force Academy, Colo.

The lead changed four times from the late third quarter until Penny's 53-yard scoring rush put San Diego State (4-0, 1-0 MWC) ahead for good in a game that included a 90-minute lightning delay. Air Force (1-2, 0-1) had two opportunities to respond, but Arion Worthman's last-ditch pass attempt was intercepted by San Diego State safety Trey Lomax.

"A couple of the long runs, they blocked superbly," Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun said, adding praise for Penny's play. "Certainly, it helps having a big-play running back. He's one of those guys who can outrun a contain (defense)."

Penny's 53-yard score came after Air Force took its second lead of the fourth quarter. Running back Tim McVey hurdled a trio of San Diego State defenders en route to a 12-yard touchdown.

Tight end David Wells, who caught the game-winning score a week earlier against Stanford, took a 28-yard pass over the top from quarterback Christian Chapman for a touchdown. The score came in response to Air Force's first points after the second-quarter lightning delay.

Garrett Kauppila blocked a San Diego State punt that Lesley Dagler recovered at the San Diego State 4-yard line. Worthman punched in the touchdown two plays later, then found Marcus Bennett for a two-point conversion pass.

"We were just prepared that we're going to have go down and score on every drive," Air Force fullback Parker Wilson said. "Unfortunately, things didn't go our way in the end. (But) as far as the mentality, everyone was locked in and ready to go."

The first of the lead changes came on Penny's second touchdown, an untouched 20-yard run late in the third quarter.

Penny saved the drive with a spectacular, one-handed reception of a pass that came out of Chapman's hand awkwardly after a blind-side hit.

Penny's 128 yards were a season low for the nation's rushing leader, who came in averaging 196, but his three rushing touchdowns set a career high.

"San Diego State played quite, quite well, especially in the second half," Calhoun said. "Quite frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if they win at least 10 (game) and a couple beyond that, as well."

The 90-minute lightning delay midway through the second quarter provided San Diego State a spark, but Air Force made a defensive stop to maintain a 9-7 lead at halftime.

"I thought we were beat at the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense in the first two-thirds of the first half," San Diego State head coach Rocky Long said. "I thought we played better at the line of scrimmage (after the delay)."

The Aztecs' first play out of the locker room following the delay was a 42-yard pass from Chapman to tight end Kahale Warring, setting up Penny for a 2-yard touchdown run.

An Air Force pass interference penalty in the end zone on third down helped continue the San Diego State scoring drive. It was the second costly Falcons penalty of the possession.

Just before the delay, defensive lineman Santo Coppola leveled San Diego State punter Brandon Heicklen for a 15-yard roughing penalty to extend the Aztecs' first scoring drive.

Both offenses struggled in the first half, combining for just 213 yards of total offense amid driving rain. Wind gusts reached 22 mph, rendering passing difficult, while soggy field conditions limited rushing attacks that came in ranked No. 6 and No. 24 in the nation. Penny finished the half with 29 on 10 carries.

Air Force got on the board first with a 29-yard Ronald Cleveland touchdown run, the longest single play of the half for the Falcons' triple-option offense.

A botched snap denied Air Force points on the ensuing point-after attempt. Another special teams snap miscue almost cost the Falcons again just before the half, setting up San Diego State deep in Air Force territory, but John Baron's 39-yard field-goal attempt went wide left.

Air Force built a 9-0 lead before the lightning delay when kicker Luke Strebel made a 45-yard field goal.

NOTES: San Diego State is 4-0 to open a season for the first time since 1981. ... Rashaad Penny has scored at least one touchdown in every game on the 2017 season, and has reached the end zone in five-of-six dating back to 2016. ... Air Force's 52 penalty yards were the Falcons' most this season. ... The lightning delay was only the second in the history of Falcon Stadium. The other was in a game between Air Force and San Diego State in 1993. ... The win was San Diego State's first as a Top 25 team since 1977. The Aztecs lost their very next game after entering the AP Top 25 Poll twice in the 2016 regular season.

[CLOSE]

Cumberland University 20 vs. 27 Presbyterian Final
Mississippi State 3 vs. 31 Georgia Final Recap

No. 11 Georgia puts clamps on No. 17 Mississippi St.

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Sunday, September 24 at 12:00 AM (EDT)

ATHENS, Ga. -- Kirby Smart isn't ready to start claiming greatness for 11th-ranked Georgia.

However, the Bulldogs are undoubtedly going to start gaining more attention after Saturday night's 31-3 rout of No. 17 Mississippi State. Just don't suggest to the Georgia coach that the team has turned some sort of corner.

Not yet, anyway.

"I know everyone wants to write how good this was, but we've still got dropped balls, we had missed blocks and we still had missed tackles," Smart said. "There's a lot of room for improvement and we've got a team that's got to go on the road (to Tennessee) this week just like Mississippi State had to after a big win."

Give Georgia's defense a tip of the cap for this one.

The Bulldogs made the game a nightmare for Mississippi State and Nick Fitzgerald, considered by many one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC.

Not on this night.

Fitzgerald completed just 14 of 29 passes with two interceptions for 89 yards as Georgia (4-0, 1-0 SEC) limited Mississippi State (3-1, 1-1) to 280 yards and zero touchdowns.

Coach Dan Mullen's Bulldogs entered the game as the leading offensive team in the SEC, averaging 47.7 points through three games.

"I think we came out with a good attitude," said Fitzgerald, who threw interceptions to Deandre Baker and Dominick Sanders during back-to-back series in the third quarter. "We played hard, there's no doubt about that. We just did not execute."

Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm and running back Nick Chubb proved to be a formidable combination.

Fromm, a freshman, enjoyed his best game in three starts, completing 9 of 12 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Chubb, meanwhile, had a customary solid game, rushing for 81 yards and two scores, including a 28-yarder on the opening possession of the third quarter that extended Georgia's lead to 21-3.

A 41-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Nauta and a 49-yard field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship capped the scoring for the Bulldogs.

Freshman D'Andre Swift chipped with 10 carries for 69 yards for Georgia, which rushed for 203 yards.

"Balance is pretty much always the game plan," Chubb said. "We take what they give. I thought we did a great job with that. We just look forward to carrying it on."

Color Mullen impressed.

"They've got a ridiculous amount of talent," Mullen said. "That's evident."

After forcing Mississippi State into a quick three-and-out to start the game, Georgia wasted no time getting on the board.

On the Bulldogs' first offensive play, Chubb took the handoff, turned and tossed the ball back to Fromm, who found Terry Godwin open down the field for a 59-yard touchdown.

Georgia's second possession also resulted in a score, this one a 6-yard run by Chubb for a 14-0 lead with just over six minutes left in the first quarter.

The Bulldogs dodged a bullet in the second quarter when Swift fumbled inside the team's 40-yard line, but Mississippi State could not take advantage of the gift, ultimately punting for the fifth time in the first half.

The visitors got on the board with 1:14 to go before halftime on a 26-yard field goal by Jace Christmann.

Otherwise, not much went right for Mississippi State.

Fromm had the best half of his young career, completing 8 of 8 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown.

Georgia returns to action for the first of two back-to-back road games at Tennessee, followed by a trip to Vanderbilt.

"Humility is a week away," Smart said. "Whether we lost this one or lost this one, we'd have to refocus, concentrate and get ready to do this again."

NOTES: Georgia QB Jacob Eason dressed out for the first time since spraining his left knee in the first quarter against Appalachian State in the season opener. After the game, Kirby Smart said he was not cleared to play. ... Injured Mississippi State DT Cory Thomas did not play. ... Georgia lost starting LG Solomon Kindley to an ankle injury late in the third quarter. X-rays were negative, but coach Kirby Smart was unsure how long the redshirt freshman will be out.

[CLOSE]

Ball State 21 vs. 33 Western Kentucky Final
Nicholls 17 vs. 66 Sam Houston State Final
Holy Cross 26 vs. 27 Dartmouth Final
Bowling Green 13 vs. 24 Middle Tennessee Final
Liberty 10 vs. 31 Jacksonville State Final
Arkansas-Pine Bluff 34 vs. 27 Jackson State Final
Austin Peay 27 vs. 7 Murray State Final
Houston Baptist 12 vs. 27 McNeese Final
Southern University 31 vs. 48 Alcorn State Final
Stephen F. Austin 20 vs. 10 Abilene Christian Final
Syracuse 26 vs. 35 LSU Final Recap

No. 25 LSU holds off Syracuse 35-26

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Sunday, September 24 at 12:08 AM (EDT)

BATON ROUGE, La. -- No. 25 LSU nearly blew an 18-point second-half lead, but wide receiver D.J. Chark raced 20 yards on a jet sweep for a touchdown with 1:52 left to seal a 35-26 victory over Syracuse Saturday night at Tiger Stadium.

Danny Etling threw touchdown passes of 87 and 43 yards for LSU (3-1), which was a heavy favorite but had its hands full with Syracuse.

The Orange rolled up 265 yards passing using a quick-tempo offense led by quarterback Eric Dungey.

After Syracuse trapped LSU tailback Darrel Williams for a safety, Dungey ran 14 yards for touchdown that narrowed the LSU lead to 28-19 late in the third quarter. Dungey also completed 32 of 53 passes, including a 22-yard scoring pass to Steve Ishmael late in the game that narrowed the deficit to 28-26 with 5:40 left.

Those touchdowns were part of Syracuse's 23-point second-half rally.

Clinging to a two-point lead and with the game on the line, LSU recovered an onside kick at the Tiger 44 and then reinserted Etling, who had been replaced for three series by freshman Myles Brennan.

With the aid of the short field, Etling engineered a 56-yard drive to put the game away.

Williams was the key player on the drive, racing 25 yards to the Syracuse 28 against a blitz. Williams finished with 92 yards rushing on 16 carries and added another 50 yards on three catches.

"I think the long ball saved us tonight," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said, referring to Etling's 43-yard scoring strike to Stephen Sullivan just before halftime, which gave the struggling LSU offense a 14-3 lead. Etling also had an 87-yard connection with Drake Davis on the first play of the second half that made it 21-3.

Etling finished 10 of 17 for 188 yards and two scores, and Brennan, getting his first significant action, went 4 of 6 for 75 yards. He also threw an interception at the Syracuse 20 that killed a potential scoring drive in the fourth quarter.

Orgeron quickly stamped out any speculation he was looking to move Brennan into the starter's role.

"We won with two guys," Orgeron said. "We were able to give Myles Brennan some reps when game was on the line, and obviously he did well in some situations and needs to do better in others. Danny is our starting quarterback. We wanted to give Myles some space with the game on the line."

Fullback J.D. Moore was upset that LSU failed to block better for Etling, who was under constant pressure.

"It was poor execution on our part," Moore said. "They ran a lot of complex pressures and movements."

While Syracuse coach Dino Babers said he was proud of his underdog team's valiant effort on the road, he said it wasn't good enough. He pointed particularly to LSU's quick TD strikes at the end of the first half and on the first play of the second half.

"I thought we had a good feel for their game plan," Babers said. "We had experience with their (offensive) coordinator (Matt Canada, who was with Pitt last year when the Panthers scored 72 points against Syracuse). I wish we could've done better coming out at halftime. Outside of that, I thought it was a really good (defensive) performance."

On Chark's decisive TD, he went right to left on a jet sweep, cut back inside near the left sideline and easily scored.

Syracuse lost its second consecutive game and dropped to 2-2.

LSU looked to be in control when Etling connected with Davis on a deep post route for an 87-yard score on the first play of the second half, giving the Tigers a 21-3 lead.

But Syracuse came right back with a 75-yard drive that was climaxed by a bit of trickery -- a handoff to running back Devin Butler, who wheeled and threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Ervin Philips, cutting the deficit to 21-10.

LSU switched to Brennan and regained an 18-point lead, 28-10, with a 91-yard, six-play drive. Williams gained 77 of the 91 yards on the drive, including a 43-yard swing pass that converted a third-and-4 and a 20-yard scoring run around left end.

After Syracuse backed LSU back at its 1-yard line with a 58-yard punt, linebacker Parris Bennett trapped Williams for a safety, making it 28-12. The Orange closed to 28-19 by taking the free kick 72 yards in 11 plays, with Dungey running around right end for a 14-yard score.

After Brennan was picked off at the Syracuse 20, the Orange continued their assault with an 80-yard, 13-play drive to close the gap to 28-26. The drive was kept alive by a roughing the passer call on 3rd-and-19 against LSU linebacker Devin White. Dungey connected with Ishmael for the 22-yard score with 5:40 left.

Even though LSU was having trouble moving the ball and had plenty of time to get the ball back, Babers attempted an onsides kick that LSU tight end Foster Moreau recovered at the 44, and LSU took advantage of the short field for the clinching TD.

NOTES: LSU benched P Josh Growden in the first half after he punted three times for a 34.7-yard average. Zach Von Rosenberg came in and nailed a 49-yarder that backed up Syracuse inside its 15. ... Syracuse P Sterling Hofrichter had a career game, averaging 46.7 yards on seven punts. He placed five punts inside the 20 and three inside the 10. ... Syracuse wasted a golden opportunity to take a 10-7 lead in the second quarter, but WR Sean Riley dropped a potential 55-yard TD pass in the end zone. ... LSU won its 49th consecutive home game against a nonconference opponent.

[CLOSE]

Florida Atlantic 31 vs. 34 Buffalo Final
Southeast Missouri State 16 vs. 19 Eastern Illinois Final
Arkansas State 21 vs. 44 SMU Final
Wagner 14 vs. 49 Western Michigan Final
Grambling State 38 vs. 6 Mississippi Valley State Final
Texas Southern 13 vs. 30 Alabama A&M Final
Villanova 10 vs. 19 Albany Final
Utah State 61 vs. 10 San Jose State Final
Florida 28 vs. 27 Kentucky Final Recap

No. 20 Florida rallies to beat Kentucky for 31st straight time

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Sunday, September 24 at 1:23 AM (EDT)

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Luke Del Rio threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to wide-open wide receiver Freddie Swain with 43 seconds left as No. 20 Florida rallied for a 28-27 victory over Kentucky on Saturday night at Kroger Field.

It was the Gators' only lead of the game. Florida defeated the Wildcats for the 31st straight time dating to 1986.

"Well, that was fun," Florida coach Jim McElwain said. "Just can't tell you how much I really like our football team. They keep hanging in there and figuring out a way to play the game."

Florida (2-1, 2-0 SEC) used 13 plays and chewed up 5:48 in the game-winning drive. Eddy Pineiro's PAT provided the winning margin.

The deciding touchdown was a point of consternation among the Kentucky faithful as Swain was completely uncovered and frantically waving his hands for the ball even before it was snapped. Del Rio delivered and Swain walked into the end zone.

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops explained that his defense got caught trying to substitute in bigger players for a possible goal-line stand. They only had 10 players on the field.

"We were getting into a big goal-line set and both corners came out and we left them uncovered," Stoops said. "That's our fault. We tried to change personnel groups too late. We should have lived with the call that we had and not tried to sub. We have got to communicate much better. We have got to do a better job of coaching them."

It was the second time in the game Florida had scored a touchdown after a wide receiver was left all alone.

With 3:16 before halftime, receiver Tyrie Cleveland was standing all alone next to the UK sidelines while all 11 UK players were clumped in the middle. The 45-yard touchdown followed.

"Quite honestly, we were looking at the unbalanced formation," Stoops said. "I was looking at the set and I was fixed on our fits because we were having some issues obviously with that set. We were looking at the bunch set and by the time we realized that there was nobody on him ... I tried to call a timeout and it was too late. I was fractions off of getting the timeout."

The Gators' long drive left Kentucky only 43 seconds to steal the win. Kentucky marched to the Florida 25-yard line, but a holding penalty against offensive lineman Nick Haynes nullified the play leaving the Wildcats with a desperation field-goal attempt of 57 yards. Austin MacGinnis' kick was straight, but fell short.

"Obviously, that was a heartbreaking penalty at that point," Stoops said. "Did you see it? I didn't either. So yeah, that's a heartbreaking call."

Florida, which used two quarterbacks, had 395 total yards offense. Feleipe Franks passed for 85 yards and one touchdown. Del Rio, who entered in the third quarter, passed for 74 yards and a score. Malik Davis led the rushing with 93 yards, Cleveland topped receivers with 110 yards and a touchdown.

"It's a great road win. Great crowd, sellout crowd. That's the loudest I've heard Kentucky's stadium," Del Rio said. "It sounded a lot louder than 62,000. They did a really good job filling the seats. Players played really hard. Glad we came out with a win."

Kentucky (3-1, 1-1) had 220 passing yards with senior quarterback Stephen Johnson collecting 196 and three touchdowns.

The Wildcats added 120 rushing yards for a total offensive production of 340 yards. Sophomore running back Sihiem King led the way with 64 yards.

"That one is going to hurt because of what we've invested," Stoops said. "Our players have worked to be in a position like that, and it definitely hurts when you've invested what we have put into it. You could have heard a pin drop in there."

After battling to a 14-14 tie at halftime, Kentucky appeared to take control with 13 unanswered points for a 27-14 lead early in the second half.

On its first possession of the second half, Kentucky marched 62 yards in four plays in 1:48 when Johnson passed 23 yards to tight end C.J. Conrad for the touchdown. It was Conrad's third touchdown in four games this season.

MacGinnis added two field goals to push the lead to 27-14 with 11:33 to play. The senior nailed a 42-yarder with 5:54 left in the third period and added a 50-yard kick with 11:33 left in the game. The 50-yarder was the 58th in MacGinnis' career, breaking a school record.

Florida's Brandon Powell rushed 6 yards for a touchdown with 7:58 left to set the stage for the last-minute heroics. It was the second straight week Florida won in the closing seconds, following a Hail Mary touchdown win over Tennessee.

"I guess people in the concession stands are liking us," McElwain said. "They are selling stuff all the way until the end."

Kentucky and Florida battled to a 14-14 tie at halftime with the teams alternating touchdowns.

The Wildcats scored first when Johnson found receiver Blake Bone in the left corner of the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown with 5:06 remaining in the first quarter.

The Gators countered with a 36-yard scoring run by Kadarius Toney with 14:16 in the second quarter.

Stephen Johnson found Garrett Johnson in the right corner of the end for a 9-yard touchdown pass with 7:24 remaining in the second.

Florida bounced back to tie at 14 on a 45-yard touchdown pass from Franks to Cleveland 3:16 before halftime.

The Gators outgained the Wildcats 186-184 in the first half with Florida rushing for 101 yards and Kentucky passing for 100.

NOTES: Saturday's game in Lexington marked the first sellout for Kentucky since it faced Auburn on Oct. 15, 2015 -- a Thursday night. ... Kentucky entered Saturday's game ranked No. 3 nationally in rushing defense at 57.0 yards per game. ... Notre Dame transfer QB Malik Zaire did not win the starting job at Florida, but still proved valuable to the Gators. In preparation for Saturday's game, Zaire ran the scout team in the role of Kentucky's dual-threat QB Stephen Johnson. "Those things really help our defense, to give them a look at that type of player," Florida coach Jim McElwain said. ... Of the 68 games played between Florida and Kentucky, 22 have been decided by seven points or fewer. Florida leads in those games 16-6. ... Kentucky was denied its first 4-0 start since 2008 and its first 2-0 start in SEC play since 1977.

[CLOSE]

FIU 13 vs. 7 Rice Final
Penn State 21 vs. 19 Iowa Final Recap

No. 4 Penn State stuns Iowa with TD on final play

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Sunday, September 24 at 1:08 AM (EDT)

Champions find a way to win and James Franklin has No. 4 Penn State believing it can overcome any sort of adversity.

Quarterback Trace McSorley threaded the needle, completing a 7-yard touchdown pass to Juwan Johnson on the game's final play to give the Nittany Lions a 21-19 win on Saturday against a dogged Iowa Hawkeyes squad at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

"Our team believes," Franklin said. "We've believed for two years now. We had great field position throughout the game. We just weren't able to get into the end zone."

In a game that was dominated by the defenses for most of the first three quarters, it was the offenses that rose to the occasion in the fourth quarter.

McSorley, who finished 31 of 48 for 284 yards with an interception, drove the Nittany Lions (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) 80 yards in 12 plays in the final 1:42 after the Hawkeyes (3-1, 0-1) took a 19-15 lead in only three plays.

"Trace is one of the toughest guys I've ever been around," Franklin said. "He never stops believing."

Akrum Wadley put Iowa in great position to pull off the upset when he scored on a 35-yard run to put the Hawkeyes up by four. Earlier in the quarter, Wadley and quarterback Nathan Stanley hooked up for a 70-yard touchdown pass.

Wadley scored twice and finished with 155 total yards on 19 carries and four receptions.

Penn State's Saquon Barkley rushed for a career-high 211 yards and one touchdown. He also had 12 receptions for 94 yards while earning Franklin's praise.

"From a coach's perspective, I can't imagine a better player in the country," Franklin said.

Barkley was quick to credit McSorley for engineering the victory.

"Trace did an unbelievable job going through his progression," he said. "I was able to make some guys miss and get some yards."

On the game-winning play, Barkley picked up a blitzing linebacker to give McSorley some extra time to throw the game-winning pass.

"We're disappointed with the loss," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "It's gonna hurt for a while. But we will have to move on. This team has great attitude and great character ... we'll flip the page on Monday."

The Nittany Lions could have taken an 18-13 lead with 2:28 left in the fourth quarter, but came up empty on a 15-play, 75-yard drive when Anthony Nelson blocked Tyler Davis' 31-yard field-goal attempt.

On that drive, Penn State leaned on Barkley, who converted a crucial fourth-and-1 with 5:38 left to keep the drive alive.

Three plays later, Barkley took a short pass 15 yards to the Iowa 15.

"It was a critical moment of the game," he said, adding that he had to "get the first down and do whatever it takes."

Barkley's 8-yard scamper midway through the third period gave the Nittany Lions a little breathing room at 15-7. The key play was his 44-yard run where he dodged tacklers and tiptoed down the sideline to set up Penn State's first touchdown

Barkley became the seventh player in Penn State history to reach 3,000 yards.

McSorley atoned for costly errors at the end of the second and third periods. His interception late in the second period led to the Hawkeyes' first touchdown.

Toward the end of the third period, he was sacked by A.J. Epenesa and fumbled on the Iowa 45. Josey Jewell recovered. The Hawkeyes moved into field-goal territory but came up empty as Miguel Recinos' 36-yard field-goal attempt was blocked by Troy Apke.

"That game is illustrative of what it takes to win in the conference," Ferentz said. "Both teams competed about as hard as you possibly can, and there were a lot of different swings in the game, certainly the last two drives; both teams executed well down the stretch."

The name of the game in the first half was defense.

With temperatures in the low 80s, the Hawkeyes' defense didn't wilt despite Penn State's offense holding a 2-to-1 time of possession advantage.

Even though the Iowa offense was thoroughly outplayed in the first 30 minutes, the Hawkeyes hung around and took a 7-5 lead into halftime.

Penn State held Iowa to 54 total yards and three first downs. The Hawkeyes had only one first down until the 4:34 mark of the second period.

More than a smattering of boos could be heard at Kinnick Stadium as the swarming Nittany Lions defense was in command.

"Playing night games at Kinnick are always special," Ferentz said.

Penn State's offense in the first half ran nearly 30 plays in Iowa territory and had 219 total yards but only three points to show for their effort as the Iowa defense matched the Nittany Lions tackle for tackle.

Penn State downed three punts inside the 10-yard line and the Nittany Lions defense finally took advantage of a third punt, which was downed on the 1-yard line.

On a second-and-8 from their own 3-yard line, Wadley took a pitch from Stanley and was tackled in the end zone by Shareef Miller for a safety and a 5-0 Penn State lead.

Iowa's best play was a Colten Rastetter 53-yard punt that backed up the Nittany Lions inside their 6-yard line with less than two minutes left. McSorley moved the Nittany Lions out of danger to their 45-yard line, but made a costly mistake by throwing an interception with 43 seconds left in the half.

Jewell returned the interception 33 yards to the Penn State 21-yard line. On the next play, and the first play the Hawkeyes ran in Penn State territory, Stanley connected with Nick Easley for a touchdown and a 7-5 Iowa lead.

NOTES: Penn State had scored 30-plus points in 10 straight games. ... Nittany Lions QB Trace McSorley has thrown a touchdown in 19 straight games. ... Penn State confirmed DE Torrance Brown, who injured his knee in a game against Georgia State, will miss the rest of the season. ... The Hawkeyes were averaging 33 points coming into Saturday night. ... The Nittany Lions had given up only two touchdowns in their first three games. ... Former Iowa LB Chad Greenway served as honorary captain.

[CLOSE]

UTSA 44 vs. 14 Texas State Final
Auburn 51 vs. 14 Missouri Final Recap

No. 15 Auburn crushes Missouri 51-14

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Sunday, September 24 at 12:44 AM (EDT)

No. 15 Auburn was in need of an offensive spark. Running back Kerryon Johnson delivered.

Johnson rushed for five touchdowns -- four in the first half -- and Auburn rolled past Missouri 51-14 on Saturday in Columbia, Mo.

Johnson battled a hamstring injury that caused him to miss Auburn's previous two games but started against Missouri on Saturday and added another element to coach Gus Malzahn's offense by running out of the wildcat formation.

Johnson finished with 48 of Auburn's 263 rushing yards. His five touchdowns were one shy of the school record set by Carnell "Cadillac" Williams in 2003.

"Our goal was to rush for over 200 yards," Malzahn said after the win. "We were able to do that."

Auburn thwarted a Missouri fake punt from its own 19-yard line early in the third quarter. Two plays later, Johnson scored out of the wildcat formation.

Quarterback Jarrett Stidham threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Nate Craig-Meyers on Auburn's next drive to extend the lead 45-7.

Missouri lost its third straight game and struggled on both sides of the ball. After scoring 72 points in an opening win over Missouri State, coach Barry Odom's Tigers have managed just 30 points in their last three games.

"I want to get one thing real straight," Odom said after the loss. "I'm going to win here. That will happen. We will win. This is a turnaround, whichever way you slice it or dice it."

Missouri quarterback Drew Lock threw touchdown passes to Damarea Crockett and J'Mon Moore. Sophomore receiver Johnathon Johnson caught 10 passes for 85 yards.

Auburn put together its most complete performance of an uneven first month of the season, which included a 14-6 loss at No. 2 Clemson and multiple lackluster offensive outings.

Malzahn and the offense caught heat after the loss to Clemson and a sluggish performance in an opening win over Georgia Southern. Stidham and the offense moved the ball in last week's win over Mercer but committed five turnovers in a closer-than-expected win over an FCS opponent.

But the Tigers' offense was sharp, balanced and explosive Saturday.

Stidham completed 13 of 17 passes for 218 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. He hooked up with receiver Kyle Davis on a 58-yard completion on Auburn's first play of the game and also threw a 46-yard completion to receiver Will Hastings.

While the offense found its groove, Auburn's defense kept doing what it has been doing all season -- dominating.

Auburn entered the game ranked second nationally in total defense

and put together another stellar performance. The Tigers forced four turnovers.

Junior defensive back Carlton Davis had an interception off a tipped pass that led to a touchdown, and sophomore defensive lineman Marlon Davidson returned a fumble to the Missouri 20-yard line, setting up Johnson's fourth touchdown run of the first half that put the Tigers up 28-0.

"We talked about wanting to play well in all three phases of the game," Malzahn said. "And I think we did that."

Johnson scored on runs of 7, 2, 1 and 1 yards in the first half.

Trailing by four touchdowns late in the second quarter, Missouri mounted its best drive of the first half. Lock hit a series of short throws before capping a 10-play drive with a well-executed screen pass to Crockett.

The drive accounted for 78 of Missouri's 173 yards in the first half.

After going 4-8 last season, Odom is squarely on the hot seat after this year's 1-3 start. But the second-year coach remains resilient.

"I'm the man to go get it done, with this staff, with this team, with this program," Odom said passionately.

Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson's 41-yard field goal sent the visiting Tigers into halftime with a commanding 31-7 lead. Carlson, who had some early misses this season, booted three field goals in Saturday's win.

"He's back," Malzahn said of his standout kicker.

So is Auburn's offense, which finished with 482 total yards.

NOTES: Auburn RB Kamryn Pettway, an All-SEC tailback, was "not 100 percent," according to Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, and did not receive a carry. ... Saturday's game marked the first-ever meeting between Auburn and Missouri. ... Auburn DB Carlton Davis had his fourth career interception. ... Auburn LB Jeff Holland had a fumble on a sack of Missouri QB Drew Lock in the first half.... Missouri has a bye next week, before returning to SEC play on Oct. 7 at Kentucky. ... Auburn hosts No. 17 Mississippi State next Saturday.

[CLOSE]

Sunday, September 24, 2017
National Hockey League
Blues vs. Penguins 8:00 (EDT)
Golden Knights vs. Ducks 8:00 (EDT)
Predators vs. Blue Jackets 3:00 (EDT)
Panthers vs. Lightning 4:00 (EDT)
Wild vs. Avalanche 7:00 (EDT)
Saturday, September 23, 2017
National Hockey League
Stars 4 vs. 0 Blues Final
Blue Jackets 3 vs. 2 Blackhawks Final
Jets 2 vs. 6 Oilers Final
Sharks 5 vs. 4 Coyotes Final
Kings 4 vs. 3 Canucks Final
Avalanche 1 vs. 2 Wild Final
Bruins 1 vs. 5 Red Wings Final
Canadiens 1 vs. 5 Senators Final
Hurricanes 4 vs. 1 Capitals Final
Maple Leafs 3 vs. 1 Sabres Final
Rangers 1 vs. 2 Devils Final