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Associated Press

Posted on August 31, 2013 at 11:06 AM

Updated Saturday, Aug 31 at 11:06 AM

COLLEGE FOOTBALL-SCHEDULE

Kickoff Saturday

UNDATED (AP) — Alabama opens defense of its national championship to highlight the first Saturday of the college football season.

The Crimson Tide opens up against Virginia Tech in Atlanta this afternoon boasting an impressive arsenal of offensive weapons. A.J. McCarron is back to run the offense after leading the nation in passer rating last season. He threw for a record 30 touchdowns against just three interceptions. Running back T.J. Yeldon is back and Amari Cooper leads the receivers.

The task of solving Alabama's expected tough defense will fall on the shoulders of 6-foot-6, 254-pound dual-threat quarterback Logan Thomas.

Virginia Tech only has 10 seniors on its two-deep depth chart.

The air is expected to be filled with footballs when No. 5 Georgia visits eighth-ranked Clemson. Aaron Murray is back for his senior year with the Bulldogs after throwing for 3,893 yards and 36 touchdowns last season. He's the only SEC quarterback to throw for more than 3,000 yards in each of his first three seasons.

Clemson's Taj Boyd finished with 3,896 yards and 36 touchdowns last season to win the ACC player of the year.

Seventh-ranked Texas A&M will take the field for its home opener against Rice without it's Heisman Trophy winner in the starting lineup. Quarterback Johnny Manziel (man-ZEHL') has been suspended for the first half of the game for a violation regarding the signing of autographs. But the school and NCAA cleared him of accepting money for autographs as some have charged.

No. 12 LSU and 20th-ranked TCU open the season in Arlington, Texas.

The Tigers lost a team-record eight defensive players in the NFL draft, leaving just three full-time returning starters. Coach Les Miles indicates he's confident of a typical Tigers defense showing up on the field.

Quarterbacks Casey Pachall and Trevone Boykin will serve as offensive co-captains for the Horned Frogs. Both are expected to play, but coach Gary Patterson has refused to say who will start.

There are 18 top-25 games on the schedule involving 20 ranked teams.

US OPEN

Nadal, Federer top slate

NEW YORK (AP) — Second seed Rafael Nadal (rah-fay-ehl nah-DAHL') and No. 7 Roger Federer are part of the day-night schedule at the US Open. Nadal is set to meet Ivan Dodig in a third round match, while five-time champ Federer takes on France's Adrian Mannarino under the lights.

It'll be interesting to see what kind of reception American John Isner gets for his third round match against Germany's Philip Kohlschreiber. The 13th-seeded Isner said he was disappointed by fans who cheered for his second-round opponent Gael Monfils (GAH'-ehl mohn-FEES') of France instead of him.

For the third day in a row top women's seed Serena Williams will be in action. She'll team with sister Venus in doubles play.

MLB-SCHEDULE

Cards-Pirates continue

UNDATED (AP) — That key weekend series in the National League Central race continues in Pittsburgh tonight. Lance Lynn gets the start for the Cardinals in an effort to get back to his early season form. The 13-game winner is winless in his last four starts and is 2-4 since the All-Star break. The Pirates go with A.J. Burnett who's 6-9 for the season and 2-3 in ten starts since returning from the disabled list.

Mike Minor has been a big part of the Braves major-league leading record this season. He goes for a career best 14th win of the season when he takes the mound against Miami. Minor leads the NL East-leader with 19 quality starts this season.

Second-place Cleveland is hoping to gain ground on AL Central-leading Detroit as their series in the Motor City continues. Scott Kazmir versus the Tigers' Anibal Sanchez is the pitching match-up.

Jorge (HOR'-hay) De La Rosa goes for his fifth straight win and 15th overall when he starts for Colorado in a home game against Cincinnati.

There are 15 games on the schedule today and tonight.

GOLF-DEUTSCHE BACK CHAMPIONSHIP

Lefty, Davis on top

NORTON, Mass. (AP) — Phil Mickelson and Brian Davis were the leaders heading into the second round of the PGA's Deutsche Bank Championship near Boston. They each fired 8-under-par 63, one shot ahead of Kevin Stadler.

LPGA-SAFEWAY CLASSIC

Phatlum's the pace-setter

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Pornanong Phatlum will own a one-shot lead over Suzann Pettersen when they tee off in the third round of the LPGA Safeway Classic in Portland. Pettersen moved into contention with yesterday's 9-under 63 while Phatlum followed her opening-round 64 with a 66 that leaves her 14-under for the tournament.

CHAMPIONS TOUR-SHAW CHARITY CLASSIC

Chasing Rocco

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Second-round action has begun at the Shaw Charity Classic in Calgary. Rocco Mediate (MEE'-dee-ayt) carried a one-stroke lead into the round following an 8-under-par 63. Bart Bryant, Jeff Sluman (SLOO'-mihn), Bobby Clampett and Rod Spittle share second in the Champions Tour event.

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