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Stanford, Wisconsin set to meet in 99th Rose Bowl

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Stanford, Wisconsin set to meet in 99th Rose Bowl

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) Wisconsin believes its third straight trip to the Rose Bowl could be the charm. Stanford is hoping for another victory in its charmed run through the Bowl Championship Series.

The unranked Badgers (8-5) and the No. 8 Cardinal (11-2) will meet in the 99th edition of the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, the bowl formally announced Sunday night.

Arroyo Seco will be filled with fans wearing red and white when two schools with virtually identical colors play a rematch of the 2000 Rose Bowl, won 17-9 by Wisconsin with Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Ron Dayne.

That loss was Stanford's most recent trip to the Granddaddy of Them All, while the Badgers lost the last two Rose Bowls to TCU and Oregon.

Although this matchup was highly unlikely just a few weeks ago, both teams' coaches already seem certain that a collision between two big, powerful teams who disdain most of college football's newfangled trickery could be a real throwback - with a perfect showcase in this tradition-soaked bowl.

``We've talked about how we admire how each other plays,'' Stanford coach David Shaw said. ``This is probably going to be the first team for the both of us that's almost like a mirror image. I think our guys are going to see things they go against in training camp. There's going to be a little bit of a chess match as we go into this thing, but it's going to be exciting to see something familiar on film.''

Stanford is in its third consecutive BCS bowl, a nearly unimaginable feat just six seasons ago when coach Jim Harbaugh took over the long-struggling program at a school with lofty academic standards and a fan base dwarfed by the conference's big-name football schools.

``This has been our goal all along, throughout the year, through our highs and lows,'' Shaw said. ``I think we're going to have an exciting game. I think you're going to hear a lot of mutual respect. I think we admire how each other plays.''

Wisconsin is no stranger to surprising occurrences after this weekend. The Badgers seemed highly unlikely to make their third straight Rose Bowl after a series of narrow losses, but they stunned Nebraska 70-31 on Saturday in the Big Ten title game to earn yet another sun-splashed break from the Wisconsin winter for their hearty fan base.

``We played our way into it with a win this week, and we're very excited to return to Pasadena and have the opportunity to play against a great opponent,'' Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. ``It's a matchup I knew our kids were instantly excited about in the locker room last night.''

Harbaugh and quarterback Andrew Luck led Stanford's turnaround over the past four years, but those two NFL-bound leaders never managed what Shaw and freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan did in the past month by winning the conference title and getting the Cardinal back to Pasadena.

After beating No. 1 Oregon 17-14 in an overtime thriller two weeks ago, Stanford beat UCLA twice in seven days, clinching the Rose Bowl berth with another nail-biter at Stanford Stadium on Friday night.

Stanford hasn't won the Rose Bowl since the Indians - as the Cardinal were known until 1972 - earned back-to-back victories following the 1970 and 1971 seasons. Quarterback Jim Plunkett led the first win to cap his Heisman Trophy season.

The Badgers finished third in their division, but capitalized on their chance to play for the title with Ohio State and Penn State ineligible for postseason play. After routing the Cornhuskers, the Badgers became the first five-loss team ever to reach the Rose Bowl - and just the second Big Ten team to play in three straight Rose Bowls, joining Michigan in the late 1970s.

``I think this year, because of the trials and tribulations we've been through as a team, it's just been a really popular team with our fans because of the way we've played,'' Bielema said. ``I think we'll give (the fans) a really good reason to travel.''

Wisconsin wasn't as mediocre as its 7-5 regular-season record indicated, however. Those five losses were by a combined 19 points, including three overtime defeats - and the Badgers left little doubt they're the best bowl-eligible team in the Big Ten with their demolition of Nebraska, the odds-on favorite to return to the stadium where the Huskers lost to UCLA back in September.

Star tailback Montee Ball is among the Badgers who will be playing in their third Rose Bowl. He rushed for 132 yards against TCU and 164 against Oregon, but Wisconsin lost a 21-19 nail-biter to the Horned Frogs before the Ducks shredded their defense for 621 yards in last year's 45-38 victory - the highest-scoring Rose Bowl ever played.

``We've just got to play better,'' Bielema said. ``There's no doubt we played two very good football teams that were able to beat us in games that came down the wire on that field.''

Stanford's entire renaissance has been leading to this trip down the California coast, ever since Harbaugh took over a moribund program in 2007 and immediately engineered one of the biggest upsets in college football history, beating No. 2 Southern California as a 41-point underdog.

Harbaugh and Shaw, his offensive coordinator, finally put together a winning season in 2009 to earn the Cardinal's first bowl appearance since 2001. Stanford then went 12-1 and beat Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl in 2010 before Harbaugh's departure to the San Francisco 49ers.

The Cardinal didn't miss a beat when Shaw took over, with Luck leading them to an 11-2 season ending with an overtime loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl. Stanford bounced back from early losses to Washington and Notre Dame this season with a spectacular finish, including that suffocating defensive performance against the previously dominant Ducks - on Oregon's home field, no less.

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Braden Holtby puts loss to Tampa solely on his own shoulders

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USA TODAY Sports

Braden Holtby puts loss to Tampa solely on his own shoulders

The mood in the Capitals locker room following a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday was one of frustration. Forty minutes of strong play from Washington amounted to nothing because of a disastrous opening first period in which the Lightning jumped out to a 3-0 lead.

No one in the locker room was more frustrated than Braden Holtby.

"Obviously you don't want to go down three," he told reporters after the game. "That's on no one else but me. The third goal, especially the third, fourth goal, that's the difference in the game. I thought we played a really strong game against a really good team. We should have got a better result and that's on me why we didn't."

Tampa scored three goals in the first off of only eight shots. For the game, the Lightning managed to pierce Holtby four times off of only 19 shots.

RELATED: WHY THE CAPS LOST TO THE LIGHTNING

Frustration seemed to boil over on the fourth goal when a normally stoic Holtby was visibly upset after allowing Nikita Kucherov to beat him on a breakaway in a play similar to what we saw in the All-Star Game.

See for yourself:

"The key to getting better is learning from your mistakes and obviously I didn't do that," Holtby said. "I was just trying to play it patient. I wasn't trying to cheat towards that move and he came at it a different way. That's on me for not recognizing it. That's not a goal I can give up in that situation after our team battled the way they did, especially in the third."

The frustration Holtby feels likely is not the result of one goal, but the culmination of a recent slump that continues to plague the Vezina winner.

Holtby has lost four straight starts and has given up at least four goals in each of those games.

While Holtby was quick to take the blame for Tuesday's loss, head coach Barry Trotz was quick to defend his netminder.

"No one takes the loss," he said. "We all take a loss. I take a loss, the group takes a loss and Braden's part of the group. ... He's had a little tough stretch. It's no different than, we've got guys that haven't scored in 15, 20 games. It's no different than a player."

The challenge now is overcoming that slump.

For a slumping skater, Trotz could try different line combinations or play someone in different situations over the course of the game. Getting a starting goalie out of a slump, however, is more difficult. Most of the work has to be done in practice with the hope that it will carry over into the next game.

"You analyze how the goals are going in, what you're doing differently," Holtby said. "There's always some stuff that you can't control and stuff that you can and it's focusing on those contrallables that you can make a difference at. Like the first goal in Chicago, the last two goals here, those are goals that I could and should stop. You get to practice the next day and you focus on that and work hard until you figure it out so you don't do it again."

MORE CAPITALS: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FROM CAPS-LIGHTNING

Part of the problem in Washington is that team defense is the Caps' biggest weakness. For most of the season, and even in years past, Holtby has made up for much of the team's mistakes on the backend. Now that he is slumping those mistakes become much more glaring and costly.

"The goaltenders in this league are erasers," Trotz said.

Lately, Holtby has not been able to erase those mistakes.

But the team has already moved to address the defense. Brian MacLellan added a puck-moving defenseman in Michal Kempny to help the team get the puck out of the defensive zone more quickly. Waiving Taylor Chorney could also signify another move may be coming before Monday's trade deadline.

As for Trotz, even during the slump, he made clear his confidence in Holtby has not wavered.

"He has been a rock since the day I've been here the last four years and he's been an elite goaltender and I look at him that way."

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2018 Olympic Hockey Results: Czech Republic eliminate U.S. men in shootout winner

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USA Today Sports

2018 Olympic Hockey Results: Czech Republic eliminate U.S. men in shootout winner

GANGNEUNG, South Korea -- Pavel Francouz stopped all five shooters and Petr Kouka scored the shootout winner as the Czech Republic eliminated the United States with a 3-2 victory in the quarterfinals Wednesday.

Jan Kovar and Tomas Kundratek scored in regulation for the Czech Republic, which was fresher after winning its group and getting a bye into the quarterfinals. The U.S. looked fatigued after facing Slovakia in the qualification round and was outshot 29-20.

Ryan Donato and Jim Slater scored for the U.S, which again was led by its youngest players, including speedster Troy Terry. U.S. goaltender Ryan Zapolski allowed three goals on 29 shots and one in the shotoout, while Francouz stopped 18 in regulation and overtime.

Koukal was the only player to score in overtime. Chris Bourque, Ryan Donato, Marc Arcobello, Terry and Bobby Butler couldn't beat Francouz.

RELATED: OVECHKIN HAS LITTLE DESIRE TO WATCH 2018 WINTER OLYMPICS