Notre Dame can cap perfect home season with win


Notre Dame can cap perfect home season with win

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Third-ranked Notre Dame hasn't been dominating at home this season. The Fighting Irish have been unbeatable, though, and that's not something they have been able to say since 1998.

The Irish have needed overtime to win two of those games and have won their other three games at Notre Dame Stadium by a combined 13 points. Yet they are a victory over Wake Forest (5-5) away from going undefeated at home for the first time in 14 years.

``One of our goals, a tangible goal for us, was to protect our home field. We felt, I felt, I think everybody in the program felt, that if you want to take that next step in terms of success, you got to win at home,'' Kelly said Tuesday.

Since going 6-0 under Davie in 1998, the Irish had a 52-31 record at home in 13 seasons heading this year, averaging a mediocre four wins a season and 2.4 losses. There were some embarrassing losses during that streak, including two of the three most lopsided losses in the history of Notre Dame Stadium: a 38-0 loss to No. 13 Southern Cal under Charlie Weis in 2007 and a 37-0 loss to No. 5 Florida State under Tyrone Willingham in 2003.

The only worse home loss was a 40-0 defeat to No. 2 Oklahoma in 1956.

The also lost 45-14 to Southern Cal in 2003, 33-3 to unranked Georgia Tech in 2007 and 24-23 in 2008 to a Syracuse team that had won just two games previously and had told coach Greg Robinson he was fired effective at the end of the season. Kelly had a few bad home losses of his own, losing 28-27 to Tulsa in 2010 and 23-20 to South Florida in last year's season-opener.

But the Irish haven't been beaten at home since a 31-17 loss to Southern California on Oct. 22, 2011. They've won seven straight games, the longest home winning streak since winning 10 straight from 1997-99 under Bob Davie. But the last six have been by a touchdown or less, a concern Kelly is still trying to find an answer for.

Still, Kelly dreams of the day the Irish can put up the kind of home record Oklahoma has. The Sooners are 80-5 in 14 seasons under Bob Stoops.

``We want to have that kind of legacy. We want to build that kind of dominance at home. The first step is winning all your games at home, which hasn't happened in a long time,'' Kelly said. ``So we actually talked about that yesterday, how important it is for us to finish the season undefeated at home. Our guys know that as a real goal.''

Asked if he could picture having that type of record at Notre Dame Stadium, Kelly replied: ``Yeah, if I stay employed here long enough. That's the toughest part. If you can stay in one place long enough you've got to a chance to do that. I think we've won 18 out of our last 20 regular-season games. We're moving toward that direction. Now just need to keep doing that.''

Kelly also said Tuesday that cornerback KeiVarae Russell has been cleared to play after sustaining a head injury against Boston College. Kelly also said nose guard Louis Nix III was not subject to any further penalty after being ejected from the BC game for unsportsmanlike conduct.

He also said the Irish would be counting on receivers John Goodman, Daniel Smith, Chris Brown and others to make up for the loss of DaVaris Daniels, who sustained a broken left clavicle against Boston College. Daniels is expected to miss the final two games, but is expected to be ready to play in a bowl game.

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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 


The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall reamins out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.

The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.


The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.

By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine, if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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Game 74 Capitals at Red Wings Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread


Game 74 Capitals at Red Wings Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Detroit Red Wings

Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Mich.

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Red Wings will be broadcast on NBCSN.

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Red Wings game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


The Capitals (42-24-7) take on the Red Wings (27-35-11) Thursday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Detroit.


The Capitals-Red Wings game will be broadcast on NBCSN. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Check back with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. for postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Red Wings (on NBCSN)
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime


Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Red Wings game:

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

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Philipp Grubauer starts with Braden Holtby as backup

Scratches: Evgeny Kuznetsov (upper body injury), Alex Chiasson, Jakub Jerabek


You can watch the Capitals-Red Wings game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


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.