Here is the latest Mid-America sports news from The Associated Press
UNDATED (AP) — The Southeastern Conference has had to postpone two games in the last three days because of positive COVID-19 tests, and now Alabama coach Nick Saban and his athletic director have tested positive ahead of the league's biggest regular-season showdown. For now, Saban says he'll be working from home with offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian overseeing the second-ranked Crimson Tide's preparations to play No. 3 Georgia on Saturday night. No. 10 Florida's game against defending national champion LSU was postponed Wednesday to tentatively Dec. 12 after the SEC postponed Missouri-Vanderbilt on Monday. T
UNDATED (AP) — Iowa is on its best five-year run in program history and Spencer Petras is expected to replace three-year starter Nate Stanley. The 6-foot-5, 231-pound sophomore will have plenty of experience around him. That includes what could be the best group of receivers in coach Kirk Ferentz's 22 seasons. Iowa's 47 wins since 2015 mark the team's best five-year run since the Hawks won 46 games from 1983-87. Only eight schools have won more games since 2015. Iowa opens the season Oct. 24 at Purdue.
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska enters year three under Scott Frost after going 9-15 his first two years. Hopes for a quick turnaround have faded since Frost suggested when he was hired the rest of the Big Ten might have to adjust to his up-tempo spread offense. The bravado has been replaced by quiet confidence. When safety Cam Taylor-Britt last spoke to reporters, he wore a hoodie with this message on the front: "Humble Over Hype." The Huskers, who are picked fourth in the Big Ten West, open the season Oct. 24 at No. 6 Ohio State.
UNDATED (AP) — The wait is almost over for the Big Ten. The ACC, Big 12 and SEC have been playing anywhere from three to five weeks during this pandemic-plagued college football season, and all the players and coaches around the Big Ten could do is watch. Ohio State coach Ryan Day called it torture. The eight-game conference-only schedule begins Oct. 23 with Illinois visiting No. 16 Wisconsin. The rest of the league gets started Oct. 24. No open dates are built into the schedule. Every team plays every week through Dec. 12 barring cancellations because of outbreaks of COVID-19.
UNDATED (AP) — The Southeastern Conference's reputation for fielding ferocious defenses is taking a hit in this most unusual and pandemic-altered season. Six SEC teams, including LSU and Florida, rank outside the top 50 in scoring defense and are allowing 32 or more points per game. Even Alabama is outside the top 40 in scoring defense. Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban says its harder to work on tackling or reacting offensive plays when practice time has been lost to the coronavirus pandemic. SEC coaches also tend agree that the spread, run-pass option offenses now proliferating in the SEC are harder to defend.
CHICAGO (AP) — The Los Angeles Angels have granted the Chicago White Sox permission to interview Hall of Famer Tony La Russa for their managing job. That's according to a person familiar with the situation who confirmed a USA Today report. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Angels typically do not comment on personnel matters. A three-time World Series-winning manager, the 76-year-old La Russa joined the Angels prior to this season as senior advisor of baseball operations. The White Sox and Rick Renteria agreed to split after a disappointing finish to a breakthrough season in which Chicago made the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Ryan Hollingshead scored in the 43rd minute, and FC Dallas snapped a four-match winless streak by topping Sporting Kansas City 1-0. FC Dallas returned after Sunday's game against the Minnesota United was postponed because of a couple of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Sporting Kansas City had won three in a row. Bryan Reynolds crossed to Hollingshead, who shot to the near post to beat diving goalkeeper Tim Melia. Melia finished with six saves.
Update on the latest sports
Dodgers blast Braves 15-3, score record 11 runs in 1st inning vs Braves in NLCS
ARLINGTON, TX (AP) — Los Angeles stormed to a 15-3 victory over Atlanta that cut its series deficit to 2-1 after posted the highest-scoring inning in postseason history with an 11-run first in Game 3 of the NL Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves.
The Braves last year allowed 10 runs in the first inning in the deciding Game 5 of the NL Division Series against St. Louis.
The slam by Muncy was the third homer in the inning, matching another LCS record. Joc Pederson and Edwin Rios homered earlier on consecutive pitches against Kyle Wright, the Braves starter who was done after nine of 15 batters.
Clayton Kershaw could start Game 4 of the NL Championship Series for the Dodgers if the left-hander's back continues to improve. Kershaw was scratched from his Game 2 start because of back spasms, and manager Dave Roberts decided to stick with left-hander Julio Urías for Game 3 against Atlanta on Wednesday night.
The Braves will start rookie right-hander Bryse Wilson, who has just seven professional starts and none in the postseason. He hasn't pitched since the regular season finale Sept. 27.
Cam expected to practice Thursday
UNDATED (AP) — The New England Patriots activated quarterback Cam Newton from the NFL's COVID-19 reserve list on Wednesday. Newton is expected to practice with the team on Thursday, which likely would lead to his starting on Sunday against Denver.
New England was 2-1 with Newton as its starter, then lost at Kansas City when he was sidelined after testing positive for the coronavirus. Newton had tested positive for the coronavirus on Oct. 2.
Three Patriots remain on the COVID-19 reserve list: cornerback Stephon Gilmore, defensive tackle Byron Cowart and practice squad DT Bill Murray.
In other NFL news:
— Arizona Cardinals All-Pro linebacker Chandler Jones is out for the season because of a biceps injury that requires surgery following an injury during the first half of the team's 30-10 win over the New York Jets on Sunday. The recovery time is expected to be three to four months. Candidates to replace Jones include Hasson Reddick, rookie Isaiah Simmons and backup Dennis Gardeck, who had his first two sacks against the Jets after Jones was hurt.
— The Carolina Panthers are taking enhanced precautions against the coronavirus following their exposure to Falcons defensive tackle Marlon Davidson during Sunday's win at Atlanta. The Falcons placed Davidson on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. Carolina has entered the NFL's "intensive protocol." Under the new protocols established this week, all coaches and staff must wear masks at practice and all players must wear a face shield or mask. Players can remove their helmets for breaks but must be more than 6 feet away from one another. Carolina plays the Bears on Sunday.
— Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield's ribs are still sore and he is being limited in practice as Cleveland prepares to play unbeaten Pittsburgh. Mayfield says his entire right side remains tender after he took a big hit in the fourth quarter of Sunday's win over the Colts. But he says he's confident he'll be ready for this week's AFC North matchup between the 4-1 Browns and the 4-0 Steelers. Case Keenum is Cleveland's No. 2 quarterback.
— Jimmy Garoppolo was back on the practice field for the San Francisco 49ers a few days after getting pulled at halftime because of a bum ankle and bad performance. The defending NFC champions will need more than just better play from their quarterback if they want to get back on track after losses at home the past two weeks.
— Former starting quarterback Dwayne Haskins remains away from the Washington Football Team because of an illness that's not considered COVID-19 related. Haskins was demoted from starter to third on the depth chart last week, so the plan was for him to be inactive against L.A. Kyle Allen is expected to start for Washington at the New York Giants this weekend with Alex Smith backing up.
— Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III wasn't at practice Wednesday after being cited for driving under the influence and speeding by Denver police the night before. Police records show Gordon was driving between 25 and 39 mph over the posted speed limit when he was pulled over in downtown Denver. Gordon joined the team last offseason when he signed a two-year free agent contract worth $16 million.
—The Jacksonville Jaguars will set an NFL record by using their fifth kicker in as many games when they host Detroit on Sunday. Only four teams have used five or more kickers in a single season, with the Los Angeles Chargers doing it most recently in 2017. But none of them switched it up weekly like Jacksonville has been forced to do because of injuries. Quarterback Gardner Minshew says "it's crazy." Jon Brown will make his NFL debut against the Lions, following Josh Lambo, Brandon Wright, Aldrick Rosas and Steven Hauschka.
— The next Super Bowl in New Orleans has been pushed back from 2024 to 2025 in order to avoid a conflict with the city's traditional Mardi Gras celebrations. The NFL announced the change Wednesday, saying it was approved by all 32 clubs during a virtual league meeting. New Orleans was initially named the 2024 host city in 2018, but the NFL's decision to lengthen the regular season schedule from 16 to 17 games in 2023 created a conflict in 2024 with Mardi Gras, which annually draws millions to the city for parades and balls during a several-week Carnival season that ends on "Fat Tuesday."
COLLEGE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Coastal Carolina knocks off No. 21 La.-Lafayette 30-27
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Massimo Biscardi made a 40-yard field goal with 4 seconds left to give Coastal Carolina a 30-27 victory over No. 21 Louisiana-Lafayette on Wednesday night in Sun Belt matchup of unbeaten teams. Freshman Grayson McCall threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score to help the Chanticleers beat a ranked team for the first time. The 4-0 start is their first in FBS play.
Coastal drove 60 yards in the final 5:30 to set up Biscardi. McCall was 17 of 24 for 202 yards. He has 11 TD passes in four games.
The Ragin' Cajuns rallied three times with tying touchdowns, two by Elijah Mitchell. His 1-yard burst with 12:44 left tied it at 27.
The Cajuns, who were one of only three Group of Five teams in the rankings, will likely drop out of the Top 25 poll. They may be replaced by the Chanticleers, who were seventh among teams receiving votes after getting poll votes for the first time in school history two weeks ago.
Coastal Carolina returns home to face Sun Belt East Division rival Georgia Southern on Saturday, Oct. 24.
SEC postpones LSU-Florida game as Gators deal with outbreak
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Southeastern Conference has postponed Saturday's game between No. 10 Florida and defending national champion LSU after the Gators had 19 players test positive for COVID-19. The game was tentatively rescheduled for Dec. 12, the league's built-in bye week before its title game.
It's the second SEC game bumped this week. Missouri-Vanderbilt already was postponed.
Florida hosts Missouri next, on Oct. 24, and that game also could be in jeopardy. LSU's next scheduled game is also Oct. 24, when the Tigers are slated to host South Carolina.
In other college sports news:
— Massimo Biscardi made a 40-yard field goal with 4 seconds left to give Coastal Carolina a 30-27 victory over No. 21 Louisiana-Lafayette on Wednesday night in Sun Belt matchup of unbeaten teams. Freshman Grayson McCall threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score to help the Chanticleers beat a ranked team for the first time. The 4-0 start is their first in FBS play. Coastal drove 60 yards in the final 5:30 to set up Biscardi. McCall was 17 of 24 for 202 yards. He has 11 TD passes in four games. The Ragin' Cajuns rallied three times with tying touchdowns, two by Elijah Mitchell. His 1-yard burst with 12:44 left tied it at 27.
— Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said his Rebels are dealing with their first COVID-19 issue of the season but they have enough players available to play. He didn't give any specifics. The Rebels are scheduled to visit Arkansas on Saturday. They're coming off a 63-48 loss to No. 2 Alabama.
— Alabama coach Nick Saban and athletic director Greg Byrne have tested positive for COVID-19, four days before the Southeastern Conference's biggest regular-season showdown. Both said their tests Wednesday morning came back positive, but Saban said he didn't have any symptoms by late afternoon. The second-ranked Crimson Tide is set to face No. 3 Georgia on Saturday, and may be without their iconic 68-year-old coach. Saban said he immediately left the football building to isolate at home.
— Conference USA has pushed its football championship game back two weeks. The switch to Dec. 18 gives the league additional time to make up any games postponed because of the coronavirus. The title game had been scheduled for Dec. 5. Three games matching C-USA opponents have been postponed the last two weeks. Two of those games included Rice, which is scheduled to play its season opener Oct. 24. The C-USA championship game matches the champions of the East and West divisions. The team with the highest league winning percentage hosts the game.
— Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte says he expects players to "stand together as a unified group" to show appreciation for the school and fans during the playing of the school song "The Eyes of Texas." The song has become a thorny controversy within the Texas program. Some players say they no longer want to sing it because of connections to racist elements in school history. Del Conte's remarks are the most forceful yet from the administration. Football coach Tom Herman has said he'll encourage players to join in but will respect those who didn't want to.
NCAA TOURNAMENT-FUTURE SITES
Vegas to host NCAA Tournament men's regional for first time
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Las Vegas will host an NCAA Tournament men's regional for the first time after the NCAA changed a policy that prevented states with sports wagering from hosting championships. The city will host the 2023 NCAA Tournament men's regional.
Nevada will host 11 events, including the 2026 men's Frozen Four, after the NCAA changed its stance on cities with sports betting last year.
Dayton, Ohio will continue to host the NCAA First Four through at least 2026. It has served as the site for the start of the NCAA Tournament since 2001.
The 2020 Final Four in Atlanta was wiped out by the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In other NCAA news:
— An NCAA proposal to permit college athletes to earn money from endorsements and sponsorships deals will go up for vote in January. But that will not be the last word on how name, image and likeness compensation will work. Federal lawmakers are still expected to weigh in. The Division I Council also approved a proposal that would permit all NCAA athletes to transfer one time without having to sit out a season of competition. Currently, football, basketball, baseball and hockey players must sit out a year after they transfer as an undergraduate. Athletes in other sports have already had access to a one-time exception. Both proposals will now go to membership for comment and feedback.
Wings fire Agler
UNDATED (AP) — The Dallas Wings have fired coach Brian Agler. He came to the Wings in 2018 and led the team to an 8-14 mark this past season. They finished one game out of making the playoffs with the youngest roster in the league. The 62-year-old coach had one year left on his contract. Agler won titles with Seattle and Los Angeles and is second on the league's career wins list with 287.
In other ice news:
— The Montreal Canadians have given a two-year contract extension to goaltender Jake Allen. The deal is worth $2.875 million per season and keeps Allen under contract through the 2022-23 season. Montreal acquired Allen in a trade with St. Louis on Sept. 2. The Canadians hope he can be a reliable backup to All-Star Carey Price. The 30-year-old Allen played 24 games with the Blues this past season and posted a 12-6-3 record with a 2.15 goals-against average and .927 save percentage and two shutouts.