National sports briefs


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Toledo, BG MAC favorites

DETROIT (AP) — For the last five years, the West Division of the Mid-American Conference has belonged to the Huskies of Northern Illinois.

A sixth straight title isn’t going to be easy.

The conference released its preseason poll at Wednesday’s media day at Ford Field, and Northern Illinois is picked to finish third, behind Toledo and Western Michigan.

Toledo received 11 of the 24 first-place voters, with Western Michigan getting eight to Northern Illinois’ four. Central Michigan picked up the final first-place vote.

Western Michigan jumped from one win in 2013 to eight in 2014. Much of that was due to freshman running back Jarvion Franklin, who rushed for 1,551 yards and 24 touchdowns while becoming the first player in conference history to win Offensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year in the same season.

In the East, Bowling Green is a favorite to reach its third straight conference championship game. The Falcons got 18 first-place votes, ahead of three for UMass, two for Akron and one for Ohio.

Archer flirts with perfection

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Chris Archer wasn’t quite perfect enough.

On a day when the Tampa Bay right-hander retired his first 19 batters in the longest perfect-game bid in franchise history, Justin Verlander outlasted Archer and the Detroit Tigers beat the Rays 2-1 Wednesday to avoid a three-game sweep.

“I’ve thrown better games statistically,” Archer said, “To me, I didn’t throw a perfect game or a no-hitter, so there’s no reason to think: ‘Oh, I was so close.’ I gave up three hits in the seventh inning. If I didn’t, things would be a lot different.”

Things might have been different also if shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera had not booted a potential double-play grounder that could have gotten Archer (9-8) out of the inning. Both of Detroit’s runs were unearned.

13-year-old collapses, dies

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — Floyd County school officials say a 13-year-old basketball player died after collapsing on court.

School officials say in a statement released to media outlets that attempts to revive 13-year-old Leah Goff were unsuccessful.

Goff was playing with the Roanoke Spectrum, a traveling recreation team, in Roanoke when she collapsed Tuesday night.

Goff was a rising eighth-grader at Floyd County High School.

Counselors are available at the high school on Wednesday and Thursday to assist students.

NASCAR penalizes team

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR has penalized Premium Motorsports because an unattached weight fell off the car during practice last weekend at Indianapolis.

The P3 penalty against the team Timmy Hill drove for last weekend was issued Wednesday.

Crew chief Scott Eggleston was fined $25,000. He and car chief Kevin Eagle were also suspended for this weekend’s Sprint Cup race at Pocono and placed on probation through Dec. 31.

Team owner Mike Curb was penalized 15 championship car owner points.

Hill has driven the car for the last two Sprint Cup races. He replaced Josh Wise, who left the team after the race at Kentucky three weeks ago.

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