Penn State Meets Wisconsin for Right to Play in First Ever Big Ten Championship

Penn State Meets Wisconsin for Right to Play in First Ever Big Ten Championship

Penn State heads in to the final week of the regular season with a chance to play for the Big Ten championship on the line. The winner of today’s game in Madison between Wisconsin and Penn State will send the winner to the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis next week.
        

Wisconsin entered the season as the Big Ten favorite, thanks in large part to the addition of transfer quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson leads the Big Ten pass efficiency with a rating of 199.3, more than 50 points higher than Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins and eighty points higher than Penn State’s Matt McGloin. Wilson leads the conference in passing touchdowns, with 26 and is third in passing with 2,506 yards while completing 73.6 percent of his pass attempts, by far the best in the Big Ten. Wilson is also a threat to run with the football as well, with 289 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns.
        
But Wilson is just one half of Wisconsin’s dynamic duo. Running back Montee Ball has scored a Big Ten record 30 touchdowns, including 25 on the ground. Ball has been building some Heisman hype in recent weeks as the Big Ten’s leading rusher with 1,466 rushing yards and averaging 6.6 yards per carry. With Ball and Wilson it is no wonder Wisconsin is fifth in the nation in scoring and top ten in rushing.
        
Penn State’s defense has been steady all season long, but this may be their toughest challenge from an opposing offense yet. Wisconsin has scored no fewer than 28 points in a game this season and they have 29 and 31 points in their two losses this season. The key for Penn State’s defense will be to recognize that Wisconsin is going to have some success and move the football, and get on the scoreboard but limit the big plays. Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still, a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy Outland Trophy will have his work cut out for him this weekend against a Wisconsin offensive line that is traditionally very good, although they have shown some cracks in the second half of the season.
        
Wisconsin has a pretty solid defense as well, led by Mike Taylor and Chris Borland, who are 1-2 in the Big Ten in tackles per game. Wisconsin has allowed just 15.9 points per game this season, and they have allowed 17 points or less in each of their last three games. This means that Penn State’s shaky offense will have to find a way to move the football and get some points on the scoreboard. Last week Penn State excelled running the wildcat offense, and head coach Tom Bradley says there may be more in the works for this weekend.
        
“We'll have a couple of things maybe we haven't done in the past,” Bradley said during his weekly press conference this week. “We'll put them in. We'll take a look at in the next couple of days, and we'll have a game plan going into the game. How much we use certain things last week the Wildcat was in early. It was in our script early. I think it was in two or three times for the first 11 plays. So each week's different.”
        
Much has been made about where Penn State will be heading this bow season, or whether or not they should accept a bowl invitation. Of course they should accept an invitation, when it comes (and it will). But a win today will send Penn State to the Big Ten championship game, with an automatic trip to the Rose Bowl on the line. After all these players have been through this season, it would be the justified reward for them, but they will gladly accept any bowl trip that comes their way.
       
Penn State kicks off in Madison with Wisconsin at 3:30 p.m.

Best of MLB: Nelson Cruz drives in 7 as Mariners pummel Blue Jays

Best of MLB: Nelson Cruz drives in 7 as Mariners pummel Blue Jays

TORONTO -- Nelson Cruz hit his ninth career grand slam and added a three-run shot, and Hisashi Iwakuma pitched six innings to win his fifth straight start in Seattle's victory over Toronto.

Cruz hit his slam off R.A. Dickey (7-11) in the third, then added a three-run drive off Drew Storen in the eighth for his 20th career multi-homer game. He has 25 home runs this season.

It was the 13th time in team history a Mariners player has recorded seven RBIs. The team record is eight by Mike Blowers, Mike Cameron and Alvin Davis.

Kyle Seager hit a two-run homer and Nori Aoki had two RBIs and scored twice as the Mariners used a season-high 19 hits to win their third straight. Iwakuma (11-6) allowed two runs and four hits.

Wade LeBlanc pitched the final three innings for his first save (see full recap).

Stanton leads Marlins past Mets
MIAMI -- Giancarlo Stanton homered and had his first four-hit game since 2012, driving in three runs to give Jose Fernandez all the support he needed, and Miami beat New York.

Miami rocked Jacob deGrom (6-5), who allowed 10 hits and five runs, both season highs, and lasted just 3 2/3 innings in his shortest outing since August.

Fernandez (12-4) gave up two runs in seven innings to match his career high for victories, achieved in his 2013 rookie season. He also had two hits, hiking his average to .265, and drove in the first run.

Home Run Derby winner Stanton put Miami ahead to stay in the third inning when he hit a majestic two-run homer off the left-field scoreboard above the 401-foot sign. He added an RBI single in the fourth, and singled in the first and sixth, hiking his average to .241 after a prolonged slump (see full recap).  

Dodgers snap Cardinals' 5-game win streak
ST. LOUIS -- Adrian Gonzalez hit his eighth homer, red-hot Justin Turner got two more RBIs and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat St. Louis 7-2 on Saturday night to end the Cardinals' five-game winning streak.

Turner's two-run double capped a four-run third. He has 14 RBIs since the All-Star break.

Gonzalez's 429-foot solo blast to center sparked a three-run sixth.

Kenta Maeda (9-7) rebounded from a poor outing against Arizona on July 17, giving up two runs over 5 2/3 innings. Only one of the Cardinals' first 15 batters was able to hit the ball out of the infield against the Japanese right-hander.

Andrew Toles went 3 for 4 and scored once for the Dodgers. He has reached safely in nine of 10 games since being called up from the minors.

Mike Leake (7-8) allowed seven runs -- six earned -- in six innings.

Matt Adams homered for the second consecutive game. His blast to left in the fourth extended the Cardinals' streak of home runs to 14 straight games.

Aledmys Diaz reached safely for the 26th straight game with a first-inning single. Diaz's streak is the second-longest by a Cardinals rookie since Albert Pujols had streaks of 30 and 48 games in 2001 (see full recap).

Drew's walk-off triple lifts Nats past Padres
WASHINGTON -- Pinch-hitter Stephen Drew hit a game-ending RBI triple in the ninth inning to lift Washington past San Diego,

Anthony Rendon opened the bottom off the ninth with a single off reliever Kevin Quackenbush (6-4). Drew entered with one out and drove a pitch off the center-field scoreboard, and Rendon raced around the bases for the winning run.

Jonathan Papelbon (2-2) allowed a leadoff double in the ninth before retiring three straight batters. San Diego left runners in scoring position in each of the last two innings.

Washington starter Max Scherzer struck out 10 over seven innings (see full recap).

Giants top Yanks in extras to snap losing skid
NEW YORK -- Mac Williamson homered in the fifth inning and hit a tiebreaking single in the 12th, lifting San Francisco past New York for the Giants' first victory since the All-Star break.

NL West-leading San Francisco had lost a season-high six straight games and had held just one lead since the break -- when Buster Posey hit a go-ahead home run leading off the 10th inning at San Diego on July 16 only to have the Padres rally for a pair of runs in the bottom half against Santiago Casilla.

Williamson, whose fourth-inning error allowed the Yankees' run, began the comeback when he connected off Ivan Nova leading off the fifth.

Trevor Brown hit an opposite-field double to right off Anthony Swarzak (1-1) leading off the 12th, and Williamson singled up the middle with one out, just past the glove of diving shortstop Didi Gregorius. San Francisco was 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position, dropping to 7 for 64 (.111) since the All-Star break, before Williamson's single.

Cheered on by hundreds of orange-clad fans in the Giants' old hometown, San Francisco escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the 10th when Casilla (2-3) retired Brian McCann on a shallow flyout and Starlin Castro on a foulout. Hunter Strickland pitched a perfect 12th for his second save (see full recap).

Joel Embiid posts amazing tribute to Sam Hinkie on Instagram

Joel Embiid posts amazing tribute to Sam Hinkie on Instagram

The treasure trove that is Joel Embiid's social media presence unearthed another jewel on Saturday evening.

The Sixers' big man took to Instagram to post a picture of himself chatting with local folk legend Sam Hinkie. As if that wasn't enough, check out the captions he wrote at the bottom.

THE GOAT #HeDiedForOurSins #TrustTheProcess

A photo posted by Joel Hans Embiid (@joelembiid) on

Let us break this down.

"THE GOAT" - As in Greatest Of All Time, not an actual goat you would find at your local petting zoo.

"#HeDiedForOurSins" - St. Sam, patron saint of analytical basketball martyrdom.

"#TrustTheProcess" - The rallying cry of the masses.

Sure, they may have taken away Sam, but they'll never take away JoJo's social media platforms. Never!

Union have no answer for Didier Drogba, Impact in 5-1 loss

ap-cj-sapong-union.jpg
Associated Press

Union have no answer for Didier Drogba, Impact in 5-1 loss

MONTREAL  -- Didier Drogba broke out with a hat trick to lead the Montreal Impact to a 5-1 victory over the Union on Saturday night.

The 38-year-old Ivorian striker hadn't scored since May 28. He returned last week after missing three games with a thigh injury.

Ignacio Piatti returned after sitting out a one-game suspension to score a goal and add two assists. Recent signing Matteo Mancuso, who went in for Drogba in the 79th minute, got his first MLS goal in added time.

Montreal improved to 7-5-8.

Chris Pontius scored for Philadelphia (8-7-6).