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Georgia, Nebraska seek redemption in Cap One Bowl

Georgia, Nebraska seek redemption in Cap One Bowl

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Georgia coach Mark Richt wants the lasting memory his team has of this season to be a positive one.

Nothing will give the sixth-ranked Bulldogs a second chance to get back the 5 yards they came up short in their SEC championship game loss to Alabama.

Still, Richt is hoping that Tuesday's Capital One Bowl against equally redemption-minded Nebraska will be a huge initial step.

``There's always a scene in the locker room after the game, and I'm going to be addressing seniors for the very last time,'' Richt said. ``You want that last memory to be a good one. That's a big motivating factor for me and I think it probably is for anyone who's thinking `Hey, this might be my last ball game.'''

On the other side of the field will be a Nebraska team that has been asked ad nauseam this week about how it could possibly get over its humiliating 70-31 loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game.

Like Georgia, Nebraska also enters the postseason with a two-game bowl losing streak. It's why Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini hasn't sugarcoated at all this week the reality of the disappointment his team carries with it into this game.

``No, matter what happens...you'll never wipe that taste out of your mouth,'' Pelini said. ``That isn't going away, regardless of what happens (Tuesday). To me life is about opportunities. It's about challenges. It's what drives me and it's why I'm in this profession. It's why I do what I do and why the players play.

``When it was presented to me of which opportunity we were going to take, we took the one we thought was the biggest challenge for our team.''

Their previous shortcomings aside, both teams can also achieve program milestones with a win Tuesday.

Only two previous Georgia teams have recorded 12 victories in a season, and Nebraska is trying for its first 11-win season since 2001.

``Definitely looking forward to it. It's been kind of an up and down year, but I am just excited to play against Georgia,'' Nebraska senior running back Rex Burkhead said. ``They have a great defense, great team and I'm just ready to get back out there with my team and have another chance to go out with a bang.''

Burkhead only appeared in seven games this season as he battled a left knee injury that kept him on the sidelines at different points this season.

It put the Cornhuskers primary rushing duties on junior quarterback Taylor Martinez and sophomore running back Ameer Abdullah, who led the team with 1,089 yards. Martinez had a team-high 10 rushing scores. Freshman Imani Cross also chipped in seven touchdowns.

``They have done a tremendous job,'' Burkhead said. ``You know they had a great off season just to prepare for this season. I think you see them playing a lot faster this year just seeing things quicker, and that's probably the biggest strides they made from last year, and it's awesome to watch. I didn't play for a lot of games this year, so it was just kind of cool seeing them develop and mature throughout this year and showcasing their abilities and what they can do.''

Now Burkhead and company will combine to try to exploit a Georgia defense that had the eighth-ranked passing defense in the country (surrendering just 173.5 yards per game), but a rushing defense that gave up 177.8 yards on the ground.

Nebraska's rushing defense was even worse, giving up 194.9 yards per game.

Georgia defensive end Garrison Smith thinks the key, though, will be keeping a throwing and running threat like Martinez off balance.

``It's just going to be hard to contain him,'' he said. ``Everybody is just going to have to give our all and give hundred percent, give our best to get after them, which is hard when you are playing such a great player like him.''

That said, Bulldogs sophomore defensive end Ray Drew said he and his teammates welcome the opportunity to matchup up with the Cornhuskers' multi-pronged attack.

``We respect Nebraska,'' said Drew. ``As usual, we fear no one but respect everyone. I think we know what we need to do down here to leave with a `W'.''

Taking a cue from his coach, Murray said like Richt, he wants Tuesday to be a celebration for the Bulldogs' seniors.

That list includes junior linebacker Jarvis Jones, who could make the jump to the NFL this offseason.

``I know all the underclassmen really want to send them off the right way,'' Murray said. ``Like I said, I know me personally, I have yet to win or be part of a winning bowl game, so I really want to win. And I am going to do what I can to make sure this offense and this team are ready to go.''

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Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter athttp://www.twitter.com/khightower

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Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

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NBC Sports Washington

Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

CHICAGO—Four fans were ejected from United Center on Saturday night for taunting Devante Smith-Pelly as the Capitals’ winger sat in the penalty box.

The fans, according to a team spokesman, yelled “basketball, basketball, basketball” at Smith-Pelly, who is black. Smith-Pelly was in the box for fighting in the third period of an eventual 7-1 loss to the Blackhawks.

The taunts were confirmed by an off-ice official, the spokesman said, and the fans were subsequently removed from the arena.

Smith-Pelly did not speak with reporters after the game but is expected to address the incident at the team’s next media availability. The team is scheduled to practice Sunday at KeyBank Center in Buffalo.

Caps Coach Barry Trotz did not hold back when asked about the fans' comments.

“There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism,” Trotz said. “I think it’s disgusting, and there’s no place for it. …It just shows ignorance.”

The Blackhawks responded on Twitter with an apology to Smith-Pelly, who is one of roughly 30 black players in the NHL.

February is Hockey is For Everyone month in the NHL.

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3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

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USA TODAY Sports

3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

Just about everything that could go wrong did for the Capitals on Saturday in a 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Caps were coming off a strong 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, but none of that carried over in the trip to Chicago. The Caps took on a Blackhawks team that had lost eight in a row, but Chicago quickly took control in the first period and never looked back.

Washington gave up 21 shots on goal in the first period and found themselves down 3-1 after the opening frame. Things did not get much better from there as they gave up another three goals in the final four minutes of the second.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Jonathan Toews: Toews opened up the scoring in the first period with a quick shot from the corner that caught Braden Holtby by surprise.

Later in the first, he recorded an assist as his pass sparked a breakout that led to Brandon Saad's deal that gave Chicago back the lead. The Caps tried to make a game of it in the second period, but Toews intercepted a pass from Brooks Orpik that led to a 2-on-0 with himself and Patrick Kane that Kane netted to give the Blackhawks a 4-1 lead and signaled to everyone that the rout was on. Saturday was only the second three-point night of the season for Toews.

2. Patrick Kane: Toews helped the Blackhawks take control early, but Kane helped provide the knockout punches in the second period. A bad pass from Orpik was intercepted by Toews that led to a 2-on-0 with Kane. Holtby made the initial save on Toews, but Kane was able to knock in the rebound for the goal.

Kane also added an assist on Artem Anisimov's power play goal which extended Chicago's lead to 6-1.

3. Tom Wilson: Before this one got out of hand, it looked like Wilson had erased the tough start for the Caps as he deflected a shot from Matt Niskanen into the net to get Washington on the board.

Saturday's tally was his third goal in two games and his 10th of the season, marking the first time in his career he has reached double digits in goals.