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Alabama ready for big-play Irish defense

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Alabama ready for big-play Irish defense

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) When Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier sizes up the Crimson Tide's challenge in the BCS championship, it comes down to cracking a Notre Dame team that leads the nation in scoring defense.

``They've given up 10.3 points a game, they do a great job of keeping you out of the end zone,'' Nussmeier said Thursday. ``The goal of the game is to score points.''

Sounds simple, right? But the Tide and Fighting Irish are alike in that they seldom make reaching the end zone easy for opposing offenses.

Second-ranked Alabama faces No. 1 Notre Dame on Monday in the national title game. As the buildup continued Thursday, the leaders of Alabama's offense talked to reporters about the huge task of facing Notre Dame and All-America linebacker Manti Te'o.

``They do a really good job of making big plays on the defensive side,'' quarterback AJ McCarron said. ``They do a really good job in the red area. I mean, they're first in the nation in almost every category on defense, so they're really good.''

Alabama's defenders might take umbrage at part of that. The Tide actually is tops nationally in total and run defense.

There's no disputing the ``really good'' part, though.

Nussmeier's offense has been solid, too, in his first season. `Bama has already set a school record for points in a season with 500, 23 points better than the 1973 team.

Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon are both 1,000-yard rushers and freshman Amari Cooper has been a front-line receiver who has nine touchdown catches.

Now comes a meeting with a defense that is allowing opponents to score touchdowns on a scant 24 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line, or the red zone, and has yielded just two rushing touchdowns this season.

``They've created a lot of lost-yardage plays in the red zone, and when you get behind the sticks and you get out of rhythm down there it's very difficult because obviously the field shrinks,'' Nussmeier said.

Lacy knows how formidable Notre Dame's run defense has been. Then again, Bama has run for 35 touchdowns.

``It's a challenge,'' Lacy said. ``We embrace it, and we're going to try to score more than two touchdowns.''

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With Devante Smith-Pelly back in the Caps lineup, we look back at his four goals in NBC Sports Washington's Top 20 goals from the Caps' Cup run

With Devante Smith-Pelly back in the Caps lineup, we look back at his four goals in NBC Sports Washington's Top 20 goals from the Caps' Cup run

With Devante Smith-Pelly back with the Capitals following an injury to T.J. Oshie in Game 4, Washington is hoping that DSP will be able to perform similarly to how he did during last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs. With seven goals last postseason, including one in the Stanley Cup-clinching game, Smith-Pelly was a vital part of the Capitals' success.

Before he takes the ice in Game 5 on Saturday night, let's revisit some of those goals that made NBC Sports Washington's Top 20 goals from the 2018 Stanley Cup run.

17. Devante Smith-Pelly's Game 4 goal vs. Vegas

Devante Smith-Pelly scored in the first period against the Golden Knights to put the Caps up 3-0 early and secure an eventual 6-3 win for a 3-1 series lead.

14. Smith-Pelly strikes in Game 6 against Columbus

Devante Smith-Pelly's series-clinching tally in Game 6 helped Washington advance to the second round of the 2018 postseason.

13. Smith-Pelly grows the lead in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final vs. Vegas

Devante Smith-Pelly proved to be pretty clutch. He capitalized on a Golden Knights turnover to toss the puck top shelf over Fleury in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

4. Devante Smith-Pelly's game-tying goal in Game 5 against Vegas

About halfway through the third with the Caps down 3-2 in Game 5 of the Cup Final, Devante Smith-Pelly put the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury while falling to tie things up against Vegas.

Enjoyed that little trip to the past? Check out the full Top 20 here.

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NFL Draft prospect Tre Watson hopes to time draft night around 'Avengers' release

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NFL Draft prospect Tre Watson hopes to time draft night around 'Avengers' release

Thursday night will be a very important moment in the life of former Maryland linebacker Tre Watson.

At midnight, the highly-anticipated Marvel movie Avengers: Endgame will hit the big screen for general audiences to see, bringing the conclusion to a decade worth of popular films. Watson, like millions of others, has been counting down the days until he could see the Avengers and Thanos go at it one more time.

Oh, and Thursday also marks the beginning of the 2019 NFL Draft, where Watson will most likely hear his name called at some point over the three-day span.

While Watson will be tuning into the draft that night, he understands that his moment of recognition may come a little later on in the week. Therefore, Thursday is all about 'Avengers'.

"Fortunately, you know, I'm kind of realistic. I know I'm not going to be a first-round pick," Watson said in an interview on NFL Network. "So I'll just be watching that just kind of for the formality of it, I'm definitely excited for 'Avengers' and then I kind of will springboard into Day 2 and Day 3 where I'm hoping to hear my name called. It's really a perfect set up for me, honestly."

This isn't the first time that Watson has let it be known to the world that he is a dedicated Marvel fan. His Twitter feed is filled with thoughts on the movie, including a tweet from a few months back that took the internet by storm.

The first round of the draft still does have some intrigue for Watson, as his former teammate Darnell Savage Jr. has gained a lot of steam during the draft process and has a chance to be chosen on Thursday night. However, Watson will hope that Savage's name is called earlier in the night rather than later, as he will need time to get to the theatre to prepare to watch  Captain America and company save the day one last time. 

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