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COLLEGE FOOTBALL-KICKOFF

National title chase begins

UNDATED (AP) — The college football season kicks off tonight with a pair of games involving top 25 teams.

No. 6 South Carolina opens up at home against North Carolina in a spotlight event that will showcase the Gamecocks defensive monster Jadeveon (jah-DAY'-vee-ahn) Clowney. The 6-foot-6, 274 pound defensive end is considered a presumptive No. 1 pick in next year's NFL draft after a 13-sack season last year and an SEC defensive player of the year honor. Just to add to the hype, he ran a 4.46 40-yard dash in the offseason.

The Tar Heels feature quarterback Bryn Renner, who's tossed 52 touchdown passes in the past two seasons in the team's high-octane offense.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has won his last 20 college openers.

No. 24 Southern California opens its season at Hawaii without a designated starting quarterback. Sophomores Max Wittek and Cody Kessler are expected to split time. The Trojans are unbeaten in eight games against Hawaii, scoring 60 or more points in three of them.

MLB-SCHEDULE

Scherzer goes for his 20th

UNDATED (AP) — Major League Baseball could have its first 20-game winner before the end of August.

Max Scherzer goes for it for the Tigers this afternoon when they close out a home series against Oakland. Scherzer is only the third major league pitcher to open a season 19-1, joining Rube Marquard in 1912 and Roger Clemens in 2001. The Tigers hitters have taken good care of Scherzer this season, staking him to an average of nearly 7 ½ runs per nine innings.

The Athletics have won the first three games of the series to stay 2 ½ games back of Texas for first in the AL West. Oakland will start 12-game winner Bartolo Colon who returns from the disabled list where he's been nursing a strained left groin.

Cleveland hopes to break out of its offensive slump when it closes a series at Atlanta tonight. The Indians have scored three or fewer runs in five of their last six games, falling four games back of Oakland for the final wildcard spot in the American League.

Chris Tillman tries once again to add to his 14 wins when he takes the mound for Baltimore tonight at Boston. The right-hander is winless in four starts since Aug. 9. Last time out he gave up just a run on three hits in eight innings but wound up with a no decision in a loss to Oakland. The Red Sox go with 12-7 Jon Lester who dominated the Dodgers in his last outing.

Pittsburgh has a chance to pull into a first-place tie with idle St. Louis in the National League Central. The Pirates are a half-game back going into the series finale against Milwaukee.

NFL-PRESEASON FINALE

NFL Preseason ends

UNDATED (AP) — Sixteen games are on the NFL exhibition schedule tonight, bringing the curtain down on the preseason. It's a last chance for teams to look at players before having to cut the rosters down to the 53-player regular season limit on Saturday.

NFL-REDSKINS-RG3

RG3 to see doc

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Robert Griffin III could be cleared to play in the regular season when he meets with his surgeon tonight.

Griffin will meet with Dr. James Andrews while the Redskins are in Florida for their final preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Head coach Mike Shanahan says even if Griffin is medically ready for the Sept. 9 opener, the coach could see something in practice that might give reason to keep the quarterback on the sidelines.

Griffin is on the mend from reconstructive knee surgery.

TENNIS-US OPEN

Backlog of matches

NEW YORK (AP) — US Open officials are playing catch-up after Wednesday rains forced eight women's singles matches to be postponed.

Top-seed Serena Williams was in one of them, and is now set to play her second round match as part of today's schedule. The defending champ meets Galina Voskoboeva.

They will be followed on Arthur Ashe Stadium court by seventh-seed and five-time champ Roger Federer who'll take on Argentina's Carlos Berlocq (BUR'-lahk) in second round action.

The highlight of the night schedule is second-seed Rafael Nadal (rah-fay-EHL' nah-DAHL'). The 2010 winner will try to improve to 17-0 on hard courts this year when he takes on Brazil's Rogerio Dutra Silva

GOLF-DEUTSCHE BANK CHAMPIONSHIP

Tiger says back is OK

NORTON, Mass. (AP) — Tiger Woods says his back is OK as he readies to play in the Deutche (DOY'-chuh) Bank Championship which starts tomorrow. Woods appeared to be swinging freely in the pro-am today.

Woods was bothered by back spasms in the final round of The Barclays last week. They were so bad that at one point, he buckled to his knees after hitting shot. He still only finished a shot behind winner Adam Scott in the first of the four tournaments in the FedEx Cup playoffs.

LPGA-SAFEWAY CLASSIC

Lewis in, Park out

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Stacy Lewis is scheduled to return to action when the LPGA Safeway Classic tees off today. The Women's British Open champ and three-time winner this year withdrew from last week's Women's Canadian Open after the first round due to illness.

Missing from the field will be Inbee Park the six-time winner on tour who created a sensation by winning the first three majors of the year. She withdrew earlier this week due to illness.

BOSTON MARATHON

Marathon field expanded

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Marathon will accept an extra 9,000 runners for next year's race to accomodate the 5,633 who were stopped on the course this year when two bombs went off near the finish line. The expanded field of 36,000 will also allow many who have said they want to run to honor the victims of the bombings that killed three and injured hundreds more.



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