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    ATHENS Kirby Smart knows an opportunity when he sees one, and he's hoping his Georgia team responds with the nation looking on in Saturday night's prime-time college football matchup. 'It's our turn to go on the national stage,' Smart said on ESPN's GameDay set Saturday morning, 'and put Georgia to the forefront again.' RELATED: Notre Dame confident, coach explains Irish advantages The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs (3-0) play host to No. 7 Notre Dame (2-0) at 8 p.m. at Sanford Stadium (TV: CBS). It's the first non-conference matchup of Top 10 ranked teams since 1966. Smart said the spotlight gives the University of Georgia as well as the football program an opportunity to showcase itself, when asked the biggest advantage to playing a game like this. 'I think the national stages, and the advantage you gain by having an opportunity to put our program, our campus, on display,' Smart said. 'And also, to affect the rest of college football, and know you're going to get a chance to play on the biggest stage there is. 'These games are why you come to Georgia, and when you have two programs like these two playing, our team is excited, their team is excited, the fans are excited, it's what college football is all about.' Former Bulldogs stars Champ Bailey and Knowshon Moreno were also shown on the College GameDay show Saturday. The cast regularly includes Georgia football legend David Pollack and former UGA volleyball standout Maria Taylor. Notre Dame has lost 10 straight games against Top 10-ranked competition entering Saturday night's clash, and Irish coach Brian Kelly is 0-4 against Top 5 competition. But Smart gained respect for the Irish in Georgia's 20-19 win in South Bend in 2017. 'They're extremely physical, they're never going to go away, they do a great job of competing,' Smart said. 'Every time you play them, you know you're up against a legend as well as their team.' Smart said on his radio show this week that he enjoyed making appearances on ESPN and the SEC Network, recognizing the value it brings the Georgia brand. 'I really enjoy it, I think it's great exposure for our program, it's a great opportunity for recruiting,' Smart said. 'I enjoy the people on the set. I've gotten to know them through all the years that I've been coaching.' Smart said his Georgia players have had an enthusiastic week of practice leading up to the game. 'Lot of energy and enthusiasm out there on he practice field, and sometimes this week you've got to say whoa, you have to take the reins and pull them back a little bit,' Smart said. Smart said it has been a big week for himself and his coaches, too. 'You kind of live and coach for these opportunities, this is a big stage,' Smart said. 'We know we'll have a national audience, and we'll have great exposure for both programs.' A T H E N S I S R E A D Y pic.twitter.com/IqbfwuKbjt College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) September 21, 2019 Quavo at QB! @QuavoStuntin stopped by Athens and ran some plays with @GeorgiaFootball players, @MariaTaylor and @davidpollack47. pic.twitter.com/phSiM4k7lh ESPN (@espn) September 21, 2019 DawgNation Georgia-Notre Dame Georgia football injury report for Notre Dame game Irish QB Ian Book keeping his cool entering matchup David Pollack says Nolan Smith rising star Georgia zeroed in on Notre Dame quarterback World of difference in Jake Fromm now from 2017 Georgia newcomers proving pivotal to season success Jake Fromm, Crush it and flush it,' on to Notre Dame Brian Kelly says Irish found themselves' in 66-14 win Notre Dame coach says team in position to win national title 3 things Georgia must avoid against Notre Dame The post Georgia coach Kirby Smart on College GameDay: It's our turn' on national stage appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly believes his quarterback will be at his best Saturday night against a talented, but 'not very complicated' Georgia defense. '(Ian Book) had a great week of practice, he's going to play really well against Georgia,' Kelly said on his radio show on Thursday night. 'You're going to see the best of Ian Book in Athens.' The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs (3-0) are a two-touchdown favorite over the No. 7 Irish, but you'd never know it listening to the confident Kelly. we play a lot of bigs games..our guys are used to playing a lot of bg gaems Georgia's massive offensive line, averaging 6-foot-5 and 329 pounds per man, is thought by many to rank among the best in college football Kelly has indicated throughout the week he's not overly concerned about how his defensive line matches up. 'It's an advantage for us,' Kelly said. 'We play these teams that slant and angle, and we haven't been very good with slant and angle teams, so we'll know where they are, and that's a good thing' Kelly has been complimentary of Georgia QB Jake Fromm throughout the week, but he's confident in Notre Dame's pass rush and pass defense. 'We're a top-down defense, certainly, but what we're better at this year is we're pressing on the outside, and the pass rush forces the ball out of your hands so quickly that the routes don't develop to the top end,' said Kelly, whose Irish rank third in the nation in pass efficiency defense. 'A lot of the interceptions, the route has not finished, so we're getting at the ball before the route finishes. When we can do that, we can be in position to undercut routes and not cheat on things. We're getting to the quarterback before he can get through his progression.' Kelly pointed out how simple the Georgia offense is, a necessity because of young receivers still learning their assignments. 'They do keep it fairly simple offensively, they're sitting down in zones and they are taking shots because they want to get their receivers to grow,' Kelly said. 'It's a young group, extremely talented, and they are coming on, and they re gong to be very good offensively once these receivers continue to mature. 'Early on they gave them some very simplified passing concepts, they did a great job with them, and we'll have to do a great job against them.' Crowd noise figures to be a factor, so Notre Dame went inside its new football building this week and turned the noise up to 107 decibels. Kelly is confident that Book's ability to communicate and adjust to Georgia's uncomplicated defensive schemes could provide a winning edge. 'How you quiet a great crowd is you score points and get ahead,' Kelly said. But if they are into the game and it's a close game, then you have to communicate effectively. 'We can't get into our process and into our traits, which I think can trump a lot of the things Georgia can do, unless we communicate effectively.' While crowd noise seems to be Kelly's biggest concern for his offense, tocus and gap integrity are the two areas Kelly stressed on defense. 'If you're distracted for a second against Georgia, they have a guy named D'Andre Swift, and he'll run past you if you do't fit the A gap,' Kelly said. 'You have to fit every play, and every play has to be 11 players playing together.' Beyond that, it's just a matter of playing Notre Dame football, the Irish accustomed to setting stadium attendance records (this will be the 10th time) wherever they go. 'Play fast, play free, be aggressiveyou don't go down there to play conservative football,' said Kelly, 23-17 vs. Top 25 teams at Notre Dame but 0-4 against Top 5 opponents. 'There's no pressure. We play in so many (big games) . and understand when you go on the road it's one play at a time, and you have to be patient. Very rarely are these games won early, they are won late.' Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly The post Notre Dame's Brian Kelly reveals Irish advantages, starting at quarterback appeared first on DawgNation.
  • UGA-Notre Dame is the hottest ticket in college football. There will likely be 70,000 or more people in Athens for tonight's game without a ticket. There's no doubt about it: Without a rare home matchup between elite football programs and a gorgeous weather forecast, it's going to be an epic and memorable day in Athens. The Bulldogs will definitely set an all-time record for attendance at Sanford Stadium, thanks to temporary seating installed for the game. The official capacity normally 92,746 will increase to 93,246. As far as the total number of fans in town for the game, UGA officials said the closest comparison would be when the Florida Gators visited the Bulldogs in 1995. There were an estimated 150,000 visitors to Athens, compared to 110,000 for a more typical SEC football game. Flash forward to tonight's UGA-Notre Dame game: Many Bulldog fans without tickets likely just want to be in the electrifying environment for ESPN GameDay, a long day of tailgating and sheer curiosity. They'll watch the game on TV somewhere around town, then rejoin their friends with tickets after the game. The extra 70,000 people outside of the gate could be a low estimate. Some have estimated up to 100,000 people without tickets. Kickoff for tonight's game is 8 p.m. The post More than 70,000 people could be in Athens today without tickets appeared first on DawgNation.
  • The No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs will play the No. 7 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday, Sept. 21. The game will be broadcast on CBS. Kickoff is set for 8:10 p.m. ET. This will be one of the biggest home games in Athens in recent memory, as both teams are ranked in the top-10 and both schools have played in the College Football Playoff each of the past two seasons. ESPN's College GameDay will be in attendance on Saturday as well. Related: What is the big edge Georgia football will have against Notre Dame? These two teams met in 2017 and played in a classic 20-19 thriller. Both teams entered the game with unbeaten records on Saturday. The Fighting Irish beat New Mexico 66-14 last week, while Georgia dominated Arkansas State 55-0. Georgia fans have tried to initiate a blackout for Saturday's game. Related: Georgia grocery store trolls Notre Dame before UGA game Georgia football-Notre Dame: TV channel The Georgia football game against Notre Dame will be broadcast on CBS. Brad Nessler, Gary Danielson and Jamie Erdahl will be announcing the game. Georgia football-Notre Dame: Game time The Georgia football game against Notre Dame is set for an 8:10 p.m. ET kickoff. Georgia football-Notre Dame: How to watch online The Georgia football-Notre Dame game can be streamed online on CBSSports if you have a subscription. Click here for more details. Georgia football-Notre Dame odds: Georgia football is a 14-point favoriteover Notre Dame. The over/under for the game is 57.5 points. Georgia is 7-3 against the spread in its last 10 games. Georgia football-Notre Dame: How to listen to the game on the radio Georgia fans can listen to the Georgia football-Notre Dame game on 95.5FM WSB or AM750 WSB. What Georgia football coach Kirby Smart said about Notre Dame Kirby Smart on Notre Dame: ' We're on to Notre Dame. I'm excited for this opportunity. I think it's a great game to have, non-conference game. You play at home and a school with such a tradition as Notre Dame. Looking forward to the opportunity. I know a lot of Georgia fans have had this one marked on the schedule for a long time. So have a lot of Notre Dame fans. We're excited to get the opportunity. They've got a really good football team. Got a lot of respect for Coach (Brian) Kelly and the job he's done and what he's built there, and their staff actually is one of the best staffs in the country. So good football players, and it should be a great opportunity for both teams.' Kirby Smart on the 2017 Notre Dame game has changed the Georgia program: 'I think it's a little bit of both. I mean it was giving our kids an opportunity to perform at a high level, and that was a really good football team. We didn't play perfect. They didn't play perfect. It was a hard-fought game. Both teams got better by playing that game, and that was two good football teams. We were a good football team last year. They were a good football team last year. And we both have good football programs. We recruit at a high level. We both have really good academics, and I think both programs are here to stay.' Kirby Smart on the Notre Dame defensive line: 'Well, I don't know anybody we've played recently that is like them on the defensive line. They have superior size and speed combination. They've got really good edge players. Their guys can get off the edge and rush really well. They do a tremendous job. Their guys can move around, just athletic. They're very multiple in what they do and they're disruptive. So I can't really compare them to anybody that we've played thus far up front. Maybe some individuals that we've played up front, but not as a whole as a group. They do a great job, and they create a lot of issues for you with their movement and their pressure package. They're really aggressive. We know they're going to score points offensively.' Kirby Smart on managing the high number of recruits for Georgia football-Notre Dame:'It doesn't change for us, guys. I'm going to be honest with you. I think that y'all like We're going to recruit that kids that come, the great group of prospects that come and we're going to entertain them. We're going to do a good job spending time with them because we've got more of the day to do that. I'm very thankful that we've got this opportunity because we've got a lot of national attention and it's an attractive game that people want to come to. So we're looking forward to that, but we're going to do what we do.' More Georgia football-Notre Dame stories from around DawgNation What we learned as Georgia football prepares for Notre Dame: Zamir White called a pleasant surprise' Georgia football podcast: ESPN personality concerned UGA-Notre Dame could get out of hand' What the national media is saying before huge Georgia-Notre Dame contest 3 things Georgia must avoid against upset-minded Notre Dame Georgia football injury update for Notre Dame: Key starter remains questionable Georgia football: Check out the star-studded visitor list for Notre Dame Cover 4: What is the big edge Georgia football will have against Notre Dame? Notre Dame's Kyle Hamilton an example that Georgia doesn't win every recruiting battle it wants WATCH California Cool Notre Dame QB Ian Book: We're not worried' The post Georgia football-Notre Dame: Game time, TV channel, odds, how to watch online (September 21, 2019) appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Washington Nationals (84-68, second in the NL East) vs. Miami Marlins (53-100, fifth in the NL East) Miami; Saturday, 6 p.m. EDT PITCHING PROBABLES: Nationals: Stephen Strasburg (17-6, 3.49 ERA) Marlins: Jordan Yamamoto (4-5, 4.87 ERA) LINE: Nationals -239; over/under is 9 runs BOTTOM LINE: Division rivals Miami and Washington will play on Saturday. The Marlins are 20-47 against the rest of their division. Miami has hit 133 home runs this season, last in the MLB. Starlin Castro leads the club with 21, averaging one every 28.6 at-bats. The Nationals are 38-31 in division play. The Washington offense has compiled a .263 batting average as a team this season, good for seventh in the National League. Anthony Rendon leads the team with an average of .328. The Nationals won the last meeting 6-4. Anibal Sanchez earned his 10th victory and Trea Turner went 2-for-4 with two home runs and two RBIs for Washington. Robert Dugger took his third loss for Miami. TOP PERFORMERS: Castro leads the Marlins with 162 hits and is batting .270. Miguel Rojas is 10-for-43 with four doubles and eight RBIs over the last 10 games for Miami. Juan Soto leads the Nationals with 34 home runs home runs and is slugging .565. Turner is 9-for-41 with two doubles, three home runs and four RBIs over the last 10 games for Washington. LAST 10 GAMES: Marlins: 2-8, .249 batting average, 4.40 ERA, outscored by three runs Nationals: 5-5, .237 batting average, 4.14 ERA, outscored by two runs Marlins Injuries: Jordan Yamamoto: (arm), Drew Steckenrider: (elbow), Julian Fernandez: (elbow), Austin Brice: (forearm), JT Riddle: (forearm), Cesar Puello: (hip), Brian Anderson: (hand), Garrett Cooper: (knee), Chad Wallach: (concussion). Nationals Injuries: Austen Williams: (shoulder), Jonny Venters: (shoulder), Koda Glover: (forearm), Roenis Elias: (hamstring), Adrian Sanchez: (illness), Matt Adams: (shoulder/triceps), Kurt Suzuki: (elbow), Spencer Kieboom: (elbow). ___ The Associated Press created this story using technology provided by Data Skrive and data from Sportradar.
  • Boston Red Sox (80-73, third in the AL East) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (91-63, second in the AL East) St. Petersburg, Florida; Saturday, 6 p.m. EDT PITCHING PROBABLES: Red Sox: Travis Lakins (0-1, 4.58 ERA) Rays: Tyler Glasnow (6-1, 2.03 ERA) LINE: Rays -177; over/under is 8 1/2 runs BOTTOM LINE: Division rivals Tampa Bay and Boston will play on Saturday. The Rays are 39-29 against the rest of their division. The Tampa Bay pitching staff owns a team ERA of 3.70, Charlie Morton leads the staff with a mark of 3.15. The Red Sox are 33-37 against the rest of their division. Boston has slugged .468, good for fourth in in the MLB. J.D. Martinez leads the team with a .564 slugging percentage, including 70 extra-base hits and 35 home runs. The Rays won the last meeting 5-4. Diego Castillo notched his fourth victory and Willy Adames went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs for Tampa Bay. Trevor Kelley registered his third loss for Boston. TOP PERFORMERS: Austin Meadows leads the Rays with 88 RBIs and is batting .286. Ji-Man Choi is 8-for-27 with a double, three home runs and nine RBIs over the last 10 games for Tampa Bay. Rafael Devers leads the Red Sox with 84 extra base hits and is slugging .551. Christian Vazquez is 9-for-30 with two doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs over the last 10 games for Boston. LAST 10 GAMES: Rays: 6-4, .264 batting average, 4.40 ERA, outscored opponents by 11 runs Red Sox: 4-6, .215 batting average, 4.33 ERA, outscored by 16 runs Rays Injuries: Hoby Milner: (back/neck), Yonny Chirinos: (finger), Jose Alvarado: (elbow), Brandon Lowe: (leg), Yandy Diaz: (foot). Red Sox Injuries: Steven Wright: (toe), Chris Sale: (elbow), David Price: (wrist), Heath Hembree: (elbow), Andrew Benintendi: (thumb), Sam Travis: (head), Dustin Pedroia: (knee), Steve Pearce: (back), Michael Chavis: (shoulder), J.D. Martinez: (groin). ___ The Associated Press created this story using technology provided by Data Skrive and data from Sportradar.
  • The University of Central Florida is taking tailgating to another level for the 2020 football season with plans for a lazy river outside the stadium. UCF announced this month that they'll be offering 250 McNamara Cove memberships for $2,500 each. The all-inclusive package covers 'covegating' for all regular-season home games. McNamara Cove will be located right next to Spectrum Stadium. Opening several hours before kickoff, guests will have access to the lazy river, a pool, sand volleyball courts, lounge chairs, a bocce ball green and a service cabana. Outside of game days, McNamara Cove will provide student-athletes with a leisure and recovery space as part of the $30 million Kenneth G. Dixon Athletics Village. Tom and Stacey McNamara made a naming gift commitment of $1 million last year.
  • A look at what's happening around the majors Saturday: TEXAS ONE-STEP The Astros can clinch a third straight AL West title with a win over the Angels or a loss by Oakland. Houston has won six straight games and is already assured a postseason spot, and it's getting shortstop Carlos Correa in the swing of things at just the right time. Correa homered twice Friday in his second game after missing nearly a month with a sore back, and he finally looks healthy after missing 80 games total with various injuries. 'We can feel it,' second baseman Jose Altuve said. 'We're excited. We all are anxious about things right now which is normal because we want to make it happen.' CENTRAL CONTROL The NL Central-leading Cardinals are sending another red-hot pitcher to the Wrigley Field mound with a chance to ensure a series victory in their crucial four-game set against the Cubs. Right-hander Dakota Hudson (16-7, 3.35) is 6-1 with a 1.59 ERA in his last seven starts. That's bad news for slumping Chicago, which has totaled nine runs while losing four straight games. St. Louis won the first two games of the series, and its starters have given up two runs in 12 innings — including eight one-run innings from emerging ace Jack Flaherty on Thursday. The Cubs are two games behind Milwaukee for the second NL wild card and five back of St. Louis for the NL Central lead. They will start left-hander Jose Quintana (13-8, 3.35), pitching on an extra day of rest after Chicago shuffled its rotation to let veteran Cole Hamels rest his fatigued left shoulder. The Brewers again face Pittsburgh, with right-hander Zach Davies (10-7, 3.70) facing Pirates rookie righty James Marvel (0-2, 9.00). ON THE LINE Stephen Strasburg tries to strengthen his NL Cy Young Award case and help the Nationals regain their cushion in the wild-card standings with a start against Miami. Strasburg (17-6, 3.49) leads the NL in wins, and his 235 strikeouts trail only Mets ace Jacob deGrom (239), the reigning Cy Young winner who is also Strasburg's stiffest competitor this year, along with teammate Max Scherzer. Washington leads Milwaukee for the top NL wild card by a game, and it's now out of the running for the NL East after Atlanta clinched that title Friday night. LET'S GET WILD The A's remain two games ahead of the Rays and Indians for the top AL wild card and are set to continue a home series against Texas. Cleveland, which got a save from Carlos Carrasco on Friday night, is set to continue a series against Philadelphia, while Tampa Bay will face the Red Sox with right-hander Tyler Glasnow (6-1) making his third start since returning from a right forearm strain. NO CHILL Mets slugger Pete Alonso crushed his major league-leading 50th home run Friday night and is two big swings away from tying Aaron Judge's 2017 total for the rookie record. Alonso has nine games to catch Judge, and the Polar Bear could get there quick after homering in his past three games. He'll face Reds right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (9-9, 3.93), who has allowed a team-high 28 homers this year. SEPTEMBER SCARE The Yankees are keeping an eye on Gleyber Torres after his right leg buckled while fielding a grounder Friday night. The Yankee Stadium crowd gasped when Torres went down, and the star second baseman was pulled a bit later in New York's 4-3 loss to Toronto. He said he felt some weakness in his lower legs, and Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he expects Torres to be OK but pulled him as a precaution. Torres leads the AL East champions with 38 homers and is hitting .284 with 94 RBIs and an .889 OPS. STRONG RETURN Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto has thrown 10 scoreless innings since returning from Tommy John surgery, and he may not see Atlanta's best lineup after the Braves clinched a second straight NL East title Friday night. Cueto returned with five innings of one-hit ball against Pittsburgh on Sept. 10, then shut down Miami for five innings on Sept. 15. The 33-year-old is under contract for two more seasons with San Francisco. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Hank Bachmeier's arm and poise carried No. 20 Boise State until Robert Mahone took over in the fourth quarter. And the Broncos' defense? It continued to stymie opponents in the second half, even if it finally gave up some points. 'The second half we just went out there and tried to put the game away,' Mahone said. 'It was a close game, but the second half we knew we had to finish and that's what we did.' Bachmeier threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns, Mahone rushed for a pair of scores in the fourth quarter, and Boise State pulled away in the second half for a 30-19 win over Air Force on Friday night. Bachmeier's arm made up for a Broncos' running game that was ineffective until the fourth quarter. He hit CT Thomas on a 36-yard touchdown pass in the first half while getting crunched by a defender, and added a 28-yard TD toss to tight end John Bates late in the third quarter to give the Broncos a 17-13 lead. Mahone added a pair of 10-yard TD runs in the fourth as the Broncos (4-0, 1-0 Mountain West) won their 20th straight conference opener. Bachmeier was 19 of 26 passing in another impressive performance by the freshman in just his fourth start. 'He came back in the second half even better. He's a strong kid back there in the pocket. He took a couple of licks, but he gets right back up,' Thomas said. Air Force quarterback Donald Hammond III had an 8-yard touchdown run in the first half and threw a 31-yard TD to Geraud Sanders late in the fourth quarter. Taven Birdow led Air Force (2-1, 0-1) with 67 yards rushing, but the second-best rushing attack in the country was held to 242 yards, more than 100 yards under its season average. 'They've got a really, really good team,' Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. Bachmeier also got help from his receivers, who made terrific catches. Thomas, who had a career-high 119 yards receiving, made a diving 29-yard catch to set up Eric Sachse's 40-yard field goal in the first half. John Hightower made a juggling reception surrounded by two defenders on a key third-down in the fourth quarter, and Mahone scored on a 10-yard TD run on the next play to give the Broncos a 23-13 lead. 'We knew coming into the game Air Force does a great job being physical,' Thomas said. 'Our mindset was we had to compete for the ball, every ball that comes our way.' Tied 10-10 at halftime, Hammond spent the start of the second half in the injury tent while Isaiah Sanders took over at quarterback. Sanders led the Falcons to a 32-yard field goal by Jake Koehnke midway through the third. It was the first second-half points allowed this season by the Broncos. Bachmeier responded with his best drive of the night, taking the Broncos 77 yards in 11 plays, capped with the TD pass to Bates. The biggest play of the drive was Bachmeier's 13-yard strike to Akilian Bulter on fourth-and-10 at the Air Force 38. Two plays later, Bates was in the end zone and Boise State was ahead for good. Air Force was stopped on fourth-and-1 at the Boise State 48 on the next possession and the Broncos answered with the first of Mahone's TD runs. PROTECTING THE FRESHMAN Bachmeier had been hit a lot through the first three games, and continued to get battered in the first half. He was sacked only once in the first half, but took a handful of big hits as protection broke down. His willingness to take a hit, though, can lead to big plays, like the Broncos' first touchdown. Bachmeier allowed Thomas to develop his route and hit the speedy receiver on a 36-yard touchdown to give the Broncos a 10-7 lead. 'That's the sign of a good quarterback. ... When you play that position you're going to get hit differently, but you're going to get hit if you're going to stand and deliver it sometimes and those guys have to be able to do that and not flinch and he seems to be able to do that,' Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. FINALLY Koehnke's field goal with 6:29 left in the third quarter was the first points scored against Boise State's defense in the second half this season. The Broncos held Florida State, Marshall and Portland State scoreless in the final 30 minutes of the first three games. Boise State went 98 minutes, 31 seconds of combined second-half action before allowing points. THE TAKEAWAY Air Force: The Falcons were unable to keep the momentum from last week's upset win at Colorado and still have not beaten a ranked team on the road since winning at California in 2002. Boise State: It's a result of facing a run-first team, but Boise State nose tackle Sonatane Lui set a career-high with 16 tackles. Lui had eight combined tackles through the first three games. ... Pass rusher Curtis Weaver didn't have a sack after having four last week against Portland State. UP NEXT Air Force: The Falcons return home to host San Jose State next Friday. Boise State: The Broncos have an open weekend and next play at UNLV on Oct. 5. ___ More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25
  • Matt Fink decided to stay at Southern California even after finishing third in the Trojans' four-man quarterback competition in training camp last month. A few weeks later, Fink found himself passing for 351 yards, leading a victory over No. 10 Utah at the roaring Coliseum, and sitting between Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart for a postgame interview on national television. Fink didn't give up on his USC dream, and the Trojans are grateful they had such a talented backup to their backup. Michael Pittman Jr. caught 10 passes for a career-high 232 yards and a touchdown from Fink in USC's 30-23 victory over the Utes on Friday night. Fink went 21 of 30 with three touchdown passes for USC (3-1, 2-0 Pac-12) after taking over when freshman Kedon Slovis left with a possible concussion on the second play of the game. Fink mostly looked sharp as the third quarterback to play important snaps in four games for the Trojans, who lost starter J.T. Daniels to a season-ending knee injury in their opener. 'I don't think this moment was too big for me,' Fink said. 'I've been in the era of Sam Darnold, and I've seen things that are much crazier. Getting in today and showing what I can do is what I really wanted to do by staying here.' After barely playing the past two seasons, Fink nearly went to Illinois as a graduate transfer last spring. The Los Angeles-area native instead decided to stay home and wait for a chance, however remote. 'In a world where everybody goes different places, this one stayed for his family, waiting for his moment, waiting for his memory,' USC coach Clay Helton said. 'And what a memory it was tonight. When his number was called, he made the most of it tonight.' Tyler Vaughns, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Pittman all caught TD passes from Fink, while Pittman had the fifth-biggest receiving yardage game in USC history. His remarkable 42-yard catch in the fourth quarter eventually led to a 4-yard TD run by Markese Stepp , who celebrated by handing the ball to Bush, the Trojans great attending the game as a broadcaster despite his NCAA-mandated disassociation from his school. Devontae Henry-Cole rushed for an early touchdown and Cole Fotheringham caught a TD pass for the Utes (3-1, 0-1), who struggled after star running back Zack Moss left in the first half with an apparent shoulder injury. Utah still has never won at the 96-year-old Coliseum. Tyler Huntley passed for 210 yards and ran for 60 more, but the Utes committed 16 penalties for 120 yards and struggled to get key defensive stops against a green Trojans quarterback and his stellar receivers. 'Mostly we had no answer for their receiving corps,' Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. 'Michael Pittman did a number on us. We just didn't do a good enough job on him. We've got to rethink some things coaching-wise.' With Bush and Urban Meyer watching at the Coliseum as part of Fox Sports' broadcast crew, USC's roller coaster season went on the upswing again after last week's embarrassing overtime loss at BYU. Slovis had played two encouraging games as the starter after replacing Daniels, but he couldn't continue after 335-pound Utah defensive tackle Leki Fotu landed on him. Helton said Slovis 'got dinged,' and the USC medical staff held him out. Fink jumped into USC's Air Raid offense and completed eight of his first nine throws during two game-opening touchdown drives in which he relied heavily on his receivers' playmaking abilities. Pittman then scored on a brilliant 77-yard catch early in the third quarter, snatching a long pass away from defenders and fending them off on his run. UTES UPSET Utah's mistakes weren't limited to penalties. USC blocked a field goal attempt, and the Utes also fumbled near the USC goal line 16 seconds before halftime, when they trailed 14-10 despite racking up 284 yards and controlling the ball for more than 20 minutes. 'We were supposed to take advantage of our chances in the red zone,' said Huntley, who took his first two sacks of the season. 'We all know the plays were there. We just had to make them.' BIG D USC's defense came up big in the second half. Isaiah Pola-Mao's third-down sack from the USC 1 forced Utah to kick a field goal, and Trojans freshman sensation Drake Jackson then got hold of Huntley in the end zone and forced intentional grounding for a safety with 8:51 to play. REGGIE RETURNS Fans around the Fox Sports broadcast stage let loose several chants of 'Reggie! Reggie!' for Bush. The retired tailback is still formally disassociated from USC under terms of the NCAA ruling against the school in 2010, but he remains wildly popular among USC fans and current players whose first Trojans memories include Bush's feats. Meyer is on top of many USC fans' lists of coaches to replace Helton, but the embattled incumbent is off to a fairly strong start. THE TAKEAWAY Utah: Losing Moss is an enormous blow to any offense, and his long-term health could determine the Utes' chances for a run at a second straight Pac-12 title. Utah's inability to finish drives only gets worse with Moss sidelined, and while Huntley's valiant effort might win future games, it wasn't enough against the Trojans. USC: Another quarterback injury wasn't enough to slow down the Trojans, even against a solid Utah defense that essentially wiped out their running game. Fink did enough to win, and USC's defense made several big plays. USC is somehow 3-1 after four games of an extremely difficult six-game start to the season, with Helton finding yet another way to fend off the doubters for another week. UP NEXT Utah: A late-night visit from Washington State and its Air Raid offense next Saturday, Sept. 28. USC: The brutal early schedule continues at defending Pac-12 champion Washington next Saturday, Sept. 28. ___ More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25