No-sante Samuel: CB Will Miss Dallas Game

No-sante Samuel: CB Will Miss Dallas Game

The Eagles' road to the playoffs just got a little rougher. They already need the Jets to hold off the Giants just to have a chance. Now Asante Samuel has officially been ruled out for Saturday afternoon's game against the Cowboys with a hamstring strain, leaving Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to start at left cornerback.

While Samuel has not been his typical dominant self, snaring a pedestrian three picks through the first 14 games of the season, he remains one of the most dangerous ball hawks in the NFL. DRC is no slouch either, and will probably be more comfortable reprising a role on the outside, but he's had a difficult year, and there is certainly some drop-off there.

Meanwhile, Dallas has one of the deepest receiving corps in the league. Miles Austin has missed a bunch of time due to injuries, but the two-time Pro Bowler has touchdowns in consecutive weeks since returning. Dez Bryant has been inconsistent, but is a match-up nightmare, particularly in the red zone -- he has nine touchdowns this season. The injuries to Austin have also led to the emergence of Laurent Robinson, who has 792 yards on 16.2 per reception to go with nine touchdowns.

In their Week 8 tilt, the Eagles' secondary held Austin and Bryant to six catches for a combined 55 yards. Robinson finished with 103, but 70 came on a blown assignment that resulted in a fourth-quarter touchdown when the game was already out of reach.

The onus will fall on Juan Castillo and the defensive line to pressure Tony Romo. The Eagles sacked the Cowboys' QB four times in their first meeting, including two of Jason Babin's 18 for the season. Castillo has been calling for more exotic blitzes in recent weeks, and we've seen Romo crumble under significant duress multiple times in the past, so they should be able to get by, also thanks in part to their excellent corner depth.

>> Eagles injury update: Asante out vs. 'Boys [CSN]

Penn State not going to College Football Playoff, likely headed to Rose Bowl

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Penn State not going to College Football Playoff, likely headed to Rose Bowl

Penn State's wild comeback win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship was not enough.

The Nittany Lions were not selected to the four-team College Football Playoff, finishing fifth in the rankings.

Undefeated Alabama takes the top spot and will play No. 4 Washington. No. 2 Clemson will face No. 3 Ohio State.

Penn State earned its signature win of the season, handing felllow Big Ten member Ohio State its only loss of the season. 

However, Penn State sputtered in the beginning of the year, losing to unranked Pittsburgh and was thrashed by Michigan — who finished sixth in the College Football Playoff rankings — 49-10.

The Nittany Lions likely will play in the Rose Bowl, facing either USC or Colorado. The official announcement will be made later Sunday.

Dario Saric halts slump with 'best game as a 76er'

Dario Saric halts slump with 'best game as a 76er'

Dario Saric came into the NBA knowing his rookie season would be one of ups and downs. He would have successes based on his talent and struggle because of the newness of the league and matchups.

Saturday’s performance against the Celtics was one of those highlight nights. Saric scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, both tying career-highs, for his third double-double. He was efficient in his performance, playing 27 minutes off the bench in the Sixers' 107-106 loss.

“I thought that was his best game as a 76er,” Brett Brown said.

Saric had struggled the night before against the Magic. He barely made a dent in 16 minutes, posting just two points (1 for 5 from the field) without a single rebound. The poor showing was on his mind Saturday, as he got ready for the second game of the back-to-back. He went in early to get up extra shots, met with coaches, studied film and thought about the matchup throughout the day.

“I prepared a little bit more for this game,” Saric said. “After I have some bad rhythm of five or six, maybe, games. Now I concentrate more. I try to give my best, try to play my best, try to think before everything happens.”

Saric showed his aggressiveness in crunch time in the fourth quarter, when he scored seven points and five rebounds in eight minutes. He nailed a three to cut the Celtics' lead to 92-91 with 4:28 to play. Then with 1:09 remaining, Saric’s free throws cut the Celtics' lead to two points. On the other end of the court, he snagged the rebound off an Isaiah Thomas miss and scored a game-tying layup from Jahlil Okafor.  

“He played great,” Okafor said. “He’s working hard every day, getting used to the NBA process. It was good to see hard work paying off for him.”

Saric has been adjusting to new roles throughout the season. He was thrown into the starting power forward spot when Ben Simmons was injured, and then moved to the bench when the team acquired Ersan Ilyasova. On Saturday, Brown also played Saric at small forward in Robert Covington’s (knee) absence, a shift the Sixers may try again.

“He’s a good teammate,” Brown said. “He’s biding his time. He understands he’s a rookie. Incrementally, he’ll be given these opportunities. Tonight he did and he responded and you’re seeing continued growth.”

Saric still is early in his NBA career, and Saturday's showing was a game he can look back on and study for the rest of the season. 

“I feel like tonight … you’d walk away and say, ‘Shoot, that’s a hell of a player for playing 20 games in the NBA and he did what he just did against a hell of a team,’” Brown said. “I’m proud of what we saw all over the place from Dario.”