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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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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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