Athletics

Orange Bowl: Stanford, VaTech on historic runs

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Orange Bowl: Stanford, VaTech on historic runs

Dec. 30, 2010NO. 5 STANFORD (11-1) vs.NO. 12 VIRGINIA TECH (11-2)

2010-11 BOWL SCHEDULERESULTS

MIAMI (AP) -- In only four years, Stanford has completed a turnaround from doormat to elite team.

The reward for its hard work is a BCS bowl game against Virginia Tech -- one of the few teams in college football hotter than the Cardinal.

In a matchup pitting two of the nation's best quarterbacks, Andrew Luck leads Stanford into its first Orange Bowl on Monday night to take on Tyrod Taylor and ACC champion Hokies, who will try to close their season with a 12th consecutive win.

Stanford's transformation began in 2007 when Jim Harbaugh took over a team that had gone 1-11 the previous year. The Cardinal increased their win total each of the first three seasons under the former Michigan and NFL star quarterback before going a school-record 11-1 in 2010.

Even Harbaugh has been surprised.

ROSTERS: Stanford Virginia Tech

"I'm pretty much a historian of football, dating back 100 years," he said. "This is one of the best turnarounds I've witnessed in 50 years."

Since losing to then-No. 4 Oregon in early October, Stanford has reeled off seven straight wins, its longest run in 19 years.

"That's why this program has progressed, because guys have bought into what he's saying and what he was preaching," defensive lineman Sione Fua said of Harbaugh. "And now we're here four years later going to a BCS game."

A little bit of Luck has also helped.

Luck was a distant second to Auburn's Cam Newton in the Heisman Trophy voting, but he certainly put up stellar numbers. The Pac-10's offensive player of the year broke the single-season school record with 28 touchdown passes while helping the Cardinal average 40.3 points.

Luck has also completed more than 70 percent of his throws for 3,051 yards and rushed for 438 more, including three runs of at least 50 yards.

"With Andrew, you notice all of it because it's just amazing," said Doug Baldwin, who leads Stanford's receivers with 824 yards and nine TDs. "... You look on highlight film of the NFL and you don't see the things Andrew does at the college level."

The junior has thrown only seven interceptions, but he'll be facing one of the most opportunistic defenses in the nation. Virginia Tech is second in the FBS with 22 picks.

Luck's second-place Heisman finish was the second straight for the Cardinal after Toby Gerhart was runner-up to Alabama's Mark Ingram in 2009. Stanford, though, could have a Heisman winner down the road in running back Stepfan Taylor.

The sophomore was second in the Pac-10 with 15 TDs, trailing Ducks star and Heisman finalist LaMichael James. Taylor also became the sixth Stanford running back to eclipse 1,000 yards.

While Stanford is seeking its first postseason win since blanking Michigan State in the 1996 Sun Bowl, Virginia Tech probably couldn't have envisioned reaching a BCS game after seeing its national title hopes quickly disappear.

STATISTICS: Stanford Virginia Tech

Following a season-opening loss to Boise State, the Hokies were stunned five days later by FCS member James Madison, 21-16 in arguably the biggest upset of the year.

Frank Beamer's team hasn't lost since, defeating Florida State 44-33 on Dec. 4 to capture its third ACC title in four years.

"Those two losses we had at the beginning of the year makes these 11 wins and an ACC championship seem even greater," Beamer said.

The biggest factor in the Hokies bouncing back from the puzzling first two games to reach the Orange Bowl is Taylor.

Despite the stunningly poor start by his team, the conference player of the year finished with a school-record 23 touchdown passes and four interceptions. Taylor was the team's second-leading rusher with 823 yards and five scores, evoking memories of a former dual threat.

"We were fortunate to have Michael Vick at Virginia Tech. We were fortunate to have Tyrod Taylor. You get that feeling on the sideline like the next play could be a big play," Beamer said.

Taylor's top receivers are Jarrett Boykin (team highs of 763 yards and six TDs), Danny Coale (640 yards, three TDs) and tight end Andre Smith (five TDs). Darren Evans and Ryan Williams also provide punch out of the backfield - Evans leads the Hokies with 846 yards and 11 scores while Williams has gained 525 yards with nine TDs in only nine games.

Besides leading the ACC with 58 touchdowns and 462 points, Virginia Tech became the only school in the nation to notch 10 wins in each of the last seven seasons.

REWIND: Stanford results Virginia Tech season recap

That seemed highly unlikely not long ago.

"I'm just proud of the way we turned things around from an 0-2 start," Taylor said after beating Florida State.

This will be the Hokies' third Orange Bowl appearance in four years. They lost 24-21 to Kansas in 2008 and defeated Cincinnati 20-7 in 2009.

Former A's owner Ken Hofmann passes away at 95

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USATSI

Former A's owner Ken Hofmann passes away at 95

Ken Hofmann, who owned the A's for 10 years, passed away on Sunday night. He was 95.

Oakland native Hofmann purchased the Athletics franchise with partner Steve Schott on November 1, 1995, and ran the franchise through the 2005 season. Under his ownership, the Athletics won three American League West Division titles (2000, 2002, 2003) and made the playoffs four times (2000-2003). During that four-year postseason stretch, the A’s won the second-most games in Major League baseball with 392, an average of 98 wins per season. During his 10 seasons with the club, Oakland won the 3rd-most games in the American League and the 7th-most games in Major League Baseball.

A's president Dave Kaval issued the following statement:

“The Oakland A’s are deeply saddened by the news of Ken Hofmann’s passing. He will be remembered for his commitment to our community and his passion for the A’s. His contributions to our organization are still felt today. We extend our condolences to the Hofmann family, and our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time."

The Oakland A's media services contributed to this report.

Warriors brief: Shaun 'the stabilizing force' Livingston

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AP

Warriors brief: Shaun 'the stabilizing force' Livingston

As the regular season concluded and the Warriors were heading into the playoffs, the hottest name and topic of discussion was Quinn Cook. He had played exceptionally well in the absence of the Warriors stars, serving primarily as Steph Curry’s replacement.

To many it was an obvious assumption that Cook would insert himself into the starting lineup as the point guard for the first round of the playoffs as well. However, when Andre Iguodala surprisingly got the nod over Cook, the conversation changed to the Warriors’ desire to start a defensive unit and how the coaches would incorporate Cook into the bench rotations. Lost in all of this conversation was a forgotten man: Shaun Livingston.

This is the fourth season that Livingston served as Curry’s primary backup, until Cook’s late season flurry. While the quiet and stoic Livingston hasn’t received much fanfare over the years, his consistent play has been a “stabilizing force” in the Warriors second unit, as Steve Kerr referred to following their Game 4 loss. But where Livingston has excelled most in his brief but accomplished Warriors career is in the playoffs when Curry has been out.

Including the six games Curry missed in the 2015-16 playoffs and the four games missed so far this postseason, Livingston has averaged 11.8 points per game on 53 percent shooting, while adding 3.9 assists and 2.8 rebounds over 25 minutes. 

Livingston has scored in double digits in eight of the ten games, which in contrast, is the same number of games he scored in double figures over his last 71 regular season contests. As a member of the Warriors, Livingston has averaged 5.7 points over 18 minutes per game, on 52 percent shooting with 2.6 assists and 2.1 rebounds. 

Look for Livingston to be a stabilizing force in the Warriors lineup on Tuesday night as the team tries to advance to the second round to face a Pelicans team that is deep with very capable guards. Even with Curry’s eventual return, the Warriors will need Livingston’s length and ball handling skills to disrupt the Pelicans’ small ball attack.

But before the Warriors are able to turn their focus to New Orleans, you can expect Livingston to be as assertive and aggressive as ever trying to close out the series.