Nationals

Tulsa caps big year with 31-17 Liberty Bowl win

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Tulsa caps big year with 31-17 Liberty Bowl win

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship wouldn't say whether this was the best season in school history. He just let the numbers speak for themselves.

``History will decide all that,'' Blankenship said Monday after Tulsa capped its second 11-win season in school history with a 38-17 Liberty Bowl victory over Iowa State. ``What I meant is that they've accomplished some things that nobody has done. That's what I want to give them credit for.''

Tulsa also went 11-3 in 2008, but that team lost to East Carolina in the Conference USA championship game. This Tulsa team matched a school record in victories while also capturing the Conference USA title and winning the Liberty Bowl.

Iowa State culminated its history-making year culminated by avenging its season-opening loss to the Cyclones.

``That's a huge deal for us,'' Blankenship said. ``We've had a team that won 11 before, so we tied that. We had a team that won the Liberty Bowl before and won Conference USA. We've done that. But we did it all in the same year (this season).''

Iowa State (6-7) defeated Tulsa 38-23 on Sept. 1 by coming back from a 16-7 deficit, but it was Tulsa that rallied in the rematch. Tulsa trailed 17-7 at the end of the first quarter before scoring the game's final 24 points.

Tulsa won by capitalizing on the versatile rushing attack that carried the team all season.

Trey Watts, the game's most valuable player, rushed for 149 yards. Alex Singleton had three short touchdown runs to give him a season total of 24. Ja'Terian Douglas rushed for 79 yards on eight carries.

``We never wavered, not for a second,'' Watts said.

Both Tulsa and Iowa State had changed since their last meeting.

Iowa State's Steele Jantz, who threw two touchdown passes and ran for a third score against Tulsa on Sept. 1, lost his starting job to redshirt freshman Sam Richardson. The Cyclones' leading rusher (Shontrelle Johnson) and top tackler (Jake Knott) from the Sept. 1 game sat out the Liberty Bowl with injuries.

Tulsa linebacker Shawn Jackson was serving a three-game suspension during the last meeting with Iowa State. Jackson sacked Richardson on consecutive plays late in the first quarter Monday and forced a fumble in the game's closing minutes.

``I felt like I left my guys down (in September),'' Jackson said. ``I wanted to give the defense a little spark.''

After going 6 of 7 with 114 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter, Richardson was 4 of 14 for 15 yards with an interception the rest of the way while battling flu-like symptoms. Jantz replaced Richardson early in the fourth quarter.

``You can't ask much more from a young player like Sam,'' said Iowa State linebacker A.J. Klein, who tied a Liberty Bowl record with 19 tackles. ``He's going to have a great career the rest of his time here at Iowa State. That's the type of people we want to build this program around, people that will give it up, no matter what condition they're in.''

Iowa State delighted a partisan crowd by taking the 17-7 lead on Edwin Arceo's 33-yard field goal, Jeremy Reeves' 31-yard interception return and Ernst Brun's 69-yard reception. Tulsa has the smallest enrollment of any Football Bowl Subdivision program, and about 80 percent of the 53,687 fans were dressed in Iowa State cardinal-and-gold.

But after moving the ball at will in the opening period, Iowa State's offense did virtually nothing right the rest of the day.

``Games are often won and lost at the line of scrimmage, and we did not play a physical enough brand of football to move the sticks enough and stay on the field enough to get it in the red zone, let alone get it in the end zone,'' Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said.

Tulsa took the lead for good with a pair of touchdown runs - 8 yards by quarterback Cody Green and 2 yards Singleton - in the first four minutes of the second quarter.

The Golden Hurricanes' comeback followed a familiar pattern. Tulsa headed into the bowl game ranked third in the nation in sacks (48) and 11th in rushing (240.2).

``These guys are a very tough-minded, physical and resilient team,'' Blankenship said. ``I couldn't be prouder.''

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Wild-card tracker: Nationals thankful for Marlins, Cubs slide back

Wild-card tracker: Nationals thankful for Marlins, Cubs slide back

Back before all this mania, Miami, as putrid as its season would be, loomed as a factor.

Handling the Marlins would be key for any contender. It wasn’t a question of winning, but of how much winning would occur against one of the league’s worst teams.

Following Friday’s 6-4 win in a sparsely attended Marlins Park, the Nationals moved to 14-3 against Miami this season. They are 16 games over. 500 for the year. They are plus-11 against Miami alone.

Asdrúbal Cabrera homered again, Trea Turner hit two homers, and Daniel Hudson pitched two innings to earn the save. So, the Nationals, 84-68, hold a one-game lead for the top wild-card spot. Milwaukee won again, joining a long list of teams to beat up on the Pittsburgh Pirates since the post-All-Star-break portion of the schedule began. Pittsburgh may be the league’s worst team, at the moment, and the Brewers host it for two more this weekend.

Trouble is brewing for Chicago. It lost again to St. Louis -- this time a 2-1 mid-day defeat in Wrigley Field. The Cubs have lost four in a row. They are three games behind the Nationals and two behind the Brewers. Their path to 90 wins, which may ultimately be the threshold for postseason entrance, is narrowing.

The Mets won their third consecutive game. They are hanging around, 3 ½ games behind the Brewers with nine remaining on the schedule. Their wild-card elimination number is six.

News for Philadelphia is more dire. The Phillies dropped to 78-74 Friday night following a 5-2 loss in Cleveland. They are now five behind Milwaukee. Their wild-card elimination number is a mere five. 

Which brings us to the more detailed math portion of this program. Here are the postseason chances for each team, according to fivethirtyeight.com:

Nationals, 96 percent

Brewers, 84 percent

Cubs, 15 percent

Mets, 5 percent

Phillies, less than one percent

Coming up Saturday:

St. Louis at Chicago, 2:20 p.m., Hudson (16-7, 3.35 ERA) vs. Quintana (13-8, 4.37)

New York at Cincinnati, 4:10 p.m., Wheeler (11-7, 4.09) vs. DeSclafani (9-9, 3.93)

Washington at Miami, 6:10 p.m., Strasburg (17-6, 3.49) vs. Yamamoto (4-5, 4.87)

Philadelphia at Cleveland, 7:10 p.m., Vargas (6-8, 4.48) vs. Plesac (8-6, 3.64)

Pittsburgh at Milwaukee, 7:10 p.m., Marvel (0-2, 9.00) vs. Davies (10-7, 3.70)

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Beyond the Scoreboard: NLL changes and social responsibility

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USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the Scoreboard: NLL changes and social responsibility

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST

  1. SportsBusiness Journal lauds corporate social responsibility. Amidst a recent roundup of sports CSR initiatives, SportsBusiness Journal noted that the first project on which educational platform developer EverFi collaborated with a sports property was “a financial literacy program that regional bank BBVA offered for use by elementary school students in a handful of NBA markets, including Dallas, Houston, and Phoenix.” When Houston hosted the NBA All-Star Game in 2013, league sponsor BBVA arranged for Rockets star James Harden to appear at a participating school. “While it’s cool to have a BBVA banker come into the classroom, it’s even cooler if James Harden shows up,” said Jon Chapman, co-founder and president of global partnerships for EverFi, which has developed online educational modules on topics ranging from financial literacy to STEM to anti-bullying, branded for presentation by teams, leagues, and sponsors. After Houston, EverFi developed educational modules for the NHL and NHLPA around science, technology, engineering and math; for the NFL and the United Way around character development and African American history; for MLB focusing on learning loss during summer vacation; and with MLS around anti-bullying. We look forward to celebrating a Sport Business Handbook event with EverFi at their Washington, DC headquarters on October 2
  2. The National Lacrosse League announces details for the 2019-2020 season, which include divisional realignment, playoff format and schedule type after the addition of two expansion teams and new market Halifax. The league will feature 13 teams in the upcoming season after fielding 11 last year. To accommodate the addition of expansion teams, the New York Riptide, Rochester Knighthawks, and new market Halifax Thunderbirds, as well as maintaining an eye towards continued expansion, the NLL will shift to a three-division format in 2019-2020. “The league has had unprecedented expansion over the last three years. With two more teams coming in this year along with a new market in Halifax, we felt the need to reexamine conference alignments, schedule and playoff formats to prepare for future expansion. We also wanted to create exciting rivalries for the fans, the best travel scenarios for teams and players and competitive match-ups for our 13 franchises,“ said NLL Commissioner and Sport Business Handbook contributor Nick Sakiewicz. Along with unprecedented expansion, the NLL is clearly looking at unprecedented success.
  3. Cal Ripken, Jr.’s celebrity golf tournament draws in legendary athletes across major U.S. sports leagues. According to the Patriot News, the event, featuring such legends as Julius Erving, Lawrence Taylor, Ozzie Smith, and Jim McMahon, was held to benefit the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. The inaugural golf outing was held in 2011, and since then, the event has raised several million dollars for the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. The principal goals of the foundation are to utilize baseball- and softball-themed programs in an effort to build character and teach life lessons to underprivileged children. Founded in 2001, the Foundation has served kids in all 50 states and in other countries such as Canada and Nicaragua. With over 20 Hall of Famers across the NFL and MLB, the event has an impressive amount of star power to help draw attention to giving back to those less privileged through baseball and softball.