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No. 1 Oregon tries to avoid Bama-like upset

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No. 1 Oregon tries to avoid Bama-like upset

No. 1 team in the nation, playing at home against a ranked divisional rival with two losses on its record and an elusive redshirt freshman quarterback directing its offense.

Sounds familiar.

Last week it was top-ranked Alabama losing to No. 15 Texas A&M to shake up the national championship race.

This week, new No. 1 Oregon hosts No. 14 Stanford, looking to avoid a repeat.

The Tide's loss has left the Ducks, second in the BCS, and No. 2 Kansas State, first in the BCS, on course to play for the national championship.

The Wildcats have what looks like an easier task this week - a game at Baylor (4-5).

No. 3 Notre Dame plays Wake Forest (5-5) on Saturday, hoping to stay unbeaten and take one of those spots if the Cardinal or Bears can pull an upset. No. 4 Alabama needs two upsets to get back into the front row.

The Ducks seem to be walking into a similar situation as the Tide last week. The Cardinal even have their own version of Johnny Football.

New starting quarterback Kevin Hogan has invigorated Stanford's offense, first in an easy victory against Colorado, and then in last week's huge win against Oregon State.

Hogan was 22 for 29 for 254 yards against the Beavers. He's not quite Johnny Manziel on the move, but he did run for 49 yards on 11 carries.

The Ducks have dominated the rivalry historically, but only recently with Stanford's rise to power has it become a huge game on the West Coast. A wild one, too.

Stanford beat the Ducks 51-42 in 2009. The last two seasons Oregon struck back with 52-31 and 53-30 victories in which the Ducks pulled away in the second half.

Oregon comes in with all sorts of injuries nagging its defense. The Ducks will likely be down to their third starting free safety, and they had five defensive linemen miss most or all of last week's game.

Stanford's defense - led by linebackers Chase Thomas and Shayne Skov - has been one of the best in the nation, ranking ninth in yards per play (4.48) and sacks (42).

``They're good against the run, they're good against the pass,'' Oregon Coach Chip Kelly said. ``I think it's a huge challenge for us offensively getting matched up against what will be the best defense we've faced so far. Lot of veteran players on that side of the ball that play very hard.''

But as the recent scores show, the Cardinal have yet to figure out a way slow Oregon's spread, which is operating better than ever behind another redshirt freshman quarterback, Marcus Mariota. The Ducks are the highest scoring team in the nation at 55 points per game, with at least 42 in every game.

Of course, Alabama hadn't allowed more than 17 point in a game before A&M came to town and put 29 on the Tide.

The picks:

SATURDAY

No. 14 Stanford (plus 20 1/2) at No. 1 Oregon

Ducks clinch Pac-12 north with victory ... OREGON 45-28.

No. 2 Kansas State (minus 11 1/2) at Baylor

Bears No. 2 in country on total offense, last in total defense ... KANSAS STATE 55-31.

Wake Forest (plus 23 1/2) at No. 3 Notre Dame

Irish finishing up ACC portion of the schedule ... NOTRE DAME 38-14.

Western Carolina (no line) at No. 4 Alabama

Biggest mismatch in this week's FCS-SEC challenge ... It could be ALABAMA 100-0 if Tide wanted it to be.

Georgia Southern (no line) at No. 5 Georgia

Eagles option often gives big boys headaches ... GEORGIA 48-24.

No. 6 Ohio State (plus 3) at Wisconsin

Buckeyes quest for perfection faces tough test ... WISCONSIN 28-24.

Jacksonville State (no line) at No. 7 Florida

Gators injured QB Jeff Driskel gets week off ... FLORIDA 42-10.

Mississippi (plus 18 1/2) at No. 8 LSU

Tigers hoping for BCS at-large bid, Rebels need win for bowl eligibility ... LSU 35-14.

Sam Houston State (no line) at No. 9 Texas A&M

Little more time for Aggies to bask ... TEXAS A&M 58-17.

No. 10 Florida State (minus 31) at Maryland

Seminoles can clinch ACC Atlantic Division ... 45-7.

BEST BET

North Carolina State (minus 17) at No. 11 Clemson

Tigers need Terps to pull upset to pass `Noles ... CLEMSON 45-21.

Wofford (no line) at No. 12 South Carolina

Gamecocks tuneup for Tigers ... SOUTH CAROLINA 38-17.

No. 13 Oklahoma (minus 11) at West Virginia

Mountaineers have gone from top-five to trying to get bowl-eligible ... OKLAHOMA 48-24.

California (off) at No. 15 Oregon State

Both teams have QB injury problems ... OREGON STATE 28-13.

Minnesota (plus 19 1/2) at No. 16 Nebraska

Huskers win plus Michigan loss gives Nebraska division title ... NEBRASKA 45-17.

No. 21 Southern California (minus 4) at No. 17 UCLA

Winner clinches Pac-12 South ... USC 35-28.

UPSET SPECIAL

Utah State (minus 3) at No. 19 Louisiana Tech

Spread tells all you need to know about under-appreciated Aggies ... LOUISIANA TECH 40-38.

No. 22 Rutgers (plus 6 1/2) at Cincinnati

Rutgers is in control of Big East race, for now ... CINCINNATI 21-16.

Iowa (off) at No. 23 Michigan

With or without Denard Robinson, Wolverines should be fine ... MICHIGAN 24-14.

No. 23 Texas Tech (plus 10 1/2) at Oklahoma State

Cowboys looking for fourth straight against Red Raiders ... OKLAHOMA ST. 38-31.

No. 25 Kent State (plus 2 1/2) at Bowling Green

Hard to stay ranked in tough MAC ... KENT STATE 34-28.

Last week's record: 19-2 (straight); 11-9 (vs. points)

Season record: 182-37 (straight); 105-95 (vs. points)

Best bets: 5-6.

Upset specials: 7-4.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphdurssoAP

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Game 4 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 4 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

With a thrilling double-overtime victory in Game 3, the Capitals are right back in the series. Trailing the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1, the Caps will look to even up the series at 2-games apiece before returning to Washington for Game 5.

As the Caps take the ice for Game 4, you can be certain that Braden Holtby will be the man to lead the team in net. His stellar performance in Game 3 resolidified him as the team' starter and ended whatever goalie tandem there was between him and Philipp Grubauer.

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Round 1, Game 4

Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 4 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 4 on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals take on the Blue Jackets in Game 4 on Thursday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Columbus. Columbus currently leads the series 2-1.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME ON?

Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 4 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:30 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Blue Jackets
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:30 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 4, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly- Lars Eller - Devante Smith-Pelly
Chandler Stephenson -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky (upper-body), Shane Gerisch, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

SEE THE CAPITALS VS. BLUE JACKETS FULL SERIES SCHEDULE HERE

CAPITALS SCHEDULE

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Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, April 19, seven days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

We know what to expect out of many members of the Redskins. Ryan Kerrigan will register between 10 and 13 sacks. Zach Brown will be among the league leaders in tackles. Jamison Crowder will compile about 800 yards receiving. But we really don’t know what to expect out of a lot of the players expected to play key roles. Here are five of them.

S Montae Nicholson—Although most of the uncertainty surrounding Nicholson is about his health, we really don’t know what he can do over a full season. Sure, he looked good in the six games he played last year but opposing offenses did not have much of a chance to probe his weaknesses. If he stays healthy, his ability to adjust to what the offenses are doing against him will be the next phase of his development. 

CB Fabian Moreau—As a rookie, he was impressive as a punt team gunner, but he got very limited playing time on defense (59 snaps, only seven after Week 5). The Redskins will be counting on him stepping into a bigger role after the departures of Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller. He has the tools but we won’t know how well he can handle the job until he gets extended playing time. 

WR Maurice Harris—Last year he went from spectacular to invisible in a hurry. He made a sensational catch for 36 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings the first time he was targeted. In five games after that, he had just three receptions for 26 yards. Should he have had more playing time (76 snaps)? Or did he just not earn more targets? The real Maurice Harris should come to the forefront in 2018.

NT Phil Taylor—You know the story here. He was looking great in training camp until a quad injury sidelined him for the season. Taylor is healthy enough for the Redskins to give him another chance but this is a player who has not taken the field since November of 2014. We simply don’t know what to expect out of him even if he does make into Week 1 in good health. 

RB Samaje Perine—His play improved as the year went on but he wasn’t good enough to keep both Jay Gruden and Doug Williams from saying that running back is a draft need. Ideally, he shares carries with the probable draft pick with a few going to Chris Thompson and they combine to rush for 1,800 yards. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

Tandler on Twitter

Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 33
—Training camp starts (7/26) 98
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 143

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