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Alabama blocks its way past Irish for title, 42-14

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Alabama blocks its way past Irish for title, 42-14

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) When Alabama's first-team offense came off the field for the final time in the BCS championship game, center Barrett Jones skipped toward the bench like a 302-pound schoolboy, waving his arms toward the cheering Crimson Tide fans.

Jones' unit went out with a roar Monday, steamrolling Notre Dame from the start to help Alabama win 42-14.

The Tide's vaunted offensive line blew the Fighting Irish off the ball, and after three possessions Alabama had 203 yards and a 21-0 lead. The most anticipated matchup in the title game - Bama's running attack against Notre Dame's stout run defense - quickly became no contest, and so did the game.

``We couldn't be happier with the way we came out and started the game,'' said Jones, who played with torn ligaments in his left foot and will require surgery. ``We knew we wanted to run the ball and hit them early, and I think that's what we did.''

On its first three series, Alabama mounted touchdown drives of 82, 61 and 80 yards.

``Notre Dame had a really highly rated statistical defensive team,'' Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said. ``I thought a real challenge for us in the game was how we would control the line of scrimmage. That's probably the thing that was most surprising to me - how we were able to control the line of scrimmage, especially early in the game.''

Alabama dominated with an offensive line that includes three All-Americans - first-teamers Jones and left guard Chance Warmack, and second-teamer D.J. Fluker at right tackle. They created gaping holes against a team ranked fourth in the nation in run defense, and neutralized Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te'o, who became a nonfactor.

The blocking gave Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon plenty of room to run, and A.J. McCarron lots of time to throw.

``This may be the best offensive line that we've had or ever been associated with,'' Saban said after leading the Tide to its third national title in four years. ``The power, the toughness and how physical they are I think is probably a pretty unique quality.

``And I know we have some really good backs too,'' the coach added with a slight smile. ``Eddie makes them miss in the line and gains 20 yards, and the linemen are beating their chests about how they blocked. It's a combination of all 11 players.''

That included McCarron. Facing an ineffective pass rush, he hit eight of his first nine passes, including a 3-yard toss to Michael Williams for the second touchdown.

The early clock-eating drives took Notre Dame's offense out of the game. The Irish gained only 23 yards before Alabama had 21 points. Time of possession at that juncture was 12:12 for the Crimson Tide to 2:52 for the Fighting Irish.

The first scoring drive - which took only five plays - was the longest the Irish had allowed all season.

But while Notre Dame's defense wasn't accustomed to being pushed around in such a manner, Fluker said the Tide saw it coming. The team was encouraged studying when the Irish's 21-6 victory two months ago against Boston College, Fluker said.

``We saw Boston College push them around,'' he said. ``We knew that if they could do it, we could do it. They were kind of predictable on defense. We knew what they would do, so it was just a matter of executing.''

Jones missed considerable practice time leading up to the game because of his foot injury, and said his teammates up front took up the slack for him.

``I wasn't really 100 percent,'' Jones said. ``It was painful, but you couldn't have pulled me off the field with a tractor.''

Most of the time in the early going, the Tide ran to the left and away from Te'o, and Alabama's linemen repeatedly locked him up. When Lacy ran up the middle for a 20-yard gain on third-and-1 to the Notre Dame 3, Te'o was blocked out of play by Warmack and ended up chasing the play from behind.

Jones helped knock Te'o aside when Yeldon ran over right guard for a 1-yard score to make it 21-0. That was the second rushing touchdown allowed by the Irish, matching what they gave up during the entire regular season.

Notre Dame had allowed only two players to rush for 100 yards, but Lacy finished with 140 and Yeldon added 108.

``Everybody knows about Alabama's offensive line,'' Te'o said. ``They're very big, and they're very athletic and very strong. They just did what Alabama does.''

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What It Means: Wizards reportedly expected to make extension offer to Bradley Beal

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USA Today

What It Means: Wizards reportedly expected to make extension offer to Bradley Beal

Despite the litany of teams who would love to get their hands on Bradley Beal this offseason, Washington has so far remained committed to keeping Bradley Beal a Wizard.

And when he's eligible in July, they plan to offer him a three-year, $111 million extension, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.  

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Keeping Beal long-term may wind being a smart move, as NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig wrote this week. The extension would lock Beal up for the next five years and secure him and John Wall -- once he's fully recovered from offseason Achilles surgery -- as the Wizards' backcourt for the foreseeable future. 

The offer may seem financially burdensome, considering the Wizards just signed John Wall to a massive supermax extension that starts this season. But although the Wizards are currently strapped for cash, there's hope on the horizon. Ian Mahinmi's $15.6 million deal and Dwight Howard's $5.4 million deal expire after the 2019-2020 season.

The Wizards could decline Jabari Parkers $20 million team option and let Bobby Portis walk in restricted free agency this offseason. If both those happen, the Wizards could open up cap space for Beal's extension.

Considering John Wall is out for likely the entire next season and the Wizards still don't have a GM, their best move might be to lock in what proven production they have.

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Rain knocks out another Phillies-Nationals game

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Rain knocks out another Phillies-Nationals game

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals and Phillies are 2-for-2.

Tuesday night's game was postponed following a two-hour rain delay. Monday's game was postponed after a three-hour rain delay.

Tuesday's game will be made up as part of a split day-night doubleheader Sept. 24 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., bumping a four-game series to a five-game series. The Nationals and Phillies are scheduled to also play a split day-night doubleheader Wednesday.

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Scherzer's injury and the multiple postponements throw the Nationals' pitching plans into disarray. They're not sure if Scherzer will pitch as expected Wednesday. It appears Austin Voth, who was scratched from his Thursday start for Triple-A Fresno, will be available to pitch in one of the Wednesday games -- should they be played. More rain is expected Wednesday.

The Nationals will bump Patrick Corbin, who was slated to pitch again Tuesday, into a Wednesday spot. Wednesday's other starter is TBA. It could be Scherzer if he is ready. It could be Erick Fedde, and Voth could be used in the bullpen as the 26th man. That would provide Scherzer a chance to pitch Thursday and Strasburg on Friday against Atlanta. 

Or, Scherzer could be provided more time off. There's a lot to sort out once again thanks to the rain.

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