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Winston, Florida State rally to beat Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Jameis Winston threw three touchdowns to offset a three-interception start and Dalvin Cook had two long scoring runs to help second-ranked Florida State rally for a 42-31 victory over Louisville on Thursday night.

Florida State overcame a 21-0 deficit for its 24th straight victory, with Cook giving the Seminoles the lead with a 38-yard run with 3:46 remaining.

Out of sorts and on the verge of having its College Football Playoff prospects damaged, the Seminoles (8-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference, No. 2 CFP) recovered behind their Heisman Trophy quarterback and Cook, who had a 40-yard touchdown run in the third quarterback.

All of Winston's TD passes were big. He hit Travis Rudolph for 68 yards, Ermon Lane for 47, and Freddie Stevenson for the 35-yard clincher with 26 seconds.

Winston was 25 of 48 for 401 yards to beat Louisville (6-3, 4-3, No. 25 CFP).

Fri, 31 Oct 2014 03:27:00 +0000
NCAA denies Georgia's appeal of Gurley suspension

ATLANTA (AP) The NCAA upheld its four-game suspension of Georgia tailback Todd Gurley on Thursday night, ending the school's final hope of having its biggest star in uniform for Saturday's game against Florida.

In a statement released Thursday night, the NCAA's student-athlete reinstatement committee denied Georgia's appeal of Gurley's four-game suspension. The NCAA announced the suspension on Wednesday, when it said Gurley accepted more than $3,000 for autographed memorabilia and other items over a two-year period.

Gurley, who already has been held out of two games, will be eligible to return on Nov. 15 against Auburn.

Georgia said Thursday night it was "very disappointed" its appeal for Gurley's immediate reinstatement was denied.

"We believe our case to the NCAA for Todd's immediate reinstatement was strong and compelling," Georgia said in a statement. "However, we now have exhausted all available options and look forward to Todd's return to competition on Nov. 15. The full attention of the Bulldog Nation now needs to be focused on our team and Saturday's important game against Florida."

Gurley will also miss No. 9 Georgia's game at Kentucky on Nov. 8.

When announcing the four-game suspension, the NCAA said it "strongly considered" a harsher punishment. Gurley, a junior, was found to have taken cash from multiple individuals, even though the NCAA said he received "extensive rules education about the prohibition of receiving payment for autographs."

The NCAA said Wednesday Georgia's "due diligence in its investigation" and Gurley's "full disclosure of his involvement in the violations" were factors in not imposing a longer suspension.

The NCAA said Wednesday Gurley must repay a portion of the money to a charity of his choice. He also must perform 40 hours of community service. The organization did not specify how much of the money he would have to repay or a deadline to comply with the rest of his sanctions.

Gurley was considered a leading Heisman Trophy candidate before the suspension. He leads Georgia with 773 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. He has returned a kickoff for a 100-yard TD. He even threw a 50-yard pass - Georgia's longest of the season.

In two games without Gurley, freshman Nick Chubb has 346 yards rushing and three touchdowns in road wins over Missouri and Arkansas.

Fri, 31 Oct 2014 03:27:00 +0000
New dynasty: Giants capture 3rd title in 5 years

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Bruce Bochy is crazy superstitious. It's a little-known fact about the unflappable San Francisco Giants manager.

Mere mention of anything about a dynasty during the World Series made him uncomfortable. He felt equally uneasy when his name got linked to the best skippers of all-time - those Hall of Famers he well could join someday.

Bochy doesn't have to worry about a jinx now. After winning its third championship in five seasons, the new label for his team looks as if it will stick.

"Dynasty" blared the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday.

The Giants closed it out with a 3-2 win in Game 7 at Kansas City on Wednesday night, sealed by Series MVP Madison Bumgarner's five shutout innings as a reliever this time.

"A lot has to go right. First off, it starts with the talent," Bochy said. "I mean, you need that, which we have. Then you have to deal with a lot of things maybe during the season. Every manager says, `Hey, we're fine, we have a good chance to get there if we stay healthy.' But that doesn't always happen."

In a remarkable every-other-year pattern, San Francisco somehow finds its best form in even years. With new faces and old ones, with castoffs and misfits and some key midseason acquisitions.

Few clubs have captured three championships in a five-year span. The last National League team to do it was the St. Louis Cardinals with Stan Musial from 1942-46, so the Giants are the first of the free-agency era.

The Oakland Athletics won three straight crowns in the early 1970s, and the New York Yankees captured four in five years from 1996-2000.

Still, San Francisco was never considered a favorite or the best team in the regular season any of these times. Twice in this stretch, the Giants missed the playoffs altogether.

After a runner-up finish in the NL West to the Dodgers at 88-74, they took the wild-card card route this time.

On Wednesday night, Tim Hudson became a champion after a 16-year wait and Michael Morse got there following 10 major league seasons.

"It's the greatest group of guys I ever played with," Morse said. "It's a group of guys who believe in each other and the outcome was a World Series victory."

This city has had a football dynasty. So now the storied baseball franchise is doing its best to catch up with the NFL team in town. The Niners ruled in the late `80s and `90s, winning five Super Bowls.

A unique element for Bochy's latest winning roster is the talented crop of homegrown players who made it happen.

There are the big names - Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval. And the emerging ones - Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik.

"You look at most of our team - like Joe, me, Buster, Pablo, Belt, Bum. It's loaded with a lot of good players and a lot of players who are pretty similar in kind of their approach to the game and they're pretty even-keel," said Crawford, the shortstop.

"Pablo's a little bit different but me, Joe, Belt, Bum, Buster, we're all pretty levelheaded at any point in the game whatever part of the season it is, whether it's playoffs or midway through the regular season. We don't really change. That says a lot with how well we've done in the playoffs and the postseason in recent years," he said.

"Nothing's really too big for us," he added.

Eight players have been on all three winning World Series teams: Bumgarner, slugging third baseman Sandoval, Posey and relievers Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo and Tim Lincecum. Matt Cain, too, but he was hurt this year.

General manager Brian Sabean, longest-tenured in baseball, can't put a finger on why the mix keeps working. He is proud of the core of players who were drafted and came through the system and played such a huge part this time.

"It's a testament to player development and scouting. That's what we all hope for, that you can plug your holes from within and build your team from within," Sabean said. "That's a surefire way to kind of keep things moving forward. It prevents you from having to go into the market, whether it's free agency or more so the trade market."

The Giants survived skids in June and September before winning the wild-card game at Pittsburgh. They then beat Washington in the Division Series and St. Louis in the NL Championship series.

It has started with Bochy and his spot-on decision making, from resting the relievers regularly early in the season so he'd have every one of them for the October run, to going with Bumgarner at every chance.

"But you have to play good baseball for six months, whatever, to get there," Bochy said. "Once you get there, you've heard guys say, `Well, it's a crap shoot,' but you have to play your best ball. You have to have the pitching. That's obvious. But you've got to execute."

For the Giants, it's about every player doing his part and serving a role, because, as Sabean puts it, "We don't have a star system here."

"It's everybody's got to pull on the same chain and everybody's got to be ready to play," he said. "They understand the culture."

Dynasty or not, Affeldt has solved a potential problem at home.

The lefty reliever and Game 7 winner has three young sons - and, now, three championships.

"My three boys now all get to have rings on their finger," he said, "And I'm very happy about that."

Thu, 30 Oct 2014 10:15:00 +0000
Giants ace Bumgarner wins World Series MVP

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Madison Bumgarner was limbering up at Kauffman Stadium this week, getting loose with his San Francisco teammates near the dugout, when Tim Hudson and Michael Morse sneaked up from behind and ruffled the pitcher's long, scraggly locks.

That was way too hairy for Bumgarner. He quickly spun and playfully sparred with the mischief makers.

They were about the only ones who could touch Bumgarner in this World Series.

"Yeah, it was hopeless," Kansas City manager Ned Yost acknowledged.

The 25-year-old Bumgarner capped off a most splendid October and earned MVP honors Wednesday night, pitching five scoreless innings of relief in Game 7 as the Giants held off the Kansas City Royals 3-2.

Moments after he retired Salvador Perez on a foul pop with a runner on third base for the final out, Bumgarner insisted he wasn't worn down. About a half-hour later, he felt a bit differently.

"You know what? I can't lie to you anymore," he said. "I'm a little tired now."

Bumgarner earned a sensational save to go along with two sparkling wins as a starter in the Series. That on top of being MVP of the NL Championship Series and pitching a record 52 2-3 innings in this postseason.

Put it this way: Bumgarner threw two shutouts in October, starting with a win at Pittsburgh in the NL wild-card game. Washington's Jordan Zimmermann was the only other starter to reach the ninth inning this postseason, and he got pulled.

All tremendous accomplishments, but hard to tell from observing or listening to the 6-foot-5 Bumgarner. He shows virtually no emotion on the mound, blowing his nose as if no one is watching, and seems to be the only person unimpressed by what he's done.

Funny thing, the slow-moving lefty was carrying an energy bar with him when he kidded around with Hudson and Morse before Game 6.

"He's such a humble guy, and we rode him pretty good," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

"It's historic what this kid has done," he said. "Really, truly amazing."

After winning the opener with seven impressive innings, Bumgarner threw a shutout in Game 5. And when the Royals forced a Game 7, there was little doubt that the guy called MadBum would be called on to pitch again on two days' rest.

But five innings? Who would've believed that?

"Innings, I wasn't thinking about innings or pitch count. I was just thinking about getting outs, getting outs until I couldn't get them anymore and we needed someone else," Bumgarner said. "Fortunately, was able to get some quick innings and I was able to stay in there."

He gave up two hits, retired 14 in a row, and got 15 outs - that matched how many outs opposing starters Tim Hudson and Jeremy Guthrie combined to get.

Bumgarner boosted his World Series stats to numbers never seen before: 4-0 with a save and an 0.25 ERA, along with three championship rings. In 36 innings, he's allowed just one run and 14 hits, striking out 31 and walking five.

Bumgarner wound up slinging 68 pitches, and finished with 270 innings this season. He went 4-1 with a 1.03 ERA in the postseason - .

Last weekend, former broadcaster and St. Louis Cardinals catcher Tim McCarver paid tribute to the Giants ace.

"It's Gibson-esque, if you will. I know Bob could do that and I saw that from a 60-feet, 6-inch view of him every outing he threw in the World Series. I see the same thing in Bumgarner. I really admire that," McCarver said.

Before Game 7, Jack Morris also praised Bumgarner. Morris knows well about Game 7 - always intense on the mound, he threw a 10-inning shutout in 1991 to lift Minnesota over Atlanta.

"I want to hug him," Morris said near the backstop, a couple hours before game time. "He's my kind of guy."

"He's got the same emotions, he just doesn't show them. He's got a big furnace burning right now," he said.

A lot of stamina, too.

But in this era when pitch counts are so precious, Bumgarner wasn't worried about his arm in Game 7. And if he was OK, so was Bochy.

"In fact, I was staying away from him every inning," Bochy said, "because I was hoping he wouldn't go, `I'm starting to get a little tired,' because there's no way I would have taken him out unless he would have told me that."

Giants catcher Buster Posey said there wasn't much conversation on the bench with Bochy, Bumgarner and pitching coach Dave Righetti, either.

"Not much of anything. I think everybody could see how good he was," Posey said. "They weren't putting great swings on him."

No, they weren't.

"We probably would have won if they didn't have him," Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain said. "But they do have him."

Thu, 30 Oct 2014 08:53:00 +0000
Mississippi State, Florida State top first playoff list

GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) The College Football Playoff selection committee has spoken - and it likes the SEC.

At least for now.

Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn and Mississippi are the top four teams in the first College Football Playoff rankings.

The first of seven Top 25 rankings compiled by a 12-member selection committee was released Tuesday night. The selection committee will ultimately pick the four teams to play in the national semifinals and set the matchups for the other four big New Year's Day bowls that are part of the playoff rotation.

"It was extremely difficult, more difficult than any of us had expected having gone through our mock selections before," Arkansas athletic director and committee chairman Jeff Long said. "There are 18 one-loss teams in FBS at this point in time, and the difference between many of them is very slim."

Oregon was fifth and Alabama was sixth, giving the Southeastern Conference's West Division four of the top six teams. There are still four games remaining matching those SEC West rivals, starting with Saturday's matchup of Auburn and Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi.

The final rankings will be released Dec. 7, the day after the most of the conference championships are decided.

"Everyone on the selection committee recognized that our rankings will change over the next six weeks," Long said. "I think that's important for us to emphasize. We expect our rankings to change over the next six weeks. One week's rankings won't influence the next week's rankings."

TCU was seventh, Michigan State was eighth, Kansas State ninth and Notre Dame was 10th.

Mississippi State and defending national champion Florida State are the only undefeated teams left among the Big Five conferences.

"It's cool," Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott said. "That's something you can never take away from the university or this program. First-ever ranking, first team to be No. 1, so that's pretty cool for the university."

The Bulldogs and Seminoles also hold the first two spots in the AP Top 25. No. 3 was where the differences started between the playoff rankings and the media poll.

The AP voters had Alabama at No. 3 and Auburn at No. 4. Oregon was fifth, Notre Dame was sixth and Ole Miss was seventh after losing for the first time this season at LSU on Saturday. Ole Miss beat Alabama at home earlier this month.

This is the first year for the playoff format in college football, and the list is the first indication of how the committee is evaluating teams' playoff potential.

While Ole Miss received a better ranking than Alabama, head-to-head victories weren't always the deciding factor for the committee.

Arizona, which won at Oregon, is 12th. Baylor, which beat TCU, is 13th.

Long said in both cases the head-to-head loser had the better overall resume. Long said Oregon's victories against Michigan State and UCLA stood out. And Baylor's lack of quality opposition so far held back the Bears.

"They have not had a strong schedule outside of their win against TCU," Long said.

The committee creates small groups of teams, debates their merits and ranks the teams using as many votes as needed to come up with a consensus. Members are given reams of data on each FBS team and each member is allowed to judge those numbers however they determine is best.

The committee members gathered Monday at the Gaylord Texan Hotel in Grapevine, Texas, just outside of Dallas, and did most of their work on Day 1.

Long said the committee worked for about 10 hours total on the rankings. By the time the rankings were released on ESPN at 7:30 EDT, most of the committee members were already on their way home.

Wed, 29 Oct 2014 01:02:00 +0000

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