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College football Week 1 winners, losers, overreactions: Georgia remains top dog, Texas A&M has a ways to go

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College football Week 1 winners, losers, overreactions: Georgia remains top dog, Texas A&M has a ways to go

Week 1 of the college football season technically started a week ago, but Saturday marked the first full day of action across the country. With regional rivalries producing some of the best outcomes of the weekend, the full-fledged debut marked a refreshing change from a lengthy offseason full of off-field headlines. 

Old Dominion shocked Virginia Tech 20-17 in Brent Pry’s debut on Friday night. Then, in a Saturday matchup dubbed as the biggest home game in its history, Appalachian State gave North Carolina everything it could handle before falling 63-61 on a failed 2-point conversion. UTSA’s 2-point conversion also failed in a 37-35 triple-overtime loss to No. 24 Houston in front of a packed house, just days after Cougars coach Dana Holgorsen accused the Roadrunners of pumping crowd noise into the Alamodome. Finally, East Carolina missed an extra point and a field goal to lose a 21-20 heartbreaker to No. 13 NC State. 

Of course, there was plenty of big-time national action to go around, too. No. 2 Ohio State survived No. 5 Notre Dame 21-10 in a heavyweight prize fight. Florida upset No. 7 Utah 29-26 behind a late touchdown from quarterback Anthony Richardson. And No. 3 Georgia leveled No. 11 Oregon in Atlanta 49-3. 

The soaring highs and deathly lows of college football were on full display during an opening weekend that featured the nastiest regional rivalries in the country taking center stage. After another offseason of realignment and playoff chatter in the headlines, Week 1 was a perfect palate cleanser. 

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Here are the winners, losers and overreactions from Week 1 of the college football season.

Winners

Georgia: Rumors of Georgia’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, it seems. Despite losing an astonishing 15 players to the NFL Draft, the Bulldogs didn’t miss a step in dispatching Oregon. Georgia became just the second team in college football history to score a touchdown on its first seven drives against an AP Top 25 squad. Quarterback Stetson Bennett IV had a career-best 368 passing yards, while 15 different defenders had multiple tackles. The Bulldogs war machine remains fully operational. 

Arizona wide receiver Jacob Cowing Maybe the most underrated offensive player in the country last year after posting 1,354 yards receiving and carrying a moribund UTEP program to bowl eligibility, Cowing appears ready to do the same for the Wildcats one year later. The Maricopa, Arizona, native caught eight passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns in his first game as a Wildcat to lead a 38-20 victory over San Diego State. It was the first road victory for Arizona since Oct. 5, 2019, against Colorado. 

Florida coach Billy Napier: There aren’t many better ways to start a coaching tenure than picking up a victory against a top-10 opponent. The Gators hit all the right notes en route to an upset of No. 7 Utah thanks to a dominant rushing performance from quarterback Anthony Richardson. Suddenly, Florida doesn’t look like an afterthought in the SEC East race. The rivalry game with Georgia on Oct. 29 should be circled. Napier became the first coach in Gators history to beat a ranked opponent in his first game with the program.

Losers

NC State QB Devin Leary: Expectations were high for Leary as the Wolfpack entered the year with their highest preseason ranking since Lou Holtz led the program in 1975. However, Leary’s effort against East Carolina leaves me concerned that a new room of offensive players won’t be easy fits in Raleigh. Leary completed barely half of his 33 passes for 211 yards and 6.4 yards per pass attempt. He threw a bad interception that ECU later converted into a touchdown that should have tied the game if not for a missed extra point. If the Wolfpack are to be true ACC contenders, Leary has to be much better to complement an experienced defense. 

Texas A&M’s offensive line: The Aggies went through growing pains up front on offense last season, but there was hope the unit could find its groove in 2022 as part of a team with playoff aspirations. Despite beating Sam Houston 31-0, however, the Aggies offense posted only 3.4 yards per carry and allowed several pressures. With Appalachian State and No. 16 Miami coming to town in the next couple of weeks, the effort has to get better. 

Week 1 Overreactions

Ohio State’s offense has cracks: Heading into Week 1, there were three teams with outsized expectations to win the national championship: Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State. The aforementioned Bulldogs put together one of the most impressive victories over a ranked opponent in recent memory, and Alabama played a perfect football game against Utah State. 

And then there was Ohio State, which needed a handful of miraculous plays from quarterback C.J. Stroud down the stretch to create any offense against Notre Dame. Granted, the Buckeyes had the toughest matchup of the weekend, but they looked eminently mortal following the injury to star wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Notre Dame’s defense dictated the game for much of the night. 

There’s a chance Ohio State can grow out of these struggles, especially as Jim Knowles’ defense gets more comfortable. However, any notion that Ohio State is a flawless title contender in the vein of Alabama or Georgia looks wishful so far. 

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Pac-12 is cooked: Last season, UCLA picked up a massive helmet-sticker victory over LSU in the Rose Bowl. The Tigers ended up being awful, but it didn’t matter; beating LSU launched the Bruins to No. 13 in the national rankings and helped bring credibility to the Pac-12 as a whole. 

One year later, Cameron Rising’s ill-advised interception in a loss to Florida is poised to do exactly the opposite. The Utes were selected at the top of the Pac-12 preseason polls and considered the favorite from the league to make the College Football Playoff. However, losing to the Gators once again puts a leading Pac-12 team behind the 8-ball when it comes to the playoff picture. One win or loss doesn’t make a season, but the benefit of the doubt simply isn’t there for the “Conference of Champions.” 

That loss, mixed with the Ducks’ embarrassment in Atlanta, leaves No. 14 USC as the only unblemished Pac-12 playoff contender. Good luck. 

Rivalries remain king: There was no better setting to kick off Week 1 than the banks of the Ohio River as the Backyard Brawl emerged from the ashes after an 11-year absence. In every way, No. 17 Pitt’s come-from-behind victory over West Virginia was the perfect table-setter for college football’s full 2022 debut. 

More than 70,000 people attended the game at Acrisure Stadium – still Heinz Field in our hearts – the biggest crowd in Pittsburgh sports history … and that’s quite a sports city. Legendary players like Pitt’s Tony Dorsett and West Virginia’s Adam “Pacman” Jones graced the sidelines. The dang stadium ran out of beer as bitter enemies of city and country, separated by just 75 miles, converged. 

Most importantly, the game ended in the wackiest way possible with Pitt’s M.J. Devonshire snatching a ball that bounced off West Virginia’s Bryce Ford-Wheaton’s hands and returned it 56 yards for a pick six. The moment was as gratifying for the victors as it was horrifying for the losers. 

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Panthers outlast Hurricanes in 4th OT in 6th-longest game in NHL history

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Panthers outlast Hurricanes in 4th OT in 6th-longest game in NHL history

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers seemed determined to keep playing. And playing. And playing.

The teams opened their Eastern Conference final playoff series with Florida’s 3-2 victory in four overtimes early Friday, with the game ranking as the sixth-longest game in NHL history.

Matthew Tkachuk’s goal came at the 19:47 mark of the fourth OT to end this one, which marked the 15th four-overtime game in NHL history and the longest game in franchise history for each team.

The longest game in NHL history came on March 24, 1936, when the Detroit Red Wings beat the Montreal Maroons 1-0 in the sixth overtime on Mud Bruneteau’s goal at 116 minutes, 30 seconds of extra play.

Florida’s previous record for longest game was 104:31 in Game 4 of the 1996 Stanley Cup final against Colorado. Carolina’s previous record was 114:47 for Game 3 of the 2002 Stanley Cup final.

The only good news for the teams is they had an extended break before this series began. Carolina closed out New Jersey exactly a week earlier, while Florida eliminated Toronto a day later.

But this game ended roughly six hours after Thursday night’s puck drop, and the teams have a Game 2 in less than 48 hours.

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AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Barcelona says probe found no evidence of corruption by club

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Barcelona says probe found no evidence of corruption by club

MADRID (AP) — The investigation ordered by Barcelona into its controversial payments for refereeing reports found no evidence of corruption by the club, president Joan Laporta said Monday.

Laporta reiterated that the club’s payments over several years to the company owned by the vice president of Spain’s refereeing committee were only for technical reports and not to influence referees. He said he believed there were no ethics breach and that Barcelona was the victim of a campaign to hurt its reputation.

“This is one of the most ferocious attacks in our history,” Laporta said. “I ask FC Barcelona supporters to be as united as ever in defense of our crest, our essence, and our ownership model. No campaign to discredit us will prevent us from continuing to be an organization of reference in the world of sports that is beloved and admired by millions of Catalans and by many more millions of people around the world.”

It was the first time Laporta spoke at a news conference to give explanations after it became public that the club paid 7.3 million euros ($8 million) from 2001-18 to the company of then committee vice president José María Enríquez Negreira. Prosecutors have accused Barcelona of alleged corruption in sports, fraudulent management, and falsification of mercantile documentation.

Barcelona opened the probe to look into the actions of all the different presidential administrations that made payments over the years, including Laporta’s first at the club. The investigation was conducted by an external company.

The club said the probe found that “no conducts of a criminal nature associated to sporting corruption have been identified, nor are there any grounds to investigate any form of criminal activity associated to bribery.” It added there was “official documentation on the invoices and payments” for the services of “scouting and advice regarding referees, which are common practices in the professional sports sector.”

“Consulting on technical-refereeing issues does not constitute any type of illegal act,” Laporta said. “Consulting, as is done by the big clubs, that was carried out transparently, with the corresponding invoices, at least in my first mandate as president.”

The probe found 629 technical refereeing reports and 43 CDs that the club received over 18 years for what Laporta called “market price.” More reports were likely lost over time, he said.

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“I reiterate with all my resolve, I am convinced that FC Barcelona has not committed any crime of sports-related corruption. I hope that sooner rather than later, it is fully exonerated,” he said. “Accusations must be proven. We live by the rule of law, which guarantees among its basic principles the presumption of innocence.”

He said that if there were any irregularities committed by Negreira, Barcelona would be a victim of them. He also said Negreira was not in a position to directly influence referees, and that it was Negreira’s son who actually produced the refereeing reports.

“I dare anyone to show an instance in which Barcelona was favored in a match because of these payments,” Laporta said. “We will allow the justice system to do its work and I’m sure that Barcelona will be cleared. I am fully convinced that FC Barcelona has never performed any act with the intention of altering the competition to gain an advantage.”

The Spanish league, Real Madrid and other clubs have been among those taking part in the legal proceedings against Barcelona. Laporta criticized league president Javier Tebas for making accusations against Barcelona, and also took a shot at rival Madrid.

“Everyone knows that Real Madrid is a club that is historically favored by refereeing mistakes,” he said.

Laporta said Barcelona has always been a club that takes pride in its values, and it would never want to win anything with outside help.

“Throughout its 123-year history, FC Barcelona has always been a model of fair play, both on and off the field,” he said. “If we have won for so many decades, it has undoubtedly been a result of effort, talent and knowledge.”

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Silicon Valley councilman indicted in 49ers report leak

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Silicon Valley councilman indicted in 49ers report leak

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Silicon Valley city councilman has been charged with perjury after he allegedly lied about leaking a grand jury report to the San Francisco 49ers last year that detailed a purportedly unethical relationship between the team and the city council, prosecutors said Friday.

Santa Clara City Councilmember Anthony Becker is accused of providing the secret report titled “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Santa Clara City Council” to the team’s former top spokesperson and a local media outlet in 2022, days ahead of its official release.

Becker then allegedly lied to the grand jury about the leak, prosecutors said, prompting the criminal charges.

The 49ers play in Levi’s Stadium in the city of Santa Clara, about 35 miles (56.33 kilometers) south of San Francisco. Santa Clara County is broadly considered home to Silicon Valley.

The city of Santa Clara owns the stadium and leases it to the team; fighting between the two groups has led to ethics complaints, legal disputes and years of bad blood.

Al Guido, the team’s president, and Larry MacNeil, the former CFO who worked extensively on the team’s stadium project, were named in the indictment as witnesses who spoke to the criminal grand jury for Becker’s indictment.

“The 49ers have cooperated fully with the District Attorney’s Office in their investigation, and will continue to do so,” team spokesperson Brian Brokaw said in a statement Friday. “However, because this is an ongoing legal matter, the organization is not able to make any further comment at this time.”

Prosecutors say the team has bankrolled Becker’s political career by spending $3.2 million through independent expenditure committees for his 2020 city council race, which he won, as well as his unsuccessful 2022 mayoral bid.

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The “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” report alleged that Becker and four other councilmembers regularly voted “in a manner that is favorable to the 49ers” and would routinely meet with the team’s lobbyists but not disclose what was discussed.

Becker faces a felony charge of perjury under oath, as well as a misdemeanor charge of willful failure to perform duty. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.

Becker did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday, and it was not clear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

“Councilmember Becker violated the public’s trust,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. “That an elected official would commit perjury and lie under oath before the grand jury strikes at the very heart of our justice system and requires accountability.”

Representatives for the Santa Clara City Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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