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Alabama's winning formula: Run, and run well

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Alabama's winning formula: Run, and run well

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) When Alabama runs, Alabama wins.

That axiom held true once again Monday night in the BCS title game - for the 50th straight time.

The Crimson Tide have rushed for at least 150 yards in a game on 50 different occasions since the start of the 2008 season. And they've won every one of those contests, after rushing for 265 yards on the way to a 42-14 win over Notre Dame.

The last time Alabama ran for more than 150 yards and lost was Nov. 17, 2007, when the Crimson Tide were beaten by Louisiana-Monroe 21-14.

Alabama finished 7-6 that season. In the five seasons that have followed, the Tide now have 61 wins, tying Boise State for the most in major college football over that span.

And, most notably, Alabama now has three of the last four BCS national titles. Naturally, the Tide ran for at least 150 yards in all three of those title tilts.

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TRENDING: Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron's model girlfriend, Katherine Webb, became a hot topic on Twitter as her guy was helping the Tide blowout Notre Dame.

Webb gained more than 90,000 twitter followers throughout the game, including Arizona Cardinals defensive linemen Darnell Docket, who tweeted his phone number to her.

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BIGGEST CROWD: The BCS title game was the most highly attended event in the history of Sun Life Stadium.

The announced attendance for Alabama-Notre Dame was 80,120 - a bit higher than the previous mark of 78,468, set four years ago when Florida and Oklahoma played there for the national championship.

Those 80,120 tickets will result in $80,120 being donated toward a fund for the victims of last month's school massacre in Newtown, Conn. The Orange Bowl Committee announced the donation on Monday night.

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COACHES OF YEAR: Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was one of four coaches announced Monday as winners of the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award.

Joining Kelly - the Football Bowl Subdivision winner - as honorees was Willie Fritz of Sam Houston State (Football Championship Subdivision); Peter Rossomando of New Haven (Division II) and Glenn Caruso of St. Thomas, Minn. (Division III).

The award is designed to recognize ``sportsmanship, integrity, responsibility and excellence on and off the field.'' Each coach will receive a $50,000 donation to be sent to the charity of his choice, and a $20,000 scholarship grant in his name to their school's alumni association.

``These four coaches do so much more than just succeed in the win column,'' said Archie Manning, chair of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame. ``They challenge their student-athletes to achieve a level of excellence on the field and in the classroom, and serve as a champion to their community through their charitable endeavors.''

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MEDIA BLITZ: About 875 media credentials were issued for the BCS title game, and that doesn't even include those requested by ESPN for its television purposes.

In all, about 1,225 applications were received, according to the Orange Bowl Committee.

Both numbers are slightly ahead of the pace for last season's Alabama-LSU game.

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NO STAGE FRIGHT: Barrett Jones remembers his first BCS title game, and how he was petrified of what would happen on college football's biggest stage.

Hey, it's old hat now for the Alabama center.

No. 2 Alabama's matchup against No. 1 Notre Dame was Jones' third time in the title game in four years.

``I tell you what, the first national championship game I played in in 2009, I was freaking out in my hotel room,'' Jones said. ``You let the moment get to you and you think, `50 million people are going to be watching this game on TV?' It's a surreal feeling.''

Now, no big deal.

``You just have to remember, despite all the lights and all the cameras and all you guys, it's still football,'' Jones said.

Nervous or not, Jones always enjoyed the same result. Alabama won all three of his title-game appearances, including the 42-14 romp over Notre Dame.

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HOMECOMING: When he was 14, Arturo Martinez was essentially told he was dying. Leukemia, stage IV. As bad as it gets.

He made beating cancer look easy. And he had a chance to be part of a national championship team.

Martinez is a walk-on defensive lineman at Notre Dame, the nation's No. 1 team that was facing second-ranked Alabama in the BCS title game. He played high school football at Belen Jesuit - one of the Miami area's top programs - and fell for Notre Dame after seeing a game there.

``I keep telling my parents that I'm high on life right now,'' Martinez said.

His title dream fell short, with Notre Dame falling to Alabama 42-14.

When the season began, Notre Dame was unranked, hardly believed to be a national-title contender. But Martinez remembers teasing his parents that maybe there would be a chance of everything coming together for the Irish.

Sure enough, they made it to South Florida. All players get six tickets for the BCS game. Martinez, obviously, had no problem finding takers for those.

``I could have used a lot more,'' Martinez said.

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TRENCH BATTLES: Notre Dame nose guard Louis Nix III loves putting certain elements of his life on display for the world to see, primarily through his series of ``broadcasts'' that have become quite popular on YouTube.

So Nix was asked in recent days if there should a camera that focuses solely on offensive and defensive linemen in games, just so people can see what really happens in the trenches.

Nix was quick to shake his head.

``If they did, I think somebody would get about 17 years if they see what we do in the trenches,'' Nix said. ``The things we do in there is like illegal in like 37 states. I don't think they want to catch that on film.''

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QUICK POSTGAME: Notre Dame's men's basketball team played at Cincinnati on Monday night.

Irish coach Mike Brey was hoping for a very fast getaway from the arena afterward - for obvious reasons.

With the football team playing Alabama for the national title, Brey and the Irish basketballers had some TV-watching planned. The game time in Cincinnati was moved up a bit to avoid conflicting with the BCS, and Brey said the team would get back to its hotel as soon as it could before returning home on Tuesday.

``What a great night for Notre Dame fans,'' Brey said.

Well, not exactly. Brey's team topped Cincinnati for its 12th straight win - but the football team's 12-game win streak was snapped with a 42-14 loss to Alabama.

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Derrius Guice reportedly hurt his knee again before Washington released him

Derrius Guice reportedly hurt his knee again before Washington released him

A news storm ensued after Derrius Guice was arrested on domestic violence charges and subsequently released by the Washington Football Team. Seemingly lost in the shuffle was some news about yet another knee injury for the third-year running back. 

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Guice hurt his knee again the day before he was released.

This would have been huge news for the former second-round pick, who's grappled with knee injuries throughout the first two seasons of his career. He suffered a torn ACL as a rookie, a meniscus tear at the beginning of last season and an MCL sprain later on in 2019 as well.

There was hope for Guice to become a featured back, and he certainly had the ability to become one had he been able to stay healthy. 

RELATED: RIVERA EXPLAINS DECISION TO CUT GUICE

It's unclear how much another knee injury had to do with Guice's release, though it certainly couldn't have made things easier on Guice's hopes to stay on the roster. He later went unclaimed on waivers, making him a free agent for the first time in his young career.

Washington doesn't have much time to worry about Guice now. They have to figure out how to distribute the carries between Adrian Peterson, J.D. McKissic, Peyton Barber, Antonio Gibson and Bryce Love without a preseason schedule to test things out.

With their first taste of game action this season set as a September 13 clash with the Eagles, Peterson figures to start off as the lead back behind Dwayne Haskins based on experience alone. Peterson has over 3,000 career carries under his belt while the other four options have combined for 639.

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Nationals are off to season’s most dangerous spot: the road

Nationals are off to season’s most dangerous spot: the road

WASHINGTON  -- The Nationals ventured to their chartered train Sunday for a first: They were leaving Nationals Park to play a regular-season game elsewhere in 2020. This is a new challenge in a year filled with randomization.

The road is a bedeviling place in professional sports no matter the climate. Favorite places of all kinds -- restaurants, hotels, entertainment venues -- pull athletes from their hotel into the city streets. It’s standard. Among the running jokes in the NBA is players coming down with the South Beach Flu. Go to Miami the night before a game, play poorly the next, perhaps you caught it while out until 3 a.m.

For Major League Baseball in 2020, traveling has become the greatest barrier to the season’s completion. Organizations are petrified of an outbreak prompted by one person venturing into the night while on the road. Or even in the morning when visiting a cafe for breakfast.

The Nationals will first tangle with road protocols -- set both internally and by MLB -- this week in New York. A four-game series with the Mets will test their ability to sit still. Staying in the hotel is job one. A special guard was even considered in order to make it happen.

“I’m going to put [Mike] Rizzo in the lobby,” Davey Martinez said with a laugh.

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That, presumably, would be an effective deterrent to anyone who stepped out of the elevator, then into the lobby, coming face-to-face with the team president’s bald head. But, the job will be handled by MLB security, which is now in the hotels of road teams to watch the coming and going of players and staff following the coronavirus outbreak within the Miami Marlins organization. The rest is up to the Nationals.

“When you go on the road, you get in a routine: your favorite places to eat breakfast, your favorite places to go get coffee,” Martinez said. “There’s going to be none of that. And, that’s going to be tough. We got to adhere to the protocols. In order to keep everybody safe, we’ve got to stay in the hotel. So there’s going to be different things that we need to do. There’s not going to be any gallivanting around the city anymore. A lot of these cities, honestly, are pretty much closed down and there’s not a whole lot going on.

“We’ve got to be smart. If we’re going to pull this off and keep everybody safe, the best thing is to stay in the hotel and chill. There’s going to be plenty of food -- from what I gather -- at the ballpark. We’ve got restaurants that are going to cook for us. We’ll have lunch, we’re going to have dinner after the game. I think now we just got to feed ourselves for breakfast. I’m hearing that the hotels are going to be open for breakfast for room service, but we’ve got to do whatever we can to stay safe.”

One issue will be the pull to see family in different places. Juan Soto has family in New York. Several players have family in the Miami area. When Martinez returns to Tampa in mid-September, his adult children already know they won’t be meeting in order to protect his safety and that of the team.

“They understand,” Martinez said. “Hopefully, when this is all over, I’ll spend a lot of time with them.”

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He and Rizzo have trumpeted the same point from the start: what happens away from the field impacts everyone who goes to it. So, stay home, do your part, do not be the single lit match.

Testing negative, keeping the house in order, and playing on has both become a point of pride and competition. The Nationals enter the week with only one positive test result since play began -- that belonged to Soto, and he thought it was a false positive -- and the league’s worst offense. Without their best hitter, Washington has gone through a season-long scoring drought. Only the St. Louis Cardinals have scored fewer runs. They have also played seven fewer games because of a coronavirus outbreak in their organization.

“It's a new baseball season that we've never had before,” Rizzo said. “There's protocols in place that kind of break the routine that we've had our whole careers and our whole lives. So the team that adapts to that best and easiest and most seamlessly will have an advantage of being more comfortable playing baseball. Once the game starts, you're just playing baseball. I think that everybody kind of gets into their comfort zone, at least for the three hours during the game.”

The playing baseball portion has been more difficult than following protocols. The Nationals are a bewildering 4-7 through the jagged first two weeks of the season. They arrive in New York with Max Scherzer ready to return Tuesday. They may also recall a four-game series in Citi Field from last year. When the Nationals walked into the park, they were in a bad place. When they walked out, everything was worse.

They want to worry about the pitching matchups more than hotel entrances and exits. The league has tightened protocols since the Marlins debacle. The Nationals are even working on how to spread out their pregame meetings in conference rooms. And, maybe Martinez was on to something. In a season where cardboard cutouts have been put to use, a life-sized Rizzo with his hands on hips in the hotel lobby may just come in handy.

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