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BCS bonanza: Alabama vs. Notre Dame

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BCS bonanza: Alabama vs. Notre Dame

Alabama vs. Notre Dame. The BCS championship game couldn't get much bigger.

The Crimson Tide locked up a spot in the title game in Miami on Jan. 7 with a 32-28 victory over Georgia for the Southeastern Conference championship Saturday.

Sunday's selection show is just a formality.

The hype can begin now for what could be the most-watched BCS title game since the system was implemented in 1998. It'd be hard to find two more popular programs and a more enticing matchup.

The top-ranked Fighting Irish (12-0) have won eight AP national titles - matching Alabama for the most - but none since 1988. They'll be playing in their first BCS championship game.

Alabama (12-1) is making its third BCS title game appearance in four years. The Crimson Tide is trying to become the first team to win back-to-back BCS titles, and three in four years.

``We created a great opportunity for ourselves,'' Alabama coach Nick Saban said after his Tide beat the Bulldogs at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

The Irish and Tide have played six times, though not since 1987. Notre Dame is 5-1 against `Bama, including a 24-23 victory in the Sugar Bowl in 1973 that gave the Irish a national championship. They also played in the Orange Bowl in 1975, and the Irish won 13-11.

The buildup for this one, however, will be unmatched.

``I'm pretty sure it gets the old-heads excited, people that are in their 50s and 60s,'' Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley told The Chicago Tribune. ``It's going to be a historic game.''

A return to glory for Brian Kelly's Fighting Irish or a dynasty for Saban's Tide? Seven straight BCS titles for the SEC or the end of a 23-year national championship drought for Notre Dame?

There will no doubt be plenty of people tuning in to find out.

The highest rated BCS championship game was Southern California, going for three straight national titles and back-to-back BCS championships, against Texas in 2006 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. That game drew a 21.7 Nielsen rating.

Alabama's BCS title win over Texas in 2010 drew a 17.17 rating, a close third behind the 17.4 Florida-Ohio State drew in 2007.

Considering Notre Dame's regular-season finale against USC had a 10.3 rating, higher than any of the BCS bowls last season other than the championship game, it's a safe to say this year's championship game has a chance to blow by the record.

The rest of the BCS lineup also fell into place on championship weekend.

No. 7 Kansas State took the Big 12's BCS bid with a 42-24 victory at home against Texas. Collin Klein ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, making a final case for the Heisman Trophy.

The Wildcats are headed to the Fiesta Bowl, and Oklahoma could give the Big 12 two BCS teams.

Earlier Saturday, the No. 12 Sooners won 24-17 at TCU to finish the regular season 10-2 and share the Big 12 title.

On Friday night, Stanford grabbed a spot in the Rose Bowl and the chances for a BCS buster decreased.

Northern Illinois' 44-37 victory in double overtime against Kent State on Friday night gave the Huskies the Mid-American Conference title, and ended the Golden Flashes' BCS hopes.

Kent State needed to move up one spot in the BCS standings to No. 16 to earn an automatic bid. Northern Illinois came into the weekend 21st in the standings. The Huskies have a chance to get into the top 16 and into the BCS, too - but it will be tough.

Boise State is shooting to be a BCS buster again as well. The Broncos beat Nevada 27-21 to earn a share of the Mountain West title. The Broncos, who were 20th in the BCS standings, would need to break into the top 16 and finish ahead of the MAC champs.

The chances for a BCS buster improved thanks to Wisconsin, which pounded No. 14 Nebraska 70-31 in the Big Ten championship game Saturday night. The Badgers will go to the Rose Bowl for the third straight season, and the Cornhuskers, 12th in the previous BCS standings, might be in store for a long fall. That could boost the chances of Northern Illinois or Boise State.

If there is no BCS buster bid, the Sooners (10-2) look like a logical choice to be given an at-large bid. No. 15 Clemson (10-2) could also be in the mix for an at-large bid.

Oregon (11-1) and Florida (11-1) are locks to be at-large selections.

No. 13 Florida State is headed to the Orange Bowl after beating Georgia Tech 21-15 in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

Louisville earned the Big East's BCS bid by beating Rutgers on Thursday night, 20-17.

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BCS projections

Championship game: Notre Dame vs. Alabama.

Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Stanford.

Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Oklahoma.

Orange Bowl: Florida State vs. Louisville.

Fiesta Bowl: Kansas State vs. Oregon.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphdrussoap

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—The brawl, the flinch, and following the money

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—The brawl, the flinch, and following the money

Here is what you need to know on Saturday, August 17, six days before the Washington Redskins host the Broncos in their third preseason game. 

Talking points

The Redskins week that was: A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskinsand NBC Sports Washington.

The 'Skins and Jets got into a brawl an hour into practice—I was about 10 yards away from where the fight took place, but I was only a few yards from where Morgan Moses hit the ground after taking what the Redskins interpreted to be a cheap shot. I can attest that the earth moves when Moses hits the ground. As to the dustup itself, I wouldn’t have cared at all if it had taken place in the middle of the field. But the fight spilling over into the spectator area made it a very dangerous incident. They need to do better. 

Redskins release CB Orlando Scandrick—When an out-of-the-blue move like this takes place, follow the money. If Scandrick had sustained an injury during the preseason that was serious enough to put him on injured reserve, the Redskins would have been on the hook for his entire 2018 salary of $1.72 million. In addition, his salary would become fully guaranteed if he had been on the roster in Week 1. The Redskins decided to cut their losses, which was his signing bonus of a cool $1 million. 

How Davis' injury affects the Redskins' WR depth chart—Robert Davis was not a lock to make the Redskins’ roster, but he certainly was a contender. But that all changed in an instant a week ago when he got tangled up with cornerback Danny Johnson during practice. Johnson bounced right up, Davis did not, having sustained a broken leg and knee ligament damage. Davis spent most of last year on the practice squad so this will be a second straight season without game action for the 2017 sixth-round pick. 

Redskins starters training camp one-liners, offense—You hear plenty of talk about the backups and bubble players during training camp and often the front-line players get overlooked. So there is your look at how the offensive starters fared in camp, one-liners style. You can find the defense here

Tweet of the week

We didn’t expect him to say anything but we had to ask Terrelle Pryor if he had any comment after the “flinching” incident with D.J. Swearinger. This was all he was willing to say as he jogged towards the locker room with a smile on his face. 

It would be inaccurate to say that Pryor is a polarizing figure among Redskins fans because that would mean that that he had an equal number of supporters and detractors. It’s pretty much all haters. And it’s probably not fair.

From my point of view, I don’t have a problem with Pryor. He was always a stand-up guy when dealing with us. And while he was a free agent bust with the Redskins he didn’t cost a ton of money. Besides, he is hardly unique in that regard. 

The agenda

Today: Practice at Redskins Park 2; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice, approx. 3:30

Upcoming: Preseason Broncos @ Redskins (Aug. 24) 7 days; Final cut (Sept. 1) 15 days; Season opener @ Cardinals (Sept. 9) 23 days

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page,Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

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Injuries to Marshall and Perine will open the door for Kapri Bibbs to make the Redskins

Injuries to Marshall and Perine will open the door for Kapri Bibbs to make the Redskins

Following the Redskins' Week 2 preseason win over the Jets on Thursday, Jay Gruden said both Byron Marshall and Samaje Perine were "OK" after the two running backs each left the game with injuries. Marshall's was labeled a lower-leg issue, while Perine's injury was called a twisted ankle.

Timetables for their recoveries were then reported on Friday, and while the two members of the backfield escaped anything too severe, they will each be sidelined for decent chunks of time.

Perine will miss a week, according to Mike Garafolo. Marshall, meanwhile, is looking at a longer two-to-four week recovery, per Tom Pelissero. Those pieces of news hurt them in more ways than one.

Derrius Guice's torn ACL in Week 1 of the team's exhibition schedule meant that Marshall and Perine both had a big-time opportunity to step up and earn a spot on Washington's 53-man roster, spots that were harder to envision for them when Guice was healthy.

Overall, the two were slated to compete with Kapri Bibbs for what will likely be two spaces on the depth chart behind the absolutely safe Chris Thompson and Rob Kelley. Now, though, they'll be forced to sit until they're healed up, giving Bibbs more chances in practice and the two remaining August contests to earn Jay Gruden's trust.

Against New York, Bibbs struggled on the ground but led the offense with seven grabs, including a 29-yard gain off a screen play. That performance absolutely brought him closer in the race with Marshall, who scored vs. the Patriots a week earlier. Next, he'll need to prove he can run effectively between the tackles vs. the Broncos in Week 3, which will put some heat on Perine as well.

The 'Skins have 15 days left until they have to finalize their regular season roster. As things stand now amongst the running backs, Bibbs presently has a real shot at stealing a job from the two shelved RBs. But with the way this race has unfolded thus far, that can all change in a split second. 

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