Redskins

Nebraska, Georgia to meet in Jan. 1 Cap One Bowl

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Nebraska, Georgia to meet in Jan. 1 Cap One Bowl

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Georgia and Nebraska are hoping a New Year's trip to Florida will be the perfect place to get over their conference championship game disappointments.

Both teams accepted bids to the Jan. 1 Capital One Bowl on Sunday, just a day after falling in their respective conference championship games.

The Bulldogs (11-2) came up just a few yards short of winning the SEC crown and trip the BCS national championship game Saturday night, losing to defending BCS champion Alabama, 32-28.

``We spent ourselves in a worthy cause,'' Georgia coach Mark Richt said. ``We, of course, wanted to play for a national championship. We knew we were just a few yards or a tipped ball, or however you want to say it away from winning it. It was heartbreaking, no doubt. We were highly hurt by it. ... So you have to kind of get over the heartbreak of that.''

For the Cornhuskers (10-3), their 70-31 loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game might not have had the nail-nibbling heartbreak Georgia endured, but was just as painful. Nebraska is appearing the Capital One Bowl for the second straight season. The Cornhuskers fell 30-13 to South Carolina in last season's matchup. It is their 49th bowl appearance overall.

Coach Bo Pelini said though his team was just in Orlando last postseason, he jumped at the chance to play the highest ranked team not in a BCS bowl.

``I think it's a great opportunity for us,'' Pelini said. ``That's one of the reasons we're excited to be going. Obviously our championship game didn't go the way we wanted to. But it gives us an opportunity to play ... and we're looking forward to the challenge.''

The New Year's Day meeting will mark only the second time Georgia and Nebraska have met. Nebraska defeated the Bulldogs, 45-6, in the 1969 Sun Bowl.

It will also be farewell to former longtime coach and current Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne, who will retire from that position on Jan. 1 as well.

Georgia won the SEC East division title for the second consecutive year. It is making its sixth appearance in the Cap One, having last beaten Michigan State in 2009. This will be the Bulldogs 48th bowl game.

This second matchup between Nebraska and Georgia is expected to be much closer than the first.

Georgia thrived this season offensively behind Tampa, Fla. native and junior quarterback Aaron Murray. He leads the nation in yards per passing attempt (7.8), while throwing for 31 touchdowns.

Defensively the Bulldogs had the SEC's second-ranked pass defense, allowing just 120 yards per game. Linebacker Jarvis Jones has been a big part of that, with 12.5 sacks on the year.

Richt said he thinks the prospect of winning a 12th game will help his team turn the page quickly during bowl practices.

``We've got a bunch of really great seniors that are really great men of character that love the game of football, love playing and playing with their teammates,'' Richt said. ``I don't think it will be that great of a challenge (refocusing), frankly...I think playing Nebraska will get everybody's blood pumping. I don't think it will be an issue. I know our guys want to finish strong.''

The Cornhuskers also have a capable signal caller in junior Taylor Martinez. He is Nebraska's all-time career leader in total offense with more than 9,000 yards.

Martinez has also gotten a lot of support from running backs Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah, a tandem that lead the most productive rushing attack in their conference, averaging 254 yards per game.

Knowing the high-powered rushing attacks that dominate the SEC, Pelini said the team that is able to establish the run Jan. 1 will have the most success in this matchup.

``You give up big rushing yards and it's a recipe for disaster, and I know it was for us'' against Wisconsin, he said. ``That's gonna be an area that both teams are gonna have to sure up and probably an area that both teams try to exploit.''

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Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter athttp://www.twitter.com/khightower .

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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

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USA Today Sports

Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

Yahoo! Sports ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL and Washington Redskins fans may not be too happy with where Jay Gruden ended up.

Entering his fifth year as head coach, Gruden was ranked as the No. 27 head coach in the NFL. Here's Yahoo!'s rationale behind his ranking:

"Four years, one playoff berth, one plus-.500 season, one franchise quarterback run out of town."

All that is ... not false, but the whole franchise quarterback being run out of town thing is at least debatable. And even if the ranking is fair, it's still okay to be upset because it's the middle of July, training camp hasn't started yet and the offseason is the perfect time to get irrationally angry about things like these.

Elsewhere in the NFC, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur checks in at No. 23, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is No. 17 and the Eagles' Doug Pederson is No. 2.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick was ranked No. 1; he may be the greatest of all time when all is said and done, if not already. The top five rounds out with Pederson at No. 2, New Orleans's Sean Payton at No. 3, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer at No. 4 and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin at No. 5.

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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

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USA Today Sports

Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.

GOING DOWN?

Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.

NO HOMERS

Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.