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Another top passer awaits No. 13 Oklahoma

Another top passer awaits No. 13 Oklahoma

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) Oklahoma's stingy secondary is getting another chance to slow down a 3,000-yard passer.

The Sooners held Nick Florence, the nation's leader in passing yards per game, to a season-low 172 yards in a win over Baylor last week. On Saturday night, No. 13 Oklahoma will try to put the kibosh on West Virginia's Geno Smith, who will try to help the Mountaineers break a four-game losing streak.

``We know that they're explosive,'' Oklahoma safety Javon Harris said. ``We know what they're capable of. We've seen what they did at the beginning of the year. You never can sleep like a team like this.''

Smith threw for 364 yards and two scores in a 55-34 loss at Oklahoma State last week. It was his first 300-yard passing performance in five games.

He'll get one of his stiffest tests against an Oklahoma defense that has allowed only two opponents to throw for more than 200 yards this season.

``Those guys are really talented, and they play a lot of man coverage, which is the difference, one of the key differences in my opinion,'' Smith said. ``They have one of the better pass defenses in the country. So it will be a challenge and we look forward to it.''

This won't be the game that was envisioned over the summer as a showdown among Big 12 contenders.

The Sooners (7-2, 5-1 Big 12) don't control their conference destiny with No. 2 Kansas State a win away from clinching at least a share of the championship. Barring a meltdown by the Wildcats, Oklahoma must win its remaining three games to remain in contention for an at-large BCS bowl berth.

After starting the season 5-0, West Virginia (5-4, 2-4) is desperate to become bowl eligible. Another setback would give West Virginia its longest losing streak since 1986 and a third loss at home this season, something that hasn't happened since 2001.

The Mountaineers have allowed an average of 50 points during the losing streak, and Smith is still having a solid season despite not being able to keep up with his leaky defense and watching his Heisman Trophy credentials disappear.

He's third in the Bowl Subdivision with 338 passing yards per game and needs one touchdown pass to break the single-season school record of 31 he shares with Marc Bulger.

``It's human nature to think how I wish I could've made some plays differently that could have affected some games, but being the player that I am, I don't really think about it,'' Smith said. ``I just move on because there's more football to be played.''

Heavy favorite Oklahoma is 3-0 on the road, in addition to beating Texas in Dallas. The best an opposing receiver has done against the Sooners this season is six receptions - West Virginia's Tavon Austin leads the nation with nearly 11 catches a game, and teammate Stedman Bailey is not far behind at eight.

``They still throw the ball all over,'' Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. ``They've still been highly productive. Of course they're a dangerous offense.''

Oklahoma's Landry Jones has six touchdown passes in the past two games and could follow a season-long trend of star passing performances given up by West Virginia's defense, which ranks last in the FBS by allowing 344 passing yards per game.

``We're going to have to give them our best shot,'' said West Virginia defensive coordinator Joe DeForest. ``But we don't have to play over our heads. We just have to play consistent football.''

While Oklahoma has let four opponents compile at least 200 yards on the ground, the Sooners may not have to worry about that with West Virginia, which has been held below 100 rushing yards in its last three games. Andrew Buie has handled most of the load because Shawne Alston remains slowed by a thigh bruise and Dustin Garrison isn't fully recovered from offseason knee surgery.

But West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said Buie will wear down if he has 20 carries every game.

``We are working extremely hard to recruit about five or six running backs who can come in here and give us help,'' Holgorsen said. ``And until that happens, it is what it is.''

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Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman loses bet, rocks Ovechkin jersey

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USA Today Sports

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman loses bet, rocks Ovechkin jersey

Nearly two weeks have passed since the Washington Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights to raise their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

With one team being a first-year expansion project that turned out beautifully and the other a franchise that had not appeared in a Stanley Cup Final since 1998, there was obviously a lot on the line.

Those away from the ice had 'a lot' on the line, too.

Prior to the start of the series, each city's mayor agreed on a bet that would force the losing team's member to wear an opposing jersey at the conclusion of the Cup.

Well, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman followed through on her end of the bargain.

Here is proof of her wearing the jersey of a man who led what was arguably the greatest post-championship celebration in sports history.

 

The Capitals announced Wednesday that the team's home opener and Stanley Cup banner unveiling will be played on October 3 against the Boston Bruins.

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

The 2018 Major League All-Star Game is less than a month away. Fan votes are well underway and early frontrunners are close to locking their position in the Midsummer Classic.

Yesterday, we projected how the National League roster will play out. Today it is time to look at the American League roster projection.

For five straight seasons, the AL has had the upper hand in the MLB All-Star Game. In 2018, it does not appear that will change as the American League roster will be loaded from top to bottom.

As a reminder, here is how the process shakes out, first with the fan vote, players’ ballots, and the MLB Commissioner’s Office:

  • Fan vote: nine position players in AL (DH)/ eight in NL; plus final vote for each league
  • Player’s ballots: next 17 players in AL/ 16 players in NL; (five starting pitchers, three relievers must be chosen)
  • MLB Commissioner’s Office: five AL players (four pitchers, one position player) and seven NL players (four pitchers, three position players)

One player from each team must make the initial roster (before injury withdraws, etc.). Below is how it looks the American League roster will play out, considering the latest fan vote returns:

American League All-Star Roster Projection:

C – Wilson Ramos, Rays (Fan Vote), Gary Sánchez, Yankees (Player Ballot)
1B – José Abreu, White Sox (Fan Vote), Joey Gallo, Rangers (Player Ballot)
2B – Jose Altuve, Astros (Fan Vote), Jed Lowrie, Athletics (Player Ballot)
3B – José Ramírez, Indians (Fan Vote), Yangervis Solarte, Blue Jays (Player Ballot), Mike Moustakas, Royals (Commissioner’s Office)
SS – Manny Machado, Orioles (Fan Vote), Jean Segura, Mariners (Player Ballot),
OF – Mookie Betts, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Mike Trout, Angels (Fan Vote), Aaron Judge, Yankees (Fan Vote), Michael Brantley, Indians (Player Ballot), Eddie Rosario, Twins (Player Ballot), Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees (Player Ballot),
DH – J.D. Martinez, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Shohei Ohtani, Angels (Player Ballot)

SP – Justin Verlander, Astros (Player Ballot), Luis Severino, Yankees (Player Ballot), Corey Kluber, Indians (Player Ballot), Chris Sale, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Gerrit Cole, Astros (Player Ballot), Blake Snell, Tampa Bay (Commissioner’s Office)

RP – Edwin Díaz, Mariners (Player Ballot), Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Aroldis Chapman, Yankees (Player Ballot), Joe Jiménez, Tigers (Commissioner’s Office), Delin Betances, Yankees (Commissioner’s Office), Chris Devenski, Astros (Commissioner’s Office)

Manager: Jeff Luhnow, Astros

Based on this projection, the New York Yankees will have the most representatives with six. The Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox will both have four.

Ensuring no snubs, there will be five players selected for the final fan vote to get one more All-Star into the game for a total of 32 for the American League. As you can see, no matter how the AL roster plays out, it will be a dominant team once again as they look for six straight All-Star wins.

Four of those five wins were inside a National League stadium and that will not change as the Washington Nationals will host this season.

MORE ALL-STAR NEWS: