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Barkley rallies No. 13 USC past Utah 38-28

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Barkley rallies No. 13 USC past Utah 38-28

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) All-American wide receiver Robert Woods was face down on the giant red ``U'' in the middle of the field Thursday night, dazed by a wicked shot.

The scene was indicative of the Trojans as a whole after blunders left No. 13 Southern California down two touchdowns early and Utah smelling upset.

Woods righted himself and so did the rest of the USC offense, with quarterback Matt Barkley showing why he was a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy before the season started.

Barkley led the Trojans to 28 straight points, passing for 303 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-28 victory.

``That was a real low point to give the other team 14 points to start the game, but our team bounced back,'' said Barkley, who finished 23 of 30. ``We didn't let that ruin our night.''

Instead the Trojans ruined one of the biggest games in Utah history - it was USC's first trip to Salt Lake City in 95 years.

``We wanted to come out fast and we did that,'' said Utah wide receiver Kenneth Scott, who caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Jon Hays and had a 44-yarder nullified by penalty in the second quarter. ``Now we just have to finish.''

That the Trojans (4-1, 2-1) showed they know how to do, scoring twice in a span of less than 3 minutes in the fourth quarter to turn a 3-point game into another victory.

Leading 24-21, Barkley tossed an 83-yard TD pass to Marqise Lee to bump USC's lead to 10 points. Less than 3 minutes later, cornerback Nickell Robey intercepted a pass by Jon Hays and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown.

``The D-line disrupted the play'' Robey said of a pass Hays overthrew. ``I read it. I just broke on the ball and stepped in and caught it.''

Game over.

That may well have been what a frenzied crowd of 46,037 thought when Utah (2-3, 0-2 Pac-12) forced turnovers 1:16 apart to open the game, both involving Rimington Award candidate Khaled Holmes

Just 47 seconds in Nate Fakahafua scored from 8 yards out after stripping the ball from Barkley after a bad snap by Holmes. On the second play of USC's second series, reigning Pac-12 defensive lineman of the year Star Lotulelei bulldozed Holmes as he snapped the ball and pounced on the fumble with 12:57 left in the first. Hays; 11-yard TD pass to Kenneth Scott put Utah up 14-0.

Holmes apologized in front of the team before head coach Lane Kiffin could even start his postgame chat. ``He was a man to do that and played great the rest of the game,'' Kiffin said.

Kiffin also was pleased with the way his staff hung in there.

``I felt we did a lot better job as a staff today handling negative plays than we did the last time on the road,'' Kiffin said, referring to a 21-14 loss to Stanford on Sept. 15.

``I think we did a very good job of that, not panicking, staying with the run game even though we were down. Much like last year, after our first bad road trip, we started playing a lot better, so hopefully that's the case.''

Before the season, Thursday's game was being touted as a possible showdown for the Pac-12 South title. But then Stanford upset then-No. 2-ranked USC and Utah lost by 30 to Arizona State the following week.

While the Utes are headed to the South basement, the Trojans continue to work their way back to the top of a league with six Pac-12 teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25.

It helps having Barkley, who stayed calm Thursday after the rough start.

He drove the Trojans 75 yards in eight plays, capped by Silas Redd's 3-yard run, to pull USC within 14-7 midway through the first quarter.

After Hays' 18-yard TD pass to DeVonte Christopher bumped Utah's lead to 21-10 with 8:54 left in the half, Barkley countered a minute later with a three-play,74-yard TD drive, passing 41 yards to Woods and capping it with a 23-yard strike to tight end Randall Telfer that pulled USC within 21-17.

Barkley gave USC its first lead with 4:38 left in the half on a 6-yard TD pass to Woods on third-and-goal from the 6.

Lee finished with 12 catches for 192 yards, and Woods had six catches for 69 yards.

``Those are unselfish guys,'' Kiffin said of Lee and Woods.

Lee spun himself silly going for extra yards after the catch.

Woods, meanwhile, was dazed from a block he made on a punt return.

``I don't want Robert to hit like he did on the punt return,'' Kiffin said. ``He could have just high-screened him, but he's so competitive you can't slow him down in a situation like that.

``He came right back in that quick. Many guys are going to stay out for a while but he's a dynamic competitor.''

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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.

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Capitals don't get Penguins for home opener, but Penguins will host Capitals in theirs

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Capitals don't get Penguins for home opener, but Penguins will host Capitals in theirs

The Capitals found out who their opponent will be for the home opener on Oct. 3 and it's not the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And you know what? That's OK. Winning the Stanley Cup was awesome and the banner raising will be an incredible scene regardless. 

Plus, the Penguins need that night off because they have to get ready for their own home opener on Oct. 4 against...the Caps?

Wait, what?

In 2016, the Capitals were in attendance as the Penguins raised their Stanley Cup banner. That had to sting considering Pittsburgh eliminated Washington in the playoffs.

It has not become a tradition to make rivals watch as teams raise banners and there's nothing that said the NHL had to schedule the Penguins for Washington's home opener. But it does seem odd that the NHL is going to make the defending Stanley Cup champions play a back-to-back right out of the gate with the second end coming against their archrivals in Pittsburgh.

Hey Caps, it's the NHL here. Congrats again. Vegas is a hell of a city, am I right? So, listen...we thought about it and decided you won't get to raise your banner against your rivals. Sorry about that. We tried and we couldn't get them for your first game. Good news though, we moved it all the way up to the second game, we just couldn't get it any sooner than that. You'll be playing them the second game of the season...the night after your home opener...in Pittsburgh...for their home opener. Anyway, good luck on the repeat.

Makes sense.

Look, if Washington can't have Pittsburgh for the home opener fine. It would have been nice, but it's really not a big deal. Raising the banner will be special regardless of who the opponent will be. But don't turn around and make the Caps play in the Penguins' home opener the very next day.

The schedule makers did the Caps no favors with this one.

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