3-game losing streak at stake for TCU, No. 23 WVU


3-game losing streak at stake for TCU, No. 23 WVU

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) Their debut seasons in the Big 12 haven't exactly gone the way West Virginia and TCU had hoped.

The No. 23 Mountaineers (5-2, 2-2) and Horned Frogs (5-3, 2-3) are coming off a lousy October and are in need of solid finishes to improve their positions for a bowl.

First, they've got to become bowl eligible. The team that doesn't on Saturday will be saddled with its first three-game losing streak under their current coaches.

It hasn't happened at TCU since the Horned Frogs lost four straight in 1998 under Dennis Franchione. West Virginia lost three straight to finish the 2004 season with Rich Rodriguez at the helm.

West Virginia and TCU are accustomed to being on top of their conferences and have played in a combined four BCS bowls over the last five seasons.

TCU had only three losses total in the previous three seasons combined, including going undefeated in the Mountain West. The Mountaineers shared the Big East championship the past two seasons.

This year is much different. West Virginia is sixth and TCU eighth in the Big 12 standings.

``We understand we've got to win more than we lose,'' said TCU coach Gary Patterson. ``We're trying to get to that sixth win like everybody else. We've got four games left to do that.''

West Virginia rose to No. 5 in the rankings before going on a free fall with blowout losses to No. 20 Texas Tech and No. 3 Kansas State. Like TCU, the Mountaineers have been forced to play a lot of first-year players, especially on defense.

``We've got a strange combination of a bunch of older kids that want to finish the year strong, that want to keep winning, that want to show improvement, that want to get to a good bowl game and win games,'' said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. ``Then there's a bunch of young kids that don't understand any of this. It's our jobs as coaches to mix the two and keep the attitude good.''

TCU was ranked as high as No. 15 a month ago but is 1-3 since suspending starting QB Casey Pachall after he was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. Pachall left school for the rest of the semester to enter an inpatient rehabilitation facility.

Pachall's replacement, redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin, has thrown for five touchdowns and three interceptions in his last two games. He hurt a knee late in a loss to Oklahoma State last week and Patterson is confident he'll play Saturday.

``Trevone did not play very well last week on the road,'' Patterson said. ``We need him to play a little bit better.''

Boykin could get better in a hurry against a West Virginia defense that has allowed an average of 53 points over its last four games.

West Virginia is making a lot of quarterbacks look great. Five opponents have thrown for 300 yards or more against the Mountaineers. Kansas State's Collin Klein was simply dazzling in the Wildcats' 55-14 win in Morgantown on Oct. 20, throwing for a career-high 323 yards and three TDs while running for four more scores.

The Mountaineers used a bye week to try to soften the glaring errors on defense that include blown coverages and poor tackling.

The defense is allowing 496 yards a game this season. West Virginia would be in much worse shape in the standings if its offense behind Geno Smith wasn't averaging 501.

Smith is coming off two lackluster performances by his standards. He's thrown for 26 touchdowns this season, but he's had a total of two in back-to-back losses and threw his first two interceptions of the season against Kansas State.

``I've continued to work hard. I've continued to stay confident,'' Smith said. ``I've continued to believe in my guys and believe in this coaching staff and just trust what's around me.''

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

The Washington Capitals had not beaten the Dallas Stars at home since 2006, Alex Ovechkin's second season in the NHL. That streak ended on Tuesday in a 4-3 Caps win.

Here's how the Caps were finally able to down Dallas in Washington.

Oshie still hot

After going 19 straight games without a goal, T.J. Oshie has been red-hot of late with four goals in his last four games. He scored Washington’s first goal in what would become a three-goal period for the Caps as they battled back from a 1-0 deficit into a 3-3 tie through 40 minutes. Oshie also added an assist as he won a power play faceoff that John Carlson fed to Alex Ovechkin for the goal.


Ovechkin victimizing his favorite target

You knew Ovechkin would score given he was playing against one of his favorite targets. With his second period goal, Ovechkin now has 22 goals against Kari Lehtonen in his career, tied with Henrik Lundqvist for the most goals he has scored on any netminder. Lehtonen has not been in the Eastern Conference since the 2008-09 season. When he goes to sleep at night, Ovechkin is who he sees in his nightmares.

The Carlson-Klingberg duel

Carlson and John Klingberg entered Tuesday’s game each with 59 points, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. Carlson downplayed the matchup both before and after the game, but it was clear that both players were playing at another level all game long. While both players tallied two points on the night, you have to give the win to Carlson as he had the most significant point, a game-winning goal in the third period.


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Redskins make contract offer to pass rusher Pernell McPhee, per report


Redskins make contract offer to pass rusher Pernell McPhee, per report

Free agent pass rusher Pernell McPhee visited the Redskins on Monday, and by Tuesday night a report emerged that Washington offered the veteran outside linebacker a contract.

Last week, Trent Murphy signed with the Buffalo Bills and things remain uncertain between the Redskins and Junior Galette. That means the organization has a need for an edge rushing linebacker, and that's exactly the role McPhee can play. 

A 29-year-old that played the last three seasons with the Bears, McPhee posted 14 sacks while in Chicago. Prior to his time with the Bears, McPhee was a solid contributor on some good Ravens teams. 


His best season in Baltimore came in 2014 when he posted 7.5 sacks. That's also the last season McPhee played a full 16 game schedule. He's missed 12 games over the last three years in Chicago. 

McPhee could provide the Redskins with solid veteran depth at outside linebacker, and he's also considered a plus defender against the run. With Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith cemented as the starting outside linebackers, if signed, McPhee would pair up with Ryan Anderson on Washington's second unit. At 6-foot-2 and 275 lbs., McPhee carries more weight on his frame than either Kerrigan or Smith. 

Pro Football Focus gave McPhee a strong grade for the 2017 season. He notched a +11.5 and ranked 13th out of 46 outside linebackers graded. For comparison, Broncos star Von Miller ranked 1st at +57, Kerrigan ranked 8th at +22.9 and Galette ranked 10th at +16.2.

It's unclear what a move for McPhee would mean between the Redskins and Galette, but it's hard to imagine it helps.

Free agent Johnathan Hankins also visited Washington on Monday, and while he plays an interior defensive line position different from McPhee, it's also unclear what this offer would do to any negotiations between the Redskins and Hankins. 

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