Despite top ranking, Irish still embrace underdog status

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Despite top ranking, Irish still embrace underdog status

While a favorite mantra of Brian Kelly has been to tune out the noise, Notre Dame players have relished their role as underdogs during the 2012 season. After beating Oklahoma, multiple players mentioned getting added motivation from the "haters" (one player specifically mentioned ESPN's Mark May by name) who picked the Irish to lose by double digits in Norman.

Even at No. 1, though, there are plenty who don't think Notre Dame will beat USC -- and even if they do, the Irish would be double-digit dogs to Alabama, if the Tide wind up winning the SEC to advance to the BCS Championship.

"There's still haters out there that say 'they don't deserve to be No. 1, they aren't that good, they've had so many close games, blah, blah, blah,'" senior wide receiver John Goodman said. "A win's a win. Right now we're 11-0 with a possible 12-0 season, and that's all that matters."

One person who doesn't think Notre Dame will win on Saturday is USC's quarterback, Max Wittek, who rankled some with comments on an ESPN Radio affiliate in Los Angeles guaranteeing his team would beat the Irish. But Notre Dame players weren't bothered by the comment, at least publicly.

"He said what he said, but at the end of the day he's not going to go out and say that they're going to lose," center Braxston Cave. "Any guy who's a competitor is going to try to motivate his team and do whatever he can to get his team ready to go, and he was given his opportunity to get a start and he's excited for that. He can say whatever he wants to say. We're going to come out and play our game Saturday night."

Cave's point is pertinent, since any player is going to say they're confident about winning, no matter who the upcoming opponent is. Wittek -- a redshirt freshman -- just wasn't politically correct in his comments, although his sentiment is hardly unique.

"We still have two practices left and a lot of traveling to do before we let that set in, but we're going to stay focused, we're going to stay poised, we're going to stay composed," Goodman said. "We need to be able to get our game plan in and get whatever we need to do in place before we get worked up about a comment."

But Notre Dame players may take a little added motivation from Wittek's comments, even if they won't admit it before the game. If Wittek didn't make those remarks, though, the location of the game may have been enough to cultivate that us-against-the-world mentality.

"Any time you go on the road, you're going to be considered the underdog, especially when you're playing your rival, and when you're the No. 1 team in the country everyone's out to get you," Cave said. "We know we're going to have to go out there and play our best game."

Never say die: Cubs battle back for wild walk-off win over Pirates

Never say die: Cubs battle back for wild walk-off win over Pirates

It would have been so easy for the Cubs to just chalk this one up as a loss and head home.

But this 2016 Cubs team isn't built that way.

They showed what they're made of again Monday, walking off the Pirates, 8-7, in front of 38,951 fans at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs had plenty of chances to score all game, including in extra innings as Javy Baez was thrown out at home plate to end both the 10th and 12th innings.

In the top of the 13th, the Pirates finally broke through, loading the bases with nobody out against Rob Zastryzny and scoring a run — but only one run.

In the bottom of the 13th, the Cubs got their offense going again as Dexter Fowler and Kris Bryant led the inning off with singles to put runners at the corners. Anthony Rizzo then singled through the infield to tie the game and drive home Fowler.

Ben Zobrist was intentionally walked to load the bases with nobody out, setting the stage for Miguel Montero's walk-off single to start the Cubs' homestand off on a positive note.

It capped off a game in which almost 500 pitches were thrown and took more than five hours to complete.

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The Cubs opened up a 3-0 lead on Pirates rookie starter Steven Brault early, but they could have easily had more, narrowly missing home runs in the first (Zobrist) and third innings (Jorge Soler).

The Pirates, meanwhile, came roaring back against Jake Arrieta. 

First, Josh Bell hit a solo homer just over the basket in left field in the fourth inning. Then Gregory Polanco deposited a three-run shot down the left-field line in the sixth inning, two batters after it appeared the Cubs had gotten a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play. Home plate umpire Tripp Gibson disagreed, calling the pitch Ball 4 to Bell and putting two runners on with nobody out instead of two outs and nobody on. Arrieta was irate, staring down the umpire and prompting a visit from Joe Maddon, who proceeded to get in Gibson's face at the base of the mound after calming down Arrieta.

Arrieta was also saddled with a pair of runs in the seventh inning, with Travis Wood letting two inherited runners score on Josh Harrison's two-out double to make it a 6-3 Pirates lead.

The reigning NL Cy Young winner finished with a tough-luck line that flashed six earned runs in 6 1/3 innings on five hits and three walks.

Then the Cubs began their comeback.

In the eighth, Jason Heyward doubled and Willson Contreras homered to straightaway center.

With one out in the ninth, Jorge Soler sent a charge into Tony Watson's offering to tie the game with a blast to center.

Preview: White Sox continue series with Tigers on CSN

Preview: White Sox continue series with Tigers on CSN

The White Sox continue their road series with the Tigers on Tuesday night in the Motor City, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage from Detroit starts at 6 p.m. Then be sure to stick around following the final out for reaction and analysis on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today's starting pitching matchup: Anthony Ranaudo (0-1, 7.88 ERA) vs. Daniel Norris (2-2, 3.63 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you're ready for the action.

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Isaiah Wright, young fan with cancer, receives VIP treatment from White Sox

Isaiah Wright, young fan with cancer, receives VIP treatment from White Sox

Berwyn-native and White Sox fan Isaiah Wright entered the world fighting the odds. At just 14 years old, he has undergone multiple organ transplants and more than 50 surgeries because of a rare birth defect.

Isaiah and his family have an appreciation for just how precious life can be and they were able to make the most of a recent visit to the South Side for a White Sox game, where he received VIP treatment and met his favorite players, including a private meeting with Jose Abreu.

Check out the video above.

A Go Fund Me page was also created to help support Isaiah and his family. Click here to make a donation.