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No. 12 Louisville set to host reeling Temple

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No. 12 Louisville set to host reeling Temple

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville completely dominated Temple the last time the teams met six years ago in Philadelphia - thrashing the Owls 62-0.

The No. 12 Cardinals (8-0, 3-0 Big East Conference) wouldn't mind history repeating itself on Saturday against visiting Temple (3-4, 2-2).

The Cardinals have shown their resilience by rallying to win the past five games but still seek that wire-to-wire performance that they haven't had. Louisville came close in a 35-7 rout of Missouri State seven games ago but that lopsided outcome masked uneven play that continues to be an issue.

The Cardinals would like nothing more than to put together a consistent effort against the Owls and pull even with first-place Rutgers in the Big East standings.

``What's really great is just sitting there undefeated and knowing that you can still really improve,'' Louisville coach Charlie Strong said. ``That's the message to our football team each and every day.''

Louisville players found another more pertinent message in Rutgers' non-conference loss to Kent State: Don't take any opponent lightly. That could especially apply to an Owls team hungry to win after losing their last two contests to Rutgers and Pittsburgh by a combined margin of 82-27.

``Anybody can get beat on any day,'' senior offensive tackle Alex Kupper said. ``It's definitely a reminder - anybody can come in here and beat us or we can go anywhere and beat anybody.''

The Cardinals beat Cincinnati 34-31 last week in overtime. The win kept alive Louisville's title hopes and provided the Cardinals an emotional boost.

Louisville twice rallied from 10-point deficits against the Bearcats, almost overshadowing their season-best 524 yards of offense. Most of that came in the second half as quarterback Teddy Bridgewater passed for two fourth-quarter touchdowns and a career-high 416 yards, earning Big East offensive player of the week honors.

Bridgewater said the most rewarding aspect of his performance was finishing better than he started, especially in what was the Cardinals' most important game to date. They had lost four in a row to their conference rivals and wanted to remain in control of their own destiny.

``I was really pleased with the way I bounced back because I had a slow start but finished the game strong,'' said the sophomore, who ranks second in Big East passing efficiency (163.4) and third in per-game yardage (263.8).

``I don't see a letdown against Temple because they have a fast defense that's difficult and disguises everything.''

Though Louisville has managed to rally to win games all season, the Cardinals would like to avoid those situations. The want to get ahead in a game and stay there.

``We did not play our brand of football'' against Cincinnati, Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said. ``Usually we start fast and we didn't because of the way we started the first couple of series. Once we got on the same page, we took off.

``There's a little attention-getting we have to do, and we don't want to go through that exercise.''

Despite Temple's struggles, the Owls have the Cardinals' attention.

Temple lost 35-10 at Rutgers and was blown out 47-17 last week at Pittsburgh. But the Owls feature the Big East's No. 3 rushing offense at 161.7 yards per game. Temple's ground attack is led by fifth-year senior Montel Harris, who was the Atlantic Coast Conference's career rushing leader at Boston College (3,735 yards) before he transferred to play for the Owls.

Harris has rushed for 463 yards and four touchdowns, ranking third in the conference with a 77.2 per-game average. But he isn't Temple's only weapon. Backfield mate Matt Brown is third in all-purpose yards at 132.7 per game. Quarterback Chris Coyer ranks eighth in Big East total offense (174.9 yards per game) and has eight touchdowns against three interceptions.

The Cardinals say they are not looking past Temple.

``We realize we're on the path and setting goals that this school has never seen before,'' sophomore linebacker Deiontrez Mount said. ``We're very excited, just fighting to stay humble.''

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AP freelance writer Josh Abner contributed to this report.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What happens in Vegas....

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What happens in Vegas....

It's almost here.

After a lengthy break between the conference finals and the Stanley Cup Finals, the Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights are set to meet on Monday for Game 1.

Who will hoist Lord Stanley's Cup?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir give their keys to the series and their predictions for the Stanley Cup Final. Plus, JJ speaks with several member from the local media to get their insights and predictions.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Need to Know: A look at the Redskins' key 2019 free agents

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Need to Know: A look at the Redskins' key 2019 free agents

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 27, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Here is my sunrise view from this morning:

Looking at next year’s free agents

This post was originally published on March 18. 

There is still work that the Redskins can do in free agency and they still have some of their own players they want to retain. But with a lot of the player movement already in the books, we can take a look forward some of the key Redskin who currently are set to be free agents when the 2019 league year opens. 

QB Colt McCoy (Week 1 age 32)—Lots of questions here. Will the Redskins want to keep him around for another year as Alex Smith’s backup? Or will they want a younger and cheaper backup? Will McCoy want to move on rather than back up another QB who doesn’t miss many games?

OL Ty Nsekhe (32)—The Redskins gave him a second-round restricted free agent tender this year so it’s possible that he could be gone or on a long-term contract in Washington. If he is a free agent, his value and the difficulty of retaining him could depend on if he ends the season as a reserve tackle (easy) or as a starting guard (hard). 

OLB Preston Smith (25)—As we saw with Trent Murphy (three years, $21 million with up to $30 million), pass rushers get paid. Smith also makes big plays. Since Smith came into the NFL, he is the only player with at least 20 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles. If the Redskins can’t reach a deal on an extension with him this year the franchise tag is a distinct possibility. 

WR Jamison Crowder (25)—This year the supply of quality receivers both as free agents and in the draft sent contract prices skyrocketing. To guard against that happening next year, the Redskin should start talking to Crowder about an extension soon. 

ILB Zach Vigil (27)—As I noted here, Vigil went from being cut in September to a very valuable reserve in November. Both Zach Brown and Mason Foster will still be under contract, but the Redskin still should make an effort to retain Vigil for special teams and as a capable backup. 

Other Redskins who are slated to be UFA’s next year are DL Ziggy Hood and ILB Martrell Spaight. 

It’s also worth noting that WR Maurice Harris and DE Anthony Lanier will both be restricted free agents next year. Both positions were pricey in free agency this year, so both could require at least second-round tenders, which likely will increase to about $3 million in 2019. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler