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Bedlam brings final home start for Sooners' Jones

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Bedlam brings final home start for Sooners' Jones

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Landry Jones wouldn't consider his career as Oklahoma's starting quarterback to be a mixed bag.

Entering his final home game Saturday night against No. 22 Oklahoma State (7-3, 5-2 Big 12), Jones chooses to focus on the highs he's experienced with the 14th-ranked Sooners (8-2, 6-1) and not the occasional fierce criticism he's endured.

Jones has won one Big 12 championship and is trying to keep Oklahoma in the mix for another, and he'll be going for his third Bedlam rivalry win - to go with three rivalry victories against Texas.

He's won the most games in school history and ranks fourth in Bowl Subdivision history with 15,624 yards.

That hasn't always been enough to win over his team's faithful followers because he's never put the Sooners in position to play for a national championship.

``There's been a lot of great players here, especially the guy I came after. Sam had done so many good things around this place. There are some high expectations of me here,'' Jones said. ``But at the end of the day, I wanted to be who I was.

``I didn't want to be Sam. I didn't want to be Jason. If you try to do those things, you aren't going to live up to the capabilities of who you are as a player and as an individual.''

As Jones makes his 48th career start, he'll be opposing Clint Chelf - who has gone from third-stringer to cult hero while winning his first two starts for Oklahoma State. He's earned an oddball nickname - ``Choo Choo'' - that's been perpetuated on Twitter, but more importantly the trust of his teammates and coaches.

After dancing around quarterback questions for months while dealing with injuries to starter Wes Lunt and backup J.W. Walsh, coach Mike Gundy has named Chelf his starter even though he says both of the others are available to play.

To some degree, it's vindication for Chelf after he waited his turn for two seasons behind Brandon Weeden and then finished third in a three-way competition this spring.

``That was the coaches' decision. You have to go with it sometimes, and it doesn't always work out for you. You've just got to keep working hard, and that's what I tried to do,'' Chelf said.

``I'm just happy that we're winning.''

A Bedlam victory would be a big addition to either quarterback's resume. Jones won his first two starts against Oklahoma State before committing four turnovers in last year's 44-10 blowout loss.

The Sooners had a chance to earn a split of the Big 12 championship in that game, but instead allowed Oklahoma State to snap an eight-game losing streak in the series and win its first conference title outright.

``Beating OU was great and I think it just kind of proves that OSU isn't the little brother anymore,'' Cowboys defensive end Cooper Bassett said. ``We're a team that's nationally ranked every year, we're at team who gets great recruits every year, we're a team that won the Big 12.

``We're the defending Big 12 champions. So, it's not the big brother-little brother effect anymore. I think that the gap is being closed immensely.''

Jones and his Sooners are again flirting with the Big 12 title entering this year's game. They're currently tied with No. 6 Kansas State but could claim an outright championship by closing the season with back-to-back wins against OSU and TCU, plus a K-State loss to Texas.

At best, Oklahoma State can earn a share of the Big 12 title.

``It's kind of out of our hands, the Big 12 championship. But that would be huge for our program if we're able to sneak in there and get one this year,'' said Jones, who's 37-10 as a starter. ``Some things have to happen for us to have that possibility. But you never know what's going to happen in college football.''

Although his defense was shredded for a school-record 778 yards in a 50-49 win against West Virginia last week, Jones comes in on a high. He passed for an Oklahoma-record 554 yards and threw for six touchdowns, the last one a game-winner with 24 seconds left.

Even better, Jones' pass to Kenny Stills came after he audibled at the line on a fourth-and-3 play with the Sooners needing a touchdown.

``It didn't surprise me at all. Landry is one of the most productive players in the history of this conference, so for him to make those types of plays doesn't surprise me at all. He's capable of doing that all the time,'' co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said.

``He's finishing his career, he's a fabulous player and I know he's going to be like a lot of the great players that have played here. When they're gone, you miss him.''

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AP freelance writer Murray Evans contributed to this report.

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3 things to watch for improved Wizards vs. Cavs

3 things to watch for improved Wizards vs. Cavs

The Washington Wizards still have John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. The Cleveland Cavaliers no longer employ LeBron James. That makes Wednesday’s first meeting of the season between the Eastern Conference foes curious. The radical change for the visitors also requires a preview. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Sustaining the surge

Monday’s 117-109 victory over the Orlando Magic extended the Wizards’ winning streak to a season-high two. Don't knock the modest uptick after a 2-9 start. John Wall’s stat line took a big leap over the last three games: 24.0 points, 10.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 45.5 percent on 3-pointers. Beyond the numbers, the point guard appears to have knocked off the remaining rust physically. We’re used to his aggressive end-to-end pushes, but now Wall is firing up the court immediately after makes or misses, helping Washington quickly enter its offensive sets. Another strong outing from the five-time All-Star could propel the Wizards to their first three-game winning streak since Feb. 10-22.

Quick rematch

Starters Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and Markieff Morris had solid games against the Magic, but the Wizards’ second unit played above previous season norms. All five reserves finished with a plus-minus of plus-8 or better. Jeff Green continued his sizzling shooting, sinking 4 of 5 from beyond the arc en route to 18 points. The 6-foot-9 forward is 9 of 13 from beyond the arc overall during the last four games, and 21 of 28 overall. Backcourt partners Austin Rivers and Tomas Satoransky, slow to develop chemistry this season, showed increased comfort during the winning streak. Washington needs more from the pair to help keep minutes for Wall and Beal at reasonable levels.

Cleveland doesn’t rock

From four consecutive NBA Finals appearances to the NBA’s worst record (2-11, tied with Phoenix). Yeah, the Cavaliers miss LeBron James just a little. They also are down Kevin Love (toe surgery), leaving Jordan Clarkson (15.2) and Rodney Hood (12.9) as Cleveland’s top scorers. That’s not ideal. The Cavaliers are 27th in scoring (103.3) while giving up 113.1 points per game, which is better than Washington’s league-worst 118.5. Rookie point guard Collin Sexton, the No. 8 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, is filling in for the injured George Hill. Sexton is averaging 17.0 points over the last three games.

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With 2 TDs in 2 games, Josh Doctson headlines Redskins stock report

With 2 TDs in 2 games, Josh Doctson headlines Redskins stock report

After an important road win in Tampa, the Redskins stock is soaring. The team is 6-3 and two games up in the NFC East.

For individual players, Josh Doctson headlines the stock surge but a pair of defenders are moving the other way. Let's dig into the Redskins stock report.

Stock up - Josh Doctson - The third-year wide receiver has scored in two straight games and has caught seven of 10 balls thrown his way. The yardage numbers don't jump off the page, but all four catches in Tampa were important. Further, Doctson rebounded from a tough game against Atlanta where he dropped two passes and got flagged for a (wrong) taunting penalty. Most impressive with Doctson? The touchdown in Tampa came off schedule and showed that he kept working back to his QB once the play broke down. That will garner more trust from Alex Smith, and maybe more chances for big plays down the backstretch of the year.

Stock down - Danny Johnson - For an undrafted free agent out of Southern, Johnson has had a remarkable season. In Tampa, he did not have a remarkable game and got replaced on the field by Greg Stroman. Let Jay Gruden explain, "Danny had a good week of practice. He filled in for Stroman when Stroman had the hip issue last week and we thought we'd give Danny a shot to start. Danny was playing a little soft [coverage] there for a little while, so we decided to give Stroman a crack at it." Once Stroman got in, he grabbed an interception and had a nice pass breakup downfield. Johnson has a firm roster spot - the Redskins just released Josh Holsey - but looks like he fell behind Stroman on the depth chart. 

Stock up - Kapri Bibbs - With Chris Thompson on the shelf and a murky timetable for his return, Bibbs is getting more and more chances on the field. And increasingly, he's delivering when he gets looks. Against Tampa, he ran the ball three times for 28 yards and added two catches for 13 yards. He also had a huge gain just before halftime, the Redskins first big chunk play in weeks that Bibbs took after a screen pass, but it got called back on a holding flag. 

Stock down - Pernell McPhee - No player wants to be a healthy scratch, but that's just what happened to McPhee last week in Tampa. Jay Gruden explained: "Unfortunately I had to sit McPhee, not performance related, but just I had to get another body on the offensive line because we're banged up." It was mostly a work of roster construction that landed McPhee on the inactive list, but still, Cassanova McKinzy made the active roster after being on the practice squad. McKinzy showed some ability rushing the passer, and he can play special teams. This could be a situation worth monitoring. 

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