Nationals

Iowa State looking for 1 more win for a bowl bid

Iowa State looking for 1 more win for a bowl bid

AMES, Iowa (AP) Iowa State recently unveiled a shiny new $20 million football complex that should help the program compete with their much wealthier neighbors in the Big 12.

The first order of business is to earn a reason to keep it humming in December.

The Cyclones (5-4, 2-4 Big 12) remain one win shy of bowl eligibility after falling to Oklahoma on Saturday for the 70th time in 77 tries. For a program that has reached a bowl games just 11 times, a third bowl bid in four years would represent major progress.

Iowa State travels to face No. 19 Texas (7-2, 4-2) on Saturday seeking its second straight win in Austin and that all-important sixth win of 2012.

``I don't believe that that's everyone's goal or priority is `OK, we've just got to get that sixth win. I think it's `OK, we've got to go out and focus on beating Texas this week,''' sophomore linebacker Jevohn Miller said.

The Cyclones could also use the extra practices allowed for bowl-bound teams since they'll be losing a number of seniors in key spots.

Iowa State is already looking to the future at linebacker, though not by choice.

Star senior Jake Knott's career at Iowa State is almost certainly over because of a torn shoulder. The Cyclones moved junior Jeremiah George into a more prominent role to compensate for Knott's absence, and Miller will also see more playing time in the final three weeks.

George led all players with 17 total tackles, 13 of them unassisted and one for a loss, in a 35-20 loss to the Sooners.

George's progression is a positive sign for the Cyclones, who will also lose senior outside linebacker and 2011 Big 12 co-defensive player of the year A.J. Klein after this season.

But Iowa State still struggled at times to compensate for the loss of Knott against the Sooners. That figures to be a key challenge over the season's final three weeks.

``Jeremiah graded out well productivity-wise. Not as good with his execution, being where he was supposed to be all of the time,'' Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. ``If you look at the two (linebacker) positions...we were less productive than we've been other games this season.

The Cyclones also know they'll need to run the ball better if they want to have the strong finish they're hoping for.

Against the Sooners, Iowa State showed glimpses of a consistent running attack.

The Cyclones averaged over four yards a carry, gaining 99 yards on 24 carries. That isn't much, but Iowa State has struggled to establish a ground game opponents have to respect despite a trio of talented junior running backs led by Shontrelle Johnson.

The Longhorns are just 107th nationally in rushing defense, and the Cyclones hoping to build off a decent showing against the Sooners.

``We finally made some people miss. And whether it's been our running backs or our quarterbacks or our wide receivers, we haven't made a lot of people miss this season,'' Rhoads said. ``Explosive teams, a key component of that is making people miss - and we did a little bit of that.''

Though facing Oklahoma and Texas in back-to-back weeks isn't as tough as it used to be for the Cyclones, it still isn't easy.

But Iowa State believes that it has progressed to the point where it can hang with anyone in the league, at least physically.

That wasn't always the case. But that shift is a big reason why the Cyclones need just one win to grab a bowl bid out of one of the nation's deepest leagues.

``We pride ourselves on being physical, and you can ask people on those teams and they will say that we're a very physical team,'' center Tom Farniok said. `We might not have the God-given ability that some of their players have, but we'll square up toe to toe with anyone physically.''

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Juan Soto isn't a HR hitter, the Mets broadcast said. Then he immediately went upper deck

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Juan Soto isn't a HR hitter, the Mets broadcast said. Then he immediately went upper deck

Juan Soto did something Tuesday night at Citi Field that made the whole broadcaster's jinx theory come to life. 

During Soto's 2nd inning at-bat, former MLB first baseman, five-time All-Star, 1979 co-NL MVP, two-time World Series champion, and current Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez went out on a limb to describe the 20-year-old phenom. 

He is not a home run hitter even though he had nice power here last year.

So, in a rather timely fashion, the lefty launched a moonshot, 410-foot solo home run to right field for Washington's first run of the game. 

In fairness, Hernandez was just trying to explain that Soto isn't a home run hitter because of the type of swing he demonstrates, one that typically produces more line drives than long-balls. 

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Beats by Scherz: Why Scherzer chose Dr. Dre song as his walk-up music

Beats by Scherz: Why Scherzer chose Dr. Dre song as his walk-up music

NEW YORK – A few constants remain during this wayward Nationals season. One is Max Scherzer.

Scherzer comes into Tuesday leading the National League in innings pitched and strikeouts. He's second in strikeouts per nine innings and third in strikeout-to-walk ratio. Scherzer's 3.72 ERA is well above his average of 2.71 since arriving in Washington in 2015. However, his FIP (fielding-independent pitching) is a league-leading 2.45, showing he has been victimized by bad defense more than bad pitching.

He hopped on a pop-up edition of The Racing Presidents podcast Tuesday in New York. Sitting in the visitors dugout a day ahead of another matchup with 2018 Cy Young Award Jacob deGrom, Scherzer touched on lighter topics, like his selection of Dr. Dre's "Still Dre" as his walkup song, and addressed who is responsible for the Nationals being seven games under .500 the last year-plus.

We're all responsible," Scherzer said. "When you wear a hat and jersey that says Nationals on it, we're all in the same position. It's frustrating to not have a winning record. It's frustrating not to be winning as a team. [Since] I've been here, we've won a couple division titles and you know that feeling of what it's like to win. You know you have the core group of players who have won here in the past that can win here again. It's just a matter of figuring out what the right chemistry is and going out there and getting it done."

Scherzer is in his 12th major-league season. He's made at least 30 starts for 10 consecutive seasons. One of the reasons for his lack of injuries and durability is not because he goes through extensive recuperation during the offseason. Instead, Scherzer keeps pushing both his arm and body. 

"I try to find a way to continue to do more, to take more on my body even as I age," Scherzer said.

And, about that walkup song, which is part-protest, part-comeback song? He was out to dinner with reliever Aaron Barrett when it popped on and Barrett suggested it as this year's entrance music.

So, click below to listen to everything Scherzer had to say in our exclusive interview. Also, don't forget to download, rate and subscribe to The Racing Presidents podcast. We're with you after every game and with marquee interviews and insight you can't find elsewhere.

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