No. 10 Florida State eyes ACC crown vs. Maryland

No. 10 Florida State eyes ACC crown vs. Maryland

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) Maryland has a linebacker at quarterback and several key players sidelined with injuries. So there's really only one way the Terrapins can defeat No. 10 Florida State on Saturday and prevent the Seminoles from clinching a berth in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game.

``The biggest thing is that we can't make mistakes,'' Terrapins coach Randy Edsall said. ``If we want to have a chance to win, we've got to play a perfect game and get turnovers against them. That's what we have to do.''

Problem is, Maryland (4-6, 2-4) hasn't been anything close to flawless during a four-game losing streak in which it has been outscored 118-58. That includes coming up short 78-23 over the past two weeks after true freshman Shawn Petty began calling the signals for a team that has lost four quarterbacks to season-ending injuries. Petty has four fumbles and an interception in his two starts.

It won't get any easier Saturday against the top-ranked defense in the country.

``The point of emphasis we've put on Shawn or any of the guys that touch the ball for us is we've got to take care of the football and give ourselves a chance to win by playing good, smart, sound football,'' offensive coordinator Mike Locksley said. ``We haven't done that.''

Florida State (9-1, 6-1) is a 31-point favorite, but coach Jimbo Fisher insists his players are taking nothing for granted.

``They've had some issues at quarterback because of injury but have still been able to move the ball and do things,'' Fisher said. ``We'll have to play our A game up there on the road and we'll get their A game.''

Florida State has won four straight overall and owns a 20-2 advantage in this lopsided rivalry. Fisher's toughest job this week was making sure the Seminoles haven't already started packing their bags for their second ACC title game in three years.

``The key is for us is to see how important Maryland is and to focus on Maryland and not the championship,'' Fisher said. ``It's hard because that's what you want - to be a conference champion and to go to the national title game and BCS. Your first objective is to win the conference. It's important with what we want to do and it's always on our goals (list) at the beginning of the year, to be the ACC champion. But to get there we need to focus on Maryland and play a great game against Maryland. That's the only team in America right now.''

For the 17 seniors on Maryland who are playing their final home game, this is their final opportunity to earn a win over Florida State and to add a tombstone outside the practice field for a win against a top-10 opponent. The Terrapins haven't defeated a top-10 team since on Nov. 10, 2007, against Boston College.

It's been a difficult season for Maryland and a trying career for the seniors. After coach Ralph Friedgen was dismissed after the 2010 season, the Terps went 2-10 last year and then had a promising 2012 season come apart in the wake of injuries to four quarterbacks, the team's leading tackler (Demetrius Hartsfield) and standout wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

Those aren't the kind of memories defensive end A.J. Francis wants to stick with him for the rest of his life.

``I wish there would have been more stability. In five years, I played four defenses,'' he said. ``Hopefully we'll be able to get a tombstone his weekend against the only team in the Atlantic Division I never beat. I'm looking forward to it.''

If Maryland can somehow pull off an upset and then beat North Carolina next week, the Terrapins would become bowl eligible. They know this, but are realistic enough to jam that thought into the back of their minds.

``At this point we're on a four-game skid and playing against the No. 1 team in the ACC, so you've got to make sure you keep a one-game-at-a-time mentality,'' Francis said. ``But this game could change our season. It could change our careers. It could change how people view us for the rest of our lives.''

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Capitals vs. Pengiuns Preview: Three keys to how this year could be different for the Caps

Capitals vs. Pengiuns Preview: Three keys to how this year could be different for the Caps

The Washington Capitals enter the 2018 NHL Playoffs Eastern Conference Second Round in a similar position. A Metro division championship in hand and a seven-game series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. But while this year appears the same, the Caps are hoping for a different outcome. Will they finally be able to beat their arch rival and reach the conference final?

Here are three keys that will determine if this year will be different for the Caps.

Capitals vs. Penguins Preview:

Key to Victory No. 1: Discipline:

In the Capitals' two victories over the Penguins this season, Washington did not give up a power play goal. No team had a better power play unit during the regular season than the Penguins and we already saw how much foolish penalties hurt the Caps in the first round. Washington took 24 penalties in six games against the Blue Jackets and that is far too many.

They cannot win that way against the Penguins.

The problem is that in the second round with a heated rival, tempers can flare a bit. Just look at the last time these two teams played when Malkin was shooting Oshie's stick off the ice and tried to fight Kuznetsov for speaking Russian to him. Still, the Caps are going to have to keep their emotions in check.

Key to Victory No. 2:  Getting the goaltending advantage: 

The scoring depth of Pittsburgh is unmatched. The fact that a team can have Crosby, Malkin and Kessel all on the same team in the salary cap era is mind-boggling. Oh, and by the way, Jake Guentzel scores every time he touches the puck in the playoffs. Washington cannot win this series if they do not get better goaltending than Pittsburgh.

The good news is that Murray was not lights out in the first round. Yes, he had two shutouts, but there were also three games in which he let in at least four goals. A .911 save percentage is not where the Penguins really need him to be. The bad news is that while Holtby is statistically one of the best playoff netminders in NHL history, he struggles against Pittsburgh. In last year's series, Holtby managed only a .887 save percentage and 2.57 GAA.

One thing to keep in mind, on April 1 Grubauer started a critical game in Pittsburgh and was phenomenal. Could Trotz possibly think of going back to Grubauer if Holtby struggles against the Penguins?

Keys to Victory No. 3: The Mind Games

 Let's face it, there is a mental aspect to the Capitals' postseason struggles. When it comes to beating Pittsburgh or getting past the second round, this has become a mental hurdle. They have to come into this series with confidence they can win and maintain that confidence throughout, regardless of whether they get down in a game or in the series, regardless of whether there is a bad penalty call, regardless of whether Murray stands on his head again, regardless of any of the struggles they may face, they have to stay mentally confident.

When the Caps went down 0-2 against Columbus, Ovechkin said that the series would return to Washington tied at 2. The way he said it, it wasn't a guarantee or some massive proclamation, it was a statement of fact. Both he and the rest of the team believed they were going to come back and win the series. They need that level of confidence against Pittsburgh as well.


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Dez Bryant turned down multi-year deal from Ravens, is banking on himself in 2018


Dez Bryant turned down multi-year deal from Ravens, is banking on himself in 2018

If you want to sign Dez Bryant in 2018, it will have to be on a one-year deal.

The 29 year-old wide receiver turned down a multi-year offer from the Baltimore Ravens in hopes of finding a one-year deal that enables him to test the open market again in 2019, Ed Werder of The Doomsday Podcast first reported.

Bryant - who finished 2017 with 69 receptions, 838 yards and six touchdowns -  is predicating a bounce back season in 2018 with hopes of a big money, long-term contract in 2019.

The offer was similar to that of Michael Crabtree's three-year, $21 million deal, according to NFL Insider Ian Rapoport. The Ravens had to offer Bryant a multi-year deal in order to fit his number under the salary cap.

Since turning down their offer, the Ravens signed former Saints WR Willie Snead to a two-year, $10.4 million contract. 

Bryant will now have to wait until after the 2018 NFL Draft to work out a deal with an organization, if one is still searching for a wide receiver going in to the tail end of his career.