NCAA

NIT: Not irrelevant tournament

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NIT: Not irrelevant tournament

Moments after Stanford lost to Cal in the Pac-12 Tournament thereby dashingthe Cardinals faint NCAA Tourney hopes I commiserated with Coach JohnnyDawkins. I said, Hey, get into the NIT,and go win the thing. He smiled wrylyand nodded.Exactly three weeks later, Coach Dawkins and his team havethe chance to do just that. A win over Minnesota will giveStanford its second NIT championship.Now I know what youre thinking.Some combination of Who cares? and, Great, so theyll be the 69thbest team in the country. Ill address the latter quip first: thats plain silly. Thanks to the automatic bids, there are atleast 15 teams in the NCAA tournament that are worse than the majority of NITparticipants. And yes, smarty pants, Irealize that being the 54th best team isnt anything to brag abouteither. But its not about that. Its about winning a championship, even onethat is secondary in nature. Winning a32-team tourney aint easy, regardless of the name on the marquis.As for who cares, I will say this: There are two types of teams that play in theNIT those that are disappointed by not making the real tournament andtherefore dont really want to be there, and those that had little or no shotat the NCAA but believe theyre moving in the right direction and see the NITas a stepping stone. Stanford clearlyfalls into the second category.This is, without question, a team on the rise. Granted, four seniors includingall-conference forward Josh Owens will move on; but the real nucleus of thegroup is a monstrous sophomore class.Combined with freshman stud Chasson Randle, theyre primed not only toget back to the big dance next season, but to contend for a conferencetitle. This team is peaking at the right time, and more fun towatch than it has been in years. Hugetalents like Dwight Powell and Anthony Brown are finally beginning to realizetheir potential. Aaron Brightspassion gives his 59 body a 69 game.There is energy, there is excitement.That is why fans should care. For Stanford, the NIT is a means to an end. Getting in means little; winning it means alot. It would be a significant step inthe rebuilding process that began the moment the Lopez twins announced theywere leaving two years early for the NBA.And hey, always nice to hang a banner Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal women shouldnt get to have allthe fun.

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal

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AP

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal

BOX SCORE

PALO ALTO — Bryce Love rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown despite missing most of the fourth quarter after aggravating an ankle injury, and No. 20 Stanford held off California 17-14 on Saturday to keep its Pac-12 title hopes alive.

K.J. Costello completed 17 of 26 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown, Ben Edwards made a key interception in the fourth quarter and Cameron Scarlett rushed for 49 yards on the final drive in place of Love to help the Cardinal (8-3, 7-2 Pac-12) milk the clock and win its eighth straight Big Game.

Stanford can earn a spot in the Pac-12 championship game against USC but needs some help.

The Cardinal can get there if No. 15 Washington State loses to No. 16 Washington next week. If the Cougars — who beat Stanford 24-21 on Nov. 4 — beat the Huskies, they get the nod because of the tiebreaker.

The nation's leading rusher going into the game, Love was held in check most of the game by Cal's defense and sat out the final 11:43 after re-injuring his ankle that has bothered him for the past month. He did stay on the field long enough to score a 57-yard touchdown — his 11th run of 50 yards or longer this season.

Scarlett, Love's primary backup all season, also came up big for Stanford. Scarlett rushed for 61 yards, the majority coming on the Cardinal's last drive that took the final 7:25. Scarlett's 2-yard gain on 4th-and-1 kept the drive going.

Patrick Laird ran for 153 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries while Ross Bowers passed for 182 yards and a touchdown for California. The Golden Bears (5-6, 2-6) need a win in their final game to become bowl eligible in coach Justin Wilcox's first season.

THE TAKEAWAY

California: The Bears made the Cardinal sweat and kept the game a lot closer than many thought possible. Wilcox's defense did a good job bottling up Love most of the game but couldn't stop Scarlett on the final drive which was huge. Still, there are plenty of positives for Cal to take out of this one.

Stanford: It wasn't the best game for David Shaw's team but the Cardinal gritted it out and held off a pesky Cal team that had plenty to play for. The conference title can still happen but before that Stanford has a pretty big game coming up against Notre Dame.

UP NEXT

California: Ends the regular season at UCLA on Saturday.

Stanford: The Cardinal stay home and will host No. 9 Notre Dame on Saturday. Stanford has won the last two and six of last eight against the Irish.

Former Cal running back suffers scary spine injury, taken to hospital

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AP

Former Cal running back suffers scary spine injury, taken to hospital

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The New Orleans Saints say running back Daniel Lasco has feelings in his extremities after suffering a spinal injury making a tackle on a kickoff return during today's game at Buffalo.

Lasco was loaded into an ambulance on the field and taken to a hospital.

He was hurt six minutes into the second quarter when he appeared to lower his head while tackling Bills returner Brandon Tate. 

Lasco played four seasons at the University of California, Berkeley. He gained 1,471 yards from scrimmage with 14 touchdowns his junior year. In 2015 as a senior, Lasco was limited to nine games and only totaled 355 yards. 

The Saints selected Lasco in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Associated Press contributed to this report