Other Sports

Sports briefs: Sept. 18

College football

Vols seek change of fortune against No. 19 Florida

Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley said he sometimes sings along to Rocky Top while hearing it over and over again whenever the Gators face Tennessee. "Something gets so annoying, you got to make the best out of it," Easley said.

Lately, that's about the only way Tennessee has been able to bother Florida. Florida has beaten Tennessee eight consecutive times, which represents the Gators' longest winning streak in the 42-game history of this series. The 19th-ranked Gators try to continue their recent mastery of this rivalry Saturday at The Swamp.

Tennessee (2-1, 0-0 Southeastern Conference) hasn't defeated Florida (1-1, 0-0) since a 30-28 victory at Neyland Stadium in 2004. The Vols also have lost their last 17 games against ranked opponents and are 1-23 versus top 25 teams since 2008.

"Our players understand the rivalry, what is at stake," Tennessee Coach Butch Jones said. "I think they understand what has gone on before them. The only thing we can control is our preparation and how we play on Saturday."

Tennessee, a 17-point underdog, hasn't come particularly close to ending the streak recently. The Gators squeaked past the Vols 21-20 in their 2006 national championship season, but the last six Florida-Tennessee games had an average margin of 19 points, with each of them being decided by double digits.

Pelini unsure if he'll be disciplined for rant

Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini said Tuesday he doesn't know if he'll be disciplined for his profane rant about Cornhuskers fans two years ago, adding that he expects most will continue to support him. Audio of Pelini's tirade leaked to the sports website Deadspin has Big Red fans buzzing.

Pelini issued an apology in a statement Monday night and reiterated it during the Big Ten coaches' teleconference on Tuesday. Chancellor Harvey Perlman expressed disappointment in Pelini but declined to comment when asked if the coach would be disciplined. Athletics Director Shawn Eichorst said he was "disheartened."

Pelini said he might lose some fan support but that he was confident many would understand that his comments were made during what he thought was a private conversation before his radio show after the Huskers' 34-27 win over Ohio State in October 2011.

"I think I've built up enough points with our fans over the last five years in how I've conducted myself, how I've run this program and what we've done with this program to earn some forgiveness for something that was made in a private setting," Pelini said. "People will understand this isn't how I feel about the fans. I've said it over and over."

The Deadspin audio caught Pelini speaking off air with Husker Sports Network play-by-play man Greg Sharpe and associate athletics director for community relations Chris Anderson. Pelini criticized fans who left the stadium in the third quarter, when the Huskers trailed 27-6.

Pelini said he has met with Eichorst and spoken on the phone with Perlman about the audio. He did not elaborate. The Huskers play FCS South Dakota State on Saturday in Lincoln.

"I fully anticipate coaching this weekend," Pelini said after practice. "I'm the head football coach until someone says different."

GameDay headed to North Dakota

ESPN is calling an audible for its popular College GameDay show by departing from its typical large-campus backdrops — think Michigan and Clemson — and featuring North Dakota State, owners of back-to-back Football Championship Subdivision titles and an early-season victory over the Big 12's Kansas State.

"North Dakota State, in a way, is sort of the Alabama of the FCS," GameDay senior coordinating producer Lee Fitting said in explaining why the show is coming to Fargo on Saturday. "They're two-time defending national champions, ranked No. 1 in the current poll, 10 national titles for the program.

"The next question was, why not?"


Horse racing

Fort Larned staying put at Churchill

Trainer Ian Wilkes announced a change in the path that Fort Larned will take in his quest to defend his 2012 victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.

Wilkes said Tuesday that Fort Larned will prep for his Breeders' Cup defense in Churchill Downs' first running of its $175,000-added Homecoming Classic on Saturday, Sept. 28. He had indicated earlier that the horse would travel to New York's Belmont Park to run in the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup on the same day.

The change followed a sharp Tuesday workout by Fort Larned. He zipped 5 furlongs over fast footing at Churchill Downs in :59.80 under jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. It was the second-fastest of 29 works at the distance.

"It just fit into our plans to run him here," Wilkes said. "If we didn't have the September Meet and didn't have this race, we would have gone to the Jockey Club."


NASCAR

Labonte ready to return after bike wreck

Bobby Labonte is set to return to NASCAR this weekend at New Hampshire after breaking three ribs while bike riding last month. Labonte was hurt while cycling near his North Carolina home.

He'll be in the No. 47 Camry for JTG Daugherty Racing. The 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion's best finish of the season is 15th in the season opener at Daytona.


The last word

Most of the Kansas City Chiefs discounted the notion that the team has any extra motivation to defeat Coach Andy Reid's former team, the Philadelphia Eagles, on Thursday night. But not Quintin Demps, who played his first two NFL seasons with the Eagles:

"It would put an extra smile on his face and his family's face to really smash them in the mouth. We just want to win, period."

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