NCAA

FSU's Werner ready for Orange Bowl challenge

FSU's Werner ready for Orange Bowl challenge

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) Bjoern Werner is rare.

The Florida State star defensive end is a married college student, already going on three years of wedded bliss. He's a German-born All-American. He ended the regular season with 13 sacks, second-most in the nation.

To think his story started in Berlin, thanks to a long-lost friend named Mirko and some ``weird guys'' at his school who were tossing a football around.

``And I played Madden,'' he said, referring to the popular video game.

He might be in next year's version of Madden, at this rate. Werner and the Seminoles face Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl on Tuesday night, and it's widely believed that this will be his last college game. He knows whether or not he'll soon be declaring a year early for the NFL draft, saying Saturday that he and his wife have made their decision.

That is, unless the decision gets revisited.

``If her mind changes,'' Werner said, ``mine might change, too.''

Florida State's opponents for next season surely won't mind if Werner decides to head to the NFL soon after his rapid rise. His introduction to the game was basically flag football in his native country after he got too big to keep playing ``futbol.'' Werner decided to give this game a shot after seeing some schoolmates throwing a ball instead of kicking one.

He's lost touch with them all.

So they might not even know how they helped him begin a journey that seems pointed toward NFL riches.

``This is everything I could dream right now, all this hype and not just about me individually,'' Werner said. ``I'm so happy that we're in the Orange Bowl. This was my goal to be on the big stage; that's why I came to Florida State. I'm so happy that we are here. Hopefully we can leave this thing with a win.''

If they do - and the Seminoles are two-touchdown favorites - it would be Florida State's first 12-win season since 1999.

Werner is a huge reason for that success.

The Seminoles allow an average of 15.1 points, sixth-best in the nation. At 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, he has more sacks this season than he had in his first two years of college combined - and did so while facing a steady stream of double-teams that typically didn't do enough to slow him down.

``You have certain players that you can give them a certain amount of information, but they can only apply so much, so you have to be careful on who and what you give to certain players,'' said Florida State defensive coach D.J. Eliot, who is joining Kentucky's staff after the bowl. ``But Bjoern is one of those players that he can take in anything you give him. You know what I mean? And he can apply it in the game.

``So he never ceases to amaze me on how much he can improve, and he's done that his whole career.''

Which, frankly, didn't start all that long ago.

Werner started playing flag football in his native Berlin, then went to prep school in Salisbury, Conn., after realizing he had tons of natural skill. When colleges came recruiting, they took a look at his size and told him he'd be better suited at defensive tackle or offensive line or tight end. Werner didn't like any of those options.

Florida State coaches saw him play basketball, noted his athleticism and said he could play defensive end.

Smart move.

``It's fun catching the ball,'' Werner said. ``But you can't let loose like that.''

When he lets loose Tuesday, he'll likely have Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch in mind.

Lynch entered the weekend 38th nationally in yards passing this season and third nationally in yards rushing - his total of 1,771 in that department being 500 more than any other quarterback in the country.

Chances are, if they meet during the Orange Bowl, it'll be at high speed.

``The guy has a motor,'' Lynch said. ``That's the biggest thing that stands out. He never takes a play off. He's always going at it. Sometimes he'll get cut-blocked. He'll get right back up and make a tackle. It's pretty impressive. He'll run sideline to sideline and chase guys down. He's probably one of the most complete football players we'll play against.''

Werner said he would wait a few days after the Orange Bowl to announce his decision about next season, though it would count as a massive surprise - especially since the Seminoles will have a new defensive coordinator in 2013 - if he stuck around.

He has big plans to help the American version of football grow in Germany, eventually. He thought it was funny that his likeness adorned some buses that were decorated in Florida State colors and roaming the roads of South Florida in recent days to promote the bowl game. And even though some say he's a top-five draft pick, Werner would rather tell you about what he still has to work on than what his strengths are.

``I worked hard,'' Werner said. ``It paid off.''

College Football 2019 Week 4 What to Watch: State bragging rights

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College Football 2019 Week 4 What to Watch: State bragging rights

In terms of local action, Week 4 is a little bit of a down week. Maryland and Penn State are both on bye weeks before their big matchup on Sept. 27. Navy and Virginia Tech also have the week off as well. But fear not! There is still plenty of college football to watch without your beloved Terps, Lions, Midshipmen or Hokies. Virginia hosts in-state rival Old Dominion and there is some big-time college football down south.

Here is a breakdown of all the local action.

No. 21 Virginia vs. Old Dominion

When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, Va.
How to watch: ESPN2

The Cavaliers host Old Dominion in the first-ever meeting between these two programs. After narrowly escaping with a win over Florida State, Virginia remains perfect with a 3-0 record and already two conference wins. Because of that, the Cavaliers now sit ranked 21st in the nation, the highest the team has been ranked since 2007. Now the task before them is to not stumble or get caught looking ahead to next week's matchup at Notre Dame because the Monarchs love surprising the bigger in-state programs. Just ask Virginia Tech.

Game of the week: No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 7 Notre Dame

When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Ga.
How to watch: CBS

In 2018, Notre Dame was a playoff team. Georgia was not. Ask anyone in Athens, however, and they will tell you the Bulldogs were the better team and deserved to be in over the Irish. Whether they are right is debatable. Notre Dame entered the playoff undefeated but was embarrassed by Clemson in a 30-3 romp in the Cotton Bowl. That loss certainly looks less embarrassing than it did initially after the Tigers blew apart Alabama in the National Championship, but that does little to comfort Georgia fans.

Luckily, this year offers Georgia the chance for revenge as the Irish travel to Athens in one of the biggest games of the college football season

Georgia comes into this game with something to prove. Not only do they want to show who the better program is after last year's perceived snub, but they also want to reassert themselves as one of the top teams in the nation. With Alabama dealing with injuries and Clemson's schedule leaving much to be desired, there is room for the Bulldogs to insert themselves into the conversation for the top team in the nation.

Notre Dame, meanwhile, has a chance to topple our preconceived notions about the dominance of the SEC's top teams and to reassert themselves into the playoff race. Georgia is easily Notre Dame's toughest game. There is no reason the Irish can't go undefeated if they win on Saturday and a win over the Bulldogs in Georgia would be a pretty nice feather in the cap for any playoff resume.

On NBC Sports Washington

Wake Forest vs. Elon

When: 12 p.m.
Where: BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, N.C.
How to watch: NBC Sports Washington

North Carolina vs. Appalachian State

When: 3:30 p.m.
Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C.
How to watch: NBC Sports Washington

Other local teams

Morgan State at Army, 12 p.m. Saturday on CBSSN
Robert Morris at VMI, 1:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN+
Howard at Delaware State, 2 p.m. Saturday on ESPN3
Norfolk State at Montana State, 3 p.m. Saturday
James Madison at Chattanooga, 4 p.m. Saturday on ESPN+
William & Mary at East Carolina, 6 p.m. Saturday on ESPN3
Hampton at Liberty, 6 p.m. Saturday on ESPN+
Villanova at Towson, 6 p.m. Saturday

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Elena Delle Donne named 2019 WNBA MVP for the second time following historic season

Elena Delle Donne named 2019 WNBA MVP for the second time following historic season

Elena Delle Donne has done it again.

For the second time in her career, the Washington Mystics' star has been named the WNBA MVP, Monumental Sports announced Thursday.

Delle Donne is the first WNBA player to earn the prestigious award with two teams, her 2015 honor while with the Chicago Sky.

“I would like to thank my teammates and coaches and our wonderful fans--I have the greatest teammates in the world, our coaches have put us in a position to succeed by forming this awesome unit and the energy of our fans has given us the best home-court atmosphere in the league,” Delle Donne said in the statement.

“Everyone has had a part in this, especially my wife and family, and it took a lot of hard work and focus from all of us together to get to this point.  I am extremely proud of this honor, but we still have work ahead of us and we’re all focused playing our hardest to bring a championship to Washington.”

During her 2019 season with the Mystics, Delle Donne averaged 19.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists, securing her spot on the All-Star team for the sixth time. Her most unbelievable feat, however, was becoming the first WNBA player to join the prestigious 50/40/90 club.

Delle Donne earned 51.5 percent from the field, 43.03 percent from beyond the arc and an incredible 97.4 percent from the free-throw line.

Steve Nash, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Larry Bird, Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Mark Nowitzki and Malcolm Brogdon are the only players in the history of the NBA to accomplish that feat.

The Mystics look for another win Thursday night en route to a Championship against the Las Vegas Aces for Game 2 of the WNBA Semifinals at 8:30 p.m.

You can watch the game on ESPN 2.

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