Capitals

Oregon, K-State to meet in Fiesta Bowl

201212020014008781015-p2.jpeg

Oregon, K-State to meet in Fiesta Bowl

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) Oregon and Kansas State were atop the BCS standings just two weeks ago, each needing two wins for a likely trip to the BCS championship.

Those plans were derailed quickly with a loss on the same day, but they ended up with a nice consolation prize: A trip to the desert to face each other in the Fiesta Bowl.

And it should be a doozy.

Nos. 4 and 5 in the BCS standings, two of the nation's best offenses, a pair of Heisman Trophy contenders - yep, the Fiesta Bowl has done it again, pulling off a marquee matchup for the second straight year.

``(It's) not just the rankings, but type of teams, the kinds of exciting plays and players that they put on the field,'' Fiesta Bowl executive director Robert Shelton said Sunday night. ``We're thrilled.''

The fans should be too, again.

The 2012 Fiesta Bowl was certainly a memorable one: Oklahoma State vs. Stanford, Nos. 3 and 4 in the BCS, dynamic teams with two of the nation's best quarterbacks in Brandon Weeden and the Cardinal's Andrew Luck.

The game matched the hype, with the Cowboys outlasting Stanford 41-38 in overtime, giving the Fiesta Bowl a much-needed boost after nearly losing its BCS status due to financial improprieties and a dud of a game in 2011.

This year's game has the potential to one-up 2012.

Oregon (11-1) and its swarm-of-bees offense has been one of the nation's best teams under coach Chip Kelly, reaching the BCS title game in 2011 and winning the Rose Bowl for the first time in 95 years last season.

This year, the Ducks are loaded with fleet-footed players, rolling up yards in big chunks, scoring in bunches.

They have one of the most dynamic players in the country in running back Kenjon Barner, a Heisman Trophy hopeful, and quarterback Marcus Mariota had no trouble handling the pressure of running Oregon's potent attack as a freshman.

Oregon, No. 5 in the AP Top 25, finished the season second nationally with 50.8 points per game, fourth in total offense at 550 yards and will be making its fourth straight BCS bowl appearance. The Ducks also played at University of Phoenix Stadium when they lost to Auburn in the 2011 BCS title game.

``It's an amazing challenge,'' Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. ``They're extremely talented and well-coached collectively. Offensively, they go faster than the speed of light, so to speak.''

Snyder hasn't done too bad for himself in the Little Apple.

Orchestrator of what may be the biggest turnaround in college football history his first go-round in Manhattan, Snyder came out of retirement to re-energize K-State again in 2009 - in the stadium named after him, no less.

He led the Wildcats to the Pinstripe Bowl in 2010 and followed, after a 7-0 start, with a 10-win season and a trip to the 2011 Cotton Bowl.

This season, No. 7 Kansas State (11-1) opened some eyes by trouncing Miami in its second game and started to draw national attention by knocking off Oklahoma in Norman on Sept. 22. Behind the do-everything quarterback Collin Klein, another of the Heisman favorites, and a tough defense, the Wildcats kept piling up wins to become No. 1 in the BCS standings on Nov. 11 for the first time in school history.

The Wildcats averaged 40.7 points per game, 10th nationally, and have an opportunistic defense that led the nation in turnover margin at plus-21.

Kansas State is playing in its second BCS bowl, with the 2004 Fiesta Bowl.

``Obviously, the job that Bill Snyder has done in Kansas State, his first tour, now his second tour, he'll go down in history as one of the greatest college football coaches this game has ever seen,'' Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. ``He is a model for how to run your program does an outstanding job.''

Originally scheduled to play each other this season before the game fell through, Kansas State and Oregon were atop the BCS rankings after defending national champion Alabama lost to Texas A&M on Nov. 10.

All the Wildcats and Ducks had to do was win their final two games and they would almost assuredly play in the BCS title game.

They ended up losing on the same day, turning the BCS on end.

Kansas State fell flat under the pressure, run over 52-24 by unranked Baylor. The Ducks couldn't get their high-flying offense going against Stanford and lost 17-14 in overtime.

That moved Notre Dame up to No. 1 and put the SEC back in the BCS championship picture.

With its win over No. 3 Georgia this weekend, the Crimson Tide earned a spot in Miami on Jan. 7 to face the Fighting Irish for the national title.

Kansas State bounced back to beat Texas 42-24 on Saturday night, sending Wildcat fans rushing onto the field after the school earned its third conference championship in 117 years.

Oregon closed out its regular season a week earlier, rolling over No. 16 Oregon State 48-24 in the Civil War to keep its BCS bowl hopes alive.

The losses prevented the Wildcats and Ducks from playing for a national championship, but they sure gave the Fiesta Bowl a boost with another matchup that could be the 1A to the title game.

Quick Links

John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

In each of the first three games of the series, the Columbus Blue Jackets always had an answer for the Washington Capitals.

The Caps built a two-goal lead in each game and Columbus was able to battle back and tie it each time.

In Game 4 on Thursday, however. the Blue Jackets had no answer in a 4-1 loss to Washington and that includes head coach John Tortorella.

"We weren't good," Tortorella said to the media after the game. "There's no sense asking me things about the game. I'm telling you, we laid an egg. I'm not going to break it down for you. We sucked. We sucked."

Tortorella is known for having some fiery interactions with the media. By his standard, Thursday's postgame presser was fairly tame.

The Capitals may have won Game 3, but Columbus certainly looked like the better team for most of the night. That was not the case in Game 4 as Washington dominated from start to finish. That led to the contentious postgame presser.

"We laid an egg," Tortorella said. "That's all I have to say, guys. I'm sorry, I'm not going to break it down for you. Nothing went well for us. It's on us, we have to figure it out and we will."

Reporters continued to press the head coach until he finally walked out.

Before you laugh too hard at this, it is important to consider that this may be a calculated move by Tortorella.

Sure, there have been times in which he has lost his temper in the past, but these outbursts may be more premeditated than we think.

Consider this. After their worst game of the series, a game in which the Blue Jackets only scored once and saw a 2-0 series lead evaporate in two games at home, we're talking about the head coach. We're not talking about the loss or the performance of the players. Instead, we are talking about Tortorella walking out on reporters.

Even if Tortorella was not willing to give any answers on Thursday, he will need to find some soon. The series now shifts back to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday with all the momentum on the Caps' side.

RELATED LINKS: 

Quick Links

4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

The Caps put together their best performance of the series Thursday in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.

The win pulled Washington even with Columbus in the series 2-2.

Here's how the Caps got the big win.

4 Reasons why the Capitals beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

1. Tom Wilson factors in the offense

Wilson’s hands are good for more than just punching.

He proved that again on Thursday as he scored the first goal for the second consecutive game. Chandler Stephenson and John Carlson provided the pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky. With Bobrovsky scrambling in the crease, Evgeny Kuznetsov passed the puck back to Wilson who fired the one-timer past the Columbus netminder.

In the first two games of the series, Wilson had no points and no shots. In the last two games, he has two goals and 13 shots on goal.

2. A great keep-in by John Carlson

We saw how dangerous it was when penalty killers fail to clear the puck in Game 1 when the Caps failed to clear in the third period leading to the game-tying power play goal.

In Game 4, the roles were reversed. Trying to kill off an Artemi Panarin penalty, Cam Atkinson attempted to clear the puck with the backhand. Carlson skillfully corralled the puck out of the air at the blue line to keep it in the zone.

The power play was able to reset and T.J. Oshie scored the rebound goal soon after.

3. Braden Holtby closes the door to finish the second period

After the Caps took the 2-0 lead, the Blue Jackets made a late push to try to pull one back.

In the last 10 minutes of the second period, Columbus had 13 shot attempts, five of which were not net. Several of those shots were high-quality opportunities, but Holtby came up with the big saves that the team was not getting earlier in the series.

His play ensured the Caps took the 2-0 lead to the locker room.

4. Alex Ovechkin extends the lead to three

Washington entered the third period up 2-0. In each of the first three games, the Caps held a two-goal lead and allowed the Blue Jackets to battle back and tie the score. Even with a two-goal lead, it still felt at the start of the third that the next goal would decide the game. If Columbus pulled within one and got the crowd back on their side, we have seen what that momentum can do for them.

This time, however, Ovechkin struck first. After a board battle behind the net, the puck trickled out to the faceoff circle. Ovechkin grabbed it and quickly snapped the puck past Bobrovsky before anyone could react.

The goal gave Washington their first three-goal lead of the series and shut the Blue Jackets’ comeback down before it could begin.

RELATED LINKS: