Woods, Barkley eye records when USC hosts Colorado

Woods, Barkley eye records when USC hosts Colorado

LOS ANGELES (AP) Robert Woods and Matt Barkley are closing in on two remarkable records at Southern California.

Even with the way Colorado's defense has played lately, the No. 11 Trojans say they aren't planning their celebration just yet.

With its national title dreams still somewhat realistic, USC (5-1, 3-1 Pac-12) finally returns to the Coliseum on Saturday for just its second home game in seven weeks. The Trojans are a 40-point favorite against the Buffaloes (1-5, 1-2), who have yielded more than 45 points per game since their season opener.

``We're trying to treat it like they're another top team,'' Woods said.

Even with ample evidence to the contrary - and even with history in reach.

With 96 career touchdown passes heading into his 43rd career start, Barkley needs four TDs to pass Matt Leinart for the USC and conference career marks. A big chunk of those throws have gone to Woods, whose pending achievement is even more spectacular: He needs just five catches to surpass Dwayne Jarrett's 216, making him USC's career leader midway through his junior season.

``Growing up watching all the USC receivers - Jarrett, Steve Smith, Mike Williams, all those great guys - it's special to be a part of that,'' Woods said. ``It's a blessing that I could do it in just 2 1/2 (seasons). I hope I can do it on Saturday at home.''

With 36 catches for 360 yards and five touchdowns this year, Woods' performances haven't been as eye-popping they were in his All-American sophomore season, albeit for a variety of reasons. Opposing defenses have been daring the Trojans to run the ball since their season opener, blatantly sitting back in unbalanced pass defenses to limit Woods and Marqise Lee, who still has 54 catches of his own for 681 yards and seven scores.

``It is different than last year, but I have a different role,'' Woods said. ``Marqise emerged as a top receiver. We've got a great running game. I have to do different things to make us successful ... and I care about winning games most of all.''

Barkley and Woods are hoping coach Lane Kiffin will allow them to unleash the passing game that tormented defenses down the stretch last season. Kiffin has been content to grind out wins with USC's running game and a sturdy defense - and though Barkley's Heisman Trophy candidacy is on life support, his chances of playing in a January bowl for the first time are still healthy.

``I'm certainly having a good time,'' Barkley said. ``From now, our goal is to win out for the rest of the season.''

It all starts Saturday at the sold-out Coliseum, where football-starved USC fans begin a delicious stretch of four games in six weeks, including a showdown with Oregon in two weeks and culminating in Notre Dame's post-Thanksgiving visit. Yet the Trojans aren't looking past the Buffaloes, who are trying to relish the long odds they're facing in their first Coliseum visit since 2000.

``I want to play the best, and they have the best guys, some of the best guys in the nation,'' Colorado safety Parker Orms said. ``Matt Barkley, the receivers, even their running back, their whole team are NFL guys, and I just want to see how I can match up against them. I know our guys aren't afraid.''

Orms was disappointed when the Buffaloes didn't face Stanford's Andrew Luck in their first season in the Pac-12. Barkley's numbers haven't been prolific this season, but he burnished his reputation during USC's visit to Boulder last season, throwing a school-record six touchdown passes in a 42-17 victory that kept USC perfect in its six meetings with the Buffs.

Colorado coach Jon Embree realizes the hazards of taking on USC's passing game after what it did to the Buffaloes last season, and he's not professing any secret knowledge about how to shut down Barkley, Woods and Lee.

``Well, to keep them in check, don't let them play,'' Embree said. ``You're not going to keep them in check.''

USC's defense also hopes to build on its strong season, culminating in an impressive effort at Washington last weekend. The Trojans have given up just 111 points all season, while the Colorado defense gave up 51 last week alone.

With a full week at home after back-to-back road trips and a bye, the Trojans are hopeful they've moved back into their groove.

``Just because we're a 40-point favorite doesn't mean we have a week off,'' USC safety T.J. McDonald said. ``We're creating good habits and making sure we still pay attention.''

Embree realizes the California recruits attending Saturday's game might not be terribly enticed by the Buffaloes if they're getting pounded by USC. But even if a blowout ensues, the Colorado coach is looking for players who understand it won't always be this way.

``They need to understand that we are not instant oatmeal,'' Embree said. ``We are not just adding water and going. So if that's what they're looking for, then this is not the place for them. If they want to be a part of something special and help build something, those are the things we talk about.''

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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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.



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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, and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Days until:

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

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