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Sooners, Longhorns trying to stay in Big 12 race

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Sooners, Longhorns trying to stay in Big 12 race

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) It's a college football experience unlike any other.

It starts with a bus ride into the State Fair of Texas, with fans thumping on the sides and cheering or directing insults and unfriendly gestures toward the riders. Then there's the walk down the Cotton Bowl field, the chance to stare down your bitter rival face to face before the game begins.

And no matter what's on the line beyond the Golden Hat trophy at the annual Red River Rivalry, it's always something special - even if the stakes are a little lower than usual.

No. 13 Oklahoma (3-1, 1-1 Big 12) and No. 15 Texas (4-1, 1-1) will arrive in Dallas on Saturday playing catch-up in the conference standings for a change. Instead of a showdown to get in the driver's seat in the Big 12, the rivalry is a crucial win both teams need to keep up with No. 5 West Virginia and No. 6 Kansas State.

For the first time since 2007, and the second time since 1997, both teams already have a conference loss behind their names.

``It doesn't have any different feel,'' Sooners coach Bob Stoops said Monday. ``Not in my eyes.''

It'll be the 14th straight time Stoops has gone up against Texas' Mack Brown, with the two teams combining to win nine of the last 13 conference titles. The loser this time could end up two games back in the league standings.

So, could this be an early October elimination game?

``I wouldn't ever say that,'' Sooners cornerback Aaron Colvin said. ``We don't want to get too high. We don't want to get too low.

``You never know what's going to happen in the Big 12 or in college football, period. We're definitely going to try to go out there and get this win, try and give it our all but we don't really think of the negatives yet.''

The potential is certainly there, though. Oklahoma lost on its home field last month against Kansas State, and Texas was beaten at home just last week by West Virginia. Don't forget that the Sooners must travel to face the Mountaineers, and the Longhorns finish the regular season at K-State.

``We can't afford to take any more losses and we can't afford to take any steps backward. We're trying to move forward in everything that we do,'' Oklahoma defensive end R.J. Washington said.

``But it's Texas. It's going to be high-energy. There's going to be an unruly crowd. Things aren't going to go your way, but you've just got to keep pushing. I think the first couple games we've had have helped us get through that. We've gone through some adversity. We've battled back from that.''

The Sooners are coming off of a 41-20 win at previously unbeaten Texas Tech, ending a three-game losing streak in Lubbock. Before that, they had off weeks bracketing the 24-19 loss to Kansas State, and Stoops thought all the down time stunted the team's development.

``Now, hopefully we can get in a rhythm. ... You really make your improvement, I think, when you're on the field playing in game situations, and hopefully we can take some strides and keep improving,'' Stoops said.

The only setback Monday was the news that backup offensive lineman Nila Kasitati was lost for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.

The Sooners have won the last two games in the series, including a 55-17 decision last season, after losing four of the previous five. After a weekend when three of the nation's top five teams lost, they're still harboring the grandest of hopes.

``We're trying to get to the national championship,'' Colvin said. ``We're trying to win big games. We definitely want to beat those guys just because it's such a big rivalry, but at the end of the day, we need this win for us.''

``You really never know with college football. ... We've still got a chance,'' he added. ``You never know what'll happen. If odds work out in our favor, then we'll be blessed to have that situation and we'll definitely go out there and play hard.''

For now, though, it's all about beating the Longhorns. Any chances at the Big 12 and national championships depend on it.

``It's anybody's game right now,'' Washington said. ``It could come down to the wire, so every game is as important as every other game. This just happens to be a rivalry game. There's always a little added incentive for that.''

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Caps announce preseason schedule to kick off a busy week

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USA TODAY Sports

Caps announce preseason schedule to kick off a busy week

The Stanley Cup champion Caps will open their seven-game exhibition schedule on Sept. 16 season against the Bruins at TD Garden, the team announced.  

Washington will face Boston, Carolina and St. Louis twice apiece—once on the road, once at home—and the 

Canadiens one time. The game against the Habs will be played at Videotron Arena in Quebec City.

NBC Sports Washington’s preseason broadcast schedule will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the preseason entire slate:

Date                    Opponent           Location                      Time
Sun., Sept. 16      at Boston          TD Garden                  1 p.m.
Tues., Sept. 18    vs. Boston         Capital One Arena     7 p.m.
Thurs., Sept. 20  at Montreal      Quebec City, Que.      7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 21        at Carolina        PNC Arena                  7:30 p.m.
Tues., Sept. 25    at St. Louis        Enterprise Center      7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 28        vs. Carolina       Capital One Arena    7 p.m.
Sun., Sept. 30      vs. St. Louis      Capital One Arena     3 p.m.

Monday's announcement kicked off a busy week for the Caps.

On Wednesday, Alex Ovechkin will pick up his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Nicklas Backstrom will also be on hand for media interviews; key members of the Cup-winning team are typically in attendance.

On Friday and Saturday in Dallas, Washington will make selections in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th rounds of the 2018 Entry Draft at American Airlines Center. (Their fifth-round pick was dealt to Minnesota in the Tyler Graovac deal.)

Next Monday, many of the organization’s prospects, including this year’s picks, will report to Kettler Capitals Iceplex for the start of development camp. The schedule and roster will be announced this week.

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Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams drop slightly but still near top in MLB All-Star Game votes

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Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams drop slightly but still near top in MLB All-Star Game votes

The MLB All-Star Game is at Nationals Park and is now less than a month away, so let's check in on how D.C.'s top players and fan favorites are doing in the voting. 

After the first National League All-Star Game ballot update last week, Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams were the three Nationals among the top players receiving votes. And while that's still the case, they've all dropped one position since last week. Perhaps because of the Nats' recent slump?

Opening as the No. 1 outfielder, Harper is now No. 2 in the voting with 1,002,696 tallies, behind Atlanta Braves right fielder Nick Markakis with 1,173,653 votes. They are, however, the only two outfielders with more than a million votes and 2-of-5 overall in the voting. 

Adams — who was 14th among outfielders last week — slid one spot to No. 15 with 237,165 votes.

Last week, Turner was the No. 4 shortstop on the ballot, but he has since dropped to No. 4 with 279,071 votes. He's behind San Francisco Giants' Brandon Crawford, Braves' Dansby Swanson, Chicago Cubs' Addison Russell and Colorado Rockies' Trevor Story — who was the one to jump Turner this time around. 

If you're a Nats fan who doesn't like these results, don't worry. You can keep voting until July 5 at 11:59 p.m. ET and you can vote up to five times every 24 hours. Read more about how to vote for your favorite players in the MLB All-Star Game HERE

The 2018 NL-AL matchup is in Washington, D.C. on July 17.

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