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College Football Today

College Football Today

STARS

-Landry Jones, Oklahoma, threw for 500 yards and three TDs to lift the No. 14 Sooners to a 51-48 overtime win over No. 22 Oklahoma State in the Bedlam rivalry.

-AJ McCarron, Alabama, passed for four TDs to lead the second-ranked Crimson Tide to a 49-0 beatdown of rival Auburn in the most-lopsided Iron Bowl in 64 years.

-Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M, threw for 372 yards and three TDs and ran for two more scores as the No. 9 Aggies handled Missouri 59-29.

-Kenjon Barner, Oregon, ran for 198 yards and two TDs and the No. 5 Ducks Oregon beat No. 16 Oregon State 48-24 in the Civil War, keeping alive their hopes for a spot in the Pac-12 title game and even an outside chance at the national championship

-Stepfan Taylor, Stanford, rushed for 142 yards and two TDs, and the No. 11 Cardinal beat No. 15 UCLA 35-17 to win the Pacific-12 Conference North title and a rematch with the Bruins in the conference championship game.

-Robert Marve, Purdue, threw for 348 yards and four TDs in the Boilermakers' 56-35 victory over rival Indiana.

-Duke Johnson, Miami, rushed for 176 yards and three TDs and the Hurricanes held on to beat Duke 52-45 and claim a share of the ACC's Coastal Division title.

-Sean Renfree, Duke, threw for a career-high 432 yards and four TDs in the Blue Devils' 52-45 loss to Miami.

-Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State, rumbled for a career-high 266 yards and a fourth-quarter TD in a 26-10 victory over Minnesota.

-Bo Wallace, Mississippi, threw for 294 yards and five TDs in a 41-24 win over No. 25 Mississippi State.

-Derek Carr, Fresno State, passed for 452 yards and four TDs to help Bulldogs thrash Air Force 48-15 to capture a share of the Mountain West Conference championship.

-Adam Muema, San Diego State, rushed for a career-high 255 yards and four TDs in leading the Aztecs past Wyoming 42-28.

-James Lark, BYU, threw for 384 yards and six TDs in a 50-14 victory over New Mexico State.

-Tyler Bray, Tennessee, threw for 293 yards and four TDs to help the Vols beat Kentucky 37-17 and avoid going winless in the SEC for the first time.

-Bryn Renner, North Carolina, threw for 305 yards and tied a school record with five TD passes to help the Tar Heels beat Maryland 45-38.

-Dray Joseph, Southern, threw for five TDs in a 38-33 win over Grambling State.

-Zach Zenner, South Dakota State, ran for 295 yards and three TDs in a 58-10 win over Eastern Illinois in the first round of the FCS playoffs.

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IRISH PUNCH TICKET

The Fighting Irish punched their ticket to Miami.

Theo Riddick rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown, Kyle Brindza kicked five field goals, and No. 1 Notre Dame secured a spot in the BCS championship game with a 22-13 victory over Southern California.

Everett Golson passed for 217 yards as the Fighting Irish (12-0) completed their first perfect regular season since 1988, earning a trip to south Florida on Jan. 7 to play for the storied program's first national title in 24 years.

After spending more than a decade looking up at the Trojans, the Irish are back on top of this rivalry with two straight wins in Los Angeles. The school of Knute Rockne, the Four Horsemen and Paul Hornung has new heroes now, from inspirational linebacker Manti Te'o to coach Brian Kelly, who took the Irish from unranked to start the season to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time in 19 years.

Notre Dame will likely face the winner of Saturday's SEC championship game between No.2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia.

The Crimson Tide rolled to a 49-0 rout over Auburn and the Bulldogs crushed Georgia Tech 42-10 to set up a chance to face the Fighting Irish in Miami.

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BULLDOGS IN POSITION

The Georgia Bulldogs collected a trophy at midfield for another win over their state rival, then got some encouragement from the governor in their quest for a bigger reward.

No. 1.

Aaron Murray threw two touchdown passes, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall each ran for a pair of TDs, and third-ranked Georgia stayed right in the thick of the national championship race with a 42-10 rout of Georgia Tech.

Gov. Nathan Deal presented the ``Governor's Cup'' to the Bulldogs (11-1) after they beat the Yellow Jackets for the 11th time in 12 years. He congratulated both teams on a ``great game'' (a bit of a stretch, to say the least) before turning toward the jubilant Georgia players.

Georgia is two wins away.

The Bulldogs will face No. 2 Alabama for the Southeastern Conference championship in Atlanta next Saturday. The winner of that contest will likely advance to play in the BCS title game on Jan. 7.

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UNDFEATED BUCKEYES

The only thing Urban Meyer lost during his first season at Ohio State was his cool - at the end of the last game.

Carlos Hyde ran for 146 yards and the fourth-ranked Buckeyes' defense shut out No. 20 Michigan in the second half to grab a bruising 26-21 win on Saturday, completing an improbable 12-0 season for the Buckeyes.

Meyer got emotional as the final seconds ticked off, embracing his players on the sideline at a raucous Ohio Stadium. Too emotional, he said later.

Almost no one - up to and including Meyer - expected such a rapid turnaround for the Buckeyes, who were just 6-7 last season with a loss to their archrivals in a transitional year when they were facing heavy NCAA penalties. A month after Meyer took the job last November, they were socked with a bowl ban after this season - and still ran the table.

Ohio State is ineligible for a BCS national title but still has an outside shot at finishing No. 1 in the final Associated Press Top 25 if other contenders lose.

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NUMBERS

9-Bowl-eligible teams from the Big 12.

13-Sacks this season by South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney to set a school record.

57-Years since Vanderbilt's last six-game winning streak.

76-Years since No. 25 Utah State had won a conference title before securing the Western Athletic Conference after its first 10-win season.

91-Touchdowns accounted for by Michigan's Denard Robinson, breaking Chad Henne's school record.

105,899-Fans in Columbus to see Ohio State play Michigan, the largest crowd ever to witness The Game.

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BALL'S RECORD

Wisconsin running back Montee Ball set an NCAA record after scoring his 79th career touchdown on a 17-yard run in the first quarter against Penn State.

The score broke a tie in the record book with Travis Prentice of Miami (Ohio), who had previously set the major college mark in 1999.

Ball entered 72 career rushing scores, including 17 this season, to go with six receiving touchdowns.

Ball clutched the football tightly in his right arm while getting pats on the helmet from teammates after the touchdown run gave the Badgers a 14-7 lead at 6:27 of the first quarter.

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KILL'S SEIZURES

Minnesota coach Jerry Kill had another seizure, keeping him off sideline for the second half against Michigan State.

Kill's latest episode occurred in the locker room at halftime as the team was returning to the field, the third such game-day occurrence in his second season at the school. This time, he didn't need to be hospitalized, however.

Kill had a seizure near the end of a loss to New Mexico State last season and was away from the team for several days while doctors tried to bring his condition under better control, though he didn't miss any games. This year, he was sent to the hospital for observation after the Gophers were beaten by Northwestern on Oct. 13.

After Minnesota fell 26-10 to Michigan State, athletic director Norwood Teague said Kill was comfortable and all of his vital signs were fine. Kill was cleared to go home after resting for a few hours.

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Now that the Lakers got Anthony Davis, could the Knicks and others turn to Bradley Beal?

Now that the Lakers got Anthony Davis, could the Knicks and others turn to Bradley Beal?

With all but one of the brick-and-mortar movie stores closed down, there are really only two instances that you hear the word 'blockbuster' these days: when describing Marvel movies and for the type of trade we saw this weekend between the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers.

The Anthony Davis deal is a blockbuster trade in every sense. It is big in the number of pieces involved and because Davis is one of the best players on the planet.

It is important because it could immediately vault the Lakers into title contention. And it provides a new superteam for the league to revolve around and for people to loathe with the Golden State Warriors currently licking their wounds.

But it is also the type of deal that will have major consequences around the league, one that will affect far more than just the teams at the top. It will force a collection of other teams to redraw their blueprints.

The obvious ones are the Knicks and Celtics, the two teams most closely linked to Davis in trade rumors. Now, it is New York that has more urgency, if not desperation, to strike in free agency. Boston to regroup and will probably need to ponder other trades if they want to reassert themselves in the Eastern Conference.

The Davis trade would be a major deal no matter the year, but it is fascinating to evaluate in the context of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson's injuries. The league went from being very predictable to a wide open pasture of possibilities.

Now, the Warriors are good still but are also a beatable team. A window of NBA parity is cracking open and surely the Lakers won't be the only team to pounce.

Houston, Philadelphia and Oklahoma City are always aggressive and will clearly be thinking big. Portland and Denver could see this as the year to go all-in.

Not all teams looking to make a splash will have money to spend in free agency. That points to an aggressive trade market this summer, but there is arguably one big problem. After Davis, it doesn't seem likely many other stars will be available.

Teams seeking stars via trade have enjoyed plenty of options in recent years between Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, Paul George and Jimmy Butler. The formula is generally fairly simple: an All-Star player on an underachieving team with the end of his contract in sight. Recently, the supply has met the demand.

But currently, few fit that description. There are some like Mike Conley Jr. of the Grizzlies, and Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside of the Heat. But none of those players are All-Stars in their prime.

All of that makes it easy to connect the dots to the Wizards and Bradley Beal. They are in an interesting spot, needing to decide whether to retool for playoff contention or take the long view and undergo some degree of a rebuild.

Beal, as their best player, is the catalyst. There are logical reasons to keep him or to trade him. He is one of the best players in franchise history, is only 25 and he's on a team-friendly contract in the era of the supermax. But the Wizards are going to have a tough time improving their roster with John Wall's Achilles injury and contract, which starts at 35 percent of the salary cap. 

The Wizards have held a stance of not wanting to trade Beal and still do. They also likely wouldn't make such an important decision without a long-term team president in place.

But that won't stop teams from calling and there is already speculation around the league about whether Beal will be dealt. One front office executive told NBC Sports Washington that Beal could be the top prize in the trade market if made available now that Davis is gone. 

For a lot of these situations, trades are more likely when a player is entering his walk year. Beal is signed through the 2020-21 season and, even if he grows unhappy, will say the right things.

He won't create necessary drama. And, if you take him at his word in a February interview with NBC Sports Washington, he wouldn't request a trade himself.

Also, there is a reason to believe keeping Beal wouldn't hurt their ability to rebuild through the draft. With the new lottery system, bottoming out doesn't offer the guarantees that it used to. And even with Beal playing all 82 games last season, the Wizards still lost 50 of them and finished with the sixth-best odds.

Just like some have argued the Wizards have reasons to trade Beal, they also have reasons not to. But that won't stop other teams from picking up the phone.

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Nationals set to enter defining seven-game stretch

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USATSI

Nationals set to enter defining seven-game stretch

WASHINGTON -- Most baseball managers try to operate in monochromatic fashion. They see one goal each day, and it only rests in those 24 hours. Some -- like Davey Martinez -- claim they don’t look at the standings in June. His standard message is to “win today” then move to tomorrow.

Human nature often runs interference on compartmentalization. It even crept up on Martinez on Sunday morning when in the midst of an answer about Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner playing daily. 

“For me, this is a big week,” Martinez said. “We have a chance to make up some ground here. I want these guys readily available to play.”

He’s right. The claim of significance is valid for once in mid-June, not a concept drummed up by overzealous television promos or interminable Internet space. 

The Nationals have seven games in seven days against two teams near the top of the division. Damaged Philadelphia arrives Monday. The Phillies’ bullpen is hurting and ineffective. Bryce Harper could miss the All-Star Game for just the second time in his career. Philadelphia is 6-8 in June. Meanwhile, Atlanta is rolling along. Its lineup remains deep, the pitching functional and Dallas Keuchel set to make his debut here in D.C. next weekend. The Braves hold a 2 ½-game lead in the not-so-great National League East. 

“Not thinking too big picture,” Adam Eaton said. “But knowing we have an in-division rivalry, we’ve got to win those games. It’s important. We’re trying to chase at this point. Not to put too much emphasis on it, but we need to play some really competitive baseball. And we shouldn’t beat ourselves these next four games. Play good baseball and not beat ourselves. If we play the brand of baseball we know how to play, and play clean, we have a good chance.”

Washington is five games under .500. Days are clicking off the calendar. Departing along with them are opportunities to chop at an 8 1/2-game deficit in the division. Following this week, only seven games against Philadelphia remain. However, 13 with Atlanta remain on the schedule, including seven in 10 days in September. The question is if those will matter. Sink this week and they won’t. Pull off a deficit-halving six of seven and everything changes. 

This week’s ramifications will first be felt on the phone lines in a month. The non-waiver trade deadline arrives July 31. Drag back to a double-digit deficit this week and plunk down the “for sale” sign. Rocket through the week and perhaps reinforcements will be found.

Monday brings a dreaded series opener. The Nationals are 6-17 in the first games of series this season. No one knows why. It doesn’t make sense. But, here they are, incapable of winning a first game and constantly playing from behind.

Patrick Corbin will be on the mound attempting to counter the trend. He, like the team when a new opponent shows up, has been in arrears the last three games. Corbin’s ERA dipped to 2.85 following a 116-pitch shutout of Miami on May 25. He’s been bludgeoned since. His ERA is up to 4.11, he will start twice this week, and the Nationals need him to right his ills.

Friday, Corbin threw a bullpen session focused on his line to the plate. Pitching coach Paul Menhart describes what they are trying to accomplish to get Corbin back to the version he was earlier this season:

“His lines and his east-west motion have made it very difficult for him to get the ball to where he wants it to be,” Menhart said. “He needs to be more direct to the plate and have more of a north-south rotation with his upper body and being more stable lower-half wise will allow him to do that and have his deception and hide the ball better and keep that tunnel.”

Corbin agreed. He doesn’t watch much video to cure ruts. He also doesn’t want too much information. The team’s analytics trackers have informed him his arm slot remains in a good place. He thinks his body is still in a running at a high level, dismissing any correlation between his struggles and the workload against Miami. He’s also going through the most common element of reduced success: trying not to chew on it too much.

“I think when I’m away from the field, you think about it more,” Corbin told NBC Sports Washington. “You’re frustrated about it a little bit -- what the heck is going on? But when you get here, you just try to work, try to do things to get better. That’s how I approach it. I’m just looking forward to my next start on Monday going out there and trying to get back to how I know I can pitch.”

Philadelphia arrives after being thumped in Atlanta on Sunday, 15-1. Washington had the opposite day in a 15-5 win. Monday night starts a reckoning of sorts for both. The Nationals will send out their three high-end starters during the four games. Philadelphia is trying to right itself and not let the Braves get out of touch at the top of the division. So, even for the one-day-at-a-time crew, the coming seven carry significant weight, and they’re finally admitting it.

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