Bowl streaks on line for Northwestern, Miss. State


Bowl streaks on line for Northwestern, Miss. State

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Just getting to a bowl game no longer matters to Northwestern.

The 21st-ranked Wildcats want to win one and end a decades-long losing streak.

Northwestern (9-3) hasn't won a bowl since it beat California in the 1949 Rose Bowl. The Wildcats have dropped nine in a row since, matching the longest streak in NCAA history.

They get a chance to stop that skid when they face Mississippi State (8-4) in the Gator Bowl on Tuesday.

``It's the next step in where we want to go as a program,'' Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. ``The consistent success we've had in the program of being in the postseason for five successive seasons is something we're proud of. Winning a bowl game is the next step.''

Northwestern has come close the last four years, losing 30-23 in overtime against Missouri in the 2008 Alamo Bowl, falling 38-35 to Auburn in overtime in the 2010 Outback Bowl, dropping a 45-38 decision to Texas Tech in the 2011 Ticket City Bowl and then losing 33-22 to Texas A&M in last season's Meineke Care Car Bowl.

But as Fitzgerald and his players were quick to point out, close means little.

``I feel like everyone on this team is motivated to be that first team to get that bowl win for the first time in a long, long time,'' quarterback Kain Colter said. ``The seniors have done a good job in building the foundation that we have. We're on the rise right now and a lot of that is credited to them. If we could send them off the right way and add another part to their legacy and continue on to our legacy, that would be great.''

Mississippi State dropped four of its final five games to end the regular season, but it has won five consecutive bowl games - the longest current streak in the country.

``We've had a lot of big wins this year and some tough losses this year,'' Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. ``Our guys want to go out there and finish it off the right way and send our seniors out winning a bowl championship.''

The Bulldogs haven't lost a bowl game since the 1999 Peach Bowl. They rebounded the next year to beat Texas A&M in the Independence Bowl and since have postseason wins against Central Florida (2007 Liberty Bowl), Michigan (2011 Gator Bowl) and Wake Forest (2011 Music City Bowl).

Mississippi State's last trip to Jacksonville ended with a 52-14 romp over the Wolverines. The Bulldogs scored 42 unanswered points while dominating the final three quarters.

The lopsided affair added to a recent run of Southeastern Conference success against Big Ten opponents on New Year's Day.

The SEC is 8-2 against the Big Ten over the last four years, with wins coming in the Gator, Outback and Capital One bowls.

``Playing in the Southeastern Conference, a lot of people see it as one of the elite conferences,'' MSU linebacker Cam Lawrence said. ``But I get excited to play a new school. It's always fun to have a new experience and a new opponent and a new challenge. ... It's a bowl game and anything could happen.''

Maybe Northwestern can even win one.

Fitzgerald's team probably should have won more games this season. The Wildcats blew double-digit leads in the second half against Penn State, Nebraska and Michigan.

But all those heartbreakers can be erased, or at least diminished, with a bowl victory.

``We want to erase that losing streak,'' backup quarterback Trevor Siemian said. ``This is a new team with different players. We probably stopped thinking about the bowl game last year a day after that game. We'd really like to get the win for the seniors, end the losing streak and get a 10-win season.

``Definitely a lot of goals to be playing for. It's right there in front of us. It's an awesome opportunity and we want to make the most of it.''

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Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

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Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

As a fellow NBA head coach, Scott Brooks understands what Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers is going through. As his former teammate, Ramon Sessions knows how tough Lue is.

Both members of the Wizards shared their reactions after Monday's practice to the news Lue is stepping away from the Cavs to deal with a health issue. Both expressed hope Lue will not be out long as the NBA continues its trek towards the playoffs.

"All of our thoughts are with him," Brooks said. "You hope that it's nothing serious. Health is the most important [thing]. The game is secondary."


"Prayers out to T-Lue," said Sessions, who played with Lue in Milwaukee. "It's one of those things where you've gotta take care of yourself at the end of the day. Him stepping away is the best thing."

Lue's illness has been a mystery to doctors, according to a statement he released on the Cavaliers' website. He has dealt with chest pains and other symptoms while also struggling to sleep. The hope is that having time off will allow him to get the rest he needs.


Brooks knows firsthand how difficult it is to get sleep during the regular season as a coach.

"You just have to figure out ways to get your rest. Some days are better than others. Sometimes you think after a good win you can have a good night's rest or sometimes it's the opposite. It's just hard to get rest. You're traveling in different timezones. You are emotional after games. You eat late. There are a lot of factors that go into it. We don't have a set schedule every night. I have a good staff and I rely on them," he said.

Lue, 40, will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim. The Cavs happen to be in a tight playoff race with the Wizards and other teams in the Eastern Conference battling for position.

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Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign CB Orlando Scandrick

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Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign CB Orlando Scandrick

The Redskins seem to love former Cowboys. They signed another one today.

Mike Garafolo of NFL Media is reporting that Washington has agreed to terms with cornerback Orlando Scandrick. The early numbers put the contract at up to $10 million over two years.

Scandrick, 31, has played for the Cowboys since they made him a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft. In nine seasons in the league, Scandrick has eight interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

He has been plagued by injuries the last three years. Scandrick was out for the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL. In 2016 he missed four games with a hamstring injury and he finished last season on injured reserve with a back injury. Whether his struggles last year were due to injuries or age remains to be seen.

Scandrick joins Nosh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, and Josh Holsey at cornerback for the Redskins. Holsey is the only natural slot corner in the group and he played very sparingly as a rookie last year. Scandrick likely will fill the slot role until Holsey is ready.

We will see what the signing costs in terms of salary cap impact when we see the details of the contract. The phrase “up to” generally means that there are incentives included in the deal so we will have to see.

In recent years, the Redskins have signed former Cowboys defensive linemen Stephen Bowen, Jason Hatcher, and Terrell McClain.


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.