Illini lose to Minnesota-still winless in Big Ten

Illinois Fighting Illini

MINNEAPOLIS—Kobe McCrary ran for 153 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, and Rodney Smith added 103 yards rushing for Minnesota as the Gophers beat Illinois 24-17 victory on Saturday.Linebacker Jon Celestin returned an interception for a touchdown in the fourth to provide the winning margin for Minnesota (4-3, 1-3 Big Ten). The Gophers ran for 292 yards as a team and held the Illini (2-5, 0-4) to 282 total yards.Illinois sophomore quarterback Jeff George Jr. was 18-of-23 passing for 128 yards with a late touchdown pass to freshman receiver Ricky Smalling. Freshman running back Ra’Von Bonner had 18 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown.Minnesota opened the game with a 72-yard drive for a touchdown, with 64 of the yards coming on the ground. Demry Croft finished the drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Johnson.Croft earned the starting job over senior Conor Rhoda after sparking Minnesota with three fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Johnson in last week’s loss to No. 18 Michigan State. The sophomore quarterback was 5-of-15 passing for 47 yards on Saturday and threw two interceptions.Both offenses would have trouble, despite the two defenses allowing the second-most and third-most rushing yards per game in the Big Ten during conference games.The Illini scored 10 points off turnovers, creating three on the day and finishing a plus-1 in turnover-margin.A big missed opportunity on Saturday leaves Illinois still looking for its first Big Ten victory and backup quarterback Cam Thomas became the 21st true freshman to play for the Illini this season. The least experienced team in college football with 14 true freshmen starters, Illinois is simply learning on the job this season.The schedule does provide a chance to get a conference win at some point, with a road game at Purdue and home games against Indiana and Northwestern. But it won’t be easy for a team so green and without an offensive identity. The up-and-down nature of the Gophers’ running game continues, but perhaps they found something to build on. Minnesota had twice been held under 100 yards rushing as a team in three Big Ten games.Despite Shannon Brooks missing the game with an injury, McCrary and Smith both rushed for over 100 yards and the Gophers had the two-headed rushing attack they had last season when they won nine games under former coach Tracy Claeys.

Cats beat Iowa 17-10 in Overtime

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EVANSTON—Quarterback Clayton Thorson scored on a 1-yard run and Northwestern rallied from a sluggish first half for a 17-10 overtime victory over Iowa on Saturday.Thorson’s score was set up by a 23-yard reception by running back Justin Jackson, who broke three tackles on the play to give the Wildcats (4-3, 2-2 in the Big Ten) a first down at the 1-yard line.

”Probably the difference in the game,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said of Jackson’s reception. ”A great player making a big-time play.”

Following Northwestern’s score, Iowa moved the ball to the 18-yard line, but Nate Stanley’s pass for Noah Fant on a fourth-and-3 play fell incomplete, ending the game.Thorson finished 21 of 36 for 192 yards. Jackson rushed for 93 yards rushing on 25 attempts and had five receptions for 38 yards. Jackson now has 4,732 career yards to pass Anthony Davis (Wisconsin) for eighth place on the Big Ten’s all-time rushing list.Stanley was 19 of 33 for 223 yards with a touchdown and an interception and Akrum Wadley rushed for 90 yards on 26 carries to lead Iowa (4-3, 1-3).Iowa, which averaged 138.7 yards rushing before Saturday, was held to 89 yards.

”We’re a better team when we can run the ball efficiently,” coach Kirk Ferentz. ”It’s always been that way. That is our plan, that’ll continue to be our plan. We’ll try to do a better job there.”

The Hawkeyes tied the score at 10 on kicker Miguel Recinos’ 48-yard field goal with 1:30 remaining in regulation. Iowa won the coin toss before overtime and decided to play defense first.

”I thought today was just a great Big Ten defensive battle,” Fitzgerald said. ”I think two really good defenses, two really physical football teams just went toe-to-toe.”

Iowa middle linebacker Josey Jewell – the conference leader in tackles entering the weekend with 70 – didn’t play because of a shoulder injury. Free safety Brandon Snyder (knee) also was held out. The Hawkeyes thrived on defense early in spite of the losses, but seemed to wear down.The Wildcats were shut out in the first half and then went three-and-out – losing 5 yards in the process – on the first offensive possession of the second half. But the game’s momentum may have swung when NU punter Hunter Niswander got off an 80-yard punt to pin Iowa back to its 3-yard line. The Hawkeyes had to punt after five plays. The Wildcats then put together 12-play, 66-yard touchdown to tie the score at 7.The Wildcats host Michigan State on Saturday.

Hawks power play bad, Oilers steal 2-1 OT win.

The Edmonton Oilers haven’t gotten off to the start they wanted – and just about everyone expected.On Thursday night, they used sharp goaltending from Cam Talbot, a more energetic effort and a late break to inch in the right direction.Mark Letestu scored on a power play with 15.8 seconds left in overtime to give Edmonton a 2-1 victory over the Blackhawks that snapped a four-game losing streak.Letestu beat Anton Forsberg on the short side with a one-time shot from the left circle after taking a pass from Oscar Klefbom. Edmonton’s 4-on-3 advantage was set up after Patrick Kane was called for hooking at 3:45.

”Our goaltender was solid and our power-play got us the big goal,” Letestu said. ”(It’s) certainly nice to finally have a complete game like that and beat a team like this.”

The Oilers are 2-4 so far, after surging to 103 points and back into the playoffs last season. During the four-game slide, Edmonton was outscored 19-8.

”We’re still digging the sand off our bodies. We’ve got to keep going,” coach Todd McLellan said.

Talbot made 30 straight saves after giving up a fluke goal to Kane on the Hawks first shot.
”It wasn’t the way I wanted to start the game,” Talbot said. ”I had to settle down mentally. I felt pretty comfortable out there.”

Edmonton’s Patrick Maroon scored late in the first period.Edmonton’s Connor McDavid had two assists, including setting up Maroon with a sensational spinning move and pinpoint backhand pass. McDavid has five assists in his last four games, but last season’s MVP and leading scorer doesn’t have a goal since netting all three in Edmonton’s season-opening 3-0 victory over Calgary.Talbot, who led NHL goalies in games and minutes last season, had been pulled twice as he started Edmonton’s first four games this season. Backup Laurent Brossoit started Edmonton’s fifth contest, a 5-3 home loss to Carolina on Tuesday night.Anton Forsberg stopped 40 shots in his second start this season, but the Blackhawks lost their second straight and third in four games. No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford got the night off following a 5-2 loss at St. Louis on Wednesday night.Forsberg has hard-luck overtime losses in both of this starts. He faced 43 shots in a 4-3 defeat at Toronto on Oct. 9.

”He’s been excellent in both games,” coach Joel Quenneville said. ”Got it to overtime. It would have been nice to get him a win tonight.”

The Hawks failed to convert five power plays, including a 56-second 5-on-3 advantage.

”That was a chance to get a huge goal for us on the power play,” Quenneville said. ”A lot of close looks, but no finish.”

Kane opened the scoring 7:33 in. From the right side of crease, Kane flipped a soft backhander toward Talbot, and the puck ticked off the goalie’s stick and right pad before settling into the net.Talbot bounced back to stop Jonathan Toews on a breakaway moments later and Duncan Keith’s point-blank one-timer at 9:00.Maroon’s tap-in goal, converting McDavid’s nifty pass, tied with 2:42 left in the period.McDavid moved in against Keith, shuffled and then dished across the crease to Maroon, who connected after slipping past defenseman Brent Seabrook.Talbot maintained his focus into the scoreless second and during three Hawk power plays early in the period, including the 5-on-3 Blackhawks advantage. He made several close-in stops, including on Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad and Toews. Kane clanked a shot off the crossbar during one flurry.Forsberg denied McDavid, Anton Slepyshev and Brad Malone at the doorstep late in the period to keep it tied.Both goalies made several tough saves in the third.Forsberg stopped Kailer Yamamoto point-blank three times late in the period. Talbot got a piece of Toews’ shot from the slot with 7:13 remaining, then the puck trickled just wide of the right post.Talbot and Forsberg were both sharp overtime.

Big second quarter leads Raptors past Bulls in Opener

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TORONTO—Newcomer C.J. Miles got Toronto’s bid to become a better 3-point shooting team off to a successful start.Jonas Valanciunas had 23 points and 15 rebounds, Miles scored 22 points in his Toronto debut and the Raptors beat the short-handed Bulls 117-101 on Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.Norman Powell added 15 points, Delon Wright had 13, and Kyle Lowry 12.Miles went 6 for 9 from 3-point range and had five rebounds. Half of the former Indiana Pacers player’s points came in the second quarter during a 22-2 run by Toronto’s second unit.

”I want to be able to be that spark,” Miles said, ”come in and communicate, bring energy.”

DeMar DeRozan found a lot to like in his first game with Miles as a teammate.

”It’s great to have him on our team doing it with us instead of against us,” DeRozan said.

The Raptors, who intend to boost their 3-point shooting and move the ball more this season, were 13 of 29 from long range and had 26 assists on 39 baskets. Lowry had nine assists, and DeRozan and Wright each had five.

”I loved the way the ball moved,” coach Dwane Casey. ”We’ve got to play that way.”

Playmaking proved an effective avenue for DeRozan on a night when he made just two of nine field goals and did not attempt a 3-pointer. DeRozan finished with 11 points, going 7 for 8 at the free throw line, and had six rebounds.Robin Lopez scored 18 points, rookie Lauri Markkanen had 17 points and eight rebounds in his NBA debut, and Justin Holiday scored 15.

”I thought Lauri was really good,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. ”For his first performance, coming out here on the road in a hostile environment, to go out and put up 17 and eight in his first NBA game is pretty impressive.”

Hoiberg said forward Nikola Mirotic is doing OK but is still sore two days after suffering facial fractures and a concussion in a practice fight with teammate Bobby Portis. The Bulls suspended Portis for eight games following the altercation. Mirotic is expected to be out from four to six weeks.With the Raptors up 25-23 after one quarter, Miles went 3 for 3 from 3-point range in Toronto’s decisive second-quarter spurt.”That was the key stretch of the game,” Hoiberg said. ”They got in the paint, spread out, his shots.”

NOTES—Zach LaVine (left knee) and G Kris Dunn (left index finger) both travelled to Toronto. Hoiberg said they are working out and participating in walk-throughs. … The Bulls were without G Cameron Payne (right foot).


AFC GAMES; Jax over INDY, NY Jets over MIA, Denv over LA Chargersm PITT over Cin
NFC GAMES: Ariz over LA RAMS, Dal over SF, Seat over NYG
INT-CONF GAMES: BUFF over T.Bay, Tenn over CLEVE
THUR NIGHT: K.City over OAK,
NFC NORTH GAMES: MINN over Balt, N.Orl over GB, Car over BEARS

Hawks flat in 5-2 loss in St.Louis

ST. LOUIS—Jaden Schwartz had his third career hat trick to help the St. Louis Blues beat the Blackhawks 5-2 on Wednesday night.Schwartz has four goals and six assists this season and has at least one point in six of the Blues’ first seven games. It was his 51st career multi-point game and fourth this season.Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and an assist, Kyle Brodziak also scored, and Jake Allen made 22 saves. The Blues snapped a two-game losing streakDuncan Keith and Ryan Hartman had late goals for Blackhawks, and Corey Crawford made 28 saves.Schwartz opened the scoring at 4:46 of the first period, tucking in a backhander off Tarasenko’s feed.Schwartz left the game eight minutes later after going awkwardly head-first into the boards after getting tangled with Richard Panik on a partial short-handed break.Schwartz returned in the second period, and gave the Blues a 2-0 lead at 5:59. Allen’s outlet pass off the boards created a 2-on-1 with Schwartz and Sammy Blais. It was Allen’s fourth career assist.Tarasenko made it 3-0 two minutes later, scoring his fifth of the season by stripping Artem Anisimov in front of the Blackhawk net.St. Louis outshot the Hawks 26-8 in the first two periods, including 17-4 in the second. The four shots in each of the first two periods were a season low for the Blackhawks in a period.Brodziak scored at 7:01 of the third. It was the first time this season the Blues’ third or fourth line scored.After Keith and Hartman scored for the Hawks, Schwartz completed the hat trick with an empty-net goal.

NOTES—Blackhawks television analyst Eddie Olczyk, who is battling colon cancer, received a standing ovation from the crowd of 18,752 after being recognized late in the first period. Olczyk was back in the booth for the first time since his diagnosis in August. … Blues F Alexander Steen (broken left hand) was activated from injured reserve and made his season debut. To make room, the Blues waived F Wade Megan. … Blues F Paul Stastny is one point shy of 600 for his career. … Blackhawks C Nick Schmaltz returned after missing four games…..The Blackhawks host Edmonton on Thursday night.

Bulls Mirotic & Portis get into fight during practice-Niko to miss several weeks.

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The Bulls issued a statement Tuesday acknowledging that forwards Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis were involved in a physical altercation during practice that left Mirotic with a concussion and maxillary fractures.

“Chicago Bulls forwards Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic had a physical altercation during today’s practice. As a result of the incident, Mirotic suffered a concussion and maxillary fractures. Surgery is likely required. Mirotic is out indefinitely. The Bulls are evaluating disciplinary action. An update will be provided when applicable.”

Mirotic was briefly hospitalized following the altercation with Portis. Mirotic stayed down for several minutes after the scuffle, early estimates on the injuries sustained from the altercation will keep him sidelined “a few weeks” following surgery.

A source who spoke to Mirotic after he was released from the hospital said the forward suffered two fractures and placed an early estimate for his absence at “a few weeks, at least.” He possibly will have to wear a mask upon that return.Mirotic left European basketball in 2014 to join the Bulls and resigned with the team this offseason. He has been teammates with Portis since 2015. Portis was selected with the 22nd overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Bulls. Reportably, the two players have been going at it for quite some time . This has been three years in the making, a source said. Mirotic has broken bones in his face, apparently instigated, and Portis punched him.Mirotic averaged 10.6 points and 5.5 rebounds while knocking down 41.3 percent of his shots last season. Portis averaged 6.8 points and 4.6 rebounds off the bench in his second season in the NBA. It remains to be seen if Portis or even the injured Mirotic will be suspended by the team for their disciplinary actions.

Bears stun Ravens in OT 27-24

BALTIMORE—When the Bears weigh the good and bad facets of their performance against the Baltimore Ravens, it’s likely they will come up with this conclusion: ‘Who cares? We won’. After blowing a 14-point lead, allowing two long kick returns and committing two turnovers, the Bears used a 40-yard field goal by Connor Barth in overtime to secure a 27-24 victory Sunday.

”You got to be able to take whatever situation you get and make something out of it,” defensive end Akiem Hicks said. ”I wanted to get a good W, go home and relax. The coming down to the wire thing is not my favorite style, but . however you get it, you just got to appreciate it.”

Jordan Howard ran for 167 yards, including a 53-yarder that set up the game-winning score for the Bears (2-4), whose two wins this season have come in overtime.Howard’s long run in OT put Chicago at the Baltimore 40. After rookie Mitchell Trubisky completed an 18-yard pass to Kendall Wright, Barth delivered the decisive kick.

”It wasn’t always perfect – it seldom is – but we’re just happy to get out of here with a win,” Bears coach John Fox said.

Making his first career start on the road, Trubisky directed a conservative game plan that leaned heavily on the run. The first-round draft pick completed 8 of 16 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.

”We took what the defense gave us,” the rookie said. ”The run game was working, so let’s keep pounding the rock.”

Howard had 36 carries and the Bears gained 231 yards on 54 attempts.

”Whatever it takes to win,” Fox stressed. ”This week, we had to run the ball – and we did.”

Baltimore (3-3) trailed 17-3 in the third quarter and 24-16 late in regulation before capitalizing on special teams play to get back in the game.Bobby Rainey took a kickoff 96 yards for a score to begin the comeback and Michael Campanaro brought back a punt 77 yards for a touchdown with 1:37 remaining. The 2-point conversion was successful , setting up overtime.

”Those two special teams touchdowns were huge,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

The Ravens weren’t the only ones to capitalize on big plays. The Bears used a halfback pass from Tarik Cohen to Zach Miller for a first-half score, and Adrian Amos returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown for a 24-13 lead with 5:08 left.Baltimore was in position for the go-ahead score when Amos got his first career interception on a pass that bounced off the chest of receiver Chris Moore, who was covered tightly by Kyle Fuller.The Bears forced three turnovers and frustrated quarterback Joe Flacco throughout the afternoon. Operating without injured receivers Jeremy Maclin (inactive) and Breshad Perriman (second-quarter concussion), Flacco went 24 for 41 for 180 yards with two interceptions.Trubisky put the Bears ahead 17-3 in the third quarter with an on-the-run, 27-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dion Sims, who outfought Tony Jefferson for the ball in the end zone.That put the Ravens in a precarious position, especially with a struggling offense.Rainey alleviated the pressure by taking the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown. After being tripped by a teammate, Rainey popped to his feet, broke right and went the distance.Campanaro did his part later, but it wasn’t enough.

”Sometimes your special teams kick in and score two touchdowns, which is great,” tight end Benjamin Watson said. ”But Chicago did a better job of closing than we did.”

The Ravens were coming off a 30-17 win in Oakland in which they did not commit a turnover, didn’t allow a sack and were penalized only once.In this one, Baltimore gave the ball away twice, permitted two sacks and was flagged five times – in the first half.The Ravens pretty much knew the Bears were going to run, and still the Bears did so – quite effectively.

”Too many yards rushing,” Harbaugh lamented. ”They blocked well, they had good backs that broke some tackles.”

Especially Howard.Bears DB Sherrick McManis left with a hamstring injury. … RB Benny Cunningham left with a hamstring injury.Sunday, the Bears host the Carolina Panthers, who will have a few extra days of rest after playing on Thursday night.

The Bears last win in Baltimore was December 5,1965 over the Colts at Memorial Stadium. This was obviously their first win ever over the Ravens in Baltimore.

Hawks rally past Preds on Saad’s OT goal

This time, the Blackhawks made a big play at a key moment against the Nashville Predators.Brandon Saad scored his sixth goal 3:05 into overtime, and the Blackhawks beat the Predators 2-1 on Saturday night in their first meeting since last year’s playoffs.Saad beat Pekka Rinne with a one-timed deflection as he cut across the crease from the left side, making the most of a pinpoint cross-ice pass from Patrick Kane.

”It always feels nice to contribute to wins,” Saad said. ”It was just a great pass. I hopped on the ice, and Kaner makes a great tic-tac-toe play.”

Corey Crawford had 37 saves for the Hawks, who wasted six power-play chances. The Blackhawks were swept by the Predators in the first round of the postseason last April.

”It’s a big win against them,” Crawford said. ”It’s kind of nice to beat them from last year, but it’s a new season.They’re a tough team to play against.”

Patrick Sharp scored with 5:36 left in the third period, spoiling Rinne’s shutout bid and sending the game to overtime.

”I think it was just tough sledding out there,” Sharp said. ”That’s a well-coached team, pretty disciplined through the neutral zone.We had to kind of grind it out a little bit.”

After Cody Franson held in a Nashville clearing attempt on the right boards, the puck bounded to rookie John Hayden. He fed Sharp to the right off the crease and the veteran forward beat Rinne with a backhander on the Blackhawks 26th shot.Filip Forsberg scored a power-play goal late in the second period for Nashville. It was his fifth goal in five games.The Predators picked up right where they left in the playoffs last year, shutting down the Hawks high-scoring attack. The Predators outscored the Blackhawks 13-3 in their playoff sweep in their first step on the way to the Stanley Cup Final.Rinne made 33 saves Saturday night, but wasn’t tested until late.The Predators played with a shuffled defense with Roman Josi and Yannick Weber out with short-term injuries. Ryan Ellis is sidelined until December following offseason knee surgery.Nashville dominated a scoreless first period while giving the Hawks limited space. The Predators kept up their close checking in the second and jumped in front on Forsberg’s goal on their 29th shot with 1:44 left in the period.P.K. Subban slid a low shot from the top of the slot through traffic toward Crawford. Scott Hartnell, parked in front in the crease, deflected the puck to the left side of the net and a wide-open Forsberg, who picked up his fourth goal in three games.Ryan Hartman shot wide on a breakaway at 8:32 of the second. Crawford stopped Viktor Arvidsson, alone at the edge of the crease with 30 second left in the period, to keep it at 1-0.

NOTES—Josi missed his third game injured. Weber sat out his first after taking a high hit on Thursday versus Dallas. … D Anthony Bitetto jumped in for his second game this season. … Nashville C Nick Bonino didn’t play in the third period, but Laviolette didn’t have an injury report postgame. … Nick Schmaltz missed his fourth game, but coach Joel Quenneville said the forward is close to returning. … Connor Murphy was a scratch for the second time in three games.


Cats win first ever meeting from Maryland as Jackson becomes all-time NU rushing leader

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COLLEGE PARK—With record-setting Justin Jackson leading the way, Northwestern got its groove back on offense and cruised to a much-needed victory.Jackson scored two touchdowns and ran for 171 yards to become the Wildcats’ career rushing leader , and Northwestern beat Maryland 37-21 Saturday for its first Big Ten win of the season.Jackson has 4,639 yards on the ground over four seasons at Northwestern. He moved past Damien Anderson (4,485) to the top of the school list and also supplanted Anderson as the Wildcats’ career leader in all-purpose yards with 5,350.

”It’s special with Justin. It’s unbelievable,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said. ”I think at times we all take for granted special players just because they’re so consistent. But it seems like just yesterday that Justin came into our program, and now to have him at this mark, I’m incredibly proud of him and honored to be his coach.”

Clayton Thorson completed 27 of 49 passes for 293 yards and a touchdown to help the Wildcats (3-3, 1-2) avoid their first 0-3 start in the conference since 2013.Northwestern ran 93 plays and amassed 531 yards in a reversal of form following last week’s 31-7 loss at home to Penn State.

”Great job bouncing back by our offense, especially our offensive line,” Fitzgerald said. ”I think they shut the noise off and went to work.”

Jackson gave credit for his record to the offensive line, most notably center Brad North.

”It means a ton doing it with these guys around me,” Jackson said. ”Brad has been my center for three years, so it’s very cool to have some consistency back there.”

D.J. Moore had career highs with 12 catches and 210 yards receiving for Maryland (3-3, 1-2).Max Bortenschlager went 17 for 38 for 255 yards and three touchdowns (two to Moore) in his third college start. He was returning from a hard hit to the helmet that put him on the sideline for the fourth quarter last week in a 62-14 loss to Ohio State.

Bortenschlager started the season as the Terrapins’ third-string quarterback but became the starter after Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill sustained season-ending knee injuries.The defense, however, allowed 30 first downs and the Wildcats turned 10 third downs into a new set of downs.