Capitals

No. 4 K-State, No. 17 WVU in top Big 12 battle

No. 4 K-State, No. 17 WVU in top Big 12 battle

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) Collin Klein vs. Geno Smith. A showcase of Heisman Trophy contenders. A share of Big 12 supremacy at stake.

No. 4 Kansas State at No. 17 West Virginia has implications on several fronts.

The Wildcats (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) can keep first place to themselves on Saturday night in Morgantown while maintaining their national championship hopes.

The Mountaineers (5-1, 2-1) had similar dreams dashed at Texas Tech last week, but they still have BCS aspirations and will try to create a three-way tie atop the conference.

Smith might need one of his typical stratospheric passing games to get it done. Standing in his way is the mobile Klein, who has climbed into the Heisman Trophy discussion alongside Smith.

``It's going to be West Virginia's offense versus Kansas State's defense and vice versa,'' Smith said. ``That's really all it comes down to.''

The pair met in July at the Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana, Smith was a superlative thrower and Klein a run-first human cannonball whose 85-yard rushing average is 1 yard better than West Virginia's top back, Andrew Buie.

``He's a cool guy,'' Smith said of Klein. ``But I also know he's a competitor and he's going to be ready to play.''

Klein says it's fun to watch Smith and ``I appreciate what he does.''

But ``my main focus is must making sure our team is successful,'' Klein said. ``Whatever my piece of that puzzle looks like, I'll be happy with. We are all as a team trying to prepare to play the best game that we have played - we try to do that every week. It's just another step in the journey. We've just got to make sure we do the very best we possibly can to make sure it's a good and solid step.''

West Virginia has been in close games in two of its last three contests. Same for the Wildcats, who are going after their third Big 12 road win in a month after beating Oklahoma and Iowa State by less than a touchdown.

Kansas State hasn't allowed more than 21 points all season but goes up against a West Virginia team that has averaged 57 in three home contests.

Something's got to give Saturday night.

``I believe we can put up a lot of points,'' Smith said. ``But I also know that the game is not going to be easy. Those guys have a great defense and they practice hard, they're very experienced so we've got to make sure we're on the same page and come out confident and ready to ball.''

Klein also could make mincemeat out of the Mountaineers defense, which has allowed an average of 52 points over the last three weeks and gave up 18 plays of 15 yards or more in the blowout loss at Texas Tech that sent West Virginia tumbling in the rankings.

``It's going to be a battle,'' Klein said. ``I know they maybe are in a little different spot than what they expected to be going into this game. Again, we know we're going to get their best shot regardless. It's just a matter of trying to prepare the best that we possibly can during this week.''

While Texas Tech's Seth Doege ripped the Mountaineers for 499 yards and six TDs, West Virginia anticipates a mixed attack from Klein, who leads the Big 12 with 10 rushing touchdowns.

``We try and junk up the box and stop the run and put more people in there, but then you are weak on the outside,'' said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. ``He throws it to those fast guys outside, and we have to make plays out there.''

West Virginia was unable to mimic Klein in practice because the only player the Mountaineers had in mind was 6-foot-5 wide receiver Will Johnson, was has been out with a back problem. But Kansas State probably didn't have anyone on the scout team with the arm of Smith, either.

Smith is coming off his toughest outing of the season in which he was limited to one touchdown pass last week. Still, for the year, he has 25 TDs, no interceptions, a completion percentage of 75, and 379 passing yards per game. He's thrown 313 consecutive passes without an interception dating to last season - 66 shy of Russell Wilson's FBS record.

``If you keep them out of the end zone and off the field, that is a real positive thing,'' said Kansas State coach Bill Snyder.

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Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Lightning will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Lightning game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals (34-18-7) take on the Lightning (39-17-3) Tuesday, February 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Washington.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME ON?

The Capitals-Lightning game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Lightning
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Lightning game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Taylor Chorney

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals-Lightning game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).

CAPITALS-LIGHTNING OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 20, 22 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

Galette to be a valued free agent

Originally published 12/13/17

Like the Redskins, the Broncos are no longer relevant in 2017. Both teams’ fan bases have started to look towards the coming offseason.

To give their readers what they want, the Denver Post published an article by Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus that discussed some of the top pending free agents who have done the most to increase their values in the past year. There were two Redskins named, one you would expect to see on such a list and one that might surprise some people.

Kirk Cousins is at the top of the list. “The Washington signal-caller is grading as a top-10 quarterback (82.8), and soon he’ll have the long-term contract of one,” Renner wrote. “Only this time its value will be exponentially higher than any one he would have signed back when he first became a free agent in 2016.”

But the surprising name is that of Junior Galette. After missing the last two seasons with two torn Achilles tendons, he played this year on a one-year, $800,000 deal. And while he hasn’t been on fire in the sack department with just two on the year, he has been getting pressure on the passer.

“He’s accumulated the 27th-highest pass-rushing grade of any edge defender this season, but in only 264 snaps,” wrote Renner. “At 29 years of age, it’s doubtful he ever gets back to the level of the contract that he once had on the table with New Orleans. With how he’s played this season though, some pass-rush-needy team will pay handsomely for his services.”

One team that could be considered to be pass rush needy is the Redskins. Preston Smith is the starter and supposedly one of the Redskins’ top pass rushers. But in 100 fewer pass rush snaps this year, Galette has only three fewer quarterback hits than Smith and six more hurries.

And after missing those two seasons, Galette has remained healthy. Although he was limited with a hamstring during much of the preseason, he has not missed a practice or appeared on an injury report this year.

But would the Redskins be willing to pay him “handsomely”? Perhaps a good comp would be Connor Barwin, who moved from the Eagles to the Rams this past offseason at the age of 31. He had five sacks in Philly in 2016. That got him a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.

Barwin likely will have more sacks on his ledger going into free agency so let’s say Galette could command around $3 million. Perhaps he could offer Washington a bit of a hometown discount and agree to something in the $2.75 million range. If that is the case, the Redskins would be smart to keep him around for another year.

Plenty of things could alter the equation. If Galette gets hot in the last three games and posts a few more sacks his price could rise. With Smith and Ryan Kerrigan both back next year, perhaps Galette will want to go somewhere that he might get more playing time.

The details need to be sorted out but don’t be surprised if Galette gets a lot of attention in free agency, as much as teams need pass rush, and if the Redskins have to make a very tough decision about how much he is worth.

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 9
—NFL Draft (4/26) 65
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 201