Wizards

Bama-UGA gearing up for latest huge SEC title game

201211241325483121965-p2.jpeg

Bama-UGA gearing up for latest huge SEC title game

Alabama coach Nick Saban finds plenty to like about competing in a league where the champion has a near-automatic reservation to the BCS national title game.

That's the case again for Saturday's Southeastern Conference championship game between the second-ranked Crimson Tide and No. 3 Georgia. The winner advances to meet No. 1 Notre Dame with a chance to keep the national championship in the SEC for a seventh straight year.

And the loser? Well, that team might be shut out of the BCS picture because No. 5 Florida is in line to grab that spot. Saban is less thrilled about that prospect - another side effect of playing in the SEC.

``For either one of these teams, it's not really a great scenario,'' Saban said on a conference call Sunday. ``You play your way into the championship game, which means you're the best team in your division. They're the best team in their division. They played their way into the game by a total body of work for the whole season. It doesn't seem quite right, but it is what it is.

``I don't really know what me commenting about it is going to do to change it, but I don't feel good about it for our football team or their football team.''

Then again, he wasn't complaining when the Tide (11-1, 7-1) landed in the BCS title game against LSU last season without winning the West.

The Bulldogs (11-1, 7-1) rebounded from a 35-7 loss at South Carolina on Oct. 6 to win the East for the second straight season.

Georgia coach Mark Richt said he doesn't want his team getting caught up in the stakes and magnitude of the game.

``All you can do is get your staff and your team as prepared as possible to go play a game,'' Richt said. ``That's what we're going to do. If you think about what the game means, this that and the other, it doesn't really help you win the game. The only thing that helps you win the game is preparation and getting your mind ready to go to battle. That's what you've got to do.

``Physically, mentally, be ready to handle your business when the ball kicks off. That's my only focus. I don't worry about all that stuff.''

Coincidentally, Georgia beat Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl for its only AP title to end the 1980 season.

Richt isn't drawing too much from that history.

``That's the first time anybody's brought that up to me,'' he said. ``I can't worry about all that stuff. We're just working like mad trying to get a game plan ready to go this week. That's all I can say.''

Georgia earned the trip down the road to Atlanta with a win over Florida to claim the tiebreaker. The Gators were ranked third at the time, but Richt can still draw from that win when asked how his team will handle a big game even if his memory is a touch off.

``We've already played the No. 2 team in the country once this year and had a good day against Florida,'' he said.

The game will feature the nation's two most efficient passers, Georgia's Aaron Murray and Alabama's AJ McCarron. Alabama comes in leading the nation in scoring and total defense.

Both teams are coming off blowout wins over in-state rivals.

The Tide produced its fourth shutout of the season with a 49-0 win over Auburn. Georgia dispatched Georgia Tech 42-10.

This is Alabama's eighth time in an SEC championship game but the first time the team has played someone other than the Gators.

The Tide is aiming for its second straight national title and third in four years. Saban still talks like a guy gunning for his first.

``Regardless of what you've accomplished in the past, this is the most important game we're going to play this entire year for our team,'' he said.

``I'm always looking forward to the next challenge. When I can't do that, I probably shouldn't do this anymore. ``

Quick Links

Dwight Howard improving, but status still unknown entering Wizards' season opener

dwight_injury.jpg
NBCSW

Dwight Howard improving, but status still unknown entering Wizards' season opener

Dwight Howard may play in the Wizards' regular-season opener on Thursday night against the Miami Heat, but the team will not know until the day of the game and likely won't announce the decision either way until head coach Scott Brooks addresses the media about two hours before tipoff.

Howard only has three practices under his belt but has made significant progress throughout this week after missing all five of the team's preseason games due to a strain in his piriformis muscle.

Head coach Scott Brooks said Howard has looked good in those three practices but has a lot of missed time to make up for.

"I think he's definitely winded at times, but that's part of it," Brooks said.

Brooks added that Howard is not getting the same lift when jumping that he's used to. Howard, 32, is used to playing above the rim and his vertical leap is an important part of his game.

The Wizards play their first two games at home, the second on Saturday against the Raptors. They then embark on a Western Conference road trip beginning with the Blazers on Monday.

Brooks said Howard will "definitely" make that trip with the team, which gives a good indication of how close he is to returning to game action. When Howard is ready to play will be left up to the team's medical staff.

If Howard does miss time, the Wizards are expected to rely on his backup Ian Mahinmi as the starting center. Jason Smith would then become the No. 2 center on the depth chart, though they could use forwards like Markieff Morris or Jeff Green at the five-spot.

Howard signed a two-year free-agent deal worth $11 million to join the Wizards in July.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

Capitals vs. Rangers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Capitals vs. Rangers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Capitals (2-2-1) were dealt a herky-jerky schedule for the first month of the NHL season, already having logged two back-to-backs and two extended breaks.  But Washington finally gets a semblance of normalcy when they host the New York Rangers (2-4) on Wednesday night in the first of two home games before heading out west to end the month.

The Caps enter the Wednesday Night Hockey tilt with their longtime regional foes having dropped a thrilling weekend showdown against the Toronto Maple Leafs and their high-powered attack. The Rangers have long been a thorn in the side of the Capitals and fans alike. But the team that will hit the ice at Capital One Arena on Oct. 17 will be one that Capitals need to dispatch of with ease.

The team's first foray into defending a championship has been a wild ride with ceremonies, openers, rematches and a lot of time off. After dropping the first three games of the season, New York has won two of its last three,  with both games needing extra time.

Here is everything you need to know about Capitals vs. Rangers which takes place at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

CAPITALS vs. RANGERs HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers, Game 6 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season

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

When: Wednesday, October 17 at 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals vs. Rangers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network. (NBC Sports Washington Channel Finder)

Live Stream: Watch Capitals vs. Rangers on  the NBC Sports Washington live stream page and  the NBC Sports MyTeams App.

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS vs. RANGERS TV SCHEDULE

6:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
7:00 PM: Capitals vs. Rangers on NBC Sports Network
9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live
10:00 PM: Caps Overtime Live

CAPITALS vs. RANGERS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Braden Holtby, G. Capitals: Holtby has started four of the Capitals' first five games. He's allowed just two goals in the Capitals' two wins, but has given up 11 in the two losses. That being said, the Rangers do not have the caliber of fire-power possessed by the Penguins and Maple Leafs. Expect a big game from "The HoltBeast."

Mats Zuccarello, Rangers: The Rangers savvy veteran leads the team in assists (5) and points (50 through the first six games. While he's not the most dangerous threat on offense, he's the table setter and crafty elder statesman. 

CAPITALS vs. RANGERS SERIES HISTORY

Number of all-time Meetings: 273

All-Time Series Record: Capitals lead series 131–117–18–7

Regular Season Record: Capitals lead series 103–90–18–7

Playoff Record: Capitals lead series 28-27

Last Meeting: Capitals beat Rangers 3-2 OT (3/28/2018)

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: