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Michigan State ends season with another close one

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Michigan State ends season with another close one

Michigan State finished one game over .500 after winning its final game by one point.

It was an appropriate ending to a season full of close victories and excruciating defeats.

The Spartans played nine games decided by four points or fewer, including their first seven in Big Ten play. They ended on a high note Saturday night with a 17-16 win over TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, but the offseason will bring plenty of questions for a team that just a few months ago was hoping to make a run at a conference title.

``We stayed composed all the way through to the end,'' coach Mark Dantonio said. ``We won against Wisconsin very close. We won against Boise (State) very close. So our guys have won. It's just that sometimes when you lose, it sort of gets magnified for all of us.''

After coming within an eyelash of the Rose Bowl the previous two seasons, Michigan State needed to replace quarterback Kirk Cousins in 2012. Andrew Maxwell became the starter, but in the bowl he ended up splitting time with Connor Cook.

So that may be the first talking point after a 7-6 season. Maxwell has another year of eligibility, but it was Cook, a redshirt freshman, who directed the drive that led to the winning field goal Saturday.

``I don't want to slight anybody, say, `This guy is the new quarterback.' There's a lot of colleges across the country that play two quarterbacks or play guys situationally,'' Dantonio said. ``We just felt like we wanted to play a redshirt freshman and get him some reps in a bowl game. He had enough time to prepare and we wanted to see what he could do. He did well so we used him the second half, too.''

With the passing game in flux, the Spartans relied heavily on running back Le'Veon Bell. He ended up with 1,793 yards on a whopping 382 carries.

Now, Michigan State waits for Bell to announce whether he'll turn pro or come back for his senior year.

``I want to make sure I do things the right way, talk to my family about it, the players and coaches about it,'' Bell said. ``Make sure I get output from everybody and see what everybody thinks.''

The Spartans were hoping they could grind their way to a league championship behind Bell and a stout defense. The result was an unusual number of games that came down to the final minutes.

A 17-13 victory over Boise State in the opener was a nice start, but Michigan State lost 17-16 at home to Ohio State in its first Big Ten game.

After a four-point victory over Indiana, the Spartans lost to Iowa 19-16 in double-overtime. The following week, Michigan State's four-game winning streak over rival Michigan was snapped on a last-second field goal.

In November, Nebraska dealt Michigan State a crushing loss on a touchdown with 6 seconds remaining.

But the bowl at least enabled the Spartans to finish on a high note. Michigan State trailed 13-0 after a listless first half, but Cook threw a touchdown pass in the third quarter and Bell ran for a score in the fourth.

A long field goal put the Horned Frogs up 16-14, but there was enough time for Cook and the Spartans to win their final close game of the year.

``We're a team that we can lose to Iowa in the fourth quarter and bounce back the next week and play the whole four quarters. ... That's a testament to the guys we've got here, the leadership inside the locker room, all the way on up,'' linebacker Max Bullough said. ``There's no doubt in my mind, even with how many losses we've had this year, we're going to come out on top. That's the kind of confidence we have in each other and the kind of confidence I have in my teammates.''

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Possible playoff opponents for the Capitals are starting to come into focus

Possible playoff opponents for the Capitals are starting to come into focus

With their 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, the Capitals' playoff future is starting to come into focus. Washington has only one game remaining and can finish in either third or fourth in the round robin standings. That limits the number of possible playoff opponents for the Caps when the games really start to matter.

First, before talking about who the Caps may play, it is important to remember why. Under the NHL's regular format, a normal year would see teams advance in a bracket, meaning each team knows going in they will be playing the winner of a specific matchup if they advance. This year, the NHL is going back to its old format of re-seeding after each round. This makes determining matchups a bit harder to figure out.

Here's what we know. The Caps are going to finish in the bottom half of the round robin meaning they will play one of the highest two seeded teams coming out of the qualifying round. The Carolina Hurricanes swept their qualifying round series against the New York Rangers. As the No. 6 seed coming in, Carolina is going to be one of the top two qualifying round teams.

RELATED: DEFENSIVE BREAKDOWNS AND MORE FROM CAPS LOSS TO FLYERS

Washington's final seed will be determined by Sunday's game against the Boston Bruins. A win in regulation, overtime or a shootout will mean the Caps are No. 3, while a loss in any fashion will bump them down to No. 4.

The simplest scenario for Washington is that If the Pittsburgh Penguins rally to win their series against the Montreal Canadiens, the Caps are guaranteed to play either Pittsburgh or Carolina as the No. 5 and 6 seeds, respectively. It gets a little trickier if the Penguins lose. If that happens, the Hurricanes become the top qualifying team and will play No. 4. The top team behind them then becomes No. 6 which, as of now, could be the New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs or the Columbus Blue Jackets.

So a rematch with the Hurricanes is a definite possibility for the Caps, as is a matchup with the rival Penguins.

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Report: Derrius Guice's attorney denies client's domestic abuse allegations

Report: Derrius Guice's attorney denies client's domestic abuse allegations

Derrius Guice's representation has released a statement that says the Washington Football Team running back "adamantly denies" the charges that he was arrested for on Friday

Guice turned himself into the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office facing one count of strangulation, three counts of assault and battery, and one count destruction of property.

The following statement from Peter Greenspun was obtained by Ben Standig of The Athletic. 

"Mr. Guice will not be commenting on these charges, which he adamantly denies. We ask that the media respect Mr. Guice's privacy," the statement read. 

"Unfortunately, the investigators did not seek a statement or any input for Derrius before the warrants were issued. The failure to fully investigate allegations of events, which allegedly took place months ago is inexplicable."

Greenspun, who has a historic career and most notably was a defense attorney in the 'D.C. Sniper trial,' called the charges of his client "unsubstantiated." He also called out the football franchise for releasing Guice prematurely without inquiring about the investigation. 

"... a full vetting of the allegations will take place, in contrast to actions by local law enforcement and the Washington Football Team that assumed the worst, directly contradicting every sense of fairness and due process," the statement concluded.

The Washington Football Team released Guice less than an hour after his arrest became public. The move came through as a part of the culture Ron Rivera has vowed to instill during his first few months as head coach. This is also not the first time Guice has faced issues for off-the-field behavior. He fell to the team back in the 2018 draft due to issues he had while with LSU.

In his short tenure, Rivera has dealt with a tumultuous series of issues arising from the franchise including current and former players facing other serious allegations, a monumental name change, and serious allegations of the culture within the team's executives.

Despite injuries mounting in two years for the 23-year-old back, it was expected that Guice would become the leading rusher in the backfield this season. Still, he had yet to prove to be a consistent contributor with only 42 carries for 245 yards and two touchdowns entering his third season.

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