Nationals

Bama bashes Notre Dame 42-14 in BCS title game

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Bama bashes Notre Dame 42-14 in BCS title game

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) The coach no longer wears houndstooth. The result is the same. Another Alabama dynasty.

Quieting the Irish by the first play of the second quarter, Eddie Lacy, AJ McCarron and the No. 2 Crimson Tide rolled top-ranked Notre Dame 42-14 for the BCS championship Monday night, locking up a second straight national title and third in four years with another laugher of a title game.

The Bear would've been especially proud of this one - Nick Saban and the Tide romping to the second-biggest rout of the BCS era that began in 1999.

``We're going for it next year again,'' said Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandijo, only a sophomore but already the owner of two rings. ``And again. And again. And again. I love to win. That's why I came here.''

Lacy, the game's offensive MVP, ran for one touchdown and caught a pass for another in the final minute of the opening half. He spun away from the vaunted Notre Dame defense not once, but twice, to cap a 28-0 blitz before the bands even got on the field.

``They just did what Alabama does,'' moaned Manti Te'o, Notre Dame's star linebacker and Heisman Trophy finalist.

Lacy finished with 140 yards on 20 carries, coming up with two of his best performances in the two biggest games of the year. He rushed for a career-high 181 yards in a thrilling victory over Georgia in the SEC title game, and was nearly as dominant against the Irish. McCarron wasn't too shabby, either, completing 20 of 28 passes for four touchdowns and 264 yards, adding another dazzling effort on top of his MVP in last year's title game.

You could almost hear television sets around the country flipping to other channels, a hugely anticipated matchup between two of the nation's most storied programs reduced to nothing more than the second straight BCS blowout for the Crimson Tide.

``We've had a lot of really great football players who've worked really hard,'' Saban said. ``Because we've had a great team, we've been able to have a significant amount of success.''

Alabama (13-1) scored 69 straight points against its title game opponents, going back to getting the final 13 against Texas in 2010, followed by a stifling 21-0 victory over LSU for last year's crown, then scoring the first 35 points on Notre Dame. Saban's team made the Irish (12-1) look like a squad that would be hard-pressed to finish in the middle of the pack in the mighty Southeastern Conference, which has now won seven straight national championships.

The Crimson Tide will likely wrap up its ninth Associated Press national title, breaking a tie with Notre Dame for the most by any school and gaining a measure of redemption for a bitter loss to the Irish almost four decades ago: the epic Sugar Bowl in which Ara Parseghian's team edged Bear Bryant's powerhouse 24-23.

Bryant won five AP titles during his brilliant career. The way things are going, Saban might just chase him down.

The diminutive man with the perpetual scowl has guided Alabama to the top spot in the rankings three times since arriving in Tuscaloosa in 2007, and if he's serious about finishing his career with the job he has, there seems no reason he can't win a few more before he's done with ``The Process.''

Already, Saban is the first coach in the BCS era to win national titles at different schools, capturing his first at LSU during the 2003 season. Now, he's the first coach with back-to-back BCS titles, and given the youthfulness of his team, Alabama figures to go into next season as a heavy favorite.

In an interesting twist, Saban's fourth college title came in the stadium where he had the only stumble of his coaching career, a two-year tenure with the NFL's Miami Dolphins that ended ugly, with the coach insisting he wasn't planning to leave - then bolting for Alabama just two weeks later. His tactics may have been underhanded, but it's hard to argue with the call he made.

Before a record Sun Life Stadium crowd of 80,120 that definitely included more green than crimson, Lacy ran right through Te'o and the Irish on a 20-yard touchdown run before the game was 3 minutes old, capping an 82-yard drive that was longest of the season given up by the Fighting Irish.

It would only get worse. Alabama marched right down the field on its second possession, this one a 10-play, 61-yard pounding that finished with McCarron completely faking out the defense and lofting a 3-yard touchdown pass to Michael Williams, standing all alone in the back of the end zone.

On the first play of the second quarter, T.J. Yeldon powered over from the 1 to make it 21-0, the finish to another impressive drive - this one covering 80 yards - that included two long completions by McCarron. First, he went to Kevin Norwood on a 25-yard gain. Then, he hooked up with freshman Amari Cooper for a 27-yard gain to the Notre Dame 6.

By that point, it was clear to everyone that Notre Dame's hopes of winning its first national championship since 1988 were all done. But Alabama just poured it on.

``We've got to get physically stronger, continue close the gap there,'' said Brian Kelly, the Irish's third-year coach. ``Just overall, we need to see what it looks like. Our guys clearly know what it looks like now - a championship football team. That's back-to-back national champions. That's what it looks like. That's what you measure yourself against there. It's pretty clear across the board what we have to do.''

Lacy's 11-yard touchdown reception with 31 seconds left in the half left the Irish fans shaking the heads in disbelief, while the Alabama faithful broke out that familiar ``SEC! SEC! SEC!''

Alabama made it 35-0 on McCarron's second TD pass of the night, a 34-yarder to Cooper without a Notre Dame defender in sight.

The Irish finally scored late in the third quarter, a 2-yard run by Everett Golson that served no other purpose except to end Alabama's remarkable scoreless streak in the BCS title games, which stretched to 108 minute and 7 seconds - the equivalent of nearly two full games - before the Notre Dame quarterback fought his way into the end zone.

The only BCS title game that was more of a blowout was USC's 55-19 victory over Oklahoma in the 2005 Orange Bowl, a title that was later vacated because of NCAA violations.

About the only time Alabama stumbled was when McCarron had a miscommunication with his All-American center, Barrett Jones, in the closing seconds. The fiery McCarron shouted at Jones, who just shoved him away. But as the seconds ticked off, they were right on the same page, hugging Saban and celebrating another title.

Notre Dame went from unranked in the preseason to the top spot in the rankings by the end of the regular season. But that long-awaited championship will have to wait at least one more years. Golson completed his first season as the starter by going 21 of 36 for 270 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. But he got no help from the running game, which was held to 32 yards - 170 below their season average.

Kelly had vowed this was only beginning, insisting the bar has been raised in South Bend no matter what the outcome.

``We made incredible strides to get to this point,'' he said. ``Now it's pretty clear what we've got to do to get over the top.''

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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Nationals romp Cardinals to pull within one win of the World Series

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Nationals romp Cardinals to pull within one win of the World Series

WASHINGTON -- The governor is off now, no longer are the Nationals dealing with nip-and-tuck, cross-your-fingers baseball. They have turned into the heavy. 

A gleeful Monday evening at Nationals Park finished with a 3-0 National League Championship Series lead. The first NLCS home game in team history accelerated from tight to comfortable while Stephen Strasburg cruised along. The crux of the series has become clear in the simplest of terms: St. Louis can’t hit what the Washington starters are throwing. Patrick Corbin will try to end it Tuesday night. If he does, the once 19-31 Nationals will start the World Series Oct. 22 in either Houston or New York. 

Monday’s 8-1 pummeling of St. Louis provides Washington with daunting leverage. Teams leading the best-of-seven NLCS 3-0 have won the series 100 percent of time. The Nationals exist as a massive favorite to advance and likely to do so at home. Opposing Corbin on Tuesday is Dakota Hudson, a 24-year-old who led the league in walks and lasted just 4 ⅔ innings against Atlanta in the NLDS.

Again pulling the weight was a Nationals starting pitcher. Strasburg managed a strange seventh-inning situation to finish with just one unearned run allowed. Washington starters have allowed zero earned runs in 21 ⅔ innings this series. Little is left to be said about their dominance of a middling St. Louis lineup rendered fully inept. 

The bottom of the third inning was part anomaly, part predictable. St. Louis starter Jack Flaherty moved through the first two innings with little to shudder about. Victor Robles, back in the lineup for the first time in 10 days, began the third with a single. Strasburg bunted him to second. Adam Eaton singled with two outs to drive in Robles. Anthony Rendon’s rapidly sinking fly ball to left rattled out of Marcell Ozuna’s glove while he slid. Eaton scored. Juan Soto walked. Howie Kendrick arrived at a 2-1 count versus the teetering Flaherty. His double into the gap scored two more, promoting him to shark clap toward the dugout and high-on-life Gerardo Parra to grab and tap a mini stuffed shark hanging from the mesh in front of the dugout. 

Flaherty had not allowed four or more runs in an inning since June 25; 20 starts ago. He allowed four earned runs total in six September starts. Flaherty threw one more inning Monday before giving way to the bullpen. He lasted four innings, a deflating evening for the Cardinals’ top pitcher in a game they had to win. 

Kendrick and Ryan Zimmerman delivered back-to-back doubles in the fifth to bump the lead to 6-0. Robles homered in the sixth to go up 7-0. Zimmerman's single drove Kendrick across the plate in the eighth. In the meantime, Strasburg racked up strikeouts with changeups and curveballs before a splash of trouble in the seventh. 

Back-to-back singles started the inning. Paul DeJong’s single to left field seemed harmless enough until Juan Soto lost his feet when loading to throw. Soto ended up on his backside, the ball eventually coming into the infield to no one in particular. A run scored. Davey Martinez and trainer Paul Lessard approached the mound before Strasburg shooed them away with a death stare and handful of words. 

Strasburg closed the inning with back-to-back strikeouts -- his 11th and 12th of the evening -- to further suppress the Cardinals lineup. How bad has it been for St. Louis through three games? A starter who finished with seven hits allowed and an unearned run across seven innings is the laggard.

Four opportunities to crack the World Series now exist. Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon -- if necessary -- at home, then two during the weekend back in St. Louis, if it somehow comes to that. Monday’s luxury ride put them in position. Tuesday’s nine innings could send them over the hump.

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Nationals break out a stuffed 'Baby Shark' in dugout during NLCS

Nationals break out a stuffed 'Baby Shark' in dugout during NLCS

Based on how the 2019 season has gone for the Washington Nationals, and the impact 'Baby Shark' has had on it, would you really expect the rallying call to dissapear in the biggest game yet?

Of course not.

So, it's no surprise that during Game 3 of the NLCS, it was on full display.

First, DC Washington, who sang the National Anthem on Monday, concluded his performance by sneaking in a little chomp at the end.

But, that wouldn't be the last we saw of 'Baby Shark'. It appears that Gerardo Parra, the man who started all the hysteria, has a little homage to the song and chant in the dugout.

With Washington taking an early lead in Game 3 and up 2-0 in the series, don't expect 'Baby Shark' to go anywhere anytime soon.

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