Big 12 working on preferred bowl lineup, schedules

Big 12 working on preferred bowl lineup, schedules

IRVING, Texas (AP) Big 12 athletic directors worked Tuesday to determine the league's preferred bowl lineup with the anticipation that the Cotton Bowl will become part of college football's new playoff system.

The 2 1/2-hour discussion about bowl lineups took up a bulk of the agenda on the second day of the regular scheduled meeting. The ADs also discussed football scheduling with Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and other league officials.

Most of their first day was spent discussing the makeup of the 10-team league and ``what-if'' scenarios about staying at that number or eventually expanding.

``We feel very good about our current lot in life. We like our revenue distribution, we like our competition, we like our composition. We feel very good about where we are,'' Bowlsby said after the meetings wrapped up Tuesday. ``Beyond that, we'd be unwise to be oblivious to all that is going on around us. We need to be constantly vigilant. I think in coming out of these meetings we're prepared very well for that vigilance.''

According to Forbes, the Big 12 will generate about $26.2 million per team this school year through network television deals, bowl games and NCAA tournaments. That's the highest per-team average of any conference.

The Big 12 had nine of its 10 teams to bowl games this past season. No other league had ever sent 90 percent of its teams to a bowl in the same season.

Bowlsby said Tuesday started with a quick recap of what was discussed the first day to make sure there was nothing else the ADs wanted to talk about after thinking about it overnight. There was none.

``There was nothing more on conference composition today at all,'' Bowlsby said.

So they moved on to the primary agenda items of bowls and schedules.

While the first semifinal games in the new playoff system at the end of the 2014 season will be played in the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl, the site of the first championship game hasn't been selected. Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, where the Cotton Bowl is played, is seemingly a front-runner for that title game and then to be in the rotation for semifinal games after that.

When all that is finally settled in the next few months, the Big 12 will be ready to work on other bowls.

``Once we know the host bowls, we're going to be anxious after that to put some deals together and we've got to go to that bowl which we think we want to have first after the so-called system, and try and get a deal with them, and then go to the second one after the system,'' Bowlsby said. ``This was just a way to sort of identify our priorities.''

Under current arrangements through the 2013 season, the Cotton Bowl gets the top pick of Big 12 teams not in the BCS.

Bowlsby said it would be a ``fair projection'' that the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, which now has the next pick after the Cotton Bowl, or the Meineke Bowl in Houston could move up in the picking order if the Cotton Bowl is in the playoff rotation.

``They've both expressed a desire to move up and-or maintain a high level of association and Texas is always going to be our core,'' Bowlsby said. ``It meets the priorities from a destination and travel standpoint, so yeah, they're certainly in the mix to replace it.''

Another priority for the Big 12 is getting a tie-in with one of the Florida bowls. Bowlsby said the league has had conversations with Gator Bowl officials and two other bowls in Florida.

``California, Florida, and Texas comprise more recruits than the whole rest of the country combined,'' Bowlsby said. ``That's been a shortcoming of our bowl lineup in the past, and we need to fix it if we can.''

The Big 12 already has a bowl agreement with the Holiday Bowl in San Diego.

On scheduling of conference games, Bowlsby said the main topic there was putting together future schedules based around a set of principles, such as not having more than two road games in a row, instead of particular matchups.

The commissioner did say the Oklahoma-Texas game would be kept in the first three weeks of October during the State Fair of Texas.

``We've got this set of principles, we'll send you a schedule that meets the principles. And some years you're going to get a better schedule, and other years you're going to get a worse schedule,'' Bowlsby said. ``But it has to be acceptable if it meets the principles, so that's what we spent our time on.''

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The Capitals didn't clinch a playoff spot on Tuesday and that’s a good thing

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The Capitals didn't clinch a playoff spot on Tuesday and that’s a good thing

The Capitals had a chance to clinch a playoff berth on Tuesday. In order to do so, three things had to happen. First, they had to beat the Carolina Hurricanes. They also had to have both the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Montreal Canadiens lose in regulation.

Washington got the 4-1 win over Carolina, but the Blue Jackets won meaning the Caps did not get to punch their ticket to the postseason just yet.

But you won’t hear any complaining from Washington.

Columbus played the New York Islanders on Tuesday, the team locked in a tight race with the Caps for the division crown. Heading into Tuesdays’ games, Washington held a narrow one-point lead over the Islanders for first place. For the Blue Jackets to lose, it would have meant giving the Islanders two points in the standings. With the Caps'’ win and New York’s loss, Washington’s lead in the standings is now at three points giving the Caps a bit of breathing room with just five games remaining in the season.

Washington may not have clinched a playoff spot, but their magic number is now down to two points. The Caps sit at 98 points and the most points either Montreal or Columbus can get to is 100. Those teams play one another on Thursday, which means someone is going to lose. Any combination of two points earned by Washington and lost by either Columbus and Montreal will put the Caps in.

Washington may not have clinched a playoff berth on Tuesday, but it was still a pretty darn good night all things considered for the Caps.


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Capitals take first of home-and-home with Carolina to extend their division lead

Capitals take first of home-and-home with Carolina to extend their division lead

Round one goes to the Capitals. After battling to a 1-1 tie through 40 minutes, Washington broke the game open in the third period with three goals to down the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 on Tuesday in the first leg of a home-and-home.

The Caps will travel to Carolina for the rematch on Thursday. Tuesday's win extends Washington's lead over the Metropolitan Division to three points after the New York Islanders fell 4-0 to the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday.

Here are four reasons the Caps won.

No. 49 for No. 8

Alex Ovechkin has been running away with the goal-scoring lead for much of the season. He had not scored in his last four games, however, and had only two goals in his last nine. When John Tavares scored four goals on Monday to pull within three of Ovechkin, you knew Ovechkin was going to respond.

Sure enough, he did, and it came at a critical time.

Locked in a 1-1 tie in the third period, Evgeny Kuznetsov entered the offensive zone on the right. Ovechkin was in on the rush on the left and cut to the middle as Tom Wilson streaked down the center, drawing the defense down low. With space to shoot, Ovechkin ripped a one-timer from the high-slot to beat goalie Petr Mrazek for what would prove to be the game-winner.

The goal was Ovechkin’s 49th on the season, tying his season total from last year. He now sits just one shy of hitting 50 goals for the eighth time in his career.

A brilliant pass by Kuznetsov

Mrazek had a heck of a game, but he was beaten late in the first period by T.J. Oshie, thanks to a phenomenal pass by Kuznetsov.

The Caps were working the boards in the offensive zone when Carl Hagelin swooped in to grab the loose puck. He passed it back to Kuznetsov, who cut deep into the zone with Brett Pesce tailing him closely. Kuznetsov began to turn as if he was taking the puck behind the net, but just after he passed the goal line, he delivered a backhanded pass just out of the reach of Pesce, through the crease in between Mrazek and Justin Faulk and to the backdoor, where T.J. Oshie was waiting. Oshie shot the one-timer just inside the post past the outstretched Mrazek to give Washington the 1-0 lead.

A sneaky pass by Orlov

John Carlson delivered the knockout punch to the Hurricanes in the third period when he deflected a pass into the net on a play made possible by a fantastic fake by Dmitry Orlov.

Kuznetsov carried the puck to the blue line and Carlson made the switch with him, going to the net. Kuznetsov passed the puck to Orlov, who wound up the stick for the shot…then passed it to the wide-open Carlson, who deflected the puck. The pass was a heads-up play by Orlov, who saw there were a lot of bodies between him and the net but had a wide-open passing lane to Carlson. The pass was a smart play and the fake made it a pretty one.

Evgeny Kuznetsov

After a great start to the season, we have not really seen the dominant Kuznetsov from last year’s playoff run since the first month of the 2018-19 campaign. The bottom line is that the Caps do not go as far in the playoffs as they did without him playing at a superstar level. Now, finally, he is starting to look like that player again.

Kuznetsov recorded an assist on each of Washington’s first three goals. His brilliant pass in the first period set up Oshie’s first goal, and he found Ovechkin cutting to the middle on the second. On the third goal, Kuznetsov was stickhandling in the offensive zone and carried the puck out all the way to the blue line, drawing three Hurricanes with him, which opened up room for Carlson, who went to the net as Kuznetsov came out. Kuznetsov managed to get the puck through to Orlov who passed to the open Carlson using the clear passing lane Kuznetsov had created.