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Minnesota to face Texas Tech in Houston

Minnesota to face Texas Tech in Houston

Minnesota will get another crack at Texas Tech in a bowl game, six years after the Gophers suffered an epic meltdown against the Red Raiders.

The Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston announced Sunday night that Minnesota will face Texas Tech on Dec. 28.

It's the first bowl appearance since 2009 for the Gophers (6-6), who reached the postseason despite winning just two Big Ten games.

``It's a tremendous honor to go to Houston,'' Minnesota coach Jerry Kill said. ``This is a big boost for us.''

Texas Tech (7-5) returns to the postseason after a one-year absence. The Red Raiders dropped their final regular-season game to Baylor in overtime, 52-45, but they beat the likes of West Virginia and TCU and doubled their Big 12 win total from last season.

``The opportunity to play another game in Texas is huge for our team, our fans and for recruiting. Minnesota is a talented football team and we will have our hands full the next couple of weeks in our preparations,'' Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said.

Minnesota and Texas Tech played each other in the 2006 Insight Bowl - when the Gophers blew a 31-point lead and lost 44-41 in OT - but both programs have new coaches.

The Gophers fired coach Glen Mason two days later. Texas Tech hired Tuberville before the 2011 season

Though Minnesota lost three of its last four games and finished tied for last in the Legends Division with Iowa, reaching a bowl will give the rebuilding Gophers 15 extra practices to work in their younger players.

The Gophers will be seeking their first bowl win since they beat Alabama 20-16 in the 2004 Music City Bowl.

``The bowl is important for us (because) No. 1, we recruit the state of Texas. No. 2, it's a high-profile bowl,'' said Kill, who added that he is doing ``great'' after suffering a seizure at halftime of a loss to Michigan State on Nov. 24. ``The exposure the media gives you helps your program.''

The Red Raiders will be making their 35th bowl appearance, third-best among current Big 12 schools. They'll also be playing their fourth straight bowl game in Texas after reaching the Cotton, Alamo and Ticket City bowls before missing out on a bid in 2011.

Texas Tech has played in the Houston-based bowl twice. In 2003, it blasted Navy 38-14.

The Red Raiders are again among the leaders in passing offense, ranking second nationally with 361.9 yards per game. But the Gophers are tough in the secondary, allowing less than half of what the Red Raiders typically rack up through the air.

``I've never seen a conference like the Big 12. You've got to score 50 points to win a game,'' Tuberville said. `It's a conference that's very high-powered. We tried to keep up.''

Big Ten teams are 1-1 in this bowl. Illinois pounded Baylor 38-14 in 2010, and Northwestern fell to Texas A&M last year.

For Minnesota, a victory would be its seventh on the season - one more than it was able to rack up in 2010 and 2011 combined.

``We've been through some hard times,'' said Minnesota senior defensive back Troy Stoudermire, a native of nearby Dallas. ``Coach Kill did a great job getting us back bowl eligible.''

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AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

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Follow Luke Meredith on Twitter athttp://www.twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP

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Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

You know what’s fun? Winning Metropolitan Division titles. 

No, it’s not as good as the big prize. The Capitals will never top their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. But winning a competitive division against their biggest rivals five years in a row? Pretty, pretty good. 

Washington took its fifth in a row officially on Tuesday when the NHL announced that the regular season had concluded thanks to the ongoing coronavirus. The Capitals just outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers with 90 standings points to 89. The difference over 69 games? One extra Caps game going into overtime for a single point. 

Credit to the Flyers for making a late run. No one was playing better in the NHL than Philadelphia just before the season was halted. Whether that carries over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains to be seen. 

But the Capitals should take pride in that streak. It’s hard to do in an age of parity. They play in a division where the Pittsburgh Penguins won two Stanley Cups in the previous four seasons. The two teams slugged it out three times in the second round. That’s the luck of the draw, and so four straight division titles -- and two Presidents’ Trophies -- meant just one Cup for Washington. 

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It’s also rare to dominate a division the way the Capitals have for five years. The Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific Division title every year from 2013 to 2017. Prior to that, the Detroit Red Wings won the Central Division an astounding eight times from 2001 to 2009. It doesn’t get you a championship -- Washington won the expired Southeast Division from 2008 to 2011 -- but it does mean you played great hockey year after year.

And to do it in the reconstituted Patrick Division, where long-time rivals like the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Islanders and Devils joined with newer rivals Carolina and Columbus, makes it even sweeter. Add another banner to the rafters at Capital One Arena. The Caps are the class of the Metropolitan Division yet again. 

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Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

The Washington Nationals decided to use “partial furloughs” to keep their baseball and business employees at work through the end of their contracts or the calendar year.

The road map works like this:

All full-time business and baseball employees will receive a reduction in pay and hours ranging from 10 to 30 percent. If the employee’s contract runs to the end of baseball season -- typically Oct. 31 -- then these parameters apply from now until then. If the employee is not on contract, these reductions persist until Dec. 31.

No full-time employee is being laid off because of the economic impact from coronavirus.

An example: If a person works a 40-hour week, and has the 10 percent reduction in pay and hours, they are down to a 36-hour week at 10 percent pay cut.

The reduction scale slides. The highest-paid employees, like Mike Rizzo, are taking the largest reduction in pay. Then on down the line.

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The Nationals deciding to do this now allows their staff to know what the future holds as opposed to wondering month-to-month what decision the organization will make in regard to their job status.

Major League Baseball organizations remain uneasy about their financial future in 2020 since the season has stalled. The league and its team owners are in the midst of negotiations with the MLBPA while attempting to find a safe, revenue-satisfactory path back to the field.

Meanwhile, teams across the league are assessing their non-player finances, and the approach varies. For instance, the Anaheim Angels decided last week to furlough some non-playing employees.

In Washington, no full-time employee will be laid off because of this salary adjustment.

USA Today was first to report the Nationals’ overall decision.

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