Nationals

Still a lot at stake between Oregon and USC

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Still a lot at stake between Oregon and USC

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Back at the start of the season, Oregon's game at USC was circled on lots of calendars.

It appeared at the time to be the marquee matchup of the Pac-12 season, as well as a possible preview of the league championship game, with the Trojans entering the season ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll and Oregon ranked fifth.

Adding to the anticipation was USC's 38-35 upset victory over the Ducks at Autzen Stadium last season.

Eight weeks later, the shine is off the game a bit. USC has lost two games, including a 39-36 loss at Arizona last weekend, and fallen to No. 18 in the AP rankings.

Undefeated Oregon has climbed to No. 2 and has taken aim at a second national championship berth in three seasons. The Ducks are leading the nation with an average of 53.38 points per game. Their vaunted offense is ranked third with an average of 331 yards rushing and seventh in total offense with 540 yards on average.

Oregon hasn't dropped a game since that loss to the Trojans last season, a string of 11 straight victories.

So it follows that the Ducks (8-0, 5-0 Pac-12) are favored to win Saturday night's game in Los Angeles.

But don't count out USC just yet, warned Colorado coach Jon Embree, who has seen both teams.

``With a team like that, you'd rather play them after a win than a loss,'' Embree said. ``They're going to come out fighting and with a different sense of purpose.''

Colorado is the most recent team to fall to the Ducks, losing 70-14 last weekend at Autzen Stadium. The Buffaloes, with just one win this season, really never stood a chance with Oregon leading 56-0 at the half and eventually piling up 617 yards in total offense.

Earlier in the season, the Buffaloes lost to the Trojans 50-6 in Los Angeles. USC quarterback Matt Barkley tied his school record by throwing for six touchdowns.

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian, whose Huskies have also faced both teams - and also lost to both in back-to-back weeks - wasn't willing to pick a winner.

``I think it will be a good game,'' Sarkisian said. ``I think they're different in their style and their approaches. But they're both good teams, both well-coached. It will be a fun game to watch.''

USC's loss to the Wildcats changed the tone of the season for the Trojans, who were picked in the preseason to win the conference championship and now sit at 6-2 overall and 4-2 in the conference.

The Trojans still lead the Pac-12 South after Arizona State's loss to UCLA at home, but they lost a chance to get some separation. They also lost any realistic hope of playing for the national title.

Still, USC did put up some impressive offensive numbers against Arizona, including Marqise Lee's Pac-12-record 345 yards receiving on 16 catches, along with two touchdowns. Lee was named the Pac-12 player of the week.

Barkley threw for a school-record 493 yards and three touchdowns as the Trojans rolled up 618 yards.

But the Trojans hurt themselves with 13 penalties for 117 yards. USC has been the most penalized team in the Football Bowl Subdivision, with 10.25 penalties for 84.63 yards per game.

In contrast, Oregon blanked Arizona 49-0 earlier this season.

``Both teams have great athletes on both sides of the ball, and certainly a lot of guys that are going to be playing on Sunday,'' Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. ``Oregon's philosophy is to try to go faster offensively, at a different tempo than USC goes, but I think it's going to be a great ball game.

``You've got a lot of veteran players that understand their systems and it seems that both teams are pretty healthy going into it. We didn't play well at all against Oregon, of course, but there were moments we didn't play well against USC.''

Even though the Trojans aren't living up to expectations, they're still playing for the Pac-12 South and a spot in the league championship game on Nov. 30 - where they could face Oregon again. And a USC upset for the second straight season could derail the Ducks - again - in a bid for a national title.

Oregon's players are aware of what's at stake.

``This game has been hyped all season and it's finally here. But we couldn't focus on them the whole year because then we wouldn't be where we are,'' Oregon safety Brian Jackson said. ``So now it's time to focus on them and they definitely have our attention.''

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A quick recap of Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game, including how your Nats did

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USA TODAY Sports

A quick recap of Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game, including how your Nats did

Tuesday evening's All-Star game was fairly uneventful until its later innings. The American League triumphed over the National League, 8 - 6, for their sixth straight All-Star game victory.

Despite fears of potential rain and inclement weather delaying the game, there were no unexpected stops in play. 

The AL started very strong offensively, with runs from Aaron Judge and Mike Trout in the top of the second and third innings, respectively. Jean Segura's three-run homer in the top of the eighth made victory look inevitable for the AL by the fifth. 

Max Scherzer, unsurprisingly, was well received among fans at Nationals Park. The Nats starter pitched the first two innings, giving up four hits. One was Judge's second-inning homer, but Scherzer remained unfazed and lighthearted. Four strikeouts made his performance commendable.

Bryce Harper did not get on as well, striking out in both of his at-bats. After Harper's Home Run Derby Win last night, there was chatter of him going for the MVP title as well. 

It didn't work out, but given Harper's consistent presence at the All-Star game, there's always another chance.

Elsewhere in the dugout for the NL, who rallied back from the three-run deficit, the kids were all right. Willson Contreras of the Cubs had a solo homer at the bottom of the third, the Rockies' Trevor Story had one in the seventh, and Christian Yelich added another in the eighth. A two-run homer by Scooter Gennett in the bottom of the ninth brought the game back to a 5-5 tie.

Jesus Aguilar struck out for the NL, and extra innings began.

In the top of the tenth, Alex Bregman and George Springer, both of the Astros, hit home runs almost immediately off of Dodgers pitcher Ross Stipling. Stop us if you've heard that one before.

With no outs, Michael Brantley took a sacrifice flyout to right field, and Jean Segura got in one more run to put the score at 8-5.

Though Joey Votto (Reds) hit one last home run in the bottom of the tenth, the NL couldn't quite make up the deficit.

After a late night, the American League will be going home happy.

MORE ALL-STAR GAME NEWS:

Elena Delle Donne, Kristi Toliver named 2018 WNBA All-Stars

Elena Delle Donne, Kristi Toliver named 2018 WNBA All-Stars

On Tuesday, the WNBA revealed the list of 22 players selected by fans, WNBA players and head coaches and media for Verizon WNBA All-Star 2018. 

Two Washington Mystics will be featured in the July 28 showcase at Target Center in Minneapolis.

Elena Delle Donne is making her fifth All-Star appearance and serving as one of two team captains, while Kristi Toliver earns the honor for her second time, and first since 2013. 

Delle Donne recorded her 3,000th career point Sunday night becoming the fastest player in WNBA history to reach the milestone with a 23-point performance in a loss to the Atlanta Dream. It was just the 148th game of her career. 

The 28-year-old is averaging 20.6 points, good for fourth in the league. 

Toliver is averaging 14 points and 4.2 assists. The former Maryland Terrapin is also just a week removed from making her debut as part of the Wizards coaching staff during Las Vegas Summer League. 

The Mystics are 13-9 and atop the eastern conference by 0.5 games. The last time the team had two all-stars was in 2015, when Stefanie Dolson and Emma Meesseman played together.

For ticket information about Verizon WNBA All-Star 2018, fans may visit lynx.wnba.com/allstar/.