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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Michigan Wolverines vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Week 4 College Football ... - Maddux Sports (blog)

Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Saturday, 9/22/12, 7:30 PM EST, TV:  NBC
Opening Point Spread:  Notre Dame -6.5
Current Betting Line:  Notre Dame -5.5
Opening Total:  51
Current Total:  51
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish defense has been outstanding through three games

Michigan will meet Saturday’s opponent for the 40th time on the gridiron, posting a 23-15-1 all-time record in this rivalry.  The Wolverines have won three consecutive games in the series, including a thrilling 35-31 victory as 3.5-point home underdogs last year.  Quarterback Denard Robinson has been amazing against Notre Dame, as he set a school record with 502 yards of total offense in this contest a year ago.  “He’s a superior football player,” commented Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly.  Michigan is 4-11 ATS when playing against a team with a winning record the last two-plus seasons, something to consider when making your Week 4 college football picks.

The Wolverines were led by Robinson in last week’s 63-13 blowout win over Massachusetts as 45-point home favorites, as he threw for 291 yards and ran for another 106.  Dating back to the 2009 campaign, Michigan has won 14 of its last 15 September contests, with the lone setback coming against the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in this year’s season opener.

Notre Dame has opened up a campaign with three wins for the first time in 10 years, with the defense leading the way, allowing only 10.0 points per game.  “They have been very productive as a football team and a defensive team,” commented Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke this week.  The Fighting Irish are benefiting in a big way from being plus-five in turnover margin, which is far different than the minus-eight it suffered through in the first three games in 2011.  Notre Dame is 3-6 ATS as a home favorite, with the “under” going 9-3 in that situation the last two-plus seasons.

The Fighting Irish have outscored their first three opponents by a 20-0 margin in the first quarter, while also dominating the final stanza.  Notre Dame out-gained Navy, Purdue and Michigan State by a 260-103 margin in terms of yards in the fourth quarter.  The turnover margin statistic can’t be mentioned enough, considering the program hasn’t had fewer turnovers through the first three games since 1993.

Sports bettors will likely back the Fighting Irish when coming up with their college football predictions, as the home team is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.

Don’t miss out on a winning season and let the college football handicappers at Maddux Sports line your pockets with cash.  Long term packages are available now!

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Detroit Tigers: 4 Ways the Tigers Can Still Win the AL Central - Bleacher Report

Justin Verlander (No. 35) is an ace among all aces.
Justin Verlander (No. 35) is an ace among all aces.
David Maxwell/Getty Images

The 2011 AL CY Young and MVP winner is not quite on the same pace in 2012.

But he’s still Justin Verlander.

At 14-8 with a 2.82 ERA, Verlander is having a fine season. His AL-leading 217.1 innings pitched and 218 strikeouts (second only to teammate Max Scherzer) indicate that he’s having a pretty dominant campaign.

Having an ace of Verlander’s stature is a huge advantage for the Tigers. If they need just one game to secure the divisionâ€"whether that be a scheduled start or one on short restâ€"Verlander ranks above just about anyone else in that scenario.

That applies to the White Sox as well.

Third-year player Chris Sale has posted big-time numbers for the White Sox. Seventeen wins, 173 Ks and a 2.79 ERA reveal as much.

However, having never started a game before this year, he’s still a relatively raw commodity. In a one-game playoff-type situation, Verlander gets the upper hand without a shadow of a doubt.

As for the other contingent of starting pitchers numbering two through five, Detroit also owns the advantage.

The No. 2 starter in Max Scherzer has been nearly as good as ace Chris Sale with a stat line of 16-6 and 224 Ks in 178.2 innings pitched. Only Sale’s ERA and walk total rank better.

Rick Porcello, Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez round out the Tigers’ rotation. Jake Peavy, Jose Quintana, Gavin Floyd and Francisco Liriano comprise the remaining starters for the White Sox.

The No. 5 starters for each club effectively cancel each other out due to their consistently up-and-down performances. In terms of the top four, though, Verlander, Scherzer, Porcello and Fister are a more quality bunch than Sale, Peavy, Quintana and Floyd.

Their collective ERAs and WHIPs are essentially a wash, but Detroit’s group is more dominant with 657 Ks (versus 542) and 48 wins (versus 43). 

From Verlander down through the rest of the rotation, the Tigers have the pitching advantage for the homestretch.

Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera has 2 homers, 6 RBIs; makes late push for ... - MLive.com

091812-miguel-cabrera-2.jpgDetroit Tigers' Prince Fielder (28) celebrates his two-run home run against the Oakland Athletics with Miguel Cabrerain the fifth inning in Detroit on Tuesday.

DETROIT -- He's two home runs shy of the American League lead. That's it.

A pair of home runs, including a grand slam Tuesday night, have put Miguel Cabrera in prime position to win the American League's Triple Crown.

Not stay in the hunt for it. No. Win it.

It's a feat that's so special -- and so suddenly realistic -- that Tigers manager Jim Leyland doesn't even like to mention the possibility of Cabrera capturing it for the sake jinxing it.

"Obviously, it hasn't been done in a long, long time, so it tells you how special it is," Leyland said. "But I don't really talk too much about that stuff. If something like that happens, that's when you really enjoy the moment."

Cabrera entered Tuesday tied with Josh Hamilton for the league lead in RBIs with 123. But the 29-year-old took a commanding lead after driving in six runs en route to the Tigers' 12-2 homer-happy win over the AL Wild Card-leading Oakland Athletics.

He also padded his batting average lead, bumping it up three points after a 3-for-4 day at the plate. It gave him a four-point lead over Angels center fielder Mike Trout, who entered Tuesday with a .329 batting average.

That leaves home runs as the only category Cabrera isn't leading in the triple-crown race. His 40 are two shy of a lead currently held by Hamilton.

If he can claim that top spot in the next 15 games and hold onto it for the remainder of the season, he'd become the first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

So, can he pull it off?

Sure, but it won't be easy.

"There's a lot of competition," he said. "You're competing against a lot of great baseball players. It's a hard thing to do it."

And, with only 15 games remaining, Cabrera knows it'll be difficult. But not necessarily impossible.

Nine of the club's 15 remaining games are at Comerica Park -- where he's hit 26 of his 40 home runs. The remaining six games will be played in Minnesota and Kansas City -- where he's hitting a combined .385 with 12 RBIs and two home runs in 52 at-bats.

So, it's do-able. But Cabrera knows it'll take some luck to pull it off.

"You've got to be lucky," he said. "And, hopefully we'll get lucky in our division and win more games, too."

Leyland didn't downplay the magnitude of Cabrera's season. He's well aware of MVP-type season his slugging third baseman is piecing together.

"It's not that easy," Leyland said. "It's not easy to hit 35 home runs. It's not easy to hit 30 home runs."

So what happened? Why has Cabrera been able to hit more home runs this year than in year's past?

Simple, Cabrera said, glancing over at his lockermate, Prince Fielder.

"Prince is behind me," he said. "I see more good pitches. They're aggressive with me and I'm an aggressive hitter.

"You don't have to be in the middle of the plate to swing the bat. If it's something close, I'm going to be aggressive and swing and put my best swing that I have."

Cabrera put one of his "best" swings on display in the eighth when he belted the club's first grand slam this year -- giving him home run No. 40.

It marked the first time a Tigers player has hit 40-plus homers since Cecil Fielder recorded 44 in 1991.

"This guy is pretty special obviously," Leyland said. "He's pretty good."

Despite his season-long success, Cabrera doesn't like to talk about his personal accomplishments. He's a team-oriented player. Always do what's best for the team, he says. And that's exactly what he's been doing, particularly the past two months.

"We're trying to win games right now, and he's pretty locked in," Leyland said.

Asked how it felt to be showered with chants of "M-V-P" from the 31,243 in attendance Tuesday night, Cabrera smiled, but he didn't sway from the accustomed answer he's given all season.

"It makes you feel good, but our job is to win games," he said. "It's not to talk about personal numbers."

As it stands, Cabrera appears to be in a dead heat with Trout for the AL MVP.

Where he fits in the equation likely depends on whether this year's voter favors traditional stats over advanced stats, or whether stats like Wins Above Replacement (WAR) trump traditional offensive categories.

"Whatever happens, happens," Leyland said. "But, he's making a case for that MVP, I would say."

And, it's a case that could favor Cabrera if he's able to hit just a few more home runs.

-- Download the "Detroit Tigers on MLive app" for your iPhone or Android and follow Chris Iott and James Schmehl on Twitter to keep up with news on the Tigers.

Detroit Tigers have not discussed contract extension with manager Jim Leyland - MLive.com

091812-jim-leyland.jpgDetroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland, left, argues a call after getting ejected by first base umpire Brian Knight during the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians on Sunday in Cleveland.

DETROIT -- Jim Leyland has plenty of worries on his mind, but whether he'll return as manager of the Detroit Tigers next season doesn't appear to be one of them.

Despite only 15 games remaining this year, Leyland hasn't been approached by the Tigers about a contract extension. And, given the team's current situation, that's OK with him.

"I haven’t discussed my situation with anyone," Leyland said. "Nor has my situation been discussed with me."

When asked Tuesday whether he's wondered if this might be the last homestand he'll manage for the Tigers, Leyland said it hadn't crossed his mind.

"That I don’t think about," he said. "That’s not going to have any affect on me. I think about beating the Oakland Athletics tonight and trying to get into the playoffs."

Detroit is 78-69 heading into the second of 10 straight home games Wednesday, trailing the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox by three games.

"I don’t want to discuss my situation with anyone -- nor do they want to discuss it with me right now," Leyland said. "We’re trying to win a division. And, I’ll leave it at that."

At this juncture, it's pretty apparent that Leyland's status with the club next year will be addressed this offseason.

He's currently working under a one-year contract, which was extended last season on Aug. 8 when the Tigers were 61-53 and had a four-game lead in the Central Division. At the time, Leyland said he was comfortable working on a one-year contract.

"That situation will all take care of itself at the proper time," Leyland said Tuesday. "And, now obviously is not the proper time."

In his seven years as Detroit's manager, Leyland is 597-523 with one pennant. It's widely assumed that his future with the Tigers will likely depend on whether they earn a postseason berth, though Leyland declined to speculate.

"If I had information for you, I would give it to you," he said. "But I have none."

-- Download the "Detroit Tigers on MLive app" for your iPhone or Android and follow Chris Iott and James Schmehl on Twitter to keep up with news on the Tigers.

Detroit Lions Issue of the Week: Get through trap game against Tennessee Titans - MLive.com

Anwar S. Richardson | arichar2@mlive.com By Anwar S. Richardson | arichar2@mlive.com MLive.com
on September 19, 2012 at 5:07 AM

Chris JohnsonTennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson is struggling once against this season, but is still an NFL threat.

ALLEN PARK -- The Detroit Lions do not need to worry about the Tennessee Titans, right?

Detroit will travel and play against Tennessee on Sunday, and one area of concern is avoiding a "trap" game this weekend. The Titans are currently 0-2, but still have plenty of weapons that cannot be overlooked.

Welcome back to MLive.com's weekly Lions feature. In advance of each game, we identify the Lions' "Issue of the Week" and give our insight as to how it might play out.

And we welcome feedback from you, the reader, with some of the best comments slated to be used in an item later this week.

Anwar Richardson
The Tennessee Titans are in total disarray.

Titans running back Chris Johnson recently threw his teammates under the bus, which is never a good sign. That was interesting to hear considering Johnson has been nothing but a bust since holding out and receiving a new contract last year.

Receiver Kenny Britt is still recovering from last year's ACL and MCL injury, while receiver Nate Washington is improving from his leg contusion. Then there is quarterback Jake Locker, a young passer learning how to succeed in the NFL.

Last week, the Arizona Cardinals knocked off New England, and Detroit must avoid that same letdown. Detroit cannot allow Johnson to become the league's top running back again, and this is not the time for Britt to dominant the Lions' secondary.

Justin Rogers
Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, only five teams have started the season 0-3 and recovered to qualify for the postseason. The last team to do so was the Buffalo Bills in 1998. For that reason, the Titans will essentially be playing for their playoff lives on Sunday, one year after finishing 9-7.

The Titans are off to a putrid start, getting outscored by a combined 50 points in losses to New England and San Diego. Star running back Chris Johnson has especially struggled. Through two games he has just 21 yards on 19 carries.

The Lions simply can't let the Titans get back to their feet this week. Instead, they need to kick them while they're down by not allowing Johnson to get going and getting consistent pressure on second-year quarterback Jake Locker.

Reader response
Now, it's your turn to speak up in the comments section below. Can Detroit avoid a letdown against Tennessee? Does Chris Johnson have anything left in the tank? Can Detroit rebound from its disappointing loss against the San Francisco 49ers? Will quarterback Matthew Stafford play like he did in 2011?

-- Download the "Detroit Lions on MLive app" for your iPhone or Android and follow Anwar Richardson and Justin Rogers on Twitter to keep up with news on Lions football.

NFL roundup: Atlanta's Michael Turner arrested on drunken-driving charge - Detroit Free Press

Atlanta's Michael Turner was jailed on charges of drunken driving and speeding early Tuesday, just hours after he scored a TD in the team's win over Denver.

Turner was jailed just after 5 a.m.

A Gwinnett County police officer pulled over Turner's black Audi R8 on Interstate 85 northeast of Atlanta after clocking the car at 97 m.p.h. -- 32 over the speed limit.

CAROLINA: RB Jonathan Stewart (ankle) was held out of practice and could be a game-time decision Thursday against the Giants.

CHICAGO: QB Jay Cutler acknowledges he was wrong to shove teammate J'Marcus Webb on the sideline during the Bears' loss at Green Bay last week. He has no second thoughts about yelling at him, however. ... LG Chris Spencer has been benched in favor of Chilo Rachal.

CLEVELAND: Jim Brown and the Browns are getting back together. The Hall of Fame running back, who has had a rift with his former team for years, plans to take part in alumni events this weekend.

JACKSONVILLE: QB Blaine Gabbert (gluteus) is expected to start Sunday against Indianapolis.

MIAMI: Defensive tackle Andre Fluellen has signed with the Miami Dolphins after playing the past four seasons for the Lions. The 302-pound Fluellen, a former Florida State player, was cut by the Lions near the end of training camp. He has played in 51 NFL games, mostly as a reserve.

NEW ENGLAND: TE Kellen Winslow agreed to terms pending a physical, ESPN Boston reports.

N.Y. GIANTS: Running back Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) missed practice and is not expected to play in Thursday's game against Carolina. However, receiver Hakeem Nicks (foot) is expected to play.

PHILADELPHIA: Center Jason Kelce was placed on injured reserve, ending his season. He had surgery to repair a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee. Kelce was injured in Sunday's win over Baltimore. Center Steve Vallos was signed to take his spot. Dallas Reynolds is the starter.

TAMPA BAY: Guard Derek Hardman was released, and receiver Jordan Shipley was re-signed.

WASHINGTON: Outside linebacker Markus White was signed off Tampa Bay's practice squad.

NFL Films scion Steve Sabol helped modernize broadcasts - Detroit Free Press

NEW YORK -- NFL Films president Steve Sabol, half of the father-son team that revolutionized sports broadcasting and mythologized pro football into the country's favorite sport, died Tuesday from brain cancer. He was 69.

In March 2011, Sabol was diagnosed with a tumor on the left side of his brain after being hospitalized for a seizure.

His father, Ed, founded NFL Films, and Steve was there working beside him right from the start in 1964. They introduced a series of innovations now taken for granted, from slow-motion replays to blooper reels to sticking microphones on coaches and players. And they hired the "Voice of God," John Facenda, to read lyrical descriptions in solemn tones.

"Steve Sabol was the creative genius behind the remarkable work of NFL Films," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement from the league confirming Sabol's death. "Steve's passion for football was matched by his incredible talent and energy. Steve's legacy will be part of the NFL forever. He was a major contributor to the success of the NFL, a man who changed the way we look at football and sports, and a great friend."

Ed Sabol was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year. The two received the Lifetime Achievement Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2003.

"We see the game as art as much as sport," Steve Sabol told the Associated Press before his father's Hall induction. "That helped us nurture not only the game's traditions but to develop its mythology: America's Team, The Catch, The Frozen Tundra."

Steve Sabol received 35 Emmys for writing, cinematography, editing, directing and producing. No one else had ever earned that many in as many different categories.

He began his career as a cinematographer under his father. Steve was the perfect fit for the job: an all-Rocky Mountain Conference running back at Colorado College majoring in art history.

"His work humanized the players, coaches and people who have made the National Football League so great," said San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York.

The Sabols' advances included everything from reverse angle replays to filming pregame locker room speeches to setting highlights to pop music.

"Today of course those techniques are so common it's hard to imagine just how radical they once were," the younger Sabol told the AP last year. "Believe me, it wasn't always easy getting people to accept them, but I think it was worth the effort."

An accomplished collage artist, Sabol exhibited at the ArtExpo in New York, the Avant Gallery in Miami, the Govinda Gallery in Washington, the Milan Gallery in Ft. Worth, Texas, and the Garth Davidson Gallery in Moorestown, N.J.

It was Steve's high school football games in Philadelphia that gave Ed his only experience filming sports before he won the rights to chronicle the 1962 NFL championship game.

"This is a sad day for football fans everywhere," Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said. "As someone who grew up watching NFL Films creations, I can attest to Steve's vision and contribution to the incredible popularity of this sport. His, along with his father, Ed's, creativity and passion for the game cultivated many, many avid fans."