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Tested Michigan to play South Carolina in Outback

Tested Michigan to play South Carolina in Outback

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Michigan will face a lot of talent - especially when it tries to block South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney - in the Outback Bowl.

The 19th-ranked Wolverines, though, have just about seen it all.

They're the only team since at least 1996 to go into the postseason after facing the top three teams in The Associated Press poll. They lost each game to No. 1 Notre Dame, No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State.

``I think it's always a benefit when you play good football teams whether you win or lose,'' Michigan coach Brady Hoke said Monday. ``You learn how you have to play. We have to do a better job of taking care of the football, have to run the ball better.''

Michigan (8-4) also lost to No. 23 Nebraska, leading Hoke to vote for his team No. 15 in the coaches' poll, which ranked the Wolverines 22nd on Sunday. Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez, who was replaced by Hoke, and Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly were the only other ones to vote for Michigan as high as Hoke did in the coaches' poll.

``I think we're a good team,'' Hoke said, explaining why he voted his team as high as he did. ``You look at the opponents that we played compared to other schedules that are out there. It would be easy to play a lesser schedule. But I think this has helped us grow as a program and a team.''

Michigan's banged-up quarterbacks should be helped by the long break between losing Nov. 24 to the rival Buckeyes and playing the Gamecocks on New Year's Day in Tampa, Fla.

Denard Robinson missed two-plus games with nerve damage in his right elbow and then was limited by the injury - that prevented him from throwing in a game - for the last two games of the regular season.

``I feel pretty good, to be honest with you,'' Robinson said. ``When we start practicing, I can have more say. I'm not throwing how I want to throw, but I'll get there.''

Devin Gardner replaced Robinson under center late in the season and had an ankle injury against Ohio State that was serious enough to place him in a walking boot.

Hoke insisted Gardner would be ready to practice with his teammates Friday and Saturday and said the time off the field will help every player on the roster.

``They go through that grind, it's good for all of them to heal up a little bit,'' Hoke said. ``To get them away from the pounding helps them all.''

When the Wolverines work on their inconsistent running game, they'll be without one player whose role was to help pave the way.

Junior fullback Stephen Hopkins has left the team and Hoke wouldn't - or couldn't - provide reasons for the decision.

``You'd have to ask him,'' Hoke said.

Hopkins certainly didn't lash out in a message posted to his Twitter account Monday afternoon: ``I love the University of Michigan and everything it means to be a Michigan Man. I look forward to getting my degree.''

Hopkins started in four of eight games this year and didn't get the ball once.

Rodriguez recruited Hopkins from Double Oak, Texas, to Michigan in 2010 and he had 151 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 37 carries as a freshman. Hopkins was handed the ball 11 times for 43 yards last season, in Hoke's first year, and caught one pass for 28 yards.

Robinson acknowledged being ``a little bit'' surprised that Hopkins is leaving the team.

``We support him,'' Robinson said. ``That's still a brother to me. I would never say anything bad about him.''

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Follow Larry Lage on Twitter:http://twitter.com/larrylage

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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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