Bears-Bruins expected to be high-scoring


Bears-Bruins expected to be high-scoring

SAN DIEGO (AP) Now, this could be a Holiday Bowl.

The Baylor Bears (7-5), whose offense ranks first nationally after piling up an average of 578.8 yards, face the UCLA Bruins (9-4) on Thursday night in the game that calls itself ``America's Most Exciting Bowl Game.''

This game should more than ooze offense.

``When people predict a shootout and the head coach is standing up here talking about a shootout, if you're a defensive guy, you bow up a little bit,'' UCLA coach Jim Mora said Wednesday. ``It'll be a great night to be at Qualcomm watching football, because you're going to see some quality football and some exciting football.''

Suffice it to say that the defensive coordinators have been busy.

Baylor senior quarterback Nick Florence, who replaced Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, leads the nation in total offense with 387.7 yards per game. Senior Terrance Williams is first in yards receiving at 147 per game.

The Bruins, who won the Pac-12 South, are hardly slouches.

Senior running back Johnathan Franklin is UCLA's career leading rusher, with his 1,700 yards this season propelling him to a four-year total of 4,369 yards. He ran for 13 touchdowns and caught two scoring passes.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley is a dual threat, having thrown for 3,411 yards and 26 touchdowns, plus he was the team's second-leading rusher with 365 yards and nine touchdowns.

The over-under for combined points is 81 1/2.

Baylor rebounded from a four-game losing streak in the middle of the season to win four of its last five, including its final three games. Among them was a 52-24 upset of then-No. 2 Kansas State, derailing the Wildcats' hopes for a national championship.

The Bears rank fifth nationally in scoring, averaging 44.1 points per game.

Baylor proved last year that it can be potent in the postseason. It piled up 777 yards in a 67-56 victory against Washington in the Alamo Bowl, which got Huskies defensive coordinator Nick Holt fired two days later.

While Washington did a decent job on Griffin, the Huskies had no answers to stopping a Bears running game that finished with 482 yards rushing - including three backs topping 100 yards - and eight touchdowns rushing.

The Bruins are coming off consecutive losses to Stanford, a 35-17 defeat in the regular-season finale, and then a 27-24 defeat in the Pac-12 championship game.

Including victories against Washington State and USC, the Bruins allowed at least 27 points in each of their last four games.

``I don't think I'm concerned about what happened in the last couple games, but I'm concerned about Baylor, certainly,'' Mora said. ``They put up points at a very fast pace. We'll have our hands full on defense. Offensively, it will be exciting going up against this team to see if we can stay up with them a little bit.''

This will be the first meeting between the teams.

``The funny thing is that we really don't cross paths with them video-wise or even TV, because I go to bed pretty early on Saturday nights and by the time we get the games out that way, it's pretty late our time,'' Baylor coach Art Briles. ``But I've kept up with them. I know they had a real good run and beat some really good people, soundly. That always concerns you as a coach.''

Mora, a two-time NFL head coach and a former assistant with the Chargers, was asked about his possible interest in returning to pro football since San Diego is expected to fire Norv Turner at the end of the season.

``I have an interest right now in beating the Baylor Bears,'' Mora said.

``I'm not going to talk about the Chargers,'' he added. ``The Chargers have a head coach who is a very good friend of mine. I'm not going to disrespect him by saying anything about that job.''

Mora called Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano ``one of my best friends and I've known Norv forever. I wish them the best.''

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Wizards at Spurs: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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Wizards at Spurs: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:


Where: AT&T Center
Tip-off: 9:30 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 8:30 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Wizards are trending up

The Wizards have had some steep ups and downs in recent weeks. They lost three in a row from Feb. 28 through March 4 and that turned into five losses in seven games, their worst stretch since John Wall injured his left knee. But now, with two straight wins, the Wizards appear to be in good shape. They have won four of their last six games and all of those wins came against teams currently holding playoff spots.

The Wizards enter Wednesday night sitting fifth in the Eastern Conference. They have been off the past three days and during that break the Pacers won a game and pushed ahead into fourth. The Pacers play the Pelicans on Wednesday, while the third-place Cavs battle the Raptors and the sixth-place Sixers see the Grizzlies.


Tough place to play

The Wizards head to Texas hoping to win in San Antonio for the first time since 1999. Yes, you read that right: 1999. Like, back when Limp Bizkit was a thing. It has been 19 years and 17 straight losses at the Spurs for the Wizards.

Washington has had trouble with the Spurs in general in the past two decades, as have most teams. The Spurs have won 20 of their last 23 matchups overall and won 17 straight from 2006 through 2015. The Spurs under head coach Gregg Popovich have been among the most consistent winners in all of sports and the Wizards have had trouble cracking the code.


Spurs are still getting it done

The Spurs are currently sixth in the Western Conference despite having a slightly better record than the Wizards. They have gotten this far despite their best player Kawhi Leonard missing all but nine games this season. It is a remarkable feat and one that could very well win Popovich another Coach of the Year award.

In Leonard's absence, many have stepped up. LaMarcus Aldridge has put in an All-Star season with averages of 22.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. Rudy Gay has enjoyed a nice bounceback season with 11.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. And Pau Gasol is still making an impact with 10.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.

Really, though, it's all about their defense. The Spurs boast the lowest opponents points per game average (99.0) and the third-best defensive rating (104.1).


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Paul Richardson's Redskins contract is team friendly early

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Paul Richardson's Redskins contract is team friendly early

The Redskins’ contract with wide receiver Paul Richardson is very team friendly in the first year but it increases over the years to the point where he needs to be a very productive receiver in order to justify staying on the roster.

The big picture of the deal is $40 million over five years. A total of $12.5 million is fully guaranteed at signing, which is comprised of a $10 million signing bonus, his $1.5 million 2018 salary, and $1 million of his $5 million 2019 salary.

More money will become guaranteed if Richardson is on the roster as of five days after the start of the league years in 2019 and 2020. The remaining $4 million of his 2019 salary and $3.5 million of his $6 million 2020 salary become guaranteed on those dates.


Richardson will get salaries of $7.5 million in 2021 and 2022. Each year of the contract he can earn $500,000 in per-game roster bonuses ($31,250 for each game he is on the 46-man game day roster).

It all adds up to the following salary cap numbers:

2018: $4 million
2019: $7.5 million
2020: $8.5 million
2021: $10 million
2022: $10 million

The average annual value of the contract is $8 million, which is tied for 24th among NFL receivers.

The first window the Redskins have to terminate Richardson’s contract without taking a negative cap hit would be in 2020 as long as they do it prior to the fifth day of the league year when the partial salary guarantee kicks in. They would take a $6 million deal cap hit but they would save a net of $2.5 million.

The last two years, when the cap numbers are at their highest, the Redskins could easily move on, saving $6 million in cap space in 2021 and $8 million in 2022.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.