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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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The biggest ‘what ifs’ in Capitals history: What if Lars Eller never scored the 2OT goal?

The biggest ‘what ifs’ in Capitals history: What if Lars Eller never scored the 2OT goal?

This week NBC Sports Washington is looking at some of the biggest “what ifs” for the Capitals. Last week, we looked at what ifs for the season. This week, we are looking at some of the bigger what ifs from franchise history.
 
Today’s what-if: What if Lars Eller had not delivered the game-winning goal in double overtime of Game 3 against the Columbus Blue Jackets?
 
Lars Eller scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights, but that arguably was not the most important goal he scored during that 2018 postseason.
 
Down 2-0 in the first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Eller scored the double-overtime winner to give Washington its first win. It was a fluky one that bounced off a number of body parts on its way into the net, but it still counted. But what if he had not scored that goal and the Caps had lost Game 3?
 
While Washington was able to erase a 2-0 deficit to win four straight against Columbus and win the series, it’s hard to believe they could have done the same thing if down 3-0. At that time, despair would have started to sink in. 

RELATED: WHAT IF THE CAPS HADN'T WON THE 2004 NHL DRAFT LOTTERY?
 
In terms of moves head coach Barry Trotz could have made, he would have had to get creative because the standard panic move of a goalie change would not cut it. Philipp Grubauer started Games 1 and 2 and was replaced by Braden Holtby in Game 3. Going back to Grubauer was not a realistic option at that point. Chances are, Washington would have suffered a first-round exit.
 
Considering Trotz left after winning a Stanley Cup, it is hard to imagine him staying after a first-round exit. So with another year of falling short of expectations in the postseason and in need of a new head coach, this is the point where I believe Brian MacLellan would have had to seriously consider dismantling the team. 
 
I don’t think there was ever a scenario where Alex Ovechkin would be traded considering what he means to the franchise, but I think everyone else would have been on the table. After all, by 2018 what reason would the team have to believe the core was good enough to make a deep playoff run? It had not done it after four seasons with Trotz and about as loaded a lineup as a team can have.
 
It would not have meant the end of the Ovechkin era as he would have stayed, but it probably would have meant the end in terms of the Ovechkin-led Caps pursuing a Cup. By that time, it would have been clear it was time to start over and it would have meant a very long 2018 offseason.

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Elena Delle Donne put in tough spot by WNBA, reveals health struggles with Lyme disease in open letter

Elena Delle Donne put in tough spot by WNBA, reveals health struggles with Lyme disease in open letter

For anyone that has covered Elena Delle Donne in her professional career, there is one thing that you know: the two-time WNBA MVP battles Lyme disease which directly affects her ordinary way of life. 

She's been open about it and does not shy away from questions regarding her symptoms. Her openness and status in the league were so prominent that when the WNBA said it would allow players with preexisting conditions - and potential vulnerabilities to the coronavirus - to sit out and receive pay, it was assumed she fit. 

But yet the WNBA denied her request, leaving her in "disbelief" and her best response coming in a tell-all Player's Tribune article

I take 64 pills a day, and I feel like it’s slowly killing me. Or if it’s not killing me, directly, then I at least know one thing for sure: It’s really bad for me. Longterm, taking that much medicine on that regular of a regimen is just straight-up bad for you. It’s literally an elaborate trick that you play on yourself — a lie that you tell your body so it keeps thinking everything is fine. 

It’s a never-ending, exhausting, miserable cycle.

But I do it anyway.

Much of what she says is nothing new. By battling “Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome," more commonly known as Chronic Lyme Disease, her life has been uprooted. Delle Donne has to take 64 supplements a day. She is immunocompromised where a common cold sends her immune system into a frenzy and a flu shot does more harm than good.

RELATED: CLOUD RIPS THE WNBA'S DECISION TO DECLINE EED'S REQUEST

She's been battling it since 2008 and now her league, that she represents on the highest stage, turned its back on her. She is more at risk of developing serious complications due to the coronavirus because of her compromised immune system. Her own doctor said that it's not safe for her to risk traveling to a state where cases are skyrocketing all to play basketball. 

Lyme disease is not one without controversy. For most affected, treatment is easy and simple (about a month of steroids and you're back to normal). However, symptoms get more serious the longer it is not treated and for Delle Donne it took multiple doctors to figure out what was going on. 

Many brush off the disease, mostly because there is so much even the medical community does not know. 

Yet, the league isn't giving her a fair option.

Instead of giving her a choice to remain safe, at home, the WNBA's panel of doctors said that she is not high-risk for the virus. 

I’m now left with two choices: I can either risk my life….. or forfeit my paycheck.

Honestly? That hurts.

It hurts a lot. And maybe being hurt just makes me naive. And I know that, as athletes, we’re not really supposed to talk about our feelings. But feelings are pretty much all I have left right now. I don’t have NBA player money. I don’t have the desire to go to war with the league on this. And I can’t appeal.

So really all I’m left with is how much this hurts. How much it hurts that the W — a place that’s been my one big dream in life for as long as I can remember, and that I’ve given my blood, sweat and tears to for seven going on eight seasons — has basically told me that I’m wrong about what’s happening in my own body. What I hear in their decision is that I’m a fool for believing my doctor. That I’m faking a disability. That I’m trying to “get out” of work and still collect a paycheck.

Her disease and symptoms didn't come out of nowhere. And of all people in the league to be 'faking' a disease, it's not her. She played the WNBA Finals last season with three herniated discs, a face mask and a knee brace from injuries she suffered on the court. 

Her decision to play is still forthcoming - a decision that she should never have to make. Delle Donne admits that her choice is no different than what many Americans have had to weigh during the pandemic and many are in worse financial shape than she is. But if this situation taught her anything, it's to admit when someone doesn't know something.

"Probably the best lesson I’ve learned through my experience with Lyme disease — is this: There’s so much in the world that we don’t know," Delle Donne said.

And right now there is so much the WNBA doesn't know about Lyme disease. 

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