KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Gary Pinkel will be back on the sideline for Missouri after serving a one-game suspension. Turner Gill will be on the Kansas sideline wondering whether he’ll have a job next season.
Oh, and the Tigers and Jayhawks will be meeting for the 120th time on Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium, and quite possibly the final time. Missouri is headed for the SEC after this season, and Kansas repeatedly has said it has no intention of playing out of conference.
So there are story lines galore forming the backdrop for the annual Border War, a series that began in 1891 but in reality traces its roots all the way back to the Civil War, when pro-slavery secessionists from Missouri clashed with anti-slavery Unionists from Kansas.
“As a legacy, people are always going to talk about the last game played, so I think that is what brings about a little more significance to this game,” Gill said. “It’s the last opportunity to play in this type of situation, so it is very, very meaningful.”
Pinkel will be calling the shots for the Tigers after missing last week’s win over Texas Tech as part of the punishment handed down for a drunken driving arrest.
Pinkel, who is 6-4 against the Jayhawks, returned to work Thursday after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge. The coach received a 30-day suspended sentence and two years’ probation, along with penalties handed down by the school that could cost him as much as $306,000.
“I’ve taken full responsibility for my lack of judgment and poor decision,” Pinkel said. “Now it’s up to me to begin earning everyone’s trust and respect back.”
That starts with Saturday’s game against Kansas.
The Tigers began the season ranked in the Top 25, but plummeted after an overtime loss at Arizona State. It was the start of a rough stretch in which the Tigers later lost 38-28 at then-No. 1 Oklahoma and 24-17 at Kansas State.
The Tigers (6-5) also lost at Oklahoma State and by a field goal at Baylor, leaving some wondering whether they would even become bowl eligible this season.
Missouri took care of that last weekend against Texas Tech, rallying from a 14-0 hole with a late touchdown and interception without its head coach on the sideline.
“I think we came together because of the foundation that Gary Pinkel has built,” said defensive coordinator Dave Steckel, who filled in as coach. “He has built it on a rock.”
Missouri will be headed for its seventh straight bowl game regardless what happens Saturday, just the kind of sustained success that Gill hopes to achieve at Kansas.
The second-year coach has been under fire all season, nine straight losses raising questions about his job security, despite three years and $6 million left on his contract.
Among them are a disheartening 13-10 loss to Iowa State and an overtime loss to Baylor in which Gill opted to go for the 2-point conversion and the win rather than kick the extra point and head to a second overtime.
But it’s not the close losses that have drawn the ire of Jayhawks fans. It’s been the lopsided ones, the 66-24 loss at Georgia Tech, the 70-28 defeat at Oklahoma State and last week’s 61-7 loss to Texas A&M — the Aggies scored all their points in the first three quarters before pulling starters.
“I expect to be here for a long time,” Gill said earlier this week.
Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger has said he’ll wait until after the season to make a decision about the program’s future, which means Gill could be coaching for his job Saturday.
He couldn’t have a much bigger stage.
Kansas and Missouri are such bitter rivals that they can’t even agree on the series record; the Jayhawks believe it’s tied, 55-55-9, while the Tigers claim a 56-54-9 lead, owing to a disputed 1960 game in which Kansas won using an ineligible player.
Missouri coaches have claimed over the years that they would rather push their cars back across the state line if they ran out of gas than buy it in Kansas.
Likewise, one Kansas coach years ago claimed that the Confederate guerrilla William Quantrill, who led a bloody massacre against Lawrence in 1863, graduated from the University of Missouri — it wasn’t true, of course.
“When I choose to commit to KU, I got teased and heckled a lot,” said Kansas defensive end Richard Johnson, who is from Jefferson City, Mo.
Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb, who hails from Union, Mo., has an aunt who was a cheerleader at Missouri. He said friends back home wished him luck when he headed off to college — with the caveat that they would root bitterly against him whenever he played Missouri.
“It adds to the magnitude of the game,” Webb said. “We know it’s for all the marbles and bragging rights for however many years to come. We’re definitely going to take it to heart and come out and play inspired on Saturday.”
Copyright Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Detroit’s Justin Verlander became the first starting pitcher in a quarter-century to win a Most Valuable Player award, adding it to the Cy Young Award he won last week.
Verlander earned the American League MVP honor Monday, receiving 13 of 28 first-place votes and 280 points in voting announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Boston center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was second with four firsts and 242 points, followed by Toronto right fielder Jose Bautista with five firsts and 231 points, Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson with 215 and Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera with 193.
Verlander won the AL’s pitching triple crown, going 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts, the most wins in the major leagues since Oakland’s Bob Welch went 27-6 in 1990. Verlander pitched his second career no-hitter at Toronto on May 7.
He became the first pitcher voted MVP since Oakland’s Dennis Eckersley in 1992 and the first starting pitcher since Boston’s Roger Clemens in 1986. The 2006 AL Rookie of the Year, Verlander joined the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Don Newcombe as the only players to win all three majors awards in their careers.
Verlander appeared on only 27 ballots and was omitted by Jim Ingraham of The Herald-News in Ohio, who voted Bautista first. Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal voted Verlander eighth.
Ingraham doesn’t think pitchers should be eligible for MVP.
“I’d wrestled with this for a long time. If I was ever going to vote for pitcher for MVP, it would be him this year,” Ingraham said. “He hasn’t appeared in 79 percent of their games, any starting pitcher really doesn’t appear in 79 percent of his team’s games in a year.
“Would you vote for an NFL quarterback for MVP if he only appeared in three of his team’s 16 games, which would 21 percent? So that’s part of it. Another part of it is I think they’re apples and oranges. The guys that are in there every day, there’s a grind to a season that a starting pitcher doesn’t, I don’t think, experience the way the everyday position players do playing 150, 160 games.”
Other pitchers to win MVP and Cy Young in the same year were Newcombe (1956), Los Angeles’ Sandy Koufax (1963), St. Louis’ Bob Gibson and Detroit’s Denny McLain (1968), Oakland’s Vida Blue (1971) , Milwaukee’s Rollie Fingers (1981) and Detroit’s Willie Hernandez (1984).
The NL MVP winner will be announced Tuesday.
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel offered a public apology Thursday after his overnight arrest on suspicion of drunken driving.
Boone County Sheriff’s Office records show that deputies pulled Pinkel over in Columbia, Mo., and jailed him Wednesday night on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. He was released from the Boone County Jail after posting a $500 bond. A county prosecutor said that no decision had been made about filing formal criminal charges.
In a written statement, Pinkel said he “accept(s) full responsibility for my actions and will abide by whatever course of action our leadership deems appropriate.” The coach said he was stopped by deputies after a post-practice dinner with friends.
“First and foremost, I am very disappointed in myself for my lack of judgment in this instance,” Pinkel said. “Nobody should drink and drive, including me. My staff and I constantly reinforce with each of our players the importance of not putting yourself into a position such as this. I did not follow that here and for that, I sincerely apologize to the University of Missouri, to our administration, to the Board of Curators and to our fans.”
The sheriff’s department said the incident is Pinkel’s first offense.
Pinkel is in his 11th season with the Tigers. He is 82-54 overall, including three 10-win seasons in the last four years. Missouri (5-5) faces Texas Tech on Saturday its final home game of the season before a game in Kansas City against Kansas next week.
Pinkel said he has met with his coaching staff about the incident and also apologized to his players.
The university’s news release also included a statement from athletic director Mike Alden, who said he was “extremely disappointed in Gary’s lack of judgment” but also called the coach a “man of great character and integrity.”
“This absolutely goes against everything we stand for, and everything that he teaches his players in regards to our social responsibilities,” said Alden, who planned to meet with reporters Thursday afternoon. “We hold ourselves to very high standards, and this is a very serious breach of those responsibilities. We are gathering facts and will take action appropriately, and when those actions are determined, we will communicate them publicly.”
© 2011 The Associated Press
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — The defenses lived up to the billing in the latest Game of the Century. Neither No. 1 LSU nor No. 2 Alabama could reach the end zone Saturday night, not even with extra time.
The Tigers aren’t complaining.
They now have the inside track to the BCS title game.
Drew Alleman kicked a 25-yard field goal in overtime to lead LSU to a 9-6 victory over Alabama, which missed four field goals and squandered another scoring chance by throwing a goal-line interception – simply too many mistakes to overcome in a fierce defensive struggle that didn’t produce a lot of style points.
Or any points, for that matter.
“It didn’t go by the script,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “The key is to keep fighting, to find a way.”
Find a way, these Tigers did.
With a lot of help from the Crimson Tide.
“It’s a difficult pill to swallow,” said receiver Marquis Maze, who was hobbled by a leg injury and wound up at the center of two key miscues in the fourth quarter. “If everybody executes in the red area, that wasn’t even a close game. The defense played outstanding.”
Alabama missed four field goals, including Cade Foster’s 52-yard attempt after the Tide got the ball first in the extra period. LSU appeared to win the game on Michael Ford’s run around left end after taking a pitch, but he stepped out of bounds at the 7.
Two plays gained nothing, so LSU (9-0, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) sent on Alleman to attempt his third field goal of the game on third down. Alabama (8-1, 5-1) tried to freeze the junior kicker by calling timeout, but he calmly knocked it through to set off a wild celebration by the visiting team.
A small contingent in purple and gold chanted, “LSU! LSU! LSU!” The players ran to the far end of the field to celebrate with their band and the fans who made the trip from Louisiana.
“Before I went to bed last night, I was preparing for it,” Alleman said. “It’s every kicker’s dream, and I got to live it.”
The crowd of more than 100,000 at Bryant-Denny Stadium – most of them dressed in crimson – sat in stunned silence as LSU celebrated its victory in only the 23rd regular-season matchup between the top two teams in The Associated Press rankings.
LSU still must win its last three regular-season games – No. 8 Arkansas is the toughest test – and then would have to get through the SEC championship game. But the Tigers are the clear favorite after winning another huge game away from home, emerging with the victory in a matchup between two teams generally considered the best in the land.
And what if the BCS formula pits LSU against Alabama again in the national championship game?
“I’d be honored to face that team again,” Miles said.
The Crimson Tide isn’t giving up.
“They only beat us by three,” Maze said. “I hope we get that chance.”
If a rematch doesn’t work out, Alabama will long be moaning about how this one got away. Foster missed two first-quarter field goals, and Jeremy Shelley had one blocked before Shelley finally made one from 34 yards. Alleman kicked a 19-yarder on the final play of the first half, leaving the teams tied at 3 even though the Crimson Tide clearly had the upper hand.
Interceptions set up both field goals in the second half. Foster made one from 46 yards after Jarrett Lee threw his second pick of the game, then Alleman connected from 30 yards after AJ McCarron’s ill-timed throw was picked off by Morris Claiborne.
“Defense wins ball games,” Claiborne said. “That’s all I’ve got to say about that. You come out and you prepare hard and play like we did tonight, and you come out on top.”
Outside of the kicking woes, Maze was involved in a pair of decisive plays that helped finish off the Crimson Tide. First, with Alabama threatening at the LSU 28, he took a snap in the wildcat formation and tried to surprise LSU with a pass. Tight end Michael Williams broke into the clear near the goal line, but Eric Reid hustled back to snatch it away as both players tumbled to the ground at the 1.
Reid wound up with the ball, the officials ruled it an interception and a replay upheld the call.
LSU failed to pick up a first down, and it looked as though Alabama would get it back in good field position to take another crack at the LSU end zone. But Maze, favoring his leg, couldn’t catch the long line-drive punt. He turned away from it around his own 40 and the ball rolled all the way to the Alabama 19.
Afterward, he said his injury had nothing to do with it – the ball struck a wire that allows a television camera to hover above the field.
The Tiger got it out to around midfield on their final possession of regulation, then had to punt it away. Alabama took over with only 52 seconds left and settled for overtime.
“Our season was at stake,” Claiborne said. “We knew where we want to be at the end of the season.”
Unlike Notre Dame’s infamous 10-10 tie with Michigan State in another 1-2 matchup in 1966, when the Irish ran out the clock at the end of the fourth quarter, this one could not end that way.
Though even with extra time it will go down as the second-lowest scoring No. 1 vs. No. 2 game in the 75-year history of the AP poll. The fewest points in a 1-2 game is zero, the famous Army-Notre Dame scoreless tie in 1946.
“When you get blown out, you’ve got lots of issues and problems,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “I don’t think anybody could watch that game and say Alabama doesn’t have a really good team and didn’t play a really good game. We just didn’t win.”
The buildup to the game resembled a Super Bowl, especially with both teams getting a couple of weeks to prepare. A crowd of 101,821 squeezed into Bryant-Denny Stadium. Tens of thousands more converged on Tuscaloosa without tickets, content to just tailgate, soak up the atmosphere and watch the game on televisions set up outside the stadium.
Two ferocious defenses played as well as advertised. Alabama came in allowing just 6.9 points and 44.9 yards rushing per game, leading the nation in both categories, and the second-fewest passing yards. LSU wasn’t far behind in any of those areas.
The Crimson Tide finished with 295 yards, while the Tigers won with just 239.
The Game of the Century it wasn’t, at least in the first half. Alabama missed three field goals. LSU was called for a pair of facemask penalties and Lee threw the first of his two interceptions. Both teams were flagged for silly penalties, such as substitution infractions and an offsides on Alabama that extended LSU’s only decent drive of the first two quarters.
With the defenses dominating, it became clear the game would come down to which team could take advantage of its rare opportunities.
For all of Alabama’s heralded recruiting classes under Saban, it was clear the Crimson Tide didn’t devote a lot of time to finding a kicker. Foster was wide right from 44 and 50 yards before Saban switched up. The coach sent in Shelley, his short kicking specialist, for a 49-yard try, but that didn’t work out so well, either. He drove it low – right into the outstretched hands of the LSU defender Bennie Logan.
Finally, the Tide drove it close enough to actually make one.
Trent Richardson slipped out of the background to haul in his second long pass completion of the first half, a 39-yarder down to the LSU 19. The next three plays produced only 2 yards, so Shelley trotted out again to a few nervous groans from the crowd. Those turned to cheers of relief when he knocked it through, giving Alabama the lead with just under 4 minutes left in the half.
It didn’t hold up.
Jordan Jefferson, who wound up taking most of the snap instead of Lee, guided the Tigers down the field, most notably on a 34-yard completion to Russell Shepard when Alabama botched its deep coverage and left only one guy to cover two receivers.
That gave LSU first-and-goal at the Alabama 8, its first serious scoring chance of the game. The Tide’s defense stiffened, even after being called for holding, and LSU came uncomfortably close to running off too much time.
With 8 seconds left and one timeout remaining, the Tigers handed off to Spencer Ware from the 2. He powered into the middle of the line, tried to keep his legs going but was eventually whistled down while LSU frantically signaled for a timeout. The clock stopped with 1 second left, though the officials put an extra tick back on.
Alleman knocked through the chip shot to send the teams to the locker room tied at 3.
Richardson, a Heisman Trophy candidate, had a solid game with 23 carries for 89 yards and five catches for 80 yards. It wasn’t enough to win the game, and it may not be enough to win the Heisman, either.
Jefferson did just enough, completing 6 of 10 passes for 67 yards and running 11 times for 43 yards.
Alabama no longer controls its own fate in the race to get to the title game.
LSU took care of that.
“Whoever the folks are who make those decisions will make those decisions based on the full body of work of every team in the country and choose which teams are the best,” Saban said. “I really can’t speculate on a hypothetical situation and it’s really not our focus right now, anyway.”
© 2011 The Associated Press
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The last time Oklahoma State played at Missouri in October 2008, the Cowboys came away with a big upset of a school that appeared poised to be No. 1.
The Cowboys (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) are the big dogs this time around, sixth-ranked and favored by a touchdown to keep their unbeaten season rolling and end Missouri’s 10-game home winning streak on Saturday. They’re road tested after scoring 38 points at Texas — most in school history — last week.
“I remember watching them on TV and it’s just like, ‘Dang, they’re a pretty good offense,’” Missouri defensive end Brad Madison said.
Missouri (3-3, 1-2) beat Iowa State by 35 points last week at home, getting a bit of a breather in a schedule that’s only getting tougher. Coming off a four-year stretch that produced 40 victories, the Tigers have yet to win in consecutive weeks and have losses on the road to another pair of unbeatens, Oklahoma and Kansas State.
They’re about to get their third shot, beginning a four-game stretch against schools ranked most of the season.
“Our place will be rocking,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “Our players are excited about having a great team come in here and play.”
Oklahoma State is fourth in the BCS, best in school history, behind an offense that’s the second-most prolific in the nation with a 49-point average. The Cowboys are trying to start 7-0 for the first time since 2008, the year they knocked off unbeaten Missouri 28-23 on the road.
“Everyone thought we were going to lose,” wide receiver Hubert Anyiam said. “That was a good confidence booster for this program. Going down to Missouri and playing is going to be hard, but we don’t fear the away games.”
For Missouri, the matchup represents an opportunity to get some recognition.
“I think every game’s an opportunity for that,” wide receiver T.J. Moe said. “Just the game that’s in front of you. Certainly, the No. 4 team in the country can’t hurt a little bit trying to get a win this week.”
Oklahoma State has enough options on offense that it was able to overcome sub-par games from quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon in last week’s 38-26 victory at Texas. Jeremy Smith had 140 yards on just seven carries with a pair of long scoring runs that increased his touchdown streak to 10 games, and Justin Gilbert had a 100-yard kickoff return.
“It wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked, but there were enough good things,” offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. “Whether it’s them or it’s us, we didn’t have the same flow, but you’re not going to have that every week.”
Missouri is ranked in the top 30 on both sides of the ball. Former heralded recruit Sheldon Richardson gets his start for the Tigers at defensive tackle, stepping in after Terrell Resonno was sidelined by a knee injury last week.
On offense, Missouri will count on sophomores Henry Josey and James Franklin.
Josey began the year third on the depth chart at tailback and has emerged as a star after injuries to Kendial Lawrence and De’Vion Moore. Josey leads the Big 12 with 119.5 yards per game, has three 100-yard efforts the last four games, plus a pair of kickoff returns for 70 yards last week.
Franklin can make plays with his legs but has stayed in the pocket for the most part in his first year as starter. He threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more last week, but also threw two interceptions right into coverage. Missouri’s offensive line will now have to control a defense that had five sacks and 13 total tackles for loss last week. Oklahoma State has forced 17 turnovers the last four games.
“Some people may say Oklahoma State’s defense isn’t as good as Oklahoma’s,” Franklin said. “But they’re still physical, they’re still tough and they still play at that kind of level that makes you maybe second-guess how you perform.”
Cowboys cornerback Justin Gilbert said coaches have emphasized staying in coverage against Franklin.
“As long as we hold them up in the back end, we’re giving the linemen and linebackers time to get a sack,” Gilbert said. “And as long as they’re getting a pass rush, they’re giving us an opportunity to get a pick, so we depend on each other.”
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri has taken another step toward leaving the Big 12 Conference and there is interest in the SEC in taking the Tigers.
The governing curators at Missouri unanimously gave Chancellor Brady Deaton the authority Friday to move the school out of the Big 12 if he decides that is in the school’s best interest. Deaton, who had earlier been given the OK to explore options, gave no timeline for a decision but indicated that a move, if it happens, would not take much longer.
“We’re not looking at a long time frame,” Deaton said, adding that any move would anticipate playing in another conference beginning next season — not in 2013 or farther out.
While Deaton avoided saying that he favors leaving the Big 12 or identifying the SEC as a potential landing spot, it was clear that the SEC is the target.
“We’ve provided information to the SEC,” Deaton said at a news conference following a two-day curators’ meeting, accompanied by athletic director Mike Alden and other school officials.
“Missouri has not applied, nor has an invitation been extended,” SEC spokesman Charles Bloom said.
However, SEC school presidents have informally discussed Missouri, and there’s “certainly talk and interest” in adding the school, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the SEC has not publicly talked about the discussions.
There has been no formal vote by the presidents and one was not immediately scheduled, the person said. Deaton said discussions about realignment are ongoing and a “decision will be undertaken expeditiously.”
Chuck Neinas, the Big 12 interim commissioner, noted that its board of directors has a regularly scheduled meeting in Irving, Texas, on Monday and “conference membership will be thoroughly discussed at that time.”
“We look forward to discussing Missouri’s future with the Big 12 Conference,” he said in a statement. He declined to comment further when reached by telephone.
The league already has lost Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-12) and will lose Texas A&M to the SEC next year when TCU joins. Losing Missouri would leave the league with nine teams, while the SEC will have 13 once the Aggies join.
Deaton said the conference’s stability has been a significant concern with the departures of the three schools.
“Those actions, I think, in a sense, speak for themselves,” he said. “They’re part of the environment that we’re recognizing and evaluating as we go forward.”
But a big concern for Missouri is broadcast and cable television dollars, and in exploring a move to the SEC, the university is hoping to boost its revenue. An internal university document obtained recently by The Associated Press showed Missouri hopes to gain as much as $12 million annually in additional revenue in the SEC if other factors fall into place. The school could also face a hefty exit fee from the Big 12.
Earlier this month, the Big 12 endorsed a plan require schools to give up their most lucrative TV rights to the league for six years in return for equal sharing of the revenue.
The plan, if approved, would give each school an estimated $20 million in June. The figure is expected to grow by 2013 when the league’s new 13-year contract with Fox Sports kicks in and the Big 12′s television contract with ABC/ESPN expires in 2016 and could bring in additional money when renegotiated.
The SEC, by contrast, distributed $18.3 million in revenue to each of its 12 members this year. But that league can also expect more lucrative contracts when the next round of TV rights negotiations occur.
“This is a very complex transaction to consider,” said curators Chairman Warren Erdman. “We are taking our time to analyze all of the issues.”
Missouri also directed Deaton to try to set up a holiday basketball tournament and annual football game in Kansas City with an unidentified rival — Kansas would fit the bill — moves designed to answer critics who say departing the Big 12 will gut storied traditions that date back decades. Missouri and Kansas have played each other in football for 119 years.
The move also is designed to blunt concerns that the Big 12 won’t have a reason to continue holding its basketball championship tournament in Kansas City or schedule a Kansas-Missouri football game there if Missouri bolts the Big 12.
Ed McKechnie, chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents, which governs both the University of Kansas and Kansas State, said Missouri’s departure from the Big 12 would be “a massive blow” to the area. He said it would be difficult to keep the basketball tournament in Kansas City if Missouri left.
“The traditions surrounding the Big 12 tournament are a big deal,” McKechnie said. “I believe the Big 12 is the right place for KU and K-State.”
Just this week, Kansas basketball coaches Bill Self and Bonnie Henrickson both said they wouldn’t be inclined to play Missouri if the Tigers go elsewhere.
Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger called Kansas-Missouri a great rivalry but didn’t commit to any sort of plan for the future.
“The University of Kansas is a great Midwestern school, loyal to our Midwestern conference and to our Midwestern roots,” Zenger said. “The KU-Missouri rivalry belongs in the Big 12 Conference. Should Missouri decide to leave the Big 12, we would wish them well.”
Erdman insisted that if Missouri leaves the Big 12, the curators are “committed to doing what we can to preserve the rich tradition and heritage that is very important to us here.”
Missouri basketball guard Kim English said players don’t care about the university’s conference and that he’s not losing any sleep over the possibility of not playing Kansas every year.
“It has nothing to do with players in general,” English said. “I didn’t come here just because it was the Big 12.”
© 2011 The Associated Press
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Les Miles already has shepherded No. 1 LSU through several distractions that threatened to undermine the Tigers’ bid for a national championship.
The coach is going to have to do it at least once more when No. 19 Auburn (5-2, 3-1 SEC) visits LSU (7-0, 4-0) on Saturday.
LSU will take the field without three key players after defensive backs Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon and leading running back Spencer Ware were suspended this week for violating the team’s drug policy.
Miles says his team has already proved that it can handle distractions. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson and starting receiver Russell Shepard also were suspended early in the season.
This LSU squad is the first in school history to win its first seven games by double digits.
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn will start Clint Moseley at quarterback Saturday at No. 1 LSU.
Coach Gene Chizik said Tuesday that Moseley is replacing Barrett Trotter, who started the first seven games.
The sophomore took over for the 19th-ranked Tigers in the second half of last week’s victory over Florida. He has attempted only nine career passes, completing four of them.
Chizik says he and Moseley talked for about 90 minutes a few weeks ago about the backup’s situation and the importance of being ready. Since then, the coach says “he’s really tried to elevate his game in terms of really preparing like a starter.”
This marks the third straight week LSU will face a team with a new starting quarterback. Florida and Tennessee had to switch starters after injuries.
DETROIT (AP) — Justin Verlander helped save Detroit’s season with a gutsy effort and the Tigers hit for a sudden cycle to break away from Texas in a 7-5 victory Thursday that cut the Rangers’ lead to 3-2 in the AL championship series.
Delmon Young hit two of Detroit’s four homers and Miguel Cabrera had a tiebreaking double in the sixth inning — thanks to a bizarre bounce off third base. After building a five-run cushion, the Tigers held off Texas despite Nelson Cruz’s record fifth home run of the series.
With closer Jose Valverde unavailable for Detroit, the Rangers cut it to 7-5 in the ninth and had Cruz on deck when Phil Coke retired Mike Napoli on a game-ending groundout with two runners on.
Coke got five outs for his first career postseason save.
The Rangers get another chance to reach the World Series for the second straight season in Game 6 Saturday night at home. Derek Holland will start for Texas against Max Scherzer.
A swift turn of events in the sixth helped Detroit pull ahead. The Tigers turned a bases-loaded double play to keep the score tied at 2, then opened the bottom half with a single, double, triple and homer — in order — to take a 6-2 lead.
It was the first time four consecutive batters on one team hit for a “natural” cycle in a postseason game, according to STATS LLC.
The Rangers were the ones who seemed on the verge of breaking the game open in the sixth, loading the bases with one out. But Ian Kinsler hit a grounder right to third baseman Brandon Inge, who merely had to step on the bag and throw to first for a double play.
Ryan Raburn led off the bottom half with a single, and Cabrera’s slow grounder bounced high off third base and down the line, putting Detroit ahead 3-2. Victor Martinez followed with a rare triple down the right-field line, scoring another run, and Young added a two-run homer.
Raburn homered in the seventh to make it 7-2.
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — As crazy as it sounds, this season is about to get tougher for No. 8 Clemson.
Sure, the Tigers went from obscurity to the top 10 with three straight wins — over defending national champion Auburn, rising Florida State and Atlantic Coast Conference champ Virginia Tech. But anyone paying attention knows that Clemson (5-0, 2-0 ACC) has a knack for big wins followed by letdowns, something the Tigers hope to avoid when they play Boston College (1-4, 0-2) on Saturday at Death Valley.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney knows you don’t have to look far to notice the program’s tendency to play up — and down — to its competition. Swinney job this week is to see the Tigers don’t follow three wins over ranked teams by stumbling against the Eagles.
DETROIT (AP) — All Justin Verlander could do was watch.
The Detroit ace was finally out of the game after a tireless, 120-pitch effort, and closer Jose Valverde was in trouble again. Two on, two out – and Derek Jeter batting.
“I’m just like 45,000 other people in the stadium at that point. I’m just sitting there,” Verlander said. “Obviously, your heart is racing a bit.”
Jeter swung and missed, striking out to end New York’s final rally. The Yankees are now on the brink of elimination after Monday night’s 5-4 loss to the Tigers. Verlander struck out 11 in eight gritty innings to help his team take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
Verlander will keep watching and hoping when teammate Rick Porcello takes the mound Tuesday night to try to wrap up this AL division series. If the Yankees win, the decisive Game 5 will be in New York on Thursday night. Verlander didn’t rule out the possibility that he could pitch again in the series – maybe in relief – but manager Jim Leyland figures his star has already done plenty.
“I try not to do anything foolish with any of my pitchers, let alone an arm like that,” Leyland said. “You saw what a talent that is. I would say he’s definitely done for this series.”
The Yankees will be done for the year if they don’t win Tuesday. Their hopes ride on A.J. Burnett, the $82.5 million pitcher who was so unreliable this season that he wasn’t supposed to get a start in this series. A rainstorm changed all that when Game 1 was suspended Friday, forcing both teams to alter their pitching plans.
Now it will be Burnett and Porcello in Game 4.
“People are entitled to their opinion. Obviously, I give them reasons here and there to doubt,” Burnett said before Monday’s game. “The bottom line is I have confidence in myself. My teammates have confidence in me.”
Verlander started the opener against the Yankees on Friday night against CC Sabathia, but that game was halted after only 1 1/2 innings, forcing both aces to wait until Monday for their first extended work of the series.
While Sabathia didn’t make it through the sixth Monday, Verlander was still hitting 100 mph on the stadium radar gun in the eighth.
Valverde took over in the ninth – and another tense finish followed. The All-Star closer, who was perfect in 49 save chances this season, walked two and got a warning-track flyout before striking out Jeter to end it.
“It’s not very comfortable with a guy that’s got over 3,000 or so hits up there in that situation,” Leyland said.
Trailing by four in the ninth on Sunday, the Yankees scored twice against Valverde before he got Robinson Cano to ground out with two on to close out a 5-3 victory in Game 2.
After two games in New York that took three rainy days to finish, Comerica Park was dry on Monday, with the exception of the fountains beyond center field. The Yankees managed two quick runs off Verlander in the first, but the 24-game winner settled down. He appeared to be laboring at times, allowing four runs, six hits and three walks, but Detroit produced just enough offense.
Brett Gardner tied it for the Yankees with a two-run double in the seventh, but Delmon Young answered in the bottom half with a solo homer off Rafael Soriano that gave the Tigers a 5-4 lead.
Young, obtained from Minnesota in a quiet trade Aug. 15, also homered off Sabathia in Game 1 at Yankee Stadium before the downpour Friday night.
Valverde, who threw 34 pitches in a non-save situation Sunday, was back for the ninth a day later. He had playfully declared the series was “over” after Game 2, and the Yankees nearly made him eat his words, but Jeter struck out swinging with runners at first and second.
“A good pitch to hit,” Jeter said. “If I didn’t swing at it, it would’ve been a strike anyway.”
Sabathia allowed four runs and seven hits with six walks in 5 1-3 innings.
“I actually thought he made a lot of good pitches tonight and I thought the zone was a small zone,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “No disrespect to anyone, but that’s what I thought. That’s what I saw.”
Verlander, who led the American League in wins, ERA and strikeouts, was a bit erratic in his lone inning of work Friday, walking two and allowing a run before the rain ended his outing. The first inning went even worse for him Monday. Jeter hit Verlander’s first pitch right back up the middle for a single, then Curtis Granderson’s drive sailed over the head of Austin Jackson in left-center for an RBI triple.
Alex Rodriguez made it 2-0 with an RBI groundout.
Brandon Inge doubled to left-center in the third for Detroit’s first hit, and Jackson walked. Ramon Santiago failed to get a bunt down but made up for it by lining an RBI single to left.
After Young’s single, Miguel Cabrera – who homered and drove in three runs in Game 2 – came to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out. With the crowd on its feet waving white towels, Cabrera grounded into Detroit’s third double play in three innings – but this one tied the game at 2.
Verlander found his groove during the middle innings, striking out the side on 10 pitches in the fifth.
In the bottom of the fifth, with one out and a man on second, Santiago hit an RBI double to left-center to make it 3-2. Detroit added another run off Sabathia in the sixth. Jhonny Peralta followed Don Kelly’s bunt single with a double to left that appeared to bounce off a pole in the fence, caroming strangely to the left while the runner came around to score.
After walking Jorge Posada with two outs in the seventh, Verlander stood behind the mound briefly to gather himself. It didn’t work – he then hit Russell Martin in the ribs with one of his triple-digit fastballs, putting runners on first and second.
Gardner lined a 3-2 pitch from Verlander to left-center to tie it at 4.
But that was it for the Yankees, and now their season rests in the hands of Burnett, who went 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA in the regular season.
“I feel good about what A.J. is going to do for us tomorrow,” Girardi said.
© 2011 The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Detroit closer Jose Valverde held off a furious New York ninth-inning rally and the Tigers avoided a major slip-up, beating the Yankees 5-3 on a rainy Sunday and evening their best-of-five AL playoff series at one game apiece.
Down 5-1, the Yankees scored twice in the ninth. Helped when Detroit catcher Alex Avila lost his footing on the slick on-deck circle while chasing a foul pop that would’ve been the final out, New York got a chance to win it.
Robinson Cano, who hit a grand slam and had six RBIs as the Yankees won the opener, came up with two outs and runners on first and second. After wiping away raindrops from his helmet, Cano hit a routine groundball to end it.
Tigers starter Max Scherzer pitched no-hit ball into the sixth before Cano blooped an opposite-field single to left.
Miguel Cabrera’s two-run homer in the first off Freddy Garcia gave Scherzer an early edge, and the Tigers took a 4-0 lead into the eighth.
Curtis Granderson hit a solo homer off Tigers reliever Joaquin Benoit in the eighth. Pretty soon, the rain – and all the drama – filled Yankee Stadium.
Game 3 is Monday at Detroit. In an ace rematch, of sorts, CC Sabathia is scheduled to start for the Yankees against Justin Verlander. The two All-Stars faced each other in the series opener Friday night, but the game was suspended after only 1 1/2 innings because of rain.
Perhaps planning to play two more days in a row in Detroit, Yankees manager Joe Girardi did not use his top late-game relievers, Rafael Soriano and Dave Robertson, and Detroit added a run in the ninth on Don Kelly’s RBI single for a 5-1 lead.
So Valverde entered in the ninth with a four-run lead. He led the majors in going 49 of 49 in save chances this year, and the Tigers were a perfect 83-0 this season when taking an edge into the ninth.
But this was not a save situation for Valverde, and he was far from perfect.
Nick Swisher sent Valverde’s first pitch over the right-field wall for a home run. Jorge Posada followed with his first triple of the year and Russell Martin walked. With crowd rooting for a rally, Andruw Jones hit a sacrifice fly that made it 5-2.
Derek Jeter struck out, and the rain that has hounded this playoff series from the start returned in buckets. Granderson then lifted his foul pop near the Detroit dugout and Avila tracked it.
But the All-Star catcher slipped on the mat in the on-deck circle, lost his balance and had no play. Given another chance, Granderson drew a walk that sent him to first base as the tying run.
Cano and Valverde both did their best to stay dry – the Yankees’ star asked for a towel to wipe off his helmet, the Tigers’ excitable reliever tried to tuck away the ball in his glove to keep his grip.
With the crowd roaring, the game ended with a simple grounder to second base.
Playing on the scheduled travel day, the Tigers now fly home with a chance to take command of the series, just as they did in 2006, when they lost the opener in New York before sweeping three straight.
Cabrera took advantage of the short right field porch in the Bronx to give Detroit a 2-0 lead. The AL’s top hitter this year added an RBI single in a two-run second that began with a throwing error by Jeter.
Making his postseason debut, the 27-year-old Scherzer excelled. He gave up two hits, struck out five and walked four. He was lifted for Benoit with a 4-0 lead after allowing a walk and a single to Jorge Posada to open the seventh as ominous clouds settled over the ballpark.
Benoit had not given up a run in his last 22 outings and he retired Martin, then struck out pinch-hitter Eric Chavez as it began to pour, sending fans running for cover.
Jeter came up with runners on first and second for the second time in the game and struck out looking with rain drops dotting his batting helmet.
Umpires never called for the tarp and blue skies returned about 10 minutes later in the top of the eighth in a game that began with players wearing sunglasses after two days of wet weather.
Benoit gave up Granderson’s to start the eighth but got Alex Rodriguez, 0 for 8 in the series, and Mark Teixeira to pop out, eliciting boos from many of the 50,596 in attendance.
NOTES: Andy Pettitte, the Yankees’ stalwart Game 2 starter for five World Series championship teams, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. His wife, Laura, sang the national anthem. … The Yankees had won seven straight division series games. They swept Minnesota in 2009 and ’10 and won Game 1 Saturday. … Benoit struck out the final seven batters he faced in the regular season. … Cabrera stole second in the eighth. He had two steals in the regular season. … Ramon Santiago had two sacrifice bunts. … The Tigers handed the Yankees a rare day-game defeat. New York was a major league best 44-12 (.786) during the afternoon in the regular season, the best winning percentage in the modern era.
© 2011 The Associated Press
Jordan Jefferson and Josh Johns are expected to return to practice on Thursday, and Les Miles suggested that Jefferson would have a role this season. But what’s not going to happen is Jefferson stepping right back in as the starter after Lee has led the LSU Tigers to a 4-0 record and No. 1 ranking.
“[Lee] has been our starter for four weeks, and I told him [Wednesday] he will be our starter going forward,” Miles said. “It would be inappropriate for me not to recognize the position that we’re in now, currently, the things that he’s done, and the things that we’ve continued to do with him at quarterback.”
LSU has it rolling right now, no need to mess with that…Good decision by Les Miles
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Clemson first-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris hopes the Tigers have a much better feeling leaving Virginia Tech this season.
Morris said Monday he’s heard from plenty of people about the 13th-ranked Tigers’ miserable 24-7 loss at Blacksburg, Va., in 2006, a defeat that began a late-season slide for Clemson.
Morris says he and the coach’s won’t let up on the Tigers (4-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), despite back-to-back victories over defending national champion Auburn and ACC Atlantic Division winner Florida State the past two weeks.
Clemson has used Morris’ offense to make an early mark in the league race and the national picture. Morris says now is not the time for players to ease up simply because the Tigers are off to their best start in four years.
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn’s defense could use a pick-me-up.
The Tigers are hoping Florida Atlantic’s anemic offense provides just that when the Owls visit Saturday night.
Auburn (2-1) is coming off its first loss in 18 games and ranks last in the Southeastern Conference in scoring, total, rush and pass defense. Florida Atlantic (0-2) is at the bottom nationally in rushing offense, has been outscored 85-3 in its first two games and managed just one first down against Michigan State.
Auburn defensive tackle Angelo Blackson says “the gameplan is to beat them, beat them bad.” He says the defense has to make a stand.
Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger, meanwhile, says his players “know that they’re going into this game with a very small chance of winning.”
Ubaldo Jimenez’s name is starting to circulate a little more widely with just over two weeks left until the trading deadline. After rumors began earlier in the week that the Cincinnati Reds had interest in the Rockies’ ace, a few more teams have reportedly inquired about Jimenez’s availability.
Read more at Speculative Sports
Four-star quarterback Chad Kelly, who’s the nation’s No. 5 QB and No. 80 in the ESPNU 150, committed to Clemson on Thursday. He chose the Tigers over Purdue, Syracuse, Florida State, Michigan State and Buffalo.
Kelly, who plays at Buffalo (N.Y.) Saint Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, is the nephew of former Bills quarterback and Hall of Famer Jim Kelly. Chad Kelly threw for 2,159 yards and 24 touchdown passes last year as a junior. He also rushed for over 1,000 yards and 15 TDs.
“I mainly picked Clemson because of the atmosphere,” Kelly said. “I knew Day One from my first visit. Of all the schools I saw it had the best atmosphere, a family atmosphere. From every coach to all the players and to people in the community, it was perfect for me. I just fell in love with Clemson.”
Read more at ESPN
1909 – Jack Johnson fights Jack O’Brien to no decision in 6 for boxing title
1910 – Cleveland Indians Cy Young gets his 500th win, beats Wash 5-4 in 11 innings
1911 – Philadelphia Athletics are 12½ games back in AL, & will win World Series
1912 – AL President Ban Johnson tells Tigers if they continue protest of Ty Cobb’s suspension, they will be banned from baseball
1935 – NFL adopts an annual college draft to begin in 1936
1942 – Braves Paul Waner is 3rd NLer to get 3,000 hits (Anson & Wagner)
1960 – Juan Marichal debuts as SF Giant pitcher, beats Phillies on 1 hitter
1962 – Stan Musial breaks Honus Wagner’s NL hit record with 3,431
1984 – Pat Lafontaine scores 2 goals within 22 sec in an NHL playoff game
1988 – Red Sox retire Bobby Doerr’s #1
1991 – Willy T Ribbs becomes 1st black driver to make Indianapolis 500
1994 – Tennis star Jennifer Capriati (18), checks into a drug rehab center
1912 – A’s beat Tigers 24-2, who use amateurs protesting Ty Cobbs suspension
1929 – Dodgers beat Phillies 20-16 & lost 8-6 in 2nd game (record 50 runs)
1933 – 1st major league All-Star Game announced for July 6 at Comiskey Park It will be played as part of the Chicago World’s Fair
1942 – NYC ends night baseball games for rest of WW II
1956 – Mickey Mantle hits HR from both sides of plate for record 3rd time
1990 – Cubs Ryne Sandberg ends 2nd baseman record 123 errorless game streak
1997 – Tiger Woods wins Byron Nelson Golf Classic