WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Win for UW grids will help Big Ten's image
HOUSTON - University of Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon says a win over LSU tomorrow night would send a national message that the Big Ten is not "some low-power conference."
The Tigers are among the top schools in the Southeastern Conference, with at least 10 victories in each of the last four years -- plus a BCS title in 2007 under coach Les Miles. SEC schools have won nine-of-16 BCS championships, including seven straight from 2006-through-2012. The Big Ten only has one BCS crown, that from Ohio State in 2002. Although the BCS is no more, teams will fight to make a four-team national championship playoff at the end of the season. Gordon says he knows the Big Ten is as good as any other conference -- and he calls playing LSU one of the biggest challenges of his life. The game kicks off the 2014 season for both teams. Kick-off is at eight tomorrow night at NRG Stadium in Houston.
It's another late start for the Milwaukee Brewers tonight, as they resume a West Coast road trip at San Francisco. Right-hander Wily Peralta will face Giants' veteran righty Ryan Vogelsong, with the first pitch at 9:15 from AT&T Park. Peralta is coming off a rough outing against the Pirates last Saturday night in which he gave up eight runs in five innings -- including a career-high three homers. The young right-hander has given up four runs or less in all but three of his 26 starts this year. Peralta is 15-8 with a 3.46 ERA. He'll face Giants' starter Vogelsong, who's 7-9 with a 3.78 ERA. The veteran right-hander is 0-5 in his last seven home starts, and has not won at AT&T Park since May 24th. Vogelsong escaped with a no-decision last Saturday, giving up three runs in five-and-a-third innings of a 14-6 loss at Washington. The Brewers enter the weekend with a one-and-a-half game lead over second-place Saint Louis in the National League Central Division. The Brewers have lost two straight, and they'll try again tonight to match their victory total from last season. The Giants hold the second NL Wild Card at the moment, at 71-62. The Brewers, 73-60, recently took 2-of-3 against the Giants at Miller Park. Manager Ron Roenicke said his team played a good series against them -- and he's looking for more of the same this weekend.
The Class-"A" Midwest League is entering the final weekend of its regular season. With four days left, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers now have a two-and-a-half game lead for the final playoff spot in the Western Division. The Rattlers will host Burlington tonight, after a 9-5 victory over the Bees last night near Appleton. The last-place Beloit Snappers will play a double-header at Peoria, where they were rained out last evening. The regular season runs through Labor Day. Eight teams will then compete in the post-season later in the week.
Rookie Corey Linsley will start at center for the Green Bay Packers in their regular season opener next Thursday night at Seattle. The question now is whether the Packers will use a roster spot for a back-up -- or let guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton fill in if necessary until previous starter J.C. Tretter returns from a knee injury. Linsley held his own last night during the first half, as the Number-two offense built up a 13-point halftime lead in the Pack's 34-14 home exhibition win over Kansas City. Garth Gerhart relieved Linsley after starting a left guard. Gerhart had a holding penalty and allowed a quarterback pressure -- and he hopes he showed enough to earn a roster spot. The Packers have until late tomorrow to reduce their 75-man roster to the regular season limit of 53.
Madison golfer Jerry Kelly has started his opening round in the PGA's second playoff tournament, the Deutsche Bank Championship near Boston. Kelly was at one-under-par after five holes, tying him for 17th place at that point. Kelly came into the tournament in 60th place in the Fed-Ex Cup point standings. The Top-70 in the point totals after Labor Day will advance to the third Fed-Ex tournament near Chicago. Keegan Bradley had the clubhouse lead at six-under-65.
Johnny Sauter of Necedah will try to hang onto his NASCAR truck series' lead in Canada this weekend. Sauter has 487 points, eight more than second-place Matt Crafton in the Camping World Truck standings. Both will compete in the Chevrolet Silverado-250 on Sunday afternoon in Bowmanville, Ontario. NASCAR's other two circuits are at Atlanta. The Sprint Cup drivers will qualify tonight for starting spots in the Oral-"B" USA-500 to be run on Sunday night. Matt Kenseth of Cambridge is fifth in the point standings, as he gets ready for the season-ending Chase for the Sprint Cup in two weeks. Paul Menard of Eau Claire and Beloit-born Danica Patrick are also entered for the Atlanta event. The Nationwide Series will compete in the Great Clips 300 tomorrow night at Atlanta. Kenseth is also entered in that event.