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Fighting Irish and Trojans: The best of a rivalry

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Fighting Irish and Trojans: The best of a rivalry

The story goes that college football's greatest intersectional rivalry began when Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne's wife convinced her husband to play USC regularly starting in 1926. From 1928-32 the winner of the game won national championships and between 1962 and 1977 each won three national titles (with USC also winning a split title in the coaches poll in 1974).

Top-ranked Notre Dame comes into Saturday's game in Los Angeles leading the series 43-35-5, but the Irish have only beaten Southern California once since 2001.

Here are some of the memorable games:

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1926

First Game: Notre Dame backup quarterback Art Parisien threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to John Niemiec with 2 minutes to go to give the Irish a 13-12 victory in the inaugural game. The game was the first regular-season West Coast trip for the Irish two seasons after playing in the Rose Bowl.

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1927

Big Crowd: An estimated 120,000 fans, including 99,573 paying customers, crowded into Soldier Field in Chicago to see the Trojans face the Irish. Ray Dahman caught a touchdown pass and kicked the extra point and the Irish won 7-6 after a controversial call when an official ruled an apparent safety for USC was an incomplete pass.

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1931

Fourth Quarter Rally: USC scores all its points in the final quarter, capped by a 33-yard field goal by Johnny Baker with 1 minute left, as the Trojans won 16-14 for their first victory in South Bend. The loss ended a 27-game winning streak by the Irish and was the first loss at Notre Dame Stadium, which opened a season earlier, and just the second home loss for the Irish since 1905. USC won its second national championship.

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1938

Failed Fake: The game was a scoreless tie late in the first half when top-ranked Notre Dame (8-0) attempted a fake punt on fourth and 22 in its own territory and failed. That set up a 36-yard touchdown pass from Ollie Day to Al Krueger with 5 seconds left in the half, giving the eighth-ranked Trojans a 6-0 lead en route to a 13-0 win before 97,146 fans. The Trojans were the only team to score more than a touchdown against the Irish all season.

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1947

Battle of Unbeatens: Top-ranked Notre Dame (8-0) faced No. 3 USC (7-0-1). Emil Sitko broke the game open with a 76-yard touchdown run and Bob Livingstone added a 92-yard score as the Irish clinched the national championship with a 38-7 victory.

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1948

The Tie: Bill Martin scored on a 4-yard run with 2:30 left to give USC a 14-7 lead against the second-ranked Irish, who had won 21 straight but had turned the ball over seven times against the Trojans. Notre Dame's Bill Gay returned the kickoff 87 yards to the USC 12 to set up a 1-yard run by Emil Sitko that tied the game at 14 with 35 seconds left. At the time, there was no two-point conversion.

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1964

The Upset: The top-ranked Irish (9-0) were upset by Southern California (6-3) when Craig Fertig completed a 15-yard TD pass to Rod Sherman with 1:33 left as the Trojans rallied from a 17-0 halftime deficit to win 20-17. The Irish finished the season ranked No. 3 in posting their first winning season since 1958.

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1966

Parseghian's Payback: Two years after being upset by USC, Notre Dame returned to Los Angeles ranked No. 1 with an 8-0-1 record a week after its famous 10-10 tie with Michigan State. The Irish beat the Trojans 51-0 and won the national championship.

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1972

Six Touchdowns: Anthony Davis scored six touchdowns, two of them on kickoff returns, and broke five school records as the Trojans beat Notre Dame 45-23.

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1973

Streak Ends: Eric Penick scored on an 85-yard run, Bob Thomas kicked three field goals and the Irish defense held Anthony Davis to 55 yards rushing to win 23-14 and end USC's winning streak at 23 games. The Irish went on to win the national championship.

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1974

The Comeback: Notre Dame opened a 24-0 lead and held a 24-6 lead at halftime. But Anthony Davis scored on the second-half kickoff to ignite a 35-point third quarter and USC won 55-24, scoring all its points in 17 minutes. USC finished the year ranked No. 2 by The Associated Press, but the coaches awarded them the national championship.

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1977

Green Jersey Game: The 11th-ranked Irish, led by quarterback Joe Montana, warmed up in their regular blue jerseys, but came out for the game wearing green jerseys for the first time since 1963 and the Irish cruised to a 49-19 victory over the fifth-ranked Trojans. Irish basketball coach Digger Phelps suggested wearing the green to coach Dan Devine to inspire the Irish. Notre Dame won the national championship.

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1986

Commercial Break: Notre Dame quarterback Steve Beuerlein threw four touchdown passes and a pair of two-point conversions for the Irish, who rallied from a 17-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to win 38-37. The Irish won on a 19-yard field goal by John Carney as time expired. The national-television audience missed seeing the game-winning kick live because CBS went to a commercial.

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1988

No. 1 vs. No. 2: The only time in the series the two teams met ranked No. 1 vs. No. 2. Tony Rice scored on a 65-yard TD run, tailback Mark Green scored twice on short runs and USC turned the ball over four times as top-ranked Notre Dame beat second-ranked USC 27-10. The Irish were without leading rusher Tony Brooks and top receiver Ricky Watters, who were suspended and sent home after being 40 minutes late for Friday night's team meal. The Irish won the national championship.

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1996

Overtime: USC's Brad Otton threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Rodney Sermons in overtime to give USC a 27-20 victory, allowing the Trojans to avoid their third losing season in 35 years. The loss cost Notre Dame a berth in a major bowl and ended Lou Holtz's tenure as Notre Dame coach with a 100-30-2 record.

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2005

Bush Push: Notre Dame came up just short of stopping USC's winning streak at 28 games. Reggie Bush pushed Matt Leinart to help him score the winning touchdown with 3 seconds left, giving the Trojans a 34-31 victory.

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These hidden factors could make Brandon Scherff less interested in an extension with the Redskins

These hidden factors could make Brandon Scherff less interested in an extension with the Redskins

In Brandon Scherff, the Redskins have a 27-year-old guard who has delivered on his first-round status, a lineman who has become one of the best in the league at his position and should have many more years of production and defender-mauling left.

Therefore, it's in the Redskins' best interest to extend Scherff this offseason, and the veteran confirmed on Monday there have been talks about getting that done

But during a discussion on the Redskins Talk podcast, J.I. Halsell, a salary cap expert and former agent, laid out something that could force those negotiations to stall.

"There are some things you have to take into consideration because 2020 is the final year of the collective bargaining agreement, so there are some things you have to work around when structuring the deal," Halsell said.

Not only is that deadline approaching, but another one is, too. In 2021 and 2022, the NFL's TV deals with Monday Night Football, FOX, CBS and NBC expire as well.

So, there's a very real possibility the league's salary cap could look much, much different in a few seasons. And that, according to Halsell, may make Scherff much less willing to accept an extension now.

"If you're Brandon Scherff, in 2021, with a new collective bargaining agreement, the salary cap might be $250 million or something crazy like that, with all the new revenue coming into the league," he explained. "And so why would I take a deal today and preclude myself of taking advantage of a very lucrative and larger revenue pie?"

Essentially, it comes down to whether Scherff wants to take a present risk that could pay off down the line (kind of like how Kirk Cousins did a few years back with the Burgundy and Gold). He could probably lock something in over the next few months — Halsell's projection was an agreement for five years, including $45 million guaranteed and a $14.5 million average per year — or step away from talks now and try to cash in later.

Haslell told Redskins Talk he'd probably advise the lineman to take the second route.

"You would say, 'Look, you're a former first-round pick. You've made a decent amount of money in your career thus far,'" he said. "You have the financial wherewithal to not take the bird in hand today that may not be as lucrative as what is out there in 2021. So, bet on yourself and play out the last year of your rookie deal, force them to tag you in 2020 and then see what this new NFL salary cap world looks like in 2021."

Now, who knows truly how much these factors will play into Scherff's back-and-forth with the 'Skins. Nevertheless, you can see why the Pro Bowler's next contract may not be as much of a no-brainer as previously thought.

"If the kid is willing to bet on himself," Haslell said, "then it could be very lucrative on the back end."

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Seven reasons you need to root for the Blues in the Stanley Cup Final

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Seven reasons you need to root for the Blues in the Stanley Cup Final

The St. Louis Blues defeated the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night to advance to the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final. The champions of the Western Conference will take on the Boston Bruins, the champions of the Eastern Conference, having swept the Carolina Hurricanes in four games.

With the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins squaring off in a rematch of the 1970 Stanley Cup Final, we've dug up the seven reasons why Capitals fans, and -- well -- all NHL fans should be rooting for the Blues to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup.

1: The Blues are like the Capitals of the West

A lot of fans think that the San Jose Sharks hold that title, but the Blues present an even stronger case.

The Blues Stanley Cup drought is currently at 51 seasons. And although they made the Stanley Cup Final three consecutive seasons from 1968-1970, they have yet to win a game in the Stanley Cup Final.

That should sound familiar to Caps fans. Before they won it all in 2018, Washington's Cup drought was 42 years, and when they made the Cup Final in 1998 they were swept by the dominant Detroit Red Wings.

The similarities don't stop there. Each team has a Russian sniper, a crop of promising rookies on offense and defense, and acquired depth pieces in free agency to build a consistent contender.

In the Blues case before this season, they couldn't make it past the Conference Finals, similar to how the Caps couldn't make it out of the second round.

Call it coincidence or fate, but the Blues are looking eerily similar to the Caps that won the Stanley Cup last year.

2: No More Boston Championships

The New England Patriots just won the Super Bowl. The Red Sox just won another World Series. The city of Boston has celebrated six major professional championships since 2010 and 12 since 2000, with each parade more frustrating to watch than the last.

Does Boston really need another championship after a drought since February?

3: Brad Marchand is the worst

A lot of people will complain about Tom Wilson's play. But Brad Marchand is the king of the subtle and overtly dirty play, especially in the playoffs where the rules relax.

In last year's playoffs, Marchand was told by the league to stop licking players after he brushed his tongue across Leo Komarov's face.

This postseason, he's punched players in the back of the head after a play's been blown dead.

He also baited Justin Williams into penalty minutes when he high-sticked him across the face. No penalty was given to Marchand on the play.

Marchand's put up 18 points through three rounds in addition to his antics.

4: TJ Oshie's old stomping grounds

The Caps acquired Oshie from the Blues in 2015 in exchange for Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley and Washington's third-round pick in 2016, and he's now a mainstay in the Caps top six. 

Oshie played over 400 games for the Blues, recording over 300 points for the organization that drafted him. Not only did he put up stellar numbers, but he was an alternate captain for the Blues and was beloved by fans in the area.

Who better to root for than for Oshbabe's old team?

5: Vladimir Tarasenko is tearing it up

If you've got Alex Ovechkin's endorsement as a game-changer, that's a good place to start.

Ovechkin took note of Tarasenko's skill in a 2014 game the Blues played against the Rangers and told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch "He just make great jump in his career and he’s carrying the team right now.”

In these playoffs, the Russian sniper has eight goals and five assists, including points in every game of the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks.


6: Pam and Jim are facing off in an Office matchup

Actor John Krasinski, who played Jim Halpert in The Office,  is a Bruins fan. 

Jenna Fischer, who played Pam Beesly, Jim's love interest, is a Blues fan.

We have a house divided.

We tend to lean to Team Pam because if you take a closer look, Jim was a pretty awful colleague and despite his charm and boyish looks, he was kinda a bad person.

7: Washington helped St. Louis ascend the standings

On Jan. 2 the Blues were last in the league and posted a 15-18-4 record with 34 points.

But their fortunes started to turn on Jan. 3, when they faced the Caps at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. They beat the Caps 5-2, and turned their season around from that game going forward, including an 11 game winning streak.

So really, St. Louis has Washington to thank for transforming their season from one marred by losses to one where they made the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1970.

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