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No. 2 Alabama places 4 on AP All-America team

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No. 2 Alabama places 4 on AP All-America team

NEW YORK (AP) Alabama is No. 1 when it comes to All-Americans.

The second-ranked Crimson Tide placed four players on The Associated Press All-America team released Tuesday. Among them was center Barrett Jones, who became a two-time first-team selection.

No other team had more than two players selected to the first team. The Tide also led with six players chosen to all three teams.

Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Stanford and Florida were second with four players on the three teams, though linebacker Manti Te'o was the only Fighting Irish player to make the first team.

Alabama faces top-ranked Notre Dame in the BCS championship game Jan. 7.

Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel was the first-team quarterback.

Wisconsin running back Montee Ball and Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones also became two-time All-Americans.

Nine Southeastern Conference players made the first team, more than any other conference. The Pac-12 was second with six players on the first team. No other conference had more than two.

The team was voted on by a panel of 16 AP college football poll voters.

Barrett Jones, a senior who made the All-America team as a tackle last season, was joined on the first team by Alabama teammates guard Chance Warmack, linebacker C.J. Mosley and cornerback Dee Milliner. Offensive tackle D.J. Fluker was picked to the second team and quarterback AJ McCarron was selected to the third team.

Te'o, the Heisman finalists and winner of seven other awards - including the Maxwell, Nagurski and Butkus - is the first Notre Dame defensive player to be an AP All-American since defensive back Shane Walton in 2002.

Manziel is the first freshman to make the first team at quarterback. On Saturday, the redshirt freshman know as Johnny Football became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.

Manziel set an SEC record with 4,600 total yards to rank second in the nation.

Heisman finalist Collin Klein of Kansas State was the second-team quarterback.

Ball repeated as an All-American, despite a slow start to the season and some early injuries. The senior is seventh in the nation in rushing at 133 yards per game, scored 21 touchdowns, and set the major college football record for career touchdowns. He has 82 going into the Rose Bowl.

Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey, the nation's leading rusher at 146 yards per game, was the other first-team running back.

The receivers were Southern California's Marqise Lee, who leads the nation in catches (112) and was second in yards receiving (1,680), and Baylor's Terrance Williams, who leads in yards with 1,764.

Stanford's Zach Ertz was the tight end.

Joining Jones and Warmack on the offensive line were two junior tackles projected to be high first-round NFL draft picks: Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel and Michigan's Taylor Lewan.

``Team goals are bigger than individual goals, but one of my personal goals was to be an All-American and it's an unbelievable feeling to reach that goal,'' Lewan said Tuesday.

North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper was the other first-team guard.

West Virginia's Tavon Austin was selected as the all-purpose player, a perfect description of the do-it-all speedster.

Austin was primarily a receiver and racked up 1,259 yards through the air. Late in the season, coach Dana Holgorsen used Austin as a running back and against Oklahoma he the senior set a school-record with 344 yards rushing. He finished second in the nation in all-purpose yards with 230 per game, and returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns.

Tulane's Cairo Santos was the All-American kicker after making all 21 of his field goal attempts.

On the defensive side, Te'o and Mosley were joined at linebacker by the other two-time All-American. Jones followed-up his sensational sophomore season with 12.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss.

Another SEC pass rusher highlighted the defensive line.

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney had 13.5 sacks, tied for the most in the nation, playing in only 11 games. He'll matchup against Lewan in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1.

``He's very explosive player who plays every play to the whistle and never takes a snap off,'' Lewan said. ``It's a great opportunity to see where I'm at and where he's at and I'm excited about it. But it's not about me or him, it's about the University of Michigan playing South Carolina at the Outback Bowl.''

Florida State Bjoern Werner was the other end. He also had 13 sacks.

At defensive tackle was a pair of Pac-12 players: Utah's Star Lotulelei and Arizona State's Will Sutton, who was the conference defensive player of the year.

In the secondary, Jordan Poyer of Oregon State, who had seven interceptions, was the cornerback opposite Milliner.

Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas was voted to the first team after leading the nation with eight interceptions, including three returned for touchdown. Florida's Matt Elam was the other safety.

The punter was Ryan Allen, who won his second straight Ray Guy Award last week.

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Greg Auman, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times; Robert Cessna, Bryan-College Station (Texas) Eagle; Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times; Doug Doughty, The Roanoke (Va.) Times; Seth Emerson, The Macon (Ga.) Telegraph and Columbus Ledger Enquirer; Erik Gee, KNML-AM, New Mexico; Garland Gillen, WWL-TV Channel 4, New Orleans; Anthony Gimino, TucsonCitizen.com; Eric Hansen, The South Bend (Ind.) Tribune; Rob Long, CBS Radio 105.7, Baltimore; Austin Meek, The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal; Keith Pompey, The Philadelphia Inquirer; Kyle Ringo, Daily Camera, Boulder Colo.; Keith Sargeant, Home News Tribune, New Jersey; Mitch Vingle, The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette; Adam Zucker, CBS Sports Network.

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AP Sports Writer Larry Lage in Ann Arbor, Mich, contributed to this report.

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

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How Nicklas Backstrom saved the Capitals 3 different times in Game 5

How Nicklas Backstrom saved the Capitals 3 different times in Game 5

The Capitals found themselves in deep trouble on Saturday.

Game 5 at Capital One Arena provided Washington a golden opportunity to take a 3-2 lead in their 2018 Stanley Cup Playoff first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. A loss -- another home loss -- would have been a devastating blow.

After battling back from a 2-0 series deficit, to lose in Washington would mean facing elimination in Columbus. Game 5 was the game the Caps needed and it would have slipped away from them if not for Nicklas Backstrom.

The Caps’ most underrated superstar -- the one who is constantly overshadowed by the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby -- took center stage on Saturday as he tipped a Dmitry Orlov shot past Sergei Bobrovsky at 11:53 of overtime to seal the victory for Washington.

“It was just a good shot from [Orlov],” Backstrom said after the game. “I thought before he had a chance to block it, and I got a tip on it, and it’s usually what happens in the playoffs. Tip goals or rebound goals. That’s the way it is. It was nice.”

Backstrom’s overtime goal capped off a three-point night for the veteran center, who also scored in the first period and assisted on a goal from T.J. Oshie.

The team ended up needing every one of his points.

From the start, Columbus outplayed Washington. With the series tied 2-2, a best-of-three mentality took over and the Blue Jackets pushed hard for the pivotal Game 5 win.

It is in those very moments that team needs its superstar players to step up. In Game 3, it was Holtby who stole the show to help Washington steal a win in Columbus.

On Saturday, it was Backstrom.

Columbus converted a shorthanded goal to seize a 1-0 lead in what was shaping up to be a dominant first period. A fluke goal from Backstrom, however, made sure the score was knotted up, 1-1, after the opening frame.

With the puck behind the goal line, Backstrom tried to slip a pass through the crease. Bobrovsky got a piece of the puck with his stick, but the amount of spin on the pass forced the puck to carom off the stick, off the back of Bobrovsky himself, and into the net.

“I was trying to make a pass,” Backstrom said. “Honestly, got lucky. I don’t know who came back-door there but I was trying for him. I’ll take it.”

After a back and forth game, the Blue Jackets came out swinging to start the third. Down 3-2, Columbus tied the game just 2:30 in and made a real push to win the game in regulation. Washington was outshot 16-1 in the third and looked like they had no push at all.

But the Caps looked like a different team when they took the ice for the extra frame. What happened in between periods?

“As I was leaving the room after the period, I could hear guys, the right guys, all saying the right things,” head coach Barry Trotz said.

When later asked if one of those guys was Backstrom, Trotz said, “Absolutely. He's one of the leaders on our team. They were all talking about let's make sure we're doing the right things. There's a lot of pride, lot of good leadership in that room.”

Whatever Backstrom and the other leaders said did the trick. Washington made a strong push in overtime leading to Backstrom’s game-winning goal.

This isn’t the first time Backstrom has delivered. Saturday’s overtime tally is the fourth of his career. That’s the most in franchise history and tied for fifth in NHL history.

Through his efforts on the ice, the Caps were able to erase a bad first period and steal the win in overtime. But it also took a big effort off the ice to get the job done.

“If you just look at the scoresheet, that doesn't say enough of about Nick Backstrom, his contribution from in the dressing room to on the ice to key moments to key faceoffs,” Trotz said.

“I've been on his soapbox about how complete a player he is and I never really worry about Nick Backstrom. He's got enough games under his belt, he's got enough stats to back it up and he's played huge minutes and he's one of our leaders. He's a tremendous hockey player.”

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John Tortorella guarantees series will return to Washington for Game 7

John Tortorella guarantees series will return to Washington for Game 7

After losing Game 1 and Game 2 at home, Alex Ovechkin declared "It’s going to be fun when we bounce back and going to tie the series and come back here and play Game 5 at home.”

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella seems to be taking a similar tactic.

The Capitals won Game 5 in overtime on Saturday in a game that could prove to be emotionally draining for the Blue Jackets in a number of ways.

  • It was Washington's third straight win
  • Columbus was the better team for the majority of the game, but still took the loss
  • The Blue Jackets now face elimination despite holding a 2-0 series lead to start and losing only once in regulation

Tortorella has become famous for his fiery postgame press conferences in the past, including abruptly walking out after Game 4's presser when he declared "We sucked" to the media.

Saturday's was another fun one.

In a presser that lasted less than two minutes, Tortorella twice said, "We'll be back here for Game 7."

After such a draining game, Tortorella was asked how he would get them ready for what is sure to be an emotionally charged Game 6.

"I won't have to say a damn word to them," Tortorella said. "No. We'll be back here for Game 7."

The Blue Jackets will have to win Game 6 in Columbus to make that happen.

Barry Trotz was asked for his reaction after Tortorella's comments.

"What else are you going to say? That's good. He wants to get it out there, he believes in his team just as I believe in my team. It's our job for that not to happen."

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