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Alabama-Tennessee game a tough Sunseri gathering

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Alabama-Tennessee game a tough Sunseri gathering

Vinnie and Sal Sunseri are on opposite sides of a prominent Southern rivalry, and not overjoyed about it.

Vinnie is a safety for No. 1 Alabama and father Sal is Tennessee's defensive coordinator, making Saturday night's game a highly stressful family get-together in Knoxville, Tenn.

Father and son have almost identical takes on the situation.

It's a ``very, very tough'' week, Vinnie said.

It's ``very, very, very tough,'' agreed his father.

``A lot of mixed emotions,'' said Vinnie, a pained expression on his face. ``Hard. Hard, hard, hard. I'm getting a lot of calls from the family saying good luck to me, but I know they're just giving the same, exact advice to my dad. It's tough. It's really tough. But I'm excited to see my dad.''

If it's hard for them, double that for mother-and-wife Roxann. The trio watched Vinnie's brother Tino, Pittsburgh's quarterback, play during a shared open date for Alabama and Tennessee.

``I had never witnessed it before, but she becomes a wreck,'' the Crimson Tide safety said. ``She's emotional, she - oh, my gosh - she just wishes the best for us at all times. She's so passionate and loves us all so much. Especially when one of us gets hurt, it just kills her inside. She is a fan favorite of all of us and is, honestly, our biggest fan. It's definitely going to be really tough on her. I don't even think she's coming to the game.''

It's a different twist on the traditional Third Saturday in October rivalry.

The Volunteers (3-3, 0-3 Southeastern Conference) hired Sal Sunseri in January after he spent three seasons coaching linebackers for Nick Saban at Alabama, giving him a chance to run a major college defense for the first time. His son stayed in Tuscaloosa, where he was a top recruit last year.

``He's done a great job in preparation, what he's done all the way up this year,'' Sal Sunseri said. ``But emotionally for the family it's been really, really, really tough. I didn't imagine it would be this hard, but it is very, very, very tough. But we're both going to be professionals about it. We're going to do what we have to do and go out and try to play our best football.''

The saving grace for the Sunseris is they're not going head to head, so one's success isn't the other's failure.

Vinnie jokes that his sister Ashlyn, a freshman on Tennessee's volleyball team, came up with the only possible solution that won't create more angst in the family.

``She says it's going to be a defensive game in her mind,'' Vinnie said. ``She said, `Hope it's a 0-0 game' and I pick one off and take it to the house. Naw, she didn't say that.''

Sal Sunseri's defense has struggled even as the Tide leads the nation in all the major defensive categories. Tennessee ranks 87th in total defense and 90th in points allowed.

Vinnie, a converted linebacker, has started four games for Alabama and is fourth on the team with 22 tackles after becoming a key special teams player as a freshman. He picked up his second interception last weekend at Missouri.

``Vinnie's a very instinctive player,'' Saban said. ``He's a really bright guy and I think football's really important to him. He works hard at it all the time. He loves to play.''

He doesn't necessarily love playing against his father's team, though. Vinnie said there would be ``a lot of orange and red this weekend being worn in the household'' and a number of family members will be attending the game, perhaps excluding his mother.

Sal Sunseri said the conversations this week are typical father-son stuff, not game-related.

``The family's extremely close,'' he said. ``When we talk, it's more about his technique, how he's playing, asking how I'm doing. It has nothing to do with the game itself. It has to do with making sure he's feeling good, making sure he's healthy; making sure I'm feeling good, making sure I'm healthy. That's basically what the conversations have been.

But Saturday night won't be all business.

``It's going to be hard Saturday night when that kid walks on the field and hugs me.''

---

AP Sports Writer Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tenn., contributed to this report.

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Capitals vs. Canucks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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Capitals vs. Canucks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Washington Capitals (3-2-2) head to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada after an overtime/shootout loss against the Florida Panthers last Friday. 

The Caps are determined to avoid the devastation they felt in the first period when they gave away four goals to the Panthers. They will need to focus in the power plays and avoid penalties at all costs.

Many fans were looking forward to the reunion with former player Jay Beagle, who is now centerman for the Canucks, but he is unfortunately out on injury. However you can look out for Caps Nic Dowd, who will have his own homecoming game against his former team. 

Here is everything you need to know about Capitals vs. Canucks which takes place at 10:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.
 

CAPITALS vs. CANUCKS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Vancouver Canucks, Game 8 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season

Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

When: Monday, October 22 at 10:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals vs. Canucks game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Washington Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals vs. Canucks on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS vs. CANUCKS SCHEDULE

9:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
9:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
10:00 PM: Capitals vs. Canucks
12:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

CAPITALS vs. CANUCKS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Lars Eller, F, Capitals: In his last game, he had a three-point night with three assists. He is a messaive help and shined within the trio of Vrana and Connoly on Friday.

Tim Schaller, F, Canucks: He was struggling in the preseason but came back with a vengeance. He assisted with a penatly kill and is a key component in fourth line. 

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

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Wizards vs. Trail Blazers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Wizards vs. Trail Blazers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Wizards head to the West Coast to open a road swing against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night.

Wizards (0-2) are looking for their first win when the head into Portland to face Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers (2-0).

After this game, the Wizards have a tough stretch ahead of them before playing in D.C. again, playing at: Golden State, Sacramento, LA (Lakers) and Memphis.

WIZARDS vs. TRAIL BLAZERS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. Miami Heat, 2018 NBA regular season Game 3
Where: Moda Center, Portland, Ore.
When: 10:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: The Wizards vs. Trail Blazers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)
Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Trail Blazers on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the new MyTeams App.
Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. TRAIL BLAZERS TV SCHEDULE

8:30 PM: D.C. Sports Live (LIVE)

9:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)

9:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)

10:00 PM: Wizards @ Portland Trail Blazers (LIVE)

WIZARDS vs. BLAZERS INJURY REPORT:

Wizards: Dwight Howard remains day-to-day with a back injury.
Trail Blazers: None

WIZARDS vs. BLAZERS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bradley Beal, Wizards: After becoming the Wizards franchise leader in 3 points on Saturday, it is likely Beal will have a lot to prove to help the team get its first win.

Otto Porter, Jr., Wizards: Porter has had a slow start, so will he take more shots in Portland?

Damian Lillard, Portland: The Blazers' star is leading the way this season averaging 28.5 ppg and 6.5 assists per game. 

WIZARDS vs. BLAZERS SERIES HISTORY 

Number of all-time Meetings: 111 games
Regular Season Record: Blazers lead 57-54
Last Meeting: Wizards won 106-92 in December 2017