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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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How the Caps upset the Lightning to win the conference championship

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USA TODAY Sports

How the Caps upset the Lightning to win the conference championship

It wasn't supposed to happen.

The Capitals celebrated too hard after beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round. The Tampa Bay Lightning had been here before. Tampa Bay's roster was deeper. Their goalie was hotter. They had home ice advantage. They had easily won their first two series. Nicklas Backstrom was still injured. Washington wouldn't be able to stop the Lightning's power play.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

For all of those reasons, many did not even give the Caps a chance. Washington overcame every obstacle in their way and was, for the most part, the better team through seven games defeating Tampa Bay to win the Eastern Conference for just the second time in franchise history.

The Capitals showed in their second-round win over the Penguins that these weren't the "same old Caps." They continued to prove that in the conference final when they stunned the Lightning to win Game 1 and Game 2 both on the road.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

When Washington lost the next three, many thought that meant the real Lightning had awoken, but it was the Caps who rose to the occasion in Game 6 and Game 7 where they face elimination as they completely dominated Tampa Bay by a combined score of 7-0.

The Caps now advance to take on the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final. The Knights have lost only three games this entire postseason and will hope to carry that momentum with them into Game 1.

If there is one thing this Washington team has proven, however, it's that you should never count them out.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

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Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

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Associated Press

Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 24, 64 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

What Jay Gruden and Alex Smith had to say from the podium

After yesterday’s OTA practice, Alex Smith and Jay Gruden took the podium. Here are some of their quotes and my comments on them:

Smith was asked about getting together with his new teammates:

So I think every guy these last two days has enjoyed just getting back out there and losing yourself in the game, right? To be limited, it does make you miss it, and I think it makes you appreciate it, so that’s been nice. 

Comment: This is a guy who loves football and everything that goes with it. Smith would start playing games tomorrow if they were scheduled.

Gruden was asked how Smith has looked in these first two days of OTAs:

He’s got good command of the offense already. Great command in the huddle. He’s just getting a feel for the receivers, the players around him, how we call things, but overall, the first two days, I would say I’m very pleased with his quick progression and learning. I knew that wouldn’t be an issue with as much as he’s played in a similar-style system.

Comment: It did seem that Smith was in sync with his receivers, Jamison Crowder in particular. He and Paul Richardson connected on a deep pass after giving each other a look at the line of scrimmage. The encouraging thing is that he is coming from a similar offensive system, so the learning curve should not be too long. 

Smith had a great analogy when asked about similarities to the offenses he has run:

Both from West Coast worlds, so it’s kind of like they are all Latin-based languages, you know, but they are not the same. There are some similarities, structure of the playbook, of how we call things, things like that. There are a lot of similarities but it’s not the same language. I guess that’s the best analogy I can make

Comment: If terminology is the biggest obstacle for Smith to overcome it will be a smooth transition for him. 

Gruden was impressed with the running backs. 

“I’ll tell you what, just today in general, you could see the competition. You could see Rob Kelley step up. Samaje Perine’s had a couple big days. Byron Marshall, I mean, he had a couple great routes today. He’s running the ball between the tackles. [Kapri] Bibbs had some big runs yesterday. Obviously, Derrius Guice has come in here and fueled the fire a little bit.

Comment: I think that the Redskins are going to have to release some good running backs. Rob Kelly never really earned the nickname “Fat Rob” but he looked particularly lean and quick running the ball. He wants nothing to do with being on the roster bubble. Marshall moved quickly and showed his speed. Although Gruden wouldn’t say it, Guice clearly was the best of the bunch; his ability to change direction while maintaining his speed will serve him well. It must be noted that they are not in pads and not getting tackled so more definitive opinions will have to wait until we are in Richmond for a few days. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 19
—Training camp starts (7/26) 64
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 78

The Redskins last played a game 144 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 108 days. 

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