Here is the latest Mid-America sports news from The Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The only member of the Kansas City Chiefs that was available and willing to discuss LeVeon Bell happened to be defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who won't have much of anything to do with him. The Chiefs follow a strict schedule for making coaches and players available to reporters, and coach Andy Reid, general manager Brett Veach and Bell weren't available Friday. But even though offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy likewise refused to discuss Bell's impending arrival, Spagnuolo recalled his time trying to stop the two-time All-Pro and said: "I'm sure our offensive guys will be glad to have him."
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas forward Silvio de Sousa is opting out of the upcoming college basketball season, potentially ending what has been one of the most controversial tenures of anybody to have joined coach Bill Self's blueblood program. Self said in a statement that de Sousa was opting out to "focus on matters in his personal life." Self added that it became clear in recent workouts that de Sousa was distracted, and after the two of them talked recently, "it was clear this was the best decision for him and Kansas basketball to leave the program."
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas coach Les Miles has been cleared to return to the Jayhawks after his positive test for COVID-19. But out of caution the 66-year-old coach has decided to skip the team's trip to West Virginia for Saturday's game. Miles announced last week that routine testing had returned a positive test. He experienced only mild symptoms while he was quarantining, and he was able to work remotely with the Jayhawks during their bye week. Tight ends coach Joshua Eargle will handle head-coaching duties against the Mountaineers, freeing offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot to focus on their sides of the ball.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Southeastern Conference postponed next week's game between Missouri and No. 10 Florida. It's the third league contest moved this week because of COVID-19 outbreaks. The Tigers and Gators will now play Oct. 31. Kentucky and Missouri had been scheduled to play that day, but that game will now be played next Saturday, Oct. 24. Kentucky had been scheduled to play at Georgia that day, but it moves to Halloween. The Gators had at least 21 players and coaches test positive for the coronavirus and dozens more quarantined because of contract tracing.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Clint Bowyer would not have picked 2020 to be his final season as a NASCAR driver. But he's chosen to make 2020 his final year and will move to the Fox Sports booth next season. Bowyer would have preferred a proper send-off with fans at races and his family and friends along for the final ride. He would have tried for another season if the television job was not offered. In moving to the booth, Bowyer will have a long second career in the sport. His farewell begins Sunday at home track Kansas Speedway.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Bret Holmes couldn't chase down Cory Heim as the sun set on the ARCA Series finale at Kansas Speedway. It didn't really matter. The 23-year-old from Munford, Alabama, clinched the series championship over Michael Self by finishing second on Friday night. Holmes began the race eight points clear of Michael Self, who had some mechanical issues that put him one lap down early, and only raced for the lead a couple of restarts but otherwise was content to stay out of trouble.
UNDATED (AP) — The COVID-19 pandemic is packing a punch in college football this week. Alabama coach Nick Saban tested positive and won't be on the sideline for his team's game against Georgia. Three games involving Top 10 teams have been postponed. We won't get a better read on No. 7 Oklahoma State, which was supposed to visit Baylor and now is looking at three weeks between games. No. 8 Cincinnati's game at Tulsa has been scratched. LSU at No. 10 Florida also is off, meaning the struggling defending champion Tigers will stew over their loss at Missouri awhile longer.
Update on the latest sports
Astros force Game 7
UNDATED (AP) — The Houston Astros have forced a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series, three days after falling behind three-games-to-none.
The Astros put together a four-run fifth and coasted to a 7-4 win over Tampa Bay. Houston trailed 1-0 until George Springer poked a two-run single and scored on Jose Altuve's (al-TOO'-vayz) double.
Carlos Correa finished with three hits, including an RBI single to complete the fifth-inning rally.
Kyle Tucker padded Houston's lead with a leadoff homer in the sixth and added a sacrifice fly.
Manuel Margot (mahn-WEHL' mahr-GOH') drove in three with a pair of homers for the Rays after the Astros went ahead, 7-1.
Astros starter Framber (FRAHM'-bur) Valdez was outstanding over six innings, limiting the Rays to a run and two hits while striking out nine. Valdez blanked Tampa Bay after Willy Adames (ah-DAH'-mehs) hit an RBI double in the second.
Blake Snell took the loss, yielding two runs and three hits in four-plus innings.
The Astros are the second team to force a Game 7 in a best-of-7 series after dropping the first three contests.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers are about to force a Game 6 in the National League Championship Series. They led the Braves, 7-2 in the bottom of the eighth.
Atlanta led 2-1 until Los Angeles scored three times in both the sixth and seventh innings. Will Smith put L.A. ahead by launching a three-run homer off Atlanta's Will Smith. Corey Seager gave the Dodgers a five-run cushion with his second homer of the night, a two-run blast that followed an RBI single by Mookie Betts.
Ex-Angels employee indicted in Tyler Skaggs' fatal overdose
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A federal grand jury has indicted a former Los Angeles Angels director of communications in Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs' fatal drug overdose. The indictment Thursday in Fort Worth charges Eric Prescott Kay with drug distribution and drug conspiracy.
Skaggs was found dead in his suburban Dallas hotel room on July 1, 2019, before a game against the Texas Rangers.
A coroner says Skaggs choked to death on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the drugs fentanyl and oxycodone in his system.
AP source: Patriots cancel practice, positive COVID-19 test
UNDATED (AP) — A person familiar with the decision tells The Associated Press that the New England Patriots canceled practice Friday after a member of the organization tested positive for COVID-19. The person didn't reveal whether it was a player or a coach.
New England is scheduled to host Denver on Sunday. The game has already been postponed twice because of four positive coronavirus tests by players, including quarterback Cam Newton cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
Earlier Friday, the Indianapolis Colts closed their practice facility after several people tested positive for COVID-19. But retests came back negative and the building reopened.
The Cleveland Browns, who played the Colts on Sunday, said they had zero positive tests Friday morning and their building was open. The Colts host the Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday.
The Atlanta Falcons resumed in-person work at their facility Friday under more stringent safety measures. The team closed the building Thursday following a second positive test for COVID-19. One player tested positive earlier in the week. A team spokesman said the second person was not a player. The Falcons are scheduled to play at Minnesota on Sunday.
In other NFL coronavirus developments:
— The Panthers have placed guard/center Tyler Larsen on the reserve/COVID-19 list, five days after he played against the Falcons. Falcons defensive tackle Marlon Davidson was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday after Carolina defeated Atlanta 23-16. Larsen didn't start for the Panthers in that game, but did see action as a reserve.
— Odell Beckham Jr. missed another practice with the Browns due to COVID-19 protocols. Beckham's status remains uncertain after Cleveland's star wide receiver was kept away from the team's facility Friday for the second straight day. Beckham tested negative for coronavirus Friday, but league guidelines say he can't rejoin his teammates and practice until he has a second negative test within a 24-hour period. He's listed as questionable for Sunday's game against Pittsburgh.
— The Arizona Department of Health Services is permitting the Cardinals to host a crowd of up to 1,200 people for the team's next home game against the Seahawks on Oct. 25. Seats will be available to those with season tickets based on order of account seniority. Masks are mandatory.
— Maryland has given approval to the Ravens and Washington Football Team to sell a limited number of tickets.
Falcons' Jones returns to practice
UNDATED (AP) — Seven-time Pro Bowl receiver Julio Jones returned to practice as a limited participant Friday and hopes to play Sunday when the Falcons visit the Vikings.
Jones has played just one half of the last three games because of a hamstring injury. Friday marked the first day he was able to get on the field in the last two weeks.
NFL leading rusher Dalvin Cook will sit out Minnesota's game against Atlanta because of a groin injury, giving Alexander Mattison the opportunity for his first career start at running back.
In other NFL injury news:
— Packers coach Matt LaFleur says wide receiver Davante Adams and defensive tackle Kenny Clark will be "ready to go" Sunday at Tampa Bay. Both players have missed multiple games with injuries.
— The Lions have ruled out cornerback Desmond Trufant for Sunday's game at Jacksonville and have put tight end Hunter Bryant on injured reserve. Trufant is out with a hamstring injury. Bryant has dealt with hamstring and concussion issues.
Mustangs rally yo stay unbeaten
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — SMU fought off an upset bid before keeping their perfect record intact.
Brandon Crossley ended the first overtime possession with an interception and Chris Naggar (nah-GAHR') made a 34-yard field goal to give the 17th-ranked Mustangs a 37-34 victory over Tulane.
Crossley intercepted Tulane freshman Michael Pratt's pass to put the Mustangs in position to win with the field goal.
The Green Wave rallied to force overtime on Merek Glover's 27-yard field goal with 1:30 left.
After Tulane took a 31-27 lead early in the fourth quarter on Pratt's 7-yard touchdown, the Mustangs pulled ahead, 34-31 on Shane Buechele's (boo-SHEHLZ') 10-yard pass to Danny Gray.
Buechele completed 23 of 37 passes for 384 yards and two touchdowns for the 5-0 Mustangs.
In other top-25 action:
— Zach Wilson threw four touchdowns and finished 25 of 35 for 400 yards as No. 14 BYU rallied for a 43-26 win at Houston. Dax Milne caught nine passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns to help BYU improve to 5-0 for the first time since 2008. Down 12, Wilson found Milne for a 2-yard touchdown pass with 53 seconds remaining in the third.
Another SEC postponement
UNDATED (AP) — The Southeastern Conference has postponed next week's game between Missouri and No. 10 Florida, the third league contest moved this week because of COVID-19 outbreaks.
The Gators had at least 21 players and coaches test positive for the coronavirus and dozens more quarantined because of contract tracing. That left them with fewer than the conference-mandated 53 scholarship players available Saturday against defending national champion LSU.
Also in college football:
— Alabama coach Nick Saban has tested negative in a follow-up test for COVID-19, leaving open the possibility of a return to the sideline Saturday for the Georgia game. If he tests negative again Friday and Saturday, Saban would be allowed on the sidelines for the second-ranked Crimson Tide's game with No. 3 Georgia Saturday night.
Kings sign Byfield
UNDATED (AP) — The Los Angeles Kings have signed No. 2 overall draft pick Quinton Byfield to a three-year contract.
The 18-year-old Byfield is likely to play another year of junior hockey before he joins the NHL. But the Kings haven't ruled out anything with their top prospect before he attends his first training camp.
Byfield became the highest-drafted Black player in NHL history when Los Angeles chose him earlier this month.
In other NHL news:
— The Maple Leafs have signed 41-year-old forward Joe Thornton to a one-year, $700,000 contract. The six-time all star and 2006 Hart Memorial Trophy has played 1,636 regular-season games with the Bruins and San Sharks, collecting 420 goals and 1509 points. Thornton had seven goals and 31 points in 70 games for the Sharks last season.
Schauffele sizzles late to take CJ Cup lead
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Xander Schauffele (SHOW'-flee) dominated the back nine in taking a three-shot lead over Tyrrell Hatton in the second round of the PGA's CJ Cup.
Schauffele made seven birdies over an eight hole stretch, including six in a row. The birdie run gave him a career-best 29 on the back nine and an 8-under 64 for the day.
Hatton rallied to close with a pair of birdies for a 68 after entering the round with a one-stroke lead.
Russell Henley was another shot back at 10-under following a 68.
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS
First round of PGA Tour Champions postponed by rain
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The first round of the Dominion Energy Charity Classic was postponed Friday because of rain.
The 54-hole tournament at the Country Club of Virginia was to be Phil Mickelson's second start on the PGA Tour Champions. He won his debut on the over-50 tour at Ozarks National in August.
NCAA penalizes UMass for violations in basketball, tennis
UNDATED (AP) — The NCAA is stripping the University of Massachusetts of victories in men's basketball and women's tennis for overpaying 12 athletes about $9,100 in financial aid over three years.
The NCAA announced Friday it had imposed a two-year probation on UMass that will end October 2022, It's also vacating results involving athletes who received what were determined to be inappropriate benefits. UMass plans to appeal the committee's decision to vacate victories from 2014-17 that include 59 basketball wins and an Atlantic 10 Conference championship in women's tennis.
UMass plans to appeal the committee's decision.