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Barner, No. 2 Oregon beat No. 18 USC 62-51

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Barner, No. 2 Oregon beat No. 18 USC 62-51

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kenjon Barner rushed for a school-record 321 yards and five touchdowns, Marcus Mariota threw four TD passes, and No. 2 Oregon produced another landmark offensive performance in a 62-51 victory over No. 18 Southern California on Saturday night.

Josh Huff caught two touchdowns, and De'Anthony Thomas and Daryl Hawkins also caught scoring passes for the Ducks (9-0, 6-0 Pac-12), who outlasted USC in a back-and-forth second half to extend their winning streak to 12 games since the Trojans (6-3, 4-3) won in Eugene last season.

Oregon's 730 yards and 62 points were the most ever allowed by USC, which began playing football in 1888.

Barner set a rushing record for a USC opponent by the third quarter, topping Curtis Enis' 241 yards for Penn State in 1996, and smashed the school record shortly afterward as the Ducks gradually pulled away in their closest game of the year.

Matt Barkley passed for 484 yards and four touchdowns while hitting Marqise Lee with 12 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns for the Trojans, who have lost two straight after a 6-1 start.

The preseason No. 1 team hit a defensive nadir not even matched during Pete Carroll's final season in 2009, when several opponents destroyed the Trojans' defense.

Barner has already roared past Barkley in the Heisman Trophy race, and the product of Riverside, Calif., thoroughly entertained his friends and family members at the Coliseum with another dominant ground performance, capped by enthusiastic celebrations of every touchdown.

Mariota also carved up the Trojans for 304 yards passing, going 20 for 23 without an interception and rushing for another 96 yards.

USC's defense harassed Darron Thomas into a sub-par performance in this matchup last season, but the freshman who has replaced him showed absolutely no nerves in the historic stadium while playing against the team expected to be Oregon's biggest obstacle in Pac-12 play.

Oregon, which is likely to move up in the BCS standings after this win and Notre Dame's narrow victory, had won every game this season by at least 17 points. USC's offense did its part, scoring more points and gaining more yards (615) than Oregon had allowed all year.

The Trojans' defense simply couldn't keep up with Oregon's relentless pace and precision. Oregon took a 21-3 lead 12 seconds into the second quarter, but Barkley threw TD passes of 75 yards to Lee and 76 yards to Nelson Agholor in the second quarter.

Robert Woods also caught a scoring pass. The Trojans twice pulled within three points in the second half, but Barner was viciously effective on almost every drive.

Randall Telfer caught a short TD pass with 5:27 to play, and USC narrowly missed recovering an onside kick. Barkley had one more chance to drive, but turned it over on downs with 3 minutes left. Agholor had six catches for 162 yards, and Silas Redd rushed for 92 yards and two TDs.

The Trojans' 38-35 win in Eugene last November was arguably the highlight of Barkley's four-year career, snapping the Ducks' 21-game home winning streak and 19-game conference streak while knocking Oregon out of the national championship race. But USC got off to a fast start at Autzen Stadium in that shocker, and the Ducks were much quicker in the rematch at the Coliseum.

In fact, the Ducks needed just 65 seconds to take the lead, with Thomas' 16-yard TD reception capping a five-play drive while the late-arriving part of the sellout crowd filed into the Coliseum.

Oregon's second 75-yard TD drive of the first quarter required 3:11, but Huff finished it with a 21-yard TD catch.

The Trojans were reeling after Mariota orchestrated an 80-yard drive ending in Barner's 27-yard TD run on the second snap of the second quarter, but Barkley uncorked a 75-yard throw to Lee in stride for a score on the next snap from scrimmage.

Barkley also hit Woods and Agholor for scores in the final minutes before halftime to keep the lead down to 34-24.

The Ducks gained 460 yards in the first half, yet weren't in control. Redd's first TD trimmed the Ducks' lead to three points, but Oregon converted two fourth downs on their next drive, ending in Barner's third TD.

Lee returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards, setting up Redd's second TD run.

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Alex Ovechkin goes for gold before a needed break from hockey

Alex Ovechkin goes for gold before a needed break from hockey

The Capitals’ season ended a month ago, but Alex Ovechkin has yet to take his break.

That will happen soon enough, but for now Washington’s captain is leading Russia at the IIHF World Hockey Championships in Slovakia. After that, he gets his first real rest since the end of the 2016-17 season. He has played in 194 NHL games, including the postseason, in 18 months.  

Ovechkin will turn 34 on Sept. 17 and the questions now start in earnest: How long can one of the world’s greatest goal scorers keep up his pace? Ovechkin recorded his eighth 50-goal season this past season. And while it ended in disappointment with a first-round loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Ovechkin deserved little blame after adding four goals and five assists in the series.

“As a captain and as a leader, I thought he took another step this year from how he showed up to training camp to how he played all year long two-way hockey, commitment and when the games mattered the most,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said last month. “He scored big goals and showed fantastic playmaking ability. A physical force. I'm excited to see what he comes back with now after a little extended time away because he was tremendous this year.”

Washington won the Stanley Cup on June 7 in Las Vegas last year and after a hectic summer of celebrating and, eventually, training, players were back less than three months later for another grind of a season that ended after 89 more regular-season and playoff games. Ovechkin missed just one of them. 

Next year could be another one filled with milestones for Ovechkin. He doesn’t even need 50 to reach them. With 42 goals he reaches 700 for his career. Only seven players have ever hit that mark.  

Ovechkin passes Mario Lemieux (690) with 32 goals and moves into the top 10 all time. He has a reasonable chance to catch Brett Hull for second-most power-play goals (265) in NHL history. Ovechkin has 247 right now and has averaged 17 per year each of the past four seasons.     

At some point, even for Ovechkin, scoring 50 goals will be too much. Only Johnny Bucyk (36) and Jaromir Jagr (34) have ever topped 50 goals at an older age. But if he could just do it one more time he would tie Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy for most 50-goal seasons ever (nine). We’re at the point where nothing should surprise, but we’ve gone off the known map. 

“That's the best I've seen him play in my three years here,” teammate Lars Eller said. “He just took some games over. It was impressive. He was our best player. Him and Nick, but especially O, he just took it to another level. Physicality-wise, he enforced his will out there and when he decides to do that, he's almost unstoppable. That was exciting to see."

Almost everything Ovechkin does now is unprecedented. In the past 20 NHL seasons dating to 1998-99, there have been 28 different 50-goal seasons as scoring has become harder thanks to better goalie play, equipment and more tactical defensive systems. And yet Ovechkin owns 29 percent of those 50-goal seasons. His 89 points (51 goals, 38 assists) were his most since 2009-10.  

For now, Ovechkin will settle for another IIHF World Championship. He has helped Russia win gold at the event three times (2008, 2010 and 2014). 

But Russia was 6-0 heading into the matchup with Sweden on Tuesday night and had outscored its opponents 29-3 in Group B despite just a goal and an assist from Ovechkin. 

There can be wild fluctuations in the competition level during the group stage at Worlds. The Russians beat Italy 10-0 last week. And the United States, Canada and Finland are all formidable opponents in Group A. 

Russia will likely play one of those teams in the quarterfinals on Thursday so nothing is guaranteed. The semifinals would be Saturday if they do win and then the gold-medal game - or the bronze-medal game - would be Sunday. Then, finally, Ovechkin can rest and get ready for his 15th NHL season with two years left on his contract with the Capitals. 

“[Ovechkin] elevated his game in the first round. He's just got a hunger to him to contribute and to score goals,” teammate Brett Connolly said. “You could tell that he was committed and that he was going to give everything he had to win it again. He was great last year and arguably even better this year….This fan base is very lucky to watch what he does on a consistent basis. You're not going to see that ever again. So, enjoy it while it's here.” 

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Tim Connelly explains his interview with Wizards, decision to stay with Nuggets

Tim Connelly explains his interview with Wizards, decision to stay with Nuggets

Tim Connelly sat down with Wizards owner Ted Leonsis about the head front-office opening on Friday.

On Monday, NBC Sports Washington confirmed that he decided to stick with his role as president of basketball operations for the Denver Nuggets

A day later, he spoke to the media at a press conference and answered questions about his meeting with Washington.

Clear in Connelly's comments were his respect for Leonsis, but commitment to continuity in Denver. 

"I had a really nice conversation with Mr. Leonsis and his staff. He's a fantastic owner, I think a real visionary. I was really impressed by who he was and his thoughts for the team. That team's going to be special quickly under his leadership. We just had a conversation and not much more than that."

As for the reason for the discussion with Leonsis, Connelly said it came down to his love for the franchise. 

"I spent 14 years there. Certainly it's where I'm from, it's where my wife's from, so I just wanted to have the conversation because I care about the organization," he said.

"I'd never had an audience with [Leonsis], so to have that conversation and exchange of ideas, you know, it's flattering." 

Ultimately, however, the Baltimore native emphasized that Washington couldn't entice him away from the franchise he'd spent the last six years building. 

"Loyalty and patience is such a rarity in professional sports and that's here in spades. Those things matter to me," he said. "I had a hard time envisioning myself elsewhere."

With Connelly out of the picture, the list of candidates for the Wizards front-office opening is narrowing. Currently, Tommy Sheppard, Danny Ferry and Troy Weaver remain in the conversation. 

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