Nationals

Beck: Huskers to be in trouble if heads not right

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Beck: Huskers to be in trouble if heads not right

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Nebraska is still smarting from that 39-point loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game, and few people outside the state believe the No. 23 Cornhuskers are capable of beating sixth-ranked Georgia in the Capital One Bowl.

The challenge for Bo Pelini and his coaches between now and Jan. 1 is to make sure the players have moved on emotionally.

``If we have a hangover,'' offensive coordinator Tim Beck said, ``it's going to get ugly.''

The Huskers (10-3) have begun preparing in earnest for the Bulldogs (11-2) after going through short workouts last week. The players will be dismissed for Christmas on Thursday. They'll return to Lincoln next Wednesday and travel that afternoon to Orlando, Fla.

``I guess we treat this like the Rose Bowl game that we should have gone to, and I'm still frustrated about that,'' quarterback Taylor Martinez said.

Beck described himself and the rest of the team as ``shell-shocked'' in the days following the 70-31 beating by the Badgers. Yet the mood was light after Tuesday's practice. Players yukked it up with each other as they walked off the field, and defensive end Eric Martin clowned around with Martinez while the quarterback was speaking with reporters.

Martinez said he doesn't think the meltdown against Wisconsin will carry over to the bowl.

Running back Ameer Abdullah lamented the lost opportunity.

``It hurt,'' he said. ``We worked so hard, with all the comeback victories, but you have to have short-term memory. The season isn't over. We can't drag that same attitude into the bowl game. We have to get our spirits back up and practice hard.''

Georgia is the highest-ranked bowl opponent since the Huskers took on top-ranked Miami in the Rose Bowl game that decided the 2001 national championship. The Huskers are 10-point underdogs.

The Bulldogs have a three-year starter in quarterback Aaron Murray, who ranks second nationally in pass efficiency, and the powerful freshman running-back combination of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.

The 6-foot-1, 218-pound Gurley leads all freshman rushers with 1,260 yards, and the 5-11, 216-pound Marshall has run for 723 yards.

Georgia allowed 10 or fewer points in five games and features the Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year in outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who leads the Bulldogs with 12.5 sacks despite missing two games.

Asked what scares him about Georgia's defense, Martinez said, ``Nothing. They're like any other Big Ten defense. Big Ten defenses are the best in the country, and we're going up against a good Georgia defense. We have to look at it like that.''

Beck said the Bulldogs' defense is ``too big and too athletic'' to compare with any in the Big Ten.

``They're an Oklahoma, a Texas, a South Carolina,'' Beck said. ``They do a lot of different things. They run around and make plays all over the place.''

Georgia narrowly missed a chance to play for the national championship, losing 32-28 to Alabama in the SEC title game.

The Huskers, however, aren't buying into the hype of the SEC, which has won six straight national titles.

``It doesn't matter what conference they come from,'' Abdullah said. ``There are a lot of good teams around the country. It's not just because they come from the SEC that they hold some special powers.''

It's the second straight season Nebraska has played in the Capital One against an SEC team. Last January the Huskers lost 30-13 to South Carolina after a second-half implosion.

Nebraska is playing for its first 11-win season since 2001 and the 13th in program history. The Huskers have never lost fewer than four games under Pelini, who's in his fifth season. A win over the Bulldogs would create a positive vibe for Nebraska as it goes into next season. Significant starting experience will return at eight positions on offense and at five on defense.

``11-3 sounds a heck of a lot better than 10-4,'' Abdullah said.

Beck said the bowl can cushion the blow of the Wisconsin debacle. He said the players and coaches prepared for Badgers as well as they did for any opponent.

``Why did it turn out that way? It wasn't our night,'' Beck said. ``As bad as it stings and as bad as I know they're not that much better than we are, points-wise, it's over. You've got to move on. There are a lot of great things these guys have done in this program, a lot of great things happened this year, and one game isn't going to define it for me and for them.''

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How will MLB's new extra inning with a runner on second rule work strategically?

How will MLB's new extra inning with a runner on second rule work strategically?

Major League Baseball is going to be bizarre in 2020. A 60-game schedule. The designated hitter in the National League. No fans.

But the change a lot of baseball fans might have the toughest getting used to is the tweak to extra innings. Each team will begin each extra inning with a man on second base. The crew from the Nationals Talk podcast had differing opinions on the new rule.

“I absolutely love it,” NBC Sports Washington's Nick Ashooh said.

Team reporter Todd Dybas did not agree.

“The rule is dumb. It goes against everything that baseball is about.”

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Chase Hughes broke the tie. “I’m a no on the rule too. I’m with Todd.”

What about the strategy of starting with a man on second base? Could team's exploit or alter the ending of the previous frame to set up a new inning? 

The rule states: “The runner placed on second base at the start of each half-inning shall be the player (or a substitute for such player) in the batting order immediately preceding that half-inning’s leadoff hitter.”

Dybas wondered if it would be wise to end the previous inning on purpose if a speedster is at the plate with two outs.

“Would it behoove [Giants'] Billy Hamilton to make the final out? So the next inning he would start at second base?” Hamilton is a career .242 hitting but has 299 stolen bases in 809 games played. 

RELATED: COULD MORE OPT-OUTS BE COMING? 

Frustration will also be inevitable. “I can’t wait to hear from the players on the first team to lose by that rule,” Hughes said. “What are they going to say?” 

2020 has already thrown us plenty of curveballs, the changes to baseball will just be a couple more the sports world will have to adjust to. 

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Charles Barkley jokingly admits he doesn't know anyone on the Wizards besides John Wall and Bradley Beal

Charles Barkley jokingly admits he doesn't know anyone on the Wizards besides John Wall and Bradley Beal

Without John Wall, Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans, Washington's three best players, the Wizards hopes of making the playoffs in the NBA's Orlando restart have taken a hit.

On Thursday, Wizards coach Scott Brooks joined the Inside the NBA team on TNT, where Charles Barkley genuinely asked him who has to step up for the team when the games begin.

Brooks' response was unexpected, yet also hilarious. Here was the exchange:

Barkley: "Obviously, without John and Bradley, your two best players, give us two names that really need to step up for you guys."

Brooks: "Well, I think we should play that game where you name two guys on our team besides those two guys." 

Barkley: "Let me tell you something, I don't know anybody on your team! So I want you to tell us two players on your team."

To Barkley's credit, much of the national media has not paid any attention to the Wizards this season. The team only had one game on national TV this season, a November clash with the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers.

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When basketball does resume, the Wizards are six games back of the Orlando Magic for the eighth spot in the East. Washington needs to make up two games over the final eight contests in order to force a play-in game for the conference's final playoff spot.

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